Friday, January 30, 2009

ODDS AND ENDS(3) – Jan’09

Palparan repute perfect for drugs board

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said he had no problem with the controversial soldier, also known as “the butcher” in militant circles, joining the Dangerous Drugs Board.

“The problem is that his reputation precedes him. Before he could even get started, he had already been painted as a devil,” Gonzalez said at the sidelines of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats executive committee meeting here. “But that kind of reputation may be good for this campaign against drugs.”

In short, the Justice Secretary says the devil may be good for public service.
Sigh.
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Fake Fil-Am tourist nabbed for fraud

MANILA, Philippines – From Beverly Hills to Capas, Tarlac.
A 24-year-old man who had introduced himself as a Filipino-American tourist from Beverly Hills and a Harvard law student was placed under arrest Wednesday after the police found inconsistencies in his statement.

During interrogation, Nathan Santos Smith – who earlier accused a taxi driver of robbing him of $10,000 in cash and valuables – confessed that his real name was Richard Sangalang and that he was born in Capas, Tarlac.

Following his confession, the police released the taxi driver, Peniquito Gallardo, who said he would file charges against Sangalang.

There was another dead giveaway, the policeman added.
While reporting his “ordeal” to the police on Monday morning, Sangalang, who said he did not speak a word of Tagalog, suddenly said, “Eh kasi …”

He should have added: oops!
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Obama furious over Wall Street bonuses

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama furiously slammed Wall Street titans who took multi-billion dollar bonuses while taxpayers bailed out their industry as "shameful" and guilty of acute "irresponsibility."

Obama, anger rippling his usually calm countenance, said bosses of big finance firms must sacrifice along with other Americans, as the country tries to dig itself out of a deep economic hole.

Meanwhile, thousands upon thousands around the world are losing their jobs, and it's not just in America. Oh, the goofing CEO's still keep their jobs, with hefty bonuses to boot. Obama can get furious all he want, but what's he gonna do about it? Take back the bailout?
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Saint of the Day - Thomas Aquinas

Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not in hand.

Today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Here is an excerpt from Summa Theologica: Question 1: Faith, Article 4.

Whether the object of faith can be something seen?

Objection 1. It would seem that the object of faith is something seen. For Our Lord said to Thomas (John 20:29): "Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed." Therefore vision and faith regard the same object.

Objection 2. Further, the Apostle, while speaking of the knowledge of faith, says (1 Corinthians 13:12): "We see now through a glass in a dark manner." Therefore what is believed is seen.

Objection 3. Further, faith is a spiritual light. Now something is seen under every light. Therefore faith is of things seen.

Objection 4. Further, "Every sense is a kind of sight," as Augustine states (De Verb. Domini, Serm. xxxiii). But faith is of things heard, according to Romans 10:17: "Faith . . . cometh by hearing." Therefore faith is of things seen.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Hebrews 11:1) that "faith is the evidence of things that appear not."

I answer that, Faith implies assent of the intellect to that which is believed. Now the intellect assents to a thing in two ways. First, through being moved to assent by its very object, which is known either by itself (as in the case of first principles, which are held by the habit of understanding), or through something else already known (as in the case of conclusions which are held by the habit of science). Secondly the intellect assents to something, not through being sufficiently moved to this assent by its proper object, but through an act of choice, whereby it turns voluntarily to one side rather than to the other: and if this be accompanied by doubt or fear of the opposite side, there will be opinion, while, if there be certainty and no fear of the other side, there will be faith.

Now those things are said to be seen which, of themselves, move the intellect or the senses to knowledge of them. Wherefore it is evident that neither faith nor opinion can be of things seen either by the senses or by the intellect.

Reply to Objection 1. Thomas "saw one thing, and believed another" [St. Gregory: Hom. xxvi in Evang.]: he saw the Man, and believing Him to be God, he made profession of his faith, saying: "My Lord and my God."

Reply to Objection 2. Those things which come under faith can be considered in two ways. First, in particular; and thus they cannot be seen and believed at the same time, as shown above. Secondly, in general, that is, under the common aspect of credibility; and in this way they are seen by the believer. For he would not believe unless, on the evidence of signs, or of something similar, he saw that they ought to be believed.

Reply to Objection 3. The light of faith makes us see what we believe. For just as, by the habits of the other virtues, man sees what is becoming to him in respect of that habit, so, by the habit of faith, the human mind is directed to assent to such things as are becoming to a right faith, and not to assent to others.

