June 30, 2002

Various & Sundry
My summer resolution: instead of eating two big meals each day, I'll eat lots of big meals each day.

Am I being legalistic if I worry if I’m too legalistic?

Nothing is more attractive than other people’s humility.

Heaven is...turning on C-Span and finding yourself at the beginning of an hour long interview with William F. Buckley. Bank error in my favor.

The best Catholic magazine on the market: Crisis. Couldn't put down the latest issue.

June 29, 2002

The unbearable lightness of riding, 2 hours, drunk on sunshine. Found that elusive ‘perfect’ rural road, that rarest of beings in urban Ohio. How difficult to retrieve from its obscurity! To the end of a seven-mile bike path, then veered off and went miles down a semi-country road until there it lay like a perfect jewel in the sun. I knew it immediately. I knew it as if by some sort of muscle memory - here was the road of perfection. I turned and followed it for three blessed miles, passed by only one car, a road capable of summoning songs shot through with nostalgia. Unbidden came “Oklahoma!”, and it was an “Oklahoma” moment, a corny moment, a moment those ordered fields stretched out to infinity, the soil roiling in the midday heat with Norman Rockwell farms scattered here and fro, silo’s strong and silent and seeming permanent, giving mute voice to a purity lost. I felt I was moving in the Mojave desert - so desolate and dry and sunny it was - but I was surrounded by new-born green fields and an occasional ancient oak. Here you can see the whole evolution of civilization - from thick forest to meadow clearing to farm to small town. You take Manhattan. I’ll take dusty Midwestern fields and old red barns under an unbending sun.
Advice received concerning on the Summas
The two works have different purposes. The Summa Theologiae was written for Catholics, especially for beginning theologians who have a solid grounding in the philosophy of Aristotle. The Summa Contra Gentiles was written earlier and is dlirected towards convincing Jews, Muslims, and heretics of the truth of the Catholic Faith. There is a lot of interlap between the two works, but you'll find that the same subject is often approached in a slightly different manner because of the different purpose. Also, I found that the Summa Contra Gentiles is more difficult in some places. For example, in the proofs of the existence of God, if you compare the two works you will find that the Summa Contra Gentiles is wordier and more involved--in the Summa Theologiae he has really cleaned up the arguments and has done away with superfluities or questionable premises.

: I think a better introduction to St. Thomas would be any of his works on the Scripture--there is no comparison to his commentaries, and they are more accessible than the Summas. Also his Catechetical Instructions (There's a beautiful volume being published by Roman Catholic Books) are an excellent beginning and reflect his thought in the Summa, but they were written as sermons, so they are much more accessible than the works written for students of theology. - Reb

June 28, 2002

The link for the Cardinal Ratzinger mug is working now. If I buy it I'll have to hide it from my evangelical wife. (Apologetic discussions tend to provoke more heat than light; we emphasize our common beliefs rather than differences). Some men hide porn, I hide Karl Keating and Hilare "bellicose" Belloc.

June 27, 2002

Re: Amy's site - It beggars the imagination that people should be surprised that on a Catholic blog there is criticism of St. Rudy of New York, the former mayor. If it follows that most of Amy's readers are Catholic, then you would think that it follows that they believe that abortion is wrong, i.e. murder. So how is it that we are supposed to take in the disconnect that we should celebrate and/or vote from someone who is pro-choice but would provide us better gov't? Should we trade a tax cut and lower crime for the greater crime of abortion?

I think it must be that whole East coast Catholic versus Midwest Catholic difference. East coasters have no problem with the Mario Cuomo and Teddy Kennedy. The Midwesterner is somewhat more likely to vote pro-life (witness the current two Ohio senators). Ultimately, of course, it won't be solved by politics anyway. It's a heart issue; a matter of conversion. It's easy to get discouraged when half of Catholics vote for Clinton. Amy Welborn's pretty orthodox, so you would expect an orthodox audience. So when even she is getting snarked for linking to an anti-Rudy article, then I think, damn, what hope have we. We've lost our saltiness, this correspondent most definitely included. I continually forget what T.S. Eliot wrote:

There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

June 26, 2002

Nancy Nall blogged an interesting piece on the Amish and on an article from the Fort Wayne newspaper.

Granted the Amish are prejudiced and ill-educated, but aren't they also an experiment of life before TV? Shouldn't they be different because of that (besides just being superstitious & prejudiced?). Everyone says TV and movies have altered us; shouldn't they have longer attention spans at the very least? Seemingly affected by neither Nietsche or TV (but automobile's, yes) the Amish could be a test of Jonah Goldberg's thesis.

I remember years ago on my first visit to Berlin, Ohio seeing a beer can near one of their fields and being *shocked*. I shouldn't have been. Not that beer is a specifically American thing, but our culture is so dominating and so assimilating that I should rather be surprised when any of us put up the least resistance to it. I recently finished "Crossing Over: An Exodus from Amish Life" by Ruth Garrett and she talks about the massive switch of going from full-body covering to buying lingerie at Victoria Secret. Sadly, the book barely touches on her sudden exposure to movies and television and what effect they had on her if any (she loves movies though initially by the violence).
"We look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal." - 2 Cor 4:18
Robert Bauer of Hokie Pundit asks if we can be Christian and follow the American dream. He says: "To my Protestant sensibilities, it seems as if you're saying "um, so long as we don't kill anyone and put our $5 in the plate every week, it's all good." Also, if I'm understanding him correctly, he's asking why all Christians don't give up all their money and become missionaries because Jesus and the disciples lived a pretty austere life, and were told to even reject their families. Several times they went out as beggars with only one tunic apiece.

I wade into these murky and dangerous shoals by saying my take on it is that first and foremost we are radically damaged due to original sin. Damaged beyond belief. And so therefore we start life in a huge hole but have the ability, via baptism, to receive grace. Now just as Jesus healed sometimes very quickly and sometimes more slowly (witness the man whose blindness gradually dissipated), so does our growth via grace sometimes move fast, sometimes slow.

The point is that we don't heal ourselves. We don't say to God, "I'm going to be a Mother Teresa" and move to Calcutta. Rather God says to us, "you're going to be a Mother Teresa..." Why? Because a) maybe that is not God's plan for us (i.e. bloom where you are planted) and b) we can't manufacture the grace necessary for that tremendous sacrifice. That has to come from Him. Just as priestly celibacy is possible only from Him. Someone who doesn't have a vocation to the priesthood and yet attempts celibacy...well..you see the results.

