Archive for July, 2010

I’m still hoping I don’t have to post the above cartoon.*

The success in plugging the oil well in the Gulf of Mexico seems to be holding.  And today’s news looks hopeful for a permanent fix: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/us/01spill.html?_r=2&hp

Let’s keep praying that this thing gets behind us soon so I don’t need to put up that cartoon, excellent as it is.

*Irony, considered a form of humor, is funny only to some.  Your tastes may vary.

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So the question is not whether WikiLeaks broke the law or not; the question is whether it’s treason, and on a more abstract level whether it’s in our national interest for them to expose the weaknesses of our own intelligence systems.

Who left the front door open, anyway? 

Should we shoot the messenger?  I mean, if WikiLeaks can break in to top security, why can’t al Qaeda?  Should we know whether it’s possible for terrorists to get in? 

The difference, I suppose, is that WikiLeaks published the stuff; and what’s worse, embarrassed people who aren’t paid to feel embarrassed.  And, oh yes; exposed other crimes, allegedly by our own government. 

Al Qaeda is sneakier and will not do us any favors; they will not publish it to let us know they broke in.

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One of the blogsurfing finds lately (iMonk) has been a poem by John Oxenham entitled “Credo”.  This followed a discussion about the Culture Wars that got only a little off-topic.  Here is a bit of the discussion, edited:

[someone named Steve said]:  “…I should know – I used to be that person. I was more interested in the knowledge of good and evil than I was interested in the relationship with God. Therefore, I needed my knowledge to be inerrant, because I wanted to play on God’s turf and successfully ‘manage’ my relationship with Him.

Thanks be to God that ‘the Truth shall set you free’ is a statement about Jesus, not a statement about other statements.”

[Ray said, replying to Steve]:  “I think you might have just hit the heart of the matter.  I can remember how much my world expanded when Truth went from being a proposition to a Person in my life.  So many things were tipped on their heads and it was both wonderful and terrifying at the same time…”

[then I said, replying to Ray]:  “Ray, something you said startled me because it’s almost exactly what a physician friend once told me [this was Lou, for you locals].

You said, ‘I can remember how much my world expanded when Truth went from being a proposition to a Person in my life.’

My friend said, ‘My medical practice took a quantum leap when I realized that I should be treating the person and not the disease.’

Eye-opening, isn’t it?”

[then someone named David said nothing, but posted this poem]:

Not what, but WHOM, I do believe,
That, in my darkest hour of need,
Hath comfort that no mortal creed
To mortal man may give;–
Not what, but WHOM!
For Christ is more than all the creeds,
And His full life of gentle deeds
Shall all the creeds outlive.
Not what I do believe, but WHOM!
WHO walks beside me in the gloom?
WHO shares the burden wearisome?
WHO all the dim way doth illume,
And bids me look beyond the tomb
The larger life to live?–
Not what I do believe,
Not what,

John Oxenham’s Poem: Credo

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I took a final exam today for a distance-learning theology course (only one more brief paper to go).  Studying theology doesn’t give all the answers, but it does at least help to understand the questions better.  And maybe the computer will help…   And by now I’m pretty sure that God is more than sour cream, sauer kraut, chives and bacon bits… 

Bloom County was my favorite cartoon back in the late ‘eighties.  Here we have Oliver Wendell Jones, boy genius, on his “Banana Junior” computer (note the 5 1/4″ floppy disk, which preceded the already-obsolete 3 1/2″) trying to find answers to eternal questions.

Seek and ye shall find.  Keep askin’ and God will tell you, with or without a Banana Junior.

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Vive la France

Leave it to the Americans to produce one of the most stirring interpretations of the French national anthem ever.    

In this clip of the wartime film Casablanca (only the greatest film ever made) we first watch a conversation between night club owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Czech resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), who is trying to convince Rick to help him and his wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman)—with whom Rick will always have Paris—flee the country.  Nazi Germany controls Casablanca indirectly through its control of Vichy France, and the Germans have put a price on Laszlo’s head. 

