Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Meat offered to idols and the Jerusalem Council

Most Christians struggle with some uncertain things. Things that we wonder if we should eat, drink, do, avoid, or whatever.

Our forefathers in the faith dealt with these problems, too. Specifically, the early church struggled with the question of whether Christians could in good conscience eat meat that had been offered in sacrifice to an idol.

In Acts 15.29, the Jerusalem Council says to Gentile Christians: "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication."

Later on, however, St. Paul directs the Corinthian church (I Cor. 10.25-28): "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles [meat market], that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."

What seems to be a contradiction here really involves understanding what was going on.

In the world around the Mediterranean, meat was sacrificed to pagan idols. Afterward, the meat was sold in markets. It was likely cheaper than other meat, because it had already seen a use, and was more prone to spoilage. So some Christians -- especially the poorer ones (and I suspect, per I Cor. 1.26 that this might have been a strong factor in the Corinthian church) -- probably saw this as a chance to save money, and were buying -- and eating -- the meat that had already been sacrificed to an idol.

Trying to bring Gentiles into the church involved some juggling. Jews who had been instructed in the Mosaic law were scandalized by believers who saw no problem with eating what they saw to be ritually impure foods. There were Gentiles who were tempted to revert to paganism by contact with food offered to idols. And outsiders were sometimes prone to misunderstand the freedom Christians enjoyed.

The Jerusalem Council sought to mediate this: they directed Gentile Christians to avoid scandal to their Jewish Christian brethren by avoiding meat offered to idols, and not eating blood. The basis is given in Acts 15.21: "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day."

In other words, since the Mosaic prohibitions are well-known, both to Jews, God-fearing Gentiles, and the Gentile world at large, the Gentile Christians should seek to avoid scandal when eating.

St. Paul explicates this in I Cor. 10. The meat offered to idols is still meat. Nothing has changed, because the idol is simply a product of man's false religious imagination. There is only one true God, to which all of Heaven and earth belong. But if someone will be scandalized by the steak you're eating, avoid it.

As with all such questions, the answer is love. Love to fellow Christians, love to weak fellow Christians, love to Jews, love to Gentiles, love to all, seeking to bring them all under that beautiful fellowship of God's love and mercy. Steaks are good, but they're not worth eating if by such eating we hurt others.

The Real Killer in Sunlight -- UVA

"Dr. Dianne Godar of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has conducted a study indicating that UVA light -- not the UVB light that causes suntans and allows your body to produce vitamin D -- may be responsible for the melanoma epidemic.

What’s more, the UVA light, unlike UVB, can pass through window glass, meaning you can still be exposed to it while you are indoors or in your car.

UVB, on the other hand, appears to be protective against melanoma -- or rather, the vitamin D your body produces in response to UVB radiation is protective. Dr. Godar points out that the melanoma epidemic began long before sunbeds, and that the dramatic melanoma increase occurs primarily in indoor workers, not outdoor workers."

The open door

"Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing, that we see too late the one that is open."

Alexander Graham Bell
1847-1922, Inventor

Monday, March 30, 2009

The big things. And the little things.

Everything changes everything. Whatever you do changes everything about your life.

The study of the western lectionary

I'm just beginning to use this site, but I'm finding it helpful, interesting and insightful. It's devoted to the historic western lectionary, and there's a lot of good stuff here.

Lectionary Central

Sunday, March 29, 2009

He laid down His life

"'When Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, he yielded up the spirit.' This refers to what he had earlier said, 'I have power to lay down my life and I have power to take it again,' and 'I lay it down of myself.' So for this cause he cried with the voice, that it might be shown that the act is done by his own power."

St. John Chrysostom, The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 88.1

"Slumdog Millionaire: Dilemma of a New India"

Amy and I went to the see Slumdog Millionaire last night (at the $3 theater, as is our custom), and I woke up thinking about the film and what all it might mean. Overall, it's a fine movie. Here's some more thoughts about it, from Deepak Chopra.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Four Times the Recommended Vitamin D Dose Needed for Winter

"Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D during winter months requires a daily dose four times the current recommended dose, according to a new study.

The study has important implications for ongoing consultations on vitamin D recommendations. The current level of five micrograms (200 International Units) is seen by many as insufficient.

