Hopes and Dreams (This Train)

By Bruce Springsteen

Big wheels roll through fields
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

This train carries saints and sinners
This train carries losers and winners
This train carries whores and gamblers
This train carries lost souls

I said, this train dreams will not be thwarted
This train faith will be rewarded
This train hear the steel wheels singin’
This train bells of freedom ringin’

This train carries saints and sinners
This train carries losers and winners
This train carries whores and gamblers
This train carries lost souls

I said, this train carries broken-hearted
This train thieves and sweet souls departed
This train carries fools and kings
This train, all aboard

 

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St. Augustine on the love of God

St. Augustine statue at St. Augustine Catholic Church (est. 1854) near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.

When he poses the question, “What do I love when I love my God?” St. Augustine responded:

“Not the beauty of any bodily thing, nor the order of seasons, not the brightness of light that rejoices the eye, nor the sweet melodies of all songs, nor the sweet fragrance of flowers and ointments and spices: not manna nor honey, not the limbs that carnal love embraces. None of these things do I love in loving my God.

“Yet in a sense I do love light and melody and fragrance and food and embrace when I love my God–the light and the voice and the fragrance and the food and embrace in the soul, when that light shines upon my soul which no place can contain, that voice sounds which no time can take from me, I breathe that fragrance which no wind scatters, I eat the food which is not lessened by eating, and I lie in the embrace which satiety never comes to sunder. This it is that I love, when I love my God.”

— Translated by F.J. Sheed, Confessions (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 2006), 193.

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Elvis Presley awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom: Along side Babe Ruth, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Roger Staubach, Elvis Presley (1935-1977) was awarded the nation’s highest civilian commendation. He sold more than a billion records and starred in 31 films.

“Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth,” once said Presley. “I just sorta do ‘em all together, I guess.”

Still Takin’ Care of Business.

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Ordinary Superhero: Stan Lee (1922-2018)

Photo by Gage Skidmore

By Leo Partible

Stan Lee is a rock star. He is the Elvis of comic books. He didn’t create the medium, nor did he invent the superhero, but he was responsible for popularizing both for the masses. Like Elvis, he understood the possibilities, molding and reinventing the story and structure of the comic book, as well as deconstructing and reconstructing the mythology and the archetypes of the superhero story. Blessed with both a literary sophistication and the soul of a childlike dreamer, the witty and gregarious Stan Lee was the first comic creator to have a personal connection with his audience. And in doing so, he became the name and the face synonymous with the art form.

Elvis was the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and today, still in the prime of his life and still creating new concepts, Stan Lee is the King of Comic Books. But even more, because of the phenomenal success of the films based on his Marvel Comics characters, Stan Lee is a brand name. He is Walt Disney.

As we sat down in his Beverly Hills office, Stan Lee settled into his chair. For a moment, his eyes focused on the familiar symbol hanging from the chain around my neck. He asked with a tinge of concern, “Is there a reason you have Superman symbol on your chain?” I understood the implication, wearing merchandise associated with Stan’s competition. I answered with a slight crack in my voice, “Is that heresy?” He broke out in a warm and reassuring smile and pointed to a picture on his bookshelf. There was Stan in an iconic pose, ripping open his shirt to reveal the famous Superman logo. I laughed and added, “I also noticed you have a big picture of you in your lobby outside – the one where you’re sitting next to a life-size statue of Clark Kent. That was taken inside the DC offices, wasn’t it?” Stan snickered like a kid caught in the act, brushing off the obvious irony. “You realize you probably saved the character as well as the rest of DC Comics,” I said with great affection. He beamed. “I suppose I did.” Continue reading

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In Finland, Metal Rocks Churches

By Pauline Curtet, This is Finland

Finnish heavy metal pioneers such as Nightwish, Apocalyptica and HIM, known worldwide, proved to be inspiring. Since 2006, a priest has regularly organised metal mass – mass for metal music fans – in churches around Finland.

It’s eight o’clock on a cold Saturday night in the southwestern Finnish city of Turku. Several hundred people enter Archangel Michael’s Church to attend a special kind of mass. In this service, a heavy metal band – complete with singer, bassist, drummer, keyboardist and two guitarists – performs the religious hymns.

“We didn’t change the lyrics of the hymns,” says Haka Kekäläinen, the 50-year-old priest presiding over the mass. “We only changed the musical arrangements to fit the rhythms of metal music.” He looks exactly like a metalhead: dark hair down to his shoulders, a long beard and – when he isn’t wearing his priestly robes – a leather coat. Continue reading

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Remembering the beautiful lives murdered at Tree of Life Synagogue

Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59; David Rosenthal, 54; Bernice Simon, 84; Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; Irving Younger, 69. Beautiful lives. Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Please read Lou Weiss’s piece in the Wall Street Journal, “Amalek Comes to Pittsburgh.” “There are not so many of us Jews in the world—something like 0.2% of the population—so we pride ourselves on punching above our weight. We introduced some of the foundational ideas of Western civilization: the sanctity of human life, uniform morality, freedom, concern for the downtrodden, the weekend. 

“Sadly we are also above average in attracting evil people who hate what we stand for….The archetype for all anti-Semites is Amalek. His cowardly specialty was picking off the old, weak and infirm stragglers at the back of the Exodus pack. Saturday’s murderer was Amalek brought to life, as he mainly killed old and mentally challenged members of all three of the resident congregations.”

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Sea monsters, giants and angels, oh my! Why you should study the Bible’s scary, surprising monsters

William Blake, who is best known for his poetry, drew pictures of scenes described in the Bible. In this illustration, Satan afflicts Job with sores and boils.

By Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Still searching for a spooky Halloween costume? Try reading the Bible for inspiration. Old and New Testament stories describe sea monsters, giants and avenging spirits that are just as scary as the vampires or zombies we see on TV, according to religion scholars. People of faith just don’t retell these tales very often, preferring more comforting religious messages.

“A lot of people don’t have a way of knowing that there are monsters throughout the Bible because so many of them have been tamed or domesticated,” said Esther J. Hamori, an associate professor of the Hebrew Bible at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Take cherubim, for example. Today, we think of them as “happy, fat angel babies,” but in the Bible they’re winged guardians who sometimes have the body of a lion, Hamori noted. “That’s always a slight shock to my students,” she said.

By redesigning or ignoring biblical monsters, we miss out on more than great costume ideas, Hamori and others explained. We miss a chance to have deeper conversations about why bad things happen and how God wants us to respond. Continue reading

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In-N-Out celebrates 70 years of Tastiness

“No Microwaves, No Freezers, No Heat Lamps.” Happy 70th anniversary to my beloved In-N-Out. While I happily live in Whataburger territory, I’m an unrepentant hustler for the Animal Style Double-Double. So was the late Anthony Bourdain. He described the Double-Double as a “ballistic missile … a perfectly designed protein delivery system.”

Look, debate amongst yourselves all you want: McDonalds vs. Burger King, Shack Shake vs. Five Guys, Wendy’s vs. Jack In the Box. Leave me out of it. In this debate, I’m a lover, not a fighter. Just get me to In-N-Out, my Southern California comfort food feeding trough. When I fly home to Orange County, my first stop from the John Wayne Airport is In-N-Out. Go ahead, ask my mom and dad.

In-N-Out is owned by the descendants of its founders, Harry (1913-1976) and Esther (1920-2006) Snyder. It does not franchise – no matter what the offer. The company is worth about $3 billion and CEO Lynsi Snyder is the 36-year-old granddaughter of the founders (most recently on the cover of Forbes). The company routinely gets offers to go public or sell. “We’ve had some pretty crazy offers,” Snyder told Forbes. “There’s been, like, princes and different people throwing some big numbers at us where I’m like, ‘Really?’ ” The plan never changes. “We will continue to politely say no to Wall Street or to the Saudi princes. Whoever will come,” says In-N-Out. Continue reading

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At charity dinner, Nikki Haley takes jabs and makes a serious point

During a host of one-liners in her 17 minute speech at the 73rd Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, she poked fun at her boss and a gaggle of other politicians from both parties. In the midst of the laughter, however, she also made a serious point about our severely polarized political culture.

“In our toxic political environment, I’ve heard some people in both parties describe their opponents as enemies or evil,” Haley said. “In America, our political opponents are not evil. In South Sudan, where rape is routinely used as a weapon of war — that is evil. In Syria, where the dictator uses chemical weapons to murder innocent children — that is evil. In North Korea, where American student Otto Warmbier was tortured to death — that was evil.”

“In the last two years, I’ve seen true evil,” Haley continued. “We have some serious political differences here at home. But our opponents are not evil. They’re just our opponents.”

To read the entire article, click HERE

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‘Sesame Street’ wanted an ornery character like Oscar the Grouch

Caroll Spinney and Oscar the Grouch at the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in New York in April 2006. (Brad Barket/Getty Images)

As a kid, Oscar the Grouch was my fave Sesame Street character. Here’s the low down on the origins of the character from Travis Andrews from the Washington Post.

“He’s green, he lives in a trash can and he’s always waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

“His name is Oscar the Grouch, and even people who watched “Sesame Street” as kids might find him a bit confounding. Why is he green? How did he choose his home? And why’s he in such a bad mood? The answer lies with Caroll Spinney, the performer behind the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, who announced his retirement from the show Monday after almost 50 years.”
*** Continue reading

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