Archive for the ‘Books and Movies’ category

11,000 rps

February 25, 2017


11,000 rps.   I still gasp, when I try to think of it.

We live now in the age of, not revolutions per minute,  but of revolutions per second!  A little while ago   I was casually listening to an explanation of what they were proposing to do at CERN,    something very exciting to me,   when the voice said   “…  at 11,000 revolutions per second . . . .”        And each revolution,  once around,  is 17 miles!!!

I tried to grasp onto what that meant.    One can’t even visualize that accurately.   Anything large enough to be visible to us would be torn apart at that speed.    –  but we can make those speeds  happen . . .

And –  Boom!!!


Now, of course,   calculations are not made with that figure, 11,000 rps,  how often a particle speeds around the cyclotron.     They think in terms of equations, not words like “speed” and “charge.”    They use relationships between whole equations to describe   something that is beyond human experience.

A new issue:

But –  we’ve now created another area where we’re pretty sure we can control interactions at a speed that is beyond human experience;  and I just a couple hours ago finished a book that dealt with this issue.

Oh, it was pretty exciting fiction, a page turner;  but I learned a lot and some day we will all be very much affected by its subject.     Let’s see . . . .   the name of the book is  . . .  there it is:     “The Fear Index.”     (By Robert Harris)

You’d have fun with the plot if you’ve ever traded options.    The author uses terms like algorithmic hedge funds;  CBOE trades;   stops!   (ha ha);  liquidity;    sniping;  trading in VIX futures;  and the action reaches its climax in  the cortex of a CPU farm.     Like this:


In the book, the mad genius who invents the super-algorithms realizes he has created something with ” an intelligent mind of its own”   which learns,  protects itself, and eventually bypasses human input, way beyond the realization of actual AI.     How the system discredits its own creator is fascinating.     Possible?        Plausible.

Plausible because  the system has learned  the rules of human behavior  and uses  the consequences of human sin, immorality, and degradation  to place a  hit on its own creator.      (Never go to a  doctor or a psychologist who puts your records on a computer connected to the Internet!!  Hackers are the least of your fears!)

Well, that ‘s all.     Such is the world we live in.    I have no lesson or conclusion.  Just, we’d better all be aware.


Note for myself:    We have the story of Icarus.    We have Pandora’s Box.     We have the Book of Enoch where we see that (as the Greeks said),   “The gods  give us the toys with which we destroy ourselves.”     

Shiny toys we can’t resist.     We have “computers,” now;  and we want these machines to compute faster than we can act.

And the  gods?    Why would they want to give us these machines that can surveil us and control our behavior and create our attitudes and reward and punish us?

Cui bono?     Not us.

There are too many of us.


Too many of us even for the gods.   Though of superior intellect,  they are not infinite in power and knowledge.

I think we’ll  find  this   in the book of Revelation in the Bible, the last half of chapter 13.     Someday the gods – or he or it – will gather us all together into One World,   and somehow,  then,   we will all be surveiled and controlled –  or eliminated.


The Antichrist can probably control the algorithms better than any human.




February 17, 2016

If I go back to bed I’m going to know how much I hurt all over…   it’s not just “laryngitis”  — it’s whatever comes with a 101 temperature – and it’s not coming down yet, and so I just want to go away from my bed where I feel so terrible.

Might do a little feverish rambling tonight.    But this posting has been waiting,  and I’m going to mean what I say.

Have you seen the movie yet?      The“Revenant”?   I highly, personally recommend it.  (As long as you have a strong stomach —except, you’d better,  because the themes in this movie are as real as real life and we all must deal with them,  eventually.)

You know the movie has a grizzly bear in it:

Grizzly Drawing

I saved this picture because it’s a drawing, and I want to draw.   Draw a bear.

But those of you who know me,  know my history with  bear attacks, and you know why I consider bears to be  a metaphor for those things which stalk us, and then all of a sudden rush out and attack.      (Like a few million viruses in me right now.   Trillion?)

bear talking to you

You can’t always see the bear,  but by the time you do,  they’ve decided that you’re prey.   You’re the victim.

No way to fight:

Bear Trees a Man

Just endure,  for the duration.     Whatever the “bear”  are in your life.

