Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jesus Quotes Isaiah Yet Again

This post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets

(Originally posted at Electing the Pope)

 Here's a quick Biblical reason why the Pope continues to exercise Peter’s authority:

In Isaiah 22, King Hezekiah has discovered that his household steward Shebna has been stealing money from the King. The obvious evidence is the pricey tomb Shebna has made for himself:

“What have you to do here and whom have you here, that you have hewn here a tomb for yourself, you who hew a tomb on the height, and carve a habitation for yourself in the rock?”

The King banishes his corrupt chief steward:

“Behold, the LORD will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you, and whirl you round and round, and throw you like a ball into a wide land; there you shall die, and there shall be your splendid chariots, you shame of your master's house.”

And makes a new one of Eliakim. He dresses him in the official clothes :

I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.”

And gives him the key to the Kingdom, the House of David:

 “And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open…and he will become a throne of honor to his father's house.”  Of course when Eliakim dies or falls out of royal favor, the King will get himself yet another prime minister- it’s not a one-time status unique to Eliakim.

Centuries later, Jesus borrows from this scene of a King authorizing his #1 official when he tells Peter:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

So Peter is entrusted with the keys not to an earthly kingdom, but the Kingdom of Heaven. Like Eliakim, he will be a father, a papa, to the people. And being a key-holder, when Peter dies or retires a new prime minister will take his place.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chelyabinsk Meteor

Y'all are by now aware of Friday's meteor, which busted a million square feet of windowpanes in Chelyabinsk, Russia. And I know what y'all are thinking: what a great opportunity to learn some Russian! Yes!

Chelyabinsk was a small town before WW2 turned it into a huge weapon-manufacturing city, beyond the reach of German bombers. Like most Russian, Chelyabinsk, Russia is pronounceable (and maybe understandable) if you know the letter-sounds. And you know most of them already: 

Ч   е  л    я   б  и   н  с к,      Р  о  с  с  и  я
Ch e   l  ya   b   i   n  s  k,      R  o  s  s   i  ya

Not too bad, especially if you've had some exposure to Greek letters via math, physics, or fraternities. BTW, a Russian C always sounds like S.

Chelyabinsk churned out so many tanks that it was nicknamed Tankograd, Tank City.  Yes, the Russian word for 'tank' is 'tank.'

 Т а н к о г р а д
 T a n k o g r a d

It's all Greek and Roman letters, not too tough. Tankograd made thousands of tanks at the Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory:

Челябинский  тракторный  завод
Chelyabinskiy   Traktorniy   Zavod

The 'iy' on the end makes the nouns into masculine adjectives because zavod / factory is masculine. But a Chelyabinsk newspaper might be called the Chelyabinskaya Gazette:

  Челябинская     газета
Chelyabinskaya   Gazeta

because a gazette, a newspaper, is feminine.

Among other weapons, Chelyabinsk made Katyushas, trucks mounted with rocket-launchers:

К а т  ю́ ш а
K a t yu sh a

The Katyusha rocket-launcher was named after a girl in a popular wartime song who misses her soldier boyfriend. Katyusha means 'beloved Katie,' a diminutive term of endearment for a woman named 


It's pronounced "Yekaterina." 

And last is this easy one, which prompted the post. I expect you can figure it out on your own:

 PHOTO: In this frame grab made from a video done with a dashboard camera, on a highway from Kostanai, Kazakhstan, to Chelyabinsk region, Russia, Feb. 15, 2013 a meteorite contrail is seen.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Cheap Bible

this post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets

originally posted at New Evangelizers

When I first started reading the Bible regularly, I used a plain hardbound copy of the NAB. But because it was hardbound, I wouldn't mark it up. I kept telling myself to get over it: it was my book, I could mark it up however I liked. I finally forced myself: I highlighted something. I felt like a vandal.

So I bought a cheap paperback version of the same Bible. Highlighted something...that seems ok. Highlighted something else...uh-huh. Added some margin notes...I feel good! This works!

Over the next few years I colored and tagged that cheapie like a graffiti artist. But eventually that Bible became so globbed with stickytabs, highlights, underlines, paperclips and margin notes that it was unmanageable in Catechism class. As Frederick the Great said, "Wer alles verteidigen will, verteidigt nichts/ Who would defend everything defends nothing." If everything is eventually highlighted, then nothing is highlighted. Besides, I had internalized most of what I had been marking up. So three years ago I gave that copy to my son Michael, and bought another copy, same as the old one:

Still manageable. When it's not, I'll pass it on and start again.

