30 March 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 95

When looking for images for the readalong, I was surprised to find audiobook "cover art" among the top images. Not being a big audiobook "reader" (though I love having an audience for "read aloud" =P), I'm a little surprised. Is anyone here using an audio copy of The Secret of the Rosary--and if so, do you think it affects how you receive St. Louis de Montfort's preaching?

I should like to give you even more reason for embracing this devotion which so many great souls have practised; the Rosary recited with meditation on the mysteries brings about the following marvelous results:

1. it gradually gives us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ;
2. it purifies our souls, washing away sin;
3. it gives us victory over all our enemies;
4. it makes it easy for us to practise virtue;
5. it sets us on fire with love of Our Blessed Lord;
6. it enriches us with graces and merits;
7. it supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellow men, and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces for us from Almighty God.

There are probably a million reasons to pray the rosary, but I'm starting to think they shouldn't be presented in a list. What we should be aiming for is more of a unified field theory. For every possible benefit of the rosary is related to all the others. Taken together, they give us a much bigger picture than that of the rosary as just one of many beneficial devotions.  

29 March 2014


Early Edition: Bank Holdup

But why does it come with a furry fiend?

Now that Breaking Bad has raised the bar on plotting, it's a little difficult to go back to the way TV shows were twenty years ago. But Early Edition is just so vintage that I can't help myself. So here we go with another TV-based blog series!

If you never watched the show, it's basically a thirteen-episode answer to the question, "What would you do if you got tomorrow's newspaper today?"

24 March 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 94

Something I didn't expect when I picked The Secret of the Rosary for a readalong was that it would also provide interesting historical details from St. Louis de Montfort's time. It confirms some big conflicts, like strong Calvinist opposition to the rosary and the brown scapular, and reveals some surprising trends among the faithful, like a distaste for traditional prayers. In a passage on the Our Father, St. Louis writes . . .

I have a word for you, devout souls, who pay little attention to the prayer that the Son of God gave us Himself and asked us all to say: It is high time for you to change your way of thinking. You only like prayers that men have written--as though anybody, even the most inspired man in the whole world, could possibly know more about how we ought to pray than Jesus Christ Himself! You look for prayers in books written by other men almost as though you were ashamed of saying the Prayer that Our Lord told us to say.

You have managed to convince yourself that the prayers in these books are for scholars and for rich people of the upper classes and that the Rosary is only for women and children and the lower classes. As if the prayers and praises which you have been reading were more beautiful and more pleasing to God than those which are to be found in the Lord's Prayer! It is a very dangerous temptation to lose interest in the Prayer that Our Lord gave us and to take up prayers that men have written instead.

What do you suppose St. Louis would have written if he had had us moderns in mind? Based on objections I have heard, I think he'd warn us not to think of formula prayer as a contrived or insincere way of talking to God, which would lead us to reject the rosary as inferior to our own words . . . or perhaps, inferior to "tongues." (I probably shouldn't insert my favourite emoticon here, aye?)

21 March 2014


Sliders: Speakeasy

Let's begin with another round of
"What's wrong with this picture?"

This is the last Sliders episode I'll be writing about on Shredded Cheddar, but not the last of my TV posts. About a month ago, I realised there was another 90s series that: a) I didn't really watch back then, b) is episodic in format, and c) asks the question "What if . . .?" in its very intro. (Can you guess what it is???) And when I learned that it debuted the same year that Sliders Season 2 crashed and burned, I realised I had a strong candidate for my next project. If the pilot is halfway decent, I'll commit myself to blogging about the first season.

19 March 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 93

Where did I ever get the idea that the rosary was "everyone's devotion"? Since Lent started, I've been running into devout Catholics admitting that they're just not that into it. Now, I don't think the rosary's popularity is a case worthy of The Emperor's New Clothes, but there seem to be a significant number of Catholics spending forever trying to get that mystical rose tree to take root in their souls, compared to the Catholics basking in the scent of its blooms. And this inspires the reasonable question of why you'd persist with the rosary when there are so many other beautiful and traditional devotions you could pray instead.

Early in The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort reminds us of St. Dominic's reasons for persisting . . .

. . . Our Lady appeared to him, accompanied by three Angels, and she said:

"Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?"

"Oh, my Lady," answered Saint Dominic, "you know far better than I do because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation."

Then Our Lady replied: "I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter."

St. Dominic's use of the rosary as a spiritual weapon resonates with me. It's similar to the reason that got me started. I wanted a tool that would let me focus my prayer, and the rosary was as good as a laser. Although I actually hadn't known the full story of how St. Dominic received the rosary until I read it here (hashtag believe it or not), I picked up the basic principle anyway from my family, my school, and probably my entire culture. For I do know where I got the idea about "everyone" and the rosary, the keyword being "where": the Philippines might as well be called Mary's Sunny Rosary Islands.

