Faith, Science, Halloween – assorted links and book recommendations

Faith, Science, and Reason: Theology on the Cutting Edge

(1) Link for those who haven’t seen it: Up at the blorg, my thoughts on the belief in invisible things, and a book recommendation for who those who believe in invisible things both animate and inanimate.

(2) Julie D. reminds you that Nov. 1 is a Holy Day of Obligation.

(3) I demonstrated my incompetent streak yesterday by attempting to open my review copy of SImcha Fisher’s new book, but luckily the author herself came to my help when I pleaded.  She regrets associating with me, I’m sure.

But hey! I read the book!  It’s very good, and fills a niche about the size of a deep sea trench in the literature on NFP.  Also, I laughed at select passages — not out loud, but that silent, tears-rolling-down-cheeks thing that you do when something is too funny for laughing out loud.  (There were other parts that exhort the reader to maturity and selfless love and all that.  I was duly solemn during those parts.)

Giveaway opens Friday, and I will sit on my hands and not quote any punch lines.  Therese-like self-control here.

 

Cover art courtesy of MTF.  LOVE these guys.  Love ’em.

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.

Verse and Censure for the Feast Day + Chris Tollefsen at Public Discourse

Since we’ve been speaking of wealth ’round here lately . . . a limerick for today’s feast:

When faced with a room full of clutter,

I’ve been known to piously utter,

“Help me to know,

what should stay, what should go?

Oh blessed Teresa of Calcutta!”

 

In other news: Chris Tollefsen writes brilliantly at Public Discourse today.  I’m a shameless Chris T. fan, so no surprise that I like the message.  But I don’t get to say it as often as I’d like: This is far and away his best piece ever.  That I’ve seen, anyhow.  Go take a look.

In places NOT to look: Front Porch Republic, which I subscribe to but very rarely read, because publishing just a snippet for the feed reader is a very effective way to discourage me from reading your work, recently ran a piece about liturgy and limericks.  The idea was spot on, unfortunately the chosen limericks were dreadfully lewd.  Really? Was that necessary?  No it was not.

To which end, perhaps not the most incisive wit, but making the same point as the FPR piece:

The rabbit who traveled by plane

said, “Security can be such a pain.

They opened my baggage,

and out fell my cabbage,

and I had to re-pack it again.”

The point FPR was making?  A good genre, delightful in its context, is not necessarily the right genre for the holy liturgy.   And another example, same rabbit theme, we have quite the collection growing*:

To my door came a poor little bunny,

who needed to earn some money,

“I’ll cut your grass for a dime,

one bite at a time–“

But in the end, the lawn looked quite funny.

See?  Perfectly moral, g-rated limericks.  It can be done. And the argument FPR wants to make is stronger when you acknowledge the genre isn’t used soley for smut. Show tunes are wrong at Mass not because Hollywood’s a den of sin, or because the cabaret / jazz / pop sound is always and everywhere associated with immorality.  It’s because these types of music are about something else — something that can be beautiful and true and good and inspiring — but it’s something other than the worship of God.

And thus a final contribution for today:

On the feast of Teresa of Calcutta,

this pundit is likely to mutter,

“You’re housed and you’re fed,

but your brain is half dead,

’till you rescue your wit from the gutter.”

Happy Feast Day.  Straighten up and fly right, FPR.

*The limerick fest began because, to my genuine shock and surprise, no irony there, my teenage boy does not love his poetry course for literature.  I was stunned.  A teenager? Not like poetry?  Really?  It’s all about love, death and self-centered dramatizing . . . that should be just the thing!  Certainly was for me at that age.  SuperHusband wisely suggested we begin with something a little lighter.  And thus I succeeded, not in converting my skeptical teen, but in launching a festival of animal-themed verse among the the two youngest.

I’ll take my victories where I can.

Meanwhile, any poetry recommendations for less-romantic, very modern boys, who mostly read Dr. Boli?

Rabbit Photo: Larry D. Moore [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

NFP Misery Awareness Week

Check it out . . . even the Pope has doubts about those glowing reports of NFP Joy:

“Surely in no way do we wish here to be silent about the difficulties, sometimes serious, which the life of Christian husbands and wives encounters. For the, as for each of us, ‘the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life.’…..Therefore let married couples freely take upon themselves the hardships destined for them, strengthened with faith and that hope which ‘does not disappoint: because the love of God has been poured forth in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’ With persistent prayer let them beg for Divine help. And especially let them draw grace and charity from the unfailing font of the Eucharist. If, however, they are still held back by sins, let them not be discouraged, but as humble and resolute people take refuge in the mercy of God, which the sacrament of Penance dispenses abundantly.

