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    Saturday
    May 23, 2015
    The BYCU article I linked to yesterday referenced this nifty piece: Catholic Church opens a bar. "[A} bar recently opened in northern France with the backing of the Catholic Church. Bar Cana in Lille launched this month as part of an effort to reach out to younger people, who might be more willing to interact in a bar on a Saturday night than in church on Sunday morning. . . . Bar Cana was inspired by the Pope, who has told the church to think outside the square when it comes to going about its pastoral business and this is certainly a left-field idea." (A left-field idea? Odd saying, that. I believe the common phrase is "out of right field." Oh well.) The bar, the article says, serves Trappist beer. So what else is Catholic about it? I mean, it's fine (and cool) to reach out to the (drunken) masses by opening a bar, but if you're just selling alcohol, I don't see how that evangelizes any more than, say, selling alcohol. A different article, however, flushes out the evangelizing angle a bit more and, although I still don't know enough to judge, I like what I see:
    There are nods to traditional Catholicism throughout the bar: the wifi password is Deo Gratias (God be thanked), and a carafe of house wine is referred to as a Madonna. Above the beer pumps (all the beers come from abbeys and monasteries, naturally) is a figurine of Pope Francis, and Biblical verses adorn the walls. Sadly, AFP doesn't say if the wine is Châteauneuf-du-Pape or if the top shelf is filled with holy spirits. While it might not sound like the sort of place to hit up for a raging Friday night, the bar does focus more on the "good works" end of religion, rather than the "thou shalt not" side. Patrons come in and buy two coffees and get one; the other is paid forward for someone who can't afford one. And the profits from the operation go towards humanitarian projects in needy areas.

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    Meyers
    May 22, 2015
    • Scientists working on The Syracuse University Lava Project have discovered how to grill a steak using lava. The hard part is getting the cow up on the volcano.

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    Friday
    BYCU This article had great humor potential: 19 Tips for Staying Catholic when you go to a Bar. Unfortunately, the author is serious about giving tips to young Catholic professionals who need the bar scene as part of their social network (I used to be one of those guys; it was a good time). The piece has some good tips (e.g., don't keep looking at your phone), but I wish it spent more time talking about what constitutes "too much." For purposes of mortal sin, "too much" is drinking to the point where you lose the ability to reason. I once said to a priest (actually, three priests) that you'd have to be awfully drunk to reach that point, and they said, "Yup. It's not easy to sin mortally through drink alone." Of course, the things you do while drunk can land you in mortal sin and drunkenness is generally no excuse, so you need to tread carefully, but I've frequently taken comfort in that high hurdle for mortal sin, especially when I've been in the throes of a hangover and the dreaded "metaphysical hangover" (Kingley Amis' term for that general depression a person feels upon waking up from "too much"). But when does drinking lapse into just a venial sin? I mean, a drink or two is no sin at all. It, in the words of the Bible, gladdens the heart, which, no doubt, is a level of inebriation, if only slight. Twenty drinks is mortal. But surely that vast land of fun between 2 and 20 isn't all venial, is it? I conducted a brief Google search, but it produced nothing useful. So, after much cogitation, I produce herein the TDE Source of Doctrine for When Drinking Lapses into Venial Sin: When you drink to the point that other temptations that are normally kept at bay become a near occasion of sin. So put that in your shot glass and drink it. Or reject it. I am, after all, just another Catholic with a drinking enjoyment who's waiting to get the nod from the College of Cardinals.

