Monthly Archives: April 2009

TTL: The First Major Review

A perfect 4 of 4.

I’ve long considered Britain’s Mojo to be the authoratative source for music reviews, and it’s encouraging to see the experts give Together Through Life a thumbs-up. Read the review here.

As for me, this only makes waiting for the 28th more difficult.

In the meantime, be sure to head on over to and listen to “I Feel a Change Comin’ On” (right sidebar), which kicks off with this delightful stanza:

Well, I’m lookin’ the world over,
Lookin far off into the east.
And I see my baby comin’,
She’s a walkin’ with the village priest.

From the USCCB’s National Directory for Catechesis

While looking at the challenges to catechesis in the United States, a keen observation:

Pragmatism. Another mark of the culture of the United States is pragmatism. A strongly individualistic, philosophical utilitarianism permeates U.S. culture, showing itself in a preoccupation with practical knowledge rather than intellectual knowledge. Many people in the United States think readily in terms of personal or corporate utility but may be less inclined to think in the abstract. This practical reorientation makes U.S. culture open to a  wide variety of new ideals and possibilities but susceptible to utilitarian purposes. An individualist consumer culture can encourage a selfishness expressed in the attitude “What’s in it for me?” (p. 24-5)

Of course, “What’s in it for me?” in our culture is primarily derived from the question, “What feels good?”

People rarely ask, “What is good?”

This is, consequently, why so many Americans – after having obtained a significant degree of wealth, pleasure, power, or honor – are miserable people.

Gone Fishin’ Studying: The S.T.B. Exam

Looks like my weekend won’t include a few hours out on the lake here, in spite of the fact that it’ll finally be warm enough to enjoy a little fishing.

My S.T.B (Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus) examination looms in one week, and tonight’s study session made me realize how very far I have to go in a week. It’s managable, but still challenging.

A blurb on what the S.T.B. is, exactly:

S.T.B. (Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus) refers to the academic degree Bachelor of Sacred Theology.

The Bachelor of Sacred Theology is offered by a number of theological colleges. It is sometimes offered as a graduate degree, for students who have already completed a BA or other first degree. It can also be offered as an “ecclesiastical degree”, granted directly by church hierarchy after one has completed requirements in addition to those necessary for a civil degree, but which are required for ordination.

Within the Catholic Church, the STB is the first of three ecclesiastical degrees in theology (the second and third are the Licentiate of Sacred Theology and Doctor of Sacred Theology respectively), and as such is granted by pontifical faculties under the authority of the Holy See. It is awarded upon successful completion of the first cycle, a three-year course of studies that aims for a comprehensive competence in theology.

Despite its name, the STB is a graduate degree, at least in the US. While acceptance to an STB programme always requires at least two prior years’ undergraduate study of philosophy, as well as knowledge of Latin and Greek, in the United States a completed undergraduate degree is generally required for admission to an STB programme. Thus it is roughly equivalent academically to an MDiv (although the STB has a more academic focus while the MDiv has a more pastoral focus), and the two are sometimes granted together.

That just about sums it up.

Pray I get my act together and do well.

From the St. Paul Tea Party…

…via Powerline

Detonating Squirrels?

Via Facebook update, Domenico Bettinelli brings us a great headline: “Spokane to detonate squirrels tearing up parks

Just innocent, quasi rat-like creatures? I think not.

Anyway, check out the Rodenator Pro, enlisted to get the job done:

Great video of this sweet little death-bringer here. The headline’s a little misleading. The squirrels will technically be either relocated or suffocated.

More likely, they’ll just build new tunnels.

Adult (Mice) Stem Cells Revert to Embryonic State in Lab

A report is due out May 8th in Nature Biotechnology.

Great! Now maybe we can avoid all those sticky bioethical concerns regarding embryo harvesting, and wait to see if this is replicable with the human variety. Right?

Don’t hold your breath. (H/T: Larry)

Finally. Some Jane Austen I Can Get Behind!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!

Just the cover makes me want to own it.

Jane Austen just isn’t guy stuff. A little pinch of “zombie” turns anything into instant awesome, though.

