Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Fun (well, fun for math types)

After exhaustive and exhausting investigation of the many variables involved (and hoo ha, are they variable!) it can be shown that on the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love will have given me:
12 drummers drumming,
22 pipers piping,
30 lords a-leaping,
36 ladies dancing,
40 maids a-milking,
42 swans a-swimming,
42 geese a-laying,
40 golden rings,
36 calling (or colly) birds,
30 French hens,
22 turtle doves, and
12 partridges in a pear tree (or pear trees; this last has not yet been ascertained).

For those who really really care, the graph resembles a parabola.

A merry, joyous, happy, holy and blessed Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christianity is Universal

To see a clear image, click on it.
The texts are:
And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to the word."
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
--in ancient Greek, Vulgate Latin, Spanish, French, German, Danish, Breton, Welsh, Scots Gaelic, Finnish, Polish, Czech, and Ukrainian.

I have collected and saved Bibles in different languages for decades, and this is my chance to use lots of them.

Merry CHRIST-mass!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sacred Mathematics

As I was receiving last Sunday, the thought popped into my mind, "How can the Infinite fit into the infinitesimal?"

And it was followed by: "It just did."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My September and December rant a day early

The events of December 7, 1941, and of September 11, 2001, have many similarities; of which the strongest is that the events were acts of war perpetrated against the United States by foreigners who wanted to maim, kill, and destroy us.

The major difference between the two events is that --
in 1941, the American government and people rose up and kicked our enemies' ass;
in 2001 and since, the government has been kissing our enemies ass.

And the worst ass-kisser of them all is the present occupant of the White House,
who was obviously lying through his teeth when he took the oath of office,
who is a Judas and a traitor and obviously has no interest in preserving America.
The sooner he is impeached and removed from office, the better.

Monday, December 5, 2011

After reading The Hitchhiker's Guide

My response at this moment to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

There is an infinite number of numbers.
There is an infinite number of even numbers.
There is an infinite number of odd numbers.
The infinite number of all numbers is equal to the infinite number of even numbers and to the infinite number of odd numbers.
Do not think about this too much.

The universe is mind-bogglingly large.
The amount of information coded into the single 46-chromosome cell we all once were
is also mind-boggingly large.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Facebook Satire

I posted this on Facebook half an hour ago or so. I wonder if anyone will rise to the bait.

I'm going to start a group, and I think I'll call it
Filthy Unwashed Crusader Kaffirs . . . .
OOOOOPS!! I don't think that will go over too well.
How about . . . um . . . Filthy Unbelieving Crusader Kaffirs?
Uh . . . NOPE! Same problem!
... Hmmmmm . . . .
Filthy Infidel Satanic Crusader Kaffirs?
That'll do for a start, I guess.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Math, Carpentry, and Culture: a Facebook Rant

It's a mathematical axiom that through a point an infinite number of lines can be drawn. It's also an axiom that two points determine a line. But statistically speaking, the closer together those two points are, the less reliable are any predictions made from them.

In the real world, it's easy to lay a 10-foot 2x4 across two sawhorses six feet apart. Now try balancing the 2x4 across one sawhorse. Then try balancing it on a 1/2" rebar stuck into the ground. The smaller the base, the harder the balancing act.

The real-life analogy to this is that (all other things equal) we old folks have a longer, and therefore better, view of life and especially American culture than you young folks do. Culture is like the air you breathe: you don't notice it unless it changes or you have something to compare it to.

I grew up in the late 40s and through the 50s, and I can say that American culture has largely degenerated since then. I can smell the stink of it, but you young folks can't, because you grew up in it and don't know any better. You think it's fine and normal, I know it's rotten and abnormal.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Laugh -- and slap my head

What makes me want to laugh and slap my forehead at the same time, is that big fat lie "We are the 99%."This is the same lie told in Petrograd in 1917 by the people who called themselves the Bolsheviki, roughly "the majority."

In fact, the Bolsheviks were never a landslide majority in any mass of socialist or anti-Tsarist political groups.

But on December 2, 1917, the Duma (governing body) of Petrograd was dissolved by threat of armed force. And on December 12, a new Duma was elected, almost entirely Bolshevik.

(Source: John Reed, "Ten Days that Shook the World," Mentor Books, 1967, p. 250)

Thursday, September 29, 2011


It seems to me there are a number of interlinked but separate aspects here:

1, the condition;

2, the person;

3, the behavior;

4, the social aspects;

5, the political aspects; and

6, the moral and religious aspects.

I do not intend to discuss any of these right now. I only want to point out as strongly as I can that these are separate aspects.

The only other opinion I'll put out now is that I firmly believe that almost any sexual behavior can be an acquired taste. And since human sexual drive is so strong, and sexual activity is so highly pleasurable, that acquired taste can become an addiction.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

On a lighter note --

One of my sisters and I regularly tackle the New York Times crossword puzzles. I was about to say that we're fond of doing them, but that's not accurate, because it's really a love-hate relationship.

One of the questions recently was: "Chilean cape"; answer, four letters.

The answer was HORN.

This is why my sister and I call the puzzle-makers "demented gonifs."

Stereoscopic Vision

Recently I was having lunch with a dear friend Kathy (who I first met in 1962) at a restaurant we both like, when two kids of the owner walked by -- Nick and Kate.  They said hi and it was nice to see me, and I introcuced Kathy and said it was very nice to see them both, especially Kate, because she was cuter than Nick.  Kathy laughed and said, "That's a matter of point of view."  To which I replied, "That's why you and I make a good team, Kathy: together we have stereoscopic vision."

Now I want to try to explain the intuition that came to me from Kathy's remark.  Stereo vision is a physical analogy for lots of things; for instance:

The two most different creatures on this planet are human male and human female.
The two sexes look at things differently  and perceive things differently.
If the two perceptions are combined, a better picture of reality emerges.
So the two sexes complement each other in all ways, generally speaking.

I have no wife or children, so I have to rely on what parents tell me about kids.
Even in pre-kindergarten years, maybe even as toddlers, boys are different from girls.
In general, a father will look at a son differently than at a daughter, because the kids are different, and because he is a man.
Ditto for a mother, because she's a woman.
So no matter the sex of the kid, it takes two parents of opposite sexes to raise a kid well.
This is one of the reasons same-sex couples can't (I bet) raise a well-rounded kid, boy or girl --
in general, that is; there are always exceptions.

