Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A New Toy

There is a new Google toy--a pedometer. Walking has become my primary form of exercise. I walk the streets of my subdivision almost nightly, and while I've driven some routes to determine their length, I've been using that as a starting point, and then trying to determine an approximate distance with that in mind. Now I don't have to. Gmaps allows you to map out any route, turn by turn, and it will tell you not only how far you walked but also, if you enter your weight, how many calories you burned. Not bad.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Out With the New, In With the Old?

I'm a reader of several Catholic blogs, including but not limited to Amy Welborn's Open Book. Right now a favorite topic of conversation on several different blogs is a document the Pope is expected to issue which will, allegedly, allow any priest to say the old Latin mass--the one where he faces the altar on the back wall rather than the congregation--to do so whenever he so desires, whereas now special permission has to be obtained from the bishop to do so. Personally I think that if and when such a document is issued it will cause far more discussion and activity in the blog world than in the real world. I just have a hard time believing there is a lot of unmet demand among the faithful for such a mass. In a parish such as mine that has multiple masses on the weekend, people would adjust if one mass was changed to Latin--but does my pastor, who will be the sole priest in our parish starting this summer need the extra work of preparing two homilies rather than one each weekend, since the masses have different readings? Does the pastor of a rural parish who says three different masses each Sunday in three different places use one of them for a mass that many may actively dislike?

Many of these blog writers don't want the 10 am mass to have Gregorian Chant and the 6 pm mass to be the Lifeteen mass-they want chant or other classical-type musica at all the masses. They think bringing back more of a sense of the sacred and beautiful will keep people in the Church. I have my doubts. People aren't leaving the Catholic church for the formality of the Orthodox faith in any great numbers, but they are heading down the street to the "Christian" churches with their contemporary music and informal worship services. I think that if you don't like loud guitar music, don't go to the Lifeteen mass. My son hates it, he covers his ears when forced to go (and I suspect his autism makes that loud music almost painful for him). My daughter loves it and loves to manipulate her weekend schedule so that she "has" to go then rather than to the more mainstream mass we usually attend. Some would say that it isn't about what they like--but if they don't like it there is less chance they'll go once Mom doesn't make them anymore.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Summer Reading

Since we don't have homework to worry about, summer is time for trips to the library, and lots of books for me. I love to read but during the school year I rarely have the time. What am I reading? Well, my college alumni email list buddies decided to start a book thread and we decided to read Delta Belles, a book by fellow alum, Penelope Stokes. The story is about four women who graduated from Mississippi Women's College (our school was Mississippi University for Women) in the late 1960's and much of the way she describes the college is obviously our school. I'll save further discussion of that book for later except to say that I enjoyed it and that the next time I went to the library, I selected more of her books.

I checked two out of the library yesterday afternoon, and have finished them both. When I first looked her up after Delta Belles was selected, I noted that she wrote Christian fiction. I don't know about you, but I've read plenty of Christian fiction, and most of them were historical romances. These books, in general, are about as predictable and have characters as complex and well-developed as your basic bodice-buster novel found in the supermarket check-out line. Boy meets girl, there is an attraction but something stands in the way. Eventually they find each other--and in the Christian version, they find God too. Instead of steamy bedroom scenes you get scenes from church services or people's prayers. These novels (both the standard and Christian versions) are pure mind candy, easy to read and just as easy to forget. I've read plenty of both types. I found her books to be different. In the last week I have read A Circle of Grace, The Blue Bottle Club and The Amber Photograph. While they are easy and quick reads, they have complex strong women characters and while they have happy endings, they do not end up with everyone getting married. Relationships between women seem to be the focus of her writing. While most Christian fiction I have read has a scene or two pushing "accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior" these books do not. God is there and faith in Him helps some of the characters deal with life, but there is never any intimation that faith in God will solve all the problems the characters have. Further the characters grapple with who God is and what kind of God would allow what has happened to them--and the ministers don't offer any pat answers. I suspect the author's religion is of the liberal variety as two of the books have homosexual characters--characters who are in relationships and who find themselves made whole by those relationships. One of the main characters of The Blue Bottle Club is a Catholic nun and her faith isn't put down or played down as I've seen in other Christian fiction. In short, I'd recommend all four of those books and I plan to read the rest of her books when I can get my hands on them.

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