Saturday, January 31, 2009

A prayer as we approach the Table of Life

"Since this fountain, this source of life, this table surrounds us with untold blessings and fills us with the gifts of the Spirit, let us approach it with sincerity of heart and purity of conscience to receive grace and mercy in our time of need. Grace and mercy be yours from the only-begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; through him and with him be glory, honor and power to the Father and the life-giving Spirit, now and always and forever."

St. John Chrysostom

Friday, January 30, 2009

The river Jordan and Baptism

Mention baptism, and 9 out of 10 Americans will think of an image.

It's Jesus being baptized in the Jordan river. And in this image, Jesus is standing waist deep in a wide and flowing river. St. John the Baptist is there, too, clothed in camel's hair, ready to dunk Jesus under the water. Maybe there's a dove there, too.

It's such a common image. In lots and lots of churches that immerse, it's in a painting or stained glass behind the baptismal pool.

The problem is that it didn't happen this way. Baptism, yes. By John, yes. Even the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove.

But the Jordan is not deep. It is not a vast and flowing river. There are few spots where an adult can stand waist deep in its waters. It is a shallow, often narrow, and -- visually -- unimpressive river.

We Americans are a water-rich nation. And our mental images are influenced by that richness. We think of rivers, and we think of the Mississippi. We think of vast rivers, enormous lakes, and flowing streams.

Palestine is not like that. Palestine has been -- for thousands of years -- a dry and barren land. Dry and barren lands do not have huge flowing rivers. Palestine is no exception.

The Jordan river is a small -- and in the world's hydrology -- insignificant river. It's no wonder that Naaman, the Syrian who was cleansed (as recorded in 2 Kings 5) grumbled, "Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?" He was specifically referring to the Jordan where the prophet, St. Elisha, had commanded him to wash.

None of which takes away from the beauty and glory of the place where our Savior was baptized -- and thereby hallowed all the waters of the world which would be used to wash away the sins of God's people. The importance of the Jordan is not that it is a wide and flowing river. Like many things in the Bible, it is important in spite of its seeming unimportance.

Don't Follow The Follower

"Processionary caterpillars travel in long, undulating lines, one creature behind the other. Jean Hanri Fabre, the French entomologist, once lead a group of these caterpillars onto the rim of a large flowerpot so that the leader of the procession found himself nose to tail with the last caterpillar in the procession, forming a circle without end or beginning.

Through sheer force of habit and, of course, instinct, the ring of caterpillars circled the flowerpot for seven days and seven nights, until they died from exhaustion and starvation. An ample supply of food was close at hand and plainly visible, but it was outside the range of the circle, so the caterpillars continued along the beaten path.

People often behave in a similar way. Habit patterns and ways of thinking become deeply established, and it seems easier and more comforting to follow them than to cope with change, even when that change may represent freedom, achievement, and success.

If someone shouts, "Fire!" it is automatic to blindly follow the crowd, and many thousands have needlessly died because of it. How many stop to ask themselves: Is this really the best way out of here?

So many people "miss the boat" because it's easier and more comforting to follow - to follow without questioning the qualifications of the people just ahead - than to do some independent thinking and checking.

A hard thing for most people to fully understand is that people in such numbers can be so wrong, like the caterpillars going around and around the edge of the flowerpot, with life and food just a short distance away. If most people are living that way, it must be right, they think. But a little checking will reveal that throughout all recorded history the majority of mankind has an unbroken record of being wrong about most things, especially important things. For a time we thought the earth was flat and later we thought the sun, stars, and planets traveled around the Earth. Both ideas are now considered ridiculous, but at the time they were believed and defended by the vast majority of followers. In the hindsight of history we must have looked like those caterpillars blindly following the follower out of habit rather than stepping out of line to look for the truth.

It's difficult for people to come to the understanding that only a small minority of people ever really get the word about life, about living abundantly and successfully. Success in the important departments of life seldom comes naturally, no more naturally than success at anything - a musical instrument, sports, fly-fishing, tennis, golf, business, marriage, parenthood.

But for some reason most people wait passively for success to come to them - like the caterpillars going around in circles, waiting for sustenance, following nose to tail - living as other people are living in the unspoken, tacit assumption that other people know how to live successfully.

It's a good idea to step out of the line every once in a while and look around to see if the line is going where we want it to go. If it is not, it might be time for a new leader and a new direction.

For those who have tried repeatedly to break a habit of some kind, only to repeatedly fail, Mary Pickford said, "Falling is not failing, unless you fail to get up." Most people who finally win the battle over a habit they have wanted to change have done so only after repeated failures. And it's the same with most things.

The breaking of a long-time habit does seem like the end of the road at the time - the complete cessation of enjoyment. Suddenly dropping the habit so fills our minds with the desire for the old habitual way that, for a while, it seems there will no longer be any peace, any sort of enjoyment. But that's not true. New habits form in a surprisingly short time, and a whole new world opens up to us.

