Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Silence

[Currently preparing a meditation/presentation for a retreat tomorrow for some 10th graders. While preparing, it reminded me of something I wrote in one of my undergrad classes. I think I was reading a lot of apophatic theology at the time.]

Silence isn’t golden.
It is nothing,
but that nothing
is something,
which is silence
that is nothing.

It is by an absence of all things
that brings it forth
creating from nothing
that which is.
Silence is something,
which lacks everything,
making it nothing.

It is this thing, this nothing
that is complex enough
to reach down and touch
the “essence” of life—
to tickle the fibers of being,
and raise us up
from the lowest depths
set us gently
upon a pedestal
and speak:
an ahhhh of relief
a sigh of joy
a sign of peace
a sonus non praesentarius.

It is nothing
that I do not understand—
how it exists
and how it existed:
before man,
before time,
before the crashing of the cosmos,
(There is something that is naught.)

In the beginning was silence,
and the silence was with God,
and the silence was God
orchestrating the heavens
through symphonies to souls
in the most beautiful aria
of an unheard voice: Vocis Dius: Silence

If you have ears use them,
and all you have to do…
is listen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Liturgical Parable

[One of the subjects I am teaching is sacraments. Needless to say, I am trying to educate the students on the liturgy. A recent assignment involved the students writing two paragraphs on "If you had the authority to change the mass so that it is more interesting what would you do to make it more interesting." I received some interesting responses. But the consensus was that the liturgy was boring, the music was bad, it was too repetitious, too redundant, it doesn't releate to modern life, the homilies are boring, and I can continue with their whining but will stop here. In short, this was my reply to them, in an attempt to discuss the need for some of the things they don't like or understand.]


It’s a Monday morning on Jesuit High School campus. A student walks up the main stairs past the Mary statue and tiredly trudges into the building. He walks down the “Hall of Honors” and stops in front of his locker, grabs his lock does two turns to the right, one to the left, and a partial turn to the final number and pops the lock open.

About this time, another student walks up to the locker next to the first student’s and goes through the same process to unlock and open his locker. Almost instantly the two begin chatting about what they did on the weekend: the dance at the near by girls school, getting grounded for low grades, a friend’s birthday party, and even an all night Madden marathon where the New Orleans Saints win the super bowl complete with Drew Brees as league MVP.

The discussion of Madden brings the first to ask the second, “Man, did you see that LSU-Auburn game on Saturday? It was awesome!”

The second sheepishly replies, “I guess so. I didn’t watch it.”

“You guess so. You didn’t watch it?!” says the first student in disbelief. “Guess nothing. It was amazing! LSU beating Auburn in their own house. That hasn’t been done in 10 years. There is no guessing about that.”

“Well, the thing is,” begins the second student. “The thing is, I don’t really like football, so I don’t watch it. I find it boring.”

“Boring! Boring!” exclaims the first student. “What is boring about football? Let me tell ya. Nothing. Nothing is what is boring about football.”

“It is just the same thing over and over and over,” explains the second student.” There is too much redundancy in the sport. They run a play that lasts for 15 seconds then they stand around for nearly half a minute before running another play. It is a wonder that the game ever gets finished. Football is the only sport that can make 60 minutes last 3 hours. If I were in charge of foot ball, I would make the games be much shorter. As it is the game seems to carry on forever. Three hours to play a game that is supposed to last only 60 mins. is way too long. Furthermore, the refs or officials just seem to run around the field waving their arms about like mad men. Its like they think they are at Mardi Gras or something. If I did what these refs do on the street, people would call me nuts and try to lock me up in a mental ward.”

“Ok, ok,” says the first student. “But you have to at least enjoy the music and get pumped up by it.”

“The music they play at the games is so cheesy, says the second student. “How many times can they play ‘Who let the dogs out’? With that incessant drumming and barking in my ear that makes my head want to explode. The music is so dated. They don’t keep up with the trends in music and never play anything that has been on the radio in the last 10 years. I’d prefer to just listen to my iPod and music that I like”

“That’s alright,” replies the first student. “I usually bring a radio and listen to the sports casters when the game is going on. The commentators usually know what is going on.”

