Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Dog Named Blue

Saw this great story, apparently true, on a website that sells briefcases. Ah well. Here's to great dogs like Blue, and my sweetheart chocolate lab, Abby. fbc From Saddleback Leather Company's website: http://saddlebackleather.com/37-in-memory-of-blue

In Memory of Blue

Dear friend of mine, Blue

A man may smile and bid you hail Yet wish you to the devil; But when a good dog wags his tail, You know he's on the level

"Some roads aren't meant to be travelled alone"

I walked in with my guitar, lined up the three little black lab puppies and then strummed a few chords to see if that would somehow help me decide. One just laid there, one scurried off under a chair and one started wagging his tail. When I did it again and got the same result, I reached down and picked up my dog.

From that day on, Blue was my constant and faithful companion wagging his tail millions of times over again.

He brought so much joy into my life that I can hardly start to tell you. He kept me company all day long for years and years. He was a great listener, never complained and protected me like no other. In return, I gave him a cool life.

His life was far from dull. He was killed in a car wreck in an ice storm and revived, run over by a car (by me), knew more Spanish than most of my friends, was stolen once (I got him back), had an active romantic life (60+ puppies in Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, Oregon, Texas, New Mexico, Cd. Juarez and probably a few places I don't know about), swam in 23 states, ate lots and lots of people food, and slept out under the stars hundreds of times. I suppose one could say that he lived a Dog's Life.

Blue in front of Dave's Land CruiserBlue rode with me I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of miles all over the North American continent, sitting behind me with his chin on my shoulder. He slept by my side every night; even when I slept on top of the Land Cruiser. He would run and jump onto the hood, over the windshield and onto the rack.

Of all my time sleeping in the mountains, deserts and behind gas stations when I couldn't drive anymore, Blue kept me safe. Once, we were camping along the Rio Grande in New Mexico and Blue just kept staring down the river, growling. We left.

We've had some good times, me and Blue. Every small town we lived in, everyone knew Blue. Driving through town, he would stick his head out and bark and from both sides of the street, people would wave and holler "Hola Blue! Hola Blue!" They all loved Blue, but not as much I did. Heck, who else would put a page in honor of their dog on their professional website? Did I mention that he once cost me $9000? But that's another story. Blue announcing our arrival

He certainly wasn't a backyard dog that I threw a bone to now and then. We were usually together 24 hours a day. He always had to be leaning against me at night and during the day always had to at least have his paw or chin resting on me in the truck. When I was sad, he was quiet. When I was happy, he was too. He knew me almost better than a human could have and I knew him almost better than I know myself.

Blue leaning on Dave

Well, I knew that our friendship couldn't last forever and I dreaded the day that I would have to give him back to the earth. I hated the thought of it and hate it even more now. Blue passed away January 7th, 2008. That day was rough to say the least.

God knew it would be hard for me if I had been left alone in this world, so He blessed me with the warm comfort of my beautiful wife and 6 month old baby girl. They didn't make it any easier, but they sure were a blessed comfort. He didn't suffer and he ate well until the end, but he had cancer in his lungs and so just coughed continuously. On the last day, he couldn't lay down so I took him in. The drive to the vet was the toughest one hour drive of my life. I don't even know how I drove it, but he sat next to me silently staring at the highway ahead, just like always. My heart ached then and it still does.

Blue got his start in New Mexico and so I knew that that was where he needed to rest. I wanted him to be near the river that he had played in for so many hours and out in the desert where we had squandered days and days away together.

So, I took him way way out into the desert across the Rio Grande and buried him atop a tall bluff overlooking the the river. It was a solid place where he would have a good view and no one would bother him. A very fitting and honoring place to say goodbye to that dear friend of mine.

Blue at Lago Cuitzeo

Dogs in Heaven?

My dad tells the story of a teary eyed little girl who showed up to church just after her beloved dog had died. The pastor heard about it and so went to talk with her. The little girl told him what had happened and then asked, "Will my dog be in Heaven"? The pastor said, "Sweetheart, if it takes your dog being in Heaven for you to be happy, then he'll be there." I believe there is some truth in that. King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, wrote about animals having a spirit and that it goes somewhere.

