Friday, January 30, 2004

Miscellaneous Mutterings:
(On David Kay and His Testimony)

As I noted earlier I was planning on commenting on the David Kay subject; however it seems to me that this link says it all rather economically. Mr. Kay does not believe there were stockpiles of WMD's in Iraq. However, it seems that the media wants to focus on the word "stockpiles" and not on the rest of what Mr. Kay had to say on the matter including the following.

Mr. Kay also:

--Does believe that the problem lay in misinformed intelligence sources.

--Does favour an independent inquiry into the intelligence failures.

--Does believe that weapons could nonetheless still be found.

--Does believe that the hunt for weapons should continue.

--Does believe that much evidence had been lost in the immediate aftermath of the war because of the looting and chaos.

--Does believe that some Iraqis probably took advantage of the instability to destroy any evidence of weapons programmes.

--Does not believe that US intelligence had been distorted by government pressure in the run-up to last year's US-led war.

In short, Mr. Kay:

--Does not believe that the Bush Administration lied in spite of liberal buffoons and Deanings assertions to the contrary.

But watch only the first point of the above list be emphasized by those who hate (as opposed to simply dislike or disagree with) President Bush. And watch the assertion that "Bush lied" or someone else in his administration lied. Recall what I noted earlier, about solipsism.{1} That applies in spades with these kinds of people and do not ever forget it.

Note:

{1} I may have to amend the Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG to add the definition of that term since it is so applicable in many ways to a lot of agenda driven partisans.

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On Archbishop Lefebvre, the Indult Liturgy, Etc.

Dear Shawn,

Again, many thanks for the sites, which have been so helpful in answering many of my concerns.

You are welcome.

Would you be kind enough to consider one more question?

Sure.

The most common view of Archbishop Lefebrve in "traditionalist" and Trad circles is that he single-handedly, with the exception of a handful of independent priests, saved the Tridentine Mass from extinction by his defiance of the Vatican mandates re: the Mass and his Society.

Yes, I used to hear that all the time. (Not to mention read it in SSPX-friendly publications.)

His actions are not seen as disobedience for all those various reasons, which I don't need to repeat for you.

Thankyou for sparing me the thousand and first reiteration of that well-beaten subject.

Therefore, if one attends the either the Society Masses or the Indult, you owe the ability to do so to the late Archbp., who is above criticism. (Though not necessarily the SSPX, in their later actions.)

Prior to 1976, Archbishop Lefebvre was heading a movement within the Church with the blessing of the Church authorities. In 1970, he and a few bishops petitioned Pope Paul VI for Indults to celebrate the older liturgy. Pope Paul VI had already made provisions for the private celebration of the Tridentine liturgy for elderly priests who either (i) were unable to learn the new celebratory form of the Roman Missal or (ii) who were able to but wanted to celebrate the older liturgy in their private daily masses.

Archbishop Lefebvre and Cardinal Heenan requested an Indult to celebrate the older liturgy in greater freedom than the limited rescripts of the provisions previously made by the Pope and he approved of them. However, it is important to note that the liturgy at Econe was not celebrated in a uniform manner either at the time or probably even now.{1}

From 1976-1988 the Archbishop cultivated an overtly schismatic mentality and a material schism. However, despite the irregular situation there was no manifested intention to break with the See of Peter. That changed in 1988 when the Vatican gave him a clear line not to cross if he wanted to retain communion with the Church. By choosing to cross that line, he made explicit and formal a previously implicit and material schism.{2} That is the long and short of it really. Your email however involves the end of this situation mainly the widened Indult provision created as a result of the Archbishop's schism.

You ask if this means that those of the Indult owe some debt to His Grace for the Tridentine liturgy being preserved???{3} I suppose one could make this argument but then again, this kind of argument can be extended a lot more than most people would presume. For by the same rationale we probably owe Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli some degree of thanks for the Council of Trent's doctrinal formulations.

So... suppose you really like the TLM and find it a spiritual good, and are grateful for the Indult, which lets you attend it in good conscience.

Ok.

But, in spite of that, you have reservations about taking advantage of a good derived out of disobedience.

I think I see where you are going with this. But every good I can think of is to some extent derived from a previous disobedience or error. I mean, would we have the canon of Scripture if not for forgeries which reached such epic proportions that settling the extent of the canon was viewed as necessary??? Would we have the definition of the Trinity without the heresies of Arius and a couple other heresarches in the fourth and subsequent centuries???

