Month: December 2010

Your help would be appreciated.

I don’t look upon blogging as a primary source of income. Even St. Paul was a tentmaker by trade, and my posts are nothing if not a personal hobby which I hope may provide some entertainment to others.

However, while I have a day job, a confluence of unfortunate circumstances since November (one spouse sick with unpaid leave; two sick kids; mounting copayments for doctor’s visits and prescriptions) have put us in a very tight spot, financially.

I’m not sure how many read this blog, but if you have any desire to lend support, you can do so in one of the following ways:

  • Need a web designer or artist? – I design blogs and simple websites and have a fluency in HTML, CSS and Photoshop.

    I am also a cartoonist / illustrator. Natural talent, no particular schooling. I’ve contributed artwork for everything from logos, album covers and flyers for bands (folk to metal) to cards and wedding invitations, to book illustrations, to t-shirts, and general cartooning of all kinds.

    I would enjoy putting either of these two skills to use, if somebody has a freelance job in mind.

  • Indulge your bibliophilia! — I earn a small percentage from anything you purchase through, be it books, music, electronics or diapers.

  • Last but not least, if you have no use for the above, but would like to convey a small gesture of appreciation for this blog or any of the various other online projects I maintain (ex. Pope Benedict XVI Fan Club), feel free to make a donation:

Every little bit helps, now more than ever.


Here and There …

  • “Rationing Bono & Other Gaia-Saving Ideas” – a modest proposal by Elizabeth Scalia to reduce humanity’s “carbon footprint”:

    Curiously, no one at these conferences ever suggests that less-draconian measures, affecting a relative minority of human beings, might be worth exploring. Beyond canceling their annual exotically-located meet-up in favor of efficient teleconferences, for instance, these people might want to take a good, hard look at the entertainment industry in general, and rock bands in particular.

    Let them start with U2 …

  • “How to write a Hit” – Jake Tawney (Roma Locuta Est) compares and contrasts the composition of ancient and contemporary composition of liturgical music, advocating Pope Benedict’s call for “the Primacy of the Word” (Verbum Domini).
  • J.C. Sanders () posts a brief review of St. Augustine’s Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love (“not as well-known as City of God or his Confessions, but nevertheless serves as a good introduction to his theology”) and its discussion of free will and predestination.
  • John Hittinger (Reflections on the Philosopher Pope) surveys the thought of John Paul II on Islam, both critical and positive, in 1995’s Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
  • Neo-Neocon on the life of Hitler assassination plotter Henning von Tresckow, co-conspirator in the July 1944 Hitler assassination plot that failed, led by Claus von Stauffenberg and code-named Operation Valkyrie:

    … It is of interest that most of the Wehrmacht plotters were religious men as well as aristocrats and patriots. I believe that was of consequence; note the religious reference in Tresckow’s final words. He fought Hitler the best way he knew, and if he was a failure, he was aware that at least his gesture proved that there were some righteous people in Germany.

  • “Catherine, Merton, and Me” – Fr. Bob Wild introduces readers to his book, Compassionate Fire: The Letters of Thomas Merton & Catherine De Hueck Doherty:

    What I want to emphasize here is that it was Merton’s story, his life—not so much his spiritual insights—that started me on the monastic pilgrimage that radically changed my life. This is what attracted me about Catherine Doherty as well—her life. And she changed my life even more radically than Merton did.

    Like so many others of my generation, I first heard about Catherine in that same autobiography of Merton, but at that time in my journey she was only of passing interest. Then, after a long journey through monastic life, parish life as a priest, and movements such as Cursillo and the Charismatic Renewal, I came across her once again. …

  • Brothers from the Bronx take on a tough Irish town – Laura Lynch covers the establishment of a monastic community in the Irish town of Limerick by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement:

    Burnt out and boarded up houses are easy to find and so is poverty. It is just the kind of place the Franciscan friars of the Renewal were looking for.

    “And we were shown this area Moyross and it seemed like a perfect place: there were burnt out houses there was graffiti on walls there dogs and horses wandering around aimlessly sometimes kids wandering around,” said Brother Shawn O’Connor. “So I said this is a good place for us to be.”

    O’Connor and four other monks opened their friary here in 2007 by converting three abandoned houses into a simple residence and chapel. Shortly before they moved in, they got a reminder of how tough the neighbourhood was.

    Two children were nearly burned to death when three teenagers firebombed the car they were sitting in. But O’Connor and the others saw a need and over the last three years they have worked hard to get to know the community. … [more]

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer—Six Questions for Eric Metaxas – Scott Horton (Harpers) interviews the author of the new 2010 biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy:

    [B]ecause Bonhoeffer has been so consistently portrayed as a theological liberal–which he was not–it’s important for us to see the other side, and I hope I’ve shown that in my book. He is clearly horrified at the way so many at Union Theological Seminary had cavalierly dispensed with the fundamentals of the Christian faith and had created an ersatz religion in their own progressive image. He was impressed with and moved by their earnest desire to help the poor, for example, but he wondered on what basis they called any of this “Christianity.” He found their theology shallow to the point of being almost evaporated entirely. But he was equally alive to the dangers on the other side, the dangers of fundamentalism and pietism. He’s complicated, but in the best sense. He’s an equal opportunity theological critic. …

  • Finally, I’d like to recommend an excellent video introduction to mariology, produced by the Catholic ministry, which may be of particular help to any inquiring Protestants who have found such to be a stumbling block to the Catholic faith. (HT: The Anchoress).

