Saturday, December 30, 2006

The three-quarter moon is a piercing lamp

The three-quarter moon is a piercing lamp
Its auburn-edged halo cutting the cloud-mottled night sky
Islands of night space open the cloud seas
A fine silver mist turns the air into a dream
As a cat brushes my leg with a gleam.

In the evening, the fires begin
A searing blue flame bursts from the flue of the forearms
Pupils dilate, brain shuts down,
Thoughts cease, heart drums,
To appease the god of the drumming.

There is a lonely road with treed silhouettes
There is a busy road where cars pirouette
There is a narrow road, where sweat and cries
Bring sustenance to the careful soul.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Verse sketch: Fire in the veins

Fire in the veins
Fire in the heart
Pounding in the throat
Shaking in the hands
An iciness, a burning from the backs of my hands.

Contrast with the open life
The life of the open door
Of full command of the soul militant
Of rational discourse and understanding
Laughter, simplicity, artless joy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Father Barron responds

-----Original Message-----
From: Barron, Fr. Bob []
Sent: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 7:31 AM
To: 'Jonathan Aquino'
Subject: RE: On your article on evangelization, "Have You Heard the News?"

Dear Jon,

Thanks for your note and for taking the time to read my article.

In answer to your dilemma, I would say this: the resurrection of Jesus, in itself, is nothing but Good News, since it is the manifestation of our redemption. You're quite right in suggesting that this redemption has to be appropriated through our decisions and actions. If this is not done, we face judgement.

But I wouldn't allow that fact-however important-to dampen my enthusiasm for the resurrection message. In itself, that is nothing but Gospel (Good News). Paul certainly believed in judgment, but didn't hesitate for a moment to proclaim the resurrection to everyone he met.


Fr. Bob Barron

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Letter to Father Barron

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Aquino []
Sent: Sunday, December 24, 2006 10:41 AM
To: ''
Subject: On your article on evangelization, "Have You Heard the News?"

Dear Father Barron,

One of your articles ended with the words, "how can you not want to grab everyone you meet by the lapels and tell them about the resurrection?" What prevents me from enthusiastically sharing the good news of the resurrection is the potential "bad news" of the uncertainty of the Last Judgment and the possibility of damnation. How I would love to shout to the world, "Eternal life! Eternal life!" - unfortunately I must add, "but only if you pass the Last Judgment". Suddenly the good news does not seem so sparkling, now that it has this uncertain string attached.

I'm curious how you handle the Last Judgment in your evangelization - is it best left out of good-news preaching? i.e. is it a detail that for most Catholics is best not worried about too much?


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Through a glass darkly

Through a glass darkly
The world is obscured
Oaks blurred, the shapes of sedans
Bulbous, blocky blobs of matte blue.
Through this striated, oil-streaked glass
Dawn illumines a pointillated world.

Rectangular, human creations
And the dark greens and light greens of nature
White paint, black paint, and red
Blue, ochre, aquamarine
A world recognizable and iridescent
Tenuous, gristled, quiescent.

Verse sketch: Wind speaks

Wind speaks
He shrills, raises the trees,
Mumbles, flatters.

Gale answers from afar
Hisses weightily, harrumphs,
Gathers, retreats.

I stand in the blackness, leaning against the red house.
Observing the wind complain, the gale answer.
I stand in a protective jacket, enveloped against the elements
Heart beating palpable against a ruddy winter sky.

The night sky is purple

The night sky is purple
The erect evergreens are wispy fronds
The maple, a dendritic explosion
Scattering its detritus and ambidexter structure.

This night, the vacuous quiet
The absence of breeze, of local sound
The sound of thought, an expanse
Satisfied, satiated, ingratiated largesse.

And so I take my first steps
Into the friendly cold, into the expansive air
Walk, ponder the wandering, imposing tome
Of existence.

This finger, this gesture, this stance
The inward embarassment electric
Syncophant asynchronous symmetric
It would have been better to ignore it.

The poetic programmer

Some computer programmers write books; others write poems.

Some computer programmers are engineers; others are mathematicians.

Java and Smalltalk - two forms of grandeur - the overwhelming power and complexity of engineering; the terse elegance and beauty of mathematical formulae.

Two styles, two philosophies - my heart is with the latter.

Stoddard's "Gift of a Letter" is really a treatise on blogging: "Cross-outs and misspellings are okay. It truly is the thought that counts."

Friday, December 08, 2006

If our powers eventually leave us

If our powers eventually leave us,
if our minds become feeble with age,
our limbs once strong now aching
our thoughts once clear now impeded by headaches

If the energies of youth have left us,
the constant flow of ideas dammed,
past successes no longer repeatable
the precociousness of youth out of reach

How then shall we live?
With joy, with gratitude, with care.

How then shall we live?
With lightness of heart, with wisdom.

How then shall we live?
An ag├Ęd oak, a shard of glass.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Corollary to the Ten Commandments: the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy

If the Ten Commandments are the Don'ts, I suppose the Dos would be the ancient list of "corporal and spiritual acts of mercy."

The corporal acts of mercy are: providing food, clothing, and shelter; visiting the sick and imprisoned; and burying the dead.

The spiritual acts of mercy are: reproving, instructing, evangelizing, comforting, enduring, forgiving, and praying for the dead

The technology god

Is productivity the ultimate god? No. Is technology the ultimate god? No, but it can be quite exciting, and fun. But in can also be soulless, and unfulfilling in and of itself. So meaning must come from elsewhere. Technology as an end is ultimately unsatisfying. But as a means to the end, it has interesting possibilities.

I keep needing to remind myself of my personal mission statement. From inner to outer:

- being conscious of my human journey
- cherishing my family
- the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy
- engineering beautiful software

I love how it gets tweaked over time, homing toward its true form. Ten years ago in university I wrote my mission as "To love God and my neighbour." Lofty, but unsatisfying as it wasn't really "my own". My present statement is one I can really get behind.

"A lifelong fascination with computer programming" crystallized into "Engineering beautiful software" when I realized that in my programming I value both engineering rigor and the aesthetics of logic.

Recently "Random acts of kindness" has grown into the more comprehensive and specific "Corporate and spiritual acts of mercy", which adds a spiritual element.

"Being conscious of my human journey" was the last addition to the list, adding the individual dimension. To live in the future, to live in the past - these are to be dead to the present. So to live in the present is to be truly alive.

Speaking of the present, I am above Victoria on an Airbus A319, returning to my hometown after an intense three weeks spent at my company's headquarters in the United States. I love the high-tech culture and golden weather of Palo Alto; my home though is with the snows, the garry oaks and douglas firs, the chilly winter winds of British Columbia.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life."

- Catechism of the Catholic Church 336, quoting St. Basil, Adv. Eunomium III, 1: PG 29, 656B

I'm glad people aren't omniscient.

I'm glad people aren't omniscient. Sometimes I catch myself getting embarassed as I recall some incident from long ago. Then I think, I'm probably the only one who remembers that.

So now I truly grasp what omniscience is. Omniscience is knowing all the embarassing things that the person before you has ever done. I'm glad humans are not omniscient.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Some people, myself included, have a strong need to idolize someone, or something. In the Catholic mass we can do that. We can idolize the piece of bread which turns into God.

I have often thought how amazing it would be to see God. It strikes me that in the Eucharist I am seeing, touching, tasting God.