Friday, December 31, 2010

Founders Friday, December 31, 2010

A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

                                  James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wacky Wednesday, 12/29/2010, One RingyDingy

It's Wednesday, we're half way through another week, so it's time to kick back and lighten up a little.  Enjoy.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

From the Desert Fathers, Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your
Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the
sake of your salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are
terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers
ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in
laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off,
my beloved soul, holy repentence, contrition of heart and penance
for your sins."




St. Paisius Velichkovsky

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Nativity, John Donne

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod's jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

John Donne

I wish all a very blessed and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Founders Friday, December 24, 2010

As long as Property exists, it will accumulate in Individuals and Families. As long as Marriage exists, Knowledge, Property and Influence will accumulate in Families.




John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 16, 1814

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Harold Lloyd - Help!



It's Wednesday, we've made it half way through the week, time to lighten up.  Here's an entertaining blend of old and newer.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

From the Desert Fathers, Sunday, December 19, 2010

When we lay bare the hidden meaning of the history, scripture is seen to teach that the birth which distresses the tyrant is the beginning of the virtuous life. I am speaking of the kind of birth in which free will serves as the midwife, delivering the child amid great pain. For no one causes grief to his antagonist unless he exhibits in himself those marks which give proof of his victory over the other.
St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wacky Wednesday, Jack Benny vs. Groucho 1955



It's Wednesday and we've made it half way through the week, time for a little levity. Here's Jack Benny and Groucho Marx. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

From the Desert Fathers, Sunday, December 12, 2010

Those who seek humility should bear in mind the three following things: that they are the worst of sinners, that they are the most despicable of all creatures since their state is an unnatural one, and that they are even more pitiable than the demons, since they are slaves to the demons. You will also profit if you say this to yourself: how do I know what or how many other people's sins are, or whether they are greater than or equal to my own? In our ignorance you and I , my soul, are worse than all men, we are dust and ashes under their feet. How can I not regard myself as more despicable than all other creatures, for they act in accordance with the nature they have been given, while I, owing to my innumerable sins, am in a state contrary to nature.


                                                  St. Gregory of Sinai, Philokalia, Vol. IV.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wacky Wednesday, Funniest Movie Line Ever



It's Wednesday, we've made it half way through the week and it's time for a little humor to get us to Friday.

This little clip makes it clear, some things never seem to change.  Enjoy

Friday, December 3, 2010

Founders Friday, December 3, 2010

A feeble executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever may be its theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 70, 1788

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wacky Wednesday, The Clock (Sid Caesar)



It's Wednesday, we've made it half way through the week, so time for a little fun to get us through to Friday. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

From the Desert Fathers


Macarius said to Zacharias, 'Tell me, what makes a monk?' He said, 'Isn't it wrong for you to be asking me?' Macarius said to him, 'I am sure I should ask you, Zacharias my son. There is something that urges me to ask you.' Zacharias said to him, 'As far as I can tell, abba, I think anyone who controls himself and makes himself content with just what he needs and no more, is indeed a monk.'

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

                               General Thanksgiving


By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America

                             A PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with gratetul hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.


And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wacky Wednesday

Since it's Wednesday, and we've made it half way through another week, and are preparing for the Thanksgiving weekend, I thought it time for a bit of a laugh.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Here’s What Benedict Really Said in Africa


This from a column by George Weigel in National Review on Line today:
And here is Sacred Heart Major Seminary professor Janet Smith's illustration of the technical point the pope was actually making, which touches on the question of what philosophers and theologians call subjective intention:


If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would be better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it [for that] would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Desert Fathers, Sunday, November 21, 2010

Abba Poemen said, 'To throw yourself before God, to not measure your progress, to leave behind all self-will -- these are the instruments for the work of the soul.'

                                                       Abba Poemen the Shepherd

Friday, November 19, 2010

Founders Friday, November 19, 2010

A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species.
                                                         James Madison, Essay on Property, March 29, 1792

Sunday, November 14, 2010

From the Desert Fathers

Humility protects the soul from all the passions and also from every temptation.
Dorotheos

Friday, November 12, 2010

Founders Friday, November 12, 2010

'Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.




                                George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day, November 11, 2010


Thanks to all veterans who haved served our country with pride.  May we never forget the sacrifices you made, and may we never lose the courage, character, and sense of duty you all have displayed so proudly.  Stand tall.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mentos Rainbow - Spider

Here's a commercial, from Britain that pretty entertaining, and, it manages to get across the point they're trying to make at the same time.  So rare these days.

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

From the Desert Fathers

One of the brothers asked abba Isidore, a priest of scetis, "Why are the demons so terrified of you?" And the old man said, "Ever since I became a monk I have tried never to let anger rise as far as my mouth."


Saturday, November 6, 2010

What the Heck Does Millenial Mean, Anyway?

I'm more Millenial than TS, but not by much.





