Archive for March 2016

THURSDAY – “IS THE POPE CATHOLIC?”

March 31, 2016

One week ago – and the scandal is still being “discussed” —

Banner Easterthur

“Is the pope Catholic” – ha ha ha ha  (Not a joke.)

The answer is:  “Sometimes;   sometimes not.”  Sometimes any given pope will believe and practice what the Catholic Church teaches;  sometimes he will not believe and/or practice what the Church teaches.

(Note:  the pope is not the Church.)

And so we have popes who were very good and devout teachers, shepherds, examples, and disciples of their Lord;   and we also have popes who were scandalous and despicable;  and we have popes that were everywhere in between  on the spectrum of pope assessments.

(There is good reason to honestly consider what Catholic saints have envisioned:  that towards the End of this Age,  the pope becomes the dreaded False Prophet, which will lead   [undiscerning]  people into false religious beliefs, and thereby promote the coming Anti-Christ , in whatever manner that will come about.)

And as humans everywhere,  some popes suffered a great deal while in office;  some popes became unexpectedly bad, while others were able to grow in personal holiness, a task given to all men.

Got it?

Any given pope is not “right: just because he is in that office (the See of Peter).

Just before Jesus left this Earth leaving someone to govern in His place temporarily,  He met with the Twelve,  His most intimate, His most well-instructed friends, and taught them some of the dearest,  most precious things they were to do.

It is written that He “breathed on them”  after doing this, given them a specially ordained position among all the followers of Christ that would come after.

Jesus washing feet

This is one of the things He taught.  Not that they should go around with an emphasis on hygiene.   Not that they should copy this physical  action every year during Holy Week.  But this is a blueprint for the heart of the Twelve Disciples,  just ordained, now, for Service in the name of the Lord.

A priest is your servant.

Uh . . .  well, a good priest is your servant.    A  “bad priest”  can serve you only   by administering the Sacraments for you – the Church does nourish.    A bad, sinful priest, if truly ordained,  has consecrated Hands.  Woe to these Hands that do evil . . .  worse than for us who are not priests.

Actually, much more can be said about the meaning of Jesus, the Servant of God, and His demonstrative actions of washing the feet of His Twelve disciples —   newly chosen,  newly anointed, newly ordained  to carry on the saving work of the Church — but that’s the main point here.

We don’t ordain women.  Women have a special, elevated role in the life of  the Christian world and certainly as the foundation of every family –  (if only “modern”  women knew how).

Women have an irreplaceable (and honored) role in Christendom that stems from the reality of the Virgin Mary, the Untier of Knots,  the Un-Do-er of the tangle begun by Eve.

mary the untier

Mary, The Untier of (our) Knots

Women are elevated and respected by devout Catholics, but we don’t ordain women to do the job appointed to males.

The present-day pope,  not understanding this,  washed the feet of some women last week.   Holy Thursday  – a day to deny Church teachings, apparently.

This present-day pope also washed the feet of some non-Christians, who so far plan to  remain non-Christian.   Holy Thursday – a day to defy Church teaching.   (Are Muslims and non-believers expected to work within the Church and to bring Jesus to people?)

And so, on this Easter Thursday,  amidst rejoicing, and joy for the beginning of the Christian priesthood,  if we are to be honest,  there is scandal and astonishment that the leader of the Catholic Church could brazenly and publicly pat himself on the back for denying Catholic teachings.

Representatives of Christ,  prime ministers,  vicars, “bridges” – whatever English word you want to use for the office,  can be very disappointing.     Even so “ambassadors,”  which are we Christian people . . .  very disappointing.

Christ alone is the Head of the Catholic Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHY DO EASTER WEEK?

March 30, 2016

 Why do Easter Week at all?    I thought of some reasons:

Banner Easter Wed
I  “do”  Easter Week along with the Church,  (not the New Version, by the way, but the original, ongoing Church) because it affords me the time to savor the things of Eternity that we may come to know while still here on Earth.

bed of air
The things of this Earth change and pass away so quickly that there is nothing solid to hang on to.  Placing all your hope in this world is like resting on  a bed of clear Jell-O — really! —  it’s comfortable and easy and kind of fun at first,  but you sink down deeper and deeper and deeper and you begin to struggle for air, for the sight of other people,  for something firm to grasp onto — and there is nothing, because the things of this Earth offer no solid foundation.
Christ died on the Cross to give us a firm foundation to grasp onto –  an eternal foundation that will not change and that will always be benevolent and full of personal love for us.

I “do”  Easter week because as I catch myself growing older,  I understand  how much for a greater purpose is the time that is given to each one of us.   Time is fleeting!   Time is passing!
As you’re sinking deeper into that  bed of clear, comfy Jell-O,  there are many distractions offered on the way down.   Seems like fun.   Seems important,  for a moment in time.
How precious is the Time given to us?   Here is a quote  from Mother Angelica, who died just recently,    as she lay on her death bed, hanging on to life, hanging on,  hanging on.  She was asked why do you want to keep on living?   . . .  “Because I will have suffered one more day for the love of God… It will exercise you in virtue. But most of all I will know God better. You cannot measure the value of one new thought about God in your own life.'”

One.  New.  Thought.   About.  God. . . .

That’s what Time can give

I  “do”  Easter Week because I want to understand the difference between God in His Heaven, on the one hand, and this Fallen World, on the other hand.   It’s a clear choice.  The more I understand, the more my soul will choose God truly and rightly.  It works this way:  the more you know God, the more you love Him;  the more you love Him, the more you want to know;  the more you know God,  the more you love Him . . . .
One knows his loved one better by spending time together.   At least an Octave of days,  right?  And then every day of your life.

Finally,  “I do”   Easter Week because of the real contrast between Time and Eternity.   Nothing final happens in Time,  but I’d rather not spend my Eternity in a permanent state of Hellish, agonizing regret and despair and self-hatred (I should have known!).  I’d rather not have an Eternity being a plaything of the Enemies of my Soul,  the Enemies of God, who themselves are in such torment that not even tormenting me can ease their pain – but they have an eternity to try.

