Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Who's Naughty? Who's Nice? This Christmas in Retail

LifeSite has posted an article on its website entitled The Naughty And Nice List - Which Companies are Allowing a "Merry Christmas". The article is about the Liberty Council's list "which catalogs retailers who either censor or recognize Christmas." This list is a part of its Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign. Here are a few of the stores that made the list:

Lowe's - Employees cannot say "Merry Christmas" to customers. Lowe's corporate advised that only when customers initiate a "Merry Christmas" greeting can employees respond in kind.
Toys 'R' Us - "Holidays" are in, "Merry Christmas" is out.
Barnes & Noble - Web site says "Gift Guide," "Holiday gift baskets," "Holiday sled," "Holiday delivery," but no Christmas. Stores not allowed to put up Christmas trees, and employees are not allowed to say "Merry Christmas."
Best Buy - Web site says "Unique gifts for the season," "Holiday gift ideas." Spokesperson said the use of "Merry Christmas" is disrespectful.
Eddie Bauer - Customer service would not recognize Christmas, they "don't want to offend Jews, those who celebrate Kwanza and those who have no religious preference."
Gap - "Holiday Survival Guide" with no mention of Christmas.
Old Navy - We has holiday gift guide
Home Depot - Web site says "Holiday Store" and "Holiday Lighting" and only at bottom of site says "Make your Christmas decorations complete." Stores have "Holiday Home Accents."
K-Mart - Selling "Holiday trees" and "Holiday wreaths."
JC Penney - Web site has "Christmas Shipping Countdown."
Joann Fabrics - Offers Christmas and Holiday fabrics.
Kohl's - Christmas is all over TV, print and radio ads.
L.L. Bean - Advertises and distributes "Christmas Catalog."
Macy's - "Merry Christmas!" on its home page. (It better given the movie Miracle on 34th Street takes place there.)
Michaels - Web site has a Christmas section.
M&M-Mars Candies - Will have red and green candies with pictures of Christmas trees and angels among other images.
Target - Web site says "Christmas Decor," although the physical store has "Holiday entertaining." TV ad says "Merry Christmas."
Wal-Mart - Has a "Christmas Shop," plays Christmas carols, and employees can say "Merry Christmas."
Sears – Stores have signs that say “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” although Web site just says “holidays”.
I find it interesting that 2 divisions of 1 corporation is being consistant (even if in the wrong way) while 2 divisions of another corporation are on the seprate lists. The 2 that are consitant are Gap & Old Navy. Sears is owned by K-Mart yet Sears made the nice list, K-Mart the naughty.
(The complete list is available in 2 formats on theLiberty Council's website, PDF or MSWord.)
These corporations need to hear from us. There are 2 ways, the most obvious is where you spend your money. The 2nd is to write corporate or contact the local store manager & tell them how you feel & let them know you won't shop there until they go back to acknowledging Christmas. They can find a better way to acknowledge all the holidays than a generic "Happy Holidays. This process is known as hitting them in the pocketbook. If they see that being PC about the season is going to cost them sales they will change if only to keep from loosing money.
20 yrs ago when I worked in retail I would at times say "Happy Holidays" as an alternative to "Merry Christmas". Back then it was understood that Christmas is what you ment & that you weren't trying to avoid offending someone. The meaning of "Happy Holidays" has changed. Now it is to avoid the mention of any holiday, but esp Christmas. That is what offends me. If it was used in conjunction with "Merry Christmas" I would have no objection. If someone wished me a "Happy Hanukkah" or "Happy Kwanzaa" I wouldn't be offended. I would be happy to see someone able to freely express his or her beliefs. So, why can't I just as freely see mine expressed?

(Updated 2 Dec 2006 12:49 am added faithmouse cartoon)

Papa Benedetto heads to Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Neverborn has definitely gotten it right. Papa Benedetto will certainly need to use his shield of faith (Eph 6:15) to protect him on his trip this week to Turkey. There have been several threats against his life if he steps onto Turkish soil as well as several protests including 1 last Sunday that included about 25,000 participants. But, just like his predecessor St Peter, Papa Benedetto is more concerned with obeying the will of God than with his own safety.
At the Angelus address Sunday (26 Nov 2006) he showed that he knew exactly who to put his trust in when he said to those present "I asked all of you to accompany me with prayer so that this pilgrimage may bring all the fruits willed by God." He aslo called on his predecessor, Pope Blessed John XXIII to intercede before God's Throne in Heaven for him. Papa Benedetto has put his faith in the providence of God & knows that no matter what, God will use him for the spreading of the Kingdom of God & proclaimation of the Gospel. His trust is such that he has even refused to wear a bullet proof vest. The 5 Cardinals that are accompanying him have also turned down requests for them to wear protective vests.
By the world's standards this would seem foolishness, but no more than when St. Peter & the rest of the Apostles went back into the Temple to proclaim the Gospel after being miraculously freed from prison where the Sanhedren put them for doing that very thing in the 1st place. (Acts 5:19-33) The Pope is showing the same bravery as they did. As Fr. Jonathan Morris said in his FoxNews Blog entry Pope Benedict the Brave: "(H)is bravery is not bravado. It comes from a spiritual conviction that some things are worth fighting for — and even dying for." Papa Benedetto takes as his view that of Paul "For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." (Rom 14:8) Faith operates by a different standard than the world. & it is faith's standard that the Pope is following, not the world's.
So, why is Papa Benedetto putting his life at risk? What does he see as God's will in this trip? What does he see as worth even dying for if necessary? The simple answer, as I said above, is obdedience to God's call to travel to Turkey. He is "the Lord's" servant. But what is the mission God is calling him to accomplish?
According to the official document called the Presentation of the Missal put out by the Vatican Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations there are 3 reasons for this trip. These reasons that summarize the mission Christ has sent him there for are that it is:
1) A pastoral journey, "The Catholic Church in Turkey, with its various ritual expressions (Latin, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Chaldean) is a small minority in a prevalently Sunni Muslim world. Like the Apostle Peter who, wrote a letter (1 Peter) from Rome to the Christian communities in diaspora in present-day Turkey, his Successor now speaks to those same communities, not only in words but also by his presence. Saint Peter urged the Christians there “to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15). In our own times, which have seen the rise and spread of forms of religious intolerance, Pope Benedict XVI, through the preaching of the word and the celebration of the sacraments, comes to confirm the Catholic community of Turkey in hope and in fidelity to Christ."
2) An ecumenical journey, "From the very beginning of his Petrine ministry, Pope Benedict XVI has made commitment to ecumenism a priority of his Pontificate. As he stated on 20 April 2005, in a homily delivered in the Sistine Chapel the day after his election, 'the present Successor of Peter feels personally responsible in this regard, and is prepared to do everything in his power to advance the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the footsteps of his predecessors, he is fully determined to encourage every initiative that seems appropriate for promoting contacts and understanding with the representatives of the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities'."
3) A journey under the banner of interreligious dialogue "It is significant that the Holy Father’s first journey to a predominantly Muslim country begins in the very land from which Abraham, the common patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, undertook his journey of faith in God. It was from Harran, a village in present-day Turkey, that he set out in a spirit of total dependence upon God, trusting solely in the word that had been revealed to him.
The renewed memory of these common roots linking the three religions, which the Holy Father wishes to evoke in his journey, is an invitation to overcome the conflicts between Jews, Christians and Muslims that have taken place over the centuries."
What lies ahead for the Holy Father on his visit to Turkey, how events will unfold, is in the Lord's hands. Papa Benedetto would have it no other way. Like St. Paul we see the Holy Father "forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead" in order to continue his "pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus. " (Phil 3:13,14)
(The entire Program for the Apostolic Journey to Turkey is available on the Vatican website along with the above mentioned Missal. EWTN will provide live coverage of the various events of the Papl Journey. Father Jonathan Morris will also post his insights on his FoxNews Blog as well as provide commentary for FoxNews' coverage of the journey.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Moonbat Lawsuits Reach Russia

