Apr 062015

John Allen Jr. in his latest column writes An Easter reflection on what Christians and atheists have in common.

This week, Holy Week no less, two stories broke that together illustrate a towering irony about the rise of violent Islamic extremism: In a growing number of places these days, nobody has more in common than Christians and atheists.

In Kenya, the militant Islamic group Al-Shabaab launched an assault on Garissa University College, beginning by shooting up a Christian prayer service. The gunmen then moved on, leaving Muslims unharmed while killing or abducting Christians. All told, 147 people are believed to have died.

It’s not clear if the militants deliberately chose one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar for the assault, though Christmas and Easter tend to be periods of special risk for Christian minorities in many parts of the world.

In Bangladesh, a blogger passionately opposed to religious fundamentalism named Washiqur Rahman was hacked to death in Dhaka by two men wielding knives and meat cleavers. It followed the eerily similar murder of Bangladeshi-American atheist blogger Avijit Roy in late February. Roy was assaulted by two men with machetes.

Reports out of Bangladesh assert that over the past two years, several other atheist bloggers have either been murdered or died under mysterious circumstances.

Both these Kenyan and Bangladeshi victims were targeted not just for being non-Muslims, but a specific kind of non-Muslim.

Among Islamic radicals incensed with the West, no two groups stir rage like Christians and atheists. Christians symbolize the perceived sins of the Western past, while atheists embody what Islamists see as the decadence and apostasy of the Western present.

He goes on to write about how a coalition of Christians and atheists could evolve concerning an agenda of some shared goals along with some give-and-take. That also Pope Francis would be a key in putting such a partnership together.

Ideally such a coalition makes sense because there certainly is overlap in countries where Christians are a minority in how they and atheists are treated. Still I see little chance of this happening on any major level. The so-called new atheists emerged more into the public after the terrorist attack on 9/11. Making distinctions has never been a strong point for them. While this movement has been extremely anti-religion from its start, it has also mostly played out as anti-Christian in practice. The new atheists at times will criticize Islam, but much of their thrust has been anti-Christian in the amount of critique.

There is also a lot of overlap with the new atheists and secularism in general with a heavy dose of political correctness. They are natural allies and once again the thrust is anti-Christian with what should be a strange bend towards the defense of Islam. Strange indeed the secular apologists for Islam when it is so contrary to so much they profess. It only makes sense in light of the fact that these groups are primarily anti-Christian. As Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy “..any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with.”

There are of course notable exceptions to this with some atheist commentators making distinctions and seeing the threat as it is. But figures like Oriana Fallaci are few. I would love to see common cause in this where our goals do indeed intersect and that my own pessimism about this being totally wrong.

Note: The fuller quote is “This began to be alarming. It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with. What again could this astonishing thing be like which people were so anxious to contradict, that in doing so they did not mind contradicting themselves?” — G. K. Chesterton. “Orthodoxy”

Mar 312015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 12 March 2015 to 31 March 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.


Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences




Papal Tweets

  • “The laity are called to become a leaven of Christian living within society.” @Pontifex 26 March 2015
  • “Life is a precious gift, but we realize this only when we give it to others.” @Pontifex 27 March 2015
  • “As disciples of Christ, how can we not be concerned for the good of the weakest?” @Pontifex 28 March 2015
  • “Holy Week is a privileged time when we are called to draw near to Jesus: friendship with him is shown in times of difficulty.” @Pontifex 30 March 2015
  • “Confession is the sacrament of the tenderness of God, his way of embracing us.” @Pontifex 31 March 2015
Mar 302015

I don’t really need to write anything about the idiotic backlash to Indiana’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Others have taken up the task much more ably. So mostly I will point you to others with minimal commentary.

First off, Brandon Vogt replies to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook misguided editorial about how such laws are “dangerous”. His post nicely points out where Tim Cook is wrong What Apple’s CEO Gets Wrong About Discrimination and Religious Freedom. Like Brandon I am a fan of Apple’s products and have been impressed with Tim Cook’s overall leadership. Personally I have been less than impressed with his other forays into the political realm. Under his time as CEO an app was banned from the app store. It was an app developed by the group behind the Manhattan Declaration in support of social goals including the dignity of marriage. Tim Cook talks about religious freedom, yet this app which also called for Freedom of Religion was banned. I found this political censorship rather egregious.

