{    Cnytr   }

{Friday, December 30, 2005  }

.:{A Random Sidetrack in the Cnytrian Fashion}:.

from Funny Face

Turner Classic Movies is having an uber-good run of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn and Gershwin music; if you have time, check out "Singing in the Rain" (one of my favorite movies ever), "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Funny Face".

Then take a page out of their book and go learn to foxtrot. (Some have taken ol' Fred as a way to teach dancing.)

My heroes of the silver screen. Ahhh... these were the way movies were meant to be made.

posted by Lauren, 6:09 PM | link | 3 comments

.:{Publius said I would love this}:.

And he is abso-friggin-lutely right:

We *heart* Cardinal Schoenborn!!!
posted by Lauren, 11:50 AM | link | 1 comments

.:{Facebook, stay out of politics}:.

Lately Facebook has been running some obnoxious banners. The latest?

I am supremely annoyed. Why is it that the left always gets to run their banners but the right either never can or never does?

Facebook, stay out of politics. It doesn't suit you.
posted by Lauren, 11:49 AM | link | 3 comments

{Thursday, December 29, 2005  }

.:{Merry Christmastime}:.

A very merry Dominican Christmas too all.
posted by Lauren, 12:56 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Christmas Felix Culpa}:.

Adam and Eve at the feet of Christ; from an Orthodox image of the Last Judgment

Fear not, bloggians! I am here. What with exams, the Christmas season and finally succumbing to some nasty something that's got me sipping tea and chicken soup until it comes out my (stuffed-up) ears, I realize it's been a while. Ah, our fallen nature ...

Speaking of which, I meant to post this on Christmas day, though it may have been more appropriate for advent. One of my favorite seasonal hymns is "Adam Lay Ybounden", a hymn from the 15th century and, I believe, originally in English (hence the form of "ybounden").

The words are as follows:

Adam lay ybounden
Bounden in a bond
Four thousand winter
Thought he not too long
And all was for an apple
An apple that he took
As clerkes fienden
Written in their book
Ne had the apple taken been
The apple taken was
Ne had ever our Lady
Abeen heavene queen
Blessed be the time
That apple taken was
Therefore we mawn singin
Deo gracias, Deo gracias!

A recording of the arrangement can be found here.

I find it most interesting to note the consciousness of the felix culpa at Christmastime. Because of its presence in the Exsultet, one more commonly thinks of it in conjunction with Easter. But before the Resurrection, there must be the Incarnation, and so it is most appropriate to consider the state of mankind and its need for so great a Redeemer; from the side of the new Adam comes the Church, the new Eve.

(Also, this is a cool image of the Church)

And in an Abelardesque moment, here is a visual counter-argument of sorts: this image, with a corpse at the foot of the three, emphasizes the death endured by mankind with the advent of Original Sin.

The Medievals have done it again. Enjoy. I shall return to more regular blogging, um, soonish.

Appropriate Christmas greetings to all.
posted by Lauren, 12:48 PM | link | 0 comments

{Friday, December 16, 2005  }

.:{And just like that ...}:.

...my dreams of going to Oxford are totally shattered:

Oxford caves in on state selection
By John Clare, Education Editor
(Filed: 15/12/2005)

Oxford colleges are to lose their 800-year-old right to select undergraduates in response to Government pressure to admit more students from state schools and lower social classes.

Instead, admissions will be centralised to encourage applications from comprehensive pupils, who find the present arrangements "confusing and opaque", the university said yesterday.

Pupils will apply to the university, not a specific college, and will be interviewed and selected by the appropriate department, not by their potential tutors.

The university admitted that as a result, colleges will lose autonomy and individuality.

Candidates will be able to state a college preference once they have been offered a place but in principle all successful applicants will be centrally ranked on the basis of their performance, then distributed randomly.

In an effort to strip subjectivity out of the system, all interviews will follow a standard pattern, with candidates being assessed against specific criteria.


The university said the aim of the changes - which will have to be approved by the dons' "parliament" - was to "ensure that our selection procedures are seen to be fair and objective and based on academic merit alone". It went on: "Though those admitted in all subjects are normally extremely able, it is the view of many - both inside and outside Oxford - that we fall short in terms of having systems that can ensure that the very best who apply to Oxford are admitted, irrespective of college choice."

Well there goes half the system. Cambridge, anyone?

Update: Oh wait, sorry, I missed that last line: "Cambridge is expected to follow Oxford's lead."

I think I ought to shave my head in mourning.

Bald head-rub to Laodicea.
posted by Lauren, 2:24 PM | link | 8 comments

.:{Have you seen the new pirate movie?}:.

...it's rated 'arrrrrrr!'"
posted by Lauren, 2:21 PM | link | 1 comments

{Thursday, December 15, 2005  }

.:{*dramatic music*}:.

Noooooobody expects the vanish Inquisition!
posted by Lauren, 10:51 AM | link | 0 comments

{Wednesday, December 14, 2005  }

.:{A Plethora of Posts from our Pictish Peer}:.

...even if he is a New Yorker in Scotland, he still gets to be "pictish" for the sake of alliteration.

First, a series of two short posts on St. Vincent Ferrer's in New York.

(Grainy images available here.)

In fact, here is a page of medieval saints with churches in New York, linked from the Fordham guy's medieval New York. I have explored neither of these two links very well, but I think the idea intriguing.

And because it's finals and distractions are sought everywhere...

piggy jpeg
You are Miss Piggy.
You are talented and the center of attention. At
least you'd like to think you are. You're
really just a pig.

"Moi", "Moi" and
"Women Who Run With Frogs And The Frogs Who
Better Wise Up Quick"

"To Have and Have More"

If it's expensive, it fits.

Eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes, nose, cheeks, hair,
ears, neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, hands,
fingers, legs, knees, ankles, feet, toes and so
on and so forth.

