Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Favorite Books, 2005 edition. I went back and re-read a lot of old books this year -- no real classics, but some old Stephen King (Carrie, The Shining) and Pat Conroy (Lords of Discipline), among others. There was no real new fiction I read that really stands out -- the aforementioned Lords of Discipline was probably my favorite read for last year.*

If I had to pick the best of the new was The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason -- this is best described as a thinking person's Da Vinci Code. The new Jasper Fforde -- I don't even recall the title -- was boring and disappointing; I didn't even finish it. Ted Dekker's Ring trilogy was so-so. Charlotte Simmons was okay. Etc.

On the other hand, I read several good non-fiction books. If I had to pick one favorite it would probably be No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah by Bing West. This is an excellent book that allows one to grasp the confusion of the policy, the war, tribes, factions, men, soldiers and Marines, insurgents, terrorists, the battles and skirmishes of Fallujah. West gives you the feel of the frontline and the perspective of the overall battle(s). Truly an amazing feat standing by itself, but so close to the actual battles makes it even more amazing.

The NF runner-up would be Loving Homosexuals As Jesus Would: A Fresh Christian Approach By Chad W. Thompson. (This could easily be titled "Loving ___ as Jesus Would.") Here's a good review by Doug LeBlanc.

My 3rd favorite non-fiction was Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- and What It Means to Be Human by Joel Garreau -- very thought provoking.

Other favorites: Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle (the trial of Ossian Sweet); Hammers & Nails: The Life and Music of Mark Heard by Matthew Dickerson, Between Good and Evil : A Master Profiler's Hunt for Society's Most Violent Predators by Roger L. Depue & Susan Schindehette, and The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History by John M. Barry.


I can't believe I overlooked Harry! Yes, I really liked Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré (Illustrator). I also re-read Order of the Phoenix and Goblet of Fire.

Other re-readings of excellent books included the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Last Battle. Also, I read the last two Brian Haig novels -- these weren't bad.

Monday, December 19, 2005

More on the Narnia "Allegory." I meant to mention this earlier, but just forgot. While I was at my parents for Thanksgiving, my nephew, Brian, passed on his New Yorker magazine and I read an interesting essay by Adam Gopnik on C. S. Lewis. In the essay, Gopnik demonstrates considerable knowledge of the Lewis oeuvre, yet he misses the fact that Lewis was emphatic that the Narnia series was not an allegory:
When “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (magical title!) opens, four children who have been sent to the countryside discover an enchanted land on the other side of an old wardrobe; this is Narnia, and it has been enslaved by a White Witch, who has turned the country to eternal winter. The talking animals who live in Narnia wait desperately for the return of Aslan, the lion-king, who might restore their freedom. At last, Aslan returns. Beautiful and brave and instantly attractive, he has a deep voice and a commanding presence, obviously kingly. The White Witch conspires to have him killed, and succeeds, in part because of the children’s errors. Miraculously, he returns to life, liberates Narnia, and returns the land to spring.

Yet a central point of the Gospel story is that Jesus is not the lion of the faith but the lamb of God, while his other symbolic animal is, specifically, the lowly and bedraggled donkey. The moral force of the Christian story is that the lions are all on the other side. If we had, say, a donkey, a seemingly uninspiring animal from an obscure corner of Narnia, raised as an uncouth and low-caste beast of burden, rallying the mice and rats and weasels and vultures and all the other unclean animals, and then being killed by the lions in as humiliating a manner as possible—a donkey who reëmerges, to the shock even of his disciples and devotees, as the king of all creation—now, that would be a Christian allegory. A powerful lion, starting life at the top of the food chain, adored by all his subjects and filled with temporal power, killed by a despised evil witch for his power and then reborn to rule, is a Mithraic, not a Christian, myth. (emphasis added)
As I note below (and please see the references), this was not an allegory. Yet, even if it was, I think Gopnik misses the central point of the Gospel story -- in fact Jesus is the King Lion. Yes, he came to us as a Lamb, last time, in the incarnation. He was not originally a lowly and bedraggled donkey. As is expressed in the letter to the Philippians while Jesus was,
... in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:6-8 (New International Version) (See also, the Message version of this passage).

The central point is that God became human, lived as a human, but being the only sinless and innocent human was able to die in our place to redeem us, so "death itself would start working backward." The central point wasn't a rallying of underclass animals to lead a rebellion against the ruling classes -- that's been done before.

The thing I think I still like best about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is that is shows that Aslan would be willing to die for even one to redeem that one. Similarly, I know if we had some vast Garden of Eden and everyone else passed the test and lived sinless and I was the only one who sinned (yeah, I know I'm cutting big swatches in Christian Theology, but bear with me), Jesus would come and die in my stead to redeem me.

That's the central point.

He died for me.

He died for you.

Still more:

As I was checking this before posting, I came to this interesting post (and series of comments) by LaShawn Barber, where she argues "..."'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' is most assuredly an allegory." Interesting web journal (why hadn't I noticed this before?).

Finally and almost completely unrelated to any of the above:

This SNL rap on Narnia.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Narnia. We've been dying to see this one for years. In fact, due to some fortuitous circumstances, we've been praying about it since we learned of the meeting(s) of different principals. We had a couple of chances to see an early release, but just couldn't get everyone together to go.* Having viewed the trailers, it looks wonderful.

Some thoughts before we go see the movie. The Narnia series was never meant to be an allegory. As Peter J. Schakel writes:
To take the Chronicles as allegory, however, raises the danger of breaking their spell, either by destroying the independence of the imaginary world, as we begin looking outside it for the completion of its meaning, or by leading us to use our heads rather than our hearts in responding to the stories, or both. There are passages in the Chronicles which allow allegorical readings: Aslan’s death in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Eustace’s transformation in Aslan’s well in The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader,” and the final judgment and destruction of the world in The Last Battle, for example, have close parallels in Christianity and their meaning inevitably will be shaped to some extent by those parallels. But a brief comment by MacDonald puts them into proper perspective: “A fairytale is not an allegory. There may be allegory in it, but it is not an allegory.” [Notes omitted]
Peter J. Schakel, Reading with the Heart: The Way into Narnia (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), pp. 2-3. [As I mentioned earlier, Schakel's book is one of the best books about the Narnia series and you may find it on-line here.] Interestingly, there is a very good discussion of Lewis, Narnia and Allegory in the Dummies series which can be found on-line here.

Kids seem to pick up on the essential truths communicated in the Narnia stories -- I recall C.S. Lewis commenting on this. Adults seem to try to force it into an allegory. I say to see this movie with a kid and then listen to what they have seen as opposed to telling them what Lewis was trying to say.

More on communicating with kids:

I was originally going to tie this in to an excellent note by Peter Sean Bradley on the Catholic Church's efforts to pass on the faith to kids, but I'm still thinking about this. When I grew up, the Church of Rome was not doing a good job of communicating the faith to kids -- a large part of it, in my opinion, was they were jettisoning the richness of the heritage (no mention of Augustine or Aquinas). Passing on the faith to kids is easy, because entering the Kingdom requires us to come like a child. Yet the richness of faith in all it's complexity makes the most wonderful of libraries look like a mere roadside outhouse.

