Sep 29, 2006

Apples to Eat, Bake, and Dry

The last couple of days I've visited three liquor stores. No, not to partake of their bottled and canned beverages, but to get the heavy boxes. They are good for storing apples between sheets of newspaper and they don't cost anything.

The grandkids love apples. Yesterday I cut and peeled some for one of the littlest ones, and she came back for more. Even though she is little, she helped her two older sisters to make apple strudle. My Grandma taught me how to pull the dough made with flour, eggs, butter, and water. She used no recipe, so I had to find one on the web.

Once I added the word "rest" to "strudle" in my search, I came up with a suitable recipe. "Rest" refers to the minimum 30 minute period the dough has to sit undisturbed. Something important happens to the dough when it rests--it becomes very stretchable. The oldest granddaughter spent 10 minutes kneading the dough and said her hands were tired. We had forgotten the butter, so it was slowly added to the already kneaded dough and I had to knead ten minutes before the dough was allowed to rest.

The two oldest granddaughters and I peeled and sliced apples, and sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cinnamon were added. All three granddaughters and I rolled the dough on a floured cloth to as thin as we could we get it, but it wanted to shrink back to its former size. Fingers from eight hands were gently placed under the thinned dough to pull it slowly outward to make it large and thin. [It really helps to have four people stretch the dough!]

The first batch wasn't as good as the second batch when everyone knew they had to avoid holes in the paper-thin dough. The girls got the hang of it fairly quickly (even the 3-year old), and acted as if they were having fun!

The sliced apple mixture was added next. The girls arranged the apples so the slices were only one layer deep, and then the oldest girl helped me roll the dough and slide it into the pan greased by the 3-year old. The top of the strudle was painted with egg whipped by the middle granddaughter so the strudle would have a pretty glaze when baked. Then the strudle went into the oven. When it came out it was beautiful and the girls were proud of their work.

This morning I sliced another bowl of apples and placed them in the electric dryer. Six trays of apples should be dry by tomorrow, although I will leave them in the trays for a day. They may need a little more drying if they are too thick and additional moisture comes out of them.

Sep 28, 2006

Gagging the Pope

Alison said... [in response to my recent blog on Islam]
To me Christianity is about laying down my life not the life of others. I hope that I would die for my faith but not make others die for it.
Lucetta Scaraffia writes in Chiesa that the Pope is being gagged and blackmailed in his comments on Islam. She states:
the dramatic killing of sister Leonella Sgorbati in Somalia on Sunday, September 16, is, unfortunately, a symbolic action of great significance. This is so for two fundamental reasons. Because, in fact, even in the absence of precise assertions, this is a matter of blackmail. And because the one assassinated was a woman, and a religious woman.
Scaraffia continues:
... the memorable pages of the Japanese writer Shusaku Endo, which narrate the persecution of the Christians in Japan in the seventeenth century: some Jesuits, although they were ready to die to bear witness to their faith, were forced to commit apostasy by having the Christian country people subjected to torture before their eyes. A Christian can dispose of his own life, even to the point of martyrdom – and the countless Christian martyrs of the past century demonstrate this – but not of the lives of others: the killing and torture of other Christians paralyzes the real target of the aggressive action, it gags him, it prevents him from saying and doing what would be right for himself, until it impedes him from martyrdom.
Scaraffia believes the Muslims who kill Christians are trying to force Benedict XVI to say only what is acceptable to Islamic extremists. If not, the alternative is for Christians in Muslim countries to suffer and die.

Alison, what would you do if you were the Pope?

End of a Civilization

Interesting quotes from Bryan Ward-Perkins. Ward-Perkins is the author of The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (Oxford University Press, 2005) and winner of the 2006 Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History.
... in every single area of the empire (except perhaps the Levantine provinces conquered by the Arabs) there was an extraordinary fall in what archaeologists term “material culture.” The scale and quality of buildings, even of churches, shrank dramatically—so that, for instance, tiled roofs, which were common in Roman times even in a peasant context, became a great rarity and luxury.
It was blindingly obvious to me, working on an archaeological site like ancient Luna—where all the great Roman buildings were abandoned and torn down in the 4th and 5th centuries, to be replaced by very simple wooden houses— that something very dramatic happened at the end of the Roman world, something which can reasonably be called the “end of a civilization.”
In the 6th and 7th-century West the vast majority of people lived in tiny houses with beaten earth floors, drafty wooden walls, and insect-infested thatch roofs; whereas, in Roman times, people from the same level of society might well have enjoyed the comfort of solid brick or stone floors, mortared walls, and tiled roofs.
What is so striking about the fall of Rome is the collapse of material sophistication that ensued. This happened, I believe, precisely because the Roman world was not entirely dissimilar to our own: complex economies are very fragile because they rely on hugely sophisticated networks of production and distribution. If these are seriously disrupted, widely and over a long period of time, the entire house of cards can collapse.
...sophistication in intellectual life generally requires solid economic underpinning.
The Romans, like us, enjoyed the fruits of a complex economy, both material and intellectual. And like us, they assumed their world would go on forever.

