Benedictines of Mary, Queen Of Apostles

I love choral music, and recently I discovered the CD Advent at Ephesus by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles choir. It is an astonishingly beautiful piece of work that should appeal to anyone — regardless of their religious affiliation — who loves the sound of the human voice.

I knew nothing about the Benedictines of Mary when I discovered their music. They are a monastic order of nuns that began in the diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania and then transferred to the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri. The order follows the monastic directives of St. Benedict, which includes regular singing and chanting. The video above tells a little bit more about the life of these nuns and gives a taste of their exquisite music. Advent at Ephesus is just one of their CDs, and coincidentally a new CD is coming out this week.

There is a ethereal, transcendent quality to the blended voices of these nuns that is enormously appealing and deeply peaceful. Of the songs on Advent at Ephesus, my favorite selections are Like the Dawning, Come Thou Redeemer of the Earth, Maria Walks Amid The Thorn, and Benedixisti Domine, but all of the songs on the CD are wonderful. I recommend it highly to anyone who is a fan of choral music.

Sledding New Albany — 2014

IMG_5888I’m guessing that if you polled the kids of New Albany, they’d be virtually unanimous in saying that this has been the best winter for sledding in a long, long time. We’ve had lots of snow and cold temperatures that keep the snow on the ground and icy — perfect for creating sledding runs on the hill behind number one North. When I walked past the hill yesterday, it was packed with kids, Moms, and Dads, and they were having a blast.

As I trudged by, I heard the familiar Dad’s cry echoing from the top of the hill: “Chris! I told you — walk up the side of the hill!”

Debating The Value Of Work

The recent CBO report on the impact of the Affordable Care Act — which concluded that total hours worked by Americans will decline because people will chose not to work more in order to preserve their government subsidies for health care — has spurred a debate about work. Supporters of the law say that allowing Americans to choose more leisure time is a good thing. One article in this vein is entitled “Why Do Republicans Want Us to Work All the Time?”

One point that seemingly is lost in this discussion is how we are going to pay for this leisure time. In the 20th century, utopians dreams about people having more leisure time involved the use of labor-saving devices that people purchased with their paychecks, not government programs that discouraged people from taking on work that was available to them and that they were capable of doing. One obvious question from the CBO report is, who is going to pay for the subsidies (and the other ever-growing government programs) if people are working fewer hours and therefore paying less in taxes?

But let’s lay aside the issue of who is going to pay for all of this, and focus instead on work as a standalone concept. If America as a country has really reached the point where people are debating the value of working, then we have strayed far from the very deep roots of our culture. Our Puritan forefathers believed that work promoted qualities, like industriousness, that were crucial to a successful social order. Pioneers and farmers worked from dawn to dusk. Immigrants were attracted to our country because the Land of Opportunity afforded the opportunity to work and build a better future for their families. For generations, all American political parties agreed that work was good — indeed, essential — and that our goal should be to achieve full employment. Now, apparently, that unanimous view is fracturing.

I’m one of those people who believes that work is a good thing. I think working involves important values, like personal pride and self-reliance and selflessness, in that many of us who are working are doing so to provide better lives and opportunities for our families. I think working gives structure to our lives and promotes qualities like cooperation and teamwork that you simply don’t develop sitting at home. I’m not opposed to leisure time, but I think it should be earned — not encouraged by government subsidies. And I wonder how much of that government-subsidized leisure time that some people are now extolling will be used productively, and how much will be frittered away watching the TV or indulging in other time-wasting or even personally destructive activities?

Work is work, and it is a good thing. I’m amazed that the topic is even open for debate.