Time.  An Octave of time.   In the Epistle reading given to us today,  Peter is giving some powerful teaching about time.  He says,  You all, in the audience here,  the God who loves you so much worked through your ancestors to prepare you for Christ, and then, in your ignorance of Him He was put to death.  You denied the Holy One and the Just – and desired that a murderer be granted unto you. . . .  I know that you did this out of ignorance,  but now there is Time to repent – time to think,  time to come to Christ for forgiveness and for your salvation.

A paraphrase, of course,  emphasizing the use we can make of our Time remaining here on Earth.   The Truth dawns on us,  the Un-Truth becomes unworkable, intolerable, the desire for something Good and Lasting grows, and the Will comes into play — Time,  Time to choose!

That’s what having an Octave of Time is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIME FOR “TYPE”

March 29, 2016

Looks like Easter Tuesday gives us:  fun with types!

 

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The Octave of Easter gives us Time to work out and enjoy some of the meanings of Easter.  In lessons for today we are given  many thoughts about the Types that were fulfilled by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

A Type?  There are several definitions of the word,  but the most  wonderful,  the most useful to us is this: a type is a person, thing, or event that really exists (or existed)  that prefigures a future person, thing, or event of greater significance. . . .

Well, let’s just say a Type is like a beautiful door:

door

At first, when you’re new at this,  you realize that words can have two meanings:  one is the plain meaning the word signifies  (and all the things it calls to mind, in context and experience and definition).

There are Easter Words like  Passover   and Passage and Egypt and  slavery  and Israel and lamb and sacrifice and blood  and freedom. . . .words that tell the historical story.

Words that are openings (like a door)  to rich and  beautiful meanings.   And then —  you’re invited — you can ENTER through the door,  and you look all around —

foyer

You are welcomed in to a beautiful beginning, and you can look all around,  get a feel for the place, and get a clue that there is splendor and glory that is waiting for you.

You will find that those original words of that historical story have a deeper significance that can be matched to the real things they signify:   Pascal  Time  (Passover and Passage out of Egypt);   and the World we live in (signified by “Egypt”);   and  Mankind (signified by “Israel”);  Pharaoh, who points to the reality of Satan;  and  the lambs which are fulfilled in The Lamb of God;  and sacrifice, the willing Self-Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross;  and  the blood from the lambs, the Blood of Christ whose death really does save us . . . .

So much to think about!!!   We can’t just stay in the foyer!!!   Deeper understandings await!

interior

The interior of this beautiful home made for you is huge!   There are rooms and rooms and corridors to explore off the main hallway.

Choose a word from the story of the Israelite in Egypt, or their eventual and inevitable slavery and their cries of discontent and hopelessness; or the story of God sending Moses and preparing him in his childhood and manhood and his finally saying yes, he is willing; the Pharaoh with the ever-hardening heart;   the mastery of the God over His creation manifested by the Plagues;  release;  the night of the Passover  —

And this points to all the elements of the Gospel story:  the Son of God was sent to “seek and to save them that were lost”  and to die for them,  to Redeem the people of earth — and the motivation was the Love of God for us – and that never goes away . . . .

On and on –  you will never exhaust the details or tire of the story.  Again, the words used in telling the story are Types of the Gospel Story of Christ’s First Coming.   You won’t run out of rooms to visit!

room

Many place during this Easter Week to sit and rest and contemplate –satisfying,  welcoming,  comforting,  the whole Gospel story belonging to you . . .

Just  give yourself some time,   just choose a door, a word to begin with:

door door

Easter Week is only one Octave of days!

 

 

 

TAKING TIME FOR NEW

March 28, 2016

We’re in one of those times of the year called an Octave –  a week to enjoy and deepen the experience of something pretty powerful and good;  in this case,  Easter.

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But time can fly by pretty quickly and we can be tempted to close the lid on it and get on with our busy,  busy hurried full and complex demanding  lives.

But not so within the Church.

Whether you’ve just completed a long course of instruction so that you can enter the Church with understanding;  or whether you’ve just come across a deep insight about some point of Easter;  or whether you’ve learned something new and vital about yourself and the Resurrection of Christ;  or maybe just some small thing occurred to you —

Lily Light

 

—     there is time, now, this week provided  by our Liturgical Calendar to  savor what we’ve learned   and to     s  l  o  w    d  o  w  n      and explore what we’ve come to understand.

It’s a human pace.   A more human pace for thinking.     Because getting a new insight is a satisfying feeling.     It’s bright, new growth.

lily field

And if no new thoughts have come to you in the days leading up to Easter,  then there is time now, like a second chance,  to catch hold of something you may have missed.   There is a whole week of days,  a whole Octave of Easter,    to enjoy what’s there for us.

It’s okay if nothing has come to you yet.    In today’s Gospel we read about the two disciples who sadly left Jerusalem,  thinking they had experienced it all during this past Easter weekend.     They were puzzled, perplexed, and just wanted to go home to Emmaus.

emmaus showing

Here’s a famous painting of the Emmaus Road.   The disciples were met by the Resurrected Jesus,  something they didn’t expect or even even thought could  happen.   And there Jesus was,  taking this time to point out to them how He had just fulfilled everything that the Scriptures had written about it.

Let the meaning of the Easter events sink in deeper.

He explained how it all worked out in cosmology,  in history,  the development of prophetic understanding,   and in the recent current events which they lived through and knew so well that they couldn’t see the meaning of it all.

We can join them there on the Emmaus Road during this Easter Week.   The Church gives us time for it;  the Church encourages us to . . .  take time to think.

 

Bar Cross in middle

 

The world is a demanding and severe taskmaster.    The culture does not care for the needs of the individual.

Listen to the instruction of the Church — and compare:

“It behooves us all fervently to celebrate the feast of the Pasch in which our great High Priest was slain for our sins, and to honor it by carefully observing all it prescribes.  Let no one, therefore, do any servile work during these six days (which follow Easter Sunday)  but let all come together to sing . . .  and to assist at the daily Sacrifice,  and to praise our Creator and Redeemer in the evening, morning, and mid-day.”   (a 6th  century counsel, quoted by Dom Gueranger,  in The Liturgical year,  Vol. 7)

How nice.   Time to enjoy Easter.   Time to praise our God and to have friendship and fellowship with each other,  and to rest in our faith.

Or maybe we can only manage to just hum a few lines form Easter songs that echo in our ears?

 

 

 

 

 

THE 8TH DAY – JOY TO YOU ALL!

