A Brief U.S. History of Corporate Whining

Heh. Before you get your dander up, turn red in the face trying to scare me with the facts of the imminent demise of all that is right and true about the American Way, I’ve got one word for Corporate America: quitcherbellyachin’.

And Wall Street firms: Don’t even think about lowering executive compensation or bonuses. That’s unconscionable. Instead, lay off the cannon fodder, make the remaining folks count paper clips, drink smaller cups of coffee, and stop using their company provided cell phones (and stuff like that) first.

And one more thing (or close to a dozen),

Warren Quote
Created by: Online MBA Programs

That is all.

Update: Thoughts on the Economy, Catholic and Not.

For All the Saints: Francis of Assisi, Deacon

It’s the feast of St. Francis of Assisi today, in case you didn’t notice. True story: My grandfather was a Catholic and his name was Francis too, and he was named after the fellow you’ll be reading about below. As it happens, that is also how I came to be named, but the Catholic connotation of that Christian name lay dormant for some great length time. My grandfather died, see, when I was a wee tot and my memories of him bear no mark of his (and now my) religion at all.

Dipping into my favorite electronic library, I came across this little review of “Mrs. Oliphant’s” Life of St. Francis in an English journal called “The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science, and Art.” Wow, they don’t write journals with titles like that anymore! Now, I have no idea who the author of the following thoughts is, but the introductory paragraphs of the essay below start with the chagrin St. Francis causes amongst our non-Catholic Christian brethren. Because there really is no one closer to St. Francis in devotion to Christ, than perhaps the Blessed Virgin herself.

Looking for a Catholic who took the gospels literally? You’ve found him. These thoughts were penned in the Year of Our Lord 1872, or about half a heartbeat ago in the cosmic scheme of things. Have a look,

from a review of The Life of St. Francis

The Franciscan Order met a crying want of the age which the older religious communities failed to satisfy. But there is nothing to show that Francis had any such conscious purpose in originating it. From first to last he was the child of impulse, but of impulses which were always benevolent, generous, and devout. “He thought little of himself, even of his own soul to be saved;” his one idea and master-passion was how best to work for God and to help men.

The first murmurs were already beginning to be heard of the great democratic movement which has since overspread Europe, and the feudal system, still surviving in full force, was more and more felt to be an oppressive burden on the poor. Nor was the only power that could then act as a counterpoise itself irreproachable. There was a very general outcry against the pride of a wealthy and dominant hierarchy accused of caring more for its own aggrandizement than for the souls of men. And that cry had taken shape in strange forms of heresy, old and new, which threatened social as well as ecclesiastical order, and which Church and State—so far as the two can then be distinguished—were banded together to trample out with ruthless and indiscriminate severity.

But the Church, if she was to retain her moral supremacy, required a machinery which could convince as well as crush; there was needed a popular ministry to satisfy the wants of popular devotion, and a popular theology to meet on its own ground the advances of popular heresy. And this was the double work which Francis, however unconsciously, was destined to accomplish, though he might have seemed from his antecedents about the unlikeliest man in Europe for the purpose.

In the little city of Assisi, which lies beneath the Eastern slope of the Umbrian Apennines, there lived a worthy merchant, Pietro Bernadone di Mericoni by name, to whom was born in 1182 a son named Francesco, and known among his companions by the common Italian sobriquet of Cecco. The boy grew up to be the pride of his parents, the spoiled child of fortune, the darling of society, the idol of a glittering circle of youthful friends, gayest among the gay, of singular personal beauty, fascinating manners, and brilliant but genial wit.

At the age of twenty he was struck down by a severe illness, and from that hour is dated his “conversion—from a life of carelessness, not apparently of vice—the first result of which was his joining, in obedience to a dream, the army of the “Gentle Count” “Walter of Brienne, in the strife of Guelph against Ghibelline. But a second dream turned him back at Spoleto, and for a time he resumed his old life, but not in the old spirit. “Why so grave, Francis?” said his wondering companions; “are you going to be married?” The question suggested the reply: “I am; and my bride is—Poverty.”

