Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Consumer Dating: Should Catholics Marry Young?

Should Catholics Marry Young? YES!!! Over at the National Catholic Register and Creative Minority Report, Pat Archbold is asking this question. He sees the trend to marry later in life as an extension of the narcissism of immaturity, and dangerous for the development of the love of God necessary for marriage. Having married late. I have to agree.

This weekend we celebrate our 13th anniversary and my 48th birthday. I don't dwell on my years as a single person much. They were markedly lonely years for me and for my husband. Now as my son begins to talk about girls (saying things like, "I know there's something special about her for me because it's really hard to talk when she's around.") I hope to teach him to accept the love God sends to his life at the time he is most prepared to develop fidelity to that love. For that reason I do not discourage a crush he has had since kindergarten on a sweet little girl.

I work with college students, meeting about 100 young men and women on the cusp of their adulthood. It would be in their best interests to take dating more seriously at a younger age. The shop-around culture turns relationships into consumerism. Everyone becomes nothing more than their parts, a check-list of attributes, with the non-negotiable items that may be as shallow as good hair. The wise ones see more deeply into the soul of the person with whom they are developing a relationship. The slow ones, like me, keep looking for the greener pastures, and if we're lucky, God knocks us over the head before it is too late.

I met my husband on the first anniversary of my Grandma's death. I believe he was a gift from her. I pray in gratitude everyday for her intervention.

Before that I was definitely into the consumer culture of narcissistic dating. Comparison shopping of persons is dehumanizing on every level. It can start in the dating world and lead to the determination of gender and other attributes of children. If you don't like the child you get, because it's 'defective' or may be the 3rd girl when you wanted a boy, you could abort it. If the spouse you chose, or rather the one God gave you, is not what you imagined with your check-list in hand, you can divorce that one and re-enter the dating market. Do it online and you can reduce your shopping time.

This consumer attitude is not new. In The Country Wife by William Wycherley, his anti-hero Horner states, "For marriage is but a bargain made, to further the interests of commerce and trade." This iconic line of the Restoration drama of England is representative of the decadence of the royal classes. It is representative of the hook-up culture of Tom Wolfe's Charlotte Simmons. The difference between the two time periods is the wealth of our times. Even the 'poor' of our country can whoop it up with a non-committal fling because the birth control is free or discounted through government funding of Planned Parenthood.

I know these seem like big leaps. But the truth is that consumerism has replaced the fundamental faith of our fathers. Many people really do believe that you can spend your way out of debt. After all, "You have to spend money to make money." Right?

Translate that to the marriage market. You spend your self to make your... home? marriage? love? Instead that consumer attitude just seems to gnaw away pieces of soul. Only a gift from God can provide the re-growth.

Wouldn't it be better to avoid the damage in the first place? If taking yourself off the market earlier is the answer, because like me you didn't have the strength to avoid being damaged goods, then do it. Marry early. Strengthen your soul in its union to another. Parents and teachers should encourage young men and women to be thinking about the consumer metaphors placed on their persons. We did abolish slavery. We can stop selling ourselves again.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Some Great Books for Kids

Some Great Books for Kids

Some Great Books for Kids

As a homeschooling Mom of a 10 year-old boy, I struggle with finding books.  I can go to Adoremus books on line or in town, and everything looks good, but then I bring them home and they disappoint. 

It's my fault.  I love buying books.  The libraries hate me because I have a horrible tendency to pay no attention to due dates.  I'm also a bit rough with them, taking them with me to the zoo, pool, reading while cooking or eating...  I know I've touched it if there is coffee or pizza sauce spilled on it.

This week my son and I took a long walk through Adoremus, led by a college aged girl who had been home-schooled.  We looked inside of everything, and after much discussion finally came away with some books we really love.

For the past two years, we've been hit and miss, taking advice from other families.  One of the reasons people home-school is to be able to choose curriculum.  We received great advice, but the texts didn't necessarily fit with how my son, or I, think.  And that's key to educational success.  When I teach on the college level, I am sure to offer all important material in at least 3 different ways.  That way I know most of my students will get it on some level.

At home, I've been reading The Trivium by Sister Miriam Joseph, C.S.C., Ph.D.  I thought I would write a classical curriculum for my son based on her book.  Then I found the writings of Susan Wise Bauer.  She's done the work, and done it better than I ever could have by myself.  Her history books (linked through amazon above, but buy them from the Catholic home-school family at Adoremus if you can, and no they don't pay me for advertising) are so well written, real history in story form, but not light weight at all.  When your son is excitedly critiquing the Code of Hammurabi, you know you've found a great book.

We also found a newer series of mysteries for his age level. by Diane Ahern.  The first is called Lost in Peter's Tomb.  She had James by the second paragraph.

We've also been amazed at the vocabulary growth from the English From the Roots Up flash cards.  This series teaches Latin and Greek words, and the English words that come from them.