So, if you've been trying to start in a new direction, you might do well to remember the advice of Mary Pickford: breaking an old habit isn't the end of the road; it's just a bend in the road. And falling isn't failing, unless you don't get up."

Earl Nightingale

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The faithful come out: China is experiencing a religious resurgence and, remarkably, the government is letting it happen

"If you walk down Battery Path in central Hong Kong you are likely to see a silent protest on one side of the pavement. Two or three demonstrators sit, cross-legged on the ground, in meditation. Next to them, on boards, are displayed the hideous images of individuals who have been beaten and presumably tortured. Passing parents shield the eyes of their children.

These are supporters of Falun Gong, the religious movement founded in the 1990s. It is distinguished by being probably the highest profile victim of the Chinese government's fear of organised religion. A clampdown began after a peaceful protest in July 1999 in Tiananmen Square when Falun Gong was outlawed. According to Amnesty International, the government then launched "a long-term campaign of intimidation and persecution, directed by a special organisation called the 610 Office." Protests are allowed in Hong Kong, just yards away from government offices, because of the status of the Special Administrative Region.

It is a clear reminder of the dark side of the Chinese authority's approach to religion. However, it is not the whole story.

Martin Palmer is the secretary-general of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC). He runs one of the few organisations that have a license from the Chinese government to work with religious groups in the country. He can hardly stress enough how profound the changes now taking place are. So are they a sign of a more relaxed attitude towards freedom of religious expression?"

Why understanding the mode of baptism is important

It's important for us to have a clear understanding of baptism in the New Testament. Not understanding this matter leads to a variety of errors, and also makes us easy prey for those teaching a form of legalism about baptism.

Understanding how baptisms occurred in the New Testament is also important to understanding some of the background of the New Testament. The scandal of the incarnation is that our Savior is a certain man, who lived in a certain time, in a certain part of the world. The world of first century Palestine is vastly different from our time, and reading certain assumptions back into the New Testament cause us to misunderstand what is being said and taught there.

Understanding things such as the geography and hydrology (the study of water) of Palestine are also important to understanding New Testament baptisms.

Unlike a book such as the Koran, the Bible wasn't dropped from Heaven. The writers weren't scribes who wrote as God dictated. They were writing in first century Palestine, not Rome of 1492 or New York of 1846 or Beijing of 2009. If we seek to know the New Testament, we have to know the nature and background of where the New Testament books were written, and what the writers meant and how they dealt with life.

And it's not that hard. It requires trying to take off blinders that we all carry around. Taking those blinders off isn't easy. I make no claim to having lost them all. But it's a job we need to do. And the rewards are great.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup High in Mercury

"Two new studies found mercury in almost half of the samples of high-fructose corn syrup tested. In addition, almost a third of products which listed HFCS as the first ingredient contained mercury.

“Mercury is toxic in all forms,” said Dr. David Wallinga of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and co-author of both studies. “Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered.”

What lasts forever

"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever."

Lance Armstrong
Cancer Survivor and Athlete

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What is baptism?

Recently, at least one Lutheran (LCMS) congregation has built a baptismal font for immersion (submerging the entire body under water) as their preferred baptismal mode. I think this is a mistake, and I'm going to try to explain why over the next several weeks.

The point which I will be asserting is that baptism in the New Testament was a ritual act of washing which was done by pouring or sprinkling the candidate for baptism with water. I will go further and assert that no one who was baptized in the New Testament was immersed.

I won't be arguing about what baptism does, or about who should be baptized. Those are questions for another time. And I won't be saying that someone who has been immersed was not baptized. (I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, and my baptism was by immersion. What's more, I cherish that act, and those who brought me to faith and to that washing of baptism).

But there's an underlying strain in American life which seeks to say that immersion is the only "real" baptism, that those who were not baptized by immersion are not baptized and should have the act repeated, or that baptism by another mode (sprinkling, pouring or effusion) is invalid. These arguments usually stem from an idea that New Testament baptisms were only done by immersion.

As I pointed out earlier, I think that's an error. And I'll be seeking to prove that assertion over the next few weeks.

I'll seek to cover the following areas of study about this issue: ritual washings in the New Testament, the baptism of John, baptisms on the day of Pentecost, the baptism of the Ethiopian, and the baptism of the Philippian jailer.

What we were created to be

"We were not created to be eaten by anxiety, but to walk erect, free, unafraid in a world where there is work to do, truth to seek, love to give and win."

Joseph Ford Newton

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Flu Shot "Totally Worthless" at Reducing Death Rate in Elderly

"(NaturalNews) Influenza vaccination has no significant effect on death rates among the elderly, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Alberta, Canada.

