punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Daily Life in Stick Figures on Paper

I never thought that the scope of my domestic life could be depicted in stick figures on a single sheet of paper but this morning my husband and daughter proved that, indeed, it could be so! Over breakfast they both worked to put our family activities during any given week on one side of a piece of printer paper. I have to say, I was rather impressed listening to the ease with which my daughter recounted our day-by-day doings to my husband who then rendered them into a stick-figure schemata. I recommend this activity to anyone with kids: see if they can summarize their time with you onto a single piece of paper. Rather than be dismayed at your parental predictability (as I was tempted to be at first), congratulate yourself for creating a sense of security in your child's life, one full of activities that they can count on!

Here's the breakdown (as far as I can tell):
The days of the week are labeled Sunday to Beach-day (Saturday). There are four "layers" to our day, though the second and third overlap.The little church on Sunday is mass, and the little one at the bottom is daily mass which we try to attend 2-3 times during the week if we can.

Layer 1:Daddy goes to work and then on "Beach day" someone is drowning in the water (hopefully the two aren't somehow related, as he is a teacher).
Layers 2+3: Mommy and the kiddies go to the "Y" and/or the "Ant Park" or just parks galore; somewhere thereabouts is nap time where my son is shown in "jail" (his crib) while my daughter sleeps in bed.
Layer 4: As I mentioned, the little church at the bottom with the "Wahhhhh!" speech bubble scribbled out (we have to sit in the crying room), symbolizes daily mass. Thankfully, the "Amen" bubble still remains; we wouldn't want to forget what we say when we are there.

I noticed that chores weren't mentioned (hmm) but I decided not to say anything. Of course there's more, but this picture gives a pretty good gist of our toddler-run household and so far, it seems, they run it well!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

When the “True Compassion” Bough Breaks, Society’s Confidence Does Fall

NARAL and Planned Parenthood make their daily bread off of society’s fear. They have convinced many that deprivation of abortion services is some sort of attack on women’s health, if not public health in general. What’s more they’re working very hard to persuade us that pro-life groups want to wage a “war on women,” on healthcare, and especially on the poor.

But this so-called "war" is ideology based, not gender based, and it owes its existence to great extent to the fallen limb of faulty evangelization: a doctrine of “false compassion” that sacrificed the truth in the name of political correctness and told America that it’s okay to kill the unborn for the sake of some materialistic notion of the common good. In doing so it ended up eliminating the entire basis for what the common good actually is: it destroyed our sense for the value of every human life as integral and necessary to that society.

By extension, it has severely altered our confidence and assuredness of our own self worth for the negative.

And so, of course people are going to “choose” abortion, “choose” to get rid of “the problem” because their sense of their own humanity has been violated by a cultural ethos which is downright hostile to any mention of the sanctity of human life. Human beings are commodities now, whose worth is assigned, and so it isn’t a far stretch to see how, in the profiteering world of an abortion provider, an aborted person is just another means to a financial ends, much like a living person.

My question for NARAL and PP is this: now that we base worthiness-to-live solely upon the happenstance that we are “valued” or “wanted” or a “choice”, then are we less worthy of life when we make mistakes, when we fail, or when we are betrayed? Do those inevitable life tragedies now make us superfluous commodities that society can discard? There are, after all so many more highly “valuable” and desirable people out there.

Of course not. We are not always going to be productive, or do the right thing, or be regarded highly by our peers, but this should never be equated one’s intrinsic worth.

But for NARAL and Planned Parenthood, it is. And they sell their dehumanizing ideology to a society whose notions of the inherent dignity of the human person have all but been eliminated, both by them and the “false compassion” movement which says “do whatever is culturally acceptable at the moment,” whether it hurts you or the culture you live in.

And yet if you talk to anyone, and I do mean anyone, they will agree that, at least, they consider themselves and their life to be important. Fancy that. People instinctively confident, or at least possessing some sense that their own life has value. A little more of that mixed in with the generosity to allow someone else to feel their own God given self worth one day is just what our culture needs (and, by the way, that's true compassion).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Of Gurus and God-Fearers: Regarding Harold Camping and Followers

The recent and ongoing debacle regarding Harold Camping and co.’s rapture and Second Coming predictions have gotten me thinking about two polemic ways of going about Faith which I consider equally problematic if not altogether self-defeating. That is, evangelization, taken up and expressed using either of the following methods, actually hinders true conversion in the modern mindset, and instead solemnizes the act of Faith as a caricatured expression of the ego or the result of someone’s absurd scrupulosity.

It’s something I’m calling guru-hood and "god-fearing" (with a lowercase 'g'). Guru-hood I’m defining as a certain self-appointed “mastery” of Christian topics resulting in the kind of spiritual leadership where the only authority regarding Christianity and the Bible is oneself and one’s own interpretation of what Jesus said and did. God-fearing is similar, where personal conversion runs as deep as either fear or even personal guilt resulting therefore in someone or a group of people attaching themselves to whatever version of Christianity best appeases their sensibilities for God cleansing the repentant of sin and obliterating all who still recalcitrantly resist conversion.

Either way, the gurus consider themselves qualified to make predictions about the end of the world, and the god-fearers consider themselves qualified, if not overly qualified, to believe these predictions hook, line and sinker.

Of course it is the place of those that know better, the true “gurus” or masters of Christianity who are attempting with true humility to persevere under a higher Church authority, and thus demonstrate true God-fearing (which requires acquiescence to God’s will and not one’s own), to pray for Camping and his followers. Indeed anyone with any inklings of faith should hopefully be moved to pray for their brothers and sisters in Christ who are clearly struggling with well-meaning but misguided notions of God’s final justice. And many are praying for them, though they won’t advertise it on billboards.

