Monday, September 29, 2008

Catholic schools

An article on the First Things blog about Catholic education with links to other articles on the topic.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Life of the Party

My sister-in-law Molly received some attention for her superior culinary and entertaining skills this week from Minnesota Monthly, a magazine in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area (link to online article). For more, check out her blog (where she discusses the food in Munich) and buy her CD-ROMs: Tastebud Classic Cocktail Party and Tastebud Dinner Party for 12 (coming soon).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Road

I borrowed an audiobook version of The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, and finished listening to it this week. (Recall that I read a review of it when we were at the beach.) It is a very good novel. Many of the events are frightening and disturbing (survivors who have resorted to cannibalism are a constant threat to the man and the boy who are main characters). The draw for me was rooting for the man and the boy (who must scavenge to survive but occasionally find treasures in abandoned dwellings, including a Christmas-like feast in a fully stocked emergency shelter) and wondering how they would survive hunger, cold, illness, and the bad guys.

In some very general ways it reminded me of the parts of The Lord of the Rings that describe Frodo and Sam's desperate trip to Mount Doom. The emotional and physical landscape are quite similar. (In The Road, the southeastern United States is a dead and cold wasteland.) The ending of The Road is not nearly as dramatic, but there also are the similar themes of loss and going on with life.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Marriage in Full

Also in the May, 2008, issue of First Things was an article by Gary A. Anderson about marriage, entitled "A Marriage in Full." It includes the following quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (whose The Cost of Discipleship I am still reading):
Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race until the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.

It is not your love that sustains marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.

Anderson then goes on to discuss the Book of Ruth and its depiction of marriage, and he concludes with "The Book of Ruth tells us that within the sacred bond of marriage there lies a symbol of the love of God for humanity."

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Shoes and Democracy

When I first started working in Maryland in 1993, one of the early projects on which I worked was to help the Bata Shoes plant in Belcamp schedule the machines that they used for making rubber boots. It was an interesting problem but we didn't get very far with the company, for reasons that I don't remember now (maybe they just didn't trust a 26-year-old with a Ph.D. on which the ink wasn't dry!). I just found out that the plant shut down around 2001. Maybe they should have used my scheduling algorithm! :-)

I hadn't thought much about them recently, but Friday's Washington Post had an obituary for Thomas Bata, the Czech who started Bata shoes. Mr. Bata died September 1 in Toronto.

Mr. Bata left Czechoslovakia to get away from the Nazis. He served in the Canadian army during World War II. He was forced to leave Czechoslovakia again by the Communists. According to the obituary:

Mr. Bata broadcast support to the dissident movement on Radio Free Europe and offered his business as an example of what could be "so that people would see that the democratic system, based on democratic economy, would be the most advantageous for them."