Liturgical Living

Went confession last night, and sneaked over to Mass this morning.  Happy happy.

Kids were off here, there, and everywhere, so SuperHusband sneaked me over to a very good (not expensive, just good) restaurant after confession, and I lasted 2/3rds of dinner before I was ready to go lay down or something.  The poor waitress was mortified, because, sure, the service was slow.  But it wasn’t that slow.

A little PSA . . .

Dear Jennifer,

Today at Mass, the lady in front of me just wouldn’t kneel.  She sat through the entire Mass! Leaning against the wall!  And she hardly said anything out loud, at all!  It’s like she was really tired or something.  There was a big open space in my pew, so I could have scooted over, I suppose, if I wanted to kneel. But it seemed like a much better idea to insist on kneeling right up against her — personal space is so, so, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, isn’t it?

Please tell me I did the right thing.

Sincerely,

Pious but Clueless

 

Dear Pious,

Personal space is not contrary to the Spirit of the Gospel.  Consider scooting over one space in the pew if the person in front of you is not kneeling for some inexplicable reason.

Jennifer.

Meanwhile, over at the blorg . . .

  1. More meat talk. Because even in America, you can do this abstinence from meat thing all year round.
  2. Giving up the Sunday Work Habit. Which is not as simple for Catholics as it is for everyone else, but still, it’s something you are supposed to do, if you can.
  3. Music for your Lenten listening pleasure.

So How’s it Going, Jen?

1. CatholicMom.com is temporarily under the weather, but when it comes back up (pray for Lisa Hendey’s sanity), my monthly homeschooling column should be there.  I talk about homeschooling-while-sick, but no handy tips, mostly just, “Yeah, my kids are awesome.”  I’ll link to the article when it recovers.

2. Prayer request for me: I’ve got two kids coughing and sneezing. Ordinary colds.  I’m keeping my distance.  I really, really, would be better off not catching this thing.  Recall: I’m already coughing just laughing or moving around too much.  Not in one of those dramatic, “time for the tear-jerking moment in the musical” ways, but still  . . . I’d just rather not go there. Whereever Me + Cold turns out to be.  Thanks.

(If I seem like I’m on social media a ton, instead of hovering over my children while they do their homework, it’s because yes, I’m trying to be in a different room than them. We’re in communication, yes we are.  School is happening, just more hands off than usual.)

3. Speaking of suffering, here’s a preview of my new blorg outpost:

The blog is still under construction, FYI.  Waiting on the header art, need to learn how disqus works, lots of little jobs. But I’m going ahead and getting a few posts up so that the living room isn’t empty when everyone comes over for the big housewarming party.

And yes, I discussed my assimilation situation with Larry D. and he said he’d pray for me.  (Um, seriously, I loved Larry’s Star Trek piece, which I can’t seem to find right now.  Larry & I are good friends online, and respectfully agree to disagree on the prudence of blorging.  Y’all: Larry’s got a special intention he needs prayed for, so regardless of your level of vexation regarding the blorg, say a prayer for him today?  Yes?  Thank you.)

I’ll announce again once the paint is dry and the curtains are hung.

4. What I do with my free time instead of watching infuriating television shows: I break into the spouse’s video editing software, and mostly don’t botch it that badly.  A few technical errors, but for my first attempt at making a movie without swearing or punching walls, I’m okay with it: Lord Have Mercy, There’s a Baby in my Church.

The artwork is from Wikimedia, and the soundtrack can be downloaded here, for free.  Pick the “Whitbourne Conf. Mass.”  Funny story: St. P’s did this twice, once on the weekend, and once for the Confirmation Mass, recorded with two different setups.  Jon asked me to pick which of the two I liked better.  I liked the sound on this recording better than the other, but I also really, really liked the babies.

St. Peter’s doesn’t usually put babies in their choir, but the bishop came, so they pulled out all the stops.

