Tuesday, December 31, 2002

CNN reports Court rejects 'Choose Life' plates. What does Planned Parenthood want in the way of an equivalent forum? Plates that say "Planned Barrenhood"?
Okay, this one cracks me up: If LotR Had Been Written By Someone Else!? My favorite:

The Lord of the Rings
or The Land of Middle-earth
by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

SCENE. -- Front yard of Bag End in Hobbiton, the Shire. Various hobbits discovered standing and sitting in various attitudes suggested by Rankin-Bass films and trippy illustrations from the 1970s.


If you want to know who we are,
We are gentlemen of the Shire;
In many an inn and bar,
By many an alehouse fire,
We dine on six meals a day;
Our attitude's bright and gay;
But we don't mean it that way, oh!
If you think we are cutesy-poo,
Like an Ewok or Jar-Jar Binks,
You don't know what we do:
When we don't smokes, we drinks!
Our dwelling is Hobbiton;
We only stand three foot one;
We use evil rings for fun, oh, oh!
We use evil rings for fun!
If you want to know who we are,
We are gentlemen of the Shire;
In inn and bar, by alehouse fire;
In many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many a bar, oh, oh, oh, oh!
In inn and bar, by alehouse fire!

Enter Gandalf in great excitement. He carries a pack of fireworks on his back and a staff in his hand.


Gentlemen, I pray you tell me
Where a gentle hobbit dwelleth, named Frodo,
The ward of Bilbo?
In pity speak, oh speak, I pray you!

TED SANDYMAN. Why, who are you who ask this question?
GANDALF. Come gather round me, and I'll tell you!


A wand'ring wizard I,
A thing of spells and magic,
Of stories dark and tragic,
Of counsel I'll prophesy...

Thanks to Mark Shea for the link.
The Arizona Daily Star has a special section on 2002 in Review. It's been an interesting year. I rated the top six stories as:

  1. UA Shootings
  2. State budget crisis
  3. Priest sex scandal
  4. Arizona wildfires
  5. Election
  6. Immigration

How do you rate them? Also along these lines, check out Scientific American's top 25 science stories of 2002.
Someone told me about this last night --Diana Ross arrested for alleged drunken driving. This happened right here in beautiful Tucson. I guess I'm a little surprised she was driving herself -- doesn't she have people to do this for her? Kudos to TPD for nailing her though!
David Frum writes on the real problem with cloning:

I’m not an ardent pro-lifer myself. I cannot bring myself to blame a woman who ends an unwanted pregnancy in its first 8 or 10 weeks. But there is a big difference between accepting abortion as a sad outcome to a personal problem and accepting the extinction of millions of early human lives as a legitimate element of medical research and development.

Thanks to Catholic Light for the link.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Okay, this is just wacky AND scary. The head of the Raelian sect speaks out: Sect leader: Cloning is just the beginning. Here's another article.

... the Bible explains that you don't have the word "God" in the Bible, but "Elohim." In Hebrew, it's not written "God;" it's written "Elohim." That was wrongly translated by the wrong God. ... There is no God in the Bible -- Elohim. These people from space came to Earth, created life, created human beings, very much like the Bible explained. So this is not some funny alien people coming from Mars; it was the Elohim of the Bible who created us in a laboratory.
An interesting article on Slate on how Cash Is King - Why you can't buy tech companies with stock anymore. I'm beginning to think my former employer NewMonics is now a zombie company. They've probably got enough income to stick around a while, but not enough to really do much. It's too bad.
Weekend activities:

  • Went to Chicago Bar Friday night, heard the Bad New Blues Band. They are awesome! It was a lot of fun. Asked a girl to dance, she turned me down but was nice about it. She also turned down another guy so it's not just me :-).
  • Saturday, went up to Phx. to drop off presents for my lovel nieces Chelsea and Cori, and my nephew Geoff. Then we all went to lunch with my brother. After that, hung out with my friend Tiffany for a bit, then hit Fry's Electronics and In-N-Out Burger for dinner, then home.
  • Saturday night, went dancing with a bunch o' friends at The New Keys. Was a lot of fun, place was jam-packed -- definitely not for the claustrophobic!
  • Sunday, went to Mass at 1 p.m. Celebrant was Fr. Sylvester, our Nigerian priest. As always, his homily was terrific -- very thoughtful. He talked about the Holy Family and family life in general. I'm sure some were annoyed at his very traditional approach, but I think he's right on. He's a blessing.
  • Sunday night I had dinner with Rob and Maria Lorentzen and their beautiful daughters Kristen and Bethany.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Another interesting new blog. Czech it out.
It's here, sooner than anyone thought (assuming this is not a hoax) -- Group claims first cloned human born. This is very, very disturbing.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

My Christmas present from the City of Tucson arrived today -- my blue recycling barrel. This is part of an ongoing conversion of the city's waste management system. Prior to this we've had free (yes, you heard right, free) trash pickup twice a week, and recycling pickup every two weeks. In an effort to cut costs and boost the recycling rate, the city is moving to weekly pickup of both trash and recycling (still free).

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Music for 9 a.m. Mass
Gordon Zaft, cantor
Nativity of the Lord

Gathering Song: O Come All Ye Faithful
Penitential Rite: Recited
Gloria: Christmas Gloria (Gibson, OCP)
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98: All The Ends of the Earth (Haugen, OCP)
Gospel Acclamation: Advent/Christmas Gospel Acclamation vs. 5
Preparation of the Gifts: Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Holy,Holy: Mass of Creation
Memorial Acclamation: Mass of Creation
Great Amen: Mass of Creation
Our Father: Yantis
Lamb of God: Mass of Creation ("Prince of Peace", "Word Made Flesh", "Lamb of God")
Communion: The First Noël
Recessional: Joy To The World

9 a.m. Mass was fairly sparsely attended, I'd say the church was only 20 - 25% full. My voice was definitely feeling the effects of too much singing, though, as I had trouble with anything above a B. Sheesh. I spotted one of our former RCIAers in the congregation along with her husband, who's an A-10 pilot. He just got back a few days ago after being deployed for 4 months. Please remember to pray for all our servicemen and women.

