Thursday, April 27, 2006

Late-nite ramblings & prayer request

Today I made a nice score at Rainbow Books & Records, including another copy of Frank Sheed's To Know Christ Jesus, one of my favorites of his works of street corner theology. Very few Catholic laypersons have achieved excellence in theology, and those who do bring a point of view quite different from that of the theologian who is a religious. Sheed's work is a bracing balm for my intellect.

Also I got something by Ronald Knox (The Hidden Stream), who is somewhere in the middle of my list of Catholic academics to read; some essays on Chesterton; two books by Stanley Jaki the scientist-priest; and a TAN book that I can't quite bring myself to read even though I know the content is good: Characters of the Inquisition. Reading up on the Inquisition is like making an appointment to go to the dentist -- an unpleasant duty. It is inevitable that if I get to defending the Catholic Church against casual attacks and put-downs, within five minutes my interlocutor will bring up either the Inquisition, or Galileo, or both. I am pretty knowledgable about the Galileo incident and what went so tragically wrong. I ought to familiarize myself likewise with the Inquisition -- the main players, the historical context, etc.

But I just can't stand to read about it. So little time, so many controversies... the ones involving torture are too distasteful to contemplate.

Meanwhile, my friend and book business partner Debbie's husband has had another mini-stroke. I asked Debbie how I could pray for her, what she needed, and she said this which I will pass on to anyone out there who wants to pray:

"Pray that I won't let despair and darkness overwhelm and that I can find contentment in the little things of my daily life."

That is a prayer that I can offer. Join with me. "For if two of you agree together to ask the Father anything in my name, He will give it to you."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mark "Perfesser Creekwater" D'Orazio

Here is a picture of my brother Mark as he begins walking with Crosswalk America: Where Christian Compassion Meets Progressive Action.

The walk had its official kick-off on Easter Sunday. But Mark spent all of Lent traveling from Oakland, California to Scottsdale, Arizona, a distance of about 900 miles. He started out in Oakland on Ash Wednesday, and made it to Tempe Arizona by Good Friday. Mark covered about 22 miles a day on foot. No wonder he looks so fit for the road!

the Scott Savage saga spins out

I just can't seem to get enough of the Scott Savage case at OSU. Maybe it's because OSU is where Bill and I met. More likely it's because I identify with Scott Savage. He looks like a guy who's been working like a good little soldier in academia for years, and finally just got fed up with the tyranny of the liberal academics who brutalize conservatives in the name of academic freedom.

Here's what Rebecca Hagelin has to say:

So much for academic freedom

Apr 18, 2006
by Rebecca Hagelin ( bio | archive | contact )

Scott Savage is a peaceful, devout Quaker who, like the Amish, avoids much of modern technology, and by all accounts is a gentleman in both his personal and professional life as a librarian in Mansfield, Ohio.

So, why has Scott been accused of sexual harassment at work, and why is his case lighting up the blogosphere?

You see, Scott works at Ohio State University's Mansfield campus, where he serves as head of Reference and Instructional Services at the university's Bromfield Library. Recently, the entire faculty voted – without a single dissenting vote – to investigate Scott for sexual harassment.

So what was his crime? Did Scott make sexually suggestive comments to a student? Did he grope a co-worker?

Nope. As a member of OSU Mansfield's "First Year Reading Experience Committee," Savage had the nerve to suggest four conservative books as required reading for the school's freshman class, namely: "The Marketing of Evil" by David Kupelian, "The Professors" by David Horowitz, "Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis" by Bat Ye'or, and "It Takes a Family" by Sen. Rick Santorum.

Suggesting these four controversial best-sellers was painful enough for the ultra-liberal professors there, but one of the books – Kupelian's "The Marketing of Evil" – caused the faculty to blow its circuits.

In fact, three professors became so agitated and threatened by the mere suggestion of their students' exposure to "The Marketing of Evil" that they claimed they felt "unsafe" and "threatened" on the campus, because of Kupelian's book, which they called "hate literature" and "homophobic tripe."

