Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I'll spare you the details...

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but, I'm at the point now with my pushups that I'm doing 200 every other day. I do fifty straight, then work my way up to one hundred in tens and fives, without ever taking my hands or feet of the floor (though I can raise or lower my hips to stretch my pecs). Then I stand up and cool off a little while. Then it's time for another 40 straight, followed by alternating sets of decline and incline pushups (though my declines are more like semi-handstand pushups, wherein I bend at the waist, basically like an A without a cross-bar). The idea is, of course, to train the whole pectoral/triceps muscle area, not simply concentrate on the particular muscles for doing-lots-of-pushups. All of this takes me 13-15 minutes.

My buddy, Craig, who's joined me in this escapade, said the hardest thing about it, "besides the searing pain" (haha!), is the time spent. I told a few days ago 200 would probably take me ten minutes, whereupon he asked, "What are they feeding you over there?" Monday night, I timed myself and it turned out 200 took me about 15 minutes. Tonight, I told him this, and then 20 minutes later, I emailed him again that I had just done 200 in 14 minutes. He replied: "You frighten me." Eh, it's a living. Ultimately, the goal is to do 200 pushups straight. From there, I hope to do at least a hundred semi-handstands within that set. And then, like cresting Everest, I aim to do multiple handstand pushups.

In less somatic news, I've taken up reading Butler's Lives of the Saints! Since becoming a Catholic, as the name "Butler" kept brushing my ears, it's become a desire of mine to learn more. Well, due to a sudden windfall of books, I have all four volumes on my bookshelves! Each day features a handful of saints, sometimes at great length, sometimes very briefly. It's an annual reading plan. I began May 22 and hope to keep going all the way till next May 21. It may be a project I undertake every year or every few years. I just love portioned reading programs.

Indeed, not only am I wading through Butler's Saints, but I also came across two handy booklets: a daily Catholic Bible reading plan (1-, 2- or 3-year plans) and a guide for reading the Catechism throughout the liturgical year. These things are probably on the Net somewhere, but I love having them in my bag wherever I go. Between these three august undertakings and slogging (pleasurably, make no mistake!) George Weigel's biography of dear John Paul II, I wonder how I could read anything else.

Tomorrow is Ascension Thursday. I hope to go to Mass (oh, it's so early) and then afterward to start day 1 at my neeeeewww job! That's right, it's all but signed and sealed that I'll be working at All People Publishing, beginning full time July 17. I'll be an editor, writer and recorded voice for their English magazine (GEPT preparation). It's so liberating at work right now to know the squabbles and "history" I face at Viator are not my destiny. I am free to go and I shall move on. The melodrama and navel-gazing that once churned up my ulcer now only wins a peaceful, knowing smile from me. One more month. Just one more month. (I love my students and will always miss them; but teaching is, sadly, only, perhaps, 50% student time, the rest being office and ego-clash time.)

I have been tired lately, mainly because I've been so busy. (But, I'm convinced, because of my fitness regimen and new "caveman diet" (based largely on this program i.a.), I have not been ill. Praise God!) For example, we (ie., I and some Christian friends) did an evangelism outreach this week for the debut of The Da Vinci Code. I have chosen not to see the movie, not only because that's paying yet more money for asinine blasphemy, but also because I hear it's quite a stinker (how many of the high viewer reviews are dogged DVC fan boys, I wonder?). We did some spiritual surveys, asking people if they'd seen the movie or read the book, why, what they thought, "where they were" spiritually, and then presenting the gospel based on a two-sided "puzzle themed" tract (that, uh, I designed) with additional resources (in English and Chinese) for people to learn more. It was a great time; great to interact with people, great to tell so many of Jesus as life's missing piece!

Finally, it wouldn't be a proper update if I dind't mention the fact that next Thursday evening, at Providence University, I'll be getting confirmed. The Sacrament of Confirmation (as the name suggests), is a strengthening (a con-firming) of the supernatural endowments granted us at once in baptism. It is the sacramental step in which we rise from the waters of baptism as disciples and new heirs, and more radically enter the fray of living, proclaiming and defending the Faith as prophets and princes. Biblically, it is the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" wrought by the laying on of hands (ie., the bishop's). Accordingly, I have been focused on God the Holy Spirit for several weeks now and hope to meet this sacrament during a ten-day devotion to Him, which I will begin tomorrow.

