On my bookshelf, Holy Week 2020 and beyond

This is my long overdue post on what I’ve been reading and what I’ve got in the queue, some of it Lenten some of it not (except, of course, that everything is Lenten).

For my top picks of family-friendly Holy Week videos, look here.

Simcha’s Lenten Family Film Festival is here, and Julie Davis has a starter pack of Lenten viewing here, but her whole blog is a treasure trove of reading and viewing suggestions.

***

My Good Friday go-to is Thomas à Kempis’s On the Passion of Christ.  I read a little bit more of it every year.

On the Passion of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

So no, I wasn’t kidding when I recommend partial-book reading as a Lenten strategy.  It’s a thing. Sometimes a very spiritually fruitful thing.  This is definitely a book for which a single meditation — even just a few paragraphs — can go a long, long ways.

Not recommended for those prone to scrupulosity.  Ideal for those prone to laxity.  Great example of using one’s imagination to immerse oneself in Scripture as a method of prayer, btw.

And hence: Not for the scrupulous. Just no.  NO!

If you are prone to scruples, for goodness sakes do like my kid did today, unbidden, and grab a few of Pauline Media’s Encounter the Saints books.  Good for kids, ideal for busy adults who need a quick inspiring read that will challenge your faith.  Can’t have too many of these.

Just finished: All Blood Runs Red: The Legendary Life of Eugene Ballard — Boxer, Pilot, Soldier, Spy by Phil Keith and Tom Clavin.  I give it . . . I dunno.  A lot of stars.  Also, I demand a mini-series.  Talk about non-stop fodder for period drama . . . the adventures just. never. quit.

Of Catholic interest: Somewhere along the way, Eugene Ballard managed to become a Catholic, often a lousy but also compulsively-heroic Catholic, and he died reconciled to the Church.  The biography doesn’t treat his faith very extensively, which is probably just as well; when THEY MAKE THE MINI-SERIES, which I demand, they’d better not screw up the Catholic part.

All Blood Runs Red: The Legendary Life of Eugene Bullard-Boxer, Pilot, Soldier, Spy

Did I mention I demand a mini-series?  This is a great story.

Currently reading: 

I apologize if you thought I was reading Lentier-stuff.  Well, these are Lenty each in their way.  Everything is Lenty.

Okay but I have another one open that is properly Lent-themed:

Just Sayeth the Lord: A Fresh Take on the Prophets by Julie Davis.

Thus Sayeth the Lord by Julie Davis

I’m a few chapters in, and so far so good.  Down-to-earth recaps, explanations, and meditations on the stories of various prophets.  Based on the what I’ve read, I’d definitely consider this one as a choice for a parish book club or Bible study, ages teen and up.

Readable, does not assume a particular level of background knowledge, does provide spiritual insights useful to those who are already well-studied.

It is of course no secret I’m a Julie Davis fan.  Her other two books are quite different and heartily recommended:

(Head’s up: At this writing I am not active on Goodreads, so please don’t try to message me there and then wonder why I’m ignoring you.)

Next Up:

Living Memento Mori: My Journey Through the Stations of the Cross by Emily DeArdo.  I’ve actually kinda sorta already read this book? But not exactly.

Living Momento Mori by Emily DeArdo

Emily is one of my favorite internet writer-friends, and she let me take a look at the original manuscript for this book back when we were trying to figure out who would be the ideal publisher.

Ave Maria was the winner, and their request was that she organize her memoir around the Stations of the Cross — if you didn’t know this already, one of the things publishers do with book proposals and manuscript drafts is come back to the author with requests for how to modify the book to better serve their readers.  It’s up to the author, of course, to decide which suggested changes fit with the goals of the book and when it’s time to stand firm (even at the cost of walking, if it comes to it); Emily obviously decided that the stations theme worked with her story, and I trust her instincts on that one.

I haven’t read the Stations of the Cross version, and no, I don’t feel, for a moment, that somehow that framework will become obsolete come Easter.  I have a sneaking suspicion, sorry to say, that Momento Mori is going to remain a pertinent theme for many months to come.

In the future I am going to recommend that Emily write something like My Memoir of Everything Being Awesome and Life is a Cakewalk, and maybe world events will take a hint?

And finally, you knew it was coming, I’m eager to finally be able to crack open The Contagious Catholic: The Art of Practical Evangelization by Marcel LeJeune.

