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Good Mountain Press Monthly Digest #50
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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), 40th US President ~~~~
~~~~ "The Great Communicator" with a Great Message to Communicate! ~~~~~

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~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #50 Published July 1, 2004 ~~~
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Quote for the Freedom Month of July:

These days, liberals are once again preaching one thing and practicing another. They always want diversity, but that ideal never seems to carry over to diversity of opinion.
Vanessa Pierce

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By Subscription only.
Editor: Bobby Matherne
[To Contact Bobby Click Here!]
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©2004 by 21st Century Education, Inc, Published Monthly.

To Read All of Bobby's Writings Click Here!
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~~ Click on Heading to go to that Section (Allow Page First To Fully Load). ~~
Archived Digests
Table of Contents

1. July's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for July
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Butter Beans over Rice with Grilled Flounder Filet
6. 6. POETRY by BOBBY: 1) New, 2) from Rainbows & Shadows:
7. Reviews and Articles Added for July:

8. Commentary on the World
9. Closing Notes - our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
10. Gratitude

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#1 Jul  #2, Aug  #3, Sept  #4, Oct  #5, Nov  #6, Dec  #7
2001: Jan  #8,  Feb  #9,  Mar #10, Apr #11, May #12, Jun #13, Jul #14, Aug #15, Sep #16, Oct #17, Nov #18, Dec #19
2002: Jan #20, Feb #21, Mar #22, Apr #23, May #24, Jun #25, Jul #26, Aug #27, Sep #28, Oct #29, Nov #30, Dec #31
2003: Jan #32, Feb #33, Mar #34, Apr #35, May #36, Jun #37, Jul #38, Aug #39, Sep #40, Oct #41, Nov #42, Dec #43
2004: Jan #44, Feb #45, Mar #46, Apr #47, May #48, Jun #49, Jul #50, Aug #51, Sep #52, Oct #53, Nov #54, Dec #55
2005: Jan#051,Feb#052,Mar#053,Apr#054,May#055,Jun#056,Jul#057,Aug#058,Sep#059,Oct#05a,Nov#05b,Dec#05c
2006: Jan#061,Feb#062,Mar#063,Apr#064,May#065,Jun#066,Jul#067,Aug#068,Sep#069,Oct#06a,Nov#06b,Dec#06c
2007: Jan#071,Feb#072,Mar#073,Apr#074,May#075,Jun#076,Jul#077,Aug#078,Sep#079,Oct#07a,Nov#07b,Dec#07c
2008: Jan#081,Feb#082,Mar#083,Apr#084,May#085,Jun#086,Jul#087,Aug#088,Sep#089,Oct#08a,Nov#08b,Dec#08c
2009: Jan#091,Feb#092,Mar#093,Apr#094,May#095,Jun#096,Jul#097,Aug#098,Sep#099,Oct#09a,Nov#09b,Dec#09c
2010: Jan#101,Feb#102,Mar#103,Apr#104,May#105,Jun#106,Jul#107,Aug#108,Sep#109,Oct#10a,Nov#10b,Dec#10c
2011: Jan#111,Feb#112,Mar#113,Apr#114,May#115,Jun#116,Jul#117,Aug#118,Sep#119,Oct#11a,Nov#11b,Dec#11c
2012: Jan#121,Feb#122,Mar#123,Apr#124,May#125,Jun#126,Jul#127,Aug#128,Sep#129,Oct#12a,Nov#12b,Dec#12c
2013: Jan#131,Feb#132,Mar#133,Apr#134,May#135,Jun#136,Jul#137,Aug#138,Sep#139,Oct#13a,Nov#13b,Dec#13c
2014: Jan#141,Feb#142,Mar#143,Apr#144,May#145,Jun#146,Jul#147,Aug#148,Sep#149,Oct#14a,Nov#14b,Dec#14c
2015: Jan#151,Feb#152,Mar#153,Apr#154,May#155,Jun#156,Jul#157,Aug#158,Sep#159,Oct#15a,Nov#15b,Dec#15c
2016: Jan#161,Feb#162,Mar#163,Apr#164,May#165,Jun#166,Jul#167,Aug#168,Sep#169,Oct#16a,Nov#16b,Dec#16c
2017: Jan#171,Feb#172,Mar#173,Apr#174,May#175,Jun#176,Jul#177,Aug#178,Sep#179,Oct#17a,Nov#17b,Dec#17c
2018: Jan#181,Feb#182,Mar#183,Apr#184,May#185,Jun#186,Jul#187,Aug#188,Sep#189,Oct#18a,Nov#18b,Dec#18c
2019: Jan#191,Feb#192,Mar#193,Apr#194,May#195,Jun#196,Jul#197,Aug#198,Sep#199,Oct#19a

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1. July Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the website.