Would we have any of the teaching of any of the Ecumenical Councils or any of the dogmatic judgments of the popes without those who erred prompting such judgments being handed down??? We could also carry this into more recent times as well and ask if the Roman Catechism have been compiled if not for the problems of the sixteenth century viz the handing on of doctrine???

Would we have the benefit today of Pope St. Pius X's crusade to lower the age of communion reception and promote frequent communion reception if not for the rigorous Jansenist heresy -the remaining remnants of which he was clearly opposing??? Would we have the crown jewel of the Catechism of the Catholic Church without the previous period of catechial problems??? The answer I believe to all of these questions is "no."

Please note though, in pointing these out to you I am not in any way condoning the disobedience or error involved in bringing about these situations of course.{4} However, I believe those utilizing the Ecclesia Dei widened Indult (which came about as a direct response to Archbishop Lefebvre's schism) need to view its existence much as the other examples I noted.

FWIW, the argument vs. this is that Church history is full of similar situations of apparent disobedience, which turned out for the good, but I've never heard anyone come up with a specific example.

I just noted several of them.

I'm not expressing this well, I can tell - I guess the question is: what is the answer to those who claim that any criticism of the Archbp. is ingratitude b/c without him there would be no TLM to attend at all?

The proper response to these kinds of assertions is that no goal -however laudable it may be- justifies the crime of fomenting schism in the Church. The end does not and cannot justify the means if there is to be any viable way of checking immorality.

It would seem, on one hand, that disapproval of the Archbp.'s methods would commit you to the N.O., but what about the Indult? Is it a question of how one goes about acheiving one's aspirations?

Yes. One can use many means to achieve the same end. Not all means are of the same value however.

Our e-mail is out at the moment, so could you post this to the blog? I can't be the only person who's wondered about this...

Your wish is granted. Hopefully this brief response will be of assistance.

Notes:

{1} I explain part of this HERE.

{2} For those who are interested, I go over these subjects in my treatise HERE and HERE. Please note in advance though that none of what is covered in these two urls applies to the Indult apostolates or most of their supporters.

{3} There were movements besides Lefebvre's in this equation as well including The Latin Mass Society and many others. One could see their influence behind the Holy Father's 1984 Indult which was later obrogated by the Ecclesia Dei development which came about as a result of Lefebvre's failure to maintain his communion with the Church.

{4} I am not violating the axiom that "the end does not justify the means" here by any means.

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On Pascendi and Pondering Proscribed and Permissible Philosophical Paradigms:
(0600 Post-Chai Interactions with Apolonio Latar III)

You will have to pardon your humble servant at Rerum Novarum if these thoughts are not as sharp as is my norm since my mental tube amps are still in the "warming up" stage. I have had my first chai for the day so in that respect I am on better ground than other early morning musings that were posted to this weblog.{1} But then again in other respects the playing field is evened for reasons noted at the first footnote.

In this response, Apolonio's words will be in a kind of dark pink-red and his sources italicized. My words will be in regular font with my sources in dark blue. Without further ado, let us get to it.

Hello all,

Hi Apolonio:

I am having a dialogue/debate with a person on modernism. And we are going to analyze Pascendi.

I hope you have gotten the person you are dialoguing with to define the term "modernism" in advance. Otherwise you and them could go all over the map unnecessarily and the dialogue will suffer for it.

Therefore, I offer the following definition to you for your dialogue:

Modernism is described in the encyclical Pascendi (Sept. 7, 1907) of Pope Pius X as "a synthesis of all heresies."...Its foundation is in agnosticism (the teaching that God can in no way be the object of certain knowledge), and in Immanence (q.v., the teaching that foundation of faith must be sought in an internal sense which arises from man's need of God). From these principles, allied with various evolutionary doctrines, Modernism sets out to demolish dogmas (which it calls variable symbols), sacraments (which it reduces to faith-nourishing signs), the authenticity and genuineness of the Scriptures, the Church, and ecclesiastical authority and discipline. It would reduce Christ to human dimensions and make inspiration a common gift of mankind. [Donald Attwater: Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary Tenth Edition, pg. 347 (c. 1941)]

That should provide a good reference point so that the term "modernism" is not applied where it is not warranted. (As so often happens in these kinds of discussions.)

Here is my first analysis:

Pius X says that the modernist "includes within himself a manifold personality; he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. ( #5)" Again, the "philosopher" is what I will analyze.

