Pax Romana, Caligula: Fiend, Monster, or Baddie?

Caligula is currently famous, or infamous, for being a stark-raving-mad monster with no redeeming qualities. Although scholars have been acknowledging that we don't actually know much about him. I'm not about to try rehabilitating Caligula's image. But I've got suspicions about what the third Roman emperor was really like. I'll get back to that. But first, I'll take a brisk slog through some of what Tacitus and Suetonius had to say about Caligula; followed by a bit about statues, art and post-Renaissance preferences. And finally, what folks like Caligula and Nero were doing in the Pax Romana. That's the idea, at any rate. Caligula: Little Boots and Rumors Ancient Sculptures: In Living Color Analysis of a Caligula Bust Scrubbing Statues, Chromophobia, Beeldenstorm Tiberius Gracchus and Caligula: Enemies of the Status Quo Julius Caesar, Caligula and Nero: a Possible Pattern Good Intentions: Julius Caesar and Caligula Pax Romana: A Durable

'God chose what is low and despised in the world . . .' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

  Jesus gives the Beatitudes from  The Chosen Readings   (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) Readings   (New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Gospel   Matthew 5:1-12a [or 4:12-17]  ( English Standard Version Anglicised: India)     Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom o

Nobody is Listening to You

As a Lay Dominican, one of my favorite things to do is give talks (contact me if your church/group is interested).  If and when I get the opportunity, I take it, because, well, it's just fun.   Don't get me wrong, it is a lot of work, but it's work I don't mind doing.  It is a great feeling to sense the Holy Spirit coming over you, igniting the passion within to talk about Jesus.  I suppose that's because faith is such a wondrous thing and it is hard to resist the urge to share it. Obviously, sometimes people go too far in the sharing department.  In-your-face Christians of any denomination who yell scripture at you or push, push, push against your thoughts and beliefs, are just irritating, even to a devout Catholic like myself. Nobody is listening to you.  Nobody is going to be converted by you being obnoxious.  At least that's what I think. We were in Chicago visiting "the bean" at Cloud Park (click the link to see what I'm talking a

Christianity in retreat


Everyday Embroidery

  Don't judge me.  That's all I ask. A thousand years ago when my husband and I were youngish, we stopped at an estate sale.  Now, admittedly, we rarely do this anymore since we are more inclined to get rid of things, but so it goes. A little background . . . growing up, I always saw my mom doing cross-stitch embroidery.  I grew to love it as well, and did my fair share of pillowcases and so forth, until they shrunk the patterns and it got harder to read them, ha ha. While my mom would tackle a bedspread, it was far too big a project for me, so I stuck to smaller things.  Sometimes though, when my grandma came over, we would all work on it together. Anyway, so there we were, my husband and I, at this estate sale, and lo and behold, there was an entire dish set of everyday-china with a pretty pink-flowered cross stitch pattern right in the middle of the gold-rimmed plates!  I didn't care that it was used; it was so pretty, and it was only like $5.00 for the whol

Wild Writing

  Wild Writing                                                                       21st January 2023      It was because I had a few hours to myself this morning that I found I was able to get to sit down and think, "What do I want to do?" Don't misunderstand me, as I looked around the house there was plenty of "jobs" that called to me and which I could have happily occupied myself with.  But today I wanted to spend some time playing.  I wanted to spend some time playing with words. Interestingly, last week I randomly found a free five day "Wild Writing Course", which I thought I'd like to do. Just as quickly as I had that thought I put it out of my mind, because, you know, how would I fit in these zoom sessions.       Although I didn't consciously think about it over the next few days, it was obviously fluttering about somewhere inside me and, with time to spare this morning I now went looking for it.  Luckily for me, not only did I find the

Stars, Galaxies, XBONGs and Me

As I write this, scientists have not made contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, cured the common cold, or developed a process for using pocket lint as a pollution-free sustainable energy resource. So I'll be looking at galaxies, black holes, and a place where stars are forming. Scientists figure that last item will help them work out how the earliest stars formed. But first, NASA's APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day), almost five years back. Make that pictures: of the Cartwheel Galaxy Region and HST WFPC2. More at A Catholic Citizen in America . (Images from the Every Known Nearby Galaxy campaign, Chandra and James Webb Space Telescope. And how I see living in a vast and ancient universe.)

Reflex Reaction


'The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light.' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

  San Giorgio Maggiore at Dawn Joseph Mallord William Turner [ Web Gallery of Art ] For those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,   on them a light has dawned  (Mt 4:16, Gospel; see Isaiah 9:2, First Reading). Readings   (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) Readings  (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)   Gospel   Matthew 4:12-23 [or 4:12-17]  ( English Standard Version Anglicised: India)     Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.   And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,   so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,      the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness      have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,      on them a light has dawned.” Fro

TVs, Microwaves & Dishwashers

  I got a good laugh out of this picture on a Facebook post and then my husband and I debated about whether that was a reality from the 70's or more like the 60's.  Regardless, I am sure some of you will appreciate the humor.  I can still hear the clicking as the channel dial was stiffly turned. It really is amazing how things change right under our noses and sometimes we don't even realize it.  I remember our first microwave.  They advertised it as a quick way to make dinner, but I wasn't having anything to do with that idea.  I did find them more handy than warming up baby bottles on the stove, but I suppose using a microwave for that is a real no-no today, what with all the plastic in them.  Now it is a kitchen staple. Anyway, if I were to change the above picture, mine might have a couple of kids standing in front of a sink with a few dishes, one on a stool, the other crowded in next, both learning how to wash and dry, with a caption that reads, "

Euthanasia for the Mentally Ill: Not a Good Idea?

