7 Quick Takes – Volume 14 (Dazed and Confused)

— 1 —

It’s been a rough week, to say the least. 7 Quick Takes is supposed to be lighthearted (or at least not a downer), so it’s been hard to get in the mood to write with all that’s going on. I tried to get a 7QT up last week, but posted a rather cynical observation about the news media instead.

Cynicism kills the mood even more than tragedy. There is a meme going around on the internet about how to maintain hope in a tragedy.

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But cynicism is the polar opposite of this. If looking at the helpers reminds us of the good in humanity, cynicism focuses on the bad. And you can’t be in a good mood when you are dwelling on the worst aspects of people.

— 2 —

But life goes on, no matter what happens around the world.

My older daughter is having her first communion this Saturday. She is doing it with her old CCD class instead of her new Parochial School class because she’s been with the CCD class all year and the school doesn’t do first communion until May. Last Sunday, she had her first communion retreat.

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I’m not quite sure what it was all about, but she did get to make her first communion banner. The retreat was full of the same “Kumbaya Catholicism” that I grew up with in the 1980s, but that may be normal for second graders. My mother, on the other hand, was raised pre-Vatican II and the nuns told her all her Protestant relatives, including her mother, were going to hell. She largely ignored them, but her younger sister (my Aunt) was deeply disturbed by this and has since left the Church. Bad catechesis is nothing new, but better bored than traumatized, I say.

After talking to the other parents about the retreat, I’m pretty sure the best part for the adults is that attending the retreat probably means three hours less in purgatory.

— 3 —

One of the activities at the retreat was to bake “Happiness Bread”. The children had a simple recipe for unleavened bread (Or as one of the second graders called the lumpy creation, “Uneven bread”.) Each table had a few of the ingredients to make the bread so they had to share their ingredients with the other tables, which was the point of the exercise. Unfortunately, there were a few more ingredients than the recipe called for, which made me wonder about the recipe.

The bread was baked and it was time to share. Before the blessing, my daughter asked “Does blessed bread taste better than unblessed bread?”

The director of religious education explained that blessing the bread doesn’t change how it tastes, but it changes what it means.

Note: I’m pretty sure this exercise was unintentionally somewhat heretical, giving the second graders an incorrect understanding of the theology of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, but at this point, I was just ready to get it over with and go home. 

This answer isn’t good enough for my daughter. Being her mother’s child, she has to experiment to know for sure. Before the blessing, she sneaks a taste of the unblessed bread. Then she eats a few bites of the bread after it was blessed.

The bread tasted more like heavy cardboard stock than anything I would call bread. No one could choke down more than a few bites of the “happiness bread”.

On the way home, she shared the results of her “experiment”: “Daddy, unblessed bread tastes better than blessed bread! It tastes sweeter. When you bless the bread, all the sweetness goes away.”

I don’t think that’s what the retreat was supposed to be teaching… Happiness bread gets a Jesus facepalm.

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— 4 —

Other highlights from the retreat:

Seven year old boy during communion practice: “The wine tastes yucky.”

Dad: “Ever since Fr. _____ left, they started buying really cheap wine.”

My daughter really liked the wine. I don’t know if that’s a good sign or not…

— 5 —

IuseNFP, Living the Sacrament, and LoveNaturally, NFP hosted an #iuseNFP twitter party.

The party was very informative. I answered a couple questions and was able to get a lot of questions answered myself. One particular question had been bothering me for quite some time.

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Our own experience and from what I have read of that of others who have struggled with NFP, most of the problems couples have with NFP come from a combination of (1) a poor understanding of fertility or (2) an overly legalistic, rules-based view of Catholic teaching.

Sometimes the poor understanding comes from using a method that looks at the wrong signs for a particular woman. Unfortunately, sometimes instructors think their way is the “only way” and don’t refer couples out when a method isn’t working for them. This happened to us with the Creighton Model: Our FCP tried to help us get the method to work even after it should have been clear that another method might be better.

Sometimes, teachers were not always well-trained and couldn’t answer couples’ questions about difficult situations like breastfeeding or unusual cycles. This was our experience with CCL: The teaching couple was nice, but they couldn’t help us.  Plus, the materials they used at the time (2006) were in desperate need of an update, especially their postpartum section.  I have heard good things about the new CCL materials and courses, but I have no experience with them myself.

