I'm Roz, and this is my relaxed space. It's about fun, good conversation and — well yes — good conversation. Pull up a well-padded armchair and help yourself to something to drink. You'll find cheese and crackers on the sideboard. What's new with you?
If you're looking for things in a more serious or spiritual vein, you can check out Exultet where I write that sort of thing.
This is the last day of 2004, another year that brought me much that I did not expect. Most was good; in fact, it was the unforeseen things that were the most wonderful. I entered the year alone, a relatively recent widow; not working but preparing to relocate for a new job; and Presbyterian. As the annodometer turns over tonight, I find myself a renewed Catholic, I've returned home from my out-0f-state move, I'm awaiting a certain layoff having had very valuable work experience, and I'm in a relationship with a strong, kind and Godly man.
Other things have not changed. My children continue to bring joy to my life and many others, I and those dearest to me are reasonably healthy, and God scandalously pours love and grace on this undeserving daughter. In all these things, expected and not, I try to follow the next step. God constructs bigger stuff out of my small, daily, feeble efforts.
Yes, elections, terrorism, natural disasters, births, deaths -- they are with us. We wrestle with their meaning. We try to discern and do our duty. We might feel overwhelmed by the huge sweep of events. But these Big Stories are made up of many small stories. May I receive the help I need to allow God to write next year's small story in my life. May I trust Jesus. Fully.
About a dozen times a day, I receive e-mails from kind senders who apparently hope to enrich my life. Budgie Pollocks frequently offers me sweet deals on Rolex (or sometimes, Rollex) watches, or even more inexplicably, someone named "=?utf-8?q?Harriot Aobulet?=" sends me a note with subject lines like "=?utf-8?q?You must metamorphos?= =?utf-8?q?e to the ch...".
I want as many people to like me as possible, but I'm not sure whether a relationship with "=?utf-8?q?Harriot Aobulet?=" is one that I'm eager to pursue. For one thing, it isn't a name that is frequently found around these parts, and I'm reluctant to begin a meaningful friendship over the Internet with someone I'm unlikely to ever be able to meet. And our educational levels are probably too divergent. I mean, I don't even know what "=?utf-?q?e" means! I'd be afraid that my inferior intellect would doom any meaningful dialogue even before it began.
Budgie, on the other hand, sounds like someone I'd like to get to know. His name has that cute charm that one might expect to find in the writings of P.G. Wodehouse. And he certainly appears to be blessed with an energetic "get-up-and-go", demonstrated by his considerable eagerness to share his good fortune with me, even to skipping the cumbersome step of spell-checking his messages. I can't say I've ever coveted a Rolex, but I do have a certain admiration for entrepreneurial spirit.
There is yet another obstacle to any possibility of meaningful interaction with all these warm and generous parties who keep reaching out to me. At heart, I confess, I'm an old-fashioned girl. And I can't seem to find any mutual friends to perform the requisite introductions. Oh dear. Perhaps I'll write to Mr. Wodehouse for his recommendations.
I am a Dorothy Sayers fan. I aspire to the quiet strength of Harriet Vane (with a slightly bigger dose of womanly caretaking instinct, please God). I relate to the well-limned Lord Peter Wimsey much as I would to a real person because of his texture and subtlety; I tolerate his shortcomings because I honor his substance. (He is also a masterful conversationalist, which is one of the traits I prize most highly, and I will always be grateful that he introduced me to John Donne.) Busman's Honeymoon is one of my favorite novels of all time, and any friend of Busman's Honeymoon is a friend of mine. And who can praise Bunter enough?
However I find myself in reluctant agreement with Steven Riddle's distaste for the bulky novel Gaudy Nighton his blog Flos Carmeli. Perhaps we should, as a commenter suggests, rename the book A Clutch of Harpies. Or perhaps that's too strong. I don't mind the characters as much as I do the waste of several hundred pages spent tracking down the irrelevant perpetrator of a trivial crime. Come to think of it, perhaps what bothers me the most is that Sayers seems to care more about promoting academic vocations for women than about developing an engaging plot. It's evocative of a Susan Sarandon movie in which perfectly good celluloid is wasted on attacking a Big, Bad Industry rather than developing a ripping good story and characters with whom I want to be involved.
In another news flash, we find that Mom's home cooking can be hazardous to your health. I used to feel guilty for depending on Domino's Pizza or Chinese carry-out on those nights (most of them, these days) when I don't feel like cooking. It seems that I've been doing myself and my loved ones a favor unawares. (Save the thanks for later, Kemosabe.) My house has been safer than most, apparently, from overloads of nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde and any number of other bad actors through my reluctance to fire up the oven unless unusually incentivized.
Do you suppose there are as-yet-unknown health benefits from having allowed the weeds unfettered access to my garden?
The latest Band-Aid charity project is a recording called "Do They Know It's Christmas?", referring to the deprived population of Africa who have neither snow nor Santa to help them duplicate the West's advanced appreciation of the holiday. Reuters gets it right, noting that African Christianity and therefore the celebration of true Christmas is light years ahead of much of the Western world, notably Europe.
Mind you, the group, which includes such pop notables as Paul McCartney and other people who I concede are famous but of whom I have never heard, has a worthy goal in mind.
"Much of the money raised by the new single will go to Sudan's volatile Darfur region, where tens of thousands have died since March alone from disease and malnutrition -- and where most of the victims and needy are Muslim who would not be celebrating Christmas in any case. "
I don't plan to buy the recording - pop Christmas songs never make it into my holiday music rotation - but I will be happy to pray for the Africans of Sudan. Please join me.
The Wall Street Journal suggests that Vice-President Cheney might want to have a regime-change strategy in place in case his boss needs a helping hand next time he's north of the border. I don't know. The Canadians I know are pretty sensible and tend to be prudent and generous. I'm confident that Mr. Walkom doesn't express the will of the majority of the Canadian people. But just in case, maybe we want to make clear the amount it would cost to reimburse their 50 percent share of what it costs the U.S. to defend North America's borders. All in all, mutual good will might be worth preserving.
Oh, that was rude. I take it back.
How about this. If you give back Pres. Bush, we'll send you Michael Moore. We'll even fund a big bash at the Toronto Film Festival. We'll throw in Barbra Streisand, too.