Those strange nuptials have been immortalized by the greatest of French orators and of Italian poets, and the pencil of Giotto has familiarized to our eyes what the glowing words of Bossuet and Dante have made musical to our ears. The events which followed in rapid succession must be briefly dismissed here. In obedience to another vision Francis undertook to rebuild the little church of St. Damiano, outside the walls of Assisi, and incurred the fierce anger of his father, who had already been sorely troubled by his eccentricities, by selling some of his bales of cloth for the purpose. He was seized as a lunatic, and imprisoned for several months in his own home.

At length, after signing a renunciation of his patrimony, and stripping off his costly garments, he went forth, homeless and friendless, like the patriarch of old, forgetting his own people and his father’s house, and not knowing whither he went. But he now remembered an incident which had occurred some time previously, and had deeply impressed him. He had met a leper near Assisi, and, conquering his natural disgust, had sprung from his horse and embraced him. Those who know the peculiar care bestowed by the Church of that age on these unhappy outcasts, whom Christ, according to the Vulgate reading of Isaiah’s prophecy, had made types of Himself, will not wonder at the sequel. The seeming leper vanished, to appear again to Francis in a dream; for it was indeed none other than the Divine Sufferer of whom the prophet spoke.

To the lepers’ hospital at Assisi accordingly Francis now betook himself, and thence he came forth to supplicate alms to rebuild the church of St. Damiano, and another church outside the city formerly dedicated to St. Peter, but now restored under the name of La Portiuncola, or Our Lady of the Angels, and which is still the central home of the Franciscan Order.

The time for establishing that Order had now come. We must pass over the touching story of the conversion of his two first companions, Bernardo di Quintavalle and Pietro di Catania, who settled in a little hut on the plains of Assisi to form the first nucleus of the new community. In a few weeks the numbers had increased to twelve, and already Francis heard in spirit “the tread of multitudes”—French, Spaniards, English, Germans—thronging to join them. He traced out a cross on the ground stretching to the four points of the compass, and despatched his little band in four companies on their mission of mercy to the bodies and souls of men.

The Order was now formed, but it had no legalized existence, and the members were simple laymen. Francis, therefore, who was no “nonconformist,” but a devoted son of the Church, resolved in Izio to repair to Rome, and ask for the sanction of the Pope. Innocent III., whom he and his companions found pacing at sunset along the stately terraces of the Lateran, looked with amazement on these strange visitors, in their rough shepherd’s dress, and remanded them till the morning.

That night, we are told, he dreamt, like the Syrian King of old, of a palm-tree which rose beneath his feet, and its branches stretched over the earth, and the weary and world-worn from every nation came to repose beneath its shade. And again he dreamed that the great Lateran Church was falling to the ground, and was propped up by the poor beggar in big brown shepherd’s dress who had stood before him the previous evening. He hesitated no longer, and, in spite of the remonstrances of his cardinals, dismissed his visitors with his blessing and a solemn, though as yet unwritten, approbation of their stern rule of poverty.

That went something like this,

The return of Francis to Assisi was like a triumphal procession. Bells were rung and litanies chanted, and crowds came forth to meet him, and the church of the Portiuncola was at once formally made over to him. The conversion of St. Clare soon followed, and the Church of St. Damiano was assigned to the female community of Poor Clares, the “Second Order” of Franciscans, instituted under her rule.

And now Francis, who but two or three years before had been hooted as a madman through the streets of his native city, was preaching in the cathedral, though only a deacon, to enraptured crowds, who hung upon his every word. We must pass rapidly over the first General Chapter of the Order, the second journey of Francis to Rome to obtain a fuller confirmation of the rule from Honorius HL, and his meeting there with St. Dominic, when the founders of the rival Orders vowed before the altar an eternal friendship, to note his first acquaintance with Cardinal Ugolino, afterwards Pope Gregory IX., who remained ever afterwards the warm friend and patron of Francis and his community.

St. Francis, pray for us.

Good News: Flights Booked for Nagasaki!

Ian Higgins writes about the progress being made on completing the film All That Remains, (thanks to the generosity of readers like you).

Flights are now booked for Nagasaki! We’ll be flying out on November 22nd and arrive on the 23rd. In the meantime we’ve got plenty to organise as it’s going to be pretty full on when we get there with all the interviews and location shots we want to get. Meanwhile, we’ll be releasing the trailer for the animated short, 26 Martyrs in a couple of weeks so keep looking for that!