March 27, 2016

Just a short greeting today –  to bring you the JOY of the Empty Tomb!

Tomb empty

I hope you have all seen the movie “Risen”  and witnessed some of the irrepressible joy of the disciples of Jesus, after they saw Him — after the Crucifixion!    Irrepressible joy; grown men trying to be dignified, but almost giddy with joy.

Perhaps I’ve had a “good”  Lent,  because I know this Joy today, a little bit,  from early this morning while it was still dark,  and later in the morning,  and I think all day today.  Now our interior meditations can be focused on Our Savior,  Alive.

In good fun,  just to tweak some of my more somber, self-restricted  fundamentalist friends,  I wish them joy and fun and happiness on this day too:

Happy Easater

 

I keep forgetting what Easter eggs and Easter bunnies have to do with the Resurrection of our Lord — and yet I know and I understand that it has a rather mild and harmless connection;   which, by the way,  teaches little children about the Newness of life.   “Behold,  I make all things New!!!!”   Jesus says.

How exciting to wait for the confirmation of Good Things on Easter morning,  when you your Easter basket!!

The Old Week is past;  the old Seven Days are gone;   behold!  it is the Eighth Day!!  A New Time.

It is a Great Lesson on the way to learning this more mature lesson,  from the prayers of Father Amorth,  an effective and holy exorcist,  who teaches us Newness of Life,  Newness of Spiritual and Corporal health,  and release from that which drags us down:

“Heal, my Lord Jesus,  those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness . . . Heal me, O Lord, from the pain caused by the death of my loved ones.  . . Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that You are the Resurrection and the Life.   Make me an authentic witness to Your Resurrection,  and to Your victory over sin and death,  and to Your Living Presence among us.”

You may look up (on a Search Engine)  the Five Prayers from Father Amorth to Combat Evil,  but be assured,  his prayers teach far more than this one quote,  far deeper thoughts   that penetrate right down to where the Resurrection of Jesus actually touches our life.

If you choose to follow Jesus,  you can’t help but to be a witness to His actual Resurrection; as it says in the prayer:  “an authentic witness.”    You can’t help but to be filled with an inner peace and Joy. . . far greater than  Easter bunnies and the fun they bring to little ones who are just beginning to learn.

The Joy of Truth outweighs our earthly happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SATURDAY: THE NOISE IS GONE

March 26, 2016

From Friday to Saturday,  evening to morning,  another 24-hour period. 

See the contrast:

All that intolerable Noise –

Violence and malice,  bloodshed,   noise,  noise of mockery,   noise, noise everywhere,  noise of accusations, noise from mocking insults,  noise from derision,  noise of violence,  noise from the whip,  noise from blows onto a human body,  noise of tumult and blame,  noise from   a crowd that acts like a mob, noise of heavy wood falling to the ground wounding more the Man carrying it, noise of weeping,  noise of hammer blows,   noise from nature . . . . noise of a heavy stone being rolled into place,  noise of Roman guards with short swords of steel taking their place.

And now the silence – 

Today,  Saturday.  The Jewish Sabbath.    Rest from the noise.   Hiding from the noise.

Silence of the tomb.   Silence of aloneness.    Silence of sorrow.   Silence of fear.    Silence of tongues that have no words.     Silence of a heart that knows not what to pray.    Silence of waiting,  waiting, stuck in the moment.     Silence of remembering.   Silence of a miniature thought of hope, a nano-hope, which exists only in deadly silence.

What was it He had said?

The sun has gone down…  Saturday is departing in unresolved silence.

DISROBED, DEAD, AND GONE ‘AWAY’

March 25, 2016

Well . . .  “yes”  and “no” to the title.

The Son of God came for a purpose.  He had a mission.   “He came unto His own. . .”  (and “His own”  received Him not);  and he came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” (He did His part, but not all little lambs   want to be found)   “He laid down His life for the sheep”   (and that part worked – it was efficacious —  the Father accepted His life as propitiatory sacrifice.)

DISROBED:

But the Final Act of sacrifice occurs here,  on Good Friday,  this last 24-hour period of His life on earth,  beginning with a meal in preparation for the Passover.

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Uncovering the Bread

At the Passover table,  the unleavened bread is presented on a plate, and the bread is covered with a white linen cloth.   Here is some bread (some Finnish bread), and the cloth is not white linen —   but this is the act of “uncovering”  the bread, because soon it will be eaten – literally,  physically.

When Jesus and His disciples did this at His Last Supper,  the uncovering of the bread foreshadowed the very soon upcoming  Disrobing of the Body of Jesus in preparation for the crucifixion..

Disrobing Jesus

The Disrobing of Jesus

“I am the Bread of Life,”  Jesus taught.

And soon the bread will soon be “broken” just as the bond between body and soul will be broken within Jesus,  the appointed Christ of God.

DEAD:

Then came insults, mockery, and rejection.    “He was despised and rejected.”     “He became a worm, and no man.”     “He who knew no sin  became sin for us.”

And He became dead.

Jesus on cross

The Bread of Life is uncovered,  exposed, and vulnerable —  and “broken.”

GONE:

We can dispense with two heresies,  two erroneous opinions which keep coming up in the incredulous minds of men:

Human nature alone:  He was a man —  specially appointed, maybe;  specially empowered by God, maybe —   but just a man like any other man.     (And if that were so,   He would have his own sins and existential separation from God to die for.    He could do nothing for us.   He would be the savior of nothing and of no one,  and God would have been making false promises.)

Divine nature alone:   He did come down from the heavenly realm,  but He only appeared to be a man so that He could perform an act for us.   He only appeared to die,  because a god can’t die.   (And if that were so,  there would be no real contact with real humans.     He would not be one of us men who need salvation.)

Only with both true natures could Christ offer Himself to die on behalf of and in place of human beings,  and then have the power to visit the poor souls who have already died and to raise Himself up back to life   . . . .

GONE AWAY:

. . . .and to return to Heaven, giving the human race enough time to hear and to respond,  “whosoever”  will.

Gives us himself now

The Bread of Life Gives To Us Himself

 

There is time now for “whosoever”   to go to Him,  to commune with Him,  to unite with Him:  Jesus,   the Bread of Life;  because there is Peace now between God and “sheep.”