For instance, Assistant Professor Norman Jones (who teaches a course in "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender literature") said: "The anti-gay book Scott Savage endorses falsely claims that 'the widely revered father of the "sexual revolution" has been irrefutably exposed as a full-fledged sexual psychopath who encouraged pedophilia.' This is a factually untrue characterization of Dr. Kinsey and his work on every point. ... I am frankly embarrassed for you, Scott, that you would endorse this kind of homophobic tripe."

Excuse me, professor, but Judith Reisman, a Ph.D. researcher and world-renowned Kinsey expert, absolutely vaporizes your laughable defense of the mad pedophile sex scientist in her pioneering book "Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences."

Then there's Associate Professor J.F. Buckley (author of such gems as "The Social Critic: The Rise of Queer Performance Within the Demise of Transcendentalism"), who wrote:

Rather than waste your time with the paucity of intellectual rigor that Kupelian brings to the table, I encourage you to visit his website, and see for yourself his unmitigated homophobia and xenophobia. In short, he is a pontificating, phobic, cultural atavism bemoaning the loss of an (Anglo) America that only existed on such shows as "The Lone Ranger." ... As a gay man I have long ago realized that the world is full of homophobic, hate-mongers who, of course, say that they are not. So I am not shocked, only deeply saddened – and THREATENED – that such mindless folks are on this great campus. I am ending now, with the hope that I have seriously challenged you Scott, and anyone who "thinks" as you purport to do. You have made me fearful and uneasy being a gay man on this campus. I am, in fact, notifying the OSU-M campus, and Ohio State University in general, that I no longer feel safe doing my job. I am being harassed.

Fortunately, the Alliance Defense Fund has, like the Lone Ranger, ridden to the rescue and is vigorously defending Scott Savage from this vicious and obviously kooky attack on him.

Saying this is one of the most absurd cases he has ever seen, ADF Senior Legal Counsel David French commented: "Universities are one of the most hostile places for Christians and conservatives in America. It's shameful that OSU would investigate a Christian librarian for simply recommending books that are at odds with the prevailing politics of the university."

You can read the ADF's 48-page "Cease and Desist" letter here, which contains all the professors' demented e-mail rantings about Savage and Kupelian.

For a university that prides itself on academic freedom and presenting diverse points of view to students from all walks of life, it smacks of hypocrisy to ban materials that challenge the liberal orthodoxy. "The Marketing of Evil" is regarded as one of the hottest, best researched, and most eye-opening books of the year covering numerous issues. Unable to attack the substance of the book, the professors have resorted to the most effective (and most childish) form of “acceptable” intimidation – name calling.

The author of “The Marketing of Evil”, David Kupelian, gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation last September on the insidious marketing techniques employed to rewrite history and truth. Kupelian’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in public policy, marketing, or the reason for the fall of American culture. He’s also one of the best public speakers I’ve had the privilege of hearing. His words and work are brilliant and eye-opening, and should be required reading for college students across the nation.

As a matter of fact, “The Marketing of Evil” is one book every American needs to read. The OSU professors – frightened out of their wits just at the possibility that "The Marketing of Evil" could touch down on their campus – have made the case more eloquently than I ever could.

Copyright © 2006 Rebecca Hagelin

De-cluttering, 15 minutes at a time

Whew, that last post did a good job de-cluttering my mind. De-cluttering... that's where it's at for me at the moment. My daughter Reetie introduced me to
The Flylady and her plan for getting rid of the CHAOS in one's life. CHAOS, as in, Can't Have Anyone Over Sydrome,
which folks like me whose homes are perpetually untidy have in spades. I am the kind of homemaker who welcomes planned events at my house just so I am forced to clean.

Flylady's approach is 15 minutes at a time. You can de-clutter anything, she says (preach it, Flylady!, even if your cartoons are silly looking) if you do it in 15 minute segments at a time.

So I spent 15 minutes just now continue to de-clutter my linen closet. It's going hand in hand with de-cluttering my bedroom closet. I've now got a huge box of decent clothes, tablecloths, curtains etc. to take to Salvation Army. Get rid of things that don't make you feel good, she says. No matter what you paid for them, or who gave them to you. If they're ugly (to you), if they "talk" to you about how come you're so fat or how come you haven't used me yet or how come you never put me on your table... get rid of them, give them to somebody else or trash them if they're never going to be another woman's treasure.