Now, you know the story behind the Revenant movie is a true story.   There really was a Hugh Glass,  he really was a trapper;  he really did get attacked by a grizzly,  and two of his friends were really ordered to stay behind with him until he died (real soon), in order to give him a burial.

cowboy  Glass was featured in a recent issue of my Cowboy magazine:

Since the two companions were hungry and cold and being pursued by a small group of Indians who were intent upon revenge,   they really did leave Hugh Glass out there in the wilderness,  more than half dead.   And they buried him, slightly,  and moved on.

A lot of the movie is spent on Mr. Glass kind of getting himself out of his grave,  and then with determination and grit,  motivated by revenge and hatred for the men who left him behind,  he crawled and then limped his way to Fort Kiowa,  where he’d find out where those men are – and go after them.

If that’s all you see in the movie,  then it’s a pretty good,  sort of an okay adventure movie  with beautiful scenes of the wintry rugged West.  (Mostly Montana and South Dakota.)  I’ve driven through there.  It’s all true.   The scenery is beyond description.

(Not South Dakota,  but the scale is right.) —


But along the way there are some pretty powerful Christian themes.

For those of you who know the Bible,  doesn’t St. Paul say that this life is a very hard journey,   and you have to undergo many hardships and much pain and loneliness,  and you’ll have many enemies in this world, who’ll wish to do you harm.   We suffer in our Christian life as Christ Himself suffered,  humiliated, abandoned, and bruised.     (Is the servant better than the Master?)    If we don’t have it so bad,  we just shake our heads at how really tough and desperate some people do have it.

Hugh Glass just keeps living.  He just keeps going.  A lesser man would have laid aside his goal . .  . .

But beyond that just general and vague sort of metaphor,   there is the accompanying theme in this movie of revenge – and the choice between revenge and forgiveness.  That conflict actually drives the images and the action in the movie.

Hugh Glass was married to an Indian woman.   One of the more peaceful tribes.


Their enemies were the French trappers and soldiers,  the English (Americans),  and most of all, the other Indian tribes who bore down on them in frequent massacres.   The more violent tribes were in the process of driving out the gentler tribes during this time.

And so his wife was killed.   But she didn’t “leave” him.   She was a gentle soul, loving and  protective of him, and– she was taught by the Catholic missionaries.   She often “hovered” over him during his trek back to Fort Kiowa,  whispering to him both encouragements and restraints on the hatred in his heart.

Unreasonable!   Unreasonable to not want revenge!  After all,  that was the only thing that kept him alive.

And then she came to him once in a vision;  and this time she brought the unconditional love of God, the deep love upon which their (sacramental Catholic) marriage was based.     His vision took place in the ruins of a Catholic chapel – right out there in the midst of the wilderness.


desmet ruins

When his wife led him further into the ruins,  (they looked worse than this in the movie), he had eyes only for her,  but behind him you could see the ruins of beautiful and instructive paintings at the front of the church –

Michelangelo frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, Rome

You could see the crucifix,  in dark, faded paints,  Jesus,  angels,  Mary nearby, and many other images that help us remember and meditate on our teachings.   I knew instantly that this was a ruined mission chapel left behind by Father DeSmet.

(It’s worth taking the time to learn about this episode in American history:   Some of the Plains Indians had received powerful visions from the Great Father Above.    He told them that He would send men who came from far away to teach them the “whole truth” about Him.  The “rest of the story,”  as we say.    The Great Father Above showed them what the men would look like:  they would be dressed in black,  black robes,  and they would wear crucifixes on their chests.  The Plains Indians kept this in their memories and in their drawings.     Many generations later,  some English  (American) missionaries came to them,   ready to teach them,  but the Plains Indians rejected them.   They had a “book”  but they didn’t have a crucifix.   A little later,  Father DeSmet and his companions, from Belgium,  came to the Plains Indians.  Father DeSmet was instantly recognized and received,  and many Plains Indians became Catholic.   — And this was before the routine slaughter of the Indians by the  . . .  Americans.   They took out many Catholic missionaries too. )

So there, in the movie,  was the evidence of Father DeSmets’ visit and of the beautiful wilderness chapels that were built,  and evidence of the gentle, Catholic teaching of forgiveness, coming through the vision of his wife’s “visit.”

While I watched the movie I saw this loving, too-gentle teaching of his wife who was accompanying him on his terrible journey,  and I also saw the determination for all-too-human revenge inside of Hugh Glass.

As the movie ended,  he had his opportunity, and no one would have faulted him for what he was about to do.

