Another good reason for my 30-day “Offline at 8 PM” fast. (And another good outcome of it.)

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In every age, men and women who have consecrated their lives to God in prayer – like monks and nuns – have established their communities in particularly beautiful places: in the countryside, on hilltops, in valleys, on the shores of lakes or the sea, or even on little islands. These places unite two elements which are very important for contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which recalls that of the Creator, and silence, which is guaranteed by living far from cities and the great means of communication. Silence is the environmental condition that most favors contemplation, listening to God and meditation. The very fact of experiencing silence and allowing ourselves to be “filled,” so to speak, with silence, disposes us to prayer. The great prophet, Elijah, on Mount Horeb – that is, Sinai – experienced strong winds, then an earthquake, and finally flashes of fire, but he did not recognize the voice of God in them; instead, he recognized it in a light breeze (cfr. 1 Rev 19:11-13). God speaks in silence, but we need to know how to listen. This is why monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity; and there we find the courtyard, a symbolic place because it is a closed space, but open toward heaven…

The world is filled with these oases of the spirit: some very ancient, others are more recent, while still others have been restored by new communities. Looking at things from a spiritual perspective, these places of the spirit are a load-bearing structure of the world! It is no accident that many people, especially in times of rest, visit these places and stop there for some days.

Even the soul, thanks be to God, has its needs!

-Pope Benedict XVI
General Audience
Castel Gandolfo
10 August 2011

In unrelated, but related, news, it was nice yesterday to show Thomas & Matthew the lodge at Pere Marquette State Park, where, I explained to them, I used to go every Sunday afternoon to read, reflect, and plan my week.

The family, economic life and work

From the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (affiliate link):

b. The family, economic life and work

248. The relationship existing between the family and economic life is particularly significant. On one hand, in fact, the economy (“oiko-nomia”, household management) was born from domestic work. The home has been for a long time — and in many regions still is — a place of production and the centre of life. The dynamism of economic life, on the other hand, develops with the initiative of people and is carried out in the manner of concentric circles, in ever broader networks of production and exchange of goods and services that involves families in continuously increasing measure. The family, therefore, must rightfully be seen as an essential agent of economic life, guided not by the market mentality but by the logic of sharing and solidarity among generations.

249. Family and work are united by a very special relationship. “The family constitutes one of the most important terms of reference for shaping the social and ethical order of human work”.[561] This relationship has its roots in the relation existing between the person and his right to possess the fruit of his labour and concerns not only the individual as a singular person but also as a member of a family, understood as a “domestic society”[562].

Work is essential insofar as it represents the condition that makes it possible to establish a family, for the means by which the family is maintained are obtained through work. Work also conditions the process of personal development, since a family afflicted by unemployment runs the risk of not fully achieving its end[563].

The contribution that the family can make to the reality of work is valuable and, in many instances, irreplaceable. It is a contribution that can be expressed both in economic terms and through the great resources of solidarity that the family possesses and that are often an important support for those within the family who are without work or who are seeking employment. Above all and more fundamentally, it is a contribution that is made by educating to the meaning of work and by offering direction and support for the professional choices made.

250. In order to protect this relationship between family and work, an element that must be appreciated and safeguarded is that of a family wage, a wage sufficient to maintain a family and allow it to live decently[564]. Such a wage must also allow for savings that will permit the acquisition of property as a guarantee of freedom. The right to property is closely connected with the existence of families, which protect themselves from need thanks also to savings and to the building up of family property[565]. There can be several different ways to make a family wage a concrete reality. Various forms of important social provisions help to bring it about, for example, family subsidies and other contributions for dependent family members, and also remuneration for the domestic work done in the home by one of the parents[566].

251. In the relationship between the family and work, particular attention must be given to the issue of the work of women in the family, more generally to the recognition of the so-called work of “housekeeping”, which also involves the responsibility of men as husbands and fathers. The work of housekeeping, starting with that of the mother, precisely because it is a service directed and devoted to the quality of life, constitutes a type of activity that is eminently personal and personalizing, and that must be socially recognized and valued[567], also by means of economic compensation in keeping with that of other types of work[568]. At the same time, care must be taken to eliminate all the obstacles that prevent a husband and wife from making free decisions concerning their procreative responsibilities and, in particular, those that do not allow women to carry out their maternal role fully[569].

RIP Coach John Wooden

Coach John Wooden. A great man, made it to nearly 100. Great coach. Honored Veteran. Great man.

