September 2005 Archives

smocktwins update

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that's donovan on the left and davis at right

Happy Feast Day of St. Jerome!

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God's angry man, His crotchety scholar,
Was Saint Jerome,
The great name-caller,
Who cared not a dime
For the laws of libel
And in his spare time
Translated the Bible.
Quick to disparage
All joys but learning,
Jerome thought marriage
Better than burning;
But didn't like woman's
Painted cheeks;
Didn't like Romans,
Didn't like Greeks,
Hated Pagans
For their Pagan ways,
Yet doted on Cicero all his days.

A born reformer, cross and gifted
He scolded mankind
Sterner than Swift did;
Worked to save
The world from the Heathen;
Fled to a cave
For peace to breathe in,
Promptly wherewith
For miles around
He filled the air with
Fury and sound.
In mighty prose
For almighty ends,
He thrust at his foes,
Quarreled with his friends,
And served his Master,
Though with complaint.
He wasn't a plaster
Sort of saint.

But he swelled men's minds
With a Christian leaven.
It takes all kinds
To make a heaven.

-----Phyllis McGinley

Oh, Elisabeth!

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....Did you have to bang me upside the head so EARLY this morning?

The cause of our discontent: We simply do not believe God. The wilderness experience leads to the Promised Land. It is the path God chose for us. His Word is established forever, and He tells us in a thousand ways that His will is our peace, His choices for us will lead to fulfillment and joy, the way of transgressors is hard. Do we suppose that we could find a better way than His? .......

The worst pains we experience are not those of the suffering itself but of our stubborn resistance to it, our resolute insistence on our independence. To be "crucified with Christ" means what Oswald Chambers calls "breaking the husk" of that independence. "Has that break come?" he asks. "All the rest is pious fraud." And you and I know, in our heart of hearts, that that sword-thrust (so typical of Chambers!) is the straight truth.

If we reject this cross, we will not find it in this world again. Here is the opportunity offered. Be patient. Wait on the Lord for whatever He appoints, wait quietly, wait trustingly. He holds every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year in His hands. Thank Him in advance for what the future holds, for He is already there. "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup" (Psalm 16:5, NIV). Shall we not gladly say, "I'll take it, Lord! YES! I'll trust you for everything. Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

From my daily Elisabeth Elliot devotional.

Feast of the Archangels

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Around the throne of God a band
Of bright and glorious angels stand;
Sweet harps within their hands they hold,
And on their heads are crowns of gold.

Some wait around Him ready still
To sing His praise and do His will,
And some, when He commands them, go
To guard His servants here below.

Lord, give Thine angels every day
Command to guard us on our way,
And bid them every evening keep
Their watch around us while we sleep.

So shall no wicked thing draw near
To do us harm or cause us fear;
And we shall dwell, when life is past,
With angels round Thy throne at last.

-------words by John M. Neale, 1842, Hymns for Children

Students Day of Silent Solidarity

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"are you willing to give up your voice for a day for those who have none?"

speaking of birthdays...

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You Are 28 Years Old
Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

please help the smock

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does anyone know of any quotes given by Popes or from the Church specifically on supporting Catholic education?


Note to smock: I bumped this to the top, 'cause I know what you need it for. I don't want it to get lost under my blatherings.


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Your Blogging Type is Confident and Insightful
You've got a ton of brain power, and you leverage it into brilliant blog.
Both creative and logical, you come up with amazing ideas and insights.
A total perfectionist, you find yourself revising and rewriting posts a lot of the time.
You blog for yourself - and you don't care how popular (or unpopular) your blog is!

About right, except for that brain power and perfectionist thing. I'm no brain and I only review once and then either post or delete.

Wouldn't ya'll just LOVE to know what I've deleted?

I can hear you now, "How can she possibly have deleted anything with as much as she puts on the blog? Good grief! If there were any WORSE quality out there, no one would read it!"

And that's what I think, too.

This week's communion hymn:


And now, O Father, mindful of the love
That bought us, once for all, on Calvary’s tree,
And having with us Him that pleads above,
We here present, we here spread forth to Thee,
That only offering perfect in Thine eyes,
The one true, pure, immortal sacrifice.

Look, Father, look on His anointed face,
And only look on us as found in Him;
Look not on our misusings of Thy grace,
Our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim;
For lo! between our sins and their reward,
We set the passion of Thy Son our Lord.

And then for those, our dearest and our best,
By this prevailing presence we appeal;
O fold them closer to Thy mercy’s breast!
O do Thine utmost for their souls’ true weal!
From tainting mischief keep them white and clear,
And crown Thy gifts with strength to persevere.

