Friday, October 31, 2008

That Was Unexpected

Lying in bed, usually I hear the strains of classical music broken up with traffic reports and a bit of "top headlines."

Didn't expect to hear that I'd slept through a 2.5 magnitude earthquake ...

C'mon, Lighten Up ...

I was startled to run into a usually eminently sensible Catholic this morning who barely held back from a rant about Halloween. He said that if kids dressed up as saints then he had no objection. Otherwise he had no use for Halloween.

Talk about sucking all the fun out of the holiday! That feeling is akin in my mind to Richard Dawkins' lamentably literal condemnation of Harry Potter because it is an "anti-scientific" fairy tale.

What is it about Americans that makes us unrelentingly hew to such Puritanical lengths? (Yes I realize Dawkins is English but his extreme zeal makes him a prime candidate to immigrate ... and, remember, those Puritans originally came from England.)

I recommend to all those similarly minded that they seek out Ray Bradbury's short story Usher II from The Martian Chronicles.

In the meantime, they can go read Darwin's Short Halloween Rant instead.
I don't have anything against the idea of having a saints themed costume party on All Saints Day -- there's no real tradition behind it, but it's not a bad idea. However, All Saints Day is Nov. 1st, not Oct. 31st. And I'm not really sure why we as Catholics should feel the need to counter-program against Halloween parties. Certain Protestant groups, certainly, are convinced that all that surrounds Halloween is evil superstition, but there's no reason for Catholics to go off the deep end about this stuff.
Others on record in supporting Halloween can be found here:
  • Aliens in This World who pulls in G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown in support

  • Simcha ... But I'll tell you the thing I really enjoy about Halloween: at least it's not a religious holiday -- I mean, Halloween as a boo, eek, Kit-kat and Smartees, oh-how-cute day, setting aside saint and souls and praying and such, which is a different day.

  • Last but certainly not least, The Anchoress...
    I was excitedly discussing our Halloween plans at a meeting one night, when this woman told me I was being used as a tool for the devil “to make evil ordinary.”

    I told her that evil is made ordinary every single day on television and in movies and in how we treat each other, and that my gleeful Halloween antics had less to do with making “evil ordinary” than in proving that externals are mostly powerless over us, except as our own minds and souls perceive them. I said, “mock the devil he will flee from thee…”
For those wanting true tradition, I recommend Recta Ratio. You won't find a better source anywhere for history about all things of the faith, including Halloween!

Worth a Thousand Words

Geese Flying Across the Moon taken by Remo Savisaar

Word of the Day: Irenic

irenic
Main Entry:
Pronunciation:
\ī-ˈre-nik, -ˈrē-\
Function:
adjective
Etymology:
Greek eirēnikos, from eirēnē peace
Date:
circa 1864
: favoring, conducive to, or operating toward peace, moderation, or conciliation
I actually had to go look this up as it was entirely new to me. I came across it in TS's comment:
... Christian unity is personal for me, having a non-Catholic wife, but the better reason to care about Christian unity is for Christ's sake. The irenic Julie Davis puts it beautifully in her review ...
He never says the name of the book but he's talking about my review of The Shack, which I generally liked but which one must read critically. Thank you for the new word and (I think) the self-definition.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Countdown: Savage Chickens

It's Halloween Week at Savage Chickens ... and there's a contest ... with prizes!

Looking Both Ways


You Know You're a Republican If ...
You think public education is broken and doesn't deserve more money,
and you send your children to an expensive private school.

You Know You're a Democrat If ...
You think public education is the backbone of America, it just needs more money,
and you send your children to an expensive private school.

Worth a Thousand Words

Coming and Going by Barcelona Photoblog

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No Comments? No Reason ...

Haloscan suddenly isn't working for the comments boxes, although the Haloscan Support Team tells me that "everything looks fine to us."

The emails I'm receiving beg to differ.

I'm trying to work through it as I prefer Haloscan to Blogger's comments. However, if it continues for too long, I'll switch to Blogger.

Right at the moment I don't have time to fiddle with anything ... that busy, busy work thing.

Thanks for your understanding ... and I MISS YOUR COMMENTS!

Do You Trust Your Father With Your Life?

Now there's an interesting question.

It is even more interesting in the context given by the Internet Monk as it arose in a classroom discussion. Very thought provoking.

I'd give you a snippet but I want it to unfold for you the way it did for me when I was reading it. Just go read it.

This has given me much food for thought, especially taken together with a discussion at last night's scripture study about how Americans' individual independence makes it so difficult for us to understand the strength of the "clan" in both Old and New Testament times. In fact, this very independence which we nurture and cherish is what makes it difficult to understand the concept that my sin hurts the whole body of Christ, just as my virtue enriches it.

Halloween Countdown: Costumes

Mental Floss Blog ( the only blog that has ever moved me to subscribe to a magazine, by the way), has 10 Epic Costumes.

Though, to be honest, my favorite costumes are those such as we see at The Anchoress where she has a defense of Halloween with plenty of adorable costume pics.

A LIttle Useless Information

It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information. -- Oscar Wilde
WEREWOLF • In Old English, this word actually translates literally into its meaning. The prefix wer- in Old English meant "man," with the compound form, werewulf meaning "man-wolf." Wer itself derives from the Latin form vir, where it also means "man," from which we also get the English word "virile."
The Word Origin Calendar

Worth a Thousand Words

California Flower Fields by Belinda Del Pesco

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thank You

Much thanks to everyone who has so kindly commented or emailed about Daffy's death. I hadn't planned on dragging everyone with me along through that sad event but the more I reflected on those words flashing into my mind, the more that I felt perhaps I should share it.

I actually do feel very calm and peaceful about the whole thing which I attribute to the many prayers that have been said for me and for our family. Which is amazing in itself when I think of how many people have been so kind over our dog's death.

Some people, who know us more personally, have been asking about Pepper's reactions. He is our gentle giant, a black lab-Great Dane mix of 115 pounds who is sweet, self-effacing, and terrified of our cat (which tells you something). Pepper doesn't seem to have noticed a thing, unless we are doing something that used to be a "group activity" such as when Tom takes the dogs along on the way to put the trash out and Pepper checks down the hall to see if Daffy is going to come barreling along at a breakneck speed.

On the contrary, it is interesting to watch his personality bloom a bit. Daffy was not a bully but she was always "on" and we wonder if that may not have been overpowering for Pepper. He is suddenly lying in main traffic areas, bringing in all his bones from the backyard "bone yard" and leaving them around, and when I took him for a walk this morning he went at a relaxed pace and didn't pull my arm off as usual.