Music for 10 p.m. Mass
SSPP Latin Schola
Nativity of the Lord

Carols before Mass
Veni, Veni Emmanuel / O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Of the Father's Love Begotten
Ave Maria (Victoria)
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Dixit Maria (Hasler)
What Child Is This
Silent Night/Night of Silence
Joy To the World (Mason/Handel)
Cantique de Noël (O Holy Night)


Gathering Song: Adeste Fideles
Incense: O Magnum Mysterium (Victoria)
Penitential Rite: Recited
Gloria: (Chant Mass)
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96: Today Is Born Our Savior (Inwood, OCP)
Gospel Acclamation: Today Is Born Our Savior Gospel Acclamation (Inwood, OCP)
Preparation of the Gifts: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Holy,Holy: Sanctus (Chant Mass)
Memorial Acclamation: (Chant Mass)
Great Amen: (Chant Mass)
Our Father: Traditional Chant (English)
Lamb of God: Agnus Dei (Chant Mass)
Communion: Silent Night
Noël, Noël, Noël (Mouton)
Recessional: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

10 p.m. Mass was very nice indeed. The church was mostly full.

Merry Christmas!

Music for 7 p.m. Mass
SSPP Traditional Choir + Volunteers
Nativity of the Lord

Carols before Mass
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Choir Anthem: O Holy Mary (Alstott)
Choir Anthem: The Inn at Bethlehem (Tyrolian Folk Song)
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Silent Night
Choir Anthem: Resonet in Laudibus (German Carol Melody)
The First Noel
Angels We Have Heard On High
Choir Anthem: While By My Sheep (17th c. carol from Lorraine)
Choir Anthem: Joy To The World ((Mason/Handel)


Gathering Song: O Come All Ye Faithful (Latin verse after blessing of the crib)
Penitential Rite: Recited
Gloria: Christmas Gloria (Gibson, OCP)
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96: Today Is Born Our Savior (Inwood, OCP)
Gospel Acclamation: Today Is Born Our Savior Gospel Acclamation (Inwood, OCP)
Preparation of the Gifts: Choir Anthem: O Holy Night (with "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring") (arr. Keith Christopher)
Holy,Holy: Mass of Creation
Memorial Acclamation: Mass of Creation
Great Amen: Mass of Creation
Our Father: Yantis
Lamb of God: Mass of Creation ("Prince of Peace", "Hope For All", "Lamb of God")
Communion: Piano Solo
What Child Is This
Recessional: Joy To The World

The 7 p.m. Mass was very nice. I really, really like the Inwood Psalm 96, it's very joyful and has a nice melody. I'll put in the 10 p.m. Mass later; I need to get to bed since I have to cantor the 9 a.m. Mass!

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Wow! It's been very cold and rainy the last few days, but today it is bright and sunny, temperature in the high 50s, and there is snow on the mountains.... it is so beautiful!

I've not accomplished much so far today, just wrapping presents and writing cards. I did foray out to JC Penney to buy a new jacket since I lost my nice blue Members Only jacket about a week and a half ago. It always bugs me to lose things, it's so stupid. That jacket was a present from my ex-gf Therese so it had some sentimental value to it, too. Oh well... I found a nice jacket at JCP, it's $40 minus a 40% discount, plus I had a $10 off coupon so I got it for $14 plus tax! Woo hoo! It's black, it's a Towncraft. Not as nice as the other one, but quite nice still.

Monday, December 23, 2002

This cracks me up! Lane Core posts Secret Agent Man's imaginary conversation.
The liturgical wars continue -- Liturgical changes shake up Catholic churches. Of course, kneeling at the consecration has been "the rule" since Vatican II. Either the bishop of the diocese in question (Richmond) explictly gave people permission to stand, or, more likely, the parishes in question were disobeying the rules. So now that the rules are being reiterated some people think they are new! I love this quote:

But the Rev. Thomas Quinlan, the priest at Church of the Holy Family in Virginia Beach, denounced the new guidelines.

``If I kneel down, am I holier and closer to Jesus? Get real!'' Quinlan said the changes would undermine an important principle of Vatican II -- encouraging the active participation of lay people in worship.

What hubris! Evidently Fr. Quinlan thinks it's okay to disparage guidelines that were established by the US bishops in 1970. I really fail to understand how kneeling discourages active participation.
I saw Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on Friday. I thought it was really good, but I was a little disappointed in some of the liberties that were taken with the story. There seemed to be a lot more of them than in the first movie -- that is, in the first movie, there was a fair amount of material that was deleted, but little was outright changed/made up. There was a lot more in this movie, and most of the changes didn't seem to me to be improvements or to make a lot of sense from the point of view of the story. Still, it's most definitely worth seeing, probably several times.
My friend Maria and her family arrived today from Dallas and they came over to say Hi briefly. As we were chatting we were listening to a recording of Messiah. During one of the arias, Maria suddenly exclaims, "That's not right! There's no Bflat in that passage!" So of course we had to dig out the music and listen to the passage on the CD again. Of course she was right. It's cool to have friends like that.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

I attended the Arizona Repertory Singers Christmas Concert today. They are a group of about 35 singers, in their 19th season. Here's what the program looked like:

The First Nowell
O Nata Lux - Lux Aeterna

Carols of the Nativity
- It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
- Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
- Angels We Have Heard

There Is No Rose of Such Virtue

A Christmas Carol
The Ship Carol

The Blessed Son of God - Hodie
Angel Alleluias

arr. Stephen Paulus
Morten Lauridsen

Richard Hynson
Michael Larkin

Norman dello Joio
Stephen Paulus
Stephen Paulus

Ralph Vaughan Williams
Alan Bullard


Chanson Joyeuse de Noél
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head
Deck the Hall
Winds Through the Olive Trees
Jamaican Noel

