Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The mad monk at the church door

At one time when one was speaking of the mad monk, two historical personages would have been suspect -- either Rasputin or Luther. Once I did a computer engine search of "mad monk" and only Rasputin came up. Has the myth of Luther brushed aside his skeptics and cynics?

In the middle ages it was understood by all that the intellect or intelligence was the highest mental attribute. Luther put the will above the intellect. A child is willful, but unlearned and immature. Any idiot can be willful, all tyrants are. This is Luther's contribution to theology and western civilisation.

Luther was not well schooled in scholasticism, but he knew he hated it. Luther publicly burned the written works of Saint Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the possessor of the greatest human mind and most learned of men. The Dominicans would be Luther's constant thorn.
On a great map like the mind of Aquinas, the mind of Luther would be almost invisible. -- G.K. Chesterton
The legendary fiction of the posting of 95 theses on the Witttenberg castle church's door is still repeated and accepted as a fantastic vignette of history. Erwin Iserloh in 1961 scholarly demolished that myth, but still the textbooks print the falsity of the nailing. The story first appeared after Luther's death, written by Philipp Melanchthon, and no one recorded Luther ever speaking of it, but on the last day of October 1517 he did mail letters to the Bishop of Brandenburg, and the Archbishop of Magdeburg and Mainz.

Much has been changed to glorify Luther. For all of those who approve of the Protestant rebellion, he is the heresiarch hero. Just as the chopping down of the cherry tree was invented for Washington's hagiography, so were events for Martin.

Luther proclaimed the non-biblical sola scriptura argument, that he could only make after he denied the canonicity of the Epistle of Saint James. When he misquoted scripture, his loud response would be, "Tell them that Dr. Martin Luther will have it so!" So authority rested with him. So this is the foundation of Luther's pronounciamento, the clarion call of protestantism and modern man.

Luther first became a monk, by his own reckoning, to fulfill an oath, "St. Anne help me! I will become a monk", he pledged during a thunder and lightning storm that terrified him, near Stotterheim on the second of July 1505. This moment of sturm und drang must be a moment when his rationality is a question.

He was a fearful man, yet morally scrupulous to the obsessive extreme. He could not, in his own mind, justify and make reconciliation with God. In substitution for absolution, he misunderstands grace. He also did not understand that good works were a grace. In his addled algebra he advises, "to sin boldly".

He was a new Mohammed*. His new religion, with the aid of the sword and a new distribution and concentration of wealth, would change the faith of many Catholic lands into a new and strange creed.

He was also a flippant, foul mouthed boor, who was fixated on his bowels and their product. The reformation had its ontogenesis on the privy†, one can wonder, if he were to have been prescribed an effective laxative, that all of Germany would have remained Catholic and Nazism would not have come into existence. Luther was not only a necessary antecedent for Calvin, but also for Nietzsche and Hitler.

The anglican John Osborne wrote a very good play in 1961 about Luther and Stacy Keach portrayed the rôle on film in 1973. Before this, there was: Erik Erikson's Young Man Luther (1958), a psychological biography and Hartmann Grisar's (1845-1932) multi volume biography and a single volume one. All of these are a corrective to the portrait many cherish of the reformer.
* I cannot find the reference, but it may have been, Sylvester Mazzolini da Prierio, the master of the sacred palace, papal theologian, who in response to Leo X's question, "Who is this Luther?", answered...

† "in cloaca" "das Klo" -- In October 2004, there was discovered his thinking room in Wittenberg.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Russian reading room

October 30th 1821 O.S.* (we are using new style dating, an event that occurred on old style dating of October 30th would not be today), saw the birth of Fjedor Mikhajlovič Dostoevskij (Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский), he did not see sixty. The correction calculation, our calendraic adjustment, is to the eleventh of November, an already, busy commemoration.

I had classes with two extra fine professors, Carl Gustavson and Edgar Whan, and I cannot remember, with absolute certainty, which gentleman suggested that each library ought to have a russian reading room. The other would have seconded the motion. Accumulating snow outside, big overstuffed chairs, a fireplace, balalaikas on the wall and a large samovar on the table would add a 19th century air to the room, a couple of lacquered boxes on the mantle and icons of St. George and Our Lady of Kazan, further still, for remember: the phrase was always -- Holy Mother Russia.

