When I was an atheist I had a very utilitarian view of things. For example I thought that all government buildings and interiors should be just purpose driven with no view to design. That the interiors should be focused on maintainability and not beauty or even government office idea of beauty. Living on multiple Aircraft Carriers I felt the practical aesthetic of gray bulkheads with visible wiring was how everything should be. It annoyed me that so much effort was wasted on waxing floors and such to make a pretty warship.
This was one of those things I think I believed without believing. I felt it was a natural outgrowth of my worldview and thus took precedence over my own thoughts. I thought I had to choose practicality over beauty with no intersection of the two.
It was only later did I realize that not only did I not believe this, but that in actuality I reviled this viewpoint. It’s amazing what you can teach yourself to believe without believing.
I was thinking about all of this as I was decorating my house for Christmas. I have spent a good amount of time decorating despite the fact that I am now the only recipient of the fruits of that work. When my wife was alive, I certainly took pleasure in decorating and seeing her reaction. Now I just luxuriate in the beauty of the decorations and any design put into them.
This is something more than just nostalgia regarding previous Christmases. As a kid I also loved to decorate and to be creative in making my own decorations. I loved to make custom ribbons and ornaments. I had not philosophical underpinnings regarding how these creative acts were part of something more. I just knew that there was some transcendental aspect to this even I would not have described it that way.
I still don’t have the words really to describe this. The pleasure I receive in decorating and then living among the fruits of it. This has only been amplified for me as the theological underpinnings regarding most of the decorations brings these symbols to life. As I dwell on the incarnation and the facts of our redemption. The Hallmark view of Christmas and family were just the fumes of Christmas I lived on for years. Now I know something deeper, but still find it easy to get lost in the sentimental. So I try to develop gratitude regarding the great mystery of the incarnation. To let the symbolic take me far as it can go and to enter into something deeper.
Still after seeing some reviews I was intrigued. So I made this one of my Audible picks this month.
While again I knew some of the basic outline regarding what we didn’t know about these men of indeterminate number, I didn’t realize how much we could know about them. In many ways this book is almost like a detective novel. Shifting the facts to see our way forward.
I liked just about everything regarding the presentation of this information. For one it is totally engaging and it takes a deep dive into the information we have from the Gospel of Matthew and uses the tools of history to give us a fuller context. I liked that he allows for multiple interpretations of the information. That while he lays a solid case for where these Magi came from, he is presenting a case and wants to know more himself. This book really lets you see the Magi in a new light and to have a much better historical context.
There was also some coverage regarding various theories regarding the Star of Bethlehem and it does a good job of covering in summary form some of these theories. The only weakness I found in this was a dependence of Herod the Great dying in 4 BC which has been commonly held. This dating is important in regards to various theories based on astronomy. Jimmy Akin has a good article regarding this dating which puts he death a couple years later.
Over the last several days there has been a certain level of media coverage alleging that the Pope is ordering a specific change in translation of the Our Father.
I find it interesting that even though I realize just how bad media coverage regarding the Pope from secular and even Catholic sources is how easy it is to respond to a headline. My first thought was “Wait didn’t he recently give local bishops more responsibility regarding translations (“Magnum Principium”
) and here he is suggesting his own”. Like most hot takes my first thought was wrong.
As Jimmy Akin explains today No, Pope Francis Is Not Changing the Lord’s Prayer. Beyond showing how this false story got advanced, I also enjoyed his approach in looking at the translation and what it would mean if it was changed. As usual his balanced approach brings out some interesting points.
Msgr. Charles Pope recently wrote Why I Oppose Changing the English Translation of the Our Father where he acknowledges that reports regarding this are incorrect. I basically agree with the subtitle of his article “we should teach, explain and root ourselves more deeply in it.” Still I think Jimmy Akin answers some of his points better.
There are no perfect translations and there will always be some ambiguity and confusion. There are well known translations that often get asked about on Catholic radio such as the line “he descended into hell.” in the Nicene Creed. It would probably be better to translate this using the Hebrew word sheol for the place of the dead. But that wouldn’t end the confusion regarding this. It is not really negative that we have to ask questions about what we don’t understand or that we have to study more to understand something.
A new activist group has appeared and starting to protest across the country known as Antifa-la-la. This movement is a conglomeration of autonomous, self-styled, anti-divinity denying groups.
This activist group protests the rising number of people who deny the divinity of Christ from Jehovah Witnesses to the Nones. While protesting they dress anonymously as St. Nick. They choose St. Nicholas the Bishop of Myra during the time of the Council of Nicea. Members have been known to pass along the meme “Punch a Heretic”, an allusion to St. Nicholas punching Arius at the Council of Nicea. While this story is a total myth, they use it to justify violent confrontations with anti-divinity elements.
The name Antifa-la-la was taken as a reaction to the secularization of Christmas and the “Reason for the Season”. John Kook, a member of the Portland Antifa-la-la, said “We will come at you with solid apologetics or a fist. Listen to the trilemma or we will put you in a coma.”
When a patient is suffering a life-threatening condition and is rushed to the hospital, doctors are supposed to do everything in their power to save a life. That’s how it works most of the time anyway, but when an unconscious elderly man showed up in the emergency room with “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed across his chest, medical staff were left struggling to decide what to do.
The case, which is detailed in a recent installment of the New England Journal of Medicine, centers around an unresponsive diabetic patient who arrived at a Florida hospital with an elevated blood-alcohol level. University of Miami doctors began working to save his life immediately, but were taken aback by the words they saw written below the man’s collarbone.
In many states, including Florida, any individual of sound mind can choose to meet their maker and forego medical treatment in the event of a life-threatening accident, illness, or ailment. Individuals choose that route for a variety of reasons, including religious beliefs, the desire to avoid being dependent on machine-aided life support, and even due to the potential burden of surviving the ordeal and being left with a mountain of medical debt. Unfortunately, a tattoo isn’t exactly a legal document, and doctors were left with an ethical conundrum.
Was the tattoo just a joke? Or perhaps a decision he had made in his youth which he had since changed his mind about? The staff had no way of knowing, and the unresponsive patient obviously couldn’t clear things up for them. At least one prior case of a “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo, the man’s life was saved when the doctors ignored the message, and the patient later explained that the tattoo was merely a joke that he didn’t think anyone would take seriously.
This got me thinking about what I would want as a tattoo that provided doctors information about treatment. Especially as I had a bit of a scare recently when a dog ran out in front of my bicycle and I was thrown head first. Lost consciousness and somehow managed walking my bike home with no memory of this. Spent less than a day in the hospital, and although being rather banged up with some internal bleeding initially, I am fine now.
My inclination would not be for “Do Not Resuscitate”, but more of a worry towards being denied proper care. In this age it seems to me that we need to worry more about lack of proper care as the whole Terri Shiavo episode is indelibly etched in my memory. So if I was going to get a tattoo it would be along the lines of not denying me food an water.
Something along this line.
Sure there are distinctions to be made concerning ordinary and extraordinary care. Still getting a tattoo is unlikely for me. After all I have been to Hong Kong four times in various states of inebriation without getting a tattoo, so I am pretty sure I am immune.