100 Books Meme

I stole this from The Ironic Catholic, who I think stole it from someone else.  Ah, well, that’s the nature of these things.  🙂

Bold–I’ve read it.
Underlined–I want to.
Nuttin’–I don’t care.
Dripping with blood–you give it to me, I’ll burn it instead.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (AP English)
6. The Bible (Working on it….)
7. Wuthering Heights –Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell 
9. His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman (Although, maybe I’d peek at it, just so I can argue against it.)
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (Read a tiny portion, then got bored.)
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (Select things — some sonnets, some plays, etc.)
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger (Can’t remember if I read this in AP English, or if it was just presented by a classmate — memorable book, evidently….  😉
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife –
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
21. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald (AP English hits again!)
23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (At the husband’s suggestion, this and the other Adams books.)
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (I liked Steinbeck.)
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis (I’ve read the first 1.5; I’ve had the complete set for years and years.)
34. Emma – Jane Austen
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
37. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
38. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden  (I liked the movie.)
39. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne (Saw the moviesssss….)
40. Animal Farm – George Orwell
41. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
42. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
43. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
44. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
45. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
46. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy (My husband had this book.  Never managed to read it.)
47. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
48. Lord of the Flies – William Golding (AP English)
49. Atonement – Ian McEwan
50. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
51. Dune – Frank Herbert
52. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
53. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
54. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
55. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
56. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens (I think I read this in grade school.)
57. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (Of course, I would read this one.)
58. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
59. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
60. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
61. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
62. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
63. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold (I kinda liked this one, despite its gruesomeness.  I liked her personal story, Lucky, too.)
64. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
65. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
66. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
67. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
68. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
69. Moby Dick – Herman Melville (Started it, didn’t finish.)
70. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
71. Dracula – Bram Stoker
72. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
73. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
74. Ulysses – James Joyce
75. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
76. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
77. Germinal – Emile Zola
78. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
79. Possession – AS Byatt
80. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
81. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
82. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
83. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
84. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
85. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
86. Charlotte’s Web – EB White  🙂
87. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
88. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Started it, didn’t finish.)
89. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
90. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
91. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (Read it, in French.)
92. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
93. Watership Down – Richard Adams (For some reason, I loved this book.)
94. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
95. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
96. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
97. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
98. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo (I want to read it, both in English and in French.)
99. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
100. The Outsiders

Guess I’m just not all that well read when it comes to “the classics.”  🙂

Prayers Needed

I just heard about a woman who could really use your prayers.  Her name is Christina and she is 1 1/2 weeks past her due date.  She went into the hospital for a C-section, and at some point perioperatively, the baby was noted to no longer have a heartbeat.

I haven’t heard any further updates on the condition of either the mother or the baby.  Please pray that both are well and healthy and strong, and pray for a good outcome.  Please pray to ease the anxiety of the parents.  Pray for the wisdom, skill and attentiveness of the attendings, residents and nursing staff who will care for mother and child.

Please Lord, do not let Christina know the pain of losing her baby.

Update:  Lily Anne was born weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces!  Both mother and daughter are doing well.  Thank you so much for your prayers!  🙂

WBD Golf Outing 2008

Yesterday, we at St. Anastasia parish had our 15th annual William B. Davidson Golf Outing to benefit the B.A.S.I.C. (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) Youth Program.  We had good weather and stiff competition.

Here is our winning team, with a score of 13 under par:
Team 1A -- DSCN3725
Greg Bright, Joseph D’Anna, Bruce Graves, David Graves
Strange, that our Youth Minister managed to be…um…the winner…. 🙂

We also had a team claiming to be The Dream Team:
The Dream Team -- DSCN3789
Deacon Ron Cook, Fr. JJ Mech, Fr. Mark Prill, Michael Hopkins

Make sure to click on the photos to take you to my Flickr page, so you can see the rest of our exciting event!

Thank you to everyone who participated!

On Random Chance and Achievement

Sometimes I wonder about the different things that go swimming across my brain….