Because He is eternal God,  living by nature in eternity,   He is ever-present in every place in Time —  “from the rising of the sun to its going down.”   (Malachi 1:11)   Truly present for us.

He’s been broken dead.   Gone.   But  not “away” —   That’s the “no” answer to the title of this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PUZZLING IT OUT

March 24, 2016

(sorry for this unusual extended absence;  funk;  Scandinavian Funk)

So,  this is a most important week,  a most Holy Week, full of detail and meaning and mystery:

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      Jesus Overlooking Jerusalem

The “mystery” is not that I have done yet another jigsaw puzzle;   the mystery is God, the Creator of all things and of all people,   prepared a special nation,  all descendants of the man named Abraham through which He, God Himself,  could take on human flesh and join True Human Nature to His Divinity.

One Person,  two natures.  That’s a mystery.

And He did it for a reason.   To come unto His own people, this special nation,  to be one among them,  and to do for them what they couldn’t do for themselves — save them from their sins and sanctify them, to make them holy for the next world.

So there is Jesus in that puzzle picture,  overlooking His city Jerusalem which He loved.

“He came unto His own,  and His own received Him not,”  we are told.

Just as His last week of life began,  He looks over the city, and with a Heart of love, weeps for the city,  knowing what will soon happen to it.    “O Jerusalem,  Jerusalem;  how often would I have gathered thee up to myself as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings….and you would not.”

I think about this scene every year that Holy Week begins.   Such love.  Such longing.  Such sorrow.

The people of Jerusalem,  in their houses down there,   the people of Judea,  and  the people of all lands “even to the ends of the earth”  belong to another.    They belong to what Jesus described as The Strong Man.

Jesus had taught that you can’t steal from a Strong Man’s house unless you first bind up the Strong Man, make him powerless,  and only then you can take away from him his possessions.

We are those possessions.   The “Strong Man”  is the enemy of God,  Satan, if you will; and the “house”  is this planet.    We can’t get up and walk away by our own power.   We can’t break out of the house.   We are  helpless, weak,  and pretty much clueless and  unwilling.

So Jesus came to “bind” that Strong Man,  and to make him powerless over us.  That’s what He’ll  be doing for the rest of this 24-hour period:   a good day,  a very good day for us.

Good Friday.

banner for Himself  3

Soon, now.

SOME FUN FOR LENT

March 16, 2016

God is so much bigger than Man that although we can know Him,  He still remains a glorious Mystery.

banner for Himself  10

It’s still Lent,  10 more days to go;   soon it will be time to reprise those last days of Our Savior, during what we call Holy Week, and we’ll tackle a serious Mystery.

But meanwhile,  God is a Mystery, true;  and so are we – a mystery to ourselves;  and so is this interesting planet that is our home.    We know a lot about our planet;  but it still gives us surprises.   Let’s have some fun:

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A hole.   Appeared suddenly.   A reindeer herder noticed that up ahead, one of his reindeer seemed to be struggling,  like falling.   When he hurried up to see what was the matter,  he found that the reindeer had nearly slipped into this hole and was struggling to pull himself out!

This is land that the reindeer herder knew well.   That hole wasn’t there when he had passed this way several days before.   Some people in the vicinity have seen flashes of light from time to time,  but they are unanimous in saying there is never any sound.  No noise.

Since then, other holes have popped up, many miles away from each other, but still in the same Russian peninsula;  Yamal.

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They were ten to seventy meters across;  some were very deep,  some were not too deep.

A different angle.    Notice the  “little”  men standing at the rim:

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Scientists have taken many tests and measurements.    Here are some descending into a hole:

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This one wasn’t too deep:

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Not too deep,   so it presented more of a mystery.     Although some of the holes were beginning to fill up with water, which suggested it was a geological phenomenon related to sinkholes or sudden blasts of methane mixed with salt water at the level of the water table,  some were bone dry.

As  you can see,  some holes have hard floors, no water coming in,  and very oddly,  the bottom is extremely flat.   Flat is not something that you could have if there were an explosion of some kind.

This is more like a giant “plug” of soil was taken out of the earth.   But some “plugs” of removed earth do not have round circumferences.

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Well,  kind of round.  Maybe that’s a snow drift hanging over the edge.

But  —

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—   this has definitely square edges.

Now, apparently we should believe that these are random methane explosions, methane mixed with salt water, as I said above.   They repeat it over and over in the narrations, even though it doesn’t quite fit the description of the holes, and even though there are no known   (not yet discovered) methane deposits right there, and even though the nearest natural gas fields are many kilometers away,  sometimes hundreds and hundreds of kilometers away – so just . . .  not in the vicinity.

And they don’t look like explosions.    There are no burn marks around the edges and no residue of burnt material.   The edges show that some soil has spilled out, but not blown out or exploded out.    And where is the rest of the material that used to be in the hole?

They’re not sinkholes.    The geology in the area  is wrong for sinkholes, and sinkholes just don’t look like these do – and they have rough, jagged sometimes water-filled bottoms.

I have no answers.    I think it’s fun.     I think it’s still a mystery.

Look it up:  Yamal; holes; Russia. . .   (whatever).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WORD: Rulers

March 15, 2016

The whole point of having elections is to give the impression that you believe that people are smart enough to know what they want and to know what’s good for them – in general.    If that’s true,  then you can overthrow your king.   And hold elections.

R Vote

The Word:   Rulers

I look at the heads of state,  the presiders of the various nations,  the governors, leaders –  and I see them all acting in a similar way — and generally against the welfare of the people they are governing.  Truly leading the people in  directions the people do not want to go,  in nation after nation,   with just enough finesse that the people are not stirred up into a troublesome rebellion.

So why is this happening?     Who is ruling these heads of state and presiders and governors?    No conspiracy theory, just an observation:  Something is guiding them all into a similar goal,  into a  same purpose.   I call this group our Rulers.

That’s how I use the term here in the Spruce Tunnel:  Our Rulers.

It’s not that the Rulers are powerful.  It’s that they are powerful beyond our imagining.

The Rulers are not just very, very, very rich;  not even merely billionaires.   The Rulers are rich beyond imagining.

But they richly reward those who cooperate and obey — and those who repudiate any values and virtues which would impede their will.