The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.

This month Violet and Joey learn about laughter, which is going on right under our nose.

#1 "Under Our No's" at

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Each month we take time to thank two of our good readers of Good Mountain Press Digest, books and reviews. Here's our two worthy Honored Readers for this month. One of their names will be in the TO: address line of your email Digest notification. Our Honored Readers for July are:

Marlene Hunter in Texas

Warren Liberty in Oregon

Congratulations, Marlene and Warren !

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Out Our Way:
The Digest was almost late this month due to the week we spent in Orange Beach on vacation. And what kind of vacation would it have been for me if I had had internet access? What did we do at the beach? If a picture is worth a thousand words, get ready for 156,000 words by checking out this link.

Here's what my son Rob (one of two offspring absent the beach) said after viewing these photos:

"Thanks - beautiful pictures, in one sitting gives a nice feel for what the visit would have been like (complete with The Look from Yvette, Carla Holding Court, Mo's Artistic Meanderings, Posing Del, Casual Spouses in the Background, and Smiling Bobby)"
Wonder where I got my weird syntactical writing style? I inherited it from my son! Here's the link: Set it up for Slide Show for ease of viewing. It goes remarkably fast even on a dial-up 57K modem. (I noticed this link had trouble loading on IE6 this morning, but came up right away on Netscape, then stalled. The site may be experiencing growing pains, so check back later.)

We did a few other things during our run-up to our long anticipated week at the beach. Our favorite thing this June were the Thursdays at Twilight Concerts put on by WWNO and sponsors at the Botanical Gardens. Gave us a chance to tour the botanical gardens, as well as the sculpture garden across the street, which fortuitously was open late on Thursday nights. One night it was Folksinger Betsy McGovern singing folk songs in her beautiful Irish voice. Our favorite was the “Lakes of Pontchartrain”. The next week was a flautist accompanied by a piano and violinist. The next week was a piano, cello and violin playing hotel lobby songs from 1941. Renee and Burt joined us there for that one and we had dinner with them later.

This month also featured a double birthday party for Michael and Henry, a 50th Wedding celebration of Norbert and Ann Delph, and a wedding celebration for Sam and Jenny who had gotten married a couple of months earlier in Las Vegas. Since we would be out of town for Father's Day, we took my Dad(Buster) and Emily to lunch at the Red Maple, followed by a visit to Doris, Del's Mom, in her Riverview Penthouse. She's beginning to take hydrotherapy and the prognosis are excellent for a full recovery from her broken vertabrae.

There was a salient astronomical event this month — the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. Last time was in the 1800s. Someone looking for some prominent event to be associated with the transit didn't have to look far. President Ronald Reagan made a transit himself at the same time as Venus was passing across the Sun. I felt blessed to be able to watch the full State Funeral for our beloved president.

The Creole tomatoes were ripe as usual for June, but there is nothing usual about the taste of these delicious, succulent treats. We like them sliced in a well-stirred mixture of Mayonnaise and Wishbone Italian Dressing.