I know that not everyone is interested in an education that imparts erudition. Still, an educated man should have familiarity with the fruits of western civilisation. The oeuvre of russian literature is a pearl of great worth that is denied,only, by blockheads.

I enjoy humor, the classic set jokes, the elephant situ. To truncate one: students in a swiss boarding school must write an essay about our elephant, each boy wrote one with a characteristic national interest, the russian boy wrote about the elephant and the cosmos. This is the manner of thought that aspires to know the largest picture, man's role in existence.

Fjedor Mikhajlovič suggested that all of russian literature came from under Gogol's cloak. The comedy of Gogol, in having a poor clerk investing his psyche and worth in cloth, or a nose coming bodily alive to walk in a cathedral, or the selling of dead souls, is humor in profound pathos. Russian humor had gravitas and an edifying aspect. We all are significant beings, but we are in relation to all men and unto God.

In the writings of Lev Nikolajovič Tolstoj we have, above all the panoramic spread of War and Peace, a book so large that one needs a boot with a metatarsal guard to protect the foot from its falling. Now, there are two new english translations. Lev Nikolajovič saw war, he had carried the gun, and became a pacifist. He was so intensely so, that, it led to excommunication from the russian church. Without Tolstoj would we have had all of Gandhi's commitment and without Gandhi would King have been a giant? We follow paths cut by others. An occasional couple of hours, in that reading room, would do us all well.

*To correct the Julian calendar, the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582†. The Gregory was Pope Gregory XIII, for this reason certain countries delayed adoption. This led to certain oddities, e.g., Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same date, they did not die on the same day. In Spain, St George's day, 23 April 1616 N.S. was a Saturday. Ten days later, a Tuesday in England, was 23 April 1616 O.S.. Voltaire, whose pithy and sarcastic, sharp wit is attributed many observations, explains this thusly: "The English mob preferred their calendar to disagree with the Sun than to agree with the Pope". They changed their minds with the Act of 1751, which had the14th of September, 1752 follow immediately after the 2nd. Russia maintained the Julian calendar to the revolution, the russian church still does.

†The day after October 5, 1582 was October 16, 1582.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Catholic perspective on bush junior

In a recent number of Our Sunday Visitor, the cover story graded gwbushjr from a catholic perspective. Mr. Shaw’s article was either carefully vetted or self censored. A catholic perspective would necessarily contain a humanitarian and social justice view and a political stance on fair play and justice.

bush came to power extra constitutionally and by electoral fraud. His total disregard for the Constitution will be his greatest legacy to american political life and history. His desire for war and torture and obliviousness to its repercussions must be noted. One may be defined by his professed views, but one’s actions prove the case. Catholic theology has always maintained that the means do not justify the ends. bush and his ilk, and his base have no scruples about means. A catholic perspective on bush, must be that, he is a miserable and dangerous failure.

Monday, October 22, 2007

There are no bush bashers

They deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth. -- Plato

Unfortunately, ‘I told you so,’ is an incredibly unsuccessful campaign slogan.-- Howard Dean

There are no bush bashers. Republicans cannot win many arguments with truth, facts, evidence or logic. They do quite well with definition of terms and picking agenda. Of course, they can do this simultaneously with what they cannot do well.

The main tool they have in their toolbox is the hammer of character assassination. They have invented the term “bush bashing
to discredit and belittle any critic of bush, for they will try to prevent all criticism of him, and that includes factual descriptions.*

No one uses the term Hoover bashing, or Hitler bashing, or Nietzsche bashing, or Darwin bashing, or Byrd bashing, or Kennedy bashing. No matter how repugnant some ideas or deeds of men were, or how controversial an opponent is or was, has the term basher been applied to their critic automatically as a compound word, sort of the way damn yankee was used in the south for generations as one word.

