Friday, August 08, 2014

Nixon's Resignation--40 Years Ago Today

Forty years ago, August 8, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned. I remember all of us (my parents and some neighbors) sitting in our family room watching the president speak on TV. This was back when we all made sure to watch if the president spoke in prime time because we assumed it was important. There were rumors that he would resign, but we were all still shocked that he did.

This was a big deal to us then. Today, it seems that impeachment is threatened on a fairly regular basis, and, when carried out, nothing much results from it. Nixon was the first and only president to resign from office.

When Watergate first broke, I was in one school, in the state where I was born. By the time Nixon resigned, I was in another school in another state were we had moved. I had grown up. 

Unfortunately, for those of us who don't have a conscious memory of the Kennedy assassination, this was our watershed moment. This was the moment when cynicism was planted and took root.

He had accomplished a lot as president. He warmed up relations with Russia and China and finally managed to get us out of Vietnam  (albeit rather slowly and with much loss of life.)   All the more tragic, then, was his downfall.

I remember my father had ordered a set of books (Time Life, perhaps?) about the U.S. presidents. They were delivered right after Nixon's resignation and had a loose leaf insert stating that he'd resigned. That's where its history ended.

Those of us young enough to be impressionable and old enough to realize what was going on were left with such a denouement that it soured our opinion of authority figures of all kinds for decades to come.

 The '60s were well and truly over.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of BeesThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid is a life-affirming book that is pro-woman without being anti-man. It addresses such issues as abuse, suicide, race and religion without being negative. In fact, it oozes with positive energy as the honey oozes out of the comb. It illustrates the importance of a loving community, especially in tumultuous times such as the American South in the 1960s.

The version of Catholicism that is woven throughout the book is grown organically from an African-American woman who was raised Catholic. While the religion, stories and rituals she practices are far from doctrinally pure, they are entirely believable in the context of the story and serve to bind together the group of women (as well as some men) and add many layers of symbolism to the novel.

This book is one I will keep.

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Friday, August 01, 2014

"The Brain Needs Simplicity and Awe"

This very timely article article from the Freelancer's Union popped up on my Facebook feed and is
a good one to share given the new focus of this blog on balance.

Our brains tune out repetitive information in order to become more efficient.  The problem is, as our days become more habitual with their long commutes and fewer vacations, time seems to speed by faster and faster. This is because our brains are no longer paying attention to the specifics in our days--no longer internalizing what we do.  This results in our days, weeks and months blending into each other in a fast blur of years-long sameness.

Time seems to pass faster because nothing is differentiating one year from the next.

The article mentions 4 things that we can do to help slow down time.  They all boil down to 2: seek out beauty and awe and simplify your life.

Cultivate Beauty and Awe

If we take time to notice the beauty that is all around us, to get away from our desks and computers and spend time with a variety of people, nature, animals, art and music, we will develop a variety of experiences that the mind can hang onto and stop spinning out of control.

Keep it Simple

Doing this may require us to simplify our lives.

More and more people today (the article said 2 in 5 Americans) are choosing to work fewer hours and actually take that vacation. Simplification requires us to cultivate the serenity to know when to say no and when to say yes.

The brains we were created with need us to feed them with a simpler lifestyle filled with beauty and awe. To do this requires us to make sure we keep in touch with the joy that comes from being specifically thankful for the beauty with which God has surrounded us.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

St. Ignatius and Ignatian Spirituality

Happy feast of St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus, aka, the Jesuits, the order from which our dear Pope Francis hails.

Check out the Ignatian Examin on the sidebar. It's a great way to give your day up to God and see his hand in your everyday life.




How Many Rooms Does Your Heart Have?

This post is essentially a re-post from the comment section of Heather King's blog. I got there via Mark Shea's post on Facebook. In her comment, King re-posts an essay from Ron Rolheiser’s book, Forgotten Among the Lilies. It talks about the fact that Catholic means universal, and narrow fundamentalism is the opposite of that.


 "A Heart with One Room."

“Our age is witnessing an erosion of Catholicism. The consequence of this, besides our drab somberness, is a polarization which, both in the world and in the church, is rendering us incapable of working together against the problems which threaten us all.

Let me explain. 

We are, I submit, becoming ever less Catholic. What is implied here? What is slipping?

What does it mean to be Catholic?

The opposite of Catholic is not Protestant. All Christians, Protestants or Roman Catholics, characterize their faith as Catholic – as well as one, holy and apostolic.