Reply to Objection 4. Hearing is of words signifying what is of faith, but not of the things themselves that are believed; hence it does not follow that these things are seen.
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St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
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Photo credits

Monday, January 26, 2009

ODDS AND ENDS(2) – Jan’09

Arroyo wants 'fiercer' war vs drug lords

"Let us wage a fiercer war against them [big drug lords]...Let’s make sure by building up a good case that they will go all the way to conviction," she said.

Sure. We are already fierce so let's be "fiercer". Now if we can only go after those in authority who cuddle the drug lords, I guess that would be fiercest? PDEA chief says: Politicians part of drugs trade

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Obama signs order reversing abortion-funds policy

President Barack Obama yesterday quietly ended the Bush administration's ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option. 

Uh-oh. More abortions. Change we need?

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Nat’l policy drafted to fight obesity

Walk up the stairs instead of hopping onto elevators. Don’t ride pedicabs and tricycles when traveling short distances. These are among the recommendations of a national policy on physical activity being drafted by a team of experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) to promote a more active lifestyle among Filipinos and combat the increasing obesity in the country.

Just the kind of urgent national policy we need when a recent survey states the Philippines ranks No. 5 in the world when it comes to citizens who have had “little or no food at all”. 

Geez.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

The conversion of Saul

"I am not ashamed of the Gospel"

Feast of the Conversion of St Paul
In Celebration of the 2000th year anniversary of St. Paul
January 25, 2009
Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City Philippines
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A decisive event in the beginning of the Church.

I guess it would be wrong to present Paul as an evil man who finally finds the right path.
Paul from his youth felt the obsession to dedicate himself to the service of God (see Acts 22:3-4; Gal 1:14), that is why he religiously studied the law in the best Rabbinical schools of his day.
The Jews found Saul dependable and dedicated, and entrusted to him the difficult task of eliminating the new and suspicious doctrines of the followers of Christ. We all know what happened on the road to Damascus. It is interesting that the others with Saul on that road saw the light but did not hear the sound (Acts 9:7). I have heard is said that God's intelligibility is too much for the human mind to comprehend, in much the same way that one could not look directly at the sun - one would be blinded. That is what probably happened to Saul on that road. Paul's conversion also tells us that those who sincerely seek the truth will finally see light at the end of the day.

Free to Love

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people." - G.K. Chesterton

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Sunday, January 25, 2009
Mark 1:14-20

When Jesus called the first few disciples, they left their possessions and their families to follow Him, to be "fishers of men". Today as followers of Jesus, we are not exactly called to leave our career and family, but to gain sufficient perspectives to fit all parts of our life to the Christian way. While many parts of scriptures teach us to take our responsibilities to family, livelihood and property seriously, it also tells us that serving others in need is serving God himself, and failing to serve those in need is failing to serve him (Mt 25:31-46).

The call to serve God today may come in many subtle forms and opportunities. They are all around us if we look hard enough. We tend to be very busy and so engrossed with our private concerns but when we venture outside our own little world, around us we will notice the hungry; the imprisoned; the naked; the thirsty; the sick ... "the least of our brethren" that have so much more difficulties than we do. We can probably claim that we are not responsible for their condition and we don't owe them. However the scripture also says, "owe nothing to anyone, except love" (Rom 13:8).

Jesus provides an illustration in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:28-37), where we see a complete stranger going out of his way, providing for the needs of another person in a dangerous place. Today's good Samaritan provides care for the physically and emotionally wounded; looks after the orphan, the homeless; assists the jobless; serves the church or community. It is also a blessing that we have those ordained religious who consecrate their lives to Christ. But today, many of those who respond to the call of Jesus don't have even have to leave their possessions and families behind. They just leave their private comfort zones, and in turn they find comfort in following Jesus. They are never too busy to spend time and resources, for they know that in the first place, everything they have comes from God. Trust God to put order into the lives of those who follow Him, and frees them from everyday worries. As G.K. Chesterton also realized, "it is only by loving and serving God through His Church that perfect freedom may be found".
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Of moral forces

Chief Justice Reynato Puno is not joining the presidential race in 2010 despite being constantly egged on by a growing number of supporters (here and here) enthralled by his call for a "moral force" in government.