Singing, Dancing, Directing, Producing, Writing,
Starring, and Being Famous.

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Again via Mr. (ARE YOU CALLING ME FAT?) Cusack.
posted by Lauren, 1:40 PM | link | 5 comments

{Monday, December 12, 2005  }

.:{"So I says to the guy..."}:.

(This counts as breaking news)

From Zenit.

Cardinal Schönborn on Creation and Evolution
"Borders Are Neither Recognized nor Respected"

VIENNA, Austria, DEC. 12, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a lecture Cardinal Christoph Schönborn delivered in October in Vienna on creation and evolution. The lecture was meant, in part, to clear up misunderstandings that arose from an article he wrote that appeared July 7 in the New York Times.

* * *

Creation and Evolution: To the Debate as It Stands

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn's first catechetical lecture for 2005/2006:
Sunday, Oct. 2, 2005, St. Stephan's Cathedral, Vienna

It is with a measure of heartfelt trepidation that I begin the catechetical lectures for this working year, for the topic with which I have resolved to grapple is creation and evolution. I do not intend to delve into the scientific details; in that domain I would doubtlessly not be qualified. Instead, I shall examine the relationship between belief in creation and scientific access to the world, to reality.

Thus, I begin with the first words of the Bible: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1). These should be the first words of instruction as well. Belief in God the Creator, belief that he created the heavens and the earth, is the beginning of faith. It launches the credo as its first article. That already implies that here is the basis of all, the foundation on which every other Christian belief rests.

To believe in God and, at the same time, not to believe that he is the Creator would mean, as Thomas Aquinas puts it, "to deny utterly that God is." God and Creator are inseparable. Every other Christian conviction depends on this: that Jesus Christ is the Savior, that there is the Holy Spirit, that there is a Church, that there is eternal life: They all presuppose belief in the Creator.

For that reason, the catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes the fundamental significance of belief in creation. In Article 282, it tells us that here we are dealing with questions that any human being leading a human life must sooner or later pose: "Where do I come from? Where am I going? What is the goal, what is the origin, what is the meaning of my life?" The belief in creation is also crucially related to the basis of ethics, for implicit in that faith is the assumption that this Creator has something to say to us -- through his creation, through his work -- about the proper use of that work and about the true meaning of our lives. Thus, from the earliest days of the Church, creation catechesis has been the basis of all doctrinal teaching. If you examine the patristic instruction given to the first catechumens, you will see that this teaching stood at the very beginning. During this year, we shall therefore endeavor to ponder the matter.

If it is true that the question of the origin (whence do we come?) is inseparable from that of life's goal (where do we go?), then the question of creation also concerns that of its purpose or end. Likewise related is the "design" of the plan. God not only is the Maker of all; he is also the maintainer of his creation, directing it to its goal. That too will be a subject of these lessons, for the question is quite an essential part of basic Christian convictions.

God is not only a creator who at the beginning set the work in motion, like a watchmaker who has fashioned a timepiece that will tick on forever. Rather, he preserves and guides it towards its goal. The Christian faith further teaches that the creation is not yet complete, that it is in "statu viae," in transit. God as Creator of the world is also its guide. We call this "providence" ("Vorsehung"). We are convinced that all of this -- that there is a Creator and a guide -- can also be perceived and recognized by us. Christian belief decidedly and tenaciously clings to the human capacity to discern both these divine aspects, though certainly neither "in toto" nor in every detail.

How do we know about it? A blind faith, one that would simply demand a leap into the utter void of uncertainty, would be no human faith. If belief in the Creator were totally without insight, without any understanding of what such entails, then it would likewise be inhuman. Quite rightly, the Church has always rejected "fideism" -- that very sort of blind faith.

Belief without insight, without any possibility of perceiving the Creator, of being able to grasp by means of reason anything of what he has wrought, would be no Christian belief. The biblical Judeo-Christian faith was always convinced that we not only should and may believe in the Creator: There is also much about him that we are capable of understanding through the exercise of human reason.

Allow me to cite a somewhat lengthy passage from Chapter 13 of the Book of Wisdom, an Old Testament text from sometime at the end of the second or the beginning of the first century B.C.:

1 "For all men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;

2 "But either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water, or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods.

3 "Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them.

4 "Or if they were struck by their might and energy, let them from these things realize how much more powerful is he who made them.

5 "For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.

6 "But yet, for these the blame is less; For they indeed have gone astray perhaps, though they seek God and wish to find him.

7 "For they search busily among his works, but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.

8 "But again, not even these are pardonable.

9 "For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its Lord?" (Book of Wisdom, 13:1-9)

This classic text is one of the bases for the conviction, subsequently made dogma, i.e., affirmed as an explicit principle of faith as taught by the Church, in the First Vatican Council of 1870: that the light of human reason enables us to know that there is a Creator and that this Creator guides the world. ("Dei Filius," Chapter 2; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 36)

>From the text I might first bring to the fore the following: The Bible reproaches the Gentiles, who do not worship the true God, for deifying the world and nature, for seeking mythical, magical power behind nature and natural phenomena. Of stars, from fire, from light and air, they make gods. They allow themselves to be deceived. Their fascination with creation has led them to the apotheosis of creature. In this sense, the Bible is the first messenger of enlightenment. In its own way, it disenchants the world, strips it of its magical, mythical power, "de-mythologizing" and "dis-deifying" it.

Are we aware that without this dis-deification, modern science would be impossible? That the world has been created and is not divine, that it is finite, that it is, to put in philosophical language, "contingent" and not necessary, that it could also not exist, only this belief has made it possible for that same world to be studied -- what it consists of and who inhabits it -- as an end in itself.

There we encounter finite, created realities and not gods or divine beings. In this disenchantment of nature there is, of course, something painful. Behind the tree, behind the well, there are no longer any nymphs or deities, mythical, magical powers, but rather that which the Creator has endowed in them and which human reason can explore. Thus, already in the Old Testament, the Book of Wisdom, in an astoundingly dry and sober manner, that God has created everything according to measure, number and weight. That is the basis of all natural scientific endeavor to understand reality.

