Monthly Archives: February 2004


Stations of the Cross

With The Passion of the Christ out, a lot of people are probably feeling more interested in the Stations of the Cross. I’m interested to find how different some of the prayers for doing the Stations are. Some folks can’t picture doing them without singing the “Stabat Mater”, others never heard of such a thing. (Around here, we seem to be in the latter group while Ebert’s review indicates he’s in the former.) Some are indoors, some outside in gardens or on trails. There are many different sets of meditations and prayers used for the Stations, each with its own advantages. Also, the Episcopal/Anglican church seems to do Stations.

The best explanation of the different versions of the Stations is at the website of Sacred Heart Parish, Morton, WA. You can pick out your own favorite version of the Stations while looking at the same set of pictures over in the frames. (A good use of frames, btw.) Another excellent site is from the Congregation of the Passion. The origins of the Stations in pilgrimages to Jerusalem are explained at Olga’s Gallery and the Via Dolorosa.

Other sites which include both pictures and prayers for the Stations are: St. Charles Borromeo in Picayune, Mississippi; Two Hearts Design; St. Alexander’s, Villa Park, IL;; over at Gerard’s site, Catholic Doors; and Ligurina-Maria.

If you just want a new set of pictures to look at while doing the Stations, check out a nice set of paintings of the Stations from Lodwar, Kenya. Here are some sculptures from St. Augustine’s in Deerfield Twp., Michigan; and from

Of course, the real test is to walk and pray Jesus’ road every day as we carry our own crosses. But the more we try in all ways to die with Christ, the more we will live with Him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


“Fair Science Frown’d Not on His Humble Birth”: Astronomer in a Country Churchyard

St. Laurence’s Church, Slough, Buckinghamshire was local to Thomas Gray (1716-1771, and may have inspired his famous “Elegy in a Country Churchyard”. (Though, to be fair, St. Giles’ Church in Stoke Poges claims that, too, and probably many others.) It was also where the astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822) was buried. In 2001, apparently someone donated a nice stained glass window dedicated to the memory of the discoverer of Uranus. Note the telescope in the bottom right hand corner of the window.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized



It’s only been a day since Ash Wednesday, but already I’ve made a few more steps in the wrong direction. The ancient Romans used to draw the soul as a tiny figure with wings. My anima may be vagula, but not blandula. Her tiny wings are the color of charcoal and ash, and maybe they are broken.

The lucky thing is that Jesus forgives sins. “Cleanse me from my iniquities, and I shall be as white as snow.” Different denominations handle this different ways; some give great credence to mental prayer, others to standing up in front of the congregation to confess. Catholics do something that stands exactly in the middle; we tell our sins to a member of the congregation (namely, a priest), who stands in as a visible sign both of the Church and our incarnate God.

It is hard to tell even a single person what I’ve done wrong. A single person with a long shrewd knowledge of what sorts of things people get up to — oh, it’s hard. But it is fatally easy to tell your sins to God and not feel forgiven enough, or to weasel out of your sins as really not so bad. When you can hear what you’re saying to someone else, and hear their own comments to you, it is a great deal harder to go to one extreme or the other.

I am praying today for several people, including myself, but especially for this young woman. (Link is not work-safe.) May God console her and help her deal with her pain in a better way. Cutting is not the answer; art is a better one; but I think she needs help and love most of all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Ash Wednesday

When I was a child, I don’t think they used a lot of ashes in my parish. I was always disappointed to find, when I got home, that there was nothing left on my forehead but a vague dark gray smudge. I could get dirtier than that by reading the newspaper.

This Wednesday night, I could see the black circles on my fellow parishioners from up in the choir loft. Indian ladies honoring their religion could hardly have been marked on the forehead more conspicuously than we. The very last person to get ashes was a baby in her mother’s arms; her small black dot contrasted with her pale forehead like ink on paper.