I imagine men and women have different approaches to spirituality, though I bet that if you put an old husband and his old wife together, the sharp differences between their sexes has become softened with age and experience.  Maybe even more so for an old priest or brother and an old nun, because they've both been trying all their lives to be good children of God, and as they approach eternity, sex (in the sense of gender) becomes less relevant because it's "absorbed" by God, the creator of both.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Delayed gratification is sweeter

Maybe you can tell from the yellowing of the paper on the cover of Tome II that it's older than Tome I. I bought Tome II at a book sale in 1975 or 1976, when I had just finished a year-long U of Minn night school course in basic French, and only a few years after I had finished a really fine course in medieval history at the U. I knew it was an important piece of French literature, and I wanted to see if I could read it in an edition published for French speakers (Nouveaux Classiques Larousse).

I put it on the shelves and waited.

In 2002, I found a copy of Dorothy Sayers' translation of the epic, leafed through it a bit, put it on the shelves, and waited.

On August 5, 2011, I finally found a copy of Tome I, and now I can settle down with the whole thing and enjoy.

"The poem itself as we know it," writes Sayers, "would appear to have achieved its final shape towards the end of the eleventh century." She translated from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, which she says is "the oldest and best of all the versions." It contains 291 laisses, or divisions. In the Larousse books, the laisses are all in modern French, but with laisses 146-185 in the original Old French, which for me is a double treat.

Here's a sample, laisse 150. First the original, then in modern French, then in Sayers' English (she attempts to emulate the syllabication and assonance of the original):

Oliver sent que la mort mult l'angoisset.
Ansdous les oilz en la teste li turnent.
L'oïe pert et la veüe tute;
Descent a piet, a la tere se culchet,
Durement en halt si recleimet sa culpe,
Cuntre le ciel ambesdous ses mains juintes,
Si priet Deu que pareïs li dunget
E beneïst Karlun e France dulce,
Sun cumpaignun Rollant sur tuz humes.
Falt li le coer, le helme li embrunchet,
Trestut le cors a la tere li justet.
Morz est li quens, que plus ne se demuret.
Rollant li ber le pluret, sil duluset;
Jamais en tere n'orrez plus dolent hume.

Olivier sent que la mort l'angoisse beaucoup.
Les deux yeux lui tournent dans la tête,
Il perd l'ouïe et la vue entièrement;
Il quitte sa monture, s'étend à terre.
Fermement, à haute voix, il dit sa coulpe.
Vers le ciel, il a élevé ses deux mains jointes,
Et il prie Dieu de lui donner le paradis,
De bénir Charles et la douce France
Et par-dessous tous les hommes, son compagnon Roland.
Le coeur lui manque, le heaume retombe,
Tout son corps s'affaisse contre terre.
Le comte est mort, il n'a pu prolonger son séjour.
Roland le preux le pleure et s'afflige;
Jamais sur terre vous n'entendrez homme plus douloureux.

Oliver feels the coming pangs of death;
Both of his eyes are turning in his head,
Now he is blind totally, and totally deaf.
He lights from horse and to his knees he gets
And makes confession aloud, and beats his breast,
And clasps his hands, and lifts them up to Heav'n;
In Paradise he prays God give him rest,
And France the fair and Carlon prays Him bless,
And his companion Roland above all men.
His heart-strings crack, he stoops his knightly helm,
And sinks to earth, and lies there all his length.
Dead is the count, his days have reached their end.
The valiant Roland weeps for him and laments,
No man on earth felt ever such distress.

Sayers also has some insightful comments on the Middle Ages, and on the war between Saracen and Christian (timely today, which is another reason waiting until 2011 to read this was a good thing).

"And now, embattled alongside the French, for the first time we see "the Franks", and hear the voice of all Christendom. In the final encounter of the last great battle Charles and Baligant meet face to face:
Quoth the Emir: 'Bethink thee, Charles, and see
That thou repent what thou hast done to me.
My son is slain; I know it was by thee;
And on my lands thou wrongfully hast seized.
Become my man, and I will be thy liege;
Then come and serve me, from here unto the East.'
Quoth Carlon: 'Nay, I'd hold it treachery;
Never to Paynims may I show love or peace.
Do thou confess the Faith by God revealed,
Take Christendom, and thy first friend I'll be.
The King Almighty then serve thou and believe.'
Quoth Baligant: 'Thy sermon's but ill preached.'
Once more with swords they battle, each to each.

"At last the word is spoken that should have been spoken long ago: 'Never to Paynims may I show love or peace.' It should have been spoken at that first disastrous council; but Charlemagne, though his mind and conscience misgive him, takes counsel of the French, and the French, swayed by Naimon and Ganelon, choose to have peace for peace's sake.

"So the grand outline of the poem defines itself: a private war is set within a national war, and the national war again within the world-war of Cross and Crescent. The small struggle at the centre shakes the whole web."

I could never have appreciated any of this in 1975 or 1976, nor before 2001 especially, the conflict.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Letter to a girl who might run away again

Sunday, July 24, 2011, about 11 pm

Dear _______,

I would like you to think about _____ and about our Lord Jesus. You and I have been taught since we were small that Jesus came into this world and suffered and died for the good of our souls, and did it all out of love for us. I would like to remind you what He suffered and how much He suffered.

After His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was arrested, taken before Caiaphas and in the morning, brought before Pilate, who had Him scourged by Roman soldiers, who showed no mercy at all. A Roman scourging could lay the flesh open to the bone.

Would ______ endure as much for you?

Then he was led under heavy guard to the hill of Calvary, where they crucified him. He took three hours to die, in unbelievable agony.

You might never have seen a Crucifix, a cross with Jesus on it. Here are some for you to look at and think about.

Would ______ endure as much for you?

Best wishes, blessings, and prayers from Bob

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I just had an idea

In some parts of this country, there are enclaves of certain groups, where non-members of that group are discouraged from entering - discouraged by persuasion, intimidation, or violence.
They choose to withdraw from the mainstream, give them what they want. Fair is fair.

Build walls.

If non-members can't get in, then members can't get out. They can behave as they like inside the walls, and will not be interfered with or harmed, but they can't get out.

At all.
For any reason.
Don't even think about it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Act of Humility

(I found this in an old, well-thumbed prayer book, Imprimatur 1914, published about 1923.)