Behind everything in world stands the transcendent reason of the Creator. All things are made by him and not of themselves. They are willed by him, and that is the great mystery of the creation doctrine. They are, so to speak, set free into their own existence. They are themselves, not of themselves but rather because the Creator in a sovereign exercise of his volition has willed them. In this sense, as we shall see in the next lesson, they have their autonomy, their own laws, their independence, their own being. It is the belief in the doctrine of creation that makes it possible to grasp this.

Whereas pagan antiquity for the most part "divinized" the world, made it a god, a philosophical movement reacting against this idea, at the time that Christianity arose, was the so-called Gnosis, which denigrated the world. The world, above all matter, was the product of an "accident" ("Unfall") a "downfall" ("Abfall"). It is, in fact, nothing at all good. It is not something that is willed, that ought to be; it is pure negativity. Christianity just as decisively rejected the Gnostic vision as it did the deification of the world.

It is precisely because the world has been created that early Christendom emphasizes without any hint of ambiguity that matter too has been created, that it is good, that is meaningful and is not simply, as the result of an "accident" within the godhead, "debris" from what was originally a single, monistic divine being, something driven through, so to speak, an "excretion" ("Ausscheidung") into the void. Matter is not something purely meaningless, which should be overcome, put aside. Matter was created. "God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:10).

Man in this material world has not fallen into a region of darkness, as the Gnosis teaches, a divine spark that has fallen into filth from which he must extricate himself by returning to his divine origin. Rather, he partakes of creation. He is willed by God, as a material but also spiritual-physical being, as a microcosm, as an image of the macrocosm, as a being on the border between two realms, combining the spiritual and the material. The account of creation in Genesis tells us: "And God saw that it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). Man belongs to creation and yet transcends it. We shall make this a subject of discussion when we come to the question: Is man the crown of creation?

Both Gnostic and divinizing visions are incompatible with the biblical doctrine of creation. The greatest stumbling block for antiquity was certainly the belief that God creates out of nothing, without prerequisite: "ex nihilo." I think that this question is still today the key question in the entire debate about creation and evolution. What does it mean to say that God creates? The great difficulty that we have, the point -- I am convinced and will also demonstrate -- at which Darwin faltered and failed, is that we have no concept, no vision, no idea of what it means is to say that God is the Creator.

That is because everything that we know is strictly a matter of changes, alterations. The makers of this cathedral did not construct out of nothing. They shaped stone and wood in marvelous fashion. All extra-biblical creation myths and epics take it for granted that a divine being made the world within a pre-existing framework. "Creatio ex nihilo," the absolutely sovereign act of creation, as the Bible attests, is -- and I believe one can also say this in terms of the history of religion -- something unique. We shall see how fundamentally important this is for the understanding of creation as something that God wills to be independent. That will be our next topic of discussion.

Today I wish to point out that I am not the only one who is convinced of this. The belief in creation stood like a godfather beside the cradle of modern science. I shall not demonstrate this in detail, but I am convinced of it and for good reasons. Copernicus, Galileo and Newton were certain that the work of science means reading in the book of creation. God has written that book, and he has given men the power of understanding, in order than they may decipher it. God has written it in legible form, as a comprehensible text. It is admittedly not easy to understand, and the writing is not easy to decode, but it is possible. The entire scientific enterprise is the discovery of order, laws, connections and relationships. Let us say, using this book metaphor: It is the discovery of the letters, the grammar, the syntax and ultimately of the text itself that God has put into this book of creation.

The proposition that the relationship between the Church and science is a bad one, that faith and science, since time immemorial, have been in a state of interminable conflict, belongs to the enduring myths of our time, indeed, I would say, to the acquired prejudices of our time. And, of course, the notion that generally goes along with it, like a musical accompaniment, is the notion that the Church has acted as an enormous inhibitor, with science the courageous liberator.

Above all, the Galileo incident is usually portrayed in the popular version in such a way that he is seen as a victim of the sinister Inquisition. Such belongs to the chapter of "legenda negra," the "black legend," which developed primarily during the Enlightenment but which does not correspond entirely to the historical record. The reality appears somewhat differently. Many historical examples demonstrate how the creation faith served as the rational foundation for scientific research. Of these, Gregor Mendel, the scientist of Bruenn, is but one of a multitude whose endeavors remain indelibly with us today.

It is not true that belief in God the Creator in any way hinders the progress of science! Quite the contrary! How could the belief that the universe has a maker stand in the way of science? Why should it be an impediment to science if it understands its research, its discoveries, its construction of theories, its understanding of connections and relationships as a "study of the book of creation"? Indeed, among natural scientists there are numerous witnesses who make no secret of their faith and openly profess it, but who also expressly see no conflict between faith and science. Again, quite the contrary. The fact that conflicts nonetheless have existed and continue to exist is an issue that would require separate treatment.

Allow me to quote two short texts that express this fundamental conviction of the Church. First, there is again the First Vatican Council of 1870, where we read:

"Even though faith is above reason, there can never be any real disagreement between faith and reason, since it is the same God who reveals the mysteries and infuses faith, and who has endowed the human mind with the light of reason. God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever be in opposition to truth" ("Dei Filius," Chapter 4; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 159).

The conclusion to be drawn is that neither the Church nor science should fear the truth, for, as Jesus says, the truth sets us free (cf. John 8:32). The second excerpt comes from the Second Vatican Council. In the conciliar constitution "Gaudium et Spes," there is more particular emphasis on the question of "Natural Science and Faith":

"Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are" ("Gaudium et Spes," 36:2; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 159).

Why then do we continually find ourselves caught up in conflicts -- or at least, as a consequence of my short article in the New York Times on July 7, 2005, for example, though such can be quite productive and further the discussion -- to vehement polemics?