I Wish I'd Said That

But then, this is why she's Peggy Noonan -- from her essay in the Wall Street Journal yesterday:

On to the aftermath of the election. On Wednesday, President Obama gave a news conference to share his thoughts. Viewers would have found it disappointing if there had been any viewers. The president is speaking, in effect, to an empty room. From my notes five minutes in: "This wet blanket, this occupier of the least interesting corner of the faculty lounge, this joy-free zone, this inert gas." By the end I was certain he will never produce a successful stimulus because he is a human depression.


Actually I thought the worst thing you can say about a president: He won't even make a good former president.


His detachment is so great, it is even from himself. As he spoke, he seemed to be narrating from a remove. It was like hearing the audiobook of Volume I of his presidential memoirs. "Obama was frustrated. He honestly didn't understand what the country was doing. It was as if they had compulsive hand-washing disorder. In '08 they washed off Bush. Now they're washing off Obama. There he is, swirling down the drain! It's all too dramatic, too polar. The morning after the election it occurred to him: maybe he should take strong action. Maybe he should fire America! They did well in 2008, but since then they've been slipping. They weren't giving him the followership he needed. But that wouldn't work, they'd only complain. He had to keep his cool. His aides kept telling him, 'Show humility.' But they never told him what humility looked like. What was he supposed to do, burst into tears and say hit me? Not knowing how to feel humility or therefore show humility he decided to announce humility: He found the election 'humbling,' he said."
Plain and simple, good writing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What Happens if You Don't Follow Policy

According to the AP, (P)MSNBC has "suspended" Keith Olberman for making political contributions this year.  A quote from this story goes as follows:

NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC has suspended prime-time host Keith Olbermann indefinitely without pay for contributing to the campaigns of three Democratic candidates this election season.



Olbermann acknowledged to NBC that he donated $2,400 apiece to the campaigns of Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway and Arizona Reps. Raul Grivalva and Gabrielle Giffords.


NBC News prohibits its employees from working on, or donating to, political campaigns unless a special exception is granted by the news division president — effectively a ban. Olbermann's bosses did not find out about the donations until after they were made. The website Politico first reported the donations.
My first thought was that, in light of the fact that Olberman is an opinion journalist, (I think that's what he is, I've never watched him) it was wrong of the network to, effectively, fire him.  He didn't pretend to be a reporter, as far as I know.  However, the key to the situation is in the last paragraph above: he made those contributions in violation of network policy.

Again, this situation boils down to one similar to PBS' firing of Juan Williams; an employer has a right to fire an employee.  NBC is, in fact, apparently in a much stronger position in this case than was PBS in the earlier incident.  This isn't a matter of free speech as far as I can tell.

We should all calm down and determine the facts.

Founders Friday

To steal a line from Glenn Beck, this is a Founders Friday here at Colorado Musing:

A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

                                                          James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who's the Live Wire Today?

This just in from TPMuckraker:

Four candidates who died while campaigning won their elections on Tuesday. Two deceased candidates lost.


In California, state Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D) won re-election with 59% of the vote. Oropeza, who was 53, died two weeks ago from complications of cancer. The local Democrats, however, mailed supporters encouraging them to vote for Oropeza anyway.


"The Republicans are trying to take unfair advantage of Jenny's tragedy," said the mailer which, according to CNN, did not mention her death. "I am asking you to vote for Jenny Oropeza. If a Special Election is called in a few months, you'll have the chance to thoughtfully elect your Senator for a new four-year term."
One wonders how the other three got elected.  But then, maybe we should elect more dead candidates, they might not be so destructive.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day, 2010

John Adams: "the man who at certain point...Image via Wikipedia
As good government is an empire of laws, how shall your laws be made? In a large society, inhabiting an extensive country, it is impossible that the whole should assemble to make laws. The first necessary step, then, is to depute power from the many to a few of the most wise and good.


                                                                 John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776


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Monday, November 1, 2010

This is Improvment?

Back in July, a Texas congressman, Rep. Kevin Brady, released a chart put together by the Joint Economic Committee minority staff, and taking over two months to complete, it maps  the beauracy put in place under the health care bill passed early this year.  But not all, only about a third, as it turns out.  There wasn't room on the chart to show it all.   It's worth a revisit, just to show the absolute impossibility of the thing.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Honest Abe - GEICO Commercial

So often, commericals these days are, how shall I put it, stupid.  Those Sonic commercials come to mind.  Companies that approve commercials like that, to me, are saying their customers are idiots.  What is worse, I think, is that such commercials don't accomplish what they intend, the selling of a particular product. Sorry to be so blunt.  I think the only reason I can fairly say that, is that there is evidence that ad agencies still exist that are capable of being creative and getting their message across at the same time.  One shining example, one that appears too infrequently on TV, is this Geico Abe Lincoln commercial.  It's real, at least for us guys, because we've all been there.  C'mon ladies, you know it's true. 

The only other thing I could add is, that while Abe Lincoln was an honest man, he wasn't a stupid man.


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Branching Out

I'm branching out a little, trying to broaden my horizons.  For several years, I focused my study nearly exclusively on monastic topics.  But, I need a change, and there is no reason to believe that monastic spirituality excludes the entirety of life.  In fact, it should be just the opposite and embrace all of life.

