Monday, September 29, 2008


Sundown this evening, September 29, marked the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year celebration for the Jewish people. Year 5769 to be precise.

Rosh Hashanah is for Jews the beginning of a special 10-day period (called the "days of awe" or "days of repentance") that will end on October 8 with Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.

I pray that this will be a blessed time of meaningful prayer and spiritual growth for all those marking the days.

On this Rosh Hashanah that also was a day of unrest for our nation's economy, perhaps it would be appropriate to pray together some of the verses from Psalm 25:

Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;
in your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.

An aside: In the spirit of inter-religious understanding, I also should note that tomorrow is the final day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan for 2008.

The photo above is from here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Running for Heartbeat Away

Peggy Noonan well summarized Governor Sarah Palin's status at the end of her Friday column:

As for Sarah Palin, the McCain campaign continues to make mistakes. They don't seem to understand her strengths and weaknesses. The U.N. photo-ops were a staged embarrassment. Keeping the press away made her look infantilized. When she finally began to sit for television interviews, the atmosphere was heightened, every misstep magnified. With Katie Couric she seemed rattled. In the Charlie Gibson interview it was not good when she sounded chirpy discussing possible war with Russia. One should not chirp about such things. Or one wouldn't if one knew the implications. And knowing the implications is part of what we hire leaders for.

Mrs. Palin is a two-term mayor and has two years as a governor of an American state. She is well-liked and highly regarded back home. She rose for a reason. She has to show America what she showed Alaska.

It is true that the mainstream press, in interviews, will tend toward muted hostility. That's life for Republicans. But it's also part and parcel of the game and its requirements. Mrs. Palin gave a great speech at the Republican convention, and has roused crowds since. But there is much about her we do not know. Are her impulses, in terms of foreign policy, Reaganite or Bushian? Is she of the realist school, is she a neoconservative, does she see such a distinction? How does she see the world?

Mrs. Palin is charming, bright and strong enough to be a social conservative in a world whose establishments don't love social conservatism. But she is still a largely unknown quantity in terms of how she thinks, what she thinks, and who she is. And voters must be able to judge these things, because she is running for Heartbeat Away.

Two Sons

The Gospel at Mass today contains a parable and a strong rebuke.

From Matthew Chapter 21:

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:

"What is your opinion?

"A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' He said in reply, 'I will not, ' but afterwards changed his mind and went.

"The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir,' but did not go.

"Which of the two did his father's will?"

They answered, "The first."

Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him."

In his homily for today, Deacon Greg states, "Conversion in one way or another is at the center of this Sunday’s readings."

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The iconic actor Paul Newman died Friday at the age of 83.

Newman's role that most sticks in my mind is that of Brick in the 1958 film version of Tennessee Williams' play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." In the movie, he played opposite Elizabeth Taylor in the role of Maggie and Burl Ives as Big Daddy.

Here is the first scene featuring Brick and Maggie:

The "mendacity" sequence:

Brick and Big Daddy resolution:


I realize the weekend is half over but better late than never ...

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is "Poinciana" by the Ahmad Jamal trio. This morning, while listening to a podcast of National Public Radio's "Piano Jazz," I learned that Jamal (a "noted jazz pianist") is a Pittsburgh native. In fact, Jamal and host Marian McPartland spoke for a few minutes about all of the jazz greats from the 'Burgh.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Live-Blogging the 1st Debate

I have never live-blogged before. But, I find myself still at the office and in front of a computer watching the first presidential debate on CNN live stream. So, here goes:

9:04 p.m. I agree with Senator Obama on CEOs not getting golden parachutes following government bail-outs.

9:09 p.m. Jim Leher: "We can negotiate a deal right here." Good line.

9:11 p.m. Senator McCain: "A lot of us saw this train wreck coming." Really? Too bad more wasn't done about it.