A parallel story of revenge among the savages was playing out too, at the same time.   The movie brilliantly brought together these two parallel stories.

“Do  not   take   revenge.    Put   it   in   the       hands   of    God.      Justice    belongs    to   Him,    not     to   mankind.”    

Father DeSmet brought Catholic teaching to the Plains Indians.    Glass’s wife lived out those Catholic teachings for her husband.     And the savages were the Hand of God.

The word “revenant’ refers to someone who has returned from death, or just as good as death.     He has revived.   Been resurrected.      But see:  what did he “revive”  from?   The physical death he should have experienced,  but for his hate-filled determination?

Or did he revive from the spiritual death that had made him hate-filled and full of vengeance in the first place.

Sure would love to “teach” more about this movie —  but I think you can do your own thinking.

I’m all in . . . .

Bed is looking a little better . .  . .





May 20, 2014

“The world is so full of a number of things/I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings!”    That was a little couplet I grew up with in my children’s set of books, edited by Olive Beaupre Miller.

I wrote in the last posting about the terrible tragedy that hit close to this home and then the need for all of us to … then …  go on.   And we do.     So, a little “dazed,”  I took part in one of my favorite local “things”  –  our library’s Used Book Sale.     Come with me, see how it was:

Boo LaCrosseWell, that’s a LaCrosse field.  Together with soccer games,  there were eight fields in use by the children at school, and consequently all the parking lots were overflowing.Book ParkingSo   —   You get to park “out of the lines”  (of the parking lot)  and wherever you want to!   Or wherever you can find room for your car.

Then a walk to the right building, following the signs:

Book signIt’s not that round, gray building, it’s the white one,  way, way over in the distance.   It’s been a half-mile walk.    A fast one,  because I love books.     And then – a familiar sign:

Book Door Sign

First glimpse through the door at what awaits.    And it’s another familiar sight.

Book Coming InThose are the people at the table that you’ll see on your way out.  They’ll count your books and take your money.  And they’re waiting!

A little conversation and hello to friends,  but mostly we’re all pretty seriously concentrating on book titles –

Book PickingWho can resist books for 25 cents?   50 cents?   Or be wildly extravagant and choose a specialty book for $1.00 or $3.00!

Book Picking Room

Each table holds one category of books.    Fiction, Science Fiction,  Music,   Crafts,  Business,  Computers,  Foreign Language, Mysteries,  History,  Religion.      Here’s the Cooking –

Book Cooking

There are many, many audio books and CDs and DVDs  too.

Book CDs DVDs

But by now we notice the room is hot and stuffy, and our backs hurt from bending over and our arms begin to protest holding all those books we picked out.    As exciting as it is to arrive,  it begins to feel that it’s time to go.

Check out with the nice people who chat about your book selection as they count up the cost for you.  I had chosen a big audio book set of Homer:  the Iliad and the Odyssey.   I’ve been reading them and studying them for some time now, so I thought I’d have them on in the background and listen to the cadences of the words –  in English,  but nevertheless they were meant to be heard.   I was astonished when the man who was checking my books said,  “You’ll like Fagles!”

Fagles?    Fortunately he went on to discuss various translators, and he explained that Robert Fagles is his favorite translator of Homer.    “He’s the best,”   the man said.    I thanked him for that assurance;  kind of an affirmation that I had chosen well, however inadvertently.

No matter how much you know about something,  there is always someone who knows far, far more than you do.

As I left the book room,  I glanced upwards:

Book Sign Next Time

Familiar sign,  new date.   There’ll be a next time.

I was fairly restrained in my book choosing this time.   I walked out with all my books carried in one hand.     Holding a large bag.

Then I got to do something unusual – way out of bounds! –  driving deliberately on the grass at school.

Book Driving in Grass

A few weeks ago my house had a little “accident.”    All by itself a book shelf let go and collapsed….


I’m not surprised.  It was overstuffed anyway.   I sort of fixed the shelf, worked around the broken little supports – and then I solved the problem permanently:   I bought another book case to thin out the shelves a little!

And then I had a little empty space in the new bookcase….  just in time for the Used Book Sale.

“The world is so full of a number of things/I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings!”


April 3, 2011

Laetare Sunday;  “Stop-and-Rejoice” Sunday.   Right in the middle of Lent, we have a Sunday that tells us to stop and think what all this  season of penance is all about….It’s about the joy of the Resurrection, a Done-Deal,  The Messiah is come and is victorious.