O GOD of sanctity ! who am I, that Thou shouldst come to me ? " The heavens are not pure in Thy sight, " and wilt thou dwell in my heart ? " Lord! I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof. " The consciousness of my unworthiness would prompt me to exclaim : "Depart from me, O Lord ! for I am a sinner. " But oh, the wonderful condescension of Thy love ! Thy pressing invitation encourages me, and dispels my fears. " Here I am, for Thou didst call me. " Come, then, O Jesus ! take possession of a heart that wishes to belong to Thee. " Behold ! They that go far from Thee shall perish. " But, O my God ! this house of my heart is too narrow for Thee : do Thou enlarge it ; it is falling to ruin : do thou repair it ; it has been defiled my sin : do Thou cleanse and purify it. " Look Thou upon me and have mercy on me. Oh, heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee ! Let Thy tender mercies come unto me, and I shall live ! Lord ! I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof ; say but the word, and my soul shall be healed. "

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Center of All Things

This is the center, the peak, the turning point of human history,

the place where all roads meet.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Do some math and find the answer!


Monday, June 6, 2011


by OldBob on Monday, June 6, 2011 at 1:08am

0108 hours 6 June 1944. The greatest amphibious force in history sails slowly across a treacherous Channel to begin, in Normandy, the final assault on Hitler's "Fortress Europe." Paratroopers of the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne, and British glider troops, have already landed well behind the enemy lines on the coast. Years of planning and preparation, including a massive and detailed campaign of deception, have led up to this hour. Many brave men will die or be shattered so that we, sixty-seven years later, can live free. Salute them!

Personal side note: my Pop might have been there but for a fluke. Here is the way he told the story. He was at the docks with his rifle company, who were embarking on the ships that would carry them to Europe. He was called aside by his company commander, Captain Cohen (for whom Pop could do no wrong since the time Pop, called to lead grace in mess hall, said Catholic grace and then called for silence, put his cap back on, and recited the Shema Yisrael.)

Captain Cohen said to Pop, "Sergeant, we need men to stay behind as weapons instructors, and since you shot expert with almost every weapon you touched, we need you. You may wish to go overseas with your company. You have twenty minutes to make up your mind." Pop said, "Sir, I don't need twenty minutes, I have a wife and two little boys at home." (Guess who the four-month-old baby was.)

Pop said it came out later that his company was attached to the 4th Division, which was in the center of the front line in the Ardennes Forest in December 1944, and took 30% casualties. So Pop might never have come home -- and there would have been no Cecilia, no Mary, no Joe, no Ray, no Margaret.

God writes straight with crooked lines.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

E = m * c^2 and all that

I was thinking lately (a thing that some of my friends say I should not do too much) and it occurred to me that if God possesses infinite energy -- and I can't see any reason why not -- then creating a universe, even a very large one, out of nothing is no big deal.

Now since E = m * c^2, where c is the speed of light (about 186400), then m = E / c^2. This means that to create one kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of matter, God used up 9 * 10^16 joules of energy, or about 90,000,000,000,000,000 joules.

So what's a joule? One joule is the amount of work done when a mass of one kilogram is moved against a force of one newton. And one newton is that force which will give a mass of one kilogram an acceleration of 1 meter per second per second (or 1 m / s^2). In "English" units, 1 m / s^2 is about 1/10 the normal acceleration of gravity on Earth.

Matter and energy are interchangeable. Force, mass, work, acceleration -- all these terms, and the phenomena they name, are interrelated. (God is pretty smart.)

So some smart-aleck may ask: even if God possesses infinite energy, if God created an infinite universe, would that use up all His energy? The answer is no, because there are orders of infinities, some are bigger than others, and you can take away infinity from infinity and still have infinity. For instance, from the infinitely large set of ordinary counting numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) you can take away the infinite large set of even numbers, and still have an infinitely large set of odd numbers. And since every number has a double, which is an even number, there are as many even numbers as there are numbers.

(Don't blame me, I didn't make this up!)

Anyway, God said "Let there be light!" And there was light. And I can't see why that wasn't the same as the Big Bang.

That was the first Big Bang.

When I was at Adoration the other night, a line from a French Christmas carol ("He is Born, the Holy Child") ran through my head: "Depuis plus de quatre mille ans, nous le promettait les prophètes." -- "For more than four thousand years, the prophets promised us Him."

It doesn't make any difference to me if there were four thousand or unpteen bazillion years between creation and the birth of Christ. Let's just say it was a very long time. Dinosaurs came and went, continents shifted, seas rose and fell, glaciers advanced and retreated, and then at some imprecise time, God breathed life into the clay of the earth and made Man. (This does not seem to me to be necessarily inconsistent with the physical evolution of the human body.)

Then sometime about 1900 years before Christ, there was Abraham. After 1900 years, Christ was born and lived about 30 years, before He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It was about four or five days between that and the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood at the Last Supper. It was about 12 hours after that, that Christ was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and put on trial. It was about three hours He hung in horrible torment on the Cross. It took maybe one minute for Him to utter His very last words -- and then time sort of stops.

And tradition tells us that forty hours after that was the second Big Bang -- Christ's resurrection!

And just as the universe expanded and formed itself after the first Big Bang, the Church has expanded and formed Herself after the second Big Bang.

The first was physical, the second spiritual; the second depended on the first (without a universe, no Earth, no people, no need for redemption). But the second is infinitely more important.

Take care and God bless!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Gettysburg Address

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- this this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Christopher Dawson and Western History

I don't remember when I first read any of Christopher Dawson's work, but I have read six of his works --

The Dynamics of World History

The Making of Europe

Medieval Essays

Religion and the Rise of Western Culture

Progress and Religion

The Dividing of Christendom --

and now I have a seventh -- The Formation of Christendom (fascinating so far).

I would recommend him to anyone seriously interested in the history of Western civilization and culture.

As far as I know, Dawson is far from being the only historian who argued that Roman Catholic Christianity was one of the indispensable elements in the formation of Western Civilization.

My professor of Medieval History, at the University of Minnesota 1968-69, Robert S. Hoyt, the author of Europe in the Middle Ages, says in that book: "The Christian contribution to the transformation from late antique to early medieval culture was the controlling force that dominated the assimilation of the Germanic, classical, and distinctively Christian elements." (p. 74)

And long before him, G. K. Chesterton quipped that the Church is accused of trying to drag us back to the Dark Ages, when in fact it was the Church that got us out of them. (Sorry I don't have the exact quote or the book title.)

The point of course is that which so many good bloggers have said over and over -- in so far as the West repudiates its Judeo-Christian heritage, it will die. We in the United States are seeing religion being "marginalized," shoved out of the public square where, in my opinion, it has every right to be. And we're seeing our beloved nation going under.

Coincidence? I don't think so.

God bless you all!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Philip Trower's Books

I consider myself learned, not necessarily wise, because most, very likely all, of my good ideas came from somewhere or someone else, or from thinking about things that I learned from somewhere or someone else. (Wasn't it our favorite fat friar who said that anything in the intellect is first in the senses?)

