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Showing posts from January, 2008

So much depends on . . . socks!

Perhaps the most under-rated article of clothing one should wear in a temperate climate. I have slowly been switching from athletic style socks (you know, white ones) to hiking socks. I have found the luxuriousness of hiking socks to far surpass the mundane and pitiful covering of so-called athletic socks. Hiking socks tend to be warmer, softer, and provide a minute-yet-noticeable cushion. I like Smartwool and a pair I gave myself for Christmas from REI.
Not all hiking socks are two inches thick, some are delightfully thin, but don't allow your foot to slide in boots like athletic socks. Can I say I am a crock-pot full of contempt (set on low) for athletic socks. Ever since that fateful hike on Isle Royale to go back for camera batteries. . .
I bought my brother-in-law some hiking socks for Christmas too--the verdict? He has gushed about them more than a teenage girl in the 80s talking about Simon LeBon.
What's in your sock drawer?

Abdicating our responsibility

I've been ruminating off and on for the last couple of years about how we (as a society) raise our children. It seems, given our economic and lifestyle circumstances, we foist our children off on church and state to raise them. How many hours do most children spend in school each week? Who determined this amount? Is it arbitrary? If you send your children to Sunday school have you spent any time in the room or with the program? What exactly are they teaching them? Have you worked through it with your children at home?

I find myself guilty of my own accusation at times. But then again. . . I am aware of the this trade-off of kids for money or time or leisure (not in the Pieperian sense). Why do our children spend so much time away from us? We can blame the industrial revolution for its mixed blessing or variegated curse, but really we ought to blame ourselves. Why do we think others can raise our children better than we? Why do we think others can teach our children be…

The Confederate States of America

I watched this movie last night on DVD. An interesting premise that I have seen explored in novels, primarily Harry Turtledove, that is--what if the South won the Civil War? The movie was presented as a BBS (British Broadcasting Service) documentary on the history of the CSA up to some point in the 1990s. The doc is framed as a TV show including commercials that reflect a society that hates Africans and still practices the enslavement of them with the benefit of a mass media.

Again, interesting, but some flawed premises, I believe. First off, speakers in CSA admit that chattel slavery had become uneconomic by the 20th century. Well, the point of slavery in America in the first place was based on economic reasons. If money couldn't be made from it, then it would have died out on its own, or been practiced by only the very richest of society, excluding many of the planter class who owned 20 or less slaves.

Another misconstrued point by the filmakers was the idea that the CSA …

Recycling essays

Here's a piece I wrote around four years ago or so. Feel free to eviscerate its assumptions. (Anyone know why I can't indent?)

Theatre: Art Against the Gnostics

Film is a multi-billion dollar, international business, and art form. Theatre is international too, but doesn’t pull in anywhere near the amount that Hollywood does each year. Technologies keep developing to enhance the movie-going experience too, e.g. CGI, digital video, and now, DVD and HDTV for the home. Yet for all the great things film can do and show us it is still lacking in one thing: the human body.

Film can take us to foreign lands, alien worlds, and other times, but it cannot deliver the human body in all four dimensions. Film flattens. Film compresses. Film is not live bodies in front of us. This is the glory that belongs to theatre (and dance by the way) the human body in time and space right before us. Some theatre even goes so far as to involve our bodies with the show we are watching. We ca…

Buy Nothing Month

I had mentioned this briefly before that my family, more specifically, my wife and I are going to practice a month of buying only essential items--food, toiletries, petroleum for our oil addiction, etc. The object is to curb our consumption.

Now, I should say that we are probably well below the average American when it comes to consumer spending. But, even so, we could still squirrel away money. Do I really need that book from Amazon? I have a stack of at least eleven that I need to read, not counting the three listed over on the left there.

The idea is to practice restraint and self-discipline (isn't that redundant?) with regard to the wallet. How successful will we be? When exactly are we starting? Questions that will be answered soon, cricket. I did try a spending fast during a Lent two or three years ago; I found my thoughts frequently fixated on things to buy during those 40 days. Maybe it'll be easier with a spouse. Or maybe it'll turn me into a liar--will …

War is Over--No, wait, make that Christmas

12 days of bliss are almost gone. We watched It's A Wonderful Life Friday. And that ended our holiday movies. We won't start that cycle again until just before Halloween. The last of the presents were opened today. We had a parade with the Magi through the house. Now, we soak up the season of Epiphany and return to our regularly scheduled programming. My only hope is that at least a small part of that signal is jammed for and from my family. To end on a cliched note: "God bless us, everyone!"

On the penultimate day of Christmas my true love gave to me. . .

Well, Christmas is almost over, unless you're Orthodox, then it starts tomorrow. Do they celebrate 12 days of feasting? How long is Advent for those people anyway?

One of the best things about this Christmas is that through daily devotions my children have memorized the Lord's Prayer. Starting Monday we'll begin memorization work on the Decalogue. Additionally, with the end of Christmas comes an experiment the wife and I will try--Buy Nothing month! I'll keep you all posted. Merry Christmas, again.

Of the making of many lists. . .

So days eight and nine of Christmas pass with nary a mention. Well, alluding to the previous post about virtue, we did read about church fathers Basil (the Great) and Gregory of Nazianus last night--two manly men. Today we talked about singing Christmas carols. I bet most of you haven't heard any Christmas music in a week now--some probably think that is a good thing.

That makes for a good sequeway, I've published in the last few years a list of my top picks in movies, music, and books. Well, I haven't been as diligent about that this year--though this blog has picked up some of the slack. A few people have rattled their sabres to get me to put something out there, so here is something though it isn't much.

Movies: I didn't keep track of what I saw so I'm going from memory here--Ratatouille is the only one that's sticking. Auggh. . . I'm drawing a blank--perhaps that says something about the state of cinema--many distractions, no serious indwelli…

Can Virtue Be Taught?

I've been thinking about this for at least 3/4 of a year now, and I came across a lecture of Russell Kirk's by the same name in his posthumous collection called Redeeming the Time. First, we have to define virtue. Etymologically, the word comes to English by way of the French vertu and before that the Latin virtus. Its root is vir for man, linking virility with valor, merit, and moral perfection. Thus the idea that a virtuous man is a man's man.

Kirk picks up on this connection of virility and virtue when he writes,
In recent decades, many folk seemingly grew embarrassed by this word virtue; perhaps for them it had too stern a Roman ring. They made the word "integrity" do duty for the discarded "virtue." . . .[I]ntegrity is chiefly a passive quality, somewhat deficient in the vigor of "virtue." People of integrity may be the salt of the earth; yet a rough age requires some people possessed of an energetic virtue.

He says the concept of v…

It's 2008, so where's my rocket pack?

We're over the hump of Christmas, as if Christmas were something one had to "get through." Today is a jam-packed day, however, we've got New Year's Day, the circumcision of our Lord, the feast of the Holy Name, and an RC feast about Mary, the Mother of God. Without consulting any references, it took me some time to connect the dots of the meaning of the Holy Name feast. Today is eight days after Christmas, typically for Jewish parents they would wait until eight days to circumcise their sons, at which point they would name him. I don't know if there was a similar procedure for daughters. So, the angel gives instructions to name him Jesus, actually Joshua, Jesus being the Greek form, hence the circumcision and the Holy Name feasts occurring on the same day.

A low-key day for us. We slept in late. Woke up to three inches of wet snow. Too wet to enjoy sledding without snow pants. We did socialize as we went to a friend's home (nearly nine years in …