5.  People want to know how I’m doing. So, sometimes, do I.  What I know:

  • I feel perfectly normal as long as I’m sitting around.  I’m getting a lot of writing done.
  • Animated conversation kills me, but calm conversation is okay.  I thought I needed more boring friends.  I think I just need to not talk so loud, and listen more.
  • I cough when I laugh out loud.  This happens all the time, because of the people I live with.  I think it’s probably pretty safe.
  • I cough if I move around too much. I’m getting better at avoiding this.  I’m not sure if it’s from just breathing too deeply, or if it’s something more nefarious.
  • But a little bit of up and down, in moderation, isn’t a problem.  I’m getting better at figuring out what “in moderation” looks like, so I feel better and am less tired than a week ago.
  • Otherwise I’m totally normal. No problem with speed, balance, snarky comments, etc etc.
  • Actually I’m better than normal, since my other minor signs of decrepitude are all aggravated by walking around too much, and I’m nowhere near that level of activity.  Long term, of course, that’s a good way to die early.  But short term it’s pretty funny that being seriously ill = being not in pain, at all, unlike normal life in which a handful of minor aches are just everyday reality.

To do items for this week: Keeping aiming for that exact right combination of rest and activity, and avoid catching the girls’ colds.  Heart cath next week.

6. I’m not freaked out because, you know, catechist.  Forget the nonsense about facing serious illness with a “we can beat this!” attitude.  I mean sure, I’m all about that, and am doing my share to see it done. I strongly, strongly prefer being alive, thank you.  But sooner or later you’re going to drop dead.  Either you’re okay with that or you’re not.  Probably catechesis is not for you if the prospect of eternal life doesn’t take the edge off.

 

 

Speaking of vexation . . .

Jen Fulwiler nails it this morning:

Look in the mirror. If you don’t see a beautiful person who is worthy of love no matter what size clothes she wears, forget about weight loss for a while. Spend some time talking with friends who build you up, praying, or even getting therapy to help you embrace your status as a beloved child of God. It’s not time to start trying to lose weight until you’re secure in the knowledge that your worth has nothing to do with a number on a scale.

If you pass that test, read the rest of her Lazy Nerd’s Guide to Weight Loss.

***

I’ll be going in for another round of vexation this afternoon at 2.  Thanks for your prayers, and please keep the SuperHusband in your prayers especially.  He bears the brunt of the vexation.  Also please pray for a special intention on behalf of some lovely friends of ours — the intention isn’t fit for public consumption, but it is most certainly a worthy cause for five lovely souls.  Thanks!

Effort & Illness: The Confusing Habits of Sick People

Since I surround myself with people who know better, no one’s yet given me the dreaded words You don’t look sick. Even people who do look sick often don’t look as bad as they feel*.  As Jen Fulwiler explained it last year:

I feel self-conscious that I’ve been doing better, and have no visible symptoms of being ill. . . . I worry that the folks dropping off the food are starting to suspect this is some kind of scam. The other day a super sweet lady from the parish came by with a steaming gourmet dinner for our entire family, complete with appetizers and dessert. I had just gotten back from a doctor’s appointment so I was dressed up and wearing makeup; I’d been resting most of the day so I was unusually energetic. She seemed tired from having worked so hard to cook for our entire family in addition to her own, and I used my Neurotic ESP to determine that she was wondering why I wasn’t cooking for her.

I told Joe that I should get some crutches for when I answer the door for people delivering meals, as a symbolic gesture to assure them that their efforts were not wasted. He looked at me like I was insane, and pointed out the obvious fact that my problem is with my lungs and that I would have no use for crutches under any circumstances. I said that I know, but they sell them at the grocery store, and I didn’t know where to get my hands on a ventilator — and, again, it’s all for symbolism anyway. He backed away from me slowly and went to pour himself a large glass of wine.

Yes.  This. I put a short section in my catechist book on invisible disabilities, because it’s something that comes up in religious ed more often than you’d think.  Mostly among catechists, but among students as well.  That one chapter is the one I get the most thank you letters about.