It feels good to un-clutter. I have a feeling that Flylady is right, and that un-cluttering is as close to a Magic Bullet as one will find in life.

Also... my blessings, let me count them just a bit. Two of my sons are getting married very soon; my grandson Zeke just started walking!; I've got one kid who can take care of sick animals and another one who can kick ass in kung fu and protect me in my old age... I've got graduates, near-marrieds, already-marrieds, great sons-in-law and to-be-daughters-in-law. A husband who, like Jesus, became perfected through suffering (tho unlike Jesus he's not perfect yet), a beautiful place to live (externally rough but interiorly buzzing with promise), more than enough food, the probability of fresh tomatoes and fresh green beans this summer, and lots better health than I could have.

15 minutes at a time... somehow, that's even more hopeful than one day at a time.

Taking the time to explore my options.

The last two years have been unsettling to me. My health is poor, my psyche careens wildly on a roller coaster of emotion, and my goals for the future keep changing all the time. I wound up in the ER for a spike in blood pressure a couple of weeks ago; my slipped discs, arthritic hip and arthritic knee make walking difficult; I eat too much and exercise too little; at work I incurred the wrath of folks who like their Catholics spineless; at home one of my offspring battles acute depression while another one struggles with the heartbreaking challenge of a brain-injured newborn; my inner life feels like a seed that has sprouted a bit and is close to poking through the dirt to fresh air, sunshine and a world of light.

So how do I expose this struggling seedling to the water, air, sunshine and nutrient soil that it needs most?

I don't know. In two years I won't need the tuition remission benefits of my job at the University of Delaware. Judy Willets says I should work between now and then on my goals for my post-retirement life. I had all these ambitions having to do with literature and culture, but now I just want to BE. BE HERE NOW like that guy who changed his name to Ram Dass used to say. GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.

I'm on vacation until Monday. Is there a way I can keep working and find the time and the discipline to heal? I don't want a stroke before I'm 60. I don't want to walk with a cane. I'd like to embrace a slower pace of life.

I need to take the cure. How can I do this while I am working? St. Joseph, patron of workers, pray for me. Anybody out there reading this, offer a prayer for me. That I might know who I am and do what I am meant to do.

Screwtape recommends you all run out and see The Da Vinci Code film when it comes out...

Godspy published a witty little article by Eric Metaxas that is one of the better Screwtape Letter imitations I have seen:

Screwtape On The Da Vinci Code

Meanwhile, don't forget Barbara Nicolosi's Othercott of The Da Vinci Code film.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

OSU librarian slapped with “sexual harassment” charge for recommending conservative books for freshmen

I would say this outrageous story was an April Fool's joke except that it's become obvious, from where I sit at the University of Delaware, that the boomers like myself who are now in charge of academia have become every bit as oppressive and intolerant as The Establishment they used to protest.

It looks to me like the liberals in academia are also becoming terrified of conservatives gaining any intellectual foothold in the ranks of the young. It's not going to work, though. The more conservative thought is oppressed in our universities, the more young people will seek it out and embrace it. Although I no longer call myself a liberal, and can't quite bring myself to say I am a conservative, I am fed up with the bigotry and hypocrisy of liberal intellectuals.

Mike Adams has a good column on the OSU situation, titled The Intellectual Rape of Scott Savage.

Random thoughts on a Tuesday morning

"If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts."

Every day I harden my heart, and I think my experience is universal. To live in this world with a soft heart open to every facet of God's creation and every whisper of His voice is... to put it gently, difficult. Damnably hard, not to put too fine a point to it. The medievals talked about the world, the flesh and the devil. The moderns mocked that concept as pie-in-the-sky when we die. We postmoderns are learning again that the new order inaugurated by Christ is not out of this world and is not of this world. It is the yeast of the new world brewing from within.

Christ is the head of redeemed humanity. He "holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:24-25).