In that interview of January 14, the Chief Justice said: "It is very obvious that the main problem of the country is moral decadence. This is the root cause of the density of power, corruption problem"

"You look at it more deeply. You look at it from its various dimensions. That’s why...it’s time for the moral forces of the country to manifest themselves. They should cease to be an invisible force. They should play a dominant role in redirecting the destiny of our people," he added.

What the Chief Justice is actually calling for is moral integrity. While all politicians profess to take a moral stance in governance, it is the integrity in governance that matters. While the words of politicians are subject to intense scrutiny, unfortunately their actions are not. If only our political leaders faithfully stood by their promises of moral governance even half of the time, we wouldn't be talking about moral forces right now. That is why Puno is calling for "the moral forces of this country to manifest themselves [to] play a dominant role in redirecting the destiny of our people."

Suffice to say with this proposition that the so-called moral forces are not manifesting themselves properly, and in this manner even abetting moral decadence. Our democratic institutions are not lacking in the framework of checks and balances that provide ample opportunity for moral forces to manifest themselves. Unfortunately, some politicians would like us to believe that charter change will magically solve the ills of the nation. The system is already there, it is the people with the integrity to run that system who are missing in action. Likewise missing in action are the ordinary citizens who are not supposed to tolerate public servants who corrupt the system. Evil prevails because evil allows it, not because "good men" do nothing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Name that matters

The Name that matters

January 18, 2009
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
John 1:35-42

Filipinos have a penchant for giving amusing names to their children. We have probably heard about names like Mary Christmas Aguinaldo, Washington Dy Sy, Edgar Allan Pe, and Magic Chiongson. I once had a classmate by the name of Johann Bach Sebastian, although curiously, he cannot even carry a tune. We hope these people like their names, for it is very difficult to change names legally. For most of us, our names would last for a lifetime.

In the biblical times though, we see instances when God changed the names of significant personages. Abram to Abraham. Jacob to Israel. Hosea to Joshua. Saul to Paul. Why did God choose new names for some people? Perhaps it was to let these people know that they were destined for a new mission in life. The new name was a way to let them in on the divine plan and also to assure them that God's plan would be fulfilled in them.

In the Gospel, Jesus said to Simon:

"You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas".

Why would Jesus say Simon will be called Cephas (translated Peter)? There's seems nothing wrong with his old name Simon. If Simon - Peter was puzzled by this development, he didn't show it. God's divine plan for Peter would be evident later in Jesus' ministry when we learn that Peter would be the "rock" upon which Christ would build his Church. Like the other great biblical personages, there was a transformation in Peter that was not just about a change of name. It was a change of heart. In the end what really matters is that, in our hearts, it is the name of Jesus Christ that is inscribed.

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Sto. Niño feast

In the Philippines where the Sto. Niño feast (Holy Child Jesus) is celebrated today, the Gospel reminds us that the Kingdom of God belongs to children. "Let the children come to me" (Mk 10:13-16) Being childlike (as opposed to being childish) offers us the best approach to relate with God -- to lose our pretensions and only to trust in the God who loves. The Kingdom of God is offered freely, we have to approach it like little children with no pretensions, no aggrandizing of our merits, no demands, and yes it also does not matter what our common names are. He just calls for the child in all of us.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

ODDS AND ENDS – Jan’09

Coulter's Conservative 'View' Not Welcome

Ann Coulter (author of: “Guilty: Liberal Victims and their Assault on America." ) gets interviewed by liberal hosts on America’s “The View” on her book. From the looks of it, it seems more like a heavy artillery bombardment rather than an interview, with Whoopi Goldberg leading the siege. It seems that these days, "conservatives" are bad guys.
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US porn industry also seeks $5-B bailout

Here’s the story:
Two porn moguls, including Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt, are seeking a $5-billion bailout from Washington, arguing that the limp US economy has thrown cold water on the adult entertainment industry…“Congress seems willing to help shore up our nation’s most important businesses, (and) we feel we deserve the same consideration,” Francis said in a statement…
“It’s time for Congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America. The only way they can do this is by supporting the adult industry and doing it quickly.”…
Flynt said people were “too depressed to be sexually active.”…
“This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such, but they cannot do without sex,” he said.