On the night before we packed for Orange Beach, we had a Black-Tie Dinner at Antoine's in the Rex Room. Carlos, our waiter, at my request, gave us a tour of the Mystery Room. It is a room which during Prohibition was reserved for drinkers who knew the secret entrance, through a fake Ladies Room. See the flaming Baked Alaska dessert prepared by Antoine's for our dinner. I read the poem to Del after dinner, "Nothing's Better Than You" that I wrote earlier in the afternoon (See Below). After the dinner, we were given a personalized tour of the newly renovated Supreme Court Building in the French Quarter, just across the street from Antoine's.

Hope your summer is progressing nicely. Till we meet again, God willing, in these pages next month, make the best of the rest of your summer,


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Movies we watched this past month:

Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, and all of the original dialogue.
P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.
Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
"The Matchstick Men" (2003) --- a better name would have been "Two Matchstick Men and A Matchstick Girl" --- a matchstick girl who is about to set flame to Roy's (Nicholas Cage) lucrative career as a super con man. "I don't steal from people," he says, "they give money to me." This could have devolved into a "Paper Moon" plot, but Roy's little angel had a much bigger surprise in store for him --- he was about to go from Tuna Fish and Tarletons to Rocky Road Double Fudge ice cream.
“Big Fish” (2003) — “life is just one damned thing after another” someone said, but for Ed Bloom, life was just one damned story after another, none of which his son, Will, believed as he grew older and began apply reason and logic to what his daddy told him. Problem was that reason and logic is often accurate but not true, as Will finds out when his daddy dies. The final story is told by Will and made his daddy proud! This movie cannot be explained — it must be seen to be believed, believe me.
“Under the Tuscan Sun” (2003) might as well have been called “My House in Tuscany” since it involved a female buying a large house and estate in rural Italy. This time it was a youngDiane Lane in Tuscany versus an aging Maggie Smith in Umbria. (See “My House in Umbria”) Marvelous movie which allows us to follow the new divorcee and authoress Ladd to Umbria as she meets charming men from Italy, Poland, and other countries, each one it seems will take her heart away, a few actually do, but what she finds is herself along the way, which she needs more than a man, before she can be comfortable with another man.
“My House in Umbria” (2003) with Maggie Smith and Chris Cooper. Two marvelous actors playing with and against each other in an idyll in the countryside of Italy near Sienna. The scene when the bomb goes off on the train is a beautiful slow-motion ballet that is indescribable. You can let children watch it and if you don’t tell what happened, they won’t even know it was an explosion. The passengers in the compartment that survive end up after hospitalization at Maggie’s house in Umbria for continued convalescence. Werner, Amy, and the General. Amy recovers her speech and soon her estranged uncle she’s never seen, her only remaining relative since her mom died on the train, comes from America to take her back to his home. His specialty is a professor of entomology studying the “red carpenter ant”. When asked what his wife’s specialty was, he said that hers was completely different, the “black carpenter ant”. Will Amy stay or go? What about Werner’s two buddies? What’s the Italian actor Gianni doing in a new suit and haircut (since Hannibal) playing the detective? Maggie bares her heart, soul, and breast in this magnificent performance; it may be her best performance since her youthful “The Prime of Jean Brodie”. Maggie Smith is still in her prime — she can still carry off a leading role with elan and aplomb!
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004) — simply the best Harry Potter to date. Few viewers unfamiliar with the latest book will note how many loose ends are left untied by the end of this thriller. And the best is yet to come in "The Order of the Phoenix" — stay tuned, same Bat Time, same Owl Channel, next year.
Ike: Countdown to D-Day" (2004) USA Movie with Tom Selleck as Ike, the Supreme Commander of the European Theater of Operations. Intriguing look at how Ike treated his subordinates, especially the supercilious British commander Montgomery and the petulant French commander DeGaulle, both of whom wanted his job. DeGaulle never accepted that Ike was calling the shots, but Ike never let that Vichy-ate his resolve to free France from German rule. Amazingly little difference between DeGaulle in 1944 and Chirac in 2004, isn't there? Oh, and for the first time, we get to see Ike's treatment of Patton from Ike's point of view. "He's so childish at times," Ike said to Smith as Patton was coming up for his spanking. No wonder Ike made being president seem so easy --- it was easy compared to what he did getting ready for D-Day. And you can see it masterfully portrayed in this movie.