The word Catholic means universal, wide. It speaks of a comprehensive embrace. Its opposite, therefore, is narrowness, pettiness, lack of openness, sectarianism, provincialism, factionalism, fundamentalism and ideology.

To my mind, the best definition of the word Catholic comes from Jesus himself, who tells us: “In my Father’s house there are many rooms” (John 14:2).

In speaking of the Father’s house, Jesus is not pointing to a mansion in the sky, but to God’s heart. God’s heart has many rooms. It can embrace everything.

It is wide, unpetty, open and antithetical to all that is factional, fundamentalistic and ideological. It is a heart that does not divide things up according to ours and theirs. Nikos Kazantzakis wrote: “The bosom of God is not a ghetto.” That is another way of saying that God has a Catholic heart.

To affirm this, however, is not to say that, since God is open to all and embraces all, nothing makes any difference; we may do as we like, all morality is relative, all beliefs are equal, and nobody may lay claim to truth.

There is a false concept of openness which affirms that to embrace all means to render all equal.

Jesus belies this.

He affirms the universal embrace of God’s heart without affirming, as a consequence, that everything is OK. His Father loves everyone, even as he discriminates between right and wrong.

Catholicism can be spoken of as slipping, in that, unlike God’s heart, more and more it seems, our hearts have just one room.

Today we are seeing a creeping narrowness and intolerance. Fundamentalism, with its many types of ideology, has infected us. This is as true in the secular world as in the church. Fundamentalism and the narrowness and consequent polarization it spawns are everywhere. But this needs to be understood.

We tend to think of fundamentalism as a conservative view which takes Scripture so literally as to be unable to relate to the world in a realistic way. But that is just one, and a very small, kind of fundamentalism. We see fundamentalism wherever we see a heart with just one room.

The characteristic of all fundamentalism is that, precisely, it seizes onto some fundamental value, for example the wisdom of the past, the divine inspiration of Scripture or the importance of justice and equality, and makes that the sole criterion for judging goodness and authenticity.

In that sense, the fundamentalist’s heart has just one room – a conservative, liberal, biblical, charismatic, feminist, anti-feminist, social justice, anti-abortion or pro-choice room. It judges you as good, acceptable, decent, sincere, Christian, loving and worth listening to only if you are in that room.

If you are not ideologically committed to that fundamental, complete with all the prescribed rhetoric and accepted indignations, then you are judged as insincere or ignorant, and in need of either conversion or of having your consciousness raised.

In the end, all fundamentalism is ideology and all ideology is fundamentalism - and both are a heart with one room, a bosom that is a ghetto.

That is the real un-Catholicism."

Excerpted from “A Heart with One Room,” an essay in Ron Rolheiser’s book, Forgotten Among the Lilies Image Books, 2007).

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Book Review--Franklin and Lucy

Franklin and LucyFranklin and Lucy by Joseph E. Persico
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Franklin and Lucy" by Joseph E. Persico brings together all the currently available information on Franklin Roosevelt's relationship with Lucy Mercer, with whom he had an affair prior to being stricken with polio. It also highlights his relationship with all the other "special" women who surrounded him throughout his life.

I was especially heartened that this author included Anna Roosevelt, FDR's daughter, among the voices he includes. Two of FDR's sons, Elliott and James, have both written books about their famous father, but know of none written by Anna about her parents. Many books gloss over her point of view, but this one does not.

The only thing I would change would be the use of the word "cripple" near the end of the book. While I realize that "cripple" was a term used at the time, the book is not from that time period. The author should have found a more apt description for his conclusion.





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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mickeleh

Do you watch mickeleh on YouTube?  You should.  Michael Markman is an intelligent, retired media guy with a good voice whose references I actually understand.  Recent examples:  "Soilent Green" and  S.E. Hinton's "The Outsiders", which I read in Jr. High.  I remember being shocked when our teacher told us that Hinton was a woman. 

Markman has a well-thought-out point of view on the media and modernity that is borne of experience. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Catholic Mega App

I've got an Android smart phone now and am slowly getting used to what it does and what is available for it.

I ran across a very useful Catholic app called Catholic Mega.  It is on Google Play and has Liturgy of the Hours, Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, an art gallery, a prayer wall and a discussion board. It also has the Catholic bible in various languages, the Catechism, Catholic news resources, Busted Halo and Pray as you go podcasts.

It's all you need in one app.

I asked myself last night why I need an electronic app when Catholics have done without one for centuries.  The answer I came up with is that we are now bombarded with all things electronic and we need to evangelize through the new media.

Check it out!

Dymphna's favorite quotes


"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

my poetry on the web

Karumi Garden

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