The Contagious Catholic by Marcel LeJeune

Call it Providence or coincidence, but I assure you Catholic publishers don’t get six months advance notice on upcoming world events and tailor their book titles accordingly.

In what is definitely Providence, here’s the story of how we ended up writing overlapping books coming out within just months of each other: I had a brief online conversation with Marcel about the same time I was pitching my book proposal to OSV.  He mentioned in conversation that he had a book (he didn’t elaborate on the specific topic) in mind but had no idea when he’d get around to writing it or finding a publisher for it.

So I figure: Okay, he’s the guy to write about a book about this, but he’s not writing the book.

Makes sense. He’s a really busy guy running a major ministry teaching people how to evangelize, and his priority is to do the thing.  So someone needs to write the book on how to do the thing.  We get lots and lots of people who are excited about evangelization but are seriously wondering, “Okay, how do we do this?” because they’ve never been in a parish where evangelization and discipleship happen for serious.

I’m a writer.  I’m not running a major ministry that is sucking up all my time.  He can do the thing and I can write about the thing.  I guess I’ll do that.

There is no way — let me repeat: NO WAY — I would have even proposed my book if I’d known Marcel was writing his.  So it’s a good thing I did not know that he was going to end up finding time to get his manuscript together, because he has read my book now, and here’s his verdict in his email feedback to me:

You hit a lot of areas that I did not, and it seems the most  important ones were covered in our own ways by both of us.

That sounds about right.  You can check out the Catholic Missionary Disciples blog here to get a feel for Marcel’s writing style and the topics that interest him, how he and I overlap each other, and how is depth of experience is going to bring a different perspective than mine.

Anyway, now that I’m finally done with edits (other than a final look after the copy-editor has finished cleaning up the no-good, horrible, very-bad typos I’ve already identified from my “final” draft after pushing the send button), I’m free to read Marcel’s book with no risk of accidental plagiarizing, and so that’s what I am itching to do.*

Girl with preztels covering her eyes, in front of bookshelf.

For today’s photo penance, let’s do a fresh young face from the camera roll: A child of mine in attendance at a Family Honor parent workshop SuperHusband and I were giving last year.  This is what happens when you let her borrow your laptop.

*If you’re wondering: I’m pretty strict with myself about not reading other people’s blog posts or books on a topic I’m actively writing on, except if I’m explicitly researching a response to that literature. So I spent many months not clicking through on Marcel’s blog links because I didn’t want his voice getting confused with my own while I was actively writing.

Could I recommend you read, memorize, and internalize every single thing he writes on his blog?  Yes.  I recommend that.

And then go do the thing. DO. THE. THING.  Thank you.

 

French Culture – Marriage, Family Life, and Sexuality – Interesting Links

My latest at the National Catholic Register touches on some interesting bits of French culture where marriage is concerned.   I didn’t have room in a short essay to create an annotated bibliography, and anyway I stumbled on more interesting stuff than I’ll ever write about.  Here’s a list of assorted links of potential interest to select readers, with a few comments at the bottom related to my essay topic.

In talking about cultural contrasts, here’s an article on France’s military-run brothel system, dating from World War I.  Here’s a short history of the United States’ approach to the problem of venereal diseases during the same period.  The differences are striking.

This Google preview of Fathers, Families, and the State in France, 1914-1945  has some history of the role of paternity during that time period.

 

All kinds of interesting parental-rights cases from the European Court of Human Rights are summarized here (in English).

On the question of legitmacy: Children Born Outside Marriage in France and their Parents. Recognitions and Legitimations since 1965.  Text is in English, and loaded with statistics concerning changes in practice over time.

Here’s a research paper exploring the range of issues in how biological versus social paternity is handled across Europe.  It is useful as an introduction to the kinds of issues that are in play, and how different countries have dealt with them.

Some Wikimedia articles that highlight the way French law handles questions of maternity and paternity:

A more academic discussion of the question of genetic testing legislation in Europe is here.  The European Journal of Human Genetics discusses the legal situation in Western Europe here.

Wikimedia’s English-language summary of the history of posthumous marriage is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posthumous_marriage. Note there is a slight error, it is Article 171 that gives us the pertinent law.  The related topic of proxy-marriage is discussed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_marriage.

