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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Will there be angels?"



Happy almost Palm Sunday. Here's an interestingly different scene of Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, from the film The Last Temptation of Christ. I did see the movie long ago but I forgot about this part. As Jesus and his disciples head for Jerusalem, Peter nervously asks Jesus a question from all the disciples ... "Will there be angels there to meet us, or anyone besides who's here?" Jesus doesn't answer, just smiles and puts his arm around Peter's shoulders :) ...


Photos

This is the best time of the year to take photos in the yard - you can hardly tell there's a drought and all the plants look happy :)

New leaves ...



Mouse smells a branch ...



The Thomson Seedless grape plant is sprouting new leaves ...



Lucy on a dead tree ...



This scary tree reminds me of something you'd find among the brambles surrounding Sleeping Beauty's castle ....


Friday, March 27, 2015

More about he Fifth Gospel



I'm about half way done with The Fifth Gospel: A Novel by Ian Caldwell and I like it a lot. Here's a bit from a blurb at the Amazon page ...

In 2004, as Pope John Paul II’s reign enters its twilight, a mysterious exhibit is under construction at the Vatican Museums. A week before it is scheduled to open, its curator is murdered at a clandestine meeting on the outskirts of Rome. That same night, a violent break-in rocks the home of the curator’s research partner, Father Alex Andreou, a Greek Catholic priest who lives inside the Vatican with his five-year-old son. When the papal police fail to identify a suspect in either crime, Father Alex, desperate to keep his family safe, undertakes his own investigation. To find the killer he must reconstruct the dead curator’s secret: what the four Christian gospels—and a little-known, true-to-life fifth gospel known as the Diatessaron—reveal about the Church’s most controversial holy relic. But just as he begins to understand the truth about his friend’s death and its consequences for the future of the world’s two largest Christian Churches, Father Alex finds himself hunted down by someone with a vested stake in the exhibit—someone he must outwit to survive.

Some of the interesting things for me ...

The Diatessaron comes into play, found in the Vatican library ...



The Diatessaron is ... the most prominent early Gospel harmony; and was created by Tatian, an early Christian Assyrian apologist and ascetic. Tatian sought to combine all the textual material he found in the four gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—into a single coherent narrative of Jesus's life and death.

Some of the characters stay at he Domus Sanctæ Marthæ, the 'Vatican hotel' where Pope Francis now lives ...



And they visit Mater Ecclesiae , the tiny monastery on the Vatican Hill where B16 now lives ...



They also get a chance to visit the gardens at Castel Gandolfo ...



And one of the characters is a Swiss Guard ...



It's almost like visiting Vatican City :)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Babies!

Today I came upon two little kittens in the garage. Apparently one of the stray cats I've been feeding had them, but no mother was in sight. I've been trying to get all the stray cats here spayed and neutered but it's slow going trying to coordinate catching them, finding a ride to the vet, and having an appointment for surgery - so far only two have been spayed out of six females. Fortunately the vet agreed to take the kittens and find homes for them with a donation from me. I hope they find good homes! They were so tiny and cute :) Here they are asleep before I took them to the vet ...


Spielberg to do Ready Player One



In the news - Steven Spielberg will direct pop culture thriller ‘Ready Player One’

This is one of my favorite books of all time and I'm looking forward to the movie. I wrote about the book in a past post ....

"This adrenaline shot of uncut geekdom, a quest through a virtual world, is loaded with enough 1980s nostalgia to please even the most devoted John Hughes fans… sweet, self-deprecating Wade, whose universe is an odd mix of the real past and the virtual present, is the perfect lovable/unlikely hero.”—Publishers Weekly, Pick of the Week

My latest book from the library is Ready Player One, a 2011 science fiction novel by Ernest Cline. Here's a description of the story on the Amazon page, where it's garnered over 5,000 reviews ...

Ready Player One takes place in the not-so-distant future--the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (or at least they can meet their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday’s fortune. But Halliday has not made it easy. And there are real dangers in this virtual world. Stuffed to the gills with action, puzzles, nerdy romance, and 80s nostalgia, this high energy cyber-quest will make geeks everywhere feel like they were separated at birth from author Ernest Cline.

I'm only a bit into it so far, the audio version which has Wil Wheaton reading, but I like it! Found this video which plays the audio version of the first chapter of the book, so if you listen to it, you'll hear what I've just listened to on disk - enjoy :) .....


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The mini-forest

Springtime with the trees here in the yard :)

The sequoia trees ...



The ubiquitous privets ...



The unknown little trees by the bird feeder/bath ...



A mostly dead apricot tree ...



Some plums ....



The little oaks that make oak balls ...



The big beautiful oaks ...



More big oaks ...