See also this note by Iain Murray:
The other day we set up our Christmas Tree while the children were asleep. The next morning, Helen, our five year old, was so delighted that she said, "Daddy, you surprised me with joy."

More on Narnia, the movie:

Mother Frederica's review

* [12/18/05] I didn't realize I had only posted this in draft version -- a week agoon Saturday afternoon we finally got to see the movie -- it is excellent!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Getting my feet wet. After being gone so long, please give me a chance to get my feet wet, before I get back in the water.

When I was 17 and the beaches were much less crowded, I surfed the Banzai Pipeline.

Once. Malik Joyeau

That is, one ride -- and body surfing, not on a board.

You see, while it's got beautiful waves, what makes it especially difficult is the water almost completely drops out when the wave breaks -- you're riding down the face of the wave and you're seeing coral below you instead of water. It's not safe.

Earlier this week, pro surfer, Malik Joyeux died in the surf there. Very sad -- he was a good rider. And young...

To borrow from and paraphrase C.S. Lewis; it's not a tame sport.

[very distantly related -- it's getting much more expensive.]

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Grey Tuesday. I'm not a big Green Day fan -- they're poseurs who can't hold a candle to the orignal punks (what was it Pete Townsend said: "...we ... meant it"). Nevertheless, I'll begrudgingly admit their album American Idiot rocks.

Even better is the mash up by Dean Gray: American Edit. Now, here's the problem -- Green Day, their record label (Warner) and the RIAA have all cracked down on American Edit -- within days of the website with the production being made available, it has been shut down. So, there's a day of protest and civil disobedience set for next Tuesday. Click on the banner below next week for a (variable) list of sites which will have DG:AE available for download. In .mp3 format, it's about 67MB (192kbs).

Dean Gray Tuesday

Friday, November 25, 2005

I'm alive. Work has been a bear -- lot's of 12-15 hour days, lot's of travel (a trip every 3 weeks or so). It should be letting up soon, so I may be back. I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving -- I'm with my parents and most of my sisters in NC.

See you around.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Boy Who Lived. I'm getting ready to take the number one daughter to Borders where she will be waiting for the release of the sixth book just after midnight. She finished Phoenix in less than 24 hours, so I imagine I'll be reading this one starting Sunday.

I'm trying to decide whether to wear my Eskimo Joe's "Joey Potter" T-shirt to take her -- should I really embarass her? The Maruader's T-shirt, if I had one, would be cool. This one is so over-the-top, it could trigger the nerd-dad factor.

You may have seen the stories from earlier this week about the Pope supposedly condemning the Potter series -- when I read the letters, I saw this was hype. Now that has been confirmed -- see here and follow the links.

Next to the Narnia Chronicles, the Potter books may be the best kids books ever written. See John Granger's book "Looking for God in Harry Potter." See also, this article posted on-line by Christianity Today and this essay in Touchstone.

And who is the Half-Blood Prince? My stretch guess is Dean Thomas, but Granger's guess, Godric Gryffindor, makes a lot more sense. I guess I'll know by this time next week.

(the title of this post is the title of Chapter One from the first book -- one of the great chapter titles in history, in my opinion.)


Jonathan Last: Appeasement fails with warlocks too

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Programming (and prayer request). I had hoped to be around for more blogging than my semi-retirement notice indicated (do I qualify for emeritus status?); nevertheless we have had some setbacks.

In particular, while we were out for the reunion, a very close friend of ours had a massive heart attack. She is relatively young (40) and a mother of two kids under 5. She has slowly been recovering, but it has been especially tough for her husband; at one point he was told he was going to have to make a decision about removing her from the respirator. She has since come out of a coma, but has severe memory problems, not remembering much after 1996. Fortunately, my wife's relationship with her predates that and she has a really good relationship with the kids. We have been taking care of the kids and helping the husband in minor ways; we are willing to do more.

Prayer request: Please pray for Darlene, her husband, Matt, and their kids, Ryan and Michelle. Thank-you!
I'm mostly American...

You Are 78% American
You're as American as red meat and shooting ranges.
Tough and independent, you think big.
You love everything about the US, wrong or right.
And anyone who criticizes your home better not do it in front of you!

The Long List. Looking back over the most recent SupCt. nominees, most have been "non-surprises." David Souter was a minor surprise and Sandra Day O'Connor was a big surprise nominee. Nevertheless, most come from the short list.

If there is a nominee who is not on the short list, who could it be?

Herewith, are ten names who should make the long list* being considered by a conservative Republican president:

  • Mary Ann Glendon, who I've flogged many times before. The major drawback for her is her age (67).**
  • Leroy Roundtree Hassell, current Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. Liabilities (as a candidate being considered by a conservative Republican): he's a moderate Democrat. Liabilities (to the Left): he's long been a visiting scholar at Regent University, Pat Robertson's grad school, he dissented from the Davenport v. Little-Bowser decision (compelling the issuance of a birth certificate with two persons of the same gender listed as parents). (See also the Arlington Co. v. White case, where he would have invalidated Arlington County's expansion of health care benefits to domestic partners as a disguised attempt to legitimize same-sex unions.)
  • Judge Frank Easterbrook, 7th Circuit. Surprisingly (to me anyway), he hasn't been making the short lists -- a good choice, perhaps too moderate for some.
  • Judge Karen Williams, 4th Circuit. A sharp judge; endorsed by Southern Appeal.
  • Judge Alice Batchelder, 6th Circuit. Endorsed by Todd Zywicki of the Volokh Conspiracy.
  • Robert F. Nagel, Professor of Law, University of Colorado. Identified by First Things as " of our most forceful critics of judicial supremacy."
  • Robert P. George, Professor of Law, Princeton University. "Conservative Heavyweight" - Crisis Magazine.
  • O. Rene Diaz, Attorney and State District Judge in San Antonio, Texas. He is also the General Counsel for the Republican Party of Texas.
  • Eugene Volokh, Geek, UCLA -- he has the reverse problem of Glendon: at 37, he's too young for this vacancy. (William O. Douglas was 40 when appointed; when the court was less important, Joseph Story was named at 32).
  • Stephen L. Carter, professor of law at Yale. While a liberal, as a columnist for Christianity Today, he's probably too conservative for a Democrat to appoint.

* I'm purposely bypassing the usual suspects mentioned on the published short lists, as well as others, such as Alex Kozinski or Richard A. Posner, who deserve more mention than they've been getting, yet appear to be making some of the more extended "short lists."
** Some others who will not be considered due to age: Judge John Noonan [with his criticisms of Scalia et al, he wouldn't be considered, I gather], 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; Charles E. Rice, Professor of Law, Notre Dame (all three of these are devout Roman Catholics, which could also pose a problem for the notoriously anti-Catholic Democrats on the Judiciary Committee).