Two categories of examples:

Let’s compare a couple of presidents in the U.S. and their families.    The many speeches, eulogies, and personal testimonies that I heard recently regarding Nancy Reagan made me happy to have been alive in her time – she is inspiring in some ways –  and it also made me question:   Why is the only thing I had associated with her name the fact that she chose new china for White House dinners?

Seems like a trivial matter, doesn’t it?   Truly,  it was a fact that the White House china had not been replaced in about forty years, and it was getting faded and obviously old.   I’m an American.  I’d like us to present a good table for visiting dignitaries.    She selected an elegant, though modest, set of new dishes.*    It was her right and her duty as First Lady.

r china
Yet, in spite of using  her own money and I think some private money donated by friends,  the entertainment-news media were told to excoriate her for her “extravagance,”  and they led the public to believe that she had been profligate with taxpayer money.  I remember reading those “news” stories.    It was a lie, but a strongly-stated, oft-repeated lie.   I’m so sorry, Nancy Reagan, that for many years when I heard your name I saw . . .   dishes.

r gown
All over the news on this day,  I see the two daughters of another version of the presidential family wearing new $20,000 dinner gowns*  – to be worn once, to be sure.   Two daughters:   $40,000 — and paid for by our taxes.  Did you know your money bought the r gown 2dresses?

I hear of “vacations”  by this family in the half-million and million dollar ranges – for each “outing.”

Our rulers richly reward some;  and others they don’t.

Values and Virtues?    

Nancy Reagan was mocked and ridiculed for her Just Say No campaign,  which was inspired by a conversation she had with some young people who were were in the midst of the drug battle.   She asked them;  they answered:  Just Say No.   There are many grateful testimonies that the campaign worked.

You wouldn’t believe it by hearing the entertainment-news media talk about it.   Mocked and ridiculed for just saying no.   We were taught to believe that the slogan was simplistic and unrealistic.

But what if you’re the other kind of person,   what if you don’t uphold or promote such personal virtuous behavior?    The auto-biography   (so-called “auto”biography)  of the other presider is full of personal stories of drug use, from the purported “harmless”  drugs right down to cocaine use.  It’s there in his book,  shockingly.   Parties and constant drunkenness,  admitted only for his teen years.    Constant sexual activity,  with same sex partners, as reported by companions.     That’s why I’m not naming any names.   (He who has ears to hear, let him hear here!)   He says he was a mediocre student (Harvard material?)  and wonders if he could have been better.   Just Say . . . “okay.”

So I repeat:   The word “Rulers”:    Those who Rule or who are in charge,  behind the scenes.  Those who use heads of state,  governors,  presiders,   leaders of nations, and celebrities of nations to do their bidding and who richly reward and protect those who cooperate.

And generally disregard the good of the people and of their general welfare.  **

How do you know if our Rulers are getting annoyed?    They begin to throw out bad names at those who don’t “cooperate.”     Of course you are not a Nazi or a Fascist or on the Extreme Radical (Dangerous)  Right!   Of course not.    But you’ve objected. . . .

There is a lot at stake in the American election come this November.

Bar fancy line

 

. *  Not the actual china or dinner gowns.  (But the actual gowns are rather immodest.)

. **  Although for several thousand years it’s been studied and taught what is the welfare of the people, what is the general good,  what is good governing,  good politics,  good civil behavior for both leaders and population,  these studies have been withheld from students around the world in most  school curricula in the past few decades.

Rare is the person who has studied what made Western Civilization a great source of freedom for the individual.

Our human Dignity –  the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of (true) happiness – is God-given and can’t be “alienated” from us;  but the Freedom to express those rights can be taken away.

 

WORD: Trumped

March 13, 2016

(Again,  as I’ve written before,  I endorse no candidate and promote no specific political party.  I don’t get too much of my news from American news media which is leftist or extreme leftist.  I prefer not to be propagandized.) 

But I do observe:

Trumped —  the process by which a man is attacked by  Illogical accusations,  savage name-calling, exaggerated  scorn, misplaced blame, and deceptive slogans,  simply because the man does not agree with your political opinions.

Opinions,  viewpoints – that’s all they are;  but some think that only theirs should be heard,  and the right to freely speak should be suppressed.

“To freely speak” —  Ironic,  because most of the savage attacks are bought and paid for, promoted with professional signs and t-shirts and ready-made slogans — about which the attackers are told to say  “I do not wish to give my reason.”   Just make sure to suppress or interfere with the right of others to freely speak.

Oh,  yes, and blame the person whom you are attacking.  Say:  “He caused it.”

The resulting confusion will be sure to stop the discussion of the actual issues,  a desired by-product of Trumping.

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Interesting that the people who are doing it,  young ones and not-so young,  don’t seem to realize that this tactic is an old, old, old one;  and has been used wherever democracy has been overturned.  You know,  “if you don’t know history, you are condemned to repeat it.”

WORD: Amnesty

March 13, 2016

A special alert to the people of Ohio this week:

Today,  Amnesty means:  “You’ve broken our laws and you require us to pay for your upkeep while you’re in our country – but we will let you get away with it,  even though it harms our own people,  harms our own laborers,  harms our children by spreading diseases to them that we never had before,  harms our schools and our hospitals,  harms our ability to protect ourselves, and increases the amount of violent crimes.”

“But we’ll forgive you anyway, and let you get away with it — after a bit of  bureaucratic double-speak and  rigamarole;  and then you can live here and we will pretend you are Americans.”

“And the world will love us.”

“And I, your Super Double Good Politician will get many many many new votes.”

The latest politician to make this statement  is someone named (Gov.) Kasich, who promises to the voters in Ohio that he will – within his first 100 days in office * – begin the process to grant amnesty which he calls A Path To Legalization.    People who have entered the country illegally will now become “legal”  under the new laws he will promote.

So, what have Americans known before this point?  How have they acted previously?  What have they learned?          I thank the Canadians ** for reminding us of the words of the great Rabbi Hillel who says: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” (in Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14)

If I am not for standing up for my own countrymen,  my own fellow laborers,  the institutions of my nation,  the safety of American men, women, and children,  including even standing on a pier in San Francisco and feeling safe from   foreigner who have committed criminal deeds more than once and have been released from jail  more than once  — and hundreds of other deadly incidents — if I am not for my own countrymen,  then who will be?

