The Vatican wants to shut down Sunday shopping in Italy. All of a sudden, that’s become a liberal cause: giving small businesses relief from the relentless push from corporations that can keep stores open 24/7. And crush any local competitors.
I wonder how they would weigh in on shipboard retreats during Lent.
I have a theory about that last one, hosted by two of Catholicism’s most “orthodox” bloggers. They couldn’t find a retreat house anywhere on the continent that would host such a thing. But a handful of Catholics among honeymooners, gamblers, and winter vacation-ites. That sounds like some seriously “new” evangelization to my ears. Some serious schism, too, among conservative internet Catholics.
I think you have retreats in retreat houses and at monasteries. I presume cruises are great fun–that’s what I hear from people who have gone on them. I think shopping is great, too. Maybe I’ll have to give some thought to foregoing the convenience of the Sunday economy. Giving up luxury for Lent, though–one would think that’s a given.
With the discovery of five planets orbiting the star Tau Ceti, does this mean all the sf literature on that system is now obsolete?
My take is that Asimov, Clarke, Niven, and others will eventually pass into the realm of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs. These guys were skilled authors with great imaginations. Memorable characters, too. But eventually the factual truth about the universe–in this case other planetary systems–will come out. And we’ll be left to entertain ourselves by the quality of the writing. From the Universe Today site:
(T)his new discovery is the closest single sun-like star that we know of to host of an entire system of planets. The five planets are estimated to have masses between two and six times the mass of the Earth, making it the lowest-mass planetary system yet detected. The planet in the habitable zone of the star has a mass around five times that of Earth, making it the smallest planet found to be orbiting in the habitable zone of any Sun-like star.
I want to get to that “habitable zone” in a bit. But first, a thought that Tau Ceti may be more appealing than twentieth century guesswork in the books:
- As you can see above, when compared to the sun (left) Tau Ceti is bit smaller, less spotty, and more orange than our home star. If God decided to pull a cosmic switcheroo and give our solar system Tau Ceti one morning, we’d be deep in an ice age within a few years. Earthlike planets will need to huddle closer to that star.
- Tau Ceti is thought to be older than the sun. Generally speaking, astronomers think lower metal content in a star implies a formation farther back in time, before as many supernovae blasted as much iron, nickel, gold, etc. into the cosmos. One presumes that Tau Ceti’s planets will have less iron and rock, and more lighter elements and compounds: carbon, nitrogen, water, methane, ammonia, etc..
- Astronomers have detected about ten times as much “debris” around Tau Ceti. Amateurs are surprised to find out that it is easier for Earthlings to detect dust belts, gas clouds, and debris than it is to find planets. Ten times more asteroids, comets, and space dust swirl in Tau Ceti orbit. Given these new planets are so close in (inside the orbit of Mars in our system) I wonder if all the debris isn’t orbiting a bit farther out. I wonder if astronomers have fine tuned the location of all that junk.
- Astronomers have ruled out a Jupiter-sized planet, unless it’s way, way out from the other five. Jupiter is thought to protect Earth from too many comets and asteroids because it has swallowed up so many over the past billions of years. But on the other hand, without a Jupiter, Tau Ceti’s inner planets may be relatively safe from the occasional asteroid perturbed into an inner system visit.
Here’s why I’m a skeptic on habitable zones. Planets and moons can be warmed by things other than sunlight. Radioactive decay warms the Earth’s interior to the temperature of the sun. Tides of the moons of Jupiter keep rock molten and subsurface oceans liquid.
There is another reason that habitable planets are probably never going to be relevant for human travel in space, if we ever make it to the stars. It will take a ship thousands of years to travel the interstellar gulf. That ship will probably be the size of an asteroid or small moon, and will carry all the creature comforts of home. Even if Tau Ceti travellers were to find a nice planet on arrival, a large portion of the human occupants might prefer to stay on board ship. Why disembark to a planet with lots of unknowns?
Facebook and Twitter for the NRA has been shut down. I suppose there’s nothing to say in polite (or even internet) company these days about lobbying for semiautomatic weaponry and armor-piercing ammunition.
My own history is that my dad owned a handgun but none of us kids ever knew where he kept it. For awhile, he owned a few rifles and he took me target shooting a few times. After a few years he sold off the guns. I don’t think my mother approved. But guns were no big deal, really.
This Newtown shooter had firearms that were a bit more advanced than point-shoot-reload. There’s really not any defense for such objects. I mean: how many rounds does it take to kill a deer or rabbit? I wonder if their manufacture and sale isn’t driven by the American consumer indulgence for acquisition. I mean: what other goal could the NRA possibly have? It’s got to be about buying more and more weapons that one won’t ever use. Remember, the odds are still five in six that a home handgun will kill a family member before it stops an intruder.
Any speculation on when the NRA starts a comeback?
Let’s tackle the very delicate situation when it is discerned that an existing church building must be significantly altered.
§ 238 § When a parish constructs a new building, there are many options available for responding to the liturgical needs and balancing the values involved. When a parish is renovating an existing worship space, the building itself may limit some of the design possibilities and constrain the parish to choose between options that are less than ideal. In making compromises demanded by the limits of the existing space, it is important for the parish to continue to work with professionals to consider all the possible options and to make the choice that will best serve the requirements of the liturgy and the other parish priorities.
“Alteration of Historic Structures” will be covered in this section and in tomorrow’s post:
§ 239 § Over time, as public expressions of worship change, there is a consequent shift in the demands on the physical space used for the Church’s liturgy. In accord with the norms of the liturgical reform, it is sometimes necessary to alter historic structures that pose a challenge.(Opera Artis 4) In projects of this kind, a delicate balance can be achieved through a selection of designs and appointments that respect and protect the Church’s ancient artistic heritage and, at the same time, effectively serve the requirements of contemporary worship.
No question: it can be very difficult and demanding to work with an older building. In some ways, however, it can be somewhat freeing not to have to make the larger judgments on architectural style, neighborhood footprint, and other matters of that scale. In some ways, more attention can be brought to bear on small, but significant items.
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.