Saturday, July 02, 2005

My nominee. To replace Justice O'Connor Mary Ann Glendon, for reasons stated here.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Sandy Baby. Sandra Day O'Connor was a brilliant choice by President Reagan -- a surprise -- never as popular with the conservatives as Antonin Scalia, but far better than Anthony Kennedy. I had the pleasure of meeting her on two occasions -- she was always pleasant and gracious. Despite what John Riggens said, she had no need to "loosen up."

My favorite opinion was her concurring opinion in Johnson v. Transportation Agency. In this case, the liberal bloc essentially upheld quotas in hiring no matter what and the conservative bloc would strike them down. Justice O'Connor noted that the Santa Clara transportation agency had not ever hired a woman for the skilled position. Moreover, the woman (Diane Joyce) who had been selected scored a 73 on the qualifying test whereas the man who sued seeking the job scored a 75. The qualifying grade was a70 or above. This was not merely a case where O'Connor split the difference -- she looked to the record. It wasn't just a matter of sex (which the liberal block saw) or test scores (the conservative block) -- it was a consideration of all factors, including experience, background, education, and, yes, the fact that the County had failed to ever hire any women for that position.

She was a judge of common sense. Unfortunately, she didn't always apply it. My least favorite opinion was when she joined with Kennedy and Souter in Planned Parenthood v. Casey where she wrote this accursed phrase:
At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

She was at her best in the 1983 Akron case, a dissent:
The Roe framework, then, is clearly on a collision course with itself. As the medical risks of various abortion procedures decrease, the point at which the State may regulate for reasons of maternal health is moved further forward to actual childbirth. As medical science becomes better able to provide for the separate existence of the fetus, the point of viability is moved further back toward conception. Moreover, it is clear that the trimester approach violates the fundamental aspiration of judicial decisionmaking through the application of neutral principles "sufficiently absolute to give them roots throughout the community and continuity over significant periods of time . . . ." A. Cox, The Role of the Supreme Court in American Government 114 (1976). The Roe framework is inherently tied to the state of medical technology that exists whenever particular litigation ensues. Although legislatures are better suited to make the necessary factual judgments in this area, the Court's framework forces legislatures, as a matter of constitutional law, to speculate about what constitutes "accepted medical practice" at any given time. Without the necessary expertise or ability, courts must then pretend to act as science review boards and examine those legislative judgments.
It's too bad she lost her nerve...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Travelogue. I'm in Austin today -- we've spent the weekend in Bandera, TX at the Dixie Dude Ranch for a family reunion. Naturally, with the 10 commandments decisions coming out today, I'm heading for the state capitol building to see this controversial display. A good discussion blog here.


Here's a picture of us with the monument (My middle daughter, Sarah is next to me, then my son, Joe, our baby, Emilie and our oldest, Joy):

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Headlines. Accurate, but misleading:

Rich Gannon throws 5 TD Passes in Super Bowl XXXVII

Anglicans Won't Censure Wings of Church

Okay, you can make an argument that both of these headlines are accurate -- Rich Gannon did have 5 of his passes end in touchdowns, it's just that 3 of them were interception returns by the Bucs.

Similarly, as this AP story by Jill Lawless uses the "Anglicans Won't Censure Wings of Church" headline and begins this way:
The Anglican Communion on Wednesday rejected an attempt by traditionalists to punish the U.S. and Canadian wings of the church for their stance on homosexuality, watering down a resolution that called for the North Americans to be suspended from all church bodies.

But that wasn't the story. The story is more accurately written by Ruth Gledhill of The London Times; who explains in her first three paragraphs:
THE Anglican Church moved closer to schism yesterday when members of its central administrative council formally asked the Churches of Canada and the US to go.

Unconvinced by the justifications offered by both Churches on Tuesday for their actions in ordaining an openly homo- sexual bishop and authorising same-sex blessings, members of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham asked them to leave the council and its central finance and standing committees.

Although the motion invites the Churches to withdraw voluntarily, it amounts in effect to a punishing expulsion. The debate was held behind closed doors at Nottingham Univers-ity yesterday, and the motion was passed 30 to 28 by secret ballot, with four abstentions.
Some things can be spun; Jill Lawless should learn that this story isn't one of them.
I took it...

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

If you blog, you can too.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The theology quiz -- Spurred on by Mark Byron and Peter Sean Bradley, I have taken the theology quiz. Although my "named" results are different, my percentages are very similar to each (my results below). For example, Peter clocks in at 75% Catholic, I'm 68%. Mark is a 75% Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan, Peter scores 71% there. That was my top score -- 86%. (And that subject has lead Mark to do a series, which you can see here in Parts 1, 2 and 3). I am 79% Neo-Orthodox, Peter is 71%. Yes, we have our differences, Mark is 79% on the Reformed Evangelical, I am 46%. Peter is 39% on the Fundamentalist scale, I'm 57% (Mark is 68%). And I guess, befitting an Episcopalian, I score equally high (57%) on the PoMo scale.


You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox


Roman Catholic








Reformed Evangelical


Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with
Oklahoma -- I've been in Oklahoma for the past two weeks for work. I spent some time in Tulsa in the early 1980's -- it's changed a lot. I visited All Souls in Oklahoma City -- very high Episcopal (can you say more Catholic than the Pope?). I dodged a lot of tornadoes and visited places from Jay to Bartlesville (Price Tower -- ugh!) to Stillwater (Eskimo Joe's) to Norman to Ada to Ardmore and all places in between.

The folks there are still as friendly as ever.

And the Joads and the dustbowl are still a myth.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

R.I.P. Eddie Albert. I am a huge fan of Green Acres, yet an even bigger fan of the actor who played Oliver Wendell Douglas, Eddie Albert. Eddie Albert Heimberger passed away on Thursday, right before this Memorial Day weekend. It's fitting to remember his service to his country. He was an actor living in Hollywood and had been acting in movies since "Brother Rat" (a Ronald Reagan movie) filmed in 1938. After the attack at Pearl Harbor, he joined the Navy and was awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for the rescue of about 70 Marines at the battle of Tarawa.

He was a good man; may he rest in peace.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Gehry AdditionBest News of the Week: The Corcoran Gallery announced it was shelving the planned Gehry addition. You have to understand that this was to be built right across from the Old Executive Office Building, half a block from the White house. And with it's sprawling sheet metal design, with it's very dark color and shine, it looked horrible. This was sort of a sculptural variation on Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) -- I call it Darth Vader falling down a staircase.

Now, if only we could get rid of the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Semi-retirement. I think I'm going to have to go into a semi-retirement.

Or as Threepio said: "Sir, if you'll not be needing me, I'll close down for awhile."

Basically, I'm having trouble getting computer time these days -- unrestricted computer time. My daughter needs the computer for school, so I defer to her. (We're doing some work on the house and the other PC's are in storage, more or less). Also, you may be aware, I'm on the road at least a week a month. In the past, that was always a good time to work -- I could usually get a connection in a hotel room and and undistracted time to write. We've had a change in policy at work however which says no blogging using any work equipment. Since I need my work-assigned laptop for these trips, that essentially means no blogging during the days I'm out of town. (And no blogging at lunch.)

