Saturday Ramblings: August 6, 2016


Welcome to Saturday Ramblings for August 6, 2016.

We’re going to upgrade from our standard Rambler today to show you a great pic of Elvis Presley’s 1957 BMW 507, now restored to its original glory (and perhaps beyond).

Top Gear has a great gallery showing the step-by-step restoration of the King’s ride, which he enjoyed while he was a G.I. in Germany. The car had originally been presented to the King of Belgium before it went to an auto show, where it won a beauty prize. It ended up at a dealer in Frankfurt, where the 23-year-old Elvis saw it and fell in love with it. The popular singer had it painted red because his adoring fans used to scrawl messages on its white surface. He eventually traded it in back in New York, and after a few other stops it ended up awaiting restoration in a shed in California. Its owner, Jack Castor, never found the time to get it done, so he eventually sold it back to BMW’s classic department and they brought it back to life.





Go to Top Gear’s gallery for more great photos of the restoration. Also, if you happen to be in Pebble Beach, California on August 18, you can see this great car up close and personal at Concours d’Elegance.

Today’s humor courtesy of @Church Curmudgeon.

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sport-car-icon-29GOD AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES: In an article at RNS, Kimberly Winston quotes scholar Paul Cartledge, who wrote, “For the ancient Greeks, the sport of the Olympic Games was quite literally a religious exercise — a display of religious devotion and worship. ” However, the trend has been away from the Games’ religious roots.


Winston traces the religious history of the Games, first in ancient Greece, where they were held until the end of the fourth century, when a Christian, Emperor Theodosius I, banned all pagan celebrations. No Games were held for 1500 years, until another Christian revived them.

In the late 19th century, Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat educated by Jesuits, encountered the work of Thomas Arnold, a Church of England deacon who promoted  “muscular Christianity” — the idea that the pairing of physical strength with religious piety creates well-rounded, moral and ethical men. In 1894, Coubertin formed the International Olympic Committee, and the Games were held again two years later in Athens.

Kimberly Winston goes on to write about how the Olympic Games have taken on a religious aura of their own, a “civic” religion complete with traditions, ceremonies, and core beliefs about sportsmanship. But some are suggesting that nationalism and commercialism threaten to utterly strip them of any sacred significance.


sport-car-icon-29A WALK TO REMEMBER: Groups in the central Henan and Hunan provinces of China have been constructing vertigo-inducing glass skywalks in a bid to attract tourists. The BBC has published some awe-inducing pictures of the “Coiling Dragon” path in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.



Here is another BBC article about the craze to build several of these glass bridges and walkways.

What do you say, iMonks? How about joining me for some faith-building exercises in eastern China?


sport-car-icon-29“THE BLOOD OF CHRIST WASHED THE BLOOD OFF MY HANDS.” So says Robert “Bobby” Luisi Jr., aka Alonso Esposito, a a charismatic preacher, head of Alonso Esposito Ministries, who, it turns out, is a former mob boss from Boston. You can read his story HERE and HERE.

Alonso Esposito_20160727221510666_5542483_ver1.0_640_360

The Boston Globe recently identified him last week as a one-time Mafia crime boss who they thought might have information about the 1990 heist of $500 million of artwork, including three Rembrandts, from a Boston museum. He says now he couldn’t help them much, but at any rate it is his spiritual journey and the Bible that Esposito wants to talk about today.

He had a awakening of sorts after his father, Robert Luisi Sr., and his brother, Roman, were murdered in a Boston restaurant. He had visions of them after their deaths, warning him about God’s judgment. But he continued in a life of crime, relocating to Philadelphia where he became a capo (boss), eventually moving his cocaine operation back to Boston. Esposito has said he was involved in at least a half a dozen murders and at one point was clearing $40,000 a week trafficking cocaine.

The mobster was arrested in 1999 and spent nearly fourteen years in prison before he resurfaced in Memphis a changed man. Today, Esposito is a pastor and teacher of theological studies at Faith Keepers Ministries in Raleigh. He writes books and shares his teachings through videos and media on his website. He has written a book about creationism, and plans to write another to tell his story about the move from being a capo to being a Christian.


sport-car-icon-29CURSIVE WRITING MAKING A COMEBACK. Since late last fall, our team has been documenting our work on paper while we await an upgrade to our computer program. One of the hard things about doing that is: I forgot how to write! I suspect that is true of many of us, having become so used to typing on keyboards. But handwriting is proving persistent. According to this piece at the Washington Post, twelve states now have cursive writing requirements in their state standards.