You can be seriously ill without being 100% incapacitated.

It’s pretty rare for someone to be completely felled in a single blow.  This causes confusion, because you see people wandering WalMart who look like they’re going to collapse any second now.  So if your sick person still has good balance and coordination, and manages to answer the phone in a cheerful manner, you think, “Must not be that sick.  There are people at WalMart who look much, much worse.”

The people at WalMart might be worse.  But that doesn’t cause the sick person to be less sick.

Some people are good at putting on.

I knew a lady once who would answer the phone cheerfully even if you woke her up at 4AM.  It wasn’t that she wanted you to call then.  She just had excessively good phone manners.  And thus the Perceived Illness Paradox: Some people complain a lot, other people don’t.  Some people are good at masking their symptoms, other people aren’t.  Some people are good at coming up with clever work-arounds that keep them high-functioning, other people aren’t.  You really can’t judge how someone feels inside by how they’re acting outside.

Rest makes a difference.

Anyone who races knows you manage your training schedule so that you peak when it counts.  There are days when you can ride hard and fast, no problem, and days when you can’t.  Depends on how much sleep you got.  What you did the day before.  What you did the week before.

Illness doesn’t change that, it just changes the scale.

Figuring out an unpredictable body is exhausting.

Normal people spend most of their time operating well within the margins of their abilities.  If you knew you had to ride 100 miles on your bike sometime soon, you’d have to plan ahead to make sure you could do it.  You’d strategize how to make it happen with as little trouble as possible.  But you wouldn’t feel the least bit of guilt if you misjudged: “Wow, that was easier than I thought it would be, why did I make such a big deal out of it?”  Or conversely, “I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize how hard!”

Sick people have to figure out the 100-mile ride about everything they do . . . and then get in trouble if they misjudge.  “Why’d you spend half an hour answering e-mails? You should have rested up so you could talk to your mother on the phone!”  Or “Why’d you put off that phone call, look, you talked for twenty minutes, no problem!”

It’ll make you bonkers.  You hear the mail truck go by, and you think to yourself, “Should I walk to the mailbox?  Or get a kid to do it for me?  What’s the best thing here? How will this decision impact my family life?”

What you like is easier than what you don’t like.

Sick people are confusing because their gifts don’t go away.  Okay, if your gift is watching football on TV, everyone will think, “Look he spends all day watching football games, he must be sick.”  But what is hard for you is effortless for someone else. What is easy — even fun — for you is difficult for someone else.  It’s not about the sheer physical energy required.  It’s the mental energy.

So my son might say to my daughter, “I see you have plenty of time for scrapbooking.  Why don’t you research computer components?  What’s wrong with you?  Just lazy, I see.”  And she’d point out to him that he received a photo album for Christmas, and he’s supposed to put his photos in it.  He had time to build a computer, and even more time for playing computer games . . . why so lazy with the photo album?

Everything costs.

There’s service to your fellow man, and then there’s letting your fellow man turn you into his servant. We live in a hyper-critical age.  What you wear, what you eat, what your hobbies are, how you spend your money — all of it is subject to the approval of seven billion self-appointed guardians.  That doesn’t change when you’re sick, it just becomes harder to please the seven billion, because you’ve got less to please them with.

Normal people might say, for example, “Is it worth it for me to give up an hour of my time to visit my crotchety uncle who invited me for dinner tonight?”  When you’re sick the question becomes, “Is it worth it for me to set aside an entire afternoon to rest, and give up getting any chores done, at all, the entire day, so that I can physically pull off the feat of visiting my uncle for an hour?”

In normal life, a dysfunctional friend is the one who makes inordinate demands on your time and energy.  In sick life, everything is an inordinate demand.  But some of those demands are very gratifying, so you organize your life to make them possible. The chief sin of sick people, I suspect, is in gratifying too many whims.

Order in all things.