One way I've done this is to begin reading de Toqueville's Democracy in America, which I have never read.  I've seen it quoted many times, and it seems proper to read it now.  Also, my brother-in-law called this week to recommend Stanley Kurtz's new book, Radical in Chief, which examins  Barack Obama's political, and as seems likely, personal philosophy.  I wasn't sure I wanted to read the book, but saw that it was available on Kindle, so I ordered it, more to keep up with family conversation on Thanksgiving if the topic arises than any other reason.

When I first heard about the book, I djd think could be an important one; Obama has not been clear or consistent in defining himself to the American public. 

So, my first impressions of the book?

Kurtz didn't set out to write a smear of Obama, and the book is not of that ilk.  In addition, Kurtz makes the point several times that he initially didn't believe Obama to be a socialist; it was only in researching the president's early years, especially his years in New York, that he came to the conclusion he did. 

Kurtz shows that Obama decided early on that he wanted to be a community organizer and that, under his socialist mentors, one of the key traits of a community organizer is to keep the objective of implementing a socialist system as secret from those being organized.  They profess high ideals that sound close to American ideals, but they mean something entirely different.

It seems to me, that people who take on such tasks end of living a lie.  They calculate to deceive others about who and what they really are.  Not only is that fundamentally dishonest, it must take a great toll on the personhood of the individual.  At some point, the lies must come out.

This is the very opposite of the monastic ideal; Benedict would have us know ourselves, be honest with ourselves and those around us about who and what we are; not always a pretty picture, but in the end, it's the best way to live as a fully human being.

I'm not judging Obama, I don't know what his motives were or are, but his past is more than a little scary.
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Friday, October 29, 2010

The Danger of a Single Despot


"When the Constitution was thus perfected and established, a new form of government was created, but it was neither speculative nor experimental as to the principles on which it was based. If they were true principles, as they were, the government founded upon them was destined to a life and an influence that would continue while the liberties it was intended to preserve should be valued by the human family. Those liberties had been wrung from reluctant monarchs in many contests, in many countries, and were grouped into creeds and established in ordinances sealed with blood, in many great struggles of the people. They were not new to the people. They were consecrated theories, but no government had been previously established for the great purpose of their preservation and enforcement. That which was experimental in our plan of government was the question whether democratic rule could be so organized and conducted that it would not degenerate into license and result in the tyranny of absolutism, without saving to the people the power so often found necessary of repressing or destroying their enemy, when he was found in the person of a single despot."
Our president recently referred to people who value the ideals on which our government was founded as his "enemies."  I wonder if we might see in him the single despot so feared by the Founders?  Fortunately, they left us the saving power to prevent such things, if only we will be wise enough to use it.

UPDATE

The above quote is from an introduction to Democracy in America, by John T. Morgan in the Kindle edition of the book.  However, readers should be warned that this introduction is a product of, I believe, a 19th century historian, and some of his views on race are unfortunate, at best, at worst, racist.  Still, the truth of some points he makes about deToqueville's understanding of America are still valid.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Washington Monument

Scrolling through my album, I came across this picture from the recent trip to DC.   I have found the Washington Monument to be fascinating, mostly because, when I was very young, perhaps only 6 or 7 years old,  my father took us a trip to Florida.  On the way, we stopped in Washington, and he and I walked up the stairs to the top of the Monument.  I remember him insisting we do this because he had, when he lived in Virginia, had something to do with the actual construction of the Monument, it wasn't something I was anxious to tackle, even at that young age.  I later studied history a bit and found this wasn't possible.  I've been confused about that ever since.

While we were attending the Restoring Honor Rally, however, I heard Glenn Beck make some mention of the fact that, about a third of the way up the Monument, there is a noticeable color change. (See second photo)  He explained it, but I couldn't hear the explanation.  Today, I researched it, and learned that the color change occurs about at the point where the initial phase of construction stopped in the 1850's.  I also learned that the Monument was considered a Masonic symbol; the cornerstone, apparently, was laid by members of the Masonic Order.  That would be one explanation of why my father was so attracted to the structure, he was a second, possibly third, generation Mason.
This second photo, by the way, was taken on Thursday, two days before the Rally when the set up for the big day was still in progress.  This is a "Glenn's" eye view of the Washington Monument and the Capital Building in the background.  Also visible is the WWII Memorial.  It also shows the color change quite clearly. Posted by Picasa 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Miscellaneous Musings, October 13, 2010

The Ice Man Cometh

I don’t know why, but the change of season from summer to fall has become an issue of momentous importance to me this year. It’s coming late; the leaves here in the Springs have hardly begun to turn. Looking out of my office window, the scene is very similar to what it was in July, there are just slight tinges of color here and there. Usually, the leaves are on the ground by now. Last night, there was a frost warning, it never got that cold, there was no frost.

As I said above, I don’t know why I feel so anxious to chronicle the change of season this year. It’s got nothing to do with the upcoming elections, I’m pretty sure of that. Neither has it anything to do with the fact the Broncos are having a lousy season under a coach of unproven talents. Perhaps, more than anything, it’s because I feel I’ve missed the last two or three such transitions. I have tended to be busy, to keep my head down and focus on the task and let the miracle taking place all around me pass me by. That’s something I should try to avoid at all cost.

