Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Echoes of Christendom

I spoke to a young lady a few days ago who described herself as a "housewife."

How nice, I thought. Not enough people deem the term usable anymore.

Then she went on to refer to her relationship with her boyfriend.

So, she ain't married, but she's a housewife?

Christendom is best defined as "the Christian world." Christian values - such as marriage - have shaped Western culture in nearly every aspect of its current incarnation. Christianity has inspired forays into science, exploration, technology, literature, art... you can name almost any topic, and the fingerprints of the Church can be found on it.

Yet it's no secret that Christendom is less and less a factor in the world of today. The Christian world is dying, and this is to our detriment as a species. What will replace it? Either barbarism, or fanaticism: those three have long been locked in battle. But barbarism and fanaticism aren't each other's enemies, at least not when the Church is alive and kicking. They are our dual enemy, and they are allies.

Of course, we know the Church isn't going anywhere. The promise of God assures us of that. Yet when God is despised instead of clung to, all the consequences are bad. It is Christianity that has given us the notion of peace, that world leaders cling to today. Christianity has given us true charity, true hope, true virtue, and the modern world still resounds with the concepts of these divine truths. Yet the echo is somewhat empty, robbed of a power and richness and spirit which cannot be breathed back in by mortal man, no matter how many U.N. Resolutions are made in the effort.

In Upon This Rock G. K. Chesterton noted, regarding the Protestant reformers who got rid of the Sacrament of Confession:

...the people who abolished it a few centuries ago found that they had to invent a new imitation of it a few years ago. They told the people to go to a new priest, often without credentials, and make confession generally without absolution, and they called it psychoanalysis.

This is one more example of a fact divorced from the truth. Chesterton defined a sacrament by stating [ibid], "certain material acts are mystical acts; are events in the spiritual world." Yet when the spiritual world is denied, and when its connection to the material world is ignored, we end up with these empty echoes of Christendom, reminding us of our past; of the Truth we have shut out.

The world is full of other examples - I see this especially when studying the Theology of the Body, which explains how human identity and sexuality are wrapped in sacramental symbolism, reflecting the nature of God. Yet sex is more violently profaned than anything in our society. This is the work of the enemy, no doubt.

The Church will survive. The Culture of Death will, not ironically, die. That's one reason I love large Catholic families - we will be around to fill the void with the Gospel of Life.

But what a tragic way to get there. Lord, help us win back this dying world.
True, True, True #9

An interesting point made by Diogenes today: "It's easier to get hold of a shepherd's crook than a flock."

He's talking about the trend among mainstream Protestant churches that ordain women, but can more easily find homes for them in professorships or episcopal chairs than as actual pastorettes. Seems the parishioners just don't turn out for the ladies.

A good read - check it out.

Reminds me of what an old friend once cautioned me when I was considering becoming a pastor as a Protestant myself: "There are many people who aren't called to the ministry, but go anyway."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Parenting Lesson #1: Do Not Correct Your Child's Funny Mistakes

My five year old yesterday, having recently watched Disney's Pocahontas, commented to me, "Daddy, Pocahontas' daddy said she speaks with a wisdom behind her ears."

If you don't get it, say it out loud. Still no? Say it again.

If you still don't get it, the actual quote is, "My daughter speaks with a wisdom beyond her years."

I couldn't bear to break it to her. When she asked why I was ROTFLMAO I said that she was just so cute I couldn't help it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Testimony

This time yesterday, I was in a miserable mood. I won't explain the full details, but I was angry, lonely, sad, the whole gamut of negative emotions.

Fortunately, I was able to refrain from doing anything stupid.

I didn't feel like praying, so I prayed. I had no words of my own, so I used the ones in the Liturgy of the Hours. My misery was significant enough throughout the day that I was able to spread it out for both mid-day prayer,

More tortuous than all else is the human heart,
beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the Lord, alone probe the mind
and test the heart
To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds.