“Commentators,” begins the second student.” Commentators are the biggest bore of them all in football. They can’t think of anything new to say. It is the same recycled junk that has been used for the past 100 years. If I have to listen to the same tired old moanings of some old ex-football player turned sportscaster say, 'such and such a player "breaks through the line"' or have him say something about ‘deep penetration in the back’ [warning: if you teach all boys, stop hear and wait for laughter to subside.] or yell out where the ball carrier is, while I am watching TV 'the 40, the 30, the 25, the 20, the 15, the 10, the 5, touchdown!' I don’t know what I am going to do. Plus, they really need to learn that the word 'execute' is far less nauseating when used 100 times over the span of 3 hours than the phrase ‘make plays.’ Furthermore, If I hear one more thing about the ‘big tight end' -- its always the big tight end from Miami -- or about the gun slinging QB or the savvy veteran, I think I am going to shoot someone.”

“What are you talking about?” says the first student. “Foot ball is so exciting. The fans are into the game.”

“Into the game!” replies the second student. “All they do is yell. And all the constant repetitive standing and sitting is a drag. It makes me so tired. They stand for 5 mins. We sit for 10. I wish they would make up their minds. Either stand or sit. None of this stand, sit, stand, sit, business. Plus, I never know when the standing is going to happen. It just happens and everyone says a bunch of stuff that I don’t understand. Plus, there is no way for the fans to participate in the game. They keep them off the field. The commissioner needs to find ways to get the fans more actively involved in the game. More fan participation on the field. Really, when it comes down to it, football isn’t a game that relates to everyday life, so I don’t see the need to ‘get into it.’”

“Man,” says the first student. “You just don’t get it do you?”

On that final statement the first student shuts his locker, reapplies the lock with a twist on the dial and heads off to class shaking his head. As he walked away, the second student thought he heard the first muttering something about ‘a moron.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not Said By Jesus Sunday (Late Edition)






Awakenings: The Living Dead

[A reflection I did on a retreat for juniors over the weekend. I tried to type it up what I said word for word. My original was just bullet points.]

Zombies, they’re the new face of horror for our generation. But where did these horrific creatures come from? How did they enter into the American mind? In short, zombies came from West Africa and Haitian culture. In Haiti a person, usually a low life, was administered a powder that induced a coma. They were then buried, exhumed by a witchdoctor (who was a kind of ‘zombie-master), and used as a mindless slave. The word zombie comes from a west African word “zumbi’ which translates into English as “fetish”. Fetish – An inanimate object considered to be inhabited by a spirit.

Like I said, Zombies are the new face of horror. They can’t be avoided. We’ve seen them in the recent Resident Evil movies. In recent years zombies have be the main focus in Dawn of the Dead, the spin off parody of Dawn of the DeadShaun of the Dead, A South Park episode where Kenny turns half the city into Zombies, going back even further there was the Evil Dead series and finally the original Night of the Living Dead. But movies aren’t the only place we find zombies taking center stage in horror. In video games, zombies are always a favorite kill -- like in the Resident Evil games that are hugely popular. Recently in print there has been “Z Wars” and “How to Survive a Zombie Attack”.

But why are they the new horror? What is it about zombies that terrify us? Notice something interesting; even in the comedies, a zombie is something a person does not want to be. Nobody wants to be a zombie. Even Hollywood, who has the ability to make desirable and glorify all kinds of dark things, can’t find a way to glamorize these creatures. So as the clip is playing, I really want you to think. What are so terrifying and horrific about zombies?

-Play movie to 20 min. mark. Just after the dead zombie is lit on fire. Make sure you see the mob.-



Let us think about the movie for a min. Where do the zombies come from? If we watched the entire movie we would eventually learn that some kind of technology went wrong, it ran amuck, and radiation from this technology is creating these mindless creatures that have a vacant expression with an eeri uniformity. All the zombies might as well be the same. Besides what they wear, they are the same. At the sart of the movie we don’t know or learn much about the zombies. We only know that they want to attack people not like them. Think for a minute, how do you use technology? It is everywhere it can’t be avoided. Do you use it, or do we abuse it? Do you own technology, or do we let it own us? Do you let technology block our growth: spiritual, physical, mental and emotion? Have we let technology turn us into zombies to the point that our thoughts are occupied by the most simple of thought?

