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    Holy Thursday
    April 17, 2014
    gethsemane "[I]n the agony of Gethsemane the ultimate consequences of our sin had their hour. . . . God permitted his Son to taste the human agony of rejection and plunge towards the abyss. . . Gethsemane was the hour in which Jesus' human heart and mind experienced the ultimate odium of the sin he was to bear as his own . . .". Romano Guardini, The Lord.

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    From the Emails
    My response to a young family member who was getting questions about the Big Bang Theory and was puzzled that a priest came up with the Theory:
    The Big Bang theory is nothing for a Catholic to get hung up on. You just need to keep a steady eye on this single truth (taken from Fr. Stanley Jaki, the "Pope's physicist"): "The intelligent Christian will . . . keep in mind [this]: The total inability of the scientific method to demonstrate creation out of nothing." Ponder that statement. The TOTAL inability. Something out of NOTHING. Keep a steady and sure eye on that concept, and you'll be fine when talking with any atheist. They can whip out formulas that take up a 5-acre chalk board: they can't begin to demonstrate creation out of nothing. It's a leap that the scientific method, by definition, can't account for. Science deals with the material, the observable, the empirical. The idea of nothingness leading to somethingness transcends all scientific tools. It's a philosophical or theological exercise, not a scientific one. The Big Bang theory does contradict the creation account in Genesis, but Catholics don't care. Catholics have never (never) taken the creation story as literal truth. I believe you can find statements in Thomas Aquinas' works, for instance, about the importance, but not literal truth, of the creation account in Genesis. Aquinas lived from 1225 to 1274. Hope this helps.

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    Interesting
    April 16, 2014
    H.I.F. Perhaps the most interesting (and disturbing and scary) article of the month: 10 Lesser-Known American Mysteries. Excerpt:
    Imagine a place, so rugged and desolate, so empty and uninhabited, that it would be “the perfect dumping ground” for a serial killer. Imagine a hot, humid area, where the animals, the insects, and the weather can destroy any evidence in a matter of a few days. This place is the Texas Killing Fields, located just off Interstate 45 between Galveston and Houston. This entire swath of land consists of thick marshes, overgrown patches, and abandoned oil fields. The 40-kilometer (25 mi) area of the Fields borders League City and the nearby Calder Oil Field and is the site of some of the most puzzling murders in the United States.

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    Reddit
    From Reddit's TIL feature ("sub-Reddit"): "TIL George Washington forbade his troops to burn effigies of the Pope out of respect for Catholics."

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    GKC Wednesday
    Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the "Tremendous Trifles" column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He gave me permission to use them here. I hope y'all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published. Chesterton Short(s) Michael Coren relates a priceless anecdote about Chesterton in his biography of H. G. Wells:
    Wells was disarmed by Chesterton's good nature, disturbed by his inability to pigeon-hole the man. On a summers day in 1907, for example, Wells and Chesterton went to Oxford to attend a lecture. Walking together after the address Wells began to harangue his friend about the "bloody hand of Christianity." The diatribe lasted for over 35 minutes, without Chesterton making the slightest objection. At the end of it he turned to Wells, smiled and said, "Yes, you do have a point."
    Coren's book is rewarding both for the real low-down on Wells and for the insertion of Chesterton from time to time in the story. [The Invisible Man, New York: Athenaeum, 1993, p. 80]

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    Conan
    April 15, 2014
    Yesterday, North Korea held its annual marathon. Congratulations to first, second and third place winner, Kim Jong Un.

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    Interesting
    H.I.F. Muslims v. Gays. Cleveland Hopkins cab drivers refuse to drive with Gay Games signage. Heck, I didn't even know there was a thing known as the "Gay Games." And I wish I still didn't know. I'm now expending mental energy, resisting the possibility of visualizing it.