9:13 p.m. I don't think the senators understand the "talk to each other" idea. Mastering it could help win the debate. Probably would have helped if the debate organizers had sat the candidates and moderator at a table instead of using podiums.

9:17 p.m. Senator McCain: "I've got a pen." Ugh.

9:22 p.m. Senator McCain's example of Ireland's lower business taxes was a good defense of his proposal to cut those.

9:28 p.m. It's depressing to think of how the financial system bailout may limit the ability of tax dollars to go to other worthy goals -- especially infrastructure development and increasing the amount of student grants for higher education.

9:34 p.m. Senator Obama is correct that we need more investment in early childhood education. But, I'm not certain that it's the proper role of the federal government. Seems like that it something better left to state and local governments -- if a higher percentage of our tax dollars stayed at those levels.

9:39 p.m. It's telling that it wasn't until 40 minutes into the debate that there was a question on Iraq. (Remember, this debate was supposed to be about foreign policy.)

9:46 p.m. Senator McCain would serve himself better if he would turn his body toward Senator Obama and speak to him directly. He would seem more human and real. Senator Obama seems much more comfortable and more nimble.

9:57 p.m. Senator Obama: "... singing songs about bombing Iran." That was stupid.

10:00 p.m. I don't mean to be disrespectful to the soldiers who died, but I'm not fond of the bracelet references. It's so contrived.

10:04 p.m. This would have been so much more helpful if Senator McCain had followed the format and spoken directly with Senator Obama. He has yet to call him by his first name. Senator Obama has been saying "John" since the second or third reference.

10:08 p.m. I need to look up "centrifuge." Or is that "centrofuge"? Senator Obama is getting professorial ...

10:12 p.m. I think Senator Obama probably wins more votes on this question of meeting with antagonistic foreign leaders (maybe even clear enemies). It shows he is broad-minded and intellectually brave. But, Senator McCain is correct that it does give the bad guys legitimacy.

10:16 p.m. Somebody get Kissinger on the phone and just settle this one. ;-)

10:19 p.m. I hate it when someone calls an opponent naive. The honorable gentleman from Arizona should do better.

10:22 p.m. I have a 10:31 p.m. train into the city to catch so this is my last thought on the debate. I think it's pretty much a draw. Neither senator really said anything we haven't heard before.

Too bad.

The Guv & Father Mychal

Governor Sarah Palin met many people during her visit to New York this week. Yesterday, she got to know Father Mychal Judge, OFM.

NY Daily News columnist Michael Daly facilitated the meeting:

... My hosts suggested it would be fitting for me to give her a book, and there I was, a liberal puke of a columnist, faced with writing an inscription for Sarah Palin.

I thought of Mychal, who had bridged all differences. I recalled that Sen. Hillary Clinton, former Mayor Dave Dinkins and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani had all welled up while talking to me of their fallen friend. I now wrote in the title page what I felt sure to be true.

"For Governor Palin, who would have loved Mychal."

I was introduced to her and I handed her the book, not entirely sure she knew who Mychal was. I opened the book to what some have called the modern Pieta. Her eyes welled again as she gazed at the photo of the anguished first responders carrying him from the fiery ruins.

Ielpi presented Palin with another holy card he carries, one with a photo of Mychal on the front and a prayer he composed on the back. She placed the card inside the book and closed it, a woman who had come out of seeming nowhere, delightful to some, terrifying to others.

"Mychal always said, 'If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans for tomorrow,'" I told her, adding, "I guess a lot of people in this country have been feeling that way lately."

Palin stepped over to sign the visitor's log.

"From your 49th state.... We will never forget....
Governor Sarah Palin, ALASKA"

The NYT has coverage, too.

I hope Governor Palin learns Father Mychal's prayer:

Lord, take me where you want me to go;
Let me meet who you want me to meet;
Tell me what you want me to say, and
Keep me out of your way.