As to the second part of Rabbi Hillel’s teaching,  I need not repeat to you that America lets in more legal immigrants than any other nation in the world.   We share, we give, we help, we reach out to each other and to the world.    Founded on Judeo-Christian values,  this is a nation that writes generosity into its  public and private practices.

Toss out our Christian motivations?    Eliminate our Christian principles in the public realm?     Suppress the expression of Christianity in our nation?

Then we too will descend into a state of illogical actions and deceptive slogans  and unrealistic dreams and  struggles for power and position — because without Christianity,  Might Makes Right.

. * . You can Search or YouTube Search for Kasich – 100 days

. **.  The Canadian publication Canada Free Press, which usually looks pretty accurately at developments in this country.

 

WORD: Blame

March 11, 2016

Interesting current events right now, and the operative word seems to be “blame.”

Blame is asserting that someone is responsible for something, without reference to accuracy.    It’s one-sided,  no other opinions allowed.    Blame intends merely to defeat the target person with inflammatory words in order to  get other people to agree that your target is culpable.    Blame increases emotional intensity.

“Teacher!  Teacher!  Do you know what Johnny did?”     As a teacher of little children I’ve learned to recognize  when blaming happens.   I’ve dealt with it frequently.   The blamer is never really satisfied until their target is harmed in some way.

Sometimes blame is more than tattling.    It takes the shape of shouts, aggressive words,  pushing and shoving,  slogans,  and playing to the cameras.  Blame divides.   Blame has no interest in drawing people together.

So,  tonight in Chicago:

One group of people schedule a “party”  — a “celebration.”

There is going to be an invited guest.

A second group noisily crashes the party,  entering the place of celebration.  

The Chicago police advise the guest to not come, and to close down the party.

The second group rejoice that they shut down the rally!

The second group is still not satisfied and angrily continues to confront anyone they can.

The news media and many others BLAME  the party,  BLAME the guest,  BLAME the party-goers  –  and no one has yet blamed the angry,  violent-prone protesters,  nor will they own up to any responsibility.

Blame simply wants to win, without reference to accurate discourse,  without the goal of understanding.

So what do we have?

Democracy or Democracy?

Is it Democracy to hold a rally and let people express their points of view?

Or is it Democracy to shut down the rally so people cannot speak out their viewpoint?

Two groups:  (1)  Rally-goers and ( 2)  shut-down-the-rally goers.

Blame is not analysis.   Blame is the lowest form of arousal used in legitimate protest and does nothing but cause harm.   “Sticks and stones”  do break bones.

The Spruce Tunnel has not made a decision for where to cast its votes in November — but it will certainly vote against the protesters.

 

 

40 Patriotic Military Heroes

March 10, 2016

If I were king,  these are the kind of young men I would want in my army:

The 12th Legion:   They are strong, brave,  experienced in warfare, patriotic, pious – comrades in arms,  brothers,  ready for battle ;   and one time they saved the whole rest of the army nearby through their courageous actions and by the coincidental help of a powerful lighting storm,  earning for themselves the nickname:  The Lightning Legion!

soldiers

Young men,  like these.  40 of them in the Lightning Legion.  An emperor should be proud.

But this emperor had a personal grudge against Christianity.   These 40 men were young Christians,  faithful to the teachings handed down to them,  loyal to the bishop in Rome,  and above all,  believers in Christ Jesus.     The Emperor Licinius wanted them to pledge their loyalty to the Roman gods.

The year is 320 A.D.  in the dead of a very cold  winter  — and no, Constantine did not convert to Christianity and make the whole Roman Empire become Christian!    Didn’t happen.     In 313 A.D.  all religions were decriminalized, including Christianity,  but not including everywhere,  and this was the province of Armenia,  and it was time to get rid of the Christians here.

 

roman soldier

Each young soldier was told to pay homage to the Roman gods,  and one by one, each Christian young soldier that made up this Legion refused.

So, one by one,  each young man was chained to the prison wall, and asked again.   When they refused to give up their faith in Christ,  rocks were thrown at their faces, until they were badly bruised.

They were cajoled, implored, promised good things,   warned, and threatened with death.   Deny that Jesus ever lived!  Deny that Jesus is the Son of God!   Deny that Jesus died for your sins!    Deny that Jesus has prepared a place for you in Heaven and awaits you there!

All 40 young men were then stripped naked, forced to walk to the center of the frozen lake and made to stand there until they died of exposure.    They had time that night to write to their families. Good-byes.  Be joyful for us.   And one young man wrote his parents to take special care of his younger brother so that he doesn’t fall into the temptations of the world, and so lose his eternal soul.   Very touching.  A heart full of love, just before his own awful death.

Here is the lake today,  but not in winter.

lake not in winter

Imagine it frozen, though, and very, very cold.   I don’t even visit my own back yard pond in the winter with bare arms.     Imagine the 40 young Christian men standing on the ice together in the center.

Temptations and promises were thrown at the soldiers.   A large and very warm bath was set up on the shore so that the soldiers could see their relief – if they would deny Christ.  And many hours later,  one did.   Maddened by the effects of the cold winter winds on his body,  one young man ran for the bath’s steamy warmth.

As our physiology would have it –  the shock of the warm water killed him instantly.

The emperor’s men standing guard around the lake watched it all, and were moved by the steadfast faith of the  Christians.    What God is worth courage like this?    What God can strengthen His followers with joy amidst such suffering?

39?    One guard-soldier saw what looked like angelic creatures,   shining spirits hover overhead, placing beautiful crowns on the heads of the 39 soldiers, who were singing and praying out loud.    He began to understand.     The guard-soldier took off his clothes and ran out to join the young men   Now there are 40 again.

40 martyrs

By morning some of the men remained alive, somewhat.   The other guards were told to brake their legs and then throw them in the fires along the shore.     The bodies of all the martyrs were burned and the remains thrown into the lake.

Almost immediately  their story spread;   and they are honored as true martyrs ever since.  March 9th and 10th are the days various Christian honor them.    Poems, songs, churches and shrines arose in their name,  but most important of all,  their legacy is that it is possible to endure the worst that the world can give and still hold onto the Faith that has been passed down since the time of Christ.    And is certain that you will receive your reward, for ever.

Bar Cross in middle

 

Your nation can turn against you,  even the nation you love,   but Jesus never will.