The good news is that the “new generation” of NFP promoters seems to be moving past the old problems. While a generation ago, nearly everyone who used NFP was a conservative Catholic, today many women are looking to NFP as a healthy, natural alternative to hormonal contraception. The NFP community is more scientific and less sectarian than it was in the past.

Second, the generation who discovered the various methods of NFP are leaving the scene. The Drs. Billings have died, the Kippleys are in their 70s, and Dr. Hilgers is almost as old. Given the amount of research that these people have put into developing their methods and the thousands of couples they worked with, it is understandable that each one of them would think that their method is the best method of understanding fertility for every woman at all times. The younger generation doesn’t have quite the personal attachment to their methods as the original pioneers and is more interested in finding a method that works for a couple than a once size fits all solution. There was an overwhelming agreement among ALL participants that the “NFP wars” that pitted the methods against each other had to end.

— 6 —

The other problem that couples have is that if they take an overly legalistic, rule-based view of Catholic teaching on sexuality, they will chafe against the rules and resent them.

Pope Benedict XVI warned about presenting Christianity as “a series of prohibitions”, but this has been common over the years. “Rule-based” Catholicism was especially common among American Catholics catechized before Pre-Vatican II. As the NFP community was made up of more conservative Catholics, such thinking persisted in this community longer than it did in the general Catholic population. False ideas about sexuality and about sin and grace were depressingly common in some circles of the NFP community.

Yet another twitter discussion led me to realize just how I somehow managed to be exposed to all forms of bad Catholic catechesis. I somehow managed to be exposed to Kumbaya Catholicism,  Pre-Vatican II legalism, and ex-Calvinists with a Catechism, all while completely missing what the Church actually teaches.

— 7 —

I haven’t written much lately on either blog. I have plenty of ideas for posts, but no time to develop them into full posts. I have learned a lot about the meaning of marriage and of sex and how society views it from the various gay marriage discussions as well as a conversation about why so many young people aren’t getting married. My political position is still the same: I support civil unions for gay couples and see the difference between “civil marriage” and “civil union” as one of semantics, but it has made me think about what sex and marriage mean in society. The discussion has confirmed my belief that gay marriage is more about how straight couples see marriage than about gay rights.

I will probably post a 2-3 part series on this either here or on the other blog.

I also read some excellent articles about spotting cults, a strange fear of pregnancy, what real beauty means, what sex is really like (as opposed to various cultural myths)an EPIC takedown of the idea some Protestants have that wives should be subordinate to husbands by Arleen Spenceley, and the top 10 cliches among young Catholics. I’ll probably be posting about these later.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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7 Quick Takes – Volume 12 (Why I am Catholic)

At Patheos, several bloggers wrote about why they are Catholic in 200 words or less. In that spirit, here are seven reasons why I am Catholic.

— 1 —

Here comes everybody!

There is a tremendous amount of diversity in the Catholic Church, which many Catholics take for granted. At mass, I see people from all over the world of all races and all economic backgrounds.

Most of our social lives are segregated. We tend to only associate with those who look like us, those who talk like us, those who act like us. Many churches are just as segregated. (Unfortunately, so are some parishes.) But the Catholic Church is for everyone.

People literally from all over the world waited on Pope Francis’s election and watched his inauguration. He leads a Church for everyone, not just for people like him or people like me.

— 2 —

Children everywhere.

No, Catholics aren’t the only ones still reproducing, despite what your NFP instructor may have told you.  It’s that the Catholic Church accepts and welcomes children along with everybody else. They are part of the family, not something to be seen and not heard.

On Easter Sunday, the priest invited all the parents of newborns (born since last Easter) to stand. There were quite a few of them and they all got a round of applause from the congregation. It is hard for the wider culture to understand this, but the Church is pro-life because the Church really likes children, not because she is trying to spoil grown-up’s fun.

Furthermore, the children are there in mass. They aren’t shuffled off to a “children’s church” or “nursery”. Mass is for everyone, not just for grown-ups. Besides, sometimes the commentary of the three year old behind you is the most interesting part of the liturgy.

— 3 —

2000 Years of History

At my mother’s parish, there is a poster on the wall with all the Popes. It starts with St. Peter and ends with Benedict XVI. Some of them have been saints. Some of them have been scoundrels. There have, however, been no breaks in the line. Nor have there been any major deviations in doctrine from the Bishops of Rome. The best Popes defended the faith and spread the gospel. The worst Popes were too busy scheming in Italian politics and appointing their illegitimate sons to Church offices to bother changing the faith.