A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a copy of Philip Trower's book The Catholic Church and the Counter-Faith, and I found it really good, and I like it a lot, because Trower manages to pull together lots of scattered scraps I picked up over the years, make a coherent whole out of them, and point me toward a need for more study and better understanding of the scraps.

For instance, one of my favorite sentences from that book is this:
"After Descartes had philosophically shut men up inside their minds, the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) redecorated the prison's interior, the Scot David Hume (1711-1776) locked the door and the Prussian Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) threw away the key." (p.73)

I read a little Descartes in college (philosophy, not math; how could such a great mathematician be such a lousy philosopher?) and I think I've dabbled a bit in Locke, Hume, and Kant (getting old, can't really remember); but the thing is that if I want to really understand Trower's statement, all I have to do is pick up these men's books and read them.

So the other day in the mail I finally got my hands on a copy of Trower's book Turmoil and Truth, and just a few minutes ago stumbled across another of his gems which exactly describes my experience with the world of learning (whether it's higher mathematics or growing flowers):

"One of the chief hazards for scholars of every kind is 'not being able to see the forest for the trees.'
"When we look at any of the things God has created, perhaps the most striking thing about them is the contrast between their simplicity and intelligibility when taken as a whole, and their complexity and obscurity when examined in detail. That is why there are biologists who cannot see any essential difference between men and animals, and ordinary folk who can. Peering at the details produces a kind of myopia about the whole." (p.54)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Regina Caeli

Regina Caeli laetare, alleluia

Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia

Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia

Gaude et laetare Virgo Maria alleluia

Quia surrexit Dominus vere alleluia!

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia,

For He Whom thou wast made worthy to bear, alleluia

Has risen as He said, alleluia

Pray for us to God, alleluia

Rejoice and be glad O Virgin Mary, alleluia

For the Lord is truly risen alleluia!


I wish a most blessed, happy, and holy Easter to all my blog friends! Also Pesach Shalom!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Here are some thoughts by Jim Bishop (from The Day Christ Died) and G. K. Chesterton (from The Everlasting Man).

"A greater contrast could not be imagined than the lax, indulgent, highly civilized life of Rome, and the strict life of Palestine where every last detail of daily living was regulated by the law of a stern religion. Yet these two worlds must have figured with equal importance in the mind of Jesus as he spoke parables to teach the people, and these two worlds joined to pronounce the most important death dentence in the history of man."

-- Bishop p.244

"For the central history of civilisation, as I see it, consists of two further stages before the final stage of Christendom. The first was the struggle between this [Latin] paganism and something less worthy than itself, and the second the process by which it grew in itself less worthy."

-- Chesterton Ch.VI: The Demons and the Philosophers

"There is a very real sense in which the Christian is worse than the heathen . . . or even the Roman potentially worse then the Carthaginian. But there is only one sense in which he is worse; and that is not in being positively worse. The Christian is only worse because it is his business to be better."

-- same

". . . certain anti-human antagonisms seem to recur in this tradition of black magic. There may be suspected as running through it everywhere, for instance, a mystical hatred of the idea of childhood. People would understand better the popular fury against the witches, if they remembered that the malice most commonly attributed to them was preventing the birth of children."

-- same

"Very various and incompatible were the things that could be loved by the consuls of Rome and the prophets of Israel; but they were one in what they hated."

-- same

"The civilisation that was centered in Tyre and Sidon was above all things practical. . . . They believed, in the appropriate modern phrase, in people who delivered the goods. In their dealings with their god Moloch, they themselves were always careful to deliver the goods."
-- same

"There is a religious war when two worlds meet; that is, when two visions of the world meet; or in more modern language when two moral atmpospheres meet. What is the one man's breath is the other man's poison; and it is vain to talk of giving pestilence a place in the sun. And this is what we must understand, even at the expense of digression, if we would really see what happened in the Mediterranean; when right athwart the rising of the Republic on the Tiber, a thing overtopping and disdaining it, dark with all the riddles of Asia and trailing all the tribes and dependencies on imperialism, came Carthage riding on the sea."

-- VII: The War of the Gods and Demons

"What strikes us in the Italian cults is their local and especially their domestic character. . . . We have a vision of a god of roofs and a god of gate-posts, of a god of doors and even a god of drains. It has been suggested that all mythology was a sort of fairy-tale; but this was a sort of fairy-tale which may be truly cfalled a fireside tale, or a nursery-tale; because it was a tale of the interior of the home . . . "

-- same

"But the worshipers of Moloch were not gross or primitive. They were members of a mature and polished civilisation, abounding in refinements and luxuries; they were probably far more civilised than the Romans. And Moloch was not a myth; or at any rate his meal was not a myth. These highly civilised people really met together to invoke the blessing of heaven by throwing hundreds of their infants into a large furnace."
-- same

"Before the gates of the golden city Hannibal fought his last fight for it and lost; and Carthage fell as nothing has fallen since Satan. The name of the New City remains only as a name. There is no stone of it left upon the sand. Another war was indeed waged before the final destruction: but the destruction was final. Only men digging in its deep foundations centuries after found a heap of hundreds of little skeletons, the holy relics of that religion. For Carthage fell because she was faithful to her own philosophy and had followed out to its logical conclusion her own vision of the universe. Moloch had eaten his children."


"Nobody understands the romance of Rome, and why she rose afterward to a representative leadership that seemed almost fated and fundamentally natural. Who does not keep in mind the agony of horror and humiliation through which she had continued to testify to the sanity that is the soul of Europe? . . . It is not for us to guess in what manner or moment the mercy of God might in any case have rescued the world; but it is certain that the struggle which established Christendom would have been very different if there had been an empire of Carthage instead of an empire of Rome. We have to thank the patience of the Punic wars if, in after ages, divine things descended at least upon human things and not inhuman."

-- same

"Europe evolved into its own vices . . . but theworse into which it evolved was not like what it had escaped. Can any man in his senses compare the great wooden doll, whom the children expected to eat a bit of the dinner, with the great idol who would have been expected to eat the children? That is the measure of how far the world went astray, compared with how far it might have gone astray. If the Romans were ruthless, it was in a true sense to an enemy, and certainly not merely a rival.

