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Showing posts from January, 2014

The Art of the Selfie

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I went for a run a few days back - just before our latest cold snap - and happened to leave just before sundown. Gravel crunched underneath my blue running shoes as I ran around the Reservoir near Boston College's campus, the air was cool and crisp and I felt grateful to get an hour away from my desk.

At a certain bend in the road, a pristine spot where there's enough of a gap between the tress to allow an unobstructed view of the sky, I saw a teenage girl. She was just standing there, one arm held out in front of her face. She was, I am assuming, snapping "selfie" pictures: those pictures one takes of oneself in various locations.

This was a gorgeous location. Perhaps the earth was tilted just right, but a molten red sun was just kissing the earth's horizon directly behind her. Seen from where I was standing (I sort of slowed to a bit of a walk) it looked as if she had donned an oversized halo. In a word, the sunset was gorgeous. The girl knew it, too, but didn…

The Tasting Crew

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This wine-tasting crew. I apologize for not being as effusive/elaborate as I was in June, but our group has grown (several others are missing) and it's hard to keep up!
By the end of the evening, the ten of us who participated sample three white wines and seven reds. We had a lot of fun, to be sure, but the size of the group really made it difficult to do any exhaustive analysis: we'll have to re-adjust the size next time. 

2007 Arocho

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Right off the bat, we noted this wine needed air. This is very fruit-forward, very bright.

John Nugent: This reminds me of a spring day on the banks of the Brazos River. I would linger there, watching clouds, daydreaming of the future when I would be a thirty-something Jesuit who drank delicious wines in Brighton, MA. Alas, like the clouds that danced across the sky, this wine does not have much finish and vanishes quickly.


Sean enjoyed the color. That was enough for us. 
Meghan: Prompted to give an emotion, she shared an experience of a student who once said, "it made me feel empty inside." It's tangy, a bit tangy.
Deacon Paul: He loves his dainty glass. His forelock falling across his face, he muses, "It'd be very attractive for a desperate housewife. Then again, I'm a few Martini's in, so I can't be trusted." So it has been said, so it must be. 


2011 Primus

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Joe Garcia drew my attention to this wine last summer. Thank goodness he did! Although some of us were familiar with it, I thought it a good pick for tonight's tasting.



Father Clifford: BALANCE. Anyone who can blend five wines so well must be very smart. Depth of flavor. Marvels, over and again, at the skill of the blending. 
Liz, draining the glass, admitted it was rather good. 
Randy: Very very enjoyable. Nicely balanced and deep; good fruit; lovely bouquet. Tastes berry and a hint of smoke. 

Sean: wants to know why "Red" wine doesn't taste like fruit punch. 
Spiritual Bouquet: 4 Chalices. 

2011 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay

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Liz notes this as being "sharp, tangy, and saucy."

Father Clifford referred to it as "big and fruity, it bowls you over." This, of course, elicited great laughter from the group because it's so true. He rightly noted the pear aroma.

Randy, the great "Dessert Father," thought on this for some time. He enjoyed this wine, but doesn't know what to say: it's a good all-around wine, but he's not sure that he'd buy it again. Abba Clifford agreed with this, as the wine is not particularly interesting. Randy concluded, "Would that every glass of Chardonnay I had tasted this good."

Sean bemoaned that he couldn't tell this difference between this wine and the first. We had to remind him that he hadn't yet changed wines and was still on the Fume. Clearly, this is going to be a long night.

Spiritual Bouquet: 3.5 Chalices.

Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc

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Our first bottle is the 2012 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc. Father Clifford remarked after its viscosity; Meghan and Liz were taken with its comely "mouthfeel."

Randy enjoyed it, noting pensively that it is both rich and heavy. He agrees with Bobby that one can readily detect pineapple, citrus, and it's a bit grassy. Randy noted it was a bit rococo: very rich, oaky, nothing at all austere. A tad over the top. 
Sean thought he detected hints of saddle leather and must. We were puzzled, of course, until we saw that he was licking his shoe. We can't speculate on how this came up, of course, but we quickly replaced the shoe for a glass. 
Group: 4 chalices!

Wine Team, Assemble!

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Just over six months ago, several severely under-worked divinity school students gathered together in order to "discern spirits" by which, we of course meant, sampling a variety of wines one could purchase at the Costco. On this mild winter night in Brighton, I have once again put the conch shell to my lips and let the call go out across the land: Wine Team, Assemble!