Pope Francis is the latest in this long line of Popes. Although Pope Francis’s style is quite a bit different than his predecessor’s, we know that the faith will not change. We know that the Church will continue on because it has continued on before. A change in personality at the top will not lead to the end of the Church.

When a reporter asked the then Cardinal Bergoglio about his “orthodox” beliefs on the usual hot button issues, he replied, “Yes, I am Catholic.” The new Pope is, indeed, Catholic, and all is right with the world.

— 4 —

The Church is run by incompetent fools, therefore God must be behind it

We all know about the various scandals in the Church, from the horror of the sex abuse crisis to the embarrassment of Vatileaks. We also know that the Vatican can be tone-deaf and bureaucratic at times. (Benedict XVI had a particular knack for saying things that could be misunderstood or quoted out-of-context.)

This is nothing new. Dante famously put several Popes in his Inferno. Even after the resurrection, St. Peter bumbled his way through the Acts of the Apostles. St. Paul called him out as a hypocrite for not eating with the uncircumcised, a major issue in the early Church.

It’s not just at the top, nor is it a product of Vatican II. Flannery O’Connor used to tell the story of a Southern Baptist friend’s reaction to the (pre-Vatican II) Mass.

Flannery often invited her friend to Mass. Finally, one Sunday the little girl got permission from her mom to accept Flannery’s invitation. Flannery could not wait for the Mass to be over so she could ask her little friend whether she liked it. The little girl said: “WOW. You Catholics really have something special. The sermon was so boring, the music was lousy, the priest mumbled the prayers of a language nobody could understand, and all those people were there!

Yet, despite the chronic incompetence and corruption, dull masses and boring homilies, the Catholic Church not only has been around for 2000 years but it continues to grow. Surely God must be behind it.

— 5 —

It is a Logical, Intellectual Faith

Critics of the Catholic Church portray Catholicism as superstition. They portray Catholics as an ignorant people, slaves to the whims of some distant hierarchy.

This is completely false.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a summary of what the Catholic Church believes. It has answers to the deepest questions about who we are, what our purpose is, and how we go about living it. Whether you like the answers it gives or not, everything in there has been studied in depth, discussed, and debated. None of it was arrived at lightly. It all fits together as part of a well integrated whole.

I like to think of the product of many, many lifetimes of Bible studies.

Nor does Catholicism “rest on its laurels”, because “we’ve always done things this way”, but it continues to seek the truth. It does not hide from the modern world, but engages it. It wrestles with it. It looks to the world—and even to other faiths—to find the good and the true. “Jesus” is not the secret password to get into heaven, but God among us, showing us the way to Him.

Yet even if we have missed this very important message, the Catholic Church teaches that all of nature points the way to God. God is not hiding from us, He has drawn us a map. Our human reasoning is not untrustworthy and wicked, as some believe, but exists to point us toward God’s Truth.

The Catholic Church has something for the intellectual, the child, and everyone in between.

— 6 —

It is a real, tangible faith

I recently read an article where yet another Episcopal bishop was denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Apparently, Jesus just wasn’t there and the Apostles just decided that his message was so important that they had to spread it anyway.

The Catholic Church rejected such nonsense as heresy about 1800 years ago. The Risen Christ was REAL. Mary Magdeline talked to him. He appeared to the Apostles. Thomas put his fingers in the wounds. He ate fish with the apostles. He walked with the men on the road to Emmaus. After all, “if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.” 1 Corinthians 15:14.

The Church believes that miracles still happen, and takes great lengths to verify that there is no known natural explanation for the alleged miracle.

Blogger Leah Libresco writes that “Catholicism has resisted Invisible Dragon in the Garage Syndrome fairly well.” Bold and controversial as the Church’s claims may be, they are not imaginary nor do they point to some vague “spirituality”. They are real and concrete.

— 7 —

The Sacraments

I admit, a big part of why I am Catholic is that I am a bit of a sacrament junkie.

Sacraments are real instruments of God’s grace. They aren’t merely rituals and they aren’t merely symbols. As Flannery O’Connor said, “If the Eucharist is just a symbol, then to Hell with it.” If the Eucharist is not the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, then it’s just stale bread and cheap wine.