-- same

"Many moderns have insisted on the smallness of that Mediterranean world; and the wider horizons that might have awaited it with the discovery of the other continents. But this is an illusion; one of the many illusions of materialism. The limits that paganism had reached in Europe were the limits of human existence; at its best it had only reached the same limits everywhere else. The Roman stoics did not need Chinamen to teach them stoicism. The Pythagoreans did not need any Hindus to teach them about recurrence or the simple life or the beauty of being a vegetarian. In so far as they could get these things from the East, they had already got rather too much of them from the East. . . . It is essential to recognize that the Roman Empire was recognized as the highest achievement of the human race; and also as the broadest. A dreadful secret seemed to be written as in obscure hieroglyphics across those mighty works of marble and stone, those colossal ampitheatres and aqueducts. Man could do no more"

-- VIII: The End of the World

"There was nothing left that could conquer Rome; but there was also nothing left that could improve it. It was the strongest thing that was growing weak. It was the best thing that was going to the bad."


"Jesus was crucified. He faced the Holy City for the last time."

-- Bishop, p. 297

"Mary of Alphaeus said she did not want to leave. . . . Mary Magdalen sat down beside her. Both leaned against the stone.

"It had been a long day. A very long day. There was much to remember; and some would remember it this way and some would remember it that way. Much of it had been done in secret, in spite of the public execution, and it would be weeks before the news reached the small towns of Galilee and the settlements east of Jericho.

"The grief among the followers of Jesus would be poignant, a volatile fuel which, in its own fierce flame, burns itself out quickly. They did not understand. (For a moment in time at least, they could not understand.) To their way of thinking, this was now a tragic defeat. It was not.

"It was victory beyond their most exalted imaginings. He had come her to die. And he had died. He had come to preach a new covenant with his Father, and he had preached it. He had come to tell man that the way to everlasting life was love -- each for the other, each for him, and his love for all -- and he had proved this by laying down his life in a torrent of torment -- for them.

"He did not die particularly for the Jews, or for the Gentiles. He died for man. All mankind. He came to Palestine to lay the foundations of his new covenant because he and his Father were dissatisfied with the old. The Father had never made a covenant with the Romans, or the Greeks or the Egyptians. He had made it, through Moses, with the Jews. . . . If a new covenant was to replace the old, it would be negotiated with the same people.

"That is why he had to die in Palestine; that is why, of all the cities in Palestine, he had to die in the Holy City -- the city of his Father. The high priests rejected him and plotted against him and killed him. The people didn't. The people were looking for the Messiah, waiting eagerly. And, although Jesus did not fit their conception of a resplendent Messiah clothed in clouds of glory, they were willing to listen. They did listen. The people were of good heart."

-- pp. 317-318

"The two Marys sat with their backs to the stone. They loved him and, in their love, they missed the enormous triumph; the new promise; the good news.

"They did not even notice that the sun was shining."
-- p. 319

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Breaking news! Picture of Judas!

One of my esteemed colleagues here posted a very interesting short video about Judas. The spiritual message I got from it was that it's very dangerous for my soul to think that I'll stick with Our Lord Jesus Christ only as long as things are going my way; otherwise I bail out and save my own skin.

Looking around dusty old archives, I found what I believe is a genuine picture of a Judas.

Here it is.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Let us go to Jerusalem

Lord Jesus, Crucified, have mercy on us!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What went wrong ? - 2

In the spring of 1964 I left a job at the FBI, had a small part in a play at St. Anthony of Padua High School in Minneapolis (that's me there), and went to work in a tiny print shop.

Go back thirty years.

My mom went to work for the FBI in Milwaukee in 1934, and my dad went to work for the FBI in Philadelphia in 1938. They met in Washington DC in 1940, had their first date in January 1941, and were married on September 6, 1941, just before Pearl Harbor. Mom left the work force sometime in the spring of 1942 to be delivered of my older brother John, and Dad stayed with the FBI until 1970. I worked as a summer helper in the Minneapolis office in 1961 and 1962, then signed up as a full-time worker in the late winter of 1962-63. I swore an oath which (if I recall rightly is the same administered to all military personnel) to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies foreign and domestic, and so on.

In 1964, St. Anthony of Padua was still an all-girls school, run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet; most of the faculty were Sisters. How I got the job of designing the sets and supervising their construction, as well as having a small part, is a saga in itself, so I'll skip that. I will mention, though, that even as late as 1964, the girls tried to look older, demure, and "ladylike" for their graduation pictures.

(I have all the senior yearbooks for St. Anthony from 1960 through 1967, and to see the styles of photography, typography, and girls' fashion change over those eight years is an education in itself. I have to add that even as late as 1964, girls were wearing undergarments confining enough that they didn't jiggle when they walked, wiggling hips was not encouraged, and going braless wasn't even thought of yet.)

In the late summer of 1964 I went to work in a tiny print shop in downtown Minneapolis. There was the boss and me, and he hired me on the spot when he saw that I knew how to run and clean his small offset press. The pay was low, the benefits nil, the schedule erratic, and there were only two work rules: the printing had to be perfect, and it had to done on time. I could relate to that, because my maternal grandfather was a printer his whole working life, from about 1900 to 1955.

(He got cheated out of his union pension when he retired in 1955; they claimed he had missed a payment on it back about 1939 or so. My dad threatened legal action, and the financial secretary of the union laughed in his face. Grandpop and Grandmom lived in abject poverty on Social Security until they died young [72, young for their families) in 1959.)

I stayed at the print shop until the spring of 1968, and I learned a lot about offset and letterpress printing. They're probably dying arts now; I know letterpress printing is almost extinct, and it's a shame. You don't have to have a university degree to set type and pull proofs.

Between 1964 and 1968, I got some more schooling at the University. The first technical calculators, by TI, showed up in the University Engineering Bookstore in the fall of 1964; my recollection is that they cost $100; before that we used slide rules. We added, subtracted, did short multiplication and division by memory -- we had been expected to learn all that in fourth grade.

In 1965, I took a course in advanced composition, and I remember the teacher telling us that all papers had to be typewritten, and that we were expected to be able to handle the English language intelligently, so any error in spelling (aside from obvious typographical errors like t for r), punctuation, grammar, or syntax, would get a paper an automatic F. I took a course in modern poetry and drama from the English department, hoping we would declaim and perform the works, but no. We analyzed and picked them to death. It nearly bored me to death.

The year 1965 was the year I finally took -- and flunked -- the Army physical. People tell me now it undoubtedly saved my life. I lost six buddies to Vietnam.

I think I took only one quarter at the U during 1966: no money. From Christmas 1966 to Easter 1967 I grew a full beard, and finally my dad told me to shave it or move out. A beard on a young man was a political statement back then.

In the spring of 1967, after about six or seven years of dithering, doubting, questioning and wondering about the Faith -- i.e., was what I was taught as a child able to fit the complexities of the adult world? -- I walked up to St. Bridget's and had a long talk with the assistant pastor, Fr. Bill Ward (God rest his soul) and decided that it was and I would stay. Lewis and Chesterton had a lot to do with it too.