Conflicts can arise from misunderstandings. Perhaps we do not express ourselves with sufficient clarity; perhaps our thoughts and ideas are not clear enough. Such misunderstandings can be resolved. I have just mentioned one of the most frequent, that which concerns the Creator himself. I shall soon touch upon this with reference to Darwin. Today there seems to me no real danger of an attempt on the part of the Church to take a dictatorial or patronizing attitude toward science. Yet again and again the difficulty arises on both sides that borders are neither recognized nor respected. Thus, they must constantly be assessed and enunciated.

In this regard, the grand achievements of the natural sciences have again and again encouraged the temptation to cross borders. The impression arises that in the face of science's powerful advance, religion is constantly retreating, being forced by the ever greater explanatory capacity of science to yield ever more of its territory. Questions that previously were elucidated in supposedly "primitive supernatural" terms can now be treated in "naturalistic" terms, and that generally means resorting to purely material causes.

When Napoleon asked LaPlace where in his theory there was still a place for God, he is said to have replied: "Sire, je n'ai pas eu besoin de cette hypothèse" ("Sire, I have had no need of that hypothesis"). Such is the notion that God is a superfluous hypothesis, a crutch for the infirm, incapable of standing on their own feet. Increasingly, human beings win their freedom from ancient dependencies. They emancipate themselves, no longer needing God as an explanation or perhaps in any way at all.

When in 1859 Darwin's famous book "The Origin of Species" appeared, the basic message was indeed that he had found a mechanism that portrays a self-acting ("selbsttätig") development, without the need of a creator. As he said himself, his concern was to find a theory which, for the development of the species from lower to higher, did not require increasingly perfective creative acts but rather relied exclusively on coincidental variations and the survival of the fittest. Here was thus the notion that we have found a means for dispensing individual acts of creation.

With this, his major work, Darwin undoubtedly scored a brilliant coup, and it remains a great oeuvre in the history of ideas. With an astounding gift for observation, enormous diligence, and mental prowess, he succeeded in producing one of that history's most influential works. He could already see in advance that his research would create many areas of endeavor. Today one can truly say that the "evolution" paradigm has become, so to speak, a "master key," extending itself within many fields of knowledge.

His success should not be attributed entirely to scientific causes. Darwin himself (but above all his zealous promoters, those who promulgated what is called "Darwinism") imbued his theory with the air of a distinct worldview. Let us leave aside the question of whether such is inevitable. What is certain is that many saw Darwin's "The Origin of Species" as an alternative to what Darwin himself called "the theory of independent acts of creation." To explain the origin of species, one no longer needed such one-by-one creative activity.

The famous concluding sentence added to the end of the second edition of the work certainly provides a place for the Creator, but it is substantially reduced. It reads:

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved" (Charles Darwin, "The Origin of Species").

I believe that Darwin sincerely intended this in a spirit of reverence, but it is a conception of creation that in the realm of theology we call "Deism." In the very beginning there is an act of creation: God breathed into a seed, a single form, the germ of all life. It developed from this primeval beginning, according to the laws that he, Darwin, had endeavored to discover, describe, and formulate. No more divine interventions are required.

I think that we shall have to concern ourselves with this question in particular from the aspect of faith. Does creation mean that God does intervene here and there? What do we mean, after all, by the idea of creation? One thing is certain: The conflict of worldviews about Darwin's theory, about Darwinism, has kept the world intensively busy over the years, now nearly a century and a half. Here I shall offer only three examples of an interpretation that is indisputably imbued with ideology.

1) In 1959, Sir Julian Huxley gave a speech at the centennial celebration of the publication of the famous work: "In the Evolutionary pattern of thought there is no longer either need or room for the supernatural. The earth was not created, it evolved. So did all animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves, mind and soul as well as brain and body. So did religion. Evolutionary man can no longer take refuge from his loneliness in the arms of a divinized father figure." I am convinced that this is not a claim within the realm of the natural sciences but rather the expression of a worldview. It is essentially a "confession of faith" -- that faith being materialism.

2) Thirty years later, in 1988, the American writer Will Provine wrote in an essay about evolution and ethics: "Modern science directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance with deterministic principles or chance. There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces that are rationally detectable." This too is not a conclusion derived from natural science; it is a philosophical claim.

3) Four years later, the Oxford chemistry professor Peter Atkins wrote: "Humanity should accept that science has eliminated the justification for believing in cosmic purpose, and that any survival of purpose is inspired solely by sentiment." Again, this is a "confession of faith"; it is not a strictly scientific claim. These and similar statements could be heard this summer and are one reason that I said in my short article in the New York Times concerning this sort of "border-crossings," that they constitute ideology rather than science, a worldview.

But let us return to the Book of Wisdom, which elsewhere puts the following words into the mouths of those who would deny God: "For we are born of nothing, and after this we shall be as if we had not been: for the breath in our nostrils is smoke: and speech a spark to move our heart" (Book of Wisdom 2:2). One could almost say that this is a materialistic confession of faith that even at the time was not unknown. Even my spirit is only a material product.

What prevents man from recognizing the Creator? What prevents us from deducing the Creator from the greatness and beauty of his creatures? Today, 2,000 years later, it ought to be much easier, to do so, for we know incomparably more than we did two millennia ago. Who could have had any inkling of the immeasurability of the cosmos?

Of course, it says in the Bible: "as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand upon the sea shore" (Genesis 22:17), but could men have known then that the number of stars does in fact correspond to the grains of sands on the shore? There are so many suns in this universe! Could anyone then have known how unbelievably complex, wonderful, incomprehensible the atom is? Could anyone have conceived just how incredibly fascinating can be a single cell and all its functions? Has this wealth of knowledge nonetheless in some way forced us to abandon our belief in the Creator? Has this knowledge driven him out, or has it, on the contrary, rendered it all the more meaningful and reasonable to believe in him -- with much better supporting evidence, through deeper insights into the marvelous world of nature, so that faith in a Creator has really become easier?