It was studying pop Psychology that led me back to the Church. The Eucharist, with the belief in the Real Presence, is such a highly sophisticated and sublime act of worship that there’s no way that a bunch of uneducated Galilean fishermen could have come up with it. And you can get it EVERY DAY. Not just on Sunday. Not just once a month. Not just once a quarter.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), too, is a far more sophisticated act than the early Church could have realized. Dan Ariely explains the economics of Catholic Confession. (Segment begins at 6:14)

Reconciliation about far more than just asking God to forgive your sins. It is about bringing about a change in the penitent and we can see how, exactly, that works.

The Marital Act is a very tangible instrument of God’s grace in the Sacrament of Marriage. 😉 (It’s hard to wrap my brain around the idea that sex can be sacramental, but it is. And why not? It brings the couple closer together and it brings forth new life.)

Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick, too are more than just empty rituals, but real, tangible, instruments of Grace.

I am a bit of a junkie for Grace.

Which is why I am Catholic.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – Volume 10 (Mr. Roboto)

— 1 —

We finally made the switch. It was long past time to upgrade our phones, so we got new ones. We went from the Android phones to twin iPhone 5s.

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We’ve given the last bit of our digital souls to the Cult of Mac.

So far, we love it. We use Macs, so the iPhone integrates well. (Android + Mac is some sort of heresy.) Plus, the iPhone is a real iPod as opposed to the crappy iPod knockoff which is the best that even the nicest Android phones can do. Everything just works, which is more than i could ever say about the Android based phones.

— 2 —

One of the downsides of switching to the iPhone is that I had to give up the wonderful OvuView app for her charting. OvuView is loaded with features, including custom symptoms, chart interpretation, and cycle prediction, but it’s only for Android.

As a replacement, I have downloaded Kindara fertility. It’s a great looking basic charting app, although it lacks some of the features of OvuView. But it is free and easy to use and we don’t need much.

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Yeah, there’s an app for that.

The couple behind it, Kati Bicknell and Will Sacks, are fantastic. They are both putting a lot of effort into not just promoting their company, but promoting FAM/NFP as good for women’s health. Kati has a great blog on charting and Will has put a lot of effort into building the company and building the app.

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The two are interviewed in Dame Magazine and share how Kati found learning about her fertility to be “super cool” and how using the method brought them both closer together as a couple. It’s good to hear stories of couples who are happy with FAM/NFP and aren’t doing it for religious reasons.

I think CCL Family Foundations could use few stories about couples who met on the way to Burning Man. What do you think?

— 3 —

Another iPhone feature we have enjoyed is Siri. Letting the children talk to Siri is endless entertainment for them… and you.

Siri’s voice recognition isn’t quite as good as Apple would have you believe, so there’s been some misunderstandings, some funny, some annoying. For example, Siri has never heard of The Avett Brothers, but is more than willing to send me recommendations for veterinarians (“a vet”) when I asked about tickets to an upcoming show.

— 4 —

This week was the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. It’s been brutal.

With “standard” time down to only four months, I say pick a time and stick with it, already. It’s easier than getting sprung forward every year.

— 5 —

 

After posting about my issues with feminism, I found this in my twitter feed:

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Literal minded people who know how grammar works? Hmmm, what is this “non-movement feminist” business?

Basically, anyone who supports women’s equality is a “feminist”, whether or not one supports the “feminist movement”. I’m all for that. I have two daughters. I kind of have to be.

Still, I never would have used “feminist” to describe the belief that men and women are of equal worth and dignity. Instead, I would have used terms like “common sense” or “blindingly obvious“. But apparently, common sense isn’t.

But if that’s all it means to be a feminist, then I guess that makes me one, even though I am extremely critical of many aspects of the feminist movement. That’s another column for another time.

— 6 —

I feel the same way about the pro-life movement. I am pro-life, but very critical of many aspects of the pro-life movement.

Basically, if you see any contradiction between advocating for the unborn and supporting women, then you’re doing it wrong.

Yet another column for another time.

— 7 —

There is nothing worse than a conversation where one person is taking a figure of speech literally and the other person doesn’t understand the meaning of the word literally.

Person 1: “Put the lights out?” Do you mean literally? That doesn’t make sense.

Person 2: “Yes! Of course, I mean literally put the lights out!”

Person 1: “Ok, then…”

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Thus the hazards of being literal minded and understanding what grammar means. No wonder Siri and I are such good friends. 🙂

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – Volume 9 (Laughing)

— 1 —

Tom Hooper wrote a humorous post about The Husband’s Monthly Cycle, pointing out the “cycle issues” of the (stereo)typical NFP husband.