And so we come; O draw us to Thy feet,
Most patient Savior, Who canst love us still!
And by this food, so awful and so sweet,
Deliver us from every touch of ill:
In Thine own service make us glad and free,
And grant us nevermore to part with Thee.

Sung at SMV to the tune Unde et memores, though it can also be sung to Gibbons Song 24 (or something like that).

Every stanza of this hymn is perfect, and meets me exactly where I am. From Look not on our misusings of Thy grace, Our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim all the way through In thine own service make us glad and free, it hits home.

One of my favorites from childhood:

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st Thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold:
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer,
Sin, and Satan and the grave,
Sin, and Satan and the grave.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.

Sung in our parish to Cwm Rhondda, although there are other tunes that will work for it. Check out cyberhymnal, if you need the tune!

You've just got to love any hymn that has the word thralldom in it, huh?

Ah, bummer....

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....I had a feeling that the New Pride and Prejudice movie (with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth) might turn out this way. Here's part of Charlotte Allen's (of the International Women's Forum) take on her screening:

Not only is there little electricity between the two leads, even when McFadyen makes like Heathcliffe with Knightley out on the moors (I kept waiting for the return of Sutherland and the gloriously wicked Judi Dench as Lady Catherine) but the filmmakers have done it again: They cannot make a historical movie with a female heroine without turning said heroine into a proto-Third Wave feminist. Knightley never looks or acts period for a single second, although she bravely mouths many of Jane Austen’s lovely and graceful sentences. One clue to what’s wrong: A la Reese Witherspoon in the recent Vanity Fair, Knightley hardly ever dons a bonnet, although head-coverings were de rigeur back then for young ladies venturing out of their own parlors.

"I liked the television version better," sighed one of the silver-haired matinee ladies, referring to the Colin Firth version of a decade ago.

So did I.

I bet I will too!

Book #47 of 2005 finished!


#47: The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat. I picked this up this weekend at my mother's house. I don't know why she had it--I think she had read a review of it somewhere. It is certainly not her usual type of reading.

Danticat writes about Haiti. In this novel, she tells the story of a man who at first seems a model citizen, a barber in a Brooklyn neighbor, a Haitian expatriate, whose daughter has used him as a subject for her artistic works, feeding on his assumed past as a prisoner. As it turns out he was the hunter, "not the prey." This realization shocks the daughter into questioning everything. The rest of the novel is a series of vignettes about people whose life the torturer touched.

In some ways, the book reads more as a series of short stories; but all the stories have the father as at least a peripheral figure. The evocation of Haiti both under Baby Doc and after his departure is searing and heart-breaking.

The question remains open at the end--is there atonement and redemption for such a man? And how is it gained?

Not for the squeamish, but a challenging read......

The 23:5 meme

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From Alicia at Fructus Ventris (link to the right).

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to it).
3. Find the 5th sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Tomorrow, the day the tubes are to be disconnected, is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila

This was from October 2003, and was the time they removed Terri Schiavo's feeding tube and then had to reinsert it later.

So much water under the bridge since then.......

Today's scripture verse from Catholic Exchange:

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not
frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

....over the glowing review that Christianity Today gave the movie Corpse Bride. You can read it here.

Here's the last paragraph of the review (which gave the movie 3 1/2 stars out of 4):

Not all Christians are going to appreciate this film, unable to separate fantasy from reality. A general rule of thumb: If you tend to boycott all things related to Halloween, you might think twice about this film. But make no mistake, stop-motion is a form of animation, and unless the forthcoming Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit is more impressive, this movie is the frontrunner to win the 2006 Academy Award for Best Animated Film. Sweet, funny, clever, occasionally creepy, and sometimes poignant—there's plenty of life in this Corpse Bride.

So, I hied myself on over to Steven Greydanus' Decent Films Guide to see what he thought. Again 3 1/2 stars out of four, a "B" recommendation. Teens and up, some questionable moral content. Better than I had anticipated. I think it's on my list of "like to sees"!

Happy 2nd Blog-birthday to US!

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MamaT and Smock celebrate two years of online fun with a little cake.
Here's to another great year. Thank you readers and friends--you make it FUN!

Yee Haw!

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How 'bout this New York Times article about the number of Ivy League women graduates who plan to work part time or stay at home when they start having children.

And here's something that made me laugh and bang my head on the desk all at once:

For many feminists, it may come as a shock to hear how unbothered many young women at the nation's top schools are by the strictures of traditional roles.

"They are still thinking of this as a private issue; they're accepting it," said Laura Wexler, a professor of American studies and women's and gender studies at Yale. "Women have been given full-time working career opportunities and encouragement with no social changes to support it.

"I really believed 25 years ago," Dr. Wexler added, "that this would be solved by now."