Catholics who want to study the Bible are rightly advised to own a Bible that they are comfortable reading. My extra advice is to own a Bible that you are also comfortable marking up.

 P.S. Little quiz for ya! See handwritten note Shekhinah > Cherubim > Mary>. What's that got to do with the 'Signs and Wonders of the Apostles' in Acts 5?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Big-Enough Sin


When I was a kid I was a glib liar. I wouldn't lie to get other people in trouble; but I'd lie to get myself out of trouble. A typical example: it's winter and I'm not supposed to play in the creek. So after school my friends and I ride bikes out into the woods. We roll up our sleeves and pants, take shoes off, and make a dam in the creek. I come home a bit wet. "Don't you sneak past me! Are you wet? I don't know...maybe a little. Didn't I tell you to stay out of the creek? Yes'm. Well? But we were just by the creek- throwing rocks. Uh-huh...well, you better stay out of the creek and if you can't stay dry you better not be by the creek either. Yes'm [scoot]." See, nobody's hurt by that. Just a little victimless lie to smooth out my life. Of course sometimes I'd get caught, and endure some punishment; but it was all kind of pro-forma to me.

So one day in early Spring I take off after school to go play basketball at Paul Grant's house. Momma knows I hate wearing shoes if it's not freezing cold. "Don't you leave this house without putting your tennis shoes on! Yes'm. And you better not take 'em off once you get out of sight. Yes'm [scoot]."

I bike over to Paul's. "Hey let's go play at EHS (Episcopal High School, about a mile away). OK!" Once there, it's not, you know, freezing. I take my tennies off and tie them to my bike's handlebars. We head over to the courts and play until it's time to go home.

I bike home. I walk in, Momma gives me the Death Stare. Uh-oh. "Your daddy wants to talk to you when he gets home. Uh...ok." Daddy gets home. "I understand your momma told you straight to your face today not to take your shoes off because it's so cold. Uh...yessir. Did you take your shoes off anyway?! So you kept your shoes on? Yes! (What am I supposed to say? All I can do is bull through at this point.) OK- I'm gonna ask you One Last Time: did you disobey your momma and take your shoes off today? No! Well, whose tennis shoes did Mrs. Grant see hanging on your bike over at EHS this afternoon? [What? What!?] Uhhh...mine. Now this is when I get my punishment. It'll be way big, but life as we know it will continue. But Daddy didn't say a thing; he just looked at me with the saddest, most pained expression I'd ever seen on an adult's face. And at that instant I understood that I had hurt, badly hurt my parents by disobeying and lying. It had never occurred to me that hurting parents was even possible; and that it was possible because they loved me, but I wasn't sure why that was so.

It turned out that Momma had called Mrs. Grant earlier to have her send me home. Knowing we had gone to EHS, she drove over, but didn't see us in the back playing ball. Returning home, she called my mom: "I went over to EHS but couldn't find the boys. But Christian was there, I saw his bike and his tennis shoes tied to the handlebars." Can you believe it!?

Oh, my punishment: there wasn't one. My father just got up off the sofa and went to hang out in the kitchen with my momma. They were cool to me for a long time. I never did say I was sorry, although for the first time, I was. I was so undone to realize how hurtful it was to lie that I was terrified of bringing it up. I was afraid they wouldn't believe I was sorry (having cried wolf so often), and wouldn't forgive me. But I learned a lifetime's lesson about lying and love that afternoon.

I was lucky to commit a Big-Enough Sin when I was kid instead of waiting 'til I was 20. Or 50. Or never. It would seem odd to recall so old a sin, but I've thanked God for the Tennis Shoe Lie almost every week for more than 40 years. On the other hand, my parents have forgotten about it; but that would be in the nature of forgiveness.

We cover the Prodigal Son every year in Catechism class. We pay special attention to the older son: he is jealous of the newfound love between his forgiving father and his repentant younger brother. He could have it as well; but unlike his brother, he hasn't committed a Big-Enough Sin to shock him into realizing he too should seek forgiveness. He figures he has nothing to repent for, and doesn't. And misses out on the deeper love that springs from repenting and forgiving.

Time permitting, I introduce the Prodigal Son parable with the story of the Tennis Shoe Lie. It pumps some personal and contemporary meaning into an evergreen tale the kids have already heard a thousand times.

*Converse All-Stars by Wahyu Affandi