Monthly Archives: February 2014

“Why so Serious?” (or Sarcastic)?

People online, often myself included, can be rather uptight. I discovered tonight that it’s been months since I checked my GMail, and after deleting a bunch of mailing lists I never read, I went through old Disqus notifications, and found a response to a question I asked. Someone had made what was apparently a wise-crack, which I (I’ll admit) took seriously but asked a perfectly innocent question to clarify a term. “I lean towards Montanism,” and I asked what he meant by “Montanism,” since people confuse “Montanism” with “Ultra-Montanism,” and he replied the former, but that he was being facetious,” which would have been a sufficient reply, but then he went on. It’s like people always assume the worst intent with a comment.

Sometimes a question is just a question, and sometimes a joke is just a joke. Things don’t always have to have deeper meanings and ulterior motives.

Funny . . .

For 8 years, certain publications were saying, “Pope Ratzinger” (if they even called him “Pope” or even “Ratzi”), and are now adoringly talking of “Pope” Francis.
Now, other publications which used to say “Pope Benedict” are saying “Bergoglio”.

“I was actually outraged”: Secular Couple Discovers NFP

Here is the key passage from an interview with William and Kati Sacks, creators of the Kindara App:

We actually founded the company because we were looking for effective birth control that wasn’t the pill. Kati had been on the pill for 10 years and she didn’t like the side effects. She introduced me to the fertility awareness method and I was blown away by how little I understood about female fertility. I was actually outraged that I had never been taught how reproduction actually works.

Once we started tracking her fertility signs I learned all about how her body worked and also discovered an added intimacy in our relationship. We wanted to share this with other couples, so we started Kindara out of our own desire to give women and men tools that help them take control of their health, understand what’s happening with their bodies and meet their fertility goals.

Imagine that: “I was actually outraged.”   For all that liberals say about the importance of “sex education,” including exposing young children to pornography (it’s so disgusting I don’t want to link but there have been several recent controversies about pornographic lessons in public elementary schools), they don’t actually teach anything about fertility.  They make a big deal about kids knowing the “mechanics” and so-called “options” and how to use a condom, but not about fertility or how the purpose of the “mechanics” is to make babies.

Now, as apps go, Kindara is apparently only based upon the Sympto-Thermal Method and I believe costs money.  Also, it should be noted that “fertility awareness” is technically distinct from NFP in terms of the moral aspects of marital relations, but it’s still a huge step forward.

If you use Marquette Model, I recommend and its “Cycle Plus” App.  It’s mostly free (if you want to get the info on the “Maximum Fertility Window,” they charge a monthly fee for that, and whether you can see Ovulation dates on the app or have to go the website is a feature that comes and goes.  However, so long as you understand the basics, you can get by without the fee.  It’s a great app, and all the Apps we’ve tried have had options for charting all sorts of other info, as well.  So, for example, a woman with chronic migraines, digestive problems, etc., can charge how they relate to her cycle.

Things I Don’t Understand

Things I don’t understand:
1) Why “George Zimmerman,” who is half Hispanic and half German, was an Obama supporter, etc., is considered a “white racist,” but Barack Obama is considered “black.” Could that not itself be racism regarding their names?
2)  Why, when one party calls 911 and says, “There’s a suspicious looking teenager,” and 911 asks for a description, and he says he can’t be sure but the kid may be black, that’s racism, but the other party calls a friend on his cell phone and says that “some white guy” is following him, and his friend on the other end suggests the guy might be gay and trying to rape him, the latter party is not accused of “hate.”  If Martin had killed Zimmerman, would the media have accused him of homophobia?  Or would the whole case have been ignored?
4) Why is the “Stand your ground” concept being judged based upon one specific but very ambiguous case, one way or the other, and not on its own merits in terms legitimate self-defense?
5) Why are people using this one case as the epitome of “everything wrong with America”?  Ironically, it is, but not in the way people mean.  News is news because it’s rare.  Yes, minority youth are sadly the victims of more gun violence than other socioeconomic classes–just as minority babies are statistically the victims of more abortions, but if you point out a connection there, regarding the cheapening of life, you’re accused of racism and/or cheapening the deaths of gun violence.  However, minorities are also the *perpetrators* of most gun violence, usually against each other, and rarely using “legal” firearms.
My dad once observed how his high school students, even in the 90s, had such a cheap evaluation of life that it was difficult for them to even appreciate the moral dilemmas at work in literature: they were more baffled than “scholars” about the age-old question of Hamlet’s procrastination.  It was perfectly logical to them that if someone kills your dad, you kill them.  They didn’t understand what the big deal was.   I don’t like guns myself, but I really do not understand why people blame guns but balk at blaming the media, and abortion and contraception, for creating the “Culture of Death.”

Are you being Saved?

The person or persons who write “Coffee With Jesus,” the popular webcomic, hit another one out of the ballpark (much like Casting Crowns, they’re pretty Catholic in their thought, even though they insist they’re non-denominational).

I “got saved” almost every week in sixth grade at “Chapel” at Thomas Sumter. Almost every week, some speaker or Christian rock group or something would come with often truly inspiring and sometimes superficial cheesy, “testimonies” (or performances, as the case may be) and finish by saying, “Now, I want you all to bow your heads and give your life to Jesus,” and they would always have us recite the same words in unison, and my thought was always, “And these people would take issue with liturgical prayer. . . .”