All of this is hopefully not an excuse for our laziness and/or sin. And the danger, of course, is more likely that we will miss God's call than we will volunteer for something God hasn't called us to - but the point is that it imprudent to do something 'heroic' (that might have more to do with our self-glorification than His) without his backing.
"Story of a Soul" by St. Therese of Liesux makes the point that little things mean a lot to God.

Also, don't we, in a sense, test or tempt God if we put ourselves in a situation that demands his grace? Does the Christian scientist who refuses medical help to their child because they prefer to rely on God's help not error from a lack of prudence? Is that different from someone who, without perceiving a definite call from God, gives away all their money?

I may sound dogmatic here, and I don't mean to. I'm still trying to sort it all out. I do agree that we are called to much more than $5 in the plate and to not kill. But that's where "Story of the Soul" is so powerful because it convincingly argues that when we hold our tongue instead of criticizing someone at work or refrain from talking behind someone's back those are little acts of praise that sound large in heaven.

Obligatory Disclaimer: As Bill O'Reilly says, "tell me where I'm going wrong". It's very possible I am dead wrong about all this and should hie me to a monastery and wear a hairshirt. In fact, I have a feeling Dorothy Day would disagree...

June 25, 2002

Catholic blogger email on seeing saints 'in context':
I mean to write about that someday. What are the limits? Of course we can't judge people of the past according to our own standards. That's ahistorical and unfair. But then what happens? If we rationalize OT violence, or the violence of the Crusades (I know, I know... a small part of an extended war between Islam and the West which Islam came very close to winning) or the Inquisition or the forced baptisms of untold natives from the Gauls to Native Americans, why not rationalize contemporary sexual laxness? Why not say..well...you gotta see it all IN CONTEXT of a sexually permissive culture, so that means it's all okay.

And in a sense it is, I guess...to the extent that the culture defines us, we're less culpable for our failure to live up to the ideals of Christ...but it doesn't make any of it okay, and it doesn't make any of it a reason for celebration...right?
From Amy' s site, excerpted letter from Cyprian: "Considering His love and mercy, we ought not to be so bitter, nor cruel, nor inhuman in cherishing the brethren. Lo! a wounded brother lies stricken by the enemy in the field of battle. There the devil is striving to slay him whom he has wounded; here Christ is exhorting that he whom He has redeemed may not wholly perish. Whether of the two do we assist?"
Merton is the pluperfect opposite of a fundamentalist and the study of extremes is interesting. The health & wealth, smiley-faced Christianity with its allergy to the idea of anyone but Christians will be saved is at one end, and Merton's flirtation with Eastern religions and disgruntled, independent demeanour is at the other...Merton loathes those who subscribe to any sort of Catholic sacramental "magic". I just finished a book about the Amish, and all is not as it appears (surprise). The idyllic privitism and purity some picture just ain't so.
Email response:
I know - Merton had an independent, critical spirit, which I'm sure he hoped the monastery would help mold and even..overcome. He went in some interesting directions at the end of his life, that's for sure.
I'm reading Thomas Merton's last journals ('67-68) and it is positively purgatorial. It's hard to endure the juxtaposition of his early, inspiring work The Seven Storey Mountain and his last journals. They are certainly honest. And so what if he's not a saint? Just because you are a monk (or bishop) doesn't make you better than anyone else. Merton comes off as an Edward Abbey - crabby, nature-loving, beer & bourbon drinking, hater of America, etc...Maybe all heroes have feet of clay and I should get over it. It's certainly a familiar pattern - the bright-eyed, idealistic youth moving towards a cynical, curmugeonly older age.

Merton on his monastery: "Is this institution worth preserving? Maybe - but let someone do it who do it who knows how and is interested. Not me!"

June 24, 2002

Veni Sancte has a very interesting post on 1968, the year of the Church's Maginot line (i.e. Humane Vitae). He says that "The teaching of the Church is shaped by human experience and human experience is shaped by the teaching of the Church. What happens when the circuit is disrupted? Especially difficult is finding the source of the disruption. The teaching Church is blaming the learning Church and the learning Church is blaming the teaching Church. If history is any guide, I would place my money on the learning Church as coming out ahead. When the learners are telling the teachers that what they are teaching is not the learners’ experience of human existence, nothing can be taught."

But I don't think the learning Church is protected from error. And therein lies the difference. The teaching Church has no choice in teaching that contraception is an evil, if she believes it to be so, regardless of what the learning church thinks or "experiences". The choice in how hard to crackdown is whether or not the Church wishes to risk becoming a remnant, like the Amish. And in these days when bishops act like CEOs, one senses they won't take that path. And so we will probably continue to muddle through with an increasingly polarized Church.

Interestingly, Islam & Mormonism are two fast growing religions that have in common they ask a lot from their adherents. The perfect way to marginalize oneself as a Church is to be weak and capitulate and ask nothing...(Jesus must've understood this in asking that we become perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect). Mormons, of course, are expected to do two years of missionary work and fast from caffeine, alcohol, etc...Muslims are expected to pray five times a day and fast one month a year. So I don't quite understand why Humane Vitae should've been the lightening rod it has become in the sense that practicing it be considered so unreasonable. My wife and I use NFP and don't find it unduly burdensome.

Perhaps the point is that American Catholics find an undemocratic Church a scandal in of and itself. Democracy is in our very blood now; dissent as natural as breathing. Tocqueville wrote in 'Democracy in America': Two things must here be accurately distinguished: equality makes men want to form their own opinions; but, on the other hand, it imbues them with the taste and the idea of unity, simplicity, and impartiality in the power that governs society. Men living in democratic times are therefore very prone to shake off all religious authority; but if they consent to subject themselves to any authority of this kind, they choose at least that it should be single and uniform."

My mother experienced the confusion in 1968, and the confusion was born mostly because the authority became fractured and no longer uniform. She went to a priest to confess her use of birth control and the priest told her, "it's okay, that's not really a sin". This disconnect was what turned her off. In the next sentence Tocqueville writes that "Religious powers not radiating from a common center are naturally repugnant to their minds." It was at this point my mom became of the "learning Church" and dissented from the teaching of Humane Vitae. The tendency in a democracy is to hold one's own opinion as gospel, unless there is a single, uniform authority. And because that authority was fractured in 1968, by dissenting priests and even bishops, we are still suffering the consequences.
Cranky Professor brings back pleasant memories of Rome...(Fade to flashback music)...I've this vivid memory of the pushy Italian nuns at St. Peter's who formed an impentetrable line for Communion making it difficult to merge...Instead of waiting for the rows ahead of them to empty, they came up from rows back. Charitably, we chalked it up to their great hunger for the Eucharist..

