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Gaudete, dammit!

I was not at my home church for mass this morning (not that I feel like I have a home church since becoming Popish), but nevertheless my mood was buoyant.  After all, how could it not be.  Here we were standing as brothers and sisters commemorating one of the top five greatest events in the history of reality: the Incarnation.  Yet looking out and listening to the participation of my Roman brothers and sisters, one would think that something less than mundane had happened.  Something BORING, even.  We gathered to remember the God of the universe condescending to take on human dress and all we can do is half-heartedly sing and mumble ancient creeds that people died for?  I remained buoyant despite the lack of mutual awe.
     Annie Dillard said waggishly that when people go to church they ought to be wearing crash helmets.  Do they really know who or what they are summoning?  Something more terrible, merciful, and real than the Great and Powerful Oz for certain.  Lest my Protestan…

Worth Quoting

There are but three social arrangements which can replace Capitalism: Slavery, Socialism, and Property.

                                                                                                --Hilaire Belloc
                                                                                               The Servile State

Quotidian Blessings

I am thankful for the unexpected single occupancy room at the conference I attended last month.  The occasional fuller-than-expected gas tank is also an ordinary blessing.  The flash of a hawk across my line of sight is again ordinarily extraordinary.  I thank you, God.  I'm also thankful that the brine last night made the turkey succulently delicious, that the dressing wasn't dry like I had anticipated, that the cranberry sauce wasn't too tart, that the stuffed pumpkin hasn't failed me yet, and that the last bite of the slice of pumpkin pie made the previous lackluster bites worth it.  Additionally, I'm thankful for an exuberant parade with children and a father-in-law who enjoyed themselves.  Thanks for firewood, Steve Martin, John Candy, and electricity.  You continue to shatter my obtuseness, Lord.  Glory be to the Father, the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever.

Where is this guy (or gal)?

Only two more days until the phone calls, radio and TV ads, and flyers in the mail quit.  In so many ways I cry "A plague on both your houses."  I'm sure you're feeling fatigue from Election 2012: The MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE U.S. as I am.  I'm also tired of finding 30% of what I like in candidate A and 31% in candidate B, politically speaking.  Here's what my ideal candidate for president would look like:
Someone who knows the Constitutional limits of the presidency and would respect them enough to rescind all the crap built up by his (or her) predecessors.Someone consistently pro-life who would encourage Americans to respect life prior to birth until natural death (including the encouragement to end the death penalty)Someone who thinks that patriotism and a bellicose foreign policy are antitheticalSomeone who thinks the federal government needs to learn about subsidiarity (see the first bullet as well)Someone who doesn't think b…

Naked no more

Due to negligence on my part, my camera, all attendant equipment, and my iPod were stolen at the end of August.  I've gone through just about the peak of autumn without a camera.  Finally, after much rigamarole, I've got a new camera (I replaced my iPod about a month ago).  It is an upgraded version of my Canon Rebel.
     I don't know why I feel naked--perhaps naked isn't the best metaphor--let me say something was missing--without my camera.  I have this need to document scenes and events in my life visually.  This is obviously something ginned up by the camera manufacturers starting with Kodak and Eastman.  Yet, people have expressed themselves visually on caves and rocks for quite some time.  People even had portraits made of themselves through painting, so there's more to it than just consumerism. 
     I'm just fascinated by the play of light on certain surfaces, or the color of a leaf in mid-autumn.  Perhaps it's grasping at immortality to try to gra…

This about sums it up...

Dear Mr. Romney:
I am a conservative who believes that the purpose of conservatism is to conserve things which are good in American and Western culture. Among these things are life and liberty.
At present, I have grave concerns that you have any serious intention of conserving these things and so I have no good reason for voting for you. Merely saying “I’m not Obama” is not enough to win my vote. Why? Because I have zero confidence that you are going to, in any significant way, overturn much of his agenda and plenty of concern that, in addition to it, you will lard on tax cuts for yourself and your class and more wars for our troops to fight.
Let me be clear. You have lied that you governed as a prolife governor. Sorry, but I have seen the multiple Youtube videos of you, as governor, proudly proclaiming your devotion to abortion. When you lie to me about your record on something as fundamental as the right to life, I have no reason to trust a word you say.
Both yo…

Finally!

Artwork by an atheist we can all support.

My Vote this Fall

Whether it's a war on the consciences of Americans or on swarthy peoples overseas, this is probably our fate:

Civic Rights

I noticed on an Fb post today (and I've heard it in the past as well) the notion that if one doesn't vote, one doesn't have the right to "bitch."  I have to take exception with that.  I think voting is probably the easiest and least costly civic duty we Americans have.  In fact, given our political class, I think too many of the wrong people are voting.  Too many demagogues and not enough statesmen.  I don't think you have much of a right to complain when all you did was show up at a school or a church and spend five to ten minutes filling out some form.  How does that entitle you to bitch?
If you really want to earn your "bitching" rights then perhaps you should start by serving some time on a committee or board in your community.  Maybe you could participate in a park or natural area clean-up once or ten times in a lifetime.  Volunteer at a school or nursing home nearby.  Get to know your neighbors beyond BBQ and beer.  Find a way to solve a probl…

Another Venue

My dear 63 readers (how many of you are regulars?),
     I am not abandoning this blog, but I have created a new one here.  This new blog will concentrate more on ecology, which I have dealt with on IAnH, but now exclusively so.  Now you have two options to read me.  Please comment.
Adieu.