Bottom line, calling the world to conversion in Christ is still most effective when done with reason and with one’s own personal witness of faith, not in setting date after date for the impending so called “rapture” or eschaton. One can only hope with the inevitable failure of the next October date that it becomes obvious who exactly is in charge here; hint: it isn’t a solely human “authority” and nor is it any community’s collective fear. My hope is that Camping and his followers will one day be able to find true consolation in that.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

You Know You're a "Good Catholic" When...(Ten Behaviors That May Give You Away):

It's been a whirlwind weekend! Two posts in three days is a lot but I'm making up for the last two weeks that I've devoted to a research paper for school. I intend to blog more frequently now that summer is here!

Enjoy a quick list of traits held by many a "good Catholic." If you can think of anymore, leave a comment!

You know you're a "good Catholic" when...

1. You have drawer full of devotional religious cards and books you would feel too guilty throwing out or recycling.
2. One of your dream vacations would be attending a world youth day!
3. The acronyms JP2 and B16 are very dear to you.
4. You catch yourself humming the hymns at Church at random times and locations.
5. You know the hour or hours in the day that you’re supposed to say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or the Angelus.
6. When someone reports that they’ve gone on a pilgrimage and you respond with “Awesome!” or some variation there of.
7. You’re usually the only one in your pew or row that sings.
8. Your car is adorned with Catholic-related objects or bumper stickers.
9. Waiting seven days for mass seems like just too long.
10. You miss Lent once it ends.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Your Entertainment Versus Your Character

Opening the topic of people's entertainment is tricky especially if you do so with a view as to whether it adds to their overall moral fiber or character. It's a bit like traversing a minefield where there is ample opportunity for misunderstanding, getting defensive and feeling judged– it goes to show how seriously we take our fun!

But hopefully we all can agree that it’s a shame that such a deep dichotomy sometimes exists between our entertainment and our character. I regret how the media (full of its own prerogative, I'm sure) tends to elevate entertainment as solely worthy of all our efforts while fostering one's own personal integrity is given the same reception as getting a molar pulled.

Surely there is some way the two can exist harmoniously together. I believe they can, but admittedly, it does require some reflection on our parts, and there’s no getting around that.

Look at it this way: it’s a bit like school recess.

Between my husband and I, in our respective teaching careers, we’ve clocked in hundreds of hours of recess-duty. Recess, as we all know from experience, can go one of two ways: either the kids share sports equipment and have fun (which requires character) or they can take their fun too seriously (it’s all about them getting the ball) and nobody has fun, not even the ball-hogging curmudgeon.

But they’re kids, they’re learning and so they’re excused, to a point.

But what about us adults? Do we try to strike a balance between how much time we devote to our entertainment versus our character? Do the two ever overlap?

Let’s pluck the following adult “recess time” as an example: professional televised sports. Now, lest you think I’m picking on pro sports or sports fans, please note that what I’m about to say also goes for DIY, crafts, cooking shows or concerts. My question is: are you inspired to imitate that to which you devote yourself? Do you knit, cook, garden, build things, play an instrument or do sports, even recreationally?

Or, in other words: is what you watch an inspiration to how you wish to live or is it a distraction away from how you are in fact living?

In the case of televised sports, I acknowledge that not everyone who watches is an athlete, nor do they need to be in order to appreciate a display of athletic prowess. It is also just fun to get together with people in the spirit of local team camaraderie! I totally get it!

But back to the question of striking a balance: If you watch one three-hour sports game in a given week (or an hour of interior design shows, or an Iron Chef marathon) do you then go out and do something else meaningful that lasts about the same amount of time? It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant: you could visit relatives, read something, exercise, clean house, do laundry, take a class, garden, donate old items to charity, spend time with your kids, cook for your family, coach your son or daughter’s team etc.

Or how about go to mass (which only lasts one hour)?

Now hopefully it’s obvious that while there is nothing wrong with enjoying oneself by supporting a team, having a hobby, or watching a national pastime, it only stays a healthy interest, or even remains exciting so long as it’s in proportion to how else we live.

This is key because something that starts out as entertaining can quickly lose its thrill if we overly saturate ourselves with it. And so, I submit, that when that our entertainment falls into its proper place, when it’s not the center of our lives we enjoy it MORE because we’ve spent time doing other things that predispose us to actually appreciating how good it is.

How do we know if we’ve struck a balance? Two good questions can answer this for us: first, does the qualifier “fun” have to be present in an activity for us to do it? And: are there a disproportionate number of activities we do specifically because they are “fun?” After you answer these questions, go back and substitute “character” for “fun” and you will have a great springboard for self-reflection.

And yes, I am of the school that believes we should practice doing what is good because it is good in and of itself whether it entertains us or not. I’ve become this way mostly because I’ve seen entertainment become unduly important in schools and even forms of worship. But that is a topic for another post.

I also think that people today take ‘having fun’ a little too seriously. Regarding sports, I’ve seen such a disproportionate amount of local team paraphernalia and regalia lately (jerseys hung in windows and flags literally hoisted on masts people have jerry-rigged to their cars) that the die-hard Catholic in me has to hold back from raising the 'Keys of St. Peter' flag above my van in that “Forgive us our other worldly idols, Heavenly Father!” kind of way. But that would be a bit silly on my part, and most people probably would miss the connection.

And anyway my genuine sense is that we watch sports because it’s there, it’s enjoyable and it’s one of the few things on TV which isn’t morally reprehensible.

Watching the mastery of a skill, craft or sport is universally enjoyable, and so is rallying together as a community for a cause, for a team, or project. But it only remains so depending on us, and if we can make our entertainment not solely “about us,” now, that’s truly enjoyable!