The frivilous lawsuit craze has made it to Russia. According to a report on Ananova titled Woman sues after drinking 5,000 litres of Coke, Natalya Kashuba, 27, drank up to 3 liters of Coca Cola a day for 5 years. She did so to collect caps & turn them in for prizes. She claimed that after drinking all that Coke she developed insomnia & heartburn. According to her lawyer, Alexey Monakhov, "In October 2005, as a result of an examination by a gastroenterologist, she was diagnosed with a chronic condition whose main symptom is heart burn."
2 Russian courts held Coke to blaim for not warning of the potential health risks of drinking too much Coke & awarded her 3,163.76 Russian Roubles ($119.75). She is seeking an additional 3,010,673 Roubles ($113,958) in what she calls "moral damages".
OK where does common sense & greed on her part fit into this? & for that matter, what about personal responsibility for her actions? Part of the evidence entered in were the dozens of inflatible mattresses & radios that she had gotten for the caps she turned in. In my mind she joins the ranks of those here in the USA that sued McDonalds for making them fat. At least the judges here in the USA have so far had the sense to throw those cases out.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the Feast of Christ the King (Pius XI)

Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thine altar. We are Thine, and Thine we wish to be; but, to be more surely united with Thee, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Thy most Sacred Heart.

Many indeed have never known Thee; many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy sacred Heart. Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee; grant that they may quickly return to Thy Father's house lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.

Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith, so that there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.

Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God. Turn Thine eyes of mercy towards the children of the race, once Thy chosen people: of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Savior; may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life.

Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: "Praise be to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor for ever." Amen
(This prayer is the 1 given by Pope Pius XI to fullfill they following "We further ordain that the dedication of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Our predecessor of saintly memory, Pope Pius X, commanded to be renewed yearly, be made annually on that day[Feast of Christ the King]." [Quas primas 28, 11 Dec 1925] Pope Leo XIII also called for this consecration to the Sacred Heart in his encyclical Annum sacrum 25 May 1899)

HE is THE KING of KINGS!!!!!

Today is the Feast of Christ the King. This feast was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. He gave the reasons for the establishment of the feast in his encyclical Quas primas which was issued on 11 December 1925. The feast was initially celebrated in the Latin Rite on the last Sunday of October but moved to the last Sunday of the Church year after Vatican II.
What did Pope Pius XI hope to accomplish by "the public veneration of the Kingship of Christ"? As he wrote in paragraph 33: "The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls."
This is reflected in the answer to question 107 in the Compendium of the Catechism (CC): "All are invited by Jesus to enter the Kingdom of God. Even the worst of sinners is called to convert and to accept the boundless mercy of the Father. Already here on earth, the Kingdom belongs to those who accept it with a humble heart. To them the mysteries of the Kingdom are revealed."
So how do we live as subjects in the Kingdom of God? Origen in a sermon on prayer said "(L)et us pray without ceasing, our souls filled by a desire made divine by the Word Himself. Let us pray to our Father in heaven: hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come." He goes on to say "There is something important that we need to understand about the kingdom of God: just as righteousness has no partnership with lawlessness, just as light has nothing in common with darkness and Christ has no agreement with Belial, so the kingdom of God and a kingdom of sin cannot co-exist. So if we want God to reign within us, on no account may sin rule in our mortal body but let us mortify our earthly bodies and let us be made fruitful by the Spirit. Then we will be a spiritual garden of Eden for God to walk in. God will rule in us with Christ who will be seated in us on the right hand of God — God, the spiritual power that we pray to receive — until he makes his enemies (who are within us) into his footstool and pours out on us all authority, all power, all strength."
This is a strong challenge to each of us to look at our lives & see how we are living. This isn't a once for all thing but a daily thing. Everytime a person sins he takes Christ off the throne of his heart. & the only way to restore Christ to the throne is to repent & return to Jesus. The sacrament of Confession is a tool that Jesus gave us to give us the graces we need to not only turn from sin but to be able to resist temptation. & of cource the greatest source of grace is the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
But not sinning & praying is not enough. There is more that each of us needs to do in response to the call we have from Jesus to live in the Kingdom. Every aspect of how we live our lives needs to reflect the reality of the Lordship of Jesus in our lives. How do I treat others? If I own one, how do I run my business? How do I do my job if I work for someone else? Do I fight to end abortion? How am I helping the poor?, those in prison? etc? The Compendium of the Social Doctrines of the Church (CSD) is a sure guide to living this call out.
In living out the teachings of the Church we bring the Kingdom of God to others. "(T)he Church has a single intention: that God's kingdom may come, and that the salvation of the whole human race may come to pass. For every benefit which the People of God during its earthly pilgrimage can offer to the human family stems from the fact that the Church is "the universal sacrament of salvation", simultaneously manifesting and a rising the mystery of God's love." (Gaudium et spes 45) "The transformation of social relationships that responds to the demands of the Kingdom of God is not fixed within concrete boundaries once and for all. Rather, it is a task entrusted to the Christian community, which is to develop it and carry it out through reflection and practices inspired by the Gospel. . . . . The dynamics of this renewal must be firmly anchored in the unchangeable principles of the natural law, inscribed by God the Creator in each of his creatures (cf. Rom 2:14-15), and bathed in eschatological light through Jesus Christ." (CSD 53)
Each generation has its responsiblitiy to do its part to bring about the Kingdom of God. But the ultimite fullfillment of the Kingdom won't occur until Jesus returns. Some day as we heard in todays readings we will say: "Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him." (Rev 1:7) As Daniel prophecied: "I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed. " (Dan 7:13-14)
Jesus won this right to rule not by accepting an earthly crown made of gold & jewels, but by accepting a crown of thorns. He didn't accept an earthly throne he mounted the throne of the cross. In doing so he transformed them into a crown & throne much more glorious than any here on earth. He has begun this reign in Heaven & will some day return. Until that time things are as described in Psalm 110 where the Father says to Jesus “Sit at my right hand while I make your enemies into your footstool.” As Paul explains: "For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death, for everything is to be put under his feet. – Though when it is said that everything is subjected, this clearly cannot include the One who subjected everything to him. And when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subject in his turn to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all." (1 Cor 15:25-28)
What is my response to God's call to let Jesus be King in my life, what is yours? Each of us has a choice. Do I let Jesus reign as Lord of my life? Am I letting Him transform me by the power of the Holy Spirit? Do I allow Him to use me to bring about the Kingdom of God here on Earth? How about you?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Planned Parenthood vs the 10 Commandments

On Friday I got the Nov-Dec 2006 issue of American Life League's Celebrate Life. On page 26 is an article by Jim Sedlak, The Power Behind Shutting Down Planned Parenthood. 1 paragraph esp caught my attention. In it he says: "A cursory understanding of Planned Parenthood reveals that it is an orginization intent on violating just about every one of the Ten Commandments." This line really got me to thinking. How good of a job has Planned Parentood done in accomplishing this mission. Sadly, I have to report that it is doing an excellent job.
Let's take a look at the 10 Commandments & a bit of what Planned Parenthood has done to break them better than anyone has since Moses threw them down at Mt. Sinai. The numbering I am using is that of the Catholic Church's tradition.
1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
Ann Coulter said it best when she said modern feminists have raised abortion to the level of a sacrament. & Planned Parenthood has become the priesthood. They worship abortion & birth control as the guarentee of unrestricted sex as the ultimate right of human beings. Those 3 have become their unholy trinity.