O Magnum Mysterium
Out of the Orient Crystal Skies
Carol of the Bells

Jingle Bells

Francois Auguste Gevaert
Eleanor Daley
arr. Stephen Paulus

arr. Halley
arr. John Rutter
Robert Wetzler
Kirby Shaw

Morten Lauridsen
arr. Richard Zgodava
Leontovich/arr. Wilhousky
John Leavitt

arr. Harry Simeone

All in all it was an okay concert. Some parts were pretty nice, but others seemed to lack heart. The choir sings pretty well but I'm not to sure about the choice of music -- I'd have preferred weightier stuff.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

I have been working on my Christmas cards tonight. As I've gotten older my list has gotten pretty amazingly long. Of course there's my family, including aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. There's also a long list of friends from college and even high school. There are several clergy on the list. One of them is Fr. Tom DeMan, a Dominican who was chaplain at the University of Arizona Newman Center when I was an undergraduate. Hard to believe Fr. Tom has been a Dominican for more than 40 years! In writing his card I decided to write a brief note. I post it here in hopes that it will encourage others to find ways to thank the priests in their lives this Christmas.

Dear Fr. Tom,

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for your great letter, and congratulations (is that the right word?) on your "retirement".

I wanted to say "thanks" though that seems very inadequate for the gratitude I feel.

I have not always agreed with you, either when I was at UA or since then -- but I've always respected and admired you. In the 4.5 years I spent with you at Arizona I learned to think about my faith -- that it was okay to question because there were answers. I experienced God working in and through you in very direct ways. And of course I'll never forget how you were there for me when my mother passed away.

Thank you for being open to God, to being willing to serve Him when so many choose not to.
We spent some time in rehearsal this morning working on O Holy Night. We have a soloist who will be singing the first verse in French and then we'll continue in English. I'd never seen the French words before.

Minuit, chrétiens,
C'est l'heure solennelle
Où l'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'à nous
Pour effacer la tache originelle
Et de son père arrêter le courroux.
Le mode entier tressaille d'espérance
En cette nuit qui lui donne un sauveur.
Peuple à genoux,
Attends ta délivrance!
Noël! Noël!
Voici le Rédempteur!
Noël! Noël!
Voici le Rédempteur!

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

All I can say is, where the heck did the English translation come from? It's nice poetry, sure, but theologically it's incredibly watered down. The original speaks of the God-Man coming to remove the blot of original sin. I always thought it a bit much to claim the night itself was divine. "night divine" and "holy night" don't appear in the French text at all, and there's no reference to the angels or their voices, either.
Here's the text of President Bush's Christmas address.

For over two millennia, Christmas has carried the message that God is with us, and because he is with us we can always live in hope. The world we live in is very different from the world of ancient Bethlehem. Our need for that hope is still unchanged. In all the challenges and dangers of our day, we still seek the promise of peace on Earth.

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, please pray for our President, our Congress, and all our leaders.
I got my Christmas tree today, a 6.5 foot Douglas fir, from the tree lot run by the world-famous Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus. I love Christmas trees and I've never understood the desire of people to have a fake one. A real one smells so good and just makes the room complete. Growing up we never put our Christmas tree up too early and we usually kept it until New Years Day. I've kept that tradition. So I'll put it up tonight and probably put lights on it, then tomorrow and Monday more decorations.

Friday, December 20, 2002

In case you think academics don't care about what's really important -- a study suggests Playboy models losing hourglass figures. Anyone else think the researchers really suffered to do this study? Seriously, though, it's not clear to me whether these changes represent some amount of models looking more like real people or not.

In 2000, a British Medical Association report found that in 1950 the average woman weighed about eight-and-a-half stone and had a 24-inch waist. Now, she is more than 10 stone, with a 32-inch waist. (N.B. 1 stone = 14 pounds)

Sounds about right to me; the huge proportion of people in the developed world who are overweight would seem to explain this pretty readily.
Although others have blogged this already, I thought I'd mention Archbishop Myers of Newark's Pastoral Letter - A Theological Reflection on the Human Body. It's a really good summary and statement of John Paul II's theology of the body.

A man and woman ought to experience sexual intercourse as a mutual giving and receiving in open self-surrender to each other; it is a kind of communication—the language of the body—a sign of sincere giving of self and sincere acceptance of the other's gift, and of their mutual opening up to God's gift of life. This kind of giving and receiving without reserve requires the foundation of stable, permanent love.

Thus, considered as communication, intercourse outside marriage and contraceptive intercourse both are lies told with bodies; the two parties do not truly give and receive openly and unconditionally but only use each other for pleasure. They do not say with their bodies, and from their hearts, what they speak with their lips. Indeed, all sexual sins are at their heart sins of dishonesty.
Good news -- scientists at Cedars-Sinai report success using stem cells from a person's own bone marrow. If this type of treatment is successful it would be a true blessing from God -- allowing all kinds of wonderful treatments without requiring the death of an unborn child.
Woo hoo! CNN reports

Mother Teresa to be beatified.

Apparently the first miracle is a young Indian Hindu woman who was spontaneously healed from a stomach tumor. The beatification will be October 19th of 2003.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

More good news! I weighed myself today, and I've lost 2 lbs. since 12/9. I'm at 223 now. My midterm goal is 200 lbs, I'm thinking I might make that by summer. My ultimate goal is 180 lbs. but that could be pretty difficult; it's what I weighed in college more or less. On the other hand my coworker Jacquie and I have agreed to up our daily walk from twice around the building complex to three times starting 1/2, so that will help a little.

Update: Also, when I got home tonight the results of my latest blood work were back -- my cholesterol is down to 196 (HDL 37, LDL 116), and my trigylcerides have declined substantially, to 211. Way to go Gordon! (pats self on back)
Christmas caroling in the land of geeks would be something like this.
Over on Catholic Light, Richard Chonak blogs on a rumor that Cardinal George will go to Boston. I don't think that will happen. You read it here first, my guess is that Archbishop Justin Rigali of St. Louis will go to Boston. What do I win?

