Jan 162017
 

Having made it just over two weeks into the new year 2017, perhaps the time has come to make a second (or third) attempt at fulfilling those New Year’s resolutions. What difference, after all, does an arbitrary date on the calendar have to do with making a change in our lives? If a change needs to be made, why wait? And if the secular calendar gets in the way, you can always turn to the Church’s liturgical calendar.

After four weeks in the Advent season preparing for Christmas, and a slightly unusual Christmas season ending on a Monday, the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church has finally entered Ordinary time. The time between Christmas and Lent, Easter and Advent. The time when Sundays are simply designated by number in order – ordinary time.

But nothing is mundane about Sundays in ordinary time. Each is a celebration in and of itself of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And there is nothing mundane or ordinary about the weekdays in Ordinary time, either. Each is a gift to be savored and celebrated, an opportunity to do good – or bad. To heal – or hurt. To bring together – or push apart.

As I write and publish this, it is the 16th day of the new year 2017. It is also the first Monday in Ordinary time. A first Monday seems like as good a time as any (and perhaps better than most) to try and make a new start.

So if you have fallen behind on a resolution, take heart. Tomorrow is a new day. It might be an ordinary day in ordinary time, but there is no reason it can’t become an extraordinary day.

Nov 072016
 

Election Eve 2016 is a time of choosing, and I have made my choice after reaching the following two conclusions: (1) I do not want Donald Trump to become President of the United States; (2) I do not think Hillary Clinton should be President of the United States.

However, given the choice between the two – and we all know the next President of the United States will be either Donald or Hillary – I can only vote for Donald Trump. For me, preventing Hillary Clinton from becoming President is that important.

I understand other people think the exact opposite. There are many valid reasons not to like Mr. Trump and not to want him to win this election. But the reasons to oppose Mrs. Clinton far outweigh those for opposing Mr. Trump.

hillary_clinton_official_secretary_of_state_portrait_crop Evidence clearly demonstrates Hillary Clinton used her position as Secretary of State to enrich herself, selling favors to foreign powers and businesses in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation, exorbitant fees for speaking engagements, or positions on boards or as consultants. In this, her husband, former President Bill Clinton was an accomplice.

The Clintons have a history of such behavior. On Mr. Clinton’s last day in office, he granted a pardon to a nefarious corrupt businessman on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. Marc Rich had fled to Switzerland to avoid prosecution after illegal dealings with the Iranians while they held Americans hostage, the North Koreans, South Africa, Cuba and other embargoed regimes. Rich’s ex-wife was a well-known fund-raiser for the Clintons. Even the New York Times condemned the act.

No, Mrs. Clinton does not deserve the office of President. She and her husband have too often betrayed this nation’s trust. She only wants the office for the power and the money it will make her. Mr. Trump might also want the power, but he made his money the old-fashioned way – he inherited it.

donald_trump_august_19_2015_croppedDonald Trump was not exactly born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but he was no pauper’s son either. To be fair, he took advantage of his father’s wealth and built a financial empire far exceeding what he was given. To be charitable, he seems ready to pass his empire on to his children and give something back to his country. Perhaps it is only right and just he do so.

This contrasts with Hillary Clinton, who seems to think she deserves to be President. She speaks and acts as if she is entitled to be President. Her often smug and condescending attitude communicates not only a superiority over the American public, but a disdain for the majority of Americans.

But the biggest mark against Hillary Clinton for me is her violation of the five non-negotiables: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, and so-called same-sex “marriage”. The Catholic Church teaches these matters of moral law are intrinsic evils that can never be voted for or supported in any way. Mrs. Clinton supports them all, and has indicated she endorses punishing those who do not accept her views.

Given the next President of the United States – either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton – will appoint at least one if not two or three members to the Unites States Supreme Court, and those justices will influence life in this country for at least the next twenty, thirty or even forty years, and their decisions could have a permanent impact on the future of the country, I feel I must do my part in preventing Hillary Clinton from winning tomorrow.

I do not want Donald Trump to become President of the United States, but I will be voting for him tomorrow. Please join me.

May 022016
 

What I’ve been reading and the reason for it goes a long way in explaining why you might have noticed a significant gap in posting to this blog. You might think C.S. Lewis and Bridget Jones’s Diary might be incongruent, or just a fine example of my eclectic taste, and you would be right, but digging deeper you will find much more to the story.