(If you care to read the legitimate Pride and Prejudice – though I can’t imagine why you would -  do it with the Ignatius Critical Edition!)

UPDATE! A priest buddy of mine reminds us that Pride and Predator (follow the link, folks. You won’t be sorry) is coming to the Big Screen!

The new film from Elton John’s Rocket Pictures will have the seven-foot extraterrestrial give the characters from Pride and Prejudice something more immediate to worry about than making advantageous marriages.

Finally! Something that doesn’t bore me to tears.

By the Way… You Tweet?

If so, feel free to follow me.

I despise Twitter a little less than I once did. Ironically, Joshua Claybourn’s continuing campaign against all-things-Twitt forced me to fire up the account I’d created late last year. I was on a quest to figure out one thing: why do people use it at all?

I’m yet to find a satisfactory answer, and largely still agree with Claybourn. Here’s what I’ve seen over the last month or so:

  • Microblogging. Many moons ago, I used to have a small section dedicated to links I’d find throughout the day, and they posted on the blog’s sidebar. Twitter acts as a kind of rolling list for a lot of people, though I find it to be fairly inefficient for such a task. On any user’s main interface, your links are likely to be rolled over by more posts.
  • Networking. Tweet Catholic is a great place to follow folks who share similar interests.
  • Random Musings and Life Updates. I’m a fan of the random, and I especially appreciate it when separated friends chime in with what they’re doing. This may annoy you, but I’ve come to depend on it as the ultimate form of passive-aggressive communication. I’ve been doing the Facebook thing for years now.
  • Celebrities and Politicians. A ton of ‘em tweet. I follow a few politicians, but not many. If you want to stay up-to-the-minute with Demi Moore or Newt Gingrich though, go to town.
  • Poetry. Haiku lives and breathes on Twitter. In fact, “The Cubs in Haiku” is the most entertaining thing I’ve found on the service thus far.

Really, Twitter is a lot like barking through a tin can telephone with multiple strings. As long as someone’s on the other end of the line, you’re likely to be heard. But for the average user, it mostly comes down to realtime communication.

Its ultimate value – past novelty, instant communication, and a way to waste time – seems minimal. But what do I know: Google is rumored to be interested to the tune of $1 billion.

I suppose I’ll keep going with it, if for no other reason than that I’m still trying to figure out just exactly why other people are using it.

Happy Easter, Folks!

Truth be told, I took a little break from blogs for Lent. I wanted to focus on more basic things like getting healthy and catching up with my school work, which took a big hit due to rolling bouts with illness. I’m back and doing well, however.

I’m thinking of starting something new. Beginning this week, I’ll be posting daily reflections on the Mass readings.

I write these for myself most days anyway, so why not post them here?

Of course, I’ll also get back to posting essays and other meditations soon. I suspect at least one or two (apolitical, don’t worry) should stir up some controversy. Heh.

The Anthropological Relationship to Nature

As irony would have it (in light of my previous lighthearted post), I began taking a seminar on Christian perspectives regarding ecology this week. It’s cross-denominational by students and presenters, so we have a number of churches and traditions involved.

One of the constantly recurring themes is that of dominion (Gen 1:28). Because the presenters have no contact with one another, we’ve heard this in three of four lectures, and it’s encouraging to note that varying traditions are in agreement regarding this passage.

The contention: Humankind’s dominion over nature as mandated by God reflects God’s dominion over humanity. And as God does not see us as beings to exploit, ignore, or enslave, neither does our dominion over nature allow us to exploit, ignore, or enslave. This notion of dominion is more or less consistent throughout the Scriptures.

Overall, it’s refreshing to see how Christianity represents a “middle way” in regard to ecology, as it does in so many other issues. Even though we maintain dominion, we have a responsibility toward stewardship. At the same time, however, we do have dominion. The two extremes – representing humanity as some kind of impediment to the natural world (as is the case with many environmentalists) versus the perspective that creation is ours for the taking, damn the torpedoes – find no place in the via media presented to us in recent days.

It’s been a busy week, but a fairly interesting one. I’ve officially started Spring break (albeit a day late), and am looking forward to Holy Week. Hope yours is a blessed one as well.