We were talking about getting a new puppy fairly soon (or puppies ... we think it would be fun to have two Boxers to play with each other and while training one, we might as well train two, right?). However, now we think that we will put it off until the spring to let Pepper continue being an "only dog" for a little while and perhaps to gain some more confidence as "the" dog of the house.

Again, thank you for your many kind wishes, condolences, and prayers. I am truly touched.

Halloween Countdown: Trick or Treat

There is actually a blog devoted to candy corn called Sweet Candy Corn. Recipes for such things as vegan candy corn or candy corn sugar cookies abound. (Via Miss Cellania)

Then turn your attention to this horror story of sorts, especially if you are politically correct about children and sugar (I never saw that much difference in children without sugar and children with...). Candyfreak author, Steve Almond, talks about candy in his new homelife as a father. Here's a nibble before you go read it all. (Thanks to Deb for this one!)
... I had already eaten two of these transcendent morsels and was in a state I would describe as choco-euphoria. Life seemed wonderful, beautiful and without fault, and, as I picked up a third piece, I noticed my daughter gazing intently at me and the chocolate. It occurred to me that she might want a taste, and that I should offer her one. Yes, that was what I needed to do. After all, Josie was eventually going to get her first taste of chocolate. Why not share that joy with her?

I suppose I should mention that Josie was not quite 3 months old.

Jesus in My Mind's Eye

The following story is true.

And I just want you to see how much I trust y'all to even go public with it!


For the last few weeks I've been changing up my prayer habits. Trying to get more in touch while avoiding distractions, I've been taking 20 minute walks each morning. Out in the early morning light with nature all around it is easier to keep my mind on connecting with God. Notice that I said, "easier" not "easy." My mind can provide all the distractions to mess up 20 minutes without being in the house as I have found out.

Some of the time I will say the rosary but this is preceded by my attempts to get into a more personal relationship with Jesus. I will imagine that he's walking beside me and then, somehow, it is easier to just simply tell him what is bothering me, what I hope for, and then to try to listen.

That all backfired in a way last week. It was the first true cold snap of the season. I was wearing sweat pants and a jacket. In my mind's eye, Jesus strolled alongside. I was thinking over how my image of Jesus matched all those traditional pictures of the long dark hair and beard, the brown robe. Shaking my head, thinking, "well, at least I realize I'm doing it."

Suddenly, I was completely caught off guard when "mind's eye Jesus" took the initiative.

"I suppose I have you to thank for this?" he said, laying a hand on the collar of a white t-shirt showing under the neck of his robe. "Keeping me warm?"

I snickered. I hadn't seen that in my "mind's eye" but was colder than I'd think a robe could handle.

"And these," he continued, sticking out a sandal shod foot from beneath the robe. Uncharacteristically, the sandal was on over a white tube sock, "are so my feet don't get cold?"

I couldn't help it. I howled with laughter. So glad that none of the other early walkers were around at that moment.

Ok, so maybe not so much time should be spent on the visualization as on the communication.

On the other hand, those are true moments of connection even if it isn't what I would have thought of communicating about!

Worth a Thousand Words

... Huebscher Laden ...
Originally uploaded by Juergen Kurlvink and found in Flickr's Door Pool.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"There. Now you can breathe."

Spoken in a low, gentle tone, with her hand resting on Daffy's side, those kind words came from Dr. Dixon who put our boxer to sleep.

Daffy had cancer and, as one of the vet techs told me, was "a miracle dog." Not only at her advanced age had she survived a spleenectomy for about two and a half months, but she was putting up a dogged fight against the cancer the necessitated the operation in the first place. We always knew she was spirited and lively and the "alpha" dog in our household, but not that she had such sheer determination.

For the last few days I fed her banana bread by hand, just thanking my lucky stars that I had uncharacteristically made three loaves of it last weekend. We kept waiting for her to have a day that didn't have those bright spots of her wanting to go get the paper with Tom or barking at the mailman (and everyone with the temerity to walk on "our" sidewalk) or the many other little things that put the fun and purpose into a dog's day.

Finally, the tumors spread to her lungs and it took most of her strength to breathe. I took her to the vet on Saturday and sat on the floor with her head in my lap. Lying down made it hardest to breathe but she didn't have the strength to sit up for very long, so on the floor we were. Of course, I was crying. (I made it to the car before breaking down into whole-hearted sobbing.)

Watching her struggle for breath suddenly cease and hearing those gentle words from the vet ... that stuck with me all day. I would recall those words and suddenly miss Daffy and cry while simultaneously being glad that she wasn't struggling to breathe any more.

Tom had taken his mother to a reunion near Houston so I was alone all day. That was fine. I did my errands, albeit sometimes with reddened eyes which clerks kindly saw and ignored. I wandered the house, doing laundry, making spaghetti sauce.

As I was walking through the living room, suddenly thinking again of Daffy and mentally telling her, "I miss you" something startling happened. I am just going to tell you and then you can think whatever you want about it. All I can tell you is that I was astonished.

Like a bullet or a speeding boxer, into my mind simply and without emotion shot the thought, "i'm happy, mom."

Now it is those words that come to my mind. They make me cry some, but I am happy too.

Worth a Thousand Words

Halloween Countdown: Zombies, Zombies Everywhere ...

... and not a brain in sight!

I realize that Halloween has snuck up on me and is coming up soon. To help get us in the mood, here are a movie and a book that are favorites of ours.

I've never been a real zombie fan. Too much blood and guts everywhere (literally). However, these two examples are too good to pass up.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD
Shaun and his best friend are a couple of slackers. A good evening is one that ends at the pub and every evening ends at the pub. Shaun's girlfriend is less than pleased with this lack of initiative, especially after celebrating their third anniversary ... at the pub. She breaks up with Shaun who is so distraught that he doesn't notice all there is a zombie epidemic all around them. This leads to some hilarious scenes, such as when Shaun and his friend first encounter zombies and think they are drunks. Shaun takes the lead in rescuing his mum and ex-girlfriend to take them to the safest place he can think of ... the pub. I was anxious to see this from the first moment I heard the premise, yet put it off for fear of the "R" rating (for zombie violence ... yes, that's actually what it says). There is plenty of warning for any such scenes and much of it is so fake that it doesn't matter. The directors are really good at combining our awareness that this is a zombie movie with Shaun's general cluelessness to provide many very funny jump scenes as well. HC rating: nine thumbs up!