Previous studies have concluded that getting a flu shot reduces an elderly person's risk of dying from any cause by 50 percent, a claim that other scientists have challenged as unlikely."

Where action begins

"Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination."

Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
Author and Publicist

Monday, January 26, 2009

Reason magazine: Bush Was a Big-Government Disaster

"Now that George W. Bush has finally left office, here's a challenge to a nation famous for its proud tradition of invention: Can somebody invent a machine capable of fully measuring the disaster that was the Bush presidency?"

St. John’s Wort as Effective as Drugs

"St. John’s wort has been used for centuries to combat depression, and is still used by European doctors. Most studies, however, supported its use only to treat mild to moderate depression. But a German review of 29 clinical trials that included almost 5,500 patients suffering from major depression found that St. John’s wort might be as effective as drugs—and with fewer side effects than prescription antidepressants."

True happiness

"Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose."

Helen Keller

Sunday, January 25, 2009

United in judgment

"It is possible to agree on a form of words but still harbor dissent, which is why Paul speaks the way he does here. It is also possible to share the same opinion with someone but not the same feelings. For example, it is possible to be united in faith without being united in love. This is why Paul says that we must be united both in mind and in judgment."

St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, 3.2

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Vitamin D 'is mental health aid'

"Vitamin D, found in fish and produced by sun exposure, can help stave off the mental decline that can affect people in old age, a study has suggested."

Friday, January 23, 2009

God's grace

"Hence he was in the shadow of life, whereas sinners are in the shadow of death. According to Isaiah, the people who sinned sat in the shadow of death. For these a light arose, not by the merits of their virtues but by the grace of God. There is no distinction, therefore, between the breath of God and the food of the tree of life. No one can say that he can acquire more by his own efforts than what is granted him by the generosity of God."

St. Ambrose of Milan, On Paradise, 5.29

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How your life is determined

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."

Lewis L. Dunnington

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The things that matter

"Nothing of great value in life comes easily. The things of highest value sometimes come hard. The gold that has the greatest value lies deepest in the earth, as do the diamonds."

Norman Vincent Peale

Historical Mystery of Bush's Presidency

"After little more than two years of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon resigned and his successor, Gerald Ford, famously declared, “our long national nightmare is over.” But the painful end game of Nixon’s presidency was nothing compared to the eight excruciating years of George W. Bush.

Even on Inauguration Day 2009, as most Americans rejoice that Bush’s disastrous presidency is finally heading into the history books, there should be reflection on how this catastrophe could have befallen the United States – and on who else was responsible.

Indeed, it may become one of the great historical mysteries, leaving future scholars to scratch their heads over how a leader with as few qualifications as George W. Bush came to lead the world’s most powerful nation at the start of the 21st century."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack H. Obama

We should have known that a fix was on last year when 2 men were nominated for president, neither of whom can constitutionally serve as president.

Neither men, because both were born outside the US -- John McCain in Panama, and Barack Obama in Kenya. (I take as reliable the widely-distributed video in which Obama's paternal grandmother claims she was present at his birth in Nairobi).

But constitutional provisions are not taken seriously in our time, and Obama is now our president.

Our prayers should be with Obama, as he exercises these powers. His name is from Swahili, and in turn from Hebrew, and means "blessed," or "blessing."

We are told by the Holy Spirit by the prophet Daniel (4.25) that, "the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." God in his wisdom has given the power of the US presidency to Barack H. Obama. May God grant wisdom to President Obama to govern in a way that proves a blessing to America, and to the world.

Fruit Rich in Polyphenols Protects Against Alzheimer's Disease, Cognitive Decline

(NaturalNews) Fruits rich in polyphenols may help protect against the oxidative stress that has been linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, according to a study conducted by researchers from three Korean universities and published in the Journal of Food Science. "Our study demonstrated that antioxidants in the major fresh fruits consumed in the United States and Korea protected neuronal cells from oxidative stress," the researchers wrote. "Therefore, additional consumption of fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, and oranges may be beneficial to ameliorate chemopreventive effects in neurodegenerative disease."

The measure of a man

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Living together

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sustained forever

"Who sustains us? Christ Jesus, the Word and Wisdom of God. Moreover, he sustains us not merely for a day or two, but forever."

Origen, Commentary on I Corinthians, 1.2.52-54

Forge ahead

"I don't believe in pessimism. If something doesn't come up the way you want, forge ahead. If you think it's going to rain, it will."

Clint Eastwood
Actor and Director

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In the "you know someone who knows someone" category

A friend (who will remain unnamed) has a sister who dated Rod Blagoevich when they were both in high school. As my friend puts it, "he was all hands then." But my friend also related the following anecdote which is so perfect it has to quoted verbatim:

"Years later when Blago ran for Rostenkowski's seat temporarily occupied by one-termer Flannery, Blago was campaigning on an el station [Chicago Transit Authority station]. His handlers made certain that everyone needed to pass Blago for the handshake and news cameras. As I approached him, we made eye contact. He recognized me and at that point I spat in my hand. Needless to say, I was allowed to continue walking."