Okay.  So, during a walk at work dropping something off for Radiology, I had a thought.  Shocking, I know.  🙂

An atheist/Darwinian/Big Bang theory of existence position states summarily that the universe exploded in a Big Bang, eventually planetary systems as we know it coalesced from the debris, the Earth was formed with the ocean, eventually molecules formed, maybe lightning or something struck, and these molecules evolved into replicable sequences of amino acids.  As time went on, these amino acids would replicate, occasionally there would be changes in the base pair sequences and this would either beneficially affect, neutrally affect or negatively affect that sequences ability to replicate.  If it was beneficially affected, then that sequence had a competitive edge, so to say, in propagating its genetic code into future editions of itself.  If it was negatively affected, then this capacity for replication was reduced, or even eliminated — possibly terminating that cell/organism line.  These errors in base pair replication — mutations — would add variability to a population of organisms.  As environmental conditions changed, some of these mutations would give reproductive benefit to the organism, making them more likely to be able to reproduce under certain conditions over others.  For example, if I were fish, and I had some mutation occur in my genes or in the genes of my fish-partner, and my fish-children happened to have longer fins, then perhaps they would have an advantage (compared to the other fish in the sea) of being able to swim faster and escape being eaten by predators.  So, they would perhaps have a greater chance of being able to live to a nice adult-fish age and have nice, little fish-children of their own — passing on their mutated long fins to their kids, and thus the reproductive advantage.

[Not to say that fish developed longer fins SO THAT they could swim faster and escape predators.  It doesn’t work backwards like that.]

Okay.  That is all nice and makes sense somewhat.  Biology lesson ended.  Now, back to my main thought — all those minutes ago.

If it truly is the case that there is no God — no divine plan, no intervention of any nature to explain our existence or sentience, nothing except random chance — then, what is the point?

There is no point.  It was all a fluke.  And perhaps statistically repeatable given enough permutations.  So, there is nothing special about me.  I am just a random collection of molecules like any other random collection of molecules.  And, possibly at some point, another sequence of base pairs may occur having the same pattern as mine.  Currently unlikely, and we prefer to think of ourselves as unique, but it is not out of the realm of possibility of occurrence.

If my existence is an accident or a fluke, and if I am not necessarily unique, and if I am certainly not the end of the evolutionary chain (since there will always be the possibility for further beneficial mutation), why then would I struggle to achieve anything other than the proliferation of my specific gene set?  What would be the point of doing anything to maintain or improve my health after my child-rearing years?  What would be the point of competing to see who is faster, stronger or smarter after one has secured a mate?

And what are we doing searching for meaning in life?  Didn’t we already answer that?  There is no meaning.  No ultimate goal.  No reward for doing a great or a lousy job.  In the end, does it really matter if our particular genetic sequence is continued?  Not really.  If our line dies out, there will be other lines to continue.  If humans as a whole die out, then some other species will continue to evolve.  If we destroy the planet with pollution and global warming and all the other things that people are worried about — so what?  Organisms will either adapt to the altered environment and pass along their genetically beneficial genes to their children, or they will not.  If all life on the planet ceases, then there’s still always the possibility of amino acids forming in some other part of the universe, being struck by lightning and eventually evolving into sentient beings.

But what if there is a God?  What if we are made in His image and likeness?  Suddenly, then there is absolutely a reason — every reason — for finding out why we were made and what we were made for.  Why do we compete athletically?  To revel in the bodies that God has made for us and in their symmetry, form and amazing capacity.  To form bonds and relationships in the struggle and the teamwork.  Why should we live holy lives?  To, hopefully, go home and live forever in communion with He who created us.

Not only does what we do matter, but we matter.  Individually.  We are unique and special to God, and are utterly irreplaceable.  So each human life is precious and worthy of our concern, help, and protection.  A person’s value is not determined by how well he or she passes on his or her genetic code.  A person’s value is determined by the sheer fact that he or she was made by the Creator.

So, if we have intrinsic value, do we need to achieve?  Well, no.  Not per se.  There is no benchmark of accomplishment to get into Heaven (as far as I know….).

But….

When we struggle and suffer — somehow — God can unite that suffering to Jesus’s suffering on the cross for the benefit of others.