A few days back, we also received some words of encouragement from Baron Alton of Liverpool, who wrote a great article on Dr. Nagai for the Catholic Universe newspaper. Lord Alton said, “I wanted to congratulate you on an excellent initiative. Dr.Nagai’s story is deeply moving and affecting and deserves to be told to a much wider audience in the manner you envisage”

You can read the article online at Lord Alton’s blog.

Don’t forget to keep spreading the word (tell as many people as you can about this project), we need all the help we can get in order to do justice to the story of Dr. Nagai and the Christian heritage of Nagasaki.

We’ve also just launched our All That Remains blog page which will act as a production diary, so we’ll post more in-depth updates, more behind the scenes glimpses etc. The blog will continue to run for the entire length of the production.

That is great news to hear! While I’ve got your attention, I’m noticing that a thick layer of dust has gathered on the $65 sitting in the jar over yonder ===>>>. Do me a solid and pretend the deadline is tomorrow, ok? Throw ‘em some baksheesh in there, and pronto, so Ian and the crew can a) eat and b) finish the project on time.

Thankee kindly!

Ziggy Stardust + SRV = An Awesome Near Miss (Music for Mondays)

I’ve always liked David Bowie, even when I couldn’t stand to look at him at times. The Ziggy Stardust look was interesting, no? But man, Space Oddity is great, and so is Suffragette City, We Could Be Heroes, Jean Genie and lots, lots more. Bowie was looking for a new sound in the early 1980′s and he stumbled upon a blues guitarist who caught his ear at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1982. Stevie Ray, needing to eat, signed on with Bowie and cut the album, though later he opted out of touring to promote it.

My second SRV album

The album that resulted was released in 1983 and was called Let’s Dance. When it hit the airwaves, I remember hearing Modern Love on the radio and liking it. I didn’t really get to listen to the whole album, you know, with head phones the size of Mission Control headset, until I was in Cairo in late 1984. When I did, I remember wondering, who the heck is this guitar player? He’s got a great sound!

So Let’s Dance was also my very first Stevie Ray Vaughn album. The first of many. How good was Stevie Ray Vaugh? Six Grammys good. What follows are some of my favorite SRV-heavy tracks from this album and a bonus track from a practice session for the Serious Moonlight Tour that Stevie opted out of. It turned out not to have been a career killing idea. We’ll go in order of each songs appearance on the album.

Modern Love.  Whoa, I thought to myself, who is this cat on guitar? And come to think of it, I think “modern love” stinks too. Though I had never met it personally myself, I preferred the idea of “old fashioned” love. So I liked this tune from the very beginning.

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China Girl. Co-written with Iggy Pop (who recorded it in 1977), it’s a neat little story song that Stevie Ray’s blues guitar style brings up a notch, or two. The original video is a cool little short film too, complete with From Here to Eternity scenes in the surf, etc. I couldn’t find the longer album version though. It’s gone from YouTube forever, I reckon. This one cuts SRV’s solo to almost nothing. Pity.

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Let’s Dance.  Now we’re cooking! The original album version with all of its jazziness, percussion filled back beats, and, of course, the unfettered SRV blues guitar, for your listening pleasure. Stevie Ray shows he learned a thing or two from producer Nile Rodgers with his guitar playing style here. By this time, I was searching the cassette tape liner notes for the name of the lead guitarist. For the full MTV effect, go check out the little short film on materialism and its dubious benefits here.  Otherwise, stay here and go long!

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Criminal World. On this track, Bowie covers a tune with fairly dark lyrics. Guess what else? He really lets Stevie Ray spread his wings here. Go get ‘em blues man! He really gets going at the fade into the end. That’s ok, because he picks it up on the next song where this one leaves off.

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Cat People (Putting Out Fire). The first hit on the album was actually the first single released in conjunction with a film of the same title in 1982. Remember Nastassja Kinski? I hope she settled down and had a happy marriage and a lot of kids. Don’t ruin the dream with facts, please. Anyway, he re-cut it with Stevie Ray’s take on it. SRV shines here too, and I remember thinking that the drummer is very gifted too.

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Jean Genie. Stevie Ray Vaugh never toured with David Bowie, though that was the original plan after the studio album was cut. For an idea of how the Serious Moonlight Tour would have sounded like with SRV on the lead guitar, check this out. It’s from the practice session recordings leading up to the tour. The visuals here are awful, but the music? Raucous!