While your body does manufacture vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure, the levels of sun in some northern countries are so weak during the winter months that your body makes no vitamin D at all."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Your Friday story, The Daffodil Principle

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come and see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. Going and coming took most of a day - and I honestly did not have a free day until the following week.

"I will come next Tuesday," I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove the length of Route 91, continued on I-215, and finally turned onto Route 18 and began to drive up the mountain highway. The tops of the mountains were sheathed in clouds, and I had gone only a few miles when the road was completely covered with a wet, gray blanket of fog. I slowed to a crawl, my heart pounding. The road becomes narrow and winding toward the top of the mountain.

As I executed the hazardous turns at a snail's pace, I was praying to reach the turnoff at Blue Jay that would signify I had arrived. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these darling children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly, "We drive in this all the time, Mother."

"Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears - and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her.

"I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car. The mechanic just called, and they've finished repairing the engine," she answered.

"How far will we have to drive?" I asked cautiously.

"Just a few blocks,"Carolyn said cheerfully.

So we buckled up the children and went out to my car. "I'll drive," Carolyn offered. "I'm used to this." We got into the car, and she began driving.

In a few minutes I was aware that we were back on the Rim-of-the-World Road heading over the top of the mountain. "Where are we going?" I exclaimed, distressed to be back on the mountain road in the fog. "This isn't the way to the garage!"

"We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of the daffodils."

"Carolyn, I said sternly, trying to sound as if I was still the mother and in charge of the situation, "please turn around. There is nothing in the world that I want to see enough to drive on this road in this weather."

"It's all right, Mother," She replied with a knowing grin. "I know what I'm doing. I promise, you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."

And so my sweet, darling daughter who had never given me a minute of difficulty in her whole life was suddenly in charge - and she was kidnapping me! I couldn't believe it. Like it or not, I was on the way to see some ridiculous daffodils - driving through the thick, gray silence of the mist-wrapped mountaintop at what I thought was risk to life and limb.

I muttered all the way. After about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak-filled hollow on the side of the mountain. The fog had lifted a little, but the sky was lowering, gray and heavy with clouds.

We parked in a small parking lot adjoining a little stone church. From our vantage point at the top of the mountain we could see beyond us, in the mist, the crests of the San Bernardino range like the dark, humped backs of a herd of elephants. Far below us the fog-shrouded valleys, hills, and flatlands stretched away to the desert.

On the far side of the church I saw a pine-needle-covered path, with towering evergreens and manzanita bushes and an inconspicuous, lettered sign "Daffodil Garden."

We each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path as it wound through the trees. The mountain sloped away from the side of the path in irregular dips, folds, and valleys, like a deeply creased skirt.

Live oaks, mountain laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds, and in the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and monochromatic. I shivered. Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist-filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow.

Each different-colored variety (I learned later that there were more than thirty-five varieties of daffodils in the vast display) was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

In the center of this incredible and dazzling display of gold, a great cascade of purple grape hyacinth flowed down like a waterfall of blossoms framed in its own rock-lined basin, weaving through the brilliant daffodils. A charming path wound throughout the garden. There were several resting stations, paved with stone and furnished with Victorian wooden benches and great tubs of coral and carmine tulips. As though this were not magnificent enough, Mother Nature had to add her own grace note - above the daffodils, a bevy of western bluebirds flitted and darted, flashing their brilliance. These charming little birds are the color of sapphires with breasts of magenta red. As they dance in the air, their colors are truly like jewels above the blowing, glowing daffodils. The effect was spectacular.

It did not matter that the sun was not shining. The brilliance of the daffodils was like the glow of the brightest sunlit day. Words, wonderful as they are, simply cannot describe the incredible beauty of that flower-bedecked mountain top.

Five acres of flowers! (This too I discovered later when some of my questions were answered.) "But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn. I was overflowing with gratitude that she brought me - even against my will. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Who?" I asked again, almost speechless with wonder, "And how, and why, and when?"

"It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house, my mind buzzing with questions. On the patio we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman, two hands, two feet, and very little brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958."

There it was. The Daffodil Principle.

For me that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than thirty-five years before, had begun - one bulb at a time - to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. One bulb at a time.

There was no other way to do it. One bulb at a time. No shortcuts - simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded.