There’s a bit on the case law concerning posthumous marriage in Europe if you scroll down to paragragh 247 of Le Couple et la Convention Européenne des Droits de l’Homme .  Google translate struggles a bit on this one.  The French Code Civil (in French) is here.

On the topic of posthumous marriage, the only Church document, at all, which I could find was this: http://www.radiovaticana.va/Afr_bulletin/14_05_14.html.  The relevant part is here, boldface mine:

D. AUX CHEFS DE FAMILLE
24 – Chers chefs de famille, votre place n’est plus à démontrer, et votre responsabilité est capitale. L’impact de votre action peut être positif ou négatif, selon que vous agissez conformément ou non à la volonté de Dieu. Il vous donne de prendre soin des personnes qu’il vous confie. Votre mission est à la fois honorable et complexe. C’est sur vous que repose la cohésion de la famille, en matière de dot, de gestion d’héritage et de conflits, de traitement des veuves, des veufs et des orphelins. Dans cet ordre d’idées, à la lumière de la tradition et de l’Evangile, nous dénonçons la pratique illégale qui consiste à demander une dot trop élevée. Respectez ce que prévoit le code de la famille (art. 140). Nous condamnons la pratique du mariage posthume (versement de la dot lors du décès de la conjointe). Appliquez-vous avec courage, avec toute votre force, à accomplir dignement votre mission de chef de famille.

Nous vous assurons, de notre soutien, de notre proximité, de notre prière et de notre bénédiction.

The context is not (at all whatsoever) the French civil law on posthumous marriage.  Rather, the bishops are condemning the practice of asking too high of a dowry, and therefore also the practice of “posthumous marriage” as a vehicle for receiving the payment of the dowry when the bride has died.

By way of comparison on the topic of the French civil code’s practice of posthumous marriage, here’s the Code of Canon Law on the topic of “radical sanation,” which is something completely different.  It’s of interest because it shares the concept of “going back in time and fixing things” where marriage is concerned.  And that’s it — no other connection between the two.

 

File:Zingende boerenfamilie Rijksmuseum SK-A-376.jpeg "Singing Peasant Family"

I searched on “French Family” and the results came up Dutch.  Thanks Wikimedia!

When People Tell Your Kids that Porn is Just Fine

I have a daughter who adores rabbits, and therefore she knows what porn is. “No, dear, you can’t have that particular bunny sticker,” I had to explain several years ago, when she was searching Amazon for, well, bunny stickers.

Why not? She wanted to know, of course.

“Because that’s the logo for a company that sells pictures of naked ladies.”

No need to discuss sex, or what makes porn distinctive. She can intuitively know, by the simple fact that she shuts the door before changing clothes or going to the bathroom, that selling pictures of naked people is wrong-headed.

She has a righteous indignation about the purveying of pornography because a perfectly good rabbit has been co-opted into the works. At her age, I expect she feels as badly for the rabbit as for anyone.

***

The children’s grandmother has a stall in an antique mall. It’s one of these old brick factories that’s now home to a hundred or so vendors of everything that turns up at estate sales. If you want a case of Coca-Cola, unopened, from 1967, this is your place. I have to stay out of there because my sponsor at Vintage Books Anonymous threatened to stage an intervention.

The kids have been going to help their grandmother keep her stall clean and organized since as long as they’ve been old enough not to be a menace to porcelain. They dust knick-knacks and re-fold linens, and put out the latest crop of dishware, and they love doing it. The owner of the mall and the other vendors who work the counter know the kids, and the kids know them.

This week while working at the shop, my nine- and eleven-year-old daughters, always on the lookout for bunny figurines, came across a basket of Playboy that one of the other vendors had displayed on the front counter of his stall.

It’s not just an antique mall anymore, it’s a porn shop.

“Does the owner of the mall know about this?” my husband and I asked, when we heard about it late that night. The vendors stock their own stalls, there’s no central merchandise system.

“Yes. She told him he had to tape the covers shut.”

Ah. I see.

We’re knowingly putting out pornography for children to find as they hunt through the acre of treasure.

“It was right next to the big display of pocket knives,” one of my daughters said helpfully. Because you know, boys are interested in those sorts of things.

Things People Tell My Children About Pornography

But they’re vintage Playboys. I got that argument. It was related to me secondhand by my children, who’d been told that by someone at the shop; I heard it again directly from one of the vendors at the shop. As if dusty porn were somehow not porn.