We searched for our grail, the little French restaurant run by lay missionaires called "l' eau Vive" where the cardinals of the church party and where, after dinner, comes the ritual singing of Ave Maria in French, sung in such sweet and childlike tones that the hair on your skin stands up. We found the little restaurant, where JPII frequented before his papal promotion and where discreteness is the word, but not easily. I ask various people where "Le Monterone" is...A policeman knows but isn't telling, another local tells but doesn't know. The pleasure of looking and finding was greater, and it is that little area of Rome I consequently remember most - the little café Le Euastochio where big shots sip cappuchino, where religious shops line the square like a geiger counters triggering the nearness of the eccleciastical restaurant.

One night in Rome venturing out after a couple glasses of wine (the in-room refrigerator had provided the wine at no immediate cost other than my signature on a sheet of paper), I walked in the light rain to a new (i.e. hundred year old) church. I peaked inside it's slightly ajar doors, and inside were the comforting images of saints. I stealthily moved in and saw that some sort of singing practice was going on. The language barrier being such, I could make out nothing of their sounds; it was completely opaque. I felt like a voyeur, an outsider, and lurked in the shadows. A man in his late 40s, with a look of annoyance, began the long trek down the aisle. Reading body language, I scattered. I bolted out the door, delighted that I'd provoked a response, and then observered from a distance as the man looked left and right and left again, and then closed the church doors completely. I was on vacation, and if I could enter the locals lives, even in a perfectly annoying way, then at least I was impacting.
Interesting blog from Eve Tushnet on "How one becomes what one is".
Another from the NY Times:
Contrary to all appearances, Catherine Millet considers herself no libertine. Being French and an intellectual, however, she has a particularly precise definition of that term. "I don't think I am a libertine in the literary, 18th-century sense of the word," said the 54-year-old author of "The Sexual Life of Catherine M.," a surprisingly dry memoir, given its clinically detailed descriptions of group sex and seemingly innumerable affairs energetically pursued over the course of two decades by Ms. Millet.

Yet her own conclusions about sex are much more mundane. "For a long time, people said that procreation was the point of sex," she said. "Today people tend to think that the point of sex is pleasure, orgasm. But sincerely, I don't think there's any point to sex at all. People think there's some secret they'll discover in that black box of sex, which will help them to live better or make them happy. And in fact there's nothing, nothing, nothing there at all."


Re: that last paragraph. Isn't this the perfect mirror of our whole materialistic mindsight? It reminds me of someone who has studied biochemistry and de-mystified the body - it's just cells....there's no soul there....She went about her "research" in the most clinical, empirical way imaginable and came up empty. What a great metaphor for modernity.

June 23, 2002

NY Times piece on work:
 I happened on one of those online lists showing which wire-service articles have been e-mailed most frequently. The leader of the pack, by a great margin, was a Reuters article headlined ''Boring, Passive Work May Hasten Death: Study.'' In the prior six hours, it had been e-mailed 870 times....Apparently a nation of people sitting at their desks and avoiding whatever simple operations they are supposed to be performing found a certain resonance in the idea that, as the study put it, ''the meaningfulness of work may be an important contributor to the mortality experience.'

June 22, 2002

Thoroughly enjoyed my birthday celebration at Mecklenburg Garden’s Restaurant in downtown (and I do mean downtown) Cincinnati. Set amid tenement buildings and urban color, we survived the walk into Mecklenburgs without incident. The restaurant oozed a sort of tangible Germanness, though it might’ve been my imagination since it didn’t exactly have an apostolic line of succession – i.e. there were breaks when it was something other than a German restaurant. But it didn’t matter, since we enjoyed tremendously good food and company. I chose the beer with the most syllables, as good an indicator of a great beer as any other for any beer company confident enough to call themselves“Fahrenesbruder Dunkel Scheinheimer Bier” (or whatever it was) must be good. After all, by the time you get done saying the name you could’ve had a Bud Light. But the beer lived up to its name. As did the steak. And dessert. Ohhhhh..! St. Thomas wrote that “bodily pleasures are often more intense than intellectual pleasures, but they are not so great or so lasting” and that is true, but surely doesn’t mean we should ignore the God-given bodily ones.

June 21, 2002

My wife's professor (at a Catholic college) said that St. Thomas Aquinas 'hated women'. News to me. One 'example' she used is when he chased a prostitute around the room with a hot poker (a prostitute provided by his parents to try to prevent him from becoming a Dominican). Michael Novak says no
Self-indulgent Bloggin' Exhibitionism is Out....(bummer)
Sayeth Eve Tushnet:
The final nifty characteristic of blogs that I discussed was the personal nature of the writing. Now, this can be either a bug or a feature. It is just creepy to detail every moment of your life, or worse yet, to air your dirty laundry in public--who is reading your site? Why are you writing it? I think last night I sounded more critical of personal-life blogs than I really am--when they're funny, their appeal is pretty much the same as Dave Barry's. But there are some blogs that really do suffer from exhibitionism, and that's lame.

"But Momma, that's where the fun is..." - Manfred Mann's 'Blinded by the Light'

"One of America's specific problems is fame and glory... partly on account of its extreme vulgarization. In this country, it is not the highest virtue, nor the heroic act, that achieves fame, but the uncommon nature of the least significant destiny. There is plenty [of fame] for everyone, then, since the more conformist the system as a whole becomes, the more millions of individuals there are who are set apart by some tiny pecularity." - Jean Baudrillard

June 20, 2002

Matt Labash in The Weekly Standard (re: Walker Percy & Bourbon)
"Make no mistake, I have nothing against wine. When I visit my wife's relatives in Tuscany, I drink their Brunello with an urgency that could be better addressed by an intravenous drip bag. Likewise, I have no quarrel with beer. These six-pack abs didn't build themselves. They're imported--from Milwaukee.

[But] a good bourbon is the ideal slow-and-steady pick-me-up. Bourbon is the spirit most likely to put you in an easy sipping rhythm with all its attendant benefits: the relaxation and conviviality, the brief waylay in that magically lucid state that resides somewhere between stone-cold sobriety and intoxication.