Loving an achievement that grew so slowly and that bloomed for only three weeks of each year. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world.

This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principle of celebration: learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time - often just one baby-step at a time - learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.

When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

"Carolyn," I said that morning on the top of the mountain as we left the haven of daffodils, our minds and hearts still bathed and bemused by the splendors we had seen, "it's as though that remarkable woman has needle-pointed the earth! Decorated it. Just think of it, she planted every single bulb for more than thirty years. One bulb at a time! And that's the only way this garden could be created. Every individual bulb had to be planted. There was no way of short-circuiting that process. Five acres of blooms. That magnificent cascade of hyacinth! All, just one bulb at a time."

The thought of it filled my mind. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the implications of what I had seen. "It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"

My wise daughter put the car into gear and summed up the message of the day in her direct way. "Start tomorrow," she said with the same knowing smile she had worn for most of the morning. Oh, profound wisdom!

It is pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson a celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use tomorrow?"

Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Little-Known Secrets about Bleached Flour

"Nearly everyone knows that white flour is not healthy for you, but most people don’t know that when white flour is bleached, it can actually be FAR worse for you.

It’s generally understood that refining food destroys nutrients. With the most nutritious part of the grain removed, white flour essentially becomes a form of sugar. Consider what gets lost in the refining process."

Being cheerful

"I'm not happy. I'm cheerful. There's a difference. A happy woman has no cares at all. A cheerful woman has cares but has learned how to deal with them."

Beverly Sills
1929-2007, Opera Singer

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Cares about Abortion?

"I was a militant, pro-abortion, anti-catholic feminist who had experienced two abortions of my own. I was a member of NOW, NARAL and I volunteered at Planned Parenthood. I participated in marches and protests wearing my “pro-choice” button. I screamed at pro-lifers who I believed were religious fanatics. I assumed these “religious fanatics” just wanted to keep women barefoot and pregnant. I also believed the Catholic Church (who in my opinion was the worst of the religious fanatics) was full of evil, misogynistic men who oppressed women. I would argue vehemently with anyone who disagreed with me.

A rush of memories greeted me as I watched those five women standing against that fence. While I gave my testimony and told the crowd a little bit about my former self. It struck me. Feminists groups do not care about women. They care about abortion."

Who give the most

"The people who receive the most are the ones who give the most. This is true of individuals, but also for businesses. If the focus is on how can we give the absolute best service, then the profits will follow. If a company is only focused on profits, they miss the big picture and will always be scurrying for business instead of having clients chasing them."

Susan Bagyura

The Annunciation

Luke 1.26-38: "And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How to measure success

"Remember, success is not measured by heights attained but by obstacles overcome. We're going to pass through many obstacles in our lives: good days, bad days. But the successful person will overcome those obstacles and constantly move forward."

Bruce Jenner
Olympian, Speaker and Entrepreneur

Monday, March 23, 2009

You Walk Wrong

"Walking is easy. It’s so easy that no one ever has to teach you how to do it. It’s so easy, in fact, that we often pair it with other easy activities—talking, chewing gum—and suggest that if you can’t do both simultaneously, you’re some sort of insensate clod. So you probably think you’ve got this walking thing pretty much nailed. As you stroll around the city, worrying about the economy, or the environment, or your next month’s rent, you might assume that the one thing you don’t need to worry about is the way in which you’re strolling around the city.

Well, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you: You walk wrong."

The best measure

"There is never a better measure of what a person is than what he does when he's absolutely free to choose."

William M. Bulger

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Looking to the future at age 97: Dr. Hinohara

"Don't be crazy about amassing material things. Remember: You don't know when your number is up, and you can't take it with you to the next place.

Hospitals must be designed and prepared for major disasters, and they must accept every patient who appears at their doors. We designed St. Luke's so we can operate anywhere: in the basement, in the corridors, in the chapel. Most people thought I was crazy to prepare for a catastrophe, but on March 20, 1995, I was unfortunately proven right when members of the Aum Shinrikyu religious cult launched a terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway. We accepted 740 victims and in two hours figured out that it was sarin gas that had hit them. Sadly we lost one person, but we saved 739 lives.

