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Counterpoint: Spring in Mordor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 10:49

Sherry has a lovely garden.

Here's mine. Low maintenance. Can be ignored months on end. Perfect for Tucson.
To Be in France Now That the Wild Boar are Growling . . . PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 06:57

An Edwardian cottage garden in Melbourne, Austalia in a southern hemisphere spring (October).

Spring seems to transcend actual place.

I'm an Anglo-phile (Mark Shea has often called me a butter-cup twirling English Romantic and the gardens of England are magnificent at this time of year) but I've found a new love through the internet: France.

Even though I've never been there.

A lyrical article in the Telegraph's online newspaper for British expat's describes the annual spring hunt dinner of boar and wine. And his resident peacocks, pigeon sqaubs, and rabbits. And goose egg breakfasts.

"The early blossom on the plum, apricot and peach trees is out. Our woods are carpeted with blue periwinkle, white anemones and deep red fritillaries; it's a magical time, with skeins of cranes migrating eastwards, wild orchids appearing and the first nightingale singing.
Our birds and livestock also recognise that spring has finally arrived. Figaro our male peacock is leading his three wifelets around the house, the first two white fantail pigeon squabs of the year are out of the dovecote, our two rabbit does have produced offspring and the pair of white Silkie Bantams (acquired in exchange for a duck and rabbit from our freezer) have begun to lay.

Even with a reduced pension due to the fall in sterling, the pleasures of rural France are infinite."

The pleasures of my spring are much more home-spun. First light on snow-covered Pike's Peak, daffodils, freshly opened tulips. The grass nearly fully green. The joy of planting long-blooming perennials: sweet pea, Shasta daisies, soapwort, Indian blanket flowers. Little work. Years of pleasure.

No boar. But a red fox ran through the back year this morning under the serene gaze of my two new cats safely perched on the window sill: Cosmos & Damien, twin three year old brothers. The spirit and memory of Pippin is still present. In fact, I keep referring to C & D as "she" and calling them "Pippin".

Add a bottle of French wine and on an early May morning, you can squint and just glimpse rural France. Alpine rural France.

Now to find that hunt club.
The New Forms Which Old Christian Truths Create PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 05 May 2009 21:33
I'm going short on blogging because I'm in the last throes of preparing that graduate class in the theology of the laity that will be starting the day after Memorial Day. What is crystal clear is how profoundly joined the development of the Church's social teaching and her growing understanding of the role of the laity is.

But here's a great quote from Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler, theologian, politician, Bishop of Mainz and pioneer in the area of the Church's social teaching. (In the mid 19th century in Germany, it was not considered inappropriate for a bishop to also serve as a government official - the Church's restriction against that is very recent.)

Ketteler was a hugely influential figure in the development of what is called "social Catholicism" - the 19th century European movement that sought to reach out to the new poor created by the industrial revolution who were often also de-Christianized. (The steady de-Christianization of Europe has been a problem for over 200 years. It didn't start with Vatican II.) Social Catholicism eventually gave birth to the Church's formal social teaching and included such figures as Blessed Frederic Ozanam, founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Kettler basically dusted off St. Thomas Aquinas' sociology and first went public with his ideas in two homilies that he gave during Advent, 1848. Here's the quote I really appreciate:

"I am heart and soul attached to the new forms which in days to come the old Christian truths will create for all human relations."

Sounds a lot like Pope Benedict's hermeneutic of reform.
Called & Gifted workshops This Weekend PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 05 May 2009 10:00
I'm falling down on the job of reminding readers about our upcoming events:

This weekend, we have four workshops going on:

Called & Gifteds in Corpus Christi, TX (English)
Dodge City, KS (English and Spanish)
Oakland, CA (English)

The Oakland event is a three morning version of the workshop. If interested, you need to register by May 7.

Both Kansas City workshop are one day events.

Join the 120 excited participants who wen through in Anchorage last weekend. Begin discerning your clues to God's call now.
The BIG picture PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 04 May 2009 10:09

Dinesh D'Souza has an interesting article (to me, at least) in the e-mail newsletter of Christianity Today titled, "Why We Need Earthquakes." It might also be titled, "Why God allows natural evil." This is a question that has bedeviled many, many Christian minds, and contemporary science, especially geophysics, my old stomping ground, has something to contribute.

People over the centuries have struggled with why, if God is loving and omnipotent, does He allow evil. Moral evil is a bit easier to deal with, since human freedom is its source. Natural evil, like earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and the like, are a bit harder to explain, since they so often cause innocent human suffering on a large scale. While some Christian apologists propose that such disasters turn our eyes to God, or give us opportunities to show one another charity, such claims, while true, are not entirely satisfactory. Couldn't God give us less dramatic and devastating opportunities?

D'Souza mentions "Rare Earth," a book published in 2003 and authored by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee, a paleontologist and astronomer at the University of Washington, Seattle, who examine some of the many conditions required for life to exist on any planet. Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and a whole host of geologically-based catastrophes are all a consequence of plate tectonics, a well-established, though recent, scientific description of relative motion between huge jigsaw-like pieces of the earth's crust. The authors acknowledge W
hile natural disasters occasionally wreak havoc, our planet needs plate tectonics to produce the biodiversity that enables complex life to flourish on earth. Without plate tectonics, earth's land would be submerged to a depth of several thousand feet. Fish might survive in such an environment, but not humans.
Plate tectonics also help regulate the earth's climate, preventing the onset of scorching or freezing temperatures that would make mammalian life impossible. In sum, plate tectonics are a necessary prerequisite to human survival on the only planet known to sustain life.
Some might complain that a loving, omnipotent God could create a world that didn't require processes that cost so much human life. Ward and Brownlee's response to such an argument would be simple and direct:
Such a world could have produced life, but it surely could not have produced creatures like us. Science tells us that our world has all the necessary conditions for species like Homo sapiens to survive and endure.
Our planet requires oxygen and a warming sun and water in order for us to live here, and we appreciate this, even though we recognize that people can get sunstroke and drown in the ocean. So, too, it seems that plate tectonics are...a 'central requirement for life' as we know it.
This would be good to remember, the next time a natural disaster takes human life. It is a price we pay for the possibility of a planet that can sustain human life.

And a good opportunity to love our neighbor, as well.
Swine Flu & the Mass PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 04 May 2009 00:17
Just back from Anchorage.

And thought I would ask:

Anyone here hear an announcement at Mass regarding swine flu?

In Anchorage, letter from the Archbishop was read, asking that we not shake hands at the Passing of the Peace or hold hands during the "Our Father". Offering communion only in the form of bread was made optional (the parish I was at did offer the cup).

I understand that something similar was announced in the diocese of Colorado Springs as well.

What is happening regarding swine flu in your diocese or parish?
A Rare Sight PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Sunday, 03 May 2009 07:35


I am at a gathering of the Provincial Councils of the U.S. Dominican Provinces in Orlando, FL. The Master of the Order, Fr. Carlos Aspiroz Costa, OP, and his Socius to the American Provinces, Fr. Ed Ruane, OP were also here to respond to some questions regarding the whole Order and the place of the American Provinces in it, along with other topics.
I was out for a walk and snapped a picture of a rare sight, the Pasty-Faced Intellectual. Something rarely seen in the wild, given that their normal habitat is the dark enclosures of the library, the chapel. They nest in pulpits and cloisters, but with frequent forays into the arts, sciences, and philosophy. In fact, they can be found at home in virtually any habitat.












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