Awesome Avocado-Under-Egg Breakfast

Awesome Avocado-Under-Egg On Toast Breakfast

Being, as previously noted, somewhat lazy as well as cheap, extensive preparation for a meal is not one of my greater joys. If materials are not ready to hand, I will not run out to buy the fixin’s if they aren’t in the pantry. On the other hand, knowing this foible causes me to pick up an odd assortment of fixin’s “just in case.”

So, there I am, in the wee hours, second cup of coffee on the inside, and my stomach sounds a minor alarm. I look in the refrigerator to discover a partial carton of eggs and an open jug of V-8 Juice. On the counter top is a package of 12-Grain bread and a lonely little avocado (poor thing, all alone).

I put the skillet on a medium heat, with a dollop of olive oil (best for frying), and while it is warming, drop a single slice of bread in the toaster (lightly toasted, very lightly.)

Butter the bread with a whipped butter (label says 100% pure butter, but the thrashing makes it very easy to spread).

Peel and cut up the avocado while the egg begins cooking, arranging non-artistically on the slice of toast. Sprinkle a bit of lemon-pepper seasoning (to taste) on the avocado pieces.

100_4497.JPG

Flip the egg and place on the avocado when done.

100_4498

Consume with a glass of V-8 Juice.

Delish!

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Does the Buddha have a Dog Nature?

Does the Buddha have a dog nature

Golly, I sure hope so.

Last week, we had to euthanize (put down, put to sleep, kill) our two dogs. Our Old Boy (our son’s inseparable companion) was getting arthritic, had stopped eating and lost bowel control. (he “leaked”), and our neurotic cocker spaniel, the life and light of our last few years was declining fast.

She had contracted something the vet said was an auto-immune disease particular to spaniels, which caused hemorrhaging into her gastro-intestinal tract. She was slowly bleeding to death. Coupled with her not drinking water, meant she was about to go in only a few days, and heroic measures would have been of problematical success. Not to mention, she would have been distraught being in a pet hospital 50 miles away from home without Mommy.

We took them down at the same time, and it seemed to comfort both of them, being together.

It happened on the Tuesday after Easter, and I made them nice beds in the pet cemetery on our place. I put the Little Girl (she was seven years old, but we always thought of her as a puppy) next to one who died 15 years before. The Old Boy I laid on the outside.

I buried them with food pans, collars, leashes, favorite blankies, and some chews. Very Pagan of me, yes? I placed rocks on top to prevent coyotes disturbing the place, and outlined them with garden timbers. Also put in some cheapie solar-powered nightlights.

She was always afraid of venturing outside after dark.

Why was she so special? Well, one night in 2010, my wife and I were sitting on the porch, unusually late for us, when I saw a pale blob at the edge of the lighted area. It took just a moment to realize it was a dog, so I called to it. This puppy came running to us, just under a year old, it seemed, who some &%$ &**#$@ had dropped off at the dead end near our place. We took her to the vet a week later (delaying the inevitable), and found who were the &%**$ #@*&%% who didn’t want her. (Thanks to the microchip they forgot was imbedded in her back – or maybe they had hoped a coyote would get to her first.) We did want her.

It was a happy time.

Sandy 2010 November 23

Does the Buddha have a dog nature? Anyone who has discovered Zen koans knows where that came from. (Also related, “I give a name to my dog and call him Nietzsche.”)

Dogs have been with humans for an awfully long time. They are so attached to humans, and we to them, we have become symbionts. They can read us better than we can read each other, oftentimes. We love them, exploit them, and cannot get along without them. (From Hombre, “I wonder if she’d eat dog now?”)

Contrary to those dogmatically inclined individuals who seem to take great delight in asserting the moral supremacy of humans and the insignificance of the rest of creation, Franciscans have the right (IMHO) idea regarding “lesser creatures”. If Christ redeemed all creation, it surely includes dogs.

You say, the Beatific Vision renders attachment to Earthly Things irrelevant? OK. But how do you know dogs are not part of the Beatific Vision? Eh?

Humans get to go to Heaven because of the Mercy of God, because of the Passion, from Grace. Because we freely chose to Fall. Creation did not so choose. Creation Fell because of us—humans. Perhaps animals are redeemed rom Justice, not Mercy? Because what happened to them wasn’t their fault, but ours? And if our Fall hurt them, whet would be our Redemption but theirs also?

This is probably not theologically sound. But it seems to fit the way I understand how God works. And the Franciscans think similarly.