“Catch-22” (1970)— the title could refer to the numbers of young stars you could catch in one movie: Alan Arkin, Richard Benjamin, Tony Perkins, Bob Newhart, Jon Voight, Charles Grodin, Art Garfunkle, Martin Sheen, Buck Henry, Peter Bonertz, Paula Prentiss, etc., plus a few “old” fogies like Orson Welles, Martin Balsam, and Jack Gilford thrown in to play the brass. This is a movie that ages well. Still as fresh and interesting as the first time I saw it. You don’t have to be crazy to watch this movie, and it doesn’t help!
“Darling Buds of May” — a British sitcom with ingenue Catherine Zeta Jones. Rural epic in the garden area of England, Kent. Her father is a farmer, used goods dealer, and opportunist. Marriette falls in love with a “Inland Revenue Agent” while she’s pregnant. That proves to be a false alarm, but her mom becomes really pregnant and considers that a sixth child on the way should be a reason to get married to the father, but the boy friend says they’d owe less taxes if they remained unmarried. Strange logic to use on a family which has systematically never filed taxes at all. Great characters, great fun. Like a weekend in the country of another country.

Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.

“Down to You” (2000) with Freddie Prinz, Jr. about two college kids who were clueless about life and shared their lack of insight with each other. Among the few redeeming qualities was the personal charisma of Prinz which carried the movie.

Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:

“The Three Stooges” (2000) — an AMC movie of the life and times of the frolicking three amigos, Curly, Moe, and Larry. Told me more than I wanted to know about their backgrounds and outcomes. They made a fortune for Columbia Pictures and got a salary out of it. If they ever got paid for all the TV showings of their 200 or so shorts, it was unclear from the movie – probably not. If Moesha Howard had possessed the business sense of a Desi Arnaz, they would have been multi-millionaires and lived in Bel Air instead of Toluca Lake. Fitting that their theme song was “Three Blind Mice” — reminded me of a Pogo cartoon, “What’s so bad about the blind leading the blind? The seeing been leading seeing all these years, and look what that got us.” The grace of this movie was how clearly it revealed the true genius of the Stooges: no one could do their stunts as naturally funny as they themselves.

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Boudreaux is hired as a guide to take five doctors duck-hunting. They all climb into the blind, Boudreaux sets out the decoys in front of them on the rice pond, and the first duck approaches the blind.

Boudreaux jumps into the blind, turns to the family doctor and says, “You take the first shot.” The doctor looks carefully at the approaching duck and says, “No, Boudreaux, I can’t be sure if that’s a duck or not.”

Boudreaux turns the other way to the pediatrician and gestures for him to shoot the duck quickly. The pediatrician takes a good look at the duck, and says, “No, I can’t be sure if the duck is old enough.”

Frustrated, Boudreaux calls to the psychiatrist, "You dere, shoot the duck!" The psychiatrist replies, “No, Boudreaux, I can see it’s a duck, but does the duck know it’s a duck?”

Quickly Boudreaux nudges the pathologist to signal him to shoot the duck, but before he could do anything, BANG! — the surgeon at the end of the row of hunters fires off a shot and the duck comes tumbling into the pond in front of them.

The surgeon turns to the pathologist and says, “Go see if that was a duck.”

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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for July, 2004 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
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Butter Beans over Rice with Grilled Flounder Filet

Background on Butter Beans over Rice with Grilled Flounder Filet: This one is easy to prepare. Excellent for times when fresh flounder (or other fresh fish) are available. With two cans of butter beans, it makes a delicious hot meal for two with maybe a single-serving leftover of beans and rice.