Tim Cook like President Obama has a very confused view about exactly what religious liberty means. Apparently it only regards your ability to attend worship services and not actually acting on your beliefs if it conflicts with political correctness.

Ross Douthat at the NYT times posts some questions for critics of this bill. He provides seven questions about future steps in regard to this issue. Although I doubt these critics for the most part are interested in answering these questions.

Kevin Jones at the Catholic News Agency wrote No, Indiana did not just pass a law discriminating against gay people. Here’s why. He provides examples from multiple others states who have instituted the same law and the positive results.

Much has also been made of the fact that Indiana’s law reflects the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by a nearly unanimous Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton who came out against Indiana’s law of course did not explain this. So yes you can play a “gotcha” game with critics, but to really no gain. What Congress passes is almost always about what is popular at the moment and not some action to be held for all time. That politicians will support something while it is popular and then support the contrary when the contrary is popular. Look at all the about-faces on same-sex marriage among Democrats for the most part.

One more aspect of this as Ross Douthat wrote:

I don’t think the view taken by these florists/bakers/photographers is necessarily mandated by orthodox Christian belief.

I’ve listened to what Al Kresta has also said along the same lines. From a moral theology view exactly what level of cooperation with evil is involved in these cases? My initial reaction is that in some of these cases it would indeed be cooperation with evil. Other cases it might be considered remote material cooperation. Regardless the person whose conscience has made that determination should not be forced to do otherwise. When I was a liberal I remember that freedom of conscience was a big deal and often talked about. Although probably is was always the case that supporting freedom of conscience was contingent regarding what you were objecting to.

Mar 262015

TS reminiscing about “Stern ol’ teacher Sister Ruth”.

How she didn’t mind dull sermons because she knew someone needed to hear what was being preached. I recall being shocked by that notion; I thought only in terms of me, of course, and couldn’t imagine “liking” a homily for the sake of another.

Sometimes I read something I really don’t like. Especially when it makes me see something true. I share his rebellion at the idea, but then at my own selfishness.

As they say “read the whole thing”, since his post is an excellent piece of writing (as usual). His blog Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor has continued truckin’ on since 2001.

Mar 262015

Lifting this in full from Dr. Ed. Peters British priests have canonical rights, too.

There isn’t a word—not one single word—in the short, open letter signed by hundreds of British Catholic priests to the Catholic Herald (London) defending Church teaching on marriage and sacraments that any Catholic could not, and should not be proud to, personally profess and publically proclaim. The priests’ letter is a model of accuracy, balance, brevity, and pastoral respect for persons. It fortifies the soul to know it exists. It gladdens the heart to actually read it.

I am at a loss, therefore, to understand why Vincent Cardinal Nichols seems to chastise priests who signed letter for their allegedly “conducting [a] dialogue, between a priest and his bishop … through the press.” The priests’ letter is a statement of Catholic belief, not an opening gambit in a negotiation; it is addressed to a journal editor, and through him to lay and clerical public, not to a particular prelate. Moreover, the letter is a text-book example of clergy exercising a canonical right guaranteed to all the Christian faithful, namely, “to manifest to sacred pastors [Code for ‘bishops’] their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” Canon 212 § 3, my emphasis.

The Cardinal, of course, need not have said anything about the letter; frankly, his responding via the press is what might yet turn the event into a dialogue in the press. But, if a response was to be made, anything less than “I am delighted to know that so many priests love our Church, her teachings, and the people served by both” makes the direction of that dialogue suddenly worrisome.

It is bad enough that the secular world is attacking marriage, but when we have friends like Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal, Marx and, Cardinal Nichols, and other Catholic it is not very comforting. Still British Bishops have a tradition of not defending marriage since only one bishop stood up to King Henry VIII – St. John Fisher. Although this is certainly not confined to British bishops. Remember when the USCC and NCCB the predecessor groups to the USCCB totally freaked out over no fault divorce laws? Unfortunately history doesn’t remember this either.

Still it is awesome to see the support for marriage by hundreds of British Catholic priests.