Jer. 17:9-10


and night prayer:

When I call, answer me, O God of justice;
from anguish you released me; have mercy and hear me!

from Psalm 4


Today, of course, things are much better. On bad days one tends to think the bad-ness of the day will never end; in a way, one may even wish to hold on to it.

But God is good, and he answers prayer. He knows the torment of my heart, and he has mercy and hears me.

Thanks, God.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Only Question Is...

Who measures?
Big Mixup

According to the emails I've been getting lately, I have ordered the following items:

  • premium replica watches
  • a free email account
  • a satellite dish card
  • a product called VIAGR*

I certainly don't recall placing those orders. The people are very bad at spelling, too. So here's a list of all those individuals who can't use the English language properly, and are getting me mixed up with somebody else who orders crap like this.

  • Scott Micaela
  • Lesa Pa
  • Cathie Rafaela
  • Sherell Shaquana
  • Rafaela Iola
  • Casey Gross
  • Magaly Randa
  • Blanca Candi
  • Alton Ott
  • Alyce Hutton
  • Stefany Jerilyn
  • Salvatore Cornell
  • Levi Thorne
  • Janae Camille
  • Lucinda Gagnon
  • Kirby Keva
  • Susanne Hall
  • Madison Carroll
  • Jarred Winters
  • Sharlene Owen
  • Marlana Bettie
  • Vince Freeman
  • Carletta Leesa
  • Jamel Helms
Sigh. In the words of Monty Python's Vikings:



Lovely spam, wonderful spa-a-m,
Lovely spam, wonderful S Spam,
Spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-am,
Spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-am,
SPA-A-A-A-A-A-A-AM,
SPA-A-A-A-A-A-A-AM,
LOVELY SPAM, LOVELY SPAM,
LOVELY SPAM, LOVELY SPAM,
LOVELY SPA-A-A-A-AM...
SPA-AM, SPA-AM, SPA-AM, SPA-A-A-AM!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Happy Birthday to my Blog

Today is the one-year anniversay of this blog. So much has happened; I've gone from a boring format to a really cool green one (yay green!), I've learned a bit about HTML, thus all the neat links off to the side (check 'em out, they're worth it), I've become a Wikipedia contributor (ok, once, but it still counts), I've got two other sub-blogs tied to this one, I've been linked to by the mighty Small Dead Animals and The Curt Jester, I've engaged in debates with people from around the country, and in some cases, around the world. This will be my 176th post (making it one post every 2.07 days on average), and since I started tracking site visits in May I've had over 1800 visitors - about 20 per day now. [As my brother-in-law once pointed out, since my blog is my homepage, a good portion of those visitors is just me stroking my ego.]

But check out this map of the locations of my most recent 100 visitors. Yes, I have family in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and many good friends in Ontario. But who the heck are all those Yanks?

I'm not trying to toot my own horn. I'm just impressed at how connections can happen over this new medium called the interwhatchamacallit.

So as I embark on a whole new year of posts, I pledge to you, my dear, earnest readers, to keep expanding on this virtual communion, and never to lose sight of the real communion I have behind and without it.

God bless you all!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Happy Hailstone (A Children's Story)

[based on actual events]

Once upon a time there was a sad, lonely hailstone in an angry storm cloud. He was sad and lonely because he was the very first hailstone queued up to fall out of the cloud, and there was nobody around to talk to because all of the other hailstones were behind him. As we all know, hailstones' faces are on their fronts, and never on their backs.

He waited and waited for the storm cloud to burst. It seemed like it would never happen. Finally, one day, the wind got stronger, the air got more electric, and the cloud let out a big belch of lightning - the storm had arrived!

The little hailstone was pushed out of the cloud as fast as a rocket. He fell and fell, and got scared, because he saw the ground getting closer and closer and he knew that when he hit, it would hurt a LOT.