C.S. Lewis

First, we should narrow down just what I’ve been reading from the many works of C.S. Lewis. Thanks to the major motion picture adaptations, The Chronicles of Narnia have become familiar to a vast audience. Unfortunately, far fewer have read the books – especially those which never have made it to film, like The Magician’s Nephew, The Boy and His Horse, or The Silver Chair. This is especially true of the final book in the series, The Last Battle, which has the most depressing happy ending I have ever read.

But what I’ve been reading is not C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narina, I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. While everyone seems to know Lewis and his good friend J.R.R. Tolkien wrote fantasy – or at least what came to be considered fantasy – few remember Lewis also wrote three science fiction novels.

Space Trilogy

Actually, while science plays an important role in the stories (one might even say science is the antagonist, but that would be unfair), they might be more properly classified as spiritual fiction than science fiction, philosophical rather than speculative, theological rather than theoretical. And while Tolkien, a life-long and devout Catholic, wrote his Lord of the Rings trilogy to be a sort of pre-Catholic European mythology, Lewis, who was a late convert to Christianity, was hardly orthodox in his speculation about what lies beyond Earth’s moon.

Still, the three books – Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength – do what great science fiction and great literature in general are supposed to make you do: Think. Written at the outbreak and during World War II, they were not bound by later scientific discoveries any more than Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet, or Stranger in a Strange Land, allowing Lewis to freely create whatever reality he desired.

The central character of the trilogy is Elwin Ransom, who seems to be modeled in part on Tolkien. A most unlikely hero for a science fiction novel by anyone other than a medieval scholar like Lewis, Ransom is a philologist – a student of languages. His skill proves useful in communicating with inhabitants of other worlds. In another clear connection to Tolkien, the third book makes reference to Numenor and the True West.

I don’t intend to give anything away about the plot, I simply want to peak your interest. But I will say the last two books in particular seem to provide a clear vision of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body at a time before the future pontiff had even been ordained a priest. You might ask why this is important, so I’ll tell you.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

I read Bridget Jones’s Diary as part of an effort to read several books written in diary format (including The Princess Diaries, and Flowers for Algernon) in preparation for writing my own fictional novel in a similar format. It always helps to explore what other have done in a particular format before trying it yourself – like art students studying the great masters.

Actually, Bridget Jones’s Diary (and The Princess Diaries) served two efforts, because I have also been reading some romance novels in an effort to study plot development. Romance novels are a great genre for studying plot, because the plots are so formulaic. You can almost predict the exact page at which something will happen to shatter any chance of the two lovers ever finding a happily ever after. (That’s HEA in Romance jargon, and it is a requirement. Hell hath no fury like a woman who reads a Romance which does not have a HEA.)

Theology of the Body

How does Bridget Jones’s Diary, Lewis’s Space Trilogy, and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body tie together? If the later two demonstrate what the true nature of the relationship between man and woman is meant to be, the former demonstrates clearly the results of ignoring that true nature.

Lewis clearly knows the relationship between the genders, even the understanding of the nature of gender, is distorted in the modern world – even if his modern world at the time he was writing was the early 1940s. In fact, it is integral to the plot of the third book. For him, restoration of the natural order of things is a good to be desired.

While Helen Fielding clearly intended her novel to be comedic, over-the-top exaggeration of the trials and tribulations of the thirty-something single woman (particularly in Britain but applicable anywhere sexually liberated modern culture has infiltrated), the agony Bridget Jones and her circle of friends endures could easily be alleviated. Unfortunately, Fielding and her readers are most likely clueless when it comes to the Theology of the Body.

Even if they were introduced to the idea, they would likely write it off as old-fashioned, antiquated, anti-feminist, patriarchy nonsense and continue to wallow in their misery. This is something Lewis also addresses in his Space Trilogy.

Someone once said we laugh when it hurts too much to cry. Bridget Jones’s Diary strikes me as that kind of humor.

And the Reason Is

If you read between the lines, you might have realized one reason I have not been posting consistently has been because I am doing a lot of reading, and what I’ve been reading has been trying directed towards writing fiction. Also, I needed a break from politics. This site was becoming becoming dominated by current political events rather than the eclectic mix of topics I intended. In the future, the politics will be more focused and the topics more varied. That said, what sort of topics should I write about?