Science alone can't cure or help people. Science lumps us all together, but illness is individual. Each person is unique, and diseases are connected to their hearts. To know the illness and help people, we need liberal and visual arts, not just medical ones.

Life is filled with incidents. On March 31, 1970, when I was 59 years old, I boarded the Yodogo, a flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and as Mount Fuji came into sight, the plane was hijacked by the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction. I spent the next four days handcuffed to my seat in 40- degree heat. As a doctor, I looked at it all as an experiment and was amazed at how the body slowed down in a crisis.

Find a role model and aim to achieve even more than they could ever do. My father went to the United States in 1900 to study at Duke University in North Carolina. He was a pioneer and one of my heroes. Later I found a few more life guides, and when I am stuck, I ask myself how they would deal with the problem.

It's wonderful to live long. Until one is 60 years old, it is easy to work for one's family and to achieve one's goals. But in our later years, we should strive to contribute to society. Since the age of 65, I have worked as a volunteer. I still put in 18 hours seven days a week and love every minute of it."

Staying healthy: Dr. Hinohara

"When a doctor recommends you take a test or have some surgery, ask whether the doctor would suggest that his or her spouse or children go through such a procedure. Contrary to popular belief, doctors can't cure everyone. So why cause unnecessary pain with surgery? I think music and animal therapy can help more than most doctors imagine.

To stay healthy, always take the stairs and carry your own stuff. I take two stairs at a time, to get my muscles moving.

My inspiration is Robert Browning's poem "Abt Vogler." My father used to read it to me. It encourages us to make big art, not small scribbles. It says to try to draw a circle so huge that there is no way we can finish it while we are alive. All we see is an arch; the rest is beyond our vision but it is there in the distance.

Pain is mysterious, and having fun is the best way to forget it. If a child has a toothache, and you start playing a game together, he or she immediately forgets the pain. Hospitals must cater to the basic need of patients: We all want to have fun. At St. Luke's we have music and animal therapies, and art classes."

Dr. Hinohara on retirement

"Always plan ahead. My schedule book is already full until 2014, with lectures and my usual hospital work. In 2016 I'll have some fun, though: I plan to attend the Tokyo Olympics!

There is no need to ever retire, but if one must, it should be a lot later than 65. The current retirement age was set at 65 half a century ago, when the average life-expectancy in Japan was 68 years and only 125 Japanese were over 100 years old. Today, Japanese women live to be around 86 and men 80, and we have 36,000 centenarians in our country. In 20 years we will have about 50,000 people over the age of 100.

Share what you know. I give 150 lectures a year, some for 100 elementary-school children, others for 4,500 business people. I usually speak for 60 to 90 minutes, standing, to stay strong."

Weight and overweight: Dr. Hinohara

"All people who live long - regardless of nationality, race or gender - share one thing in common: None are overweight. For breakfast I drink coffee, a glass of milk and some orange juice with a tablespoon of olive oil in it. Olive oil is great for the arteries and keeps my skin healthy. Lunch is milk and a few cookies, or nothing when I am too busy to eat. I never get hungry because I focus on my work. Dinner is veggies, a bit of fish and rice, and, twice a week, 100 grams of lean meat."

Where energy comes from: advice from Dr. Hinohara

"Energy comes from feeling good, not from eating well or sleeping a lot. We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. I believe that we can keep that attitude as adults, too. It's best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime."

When you think you want to retire at 65

"At the age of 97 years and 4 months, Shigeaki Hinohara is one of the world's longest-serving physicians and educators. Hinohara's magic touch is legendary: Since 1941 he has been healing patients at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo and teaching at St. Luke's College of Nursing. After World War II, he envisioned a world-class hospital and college springing from the ruins of Tokyo; thanks to his pioneering spirit and business savvy, the doctor turned these institutions into the nation's top medical facility and nursing school. Today he serves as chairman of the board of trustees at both organizations. Always willing to try new things, he has published around 150 books since his 75th birthday, including one "Living Long, Living Good" that has sold more than 1.2 million copies. As the founder of the New Elderly Movement, Hinohara encourages others to live a long and happy life, a quest in which no role model is better than the doctor himself."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reading Plato

I'm one of those implacable nerds who still reads Plato. Not because I'm smart, but because I'm dumb. And there's so much to learn.

a good essay about Plato and his influences. "Plato is philosophy, and philosophy, Plato." And the older I get, the more I realize how much Plato got right.