The Republicans have played the table in fixing the course of debate. Never have they followed Aristotle or Cicero or any classical rhetorician. They use the big lie and have the greatest contempt for the american public.
*Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. -- Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Earl and Samantha versus bad television

Most television is unwatchable. Daytime programs are wretched and have little or no interest to men: Baba Wawa's kaffeklatsch -- a torturing device, game shows, soap operas, relationship chat shows; all this assorted dreck. What passes for local "news": fires, car wrecks, murders are all sad, but are all the same,* and the lifestyle segments -- what can the housewife do to interest herself and the like have less gravitas than dandelion fluff.

The popular reality genre is often despicable: Survivor, let us put people outside of civilisation and manipulate them into social darwinism experiments, then there is the show where people compete in eating roadkill viscera while a "host" cheer leads and berates them. But the worst was The Mole, where within the group there is a Judas/spion/provocateur. I only saw the advertisements and am, thusly, spared any recalling of events.

Fox programming is aggressively going for the least common denominator and fascist inculcation. The national newsy programs give little news and also are pursuing news light, when not giving further display and credence to the corporate, moneyed, movements "conservative"† party line non-reality version of things. God rest the soul of Edward R. Murrow.

Two programs that may shine from this dung heap are My Name is Earl and Samantha Who? The premises are wonderful. Earl confesses and takes responsibility for his former bad actions and attempts to make amends for all of them, and as a corollary benefit: those around him become better too. I have seen only one episode of Samantha, whom awakes from a coma without knowing whom she is and finds out that she does not like that person. It seems her instincts are to be a better person than she was.

These two speak of resurrection and redemption of the human soul. They ask what is a man truly? what is his nature? Both Earl and Samantha are trying to be the persons they should be, their genuine selves, their selves before the fall. There may be more philosophy and ethics in these two comedies than anything on television since Bishop Fulton Sheen was on Dumont.

* I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or ... we never need read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications? -- Henry David Thoreau in Walden

† a more apropos term would be anti-democratic.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sister Simone Campbell

I heard Simone Campbell S.S.S. speak 26 July 2007 at Borromeo seminary outside Cleveland. She was speaking on catholic social teaching. She mentioned four moments from the New Testament:

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The Calling of Saint Matthew c.1600. Contarelli Chapel, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome.

And when Jesus passed on from hence, he saw a man sitting in the custom house, named Matthew; and he saith to him: Follow me. And he rose up and followed him. — Matthew ix. 9

  1. Matthew being called by Jesus (the night before, the local PBS station telecast Simon Schama’s program on Caravaggio)
  2. The believing centurion, who requested Jesus to heal his sick child
  3. The Samaritan woman at the well, an outcast, who Jesus asked for aid
  4. Pentecost, where the Spirit came to the apostles, so that, they could be heard, in different tongues
And, also, Isaias, who, taught us to:
  1. bring glad tidings to the poor
  2. bring sight to the blind
  3. set the captives free
  4. bring freedom to the oppressed
These biblical moments are the examples and goals of a christian people to do the work of God upon earth. To side with the poor and the outcast, be one with them, all men helping each other with the love of God and to listen when He calls and freely and bravely to do so.

She lobbies Congress for Network, a Catholic social justice organization. The two biggest issues, now, are Iraq and immigration. There she achieves few victories. She mentioned several books to read for better appreciation of the political situation, and she read her poems. She believes, and as a former lawyer, she advocates with words and arguments what her
faith demands.

Sister Campbell contrasted “the war on terror
to Pentecost's leaving fear. She contrasted, our dear, sainted, departed John Paul II with the american public. The Holy Father, always and firmly, was against preventative war. You should remember how many times he quoted scripture, Do not be afraid. Whereas, here in the US, it is a desperate victimhood, where anything is permitted in supposed defense.

Part of her lobbying is to convince the Congress to invest in the Iraqui people and not in corporations. It is tough sledding. Few in Congress let Jesus touch their hearts, and their staffs run interference to make sure.

