Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Homer

A few years ago I was at dinner with two of my sons at a college president's house. The college president and I were discussing our educational journey. I made the comment that my sons in their homeschool curriculum were reading all these books (giving examples of the entire Bible, Homer's Odyssey, etc) which I wanted to read but never had-my education was lacking.
 
One son looked at me incredulously - "You haven't read everything you make us read?"
 
Well as time goes on, I am trying to catch up.
 
This week I have started Homer's Odyssey. I read something today from Anthony Esolen:
 
"Homer is relevant to me because Homer is relevant to man."

So I read what is relevant to man. So far, good!

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Bit of Sanity in an Insane World

Ah, but isn't it so true:

No, we do not need the state to compel us to do what comes naturally. But the state can compel us to do, under sufferance, what does not come naturally, or what is downright unnatural. (Anthony Esolen - complete article here.)

Of course this is what is happening.

Unfortunately not all of our pastors are supporting, guiding, and shepherding the lay faithful in what is natural and what is divinely commanded (such as the sanctity and nature - i.e. indissolvability- of marriage.)
 
I have not been paying to much attention to what is going on in the world. For example I didn't see about the bombings in NY and NJ til this morning.
 
And, I have suddenly realized I need to get an absentee ballot for the November election - no time to vote on Tuesdays with my teaching schedule. Oh yeah, who's running again? That's right, it is Darrell Castle (Constitution Party) vs. Michael Maturen (American Solidarity Party )
.
And the letter to the Argentinian bishops? Well I discuss that briefly above.
 
I catch snippets of all these things (terrorism, elections, Church doings) but my life is filled with wife, children and family right now - when I am not working.
 
I went to a Opus Dei-style evening of recollection last week and was again reminded how much MORE time I need to spend in prayer.
 
That being said....
 
Oremus pro invicem!


Friday, September 16, 2016

The surprising fate of Kershaw, SC

Kershaw is a small town (although with a population 6.58x greater than Bethune) about 19 miles up the road from us. It is a non-assuming town. We sometimes get pizza from Gus' (which is closed on Sunday - Greek).
 
So the other day I was driving some young and basically uncatechized children. After breaking up a fight between K- and G-, I mentioned that the reward for being good when we die is Heaven, living with God.
 
And young K- responded with the question: "Where do you go if you are not good?"
 
Before I had a chance to respond, young G-, chimed in: "To Kershaw, K-, to Kershaw!"

It was all I could do, to stay on the road!

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

The nature of parenthood


Two articles on parenthood worth reading appear on Public Discourse this week. These are not “how to” articles, but discussions about the nature of biological and adoptive parenthood by Christopher O. Tollefsen. 

The two things (which are probably obvious to those not so dull-headed as I) that I pulled away as intriguing points to ponder further can be summed up, or at least introduced, in these short excerpts.

On biological parenthood:
The nontrivial sense of irreplaceable love is the sort we associate with personal relationships: if Smith is my friend, then Smith’s love and friendship are irreplaceable to me. There are goods for me that Smith’s friendship provides that no other friendship can provide, and there are times when it is specifically Smith’s friendship that I need and desire.

Moschella (This is a discussion of her new book: To Whom Do Children Belong? Parental Rights, Civic Education, and Children's Autonomy - JC) grounds the obligations of biological parents to their children in the special personal relationship that being a biological parent generates. Specifically, biological parenting inevitably brings with it the relationship of being biologically responsible for another’s existence, and being biologically implicated in another’s identity. And these in turn make it the case that there are goods that only biological parents can provide: the good of being loved by one who is biologically responsible for one’s existence, and the good of being loved and raised by one who is uniquely and closely related to one’s identity. Children raised by their biological parents, for example, can see in their parents’ lives examples both good and bad of how traits to which they may be disposed can, should, or should not be allowed to grow and develop.

On adoptive parenthood

It can be tempting to extend this description (i.e. a fertility problem –JC) of what is happening to the absence of children itself: that is seen as a problem, indeed, the problem, to be rectified by taking appropriate steps. That attitude can lead to the use of various assisted reproductive technologies that seek to make a child, thereby fixing what is wrong.

And it could equally lead to adoption of a child. Let’s call that adoption out of need. The couple has a problem: they need a child, and adoption is one way to fix the problem at hand. But spouses should not adopt from what they do not have, but from what they do: an abundance of spousal love that seeks to be creative and life-giving. We could call that adoption-out-of-abundance. (my emphasis – JC)

Read both articles for a more complete fleshing-out of these and some other ideas.

Oremus pro invicem! (on the nativity of our Lady)

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Farenheit 451


Just finished reading it upon the recommendation of one of my children.
 
Never too much a fan of science fiction (although I did try. In graduate school I lived in a family's attic. There was a bookcase full of science fiction. Over two years I read most, maybe 75-100 books, most of it science fiction. I confirmed without a doubt-not much of a fan.)
 
F-451 is not so much science fiction as a cautionary tale, like 1984 and Brave New World. (I read one of the latter, maybe both. I just can't remember which one.)
 
I had never read Ray Bradbury before (I don't think). I wouldn't say it great literature, but an engaging story. I wasn't crazy about F-451 as I thought the ending was pretty vague and not too satisfying in any particular way (endings are important to me). However, I did enjoy reading it, and was glad it did.
 
It is funny how today in some sense mindless social media curbs ones time and appetite from literature. The schools (we are having some experience with public schools now - but that is a different story) have joined the electronic revolution and even when books are read and assigned, the selections are not classic, but tend to be depressing studies of teenage tragedy. (And we wonder why teenagers are in crisis? This is all we give them to read.)