WORLD WAR Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
This is a very clever premise that provides much food for thought about how individuals and governments respond to unexpected emergencies ... or fail to respond. In this "future history" a reporter travels the world to interview key individuals who fought in the zombie wars after a virus surfaces that sweeps over populations in an epidemic, leaving huge numbers of zombies roaming the earth. Brooks uses this vehicle not only to tell an excellent story but to skewer both governmental policies and lambast the powerful who take advantage of any situation for their own gain. This is a real page turner that resulted in many late nights as I watched civilization collapse and wondered what was found that allowed victory over the zombie hordes. HC rating: nine thumbs up!

Daybook

What I'm Watching
Sahara. We finished Sahara with Michael Palin. I think other than the sheer foreignness of all those places what fascinated us most was that practically everyone he came across spoke passable French or English or both. We were, of course, keeping in mind that most of these people had been vetted ahead of time to be guides or interviews. However, it was still quite impressive.

Arrested Development. Finishing up the last seaso. Except for the seemingly random use of Tobias whose character the writers seem not to have known what to do with anymore, it is still so funny how they can weave such nonsensical elements into a cohesive whole that packs a hilarious punch in each episode.

Life on Mars. Is anyone else watching this? I haven't seen the British original, not having cable, but am enjoying this American adaptation. So far with three episodes down it is interesting not only in the mystery of the main character's "time travel" but in the contrast between 1973 and now ... though I do find the emphasis on constant police brutality a trifle wearing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy Catholic ... It's Bubbly, It's Lively, It's Canned!

Wait a minute ... that didn't sound right at all!




Aren't these fun?

Scott made them for me here.
Thanks Scott for one more way to waste spend my time!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ah yes, the Reformation ... she continues apace


I have to admit that when I heard about the formation of Catholics for Change as a protest against the DFW Bishops' statement being read from the pulpit ... I laughed ... out loud.

It's been done, folks. And much more effectively than we're hearing about in the piece linked to above from the Dallas Observer. Y'all might want to check Father Powell's list to see how far you're going to get with this little protest.

Looking Both Ways


You Know You're a Republican If ...
Your idea of "compassionate conservatism"
means giving your employees praise instead of a raise.

You Know You're a Democrat If ...
Your idea of "liberalism"
means using other people's money liberally for the causes you support.

Question: Catholic Food Theology

Since you are a prolific writer on all things Catholic and Food, my wife and I figure you were the right person to ask for sources of Catholic teaching about food. Let me explain:

The Catechism doesn't tell us to what extent should we investigate and/or avoid eating animals that have been mistreated, and what constitutes mistreatment. By way of illustration, California is voting on a proposition this year that requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely.

That SEEMS like a reasonable proposal. However, since we know that animals are God's creation but do not have souls, to what extent do we have to be concerned about the economic (making food more expensive for the poor, etc) and practical impact such a decision? Conversely, is this an issue of right and wrong, where such considerations are entirely beside the point? I'm sure you get the point. Do you have any links or ideas?
My immediate thoughts would be that the proposal is simply requiring humane treatment. As for the economic impact on the poor, it seems to me that what with legumes, nuts, and other relatively inexpensive sources of protein, that this is not something that needs to be a concern.

My purely human thought on it, religion aside, is that if we can't afford to treat our animals humanely then perhaps we need to rethink what we eat no matter what our economic status. People didn't used to have meat except during feasts. We can live without it and have done for many centuries until recently. Certainly we can use it more as a flavoring such as is found in much of Asian cooking.

Let me hasten to add that I, personally, am no vegetarian. In fact, I enjoy meat quite a bit, so much so that I struggle to include a couple of meatless meals each week for health as well as economic reasons. However, I am willing to eat less of it and pay a little more for what we do buy so that an animal may be able to stand, sit or lie in comfort. Those requirements are not unreasonable for any living creature. I find it very sad that there is a necessity for that bill at all.

None of this comes from Catholic teachings and if anyone wants to chime in on that aspect, please feel free to do so.

For Undecided Voters: Just the Facts Vidcast

FactCheck.org is a place I've heard referred to often but never visited. Via iTunes I found their vidcast and promptly downloaded a sample (I listen and that's sufficient with this particular vidcast).

I was delighted to find that in 5 minutes they had debunked four of each candidate's so-called "hard facts" appearing in speeches and ads ... and threw in enough of the actual truth to help sort out what is going on with various issues. They also have followed up each of the debates with a fact check edition. This is a resource that is valuable not only to the undecided but to any of us who might be steadfastly swearing that our choice never shades the truth (is there anyone out there naive enough to truly believe that?). It is nice to know just what is true and what isn't.

Worth a Thousand Words

Three Jota Singers from Aragon, Spain taken by Barcelona Photoblog

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Justin's Answers ...

In case people haven't swung by there yet, Justin Catanoso, author of My Cousin the Saint, fought free of the things keeping him from the comments boxes.

You can read his thoughtful and interesting answers here!

Thanks again, Justin!

One More Reason I Like Good News Film Reviews

Scott cracks me up! It just don't get any better than those short reviews ...

The Jacket (2005)

Should I see it?
No.


Short Review:
This is a time-travel movie. After watching it, I wanted to travel back in time to when I decided to rent it and kick myself in the shins.
[...]
Plus the rest of what he writes is good too ... even if I quite often don't agree on his opinions about which movies to watch.

It's All Downhill From Here ...

A little humor to help us over Wednesday ... from the hilarious Savage Chickens.

Worth a Thousand Words

On a Mountain Stream from the talented DL Ennis at Visual Thoughts

A Little Useless Information

It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information. -- Oscar Wilde
CRIME • In Latin, this word's background began as the verb cernere, "to decide." Over time, a more specialized form arose, also in Latin, the noun crimen, meaning "a judgment," or "an accusation." Appearing in Middle English, its first uses were more in the sense of wickedness than illegal behavior. The first use in the modern sense dates to the 1600s.
The Word Origin Calendar

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Congratulations Irma!

In our out-of-the-hat (actually out-of-the-bowl) drawing, the winner of "My Cousin the Saint" book giveaway is Irma!

This is a double pleasure because I actually know Irma ... you know, in person, face-to-face, in the real world!

What I do not know, however, is your address, Irma ... send it to me so we can get that book headed your way!

Welcome Justin Catanoso: Blog Tour for "My Cousin the Saint"

I am very happy to welcome Justin Catanoso to Happy Catholic. Y'all may remember my review of My Cousin the Saint which I really loved.