Yep. Darn those women. They just won't BEHAVE!

the exorcism of emily rose

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yes, i spent my birthday in a darkened theater watching the exorcism of emily rose. before i go any further, i want you to know i'm the biggest horror weenie this side of the mason-dixon line and that i was 34 (yes, that was just this year) before i could force myself to watch an edited for television version of the exorcist, which was TiVo'd so that i could fast forward and mute the blasted thing. oh, and i watched the majority of it from behind a pillow, too. i had absolutely no intention of seeing this movie until...

1. i saw a documentary on the discovery channel about exorcisms and they flashed a few scenes from this movie. tom wilkinson played the priest. smockdaddy said, "you'll see it. even if it's only because your buddy tom's in it." i've been a huge tom wilkinson fan since the full monty. then the next scene showed laura linney. i'm also inclined to see anything she's performing in, too. talk about star power.

2. fast forward and i hear from mamaT that there's a good article about the movie and (i hope it's okay to spill the beans about mamaT) she confessed she might like to see the movie. further reason to see the film as far as i'm concerned.

3. then i found out that several reviewers were whining because it was a courtroom drama masquerading as a horror flick. ooo, courtroom drama. i like that.

4. the twins nursed at six o'clock and we wanted to see a movie that i could see and still be home in time for their next feeding ... emily rose started at six thirty. viola!

tom wilkinson is endearing as father moore, laura linney is perfect as his attorney, and it was refreshing to see mary beth hurt as the judge. young jennifer carpenter made me care for her emily and then totally freaked me out. i truly expected to be hiding behind smockdaddy through the exorcism itself, but my "maternal" kicked in and i ended up crying the whole time for emily.

people looking for brainless shock n' gore fest are going to be terribly disappointed. i think the biggest problem was the film's marketing -- it's trying to draw in a horror crowd, totally underestimating the draw of the intelligent viewer. of course, it pulled in a huge profit within its first few weeks, so i guess they knew what they were doing.

smock's bottom line: this is an intelligent movie that expects its audience to be equally intelligent and asks only that the viewer be open to possibility of the supernatural. it's worth the full price of admission.

by the way, another good movie that you can see tom play a priest in is molokai: the story of father damien . he doesn't play a major role, but it's a good movie and is also based on a true story.

I'm doing the Library Thing thing.....

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And you can check out what I've cataloged so far with a link from this:

Eventually I'll move this to the sidebar, but I'm just not up to messing with the template tonight. (If you hit refresh, you'll get a new random sampling!)

I have a lot of books missing. Hey! You got any of 'em?

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We all love you!

Books #45 and #46 of 2005 finished


#45: When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakeable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances by Carol Kent. I read this book as a result of a review in the Christianity Books and Culture newsletter. Kent was a Christian (Protestant) motivational speaker with everything going her way. In fact, her book starts out with her retelling of a walk on the beach with her husband, that ended with her saying, "Can life get any better than this?"

Within two weeks, they received one of those dreaded night time phone calls. You know, the call that means that something is really wrong. For them it was not a death, but the news that their only son--Mr. Everything and a graduate of the Naval Academy, a new husband and stepfather--was in custody in Orlando Florida, with charges of first degree murder being filed against him.

Mrs. Kent traces their story from this sad beginning throughout the trial (30 months later), sentencing and imprisonment of her son. Along the way she had to make the decision: turn away from God in the face of unspeakable pain or run to him, even though full of grief, anger and pain.

She relates everything to the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham--and having to be willing to lay our Isaacs down--whether our Isaacs are our children or our plans or our hopes or our health or our lives.

It's a book I'm glad I read.

#46: "Are You There Alone?": The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates by Suzanne O'Malley.

I suppose every mother wonders what happens in the mind of another mother who goes over the edge and murders her own children. O'Malley covered the trial and wrote for O magazine and Newsweek. This is her take on the whole thing from phone call to the police to the incarceration of Andrea Yates.

I found it surprisingly even handed in its treatment of the whole thing, especially of the husband, Rusty Yates. Around here there was a lot of animus against him, and I expected (largely because of her work for O magazine) that O'Malley would be on the anti-male bandwagon that I find so prevalent in women's magazines. In this book, however, he comes across as a man who did the best he knew how. Who loved his wife and children. And who was absolutely blind-sided by the amount of criticism he took by people who didn't have the faintest idea about who he was or what type of relationship he and his wife had.

Andrea Yates was convicted of murder, and sentenced to life in prison.


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An essay from Christianity Today about the classic novel Charlotte's Web. Go. Read. Enjoy.

hellish news

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Washington, D.C. — “The National Abortion Federation is currently exhibiting a most disgusting twist on charitable giving,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. “In an expression of ‘deepest sympathy’ for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, this organization of abortion providers is seeking funding to offer free or reduced-cost abortions to women forced from their homes by Hurricane Katrina. How can anyone possibly suggest that a mother in distress could benefit by killing her preborn child?”