One of the foremost weapons in evil's arsenal is to separate religion from ordinary life. Nickey D'Orazio always said, "Religion is life." True enough, Mother, and I apologize for all the times I thought and acted as if religion were larger than life, and myself larger with it. We are made like our Creator. The inner life of the Triune God is meant to be our real life too. The bright green leaves and bold reds and yellows that are bursting out all around us in this beautiful spring time are the voice of God. If today we hear it, may we harden not our hearts.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter Vigil Day

Today we wait while Jesus sleeps in his tomb. Or harrows hell. My husband Bill had a picture on his PC of Jesus lying on a slab, dead. I couldn't tell what medium it was in, it almost looked like a photograph, but not quite.

Last week I attended a talk by Alex Pruss on time. He went over two primary philosophical theories about time, with the pros and cons of each. Theory B says that all events that we call past, present and future are equally real. That's a simplification and a good deal of the argument was technical and over my head. But under theory B, I think you can make a case that when we contemplate the mysteries of the rosary, we have access to those events themselves in a real way, because of the way the universe is constructed.

I once wrote, in a philosophy paper, that the Mass was the one true example of time travel. My teacher, of course, was Catholic, now my fellow Catholic Scholar Kate Rogers. But it isn't really time travel because during the eucharistic liturgy, Christ is present in his eternal sacrifice. It's outside of time, in an eternal present.

So yesterday I was thinking about the eternal present of the Way of the Cross. It's not that Jesus re-enacts his Passion over and over again on Good Friday, or when we contemplate the sorrowful mysteries. It's that those events, those salvific moments are made present to us in the celebration of liturgy and (in a different way?) in contemplative prayer. Kate Rogers says that the reason it is literally true that Christ died for each of us, even though we weren't born until way later than the historical moment of his death, is because in that eternal present of his sacrifice we can communicate to him, make ourselves known to him, be known by him, in an exchange of persons. That somehow has to do with this theory B of time which depends on non-temporal relationships, rather than relationships between temporal moments, to explain how event A is related to event B.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Rosary (a short film)

Browsing on again, I ran across this way cool eight-minute film made by a bunch of kids at East Catholic High School in Detroit, Michigan.

In case you don't subscribe to You Tube, here is a direct link to The Rosary.

It's creative, it's Catholic, it's horror/supernatural, and it's got a celebratory feel to it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rehabilitating the St. Louis Jesuits

I'm tired of all the snarkiness about the St. Louis Jesuits and their music.

Oh, I know it's Marty Haugen who bears the brunt of the "we hate folk Mass music" folks, while I prefer Bob Dufford and Dan Schutte. And Marty Haugen is not one of the St. Louis Jesuits.

But dang it all, I like this music at Mass! It's not the only music I like, but I object to its being made an object of laughter and scorn. I'm mad as heck and I'm not going to take it anymore.

My very favorite kind of music, hands down, is folk music, specifically folk ballads. I count it a blessing that I was a teenager when folk music had its shining moment in the sun. When I was a freshman in high school, I won a radio at the Ursuline Fair at my school. It was my very own source of music, and I listened to it night and day. My sister Marguerite, who shared my room, got to listening to it too. And it was guitars, ballads, folk harmonies, all of that beautiful narrative song that poured out of my radio.

I think the real problem with all you sourpusses out there who mock these cool old men and their music is that you had their work pounded into your head week after week throughout the 70's, 80's and 90's with no chance to sing or play the sacred music of our western heritage. You had little martinet music ministry leaders who thought the Catholic world began and ended with Vatican II. But it's not the fault of the music that the wrong folks got hold of it and turned it into a monopoly.

The music itself is fine. Here's the lyrics of one of my favorites, Be Not Afraid by Bob Dufford. We played this song at the funeral Mass for my son Simon, and again for Eric. I picked it out. When your child dies, you get a real visceral taste for what it's like to stand before the power of hell with death at your side. There was no song that offered me the gift of tears like this one at times when my faith was strong but the world was dark and felt hopeless.

You all know the melody. Now really, isn't this a beautiful expression of a central paradox of our Christian faith? That God is present in extremis?