I asked Justin a variety of questions, mostly revolving around his search for faith, how he feels about miracles, and the trouble that Americans have with faith because of their stubborn pragmatism. He wrote this piece just for us in response.
I am very happy to offer this guest post today. I am also grateful for the review of My Cousin the Saint that was posted here on October 17. Not only because the reviewer enjoyed the book (always a plus for the writer!), but also because of the obvious care and precision that went into writing it. Thank you.

So let's jump into the deep end here. I've had the opportunity to talk with a variety of groups over the last several months about my book, and invariably, someone asks: do you believe in miracles? Several years ago before I began the process of learning just who this canonized cousin of mine truly was, before I returned to church in an attempt to ignite the Catholic faith I was born into I would have said, "No, I don't think so." I would have answered the question that way because I had never given it much thought.

But I've thought a lot about miracles over the last several years. I interviewed Vatican priests in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints about the church's definition of miracles and just what it takes to declare one. I listened to story after story from my Italian relatives, whose belief in St. Gaetano is deep and unrelenting, who are certain he has blessed them, and answered prayers. I spent a morning with an extraordinary peasant woman in a remote Calabrian village who was the recipient of the miracle that led to St. Gaetano's canonization on Oct. 23, 2005. In all these cases, I have been moved and fascinated by the depths of faith and the belief in the supernatural that I have witnessed. Please keep in mind: I am a newspaper journalist. I am skeptical by profession. I am not easily persuaded. Yet with each conversation, with each moment of reflection on what I was hearing, I found myself letting go, ever so slightly, of my ever-present doubts.

But not entirely. In Part II of my book, I write about my older brother Alan who was stricken with inoperable cancer in 2004. For months, my mother, and my brother, prayed for a miracle from our family saint. It was really Alan's only hope. When he died, I was left with the thought that those prayers went unheard, and that having a saint in the family was of little tangible value when we needed him the most.

I see that response now as formed mostly through grief. I have come to believe that the cause-and-effect notion of prayer-and-miracles is too rigid. A certain rigidity might be necessary for the Vatican when determining who among us gets to be recognized in the communion of saints, but it excludes a host of remarkable, joyous, momentous and comforting things that happen in our lives that are simply inexplicable. As a journalist, I ask questions and expect answers. But I am coming to see that faith simply doesn't work that way. Faith is hard. Faith is frustrating. Faith defies answers. So, too, do miracles.

A couple of summers ago, I asked an Italian doctor if he believed in miracles. He had given a patient of his up for dead after she lapsed into a coma with a particularly deadly case of bacterial meningitis. His professional training told him he was making the right decision. But the woman recovered, there was no medical explanation, and her healing was deemed a miracle by the Vatican. The doctor's answer to my question?

"Miracles are simply incredible, and the fact that they are incredible make them impossible to rationalize," he told me. "There is a line that is incredible and unexplainable, and when you cross it, there is nothing else left but faith." Regarding his patient, when she left the hospital as healthy as if she had never been sick, his faith provided him with the answer to how she was cured: it was a miracle.

I have since grown to admire that kind of faith, not sneer at it, or try to undermine it with my pragmatism and journalistic instincts. For a long-lapsed Catholic and professional skeptic, that's progress. Sometimes I even manage to think that some things that happen in my life (like the continued love of my wife of 24 years, like the sheer pleasure we derive from being parents of three extraordinary daughters, like getting the opportunity to introduce America to a little-known Italian saint!) might actually be genuine blessings from above.

Yet if I still can't quite bring myself to say I believe in miracles, I don't have any doubts about this: a departed Italian priest, a lovely and loving man who occupies an honored place in heaven as well as in my own family tree, has led me to an incredible extended family in Italy and brought me closer than I ever thought I'd come to genuine faith and all that it entails. That's not a miracle. It's simply the truth
Please feel free to consider this subject or anything else you want to ask Justin, in the comments box below.

We'll have an autographed copy of the book to raffle for those who comment so don't be shy! Speak up!



UPDATE
Justin got tied up today and can't drop in to answer questions as originally planned. However, he'll have them up in a day or two at his blog ... and I will have a link as soon as he does that!

In the meantime keep the questions coming. I'm not putting off the book giveaway for one thing, and that way you are sure he'll see your questions!

Worth a Thousand Words

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Do You Believe? Reviewing "My Cousin the Saint"

"Tell me about the miracles," Danny asked, bursting into an eager smile. "What miracles did your cousin perform?"

All right, I can do that. It's just another couple of stories. I started in on them as matter-of-factly as recounting the details of a ball game. Danny was looking at me funny again, like I was missing the point of what I was actually saying.

He leaned in over the table. "Do you believe, Justin?"

Believe in miracles? Me? Am I supposed to? I honestly had never thought of that and told him so.

"Well, I believe," Danny said with an urgency that struck me as entirely genuine. "Goodness, Justin. He's your cousin. You've got to believe!"
Justin Catanoso's discovery that he is actually related to an honest-to-goodness, canonized Catholic saint begins a journey that takes him not only to a discovery of family and heritage, but also on the exploration of a faith that had long fallen by the wayside.

In some ways, Catanoso's story is the dream of every American whose family lost their roots when they came to this country. He receives an email one day from a woman who wonders if they might be related. It turns out that the American branch of the family has long been missing a deep heritage rooted in the Italian countryside. As well, Catanoso discovers that his grandfather's cousin, Padre Gaetano Catanoso, is being considered for canonization. This unbelievable news, prompts a family visit to Italy where they are lovingly embraced by their newly found relatives and where they begin hearing stories about "the saint."
... Don Guiseppe Agostino, a young priest who was supposed to accompany the archbishop that day, received that startling news [that the archbishop had been killed]. Not knowing what else to do, he woke Padre Gaetano, who also lived at the seminary. Noticing Don Agostino's agitation, the older priest responded, "Remain calm. Everything is a mystery. In domino."

Together, they went out on foot to inform Monsignor Montalbetti's mother.

"It is late and you have not retired for the night," said the mother, Carolina Portman, answering her door. "Has something happened?"

Rather than explain, Padre Gaetano bowed his head and said barely above a whisper, "In domino." Clutching her hands to her heart, the woman understood at once. "God is passing through my life," she moaned and invited the priests inside her home. There, in a small chapel, she fell to her knees and, with anguished cries, prayed for nearly an hour. To the young priest with him, Padre Gaetano urged, "Remain still. Don't move. Adore God in this moment and take example from this great mother."