I looked at us, covered in ashes if not sackcloth, and reflected that this was how sin must look like on our souls. Not to mention regret.

We were doing what the Bible recommended, as the readings made clear; gathering all the people together, young and old, to repent in an acceptable time. It was the beginning of Lent, that sorrowful six weeks whose English name means “springtime”. For six weeks every year, we try to pray, fast, abstain, give alms, and make a little progress on the spiritual journey that God wants us to take. We stop, ask directions, turn around, and try to come back to the right road instead of continuing blindly on our own “shortcuts”.

We start by publicly admitting, as a group, that we’re lost. With ashes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Best Religious Poem I’ve Read in a Long Time

I visited the Badger Clark Memorial Society via The Corner, because they noted that he wrote the lyrics for “Spanish Is the Lovin’ Tongue”. But among his works on the website, I found “The Job”, which is just indescribably good. A partial quote:

I know you laughed then, while you caught and wrought
The big, swift rapturous outline of your thought.
And then –

I see it now.
O God, forgive my pettish row!
I see your job. While ages crawl
Your lips take laboring lines, your eyes a sadder light,
For man, the fire and flower and center of it all –
Man won’t come right!
After your patient centuries
Fresh starts, recastings, tired Gethsemanes
And tense Golgothas, he, your central theme,
Is just a jangling echo of your dream.
Grand as the rest may be, he ruins it.

Why don’t you quit?
Crumple it all and dream again! But no;
Flaw after flaw, you work it out, revise, refine….

Go read the whole thing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Piro and Seraphim Got Married!

In a development that brought joy to the hearts of all Megatokyo readers/nosey parkers (“When are you two gonna get married?” “Marry her, Fred!” “Don’t you think you should settle down?”), artist Fred “Piro” Gallagher and his lovely SO Seraphim announced on the webcomic today that they’d gotten married in Las Vegas back on New Year’s Eve.

(This no doubt accounts for the unusual beauty and cheerfulness of Ann Arbor this year as I’ve worked on my album.)

Congratulations, Piro and Seraphim! May God bless you and keep you together, and may your lives be long, happy, and prosperous and full of every blessing. Including kids. Remember, it is your geekish duty to enrich the human race with your genes! (More to the point, we think your kids will love having such nifty parents!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Yet Another Mind Test

Via the Old Oligarch, and from Mind Media:

Your Brain Usage Profile

Auditory : 50%
Visual : 50%
Left : 46%
Right : 53%

You are moderately right-hemisphere dominant and have even preferences between auditory and visual processing, traits that might make people perceive you as “slightly off balance.”

You are most likely to be slightly disorganized, a “dreamer” and a person who focuses more on the end result than the immediate task at hand. You are creative and spontaneous if somewhat lacking in direction and focus. You are a learner who is generally patient and a person for whom time is an ally, not an enemy.

You are more passionate than most people with regard to life and learning and recognize your own intuitive abilities. You have sufficient goal-direction to satisfy yourself and guarantee success without being or feeling driven. You are willing to be reflective about yourself and others without getting lost in rumination.

The balance of your sensory modes allows for both learning and expressive capabilities achieved by few. You are active and “seeing” while retaining an equally strong propensity for being reflective which slows you down a little but allows for a more comprehensive perception and analysis of situations and problems. You do not spend excessive time analyzing since you mostly trust your perceptions.

In all likelihood, you have a tendency to overcommit and cannot under- stand why others get upset since you operate on a different “time table” than they do. Your organizational abilities are frequently overwhelmed by the stimulation seeking and active nature of your mind as well as by the tendency to create new categories and gloss over details, making categorization and classification almost impossible at times.

To the extent that your career path allows for creativity and abstraction as well as a bit of disorganization, you should find yourself equipped to handle any learning that is required. Your own personal adjustment to your style should come naturally although you are likely to feel frustrated by your own limited discipline and often wonder “Why?”

I don’t know if this is true of me or not….