So, why do I hope the Buddha has a dog nature? Because it is the best nature I know — on Earth.

After all…

220px-AllDogsGotoHeaven

Yeah, I am pretty weird.

Posted in Dogs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Return of the Pagans

No, not these volk.

Tara2003.jpg

As society retreats from Christian influence, not even bothering to pay the homage of hypocrisy to virtue, the people most surprised by the result will be (and already are) those who have been clamoring for the suppression of religion as an offence against their delicate feelings.

The widespread effect of Christianity on the West is too well documented to be challenged, save only by those partisans who like to make up facts to fit their narratives.

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

How the Irish Saved Civilization

Where the West has faltered has not been due to Christianity, but the failure to follow through on the official beliefs.

In actual fact, the effect of Christianity has been to palliate the many ills human beings are prone to inflict on themselves and others, and where Christianity has been explicitly rejected, as in Nazi Germany or Communist Russia, the foundation of a society based on theoretical nonsense has been proven quicksand.

The New Pagans are not a majority, and will most likely remain a minority within the culture, but a most influential minority. I say this because they are already an influential minority, under the flag of so-called political correctness.   (Their latest faddish slogan, “Woke” is too reminiscent of the Nazi “Deutschland erwache” –Germany Wake Up — to make me happy, but as they go along, the alleged progressives seem to be aping ever more the arc of fascism.)

f01_front.jpg

This triumph of certain professional social activists also strips the human conscience of any restraint or need for even a pretended civility. Blinded by chronological bigotry and historical myopia, they rest smug in the fond belief they are the crown of humanity and the epitome of sophistication. Having a half-baked notion of superiority to their ancestors and other less aware contemporaries, they believe their technological doo-dads (which they use, but do not understand how to make) are the finest proof of their supremacy.

They did not intend to bring about a revival of paganism, but brought nothing to replace the Christianity they sought to destroy. Coasting on the last tide of Christian civility, they are astonished that norms for behavior are being abandoned. When the manners of civil society are dismissed, brute force and ignorance come into their own. For, as Nietzsche observed, absent God, anything is permissible.

Torture your enemies? OK

Starve people? OK

Wage war and extort for profit? OK

Imprison journalists? OK

Ruin small businesses who decline to violate their conscience for the sake of your agenda? OK

Kill anyone who offends you? OK

sokrat.jpg

But, we have been here before. There are some people like the estimable Rod Dreher, who has made a cottage industry of declaring the sky to be falling. (And, in honesty, he may not be wrong, but I think he is.) Rod’s solution is The Benedict Option, which he has been working on for several years, and with the publication of his book, is gaining traction, or at least attention, even from secularists who can’t disagree with his program.

Basically he calls for the creation of intentional communities of the like-minded, who will tend to their own knitting, and preserve and pas on he essentials of faith and practice. It is a worthy notion, even in the best of times, and reminiscent of the efforts of the Mennonites and Amish, and Orthodox Jews. But that last is the rub.

In times past, European Jews voluntarily segregated themselves from gentile society in order to accomplish Rod’s goals, preserving their faith and transmitting it unsullied to the next generation. The first ghettos were not imposed, but self-selected. After some time, they became imposed, as States found it was convenient to have all their eggs in one basket, for taxing, or pogroms, or, under the Nazis, extermination. But that is a worse-case scenario, if however plausible.

The question rises, dripping with irony, is this scenario, of Aztecs sacrificing Christians on the top of the Empire State Building, realistic. The answer is, no. Even in a “post-Christian” West, such things are not going to happen. Discrimination against those whose lifestyle choices affect the Holy Bottom Line, yes. But not altars built to Moloch where infants are sacrificed to appease the God of Materialism. (Pre-natal abortion works quite well toward that end already.)

The Old Pagans (not to be confused with those who are trying to bring back Norse or Celtic or Druid religions or such in a Society for Creative Anachronism type affair), had a hardscrabble life, and a long history of working out the rules of their societies. The New Pagans are not even trying to link up with the recreationists, but are winging it on their own, serenely confident they know what they are doing.

tosacrifice.jpg

Unfortunately, the New Pagans not only have rejected Christianity and all things “Church”, but have contempt for their intellectual ancestors. The problem is that  outrage porn, commercial hedonism, militarism, and drowning in the ocean of social media leaves no room for discovery of pagan thinkers of the past. A very little bit of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, Sophocles, Thucydides, Virgil, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Cicero, Plutarch, would do wonders for demonstrating to the new breed there is a whole world beyond “Wow” or “Ouch” or “Yum”.

plato-H.jpg

But that is wishful thinking. The Sages of the West are strictly TL;DR for this bunch rising. They have skipped the Golden Age, and gone directly to decadence.