Thoreau

I read Thoreau’s Walden in high school, possibly voluntarily, more likely because it was assigned. I remember being enthralled with the philosophy presented in that short book by one man who lived in a simple cabin by a pond for “two years and two months.” I thought at the time, and still do, truth be told, that living that way would be an ideal. I forget about the realities of a lack of indoor plumbing, being infested by mosquitoes and other bugs, lack of functioning air conditioning, and a readily accessible Chipotle restaurant to visit on a whim. The ideal is too idyllic.

Yet, although I still have my marked up paperback copy that I used in high school (it’s the only book from that time that I still have), I haven’t even glanced at Walden since then, hardly even thought about it. So, I thought it might be time to download the Kindle version and re read it; it is, after all, reputed to be an excellent sample from the genre known as nature writing. Within the first page or so, however, I come across this:

“Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them. Their fingers, from excessive toil, are too clumsy and tremble too much for that. Actually, the laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to men; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be anything but a machine. How can he remember well his ignorance—which his growth requires—who has so often to use his knowledge? We should feed and clothe him gratuitously sometimes, and recruit him with our cordials, before we judge of him. The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.”

Many of us live lives that we haven’t chosen, sometimes by happy accident, other times by very unfortunate circumstance. For those more unfortunate, the choice then becomes one of attitude and acceptance. The accidental circumstances of our lives aren’t really the determining factor in how we choose to live those lives, just ask Victor Frankel. Yet, Thoreau can only condemn those who work honestly and generously, as degrading, turning those people into “machines.”

When he does admit that, perhaps, many people cannot live lives of leisure and philosophical speculation, he does it this way:

 
“Some of you, we all know, are poor, find it hard to live, are sometimes, as it were, gasping for breath. I have no doubt that some of you who read this book are unable to pay for all the dinners which you have actually eaten, or for the coats and shoes which are fast wearing or are already worn out, and have come to this page to spend borrowed or stolen time, robbing your creditors of an hour. It is very evident what mean and sneaking lives many of you live, for my sight has been whetted by experience; always on the limits, trying to get into business and trying to get out of debt, a very ancient slough, called by the Latins aes alienum, another's brass, for some of their coins were made of brass; still living, and dying, and buried by this other's brass; always promising to pay, promising to pay, tomorrow, and dying today, insolvent; seeking to curry favor, to get custom, by how many modes, only not state-prison offenses; lying, flattering, voting, contracting yourselves into a nutshell of civility or dilating into an atmosphere of thin and vaporous generosity, that you may persuade your neighbor to let you make his shoes, or his hat, or his coat, or his carriage, or import his groceries for him; making yourselves sick, that you may lay up something against a sick day, something to be tucked away in an old chest, or in a stocking behind the plastering, or, more safely, in the brick bank; no matter where, no matter how much or how little.”

The condescension is palpable. While I’ll continue to read Walden, it’ll be in the back of my mind that I’m reading the work of a prototype of the modern day leftist.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October in Colorado

We seem to be going directly from summer to winter again this year.  It was that way last year too, we experienced very little in the way of fall weather.  So, I've decided to post a couple of pictures of the already fading fall colors, plus one of a more domestic moment in the living room sun.



Friday, September 17, 2010

8/28 Rally, Part II, Playing the Tourist Role


When going to a place like Washington, D.C., one almost feels morally obligated to hit as many of the popular tourist attractions as possible. This is true no matter the fact that, concerning one’s own home town, with plenty of tourist attractions of its own, one remains almost totally ignorant. In my own case, I’ve never visited Seven Falls, or the Cave of the Winds, or even driven up the Pikes Peak Highway, and may never. They’re too close to home, and too easy to go see to rate a visit, I guess. 

So, even though we had been to DC several times in the somewhat distant past, we managed some time at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Museum of American History on Friday, before the Rally, and Sunday, after the Rally.

At the Air and Space Museum I felt the pang of regret that I feel whenever I see an airplane on display. I learned to fly before I graduated from high school and, especially as I grow older, there is something in me that hates to see an airplane in a museum. Several of the planes that were there were ones that were flying, I could even say, still flying, as I was growing up. Two particular examples, the Stagger-Wing Beech and the DC 3.

I understand that, given the hazards of regular use, examples of these old airplanes might be lost for future generations to see. Keeping them on display can give those open to such thoughts a perspective on just how far and how fast technology has progressed during the last hundred years or so. Just as an example of technological progress, in the picture with the X-15 in the foreground, you can see the Spirit of St Louis and Virgin’s Spaceship 1, the first private venture into space. The technology here spans the time from 1927 into the early 21st century, a remarkable display. Still, they were made to fly and I always feel a twinge of sadness to see them hanging from the ceiling in a building in Washington.

