Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I have been reliably informed that this

did not arrive in the mail today.

Let's get cracking, people. It's not like I'm asking for naked pictures of Bea Arthur or something difficult like that.

The Library of St. Leibowitz's Abbey.

Rod Dreher had an interesting post inspired by A Canticle For Leibowitz(you've read it--right? RIGHT? I'll pretend to ignore all "no" responses from heathen philistines).

His question is this:

[W]hich books [do] you think are the most important to convey to generations in the future who will have lost all knowledge of our civilization and what's important to know [how] to reconstitute it?

Well--how should we stock that library, folks?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Why "dialogue" is a bad joke.

Imagine yourself waking up tomorrow morning, lurching to the kitchen to brew up your essential java, pausing only to gaze blearily out the window into the backyard.

You are suddenly and fully awake because you see to your consternation that someone has fenced off half your yard and has started building a small cottage on it.

You charge out of your door and confront the trespasser: "What the hell are you doing in my yard!?"

The trespasser calmly puts down his hammer, crosses his arms before him and assumes a slightly superior air: "Well, I think we need to have a mutually respectful and prayerful dialogue about your notions of 'ownership.'"

The proper response to such pious bunkum is "And that's what I call a 'warning shot.'"

Late last month, the musings of former Dominican Grand Master Timothy Radcliffe on the widening gulf in the Church made a brief splash. In it (which is condensed from his presentation at Cdl. Mahony's Festivus), he acknowledges, albeit with considerable bafflement, that "dialogue" has become a term of derision. Given the prime opportunity, he proves remarkably incurious as to the reason why. Nonetheless, I'll help move the conversation forward with this observation:

Because it has been consistently and condescendingly used as a weapon in intra-church fights, that's why.

Last Sunday offered a prime exhibition of this pietistic shanking in action.

We ended up going to the problem parish for Mass--St. Athanasius in Harrison, Michigan (there are no innocent to protect). For those of you who wonder, yes, there is a history. As of October 2005, things had improved considerably with the Adventus Carlsonum.

Now, to borrow the evangelistic term, St. Ath's has backslid. Perhaps, given the public nature of the goings on, "fallen off the wagon" is a better metaphor. As in staggering-down-the-street-blind-stinking-drunk-singing-The Pogues-at-two-in-the-afternoon-wearing-naught-but-a-codpiece-and-carrying-a-life-preserver-in-one-hand-while-making-obscene-gestures-with-an-empty-bottle-of-Boone's-with-the-other.

Sister is again front and center, announcing the readings, leading the prayers, standing next to the sacramental technician at the altar, preaching the homily and reflexively avoiding masculine pronouns like they were herpes pustules. To be fair, she had the makings of a good homily before she reduced the Good News to some inoffensive exercise in therapy and "growth."

The crowning misery of this ego-driven display was a call in the intercessory prayers for "dialogue and understanding about the practices at the parish."

I don't think my snort was audible, but I remember thinking "ballsy and cheap." It's one thing to exercise squatter's rights over the parish liturgy, as inexcusable as it is. It's quite another to try to use parts of the liturgy as a bludgeon to legitimize your usurpation.

Which is of course what any effort to "dialogue" with her and her supporters amounts to--a concession of legitimacy. Moreover, there's not a chance in hell that she's going to change a thing--her party is already making you publicly pray to forbear. Neat trick, eh? To quote my friend Zach Frey, a veteran of such tactics in the Episcopal Church, this is the "You talk, we'll act" strategem. And it works with roach motel efficiency.

The only appropriate form of "dialogue" in these situations is to treat it like the hostage situation it is and summon the SWAT team. Sure, this being American Catholicism, there's a better than 50-50 chance no one's going to show up, but that's still better than offering the perpetrator a shred of cover.
Now hear this:

Gentle Readership, your host's birthday is nigh upon you.

And not one of you has sent me a present yet.

Nevertheless, that oversight can still be remedied. All I want from you is this item here. For some reason, my much better half has been...hesitant.

BTW, there's a very good chance you can find it cheaper on Bookfinder.

You don't have to wrap it, either.
Travel and toddlers.

They go together like nitro and glycerin.

