April 27, 2005


It is near the end of the school year, and as usual my thoughts run toward summer. Or more precisely, where I will travel this year. The beauty of my vocation of teaching is that it provides more than 10 weeks off---paid, of course---between June and August. This free time is such a part of my being that any thought of working over the vacation is anathema. I am blessed to be in a state where I can survive---thrive, actually---without needing to work those ten long weeks of summer. May God grant that it always be so.

I had planned to return to Peru and disappear alone into the Andes for the entire summer. But as always in temporal affairs there exist factors beyond the control of men. At times Peru seems to fade from sight, becoming ghostly and out of reach. At other times I am walking the main boulevard of Miraflores searching for aji de gallina.

Quo Vadis, Austin? Decision time is May 15.

If Peru becomes impossible this year then I will be off for the wilds of the Ouachita Trail and parts yonder---yonder in this case being New Mexico, Arizona and Oregon. I hear of forests and mountains and deserts out there. They beckon and entice, as such places always do. Is my fate then to attempt to walk among them all? I felt---I feel---that way about Central and South America. There was a time, oh, about 15 years ago when I decided to walk with pack and tent upon every country south of the Rio Grande. I made a list of jungles and mountains and vowed to see them all. I kept that vow, though it took me almost half of my adult life. Fait accompli. Done deal. Been there, done that, got the dysentery. Last year as I was sitting in an airport in Guatemala City after my 'year of living dangerously' I wrote

And it was a bit unsettling---and shocking---to realize that what I had planned to do for years, what I had dreamed of doing for years, what I had threatened to do for years---was now over. Done. Finished. Completed. Wrapped up. Close the book. Thanks for the memories. Now let's move on, Ok?

But have I 'moved on?' Did I really close the book on my life of Latin American adventure? Short answer: No. I want---I need---to return there, not to live but to continue my walkabout. The only question is when.

Perhaps summer is too soon. Perhaps I need to wait another year and allow the hunger to grow. Perhaps only when the desire begins to consume will I be able to move Heaven and earth to get back to those 'wild weird climes, out of space, out of time.' What to do? Easy---I will ask the Carpenter.

Dear Lord: I come as your humble, sinful and undeserving servant. In Your loving Mercy You have given me the desire to see your Creation. Now Lord give me direction. I beg you to allow me to know your Infinite Mind and what it wishes for me this summer. I ask for the strength then to obey. Amen.

And so be it.


April 19, 2005

Habemus Papam

 Click for Large Photo

Cardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI. He was my favorite of all the cardinals. Because of Benedict's predecessor I became an ultramontanist. Now with Benedict's selection I still am.

Ratzinger as pope means, of course, that the Catholic Church has declared open warfare upon all forms of the humanist philosophy and her acolytes.

God loves His Church. The Holy Spirit came among us this morning and with white smoke from the Vatican renewed the face of the earth.


April 12, 2005

Random Thoughts

Of late my muses---of Guitar, of Writing---have fled me. Maybe I upset them. They will be back, though they are fickle things. But the muse of Teaching remains, which is a good thing. It is teaching that pays the bills and puts food on my table and gas in my Jeep. I can do without writing and guitar playing for awhile.


Two weeks ago as I was entering Saint Eugene's for 10 AM Mass there was a reporter for The Daily Oklahoman in the lobby. He was asking parishioners their thoughts on the death of John Paul II. He asked me for a short interview. Here is what appeared in the paper the next day.

Mike Austin said the pope's steadfastness and unfailing devotion to God, His Son and the Holy Spirit is memorable. 

"I hope to see him as I hope to see Christ someday face-to-face," Austin said.

I hope I did not embarrass the Church too much.


What is all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about gasoline prices? What are they now, around $2.30? So what? Adjusted for inflation gas prices are low compared to the early 1980s. Like any commodity the price of oil fluctuates with demand. Demand for oil right now is high because of the American, Indian and Chinese economies, all of which are growing at a brisk pace. Rising GDPs mean rising demand for oil. Rising demand means higher prices in the short run. Rising prices will lead suppliers to supply more oil. More supply means lower price. Please see the first few chapters of any high school Economics 101 text.

And if you are really clever, you might give some thought to how the Iraq War has contributed to higher than normal oil prices. Now that it is winding down, next think of the drilling that will occur in ANWR, which will increase supply. Look for oil to stabilize around $35 a barrel within a year. My Jeep will be happy.


I received the "Best Mannered Teacher" award from the National League of Junior Cotillions and attended its black-tie annual spring ball and dinner. This picture was one result.

Not exactly Pierce Brosnan, but it will do.


One aftershock of the Terri Schiavo affair has been the scramble to make 'living wills.' Myriad folks looked upon the luckless woman and said, "That will never happen to me!" They made a Gadarene rush to the nearest lawyer and emerged  from his office with living will in hand, exultant at having avoided a Schiavo-type fate.

Fools. There is no such thing as a will that cannot be challenged. A will---living or otherwise---is only a legal document with some dead person's name on it and the names of some attorney and witnesses. No will holds any water at all if the dead man's family wishes to challenge it. There exists an entire branch of the legal profession dedicated to rendering wills null and void.

Facts of life: If you are in Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) and your guardian wishes you dead, you die. (Terri Schiavo was not in PVS in spite of what the media said.) If you need a feeding tube to survive and your guardian wishes you dead, you die. If you are in a coma and have a living will that demands that every effort be made to keep you alive, but your guardian wishes you dead, you die.

Terri Schiavo was helpless against a husband who wished her dead. He needed merely to locate a willing accomplice in the judicial apparatus. Once such a creature was found it was only a case of submitting legal documents. Our system functioned oh-so-efficiently and ground Terri Schiavo to dust---literally, for her loving husband had her body cremated.

Welcome to the brave new world ushered in by Roe v. Wade in 1973. We cannot say that we were not warned. All sorts of dreadful predictions were made after the supreme court made abortion on demand legal. They have all come true, from infanticide to teen abortions to euthanasia. Now we have begun to exterminate the inconvenient and the helpless. Last year a woman aborted two healthy babies out of a set of triplets. Three children would have been burdensome, you see. This year a couple aborted a child with a cleft palette. The baby was imperfect, you see.

"We have crossed a great moral divide!" yowled some, especially religious types. No, we crossed that in 1973. While spinning downward into our moral abyss I did see a sign that read, "Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter." And so we have.


April 2, 2005

Pater Noster






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