Friday 22 December 2006

Seriously Hacked Off...

Chatting in the parish club this evening produced a little snippet of information which is seriously bad for my blood pressure.

One of my friends told me of what he thought would be an interesting programme due to be shown in the evening on Christmas Day. When he told me it was on Channel 4, my heart sank, because I knew it was highly unlikely that anything on that channel would be in any way favourable towards Catholicism...

Sure enough, it transpires that the programme is "The Secret Family of Jesus." Presented by Robert Beckford (described by Channel 4 as a leading theologian), the programme listing goes on to explain how he

"...tells the story of the conspiracy that Dan Brown missed. It's the story of the people who shared his bloodline and knew him best, and who existed for at least 300 years after his death."

My friend, who is a recent convert to the Faith, told me that the trailers he'd seen had described how "one" of the Gospels had mentioned the brothers and sisters of Jesus, briefly, and that any further mention of them had been firmly suppressed.

Quite apart from the feeling of déjà vu (yet another conspiracy from that wicked, scheming institution known as the Catholic Church) the sheer unadulterated cynicism which could deliberately arrange for such a programme to go out on Christmas Day really gets up my nose.

It is a deliberate attack against the teachings of the Catholic Church (and it is Catholic teaching which is being attacked, as many Protestants hold that Jesus had actual brothers and sisters) and this will be used to undermine many others - after all, if the Church lied about Jesus having brothers and sisters, then the stuff about Mary being "ever-Virgin" is untrue, and maybe even the Virgin Birth... and hey, while we're at it, why believe the stuff about the Resurrection?

This sort of slur would not be allowed against, for example, the Prophet Muhammed on the feast of Eid-ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan. But Catholic beliefs and teachings are fair game...

Just in case any readers of my blog are in any doubt, the Gospels do refer to brothers and sisters of Jesus. However, the Fathers of the Church are quite clear that the terms "brother" and "sister" are actually being used to refer to cousins: the same thing happens in some other cultures even today (some Nigerian friends of mine caused me a great deal of confusion when I first met them by referring to cousins in this way.)

Frog Liturgy

Further to various mentions of the Prayer of the Frog on different blogs, it would appear that Paulinus couldn't resist, and has succumbed to the lure of liturgical creativity...

Check out the Inner Frog Workshop at the Recusant Cricket Club... But, be warned. This is seriously hard-core liturgical mangling, and not for the faint-hearted!! Or anyone trying to drink coffee while reading blogs...


British Preoccupation with the Weather

When I was at school (yes, ok, a very long time ago), I remember learning that Britain had a temperate climate. This meant that we got all sorts of weather. In Summer, it tended to be warm and sunny. Spring and Autumn were a bit more variable - lots of rain - and Winter was cold (and generally wet.)

Now maybe I'm guilty of remembering selectively... but, although the weather was famous for being a British topic of conversation, that was as far as it went. I do remember a hot Summer when we had a hosepipe ban (1976... oooh, that's let the cat out of the bag!) but apart from that, the British took the weather in their stride...

This is no longer the case. Any extremes in weather seem to be hailed as major catastrophes... this might be understandable, as being in a temperate climate doesn't prepare you for extremes, but I detect a cetain wimpish streak emerging.

One time the railways ground to a halt with the excuse that there were leaves on the line. Yes, in Autumn trees shed their leaves. Surely the fact that they have to land somewhere was pretty obvious, and that, as most railway lines have trees alongside, some of those leaves might possibly end up on the lines??

And then there was the time when the trains couldn't run because of snow. New trains. Designed to run in all weather. But apparently it was (wait for it...) the wrong kind of snow.

Last year the roads were in chaos because of snow. The weathermen had forecast snow, but it still was enough of a surprise to make motorways into giant carparks, and people were in danger of freezing to death.

Then, this Summer, it was too hot. We had to have drought warnings and hosepipe bans. We seem to have hosepipe bans every Summer, no matter how much rain we get in the Winter, because too much rain falls all at once...

...and now, the pièce de resistance: all short-haul and medium haul flights are being cancelled at Heathrow because of fog. But I thought we always got fog in Winter. We don't always get snow, but fog is pretty much part of the territory!!!

And just one other thing to consider... How come the long-haul flights can cope with fog?

I Don't Like Personality Tests But...

...I couldn't resist taking this one either!!