On Friday, we took the pilgrimage to my parents' for the extended weekend. Didn't quite beat the Great Metro Detroit Holiday Traffic Exodus, unfortunately. It turned what should have been three hours into five plus. Within twenty five miles of our goal, The Boy™ said he wanted to go home. I muttered "Fine--here's your coat and a map." Heather gave me The Look.

A piece of wisdom in child naming: if you name your son after your father, your dad will permit said child to commit murder or other high crimes, all with an indulgent smile.

A good time was had by all, and surprisingly we got a swim in as it proved to be much warmer than predicted. The water was still spring-icy, but all the more refreshing for that. It was a five-cousin riot, but all the kids were well-behaved. Dad was able to use his new multiburner Uber-Grïll to feed the hordes, the Jet Ski was deployed and I received early birthday presents (more on that later).

The trip back was faster (read: better timed on my part), with the only problem being a harsh sun beating down on the right side of the vehicle. That made it difficult for Rachel to sleep, and I had one of those irrational moments when I wanted to rip the sun from the sky and stomp it for making my daughter cry.

Oh, and the vacation parish has backslid. Badly. More on that later, too, as it involved a pernicious use of the laugh line "dialogue."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Should I be happy that the 'Stons shot 38% and only lost by five?

Or very, very worried that their offense is so AWOL that the Detroit office of the FBI should be looking for their ability to hit a frigging mid-range jumper instead of Hoffa?

OTOH, today's sign of the end--the Tigers at 31-14.

It's been so long we don't know what to say or how to act.
"Guns don't kill people. Jack Bauer kills people."

Great lists of facts about the more-lethal-than-influenza hero of 24.

[Via Disputations.]

Two word review of this season: "Uh...what?" Came very, very close to shark-jumping this year.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Last DVC Post.

(1) So it's a blockbuster. Quelle suprise:

"If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think, they’ll hate you." —Don Marquis

[Great quote I just stumbled across, courtesy of Dan Simmons. Interesting, if flawed set of essays from him, but I'll leave it for others to deconstruct.]

(2) Best Nuclear Bombing of that bestseller, via that indispensible handbook of theocrats and "Christianists" everywhere, The New Yorker:

There has been much debate over Dan Brown’s novel ever since it was published, in 2003, but no question has been more contentious than this: if a person of sound mind begins reading the book at ten o’clock in the morning, at what time will he or she come to the realization that it is unmitigated junk? The answer, in my case, was 10:00.03, shortly after I read the opening sentence: “Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.” With that one word, “renowned,” Brown proves that he hails from the school of elbow-joggers—nervy, worrisome authors who can’t stop shoving us along with jabs of information and opinion that we don’t yet require. (Buried far below this tic is an author’s fear that his command of basic, unadorned English will not do the job; in the case of Brown, he’s right.) You could dismiss that first stumble as a blip, but consider this, discovered on a random skim through the book: “Prominent New York editor Jonas Faukman tugged nervously at his goatee.” What is more, he does so over “a half-eaten power lunch,” one of the saddest phrases I have ever heard.

Should we mind that forty million readers—or, to use the technical term, “lemmings”—have followed one another over the cliff of this long and laughable text? I am aware of the argument that, if a tale has enough grip, one can for a while forget, if not forgive, the crumbling coarseness of the style; otherwise, why would I still read “The Day of the Jackal” once a year? With “The Da Vinci Code,” there can be no such excuse. Even as you clear away the rubble of the prose, what shows through is the folly of the central conceit, and, worse still, the pride that the author seems to take in his theological presumption. How timid—how undefended in their powers of reason—must people be in order to yield to such preening? Are they reading “The Da Vinci Code” because everybody on the subway is doing the same, and, if so, why, when they reach their stop, do they not realize their mistake and leave it on the seat, to be gathered up by the next sucker? Despite repeated attempts, I have never managed to crawl past page 100.

[Hat tip: Amy Welborn.]
Yes, I saw that heavily-hyped movie this weekend.

And I strongly recommend it--Over The Hedge is pretty funny.

Better than the last hyped animated feature the children dragged us to (Chicken Little, which was OK, but not as good as advertised).

My kids especially loved Hammy the Squirrel (voiced by Steve Carell). There's a bit involving slow-mo near the end that is hilarious.

Go. See.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Time for a whiplash segue.

From levity to sleeplessness: as in real theocrats to worry about, not the Christian punching bags offered up by MSM.

