We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Sunday, January 13. 2019
His Seven Story Mountain is a literary masterpiece, in my personal canon of must-reads before death.
Sunday, December 30. 2018
Saturday, December 29. 2018
Sunday, December 23. 2018
Interestingly, it was what was termed a "parody," that is, a recycling of his previous music which had been written for secular purposes.
If interested, here's Bach, The Master Recycler
Here are 7 minutes of it, with the Atlanta Boy's Choir and period instruments:
Sunday, December 9. 2018
It's a centuries-old complaint that Christian morality detached from its religious roots can turn into a monstrous and terrifying thing. Take utilitarianism, take angry moralizers, take witch trials, take communism, and a hundred more examples of humanist evil.
Christianity is not primarily about morals and resistance to humanity's animal nature. I think Christ was clear about that in word and deed. I think he was clear about it, and that Paul elaborated on the religious truth that transcendent blessings like those of faith, mercy, love and kindness, hope and good cheer, are consequences nurtured through interactions with God and Christ through the Holy Spirit. Not rules, but secondary effects which can bind people together through God's graciousness and His tough sort of love.
As One Cosmos often explains, earthly gravity pulls us to the x-axis, the horizontal plane, of daily life and its struggles, but there is the vertical axis, the transcendent axis, available to us and for which we were born.
It's been part of my religious "journey" (I hate that smarmy expression) to come to realize that spiritual warfare is not Good vs Bad or Evil, but the inner battle of holding highest what is most high vs. the temptation to worship false idols. "I, me, mine," etc etc. Even pride in virtue is a false idol - it is about Self Love.
"Stop that, Bird Dog! No more preaching! You ain't no eddicated Preacher!" Well, ok, but Advent is our chance to be pregnant, in a spiritual sense, with holiness, and a time to have a dramatic chance to feel reborn ourselves as naked babies. That's the story of A Christmas Carol.
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Happy Advent. Whether my theology is correct or not.
Almost forgot: this is what prompted this Advent post: Our New Religion. Humanitarianism is displacing Christianity, but without its redeeming effects.
Sunday, July 8. 2018
Sunday, June 17. 2018
My heart beamed Friday night as my sons welcomed the Sabbath with perfectly sung prayers. My heart broke Saturday night as my sons fought while I grilled a perfect wild-caught salmon, and I got indigestion instead of the meal I thought I deserved.
I'm reminded of the saying, "A Man's children and his garden both reflect the amount of weeding done during the growing season." And, the growing goes both ways as we fathers grow, have to grow -- into the men we want to be under our children's careful observation, into the men that they need.
We yearn to please but, most important, to pass on life's lessons.
Father's Day is full of platitudes and real feelings, of missed and appreciated opportunities. And, of how much we care by just being there. I'm reminded of
There's a wisecrack, "If God is so perfect, how do you explain us." As fathers, we're not perfect, but we try to find and know the ways to be better, and most of us find it. We continue to strive, and so may our children, with a higher hand to reach for and give us the strength to be better and have hope.
It's not easy being the father or the child.
Sunday, April 1. 2018
From a piece on Thomas Merton at Crosscurrents:
Saturday, March 31. 2018
From Vanderleun: Judas: A Saint for Our Season
Friday, March 30. 2018
This column confronts the anti-Israel agenda of trying to disassociate Jews from our thousands of years of roots and attachment in favor of relative newcomers, many indeed only since Israel brought relative prosperity to the formerly barren desert. Most recently, UNESCO ignored the Jewish temples on the Mount in Jerusalem -- our holiest place-- instead just referring to the site by later Arab names.
Here's the column, well worth the read, about Jews as a people and a religion, with Passover and its narrative being highlighted for its a central portion of our daily prayers, our ethic, and our unending attachment to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount-- regardless of diaspora and persecutions.
Passover, with the first Seder, begins tonight.
Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, a member of the Institute's iEngage Project, and a contributing editor to The New Republic. His latest book, Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation, was named the 2013 National Jewish Book Council Book of the Year. His autobiography, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist, has just been released in paperback by HarperCollins.
Continue reading "Passover Answers Whether Jews Are A People Or Just A Religion"
Sunday, March 4. 2018
Beliefs that eat people alive.
I used to deny it, or rationalize it. A bit of that came from wanting to boost myself up by mentally putting down others. That is not only sinful, but a complete and futile waste of mental energy. I recommend prayer, with humor, as an approach to malignant envy. My preaching to myself this Lenten season is to confirm that Christ is my rock, not my damn self.
Saturday, February 24. 2018
Sunday, January 7. 2018
Tuesday, December 12. 2017
The miracle of Chanukah, the celebration of which begins tonight, is about more than the sacred oil lasting eight days. It is about the determination of mankind to overcome despair, to rise up in our faith, to have freedom. This meditation is appropriate:
Odetta, great folksinger and inspiration to many others ("The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta."- Bob Dylan), explains the meaning of one of her favorite songs. Listen closely. Then clap hands and sing along with her.
Sunday, November 5. 2017
Sunday, October 29. 2017
Sunday, October 15. 2017
In her first presentation at our 2015 Eucharistic Convention Leah Libresco spoke to her subject matter "Falling in Love with Math, Morality and Mercy - My Conversion Story. It's a witness, not a sermon.
I went through a deontology phase too. She's an obsessionally morally-interested joyful and charming mathematician whose intellectual adventures lead to Christ. Cool, but I wonder what she would say about cultural transmission of moralities and values.
Saturday, April 15. 2017
From Because Beset with Weakness by Michael J. Buckley, SJ:
Monday, April 10. 2017
Sultan on Passover: From Slavery to Freedom
The first Passover Seder is tonight.
The Passover Seder, in which we follow a strict order of prayers and foods, is the Jewish way of remembering from whence we came from slavery into freedom. The question has been debated among Judaism's leading scholars whether it is more important to learn the rules of Passover or the lessons of Passover. It is largely a false dichotomy. Following the Seder rules are an act of devotion and discipline to continue the memory of our roots. The memory of our roots, however, are not just about a history but a future. In every generation we are to remember and feel the experience of the Divine liberation, and that since then there have been numerous efforts to eradicate us so it is important to build solidarity and faith for survival.
The narrative is about what the past tells us for our future. The narrative is meant to be a call to discuss and think about freedom, slavery, choice, and destiny. The Exodus is a call to revolutionary hope, rather than acceding to slavery and hardship. Because of retaining the memory of the seemingly impossible liberation, as if we had ourselves experienced it, it provides the hope and belief that the days to come will not necessarily be like today, if we work and fight for a better tomorrow. That's why the Seder ends with the affirmation of next year being in Jerusalem, of the ingathering in peace, safety and justice.
The Passover Seder is a ritual meal that serves our vision of improving our lives and world.
There's a third element that is important in Judaism: enjoying ourselves so that our connectedness is emotionally felt and ongoing via teaching in an enjoyable way. With that, I give you the latest "uptown" Passover narrative:
Here's a new 2017 description of a traditional East European Passover Seder. But, Jews have been scattered all about the Earth. Here's about those delectable foods brought to the Passover table.
Sunday, March 19. 2017
A reader recommended this good piece: A Job Study Guide. The author's point, in short, is that the good man Job needed to repent to connect with God. Not to repent for any things in particular, but just to fully humble himself before God.
Sunday, March 12. 2017
I always thought the message was that God is not a tame lion, that he is power and neither a "nice guy" nor a cuddly grandpa. I mean, if "God is love" it's not of the human sort. But countless essays and books have been written about The Book of Job as if it were a riddle that man, with man's small and self-centered point of view, could solve.
Here's a pretty good one: MISERY - Is there justice in the Book of Job?
Wednesday, March 1. 2017