At the Smithsonian Museum of American History, actually an annex thereof, there was a wide variety of subjects covered in the displays, from early electrical generators to chemical research to transportation. As we were going through the displays something struck me, beauty. Even the very early designs for commercial electrical generators we designed, very obviously, with an eye to beauty. It was readily apparent that great attention had been paid to every detail and that functionality was not the prime consideration. The gears and other parts and pieces were really pleasing to look at. Even locomotives were built with careful attention to detail. Quality was evident everywhere I looked.
The desire for beauty and finding beauty in everyday life is a very Benedictine notion. Looking beyond mere functionality and doing things well is, I think, part of living the Rule and I couldn’t help but think of that as we continued through the museum. It’s, like much else in Benedictine spirituality, a natural part of human life; we’re drawn, almost in spite of ourselves, to beauty as a reflection of God’s love in our lives. As I thought about it, it dawned on me that that’s part of the reason I hate to see airplanes in museums. In many cases, they were beautifully designed to do what they do. It was a very welcome reminder of the truth and importance of Benedict’s Rule, written so long ago.

As for most of Friday, we spent that at the American’s for Prosperity Summit in Washington. What can you say about political meetings with lots of political speeches? It seems they are all the same and it was no different at the AFP meetings we attended. We did hear speeches from several bona fide celebrities, including Dick Morris, Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell, and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. There were two, however, that stood out. One from Herman Cain and the other from George Will.

Herman Cain is a radio talk show host and Fox News contributor. His speech was, like the others mostly political, but in the last 10 minutes or so he spoke of his fight to survive stage 4 cancer (cancer in two or more organs). When his doctor told him of the diagnosis, he asked her what that meant. She told him, “That’s as bad as it gets.” He said he decided to get a second opinion. At this point, he began to take on the persona of a black preacher and really put his heart into his talk. The second doctor he went to also told him, “It’s as bad as it gets.” But this doctor wasn’t ready to give up; he suggested a course of treatment. Mr. Cain said that after this, he began to see signs from God, the first of which was that the second doctor’s name was Lord. As he went on and gave the details of his treatment and survival, he told a story of real trust in God and love for God. It was very moving and if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, please go. You won’t be sorry.

The other speaker was the Keynote address that evening by the columnist, George Will. Will was a professor, I’m guessing of history, before he was a columnist and his speaking style is very much that of a scholarly, intellectual, history professor. I’m always up for that. Will, however, is also a baseball enthusiast, and he told several humorous stories about baseball to make the political points that were also very much part of his speech. I’ll share one with you.

It seems there was a rookie pitcher who faced the immortal Rogers Hornsby toward the end of Hornsby’s career. The pitcher threw three pitches, each of which, in truth, caught the outside of the plate. The umpire, however, called each one a ball. The rookie protested, “Mr. Umpire, those pitches were strikes.” The umpire answered, “Son, if any of those pitches had been strikes, Mr. Hornsby would have let you know.” Hornsby had established himself as a true professional who would not slack off, even when facing the rawest rookie challenger.

Is there a lesson from all this? I’d say the big impression on me was the excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd. They were fired up to say the least. When telling points against the other side were made, standing ovations almost always followed. It was as if the crowd believed that, simply by making those points, the speakers were vanquishing the forces of darkness and ushering in a regime that would reestablish the primacy of truth, justice and the American way. I think that remains to be seen, but the excitement and energy of the crowd was hugely impressive. By the time the evening was over, I was wondering what the morrow would bring.



Saturday, September 4, 2010

8/28 Diary, Part I, On the Road to Washington

[Note: My wife and I attended Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally in D.C. this past weekend and I thought it important to provide some notes from the experience. ]

I first heard about the Restoring Honor Rally Glenn Beck planned for 8/28 probably in April. My first thought was, good grief, Washington, D.C. in August? He’s gotta be kidding! But then, my wife got wind of it. We talked it over for a good month or so and finally decided it was important that there be a good crowd for this, so we made reservations to go.

Why did we go? During to countdown to the Rally, all four months of it, we had little idea of what to expect, Beck didn’t release many details in advance. We did know the program was themed around his understanding of the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity and that he vowed it wouldn’t be political; it would be about returning the country to it’s traditional values. And that’s why we went. We felt it important to stand in favor of such things; it was a tremendous gamble on Beck’s part to put the thing on; if it failed, if few people showed up, the so called elites running the country could claim a real victory for their progressive agenda. That would be terrible. We were a little afraid, in fact, that many people would not make the trip, given the time and the condition of the economy. We decided we could go, thanks to a bank of air miles, and so we would; we would try to do our part to make sure it didn’t fail.

So, we waited four months for the day of departure to arrive.

On the Road – We made our reservations to fly out on Thursday, 8/26 on the United direct flight from COS to Washington, Dulles Airport. The eve of the big day came, we set the alarms early, packed and went to bed. We got up, got breakfast and until 6:00 AM everything went strictly to plan. We were congratulating ourselves that we were better prepared and things were going more smoothly than any trip we had ever taken. Then the lights went out. I finished my shower and shaved in darkness. I wondered if this was an omen. Anyway, we got the bags out to the car and headed to the airport, thinking the power would come on soon and everything would be fine.

