Tuesday, May 31, 2005

It's a boy!

I have a new grandbaby -- Ezekiel Crawford Norton, Zeke for short. He is of course the cutest, most adorable, most beautiful, most intelligent, most talented baby that ever was born! (Since my last two grandbabies Ruthie and Wade). If I knew how to post pictures here I'd post a picture, but I haven't learned that yet so you will just have to take my word for it.

He is learning his alphabet and throwing a football around today. Tomorrow he goes for piano lessons and swimming. I am not a doting grandma, no not at all...

I'll be here in beautiful (hot) Selma, Alabama helping out until the 8th of June.

The beat goes on.

Deo gratias, Deo gratias, Deo gratias!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

a 22 year old war poet laments the death of one of his men

For all the book hunting I do, sometimes it's not until I have to decide to sell or not to sell that I actually peruse the books I've hunted down. Winnowing my books yesterday, I came across A Year in Poetry. Its resale value is negligible but it's a keeper. I put it in my personal pile.

In it I discovered a Scottish poet from WWI, Ewart Alan Mackintosh. He was a 22-year old lieutenant when he carried one of his wounded men, Private David Sutherland, back from enemy engagement. Pvt. Sutherland died before he reached safety, and so he left him behind enemy lines. He records Pvt. Sutherland's death in this poignant poem. It has me thinking about the war in Iraq.

In Memoriam
by Ewart Alan Mackintosh

So you were David's father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.

Oh, the letters he wrote you,
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year got stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer.

You were only David's father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up that evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight
- O God! I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all.

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers'
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying
And hold you while you died.

Happy and young and gallant,
they saw their first born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed, "Don't leave me Sir,"
For they were only fathers
But I was your officer.

Written in 1917, in memory of Private David Sutherland, killed in Action in the German Trench, May 16th 1916. The author was killed in action shortly after composing the poem.

See more of E.A. Mackintosh here.

photograph of an excess frozen embryo

Do we really want to tear these apart for stem cells?

More from Nathan Ael

Here is a quote from Winston Churchill posted permanently on Nathan's blog:

"Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." -- Winston Churchill

" Our lost pope of peace"

I've been reading Nathan Ael over on The Power of Christ compels me. His entries are strangely compelling. Here's one:

Our Lost Pope of Peace

"It is by uniting his own sufferings for the sake of truth and freedom to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross, that man is able to accomplish the miracle of peace and is in a position to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil and the violence, which under the illusion of fighting evil, only makes it worse."
- John Paul the Great in Centesimus Annus

History will look back at JPtG, and weep.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

my little grandchild, please come out to play

It's hard to blog when I'm in waiting mode. We are all waiting for my daughter Gabe to give birth to her and husband David Norton's first child and my and Bill's third grandchild. The waiting is excruciating. How could I have put my mother through this nine times?

I was supposed to have flown out to Alabama Wednesday to help care for the new baby, due May 9. But baby Norton is biding his or her time. I canceled my refundable tickets and bought some more for this coming Wednesday. Meanwhile, Pat Norton (the other grandmother) and I step up our prayers and tell ourselves that it's all in God's hands.

But jeepers do I want that baby to be born. Please join me in prayer that Gabe be safely delivered of a healthy child to start their family.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

send in the frozen embryos, followed by the clones...

Here we go again, and it's durned depressing. The state of Delaware is entertaining a bill that will allow use of human embryos left over from IVF for research purposes. Of course there will never be enough of these for what's needed in embryonic stem cell research, and so the next step will be another bill to allow cloning of human embryos for research purposes. Representative Mike Castle, our federal rep and a big ESC backer, has admitted as much when talking of his own efforts to allow use of these "discarded embryos" for research.

Meanwhile, I talked last week with a woman in North Carolina's whose 19-month old son was gurgling in the background. But was he really 19-months old, or much older? Being as he spent a bunch of time frozen before he was adopted by my phone correspondent and her husband, who thought a living child was a better use of frozen embryos than research, he's actually quite a bit older than 19 months.