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


That Giant Time-Sucking Sound

I was going to go to the movies today. I was all excited about it. But then I discovered something much more interesting and absorbing.

Distributed Proofreaders.

This is soooo sad. I did 50 pages of proofreading this afternoon. Instead of having fun. When my job, this time of the month, is proofreading! But I can’t hellllllp it. I loooove to edit things. In fact, the really sad thing is that this site (since it seeks to recreate the original text, fluffs and all) is not really proofy enough for me.

And still it calls me. I can feel it calling. “Proof me! Proof me!” Aaaaaaaah!

(Anyone who is even vaguely surprised by this doesn’t know me very well. Myers-Briggs has its limitations, but I’m so INTP it’s disgusting. And this is exactly how I write papers. Scary, eh?)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Audio Books

Thanks to my lovely work computer (which puts out radio static you wouldn’t believe), I can’t listen to the radio at work. So I have to rely on my music CDs or audiobook CDs and mp3s. I much prefer the latter. I don’t like to listen to music when I’m doing something else; either it’s too interesting to be background or too background to keep me interested. Also, there’s only so many times you can listen to the same song without getting sick of it. (Which is why commercial radio is the most boring thing on Earth, especially now that the stations’ repertoires are so small.) So it’s audiobooks for me.

If your workplace has a liberal internet policy and a fast pipeline, then the online version of BBC7 is definitely the place to be. They read stories to you, as well as broadcasting classic comedy shows. But alas, I’m out of luck there. So the library is my friend. Library versions of audiobooks are nearly always unabridged. Also, you’ve already paid taxes for them, so if you don’t use the library, you’re wasting your own money. But what if the library isn’t quite enough?

My next recommendation used to be “”, but that’s gone. (For all practical purposes.) So here’s a few good deals. has hundreds of public domain books available for free download and read by human beings. The catch is that the free version is only 8k, which means it sounds like somebody reading a book behind an electric fan in the summertime. But…it is read by human beings with English accents, and the books are really good ones. Naturally, they would like you to pay money and get the better versions…and I admit to being tempted. I’ve spent more than a hundred bucks at a bookstore in my time, and I certainly didn’t get hundreds of audiobook files on DVD for it.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library has an mp3 section. Ruth Lomas does not have an English accent, and you do get to hear her turning the pages. But all in all, I very much enjoyed her reading of Chesterton’s story “The Trees of Pride”. If you ever wanted to read Anna Karenina or the Fioretti, you can download it here!

Radio Gutenberg is the audio download page for Project Gutenberg. They now have audio versions of all the Gutenberg texts of Doyle, Conrad, Dickens, Twain, Wells, Verne, London, Eliot, Defoe, Melville, Hardy, Burroughs, and Wharton, and single audio files by many other authors. This is a great resource for long car trips and the like. The Gutenberg audio archives also include American folksongs performed by Roger McGuinn and old jazz, opera, and classical recordings of public domain pieces, as well as early gramophone records teaching Spanish and typing. This is great stuff.

Wil McCarthy put out his 2003 book The Wellstone in audiobook format for free download. Problem is, it’s not read by a real human being but a voice synthesizer. Even a good voice synthesizer is just that. However, I’ll admit to having been driven by desperation in the past to use the accessibility software on my work computer to read a text file through my headphones while I performed some mindnumbingly boring task, and it’s definitely better than nothing. I applaud Mr. McCarthy’s act of kindness.

This should keep me busy for a while, and maybe even teach me something. Better than mindnumbing boredom any day.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Signs of the Apocalypse

Ken and Barbie broke up. Cathy’s getting married. Clinton made a speech I liked.

Well, whether it’s frogs or toads that start falling from the sky, the Ohio legislature is on the job. This, of course, is only days after dealing with such important and controversial legislation as the Defense of Marriage Act. (Which may actually be the point — a little frivolity to help the legislature recover its internal goodwill.)