Two stories from Iran:

(1) Letters from Mahmoud--first the President, now the Pope. Yes, it has a precedent.

(2) Iran's Parliament has passed a law requiring the country's Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians to wear badges and/or distinctive clothing.

That's all. You can go back to worrying about intelligent design and Pat Robertson now.

[UPDATE: Apparently the latter item proved to be inaccurate.]
It's the Easter season, so that means the veritable coprocopia of "Christian Origins" twaddle is running three shifts.

More concrete evidence that "religious studies" in academia is quite the freakosystem, indeed.

[Cardinal] Egan took issue with a U.S. News & World Report magazine story on a controversial new book called "The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity," by a religious studies professor at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. The book by James Tabor claims that Jesus was the son of a Roman soldier and that he wanted to establish a worldwide dynasty led by 12 tribal leaders, with his brother James, rather than Peter, as its leader.

[Cue Krusty the Clown groan:] "Oyyyy..."

I hereby announce My Controversial Jesus Claim for 2006: Tabor is wrong--Jesus was the first Shogun of Japan, and the original lost text of the Gospels establishes this. Christ was called "sensei," not "rabbi." In that passage of John where he was writing in the sand, Jesus was actually diagramming the whoop-ass karate moves he was going to lay on the Pharisees if they didn't let that woman go.

Moreover, neither Peter nor James were intended to be his successor. That honor went to Simon the Zealot, who was also a Ninja--the coolest Jewish Ninja ever.

In fact, Simon was so totally sweet as a Ninja that all the other apostles got jealous and made sure the so-called canonical gospels never showed him saying anything or using his Ultimate Ninja Powers. Check it out for yourself.

OK, where can I go to pick up my doctorate now?

[Thanks to Jeff Miller for the link.]

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A question from my Much Better Half.

Why are they called the gnostic gospels? They don't read like the canonicals--i.e., they aren't narratives of the life/ministry of Christ.

So how did they get the title "gospel"?
Prayer request.

Especially from the St. Blog's Stirling Fan Club:

Steve Stirling's wife, Jan, has a bad case of pneumonia, and it has required surgery to help drain and address certain areas. Things are looking good so far, but all prayers and good thoughts are welcome (and that's a quote).

Sunday, May 14, 2006

For my Mom.

Thanks for everything you have done and still do for me and our whole family.

Thanks for putting up with the antics of a couple of honyocks like me and Doug (especially) during our teen angst/delayed launch-from-the-nest years.

Thanks for welcoming Heather into the family like a daughter.

Thanks for spoiling Madeleine, Dale III and Rachel absolutely rotten.

And thanks for always being there.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

[P.S. Thanks for always accepting late cards with joy....]
The Ringo Starr of Airport Fiction Explains the Thrust of His Magnum Opus.

In the magisterial USA Weekend, of course--nothing but the most intellectually challenging of fora for our man in New Hampshire:

Now, before you read this as an author's disclaimer for any differences between the book and the movie, let me assure you it's all there -- the Louvre, Saint-Sulpice, Chateau Villette, Westminster Abbey, Rosslyn Chapel, the codes, the sacred feminine, and the quiet invitation to think about faith, religion and history with a fresh, open-minded perspective.

The quiet invitation to think about faith, religion and history with a fresh, open minded perspective?

Can't you just smell the smarm?

Then again, when it hits you at fire-hose strength, you might be a little numbed. Even the nostrils.

Just remember that piece of disingenuous tripe the next time someone you know is mugged. It's not a violent robbery, it's simply the perpetrator's quiet invitation to think about crime, the redistribution of wealth and closed-head injuries with a fresh, open minded perspective.

Friday, May 12, 2006

"Solomon, I have surpassed thee."

--The Emperor Justinian in A.D. 537, upon viewing the completed Cathedral of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia in Greek). After the fall of Constantinople in A.D. 1453, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque, which entailed the painting over of the magnificent frescoes adorning the church. However, Kemal Ataturk, the first president of modern Turkey, ordered the building converted into a museum in 1934, and the frescoes are still in the process of being restored. The Turkish Republic has been, with the exception of renaming Constantinople "Istanbul," a solid (if not flawless), custodian of the city's Byzantine past.

