Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An American Poem for a fading dream.

My mother wrote a poem in response to a song written by my older brother, and I thought I would share it here as a beautiful reflection on the fading of the America that we all have known and loved.

A link to my bother's song: ... then click "My Faith, My Country"

Here is the poem:

So tempting for me to
Fall backwards and only wonder,
To wander to,
Back in the day.

For today is not my story, nor
My ways.
Is there a way,
Out of this strange charade?

Back in the day,
I was richer,
Yet, poorer, too.
For I must say,
I enjoy this now of knowing
More than I knew,
Back in the day.

But what treasure
There was in those banished winds of sun!
Sweet sun was all I cared about,
And the golden poppies, and palominos --
In one, breathtaking breeze,
They'd crackle richer colors through the summer wheat,
Like warm magic.

And, yet,
It was when the day spun out,
And the moon
And the holy stars spun in,
That breathing was complete,
Back in the day.

Grey rocks with cave-less, airless
Harsh holes,
And no wonder,
Feed on our fallings, and fears of tomorrow
Of a dread dark coming of un-spun heat,
Or, maybe, snow.

Youth and freedom does not work that way:
Clamped down in a cold grey sheet
Of a cold grey state of fogged control.

There are American types of
Bright and holy bandits,
Who open up
History's storehouses of starry light, and,
More than want, they
Ride! The gleams of
Good winds of change.

These American knights crackle
With the romp and ribbons of new bones,
And pray the blessings
We never say, anymore.

Beyond dreaming
Of old doors of summer wheat
And resolutions in full moons,
They mount, shimmering ghostly steeds if they must,
To see:

The hidden coins of golden realms that
Are our freedoms in the sun.
Our gifts from God,
Cherished, by those who died
Sunlit in His moon,
Back in the day.

              by Mary Tracy
                   Feast of St. Barnard

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

At my parents' house to watch election results with the family. Hoping to tweet about it as well, so follow me there.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

AVATAR and Lacking Truth in Science Fiction

When it comes to science fiction, I can do a fair job of removing myself from the contemporary politics and other rattlings in culture that it is supposed to be referencing and attempting to indoctrinate me in so that I can just enjoy a good yarn. I went to see AVATAR with the same thing in mind. I knew what I was stepping into, much of which is described in the post below, but I prepared myself and decided I would just enjoy the story.

Now the Big Environmental Message, I was like ... whatever. The "Gaia" story has been part of the Science Fiction genre since its inception. Nothing new there and so I had less of a problem with it. I know that Cameron is trying to sell me a bill of goods about global warming and how evil we are ... but being way overly-read in the science fiction genre, it was easy to just fold it into the Gaia Science Fiction category (granted it doesn't hold a candle to Asimov's take on that at the end of the Foundation series ... but I digress into my geekiness).

Here was the real problem for me. In probably the most emotional part of the film as the Marines (and they are US Marines ... they are not some meta-Earth-United type military group) essentially commit a massacre on a huge scale (and also on a personal scale in that its not like they're off in a bunker and hit a button and somewhere some people die ... they're there on the ground personally doing it) of sentient, humanoid (and generally human looking ... in other words an alien one can relate to) natives, one is supposed to believe the scenario. But here is where the film failed completely for me. I am supposed to believe that a bunch of US Marines raised vaguely (although the year is not really defined) somewhere in the 21st century, having been raised in an America where not only is there the unique story of our own relationship to the Native Americans but we also have been surrounded by stories like Dances With Wolves, etc etc ... Marines trained not only in warfare but being able to recognize who the enemy is (the Jarheads in other words are not mindless guns) ... I am supposed to believe that they would sit there and through the course of the film commit genocide willingly ... fully understanding what they are doing? That just strikes me as unbelieveable. The genius of any good science fiction is that it has beneath the fanciful the possibility for truth. Its what makes it so fascinating. But to believe that a group of 21st century American Marines, characters we can recognize and relate to culturally as they are not far enough removed from contemporary real Marines, would be so willing to commit genocide both physically and culturally (there is a real Taliban-destroying-cultural-monuments moment in the movie except its the Marines doing it) just feels false. From that first massacre on, I just could not relate to the movie at all anymore ... it moved beyond Science Fiction into just a poorly written story based on no truth whatsoever (that seed of truth being the hallmark of any good science fiction).

Was it a visually stunning 2 1/2 hour adventure? Yes. But in the end it was just intellectually and emotionally insulting. I was able to successfully divorce myself from today's politics in order to enjoy the movie (it was a conscious effort on my part) ... but all that came to a crashing end when I was supposed to "suspend my disbelief" at the concept of relatively contemporary American Marines willfully committing genocide. I honestly think this part of the movie is the one people should be complaining about the most.

Monday, October 5, 2009

So ... writing and stuff.

Obviously it has been some time since I've written anything and my apologies for that. Been busy with moving, discerning the next step in my life and whatnot.

As I am preparing to ask to enter St. Andrew's Abbey in Cleveland as a Benedictine, I am not sure how much ability I will have to maintain the blog, as sparsely as I do. Hopefully I can continue to post essays and whatnot. I will update how things go with my life as I prepare for my postulancy when I can.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Civic Writing - Bloggers Emerge!

A good friend of mine who teaches at Framingham State College in Massachusetts has created a program for her students in civic writing via the use of blog writing. I'd encourage people to check it out and see what they are up to. Be kind and offer constructive criticism please ... it is for them a learning experience!

Civic Writing @ FSC

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Darwinism, Intelligent Design and the Queen of the Sciences

So I just finished watching Ben Stein's document "Expelled" where he talks about Darwinism vs Intelligent Design in Academia. Now this documentary has been portrayed to me via Facebook discussions as some super pro-religious betrayel on the part of Stein against truth. I myself was not interested in someone espousing Creationism to me ... a concept I very much disfavor academically. What I was suprised to discover was that Stein was not attempting to espouse Intelligent Design or Darwinism. He was simply following a line of logic and inquiry in what is going on in academia today, in particular in the sciences, in regards to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. I honestly had not educated myself very much on Intelligent Design. As a Catholic, I have a very good understanding of the role of science and its purpose in relation to our true relationship with the Trinity. In other words, science does not scare me. I do not shrink from it, on the contrary I embrace it enthusiastically (in particular astromony and astrophysics). Nor has evolution ever been a problem for me. I am able to very comfortably and with excitement reconcile evolution with the story of the Creation, etc. In fact that is the wrong way to put it ... no reconciliation is required. They are melodies which form a harmonious accord.

So as I watched this documentary, I was able to get an understanding of Intelligent Design as I had not had before. What I realized was that the scientific establishment has denied the possibility that there can be a harmonious accord. There is only the one melody, that is science. And science is both the means AND the ends. A pursuit of truth is not something which is desired, because if the ultimate goal of science IS the pursuit of truth (which by the way it is) than one must allow the freedom of inquiry to scientifically theorize on the possibility of Intelligent Design.

This got me to thinking about Theology as it was once referred: "The Queen of Sciences". What does that mean? If the modern scientific establishment holds as it golden calf Darwinism, with all its faults ... and yes all of its scientific truths ... how does it once refer to its Queen? Obviously it doesn't regard it at all. Science is the tool we, as human beings, use to understand the world and ourselves by Reason. Two of the principle aspects of science is practical knowledge and speculative inquiry guided by Reason. Theology utilizes and in fact defines science. It sets itself above science because it is not dependent on it ... Theology is Human Reason reaching and yearning for the Knowledge of God. It then inserts this definition of itself into the sciences and through them uses practical knowledge of the world and speculative inquiry of what we do not know in order to Reason and understand Creation. Theology is what gives science its meaning.

"[T]heology . . . may find itself the one discipline capable of integrating the otherwise unconnected disciplines that constitute the modern university. . . . 'the purpose of the university is to find love at the heart of all things, for love is the cause of the world. This does not mean that the study of atoms is going to show that love rather than neutrons and protons is to be found. Rather, once the atomic structure has been explicated the question of how such ordering analogically facilitates the possibilities of love, harmony, beauty, and truth is vital, and is another way of recognizing the ethical and methodological dimensions of the disciplines.'" Stanley Hauerwas, "Theology as Knowledge: A Symposium" First Things (May 2006)

I believe the quote above defines what I am attempting to say very well. And so to bring us back to Darwinism. Here is a beautiful scientific pursuit which does help us understand and speculate about ourselves as human beings. But when you remove the higher purpose of science from it ... when you remove that "love at the heart of all things" it becomes an instrument of destruction, as Stein's documentary very well maps out. Darwinism without love and dignity of the human person as a priveleged being leads ultimately to eugenics. And eugenics is nothing more than the willful extermination of fellow human beings in the name of science, which dirties and sullies the beauty that is Science itself. One of my favourite sayings comes from the Talmud, which I will paraphrase here:

"Even the lowliest, dirtiest human being walking down the lowliest, dirtiest alley is preceded by a host of angels proclaiming: 'Make way! Make way for the Image of God!'"

The established scientific community so clinging to Darwinism as a means and ends in and of itself sees only a lowly and dirty human being, unfit to survive in a world of survival of the fittest. Darwinism set rightly and understood through Reason with Intelligent Design ... rightly within the loving embrace of Theology ... sees the Image of God. And what a wonderful world that is.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus passes away

Sad news today as I learned that Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, one of my contemporay heroes passed away today. A truly great priest and theologian.