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 21%
Lifer: 54%
Mandarin: 72%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

...Mind you, I have to admit that I thought a mandarin was a type of orange!!

I'm Not a Sporty Type, But...

...I couldn't resist this one!

I'm an Audi TT!

You're not the fastest, nor the most nimble, but you're cute and you have style. You're not intensely competitive, but when you pass by, everyone turns to look.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

H/T to Scorpion Stalking Duck

Wednesday 20 December 2006

Does Santa Claus Exist? - Scientific Viewpoint

Santa visits the Lebanon


1) No known species of reindeer can fly. But there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

2) There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

3) Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical).

This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

4) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight.

On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that 'flying reindeer' (see point 1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine.

We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the QE2.

5) 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each.

In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second.

Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now...

(NOTE: This appeared in the SPY Magazine (January, 1990) )

Does Santa Claus Exist? - Theological Viewpoint

From the lesser-known Summa Contra Scroogicum...

Whether Santa Claus Exists?

We proceed thus to the Third Article: -

Objection 1: It seems that Santa Claus does not exist, since Christmas gifts are able to be given by good elves. Therefore Santa Claus does not exist.

Objection 2: Further, if Santa Claus did exist, there would be no narrow chimneys. But there are narrow chimneys, and sometimes no chimneys at all. Therefore, Santa Claus does not exist.

On the Contrary, Kay Starr says: "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night."

I answer that, The existence of Santa Claus can be proved in five ways.

The first and foremost way is taken from Christmas trees. It is certain and evident to our senses that in the world some things are Christmas trees. Now, no pine tree becomes a Christmas tree unless it is trimmed. Now to be trimmed means to receive ornaments from another. But this cannot go on to infinity in the trimming of Christmas trees. One must come to some first untrimmed trimmer; and this everyone understands to be Santa Claus.

The second way is from the nature of Christmas gifts. We see that in the world Christmas gifts are given and received. Whoever, then, gives Christmas gifts either receives them from another or makes them in his workshop. If, however, no one makes Christmas gifts in his workshop, they are not given or received. Therefore, it is necessary to posit some first giver of Christmas gifts, whom everyone calls Santa Claus.

The third way is from plastic images resembling Santa Claus. At all stores we see things of plastic that represent Santa Claus. These things are of such a quality that they are representatives according to Santa himself or according to other images of him. But, it is not possible to proceed to infinity in images. Therefore, it is necessary to posit something which is resembling Santa Claus, and hence Santa Claus exists.

The forth way is taken from the grades which are found in Christmas spirit. Indeed, in this world, among men there are some of more and some of less Christmas spirit. But "more" and "less" is said of diverse things according as they resemble in their diverse way something which is the "maximum." Therefore, there must be something which has the most Christmas spirit, and this we call Santa Claus.

The fifth way is taken from the behavior of children. When Christmas day approaches, we see from their being good always or frequently that children, who lack understanding, are moved because of an end. But children would not be good because of the nativity of Christ unless there were someone who strengthened them so that they were good. And this someone is known by all to be Santa Claus.

Reply Objection 1: Good elves, since they receive Christmas gifts from another, should be named the highest helpers of Santa Claus.

Reply Objection 2: It is not impossible that Santa Claus should use the door like everyone else.

H/T The Ironic Catholic

More Encouragement

Another "new" blog... well, new since September 2006. Fr Jay Toborowsky describes himself as a "Young Fogey." He had an interesting post on the Sacrament of Confession.

H/T to Ma Beck for putting up the link.

Spreading the Christmas Cheer...

The Catholic Blogosphere appears to be preoccupied with the idea of the Vatican fielding a football team. Booooooring!

So I am going to post a joke. Not a very funny one, but it made me chuckle.

Ok, this duck waddles in to a bar. He goes up to the barman, and says, (ok, I know, talking ducks are not very believable, but humour me... suspend disbelief just for a moment...)
"Got any bread?"

Bemused, the barman replies, "Err, no... this is a bar. We don't sell bread."
"Ok," quacks the duck, and he waddles out.
Next day, duck returns. "Hi, got any bread?"
"No," says the barman, "this is a bar. No bread."
Duck waddles off.
Next day, duck returns again. "Any bread?"
Barman, getting irritated, "No bread... THIS IS A BAR! We DON'T sell BREAD."
"Oh, ok." And the duck waddles off.