I really enjoy doing this -- I like to work out problems through writing. I love the people I've met and the responses I've had.

I'm honored and humbled by the attention these thoughts have received. Folks have been very kind.

But this isn't good bye -- it really is just a powering down. I may only have 1 or w things a week. Or I may have more. Or I may have less.

And if things change, I'll be back in full. In the meantime there are a lot of good blogs out there and I look forward to reading these.

See you around.

grace and peace,

William P. Sulik

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Tagged with a Meme - The Bibliotheca Virus. (Answer is in progress)

Via Peter Sean Bradley, I hve been challenged to answer four simple questions and one direction to keep the virus going. I had to laugh at what Peter said about me, however: "for the culture that the High Church tradition can bring." It ain't me babe, no, no, no, it ain't me, babe, It ain't me you're lookin' for, babe. (See my response 4(4) below.) Here are the questions which I hope to complete in the near future (watch this space):

1. Total Number of Books I’ve Owned: All books -- ever? You gotta be kidding me? I've got no way of knowing -- just the text books I've gotten rid of run in the hundreds. Put it this way, when I moved back to DC from law school in the mid-70's I shiped back over 70 boxes of books by the U.S. Mail, each one with an average weight of 50 pounds.

I'd say the number of books I own currently is more than 1,000 but less than 2,000.

2. Last Book I Bought: Hmmm. I bought 3 grocery sacks of books at the library used book sale (during the last hour each bag was just $5). Among my finds was Charles Murray & Catherine Bly Cox's Apollo Story (which I found out is now back in print -- this is the ultimate book about the Apollo project -- if you have any interest, you must go buy this book), Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, The Burden of Proof and The Laws of Our Fathers by Scott Turow, The Gulag Archipelago (Vol. 1) by A. Solzhenizyn, Toland's Hitler, etc. Almost all my books have been purchased at book sales -- especially library book sales.

3. Last Book I Read: meaning, I guess, finished. That would be Brian Haig's Private Sector. I'm currently reading The President's Assasin by the same author and Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle. I should be finished with both by Friday.

4. Five Books That Mean a lot to Me:

This is what's going to take some time. I'm assuming these aren't desert island books (5 books I must have on a desert island) or my all time favorite books (that would include The Vicar of Christ by Walter Murphy). These are books that simply mean a lot to me and I'll tell you why.

(1) The Bible-- yes, I know it's a fairly standard answer but there's just so much there. Simple stories like the Tower of Babel or the Parable of the Good Samaritan. More complex stories like Job and Daniel. The story of Creation, the fall, the deluge, the calling of Abram, the exile, the plagues, passover, exodus, wandering; the conquest of promised land, the beginning of a nation, the struggle to live as a nation, the kingdoms, the exile, the prophets, the rebuilding. The Incarnation. The Sermon on the Mount and on the Plain. The calling, baptism, wilderness and temptations. The miracles, the parables, the questions and answers. Holy Week, from triumphant entry through Supper, arrest, judgment(s), condemnation, passion, crucifixion, death and burial. The resurrection. The Resurrection.
He Is Alive!
The road to Emmaus, Doubting Thomas, the restoration of Peter, the Ascension. Characters such as Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Saul, David, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and John. Philosophy like Ecclesiastes or Proverbs. Poetry like the Psalms or Song of Songs. Not to mention the teachings in the letters and the very mysterious Revelation to St. John. It is wonderful.

By the way, I like the Berkley Version -- it's very clear and has terrific footnotes. For example, from I Chronicles 25:4, one of those lists of who begat who the footnote indicates:
Starting with the sixt son, Hananiah, the names, when translated from Hebrew, form the following prayer of Heman about his work as a singer: [6] Be gracious, O Lord; [7] Be Thou gracious to me! [8] My God, Thee; [9] I have praised: [10] And exalted for helping; [11] Though sitting forlorn; [12] I have proclaimed; [13] Highest; [14] Visions.
Another example, in the Gospel of Matthew 6:13, from the end of the Lord's prayer, he brackets the phrase "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." and in the footnote, observes,
The words enclosed in brackets are not found in the majority of the most reliable ancient manuscripts. The may have been added to the text here to make the prayer more appropriate for use in public worship. Certainly the last sentence is compatible with Scripture. Cf. I Chron. 29:11. In Luke's account of the Lord's Prayer, Lk. 11:2-4, this sentence is omitted.

(2) Mathematics by David Bergamini. New York: Time-Life, 1963. This book was something my parents bought when I was little. I first looked at the pictures and was gradually sucked in -- what a terrific book!

(3) I guess a play can count -- it's in book form. Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons is something I probably quote from at least once a month. It beautifully explores the relationship between conscience, duty, faith, honor, law

Green Lantern(4) Green Lantern No. 61 (June 1968). "Thoroughly Modern Mayhem!" Writer: Mike Friedrich Penciller: Gil Kane Inker: Sid Greene. This is a parable of sin and falleness is 23 short pages. Interestingly, the thrust of the story is shorter than those 23 pages, yet it speaks volumes. This opens with the Hal Jordan Green Lantern and the Alan Scott (Golden Age) Green Lantern teaming up to defeat “Captain Challenge." Following that story, Scott returns home to Earth-2, flying over scenes of evil and rottenness, returning to his house and finding it ransacked by a burglar, Scott/Green Lantern orders his power ring to get rid of all the evil in the world at which point everything including Scott/GL disappears. Hal Jordan later goes to Earth-2 and finds Scott/GL and the rest of humanity frozen in a state of suspended animation in a desert. They restore everyone to their natural state and Scott learns a lesson about sin. It’s funny, but this is a story which has stuck with me ever since – while we are created in the image of God, we are all fallen and in need of saving. There were a lot of other comics I grew up with that were also modern parables. See for example, Superman Issue 236, “Planet of the Angels” which can be read on line here.


5. Tag 5 people and have them do this on their blog.

Done -- look for these folks to (possibly) follow up on this:

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Revenge of the Absolutes. [Revised and extended] I saw SW: E3: RotS today -- first impression is that it's better than the last two, but doesn't approach the original triolgy. The acting is incredibly wooden, the dialogue is horrible, the storyline is still confused, and the CGI is way overdone. Still, by closing on the events which will take us to the original Star Wars movie (which I refuse to call "A New Hope."), it wraps up well.

Now for my gripes.

I'm really bugged by George Lucas' desire to take a potshot at Dubya and his supporters -- not because he's doing it; rather, because he does it so poorly, with such over reach that it doesn't make sense.

The following may be a minor spoiler, but I don't think so.

There's a scene where Obi-Wan and Anakin have a duel and Anakin says something along the lines of:
ANAKIN: If you're not with me, you're my enemy.

OBI-WAN: Only a Sith deals in absolutes.
The problem is, Lucas seems to believe this.