In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, God teaches us that the present universe in which we live will go away and will be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth. God also says that He will make all things new. For these reasons, I believe it to be a definite possibility that our pets will be made new and that those who are children of God will be reunited with them.

My Favorite True Dog Loyalty Story

In Edinburgh, Scotland 1856, wherever Auld Jock (John Gray) went, his best friend, Bobby, followed close behind. In just a few short years, the two developed quite a friendship as constant companions. In 1858 Auld Jock fell ill with tuberculosis and died, leaving Bobby all alone in the world.

He was buried at Greyfriar's Kirkyard cemetery with nobody but the gravedigger and his faithful furry companion, Bobby, attending the funeral. There was a ban on dogs entering the cemetery and despite efforts to prevent him, Bobby would find a way to sit next to Auld Jock every day.

During 1867, it looked like for a while that Bobby, without an owner, would be taken off the streets and be put to sleep. Thankfully, Edinburgh's Lord Provost, Sir William Chambers stepped in and paid for Bobby's dog license renewal, to which he became a ward of the city's council.

For 14 years, Bobby could be found at his best friend's gravesite. To sustain him during his long vigils at the cemetery, he would receive a meal daily at 1 p.m. at the Greyfriar's Dining Room. In 1872, when Bobby died, he was buried beside the grave of his adored Auld Jock, having been awarded ‘Freeman of the City' status. Having touched the hearts of all who knew him and his plight to watch over Auld Jock, Greyfriars Bobby was the only dog ever to have been awarded this.

The Scotsman newspaper archives reveal the obituary of a Skye Terrier on January 17th, 1872 and a statue was erected in his honor. Upon it reads, "Greyfriars Bobby. Died 14th January 1872 aged 16 years old. Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all."

What a day it will be when I see Blue again, dear friend of mine.

Mass364? The Streak Ends

As I've posted previously, I've been on a project -- a religious pilgrimage of sorts -- to attend Mass every day this year. (Mass365). Since December 31, 2008 I've attended Mass every single day. (Actually, come to think of it -- last weekend I attended Mass at least THREE times. Hmmm.) Well the streak (if I can refer to the project in such a non-serious and profane manner) has come to an end. I did not get to Mass today at all. It wasn't for lack of trying. Or simple laziness -- though I probably could've planned a bit better. You see, I spent nearly all day at the Church of Madelene helping my wife with her Pre-Cana class and conducting two of the several presentations to the attendees. That took my time from early morning until nearly 5 o'clock. And since we had to be in Owasso for my youngest son's Cub Scout pack's Blue and Gold Banquet at 5:30 p.m., I ended up in a quandary. Dropping the family off at the Lutheran church where the banquet was beginning, I high-tailed it north toward Collinsville's St. Therese' of Lisieux shrine for what I thought was a 5:30 p.m. Mass. On the way up US 169, I called the parish only to find out that the Mass had started at 5 p.m. -- not 5:30 as previously thought. That meant that I would not arrive until nearly 5:45 p.m., and surely the Mass would be over by that time. I could've made it back to North Tulsa for the Byzantine rite which began at 6 p.m., but that would've meant missing Cam's Blue and Gold entirely. What to do? I thought about it, but the more I thought of it, the more I decided that Jesus would rather me sacrifice my project for the sake of my son's banquet. After all, the 365 days of Mass was probably more a testament to my tendency toward OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) tendencies, than true piety truth be told. In the end, the banquet was nice (though those faux-Native American pagan "ceremonies" always creep me out a little). Sigh. Lord have mercy on me. Oh well ... beginning tomorrow? Mass 364! Technically, I've still been to mass at least once per day, anyway. Watch this space for more shocking revelations of personal failure!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mass365: Ash Wednesday