We got there, a parking lot shuttle followed us from our arrival in the Long Term Parking area and picked us right up. Seemed we were back on track. We got through security with no issue and got to the gate quickly.

It’s hard to describe time spent in a modern airport. There is the unrelenting sameness about airports these days that seems at times both welcome and oppressive. It’s welcome because you feel like you are entering familiar territory in the sometimes over whelming experience that is travel these days. It’s oppressive because it’s easy to forget just exactly what town you are in; except in matters of scale, one airport looks almost exactly like another airport, no matter the city or state. It’s also hard for an old-timer like myself not to remember that it didn’t use to be like that; airports in different cities each had their own character and were part of the landscape to which they belonged. They reflected the area around them. Now, due mostly I guess, to changes in technology and the regulatory quest to try to guarantee absolute safety, no matter the cost, entering an airport is like entering some sort of isolation capsule where you are completely cut off, once past security screening, from anything or any influence from the outside. Is this a good thing? I don’t know.

It’s hard not to notice, too, that even the cast of characters at most airports is nearly identical. At the screening area, there is the inevitable poor soul, usually some middle aged, infrequent traveler from Milwaukee, who tries to pack all sorts of liquids and gel into his/her carry-on baggage, resulting in the full force of the TSA coming down on their heads in the never-ending effort to trap terrorists and confiscate any possible explosive contraband. There is the elderly couple overwhelmed by the whole experience, wearing the famous deer in the headlights expressions. I can’t help but feel for them. There is the jaded, withdrawn teenager or college student, completely absorbed with their iPod, smart phone, or what ever the gadget of the moment is. And there is the business traveler, the one who makes their living doing this, week in and week out, checking email or writing important memos on laptops plugged into the wall. They were all there this morning too. As for me, I pulled out my most recent discovery, my Kindle, and opened a book by Richard O’Kane, The Patrols of the American Submarine, Wahoo.

I always try to bring a book of military history with me when I have to take an airplane some where. They aren’t heavy reading, but still serve as a periodic reminder that human beings, maybe especially Americans, are capable of great courage and self-sacrifice in the pursuit of what is right and good. O’Kane’s book fit the bill perfectly. The Kindle makes it possible to carry many books, both for the flight and for reading after arrival, without weighing down your carry on bag to at or beyond my declining physical limits. It’s a god send as I hate to be without a selection of books to read.  My Kindle will spoil me.

The flight itself, even though it was roughly three hours on a small commuter jet, wasn’t uncomfortable. It was, in fact, bearable. What else can be said, or even wished for these days? I congratulate United Airlines for being a rather customer oriented air carrier and doing their best to provide a pleasant experience under difficult circumstances.

On arrival, we headed for baggage claim, collected our bags and headed for the advertised shuttle which would take us to the West Falls Church Metro stop where we could catch a train and, we hoped, land reasonably close to our hotel at a reasonable hour. This worked out close to plan.

So, here we were in Washington, D.C., awaiting the big day.

[To be continued]

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Killing Time, Waiting for the Barbershop to Open

[Bloggers Note: This was written at 0805 this morning.]

So, here I am, sitting in the neighborhood Starbuck’s, early on a Saturday morning, nearly an hour to go before the barbershop opens, killing time. Why, you may ask, am I sitting here with time on my hands waiting for the barbershop to open? You know I’ve got to tell you. 

Yesterday, the postman left one of those dreaded little slips of paper saying he had tried to deliver a certified, very important, letter and I wasn’t home to receive it. I could sense the disdain. This important document would be waiting for me in the morning at the post office several miles from our home. I knew it was important because it was sent through the very important, even legally demanding processes of the U.S. Postal Service Certified Letter channels. It must be important for someone to go through the time and expense to send me a document in that way. In any case, I was now scheduled to report to the Post Office at 8:00 AM on Saturday morning.

I had been expecting some documents that might qualify for this process and at first thought nothing of this intrusion. Then I began to have doubts. What really awaited me at the Post Office? So far as I knew, I hadn’t offended anyone enough for them to be sending notice of impending litigation. I was confident that I had paid every dime, and more, probably, to my Uncle Sam. This couldn’t be a letter from the IRS threatening to take everything I owned, or ever will own, unless I promptly paid some amount approximately equal to the national debt as of today. No, it couldn’t be that. Still. . . All I could see was a mountain of legal bills piling ever higher. The future looked bleak.

I spent a restless night in anxious anticipation of morning, cursing the fact that I hadn’t been home when this nasty coupon was delivered. Perhaps I could have refused to accept the thing, or told him I had moved to Montana or something. By the time morning arrived I was in a state. I rose early and headed off to the post office. I hate waiting in lines, especially at the post office and even more especially when my life as I knew it appeared to be at an end. I haven’t yet learned the Benedictine virtue of patience.

A stroke of luck, I was there the moment the doors opened and I was the first customer at the counter. I stood and looked at the postal clerk. He gave me a puzzled look and I handed him the coupon. After a few minutes he returned with the envelope in his hands and a very serious look on his face. He told me to sign on the line displayed on the little electronic box permanently anchored to the counter next to me. (Who would steal one of those things?) I obediently signed and he handed me my fate.