 

WORD: Contradiction

March 9, 2016

As I wrote about in the last posting,  sometimes a contradiction occurs when there are two opposing facts which eventually forces us into a new realm of thought.

That poor Centurian Clavius, of that last post,  saw the Man dead on His cross – and also saw the Man later, alive and joyful and full of power.     Eventually,  the force of the contradiction caused Clavius’s thinking to “explode”  out into a new understanding of the joyous reality of everlasting life.

Think of the process as a tube of toothpaste:

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Sort of like that.   It’s being squeezed from the right and squeezed from the left, until finally the lid pops off and the contents explode out into  a whole new  understanding of existence more wonderful and free!

But there is a different kind of “contradiction.”      It’s one that makes no sense,  never makes any sense,  and never results in a new understanding.   You are given one set of “facts”  and then you are given another set of “facts”  that are contradictory.

You have a mind, and you have the faculty of understanding and discernment.    Eventually you reject one set of “facts”  and come to a deeper understanding of the other set of facts.

Today,  we Americans have a couple of people who want the office of the presidency.  To get votes they are  promising free just-about-everything.   Now, we know that whatever a government pays for,  it gets more of.   When the government pays for certain activities, it get more of that activity — and less of the hard work that is required to get that payment.

But the government doesn’t “make”  any money in the sense that it adds value to the economy by its labors.  Instead it takes money – from people who do the labor.    It takes money from some people to give to the people it has promised free (or “affordable”)  things to.

It says “by the very fact that you exist,  you deserve”   whatever it is that is desired — and therefore you will be given what other people have.

Great?   So vote for ME!

Commonsense facts will tell you that more and more people will become takers and fewer and fewer people will be givers.

But vote for me and I will  keep on giving!

But there will be less and less money to give you.

Works for a while.

But it is a self-contradictory form of economy – and it has to be upheld by more and more taxes and more and more oppressive rules to sustain it, including increasing surveillance to make sure we’re following the rules.

Free college?  Sure,  but we’re going to have to tell you what you can study.  (Note the experiences of the old Soviet Socialist republics.)

Free health care?   Sure, but we’ll tell you what services are available;  what doctors you can use;   what care we can afford to give you;   and when you’re just out of luck.

Affordable, subsidized food and shelter?   Sure,  but we cannot afford to give you very much. . . .

Fact 1 – An American society built on freedom,  personal choices,  hard work,  earning our rewards, the right to pursue as much happiness and well-being as is possible;

Fact 2 –  Or an American society which receives stuff from a   government which promises it all, as long as you accept its  rules and enforcement,  limited choices, and the right of the government to withhold the necessities of life – eventually.

We can’t have both choices because they contradict each other.   This is the contradiction which forces us to choose, between one or the other.     It doesn’t lead us to a higher reality;  it is reality.

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So . . .  this 2016 election — don’t worry.  Everywhere the system of taking people’s money to give it to other people has been tried,  it has failed and eventually ruined and weakened the country.

We’re too smart for that choice.    Right?

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WORD: Bewilderment

March 8, 2016

Bewilderment.  It happens to all  of us, sooner or later, more often than not.   But the ultimate “bewilderment”  comes to people who are being honest with themselves,  when facts seem  to be pitted against facts.

Bewilderment can be a good starting point.

The thought came to me in a movie theater tonight:

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My goodness!   When did theater seats get so comfortable???     Just a  $5 movie ticket,  and I nearly sank into these soft seats, enfolded in soft leather-like cushions that held me in a gently reclining position.     More for sleeping than movie watching.

Seems like I’ve been recommending a lot of movies lately.  The Revenant – chock full of Catholic-Christian values.     The Thirteenth Warrior – chock full of manly virtues of courage, honor, intelligence,  bravery, strength,  defense of one’s tribe,  protection of family, refinement . . . .

And now:  Risen.    An excellent portrayal of honest bewilderment.     Or the necessary bewilderment of an honest man.

The movie begins  right  directly after the death of Jesus.  That very day.

Fact:  The Centurian Clavius saw the  Man dead on the cross.   Then,  dead and buried.

Fact:   After this, Clavius saw the Man Jesus alive again.

It was interesting to see the power of the Romans among these native people of provincial Palestine.   That, too, was historically accurate and well-portrayed.    One gets out of the way of a Roman!   They had the power of life and death over people, and they carried out the death of Jesus.

And this Roman  Clavius  was tasked with the job of finding the dead body of Jesus after it became undeniably missing.

Then,   Clavius,  with power and intelligence and authority and common sense,  saw Jesus alive with his own eyes, after His death.    And he was justifiably bewildered  with an honest,  necessary bewilderment.

As the movie progressed, I saw Clavius cast off his  power, his authority,  his knowledge of the way things ought to be,  his manly pride,  and the strength of his own will.

As that happened,  his bewilderment became irrelevant.

He became even stronger and more sure. . . .

It’s the way it has to be for all of us.   Jesus didn’t come for the intelligent classes,  the well-educated,  the powerful,  those with authority,  those satisfied with themselves,  those sure they’re right,  the winners.

He just came for . . .    us.

Again,  fact –   He really walked among us – then was crucified.

sandals

Fact:    –  He really lives again –

Heaven smaller

No one needs to remain in a state of bewilderment.

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WORD: Absum

March 8, 2016

This is going to be Fun With Words week.     Words which add to our understanding.

Here’s a short introductory sample:

Absum.   Oh,  you want English?    Then:  Absent.  Far away.  Missing.   To take no part in something.

As in:

 

away

 

 

He’s not . . .  going to be here.

America is going to bury a very remarkable First Lady this week.    She and her husband lived by Christian values.    She is going to have a Christian burial.   It will be a Christian service.

The Barack Hussein person has announced that he will be absent for this Christian ceremony  honoring our former First Lady  – just as he made himself absent from the Christian funeral of a Supreme Court Justice a little while ago.     Missing.    Absent.

Absum

What If He Asked YOU ?

March 6, 2016

Not quite completely over my computer repair ordeal — but I’m “recovering.”

And just in time for the FOURTH Sunday in Lent —  and a thought about poor Philip – one of Jesus’ close friends who managed to both ask a “bad”  question and give a “bad”  answer.

(Ever give an answer that you wish you could retract as soon as you realize how inadequate it was?)

