Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our Nation, In Numbers: USA Facts

Where does the money come from?

Where does the money go?

What are the results?
Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, has put $10 million of his own money into discovering the answer to these questions about government spending.

The result is USAFacts, a site which has wonderfully easy graphics to help us make sense of where our money goes.

The best part is that they aren't pushing an agenda, except aiding understanding.
We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative and have no political agenda or commercial motive. We provide this information as a free public service and are committed to maintaining and expanding it in the future.

We rely exclusively on publicly available government data sources. We don’t make judgments or prescribe specific policies. Whether government money is spent wisely or not, whether our quality of life is improving or getting worse – that’s for you to decide. We hope to spur serious, reasoned, and informed debate on the purpose and functions of government. Such debate is vital to our democracy.
Spend some time browsing around. It's fascinating and surprising.


Lagniappe: Trying to negotiate with Beethoven...

Trying to negotiate with Beethoven was like trying to take a steak away from a hyena.
Robert Greenberg,
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music

Worth a Thousand Words: “Over a Balcony,” View of the Grand Canal, Venice

“Over a Balcony,” View of the Grand Canal, Venice;
Francis Hopkinson Smith
via Lines and Colors

Monday, May 22, 2017

Well Said: This Stalinist Path of History-Flattening and Monument-Erasure

On the dismantling of monuments, specifically four Confederate monuments in New Orleans:
Most people seem to need this debate to be more simple. Not only Ivy League professors and descendants of Confederate veterans, but also those who should know better. Maybe Americans’ deep-rooted Puritanism drives them to view every person as either glorified or damned.

And so we spiral down this Stalinist path of history-flattening and monument-erasure, one side waving a battle flag that Robert E. Lee himself renounced, the other insisting that every man who wore gray was little different than Leonardo DiCaprio’s caricature in “Django Unchained.” Americans long ago abandoned Lincoln’s admonition—malice toward none, charity for all—and in some important ways the U.S. is less united today than in 1866.

In a world of demons and angels, we can’t agree on who’s which. And we don’t have the charity in our hearts to admit most of us are somewhere in between.
Tony Woodlief, Charity for All? Not in Today’s Debates Over Civil War Memorials
You may read the entire editorial at the Wall Street Journal or at Lux Libertas.

As my husband said, "Tyrants are always the ones who erase history. Now we don't have an individual tyrant. It's been institutionalized."

In my own case, having just finished rereading A Tale of Two Cities, I was put in mind of the mob in the French revolution and Madame Defarge in particular. Not a drop of charity there for anyone.

Worth a Thousand Words: Prelude in C Sharp Minor

Prelude in C Sharp Minor by Edward B. Gordon

Friday, May 19, 2017

Well Said: Our inequalities become openings to love ...

People are equal in one sense only, but it's a decisive sense deeper than any simple equations of worth. ...

Our dignity is rooted in the God who made us. His love, shared in every parent's experience, is infinite and unique for each of us as individual persons - because each son and daughter is unrepeatable. Only God's love guarantees our worth. And therein lies our equality. Nothing else has God's permanence. In him, our inequalities become not cruelties of fate, but openings to love, support, and "complete" each other in his name.
Charles J. Chaput, Strangers in a Strange Land

Worth a Thousand Words: Girl in a red dress reading by a swimming pool

Girl in a red dress reading by a swimming pool (1887). Sir John Lavery (Irish, 1856-1941). 

Hey, I didn't know they had swimming pools in 1887.

Going out of town for a quick getaway to celebrate our anniversary. I won't be as delightfully dressed as the Girl in a Red Dress, but I could see myself lounging and reading while others swim.

My Christopher Closeup Interview Airs Sunday on Sirius-XM and Relevant Radio


I was so honored when Tony Rossi from The Christophers asked to interview me about my new book, Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life.

First of all, because I respect The Christophers so much. Their motto, "It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness," is how I try to live. They've been promoting this mindset for a very long time.

Secondly, because I have so much fun talking to Tony. He is a first-rate interviewer and asks such interesting questions, many of which never would have occurred to me in the first place. And he's read the book — I could tell precisely because of the questions he asked.

We got in some extra talking time so my interview will air in two parts.

Part 1 of the interview will air this Sunday:
  • Sirius-XM’s The Catholic Channel (129) at 6:00 am and 10:30 am (Central time)
  • Relevant Radio network at 3:30 pm (Central time)
Tune in and get the inside scoop on Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life ... and me!

33 Years of Wedded Bliss

We can tell what doesn't work in marriages. So often today people ask, "Who will make me happy?" But what we should ask is, "Who will I love so much that I will sacrifice myself to make them happy?"
Father Roch Kereszty

It's our wedding anniversary today and although our lives have their fair share of challenge at the moment, it has done nothing to our marriage but draw us closer together.

That makes all the years of working out how to best love and serve each other worth it. I'm sure we'll look back on this time and find it has done nothing but add to our deep love and respect for each other.