According to the article: “The cursive comeback is championed by a mix of educators, researchers, parents and politicians who lament the loss of linked-letter writing and cite studies that learning cursive engages the brain more deeply, improves fine motor dexterity and gives children a better idea of how words work in combination. And some also just like the way it looks.”

What do you think? How much do you use cursive handwriting? Do you think it should still be emphasized?



POPE FRANCIS IS AT IT AGAIN. A Vatican statement said, “Pope Francis expressed his intention to establish an official commission that could study the question of the diaconate of women, especially with regard to the first ages of the Church. After intense prayer and mature reflection, Pope Francis has decided to institute the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women.”

Pope Francis greets a nun during an audience with the heads of women's religious orders in Paul VI hall at the Vatican May 12. During a question-and-answer session with members of the UISG, the pope said he was willing to establish a commission to study whether women could serve as deacons. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano) See POPE-UISG May 12, 2016.

This will be the third commission to study the historical role of women deacons since 1992. The first two commissions did not lead to any changes in church practice. Many women in the church hope that Pope Francis’s influence might move the church toward a different outcome this time.

One of the members of the commission, Phyllis Nagano, wrote an article in the Harvard Divinity Review called, “Ordain Catholic Women as Deacons,”  in which she said:

Francis calls priesthood’s connection to power and authority problematic, writing that it “presents a great challenge . . . with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life.” But if priesthood is the problem barring women from a “more incisive presence in the Church,” the diaconate is the solution.


sport-car-icon-29PLURAL MARRIAGE OF THE ETERNAL SORT. A couple of articles at Flunking Sainthood have raised awareness that the LDS teaching about plural marriage is more complicated than many realize.

Sealing Room, Ogden Temple
Sealing Room, Ogden Temple

In the first piece, Jana Reiss interviews Carol Lynn Pearson, author of The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy, who says that, even in the mainstream LDS organization, “polygamy is not an artifact in a museum.” The doctrine of eternal plural marriage teaches that, even though polygamy may not be practiced in this life, it will in the ages to come.

In a follow-up article, Jana Reiss explains the practice of “sealing” —

For Mormons, one of the major goals in life—something our children are taught from the time they enter the Sunday School at 3 years old—is to strive for a temple marriage, or sealing.  To Mormons, a sealing is much more than a fancy ceremony in one of our pretty temples; it is a marriage “for time and all eternity” and does not end at death. The participants are considered married, or sealed, forever.

“What does this mean for modern Mormons?  It means modern, living men are sealed to multiple living women.  Full stop,” she writes. This can lead to some troublesome complications  for women and children, especially when a divorce or death occurs.

sport-car-icon-29YOU MIGHT THINK THIS WOULD BE UNNECESSARY. Don’t know about you, but I never had to have anyone tell me that swimming in a dumpster would not be a good idea.


However, the folks who planned the Cedar Street Block Party in Philadelphia rented a dumpster, filled it with water from a fire hydrant, made a pool, and put pictures of it on Instagram. So, Karen Guss, communications director for the Department of Licenses and Inspections in the city, had to issue a public service announcement:

“In view of the City’s commitment to public health, safety and basic common sense, we will not issue permits for block party dumpster pools. And while you would think this decision would not require an explanation, three days of press requests have proven otherwise. So, Philly, here’s why you shouldn’t swim in a receptacle most often used for waste:

” — First and foremost, this could reduce the amount of water available should a fire break out in that neighborhood. So if you would like to have water available should a fire break out in your home, don’t illegally tap a hydrant

” — There is also the potential loss of life by injury due to the hydrant water pushing a small child or even an adult into oncoming traffic.

” — Finally, remember that the pressure of the water coming out of the hydrant is so strong, and so powerful, that if opened too quickly or closed too quickly, it could deliver a jolt to the main of sufficient force that could break the main … and many blocks could lose water service until it is repaired.

“We are not screwing around, Philly. The Streets Department will not issue any future block party permits to the 2400 block of Cedar, and officials have contacted the dumpster rental company regarding its failures to obtain the proper closure permits and to take mandatory measures to protect the street during placement of the dumpster.