2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
A quote from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood illustrates this perfectly: "Planned Parenthood provides safe & legal abortion care, & thank God we do..." Nuff 'said!

3. Remember to keep holy the LORD’S day.
Many of their locations are open on Saturday & a few of their locations are open on Sunday. Given what they stand for even 1 being open on Sunday is definitely not keeping the Christian Lord's Day holy & the fact that Sat is the Jewish Sabbath is even more blasphemously breaking this commandment.
4. Honor your father and your mother.
Planned Parenthood opposes all parental notification laws.

5. You shall not kill.
Abortion is murder. Many so-called birth control methods actually prevent a fetus from being implanted & are thus really causing abortions.

6. You shall not commit adultery.
Planned Parenthood is big on supplying teens with condoms & other means of birth control so they can have safe sex regardless of age or marital status.

7. You shall not steal.
If taking the money it does for the services it provides under the guise of helping people for altruistic reasons isn't stealing, what is?

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Planned Parenthood denies the reality of Post-Abortion Syndrome. & I won't even go into the horror stories of how many botched abortions they have covered up. & the cover up on how it is still promoting its founder Margaret Sanger's racist policies is another area that I won't go into detail about here. (There are excellent books like Lime 5, Exploited by Choice by Mark Crutcher that expose the lies & cover ups I refered to. American Life League has a page with info on Margaret Sanger that includes links to the texts of 2 of books that proof the truth of these claims.)

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
See Commandment 6 above.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Planned Parenthood is a business that masks itself as a nonprofit orginization. It made a profit of $63 million for fiscal 2004-2005. It endorsed Plan B because of the money it could make from it as another source of revenue. It is a greedy orginization.
(The above facts can be supported by information that can be found at the websites of the Pro-life orginizations I have listed on the sidebar to the right.)
I'd say that Mr. Sedlak's statement is accurate but also a bit of an understatement. What I have shown above proves that he is right when he goes on to say in the same paragraph: "From its worship of man and sex as gods, to its dishonoring of parents, to its attempts at stealing the souls of our teens and the killing of babies in the womb, Planned Parenthood is a wolf in sheep's clothing. If Lucifer were to create an orginization to do his work with mainstream acclaim, he could not find a better model than Planned Parenthood."
Planned Parenthood IS straight out of hell!!!!
(I would highly recommend you read the entire article by Mr. Sedlack at the link I have provided. He gets to the root of what is the ultimate tool we have to stop Planned Parenthood, the 1 on which the success of everything else we do hinges, PRAYER. & esp check out the STOPP website for more info on stopping Planned Parenthood.)

Meet Topo Gigio

Here is a video for those of you who are too young to remember Topo Gigio when he was a regular on The Ed Sullivan Show. (Notice the resemblance to FaithMouse?) His appearances were 1 of my most favorite parts of the show. He was such a sweet innocent. & this 1 gives a tip of the hat to 1 of my favorite comedians, Jack Benny.
There are a whole bunch more Ed Sullivan Show appearances on Google.

A bit of fun with the Muppets

Mah-Na-Mah-Na! Do Do Do Do Do!!!!!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Vietnamese Martyrs

Way too often, when we think of large groups of martyrs we think of the early centuries of the Church. But that sort of thing died out for the most part after Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire. There may be an occasional martyr here & there, but nothing like those large groups back then. Not true. In fact there are style large groups of Christians being persecuted in areas like China.
1 area that has seen a large number of martyrs produces is Vietnam. Over a period of the last 500 yrs thousands of people, mostly Vietnamese have been martyred for their faith in Christ. This group included missionaries, bishops, priests, religious, lay men & women. On 19 June 1988 Pope John Paul the Great recognized 117 of them as saints. This group consisted of ninety-six Vietnamese, eleven Spaniards, and ten French. Eight of the group were bishops, fifty were priests and fifty-nine were lay Catholics.
Among these were Fr. Andrew Dung-Lac, a parish priest. He was beheaded on 21 December 1839 merely for being a priest. Another was Francis Xavier Can Nguyen. He was a lay catechist who was strangled to death when he refused to renounce his faith. Augustine Moi Van Nguyen was a day laborer & a Dominican tertiary who was told by government authorities to trample on a cross by government authorities as a sign of renouncing his faith. He was strangled in 1839 after refusing to do so. Andrew Thong Kim Nguyen was a village mayor who was stripped of his position in 1855, exiled he was marched to a relocation camp in Mi-Tho. On the way he died due to dehydration, exposure and exhaustion.
These are only a few of the stories of the 117 Vietnamese Martyrs. Their stories are a challenge to us who have it so much easier here in the USA. How many of us are anywhere near as willing to stand up for our faith even though we don't face the threats & dangers to our lives that they did? May their stories inspire us to pay whatever price we may have to to live our lives out as true followers of Christ.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

Some thoughts from Scripture & my reflection on them as Thanksgiving winds down about giving THANKS to God for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us.
"For the Lord thy God will bring thee into a good land, of brooks and of waters, and of fountains: in the plains of which and the hills deep rivers break out: A land of wheat, and barley, and vineyards, wherein fig trees and pomegranates, and oliveyards grow: a land of oil and honey. Where without any want thou shalt eat thy bread, and enjoy abundance of all things: where the stones are iron, and out of its hills are dug mines of brass: That when thou hast eaten, and art full, thou mayst bless the Lord thy God for the excellent land which he hath given thee. Take heed, and beware lest at any time thou forget the Lord thy God, and neglect his commandments and judgments and ceremonies, which I command thee this day: Lest after thou hast eaten and art filled, hast built goodly houses, and dwelt in them, And shalt have herds of oxen and flocks of sheep, and plenty of gold and of silver, and of all things, Thy heart be lifted up, and thou remember not the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage: And was thy leader in the great and terrible wilderness, wherein there was the serpent burning with his breath, and the scorpion and the dipsas, and no waters at all: who brought forth streams out of the hardest rock, And fed thee in the wilderness with manna which thy fathers knew not. And after he had afflicted and proved thee, at the last he had mercy on thee, Lest thou shouldst say in thy heart: My own might, and the strength of my own hand have achieved all these things for me. But remember the Lord thy God, that he hath given thee strength, that he might fulfil his covenant, concerning which he swore to thy fathers, as this present day showeth." Deuteronomy 8:7-18
Although this was a promise that was made to the Israelites it could just as easily be seen as applying to us. The description fits our land just as it fit the Promised Land for the Hebrew people. That is why the Church provides this as 1 f the options for the OT reading for the votive Mass for Thanksgiving in the USA. Isn't is esp needed today for us to remember that it is God who has placed us here & blessed our land with abundance. Our country is a land populated mostly by immigrants or descendants of immigrants who came here seeking a better place to live. America was a land of hope, a land who's streets were paved with gold. The gold wasn't literally in the streets. But, just like the Israelites lived as God called them & were then blessed by God, the same is true of those who came to America. God blessed the work of their hands.
"The earth hath yielded her fruit. May God, our God bless us, May God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear him." Psalm 67:7-8 (D-R 66)
"Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness. Come in before his presence with exceeding great joy. Know ye that the Lord he is God: he made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Go ye into his gates with praise, into his courts with hymns: and give glory to him. Praise ye his name: For the Lord is sweet, his mercy endureth for ever, and his truth to generation and generation." Psalm 100 (D-R 99)
These 2 readings tell us what our attitude should be towards God for all our blessings. In the end all that we have is a blessing from God. & we should have an attitude of humble thanks & praise, acknowledging God as the source of all our blessings.
"And Jesus said to them: Take heed and beware of all covetousness: for a man's life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth. And he spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits. And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns and will build greater: and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me and my goods. And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years. Take thy rest: eat, drink, make good cheer. But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee. And whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God." Luke 12:15-21
This reading is 1 of the Gospel options the Catholic Church provides for Thanksgiving. This has also been 1 of my favorite parables since I was a child. It reminds us of the attitude we should have towards all that we have been blessed with. Are the goods our treasure, or is the giver of these goods our true treasure. Are we storing up goods so that we don't have to depend on God? Are we storing up what we don't need rather than helping the "least of our brethren"?
Finally, I would like to share my favorite Psalm with you. It lists all the blessings that God bestows on us if we will receive them. they are not merely physical blessing, they also include the spiritual blessings He desires to bestow upon us. Esp the greatest blessing of all, salvation. This is why we are to bless God, giving Him the praise & thanksgiving He alone is due.
"Bless Yahweh, my soul, from the depths of my being, his holy name; bless Yahweh, my soul, never forget all his acts of kindness. He forgives all your offences, cures all your diseases, he redeems your life from the abyss, crowns you with faithful love and tenderness; he contents you with good things all your life, renews your youth like an eagle's. Yahweh acts with uprightness, with justice to all who are oppressed; he revealed to Moses his ways, his great deeds to the children of Israel. Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger and rich in faithful love; his indignation does not last for ever, nor his resentment remain for all time; he does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor repay us as befits our offences. As the height of heaven above earth, so strong is his faithful love for those who fear him. As the distance of east from west, so far from us does he put our faults. As tenderly as a father treats his children, so Yahweh treats those who fear him; he knows of what we are made, he remembers that we are dust. As for a human person*his days are like grass, he blooms like the wild flowers; as soon as the wind blows he is gone, never to be seen there again. But Yahweh's faithful love for those who fear him is from eternity and for ever; and his saving justice to their children's children; as long as they keep his covenant, and carefully obey his precepts. Yahweh has fixed his throne in heaven, his sovereign power rules over all. Bless Yahweh, all his angels, mighty warriors who fulfil his commands, attentive to the sound of his words. Bless Yahweh, all his armies, servants who fulfil his wishes. Bless Yahweh, all his works, in every place where he rules. Bless Yahweh, my soul. " Psalm 103