Another story that has caught my attention regards Patricia Jannuzzi, the Catholic teacher removed from a Catholic school for defending Catholic teachings about marriage. When I first saw the story I had some initial skepticism. Often people can defend Catholic teaching in quite a belligerent way. Now that I have actually read the screenshot of this post I don’t see what was so highly objectionable other than to same-sex activists and their supporters. The post was just a tad hyperbolic, but the slippery slope argument in this regard certainly has merit. Was her post super-elegant with necessary caveats? Of course not it was on Facebook.

Later I saw another story with the diocese saying she had not fired her. So I wasn’t sure what the story was now.

Today I saw an update to this story from Maggie Gallagher and it doesn’t come off well for the diocese in that reportedly diocesan lawyers told her lawyer that there was no way she would ever be allowed to teach there again. Originally the bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen called Patricia Jannuzzi’s statement “disturbing.” Seems like the diocese is in damage control now. Especially after the Lepanto Institute ran a local radio add.

Last Friday’s ad encouraged listeners to “call Bishop Bootkoski now, 732–562–1990” and “ask him whose side he’s on: Catholics who defend our faith or Hollywood liberals who mock it.”

“Tell Bishop Bootkoski to put our values ahead of political correctness,” he said.

The Hollywood liberal aspect regards comments made by Susan Sarandon whose nephew was a student of Patricia Jannuzzi and was the one who got her Facebook post publicized.

I must say I am a bit uneasy about a radio ad of this nature and the tone of it. Part of that is my own uneasiness even posting about this story in the first place. It is too easy to take a narrative approach to a news story when really the only information you have about a story is through the news. It certainly seems to me that the diocese could have handled this much better and if they considered her post imprudent than certainly that could have been handled without firing her.

Still the story does have some contrasts with other stories. So on one coast we have a bishop under fire for wanting teachers who will teach the truth of the Catholic faith and on the other coast a bishop who apparently would fire a teacher for accepting the Church’s teaching.

Mar 242015

Did you ever have one of those transitory freak-out moments at Mass where you are praying and then something brings you out of it?

Well I had one of those incidents last Sunday at Mass. I was knelling prior to Communion and for a change during the middle of a distraction I might have actually been praying. Then all of a sudden I had a face full of hair. The women in front of me stopped kneeling and sat up in the pew. So for a second there was this experience of having a face full of hair, wondering what just happened, finally realizing what happened, and then rapidly returning to sit down.

Now usually I am prepared for such a contingency when the line to Communion is getting close enough that it would be time for my row to form up. What surprised me was that there was still some time until this was going to happen. Still no big deal and this is was not my first occurrence of this hair-esy.

Still there should be a much more developed form of pew etiquette. Perhaps a Miss Manners style booklet of what is expected. If I was to write such a booklet it would include:

  • Putting your kneeler in the upright position when going to Communion. Most people are pretty good about doing this. Others I guess expect that you have feet as the result of Chinese foot binding. Although not that big of deal since sliding it up for them is easy enough. Strangely one of the skills not taught at RCIA is the skill of toe-lifting a kneeler up with minimal noise.
  • Then there is the fascinating way people populate pews. Often you have a distribution with one or more people sitting on each side of a continual length of pews with much of the middle abandoned. So of course this results in the awkward sideways shuffle if you need to occupy the neutral zone of pew space.
  • You just have to love the chatterers who whisper what is no doubt liturgical catechesis to each other all through Mass. The close species of this are the love-birds who show signs of affection to each other all through Mass. I take comfort in knowing that eventually there dreams will be crushed and they will act like other couples at Mass instead. Okay that last was rather tongue-in-cheek (well appropriate regarding the affectionate couple).
  • My personal favorite is the hair adjuster. The person who keeps adjusting their hair all through Mass flipping it from side to side along with other movements. Still I am a bit more lenient about this than St. Paul “For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off.”
  • The gum-chewer during Mass is rather rare in my experience. I was rather dumbfounded noticing this once and so of course the rest of the Mass I didn’t think about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but “Is that person really going to chew gum all through Mass?” The answer to this was yes and at subsequents Masses also. Although people who have to clean pews might find that the gum chewer is less rare than I have visually experienced based on the amount of gum stuck under a pew.
  • Then of course there is the etiquette regarding leaving Mass. Sometimes I think I would be safer in a movie theater after someone yelled “fire.” Apparently “The last will be first” does not apply to the parking lot.
  • Getting back to my original point there should be some etiquette regarding sitting down if you know someone is kneeling behind you. Accidents will happen in this regard, but some people don’t seem to concern themselves at all regarding this and expect you to just get out of the way.

