Sunday, April 29, 2007

'Critical thinking'

In defense of film critics
The Monitor
's movie critic weighs in on why viewers and reviewers don't always see eye to eye

A back-to-basics of sorts

Dean Abbott's blog entries span practically the entire spectrum of topics to be blogged about. Okay, that's an exaggeration but the pieces he writes in Inspired by a True Story really are remarkably diverse, which is why it's become a regular read for me. Table Talk: Thoughts on Hospitality is a terrific post that got me thinking about the art of entertaining, which seems to be fast disappearing in today's world. Much is to be appreciated about being invited to a meal at someone's home; much, too, is to be learned about gracious entertaining and about being a good host/hostess. And much is lost when the art of entertaining is replaced by "entertaining" sans our parents' generation's refinement or by treating our guests to nights-out.

For some reason, reading the piece made me hanker for life away from the bustling city. I'm also reminded of my best friend who, along with her husband and two children, decided to move to Davao City (in the southern Philippines, about an hour's plane ride from Manila) and build their life there. Needless to say, there are trade-offs that come with the relocation, but based on her stories, the gains outweigh the losses, particularly as regards the upbringing of her kids in an environment that brings one closer to what are essential in life.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

In black and white

So many thoughts came and went the past couple of weeks even before I could blog about them. Instead of trying to recall what they are, I'll share some photos I found this morning as I opened an old CD lying around near the bookcase not far from this computer I use.

My late grandfather was many things but he was primarily a scientist. Photography was one of his interests, thereby letting him document a lot of his travels and important events during his 76 years (he died in 1972). A cousin of mine -- also a photography enthusiast -- gathered the prints and slides that we found hidden in old cabinets and boxes, painstakingly scanned them, restored many of them and stored them in CDs.

I haven't bothered counting them but there may be over a thousand of these pictures. And looking at them has made me feel quite nostalgic (even though I have no idea who some of the people in the photos are).

The one above shows (left to right) my uncle, dad and auntie sometime in the 1930s. They grew up in the country so I think this shot may have been taken in their yard or somewhere near their house. This other photo is of my grandmother holding either my dad or one of his siblings. Probably mid 1920s or early 1930s.

And check out partying in the 1920s! Written on the photo:

"Annual Ball, UPSILON SIGMA PHI, Feb. 21, 1926, Manila Hotel"

What a refreshing change from the kind of attire one sees nowadays, even in formal functions. And there's no mistaking men for women and vice versa!

Oh, the women here are garbed in what's called the "kimona," the Spanish-inspired national costume. It can be worn with some variations but this is basically how it looks.

God knows I've been wanting to blog..

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Decoding the Mrs.

I need subtitles for my spouse
A humorous look at what his wife really means when she says 'fine.'

By Chuck Cohen

And down will come baby...

Thought I'd post this here in case anyone who reads my blog has been using these products (or knows anyone who does so). Two types of baby carriers were recalled in March as these were declared unsafe, with reported cases of accidents. Do read the reports for specifics.

Mom and son on Virginia Tech

The terrible incident happened less than 48 hours ago yet it has been reported and analyzed repeatedly, related elements speculated on again and again. Here's a fresh take on what happened at Virginia Tech from the perspective of teens, courtesy of Feminine Genius, who tips her hat to Anchoress.

Like a good mum (even perched on her "convalescent couch") she bumped bubbles with the man-child to ask a few more questions:

I talked to Buster about it later that evening. I asked him what he thought of it all - the shootings, the instinct to move from that story to a sitcom rerun. He said, “Mom, I’ve run the Columbine scenario a million times in my head. I’ve thought about what I would do, depending on where in the building such an attack were to take place. I’ve sat in class thinking about how the windows open, what structures would make the best barricades and how to go about taking the bastard down rather than simply cowering in fear while people are shot to death. I’ve thought of it. We’ve all thought of it, my friends and I, we’ve devoted hours to thinking about it. If you think we’re being cold or cavalier, I think we’re simply aware of the fact that this is what the world is, that no one can ever guarantee our safety - not schools, not governments - nothing is going to absolutely and 100% protect us from what is out there, what can spill into our lives in an instant, and change everything. All we can hope is that when stuff like this comes our way, we can do the courageous thing.”

Read the whole thing here

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Friday, April 06, 2007

The most significant execution in history

Jesus is raised on the cross. Around him is a distressing scene. Some pass by, and jeer; the chief priests, more scathing and sarcastic, scoff at him; others, indifferent, are mere spectators. There is no reproach in Jesus' eyes -- only pity and compassion. He is offered harsh wine and myrrh. Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their misfortune, and remember their misery no more. It was the custom to make such humanitarian gestures with condemned men. The drink -- a strong rough wine with some myrrh -- had a numbing effect and made the suffering more bearable.

Our Lord tasted it as a sign of gratitude toward the person who offered it to him, but wished to take no more, so as to drain the chalice of suffering. Why so much suffering? asks St. Augustine. And he replies: Everything he suffered was the price of our ransom. He was not content to suffer a little; he wished to drink the chalice to the dregs without leaving a single drop behind, so that we might learn the greatness of his love and the baseness of sin, so that we may be generous in self-giving, in mortification and in the service of others.

