There are few blogs I read regularly.  After moving to Dallas and meeting Rod Dreher I started reading his blog regularly, and read his book. Rod and I have a lot in common (facility with words aside).  His blog, which is an eclectic commentary on politics, culture, Church, and food,  is often thoughtful and interesting. (Again, not something we have in common.) More valuable however, are his more personal entries; helped no doubt by the fact that he is a dear friend. I found him to be honest, observant, and relate-able.  His personal insight aided my own.

In January Rod moved from Dallas to Philadelphia.  My wife and I have been mourning the move since Rod first mentioned the possibility to us this summer.  Indeed our entire parish family was hit very hard by the Dreher’s departure, but we knew that we’d still have them as family.

So when Lent started last week, and my spiritual family started enduring the things come with Lent, I counted Rod’s trials among them. Our parish suffered car troubles, a priest breaking his leg, sickness, and Rod’s only sibling — his sister Ruthie — being diagnosed with Stage Four cancer in her lungs and brain.

And so Rod boarded an airplane to be with his sister, suspending his regularly blogging schedule to write about Ruthie.  What came out was something special.

In his usual frank and honest manner Dreher invited his readers to experience along with him pain, struggle, and lurking despair. Do yourself a favor: read all the posts in which he tagged his sister. Because pain, struggle, and lurking despair is not what this story is about.

Shortly after arriving at his sister’s bedside, Rod shares his exasperation with the silence of God and the sense of futility.

I am finding it hard to maintain my prayers right now. I know in my head that just because my sister has not experienced a miraculous recovery and jumped out of bed to second-line out of the hospital, that does not mean my prayers have been in vain. I’ve got enough sense to know that’s not how it works. But emotionally, this is difficult. All the praying, the begging, the anguishing, the fasting — and there has been no miracle. She’s still very sick indeed. I realized tonight that in my frenzy to call the attention of God to my sister’s plight and to convince him to heal her, I’ve been playing a kind of saints roulette, trying to hit on the right saint to ask prayers of, as if somehow my placing a bet on the right saint’s name would make an electric connection with heaven, and divine energy would course right down to my sister’s hospital room and save her, bam, just like that.

I know it doesn’t work that way. Believe me, I do. But I don’t know what else to say to God, or the saints, on my sister’s behalf. I know this isn’t like a courtroom, in which I need to come up with the cleverest argument to convince the judge that my sister’s life is worth saving. I know that magical thinking is a fallacy. I know that the communion of saints is not like a cocktail party in which I’m the wild-eyed stranger who’s walked in off the street and is annoying partygoers by interrupting their conversations to see who can spare the time to come out and help me get my car unstuck from the snowbank on the curb.

But I don’t know what else to do. And it’s not working.

Reading this went straight to my heart; and not because I judge Rod for feeling this way, but because I too have found myself Dark Night of the Soul. The Dark Night is difficult to be sure, but it is not bad.  When we’re lost in the dark woods, with the right road wholly lost and gone, God provides. As Rod points out, Lent is a time for sorrow, but by God’s grace, we may have “bright sadness”. The brightness is God’s, shining through Ruthie.

I wish I had the words to express how brave my sister is. I write this through tears tonight — tears not of sadness for her, though God knows that’s there, but tears of admiration. Who among us could get such news today, and react with such evenness? Not me. She apologized to her husband, saying softly, “I’m sorry, I was hoping for better news.” Later in the day, I spoke with Dr. Tim Lindsey, her GP, and we talked about how astonishingly courageous she’s been throughout this short, terrible ordeal. He went on about how she’s not wanted to hide from anything, and how she’s withstood horrific blows without bowing. Dr. Tim and I agreed that there is something miraculous about the witness she’s showing to the rest of us, in how to suffer. He said that however long she has to live, whether it’s weeks or years or decades, her children will always remember the courage under fire — Hemingway’s definition of grace — that their mother showed in these days.

And the story gets better, sweeter, and more powerful. Our God is a good God, and Ruthie a good person.


The Texas Winds of Change

Is this the future of energy in Texas and similar states?

In what experts say is the biggest investment in the clean and renewable energy in U.S. history, utility officials in the Lone Star State gave preliminary approval Thursday to a $4.9 billion plan to build new transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity from gusty West Texas to urban areas like Dallas.

People think about oil wells and football in Texas, but in 10 years they’ll look back and say this was a brilliant thing to do,” said Patrick Woodson, vice president of E.On Climate & Renewables North America, which has about 1,200 megawatts of wind projects already in use or on the drawing board in Texas.

Texas is already the national leader in wind power, generating about 5,000 megawatts. But wind-energy advocates say the lack of transmission lines has kept a lot of that power from being put to use and has hindered the building of more turbines.

Most of Texas’ wind-energy production is in petroleum-producing West Texas, where nearly 4,000 wind turbines tower over oil pump jacks and capture the breeze that blows across the flat and largely barren landscape. The new plan would not directly build a slew of new turbines, but would add transmission lines capable of moving about 18,000 megawatts. One expert said that is enough to power more than 4 million Texas homes.

Supporters predict the plan will spur new wind power projects, create jobs, reduce pollution and lower energy costs. Texans pay some of the highest electric rates in the country, in part because of congested transmission lines.