In the summer of 1967, a scuffle between some white kids and some black kids, after the Minneapolis Aquatennial torchlight parade, escalated into a full-scale race riot. A lot of people who thought "it would never happen here" were pretty surprised. Late that summer I went back to school full time for good and stayed till graduation.

And of course 1968 was the year Dr. King was assassinated, the riot happened at the Democratic convention in Chicago, I went to work at a little hotel in downtown Minneapolis and met a young woman I came to call "Princess."

And that was the fall that the two priests at the Newman Center at the U "came to work" in business suits and insisted on being called "George and Harry."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Saint Me

I have written to Pope Benedict (in a mixture of German and Latin, of course) asking him to canonize me while still alive.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What went wrong with the American Experiment?

Adrienne at Adrienne's Corner asked other bloggers to comment on the question, and link to her blog. She provided two links, and I read the posts, and they're both good, so I'm not going to try to duplicate them. I'll just add some of my own memories of the 1960s, with background.
I graduated from St. Bridget's Grade School in north Minneapolis in 1958 (when Pius XII had "always" been Pope, and Eisenhower had "always" been president). I went to De La Salle High School (one of the De La Salle yearbooks was themed "The Soaring Sixties"), and graduated in 1962, when John XXIII was Pope, Kennedy was president, Vatican II had not yet begun, and no one I knew had ever heard of the Beatles.

I began school at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in the fall of 1962, in civil engineering, and I remember one prof telling us that they intended to be tough on us and wash out as many of us as they could, because they wanted only the very best getting degrees from the U. It was tough; I lasted four quarters, and had to change colleges.

All this took two years, because I occasionally dropped out of school to work enough to make enough money to afford another quarter. It was risky to drop out of school, because there was a draft then, and (as I recall it) as long as a guy was in school he would have a 2-S student deferment; otherwise he was 1-A and liable to be drafted. So it wasn't until the fall of 1964 that I found myself back on campus, and I noticed things had changed.

The most noticeable change was that the kids born in 1946 were at the U as freshmen. One other thing I noticed, which didn't affect me then bout would some later, was the beginning of the "Weekly Silent Vigil to Protest the Vietnam War." The protestors stood on the sidewalk in front of the University Armory, just across University Avenue from the Newman Center, where I hung out a lot.

The most annoying change was the time I went to noon Mass at Newman Center sometime that fall. During the Mass they sang the "Gelineau Psalms," which I took an immediate dislike to, because they sang the word "YHVH" in full, out loud. I was twenty at the time, and had been interested in Judaism and Yiddishkeit for four or five years. I knew that a pious Jew will never utter that most holy name of God; in the "prayer of prayers," the Shema Yisrael, whenever the text has the four Hebrew letters, the word Adonai, "Lord" is substituted.

This was the beginning of the era of ecumenism, interfaith dailogue and sharing, and I figured it was entirely possible that some Jewish kids from the Hillel Foundation down the street might come in and see what the goyim were up to. So after Mass, I went to one of the singers, a guy I knew from De La Salle, and explained to him why I thought we should not say the name of God out loud. And he said to me, "This is the way it's going to be around here. If you don't like it, you can get the hell out."

This was my first brush with "progressive" thinking; it wouldn't be the last.

And this was after the assassination of John Kennedy and the coming of the Beatles to the States.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sex Education and Physics

And I bet you're saying "Whaaat?!"

When I was in Physics 1 as a freshman engineering student at the University of Minnesota, one of the topics of study was falling-body problems. (No pun intended.) An object dropped from a height will cover distance downward according to the formula

s = (1/2 * g * t^2) where g is the acceleration due to gravity (and * means times, and t^2 means t-squared)

and the velocity of the object will be

v = g*t

To make things more interesting (read: complicated), the downward acceleration is independent of any forward motion the object might have, such as if the object were dropped from a moving airplane. Thus both downward and forward motions need to be analyzed. The math will show that a falling body in motion when dropped will follow a curve called a parabola, and its point of impact can be easily calculated.

But it's not as easy as that. There is air resistance, which increases proportionally to the mass and shape of the falling body, and (to make things even more interesting) changes the path of the falling body from a parabola to a cycloid.

So I asked the professor, "When do we get to figure air resistance?" and he replied, "Come back when you've had about five quarters of calculus."

Translated, this means: "You don't have the need or ability to understand that yet."

So with sex education. Little kids don't need to know about the "mechanics" of sex, because they don't have the need or ability to understand it (and though I'm not a parent, I would bet all my blog dollars they don't care either.)

I would venture to say that almost all little kids, when asking why Mommy's belly is getting big, being told that their little brother or sister is growing in there, will ask "Well, how'd he or she get there?" Parents correct me on this one, but I bet it will be quite enough to tell a small child, "God put him / her there."

Parents can tell their kids the equivalent of what the physics prof told me.

And I cannot state strongly enough that it's nobody's business but the parents' to give the child any more information, because the parents know their child better than any teacher possibly could, and they know when the child is able to absorb and assimilate the information.

(This applies only to ordinary kids in ordinary families, of course. The "special cases" are something else entirely.)

Great video from Michael Voris

I just saw a video posted up by the Facebook group "Traditional/Conservative Catholics" and commented to its main contributor as follows.

I noticed the emphasis Michael Voris gave in that excellent video to the point that the Mass is not about us, or the priest; it's about Jesus Christ, Who is the real celebrant, and in Whose place the priest acts. In the Ukrainian Byzantine liturgy (from St. John Chrysostom) there is the following prayer by the priest of which this is a short excerpt:

"Bending my neck, I approach and I petition You: turn not Your face from me nor reject me from among Your children, but allow these gifts to be offered to You by me, Your sinful and unworthy servant. For it is You Who offer and You Who are offered; it is You Who receive and You Who are given, O Christ our God, and we give glory to You, together with Your eternal Father and Your most holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen."

I might add that Ukrainian preserves the formal / intimate usage in pronouns and verbs, and that in all the liturgy, God the Father, Son, and Spirit are addressed as intimates. Which Latin used to do. The fault, of course, is with the English language for having lost the distinction.

Best wishes to you, and keep the commentaries coming!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mainstream Media Memory Manipulation

My local paper ran a story on Jane Russell today; it said in part:

"She wrote in her 1985 autobiography, 'My Paths and Detours,' that during high school she had a back-alley abortion, which may have rendered her unable to bear children."