Fortunately, NaBroTechnology can help guys better deal with “that time of the month”. Since I spent last evening writing about NaBroTechnology, this is going to be 7 Very Quick Takes.

— 2 —

One of the best things I ever did was take an improv class. In improv, you learn to think on your feet and be funny.

While improv appears to be completely improvisational, it’s really the result of a very structured process. There are various improv “games” and “rules” that provide a structure to what is happening on stage to ensure an entertaining result.

One of the most famous rules of improv is the “Yes, and…” rule. This means that you say “Yes” to whatever reality your stage partner creates AND you add something to it. This rule builds energy, allowing mundane phrases to quickly turn into absurd and funny realities.

— 3 —

I have found the best response to bad or inappropriate humor to be good humor. Nobody likes the easily outraged and humorless. Everybody likes a joke.

So if someone says something offensive or just plain wrong while trying to be funny, don’t get mad, turn the joke around. I find the most effective way of dealing with bad ideas or boorish people is to laugh at them.

— 4 —

The “Yes, and…” rule is part of NaBroTechnology. Need I say more? 😀

— 5 —

“Bad Catholic” Marc Barnes argues that Christian music should die. Priest’s Wife (Yes, she’s Catholic—Byzantine Rite) countered “I’d rather have Bible verses and cheesy chord progressions going through my and my kids’ headsthan the English lyrics to Gangnam Style. 

Bonnie Engstrom was concerned about kids picking up Mumford and Son’s f-bombs.

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As for myself, this is a music themed blog, so I’ve got to side with Marc on this one. If my kids started belting out Little Lion Man, we’d have a little talk about appropriate language. (“I’m very proud of you for having good taste in music. Now don’t ever sing this around your grandmother.”)

If, however, my kids started belting out bad Protestant theology in the style of early 1990s junk pop or wannabe grunge, I would be very worried as a parent.

Besides, the best known openly Christian musician in the world famously dropped a big fat f-bomb on live television. Which I see as the best of both worlds. (And it’s not a big f—ing deal in the UK and Ireland.)

— 6 —

Many people complain that the Catholic Church is out of touch and badly run. It is.

First, there was the Vatican’s moving tribute to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI…

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…elegantly laid out in Comic Sans.

Responsible for designing the Tribute. (Hat tip to Ironic Catholic.)

Responsible for designing the Tribute. (From Ironic Catholic.)

Today the all-male College of Cardinals voting to starting the all-male conclave to elect another man as Pope on International Women’s Day. The role of women in the Church is another discussion, but sheesh, guys, impeccable timing.

But this is nothing new. The Catholic Church has been badly run since Jesus left Peter in charge. That an organization so completely incompetent that they can’t hire a decent web designer to produce a photo tribute has managed to survive for nearly 2000 years shows that God must be behind it.

— 7 —

Many conservative Catholics have posted/retweeted outspoken Athiest Penn Gillette’s “defense” of the Papacy against liberal Catholic Piers Morgan.

Only problem is that Penn is an atheist. He’s not defending anything. He’s actually harshly criticizing the Papacy and the Catholic Church and mocking Piers Morgan for trying to have it both ways.

Some of the funniest moments happen when someone is the butt of a joke and doesn’t realize it.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – Volume 8 (Films About Ghosts)

— 1 —

The big news is that K started her job. It is technically a part-time position, but it’s over 30 hours per week. Seeing that at least one commenter knows where we live, I will not comment as to the details of the job, except that it is in her field and doesn’t pay too badly. Now that we are paying Catholic school tuition, it helps to have a second income.

— 2 —

The children have their second four day weekend in two weeks. The first one was a weather day we didn’t use followed by Presidents Day. This is for a diocesan teacher conference. So we’ve had to stay busy.

We are fortunate that both of our jobs are flexible. I can work from home if I need to and K’s job is very flexible about when she puts in her hours. Some things are more important than money, and flexibility is HUGE.

— 3 —

Yesterday was a good day. A former client informed me that the woman who had falsely accused him of a crime and falsely accused me of misconduct had been arrested on charges of embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretenses.

If you live a life of dishonesty, eventually it will catch up with you.

— 4 —

The Pope resigned yesterday.

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It’s gonna be OK.

— 5 —

So, who will be the next Pope? The guys at Busted Halo have created a tournament bracket for the Vatican’s March Madness.

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Much like the real NCAA men’s basketball tournament, my top choice did a one-and-done.