"The Duchess"

"The Duchess," the new Keira Knightly vehicle about the life of English noblewoman Georgiana Spencer, the Duchess of Devonshire (1757 - 1806), opened last weekend here in New York. It's based on the biography of the same title by Amanda Foreman.

I had the chance to check it out. It's more soap opera than History Channel but I'd recommend it for fans of the 18th century biopic genre.

Keira Knightly, an enchanting beauty, was good but not great.

Ralph Fiennes plays Georgiana's cold husband, William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire (1748 - 1811). He was quite good, as always. But, it's getting difficult to separate him in my movie-goer brain from his role as Voldemort in the "Harry Potter" films.

It's also hard not to like Hayley Atwell who portrayed Bess Foster, Georgiana's charming friend who becomes the Duke's "other woman."

Genealogical aside: Diana, Princess of Wales, was a descendant of Georgiana's brother, the 2nd Earl Spencer.

"Professional" movie critic note: Manohla was snippy and condescending in her dislike of this one. But, she and I have disagreed before.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Model Campus Ministry

Yesterday evening, I had a great time visiting the Newman Catholic Community at Long Island University's C.W. Post Campus.

I was honored to be asked to speak with the students about Faithful Citizenship. The visit also gave me the chance to give a brief commercial about the National Catholic Student Coalition (NCSC).

It was through NCSC that I first met C.W. Post's Catholic chaplain, La Salette Father Ted Brown, in the late '90s when I was active in the Newman Club at NYU.

I was very impressed with the ministry of Fr. Ted and the Catholic students at C.W. Post. In addition to Sunday evening Mass, retreats, a bible study, soup kitchen work and trips to places like the Bronx Zoo and Washington, D.C., the C.W. Post Catholics travel each year to Mexico to help build houses and schools.

I also was extremely impressed by C.W. Post's superb Interfaith Center (pictured above). It's a beautiful building in the heart of campus that houses ministries to Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Islamic students (as well as other belief traditions). It's a model that should be replicated on campuses across the country.

When I arrived at the Interfaith Center, the C.W. Post Hillel was meeting in the same meeting space later used by the Newman Club. (The Hillel students donated some kosher pizza for the Newman meeting.) As I left at the end of the night, a gospel choir was practicing upstairs in the large chapel that is used by all of the faith communities on campus.

Very impressive indeed.


How do people like this get elected to public office?

CNN has video.


Monday, September 22, 2008

"My First Son"

Two weeks in a row, the NYT Fashion & Style section produces a piece deserving of mention here.

This beautiful "Modern Love" essay is "My First Son, a Pure Memory" by David Hlavsa.

A clip:

So I typed out an e-mail message, brief and plain, explaining: Lisa had been pregnant, the child had died and we took some comfort from the belief that all he had ever known was love. I stared at the screen for a long time.

Then I clicked on the top of the e-mail program and addressed the message to everyone at the college: faculty members, students, staff, people I knew well, people I didn’t know at all. I had a fleeting thought that this might be inappropriate, but then I pressed “send.” It felt like a form of protest.

I wasn’t really looking for a response. I wanted just to get the news out; I couldn’t bear to repeat it over and over. And although my department’s administrative assistant did field a few complaints about receiving something so personal by a general message (“Who is this guy?”), most apparently understood or at least excused my gesture.

AND then came the outpouring: for weeks after, people I barely knew would come into my office, gently shut the door and burst into tears. I heard stories of single and serial miscarriages, pregnancies carried nearly to full term, stillbirths — all the lost, lost children. Grief hauled about, and nowhere to put it down. Some said they had never told anyone; who would understand?

Deacon Greg and American Papist -- both via Amy.

Helping the Alma Mater

Researchers from the NYU Psychology Department, supported by the National Science Foundation, are investigating the cognitive causes of voting behavior, political preferences, and candidate evaluations throughout the course of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.

They are now looking at information people use to inform evaluations during the last few weeks before the election.