Ok.

First, the historical context. There were many philosophers who denied the intellectual aspect of Christianity. Philosophers like Ficthe for example, says that the basis of faith is to be found "in the moral consciousness." Morality, for him, "can be constituted only by means of its end, not by means of logical process."[1]

This would seem a violation of the principle that the end does not justify the means to me. It is also a form of immanentist philosophy.

He also says, "Where is the philosopher now to look for the necessary source of his faith which he presupposes? In a supposed necessity, to argue from the existence of a constitution of the world of sense to a reasonable author of the same? By no means, for he knows too well that reasonable philosophy cannot so argue...Starting from the world of sense there is no possible way of arriving at the conception of a moral ordering of the world." [2]

This smacks of either nominalist or conceptualist approaches.{2}

Another philosopher was Albrecht Ritschl who believed that faith create the object rather than the object creating the faith.

This sounds like conceptualism to me.

So religion for him "has to do with our consciousness of value and is a faith in the reality of the objects to which that consciousness introduces us. All religious affirmations, therefore, are judgments of value." [3] Therefore according to him, religion, doctrines, and God are considered as "values" instead of reality. As one can see, the thought of Immanuel Kant is present in Ritschl since he believed that God is a "value judgment" rather than existential.

This is vital immanence because it makes the existence of God something that originates solely from within rather than from without.

These philosophers separated reason from faith and excluded the traditional proofs for the existence of God.

Correct.

For example, we have Henri Bergson who said, "It is one thing for the mind to conceive the idea of being, but it is quite another thing for the mind to ascertain the objective existence of that being. It is **only** through experience that the objective existence of such a being can be determined, hence the intellectual approach to God is futile." [4]

The word "only" that you highlight kills this theory since it confines objective existence to something from within. This is a form of the epistemological phenomenon of solipsism whereby the self knows nothing but its own states and their constituent modifications if you will. This is a core philosophical flaw of modern day liberal political views.{3}

We also have Alfred Loisy who believed that the mind cannot attain the knowledge of the Transcendent. Frederick Copleston explained Loisy's philosophy: "...his remarks belief in God he can be said to assume that the human mind cannot attain knowledge of the Transcendent. God is really the Unknowable of Spencer, that which transcends the reash of what Kant described as theoretical knowledge. We think of God in terms of symbols, and from a practical point of view we are warranted in acting as though there were a personal divine will having a claim on human will. But in the moral and religious sphere we cannot prove the absolute truth of any belief. In this sphere of truth, as related to man's good, is as subject to mutable revealed truths."[5]

This kind of teaching goes under modernism.

That is two hundred proof modernism Apolonio.

As Pius X said:

"Modernists place the foundation of religious philosophy in that doctrine which is commonly called Agnosticism. According to this teaching human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that appear, and in the manner in which they appear: it has neither the right nor the power to overstep these limits. Hence it is incapable of lifting itself up to God, and of recognizing His existence, even by means of visible things. From this it is inferred that God can never be the direct object of science, and that, as regards history, He must not be considered as an historical subject. Given these premises, everyone will at once perceive what becomes of Natural Theology, of the motives of credibility, of external revelation. The modernists simply sweep them entirely aside; they include them in Intellectualism, which they denounce as a system which is ridiculous and long since defunct." [6]

We can now see how Pius's statements make sense in light of its context.

Indeed. Your analysis thus far is good.

Referring to the statement that "human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena" and "incapable of lifting itself up to God", one can see for example, Loisy's philosophy being equivalent as that of what Pius has defined as modernism. One can also see how Pius was condemning the philosophy which tried to get rid of natural theology, or the traditional proofs for the existence of God.

Indeed.

Pius goes on:

"But when natural theology has been destroyed, and the road to revelation closed by the rejection of the arguments of credibility, and all external revelation absolutely denied, it is clear that this explanation will be sought in vain outside of man himself. It must, therefore, be looked for in man; and since religion is a form of life, the explanation must certainly be found in the life of man. In this way is formulated the principle of religious immanence."

Pardon the brief interjection but this is essentially why I am critical of nominalism and conceptualism. However, at this point you need to make a key distinction between various forms of immanence. I go over this in my web essay Distinctions of Outlook where I point out (among other problems) Fr. Chad Ripperger's confusion of vital immanence as proscribed by Pope Pius X and a methodology of immanence which is not blameworthy.{4} In short, this is a distinction with a difference.

