Strep Throat

Well, Robert Burn’s Poem Ode to a Mouse once more is shown true in my life! I planned and planned to attend a wonderful Society for Creative Anachronism event this Saturday and now there is Strep Throat making the rounds of our family. Color me disappointed.

“The best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray”

yeah, Burns nailed it.

Have a Blessed Easter Weekend everyone.

Dear Lord, thank you for the general good health of this family and for medication that makes illness not as bad as it could be. Please help us not to spread it anywhere and soon to be well! +Amen.

Why I Am Pro-Life

I am Pro-Life because I hold firmly the principle of non-aggression. Abortion is an act of aggression against a living person in a womb. Two reasons given for this act of aggression being allowed are “it is my body” and “it is an act of aggression against me that this person co-opted my womb.”  I disagree. An act of aggression can only be committed by a person free to choose to do otherwise and the embryo has no choice in the matter of where he or she ends up. In this, the embryo in your womb is more victim than aggressor.

In my mind, “it is my body” is like saying “it is my apartment” and the whole embryo as aggressor thing simply fails logic. Here is why:

Pregnancy is the result of the reproductive act. The reproductive act is like kidnapping in that the person in your womb is there because you did the act that put him there. Abortion is like you and a partner kidnapping a man off the street, tying him up in your apartment, then you shoot him for being there. Even rape is no excuse where you are forced at gun-point to kidnap a man and tie him up in your apartment and then you shoot the kidnaping victim for being in your apartment when the rapist is the criminal.

Might as well let you know up front that even if I was not already pro-life because I hold to the principle of non-aggression, I would be pro-life because I am Catholic. I hold all the points in Humanae vitae  and Evangelium vitae to be true. Go read them, then look at the date on Humanae vitae and get goose bumps because it is prophetic!

Dear Lord, thank You for the secular principle of non-aggression and the teachings of the Catholic Church, both of which are pro-life. Help all persons to think it though and be saved. +Amen.

Same Data, Different Conclusion

Two women were studying the dispute between the Orthodox and the Catholic on the proper role of the Bishop of Rome.  They read the same history, often from the same books. They read the arguments for both rejection of Papal authority and the arguments in favor of Papal authority. They agreed that the extreme authoritarianism practiced by some Popes was not an essential component of the Primacy of Rome. They agreed that the early Church exhibited an attitude honoring Rome in a special way. Both found Pope Francis’s approach to the Papacy refreshing and much more the way it appeared to have been in the early Church.

Taking it all, the writings of the Early Church Fathers, history, arguments from both sides, and all the rest.

Praying diligently to understand and follow the will of God rather than her own will.

Loving Jesus above all else.

One became Orthodox, convinced that to accept the Papacy was wrong.

One became Catholic, convinced that to reject the Papacy was wrong.

So it is with people a good bit of the time and so it is why a saint like Saint Josemaria Escriva refused to discuss politics.  His focus was on the formation of the Catholic. Teaching on faith and morals and urging every Catholic to seek holiness in their everyday lives. This meant that the individual needed to apply Catholic teaching to his own life. Each individual needed to seek to do her daily work in such a way that she sanctified it and it sanctified her.

This meant that between Catholics there might be very different opinions on how best to live out the teachings of Catholicism.  St. Josemaria insisted that everyone respect the freedom of conscience of everyone else.  Focus in Opus Dei had to be on the specific teachings, the precepts, and on internalizing them, allowing Church teaching, daily prayer, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and Mass (daily if possible) form your conscience according to the plan of God and then going out into the world and applying all to your specific life and career.

Dear Lord, please help all Christians to understand that forming our consciences according to Church teaching is very important, and that even when two people agree on all points, they may very well conclude differently.  Please help each person seek to become holy. +Amen.

 

Dogma vs the merely political

I recently had a conversation with a fellow Catholic whose understanding of the teachings of the Church was in error on a very important point. Catholics do not have to treat opinions as dogmas. Nor do we have to adhere to the political positions of the Vatican STATE which has secular functions. Catholics are obliged to adhere to the teachings of the Catholic church on issues of Faith and Morals. Dogmas and doctrines deal with these issues. Personal opinions and political agreements do not.

For example, even if I did not already oppose abortion based on the principle of non-aggression, I would oppose it on the basis of the Catholic teaching that it is morally wrong.

So back to yesterday’s discussion.

It was a political discussion. My conversational companion insisted that her political positions were a matter of faith and that if I did not agree with her that I was against Catholic teaching, and she posted a link to a vatican document.

Her argument was that because the Vatican, a sovereign nation in its own right, and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) had talked and agreed on certain points that all Catholics are obligated to support the creation of a Palestinian state. This is simply not true.