Ingredients Two cans of Trappey's Butter Beans.
Two yellow onions.
A Bay Leaf
Two filets of Flounder (Black Drum shown in above photo)

Chop yellow onions and open cans of Butter Beans. Allow fish filets to defrost if frozen.

Cooking Instructions
Sauté onions in olive oil till translucent. Add beans from cans. Add a Bay Leaf to liquid in pot. Add about an inch of water to the bottom of each can to get all the beans out and pour into pot. Cook till boiling, then on low for about an hour or so. Keep pot covered to conserve water. Ensure the water does not boil away — check pot every 15 minutes and replenish water if necessary. Beans should look like this in the pot and like this in a spoon when done.

While beans are cooking, cook some wild rice/long grain rice (or micro some from the freezer). See this link for details on preparation of rice. If you have Parboiled Wild Rice (Quick Cook), simply steam the long grain and wild rice together for 25 minutes. 3.5 cups of water to 2 cups of long grain rice and a half cup of wild rice. Bring water to boil with 1.5 tsp of salt and a TBL of olive oil to prevent sticking together of grains. Add rice to pot and return to boil. Set immediately to very low heat and set timer for 25 minutes. [This works for long grain rice alone or along with wild rice.]

Melt a TBL of butter, coat filets on both sides. Sprinkle Tony's Seasoning and chopped parsley liberally. Fry in non-stick frying pan on both sides about 30 seconds to a minute. Test fish is cooked all the way through (center should be as white as edges).

Serving Suggestion
Serve on plate with fish filets to the sides, a large portion of rice completely covered with beans. Ensure enough of the butter beans "sauce" covers rice for delicious eating. Bon Apetite!

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6. POETRY by BOBBY: 1) New, 2) from Rainbows & Shadows:
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             1) New Poem: Nothing's Better Than You

Before I met you, my lovely wife
I had some questions about your life.
I pinned down your friends for an evening or two
And tried discover how much that they knew.

How old is she? I wanted to know.
Thirty-something was as close as they’d go.

What’s her name? I wanted to know.
Del something, the other, or so.

What’s she like? I wanted to know.
Something sweet was as far as they’d go.

I decided that something must be done,
       that you must be
That something precious and fun
       that I wanted to see.

When I finally met you, Lo and Behold:
       I found out you were really something,
Something special with which to grow old,
       And found out I wanted to sing:

Something’s better than nothing,
And nothing’s better than you.

From the very first time
There was something between us
Much more intimate than I’m
Willing to discuss.

So singing was all I could do:

Something’s better than nothing,
And nothing’s better than you.

2) from Rainbows & Shadows

      In Praise of Procrastination

Seek ever to postpone
       nasty obligations
       till the last moment
So that if life should end
       ere one return to them
An extra measure of happiness
      may have been squeezed
       from the fruit of life.

Thus one may purchase
      an extra lease
      on this mortal plane
By mortgaging the future
      with deferred

To survive to complete
      the task thus converts
      the pain into joy.

Plus there is another bonus:
      If you put something off long enough,
      you don't have to do it at all.

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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for July:
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And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury.

1.) ARJ2: The Alchemy of Happiness by Al-Ghazzali

With Al-Ghazzali, faith was a living thing he kept in check, as Browning wrote in his “Bishop Blougram’s Apology”

With me faith means perpetual unbelief
Kept quiet like the snake 'neath Michael's foot,
Who stands calm just because he feels it writhe.
In this small book, one can feel Al-Ghazzali’s faith writhe in one’s hand as the book lights a fire in one’s heart. It is a fire that has burned over 8 centuries and is ready to warm your heart.

2.) ARJ2: To Shine One Corner of the World edited by David Chadwick

Suzuki Roshi knew the difference between himself and his students, as he told one of them, “I have students and you don’t.” Every word, every action was a teaching situation. This is a book that cannot be reviewed but only placed like a lamp on a bushel basket to allow each page to shine one corner of the world.

