Saturday, December 27, 2008

Science humor

Here's some science humor.
1. A physicist, a biologist, and a mathematician are sitting outside a cafe having tea. They watch two people go into a house across the street. After awhile, three people leave the house. The physicist says, "Measurement error." The biologist says, "Simple reproduction." The mathematician says, "If one more person enters the house, it will be empty." --by CW

2. An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are all staying at a hotel when for no adequately explored reason a small fire breaks out in each of their rooms. The engineer wakes up, gets a glass of water from the bathroom, and throwing it on the fire puts it out and goes back to sleep. The physicist wakes up, watches the fire for a few moments, measures the area, calculates the approximate rate of burning, works out the optimal amount of water needed, gets it from the bathroom and puts out the fire before going back to sleep. The mathematician wakes up and, upon seeing the fire, puzzles over it for a few moments, does a bit of work and proving that it can be put out goes back to sleep. - by Belgand

3. A dairy farm has fallen on hard times. They invite a physicist to come brainstorm ideas to improve the facility. The physicist spends a couple of days looking around the farm and prepares a presentation for the owners. His presentation starts with "First, let us assume the cow is spherical..." - by Teppo

I stole all those from a discussion in AV Club Onion about Slumdog Millionaire. Good flick by the way!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The manger is way, truth and life. O come, all ye faithful!

Christmas Eve arrives. The annual angst descends upon me. Despite the fact that we drew names this year instead of the usual free falling gift buying, will people expect gifts from me? Will they be hurt not to receive them?

I offer up a halting prayer, Hail Mary after Hail Mary while contemplating the Third Joyful Mystery of the rosary, the Birth of the Lord. I offer this up for my family and friends, and I pray for a Christmas miracle!

Lord Jesus, Christ Child, Son of David, Son of Mary, grant me a joyous celebration of your birth with the ones I love, and grant me the Christmas miracle of holding fast to a penitent, joyful heart with which to celebrate YOU! The reason for the season!

The manger is way, truth and life

From the writings of Blessed James Alberione- tip of the hat to Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry for sending this to her Pauline Cooperator charges.

The manger is way:

Descending from the heavens, Jesus does not choose to open a great university before men’s eyes. He comes to us instead, in a cave where the animals find refuge. And Mary, instrument of Divine Providence, places him in a manger. The reign of God begins always like a mustard seed. The works of God begin in this way. Blessed is the one who begins from the manger.

The manger is truth:

The manger is the center of the story. The manger is a lamp for humanity, a lamp that must give light to all humanity: ”He was the true light that enlightens every man.” (John 1:9) Since then, everything flows from the Son of God, who is the light, the Truth and Wisdom of the Father, so then all of the human and theological sciences find their center in the manger, because the true Master is Christ. All light comes from Jesus. God in his mercy, gives us His wisdom.

The manger is life:

The manger is grace. All the good things that we could ever desire or seek, we find in the Child Jesus lying on the hay in the manger. Jesus is totally poor as regards earthly goods but he is totally rich in heavenly goods, or better still, he is the wealth of the Father and of men. Let us go to him with trust and express to him our personal needs, the needs of humanity, the needs of our brothers and sisters, the needs of all we love and who love us. Let us remember everyone, widening our hearts, especially let us reach out to those in need of spiritual help.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a boy!! Meet Simon Eric Gregg, my latest grandson

Here is my daughter-in-law Carrie holding the newest addition to the family -- her nephew Simon Eric Gregg, born to Emily Rae Stabosz Gregg and Jordan Scott Gregg on December 19 (I think, gots to get that straight!) weighing in at 6 lb 13 oz and 22 inches long.

Welcome, Simon! Way to go, Em and Scott! Beautiful baby boy...

Donal, you're not the baby anymore!!

Here's a bunch o' pix.

A new Pauline blog!

Another Pauline blog is launched -- this one is called Love of St. Paul.

Welcome, Dr. Jeff Mathews, to the wonderful world of Pauline blogging. Blessed Alberione would be so pleased!

Check it out, folks. Lots of excerpts from Father Alberione's writings. That reminds me that I want to start doing that again.

Electronic communication is about as Alberionian as you can get!

Monday, December 22, 2008

When Nuns Sing...

Take a look at my sisters in the Pauline Family. Once you meet the Daughters of St. Paul, you'll never be the same!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why this shopping season is more & more like a gambling hall

I buy my clothes mostly at either Goodwill or Coldwater Creek Clearance.  I usually wait until Coldwater Creek has free shipping and some percentage off so that the clearance stuff is as low as it can possibly get.  I'm almost 60 years old and am probably never going to change my ways as far as being a funky dresser, especially now that I'm retired.

So Coldwater Creek has been touting a 25% Off with Free Shipping for the last couple of weeks. Yesterday, they sent me an email, "Last Day for Free Shipping and 25% Off!"  I went into their clearance site, picked out a couple of cardigan sweaters for winter, and then decided that I'd rather save money and look for cardigans at the Goodwill.