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    Thursday
    May 21, 2015
    Gardening Perhaps the coolest piece sent to me this year: Catholic workers’ co-op installing sustainable mini-farms on Peninsula and beyond. These "nanofarms" measure 8-by-5 foot and, apparently, produce a lot of produce that can be sold or eaten by the farmers. It's helping sustain poor workers and seminarians throughout the San Francisco Bay area. And what hippy Catholic love child is behind this? It's that arch-liberal at Ignatius Press, Joseph Fessio:
    The idea of selling the installation of organically tilled produce gardens for households was a middle-of the-night brainwave by Father Fessio last April. He said he woke up with the thought: “All of these people on the Peninsula are interested in sustainable agriculture. What if we trained some of the people who don’t have professional skills to install little organic gardens? What do we call it? NanoFarms. A billionth.” “The largest farm in the world is thousands of acres, one billionth of that is several hundred feet. A NanoFarm,” Father Fessio said.
    The whole article is worth reading, but I especially liked this blurb toward the end:
    The NanoFarms USA project at the archdiocesan seminary and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in East Palo Alto is implementing the Catholic social justice theory of distributism envisioned by thinkers G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc in the early-20th century, St. Patrick’s Seminary & University professor Jesuit Father George Schultze said. Distributism places the family at the center, extolls family homeownership, and includes the idea of co-ops where workers own the means of production and share in the profits within the framework of a capitalist economic system. It comes out of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical “Rerum Novarum” (“On Capital and Labour”) released in 1891 in response to the inhumanity of unregulated 19th-century capitalism, the advent of socialism and atheistic Marxism, and the rise of trade unions. The encyclical is the foundation of modern Catholic social justice thought. NanoFarms founders including Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio hope for a national movement of parish-based worker owned cooperatives embodying the economics and Catholic spirituality of G.K. Chesterton. Already Lighthouse Media in Chicago is helping develop NanoFarms USA in Chicago, Father Fessio said.
    Thomas Woods has convinced me that distributism is simply a bad idea, as envisioned by many distributists today. And for this simple reason: It requires the state apparatus of violence to promote it. I've reached a parallel conclusion about "social justice": It's just a phrase that, in the hands of Catholic activists, is an excuse to push people around with the threat of state violence. But this idea, this wholly voluntary, agri-based, small endeavour? It's beautiful. Small is beautiful. I believe that an unhampered free market would continually break down the megaliths into smaller parts (or into corpses), and I believe grassroots campaigns like this can make a difference. I'm going to have to look into the nanofarm concept, incidentally. The article says you can install a nanofarm for $899. Forty square feet of soil for $900? The basic steps are laid out here. I guess it's more of a fundraiser than a great choice for individual gardeners, but if anyone knows anything different, just let me know or post below.

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    Conan
    May 20, 2015
    • A new report says that 80 percent of sunscreens either don't work or have questionable ingredients. In a related story, I don't have long to live.

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    Meyers
    • Vladimir Putin reportedly scored eight goals during a hockey game in Sochi this weekend. And the goalie only had one save: his own life.

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    Conan
    • A resort in Mexico has opened the first underwater bar. Shortly afterwards it became host to the world's slowest bar fight ever.

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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) What did author Henry James really think of Chesterton? On November 18, 1906, he wrote his brother (William James] that H.G. Wells was "the only one of the younger literary generation here presenting any interest whatever, except Lowes Dickenson and to some extent the too tricky and journalistic Chesterton, who has reduced to a science the putting of everything a rebours." [Letters, IV, Harvard, 1984, p. 425] ["The old French word rebours has no equivalent noun in English; it refers to the opposite direction of a fabric's nap. Today rebours survives only in the expression à rebours, which literally means 'against the nap,' but is also used figuratively to mean 'backwards, wrong way.']