Roman-Saturnalia-orgy.jpg

And so, we will go through a dark age, the denizens of which will be deluded into thinking its gadgets are proof of superiority (more even than the chronological bigotry of the “modern” temperament.) But dark ages do not last forever. Shockingly, the world will go on even after my demise.

The last “Enlightenment” merely substituted an (allegedly) ancient and venerable superstition with a (regrettably) modern and shallow one. Perhaps the one coming along in a few centuries will be better.

Maybe.

Meanwhile, the Pagans are back. I hope they have heard of the Gods of the Copybook Headings (courtesy Rudyard Kipling.)

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,

I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.

Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

 

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn

That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:

But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,

So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

 

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,

Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,

But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come

That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

 

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,

They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;

They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;

So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

 

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.

They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.

But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

 

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life

(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)

Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

 

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,

By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;

But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

 

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew

And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true

That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

 

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man

There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

 

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

 

fd2f852442030e5584-66796735.jpg

 

(No, it’s not Congress. But it might be, someday.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Catholicism, Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Man Born Blind

Sunday’s Gospel was the story of the Man Born Blind, how Christ healed him up, of the blindness, and healed his heart also.

John 9:1-41 As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,  that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, ” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight  until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind  and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,  that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,  but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,  “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.”
He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this  and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

The first healing was of the man’s eyes, with mud and spit.  The second was when he used those eyes to look on Jesus, and worshiped him.

As Father was giving his homily, it suddenly came to me that Les Miserables main characters show some form of blindness, and (mostly) healing. Read it online here. Here is a decent analysis of the characters.

The first connect is not from Victor Hugo’s wonderful book, but from the movie, the musical version. The song which proclaims to love another person is to see the face of God.

Consider how the characters all forward this idea.

Jean Valjean , a man brutalized into blindness to his own nature and to the world. All he can see is pain and misery, until M. Myriel the Bishop of Digne (Dignity?) opens his eyes to his own humanity. After that, he becomes a Christ to other people, relapsing into blindness only when his fear of return to prison overtakes him (which he gets over by testifying at the trial of the poor wretch arrested in his place.)

Fantine  was a foolish young maiden, blinded by the starry eyes of infatuation with her bourgeois boyfriend, who had her eyes opened to the awfulness of mankind when he abandoned her in her pregnancy. She sinks lower and lower, still clear-eyed, for her one goal is to benefit her daughter, Colette. She has a bad opinion of humanity, until “Monsieur Madeline” (Valjean) realizes his foolishness has injured her, and tends her as she dies.

Javert, blinded from birth, to humanity, due to his gutter-nativity, has his eyes fixed on the immovable stars of The Law (not of Justice, take note) until Jean Valjean suddenly shatters his carefully constructed, but brittle, concept of the World, and being unable to handle the sudden sight, declines to go on living.

Marius Pontmercy, blinded by revolutionary and romantic rhetoric, even despises Valjean until he discovers who it was rescued him from certain death.

Cosette also, loved her adopted father, but never saw him for what he was until he died.

Of the others, Thénardier is willfully blind throughout, untroubled by conscience or remorse, (in the book, he goes to America to engage in slave-trading).

Eponine, who is Thénardier’s daughter, is a truly tragic figure, with clear vision, and willing to die for her Marius, who didn’t seem to know she was a live person.

And lastly, Gavroche, Thernardier’s abandoned child, who despite living rough, sees the way the world is, and (in the case of the two boys he ‘adopts’) that he can make a difference. It was not for nothing in the movie, Javert places the Legion of Honor on the breast of the dead Gavroche.

So, the moral is, to what to whom, are we blind? And are we willing to have our eyes opened?

 

Posted in Books, Catholicism, Lent, Movies, Music | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Yesterday Was The Third Sunday In Lent

60057.jpg

Last Sunday (yesterday) the Gospel reading was from John, about The Woman at the Well, one of the longer Gospel readings in the year, even the abbreviated version is longer than usual. (This is only an excerpt.)

Gospel of John Chapter 4

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” —For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.— Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

There is an interesting commentary, part of the Liturgy of the Hours, the Office of Readings for the Third Sunday in Lent.