Are we giving robots too much power? From Onion video

Not by works

"You were saved by grace, not by works. And who gave you this grace? It was not Paul, or another apostle, but Jesus Christ himself."

St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, 2.3

The ones assembled all over the world

"The church ought to be united because it belongs to God. It does not exist only in Corinth, but all over the world, and it is one, for the church's name (ecclesia) means "assembly." It is not a name of separation, but a name of unity and concord."

St. John Chryostom, Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, 1.1

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Midlife Coffee And Tea Drinking May Protect Against Late-life Dementia

ScienceDaily (Jan. 15, 2009) — Stockholm, Sweden -- Midlife coffee drinking can decrease the risk of dementia/Alzheimer's disease (AD) later in life. This conclusion is made in a Finnish Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Dementia (CAIDE) Study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

How to buy a used car, cheap. Even in this economy. ESPECIALLY in this economy

"Here is a technique for negotiating the price of any
big ticket item, especially a used one.

Go through the basics. Make sure you really want it.

After you have done your homework and know when you
see a good deal, don't get greedy. But hold out for less
than the asking price. This is especially true of a used

If it's a commercial seller, sit down with the
salesman. You can now play the haggling game. You may
win. Probably not. But get another 7% knocked off: sales
tax. (This won't work in Oregon, Montana, Nevada, and New
Hampshire: no sales tax.)

Have him get out the purchase papers. Start reading
them. He thinks he's almost there. This is crucial. Ask
a couple of obvious yes-answer questions. He will tell you
what you want to hear. You nod. Keep reading.

He is now even more hot to trot. He has answered your
objections. The commission is his!

Get out your checkbook. (Never borrow to buy.) He is
now a bit amazed. People usually borrow. Write the
sticker price on the check and hand it to him.

Now he will tell you all about the sales tax. Ignore
him. Tell him, "That's the price I will pay."

He has a check in his hand. He doesn't want to lose
the sale.

He may go to "talk to his manager." If he comes back
and says no, here is step two. Tear the check in half, top
to bottom. Your signature is there. The price is there.
Write VOID on this half. Turn it over. On the back, write
your last name and your cell phone number. Write CELL

Tell him that you are going to the next dealer. Tell
him you will come back and write a replacement check if he
calls you before you get to that dealer. Beyond that, no
guarantee. You reserve the right to re-negotiate. Say, "I
want to be reasonable, but there are some other deals I saw
on-line, and I am planning to buy from someone in the next
six hours."

Then walk out.

He will see your back. He is holding "almost the
deal" in his hand. That half a check will remind him: he
had the deal. He wants the deal. He can get the deal for
the loss of sales tax.

See what happens.

Drive to the next dealer. Repeat the negotiation.

If he lets you get through the day and calls the next
day, tell him: "I'll buy it for $250 less, and no sales
tax." He is calling you on your terms: a day late and $250

Friday, January 16, 2009

The end of civilization as we know it

Here's how rough life is in 2009: a man would be a rock star, were it not for a case of identity theft! And you thought you had it bad.

I'm using this as an illustration of how things change. We're living through bad times now -- no doubt -- but those who see 2009 in apocalyptic terms are mistaken, to put it kindly. We are going through bad times, but there have been bad times in the past -- far worse times -- and folks got through them. We, too, will get through this time. But this very funny video is an illustration of what we've come to fear. It shows a guy who has a job, wearing nice clothing, and obviously well fed. So he's not starving, naked, or being shot at. But he's not a rock star. And it's all because of identity theft.

For those women (men, too) worrying about the extra weight gain during December

T'was the month after the Christmas
and all through the house,
Nothing would fit me,
not even a blouse.

The cookies I'd nibbled, the chocolate I'd taste
At the holiday parties had gone to my waist.

When I got on the scales there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber),

I'd remember the marvelous meals I'd prepared;
The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared,
The wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese
And the way I'd never said, "No thank you, please."

As I dressed myself in my husband's old shirt
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt...
I said to myself, as I only can,
"You can't spend a winter, disguised as a man!"

So, away with the last of the sour cream dip.
Get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip.
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished
Till all the additional ounces have vanished.

I won't have a cookie, not even a lick.
I'll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won't have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie.
I'll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.

I'm hungry, I'm lonesome, and life is a bore...
But isn't that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot.
Happy New Year to all, and to all a good diet.