This is strange, but it's such a wonderful commentary on society and whatever else you think it comments on that I thought it was worth bringing to your attention. I have no position regarding veracity or authenticity, but I have a very clear position on how amusing our culture is.
I first learned about this from a Miami Herald article about a woman who has 10-year-old (mold-free) grilled cheese sandwich that she believes shows the face of the Virgin Mary. An excerpt:
All funny and thought-provoking items aside, here's a brief update for those of you who check this space as a substitute for actually hearing directly from me about much. My apologies.
I'm finishing up a two-week turn in St. Louis and will be taking most of Thanksgiving week off. In December, I have a couple of several-day trips scheduled, but nothing excessive. That's a good thing, because I haven't given Christmas preparation much of a thought. (This may not be a bad thing to some of you, but Mama-Teresa considered Thanksgiving the point at which the cards should be already addressed and the shopping all over but for the last-minute details. This is a tough act which I've never been much good at following. Then again, her approach to Christmas decorations was sometimes disparaged by us as being too faithful to the Early Pizzeria style of decor. I have never followed that act, either.)
However, the important parts of the holidays are in place -- and those are the parts that have to do with the people. My family will gather at my brother's in Grand Rapids for the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast. Christmas has taken a little more careful choreographing, but it looks like the kids and I will go to a church service or two early in the evening on Christmas Eve and have our family celebration together that night. (Our traditional meal is beef fondue, which creates its own fun all by itself.) The next day, all offspring are hopping in a car to go see the Canadian relatives for Christmas dinner and festivities. I will be on a flight to Boston to do the same at a friend's family home there.
Okay, now, what did I say I'd bring to Thanksgiving dinner . . . ?
And, finally, I confess a weakness for gender-based humor. Dave Barry, the King of the Snicker, takes on the bias many have against the particular skills most frequently demonstrated by the male sex in his column "In Defense of the Man's Eye View." For instance, "1. If it was an emergency, could you open a beer bottle with your teeth?" As one who usually roots for the underdog in battles of political correctness, I appreciate Mr. Barry's efforts.
Stepping into the Oval Office, each of us [the awardees] was introduced to the President and Mrs. Bush. We shook hands, received our awards with photo op and participated in informal conversation. He and the First Lady were asked about the impact of the Presidency on their marriage and, with an arm casually wrapped around Laura, he said that he thought the place may be hard on weak marriages but that it had the ability to make strong marriages even stronger and that he was blessed with a strong one. He noted that it would be a mistake to come to the Oval Office and entertain a mission to "find yourself." He said that with all of the pressures and responsibilities that go with the job, you'd best know who you are when you put your nameplate on the desk in the Oval Office. He said he knows who he is and now America has had four years to learn about who he is.
When we departed the I said to him, "Mr. President, I know you to be a man of strong faith and have a favor to ask you." As he shook my hand he looked me in the eye and said, "Just name it." I told him that my step-Mom was at that moment in a hospital in Kalispell, Montana, having a tumor removed from her skull and it would mean a great deal to me if he would consider adding her to his prayers that day. He grabbed me by the arm and took me back toward his desk as he said, "So that's it. I could tell that something is weighing heavy on your heart today. I could see it in your eyes. This explains it." From the top drawer of his desk he retrieved a pen and a note card with his seal on it and asked, "How do you spell her name?" He then jotted a note to her while discussing the importance of family and the strength of prayer. When he handed me the card, he asked about the surgery and the prognosis. I told him we were hoping that it is not a recurrence of an earlier cancer and that if it is they can get it all with this surgery. He said, "If it's okay with you, we'll take care of the prayer right now. Would you pray with me?" I told him yes and he turned to the staff that remained in the office and hand motioned the folks to step back or leave. He said, "Bruce and I would like some private time for a prayer."
As they left he turned back to me and took my hands in his. I was prepared to do a traditional prayer stance -- standing with each other with heads bowed. Instead, he reached for my head with his right hand and pulling gently forward, he placed my head on his shoulder. With his left arm on my mid-back, he pulled me to him in a prayerful embrace. He started to pray softly. I started to cry. He continued his prayer for Loretta and for God's perfect will to be done. I cried some more. My body shook a bit as I cried and he just held tighter. He closed by asking God's blessing on
Loretta and the family during the coming months. I stepped away from our embrace, wiped my eyes, swiped at the tears I'd left on his shoulder, and looked into the eyes of our President. I thanked him as best I could and told him that me and my family would continue praying for he and his.
As I write this account down and reflect upon what it means, I have to tell you that all I really know is that his simple act left me humbled and believing. I so hoped that the man I thought him to be was the man that he is. I know that our nation needs a man such as this in the Oval Office. George W. Bush is the real deal. I've read Internet stories about the President praying with troops in hospitals and other such uplifting accounts. Each time I read them I hope them to be true and not an Internet perpetuated myth. This one, I know to be true. I was there. He is real. He has a pile of incredible stuff on his plate each day - and yet he is tuned in so well to the here and now that he 'sensed' something heavy on my heart. He took time out of his life to care, to share, and to seek God's blessing for my family in a simple man-to-man, father-to-father, son-to-son, husband-to-husband, Christian-to-Christian prayerful embrace. He's not what I had hoped he would be. He is, in fact, so very, very much more.
I just found out that my current trip will be cut a little shorter, so I will get to watch election returns at home. The down side is that after 6 days in Michigan, I'll be back in St. Louis for two weeks. It makes me wonder why I gave up my St.L. apartment.
I was part of a dialogue about "choice" over on Open Book. I wanted to extract my remarks here, not because I was particularly eloquent, but because I was able to articulate my thoughts better than I often do.
My thoughts were in response to this commentary on the original post:
[By "The Americanist"] Psst.... "pro-choice" simply means the woman gets to decide. It doesn't mean women in comfortable shoes who think they're pagan goddesses. It doesn't mean sex without consequences. It doesn't mean that men are pigs -- nor paragons. It simply means that SHE gets to decide. Not the government. Not ... you guys. She does.
So long as the baby is inside her body -- and it is HER body -- the civic issue is: her body, her choice.
The less pro-life folks admit that as a simple fact, somehow found in the Consttution and upheld by the Supremes for 31 years, and continue t preclude its centrality to the argument (as the bishop did by excluding that most women actually CHOOSE to give birth), the more you alienate the very folks you want to persuade.
