Saturday, November 26, 2005

Last of our series of three talks at UD on stem cell research

I've been so busy doing that I haven't gotten a chance yet to write about our series of talks on stem cell research and cloning. By "our" I mean Catholic Scholars of Delaware, with some help from lots of other good folks. The last of the three talks is coming up this Thursday. Senate Bill 80 is scheduled for a vote in Delaware in mid-January. Please pray for Delaware, lest the "First State" become one of the first to authorize destructive stem cell research, cloning, and fetal farming. Anyone who thinks this is far-fetched has not been keeping up with the discussion and the texts of legislation like SB80.Brave New World is here. Now.

Catholic Scholars of Delaware
402 S. College Ave.

Newark, DE 19711

CONTACT: Kate Rogers, (302) 831-8480


Presentation is free and open to the public.

NEWARK, Del. – Multi-credentialed scientist Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk will speak about embryonic research at the University of Delaware on Thursday, December 1.

Fr. Pacholczyk, who has appeared on television and testified in state legislatures concerning issues of biotechnology, will address "Cutting Through the Spin on Stem Cells and Cloning" at 7 p.m. in 115 Purnell Hall. Purnell Hall is at the intersection of Amstel Avenue and Orchard Road on the University of Delaware's campus. The event is free and open to the public. Ample parking is available in nearby garages.

Fr. Pacholczyk is uniquely qualified to address this controversial area as well as dispel the notion that religion and science are incompatible. Before becoming a priest at the age of 34, Fr. Pacholczyk completed a postdoctoral program at Harvard in neuroscience, and he obtained a Ph.D. in the same subject at Yale in just three-and-a-half years. Remarkably, he had earlier obtained four undergraduate degrees — in molecular and cellular biology, in chemistry, in biochemistry, and in philosophy — all from the University of Arizona, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1988. After his ordination, Fr. Pacholczyk earned two degrees in advanced theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

This solid scientific background is critical to his approach in navigating the difficult subject of cloning and embryonic stem cell research, now embroiled in political and ethical debates.

“Good science should be the point of departure for doing ethical analysis,” Pacholczyk maintains. “I always do the first half of my talks just on the science. The second half I focus on the moral concerns.”

Father Pacholczyk’s remarks will be the final in a series of three presentations about research on human embryonic stem cells. In the first presentation, which was on Oct. 24, Wilmington attorney Stephen E. Jenkins, Esq., spoke about Delaware's Senate Bill 80. On November 14, Dr. Robert P. George of Princeton spoke on “Humane Alternatives to Destructive Embryonic Research.”

The series, "Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Learn the Facts," is sponsored by the University of Delaware's Prolife Vanguard and the Catholic Scholars of Delaware, and underwritten in part by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Robert Hugh Benson - the Anti H.P. Lovecraft!

You may have seen announcements from Michael Greaney or Deal Matthews (a pseudonym of Greaney's) about, the project to reprint the fiction of Robert Hugh Benson. Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson (1871–1914) was a Catholic priest, a convert from the Anglican Church, who wrote a series of popular short story collections and novels at the beginning of the 20th century.

I just bought The Light Invisible and A Mirror of Shalott from this new collection of reprints. I am reading The Light Invisible right now, and what a discovery.

I would character Msgr. Benson in The Light Invisible as the Anti-H.P. Lovecraft. I love Lovecraft's work, his supernatural horror stories are chilling and eerie. He writes of the Old Ones, Cthulu (sp) and such, the Necronomicon, a whole mythos about creatures who lurk at the edge of our universe trying to find their way back in to a world they once ruled.

But much as I like Lovecraft, his stuff is unremittingly distant and chilly. Not really nihilistic, more like hellish. His characters are neither evil nor good, so their encounters with the things that move behind the walls of reality and scrabble for purchase in our world have no tragedy or pathos, just a thrill of horror and loneliness.

It is a pleasure to read Benson, and see what the mysterious world of the unseen looks like through anti-Lovecraftian eyes.

The Light Invisible is a series of stories, interconnected. He writes in the format in which Lovecraft often wrote, common to late 19th-early 20th-century fiction, especially horror, gothic and supernatural fiction. That is, each story is framed by an encounter between an old priest and a younger man, in which the old priest winds up recounting a strange story from his earlier years.

Here is the excerpt that captivated me, from the first story in the book, The Green Robe:

"I stood on the border of a vast robe; its material was green. A great fold of it lay full in view, but I was conscious that it stretched for almost unlimited miles. This great green robe blazed with embroidery. There were straight lines of tawny work on either side which melted again into a darker green in high relief. Right in the center lay a pale agate stitched delicately into the robe with fine, dark stitches; overhead the blue lining of this silken robe arched out.

I was conscious that this robe was vast beyond conception, and that I stood as it were in a fold of it, as it lay stretched out on some unseen floor. But clearer than any other thought, stood out in my mind the certainty that this robe had not been flung down and left, but that it clothed a Person. And even as this thought showed itself a ripple ran along the high relief in dark green, as if the wearer of the robe had just stirred. And I felt on my face the breeze of His motion. And it was this I suppose that brought me to myself."

Not all of the unseen presences that the old priest catches glimpses of in the visions and adventures he tells the young man are good presences. Evil things abide just beyond our everyday life also.