I told the story to the kids of Msgr. Roth of blessed memory, who preached one Sunday about living out your faith all week long. He’d gone to visit a parish family, and they’d realized too late that their porn was sitting out on the coffee table. They apologized and put it away. Not in the trash—just out of sight. “Don’t put it away for the priest,” he said to the congregation. “You shouldn’t have that in your house at all. If it’s not okay for the priest to see, it’s not okay.”

I don’t know which family he had visited, but I know that I got a babysitting job for a family from church that year, and that was how I got my chance to see what’s inside the covers of Playboy. Apparently church people don’t hide it for the babysitter, either.

But they’re taped shut. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re selling pornography at your store. You’re telling the world that it’s fine to buy and sell this stuff. You’re making the decision to attract buyers of pornography to your business.

But that guy who runs the stall is just trying to make a living. That’s right. He’s decided he wants to profit off the exploitation of women and the uncontrolled lust of those who find pornography so compelling.

I didn’t use those last terms with the children. But I did explain to them, when the topic came up again, that the suicide rate among women involved in the porn industry is astronomical for a reason. They can appreciate why.

Don’t Keep Calm, Don’t Carry On

“I can tell you are very emotional about this,” I was told when I phoned in my complaint.

Yes, indeed. Discovering that people are knowingly putting out pornography for my children to find makes me emotional.

There are times when calm is not the answer.

What kind of sick person thinks we should feel calm about this?

As I told my children, who were well aware I was in rare form over this incident: Women are dead because of what this industry does to them. It is right to be upset about that.

The reality is that we Trumpers think the exploitation of women is AOK. It was fine for those church families way back in the ’80’s, so why wouldn’t it be fine now?

One of the children expressed, in a later discussion, some of the nonchalance they’d absorbed from the world around them. And thus I explained: To tolerate the buying and selling of pornography in your place of business is to say that you think it’s just fine for girls like mine to be exploited this way.

If it’s not okay for your sister to be treated that way, it’s not okay for anybody’s sister to be treated that way.

Parents: Would you be willing to paste your daughter’s face on that centerfold?

Doesn’t feel so wink-wink-giggle-giggle when you look at it that way.

Related: Marcel Lejeune has good handbook out now, written for those seeking to overcome their addiction to pornography. Cleanesd: A Catholic Guide to Freedom from Porn is right to the point, and includes a compact, readable introduction to the deeper issues of the faith behind the right appreciation of human sexuality. Highly recommended for anyone who’s concerned about this issue, whether it’s a personal problem or you just happen to care about your fellow humans.

Cleansed - A Catholic Guide To Freedom From Porn

Cover art courtesy of Pauline Media

7 Takes: Sinner’s Guide to NFP Giveaway Day

1.  If you didn’t come here from there already, go visit our hostess.  She’s got an especially entertaining set of takes up, including a bit of other interesting bookishness, Tom Clancy edition.

2.  Of course you want this book:

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Famiily Planning by Simcha Fisher

That is why you’re here today, right?  Excellent.

3.  I read this book.  This is how I know you want it. Or, if you answered #2 incorrectly, you would want it if only you were in your right mind this morning.

3.5: What if you already have a copy?!  And now it’s too late to win one!  You’re allowed to enter and win for a friend instead.  See?  Thanksgiving present.  Perfect.

3.75: As I told you last week, it’s AOK to enter this contest, win the book, and never come back to this blog again.  I so don’t care and am not keeping track.

4.  Here’s the scoop on the book, and why you need to reform your ways if you didn’t answer #2, 3, 3.5, or 3.75 correctly:

(A) You know how you hate NFP?  You use it and all, or you would, but it’s maybe not the rapturous experience that you always dreamt of, when you first read the words “cervical mucus”?  This book is about that.  NFP Frustration.

(B) The book doesn’t talk about cervical mucus.  It doesn’t have 10 Ways to Get a Better Temp Rise, Faster! Now! A Full 4/10ths of a Degree or Your Money Back!!

Most books are better if they don’t include that.  –> Except if you’re trying to learn NFP.  In which case the amusing way in which this contest is being run will help you with that.

(C) Every stupid thing about NFP ever. said. by some idiot who clearly has a Josephite marriage and prefers it that way (did Joseph?  I’m skeptical.), REFUTED!  Blammo!  In YOUR PLACE crazy people.  Done.

(D) Except charitably.