Today we read about his “bad”  answer:

FEEDING the 5

The question Jesus was asking of Philip is:   “There are thousands of hungry people out there.  How can we feed them?”

Philip,  ever practical, ever concrete, replied:  “Feed them?!   200 days worth of wages would provide only a little bite for each person!”

(And who carries around that much money?)

St. John,  the narrator of this event, tells us that Jesus asked Philip that question just to test him, to get him to reveal how he was thinking —  to stretch his mind a bit, as well as ours.

Well, they had to get food from somewhere;  the people were about to faint from hunger – and there was an important object lesson coming.   They had an offer!

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The “offer”  was:   “Here is a little boy with five loaves and two fish but we know that’s  not enough.”

(What we can give to God is pitifully small;   it is His divine condescension to add His supernatural power to make our efforts “good enough.”     And that just happens to be my lunch after church today:  fish and bread.) 

We know what Jesus did next in this story.   He took the small amount of food, raised it up to heaven, and blessed it.    I don’t understand everything about what a “blessing” like this means,  but we know that the blessed food which Jesus intended to use proved to be adequate and more than adequate for feeding the 5,000 or so people on that hillside.

philip

It’s not recorded what  Philip had to say about this,  but the event is a goldmine for lessons that Jesus,  Our Lord,  would want us to know.   Among them:

1 . . . Jesus knows and cares about each hungry individual person.   (True?    Do you know that to be true for you?)

2 . . . The people had been “following” Him.    What did they mean by following Him?  What did they want?   What did they expect?  What were they really hungry for?   In this life, when we “follow”  Jesus,  we are following,  but having not yet arrived.    Close,  closer, closest of all . . .   but a loving union —  that desire will be fulfilled completely only after we die — if indeed that is what we want.

3 . . . There is the crowd.  It takes all kinds to make a crowd, even a crowd of followers.  Some follow more or less intently;  more or less quickly;  more or less from out of their own desire.  Some just “follow the crowd.”      With less quickness,  less attention,  less  intensity,  less focus, less effort —  less anything,  you lose ground and the distance between you and your Creator increases — and then you are walking on dangerous ground.

. . . . Then let me skip all the other more minor lessons –  what Jesus had in mind is that He will be food  indeed,  bread indeed,  Manna,  for countless thousands and millions:

He gives His Body the night before His crucifixion, which means  (evening and next daytime are a day,  so this was part of giving His life for us :

this is jesis giving first

And it continues down through the centuries,  feeding millions,  unchanged in understanding . . .

(Today,  March 6, 2016) –

this is at the mass

Even a child can understand:

this is a child

So, remember Philip’s answer?

Jesus wanted to teach what God taught people under the Old Covenant:  “Man does not live by bread alone.”

This crowd,  this humanity amassed before Jesus,  was not hungry merely for bread.      They are hungry for communion and union with their Creator,  the Son of God,  the Word,  the Messiah.

Nothing complicated.  “A little child shall lead them.”

The simple, needy child in all of us,  can know more than what Philip seemed to know.

 

So,   what if Jesus had asked YOU how we were going to feed all those people?   We know now why Philip’s  answer was “bad”  or at least it showed a lower level of understanding;   and so did his “bad”  question:

“Lord,  show us the Father.”

The answer:    “Oh, my goodness, Philip.  Have you been with Me so long and yet you do not know that he who has seen Me has seen the Father?!”

Heaven comes down to Earth;  God comes down to His own people — and does not leave them,  not ever.   He leaves 12 baskets of more food;   12 apostles to found the Church that will be His living Body;

this is jesus giving

and He leaves  the Church to continue to distribute our Food.

 

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DE-JA-VU-STORM

March 2, 2016

(The lady laments):

Just about the same time as  last week.   Another snowstorm.  Like deja vu .

Which is a very good thing . . . .

Somewhere between 9 and 10 inches of snow today.  No need for a ruler this time.  You can see it two postings ago.   9 1/2 inches.     As I was shoveling – again –  I remembered last week’s Snow Bear —

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But it wasn’t there today.

Missing . . . .

We had had a couple “warm” days  this weekend so the snow bear I had made went away.  But since I was outside shoveling the same snow from the same driveway,  it just seemed like it should be there.

Which reminds me why this snowstorm is a good thing. . ..

And sorry for the dark photos this time.

My laptop and my desktop PC  are gone today.  Gone like that Snow Bear.   And so , too, is all my software for lightening up photos.   

The snowstorm made it a dark day today.

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Big snowflakes.   Dark day.

Dark, dark, dark.  

All the bits and pieces of my brain are in my missing laptop and PC.     So many times today I wanted to check email –  not there –  check the news –  not there –  answer some questions – not there —  find a pretty painting I was reading about — not there.     Dark.

I do love a good snowstorm.   I love having some useful exercise to do.  (I wasn’t planning to drive anywhere,  but shoveling snow just seems – useful.)   I love the beauty that the snow brings, and the geometric patterns on my backyard pond –

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Deja vu on watching pond patterns again, I guess.   I’d lighten that for you and turn up the contrast.   But I can’t.

My laptop and my PC both,  AT THE SAME TIME,  “got sluggish” to the point of being unusable.  My PC was giving me very scary messages like “No operating system found.  Press any key to reboot.”      Yikes.

I saw it coming.   But I delayed taking them in.  I couldn’t figure out what I would be doing without them while they were being fixed.

They’re in good hands now.   Geeks.  Real, genuine, computer geeks.   I’m very confident.  They weren’t much for small talk but they had a large computer vocabulary.    They seemed to appreciate having my computers to work on,  like  “Oh, boy –  an interesting challenge.”    At least I hope that’s what they were thinking.  

No one could have more affection for my laptop and my PC than I have.

So,   I’m glad for a repeat of last week;  another snowstorm to distract me, and all the things that come with a snowstorm:  fireplace, reading, knitting,   hot cocoa,  comfort food,  and a little fresh air.

Not much else to do.      I could write about something serious today,  like we shouldn’t rely on computers so much, especially when it comes to voting, like electronic voting where today in Texas the people who cast votes for Trump report that they watched their vote on the screen get changed to another name —

Computers can do funny things to you.   But I can’t think about that much now.

My brain is in bits and pieces on someone’s work bench right now.

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