Why It's OK for Newspapers to Die

The wailing among the Luddites about the dying newspaper industry is pathetic. Here's a succinct, well-written response.

"The transition that's taking place in the news publishing industry -- from print to online -- is a healthy step in technology-driven evolution, though there will undoubtedly be some short-term pain. The loss of print newspapers is akin to the loss of the horse and buggy. The Internet offers the potential for broader and deeper news reporting."

Can Vitamin D Cure the Common Cold?

"In the largest study yet of the association between vitamin D and respiratory infections, people with the lowest blood vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu. The risks were even higher for those with chronic respiratory disorders such as asthma.

Vitamin C has been used for the prevention of colds for decades, but little scientific evidence supports its effectiveness. In contrast, evidence has accumulated that vitamin D plays a key role in the immune system."

What the body can do

Some cool stuff for a Saturday morning!

Everything is Possible - video powered by Metacafe

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hip Fracture Risk Increases With Vitamin D Deficiency

"(NaturalNews) Menopausal women with low blood levels of vitamin D are significantly more likely to suffer from hip fractures, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers measured vitamin D blood levels in 800 white women from 40 clinics across the United States. All of the participants were between the ages of 50 and 79, and none of them were taking part in estrogen or other bone-active therapies. Half the participants had previously suffered from hip fractures."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How the future will change the way you live and work

Slash Your Prostate Cancer Risk -- With Sunlight!

"Men with prostate cancer are as much as seven times less likely to die if they have high levels of the “sunshine vitamin” -- vitamin D -- according to a new study.

The research looked at 160 patients with prostate cancer who were classified as having either low, medium, or high blood levels of vitamin D. Over the course of the multi-year study, 52 of the patients died of prostate cancer. Low vitamin D levels were found to significantly affect chances of survival."

What decisions are

"Every decision you make - every decision - is not a decision about what to do. It's a decision about Who You Are. When you see this, when you understand it, everything changes. You begin to see life in a new way. All events, occurrences, and situations turn into opportunities to do what you came here to do."

Neale Donald Walsch

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

U.S. Cancer Screening Trial Shows No Early Mortality Benefit from Annual Prostate Cancer Screening

Six annual screenings for prostate cancer led to more diagnoses of the disease, but no fewer prostate cancer deaths, according to a major new report from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial, a 17-year project of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. The PLCO was designed to provide answers about the effectiveness of prostate cancer screening.

The Lorica of St. Patrick

Belatedly, here's the most famous of St. Patrick's prayers. But this prayer is perennially good, and reflects the muscular Christianity Patrick believed, taught and confessed. When the Irish kitsch and drinking jokes surrounding St. Patrick's day start to get to you, ponder this prayer, and give thanks to God for bringing us such a saint, and pray that God that would make all of us such saints.

"I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation."

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

What big people do

"Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous - not just to some people in some circumstances - but to everyone all the time."

Thomas J. Watson
1874-1956, Founder of IBM

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Germans view our President: Obama dolls!

Der Spiegel informs us that there's an Obama craze sweeping across Germany. Unfortunately, like a white person singing black gospel, our German friends just don't seem to getting the rhythm right. As with this doll.

More Than 1 in 3 Common Cancers Could Be Preventable

"More than a third of common adult cancers may be preventable in the U.S., and this does not even count cancers that could be prevented by not smoking OR factor in the benefit of optimizing vitamin D levels."

St. Patrick

A good short (and moving) introduction to St. Patrick on this, his feast day.

The end of an era

One of my brothers is a newspaper journalist, and he says he's a dinosaur. Not because of his work (he's a skilled and interesting writer) but because of who he works for: a print newspaper.

This is yet another story about the closing of a print newspaper. It's not the first, and certainly not the only such story today. Journalism is not over, and journalists will have plenty of work to do in the future. But for now, news coverage as a printed paper will be over soon.

Already, it's starting to seem kind of quaint: the idea of delivering a printed edition. Not so much for the news articles, but for stock listings, weather forecasts and other information that updates constantly. When I was a child, we subscribed to 2 newspapers. My family now subscribes to one, and I wouldn't have that one except that -- and this is one of those curiosities of life -- my children like a print newspaper.