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That’s a print! Say a prayer for Stevie Ray’s soul (he died on August 27, 1990 at the age of 35, and today would have been his 57th birthday) and I’ll see you next time.

Breaking: Minor Miracle(s) at Casa del Weathers

So there I was, just reading the morning paper after breakfast while sipping a cup of coffee when my daughter and my youngest son came tumbling down the stairs to share with me some miraculous news. My daughter’s report went something like this:

“Dad, the most amazing thing happened! I was reading the Bible in my room (extends her right hand clutching the Bible above), and Mom popped into my room with a messenger bag(?) from a trip we took like 3 years ago and guess what we found inside?”

What Sweet Pea?

“My Pokemon Sapphire game!” Bubbling over with excitement and extends her left hand showing me the precious game chip.

So you think that reading the Bible this morning and this find were related?

“Well, yeah!” she says in the manner that I usually hear the expression “duh” in instead of “yeah.” Does that make sense, dear reader? Anyway,

Well hey darlin’, that’s neat! What book and chapter were you reading?

“Well, I started in Sirach reading about what happens to liars and stuff (see Sirach 28:13-15). Then I was reading about Noah and the Ark in Genesis.”

Really? Wow…a miracle it is then! See? Like I’ve always said, reading the Bible is a very good thing. You know, I was just telling your little brother about what St. James writes about the trouble our tongues can get us into too. Keep reading darlin’!

And then I put away the paper and got ready to witness another miracle at Mass, where I thanked God for these minor miracles too.

For All the Saints: Thérèse of Lisieux, The Sincere Lover of Christ

The Little Flower lying on her bed of thorns

 

It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by, but it’s the Little Flower’s Feast Day again. This time last year, I shared a post in which Thérèse was likened to, and bettered, both Confucius and Lao Tzu. And now, as then, I turn to thoughts on her penned by my friend John C.H. Wu. [Read more...]

I Hate It When This Happens! (Friday Funnies)

Cut it OUT! Sheeeeeeeeeeesh! Now I have to install a cloaking device. Do you have any idea how much that will cost?! I’m going to take that out of your allowance Boy Wonder.

Now sit there and listen to this song on You Tube. But …I’m grounding you from Facebook, Mister!

H/T Jean Elizabeth Seah.

Pray For Anu Garg? You Betcha!

Remember me and my pal Anu Garg? We went around the block a few times. Well unlike all the other times I’ve posted about him and his A.Word.A.Day website, this time my hat is off to him. Maybe caught wind of today’s readings.

Whatever the reason, in a string unmatched in my memory every single one of the words featured on his list this week had a trademark Thought of the Day that could be appreciated by believers as well as atheists. Amazing grace!

Maybe Anu is starting to come around? I don’t know. He’s gone on record as an atheist (I believe), and as being skeptical about religion. I think it’s safe to say he’s an agnostic. But maybe he’s a seeker in disguise? Weren’t /aren’t we all?

His theme for this week has been eponyms and you can check them all out here. But I’ll share their accompanying Thought of the Day quotes from his current selections here.

Monday: This one’s a home run. If God put one person on this earth (besides Christ Himself) who can convert the skeptics of the world, this is the fellow. My buddy Blaise!

We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others. -Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)

You got that right, Anu. Thanks for noticing!

Tuesday: This one’s a double, if not a triple. I don’t know what Galbraith’s religious persuasions were. I know many dub him as a Liberal economist, but I appreciate the great (and prophetic) book he wrote titled The Great Crash. Reading it as a young stock broker prepared me for the storm we have lived through recently. They say history doesn’t repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes. Qoheleth knows.

Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. -John Kenneth Galbraith, economist (1908-2006)

Ain’t that the truth?!

Wednesday: Another triple, but with fewer words. I don’t know John Ruskin from John D. Rockefeller, but truer words were never written than these,

When a man is wrapped up in himself he makes a pretty small package. -John Ruskin, author, art critic, and social reformer (1819-1900)

Thursday: Probably a single, but keep in mind that Anu is 4 for 4 so far in his appearences at the plate. We have a genuine streak going on here with this quote. I think he knocked in an RBI with this one too. My buddy Qoheleth agrees.