In the interest of fairness, I went and read the document again and noted several things:

    • This is a political document.
    • This was not a dogmatic or doctrinal document. Dogmas are teachings Catholics are obliged to accept.
    • This paper is merely a statement of talking points to which both parties agreed. I am not one of those parties.
    • I can agree with the Catholic ideals found in the statements without finding the same conclusion as my co-conversationalist.
    • Nothing in this document would make un-Catholic my conviction that a Palestinian home state would result in the people in the region being worse off than before.

For me, it would be immoral to support a separate Palestinian state when I am convinced by my reading of current events and historical precedent, that this would lead to more violence and suffering, more oppression of Christians and other minorities, and fail utterly to provide the peaceful existence proponents desire.

Further, political statements by patriarchs and bishops are not binding on the laity.  A patriarch choosing to walk everywhere and not own a car does not make my decision to own and use a car morally illicit.

We had other parts to our discussion and I am sure I will get to them eventually.

Dear Lord, please bring peace to the country of Israel. Remove the terrorists that disrupt the lives of all the peoples in that land, end the atrocities committed by all sides, and bring about peace that is just. Help all sides to forgive and work together in humility. +Amen.

Starter Book For Byzantine Studies

DAILY LIFE IN THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE by Marcus Rautman is a good starting place for anyone interested in the Byzantine Empire. Sections on every imaginable aspect of daily living can be found in this book and the author gives references for further reading by way of chapter endnotes and a Bibliography. The book includes nice clear maps, a glossary of terms, index, list of rulers and their years in power, timeline, and illustrations. Chapter titles and headings are bold and informational to make finding a specific bit of information easier for the reader.

As an over-view of life in Byzantium the book is limited in how deeply it can delve into each topic. For topics I have read about more extensively, I found this author to have given a good balanced over-view of what is known.

I highly recommend this book both for home school use (middle school or higher) and for the purposes of developing a persona to play in the Society for Creative Anachronisms.

Dear Lord, thank You for authors who write useful books for the rest of us to enjoy. +Amen.

How to Impress a Toddler #2

We were sitting in my office and the Little Crow climbed into my lap and pointed to the rain falling on the skylight and outside the window. I was snuggling him because the weather turned colder and the office was chilly. That, and I love any chance I get to cuddle my kids. I also love to sing to them.

This is what I found myself singing to the little one:

The Rain Came Down
The rain came down
the water went up into the sky
the temperature dropped
oh my oh my!
the clouds are quickly blowing by
the rain came down

Now, sing it to the tune of Three Blind Mice.

I might not have done much in the story department this week, but I am not the least bit sorry when my only writing was for my children.

Dear Lord, thank You for family and home. Thank You for music. +Amen

How to Impress a Toddler #1

Today I spent a gleeful several minutes playing with my Little Crow, who is a sporting almost 2 years old, and a 2 foot diameter heavy duty yellow exercise ball that once upon a time was taller than the child who pulled it down and rolled it over to me, a wide grin and sparkly eyes expressing joy.

I dribbled it like a basketball. Little Crow thought that was the best thing ever.

Each time I stopped, small hands thrust the ball back against my knees until I dribbled it again.

Giggles and jumping up and down in place, toddler high top hiking style shoes making wonderfully big stomping sounds on the upstairs floor. If I ever renovate, I want the ceilings insulated to get this space to be quieter. Or maybe not, the hollow sound as I walk will bring back happy memories for me.

Yeah, stompy boots and a great big ball = toddler giggles.

And I am glad I have that exercise ball after all.

Lecture Mode: A brief guide

LECTURE MODE: Everyone has met someone who gets onto their favorite subject and goes into so much detail you want to scream and run away.  Some of us share our families with people like that. In our family we have learned to laugh at what we call “LECTURE MODE”. We are all brainy, and we all tend to get into a groove with our favorite subjects, and so as a family we’ve worked on learning to control this tendency. The trick is learning to see it happening and do something to cut it off before the other person begins to look for an escape.

Lecture mode can make nearly anyone glaze over. A person who is made to glaze over will usually run away and avoid us in the future. So do we WANT to make that person glaze over? Do we WANT that person to avoid us? If the answer is yes, then go ahead and stay in Lecture Mode!

However, if you like the other person and want to spend time with them– you must learn to curb the tendency to go into LECTURE MODE.  Learning greater self control is part of developing in virtue.  We can know that as we master ourselves we become better persons and more welcome in groups. Mastering Lecture Mode is part of developing self control and self control feels good.

The process for developing the virtue of self control over Lecture Mode has several steps.  One must recognize it, pause, take a few deep breaths and deliberately break out of their own groove. This is very difficult and requires practice. It is so much harder to stop yourself when tired or upset. Knowing that one has been out in public long enough to get really stuck in Lecture Mode, is an important step in preventing it. Sadly, if you are tired you may only be able to watch the train wreck that is an uncontrollable Lecture.