Here's a nice article by Michael Fumento on how the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has gone over to the Dark Side, where the Force can be so strong... sorry, but I'm feeling sick about it all. And tired of the new battle, before it has even started. It seems a Sisyphian task to get folks to break through all the Doublespeak and see what's really being proposed here. Ugh.

Diabetes Foundation Loses its Way

Are you a neophiliac or a neophobe?

Eric Ewanco had a good post at Christifideles with a nice twist on an old adage.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

CBS cancels Judging Amy, Joan of Arcadia

For one brief shining moment... but there will be more.

The money quote of the article is this one, by Les Moonves, talking about a new supernatural show in the fall starring Jennifer Love Hewitt:

"I think talking to ghosts may skew younger than talking to God."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

blues in the night

Been seriously gloomy since Friday. Recovering now but thought I'd post a little ditty I wrote just for occasions like this.

where were you when the tide went out?
i was sitting on a sand dune tasting anxious doubt
i was padding down the island of the sun dried whale
i was swimming in a sea of funky wet

where were you when the headhunters shout?
i was licking up the remnants of a shark feared trout
i was shoring up the sea line where the waves beat blue
i was swimming out a diver's far from shore

where were you when the steamer fanned?
i was sucking up the bubbles of the crab filled sand
i was scrabbling down a cliff side waving arm to deck
i was gasping for the tug line pointed home

Friday, May 13, 2005

religion, spirituality, and snarkiness

My cousin Antoinette in NYC wrote me after our Uncle Dominic sent her copies of my homestyle Catholic stories. She got me to thinking about terminology when she wrote:
While I can't agree with your love of all things Catholic - I'm ambivalent in matters concerning religion - I agree with you that this world needs to focus on spiritual well-being and faith in God's plans. I don't like to get involved in commentary about religion, too contentious for me, but I admire you for putting your ideas out for public consumption. As for me, I spend considerable effort each day trying to stay in contact with God, but it seems like lots of times I fall short of my goals.
Two phrases jumped out at me: "too contentious for me" and the use of "religion" and "spiritual". I started to respond to her one way and then I realize that something had changed in me since the last time I wrote about the concepts of "religion" and "spirituality". If Antoinette hadn't written, I don't know if I would have realized that change. When I did respond, it was like this:
My mother used to have a saying, "Religion is life". Like you, she also found religion too contentious to embrace, although she held faith in high respect. I do embrace religion, in fact even when I was a kid I was like that, and already I knew it was a little out of the norm. I once began a combination illustrated manuscript/comic book about the seven sacraments and Jesus, and I was so embarrassed I kept it hidden in the attic because I would have been mortified if anyone had found it. One day I snuck into the attic to retrieve it and work on it and it was gone! I asked my mom if she had seen anything of mine like that and she said, "Oh yeah, I cleaned out the attic today and threw away a whole bunch of junk that was just lying around." You can imagine how I felt! :=-)

When I was younger, I used to disassociate myself with religion and only use the word "spiritual" but now I admit that religion itself is close to my heart, and not just the Catholic religion but all religions. I remember in eight grade doing a project on Islam and I just fell in love with the feasts and the seven times of prayer a day and the mullahs (sic) blowing the shofars (sic again! it's been awhile since I studied it). I always wanted to be close to God, as close as possible, and the religions of the world held to me the best promise of figuring out how to do that. I know that for very many people, the wars of religion, the hypocrisies and failings of religious leaders, the intolerance between adherents of different religions, very much affect the decision to approach God within a faith community. That has never much affected me. I have no idea why not.