Sick people are confusing because of the scale change.  With so little room for covering-over, it becomes obvious what the sick person values most.  It becomes obvious where the conflicts lie, because there’s no margin where you can quick slip in a nod towards other people’s priorities.  As in academia, the rivalries can be so bitter because the stakes are so small.  “Just a few minutes of your time” is now also, “all your time”.  How are you going to spend all that time? The way you want?  The way I want? Something in between?

The Darwins have a novena started on just this question.

*Sometimes things look so bad that you assume the other way, “It’s not as bad as it looks, I hope?”  To which I’ll observe: A badly scraped knee looks horrible.  But it feels even worse.

Papal Economics + We Don’t Want Your Stinkin’ Snow Plow

Over at the the blorg bookshelf, I do a book club bleg.  I’m reading Papal Economics, which is a good book, but one that wants to be discussed.  So if that’s your scene, get a copy and chat with me.  Your place, my place, whatever suits.  Let me know what you like.

***

Meanwhile, speaking of economics:

1) Usually snow does not actually cause any more problems in the South than it does anywhere else. That thing going on in Atlanta is an aberration.  And really? Atlanta?  It’s Atlanta.  ‘Nuf said.

2) Ice causes problems.  There is an economic case to be made in favor of below-ground power lines.  But the call-before-you-dig people probably have the winning charts, so I bet our lines stay overhead for a long, long time.   And really, the ice mostly just makes things cold and unpleasant.  It can cause the same terrible problems it can cause anywhere. But most people don’t experience that.  So you’d have to have some serious cost-benefit studies before even taking on much in the way of anti-ice measures.

But, please, dear northern friends, do not form a 501(c)3 and start collecting funds for poor, snowplow-deprived southerners.

3) Because here’s the clincher: When we get “winter weather”? We want to stay home.

Not only is there no financial justification for, say, your county owning a snow plow when you have a perfectly good Sun that will be back again by Friday . . . who’d want one?  Why on earth would anyone want to go to work on the only snow day in a year? If you’re lucky enough to get snow that often. Way better to get out the ATV, hitch up a towline and an inner tube, tell the kids to hang on tight, and do donuts on the school playground.

Clarification: I don’t actually think parents should do this.  But I approve of the spirit of such recreation.  Only mean nasty evil people think innocent children should do school work during the Snow Minutes.  Sheesh, one shouldn’t even have to do housework doing the snow minutes.  You shouldn’t have to go to bed.  You should just admire, photograph, touch, shape, throw, sculpt, and roll in the stuff.

I do feel cheated, though, because NOAA’s revised their forecast, and it’s not supposed to hit 60 by the end of the week.  I was looking forward to short sleeves.  Meanwhile, yes, of course we have harvested our icicles and tucked them away safely in the freezer.  Waste not want not.

12 Days of Plague – Cats, Acts, Magic Books

Since last I wrote:

1. Yes, we’re having a lovely Christmas.  Some of the neighbors kept the lights up until 2014, but it appears we’re the only ones going in for the full 12 days.

2. On the 1st Day of Christmas, we upgraded from Plague Lite to Plague Medium.

3. Using the ever-reliable “ask at the office method”, we had a successful Cat Day of Christmas.  SuperHusband’s colleague seemed very, very eager to deliver her son’s gently-used cat to us.

4. So I had about 30 minutes from “Just calling to see if you guys wanted to meet the cat today” to “Here she is!”.  That, because said colleague lives on a farm outside of town.  I told the children that if they wanted a new cat, they had 30 minutes to clean the house.  I said, “It’s okay if it looks like we’re busy, but not if it looks like we’re slobs.”

They wanted a cat, so they did what was necessary to perpetuate that particular lie.

5.  She is mostly a petite, very friendly, tortoiseshell-colored cat who’s had her kitten shots, and is due for a follow-up with the vet now that she is all grown-up.