14 March 2014



This post is kind of late because it's about my word for 2014, and posts like this are usually published in January . . . or early February. =P Although I knew my new word as early as that, I didn't want to blog about it just for the sake of blogging about it, and a proper opportunity didn't arise until last week. So here's your first clue . . .

Well, what do you see? ;-)

Another reason I dragged my feet about writing this post is that I said last year that the best word is a verb. And as you can see, this year, my word is a noun. A verb is at least implied, because my full resolution is "To grow some you-know-what" (Get it now?), but it's more fun for me to stick with the noun going forward.

12 March 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 92

Just when you thought that Michael Crichton's novel State of Fear and St. Louis de Montfort's Secret of the Rosary would have absolutely nothing in common . . . because, admit it, you did think that . . . and by "you," I mostly mean "I" . . . the ever-amazing "Two or Three" Book Club members proved us wrong by turning a discussion of the Ecology of Thought into a debate about which Catholic traditions we could probably afford to lose. And while it's true that "small-T traditions" like the rosary don't have the weight of "big-T Traditions" like the Assumption of Mary, the question remains of what it would mean for us if the "mystical rose tree" that is so abundant all over the Catholic ecosystem were to become endangered . . . or even to go extinct.  

Good and devout souls, who walk in the light of the Holy Spirit: I do not think that you will mind my giving you this little mystical rose tree which comes straight from Heaven and which is to be planted in the garden of your soul. It cannot possibly harm the sweet smelling flowers of your contemplations; for it is a heavenly tree and its scent is beautiful. It will not in the least interfere with your carefully planned flower beds; for, being itself all pure and well-ordered, it inclines all to order and purity. If it is carefully watered and properly attended to every day it will grow to such a marvelous height and its branches will have such a wide span that, far from hindering your other devotions, it will maintain and perfect them.

. . . this mystical rose tree is Jesus and Mary in life, death and eternity; its green leaves are the Joyous Mysteries, the thorns the Sorrowful ones and the flowers, the Glorious Mysteries of Jesus and Mary. The buds are the childhood of Jesus and Mary, and the open blooms show us both of them in their sufferings, and the full-blown roses symbolize Jesus and Mary in their triumph and glory.

The ecosystem model would make St. Louis de Montfort the "Johnny Appleseed" of the rosary. If you smile at that, you're a Catholic. For there are some other Christians who might classify the rosary as an invasive species doing great damage to the good and true ideas of Christianity. But as I recently learned, there are more than just a monolithic "Catholic" way and a monolithic "anti-Catholic" way to see the rosary . . .

08 March 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 91

While there's a sense in which we always end up doing something I want, this will be another Lent of not pretending that Shredded Cheddar is a democracy. As you can see, I have the next book all picked out and I hope you don't hold it against me too much.

07 March 2014


Sneaky, Sneaky Book Thieves: A Post about YOU!

Did you know that borrowing books is stealing from the author? So declared a certain writer I'm not going to name, since I occasionally swim in the book blogosphere's more barracuda-infested waters and I don't want her to get attacked. But I do want to give the idea itself more consideration.

If an author told you that borrowing books instead of buying them is theft, what would your first reaction be? I was totally rubbed the wrong way, and I buy a lot of books. Perhaps it rubbed me the wrong way because I buy a lot of books.

03 March 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 90

"Everyone has an agenda. Except me."
-- Michael Crichton

This is the final Book Club meeting for Michael Crichton's State of Fear and a spoiler-free post on the Author's Message, appendices and bibliography. Thanks so much to Amy, Bat, Bob, Christopher, Jess, LTG, Melanie, R, and Sheila for participating in previous meetings, and to Brandon for including Meeting 88 among one of his Notable Notes and Linkable Links! Thanks also to the commenter who admitted that he has been staying away from the blog precisely because he doesn't want to have to deal with this book: he has managed to become the most intriguing element of this whole experience. I mean, WHY???

There are so many more things about State of Fear to discuss, but if I touched on everything worthy of mention, I'd probably take half a year to get through the novel. And the abstaining commenter would never come back to my blog. =P So I hope that this final post on the matter will do.

02 March 2014


Sliders: Nature Preserve

There may not be a TV in this episode, but there's a TV camera. And it's used halfway well. I'll take what I can get. I mean, it makes some sense for our main cast to end up on the evening news in a world where "the unvarnished truth" is valued so highly that everyone must wear a collar that gives you an electric shock for telling a lie: they wouldn't be able to keep their secret so easily. (Plot Hole Alert! Is there no equivalent of the Fifth Amendment in this version of the USA? You'd think it would be many Americans' favourite part of the Bill of Rights. =P)

It's the collars I don't like much. While it's great that Sliders has finally attempted to show how an artefact from one slide could influence events in your next world, the collars don't actually do anything for the plot. Yes, it's interesting to think about how many little white lies we tell even ourselves on a regular basis . . . but such philosophical musings are as out of place in this world as an Allosaurus in modern San Francisco.