Having finished the Baltimore Catechism, we are now switching to the Faith and Life Series from Ignatius Press.  We will supplement that with The Book of Saints and Heroes by Andrew and Lenora Lang.

Lastly we chose Saxon Math and Spectrum Science.

I'd love to know if you have any other suggestions, and clearly want to recommend these choices to you. I also want to make a request.  If any of you sit on the boards of Catholic schools, could you recommend these selections to them?  Scholastic book sales fill our Catholic schools with books of spurious merit.  Catholic schools frequently have to contract with public school districts to get a break on books.  If they could just get the support to choose better books, the Catholic schools could be unstoppable.  Check out these books, compare them with what your child is reading at his/her school, and you will see what I mean.

Again, any suggestions?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Responding to Father Corapi, Another Open Letter

Dear Father Corapi,

In your recent audio announcing your plans to become the 'blacksheepdog' you say that all things change, only God stays the same.  You also express gratitude for the gift you have been given of the last 20 years.  Those 20 years, for those who admire and follow your work, have been important in that they brought us closer to God.  If God does not change, then his call to you has not changed.  In this dark night of your priesthood, be careful not to abandon Him.

Leaving public ministry could be considered 'laying down and dying' only if you believe that is all you are called to.  As a priest, you have been called to much more than just public preaching.  Your hands have been consecrated so that you may lovingly hold the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.  You have been given the faculty to absolve sins, so that in the person of Christ, you can spread his divine Mercy.  You can baptize people into unity with Christ and his church.  You preside over the vows of Matrimony in a sacrament that is as inviolable as the vows of Holy Orders which you took.

Jesus called you in the past 20 years to speak.  Perhaps He is now testing your fortitude by calling you to silence.

I see in your choice of the Black Sheep Dog a reference to the Hound of Heaven. In Thompson's poem, the dog follows him through his dark walks in search of opium, guarding him as he tries to leave his addictions behind, and return to the Father who loves him.  Is that your plan?  Or are you running in fear from the dog, that is Jesus who wants only to lick your wounds and heal you?

Or are you uniting yourself to Christ in order to better heal the wounds of the Catholic Church by licking its wounds from the outside?

I can't help but feel that if you abandon your priesthood to continue to preach, you are ignoring God's call.  I make no mention of accusations or bishops.  None of that is at the crux of this matter. You are a priest.  You will always be a priest.  Speaking or silent, that is fundamental to who you are.

I ask you now to make the choice of Martha and Mary.  Do you keep doing, or do you listen to Jesus?

John Corapi: Special Announcement. June 17, 2011

Father Corapi has been known to say, "No Priest, No Eucharist."  I am sad and confused. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Debate Reveals More about CNN than Candidates

I did not watch the whole debate.  I forgot about it until there was only 45 minutes left.  Bachmann has clearly gained ground from it, and Romney held place.  That opinion is based on the assessment of others.  I didn't focus enough on content to come to any determination.  I was distracted.

I was distracted by the moderators ridiculous questions.  As they would cut to commercial, CNN would show questions from viewers on a screen in the hall.  Those questions deserved answers.  They were insightful and important.  The moderators questions were shallow and juvenile.  Answers didn't matter.

I was distracted by the camera angles. 

Tim Pawlenty's camera angle was designed to emphasize his forehead, make his chin look smaller, and his hair look poofy.  The overall effect was that he displayed a recessive gene from an alien as a close relative, the cosmic kind, not illegal.

Michele Bachmann's camera emphasized the fact that she was shorter than the men in a way that suggested dwarfism. They also managed to light her clothes so that what was clearly an expensive suit looked like a threadbare, clearance-rack special from Target.

Mitt Romney, was given the best treatment, which makes him the loser in my book.  If CNN makes him look good, he must be the liberal favorite.  He will not be mine.

Rick Santorum was half in the dark.  Maybe they were running out of fresnels.  It seemed obvious they didn't think him important enough for proper lighting.

Also poorly lit was Herman Cain.  They seemed to want to shoot his angle as straight on as possible to make him look like a cranky bulldog.

Newt is Newt.  They didn't have to mess with his camera.  All he needs is a microphone.

The recipient of the worst treatment of the night by the camera crews was Ron Paul.  They shot him at an angle that left one with the distinct impression of a small deformed troll with crazy eyes. He looked a little hump-backed. His eyes seemed to wander.    It would not have been surprising to hear him say, "Who's that walking on my bridge?"

Having seen all of these candidates when the cameras are kinder, I can say that none of these impressions hold true for the candidates as a whole.  What does hold true is that the liberal media knows that we react to people.  Our assessments are usually based heavily on appearance.  If they can make the field look its weakest, they can weaken our resolve to get Obama out of the White House.