Here's what I posted:
[The Americanist said:] "So long as the baby is inside her body -- and it is HER body -- the civic issue is: her body, her choice.
There, straight out, is the arrogant fallacy.
My money, sitting on deposit in Joe's bank, is not Joe's money but mine. He is responsible to me for his stewardship. The owner of a beating heart inside me with a gene map different from my own is not me, and that being is not mine to dispose of. He or she is being held in a trust account for which stewardship I am responsible.
Accepting this is part of being a grown up."
And a little later, in a discussion about the term "pro-choice":
"A civilized society sometimes, when necessary, restricts the right to make particular choices when it is in the interest of society as a whole or those of its members not in a position to otherwise protect themselves. The use of "right to choose" when applied to whether or not to abort is a euphemistic label designed to eliminate the word "abortion" from discussion of the topic and should be acknowledged as such. "
When we were kids playing on Hobart St. and saw somebody geeky coming down the block, the cruel cry would go up: "No new joiners!"
I hope Red Sox fans don't feel the same way. I've always had a soft spot for your team, honest. There's a fraternal allegiance between Detroit and Boston - teams with real tradition, won nuthin' lately, etc. I really want to cheer for your guys, honest. Can I join? Please, please! To demonstrate my bona fides, may I point out that my initiation into baseball passion came as my beloved Tigers took it to those same St. Louis Cardinals in 1968. Ah, Al Kaline, my heart still belongs to you.
For a fun read about the Triumph of the Sox, click here.
A friend tells me he considers any day a success when he can cause someone to laugh hard enough to involuntarily expectorate on his or her shirt. Well, the authors at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping have done it again with their short biography of St. Malachy O'Less who, "unlike his illustrious sibling [St. Malachy O'More], did not have the gift of prophesy, and instead forgot nearly everything that occurred to him in the past. As a consequence, he became famous as a great confessor." He may have been a writer, although "an epistle bearing his name that denounces Thomas Kinkade as a sign of the Apocalypse is thought to be apocryphal, as is another fragmentary prophecy which alleges the anti-Christ will come to earth in the form of a velvet painting of a crying clown. "
To top it off, the author responds to a commenter who is transferring his affections to St. Malachy from that great philosopher, Mediocrites. "Mediocrites...I love it! Author of "The Phido," about his dog, "The Apology," in which he says he's sorry for wasting so many people's time, and the "Nicotimachian Ethics," describing the moral ramifications of smoking. And then there was Barmenides, who owned a pub." (Matthew of the Holy Whapping.)
These are all Notre Dame students. When, exactly, do they study? And does it matter?
You are a neurotransmitter. You believe in the
good-naturedness of man's biology and soul.
You're happy, everyone's happy, and no one will
ever take that away from you. Or else you'll
make them go insane.
"Stem cell research" and "embryonic stem cell research" are two different things. It's the second that raises serious moral and ethical concerns because of its use of aborted fetuses.
However, there's research underway that might lead to the medical benefits of embryonic stem cell treatments without the moral downside. If you or someone you know is pregnant, you/she might consider donating umbilical cord blood after delivery to support this research. Only a limited number of medical facilities are equipped to collect it, but it's worth a look. Follow this link for more information.
My parish priest, Fr. Ed Fride, is beloved and highly esteemed by many. (You've gotta love a man who knows all of Star Trek inside out but who has also seen The Passion of the Christ 13 times (or more, since the DVD came out.) I'm blessed that he is leading our parish Christ the King because he is hip-deep in love with Jesus and communicates that in a way that inspires me to draw closer to God.
He'll be telling his conversion story tonight (10/11) on The Journey Home on EWTN at 8:00 or whenever your broadcaster sees fit to put it on. (Replay times available at the Journey Home website.) It's a good story. I recommend it.
I found an interesting viewpoint on the parish and Fr. Ed -- click here.
I'm sure you're all familiar with the teaser subject lines by which spam e-mails try to entice you to open and respond. I don't know if the one I received today reveals above average creativity or if the sender's hook simply isn't fully baited:
Subj: Link established between pregnancy and sex
To my mind, there are few things more lovely than the early stages of autumn color, when fiery reds and golds are backdropped by the tawny green of trees waiting their turn to take the stage.
Well, I had a treat. I was in Seattle last week, and I took a half-day to drive through the Cascade Mountains and through Mt. Ranier National Park. Fall is a couple of steps ahead in that part of the country, and they've had enough rain to pop out the colors. There weren't many of the bright reds of our sugar maples, but at least one tree out there turns an eye-popping luminous shade of gold. Picture a mountainside of evergreens punctuated by these gold grandnesses that look like they're lit from behind. Wonderful.
I heard a weathercaster on the news last night saying that we might miss the height of fall color if we don't get some rain soon. Apparently the leaves will drop before they turn if they don't have enough water. Did you know that drizzly days in the Fall are a blessing? Neither did I.
I'll be in Ann Arbor for the next several weeks before I have another jaunt to Seattle - St. Louis - and then Seattle again at the end of the month. A friend asked me if I was planning a vacation with all those frequent flyer miles. I hadn't even thought about it. Maybe I'll want to go somewhere warm when the winter months grow wearying, but for now I'm feeling like quite the homebody. And I'm waiting for the rest of the leaves to turn.
. . . as are hockey fans across North America. The NHL and the players can't come to terms, so all concerned will be exercising their negotiating skills and tempers instead of their quadriceps. But here's a little consolation prize for you Red Wings fans: a Wingless Winter screensaver.
Like cheering for the home team, I'm fully enjoying the glee of the blogger-world as they go toe-to-toe with Mainstream Media (MSM) a.k.a. Dan Rather and CBS. I have no particular animus toward Mr. Rather, but his and their, well, shall we call it 'dullness of intellect' regarding the forgery scandal have created the credibility vacuum into which bright-eyed bloggers have swarmed.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Rather attempted a 60 Minutes expose' of alleged shortcomings in President Bush's National Guard record based on documents that now appear to be thinly-veiled forgeries. The typescript of the memos is consistent with having been created in Microsoft Word rather than on the typewriters available at the time. This was discovered, not by the vaunted and anonymous experts cited as authenticators by CBS, but by bloggers who did a little detective work of their own and published the results. This uppitiness does not make MSM smile.