Their on-line questionnaire takes about 15 minutes to complete if you would be willing to participate. It's anonymous.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Day in the Vineyard

The Gospel at Mass today finds Jesus teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven through a parable known as the "Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard" or "The Parable of the Generous Employer." It also has something to say about work, wages and unemployment.

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.

After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.

Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’

So they went off.

And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise.

Going out about five o’clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’

They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’

He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’

When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’

When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage.

And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’

He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’

Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Of Loaves, Fish & A Spillway

Speaking of news from Western PA:

I was tickled Thursday to see a report in The New York Times about the feeding of bread to the fish in Pymatuning Lake spillway, which my family visited once or twice when I was a kid. The report was a follow-up to this article (that I missed) on August 31.

From Sean D. Hamill:

Every year, an estimated 500,000 people trek to the lake in northwestern Pennsylvania to see a veritable carpet of carp in the water.

The impromptu roadside attraction is known in part for the sight of ducks walking over the backs of the carp to get at some of the bread themselves. This has spurred Linesville to call itself “Where the Ducks Walk on the Fishes.”

In July, the state said it wanted to end the 70-year tradition because it was generating litter and attracting geese that were defecating on local beaches and campgrounds.

A community uproar led to a three-hour public meeting on Sept. 8 that attracted nearly 400 people, who nearly unanimously opposed the move. Many worried that the change would deter visitors, who spend money in local restaurants and other businesses.

“Hey, with that many people, numbers speak,” Pete Houghton, manager of Pymatuning State Park, said Thursday.

The photo above, of the Pymatuning Lake spillway, is credited to Jeff Swensen.

A Deserved Tribute

Yesterday evening, back home in the hills of northern Washington County, Pennsylvania, the football field at my alma mater, Fort Cherry High School, was quite deservedly renamed "Jim Garry Stadium."

Mr. Garry, who died last year at the age of 80, was one of the longest-serving high school football coaches in the history of Western Pennsylvania (if not the longest-serving). He guided the Rangers for 43 years.

The Observer-Reporter has video of the occasion.

The photo of Mr. Garry above is from the Post-Gazette.

Bailouts All Around

Great one in Wednesday's NYTimes letters:

To the Editor:

Dear Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson:

My student loans are too big and it is hurting the economy. Can I have a bailout, please? I need $92,000.


Nathan Kottke
St. Paul,
Sept. 17, 2008

Me, too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Learn To Fly

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is the great Beatles tune "Blackbird" as performed by Sara McLachlan:

And a jazzier approach:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bob Dole Impersonating Huey Long

NYT columnist Gail Collins nailed Senator John McCain today for his new-found affinity for government regulations.

Money Line:

... McCain’s willingness to make speeches that have nothing to do with his actual beliefs is not matched by an ability to give them, he wound up sounding like Bob Dole impersonating Huey Long.


In June, I posted a rendition of the fun tune "Taylor the Latte Boy."

Here is a new, slightly more urban, take:

Hat-tip: Best Arts

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Neighbors

For years, I have been aware of the sociological reality that wealthy people and poor people often live close to each other -- usually in cities.

But, last night, that reality became very clear to me as I stood on East 1st Street on NYC's Lower East Side. I had just left a political fundraiser in a condo building that looked normal on the outside but was amazing on the inside. The fundraiser was in a tony apartment boasting a huge kitchen (by NYC apartment standards) and what was likely several millions of dollars worth of artwork on the walls. (A set of four Marilyn Monroe silkscreens by Andy Warhol -- said to be real -- graced one wall.)

The fundraiser had been headlined by the majority leader of the New York State Senate along with another state senator and four members of the State Assembly. Edward Cox, President Nixon's son-in-law and the head of the McCain campaign in New York, was there too.

When I came outside, I paused for a moment only to see that this building was literally next door to the Catholic Worker "House of Hospitality" for many of the city's hungry and homeless. It was founded in the 1930s by Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin and the other pioneers of the Catholic Worker movement.