Walker Percy was a seminal bourbon fan for whom drinking Scotch was akin to "looking at a picture of Noel Coward," a whiskey he said assaulted the senses "with all the excitement of paregoric." Thus he advocated bourbon's analgesic benefits to help Joe Suburbia cope with existential questions such as, "Is this it? Listening to Cronkite and the grass growing?"

Lest one think Percy was an unrepentant lush, he added: "If I should appear to be suggesting that such a man proceed as quickly as possible to anesthetize his cerebral cortex by ingesting ethyl alcohol, the point is being missed. Or part of the point. The joy of bourbon drinking is not the pharmacological effect of C(2)H(2)OH on the cortex, but rather the instant of the whiskey being knocked back and the little explosion of Kentucky U.S.A. sunshine in the cavity of the nasopharynx and the hot bosky bite of Tennessee summertime--aesthetic considerations to which the effect of alcohol is, if not dispensable, at least secondary." Link

"Omar Khayyam's wine-bibbing is bad, not because it is wine-bibbing. It is bad, and very bad, because it is medical wine-bibbing. It is the drinking of a man who drinks because he is not happy. ... He feasts because life is not joyful; he revels because he is not glad." GK Chesterton more here
Christianity is the only religion which has ever united in a common faith, equally clear, complete, and steadfast the common people and philosophers, the ignorant and the learned. It affords a singular phenomenon in the annals of humanity. - "Causes and Cures of Unbelief" by James Cardinal Gibbon
St. (Padre) Pio said that he was just "a monk who prayed" and that prayer is our only weapon....St. Therese on that subject courtesy Amy Welborn.

Our Dominican priest had much to say last night on the OT/NT connections..
1) Cain offered God 'the fruits of the earth' - i.e. bread and wine - which God rejected. Abel offered the perfect sacrifice (unblemished lamb), acceptable to God. We re-enact this when we go to Mass, admitting we are Cains by bringing up at the Offertory the fruits of the earth, but after the Consecration we offer the unblemished Lamb (Christ). If the Eucharist is just a symbol (i.e. bread and wine) then we are offering what God rejected in the OT.
2) In the OT, the image of the serpent healed the snakebit. In the NT, Jesus in the form of man, "made sin for us", heals us.
3) John's gospel promises that God will teach us the Scriptures. There is great freedom in the gospels. "But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25) The catechism exists as boundary, to warn us from areas the Church has proven not to be fruitful.

Abel's blood "cried out for vengeance" while Christ's blood cries out for mercy.

June 19, 2002

A young life on the front lines of love and sex...a poignant blog entry.
Charity is the queen of virtues. As the pearls are held together by the thread, thus the virtues are held together by charity; as the pearls fall when the thread breaks, thus virtues are lost if charity diminishes.- St. Padre Pio

Saturday is St. Thomas More's feast day as well as my birthday. Since my actual first name is Thomas, I have a special affinity for this great saint. Between the apostle, Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More, it's an embarrassment of riches.
The nice thing about blogs is they don't just give you a chance to write, i.e. exercise the right side of your brain, you can also do it with the presentation....Hence the search for the perfect template never ends. Note the new art feature, stage left. Hopefully it won't affect load time too badly, if so let me know.

Let Us Now Praise Famous Blogs
Look at Emily's blog will ya? Is this not full of order, harmonious, easy on the eyes? Is this not what I am looking for in my life? The pacific blue and links-in-boxes inspire me to clean out my closet or something.

Check out the gothic look of this blog. Celtic cross & all and he's not even Catholic. Oliver Cromwell is spinning in his grave (I just saw the movie Oliver Cromwell starring Richard Harris by the way).

I like this page of Louder Fenn's. Tolle lege indeed. You don't have to tell this bibliophile twice.

Thanks to Veni Sanctespiritus and Lively Writer for the link to this blog.

Most honest blogger award goes to Joyce Garcia of Holy Weblog! fame. Her FAQ section is a hoot and contains the bawdy "Show us your hits". My, my.
Recent neuroscientific findings link the brain's frontal cortex - larger in humans than in animals - to inhibition, the ability to control impulses. It's this capacity for mental restraint that makes us uniquely responsible for what we do. The difference between 'is' and 'ought' is one only we can understand. Humans alone create a moral world. -
Marc Hauser [author of "Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think"]

June 18, 2002

Old but good stuff from Jonah Goldberg of NRO fame:

There is a split in the ranks of intellectuals about how much ideas affect culture versus how much impersonal events affect it. Did society become secular, self-indulgent, morally subjective, etc., because Nietszche & Co. introduced a bunch of bad ideas? Or did society become all of those things because material prosperity, education, birth control, the automobile, etc., made such changes inevitable? To some extent it's a bit of a nature-versus-nurture argument, in that everybody agrees there's at least some of both going on.

But most of the time, conservatives ignore the fact that the automobile did as much to destabilize communities as rock and roll or Allen Ginsberg. The problem is that it's very difficult to argue with the car — but it is not only easy, it's fun to argue with hippy-dippy beatniks. Intellectuals like to fight ideas, not gadgets. This is especially true of conservatives, since we favor individual liberty and economic freedom; in a free-enterprise system, there's no acceptable policy position against the walkman or the cellular phone. There are plenty of people on the Left who want to ban cigarettes, certain foods, even the automobile. On the Right, we may entertain censorship of ideas (as does the Left; the difference is, we're just too dumb to lie about it) but censoring innovation is strictly and rightly verboten.

Unfortunately, we can focus so much on the perfidy of ideas we convince ourselves that if we can just prove to the world why these ideas are bad, everything will be fine. It's like the guy who looks for his lost car keys under the street lamp because the light is better there; academic nihilism may not be the chief cause of moral decay, but we can see things clearly there, so that's where we do the fighting.

Leaving aside the well-documented stubborn refusal of millions of people to let go of their bad ideas, culture is not just a collection of ideas. Almost every custom and tradition anywhere in the world — from the use of cutlery to burying our dead to the languages we speak — was begun out of some practical necessity. (Go read Hayek if you want a smart person to explain all that.)