So who won the debate?  The cameras.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Creative Minority Report: Palin Email: "A Down's Syndrome Baby will Expand your World"

Creative Minority Report: Palin Email: "A Down's Syndrome Baby will Expand your World"

Reading this today reminded me that my 53 year old mentally retarded brother really is a gift to our family.  I always think of him when I hear the song, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." (Which is kind of an inside joke because he's overweight and tells people he's having a baby.)  So this morning when he annoyed me by eating the last of the Cap'n Crunch, and waking my husband up to get his morning shave, I didn't get crabby.  I thought of Trig, and Pat and all of his Downs friends and thanked God.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shopping for a Right to Privacy

I went to our local Playhouse to buy tickets to a musical.  The first question out of the mouth of the box-office worker was, "What is your home phone number?"  He wanted my name, address, phone number, and email address.  Sometimes I think I can't shop anymore with out giving that much information, even for eggs and bread.  And I know it's not because I'm cute and they want to call me.

Walk with me down memory lane to 1970.  People all over the country were talking about a right to privacy.  Of course this meant that you could do whatever you wanted in the privacy of your own home (illicit drugs, perverse sex with consenting adults) and that your body was yours to do with what you will (kill your baby, commit suicide).  The greatest outside intrusion on our lives came from junk mail and unwanted radio and television commercials.

Now the right to privacy, which never existed in the first place, has been suborned to the right to be tracked for commercial purposes.  You no longer have a right to remain silent and everything you say, do, buy, watch, search for on the internet, and befriend on face-book can and will be used against your bank account by luring you into spending money you don't have.(After all, who really needs a snuggie?)

The right to privacy never existed in the first place because it is a natural road block to a healthy society.  Healthy communities have standards.  When those standards are violated, the whole community suffers.  Those who are exposed to pornography, illicit drugs and perversions in secret, are not exercising the right to privacy.  They are hiding the shame of the sinful behaviors which they know instinctively are wrong.  Shame and remorse are natural emotions in everyone but sociopaths.

Parents sometimes create a breeding pool for secretive behavior by allowing children to have unmonitored televisions and computers in their rooms.  Would Anthony Wiener have tweeted his smaller self if his wife or mother could have walked into the room at any moment?

Looking back to where this started, the right to privacy protects the drug-users, perverts and those who have habits they wish to keep secret, but invades the privacy of the average Midwestern mom looking to buy dog food at the local Petco.  Everywhere I go,  "Have you shopped with us before?  May I have your phone number?"  All I wanted was theater tickets for my Dad for Father's Day.  I don't want a long-term relationship with the local playhouse. Besides they are down the street about 2 blocks.  I can walk down and ask.

The irony is that everyone has my information, and I have nothing to hide.  Those who hide their information or troll the internet using false identities have everything to hide.  I want some privacy.  But the only way to get it back is to increase respect for others and encourage a broader sense of shame for those who practice illicit behaviors. You want privacy?  Stop asking for my information.  I'm sure this will destroy the jobs of marketers and data entry clerks around the country.  Given the oversexed, tawdry nature of most advertising, the marketing crowd won't understand this article anyway.

Respect for others and a healthy sense of shame...  Imagine how those could change our world.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

From CMR:Protestors Disrupt Special Olympics

Creative Minority Report: Protestors Disrupt Special Olympics

These Are Not the Candidates You are Looking For...

Yes that is a Star Wars reference.  Yes I mean the Jedi Mind Trick. And yes, I'm talking about the people whose names always top the list in national polls about GOP Candidates.  I will now list the candidates who should drop out so that their money can be used to elect the real nominee:

  1. Newt Gingrich  has too much baggage.  No Tea Party people will accept him.  His time is done.
  2. Gary Johnson because his manner will be perceived as weak, and his libertarian views are too purist for cultural conservatives.
  3.  Ron Paul is too isolationist in his foreign policy to be taken seriously by many mainstream conservatives.  He has more of a chance than the previous two.
  4. Tim Pawlenty, yawn... (Update:  Pawlenty on Cavuto just scolded those who want an entertainer in chief.  He has experience, he's unfolding plans...)
  5. Mitt Romney, not only has Romney-care, but he was also governor when Boston's Catholic Charities closed their adoption program rather than provide children to homosexual couples and individuals.  He presided over the fiscal and moral funeral of Massachusetts, even though he may not have caused the death.  I have a hard time believing any serious conservative would even consider him.
  6. Michele Bachmann is needed in the House.  She could be Speaker some day.
  7. Rudy Giuliani has no cultural conservative chops.  After Wiener, we should not consider anyone who can't speak with some moral sense if not authority.
  8. Lindsey Graham is the definition of a RINO.
  9. Sarah Palin should raise funds for candidates, but not be one herself.  I don't think she really wants it.  But keeping her name out there is good for the kind of work she's good at.  She keeps the others honest,  and shows the absurdity of liberal feminists.  
Now for the candidates we should be looking for in no particular order.:

  • Rick Santorum.  
  • Herman Cain
  • Allen West
  • Paul Ryan
  • Rick Perry
  • John Bolton
And once the field is set, maybe the candidates should agree to serve in the cabinet of the nominee  in whatever capacity is his/her forte. 

Could we work together to show libs how it's done?  The right way?