I could mention other plans and goings-on, but enough is enough for now. Good night!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Another stupid challenge

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Some kids filled their high school days with booze, sex and general dissipation. I, by contrast, spent my time with food, sports, church and very specific dissipation. For example, once before a race at a regatta (I did crew), my friend Isaac and I decided to eat as many orange halves as we could... but in a particular way. Bite down lightly on the fruit at the peel line, press the fruit hard against our teeth and then suck all the juice out until we had no more breath. Then repeat. Meanwhile, by the way, we were sitting atop a boat trailer, legs a'dangling and orange juice a'dripping. I don't remember who won that contest, but I do think we won the race.

Then there was the time Isaac and I had a water drinking contest. Glass after glass after glass of water from his fridge, and one hour later, until we were writhing and squealing and laughing in his garage. (The pain of laughing at each other in pain made for a nasty little spiral effect.) A year later, this time with precisely measured refills, and two more classmates to join us, we did it again. Bharat made it to a 1/4 gallon (2 lbs.) before stopping. Matt made it to half a gallon before vomiting in the tolet and emerging with what I can only describe as a beatific mien. Isaac and I, the true Hydrolympians, made it to one full gallon of water in about 45 minutes. In both events, our final and just reward was spending the whole night either standing over the toilet to percolate, or walking back and forth from it, or thinking about it between vain attempts at sleep. Hurrah to youth well spent!

Then there was the time I, Matt and Isaac planned to do 200 pushups a night. Not non-stop; but we had to keep our hands and feet on the floor. Eventually we made it doing 100 straight and then fighting our way up in decreasing bursts.

And then we graduated and 8 years passed. I find my self in Taiwan. Isaac is in Florida studying agronomy. Matt is in the same state working. Craig (who was our stroke my junior and senior year of crew, and every bit a part of our fitness mania) is in Vermont getting a PhD in biology. For the past few months, I've been getting back into fitness via a number of martial arts, self-defense materials and nutrition books. But how about the other guys?

And then it hit me.

We form a pact again.

The goal: be doing 200 hundred pushups a day (or night) by June 1. (CORRECTION: This is the primary goal, but along with it I aim to be doing three sets of 20 solid, technically sound pull-ups -- not chin-ups! -- by the same time.)

So far I've only heard from Craig: "If ever there was a need for an intervention for Elliot, now is the time. ... I'm in."

Amen.

I've decided to keep y'all posted on this little mania, not only because such enhances one's "theletic stamina", but also because, shoot, it might be fun for you to watch.

I came upon the idea last Saturday night over dinner, being nostalgic of course, and within hours I had sent the emails. That very night I did 100 pushups, albeit only 50 straight, followed by a series of, as I say, decreasing bursts. Sunday was the Lord's Day, so I took a rest. Monday I did another 100, this time only doing 40 straight and then fighting my way all the way up. Tuesday I was exhausted and rather inadvertently fell asleep on my floor for a stunning 10 hours of sleep.

Tonight, however, I got back on the horse. 60 straight, followed by 41 more in bursts. Then I went out for a bowl of "fruit ice" (a real Taiwan delight, a large bowl of shaved ice with a heap of fresh fruit and syrup on top), came back home and did 40 more straight.

Once this goal -- which I might add is meant to be a short term pact to maintain a long term practice -- is accomplished, the next target is to use the infamous exercise wheel from standing (not from kneeling) and to do X number of handstand pushups (hard as tungsten, I tell you!). As a sort of water marker, and as a sort of check on any hubristic illusions I may ever dare to entertain, I commit you to the truly awesome Ross Enamait. (Not that this beastly young chap is anything to sneeze at either!)

There is one final twist that makes this little saga more intriguing, for me at least.

A couple weeks ago I was in the shoe store to buy some light, thin shoes for taiji practice. The clerk showed me Nike's specially made gong fu shoes, which I bought. In the same trip, I purchased a gyroscopic wrist exerciser (not this brand, but similar, and much cheaper) and have enjoyed it ever since. Well, that is, until I showed it to my taiji coach.

When he saw it, he seemed nonplussed. "Does this make your wrist use force?" he asked.

"Well, yes," I asked, now on uncertain ground. Is force bad?

"Oh, you can't use this," he replied immediately. "Taiji is all about being relaxed," he continued.

"Oh, I see," I muttered, though I really didn't see. "Well, what about pull-ups?" I asked, mindful of my fitness pact with old friends.