But perhaps it is simply this notion, one rightly rejected, that some creator intrudes upon this marvelous natural work. Perhaps it is also a matter of our knowledge about the faith not having kept pace with our knowledge about the natural sciences. Perhaps some of us still have, alongside an astoundingly developed scientific knowledge, only a "childish faith." To that extent, I am glad that my short article has sparked such a debate. Perhaps it will also lead to a deeper discussion of the question of "creation and evolution," "faith and natural science."

I see no difficulty in joining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, but under the prerequisite that the borders of scientific theory are maintained. In the citations given above, it is unequivocally the case that such have been violated. When science adheres to its own method, it cannot come into conflict with faith. But perhaps one finds it difficult to stay within one's territory, for we are, after all, not simply scientists but also human beings, with feelings, who struggle with faith, human beings, who seek the meaning of life. And thus as natural scientists we are constantly and inevitably bringing in questions reflecting worldviews.

In 1985, a symposium took place in Rome under the title "Christian Faith and the Theory of Evolution." I had the privilege of taking part in it and contributed a paper. Then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, presided, and, at its conclusion, Pope John Paul II received us in an audience. There he said: "Rightly comprehended, faith in creation or a correctly understood teaching of evolution does not create obstacles: Evolution in fact presupposes creation; creation situates itself in the light of evolution as an event which extends itself through time -- as a continual creation -- in which God becomes visible to the eyes of the believer as 'creator of heaven and earth.'"

But Pope John Paul then added the thought that for the creation faith and the theory of evolution to be correctly understood, the mediation of reason is necessary, along with, he insisted, philosophy and reflection. Thus, I should like to remind you once more what I have said in various interviews. For me the question that has emerged from this debate is not primarily one of faith vs. knowledge but rather one of reason. The acceptance of purposefulness, of "design" [English in the original], is entirely based on reason, even if the method of the modern natural sciences may require the bracketing of the question of design. Yet my common sense cannot be shut out by the scientific method. Reason tells me that plan and order, meaning and goal exist, that a timepiece does not come into being by accident, even less so the living organism that is a plant, an animal, or, above all, man.

I am thankful for the immense work of the natural sciences. Their furthering of our knowledge boggles the mind. They do not restrict faith in the creation; they strengthen me in my belief in the Creator and in how wisely and wonderfully He has made all things.

It is in the next catecheses, however, that we may be able to see this story in greater detail. There I shall attempt to address what the act of creation means in light of the Christian faith.

[Copyrighted by Cardinal Schönborn; reprinted with permission. Adapted slightly here.]
posted by Lauren, 7:04 PM | link | 0 comments

{Sunday, December 11, 2005  }

.:{Cnytr Will Be Dead...}:.

... for the rest of this week. At least, as far as the blog is concerned.

And if I'm not (barring any breaking news), someone ought to break my typing fingers because I have way too much to do for finals week.

In the meantime ...

Today, we salute you, stressed out college student during finals week. As you sit in your lonely cubical in the library, doped up on Starbucks & Adderrall, you think to yourself, "Am I ever going to need to know this stuff in life?" The distractions are tempting and you have suddenly diagnosed yourself with ADD along with advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage. I'm sure by now you know exactly what everyone is doing because you have checked your buddy list 800 times. Christmas break is just days away, and your Prozac prescription will be in tomorrow. So crack open an ice cold Bud Light after that last exam, because for most of us Christmas will be spent in rehab.

(Stolen from another stressed-out CUA student)
posted by Lauren, 9:40 PM | link | 0 comments

{Thursday, December 08, 2005  }

.:{Immaculate Conception}:.

St. Anne teaching the Virgin to Read; from Aberdeen University Library

Hurrah to Br. Lawrence for posting lovely Dominican stuff so I don't have to.

Happy feast day.
posted by Lauren, 3:06 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Movies -- upcoming or otherwise}:.

I have very, very mixed feelings about this movie ... first of all because WEST POINT IS BETTER. Second of all, because it could either be AWEsome (you can I'll be there on the first day ... probably in my BDU t-shirt and my old boots, shined perfectly, of course. No, I', not a dork) or it could be TERRible.

However, I can say with certainty, that Tristan and Isolde is going to be terrible. It looks like "First Knight", except it's dealing with a much more delicate story, handled with all the gingerness of a brass-knuckled gorilla. Also, Evanesence just doesn't belong in Medieval anything. It will be interesting to see what sources they use (Chretien? Wolfram?), and what they try to say about the whole affair (which, again, depends on what sources they use). And they'll probably nix the love-potion bit altogether, which is also a huge problem for the story.

It's just one of those stories that should have never, ever, ever, ever, ever ever EVERevereverever be touched by Hollywood.

And it's got the same guy who's in the first-mentioned movie, "Annapolis".

The trailer for the Da Vinci Code is annoying and doesn't deserve a link. I may be shot for this comment but The Da Vinci Code has the potential to be a good movie. The problem with the book was that it was not only written terribly (a four-year-old with a crayon and a wall usuall does better), but that it passed its claims off as true. With the media of a movie and Hollywood as its conveyor, there's no way it can be taken seriously. People read books and believe them. People watch movies and eat popcorn, go home and go to work the next day. It's over and two hours, and one doesn't have to give a moment more of one's life to it.

That is why books are democratic -- they draw a line of thinking slowly, gradually, hoping to bring you along with them. But one can put down the book and argue with it. A movie is a movie, a short-term, non-academic affair that requires little brainpower.