Chadwick writes in the Introduction, “Suzuki’s main teaching was silent — the way he picked up a teacup or met someone walking on a path or in a hallway, or how he joined with his students in work, meals, and meditation. But when the occasion arose to speak, he made an impression. This book is a record of such impressions.”

3.) ARJ2: Peirce's Philosophy of Science by Nicholas Rescher

While searching through my file cabinet, I excavated another 1988 review.

It was a handwritten original.

I searched my Unread Shelves in my Library and found the book with a xeroxed copy taped inside the back cover.

This is that review, newly edited and word processed for your edification.

4.) ARJ2: Louisiana Power & Light by John Dufresne

Ever try to study heavy material while 26 assorted offspring and grandkids are using your condo as a shortcut to the beach?

Well, forget it. I did. Instead I pulled this novel out whose title is the name of a company I went to work for in 1981 at its nuclear power station.

Read it in one day. Fun novel with great stories throughout.

Check out the review, then the book at the library.

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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.

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I. Padre Filius

Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to comment on the world.

This month the good Padre takes a ride on the Rückschau. The word, rückschau, in German means simply, “review”. But the process referred to by Rudolf Steiner as “rückschau” means specifically a review at the end of the day of the day’s events by going backwards in time. You start off with getting into bed, then take yourself on a trip backwards in time as the good Padre does for himself in the cartoon. As he travels backwards in time, he gets to re-experience all the events of the day and watch as each event proceeds behind him as he heads to the moment he awoke in bed in the morning of that day. This is the rückschau process, which the cartoon for this month lays out for you diagrammatically. The Padre is pushing the rückschau and watching how he, the Padre in the rückschau, is reacting to the events of the day as he encounters them in reverse order.

II. My Commentary for July:

1. Ronald Reagan Remembered

Former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, said that "Ronald Reagan was the Great Liberator who espoused the cause of cheering us all up." She added, "We have a beacon in our life that he never had: his example."

Former Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, told of the day in Ottawa, when after a Reagan speech to Parliament, they waited together for their wives at the airport. As the two elegant ladies walked towards them, Mulroney said, "Don't they look like a million dollars?" and Reagan smiled and replied, "Yes, for two Irishmen, we sure married up!" Mulroney also said that Reagan, "like no one else, could bring forth the majesty of the Presidency and make it glow."

Former President George Bush (41) told the story of the press asking Reagan after his unproductive talk with Bishop Tutu, "How did it go with Bishop Tutu?" Reagan replied, "So-so."

President George Bush (43) told the story of Bob Cummings asking Reagan if he'd ever considered running for President. Reagan replied, "Of what?" "The US." Bob said. "Wassamatta? You don't like my acting either?" Reagan quipped in his usual self-deprecating manner that disguised more than it revealed about his real nature.

In a curious paradox, the successor to Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury will get to decide whether to replace Hamilton's image on the ten-spot with that of Ronald Reagan. I say, hurry up and do it while a ten dollar bill can still buy what a dollar bill used to!

As for the Mt. Rushmore suggestion, I think that's a bad idea to have his image up there with those four other Presidents. Better idea: See what kind of deal we can make with Switzerland for the Matterhorn.

2. The Da Vinci Code Decoded

Friends have asked me if I've read the novel "The Da Vinci Code" with a tone of "you'd better read this if you want to learn the truth about Jesus" in their voice. What part of "novel" or "fiction" don't they understand? On the reverse of the main title page of Arthur Clarke's novel, "Childhood's End", is the following cryptic remark: "The opinions expressed in this book are not those of the author." Now I have no idea what Clarke meant by that remark, maybe his publisher put the remark there, but this remark helps me recall that novels are fiction --- they may not even express the opinion of the author! So, it should fool no one when, in a fictional novel, they encounter this bold statement on a page: FACT. In his review, Ben Witherington writes, "... the book begins with a page labeled 'FACT,' which claims, among other things, that 'all descriptions of ... documents ... in this novel are accurate.'" In a fictional novel, what is purported as fact is simply to be held as fact for the purposes of the novel, and not as fact outside of the novel. The reality purported for Hannibal Lector in his novels is on a par with the reality purported for Jesus in this novel. Fiction makes for a great story. Fiction laced with purported fact makes for an even greater story.