I felt guilty for passing it without notice as I had arrived. I felt guilty for never having been there to volunteer. My first visit (in recent memory, anyway) to that block shouldn't have been for a cocktail party.

But, the maxim proved true: immense wealth and the homeless, next door neighbors. Although, I must say, seemingly co-existing peacefully.

The photo above is from

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Place Like This

Rod Dreher over at Beliefnet has a good take on Jan Hoffman's article in today's NYTimes about the beauty shop in Wasilla, Alaska where Governor Sarah Palin is a regular.

It's a piece that says a lot more about Palin than its placement in the "Fashion & Style" section may seem to indicate.

Dreher's reflection reminded me of why I too am still rooting for the Alaska Governor -- despite the many negatives that Sully keeps articulating by the hour.

From "Sarah Palin, steel magnolia":

This is where I came from, a place like this. These women are the kind of women my sister and my mother are, even though they live in a small town far, far away from Alaska. I could be reading this story about my own town (except whitetail deer would replace bear).

Reading this story, I understood more than anything else I've read about Sarah Palin why she's made that gut connection with so many Americans. She really is from a small town, and does not seem to have forgotten that. Think about the powerful message this sends to small-town, rural and working-class voters. Think about what it says about the place she comes from internally, and how she interprets the world. This is a woman who goes to the small-town beauty shop to trade hunting stories with her girlfriends, and to pray with them through their crises -- and she didn't stop going there when she became governor of the state.

Obviously no criterion to select the second to the most powerful man on earth, and I'm not arguing that it is, so don't be obnoxious in the comboxes. But if you are going to extend your empathy to the African-American who votes for Barack Obama because he sees in Obama something deep and important about himself, and finds that makes Obama trustworthy, you have to extend your empathy to the small-town, rural folks who see the same in Sarah Palin, and have confidence in her. Her experiences have given her a certain place from which she judges the world, and it's a place shared by tens of millions of Americans -- men and women whose views and values are scarcely represented in American newsrooms.

I'm from a place like this, too. And, I think that recent, first-hand knowledge of towns like Wasilla, Alaska, and McDonald, Pennsylvania, would be a good characteristic to have in a VPOTUS.

Yes, I wish Governor Palin had traveled to more places around the world and had more first-hand knowledge of foreign policy issues. Yes, I disagree with her on some significant policy positions (evidenced by the post below and the links to Sully above).

But, I still like her. I like that a young, pro-life woman who served in local government and had the courage to challenge the party bosses could rise to the second highest office in the land.

The NYT photo above is credited to Jim Wilson. Caption: LOCAL COLOR Jessica Steele of the Beehive salon, where Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been a client.

Hat-tip: The Anchoress

Invent, Baby, Invent

Thomas Friedman had another strong column on his recurring theme in today's New York Times. Title: "Making America Stupid."

Key graphs:

Why would Republicans, the party of business, want to focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century technology — fossil fuels — rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology — renewable energy? As I have argued before, it reminds me of someone who, on the eve of the I.T. revolution — on the eve of PCs and the Internet — is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper. “Typewriters, baby, typewriters.”

Of course, we’re going to need oil for many years, but instead of exalting that — with “drill, baby, drill” — why not throw all our energy into innovating a whole new industry of clean power with the mantra “invent, baby, invent?” That is what a party committed to “change” would really be doing. As they say in Texas: “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

But Might Have Eternal Life

For Catholics, today is the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. (It is celebrated each September 14. Because it falls this year on a Sunday, the feast trumps the readings for the Sunday in Ordinary Time.)

The Gospel at Mass speaks to salvation through Christ. (It includes the well-known verse John 3:16.)

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

The icon above is from here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Passing John Waters

Little aside:

Last night, as I was walking west on 12th Street (just before Sixth Avenue, I think), the cult filmmaker John Waters and a friend emerged from an apartment building. They walked directly in front of me for a few moments until I passed them.