What's fun about this is that CBS continues, as of this writing, to defend the authenticity of the documents against a proponderance of evidence. And what's most fun about that is the appearance of commentary like this:
Well, I can't measure up to the credentials of the lawyers, professors, scientists and the like, but I certainly can blog in my pajamas. What a party! If you want to join in, just visit www.blogger.com. And get a comfortable pair of slippers.
Among the community of bloggers, I am quite apolitical. In fact, I report with much pleasure that I have yet to view a political commercial all the way through during this election year. However, I am a huge fan of irony, and I cannot pass up the chance to celebrate the juicy example presented by this editorial, excerpted in its entirety from today's Wall Street Journal.
Not So Greenpeace
Environmental regulations are notoriously difficult to keep up with, what with all the paperwork and communication required. Just ask Greenpeace.
The radical environmental group and habitual filer of lawsuits is learning how the other side feels after prosecutors in Alaska filed criminal charges against it for violating state environmental laws. It seems a Greenpeace boat, the Arctic Sunrise, entered Alaskan water without the required oil spill prevention plan and proof of financial responsibility should a spiill occur. The vessel, which can carry 128,000 gallons of fuel and lubricants (Exxon Valdez, anyone?), was sailing near Ketchikan to protest logging activities.
The state charges that when the environmental group was notified of the violations on July 14, the ship's agent agreed to remain anchored until the situation was fixed. Instead, the Arctic Sunrise left port that very morning and went joyriding in environmentally sensitive areas during peak salmon runs, without care or consideration for the catastrophic impacts that would occur from failure to have the necessary resources to initiate a response." The case goes to trial in October.
As for Greenpeace, it sounds, well, positively corporate in its explanation. The organization pleaded not guilty at its arraignment. But it has also blamed its decision to go sailing on a communications mishap and noted that a "clerical error" was behind its lack of proper documentation. According to the Washington Legal Foundation, a lawyer for Greenpeace was also quoted as saying that environmental regulations are "getting to be more complicated in this day and age." You don't say.
Happiness is old friends, a lovely setting, and beautiful weather. That's what I got last weekend as a group of friends of close to 30 years standing got together at the lovely lakeside home of one of the couples. We were not all there, unfortunately, but those who were had a wonderful time.
I'm now beginning a stretch of close to three weeks at the Leadership Center. It's not one of the Coach Goes Crazy programs, at least not for a week or so. It's been long enough to be glad to be back. Isn't God good to build cycles, seasons and variety into our lives?
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I want to acknowledge the third anniversary of September 11. May God have mercy on all those who are still suffering as a result of the attacks. Pray for all those in positions of defending us from harm -- emergency responders, medical professionals, and the men and women in the armed forces. May we never forget the lessons of love, service, loyalty and community that we were taught that day.
The Detroit Tigers -- Kaline's, Cobb's, Gehringer's Tigers; the 1984 wire-to-wire champions -- were spanked 26-5 by Kansas City in the first game of a doubleheader today. Improbably enough, they proceeded to shut the Royals out 8-0 in the second game.
And people say baseball is slow and dull. Bah. It's a sport of strategy, of intellect, of sportsmanship and gamesmanship. Apparently it's sometimes an opportunity to let 13 of the other guys on base in a row. What generosity, what spirit, what hospitality.
I'm a tremendous putter-offer. If I let something go too long without taking care of it, it gets filed in my "Too Uncomfortable to Think About" file. I wish things like that would go into my "Can't Wait to Act On Right Away" file, but I misplace that one a lot.
That's the silliest of the reasons I haven't been posting. Others include:
There's not been a lot to tell.
I've moved and can't seem to get organized.
There must be some others, but I can't think of them right now.
So here's a quick synopsis of what's up with me, for what it's worth. I now live back in Ann Arbor where I telecommute when I'm not needed on site at one of the company locations. This is a bit difficult since I'm currently restricted to a dial-up connection, the speed of which leaves a good deal to be desired. You may often find me in my Annexe Office, which is Panera Bread where there's a free high-speed wireless connection.
A particular pleasure is to be living with my daughter M again. She's a wonderful companion. I only wish J weren't so allergic to this house. Anybody want to give a good home to the two reasonably lovable cats who make her sneeze?
A secret and trivial delight is that I thought I was going to miss the chance to experience football season in Ann Arbor, but here I am back again. Go Blue!
See, I am as fixated on trivial things as I've ever been. But I have to work my way back into this blogging thing. Any questions from the floor?
For some reason, I was out of the blogging mood for quite a while there. Sorry about that. In the meantime, there was a change that doesn't look like much of a change.
I've moved back to Ann Arbor from St. Louis. Now, don't take this too literally. I still work for the same company, and my primary on-site responsibilities are still at the St. Louis Leadership Center. However, since it is no longer my sole internal "customer", there didn't appear to be a compelling reason why I should relocate there at this time.
So the lovely soft feather pillow to which I am partial now resides on my comfortable bed in Michigan instead of on what was a less comfortable one in Missouri.
So, why am I presently writing from St. Louis? I'm glad you asked. I spent a good four days in Ann Arbor before duty called once more. I'm halfway through a two week leadership class. After that, I should be in MI for most of the following month. I'm not counting on it yet -- too many decisions on department direction are yet to be finalized. But it feels gooooood. And just in time for Michigan football season.
I had the good fortune to marry into a Canadian family. I'm pleased to be an honorary Canuck. Many Statesiders are unaware of any substantial differences between Canadians and Americans -- gee, they must be just like us, aren't they? -- but Canadians know better. There is a unique Canadian culture. Unfortunately, the Canadians I know can't seem to quite put their finger on what it is. But they know it's not American.
Well, here's help, and an amusing read it is. Titled Go Ahead, Call Us Cowboys, it profiles two small towns on the Yukon/Alaska border, capturing some of the difference in cultural spirit. Any of us who can abstain from a criticalness while reading (hint hint, gentle readers) will be able to enjoy the strengths of each culture, even as we probably prefer our own.
I've been in Seattle this week on business, my first visit to this fair city. It is as pretty as you may have heard. The sun burns off the clouds by noon; and between the sunshine on the hills and water, Mt. Ranier hovering in the distance, and the salty tang in the air, I'm wowed.