"At times he seemed naive," Don Agostino recalled later, "but instead he had a shrewd depth. So it could be understood that his was a suffered peace, a word matured in silence, a smile born of real passion."

Returning to the seminary in the middle of the night, the two priests roused the others to meet in the chapel, where Padre Gaetano led them in prayer. "He had such a presence," Don Agostino recalled. "That evening remained with me as a vital lesson on the meaning of faith."
Catanoso tells the parallel stories of his immigrant grandfather and his saintly cousin vividly and honestly. In so doing, he skillfully pulls us into the uniquely American immigrant experience of his grandfather finding his vocation as an Italian grocer in New Jersey. We see Padre Gaetano tirelessly work to improve Italian peasant life at a time when it often meant a brutish existence of ignorance and want simply because there were no other options. As Catanoso's Uncle Tony fought in World War II he wound up in Italy and that portion of the American experience is also conveyed skillfully while weaving in Tony's AWOL search for family roots.

This would be enough for most memoirs but it is merely a portion of Catanoso's story. The discovery of extended family and his saintly relative comes at a crucial time for his family as his brother, Alan, begins waging a grim fight against cancer. The many devout Catanosos begin praying to "Uncle Gaetano" for a miracle. We become just as engrossed in the fight for Alan's health. Will a miracle save him?

It is at this point that Justin Catanoso begins grappling with his faith. Raised Catholic, he had fallen away from his faith and did not know what to believe any more. Again, in many ways this parallels many Americans' struggles with faith and with the Catholic Church in particular. What are miracles? What does it mean to be a saint? What does it mean to be related to a saint, if anything? A typically pragmatic and independently minded American, Catanoso honestly recounts his struggles, questions, and doubts. In the process, he interviews Vatican officials, recipients of Padre Gaetano's miracles, believers, and skeptics. As Catanoso uncovers facts and explanations, will he be able to find for himself a real and lasting faith?
"For many people, there comes a time when you just start asking fewer questions because you accept that there are now answers to be had; you have to trust," Father Louie explained. "You search and you search until ultimately, you have to say: 'I believe.' I don't know if that's going to happen to you. You're a pragmatist. You're a rationalist. You're very American. That doesn't mean you're doomed. You have to be true to yourself. You have to be honest. But basically, it all comes down to one thing: Faith is a gift. Are you accepting the gift?"
We become equally engrossed in the search to discover just what a saint shows us as believers. Catanoso's quest becomes ours and, if we are honest, we must contemplate our own faith, belief, and the reality that we are all called to be saints.

On a side note, I found it quite interesting that he got a certain measure of reassurance about the Church from reading "Why I am Catholic" by Garry Wills, since that is a book that many faithful Catholics including myself would avoid due to Wills' criticism of certain tenents of the faith. It is a good lesson that an honest and tenacious seeker can ferret out the information they need in many more places than we could predict.

This is an absolutely fantastic book by a talented, honest, and compelling writer. It is going to be on my list of top books of 2008. Highly recommended.

Looking Both Ways


You Know You're a Republican If ...
You plan to become a generous philanthropist.

You Know You're a Democrat If ...
You plan to help out at the local soup kitchen one of these days.

Worth a Thousand Words

Woman aircraft worker, June 1942. From The Library of Congress on Flickr

Christians, Slavery, and Abortion

I recently was in a scripture study class where unexpectedly the talk turned to abortion. We all were Catholics but soon I was face to face for the first time with people who were proclaiming their personal horror of abortion while simultaneously justifying their decisions to vote for a candidate on record as the most liberal, bar none, in voting for abortion. One of these was employing the usual knee-jerk argument although I think that she believed it sincerely, she just never had actually looked into the facts of the matter. A couple of others, who I like very much, were more thoughtful and clearly had put a great deal of thought into this matter. Nevertheless, their decision was more about themselves and their feelings than it was about the facts of the matter.

This was rather disheartening and also rather mystifying.

I then proceeded to read George Wiegel's Newsweek article, Pro-Life Catholics for Obama: Should abortion be the litmus test for political support?. I was cheered to see that it appeared in a national publication.

Reading Robert George's Obama's Abortion Extremism I was plunged into a deep gloom upon encountering the unyielding facts about just how strongly opposed to life Obama is. I knew about his extreme opposition to legislation protecting infants born alive after partial birth abortion. I thought that was bad ... until I read the article.

However, something in that article tickled my memory. It was George's contextual use of slavery to bring the abortion arguments into clearer focus.
The defect in this argument can easily be brought into focus if we shift to the moral question that vexed an earlier generation of Americans: slavery. Many people at the time of the American founding would have preferred a world without slavery but nonetheless opposed abolition. Such people - Thomas Jefferson was one - reasoned that, given the world as it was, with slavery woven into the fabric of society just as it had often been throughout history, the economic consequences of abolition for society as a whole and for owners of plantations and other businesses that relied on slave labor would be dire. Many people who argued in this way were not monsters but honest and sincere, albeit profoundly mistaken. Some (though not Jefferson) showed their personal opposition to slavery by declining to own slaves themselves or freeing slaves whom they had purchased or inherited. They certainly didn't think anyone should be forced to own slaves. Still, they maintained that slavery should remain a legally permitted option and be given constitutional protection.
I was reminded of the 2004 election when that comparison was made clear to me for the first time. I am reposting it below. Alas some of the links no longer work as those bloggers have gone on to other pursuits. Aren't we glad that I copied at least a bit of their actual prose?

Two other things became clear in mulling all this over.

1. I no longer am going to allow the language to control this issue. The two camps are either "pro-abortion" or "anti-abortion." Let's be clear and call the thing what it is.

2. Christians were the impetus and mainstay of the fight against slavery although we all know that mightier forces eventually were brought to bear on the matter. Just read Uncle Tom's Cabin or the book I link to below for a nonfiction documentation.

We can prevail again. However, like those Christians who fought through prayer, influence, the Underground Railroad, and legislation, we too can overcome. We must remember that we are warriors no matter what our method and never give up. Even if it is simply having a calm discussion during a scripture study class with those who disagree.

============================

Slavery and Abortion: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Reposted from August 3, 2004


We're starting to see the comparison of abortion to slavery become more common. It makes sense. Slavery is another moral issue that only Christians cared about at first, divided families and friends, was legal until enough people put their feet down, and destroyed people in the name of "ownership." Recently I have seen it specifically mentioned in two places.