In the end, I do stick with my mother's aphorism "religion is life", although she meant that it doesn't matter what religion you say you are, what matters is how you live. I guess I mean it turned around, ie. that yes what matters is how you live, and if there is religious truth that can help you live a more vibrant, hope-filled, other-embracing life then I want the religion that offers the fullest measure of that truth even if it's populated by hypocritical, failed, weak people. Because I don't know any human community that isn't so populated, know what I mean? :-)
What does this have to do with snarkiness? First, snarkiness may be the kind of contentious discourse that's fun to read but makes us shy away from engaging in discussion about ultimate realities. And secondly, the snarkiness I see not just on Catholic blogs but on all blogs has a lot to do with lack of respect for other "religions", whether those religions are actual dogmatic faiths or just (just!) political ideologies. JPII, of blessed memory, may have had a snarky bone somewhere in his body, but if he did it never, ever showed itself in public.

Snark? We don't need no stinkin' snark!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pious Ladies Bookmobile is on the move again

Bookselling partner Debfriend & I are getting ready to move from Abebooks to Amazon. If you sell books on Abe, you might want to consider making the move yourself.

Fellow Newark bookseller Mike Brooks discovered that due to the way the feedback game is played, a direct account on Amazon sells four times as much as an indirect Amazon account through Abe. I wondered if this was true for him just because he carries different stock than me. But as an experiment I listed about 20 books directly on Amazon on Saturday. Danged if I haven't sold half of them already.

Since my Abebooks sales had slowed down to a trickle, and now I'm back selling a couple of books a day, I'm going to move my whole operation over to Amazon. Pious Ladies Bookmobile will once again be moving its virtual offices!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

the rushing of enemy wings

I'm reading a rockin' cool book, to coin a phrase that the stately prose of the book in question does not in any way resemble.

The book is One Shepherd, One Flock by Oliver Barres. It's the story of the journey of a Congregationalist minister, and his wife who was also an ordained Congregationalist minister, to the Catholic Church in the early 1950's. How I came by the book is a story in itself.

After my first "homestyle Catholic" quotes in the News Journal , I got a phone call from an elderly gentleman who expressed his appreciation for the article. He was not the first older person who had given me that feedback. (And when I say "older", I mean older than my own considerable 55 years). The article struck quite a chord with older Catholics, and I heard from more than one of my friends that their elderly mom or dad loved what I had to say. That made me happy. These folks lived through such a time of having their faith put down by those both within and without the Church, it's nice they can enjoy the renaissance of love for the Catholic table that's going on with far more people than just me. The gentleman finished up his phone conversation by asking for my address and telling me he wanted to send me a book. A few days later, One Shepherd, One Flock , first published in 1956 and now reprinted in a beautiful trade paperback edition by Catholic Answers, arrived. It was written
by the gentleman himself, Oliver Barres.

The book reminds me of how cradle Catholics like myself can go their whole lives without seriously exploring the truth claims of the Catholic Church. How different their experience of the Church is from those who slowly, inexorably, often painfully come to realize that they must for the sake of truth leave behind the religious communities that nourished them and with whom they may have close and binding ties. When I first "came home" to Catholicism after my period of atheism and nihilism in the late 60's and early 70's, I wasn't serious about the truth claims of the Church. I was a pretty typical cafeteria Catholic, picking some doctrines, leaving others sitting on a shelf, feeling entitled to believe or not believe what I wanted. It was what everybody around me was doing. It was what the Catholic columnists were promoting. It wasn't until I became friends with Jessica Weissman, whose father had cut off contact with her when she became Catholic and abandoned (as he thought) her Jewish identity, that it occurred to me that embracing a religious faith might involve sacrifice of one's own comfort to an objective standard claimed as truth by that religion.

A shocking thought, at the time. Still a shocking thought to many. But the beginning of joy for me. To realize that not only was I not capable of figuring out, by myself, all the truths of the moral and doctrinal universe, but that I didn't have to. That Christ had included that in his toolkit for journeying through space and time, and given the keys to his most impulsive disciple, Peter. What irony.

