Tuesday, August 29, 2006
1. Do you do dishes by hand or do you use a dishwasher?
Dishwasher unless they can't handle it.
2. How many people have your cell phone number?
About a dozen, not a whole lot.
3. Do you shower in the morning or at night?
At night. There is no way to do it in the morning with an infant and I like getting into bed clean.
4. Do you ever have a song 'stuck' in your head?
Sometimes. I've even woken up from Cecilia at 3am with a song stuck in my head. (I hated a Pizza Hut commercial for a while because of that!)
5. Do you pay your bills when they arrive, or do you wait until closer to the due date to pay them?
I don't do the bills, James does.
6. Are you obsessive about anything in particular?
I'm obsessive about turn signals and using proper English.
7. What one thing would you say you have a zero tolerance for?
Persistent and continuous Stupidity!
If You Could Meet Five People...
"If you could meet and have a deep conversation with any five people on earth, living or dead, from any time period, who would they be?" (Explaining why is optional).
Name five people from each of the following categories:
1. St. Michael the Archangel
2. St. Catherine of Siena
3. St. Mary
4. St. Joseph
5. St. Bernadette
Five in the Process of Being Canonized:
1. Pope John Paul II
2. Bishop Fulton Sheen
3. Ven. Pope Pius XII
4. I can't think
5. of any more.
Five Heroes from Your Native Country:
1. Harriet Tubman
2. Abraham Lincoln
3. John and Abigail Adams
4. Thomas Jefferson
5. John Muir
1. C.S. Lewis
2. J.R.R. Tolkien
3. Jane Austen
4. William Shakespeare
5. A. A. Milne
1. Celine Dion
2. Billy Joel
3. Sandra Bullock
4. Michael Crawford
5. Mel Gibson
Monday, August 28, 2006
Many people are stunned and offended that NBC would be so insensitive to air such a clip on such a day.
Personally I hardly find it surprising. After all, why should it be surprising? When it comes to television, hollywood and the media in general, God is not sacred, religion or Churches are not sacred, human body parts are not respected, unborn children are disregarded, marriage is degraded, ad nauseum. If the fundamentals of life such as marriage, children, faith and sexuality are not respected and regarded with some dignity, why should anyone expect the industry to suddenly regard the deaths of people in a tragic accident with any respect or integrity? Anyone who thinks that this industry such as it has been would find anything beyond the almight $$$ sacred has not been paying attention.
My sincere condolences to all those who lost loved ones in the Kentucky plane crash. God be with you.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
The Price of Children
The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition.
But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:
* $8,896.66 a year,
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171.08 a week.
* That's a mere $24.24 a day!
* Just over a dollar an hour.
Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be "rich." Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for your $160,140?
* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate.
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.
For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to:
* carve pumpkins,
* play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.
You have an excuse to:
* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
* watching Saturday morning cartoons,
* going to Disney movies, and
* wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.
For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:
* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,
* taking the training wheels off a bike,
* removing a splinter,
* filling a wading pool,
* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.
You get a front row seat to history to witness the:
* first step,
* first word,
* first bra,
* first date, and
* first time behind the wheel.
You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.
In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, So one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal!!!!!!!
Love & enjoy your children & grandchildren. It's priceless!!!!!!!
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Q Thank you very much. Mr. President, some pro-life groups are worried that your choice of FDA Commissioner will approve over the counter sales of Plan B, a pill that, they say, essentially can cause early-term abortions. Do you stand by this choice, and how do you feel about Plan B in general?Plan B?
"Plan B is emergency contraception, a backup method to birth control. It is in the form of two levonorgestrel pills (0.75 mg in each pill) that are taken by mouth after unprotected sex. Levonorgestrel is a synthetic hormone used in birth control pills for over 35 years. Plan B can reduce a woman’s risk of pregnancy when taken as directed if she has had unprotected sex. Plan B contains only progestin, levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone used in birth control pills for over 35 years. It is currently available only by prescription."
So basically it is a contraceptive device. Except.....
"Plan B works like other birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation). If a fertilized egg is implanted prior to taking Plan B, Plan B will not work."[emphasis mine]
So it isn't quite so simple after all.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Yesterday she came by asking for $10-20 to buy the children food and snacks for camp. She got government support to buy food for the month last weekend. How in the heck did she go through them all already!?!? She even mentioned she had her mother and sister downstairs, as if to add how many mouths she had to feed.