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Tonight I went Christmas caroling with friends in Winterhaven. Winterhaven is a neighborhood in Tucson that was built in the 1950s and has always been known for its spectacular Christmas displays; it's a Tucson tradition. We were there from 6:30 to 8:30 or so. It was cold out by Tucson standards -- we should have a hard freeze tonight which happens probably less than 15 nights a year. This is the third year I've organized caroling. We had kind of a small turnout this year, just five of us -- myself, Peter from Collegium Musicum, Kieran and her husband Ernie (also from Collegium) and Amber Lee. So we had two basses, one tenor, one alto and a soprano; they were all strong voices and good readers so we were able to do a couple of more challenging things (Carol of the Bells, Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium). We also read through Deck the Halls in 7/8 but it's not ready for prime time yet :-). It was a fun evening and our music was appreciated.
Communal Penance Service
December 18, 2002

Gathering Song: Remember Your Love (OCP #682)
Psalm: Create In Me (Psalm 51) (OCP #766)
Gospel Acclamation: Advent Alleluia (OCP)

Fr. John was mistaken, we did not have the bishops. We did have Bishop Francis Quinn, retired bishop of Sacramento, who resides in the Tucson area much of the year. While I was there I got snookered into cantoring for 11 a.m. Mass on the feast of Mary, Mother of God. Actually, of course, I'm happy to do it -- have to go to Mass anyway, might as well do my bit!
There's been a lot of discussion at St. Blog's about this article by Pat Buchanan. Some think that Buchanan is off the deep end, and others think he's right on. I have to admit that while I've seen the figures he quotes before, to see them all together is pretty discouraging. Still, it's hard to prove that these things are necessarily the result of Vatican II. As has been blogged by me and others (see especially Jeanetta's blog) these problems are most likely the result of the hijacking of American catechesis programs and seminaries, and were not caused by the actual teachings of Vatican II.
More cool stuff! Pioneer 10 contacts Earth. Pioneer 10 was launched in 1972 and is now 82 AU from the Sun. Now that's engineering! Check out the Pioneer project home page.
CNN reviews the new Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and calls it a seamless triumph. I'm seeing it Friday night. I'm really jazzed about it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Apparently it's now open season on priests. CNN reports Jury clears man who shot priest he accused of abuse. This seems like a gross miscarriage of justice to me. I can perhaps see them acquitting him of attempted murder, but to not even find him guilty of the assault charge is going too far. The priest in question has not, to my knowledge, been convicted of anything at all.

Monday, December 16, 2002

I finally got to see "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" tonight. I thought it was terrific! I can see why it's been such a popular movie. I really enjoyed the family and it was nice to see a modern movie that seems to say, yes, family can be wacky and disfunctional at times but mostly they are full of people who we love and who love us, in spite of everything. I know not everyone's family is like that, sadly. I saw a lot of my family in the movie, though.
A quote for today:

"Extraordinary"? Doesn't that just mean more ordinary?
As expected, Vatican OKs revised sex-abuse policy.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Collegium Musicum Concert
John T. Brobeck, Director
Wayne Glass, Assistant Director

December 15, 2002
4:30 p.m.
Northminster Presbyterian Church, Tucson, Arizona


Hymn: Puer nobis nascitur

Anon. (15th c.)


Hodie Christus Natus Est
Cantate Domino
Riu, riu, chiu

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562 - 1621)
Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
Anon. (16th c.)
     Soloists: Christopher R. Basaldú, Ted Conner, Wayne Glass, Matthew Johnson, Greg Lenaburg, Bill Wolfe, Gordon Zaft


Or nous dites Marie (instrumental)
Noé, noé

Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)
Guillaume Bouzignac (c.1592-c.1641)


Traditional carols:
A Virgin Most Pure
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming (instr.)
The Boar's Head Carol
     Mariana Alvarado & Ted Conner, soloists


Secondi toni melodia (instr.)
God's Little Son is Born
     Amber Lee Harrington, soloist

Thomas Stoltzer (c.1475-1526)
Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)


Maria durch ein' Dornwald ging
     Erin Hagedon, soloist
O Jesulein süss
A solis ortus cardine
      Eric Holtan & Matthew Johnson, soloists
Conditor alme siderum

(17th c. folktune)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

T. Stoltzer


Traditional carols:
God Rest You Merry Gentlemen
     Jennifer Bonds & Gordon Zaft, soloists
Coventry Carol
Gloucestershire Wassail
     Matthew Johnson & Amanda Waalk, soloists


Quem pastores laudavere (instr.)
Voici la noël

Anon. (15th c.)
Anon. (16th c.)


Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen
Joseph lieber, Joseph mein
In dulci jubilo (instr.)
Herr, ich warte auf dein Heil
In dulci jubilo

M. Praetorius
Johann Walther (1496-1570)
M. Praetorius
Johann Michael Bach (1648-94)
M. Praetorius

So I got two small solos. In addition I sang the chant for Conditor Alme Siderum before the choir sang the 4-part arrangement. That's the most solos I've ever had in one concert. It was a pretty good concert, very well received. It ran about an hour and 25 minutes and the church was mostly full, which was gratifying.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

No Pressure. I am cantoring for our communal penance service next Wednesday 12/18. I found out at Mass tonight that both of our bishops will be in attendance.
Today, Dec. 14, 2002, marks the 30th anniversary of man's departure from the surface of the moon. Are we ever going back? It weirds me out to think of the youngsters (and not-so-youngsters) who never watched men walk on the moon. Slashdot has a good discussion here.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Well, the big news is the Pope accepts Law's resignation. Check out Cardinal Law's resignation statement.

To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness.