(E) Downright Theology of the Body, if you must know.  Only, it’s not, “I drank the TOTB water, and now I drool unicorns and rainbows.”  It’s more like: “Hey!  TOTB Water!  You can brew beer with that!”

(F) It’s a short book.

(G) There were points where I did not laugh out loud.  I laughed so hard sound would not come out of my body.  I would have rolled on the floor laughing, except that I was laughing too hard to fall out of my chair.  I’m sure it was weird looking.  There are certain chapters you might not want to read in public.

(H) We aren’t doing the whole alphabet.

(I) But I thought up another thing: This book is the perfect marriage book.  So if you know somebody who’s married, or who is thinking of getting married, this would be a great gift.  I’ve been married 47.5% of my life.  I know what it takes.  Simcha’s nailed it.  On the head.

(J) It’s pronounced “Sim-ka”.  Like the “ch” sound in “School”.  Because Simka’s so chool.

(K) Yeah, I was saying it wrong too.

(L) I didn’t ask how to pronounce “Fisher”.  We’re all just winging it on that one.

5.  How to Enter the Contest

[UPDATE: I made an easier entry method over at AmazingCatechists.com.  Go there for the simple name-and-a-comment version.  You can also make it your 4th entry, if you’ve done all three here.  Now back to how it works here . . .]

The giveaway takes place 100% 98% in my combox.  I just cleaned out my spambox, but you’ll be more likely not to end up permanently moderated if you don’t choose a name like, “Free Nike’s Cheap” or “Real Louis Vuitton.”  If your name is also the name of a famous piece of merchandise, or includes a grocer’s apostrophe, you might wish to use an alias for this one.

To enter the contest, leave a comment here in this post.  Not a different post.  This post.  Give yourself a username (it can be anything, but if you win, Simcha’s going to call you that name), and leave an e-mail address in the field that asks for it, which only I the moderator can see, a nobody else. If you like, go get yourself a free e-mail account solely for this contest, if that’s the way you roll.  You don’t need to fill out the “website” field, though if your entry is especially amusing, people might want to know about you.

You get up to three entries within your comment.

Entry #1: Say something nice to Simcha!  Examples of winning entries:

“Hi, Simcha!”

“Thanks for writing this book!”

“Your kids are cute!”

“I’m not stalking you, Simcha, I just want a free book, that’s all!”

Entry #2: There’s nothing in Simcha’s book about how to actually use NFP.  So tell us where you learned NFP, or give us a link to a useful website you like, or something else that will help the puzzled people who have no idea why 4/10ths of a degree is so, so, important.

#2: Alternative: If you have no clue about those 4/10ths, you can say that.  You could also say something like, “I don’t know why cervical mucus is such a big deal,” or “I wish I could be as cool as you NFP-using ladies, but instead I answered the call to holy orders, but I need this book for my couple that does marriage prep, and the finance council won’t give me $4.99.”  Or whatever.

Entry #3: NFP.  Discuss.

#3 Alternative: Tell us a good joke.  Something clean, or I’ll have to edit it.

6.  You don’t have to do all three entries.  But you increase your odds of winning if you do.

7.  The drawing will be done using accounting methods, not literary ones.  You don’t have to be clever to win, you just have to vaguely sort of follow instructions.

The contest closes at Midnight on Monday, November 4th.  By “Midnight”, what we mean is sometime after midnight in NYC, and probably no sooner than about 4 – 5 AM Tuesday, later if we’re lucky.  By “Tuesday”, what we mean is, “A day that comes after Monday, and it might even really be Tuesday.”

If you are the winner, I will announce your username from the combox on this blog so that everyone knows, sort of, who won.  I will also e-mail you using the address you gave me.  If it becomes apparent that you expired from the shock and pleasure of it all, we’ll pick a new winner.

–> Simcha will then send you your copy of the book in the digital format of your choice, from her collection of possible digital formats.  She’s really nice about helping technically-challenged people figure out how to open their book.  I tested her on this to make sure.

Enter now!

Sinner’s Guide cover art courtesy of Amazon.com.

3.5 Time Outs: Not Chicken

Thanks once again to our host, Larry D. at Acts of the Apostasy, who must have conspired to trick me into posting today.

Click and be amazed.

1.

The reason I’m posting is because in my ten minutes of goofing off, I found this link for you, via Allie’s dad:  This is the Allie Hathaway for whom you’ve been praying. See?  Totally worth it.