“In short, the City strongly recommends that residents opt for recreational options that are safer, more sanitary, and less likely to deplete the resources firefighters need in an emergency.”

sport-car-icon-29CEASE FIRE IN CHICAGO. When a toddler was shot and paralyzed in one of the war zones that exist in some Chicago neighborhoods, Pastor Corey Brooks and New Beginnings Church decided ministering to grieving families wasn’t enough. Christianity Today tells the story of what happened next.

Chicago gangs

Brooks invited 100 gang members to meet with him personally, alone, for a talk. It took over a year to happen, but the pastor persisted. It was uncomfortable at first for all of these rivals to be in the same room, but eventually they quieted down and listened as Brooks addressed them.

I talked about the pain that everyone has experienced as a result of these shootings. A lot of the individuals there had been shot, and if they hadn’t, their relatives or very close friends had been shot. They know the pain really well, and its impact on family and friends.

Secondly, I talked about the great need for us to have a community where our children are free to go out and play. That impacts them because a lot of them have children who are very young.

The third thing I tried to communicate is that it’s very difficult for business to come in and hire when individuals are trying to control one area.

Read the entire interview and learn how Brooks and the church have gained the respect of their neighborhood and won the right to be heard. They continue to meet and the cease fire still holds.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

sport-car-icon-29TODAY IN MUSICWXQR has provided a good list of music, complete with video performances, composed especially for the Olympic Games. Along with them, they give some history of how these songs come to be written and used in the Games.

We offer one of these today as our weekly listening selection. “The Olympic Hymn” debuted at the reconstituted 1896 Olympics and began the tradition of host countries commissioning composers to write a piece for the Games. In 1958, it was declared the official hymn of the Olympics by the IOC. At each Olympics now, it is played when the Olympic Flag is raised.

Olympic Hymn (1896)
Composer: Spyros Samaras, Words: Kostis Palamas

Immortal spirit of antiquity,
Father of the true, beautiful and good,
Descend, appear, shed over us thy light
Upon this ground and under this sky
Which has first witnessed thy unperishable fame.
Give life and animation to those noble games!
Throw wreaths of fadeless flowers to the victors
In the race and in strife!
Create in our breasts, hearts of steel!
Shine in a roseate hue and form a vast temple
To which all nations throng to adore thee,
Oh immortal spirit of antiquity.

59 thoughts on “Saturday Ramblings: August 6, 2016

  1. Beautiful story about the Pastor Brooks… these are the stories that need to be heard, shared and done over and over in all cities!

    Regarding Mormons and sealing marriages especially since there was only 1 comment – we had a neighbor couple that were Mormon … the husband had been previously married (e.g. now divorced) but his ex-wife you would see over at their house quite a bit. I would say he really did take the marriage forever bit seriously, but even his current wife and his ex-wife were quite good friends it seemed. Just seemed strange but yeah I just wanted to confirm that at least one reader has definitely seen this. They always asked us to come and visit their church; which we did once (boy did that get us a LOT of visitors to the house trying to have us come a lot more often! took me having to be quite strong verbally that we REALLY aren’t coming again). Anyway…


  2. I made a deal with my kids when they were around 6. I’d buy them a watch (up to $20 at Target) when they could tell time on a clock with hands. Meal times usually had a 10 minutes discussion on clock times using the kitchen wall clock we had then.

    I also made them get a first car with a clutch. Both were very despondent a few days in but now are happy I did it.


  3. Understand I’m not advocating for swapping kids’ writing hands, just pointing out the old ways of dealing with problems focused on changing the kid, and not adapting to him.


  4. My grandmother had gloriously beautiful handwriting. I used to love getting a letter from her, not just for the communication, but to wonder at the sweeps and curves of the lettering. She was well known in her little town. She was a cook at the school, and she baked real cinnamon rolls. Real coffee cakes. Adults still see my mother in the store and remark on grandma’s success at making home-cooked school meals for them. Oops, sorry, little fork in the memory lane there. She also could write in German. She wrote in the German script, not just the anglicized lettering of German words, but the beautiful old-school German script. Kids would come to her who had class projects or whatever and she would write out examples in all the styles. None of my younger kids can read, let alone write in cursive. Or read a non-digital clock, but don’t get me started with that.