Time has a wonderful way of weeding out the trivial. -Richard Ben Sapir, novelist (1936-1987)

Friday: Woke up this morning, and what did I see? This kernel of wisdom from a good (and holy) Pharisee! Short, sweet, but a walk-off grand slam for the win (FTW!).

Be the master of your will and the slave of your conscience. -Hasidic saying

Anu? How’d these good seeds get mixed in with the weeds? A minor miracle perhaps? I’m starting to see our relationship with a clearer eye, and in a whole ‘nother light. See you next week mon ami, and I’ll be praying for you and your readers brother.

This calls for a song! Deacon Scott Dodge and I are on the same wavelength,

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The Church And New Media by Brandon Vogt (A Book Review)

About ten years ago, (Hmm…let me check my archives), no scratch that, about a year and a half ago (sheesh, it seems like ten years!) I was hosting the YIMCatholic Bookclub selection The Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc. Looking for ways to get readers involved (a “new media” hallmark, no?) I asked for volunteers to cover several of “Old Thunders” chapters for me.

You know, like my wife does with her bookclub in our neighborhood. For the most part, folks were lined up none deep. But in the case of chapter 5, an earnest volunteer surfaced by the name of Brandon Vogt. He was a great helper, once I let him get a word in edgewise.

You know? This guy
needs to grow a beard!

Who knew what he was up too then? I reckon Our Sunday Visitor and God knew, but not me. Maybe it was 4 or 6 weeks later when I saw on Brandon’s blog that he had signed a book contract with OSV. I thought to myself “Huh? Wow…this guy is on a mission!” And he surely was, and still is. A mission to spread the Word by any means possible. And to not be shy about using new forms of information technology to get that done.

Before going any further I’m going to say that this book belongs in every parish as a reference book. Period! If your parish office doesn’t have this book sitting right next to the computer, they are (as aviators would say) flying upside down without instruments and don’t even know it. That’s serious!

Brandon has teased awesome essays from all sorts of knowledgeable folks while putting together this gem. A veritable Who’s Who of Catholic bloggers (Jennifer Fulwiler, Mark Shea, Marcel LeJuene, Taylor Marshall, I think I got all the Aggies in there, etc.) and other creators of new media (Fr. Robert Barron, Matthew Warner, Tom Peters) share their insights on new media channels while also offering best practices in how to use these technologies to not only evangelize better, but to help people experience our Church better. And Brandon ties the whole thing together with interesting tidbits as diverse as relevant Conciliar documents to reviews of Catholic websites that are on the web currently.

But lest you get the idea that this is some dry, boring, reference book destined to only gather dust in the parish offices of the world, let me assure you that it is not. You need to read the book too, see, whether you are a creator of new media for the Church, or just Joe and Jane Six-Pack, “average pewsitter.” Why? Because Catholics are called to do more than just show up at Mass on Sundays and this book will give you ideas on how to more effectively engage in the calling you are destined for: to spread the Good News to the world by any means necessary. This book is chock full of actionable ideas for accomplishing the mission of the Church. This may even be your ticket to figuring out your own calling too.

But don’t just take my word on how solid a resource this book is. I’m a lilliputian compared to the folks weighing in on the value of this book. And I reckon I’m the last guy to review the book too. Just have a gander at the number of reviews over at The Church and New Media’s Facebook page. Or check out it’s Twitter feed. Did I mention the book’s website? Oh, you want to see the trailer?

Survey says: It’s a Go!

Seriously, Brandon has practiced what he is preaching by getting the word out about this book via every known channel of the “new media” that is available. Heck, he’s an engineer too so he’s probably developing some new channel in his off time as we speak. Did I mention all of the royalties from the sale of this book go towards establishing computer labs for the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya?

Bravo Zulu Brandon! Thanks for writing and editing this helpful, important, nay, necessary book and for convincing all these great folks on the importance of sharing their ideas with the rest of us on how to bring the Good News to the many.

When New Media Users Meet the Christ…

They will actually have to do more than just “friend” Him. The poster above says that in a nutshell, doesn’t it? An encounter with Christ doesn’t demand that you do more…you just want to do more. H/T Brandon Vogt (whose book review will be posted this evening…promise!).

Update: Remember this? Seems like 10 years ago!


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