New Age philosophies and (oh, let's just call a spade a spade) devotional practices are very common in these parts. I came face to face with one during an opening exercise for the first group meeting of my new organization. One of the members, who is 1/4 Native American, led us in an activity which included identifying whichever particular one of an assortment of stones and rocks "called to us", finding out about that rock's spiritual characteristics, and sharing what we felt about why that rock was right for us.
In my opinion, it's difficult enough relating to the human beings in my life with empathy and sensitivity without developing a relationship with a rock. I did what I could to relate to the exercise in the context of my faith in Christ and enjoyed calling to mind what Jesus said about the importance of building on a Rock instead of on a foundation of sand. But at the point the facilitator stated that the rocks would have actual powers to bring about good in our lives I threw in the towel, unable to participate. I was tactful and subtle, mind you, but that stone went back onto the table.
What amazes me is that no one in the room would have considered it a religious exercise. The presenter was careful to include such a disclaimer at the beginning. But it baffles me that people can deny that God's fullness dwelt in a Man and is made present to us in the sacraments, yet believe that power for good dwells in a stone.
I mean, who would you rather have on your side -- the loving almighty Father who would go to any length (and has) for your good, or piece of feldspar?
Family culture is a funny thing. Some families are quietly fond and mannerly. Some are barbed and hostile. Some sweep everything possible under the nearest rug.
As best as I can tell from the inside, I was raised in a family that, besides being loving, was characterized by quick thought and quick wit. I was privileged to be brought up by a father who taught me by example about incisive thinking and constructive verbal engagement. If you weren't prepared to discuss the question, whatever the question happened to be, you didn't have much conversational fun. It wasn't hostile -- it was exploratory. It honed minds and tongues.
I was reminded of this when I read John Leo's recent piece titled Let's Keep Arguing. Leo suggests that what passes for discussion these days is actually partisan shouting to an audience of those who already agree with us.
This cheats us of one of the main benefits of living in a democracy. Raising the level of discourse includes Courtesy as the price of entry. But after that, points go to well-considered, well-articulated argument. More ideas, rather than fewer, are a good thing. (One would hope that colleges and universities would know and espouse this, but evidence suggests the opposite.)
My name is Ambra, and my parents beat my butt. The preferable term here is "spanking", but within a cultural context, there are many who know the word "beat" is merely an idom and not literal. I come from a long line of corporal punishers. The fact that I say this with so much pride is a bit disturbing. I am still proud to say I am a product of spanking.
I wasn't a bad kid, but I was definitely a smart-mouth (some things never change). If you attempted to reason with me, you would have to enter into a full-out, head-on debate. This was something my mother refused to do and thus she employed other methods to "help" me to obey. Generally speaking, this form of "help" didn't feel good.
One guest on [a talk] show outlined the "steps" she used to discipline her children:
Step 1: You get a warning
Step 2: You get a time-out
Step 3: Privileges are taken away
When I was growing up, we had no steps. It went like this:
Step 1: You do it.
End of story.
My children felt the sting of hand or paddle from time to time. They seem to remember it to have been more frequent than it actually was, which is evidence of a beneficial unintended effect of the occasional application of flat object to round bottom -- the very presence of a credible threat serves to reduce outbreaks of unacceptable behavior.
It occurs to me that I should post an Official Disclaimer or two on my site just to keep myself out of legal trouble. (I know that no one would ever pick on small fry like this author, but perhaps the implication that I am widely read would impress the occasional passer-by.) The writing of your garden variety "gee whiz, please don't sue me" statement is usually more pedantic and boring than I care for. However, the following example from Blog From the Core caught my eye and made me chuckle.
Citation of, and/or quotation of, articles [from] mainstream-media publications by The Blog from the Core — especially those in The New York Times — assume that the article was written by the one given credit for writing it; that assertions as to the time and place of authorship are true; that assertions of fact in the article are, indeed, factual; that any individuals mentioned or quoted are, indeed, who they are said to be; and, that quotations are substantially correct and were actually said and/or written by the person or persons to whom they are attributed. The Blog acknowledges that this assumption is quite shaky.
OK, I'm jealous. I want some cool disclaimers too, but I'm not interested in the usual legalese. How about this:
It is unreasonable to infer that any of the opinions expressed herein are based on anything more than whimsical intuition or wishful thinking. You may rely on them only at your own risk. I wouldn't, if I were you.
* A blissful sleep-in; then finished current book of frivolous reading
* 11:00 a.m. Mass at the Maronite Catholic cathedral downtown St. Louis
* Walked around historic Central West End; bought three used paperbacks from Left Bank Books
* Late lunch with friend at Leadership Center
* Schlepped back to central St. Louis with friend to meet another friend at highly-touted discount shoe store. I was the only person who wasn't really shopping for shoes. I was the only person who bought any (on clearance, mind you)
* Matinee showing of Troy starring Brad Pitt. (Mini-review: spectacular scenery, great costumes, a cast full of beautiful people. Editing was underutilized. Director paid too much attention to war scenes and not enough to making sure he got good performances from his actors. 2 stars.)
* We went to Harrah's Casino to greet mutual friend who was working for the first time as a blackjack dealer. Dinner first at pretty good Italian restaurant. We found out that we needed to sign up for some kind of pass to get into the gambling section, and by the time that got taken care of, friend's shift had ended and she had disappeared.
* We wandered around casino to see what it's all about. All that was missing to make me look like a complete clueless tourist was a camera hanging around my neck. We decided to try a slot machine to see what it was like. I invested $1, won $5, and decided to cash out my winnings while I was ahead.
* We left at the same time a Wayne Newton concert on the grounds was letting out. I had to fight concert traffic to get out of the casino and come home.
I need a rest from all the activity. Maybe a nice quiet day at work...
I chortled when the Huxtables admitted that they loved the first day of school because "we get the house back!". I admit that I am not a big "doter". I love children, particularly my own, but I have a low tolerance for anything sappy.
A tradition in my home faith community is to acknowledge Saturday evening as the vigil of the Lord's Day, beginning with a beautiful Christian adaptation of the traditional Jewish Sabbath ceremony. One line is ringing in my head today - offering God thanks for the "joy that has come to us out of our work" during the past week.