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More links



- Yay :) ‘The X-Files’ to Return for Six-Episode Limited Series

- 'Finding Jesus': James, brother of Jesus Q&A from Candida Moss

- In defense of Cardinal Keith O'Brien, sort of

- What Does Worship Look Like From A Priest's Point Of View? (PHOTOS)

- It's Museum Week at Oxford University

Monday, March 23, 2015

Links

- From Candida Moss: What the Hell Is the Purpose of Hell?

- Richard III returns to Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king fell 530 years ago. I like the Plantagenets - who can't like a royal line one of the kings of which shows up in Robin Hood movies? ;) But try telling someone you're a fan ... Frasier at the bookstore: Frasier: Do you have a book on the Plantagenets? Clerk: That's like a banana, right ?

- Wow! ...



- Tee hee ;) For those who are fans of John Carpenter's The Thing and who liked Frozen (or who, like me, learned about Kristoff and his reindeer Sven through Once Upon a Time), this video may be for you, but beware: x-rated for violence and language ...


Photos

It rained last night and you can still see a rain drop on one of these orange blossom petals. They smell so good! ...



More flowers, violets and a white mystery flower ...



Olive the cat is following me around as I take pics ...



Looking across the street, I can see a fuzzy purple blob which my sister tells me is the neighbor's lavender bush. This is one of the reasons I like taking photos ... I can see stuff in a photo that I can't see in real life because of my bad eyesight. Here's the lovely lavender ...


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau



Today my France calendar has a photo of the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau ...

located in the town of Azay-le-Rideau in the French département of Indre-et-Loire. Built between 1518 and 1527, this château is considered one of the foremost examples of early French renaissance architecture. Set on an island in the middle of the Indre river, this picturesque château has become one of the most popular of the châteaux of the Loire valley.

Here are some more photos of the Château from Wikipedia Commons ...


- The salamander, badge of Francis I of France, with his motto: "Nutrisco et extinguo" ("I nourish and extinguish")








Friday, March 20, 2015

Healing Light: A Celtic prayer

This song in my head today, from Karl Jenkins' The Peacemakers album. You can see it performed here too but I like this version better ....



Healing Light: A Celtic prayer (Anon)

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you

Amen
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.

Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

Amen
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.

Deep peace of Christ, The light of the world to you
Deep peace of Christ to you.
Deep peace of Christ, The light of the world to you

Amen
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien's ...

... reward punishment:



In the news, Pope Francis accepts Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien's resignation ...

Pope Francis has accepted the decision of the former leader of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, to step down from clerical duties over allegations of sexual misconduct. O’Brien will retain his title, but he will be reduced to a strictly private life ...

This story comes right after a report in the news that the church has bought O'Brien a home worth £208,750 ($312,849) in Northumberland in which to live.

One will remember that in early 2013, three priests and a former priest in Scotland had reported that O'Brien had sexually harassed them (UK's top cardinal accused of 'inappropriate acts' by priests).

It has taken the Vatican two years to respond to what O'Brien did. We're told O'Brien has now resigned from "clerical duties" but he had already tendered his resignation as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh to B16 in 2012, to take effect on his 75th birthday in March 2013, and it was accepted by Benedict. It appears then that Pope Francis' punishment of O'Brien consists only in O'Brien remaining a cardinal who has no responsibilities and a nice new home. The mind boggles :(

More on this from David Gibson - Scandal-scarred Cardinal Keith O’Brien renounces ‘rights and privileges’ of his office

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Was Judas really a bad guy?


- Jesus and Judas, from Jesus of Nazareth

Read Mark Goodacre's latest article on CNN's "Finding Jesus" series ... 'Finding Jesus': Judas Q&A. It's about the Gospel of Judas, a non-canonical gospel that opines that Judas wasn't a betrayer but was asked by Jesus to sell him out. Here's a talk given by Bart Ehrman about the gospel ...



Archbishop Philip Wilson

In the news - Archbishop Philip Wilson becomes world's most senior Catholic charged with concealing child abuse ...

Former Hunter priest Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has become the most senior Catholic clergyman in the world to be charged with concealing a child sex abuse allegation against another priest on what a Hunter paedophile priest victim has described as "a Saint Patrick's Day we'll never forget" .... He is one of only a handful of Catholic clergymen in the world to be charged with concealing a child sex allegation against another priest ...

The church under Pope Francis has done nothing about holding bishops and cardinals who have covered up sex abuse accountable ... Finn, though convicted, has never been even criticized by the Vatican, much less removed, and men like Mahony (Los Angeles Cardinal Hid Abuse, Files Show), and Law (How the Boston Globe exposed the abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic church), and Brady (Irish cardinal refuses to quit amid court case over paedophilia 'cover-up'), though known to have covered up abuse, have also gone uncriticized and unpunished by the Vatican (an abuse victim asked Francis specifically to remove Brady, but he demurred: Irish abuse victim tells Pope she wants Cardinal Brady removed).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day :)


- Detail from a stained glass window of St. Patrick, Church of St. Mary and St. Michael, New Ross‎, Ireland

Some music from FullSet to celebrate ...