I told her quite honestly that neither James nor I had any cash on hand. She didn't seem to mind my answer and left. I hate to think so, but I now fear our neighbor is completely incapable of running her household in any way but efficiently.
I did however pick up 10 packages of Ramen Noodles (5 beef flavor and 5 chicken flavor) for a total with tax of $1.05 for the next time she comes by and says she needs money to feed her children.
Friday, August 18, 2006
While we were there we also browsed the Dolls section just to see what was being sold in the area of dolls for future reference. We were mildly amused and thoroughly appauled to discover Barbie has turned into a mother's worst nightmare. There is now the "My Bling Bling" collection by Mattel including Madison, Chelsea, Nolee, and, of course, Barbie. Now in addition to the waist Scarlet O'Hara would envy and feet only larger than my six month old daughter's and a C cup chest, little girls can play with dolls wearing knee-high go-go boots, miniskirts that couldn't fit on your thumb, and tube tops or other such tops that barely cover anything. (Of course none of these dolls wear bras.) Now I suppose I might just be thankful Mattel has not made them anatomically correct yet, but is this the "woman" that we should hope our daughters aspire to?
You know these are not primarily purchased and played with by 16 olds or older. So frighteningly Mattel must believe the market for such a doll to be out there among the younger girls. Perhaps Mattel has been making them like this for years and I just didn't notice.
I would not object to getting my daughter a doll when she is older but it will definately not be along this line.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
James and I have been sympathetic and tried to be charitable towards her. Over a year ago we began letting her use our phone since she couldn't afford one. When she lost her car, we began occassionally giving her rides. She comes by asking for eggs, milk, tomato paste, celery, hotdogs, etc. In fairness, she has given us two of her daughter's infant dresses, one new dress for Cecilia from Target, a package of diapers and a tin of formula (even though Cecilia has never nor will ever get formula). We have never asked her for anything nor expect anything but who could ask for anything from someone who has made it very clear they are in need of help?
This summer she lost her job at UPS. Personally I think her incapability to ever be punctual in my experience could have played into that but she says it was because she had to keep taking off work to take her son to some sort of therapy. She takes him to therapy or something of that sort in order to get his record expunged because he was caught taking a knife to school. She claims he got picked on and brought it simply, and stupidly, to defend himself.
Since she lost her job she has repeatedly come to us asking for food products and rides to places and never fails to retell her situation. I've heard more than once that they have nothing to eat except pancakes (not the simply add water kind I might add but the kind that requires eggs, milk and oil), she can't pay her rent or her phone bill, she needs to buy groceries for her mother, she's so tired of struggling, it's so difficult to raise two kids by herself, etc. Now, I have no doubt it is not easy to raise two children on her own, esp. since she cannot get child support as her husband is in prison. In this regard she has my utmost sympathy and it is for this reason James and I have repeatedly helped her. However, it has gotten to the point where she is repaying our charity by complaining nonstop about her own situation. Yesterday when I drove her and her two children to three different destinations she asked me, "Can you imagine what it is like for me raising two children by myself?" I responded quite honestly that I couldn't, but I have gotten the distinct impression that she is trying to play upon me as a fiddle. She has even told me she had to hide crying from her son after scolding him when he asked her if he could "exercise his skills" (a.k.a. shoplift) at Safeway because he was so angry at not having enough food.
Not three weeks ago when James and I were blessed to sell his old car and she told us they had nothing to eat we gave her $80 so her children could eat (we also gave her about $20 we had on a bus pass so she would use the public transportation to get around). I realize $80 is not much, but there are ways to make it last if you have to. I told her that those Ramen Noodles come in several flavors and were on sale at our nearest grocery store for 10 cents a package. (They are quite good and very filling.) She said she forgot to look for them and was hinting again yesterday for more cash.
There are other inconsistencies and facts that have made us hesitant. Perhaps her son has caused her so much trouble but I must say, even for a 12 year old, he has always been very nice and especially polite whenever I have seen or spoken with him. James and I have come to agreement in instituting a "NO CASH" policy when it comes to her or her children but if there is something in particular in terms of a grocery or something, we will try to help. However I have also said I am much more weary now about letting her into our apartment. She has her own phone again and I'm becoming more weary of allowing anyone in her family near Cecilia or in our apartment.
