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It practically gallops!

Shakers Gonna Shake

Is it possible that Taylor Swift and I have something in common?

In one of the videos of outtakes from “Shake It Off,” Taylor says that ballet is her favorite dance to “stomp my way through.” In another outtake video, she makes an effort to mimic the dance moves of the professionals, but the result is hilarious. She is using the same strategy that I use during performances with the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association.

When I played an ugly stepsister in Cinderella, I tried to do the same moves as the real ballerinas. Obviously I failed and got laughs. The character I played didn’t know she was awkward and funny. I really did try to look graceful. When the ballerinas left, my “sister” and I did ridiculous dance moves, in the same vein as Taylor Swift does in her new video.

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Neath the Sunsphere

On Saturday, first responders in Knoxville participated in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb to honor the 343 firefighters who died in New York on 9/11/01. The participants climbed the equivalent of 110 stories at the Sunsphere while wearing their gear.

Similar events have taken place in other cities over the years but Saturday’s event was the first in Knoxville. It raised funds for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

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I learned of the event via a press release from Visit Knoxville. I emailed Communications Director Erin Donovan, asking her to express the appreciation of Terry Hatton’s relatives to the participants.

Erin responded via Facebook. She told me that Jason Toth of the Knoxville Fire Department carried the memorial card for my cousin Terry. She included a photo of Jason, third from left, as well as a photo of Terry’s card. She posted the photos to Instagram too.

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According to Matthew

Matthew Kelly spoke to a full house at All Saints Catholic Parish on Friday night. Fr. Michael Woods decided that his parishioners would get the opportunity to purchase tickets before Kelly’s appearance was announced to the general public. The overwhelming majority of attendees at the sold-out event were from All Saints.

We were warned to get there early for the 7:00 p.m. presentation. Knoxville Catholic High School had a home football game at 7:30, which meant parking would be tight. Organizers made arrangements for extra parking on the grass and at Peace Lutheran Church across the street.

At the beginning of Kelly’s remarks, I was reminded of some phrases I’ve heard and read frequently in the corporate world. He talked about the spectrum of engagement in a company and in a parish’s congregation. Kelly said that highly engaged people seek best practices.

He stressed the importance of personal clarity, which is knowing, “Who you are, what you are here for, what matters most, what matters least.” Kelly taught that clarity emerges from silence and that in the silence, God speaks to us.

My favorite part of the speech was Kelly’s definition of three voices of God: the voice of legitimate needs; the voice of talents and abilities; and the voice of deepest desire.

 Singer-songwriter Eliot Morris travels with Kelly each weekend. Morris performs for about half-an-hour before Kelly begins. Morris also plays before and after each of the two intermissions. I spied Kelly deeply listening to one of his favorite songs right before beginning the final segment of the evening.

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In the Schrivers’ Seat

In box office parlance, “tenth row center” is the location of the best seats in the house. From there, you can see and hear everything on the stage. It’s not too far, not too close. It’s just right. When I worked in the box office at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts, I learned that some people prefer to sit slightly left of center. We called that the “keyboard side” because those seats give a better view of the pianist’s fingers.

In May, my wife bid on a few items in the silent auction at the All Saints Parish Adult Social. In past years, she has tried to buy movie tickets or restaurant gift cards. This year, she was the winning bidder for a pair of Knoxville Symphony Orchestra season tickets for the Moxley-Carmichael Masterworks Series. At the time, she received a voucher and instructions because the tickets had not yet gone on sale.

The process of redeeming the voucher was similar to ordering tickets by phone. She called the box office with her information and mailed them the voucher as her payment. Her ticket order went in the stack with everyone else’s, to be filled when the tickets were ready to be printed. She placed the order early enough that we were assigned great seats for the season. In fact, we got tenth row, center!

On Thursday night, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra opened their season at the Tennessee Theatre. It was the first performance in the Maestro Lucas Richman’s final season as music director. The program included two pieces before intermission and Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 after intermission.

Guest soloist Jon Kimura Parker did an outstanding job with the Brahms’ opus. From my vantage point, I enjoyed seeing the intense concentration on his face and his love of the music. At the start of the show, Lucas Richman said that he and “Jackie” had worked on a project in Los Angeles. After the concerto, Parker said that Lucas dared him to play a certain composition as a brief encore. Parker announced that it was by American composer Danny Elfman just before launching into a beautiful rendition of the theme from The Simpsons.

When the Tennessee Theatre re-opened in 2005 after a massive restoration project, those who donated at a certain level could have their name placed on a brass marker on the armrest of one of the seats. As my wife and I settled in to the seats we will occupy for the 2014-2015 season, I recognized the name on the armrest between us. Julia and Bob Schriver are the parents of our good friend Fr. Ragan Schriver. We’ve got to know the Schriver family over the years. This past December, we mourned the death of Bob. I can hardly wait to tell Ragan that we found his parents’ names are on the best seats in the house.