So in many senses, the first stage of F-451 is actually taking place. Colleges and Universities no longer want to educate the mind and create creative independent thinkers. Great literature almost seems banned from most levels of our education system.
 
Schools and Colleges are at the service of both social, politically correct agenda, and big business. Turn us out politically correct (and amoral) but submissive workers-no independent thinkers, please.

The great works are not read and explored except for at a few colleges.

Oremus pro invicem!
 

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Missing in action - the holiday/Holy Day


The irony of Labor Day just past has been gnawing at me. As I understand it, Labor Day was achieved by the labor movement to celebrate the achievements of the American worker. Part of the motivation was to make the American worker appreciated in order to push for higher wages and better working conditions.
However, we recall that at that time, (early 20th century) the target for this holiday were some of the lowest paid workers who were pushing the industrial machine.
Now many of our manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas.
Today the lowest paid American workers are in service and retail jobs … and they don’t get a holiday on Labor Day.
In the drive to make more and more money, we have lost the meaning of holidays.
Holidays have become opportunities for business to make more money, not to relax and enjoy our family, not to appreciate our country and our heritage, and most definitely not to worship our God.
Especially as Catholics, how many of our Holy Days have been moved to Sundays so we can celebrate with the Holy Sacrifice?
I listened to a talk the other day about how St. John Paul II viewed keeping Sunday holy as a key component of "the new evangelization" - a sign to the culture. But to be a sign, we need to actually practice this gift from God.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What is old is new again

I didn't think I would see one of these in our driveway again (with us as the drivers), but with a few more people staying with us, the minivan-pickup combo just wasn't doing the job.


I pick it up tomorrow - the return of the 'big van'.
 
Mrs. Curley didn't want white, but it was the better deal for us than the tannish one.
 
Last year we spent our wedding anniversary moving pigs and I injured my wife by tossing a pallet her way. The year before we slaughtered a hog. I guess shopping for a 12-passenger van on our anniversary may be considered an improvement, but for who?

Oremus pro invicem! 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

We saw this fellow yesterday. He is in the overflow pipe of our kitchen drain. How he got there I don't know.



I am not sure the picture captures his "green-ness".

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Robots: Love and Destruction

These comments are a long time coming. I haven't had much time for thoughtful posts of late. But I am on a 2-week vacation from my Adjunct teaching (really not that much time, as I have to spend a bunch of it getting ready for the Fall semester, and I do have other work), but I have a little.

The articles I am commenting on come from a mainstream, widely circulated, professional engineering magazine - not some sci-fi rag.
 
First: Apparently there was an article (I didn't read the article itself) in the online edition of the magazine pertaining to humans forming romantic relationships with robots. Okay, I think there have been sci-fi movies over the years exploring this, but in IEEE Spectrum? Here are some excerpts from comments on the article:

Exhibit A: One thing is sure: A company that sells good-looking "male" and "female" robots complete with humanlike anatomy will make more money than Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined. ... future people will see it as normal, just as normal as smartphones are now.

 
Exhibit B: Another problem is that people might become so enamored with their robot mates that they abandon human relationships. (just like they do with smartphones now? - JC)

 
Exhibit C: Since we don't know how human consciousness really works, we can't comment on whether consciousness could be simulated acceptably (in robots). If we believe that when humans fall in love, the brain is just implementing some algorithm, why shouldn't a machine be able to implement it too?


So, there you have it: everything comes down to utility, money, and sex. What was stunningly absent was any concern about morality. There could have been, of course- more comments online. However, the magazine only printed ones with the tone of the Exhibits above. This is the world we live in.

The same magazine had a cover article in the June issue about the role of robots in the future, i.e. can we trust them in the operating room, on the road, and on the battlefield.

The section on autonomous weapons was particularly interesting. All those quoted assured us that a human would have a final say on targeting. I have several concerns-even if this is the case.
 
First, we shouldn't want to make war easier to conduct. Along these same lines, will the technology populations care so much about what foreign adventures conduct if all the killing (on our side) is done by remote control?  
 
Second, the interviewees claim we would be saving lives-but whose? Our soldiers, sure, but innocent civilians? Does the warfare today with all our targeting technology really protect civilian?
 
Thirdly, who will get their hands on these remote control destructors? The Cold War and its aftermath have armed every population and tens of thousands of terrorists around the world. Do we really think the arms trade will stop here?
 
Once again, get out your rosaries!
 
Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Finished ... The Brothers Karamazov

I have been slogging through The Brothers Karamazov since early May. The back cover claims three of its chapters "rank among the greatest pages of Western literature."
 
Who am I to dispute that? I would agree that "The Grand Inquisitor" was immensely thought provoking.
 
I did enjoy it, but wanted it to end after a while. And certainly the claim that Dostoevsky planned a trilogy is borne out by the ending (and by a stray sentence on the first page) which leaves a few major plot lines in the air.
 
I broke with The Gulag ... to read The Brothers. So I stay in Russia. UPDATE: Just noticed that I first ordered The Gulag interlibrary loan in 2008. Now I have my own copies-but talk about taking a long time to finish a book!
 
I do have one question to research. Several times in the book, the Orthodox worship was referred to as: "the Mass." I thought the Orthodox referred to "The Divine Liturgy" as opposed to "the Mass", which is, to my understanding a Anglo-version of the Latin dismissal-thus doesn't make sense for an Orthodox liturgy. Maybe it was a Roman translator?
 
Ah, these loose ends.
 
Oremus pro invicem!