"Moreover, the first actuation, so to speak, of every vital phenomenon -- and religion, as noted above, belongs to this category-- is due to a certain need or impulsion; but speaking more particularly of life, it has its origin in a movement of the heart, which movement is called a sense. Therefore, as God is the object of religion, we must conclude that faith, which is the basis and foundation of all religion, must consist in a certain interior sense, originating in a need of the divine. This need of the divine, which is experienced only in special and favorable circumstances. cannot of itself appertain to the domain of consciousness, but is first latent beneath consciousness, or, to borrow a term from modern philosophy, in the subconsciousness, where also its root lies hidden and undetected." [7]

A lot of people misunderstand what Pius is condemning here.

Indeed, it is a very subtle argument being made.

He is not condemning the assertion that we can know God from our need of God. What he is condemning is a pure religious experience for the existence of God and excluding the traditional arguments for it.

Correct. He is condemning fideistic approaches to religion.

Copleston says:

"In general, the modernist tended to assume that modern philosophy had shown that the human mind cannot transcend the sphere of consciousness. In one sense of course this is a truism, in so far, that is to say, as it meanst that we cannot be conscious of anything without being conscious of it or think of anything without thinking it. But immanentism was understood as excluding any proof of God's existence by, for example, a causal argument. What is given in man is a need for the divine which, rising into consciousness, takes the form of a religious feeling or sense which is equivalent to faith." [8]

What is condemned by Pius X is the nonintellectual approach to God.

Precisely. But the above quote appears to condemn all forms of immanentism. I would along with defining the term modernism also distinguish between various types of immanentist philosophies. It would be erroneous to lump them all under the same umbrella of condemnation as not a few people who discuss these matters tend to do.

Fulton J. Sheen summarizes the difference of the nonintellectual and the intellectual approach to God:

"Religious experience may be understood to mean one of two things. It may be a nonintellectual approach to God in which feeling is primary. It may be an intellectual approach in which there is a confused intellectual reasoning process which is primary; an affective or emotional response; and a reflex intellectual state. If by religious experience is meant the former, then religious experience is an invalid approach to God, if the latter, then religious experience is a legitimate approach to God." [9]

I enjoy your frequent recourse to Sheen's work :)

An example of an intellectual approach to God would be that man desires for the perfect. He will never be satisfied until he reaches that perfection. If he cannot find it in the finite world, then the reason must be that he is made for another, which is life with God, life with the Divine. This argument however, does not mean I can absolutely know God exists, but only in a general way. This is what is usually meant when Christians say "the knowledge of God is implanted in all" as John Damascene had said. This approach is also Thomistic.

Indeed. You can also approach this from a kind of relative immanentism by starting with the following questions:

---Is man sufficient for himself???

---Or (if not) is he aware of his insufficiency in such a way as to realize his need of some help from without???

From there you can approach immanentist methodology without going off the rails as the vital immanence proscribed by Pope Pius X of venerable memory inexorably does.

Aquinas said:

"To know that God exists in a general and confused way is implanted in us by nature, inasmuch as God is man's beatitude. For man naturally desires happiness, and what is naturally desired by man must be naturally known to him. This, however, is not to know absolutely that God exists; just as to know that someone is approaching is not the same as to know that Peter is approaching, even though it is Peter who is approaching; for many there are who imagine that man's perfect good which is happiness, consists in riches, and others in pleasures, and others in something else." [10]

This is precisely the kind of relative immanentist approach I am talking about. Maurice Blondel and Henri de Lubac sought to confront atheism through this kind of methodology.

I think this is a good start. What do you think?

I agree. If you can get an agreed definition of "modernism" down and distinguish between the proscribed and the permissible forms of immanentist philosophy that will help in making progress in your dialogue.

Notes:

{1} For example, I have mused on Dignitatis Humanae before my morning chai. However, as I have discussed that subject and its constituent elements so frequently over the years, I am able to make the distinctions needed even when groggy. By contrast, subjects such as the ones Apolonio is covering are ones I have not discussed as often and therefore I lack a kind of habitual argumentation in my favour on this subject. (For that reason, I have to be more alert to discuss it lest I mess up the distinctions required.)

{2} Neither Nominalism nor Conceptualism will actually succeed in formulating a solid philosophical paradigm on these matters -as they result intrinsically to a defacto subjectifying of the concept of faith.