I often feel a bit rueful when I hear it. The line makes me think of the swinging of an ax or hammer, putting up preserves, painting a house, toting that barge and lifting that bale on a brisk autumn day where you can do a solid something with tangible results, take a deep satisfied breath, and brush the sawdust off your hands with a sigh of satisfaction.
What is the Work from which I rest on the Lord's Day? I talk to people, hunch over my computer, sit in meetings, develop that flat left ear from lengthy phone conversations, encourage, write and rewrite, grouse, snack and sit.
I'm not sure what to think or say about that. It doesn't feel virtuous. I suppose it's worthwhile, though the connection between work in Corporate American and doing genuine good seems tenuous at best sometimes.
Here's a vocabulary quiz for those of you who would like to torture yourselves. I scored 166 out of 200 with lots of wild guesses. Not shabby, but after this many years of practice, one would think I'd have better command of my native language.
Even my most Democratic friend praises the Reagan team though he disagrees with the goals and views they espoused. Peggy Noonan offers an interesting and candid insider's view of Reagan and those who gathered to remember him. Read it.
Among other gems, it contains this passage.
How did Reagan do this? He felt something was true. He studied it; he questioned it; he read about it. He concluded it really was true. But he knew that what was true was unpopular, and it would hurt him if he held it high. He held it high anyway. That was his way of showing his love.
I've had the chance to tell some of you about this development. It's proof that not all change is bad.
As a result of a company reorganization, I now have a new boss. I no longer work directly for the Leadership Center, but belong to the Organizational Development group, whose members are scattered nationwide. I will be working with the Center as my major customer for now, but I will also move into other responsibilities with various work groups. (Can you say "frequent flier miles"?)
New Boss is very supportive of telecommuting and flexible work. It's entirely possible (though not certain) that I'll be able to remain resident in Ann Arbor and travel to commitments in St. Louis and elsewhere rather than relocating permanently. This, as Martha Stewart would say, is a Good Thing. The situation is still pretty complex (I'd probably be on the road at least half the time), but the chance to live where I belong is a powerful inducement.
At work or in school: I like to be with people, sharing with them, inspiring them, and helping them. I work and learn best when I can take into consideration people and the human element. I flourish in an atmosphere of cooperation.
With friends: I always look for perfect love. I am very romantic, and I enjoy doing thoughtful things for others. I am affectionate, supportive and a good listener.
With family: I like to be happy and loving. I am very sensitive to rejection from my family and to family conflicts. I really like to be well thought of and need frequent reassurance. I love intimate talks and warm feelings.
Sometimes this sort of thing makes me think "Eeeeuuw." Not today, though. The analytic part of me must be on vacation.
A friend and colleague here on the coaching team has a daughter who's hooked up with a rising-star-type rock band. So last night I found myself with backstage passes to a Kid Rock / Puddle of Mudd concert at a local outdoor music arena. This is not generally my first choice of how to spend a free Saturday night, but it was a pretty cool experience. I enjoyed what there was to enjoy, overlooked what needed to be overlooked, and had a good time. We were seated by the guys running the sound board, lights and pyrotechnics, so it was even more fun.
I still have my backstage pass, if anyone thinks I should auction it off on e-bay.
For those of you who might be worried about whether my life is in the process of taking an abrupt turn to another course, it may be reassuring to learn that I came home and listened with great delight to the Saint-Saens Organ Concerto before I went to bed.
I'm helping staff an executive development program here at the Leadership Center. It's somewhat unusual that we have five high-ranking international executives in the group of 52. Today all five offered a panel discussion including general introductions and Q&A from the other executives.
One story, in particular, was worth the price of admission. The President of the German part of the company had a long career at high levels of the German government before moving to private industry. He was involved in national security at the time that Ronald Reagan gave his famous speech in Berlin in which he exhorted Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." The general reaction inside the German government was (1) dismay that the U.S. President was employing a provocative and confrontational tone with the Soviet Union, and (2) disbelief that such a thing would ever happen. Well, to his surprise, his office is now just east of the Brandenburg Gate in the former Russian sector. On his first day at the office, he called his wife from his cell phone and told her "Guess what? I'm actually walking to work through the Brandenburg Gate!"
It was wonderful to see the tremendous impact this had on him. It was also wonderful to see expressive emotion from a German executive. Truly, life is full of surprises.
I'm very busy again - deep into another executive program which will suck up most of my time and attention for a couple of weeks. I enjoy being this busy doing something I like, but it's going to be important to take care of the sleep and sanity needs.
My father visited STL last weekend, and we had a very enjoyable time. We heard a good symphony concert featuring pieces that even even my relatively lowbrow self can appreciate -- not an atonal composition on the program, thank you. (It's so nice that there are events for which men still dress up in a jacket and tie.) I'm grateful to still have my Dad with me, something for which I'm increasingly thankful since losing both my Mom and my husband within six months of each other. We never had that much of a one-on-one relationship while I was growing up, but we thoroughly enjoy each other's company now.
We visited St. Raymond's church which serves as the Maronite cathedral for the western half of the United States. The Maronite Rite is the Lebanese rite of the Roman Catholic Church in which my father was brought up. I'd visited several times while I've been in St. Louis, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Dad got along famously with Fr. Andre who greeted us before Mass and was pretty impressed by the story of the monk whose recent canonization was highlighted during the sermon. Whenever you get more than one Lebanese together, you talk about the old country (it doesn't seem to matter whether you've ever visited) and the food. Mmmmmm, makes me want to go find some tabouli right this minute.
I've reformatted my blog. I was in the mood for something simpler and gentler. All the comments will have to start from scratch, but there haven't been any lively debates going on at present. The new Comment utility should make it easier for you who have pop-up blockers, since the "comments" field won't be popping up in a separate window.
I just came across a very articulate blog by Amy Ridenour (not sure that it's the Amy Ridenour many of us already know and love) which discusses the Iraq war, politics and government policy from a conservative point of view. Here's a perspective on the human side of the war that had never occurred to me before:
One of the most helpful things I've learned by being a business coach is the power of recognizing when I'm in "towards" or "away" mode. Towards is the state of being motivated by gaining something, leaning into it, wanting, desiring, seeing the benefit. I'm going for something, I want that job, here's where I want to be in 5 years, I have hope for something positive, I want to see loved ones flourish, that will be fun, etc.