And so it begins - Ash Wednesday, the first day of our Lenten season of fasting and penance. On this day (and Good Friday also) Roman Catholics 14 through 60 are obliged under pain of sin to fast and abstain from meat.
Ash Wednesday is also the day each year when Catholics receive the mark of Jesus Christ - a cross - on their foreheads, causing their non-Catholic friends and colleagues to do double-takes all day long. The usual greeting begins, "Did you know you've got something on your ....?" (You'd think you'd get used to it, but after a short dozen years as a Catholic, I haven't.)
Contrary to common opinion, although the fast and abstinence are mandatory, Mass attendance is not this day, i.e., it's not a holy day of obligation like Easter and Christmas. That doesn't stop millions upon millions who do not normally attend Mass during the week from showing up this day.
That was certainly the case today at Holy Family Cathedral, where Mass was celebrated by our wonderful orthodox bishop His Excellency Edward Slattery. The cathedral was overflowing -- in fact, there was literally no room to add anyone else. I've only seen it that full one other time -- when the monks at Clear Creek were there for Solemn Vespers a couple of years ago.
In addition to the beautiful liturgy -- full of the highest, and most solemn hymns of the Church -- Bishop Slattery surprised me by performing the Mass "ad orientem" (literally "to the East") -- the traditional way of facing the altar instead of the congregation. I'd noticed when I came in that the free-standing altar where the New Mass is normally celebrated, was covered with special linens and set up with the traditional six beeswax candles -- a throwback to the pre-Vatican II rubrics of the Mass -- and wondered whether this meant the Mass would be celebrated ad orientem. ("Can it be?" I thought to myself.) Yes, it was. And it was very moving and dignified.
I'm sure that not everyone there understood what this meant, but I did and I thank God for the opportunity to see this solemn celebration conducted with such dignity and grace as it should be. (Deo gratias.) I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but once more I am forced by charity to acknowledge what a wonderful bishop we have (and thanks also to Msgr. Patrick Brankin - who was no doubt instrumental in arranging this.) We are fortunate beyond measure here in the Diocese of Tulsa.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shrove Tuesday: Gateway to Lent

Here's a great video for Lent that I picked up from an Anglican (!) priest's website (Fr. Bosco Peters @ http://www.liturgy.co.nz/blog/ - Thanks, Father!) :

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bonum, Verum, Pulchrum: Solemn Vespers at Holy Family Cathedral

We have so much to be thankful for in the Diocese of Tulsa. Our good bishop, the Rev. Edward Slattery, together with Monsignor Patrick Brankin and a stable full of pious and holy priests, has done much to restore the proper dignity and beauty to the liturgy here. One example of that is the Solemn High Vespers held at the Cathedral on the last Sunday of every month. Here's a video taken in August 2008. (Fast forward to the 2:10 mark for the opening hymn, Tantum Ergo.) I was privileged (and refreshed) once again to attend this very evening with my eldest son. It capped off a weekend which began with the sublime beauty of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy Saturday evening, continued with the subdued and reverent grace of the low Tridentine Mass this afternoon and concluded with the new Mass at the Newman Center (for my son's weekly obligation) after vespers. I am so thankful that I live where I live and for all that God has allowed me to experience. Deo gratias!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Neil Postman: Five Things We Need to Know About Technology