Sister Campbell mentioned four, who listened, cared and wanted to do the right thing. In the Senate, the Republican senator from Indiana, Richard Lugar, who we see in the news making noises to do right, but still doesn’t, or at least hasn’t broken from Bush, and Joseph Biden of Delaware. In the House, North Carolina’s Walter Jones, a recent convert to the one, true church, and Maryland’s Wayne Gilchrest.

Mr. Biden’s acknowledges his enthusiasm for the active Catholic social faith he always had. There is an article in the Christian Science Monitor that details him. As president, America would righten its course a great deal with him in office.

Now, the two house members are endangered in their own parties. Gilchrest, the rare moderate to liberal in his party, and the conservative, former Democrat, Jones are facing primary election challenges. They are among the less than a handful in the house who vote against Bush and did so when they were in the majority. Such voting of conscience is greatly frowned upon amongst the rank and file of Republicans, their leaders and primary voters. Politicians always look to the next election, and these two men may not be there after 2008.

To be true to Jesus and your brother man or to be elected is a dilemma. One chooses to be a follower of Christ or a follower to the baser moral and social elements of societal power.
post scriptum: Wayne Gilchrest lost in the February 12th primary.
Two days later, Gilchrest, Jones and Ron Paul were the only Republican representatives to vote in defense of the Constitution and voted to hold Bolten and Miers in contempt.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Por Dios y por España

There is something majestic in the sound of, "I claim this land for God and for Spain".

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Day Bobby Died

The day Bobby died, 6 June 1968, was an extremely tragic moment for America and, therefore, the world. Thomas Carlyle had a theory of history, that, history was shaped by the great men and their actions. No more momentous turning point of change, has there been in my lifetime, than, that which, occurred in the last generation, that of the death of Robert Francis Kennedy.

For one of many things, Bobby would have defeated Nixon. Life without Nixon, would have brought the Vietnam war to an end, years and lives earlier. The US would have enjoyed a better place in the eyes of the world and a better economy. The social problems that eat away at this country would have been lessened by great degrees. The Republican hegemony would not have happened. Bobby would have been president for eight years.

No Nixon, would have meant that G.H.W. Bush would have been sent to obscurity and his progeny would not have beleaguered the world. The current war would not be! Kennedy as president would have made Latin America a more peaceful and successful place. Oscar Romero would have lived and there would have been no Iran-contragate, for there would have been less need of revolt and bloodshed and the criminality and the extra-constitutionality of Watergate would not have been precedents for further erosion of law and justice.

One doubts that Ronald Reagan would have been able to mount a successful campaign in 1976. The Republican desire for the revenge for the failed Nixon would not have existed. The Iran situation would have been different and could not have been exploited by Casey for Reagan, as it was in 1980, and, that alone, gave him victory.

The greed of the Reagan-Bush minions would have been kept in check. Communism would have fell in 1989 anyhow, for Reagan and the role of the US were peripheral and minor and just economically costly.

The cause of the working man and the minorities would have advanced and without the ugly resistance caused by the Republicans, their corporate sponsors and ignorant followers. In such an environment NAFTA would not have come, Walmart would not have been able to get away with its tricks. Disparities in income would reflect western Europe and not the third world.

What sort of Republicans would there have been? So much of their apparatus would have been quashed. Would they have been a respectable and moderate party instead of the fascists, that, they are?

With the death of Bobby, the Catholic moment of US history and culture failed to come. The social and religious emphasis of Cesar Chavez, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and the martyred religious of Latin America [in fact the US aided their assassins and trained some of them] did not advance here, neither has the views of the last or current pontiff. The Sermon on the Mount has a very small audience since that black, black day.

Don McLean sang of the day the music died in '59 in the aeroplane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly and his companions. It was more than bad news on the doorstep, the day democracy died, when the bullets took the life of Bobby.

"Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence." -- spoken 6 June 1966 Capetown

"Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it." -- from his last speech

Monday, October 8, 2007

Another installment of outrageous republicans

#1 Jack Kingston, a congressman of Georgia, introduced a resolution to commend the wealthy, druggie, radio mouth Limbaugh, after some Democrats took Limbaugh to task, for equating soldiers who criticize the war as traitors. Remember, Limbaugh is one of the myriad of Republican supporters of war who made sure he didn't wear the uniform, himself, under any circumstances.