Patrick Madrid at Envoy magazine's blog, Envoy Encore briefly discusses Biblical principles against abortion and opens the article with this reminder.
NOT SINCE THE CIVIL WAR crisis over slavery has a controversial moral issue so divided Americans and roiled society as has abortion. The deliberate killing of an unborn child through an abortion, though currently enjoying the "legitimacy" of legality in this country (just as slavery was once also legal), is, nonetheless, a grave evil that must be opposed.

The Mighty Barrister dissects a recent interview of John Kerry by Peter Jennings with his usual style and pointedly makes us aware of the parallels.
There was a period of time in the life of this country when another group of human beings were not considered persons. See, for example, Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 U.S., 1856, where the Supreme Court announced that slaves were not "men" as defined in the Declaration of Independence, and were not "people" as declared in the Constitution, stating, "When the Constitution was adopted, they (blacks) were not regarded in any of the States as members of the community which constituted the State, and were not numbered among its 'people or citizens.' Consequently, the special rights and immunities guarantied to citizens do not apply to them."

You can't ignore the obvious parallels between the way the unborn are treated today, and the way Americans of African lineage were treated 150 years ago. And you can't ignore the fact that John Kerry uses practically the same language to describe the unborn as white racists used to describe blacks -- they're not "people."
This may be the startling idea that is needed to shock sense back into pro-abortion people. The same sorts of arguments were used to support slavery as to support abortion. If nothing else, these comparisons should give renewed energy to pro-life supporters. Slavery was big business and entrenched in Western civilization at one time. It was only by tenacity and sticking to what they knew was true in the face of any other arguments that Christians got the ball rolling for stopping slavery. We can do the same.

An excellent resource for finding out about the role of Christians in ending slavery (and other positive impacts of Christianity on our society) is Christianity on Trial: Arguments Against Anti-Religious Bigotry by Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett.

UPDATE: I can't believe I missed this as I am a dedicated Catholic Analysis fan but Oswald Sobrino wrote a fabulous article about this just yesterday. He points out all the parallels between the struggles faced by Abraham Lincoln and George Bush. Thanks to Jeff Miller for pointing this out.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Let's Get Mystical ...

The Anchoress has been praying and fasting for the nation and will do so until the election.
...what I have not written about this regimen is that these 16 days have brought such a sense of interior peace that I almost cannot describe it.

Grounding myself in prayer, examining every odd yearning (and not just for food) and choosing to surrender that yearning rather than gratify it has had an empowering effect, and a clarifying one.

What I am reminded, repeatedly, is that time is a construct - that everything is happening simultaneously. Right now, I am writing at my computer. Right now, I am voting at my local school. Right now, Christ is dying on a cross. Right now, He is making a covenant and receiving a kiss. Right now, Napoleon is heading to Waterloo. Right now, George Washington is facing defeat for the umpteenth time. Right now, I am being needlessly cruel to someone. Right now I am being born. Right now I am 78 years old and grousing that my kids never visit me. Right now, Obama has won the election. Right now John McCain has won the election.

This is why prayer has power. In the quantum world, where everything is occurring all at once, prayer changes things. Sacrifice changes things. Wisdom knows this - it is why every religious tradition, Eastern or Western, encourages prayer and sacrifice - because this is how you pierce illusions.

Last week Pope Benedict XVI said: ”He who builds only on visible and tangible things like success, career and money builds the house of his life on sand”…money vanishes, it is nothing. All these things that appear to be real are in fact secondary. Only God’s words are a solid reality”.

Yes. Everything is happening, all at once. What appears to be solid and three-dimensional would does not even exist between its busy atoms. That which the world regards as most ephemeral, and least grasp-able, is actually the solid platform upon which all illusions spin. ...
This is powerful and somehow it also makes me feel peaceful as well.

I also have been praying with increased zeal that feels akin to the praying I did during the papal election for God to guide us, for the election to send us the direction he wants us to go ...

Though I'm not fasting.

Up Close and Personal with John Paul II

Pope John Paul II: An Intimate Life: The Pope I Knew So Well
by Caroline Pigozzi
During larger audiences in the second floor apartments, the Holy Father would receive high-ranking international officials and ambassadors to the Holy See. ... Each and every one of them would try to have a private conversation with him, but he would always make his excuses and leave if he felt an audience was at risk of becoming monotonous and predictable. He had developed an infallible two-tier tactic for dealing with such situations. First, as soon as the conversation started to drag, the Supreme Pontiff would adopt the look of a tired old man, which would discourage the person in front of him (who often already felt quite uncomfortable if they were divorced, for example, or cohabiting and knew that the Pope knew). The other trick was to direct the person toward his prime minister Cardinal Sodano while sternly intoning, "Welcome to Rome!" The imposing surroundings also helped to inhibit unwanted conversation.
Caroline Pigozzi was a reporter for Paris Match magazine who became determined to get the story about Pope John Paul II behind the scenes at the Vatican. Partially because of her cleverness and determination and partly because she made the Pope laugh, Pigozzi achieved her goal. The result is a book that shows us more than usual of Pope John Paul II's personality and also enlightens about daily workings in the Pope's schedule. Most of all, the personal tidbits Pigozzi gleans from those who worked with the pope, enliven the book and round out our view of him.
On July 10, 2003, Cardinal Poupard had lunch with him [John Paul II] at Castel Gandolfo. "That day," he told me, "I said to the Pope, 'Most Holy Father, today there are just three things I would like to discuss with Your Holiness: Oslo, Nagasaki and Moscow.'"

"'Just three things?' the Pope replied. 'That's not much for a French cardinal! Aren't you feeling well today?'"
She takes us to dinner, among the pilgrims to Rome, on airplanes, and on vacation with the pope. As well, Pigozzi takes opportunities to enlighten about Church and papal history about particular subjects so that we have context for why she is covering Pope John Paul II on a particular issue. This includes such subjects as how few of the previous popes traveled abroad (except to Avignon, but that is a different subject altogether!) or into the history of the Church in Russia. All this is communicated in an easy to read style that is not afraid to critique, while clearly admiring John Paul II's many good qualities. The many intimate stories make the history lessons go down easily.
Subsequent to his first visit to New York in October 1979--one that, according to press reports, cost the US government and the well-off American Church (a most generous group that donated 23.5 million euros in 2002) some 3 million dollars--a journalist referred in the Pope's presence to his travel expenses. This was one of the very rare occasions when John Paul II lost his cool in public, and he answered with real anger: "I do not consider it something to account for when you remember that we humans were bought for a price beyond measure. There is no way to calculate that. It is stupid. People talk about cost as a way of trying to stop the Pope. People say that he costs more than the queen of England. That is just as well, for the message he carries is of transcendental value.