Still regarding Mass etiquette there is one thing that does not annoy me at all. The crying baby is just fine with me. I say down with cry rooms and let’s have the joyful noise of the crying baby, plus maybe it might just drown out the guitars and drum kit.

Now I am not going to be the one to write such a style booklet as I have certainly transgressed Mass etiquette causing disturbances during Mass or afterwards. Especially regarding sitting on one of the ends.

Once during Mass the Rosary I was just holding in my hand decided to come apart and so many beads came off and started rolling noisily on the floor. To my mind the sound of it was as if I had released bowling balls to roll down to the sanctuary.

Once after Mass I was kneeling in front of the Tabernacle at the Communion Rail (yes amazingly it hadn’t been removed). After some time apparently my legs had fallen asleep and when I got up to keep from falling over I grabbed the Communion rail. The top of it came off and I was on the ground with about 50 pounds of marble Communion rail on me. Talk about embarrassment as people came to help me.

Mar 242015

Via Rev. Daren J. Zehnle, K.H.S. at Servant and Steward.

Every now and again, though, a headline or two does capture my attention, like this one: Bishops say Marian emails and texts circulated in Ivory Coast may disturb public order. Alright, when did the Blessed Virgin Mary start sending text messages? That’s a headline that leads to a story I’ll read.

As should probably be expected, the Bishops of the Ivory Coast are cautioning the faithful about the claims of some who say the Mother of God is sending them messages through the new media:

In a letter sent earlier this month, the bishops said the authenticity of the messages “has neither been proven nor approved by the Church.” In fact, they said, most of the messages are “contrary to the teachings of the Church.”

“People, claiming to be from the Catholic Church, have given themselves the mission to disseminate messages that, according to their authors, are from the Virgin Mary,” said the bishops.

After reviewing their content, the letter said, “the conclusion is that the content of most of these messages is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ … for some messages may even disturb public order and create psychosis and fear among the people.

Consider me rather credulous. After all everyone knows Mary communicates via toast.

Still it does make me wonder what Mary’s email address would be? She has so many titles that she probably wouldn’t have any trouble finding a domain that is not taken up yet.

Still what two digit country code would she use? Heaven abbreviated HN is already taken up by Honduras. Blessed Virgin as BV is used by Bouvet Island. Maybe VI since the Virgin Islands is somewhat close. Pehaps DO as in “Do whatever he tells you” which is used by the Dominican Republic. Hail Mary as HM also fits even if used by Heard Island and McDonald Islands.

Still if I got an email from Mary@destroyerofhere.sy I would open that even if it is a Syrian country code. Perhaps Mary@mysticalro.se which uses Sweden’s country code. Better yet Mary@ArkOfTheCovena.nt which uses the country code for Neutral Zone which is no longer used since it was for the Saudi-Iraqi neutral zone.

Mar 242015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 3 March 2015 to 24 March 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)


Papal Tweets

  • “May every Church and Christian community be a place of mercy amid so much indifference.” @Pontifex 23 March 2015
  • “Suffering is a call to conversion: it reminds us of our frailty and vulnerability.” @Pontifex 24 March 2015
Mar 232015

Thomas L. McDonald modeled his How I Pray series after Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He decided to publish his own entry on “How I Work” and to invite others to do the same. Well any opportunity to geek out and talk about myself geeking out – well how could I resist?

Location Ask the NSA for specifics, generally Jacksonville, Fl.

Current Gig Application Developer

One word that best describes how you work: Edison (caveat below)

Current mobile device: iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2

Current computer: Since I do work at work and from home:

  • Home: 5K 27″ Retina iMac with a 500GB SSD and 1TB Fusion drive and 24GB of memory. Along with two external monitors: 27“ Apple Thunderbolt Display and a 24” HP display.
  • Work: 2012 Mac Pro with 500GB and 256GB SSDs and 24GB of memory. Along with one Apple Thunderbolt Display and two Dell 24″ monitors.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Why?