No, I don’t think they’re kidding.
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NY nuns sue Pinay over 'tuyo'

As the report goes, this Filipina cooked the Philippine delicacy ‘tuyo’ (dried fish) in her apartment in Manhattan, and her neighbor nuns didn’t find the resulting aroma exactly pleasing to their olfactory nerves. Apparently the scent also got on the nuns’ overall nerves well enough to sue the Pinay for $75,000 in damages. That’s a tidy sum, but maybe they will donate it to charity once they win the case. I wonder if it occurred to the nuns to just offer their discomfort for their self-mortification. If it were Mother Teresa, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. At any rate, one’s rights ends where the other’s rights begins. Let’s see. In the land of milk and honey, maybe one should stick to cooking ham and eggs for breakfast.
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Monday, January 12, 2009

Hunger for Christ’s increasing presence

Sunday, January 11, 2009
Mark 1:7-11

“One mightier than I is coming after me…”

AS the story goes, this governor arrived late at a barbecue. He was already very hungry as me moved down the serving line and received one piece of chicken. The governor said to the serving lady, "Excuse me, do you mind if I get another piece of chicken? I'm very hungry."
The woman replied, "Sorry, I'm supposed to give one piece to each person."
He repeated, "But I'm starved," and again she said, "Only one to a customer."
The governor, normally a modest man, decided it was time to push his weight,
"Madam, do you know who I am? I am the governor of this state!"
She answered, "Do you know who I am? I'm the lady in charge of chicken! Move along, mister."
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Well, that lady in charge of chicken certainly knew her position and wouldn’t be intimidated.

In today’s Gospel, we see that John the Baptist certainly knew his position as well. He wasn’t a person that could be intimidated too, as we all know he even bravely opposed Herod. John was already getting famous in his ministry, but he knew where he stood as he said:

“One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.".

For all his persistence and boldness, John has no problem diminishing himself while acknowledging the mighty presence of Jesus Christ. In fact, he delights in the emergence of Christ's ministry. He was full of joy just being in Jesus' shadow.

In the material world, the mark of maturity is when we increase in physical size, prominence and social status. In the spiritual world, the mark of maturity is when we decrease ourselves so Christ's presence grows. The more Christ increases in us, the more powerful witnesses we become for Him. The more we magnify Christ, the more everything else becomes smaller: our insecurities, our problems, and our pains. Then, like John, we would experience true joy.

As to the governor, he might have gotten luckier if he just humbly asked for a larger piece of chicken.
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*xposted at CatholicFriends

Saturday, January 10, 2009

FORWARD IN CHRIST


CFC Leader's Conference
January 10, 2009
Araneta Center

FORWARD IN CHRIST

"Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:13-14

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The theme of Couples For Christ this year is : Moving Forward in Christ. On a personal note, one cannot really forget what went on in the past, but must put it in the proper perspective. St. Paul always finds the imagery for straining forward, fighting the good fight, and running the race to win. It is all about advancing in growth for Christ. Peter once faltered while walking forward on the water towards Christ. If one does not forge ahead and grow, one can only falter, slide backward, and sink. Brothers and sisters, Forward in Christ!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A deadly cure for a wrong diagnosis

Solons push for return of death penalty

Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 02:08:00 01/09/2009


MANILA, Philippines—The controversial case of the “Alabang Boys” has triggered calls for the re-imposition of the death penalty, and certain lawmakers were all for it.

Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon Thursday said he would file next week a bill seeking to restore capital punishment for drug traffickers.

“Even if you jail them, their business continues behind bars,” Biazon said...

“Unlike murderers or rapists who may be reformed, drug lords have the capacity to live comfortable lives in prison while business goes on,” Biazon said.

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Also earlier today, I had the chance to catch Senator Zubiri being interviewed on the same subject. He said something to the effect that the death penalty should be re-imposed for drug traffickers because when they are caught, they just bribe their jail guards. The re-imposition of the death penalty should solve that.

Hmm. I've been more than 20 years in the manufacturing industry, but right now I think I have to re-learn all over again the correct concept of cause-and-effect analysis, just hearing our solons speak about solving the drug menace problem. Is it a case of right solution for the wrong problem? or wrong solution to the right problem? or wrong on both counts? Or maybe the methodology has mutated?

At any rate, Archbishop Cruz of Lingayen was also interviewed in the same morning news show. He says the Church teaching has not changed. Just for refreshers, here is part of what the Catechism has to say:

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If non–lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm -- without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself -- the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are rare, if not practically non–existent.' (NT: John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

There's probably no bus

Godless message posted on British buses
Agence France-Presse
First Posted 10:53:00 01/07/2009


LONDON -- About 800 buses bearing the slogan "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" set off on Britain's roads Tuesday in an atheist campaign responding to a set of Christian ads.

