Sunday, October 05, 2008

Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Jacques Philippe

Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Jacques Philippe

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is really interesting to see how God works. I have been a Catholic actively trying to live my faith for more than two decades. This book has helped me more profoundly than any book I've read in the last ten years.

What is a mystery to me is why the message of this book has not sunk into me sooner than it did. It is not as though it is presenting something that is new or alien to the Gospel. But it must have taken all this time for me to get to a point where I could hear and receive it.

The title accurately describes the contents. Fr. Philippe has written a treatise on both the importance of peace of heart and how to maintain it.

I have a strong tendency towards navel-gazing and scrupulosity. I have spent a lot of time over the years feeling bad about my sins and failings, or worrying about what future sins and failings I may stumble into. I trust Jesus very much, but I don't trust myself. I know that way too often that I fail to carry through with my good intentions and firm resolutions. And that awareness has meant that I can never really relax with God. For if I am not vigilant, then I might fall into sin and ultimately fall away from Jesus.

What this book has helped me to see is that the anxiety I would feel about my own weakness is not what God wants. What I had viewed as devotion and careful attention to righteousness has been largely a prideful dependence upon my own goodness.

We need to trust God completely, even when we sin. We need to just ask for forgiveness, and then move on. God knows and loves us. Really. REALLY. We need to abandon ourselves into His loving care.

It is funny in a sense: People who accuse Catholics of practicing "works righteousness" should read this book. Fr. Philippe makes it incredibly clear how we can do NOTHING without God, and only as a result of His grace. We have to be so abandoned to God that we don't even worry about how good or bad we are. We simply keep turning to God, trusting Him, loving him, and looking to Him "both to will and to work" in us. The grace of faith, the ability to ask for God's forgiveness is a pure gift. Nothing we do makes God give it to us---He just does.

I am doing a horrible job is summarizing this book. But I want to stress the change this book has already made in my life. Although far from having perfect peace all of the time, I am much happier, much more peaceful than I used to be. I wish I had come across this work 20 years ago.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Adventures of ACTION ITEM!

The Adventures of ACTION ITEM!

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
It wasn't until reading some other reviews of this story that I realized that Gregor's turning into a bug was an analogy for what happens when someone gets a serious illness. OK. I'm slow.

It brings me back to my high school days when my wonderful English teacher gently chided me for not seeing the analogy to Christ in "The Old Man and the Sea." I had an excuse back then because I was new to the whole concept of analogies in literature. Now I'm just slow.

I recommend this story.

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Zemanta Pixie

Sunday, June 08, 2008

South Dakota Road Trip 2008: Day 1

Today we set out on our first real family road trip in many years. Our eventual destination is Custer State Park in South Dakota. Tonight we made it as far as Mitchell. The kids did really well over the six+ hour drive.

We listened to book four of "The Melendy Quartet," A Spiderweb for Two. Denise also did a great deal of reading from Understood Betsy. Now, the kids are asleep and we're tired. Tomorrow it's off to the Corn Palace, then out to join the American Bison at Custer!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Testing Zemanta

Compiz Fusion mit Cube-PluginImage via WikipediaIt has been some time since I have written anything substantive here. Unfortunately, this will not be substantive! I am trying out a new plugin for blog authoring called Zemanta. It looks pretty interesting. It scans what you are writing and makes suggestions about related pictures, links and tags.
I might go back to some previous posts and see how it helps.

For some reason, it suggested this picture of Captain Picard fighting the Borg. I'll use it.
Zemanta Pixie

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Emily's Piano Recital

Emily had her piano recital tonight. Here's the performance. (This is also my very first YouTube video upload.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Everything you (or I) know (about C#) is wrong

I used to labor under the impression that public fields and properties in C# were completely interchangable. My approach when implementing a class in C# was to start with a public field and only make it a property later if and when I actually needed to do something interesting with the getter or setter.

Well, Kristof Verbiest has disabused me of that erroneous opinion. It looks like starting with properties with default getters and setters is the way to go.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Muslim and American

A recent video entitled I am a Muslim left me with decidedly mixed feelings. The video is of a young man who talks about various stereotypes of Muslims in a straightforward and humorous way. He explains that he doesn't know how to tie a turban, that he does know someone name "Ahmed" and no, it isn't the "Ahmed" in your economics class. He explains that his name is "Mohammad", and that he would return to his home country but he is already in it. (The image dissolves into an American flag.) The video was well-produced and left one feeling that it was a good and very American thing to be a Muslim, and implies that those who are uncomfortable with him and his religion just need to get over it.

All this was great, as far as it went. I am grateful for the freedom of religion we enjoy in America. If a man's faith requires him to set up a prayer mat in a public place, or wash his feet in a bathroom sink (Mohammad mentioned that in the video), he will find no objection from me. But the more I thought about this video, the more I was bothered by all of the things it didn't say.

The video implied that Americans are uncomfortable with Muslims because of the aspects of public practice of their religion that are strange to us. But Americans are not uncomfortable with Muslims because Muslims wear turbans, pray in public on mats, or wash their feet in public restroom sinks. We aren't nervous about having Imams spreading out through an airplane and ordering seat belt extenders because they speak a foreign language or wear robes. We are not disturbed because there is a group fasting through Ramadan or calling others to prayer from a tower.

Americans are set on edge by Muslims because almost all terrorists are Muslim. Muslims, acting in the name of Islam, slaughtered 3,000 innocent people on September 11, 2001. Muslims crowds in Muslim countries cheered these deaths. Muslim parents subsequently made "Osama" one of the most popular names for new-born boys. Muslims, in the name of Islam, attack and kill civilians in Israel and Europe. Muslims, acting in the name of Islam, hack off the heads of bound prisoners and distribute the videos of their crimes to the delight of Muslim populations. Muslims call for the killing of a teacher (and even students) who allowed her class to name a teddy bear "Mohammad". Muslims, when this is pointed out, claim victim status, whine, and demand sensitivity to their feelings and the granting of rights that they would never have in an Islamic country. Many of the most atrocious governments are explicitly Muslim. Muslims commit suicide while murdering defenseless people on a daily basis.

Of course, I know that most Muslims do not do these things. But neither are most Muslims speaking up loudly and clearly against all of these things. The stance of various Muslim advocacy groups seems to be that the only possible way one could come to associate Islam with violence and terror would be through unthinking prejudice.

This is what makes the YouTube video unsettling. What I am really, really wanting to hear from American Muslims is:

  • A recognition of the legitimacy of the grievances and concerns that I mentioned;
  • A clear statement that rejects such abominations as going against the teaching and practice of Islam.

I want to hear Muslim leaders say things like,
  • "The deliberate murder of innocent people (even if they are not Muslim, even if it is for a good cause) is wrong."
  • "Suicide bombing is always wrong."
  • "The attack on the World Trade Center was wrong and completely against the teachings of Islam."

These are the issues that Muslims in America need to deal with. Muslims who can say these things should have no problem participating in American society. Those who can not say these things (or feel they must add a clause beginning with "but..." or "except for..." at the end of any of them) fundamentally reject values that are absolutely essential to our culture and government.

So, to Mohammad and the others behind the YouTube video: If you disagree with what I'm saying, don't be surprised if your video fails to set non-Muslims at ease. If, however, you agree with what I'm saying, please say so---publicly, loudly, repeatedly! Then, you will be welcome to wash your feet in my sink any time.