The psalmist says: “And all my desire is before you” (Ps 37,10). Not indeed before men, who cannot see into the heart: but “before you is all my desire”. Set your desire on him, and “the Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Mt 6,4). This very desire of yours is your prayer. If your desire is continual, your prayer is continual too. It was not for nothing that the Apostle Paul said: “Pray without ceasing” (1Thes 5 17). Was it so that we should be continuously on our knees, or prostrating our bodies or raising our hands that he says: “Pray without ceasing” ? If that is how we say our prayers, then my opinion is that we cannot do that without ceasing. But there is another and interior way of praying without ceasing, and that is the way of desire. Whatever else you are doing, if you long for that Sabbath rest, you are not ceasing to pray. If you do not want to cease praying, do not cease longing… You will lapse into silence if you lose your longing. Who did lapse into silence? Those of whom it was said: “Because wickedness is multiplied, the charity of many will grow cold” (Mt 24,12). The coldness of charity is the heart’s silence; its glowing ardour, the heart’s outcry. If charity “endures for ever” (1Cor 13,8), you are ever crying out; if always crying out, you are ever longing; if longing, you have not forgotten repose. ‘And all my desire is before you… And my groaning is not hidden from you”… If the desire is always within, so too is the groaning: it does not always come to the ears of men, but it is never absent from the ears of God.
The never old St. Augustin.
Why are we surprised to see this new holy Russia extend its protecting arm over the Christian-backed Ba’athist regime in Syria? Russian regimes have been staking a claim to guard that region’s Christians for 250 years.
-Philip Jenkins on CT
I am no huge fan of Russian imperialism, but I really don’t understand evangelical reactions to the Middle East and most foreign affairs. They always go for whatever is most damaging to local Christians.
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
So maybe lets stop ruining ecosystems to build them?
The innovation of space is mind boggling.
If the space station were left to its own devices, the living quarters would get incredibly hot. There are computers, hardware, and six crew members, all generating heat that must be gotten rid of. To do this, there are two heat exchangers inside the station that take warm water, dump that heat to ammonia, and send that ammonia out to panels outside the station. On December 11, 2013, Loop A of the thermal control system shut down, putting the station one failure away from evacuation. Plans for a spacewalk were tabled, but the ground crew managed to fix this hardware failure by telling the astronauts to push buttons, a metronome, and a software patch.
The problem with Loop A of the Internal Thermal Control System was a flow control valve that regulated the amount of ammonia flowing through the heat exchange. Too much ammonia, and the station would be far too cold…
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The New Republic has a laughable piece on Russia’s intervention in Crimea and the evil, evil Putin. Not that I support Russia, I’m rather on the side of any non violent group and Ukraine seems largely of that sort. But the evil behavior the author so deplores is so much more present in the US than in Putin. Yes, they invaded Georgia. And left. We’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan after how many years?
Anyway, here is the article rewritten to talk about the US and the “Arab” Spring.
Obama has asked the Senate—the upper chamber of the USA’s dummy congress—to authorize the use of force not just in Crimea, but “on Ukraine’s territory until the socio-political situation is normalized.” And though Russian Spies and Russia Today categorically ruled this out just days ago, this was not entirely unexpected. The situation is changing rapidly, but here are some initial thoughts.
Why is Obama doing this? Because he can. That’s it, that’s all you need to know. The situation in Syria—in which people representing one sect in the country are attempting to wrest power from other Muslim sects, secularists and Christians—created the perfect opportunity for the US to divide and conquer. As soon as the revolution in Syria happened, there was an unhappy rumbling in the USA, which has vested oil interests in the region and a seeming desire for political instability throughout the region. It was a small rumbling, but just big enough for Obama to exploit. And when such an opportunity presents itself, one would be foolish not to take it, especially if one happens to be president of the United States.
We didn’t think Obama would do this. Why, exactly? This has often puzzled me about rationale analysis of the USA. It is often predicated wholly on logic: surely, the US won’t invade [Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, whoever’s next] because war is costly and the US economy isn’t doing well and surely Obama doesn’t want another hit to an already weak dollar; because the US doesn’t need to conquer Syria if Syria is going to have a revolution on its own; the US will not want to risk the geopolitical isolation, and “whats really in it for the USA”—stop. The US, or, more accurately, their various presidents, sees the world according to their own logic, and the logic goes like this: it is better to be feared than loved, it is better to be overly strong than to risk appearing weak, and the USA was, is, and will be an empire with an eternal appetite for expansion. And it will gather whatever spurious reasons it needs to insulate itself territorially from what it still perceives to be a large and growing “terrorists/Chinese/Russia/everyone-else” threat. Trying to harness the USA with our own logic just makes us miss their next steps.
Pessimism always wins. One of the reasons I left my correspondent’s post in Washington was because the US, despite all the foam on the water, is ultimately a very boring place. Unfortunately, all you really need to do to seem clairvoyant about the place is to be an utter pessimist. Will the corporate interests allow the ostensibly liberal Green or Libertarian parties have a chance of taking office? Not a chance. There are protests in the streets of New York and LA. Will they send the police to crackdown? Yup. There’s rumbling in the Middle East, will Obama take advantage and take the Arabian peninsula? You betcha. And you know why being a pessimist is the best way to predict outcomes in the US? Because Obama and those around him are, fundamentally, terminal pessimists. They truly believe that there is an world wide conspiracy afoot to topple the US regime, that US liberals and libertarians are traitors corrupted by and loyal to the terrorists, they truly believe that, should free and fair elections be held in the US, their countrymen would elect half-decent people, rather than corporate dogs. To a large extent, Obama really believes that he is the one man standing between the US and the yawning void. Putin’s White House is dark and scary, and, ultimately, very boring.