The 1st Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving 1789


Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.


President Bush's 2006 Thanksgiving Proclamation

November 16, 2006
As Americans gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks for the many ways that our Nation and our people have been blessed.
The Thanksgiving tradition dates back to the earliest days of our society, celebrated in decisive moments in our history and in quiet times around family tables. Nearly four centuries have passed since early settlers gave thanks for their safe arrival and pilgrims enjoyed a harvest feast to thank God for allowing them to survive a harsh winter in the New World. General George Washington observed Thanksgiving during the Revolutionary War, and in his first proclamation after becoming President, he declared November 26, 1789, a national day of "thanksgiving and prayer." During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition of proclaiming a day of thanksgiving, reminding a divided Nation of its founding ideals.
At this time of great promise for America, we are grateful for the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution and defended by our Armed Forces throughout the generations. Today, many of these courageous men and women are securing our peace in places far from home, and we pay tribute to them and to their families for their service, sacrifice, and strength. We also honor the families of the fallen and lift them up in our prayers.
Our citizens are privileged to live in the world's freest country, where the hope of the American dream is within the reach of every person. Americans share a desire to answer the universal call to serve something greater than ourselves, and we see this spirit every day in the millions of volunteers throughout our country who bring hope and healing to those in need. On this Thanksgiving Day, and throughout the year, let us show our gratitude for the blessings of freedom, family, and faith, and may God continue to bless America.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 23, 2006, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.
Source: White House website


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Topo di Fede (FaithMouse) Visits Italia

From the archives of FaithMouse
Hmmm!!! I wonder if FaithMouse was visiting cugino Topo Gigio?

When you speak out the cowards come out, sort of.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you." Matthew 5:10-12

On Friday 10 Nov I wrote a piece entitled All Submissions May Be Edited. It was about a letter to the editor that I sent to the Des Moines Register. Well, the cowards strike again. Just like the person who responded to my post Michael J. Fox proves Ann Coulter Right, I did get a response, &, no surprize, the letter wasn't signed. & I can tell you why very simply, the person knows that if he/she signed his/her name then I could respond & prove the claims made by the person were wrong.
I expect pot shots to be taken at me, that is a given. & it doesn't bother me. So, I don't expect any pity when people attack me. Jesus was attacked for telling the truth, so were the Apostles, as well as many Christians down through the centuries. That is not why I am writing this. Why I am doing this is that even though I can't respond directly tothe person who wrote the letter, I can refute what he/she said & hopefully give anyone reading this some insights on how to answer similar arguements. I will do this over several entries in the next few weeks to keep any 1 from becoming too long to read. & even then I won't even try to put everything into it that I could. There are a couple of excellent websites with in depth info on stem cell research & what is & isn't working. It will also make it easier to find the specific area you may be interested in. (At the bottom of each new entry I will put links to the previous entries.) You also need to understand that with some people no matter how many facts you have to refute what they say they won't budge. "I've got my mind made up, don't confuse me with the facts." & that is what these website present, facts about treatments that are already working, about research using adult & umbilical cord blood stem cells that is offering real hope not might 0r may like fetal/embryonic.
Naturally the 1st problem I have to deal with is the fact that the Des Moines Register cut out half of my letter including the sources to back up my claims I made in the letter. In this case I can deal with that when I respond to part of the comments in the letter. (You can read both my letter as written & as published at the All Submissions link above.) The bigger problem is there is 1 claim that I can't refute as well as I'd like because the writer makes a claim that I can't directly prove the writer knows is true. But I can question if it is true. Here is how I would do it section by section of the letter: (The quotes from the letter written to me will be in italics to enable you to know who said what.)
Gina Schatteman offered more than opinion. She has expert background.
How do you know that she has espert background? Do you know her personally? Have you investigated the University of Iowa Website to see if she works there & her claim is true?
In the case of Dr Schatteman, I did check things out. She has her doctorate in chemistry. She is an associate professor & her area of specialization is exercise & integrative physiology. & yes, she is involved with a study to understand how bone marrow-derived stem cells help repair and maintain blood vessels and the consequences of stem cell dysfunction on vascular physiology. Yet she goes on to say that this type of stem cell "were only recently identified in adults." This raises some questions. She claims she has been working with adult stem cells for more than a decade. There is no evidence of this either way in the info on her page as to how long she has been doing this. & if she has only been involved with this study of the recently discovered bone marrow type then she can't have been doing this for over 10 yrs.
1 focus of the study she is involved in is to "delineate the mechanisms by which diabetes alters stem cell function, and to determine if stem cell dysfunction is in part responsible for severe cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes." She goes on to state: " In support of this hypothesis, we have shown, that treatment with circulating stem cells significantly accelerates the restoration of blood flow to the limbs of diabetic, but not non-diabetic mice suffering from circulatory impairment. Our ultimate goal is to provide a framework whereby clinicians can devise means to manipulate and/or transplant blood or bone marrow stem cells to treat vascular disease in diabetic patients." These facts raise some questions about some of the claims made in Dr. Schatteman's original letter.
Dr. Schatteman said in the letter: "(T)here is nothing that would make me happier than to know that adult stem cells can be the answer to diabetes, . . . Unfortunately, this is not the case. While adult stem cells may be able one day to slow the progression and treat the symptoms of these diseases, it is only embryonic stem cells that truly offer the promise of a cure." If adult stems cells aren't the answer why is she wasting time & money on this research? Wouldn't it be better to work on finding a cure than dealing with the symptoms?
As I said adult stem cells do offer hope. I will go into this in detail in the next entry as it fits in as a part of a response to the next section of the letter I received.
To be continued . . . .