And that is, I think, why I am so annoyed by the Chronicles of Naria movie series. I was very genuinely attached to Narnia as a child. I wanted to be Lucy. I got the series when I was 9 or so and read them all in a week (mostly under my bedcovers with a flashlight after my bedtime), and I loved the world they transported me to. When I awakened to my faith, I found myself quoting (unintentionally) a lot of random lines from the Chronicles of Narnia to explain (esp. from The Last Battle, for obvious reasons).

I can't see C.S. Lewis approving. At all. I can't even bend my mind around the idea.

People put up a fight about the Lord of the Rings. I thought the first one was done well enough that I didn't see the big idea. But by the time they got to the Return of The King, my *favorite* one for the soteriological/eschatological/eucharistic overtones -- the frist time I had ever seen that done in a book, and I thought it masterfully done -- I was disenchanted with the movies. I still have a bit of a fondness for the first movie, because it came very close to what I pictured in my head (and dealt with the hobbits well enough at first; the problem is the other movies didn't grow with them, or even sympathize enough with Frodo ... but of course not, because Frodo's plight revolves around the nature of sin).

And there, in short, is my schtick on upcoming movies.
posted by Lauren, 2:27 PM | link | 8 comments

.:{The reason there is not much content on the blog lately...}:.

...is because there's not much in my mind, either. It's finals time, and I still have two papers due.

But in the meantime!

Lady Madonna

You scored 32 shyness, 16 bitterness, 68 moral, and 18 eccentric!

You are Lady Madonna! This single was a celebration of motherhood.
Whether you're a parent or not, you probably are an average, mature
person, just trying to make your way through this world. You have your
modest pleasures, but for the most part you're occupied with
responsibilities, doing the right thing, and taking care of people
close to you.
"Lady Madonna, children at your feet.
Wonder how you manage to make ends meet.
Who finds the money, when you pay the rent?
Did you think that money was heaven sent?" - 'Lady Madonna'

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 37% on shyness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 9% on bitterness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 93% on moral
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on eccentric

Link: The Beatles Song Character Test written by medical_cannoli on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

I like how I scored higher than a billion people on the "moral" end of the spectrume. That just appeals to the prude in me. And I really like the song "Lady Madonna".
posted by Lauren, 12:45 AM | link | 2 comments

{Wednesday, December 07, 2005  }

.:{A referral}:.

As I have lately been merely trying to keep my head above water in this infernal load of work I have, I wasn't able to blog about the last of my patron/name saints for the year (Zadok says: "finally!"), St. Nicholas.

However, the folks over at Traditio in Radice have done a fine job at compiling Stuff on this awesome patron saint, of whose relics I wish I had taken a picture whilst I was in Bari.

I would like to very subtly point out that St. Nicholas is the patron saint of unmarried women, and therefore you ought to pray a lot to him for me. A lot. Start those novenas now. I CAN'T HEAR YOU ...

(Disclaimer: Traditio in Radice often tends towards the schismatic end of the spectrum. A link to said blog does not imply support for the SSPX.)
posted by Lauren, 8:45 AM | link | 3 comments

{Tuesday, December 06, 2005  }

.:{A follow-up to the man-eatting Russian squirrel story...}:.

(In Soviet Russia, blog posts YOU)

posted by Lauren, 7:02 PM | link | 1 comments

.:{The most interesting piece of viral spam I've ever recieved}:.

The contents of the body read thus:

another King. Jupiter, displeased with all their complaints, sent a Heron, who preyed upon the Frogs day by day till there were none left to croak upon the lake. The Boys and the Frogs SOME BOYS, playing near a pond, saw a number of Frogs in the water and began to pelt them with stones. They killed several of them, when one of the Frogs, lifting his head out of the water, cried out: Pray stop, my boys: what is sport to you, is death to us. The Sick Stag A SICK STAG lay down in a quiet corner of its pasture-ground. His companions came in great numbers to inquire after his health, and each one helped himself to a share of the food which had been

These are, you see, selections from Aesop's fables. The rest of "The Sick Stag" continues as follows:

A SICK STAG lay down in a quiet corner of its pasture-ground. His companions came in great numbers to inquire after his health, and each one helped himself to a share of the food which had been placed for his use; so that he died, not from his sickness, but from the failure of the means of living.

Evil companions bring more hurt than profit.

Educated spam. Whoda thunk?
posted by Lauren, 1:50 AM | link | 1 comments

{Monday, December 05, 2005  }

.:{Something about this phrase bothers me}:.

I can't quite put my finger on it.

Online Encyclopedia Tightens Rules

SAN FRANCISCO - Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that allows anyone to contribute articles, is tightening its rules for submitting entries following the disclosure that it ran a piece falsely implicating a man in the Kennedy assassinations. Wikipedia will now require users to register before they can create articles, Jimmy Wales, founder of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Web site, said Monday.

The change comes less than a week after John Seigenthaler Sr., who was Robert Kennedy's administrative assistant in the early 1960s, wrote an op-ed article revealing that Wikipedia had run a biography claiming Seigenthaler had been suspected in the assassinations of the former Attorney General and his brother, President John F. Kennedy.

Wikipedia, which on Monday offered more than 850,000 articles in English, has grown into a storehouse of pieces on topics ranging from medieval art to nano technology. The volume of content is possible because the site relies on volunteers, including many experts in their fields, to submit entries and edit previously submitted articles.

The Web site hopes that the registration requirement will limit the number of stories being created, Wales said.

Why does that phrase bug me so much?
posted by Lauren, 4:57 PM | link | 9 comments

{Saturday, December 03, 2005  }

.:{Dominican Iconography -- no, really this time!}:.

In my perpetual search for one of my favorite (and most elusive) Fra Angelico images in his series of crucifixion + The Nine Ways images painted in the cells of the brethren in S. Marco -- the image of St. Dominic as an old man, flagellating himself before Christ Crucified -- I have stumbled accross a most interesting Dominican priory.