The experience, which she says nearly killed her, led her to become outspoken about abortion, denying that any circumstance - rape or incest included - justified taking the life of an unborn child.

No mention in my paper of what she did about it. She became a passionate pro-lifer and adoption advocate -- which a couple of honest blogs (Fr Longemecker andf Life Site News) mentioned.

I wrote a comment to the paper and pointed this out, along with a statement attributed to her: “People should never, ever have an abortion. Don’t talk to me about it being a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body. The choice is between life and death.”

The paper printed my letter. I'm very surprised they did.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oath of Office

The oath of office of the President of the United States is an oath or affirmation required by the United States Constitution before the President begins the execution of the office. The wording is specified in Article Two, Section One, Clause Eight:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Let's face it, folks. He LIED.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wisconsin and me

By George, I have thought of something.

According to the sources on both sides I have read, the one side says there is not enough money and cuts have to be made. The other side says the cuts are too drastic and will hurt people.

My situation (I think exactly analogous) is this:

There are two eat joints here I positively love, and if I could, I'd eat at one of them almost every day. My business would help them, both owners have said or hinted as much.

But right now today my savings account is $0.00, checking ditto, credit card maxed, and debts all over the place not counting the mortgage, plus about $350/mo in unreimbursed medical expenses.

So what's just? To keep the money in my own pocket so I can survive, or risk being in worse financial condition to help out good local businesses I like very much?

What's just? What's fair? What's moral?

Monday, February 21, 2011

More sweet honey for Granddaughter

Last night I wrote a short note to my granddaughter, first one ever completely in Ukrainian. Fifteen words took me half an hour, and I consulted five reference books. I used to be an ESL tutor, and I can tell you Ukrainian is a piece of cake compared to American English. So I sympathize more and more with her struggles with this language. Here it is:

золото і самоцвіти

Найдорошка ♥ Внучкo ♥ Марійка,

Моє серце ставало золото колй ти усиновляла мене як дідусь, і ти -- дорогоцінни камінь його.

любов ♥ завжди,

твий ♥ люблачий ♥ Дідусь

Gold and jewels

Dearest ♥ Granddaughter ♥ Mariyka,

My heart turned to gold when you adopted me as Grandpapa, and you are its precious jewel.

Love ♥ always,

THY ♥ loving ♥ Grandpapa

And when typing in Ukrainian I have to do it one character at a time. Allied problem is that I'm still thinking in English. But for her it's worth the work. She's trying hard to be at home in an English-speaking environment; the least I can do is try to enter her world, so to speak.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Letter to my Granddaughter Maria

Найдорошка ♥ Внучкo ♥ Марійка,

[Very dearest ♥ granddaughter ♥ Mariyka]

I was watching a speech by a guy named Herman Cain, a black man from Georgia (USA, not Caucasus), who is considering running for president in 2012. He said a lot of great things about America, and he said them very well indeed. Watching him brought you to my mind.

Now you may well ask: Why?

You said once that I'm the grandfather you never had. I noticed too that in your photos from Ukraine I didn't see any old people - my age or older. I really don't know at all -- "Не знаю ничого" ["I know nothing"] is one of my favorite Ukrainian sentences -- but please allow me to guess that a lot of Ukrainian people about my age might have been patriotic dissidents against the Soviet regime, and were either executed or exiled to the Gulag for it.

(I have read "The Gulag Archipelago," all three volumes, three times. Also Orest Subtelny's book "Ukraine" twice.)

The point, dearest Granddaughter, is that back in your family history there undoubtedly were people who knew what slavery under the Tsarist or Soviet government was, just as Herman Cain's ancestors were slaves on plantations in the American South before the Civil War.

I know that some of the very old Ukrainians at St. Constantine lived under the slavery of the Soviets and the Nazis, and when they came to America sixty or fifty years ago, they cherished the liberty that this country gave them -- and an unfree Soviet Ukraine never gave them.

I remember Maria Iwaskewycz showing pictures of a new little village church, and saying with tears in her eyes that they will have Divine Liturgy again -- after seventy years. Seventy years without God! It was she, or perhaps Katherine Zastawny, or Julia Maksimkiw, who said, "Never trust anyone who wants to do away with God, Marriage, or the Family!"

So, Dearest Granddaughter, at the same time I ask you to never forget you're a daughter of God and a daughter of Ukraine, I ask you to remember that you live in America now, and likely will your whole life. Please remember that you, who have in your Ukrainian blood a longing for liberty, can put that longing to work as a voting citizen of the United States.

Be a good student, be a good doctor, and be a good American too.

твий ♥ люблачий ♥ Дідусь

[thy ♥ loving ♥ Grandpapa]

PS – Today is Abraham Lincoln's Birthday (it used to be a national holiday). I ask you to look up his Gettysburg Address and read it very carefully so that – as he said – "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

God bless you richly, Dearest Granddaughter Mariyka!

PPS for Americans - "Mariyka" is an endearment-diminutive of "Maria."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rome, Sodom, Gomorrah . . . that stuff, you know.

Today I accidentally stumbled across a Facebook application called something like "being really really ridiculously good-looking." The pix are not really that bad, but the young people's language would make a whore blush. This is America's future, folks.

Boy or girl? Look closely.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Random Idle Thoughts

If we lived in an unfallen world, Murphy's Law wouldn't exist, because it wouldn't have to.

I'm a prude because I know what a libertine I could be.

Being ill is aggravating, but it makes me realize my dependence on God, and that's very good.

How much ground would a ground hog hog, if a ground hog could hog ground?

Thank God for Purgatory! I don't care if I have to stay there till the end of the world, if I may just get in the door.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I hope you're sitting down.

Hi, blog friends! This is not bad news! It's good news, in fact very good news (though of course not as good as the Good News).

I have a granddaughter.

And you may ask: "How can this be?! Old Bob has never been married and has never had a child!"

Here's the story.

About 1995, thoroughly disgusted with the way the liturgy was being mangled in a certain Latin-rite parish here in Minneapolis, I started going to the Ukrainian Catholic parish here, which uses the Byzantine rite of St. John Chrysostom.

(To the best of my knowledge, this rite has survived unchanged since about AD 400, except for the translation from Greek to modern Ukrainian. In the Orthodox Slavic world, the liturgy has always been in the vernacular. What is now the Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide was split from Rome in 1054, but in 1596 some of the bishops asked to be reunited to Rome, and were, and are now a church sui juris.)