From a treatise on John by Saint Augustine, bishop

A Samaritan woman came to draw water

A woman came. She is a symbol of the Church not yet made righteous but about to be made righteous. Righteousness follows from the conversation. She came in ignorance, she found Christ, and he enters into conversation with her. Let us see what it is about, let us see why a Samaritan woman came to draw water. The Samaritans did not form part of the Jewish people: they were foreigners. The fact that she came from a foreign people is part of the symbolic meaning, for she is a symbol of the Church. The Church was to come from the Gentiles, of a different race from the Jews.

We must then recognize ourselves in her words and in her person, and with her give our own thanks to God. She was a symbol, not the reality; she foreshadowed the reality, and the reality came to be. She found faith in Christ, who was using her as a symbol to teach us what was to come. She came then to draw water. She had simply come to draw water, in the normal way of man or woman.

Jesus says to her: Give me water to drink. For his disciples had gone to the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman therefore says to him: How is it that you, though a Jew, ask me for water to drink, though I am a Samaritan woman? For Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans.

The Samaritans were foreigners; Jews never used their utensils. The woman was carrying a pail for drawing water. She was astonished that a Jew should ask her for a drink of water, a thing that Jews would not do. But the one who was asking for a drink of water was thirsting for her faith.

Listen now and learn who it is that asks for a drink. Jesus answered her and said: If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” perhaps you might have asked him and he would have given you living water.

He asks for a drink, and he promises a drink. He is in need, as one hoping to receive, yet he is rich, as one about to satisfy the thirst of others. He says: If you knew the gift of God. The gift of God is the Holy Spirit. But he is still using veiled language as he speaks to the woman and gradually enters into her heart. Or is he already teaching her? What could be more gentle and kind than the encouragement he gives? If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” perhaps you might ask and he would give you living water.

What is this water that he will give if not the water spoken of in Scripture: With you is the fountain of life? How can those feel thirst who will drink deeply from the abundance in your house?

He was promising the Holy Spirit in satisfying abundance. She did not yet understand. In her failure to grasp his meaning, what was her reply? The woman says to him, Master, give me this drink, so that I may feel no thirst or come here to draw water. Her need forced her to this labor, her weakness shrank from it. If only she could hear those words: Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Jesus was saying this to her, so that her labors might be at an end; but she was not yet able to understand.

Do WE understand? I was raised in Protestant Land, my one Grandfather was a Baptist Deacon (not the same thing at all as the Catholic Deacon), in a part of the USA which was culturally Dixie even if the geography was north of the Ohio. Let’s face it, Southern Gospel has the best music for non-liturgical purposes. (Mozart and Bach and Handel have a few words to say about the other.)

Well, on the nature of a conversation, or even a short stroll with Christ, our Protestant siblings have a song or two about the experience.

 

This version by Red Foley, but about every Country & Western singer ever has recorded it. Nobody seems to know who wrote it, but it has been a staple of the Southern Gospel songbook for many years.

What would we say, just walking along the road to — anywhere — with the Lord of the Universe?  How would we react?  Could we say anything?

Hand-in-Hand1.jpg

O would we just learn what it means to be like a little child and just trust, and enjoy the walk?

Here we are, almost half-way through Lent. Why are we doing this “Lenten” stuff? What sadistic prelate contrived the idea of FASTING, ABSTINENCE, and other acts of MORTIFICATION, not to mention Prayer and Works of Mercy?  How does it help?  What does it help to do, anyway? Why make people suffer? Because you can? Or is there some other purpose in mind?

The “Forty” days of Lent are not just a time to feel miserable and hope God notices your sackcloth and ashes. (Although it may involve some of that.) No, as the prelude to Easter, Lent is a time to get closer to Jesus. To find Him in your daily life, on the road, in a boat, or at a well.

It is a time to allow Him to speak, not to your ears (though that helps), but to your heart, to your soul, your Spirit, your Being. Wherever, we go, He will go with us, to help us do right, to turn (or re-turn) to Him. (Relentless is He. Give up He does not.) But here in Lent, we are reminded that while He goes with us, it is better if we go with him. Not our way, but His way. Wherever He goes.

And that is what the old Gospel song asks for.

Just a closer walk with Jesus, no matter where he is headed (even to Calvary… and beyond.)

Protestants have lots of songs about walking with Jesus.  Some of them are real schmaltzy, and some are to the heart.  Here’s a couple.

Put your hand in the hand of the man, sung by Loretta Lynn (The “Rose Garden” Lady.)