A friend forwarded an amazing essay by the late Neil Postman, written before the millennium, regarding technological change and the pitfalls associated with it. ("Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change"). Postman, who wrote the book Amusing Ourselves to Death was no piker when it came to thinking critically about technology and its deleterious effects on us. This is a topic which fascinates me, of course. (Postman manages to quote one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament Book of Micah (6:8), and the motto I adopted for my law practice, along the way.) He wrote: Neil Postman: Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change Good morning your Eminences and Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen. The theme of this conference, "The New Technologies and the Human Person: Communicating the Faith in the New Millennium," suggests, of course, that you are concerned about what might happen to faith in the new millennium, as well you should be. In addition to our computers, which are close to having a nervous breakdown in anticipation of the year 2000, there is a great deal of frantic talk about the 21st century and how it will pose for us unique problems of which we know very little but for which, nonetheless, we are supposed to carefully prepare. Everyone seems to worry about this--business people, politicians, educators, as well as theologians. At the risk of sounding patronizing, may I try to put everyone's mind at ease? I doubt that the 21st century will pose for us problems that are more stunning, disorienting or complex than those we faced in this century, or the 19th, 18th, 17th, or for that matter, many of the centuries before that. But for those who are excessively nervous about the new millennium, I can provide, right at the start, some good advice about how to confront it. The advice comes from people whom we can trust, and whose thoughtfulness, it's safe to say, exceeds that of President Clinton, Newt Gingrich, or even Bill Gates. Here is what Henry David Thoreau told us: "All our inventions are but improved means to an unimproved end." Here is what Goethe told us: "One should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." Socrates told us: "The unexamined life is not worth living." Rabbi Hillel told us: "What is hateful to thee, do not do to another." And here is the prophet Micah: "What does the Lord require of thee but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God." And I could say, if we had the time, (although you know it well enough) what Jesus, Isaiah, Mohammad, Spinoza, and Shakespeare told us. It is all the same: There is no escaping from ourselves. The human dilemma is as it has always been, and it is a delusion to believe that the technological changes of our era have rendered irrelevant the wisdom of the ages and the sages. Nonetheless, having said this, I know perfectly well that because we do live in a technological age, we have some special problems that Jesus, Hillel, Socrates, and Micah did not and could not speak of. I do not have the wisdom to say what we ought to do about such problems, and so my contribution must confine itself to some things we need to know in order to address the problems. I call my talk Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change. I base these ideas on my thirty years of studying the history of technological change but I do not think these are academic or esoteric ideas. They are to the sort of things everyone who is concerned with cultural stability and balance should know and I offer them to you in the hope that you will find them useful in thinking about the effects of technology on religious faith. First Idea The first idea is that all technological change is a trade-off. I like to call it a Faustian bargain. Technology giveth and technology taketh away. This means that for every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage. The disadvantage may exceed in importance the advantage, or the advantage may well be worth the cost. Now, this may seem to be a rather obvious idea, but you would be surprised at how many people believe that new technologies are unmixed blessings. You need only think of the enthusiasms with which most people approach their understanding of computers. Ask anyone who knows something about computers to talk about them, and you will find that they will, unabashedly and relentlessly, extol the wonders of computers. You will also find that in most cases they will completely neglect to mention any of the liabilities of computers. This is a dangerous imbalance, since the greater the wonders of a technology, the greater will be its negative consequences. Think of the automobile, which for all of its obvious advantages, has poisoned our air, choked our cities, and degraded the beauty of our natural landscape. Or you might reflect on the paradox of medical technology which brings wondrous cures but is, at the same time, a demonstrable cause of certain diseases and disabilities, and has played a significant role in reducing the diagnostic skills of physicians. It is also well to recall that for all of the intellectual and social benefits provided by the printing press, its costs were equally monumental. The printing press gave the Western world prose, but it made poetry into an exotic and elitist form of communication. It gave us inductive science, but it reduced religious sensibility to a form of fanciful superstition. Printing gave us the modern conception of nationhood, but in so doing turned patriotism into a sordid if not lethal emotion. We might even say that the printing of the Bible in vernacular languages introduced the impression that God was an Englishman or a German or a Frenchman--that is to say, printing reduced God to the dimensions of a local potentate. Perhaps the best way I can express this idea is to say that the question, "What will a new technology do?" is no more important than the question, "What will a new technology undo?" Indeed, the latter question is more important, precisely because it is asked so infrequently. One might say, then, that a sophisticated perspective on technological change includes one's being skeptical of Utopian and Messianic visions drawn by those who have no sense of history or of the precarious balances on which culture depends. In fact, if it were up to me, I would forbid anyone from talking about the new information technologies unless the person can demonstrate that he or she knows something about the social and psychic effects of the alphabet, the mechanical clock, the printing press, and telegraphy. In other words, knows something about the costs of great technologies. Idea Number One, then, is that culture always pays a price for technology. Go here to finish the (somewhat lengthy) essay: 5 Things See also, my earlier post on the same subject matter: Thoughts about Technology