The National Abortion Federation is providing a list of abortion facilities in the nation that have offered free abortions — and asking for contributions to its referral hotline to defray costs for storm victims “who lack the resources to pay for the abortion care they need.”

read more: Group offers free abortions for hurricane survivors
By NewsWires


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This is definitely worth a read. Written from a completely different view point from my own, she comes up with what I believe to be one of the most heart-wrenching discussions of "birth dearth" I've read in a long time.

Here's an excerpt, but do yourself the favor and go read the whole thing.

To be almost ridiculously sweeping: baby boomers and their offspring have shifted emphasis from the communal to the individual, from the future to the present, from virtue to personal satisfaction. Increasingly secular, we pledge allegiance to lower-case gods of our private devising. We are less concerned with leading a good life than the good life. We are less likely than our predecessors to ask ourselves whether we serve a greater social purpose; we are more likely to ask if we are happy. We shun values such as self-sacrifice and duty as the pitfalls of suckers. We give little thought to the perpetuation of lineage, culture or nation; we take our heritage for granted. We are ahistorical. We measure the value of our lives within the brackets of our own births and deaths, and don't especially care what happens once we're dead. As we age - oh, so reluctantly! - we are apt to look back on our pasts and ask not 'Did I serve family, God and country?' but 'Did I ever get to Cuba, or run a marathon? Did I take up landscape painting? Was I fat?' We will assess the success of our lives in accordance not with whether they were righteous, but with whether they were interesting and fun.

If that package sounds like one big moral step backwards, the Be Here Now mentality that has converted from 60s catchphrase to entrenched gestalt has its upside. There has to be some value to living for today, since at any given time today is all you've got. We justly cherish characters capable of fully inhabiting "the moment", of living, as a drummer might say, "in the pocket". We admire go-getters determined to pack their lives with as much various experience as time and money provide, who never stop learning, engaging, and savouring what every day offers - in contrast to dour killjoys who are resentful and begrudging as they bitterly do their duty. For the role of humble server, helpmate and facilitator no longer to constitute the sole model of womanhood surely represents progress for which I am personally grateful. Furthermore, prosperity may naturally lead any well-off citizenry to the final frontier: the self, whose borders are as narrow or infinite as we make them.

Yet the biggest social casualty of Be Here Now is children, who have converted from obligation to option, like heated seats in the car. In deciding what in times past was never a choice, we don't consider the importance of raising another generation of our own people, however we might choose to define them. The question is whether kids will make us happy.

A very interesting approach to charity


....can be found here at Modest Needs.

They are attempting to help folks who are generally self-supporting, but have run into that one setback that could really hurt their self-sufficiency.

Of course, right now, the bulk of things on the "ledger" are Katrina victims. But if you read a little further, you find people who need $100 to help with an electric bill or $250 for a trip to the dentist.

The largest grants available are $1000. The average grant about $180. This isn't big stuff. But it is the stuff that can start a downward spiral for those living paycheck to paycheck. (And who among us hasn't done THAT?)

Getting to Know You Meme

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Valerie over at Barefoot and Pregnant, tagged Smock and I for this meme. Sorry it took so long, Valerie! My head's been elsewhere!

Getting to Know Me.....

5 things I plan to do before I die:

1. See my grandchildren, and, I hope, my great-grandchildren.
2. Go to Paris
3. Go to London
4. Redo my kitchen
5. Learn to quilt

5 things I can do:

1. Crochet
2. Tole paint
3. Write blog entries, but not very well
4. Cook a lovely supper
5. Make people feel loved (I think. I hope!)

5 things I cannot do:

1. Arrange flowers
2. Play any instrument well
3. Be merciful
4. Sing well enough to be in ANY choir
5. Clean house on an ongoing, routine basis

5 things that attract me to the opposite sex:

1. Sense of humor
2. Intelligence
3. Strong faith - now this is true, but when I married (26 years ago!) it wasn't
4. Attractive - to me (and that's a very wide range. I find MANY people attractive)
5. A sense of manliness

5 things I say most often:

1. That's bizarre!
2. On the other hand.... (This drives my friends crazy)
3. Not that tone of voice, please!
4. Ya think?
5. No way!

5 celebrity crushes:

1. Mel Gibson
2. Will Smith
3. Dennis Quaid
4. Mark Steyn (writer on National Review)
5. Thomas Howard
6. Peter Kreeft (had to add him!)
7. Bill Luse, TSO, and Steven Riddle

OK, Smock, it's your turn!