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How could you go wrong with Catholicism Wow! and the Buddy Christ?

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The Church doesn’t know what it is missing!

— 6 —

The Paulists (who would totally be into Catholicism Wow!) were largely responsible for my “formation”. As were Kevin Smith movies.

But now the Paulists have left and the theater where I watched so many of those movies (and worked for a summer) is closed.

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The Astro III in “better days”. Now it’s closed and boarded up.

The Astro III was a horrible, dated movie theater. It smelled like 35 years worth of stale popcorn, spilled soda, and who knows what else. Sometimes the projector would break, leading to impromptu “intermissions” while they fixed it. The seats were wobbly and the floors were sticky.

But it was the best damn movie theater ever. They got movies that wouldn’t come to anywhere else in the area, including Kevin Smith movies, although it was usually a couple weeks after release. I remember seeing Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back there. Admission was only $1.00 growing up, although it had increased to $2.00 by the time the picture was taken. The Astro III was a night of cheap entertainment. The theaters were always packed and they more than made up for the low admission price at the concession stand.

The theater was always very profitable, but the lease expired a few years ago. The owners wanted to develop the property into condos, but then the market crashed. It’s still standing, but is now borded up and vacant.

And the price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings.

— 7 —

And then there is that strange moment when you are searching for pictures to put in your blog post when find that girl that you used to sit next to in homeroom and haven’t seen in over 15 years has a hobby taking pictures of movie theaters. Lots of pictures of movie theaters.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – Volume 7 (Scenes from an Italian Restaurant)

— 1 —

I decided to give up alcohol for Lent…which lasted for slightly over two days. I swear I’m not an alcoholic!

K and I had our delayed Valentines’ date last Friday. We went to a well known local Italian restaurant. (Who would have thought you could find good Italian food in small-town South Carolina?) Since we were looking at a half-hour wait, they suggested that we could get a drink at the bar. Completely forgetting what I had given up for Lent, I decided to have a beer while I passed the time.

Oops.

But after paying $5.00 for what I am pretty sure is the Italian version of Budweiser, I’m pretty sure that still counts as a penance.

— 2 —

Which makes me wonder if I should be giving up alcohol for Lent anyway. I don’t miss it all that much, and I do find a beer or glass of wine makes an evening out go a lot smoother. Has anyone given up giving up something for Lent when it just doesn’t have any spiritual benefits or otherwise seems pointless?

Anyone have an experience with un-giving up something for Lent?

— 3 —

But if I give up giving up alcohol, I have to pick something up. I am thinking about going to Daily Mass once a week. I went on Ash Wednesday (who didn’t?) and I was also able to go yesterday.

The best times for me to go are on Wednesday at 8:30 AM at my daughters’ school OR at Thursday 5:15 PM at my home parish.

Either way, Daily Mass is a different experience than Sunday Mass. School masses are unique on their own. The students sit with their classes, except that the kindergartners sit with the fifth graders. The older students are role models to teach the little ones how to behave. It is this sense of community and service that is the biggest difference between Catholic school and public school.

Non-student masses, like at my home parish, have their own unique character. Daily Mass is in the old chapel, with it’s pre-Vatican II art and architecture. It has all the old “Catholic” stuff: Statues, stained glass, and iconographic stations of the cross on the walls. Sunday mass is in the utilitarian modernist Church building which has absolutely no redeeming aesthetic or spiritual value.

The Catholic Church once made her priests take an Oath Against Modernism. It is a shame she did not require the same from her architects.

By Let Ideas Compete. Some rights reserved.

The old chapel (1935). The new church (1979) is in the background on the left.

But what stands out the most about Daily Mass is that because it’s not an obligation, it has a very different feel than the “here comes everybody” that is Sunday worship. People are there because they want to be there (with the possible exception of some of the students). It’s not just the devout either: I’ve seen non-Catholics, “bad” Catholics (including myself), and people in all stages of their spiritual journey. Everyone is seeking something and, daily mass isn’t a bad place for seekers.

— 4 —

When we went out on our date at the Italian restaurant, I noticed that many of the patrons were enjoying the seafood specials or the many delicious meatless pasta dishes.

Which makes me wonder: Is this defeating the purpose of Lent? By eating better than we normally were if we were not supposed to be in a penitential season?

Or is this completely within the the spirit of Lent? That we make the best of what we have instead of bemoaning what is not available?

