Jun 142016
 

So I had noticed a social media acquaintance had published a book, and so bought it in the interest of friendship. When it comes to self-published books I have lost some of my prejudice towards them as I have found some exceptionally good ones.

Specifically I am speaking of Vikings at Dino’s: A Novel of Lunch and Mayhem by William Duquette who blogs over at Cry ‘Woof!’.

The initial premise is that when Michael Henderson goes to lunch a band of Vikings trash the place performing all kinds of mayhem, and this happens every time he goes out to lunch. He starts with a Douglas Adams quote which sets the tone. Now I do enjoy when a funny premise is taken advantage of and that is certainly done here. The comic tone of Michael as he deals with these unpleasant intrusions of murderous Vikings was pretty funny at times.

What I did not expect that the story would evolve to a extremely good Science Fiction story. He brought the premise out of the comic realm into believable situation. This was expertly done. Even better he took what might have had average time travel elements and did something new with them. Done in a way that time travel paradoxes had nothing to do with the story at all.

Being aware that William Duquette is both a lay Dominican and a programmer I was not surprised to find some elements of that in the story. So there is some philosophical treatment of understanding the mechanics of what makes this a SF story. The central protagonist also being a programmer provides a partial problem-solving worldview in dealing with this odd situation. This aspect is totally integrated into the story and make it a better story. As a programmer myself, it certainly made me smile at times.

This was just an excellent novel that fired on all cylinders. That took basic tropes and built upon them developed characters. There was much in this novel I did not expect, but nothing I did not immensely enjoy. I really really hope this novel develops into sequels since it is easily one of the best things I have read this year. So for selfish reasons I urge you to obtain this book, because I want more!

Jun 132016
 

If your city is being besieged by criminals and you need to protect your city the best way is with the Magnifcat.

This is kind of an antithesis of the story in the Old Testament of the fall of Jericho. For seven days they marched around the city, with seven priests at the head, and marched around the city seven times.

To protect your city you do something similar by saying the Magnifcat seven times.

My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her lowliness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength
and scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones
and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant,
remembering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his sons for ever.

Because everybody knows to protect your city from outlaws you need the Magnifcat 7.

Jun 082016
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 9 May 2016 to 8 June 2016.

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.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Let us pray together for the Jubilee for Priests from 1-3 June. Visit http://www.im.va/content/gdm/en/live.html@Pontifex 2 June 2016
  • “Our priestly life is given over in service, in closeness to the People of God, with the joy of those who hear the Lord.” @Pontifex 3 June 2016
  • “Let us hear the cry of the victims and those suffering, no family without a home, no child without a childhood.” @Pontifex 4 June 2016
  • “The Saints are not supermen, nor were they born perfect. When they recognized God’s love, they followed it and served others.” @Pontifex 5 June 2016
  • “We need to discover the gifts of each person: may communities transmit their own values and be open to the experiences of others.” @Pontifex 6 June 2016
  • “In this age lacking in social friendship, our first task is that of building community.” @Pontifex 7 June 2016
  • “Let us protect the oceans, part of the “global commons”, vital for our water supply and the variety of living creatures!” @Pontifex 8 June 2016

Papal Instagram

Jun 072016
 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Even after being robbed, beaten and carjacked in front of his West Brighton church Thursday morning, the priest would not take another day off.

Parish priest Rev. Marc Roselli, of St. Mary of the Assumption-Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Benedicta R.C. Church, returned Friday morning to deliver his weekly mass inside the Roman Catholic church.

Sporting a black-and-blue shiner under his left eye, Roselli made light of the situation when addressing the flock of parishioners in attendance.

“It looks way worse than it feels,” he joked. “I know it looks bad, but the eye was not hit.”

The priest skipped the junior morning mass, as to spare the children of his injury – but made sure to return for the 12 p.m. service.

Hours before, police arrested two men in connection with the armed robbery, charging both suspects with robbery and criminal possession of stolen property.

In custody are Kerry Pack, 39, of North Burgher Avenue, and Antwine Lucas, 44, of Gates Avenue in Brooklyn, according to a spokesman for the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public information.

The suspects approached the priest as he exited his car around 5 a.m. Thursday outside 1265 Castleton Ave., police say. A culprit brandished a black firearm and demanded the victim’s wallet, according to police.

After the priest complied with their demands, a suspect punched the victim in the face, and both culprits fled in the victim’s champagne-colored Ford Fusion, police said.

Source

Jun 052016
 

I recently finished a new collection of short stories from various authors I have not read before.

Between the Wall and the Fire edited by Russell S. Newquist, who also provides three stories.

“Between the Wall and the Fire – A collection of superversive science fiction and fantasy stories celebrating family devotion, including the stories”

If you have not come across the term superversive before, it describes a literary movement with an informal mission statement.