Being in an away state, on the other hand, is avoidant. I might be motivated by fear, distaste, caution, risk aversity. I don't want to feel guilty; I'm afraid of what might happen if I don't do something; I don't want to get to retirement without enough income; if I let my daughter do that, someone might think I'm a bad mother, if I'm not careful I'll lose that and feel terrible. You know the drill.
Negative motivations aren't all bad. They remind me of real downfalls that poor decisions might bring. The problem is, they're just not particularly invigorating. I don't bring energy, zeal, enthusiasm, or joy to a negative goal. If I'm stuck in "away", it can often be that I'm trying, probably with limited success, to adopt someone else's goals, values or standards. Try as I might . . . no, chances are that I simply won't "try as I might". I try hard and really put my back into something only when I've found some way to own it myself.
That's why the question "What do I really want?" isn't necessarily selfish. It's a diagnostic tool. Trying to bear down harder on something that really isn't mine is a recipe for wasted energy and frustration. If something is important yet doesn't show up on the "what I really want" scale, it's a signal to slow down, reflect, and line up my values and what I know about myself. Getting help shifting around to the "towards" orientation is always worth its weight in gold for me.
There's been a lot going on with me, but it's been happening on the more introverted, intuitive, reflective side which is more real but less easily articulated than the smart, snappy, witty side. And I do have so much fun being snappy/witty/feisty. That's fine, but as the commercial says, "But, wait! There's more . . ."
It's good. It's mostly about God. It's about Holy Week and Easter continuing, enjoying prayer, enjoying solitude, seeing my "wants" for what they are and learning to distinguish them from "needs", and living a full interior life. It's about loving, caring, being loved and known, and becoming (at least temporarily) less annoyable. It's about finding out that people have more dimensions and beauty than I usually pay attention to. It's learning to not being afraid of what I might discover about myself if I take an honest look inside. I may not like it, but God gently serves as either surgeon or scrubber, depending on what's called for.
It's also about spending this time temporarily self-focused, like a hothouse plant. It's where I am for now; I can't count on (nor do I really even desire) staying here indefinitely. What comes next? Who knows? As I'm fond of saying, "Make God laugh. Show Him your five-year plan." For me, I'm thinking my six-month plan might be equally amusing to Him. There are too many people I care deeply about for me to really successfully live a withdrawn life. (And those of you who know me are free to guffaw at the fact that I'm even talking about this. I, among the most affiliative of women.)
Some of us wonder what you did in graduate school. Well, now we know.
The Nature of the Universe
"Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together..."
"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot- proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning."
"In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time."
Edward P. Tryon
"Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn't have to experience it."
"I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown."
"There is a coherent plan in the universe, though I don't know what it's a plan for."
"My theology, briefly, is that the universe was dictated but not signed."
"I'm worried that the universe will soon need replacing. It's not holding a charge."
"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us."
Calvin and Hobbes (Bill Watterson)
James Caviezel's new film Stroke of Genius is now in the theaters. One thing that makes it special is that Daughter Julia not only worked herself silly on the production crew for the flick, but that she gets onscreen credit for it.
I'm excited. And I hear it's a great movie, too. See it. Early. Often.
Happiness is a gift box from Zingerman's Deli. For you folks unfortunate enough to never have walked through the golden portal, Zingerman's is an Ann Arbor legend, rightly supposed to be the only really good deli between the two coasts. My dear children chipped in (I presume -- make sure you pay Miriam, OK kids?) to send me a box of wonderful goodies for my birthday. I was the envy of my co-workers. I did share a little, but most of it is in my kitchen at this very moment, waiting to be enjoyed.
See what you're missing by not being here visiting me?
Amy Welborn's blog has a discussion on a post by Fr. Rob Johansen on the moral differences between abortion and other issues in the pro-life framework such as capital punishment and concerns about the morality of the Iraqi war.
It drew me to think about my own reservations about capital punishment. I'd appreciate your thoughts and comments (if any of my readers can forget my recent flights into flimsiness and deal with a weighty matter for a moment).
There are many moral arguments for or against the permissibility of the death penalty in the case of serious offenses. I'll leave behind the question of "how serious is serious" because my own reservations start before you even get to that point.
My position on capital punishment is more linked to pragmatic human limitations. IMHO, the philosophical arguments for or against are subordinate to the question, "Is it likely, or even possible, that a system of capital punishment will execute only the guilty and spare the innocent?" As long as this question is answered in the negative, then the abstract question of whether the guilty should be executed seems moot. It's never right to take innocent life.
On a less analytical level, I have additional reservations about cutting someone's life short who might -- given additional days, months or years -- otherwise have reflected on their lives and believed the gospel.
I would like to learn more of the poetry of John Donne (only partly because of Lord Peter Wimsey's recommendation).
Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
A friend got the following e-mail from her son serving in Iraq. There's not much else that can be said.
"hi there, well, as you all may know, we are returning from al nejaf, probably the worst 10 days of my life. i will have to keep this one short, tomarrow i will get in to what happened, but my friend cruz had his jaw blown off and now he is brain dead. a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) hit his vehicle, taking out the drivers legs and cruzes jaw. i have a lot of hate towards the malitia who did this to him. anyway, we got attacked 9 times on the way home, 20 hour drive. no one killed, lots injured. things are heating up over here, i see lots of shooting. screw iraq and everything in it"
One of the traditions in our family (at least among my daughters and myself) is the (sometimes) spontaneous recollection and sharing of sparkling moments of movie dialogue. This is usually followed by peals of laughter, but in the absence of a reliable method of keeping track of which of you may or may not be laughing, we will give everyone laugh credits just for showing up.
I'll start you off, but use the Comments box for your own contributions. Remember, it's got to be sparkling!
* * * * * * * * * *
"Oh, stop, stop!" (Wipes mock tears.) "God, I loved that movie."
Sleepless in Seattle
"I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food."
Vizzini: "Ha-ha, you fool. You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia", but only slightly less well known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian, when *death* is on the line.'"
The Princess Bride
"I suppose the life of an anorexic duck doesn't amount to much in the broad scheme of things."