1. You shall cross the barren desert,
but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety
though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands
and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid. I go before you always.
Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

2. If you pass through raging waters in the sea,
you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames,
you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow'r of hell
and death is at your side,
know that I am with you through it all.


3. Blessed are your poor,
for the kingdom shall be theirs.
Blest are you that weep and mourn,
for one day you shall laugh.
And if wicked tongues insult and hate you
all because of me,
blessed, blessed are you!


Monday, April 03, 2006

Father Alberione Monday

Stephen Crane lived a short life, from 1871-1900. Fr. Alberione lived a long life, 1884-1971.

Stephen Crane was 13 years old when Fr. Alberione was born. Fr. Alberione did not write poetry. But what he did write, more dense and less inviting than Crane's pithy word play, awakens in me a world of enchantment and hidden beauty in ordinary daily life as achingly joyful as any intimations a poet can give .
Above all, Jesus is the interior Master. What does this mean? It means that his work of teaching does not limit itself to the ear, but penetrates within. He created our mind, our will, our heart, and he enlightens us, because Jesus is the light which gives light to every man who comes into this world (cf. Jn. 1:9).

Perhaps we have rarely given consideration to the profound meaning of this expression: the Word is the light and the light is life (cf. Jn. 1:4); and all was made through him (cf. Jn. 1:3). When speaking of Christ Light, what is meant is the possibility of knowing. We can know things because Christ renders them luminous and he enlightens us interiorly. He gives us the cognitive power. He increases it, vivifies it, and renders it more penetrating, so that every thought will become an illumination of the Divine Master (HM III, 1947, Jan. retreat).
In the morning, therefore, let us place ourselves at Jesus’ feet and say to him: You are the Way, I want to walk in your footsteps and imitate your example. You are the Truth: enlighten me! You are Life: give me grace! (ER I 132)

Stephen Crane Monday

Let's start off the week with a poem by Stephen Crane. Bill introduced me to his poems way back in high school - he used to write poems in the same vein, which I loved because my friends would get these mushy love poems from their boyfriends while I would get these snippets of a young Bill Stabosz mind. I wish I could find the sheaf of poems he wrote, his children would be amazed.

I loved Stephen Crane's poetry long before I discovered that he, like me, was born on November 1, the Feast of All Saints.

A Youth in Apparel that Glittered

A youth in apparel that glittered
Went to walk in a grim forest.
There he met an assassin
Attired all in garb of old days;
He, scowling through the thickets,
And dagger poised quivering,
Rushed upon the youth.
"Sir," said this latter,
"I am enchanted, believe me,
To die, thus,
In this medieval fashion,
According to the best legends;
Ah, what joy!"
Then took he the wound, smiling,
And died, content.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Shout-out to the Chicago Staboszes

This is for the brothers and sisters of my husband Bill -- good to hear from you all, thanks for the notes and emails and prayers for Owen!

I tried to respond to brother-in-law Wally's blog comment but for some reason I can't write comments in my own blog. If my brain were working better I'm sure I could figure it out, but

{begin self-pity} ... these days I'm even more spazzed out than usual and my knowledge seems to be leaking out my ears in drips and drabs and sometimes rivulets {/end self-pity}

It made me smile to get my first correspondence from Wally. Thanks, bro'! Gerry has been keeping folks informed, Marge emailed me yesterday... a Great Big Hello to all of you guys in Illinois and Wisconsin. Staboszes are loving and loyal, I couldn't ask for a better family to marry into.

Speaking of Owen, Bill and I went over to Reetie house yesterday with Michael. Walter, Carrie and Em were already there. Owen's neck seems stronger, he's staying awake more and he's making little cooing noises as well as crying. He's like a little baby all wrapped up in his own little world, content to be cared for and held and babbled to, aware of what's going on around him but more interested in his own little world. I love to watch Bill with him, he does his famous baby crooning that he did with every one of our kids, and Owen responds and I think I even heard him croon/coo with him, but that might have been a wishful ear.

The next step is, he goes back to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for a re-evaluation. And then, he goes to A.I. DuPont Children's Hospital to meet a whole new team and get a whole new evaluation and second opinion.