Valentine’s Day has become a major holiday in Iran, Pakistan, and India, despite opposition from religion leaders. It is widely regarded as empowering for women. Meanwhile, US feminists are “celebrating” Valentine’s Day by talking about sexual violence against women.

It’s a very strange world.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Attempted School Carjacking

The big story yesterday in Dayton was a student getting shot at Colonel White High School. It’s not in a particularly great area, so most people’s first thought was gangs, not Columbine. All the same, it was pretty sickening to find out it was an attempted carjacking. Allegedly masterminded by a member of the basketball team.

So last night’s basketball game was canceled, and at least the student wasn’t injured too badly. But here’s the quote that made me roll my eyes (although I agree the expensive car is stupid).

Richard Kidd, a school district employee and Adams’ uncle, said driving an expensive car to school is a bad idea.

“Send a kid to school with a $20,000 car with 20-inch rims and of course there’s going to be a carjacking,” Kidd said. “What do you expect?”

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I expect that kids shouldn’t be doing carjackings at all, much less in the school parking lot?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Of Great Size and Commanding Appearance

Irish wolfhound Ch. Arannwood Viking came in 4th in the Hound Group at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show tonight. He looks like a good, strong dog to me, though I thought his neck was kinda big. (But he looked like a big muscle-y dog, so the bigness of the neck may not have been out of line. I saw him on the TV a few moments; what do I know?) Anyway, he’s from New Richmond, Ohio — so go, Buckeyes!

There were some features on helper dogs during USA Network’s broadcast of the show, and one of them was about “reader assistance dogs”. A child learning to read sits with a dog as well as the reading tutor. The dog’s calming presence allows some children to concentrate better on the task at hand instead of worrying about performance and stage fright. I thought this was pretty neat, especially since my mother often allowed our dogs to “sit in” on her home instruction sessions to calm children, or conversely, used seeing the dog at the end of the session as a reward. It was also similar to the work done by the shrinks’ dogs over at Hounds of Heaven.

If you’re interested in Irish wolfhounds (which makes you a right-minded sort of person), you can’t do better than check out the Irish Wolfhound Club of America‘s website. As a right-minded person, you will want plenty of information on the advantages and disadvantages of owning the breed, and how to find a reputable breeder. You will also find sobering stories about wolfhounds whose owners didn’t realize what they were getting into, and so left their dogs in the lurch and in need of rescue.

Speaking of which…my parent’s new IW, Liath — the one rescued from her stunted, shut-in life as breeding stock for a puppy mill — is doing very well indeed. She is now able to go on mile-long walks with my parents, and is confident and happy. I really need to get some pictures of her up on the blog.

Speaking of pictures, here’s some wolfhound art on a Land Rover from the Midgard Project’s Paris gathering page. A running wolfhound at the Irish Wolfhound Club of Scotland. A coursing wolfhound. A gallery of photos from a fun match by the IW Club of the Delaware Valley.

And now for something completely different. The London Irish rugby team’s mascot is Digger the Irish Wolfhound. What a great costume! If you look under Matchday Mascots, you’ll see the real Irish wolfhound mascot who helps Digger out.

Finally, if you ever wondered what it looks like to have people come up to your dog and make jokes about horses, check out the IWCA booth at Eukanuba’s “Meet the Breeds”. A perfect illustration of all the stages of meeting wolfhounds: people holding back in fright, children approaching hounds in awe after being reassured of their safety, the guy who hangs back to talk a little longer, the wolfhound who gets bored and lies down, the children who suddenly materialize once the wolfhound is down on their level…oh, yes, I’ve been there.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


On Grammatical Correctness

Over on Confessions of a Recovering Choir Director, there’s an interesting letter from a ‘Russian rite emigrant. Of course, what I noticed was the comments about the “grammatically correct” phrase, ‘up with which I will not put’.