Perhaps this post is more of a vent than a reflection but I do feel as though our charity and neighborly kindness is being repaid with complaining and almost a nagging of further donation. A dear priest friend of mine told me several years ago that it was a charity to not complain to others. Now of course complaining should not be confused with answering truthfully to personal questions of close friends or family, but if an acqaintance asks me how I am doing I am not about rant about every difficulty or complaint or problem I have to them. There is probably not much they can do about them, only makes them a dumping sight for my difficulties and probably makes me less than a joy to be around. As Christians it is our Christian duty to bring Christ's love to others and whining or complaining to someone who is not at fault and can do little to help is not very Christian. Personally, when it comes to such people, I find it harder to have sympathy to self-proclaimed martyrs. True martyrs let their lives witness for them. They do not need to tell everyone how unfair their life is. And it is in watching such people do their best without complaining that they become admirable and an inspiration to everyone else.
Friday, August 11, 2006
It seems to me that if the devil appeared on the earth tomorrow, his agenda would be along the lines of the terrorists: destruction of Jews and Christians by any means possible. After all, if you are the archenemy of God, you'd seek to destroy any and all of God's people. Now, if a giant winged demon by the name of Lucifer did appear on the earth, I personally would have no qualms about trying to destroy him in any way possible. But I am left wondering how many people would debate about the Devil's "civil rights" and not "judging" him and how we should be "tolerant" of diversity and how we should not impose ourselves on him. I can see the headlines already:
"Can Lucifer Aid Mideast Peace?" "U.N. Defends Diversity of Demon" "PETA Demands Protection for New SuperSpecies" ad nauseum.
Or would the world even recognize the Devil if they saw him? Has evil become so undistinguishable in our world of abortion, mass destruction, nuclear missles, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, propogation of homosexual acts, etc. that we have trouble telling when evil rears its horned head?
Let me make this simple. The Devil seeks destruction, suffering, pain, loss and death. The Islamic extremists, a.k.a. "terrorists," seek the destruction of Israel and many nations of the West, the suffering of anyone they deem their enemy, and the loss and death of millions of people. If a person came up to you with a knife, a gun and a grenade and said, "I want you extinct and I will stab you with my knife and if you try to run I will shoot you and if I think you even could survive outside of my reach I will use my grenade to kill us both because killing you means more to me than living," what would you do? What would you say?
Would you try to negotiate for your life? Would you give up your children, your home, your freedom to try to bargain to live? It would be completely pointless to give up anything and everything to someone who desires your death more than his own life. It is similar to a Jewish man in 1940 trying to bargain for his life from Hitler. Bargaining with Hitler didn't help anyone either - it simply delayed the inevitable and cost many more lives in the process.
I argue that, as unpleasant and pessimistic as it sounds, you simply cannot bargain with terrorists, not in money, not in supplies, not in land, not in time, not for lives. Terrorists insist that the rules of the game are kill or be killed. I am tired of hearing about pleas and desires for peace with people who seek only death. The only peace that will come is when such people are no longer able to pursue their agenda of death. Until the murderous destruction of the extremists is completely and permanently extinguished, there will not be peace for there is no peace with the Devil. As Spencer Tracy said in Inherit the Wind, "Fanatacism and ignorance is forever busy and needs feeding," and terrorism will never stop unless the terrorists are snuffed out.
*As a Catholic I am always in understanding with the Church that conversion be the first goal, but seeing as how Bibles are, well, shall we say, scarce to be found in terrorist nations, and terrorists breed their hate from childhood and forbid Christian influence within their circles, barring a miracle, which, by all means everyone can keep praying for, I believe the conversion of terrorists to be an unrealistic pursuit in our times.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Now this places Americans in a difficult situation. If the media in general is so manipulative and dishonest, how do Americans know what is true and what isn't? How do they know what the reality of a foreign war is? Or what politicians really said? We have all heard so many conflicting reports about what exactly happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. What is the truth? How are Americans to think or feel or, perhaps most importantly, vote if anything and everything they are told or read could be a festering pit of lies and twists and spin? And yet under every story is that ever-waving right to freedom of the press. Should there be some legal restrictions that any outlet professing to provide political, legal, or social"news" (no, I don't consider celebrity news "news") never willfully and deliberately manipulate facts or quotes to intentionally deceive the public? Certainly it would not be easy to prove in a court of law. But I'm not a lawyer. That is their problem.