One shepherd, one flock. Thanks, Oliver Barres. I started out to just quote a little bit from his book and wrote, instead, one of my Long Posts. *snore?* Here's what I wanted to quote. He's talking about the "strong, united, certain communism" of 1954 when he wrote, but his prose sings to any age:
The certain demonic zeal of those who hate God can be conquered only by the certain divine zeal of those who love him truly... [F]alse doctrines... can be conquered by the reality-teachings of Jesus Christ, but only when these true teachings are brought into life earnestly, selflessly, heroically, by men and women who are all out for God, cost what it may. Ordinary milk-and-toast Christianity just won't do in this extraordinary time of troubles. The foundations are shaking under our feet. The very skies overhead may tomorrow morning, or this evening, be filled with enemy wings. We can no longer afford to give lip service to Christianity while our hearts follow the ways of a pagan world.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

congregation conjugation

I'm feeling the least bit melancholy over the snarkiness and sniping that goes on within the Body of Christ. On the blogs, the mailing lists, the forums. In front of the world we are supposed to be helping Christ to redeem.

I took my vow of vocabulary abstinence so I won't talk in political categories or doxological (sic?) categories. But I am tired.

I'm no better at eschewing snarkiness than anybody else.

Snark is fun.
Fun is snark.
Fun to read.
Fun to write.
Fun to imagine those "like us" laughing in enjoyment at our snarks.
Fun to imagine those "against us" stung by our snarks.

I snark | We snark
You snark | You snark
He/she/it snarks | They snark

See Rae snark. See j snark. Snark, A., snark. Snark, snark , snark.

WWJS? Would He snark at all?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Buffalo firefighter breaks years' long silent stupor to converse with family members

After 10 years, brain-injured Buffalo fireman starts talking.

And adding a Catholic twist to the story, Did the Padre of the Poor have anything to do with this recovery?

Thanks to Pat Norton, my son-in-law David's mother, for alerting me to the story. Very soon, I'll be able to call Pat "[baby Norton's] other grandmother", as soon as my daughter Gabe delivers forth her and David's first child. Today is the official Due Date. Oremus! Please join me in praying for a safe delivery of a healthy child.

I'm gonna have a Southern grandbaby, and very soon!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Saturday mornings in May part 2

Okay, now for a partial list of books I scored today for the Bookmobile.

The Abbey Psalter: The book of psalms used by the Trappist monks of Genesee Abbey, hand-lettered text, art photographs from medieval monasteries, new introduction by Abbot John Eudes Bamberger, O.C.S.O. "A book for private use or to give as a beautiful gift." Maroon cloth cover with gilt lettering in Fine condition.
50 cents my friends!

The Brothers Grimm: Two Lives, One Legacy, Donald Hettinga, hardcover with dust jacket in Fine/Fine condition., 1st edition.
Dang! another 50 cents!

The Four Corners of the Sky: Creation Stories and Cosmologies from Around the World by Steve Zeitlin, hardcover with dust jacket in Fine/Fine condition, 1st edition.
The paper smells so good on this one and it's got that nice bright white thickness of quality paper.
25 cents.

I came back with five boxes of books, all of them in excellent condition. And my kids say I am a nerd. How can they!

Oh, a nice odd-sized edition of The Little Prince, " with restored original art" it says although the art looks the same as in my other copy. I think the colors might be a little different.

Then in the afternoon, I came across the Kirkwood Library having its annual sale. I only had 15 minutes to look or I'd be late for my next gig, but a quick look yielded four P.N. Elrod vampire detective noir mass market paperbacks, all in like new condition. And they had VHS tapes for a quarter apiece this year, audio cassettes for a dime. I bought a dollar's worth of audio cassettes, mostly country music, none I was familiar with but Dolly Parton, to play in our new used truck which came with a cassette player instead of CD. And for a quarter apiece I bought The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Fourth Dimension, some futuristic movie directed by Roland Emmerich that I never heard of (Mars 4000 maybe?), and The Hidden. As soon as I got back to the house I plunked myself down and enjoyed The Hidden, which I remembered liking but could not remember anything else about. Fun.