In our culture symbols are everywhere and at the same time are full of meaning and meaning less. In the movie we see the old-symbolism losing its power – with the lose of the old symbolism so goes the person on their way to being a zombie. In the movie we can say that the radio competes with religious ritual. John for instance seems more interested in the radio than delivering flowers to his father’s grave. John misses the importance of placing flowers on a grave and praying. “Praying is for church” is what he tells his sister. It is appropriate that John is the first victim in the movie. The veil that separates him from being a zombie (the living-dead) is pretty thins as it is. How about us? Have we amused, entertained, or stimulated ourselves to the point that we can’t see the depth of things (like John who doesn’t see the deeper meaning of visiting his father’s grave or praying. He thinks in terms of only time and money.) Do we miss the inner and spiritual dimensions? Mass? Church and family? Are we living a one dimensional existence that makes us living dead?

Even zombies are able of organization and massed frenzied activity. Like us . . . we can be driven zombies . . . assembled in numbers for no reason. Just a mindless group not thinking and not caring about what they are doing. Look even closer.

Zombies are weak. The zombie’s strength lies in numbers. Individually they can be beaten by those who are the furthest from being the living dead. Later in the movie, we discover that the only real purpose of the zombie is to make others like themselves. What if someone woke up? What if a zombie became unzombified? What if someone stays alive? The one who stays alive becomes like a fool to others. They become dangerous to the zombies: unpredictable. Lonely in a crowd. A stranger in one’s own house. A stranger among old friends.

What frightens me about zombies is that they have no will of their own. Once a person becomes a zombie their will is taken from them and they become less human. To look at it from a scientific perspective, it is like a step back in evolution. The person who becomes a zombie become more animal like. Their end it to feed and reproduce. One of the reasons I like the older version of this movie is that it is very hard to tell the difference between a zombie and a normal person. The zombie is often mistaken as a normal person. John and his sisters did this at the very beginning. If you went up to the top of the highest building in the city, how many zombies would you see? Would you be able to tell the zombies apart from the living? How many zombies have you walked next to on a daily basis?

Christ says in the Gospels to “let the dead bury the dead.” That is, let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead -- bodies with a dead soul, like the zombie who has no spirit. Though we can’t be the living dead, but are you certain that you aren’t the dead who is living? Are you certain you aren’t a zombie lumbering through life with a glazed expression looking to satisfy your stomach and to satisfy that urge to merge?

[The students then has some reflection questions and scriptures passages to spend some time in quiet prayer.]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Storm Surge

[A friend told me this was too melodramatic. I kind of agree. If I have the chance to go back and redo it, I might send it to a journal]

September 14, 2008

Most recently, two hurricanes visited me (and my state) that were reminiscent of two other hurricanes that visited some three years prior. The latter two male (Ike and Gustav), while the former pair were female (Katrina and Rita). I know a good deal about these counterclockwise storms that tear through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico every year. Most of what I know I have learned from the weather reports on TV and on the radio and the long standing oral history that Grandmother or Grandfather passed on to mother or father who in turn passed it on to their sons and daughters. The truth is, New Orleans’ history could be recounted using the floodings, the hurricanes, the fires, and the epidemics as guideposts to the city’s existence – this would probably make an interesting class if such a thing were attempted.

In other parts of the country, kids grow up fearing the boogieman or some other dark fictitious creature that lurks behind doors, under beds, or in the far off fields on the edge of town. Not in New Orleans. Children grow up hearing stories about “The Big One” and about real storms named Betsy and Camille and what they did to the city and what would happen if this “Big One” hit the city: the house would be flooded, all our things would be gone, Baton Rouge would be beach front property, you could fish off your roof, etc . . .. I was always a bit fond of this last one when I was a kid. I just like the novel image it produced in my mind. Myself perched on the sloping shingles near the edge of the roof with a rod in hand and a line in the muddy waters of the Mississippi. I was Huck Finn and my brother was Tom Sawyer. I never bothered to think about where we would sleep or how we would cook the fish we caught, but I was too enraptured with being able to fish all day and in my own yard and from my own house to consider the rest – but that is how kids think.