So this morning, in my Inbox, a new email from Coldwater Creek:

30% Off and Free Shipping!

Boy I'd be one peeved lady if I'd broke down and bought the cardigans yesterday.

Course now I'm tempted to buy them today...

But sheesh, corporate America, could you BE more DESPERATE?!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Laying down the faith vs works boxing gloves

Jimmy Akins has a nice post on the "new perspectives" on St. Paul that are being discussed in Protestant circles. Specifically, Protestant thinkers such as Kirster Stendahl, E. P. Sanders, James Dunn, and N. T. Wright are re-evaluating the Reformation idea of justification in light of what we know about the Hellenistic culture in which Judaism and early Christianity sought to hold on to their unique religious identity.  These re-evaluations are making progress in resolving the historical impasse between Catholic and Reform theology due to the heretofore intractable "faith vs works" controversy. 

Akins writes:

One of the common themes in new perspective writings is that when Paul says we are not justified by works of the Law he does not have in mind the common Protestant claims that we do not earn our position before God or that we do not have to "do anything" for our salvation or similar conceptions that rely on the concept of "law" as something abstract, philosophical, or universal.

Instead, new perspective authors hold, the Law that Paul has in mind is something concrete and specific: the Mosaic Law or Torah.

Adherence to the Mosaic Law was constituitive of Jewish identity, and by saying that we are not justified by works of the Law what Paul was saying is that we are not justified by obeying the Mosaic Law, by being a faithful Jew.

Instead, we are justified through faith in Christ, through conforming to him rather than to the Mosaic Law.

He then quotes Pope Benedict XVI in a recent address from his weekly catechetical instructions:

So what does the Law from which we are liberated and which does not save mean? For St Paul, as for all his contemporaries, the word "Law" meant the Torah in its totality, that is, the five books of Moses. The Torah, in the Pharisaic interpretation, that which Paul had studied and made his own, was a complex set of conduct codes that ranged from the ethical nucleus to observances of rites and worship and that essentially determined the identity of the just person. In particular, these included circumcision, observances concerning pure food and ritual purity in general, the rules regarding the observance of the Sabbath, etc. codes of conduct that also appear frequently in the debates between Jesus and his contemporaries. All of these observances that express a social, cultural and religious identity had become uniquely important in the time of Hellenistic culture, starting from the third century B.C. This culture which had become the universal culture of that time and was a seemingly rational culture; a polytheistic culture, seemingly tolerant constituted a strong pressure for cultural uniformity and thus threatened the identity of Israel, which was politically constrained to enter into this common identity of the Hellenistic culture. This resulted in the loss of its own identity, hence also the loss of the precious heritage of the faith of the Fathers, of the faith in the one God and in the promises of God.

Against this cultural pressure, which not only threatened the Israelite identity but also the faith in the one God and in his promises, it was necessary to create a wall of distinction, a shield of defence to protect the precious heritage of the faith; this wall consisted precisely in the Judaic observances and prescriptions. Paul, who had learned these observances in their role of defending God's gift, of the inheritance of faith in one God alone, saw this identity threatened by the freedom of the Christians this is why he persecuted them. At the moment of his encounter with the Risen One he understood that with Christ's Resurrection the situation had changed radically. With Christ, the God of Israel, the one true God, became the God of all peoples. The wall as he says in his Letter to the Ephesians between Israel and the Gentiles, was no longer necessary: it is Christ who protects us from polytheism and all of its deviations; it is Christ who unites us with and in the one God; it is Christ who guarantees our true identity within the diversity of cultures. The wall is no longer necessary; our common identity within the diversity of cultures is Christ, and it is he who makes us just. Being just simply means being with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Further observances are no longer necessary.
I find all of this quite exciting.  I have never been able to slog through the usual faith vs works arguments or apologetics.  I am heartened, in this year of St. Paul, by the new Pauline scholarship emerging from both Catholic and Protestant circles.  I also love the new biblical scholarship that incorporates historical-critical methods but allows them their proper role instead of elevating them beyond what is reasonable as was done in the latter half of the 20th century.  

For very many reasons, the twenty-first century is an exciting time to be a Christian!

Tragedy strikes again for close-knit Holtzberg family

Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, Emissary of Chabad House in Mumbai

Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg with son Moshe. Moshe was released by the Mumbai terrorists before the horrific killings in Chabad House.

The tragic deaths of 29 year old Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who opened and ran the first Chabad House in Mumbai, India in 2003, throws the spotlight on the Chabad-Lubavitch denomination of ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews. The Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidim are a dynamic group within contemporary Judaism who set up houses of hospitality throughout the world whose particular aim is to foster a deeper religious awareness among non-observant or weakly-observant Jews.

The New York Times begins its story on the Holtzbergs:
For many Jews, they are homes away from home: Chabad Houses, welcoming outposts in foreign lands or across the United States, places to drop in to celebrate Hanukkah, Passover or weekly Shabbat dinners.
Read the rest here.