Saturday, January 7th, 2012
7 January 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under On My Bookshelf
, science fiction 1 Comment
Jack McDevitt offers up two enjoyable reads –his latest novels Echo (2010) and Firebird (2011). They feature the intrepid archaeologist/mystery solver Alex Benedict and his assistant (and narrator) Chase Kolpath.
I’ll tell you upfront these books are recommended for those who like good novels. They’re well-written. Like a good mystery, they provide you with enough misdirection to keep you guessing. I hesitate to say these are pure science fiction novels, despite being set several millennia in the future with spaceships. They each function more as a mystery: the main characters are trying to unravel a puzzle. There is a lot of on-the-ground sleuthing. When the action gets into space, then I think things get exciting.
In the far human future, people wonder if they’ll ever find aliens in the universe. Granted, in McDevitt’s future, one alien race has already been found. But one isn’t enough, it seems.
Echo deals with a mystery artifact: is it alien-made, or is it from a lost human colony? A deeper mystery unfolds in the last third of the book, as Benedict and Kolpath stumble on a few human survivors of a world mysterious for having “primitive” technology (gas street lights and suspension bridges). So why are hired killers after the heroes, and why did a well-regarded space pilot and businesswoman commit suicide? It all gets figured out in the end, though there’s a shocking bit of gratuitous news (my opinion) at the end of the volume.
I liked Firebird a bit more. It explores a flying-dutchman-in-space concept. It’s a bit more science fiction than its predecessor. When the main characters attempt a rescue, it has some heartbreaking consequences for some of the people involved. That’s good science fiction, in my opinion. You take an idea of something that is beyond our present experience, and you place real human beings in the way. Good sf makes you think: What would I do? What would the moral response be?
Neither of these is a perfect book. My main complaint about Mr McDevitt’s sf novels is that they seem too much like modern America with a way, way overdone media coverage. Curious that characters know some aspects of “ancient history,” like Billy the Kid, but thousands of years into a computer era, whole human space colonies can somehow get lost.
For good writing, I can ignore little things like that. His novel Seeker won the 2006 Nebula for best sf novel. Same characters. Another good read.
7 January 2012
The message of catechesis is “A message proclaiming salvation,” as the section 101-102 is headed.
101. The message of Jesus about God is Good News for humanity. Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God; (Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 11-14; Redemptoris Missio 12-20; cf. Catechism 541-556.) a new and definitive intervention by God, with a transforming power equal and even superior to his creation of the world.* In this sense, “Christ proclaims salvation as the outstanding element and, as it were, the central point of his Good News. This is the great gift of God which is to be considered as comprising not merely liberation from all those things by which man is oppressed, but especially liberation from sin and from the domination of the evil one, a liberation which incorporates that gladness enjoyed by every man who knows God and is known by him, who sees God and who surrenders himself trustingly to him”. (Evangelii Nuntiandi 9) Catechesis transmits this message of the Kingdom, so central to the preaching of Jesus. In doing so, the message “is gradually deepened, developed in its implicit consequences”, (Catechesis Tradendae 25) and thus manifests its great repercussions for man and the world.
* In the liturgy of the Church it is expressed in the Easter Vigil: “Almighty and eternal God you created all things in wonderful beauty and order. Help us now to perceive how still more wonderful is the new creation by which in the fullness of time you redeemed your people through the sacrifice of our Passover, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever and ever” (Missale Romanum, Easter Vigil, prayer after the first reading).
The message of salvation is not really surprising. Let me limit myself to one comment, how wonderful it is that the Church’s liturgy is such a source of insight and formation–noting that the new Creation occasioned by the Paschal Mystery has surpassed the original creation of the universe.
7 January 2012
We’ll spend the next few dozen posts looking at “Mass with the People.” A simple definition starts us off:
115. By Mass with the people is meant a Mass celebrated with the participation of the faithful. Moreover, it is appropriate, in so far as possible, and especially on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation, that the celebration take place with singing and with a suitable number of ministers.[cf. Eucharisticum Mysterium 26, Musicam Sacram 16, 27] It may, however, take place even without singing and with only one minister.
116. If at any celebration of Mass a Deacon is present, he should exercise his function. Furthermore, it is desirable that an acolyte, a reader, and a cantor should usually be there to assist the Priest Celebrant. Indeed, the rite described below foresees an even greater number of ministers.
Roman wisdom and practicality give us a high aim, but with the leeway to have a fully valid liturgical celebration while working toward that ideal. Sundays and holy days are “especially” suitable for more than four assisting ministers. That means this ideal of a “greater number” should apply to funerals, weddings, and even daily Masses.\
Those who think we do well to limit the number of ministers would not appear to be in congruence to the mind of the Church. Neither would those who see liturgy in terms of the High Mass/Low Mass dichotomy as applied to the modern Roman Rite. High Mass, as we knew it before Vatican II, is clearly the aim of good liturgy as envisioned by the Roman Missal.
7 January 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under My Family  Comments
A mostly good report from the pathologist today. Either my wife has a large but typical benign cyst or a very unusual non-cancerous tumor. “Uncommon” is the worst it could be. Minor surgery looks like it’s on the horizon, but there should be no problem with it.
During a pause in today’s consultation, I whispered, “You’re uncommon, sweetie.”
I got shushed.
For those who knew, your prayers were much appreciated. I was under orders not to make this news wide and public knowledge. I told God earlier today that I wasn’t up for a bad diagnosis. I’m the parent of a teenager–I’m not prepared for medical drama on top of that. There’s only so much a guy can take. I didn’t want to insist on a recall.
About 3pm this afternoon, I felt I could breathe. For about the first time in two weeks.