Herbs and Spices Boost Health

"Reach for the spice rack and spice up your health as well as your food. Almost every day, researchers discover more and more ways that herbs and spices boost health, providing benefits for health concerns from cancer to Alzheimer�s disease. The main reason for spices� healthy shot in the arm is the phytochemicals they contain. Phytochemicals are powerful complex substances that are found in high concentrations in many herbs and spices."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Judging angels

On Monday, I posted this quote from Fr. Louis Bouyer's book Eucharist:

"The 'Angel' makes God present in a particular place, while still preserving his transcendence"

After having spent a couple of days pondering this thought, I have a question about the implications of it.

If the above is true, how does this square up with I Cor. 6.3: "Know ye not that we shall judge angels?"

Anyone have thoughts on this?

Bicycles to DC

My son and I don't agree on Barack Obama.

I think he's a fairly garden-variety politician who will change little, and be -- for all intents and purposes -- the 3rd term of the Bush administration. My son, Matt, thinks he will be a powerful agent for good and needed change.

I hope Matt is right.

In the meantime, Matt and 2 friends are bicycling to DC for the inauguration. They left this morning. Here's their blog.

Vitamin D Is The 'It' Nutrient Of The Moment

"ScienceDaily (Jan. 14, 2009) — Vitamin D is quickly becoming the "it" nutrient with health benefits for diseases, including cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease and now diabetes."

Where you will go

"Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think."

Benjamin Disraeli
1804-1881, British Prime Minister

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The preexistence of the Savior

"Consider how he who was not yet born could have a people, unless he were in being before he was born. The prophet says this in his person, 'From my mother's womb he gave me my name,' because the angel foretold that he would be called Jesus. Again, concerning the plots of Herod, he says, 'He ... concealed me in the shadow of his arm.'"

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 10:12

How we learn

"He who suffers, remembers."


Cholesterol Levels Don’t Indicate Cardiac Risk

A new national study has shown that nearly 75 percent of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had cholesterol levels that would indicate they were not at high risk for a cardiovascular event, according to current national cholesterol guidelines.

Specifically, these patients had low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels that met current guidelines, and close to half had LDL levels classified in guidelines as optimal (less than 100 mg/dL).

FDA Scientists Accuse Own Administration of Corruption, Intimidation and Scientific Censorship

"(NaturalNews) FDA scientists have become so fed up with the criminal behavior of their own administration that they've filed a strongly-worded complaint with President-elect Obama, alleging the FDA has been deeply "corrupted and distorted."

FDA managers, the letter explains, are "placing the American people at risk" by using tactics of intimidation to censor scientific debate within the FDA. This scientific censorship agenda, of course, mirrors the exact same tactics used by the FDA outside the agency against makers of nutritional supplements or herbal products. Intimidation and censorship, it seems, are part of the very fabric of the FDA."

Who's going to achieve?

"Not the maker of plans and promises, but rather the one who offers faithful service in small matters. This is the person who is most likely to achieve what is good and lasting."

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
1749-1832, Poet, Dramatist and Novelist

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Alternative Medicine is Going Mainstream

"Alternative medicine is going mainstream, and top-notch hospitals are embracing various forms of alternative and complementary medicine. According to the American Hospital Association, more than one-third of U.S. hospitals offer at least one type of complementary medicine, which includes acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, nutrition, massage therapy and herbal medicine. For example, the prestigious Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center offers acupuncture for relief of nausea from surgery or chemotherapy. The growing field is even referred to by a new name�CAM�an acronym for complementary alternative medicine."

Getting rid of financial misinformation

"It is only when people shake off the baggage of financial misinformation they have acquired from their parents, teachers, friends and past financial disasters that they are able to advance themselves financially."

Todd Dean

Monday, January 12, 2009

The ministry of angels

"... neither the Old Testament nor ancient Judaism ever established the clear-cut distinction which we make between the presence of the Angels and the presence of God himself. The 'Angel' makes God present in a particular place, while still preserving his transcendence ... in the eyes of the first Christians as for the Jews, the heavenly world was an inseparable whole. When the Angels came down to earth, the presence of the Shekinah came down with them, borne upon the wings of the Cherubim, the 'wheels' of fire that are the Ophanim, and glorifed by the flight and the singing of the Seraphim. Similarly, in the Gospel narratives, when the Son of God comes down on earth at the nativity, he is accompanied by all the angelic hosts."

Bouyer, Eucharist, p. 223

Would eating heavy atoms lengthen our lives?

"In a back room of New Scientist's offices in London, I sit down at a table with the Russian biochemist Mikhail Shchepinov. In front of us are two teaspoons and a brown glass bottle. Shchepinov opens the bottle, pours out a teaspoon of clear liquid and drinks it down. He smiles. It's my turn.