Pope Paul VI,On Human Life (Humanae Vitae)

Stolen from my Family Honor course work, where I’m getting piles of good pope-quotes.  Of course now my instructors, if they are goofing off here, know exactly how far behind I am on my homework.  But I’m catching up! I am!

For those who want awareness of my thoughts on NFP, here’s “Should NFP be Easy” over at my friend Sarah Reinhard’s place, and here’s another post on NFP vs. Contraception, which look, Bearing says you should read (and she adds helpful comments that cause it to make more sense).

Now back to homework catch-up time.

Speaking of Curiosity: DC Area Anti-HHS Demonstration August 1

Curiosity‘s coming.  Meanwhile, passing a quick note from Helen Alvare, in case any of y’all will be in the DC area on August 1:
logo_R1 Women Speak
Hello Jennifer:It’s time to make some intelligent noise here in DC, across the street from the White House.

Women Speak for Themselves has obtained a permit to occupy the famous Lafayette Park, August 1 (yes, in three weeks…), in order to speak out against the HHS Mandate imposing contraception and early abortion insurance upon religious institutions and individuals.

I know the deadline for the mandate has been extended to January 1, 2014. But it’s Summertime, and many of us have the flexibility to spend a day (the former deadline day) here in DC at a brief (one hour) rally, from 11:30-12:30 pm.

We will do several things:

1. Carry signs and hear a series of brief (2 minute) speeches against the Mandate. I assume these will have two themes, corresponding to the different women we have in our group: a) that women care for religious freedom…its loss will have real consequences for us! And b) that many women are uncomfortable or worse with government pushing the simplistic and often harmful agenda that contraception is the pinnacle of women’s freedom and equality.

2. TELL THE PRESS IN ADVANCE TO COME SEE THAT MANY WOMEN CONTEST THE CLAIM OF SOME WOMEN (Rep. Pelosi, Secretary Sebelius) TO SPEAK FOR ALL WOMEN.

3. Speak to any members of the public/DC tourists who walk by and give them our letter.

4. Walk a contingent over to HHS and/or V.P. Biden’s (America’s most highly placed Catholic!!) office (I’m trying to secure appointments with both offices), and deliver our nearly 41,000 signatures.

So usually I am asking you to do LOCAL stuff.  This time, I want you to come to D.C. if you can.

I only need about 150-200 women, because that’s what I told the Park Service.

But I REALLY need you!

I also need:

1. Hand-made signs (We will have some printed in advance,…but we need more). Nothing on sticks; it’s forbidden.  I will send suggested messages if you want to use them,  later in July.

2. I NEED A NURSE WHO CAN DO FIRST AID AT THE RALLY (Park Service requires)3. I need about 15 women to give two-minute testimonies re either topic pertaining to the mandate. Email me if you would like to. I would need to see them in advance please!

4. A volunteer to video so we can put on our website.

5.  Women ready to chat with any reporters in advance or during.

6.  Five women who will “marshall,” i.e. help keep crowd orderly and know what to do in case of quick evacuation.

I’m trying to keep this “simple” but effective, intelligent, FEMALE and press-worthy.
Will you help?

In hope,
Helen

http://womenspeakforthemselves.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WomenSpeakForThemselves
https://twitter.com/womenspeak2012

RSVP to one of the links above if you can make it.  (I can’t.  But don’t let that stop you.)

Sex Ed – Who Should Teach Your Kids?

Sex Ed: Parents, It’s Your Job and You Can Do It

Up at CatholicMom.com, my exhortation to parents on taking a little responsibility as primary educators.  Because yes, these topics are just rolling off my brain these days.  As you can imagine, the word counts on the papers are killing me.  500 words?  Since when do I say *anything* in 500 words or less?  Inconceivable.

How I Fell Off The Internet

Mid-May update:

Latin Happiness.  At CatholicMom.com: In which I explain how I went over to the dark side and paid for flashcards, AND monkey-themed Latin-Lite videos. Also found some other digital person to teach grown-up Latin to the boy and I, and no surprise, all are happier for it.

Shiny happy feeling inside this author: The reprint is at Catholic Lane.  (Yay!)

A well-licked baby rat is a happy baby rat.  SuperHusband & I have been taking Family Honor’s summer course on Catholic Sex-Ed.  (It’s not called that.  “Cultural Implications” or something like that.)  Astute observers would have predicted: I’m really enjoying the class, whenever I set aside my natural dread of deadlines and obligations, and sit down to do the work.

