“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

November 27, 2010

Heavenly Eye Candy: The latest images from the Hubble Telescope

These are simply ineffable. Whenever I see this kind picture of the heavenly bodies, I think of the biblical exclamation of awe and wonder:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth! Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouth of babes and infants, thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.”

(click here for more images, or click the stardust above)

November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! (and a bit of wise advice)

For all your TSA humor needs: new bumper stickers

November 21, 2010

Inspiring New Advent Meditations That Will Help You "Prepare The Way of the Lord"

This is really impressive, friends. Please check this out.
We can expand and nourish our minds through the power of words inspired by the Word, such as the meditations contained in Belmont Abbey College theology professor Dr. Ron Thomas’ new booklet and companion CD, Prepare the Way: Daily Meditations for Advent. It's being offered, along with the companion CD of the meditations read by Dr. Thomas.

Please click here to sample the powerful words and beautiful images that await you when you receive your booklet.

Last year, Dr. Ron Thomas wrote a booklet and recorded a companion CD entitled Meditations on the Stations of the Cross, which was ordered by thousands of people all across America to enrich their Lent. In fact, EWTN found Dr. Thomas’ recorded Meditations on the Stations of the Cross to be so powerful and inspiring, they played his meditations on their worldwide radio network every day during Holy Week of 2010.

Imagine beginning each day during Advent by taking some quiet time and meditating on words that will bring you “the peace that surpasses all understanding,” and help you prepare your heart and mind like never before for the coming of Christ. That's how powerful this new Advent meditation booklet is. (And with your new companion CD, you could also do this in your car, helping you maintain peace and calm, even in the midst of rush-hour traffic.)

To sample the audio of one of the daily meditations,
CLICK HERE. (File will open in QuickTime.)
To get all the info on this excellent new book of Advent meditations, please
click here or click the image above. You're all in my prayers in a very special way for a peaceful and blessed Advent.

November 17, 2010

"How I Solved the Catholic Problem" -- Confessions of a Protestant missionary to Guatemala

Guatemala is at a turning point. Historically it's been a 100% Catholic country — but that's changing — rapidly. Demographers predict that early in this century Guatemala will become the first mostly-Protestant Latin American country. This story shows a different side of that trend: How two Evangelical Protestant missionaries went there to convert Catholics and discovered something amazing and life-changing.

By Kristine L. Franklin
The jet made a careful descent between the three volcanoes that ring the sprawl of Guatemala City. It was April 19th, 1992. My husband, Marty, and I had reached the end of eight years of preparation to be Evangelical Protestant missionaries.

We were finally here, excited and eager to settle in Guatemala. We knew our faith would be challenged and stretched, but we were more than ready for it because above all else, we desired to serve God with everything we could offer. Our new life as missionaries had just begun.

I didn't feel even a twinge of regret over what we'd left behind in the States: family, friends, a familiar language and culture, and amenities like clean water and good roads we Americans so often take for granted. In spite of the unknowns ahead, I knew we were being obedient, regardless of the cost. We were living smack in the middle of God's will, and it gave us a great feeling of security. We had given ourselves fully to bringing Christ's light to the darkness of this impoverished, Catholic country.

As the jet touched down onto the bumpy runway, tears welled in my eyes. "Thank you, Jesus," I whispered as I reached over to squeeze my husband's hand. Marty and I had come to the end of a long journey, but we were also beginning a new one. "Some day, Lord," I prayed silently, "I hope this foreign place will feel like home."

I was elated as we walked down the exit ramp from the plane and began the long-awaited adventure of being Protestant missionaries - missionaries sent to "rescue" Catholics from the darkness of their religion's superstition and man-made traditions and bring them into the light of Protestantism.