I put a spoonful of the liquid in my mouth and swallow. It tastes slightly sweet, which is a surprise. I was expecting it to be exactly like water since that, in fact, is what it is - heavy water to be precise, chemical formula D2O. The D stands for deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen with an atomic mass of 2 instead of 1. Deuterium is what puts the heavy in heavy water. An ice cube made out of it would sink in normal water."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gin, the dancing dog

I am not a big fan of dogs (cats are more my speed) but this was too good to not pass on:

Friday, January 09, 2009

Make us living men

"We beseech you, make living men out of us ..."

Euchologion of St. Serapion of Thmius, cited in Bouyer, Eucharist

New Year, Younger You -- 20 Anti-Aging Herbs and Spices to Add to Your Diet

"Spices are absolutely wonderful, and can help make a dramatic difference – adding both flavor and health benefits to your food.

Many plants synthesize substances that are useful to the maintenance of health. These include health-promoting substances like phenols, and their oxygen-substituted derivatives such as tannins.

One study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, found a direct correlation between the antioxidant phenol content of extracts of spices and herbs, and their ability to inhibit glycation and block the formation of AGE compounds that contribute to damage caused by aging and elevated blood sugar levels."

EPA still may limit rocket fuel in drinking water

"WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency is taking a second look at its decision not to limit the amount of a toxic rocket fuel ingredient allowed in drinking water.

Late last year, the agency proposed not setting a drinking water standard for perchlorate, which has been found in at least 395 sites in 35 states at levels high enough to interfere with thyroid function and pose developmental problems in humans."

Grape Seed Extract Kills Leukemia Cells

(NaturalNews) "Grapes, grape juice and wine made from grapes have been in the news for the last few years -- making headlines for their potential heart protective benefits. Now there's another reason to appreciate the healthy phytochemicals contained in grapes. Researchers from the University of Kentucky have found a natural substance in the fruit that's deadly to malignant leukemia cells. The powerful cancer fighter, derived from grape seeds, triggered the death of 76 percent of leukemia cells exposed to the extract in a laboratory experiment."

Framingham’s Faulty Risk Data Drives Statin Sales

"In the world of fast-food medicine doctors utilize lab test numbers, family history, and lifestyle factors to help decide whether or not to place patients on statin drugs. For the past decade they have relied on various risk tools based on data coming from the Framingham study. A new study shows that up to 26% of the people being given statins based on this commonly-used criteria have absolutely no plaque in their arteries! Said another way, 5 billion in statin sales per year are flat out fraud."

Sunlight could stop short-sightedness

"Australian scientists from The Vision Centre say there is persuasive evidence that increased exposure to daylight can prevent the permanent short-sightedness and eye damage which now afflicts up to 80-90 per cent of children in cities in East Asia such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

The finding demolishes long-held beliefs that short sight is due mainly to reading, and overuse of TVs and computers by youngsters, or is primarily linked to genetic factors. Myopia affects over 1.6 billion people worldwide, is spreading rapidly among city populations and, in its most severe form, can cause blindness by middle-age."

Dogged Determination

Grab hold of that bone and never let it go!

"Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work it until it's done and done right."

- Walt Disney

"Have you ever witnessed a dog with a bone? No matter how hard you try to wrench it out of that pooch's mouth, she won't let go. As a matter of fact, the more you attempt to take the bone away, the deeper the dog will sink her teeth in. That is sheer, dogged determination, a quality that is absolutely required if you want to achieve any goal, no matter how large or small-that is, regardless of the size of the bone.

The late Maurice Richard was a dog with a bone when it came to pursuing his dream of playing hockey. It was very clear what he wanted to do with his life early on, even though he incurred a large number of injuries at a young age. While he was ultimately accepted to play with the Montreal Canadiens, very early in his career he was labelled a "frail" player. He was also challenged by a lack of support from those around him, except for his devoted wife. Maurice's passion for the sport took him past these obstacles, however, and led him to a record-breaking career of more than 20 years. He had a bone and would not let go!

When you know what you want, and you have no doubt that you want it, you need to become just like Maurice Richard. Clench your teeth firmly on your bone and don't let it go. Be determined not to allow anyone or anything to take it from you.

Many circumstances can make it difficult to hold on, such as health challenges or your own doubts and fears. Other people, even well-meaning loved ones, may also try to yank that bone away from you. When you face these obstacles, you just need to turn up the volume on your determination and feel the passion of your desire, the force that will propel you toward your goals.

While being determined is crucial, it's also important to open yourself up to receive new ideas and expand your thinking. You must be ready to let go of those limiting thoughts that feature the words should and ought to, such as, I should be realistic and not make such a lofty goal for myself, or I ought to do what the people I love want me to do instead of pursuing my own passion. Go for what you really want!

Challenge yourself to scratch out a new path and chase your dream, but be careful of the route you take. Be willing to explore new paths; after all, if you travel the same route that you've been taking thus far, you'll end up at the same destination. Is that where you long to go?"

