Friday, July 29, 2005

Road Trip!

When life stresses you out, hit the road! That's what my brother, Mark "Perfesser Creekwater" D'Orazio always does. That's what I'm doing, in mid-August. The past three months have been discouraging, scary, depressing and heart-curdling. God has been faithful, of course, as have my husband, family and those friends I can still trust as friends.

But a road trip, by myself, 11 days tooling around Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, catching every library I can find in search of discarded books for Pious Ladies Bookmobile, going to unique little destinations like the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem PA or Roots Country Market and Auction in Lancaster County, wow! Those two places are courtesy of Travelocity's "Local Secrets, Big Finds" from its latest e-newsletter that gave me the idea in the first place. I'll never look at spam quite the same way again -- oh wait, I told Travelocity I wanted to receive their e-letters, so it's not spam.

When I started looking at out of the way places to go and cool things to do, I could not believe my luck when I discovered a Buffy/Angel convention just 125 miles away in the Poconos. Moonlight Rising is its name, and from all accounts it is a small, 400-600 person convention. Just the size for me. Kane will have a concert Friday night, that is Christian Kane's (Lindsey on Angel) "outlaw country" band whose CD I have played so much I'll need to get another copy.

I have to start off with the convention, because that will be my absolute only time commitment. After that, it's seven days of going where I want, when I want, it's going to be the kind of road trip I dream of and have never taken.

Literally, I dream at least once a month, sometimes more, of such a road trip. I love driving by myself, tunes blasting, good reading material for when I hole up for the night. Going it alone will be a dream come true.

I want to get back in touch with who I am. Away from this place, away from all responsibilities, away from a time table. Just me and the open road.

Can't wait.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Life in Academia & the Sensitivity of Professors

A story today from the Family Research Council, familiar to those of us who work in Flakademia where the right to free speech is not extended to those whose speech disturbs professors.
Student Punished for Expressing Opposition to Homosexuality

In an astonishing case that should alarm all who value freedom of speech, William Patterson University in New Jersey has convicted Jihad Daniel, a student employee, of "discrimination" and "harassment" for complaining about an unsolicited e-mail announcing a lesbian-themed film. In his response to the e-mail, Daniel requested that he not receive any more such e-mails, and referred to homosexuality and lesbianism as "perversions." This response, while blunt, was hardly "harassment." But the professor who sent out the e-mail claimed it was, and accused Daniel of violating university non- discrimination policy because his response "sounded threatening." The university found Daniel guilty of violating state discrimination and harassment regulations, and a letter of reprimand was placed in his permanent employee file. Daniel contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which appealed to New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. Harvey dismissed the complaint, asserting that "speech which violates a non-discrimination policy is not protected" by First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech. As FIRE notes, Harvey and William Patterson University would do well to recall the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, writing in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, that "freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

realistic prayer

Found this googling around. Described by the person who blogged it as "the most realistic prayer I know":

Dear God,

So far today, I am doing all right. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent.

However, I am going to get out of bed in a few minutes, and I will need a lot more help after that. Amen. [Gagler's Joke of the Day]

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

blogging is PLATO notesfiles, evolved

Another thing I realized is that blogging is one of the many evolutionary lines that descended from PLATO notesfiles from the late 1970's. Usenet newsgroups were a more direct descendant, but the blogosphere has something the notesfiles had but the newsgroups mostly never did have -- an active editorial hand at work. Because notesfiles started out as tools for professional work, they were never wild and wooly like the Usenet newsgroups. Someone exercises editorial control. Blogs are more like PLATO notesfiles.

One way or another, the Internet is still playing catch-up with what the PLATO online community discovered twenty-five years ago. But now it's the whole world. Are we ready for that?

blogging is a more dangerous hobby than fishing

Someone at work passed on to me an interesting article from Chronicle of Higher Education about how search committees now look at candidates' blogs as part of the hiring process. In most cases, the article says, blogging turns out to be a negative. It's a matter of "over sharing". Apparently the chances of finding out something good about a candidate from his or her blog are much lower than finding out something bad.

That makes perfect sense. I have been saying for awhile now that the next crop of politicians that come up will not have to worry about whether they inhaled or not... but rather what they wrote on the Web when they were young. Writers are not generally known for their discretion. Not those for whom writing is a nagging necessity.