I looked at the envelope and it bore the return address of one of the national political party’s congressional campaign committees. What could this be? Maybe they were coming to their senses and asking me to run for national office, recognizing, finally, the importance of having candidates of a certain maturity and wisdom? Were they looking for advice on a course of action for the future? It was about time.

I brightened, stood a little taller, and opened the envelope, ready to offer myself in service to my country with purpose and dignity. I began reading, “I regret the inconvenience sending this certified letter may have caused you, but . . .” It was a letter asking me to contribute big bucks (fat chance) to their campaign war chest. I drooped. It was a complete waste of time, all for nothing. So I went to Starbucks and wrote this little essay and now you’ve wasted your time reading it. So there. I’m going to get a haircut.

Friday, August 6, 2010

What Was I Thinking?

When I wrote the previous post, I was thinking that to write on a broader range of topics than those relating to Benedictine monasticism, I really should start another blog not referred to as an Oblate blog. What was I thinking?

The rational I used to justify the new blog was that William of St. Thierry, a Cistercian father, wrote a book that didn’t deal directly with monastic topics but rather focused on what it takes to be a Christian. I was thinking that he wasn’t writing in the monastic tradition, why, I don’t know. He most certainly was, because after all, what is the point of a monastery except to form a community dedicated to seeking God? What is the point of being an Oblate, except to seek God within my own vocation. It means, as I have said so many times before, that the whole point to the Rule, is to create a way of life that encompasses all important aspects of our human condition, work, prayer, conversion, community, hospitality, or dealing with authority and the importance of obedience. It’s all in there. I don’t know what made me think a study of the most important tenants of my faith, or commenting on what is going on in my world would be subjects not to be covered on an Oblate blog. What was I thinking?

I guess I just wasn’t, so I decided to correct the situation in the name of stability, another topic covered in the Rule.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A New Direction (From Apologia of My Own)

[This post was originally entered on another blog of mine but I wanted to be sure it was posted here.  Another post explaining more will follow.]

For some time now, I’ve wanted to branch out in topics I cover during my blogging career. For some reason I can’t explain, the impetus came from reading William of St. Thierry’s The Golden Epistle. William was one of the Cistercian Fathers, a monastic, who wrote simply about seeking God. He didn’t spend much time on specifically monastic topics. I thought about that and realized that I hadn’t spent much time reading or studying what it means to seek God as a Catholic Christian living in the 21st century. More than that, I wanted to get back to the roots of some Church teachings that I wasn’t too familiar with and some teachings that I was just plain uncomfortable with. I suppose chief among the latter topics would be the so called area of “social justice.” On top of all that, I wanted to spend time reading either original documents, or writers who lived not later than the early 20th century. So my study will be one of the areas of focus for this blog.


Other areas will certainly include current events, skirting partisan political issues as much as possible, and possibly even supposedly trivial issues such as the weather, football, and ordinary events of daily life and reflections on my past. In other words, anything that occurs to me at the moment I sit down to type.

To possibly set the tone for the future of An Apoligia of my Own, I offer the following video from Red Skelton. This short bit gives a beautiful example of the impact some serious thought can have.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Square Top Lakes



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On the weekend we went up Guanella Pass, southwest of Denver, and hiked the South Fork Trail to Square Top Lakes.  The hike is entirely above tree line, starting at 11,500' or so and ending up at 12,150' elevation.  At that altitude, it's quite a hike.  The first photo is a small waterfall on the road up to the summit.  The second is at the trail head looking out over the countryside.  The third is one of two Square Top Lakes; these are alpine lakes fed, I  think, by glacial run-off.  Not too sure about that, though.  You do feel like you're at the top of the world.

Before summer's over, end of August timeframe, we're going to try to do more hikes, so perhaps more pictures will follow.
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

One Chipmunk, Not Alvin.

As promised, a few more shots from the Pancake Rocks trail that we hiked on Sunday. I mentioned "surprises," there is actually only one, this fearless little chipmunk in the bottom two photos. Usually, these little critters scurry around so fast they're gone before you notice them. Not this guy; in the first shot he actually looked like he was posing for me. He came much closer after that -- I think he was looking for something to eat. He seemed to live in the rock formation that you can see in the far right portion of the first picture, so, after he ran off in there, I left a few raisins on his doorstep. I hope he got them.

Enjoy.



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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pancake Rocks

We made the hike to Pancake Rocks this past weekend. I was determined not to wait to get to see these rock formations. The first picture is of one of the dominant rock formations in this small area. By the way, these sit at approximately 11,000 ft elevation. The second photo is a shot of the little rock cairns that people have set up in a couple of places at the rocks. In the third photo, you can see the "view from top", so to speak.  We stayed up on top for about 20 minutes and were the only ones there, more hikers were going up as we started down.

The trail is 7 miles round trip, 3.5 miles each way, starting at an elevation of about 9,400.  It is quite a hike; the hardest part is the descent on the return trip.  Still, it was worth the hike for the view.  Too, while it was near 90 in Colorado Springs, it was in the 70's on the mountain.  Not a bad day for an outing.