So, no, I haven't read "The Da Vinci Code" and have no plans to read it. I have no opinion on its worth either way, except that it must be an intriguing story as evidenced by its popularity. I have become curious about the book, especially as people seem to think it reveals some hidden secrets about Jesus. When I found Ben Witherington's review of the book (Sorry, link to his review is no longer available), I read it with interest. He is a professor of Biblical studies at a theological seminary and is writing a book, "The Gospel Code: Novel Ideas About Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Da Vinci", which is due out in June. His review is worth checking out as he gives some facts that are not fictional, not novelist facts, but facts upon which he stakes his reputation. Compare his reputation-based facts with the novelist facts of Dan Brown, and you decide which are more credible. You can read excerpts from his new book, "The Gospel Code" at:

3. Tea and Sympathy

While watching the British production “As Time Goes By” on DVD last night, I noted that Alistair, while drinking tea, had his left pinkie erect. This is a feature of English tea drinkers that Americans have treated with derision for as long as I can recall, and I admit to being a party to this contempt. But, no longer. I now understand the function which the erect pinkie serves, as I will explain anon, and I am duly admonished by the words of Herbert Spencer, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

My investigation, which enlightened me and lifted me out of my ignorance, amounted to simply watching as Alistair set his tea cup down while in rapt conversation. Without interrupting his conversation nor requiring his glancing downward to the teacup or table, his pinkie found the table’s surface and allowed him to set the cup down without a disturbing noise. AHA! I thought, that’s the function of the erect pinkie! No one ever explained that to me or the rest of us colonists, who mostly drink coffee and clank away without noticing it when we set our cups down. No TV director had to tell Alistair to have his pinkie in position for cup placement — he had already been carefully taught by growing up in a society for whom genteel conversation over tea is a way of life.

4. Doctors and Lack of Sympathy

Weekly I get reports from Del on how exhausted her mom is upon return from some medical procedure, not from the procedure, but from the hours of waiting past the time of their appointment. This morning, a good friend called to let me know that his wife, who is recovering from a serious automobile accident was sleeping in after a very exhausting 4 fours wait at the doctor’s office yesterday, and would be unable to have lunch with me today. How many times do you arrive at your doctor's appointment on time and are kept waiting for hours? It's amazing to me that doctors, who are pledged to do no harm, add suffering to their patients by keeping them waiting for hours in their office. With all the modern technology they purport to have at their disposal, efficient patient management is not one of them. If doctors were charged for the amount of time they kept patients waiting, that behavior would quickly change. Doctors who really cared about patient’s convenience would deduct $50 an hour from their bill for every hour a patient was kept waiting. That would give them the incentive to do better scheduling and keep their Hippocratic Oath to "do no harm".

5. Ray Charles on My Mind

Born Ray Charles Robinson, he changed from Ray Robinson in deference to Sugar Ray Robinson. Actually neither man needed the last name to be identified in his time. Look to see "Unchain My Heart", the movie about Ray Charles' life to be released soon. It was shot in New Orleans and I worked as a "background performer" playing an audience member on the first row standing to applaude as Ray came out on stage in a theater in Detroit to sing, "I Can't Stop Loving You" for the first time. Ray Charles will be missed — his distinctive voice was instantly recognizable and I don't think I've ever tuned away from a station playing a Ray Charles classic. (Post-Publication NOTE: Movie was released as "RAY" and won an Academy Award.)

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