Monday, December 22, 2008

Man's Freedom, Creation

A personal being is capable of loving someone more than his own nature, more than his own life. The person, that is to say, the image of God in man, is then man’s freedom with regard to his nature, “the fact of being freed from necessity and not being subject to the domination of nature, but able to determine oneself freely” (St. Gregory of Nyssa). Man acts most often under natural impulses. He is conditioned by his temperament, his character, his heredity, cosmic or psycho-social ambiance, indeed, his very historicity. But the truth of man is beyond all conditioning; and his dignity consists in being able to liberate himself from his nature, not by consuming it or abandoning it to itself, like the ancient or oriental sage, but by transfiguring it in God.

The goal of freedom, as St. Gregory of Nazianzus explains, is that the good belongs in truth to him who chooses it. God does not wish to remain in possession of the good He has created. He awaits from man more than a blind, entirely natural participation. He wants man consciously to assume his nature, to possess it freely as good, to recognize with gratitude in life and in the universe the gifts of divine love.

- Vladimir Lossky, "The Creation"

HT: Glory to God for All Things

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Free Advertising

Have you tasted Dunkin' Donuts Coffee? I think they actually put donuts in there. It's a little pricey (for all those jellies and jimmies, I imagine), but it's certainly worth drinking if you get a chance, or find a good deal. And the aroma! Woe is me, for I am a sinful man among sinful people.

My wife and I love a good hazelnut blend. Along with it, a peppermint creamer at this time of year makes life a that-much-more beautiful proposition.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Netflix: A Rating Dilemma

Netflix is a terrific service - let me just get that out of the way first. I've used it for roughly three years now and have had only the rarest complaint. My complaint today has nothing to do with their service, but in the dilemma I face each week in rating movies. They ask you to rate the movies you return (and others you've seen) with 1 to 5 stars. 3 stars is "I liked it." 2 stars is "I didn't like it." 4 stars is "I really liked it." 1 and 5 stars get into the areas of hate and love, respectively, and are used with fear and trembling, as you can imagine. Anyway, here's the problem - I'm pretty laid back about movies. Most that I ever want to see enough to rent or that are recommended to me are so-so. Thus most of my movies get 3 stars. Unfortunately a 3-star rating says relatively little about how I feel about the movie. I could give it 3 enthusiastic stars, yet it isn't a film I'm ready to step out on a limb and say, "I really liked it." I could give it 3 stars meaning that it was comparatively stupid, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that I didn't like it - that there was nothing enjoyable about it or that I have some aversion to it being ever made into a film. (Sometimes I don't rate the movies because I never watch them, just send them back because I don't have much interest in watching them at the moment. Though that's rare, or is the result of a particularly busy time of life. Sometimes I don't rate them because I've watched them and am not sure how to rate them - a good or fun story, but kinda smutty [those are usually those action films that Laura insists upon watching].)

I also have other people in my family, and I often rate the kids' movies based on how often I find them watching them. If I rent a kids' movie and it gets watched once, then I know someone screwed up big - either the filmmaker or the father who thought they'd be interested. Or the advertisers who thought they'd be interested. For instance, Donut Man has 4 stars. Now I think it's on the cheesy side of things, but my kids really enjoy it. Again and again.

All of that to say, If you like movies, subscribe to Netflix. Enjoy some excellent documentaries that you would have never watched otherwise. Spend less time watching TV by watching more TV. How cool is that? If you subscribe, we can even be friends, and you can compare our likes and dislikes and see just how far you have to go before either of us can take you seriously.

This week happens to be a week I'm looking forward to in my at-home queue. I'll be watching The Dark Knight, Mamma Mia! and Innocent Voices

Route 66

My dad is 66 today. Love you, Dad. Have a good one.

And Route 66 has nothing to do with this post other than it was the first thing that popped into my head when thinking about his age. He's older than people being encouraged to find their kicks there, but younger than the road itself.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lordy, Lordy

My sister turned 40 today. Happy birthday, Tania! Much love.

Advent Reflections: Empty Hands

About Fr Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Pontifical Household, and his second reflection on Advent:

Finally, Father Cantalamessa considered Paul's declaration that "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

This "forgetting," the preacher proposed, is detachment from any good that one has done in the service of the Church, "repeating to oneself, according to Christ's suggestions: 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"

In this regard, he concluded with a Christmas reflection: "This emptying of one's hands and pockets of every pretension, in a spirit of poverty and humility, is the best way to prepare for Christmas.

"We are reminded of it by a delightful Christmas legend that I would like to mention again. It narrates that among the shepherds who ran on Christmas night to adore the Child, there was one who was so poor that he had nothing to offer and was very ashamed. Reaching the grotto, all competed to offer their gifts. Mary did not know what to do to receive them all, having to hold the Child in her arms.

"Then, seeing the shepherd with his hands free, she entrusted Jesus to him. To have empty hands was his fortune and, on another plane, will also be ours."