Visual Studio, Sublime Text 3, Dropbox, Markdown, Marked, Pinboard.io.

Microsoft’s Visual Studio Much of my work involves writing software used in courseware development. Since the company I work for mostly uses Windows along with the military, then Visual Studio is really the premiere development IDE available. C# is mostly my language of choice for Windows desktop software. I’ve used Visual Studio since it came out and I have come to really enjoy the power it has developed over the years, especially when used with Resharper. Considering that I have worked with it day in and day out for years on end I am surprised that I still enjoy coding with it. Although the development of C# during the years is part of that. On the Mac side I have also done some OSX and iOS development which is why even as a Windows developer we now have Macs at work. Apple IDE Xcode is quite different from Visual Studio in many ways along with a different emphasis regarding development. Xcode has gotten better, but Visual Studio is superior in many ways. Although Xcode new playground feature is pretty awesome.

Sublime Text 3 Programmers are well known for getting into flame wars over text editors. I have used dozens of text editors over the years with various text editing love affairs that eventually end when I move on. I’ve only been using Sublime Text for a year, but there are several reasons it has become my favorite.

  • The fact that it works on Mac and Windows is certainly key to me since I run a Windows virtual machine on my Mac and an constantly going between the two OSs.
  • Extensibility on Sublime Text is amazing. Strangely it was a third party that provided a package manager that allows all the power of Sublime Text. These packages make a good editor great in what you can do quite quickly and text selection capabilities are so good it is quite annoying using any editor with them.
  • As a keyboard jockey I like to be able to do tons of editing without moving to my Apple Trackpad to perform them. Sublime Text lets you set your keyboard bindings and pretty much all user settings. The fact that I can use VIM keyboard binding also is a plus.
  • Searching across projects is easy along with fuzzy matching. Again with a quick keyboard shortcut I can jump through a file or search through multiple files quickly. Sublime Text_ is not free and recently GitHub has developed there own open source multi-platform text editor Atom which is very much like Sublime Text including almost exactly the same features and keyboard shortcuts.

Dropbox I’ve used Dropbox since it was in beta and you needed an invitation. Since I do work from home and my work location having my files instantly synced wherever I go is perfect. The fact that so many iOS apps also support Dropbox means that I can also access those same files from my movile device. Dropbox has been integrated into almost all of my workflows. While there are similar services like Google Drive and One Drive, Dropbox is better integrated in most mobile apps.

Markdown is a plain text formatting syntax that has become increasingly popular for more than just geeks. I use it for wiki documentations of applications I write, notes, history, and of course blog posts. I mostly use it with Sublime Text, but also with Drafts and other iOS editing apps. Since it is plain text it is not limited or proprietary like other document formats. I wrote a quick introduction to the power of Markdown here. To give some idea about how good the Markdown syntax is I give this post as an example. It is filled with formatting and links, yet I can easily read the plain text file almost as if it was already formatted.

Marked Since I use Markdown so much it is nice to be able to see those files as formatted in HTML. Marked 2 by Brett Terpstra is phenomenal in displaying Markdown as HTML along with allowing direct export to HTML or PDF. I use this with Sublime Text where I can see the currently edited document with a keyboard shortcut. This is just a great app which is constantly updated. It’s only downside is that it is Mac only and I have not found anything near as feature-rich on Windows. Although when using Sublime Text on Windows I use the Markdown Preview package to see my current document in a browser window.

Pinboard.io This is a bookmarking service that I use constantly. Whenever I come across a web page with information I want to archive or refer back to I add it to Pinboard.io. This is a service much like the original Delicious. But it is a service I expect will be around for a while since it is not free. The one time cost is rather minimal, I think I paid a bit less than $10. The cost is to support and to keep the service running. When reading through all my RSS feeds or doing research for work anything useful I find I just tag and add it to Pinboard.io and then I can easily find it later. For an annual fee they will also archive all the pages you tag so even if the page you added goes away later you will still have it. What I do instead for information I want to make sure I keep, I use Heck Yes Markdown to convert the page from HTML to Markdown and then save it in my notes or archive folder. Now that iOS 8 has shared extensions I can send links to Pinboard.io from pretty much any app.