When we achieve, we can inspire others to grow themselves, to be more fully human, to interact, to live, to wonder at the creations of God, to want to get to know God more intimately.  Achievement is always communal, never isolated.  How can you achieve without a benchmark?  How often is achievement recognized as such because of the notice of others?  Ours is not to sit idly by and drift in the wind.  Ours is to form relationships — with God and with others.  And that requires interaction.

It is in our nature to question things, to seek answers, to strive in some way.  And why?  Certainly, there doesn’t seem to be an answer to that question if there is nothing to us besides some random chance.  But if we were created, and created for love — then, there is all the purpose in the world.  For each of us.

Occasionally, Neurons Flicker

So, today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It was actually a little odd going to Mass this morning.  Despite the fact that I usually go to morning Mass, I have been pretty sick lately and haven’t made morning Mass in quite some time.  When I got to church, it was a little surreal — like I had been gone for years.  I think I had forgotten the words to the Gloria and the Creed.  That said, it was a beautiful Mass, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.  Thank you, Fr. Lee!  🙂

This was part of the first reading:

“Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.”

And, while I really don’t get most of Revelation, for a moment, neurons fired and I had this thought.  ‘Hmm.  Maybe this refers to the Church Militant, here on earth, since the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant would be up there in Heaven and Purgatory.’

Interesting thought, eh?  Well, it’s the best I can do this morning.  Enjoy!  🙂

Olympic Fever!!!

Whoo-hoo!  Time for the Olympics!  Watch Jenn turn into the most rabid sports fan ever!  I love-love-love the Olympics!

Here is the Olympic Quote of the Day, thanks to NBC Olympics for the original article:

Phelps and many of the other top swimmers will don a version of the revolutionary suit that has rewritten the record books. Swimmers wearing the suits that can take up to 20 minutes to get into have set 47 of 51 world records this year.

But Markus Rogan of Austria doesn’t give all the credit to the suits.

“I tested it. I threw it in the pool and it didn’t move at all,” he said, “so I’ll still have to swim.”

Just like the rest of life:  God gives you grace, but it’s up to you to do something with it.

The Most Awesome Blog Post in a Long Time!

I just had to re-post this — I nearly choked laughing so hard!  Thanks to Ironic Catholic, who originally posted this here:

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Brett Favre Playing for Vikings?: Parish Prays, Promotes Local Cause for Sainthood

Minneapolis, MN: For some Minnesota Catholics, this past week has been supernaturally sweet.

It’s one thing to watch Green Bay fans writhing and gnashing teeth over the retirement and reinstatement of star quarterback Brett Favre. But it gets better: he may play for the the Packers’ arch-rival, the Minnesota Vikings.

The little known cause of this windfall, according to St. Aloysius Catholic Church, is deceased parishioner Emilia Neibuhr.

Emilia died ten years ago and was beloved by her family and parish. “A holier woman you never saw…she really was a kind, gentle saint,” said her son, Max Neibuhr. “But she had one attachment to the world: Minnesota Vikings football. She never missed a game. We think she’s behind all this.”

This isn’t wishful thinking. Her grandchildren have been actively promoting her cause to sainthood by encouraging parishioners to pray to Emilia to intercede to God, asking for the retired Favre to play for the enemy Vikings. “We wanted something the Vatican couldn’t dispute as being a miracle, and this was it,” said granddaughter Catherine. “I mean, Favre was the King of Green Bay. This is like seeing the Pharaoh in Exodus repent and give the Israelites run of Egypt! Grandma’s holiness is pulling big strings behind the scenes, you betcha.”

Her former pastor, Fr. John Billington, seems to agree, already calling Emilia “servant of God”.

“As a priest, I cannot express my personal opinions on so heated a political topic…I can only speak to the principles within the controversy,” he said. “But everyone knows that community-owned team in Wisconsin is a pack of commie socialist cheeseheads who hate subsidiarity and Pope Leo XIII. So… let your conscience be your guide.”

“Ya, I’m rooting for Emilia,” he smiled.

Favre could not be reached for comment.