The Priory of St. Vincent Ferrer in River Forest, IL (home to the heresy-preaching-but-well-intentioned Fr. O'Rourke against whom I have railed once or twice) is one of the many attempts at a modern gothic that may often leave the observer feeling a little uneasy. I myself am unsure whether or not I like it.

The exterior strikes me as being rather nice, if a little plain, but what bugs me is what we see of the interior, and the fact that their Byzantine icons don't seem to match anything or go anywhere.

But while I may likewise be ambivalent about the style of the stained-glass windows, one must applaud the series of Dominican saints portrayed therein, and the correct iconography. Dominican coolness practically runs amok.

Portrayed are St. Dominic (although they managed to incorporate the fleur-de-lis, it looks like an afterthought), St Vincent Ferrer (combining all his symbols at once), St. Albert the Great (making an interesting, quasi-miraculous medalish design in the middle panel), St. Thomas Aquinas (with my favorite quote ever, bene scripsisti de me, Thoma,, only it's in English), St. Agnes of Montepulciano, St. Catherine of Siena (holding a copy of her "Dialogues"), St. Peter Martyr (not with the usual Credo but the following words, factorem coeli et terrae), St. John of Cologne (with the noose around his neck), Pope St. Pius V, St. Antoninus (a contemporary of Fra Angelico and admired by Cosimo di Medici; the only stupid thing here is that they describe the pallium as the "archbishop's 'necktie'"), St. Louis Bertrand (who has a LLAMA among his symbols), St. Rose of Lima (girt with a chain -- interesting), St. Catherine de Ricci, St. Margaret of Hungary, St. Hyacinth, St. Raymond of Pennafort, St. Martin de Porress and Bld. Imelda Lambertini.

If nothing else, it's an impressive lineup of Dominicans. One hardly hears so many Dominican names mentioned together outside the Dominican litany.
posted by Lauren, 7:02 PM | link | 4 comments

.:{God's Mercy and Yours}:.

Congratulations to Br. Dominic at the Dominican House of Studies who made his solemn profession today. Our prayers are with you, brother!

As a side note, I find the addresses found in the formula for profession:

I, Br. [N], make profession and promise obedience to God, and to blessed Mary, and to blessed Dominic and to you, brother David Dominic Izzo, Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph, in place of brother Carlos Alfonso Azpiroz Costa, Master of the Order of Friars Preachers and his successors, according to the Rule of blessed Augustine and the Constitutions of the Friars Preachers, that I will be obedient to you and to your successors until death.

(Father Provincial, along with the Master General, are addressed as "brother" according to the Order, rather than their ordained status as "father" -- at least, that is my own thought.)
posted by Lauren, 4:18 PM | link | 1 comments

{Thursday, December 01, 2005  }


Q: Why does a chicken coop have two doors?

A: Because if it had four doors, it would be a sedan.
posted by Lauren, 6:27 PM | link | 5 comments

.:{One more post on news things}:.

Student sent home for wearing camoflauge

And believe it or not, I actually think they have a rational basis for doing so:

LOWELL -- Shilo Lewis just wanted to blend in with the crowd.

She'd seen camouflage clothing in fashion magazines, on the streets of the city, even in Lowell High School.

But a head-to-toe camouflage ensemble got the high-school junior sent home from school yesterday.

“They took one look at me and said, ‘You have to get picked up,' “ Lewis said about school officials.

Lewis, 16, was wearing a camouflage bandana holding her waist-length hair in a ponytail, a camouflage jacket over a camouflage T-shirt, and a pair of camouflage pants.

“I think she looks great,” said her mother, Bette Lewis, who bought her the outfit. “She always looks nice. She always matches everything.”

Lowell High Headmaster Bill Samaras said military gear is associated with some local gangs, and could disrupt students' safety and their learning environment.

“This has nothing to do with the military. We allow Reserve Officer Training Corps to wear military gear because they wear it in a respectful manner. It's the gang relation. If it's controversial or if it has gang associations, we won't have it,” Samaras said.


Bette Lewis argued that her daughter's clothing wasn't revealing or vulgar, and said she's watched several other girls in the school walk around with camouflage on.

“They're all wearing it,” she said.

Director of Curriculum Wendy Jack said two other students were called to the office because they were wearing camouflage yesterday.

“If she just had a jacket, or if she just had a T-shirt, we would ask her to put the jacket away or cover the shirt. We don't want to send students home. But she was covered head to foot,” Jack said.

Jack said the school applies the policy to everyone, but admitted some camouflaged students meld into the scenery.


Phill Rodrigues, 14, a Lowell High freshman, said he was given a detention for wearing camouflage pants on one of his first days of school.

“They said, ‘If you wear camouflage again, you'll be suspended,' “ Rodrigues said. “I don't know of any gangs that wear camouflage. I know some wear red or blue.”


Phill Rodrigues, 14, a Lowell High freshman, said he was given a detention for wearing camouflage pants on one of his first days of school.

“They said, ‘If you wear camouflage again, you'll be suspended,' “ Rodrigues said. “I don't know of any gangs that wear camouflage. I know some wear red or blue.”


“I don't think it's right,” Bette Lewis said. “If she was a troublemaker or talking back, that would be one thing, but she's always dressed from head to toe matching and I've always encouraged it.”

With the exception of the freshman who got detention on the first day of school (perhaps they were merely trying to send a strong message?), I think I would agree. The key thing is the gang-related trend in the area. Not that, as mentioned, there's anything wrong with camo itself.

Perhaps it is a little heavy-handed (perhaps), but there's more going on here than a student being sent home from school for wearing camo.
posted by Lauren, 5:41 PM | link | 4 comments

.:{From the people who brought you the alligator-exploded snake}:.

Today: Woes and Whoas!


An article in the Post about Internet Addiction:

THE waiting room for Hilarie Cash's practice has the look and feel of many a therapist's office, with soothing classical music, paintings of gentle swans and colorful flowers and on the bookshelves stacks of brochures on how to get help.