2.

Since the arrival of the chickens, I’ve been noticing how much better we understand the English language now that we have two hens in our yard.  So here’s the discovery today:  Our chickens, who are indeed chicken when it comes to many things, managed to scare away the cat.  Because apparently, in addition to being catty (which we knew – ouch), she’s also a fraidy-cat.  I guess that tells you how to rank your insults, when measuring cowardice.

3.

I already knew, before Sunday, that Brandon who writes at Siris is the smartest guy I read.  (I only read him some of the time — he exceeds me mightily more often than I like.)

But so, here’s the thing, and I’m not sure how bloggable this is, because I don’t want to embarrass too many philosophers in one day, or alienate real-life friends . . . I had a different philosopher tell me this, and I paraphrase:  “I noticed sometimes you link to Brandon’s blog.  He’s the smartest guy I know.  He teaches at this community college, and he doesn’t publish except on his blog . . . and he’s the smartest philosopher out there.”

Plus, he’s 238 in dog years.

3.5

Book department update: I’m editing like a crazy person trying to make my book deadline AND be happy with the final product.  Meanwhile, this morning at Mass the reading was about Peter walking on water, and not walking on water, and yeah, just what I needed.  Pleasantly surprised later this afternoon when good things happened exactly where I was afraid everything was going to fall through.

(Um — even though it didn’t matter? I have special nervousness powers. But you know, the thought of trying something and failing? It’s daunting.  It is.)

In defense of Peter: Neither chickens nor cats would’ve gotten out of the boat to begin with.

***

And with that, I’m back to regular life.  I’ll keep y’all in my prayers, and I’m trying to work through my blogging backlog in addition to doing all the other stuff I need to do, so look for me to pop in with this or that, time permitting.  Have a great week!

(And yes, you can post links.  I am, by the way, reading comments.  Oh, about once a week, but I am.  And trying to reply as well.)

3.5 Time Outs: Prayer Requests

Thanks once again to our host, Larry D. at Acts of the Apostasy, who has not kicked me off his minion-list despite my poor attendance.

Click and be amazed.

1.

Please keep Sandra L. of this combox in your prayers today.  She has a super-miserable tough day today, and it won’t be an easy week either.

2.

Please pray for the strength and consolation for a friend’s sister-in-law, who is very close to death, and for all her family.  They’ve moved up a planned wedding of one of the children to this weekend, in the hopes the mom will be able to attend before she dies.

3.

<Insert your intention here.>  I know there are plenty of other needs out there.

3.5

Still need prayers on the writing front.  Whatever God wants is AOK with me.  But knowing what that is and being sure it happens?  Pray!  Thank you.

 

***

And with that, I’m back to regular life.  I’ll keep y’all in my prayers, and I’m trying to work through my blogging backlog in addition to doing all the other stuff I need to do, so look for me to pop in with this or that, time permitting.  Have a great week!

(And yes, you can post links.  I am, by the way, reading comments.  Oh, about once a week, but I am.  And trying to reply as well.)

3.5 Time Outs: Real Things

Thanks once again to our host, the very patient Larry D. at Acts of the Apostasy.

Click and be amazed.

1.

Really Real:

I was going to continue my slacker non-blogging, but Potty Race pushed me over the edge.  I had no idea video games could be so . . . realistic. First time I’ve ever said that about something Barbie.

2.

Really useful:

Chickens eat fire ants and highway grass.  So basically, as long as they keep that up, the new arrivals have a home for life.

Dogs eat chicken feed.  Luckily, there’s plenty of highway grass and fire ants, so the chickens won’t starve.

3.

Really cool:

Grayson Highlands State Park is air-conditioned.  The entire mountain.   Truly wonderful — so pleasant I didn’t mind camping in the rain, because at least it wasn’t hot.   The ductwork must run underneath North Carolina, because I’m pretty sure the actual air-conditioning unit is located here in central SC, where it’s pumping a reliable jet of hot air, especially during peak hours.  It would be pretty easy to disguise a giant heat pump as an office building.  They look about the same.

3.5

Really interested in the will of God:

Please pray for a special intention, writing edition.  You’ll get the other half of this take as soon as I have good news to report.  Which there will be, the big question your prayers are directed towards are the who and the when.  Thanks!

***

And with that, I’m back to regular life.  Have a great week!