Honorable mentions go to Drafts 4 on iOS which is a clearing house for ideas and notes. iOS 8 has given Drafts even more power since I can quickly tap in notes from the notification screen and add chunks of texts to my monthly archive on Dropbox. Pushbullet has also become another go to app. This service which works in a browser, iOS, Android, and OSX allows you to send information to other devices. So I can easily send text between my phone, work and home computers, or to all my devices. This service keeps getting better.

Oh and one more facet of my workflow that is intrinsic to the way I work is text expansion and keyboard shortcuts. With text expansion I can just type a couple of letters and then have words, phrases, etc, inserted into my text . Great for coding, writing, and even filling out forms. I use TextExpander for this and this is a great application. Since I use a ton of keyboard shortcuts, keyboard remapping is important. I have remapped my Caps Lock key to be able to use it in combination with other keys to trigger actions. On the Mac I do this with free software with the instructions listed here. On Windows I use the freeware program AutoHotkey.

What’s your workspace setup like?

At Work

At Home

iPad Screen

iPhone Screen

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

The problem with most note systems is tagging and finding what you have previously jotted down. My system isn’t perfect, but it works for me.

  • I mostly keep all my notes in one folder with few sub-folders on Dropbox.
  • My tagging is in the filename. For example for work I might have files like “Language.C#.Linq.md” and “Language.JQuery.md”. So this gives me a general category for the first word then with further topic differentiation separated by periods. So instead of having the organization in folders, the organization is inherit in the filename in one main folder.
  • Finding notes is extremely fast using the following methods.
    • Using Alfred on OSX with a keyboard shortcut I can instantly search for terms in my filename and select from a list of matching files to then load up into Sublime Text. This could be also done with OSX built-in Spotlight. Window’s users could do the same with something like Launchy.
    • When I have my notes project loaded into Sublime Text I get even quicker file name and file content searches.
  • Since my notes are plain text files on Dropbox it means my notes are easily accessed via any mobile device. With the iOS app Trunk Notes I even have a wiki on my iPad which uses my Dropbox notes in one folder.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

I have seen and used a lot of them, but mostly I just don’t use one. At work the developers as a team use Agile software development with task organization divided into sprints. So I guess that is my to-do management for work. At home I am much more laissez-faire where mostly my to-do’s are what book I am going to read next or blog ideas. For both of those and honey-do tasks I use my note system already mentioned.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?

Well like the wording in the other question I take issue about the whole idea of not being able to live without something. My years in the Navy taught me there are lots of things I can live without and annual Lenten periods taught me that there were another whole group of things I can live without. Yes I am a geek and I enjoy working with technology very much and love that I have a job that I very much enjoy doing, but I could live without all of it (if forced to).

Still I have loved music my whole life and have continued to find new artists I enjoy. So the fact that there are now subscription music services is pretty awesome. When I use to go to sea I would take hundreds of cassettes with me. It was a major pain to cart them all on and off ship and so now I greatly appreciate both music stored on disc space and streaming. So much more convenient.

Along with that Netflix is another great service. I hardly watch any live TV at all and just binge watch series along with receiving Blu-Ray discs. Totally changed the way I consume video.

As a final note, ebooks have also transformed the way I read. It has become my preferred way to read since now I am never without a book as long as I got my phone in my pocket and besides I can carry around my whole library. I currently have 1307 book stored in a Calibre library on Dropbox and out of that number there are about five I haven’t read yet. Mostly I use the Kindle app on my iPad along with Marvin. Although I am starting to use the Logos iPad app more and more for both scripture reading and my growing Logos library. In connection with this I also use Voice Dream Reader on iOS. This is a Text-To-Speech app with phenomenal voices and a slew of capabilities. I use it mostly to play ePub books imported from Dropbox during my daily commute. Gives you an instant audiobook with quality voices. I also use it to play back articles I stored in Pocket.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?

In one of the first questions it asked me to use one word to describe how I work and that was Edison. I chose this word not through prideful bravado or thinking I am any kind of genius, but because of my stick-to-it-ness. Supposedly Edison just kept trying different filaments until one worked. How true that is I don’t know. But I do know that in coding and other situations I don’t easily give up regarding a frustrating problem not easily solved and keep trying different alternatives until I find one that works. In the past this allowed me to do some rather surprising things with software development not envisioned by the authors of the tools.