Monday, November 20, 2006

Some thoughts by St. Augustine as we approach Advent

Let us not resist the first advent, and the second will not terrify us
Then all the trees of the forest will exult before the face of the Lord, for he has come, he has come to judge the earth. He has come the first time, and he will come again. At his first coming, his own voice declared in the gospel: Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds. What does he mean by hereafter? Does he not mean that the Lord will come at a future time when all the nations of the earth will be striking their breasts in grief? Previously he came through his preachers, and he filled the whole world. Let us not resist his first coming, so that we may not dread the second.
What then should the Christian do? He ought to use the world, not become its slave. And what does this mean? It means having, as though not having. So says the Apostle: My brethren, the appointed time is short: from now on let those who have wives live as though they had none; and those who mourn as though they were not mourning; and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing; and those who buy as though they had no goods; and those who deal with this world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away. But I wish you to be without anxiety. He who is without anxiety waits without fear until his Lord comes. For what sort of love of Christ is it to fear his coming? Brothers, do we not have to blush for shame? We love him, yet we fear his coming. Are we really certain that we love him? Or do we love our sins more? Therefore let us hate our sins and love him who will exact punishment for them. He will come whether we wish it or not. Do not think that because he is not coming just now, he will not come at all. He will come, you know not when; and provided he finds you prepared, your ignorance of the time of his coming will not be held against you.
All the trees of the forest will exult. He has come the first time, and he will come again to judge the earth; he will find those rejoicing who believed in his first coming, for he has come.
He will judge the world with equity and the peoples in his truth. What are equity and truth? He will gather together with him for the judgement his chosen ones, but the others he will set apart; for he will place some on his right, others on his left. What is more equitable, what more true than that they should not themselves expect mercy from the judge, who themselves were unwilling to show mercy before the judge’s coming. Those, however, who were willing to show mercy will be judged with mercy. For it will be said to those placed on his right: Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom which has been prepared for you from the beginning of the world. And he reckons to their account their works of mercy: For I was hungry and you gave me food to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me drink.
What is imputed to those placed on his left side? That they refused to show mercy. And where will they go? Depart into the everlasting fire. The hearing of this condemnation will cause much wailing. But what has another psalm said? The just man will be held in everlasting remembrance; he will not fear the evil report. What is the evil report? Depart into the everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. Whoever rejoices to hear the good report will not fear the bad. This is equity, this is truth.
Or do you, because you are unjust, expect the judge not to be just? Or because you are a liar, will the truthful one not be true? Rather, if you wish to receive mercy, be merciful before he comes; forgive whatever has been done against you; give of your abundance. Of whose possessions do you give, if not from his? If you were to give of your own, it would be largess; but since you give of his, it is restitution. For what do you have, that you have not received? These are the sacrifices most pleasing to God: mercy, humility, praise, peace, charity. Such as these, then, let us bring and, free from fear, we shall await the coming of the judge who will judge the world in equity and the peoples in his truth.
A commentary of St Augustine on Psalm 95

& the Winner Is?

Here is a new award that had to have a lot of people eligible for it:


Thanks to FaithMouse & esp Dan Lacey.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Casino Royale - The Soundtrack