  5. It irritates/saddens many architects over 50 that the current graduates rarely have pencil and ink skills.

    But no one misses being in a small room with ammonia vapors to make copies of drawings. 🙂


  6. I have a similar experience with writing. My engineering degree required a course in technical drawing. Back in my day, that meant t-squares, triangles, different lead weights, etc. autoCAD was mentioned but the drawing was done by hand. For 8 weeks we hand-lettered everything. The experience even affected my signature. Now when I write I switch back and forth from cursive to lettering that’s been modified by cursive, or vice-versa. Hard to explain. Drives my wife crazy.


  7. I agree. But I don’t see it happening. Says someone with a cornet in the closet from his school days in the 60s and 70s.


  8. You talk about how the loss of cursive and/or letter writing is a great loss to our culture. We also used to have pianos in our homes for family entertainment and they likely fostered a cohesiveness that is not nearly as prevalent since radio, TV, movies, and the Internet have replaced such home/family based entertainment.


  9. Actually, I think it would be great for more people to be playing the piano, or the guitar, or the flute, or the trumpet, or something else with which they can make their own live music.


  10. Yes, I use cursive.

    Yes, I have read and heard stories about young people already not being able to read cursive.

    Yes, I believe it should be taught for all the brain-related reasons, because it’s actually faster than printing, and because it can be another expression of a person’s uniqueness. I don’t think it should be given a letter grade, though; perhaps only “progress” and “needs improvement” or the like.

    The trick is, you have to know how to teach it. You don’t just give kids a sheet with the letters on it and simply tell them to copy the forms. You have to break it down and practice ovals, lines, connectors, etc. first, and then put the letters and words together. You have to start large on the chalkboard – yes, chalk, not erasable whiteboards – and work down to the lined paper to help get to the fine motor skill place. Good posture must be encouraged so you don’t end up with a sore neck. You also have to make sure the writing implement is held correctly to minimize hand fatigue, and that the paper is at least at a 45 degree angle to the edge of the desk; these latter two things are especially important for lefties, who need to turn the paper 45 degrees or more to the left, rather than to the right. (This does result in the leftie sometimes pushing the writing implement more than pulling it, but for pencils and most pens that doesn’t really matter. As long as you turn the paper enough to keep your hand underneath the writing line, you can use a pen with wetter ink, or even a fountain pen, without smearing.) All of this takes time, which for today’s teachers is already at a premium.

    And finally, the “school alphabet” illustrated above is just plain ugly. I was taught this as a child and did not do well with it; when I got to Jr High I determined to change it to more of a Copperplate style, and practiced a lot to do so. Over the years, I have received a lot of compliments on my handwriting (in spite of it not being what it used to be because of the repetitive stress of keyboarding for my work). I don’t believe we should go back to the knuckle-rapping my mother endured while learning penmanship 85 years ago; there should be creative positive inducements for kids to learn it. I think it’s especially important, in this age of keyboards and touch-screens, to do something routinely that slows one down a bit.

    And yes to touch-typing, too.



  11. Depends. Some cities like Atlanta use the opportunity to build infrastructure they will reap the benefits of for decades, and build things like athlete housing in a way that can be repurposed [turned into student housing for example]. But generally: No. It is. Matter of good urban planning.

    This is something I could write a mile long reply to… Admire my restraint. 🙂


  12. Aside from the enriching of palms that are greased, do the Olympics ever bring any net economic benefit to their host cities?


  13. My wife and I were out of town the last couple days, in Philly (heard about the dumpster diving from the Philly news before I read today’s Ramblings), staying at a hotel, which meant that we had a television with cable (we have no cable or satellite dish at home) for the Olympic opening ceremonies. My wife watched from beginning to end, and enjoyed most if not all of it; I fell asleep on the comfortable hotel bed. I’ve never been big on parades or fireworks or sports.

    The vivid images from Rio certainly were beautiful, but the closeness of opulence and poverty is impossible not to notice, even when carefully framed by beauty-maximizing camera editing; a truer picture of the world than the one to which many of us First Worlders are accustomed. As I watched a bike race this morning before checking-out of the hotel, I couldn’t help but wonder about the lives lived behind the walls of the tenements that the bikers passed in their Olympian exertions: the suffering, the disease, the violence, the lostness, the need.