Well, the weather wasn’t exactly “rejoicing.”    There was ice pellets, ice, slush, and snow showers predicted for my route to church, so I didn’t take that route.  The Little Red Car just may not be too safe on road surfaces like that, so I diverted myself back around in the other direction, westward, toward our capital city.

After that kind of church,  I “diverted” myself again.   Some friends of mine couldn’t be in town this weekend and wondered if I would like to go, in their place, to the Antiquarian Book Show, held this week in our capital city.   

I raised my eyebrow.    (The one my children used to read…and heed.)

And the man said,  “Yeah, I know.  But they hold it only on Sundays.”

But we all agreed The Antiquarian Book Show held out possibilities of rescuing antique religious books, the kind they don’t print anymore….so, this could be somewhat of a “religious”  activity, not a purchasing  activity of commerce….. possibly not a “confessible” activity.  

Rejoice!    Happy things, like going to a book show.     A diversion from Lent…  


   On the way home from church, then,  I buzzed around and around the city blocks until I found a place to park.   I was hoping to walk inside this walkway to the building where the Book Show was being held,   but the entranceway was closed.   

A quarter of  a mile of covered sidewalk would have been nice on a windy,  icy cold day like this.

I pulled my hood up over my head and buttoned up my coat and became a tourist in my own nearby city….

I don’t know what this is.   It’s a machine inside a …. display.   By the time I got close to it, I was battling the wind and the cold rain, and I forgot to read the sign.   It’s a kind of a clock, I think, used here long ago.   Or maybe some gears from an ancient version of the power company.    Or some machine used in building old cars….   Oh, dear…..I really ought to go back and look some day.

Here is the end of that covered walkway, over the river, and leading into the Center where the Book Show is.    Quite scenic, actually.  Especially when the sky is blue.

Inside that building:One buys tickets for the Antiquarian Book Show at the Box Office   and way down by the beautiful window is the entrance into the many displays of books.  

I’ll leave the photo blurry to hide actual faces.   There were security people everywhere.   I took this photo”covertly.”    Not sure if I was supposed to.    Everyone else seemed intent on inspecting the books, not photographing them.  

I don’t have a “collector’s heart,”  (much to Hubbie’s ongoing dismay) but there were two “old” books I was hoping to find, both for Cooper.    One is a copy of Aesop’s Fables, with which to lay a good foundation for character in a young child.    And the other was the wonderful children’s book called Little Black Sambo, a book which gave me encouragement and comfort when I was a wee little girl in an adult world, with no brothers or sisters, and not much help in figuring out which things were scary and which were not.

The results of my book aisle meanderings:

Two books;   I was successful in finding a nice copy of Aesop’s Fables, the purple book that slides into its own little cover-folder.   Not many illustrations, but pictures are a lot less necessary than you would think for children.   I know.  I was once a child reader, and the words of books made many, many pictures in my head.  

The other book is an old biography of St. John of the Cross.   Published in Spain, of course, translated into English in 1958, and printed with real covers and real rag paper.    That will be a nice one to hold in  my hands as well as to read.    One hundred years from now it will still be in this same good condition.

Little Black Sambo?   Yes, I found several copies in the different booths.  Price range was  $25.oo to $150.00.      No, thank you.     My own Golden Book copy from childhood cost 25 cents.    I wanted this book to be in Cooper’s little hands.    I might have a grandmother’s heart, but, as I said,  I just don’t have a collector’s heart.


October 10, 2010

No, not me.   The “miserable sinner” to learn from is this man:

He is St. Francis Borgia, and it is his feast day today, Oct. 10.   Here are some of his words as he began his oath to the Religious life:

“I, Francis Borgia, Duke of Gandia, a miserable sinner, unworthy of the vocation of God and of this my profession, yet trusting in the mercy of the Lord, and hoping He will be propitious to me….”
Although I know personally I am a sinner, most of the time I have no comprehension of what being a “miserable sinner” even means. I don’t have enough wisdom or knowledge to understand my own spiritual misery.  

“We understand the state of our souls better as we move towards our Holy God.”   That’s what Francis Borgia did, during the course of his whole life.   I’ve known his biography for a little while now, but  I had never before seen him in a devoutly written biography in which the saint’s motives and words are presented in the light of holiness.   The author is “devout” in that he is devoted to God, as is St. Francis Borgia, and for that reason the author is able to show us the soul  of this saint.