We warn each other. While the person is going on and on and on about their current favorite passion, we will make eye contact and say, “LECTURE MODE.” Because of the conversations we have had about the negative side effects of getting into Lecture Mode, this little warning helps the person recognize that they are in Lecture Mode.

It takes practice, but once you learn to say, “Oh I’m sorry, I DO go on don’t I?” (or another favorite phrase to take responsibility for Lecture Mode and apologize for it) you begin to gain control over your tendency to fall into Lecture Mode; this phrase ought to be followed by a question about the last thing the other person said, or something like, “before I went on my bunny path, what were you saying?” Breathe deeply (and, if you must, bite your tongue or clench your jaws) to stay shut up long enough to hear that person talk until THEY are done.

Lecture Mode can become a family joke. It need not be a horrible thing, it can become, like a regional accent, just something that is part of the family culture.  Recognizing it, accepting someone pointing it out, and taking action to control yourself will all result in a more satisfying social life!

My thoughts on Pope Francis

I am on the side of our Holy Father even if his imprecision of speech makes me uncomfortable. He is the Pope, and on faith and morals cannot err. Himself has said that he holds to all of Church teaching– so every word he says must be understood against the backdrop of total orthodoxy– even if the press and the enemies of the Church (inside and out) refuse to see it that way.  A darling person, whose blog ( A Woman’s Place… ) I love to read, has also been troubled by this; I feel for her, she too loves the papacy and is a loyal daughter of the Church. To her blog post I responded:

I love Blessed John Paul II and sometimes found Pope Benedict XVI tendency to back track from perfectly reasonable statements disturbing but his orthodoxy continued that of Blessed John Paul II and the continuity comforted me. Now we have a Pope who does some marvelous things and then regularly makes statements that the Liberation Theology people love, and the socialists around me love, and the Catholics I know who embrace eagerly, and in some cases militantly, one or more heretical positions, actively arguing against Church teaching in those areas where they deviate, find him a delight but don’t alter their heretical positions. My husband, a deeply philosophical man, who cares not at all if this Pope is orthodox or a heretic, complains that if he doesn’t intend to give ammunition to heretics and communists, he ought to be a lot clearer in what he says–

Except, the philosophical precision of Blessed John Paul II, and the theological precision of Pope Benedict XVI, are not his style. He has a very different style.

He himself says he changes nothing, he himself says one must understand what he has to say by first assuming complete adherence to all of Catholic teaching, but his style doesn’t help those of us who are struggling because surrounded by people who reject whole portions of Church teaching, or who insist on a heretical position and vehemently insist that their position IS Church teaching, and all the rest of the soft martyrdom that seems to be coming to those who really love the whole of Catholic teaching and insist that that teaching is correct even when we have stupidly violated some part of it, and we don’t want to be excused for our sin because we WANT to face our sins, repent, and be saved– we don’t want to be dispensed from Church teaching and end up in hell.

Dear Lord, Thank You for the goodness of the Papacy. Help us to remain always loyal daughters and sons of the Church,  members of the Body of Christ, and disciples of Jesus who is God and Man. Please help our Pope to be clearer in his passing on of Church teaching, help the heretics to repent and convert to an orthodox Faith, and please help those of us who are disturbed by this Pope have Your peace and rest in You. +Amen.

“Pet Parent”

I am NOT a “pet parent” and I find the phrase incredibly insulting to both myself and to my animal friends.

I found this article through a link on Facebook, How to Keep Your Dog Safe In Cold Weather, and while it is good advice but I find that whole “pet parents” thing horribly insulting to my dogs.  They are DOGS.  My animals are my friends and companions, but I didn’t give birth to them, they are not genetically my species, I am not their “parent”.  I am their companion and friend; we have a symbiosis that takes from what each of our species brings to the table to make something special.

I suspect that this deeply held objection of mine stems from two of the basic philosophical underpinnings of my world view.  First, each species is valuable and special because it IS.  Dog is DOG. I insult the essence of a species if I co-opt it into my own.  Live together with respect for our differences and appreciation for what we have in common–absolutely!  But I am not a dog although I do my best to be a good pack member and my dog is not human even though he also does his best to be a good pack member.

Each dog with whom I have shared my life has been a blessing to me. I cherish my memories of our friendships. How can I relegate beings of such quality to the status of permanent juvenile?  I will not.

So, do not call me a pet parent because that belittles the accomplishment of inter-species friendship.  I respect the dogness of my dogs, and cherish their efforts to connect to me.  In return, I make it my task to train my body language and verbal communications so that I project what I need my dog to know about me.  Together we make the relationship special.

“Pet Parent” demeans both species as if we cannot have a real relationship so we need to pretend to be the same species. ick!

Dear Lord, thank You for making all the many species. Thank You for the friendships I have had with animals. +Amen.