Month: February 2018


Lent, Zen, Other

Ceiling. TrastevereLent neareth. Remember to eat and drink a lot tonight so tomorrow is even harder.

Ceiling. TrastevereMy next Theology on Tap lecture is entitled “Zen Lent.” It’s an extension on my Kerouac lecture. Kerouac was a Buddhist, I guess, or at least practiced Zen . . . or maybe kind of thought of himself as a Hinayana Buddhist. I’m not really sure, quite frankly, and I don’t think he was, but we got on the topic last month and three different people asked if I could talk about Zen this month. Because it’s Lent, I’m combining the two. It’s going to be a lecture about Zen, with a Lenten kicker at the end.

Ceiling. TrastevereAnd what is the Lenten kicker? Precisely this: I think Zen might explain why so many of us enter Lent with great intentions and come out of Lent miserable failures. More importantly, I think it might provide a solution. I’m tempted to say that I’m positive it provides a solution, but since I haven’t empirically proven it to myself, I don’t want to speak definitively. I don’t want to be like those overweight people who give other people dieting advice.

Ceiling. TrastevereThat Zen history pictured above is a classic, btw, written by a Jesuit. A good Jesuit or a bad one, I can’t say, but a Jesuit. I’ve read large chunks of the book and, based on what I’ve read, it’s very good. I also have the second volume in the series. It’s one of those reading projects I’d love to take and just absorb myself in it at my leisure, like Henry Ryecroft receiving that small annuity and retiring to his cottage to spend time with his books (only to find out shortly thereafter that he’s dying).

Ceiling. TrastevereThat Gissing novel is one of the most … Read the rest


Miscellaneous Rambling

Ceiling. TrastevereIt’s almost time to start seeds indoors. If you’re ordering seeds online, please order them from Max’s site: The seeds we order are drop-shipped from one of the most reputable sellers in the market. Our pricing, including shipping charges, is intentionally kept identical so you’re no worse off ordering from Max. Also: If there are any seeds or gardening tools or fertilizer you want but don’t see at our site, email us and we’ll find it. Thanks!

Ceiling. TrastevereNBC apologizes for “ignorant” comment during opening ceremony. The commentator said that the Koreans respect Japan for its “cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.” Link. When I heard the comment Friday night, I was like, “Hmmmm, that kinda surprises me, but I haven’t talked with many Koreans lately, so maybe they’re over it.” Apparently not.

Ceiling. TrastevereI don’t think it can reasonably be doubted that WWII is the great American moment that wasn’t great at all. I guess I’d say we were half great (or one-quarter great). We stopped two aggressive, bastard, regimes (Germany and Japan), but capitulated to two far more aggressive and larger regimes (USSR and China). We stopped two regimes that were willing to kill ten million civilians in pursuit of their ideology and capitulated to two regimes that were willing to kill 100 million civilians. You can call that “great” if you want to, but it’s a stretch. I have no doubt that there was only so much America could do and we deserve credit for trying and at least stopping the lesser threats, but to act like we saved the world, that’s absurd.

Ceiling. TrastevereAnd for our success in WWII, we paid the ultimate price as a nation: We permanently lost our isolationist blood, transforming us … Read the rest


Olympic Miscellany

I dig the Winter Olympics, even if it’s mostly just a bunch of spoiled kids having fun and banging each other in Olympic Village. I heard the word “inspire” four times last night, in the context of, “These athletes will inspire us.” Well, I guess so, if you’re inspired by, “We weren’t rich, but we scrimped, doing two-year leases on our SUVs instead of one-year and only going to Europe once every other year, so I could attend ski camp in Vail six times annually . . .”. * * * * * * * According to that link, the Olympics are distributing enough free condoms for each athlete to get 37, and since nearly half the athletes are women, that means every guy has access to about 75 free condoms. And since about 30% of the athletes abstain, the reprobate male athletes have available approximately 100 condoms each. If I were as good looking as Lindsay Vonn, I’d stay bundled up at all times. * * * * * * * I’m guessing she is, since she’s apparently taking every precaution when it comes to germs. * * * * * * * The opening ceremony was pretty warm, compared to normal weather at Pyeongchang: “Surrounded by mountains that catch the cold, Pyeongchang is ‘Earth’s coldest location for that particular latitude,’ AccuWeather reports.” Link. I guess minus-zero temps won’t be uncommon. * * * * * * * I was glad to see the Russians finally get punished for cheating. It should’ve happened many decades ago. But then they walked in as a unified group, wearing the same outfit? It made a mockery of the “punishment.” Banning the Russian flag seems meaningful, but that’s the extent of it. * * * * * * * … Read the rest



Just in time for the Winter Olympics: North Korea appears to claim it has invented wheat beer: “According to state newspaper Rodong Sinmun, the country’s Taedonggang brewery claims its new approach using wheat instead of barley “is better than existing beers in terms of its taste and smell”, and has “already gained positive reviews from North Korean citizens.” Link. No word on weather it dopes its beer and then lies about it and then whines when they get caught and (kinda) kicked out of the olympics.

I do love wheat beer, though. Related news flash: I’m getting ready to wade back into the beer waters. Since going vegan, my gluten intolerance appears to have disappeared . . . or at least lessened. I’m going to start drinking beer again and see how it goes. Unfortunately, right now my taste buds still far prefer gin, so I’m staying on my gin kick. Last weekend, I had two gluten-free beers and two of my sons commented that was great to see me with a beer again. They grew up, seeing me drink nothing but beer. I hadn’t realized my gin drinking had robbed them of a childhood staple memory. I’ll try to rekindle those memories this coming year.

Fruit beers are on the rise. I’d heard of craft brewers doing it, to popular acclaim, but now the big boys are getting into it: “A study last year found that people in their 20s are increasingly turning down beer and reaching for wine and spirits, instead. But MillerCoors new Two Hats light beer is hoping to hook the younger generation with something cheap and fun.” Link. The first flavors: pineapple and lime. … Read the rest


The Dark Ages

My slipshod notes from Theology on Tap . . .

Let’s make one thing clear: “Dark Ages” and “Middle Ages” aren’t synonymous, not by any means. The Middle Ages roughly connote 500 to 1500. The Dark Ages are only 800-1000.

Things get wild, wooly, and vague starting around 600 AD. They get so murky that some, not entirely nutty people, think that a couple hundred of those years didn’t exist, meaning we’re really in the year 1717 right now.

During this period, pretty much everything goes wrong. You had the Muslims invading everywhere possible (turned back by Charlemagne’s grandfather, Charles Martel, at Tours, but Muslims still in solid control of Spain and trying to penetrate through the seas and southern European coast). They had cut off the grain supply from Egypt, which the west had relied upon since the time of Cleopatra, and killed trade in general.

Magyars slammed into central Europe.

And, of course, we had the vikings.

I don’t think a lot of people appreciate the absolute fury of the northmen. These weren’t just long ships pulling up, sacking a village, and going home. These were huge forces, spawned by overpopulation (which is hard to believe in light of the Nordic countries’ today refusal to procreate at all . . . Reminds me of that joke that I thought of during last weekend’s Mass when I was supposed to be paying attention: What do the Easter Bunny and Swedish semen have in common? Neither exist). You ever wonder why Scandinavian women are so hot? It’s because the Vikings took all the good looking women back to Scandinavia (maybe), before they started to actually settle large areas of Europe: England, Normandy, Russia.

But here is where we start getting back into hard core Church history. Missionary … Read the rest



Ceiling. TrastevereI learned yesterday that late winter 2018 is the Season for Manly Cinema. First, I read about Clint Eastwood’s new movie that features three American heroes who took down an Islamic terrorist in 2015. Apparently, the Hollywood elite hate the movie because it portrays Muslim terrorists in a bad light. According to the article, they even tried to give it an undeserved R-rating, in order to minimize the number of people who could get in to see it, but Clint appealed and won. Second, Bruce Willis (one of my favorites) is coming out with a reprisal of Charles Bronson’s Death Wish. I don’t know if I can watch it, though. The gut-wrenching and scary scenes at the beginning really get to me. Maybe I’ll just have someone text me after the attacking is done, so I can then come in and only watch Bruce go vigilante.

Ceiling. TrastevereYou can’t call a saint a loser. After all, that is the ultimate goal, so the saint is the consummate “winner,” even if he’s a total loser on earthly terms. That being said, today is the feast day of Moses the Saracen, a fourth century monk who, Wikipedia says, was the first Arab bishop to the Arab people. I gotta say, his mission utterly failed . . . at least in the long run. But it is proof Arabs aren’t genetically incapable of embracing Truth.

Ceiling. TrastevereGreat white shark named George stalks Everglade waters. Link. I can’t imagine the bloody carnage if George tears into some of those manatees. … Read the rest