Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Of Statues, Monuments, and Flags

The Chestonian principle:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it. - G.K. Chesterton

When deciding about removing flags, monuments, statues, etc. I think it is wise to first consider the Chestonian principle - by the community that "owns" the statue/monument.
Quick thought: I don't think many people in America would object to Russian citizens toppling statues of Lenin when the Soviet Union collapsed.
A local (county, university, town, state) population should decide why they honored X (substitute the name of any Confederate General, flag, monument, public figure) on their public grounds in the first place. If they decide that this person/symbol no longer represents their values or the community and want to remove it, then they have that right.
However, outsiders like Nancy Pelosi or Donald Trump or myself should have no demands in the matter.
A member of Congress from California has no standing in agitating for the removal of Robert E. Lee from any venue but from Federal property or in her own local district on public land (as a private citizen in the latter case.)
In this era of so-called "self-identification", isn't it ironic that local communities are being pressured to conform their identity to political correctness?
The argument that Confederate Generals are traitors and should not be honored is misleading. The issue of the legality of succession was decided by the War Between the States. Before the Civil War, various states (including Northern states) had discussed succession and not considered it a treasonous proposition, but an option. It is not the equivalent of putting up a statue of John Wilkes Booth or Benedict Arnold!
On the other hand, those who say we are trying to change history when we remove monuments, are also wrong. We are only re-evaluating who we honor from our history.
There is much complexity to these issues which also depend on the type of monument and its venue.
For example, a memorial for soldiers who died in the Civil War is not so much a statement on the war itself (as the Vietnam Memorial is not) as a remembrance of family and friends who died. After all while most of the Confederate officers may have owned slaves, many, if not most, non-officer soldiers did not.
The Confederate flag may have a different legacy. It is a powerful symbol that many have used has a symbol of white supremacy both recently and also when they began to be raised on Southern states capital buildings in the 1960's. There would seem to be much more justification for their removals.
Individual Confederate Generals/Officers monuments may sometimes lay somewhere in-between the two examples noted above. Many of these men may have been honored for attributes other than, or in addition to, their leadership roles in the Confederacy.
However, in each case the local community should make thoughtful decisions.
We need to pray for peace in this country (an in our own souls.)
On this Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary .... Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


One of my favorite genres to listen to in my travels are westerns. They have enough adventure to keep me awake, but generally not too stressful. You know the outcome. Zane Grey, Max Brand, Louis L'Amour - these are the mainstays.
I am just finishing up the strangest one I have ever listened to. Here's the background: Successful middleweight boxer suddenly develops a heart condition in the middle of a fight. Realizing he can no longer exert himself for long periods, he plays poker, takes up a revolver and heads West.
He has all kinds of adventures, but must escape from pursuers by walking (no running), must take a nap in the middle of a conflict after hitting his foe, and generally walks around unscathed despite the handicap.
It is just the strangest Western I have ever read - but there are only so many plots, right?

Oremus pro invicem! 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Manhood and consumerism

Mr. Jason Craig has penned an interesting article over at Those Catholic Men concerning manhood and consumerism. Here are some of the key ideas:

…we no longer are measured by the skill of our craft but by our ability to purchase the craftsmanship of another, and, in fact, we valued the ability to purchase over the ability to make. 


The worst outcome of the trend toward specialization is that giant companies gobble up market share (for the sake of money, not the things made) and controls the production and delivery of the goods we need.  Being unable to “compete” with them through doing or making or doing it ourselves, a man is reduced to, as Berry puts it, “the negativity of his complaint.”[4]  He is a consumer and can only complain about the products he consumes – he cannot change his status as a consumer or actually change the product.  In other words, because you can’t do anything for yourself, the only power you have is to leave negative feedback about a product.  Just think about the sad “power” of leaving feedback on Amazon.  That’s all we have.  And that’s sad.

One conclusion:

Men consume because they cannot do and what they do they do to consume.  They can’t cultivate the world around them to fit their needs, but can only try to purchase themselves out of boredom and stress and hunger.  The anxiety of modern man then is reasonable.  He is helpless and at the mercy of those that sell, control, or hand out his sustenance.  Servility comes naturally with a sense of anxiety – for good reason.
Freedom, both economic and spiritual have many facets.

Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Varmints and Cantaloupes

So we have been growing these (not soccer balls):

But every morning one or more is half eaten. So son Thomas puts a honeybun in the raccoon trap and catches this:

We reload the trap tonight in case there is a family....

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Augustine or Aquinas?

From Those Catholic Men :

Due to the fact that so many young people seem more drawn to questions regarding happiness and personal fulfillment, he noted that he often orients his talks in this direction. In other words, perhaps one could say that such an approach to teaching is an attempt to be more Augustinian (happiness-based) than Thomistic (truth-based).

Without commenting on the entire article quoted, (in fact I didn't read it all-these lines got me thinking and I never got back to it) some obvious questions come to (my) mind:
1. Is Augustine more about happiness than truth?
2. Is Aquinas more about truth than happiness?
3. Are truth and happiness so inter-related that it doesn't matter?
I am presently reading God or Nothing an interview with Cardinal Sarah. Cardinal Sarah contends (I am paraphrasing) that Christianity is not a set of (moral) norms, but an encounter with a person, Jesus Christ. Moral laws are more of a consequence than a prerequisite of Christianity. In other words, the encounter with the Son of Man calls us to follow him, which then makes us want to live a certain way. This seems (to me) very Augustinian, if the premise above is true.
However, doesn't Aquinas explore who is God and the Trinity? And doesn't this truth of the nature of the Trinity helps us make an authentic encounter with and learn how to follow Jesus?
I once knew an atheist who was one of the most moral men I knew. He believed living a moral life was the only way to have an orderly society.
Now, many would argue that equating Aquinas with "the Law" in not the same as saying Aquinas is 'truth-based" (as opposed to "happiness-based"). I would agree; but still there is a perception, but (I would argue) a perception from ignorance of Aquinas.
Oremus pro invicem! 