In the Garden (would anyone deny Mahalia Jackson isn’t Southern and Gospel?)

The message is simple. A time spent with Jesus Christ, even a short one, as the Woman at the Well, can be a life-changer.

OTOH, a long acquaintance may do no good (vide Judas).  As we learn in The Godfather III, about the dry stone.

Jesus Christ will transform us, from what we have been, into what we can gloriously become.  But we have to let him.  In that sense, we all are “Europe”.

This Season, perhaps we can open up that Christ may live in us.  Drink deep.

Posted in Catholicism, Lent, Movies, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Cannot Serve Both God And MadAve

veaudo11

Of all the advertising schemes promoted by Madison Avenue, is there ONE which does not appeal to human depravity one way or another? Is there a marketing campaign which does not depend on the seven deadly sins? Is there a sales pitch which is not at base contempt for the moral fiber of human beings? Maybe they know what they’re doing…

Pride envy, avarice, lust, gluttony, sloth, and rage.

All prime means of seducing the human spirit. All employed with vigor by Mammon and the votaries of Mammon.

Think how salesmen are trained (I once went through a lengthy class, before I realized I didn’t have it in me.) and what forces they are taught to use. Is there any sales mechanism which is not designed to target the worst of human failings?

Consider how, in keeping up with the Joneses, feeling the pride of ownership, knowing you deserve the best, you have succumbed to the base elements of human nature.

Consider also how if you do as the uncritical economic animals (homo economicus) in responding to these appeals, you will have not the wherewithal in time or resources to help the needy and downtrodden. (Not to mention the aversion you will acquire for having those smelly unwashed ragged muffins near YOUR shiny baubles.)

Consider how much you really and truly needed your last ten purchases, and why you made them.

Are you behaving like a human being? Like a child of God? Like a person seeking sainthood? (It’s our Vocation, you know.)

Or, are you a reactive alimentary canal with easily tingled reproductive apparatus and conditioned to dispense cash whenever a bell rings?

You cannot serve both God and Mammon.

 

Adbusters did this cute little thing a few years back. It is well done, just like what you see in the slicks.

And so damnably true.

Mammon 2

Posted in Catholicism, Culture | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Stir-Fry Stew … and MORE

100_4341

 

It has been a while since I tried anything new in the kitchen. So there I am, in the local grocery, and meandering about as is my wont when my wife foolishly sends me to the store alone (!!), and I spy a package of stew meat in the fresh beef section. So, I pick it up. Then I go around the place, wondering what I could mix in with it. (I’m not a very experienced chef, one might say. One might.)

Yesterday, I put it all together.

What I came up with is this…

Ingredients:

  • One pound stew meat
  • One pound frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • Three medium Russet potatoes
  • One 12 oz can of beef gravy. (Not shown)

Procedure:

100_4336

  • Put one cup flour in a paper bag with whatever spices you fancy (me – a bit of onion powder and a bit of garlic powder). Separate the pieces of stew meat and drop in the bag. Shake it all up until every piece is coated. There should be very little flour loose in the bag when you are done.

100_4340

  • Pour contents of the bag into a medium frying pan, with olive oil (my preference, for the taste) and cook until the flour turns golden brown.
  • Peel and dice (big chunks) three medium potatoes. (Pix shows five, only used three.)
  • Dump all into crock pot. Add water to cover ingredients. Cook on High for 3-4 hours 100_4337.JPG(depending on the heat of the crock pot – don’t want the potatoes to get mushy.)

Variant – instead of water, use your favorite beer.

Let cool (trust me on this one) serve, and consume.

Postmortem says I could/should have added some more spices, but just what I could have put in?? Everybody’s taste is different.

100_4342.JPG

MORE

About those extra potatoes I peeled: I sliced them to ¼ inch thick slabs, and fried them on the stovetop while waiting for the stew. I sprinkled a light dusting of Lawrey’s Salt on one side, and cooked until tender. They came off with a bit of tan on the edges, and were delicious with a good IPA beer (local brew). [ No pix, I ate them before thinking the sight should be preserved for posterity.]

And that is how I spent my Sunday after Mass.

 

Posted in Food | Tagged | Leave a comment

No Worries, Mate

article-2156928-12E56C90000005DC-184_634x566.jpg

All of the flapdoodle, hooey, bunkum, and hunting of snipe aside, what are we worried about?

Are we concerned about politics?

Relax. No human institution is perfect, and you may safely disregard politicians and preachers who declare the USA to be Divinely Ordained. (Any who insist on thinking thusly are hereby sentenced to reading the entire and unabridged edition of St. Augustine’s The City of God.)