This goes on, and on, and on, for several days. Same question from the duck. Same answer from the barman, though he is getting more and more irritated. After a fortnight, the barman cracks.
In reply to the duck's question, he leans over the bar, grabs the duck by the beak and pulls him up, eye to eye.

"Listen, Daffy, I have had just about enough of you. This is a BAR. We serve DRINKS. We do NOT sell BREAD. Now, if you come in here again, asking for bread, I swear that I am going to nail you by your beak to the bar and batter you senseless, and serve you up to my customers with orange sauce... Now, have you got that?"
"Err, ok," says the duck, and waddles off.

Next day, the duck comes in. He looks up at the barman, who is glaring at him...
"Got any nails?"
The barman, almost apoplectic, shouts out "NO!"
"Good," says the duck... "Got any bread?"

Blog References

I seem to have made someone's day! David, over at Fullness of Faith, has noted a major jump in visits, and they are apparently arriving via this blog. He suggested that I make another reference to it, and I'm happy to oblige!!

I see that Fr Tim has given his blog a mention too... now that really will increase David's visitor numbers. Check out his new poll on brussels sprouts!

Tuesday 19 December 2006

Encouraging Signs

I am really having fun exploring the Blogosphere with my new computer. I am revelling in the freedom of broadband, so much so that, this evening, when a few pages took more than ten seconds to load, I found myself getting impatient...

I shall try to be more adventurous in my explorations. One "new" blog to add to my UK list is Valle Adurni - the blog is run by Pastor in Valle, who describes himself as a tired Parish Priest. Like my own PP, he's a lecturer at the Seminary at Wonersh. I like his gentle style...

With the sort of priests we seem to have at the seminary as lecturers (several bloggers among them) and students like those great guys at Orthfully Catholic (I think they're at a different seminary!) I would say there is real hope for the future of the Church in the UK. Good. I was getting a little down-hearted with some of the stuff which has been going on at the moment... I've quite cheered up!

Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy, pray for them.

Evidence (At Last)

I had a really great day when I renewed my vows two weeks ago. I also mentioned that Fr Tim had sacrificed the second of the two poundcakes which he'd ordered from Ma Beck for the party afterwards... and that the cake had gone down a real storm ! Fr Tim took pictures, but he's been a little busy lately (well, so he says...) so I've only just received them...

...admittedly I wouldn't have been able to upload them before now anyway!

But here is the "before" picture when the cake made its appearance...

...and here is what happened to it...

(I think it's safe to say that it was pretty delicious!)

Monday 18 December 2006

Picture Uploads

Ok, I now have to admit that it was either my desperately aged and decrepit computer which couldn't cope when Blogger changed the image upload format, or it was Internet Explorer which couldn't cope. I don't know which, as I'm no longer using either!

However, I wanted to put up a photo of Fr Richard Whinder in my post on his excellent talk, determined as I was to get one over on Fr Tim, who hadn't brought his camera along (and who still hasn't sent me the photos of Ma Beck's poundcake! Such dereliction of duty in a cleric is shocking!!) So here is the photo...

...and in case anyone was wondering, I got those awfully nice chaps from Miles Jesu to take a photo of my nails (which looked pretty good, despite having to retrieve a mouse from my cat's clutches while the nails were still wet!!) And by the way, the nails are real, and I painted them myself.

What Have I Started??!

I might have known it was a bad idea... After checking out old YouTube videos on my favourite blogs, I came across some brilliant spoofs by Wierd Al Yankovic. Then I suddenly remembered he'd done a spoof of the Madonna hit "Like a virgin" which he'd changed to "Like a surgeon"

...Given the number of medics who seem to haunt the Catholic Blogosphere, I just had to post this one: so, Joee, Matt, Antonia, Paulinus, and any other docs out there, enjoy!!

First Video Post !

I just had to try to put this one up! H/T to Scorpion Stalking Duck.

Sunday 17 December 2006

Fun and Games

Well, the broadband internet connection works... and the email appears to be ok (I decided to take the advice of Fr Tim over at The Hermeneutic of Continuity, and have switched to Firefox and Thunderbird for internet browsing and email respectively.)

Now all I need to do is download some software... when I've finished looking at all the video clips I've been unable to access all this time!
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