Hagia Sophia still dominates the skyline today:

Another view:

From the East:

And then there is the interior:

Now for the frescoes:

This one is a closeup of the above, and depicts Justinian (left) presenting Hagia Sophia to the Infant Christ and the Virgin, and Constantine (right) presenting Constantinople to them.

Christ Pantocrator:

Next is a depiction of the Emperor John II Komnenos (Comnenus) (reigned 1118-1143) and his wife, the Empress Irene. John was beloved by his subjects and called "the Good." He never had anyone tortured or mutilated during his reign, which included a coup attempt at its very beginning by his elder sister, Anna (the famous historian and author of The Alexiad). It is suspected that Anna's reluctant husband, Nikephoros Bryennios, who was expected to be emperor if the plot succeeded, warned John. By the standards of the time, he was very lenient, merely sending the plotters off to a semi-comfortable banishment and confiscating their property. Moreover, he enjoyed several military successes, pushing back the Seljuk Turks and recovering territory lost to the Turks during the previous century. He and his wife also founded a large modern hospital for the poor in Constantinople:

Sts. John Chrysostom and Ignatius of Antioch, respectively:

More incurable Byzantinophilia to come. [All links except the first via the magnificent website of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.]

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I don't know precisely when--or why--I got bit by the Byzantium bug. It was sometime in high school, though, and right after I went through my Ave Constantine Imperator! fascination with all things Roman phase. 

I suspect it was out of sheer joy that the saga of Rome had not ended with its collapse under barbarian assault, and now I would have even more to read. You know, there are times when I can actually hear Heather cringing from miles away. My high school friends may recall--with head-shaking, no doubt--me lugging obscure dust-covered tomes from the Alma College library, right down to one of the imperial treatises of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus

What's that? "How many times did I go on dates in high school?" Um, 5 or so. Maybe less. Why do you ask? 

The good of it was that the obsession (call it what it is) culminated in a trip to the Island of Torcello, and the remarkable Church of Santa Maria Assunta. Santa Maria still has its cornerstone from 632, when the Byzantines built it. 

All of that is a prologue to say that I will be periodically posting bits about my fascination with this much-neglected part of history as time permits over the next several months, including book recommendations and the like. Here's a good start, though--a fairly-decent Wikipedia article about the history of the empire, a list of assorted primary and secondary source links, and a link to the incomparable art of Byzantium.

And because man cannot live on bile alone...

...though Lord knows I've tried.

The St. Blogger Formerly Known As Peppermint Patty has posted a wise essay on kids growing up. She's your go-to gal if you have perfume questions to address--and you know who you are.

I also liked her comment to me on kids growing up:

I hate to tell you, but once they hit school age, time just speeds up, and before you know it, you are watching them pack their things in a garbage bag and boxes and head off for their new life where you are just a spectator. But maybe we are always just spectators and fool ourselves into thinking it is more.

Maybe so--I think there's something to that last sentence.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why so upset? It's just fiction.

Submissions Department
Random House, Inc.

Dear Sirs:

Enclosed is a copy of my first novel for your consideration. I think it will appeal to your readership at a number of levels: it is "simultaneously lightning-paced, intelligent, and intricately layered with remarkable research and detail." It centers on an explosive dark secret hidden by a very famous person and conspiratorial efforts to protect that secret. It also has plenty of sex, violence, nudity, along with violent sexual nudity. It will also be controversial.

With that introduction, I present to you: The DansMommy Code.

Yes, though fictional, it is based on aspects of the life of your hottest author, Mr. Dan Brown. Consequently, that will prove to be a useful hook to piggyback sales and simplify the promotional campaign.

The essential thesis of my fictional work is this: It was Mr. Brown's mother, Constance, who starred in the controversial film Deep Throat, not Linda Lovelace.

As noted above, though the book is fiction, it is based on the factual research done by myself. OK, me and my wife. The following is FACT:
  • Mrs. Brown and "Linda Lovelace" were both alive the year the film was made;
  • Mrs. Brown and "Linda" are both women;
  • Mrs. Brown has no documentary evidence that she was not on the set while it was being filmed;
  • Most startlingly, according to a respected pornologist I consulted who owns a copy of the script and some 8mm bootlegs of the film, DT contains a coded message: If you rearrange letters in the script, you get the phrase "I am Constance Brown." This is indisputable. [As an aside, I discovered this by using the scientific approaches similar to those taken by that Bible Code guy and the people who first played Stairway To Heaven and Walking On Sunshine backward and heard Lucifer talking.]
  • There are coded images in the film which spell out the phrase.
  • The Brown family would have an understandable motive to keep this quiet.