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    From the Bottom Line Personal: "Tornadoes are just as likely to hit states within the Deep South and Midwest as states within Tornado Alley." Tornado Alley is defined as Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

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    Interesting
    April 14, 2014
    H.I.F. I've long maintained that people who lead dissolute lives are the first to accuse others of racism or some other odious trait. Theodore Dalrymple makes an observation along the same lines.
    As befits an era in which virtual reality is more important to many people than reality itself, the expression of high-flown sentiment is now taken by many as the major part or even the whole of virtue. The most virtuous person is he who expresses the most all-encompassing benevolence at the highest level of abstraction.

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    Monday
    Autobiographical Corner The kids had Spring Break last week, so we took off on Wednesday for a quick tour of Franciscan University (a college visit for Jack (17)) and Pittsburgh. On the way, we stopped at the Sorrowful Mother Shrine, in Bellevue, Ohio, which is south of Cedar Point. I wanted to stop years ago, but I normally get to this area only on my way to Cedar Point with the kids, and they're usually not in a prayerful mood when we're less than an hour from the world's greatest ride amusement park. The Shrine is very neat . . . and free . . . and definitely worth the stop, even though two different GPS devices in our car failed us and we had to find it the old fashioned way (looking at a map and swearing a lot). The Shrine is Eastern Rite. It features a main chapel, lots of little chapels, the stations of the cross, and various statuary across a 126-acre parcel of land. It also has a gift shop (a "must" for any family with smaller children). We then drove to Steubenville, the Home of Dean Martin, the seventies funk rock group Wild Cherry, Franciscan University . . . and nothing else. The City is a dump. It was depressing just driving and looking around its downtown. But Franciscan University pretty much knocked our socks off. Regardless of whether Jack attends or not, we've decided to make it a regular target of our charitable donations. Consisting of nearly 3,000 students from every state in the union, it's uncompromisingly Catholic to the hilt. It exudes Catholic goodness. They've taken the virtues of hospitality, kindness, joy, peace, patience, and modesty, then instilled them across a college community of over 3,000 people: students, professors, administrators, kitchen staff. I was stunned. I wouldn't have thought such a thing possible, but that's exactly what Harvard-lawyer-turned-priest Fr. Scanlon pulled off after he reformed the (somewhat derelict) college back in the 1970s. And it's respected academically ("Franciscan University of Steubenville's ranking in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities (Midwest), 28"). We then traveled 45 minutes across West Virginia (the panhandle; it took ten minutes) to Pittsburgh. None of us had ever been there. As we emerged out of the mountain through the tunnel to the west of Pittsburgh, we were amazed at the beauty that is downtown Pittsburgh. I searched for a picture on the web that would capture what we saw, but I couldn't find one. (Note to photographers in Pittsburgh area: Get on U.S. 22 in late afternoon on a sunny day, go across the river, and turn around as you get near the mountain. Then snap a bunch of pictures. They'll be better than any Pittsburgh pics I was able to find on the web this morning.) We then spent the next 24 hours blitzing through as much of Pittsburgh as we could. We also took the amphibious "Ducky Tour," which was very cool. During the Tour, I learned that Pittsburgh had just recently completed its restoration. Back in the 1970s, the City was so polluted that you had to turn your car lights on at 2:00 in the afternoon, men couldn't wear white dress shirts outside without turning the shirts grimy-grey, and most of the buildings were black from all the soot. It's hard to believe that was the case. The City first eliminated (or greatly reduced) the air pollution, then it set about cleaning the place. The cleaning was completed about ten years ago, and now it's a beautiful place. Highly recommended. Pittsburgh pics from my iPhone:

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    Something for Palm Sunday
    April 13, 2014
    "The hour overflows with supernatural power. In these last days it is as if Jesus were gathering strength on strength preparing for the ultimate." Romano Guardini, The Lord

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    More Pittsburgh
    April 12, 2014
    Giant eyes made from granite. Six in one plaza. Each one cost $50,000.

    20140412-073754.jpg

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    Betty Duffy
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    Pro Ecclesia
    Quaffs and Quibbles
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    Reconnaissance of the Western Tradition
    Roman Catholic Info
    Ruri et Orbi
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    Shadow of Diogenes
    Signs of the Times: Salvo Blog
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