Unlike the boogieman, “The Big One” is inevitable and will eventually destroy New Orleans. So where fear of the boogieman fades with age, the fear of “The Big One” never really goes away, and every year from July through November families across New Orleans grow tense waiting and hoping that this be not the year “The Big One” hits the city. No, Katrina was not “The Big One.” She did manage to do considerable damage, but she was not “The Big One.” “The Big One” is destined to go up the mouth of the river, cause flooding from rain and storm surge, and obliterate the levee systems of the city to the point that no number of sandbags would be able to repair the levees for the next year. It is no wonder that a city known for celebrating every aspect of life and for whatever reason be born out of such tensions.

Much to our sorrow, we know now a days how devastating hurricanes can be. Years ago, hurricanes went unnamed and often those unnamed storms are forgotten, except to the select few who study those sorts of things. Now, hurricanes are named. There is no precise certainty as to why these particular storms are named while other, just as deadly storms go unnamed year to year. Perhaps it is done from an ancient idea that if you name something than you might exert some control over it. Maybe it is done so that the storm is easier remembered. Then again, a name might be applied just for the mere reason so that residents know who (or what) to blame and shake their fist at during the storm: “Curse you Katrina!” Whatever the reason for names it does not change the reality that these storms are born from nature’s pleasantries.

The pleasantries of nature are usually never worth noting until it turns violent and is in its rare malevolent form -- the form that the media likes best. If there is ever a portion of the populace that can over react more than an obsessive compulsive hypochondriac mother of four it is the media. Making mountains out of molehills and working the public into a frenzied alarm long long before any danger is eminent is becoming the media’s specialty. Long before a stiff breeze or a mild zephyer swept through New Orleans, the media had already predicted the city’s doom, which was to follow in a like manner to that of Katrina. There was no hope for the city, though the storm be below Cuba and not even in the Gulf of Mexico and with only a vague certainty to the storm’s path, the media had dubbed it another 100-year storm for New Orleans – if the media stopped and researched, they would learn that hurricanes hit New Orleans every 3-4 years. The city was due when Gustauv set it sites.

With my father gone and the media predicting certain doom, it fell upon myself to secure the house, which basically consisted of some plywood covering the windows; an ax in the attic; gas in the cars, extra food; bathtubs cleaned, stopped and filled with water; extra batteries; flashlights; a battery powered radio; and other essentials. My mother, who gets into the spirit of disaster quickly, set to work on the Friday before the storm was scheduled to hit in securing or moving indoors anything that could potentially be turned into a projectile in 100 mph wind: potted plants, chairs, swings, poles and boards – though, it really didn’t seem to matter if one was listening to the media as these things would be under 13 feet of water come Tuesday morning thus rendering these things incapable of being a projectile; besides, a broken window would be the least of our problems if what the media says be true. But anyway we set about doing what residents have always done for years.

6:00 that evening, the word came down from every branch of local government that the city should be evacuated, even though the storm was still south of Cuba, and that the mayor had already declared south Louisiana in a state of emergency and in need of disaster relief. The media could tell us nothing more but the same repetitious messages, which was causing the media to spend herself at a reckless rate, that did nothing more than add to the alarm of the people. With tautological nonsense the media could only tell us “Yes, the storm might hit.” and “Yes, the storm might miss.” My mother a good citizen, set about like a mad djinn packing everything she deemed important into the back of her SUV. I on the other hand, maybe it is because I am either a bad citizen or I though the storm was being blown out of proportion by the media for my area, left my mother to assemble her things in all anxiety and went out to listen to some music – it is what people do in New Orleans on a Friday night.