6. But she’s partly a walking 12th-day-of-Christmas present.  We’re taking bets on when the kittens are due.

7. Colleague swears she had no idea.

8. I know! I said the same thing.

In other news, not-about-a-cat edition:

9. I’ve been writing a ton, but all of it offline.  I’m hoping it will see light of day in a year or two.  More later.  Much later.

10. I’m getting wildly excited about the retreat coming up in February.  Discovered that certain hymns you’d swear would be easy-peasy to find online out-of-copyright just aren’t.  Luckily, there are other hymns.

I solved my previously-mentioned problem by using iBreviary’s web page to download the LOTH for the 22nd (Feast of the Chair of St. Peter – man is that cool or what?), but not before I had stumbled upon the magic green book. Read more about it here.

For the maximum of magic, you want the one for your archdiocese.

So, btw, do I.  I lost mine already.  It’s so small.

11.  You probably already saw what I came up with for New Evangelizers for December.  It’s here.  Short version: When you tell me, “It’s the thought that counts,” I certainly do agree with you.  But if there’s an action involved, the action counts, too.  Don’t be all goofy and go around thinking that what you do with your body doesn’t matter.  It matters.

12. I know.  Easier thought than done.

7 Takes: Shakespeare Makes Me Sick, Rant-o-Rama, and Other Beautiful Things

http://cdn.conversiondiary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/7_quick_takes_sm1.jpg

1. So. Shakespeare. 

I started the week all productive.  New quarter.  Got the checklists printed out, vowed, “This time I will stay on track!” all that.  Also, I had to pick Mr. Boy’s next literature choice.  I went through the Kolbe Jr. High Lit Course Plans, and Merchant of Venice kept popping out at me.  I was leary after the Great Poetry Fiasco of 2013, but I heeded the little voice.

And I got a brilliant idea: Since two big kids are always hanging around wanting to talk to use from 9-10, formerly known as “Kids Are In BED AND PARENTS HAVE ADULT TIME”, yes I am shouting by the end of that sentence, I figured out a way to either get the children to go to bed, or live out the homeschool fantasy of everyone sitting around reading Shakespeare together in the evening.  Win either way, right?

So Tuesday night I hand out copies (mismatched, but we rolled with it) of the play, we divied up the parts for Act 1, Scene 1, and it went pretty well.  Some of us were having so much fun, we went ahead and started scene 2.

At which point, Splash.

Yes.  My child vomited over Shakespeare.

Said child reported after, “My stomach felt weird, but I wasn’t sure . . .”. So hard to tell the difference between a stomach virus and Literature Dread.

[Everyone’s better now, thanks for asking.]

When we restart, I’m issuing a bucket with each manuscript.

2. I updated my e-mail software.  I hate it.  That is my excuse for why I can’t find your e-mail anymore.  I will grow and change and find your message and reply to it.  Soon.  But not before late afternoon today.

2.5. Visit our hostess for useful information about this:

photo 3 7 Quick Takes about haunted houses, affordable weekend wines, and #TWEETSONAPLANE
I borrowed this photo without asking. Because I never, ever, want to lose the link to this post. If Jen F. makes me take it down, I will. But you know why she’s a superstar blogger? Because: Affordable Wine. Doesn’t get much more Catholic than that.

 

3. Let’s talk about your vocabulary, hmmn?

Good Catholic friends, please tell me you know that you’re not supposed to take the Lord’s name in vain?  So I will charitably assume that if you gasp “Oh my God!” when talking about someone else’s clothing choice, or the water bill this month, or what happened in Congress, that you are in fact moved to prayer.  I think you should cut it out, because everyone *thinks* you’re just taking the Lord’s name in vain, and maybe you even are.  But I’m not going to presume.

What with being Catholics, we tend to cling tightly to our right to use “strong language”.  All those things St. Paul has to say about our word choice are trumped by our Lord’s choice insults, yes?  So we say.  I’ll not take up that fight today.

But if you’re going to resort to coarse, over-used cliches of insults for lack of a broader vocabulary — perhaps your imagination is foiled in the face of tribulation — would you please kindly restrict yourself to accurate metaphors?