1 of the major parts of every Bond movie is the score. It helps to set the mood as well as helps the flow of the movie. John Barry set the standard in Dr. No & did most of scores for the movies in the 60s through the 80s. David Arnold took over in Tommorow Never Dies & has done an excellent job of keeping up the standard set by John Barry.
The score for Casino Royale continues to live up to that standard. The music works well in every scene. David Arnold has again lived up to expectations. The title song, You Know My Name, written by Chris Cornell & David Arnold is 1 of the better themes & wisely avoids using Casino Royale as a title.
The soundtrack album deals with a problem of many of the past albums in that it has all the different music used in the movie. In the past the fact that the complete score wasn't included on the album. In the early years part of the problem was the limits of what could be fitted on to a vinyl LP. This wasn't true when the music was released on CDs, yet for various reasons they still didn't put all the music in the album. For Tommorow Never Dies the outcry was so huge that they issued a 2nd CD with the music not on the 1st. & they have begun issuing expanded versions of the early soundtracks on CD. The irony of the Casino Royale soundtrack album is that while having all the score it doesn't contain the title song. That makes absolutely no sense to me. But, I suppose there is a logical reason for it that I haven't heard of yet.
The Bond scores & soundtrack albums have been a reflection of the style of music for the time in which they are written. This is also true of the title songs & singers. Casino Royale's score & soundtrack continue in that tradition. If you haven't seen the movie yet there are some spoiler titles on the track list, so be warned.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Last nite I went to see the latest Bond movie, Casino Royale, with 2 of my friends. This movie has been the subject of controversy by many who felt that Daniel Craig did not deserve to play Bond. Well, I've got some bad news for them, Daniel Craig has taken Bond & made the role his own.
I went into the movie with 2 thoughts; 1) from the previews it looked like Craig would do a good job; 2) I was curious to see how they would take the basic plot from the Ian Fleming novel & update it. I was not disappointed in the least. Nor were my friends.
My short version of my review:
This is the best Bond movie ever made & is now up there with my top 3 favorite Bond movies.
Longer review:
(Note: I will do my best to avoid spoilers & when I come to the discussion of the final part of the film I will do it in a seperate section with a clearly marked spoiler warning.)
Casino Royale is the 3rd film version of the novel. The 1st was an adaptation of the central bacarat contest part of the novel for the CBS anthology Climax in 1954. The 2nd version was a movie made in 1966 that ened up being more of a spoof than a serious Bond movie. The story of how that came about is too long to go into here. The best I can say is both had their strengths & weaknesses. But the fact that these 2 versions were made kept Eon Productions from having the rights to make 1 that was a part of what has come to be known as the official Bond series of movies. That was until the merger of Sony with MGM/UA a few years ago.
When the decision to make Casino Royale was made another decision was made to reboot the series & make this the Bond origin story. That lead to the controversy of the firing of Pierce Brosnan & the hiring of Daniel Craig. Daniel Craig is too blond, he is not handsome enough, etc. Much of this was reminiscent of how they treated George Lazenby while he was filming On Her Majesty's Secret Service (my alltime favorite Bond movie). The blond gripe ignored the fact that Roger Moore was blond & they didn't darken his hair to black. The looks arguement fades when you look at the Ian Fleming description of Bond. In the novel Vesper describes James as looking like Hoagy Carmichael. The picture on the left is 1 of Hoagy Carmichael from Oct 1946 (taken from his official website). The novel also says that she sees him as looking cold & ruthless. & in From Russia with Love, Bond is desribed as having a hint of cruelty & grey-blue eyes. I think that by that standard Daniel Craig can fit the bill as well or better than any of the other actors. As I said above, in my opinion, Daniel Craig has made the role his own. He meets every challenge in the script & suceeds in making Bond believable & comes the closest to Bond as Ian Fleming envisioned him. (Interestingly enough when Timothy Dalton played Bond he came under criticism for trying & suceeding, to play Bond closer to the way Fleming wrote him in the books. & Dalton was in my 2nd favorite Bond movie Licence to Kill. )
Since the novel was written in the early 50s, it has the KGB & Smersh from the Soviet Union as the villians. In 2006 that would clearly not be true. So, the writers had to update the plot. & they did so while keeping the heart of the story.
The movie opens with the usual pre-credits sequence. It this short story we learn of the 2 killings that MI-6 requires of an agent before he (or she I would assume) can become a 00 agent. This sequence was filmed in black & white. It works perfectly to catch the ugly, dark, dirty side of espionage. Again there is some needed updating as the original novel had Bond killing a Japanese cipher clerk breaking British codes in the RCA Building for his 1st kill. The 2nd was killing a Norwegian in Stockholm who was doubling for Germany against the British. The update keeps the double agent & Bond's description of the 1 killing as not as clean. At the end Bond is now 007.
Then we have the gunbarrel sequence that leads into the main title sequence. In this case here was the more appropriate placement of the sequence as up to now Bond wasn't 007. Daniel Kleinman did the main titles to the song "You Know My Name" sung by Chris Cornell. The theme is naturally based on the various suits in a deck of cards. This too is probably 1 of the best title sequences in the series taking it as Daniel Kleinman said in an interview for Digit Magazine "back to basics". "I wanted to simplify the look, give it a harder feel than the hi-tech ultra-glam with which the titles have become identified. Graphic design seemed a good way to go in this direction."
"Martin Campbell (Casino Royale's director) mentioned that he liked the idea of a card motif - and I took that and ran with it as far as possible. One starting point was Ian Fleming's own design for the first edition of Casino Royale, which used the hearts from a playing card. I also remember that a puff of gun smoke stylised into the form of a club symbol came to me early, and I sketched that."
The movie proper, starts out with our introduction to Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). LeChiffre works for an unknown orginization that specializes in helping terrost orginizations get their money to where it is needed as well as to help them invest it until needed. Hopefully we will find out more about this group in future movies. The plot line implies that they will.
Bond is put onto the trail of the orginization while he is investigating 1 of the terrorist orginizations that is a client of LeChiffre's group. At this point in the movie Craig plays Bond as someone who is overconfident in his abilities & who lets his ego get in the way of his good judgement. So much so that M regrets promoting him to 007 status. The 1st half of the movie stes up the 2nd half of the movie which is the part adapted from the novel. This set up is needed for 2 reasons. The 1st so that we can learn who Bond is at this point at his life before he became the top MI-6 agent he was in the previous movies. The 2nd is so that we know what got Bond to Casino Royale & the high stakes Texas Hold-Em tournament.
The movie moves quickly from scene to scene in a way that is logical. There is not a single part of the movie that drags. & except for 2 scenes that stretch things a bit there is nothing in the movie that couldn't happen in real life. This movie held my interest from beginning to end. It had its serious moments as well as its humorous. & unlike often in the previous movies the humor came naturally from the situation. In most of the other movies, esp with Roger Moore, there were times when you felt that Bond was in on the joke & winking at the audience.
The movie has the usual wide variety of exotic locales. They include Madagascar, the Bahamas, Montenegro & Venice. The setting of Casino Royale in Montenegro is esp beautiful. It also has a couple of chase scenes. There are some gadgets, but for the most part they are logical & not futuristic. They don't get in the way of the plot but move it along. 1 aside, by no coincidence the laptops & cell phones are all Sony brands.
Characters & Actors:
Unlike most Bond villians LeChiffre is not a megolmaniac out to take over the world. LeChiffre is excellently portrayed by Mikkelsen as a man who is supremely confident in his talents, whether it is his ability to make money for his clients or his ability to win at cards no matter the odds. He is a totally believable character.
In fact that can be said of every character in the movie. No 1 is larger than life, everyone is a real person.
I've already said a bit about Daniel Craig. I repeat what I said, he makes Bond his own. Whether it is the overconfident neophite spy at the beginning or the more mature wise Bond at the end Daniel Craig plays him in a way that the evolution is totally believable. Bond is no superhero as he has been in most of the other movies. He is the Bond of the novels.
Raymond Benson, in The James Bond Bedside Companion (1984, pg 59) wrote: "It should also be noted that the James Bond character of the novels is quite different from the figure presented on film. The literary Bond is much more realistic; he's a serious individual with very human qualities. (The film version of James Bond is a larger than life superhuman.) 1 of my friends made a similar comment at the end of the movie. He was so impressed by the movie that he said that if they continued in this style he could become a strong fan of them.
M is superbly played by Dame Judi Dench. Here again we see the M of the books (except that the M in the novel was male.) Here M is seen as irrascible at times, short tempered when Bond doesn't do what he should. M's 1st priority is the work of MI-6 & seeing it is done right. She doesn't tollerate misuse of resources or people. This is the best written M in any of the movies.
Vesper Lynd is played by Eva Green. She presents Vesper as a strong woman who knows who she is & what her job is. She is not a woman who is waiting for a man to come & take her away. She is Bond's equal & again more like the women in the novels. There are 2 scenes in which she is at her best. The 1st is when she 1st meets Bond. He isn't too comfortable with dealing with a strong women. Each tries to get the better of the other in a variety of ways in this & some sunsequent scenes. The 2nd is the scene of her reaction after she sees Bond have to kill 2 men who are trying to kill them. At this point she is very vulnerable. She has seen something horrible that she never expected to face. & she has to let somene else help her deal with it, in this case Bond. Craig's portrayal of Bond's response in helping her to deal with it is tender & shows a side of Bond rarely seen.
Mathis is played by Giancarlo Giannini. There is a slight change her from the books. Mathis was a part of the French Secret Service in the novel. Here he is another MI-6 agent. Mathis isn't a large role, but it is key to some of the plot developments & Giannini makes him someone whom you instantly like. Giannini isn't as well known in the USA but is a well established actor in Italy.
Felix Leiter is played by Jeffrey Wright. He isn't given much to do in the movie except for 1 key scene. This is a reduction of his role from the novel. But, I liked him in the role & hope they bring him back. I also hope that the writers go back to the relationship between Bond & Leiter that is seen in the 6 novels in which Leiter appears. In the books they develop a deep & sincere friendship that is based on more than their work. It is also based on several shared interests. The only movie that ever truly caught the friendship as it should be portrayed was in Licence to Kill, but it did come through in a couple of the scenes in Live & Let Die.
The mysterious Mr. White is played by Jesper Christensen. He has only a few short scenes but mostly by his presence he presents someone who is powerful as well as dangerous. He is another member of the same orginization as Le Chiffre. Hopefully, he will be back in future movies.
2 other roles of note are those of Dimitrios played by Simon Abkarian & Solange played by Caterina Murino. They appear in the Bahamas sequence. These as well as the smaller roles are all very well cast.
Overall the movie is well made, well written & well acted. That is not to say that it is perfect. But as my 2 friends & I agreed the few flaws we saw were more of on the level of nitpicking than anything serious.
When we get to the end we know Bond is now Bond, James Bond the star agent for MI-6. & that he is the hero we want him to be. As usual the end credits say James Bond will Return. If this movie is a sign of the direction they are taking I can't wait for the next movie in 2008.
I highly recommend this movie both for Bond fans & non fans. All 3 of us who say the movie give it 4 stars.
From Novel to Screen:
(Warning SPOILERS ahead. Do not read if you haven't seen to movie, read the novel or have read the novel but not seen the movie & don't want to know how they changed things.)
Casino Royale was the 1st Bond Novel written by Ian Fleming. In it we are introduced to a spy named James Bond. The novel is clearly a creature of its time. LeChiffre is an agent of the KGB/The Soviet Union. He is the treasurer of a communist trade union in France. In the movie he becomes a member of a mysterious orginization that helps terrorist orginizations with their finances. This is a logical updating of the plot. In the novel we get a bit more of LeChiffre's background that we don't get in the movie.
In the novel LeChiffre invests union funds in a chain of whore-houses just before the French law is changed outlawing them. What he hoped would be a good investment became a bust & he lost the money & the only hope is to win it back at bacarat. In the movie he takes terrorist money that he is supposed to be put in a safe investment & invests it in an airline stock that he shorts knowing the terrorists are going to attack the airline. When Bond foils the plot the stock goes up instead. So LeChiffre hopes to make the money up at a Texas Hold-Em Tournament.
In the novel Vesper is the assistant of head of S. She is sent to help Bond. In the movie she is from the MI-6 Treasury dept. In the book it turns out her lover is held captive by the Soviets, in the book by LeChiffre's orginization. This is used to turn her into a double agent. In the novel after she falls in love with Bond she quits contacting her control & a manwith an eye patch is sent after her. She eventually commits suicide out of guilt from her betrayal of Bond. In the movie she turns over the money to a man with a pair of glasses with1 lens darkenned. She dies by drowning when Bond figures out what is going on & goes after her & the others taking the money.
Mathis is a French agent helping out Bond, in the movie he is a British agent. The movie plot has him possibly being a double for LeChiffre's orginization. Hopefully this will be cleared up in a future movie in which Mathis is exhonorated. This is 1 of the few plot changes I didn't like.
Felix Leiter is CIA in both novel & movie. In the movie he is 1 of the players instead of an observer as in the book. & they don't give him as big a role. As I said, hopefully this will be corrected in future movies.
In the book when Bond is about to defeat LeChiffre at bacarat 1 of the henchmen threatens to kill Bond if he doesn't quit. Bond spills backwards in his chair disarming the henchman. In the movie a female accomplice of LeChiffre poisons Bond's martini & nearly kills him. He saves himself using a portable AED in his Austin Martin while communicating with MI-6. This is 1 of the few scenes that is unrealistic, esp since Bond just goes right back to the game.
The chase scene is shorter in the movie than in the novel. In the book they use a mat with spikes that blows out the tires of Bond's car. In the movie they put Vesper in the middle of the road.
The torture seen isn't changed to much. In both Bond is strapped nude into a cane chair with the bottom removed. In the novel LeChiffre uses a carpet beater, in the movie a thickly knotted rope. The scene is much shorter in the movie but definitely made all the men squirm. Smersh kills LeChiffre in the novel, agents of the terrorist group in the movie.
Clearly 1 of the biggest changes besides the card game played is the locale of Casino Royale. In the novel it is at Royale le Eaux in NE France. In the movie it is in Montenegro.
For the most part the changes made for the movie work very well. They were made mainly because of the need to update the plot & make it applicable for today. The script writers are to be applauded for their efforts.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sir Reg Shows his Hypocricy