The goal of the Superversive is to bring hope, where there is no hope; to bring courage, where without courage, hope would never be manifested.
The goal of the Superversive is to be light to a benighted world.
The goal of the Superversive is:
To tell the truth.

So no stories where Captain America is actually a Hydra agent all along.

Now this statement combined with a theme of family could provide some trepidation of syrupy message fiction. Hammering in the point that “Family is important” like the endless “Holiday” movies on the Hallmark channel.

That is totally not the case and the collection of stories within Between the Wall and the Fire are excellent stories on their own in the genre of SF and Urban Fantasy. I enjoyed all the stories, but some stood out against even a solid collection.

The collection starts out very strong with “Edge” by Russell S. Newquist. The story starts with some explanation of motorcycle physics and introduces the main character a P.I. You start to get the feeling of some SF noir and then the action ramps up, and ramps up again. The situation gonzo as you start to find out about the inhabitants of this world. I really enjoyed how this was layered and that for a short story a definite beginning/middle/end. Like most good short stories you are satisfied with it while at the same time wanting more. In this case I could not have thought of a better ending. Just perfect.

“On the Bayou’s Edge” by Morgon Newquist was another story that left me perfectly satisfied. A grandmother protecting her family from things in the swamp. Serious things in the swamp that you need protection from, but that most people are unaware of. The story escalates when Maw Maw runs into a creature more powerful than what she has run into before. I just loved this character and the writing was crisp enough so that you had a nuanced look at the character without much exposition. It developed with the story. It also reminded me of the best of the Harry Dresden elements.

“Brotherly Envy” by S.D. McPhail is sort of an extended parable regarding two brothers where one brother is being praised for the powers that came to him. I found this story very thoughtful regarding the traps of envy, especially when you both envy and have come to despise the other.

“Negev” by Joshua M. Young explores a group of colonists who have left Earth because of religious persecution and are trying to make it on their own on a new planet as their skill set is rapidly lost. They are then found by representatives of “posthumanity” which provides the collision of cultures in the story. As the colonists are Jewish you can see allusions to the problems the Jewish people experience in their exodus and what they can take and reject from cultures they collided with.

“Knight of the Changeling” by Rusell S. Newquist was another one I greatly enjoyed. What happens in the genre of urban fantasy when a changeling is discovered and you try to recover the switched-out child? First off I just loved how the changeling was detected. Mostly I enjoyed the dangers of fairy land and then how it was all resolved.

In the interest of being brief I will stop the story synopsis, but really could easily go on since I liked all the stories so much.

Still I have to give final mention to “Life Began at Thirty-Three” by Verne Luvall. This is actually not fiction, but a short biographical reflection on life by Morgan Newquist’s grandfather. I am glad they included this, since I was rather moved by it and it topped off the theme of family perfectly.

Jun 022016
 

The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories is a new book put together by Abby Johnson, the former manager of a Planned Parenthood in Texas. She told of her conversion into the pro-life cause in Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line which was an exceptional book.

Since leaving the abortion business she started And Then There Were None, a registered nonprofit organization that exists to help abortion clinic workers leave the abortion industry. Her new book is a collection of stories from former abortion clinic workers.

The book starts with an excellent quote to put things into perspective.

“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that the other set of people are human.”

Aldous Huxley, The Olive Tree, 1937.

The abortion industry has been very effective in making a whole class of persons non-entities and simply “products of conception”, tissue mass, etc. But for pro-lifers there can be a similar temptation to dehumanize abortion workers. At first thought it is hard to imagine working in such a clinic day in and day out considering the horror within. This is why a book such as this is important.

These are not simply conversion stories of such workers detailing what occurred to make them see the reality of abortion and their subsequent struggle to leave. These mostly anonymous stories tell of specific events and set the context of those events. They are more of a snapshot of events and many of these chapters are fairly short.

I must admit that many of these stories were heart-wrenching and hard to read. There is some familiarity in their experiences. These women really thought they were helping other women. Some had qualms at the start, but put them away to provide what they thought of as a valuable service. I know a time or two I fleetingly thought “how could you justify what you were doing?”, and then I remember how familiar self-deception is to me. If you are not well acquainted with self-deception you haven’t looked very closely at yourself.

In many of these stories there is a pinnacle event that challenges the worker and makes them reexamine their assumptions. The stories of some of the women that came into the clinics are also are heart-wrenching. You see the tragedy examined through the eyes of the workers. You often wonder what the further stories of these women are and if they found healing later? You can see the same feeling in these workers whose intersection with these women who came in for abortion is very short.

I read this book over a month ago and yet I am still affected by the stories told. You also get a feeling for the callousness that develops for clinic staff and how abortion becomes a product to be pushed and sold for economic reasons. That often appearances were more important than the actual health of the women. That a medical emergency becomes bad publicity and steps are taken to hide it. This aspect is not present in all of the related stories, but it certainly appears in some of them. Especially chilling is the description of the POC (Products of Conception) technician whose job it is to count up parts to make sure there are no parts left in the patient.