Ahoy Mateys!

pirate.jpg is Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Students at MIT....


....who don't have enough to do, obviously, have put a Story Fun website up. It's like mad-libs. And addictive.


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Reading my Elisabeth Elliot email for one day this week, I came across this:

Yesterday as I was reading my brother Tom's book, The Achievement of C.S. Lewis, I was admiring again the scope of his knowledge, his ability to comprehend another's genius, and his wonderful command of English. By contrast my own limitations seemed severe indeed. They are of many kinds--analytical, critical, articulatory, not to mention educational. But my limitations, placing me in a different category from Tom Howard's or anyone else's, become, in the sovereignty of God, gifts. For it is with the equipment that I have been given that I am to glorify God. It is this job, not that one, that He gave me.

Now, the words are glorious enough, but she is Thomas Howard's SISTER???????

Two of my very favorite spiritual/inspirational writers are brother and sister?

That is way beyond belief. I never knew.

Great hymn from today:


Eternal Ruler of the ceaseless round
Of circling planets singing on their way,
Guide of the nations from the night profound
Into the glory of the perfect day,
Rule in our hearts, that we may ever be
Guided and strengthened and upheld by Thee.

We are of Thee, the children of Thy love,
The brothers of Thy well belovèd Son;
Descend, O Holy Spirit, like a dove
Into our hearts, that we may be as one;
As one with Thee, to Whom we ever tend;
As one with Him our Brother and our Friend.

We would be one in hatred of all wrong,
One in our love of all things sweet and fair;
One with the joy that breaketh into song,
One with the grief that trembleth into prayer,
One in the power that makes Thy children free
To follow truth, and thus to follow Thee.

O clothe us with Thy heavenly armor, Lord,
Thy trusty shield, Thy sword of love divine;
Our inspiration be Thy constant Word;
We ask no victories that are not Thine;
Give or withhold, let pain or pleasure be,
Enough to know that we are serving Thee.

Sung to the tune Gibbons. Check out for the tune if you don't know it.

We have had a series of 5 or 6 new comments on an old post. Apparently people got to an old post of the Smock's where reference was made to an event between a certain female movie star and a certain country western singer. I'm not putting their names in because I don't want to cause any more random people to land at the Summa Mamas to discuss those two folks' divorce.

But for any of you who may be coming back to respond to your comment string:

1. The use of the "f-word" is not tolerated on this blog. Its use alone is enough to get your comment deleted.

2. Any comment that is hateful to another commenter will probably be deleted, if I can't clean it up enough to let it stand. This will be done at my sole discretion. Get over it. If I were having a party in my home, and one guest began personally attacking another, I would have no qualms in shoving that person out the door. Why would you think I would have any problem doing that here?

3. Contrary to the stated beliefs of one of the commenters, a blog is NOT a "public forum", unless the blog has been set up as a place for raging debate. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, just so you know. This is Summa Mama World. You want to say, without reservation, without worry, without editing, any vile thing that crosses your mind? Get your own blog.

4. We do allow debate on this blog. HOWEVER, if you want to debate, you must realize that debate is not, and has never been, the process of calling another person a vile name and acting as if that closed the case. It does close the case, but it closes it on YOU.

5. If you do want to disagree with something, we expect you to do so with a REAL INTERNET ADDRESS and/or a link to a REAL WEBSITE or BLOG. I will summarily dismiss any contentious comment that is anonymous. If'n you don't have the courage to debate as a real live person, you don't have the courage to debate at all.

6. Just remember: This is not a place where you will be allowed to shout at other people or write on the walls with the cyber-equivalent of a magic marker.

Stop it. Period.

Friday Feast, ya'll!

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Do your closer friends tend to be male or female? Why do you think that is?

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent, what would it be?

Name a household cleaning item that you would recommend to others.

Main Course
What do you strive for in life?

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how funny do you consider yourself?

I'm #1 in the comments box.

Book #44 of 2005 finished!

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#44: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

This is a really different book. First, let me say that I loved it! BUT, if you are a person who enjoys books driven by action and plot, this book is probably not your cup of tea.

This is the story of John Ames, a 76 year old preacher, who has found out that he is dying of a heart ailment. He has a 7 year old son, and decides to write a diary, or a memoir, for his son to read when he is older and John is gone.

John Ames lives, and except for seminary years has always lived, in Gilead, Iowa, a tiny town on the edge of nowhere. His father and grandfather were preachers as well, and his best friend, "old Boughton", is a Presbyterian minister in the little town.

Ames' grandfather was an abolitionist preacher, who came to the area when Kansas was being admitted to the Union, before the Civil War. He had had a vision of Christ in chains, which he took to mean that he was to keep the evil of slavery out of the new state.