“Redeeming the time”  with  Francis Borgia:

Today is the 20th Sunday after Pentecost.    During this season the Church continues to teach us and lead us into a more devout and holy life – if we would just pay attention.    The Epistle Reading for today tells us to “walk circumspectly” (very carefully); “not as unwise, but as wise:  redeeming the time because the days are evil.”

“The days are evil.”    As my Friday morning class pressed the point onto me, “It’s always been this way, there’s always been evil.”    Well, yes; over the past 20 centuries, this last period of time of human history,   evil has waxed and waned.  There are some who say this planet is dying;   more importantly, it’s a dying world.  In the Gospel for today,  a Ruler comes to Jesus because his son is dying and is at the point of death.  Dom Gueranger explains that the “fever” of the passions of our business and  our pleasure is like the fever that had infected the son of the Ruler … and caused his death-dealing misery.     

This is an image of how sin makes our souls miserable unto death.

St. Paul had told us to use our time wisely,  “redeem the time,”  and to live not in the fever of our passions, but in holiness and wisdom, devoted to Our Lord.

The life of St. Francis Borgia indeed shows us  the way to live such a life.   By his religious practices, he teaches me what I can do to redeem the time I have left.   He gives us examples of disciplining the mind, the heart, and the spirit so that we can live purely and simply and devoutly before God.

St. Francis was a real person, like us.  His relic, above, brings him closer in the spiritual dimension than people can be in the merely physical dimension.  I have “affixed” this into the inside cover of his biography, where it will be handy, along with some prayers.   ( You will know my profound gratitude, S.C., when we meet Up There.)

I wrote that I have so little comprehension of sin and holiness.   This generation that we are living in is so devoted to pleasure and comfort, self-esteem and self-actualization, protecting our own rights and freedoms,  that any move towards self-denial for the sake of holiness seems extraordinary by today’s standards but feeble indeed compared to the spiritual concerns of this “miserable sinner” who is St. Francis Borgia, great in the eyes of the Lord.

So much to learn….


September 22, 2010

You may have seen this photo recently.   It’s a photo of us taken from a satellite that was near the planet Mercury.   The large dot is the Earth, and the small dot is our moon, revolving around us.   

We are so tiny, so bright.

Looking at this picture, we can easily imagine the motion of the moon around the Earth, around and around, faster and faster, depending on how far out we are in space.    But, then again, to us who live on Earth, every time the moon goes around us, another month has passed by, and we are “imagining” our time passing by…very, very quickly.   

And what does it matter to the Cosmos?    It matters to us, tiny, tiny specks of life on the planet, each of us coming to life, shining our little pinpoints of light for a moment, then going away, leaving the Earth.

There!    When we die, our little pinpoint of light leaves this Earth.    Upward, we hope, to the Light of this World, to Christ, the Word of God.  

So what does it matter, this short experience of light and life on Earth?

I was cleaning out an old notebook today and came across a quotation I had written down long ago.  “Let us begin to study on earth what we can continue in Heaven.”      What a wonderful thought that is!  I’ve gathered good books around me, and I’m always consciously thankful for each of these books.   I’m thankful for the books, for the sight to read them, for all my notebooks and papers and pens with which to work out onto paper what I’m learning in my head.

But some of these books are so good, I’ll never be able to read them enough, never be able to plumb the depths of the good thoughts in them, and probably never be able to adequately read all the books I do have.     And that’s why I love that quotation above so much.   

I may have only 20 or so years of reading and writing left to me before I must slow down and come to a stop.   Maybe more.   Maybe quite a bit less.    But –   no matter when,  I’ve only just begun!    If I am reading and studying those things which can indeed be continued in Heaven, perhaps in another way, then all the wonderful bits of wisdom which point to the reality of God that I’ve started to understand here will be further developed  . . . forever and ever . . .

All my books… be continued!


June 23, 2010

Ha!  But it’s not my “commercial.”  I’m doing it on behalf of our local friend, Ronni, the owner of The Potter’s Vessel.

This is where you can buy the finest traditional books and beautiful “visual aids” for your faith.  She has done her best to serve our spiritual needs, but the sad reality is that she can no longer stay in business:

She has much left in her store.  I was just there today.   (She now has the contents of my savings account too.)    I learned that whatever is not sold by July 2nd she will be responsible for — as in paying for out of her own household money.  