Now, the idea that Mr. Brown's mother could suck-start a leafblower will prove controversial, and no doubt the Browns might possibly take offense. However, (1) it's just fiction, and (2) DT was a revolutionary film with a resonating impact on culture, which continues to echo in the so-called "culture wars" of today, making these important ideas worth discussing. It is safe to say that the discussion generated will be fascinating, as will be the input of scholars of both print and film.

I look forward to your response.

Very truly yours,

Dale Black [pen name]

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Church Extremely Militant.

We made it to the Tridentine Mass again on Sunday--the elder two were clamoring for another visit. This time, they were much better behaved. Rachel, alas, was not--no patience for it yet.

The crowd was a little bigger than the last time, and a whole lot younger.

More good news: I think the TLM is reviving the parish to a degree. There were new steps leading to the entrance, and a new parish sign proudly advertising the Mass. Moreover, there was restoration underway inside the parish itself. Emphasis on "restoration"--not renovation. The old-school Stations of the Cross--entirely in Polish--were carefully protected and prepared for resetting. Scaffolding is in place, and new ceiling paint seems to be the order of the day.

Maddie: "This is the most beautiful church I've ever seen." Of that, I have no doubt. When she is of an age to travel, I'll direct her to Santa Maria Assunta on the island of Torcello in Italy. I'm pretty sure her Dad's rabid love of all things Byzantine will prove contagious. OK--most things Byzantine--the blindings and mutilations aren't on the list.

Moving on.

One of the great things about the old iconophile churches is that you are always noticing new details, or appreciating old details in a new way. This time, it was the former: somehow, I just noticed a major mural in the church this weekend.

In a remarkable coincidence, I read Tom's post on the Black Madonna of Czestochowa last Friday. I was familiar with the Black Madonna beforehand, having read and re-read James Michener's Poland, which features the icon--and has great battle scenes--as a teenager. We attend a parish which is about half Polish and has two Polish priests, so the Prices are well on our way to becoming honorary Poles--that is, if the Italian half of the parish doesn't get us first. But the Poles are in the lead--our one relic is from St. Faustina, and both our priests allow the kids to punctuate the liturgy with misbehavior short of confessed contract hits, so the Italians have some catching up to do.

So, as I am looking up to the immediate left of St. Josaphat's high altar, I spot a mural with some odd details. No, not the Virgin standing in the sky above a river, surrounded by the heavenly hosts, but the details below--soldiers? Modern soldiers? With rifles?

Yes--and also abandoned Maxim guns. I start craning my neck to get more details, but I already know what it is--it's the Battle of Warsaw, August 1920, a/k/a Cud nad Wisla, the Miracle at the Vistula.

In fact, the mural is a copy of this painting:

Picture credit here.

Yep, the mural even has the priest raising the crucifix as the Poles send Tukhachevsky's Red hordes into pell-mell retreat. Apparently, it wasn't quite triumphant enough for the exultant parishoners, who prevailed upon the artist to make it obvious that the Polish biplane was strafing the Russians.

I'll see you your Santiago Matamoros, and raise you the Miracle at the Vistula. Make sure you stop by to see St. Josaphat when you are in town.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, Molly!

My brother's lovely daughter turns 6 today.

Happy birthdaaaaay toooo youuuuuuuuuuuuu....

And, because your uncle was charged with the task, you will get your card later this week...
Christina Update.

The cancer was a little more widespread than originally thought, but the good news is that the surgeons are confident they got all of it. Chemo will address the remaining sources of potential concern.

She is in relatively good spirits, having flipped off Heather during both visits--Saturday and today. The nasal tube is out, which is a great relief. She will likely be released during the next 3-7 days, depending.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The decay of reason.

David Klinghoffer points out why the success of the Da Vinci Code is the symptom of a broader problem:

Consider that the alleged conspiracy underlying the “biggest cover-up in human history” bears a remarkable resemblance to another phony conspiracy: the famous hoax called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Apparently authored by Russian monarchist and anti-Semite Mathieu Golovinski in 1898, “Protocols” tells of a secret society of Jewish elders that work to keep gentiles ignorant of a plot to rule the world through “Darwinism, Marxism and Nietzscheism.”

