Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"A Complicated Life"

I like my Sharing Widget in the sidebar, my ability to share posts and articles that I find, in some way, meaningful with people who are kind enough to visit my own site. So I want to point your attention to an article I read this morning written by Fr Tobias, an Orthodox priest, at "Second Terrace." He says things well. And this post, while very political is also apolitical, i.e. nonpartisan. It's about being Christian and being a Christian in America. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

Friday, October 24, 2008


What would Jesus brew? An excellent question explored in this CNN article.


Some family friends are in need of our prayers. Pray for Jan Mattson, please. She and her husband were in an automobile accident last night. (They are the parents of a very dear friend of mine.) As far as I know, she is still in the hospital and in need of our intercession.

O God, come to our aid.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

November 5

It's sad to me that red and blue run deeper in us in this country than our catholicity - our communion in Christ. I can't wait till November 5, not so that we can turn a corner in our country (whatever corner that might be politically), but so that the Body of Christ can once more appear to be the Body of Christ. Where my being a brother at least seems to be more important than whether I am red or blue, or different from you. When I no longer have to worry about being shoved aside or turned away from because I disagree with you about what it's about. What business does judgment have to be so cherished within the Body of Christ? It's a cancer. It kills, devours and destroys.

Life is beautiful. It rises up out of the One who is Life. People are to be loved. That one is not my enemy. Nor this one. Elections are important, this one perhaps especially so, but is it important enough to divide the Body? Where is our kinship? Where is our communion? Where are those ties that are stronger than patriotism and thicker than blood?

There should be no issue that separates me from you. We are Christ's. We do our best to be obedient, to be humble, to patiently endure. We work. We pray. We do not kick and spit at and beat one another. We don't even treat our animals that way.

We cannot judge and love at the same time, wrote Fr. Neuhaus recently in First Things. And though we sometimes disagree, that statement is unequivocally true. It is central to Whose we are. And it is a choice set before us today. We cannot love God and hate our brother. Perhaps we can get that right before November 4 so that unity doesn't seem such a farce on November 5.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Santa Needs a Second Job

My seven year old got hold of a Current catalogue in the mail. All evening she worked on a letter to Santa of all the things she wanted, from Current. It turned out to be quite comprehensive - a list that filled a piece of paper, front and back. Not a bulleted list, please understand, but serialized, all the items separated with commas. There is very little white space. It includes items such as, "Personalized notepads in a tote," and things like it. Hundreds of items like it. Though, to be fair, Current doesn't have all its eggs in the holiday wrapping and cards basket (or tote) any more. If I ever have the time, I'll try to post her list here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I was reading a bit on the life and voluntary poverty of Dorothy Day this morning and it combined with the daily reading today where Jesus (which I've never noticed before) tells the Pharisees, who are concerned that Jesus didn't ceremonially wash his hands before eating, that they need to "wash the inside of the cup." He says in Luke's Gospel (11.41), "Clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over." That's the New Living Translation. Here's the RSV, "Give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you." I don't care for the NASB here because I think you lose Christ's meaning. And I like best, perhaps, the KJV and NKJV's translation, "Rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you." A meditation provided by St Ambrose was also part of the mix. I don't usually compare translations, but I felt the first translation I read seemed to muddy the meaning rather than clarify it. It certainly didn't read as St Ambrose read it. Regardless, with a slurry of reasoning and emotion, I actually had the following thought - or something inanely close to it: "I don't have enough money to choose a life of poverty."

Now, perhaps on one level this is true - perhaps my life is an involuntary life of poverty. This is a real possibility, though not according to the entire world's standards. I am, after all, typing this on a computer with a rather quick and costly Internet connection, the expense of which I justify because I freelance write. I certainly don't have such great excess that I can choose to give it away while still providing for my family. But then, would that undercut the point entirely, perhaps? The stupidity of it also rose up because of the grave responsibility I have to raise my family - which is a part of almsgiving, certainly (giving up a comfortable life for a child-rich one), though it does not, by any means, exhaust the mandate laid upon me.

Give alms of such things as you have, and you will be clean.

How do you do this? How can I do this? Shouldn't I, as an American, be wrestling with how to live out this kind of iconic, Christlike life each day? Is my giving worth anything if it doesn't hurt? I don't mean being unable to buy a thousand dollar Japanese tobacco pipe, or a new laptop, or a nice home. I mean, giving so much that you are, as Dorothy Day did, getting clothes out of the same box and eating food from the same pot with which she also served the poor. That kind of life is incarnational. How do you do that with a family? How do you do it in America?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Little Saturday Morning Gas

The very day after the morning I tell my mother how disturbing it is to me that the McCain campaign has done nothing to stop the building anger and fear toward Obama in their rallies, McCain steps up and affirms Obama as a good family man (who just happens to pal around with terrorists). The GOP campaign, specifically Gov Palin and campaign ads, fed this fire. I hope they can put it out. I hope they do their best to try to. That being said, "Thank you, Sen McCain. It's good to see you again."

