Friday, August 12, 2011

Seven Quick Takes (v 4)


--1--
The inquiries for RCIA start next week, with the Sunday sessions after Mass beginning soon after that. This s interesting to me, because it will be the first time I've gone through this process as a member of the core team (catechists). I look forward to it, but also am a little nervous about the fact that I've never been through an inquiry before: oh, and I'm supposed to lead the group discussion during the inquiry. My instructions were that everybody needs to get some chance to talk, that I would have 30 minutes and probably 15 inquirers, that some might try to be long-winded, and that I shouldn't interrupt them. I think the only solution to this combination of criteria is to bring a hot potato and tell them that only the person holding the potato can talk.

--2--
While we're on the subject, since a few of these converts may be from completely unchurched backgrounds, they may be a bit nervous about how not to look awkward during the Mass. This is especially true since our parish makes them sit together as a large group at the front of the church. Fortunately, BlueFish Tv--the folks who brought us this beauty--have some advice for how to fit in at church.

Owning a missal wouldn't hurt, but I'd recommend just waiting until the new translation some out in Advent.

--3--
I've mentioned before--though not here--that my wife got me a Kindle for my birthday. I've been enjoying it immensely, and I especially enjoy the fact that there are so many free books for it. Many of these may be from Project Gutenberg--and thus freely available without the Kindle (or Nook, or whatever), but I find that they're not both free and portable, so that I very rarely take advantage of them. The Kindle has changed that a bit. It's also dramatically helped to curb my desire to go to the bookstore, which is of great relief to the missus, since my shelves are nearly over-flowing as-is.

--4--
One of the other effects of having so many books which are freely (or cheaply) available--and which do not take up additional physical space--is that I've started to read a bit more from a genre which I have always loved, but seldom since graduate school have I read: science fiction. In middle school and high school I was a bit of a Star Wars and Star Trek nerd, but I haven't read much of either since being an undergrad. Since then, I'd previously picked up and read the occasional book by Mr John C Wright or Mr Timothy Zahn or Mr Gene Wolfe, and I loved Mr Michael Flynn's Eiffelheim and Walter M Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz (which I review here, for those interested) but that was about the extent of it for the last several years. Now I've discovered Murray Leinster and Fr Robert Hugh Benson, and have found the Barsoom series (which I see gets recommended by Mr Wright, at least), and a few others. All this, without paying a dime.

--5--
Speaking of Mr John C Wright, he's quickly becoming one of my go-to philosophers for the subject of science fiction and fantasy. I've read many (perhaps all) of his books (my favorite was the War of Everness duology) and a handful of his short stories, and can give these a hearty recommendation. But he has also done quite a bit of philosophizing (both on his blog and in interviews) concerning the nature of speculative fiction (that is, science fiction and fantasy), and how it relates to Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. His latest project appears to be in three parts (he's written two) in which he addresses a reader's question concerning whether or not magic has a corrupting influence, and how Catholic writers should portray and employ it.

--6--
The British riots are yet another reminder that civilization is only a few steps removed from barbarism. As an aside, I've noticed that whenever somebody says that that kind of thing could never happen here (whether seriously or sarcastically, as Mr Mark Shea has done), the rebuttal is to point back to the race riots. That is the nearest parallel, but we need only look back to the most recent natural disaster-turned-catastrophe to recall that the looting and anarchy could strike here, too. Perhaps the rioters there are angry and oppressed; more likely they're angry and propagandized; perhaps both. The oppression part, at least, cannot be said about the looters and shooters in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina five years ago.

--7--
Arguably the most amusing thing I've seen recently is the Marshmallow Temptation experiments conducted at Stanford in the 1960s. Somehow we missed covering these back when I took psychology, but my wife saw them while sitting through an otherwise boring teacher training day. There are a whole series of them, but I'm going to post just two: one actual experiment, and then one which was a great parody of it.
The experiment with children:

The parody:

Happy Friday.
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Seven Quick Takes Friday is hosted at Conversion Diary.

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