Who knows who is Kingston outside of Georgia? On the scale of metrics, he is more extreme than Delay in voting patterns and issues. He is tightly on the side of bushjr. When the Democrats regained the House he whined loudly about having to work a five day week, he for himself demands three; of course, someone working 72 hours a week at minimum wage should shut up.

#2 Larry Craig, a senator of Idaho, typical republican hypocrite, is now involved in a public soap opera. Craig was one of those who publically scolded Bill Clinton about his sexual infidelity. Perhaps, in comparison to himself, one is naughty to cheat on his wife with a woman, but not so with many anonymous men. His fellow staters have not made it clear to the nation on what they think of him.

Now, David Vitter, a senator of Louisiana, another republican hypocrite, has been caught several times with his pants down with rented wives by the night and hour. Still he does not make the status of his colleagues on that alone.

#3 David Dreier, a congressman of southern California, who would be Republican minority leader, save for the fact, that, he keeps his sodomite playmate as his chief of staff. He was Delay's man.
The Republicans are the party of unrestricted wealth and hypocrisy. They are ripe with decadence and perverson, a priori and, by definition. No one should be surprised by any scandal they are part of.

#4 Any Republican who was for the impeachment of Clinton and is not for the impeachment of Bush junior is a hypocrite most foul. They are enemies of the Constitution and a clear and present danger to the Republic.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Debasement of language

The debasement of american english: conservative, military and even ...

Republicans say they are conservatives with conservative values. I, posit, that I am a conservative and no Republican. Very few Republicans follow conservative principles*, they are merely Republicans (approaching fascism). There are principles that are what they are, irrespective of whom abides by them. This absolute loyalty to one's party or class does not respect principle. The Republicans are loathe to criticize or acknowledge the transgressions of their own. To be consistent with one's stated position necessitates open disagreement with others who are not. Reagan may have, jocularly, issued an eleventh commandment, but it holds stronger than the other ten .

Edmund Burke portrait. Joshua Reynolds studio. c.1768. London.
A political thinker that is recognized as a conservative is Edmund Burke (1729-97). Compare this list of his aphorisms with today's established power and george junior, and see, to what degree, are Republicans conservative? And if I, were to, give you more quotes from Saint Augustine and other men of conservative principle, would that drive the point home?
  • Among a people generally corrupt liberty cannot long exist.
  • Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.
  • But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.
  • But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.
  • Falsehood is a perennial spring.
  • Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.
  • I venture to say no war can be long carried on against the will of the people.
  • If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.
  • In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority.
  • It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.
  • It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.
  • Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.
  • Kings will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels from principle.
  • Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.
  • No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
  • One that confounds good and evil is an enemy to good.
  • Our patience will achieve more than our force.
  • People crushed by laws, have no hope but to evade power. If the laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to the law; and those who have most to hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous.
  • The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.
  • The march of the human mind is slow.
  • The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
  • The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.
  • There is but one law for all, namely that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity - the law of nature and of nations.
  • Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.
  • Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the midst of all their power; but they will never look to anything but power for their relief.
  • To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.
Air Force Colonel David Opfer is the spiritual founder of Fox News [sic]. Fox's premise is that the establishment media is liberally biased [sic], so it presents "the news" for you to decide. David Opfer, is an individual, that, I know virtually nothing about, but he is emblematic for the one sentence he spoke in a fit of perturbence. He was upset about the reporting on the war he was involved in, and he complained, "You always write it's bombing, bombing, bombing. It's not bombing, it's air support".

Here it is in miniature. The accuracy and truth of observation should be suppressed to support the goal and programs of those in power. Military euphemism is quite de rigeur in today's America, death and destruction is replaced with words that connotate reality obliquely. The logic of Christ tells us,"But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil". --Matthew v.37. This language of creative euphemism is dishonest. Once in America, some military men spoke honestly -- "War is hell" -- General Wm. T. Sherman. Now, this logic leads directly to: that the preparations for warring are the preparations for hell. And who in the press and in the public says such things?