    But who’s to deny that flowers do indeed break trough the sidewalks of such places? Who would want to deny it? Who wouldn’t ardently hope for it?


  14. This is how the game is played. The Catholic Church has this self-image that it is unchanging. Returning to the ship image, that it sails forward serenely, unaffected by the shifting currents of culture. This is, of course, utter nonsense. Even a superficial study of church history shows that it is embedded within and part of the broader culture. But the game must be played, lest any proposed reforms be rejected as being trendy pandering.


  15. I immediately thought an industrial sized dumpster would be a great tool for dive training or even teaching swimming in environments without readily available water/pools. Bring the pool to the people!


  16. Yes, please encourage (force?) them to do so; that would assure that my wife has plenty of students to give piano lessons.


  17. Bad as much of it may be, there are decent little corners of the American church. I find myself in one of them.


  18. well, if Francis brings up what needs to be brought up in the Church, that is a beginning . . . . . maybe in a few decades, there will be a minor change, then in a few more decades, a growth of sorts in that minor change, and then next few centuries, people will wonder what all the fuss was about

    small steps . . . it’s only been two-thousand years, people . . . small steps forward are important

    the ‘frustration’ . . . . it’s there, but ‘hope’ is good thing and even a small step is something of good


  19. I think that a lot of the problem so far is that Francis says things that sound like a softening of the hard line against modern social reality–LBGT people, women who want a wider role in the Roman Catholic church–but what he ends up doing reinforces traditional doctrine. I’ll believe female deacons when I see them.


  20. Not so much, If you get used to reading the script, the differences are pretty minor. If you can’t read cursive at all, it might as well be ancient Greek.


  21. This is one of the reasons I support Common Core. It makes sense and works and teaches kids how to do math. I struggle with basic math sometimes because I was so formula heavy and always needed paper to work it out, I couldn’t just do it in my head like Common Core teaches.

    It’s the same way with english and reading. Most of my classmates were taught with Hooked On Phonics, and for every word they HAD to pronounce it out piece by piece. They never learned common patterns or remembered what words sounded like, so listening to them read out loud was torture. So now I can see most words and know how they are pronounced and where they are derived from, but I can’t even tally up the amount of weight I just lifted at the gym without building a table, lol.


  22. And one unfortunate result of doing away with cursive writing is the virtual disappearance of the letter as a form of communication. A real loss in our culture I think. Five hundred years from now historians will have plenty of pictures of our glorious epoch but little record of how non-famous people actually thought.

    How about pianos. Should we encourage (force?) middle class families to have them in the home and that everyone learn to play? That was the standard for home entertainment for 50 years or so.


  23. Imagine not being able to read your great-grandmother’s letters, much less those of any historical figure before the age of the typewriter.

    We’ve been there a long time. Have you looked at reproductions of the US founding documents. s and f and a style that resembles cursive only as a cousin.


  24. I think a lot of criticism of Francis amounts to complaining that the captain of the ocean liner isn’t turning the ship quickly enough. Of course it is possible that the wheel has been disconnected from the rudder and the captain is making a show if spinning it. Time will tell (assuming Francis lives long enough to do the work).


  25. +1. Every time I think “why bother?” With the reactionary paranoids that make up the american church… There is Francis. He is a clear note amidst the cacophony.


  26. Oh man, I always took for granted my right handedness when using a slide rule! That must be a pain for lefties. (Fun fact, if you show up as a teen in the 90’s who can use a slide rule, most teachers are happy to let you use it on “no calculator” tests just for knowing how to in the first place!)


  27. My father was also left-handed, but he was forced to switch as a child in the 1930’s. I’m grateful that conditions were different when I was a small child in the 1960’s and I wasn’t forced to switch.


  28. The appearance of change without the heavy lifting. In truth, that is what Catholics really want (says I, a former Catholic). Hope is more powerful than dealing with the consequences of change. I read a movie review of the French film, “The Innocents”, a depiction of a group of nuns who had to deal with the aftermath of the Red Army’s occupation, a convent full of pregnancies. In it one of the nuns reportedly said “Faith is 24 hours of doubt and one minute of hope”. A significant statement on the power of hope.


  29. My physical therapist sister-in-law says learning cursive is excellent for fine motor skills and brain development. I think it does have a place, but without the teacher ire that teachers in elementary school used to heap on messy writers back in my day. Whew! Whoa unto you if you couldn’t write neatly enough!