The call has gone out and it has been heard. From across the Boston area, men and women of good will are gathering together to drink inexpensive wine, to pretend to have an idea of what we're talking about, and to spend some time with one another. 
Now, we're not total rubes. We have standards. Accordingly, we have developed a ranking system for our wines surely in keeping with the spirit of Vatican II: 1 Chalice: Jesus went to the Cross so that you could make this? Was this the "wine mixed with gall" he refused (Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:23). Definitely a mortal sin.2 Chalices: This is probably a…

Healing, Teaching, and Holiness

Every so often, we see in the news stories of parents or bosses who use cameras hidden in teddy bears or coffee pots to capture abusive nannies or lazy employees. Of course, we should make every effort to protect our children and bosses are responsible for the future of their companies. What is interesting, however, is that the 30-second clip of abuse that goes viral on YouTube or that makes the news is usually only a small bit, a fragment, of a lot of tape. Hours and hours and hours may have gone by before anything out-of-the-ordinary was captured.

I suspect if we installed video cameras throughout our homes and workplaces, cameras that recorded each and every move, we'd learn a great deal. We'd learn which of our children doesn't unload the dishwasher, doesn't wash hands after using the toilet, does drink milk straight from the jug. If we watched the replay of several weeks, we might come to realize that we have a pattern for dressing, a distinct way of playing with…

Vocations at the Beach

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Today's Gospel, taken from Mark 1:14-20, recounts Jesus' calling Simon (Peter) and Andrew. It's a quickly unfolding story: Jesus walks by the shore, takes note of the two brothers lowering their nets into the water, and Jesus calls. They get up, apparently immediately, and follow. Just for good measure, Jesus calls a second pair of brothers - James and John - while they were mending their nets. 
Not a bad morning's work, I reckon: a stroll along the beach with a 'net' result of four followers. 
Note: if you can find a job in vocation promotion that requires only a morning stroll down the beach with the hope of getting four people to follow as disciples, then sign me up!
It seems to me that, very often, people stress the suddenness of the fishermen's response to Jesus' summons: he calls, they follow. This has never struck me as either credible or helpful. I mean, who is crazy enough to leave behind everything based simply on a call from a guy on the shor…

My Return to the Walking Dead

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If the new year found me back on the road as a runner, it has also found me returned to the television to watch AMC's The Walking Dead. It's a show I began watching several years ago, while I was still a high school teacher, but one I've not kept up with as much as I'd have liked. I mean, the gods of television place before the viewer a seemingly un-winnable situation: one must, apparently, choose between zombies and Downton Abbey.

A few months back, I managed to catch up on Season 3. Last night, I started season 4. It does seem a somewhat macabre start to the new year: flesh-eating zombies laying siege to humans seeking refuge in an abandoned prison. After vampires, I think zombies are my favorite type of "monster." I think, however, that I like vampires because they're fantastic creatures. I like zombies, not because they're fantastic, but because they're just like us.

I believe I have observed this before, but the very nature of the zombie chan…

For the Good of the Church

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It was with great excitement that I read of a new beer being brewed by the Trappist monks of Saint Joseph's Abbey here in Spencer, Massachusetts. Definitely check out the Boston Globe's article "Monks in Spencer launch brewery."

There is even is snazzy website where you can learn about Spencer Trappist Ale, order a nifty beer chalice, and read about the establishment of the brewery.

Although I've spent the last few years attempting to cultivate a greater appreciation for wine, I suspect my first love will always be good beer. Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio I was spoiled by having immediate access to The Great Lakes Brewing Company and, more recently, Fat Head's Brewery. That this beer goes on sale here in Massachusetts this upcoming Wednesday has made the start of the new semester just a little bit brighter.

St. Joseph's Abbey is justly famous for its preserves and its liturgical vestments. I applaud this new venture undertaken by the monks...or, perhaps …

Running Again

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After a rather long hiatus, I recently began running again. Well, I would call it running because my feet move faster than usual. The casual observer, however, might describe it more as a particularly fast walk or, perhaps, loping.

It's not that I ever really decided to stop running in the first place. In May 2009, I ran the Cleveland Marathon and continued to run throughout the summer. As I began teaching that fall, I found I had to get up very early if I wanted to get an appreciable run in each day. With the onset of winter, I found it increasingly difficult to navigate seldom-shoveled sidewalks and poorly plowed streets. In addition, I had found other ways of exercising (yoga, the Insanity workout program) in my room.

I don't know that I suffered physically from this abandonment: my cardio health is strong, I maintain a healthy weight, and overall am in good health. That said, I do know that the years of exercising in my room has not been ideal. When I think of it, I'm…