Anyway, the point is that technology changes the times we live in but it doesn't change human nature (at least not yet). One of the challenges, today more than ever, is the need to recognize the problems which come from convenience. For example, many college kids today — and maybe even more journalists — think that if something isn't on the web, it doesn't exist. The truth is that the web excludes vastly more information than it includes. But because it is easy to use, we rely on it. This may be the greatest instance of socially imposed amnesia since the Russian Revolution, or the revolts of the iconoclasts or the Luddites. It is certainly the most successful one. At the same time, we think that simply because the web makes something easier to do, it means we should do it.

Think of it this way: Hard work leads to character. There isn't a person in the world who's written on the topic who doesn't say something like that. Now imagine if you could take a pill that would automatically make you very smart and in perfect physical shape overnight. Intelligence and physical strength used to be well-recognized by-products of character building. With the pill, there's no building — just the final product. That pill would be more dangerous to a virtuous society than any "if it feels good do it" doctrine coming out of Brown University.

June 17, 2002

C.S. Lewis wrote about "a particular recurrent experience which dominated my childhood," a kind of "intense longing which...is acute and even painful..yet the mere wanting of it is somehow a delight." Unlike other desires, Lewis says, which "are felt as pleasures only if satisfaction is expected in the near future," this desire contines to be prized, "and even to be preferred...even when there is no hope of possible satisfaction...this desire is so unusual because it cuts across our ordinary distinctions between longing and having."

I felt this too - I used to think it somehow unique or rare - but in adulthood I shrugged it off as some kind of inchoate pre-pubescent sexual longing...I like Lewis' description.

June 15, 2002

A Friend's Conversion Story
“There was something raw about the images of women in Walker Percy's "Thanatos" that I liked perhaps a little too much. The first time I read "Love in the Ruins" (early '80's) I was a devout agnostic. As a recent convert to Catholicism (less than a year ago) I can say, without giving anything away, that it struck me *completely* differently when I recently reread it...

There was no defining moment, where the scales fell from my eyes and golden rays of enlightenment shone through newly opened doors of perception.... it was much more mundane than that. I have reconciled (finally) the idea that you (I mean I) could distinguish what you believe from what you can prove to be true. There's that Freethinker element, which rejects authority and dogma in favor of rational inquiry and speculation, and which traditionally has had way too loud a voice in the old mental committee...
Which is kind of why I stress the strict definition of agnosticism, which merely holds that you simply can't "Know", but you can still believe. My fiancee, who has been Catholic her whole life, invited me to attend mass a couple of years ago, and "yikes!" I found it enriching. As it continues to be... When I went through RCIA classes a year ago I had many rewarding conversations with a deacon from the Josephinum (now he's a priest in KC, Kansas) about how the Catholic Church reconciles and makes amends for its sometimes distasteful history. Still learning, -JD”
Journal du jour

A weekend feature of more or less random journal entries from the past four years....in lieu of fresh writing:

06/21/00
Slipping into the glove of the summer equinox, a low-rider house reminds me of the houses on Capri, or those squat against the Florida sun with the brine smell of the near-ocean...then comes the clean smell of the laundry detergent at the Estero Laundrymat, proof that even in Paradise they have to clean clothes…

Meandered past houses that shone in the escaping natural light with preternaturally clipped grasses that soothe and relax, as order always does. Death, taxes, and Perot’s short-clipped never-out-of-place hair. The grass does not extrude an inch upon the sidewalk - are their lives so orderded or is this compensation for disordered lives? I’d love a lawn and garden worthy of such meditation, but too often the time spent meditating on its glory is a small fraction of the time spent accomplishing that condition.

07/03/01
After a few sundry raindrops, I continued for a visit to Ohio Village. A bit farther back in time I went, first the 1940s era exhibit inside the Historical society, followed by an outside visit to the old buildings and a patriotic speeches by guys dressed in period clothes. A horse-drawn carriage came by a very fast rate of speed and and I idly imagined the headlines if lawsuits weren't the issue:

Pedestrian Killed by Horse-drawn Carriage at Historical Society
A pedestrian-horse accident claimed the life of a visitor yesterday, according to an Ohio Historical society representative.

“We like to keep things exactly as they were in 1862, and back then if you were in the way, you got yourself run over,” said the Historical director. “They didn’t molly-coddle you back then. And he isn’t the first one you know.”

The Society has recently come under fire for the accidental lynching of a young black man.

04/02/02
Man has been divided for the millenium over questions that have perplexed the wise – how should we govern ourselves (politics) and what is truth (religion). Politics and religion. Religion and politics. Walker Percy once wrote "It crossed my mind that people at war have the same need of each other. What would a passionate liberal or conservative do without the other?"

With religion, differences have been made of hairsplitting distinction causing liberal Baptists to scorn their conservative Baptist neighbor. And now to this panoply of divisive issues we can add one more, one of hairsplitting (or at least hairwetting) dimensions: rain. To rain or not to rain is the question, but just don’t ask it in front of a mother and daughter with a combined age of an impressive 155 years. It has been said that into each life a little rain must fall, and into their lives this damp, discordant subject has reared its dripping head.

Yes, to that long grey line of controversies such as “how many angels can fit on a pin?” and “how does trickle-down economics work?”, we add “how much rain is too much rain?”. My mother and grandma are absolutists on the subject, and therein lies the problem. No rain is too much for Grandma, no number of sunny days too many for Mom. They have reached an impasse.

A short look of how man has evolved may illumine this touchy subject. Over most of the past 20,000 years, rain was considered so important it was deemed a god and sacrificed to. It became so because it was so intimately connected to the livliehood of the first agriculturalists, farmers if you will. Rain meant crops would grow, drought mean crops would die. Theoretically a lack of sun could also cause crops to die, but the sun never seemed to be a problem. However, for the millions of years prior to the first agriculturalists rain was a nuisance, making it more difficult to find and catch prey. We see the two groups still today - Mom is a hunter/gatherer on the subject, and Grandma an early agriculturalist.

Mom showed her hunter/gatherer tendencies early. For most of the early 1970s she sang to her children songs like, “rain, rain, go away, come back some other day!”. That sounded a bit disingenuous to our young ears, for if truth be told there didn’t seem a day she did want it to come back.

Grandma, on the other hand, comes from a long line of farmers going back to west Ireland. She lived on a farm, and through a depression, and rain was like money except it couldn’t be stored. Her parents sang and composed pro-rain ditties like, “Rain, rain why can’t it rain?” and the classic “Let that be a rain cloud and not a dust cloud”.