I just find it repulsive that, under the banner of the Bill of Rights, the general media is protected to mislead, manipulate, and deceive the public leaving the public often at the whim of a "journalist's" personal political, religious, or other slant on any set of events.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
However, I have noticed a more recent trend (oh say the last 5-10 years) whereupon horror films do not strive to have any moral whatsoever but simply to be the bloodiest, most violent and goriest films. Somehow gory/bloody/violent is supposed to = horror. I admit I have not seen all of them, but Saw, High Tension, Cabin Fever and, my most recently viewed film which spurred this reflection, Hostel all seem to have one simple goal - to be as gory and bloody and violent as possible. And I'm sure there have been others which I have been blessed not to see.
In Hostel there really isn't any innocent character for which to root or feel much sympathy. In fact it is in the survival of a sinful character in which any lack of moral is obvious.
So do such "horror" movies have any redeeming value? I would say no. I can watch Nightmare on Elm Street and plainly see that Freddy does not attack his victim when she has her crucifix on the wall or understand that Jamie Lee Curtis survives the immortal Michael Meyers because she is the virgin and faithful babysitter but it seems modern "horror" films have lost any sense of deeper purpose than spewing as much blood on the screen as possible. According to imdb.com, Tarantino used 150 gallons of blood in Hostel alone.
I would further argue that such films become an instrument of the devil placing evil images before human eyes with no purpose other than to present such images. And they become images that plague our memory and dull our senses and numb our reality to violence.
The relatively recent plague off such films has left me longing for the older films like The Haunting (the original) and skipping going to the theater.
Just for the record, I still think the scariest film I've ever seen remains The Exorcist. Either version counts, but the more recent version have an extra edge over the first.
CONTINUED: I wanted to add, that I do not hold the position that a film, even a horror film, cannot simply be fun and entertaining, but I further want to add that anyone who is entertained by such films should ask themselves why? What is "fun" or "entertaining" about severed body parts or gallons of blood? I cannot find any appropriate answer to this. Now I can agree that senses of humor may vary and what is enjoyable may be subjective but material such as this can only be entertaining and fun to those who would bask in human suffering and relish in the destruction of human beings.
Am I saying that all who see these movies are evil? Of course not. Most people do not realize the evil propgated by such films. What I am saying is that such films are evil by their nature and, while the evil, common to evil itself, is not obvious to many, it has a natural propensity to cause harm to those who view it.
Friday, August 04, 2006
At mass this morning our pastor mentioned in passing that it was not easy to sit in the confessional for more than an hour or two and that even his experience of 3-5 hours at a previous assignment could be a challenge.
This made me think of a parish I went to briefly in Dallas called Blessed Sacrament. At the time the pastor was a priest by the name of Fr. Paul Weinberger. I remember when I first went there I was stunned to learned he heard confessions for 16 hours over the course of one week. I had never heard of a modern priest hearing confession so many hours in one week before. I did go to confession there once and the line formed around the inside of the Church. Around the time I left Dallas, this wonderful priest who had been given this parish 10 years prior when it was deep in debt and had managed not only to get rid of all debt but also redecorate the inside of the Church and repave the parking lot was ordered to transfer. Blessed Sacrament was indeed a poor parish of poor people of various and diverse ethnic backgrounds. Fr. Paul unified them all under English, Spanish and Latin masses. He said he wanted to "spoil the poor." But he was transferred to St. William parish quite a ways away from Blessed Sacrament.
I decided to look up his previous parish, still fairly large holding at 2000 and compare the hours available for confession with his new parish, a much smaller 725. The parish that used to be able to fill 16 hours of confession in one week is now only offered 2 hours and 15 minutes of scheduled confession time. And Fr. Paul's new parish of less than half his previous parish has 8 hours and 40 minutes of scheduled confession time.
I have not been to either parish since I left the Dallas area but I have to wonder, it is Fr. Paul that brings so many to confession? Is it simply, if you offer the hours, they will come? I cannot believe the people changed since, being such a poor parish, it is not likely many moved very far. So the question becomes, does the priest make the difference or does the hours make the difference or is it both? I honestly cannot say I know the answer to this but I think they would go hand in hand. The better the priest who encourages frequent confession the more hours he will offer confession and the more parishoners will go to him for confession. So then the question becomes, "What must happen to get more people back in the confessional?"