I believe that there are seeds of greatness here, but because Lucas is unwilling to give up his fealty to relativism and his eastern theology ("Use your feeling"), he is not able to truly develop a basis for the transformation of Anakin to Vader.

Yes, the Jedi play a minor part in pushing Anakin over to the dark side: They don't make him a master although he sits on the council, they ask him to act deceitfully, they don't let him have a girlfriend (or wife). Still, Lucas want to put the blame exclusively on the Sith (I'm being somewhat general here because of my desire to avoid spoilers). "This is how liberty dies - to thunderous applause," Padmé laments as the Senate gives Palpatine new powers.

In many respects, Obi-Wan turns out to be the greatest villian (a la Steve Maryk of the Caine Mutiny) of the sexology, because his commitment to relativism blinds him to that which is truly evil. Consider these lines from Return of the Jedi:

LUKE: Obi-Wan! Why didn't you tell me?

The ghost of Ben Kenobi approaches him through the swamp.

LUKE: You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father.

BEN: You father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I have told you was true... from a certain point of view.

LUKE: (turning away, derisive) A certain point of view!

BEN: Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.
(emphasis added). Perhaps, if Obi-Wan and the rest of the Jedi had been a little less relativistic -- dare I say it -- perhaps if the Jedi had been more Christ-like, the double-dealing which leads to the fall of the republic and the rise of the Empire would not have occurred.

Second, and strongly related, as you can see by the above, my respect for the Jedi have been completely destroyed by this movie. It's been declining for awhile -- in SW: E1: PM, we learn that to be a Jedi, one must be specially enhanced with the Midichlorians. In SW: E2: TAotC, we learn that the Jedi cannot be in love. In this one, it is confirmed that the Jedi believe they can lie about anything (which explains why Old Ben Kenobi lies with such ease to Luke in the original Star Wars movie [lies, by the way, which aren't really disclosed to be lies until The Empire Strikes Back]). Serious spoilers follow. Or take Mace Windu...

[Last chance -- I mean it, really serious spoiler below]

In the scene where Mace Windu goes to arrest Palpatine, they have a big fight -- Palpatine kills three [expendible] Jedi, then he and Mace have a huge fight. Near the end, Anakin walks in (the following is rough, taken from this purloined script (which has a number of inaccuracies, although this appears to be correct):
MACE pushes PALPATINE out to the edge of the ledge. As the Jedi moves closer, the bolts from Palpatine's hands begin to arch back on him. The Chancellor's face begins to twist and distort. His eyes become yellow as he struggles to intensify his powers.

PALPATINE: I can't ... I give up. Help me. I am weak ... I am too weak. Don't kill me. I give up. I'm dying. I can't hold on any longer.

MACE WlNDU: You Sith disease. I am going to end this once and for all.

ANAKIN: You can't kill him, Master. He must stand trial.

MACE WlNDU: He has too much control of the Senate and the Courts. He is too dangerous to be kept alive.

PALPATINE: I'm too weak. Don't kill me. Please.

ANAKIN: It is not the Jedi way . . .

MACE raises his sword to kill the CHANCELLOR.

ANAKIN: (continuing) He must live . . .

PALPATINE: Please don't, please don't . . .

ANAKIN: I need him . . .

PALPATINE: Please don't . . .


Just as MACE is about to slash PALPATINE, ANAKIN steps in and cuts off the Jedi's hand holding the lightsaber.

As MACE stares at ANAKIN in shock, PALPATINE springs to life.
It is clear that Mace and Anakin could have combined to arrest Palpatine, but Mace, acting like a Jedi, sees himself above the law (or a law unto himself) and in an act of perfect relativism acts to put an end to Palpatine, pushing Anakin over to the Dark Side.

Thus, it seems that all those infected with the Midichlorians -- all those controlled by the Force -- are relativists who see absolutes as something that only the little people worry about. In that respect, the Jedi and the Sith are two sides of the same coin.

I submit that there is another way -- a way which was nicely summarized by a man who used to be called Joe, who said the following not too long ago:
We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.

However, we have a different goal: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. Being an "Adult" means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today's fashions or the latest novelties. A faith which is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ is adult and mature. It is this friendship which opens us up to all that is good and gives us the knowledge to judge true from false, and deceit from truth. We must become mature in this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith--only faith--which creates unity and takes form in love. On this theme, Saint Paul offers us some beautiful words--in contrast to the continual ups and downs of those were are like infants, tossed about by the waves: (he says) make truth in love, as the basic formula of Christian existence. In Christ, truth and love coincide. To the extent that we draw near to Christ, in our own life, truth and love merge. Love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like "a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal" (1 Cor 13:1).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

History Repeats itself. The first time as parody, then as tragedy.

"I could resign, but that would be the cowardly thing to do..."

-- David Frye's Richard Nixon

Michael Isikoff will not resign.
More on Dresden. Passing through the North Platte airline terminal (of all places) I picked up a copy of Wilson Quarterly that someone had left which had an article on the bombing of Dresden. Thinking someone may return for the article -- there was a bookmark -- I left it there. The whole issue looked interesting. Unfortunately the article is not on-line.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Grieve Not the Holy Spirit. This article by Frederica on the Holy Spirit parallels a lot of my experience. More later. (title from Eph. 4:30)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Yikes! Actually, I really, really didn't like a lot of these questions....

(via Peter Sean)

Your Political Profile

Overall: 65% Conservative, 35% Liberal

Social Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Ethics: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

How Liberal / Conservative Are You?

What is meant by Conservative or Liberal Ethics? I was most surprised by the "Personal Responsibility"score.
Not Sully. On the Huffington's Toast site, not Andrew posts:

But here goes: I’m officially an ex-Catholic. Yes, you read that correctly. Liberace has left the Cathedral. Truly, this has been the most difficult decision of my life. But how can I continue to lend my voice to Benedict XVI’s agenda of anti-gay pogroms? I love the Church; I’ll miss it terribly; but any religion that can’t tolerate my repeated intentional violations of its most basic moral precepts is no religion I want to be a part of. And while my belief in an omniscient deity whose will is unchanging is as strong as it’s ever been, I can’t help but ask myself, “Didn’t God learn anything from Stonewall?” Thus are Protestants made.

There’ll be an adjustment period, of course, but I’m already starting to feel at ease in my new home, the profoundly gay Episcopal Church. Like me, it’s an English transplant to America, and like me, it couldn’t be more enthusiastic about anal penetration.
Go read it all.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Mighty Sore. We went hiking and rock climbing at South River Falls for Mother's Day. Yesterday, I was sore, but today, I can barely move. Pictures are forthcoming.

Here's all the kids with their Mom:

Mother's Day 2005
That's Emilie, Joe, Debbie, Joy, and Sarah.

Perhaps I should try this?

(p.s. yes, the title of this post is a throwback -- or tip of the hat -- to this issue of Not Brand Ecch!)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Youth Sunday -- Xanga Edition (i.e. links go to xanga blogs). Sunday was Youth Sunday -- always one of my favorites (and not just because the music is better). This time, it may have included my oldest daugther's last dance (sad...) -- we'll see. Here's a picture from the dance:

And here's all four of the dancers at the end.