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mass365

So it was New Year's Eve and we were at Mass at the Church of the Madelene for Mass. I had been thinking about New Year's resolutions (see my earlier "Ten Resolutions" post) and then it came to me: how wonderful it would be to go to Mass every day in the new year -- 365 days of Mass. As a sometimes traditionalist Catholic, I have in the past been given over to a certain critical view of the state of the Catholic church. To be sure, that criticism has been moderated in recent years - partly because I began to go to daily Mass (not every day) at the Novus Ordo mass downtown, close to my law office. It was the experience of praying and worshiping with a group of obviously holy people -- daily Mass attendees are there, of course, because they want to be -- that began to change my theretofore Pharisaical view of the new Mass. These people, the same ones over and over again, seemed oblivious to the many obvious (to me, anyway) deficiencies of the Novus Ordo. They just seemed to want to be there and receive Christ. Over time, that experience had a wonderfully moderating effect on me. No longer did I immediately assume that my fellow Catholics who attended the Novus Ordo were stupid or ignorant of the important issues of the Church, and I eventually came to realize that people who attend the new Mass were not necessarily irreligious. Clearly they were not lacking in piety. Their good example thus brought me back to the realization of the holy effect of the Sacrifice of the Mass -- whether it is conducting in English or Latin. Anyway, it was against this backdrop that I found myself at Mass New Year's Eve, and inspiration struck. How interesting would it be to chronicle the effect of going to Mass for 365 days in a row - an entire year of daily Mass. I'd never attempted anything like it before - in fact, I was on a roll if I could make it two days in row. Later the additional idea occurred of blogging about the experience, and still later - actually going to Mass at every parish in the Diocese of Tulsa. And so that's what I've been doing ever since. This is obviously an introductory post, but watch this space for discussion of what I found at Madelene, at Holy Family Cathedral, and at St. Joseph's Vietnamese Catholic Church -- all in Tulsa proper. I've got a good feeling about this project. Join me as I experience the sacrifice of the Mass every day this year. This is going to be good.

Twittering our brains out

It's approaching a cliche' at this point, but there's a growing consensus that all this electronic communication may be having a deleterious effect on our attention spans. (Gee, ya think?) I know that I have recently discovered Twitter - the microblogging internet app that connects people through text message entries (micro-blog entries) that ostensibly answer the question: "What are you doing right now?" Twitter has rapidly grown from its inception in 2006 to a point where a new Pew Research poll indicates a full 11% of internet users regularly use Twitter, or a similar app. It's much more than merely text messaging, of course, but that's beside the point. Anyway, here's an article from Wired which questions whether or not all this instant communication is having a nasty effect. FBC Digital Overload Is Frying Our Brains By Brandon Keim February 06, 2009 | 5:41:37 PM http://preview.tinyurl.com/dl837w

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sts. Peter & Paul Coptic Church, Bixby OK

One of my clients -- a very impressive young man -- is a deacon for this Coptic Church. How cool to see this Tulsa World slideshow of their ancient liturgy. Very reminiscent of the Byzantine rite that I occasionally attend in the Chapel of the Theotokos (St. Athanasius, located at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Tulsa.) Check it out:http://tinyurl.com/dznrc7

US Airways Hudson River Crash - Demo from LegalTech Conference

US Airways Hudson River Crash from Dan Nunan on Vimeo. Very cool demo of crash recreation software from LegalTech Conference this week.

Islands of Ease in chaos of life

Leo Babauta is a blogger who regularly posts about productivity and related items at his Zen Habits blog (http://www.zenhabits.net). Leo is also a practioner of Zen Buddhism and the blog blends this Eastern practice into some very helpful insights about being productive and maintaining a sense of peace while doing so. He recently welcomed a guest poster, Mary Jaksch/GoodlifeZEN blog -- and another Zen practitioner -- who writes on how to maintain "islands of ease" among the chaos of daily life. I don't share their religion, of course, but I do recommend the articles. A more Christocentric practice, but one along the same lines, is the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner." Very powerful; highly recommended. Go here for a look at the article: http://tinyurl.com/cn7gdt

Sunday, February 01, 2009

What's this Twitter thing I keep hearing about?

I've got a new toy: Twitter.com -- go watch the video for an explanation. It's very cool, but it takes a little while to "get it". (From the Common Craft Show, "Twitter in Plain English".)