Papa-Lu: June 2007 Archives

Ross Douthat

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On Mary's Virginity

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Forgive me while I state the obvious:

When Archangel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive and bear a child, this should not have been a big deal. Obviously the part about "Son of the Most High" would have filled her with awe, but not the part about actually getting pregnant. After all, Mary was engaged, so that is pretty much the normal course of things: get married, have sex, make babies. But to Mary, there was something wrong in all of this. She asks the angel, "How can this be since I do not know man?"

If, prior to this encounter, Mary had planned on having marital relations with Joseph, her question would make no sense. The angel had told her she was about to conceive, not that she already had conceived. The only way her response to Gabriel makes sense is if Mary does not plan on having sex with Joseph.

Now, surely most people who have read Luke closely already knew this, but somehow this evaded me for about 5 years after (re-)becoming Catholic. It's not that I didn't accept Mary's post-nuptial virginity, just that I never read this passage in that light - and I surely read it many times on my own, not to mention the several times I would have heard it in the liturgy or encountered it written meditations or lectures.

But maybe it's not so obvious. Many of our Protestant brethren, many of whom accept Scripture as inerrant, castigate us Catholics for denying that Jesus had full blood-siblings. What gives?

Anyway, what brought this to mind is that Edward Sri addressed this very issue at greater length in this essay from a recent issue of Lay Witness Magazine.

To use an analogy: If someone said to me, "You will die of lung cancer in the future," and I replied, "How can this be since I do not smoke?" my response would not simply describe a present circumstance ("I don’t happen to be smoking right now"). Rather, it would indicate a long-term intention on my part to avoid smoking ("Smoking is not something I ever intend to do"). Analogously, Mary’s expression "I do not know man"—when seen in the wider context of the Annunciation account—further suggests her commitment to remain a virgin for the rest of her life.
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More on "The Dangerous Books for Boys"

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The author has an op-ed in the WaPo.

When I had a son of my own six years ago, I looked around for the sort of books that would inspire him. I was able to find some practical modern ones, but none with the spirit and verve of those old titles. I wanted a single compendium of everything I'd ever wanted to know or do as a boy, and I decided to write my own. My brother, now a theater director in Leicester, a city in the midlands of England, was the obvious choice as co-writer. I had dedicated my first book "To my brother Hal, the other member of the Black Cat Club." It was official at last. I persuaded him to come and work with me 12 hours a day for six months in a shed.

We began with everything we had done as kids, then added things we didn't want to see forgotten. History today is taught as a feeble thing, with all the adventure taken out of it. We wanted stories of courage because boys love those. We wanted stories about men like Royal Air Force fighter pilot Douglas Bader, Scott of the Antarctic, the Wright Brothers -- boys like to read about daring men, always with the question: Would I be as brave or as resourceful? I sometimes wonder why people make fun of boys going to science fiction conventions without realizing that it shows a love of stories. Does every high school offer a class on adventure tales? No -- and then we complain that boys don't read anymore...

Finally, we chose our title -- "The Dangerous Book for Boys." It's about remembering a time when danger wasn't a dirty word. It's safer to put a boy in front of a PlayStation for a while, but not in the long run. The irony of making boys' lives too safe is that later they take worse risks on their own. You only have to push a baby boy hard on a swing and see his face light up. It's not learned behavior -- he's hardwired to enjoy a little risk. Ask any man for a good memory from childhood and he'll tell you about testing his courage or getting injured. No one wants to see a child get hurt, but we really did think the bumps and scratches were badges of honor, once.

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More Ron Paul

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  • Wired - "How a Fringe Politician Took Over the Web
  • Interviewed at length by Tom Ashbrook on On Point. If you want to know more about Ron Paul, start here.

    Some gems:

    Ashbrook: Congressman, what about it? You say, "No Department of Education," "No Department of Homeland Security," "No Department of Energy," "No" to abortion, "No" to gun control... "No" to immigration reform. You are Dr. No.

    Paul: Well, I'm Dr. Yes for the constitution and I'm Dr. Yes for liberty... I approach all of those positions through the Constitution because it's the only oath I take... So I see no place in the constitution for the department of education. I also see that it's not doing a very good job.

    Later...

    "...Containment has worked before. We stood down the Soviets with 40,000 nuclear weapons... We didn't have to fight them. But here we're going after countries with nuclear weapons and they don't even have nuclear weapons."

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Ryno

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No, I'm not whining about pro-choice Republicans, I'm bringing you gold - USA Today's profile of Hall of Fame Cub Ryne Sandberg midway through his first year managing the Cubbies Class A affiliate in Peoria.

Sandberg, 47, approaches his job with the Peoria Chiefs in the same manner he did everything in his 15 seasons as the Cubs' second baseman — The Right Way. No shortcuts, no big-leaguing it, no mailing it in. He rides the team buses, stays in the economy motels, takes his rotation pitching for batting practice, coaches third base during games and files daily reports on his players....

Sandberg's credentials — 10 consecutive All-Star Games, nine consecutive Gold Gloves for defensive excellence, 1,061 runs batted in and a .285 career batting average — give the manager instant credibility with his aspiring players, who range in age from 18 to 24. Some remember seeing him play; some don't.

Sandberg hears one comment often from them: "Hey Ryno, you were my parents' favorite player."

That notion definitely plays in Peoria: The Chiefs' second baseman is Ryne Malone, and the spelling of that first name is no coincidence. The Clinton, Iowa, native was named after Sandberg.

Hmm... Anthony Ryne Lu? Er... pretend you didn't read that.

I didn't know until I read this that Sandberg interviewed for the Cubs job last year. That must have been in my disenchanted period. According to the article, Hendry recommended he take over Peoria to get some experience.

This reminds me, I gotta get out there for a game.

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Dawn Eden in Chicago

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For all you Chicagoans, Dawn Eden is going to be discussing and signing copies of her book at St. Alphonsus Church in my old stomping grounds on July 10th. It should be a good time!

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Book Reviews

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  • Girls Gone Mild: The WSJ reviews Wendy Shalit's latest. Shalit authored the excellent (according to Jenny, I've not read it) Return to Modesty

  • Unnatural Acts - Ramesh Ponnuru, the only National Review writer I still read, had a review in the spring Claremont Review of Books that has finally made its way online. Here's the first graph:

    Toward the beginning of Challenging Nature, Lee Silver sounds a defensive note: "I do not claim that all expressions of spirituality are harmful or bad. Nor do I think that all biotech applications are inherently good, ethical, or risk-free." It was wise of the Princeton molecular biologist to include those two sentences. The reader might otherwise have been misled by every other sentence in the book into thinking that Silver considers religion a regrettable—though regrettably ineradicable—feature of human society, and that no serious limits should be placed on biotechnology.
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Name That Baby

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This is nuts. Neurotic parents paying third parties to recommend names for their babies. Is there any part of parenting we won't outsource?

Some parents are checking Social Security data to make sure their choices aren't too trendy, while others are fussing over every consonant like corporate branding experts. They're also pulling ideas from books, Web sites and software programs, and in some cases, hiring professional baby-name consultants who use mathematical formulas.

Professional baby-name consultants? Seriously? This would be only laughably pathetic if it weren't a symptom of a rejection of traditional family and religious ties.

At our parish, Jenny and I are in charge of a committee that conducts classes for parents who want to have children baptized. One of the things we do is have everybody talk about their own names and the names they plan to give (or have already given) their children. We try to hit the point of having a saint's name, though really I'm equally impressed with couples who have dear family members they wish to honor as with couples who pull them out of the breviary.

Yet increasingly, the answer to "Who are you named after?" will be "Nobody," and on top of the usual angst, tomorrow's teenagers will also have to deal with the fact that, after drafting college students and unemployed poor women to carry them, and before shipping them off to daycare 6 weeks after birth, their parents also PayPal-ed five bills to a complete stranger to draft a naming portfolio. How much more will the insecurity be multiplied when they realize that the appellation strategy consisted of misspelling a perfectly good name and that they are going to spend the rest of their lives paying for their parents' idiocy by spelling their names two or three times to every customer service representative and civil servant they encounter?

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Beatings

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As the father of two boys 18 months apart, this resonates, though I should also point out that on Saturday little Charlie (my baby!) bludgeoned his older brother with a small but dense wooden block.

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Ron Paul

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The American Conservative has two pieces on Congressman Paul this week: Michael Brendan Dougherty has a very favourable profile while Kara Hopkins zeros in on the Paul/Giuliani spat from the Republican presidential debate and on the shameful way Paul has been treated since.

other Paul sightings:

Also, Catholics for Ron Paul is up and running.

I'm not quite on the Paul bandwagon, but he gets more appealing every day.

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The Greatest Blog Ever

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Cardboard Gods - dedicated to baseball heros of yesterday. PG-13 language.

Thank you, Ross. I mean it.

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June 17th (Sunday) ain't just my son's b-day

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Part 2

There's still time! Oh, and here's part 1 if you missed it.

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Cool Web Junk

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First, some blogger, I cannot now remember who, directs us to The Redistricting Game - gerrymander your way to permanent job security!

Second, Ask.com has a pretty nifty new redesign.

I ran a search for Aramis Ramirez. The center of the screen gave a normal search result. The left sidebar gave a few different options: narrow search ("Is Aramis Ramirez married?" asked some enterprising female), expand search ("Chicago Cubs") and related searches ("Manny Ramirez").

But that wasn't it: after a few seconds, the left bar started filling out more, giving me more options. Now, I could narrow my search down to "Aramis Ramirez Jersey" or expand it to "Dominican Republic Baseball" There also appeared a column on the right side, where I could find images of A-Ram, his Wikipedia entry, and recent news and blog posts about him.

I'm sure google's not quite shaking in their boots yet. I think if I were searching for say, a specific page or article, I'd still use google. But if I were a blogger typing a post about, say, St. Boniface, this link puts on one page links to:

  • several hagiographical entries,
  • images I might swipe to put in my post,
  • other recent blog posts about St. Boniface, and
  • the story of the pagan oak tree.

Very neat stuff.

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Letting boys be boys

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The NY Sun reviews a book that sounds promising.

"The Dangerous Book for Boys" (Collins, 288 pages, $24.95), by the British brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden, is a big red textbook of facts and figures, diagrams and blueprints, games and projects, and history and advice, meant to encourage curiosity, self-reliance, and fearlessness in the male of the species...

If this book ought to worry anyone, it's lazy teachers, cynical marketing executives, drug-pushing psychiatrists, and anyone else who takes advantage of children and the popular nonsense about their fragility and incompetence. The only negative reviews on Amazon.com whine about glaring omissions or that the contents aren't dangerous enough. They're on the right track, but they miss the point: A taste of what's cool and challenging is all that kids need to strike out on their own bruised, scraped, sometimes concussed journeys of discovery...

They've bequeathed our country a textbook for boys who hope to become men, whereas the present system produces boys who can only hope to become older, fatter, more dependent boys. The Igguldens detail the rules of soccer (along with stickball and rugby), but in their section on word origins they also give the etymology and definition of "hooligan," not to mention "quisling," "thug," and "assassin."

And "chivalry." The book is a deeply moral one, which recognizes that just because boys will be boys doesn't mean they have to be stupid or malicious ones. It's never too early to memorize useful Latin phrases or Shakespeare quotations or poems by Kipling and Shelley. Of "Ozymandias," they write, in their lapidary textbook style, "This poem was written as a commentary on human arrogance." Your average elementary school teacher would have complained that the vocabulary is too difficult, or the verse lacking in relevance, which means it isn't about drugs or teen pregnancy. The Igguldens, like most boys, know better.

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Heart of Jesus...

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A very shorter Christopher Hitchens

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Twittering the Imitation

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I don't know what "Twitter" is, or whether verbing* it is appropriate as I did in the title of this post, but somebody took the time to email me that he's posting little bits of "The Imitation of Christ" to it (140 characters at a time), so I thought I'd share in case any of you are Twitterers.

*Verbing weirds language

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Heart of Jesus...

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...substantially united to the Word of God, have mercy on us!

Fr. Mark's Sacred Heart meditations continue.

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Sopranos

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Everybody is getting into the act. Even Peggy Noonan's column is about the Sopranos this week.

Would this be a bad time to mention that I've never seen it?

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Where are you, Andre?

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Ode to a City

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Cool tech stuff

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Ha!

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Chris DeLuca on Zambrano's fresh start:

"I'm 1-0 with 6 2/3 innings, and from now on, I will try to think like that."

The official record will show that Zambrano is 6-5 with a 5.38 ERA and pummeled his own catcher in his previous outing.

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Brothers Fighting

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Mariotti on Z and Barrett:

An enraged human being doesn't beat the snot out of someone -- six stitches, one black eye, facial cuts, permanent dignity loss -- and then feel enough love for a brother 18 hours later to weep in his arms. Same goes for Barrett, who couldn't possibly have looked in the mirror and felt affection for Zambrano.

I bet you a million dollars that Jay Mariotti does not have brothers (or, ahem, little boys close to the same age) - oh, and also that he has never seriously competed in sports. This stuff happens all of the time. Guys get ticked off when the team is doing bad, they misdirect that anger at teammates, go at it, and then kiss and make up. It's neither a good nor smart thing to do, and it's absolutely crazy to do it in the dugout in front of the cameras, but it's what happens, especially with incredibly competitive guys like Z and Barrett. It's not a matter of Barrett looking in the mirror and feeling "affection," it's about forgiving your buddy because you're feeling the same frustration that he is.

Man, I remember going at it with my best friends over pick-up basketball - the shoving, the swinging, the cursing, being separated by our friends. Then you walked away, the adrenaline and testosterone rushes abated and there were never hard feelings afterwards.

For all of his bluster and arrogance in his writing (and especially his TV appearances), Mariotti very often seems to not know what it's like to be a man.

Oh, there's also this:

Zambrano said all the right things after the 6-2 win. The night before, he told himself, "Tomorrow is the season opening for you. Forget about anything else. Just start from tomorrow." But isn't that a dicey proposition for anyone thinking of paying him up to $100 million -- that he starts the season two months late?

Shame on Zambrano for trying to make a fresh start after a disastrous two months! How dare he start over? Keep sucking eggs Zambrano! Lose! Lose! Lose!

Reports of Jay Mariotti being an arrogant jerk are highly under-exaggerated.

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Those durned anti-modern Catholics!

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Oh how they hate science!

Seriously, it's an excellent summary of the challenges of stem cell science, though I wish he went a little more into why some opponents of ANT approve of ANT-OAR.

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Amen

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Liberal Matt Yglesias:

To me, a shockingly large and diverse group of B List Republicans -- Huckabee, Brownback, Tancredo, and even in their ways Paul and Thompson -- are more impressive than the official "big three." They all seemed to me to come much closer than Giuliani, McCain, or Romney to be coming at things from a principle, coherent point of view. The top contenders are all "Reagan! Terror! Bush! Terror! Reagan! Terreagan!" and weirdly busy running away from their actual records.

I don't know if I'm so "shocked." The practice seems to be for the media, commercial and political elite to anoint their candidates and expect us to fall in line behind one of them. And it's not like the same phenomenon isn't found on the Democratic side.

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Vatican Drop Squad nabs one

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VATICAN CITY - A man tried to jump into Pope Benedict XVI's uncovered popemobile as the pontiff began his general audience Wednesday and held onto it for a few seconds before being wrestled to the ground by security officers.

The pope was not hurt and didn't even appear to notice that the man — who was between 20 or 30 years old — had jumped over the protective barrier in the square and toward the white popemobile as it drove by. The pontiff kept waving to the audience.

At least eight security officers who were trailing the vehicle as it moved slowly through the square grabbed the man and wrestled him to the ground. The pope didn't even look back.

The man "looked a little crazy," said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman. He said the man was being held for questioning by Vatican police.

The story has a link to a raw video feed.

UPDATE: More direct video feed here

Fr. Z has lots more.

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Heart of Jesus...

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...formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.

More from Don Marco, O. Cist.

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All Hail the Mighty You Tube!

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Where else can you find a bunch of lions attacking a pack of buffalo, knocking one of their young (calf?) into a nearby lake, dragging it out of the water only after playing a game of tug-o-war with a friggin crocodile, and digging into their meal only to have the buffalo come back about 100 strong to get their calf (who is still alive after getting attacked, yanked two different directions and feasted upon for a couple of minutes) and chase them off after goring one of them about 6 feet in the air.

Who needs Animal Planet?

Hat-tip: Assymetrical Information

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St. Boniface

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Dale Price has a post devoted to St. Boniface, who feast day is today.

If you read this, please pray for us, as we're going to see a house that we're very optimistic about today. We're hoping St. Boniface is going to hook us up, as he unfailingly has in the past.

Oh, and while you're here, won't you say a prayer for Matthew Boniface:

292738253206_0_ALB.jpg

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Family

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Kay Hymowitz and Brad Wilcox encourage the Republican presidential candidates to drop a different kind of f-bomb. Their argument is obviously a winning one, the problem is that they are also correct that the current "top-tier" candidates are in no position to make it.

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A "rush translation" by NCReporter of the strong defense by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone can be found here.

More, please.

P.S. Abe Foxman is of course unimpressed.

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Cubbie Blogging

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I haven't said much about the Cubs in a while. Mostly because I did not and still do not know what to make of this team. Anytime you have such a drastic overhaul of a baseball team, there will be no way to know what the end-result will be. It doesn't matter how much you spend, you still have to take those individuals and make them into a team. I was skeptical about Jason Marquis and Mark de Rosa, but excited about Soriano, Floyd and Lilly.

Well, the results so far have not been pretty. We have the highest powered line-up we've had in years, but can't score any runs. This team, which was explicitly built to win with the home run has exactly two players on pace to hit 20 or more home runs. Our $136 million man Alfonso Soriano, who we brought in to hit 30+ home runs, drive in 90 + runs and steal 30+ bases is on track for, in those respective categories, 18, 42 and 24. 4 of our starters - that's HALF of the position players we trot out every day - are hitting .254 or less.

On the pitching side, things are a bit better. The starting rotation has been solid: Marquis and Lilly have been excellent and Rich Hill has shown that last year was not a fluke. The arrival of Sean Marshall to fill in is good news, as he was one of last year's bright spots - hopefully he'll never see AAA again. Ryan Dempster has been solid, with only 1 blown save in 12 chances. The problem, amazingly has been our ace, Carlos Zambrano. He's been crazier han usual, culminating in his dugout fight last Friday with teammate Michael Barrett. That, and the middle relief can't get the job done. Last I checked, they were leading the league in losses. With an anemic offense, you simply can't afford to have a shaky pen blow what few leads you can get.

Making it worse is that the never-ending saga of what the h*** happened to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood (now guest-starring Wade Miller, though his problems aren't "homegrown" the way Prior and Wood's are) is still playing in the background, giving the whole season an even darker and more somber tone than it deserves on the merits.

That drama came to the NY Times this week, which had a lengthy profile (free reg. req.) of Kerry Wood and his history of arm troubles in their Sunday sports magazine. It's not a fun read for any Cubs fan, but though those of us whose answer for the Cubs' mid 2000s woes is "Blame Dusty!" should give it a fair reading.

What continues to baffle me is that nobody ever talks about the Cubs' training and medical staff when these things come up. I'd have fired the lot of them in June of 2005. Larry Rothschild seems to get off scot-free, too. Yeah, sure it's hard to deal with 25 year-olds with arms of gold, but if he couldn't do it, then the Cubs should have brought in somebody who could command more respect.

I still have optimism for 2007. The NL Central is still wide open. The Cubs have good enough players, it's just a matter of them coming together as a team, having somebody step up to be a team leader (Lee and Ramirez are too laid back, Barrett and Zambrano are too hopped up on crazy) and finding a winning groove. Personnel-wise, we need to keep prospect Felix Pie in the bigs and let him learn through major league experience. We should then ship off some combination(s) of Matt Murton, Cliff Floyd, Jacques Jones and one or two of our young pitchers for a bullpen arm or two and a shortstop that can bat his weight, or preferably Daryle Ward's weight.

It is certainly not too late. GO CUBS!

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Sacred Heart

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Father Mark of Vultus Christi hopes to blog on the Sacred Heart throughout June. Father Mark's blog is a daily source of beautiful art and meditations, so it should be good. His first two efforts (1, 2) do not disappoint.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom Come!

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Eugenics Today

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Logos, a journal I'm not familiar with, came under my radar recently with two articles on modern day eugeics.

  • Kurt Jacobsen looks at the history of eugenics in America and exposes it in its modern guise. One of his themes is that scientists and physicians tend to favor eugenic policies much more than layfolk. That comes as no surprise, but did you know that as recently as 1982 a survey found that half of physicians questioned approved of "sterilization for the feeble minded and for criminals"?
  • Beth Burrows reviews two books related to eugenics' most common modern form - killing the "unfit" in the womb. The first gives us the perspective of the mothers - it's a collection of stories written by women who carried their babies to term despite pressure to abort:
    These are women who opted to keep their babies and to welcome them, no matter how potentially strange, unfamiliar, or short-lived. In some accounts, the dire predictions of others turned out to be true; in others, they did not. Whatever the political axe one might suspect was being ground by the selector of the stories, each mother clearly finds joy and meaning in her newborn's life. These are not people seeking approval or wallowing in victimhood. As Teresa Streckfuss insists in the third chapter, “...(D)on’t pity us for carrying a child we know will die...Grieve for the fact that our baby will die. We wouldn’t wish away the time we had with Benedict,. . .just to save us the pain of losing (him). . . Someone asked us after Benedict died, ‘Was it worth it?’ Oh yes! For the chance to hold him, and see him, and love him before letting him go. For the chance for our children to see that we would never stop loving them, regardless of their imperfections? For the chance to give him everything we could? Oh yes!”

    The second book reviewed gives us the perspective of those whom the eugenicists would eliminate - a lawyer severely disabled since birth reflects on the joys she's experienced because she was allowed to live.

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St. Rudy

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Stephen Dillard will likely need some Advil after reading this. Or some bourbon. Or both, though I don't recommend it.

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Benedict XVI's prayer intentions for June

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 1, 2007 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for June is: "That the Lord may protect sailors and all those involved in maritime activities."

His mission intention is: "That the Church in North Africa may bear witness, with its presence and its action, to God's love for every individual and all peoples."

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Papa-Lu in June 2007.

Papa-Lu: May 2007 is the previous archive.

Papa-Lu: July 2007 is the next archive.

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