  30. I write frequent notes to myself on notepads in cursive and could not function otherwise. My handwriting changed considerably in high school when I took a mechanical drawing class, one of the few actually useful classes I took in high school along with typing, and I admit to rare occurrences when I use algebra and geometry. A friend of mine had to hand write letters to her school age grandchildren in printed letters because they had no idea how to read cursive. Women in general are better handwriters in cursive. I gave a high school girl in a McDonalds three dollars for a $2.65 tab which she rang up wrong and had no clue what change was due. She started asking the others if anyone knew how to do math. No one did. I took a couple months worth of refund bottles to the service desk in Walmart because the bottle machine was broken and told the woman in her 20’s I had 60 bottles, three 18’s and a 6, which I had figured out on one of the boxes which were open. She started counting 1-2-3-4-5 all the way to 60. I didn’t dare point out the math written down because she would have lost track and had to start over again. She wouldn’t have known how to multiply 6×3 to get one of the 18’s, which was printed on the box anyway. At least she knows how to count.


  31. I don’t want to start an argument but I suppose I am less of a Pope Francis fan than many. Most of what he does seems designed to give the appearance of big changes without anything actually changing. Not being a Catholic though frees me from having to concern myself overmuch with the internal processes of the church. He has accomplished one thing thing though and that’s to change the subject. He is a consummate media personality. But I suspect there are many, both inside and outside the church who really want a bit more than that.


  32. Whenever I see: ” Pope Francis is at it again”, I feel joy. Joy is one sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. This time, I am overjoyed. 🙂


  33. But there does seem to be some neurological evidence that writing cursively has effects on parts of our brain that otherwise are not activated by key punching. And one unfortunate result of doing away with cursive writing is the virtual disappearance of the letter as a form of communication. A real loss in our culture I think. Five hundred years from now historians will have plenty of pictures of our glorious epoch but little record of how non-famous people actually thought.

    And it’s interesting to note how increasingly ephemeral each revolution in communicating becomes. We have cuneiform tablets thousands of years old; books and scrolls hundreds of years old. But 75% of all silent films made before 1929 and 50% of all sound films made before 1950 have already been lost forever. And notice how these latter day forms of communication are intimately associated with specific technologies. What I mean by that is that, for example, anyone can pick up a cuneiform tablet and learn the script and read it but an entire technological infrastructure has to be in place to access email or, god help us, tweets. Five hundred years from now anyone still will have access to a physical artifact like a cuneiform tablet or a codex but who will be able to access online data if we’ve moved on to some other communication environment? One good electronic pulse could wipe that out. Someday a laptop or a smartphone really will be horse and buggy.

    I’m a lousy typer but I’m not a luddite. It’s just that there are tradeoffs in any revolution. And just on a practical level you can take a pencil and notepad just about anywhere, especially places that would kill electronics.


  34. There was a solution in the old days. In first grade in the late 40s, they pulled the pen out of my dads ‘wrong’ hand and put it in his right hand until he learned to do it the ‘right’ way. I always wondered why he wrote right handed but played golf, pitched, batted and threw left-handed. There’s the story. Make the kid fit the school desk. He had great, classic handwriting.


  35. I get that, and I agree that teaching children to write a cursive hand is probably going to become a lost art, much as I would prefer that it did not. What I worry about is that children may not be taught to read it, either, eventually, which would be a huge loss. Imagine not being able to read your great-grandmother’s letters, much less those of any historical figure before the age of the typewriter. I suppose that reading modern cursive hands would be taught as specialist courses in history, as earlier scripts are now taught, but that would cut ordinary people out of a great deal of knowledge that they now have access to. For what? To make learning to write easier? It seems not worth the cost.T


  36. If I attempt to write something in cursive, it causes those reading it to curse. And yes, I’m also left-handed. I typically received D’s in penmanship when I was in elementary school even though I typically earned A’s and B’s in everything else.

    These days I use cursive only for my signature. Otherwise I print.


  37. I’m not so sure. Keep in mind that CBMW, an SBC entity that is hosted at SBTS and supported by Mohler and other SBC bigwigs has published material speculating that wives will be eternally subordinate/submissive to their husbands. I think this is more sexist make-believe in American than many of us would like to admit.