And I still have only watched the first two videotapes of Season 1 of The Highlander, after I scored the entire five seasons, complete, last week.

I love garage sales.

saturday mornings in the month of Our Lady!

It's May and you know what that means. Time for me to get serious about Saturday morning garage sales. I had some great scores today, and great scores last week. Woo hoo!

I've branched out. Instead of just looking for books for the Pious Ladies Bookmobile, I've scored big on clothes two weeks in a row. Wednesday the University gave a service awards dinner and I got to be wined and dined for having stuck it out here for 25 years. I had absolutely nothing to wear and then last week I hit a bonanza. Got a beautiful three-piece evening wear glittery shimmery thing that was so elegant when I wore it that the woman who runs our department did not recognize me. For $5.00!

Today, I ran into Kevin Hudson the young man who is re-doing the Catholic Scholars web site for us. Turns out Kevin just bought his first house, a nice place in Notthingham Green and his mom and dad were on hand as he had his first garage sale. And what did this nice young man have for sale? Two tables and two racks of plus-size women's clothes from decent stores, about half of which still had their tags on them. It seems that the lady he bought the house from was a shopaholic and left all the clothes behind when she moved out. It was like sale day at the old Wilmington Dry Goods. Lots of fun, lots of scores.

I guess I'll have to take a whole new note to talk about the books I scored.

Friday, May 06, 2005

humor from the UK

My friend Dave Kendrick sent me this, from a blogger in the UK:

We'd be getting more excited about the election
if the leading MPs were more like George Brown,
the deputy leader of the Labour Party during the
1960s. A noted drunk, George's finest hour came
at a London diplomatic reception. As the band
struck up the first number, he approached a
potential conquest in a long, red velvet dress
and asked, "Beautiful lady in scarlet, may I have
the next dance?"

"Certainly not!" came the reply.

"Why not?" asked George.

"In the first place you are drunk. In the
second, this is not actually a waltz but the
Hungarian national anthem; and, thirdly, I am not
a beautiful lady in scarlet, I am, in fact,
the papal nuncio Archbishop Mancini."

What do women want?

My husband sent me a link to this article by Dorinda C. Bordlee on the age-old question what do women want? Bordlee obviously thinks, as I do, that JPII's Theology of the Body is going to turn out to be the 20th century's Summa Theologica.

Read it here.

PS The COMPASS site the link is on is a new one to me. Looks kinda groovy (sic):
COMPASS is students evangelizing students. By uniting Catholic college students from around the country, COMPASS inspires and equips them to take the initiative in evangelizing college life. COMPASS's motto is "Take College Life in a New Direction!"

Star Trek + the Eucharist?

Kate Rogers would love this. When I took her course Philosophy in Film, I remember speculating that Mass is the one true instance of time travel that happens all the time. Over on Jimmy Akins' blog, they are discussing using Star Trek to explain the Eucharist.

Read Space Warp to Heaven here.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven

I have been hearing a lot of bad press from St. Blog's parishioners about Ridley Scott's new film Kingdom of Heaven. The most frequent complaint is that all of the Christian clerics are bad guys, none of the Muslims are, and it's a revisionist history of The Crusades.

I was sure I didn't want to see it. Then I read Sr. Rose Pacatte's review. Sr. Rose is my mentor in media literacy, she is a Daughter of St. Paul who currently is Director of the Center for Media Studies in Los Angeles. Two bits from Sr. Rose's review in particularly intrigued me:
The question of the meaning of Jerusalem in history, as a holy place and as a symbol, is the climax of the film. At the end, as these two men of conscience gaze up at Jerusalem, Balian asks Saladin, “What does it mean to you?” Saladin starts to walk away and replies, “Nothing”. Then he turns back and says, “Everything.”
Pope John Paul II offered what could be a commentary on a film like Kingdom of Heaven when he spoke in Syria in May, 2001, “Today, in a world that is increasingly complex and interdependent, there is a need for a new spirit of dialogue and cooperation between Muslims and Christians. Together we acknowledge the one indivisible God, the Creator of all that exists. Together we must proclaim to the world that the name of the one God is a name of peace and a summons to peace.”
I intend to see the film now. Thanks, Sr. Rose.