There's no way I could have known that three years later, almost to the day, my husband and my two children and I would stand holding hands again, elated again, waiting to be received into the Catholic Church. Let me explain what happened that led me, a staunch Evangelical, to become Catholic. . . . (continue reading)

A look at the unraveling of the "seamless garment" faction of U.S. bishops

The Catholic World Report has a good piece on what writer George Neumayr calls "Cardinal O'Conner's Revenge." It thoughtfully explores the underlying reasons why the liberal candidate for president of the USCCB, Bishop Gerald Kikanis, lost yesterday's election to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. It's a brief but good read. Here's the best line: "The irony of Bishop Kicanas’ defeat is that the fingerprints of dissenters are on the weapon that felled him . . ." 

November 16, 2010

I Would Like to Show You More Than This

A few thoughts are in order here:

1) The 80s gave us some truly excellent music and some truly lame music videos.
2) Bryan Ferry is a talented singer-songwriter.
3) The other members of Roxy Music, who are also talented, were (literally) overshadowed in this video.
4) That single note you hear when you see the saxophone player blow when he leans back for his “solo” is actually played on the synthesizer, not the saxophone.
5) Roxy Music's “Avalon” is also a very cool song.
6) Men do not look good when wearing eye-liner and sporting pointy sideburns.
7) Feel free to add any additional thoughts you think are apropos of this.

Battle Toad

“A new toad species with striking red eyes, discovered in the cloud forests of Choc√≥, Colombia.” Photo credit: Robin Moore/iLCP

November 15, 2010

Quantitative Easing: So simple even kids can understand it

Courtesy of The Anchoress (And please excuse the couple of bad words spoken herein.)

What's wrong with this picture? A Catholic nun is frisked by a TSA worker

This is the main photo-story at the Drudge Report right now, accompanied by the headline: THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON.

I don't know about that, but I do know that there's something very disconcerting, indeed quite outrageous, to see a Catholic nun in her religious habit being ignominiously groped by an airport TSA worker. Note that the picture shows what appears to be a hijab (head scarf) being worn by the TSA worker. Think about the irony of that juxtaposition. How many Catholic nuns do you know of who have committed acts of terrorism against an airliner and its passengers & crew? Hmm . . . I can't think of any. Can you? Of course, it's quite possible that it is not a hijab that the worker is wearing. But the picture gives that impression. In itself, it's an insignificant detail, but given the circumstances we're living in these days, it's certainly... remarkable, to say the least.

November 13, 2010

An Apologetics Primer on Explaining the Communion of Saints to Protestants

Every Sunday, millions of Christians around the world recite the Creed, professing their belief in the “communion of saints.” Few realize the importance of this phrase, which is sandwiched between other deep mysteries of the faith.
The Catholic understanding is denounced by many Protestants as “unbiblical.” It’s a bitter irony that the very doctrine of Christian unity has itself become a barrier to unity. The controversy revolves around the question, “Is it biblical to ask the saints in heaven to pray (intercede) for us?”

Catholics say yes. Since Christians are united with each other through Christ, and are commanded to love and pray for one another, Christians on earth can ask Christians in heaven for their prayers.

 Protestants say no. They say that praying to saints undermines Christ’s unique mediatorship, pointing to 1 Timothy 2:5: “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” They 
think asking the saints to intercede for us is in direct conflict with this verse. The Anglican Reformers, under the leadership of Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said, “The Romish doctrine concerning . . . [the] invocation of saints is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but is, rather, repugnant to the Word of God” (39 Articles of Religion, article 22). Vatican II gave the Catholic position . . . (click to continue reading)

November 9, 2010

Peter Kreeft and Robert Spencer Debate the merits and demerits of Islam

Several weeks ago, I heard that this debate was coming up, but I was unable to attend. Two people I know personally and respect, Dr. Peter Kreeft and Robert Spencer, debated the question of Islam. For those of you who know Dr. Kreeft's work, you know he is eminently reasonable, always irenic, and a deep thinker. In fact, as I have gone on record saying many times over the years, I regard Peter Kreeft as our generation's C.S. Lewis.