While many have called for this for a long time, I take no pleasure in a prince of the Church being driven from office. It's probably for the best, but can you imagine having to be the next bishop of Boston? Who would want it?
Apologies for not blogging yesterday, I was feeling a little under the weather and stayed home from work. I'm feeling much better today.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

This is cool! The University of Arizona(tm) webpage has a link to a press release on the upcoming Collegium Musicum concert. It's nice to see some attention for our group!
Brave New World is rapidly approaching. See Stanford to develop embryonic stem cells for research, also read it from the horse's mouth. Here's their statement:


Stanford University Medical Center is not engaged in human reproductive cloning. A story published Dec. 10 by the Associated Press incorrectly characterized the nature of research that would take place at the newly announced Institute for Cancer/Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Creating human stem cell lines is not equivalent to reproductive cloning. The first step in the process of creating a stem cell line involves transferring the nucleus from a cell to an egg and allowing the egg to divide. This is the same first step as in reproductive cloning. However in creating a stem cell line, cells are removed from the developing cluster. These cells can go on to form many types of tissues, but cannot on their own develop into a human. Future research in this field, which will also be pursued at Stanford, will attempt to produce stem cell lines by transferring the nucleus into other embryonic stem cells rather than into eggs.

Note that this is not cloning, it's nuclear transfer in existing stem cell lines. I do find it troubling that Stanford is doing this. Still, it's not "Stanford is cloning" like some people say.

Update: This article claims that SCNT involves a form of cloning:

''Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) or therapeutic cloning involves removing the nucleus of an unfertilized egg cell, replacing it with the material from the nucleus of a `somatic cell' (a skin, heart, or nerve cell, for example), and stimulating this cell to begin dividing.''

Slashdot reports/discusses IBM is retiring OS/2. It's too bad. I really liked OS/2. Back in 1994 we spent a lot of time at Artisoft (now, really SpartaCom) working on LANtastic for OS/2. We really enjoyed working on OS/2, it beat the heck out of DOS and Windows. Actually, it was superior to Windows 95 in a lot of ways too. RIP, OS/2.
I woke up this morning a little early because I'd been struck by the Muse. Here's what she sent me. Feedback is welcome as it's a rough draft.

The Heart... And Lower Down

What is love, and what is lust?
Green as springtime, dry as dust.
Hope that blossoms in the mist,
Ruby lips yearning to be kissed.

The labyrinth of the human heart
No mortal man can navigate
Yet in the balance lies his life,
His Love, his soul's eternal fate.

Wisdom comes with age, they say
And freedom from the stress
Of Lust's eternal siren call
Which did the heart oppress.

The future lies in shadow,
God's light does not yet shine
I'll keep the faith and carry on
And guard this heart of mine.

[12/11/02 7:30 a.m.]

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

This is exciting -- planning continues for 2 new Catholic high schools in Tucson. It's very encouraging to see that progress is being made in spite of the Diocese's financial problems.
Okay, this will be a long post, bear with me. Over at Catholic Light, discussion continues on the topic I blogged about yesterday.

In the comments box on Catholic Light I commented:

I blogged about this and also responded to Jeff Miller via email, but to add further to what I said -- I agree with Brian and Bill.

Jeff's post of 1 Cor. (I thought he might be thinking of those verses but wanted to be sure) doesn't apply. It nowhere says that we should be preventing *others* from receiving unworthily, but that it is a personal responsibility. As others have said, we cannot judge the state of her soul. Those who know me know I am hardly a "squishy" Catholic, but to tell her she "should not" receive is over the line. To encourage her to go to Confession first is not. The difference is that we cannot judge whether she can receive worthily, that is up to her and her conscience. Any priest will tell you that refusing communion to someone is almost never done -- the assumption is that if the person presents himself for communion he has judged himself to be worthy to receive. Offhand the only cases I can think of where a priest might refuse communion would be someone known not to be Catholic (e.g. Bill Clinton!) or a notorious sinner (e.g. someone known to be shacking up) and even then, frankly, most priests I know would probably not refuse them but would talk to them afterward.

Eric, I'm sorry, but you are just plain wrong. You have good intentions (indeed, a few years ago I would probably have said the same thing) but you are misunderstanding mortal sin. You can't unknowingly commit a mortal sin -- it doesn't work that way. Furthermore, it's quite possible (judging by her tears) that this woman has performed the equivalent of a perfect act of contrition, in which case she would be able to receive.

One of the things I've learned (through Opus Dei mostly) is that we really need to be ready and willing to find the best interpretation/excuse for others' behavior unless we have positive proof to the contrary. In this case we might think we do, but we really don't.

Sal, keep on praying and talking.

To which Eric Johnson responded:

Gordon, I'm a little surprised that you would say I am "just plain wrong." I can assure you I know what a mortal sin is. Here's what the bishops say:

"...In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession...."


You may now e-mail the bishops and tell them they're wrong to discourage Catholics -- with no provision for fallen-away Catholics -- from receiving without confession.

Another point is that few of us really know ourselves enough to say that we have given our full consent to a given action, and so if we commit an action that is objectively grave matter, we should confess first.

We seem to be playing a game of "more pastoral than thou" here, and it's getting tiresome. Let me say for the third time:

I AM NOT SAYING THAT THE FUGITIVE IS IN A STATE OF MORTAL SIN. I am not judging her soul. I am simply saying that rejecting Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is objectively a grave sin, and that it is prudent not to receive under such circumstances. This is not a novel concept.

  1. I have no disagreement with the bishops' statement at all. Bishops have a responsibility to teach. Neither you or I is a bishop. Furthermore, I sincerely doubt any bishop would have refused this woman communion. Do you disagree?
  2. I was not claiming that you do not know what a mortal sin is. The point is that to tell someone who is a baptized Catholic that she may not receive Communion is to judge her soul, despite your claims to the contrary. I tell people all the time not to receive Communion, but it is because they are in the RCIA and they are not Catholic. If I were a parent and I had a young child I might feel the need to tell him that, or at least to inquire. Other than that it's off limits.
  3. I don't in the slightest dispute that we should, as a matter of prudence, go to confession before receiving Communion when we have committed a sin that is grave matter, even if we're not sure of our motivations (i.e. our conscience is not clear on whether we have mortally sinned). Indeed, this is my practice myself. We can't tell others they must make the same prudential judgment however.
  4. The question is what should someone do in these circumstances? My point, and the point that others have made, is that it is not our place to have told this woman she should not receive Communion. In doing so we ARE judging her soul.
  5. Again, a distinction I tried to make is that a lot depends on how we put these things. It's perfectly appropriate, IMHO, to encourage or inform -- e.g. "you may want to go to Confession first, here's a good priest I know" (this was the substance of my earlier blog on the subject). It is not okay to position ourselves as the arbiters of who is worthy or able to receive the sacraments or not, generally speaking, unless that is specifically part of our task (as in the RCIA example above, or a confessor).