During the futile negotiation with Rick, Laszlo hears the German officers in the Café singing Die Wacht am Rhein, a German patriotic song.  Laszlo orders the band to play the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, bringing the hall to its feet not only in a battle of the bands but a battle between freedom and tyranny.  The Germans lose this round; Laszlo regains his wife’s adoration; and Rick’s Café Américain is ordered shut down by the Germans through their French proxy, Captain Louis Renault. 

“I am Shocked!” says Captain Renault (Claude Rains), “Shocked! to find that gambling is going on in here!”

The patriotic effect of this scene rivals the performance of Edelweiss by Captain von Trapp and his family in The Sound of Music.  Same time, same evil empire, same spirit of freedom.  Let it ring.

Happy Bastille Day from the USA. 

[Technical problemHmmm…  YouTube has disabled embedding on this film clip for some reason, so click on the following link and it should take you right there]:    



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My People 

by Langston Hughes


The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.








by Eloise Greenfield


Went to the corner
Walked in the store
Bought me some candy
Ain’t got it no more
Ain’t got it no more

Went to the beach
Played on the shore
Built me a sandhouse
Ain’t got it no more
Ain’t got it no more

Went to the kitchen
Lay down on the floor
Made me a poem
Still got it
Still got it


Ashley - by Christina

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In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it anymore.’’

So begins Hemingway’s short story In Another Country.

In many of his stories we see a story within.  Here we have a snapshot of two patients in a military hospital in Milan during World War I.  An American officer, wounded in the leg, narrates.  He is serving on the Italian side, presumably before U.S. entry into the war, and is befriended by an Italian major who is wounded in the hand.  Both men come frequently to the hospital for therapy, which is aided by experimental machines. 

The major’s relative patience teaching Italian grammar to the American contrasts with his unexpected outburst at the American’s talk of marriage.  This becomes explained later; his young wife has recently died of pneumonia, without warning, and the major doesn’t know how to handle his grief. 

The segment comes about three-fourths of the way through the story.

The major, who had been a great fencer, did not believe in bravery, and spent much time while we sat in the machines correcting my grammar. He had complimented me on how I spoke Italian, and we talked together very easily. One day I had said that Italian seemed such an easy language to me that I could not take a great interest in it; everything was so easy to say. ‘Ah, yes,’ the major said. ‘Why, then, do you not take up the use of grammar?’ So we took up the use of grammar, and soon Italian was such a difficult language that I was afraid to talk to him until I had the grammar straight in my mind.

The major came very regularly to the hospital. I do not think he ever missed a day, although I am sure he did not believe in the machines. There was a time when none of us believed in the machines, and one day the major said it was all nonsense. The machines were new then and it was we who were to prove them. It was an idiotic idea, he said, ‘a theory like another’. I had not learned my grammar, and he said I was a stupid impossible disgrace, and he was a fool to have bothered with me. He was a small man and he sat straight up in his chair with his right hand thrust into the machine and looked straight ahead at the wall while the straps thumbed up and down with his fingers in them.

‘What will you do when the war is over if it is over?’ he asked me. ‘Speak grammatically!’
“I will go to the States.’
‘Are you married?’
‘No, but I hope to be.’
‘The more a fool you are,’ he said. He seemed very angry. ‘A man must not marry.’
‘Why, Signor Maggiore?’
‘Don’t call me Signor Maggiore.’
‘Why must not a man marry?’
‘He cannot marry. He cannot marry,’ he said angrily. ‘If he is to lose everything, he should not place himself in a position to lose that. He should not place himself in a position to lose. He should find things he cannot lose.’
He spoke very angrily and bitterly, and looked straight ahead while he talked.
‘But why should he necessarily lose it?’
‘He’ll lose it,’ the major said. He was looking at the wall. Then he looked down at the machine and jerked his little hand out from between the straps and slapped it hard against his thigh. ‘He’ll lose it,’ he almost shouted. ‘Don’t argue with me!’ Then he called to the attendant who ran the machines. ‘Come and turn this damned thing off.'”

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