He saw that he was heading for a beach, and hoped he would hit the soft sand, but then a gust of wind blew him more inland, and he saw that he was going to hit the roof of a house! Ooh! How very painful it would be!

So he strained his little hailstone body (as only hailstones know how to do) to try to miss the house and land on the grass instead. The ground sped closer and closer.

But he saw he was not going to hit the grass, and would instead hit the wooden deck beside the house. He started to panic.

Suddenly, a somewhat frumpy man, dressed only in red swimming shorts, knelt down on the deck and began to wash sand off his feet with a garden hose. Before the hailstone knew it, he had landed on the soft, cushy back-flesh of the bent-over man, which had tremendous shock-absorbing ability. The happy hailstone bounced gleefully off the man's back and onto the soft grass, intact as the day he was formed.

The man (whose name was Doogie) yelped and said, "That's going to leave a welt!"

The hailstone only smiled, and began to meditate on how God had protected him from a hard landing.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Halfway Down the Fuse

The indomitable Christopher West once commented that he wanted to be the spark that lit the fuse on what George Weigel called "a timebomb": John Paul II's Theology of the Body reflections.

Accordingly, he has jumped into the late Pope's pontifications on the subject with a profound zeal.

To sum up the Pope's teachings is difficult. Weigel, JPII's biographer and a prominent theologian in his own right, said the pope's lessons would affect "virtually every major theme in the Creed."

Recently I've jumped in to that pool as well, and am seeing what Weigel meant. If you want to gain an understanding of what the Theology of the Body is, think of this: Take Creation, the Incarnation, the Trinity, the mystical meaning of marriage, the dignity of the human person, the splendid complementarity between the sexes, the marriage act itself, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the Eucharist. Jam them all together in a way where each one is connected to the other on 7 different planes of profundity, and you'll just begin to scratch the scratch on the surface of this new perspective on our faith that Christopher West has summarized.

It's that deep. And it's set to explode in the coming generations, bringing in a Culture of Life.

My wife and I will be giving a talk on ToTB Saturday at a Singles For Christ conference. It's going to be challenging, as we don't pretend to have any sort of a full understanding of the concept, but we hope we can present the message with enough clarity to generate some interest in more in-depth studies.

Please pray for us and our work in this important mission.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Bad Life

The question has arisen: Is it not right to abort a child who would otherwise be born into a life of hardship and suffering?

There are many ways to answer this, but the Internet only has 2,500,000,000,000,000ish bytes of storage capacity, and I'd use it all and more were I to jump into a fully expounded treatise on the errors of that argument.

Plus I'd bore people, and probably crash Blogger. So I'll cram this sliver of truth into a smallish nutshell.

Let me start by saying that I acknowledge abortion is rarely - if ever - an easy decision. It's an unpleasant experience, no matter how like a cosmetic procedure Planned Parenthood tries to present it. Usually bad circumstances lead women to believe there are no other options. I sympathize with every woman in that position, and offer the following statements in tender, if blunt, charity:
  1. There is no guarantee that a life, however unfortunate its origins, will be one of suffering.
  2. There is no guarantee that a life, however fortunate its origins, will be one of pleasure.
  3. There is no need for the birth mother to keep custody of the child, if she feels the child's development would be harmed by the mother's lifestyle.
  4. There is no need for the birth mother to keep custody of the child, if she feels the child will interfere with her own lifestyle.
  5. Generally speaking, abortion is a symptom of a larger, more substantial societal problem: sexual immorality.
  6. Generally speaking, the chain of events that lead to an abortion are not reduced to a single choice; several bad choices are made along the way.
  7. Margaret Sanger, the foundress of Planned Parenthood, intended primarily to reduce the population of non-whites. Her association with eugenicists and racists is well known.
  8. Margaret Sanger, one of eleven children, "associated poverty, toil, unemployment, drunkenness, cruelty, quarreling, fighting, debts, [and] jails with large families." [ibid]
  9. She was wrong. Those things happen to almost everybody.
  10. Human life begins at some point. Call it a fertilized ovum, a zygote, an embryo, or a fetus: it is still a human. It is not a coyote, not a penguin, not a stegosaurus.
  11. If you don't define the beginning of human life as at conception, there is no other logical point at which to define it.
  12. If human life begins at conception, then it must be valued and defended as the life of any extra-uteral human. [I thought I just invented that word, but I see I didn't.]
  13. If an extra-uteral human has his or her bodily functions brought to a halt by the direct actions of another human, it's called killing.
  14. Killing another human is justified in some circumstances, such as self-defense or the defense of another.
  15. Saint Gianna Molla (the only Saint I've ever seen a colour photo of) died in 1962 after discovering she had uterine cancer - while pregnant - and refused to abort her child to save herself. Spend some time on that site - verrrrrrrrry cool stuff.
  16. If killing is done directly and intentionally, it's called murder.
  17. Everything from a fertilized ovum and up is human. Intentionally and directly killing an intra-uteral human is murder.
  18. "One may not do evil so that good may result from it."
  19. All sins, including murder, can be forgiven.
  20. Jesus wants you to be freed from your sins, but that involves being made aware of them first.
That's about as plain as I can make it.