I've enjoyed this discussion as it has caused me to reflect a bit about this sort of situation, which certainly does come up from time to time.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Whew.... we had our final regular rehearsal for Collegium Musicum. Our concert is this Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Northminster Presbyterian Church here in Tucson. It's free. This was a really long rehearsal. The regular rehearsal is supposed to go from 6:30 to 8:30 but it went 'til 9:30 or so, then we rehearsed our small group stuff for about a half hour, then one of the small groups I'm in rehearsed for another 10 minutes or so. I'm wiped out, that's almost 3 hrs 45 minutes of rehearsal. Plus our small group agreed to an extra rehearsal Thursday at 4:30 which is really inconvenient, but we need the extra time, so oh well...
Okay, this is amusing. Over on Slashdot, the latest geek poll is the most deadly sin. For those not remembering, they are:

  • Pride
  • Envy
  • Gluttony
  • Lust
  • Anger
  • Greed
  • Sloth

Of course, this being Slashdot, the last option in the poll is:

  • How I feel about the Cowboy Neal Poll Option

It's interesting to see how the geeks discuss sin. Of course, many of them dismiss the whole idea of sin. Others of them clearly don't understand what all the big words mean. In the midst, though, there are a few insights here and there.
New blog! Check out De Fidei Oboedientia. He writes:

And so it begins. I once had an online diary, but even then I thought that was cheezy. I had told myself I'd never have a live journal or blog, but it would appear that I have finally caved. I'm a dork. I accept it. "Yeah, but when I do it, it's ironic!" (inside joke)

Anyone who's willing to call himself a dork in public gets my vote. Welcome to St. Blog's!
Sal Revilla over at Catholic Light blogs about a woman whom he turned off to the Church. Well, sort of -- you need to read the link and also this link. Anyway, at the risk of being presumptuous, here's what I would say/write to her at this point.

Dear Fugitive,
I'm really sorry for the way I spoke to you at lunchtime when we were heading to Mass. It was not my intent to judge you or the state of your soul -- that's not something I can or should do. I was very happy that you were interested in going to Mass and I wanted to make sure that you were well-prepared to receive the Eucharist, our most precious treasure. As you know we need to be in the state of grace (not conscious of mortal sin) in order to receive communion, and I assumed you would need and want to go to confession beforehand. If you are interested in going to confession, I can recommend Fr. So-and-so, at St. Whatsit; he is very kind and gentle and nothing you can say will shock him. I've gone to him and he is a good confessor -- I always feel so much better after I go!

Anyway, I'm sorry for having offended you, or if I brought up bad feelings with my thoughtlessness. I hope you won't let my actions get in the way of your relationship with God.


For whatever it's worth.
Psychologists once again are making news by discovering the obvious -- Psychologists now know what makes people happy (thanks to the Lady of Shalott for the link). Of course the results are not earth-shattering:

The happiest people spend the least time alone. They pursue personal growth and intimacy; they judge themselves by their own yardsticks, never against what others do or have.

Isn't this what we've been taught all our lives? For myself, I've been thinking a lot lately about where I'm at in life. I've been making a lot of improvements in myself -- finishing school, learning to rollerblade, losing weight and eating more sensibly, and a number of other things. I honestly think I'm a much better person in many ways than I was 4 years ago. That's why it's so saddening to me that I am alone. Yes, I have my family, and some friends that mean the world to me, but still I have no one to share my life with, who loves me and cares about me and wants to be with me -- just when I think I am more lovable than ever! I try not to dwell on it but sometimes it gets me down.
Anthropologist Thomas Murphy faces excommunication by the Mormon Church for publishing research that seems to disprove some claims of Mormon theology.

"There's a group of Mormon scholars, which includes me, that believe that the scientific and historical evidence against the historical claims in the Book of Mormon is so overwhelming that it's time to openly discuss the possibility of viewing the Book of Mormon as fiction, but inspired fiction," Murphy said.

Update: The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the tribunal has been postponed indefinitely.
This is really cool. Michelle Kwan posts on the Michelle Kwan Forum. Michelle Kwan is, of course, my favorite skater. Also, check out this article on Michelle's view of her future.
David Frum compares Bush and Clinton lighting the national Christmas Tree (see the text
President Bush Lights National Christmas Tree).

For nearly 80 years, in times of calm and in times of challenge, Americans have gathered for this ceremony. The simple story we remember during this season speaks to every generation. It is the story of a quiet birth in a little town, on the margins of an indifferent empire. Yet that single event set the direction of history and still changes millions of lives. For over two millennia, Christmas has carried the message that God is with us -- and, because He's with us, we can always live in hope.

It's nice to have a non-mushy president.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Saturday we had our RCIA fall retreat. Here's the outline:

8:30 Gathering -- food, coffee etc.

9:00 Prayer (Fr. Al)
Introductions (Gordon)
Mark tape pt. 1 (Marilyn introduces)
Mark tape pt. 2

12ish Lunch

1:00 Visualizations from Mark's Gospel (small groups)

2:00 Rite of Welcome/Acceptance intro/overview (team)

2:30 Liturgy of the Word overview & missalettes (Fr. Al)

3:00 Life timelines (small groups) (Marilyn introduces)

4:00 Liturgy of the Hours (Manolo)

The tape we watched is a tape of an Shakespearean actor (can't remember his name) who has memorized the KJV of St. Mark's Gospel and proclaims it in a very effective and memorable fashion. It's our way of making sure that even if they haven't read the gospels as we've asked them to, they are at least basically familiar with one of them.