Double-enjoying it once I realized I didn’t have to sit still and listen to the lectures, because hey, long stretchy headphone cords . . . I can workout while I listen.  Score one for online courses.

Right now I’m reading this, of which you can download the executive summary at no charge:

Hardwired to Connect

Encouragement for those of us who sometimes doubt whether all this parenting effort is going to have any effect in the long run.

Forming Intentional Questions. The other reason I’m hiding from the internet is to churn out a set of discussion questions for Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples.  Because I’m going to be part of a book club.  And so are you. Bwahahaha . . . more news soon.   Questions are written, and now need to be purged of typos.

Have a great week.

BADD 2013 + Theology of the Body for Every Body

Theology of the Body for Every BodyIt’s BADD time again, May 1.  Of course I forgot, again, even though I knew it was coming up.  But look, over at New Evangelizers, I reviewed Theology of the Body for Everybody. Which hits on exactly this topic. The whole living-in-a-body experience we human persons get to enjoy.  Go look.

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Blogging Against Disablism Day And now you’re back, and here is my annual BADD comment, 2013 Edition:

People don’t want to be treated like dirt.

Profound, I know.  (Hence Leah Perrault’s whole book on the topic.  See “book review” above.)

When you read around at crotchety disability-rights sites, there’s a lot of conversation about how to think about disability.  Something that confuses bystanders is the insistence that it’s not about the medical condition.

Which puzzles, for several reasons.  The first is the happy-sad problem.  Given the choice between hearing and not-hearing, seeing and not-seeing, walking and not-walking, everything else equal, we go for the ability every time.

Now someone might say, “I’m so glad I had this stroke, because it caused me to learn so much about __{insert profound revelation here}__.”  And what they mean is typically not, “I always wanted to know what it was like to slur my speech!”

Rather, the “I’m so glad” is usually code for, “I discovered there was this whole part of my life I’d been ignoring, and now I’ve grown in ways that matter far more than any physical ability, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”  People say that, and they mean it.  For good reason.  But still, if they could have the spiritual growth and the ability to remember words on command, yeah, they’d take both.  Nothing wrong with being able to talk.  We know this, instinctively.

But here’s the other thing we know instinctively: Humans deserve to be treated with respect.  And the disrespect of disablism falls into two big lumps:

1. Can’t be bothered to have you around.  Too much work.  So terribly haaaaaarrrd to put in a ramp.  So coooooomplicated trying to have one Mass, anywhere in the diocese, ever, with an ASL interpreter.  So very, very overwhelming, having to change the seating arrangement, or modify the assignment, or find one more volunteer to assist the kid who needs assistance.

The message is pretty clear: It’s not that we don’t love you.  We just don’t love you enough to go through any inconvenience for you.

2. Your kind of suffering is not my kind of suffering. This is straight out of the eugenics playbook.  It’s no surprise that the recent fashion for killing off disabled children before they see light of day is always couched in terms of “avoiding suffering”.  Better to be dead than to be you.

The feeling may well be mutual, but that’s no solution.  The solution is to quit being such a wimp.  To quit dividing the Fates of Man into a two-part list, labeled Normal Problems and Pitiful Freaks.  This isn’t 1930.  Get over that nasty notion that you must be ranked among The Fit in order to deserve life and respect.

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And since BADD is the annual day for airing our pet peeves, I’ll share one with you: If you never really appreciated your kid-job-marriage-finger-toe-brain until it was gone . . . could you keep it to yourself? Or just let everyone know you have a gratitude-deficiency-disorder. I guess I could cultivate some compassion for that.

See all the BADD entries, which are by no means Catholic nor genteel, here.

On Modesty and Evangelization: 5 Lies We Tell Our Daughters

Portrait Photography at the Fitz Studio

My monthly column at New Evangelizers is up this morning.  FTR: I’m absolutely no good at telling whether my daughters’ pants are too tight, and their skirts too short.  So if you read my column, and you get this vision of me as one of those people whose daughters are always dressed with perfect modesty, and then you meet my kids and you think, Wow, that’s an amazingly sleazy outfit that child is wearing . . . It’s okay to voice your vote.  Because yep. To quote myself:

” . . . we ladies don’t instinctively understand modesty — we’re no more aroused at the sight of a bare shoulder than at the sight of a naked Golden Retriever.”

Read the whole thing here.