From left to right, it's Joy, Kristin, Lissa, and Natilie.

Oh, yeah, in the top picture, on the right hand side in the dark shirt and light tie (in the background) is the main youth minister, Abram.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Fire bombing. A long, long time ago, I had a very intemparate rant against a post on another blog regarding the droping of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In my follow-up post, here, I indicated that I found the fire bombing of Tokyo and Dresden and other cities much more troubling. Here's an interesting article on these issues. When I indicated my concern about the fire-bombing, I had no idea that it was planned in such detail. From the article:
There were cities like Berlin that did not work right. The width of the streets, the firewalls, the abundance of greenery and canals opposed the fire-injections and responded wrong. But Dresden's narrow streets, decorative old town and wooden buildings fed the fires according to plan. The carefully selected triangle between the Ostragehege park and the main railway station functioned as a "fire-raiser". The old cities, bent with age, testimonies to the distant past, were best suited to such attacks. Freiburg, Heilbronn, Trier, Mainz, Nuremberg, Paderborn, Hildesheim, Halberstadt, Würzburg: this avenue of German history shared the lot of Dresden in these months. For the allied fire bomb strategists, the study of their material composition was a science in itself.

In Watford, England, as well as in Eglin Field, Florida, and Dugway Ground, Utah, dummy towns were built complete with German and Japanese materials and inventories. This sort of thing requires thoroughness. Only real Japanese floor matting can be used, only the right number of real German toys in the German house. More woollen coats are stored in Germany than in Japan, in solid cupboards of oak, pine and beech. How many books, which curtains, what type of cushions? The German roof beams provide the crowning touch. Then the practise can start.

According to the author of this article, all the bombing at the end of the war -- the firebombing and the nuclear bombs -- were to show Stalin and the rest of the world that there was indeed a will to drop such bombs.

I think the author reads too much and too little at the same time into these decisions -- nevertheless, the article is worth reading and contemplating.

I confess that I am a troubled to learn that I am close to Curtis LeMay whom the article quotes as saying:
You only needed to walk through one of our roasted targets and take a look at the ruins of the countless tiny houses. Some kind of drill press stuck out of every pile of rubble. The entire population was involved in building aeroplanes or war munition. Men, women and children. . . . There are no innocent civilians. Nowadays you fight a people, not armed forces.
Although, as I indicated back in 2002, when I first wrote about this, my main problem is assuming that the civilians who were forced to become soldiers, sailors, and Marines when their country was attacked are expendible combatants while those who served the beligerant state in civilian costume are considered to be somehow protected or insulated from the conduct of their nation.

Anyway, those who are anti-bomb (is anyone really pro-bomb? I mean besides him) will find a sympathtic read at this article. For further reading, I recommend Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 by Frederick Taylor.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Who's the hardliner? In the past week, we've been bombarded with stories about Cardinal Ratzinger the "hardliner" and the Panzerkardinal and so on. Meanwhile, in Connecticut a true hardliner is operating and it's getting almost no coverage.

What's the case against +Ratzinger? He wouldn't let "moral" theologians teach as Roman Catholic teachers? Well they weren't. Did they suffer any hardship as a result? Via Jonah Goldberg, consider this:

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith (the Holy Office) since 1981, Ratzinger has been treated as a kind of grand inquisitor by the media. This is based on the “persecution” of a handful of theologians, most famously Hans Küng. In reality, this persecution amounted to a change of job title: Küng could no longer call himself a professor of Catholic theology, but continued to teach exactly the same things at the same university.

Similarly, in 1986 Catholic Priest Charles E. Curran was informed that he would no longer be allowed to teach Catholic moral theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Nevertheless, a tenured professor, he remained on at CU until 1991, when he was hired by SMU, where he still teaches. (It is surprising the number of news stories out there which claim he was fired. See for example, Newsday ["...Charles Curran was fired from his job at Catholic University..."]. In fact, as I stated, he remained on staff. He did bring a lawsuit against CU because he wanted to be a Pontifical scholar, but he lost at the lower court level and did not appeal.) He has never been defrocked.

[If you think about it, CU actually needed to take this action -- having Curran teach there, being held out as teaching Roman Catholic theology is a deceptive trade practice.]

On the other hand, in Connecticut, there is a real hard liner operating. Episcopal Bishop Andrew D. Smith has threatened six Connecticut pastors with "inhibition" a process which could lead to their removal from holy orders -- a defrocking -- if they don't submit to his total authority. The six are in agreement that they need to be under the authority of a bishop and have asked Smith for Episcopal oversight from an orthodox bishop. This is the rub. You see, Smith not only voted to elevate a non-celibate homosexual to a bishopric, he actually was one of the consecrators. Accordingly, Smith has turned his back on his own vows as a bishop. Smith's notion of a compromise is to delegate his "authority" over these six pastors to another heretical bishop. For Smith, it's his way or the highway...

So why is the media silent on this? Well, actually they are not. The NY Times has reported this story as a conspiracy by the six to trap Smith (Headline: "Dissident Episcopal Priests Are Called Part of a Strategy").

Ask yourself, would you rather be working for Ratzinger or Smith? Would you rather be in Curran's shoes or the shoes of the six pastors?

More on the six here (and at TitusOneNine, as always).
Good Sign


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Books. That didn't take long -- nine of the top 21 best sellers at Amazon are authored by Joseph Ratzinger.
Papal Names. My kids have been interested by the fact that the new pope gets a new name. I point out that there's a biblical tradition for that, which Sarai and Abram becoming Sarah and Abraham, Saul becoming Paul, Jacob becoming Israel and so on.

My mother doesn't like the name Benedict, I'm not sure why. All my life, the pope has either had the name of John or Paul or both. This is the case for anyone born after October 28, 1958. Interestingly, for anyone born between February 6, 1922 and October 28, 1958, only one name is added, that of Pius. (Pius XI and XII). The prior pope, who's reign was from 3 Sepember 1914 to 22 January 1922, was . . . Benedict. Stretch back to August 4, 1903 and you find another Pius.

Therefore, there are just four names for popes for the past century: Pius, Benedict, John and Paul.

Leo XIII reigned prior to this from 20 February 1878 to 20 July 1903. (And preceding him, another Pius).

The best name never picked for a Pope? Francis. (Read the Vicar of Christ, one of the greatest novels ever written for an explanation...)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Benedict Sextus Decimus. Happy (belated) birthday to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the new Pope. I had the pleasure of watching the announcement, via webcam, in my office with my boss, who is a cousin of Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B. My boss was able to give me the translations and we were both thrilled to be watching history in the making.

I am pleased with this choice. My own first choice would've been Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, but, between these two it's clearly win-win.