Put another way, is learning to appreciate what we have and making the most of it consistent with the sacrificial spirit of the season? I think so. Making the best of what’s around is how we avoid “fasting like the hypocrites”.

— 5 —

I got into a recent conflict online about Catholic homeschooling.

Don’t get me wrong, homeschooling can be a great option for some families. It can be the best option for some families. But I don’t see it as a substitute for good Catholic schools.

I recognize that many homeschooling parents want to be able to send their children to Catholic school, but have legitimate concerns about quality and especially cost. I understand, and I agree completely. I believe those responsible for the decline, especially the clergy, will have to account to God for what they have done with the Catholic school system. But I see “Catholic homeschooling” as a symptom of the problem—a reaction to what is wrong with the Catholic school system—rather than a true solution. To rebuild the Catholic Church will require rebuilding our Catholic schools.

— 6 —

On my twitter feed, I have noticed several people passing the hashtag #sellingsickness.

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Basically, the United States health care system is a for-profit, fee for service model. Which means that there is a conflict of interest in the system between selling you healthcare and getting you well.

While I do understand the value of modern medicine, I am also aware of its limits. The body is a system, which means that if you take medicine to change the functioning of one system, you may be changing far more than you intended.

Personally, I have found that many kinds of medicine make me feel worse than the illness. Eating well, exercising, and living a psychologically healthy lifestyle will do far more for your health than taking the latest pill.

— 7 —

While most people are interested in who will be the next pope, I don’t think enough attention has been paid to the name he will choose.

My money is on Pope Paul VII. I don’t think we will see a Benedict XVII and it’s still a bit soon for a John Paul III. John XXIV is a long shot. Leo XIV is a good dark horse candidate. Of course, a Pius XIII would be sending a very strong message about the direction of the Church, which is why I doubt we will see one.

On that note, Pat Archibold at National Catholic Register has a bit of advice for the future Holy Father for a few names to avoid.

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/pat-archbold/7-names-the-new-pope-should-avoid

I don’t know, maybe a Pope Lando or a Pope Luke is just what the Church needs…

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – Volume 6

— 1 —

My daughters started Catholic school this week. This means that I have to get up early and drive them 30 minutes to school, which means my morning commute goes from 15 minutes to 50 minutes.

But they absolutely love it, they are learning a lot more than they did in public school. Most importantly, they are gaining an appreciation for the faith, which they hadn’t shown before. So, I would say it’s time and money well spent.

— 2 —

My post to change the conversation on sex has created a lot of conversations about sex. I have learned a lot from everyone: Catholics and Protestants, those who agree with me and those who don’t. I would like to thank everyone for keeping the conversation productive and civil.

I am currently drafting a “here’s what I learned post” that will probably be posted to the Real Catholic Love and Sex blog with a link from here.

— 3 —

Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the Pope has resigned.

In all the media surrounding Benedict XVI, I realized that I had not fully appreciated his three encyclicals: God is Love, Saved By Hope, and Charity in Truth.  I look forward to his upcoming reflection on faith.

These are perhaps the best explanation of the Christian message I have ever read. So if you haven’t read them, go do so!

— 4 —

I heard an excellent recommendation to let your friends and family pick what you will give up for lent. They probably know what you really need to give up and perhaps don’t want to.

For me, my daughters decided that I should give up alcohol. Perhaps it was the way they said it that was the most convincing: “You should give up beer for lent. You drink it all the time.” “Daddy, please stop drinking alcohol.”

I’m not an alcoholic, I promise! But its something to give up for lent.

— 5 —

The children wanted to give up schoolwork and chores, which, of course, never works. But I did talk K into giving up all housework after 9:00PM.

You see, she likes having a neat house and she likes doing things her way, so she spends all evening cleaning up from dinner and the day and is exhausted by the end of it. By giving up housework in the late evenings for lent, this makes her let things go or delegate them (i.e. ask me to do them). Net result: A less tired wife and more time for us.

— 6 —

We are doing Valentines Day today. It’s a weekend, we have childcare, the restaurants are less crowded. No meat, but we were probably going to have pasta or seafood anyway.

And unlike yesterday, the charts are in our favor. 😉

That’s one of the “hidden benefits” of NFP. You learn to adapt and not put so much pressure on one specific date.

— 7 —

Because not being so concerned about dates can work well for you. Today, February 15,  is what we like to call National Chocoholics Day. It’s the day when all the Valentines Day candy goes on sale. So, if you haven’t given it up for lent, go buy yourself some discounted chocolates.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!