I played it cool. Just kept on walking. (Inside my head: "Whoa -- that's John Waters!")

Wandering the Terminal

Yesterday's Times also carried a good-read by Ethan Gilsdorf about hanging out in airports. (It was the "Rituals" column in Friday's "Escapes" section.)

Gilsdorf's lead:

UNLIKE most travelers, I have a thing for airports. I’m happy browsing the newsstands or aimlessly wandering the terminal. To me, bliss is sitting at a bland airport bar and watching a ballgame, with three hours to kill before a flight.

As someone who travels a lot, I can relate. With free wifi and a decent bookstore (and maybe an ice cream joint), I usually don't mind a brief delay myself -- it can sometimes be the best personal time of a hectic trip.

Father Principe Rides Shotgun

Yesterday's New York Times carried a good City Room column by David Gonzalez on the morality of double-parking.

After being boxed in for an hour on an Upper Manhattan street, Gonzalez turned to his one-time high school theology teacher, Fr. Francis Principe, for an opinion on the "everybody is doing it" mentality:

From "Don't Box Me In, Double-Parker":

“‘Everybody does it’ is not exactly an argument clincher,” he said on Tuesday, when reached at his residence at Spellman. “That leads to the basic question, is it right or wrong? You can’t say ‘everybody does it’ because if that was the case, we’d still have slavery. People have to judge if something is fundamentally right or wrong. You know, the concept of majority rule can often be tyrannical, especially in moral and legal matters.”

Suddenly, I felt as if I was back at Hayes, marshmallow platforms, polyester suits and blow-dried hair.

“If everyone did it, you can see what happens,” he said. “But not everyone does it. First, you can’t actually prove everyone does it. Also, that kind of attitude leads to a disregard of the law. People suffer. Where do you draw the line? The question should be is it right or wrong, true or false, legal or illegal.”

Next time, Father Principe rides shotgun. Everybody, you’re on notice.

The NYT photo above is credited to Josh Haner.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bad Day

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is a chill live version of "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter.


Here's the original video:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Onward Goes the Pilgrim Band

This morning marks the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Deacon Greg (here and here), Rocco, A Concord Pastor and The Anchoress are in prayer to mark the day. Christian has a remembrance, too.

Here is a verse that also seems fitting:

Through the night of doubt and sorrow
Onward goes the pilgrim band,
Singing songs of expectation
Marching to the promised land.

Clear before us through the darkness
Gleams and burns the guiding light:
Brother clasps the hand of brother,
Stepping fearless through the night.

One, the lights of God's own presence
O'er his ransomed people shed,
Chasing far the gloom and terror,
Brightening all the path we tread:
One, the object of our journey,
One, the faith which never tires,
One, the earnest looking forward,
One, the hope our God inspires.

-- Bernhard Severin Ingemann, 1789-1882; translation by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1867. (Public Domain)

Hat-tip to Deacon Greg for the image above by Deacon Bernard Deschler.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Memoriam: Mr. Noll, 1943 - 2008

Today's Observer-Reporter brings the sad news of the death of Richard Noll, one of my high school English teachers and the advisor to our student newspaper, The Pinnacle.

Mr. Noll will long remain in the memory of two or three generations of Fort Cherry High School alumni. In particular, many will recall the way he presented Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and "Macbeth" in the classroom.

Mr. Noll was one of those who sparked my early interest in writing and journalism -- my first byline was in The Pinnacle.

May he rest in peace.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tell No One

We recently headed to Sunshine Cinema on the Lower East Side to check out the film "Tell No One," or "Ne le dis à personne." I'd recommend it. It's a great French mystery-thriller akin to an old Alfred Hitchcock flic.

Stephen Holden of The New York Times got it right when he summed up the film as, "Beautifully written and acted, 'Tell No One” is a labyrinth in which to get deliriously lost."