Anyone who is Catholic and likes Lovecraft ought to love Benson. Or at least The Light Invisible. I don't know how A Mirror of Shalott compares.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Smileful stanza from Belloc

Pious Ladies Bookmobile acquired a nice old Catholic school English textbook, from The Pageant of Literature series. It's called A Book of Poetry, by Sister Teresa Clare, S.C. I forgot how cool it was to read a literature text that includes Catholic authors.

The poem, Our Lord and Our Lady by Hilaire Belloc, caught my fancy. Here's the last stanza:

They laid Our Lord in a marble tomb,
Dead, in a winding sheet.
But Our Lady stands above the world
With the White Moon at Her Feet.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Happy birthday, Rae!

My birthday was November 1, All Saints Day. I spent the day in a fugue if fugue means depression. I don't know because I have lost my old Home Page with its easy link to and I'm too lazy to type the URL.

No, that's not it, I'm just TOO EXCITED.

Bill surprised me Just Now with a new computer for my birthday! The kids knew about it but I had no suspicion. Bill and I rarely give each other birthday gifts of a material nature.

They got rid of me by having me to go to Shoprite to pick out my own birthday cake, mine and Carrie's (my to-be daughter-in-law whose birthday is Oct. 30 so we celebrated together today). While I was gone, they slipped the new computer into my old place. There's no new monitor. So when I sat down to check and see if I had any new sales from the bookmobile, dang if I didn't wind up saying, "Hey, who's been fooling around with my computer? My home page is gone!"

Everybody started laughing. I think money changed hands, ie. somebody won a bet. I took a closer look. Woo-hoo!! A sleek little black and silver CPU, 1/5 the size of my old one.

"Well, you had the crappiest computer in the house," Bill said by way of explanation.

And that's not the best. I now have music! Not just a sound card and speakers, which I didn't have before, but MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC.

Bob Dylan. Buffy Sainte Marie. Judee Sill. Mamas & Papas. Joan Baez. John Prine. Abba ("Everybody loves ABBA!"). Paul Simon. Simon & Garfunkel. Woody Guthrie. Carole King. Janis Joplin. Tony Bennett. Bruce Springsteen. Leadbelly. Joni Mitchell. Carole King.

I've been asking them all for years now to set me up with some tunes. I feel like such an old woman, but it's all I can do to keep up with the computer support I need to do at work for my job. Learning new tricks at home like how to make sense out of the complicated, ever-changing music download scene is more than this old dog ever wanted to do.

I have tunes! I have a faster processor! I have TONS of space to waste! I can burn CDs! I have USB ports! I am a happy, happy puppy.

Mmmmmm. Purrrrrrr. I'm listening to Buffy St. Marie with a big cake-eating smile on my face.

And I got flowers, flowers, flower -- three bunches, from three sets of folks I love.

Deo gratias! I am so blessed in my life, my family, my friends. Christ, remind me never to complain again this year...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My kind of movie

I really, really, really want to see Kiss, Kiss, Bang Bang. Val Kilmer & Robert Downey, Jr., who together have probably given more gray hairs to more Hollywood directors than any two actors in recent memory, together in a film noir comedy action flick.

And Shane Black, who directed and co-wrote this film, did the screenplay for the witty and very underrated The Last Action Hero, probably the best movie the governor of California ever made, after Conan.

Tag line:
SeX. MurdEr. MyStery. Welcome to the party.

Father Alberione Thursday

I had reason to reflect on the priesthood today. So tonight I pick up Fr. Alberione's THOUGHTS and read a chapter I've always skipped before, his chapter titled The Priest. I just had a birthday, my 56th, so this jumped up at me from that chapter:
In spite of everything we grow old! It's true. But let it be clear: the clergy will ever be young if:
- they keep themselves updated in studies;
- they live devoutly in their own day and age;
- their pastoral activity adheres to the needs of the people;
- they know how to pace their energies, as much as possible, through a well-regulated life;
- they live in the ageless, always youthful Jesus Christ, in every age and in the Church, which never grows old.
And later on:
The priesthood must not die. The particles of the Eucharist are consumed, but Jesus' presence in the tabernacle continues. Caring for vocations is the work of works. The first apostolate of Jesus was that of finding and forming those who would continue what He had begun, the apostles. Before beginning to preach, He had already gathered a small group of future priests, the apostles. He spent the best part of His public life with them.
And finally, Father Alberione's own prayer:

Jesus, Divine Master, may Your amiable heart be thanked and blessed for the institution of the priesthood. As You were sent by the Father, so priests are sent by You... Send good laborers into Your harvest, O Jesus. May priests be the salt which purifies and preserves, the light of the world, the city on the mountain top.

To which I say, Amen!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

How do I filter out spam on my blog?

Okay, folks, I finally have a moment to ask the $24,000 question that I'm embarrassed to ask because I am, after all, in the computer support business:

How do I get rid of all the spam that's been coming to my blog? Do I have to bite the bullet and say no more anonymous posting, and require people to register in order to make comments?

I'm not sure what brought about the recent flood of spam, but then I'm not really sure how my comments work anyway, since I have two sets of them.