Ames' father was a dedicated pacifist, much to the disappointment of the fiery grandfather. The tension remained between them always. And that's only one of the episodes that the book deals with.

The story is done almost in diary form, so you get pieces of each story at a time. You start to think one thing, then get further information and revise a little. Then a little more. Then a little more. No villains--only fallible people.

So the book is a luminous rumination on life and death, fathers and sons, earthly life and heavenly life, family and solitude. It is worth your time.

Here's a little excerpt:

You and Tobias are hopping around in the sprinkler. The sprinkler is a magnificent invention because it exposes raindrops to sunshine. That does occur in nature, but it is rare. When I was in seminary I used to go sometimes to watch the Baptists down at the river. It was something to see the preacher lifting the one who was being baptized up out of the water and the water pouring off the garments and the hair. It did look like a birth or a resurrection. For us the water just heightens the touch of the pastor's hand on the sweet bones of the head, sort of like making an electrical connection. I've always loved to baptize people, though I have sometimes wished there were more shimmer and splash involved in the way we go about it. Well, but you two are dancing around in your iridescent little downpour, whooping and stomping as sane poeple ought to do when they encounter a thing so miraculous as water.

Next up? When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances by Carol Kent. (And I continue to read The Spirit of the Liturgy.)

3 AM smockservation

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vacuuming looks much more fun and exciting on infomertials than in my house.

Books #42 and #43 of 2005 finished!

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#42: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. The first Thursday Next novel. A clever novel--Thursday Next is a LiteraTec, and is on the trail of Acheron Hades, who has stolen the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit. He attempts to hold the manuscript for ransom, after killing a minor character in the book. When he doesn't get what he wants, he goes for even bigger prey: Jane Eyre. Thursday chases him into the novel (you gotta read it to get how that happens) and kills him there, and changes the end of the novel, which is a big no-no. (Her change makes it end the way we are familiar with the novel.)

You've gotta be a bibliophile to like the Fforde novels. We listened to the 4th in the series on our vacation. I actually liked it better than I liked this one. But I think Fforde is really just writing the same novel repeatedly, and shouting out "Look at me! Look how clever I am!"

So, after finishing the Fforde novel, I decided to read book #43: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I can't remember whether I ever read this before, or whether I had just seen the movie that was out about 5 years ago. Anyway, I think it was one of those novels that I had started. And started. And started. But it never got finished. Well, now it's finished. No need for me to go into plot points or characters, and I am sure most of you know all about it and I was the last reasonably well-read person to have never gotten around to the classic.

I can say this: I liked Jane Eyre about a million times better than I liked Wuthering Heights, by Charlotte's sister Emily.

Currently reading: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and The Spirit of the Liturgy by PBXVI.

Gilead is awesome so far, and is our book group's selection this month. I should be finished with it by Thursday. That's when the meeting is!!!

Now, may our God be our hope. He who made all things is better than all things. He who made all beautiful things is more beautiful than all of them. He who made all mighty things is more mighty than all of them. He who made all great things is greater than all of them.

Learn to love the Creator in his creature, and the maker in what he has made.

-- Commentary on Psalm 39, 9

Yesterday's toweringly great hymn.....

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.....which I cried through the last half of, like the big old doofus I am:

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!


O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!


Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.


Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.


And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!


And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.


Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!


Sung to the tune Lasst Uns Er­freu­en. Go to Cyberhymnal to hear the tune if you need to. Then I dare you to really sing it all the way through without a tear coming to your eye.

St. Francis, ora pro nobis.

.....maybe we'd do this for our Christmas present for each other.

Since we don't, I suppose it'll be perfume and books.

......stuck behind the back seat of a sedan while I was reading the Anthony Esolen article The Work of Human Hands: When Catholicism Becomes a Hobby in the latest issue of crisis magazine. I agreed so much that you would have though my head was on a little hanger, I was nodding so often. As I have mentioned before, I am also reading PBXVI's The Spirit of the Liturgy, which Esolen has obviously taken much to heart in writing the article.

The article is not available, as yet, on the crisis website. I suspect it will be next month (after the next issue comes out). Remind yourself to go there and read it then, if you've not got a subscription to the magazine.

Here's a little sample:

For we are assured by plenty of Catholic theologians--whose god is rather a puffy version of their haute-couture Western selves--that we are the Church, just as Americans are America and Italians are Italy. I doubt that such a belief bodes well for America or Italy; for the Church it means destruction. It means that we may amend what the Church teaches, updating it for our current desires. That nowadays those desires are most often of the sexually indulgent variety is hardly to the point; another age might indulge human bondage, or the view that men ought to be manufactured as machines for the greater good of the whole. The point, says Benedict, is that to treat the Church as a polity is to treat it as a human work. Those who do so, he concludes, preach a salvation by works. With a stunning nod to the deep truth that Luther saw, he notes that such a salvation by works is expressly denied by the New Testament.