Worth Quoting

Dana Gioia, poet, former NEA Chairman, and USC Professor on spending time on his property in Sonoma County:
I have twenty hilly acres of oaks, redwoods, and madrones, and there is always work to do.  I'm trying to restore the landscape to its natural state and protect the native species.  No one really cares about this goal but me.  My neighbors think I should tear out the trees and plant grapes.  But I prefer the way God landscaped it. I couldn't agree more.
(From  Image #73)

Beer...? Meh.

I don't like beer.  I've tried over the course of the last 20 years to like it, but have failed every time.  My most recent try was last September with a beer after a 22 mile bike ride.  Yuck!  That liquid is so bitter, it reminds me of sawdust (not that I ingest that, either).  Occasionally, some interesting brew will have an intriguing smell, but much like the deception of coffee, the smell masks the lurking taste of ewwwwwwwwwww.
     This lack of hopsphilia comes at a price.  Many, many (if not most) adult social events revolve around beer.  Sure, sometimes hard liquor or wine (or some other kind of alcohol) is available, but not always.  And certainly not at beer's price.  So, I stand around with my glass of wine or water looking inside at all the beer drinkers and their fun.
     Much like my antipathy for professional sports, I remain at the edges of American culture.  Not many people stand around vociferously cursing garlic mustard or black swallow-wort, but they …

Nobody's Home

I'm finding out how different a world it is for my children versus my childhood in the summer.  Now I've got the summers off because I teach (or try to anyway) and am able to spend quite a bit of time with my children, yet I want them to realize that I'm not going to incessantly entertain them.  They need to find things to do on their own.  The sizable difference, between myself and them, is that many of their friends don't have the summer "off."  These children are in daycare, at a grandparents, somewhere other than home.  There aren't many children around for mine to play with.
Growing up in the '70s, I seem to remember most of my classmates available for playing nearly all the time.  Now, so many families have to send both parents to work that the children aren't home to play in the summer.  That's what I'd call a "cruel, cruel summer."

Worth Quoting

Those of us who struggle with habitual sins--and we know who we are--are very likely to break our hearts over the business of turning away from those chronic mark missings [from the Greek word for sin: amartia--SFM].  Our problems with recurring sin, and the more general human problem of being enslaved by sin, is never simply solved by our rejecting that sin, no matter how many times we try, no matter how strenuously we struggle to reject it. That is because merely rejecting sin--that is, focusing on not sinning--is finally just another species of infernal no. "Just say no" is an insufficient principle. The strongest man or woman in the world is not nearly strong enough to triumph over his or her sin simply by saying no to it.  What we need is the strength-giving grace occasioned by our saying yes to something else, by our saying yes, and yes, and yes--ceaselessly--to Someone else. It is not our finally turning away from sin that frees us from sin's recurrance; rather it…

Late Spring Scouting Report

Green frogs calling; birds, birds, birds: goldfinches, sandhill cranes, robins, song sparrows, a scarlet tanager(?); lots of rabbits, and I think I scared a snapping turtle attempting to lay eggs.  She scurried off a sand incline back into a small pond.  There were several shallow holes where she had been.

Another Publishing Triumph

...for a so-so book.
http://erb.kingdomnow.org/15-days-of-praying-with-st-john-of-the-cross-brief-review/
Thanks again to the Englewood Review of Books.

Worth Quoting

From Jeremy S. Begbie:
The three days of Easter do not tell us that the world's pain and agony are required for God to achieve his purposes (still less for God to be God), or that sin is a requisite part of the harmonious fabric of things, part of the world's chiaroscuro.  God does not bargain with evil but shatters its power, overthrowing the principalities and powers; evil is a wholly contingent intrusion, an irrational interruption of original goodness....  By the same token we ought to be wary of schemes of salvation that suggest the divine strategy is, so to speak, primarily to balance things out (as in strictly retributive views of atonement and eschatological justice).  The world is not so much balanced as reconciled, and reconciled with a God of infinite excess. Through the three days of Easter, evil, sin and death are defeated by a love that does not simply "match" what has been hurled at it from rebellious creatures, but infinitely exceeds anything and ever…

As the Kididdles Say: RT!

Christ is risen from the dead!  Trampling down death by death!  And to those in the tombs He has given new life!

P.S. The Easter Bunny is delicious!

The actual "Silent Night"

Until Sunday morning, that is.