Cinema: "Behind the Lines" (1997)

For those who appreciate “period films” — historical films — I saw a good one recently: “Behind the Lines”. Based on the novel Regeneration by Pat Barker and true events, the film chronicles the meeting between a psychologist named Dr. William Rivers (Jonathan Pryce) and his patients:

… a mute, amnesiac officer named Billy Prior (Jonny Lee Miller), as well as the emotionally depleted poet Wilfred Owen (Stuart Bunce) and another poet and war hero, Siegfried Sassoon (James Wilby). Unlike the others, Sassoon is not, in fact, suffering from any disorder but is being quietly punished for writing a pamphlet denouncing the war. The army hopes Rivers can find some basis for mental incompetency in Sassoon, but the thoughtful doctor instead attempts to persuade him to add legitimacy to his criticisms of the war by returning to active duty. [– Tom Keogh]

Wilfred Owen is lauded as the greatest English poet of the First World War. Readers will perhaps recognize the memorable description of a gas attack from his poem “Dulce et Decorum Est”, (after the Latin phrase “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” – “how sweet and fitting it is to die for one’s country” by Horace):

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning

… and the composition of which is depicted in the film:

Behind the Lines addresses a number of fascinating themes, among them the principled pacifism of the officer and war-hero Siegfried Sassoon and his literary friendship with Wilfred Owen (and why they were persuaded to return to active duty); the predicament of Dr. William Rivers of ‘curing’ his patients with the intention of returning them to the Front; the experiences of soldiers dealing with trench warfare in World War I; the various psychological techniques employed (from electric shock treatments to the more refined and, at that time, innovative “talking” therapy) to treat them.

Not the most pleasant of subjects for cinema, but well worth watching.


Ken Masugi’s annual Advent Conversation with James V. Schall, SJ

Since 2002 Ken Masugi, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and lecturer in Government at Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, has conducted Advent interviews with James V. Schall, S.J., author of over thirty books on political theory and theology. Fr. Schall teaches in the Government Department of Georgetown University.

The interviews themselves are a delight to read and span a variety of topics from current events to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI to issues in philosophy, theology and ethics — and sometimes, in addition, what books Fr. Schall himself is reading at that particular moment in time.

(See also Fr. Schall’s exensive commentaries on the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI).

Battlefield Rosaries

Know somebody in uniform? — Karon Adams of Yellow Ribbon Rosaries has a mission: to provide a rosary to every soldier who requests one in our armed forces:

Battlefield Rosary Missions come in many flavors and each of us find our own. My family has always been a military one and I have always felt a deep appreciation for anyone in uniform. My Battlefield Rosaries were really what started Yellow Ribbon Rosaries. They were actually where I found the name.

I have, to date, sent out several thousand Rosaries, all made by my own hand, to the Middle East, Korea and Naval personnel. The Rosaries come in Desert Tan, Olive Drab and Black, and Grey & Blue.

In addition to the Rosaries, I have also begun gathering DVDs that are no longer being watched and sending them to soldiers in battle zones. The soldiers also appreciate hard candies, baby wipes, and phone cards. I have many Rosary customers as well as friends at my church and former fellow employees who send me these items to include in my Rosary boxes. The chaplain who passes out my rosaries also passes these items among our soldiers.

If you or a member of your family is serving overseas, we will be happy to send a Battlefield Rosary for you, NO CHARGE! NO shipping. NO handling, NO charge! The only thing we ask is that you give us the mailing address. We only offer these to be mailed to an APO or FPO but if you provide us with a name and APO or FPO address, we will be thrilled to send you or your soldier a Rosary. This is what we do and are happy to provide these for you.

Battlefield Rosaries are sent to soldiers in Forward areas in a small package with several devotional items, including a St. Michael Prayer Card specially designed by artist Lawrence Klimecki of, “a Catholic Christian art apostolate spreading the Word through T-shirts, art, and design.”

See also:

Advent Iconogaphy

The Ox, The Ass and the Passion of the Nativity, by Noel Terranova (Memoria Dei):

If we look at examples of the Nativity from the visual arts, we can see that the general eschatological thrust of Advent becomes more focused, giving us a glimpse of Jesus’ passion already at the scene of this birth. All the eschatological themes of the Advent season converge in the Nativity tableau and are carried forward into Christmas. This should not surprise us. The birth of Christ and his salvific death form the cosmic fulcrum upon which the beam of human history rests, with creation and eschaton at each end. In a nativity icon this is super concentrated. Incarnation and eschaton are so ingeniously and inextricably intertwined that we might not even read “passion” in what is written in the icon unless we understand the symbolic significance of the iconographic elements. The best known example of this is the gifts of the wise men: while gold and frankincense represent Jesus’ kingship and priesthood, respectively, myrrh, used for embalming, is a symbol of his death.

For a further example, I would draw our attention to the ox and the ass. These two manger animals are ubiquitous in Nativity images. They peer over the new-born Christ child in wonderment, usually with their muzzles close to the child, as if to warm him with their breath. Their significance should be plain … [more]