I have some more shots I will share later in the week. They contain a couple of surprises!


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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Horsethief Falls

Did a hike up to Horsethief Falls and Pancake Rocks last Sunday and I got a few shots along the trail.  I think , on this trail, the best time for taking photos is in the afternoon, unfortunately, there wasn't time for that.  These trails are about an hour from where I live and the schedule is a bit tight for an all day journey.  I guess, too, I was testing the limits of my little Canon S90, but I continue to be very pleased with most of the shots I get from it.  I hope to go again soon to try to get to the actual Pancake Rock formations which were a little farther along the trail.  Just as a point of reference, the trailhead is at 9,400 ft elevation, goes up to about 11,100 feet and, the heartbreaking part, descends again to get the Pancake Rocks.  By the time you've gone up 2,000 ft or so the idea of descending, then climbing again to get back isn't the most appealing in the world.  Incidentally, Horsethief Falls is so named, obviously, because horse thieves in the old west used to hide out in the little canyon just below the Falls. .




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Monday, July 12, 2010

Don't Know Much About History . . .

Johannes Cassianus, portret.Image via Wikipedia
The business man too does not lay aside the desire of procuring wares, by means of which he may more profitably amass riches, because he would desire gain to no purpose, unless he chose the road which leads to it: and those men who are anxious to be decorated with the honours of this world, first make up their minds to what duties and conditions they must devote themselves, that in the regular course of hope they may succeed in gaining the honours they desire. And so the end of our way of life is indeed the kingdom of God. But what is the (immediate) goal you must earnestly ask, for if it is not in the same way discovered by us, we shall strive and wear ourselves out to no purpose, because a man who is travelling in a wrong direction, has all the trouble and gets none of the good of his journey. And when we stood gaping at this remark, the old man proceeded: The end of our profession indeed, as I said, is the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven: but the immediate aim or goal, is purity of heart, without which no one can gain that end: fixing our gaze then steadily on this goal as if on a definite mark, let us direct our course as straight towards it as possible, and if our thoughts wander somewhat from this, let us revert to our gaze upon it, and check them accurately as by a sure standard, which will always bring back all our efforts to this one mark, and will show at once if our mind has wandered ever so little from the direction marked out for it.



This is another lengthy quote from John Cassian’s Conferences in which he discusses purity of heart. What I find interesting about this section is his description of what it takes to gain purity of heart – single-mindedness. I think the greatest enemy today to faith, I know it’s my greatest enemy, is getting lost in all the distractions available: too much television, too much internet, even too much Bach, all make a shambles of my very best intentions to spend more time in prayer and sacred reading. But what I find even more interesting is that this isn’t a new problem. Evidently, monks and, I’m sure other Christians, have struggled with this throughout the centuries. Remember, this was written in roughly the 4th or 5th century A.D., over 1,500 years ago. There was no television, no internet, no news magazines or newspapers; there were still distractions, things that make our thoughts wander.


We like to think that those of us living today have somehow evolved and become different from those who lived before us. We think we’re better just for having come later. We think we have nothing to learn from those who went before us. Obviously, we are wrong. We have a great deal to learn from those who experienced life perhaps in its most real form. We can learn from the desert monks, if only we would. Reading them isn’t always exactly easy, and there are no brilliant pictures or graphics accompanying their writing, it takes some effort. I can’t help but feel that the reward would make the effort worthwhile.












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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rocky Mtn Workshop - September, 2009

I was browsing my photo gallery the other day and came across my shots from the photo workshop at Rocky Mountain National Park last September.  I came across the pictures of the big bull elk that we spent so much time with on Saturday afternoon.  He was truly an impressive creature, not just to us watching him, but to the other bulls in the area too.  They were avoiding him, would go nowhere near his territory.  One dared a little too close and this guy went to make sure he understood his mistake.  It was quite a show.
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Friday, July 9, 2010

From Fr. Michael at Getheseme Abbey

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...Image via Wikipedia
Our gospels tells us of how Jesus, as he went around to all the towns and villages and saw the crowds, how “his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned like sheep without a shepherd.” Are these words reminding us of something terribly important if we are going to have new vocations to the religious and priestly life today? Do we find our own hearts moved with pity and do we recognize sufficiently how many, especially the young, are troubled and abandoned? Do we see the crying need for persons to guide and instruct the crowds of our own time? Have our affluence and technological advances stolen from us this sense of pity and compassion, this sense of urgent need, blinded us even to how troubled and abandoned the people of our time truly are? I find myself asking these questions and wonder if they might be a way of deepening our prayer and attracting vocations.


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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mt. Cutler Trail, 4th of July Weekend

This is from Mt. Cutler Trail, minutes from downtown Colorado Springs. I was hiking up the trail and looked up to see this little guy watching me. Normally, chipmunks up there disappear before you even know they're there. Not this fellow, he stayed in place with no fear from the likes of me. Guess you get to know the dangerous characters.
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