Book Meme1. One book that changed your life: The Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska. It was quite a long read since I didn't rush through it. When I began I thought just getting through it should be worth some indulgence. By the end I realized reading all of it was worth much more in itself.
2. One book that you've read more than once: Although there are many books I'd like to read again, there are so always so many I want to read I rarely read the same book twice but I have read The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis more than once now.
3. One book you'd want on a desert island: I'd have to say something regarding survival or raft-building.
4. One book that made you laugh: The Harry Potter Series, by J. K. Rowling
5. One book that made you cry: Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
6. One book that you wish had been written: Mary, the Autobiography.
7. One book that you wish had never been written: The Koran.
8. One book you're currently reading: The Bible, by God. I'm reading it from cover to cover but thus far am only in 2 Samuel.
9. One book you've been meaning to read: A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Needless to say I am quite tired. She is as well. She was yawning this morning on the way to Mass even though she usually doesn't take a nap until we are heading home from Mass. My daughter's agony has left the theologian in me wondering WHY. Why would God permit such agony to the most innocent? No one is harming her. It is no one's fault. And yet there seems to be so little I can do. Granted not all babies agonize so much over their teeth. But here my little sweetheart, only 6 months old, is often in misery though she has done nothing wrong. It cannot be so she will learn the unfairness of life for she will not remember this. It cannot be so she can offer her pain in atonement for sins for she is too young to understand anything of any purpose to suffering or any value in it and hence is unable to offer it up. It seems to me that the pain and discomfort of teething in an infant is of no value whatsoever to the infant.
This leads me to believe that God permits such misery in teething not for the sake of the infant, but that of the parents. Perhaps, as her mother and the one who made promises for her at her Baptism, I can offer up her sufferings for her. But perhaps the greater reason is that it is indeed a hard lesson as a new parent that there will be pain and discomfort and harshness in life from which no parent can protect their child. It introduces me to the agony of seeing my little girl suffering from a fallen world when I can do so little to help her. I've reflected a few times lately of what the Father must have felt watching His Son agonize in misery at the hands of those who hated him by the betrayal of His own friends and then die the shameful and painful death of a slave on a cross and not do anything to aid his Son. Even though His Son understood why everything had to happen as it did, as a parent, it has become an intimate reflection on the reality of parenting and the pain a mother or father feels being greater seeing their own child suffer than if they had to suffer themselves.
Perhaps it should also be a reflection of how the Father feels seeing any of us hurt, especially in sin. And while He is never powerless to help us, we often refuse to let Him and so his hands become tied just as much as if he were powerless. A Father who surrenders his power for the love of His children and yet still agonizies in their misery, never severing his heart from theirs.
While I have begun offering each daily Eucharist for my little baby and her teeth and pray for her in this regard daily, I cannot say that her misery has been completely for nothing. When I would do anything for her and yet can do so little to ease her pain, I have to feel sympathy and shame for the times I and others have put our Heavenly Father in the same position, not by involuntary teething, but by our own free choice.
This was just too funny not to share. ...
Father Z. has posted these lyrics by Tim Ferguson, to be sung to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme.
Come sit right back
and you’ll hear a tale,
a tale of some heretics
That started from a Pittsburgh port,
aboard a tiny ship.
The mate was a fan of labyrinths
The skipper was a nun
10 other women were on board
for sacramental fun.
(for sacramental fun)
The liturgy was getting rough,
The litany was long,
Invoking Lilith, Gaia too,
Seemed just a bit too wrong
(though not to Bishop Spong)
The ship set ground in a strange new world,
With lesbians And feminists
An acting deacon’s wife
And the rest
Here on Womanchurch Isle
So this is the tale of the priestesses
There here for a long, long time.
They’re sure to make a mess of things
And bitch and moan and whine.
No pope! No men! No canon law
Not a dime to Peter’s Pence!
Like Lollard, Hussites, Bogomils,
They’ve left out common sense.
So join us here each year my friend,
There’s sure to be more fun,
With a hearty shout, “non serviam!
My will, not Thine be done.”
H/T to Gerald Augustinus at The Cafeteria is Closed.