Her store doesn’t look like much anymore.   Earlier, she had to move to the side entrance of the larger building:

  However, inside !!    It’s a real gem inside!

(Almost the same view, but I want to give her a lot of my space today.)   She is well-stocked.)

Please share the news, share the pictures.  If you will ever need gifts of a religious nature in the future, this would be a good time to buy ahead (and stock up!)     If you’ve ever wanted a nice religious picture, they are 40% off this week;  50% off next week.    If you’ve ever wondered what the great saints and Doctors of the Church have written,  or how to enter some of the greatest devotions of past centuries that nourished the Faith through time, then The Potter’s Vessel probably has something waiting for you right now.

If you’ve ever wanted to be part of the movement that is reversing the tide of trivial, insipid, shallow, unsatisfying trend in religious writing, Ronni’s store is the place to begin.   Really.   You, in your own private life, are the only person who can improve your intellect and your spiritual life.

So….since this is a “local” announcement,  then, locally, you know where I live.    My intersection would be at the Big X.  Ronni’s store is just about two miles further east, along Grand River.  Can’t miss it!   It’s beginning to look like an abandoned building!

Days and Hours Open:

Wednesday 10:30 – 6:00

Thursday  12:00 – 7:00

Friday  10:00 – 6:00

Saturday 10:00 – 3:00


April 7, 2010

“Retaining the Image” in my last posting was supposed to be about the many ways we retain the images from Easter in this Post-Easter period of time, and beyond.    There are many significant and beautiful images that can continue to feed our understanding of the Passion of Christ, His death and His Resurrection.  

They don’t need to be glorious works of art by famous oil painters….

This is a beloved but little-known artist who simply and faithfully shows Our Dear Lord’s admonition to “Take up your cross and follow Me”     It also illustrates  the understanding and compassion and loving help Jesus gives to His followers.  I never fail to be strengthened by this simple picture.

The “NOT” part of the title of this post refers to a big caution I’d like to give to all my “people,”   all my friends.      A gentle smack, perhaps:  Wake up!    Don’t accept just everything that is presented to you – because the enemies of God are busy making images too.

I once purchased a reduced-price book of Christian art work that I thought might have some pictures I could use in class handouts, or whatever.     The artist was highly praised and was apparently well-known and used “everywhere.”    When I got the book, the pictures were so freaky and so distorted,  that I was just repelled by the “Christianity” represented in the pictures.   Repelled and disgusted.  

Once again, at a Used Book Sale, I bought a book – $1.00 – of Christian art work that purported to tell the Easter story, by various artists throughout the centuries.

I don’t know….would you buy a used car from the man at the right?   How about sit down at his table and listen to his words, seriously?

That’s not too bad, I guess.

How about sitting at the table of this “Jesus”?

I’m sorry if that’s a well-known famous something, but that does NOT portray the Jesus of history nor the Son of God, nor our beloved Lord.   I don’t even want to know what he’s signaling with his fingers.    And Christians DON’T drink from GLASS during Holy Communion.   Maybe it’s for wine;  but it’s not for the Precious Blood.

Here’s a freaky man at Calvary:I can’t relate to that distorted creature.

I don’t know….I just found these legs freaky too.I did cut off too much of the picture, to the left, but it just looked like a series of parallel mechanical legs that were disturbingly non-human but leading one’s eyes to places you don’t want to go….I’m an adult….it’s a little thing.   But I’ve taught children and I’ve had children….and I’ve been with them when they react to little details like this, with honest disgust and horror.

Children don’t like to see people like this:It’s like the artist “did something wrong”  — and child or not, it directs us to a parallel world of high strangeness.

So – bottom line.   When it comes to religious pictures, icons, symbols, you want the most direct and inspiring route to the truth.   After all, your religion is a matter of Life and Death to your soul.   “Re-ligio” – a rebinding of ourselves to God.     

So, does this strange man inspire love in you?   You want to find him again?


But here’s the One I want to find and follow and go where He tells me to go so I can commune with Him until some day He takes me home, with Him.

Guard what comes into your eyes.   

Reject what is inferior.

Mothers, Fathers, censor the material that is presented to your children – even in church, in school, and in books of “art.”

Give yourself a little “smack.”


March 14, 2010

In keeping with my new-found indolence following this Vicious Virus, and  instead of managing an “original thought,”   I’m going to just share what I’ve read tonight…courtesy of Father LaSance’s  My Prayer Book.    Here it is:

Seekest thou for bliss?