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Showtime at the Apologetics

The amount of anti-Catholic comments on a single Facebook post astounded me. Most of the comments show ignorance about the Church. Some comments are actually hateful.

Heather Burian, a recently-hired reporter for WVLT-TV, filed a story about the Diocese of Knoxville’s first investigation into a possible miracle.

The TV station posted a link to the story on their public Facebook page. Rather than attempt to understand the issue, many Facebook users chose to bash the Church.

As Christians, our goal is to reach heaven. We can’t be 100% sure which of our friends and relatives are already there. However, there are certain people throughout history who are likely to be in heaven because of the exemplary life they led on earth.

Catholics believe that a saint is anyone who is in heaven. I like to think that my grandmother is in heaven and is therefore a saint but I don’t have any proof. For a specific person to be identified as a saint, the Church requires some pretty big proof.

Saints are in the presence of God. Catholics ask the saints to pray to God on our behalf. On earth, we have a prayer circle of our friends. Think of the saints as our friends in heaven who are part of that prayer circle.

If someone on earth is incurably ill, they, along with their family and friends, might ask a saint to pray to God with them and for them. If God intervenes and cures the illness, we say that God has performed a miracle and we draw the conclusion that the human soul who intervened on our behalf must be in heaven. The Catholic Church requires two such miracles before bestowing the title of saint.

Several of WVLT’s Facebook fans misunderstood the news story. I’ll agree that the station’s Facebook post was unclear. It says, “Knoxville may have its first miracle.”

I wonder how many of the commenters only read the status update and not the story. It would be more accurate to say that the Diocese of Knoxville is conducting its first investigation of a miracle in the diocese’s 26 year history. They are checking to see if a local man was cured after asking the late Fr. Isaac Hecker to intercede.

At least two commenters declared that “this has nothing to do with a dead priest” and “a dead priest had nothing to do with it.” At least two more commenters wrote, “God doesn’t need Catholic approval for miracles.” One could be plagiarizing the other or perhaps they were fed the same anti-Catholic propaganda while growing up. Rather than research something with which they are not familiar, it seems they would rather give us their uninformed opinion.

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Edwardian Era

Edward W. Reinhold is the new special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville Division. He assumed his duties on Monday. Former SAC Kenneth Moore retired at the end of May.

The press release details some of Mr. Reinhold’s past assignments, including two stints at FBIHQ in Washington, DC. He is originally from Maryland and most recently lived in Virginia.

The official announcement didn’t mention Mr. Reinhold’s temporary assignment as acting special agent in charge of the St. Louis Division earlier this summer. During that time, he was mentioned in some news stories about the FBI cracking down on laser-pointing attacks on airplanes. A midwest movie theatre chain partnered with the FBI to display public service announcements about laser-pointing. The partnership was a result of the CEO’s participation in the FBI Citizens Academy.

On Monday and Tuesday, Mr. Reinhold met with a few local elected officials and visited some area businesses. I gave him a tour of the Journal Broadcast Group studios and introduced him to my bosses.

Although Monday was his first day on the job, Mr. Reinhold visited Knoxville three weeks earlier to meet his new staff. By coincidence, there was a meeting of the FBI Knoxville Citizens Academy Alumni Association that evening. Mr. Reinhold met the members in attendance and spoke about his commitment to the Citizens Academy program.

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Emcee You in September

Photographers Scott Maentz and Stephanie Richer took hundreds of photos at the Diocese of Knoxville Homecoming Celebration on Saturday. My wife and I are in several of their pictures. I was the emcee during the day’s family-oriented activities. My wife was the cantor for the Mass that closed the event. Scott got a great picture of my wife leading the responsorial psalm. Cardinal Justin Rigali can be seen behind her.

 Scott also photographed Jim Wogan and me as Jim was preparing to go in the dunk tank. Jim said he knew that Bishop Stika wouldn’t dunk someone wearing a St. Louis Cardinals jersey. The Cardinals are Bishop Stika’s favorite team. Jim went on to confess that he was really a Pirates fan, which made it very easy for the bishop to dunk him. Later in the day, after I had soaked up more sun than expected, Scott spied me behind the soundboard during Mass.

 If you look at Scott’s photo gallery, you’ll see several aerial shots from his drone. He had a smartphone mounted on his controls. The phone showed what the drone’s camera was seeing. Meanwhile, Stephane got a nice shot of the drone hovering behind me.

Stephanie was positioned at the finish line of a tricycle race between Bishop Stika and three of his employees. The bishop defeated Jim Wogan, John Deinhart and Deacon David Lucheon. David recently retired from his job as Chief Financial Officer.

 When Stephanie posted the picture on Facebook, some folks joked about the boss winning the race. Blogger Frank Weathers noticed that the bishop rode a trike that was a different from the others. I originally thought he chose that trike because it was Cardinals red but now I realize that it had better rear wheels and handlebars. No matter the outcome, the race was a lot of fun. You can see me describing the action into the microphone.

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