Well, there’s grammar and then there’s grammar. Frankly, there are many grammar rules taught in English class which are far from being correct English grammar. But then, “American Standard English” is not English as she is really spoken; it’s English as it’s useful to pretend we speak and write. It is the job of an English teacher to preserve structures which, on the whole, are no longer in use and no longer easily intelligible. In many cases, we never used them. Many grammar rules are derived from Latin usage and were imposed on English, and grammar students, in an attempt to “improve” style.

For example, English has always been able to end sentences with prepositions, from Old English on. It’s one of English’s more useful and beautiful quirks. And what’s really wrong with “ain’t” as an abbreviation for “am not”? It’s not any uglier or younger than “won’t” or “don’t”.

But in American Standard English, it is correct to observe and teach nonsensical rules. It is important to preserve a formal dialect that all English speakers and readers can understand. If that means kids have to learn the now-reversed meanings of “will” vs. “shall”, or non-phonetic spellings — well, so be it. That is the sort of thing up with which members of a civilization must put.

Just don’t call it “correct”. It’s wrong as heck. The real rules of speaking English are being abused by such a malformation of the tongue. But it’s “standard”, we have to know it, and sometimes formality makes us use it. That’s good enough.

Dr. Language on ending a sentence with a preposition, the second person plural, ‘This is she’, and ain’t.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Chicago TV Log

The only channel in the US showing Airwolf reruns is in Chicago. Did my hotel have this station? No…. But I did get to see Jan-Michael Vincent in Defiance. (It was on Showtime on Friday morning for some reason.) This was a great little 1980 movie about a New York neighborhood living in fear of a gang. JMV, as merchant sailor Tommy Gamble, is the reluctant hero who ends up leading the neighborhood to take back its own. Well written, well acted, well made in all ways. Even the villain, Angel, was a figure painted in shades of gray. At one point he jokes nastily to another character that he’d been off applying for a stockbroker’s job. The character, an older man, says sadly that Angel could have done that. For a moment, Angel is ashamed…and for the rest of the movie, you can’t just view him as a stock thug.

Of course I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. Good call about not watching the halftime show. But I found myself flipping and flipping instead of napping like I should’ve. Then, this morning I woke up way too early. I caught a good Speed Racer episode on the Speed Channel, and then found myself watching a rerun of a “classic” race in Sweden, which took place in the winter and featured little compact cars slipping and sliding around on snow-covered dirt roads. Heh. Finally, a race which reflects normal driving skills.

But I am beginning to feel as if the St. Blog Collective is taking over my mind. I’m actually starting to be able to watch EWTN programs (ones that aren’t in Spanish, even!) without thinking they’re incredibly weird and cheesy. I really enjoyed watching the Catechism program on Sunday night. Watching a rerun of Father Groeschel’s show on hope was poignant, considering his ongoing recovery from his injuries. I’m looking forward to seeing Scott Hahn, too…. AHHHHHHHH!

It occurs to me, though, that maybe one reason Joy has always been able to get into EWTN more than me is that there are quite a few former Evangelicals in the EWTN community, and thus there’s a small strand of familiarity in the culture. Meanwhile– and not that this is necessarily a bad thing; it just is — there’s not much of the Cincinnati Archdiocese/St. Anthony’s Messenger style in EWTN. So of course it struck me as being over the top and cheesy, when in fact the people on these shows really act that way. Now that I’ve had a chance to get accustomed to a more “traditional” style as well as the Evangelical one, I can get past the medium to understand the message.

Still, I bet Amy Welborn, being from Indiana, would be a little bit more homey to me. But what about Steubenville, you ask? Well, really, the eastern border of Ohio is about as different from the southwest where I live as night is from day. Totally different culture, thanks to the settlement pattern. Hoosiers are different, but not that different.

But let’s face it; I’ve gotten used to being different. If I ever found myself smack dab in the middle of a peer group that conformed comfortably to me, it’d probably make me so uneasy I’d get hives. So I don’t really expect EWTN to be any exception.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized