Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Book of Mormon


This musical is the delightful story of 2 young Mormon missionaries and their attempt to convert Ugandans to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The true story of the founding of the “all-American” church is told to us. The story is then distorted by one of the missionaries to make it appealing to the Ugandans. It works. They want to be baptized.

However the Regional LDS chief disbands‎ the District of Missionaries when he sees how the ‎true story was vulgarly distorted. Despite this, the converted Ugandans including the local strongman go on to become Mormon missionaries themselves.

The element of youth embracing the faith on their own terms and believing despite counter directives of the hierarchy, is appealing to all ages. So what if some rules are broken – souls are saved!

Not everyone found it funny though as some of the humour is more vulgar or ‎graphic than need be. The man next to me refused to applaud and laughed only rarely. We have met some young Mormons before and found them to be highly engaging, family and fun loving people.

Very clear story line, fantastic live music and singing, great stage props and choreography. Highly entertaining and educational. Highly recommend.‎ 4.5 of 5 stars.


Happy Birthday Marie!


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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church

This is a thinly disguised attack on Vatican II.  90% of the book explores the details of the struggles in determining who would be named Pope after the death of the reigning Vicar of Christ. It’s all about power and who get’s it through political and financial manouvering and even by killing. It was very dangerous to accept being named Pope as the sore losers come to kill you so that they will  be named.  At one point there are 3 Popes all claiming they are the true holder of St. Peter’s keys. Hence it is clear that this illegitimate succession process taints the Church from day 1 – the day Pope Sylvester 1 accepted Constantine’s offer to fuse the Christian church with the Roman Empire for temporal gain and spiritual reach. 
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Sylvester I and Constantine

The establishment of the democratic “conclave” succession process by Gregory X in 1074, does improve things.  However secular influence of rulers and monarchs continued resulting in deadlocked conclaves, delays and competing factions.
Image result for John XXII
The last 10% of the book deals with recent Popes.  John the XXIII below is the main precipitator of the decline.  According to Fr. Martin, John overlooks the fact that Satan and evil really do exist in the world. Vatican II reform in 1965 declares the Church to be the People of God and no longer the Kingdom of God. Fr. Martin then describes Paul VI as very wishy-washy who no one can support as he changes position on issues continuously.  Theologians and Bishops outright disagree with his Rome.  Pope John Paul II inherits this mess but it is too late for even a formidable conservative theologian and statesman like him to rectify the damage.  The book ends somewhat abruptly 3 years into John Paul II’s pontificate.
In certain ways Fr. Martin’s predication has turned out to be true.  Church attendance in Europe and North America has declined significantly.  However this is due to modernism or secularism where people today see themselves in no need of third-party intervention in achieving their own salvation.  This is hardly due to the Church changing too much or to poor leadership.  The world has changed and if anything the Church has not changed fast or far enough. Supernaturalism is out. The rise of science, technology and modernism has swamped the boat regardless of who was at the helm.
This book published in 1981 makes for interesting historical reading however it misses the mark on why our trust in the Church institution and faith in general has declined in the last 50 years.  3.5 out of 5 stars.

‎For a more current view I am seeking to read Cardinal Sarah’s God or Nothing if anyone has a copy I could borrow? Ciau!

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Lord of the World

The Holy Roman Emperor HENRY IV, 1050-1106, doing penance before Pope Gregory VII at Canossa, in January 1077King Henry IV of Germany, the Holy Roman Emperor, knelt in the freezing cold screaming I am sorry, so sorry – mumbling mercy, mercy, penance, pardon as he wept real tears.

Who was he addressing and why?  Why it’s Pope Gregory VII standing in the window of the Canossa fortress with his powerful benefactor Mathilda, Countess of Tuscany.
What had led the fiery 21-year-old emperor to petition the 52-year-old Pope in this way on a cold Jan 25, 1077?
Image result for pope gregory vii
Named Hildebrand at birth, Pope Gregory VII was the son of a Lombard carpenter. He had been a monk of Cluny as a boy where he learned about discipline, order, celibacy and centralized authority. He went on to serve as a minister or legate for 5 different popes. On April 10, 1073 upon the death of Pope Alexander II, the Cardinals chose him as Pope, though some said he had bought it with gold.
Equally fiery, Pope Gregory had some big reform ideas. He wanted to rid the Church of investiture, simony and married clergy. He almost succeeded.  His feud with Henry IV is known as the “Investiture Feud”.
Investiture was the feudal practice of kings, princes, noblemen and strongman rulers appointing bishops, abbots and priests to ‘benefices’ or landed estates. Western Europe was awash with such ecclesiastical real estate holdings and had so fallen under control of numerous local rulers. There was no such thing as a nation or state in those days.
Compounding this was the practice called simony where bishops, abbots and priests bought their abbey or bishopric. Local rulers could be bought more easily than Popes.  There were no nations or states yet as we now know them.  Even the Papacy itself could be and was bought!
Thirdly, the absence of clerical celibacy. The majority of priests and bishops were married and had wife and children.  This meant they needed to earn a living and simony or selling ecclesial power was a compelling way.
After the 5 previous popes had failed in these reform attempts, Gregory found significant support from Cardinals and lay benefactors. He simply banned these practices but went too far by also declaring that the Pope is above ‎all other rulers – unique in the world.   A nation-state that fused spiritual and temporal power in one person was his vision and a new and dangerous idea. Unfortunately, Gregory’s self-interest in this got the better of him.
Henry the IV simply ignored the ban and went on appointing and selling bishoprics and clergy positions. Pope Gregory responded by excommunicating Henry and all his subjects  and noblemen, meaning that they were no longer under Henry’s control. This started a revolt and made Henry a marked man where anyone could‎ walk up and kill him.
Image result for Henry IV Germany excommunicated
Hence he came to Italy to plea for forgiveness‎ with a promise to comply with Gregory’s plan. After 3 days, Gregory finally admitted the humiliated and frozen Henry to the castle and forgave him.  Henry was further humbled during Mass and realized the spiritual weapons Gregory wielded far outdid his armies and imperial power.
But Gregory’s victory was hollow. Henry returned to Germany, disposed of the rebellious subjects and gathered his military forces. He invaded Rome 4 times. Eventually, Gregory ended up a refugee in Castel Sant’ Angelo.  Gregory was rescued by his Norman allies but exiled to Salerno where he died in 1085. His grand reforms having failed.
Today th‎ere are no statues of Gregory in Rome and he is all but forgotten.  Nevertheless,  Gregory changed the world forever – he buried the notion of a “Christian Republic”.  The emergence of “states” and “nations” and formation of the papal chancellery that survives today are Gregory’s monuments.
But what of the lovely Mathilda.  She went on to found many churches and win many battles helping to reestablish Urban II as Pope.  Henry V named her Imperial Vicar and Vice Queen of Italy.   She died in 1115 of gout.  After her death, an aura of legend came to surround Matilda. Church historians gave her the character of a semi-nun, solely dedicated to contemplation and faith. Some argue, instead, that she was a woman of strong passions of both spiritual and carnal nature (indicated by her supposed affairs with Popes Gregory VII and Urban II).

Mathilda’s tombstone at St. Peter’s Basilica

And thus ended the great investiture feud.

(Adpated from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church by Malachi Martin c1981)

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Celebrating Life


When we are born we become free to breathe on our own but lose the safety of our mother’s body; when we go to school we are free to join a greater society but lose a particular place in our family; when we marry we find a new partner but lose the special tie we had with our parents; when we find work we win our independence by making our own money but lose the stimulation of teachers and fellow students; when we receive children we discover a new world but lose much of the freedom to move; when we are promoted we become more important in the eyes of others but lose the chance to take many risks; when we retire we finally have the chance to do what we want but lose the support of being wanted.
When we have been able to celebrate life in all these decisive moments where gaining and losing – that is, life and death – touched each other all the time, we will able to celebrate even our own dying because we have learned from life that those who lose it can find it (cf. Matt. 16:25).
Henry Nouwen
Creative Ministry c1991

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I used to be a liberal but…

.. now I am not so sure.  This has nothing to do with Justin Trudeau or Kathleen Wynne.

The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power by [Phillips, Melanie]
I just finished reading The World Turned Upside Down – the Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power written in 2010 by Melanie Phillips. Who is Me‎lanie Philips?
She is a British journalist with a long history. Jewish by birth she was a “liberal” who was criticized about her views on science, gay rights, climate change, Palestinian rights, feminism, multiculturalism and Islam – all non negotiables of the left. She is now seen as right-wing.  You can read about her past and present here.
I came across this book in the surplus bin at the library just before fleeing winter, and brought it along.
Her thesis is freedom is giving way to coercion in the West.‎  People now assume that to be secular is to be enlightened and to be religious is to be irrational.
Objectivity that once allowed us to be sure of who we are as individuals and as a nation, has all been eroded away.  Our culture has been upended by moral and cultural relativism.  This is the fruit of the Enlightenment where individual reason becomes king over the Church and frees us from hierarchical structures.  But political correctness reigns supreme based on a culture of victim-hood and promoting minority rights.  The majority culture is wrong and needs to apologize.  Reason and democracy have been hijacked by the forces of the left which cannot tolerate dissent.
Truth is now subjective – whatever I want it to be.  I interpret the world from my viewpoint and that is my Truth.  Yours is whatever your experience says it is for you. We are no longer a society built on the solid bedrock of Judeo-Christian theology. We have abandoned belief in the supernatural in the name of science, materialism and naturalism, all darlings of the left.  Yet science divorced from religion has not been able to answer the  basic questions like why we are here or where we came from.
I found her arguments very plausible in explaining how we got into the mess we are in today. She is particularly critical of the failed Church of England and reminds us that the religious goal of Islam is world domination. Israel is in the forefront of confronting Islam and has a right to defend itself.  It is in our interests to support it.
Furthermore, Britain is in the forefront of western societal decay and with garbage piled high and feral children roaming the streets  – Londonistan.

What is chilling is that 6 years later we have “Brexit” – Britain has indeed had enough of the leftist European Union pluralistic, all cultures are equal rhetoric.  America too has had enough of Obamaism and Clintonism and elected Donald Trump to make the U.S. great again.  Authoritarian type governments are gaining power in Poland, Spain, Turkey and elsewhere.  Is Canada next?  Are we immune?

While I did not read every chapter of this heavily documented work, in the moment I give it a strong 4.5 out of 5 stars for making me think enough to reassess my values.


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A Sunny New Years

Just before New Year’s, Marie’s nephew Bradley paid us a surprise visit.  He and his wife were in Englewood and hour north of here for Christmas, so he came down.  We chatted and went to Bucketts for pizza night.  A few days later his mom and dad arrived too for a short visit – Kevin and Phyllis from St Jean, NB.


The happy family


Marie with brother Kevin at Bowditch Beach Park


With Phyllis


Things progressed quickly and we went up to Englewood for a return visit.  The beach there is superb with even more shells than Sanibel.  Very low key, less commercialized and no traffic adds to the ambience of this lesser known beach destination.



Brad and Heather are teachers living in Shanghai

Brad has led an interesting life.  He is a phys ed teacher at international private schools having lived in Bucharest, Abu Dabi, Mexico, Madagascar, (elsewhere) and now China.  He and Heather live in downtown Shanghai and scooter to work every day.  Heather’s mom and dad are from Michigan and live in Florida where Brad and Heather hope to retire in 10 years.  Pretty cool.


After beach time, we made it to a nearby church for a beautiful New Year’s Eve service that was packed.


Stopping to get some refreshments on the way back to Brad and Heather’s condo, we were stunned to arrive just in time, without planning, to take this photo.


That’s Brad and Heather in the shadows

We had a feast of lobster claws, crab claws, sauerkraut, homemade squares and Christmas cake that Phyllis had brought.  All washed down with copious quantities of IPA, red and white wine, rum etc.  What a great family New Years celebration.  We then headed (3 min walk) to Flounders for live entertainment, mostly outside, typical Florida casual.



Happy New Year!

We said our good byes in the morning after breakfast at Denny’s.  Marie and I stopped at Boca Grande – like Sanibel but without the crowds.  One of the nicest beaches you will find anywhere around here surrounded by water on 3 sides.




In the moment, we give thanks to the Lord for a great 2016 and we enter 2017 with much hope, excitement and anticipation of Kyle and Ashley’s wedding in May.  Bye for now.




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Getting Ready for the New Year

What better way to get ready for the New Year’s celebration but a trip to the theatre just down the road.


…to see…


It was a great live dance road show.  Not the competition we see on TV.  The professional dancers danced their hearts out for us and told us their individual stories.  Several were from poor families in Russia, Ukraine and South Africa.  The common thread was their parents believed in them and gave them the support and encouragement they needed when they needed it.  In some cases like the dancer below, they had to overcome an abusive situation to persevere and succeed.


Shawna was captivating


The popular Val dances up a storm


2016 amateur winner Laurie Hernandez takes a bow

It was hard to get in as the event had been sold out for weeks.  The last day a few tickets became available so we were able to go.  It was a great evening!


Marie is now checking out the yoga schedule for January.  Pass times for Dave include golf.  There is an executive par 3 course just a few kilometers away that has some great discounted rates.  Dave has played there twice so far meeting some nice people and enjoying the beauty and wildlife.




And of course there was time for another trip to the beach. There are 4 beaches within 30 min: Fort Myers (best people watching), Bunche Beach (best tranquility), Sanibel Island (best shelling) and Cape Coral Yacht Club (best parties).



At Bunche Beach

We then headed to our local go-to pub for half price pizza night as we get ready for New Year’s.



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