Robert Spencer, who, like Peter, is a fellow Catholic, has in recent years produced a serious body of in-depth critical scholarship on Islam. His website, jihadwatch.org, is very influential and both widely admired and widely reviled (mainly, though not exclusively, by Muslims). These two men have very different views of Islam and of Muslims, and this debate promises to be an excellent opportunity for both positions to be carefully examined, compared, and contrasted. That's the hallmark of any good debate, in my opinion. I say "promises to be" because I haven't watched this video of the debate yet, though I am just about to do so.

Catholic blogger (and one of my Twitter friends), Lisa Graas, alerted me to the video clip, which I post for you now on my blog. I'd also like to lead off with the beginning of her commentary on the debate (below). And, as ever, I am very interested in knowing what you think of this. So, please, post comments to your heart's content.

Lisa writes:
On Thursday, November 9, 2010, Robert Spencer and Peter Kreeft participated in an historic debate at St. Thomas More College on the topic “Is the Only Good Muslim a Bad Muslim?” Video of this debate is below. 
Kreeft’s final remark:
“I suppose Bob must be right in saying that if everything in the Qur’an must be accepted literally and practiced then these are bad Muslims, so in that sense, I would have to agree with him that the best Muslim is a bad Muslim.”
Any Catholic who cares to understand this issue with any intelligence is strongly encouraged to watch this debate. I also recommend, of course, the catechism and Vatican II, particularly Nostra Aetate. Here are my thoughts on what Vatican II had to say about Jews, Christians and Muslims. . . .

November 3, 2010

Here's the most encouraging headline I've since since yesterday's election

Abortion Groups NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List Dejected After Election
Oh, yeah, baby! I loved seeing that. And I loved seeing this quote from the same LifeNews.com article:
“'Yesterday was a difficult day' for the pro-abortion movement, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards admitted in the opening of an email to supporters of the abortion business today.”

November 1, 2010

"Put no trust in princes, in mere mortals powerless to save" (Psalm 146:3)

I find this picture from today's Drudge Report very poignant and thought-provoking.

Here we are, on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections, and most people seem to sense the palpable unease that is in the air. A great tumult may be not be far off. Tumult and turmoil go hand in hand. And many pessimistic prognosticators have been prognosticating for the past year that something big and bad will happen in the U.S. that will shake things badly. An economic implosion, perhaps, or another successful terrorist attack, a natural disaster, or some kind of event that will provoke wide-spread civil unrest. God forbid! 

I hope they're all wrong. I hope that tomorrow's election will help to stabilize things somewhat and maybe even move us back toward some kind of sanity in our fiscal and social policies. Heaven knows that the damage wrought in the last two years of the current regime's disgusting bacchanalia of spending and social engineering will be hard to correct. Some say impossible. But I am hopeful. Like many of you, I am worried and prayerfully cautious about how things will turn out. I don't put my trust in the princes and princesses of either political party, but I remain hopeful. 

Look at that poor man in the picture. He is not hopeful. He personifies the despair that so many are experiencing these days. See how he kneels (kneels!) in the gutter, hands folded and face set like flint in grim mask of supplication as the presidential limousine whisks by him. I don't know what was in his heart at that moment, and I don't know what his political views are or what he hopes will happen in tomorrow's election. But I am quite moved by this picture. This man represents something very sad to me about the way America has been changing in recent decades, certainly since I was born in 1960. His face reflects an abject servility that is very disconcerting when I think of how cringing and servile so many Americans have become in their attitude toward The Government. How bad can it get, and how long can it go on?

What makes me so sad — and angry, too — is that this disconsolate man should feel so hopeless that he is reduced to kneeling in the gutter in hopes that the occupant of that armored limousine will take notice of his plea for help. I see a look that says, “Please look at me! Live up to your promises. Don't betray me. Don't leave me here in the gutter after you promised to help me me up.”

The Government (certainly not this one) can't save him. It can't save us. It can't even save itself from itself. It devours. It's a necessary evil that seems bent on becoming ever more unnecessary.

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about this poignant image is that it might just as well portend the calm before a storm -- one man's last, ditch effort to get help. And when the limousine passes him by once again, and things just continue getting bleaker, what then?