The first few times I went to Divine Liturgy there (at 8:00 am, yuk, but I was much younger and stronger then) I heard the liturgy recited in English, and then, after I got the hang of how it is structured (same as Roman but a little different), I started going at 10:00 to hear the liturgy chanted (a cappella, mind you) in Ukrainian. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

I sang in the choir for part of one liturgical year, and discovered that during Divine Liturgy time is irrelevant. It's exactly as if we are lifted out of time to brush with eternity, and nothing earthly matters at all.

During those many years at this parish, I made many friends, learned to hold a (very halting) conversation in Ukrainian, and did a bit of a stint as an ESL tutor to Ukrainian refugees, mostly Soviet Ukraine.

One very odd sidelight is that one of the best friends I made is a man almost exactly my age, an engineer, a family man, who - get this! - served (not by choice!) in the Soviet Army when he was young, exactly at the time I would have been serving in the U.S. Army if I hadn't flunked the physical exam. It's not impossible that he and I, now friends, could once have been enemy soldiers staring at each other across the Berlin Wall.

During all this time, and before, my favorite eating place was a Ukrainian deli-bakery-butcher shop where I could get heavenly delicious meals and practice my Ukrainian at the same time. This is where I met Maria. Her immediate family came here from Ukraine about 2004 or 2005 (when she was about 13 or 14), and she went to De La Salle High School, my old alma mater, knowing very little English, if any.

In 2010 she graduated from high school and went to college in Duluth. A month or so in her first term we happened to meet and she mentioned that she was still having trouble with English, especially formal written English such as college papers demand (I had a prof once . . . but no.)

So I gathered together a pile of English language reference books: dictionary, thesaurus, grammar, style guide, and so on (packrats have two of everything), and gave them to her. She was so happy that she gave me a huge Ukrainian bear hug (much more enthusiastic than an American one) and told me that she was adopting me as her grandfather.

Since then, we have corresponded regularly. I write her more oftem than she writes me, because she's up to her eyeballs in difficult course work in a pre-med curriculum. But she is happy to have me in her life and has said so:

Me, Nov. 2010:
Hi, Maria, I hope you don't mind that I call you "doroha vnuchka" [Dear Granddaughter]-- if you do, just say so and I won't do it any more. I hope you have a very good month in school before Christmas. Anything I can do to help, just let me know. I'm praying for you all the time.

Hi Didusyu [Grandfather], of course not, i really like when you call me vnuchka :) I hope it will be a good month too, but it's going to be very busy one. I hope everything is well with you. Thank you for caring, it's good to have you "didusyu". Thank you so much!! :) God bless you!

Me January 12 2011:
Grandfathers do worry about their granddaughters.

because that what they feel like doing.

Oh, yes! I want to know that you are okay, well, and happy!

thank you, it's good to know that someone like you care about me.

I'm very happy in my soul (v dushu?) that I can give you some happiness.

im happy for you too

Maria January 18:
Dorogyi Didusu', [Dear(est?) Grandfather (Grandpapa?)
Thank you for telling me what you just did. Your words make me think about life, faith and people who really understand the meaning of God's love. I'm glad to felt better. I promise to write as often as i can and Im glad to have you in my life Didus'. To have you as a techer, friend and person that i can tell everything to means a lot to me. You have my full permission to do so. [tell people about me]
God Bless you! Love always
Vnuchka ♥

* * *

First came the pure joy, the kind of happiness I have never felt in my life, the kind that comes from giving without expectation. I have to explain that while I think I have a hard head (one friend calls me "the Bell-Curve mind") I have a very soft heart, full of sentiment, shmaltz, and romance. When I was young my favorite play was Cyrano de Bergerac, and still is way up there, with that heartbreaking fifth act and its last scenes.

Then the joy became alloyed with worry -- something every parent and grandparent knows, I'm sure, but I never did. Worry by day, worry by night. I asked some middle aged moms and grandmas if this was normal or I was crazy, and they all said it was perfectly normal, and one grandma I know told me that I would be crazy if I didn't worry. These smart women also told me that kids at "that age" also do the fly-away-come-back dance, and it's normal for them to be sometimes uncommunicative.

Of course I'd like to hear from Maria more than I do, but the nature of the situation is that it's just not possible. All I can do is be patient and understanding, and love, love, love without thought of reward. I think St. Ignatius said that was what we should do to imitate Christ. One day a couple of weeks ago when I hadn't heard from Maria for what seemed an eternity, the verse "Oh, Jerusalem!" (I think Matthew, Palm Sunday) popped into my head.

Oh, am I learning so many many new things! My heart is growing and stretching, and even with the down side, I love it. One close friend remarked to me recently that perhaps God kept romance, wife, and children from me so that in old age He could give me this. Blessed be God!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Two multiple murderers

It occurred to me this morning that two mass murderers, Major Hasan and Doctor Gosnell, were known for what they were -- but the evidence was ignored.

My cynical self says: because one is a Moslem and the other an abortionist, in today's politically correct America, neither can do any wrong.

And I have this creeping little nasty suspicion that in the end, both of them are going to get off with slaps on the wrist.

I am sickened but not surprised. God have mercy on us!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Something new and joyous

A bit over a year ago, I gave a pile of English-language reference books to a young Ukrainian immigrant friend who was just beginning college. She was so happy to get them that she told me she was adopting me as her grandfather! Well, well! and Oh, my goodness!

We have been corresponding regularly, and of course she is so busy that she doesn't have time to answer all my letters; but she is very happy to have me in her life and has said so.

I wrote to her a few days ago:
To give you a grandfather's love means to smile with you, rejoice with you, weep (плакати) with you. It means to help you, to teach you, to learn from you (like how to write good Ukrainian). I'm not a parent, nor a teacher, nor one of your peers, I'm an old man who has lived long and learned much (and the best things I have learned are about God and our holy faith). This puts me in a position different from the others.

She responded:
Dorogyi Didusu', [Dear Grandpapa]
Thank you for telling me what you just did. Your words make me think about life, faith and people who really understand the meaning of God's love. I'm glad to felt better. I promise to write as often as i can and Im glad to have you in my life Didus'. To have you as a techer, friend and person that i can tell everything to means a lot to me.
God Bless you! Love always
Vnuchka ♥ [Granddaughter]

A close friend, and grandmother herself, told me that she thought God gave me no girlfriend, no wife, and no children, because He was preparing me for this.

Anyway, it's lovely, and makes my heart warm and light. Please pray for her and for me. Thanks very very much!


On Jan. 22nd, 1973, the US Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalized abortion, essentially for any reason, through all nine months of pregnancy. Since then about 52 million American who should be here are not.

Now it is very wrong to treat a person as merely an economic unit, but the loss of 52 million people between ages 1 to 38, has to have had a devastating effect on the economy of this nation.