{3} This is why certain kinds of people of the extremist liberal mindset such as the Deanings cannot be reasoned with. You can throw all the facts in the world at them and reason until your gray hairs fall out but they will not budge because so much of what you would say does not pertain to them personally.

{4} And to which many of the so-called "New Theologians" utilized.


Apolonio's Notes:

[1] Philosophy of Religion: The Impact of Modern Knowledge on Religion by Fulton J. Sheen, New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1948, pg.42
[2] ibid.
[3] ibid., pg. 44
[4] Two Sources of Morality and Religion, Henry Holt & Company, 1935, pg. 270
[5] A History of Philosophy Volume IX: Modern Philosophy, From the French Revolution to Sartre, Camus, and Levi-Strauss, Image Books, 1994, New York, pg. 247
[6] Pascendi, 6
[7] ibid., 7
[8] Copleston, pg. 247
[9] Sheen, pg. 237
[10] ST, I, q. 1, a. 2, reply to obj. 1

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Points to Ponder:
(On the Declaration of Independence)

Most people if asked about the Declaration of Independence know part of the preamble about the rights which are held to be "self-evident." But often not considered were the various accusations brought against the Crown by the colonists. Let us focus on some of them right now

--He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

--He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

--He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

--For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

--For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

Consider in light of the today's government situation if these are not viable complaints for us to make today against the very kind of unconstitutional federal leviathan we see today. (And which the Founding Fathers sought so manfully to avoid.)

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The Fundamental Flaws of Roe vs. Wade and its Supporters:
(Aka "Constitution 101")

[Prefatory Note: The text below is a slightly more refined and extended version of what was posted to this discussion thread. I realized in retrospect that I was responding to someone who does not support Roe v Wade. Nonetheless, this post retains its value in arguing against standard faulty constitutional presumptions that exist among those of that mindset. -ISM 1/29/04 10:25 am]

The Constitution isn't ambiguous on abortion; it is silent.

And when there is silence there is not presumed freedom of inquiry.

Most people do not know that Alexander Hamilton was opposed to the Bill of Rights because he saw it as a way of limiting freedom. See this link for details.

As far as what the Constitution does and does not say, anyone who would interpret the Constitution apart from The Federalist Papers which shaped its construction or the Declaration of Independence which enunciated the fundamental rights that the following Constitution{1} would outline is engaging in a heinous violation of the most basic of general norms of interpretation.

For (i) the Declaration of Independence affirms the right to life which is anathema to a so-called "right" to abortion and (ii) the Framers to a man held that abortion was murder. Therefore, (iii) to claim that the Framers would enshrine a so-called "right" which flies in the face of what they held as true makes a mockery of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

I can predict the usual shibboleths of the abortion rhetoric about women and minorities and voting. However, those dogs do not hunt because (i) the Framers did not see these as possessing the required capacity for intelligent voting and (ii) the Framers did not explicitly forbid them in the Constitution of such -though with the slaves it was tacitly noted in Article One Section Two when apportioning in accordance with the census numbers.

However, (iii) the Constitution on these points was amended later on -with the ambiguity on these matters being clarified by Constitutional amendments.

In short, the attempt to opine for abortion in light of the previous situations with slaves and women is a facile one that cannot withstand logical scrutiny.

The right to vote is still denied to those who are not free citizens in this country. The Thirteenth Amendment, ratified in 1865, forbid slavery and involuntary servitude except for those duly convicted of a crime. The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, explicitly granted the right to vote to males who were former slaves and those formerly in various states of servitude. The Nineteenth Amendment explicitly codifying that sex would no longer be seen as an incapacitating factor in voting was ratified in 1920.

This is how Americans are supposed to settle these kinds of issues: either adhere to the Constitution or amend it. Which brings me to the following challenge for abortion supporters.

If abortion supporters can show me the Constitutional Amendment that ratifies the right to an abortion, then they will have at least a somewhat viable argument in their favour.{2} Until then, no one with a normal intact functioning brain needs to take the Roe v. Wade "invisible pink unicorn" assertion of a "right to privacy in the first amendment" absurdity even remotely seriously.

Instead such people -far from defending or preserving the Constitution actually are termites who are undermining the fundamental laws of this nation. They therefore are not inaptly referred to as seditionists.{3} And that is the bottom line really.