Texas electric customers will bear the cost of construction over the next several years, paying about $3 or $4 more per month on their bills, according to Tom Smith, state director of the consumer group Public Citizen. But he predicted that increase would easily be offset by lower energy prices.

The main issue here, is energy transmission: not the construction of more generators.

Smith called Texas’ current transmission lines a “two-lane dirt road” compared to the “renewable energy superhighway” the plan would build.

We have all these wind plants up and operating. What we’re asking for is the superhighway to get the energy to the cities,” Smith said. “This will send signals to manufacturers all across the world Texas is ready to be a world-class player in renewable energy.”

The plan still needs to receive final approval later this year from the PUC. The transmission lines would not be up and running for three to five years. Who would build them and other details have yet to be worked out.

Though this alternative to fossil fuel would be victory for some enviromentalists there’s still resistance to the wind-generated Salad Shooters.

Environmentalists and landowners have launched protests against wind turbines from Cape Cod in Massachusetts to Idaho and Texas’ South Padre Island, complaining that wind turbines spoil the view and threaten migrating birds.

But the turbines are already in West Texas, a sparsely populated region already pockmarked with oil drilling and exploration equipment. And this project will build only transmission lines.

So everyone is happy right?

Meet Dr. Horrible

Joss Whedon, along with his brothers, have created an instant internet phenomenon. The quirky creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly” just opened up shop at “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”, and demand has overloaded servers and crashed the website. I’ve only seen a couple minutes, but it’s obviously in the same vein as “Once more with feeling”, the musical episode of “Buffy”.

This kid is legend.

I ran accross this story on today.

5-year-old descendant of Davy Crockett kills bear

Tre Merrit bags 445-pound black bear while hunting with grandfather

By Heather Crawford

DEWITT, Ark. — A 5-year-old Arkansas County boy killed a black bear Sunday weighing more than 400 pounds.

Tre Merritt, a descendant of Davy Crockett, was hunting with his grandfather Mike Merritt when a black bear happened upon their stand.

“His 10th great-grandfather was Davy Crockett,” Mike Merritt said. “And Davy supposedly killed him a bear when he was three. And Tre is five and really killed a bear. I really doubt if Davy killed one when he was three.”

Mike Merritt was in the stand at the time but said Tre did it all by himself. Continue reading “This kid is legend.”

AFR Watch: James White on OLIC

As I drive around in my patrol unit during the dark of the night I queue up a couple of AFR podcasts to listen to while searching for criminals.  I stumbled upon an interesting radio program the other day while listening to the hour long show Our Life In Christ.  The hosts, Steve and Bill, had the chance to fill in for an Evangelical talk show host on an Evangelical radio station.  They boldly took on the issue of Sola Scriptura, prompting debator and theologian James White to call in and debate them!

Here’s the link: James calls in about halfway through the program.

Are you serious?

I get this question all the time. Ok, so you think PrematureArticulations is a bit overblown and you’re looking at the first couple posts on this blog and wondering if I’m obsessed with Ryan Adams. Well, yes, as a matter of fact I am; but this doesn’t change the fact that I am (unfortunately) somewhat serious.

Here’s the rub for all you real bloggers out there. Please don’t read this blog if you don’t enjoy PA. If I blog it’s mostly because I am weak. It’s because I can’t discipline myself to journal, and because I’m not able to write actual essays in my spare time. Most importantly, I feel like I can blog because I read blogs and see that I can’t do much worse than pretty much anyone else out there. I’m not usually irreverent, and I don’t usually respect people who pride themselves in their ability to be irreverent. I guess I am beginning to fit right into this medium, because I really have begun to pride myself on my stubborn mockery of the blog-tards of the blog-o-sphere.

So, in accordance with tradition, my first blog is about blogging. Most blogs are half thoughts half written by people people shouldn’t care about. You probably shouldn’t care about me either, and you should care far more about Truth than my opinion. You see when it comes down to it, I think maybe people should blog. People should blog the way that people should myspace – in the responsible way that .1% of the population does. In meantime – I have half ideas and I might be able to half write them.

As much as I might try, I don’t think I am in that .1%. I know that the existence of PA has offended some very serious bloggers with a very serious blog. I confess the fact makes me grin, but I have no problem admitting that they are doing a far greater job at blogging than I ever will. I don’t mind it, the way I don’t mind admitting my mother-in-law can annihilate me in table tennis.

Blogging is not the salvation of the West. It does not free us from the corrupted tyranny of mass media. It is a footnote to the communication revolution that is the internet, and not revolution itself. Institutional media is in all its corruption is still better than the blog-o-sphere. The “organic” response of the “journalism of all bloggers” is a poor shadow the of “priesthood of all believers”; and falls prey to the same problems inherent in the Protestant reformation. If every blogger had the skill and insight of professional journalist (and some of them do), even then they would still lack the time and resources to produce consistently good material.

What you have with the blog-o-sphere is a medium rich in self-indulgence and false opinion. But now I find myself joining the cacophony of confused thought, for I am my culture’s child: self-centered, proud, and opinionated. Even then though I’m not sure I would have given myself over to the dark side except for the presence of good fruit. That’s right, the blog-o-sphere can’t be all bad – it gave us Snakes on a Plane for heaven’s sake, and anything that can do that has to have some chalk full of awesomely goodness.

And about that I am serious.