Monday, February 29, 2016


It has been too long since I had such a full day of physical labor (not withstanding my blog's masthead). I shoveled manure into the pickup; spread it on the garden area; trimmed some fruit trees; tilled most of the early spring garden; broke for lunch. After the midday, Thomas and I went over to the neighbors and cut and split wood for a few hours. We hustled back to the house just in time to pick up the girls to go to confession.

Full day, but full of blessings. I was sore Sunday morning, but in a good way.

Oremus pro invicem!
Note a new link on the sidebar: Northeast Catholic College blog . I think there are a couple posts by a relative of mine.....
Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Life and party

Here's piece well worth your time to contemplate during this political season: pro-life or anti-abortion .

Here's a question: I unexpectedly missed the Republican primary in SC last week because I went on retreat. The Democratic primary is tomorrow. Other than not wanting to be seen locally in line at a Democratic primary, is there any reason I shouldn't go and vote against HC?

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spes Salvi & progress

I came across the following statement in an article in the February IEEE Spectrum Magazine. The article was on setting (technology) targets, but the context matters not:
Terrorism, chaotic climates, cyberweapons, mysterious diseases, vanishing species: The list of fixable perils grows longer with each year. Technologies of abundance altered our existence but came at a cost that is only now being more accurately counted. This tension-between the glories of our engineered lives and the price to be paid for them-is the essential drama of our times.

Now I might add to the list of terrors (note some listed are man-made, others are not), and I might dispute that “the tension …  is the essential drama of our times”. The essential drama of our times, as in all times, is that between man and God.

But this statement from an engineering magazine reminded me of some things I read and meditated on in Spes Salvi.

Pope Benedict notes about Karl Marx: “His real error is materialism: man is not merely the product of economic conditions.” And commenting on Bacon, Benedict writes: “Man can never be redeemed simply from the outside.” (both from PP 21)

Both statements make a lie that any particular lifestyle (other than one that is intrinsically evil) or particular possessions (or lack thereof) make a man intrinsically closer or farther from God.

Pope Benedict goes on to note that a pessimist (I forget his name) defined progress as simply “the slingshot to the atom bomb.”

Benedict notes (now I am paraphrasing) that progress and technology build on itself from generation to generation. The right use of development of technology and progress is dependent on these being guided by virtuous men. The problem is when it is not guided by the virtuous. (I recall that one of the Founding Fathers noted that our Constitution would only work for a virtuous people – a warning for us to be sure.)

However, virtue is not like technology. Virtue does not build (necessarily) from generation to generation. Sure, we have the shoulders of Augustine, Aquinas, and all the Church Fathers, saints, and holy men and women to stand on, but the virtue is chosen (or not) to be acquired anew with each man.

One of our problems (paraphrasing from Pope Benedict again) is that temporal hopes are fulfilled (targets met in the engineer’s realm) and leave us wanting-so the search goes on-progress marches, not counting the cost.

But our world, which reverences science and technology, has not yet learned the lesson. Technology and progress not guided by the virtuous and for the common good-the common good in one sense being that man can concentrate on salvation of souls - truly leaves use to pay the price for the glories of our “progress.”

Note, that the solution is not simply to go back to the slingshot or to a Luddite farm as “Man can never be redeemed simply from the outside”, but to acquire virtue and sanctity in whatever our circumstances are and to live the gospel with our lives and speech.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lonesome Pines and Robert Hugh Benson

Listened to The Trail of the Lonesome Pine last week by John Fox. I had seen the 1936 movie with Fred McMurray and Henry Fonda. The movie only resembled the book in spirit-not so much in content.
Am now listening to The Dawn of All by Robert Hugh Benson. If one recalls, Robert Hugh Benson wrote The Lord of the World which is a favorite of Pope Francis. Many years ago, it was recommended to me and I read it. I said "eh". Just a few years ago I was prompted to read it again due to some strong recommendations. I did and said, "eh".
RHB writes The Dawn of All as some thought The Lord of the World too depressing or pessimistic. The Dawn of All gives an alternate future (set in 1973!)
I am about halfway through. At this point I am saying, "eh".
Now, RHB also wrote (as I mentioned somewhere below) The Friendship of Christ. This one I would highly recommend. I finished it during this past weekend's retreat. (My one negative comment on the book has nothing to do however, with content. Content is most important, but presentation does effect the reader also. I would say, the publisher needs a good layout man.)
It is hard to give some sample quotes: it is the whole context and insight which the author has to the spiritual life and its problems and progress.
Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


So I went on a 3-day Opus Dei silent retreat in GA this past weekend. My first silent retreat in some 14 years and my first Opus Dei retreat in probably 36 years.