I'm sure by now almost everyone has heard the rant by Sir Elton John about how religion should be banned. ( FoxNews: Elton John: Religion Promotes 'Hatred and Spite' Against Gays) Yet, he has no qualms about putting out an album of Christmas music done by various artists entitled Elton John's Christmas Party. Naturally it is a selection of seasonal songs that are totally devoid of any religious conotation. (Step into Christmas, Feliz Navidad, The Man with All the Toys, Jingle Bell Rock, Run Rudolph Run, Christmas Island etc)
What gets me is doesn't he realize that without organized religion & Christianity in particular he would never be able to put out an album like that in the 1st place?
Note: I am a big fan of his music. But there are times like this when I wish he would just stop sticking his foot in his mouth & sing. Another good example of this is an interview he did in Aug 2006, In it he said that "he'd like American bands to adopt the cutting-edge, glam-rock style made popular by his peers." "It's been a thing the British have always been very good at, with Bowie, myself, T.Rex, the Who, Queen. ... We all embraced that side of it." (FoxNews Elton John: American Bands Need Fashion Sense). This from a guy who in the 70s was known to wear sequinned outfits & glasses that would make Liberace green with envy & dress up onstage as Donald Duck? But, according to that same article he justifies what he did back then. "John says his theatrical style, made famous in his '70s heyday, was meant "to give people a bit of fun" while he sat at the piano for long sets." Sir Reg, you can't have it both ways, quite trying.
Michael Medved, in a column for entitled The "tolerant" Sir Elton wants to ban religion brings out another level of Sir Reg's hypocricy. He is complaining about gays not being tolerated & saying the solution is intolerence toward organized religion. What's wrong with this picture?
In the column he shows the difference between how Christianity really treats gays & Elton's attitude: "Despite that “hatred and spite,” religious leaders actually express more tolerance to homosexuality (and non-believers) than Sir Elton expresses toward organized faith. Imagine the indignation if a religious leader suggested that we need to “ban homosexuality completely” --- or urged an outright prohibition on atheism? It’s true that many believing Christians want to persuade gays to overcome their same-sex urges, or try to get non-believers to replace their doubt with faith, but no factions in the varied array of conservative religious groups has called for “banning” ideas with which they disagree."
Later he goes on to point out: "Secularists are less willing to accept the ideas of believers (ideas they regularly deride as dangerous, deluded, dumb) because they worry (appropriately) that they are losing the international debate. A point of view confident of its own arguments wouldn’t make the case for “bans” or “suppression” --as Sir Elton John did so fatuously in his recent interview. "
& has Sir Elton experienced any of this hatred himself? "At the conclusion of the conversation, he all but concedes that the “hatred and spite” he imputes to organized religion never really applied to him or interfered with his personal pursuit of happiness. 'I don’t know what it is with me,' he sighed. 'People treat me very reverently. It was the same when Dave and I had our civil union – I was expecting the odd flour bomb and there wasn’t. Dave and I as a couple seem to be the acceptable face of gayness, and that’s great.' "
I agree with Michael Medved's suggestion for Sir Elton: "It might also be “great” if Sir Elton and other committed secular leftists adopted the same respectful attitude of live-and-let live toward religious believers (those “hateful lemmings”) that most of the faithful so readily accord to them. "
My take on why Sir Reg ranted against organized religion is that it is more that he is aware that his gay lifestyle is wrong & sinful than the damage that some people did in the name of religion to gays. There are those who have wrongfully done hateful things to gays in the name of God. Instead they should have done as Jesus would loving them while still challenging them to repent & turn away from thier sinful lifestyles. Elton you need to quite looking at a few faulty messengers & look at the message. God loves you. He wants you to turn from your lifestyle that goes against His will & repent. Turn to Him.

Still Another Stem Cell Break Through Most of the MSM will Ignore.

Today I heard an announcement of another breakthrough using adult stem cells that looks like it help those suffering from Muscular Distrophy. Before I get to the announcement I want to explain how I heard of it. 1st of all it wasn't through the (so-called) Main Stream Media (MSM). How I heard about it was listenning to the Rush Limbaugh Show with guest host Roger Hedgecock. He was talking about a story that was reported in The Seattle Times entitled Stem-cell injections helped dogs with muscular dystrophy.
The report was written by By Malcolm Ritter of The Associated Press (AP). In it he describes a study that was published online by the journal Nature. This study was funded in part by The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).
The study was done at the Stem Cell Research Institute at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute of Milan, Italy under the leadership of Giulio Cossu. The study focused on Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It is the most common form of the disease. they used a group of golden retrievers who had a canine form of the disease similar to Duchenne. According to the article: "Two dogs that were severely disabled by the disease were able to walk faster and even jump after the treatments."
The article goes on to say: "Researchers used stem cells taken from the affected dogs or other dogs, rather than from embryos. For human use, the idea of using such "adult" stem cells from humans would avoid the controversial method of destroying human embryos to obtain stem cells."
MDA also announced the success of the study & its results in a news release on its website. What is interesting is that unlike the Seattle Times/AP report, their news release carefully avoids using the term adult stem cells. But it had to admit that the special stem cells called "mesoangioblasts" come from living donors. While it is good to see MDA supporting adult stem cell research it also supports embryonic stem cell research. It knows how controversial that is & thus the word games to avoid differentiation in their news release. Hopefully they will soon realize that instead of pouring money into embryonic stem cell research that is not only immoral, but has had no success, they will put it all into adult stem cell research that has proven itself successful time after time & creates no moral & ethical problems.
The MDA report describes the proceedure used. "Thirteen dogs, divided into three groups, received either cells from healthy donors, their own cells that had been corrected to have the protein missing in DMD or no cells at all. The dogs that received cells from healthy donors responded the best, with one of that group walking well at 13 months (most dogs with the disease have difficulty walking by eight months of age and die at about one year). . . .
The dogs in this project were injected from three to five times with 50 million cells at one-month intervals. The cells were injected into the arterial system of a limb. Some of the animals were also treated with drugs to suppress the immune system.