For example, some people accuse the Church of thinking sex is dirty or shameful or I don’t know what.  It’s nonsense of course — quite the opposite: If we are very particular about chastity, it’s because sex is so powerfully good, holy even, and should not be profaned in any way.  We only have seven sacraments, and one of them has to do with sex.  Yep.

So, please oh please oh please, speak as if you’ve been catechized.  Do not sling around crude terms for the marital act as your insult of choice — let alone as your darkest and strongest insult.  Do you really think that intercourse is some foul, nasty, evil thing? When you search for some vivid way to describe a sordid injustice, is the first thing that comes to mind your experience with the marital act?

I certainly hope not.  Clean it up.

4.  Come see me talk.  St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Columbia, SC, Saturday Nov. 9th, daytime.  I’m just doing a panel in the afternoon, on the “Classroom Management” topic. In the morning I’ll be listening.  I kinda wish I could listen in the afternoon, too, the other panelists look pretty interesting – I can’t find an internet link, but the overall topic is stuff like bullying, working with special needs students — useful.  Contact the Diocese of Charleston Catechesis Folks to get more info or to RSVP.  There’s a nominal cost that covers lunch -n- stuff.  Gorgeous site, too, do visit the church and cemetery if you come.

5. Speaking of sex . . . I’m hosting a blog tour and giveaway for Simcha’s new book on NFP.  Where should I do it?  Here? Amazing Catechists? Patheos?  I need to pick a spot.

6. Speaking not of sex . . . My friend Karina Fabian has a new book out I haven’t read it, but I keep meaning to blurb it.  If you like clean adult sci-fi, Catholic-themed usually, fun and a quick read, take a look. I’ve never not enjoyed reading one of her books, though I don’t do the zombie thing — I had to crop her cover for my presentation on finding a publisher this past summer at CWG, because, gross.  Firmly planted in my Hardy Boys Not Thomas Hardy preferred category.

Picture

7. Aren’t these beautiful?  I can’t decide whether they’re in budget or not.  I do need a holy water font for the house.  I’m nervous about the glass.  But wow. Pretty.

Things I’d Rather Not Think About

1. My CatholicMom.com article for March is up.  It’s on homeschooling when you struggle with self-discipline. It’s one of those topics where I wish I could be showing off my tremendous compassion for those poor people who just can’t seem to get it together.

I drew the line at posting a snapshot of my kitchen for the photo.  Instead, you get a picture of men hitting each other with sticks.  Same concept, seemlier illustration.

2. Have I mentioned how much it irritates me to have to follow the entirety of the Catholic faith, and not just bits and pieces? I assume others hate it just as much as I do, because so far no one has commented on my post this month at New Evangelizers. In which I take up the topic of whether Cardinal Mahoney ought to attend the conclave, and how that question fits in to a wider question of mercy and evangelization*.  And good administration.  You knew that was going to be fit in somehow.

3. I set the kitchen timer to tell me when to pull SuperHusband’s dress shirt out of the dryer. (Yes.  Dryer.  I know.)  It worked.  I just went and pulled it out and hung it up right away.  I can be very diligent about laundry, IF I’m supposed to be doing the taxes.

4. Taxes, episode 2.  That’s today.  Backside of the 1040, and yeah, it’s the Schedule A I don’t feel like dealing with.  Tired of being responsible.  I get tired of that very quickly.  But I’ll do it, of course. There’s nothing like, “We will seize your house if you don’t mail in this worksheet” to really motivate a lady.  UPDATE: DONE. WOOHOO!

5.  About that NE post.  Whenever I think “conclave”, the plot for a murder mystery pops into my head.  It’s a good thing other people volunteered to answer questions at Dorian Speed’s ElectingthePope.net.

6.  Please pray for the repose of the soul of Mr. W, our elderly farming neighbor who passed away peacefully in his sleep.  Funeral was packed, SuperHusband tells me, not a surprise.  Then pray for this family, who would be very grateful for any number of miracles.