Dear, even-tempered Tom is truly my soul mate. I'm so very lucky that he loves me as much as I love him. He has taught me so much over the years about music, about thinking, about humor, about originality, about kindness and consideration. Not because he actively taught me but just by being around him. That in itself tells you a lot about the sort of person Tom is.

It's wonderful having spent 33 years with someone. You know each other's references (jokes become real one-liners), you understand each other's moods, and it is a deep, restful relationship that is not without delightful times of surprise and passion.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff by Remo Savisaar

Well Said: Our battle-flag

The battle-flag is always placed among warriors, as a sign to which they look during the hardest fighting of the battle. We are continuously at war with the princes of darkness ... If anyone is troubled, vanquished, and overcome, let him look to the Lord hanging on the gibbet of the cross.
St. Thomas of Villanova
Amen.

Genesis Notes: Isaac, the Bridge Between Generations

GENESIS 25 & 26
Other than nearly being sacrificed by his father, Isaac's life seems pretty boring. He can't keep his sons straight, has trouble controlling "bad boy" Jacob, and generally doesn't seem as if we can learn too much from him. Wrong, as Catholic Scripture Study showed me. I fell into that same old trap of thinking that there is only a lesson if something is interesting. But God doesn't work that way.

"And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.(KJV);
  illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible
The life of Isaac seems insignificant next to the careers of his father Abraham and his son Jacob. There are few chapters of Scripture devoted to Isaac, and most of his story is entwined with the story of the other Patriarchs. Even the Catechism moves from "God chooses Abraham" (59-61) to "God forms his people Israel" (62-64) without mentioning Isaac by name. Yet he is a Patriarch, his name forever included when Israelites call on the name of God, the father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Isaac's main role seems to be one of a bridge between Abraham, father of those who believe, and Jacob, father of Israel. Isaac safeguards and transmits the promise through his own faithful obedience. He embodies the continuity of God's promise, the link through whom it passes from generation to generation. But there is more significance to him than that:
  1. Isaac waits for God's promise, as indeed do all of the Patriarchs. Those 20 years spent praying for a son not only helped form Isaac in faith, they became an example for Israel as it waited for God's promised Messiah. As it is pointed out in Dei Verbum, "through the patriarchs...[God] taught this nation to acknowledge Himself as the one living and true God,...and to wait for the Savior promised by Him. In this manner He prepared the way for the gospel down through the centuries (DV3)."
  2. Isaac is also the fruit, the evidence of God's promise. He is the impossible child, born of two people well past the age of childbearing. His name means "laughter," and his name is a perpetual reminder that God promises the impossible and keeps His promises.
  3. And as the obedient son of the promise, Isaac prefigures Jesus Christ, the promised Son of God. He walked willingly and obediently up the hill to be sacrificed, even as Christ would so many years later. His life is a living testimony to "the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were (Rom. 4:17)." He is the loving son and father and husband, the obedient son through whom God pours His blessing on a nation and on the world.
All quotes from Genesis, Part II: God and His Family. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Tuna Assortment

Source

Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes

Not yo mama's regular fish cakes ... these have a definite Asian style. Get them at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

Well Said: Sacred Idleness

Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.
George MacDonald
We don't really know how to react to such a statement in our rushed, busy world. That in itself is probably a sign that we need to practice sacred idleness. Otherwise, when do we even have time to listen, to hear?

Julie finds Marvin amusing, which depresses him even more. Scott begins working on a Jupiter-sized computer to replace the Earth.


Grab your towels and join us for Episode 158 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast where we discuss The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Nerds, Start Your Engines: Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Firefly - and Boethius

Initial depicting Boethius teaching his students from folio of a manuscript of the Consolation of Philosophy (Italy?, 1385)

I never heard of The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius until a couple of years ago when a friend mentioned, somewhat diffidently, that she was reading it. She said just enough to intrigue me and the book looked intriguingly short. It went onto my mental "read someday" list and that was as far as I got.

Until now. Corey Olsen's first Mythgard Academy class on The Consolation of Philosophy hit my iTunes feed. I've mentioned the Mythgard classes before, especially those to do with the Lord of the Rings and Dracula. They are really excellent and they are free.

As it turns out The Consolation of Philosophy is not only one of the most influential books through Middle Ages and Renaissance, but strongly influenced J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Not to mention that the ideas continue to filter through pop culture and can pop up in such unlikely places as Firefly.

You're not likely to find a better guide or an easier way to learn about this classic work.

Read more about the book and class at Mythgard Academy.

Here's where you can find the podcast at iTunes.

Worth a Thousand Words: Self-portrait with two pupils

Self-portrait with two pupils, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, 1785.

Well Said: Messengers of God

Malachim, or messengers. Christianity has defined these messengers as what we know as angels. The more ancient interpretation in Judaism is that the malachim could be anything. They could be heavenly spirits. Or not. They could come in the form of ordinary people, donkeys, a flame, or even a breeze.
Stephen Tobolowsky, My Adventures with God