Are you worried about natural disasters? Don’t fret. If the hurricane don’t get ya, the earthquake will, if the earthquake don’t get ya, the cholera must. (And God always has a few “dinosaur-killer” asteroids in reserve.)

Frightened by what’s coming over the Nightly News or your favorite 24/7 Niche Culture channel? TURN THE DAMN THING OFF!!! (And I do not employ the word frivolously. At best the mass media is a collective of nasty-minded gossips. At its usual, it is a semi-organized association of emotional pimps and panderers who make a fine living off other peoples distress.)

REAL problems should be addressed, dealt with, and resolved. Most of what comes over the cable, satellite, or internet is a cocktail of artificially contrived nonsense which is never meant to be finished, because then those cards and letters and donations will cease flooding in.

It’s literally The Big Con.igetit.gif

If you deliberately do without “news” or “edutanment” or “commentary” for a week (all forms, TV, Internet, gossip at the coffee shop), there will surely be withdrawal symptoms. Sweaty palms, nervous tics, an almost irresistible desire to have just one little peek… Congratulations, you are addicted to Media Porn. Lust, envy, greed, drunkenness are relatively minor sins compared to the burden on the soul of an incessant snoop. But if you persevere, there is Light ahead.

You will feel/think/pray better. You will not be constantly under the clouds of malaise, but living in the sunshine.

(A while back, as previously noted, I gave up satellite TV, Facebook, deleted my own political blog, erased my DISQUS account for play in comment boxes, and discarded all (YIKES!) of my political and “news” urls.   Including the ones that are dedicated to political activism under the thin veneer of religion. I feel wonderful!

Not only do I have more time for the Better Things like prayer, reading books, listening to good music, making posts for The Catholic Sun, and watching the desert hares in the field behind my house [What’s Up. Doc?] I am sleeping better at night.)

Here’s the thing. We are not guaranteed a carefree, prosperous life. Other than a few dubious TV preachers, nobody is dumb enough to promote such a blatant lie. As Christians, we are guaranteed dungeon, fire, and sword. As followers of Christ, we are guaranteed the same things Jesus received: scorn, persecution, ridicule, poverty, abandonment, and an ignominious death. Cool!

25038lioneats

Butler’s Lives of the Saints is a good, sobering read. Here

Not only will we not make it out of this world “alive”, neither will any of us live in this world forever.

The world cycles. Things change. The Great Pendulum of History swings back and forth without ceasing. All attempts to speed up its travel or to freeze it at a particular moment of time end in failure and destruction for those who make the attempt. In point of fact, a reading of History is salubrious for illusions of success or permanent devastation.

Pick any hundred year period and see how vain ambition, discontent, anger, and greed wrecked so much, so many lives, and then wonder if today is really so different. The names of those people in the past are unfamiliar, even the major actors. For the most part, their vaunted legacy has been erased, and they and their events are known only to specialists.

the-inferno-canto-32Or, read Dante’s little fantasy about his guided tour of Hell in The Inferno. But be sure to get a good annotated edition so you can identify all those folk. I dare say 99% of us could care less for all the passions of Guelf and Ghibelline in the Florentine Republic. And so it will be with the extreme gnashing of teeth today.

 

 

 

When we make it to the end, if we haven’t allowed ourselves to be distracted by worthless mental junk food, we are guaranteed to share in the Divinity of Christ. (See the prayer said at Mass by the Priest or Deacon while pouring wine from the cruet into the Chalice.)

We have, unfortunately, been lulled into a false sense of entitlement by a century of good weather, a time of peace and progress. We thought Happy Days were not only here again, but would go on forever.

Ozymandias

By  Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias , King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

 

Not to worry.  Every thing of this Earth will be gone someday.  On the time-scale of the Universe, what disturbs you is less than the blink of an eye.

The truly important things, faith, hope, charity, are Eternal.

Here in the second decade of the 21st Century Anno Domini, we are beginning to learn what is ephemeral and what really matters.

Oremus!

 

Posted in Culture | Leave a comment

Got the Blahs? – Repent!

The-Noonday-Devil

I have just finished reading a remarkable book, The Noonday Devil: Acedia, The Unnamed Evil Of Our Times, by Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B., Abbot of Saint-Wandrille. I heartily recommend it to one and all. This is a condensation of a larger formal thesis which has been brought “down to earth” for laypeople and others who are not specialists.