Lo!   Here it is —

In quiet nook

With well-loved book.

I’m not sure I have “nooks”  in my house, but I have plenty of books.    Here’s the matching one on the other side of the wall:They are our only decent-looking bookshelves,  “dressed up” for company.   All my others are simply stuffed with books…ones I use frequently and keep sticking untidy bookmarks in.   Very….unphotographable.

Reading further in LaSance:   “One of the greatest blessings that can come to any life is the love of books.”

“Apart from the influence of our holy religion, there is no one thing which enters more deeply into the warp and woof of our character than the books we read.”

Father LaSance is quoting FatherM. Sheedy here and both men are holy and wise — and certainly not unaware that there are different kinds of books.   “Be scrupulous in your choice of books….”   “Good books are not only our friends, they are our best teachers.   But bad books are a curse and do a world of harm.”    

There followed, then, a fatherly discourse about the harm bad books do to souls;  but we know that now, as 100 years later we are constantly bombarded with Best Sellers that teach us impiety, skepticism, hatred of religion, and contempt for Christianity.   

But I was thinking tonight, we can acknowledge all the cautions, but I hope we don’t   just stop there.    In order to steer ourselves and our children to the really good books, we need to reaffirm what good books can do for us.  

So…further in Fr. La Sance’s little section on reading:   “The practice of keeping, especially before the young, growing mind, beautiful and uplifting images and bright, cheerful, healthy thoughts from books is of inestimable value,.”  

“The horizon of the reader broadens, his point of view changees, his ideals are higher and nobler, and his outlook on life is more elevated.”

“The importance of having great models and high ideals held constantly before the mind … cannot be overestimated.”   

And what of novels?    “…elevating the reader…enlarging his knowledge of man and of nature and its mysteries….arousing the soul to strive after ideals worthy of a man’s mind and heart….the novel would play a most desirable part in the betterment of men.”

Now there is some worthy criteria to use when judging whether or not to read a book! Enlightening the mind, broadening your horizons and your understanding of the things around you –   spiritual light and  intellectual bliss in a “well loved book”  — in a quiet nook, of course.


January 13, 2010

That’s the book, the book that has given me so much trouble for the past week or so.     Reading it was a little like being hit on the side of the head with a baseball bat….over and over and over.   Then standing up and saying:  “Aw, gee…hit me again…I’m still reading.”    

I felt frustrated,  astonished at the stupidity, angered, insulted,   enraged,   and then somewhat  nauseated.  

Exactly why did I continue to read a book which continually maligned my own civilization and that of most of my friends, maligned with fallacies, calumnies, deliberate lies, accusations, with every sub-plot, every characterization, every dialogue meant to put Western Civilization in the worst light?  

About a third of the way through I began making a list of examples, because I thought maybe it was just an emotional impression that was growing in me – I needed objective evidence from the book.     Two type-written pages later, I had a list of many, many examples where Christianity and Western Civ  in general came out looking dirty, smelly,  oppressive, ignorant, ugly, unrefined, hypocritical,  adulterous, lust-filled,  tyrannical, violent, uneducated, cowardly, duplicitous – you get the picture.    And it was the words of the author that made such things explicit, not my overly-vigilant sensitivities.  

Even down to minor  details such as the handwriting.    Guess whose people wrote in small, cramped, ugly, illegible handwriting?   (There was more than one reference to this throughout the book.)   And guess whose people wrote in beautiful, graceful saracen curves?       

Which reminds me:   The name of the book is  The People of the Book.   That was her first historical fallacy, the first of many inaccurate stereotypes.    People who are unaware of the Faith that built Western Civilization think that there are three major religions who share “a book” – Christian, Mohammedenism, and Jewish.      Perhaps evangelicals and other protestants think their religion is founded on the Bible – and that this is similar to the Jewish Scriptures – similar enough –  and that the Koran is pretty similar to the Bible, and so there you have it:  three religions based on a “book.”

Without sorting that out, why those three holy books are not at all similar, I can speak to the Faith that founded Western Civilization  (which has been in the process of being deconstructed for several centuries now) –   The Christian Faith as it existed in all the centuries of  Western Civilization since about 30 A.D., give or take a few years, was never “based upon” a “book”  –  the Faith is founded on revealed doctrine which is presented in the form of Tradition, Scriptures (including now the  New Testament), and the authority of Christ passed on to His disciples and on to their disciples, and so on.  Three equal interrelated foundations.