Me, circa sixth grade

Almost every week, that is, except the two times my dad, the school’s first Catholic teacher, had his turn (each week a different faculty member would plan the program for Chapel). The first time, he had Fr. Anthony Rigoli, OMI, come, and the second time, he had a panel of students, myself included, speak about treating each other with love and respect (and speaking against bullying). This was inspired by one of his students unwittingly writing a paper about me. She wrote of this thin boy in sixth grade with glasses who was always being picked on and never seemed to notice when everyone laughed at him in the halls (I did), knocked his books out of his hands (I thought I was just clumsy), etc., and yet always seemed happy.

Interestingly, our headmaster once made the same comment.  He passed me in the hall and said, “That’s what I admire about you, John: you’re always smiling.”

I was honored that Mr. Owens, known for his very strict personality, took the time to say that–though at the time I was actually squinting.   This gets to any interesting side note about body language, Asperger syndrome and Marfan syndrome, since a) I have a hard time understanding other people’s expressions, and b) people have a hard time understanding mine.  Even after 14 years, Mary can’t read most of my expressions since they rarely indicate emotion and usually indicate some sort of pain, eye strain, trying to see, etc., though I do try to make a point of smiling.

Anyway, it’s interesting to me how people constantly want to engage in “institutional reform” of things that are just human nature.  As Joe Sobran put it regarding attempts to legislate against “hate,” “some people are just jerks.”  The Reformation supposedly started about “sale of indulgences” and yet many Protestant denominations require their members to tithe.   They criticize Catholics who seem to live a superficial religion but aren’t “Christians,” and yet so many Protestants seem to live the same way.

Salvation is always a process.  The greatest Saints refused to say they had achieved spiritual perfection, even if they had.  The only times in the Bible when Jesus makes definitive statements about people’s salvation are a) to Dismas on the Cross and b) to Zacchaeus at his house, when Zacchaeus promises to give just about everything away (and even then He doesn’t say “You are saved,” just “salvation has come to this house,” which is still an indication of process).

“Work out your salvation in fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Celebrating the Ordinary; Celebrating in the Ordinary

One of the great puzzlements of “holidays” and “holy days” is the extent to which we take time out to put extra emphasis on what we should already emphasize. People will say, “I wish it could be Christmas every day,” and it can: pray the Rosary. Be generous. Remember every day that the Word became flesh and dwells among us, and we have seen his glory. So, too, “Valentine’s Day,” aside from commercialism (which itself gets a bit repetitious in our culture–it’s one thing in cultures that aren’t so accustomed to luxury where a monthly day of splurging means something). Don’t get me wrong: I’m a “romantic,” but that’s precisely why Valentine’s Day has come to be a bit ho-hum. I was tempted to write something along the lines of “Spent Valentine’s Day the ‘old married couple’ way: we took alternating naps,” which was true, but that got me thinking about whether Mary and I have *ever* really “celebrated” Valentine’s Day.
We always commemorate our Engagement Anniversary on January 15, so there’s that. Our first Valentine’s Day was long distance, and we celebrated it on President’s Day weekend. Our first “regular date,” as it were, was a trip to a McDonald’s in Valdosta, GA, that President’s Day weekend in 2000. We have had the movie _She’s All That_ sitting in our Amazon Instant Video queue for a while now–not sure which of us put it there, but mainly because of the _Psych_ connections (didn’t even realize Dule Hill was in it). Something in me said there was a significance to watching it the night before Valentine’s Day, besides just looking for a romantic comedy to watch, and I realized it this evening: Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kiss Me” was playing at that McDonald’s 14 years ago.
So, that’s about it for Valentine’s Day here. I learned early on that flowers and cards work better when they have extra impact, when they’re unexpected or can be shown off. I randomly bought Mary flowers once before Allie was born, and when I came to pick her up from school, I left them in the front office and went back out to the car. The office paged her after school and said, “There’s a message for you in the office.” She got up there, and they were like, “That kind of thing stops after the baby’s born.” I took that as a challenge. I’d regularly buy cards and mail them to her at school, and at least once a year on an “ordinary day,” I’d buy flowers and bring them to school.
I firmly believe that keeping gestures like that as part of the routine of marriage is as important as ritual prayer is in the spiritual life, but it also makes it a bit harder to get all worked up about something like Valentine’s Day.

Would you be my martyr?

Seasonal things you can expect in the Catholic online world:
1) “Real meaning of Christmas”
2) “Real meaning of Easter”
3) “Real meaning of Halloween”
4) “Real meaning St. Nicholas,” etc.
The cool thing about Catholicism is that this is not the paradox it first seems.
There are many reasons given for the connection between St. Valentine and love.  One is supposedly the letters he wrote from prison (then why not Ignatios of Antioch or another of the Fathers?)  Another is that supposedly he wrote specifically about marriage (again).  Then there is the issue of *which* “St. Valentine” we’re talking about.  Supposedly, the first historical reference associating St. Valentine’s Day with “romance” is in Chaucer.
Regardless of the seemingly arbitrary association, we celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection by eating candy, so why not a Saint’s?  “The pain now is part of the happiness then,” as Joy Davidman says in _Shadowlands_ (forget if she actually said said that in real life).  To borrow from _VeggieTales_, the “hope of Easter” allows us to see the joy and humor in death. 
[54] And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55, Douay).
If you can’t joke about something as silly and trivial as death, what *can* you joke about?
The paradox was best phrased by a cartoon I saw today that said, “Will you be my Christian martyr? Now you see why I find this holiday confusing.”
Actually, it shouldn’t be.  Christian love is supposed to be about martyrdom.

Love is supposed to be about self-sacrifice.  Gifts we give in love are symbolic of the greater sacrifices we are supposed to make for others.