At 3:00 the next morning, my mother shakes me awake on the couch, where I was sleeping, asking for my help to load the big things into her car. She wanted to get an early start so that she could “beat the traffic.” She and my grandmother were evacuating to Hammond, Louisiana to make preparations at the house my mother and father bought after Katrina hit New Orleans. After helping my mother and seeing her off, I sat down in the recliner and turned on the news channel. There was no new news about the storm that I had not already heard: It was nearing the Gulf, it was strengthening, it appeared to be picking up speed, and it appeared to still be headed right for us. I went back to bed.

Later that morning, I learned that the Louisiana State University football game had been moved up to 10 am, an unacceptable time for LSU fans. I quickly turned on the radio (as the game was not televised) and scanned the dial back and fourth to find the game. It is usually broadcasted on AM station 870. The game wasn’t on. Instead it was a gruff voice saying that the storm is set to pass just west of New Orleans -- anyone who knows anything about Hurricanes knows that the east side of the storm is the worst place to get caught in a hurricane, so it appears New Orleans might not fair out well this time. But I went back looking for the LSU game, which it turned out every radio station had been taken over and taken up by Gustav updates and governmental information, so I never heard the game. At this time the Governor was calling for a mandatory evacuation starting tomorrow (Sunday) morning, so taking my mother’s lead. I began packing.

So what exactly do you take with you when the city council, mayor, parish president, governor and the news casters say you will be flooded and all your stuff will be lost if it is not taken with you? I have a small space and much I want to take with me. It was an easy decision at first, I take any important documents (diplomas, car slips, death certificates, wills, passports, birth certificates, loan information, etc.), but after this the choices get more complicated. Clothes is a given . . . but how much and which ones: suit, sports coats, work clothes, and some shorts and t-shirts. I have hundreds of books, which ones do I take? Argh, good bye Kreeft, Lewis, Tolkien, Chesterton. In my limited space I took only those few books that I knew were out of print: Meditation on the Passion, The Life of Christ, and a pre-Thurston edition of Butler's Lives of the Saints, and I also took my school books from work. I also grabbed the photo albums that my mom forgot to pack in her car as well as my father's guns -- he collected guns and had several nice pieces in addition to his hunting weaponry.

But the questions always kept coming back, "How much of this stuff do I take, and what is the essential stuff that I must take?" I didn't really like that trip to the Grand Canyon my family took when I was a kid (I'd probably like it more now if I made the same journey today), but my mom has a whole album of the trip chronoilising our expedition from the front door in New Orleans to the canyon and back again, and it is a good collection of pictures of my dad: nuf said, it goes. I had to plan for the worse, as that is what the Media was saying would happen, so "are two pair of dress shoes essential or just one?" If I only pack one, I might be able to squeeze in something else that might be deemed more important.

Unable to squeeze another item in my car, I exited my house in New Orleans, thinking this will be the last I live here for a while. I wanted to do something more. Something wasn’t quite right. I dashed back inside grabbed a miraculous medal off a windowsill, a hammer and a nail and firmly nailed the medal to the exterior of the front door. “Thy Will be done.” is what I prayed. I don’t know why exactly I did this. I wasn’t expecting a miracle and none occurred that I can account, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I got in my car and left.

After being caught in the traffic my mother was trying to beat for some four hours on a trip that normally only took one ,I arrived in Hammond at 4:52 tired and anxious. My mother and grandmother were glued to the TV watching a news reporter, who for whatever reason – perhaps he drew the short straw – was in the bayous of south Louisiana reporting on the storm.
“How is the condition down there Bob,” asked the anchorman in the station? The camera cut to Bob on the Bayou who was outdoors in a hooded rain jacket.
“Well Carl,” shouted Bob, “As you can see the wind is starting to pick up, it is raining here as we are starting to get some of the outer bands, and the water is beginning to get rough.” The camera panned to the bayou that was already turning with small but bigger than normal white crested waves, and the wind could be heard through Bob’s microphone. Bob and Carl continued to dialogue, and Bob finished saying that he would be hunkering down in due time.