And then again:

...The clergy and laymen who cause the most harm in our Church right now are not those few who think of the Church as a powerful job. They are those, and their name is Legion, who think of the Church as a delightful and self-fulfilling hobby. We all risk falling for that lie.

You know whereof I speak. Sashaying choristers with frilly robes, in full view of the congregation, drawing pleasant attention to themselves rather than leading the faithful in a self-forgetting worship of God. Soloists, under a tingly spotlight, crooning into the microphone and writhing for emphasis, wailing the Sunday blues at Saint Cecilia's piano bar; one might fancy they'd turn their hats upside down to collect tips from the communicants, except that nobody wears a hat to church, and the crooner often displays other parts of her body in more urgent need of cover. Rows and rows of the finest virtuosos, of lectors and lectresses, the Everyday Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, the Liturgical Commissars, Commissars of Religious Education, the Financial Commissar, the Grand Imperial Mystic Wizards of the Parish Council, and thank God for one person who actually does work that is humble, unnoticed, and quite necessary, the janitor.

Let me be clear that I mean no disrespect to those lectors, EMEs, teachers, bookkeepers, and others, even singers, who relieve our overburdened priests and who do their work unobtrusively and humbly, aware that they are not worthy of doing it, and praying that they will perform it in such a way as to help lead some soul to God, or at least not get in that soul's way......

I think he's on to something, and I speak from experience. I sit on the Parish Council of my parish, because I am the treasurer of the Parish. It is always, always a temptation to see oneself as overly important in the grand scheme of things. Of forgetting that it is Christ who is the head of St. Mary's, not those of us who worry and decide and futz on about the budget. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are "humble laborers in the vineyard of the Lord", to quote a certain someone who is much smarter (and more humble) than I am!

It is hard to smacked up the side of the head with an article so on point as this one. Thank you, Mr. Esolen. I needed that.

Friday Feast, ya'll!

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Who is the easiest person for you to talk to?

If you could live in any ancient city during the height of the quality of its society and culture, which one would you choose?

What is the most exciting event you've ever witnessed?

Main Course
If you were a celebrity, what would you do for a publicity stunt?

What do you consider the ideal age to have a first child?

I'm first in the comments box!

vanity, thy name is SMKMOM

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i cannot tell a lie, i love vanity plates. i've never had one, but ever since i was a wee lass i've wanted to own a pair. when i was in the fourth grade, i used to walk home from school and i passed this great looking car that had plates reading "I LUV UT". it took me forever to decipher the plates, making it seem all the more exotic, i'm sure; and, i thought it was the coolest thing in the world that this person had chosen their own message.

my mom's plate had some boring old number-letter combination that didn't mean anything. i had the notion that the poor shmo who banged out my mom's plates in his prison cell was a very boring criminal indeed. absolutely no imagination.

although i've toyed with the idea of getting plates ever since i can remember, i've never actually been able to justify shelling out the extra $40 bucks. my first car had plates with "XYZ" on them and i thought that was pretty cool for a plate i just got at random. my plates now read "Texas Truck" above the number which is redundant iffin' you ask me. of course, mamaT may beg to differ with her wittle VW bug. which, in my not-so humble opinion, just begs for a vanity plate. some cars are like that, you know, and VW bugs are definately vanity plate material.

so while i fantasize about getting vanity plates, i can't decide what i'd get if i decide to go for it. in the meantime, here's an interesting site about vanity plates.

ain't that the truth?

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A man walking along a California beach was deep in prayer.

Suddenly, the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said, "Because you have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."

The man said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over anytime I want."

The Lord said, "Your request is very materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that would honor and glorify me."

The man thought about it for a long time.

Finally he said, "Lord, I wish that I could understand my wife. I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's wrong, and how I can make a woman truly happy."

Yesterday's movie



Steven Greydanus of The Decent Films Guide liked this movie a WHOLE lot more than I did. Read his review here.

I kept wondering about little things: how come they didn't jerk Tom Cruise's security clearance? Don't eyeballs ever go bad? How come those other eyeball transplant people didn't eat their sandwiches? And how come the guy doing the transplant didn't kill Tom Cruise?

But, cool special effects. Really cool. Cars going up the sides of buildings. Advertisements that scream your name (my idea of hell). Newspaper stories that move (take that, Harry Potter!).

I'm neutral on the movie. Maybe if I'd seen it earlier, before it was hyped to death???