Alexander Haig tortured english into gobbledygook. This he picked up in the military, between jargon, acronyms, euphemisms, et cetera. He brought this into the executive branch. Honest language describes and illuminates clarity; it does not obscure and make nebulous. When it does the latter, you must be sceptically curious and on guard.

Words mean what they mean. Their definitions are not determined by the hearer or speaker, and certainly, not by the least knowledgeable. If words are misused or misunderstood that should not be the accepted usage. Words do change overtime, I admit, but that change is gradual and was greater prior to mass printing than now. The more literate a nation is, the more stable are the meanings of words and the fallback position is that of the more ancient usage as the standard.

Enemies of language are bureaucracy -- military, government, business. The language of advertising can be simply analyzed by its deviousness and trickery as being grievously suspect. When this spreads to journalism and conversation, we are debased and maliciously used.

One particularly telling usage is that of the word -- even-- as an adverb. Even is meant to be an emphatic intensifier. In advertising and every day on the local "news reporting" it is used to list the third member of that list, when it can only be synonymous with "and" or "also" or "and this too". This false emphasis is to make hype of the mundane and to mislead that the trivial is vital or extraordinary.

Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero.--F. Scott Fitzgerald
* Chuck Hagel, Ron Paul, Bruce Fein

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Saint Francis and Sputnik (Спутник)

Listening to the more thoughtful programmes on radio/tv, several mentioned the upcoming half century anniversary of the inaugural to the cold war, space age rivalry. Since there are few thoughtful christian programmes, I doubt many will hear of Saint Francis of Assisi. Both provoke insight upon our condition.

Sputnik, the grand achievement of Sergej Pavlovič Koroljov. The russians, even with the communist regime, were not incompetent oafs. When effectively their abilities were channeled, they could, and did accomplish. The rooskies were somewhat nonplussed about the event, but after seeing the paranoia in America evoked, they could engage in nonchalant, assured braggadacio, “After all, vee deed eet verst”.

The arrogant and waspish, american elite looked down upon those they relegated as backward, semi-asiatic, slavonic, peasant nations. This, along, with the balance of power gamesmanship put the country into a fit of apoplexy. First Eisenhower, then others, played clumsy public persona appearances of dismissiveness and then comical disasters of attempt (the american sputnik poofed in December of ’57).

It allowed John Kennedy to be more bellicose than mere sanity would permit, and not until Armstrong planted the stars and stripes on lunar soil was the chip loosened from the US shoulder. But, by then Koroljov, the “Chief Designer”, had been dead three years. He was one of many of Stalin’s gulag alumni. His mind intact, his health not; part of the cruel toll of caesarean sovietism, that the west will not appreciate.

Later Jurij Aleksejevič Gagarin, the first spaceman, the cosmonaut would be lauded and honored with a national day on the calendar to solidify russian space prowess. There was a progression: sputnik, Lajka (mutnik), the space chimp and then man.

Saint Francis, Il Poverello, set about to live as Christ had done, a gospel literalist. One can see how different a gospel literalist is from a “bible literalist”. Last night in franciscan monasteries, churches and other homes there was celebrated the Transitus, a prayer service, recollection and perhaps a dramatic re-enactment of the passing from life to everlasting life of our friend.

Today, in many churches, animals are blessed. Animals are our brothers in creation. Francis talked to them of God’s gift of the volume of air for them to exercise the gift of flight. In Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat, the Pirate, one of a band of poor men in the story, gathers his dogs about him to expound tales of our friend to the hounds’ delight. One of literature’s poignant christian moments, a homeless man (a bum) sharing mercy with abandoned animals, all enjoying a comitatus of Christ's companionship and fellowship.

We as a society should look at Franky. He went on crusade and spoke to, perhaps, the only famous Kurd in history, Saladin. We did not achieve peace then or now, but some of us try to anyhow and peace within oneself is a good and wonderful accomplishment.

p.s. Today is also the 50th birthday of Michael Maurer of Ohio University.