It was very needed and inspiring. I am hoping I can keep my resolutions and there will be some fruits.

But to the humor .....

My roommate was a young guy. The 2nd day of the retreat he came up to me and whispered: "I forgot to bring shampoo. Would you have any?"

Now, I don't often post hatless pictures of myself, but generally the sides of my head are either shaved or very closely cropped to match my very bald skull.

I looked at this young man and tried very hard not to smile too hard and just shook my head, no.

The funniest part of it all was that I had forgotten to bring a bar of soap. I was using my shaving cream for soap in the shower. I told him of my own forgetfulness and mentioned he was free to borrow my shaving cream! (He declined.)

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, February 22, 2016


From Spes Salvi (48) on praying for the faithful departed:

And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God's time: in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

SC Republican Primary

So the SC primary is on Saturday. The robo-calls and pollsters constantly calling (it is really harassment!) will be over in a couple of days.

Our mailbox has been bombarded with these huge color postcards which alternately detail the virtues and proposed polices of the candidates or are directed at showing the hypocrisy of another candidate – of course behind the anonymous wall of a PAC.

Just as one example of the messages one candidate is championing is the flat tax. Now, the flat tax may be a nice thing, but it has been on the lips of presidential candidates since Jack Kemp ran (if not before) many years ago. It has never gained any traction in the US Congress.

My question is this: the real power for changing tax law is in the US Congress. If these members of the US Congress who are running for president haven’t been able to pass a flat tax (just to pick on one of the proposals) while they were/are in Congress, why would I think they can do it as President?

Sure, the presidency has the bully pulpit, but really …..?

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Presidential politics

The SC GOP primary is coming up, so I guess it is time to pay attention. Previously, I didn't know who would be left, so I didn't get invested with anyone.

Today, Ted Cruz is speaking in Camden (20 miles down the road). Ben Carson will be in Lancaster (30 miles in the other direction.)

Trump has been in Rock Hill where I teach, numerous times over the past weeks. I won't see any of them. The only times I went to see presidential candidates was Alan Keyes and Pat Buchanan - way back.

Leaving aside Carson (who I believe is fading fast), I am not sure there is more than a toothpick's difference between Bush, Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich.

So, what to do?

Here's what I think the best scenario for the country is:

Trump and Sanders both with the most delegates, but not enough to clinch the nomination. In both conventions, the party regulars nominate the establishment candidate (Rubio v Clinton?). People are angry get angry at the parties ignoring their will, and real political upheaval takes place.

I don't know the outcome, but it couldn't be much worse than the two parties we have now.

That all being said, no way I can ever vote for Trump. Which of the others will get my support?-who knows at this point, but I am not sure it matters.

Oremus pro invicem!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Antonin Scalia - May he rest in peace!

Update: I saw this today among his "most quotable" and can't help myself from posting it:

"What is a 'moderate' interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you'd like it to mean?"

At his best, proclaiming the truth from the folly of others: From Obergefell dissent:

I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy. The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me. The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance.
Those civil consequences—and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences—can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws. So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact— and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.  ......
This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government. Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices’ “reasoned judgment.” A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.
Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen. — Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Harper Lee

I wasn't ever the greatest fan of To Kill a Mocking Bird, but I read it in school and thought Gregory Peck had to be the best casting choice for Atticus possible.
When I heard that Go Set a Watchman was being published, I figured I should read it. Then the reviews came. So much disappointment-that colorblind, progressive Atticus Finch may have some racism in him. The disappointment with the character translated into panning the entire book.
I note that the book was actually written years ago, so I would expect the culture and attitudes of the time to be portrayed and not be rewritten with today's attitudes.
So, I had to read it (or listen to it.) Which I did this week. I wasn't pleased with the few instances of blaspheming in the final sections. I too was surprised-at least at first- in the 'real' Atticus Finch, but on reflection I don't think it is inconsistent with the Atticus Finch of To Kill
The narrator is Scout, but I think the real hero of the novel is her Uncle Jack, who tries to reconcile the attitudes of Atticus with the history. Uncle Jack could possibly be the real voice of Harper Lee in the novel.
Without further comment of my own (as this has been explored on this site before), I will say that Uncle Jack makes the comment and tries to make the case that race was only incidental to the war between the states and the civil rights upheavals of the 50's and 60's. The real issue in both cases was liberty, the right of community to govern itself, states rights, and the rest.
It was interesting and well-written, and effective at getting one to think in terms outside of today's culture and attitudes. One may not like characters or the political voice, but that is outside the scope whether it is decent literature.
Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Listening to a Fr. Francis Finn S.J. book from this morning on my way to a remote work site. Here are the two things I heard and need to meditate on:

and the rich He sends away empty” Luke 1:53

 And from St. Ignatius:

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Mrs. Curley and I went to a rare movie the other night. Even more rare, the movie we wanted to see was only showing in 3D. However, we bought the tickets and enjoyed the show (more on that later.) I thought they were undercharging based on the board, but didn't mention it. However, the kids looked at the movie stub as it was going in the waste when we got home and noticed we were given the Senior discount. I really don't mind saving money, the kids thought it hilarious. The box office didn't ask us, so I have no guilt.
The movie, The Finest Hours, was based on a 1952 Coast Guard rescue off the coast of New England. It was done well; suspenseful and entertaining. It wasn't the best movie I ever saw, and would have rather seen it at the $2.50 theater in Hartsville, but we had a good time and ate a lot of popcorn (only REAL reason to go to a movie in the theater!)
As far as the 3D went, I don't think any experience was enhanced by having it in 3D- just a pain to wear glasses over glasses.

This is it, as Lent is just around the corner.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, February 08, 2016

Slavery is with us today - what is it?

Anthony Esolen answers the question here.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, February 05, 2016

Practical Distributism

I found this site: Practical Distributism and share it with you now (and on the sidebar). Some good articles here especially if you are interested in how Distributism is different from Capitalism and Socialism, and how it may work in practice-both small and large scale. Enjoy!

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Blockade Runners

Just finished listening to The Blockade Runners by Jules Verne courtesy of First, a hat tip to the reader. I have listened to him on several other novels, most recently one by Louis L’Amour, and, by chance, he is from Simpsonville, SC.

About the book: it is short and takes place around 1862 (written in 1864). The basic plot concerns a ship which plans to run the Federal blockade of Charleston, SC in order to deliver arms and return with much-needed cotton to the British Isles.

What most fascinated me was the attitude about the conflict (the war between the states, the war of Northern aggression, or the Civil War-depending on your persuasion.) The main protagonist, the ship’s captain, believed the war was about slavery-though, at least initially, he was partial to the Confederate cause, but not a fan of slavery . Recall the author was French and the protagonist was British.

It is always interesting to get outside perspectives on this. Recall that a year or two ago I read Chesterton’s (Cecil’s) America (my commentary here) . Of course Chesterton's view was more nuanced and presented a history of the country leading to the conflict. Things are always more complicated than they seem.


Here’s an observation for those who listen to books frequently. Why is it that women readers can easily give voice to a male character in the book without sounding ridiculous, but a man reader cannot do the same for a female character in the book.
In the present book I am listening to (a Max Brand western), the male reader does the sensible thing. When reading the dialogue of a female character, he doesn’t try to sound female; he simply changes his inflection slightly as he does with each character.
(BTW – in my view Max Brand westerns don’t hold much of a candle to Louis L’Amour.)

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


It won’t happened overnight, but the day is coming when you will simply say to a swarm of robots, ‘Okay, go and perform this mission’. … “Think about standing in a swarm of a million mosquito-sized robots and getting them to go somewhere or to execute a particular task ……”

This isn’t a conversation from Marvel’s Ant-Man movie. This comes from Horizons the Georgia Tech Research quarterly publication.

Another article in the same issue describes complex objects that fold or assemble themselves. They are manufactured of layers with different temperature sensitivities. Generally they would be “printed” flat. When heat is applied they change shape and assemble themselves. Manufacturing needs workers less and less, just like the jobless recovery from the present recession.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Coming late to the party ...

I am finally reading Pope Benedict’s Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi. This passage jumped out at me yesterday:

This is precisely the point made, for example, by Saint Ambrose, one of the Church Fathers, in the funeral discourse for his deceased brother Satyrus: “Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life, because of sin ... began to experience the burden of wretchedness in unremitting labour and unbearable sorrow. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing”. A little earlier, Ambrose had said: “Death is, then, no cause for mourning, for it is the cause of mankind's salvation”.

I have never thought of death like this before. I am glad I am reading it now (in the 2nd half of my life) instead of reading it and forgetting about it (in my youth.)

Also, I didn’t know St. Augustine wrote an extended letter on prayer. I have to get this.

Finally, just received a late Christmas present (shipped to the wrong address): Robert Hugh Benson’s The Friendship of Christ. Will start on it soon.

Oremus pro invicem!