Notes:

{1} To say nothing about the Articles of Confederation which came after the Declaration in 1776 and which were the governing template of the United States for thirteen years. (Before being obrogated by the present Constitution in 1789.)

{2} Of course then I will launch into my defense of the three fundamental rights of man which confutes such a pseudo-"right" so be warned in advance.

{3} To the extent that they are formally or actively involved in promoting abortion "rights" of course.

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My Views on President Bush's Mars Project:
(Courtesy of Ronnie Van Zant RIP)

Have you ever lived down in the ghetto?
Have you ever felt the cold wind blow?
If you don’t know what I mean,
Won’t you stand up and scream?
’Cause there’s things goin’ on that you don’t know.


Too many lives they’ve spent across the ocean.
Too much money been spent upon the moon.
Well, until they make it right
I hope they never sleep at night
They better make some changes
And do it soon.


They’re gonna ruin the air we breathe
Lord have mercy.
They’re gonna ruin us all, by and by.
I’m telling you all beware
'Cause I don’t think they really care
I think they just sit up there
And just get high.


As it is not Vietnam as when the above song was penned, I do not have the same view of the Iraq war; however I am becoming worried that it will become a political tool in this election beyond normal "politics." I hope I am wrong but I am not too optimistic about it.

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More Miscellaneous Mutterings:
(On the "Pro Life or Bust" Approach to Politics and the Political Situation in General)

"My Kingdom For a Third Party" Revisited

On the "Right Wing-Left Wing" Conventional "Wisdom"

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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Miscellaneous Mutterings:
(On the "Pro Life or Bust" Approach to Politics)

LINK.

Please pardon the spelling glitches as the Envoy Encore message boxes do not allow for corrections unfortunately.

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Monday, January 26, 2004

Notification of Upcoming Topic of Discussion:

The resignation of David Kay and the situation surrounding what he said about WMD's seems to present another example of the McElhinney Media Dictum at work. Right now it seems appropriate to let the usual suspects on both sides play the "so and so lied" cards but worry not: We at Rerum Novarum will be weighing the points carefully and possibly pronouncing on the matter before Saturday. The uncertainty as to when Uncle Mel's funeral will be makes it difficult to set a certain date on the matter at this time unfortunately.

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Points to Ponder:

You say grace before meals
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera
And grace before the pantomine,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
[GK Chesterton]

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Mel Denny Update:

I went down with my mother and my Uncle Bob to see their Uncle (my great-uncle) Mel today at the assisted living facility in Puyallup, Washington. (The one I sent out the urgent appeal for yesterday two days ago.) We were there briefly -about ten minutes as he was sleeping- and I noticed that he had gotten very skinny. From there we went to my second cousin Mark Denny's place. (Great aunt Hattie's place is next door to his.) We saw Mark and his wife Patti and their kids briefly as they and my mother's cousin Yvonne and her children Paul and Polly (my cousins) went to the facility to spend time with Uncle Mel.

We hung out at the houses for a bit while they were there about three hours. Upon returning, it mentioned to us that they had told Uncle Mel it was okay to go. At that point it seemed to be a matter of a week or so indeed I was told that he was figiting with his fingers and hair which means that the person is less than two weeks for this world. (Trust me, I have become unfortunately knowledgeable about these things the past three plus years.) Nonetheless, Mark got out some King Salmon that Uncle Mel and he had caught last year in a fishing trip to Alaska. Patty begin slicing the salmon and Mark began mixing a batter with beer and other ingredients and dipping them into the batter in preparation for the deep frier. (He also broke out the Black Velvet.) Elk sausage and various cheeses were prepared (I sliced the cheeses actually) and the salmon was coming out of the deep fryer tasting quite excellent. The evening was shaping up quite nicely in fact.

Mark and I were on our second round of Black Velvet and Mark was prepping some oysters for the grill when the phone rang at 7pm. Mark was on the phone briefly and I saw him place his hand on the fridge and his head dropped. At that point I knew...Uncle Mel had died...

That blew the bottom out of the boat in a matter of speaking. Mark could barely talk and was fighting back emotions. Yvonne and my cousins and Patty were in tears. Aunt Hattie was in shock and went to the restroom but she broke down after coming back. It became clear at that point that I and my mother and uncle needed to get out of there so we hugged everyone and departed. We will be seeing them in a few days again of course but right now they need to grieve.