"Oh that you must completely not do," he replied just as promptly. "That kind of exercise makes you too tense, too forceful. In taiji, the looser, the better."

"Uh, right, well what about pushups?" I asked, now putting my throat to the blade.

"No way," he said.

So I've hit an ideological wall. In taiji, force is, allegedly, bad. But in my own fitness interests, force is a necessity. Suffice to say I am politely ignoring my coach's warnings at least until June 1. I'm inclined to see a "higher synthesis" in taiji's dualist Daoist roots. Why not make my fitness regimen the yang to the yin of my taiji? Hurrah to slipshod syncretistic fitness!

Stay tuned.

[May 6 100, May 7 N/A, May 8 100, May 9 N/A, May 10 101 + 40....]

Friday, May 5, 2006

Wow, I suck

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I was at taiji last night and it hit me, "Taiji is the hardest thing I've ever done."

We were practicing the "repulse monkey" sequence (of the short yang form, which I practice) and I was constantly frustrated. Turn your waist, but don't move your head offline from your navel. Bring your hand up back behind you, but don't be stiff; let it swoop up gracefully. At the same time, turn your left palm down. Then, as you return with your right hand, stop it close to your head, meanwhile turning your left palm up in time. Then step back with your left foot. Oh, and don't forget to step with your heel slightly out, so it ends up being straight. Then push your right hand forward and bring your left hand back and down in fluid time. Finally, lock your hips in square, forward, which draws your slightly everted right foot in parallel with your straight rear left foot. Also, make sure your right hand is not too high or low and it not bent too much in to the body, but not extended too far from it either. And then do the same thing, basically twice more, once to the left and then to the right.

And that's just one of about thirty sequences in just the SHORT Yang form.

Shoot me with a harpoon! If I didn't forget to turn my palm down, I forgot to hold my head in line. If I didn't forget to turn my palm up, I forgot to stop at my head. If I didn't forget to stop at my head, I forgot to step back with my heel out. And on and on and on.

Add to all this extremely subtle coordination the need to keep your weight shifted on the correct leg, knees bent, etc. Try holding a repulse monkey for thirty seconds, and then try drilling the steps for it in such a bent-knee position. It's unrelenting, solid isometric work.

"Taiji is the hardest thing I've ever done."

Keep in mind I did rowing for six years in middle- and high-school. And, I'm sure, at the time, I said, "Rowing is the hardest thing I've ever done." And, on balance, it really probably was. Once I step outside my maladroit frustration at practice and look at things "objectively," I realize rowing, with its amazing combination of sheer physical exertion and crucially fine technique, is the most difficult thing I've ever done.

but even so, taiji is the most difficult thing I've ever done in one different key respect: basically, doing it well is all no my own shoulders. In a rowing shell, your decision to "relax" or move poorly is felt immediately by everyone else. The baot suffers if you suck, or if you choose not to apply your training. But in taiji, except for the coach watching youa t times, and then perhaps stepping in to correctyou, doing each move well depends on you alone, as you practice "one on one" with your own body. It's not mentally draining, but it is also not something you can just "fall into," at least as a benginner.

Taiji is hard not primarily because of its isometric demands, or because of its demands for sturdy balance, but because it is so easy to feel, at a moment's notice, just how bad at it you are. It is very Daoist, in this repstct, because it is very humbling.

How well do you know your body? How well can you control your body, whether in motion or in a balanced poise? Taiji will show you. And so far, it's shown me that I am quite out of touch with my body's "gyroscopic"[1] energy. But I shall persist! Incidentally, I've decided to switch to judo once a week and taiji thrice a week, with possible long classes on some Saturdays. I have thirteen more months to study taiji in its heartland. God be with me.

[1] Gyroscopes work, if I'm not mistaken, on the principle of lateral circular momentum (or whatever a real physicist might call it). As a wheel spins, it actually sends energy out to the side. Thus, circular motion creates a lateral vector that keeps a spinning wheel in balance, literally gyrating between its "competing" lateral spin and its median energy. In your body, though there are no real gyroscopes, there is tendency for muscles to divert away from resistance. So, for example, when you balance back on one knee with the other leg planted forward, your rear leg muscles tend to drift inward or outward to reduce the median "spin" being applied to your leg. The muscular spin is created by the tension between gravity and your leg's resistance. I love kinesiology.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

I didn't film it...

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like this guy did, but I just thought I'd let you know I have been growing a fat beard since January 3.