Friday, July 21, 2017


We rented a cabin at Oconee State Park in Mountain Rest, SC last weekend. A neighbor kept a watch on the animals. We have seldom if ever gone all gone away for more than 24 hours in the last few years - but that is part of homesteading.

Oconee State Park brings in a bluegrass group and has a square dance in their barn every Friday night in the summer. It was absolutely great. Lots of people. We learned some dances we will incorporate into our annual square dance here.

Saturday and Sunday we meant to spend looking at waterfalls, but we didn't get to many because of the strong thunder storms that kept popping up.

We also were limited to which ones we could hike to because a 2 year old boy is staying with us right now.

Be we had fun and saw some beautiful waterfalls. The pictured one is at Cove Station Falls.
We also walked through Stumphouse Tunnel. Before the war between the states, a railroad line connecting Charleston, SC to Cincinnati, OH was planned. But Stumphouse Mountain got in the way. Irish immigrants, working from both sides with pick, shovel, and sledge started carving out the tunnel. They lived in a village on top of the mountain. A Fr. O'Connell founded St. Patrick Catholic Church for the workers and their families. The first shot is approaching the tunnel (which provided a cold breeze). The second is obviously in the tunnel.

While we were away Mrs. Curley's aunt, Karen Stanley passed away in Florida. May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace!
Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Books and Rain

I have recounted here before that I listen to a lot of books on CD because I spend a good deal of time commuting to my Adjunct job.

The other day I stopped at the library to find something new. I just finished listening to Enduring Courage - Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed by John Ross. Who knew Rickenbacker was a native of Columbus Ohio?

A title caught my eye: a thriller called The Third Secret by Steve Berry; the background being our Lady’s appearances at Fatima. I mentioned it when I got home, being in the middle of the first chapter.

Two of my kids immediately told me I already listened to this one. I said “No way, I don’t remember it at all.”

Both of them immediately looked it up on this blog (April 23, 2015), one of them immediately quoting my concluding evaluation at the time:  I can't believe I wasted my time with such rubbish!

I guess they do pay attention!


I fear the lack of rain has demolished our sweet corn this year. Rain (that didn’t come) last week may have saved it, but now I think it is too late. We will get some, but very few ears will be flush.

You can’t go by the weather station to evaluate the amount of rain we get at our little corner. Wednesday for example we were coming home from an excursion at the beach. It started raining about 60 miles from home – sometimes a downpour. Even 8-10 miles from home they had received substantial rainfall. We received not a drop.

This happened last week to, except the rain was even closer.

I have repeatedly seen in past years dark clouds pass over us and the adjacent field only to let go over the river ¼ mile away.

I was starting to fear even for my patti pan squash and cucumbers. But a little rain last night and (hopefully) some today may give us enough moisture to survive.


I am also reading Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul  by John Eldredge. About ½ way through, I am sure I will have something to say about it when I am finished. So far it is very interesting, but his conclusions may bring insight into his initial analyses.

Oremus pro invicem!


Saturday, June 10, 2017

God's bounty

We never did much with carrots in the past, but this year a sowed them among the radishes. The radishes (for the most part) went to the pigs a couple months ago. The carrots are a great success. I picked about half yesterday. This morning I harvested the rest. Here is this morning's harvest. Looks like we will be doing this again.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, June 05, 2017

The moment (from the homily)

At St Ann Byzantine Catholic Church in San Luis Obispo on Saturday, June 3rd, my oldest son Nicholas was married to Alexis.
It was an absolutely beautiful wedding. I so inspired by the courage and charity displayed by this young man and this young woman in the past year with the adversities that they have, not endured, but sanctified.
This was my first trip to California since 1989. I flew in late Thursday for the Saturday wedding and took the red-eye home last night. Lori and most of the children (save 1) were out there for an entire week staying at Grover Beach before flying back with me last night.
There are so many people to thank for helping us celebrate with Nick and Alexis and their family and friends.
On another note, each time I touch the Eastern lung of the Catholic Church (this time Ruthenian) I am impressed and inspired.   
Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, May 18, 2017


My two oldest sons graduated from college in the past two weeks. The younger from Northeast Catholic College (NCC) in Warner, NH and the oldest from Wyoming Catholic in Lander, WY.
I caught a blurry picture of the boots and spurs on the NCC graduate's feet during the final procession.

We are immensely proud of both of them.

Oremus pro invicem!

Turkeys, woodchucks and other suburban wildlife

I live in a rural area. It is not unusual or unnatural to see wildlife on our property. My son trapped a raccoon which was digging our garden just the other day. We see wild turkeys in the woods, and occasionally one finds itself in our front yard-but not often. Fox (eating my chickens) and coyote have been known to frequent the area.
Funny though, the wildlife we see is in passing. Usually it sticks to the forests.
My mother, on the other hand, lives in Norwood, less than 15 minutes from the Boston city limits. Growing up we saw only squirrels, some chipmunks, and a few bunny rabbits.
But nowadays I am apt to see a big buck on the front lawn, a flock of wild turkeys hanging around all day and the day after and the day after that. Woodchucks run around - while not more numerous than squirrels, they are still there. Fox and coyote regularly saunter down the neighborhood streets.

I was staying there last week for a few days and two toms and 3 hens just appeared everyday and wandered around and ate.
I guess suburban sprawl leaves the wildlife nowhere to go but Mom's!

Oremus pro invicem!