7.  You can discourage the Friday meat demon by quick throwing all your meaty leftovers into the freezer Thursday night.  (Or give to dog if close to spoiling, but not quite inedible yet.)  Pull them out and return to fridge Saturday, when the coast is clear.

And something I’m happy think about:

Señora M., my catechist friend from down the road, reports a big milestone: She led her first English-language religious ed class the other night.  We first met in the Our Lady of Guadalupe room at the big Advent event in December, and since then she’s been helping out as a classroom assistant at her parish.  She phoned me this morning, and I made it through the greetings in Spanish, and then I had to plead, “No entiendo.” She gave me the big news in English.  But she isn’t giving up on me that easy, she’s determined to get my Spanish into working order.  I’m honored.

*Some people equate “mercy” with “giving them a pass.”  Those who have been privy to my ire know that the moment you start bungling on sexual abuse prevention and prosecution, is the moment I become a lady you do not like.  Do not confuse mercy with tolerance.  It’s not about overlooking the trivial flubs.  It’s not about saying, “Really it wasn’t so bad.”  Mercy only has meaning there where we want to give it least.

Seven Takes: Life, Death, Warped Things Governments Do

No, I’m not back to regular blogging.  But I had approximately seven things to say, and it’s a Friday, so that makes this Seven Quick Takes, right?

1.  Why yes, that was us you saw at the National Vocations Meet-Up March for Life.

Low point:  Children in tears due to experience of being a southern-person whose mother does not know how to dress them for cold weather.

High point: Making a brief retreat into the National Gallery to go potty, rest, and warm-up, then re-emerging to a gentle made-for-TV snow flurry, taking up our signs, and falling into line with these guys.  Who sing beautifully.

Weird Point: The Metronome, as my 3rd-grader calls it, is determined not to take my money.  I kept trying to pay full fare, but the machines refused me at every turn. Fortunately the kind metro-ladies are apparently used to clueless tourists with five children in tow, and sorted me out with a combination of generosity and exasperation that I think must be the hallmark of the metro system.

2. Petersburg National Battlefield is a good place to run the kids and get your history fix all at once.  The ranger does come around checking to see if you’ve paid.

–> Touring tip:  Always ask if you’re supposed to pay.  Because they expect you to pay, even if they never ever tell you that.  And the ranger lady has a gun.  Luckily I had asked.

Discussion Question: Any Particular Reason the Union had to engage in war?  Why not just let the Confederacy secede, and work on patching things up diplomatically?  Put another way:  Did the US Civil War meet just war criteria for the Union?

My boy says yes.  I’m playing neutral professor-person.

In other US history topics: The essay “Smuggler Nation” in this month’s Harpers is really quite good. One more shovel of fodder for that pirates-vs.-privateers topic that’s always coming up around this household.

Our other airline-miles magazine subscription, Western Horseman ran a great piece a month or so ago on the troubles ranchers along the US-Mexican border are having with Mexican smugglers, and the lack of cooperation from some of the US border patrol in keeping their lands safe.  I can’t seem to find an article link.  But let me just say right now, that if you purchase approximately one plane ticket every five years, and want a family-friendly periodical to purchase with your miles before they expire, WH is the one.

3.  My son objects to the strong language in Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Views the Body.  It pleases me greatly to discover I’ve reared a middle-schooler who complains about words like “damn” and “hell” improperly used.

4.  My January New Evangelizers column was 10 Ways to Support Evangelization Even When Your Parish is Falling Apart.

I picked this photo.

Apparently it grabbed someone’s attention, because the Catholic Vitamins people invited me to do an interview for their podcast.  Which is exciting, in an I-hope-my-phone-battery-doesn’t-die-while-we’re-talking kind of way.  I think I can bribe my kids into being quiet with the promise of Krispy Kreme donuts.  Also, presumably this is just one step on the long road towards true fame? By which I mean, of course, being on Rhett & Link’s Good Mythical Morning? My son doesn’t think I’ll ever be quite that good, but he puts on an encouraging face all the same.