Every month I become a new political philosopher! Alas, I'm probably about a year away from reaching Marxist heights and years away from Darwinian or Tolstoyan grandeur! But Socrates is in reach. All in time, heh heh.

(In truth, it is not merely an aesthetic thing - is anything? - but is a sort of sacramental I, as a Catholic, "wear" to keep me mindful of my union, and hopes for reunion, with Eastern Orthodoxy and Judaism.)

Hip hoppin to the Lord?

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Mark Shea reported the Episcopalians have thrown one more tidbit into the let's-warp-traditional-liturgy-real-good pot: hip hop masses!

Philosophically speaking, I am curious how a rejection of such hip hop masses would not also entail a rejection of masses in the vernacular. Vernacular is the "lived language" of a people group; and in some cases, unless we simply reject their claims about it, hip hop is the lived language of some groups of people. I can't imagine pinpointing a "standard vernacular English" for all of the English speaking world. (After all, I assure you as an ESL teacher in Taiwan, the most common English in the world, the true vernacular, is English poorly spoken!) And so, as long hip hop falls in the limits of mutual intelligibility with a native English speaker, it's just a dialect of the vernacular.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not actually endorsing such liturgy. I have my own thoughts about its illicit nature (e.g., various bodily and vocal behavior associated with "speaking" hip hop, the greater influence of the whole to the part for setting litrugical rubrics, etc.). But, again, on reasoned grounds, what makes a vernacular Mass more valid than a hip hop mass?

All in all, such shenanigans do make me look fondly to the FSSP. Oddly enough, next Sunday is a major prayer day for vocations.....!

Simplicity is divine

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[Posted this over at Pontifications. Looks to be a good thread. Have a looksee. Sts. Cyril and Methodius, pray for us! Ut unum sint!]

Likely to the relief of many, I have refrained for many months from making comments on issues as intricate as ADS, Palamism, etc. But I would like to express a thought that has nagged me almost from the instant I read/grasped (to name names) Perry/Photios' argument against ADS (call it PADS). Michael S's argument here (esp #12 and 13) triggered my memory enough to comment. As far as I can tell, PADS is so appealing to its promulgators because (no pun intended) it is so simple. The three crucial premises in it are, by my lights:

1) God is defined in Western theology as absolutely simple;
2) as such, His so to speak "attributes" (omniscience, volition, infinite and self-caused existence, goodness, etc.) are absolutely identical (since non-identity of any of them would "fracture" God's ADS into complexity);
2a) given that God's attributes are equally absolutely simple, then they also possess an equal measure of predicative necessity (ie., they are all equally and absolutely necessary)
3) because, for example, God's will to create is just as absolutely simple as/identical with His self-existence (or any other attribute), then His will to create is also just as necessary as His will to self-exist, omni-know, etc.
4) such necessity excludes freedom,
5) ergo, God as understood by ADS is not free, but a necessarily determined (even if self-determined "subject") of his own absolutely simple divine nature
5a) creation is therefore a necessary "emanation" of God and not really distinct from Him
6) such necessity cum pantheism is heretical according to orthodox Christianity

In other words, because all of God is all absolutely simple and necessary, so his decision to create is necessary, unfree – and this is a profoundly unorthodox claim. If memory serves, in a loooong reply to the Pontificator (when he argued against the necessity of the PADS construal of ADS as de fide for the Catholic Church), Perry pretty much boiled PADS down to a three line syllogism and asked if anyone could find the flaws in it.

But the problem I've always sensed (which is not to say understood!) with PADS is how it (paradoxically) both proves too much and doesn't claim enough. Maybe that's the wrong way to say it but my point is just this: if PADS claims all of God's ideas, as well as his will, are absolutely simply reducible/identical to his essence, then it must claim ALL of God's ideas are as necessarily realized as the actual creation.

Ie., if PADS is right and God necessarily creates "the Creation" (with all its many creatures, beings, etc.) then he also must of the same necessity actualize every idea known to him. The reason "the Creation" came to be, after all, is because the contents (rationes) within it were necessarily known to God and, based on ADS, necessarily known to exist (since there could be no complex bifurcation in God's knowledge of rationes and his will to created them).