As so often happens we wound up having to cut the life timelines because we spent more time on the small group stuff, and we also spent some time doing introductions since we had had a number of people who had joined the RCIA after we began in September. Still it was a good retreat and we accomplished a lot.

Friday, December 06, 2002

The Arizona Daily Wildcat reports on grad student unrest at The University of Arizona(tm). Apparently, some Grad students may quit over tuition hike. I'm glad grad students are speaking up now. Undergrads get all the attention, but grad students comprise almost a quarter of UA students. Grad students are an important asset for the university and teach a large number of classes.
From the Wall Street Journal, John Miller writes on Christianity in Tolkien's work. Thanks to Amy Welborn for the link.
Happy St. Nicholas Day!

In the secular world's big runup to Christmas, we often lose sight of the real person of St. Nicholas. With the recent scandals in the Church it's good to reflect on this holy bishop of Myra. St. Nicholas, pray for our bishops, and for us!

Speaking of St. Nicholas, here's an interesting tidbit I stumbled across -- Clement Clarke Moore may not be the author of the famous poem A Visit From St. Nicholas, also known as "The Night Before Christmas". It's still a great poem though!

Finally, check it out -- tracking a FedEx package to Santa.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

I've had my cell phone for a month today. My usage stats:

Anytime minutes used: 184 (out of 300/mo)
Night/weekend minutes used: 282 (unlimited)
PCS to PCS minutes used: 1776 (unlimited)

Yep, that's almost 30 hours of PCS to PCS yakking, about an hour a day. Wow. Clearly I have picked the right plan, though; I have plenty of time left on my anytime minutes so my monthly expenditures should be in check at $34.99/month.
Amber Lee and I went to see Arizona Theater Company's production of The Fantasticks. It was very enjoyable (check out the Arizona Daily Star review here). This production was notable because the show's creators visited Tucson and talked about the production.

ATC's production was followed by a short Q&A with the cast, which was interesting. I had never seen the show before, but I'd heard the original cast album a zillion times. I was intrigued to discover that one of the original songs ("It Depends On What You Pay") was changed to "The Abduction" sometime after the show first opened. There are now two different versions of the score/script and producers can choose either one (see here for a review of an MIT production that kept the original script/score). It seems sad to me that the show should fall victim to political correctness in this way. Yes, rape is abhorrent, but that's not what the song is really about, and anyway, kidnapping is abhorrent also (I'm not going to get into trying to compare whether rape is worse than abduction). The song is really making fun of the fathers' plan to bring their children together. After all, as this review of another production points out, Man of La Mancha has a whore -- are we going to call her a "sex worker" in newer productions?
Check out the Slashdot William Shatner Interview.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Okay, this is just insane -- Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister claims no Saudis participated in the 9/11 attacks. We are allied with these people?

In an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Siyasa, the Saudi interior minister repeated the charge, widely circulated in the Middle East, that Saudis could not have participated in the attacks because Arabs were not capable of it. Only "Zionists" could have been capable of such a feat, he said.

Here's a better link.
A cool post on Kuro5hin -- a much-needed Guide to OpenBSD Packet Filtering Firewalls. Yes, it's a bit simplistic (it's oriented toward Mac and Windoze users) but there are a ton of good links there. Czech it out.
ElfGirl blogs about (sorry, no permalink) a store in Sam Frank's Disco that is dropping Israeli-made items from its shelves. She is boycotting the store, as is her right, but she also claims the store is being anti-semitic in its actions:

As soon as I read the article, I sent an email to Rainbow telling them their politics disturb me and that I will no longer be shopping at their store. The destruction of the Jews at the hands of Hitler's Nazi party, started with the boycott of jewish products. What's next? Yellow Stars of David on stores that sell jewish products? Anti-semitism scare me, and what Rainbow is doing freaks me out.

Although I slavishly admire ElfGirl, I have to say that I don't see how this is really any different, conceptually, from groups that refused to trade with South Africa during the apartheid era. I'd like to hear what others think, though. As I commented on her blog, being anti-Israel doesn't equate to being anti-semitic, at least not to me. That isn't to say that it doesn't work in the other direction, that is, presumably people who are anti-semitic would also be anti-Israel.

The root cause of this sort of issue is people's identification of Israel as speaking for all Jews, when it doesn't and can't. It's quite different from, say, Vatican City, where the Pope is the acknowledged leader of the Catholic Church and can speak for the Church in a way that, say, the prime minister of Israel cannot speak for Jews. It also points to the wisdom of the Spirit in stripping the papacy of temporal power, otherwise we Catholics might have the same sorts of issues.
Aristotle Esguerra rants about Catholic musicians and the liturgy.

I know where you are coming from, friend. It is often disheartening to see the state of music in the Church, the very same Church that produced Victoria, Palestrina, Lobo, and a zillion others. I must say that I was rather surprised by this statement though:

As a music major, I had no awareness of Catholic music at all, and I've been going to Mass for as long as I can remember. Most music didn't catch my attention, especially at Cornell - it's easy to zone the drivel out at Mass when the only thing you've got on your mind is fulfilling the Sunday obligation.

I was never a music major, but as a young Catholic in high school and college I was keenly aware that much of the music we sang in our choirs was Catholic music. My high school choir did Palestrina's Sicut Cervus (albeit in English). I was very moved by it and it led me to learn a little about Palestrina and polyphonic church music in general. Still, I really started getting more acquainted with the Church's heritage of chant and polyphony only after I got my bachelor's degree and moved to California. There I joined a pretty good parish choir at Santa Clara Catholic Church in Oxnard. While it was a good (and large) choir, the music we did was mostly the OCP stuff that you find everywhere; but it was done well, and done reverently. We had a choir of 65 and we sang from the choir loft, backed by a magnificent Schoenstein organ. Between that and singing with the Ventura County Master Chorale I got an excellent background in the music of the Church.