Read the full review here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Woo hoo! No more Eucharist to be sold on eBay!

The boycott is over. Read it here.

Rock for Life reports on pro-life t-shirt day

I love Rock for Life. These pro-life teenagers, a spin-off from a national adult pro-life group whose name escapes me, consider themselves "abortion survivors" because they made it to birth at a time when their peers were being aborted right and left. Their newsletter reported recently on the latest Pro-life T-Shirt Day, where high school and college students across the nation wore Rock for Life t-shirts to school. This is my favorite outcome, from Iowa.
Two Des Moines Roosevelt High School students say their right to free expression was violated when they were directed this week to change their anti-abortion T-shirts that administrators said might have disrupted school.
Read the rest here.

Monday, May 02, 2005

V-Day meets P-Day on RWU campus

Proving once again that she is without peer, The Anchoress provides us with a link to an article about Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, Delaware's sister " tiny state".

Students on RWU campus decided to counter the annual V-Day showing of "The Vagina Monologues" with a P-Day showing of "The Penis Monologues". Hilarity ensues. The giant walking phallus, Testacles, greets the university provost. Breakdown of hilarity ensues.

How can these kids be put on probation when V-Day posters, props and geegaws are endorsed by the administration year after year?

Gearing up for another Delaware ESC bill

Two Delaware representatives and one senator are working to introduce a bill to allow leftover IVF frozen embryos to be used for medical experimentation. Time to collect resources for another legislative battle.

Legislators are tired of hearing experts from both sides. I think we ought to bring to testify in the Delaware legislature a child born through the Snowflake embryo adoption program, his or her parents, and the parents who owned the embryos and allowed them to be adopted. Real live citizens (who vote!) with a fetching, true story would, I think, prove viscerally the falsehood of the argument, " The frozen embryos are going to be destroyed anyway. Why not use them for medical research?"

Other resources:

The Legend of the 400,000 Embryos
This is a 1999 article, getting old by now, maybe we can find
an update. The basic argument is good.

Connecticut Catholic Conference has a good legislative
bulletin. It includes both the talking points about the
400,000 embryos and the embryo adoption point.
Read Connecticut Catholic Conference's bulletin here.

Juvenile Diabetes Patients Need Read Hope, Not Hype

Testimony of Chief Scientific Officer of the Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation (JDRF) before Senate, with With Annotated
Rebuttal by the Autoimmune Disease Research Foundation

Diabetes Foundation Loses Its Way. This is the Michael Fumento article I linked to in an earlier entry.

The last three references have to do with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) which is, according to Rep. Pam Maier, the force and impetus behind the senate
bill that she, Sen. Blevins and Rep. Deborah Hudson are drafting. JDRF has become a leading political lobbyist for embryonic stem cell research. The Fumento article discusses Harvard Dr. Denise Faustman and JDRF's refusal to fund research that is already successful, using adult stem cells (ASC).

Here is an April 24, 2005 LA Times article that ASC critics may use against ESC critics:
Studies Revive Debate Over What Adult Stem Cells Can Do.

Does God exist? You decide!

Kate Rogers and Richard Hanley, both of the UD Philosophy Dept, will be debating the topic "Resolved: That God Exists" this coming Wednesday, May 4 from 7-9pm in Brown Lab, University of Delaware campus.

If you are in the vicinity, come see! We are not expecting a personal appearance by the Topic of Debate, but you never can tell...

See our cool ad.