Karol Wojtyla could not abide the thought of money-changers in the temple. He refused to allow the issue of the cost of his travels to become the subject of controversy. ... For John Paul II, his trips were simply an extension of his missionary and ecumenical zeal. He was driven to develop religious and inter-religious dialogue, culture and a new evangelization of the character of Jesus himself. In his view, nothing else was of any importance.
Those personal stories are what made me love this book, as well as Pigozzi's clear admiration for John Paul II. I was not really interested for another "JPII" book until I began reading but this one is different because it is so personal. On another note, reading over the daily schedule, I have nothing but sympathy for Pope Benedict whenever I think of him and a fuller appreciation for all that being the Vicar of Christ entails on a personal level from the Pope.

Highly recommended.

Two more excerpts from this book appeared previously:

Update on our move from The Dallas Morning News to The Wall Street Journal

Overall the WSJ has just enough interesting articles to give me something new and different to ponder in the morning. There definitely would have been a better time for us to begin reading headlines about business every day (no matter how level-headed the headlines), but we try to keep equally level heads personally.

Got a letter from the Dallas Morning News yesterday. Silly me, I thought that perhaps they had noticed we canceled our paper and were asking us back. Pffft! No way.

The essence of the thing, which not only shows the depth of their self-delusion in their references to "quality you expect" but also took many paragraphs to get to:
We have taken aggressive steps to offset rising costs and reduce expenses while preserving the quality you expect from The Dallas Morning News and the convenience of home delivery. ...

It is necessary that we increase 7-day subscription prices by $2.00 per month ... from $19.00 to $21.00 per month.
That makes the annual rate for the paper $252.

No decision ever looked better.

I Am Sylar Spock

As the first photos began to surface from JJ Abrams' upcoming Star Trek movie, I had a nagging feeling that I knew that actor playing Mr. Spock.

Indeed, I did. Not only is he Sylar from Heroes, but we have often seen Sylar in that intent pose. One assumes that here he is on the side of good not evil as in Heroes.

Worth a Thousand Words

Click through on the link to read a meditation on the photo.

A Little Useless Information

It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information. -- Oscar Wilde
MOUNT RUSHMORE • This famous site of monumental presidential carvings is in the Black Hills of South Dakota. During the early exploitation of the are for its mineral resources, Charles Rushmore, an attorney representing a mining company, arrived in the area to do business. In 1885, according to lore, he asked local miners about a local granite outcropping that had no name. They responded by naming it after him.
The Word Origin Calendar

What Reduces Abortions?

Sometimes election years produce more policy myths than good ideas. This year one myth is about abortion. It goes like this: The Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision is here to stay, and that's fine because laws against abortion don't reduce abortions much anyway. Rather, "support for women and families" will greatly reduce abortions, without changing the law or continuing a "divisive" abortion debate.

Various false claims are used to bolster this myth. It is said that over three-quarters of women having abortions cite expense as the most important factor in their decision. Actually the figure is less than one-fourth, 23%. It is said that abortion rates declined dramatically (30%) during the Clinton years, but the decline stopped under the ostensibly pro-life Bush administration. Actually the abortion rate has dropped 30% from 1981 to 2005; the decline started 12 years before Clinton took office, and has continued fairly steadily to the present day. ...
An interesting article that you should read at the USCCB pro-life site. I know I was surprised by the info.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Anchoress is Fasting ... So What Does Everyone Do?

Tease her with pie, of course!

Ah, but 'tis all in good fun.

I, myself, could not resist sending her a virtual piece of Perfect Pecan Pie.


Because I care, you know ...

A Brilliant Combination of Animation and Video



Found at lines and colors where, among other things, they tell us:
Taking off from the notion of a sketchbook in which a computer keyboard and screen have been drawn, it goes on to self-referentially show a hand-drawn YouTube interface on which a series of Lohbeck’s other short animations, also very clever and amusing in themselves, are shown. Several of them feature the sketchbook in other whimsical roles.

Ladies for Life? Sign Me Up!

Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I object strenuously to people claiming to speak for women when they promote abortion. They sure don’t speak for me. And I know I’m not alone. So, if you are a civilized woman who thinks human life should be protected from conception until natural death, please drop a note in the comments and let people know about your blog or website. It doesn’t have to be a site that talks about pro-life issues. It just has to be hosted or co-hosted by a lady who is pro-life. Thanks!
So says Kathryn Judson and she is not alone as most people who drop by here regularly know. Drop in and say hello. Via Wittingshire which also has some good links to check out.

My Name is Julie D. and I Approve This Message

I have been offered ad opportunities before but none of them were really right.

This time, however, there is a perfect match. You may remember my enthusiasm over Hear My Voice, which is a children's translation of gospel readings of the Mass for the next liturgical year. You can read my review here.

This ad will be living in my sidebar but I thought I'd introduce y'all properly.

Hear My Voice

Buy the book by clicking through and not only will you be getting a wonderful book but I'll get a bit of cash. That would be lovely indeed, but mostly I really want those of you with little ones to give this book a try. It really is fantastic.

Worth a Thousand Words

Britannia arm-in-arm with Uncle Sam symbolizes the British-American alliance in World War I. (Source: Wikipedia)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Worth a Thousand Words

Paul Weller by Edward B. Gordon

Daybook

Outside my window
The trees are green and I see maybe a leaf or two that is changing color. It will be Thanksgiving before they really change in force, if they do at all.
~~~
In my thoughts
I miss Hannah and Rose. I wasn't missing them for some time ... but today, I miss them!
~~~
In Thanksgiving
For my good life and family and how rich it is with God in the middle of it.
~~~
Kitchen meanderings
Planning another Khmer stir-fry this week ... a simple pork and green bean dish. We'll see if I actually make it or not.
~~~
Using my creative powers
Not sure if I'm using creative powers on this but I definitely am trying to keep myself on schedule and disciplined enough to ignore distractions. I'm realizing that my day is full of them and most are self-imposed. Bad, bad Julie D!
~~~
Stacked up
  • Calico Palace by Gwen Bristow: revisiting an old favorite
  • Shapers by Robert R. Chase: dropped into the middle of a situation that is probably the most unique and original view of an alien species I've ever read. Fascinating. Really fascinating.
  • My Cousin, the Saint (review copy): loving this book. How the author manages to combine Italian history, the Italian immigrant experience in the U.S., the poor Italian parish priest experience, food writing, and faith ... well, he's good, let's just say that. Very good.
  • Pope John Paul II: An Intimate Life (review copy): finished this actually. Excellent. Now I must write the review.
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (reading a chapter in the evenings with Tom, when we remember): funny and inspirational. I hope that if I were faced with such dire news I'd react as he did.
~~~
Couch potato
Ignoring those stinkin' Cowboys ... the usual things at home from the VCR: House, Bones, Pushing Daisies, Chuck. We gave Life on Mars a Try and I found it interesting although somewhat claustrophobic when he'd hear from loved ones over the television or radio. I felt trapped along with him. That was not such a good feeling but I believe it is particular to my reaction. I'm going to be continuing with it.