  38. Copperplate handwriting is a highly specialized skill – it’s far more sophisticated than Palmer Method cursive. I wss never good at the latter, and quit using cursive in HS.


  39. Yep, even looking at the pictures makes me queasy. The mind is a funny thing though. Never had any trouble flying. But standing at a ledge looking over a great height like that, yikes!


  40. “Beautiful” is a subjective judgement, and if you are a member of the Order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph then you are a stern taskmaster and unforgiving judge of beauty.

    In grade school at Saint Coleman’s Elementary I never received higher than a “D” for my handwriting. In fact, one semester I rated an “F” in Art because they thought that I wasn’t trying. I cannot draw a circle to this day and thank God for the keyboard. Cursive looks really nice for those whose writing is fluid, but mine is cramped and difficult to read. Practice didn’t help, either, it just made my hands sore.


  41. Women in the diaconate: This potentially is a big deal, even if it isn’t a first step to women in the priesthood. The diaconate is important in the American Catholic church because it helps fill the gap in the priest shortage. Let the women in and they immediately have more influence in the church.

    If we laughingly assume that the modern diaconate (whether as the Catholics or as anyone else uses the word) bears any significant resemblance to what the word meant in the first century church, then you have to do some pretty florid spinning to conclude that women should be excluded.


  42. Mormons and plural marriage: I only occasionally indulge in Mormon rants, but it is always worth recalling that they are much less mainstream than the image they project. They work hard on a very Middle-America clean cut image: Baptists, but with better foreign language skills. The implication is that all that weird stuff from back in the day is ancient history, like the relationship between the UCC and the Salem witch trials. In reality, a lot of it is still there just beneath the surface.


  43. Cursive: This topic is fast achieving the status of an evergreen news article, but that’s August for you. Making this an educational requirement is an exercise in mandated nostalgia. It cannot work. Teaching cursive is like teaching kids the proper way to harness a horse up to the buggy. It is irrelevant. A handful of kids will take to it, essentially as a hobby interest, while the vast majority will choose other hobbies. My kids’ favorite hobby, for example, is playing Minecraft.

    I could go on at length on the topic. I read a lot of mid- to late- 19th century material in my early baseball research, including a fair amount of handwritten material. I have learned from this that our notions of handwriting back in the day or romanticized. Most educated people could write in a perfectly legible hand when they had the incentive to take the time. A few could write in an absolutely gorgeous hand, but this was a specialized skill even then. When they were writing quickly, which was frequently, the results were marginally legible and distinctly unesthetic.

    They slowed down to be legible for letters, and to be gorgeous for official documents. Nowadays this stuff is done on a keyboard. Hence the irrelevance of learning how to do this. This also is why most of us, even those of us old enough to have been taught this stuff seriously, can’t really do it anymore. Like any other skill, you have to use it or lose it. Seriously, without looking, can you make a capital Q or Z? If your signature doesn’t have those letters, the answer is probably not. And why should you? You probably can’t write in an Elizabethan secretarial hand, or a Carolingian minuscule either.

    Our educational resources would be better spent teaching kids to touch type. I learned this in eighth grade (the only useful thing I learned that year of school, in fact). We had typewriters with blank keys and ran through drills, along with other useful information such as business letter formatting. My eight year old was astonished when she saw me typing and realized that I wasn’t looking at the keys. It is good that I can still astonish my child, but I would like even more for her to learn this useful skill. (She can probably skip the business letter formatting part.)


  44. As a left handed writer I heartily concur. In both 5th and 6th grades I had the worst grade in the class for handwriting. By 7th grade I just conceded defeat and have printed every since [ if it can’t be keyboarded ].


  45. I haven’t been following the Olympic preparations real closely but I am truly surprised that no one has complained about the prevalence of photos of the Christ the Redeemer statue along with the Rio Olympic Symbol.


  46. Sorry CM, if you want to walk on those glass walkways over hundreds of feet of nothing, you are On. Your. Own. I DON’T do heights.


  47. Cursive handwriting is what it says it is – a curse (if you are left handed)…

    …and I think that perhaps people might take a more, shall we say, nuanced view of Thomas Arnold were they to recognise that he was more famously the headmaster of Rugby School, and that “muscular Christianity” started off being about learning not to cry whilst being flogged with a birch rod…


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