It was at this moment that I realized the media in Louisiana was taking a position that was firmly against hurricanes. That was not doubt. Though it was anti-hurricane, it seemed to be pro disaster. After all it is far more interesting to hear about the detailed misfortunes of a family without power, food, water, and who had a tree crash into their house than to calmly report “everything is fine a dandy down here. Back to you Carl.”

Nothing new happened on Saturday. My mother and grandmother gorged themselves on Gustav information. It didn’t matter that it was the same information they had been hearing now for the past two days. A person can only take so much of the same information before getting sick to the stomach and taking a strain on one’s mental wellbeing. In each room the TV was tuned to Gustav updates. There was no escaping Gustav. Every few hours new updates on the storm came through. It was headed a little more east. Now it is more west. It is getting stronger. Land fall is set for New Orleans. Now it is west Louisiana, and now it is somewhere in between. The only predictable thing about this storm was its unpredictability. I have heard too much Gustav updates recycled to the umteenth power with no new information that I would have preferred to fight Gustav himself than listen to another minute of hurricane information. I went for a run to get away from Gustav.

On Sunday gray and black clouds chased each other as my mother and I went to mass. Attendance was sparse as people were evacuating from the very place to which we evacuated: this made us nervous. It wasn’t that the storm was going to hit us that made the reality difficult. It was the waiting. It was your mind guessing and wondering how much damage is going to happen and to every tree we’d silently ask “How much wind can you handle? If you fall won’t you please fall in a good direction?” The media didn’t help either, for by now all the casters were speaking with strained, over worked voices and their exhaustion could not be hid by any amount of makeup, lighting, or camera angle. Their heavy eyelids and staggering voices smoke more about their mental and physical state than their slouching shoulders and blue blazers. Moreover, the Parish President did nothing to ease the burden by ending his last address with “God have mercy on us all.” Nor did the Mayor of New Orleans help when he very frankly told the citizenry to “be afraid.”

7:48 Sunday evening, the power failed, the wind picked up and the rain began falling like crashing waves. What a relief to have a break from the TV news. Gustav could be heard for the first time in all his terrible glory beating against the house. The wind moaned and called us to window just in time to Gustav push over a tree in a loud crack and land across my neighbor’s front yard. The break didn’t last long, for moments after the tree fell my mother anxiously turned the portable radio to the news station and picked up where she left off. The man on the radio told us that Hammond was without power.

Limbs broke. Trees fell. Streets flooded. It was a typical hurricane. We all went outside to escape the climbing indoor temperatures. When one is without power, there is no computer, internet, video games, and maybe even cell phones. The board games and decks of cards emerged (It always seemed to be Professor Plum in the Conservatory with the candlestick). What one discovers during a hurricane is that there is lots of food that needs to be cooked and there are people needed to eat that food. In short, an impromptu gathering happened and people began discovering people. Like in the old days – or at least how I imagine the old days to be. The front porch was filled once more with conversations and laughter, while my grandmother cooked a pot of red beans (we have a gas stove), some gumbo, and fried some fish. She didn’t “want it to spoil.” That evening all the world’s problems were solved on my front porch. If only someone had remembered to bring with them a pen and paper.

That night two of my cousins from down the street came for a visit: one only seven years old and dressed in a shiny, plastic, yellow rain coat fit with rain boots and his mother my first cousin. My seven-year-old cousin was a great break from all this storm business. He didn’t know what was happening. He just thought it was a really bad rain. He became my favorite family member during the hurricane mostly because the deepest and most serious conversation we had that whole week revolved around Pok-e-mon and whether or not Pikachu is better than Riachu. All our arguments ended in the typical manner that all arguments between 7 year olds end, with an endless repetition of him negating my near perfect argument supported from multiple points by the almost indistinguishable, sing-songy, grunt "na-uhu" and me being only able to counter, even with all my education, by replying "yeah hu".

I refused to let him have the final "na-uhu", for the loser was determined by the one who gave up first. Also, I wanted to remember what it is like to have the appetite of infancy and to further develop the strength to endure monotony, after all it is God who says "do it again" to every daisy he makes. We often drove the parents and grandparents crazy with this kind of arguing.