In Conversation with God
Vol. 2 (Lent and Eastertide)

** Artwork:
The Crucifixion (1543), by Maerten van Heemscerck

In the two Gardens

I've been reading a book my brother gave me, and in poring over some pages several days ago, I came to appreciate the significance of two gardens mentioned in the story of salvation. In one a very fateful downfall started while in the other, obedience triumphed. I'm using a photo from the movie "The Passion of the Christ" since I can't find any other visual that represents the crucial elements of these episodes that took place in either of the gardens.

From "Inside the Passion: An insider's look at The Passion of the Christ" (Ascension Press, 2005) by Fr. John Bartunek, L.C., here's something that hopefully will enrich for you the meaning of this week's events that happened some two centuries ago, and in turn help you appreciate the things that one Man did for all of humanity.

The Garden of Gethsemane is the new Garden of Eden, the biblical place of testing and temptation, the place of spiritual battle described in Genesis. In the Garden of Eden, Adam (the biblical father of the human race) failed the test; in the face of the alluring, disconcerting, and threatening voice of evil, he let his trust in his Creator die in his heart. Arrogantly abusing his freedom, Adam disobeyed God. It was a crisis of faith, hope, and love that led to the human family's rebellion against God, what the Judeo-Christian tradition refers to as "original sin," or "the Fall." That sin, that lack of faith, hope and love, let evil and suffering into human history; in a mysterious way it subjected the human family to the power of selfishness and sin, to the power of the Devil.

After the rebellion, God promised a Redeemer, a Savior who would free fallen mankind from the clutches of evil. To do so, the Savior would have to reverse Adam's disobedience. In the face of temptation, in the face of the alluring, disconcerting, and threatening voice of evil He would have to keep His trust in God firm; He would have to lovingly obey His divine Father no matter what.

Jesus, Christians believe, is the Redeemer. His Passion is the climax of His successful combat against the ancient enemy who had defeated Adam and subjected the human race to sin. Jesus' Passion is the definitive moment in history's dramatic struggle between good and evil.

Throughout the Passion, the combat takes the form of obedience versus suffering. The powers of darkness launch an assault first on Christ's inner life -- here in the Garden -- and then on His physical and relational life: bodily torture, mockery, misunderstanding, and rejection at the hands of those He came to save. These sufferings were designed to break Christ's trust, to make Him turn His back on His Father, as Adam had done in Eden. His tormenters' cruelty escalates in its intensity: the powers of evil did everything possible to make Christ say, "Not Thy will be done, God, it's too hard; let Mine be done instead!" The Bible records that all of Adam's descendants had spoken out in just such a rebellion, following in the first parents' footsteps. If Jesus could endure far worse temptation and suffering than mankind had, and still be faithful to His Father's will, still trust in God, then He would prove Himself stronger than the Prince of Darkness. He would usher in a New Creation, a New Era of reconciliation with God.

Console conquests

Great post over at Inspired by a True Story about video games and the blogger's experience working in a video game rental shop. Since he's doing research on the topic of male addiction to gaming, he asked for experiences from readers. Do read them.

This says a lot about the all-too-human tendency to go overboard on anything when temperance is forgotten. In today's world, this virtue doesn't enjoy "top billing" among the traits that the environment (mass media included) encourages.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The week that changed the world

As is the case every year, Manila is becoming less congested as thousands have started leaving for their hometowns elsewhere in the country. It's holy Thursday and most people head for other places on Wednesday and come back to the capital either on Saturday or Easter Sunday.

Parishes are busy preparing for the services to be held today till Easter -- the Way of the Cross, Masses, customs like the Washing of the Feet, the Holy Thursday vigil, the Easter vigil and the Salubong, among others. Some traditions, particularly the Visita Iglesia, are very much alive to this day. If you're unfamiliar with this one, it's the practice of visiting seven different churches and praying before the Tabernacle for a few minutes -- usually done on Holy Thursday.

From April 2006 wherein I posted passages from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez, and this one is from Vol. 2 (Lent and Eastertide).

Sin, infidelity to a greater or lesser degree, always involves a denial of the highest ideals that Christ has sown inside us. Sin is the great downfall of man. This is why we need to struggle with determination, counting on grace, so that we avoid all grave sins, whether of malice, weakness or culpable ignorance, and then all deliberate venial sin.

But even from our sins, when we are unfortunate enough to commit them, we have to draw advantage, because contrition strengthens the bonds of our friendship with Our Lord.

Heaven is full of great sinners who decided to repent. Jesus always welcomes us and rejoices to see us set out again upon the road we had abandoned, perhaps in small matters.

Rising to the occasion

Something unexpected is happening in Europe. Signs of a re-awakening of the Christian faith are slowly cropping up.

Read "Will He rise again in Europe too?" at the National Catholic Register

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