Again, let me state I'm not judging anyone; I'm not in a position to do so, and daren't presume that I could judge well if I were. What I am stating is the belief of the Church: Truth revealed through Christ.

If you refuse to believe the Truth, well, OK. Go nuts. But I invite you to sample the real freedom and peace that come through Christ, through living his Truth. There's nothing like it.

You'll never go back.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

This Just In #6:*
Stephen Harper Endorses Killing Kittens


So I held a conference on the weekend in protest against the brutal act of putting kittens in blenders. Innumerable other people showed up [hehe], but although I invited Prime Minister Harper, he didn't attend.

I wondered why at first, but then I realized - he hates kittens.

I did some digging, and was astonished to find this picture:

Notice he's gesturing with his left hand, pointing away from what he's doing with his right hand:

Instead, he sent the Minster of Hugging Puppies to my conference. That was insulting.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Random Impact

I was floored tonight to receive an email from Jim Davis, a fellow I wrote about in a Mar 2/06 piece. His son was killed in Afghanistan.

I won't divulge the details of the message, but I'll sum it up by saying he was touched by what I wrote.

Years ago, in my hometown of Estevan, Saskatchewan, I recall reading a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about the state of our mall's parking lot.

Yes, the town is so small it has one mall. And the parking lot was a horrible mess. Cracked, sunken pavement, broken curbs - it was very difficult to drive in.

The letter to the Estevan Mercury was written by a couple of American tourists who, if memory serves, suffered some damage to their motorhome by driving through the parking lot and promised never to come back to Estevan. And they promised to tell their friends.

The city erupted in sorrow. Everybody tore their robes and clothed themselves in sackcloth and dumped ashes on their heads. Well, OK, it wasn't quite like that, but a certain sense of shame did fill the town - this letter was the talk of coffee shops for months.

The mall's management, spurred to action by the embarrassment, took out a loan and got the parking lot - which is quite large - redone.

One man. One letter. One stamp.

A city in shame. Acres of new asphalt.

Mr. Davis' email reminded me of this mysterious phenomenon - that one person can have a random impact in events around him. Sometimes your impact is minor; other times it's massive. This really hammers home how important it is to live holy lives, all the time - what you do does have ripple effects, even if you don't always see the effects.

That's why I blog. I have a message, and I have a gift for writing; now I have a medium which can take my voice across the world.

And it touches real people.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Fun With Daddy

Here's the fruition of a project I undertook with my eldest daughter while on vacation.