Megan: "I'm sure you plan on being level-headed, but once you're in the moment, the male brain seems, I don't know, everything they say suddenly seems brilliant. Hairy legs are your only link to reality."
Grace: "You should needlepoint that on a pillow."
Return to Me
Edward: "She's heading an expedition to China shortly. I'm to go as her servant. But only on the understanding that I am to be very badly treated."
Sense and Sensibility
Charlie: "Ray, you're never gonna solve it. It's not a riddle because Who *is* on first base. That's a joke, Ray, it's comedy, but when you do it you're not funny. You're like the comedy of Abbott and Abbott."
Bianchi: "You mean you saw the man? You can identify the murderer? "
Mrs. Hubbard: "I mean nothing of the kind. I mean there was a man in my compartment last night. It was pitch dark, of course, and my eyes were closed in terror-- "
Bianchi: "Then how did you know it was a man?"
Mrs. Hubbard: "Because I've enjoyed very warm relationships with both my husbands."
Bianchi: "With your eyes closed."
Mrs. Hubbard: "That helped."
Murder on the Orient Express
Guard: "Are you coming peacefully or do you intend to resist?"
Porthos: "Oh don't be so stupid, of course we intend to resist! Just give us a moment, all right?"
The Three Musketeers
This week and next, I'm the designated "Coach On Call" at the Leadership Center. Being 'on call' is not quite as cumbersome a role as it is for your family doctor, but it does require some real energy. Several training programs will take place each week for first-level and middle managers, and I'm the gal designated to provide coaching for whoever wants to sign up during their infrequent free time. (We call it, inelegantly enough, "coaching in the cracks".) It's not difficult. In fact, I love working with this group because I have great sympathy for their positions -- caught between the employees who need things from them and the managers above who require more and more. In general, they're delighted to find out that there are indeed actions they can take to make their jobs and lives go better.
The part that's challenging is that the openings for appointments are primarily during mealtimes. While not hard in itself (remember how good the food is here?), it means I usually have a 7:00 a.m. breakfast meeting, noon lunch, 6:00 dinner meeting, plus I give a workshop on Wednesday night, and I'm in and out of the program sessions quite a bit during the first few days of the week. It's not a whole lot of added work, but the days stretch long. (Am I whining? Sorry.)
I'm looking forward to the weekend, as you might expect. A friend and I are going out for a nice dinner and a movie on Saturday. Of course, there's baseball on TV and I'm holding out hope that the Redwings playoff games will be televised in this area. (What's wrong with me that I look forward so much to sporting events and couldn't care less about going girly shopping? I guess my long-time married state made its mark.)
I've seen this little exercise but never paid attention before. It's even more fun than opening a fortune cookie:
1) Grab the nearest book.
2) Open the book to page 23.
3) Find the fifth sentence.
4) Post the text of the sentence in your journal, accompanied by these instructions.
Well, I liked this so well, I'm posting results from several books. To be fair, I'll list them in the order that they were grabbed, so I don't feel like I'm cheating. (I guess I am more scrupulous than I might have thought.)
True Professionalism; David Maister
Think back on all the work you have done in the past year or so, and divide it among three categories, the first of which is "God, I love this! This is why I do what I do!"
I believe that in an earlier post, I used the word "whipsawed". My, that feels accurate. I've spent the past week ricocheting between the sacred and secular, business and personal, Eastern and Pacific, the unpredictable and . . . well, . . . the slightly less unpredictable.
I was reconciled within the Catholic Church a week before Easter, and my devotional life has been deeply blessed as a result. The holidays (holy days) were wonderful.
The Phoenix meetings were a case study in productive upheaval. Due to a corporate restructuring, a lot of important issues at work are now up in the air. I'm proud of my team - we're not taking it lying down but are developing a good game plan to respond actively and constructively. But it will take a whole lot of work over the next couple of months.
At the same time, I'm feeling the consequences of having split my attentions so much between Michigan and St. Louis. I'm going to have a lot more of my attention focused on work where I haven't been as successful as I'd hoped in beginning to build a network. I DO have a celebration dinner scheduled on my birthday with a colleague, so you can tell I haven't completely lost sight of my personal priority of having fun in the midst of whatever is happening. Also, now that I know what kind of church I want to be part of in StL, I can begin to attend regularly and get to know people there. I'd sort of held off, as I'm sure you can understand, until the whole "Am I Catholic or am I not Catholic" question got answered.
On rereading, this post looks a bit bleak. I plead jet lag and the emotional effects of corporate restructurings. But go ahead and have compassion on me -- e-mails and comments are gratefully appreciated.
I'm in Mesa, Arizona at a meeting of the executive coaching team. A big reorganization has been announced which will have a lot of implications for the internal realities of my work, but not a lot of changes for where, when and how I'm working. Busy busy, but what else is new?
Gotta go. Meeting is reconvening. Talk to you later.
It's late, I'm tired, I have to be at the airport early tomorrow for a business trip to Phoenix. But I can't let Easter come to an end without reflecting a bit at how much it meant to be home for what is really my favorite holiday. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Saturday post-dusk 3 1/2 hour Easter Vigil Mass -- I wait for all of them all year.
For the first time in years, I went to a celebration or two after the Vigil. It was nice, but somehow I didn't feel particularly celebratory at that hour. Funny how getting older changes things.
I need to go pack for 84 degree weather. It isn't quite as enticing as it would have been in February.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean O'Malley (successor to Cardinal Law in the troubled archdiocese of Boston) had his first opportunity to address a large gathering of Boston-area priests on Tuesday. Of particular note were his comments on the effects of American culture and the importance of strong preaching in supporting the spiritual life of American Catholics:
O'Malley said too many priests do not make preaching a priority, or believe in the power of preaching. And yet, he said, opinion research suggests that "the strongest predictor of Catholic behavior and identification [is] the quality of the Sunday sermon," not issues such as "sex, birth control, abortion, or the ordination of women."
It's good to be reminded it's not the Sacraments OR the Word, it's the Sacraments AND the Word.
Name:: Roz Hometown::Ann Arbor, MI
Mother of several, grandmother of a couple, wife to one very good man. My epitaph will probably read, "Well, you just never know." Life is good, but it takes unexpected turns. Good thing I like surprises.