Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Pope silent following Kennedy's Death"

My first thought on seeing this headline: This is ridiculous. He's the pope, for crying out loud, does anyone honestly think he has time to send a personal response to passing of every prominent Roman Catholic in the world?

After reading the whole article: Fr. James Martin comments that Ted Kennedy was a complicated man. Well, of course he was, I tend to think most people are complicated in some facet or another. And I don't believe that those Catholics who take a stance on some issue in opposition to that consistent with Church teaching automatically sever all their ties to Her, least of all the emotional ones. Is it inconsistent, usually intellectually dishonest? Yeah, usually. But we're fallen humans. We all do that.

I'm the last to defend some of Kennedy's actions in life, and I agree the choices of politicians have moral consequences (which for Catholic politicians can include receiving Communion or not), but I don't think it's odd that he apparently stayed connected to the faith of his youth (especially since, you know, it's True and all, and it's hard to remove yourself from that once you're in it, though you may turn a blind eye to it sometimes, as he did). Nor do I believe Pope Benedict's silence is some indication of his take on Kennedy's life.

I'm also the last to make any judgment as to the state of his soul -- that's strictly between him and God. I always hope the deceased make it home. If they do, then there's hope for me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Caspian on Progress

But that would be putting the clock back," gasped the governor. "Have you no idea of progress, of development?"
"I have seen them both in an egg," said Caspian. "We call it 'Going Bad' in Narnia."

-C.S. Lewis in Voyage of the Dawn

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lions in the Meadows*

Every summer of my life (25 summers now), I've visited my family in California, and my siblings have joined in the pilgrimage as they have gotten old enough to do so.

The journey is always dictated by habit. We do something once, we do it every summer there after; we go to the same places following the same itinerary, eat at the same places, watch the same movies. Summer vacation in California is kind of like watching the same movie over and over, and that actually is what makes it so glorious.

Each summer of the last ten or so, a side trip to Las Vegas is included, much to the glee of my littlest siblings (alright, and me -- I'm a sucker for tacky gift shops, giant Coca Cola bottles, and glittering lights).

This year, though, we inadvertently added a stop to the cycle. This happens; the movie evolves now and again. We parked on the wrong side of the MGM Grand, and so had to walk through it to get to the giant Coke bottle. Along our bee-line to green-bottle bliss, we passed MGM Grand's lion habitat, a spot I hadn't known existed. It was open, bright, and lush; lots of things for the lions to climb, waterfalls crashing dramatically-yet-gently into a little pool, quite idyllic. Two lions, a male and a female, lounged just on the other side of the inch-thick, slightly green glass, drowsy and showered in sun from the massive skylight.

All around them, pressed to every inch of the perimeter, were tourists from God knows where -- everywhere, probably -- thee people deep holding up children and cameras, standing on tip toe to get a view of the lions. The sleepy felines, meanwhile, remained totally aloof.

The female lion perched at the top of one of the water falls, gazing about occasionally but mostly vegetating with her eyes closed; beautiful. The male lion was sprawled out on top of the frosted glass that covered a walkway through the middle of the habitat, presumably to another section. Dozens of people had crammed themselves into this space, a space meant for people to pass through not linger in, to see him and take vague silhouetted pictures.

I count myself in this number, of course.

And I was fascinated. Not so much by the lion, actually, though being a mere two inches and a flaw in glass-making craftsmanship away from those paws and jaws was pretty awe-inspiring. No, I was really interested in the people who came to Las Vegas, the middle of the dessert, presumably for some gaming, some food, some shows, and perhaps some less family friendly activity, and were now captured, in rapt attention, by this massive, powerful creature (who had absolutely no use for them, by the way).

I often lament how disconnected we've become from good ol' Mother Earth. Greening industry and saving the planet are all the rage, but I don't know how many of us spend much time actually appreciating the planet we live on (sorry, Planet Earth doesn't count) or the other creatures who inhabit it. We -- humans, that is -- are God's crowning jewel, but can you imagine Adam's reaction when God showed him the first lion?

God: Here, check this guy out! You might want to give him an especially good name, I don't think he'll be too happy with you otherwise.
Adam: (squeak)

It was both amusing and heartening to see all those people so enthralled by a pair of lions. I've started to think (realize might be the better word) that God meant for us to feel connected to every other living thing on the planet, not in an Earth mother crazy kind of way, but in an awareness that we come from the same place and those other things were made for our good. It's evident, especially when we meet those creations in such unexpected places -- like lions in a meadow.

*"Las Vegas" is Spanish for "the meadows".

Thank God for August 23rd!

This is Becca. She is my best friend, and today (well, yesterday now, I suppose) was her birthday.

Sometimes God puts people in your life and means them to stay there forever and ever no matter what either of you do. Becca is like that. You want to talk about the Almighty making Himself known in my life? This girl. All. The stinkin'. Time. Although "mighty" isn't the first word I'd use to describe her, unless it was "mighty darlin'". I love her very much.

Even though she's weird.

Okay, maybe because she's weird.

Happy Birthday, Donut!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Peru vs. Bolivia. Grand Prize: The Devil.

I am ethnically and quasi-culturally Peruvian, and vocally proud of that. At the same time, it seems most news stories on the Mother Land I come across make me sort of cock my head and go, "Huh?" At least in this one, Bolivia is weirder than we are (at least I think so; I might be biased).
"The devil has his house and that is in Oruro [Bolivia]," Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, said Wednesday at a regional diplomatic meeting, where the issue came up. "One has to take care not to run into trouble with the devil."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Round Three...

After many weeks of sky-high stress academia and life alteringly-awesome people and a couple weeks of utter relaxation with my family (who are equally as awesome), I'm back in Brownsville for year two at my school and year three in the teaching gig. I write from my bare classroom, being used today and tomorrow as the in-service room, after which I will begin plastering the room with butcher paper, border, clever posters, schedules, motivational sayings, Bible verses, and my own tangibly high expectations for my students.

Meanwhile, my community (minus four from last year, plus four newbies) is already having a ball. We spent yesterday evening plotting, over tacos and beer, which room of the house to convert to a chapel.

Frankly, I'm just giddy about the start of the new school year. I suspect it will be, to use the ubiquitous phrase, totally awesome.

Stay tuned.