Gustav was finished the following day, but we were without power for a week, which made for sleeping at night in South Louisiana a miserable experience with indoor conditions reaching 85 degrees with 85% humidity. With all the news coverage and build up of the storm, it really was only a strong rain storm with mighty winds, and the out come is what to be expected from a rain storm with strong winds. Many places were without power and water, trees were down, people were hurting, flooding occurred and help was needed.

All that remained was to get clearing the mess Gustav made.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The God Gene

The God Gene

Free Eucharist

In an attempt to promote daily mass and raise interest in the sacraments, I am planning to get some flyers in the classrooms advertising daily mass and confession times around campus (hopefully every classroom). I can finally start finding somethings for the Student Campus Ministers to do, even if it is just a flyer raid on the school. The current flyer is in a working format. I'm trying to figure out what I can do with the text, as at the moment it is very plain, but it does get the message across. I'm also trying to bank on the psychological impact of the word "Free". If you would like a copy of this with a different time and place for you school or church, please contact me and I will edit the picture for you. Also, the image is 8.5 x 11, so you can print it out and copy it using standard paper.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Before Eve

To get a better view use a magnifying glass . . . or just click on the image.



This was in this past Sunday's paper. It raises some interesting theological and philosophical questions. Exactly what was Adam doing before Eve arrived? Was his sadness just?

Monday, September 08, 2008

I Dislike Ike


Creed and Scripture

I'm introducing my 8th graders to a unit on the Creed. We will be unpacking it over the next couple of weeks, but to introduce them to the creed, I am having them look up scriptural texts that correspond to the creedal statements. I'm not a fan of proof-texting scripture, but I thought it might just work as a introduction in showing to the class that the creed is a summary of the Christian Faith and how the early Church Father's could have used the Creed (the Rule of Faith) as the guide for interpreting scripture. If you know of any scriptural verses that might fit better feel free to leave an annotation.

Here is what the finised product might look like [bold statements are from the creed]

We believe in one God (Deut. 6:4),
"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!

the Father (Matt 6:8-9)
Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . .”

the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth of all that is seen and unseen. (Genesis 1:1-2)
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

We believe in one (John 20:28) Lord (John20:28), Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31),
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!”

And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved."

the only Son of God (Matt 3:17; John 1:14; John 3:16),
And a voice came from the heavens, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

the glory as of the Father's only Son

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made (John 1:1-2),
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

one in being with the Father (John 10:30).
"The Father and I are one.”

Through Him all things were made (John 1:3).
All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.

For us men and for our salvation (Matt 1:21)
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins

He came down from heaven (John 1:14)
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us;

by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18)
She was found with child through the holy Spirit.

He was born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1: 27; Luke 2:7),
and the virgin's name was Mary.

and she gave birth to her firstborn son.

and became man. For our sake (Matt 1:21)
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

He was crucified under Pontius Pilate (Luke 23:20-23);
Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him! "Pilate addressed them a third time, "What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him."

He suffered (Luke 23:16, Matt 27:28-31)
Therefore I shall have him [Jesus] flogged

They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.

died (Matt 27:50),
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit.

and was buried (Matt 27:59-60; Luke 23:55).
Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it (in) clean linen and laid it in his new tomb.

The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils.

On the third day He rose in fulfillment of the Scriptures (Luke 24:6);
"Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day."

He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9)
When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

and is seated at the right hand of the Father. (Luke 22:69)
But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.

He will come again in glory (Matt 16:27; Matt 25:31)
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne

to judge the living and the dead (Matt 25: 32-33),
and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

and his kingdom will have no end (Dan 7:13-14).
As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life (John 1:3-4)
What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race

who proceeds from the Father and the Son (John 20:22).
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit.”

With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets (2 Kings 2:9, 15).
When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha answered, "May I receive a double portion of your spirit."

The guild prophets in Jericho, who were on the other side, saw him and said, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha." They went to meet him, bowing to the ground before him.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church (Acts 2:42).
They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
Peter (said) to them, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.