Peggy McColl

Excerpt taken from New York Times Best-Selling Author Peggy's McColl's new book: Be a Dog With a Bone (Always Go For Your Dreams)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A prayer for the will of God

"Almighty and merciful God, who wills the faults of sinners to perish, and not their souls; withhold from us the anger which we deserve, and pour out on us the mercy we implore, that through your mercy we may pass from sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."

The Gelasian Sacramentary

Old Gastrointestinal Drug Slows Aging

"Recent animal studies have shown that clioquinol – an 80-year old drug once used to treat diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disorders – can reverse the progression of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. Scientists, however, had a variety of theories to attempt to explain how a single compound could have such similar effects on three unrelated neurodegenerative disorders."

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The foolishness of God

One of the big "scandals" (there are several) of orthodox Christianity is that it's open to the stupid.

There: I said it. Stupid. I don't mean the "willingly ignorant" (cf. 2 Peter 3.5) -- those who refuse to hear the word of God -- but the stupid and the unlearned. There's always a strain going through the church which posits intelligence as a prerequisite to the cross, and that's false. At its worst, it becomes almost a variety of gnosticism, the ancient heresy that there's a hidden and secret knowledge that's available only to the initiated.

I'm convinced this is part of the objection to baptizing infants: some are irritated because these children can't possibly be Christians -- how can they know anything?

None of this, of course, takes away from deep and solid learning. The church has always had -- and needs -- those who deal intellectually with the faith, and are able to do the big battles of the mind that every generation has.

But the faith is open to all. The smallest child can be washed in Baptism and thereby believe. The mentally retarded, the unlearned, even the wisest scholar: all come to faith by receiving God's gifts and mercies.

St. Paul dealt with this at Corinth (I Cor. 1.18-29): "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."

The church brings together a lot of different people. We are brought together, not because we share common interests and backgrounds, but because we are beggars given to by God.

The real winners

"The real winners in life are the people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work or make it better."

Barbara Pletcher

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

At Epiphany: Distinguishing a Silent Sign from a Spoken Prophecy

"We must ask what it means that when our Redeemer was born, an angel appeared to the shepherds in Judea, but a star and not an angel guided the Magi from the East to worship him. This was the reason: it was a reasoning being, an angel, who preached to the Jews as persons capable of using their reason. But a sign and not a voice guided the Gentiles, who were not prepared to make full use of reason to know the Lord."

St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies, 10.1

Cranberry as Effective as Antibiotics for UTIs

"Cranberry has been found to be as effective as antibiotics in treating recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) in older women. Although cranberry has been used in alternative medicine for decades to forestall UTIs, the new study which was published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, showed that Cran-Max, a cranberry concentrate, prevented UTIs about as well as trimenthoprim, a commonly prescribed antibiotic."

Mark Twain on reading

"The person that doesn't read has no advantage over the person
who can't."

Mark Twain

Enjoying the trip

"As you're on your journey to success, do remember to enjoy the trip. Stick your head out of the car window, just like a dog does, and let the wind blow through your hair."

Peggy McColl
New York Times Best-Selling Author.

Monday, January 05, 2009

What tolerance is

"Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself."

Robert Green Ingersoll
1833-1899, Orator and Political Speechmaker

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Journal of 9/11 Studies: 'Obstacles to Persuasion: Lessons from the Classroom'

We are now over 7 years into that place we call the post-9/11 world. Lots of stuff has been written about that day, and the events that followed, some helpful, some not. I have tried to keep up with the serious writings and theories, and this is a good place to read some serious theorizing about 9/11: The Journal of 9/11 Studies. This is from Volume 28, the Dec., 2008 edition, written by a Canadian logician, dealing with argumentation about the 9/11 events.

"From January to April 2008, I taught an unusual upper-level undergraduate Philosophy course on Argumentation Theory at McMaster University. The course focused on such questions as “What makes a good argument good?” and “What makes a belief rational?” - where an argument is understood as an exercise in rational persuasion aimed at inculcating rational belief. And approximately five weeks of the course were devoted to studying the arguments of the 9/11 truth movement."

Who's your competition?

"The greatest achievers compete with themselves more than
against others - and that's how they become great. They
dare themselves to conquer one obstacle after another, and
they do. Those who think success is dependent on other's
poor performance don't understand the art of rising above

Matt Furey

Top 10 Cheap Health Foods

And ignore the picture that you see below. I have no idea why the original poster put that up. It has nothing to do with the actual video you see.