Blogs are many things -- the point of the Chronicle article is that making your every thought available to the world at large is not that great an idea, when the world at large will be judging you in other arenas like the competitive world of employment. The Chronicle focuses on employment in the academic community, but the same holds true in any line of work. Blogging under a pseudonym begins to make more sense. Blogging is a hobby for most people. Generally speaking, one's prospective employers have to dig more than is feasible to find out about a prospective employee's hobbies, and what that employee is like when off the job and pursuing a hobby.

But blogging bleeds hobbies into professional life. A dangerous mix.

We have no constitutional amendments that cover fishing. But we do have one that covers expression of thought. Somehow, that factors into the equation also.

summer colds

From whence came the expression "summer colds are the worst"? I have a summer cold. For three days now I've felt like it would be a kindness to shoot me in the head. When I tell people I have a cold, they reply, "Summer colds are the worst" and I reply, "YES! YES!"

But I don't remember ever hearing this before, and I don't remember ever having a cold in summer before.

It must be like when you learn a new word, and then you hear it all the time.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Terri Schiavo's family's statement on autopsy report

I liked everything I saw of the Schindler family during the time of Terri Schiavo's dying (public execution IMO). I like what they have to say about the autopsy results. These are classy people.

Read it here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

my grandbaby Zeke's other grandmother Pat gives good advice to bloggers

Don’t let your blog get you into trouble

The story is becoming increasingly common: Someone faces legal repercussions for something in their blog.

Bloggers have been fired and even sued for postings in their online journals. For many reasons, bloggers are more vulnerable than traditional journalists. And the law as it relates to online journals is fuzzy at best.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation was formed to protect your digital liberties. So it’s no surprise that it provides information to bloggers. It has a treasure trove of information on legal issues.

Find out what you need to know about political and workplace issues. Even if you avoid these topics, you can benefit from the site. There’s information on privacy rights and intellectual property issues. If you’re a blogger (or an aspiring blogger), don’t miss this site! And if you know a blogger, pass it on!


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

can't we all just get along? who is my neighbor?

I want to start this entry with a comment Joanne left to my last entry. Finding it this morning was an affirmation of some thoughts I had been having at prayer.

Joanne wrote:
I don't know why you are so surprised by the enemies. Christ predicted it for His followers. If we take "can't we all just get along" to its current extreme of hyper-tolerance, we won't make enemies, but we probably won't be preaching the gospel, either. We, in and of ourselves, can't seem to get along. If we would all live our lives in Christ, I think we could.

Why indeed am I surprised to have enemies? The gospel makes it clear that enemies, like the poor, will always be with us. The same Master who told us, "Blessed are the poor in spirit", said, "Love your enemies." Of course we will have enemies.

I am getting ready to enter the second phase of the Donec Formetur retreat of the Pauline Family, a retreat based on the spirituality of Blessed James Alberione.In it we follow the purgative way, the illuminative way, and the unitive way of spiritual growth "Until Christ be formed in us," ("donec formetur"). This is a classic threefold way of spiritual growth to which Fr. Alberione added an explicit connection to the Trinity. He attributes each of the classic stages to one of the three divine Persons of the Trinity: the purgative stage (conversion and a new creation) to the Father, the illuminative stage (incarnation) to the Son made human, and the unitive stage (sanctification) to the Holy Spirit.

I was reading this a little while ago, and began to relate it to enemies:
Alberione asserts that his Christology incorporates the belief in a Divinity that is One but at the same time Triune and is therefore of its very essence relational; this belief sustains the importance for Alberione of the relational dimention of Pauline spirituality.

Christ is defined as the only begotten Son of the Father, ineffably united to him in the Spirit. Through his incarnation, he enters into a relationship of intimacy with the human race, for whom he becomes Master, Way, Truth and Life. Acceptance of that relationship to the point of Christification is what saves the human person. For Alberione, "to become saints, we are to incarnate God in us." This is achieved by entering into the school of Jesus Master, relating to him as disciple. This involves a lifetime of self-detachment, of self-giving, of devotion, until the disciple is one with the Master.
If Christ enters into a relationship of intimacy with the human race, then he has entered into a relationship of intimacy with his own enemies. If there is a relational dimension to the Divinity, then there is a relational dimension to war: we are related to our enemies.