I cannot even begin to tell you....

| lovely it is to have the high today be only 94 degrees! With the humidity at only 29% or so, it almost feels NICE outside! And the low at 71 degrees? Wheeeeeeee! Thank you, God, for the beginning of the change of seasons! We have to hit plain hot (down from sweltering hot or d*mn hot, depending on your niceness) before we can even think of cool.

Perhaps my brain will begin to work again and I can post something worth reading. Ya think?

Book #41 of 2005 finished!

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Burn Unit: Saving Lives After the Flames by Barbara Ravage. This is a non-fiction book about working on the burn unit at Mass General hospital. Focuses on two cases brought into the unit, and the treatments given to each. Traces the history of burn treatment from the early days of medicine to today. Fascinating look at a scary topic.

Currently reading: The Spirit of the Liturgy by PBXVI (slowly, very slowly) and The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.

Interesting interview...


....with an intriguing title--Horror: The Perfect Christian Genre.

From Christianity Today.

recent smocktwins photo

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donovan is on the left and davis is on the right.

2 television sets in two different rooms, tuned to the same kids' channel
a two year old in a good pair of running shoes

simply point out that dora (blue, mr. rogers, etc.) is on both television sets, sit back and watch the show.


While I am not, in general, a big fan of the martial arts movie, Zteen talked me into this one saying it was "The most beautiful movie I've seen on film." After sitting through it, I would say that I must agree. And, though saying this sounds odd, the fight scene between the two women in the film is truly stunning; from color changes to wind effects, the whole piece is breathtaking.

Story is secondary to the cinematography, though it isn't bad.

Here is the review of Hero on Steven Greydanus' Decent Films Guide site.


It has been a long time since I have seen a movie that I have liked as much as this one. Here we have the story of a 50 something ad salesman whose job is threatened by the arrival of a young hotshot after a big-time corporate acquisition. Dennis Quaid (oh, mama!) plays the 50 something husband, father, honest businessman. Topher Grace plays the young hotshot, and brought a lot of depth to a character that could have just been the standard dotcom type youngblood. His longing for family and a "real life" is palpable on the screen. Scarlett Johanson (who is gorgeous, by the way) does an adequate job as the daughter.

While a couple of the plot points seem far-fetched, it is amazing that it is the functional family, the honest businessman and FAITHFULNESS that are the touchstones of the movie.

Here is a link to the review of In Good Company on the Decent Films site.

About the Katrina catastrophe....

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....and wanting to help.

Remember, folks, this is gonna be a LONG-TERM effort. With refugees headed out of New Orleans and other affected areas and headed to many other cities and towns, it's going to take MONTHS and maybe YEARS to handle the devastation.

If your budget is short this month because of back-to-school expenses or an unexpected trip to the doctor? Don't fret! Pray like crazy now, and open your pocketbook next month or the month after that or the month after that. Trust me, it'll still be needed.

And check with your local charity providers as well. Yes, we've got to get help to New Orleans itself. But Dallas will have more than 25,000 refugees to deal with. Arlington Charities and Mission Arlington are starting to see the first trickles of people who have run out of money at hotels and have nothing to go back to. Fort Worth will see the same soon, if they aren't already. So there will be local efforts and local needs as well.

Do what you can TODAY. But remember there will be tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow. Hunker in for the long haul.

Here's a link....


....if you're still looking for places to donate:

Network for Good

Has links to a multitude of charities. Go. Donate if you can.

Friday Feast, ya'll!

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If someone gave you 3 new goldfish today, what would you name them?

What's the worst movie you've seen this year so far?

If given the chance and you could pick the person, would you want to switch lives with someone on earth for one whole day?

Main Course
What's your favorite season? Name 2 things you love about it.

What is something you frequently buy that you don't really need?

My answers are in the comment box!

As we continue to pray...

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....for those affected by the devastation of Katrina, please remember that those low-life scum trying to profit from other peoples' tragedies are already ramping up. There have been reports of fake web-sites and e-mails soliciting donations for hurricane victims.

Please, please, please give what you can to hurricane relief. The devastation is immense. But make sure that you are giving to a reputable and reliable charity.

Of course, Catholic Charities will accept donations, and most parishes will be taking up second collections for hurricane relief, beginning this weekend. If your parish doesn't take one up and you want to donate via Catholic Charities, here is an address you can mail a donation to:

2005 Hurricane Relief Fund
Catholic Charities USA
PO Box 25168
Alexandria, VA 22313-9788

I know some folks have big issues with Catholic Charities, and prefer a different path for donations. Just be sure to check out the pedigree of the organization you choose to support.

Here is a link to the FEMA website, that contains a list of charities you might want to consider--beginning with the American Red Cross and going through Operation Convoy and a host of others.

Give generously, but give wisely. Make sure your gift is getting to the people that need it, and not to thieves and punks.



About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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