Ireland, you see, is the land of milk and honey, if by milk you mean rain and by honey you mean rain. The Irish have learned to deal with the unrelenting rain over the centuries by drinking a lot. An awful lot. They developed one of the smoothest whiskey’s (Jameson) and one of the best ales (Guinness). They’ve never invented much else, and that should tell you something about a rainy climate. But I’m not here to insert my admittedly sunny-day bias. I can have an opinion and not let it affect my reporting, for this is a no-spin zone. I report, you decide.

Alas we see that the roots for a great conflict were sown. Just as the pro-slave South went on its merry way during the antebellum period while the North became increasingly abolitionist, so did Grandma and Mom become even more fixed in their beliefs: that rain was intolerable and that sunny days were tragic.

What is the solution? A civil war? No! Perhaps as simple as avoiding the subject.

June 14, 2002

Our priest weighed in on the bishop's shuffling bad priests around. He said (I'm paraphrasing): 'you ask what were they thinking? Probably not much. Or to the extent they were they had absorbed the culture into their decision-making. And our culture lacks common sense. An example: a wealthy businessman, widely respected for his ability to make money, was caught in a massive tax fraud. You ask why? What was he thinking? He didn't need more money. The thing he was praised for was the same thing he was denounced for...'

Sounds like the bishops may grandfather in the 'zero tolerance' policy. They've apparently chosen to throw o'er their own to please the media. I guess in the rock-paper-scissors game the media trumps clericalism. A phyrric victory of sorts for the parishioner in the pew.
Poetry Friday

That crazy herdsman will tell his fellows
That he has been all night upon the hills,
Riding to hurley, or in the battle-host
With the Ever-living.

What if he speak the truth,
And for a dozen hours have been a part
Of that more powerful life?

His wife knows better.
Has she not seen him lying like a log,
Or fumbling in a dream about the house?
And if she hear him mutter of wild riders?
She knows that it was but the cart-horse coughing
That set him to fancy.
- excerpt from W. B. Yeats poem
Interesting post from Thomas Hibbs on National Review Online today:
Catholic schools, the majority of which are under the control of the local bishop, have many virtues, but they typically produce graduates who are theologically illiterate, but who — because of their affiliation with Catholic education — think that they already know everything about the Church. Asking your average graduate to say something intelligent about, say, the trinity or the communion of saints, would prompt responses akin to those Jay Leno receives when he walks the streets of L.A. quizzing ordinary citizens about American history and current events.

In their indifference to doctrine, many American Catholics are already more American than Catholic. Tocqueville observed that the effect of democratic culture upon religion is to deflect the believer's attention away from specific and divisive doctrinal issues toward general moral principles. The vague pantheism he predicted is evident precisely in the popularity of the vacuous term "spirituality" as a replacement for "religion." What many Catholics apparently believe about the core doctrinal issue of the Eucharist is that it's just a symbol. But if you don't believe that what the Church teaches about this and other fundamental issues is true, why, especially these days, remain Catholic? As Flannery O'Connor once remarked in response to the suggestion that in our enlightened age no one could continue to believe traditional Catholic teaching about the Eucharist : "If it's just a symbol, then to hell with it."

June 13, 2002

One of my five readers suggested that I go with layout of dark letters against a light background for easier reading...Since she represents 20% of the readership, her voice caries much weight. Anyone second the motion? I'm not too fond of the way italics look...

Stolen from another blog
"It's a battle to death between gluttony & sloth. The main reason I'm not fatter is that I can't eat while I'm sleeping."


Humorous comments on the perils of book ownership.
Vignettes
When I was in the throes of my agony, i.e. surgery at the age of seven, I remember Dad saying: “I wish I could take your place”. I was struck by it and never forgot it. The notion of self-sacrifice was still completely foreign to me then (as a matter of fact I’m not too familiar with it presently either). Mom added, “Me too.” And I was never sure whether she meant she wished dad could take my place too or herself…

****
When I was young we had a neighbor who was a severe alcoholic. I was told he gave up alcohol every Lent and then drink wildly on Easter. My first reaction was to cringe and think "legalism!" or "what's the point?". But it occurred to me that he gave up the most important thing in his life for forty days every year. He put God ahead of thing that almost defined him. How many of us can say that? The point is not to not have pleasures, but to acknowledge there is something more important that pleasure. And our wild-eyed neighbor did that every Lent.

****

My wife recently laughed at me for writing the worst poem ever on the eve of our vacation to the Great Smokies. Funny, we bonded more over my lame poem than others that might've attained mere mediocrity.
Cusp, cusp,
cusp of vacation;
sweet rim of a Tuesday night
lipp’d edge
of freedom
momentary as a a dandelion’s flower
black asphalt’s answer;
tarway to heaven.


Don't say I didn't warn ya.
****

I woke up one morning recently to find all my clothes either slightly too large or too small. The ones too large were hand me-downs from dad. The ones too small were hand me-ups from my stepson.

****
I was reading an Updike novel to my wife one night, and we came across the phrase "deer scat" and since then we use it to amuse ourselves in unlikely situations. Example: she pays the bills and then leaves an Excel spreadsheet of them for me.
"I see you left some scat on my desk last nite," I say.
She laughs.
When I write her a check for my half of the bills, I write in the memo portion, "scat payment".
I know, too much information.

***
“Draggin’ my chains….draggin’ my chains….well I'm movin’ in slow motion, but it’s motion just the same. Well I may not be free yet, but I’m draggin’ my chains” – Pam Tills song.
Got mixed emotions about these PenPal appeal for cash on some Catholic blogger sites. On the one hand, one feels the urge to contribute since they are allies in the culture wars, bedfellows for truth. And heck even Subway sandwich 'artists' have tip jars. (Why not McDonald's grill cooks?) On the other hand, and I'm obviously flamboyantly jealous, but it seems an outrage that they should be paid to pontificate. Certainly blogging is child's play compared to writing a book. Let them get paid for their books (that sounds like 'let them eat cake'), although admittedly in a culture that is skewed and somewhat not ready for truth their books don't get their due. Still, I like Amy Welborn's decision to use her blog to point to them. In a recent column Jonah Goldberg hinted that with blogs you pretty much get what you pay for. Which is why they are (say it with me)....free!