If we are related to our enemies, we are their neighbor. The very stark fact that enemies exist puts the lie to what Joanne rightly calls the hyper-tolerant, mistaken mantra, "why can't we all just get along?"

The remedy is not tolerance, but love. Accepting the relational dimension to war, we must love our enemies because they are our neighbor.

This makes me wonder again about snarkiness in St. Blog's Parish. What role does rhetoric play in war? What are the just parameters of killing our enemies through language? What is fair in war?

The Internet brings a power to unite comrades in war who are separated by geography. I am thinking now of the culture war. Do we wind up squandering this unity by spending so much time telling each other about new outrages perpetrated by the enemy. Could we not use this unity to discover the meaning of our Master's command, "Love your enemies." ? As I have discovered through my own trials, there is nothing obvious about the meaning of that command.

How do we, as a virtual parish, love our enemies? How do we as a Church love our enemies? How do we do good to those who harm us?

I conclude by going back to what Joanne said:
We, in and of ourselves, can't seem to get along. If we would all live our lives in Christ, I think we could.

Monday, July 04, 2005

who am I?

If I am not the Rae Stabosz whom everybody likes or at least leaves alone to do her own silly Catholic thing, then who am I? If I cannot write in my own blog about my own troubles at work - about the very new and wrenching experience of having enemies - then what can I write? If I have been bloodied in the culture wars, then does that mean I am a soldier after all, for as much as I have wanted to be a conscientious objector through it all?

"Can't we all just get along" has been my mantra for interacting with people of all persuasions. My faith gives me hope, and hope translates into optimism in daily life. Political differences? Respect your opponents, and lobby for those whose vision matches your own. Religious differences? Respect those with whom you disagree, hold fast to your own understanding of God, and work for unity.

I am a writer, always have been and I expect always will be. Why do writers write? Danged if I know. Ego? Love of words? Necessity?

I started my blog as a journal, Confessions of a Cooperator. What it's like to live daily life having made a commitment to Fr. Alberione's vision of an army of St. Pauls covering the globe and working for the Lord. Working to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ the Redeemer.

But, you know, there's the whole turn-off factor of the name itself, "Jesus Christ." JESUS CHRIST. The Christ. Jesus the Christ. Yeshua. Jesu Christi. His name has been bandied about by his friends and foes alike for so many centuries that nearly everyone has a knee-jerk reaction to hearing him mentioned at all.

Who is he? Master, beloved, redeemer, adorable one, brave one, Son, Word-made-flesh, sacrificial lamb, bridegroom, living vine, shepherd, caretaker of souls, intimate friend, Mary's child, sign of contradiction, ascended one, glorified one, Messiah, misunderstood one, rejected and neglected one, the King of Heaven and Earth. My beloved.

Frank Sheed is right, in Theology and Sanity:

Nothing is rightly seen save in the totality to which it belongs; no part of the Universe is rightly seen save in relation to the whole. But the Universe cannot be seen as a whole unless one sees God as the Source of the existence of every part of it and the center by relation to which every part is related to every other. The man who does not see God may have vast knowledge of this or that section of being, but he is like a man who knows all about the eye, never having seen a face. His knowledge is of items in a list, not of features in a face... He sees nothing quite right, because he sees nothing in its context. We live in a vast context of things that are, events that have happened, a goal to which all is moving. That we should mentally see this context is part of mental health.

Now the Church does thus SEE the Universe. Just as we never think of an eye without at the same time being aware of the face, She never sees anything at all without in the same act seeing the face of reality: God, infinite and eternal, Trinity, Unity; humanity, finite, created in time, fallen and redeemed by Christ; the individual man born into the life of nature, reborn into the life of grace, united with Christ in the Church which is His Mystical Body, aided by angels, hindered by devils, destined for heaven, in peril of hell.

There in outline is the real Universe.

The test of anyone's mind is what is in his mental landscape. And it is not even enough that we should see the same thing as other people plus the things the Church teaches. Even the things that we and they both see will not look the same or be the same; because what the Church teaches affects even the things already in the landscape, the things of ordinary experience. It is like a physical landscape at sunrise: it is not that you see the same things that you saw before and now find yourself seeing the sun as well. You see everything sun-bathed. Similarly it is not a case of seeing the same universe as other people and then seeing God over and above. For God is at the center of the being of everything whatsoever. If we would see the Universe aright, we must see it God-bathed.