There are some good articles out there on the new Pope Benedict XVI -- unfortunately the New Republic article by Erica Waters is not one of them. Here's a clip (via NRO's the Corner):

It's his humility, indeed his lack of desire for the job, that I find most compelling. Anyone who has seen him up close (as I have) knows the reality of the man confounds his image as an enforcer. Shy and soft-spoken, he possesses a scholar's temperament and in his youth was considered a theological innovator. He often wins over the wary after personal meetings. Many Protestant theologians in Germany and America, for example, speak warmly of him after engaging in scholarly give and take. Far from being power mad, he has for years pleaded to be allowed to resign from his office and return to teaching, but John Paul wouldn't consent.

Here's John Allen on what a Ratzinger papacy would look like. Michael Novak on the most journalist friendly cardinal.

And don't forget to check out the Ratzinger fan club.

Last, I'm sad to say, this (i.e., the name Benedict*) fits into the prophecies of St. Malachy, mentioned earlier. Specifically, the line for this Pope is "Gloria olivæ," which ties into St. Benedict and the Benedictine order.


Kendall Harmon recalls Cardinal Ratzinger's greeting to the Confessing Episcopalians in Plano last year. I remember I wept with joy when I heard this news.

* I seem to recall reading some speculation in the past week that if it was Ratzinger, he would choose the name Benedict as there was a tie between St. Benedict (or one of the Pope Benedicts) and Germany.

[This post has been updated and slightly modified since initial posting]

Monday, April 18, 2005

Sad Day. According to Kendall Harmon, a great saint, Diane Knippers, has left us. At the parish meeting yesterday, Martin indicated she wasn't doing well and was in ICU. Still I thought we had more time. Pray for Ed Knippers and her extended family....


Over the years, she has spoken a number of times from the pulpit at Truro (especially during the Seven Last Words) and these have been treasured times. Her heart has always showed a deep devotion to God, with humility and love for Him and for His creation. She will be deeply missed.

Here's a sample of her writing that I believes showcases Diane's heart. This is from her report to the 207th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia on the Bishop’s Dialogue Group on Human Sexuality (via the Virginia Integrity website):

You see, we dialogue partners have become friends. The dialogue group is a collection of disparate individuals – clergy and lay, male and female, young and old, parents and childless, with various racial, theological, vocational and other backgrounds. I am certain that we would not all have freely chosen each other as friends. But now, the bond is there. By now we’ve gone through so much together—births and deaths, divorces and marriages, illness and healing, job changes, promotions, travel. We’ve shared the seasons of the year, good food, quiet walks, a funny joke, a hug of condolence, and evening prayers.

Melinda, with whom I so strongly disagree, is a friend. Our disagreement is the more painful for that friendship, just as a fight in the intimacy of a family is more painful than one with a stranger. It would be an easy thing, a tempting thing, to show my love by saying “It’s OK. I will agree with you. I will accept your understanding, your vision, of what is true and right.” It is a more difficult, a more costly thing to say, “I love you, but no. You are wrong.”

Sometimes I think our sexuality group is bound together by this fierce, agonizing difference. And sometimes, I think or hope or pray, that we are bound together, in spite of our imperfections, our errors, or misunderstandings and mistakes, by Jesus Christ.

Still More

This is from an e-mail forwarded by a friend, active in the renewal of the Presbyterian Church (with a correction):

Our dear friend and colleague in renewal, Diane Knippers, died this afternoon a little before 2 p.m. She had been failing for the last several weeks and was in the midst of chemo treatments, but had weakened enough that they could not continue them. Late this morning her kidneys began to shut down and several planned procedures were canceled. Her husband, Ed, was with her, as well as her Mother and Father, Vera and Clancey LeMasters, and her brother Doug.

Diane was a dear friend and colleague and a giant among those in renewal ministry. How we will miss her and her clear, mature voice. Many of you would not be aware that Diane was on the staff here at Good News in 1981, when I came to be Executive Secretary. She helped me get settled in for that first year, helped me learn to write, and was such a wonderful help in so many ways. After a year, she and her husband, Ed, moved to Washington, D.C. He is a Christian artist and wanted to pursue his career there in the nation’s capitol. So, Diane has been a long-time friend and has remained close to the work of Good News and our RENEW Network, under the leadership of Faye Short in Georgia. She was United Methodist for many years, having been reared in a home in which her father was a UM clergyman. Some 15 or so years ago, she became Episcopalian, and was a member and a leader at Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, VA. She also served on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) for a number of years. She was so widely respected across many different communions of Christ’s Church. I know we rejoice and give thanks to the Father for her faithful and fruitful life.

We will let you know about arrangements as soon as we learn what they are. Let’s continue to pray for Ed and all the family. Richest blessings on all of you.

Your friend and colleague in renewal,

Jim Heidinger
Still More

Michael Novak, writing for National Review's Corner observes:

Under her gentle but always brave leadership, IRD was very often the mouse that roared, terrifying the great grey elephants of national church bureaucracies into frantic panic. Calmly, Diane told the truth, and those who had been disguising suspect politics under cloaks of outward piety had to defend themselves in public, and often couldn't. Her sweetness of disposition was a gift of God. She now returns with it intact, enhanced by her consistent acts of courage, to restore it to her Maker and Redeemer.
And TitusOneNine has a letter from Mary Ailes to Diane, here.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Better than A-Rod? Here's a very interesting article in the NYTimes about a high school ball player on the same team with Alex Rodriguez and Doug Mientkiewicz. He was considered the best of all, yet never made it to the big leagues.

Speaking of baseball, Go Nats! It's hard to believe they're first in war, first in peace, and first in the National League [East].

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Other Papabile. Tony Hendra, author of Father Joe, has this article (in .pdf format) on his website listing some of the other possible candidates to fill JP2's shoes. For example, this one should make Father Richard McBrien happy:

Belgian Jean-Paul Georges Ringaud, Cardinal Archbishop of the sprawling industrial diocese of Sprout to the east of Brussels is widely considered to be the standard bearer for the left-liberal wing of the church. Cardinal Ringaud wants to reach out to other denominations by canonizing Martin Luther and naming the first Jewish cardinal. He would make the use of birth-control a sacrament and declare a Feast of the Contraception. He sees no reason why the faithful should not be allowed to attend Mass via cell-phone or Blackberry. A Biblical scholar by training, Ringaud shares with reformist Dutch and German theologians progressive views on the interpretation of the Gospels. The most dramatic is the possibility - according to the latest biblical research - that Jesus of Nazareth was actually a woman. Cardinal Ringaud welcomes the hypothesis: as he has said: the world is ready for a ‘Ms.-iah’ He is well known in his native Belgium for leading congregations in a prayer he penned himself: The Maternostra (Our Mother). This gibes with another of his convictions: the Church has not apologized to nearly enough injured groups – for instance to all women for the existence of the penis. His first act as Pope would be to abolish the papacy.
Luring Home Schoolers? Article here.
"He was my Pope, too..." So says Lutheran Uwe Siemon-Netto here. I am in total accord with Siemon-Netto's essay -- please read it all.