Weeee!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Incredulity of Fr. Nolen

Our church gets our weekly bulletins from Liguori Press, which carries a Dear Padre column by Fr. Joseph Nolen, a Redemptorist priest. Usually he's got some keen insights into the questions asked, but I nearly turned inside-out when I read this question, and his answer:

I think celibacy is the cause of a lot of the problems with the priests. If they didn't have to be celibate they could be more faithful as priests. Do you think the bishops will ever realize this? - Bob H.

Dear Bob,
[...]
I have no personal objection to married clergy, but that decision is for the pope and bishops to make....


In fairness, I've omitted much of what Fr. Nolen said which wasn't objectionable, as I only take issue with his opinion on where the decision lies.

When Pope Paul VI wrote Sacerdotalis Caelibatus in 1967, he did so to "[set] forth anew, and in a way more suited to the men of our time, the fundamental reasons for sacred celibacy."

Where does he go for his answers? He had "over a considerable period of time earnestly implored the enlightenment and assistance of the Holy Spirit and have examined before God opinions and petitions which have come to Us from all over the world, notably from many pastors of God's Church."

So instead of just making a decision, he gets his answer from God.

And the answer?

The Church proclaims her hope in Christ; she is conscious of the critical shortage of priests when compared with the spiritual necessities of the world's population; but she is confident in her expectation which is founded on the infinite and mysterious power of grace, that the high spiritual quality of her ministers will bring about an increase also in their numbers, for everything is possible to God.


Sounds to me like he wasn't worried.

I would postulate that the last thing we need to do to encourage vocations in our over-sexed society is to allow priests to have sex. We want priests who will hear a hard call; who will answer a massive challenge. We want priests who will joyfully submit to the authority of the Church, not question her at every turn. We want priests who will be as contrasting to the world around them as Christ was in his own day.

Thus, entry to the priesthood should remain a difficult thing, one which requires immense personal sacrifice.

When universities lower their entry requirements, you know what happens? The students are dumber. Same thing with priests: if we "relax" the "restrictions" placed on the clergy, we encourage men of lesser moral substance to sign up. If anything, the Church should make it harder.

Like I've argued before, it's quality - not quantity - that matters.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Change Management 101

Years ago, when my brother Ben and I were 16 and 17, respectively, we were constantly fighting over use of our parents' old 1981 Reliant K-Car station wagon. The dispute usually arose over who had put gas in it more recently and therefore had primary driving rights.

Ben was always a car guy, and he knows more about what goes on under the hood than I could ever hope to know. So one day he decided to use his knowledge for evil. He disabled something so that I could not start the car.

I was furious. I had places to go, people to see... and I was probably even more angry that he had outsmarted me. I could not let that go unanswered.

So I hoisted the car up, took off two tires, and hid them.

I was very proud of my ingenuity. I learned a lesson that day: if you can't adapt yourself to the situation, adapt the situation to yourself.

Wow, did that lesson ever screw me over.

Now I find that when I'm confronted with situation I can't handle, I change the situation instead of changing me. This has had rather unfortunate ramifications; for instance, if there's a task I can't complete at work, I'll frequently just leave it for someone else to do, rather than dive in and learn as I go. If I'm stressed out about family life, I'll bury myself into computer games or books or anything, just to avoid having to grow into a better husband and father.

It's only occurred to me recently that this is rather unhealthy behaviour.

Um, God? Help.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

This Is Broken

One of the advantages of working for a huge multinational corporation - if there are any - is that we get to partake of some often lucrative discounts with major retailers.

Like this one, with Office Depot. My kids' school has a financial partnership with them, where the school gets a portion of the profit on all items purchased there. So when I saw the discount program on our corporate intranet for Office Depot, I was excited.

The details on the program didn't indicate how much the discount was, so I checked their website while logged in under my company's id. Then I checked the website as an anonymous user, which would have no discounts visible.

I was rather puzzled to discover that every item I found was the same price in both views.

Except this pack of pencils. What's wrong with this picture?



That's some discount.

Check out http://www.thisisbroken.com/ for more of the same type of stuff.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006