* Oranges were first grown in southern China-- though their name goes back only to India. The word "citrus" is related to "cedar", and reflects an ancient confusion between citrons and cedars.
* The House of Orange is not named for oranges-- the name developed from Latin Arausio.
* In addition to his prophecies, Nostradamus wrote a book on oranges.
* Oranges vary in sweetness depending on where they grow in the tree; the sweetest are on the south outside top of the tree.
* Most Florida orange trees are grafts; their roots are lemon trees.

from Oranges, by John McPhee

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Knowledge in the middle ages

"The Medievals did not believe in a flat earth; they believed it was spherical, and writers such as Mandeville and Dante show that they understood that down points in different directions in different parts of the earth. They also knew that the universe was immense-- the stars, for instance, were said to be larger than the earth; and the South English Legendary says that if a man could travel upward at forty miles a day, he could not reach the fixed stars in 8000 years. (That is, they're more than 116 million miles high.)"

from The Discarded Image, C.S. Lewis

The Onion: 'Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash'

Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash

Recently Unearthed E-Mail Reveals What Life Was Like In 1995

"KNOXVILLE, TN—A 1995 e-mail extracted from the hard drive of a recently unearthed Compaq desktop PC offers a tantalizing glimpse into the day-to-day life of a primitive Internet society, said the archaeologists responsible for its discovery."

Vienna Boys Choir : In dulci Jubilo

A prayer as Epiphany approaches

"Almighty and everlasting God, who has made known the incarnation of your Son by the bright shining of a star, which, when the wise men beheld they presented costly gifts and adored your majesty; grant that the star of your righteousness may always shine into our hearts; and that, as our treasure, we may give ourselves and all that we possess to your service; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

The Gelasian Sacramentary

Acetyl L-Carnitine and Alpha-Lipoic Acid may be Fountain of Youth for the Brain

"(NaturalNews) Throughout human history aging people have yearned for a magic elixir to help them turn back the clock and restore youth. It could be that this dream is about to come true. In a recent landmark study, old lab rats taking a mixture of acetyl L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid regained so much of their youth and vigor they "got up to do the Macarena", according to study director Bruce Ames."

Grape extract kills cancer cells

"In lab experiments, scientists found that the extract stimulated leukaemia cells to commit suicide. Within 24 hours, 76% of leukaemia cells exposed to the extract were killed off, while healthy cells were unharmed, Clinical Cancer Research reports."

Osteoporosis Drugs Cause Dental Disaster: Loose Teeth and Exposed Jaw Bones

"Want to watch your teeth fall out and have your jaw bone exposed inside your mouth? Just take osteoporosis drugs! That's the conclusion of dentists who are seeing an alarming increase of patients experiencing severe dental problems following their use of prescription osteoporosis drugs called biphosphonates (such as Fosamax)."

Friday, January 02, 2009

What really great people do for you

"Keep away from small people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

Mark Twain
1835-1910, Writer and Humorist

The attitude you bring to life

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."

Lewis L. Dunnington

Take a Year-End Attitude Inventory

"It's a wise custom to end an old year and begin a new one with serious self-reflection. What did you learn this year that can improve your life and make you a better person?

Start by examining the way you think and feel about your job, your relationships, and yourself. After all, the single most important factor in personal happiness and your impact on others is your attitude.

In the geometry of life, the axiom is "positive attitudes produce positive results." They make success more likely, failures less harmful, pleasures more frequent, and pain more bearable. Some people tend to bring warm sunshine wherever they go; others bring cold chills. What do you bring?

To find out where you can improve, take an honest inventory of your predispositions, the attitude you're most likely to start with.

. Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic?
. Do you tend to assume the best or expect the worst of people?
. Is your first instinct to be empathetic or judgmental?
. Is your first instinct to be supportive or critical?
. Do you send the message that you enjoy life or that you're barely enduring it?
. Do you come across as the captain of your own ship or simply a passenger?

Wherever you are on the positive-attitude spectrum, think how much better things could be if you were more consistently and self-consciously optimistic, empathetic, supportive, grateful, enthusiastic, hopeful, and cheerful.

So why not resolve to think, act, and speak more positively about yourself, your family, your coworkers, and everyone else in your life?"

Michael Josephson

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The illumination of Christ

"And the Logos, exhorting us to come to this light, says, in the prophecies of Isaiah, 'Enlighten yourself, enlighten yourself, O Jerusalem; for your light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.' Observe now the difference between the fine phrases of Plato regarding the 'light' of the blessed; and notice that the truth as it is contained in Plato concerning this subject did not at all help his readers to attain to a pure worship of God, not even himself, who could philosophize so grandly about the 'chief good,' whereas the simple language of the Scriptures led to their honest readers being filled with a divine spirit; and this light is nourished within them by the oil, which in a certain parable is said to have preserved the light of the torches of the five wise virgins."


Against Celsus, 6.5

Where fear exists

"You can conquer almost any fear if you will make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn't exist anywhere except in the mind."

Dale Carnegie
1888-1955, Speaker and Author