You can get it from the publisher here.

Also from here

It may be a good idea to read it along with another book it constantly references, The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks. Here

OK, so now I have pumped this, what is acedia all about?

Best answer is from “The Neverending Story”, by Morla, the Ancient One.

giphy.gif

In a nutshell, that’s it.

Of course, if a gif were enough to explain, there wouldn’t be any need for a book, now would there?

The English translation was released last year (2015), and I finally got around to reading it during Holy Week. (Dante’s Comedia was my Lenten discipline, so this fit right in.)

I have known the symptoms of acedia, the blahs, restlessness, etc., all my life, in both my self and in others, but never knew what it was called. By accident, I stumbled into a partial “cure” on my own, praying the Liturgy of the Hours without fail, like it or not.

The book has four chapters, the first deals with describing acedia as seen by the Desert Fathers and Mothers, especially one called Evagrius. Chapter Two is an overview of St. Thomas Aquinas’ thought on the subject. Chapter three discusses the relevance of acedia in Christian life, and Chapter Four looks at acedia in the various states of life: religious, priestly, and lay married or single persons.

Among things found are the definition of acedia as “a lack of spiritual energy”. The five principal manifestations of acedia: interior instability, hypochondria, laziness, neglect of the rule (of life), and general discouragement. This is followed by the five remedies for acedia: tears, prayer and work, Scripture, mediation on death, and perseverance. Then follows examples from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers and a wrap-up mentioning John Cassian St. Benedict, and Gregory the Great.

That is in Chapter One. The rest is no less instructive.

A similar book by the esteemed Kathleen Norris (she of A Cloister Walk) came out in 2008, titled Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life. I have not read it, but there are reviews out on the internet for any who might be interested.  You can find the book here.

There are also other articles which might give an introduction to the topic which do not involve laying out good money.  Here, here, here, and here.

Special, the writings of Evagrius are online. Here.

Please Note — I get no points, cash, or credit for recommending a book or providing a link to where one can purchase it.   If I were ever tempted to pick up a reward for shilling a product, I’d close this blog down faster than you could say, “This Way to the Egress.”

 

Below are some of my thoughts while reading this book. They are very prejudiced and full of my own bias. I place them “below the line” so others can safely ignore them.

_________________________________________________________________

 

Personal Notes  — AKA Mad Ramblings:

How much of my ancient problem is simple bipolar depression and how much has been acedia? While I have seized on the idea of acedia, that may be only another level of deception used to cover up something deeper. Or may it be there is a psychological equivalent of acedia? Lastly, even if it is purely psychological (in my case), it seems the prescriptions for spiritual acedia have relevance and efficacy. – They work.

Next, we find this problem of sin versus mental illness (acedia is a sin, bipolar is a mental illness) is interesting. Is laziness a sin? The ancients seemed to believe it was. Is laziness brought on by apathy fueled by bipolar a sin? Moderns tend to think not.

Moderns in general do not appear to believe in Sin (unless one is in opposition to the current fad-of-the-hour) but have substituted psychological analysis for it. (I speak here as one whose undergrad major was Psychology – in the Sixties, before it got messed up.) Have the Moderns really made any progress? To be sure, they all advocate Therapy and cheer for psychotropic drugs, but if the base is still the same, and the patient finds no real improvement?? The cry has gone from “Have Mercy on Me,  a Sinner.” To “It’s not my fault, you can’t blame me, I’m a Victim!”

And as everyone knows, Victims are sacrosanct, beyond reproach and beyond challenge.

Yet, the un-locused guilt of modernity remains. It finds expression in the strangest places. (Augustine famously remarked the human heart is restless until it rests in God, and other have noted that restlessness can throw up some really weird substitutes for God.)

Were the Desert Fathers right? Is this apathy, this ennui, this case of major Blahs a manifestation of the Noonday Devil? For relief, should we not go to therapy or drugs, not to withdraw or plunge into business, but to repentance, top prayer, to persistence in the “dull and boring” routines of our spiritual lives?

Moderns tend to proclaim “mental illness” instead of “sin”, but that became stigmatizing, so they found another approach – victimization. Now, and for a few more years, until the fad collapses, a person is not sick or a sinner, they are a Victim, and are Brave for placing their particular form of insanity on display (to the applause of the legions of twisted hipsters.)

The DSM is constantly being revised, in accordance with popular prejudice and not on grounded research, with every shift in the social winds, so a reliable guide, it ain’t.