God-bathed. Mmmm. Makes me feel warm. And sane. It is my sanity I have feared for recently, my sanity because just by being myself I have made enemies.

But Sheed had a reason for titling his book Theology and Sanity, not Theology and Sanctity as at least one of the book's initial reviews mis-read:
If we saw a coat hanging on a wall and did not realize that it was held there by a hook, we should not be living in the real world at all, but in some fantastic world of our own in which coats defied the law of gravity and hung on walls by their own power. Similarly if we see things in existence and do not in the same act see that they are held in existence by God, then equally we are living in a fantastic world, not the real world. Seeing God everywhere and all things upheld by Him is not a matter of sanctity, but of plain sanity, because God IS everywhere and all things ARE upheld by Him. What we do about it may be sanctity; but merely seeing it is sanity. To overlook God's presence is not simply to be irreligious; it is a kind of insanity, like overlooking anything else that is actually there.

Theology and Sanity is a wonderful book. Marty Helgesen introduced me to it, just as he introduced me to the Pauline Family. Marty is like a guardian angel to me, but in the flesh. I love the way God puts people in our lives as little gifts that we take for granted and don't even realize He has given us. Thank you, Marty, good and faithful servant.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

More aid to Africa?

The Anchoress pointed out a good article by Allister Heath titled Live 8: good for sentiment, not for results. The whole piece is worth a read, its theme being that economic studies are showing that aid from Big 8 countries correlates negatively with economic improvement in third world countries. Excerpt:
A separate study from the Globalisation Institute this weekend finds that for every 1% increase in aid received by a developing country, there is a 3.65% drop in real GDP growth per person. Contrary to the conventional wisdom in the aid industry, the study finds that even where recipients have good governance, the effect is also negative.

Discovering Dolly

A few weeks ago I was at a library book sale and found audio cassette tapes for a dime apiece. I bought a bunch of country music tapes to listen to in my truck which has no CD player like my car.

I am enjoying making my way through them, but the revelation has been Dolly Parton. I have discovered a new favorite singer, and since she's been recording for so long I have a ton of music to look forward to hearing.

The name of the album I bought for a dime is White Limozeen. The title song is a breezy story of a "Daisy Mae in jeans" who comes to Los Angeles to make her fortune, future success symbolized by the eponymous white limousine that she's carting her relatives around in by the end of the song.

But the best cut is He's Alive, an eerie and vibrant retelling of the story of Easter morning through a first person narrative by St. Peter.

Dolly's voice has quite a range, and her delivery is infectious. I'm so glad to have a "new" singer to listen to!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Publisher decries progressive activist's efforts as censorship

I am finding it harder to maintain my vow of vocabulary silence about using labels like "liberal", "conservative", "progressive", "reactionary" and the like. So this entry will include a designation of activist David Brock as "progressive." I don't know Brock at all, I just know that he castigated Penguin Publishers for releasing a defamatory book about Hillary Clinton.

Publishers' Weekly reports on Penguin's response. Barbara Nicolosi told a story recently of attending the annual Humanitas Awards and hearing tirades on censorship by the religious right. So it made me happy to hear a publisher decrying Brock's attack as censorship:

Penguin: No to Censorship

by Steven Zeitchik, PW Daily -- 6/22/2005

Penguin has responded to progressive activist David Brock, who yesterday assailed Ed Klein and publisher Penguin/Sentinel for what he called an "obviously false and defamatory" book about Hillary and sought "a public explanation of what, if any, editorial standards and fact-checking processes the Penguin Group applies to its imprint."

Penguin's statement through a spokesperson today did not detail that process but instead expressed support for its author while implying that Brock's criticism of the book amounted to censorship.

Citing the "author's responsibility to assure factual accuracy" the spokesperson nonetheless said that Klein's book "received the same legal scrutiny that Penguin undertakes for other nonfiction books that it publishes, and during that process the author satisfied Sentinel that he could support statements in the book now under attack."

In the most intense part of a generally legalistic rebuttal, the spokesperson said that "The book publishing industry has always fought against censorship of any kind" and added that "[I]t is also important to note that Penguin Group (USA) has never let public opinion or the media dictate what we will or will not publish."