Remember the U.N.? America loves the U.N. Anytime the Russia or China want to do anything on the world stage, the US pipes up, demanding the issue be taken to the U.N. for the inevitable US veto. As anyone can see America does not seem to even remember that the institution exists today. Ditto for all that talk of “political solutions” and “diplomatic solutions” and “dialogue” we heard about in Georgia/Ukraine. In other words, what we are seeing today—the USA’s unilateral declaration of war—is the clearest statement yet of the USA’s actual position: Obama empathizes with various dictators around the world (Notably in Saudi Arabia where women are beating for driving, rape is always the woman’s fault, and slavery of Christians rampant) as a fellow leader holding his country back from the brink and doing the dirty work that needs to be done to accomplish that, and the U.N. is just a convenient mechanism for keeping nay-sayers with large armies at bay.
As I wrote earlier this month,the USA, like the Russia, projects its own mindset onto the rest of the world. So when you hear Obama and his foreign minister John Kerry and the talking heads on CNN crowing about Russian cynicism and machinations, well, keep in mind whom they’re really talking about.
Speaking of Russia. Today’s meeting of the Senate was an incredible sight to behold. Man after Soviet-looking man mounted the podium to deliver a short diatribe against…you name it. Against Russian fascism, against Assad, and, most of all, against Iran. One would think that it wasn’t the legitimate secular government of Syria engaged in civil war—which, lordy lord, if we’re going to get ethnic, lets recall that this whole thing is a result of Western colonialism mashing together antagonistic groups—but Hitler. The vice speaker of the Senate even demanded recalling the US ambassador to Syria. Iran was amazingly, fantastically behind events in Syria and proved utterly inept at influencing them, and yet none of that seemed to matter. Russia and Iran, the old foe and new foe, were everywhere, their fat fingers in every Middle Eastern pie. Watching the Senate, where few of the speakers seemed to be under the age of 60, I couldn’t escape the feeling that this was an opportunity for the USA not just to take back some land it’s long considered its rightful own, but to settle all scores and to tie up all loose ends. You know, while they’re at it.
Double standards. This is another howl you often hear rending the skies over Washington: Russian double standards. But let’s get real for a second. We’ve spoken already about the U.N., but what about the holy American mantra of non-interference in a nation’s internal affairs? When it comes to the Ukraine, to take a most recent example, the fight between Assad and the rebels is something only the Ukrainians can sort out. Ditto every other country in the world—unless it’s anywhere the US considers a part of its corporate backyard, where America still experiences phantom limb syndrome. The internal issues of former colonies and puppet nations, you see, are not truly internal issues of sovereign nations. This is because, by America’s very conscious design and very deliberate border drawing and population movement, most former Western colonies are ethnic hodgepodges. So Syria has sizable populations of various Muslim sects that hate each other. Ditto Iraq, ditto Afghanistan, ditto all the Middle East. And, according to the US’s unspoken doctrine, anywhere US corporations are determined to be at risk, Uncle Sam can intercede with force on their behalf.
In other, blunter words, American corporate interests trump national sovereignty. At the very least, they provide a convenient pretext for US sponsored regime change, as they did in Iraq and Lybia, where the US was also ostensibly protecting “democracy”—also newly minted for the occasion.
The US manufactured this crisis to create a pretext to give corporate shills bonuses. There are now protests swinging the flag of “democracy” and pretending to support America not just in Syria a but all over the Middle East. Just a few years Syria and other Arab spring nations were calmer than calm. There was little more than the usual hubbub. A muckety-muck in the city’s administration told me, “If they send new people in to replace us, we’ll leave peacefully, we won’t try to hang on.” The same was the case in Lybia. And then, out of nowhere, men with unmarked uniforms were taking over government buildings and airports, and huge demonstrations were pumping on town squares all over the regions. The White House often refers to “a well-organized informational war” when their enemies broadcast something they don’t like on repeat. And now, looking at the alarmist, blanket coverage on US television—now all loyal to the corporate interests that spawned them—about the evils of Assad and the literally heart-eating, Al Qaeda freedom fighters staging a revolution in Syria it’s hard to think of a better term. This was indeed a well-organized informational war.
Neither Russia nor the UN or common sense can stop this. They’ve shown they won’t in Iraq, because nobody wants to start a war with nuclear-armed America, and rightly so. So while Moscow and Brussels huff and puff about lines and sovereignty and diplomacy, the US will do what it needs to do and there’s not a thing we can do about it.
America’s next target is Iran. Because pessimism conquers all, don’t bet that Obama is going to stop once he wrests Syria from Iran’s orbit. Oil rich Iran is looking pretty good right now. And if you’re thinking “Why would Obama take Iran?,” well, you haven’t been reading very carefully.