Sep 27, 2006

Archbishop Milingo

We have not heard the rest from Archbishop Milingo. A couple of weeks ago, he met with representatives of Dan Brown, the author of The DaVinci Code, about working on a new novel and a new movie. AllAfrica News reports from Zambia:
the Catholic newspapers reported that Milingo met with representatives of Dan Brown to discuss the possibilities of working with him on a new novel about exorcisms.

In addition to his work with Brown on the new novel, Milingo is also said to have reached an agreement to collaborate with Sony Pictures in the production of a film based on Brown's earlier novel entitled 'Angels and Demons'.

Milingo and Dan Brown are scheduled to have a meeting in late September or early October at Gatwick.

Does Dan Brown have money to give AB Milingo? Probably. Will Milingo with money be in he news again. Probably. BTW, the Canon Lawyer Ed Peters explains the status of AB Milingo and discusses whether the ordinations/consecrations of four new bishops are valid.

Sep 26, 2006

Vatican Chapel vs. Padre Pio's Chapel

Sean Cardinal O'Malley has a new blog with lots and lots of pictures. Two of the more interesting photos he took on his trip to Italy are of two rooms where Mass is offered. The first picture is of a room in the residence where Cardinal Sean stayed. Although it is set up for Mass, see how plain and unCatholic it appears to be.

There are no statues, no tabernacle, only one (presumably religious) painting on a side wall, and a simple white curtain to the back. The altar appears inconsequential, too. I had to look hard to see the very small crucifix on the table.

Now compare the photo of the room in the Vatican residence with the small room where Padre Pio offered Mass. Padre Pio's room is a much more beautiful place to offer Mass, don't you agree? The small altar used by Padre Pio looks like it was made for the Mass. Also observe the lovely backlit statue of Mary above the altar, the tabernacle, a wonderfully ornate altar cloth, and the slightly raised platform of the altar. (I still don't see a crucifix, however.)

Several photos also caught my attention because they appear to show Cardinal O'Malley distributed Holy Communion on the tongues of the communicants in all five cases.

Finally, I was afraid comments would not be enabled in his blog because it is not one of the 'canned' types--that it would be all one-sided from him to us. I'm glad to see that I was wrong, and I wish the Cardinal success on his worthy endeavor.

Sep 25, 2006

Allah--The Same God as of the Christians and Jews?

Is the God of the Muslims the same God as the God of the Christians and Jews? Many people and secular newspapers believe so because all three religions proclaim the God of Abraham.

I've come to a different conclusion. Here are some of the reasons that Allah cannot be the One True God of the Christians and the Jews:

1. Allah is a violent god and requires his religion to be spread by the sword.

2. Allah is capricious, vindictive, devious, and contradictory.

3. Allah's symbols are the moon and star, representing the Carthaginian goddess Tanit or the Greek goddess Diana.

4. Allah promotes polygamy and allows divorce.

5. Allah encourages wives to be beaten, allows daughters to be subject to incest, and recommends children to be ritually abused ('thighing').

6. Allah encourages hatred for the enemies of Islam.

7. Allah requires the killing of people who reject Islam.

8. Allah does not promote love, compassion, or mercy.

9. Allah has a bordello in heaven with 72 virgins for an Islamic martyr.

10. Allah instituted pedophilia starting with Mohammed's activities with Ayesha, his child sex-slave.

11. Allah encourages non-believers to be murdered, raped, and enslaved.

12. Allah promotes the extortion of money ('jizya') from Jews and Christians.

13. Allah does not require truthfulness, but promotes the breaking of agreements (Hudna) with nonbelievers as "the end justifies the means."

14. Allah requires the destruction or conversion of Christian churches to mosques (example: St. Sophia in Istanbul).

15. Allah's religion is a joyless series of endless wars.

16. Allah is the god of the seven deadly sins: superbia (hubris/pride), avaritia (avarice/greed), luxuria (extravagance/lust), invidia (envy), gula (gluttony), ira (wrath), and acedia (sloth).

Does Allah remind you of someone else--perhaps the Adversary?

Catholics in the Military and the U.S.

The Defense Department has released new numbers of Catholics in the active Armed Services of the U.S. If you remember, a previous post dealt with whether Catholics were over- or under-represented in the military. Here is the new table from the DoD, and it differs from the Catholic military chaplaincy site that states "40% of those in the Navy, 28% in the Air Force, and 25% in the Army are Catholic." The new table indicates 19% of the Navy, 22% of the Air Force, and 20% of the Army are Catholic.

Because of the above discrepancies, it appears impossible to compare the approximate 20 to 21% Catholics in the active Armed Forces with the 26% baptized Catholics in the U.S., as reported by However, it may be the 26% that is the suspect value--if it is used to quantify persons who identify themselves as Catholic. The actual percentage of people in the U.S. who identify themselves as Catholic is likely to be similar to the 20 to 21% in the active military. If so, this would represent an approximate 20% loss (from 26% to 20-21%) of baptized Catholics by their early adulthood when they no longer identify themselves as Catholic.

The American Forces Information Center notes the records include:
military members who have chosen Catholic as their religious preference ... received from Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). Also stated from DMDC is that Navy Officers & the Coast Guard don't report religious preference at all. For the most part it is up to the individual military person to decide if they want to select a religious preference or not.