Current Reading
Theology and/or "deep" books are the crack cocaine of my reading world; likely to keep me wired tightly and up at night. Since I am more comfortable than afflicted, theology tends to afflict more than comfort. I can't read Chyrsostom and feel good about myself. A recent example: Jesus said that those who error or lead others astray in small matters will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. This would seem to imply good news. That those who are imperfect or who might lead people astray will at least go to heaven. But nooo, Chrysostom & Augustine say that the "least in the kingdom" could still refer to hell (I forget why, I can find the exact wording if anyone wants to know). Part of the reason is Jesus' making the smallest sins large (i.e. equating lust with adultery). Perhaps this is another way of them saying what Jesus said about the rich - the impossibility of being good without God, how it's impossible to earn heaven. And if so, that is a good thing. But it's not for the scrupulous.

The best antidote to theological reading is something earthy, funny and slightly irreverent (and/or a cold dark beer). And David Lodge is fitting that bill perfectly in "Small World". He makes marvelous fun of clueless academics. I'm also reading Harry Stein's surprisingly engaging "How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and Found Inner Peace". I'm almost done with Jean Baudrillard's pompous, look-down-my-French-nose review of America. These books you don't have to take too seriously - Baudrillard because he's such an elitist know it all, Stein because he's funny and sticks to uncontroversial topics (for me) and Lodge because he can flat out write. I used to read Kinky Friedman and/or Mark Leyner but now find them a little too...too...scatalogically childish?

June 12, 2002


St. Pio
St. Pio
to be canonized this weekend!


I will stand at the gates of Heaven but will not go through until all of my spiritual children have entered. - Padre Pio

On the subject of saints from Amy Welborn.
What an honest and revealing reflection.... No wonder she's so esteemed in the blogging community. It's also here.

In response to Mark Shea's post: I think we're Catholic ultimately because it is the shortest path to holiness or sainthood, which is the only thing that matters.

So isn't the fact that these bishops act little better than your average CEO so discouraging in part because of their great access to grace and yet non-cooperation in/with it? Given all the Masses they say, and all the prayers that are said for them, it seems to show at the very least the resistability of grace. Now that is scary.

"You're nobody till somebody blogs you..."
Thanks to Praise of Glory and Zounds and Tim Drake for the links.
Gosh they have good taste.

June 11, 2002

The humorous Hokie Pundit (example: rejected title for paper:
Abortion: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Womb) has an
interesting inquiry: Can We Live Both the American Dream and Obey God's Will?

I asked a similar question (concerning military service) of an Catholic columnist (not our Amy Welborn btw), who replied, interestingly:

If it is quite unthinkable that Jesus would be a soldier, and if Christians are supposed to imitate Christ, doesn't it follow that Christians should not serve in the military?

There are, it seems to me, only two ways of getting around this difficulty. One way is to say that the non-military life of Jesus was purely accidental; that in other circumstances he would have taken up arms.

The other way (and this is the way the Catholic Church has traditionally dealt with the difficulty) is to say that there are two levels at which the "imitation" can be pursued. The higher level is that followed by priests and religious; the lower level is that followed by ordinary laypersons. The "hihger imitation" attempts to stay very close to the life of Jesus, including the rejection of arms; the "lower imitation" doesn't come nearly that close, and permits -- in addition to marriage and wealth -- military service.

I don't know if this second way of answering the difficulty is philosophically satisfactory, but it certainly has been the traditional Catholic way. Vatican II called into question the distinction between the higher and lower imitation of Christ...
Normally bishops serve. One of the Pope's titles is "Servant of the servants of God". And so it is disconcerting that now lay people have to carry our shepherds, forgive them their sins (in a sense), and bear them as burden. And perhaps that is healthy thing, both in terms of our exercising our strength to forgive and also in the sense of not expecting from them what only God can deliver.
Well, Amy Welborn has hit the nail on the head today on "The Situation".
"The need for the approval of the secular media and the elites in the cities in which the cardinals and Important Bishops have their big houses and attend their Important social events. The need to be perceived as “progressive” ideologically, in education and everything else."

That's it! The bishops have been sucked in by the left & right-coast elites. Money, wealth, prestige, status, caring about what others think....Aquinas was so right.

June 10, 2002

Let's Go Take a Hike
All is patient in the woods. The spider waits by her web, "let the prey come to me" she says. Tiny red wildflowers wait with patient regard for bees to visit. Oaks of huge circumferences stand stolidly, more permanent than houses. Leaves under the canopy stand at horizontal attention, table-top straight to receive every bit of sun that leaks down. Metallic beetles, florescently green, flit about like little green goblins, or hotrodders showing off their new paint job.
"How much misery is escaped by frequent and violent agitation of the body” – 18th century pro-exercise tract (the first?)

I'd like to live the "dumb life" for a week & avoid reading, writing, thought in general, & the 'data-smog' and live the body-life instead: hiking, gardening, biking, tipping a pint, listening to music. Nice to be brainless for awhile, though I feel vaguely guilty. On the positive side it is life as festival; on the negative, life as animal.. But the truth is we are animals too.

Tis always bothered me that one’s disposition and tendency to sin or not to sin can be as provisional as whether you’ve had that meditative 45 minute run that Kosturbula writes of in the “Joy of Running”. The author Lauren Slater believed in the power of stories, and of the word (small 'w' I think, unfortunately), until along came her little pill, Prozac, that became her savior. Best get out the wide-angle lens and see that, in the big picture, God makes up for whatever losses we produce. If the 45 minute run makes you a better Christian, then use it. With or without Prozac He loves us.

June 09, 2002

Another interesting Baudrillard comment on religion & America:

It is not by chance that it is the Mormons who run the world's biggest computerization project: the recording of twenty generations of living souls....Evangelization [has] progressed thanks to the latest memory-storage techniques. And these have been made possible by the deep puritanism of computer science, an intensely Calvinistic, Presbyterian discipline, which has inherited the universal and scientific rigidity of the techniques for achieving salvation by good works. The Counter-Reformation methods of the Catholic Church, with its naive sacramental practices, its cults, its more archaic and popular beliefs, could never compete with this modernity."

Au Contraire! It is our bishops, not beliefs, that are undermining the faith at the present moment. (end of cheap shot).
Fr. Hayes, our brilliant Dominican (he got degrees in biology & law before becoming a priest 12 yrs ago), said an interesting thing the other day. He said that God will hold us accountable for our use of time (suggesting, of course, less TV), but went on to recommend we learn a trade, something like carpentry or wood-working or leather crafts...something of the hands, a sort of tangible, physical learning. I was reminded of this while reading Jean Baudrillard's America. Baudrillard wrote that "everything now is destined to reappear as simulation. Landscapes as photography, women as the sexual scenario, thoughts as writing...events as television. Things seem only to exist by virtue of this strange destiny. You wonder whether the world itself isn't just here to serve as advertising copy in some other world."