As for doing this better than everybody else, well I wouldn’t want to put any money down on that proposition.

What do you listen to while you work?

Well sometimes my boss. But seriously mostly I listen to podcasts and music. During most coding tasks I can listen to podcasts while working. If I am learning something new or architecting software design than I just listen to music.

What are you currently reading?

This post has gone on long enough. But oh well. As a bibliophile I spend lots of time reading. You can see this from my Goodreads account. On my reading list of books I own and will read within the next week or so I have.

  • Furies of Calderon – Jim Butcher
  • Son – Lois Lowry
  • Scripture – Stephen J. Binz
  • Finding True Happiness – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.
  • The League of Frightened Men – Rex Stout
  • The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz, the first Sherlock Holmes authorized by the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate

Then of course there is the Liturgy of the Hours and other devotional reading I have set out for the year.

What has changed over the years since you started and what do you do differently?

I first became interested in programming in High School. At the time the only real personal computer was the Altair 8800 which was a kit you put together and it only had switches for octal input. I use to go the the Byte Shop with my High School electronics teacher to learn on this machine. At the time I also picked up my first book on the Basic computer language. After that there was dabbling with programming on a Commodore 64, then Commodore Amiga, and then the IBM PC and the subsequent PC clones. While still in the Navy I started to get much more seriously into programming and for the last half of my Navy career I ended up being allowed to spend a lot of time writing programs for use.

So what has changed over the years? Well pretty much everything. Still I won’t get into older geek reminiscences where I say “I remember when <insert any hardware> cost this much!” Still maybe the biggest change has been a move from the desktop to the web and then to mobile devices. There are strange congruences here since much of mobile application development is just like desktop development. Web technologies which have become very powerful, but they still don’t fully match up to applications developed for specific processors. Still for many developers this means that, as in my case, you have to be able to do more traditional application development along with development on the web side.

Mar 182015

When I see a book about about the scientific evidence for God I have some trepidations. Especially since there are many ways this can go badly. So when I received The Reality of God: The Layman’s Guide to Scientific Evidence for the Creator by Steven R. Hemler for review I had that in the back of my mind. Since it was from Saint Benedict Press I should have known not to be concerned.

This book is rather straight forward and divided into three major categories regarding God’s existence. The cosmic, biological, and then philosophical arguments.

Generally the first part covers arguments regarding proofs of the universe having a beginning irregardless of what competing theory of the universe you go with. As part of this the Kalām cosmological argument is presented. After this are section regarding the fine tuning argument. How the universe seems to be fine tuned for life and that even minor variances in universal constants and laws would have rendered life impossible. I found the information well presented and easily understandable. While I have read several related books on these topics I still picked up some more information.

The trepidations I mentioned at the beginning of this post usually regard the handling of biology and evolution. I have gone through different phases regarding this myself. Originally held the view of evolutionary naturalism as a result of atheistic materialism. My conversion included a brief stop in creationism I picked up from Protestant radio. My mistaken belief was that if I was going to take the existence of God seriously that this went with it. After that I was more into the view as popularized by the intelligent design movement. Now my opinion is more along the line “Whatever God did is fine with me.” So the view usually called theistic evolution raises no hackles with me. This is the view this book goes into. I really liked how the subject was covered including necessary caveats. To often this topic is presented as either/or when really both/and is really called for. Regardless I am open to wherever the evidence leads.

The last part deals with what the author calls human evidences such as conscience, the light of reason, and the philosophical ways of knowing of God’s existence classically put forward by St. Thomas Aquinas. Again I found this presented well.

This is a fairly short book and so there is a lot of information to be covered and gone through. Really most of the topics covered usually require full-length book treatment. Still I think the book meets its objective as a layman’s guide. So as an introduction to these topics I consider this worthwhile and at a level for high school students on up. There are plenty of references to other books that do go in more depth. Fr. Robert J. Spitzer works are mentioned throughout. I found his book New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy to be outstanding even if it made my brain hurt. Although that book is not for the casual layman and is can be quite technical in parts. As an introduction to some of the basic arguments for the existence of God I found The Reality of God as something I would have no problem recommending.