There are also many reason that people will continue to work in such clinics even when they start having qualms. This is why Abby Johnson’s work with abortion workers is so important. They need encouragement and support to be able to leave and to heal from their experiences.

One of the things I love about being Catholic is that we really do believe in repentance and forgiveness. That our many sins can be forgiven by Jesus if we repent of them. That Dr. Bernard Nathanson an early abortionist and co-founder of NARAL, who presided over 75,000 abortions, could be welcome with open arms into the Church after his conversion. Abortion workers don’t need our contempt, but our prayers and real encouragement.

Thank God for Abby Johnson and the mission of And Then There Were None and I pray that we can hear more stories like those contained in this book.

Jun 012016
 

The Weekly Francis – Volume 142 – 1 June 2016

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from From 12 May 2016 to 1 June 2016.

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

Homilies

Messages

Regina Cæli

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Loving and forgiving are tangible and visible signs that faith has transformed our hearts.” @Pontifex 19 May 2016
  • “The firm commitment for human rights springs from an awareness of the unique and supreme value of each person.” @Pontifex 20 May 2016
  • “Each one of us can be a bridge of encounter between diverse cultures and religions, a way to rediscover our common humanity.” @Pontifex 21 May 2016
  • “The feast of the Most Holy Trinity renews our mission of living in communion with God and all people on the model of the divine communion.” @Pontifex 22 May 2016
  • “In a broken world, to communicate with mercy means to help create closeness between the children of God.” @Pontifex 23 May 2016
  • “God can fill our hearts with his love and help us continue our journey together towards the land of freedom and life.” @Pontifex 24 May 2016
  • “With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death. His son Jesus is the door of mercy wide open to all.” @Pontifex 25 May 2016
  • “Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist, offering himself as spiritual food that sustains our life.” @Pontifex 26 May 2016
  • “Mary is an icon of how the Church must offer forgiveness to those who seek it.” @Pontifex 27 May 2016
  • “Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey!” @Pontifex 28 May 2016
  • “By receiving the Eucharist we are nourished of the Body and Blood of Jesus, and by entering us, Jesus joins us to his Body!” @Pontifex 29 May 2016
  • “We are stewards, not masters of our earth. Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for the precious gift of God’s creation.” @Pontifex 30 May 2016
  • “I join spiritually all those taking part in special devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary on this last day of the month of May.” @Pontifex 31 May 2016
  • “When disciples of Christ are transparent in heart and sensitive in life, they bring the Lord’s light to the places where they live and work.” @Pontifex 1 June 2016

Papal Instagram

May 232016
 

What is called the 4-hymn sandwich seems to be the common format I run into for Mass. Although I am also finding that number increasing to six or seven hymns to make sure that not one second of silence is available. In the radio broadcasting medium dead air is to be prevented at all cost. So wall-to-wall hymns seem to have the same philosophy.

I was thinking about this at Mass this weekend as yet another hymn was started during Communion. I was hoping for some sacred silence after receiving Communion. Well I got my wish sort of. The hymn was called “Sacred Silence”, I found this rather hilarious that there is a hymn called “Sacred Silence”.

Sacred silence, Holy ocean
Gentle water, washing over me
Help me listen, Holy Spirit
Come and speak to me

How about instead of singing about “Sacred Silence” that we actually have some? Especially during Communion. Out of several parishes I attend there is only one where there is any understanding of sacred silence. I have been very impressed by this one young man who is the organist there. That he understands that he doesn’t have to fill every part of the Mass where music is allowed with music. That silences are allowed and can feed contemplation.

I especially notice the difference between Sunday Masses and Daily Mass where usually there is sacred silence and not just the rollout of hymn after hymn. I can appreciate Church musicians both for when they play, and when they purposely choose not to play. I am a both/and kind of guy and love both sacred music and sacred silences as they both nourish me. I love to sing, but post receiving Communion I want to concentrate on reflecting of this great gift.

Maybe one reason I crave sacred silence at Mass is that I fill my life up with noise. Most of the day I have headphones on listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks. Even in the shower I make sure I have Bluetooth speakers available. About the only part of my day when I am not listening to something is during the periods of prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary. So no doubt I need to nurture some sacred silence in my own life. Although I did keep the irony down by writing this blog post with no music in the background.

May 232016
 

thecatholicsun_2016-May-20

These Dominican nuns still rib the Cardinal about the time he mixed his zucchetto in their laundry.


Well actually these are Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries based in the Archdiocese of Cebu in the Philippines, along with Cardinal Ricardo Vidal.

You can read about them here along with the source of this photo.