(And yes, you can post links.  I am, by the way, reading comments.  Oh, about once a week, but I am.  And trying to reply as well.)

3.5 Time Outs: Surprisingly Good

Thanks once again to our host, Larry D. at Acts of the Apostasy, always good, sometimes surprising.

Click and be amazed.

1.

My niece is here this week, so the topic ought to be Teenage Girls, but there’s not much to say.  Other than: They’re fun and interesting and get along great with younger cousins, and also they sleep late.  Which I don’t mind.

2.

But look, two good magazines:

One is the magazine of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, and this was a pleasant surprise – sort of a Catholic National Geographic with a bit of the best of The Economist mixed in.  The articles are substantial, and cover the history and contemporary issues in the regions CENWA serves.  Not a light read — one of the articles this month is a history of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, starting in the middle ages and detailing, regime by regime, the power plays and organizational shifts ever since.

PG warning: Though there are no graphic descriptions of the horrendous things that go on in these lands far away, difficult topics are named by name, no glossing over or glamorizing.

Highly recommended.*

Liguorian is the other end, intellectually, of Center-Catholic reading spectrum.  Like Reader’s Digest for Catholics, only without the edge.  Good all-purpose, inoffensive but unapologetically Catholic magazine, targeted towards your average man in the pew.  Encouraging and inspiring without being too in-your-face.   Gentle.  For your parishioners who aren’t quite ready for The Register or Catholic Answers.

3.

We brought home from the library the season one DVD’s of the HBO-BBC series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  I haven’t read the books.  But hey, what a cool show!  Yes it runs sappy, and yes, I think you ought to watch along with your kids and provide a little parental guidance on the moral issues.   But here’s what I love: Africa seen through the lense of the African middle class.  How refreshing to see AIDS, or the ivory trade, or child sacrifice and witchcraft, or polygamy, or marital infidelity — through the eyes of someone other than PBS, NPR, Bill Gates or George Bush.  And religion! Ha!  People who can be overtly Christian on TV!  Love it.

Moral note: The No. 1 Detective does not always resort to the police and the law for resolution to crimes uncovered.  The Anglo-Saxon concept of Weregild comes in handy.

3.5

Glow in the dark rocks. I’m not sure whether I’m succeeding as hostess to the 17-year-old.  I tried to explain that we don’t really do anything fun here, so it’s hard to think up activities.  But listen, no visit to the inferno is complete without a trip to the third floor of the

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Well that’s all for today.  Tuesday is Link Day for all topics, help yourself if you are so inclined.  Limit yourself to one link per comment in order to avoid the spam dragon.  Have a great week!

*FYI – CENWA itself is a bit of a disaster to deal with for the small-time donor.  Nothing egregious, just your normal incompetence in the administrative offices in New York; the flurry of solicitations, set aside and kept dry for use in the paper-stove, could keep a small house warm all winter.  But the magazine is great.

3.5 Time Outs: Thinking Catholic

Thanks once again to our host, Larry D. at Acts of the Apostasy, who won’t mind if I’m slow on registering with Mr. Linky due to my temporary change in vices while I’m out here in the desert.  Right Larry?  Maybe?

Click and be amazed.

1.

This afternoon at lunch Dad saw me coveting the editorial page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and quick shoved a library book in my hands before a fight broke out:

What the monks already told you. Explained.

I’ve read as far as Chapter 4, and Kahneman has explained several of his and his colleague’s discoveries about human thinking and behavior that are, reportedly, surprising.  I’d read a few of them elsewhere, so I wasn’t surprised when he introduced me to them.  What surprised me was this: It’s all straight from the playbook of any Catholic priest worth his salt.  Practical Tips for Advising the Penitent 101.

2.

Here are some samples.

Revolutionary Scientific Discovery: People can be primed to think and behave a certain way.  For example, seeing images or hearing words related to a particular theme (money, old age, happiness) causes people to embody habits and values related to that theme, without even realizing it.

What Your Priest Told You: Read your Bible, watch EWTN now and again, and throw away that trashy magazine.  We are influenced by what we see and do, so pick your influences wisely.

Revolutionary Scientific Discovery: Willpower takes effort.  It’s hard to resist temptation when you are exhausted from another task.

What Your Priest Told You: Take care of yourself, get a good night’s sleep, and don’t surround yourself with temptations.

Revolutionary Scientific Discovery: You can only concentrate on one task at a time.