But like a town crier, that era is soon to be over. Who could have known that that would be one of the results of the internet?

DHA Rejuvenates Aging Brain Cells

"A new cell study sheds light on the importance of DHA for brain cell growth and rejuvenation. The study shows that DHA helps to turn on gene transcription factors for neural stem cells to grow. This data indicates how good nutrition can help to promote healthier brain function and offset the wear and tear of aging."

Giving thanks

"The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!"

Henry Ward Beecher
1813-1887, Author

Monday, March 16, 2009

Coffee: The New Health Food?

"Want a drug that could lower your risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and colon cancer? That could lift your mood and treat headaches? That could lower your risk of cavities?

If it sounds too good to be true, think again.

Coffee, the much maligned but undoubtedly beloved beverage, just made headlines for possibly cutting the risk of the latest disease epidemic, type 2 diabetes. And the real news seems to be that the more you drink, the better."

Who's happiest?

"I think I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others."

Booker T. Washington
1856-1915, Educator and Author

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Study Shows Skin Cream May Cause Skin Tumors

"(NaturalNews) Common commercial skin care products may increase users' risk of contracting skin cancer, according to a paper by researchers from Rutgers University and published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology."

How Cranberry Products Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

ScienceDaily (Mar. 12, 2009) — Chemicals present in cranberries—and not the acidity of cranberry juice, as previously thought—prevent infection-causing bacteria from attaching to the cells that line the urinary tract, as documented in a report published in Journal of Medicinal Food.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

St. Patrick's Breastplate

"Permit us not, O Lord, to hear your word in vain. Convince us of its truth, cause us to feel its power and bind us to yourself with cords of faith and hope and love that never shall be broken. We bind to ourselves today, you our God: your power to hold us, your hand to guide us, your eye to watch us, your ear to hear us, your wisdom to teach us, your word to give us speech, your presence to defend us, this day and every day; in the name of the blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to whom be the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and forever. Amen."

St. Patrick

Problems and blessings

"Instead of dwelling on problems, count your blessings."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Grant Horner's plan for Bible reading

Knowing your Bible is one of those mega-goals for a lifetime, something that's worth spending lots of time, energy and effort on.

Of course, the goal isn't Bible knowledge alone. Even the devils believe -- that is, have intellectual knowledge, see James 2.19 -- but our goal in Bible reading is to know the one who wrote the Bible -- our God, the Lord of Heaven and earth.

A buddy and I have been having an ongoing argument about Bible translations. I think that most modern translations are terrible mistakes, not in themselves, but in the sense that they tend to prevent people from ultimately learning the Bible. People who skip from translation to translation don't memorize and when we don't memorize, we don't have those mental "hooks" that enable us to think theologically. What it comes down to is that a society which is awash in copies of the Bible has a church that doesn't know the Bible as well as illiterates did a thousand years ago, a time when people thought biblically, and lived in a society with a common parlance in the Scriptures.

I just found out about this plan last night. Obviously, I haven't put it into effect. But I am impressed by what it might enable us to do.

Professor Grant Horner's Bible reading plan

Supplements of DIM Stop Many Cancers in Their Tracks

"(NaturalNews) An anti-cancer compound found in broccoli and cabbage stops
breast cancer by lowering the activity of an enzyme associated with rapidly
advancing breast cancer, according to a recent study from the University of
California, Berkley.
That compound was indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Today,
scientists have found that diindolymethane (DIM), a molecule found in I3C,
is the chemoprotective compound that gets the job done. According to them,
DIM is the better choice for women wanting to halt breast cancer."

Antidepressants Strongly Linked to Heart Disease

"Researchers have documented an alarming link between the use of antidepressants and the development of serious heart disease. The link was discovered by following 63,449 women as part of the Nurses’ Health Study. The results show a “specific relationship between antidepressant use and sudden cardiac death.” The specific conclusion of the study states, “In this cohort of women without baseline coronary heart disease, depressive symptoms were associated with fatal coronary heart disease, and a measure of clinical depression including antidepressant use was specifically associated with sudden cardiac death.”