5.  Helen Alvare nails it on the head in her analysis of the new HSS regulations.

Let me observe once again that there would be no moral objection at all if the government merely required employers to pay workers a sum sufficient to pay for the desired contraceptive services — for example, by putting the necessary funds into a healthcare savings account that employees could then use to purchase supplemental insurance if they so chose.

And how exactly is it “freedom of religion” if insurance companies and self-insurance administrators must sell (or give away, per the new iteration of regulations) products they may themselves object to?  Is there no legal right to sell insurance for some but not all health care services?  Will insurers eventually be required to pay for euthanasia as well?  Apparently there is a religious test required in order to enter the insurance industry.

6.  Speakin’ of that constitution thing . . . my boy observes that 2/3rds of gun deaths are suicides.  (Wikipedia’s citing 60%.) Which puts a certain corner of the culture in the odd position of wanting to outlaw something they’re trying to legalize.  Apparently depressed and disabled people should die, but only at the hands of licensed death-care providers?

If you aren’t from Gunlandia, you probably should not visit gunmemes.com. It takes a special red-state redness to enjoy.

7.  You know you live in a warped culture when you feel the need to clarify something like this: “For the record, I’m 100% opposed to all forms of murder and suicide.”

Ooh, oooh, want me to exasperate everybody in one single catechism quote? How about this one?  Enough to make everyone you know get all squirmy-wormy:

2269 The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person’s death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger.

The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them.70

Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone’s death, even without the intention to do so.

Happy February.

4 Takes, 2.5 Time-Outs . . .

Most weeks, I really like the Tuesday / Friday method of staying on track.  It helps me remember to post stuff.  This is not that week.  I say that during the Wed-Thurs interregnum, Jen F. and Larry D. can split the difference.  In castle news this week:

1.  Child Vomits At Church.

Thank you Mrs. S. for cleaning the front pew while one parent whisked sick child home and the other disinfected the sacristy bathroom.  Thank you, Lord, that:

  1. The other two altar servers had already left the pew to go do whatever it is they do during the offering.
  2. Mrs. S, veteran mom, had chosen to sit next to Mt. Splashmore.
  3. Mr. O., who himself had blessed the altar-area in the same manner during his days as an altar boy, was sitting behind us and volunteered to watch two little girls while parents did more pressing parent jobs.
  4. No one else has gotten sick.

Nice usher guy was helpful, too.  He showed us the plastic toolbox in the usher’s closet labeled “Vomit Kit” — apparently this is all part of the life of an usher.  Though by that time I’d already snagged disinfectant and paper towels from the kitchen, and begged extra trash bags from the nursery.  Mothers don’t think the way ushers think.

2. Sandra’s Married!

And she told me I should wedding-blog. Which I will.  A different day.   Teaser:

  • Lovely, lovely ceremony.
  • Historic location + period dress = coolest combo ever.
  • Halloween-themed reception . . . oh I know you crabby apples are raising an eyebrow at that, ’cause I did too.  But it was just perfect for the couple, and not at all like you think.

More later.

3. Exciting writing news, almost ready to be announced.  If I seem like I’ve wandered off the edge of the earth, um, yes, I have.

3.5.  McKissick Museum.  For all your glow-in-the-dark geology needs.

4.  Check out the Catholic Writers’ Guild blog this coming Sunday, Christian LeBlanc has a cool post scheduled.  And Julie Davis writes on Saturday, I think, and she’s no slouch either.  It’s a good CWG weekend.

5.  Latin.  I think we’ve found a solution.  I’ll let you know in two months.

6.  And with that, I’m going to sneak back into hiding, and leave the internet to you.  If I’m lucky I might get a backlog of assorted posts run, but I’m not placing any bets. Have a great weekend.