Monday, March 16, 2015

The Fifth Gospel: A Novel



The latest book I'm reading is The Fifth Gospel: A Novel by Ian Caldwell. So far I like it.

Kirkus Review calls it "a brilliant work " and you can read a review of it at The New York Times ... Review: 'Rule of Four' Author Thrills With Vatican Mystery. Here's a bit of it ...

The curator of a groundbreaking exhibit at the Vatican dies mysteriously hours before its premiere .... Caldwell's new novel is set in the waning years of John Paul II's papacy. The protagonist is Father Alex Andreou, a Greek Catholic priest who lives inside the Vatican with his 5-year-old son and who has been helping research the upcoming exhibit. The suspect in the curator's death is Andreou's brother, Simon, a Roman Catholic priest rising rapidly through the Vatican's diplomatic ranks.

Greek Catholics observe the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church while obeying the Roman Catholic pope. Unlike the Roman Catholic priests with whom they serve, Greek Catholic priests can marry and have families. A relatively small group, they are a remnant of the 1,000-year-old split between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

As Alex Andreou works to clear his brother of their friend's murder, he learns that information crucial to bringing the churches together — or keeping them apart — could lie in a fifth gospel the curator discovered in the bowels of the Vatican library. The question is: Who would kill to keep it secret? ....


And here's a video of the author talking about the Vatican ...


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Atonement and the Fourth Week of Lent


- the Gero Crucifix in Cologne cathedral

The gospel reading, John 3:14-21, has Jesus talking to Nicodemus. I like watching the movie version of this bit of the gospel with Henry Ian Cusick as Jesus ....



But what does it all mean? I don't know, but I've posted various views on atonement over the years. Here are some of them ...

- He Who Made the Sea (NT Wright)

- James Alison / Atonement

- John Milbank / Sacrifice

- David Hart / Atonement

- Gustav Aulen, David Hart, and Atonement

- Jeffrey John

- Duns Scotus and atonement

- St. Tommy, Keith Ward, and atonement

- More about Steve Chalke

My own feeling about atonement is that it's a theory created to explain why things seemed to have gone so terribly wrong when Jesus was killed ... I don't believe in it. I like what Richard Leonard SJ wrote ...

God did not need the blood of Jesus. Jesus did not just come ‘to die’ but God used his death to announce the end to death. This is the domain of ‘offer it up’ theology: it was good enough for Jesus to suffer; it is good enough for you. While I am aware of St Paul in Romans, St Clement of Alexandria, St Anselm of Canterbury and later John Calvin’s work on atonement theory and satisfaction theology, I cannot baldly accept that the perfect God of love set [us] up for a fall in the Fall, then got so angry with us that only the grisly death of his perfect son was going to repair the breach between us. This is not the only way into the mystery of Holy Week. For most of Christian history the question that has vexed many believers seems to be, ‘Why did Jesus die?’ I think it is the wrong question. The right one is ‘Why was Jesus killed?’ And that puts the last days of Jesus’ suffering and death in an entirely new perspective. Jesus did not simply and only come to die. Rather, Jesus came to live. As a result of the courageous and radical way he lived his life, and the saving love he embodied for all humanity, he threatened the political, social and religious authorities of his day so much that they executed him. But God had the last word on Good Friday: Easter Sunday.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Photos

Some flowers in the yard ...






Friday, March 13, 2015

Links

- From Notre Dame philosophy professor Gary Gutting: Unraveling the Church Ban on Gay Sex ... [T]he church needs to undertake a thorough rethinking of its teachings on sexual ethics, including premarital sex, masturbation and remarriage after divorce. In every case, the old arguments no longer work (if they ever did), and a vast number of Catholics reject the teachings. It’s time for the church to realize that its sexual ethics are philosophically untenable and theologically unnecessary.

- Remember when Cardinal Dolan hid $55 million in church assets from abuse victim claimants in a bankruptcy case and got away with it? It gets worse ... The tortured consequences of a ‘religious freedom’ law

- PETA's Virginia shelter has a high euthanasia rate. When I contacted PETA about the stray/feral cats I was trying to find homes for, they actually suggested I have them all euthanized. This is creepy.

- :) ...



- Iron Man! The Collective Project: Robert Downey Jr. Delivers a Real Bionic Arm ...


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Roses gardens

I like rose gardens. Just looking at them makes me feel happy, I think because they remind me of my grandparents' house. Here are photos of some from Wikipedia ....


- Rosarium Winschoten,, Netherlands


- Parc de Bagatelle in Paris


- Coloma Rose Garden, Belgium


- Rosengarten Bamberg, Bavaria


- Rose garden at Hever Castle, UK


- Bad Sauerbrunn Rosarium, Austria


- Allée de roses, Jardin des Plantes, Paris