His “Seven Point Creed“, which his father gave to him when he graduated from grammar school:

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Make each day your masterpiece.
  3. Help others.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

Update: Cool video I ran across an online copy of:

Wow. Walgreens? It’s the end of the world!

I mean, it was a simple Facebook post. For “Fans” of theirs on Facebook, Walgreens had a simple message:

And then someone had to go ruin it by commenting:

The world will continue to get worse & worse as the day draws near, May 21, 2011. Then Gods elect, whom ever that may be, will be raptured as The Great Earthquake will commence the 5 months of hell on earth. Contrary to popular belief & a lie told by churches, there is no eternal suffering in a place called Hell. God is merciful. Instead, there… See more … See morewill be 5 months of torment on earth for those left & still alive after the Earthquake. This is all Biblical & coincides with the Biblical timeline. The account of Noah & the Flood is a huge parrallel for the Return of Christ (read 2 Peter 3 & Genesis 7&8). God closed the door to the arc on the 17th day of the 2nd month in the Hebrew calendar, sealing the fate of those safe in the arc (a picture of Christ. He is the door, the way) & those left outside of the arc or left behind. 17th day of 2nd month Hebrew calendar is May 21 on our calendar (Gregorian). 2011 is exactly 7000yrs later! In 2Peter 3…I think verse 10, God is relating the end of the world with the Flood (He is making comparisons for a reason) & says “a day is a thousand years with the Lord…” then back in Genesis 7:4 & 10, God gives Noah a time for destruction & says “For yet SEVEN DAYS (or 7,000 years) & I will…” destroy every living substance from off the face of the earth. God is telling us, with this historical account that we have 7,000 years from that time (4990 BC) to get into “the arc”. Think about it. God said in Gen 7:4 He will destroy EVERY LIVING SUBSTANCE from off the face of this earth, yet, back then, He did not, becuz Noah & his family lived…therefore God IS IN FACT TALKING TO US TODAY! JUST AS HE HAS ALWAYS PROVEN TO GIVE HIS SERVANTS A fore WARNING & A TIME…EX: NOAH, ABRAHAM, JACOB, LOT, JONAH & THE NINEVITES, GOD IS ALSO WARNING HIS ELECT TODAY! TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION & GOD CAME FOR SINNERS! WE ALL HAVE GREAT HOPE AS HE IS SAVING THE MOST PEOPLE EVER IN OUR TIME, THE LAST DAYS! PLEASE EVERYONE TAKE HEED. THIS IS YOUR WARNING. FOLLOW THE WICKED CITY OF NINEVAHS EXAMPLE & REPENT UPON HEARING THE WARNING FROM GOD! GO TO FAMILYRADIO.COM (OR 94.7FM). EBIBLEFELLOWSHIIP.COM. THE-LATTER-RAIN.COM. WECANKNOW.COM. TIMEHASANEND.ORG. MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON US ALL & OPEN YOUR EYES TO THE MESSAGE HE HAS HIDDEN IN HIS HOLY WORD BY THE USE OF PARABLES BECAUSE “WITHOUT A PARABLE HE SPOKE NOT” (MARK 4:34). MAY 21, 2011=THE RAPTURE. 5 MONTHS LATER OR 150 DAYS LATER (GEN 7:24). OCTOBER 21, 2011 THE TOTAL annihilation of sin & the universe. October 21 is also exactly the 17th day of the 7th month in Hebrew calendar which was the feast of INGATHERING…THE ONLY FEAST DAY THAT HASN’T BEEN FULFILLED YET.

Whoa. Seriously? Talk about peeing in the cookie jar. What does any of that have to do with what Walgreens staff recommends to make sure we’re ready for the summer?

First, you spelled parallel incorrectly.

Second, I believe Jesus Christ who said:

“Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Matthew 24:42-44)


“Therefore, stay awake, 5 for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)


“But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:36)


“He answered them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.’” (Acts 1:7)

I suppose this is an example of what happens when people interpret Genesis on their own, literally.

That is why we’re each supposed to “be ready” for the hour we won’t know, according to the measure the Spirit has provided each for himself.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who live by it. Your praise endures forever.” (Psalm 111:10)

…of course now I’m curious… where in the Bible does that “5 months of torment” thing come from?… ;-)

UPDATE: As of about 8:50 AM (Central), Walgreens removed this comment from their feed story. I wonder why.

Nashville Under Water; Opryland Too

First, some perspective…

OK, so it might seem trite to be talking about Nashville’s finest resort hotel and conference property being under water, when there are hundreds if not thousands of homes also under water. But seeing the stories and pictures of the Gaylord Opryland Resort Hotel under water really hit home, and brought the seriousness of the Nashville flooding home for me.