The line "thoughts as writing" hit home. It reminds me of Mark Shea's tagline about never having an unpublished thought. I felt it too on a recent trip to the Smokies, where we would do a photo-stop and the image was beautiful but it didn't represent a memory...for we weren't there long enough to enjoy it in the moment. Anyway perhaps Fr. Hayes was right in suggesting we make something that isn't a copy... something concrete made for its own sake...

June 07, 2002

Poetry Friday

     A Poem Named "Spot"*
Kansas saw-grasses whisper and wave
in the unbearable 1800s wind
I listen to Dixie songs first as irony
till the simpleness wins my heart
crystal voices selling honesty
be they so or not, I am sold
I Fly Away to unbearable earlier ages
Kansas saw-grass waving on the prarie
little houses, yes.

*Flannery O’Connor wrote that she would name her dog ‘Spot’ as irony, her mother would sans irony. FO said she figured it didn't matter much in the end.

Hangman
In the history of man
we few
we hang like half-done hangman scrawlings
our tombstones
holding yet one date.
Why this thrall of blogdom, this heady rush, this swoon of reading ones words in a public forum – this seeming nudity in public? Why the need to reveal? Reassurance that we have something worth saying? Reassurance is like a sponge that sops up attention while never quite filling it. This seemingly universal thirst to blog is interesting to me. I like to think my motives are the same of any other frustrated writer, exacerbated by all the left-brain thinking required as a computer programmer. I recall St. Thomas Aquinas’s words of warning that as long as one cares what others think of you then you are far from the kingdom. And no one lived up to that better than him. Can you imagine an intellectual giant being sanguine about being called the “Dumb Ox”? That modesty and reluctance to show-off is such a sure mark of the saints. St. Therese of Liseux had to be dragged kicking & screaming to write her autobiography. Yet Chesterton had great reverence for even the most mediocre artist because they were engaging in an activity that reflects our dignity in being created in the image and likeness of God. You'll never find a dog arranging the food in his food bowl in an aesthetically-pleasing manner...
John Updike on writers:
"From the admission that a good writer might be a scoundrel it is but a short step to the speculation that a writer is necessarily something of a scoundrel. A raffish and bitter scent clings to the inky profession. Seeing truly and giving the human news frankly are both discourtesies, at least to those in the immediate vicinity. The writer's value to mankind irresistibly manifests itself at some remove of space and, often, time."
Quiz:
Which is the Most Difficult To Believe?

1) Resurrection of the Body
2) the Trinity
3) Pauly Shore is a good actor
4) unconditional love

I agree with our priest, who says number 4....
The temptation towards Jansenism is acute but natural given our conditon.

June 06, 2002

Interesting comment from Steve Ray's board: "All sins are highly subjective and as St. Paul says, we are poor judges of even our own sins, let alone the sins of others." I've always simultaneously liked & cringed at the idea that Padre Pio, soon to be St. Pio, was able to point out unconfessed sins in the confessional - it's our own blindness that somehow most defeats us and most comforts us. Defeats us in that it prevents us from holiness, comforts us in that we cling to our blindness and sins for fear of suffering.
Brush with greatness II....an Updike parody at Eve Tushnet's blog

June 05, 2002

Crisis of Faith the real Crisis
Catholic author Walker Percy had one of his characters, a priest, say to a man who didn't feel he should serve Mass because of his lack of faith:
   'Don't worry,' he said, doing a few isometrics in the hall, pushing and pulling with his hands. 'It is to be expected. It is only necessary to wait and to be of good heart. It is not your fault.'
  'How is that, Father? I ask him curiously.
  'You have been deprived of faith. All of us have. It is part of the times.'


Over the past 40 years the American bishops have gone from a dogmatic, authoritarian style to a more pastoral, "kinder/gentler" style. An unfortunate side-effect seems to have been a crisis of confidence. And that confidence was a belief not just in God but in sin - that sin was evil and that discipline necessary. A priest fooling around with a kid was shocking not primarily because it was against the law but because it was a mortal sin. What is prison compared to losing your eternal soul? And so when someone loses their confidence, they tend to hang out with the crowd, they adhere to the culture for support. One senses that in the way the bishops pandered to the left in the 70s - the call for U.S. unilateral disarmament and the flirtation with socialism while being relatively quiet on abortion. That drive for approval from the intellectual left was a warning sign of the lack of confidence. The culture at the time most of the bad priests were committing their acts was the 1960s & 70s when sexual license was rampant. But then in the 80s with the advent of Reagan and a conservatism, the culture become more materialistic, more pro-business. And so most of the bishops, influenced by this culture, became CEOs. And what do most CEOs do? They think short-term. They put off/hide bad news from stockholders as long as possible. Sound familiar?

I hope our leaders can find that ever elusive middle ground. Not dogmatic, cruel or needlessly authoritarian, nor confused, unconfident and undisciplined.
I had always believed in God's love and God's omnipotence. But once I put the two ideas together, saw the unavoidable logical conclusion (Rom 8:28), I could never again see the world the same way. If God is great (omnipotent) and God is good (loving), then everything that happens is our spiritual food; and we can and should thank him for it. - Peter Kreeft
Check this out from Slate magazine of all places:
"Who'da thunk it? Hollywood takes celibacy more seriously than most members of the elite Eastern media, whose by-and-large reaction to the church's pedophilia scandal has been to opportunistically attack a celibacy doctrine they see as outdated and nonsensical. It's startling to see putatively liberal moviemakers portray celibacy as a noble, selfless, even rational endeavor. Of course, it's possible that the Hollywood message is more subversive and underhanded than that: Only superheroes are fit for lives of celibacy, and as we've learned, not all priests are superheroes."

June 04, 2002

Read a fascinating article about a series of experiments showing, impossibly, that simply by observing photons changes the path they take (from Discover magazine). It gets even wierder when the physicist claims that it appears past events can be changed likewise. Whether true or not, the article insists that the universe is a much more interactive place than we can imagine. A week later I read that one of the Vatican's top scientists (I forget his name, but he heads the Vatican astronomy dep't) said that his notion of God is not as an autocrat. God as a jazz improvisationalist I guess...

June 03, 2002

Amy Grant news