I felt a sinking in my stomach when I realized the news in reading Mark's body English. But sad to say, while I am sad I am completely numb to this kind of thing now. In less than four years (three years ten months actually) there have been over a dozen deaths of family and family friends{1} counting this one. (And this will be the seventh or eighth funeral or memorial service I have been to in that span.)

I told Mark before leaving when giving him a hug{2} that it was okay to grieve. I think it helps for a guy to hear that from another guy in these situations - I know it helped me when my friend Jack told me the same thing at a family gathering two days after the day my father passed away.{3} To the others I simply noted that they needed time to grieve but felt with Mark that I needed to tell him specifically. Nonetheless, there will be a funeral in a few days -the second one I have attended in two weeks- and again, if I could exhort you to pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Melvin Denny, it would be appreciated. For those who emailed me about having done so already, thankyou.

Today is the feast of St. Paul -the Apostle of the Gentiles. Maybe there is some symbolism to the fact that Uncle Mel died today. I see this one as a tough case. He was a good man but he was not religious. Nonetheless, I do believe that God judges Fatherly so there is reason for hope.{4}

The need to muse a bit in solitude is presenting itself so I have broken out the chocolate tequila and will be cutting a Churchill from my humidor shortly. But I did not want to forget to note these things here to thank those who have offered prayers already and exhort for more prayers for Uncle Mel if possible.

Notes:

{1} Fourteen of them were people to varying degrees close to me and nine of those were right at the root and matrix of close family relations. But even those who were not so close had an effect for various reasons too complex to explain here.

{2} Something I do not think I have ever done before -but if ever it seemed appropriate to do, this was the time.

{3} I thought earlier that year when the final nails had been driven into the coffin of a very close relationship that I could not feel any worse than I felt at that time. (This was my relationship with a lady I at one time believed was destined to be my wife -see the dedication to my essay on Christian Unity from 2001 for more information.) Well, that was a walk in the park compared to the day my father died -probably because I knew at the end that in the fallout of that relationship I was lying to myself for a while about it.

Dad's passing was the blackest day of my life by far because it was unexpected at the time and because the roots there were deeper there than with the aforementioned lady. (Often since that time I have discovered in previously unnoticed ways the depth to which they go but I digress.)

{4} Though as I noted already, the six months prior to his stroke he was actually praying with Aunt Hattie -something that in nearly sixty years of marriage had never happened. I cannot help but see some hand of Providence there in light of the circumstances antecedent to and subsequent to that occurrence.

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Sunday, January 25, 2004

I found another quiz in the archives serendipitously so I added it to the earlier quiz recapitulation thread. More quizzes later on if I am so inclined but at the moment I am happy to have broken the ultra-seriousness of the blog atmosphere a bit here.

Oh and for purists who are shocked at all the quizzes all of a sudden, I have done the occasional quiz here and there as long as I have had a weblog so it is hardly the novelty you might think. And for the record, I *did* sandwich between some of the quiz threads some political absurdity, a "Points to Ponder" segment, and a spiritual instruction on charity so do not feel that I went completely kukoo there.

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I am Hannibal

Cool and dangerous Hannibal is a soldier for life. He was a well respected colonel in Vietnam who was forced to hide in the underground after being charged for a crime he didn't commit. The leader of the A-Team, Hannibal is a crafty tactician and as he always said "I love it when a plan comes together."

Which A-Team member are you???

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Though somewhat cocky and brash, your inner humanity is sometimes disguised in your attempts to hide the real you. But that humanity is there and though somewhat hesitant, you do help those in need. You're confident and strong and possess noble abilities that draw people to you once you let them in.
If I were a Star Wars character, I would be:
Han Solo.

Take the " Which Star Wars Character Am I?" Quiz by Always Two There Are


I had to make a few HTML corrections so the entry would post.{1} But the picture now shows itself so I note these things only for others who take the test and cannot figure out why the thing will not post right for them. But I digress.


As I have always had an affinity for Han Solo by my own admission, this test only confirms that intuition to a degree. But according to the Star Wars Personality Test I have a different personality then that of Han Solo. See this link for details...


Note:


{1} I deleted all the table coding, the verdana font coding, and all respective closing links to said codes. I also posted the main picture url and not the one in the coding sequence and removed both the div=center codes as well. Doing all of this meant that I had to add a paaragraph breaking HTML code into the main post at each paragraph division for proper separation. Ergo, those who seek to alter code as I did...be warned!!!

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