Pope’s Secretary Didn’t Burn his Boss’s Notes

Based on the actions of the highly trusted person in this story, It may be better to take care of your business personally rather than trusting someone else who thinks his judgement is better than yours.  See what you think.

Pope John Paul II’s longtime private secretary said Saturday he did not burn the late pontiff’s notes as his will demanded, arguing that the papers contain “great riches” and should instead be preserved.

Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz

Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who worked with the pope from 1966 until his death in April 2005, told Polish state radio there are “quite a lot of manuscripts on various issues,” but he offered no details.

“Nothing has been burned,” Dziwisz said. “Nothing is fit for burning, everything should be preserved and kept for history, for the future generations — every single sentence.”

“These are great riches that should gradually be made available to the public.”

Dziwisz did not say when or how that might happen.

In a March 1979 entry to his testament, John Paul said he left no material property and asked that Dziwisz burn all his personal notes.

In Saturday’s radio interview, Dziwisz suggested that some of the notes could prove useful in the late pontiff’s beatification process. Dziwisz said he took his own daily notes throughout John Paul’s papacy, which he said also could prove useful to that process but contain no opinions about individuals.

Last month, Pope Benedict XVI announced he was lifting a five-year waiting period to start the process to beatify John Paul, the last formal step before the late pontiff could be made a saint.


Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


For many people, gathering possessions is just the stuff of life

Read this is in the LA Times today …

By Mary MacVean

We cherish things and accumulate them. We move them from shelf to shelf, and from home to home. The federal government estimates that a quarter of Americans with two-car garages don’t use them for automobiles. Even those without a permanent home carry their stuff around with them.

We like to shop, own, trade or give away. Things matter to us, for reasons practical and emotional.

“Our possessions all have magical qualities. Many, if not most, of the things we keep have an essence that goes beyond the physical character of the object,” says Randy Frost, a professor at Smith College, in Northampton, Mass., who has studied and written about hoarding and is the author of “Stuff.”

A stroll through the Sunday flea market outside Fairfax High School provides a catalog of some of those magical objects: varsity letter jackets, rotary phones, typewriters, fur blankets, old ties and cowboy boots. Butterflies pinned to cardboard and framed. A crystal Eiffel Tower. A blue guitar.

Vendors collect stuff to sell to people, who often resell the stuff all over again.

“This market has the best eclectic stuff — a collection of people’s things that are old,” says LaNell Petersen, shopping on a recent weekend with her sisters. She likes the hunt for something she believes is more valuable than its price.

Consider these statistics cited by professional organizer Regina Lark: The average U.S. household has 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards. U.S. children make up 3.7% of children on the planet but have 47% of all toys and children’s books.

So why can’t we let go? And what are the implications of our reluctance to pare down, our inability to get organized?

The notion that things don’t matter is rubbish, the experts say. They matter for many reasons: keeping up with the Joneses, recalling departed loved ones, even objective value — like the 17th century Dutch painting that is among many objects of desire in Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch.”

Our things can give us a sense of security, connection to the past, to the people we love.

“When you go home in the evening after work, you go in your house and you feel comfort because you have your stuff,” Frost says.

But that security may be a crutch too, “a sort of public artificial mask,” says Andrew Mellen, a professional organizer and author of “Unstuff Your Life.” “Full bookshelves say, ‘I’m well-read. I have lots of books.’ But really, you just buy books. Is your home an accurate external reflection of you?”

Lark had bookcases full of the books she used to earn a doctorate in history. When she downsized to an apartment, she looked at the volumes and came to the conclusion that they represented her accomplishment, her intelligence. As she decided what to keep, “I had to ask myself a lot of questions. Who am I without these books? What will people think of me? Getting rid of them, am I less smart?”

Finally, she passed them on to a younger doctoral student and says she’s happier for it.

But there’s no single prescription: “One person is happy living in a sparsely furnished yurt,” says Gretchen Rubin, who devoted a chapter of her book “Happier at Home” to assessing her possessions, “while another person is happy adding to a collection of fine porcelain. There’s no one right way.”

“I don’t think stuff is inherently wrong or bad,” Mellen says, “but if things have become obstacles to your happiness, that’s a problem.”

Figuring out what to discard and being able to actually toss stuff is crucial to an ordered, happy life, experts say.

“I am impressed by the degree to which outer order controls inner calm,” says Rubin. She recalls the friend who told her, “‘I cleaned out my fridge, and now I can change careers.'”

Among our keepsake possessions, photos have their own “symbolic weight,” prompting people to save even pictures of people they no longer remember, Rubin says.

Eventually many of them end up in the trash — unless Mark Kologi gets his hands on them. For 17 years now, artists in need of inspiration and all sorts of other people have found their way to his flea market stall to root through bins of miscellaneous snapshots, most of which sell for 50 cents apiece. He estimates he’s sold millions over the years. “They don’t belong in the garbage,” he says.

Some have been bought by Luiso Berdejo, who was inspired to make the film “Violet” by one picture. In the film, a young man falls in love with a woman he sees in a photo from that stall and sets out to find her.

As Berdejo talks, another customer encourages a friend to “just reach in and pull one out.” You never know where it might lead.


Frequent Tests Can Enhance College Learning

From the New York Times — November 20, 2013 (edited for length)


Grading college students on quizzes given at the beginning of every class, rather than on midterms or a final exam, increases both attendance and overall performance, scientists reported Wednesday.

Psychologists have known for almost a century that altering the timing of tests can affect performance. In the past decade, they have shown that taking a test — say, writing down all you can remember from a studied prose passage — can deepen the memory of that passage better than further study.

On the first day of their Psych 301 course in fall 2011, James W. Pennebaker and Samuel D. Gosling — who have taught it jointly for years — instructed all 901 students to bring a laptop to class, if they had one (they all did).

The students then learned why: They would be taking a short quiz in each subsequent class on their computer. The quizzes would be short and personalized — seven questions that the entire class would answer, and one tailored to each student, usually a question from another quiz that he or she got wrong.

In place of a final exam, grades were based on cumulative quiz scores.

The questions “weren’t impossible, as long as you did the reading and paid attention in class, but there were definitely some ‘thinkers,” said one student.

By the end of the course the class had outperformed a previous Psych 301 class of 935 students that used midterm exams — scoring 10 percent higher on a subset of 17 questions that appeared on both classes’ tests. The quizzed group also got slightly higher grades, the study found.

By forcing the students to stay current in the reading and pay attention in class, the quizzes also taught them a fundamental lesson about how to study, the authors said.

In the middle of the semester, attendance usually averages about 60 percent, Dr. Pennebaker said, adding: “In this quiz class it was 90 percent. If you know you’ve got a quiz, you have to show up.”