From the library
-Michael Palin's Sahara which we're halfway though. I continue to be fascinated by how very differently people live right now at this moment from the way that I do.
~~~
In my ears
The Adventures of Jimmy Dale, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, proofing this week's podcast.

Caught up with Alderpod which is an interesting fantasy with a bit of steampunk folded in. The author surprises me time and again by having the characters react realistically in stressful situations as opposed to the idealistic way that I expect the strong female, the lad coming into his own, the bard on his first mission ... to react.
~~~
Around the house
Very, very slowly I'm cleaning up corners or bookshelves or tabletops. And they still stay cleaned off!
~~~
A favorite thing
Right this second? My husband. (That whole second honeymoon thing, you know.)
~~~
An extra tidbit
I have become the Queen of Canned Dogfood. (Also of canned cat food.) We're catering to our sweet old boxer who is slowly fading away from cancer. We joke that it's the canned Alpo keeping her alive. She's always a chow hound no matter what. The cat has finally become pleased now that I've tried Fancy Feast. She eats every bit, as opposed to the Iams tiny bits of fish (or whatever) where she laps up the liquid and disdains the solids.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What's Missing from this Stamp?


Of course, you noticed. We all noticed. They have removed the cigarette from one of the most famous photographs of Bette Davis. I like the way Roger Ebert comments on this:
... Yes reader, the cigarette in the original photo has been eliminated. We are all familiar, I am sure, with the countless children and teenagers who have been lured into the clutches of tobacco by stamp collecting, which seems so innocent, yet can have such tragic outcomes. But isn't this is carrying the anti-smoking campaign one step over the line?

Depriving Bette Davis of her cigarette reminds me of Soviet revisionism, when disgraced party officials disappeared from official photographs. ...

The great Chicago photographer Victor Skrebneski took one of the most famous portraits of Davis. I showed him the stamp. His response: "I have been with Bette for years and I have never seen her without a cigarette! No cigarette! Who is this impostor?" I imagine Davis might not object to a portrait of her without a cigarette, because she posed for many. But to have a cigarette removed from one of her most famous poses! What she did to Joan Crawford in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" wouldn't even compare to what ever would have happened to the artist Michael Deas.
Read the whole thing here.

Worth a Thousand Words

Bloch Building by Hey Jules

Question of the Day: on the side

You can have only one condiment for the rest of your life. Which do you pick?

We're not talking seasonings like salt, pepper, and herbs here. This is about mayo, mustard, ketchup, hot sauce and the like.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

In Which Nations Shoot the Breeze

From the hilarious Wondermark Lite. Click on the cartoon to enlarge or click through the link to read it at Wondermark Lite.

Worth a Thousand Words

Achilles tending Patroclus wounded by an arrow
Identified by inscriptions on the upper part of the vase. Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, ca. 500 BC. From Vulci. (Source: Wikipedia)

Friday, October 10, 2008

You Know, I Never Thought of It LIke That!

Leave it to John C. Wright to point out ...
In other words, if your whole political economy is based on putting a burden of debt on unborn generations, does not the existence of your political economy rest on the idea that the unborn generation shall and must come to be? If the Big Brother you worship and serve cannot remain solvent, indeed, cannot survive at all, unless the next generation outnumbers the current, is it not treason to Big Brother to remain infertile? ...
Read it all here.

Worth a Thousand Words

Wild Autumn Beauty
Taken by the talented DL Ennis at Visual Thoughts

I am increasingly approving of The Nutrition Diva

She is part of the Quick & Dirty Tips podcasting family. I enjoy several of those podcasts as a matter of fact.

What makes me point out The Nutrition Diva? She uses common sense. And science.

I like that.

For instance, I had fallen prey to high fructose hysteria (to my shame, as I now realize) and she helped shake me into common sense (emphasis added):
... As is so often the case, a little chemistry helps makes things a lot clearer. Table sugar, or sucrose, is actually made up of two types of sugar molecules; it’s about equal parts glucose and fructose.

Regular corn syrup, the kind that you can buy on the grocery store, has a different profile. It’s much lower in fructose than table sugar. You heard me correctly: Corn syrup is naturally quite low in fructose. And that makes it a poor substitute for table sugar. Things made with regular corn syrup don’t taste the same as things made with table sugar.

The breakthrough for food manufacturers came when they figured out how to produce a corn syrup that was higher in fructose. High-fructose corn syrup actually has about the same amount of fructose as regular table sugar—making it a viable alternative for food processing. Because corn syrup is so much cheaper than cane sugar, manufacturers quickly adopted it and high-fructose corn syrup has largely replaced cane sugar in manufactured foods.

But here’s what gets lost in the high-fructose hysteria: Foods and drinks made with high-fructose corn syrup are, in general, no higher in fructose than foods made with regular sugar. But they are cheaper. ...
Or this bit of information about how much water to drink? Now, this one I knew. But it was refreshing to hear a little known bit of information being brought to light through a venue that is fairly popular (or so I'd bet):
... I bet you’ve heard it said that you need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day in order to stay properly hydrated. Perhaps you’ve also read that by the time you feel thirsty you’re already in an advanced state of dehydration, or that most of us are chronically dehydrated. Chances are also good that you’ve been told that drinking caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee cause you to lose more fluid than you take in.

What would you say if I told you that all of these widely held truths are little more than urban legends?

I can almost hear your shocked expressions! The dehydration myth has become so firmly entrenched in our collective consciousness that it may indeed come as a surprise to learn that there is very little scientific support for any of these notions. ...
Yep.

You don't have to listen to the podcast if you'd rather read. Full transcripts are available for each show.