You don’t have to believe in that now…. but you ought to see what the historical record is.    You’ll find that the Catholic Church never considered itself based upon the “Bible Alone.”     It is not a “people of the book.”    Therein lies division, distortion, and extremism.

Does the United States have any enemies?    Does Christianity have any enemies?  Is anyone attacking the principles of Western Civilization?    Anyone at all?    By all means, Miss Author of this book, let us exalt those who attack us.

I’m still sick to my stomach.

Lesson learned?    I love my friends in the Book Club.    I’m so sorry they were included in the author’s insults.      I’ve heard all these attacks before;  and I’m getting too old to waste time on another book assault.     I learned that I can speak up a little in my Book Club but that I hated doing it.   They are nice, nice people.     I hope I don’t kearn that I”m too “nice” to let the author know of her impact on a few of her readers.   

Aaaaaargh!    What a world we live in!


January 11, 2010

I thought I’d report on a DVD I rented out this past weekend:

I do not subscribe to the common phrase: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”   It’s not.  Beauty is objective;  a quality that rational minds can recognize, analyze, and enjoy.    More correctly but less poetically:  “The eye of the beholder may or may not recognize beauty.”   

And so perhaps the fault is mine…or in mine eye.      The movie on the DVD is called “Into Great Silence,”  acclaimed as “Breathtaking!”    “Amazing!”   “Stunning!”      “Unforgettable!”

I’ll have to admit I expected to be a little stunned.  I certainly liked the idea that the film maker had:  to videotape the daily life of a small group of Carthusian monks tucked away in the French Alps and then to present on DVD what he saw.   I was sure that somehow the quiet beauty of life dedicated to God, to prayer, to service, in praise of the beauty of His creation, etc. etc., would be impressive, and I was eager to enter the experience. 

Eager and open…..and then puzzled.     What I actually saw was a film maker who was able to make a video appear to be a series of still shots.  Two hours’ worth of still shots. Towards the end I even ran the DVD at double speed – and it still looked like a series of still shots.    (Although by then I had become frustrated;  I do admit to seeing a little movement.) 

Now, many of the individual still shots were beautiful.   There were many (many, many, many, many) shots of hallways and corners of rooms where brilliant sunlight contrasted itself against dark stony spaces.   There were many (many, many…) close-ups of  pieces of plants and animal fur and cloth, stunning in the detail of  Texture.

There was a little movement:     There were dramatic moments of filmy curtains that nearly moved in a gentle breeze.   Dustmotes filtered downward.   Frequently.    There were numerous opportunities to watch breathlessly as a water droplet formed ….eventually formed….and then slowly detached itself from the underside of some  smooth rounded surface.    And bell ringing scenes were placed randomly throughout, although admittedly there is not much movement to bell-ringing.   The rope is so long that a slow gentle downward tug is all that is needed, apparently, to make a small sound ring out from some great distance away.   It was not clear what action necessarily followed any given bell-ringing.  

And the faces of the men;  young men; old men;  men concentrating on some work; men staring rather blankly into space or at prayer books.   Close, close, close-ups.   Far too many eyebrows.   Yeeeesh.    Close-ups of masticating  jaw lines…..And yet, it didn’t add up.   Throughout the day, throughout the seasons shown on the video, there was not a hint of  pattern, meaning, or purpose.   Two young men were received into the order…we assume they had a reason.   

I didn’t mean all that to be too harsh.   Each screen shot was beautiful.    Worthy of framing.    

I do mean  to be a bit harsh in the following assessment:     This film HAS TO be the product of a senior thesis from a talented film school major.  His assignment was to “Create a Dramatic Cinematic Tableau” using any location, any theme.    The following elements must be present:     1.  Show contrasts of light and darkness.    2.   Use texture; including rough, smooth, woven, natural grains, liquid, solid.     3.   Show objects that move in a setting of non-movment.    4.  Include subjects from human life and from the natural world.   Preferably humans in the natural world.    5.  For extra credit show young and old.   Very, very old is good.    6.  Do not use a script.   Do not use a theme.   And expecially, do not have a plan!

I’d give this guy about a B-.

But then,  the eye of this beholder was not “amazed” and “stunned” – and I’m still breathing.