The End of the Beginning

It's my last Maundy Thursday (at least from this vantage point in time) as a Protestant.  Thank you, Evangelicalism for my upbringing.  Now it's time for something more....




Have a blessed Triduum, friends, no matter where you find yourselves.

Purge this land with...fire!

Last Sunday the Martin family took another step in securing our small homestead: we had a prescribed burn in our woodlot.  The purpose was to kill young exotics, stimulate the nutrient cycle, jump start a natural process, and frankly burn stuff.  Smokey the Bear is a great marketing tool, but he has unwittingly contributed to huge forest fires by creating the idea of a fire regime as some horrible and cruel act of nature (or man) that is to be avoided like taxes.  Perhaps moreso.  Regular burns in natural areas helps to cut down on titanic conflagrations as they burn up combustible fuel that collects regularly in forests and other ecosystems.  Additionally, fire creates a check on invasive, opportunistic species (mostly plants) that are not fire adapted.  All in all, an occasional fire is a good thing.
     The first thing the crew did was prep the area.  This is accomplished by a quick survey and then blowing or raking leaf litter in to area to be burned, creating borders that should…

The Start of Something Painful...and Joyous

Tonight, I make first reconciliation (or confession for the way backs).  I feel dread, partly of the unknown, partly of bringing things to light that crave the darkness.  I pray for courage to peel back the skin to the skull, for the pus to make its way out to be destroyed by absolution.

Late Winter Scouting Report

On a 60+(!) degree day in southeastern Michigan in mid-march I heard wood and chorus frogs already flirting.  Turkey vultures are scanning the ground (though I don't know if they migrate or not) and birdsong is definitely more varied today.  Additionally, in a small sandpit pond by my hollow, I spotted several different species of aquatic insects and...a small brown-green leech clinging to a torn leaf beneath the surface of the water.  I hope this weather is an anomaly and not the presage of a slow (relatively speaking) decline in quiet, white winters.  Screw you, sun worshippers, you'll get your days in a few weeks regardless.

Worth Quoting

When I am called, as to my astonishment I sometimes am, a devotee of "simplicity" (since I live supposedly as a "simple farmer"), I am obliged to reply that I gave up the simple life when I left New York City in 1964 and came here [his farm in Kentucky--sfm].  In New York, I lived as a passive consumer, supplying nearly all my needs by purchase, whereas here I supply many of my needs from this place by my work (and pleasure) and am responsible besides for the care of the place.
                                                                    --Wendell Berry, "Imagination in Place"

Another publishing triumph!

If only I could make money doing this.  Thanks to the Englewood Review of Books.
http://erb.kingdomnow.org/the-humane-vision-of-wendell-berry-feature-review/



Independent Women?

During breakfast today I was reading an excerpt from a play in The New York Times Magazine (I know, I was a day behind and read Saturday's edition yesterday) entitled Rust.  The play, written by a professor at Grand Valley State University, here in Michigan, is a nonfiction drama about the closing of a GM plant in Wyoming, MI.  The play itself sounds interesting and I enjoyed the excerpt, but what caught my eye was something a character said.  The character is "Academic" and plays a historian and guide to the playwright, also a character.  He is explaining the rise of the automobile factories and the effect of the car on American culture.  He says, "Women became independent, they go from producers of food and clothing to consumers of food and clothing."  This was meant as an earnest, praiseworthy point.
    I would counter with "How far we've fallen."  To say that a woman (or a man) is independent because she has moved from producer to consumer …

Number Eight

The Eighth day is the day of resurrection, the day of new creation.  This is the beginning of new creation as her king is only eight days new.  His birth was announced by fearsome angels and smelly, grass-stained shepherds.  His coronation begins with a torturous death.  But enough of that…there are still a few twinkling lights to be glimpsed.  Perhaps a forgotten present under the dresser?              Here in the midst of Christmas as we move toward Epiphany/Theophany it is the feasts of Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Seraphim of Sarov, to mention only three.  Eight milking maids, eight beatitudes, eight days a week?  Though the insects claimed to be bigger than Jesus, no one receives a day off from work for John Lennon’s birthday.              Are you like Scrooge, are you still keeping Christmas in your heart and in your home.  Or are you like Madison Avenue, thinking about St. Valentine and his cash-laden feast day?

On the Seventh Day...

The Seventh day:  seven swans swimming on a not-quite-frozen pond, seven gifts from a Ghost that come wrapped in skin and tied up with a mindful bow.  A new year and Christmas is almost out of mind now.  Today, probably the lights come down—in between quarters—boxed up, the boughs tossed, the last of the turkey consumed.  The trouble with living in a culture that sells Christmas starting after Hallowe’en is one can’t celebrate it after today.  At least not without looks.  Christmas is a one-day orgasm that really only lasts as long as the wrapping paper in the fire place; a quick burst of light, sound, heat, and then cold, black and grey ashes.  Nothing to savor, nothing to hold, except gift receipts and sweaters that appear out of date.