Later, after I returned to Tucson I got to sing with the amazing Lane Justus Chorale, which for 16 years performed a capella sacred music. Though a "secular" choir, the group specialized in Renaissance polyphony. It was a great opportunity for growth and learning for me.

I'm not sure why I said all that, but to bring this back around to Aristotle's post -- most Catholics are ignorant of their faith, and that's hard to change quickly. Most Catholic musicians, even parish musicians, are ignorant of their faith AND of what the Church says about music. They only know what they've been told, and to be honest, often they've been misled or even lied to. There are many examples of this -- choirs who have been told that Vatican II says they should not sing from the loft; Vatican II says they should not sing in Latin; and so on. I recently led two workshops in my parish that I called "In the Footsteps of St. Cecilia," where I explored the spirituality of music ministry but also what the Church has said about music. I am convinced that part and parcel of the solution to the problems in liturgical music today is not just education of musicians about what Vatican II actually said; it is really, fundamentally, about a conversion of heart.

As Catholics, and musicians, and Catholic musicians, we must be more educated about our art, yes. We certainly must be both good musicians and good Catholic musicians (that is, we must have musical skills and talent and also knowledge of the liturgy and Catholic music). But fundamentally and primarily, we must be good Catholics. We must be educated, informed, dedicated, devout, reverent, committed Catholics. That is the foundation we need for all the other things, and once we are well-started on that (for of course we'll never perfect it) we can begin to apply that and our other knowledge and skills (musical and liturgical etc.) to the task of renewing and restoring Catholic liturgical music. If we don't have the foundation we won't be in touch, in tune with what we are about.
Slashdot reports that Will Smith will be starring in a movie adaptation of Asimov's I,Robot. Asimov is one of my favorite authors. I hope that they do a good job with the movie.
And a big Happy Birthday to W. Scott Kardel. Scott is 40 today!

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

CNN reports on Planned Parenthood's tacky card and the protests that have arisen -- No peace over Planned Parenthood's holiday card.
Here's one of those things Planned Parenthood would rather you didn't think about -- Margaret Sanger's legacy of eugenics has surfaced again: Oregon governor apologizes for forced sterilizations.

Girls in reform school, people in mental institutions and poor women selected by welfare workers were among the more than 2,500 Oregonians subjected to sterilizations under a law that stood from 1917 to 1983.
While you are working on your Christmas card list, take a moment to visit Operation Dear Abby.net and send a message of encouragement and support to a member of the armed forces. They deserve our prayers and support as they work for freedom and security in our world.
Check out space.com's list of The 10 Best Mars Images Ever. Arizona has a special Mars connection since it was studied extensively at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
David Morrison has blogged about the issue of priests who are too lax with penitents, so that, while they think they are being helpful they are really feeding the flock with stones instead of bread. Check it out, there's a lot of wisdom there.
Woo hoo! Power PC boards for the masses! Check out Terra Soft Presents Full YDL & Hardware Solution for PPC. Cheap and powerful computing!

Monday, December 02, 2002

It's kind of a gray day here in Tucson -- something that doesn't happen too often. To see for yourself, check out the Arizona Webcam hosted by the University of Arizona(tm) Computer Science Department.
Joseph Scheidler vs. NOW is coming to the Supreme Court -- see Court to review abortion protests. At issue is NOW's attempt to invoke the RICO statute to stifle protests at abortion clinics. Other groups have (rightly) figured out that if this can be used against pro-lifers it can also be used against them, too. Never thought I'd see the day PETA would be filing an amicus curiae brief along with Catholic Worker houses.
Mmmm.... doughnuts.... It's official -- the Star reports the first Krispy Kreme in Tucson is opening tomorrow:

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts plans to turn on its "Hot doughnuts now" sign on North Oracle Road at Auto Mall Drive at 5 a.m. Tuesday and open for business. Construction of Tucson's first outlet for the fast-growing chain is nearing completion, said franchise co-owner Jim Morrissey. A second store is planned at El Con Mall on East Broadway.
More fuel for the fire -- Study: Car phone benefits equal car phone accident costs. As a newly minted cell phone owner myself I had always been annoyed when people yak and drive at the same time, even though a couple of close friends (AL, M, you know who you are) do it all the time. The irony, of course, is that I've found myself doing it as well -- mostly because I don't have as much time to talk to people as I would like.
From CNN -- Supreme Court agrees to hear homosexual sex case. The case is Lawrence v. Texas, 02-102. As the story notes, the SC ruled in 1986 that states could ban homosexual acts. It'll be really interesting to see how this plays out.

William Delmore III, an assistant district attorney in Texas, said people who don't like the law should take it up with the Texas Legislature, not courts.

He said homosexual sodomy has been considered criminal behavior for centuries. The conduct "could not conceivably have achieved the status of a fundamental right in the brief period of 16 years" since the Supreme Court last reviewed it, Delmore wrote in the state's court papers.

The last point is an interesting one. Gay rights activists will claim, presumably, that the SC's 1986 ruling was wrong and evil.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

The Lady of Shalott offers some insight on Bible translations. Check it out. (Note: the post is from 11/30 but there seems to be a link problem right now)
I joined the Traditional Choir for 11 a.m. Mass today.

Music for Mass
First Sunday of Advent, Cycle B

Gathering Song: Maranatha (OCP)
Penitential Rite: Mass of Creation
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 80 (Respond & Acclaim)
Gospel Acclamation: Advent Gospel Acclamation (OCP)
Preparation of the Gifts: Turn To Me (OCP)
Holy,Holy: Mass of Creation (OCP)
Memorial Acclamation: Mass of Creation (OCP)
Great Amen: Mass of Creation (OCP)
Our Father: Chant (English)
Lamb of God: Mass of Creation (OCP)
Communion: Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring (OCP)
Recessional: Sing Out, Earth and Skies (OCP)

Notice that "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" has now been de-sexed to "Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring". Bleah! Oh, and I could have done without "Sing Out, Earth and Skies" (also know as the "Twinkle, Twinkle Song").