Multiple Sclerosis Caused by Vitamin D Deficiency

"(NaturalNews) Researchers from Oxford University and the University of British Columbia have discovered that Vitamin D deficiency affects a section of the human genome already linked with multiple sclerosis (MS) risk, adding further weight to theories that this vitamin deficiency might play a role in development of the disease.

"Here we show that the main environmental risk candidate -- vitamin D -- and the main gene region are directly linked and interact," said co-author George Ebers."

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Mental Decline

"(NaturalNews) The risk of age-related cognitive decline is significantly increased by vitamin D deficiency, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan, and published in the Journal of Geriatric Psychology.

Researchers assessed the vitamin D status and cognitive function of 2,000 people over the age of 64, finding an inverse correlation between blood levels of vitamin D and performance on tests of attention, memory, and orientation in time and space."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why nerds are unpopular

Everyone's a nerd in some area or the other. We all have that quirky interest arena that we're really good at, and few others share.

But there are nerds, and there are nerds. And the nerds this guy is speaking about are the geeky ones, and this is a good analysis of what went on in high school: for those who were nerds, and those who attacked them.

The sunshine vitamin

Did you ever notice how many obituaries you are seeing these days?

I don't mean, "this year." I mean now, during the winter.

I'm becoming convinced that a good part of that -- the large number of deaths this time of year -- is due to a lack of sunshine during the winter. Here's a short video detailing why vitamin D is so important to us.

What persistence does

"My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories."

Bjorn Borg
Professional Tennis Player

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to think of yourself

"I don't think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good."

Oprah Winfrey
Television Personality and Producer

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In the present

"One day at a time - this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone: and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering."

Ida Scott Taylor
1820-1915, Author

The Sunny Side of Eggs

"Despite decades of advice that the cholesterol in eggs is bad for you, researchers now report evidence that eggs might actually reduce high blood pressure.

The scientists found egg proteins that, in laboratory simulations of the human digestive process, seem to be as good as common prescription medications for lowering blood pressure."

5 Tips to Conquer Your Winter Blues Now!

"Are you one of the millions of people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) -- sometimes known as the winter blues? Here’s how you can beat those blues and keep them away during the cold months of winter.

The fact that treatments such as sunlight and natural light therapy can help to rid you of depression is just another example of the fact that, when you take the proper approach to your health and provide your body with all that it needs, drugs are rarely, if ever, necessary."

Monday, March 09, 2009

International news with less spin

Americans tend to operate as though we were a huge island nation, and that the world pretty much ends at our borders. We need international news, but mainstream news sources provide it rarely, and poorly when they do.

A good source -- discovered yesterday -- is Globalpost.com, which uses actual reporters on the ground around the world. What I've been able to explore so far looks good.

Action without thought

"Whatever failures I have known, whatever errors I have committed, whatever follies I have witnessed in private and public life have been the consequence of action without thought."

Bernard M. Baruch
1870-1965, American Financier

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Divine Majesty Beheld in the Feelings of Our Human Nature

"Many things we read and believe, in the light of the sacrament of the incarnation. But even in the very feelings of our human nature we may behold the divine majesty. Jesus is wearied with his journey, that he may refresh the weary; he desires to drink when about to give spiritual drink to the thirsty; he was hungry, when about to supply the food of salvation to the hungry."

St. Ambrose of Milan, Of The Christian Faith, regarding John 4.5-42

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Cool things you can do with Google

Google continues to be one of the most overall useful sites on the net. This is a good summary of some stuff you might not know about.

Mossad Link Found to One of Key 9-11 Hijackers

Within 24 hours, the 9/11 events had suffered from the American propensity to oversimplify very complex events. American mainstream media have done the same -- and continue to do so -- with such events as John Kennedy's death, Martin Luther King's assassination, the Reagan shooting, the Columbine events, and the Oklahoma City bombings.

The reality is that almost the simplest of crimes are complex. We can read the local news and discover that. But we as a society like a very simple, black and white explanation. This is yet another example of why 9/11 will continue to keep researchers busy for decades -- if not centuries -- to come.

"A NEW ISRAELI CONNECTION to the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 has recently been unveiled. Buried in a New York Times story on Feb. 19 was the eye-opening revelation that a Lebanese Muslim Arab who has been taken into custody by the Lebanon—which has accused him of being a spy for some 25 years for Israeli intelligence—just happens to be a cousin of one of the Muslims alleged to have been one of the 9-11 hijackers.