It seems pointless to object, if any one would, that the ADS God actualizes what he knows are "actual" rationes but doesn't create what he knows are merely possibiliae. The whole thrust of PADS, after all, is to deny any such gap between what God knows and what God wills (and in turn creates). If PADS insists God MUST create what He knows (which we call created reality), then it should continue to say the ADS God in fact creates all known things. Hence, PADS seems to end up proving both that God, necessarily, knows all things, and necessarily so, and that, necessarily, he creates all things he knows, and necessarily so. At which point the PADS promulgators may say, "Well that's right – that's why we reject ADS!"

But certainly they can't imagine the Catholic Church has "unwittingly" taught for centuries and centuries a doctrine that so plainly teaches the actual created existence of all possible things. Clearly a doctrine that leads to such bizarre claims (ie,. Necessarily, God necessarily creates all things he knows, since his knowledge of all things is absolutely simply identical to his will to create them) can't be what the Church teaches about (or "means by") ADS.

Apropos the Ponty's demurral of PADS's power against the Catholic Church, he has time and again made the point that simply because PADS's construal of ADS shows such heretical consequences CANNOT be what the Church teaches, since things as basic as the creative freedom of God, the creator-creature distinction (ie, contra pantheism, contra panentheism, contra radical Plotinian emanationism, etc.) have never been taught or tolerated by the Church. In other words, even if PADS were valid, its consequences ipso facto entail its construal of ADS is not the Church's teaching. (Whatever that exact known-only-God teaching may in fact be, however, is a point for future generations to behold.) But Perry retorts the mere denial of a valid inference from ADS is not a denial or defense of ADS. It's damage control.

But I agree with the Pontificator to disagree with Perry. Orthodoxy is an organic "reasoned" (Rom 12:2) proclamation of the Gospel in its many dimensions. No dogma stands alone. Each is a check on the other. In which case I think it is perfectly valid for the Church and us Catholics to deny ADS means what PADS says it "must mean" precisely because contravening dogmas of the Church militate against such an understanding, the zeal and acumen of PADS's advocates notwithstanding. Specifically, the dogmas of God's creative freedom and his singular ontic "absolute transcendence" automatically and in themselves, as de fide dogmas of the Church, countermand the implications of PADS.

Pardon a perhaps confusing analogy, but:

It's like a patient telling his doctor he gets terrible pain when he bends his wrist a certain way. Unfortunately, however, the patient can't describe the angle or action that produces pain, so the doctor must have a hands-on diagnostic look. When the doctor bends and palpates the wrist and hand to find the trouble, he realizes certain positions of hand and wrist are simply impossible given the surrounding tendon and bone structures. It can't go ninety degrees right, since the wrist bone and arm bones prevent that. It can't go 120 degrees back since etc. Whatever pain the patient reports must lie from some other peculiar hand motion.

Likewise we have PADS people telling us the West has terrible pain (and in fact the west feels the same in many cases!) from a certain strange hand motion (ADS). But the doctor (the faithful and Magisterium in the Holy Spirit) realize the bend PADS insists ADS makes on the Church's teaching CAN'T be right, since the surrounding "dogmatic anatomy" simply and totally prevents such a move. PADS people may be right to say, "Physician heal thyself," but they can't blame anyone for refusing to allow a treatment that violates other key structures/anatomy.

Finally, more than a year ago, I pretty much stated my peace about Palamism, until I gained more insight and wisdom, on my blog. Allow me to quote (with some emendations) what I think are the crucial passages from that entry:

What's necessary for the Thomist goose [i.e., creation – EBB] is necessary for the Palamite gander [ie., the energetic divinity of God -- EBB]. The energies seem to me just as necessary in Palamism as creation allegedly is in Thomism. Certainly, creation is not God Himself in the way the energies are described to be God Himself. Nonetheless, one of the key points about the energies is that they are necessary to God's being. God is not God without them. [Let me now add also that I do understand, thanks to a reply Photios made to me on his blog, that "the energies *are* God", so they are also "not God" without God, ie., without his essence. But this is just my point: because the energies are God, and vice versa, they are so *necessarily*. --EBB] Further, they allegedly free God from any (Thomistic) necessity based on His [absolutely simple – EBB] essence. On account of his "enhypostatic" energies, God is not bound by His own essence but can *freely* extend Himself in creation and in man. The Palamite claim is that Thomism forces God to create (or to redeem) since His action and will [necessarily -- EBB] co-inhere in one absolutely simple essence.[2]

The fundamental problem for Palamism is that the energies are, like creation and redemption, inherently exterior acts of God -- they are "God for us" -- yet they also derive directly [and necessarily – EBB] from God’s pure [and simple -- EBB] essence. How then, after all, are they and their effects so free from the necessity of essence? Indeed, I’ve had a leading proponent of Palamism admit this is a huge bugbear of a problem, so decisive in fact that he says it would discredit all of Christian theology.