The campaign, which will also see slogans plastered across London's subway system, was paid for by more than £140,000 ($200,000, €150,000) in public donations, the British Humanist Association said...
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So, there's probably no God eh? I wonder why these humanists pulled the stops by inserting the tentative word probably. They are probably unsure? Now, why would they assume that those who believe otherwise are worrying and not enjoying life? The Christians that I know are the most joyous people that I've met. Oh, but they do worry too like any other people. Sometimes, they worry there's probably no bus coming. Strange way to preach, one might say. And what noble humanist goal drives them to do so? Now why don't one of them humanist preachers climb some of those buses and preach :"When they said repent, repent, I wonder what they meant!". I guess these bus ads go as a prime example in the forthcoming book: "How to waste money on totally silly and absolutely useless ads", by the British Humanist Association.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Savagery of War

"Nothing is lost by peace, everything may be lost by war"
- Pope Paul VI

Gaza horrors sow seeds for future violence

Death Toll Mounts as Israel Expands Offensive in Gaza

Israel Invades Gaza, Hoping to Pummel Hamas into a Truce

Israeli military surrounds Gaza City

Death toll rises as Israel encircles Gaza City

Gaza Ground War: Day One

Striking Deep Into Israel, Hamas Employs an Upgraded Arsenal

Magisterial perspectives:

Catechism # 2265:
Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility...

Compendium of the Social Doctrine # 500:
...To be licit, the use of force must correspond to certain strict conditions: “the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave and certain; all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; there must be serious prospects of success; the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated...

# 504:
The right to use force for purposes of legitimate defence is associated with the duty to protect and help innocent victims who are not able to defend themselves from acts of aggression...

# 505:
The principle of humanity inscribed in the conscience of every person and all peoples includes the obligation to protect civil populations from the effects of war...

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God save the innocent.



Saturday, January 3, 2009

Wee Three Kings

Sunday, January 4, 2009
The Epiphany of the Lord
(Mat 2:1-12)

As a kid I also thought that the three kings from the Orient were tiny, dwarfish people with little crowns on their heads. My imagination had a lot to do with the popular Christmas tune that goes: "Wee three kings of Ooo-rient are, Beaaar-ring gifts we travers a-far...", of which the Ray Conniff version remains my favorite, to this day.

As I started reading the bible I started getting it straight. First I found out that there was no mention at all how many "kings" there really were, and certainly it is possible that there were more than three of them. There could be at least three, to correspond to the three gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.
Funny, I also thought that their names were Gaspar, Melchor and Baltazar. However, Matthew simply referred to them as the wise men from the east.

The wise men could have been respected priests and seers of the Zoroastrian religion. Here they stand for all the non-biblical religions. While the Jewish priests, chiefs of the people of God, do not receive notice of the birth of Jesus, God communicates the news to some of his friends in the pagan world. This lesson is good for all times: Jesus is the savior of all people.

The other lesson and a most fascinating one, is towards the end of the verses.
We are told that the wise men went home another way to avoid Herod. It must have been a longer detour, but it was the right way to go. The story is saying that once you have really experienced Jesus, you can't go back to the old way of life.

Now I know they were not tiny people, and that they were really wise.

As another year starts: O Star of wonder, star of night...Guide us to Thy perfect light!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Perfect Wife

I think it is not by chance that this poem concludes the book of Proverbs. Wisdom in Israel was not intellectual reflection far removed from real life. Wisdom was knowing reasons for living and how to organize one’s life, just as Solomon said. And, women have indispensable roles in all that makes for a happy home and allows persons to believe in life, to love, to laugh, to cherish, to be formed, and to be capable of serving.

I dedicate this entry to my wife (of 21 years by tomorrow January 2) - even though she does not ever read my blog. I am blessed a hundredfold to have her as my lifelong companion (and that makes me a lucky chap as well). This comes from Proverbs 31:10-31.

When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands.
Like merchant ships, she secures her provisions from afar.
She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household.
She picks out a field to purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms.
She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed.
She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing.
Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness.
Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her:
"Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all."
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.
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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2009

My son Chino took this short vid clip of some fireworks in front of our house on New Year's eve.

video

Happy New Year!!!