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    Tuesday
    May 19, 2015
    More Miscellaneous Rambling Last week's spring blitz put me behind with blog post leads, so I broke this week's "MR" into two parts. * * * * * * * Thanks, incidentally, to TDE readers who send me interesting links. It's greatly appreciative, especially in the spring when little league, other family commitments, and gardening makes time more scarce than a sense of decency at a Walt Disney Company Board meeting. * * * * * * * A regular TDE reader tried to comment on my Waugh v. Merton post a few weeks ago, but comments were turned off (they turn off after about a week, to reduce spam). Anyway, he emailed me this: "I just loved the 7 volume Journals. Perhaps because within the Journal entries there are scores of comments about nature at the Abbey or outside his hermitage. Also think Seeds of Contemplation is a great book/instructional manual." He's right about Seeds. It is a good book, based on the small portions I've read. I've never read the Journals. Merton always makes me uncomfortable when he starts to stray. The mere fact that he (successfully) prevailed upon his Abbott to have Rachel Carson's Silent Spring read during dinner at the monastery (instead of, say, Scripture) jars me a bit. * * * * * * * Still, I enjoy authors' journals, so I suspect I'd enjoy Merton's, but I'd want it in Kindle format so I could cut-and-paste easily for TDE commenting. Unfortunately, the Kindle version is pretty salty ($91). * * * * * * * Why do I like journals? Hard to say, but it's probably a combination of seeing something "raw," which isn't much edited; seeing stuff that's a bit arcane; seeing stuff that wasn't good enough to publish by itself; seeing stuff that exposes the author's real soul, as opposed to stuff the author explicitly intended for public consumption. * * * * * * * That being said, when you read journals, you get a lot of crap, too. There are a lot of bad thoughts that the author himself may not have agreed with, but since it's just a journal and not a piece that went through extensive inner debate and discussion with editors and peers, the thought never came to completion or a justifiably early death before publication. * * * * * * * But that's part of the enjoyment, I suppose.

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    May 18, 2015
    You might be lethargic if: 10. Kneeling and standing during church cause you to break a sweat. 9. You break a sweat taking a shower. 8. You have nightmares about losing your TV remote. 7. You’ve tried to scam a handicap license plate. 6. You think Internet surfing is a sport. 5. You go to the store because it’s such a nice day. 4. Any distance over fifty yards is presumptively a car drive. 3. You didn’t know they made adult-sized bicycles. 2. You don’t think you can make it to the end of this list without a nap (then again, maybe that’s the list-assembler’s fault). 1. You need a rest after your bowel movements.

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    Monday
    Miscellaneous Rambling Some of you may have seen my attempt to post another picture from Warren Dunes last week. The picture didn't upload, so I'm trying it again this morning. It's a picture of my kids. In the background is the dune/hill where we ate lunch just fifteen minutes earlier. I think we were eating in a cloud. * * * * * * * The Girl Scouts take another step into the mire of sexual politics and the promotion of misery: Girl Scouts of America policy change: Boys dressing as girls can join. * * * * * * * Boy Scouts earn "merit badges." Girl Scouts earn "insignia." Herein a list of insignia soon to be offered: Sexual Awareness Insignia, Lesbian Appreciation Insignia, Porn Appreciation Insignia, Why Men Suck Unless They've Lopped It Off or Wear Mascara Understanding Insignia, Refuses to Shave Arm Pits Insignia. * * * * * * * At some point, it's going to be revealed that ABC executives have an active and explicit anti-Catholic agenda (as opposed to the leftist, amorphous, implicit anti-Catholic that informs much of the rest of the mainstream media). If you haven't read about "The Real O'Neals," check it out here. The mere fact that ABC lists the vile Dan Savage as an executive producer is disturbing enough, and the trailer is simply jaw-dropping. It's almost as though ABC is trying to see just how nastily anti-Catholic it can be. * * * * * * * TV Land, meanwhile, is producing another Catholic sit-com, but this one is just supposed to be funny, not vile. It features Jim Gaffigan. * * * * * * * Sorry for all the B.B. King stuff last week. I've been on Beale Street, twice, so that, of course, makes me a King expert. And his son lives near me. Well, about three hours away. Dunes

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    Calendar
    May 17, 2015
    Awhile back, I found an online Catholic calendar that gave an extensive list of saints whose commemoration fell on each particular day. Each day had anywhere from, say, five to 15 saints listed, with hyperlinks to many of them. It was really cool, but I can't find it now. Any ideas?

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