Suicide was in the news, briefly, this weekend. Euthanasia, actually. Or assisted death. Whatever folks call the process, it's arranging for someone to die. Or, being impolite in my choice of words, killing someone. For thoroughly nice motives. More at A Catholic Citizen in America . (Canada has helped the terminally ill die since 2016. Euthanasia services are now offered to more sick and mentally ill citizens. Some doctors wonder if it is a good idea.)

Listen Carefully - This is for you

  He said it for you CLICK HERE

What is Your Gift?

I heard Jason Gould, son of Barbra Streisand say, "Don't die with your music still in you." Isn't that a great quote? How do you interpret it?  I would break it down in two ways.  First, whatever your gift is (music, for instance), don't keep it to yourself.  I think we are often most fulfilled when we share with others what we love. And secondly, to die with your music in you is to leave a void in the world. So I would ask you today, "What do you have inside of you that you have not yet shared?  What is the obstacle standing in your way? So often people feel like they do not have gifts to share, because they compare themselves to great musicians, orators and so forth.  They look at their life and think, "There's nothing special about me."  But I would suggest they are only looking at what society says is a noteworthy gift. What if your real gift is patient listening.  I know someone who worked with families planning funerals.  Her g

Mars, MOXIE and More

Humanity is one step closer to exploring Mars, in person. With people living and working on the surface. And eventually, I think, living there permanently That's going to take time. But like I said, we're one step closer. This week I'll be talking about In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), the NASA-ESA Sample Return Mission, and why we're keeping our spaceships clean. Until they land, at any rate. More at A Catholic Citizen in America . (Oxygen production on Mars test succeeds. MOXIE broke its old record. ISRU, living off the land on other worlds; and plans for Mars sample return.)

Our deepest identity. Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

  The Gospel of John  (1:29-34) Directed by Philip Saville Readings   (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) Readings   (New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Gospel   John 1:29-34  ( English Standard Version Anglicised: India)     The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!   This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’   I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”   And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.   I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’   And I have seen and have

My Problem

"You're driving a computer," my husband said one night as we were discussing the electronics on my car.  I was the girl who held out the longest when the great "driving while holding onto your cell phone" debate began, oh so many years ago. I thought it was such a stupid idea.  Who would think they could drive while holding onto a phone?  It's still a stupid idea, because now we don't simply hold onto our phones, but we fuss with our car's computer screen as well, which is even worse. You see, I think this is all a bad idea when you have a brain that operates the way mine does. It's like my thinking is "internally visual," so I could easily be concentrating on something other than my driving, "seeing what I am thinking about"--if I am not careful.   But I am learning to be careful, very careful.  You see, the problem is that when you drive a computer that tells you if you are crossing a line, or if you are too clo



A Doomed World, Spiraling to Destruction

Kepler-1658 b, KOI-4.01, is a "hot Jupiter". In another 2,500,000 years, give or take a bit, it won't be there any more. That makes it a hot subject for scientists: literally and figuratively. Kepler-1658 b is also the the Kepler space telescope's first confirmed exoplanet. ... ... today I'll be talking about Kepler-1658 b and why studying it matters. To scientists, at any rate.... More at A Catholic Citizen in America . (Looking at studies of Kepler-1658 b, first confirmed Kepler exoplanet; a hot Jupiter spiraling into its sun. Plus my take on pursuing truth.)

Real Old?

I overheard two women talking in an office the other day and this is what one of them said:  "She was old, real old, maybe 45 or 50." Gulp. Now I have no idea what the context of their conversation was, but naturally, that sounded ridiculous to me; then I started thinking.  What if someone was talking about their twenty-something daughter dating an older guy of 45-50.  I can see where, in that situation, you might describe him as real old, as in way too old to be dating my daughter. Context is important.  That's why when Catholics read scripture, they make sure they pay very close attention to context.  Who is speaking and who are they speaking to?  These things are very important in understanding scripture, because greater emphasis might be placed differently, depending on whether the speaker is talking to a Greek, a Gentile or a Jewish person. I'm no scripture scholar--not by a long shot--but it always amazes me how often those who have never investigate

Jesus identifies himself with us even though he is pure love. Sunday Reflections, The Baptism of the Lord, Year A

T he Gospel According to Matthew , Baptism scene Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini Where the Epiphany is celebrated this year on its proper date, Friday 6 January, e.g.,England & Wales and in Ireland, the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on Sunday 8 January this year, bringing the Christmas Season to an end, with the First Week of Ordinary Time beginning on Monday 9 January. In countries where the celebration of the Epiphany is transferred to Sunday 8 January this year the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on Monday 9 January and Ordinary Time begins on Tuesday 9 January. These countries include Australia, Philippines, Scotland and the USA Readings   (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) Readings   (New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Gospel   Matthew 3:13-17  ( English Standard Version Anglicised: India)     Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.   John would have prevented him

Your Life Story

I was listening to the car radio and I think the conversation was about death.  I suppose it was an author talking, and they said one of those things we have all heard before, but for some reason it really got me to thinking. You are the author of your life story. Ask yourself what your life is about and compare it to what you would like it to be about.  How do you want to be remembered? What will your story look like? I would suggest that the following exercise is not a waste of time.  The goal is to help you develop a full life. I suppose some of you would like your life's story to be like the private window on your web browser, while some of you would like it to be so open that everyone could tell it.  Probably some of you are somewhere in between. Regardless, if the reality of your life doesn't match the narrative you want to leave as your legacy, now is a good time to look at it. Remember, a person's life story isn't just a list of bullet points, but i