Pope John Paul has given the entire Christian Church so much to reflect on -- in his actions, his example, his faith, his theology. I'm sure I wasn't the only Protestant who pulled out some of his encyclicals in the past week. My particular favorites: The Gospel of Life, The Splendor of Truth, and Faith and Reason. They are available on-line for easy reading or may be purchased for a nominal price at most Catholic bookstores.

There is truly no way to express how much this great soul meant to so many of us.

We thank God for him.
Sweet Sistine. Here are the papabile brackets. I'm not sure, but I think it's a venial sin just to view this...

Monday, April 04, 2005

I Coulda Been A Contender... As Christopher S. Johnson writes: "Since the Pope died, nobody's going to be paying any attention to ECUSA for a while." Let's face it, ECUSA is class D ball even within the Protestant community, so let's look at the interesting stuff; the big leagues.

Naturally, there's a blog out there keeping an eye on the papabile: "Dedicated to the discussion of the possible successors of our Holy Father, John Paul II. Papabile: (pay-pah-bee-lay), n., one who is considered a possible candidate to be Pope."

If you want to bet on the next pope, you can look here the current odds are:
  • Francis Arinze (Nigeria) 11-4
  • Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italy) 11-4
  • Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Honduras) 9-2
  • Joseph Ratzinger (Germany) 7 - 1
  • Claudio Hummes (Brazil) 7-1
All odds, when posted, may be found here, at oddchecker...

If you really want to bet (I sure wouldn't), keep in mind the The Pignedoli Principle when reading the newspapers.

And, since you can't tell a player without a scorecard, here's a good place to look for the current information on who's who.

Last, don't forget about the prophecy of St. Malachy.


Thumbnail bios from the National Catholic Reporter...

Saturday, April 02, 2005

John Paul the Great. According to tradition, there are only two Roman Catholic popes who have been accorded the title "The Great." John Paul the Second (or Ioannes Paulus PP. II) should be known as John Paul the Great.

Now he belongs to the ages...

Karol Wojtyla

Father Richard John Neuhaus makes the case here.

Also, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in the Requiem Mass for Karol Wojtyla, refers to him as "the Great."

Friday, April 01, 2005

I'm Caspian.

As Prince Caspian you are a noble, goodhearted but mischievous scallywag! Fun loving, you are admired for your easy going nature.

(via my wife, who is Tirian [I'm jealous])

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A few things on Terri:

  • I have read the 11th Circuit court's opinion and dissent and find the dissent much more persuasive, but then I'm biased, right? (opinion also here) Anyway, one of the most disingenuous points made by the two person majority can be found in footnote 1:
    Our dissenting colleague says that “the denial of Plaintiffs’ request for an injunction frustrates Congress’s intent, which is to maintain the status quo.” Dissenting Op. at __. The status quo is that Mrs. Schiavo is not receiving nutrition and hydration....
  • While the Federal District Court Judge James D. Whittemore was a Clinton appointee, Ed Carnes one of the two judges on the Court of Appeals was a Bush I appointee (and blocked by the Democrats, initially, see here). The dissent was authored by Charles Wilson, a Notre Dame grad and Clinton appointee. The other Circuit Court Judge, (Ms.) Frank M. Hall, was a Clinton appointee.
  • I recommend reading the special guardian ad litem's ("GAL") report, which can be found here. For those of us who support Terri's life, it is not favorable, but it does provide good solid background.
  • Read "My Last Visit with Terri Schiavo" by Barbara Weller, an attorney who represents Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler.
  • Other worthy reading NRO interview with Prof. George;
Finally, doesn't death by starvation seem really, really cruel? And, umm, unusual? I mean why not just give her a lethal injection and be done with it? Mr. Bradley addresses the active/inactive fiction that the cult(ure) of death advocates are using to wash their hands and keep their conscience clean.

You wouldn't treat a dog like this...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Heh. (via Captain Yip).
I dissent. Think of me as the nine and three-quarters justice:

BROWN V. PAYTON (03-1039)
346 F.3d 1204, reversed.

At the beginning of this month, the court in a clear case of judicial overreach, struck down all death sentences imposed on minors. Roper v. Simmons. Apparently wanting to show that he was not a cheese-eating surrender monkey (audio), Justice Kennedy, of Rubicon fame, upheld a sentence of death after the prosecutor repeatedly lied to the jurors about what could and could not be considered as mitigation in the penalty phase of the case.

Specifically, as Kennedy himself notes,

In his closing, the prosecutor offered jurors his opinion that factor (k) did not allow them to consider anything that happened “after the [crime] or later.” Id., at 68. The parties do not now dispute that this was a misstatement of law.
One must see the dissenting opinion by Justice Souter to see how persistent and egregious this "misstatement of law" was. See § II.

It could be that the jury could have come back with the exact same sentence, even if the prosecutor hadn't lied to the jury, but we will never know. For the Court today has held that a prosecutor, the agent of the state, can mislead a jury in a capital case and allow him to trick that jury into thinking it must disregard all mitigating behavior following the crime.

What is surprising is that he didn't cite to well-settled law in places such as Cuba, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

Ahh, the sweet mysteries of life.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

"They fought me at every turn." This has to be the weirdest thing yet: according to Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold the axis of evil runs squarely through my church:

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold identified by name six Episcopalians for having detrimentally influenced the course of the primates’ meeting in remarks to the House of Bishops at their March 11-17 spring retreat at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas.

The devil is a liar and the father of lies and the devil was certainly moving about Dromantine, the site of the primates’ meeting in Northern Ireland, the presiding Bishop said, according to accounts from several bishops who spoke to THE LIVING CHURCH on the condition that their names not be revealed. The primates were “out for blood,” Bishop Griswold told them.

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh; the Rev. Canon Bill Atwood, general secretary of the Ekklesia Society; the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Parish, Fairfax, Va.; the Rev. Canon David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council; the Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina; and Diane Knippers, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, were singled out for opprobrium by the Presiding Bishop for their behind-the-scenes roles at Dromantine.
Of this gang of six, two, Minns and Knippers are at Truro Church.

I told my daughter last night after picking her up from dance at Truro -- we didn't see those shady characters around -- and she and I just laughed, incredulously.

This is just so weird -- is Frank having a breakdown? Is this his strawberries moment?

("I know exactly what he'll tell you, lies. He was no different from any other officer in the ward room, they were all disloyal. I tried to run the ship properly, by the book, but they fought me at every turn. . . . But they encouraged the crew to go around scoffing at me, and spreading wild rumors about steaming in circles, and then old yellow-strain. I was to blame for Lt. Maryk's incompetence and poor seamanship. Lt. Maryk was the perfect officer, but not Captain Queeg. Ah, but the strawberries, that's where I had them, they laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, with geometric logic, that a duplicate key to the ward room icebox did exist, and I've had produced that key if they hadn't pulled the Caine out of action. I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officer . . . Naturally, I can only cover these things from memory. If I've left anything out, why, just ask me specific questions and I'll be glad to answer them one by one.")

(information thanks, as always, to Kendall Harmon and Christopher Johnson.)