Although Ali al-Jarrah was—publicly—an outspoken proponent of the Palestinian cause, it now turns out that he was actually working as a paid asset of the Mossad for more than two decades, betraying his own nation and conducting spying operations against Palestinian groups and the pro-Palestinian party Hezbollah."

Experts uncover cause of greyness

"It is an accepted part of the ageing process, but experts say understanding how grey hair happens could help find a way to prevent it.

Experiments found it is caused by a massive build-up of hydrogen peroxide due to wear and tear of hair follicles, which blocks hair's natural pigment."

Dead Sea Scrolls researcher's son arrested

The Dead Sea Scrolls controversy continues. I read -- and was persuaded by -- Norman Golb's Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?, and now Golb's son has been arrested for issues related to this.

"Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau today announced the arrest of a 49-year-old man for creating multiple aliases to engage in a campaign of impersonation and harassment relating to the Dead Sea Scrolls and scholars of opposing viewpoints.

The defendant, RAPHAEL HAIM GOLB, was arrested on charges of identity theft, criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment. The crimes in the Criminal Court Complaint occurred during the period of July to December of 2008."

Thursday, March 05, 2009


"Real obstacles don't take you in circles. They can be overcome. Invented ones are like a maze."

Barbara Sher

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Retirement and death

Why do people want to retire?

Part of it is they don't like their jobs. That's certainly a problem. And if someone says, "I want to retire because I hate my job," my advice is to find another job. Life is too short, and there are no guarantees, so stop making yourself miserable.

But that's not what I'm talking about today. What I'm talking about is a bigger issue, one that I don't think we as a society realize or want to acknowledge. Sometimes people retire because they want to boast. Boast, brag, whatever you want to call it, they want to be able to say, "I made it."

Because -- usually -- that's what early retirement is. The person in question has made a lot of money, made good investments, been employed at a company that had some kind of phenomenal plan, or some combination thereof. We look at someone who is comfortably retired at 54, and think, "You're the man."

This past year has not been pleasant, financially speaking. It's not easy to see investment accounts drop, often precipitously. But the other irritation is that many folks are going to have to postpone a planned retirement for years. Often many years.

Not retiring -- for most people -- is a public statement that, "I didn't do as well as I'd thought I would."

And that's tough.

Men should never retire. Men who retire traditionally die within a couple of years. This happens so often that I'm astonished that men don't take it into account. But we seldom do. We imagine a retirement filled with luxurious travel, fine dining, and leisure. What we get is a quick decline in health, and an early death.

Women are different. Women can retire, enjoy their lives, care for a home, enjoy grandchildren, whatever. And they don't die.

Men need a purpose. And men who retire lose the primary purpose in life: their calling, their vocation, their job.

Some men will argue that they can retire into another calling. That they'll do volunteer work, play golf, whatever. That's not wrong, but the reality is that most of those pastimes are just something to fill the time. And if it's just filling the time, there's something very deep within us that says the time can be filled quite easily by just dying.

I'm not suggesting we shouldn't change work. Most professional football players won't be doing that work at 63, or even 43. But I think that men should consciously plan to work for decades after the now-traditional age of 65. Men need a purpose. Retirement is not a purpose. It's death. If you were planning to retire next year, and the current economic debacle has put that on hold, be thankful. There is little to appreciate about the venal politicians of this or the past administration, but their blundering incompetence (which is the kindest way I can describe it) may have saved your life.


"When you're 'happy for no reason,' you bring happiness to your everyday experiences rather than try to extract happiness from them. It's not that your life always looks perfect - it's that however it looks, you'll still be happy!"

Marci Shimoff

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The environment you choose

"Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them."

W. Clement Stone
1902-2002, Author and Businessman

Monday, March 02, 2009

Low Vitamin D Linked to Colds and Flu

"Vitamin D may be an important way to arm the immune system against disorders like the common cold, report investigators from The University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Children's Hospital Boston."

Doing your work the best you can

"The prizes go to those who meet emergencies successfully. And the way to meet emergencies is to do each daily task the best we can."

William Feather
1889-1981, Publisher and Author

It's Snowtime! NC's first good snow in several years