But along with her patients, Dr. Cash, who runs Internet/Computer Addiction Services here in the city that is home to Microsoft, is a pioneer in a growing niche in mental health care and addiction recovery.

The patients, including Mike, 34, are what Dr. Cash and other mental health professionals call onlineaholics. They even have a diagnosis: Internet addiction disorder.

These specialists estimate that 6 percent to 10 percent of the approximately 189 million Internet users in this country have a dependency that can be as destructive as alcoholism and drug addiction, and they are rushing to treat it. Yet some in the field remain skeptical that heavy use of the Internet qualifies as a legitimate addiction, and one academic expert called it a fad illness.


Dr. Cash and other professionals say that people who abuse the Internet are typically struggling with other problems, like depression and anxiety. But, they say, the Internet's omnipresent offer of escape from reality, affordability, accessibility and opportunity for anonymity can also lure otherwise healthy people into an addiction.

Dr. Cash's patient Mike, who was granted anonymity to protect his privacy, was at high risk for an Internet addiction, having battled alcohol and drug abuse and depression. On a list of 15 symptoms of Internet addiction used for diagnosis by Internet/Computer Addiction Services, Mike, who is unemployed and living with his mother, checked off 13, including intense cravings for the computer, lying about how much time he spends online, withdrawing from hobbies and social interactions, back pain and weight gain.

A growing number of therapists and inpatient rehabilitation centers are often treating Web addicts with the same approaches, including 12-step programs, used to treat chemical addictions.


[Professor Keisler] said calling it an addiction "demeans really serious illnesses, which are things like addiction to gambling, where you steal your family's money to pay for your gambling debts, drug addictions, cigarette addictions." She added, "These are physiological addictions."

But Dr. Cash, who began treating Internet addicts 10 years ago, said that Internet addiction was a potentially serious illness. She said she had treated suicidal patients who had lost jobs and whose marriages had been destroyed because of their addictions.

She said she was seeing more patients like Mike, who acknowledges struggling with an addiction to online pornography but who also said he was obsessed with logging on to the Internet for other reasons. He said that he became obsessed with using the Internet during the 2000 presidential election and that now he feels anxious if he does not check several Web sites, mostly news and sports sites, daily.

"I'm still wrestling with the idea that it's a problem because I like it so much," Mike said.

Three hours straight on the Internet, he said, is a minor dose. The Internet seemed to satisfy "whatever urge crosses my head."


The line is drawn with Internet addiction," said Mr. Zehr of Proctor Hospital, "when I'm no longer controlling my Internet use. It's controlling me." Dr. Cash and other therapists say they are seeing a growing number of teenagers and young adults as patients, who grew up spending hours on the computer, playing games and sending instant messages. These patients appear to have significant developmental problems, including attention deficit disorder and a lack of social skills.

A report released during the summer by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that teenagers did spend an increasing amount of time online: 51 percent of teenage Internet users are online daily, up from 42 percent in 2000. But the report did not find a withering of social skills. Most teenagers "maintain robust networks of friends," it noted.

Some therapists and Internet addiction treatment centers offer online counseling, including at least one 12-step program for video game addicts, which is controversial. Critics say that although it may be a way to catch the attention of someone who needs face-to-face treatment, it is akin to treating an alcoholic in a brewery, mostly because Internet addicts need to break the cycle of living in cyberspace.

A crucial difference between treating alcoholics and drug addicts, however, is that total abstinence is usually recommended for recovery from substance abuse, whereas moderate and manageable use is the goal for behavioral addictions.

I would agree that it would be false to call this an addiction proper. I suspect that the problem with the so-called "internet addiction" arises from two things:

1) Lack of self-control
2) Other factors which may be genuine psychological illnesses, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Many of the "addictive" things about the internet involve (as mentioned) gambling and pornography. Compulsive gambling and pornography addiction are separate problems of themselves, and arise from different causes. Persons involved with one or both have different reasons/tendencies/et cetera.

In short, I suspect the whole thing is bunk. And if there's anyone who circumstantially ought to have an internet addiction, it's probably yours truly. I spent several hours a day online in my highschool years every day ... because that's how I did my school. And I was doing school, because it's impossible to check email and think about Greek aorist optatives and what sort of constructions require them. In fact I've been on the internet so darn long I'm kind of sick of it, but it is a necessary evil for communication and academic purposes (esp. considering that, instead of actually going out and purchasing a Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary, I use the online one provided by Perseus).

It's like the way to tire pre-pubescent boys from anything: make them do it SO much that they're sick of it (you want ice cream for breakfast? Suuuuure, I'll give you ice cream for breakfast...).

And now, the Whoa! --

A pack of Russian squirrels kill a dog.

No kidding. It is, again, like something out of a bad horror movie.

Passers-by were reportedly too late to stop the attack by the black squirrels in a village in the far east, which reportedly lasted about a minute.

They are said to have scampered off at the sight of humans, some carrying pieces of flesh.

A pine cone shortage may have led the squirrels to seek other food sources, although scientists are sceptical.


A "big" stray dog was nosing about the trees and barking at squirrels hiding in branches overhead when a number of them suddenly descended and attacked, reports say.

"They literally gutted the dog," local journalist Anastasia Trubitsina told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

"When they saw the men, they scattered in different directions, taking pieces of their kill away with them."


A Lazo man who called himself only Mikhalich said there had been "no pine cones at all" in the local forests this year.

"The little beasts are agitated because they have nothing to eat," he said.

When I was five, perhaps younger, I once insisted to my mom and sisters that I was going to go catch a squirrel.

They laughed at me.

"You go catch that squirrell, hun," they said.

Well they weren't laughing five minutes later as I emerged holding the squirrel by the tail, and when it bit me through the thumb such that they dragged me off to go get rabies shots.

("Well that explains a lot," said half of Cnytr's readers.)
posted by Lauren, 5:12 PM | link | 3 comments