Nashville is flooding…

The seriousness of the Nashville flooding is more than the (lack of) attention of the national news media implies. Thomas Rainer, the CEO of LifeWay, has been tweeting about the loss of much at his home in the flooding. And Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers (the world’s largest Christian publisher) is tweeting about the flooding in his own community.

Nashville photographer produced this dramatic short film that helps communicate the impact of the rain on the community:

So, back to Opryland…

Opryland is one of our favorite little family getaways. It’s a convenient distance – just a 5-hour drive. And with everything under one roof (atrium), it’s an easy place to take kids and just enjoy a few days’ getaway and relax & unwind without needing to get in the car and go anywhere once you’re there. The place is just phenomenal. At 52 acres, it is the largest non-casino hotel in the world, and the largest hotel in the U.S. outside of Las Vegas.

Check out some photos of 3 of our past trips to Opryland (July of ’05, February of ’06, and July of ’07.) If you’ve never been there yourself, perhaps they can help impart some of the sheer size and grandeur of the place.

Now it’s flooded too…

But as of today, it is underwater and closed indefinitely – “for months”, as one report has said.

Here’s a video of the flooded property from one Nashville news site:

What’s really amazing is that the hotel property was built to be safe to the 100 year flood mark, and was protected by FEMA-approved levies built to also protect to the 100-year flood mark. That says something about the magnitude of this flood… Something we can certainly relate to in the St. Louis area after our experience with the flood of 1993.

Since we haven’t seen a lot on the news here in St. Louis about the Nashville flooding (surprisingly, in my humble opinion), seeing it in this perspective brought it home for me.

As Mashable points out, in the absence of national media attention, we can be thankful that YouTube, Twitter, and the like have allowed us to see the reality from the outside.

In addition to the visits to the resort with the family, Nashville is a city I’ve visited a lot – and love a lot. From weekend trips with the guys for UT Vols football games back in the day to my first dinner with my wife on our honeymoon road trip, the city holds a special place in my heart.

A resort will easily rebuild. The people who live paycheck to paycheck will need a lot more help. Our brothers & sisters in Nashville need our prayers. And in the coming months, they’ll need all the support we can give them.

Pope to Bloggers: Give the Internet a Soul

Via Vatican Radio, a special request from the Holy Father:

The need to give the Internet a soul and humanize the dynamics of the digital world was at the heart of Pope Benedict XVI’s message Saturday to participants in a conference on modern means of mass communication.
…”Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for two thousand years. Rather than for, albeit necessary, technical resources, we want to qualify ourselves by living in the digital world with a believer’s heart, helping to give a soul to the Internet’s incessant flow of communication.” (Vatican Radio)
Awesome. Reminds me of a great homily I heard one 10 PM Mass (now 9 PM) at SLU College Church, what seems like ages ago, about making the neutral Holy.

STL to Chicago High Speed Rail

High Speed Rail

I’m pretty stoked about the news today that the DOT has given Missouri and Illinois grants to help with construction of some of America’s first high speed rail lines – from St. Louis to Chicago.

O’Hare International Airport is a pain. It takes more than one hand to count the number of times I was to be delayed through the night for a flight home and I instead rented a car and drove the 5 hours home. I avoid flying to and from Chicago at all costs. I’d prefer to drive.

High Speed Rail Network

High Speed Rail Network

Actually, I’ve had great success with the current Amtrak service to and from Chicago. Granted, it takes longer than flying or driving (flying takes about an hour, driving takes about four hours from my house.) It’s always taken between 5 and 6 hours from my train to get from Chicago to Alton or St. Louis. But it’s nice to not have to focus on driving, to be able to plug in your laptop, hook up the high-speed Internet wireless card, and get to work for the duration of the trip.

The high speed service from STL to Chicago will apparently take “less than 4 hours” at speeds from about 110 MPH to in excess of 200 MPH.

By my calculation, that’d put one in Chicago much faster than “less than 4 hours.” I wonder how many stops the new service will make along the way.

Read the whole story at the St. Louis Beacon.

This is apparently part of the proposed “Chicago Rail Corridor”, which could also get me up to clients in the Twin Cities and Kansas City, as it would connect Chicago, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville.


Want to try the railway from St. Louis – or Alton – to Chicago, and vice-versa? You don’t have to wait for the high-speed version. Amtrak already runs decent service along the eventual route. See this PDF for details on a current promotion for 20% from Alton to Chicago through the spring… and kids get a flat $11 one-way fare from Alton to Chicago.