* * *

Besides highlighting the word “Zion” or “Sion,” the two conspiracy theories share an understanding of how to deal with ideas you disagree with. Rather than taking traditional Christian beliefs at face value and arguing against them (as I do in my current book, by the way), Brown portrays the religion itself as resting upon a conscious deception. That excuses him from having to make arguments at all.

Anti-Semites do the same thing. Rather than coming out honestly against Darwinism or Marxism or modernity in general, they concoct a story about Judaism as a lie and a conspiracy. “Protocols” remains a global phenomenon of staggering popularity, especially in the Arab world.

I emphasize that Brown never intended to foment bigotry. Yet to the cause of conspiracy theorizing, he has done a wonderful favor, training his readers in the habits of paranoia and gullibility. For people committed to finding the truth through investigation and argumentation, that’s depressing.

As for Jews, we haven’t fared well when the culture we live in turns to entertaining fantasies and delusions at the expense of an unfashionable religion. The success of Brown’s book, now transformed into a movie blockbuster, is bad news indeed.

[Thanks to Bill Cork for the link.]

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Just a brief housekeeping post.

1. Christina's in for surgery today--yes, another delay, but by her choice. Should take about 4-5 hours, so keep the intercession/good thoughts coming.

2. Happy birthday to my little brother, Doug--who turns __ today. [Intentionally left blank because I'm three years older. Urk.] Have a good one, and watch an episode of Reno 911 for me [either the Burning Man or crossing guard ones].

3. People who are expecting stuff--be patient. Been far busier than anticipated the last three days.

Plenty to come--once the ducks are in a row. Watch this space.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Southern Test is causing page loading problems.

I'm going to see what I can do to tweak it, then repost later.
Yes--we met Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel yesterday!

At Amy's presentation at St. Thomas the Apostle in Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor: Where Driving Around The Cannabis-Inspired Road Grid Is Half The Fun!

Free Advice: Don't get lost in Ann Arbor. Ever. I don't know how many times variations of the phrase "degenerate/dirty hippies" were murmured by yours truly, but I suspect I'll found out the next time I attend St. Josaphat's and it comes tumbling out The Boy during the consecration.

Let me clarify slightly--I sorta met them. I said about three disjointed words to Amy (punctuated by "Rachel!" in my Warning Voice), and made sure Heather had Michael autograph the two books I wanted, and that may have been it. More one of those "in passing/in the same room" things.

You see, even at her young age, Rachel already knows The DaVinci Code is ten pounds of crap in a five pound bag, so she decided to go exploring instead of listening to the presentation, and I rode shotgun.

Why didn't you restrain her? you ask.

You've never had toddlers, I reply.

So, I followed her like a Secret Service agent. Into the parish kitchen, down the hall, out the locked doors leading to the outside (oooops), into the brick-lined street (I played goalie to ensure she didn't get much past the curb), up the stairs to where fruit tree blossoms were raining down in the wind, back down the stairs into the parish conference room, back up the stairs...

I think I said "Hi" to Amy and then raced off to prevent Rachel from doing something potentially tragic. She also tried to unplug the microphone wire twice, but was again thwarted by her no-fun-allowed father. I think--hope--Heather heard more, but apparently the elder two had BB bladder syndrome, so she had to race for the toilets at least twice.

[To clarify, yes, Heather is the primary writer of Blog No. 2--her contributions are in red.]

But, the napless managed to settle down enough for us to purchase three books (two fine ones on the Mass and the Eucharist by Michael, and a devotional by Amy that Heather lunged for) and get our previously purchased books autographed. Which lead to The Boy's shining moment, referenced in Amy's post.

Heather told him he could take it to Amy for autographing. But not while she was up at the mike answering questions....

Have I left the impression that patience is not his strong suit?

But Amy laughingly and graciously signed it, and Heather retrieved the copy, to the laughter of the audience.

Ah, well--a good time had by all.

The Secret to Thriving during the Eastern Great Lent.

A couple secrets, actually. The first is Lebanese and Syrian cooking. At our new Melkite parish, the Divine Liturgy has been followed by Len...