We look for the resurrection of the dead (Dan 12:2),
Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.

and the life of the world to come. (Revelation) Amen.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Mea Culpa

My apologies for being silent on the blog for the past couple of weeks. I have been uber busy organizing retreats and teaching at my new job. I'm sure things will lighten up (meaning I won't have to be at work for 12 hours a day) as soon as I finish retreat assignments for the 1,300 students that must go on a yearly retreat, day of recollection, or evening of reflection. I have no secretary to assist me with this process. Next year I'm going to get a senior lackey to help me with this time consuming task.

Also, South Louisiana just experienced Hurricane Gustav. Though the damage was not as extensive in LA as it was with Katrina and Rita, Gustave managed to do serious damage to the power infrastructure in South LA. I was without power for about 5 days and there are sections of the state (Baton Rouge Area and the southern parishes) that might be without power for over a month. Being without power for 5 days wasn't too bad, if you don't mind 80% humidity combined with 85+ degree heat without any air conditioning, as it gave me time to do some reading and rethink how I am going to teach my sacraments class at school. Plus it gave me time to bond with the family.

I learned that my 7 year old cousin is my favorite family member because the deepest and most serious conversation we had the whole week revolved around Pok-e-mon and whether or not Pikachu is better than Riachu. The argument usually ended in the typical manner that all arguments between 7 year olds end, with an endless repetition of him negating my near perfect argument supported from multiple points by the almost indistinguishable, sing-songy, grunt "na-uhu" and me being only able to counter, even with all my education, by replying "yeah hu".

I refused to let him have the final "na-uhu", for the loser was determined by the one who gave up first. Also, I wanted to remember what it is like to have the appetite of infancy and to further develop the strength to endure monotony, after all it is God who says "do it again" to every daisy he makes. We often drove the parents and grandparents crazy with this kind of arguing.

On a more serious note. There is something strange and surreal when one hears from every branch of government and all levels of weather forecasting that come Tuesday morning the part of the city in which you live, the part of the city that Katrina did not impact will be flooded by a 25 foot flood surge. Like the second act of a bad play, Gustav will finish the job that Katrina didn’t and on almost the same date as Katrina and just off the heals of the Decadence Festival. Luckily this did not happen, but what was I to think? The government said it was going to happen this say. So, with my mother and grand mother we evacuated to Hammond, LA.

So what exactly do you take with you when the city council, mayor, parish president, governor and the news casters say you will be flooded and all your stuff will be lost if it is not taken with you? I have a space in my small SUV that is about 4’ x 4’ x 6’. This is my box and this is most likely what I would have owned for some time after the storm if the speculations proved true. It is an easy decision at first, you take your important documents (diplomas, car slips, death certificates, wills, passports, birth certificates, loan information, etc.), but after this the choices get more complicated. Clothes is a given . . . but how much and which ones: suit, sports coats, work clothes, and some shorts and tshirts. I have hundreds of books, which ones do I take? Argh, good bye Kreeft, Lewis, Tolkien, Chesterton. In my limited space I decided to take only those few books that I knew were out of print: Meditation on the Passion, The Life of Christ, and a pre-Thurston edition of Butler's Lives of the Saints, and I also took my school books from work. I also grabbed the photo albums that my mom forgot to pack in her car as well as my father's guns -- he collected guns and had several nice pieces in addition to his hunting weaponry.

But the questions always kept coming back, "How much of this stuff do I take, and what is the essential stuff that I must take?" I didn't really like that trip to the Grand Canyon my family took when I was a kid (I'd probably like it more now if I made the same journey today), but my mom has a whole album of the trip chronializing our expedition from the front door in New Orelans to the canyon and back again, and it is a good collection of picture of my dad (who passes away about one year ago): nuf said, it goes. I had to plan for the worse, as that is what the Media was saying would happen, so "are two pair of dress shoes essential or just one?" If I only pack one, I might be able to squeeze in something else that might be deemed more important.

When it really came down to it, evacuating and being forced to select the 'important' things from your belongings really allowed me to see how much stuff and junk I really have that isn't all that important in the long run. Naturally, I would have been upset if I had lost all my stuff and if my Butler's Lives of the Saints slept with the fishies, but most of it really is just replaceable stuff.
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