What Your Priest Told You: Fill your time with wholesome activities so you aren’t so tempted by sinful ones.  If you feel tempted laying there in bed, get up and go do something else.

There’s more just in the first four chapters, but that’s a start.  Great book so far, I’m going to try to find a copy when I get home.  For those of you who don’t want to read 481 pages of summaries of scientific research, just go talk to your priest.  He already knows what it says.

3.

I have really enjoyed wandering around the World Series of Poker.

Yes, that surprised me too.

3.5

. . . paper towels.  They are our new controlled substance.  I have to keep them hidden away in our bedroom, thus harnessing the power of sloth to defeat the temptation to extravagance.  Otherwise we’d go through a roll a day, easy.  Even though we have a basket of perfectly good dish towels right on the counter.  Which each get used once before being tossed in the dirty laundry by certain people I live with . . . I’d lock them* in the bedroom, too, but I can’t tolerate that much sogginess.

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Well that’s all for today.  Tuesday is Link Day for all topics, help yourself if you are so inclined.  I’m still out of town so comment moderation is slow, but as long as you limit yourself to one link per comment you’ll escape the spam dragon and your brilliance will eventually see light of day.  Have a great week!

 

*The towels, not the children.  There is no way I’d store my children in my bedroom.  They’d use up all the paper towels.

3.5 Time Outs: Glocks.

Thanks once again to our host Larry D. at Acts of the Apostasy, who is nothing if not capable of punching a man-card.

Click and be amazed.

1.

Darwin reminded me I needed to write a Glock post.  No blog is complete until you’ve done that.  And look what I brought home from the library the other month, when I needed something completely different to get my mind off life for the weekend:

The boy took one look, and asked, “Why would Barrett write a book about Glocks??”  He recognized the name of the CEO of a competitor, because um, because he did.  Y chromosome on that child, confirmed.

I pointed him to the inside back cover.  “I think it’s a different Barrett.”  It is.

2.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book even more than I’d expected.  Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun tells the story of Glock Inc. from the time Mr. Glock decided to try his hand at designing the weapon, through it’s rise as a market leader in the US, and into the human resources nightmare that ensued when radical success met original sin.  Well told — Paul Barrett is a great story teller, and he explains the technical bits with the detail you need in order to understand the story, but without losing the non-technical audience.

As a business book, it is top-notch.  Great look at the talent and plain old good fortune that made the company so successful — including some surprising twists in the gun control movement that helped spur sales and raise margins.  Ideologically, Barrett is pretty firmly in the middle of the road on gun topics, and he keeps his politics out of all but a few annoying paragraphs of opinion* near the conclusion — you can just skim and move on.

Language caution:  Don’t let the Amazon preview fool you, Barrett’s sources get quoted saying all kinds of words not allowed around my house.  It isn’t overdone and I did not find it bothersome as an adult reader, but it’s not a g-rated book by a long shot.

As a morality tale, Glock is a brilliant study in human weakness, and the way that vice unchecked leads to perdition**.  Barrett is Mr. Neutral through all of this — neither disturbed nor impressed by Glock’s sales tactics, other than to observe that they worked and they were legal.  Turns out men are fairly predictable in certain realms.

–> For this reason, the book makes a great parent-teen book study . . . but only once your boy is already aware of the various perils men need negotiate.  I held off on letting Mr. Boy read the book just yet.

3.

Why is it that it only takes 2 seconds to accidentally upload a profile pic on Twitter that, taken out of context, will totally horrify 98% of the people who have often suspected as much . . . but it takes about an hour to get Twitter to accept some innocuous substitute hiding in the same file folder?  I suspect a plot to trap the careless.

3.5

Speaking of talented Catholic young men who like guns abridged anime – if you share the same interest, check out this guy: Mattroks 101’s You Tube channel.  And with that you know more than I do, for I am utterly out of my depth on all things anime, except maybe you are wondering how I ended up linking such a thing . . .

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PS: Link day.  Help yourself if you are so inclined.  Post as many as you want, but only one per comment or the spam dragon will eat you up and I’ll never even know.

*It is possible that if you read here, you secretly enjoy reading annoying opinions.  Good for you.   There’s three or four paragraphs you’ll just love.

**Not just eternal souls, though of course those are not to be neglected.  But also small things teens can appreciate, like your colleagues trying to kill you, stuff like that.