Results were documented biologically and through at least two measures of muscle function. There was no evidence of immune response in any of the dogs."
“It’s not clear how long it will take to move this promising work to the clinic, but we’re cautiously optimistic,” said Valerie Cwik, MDA medical director and vice president of research. “The fact that the protein was effectively delivered to several muscles, rather than just one muscle at a time, is very significant.”
The AP article reports that Giulio Cossu said that "he hopes to start a small experiment in children in the next year or two." It also says: "The best results appeared when the cells were taken from healthy dogs. But Cossu said scientists should pursue the possibility of genetically manipulating a patient's own cells. That way, patients wouldn't have to undergo lifelong treatment to avoid rejection of donated cells."
Did you notice that last line. It gives another arguement in favor of adult stem cell research. These treatments can often be done using the person's own cells, giving it the additional advantage of avoiding the problem of rejection found when using someone else's cells as well as avoiding the moral problems inherant in cloning.
This is good news. & the fact that it was done by Italiano scientists feeds the pride I have in my Italian heritage. Congratulations to my paisani. & I point out again, it shows the successes & advantages to using adult stem cells.


Reason 56 I am Glad I No Longer Work in Retail (& I Thought the Cabbage Patch Doll Fad was Pazzo*!!!!!)

Tonite I was out shopping at Target. In front of the store were several tents & about 15 people. They were there for a reason. They were camping out so that when it goes on sale Friday morning they will be able to get the must have present of the year, PlayStation 3. Now, I'm not faulting capitalism, I support it. But, this shows me how much more spoiled a lot of children are today than 20 yrs ago when I worked at Zayre.
Back then the big thing was Cabbage Patch Dolls. Yes, they were cute & popular. But, I don't ever remeber parents camping out to get their children (or often themselves) 1. I will admit that they would gather early on Sunday morning if they were advertised. & if we got a shipment in during the week then the pay phone would get a lot of use as people would call friends to tell them to get out there. (Another change today, with cell phones, no lines at the phone & no wondering if the friend would be home.)
Video games are not a bad thing. They can be entertaining & educational, in their place. But what does it say about our priorities when we will stay out all nite in 20 degree F weather to buy something that will soon go down in price rather than invest the time with the kids & use some of the money to help those less fortunate? What is even worse than that is that there are those out there who will get 1 & put it on sale on E-Bay & make a fortune so someone else can keep their child from throwing a temper tantrum.
Captialism is good. the Catholic Church approves of it as the best means for the improvement of society. But within limits As it says in paragraph 334 of The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: "The economy has as its object the development of wealth and its progressive increase, not only in quantity but also in quality; this is morally correct if it is directed to man's overall development in solidarity and to that of the society in which people live and work. Development, in fact, cannot be reduced to a mere process of accumulating goods and services. On the contrary, accumulation by itself, even were it for the common good, is not a sufficient condition for bringing about authentic human happiness. In this sense, the Church's social Magisterium warns against the treachery hidden within a development that is only quantitative, for the “excessive availability of every kind of material goods for the benefit of certain social groups, easily makes people slaves of ‘possession' and of immediate gratification ... This is the so-called civilization of ‘consumption' or ‘consumerism' “.
In so far as making PlayStations creates good jobs & helps the creation & spread of wealth, it is OK for them to be made. It is OK for them to be sold & for consumers to buy them. But when it reaches the point where people camp out all nite then I think it has definitely crossed into making "people slaves of ‘possession' and of immediate gratification" that the Church warns against.
Again, before any of you get mad, I am not against Sony making & selling PlayStations. The Church recognizes their right to do so. I worked in retail, it was things like this that kept me working by making the store I worked at profitable so it would stay open. Things like PlayStaion have their place, if they are kept in the proper perspective. Camping out all nite to get 1, scalping 1 on E-Bay & the like, is neither.
* crazy

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

On Mon, 13 Nov, the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of Mother Frances Xaxier Cabrini. She was the 1st US citizen to be declared a saint. Her story is 1 of willingness to serve God no matter the cost. In Mother Cabrini's case this meant leaving her homeland of Italy & coming to the USA to ensure that Italian immigrants had their spiritual as well as physical needs. Because of her work with immigrants she is now the patron of immigrants.
Mother Cabrini was born Maria Francesca Cabrini in 1850 at Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, Lombardy, IT. Ill health prevented her from becoming a nun at age 18 as she wished. so she cared for her parents. Eventually, she began teaching at a girls school. In 1880 she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. In 1887 she met with Pope Leo XIII. He talked to her about the great need facing the Italian immigrants in the USA, Obeying the call of Christ through the successor of Peter she arrived in New York with 6 sisters on 23 March 1889. Initially Archbishop Corrigan was less than welcoming. But that changed & she began he work in Little Italy. Soon here work took her accross the United States founding schools, hospitals & orphanages. Her work eventually took her not only accross the USA but back to Europe & S America. She established a total of 67 institutions.
In 1909 in Seattle, WA she became an American citizen. She died in Chicago, IL on 22 December 1917 from malaria. She is intered in the Chapel of Mother Cabrini High School, 701 Ft. Washington Ave, New York, NY. This has become a place of pilgramage for those who have a devotion to this great saint. There is also a Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, CO. She was beatified 13 November 1938 & was declared a saint by Venerable Pope Pius XII on 7 July 1946.
Mother Cabrini's philosophy is summed up in this quote: "We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success; nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone. "
Pope Pius XII said the following in his homily at the canonization mass about her:

"Inspired by the grace of God, we join the saints in honouring the holy virgin Frances Xavier Cabrini. She was a humble woman who became outstanding not because she was famous, or rich or powerful, but because she lived a virtuous life. From the tender years of her youth, she kept her innocence as white as a lily and preserved it carefully with the thorns of penitence; as the years progressed, she was moved by a certain instinct and a supernatural zeal to dedicate her whole life to the service and greater glory of God.
She welcomed delinquent youths into safe homes and taught them to live upright and holy lives. She consoled those who were in prison and recalled to them the hope of eternal life. She encouraged prisoners to reform themselves and to live honest lives.
She comforted the sick and the infirm in the hospitals and diligently cared for them. She extended a friendly and helping hand especially to immigrants and offered them necessary shelter and relief, for having left their homeland behind, they were wandering about in a foreign land with no place to turn for help. Because of their condition she saw that they were in danger of deserting the practice of Christian virtues and their Catholic faith.
Where did she acquire all that strength and the inexhaustible energy by which she was able to perform so many good works and to surmount so many difficulties involving material things, travel and men?
Undoubtedly she accomplished all this through the faith which was always so vibrant and alive in her heart; through the divine love which burned within her; and, finally, through constant prayer by which she was so closely united with God from whom she humbly asked and obtained whatever her human weakness could not obtain.
In the face of the endless cares and anxieties of life, she never let anything turn her aside from striving and aiming to please God and to work for his glory for which nothing, aided by God’s grace, seemed too laborious, or difficult, or beyond human strength." Headlines

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Get this widget!
Visit the Widget Gallery