Kristen Scott Thomas, best known for her role in "The English Patient," may be the only face in "Tell No One" familiar to American audiences -- although her role is only a supporting one.

Where Two or Three

In the Gospel at Mass today, Jesus provides instructions for life -- both in dealings with those we think have done us wrong and as a people at prayer.

From Matthew Chapter 18:

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

"Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

"Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

The clip above is from Love to be Catholic (Hat-tip: The Anchoress). The singing is in Russian. Translation: "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners."

Saturday, September 06, 2008

New Yorkers: Vote on Tuesday!

This coming Tuesday (September 9) is Primary Election Day in New York (for state assembly, congressional and judicial races).

With the presidential candidates already selected, this second '08 primary in the Empire State isn't receiving much attention. (Monday update: I did find this article with a list of contested races in NYC.)

Here are two hardworking office-seekers worth checking out:

If you live in southern Manhattan or western Brooklyn, John Chromczak is an excellent candidate for New York State Senate (25th District).

If you live in the northern Manhattan neighborhoods of Inwood or Washington Heights, your man is Bill Buran, candidate for New York State Assembly (72nd District).

John and Bill are pictured above at a recent joint press conference.

The Air I Breathe

Last week, at the SCRC Convention in Anaheim, a few of the "praise & worship" songs got stuck in my head, especially one with the opening lyric "This is the air I breathe." (I'm not certain of the precise title or the songwriter.)

Here is a version of that tune for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend." It's cheesy but meaningful.


Friday, September 05, 2008

R.I.P. Robert Giroux

The great book editor and publisher Robert Giroux has died at the age of 94.

He was a contemporary of Thomas Merton at Columbia University and later edited Merton's best-selling early autobiography "The Seven Storey Mountain." In 1998, Giroux wrote the forward to the 50th Anniversary edition of "Mountain."

Giroux was editor-in-chief at Harcourt when the volume was published in 1948. His name was later added to the publishing house Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

He also was the publisher of Flannery O'Connor.

A New Addition

I'm sorry to say that travel fatigue, a cold and some Internet connection problems have kept blogging to a minimum this week.

For observations on this week's Republican National Convention (notably reaction to Governor Palin's speech), go to The Anchoress.

And, a personal note:

My cousin, Mary Ellen, gave birth to a son last night: David James Ketterer.

A hearty congratulations to Mary Ellen; her husband, Dan; and their older son, Danny. Cheers as well to all the Snatchkos on Hickory Street in Burgettstown, PA, who I know are celebrating this new addition to the family.

Pace e Bene, David James. Welcome to the party.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Sister Retires

Last week, I missed this story in The New York Times about the retirement of the last M.S.B.T. sister from Catholic Charities. I met Sr. Lucita Cangemi several times in the '90s through Sr. Thomasmari Gore, M.S.B.T., one of my campus ministers at NYU.

From Jim Dwyer's profile:

Earlier this week, in her office on Stanton Street on the Lower East Side, Sister Lucita, 87, took stock of the changing worlds she has faced. Friday is her last day of work in New York. As she spoke, the phone kept ringing. Someone was coming up the steps to the front door. Taped to her computer monitor was a list of drug rehabilitation clinics.

On her answering machine was a message from a city worker who needed help for a young woman with a baby.

“I have a call now for Pampers,” she said.

How was she supposed to come up with Pampers?

She shrugged.

“I don’t know if I should go into that,” she said. “I get a personal donation, and I can use that.”

Sister Lucita is the last working New York member of an order of Catholic religious women, the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, who have served as social workers with Catholic Charities since 1953. Having taken vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, they became experts in prostitution, jails, diapers, rent, drugs and jobs.

“This is really not about me, but about the exodus of a community that has worked hard in New York, that loved New York and loved their work, and gave services to the city for 50 years,” Sister Lucita said.

The Times credited the photo above to the M.S.B.T. archives. Caption: "Sister Lucita, right, on her way to minister to women in jail, in an undated photo."