This is not to say at all real illnesses are not out there. I have too much direct, personal, and agonizing experience with friends and relatives to think otherwise. There as trauma from abused in childhood. There is trauma from events in adult life (shell shock, they called it a century back.) There is chemical imbalance causing biochemical problems in the brain. But the current epidemic of pill-popping and parading silliness has nothing to do with serious problems either. It is a passing thing, seized upon by those whose self-image is of such fragility they cannot, will not, admit to deliberate wrongdoing.

There’s the rub. Acedia is an evil, like lust or envy or pride. Of itself, it is temptation (albeit a pretty powerful one, which sneaks up on a person without warning.) As a temptation it is not a sin. But yielding to it is. And there is the dividing line.

A person who suffers from what they used to call schizophrenia, who hears voices, is not able to tell the voices to shut up and have them go away. All the will-power in the work will not make the disturbance disappear. It can respond to medication and other ancillary treatments, but it will respond . (Think of John Nash, he of A Beautiful Mind.) The devils of acedia respond to spiritual palliatives. Especially repentance. And prayer. And Scripture. (And Confession, and Mass, and… but you know that drill. The hard part is doing it.)

Posted in Books, Catholicism, Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Is Risen

risen.png

Of course, yesterday, Easter Sunday, being a) a day I try to sty off the Internet, and b) a FEAST day, I am late.

Or am I?

The Octave lasts until next Sunday, and the Season is 50 days.  So.. maybe not.

Having just gone through Lent, with the Stations of the Cross prominent, I found something neat for the Easter Season.

Lent is Good, and it is 40 days.  Easter is Better, and it is 50 days.  (Think about it!)

So, for a devotional to help with the season, here is …

Stations of the Resurrection (Via Lucis)

1. Jesus Rises From the Dead (Matthew 28:1-10)

2. The Finding of the Empty Tomb (John 20:1-10)

3. The Risen Lord Appears to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)

4. Jesus Appears on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-27)

5. Jesus is Known at the Breaking of Bread (Luke 24:28-35)

6. Jesus Appears to His Disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36-43)

7. Jesus Gives the Disciples the Power to Forgive Sins (John 20:19-23)

8. Jesus Strengthens the Faith of Thomas (John 20:24-29)

9. Jesus Appears by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-14)

10. Jesus Tell Peter to Feed His Sheep (Primacy of Peter) (John 21:15-17, 19b)

11. Jesus Commissions the Disciples on the Mountain (Matthew 28:16-20)

12. Jesus Ascends into Heaven (Acts 1:6-12a)

13. Mary and the Disciples Wait in Prayer (Acts 1:12-14)

14. The Holy Spirit Descends at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13)

For more information on the Via Lucis, read this except from the Directory of Popular Piety and the Liturgy published by the Congregation for Doctrine and Worship in 2001:

153: A pious exercise called the Via Lucis has developed and spread to many regions in recent years. Following the model of the Via Crucis, the faithful process while meditating on the various appearances of Jesus – from his Resurrection to his Ascension – in which he showed his glory to the disciples who awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14, 26; 16, 13-15; Lk 24, 49), strengthened their faith, brought to completion his teaching on the Kingdom and more closely defined the sacramental and hierarchical structure of the Church.

Through the Via Lucis, the faithful recall the central event of the faith – the resurrection of Christ – and their discipleship in virtue of Baptism, the paschal sacrament by which they have passed from the darkness of sin to the bright radiance of the light of grace (cf. Col 1, 13; Eph 5, 8).

For centuries the Via Crucis involved the faithful in the first moment of the Easter event, namely the Passion, and helped to fix its most important aspects in their consciousness. Analogously, the Via Lucis, when celebrated in fidelity to the Gospel text, can effectively convey a living understanding to the faithful of the second moment of the Paschal event, namely the Lord’s Resurrection.

The Via Lucis is potentially an excellent pedagogy of the faith, since “per crucem ad lucem” [through the Cross (one comes) to the light]. Using the metaphor of a journey, the Via Lucis moves from the experience of suffering, which in God’s plan is part of life, to the hope of arriving at man’s true end: liberation, joy and peace which are essentially paschal values.

The Via Lucis is a potential stimulus for the restoration of a “culture of life” which is open to the hope and certitude offered by faith, in a society often characterized by a “culture of death”, despair and nihilism.

Some resources to help out are here, here, and here.

There is also this link, but it may or may not work.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Catholicism, Easter | Tagged , , | Leave a comment