If PADS people can say God freely self-exists in his energies, but that these are necessarily "coterminous" with his essence as divinity, then clearly the Thomist can say creation is just as free a manifestation of God's will, even though that will is absolutely simply indistinct from his essence.

Not surprisingly, the "leading proponent" of Palamism was Perry; sometime later Jonathan Prejean similarly objected in an email that my objection also proved too much, since it was "a denial of God's freedom". But again, that just was and is my point! In effect, I was being told I couldn't say the energies entailed what I said they did, since that would deny the freedom of God, which is an outright heresy. How ironic: PADS people can say my reductio ad absurdum to essential energetic necessity in Palamism is "off limits" since God's freedom is a non-negotiable -- but we Catholics can't make the same rebuttal about ADS. The paradox is that PADS may be right about ADS (in its own syllogistic confines)… but this just proves PADS is actually wrong about ADS (in the ambit of Catholic truth)! If Perry or any energies-essence Christian can say my construal of the Palamite problem is unacceptable on automatically contravening dogmatic grounds, then any Thomist, or in this case, Scotist, can say just the same.

I haven't meant for this long post to be a self-made soapbox. I come full circle by saying Michael S's argument seems to help dissolve the illusory "impossibility" of ADS. I thank him for this fine contribution. (It's very refreshing to read thought philosophy, ie., philosophy not "supported" by scholars etc. but doing its own thing in the splendor of truth. Straight from his "own head" to ours.)

PS. It may sound like a cheap shot but I am genuinely looking for a lead as I explore the Fathers: Exodus 3 provides one of the cornerstones for the doctrine of God when he says "I AM WHO [or THAT] I AM". Since this is undeniably a use of an ontic verb – "to be" – how do the Fathers get around it by saying God is beyond being, and in fact without being? If God himself says, "I AM" (just as Jesus does in John 8), then what sense does it make to say the truth about God is that he "is" not. If God says, in other words, "I BE," how can one say he cannot "be" since he does not partake of "being"? By analogy, if God said, "I AM WHO HE WHO ACTS", how could we begin to say God is "beyond action"? Where should I go to find more…? The point of the Q is not to "mock" the Fathers as if they were idiots, but to seek guidance AND to suggest the outright incompatibility of Exodus 3 with the prima facie meaning of God's hyperousios must goad us to seek a better understanding (just like the absurd consequences of PADS and my objections to Palamism demand a different understanding in line with the fullness of the faith).

Monday, May 1, 2006

The basic arc

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For those with an eye for trends, the basic arc of my blog has been, quite evidently, a steady decline of ASCII into an ever larger sea of life offline. For those with an eye for the little things, it is evident not only that I have been keeping my reading list (on the sidebar) up to date, but also that I have been doing enough reading that it needs frequent updating. For the past few months my life has been divided between some overlapping priorities, such that blogging has simply (and perhaps for the first time in years) taken a back seat. Lent, Easter, preparing for confirmation, trying hard to finish a history of Providence University (with Fr. Ramon, for PU's 50th anniversary), dealing with work, looking for a new job, exercising a great deal more (daily, in fact), communicating more with family, drafting a few stories and screenplays I hope to develop... even praying at times! It's amazing how trivial a blog can be when you devote proper attention to the "good things" in life. (Speaking of my story and screenplay ideas, it's refreshing to return to "private" creativity, in contrast to the instant high blogging provides. Instant instant self-publication plus instant and certain audience reception makes for serious "creative exhibitionism." It was nice, for example, a few weeks ago, just to spend thirty minutes writing in a yellow legal pad, knowing I alone saw the notes.)

It's not that I'm bitter about blogging -- honestly, I recognize how fine a discipline it is to write daily, and I also recognize how positive my blog can effect some people (or so they've told me). But for the time being, I am confident that if I can endure the self-denial of Lent and find renewed energy and devotion to God in Easter, then my little blog can abide a certain "death to self" in the hope of eventual resurrection.

Make no mistake, I still have essays/series-articles "on deck"; there have been thoughts I would like to "pass along." But for now, I am genuinely enjoying the leisure of not doting on my blog. Elliam seems to be holding things up nicely, besides.

Cheers until next time.