The next time I get flak for the size of my family, I'm saying, "Listen, Pal. That 10 trillion dollars ain't gonna take care of itself."

Speaking of which, I was at Wal-Mart the other day with the two boys. The cavernous temple evoked a happy volley of shrieks, as per usual - not terribly piercing, just happy. A lady down the aisle glowered at us. Then she took several opportunities to look at us blackly as we wheeled by. After checking out, we passed her again with her adult daughter. As we passed she began telling her about the audacity of my children's vocalizations. "I swanny. Wal-Mart ain't no library, lady."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Second Debate

I slept through it, to be honest. No engagement, on my part, other than my buttocks with my recliner and my eyes with their lids.

Let me just comment on what I imagine happened: The debate had no gaffes, no defining moments, just a lot of McCain being angry and Obama imperturable. Oh, and a whole lot of the same, oft-heard phrases.

Friday, October 03, 2008

God Love 'Em

Palin did well last night. I thought Biden did better, but at least Palin was coherent. Speaking of incoherence, after reading the text of Katie Couric's interview with Gov Palin, I've concluded that the McCain campaign is justified in accusing Couric of "Gotcha" journalism. There are clever little traps here that Katie sets - yes, that's journalism for you; yes, Palin ought to be able to navigate tough journalists. But the journalist's purpose is to inform the public about what the candidate believes, where she stands, rather than try to make her look like an idiot (at which they were quite successful, with no little help from Gov Palin). Also, journalists should hold her accountable for her own history and her own words rather than expecting her to know the minutiae of McCain's 132-year-long voting and speaking records. That would strain the brainpans of all but the most erudite of us.

One other thing, lay off on the pro-life issue, media. And since you won't: Palin, stand up. "Darnit, youbetcha I'm pro-life and here's why." It is our argument that is supported by science, reason and faith. Yes, the right to kill our babies in the womb is the law of the land. But guess what, Washington Herd, it's an immoral law. Life is not about women's rights. If it were, the government wouldn't be able to draw the line anywhere in a woman's womb, as it most certainly does. Indeed, if it were simply a matter of women's rights, the government wouldn't even be able to draw the line outside the womb.

Oh, and, just curious, did anyone besides my wife and I, hear Palin, after she corrected him, call the senator, Obiden? We laughed for half an hour about it, doing our best at Tina Fey.

An Onion and an Angel

In The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, which is my book of 2008 apparently (and if any, what better than it?), Grushenka tells Alyosha a parable. The context offers rich and dense layers to the parable, but I give it to you stripped of it and them. I share it with you because it was the very first page I read on the feast day of our guardian angels. We are interconnected, you and I - and all people and things. This is a very small onion, and you may wonder at it, but it is for you.

Once upon a time there was a woman, and she was wicked as wicked could be, and she died. And not one good deed was left behind her. The devils took her and threw her into the lake of fire. And her guardian angel stood thinking: what good deed of hers can I remember to tell God? Then he remembered and said to God: once she pulled up an onion and gave it to a beggar woman. And God answered: now take that same onion, hold it out to her in the lake, let her take hold of it, and pull, and if you pull her out of the lake she can go to paradise, but if the onion breaks, she can stay where she is. The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her: here, woman, he said, take hold of it and I'll pull. And he began pulling carefully, and had almost pulled her all the way out, when other sinners in the lake saw her being pulled out and all began holding on to her so as to be pulled out with her. But the woman was wicked as wicked could be, and she began to kick them with her feet: "It's me who's getting pulled out, not you; it's my onion, not yours." No sooner did she say it than the onion broke. And the woman fell back into the lake and is burning there to this day. And the angel wept and went away.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (New York: Farrar, 1990), 352.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pope Paul VI: Convinced of Christ

Convinced of Christ: yes, I feel the need to proclaim him, I cannot keep silent. «Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!» (1 Cor 9,16). I am sent by him, by Christ himself, to do this. I am an apostle, I am a witness. The more distant the goal, the more difficult my mission the more pressing is the love that urges me to it (2 Cor 5,14). I must bear witness to his name: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt 16,16). He reveals the invisible God, he is the firstborn of all creation, the foundation of everything created (Col 1,15f.). He is the Teacher of mankind, and its Redeemer. He was born, he died and he rose again for us. He is the centre of history and of the world; he is the one who knows us and who loves us; he is the companion and the friend of our life. He is the man of sorrows and of hope. It is he who will come and who one day will be our judge and - we hope -the everlasting fulness of our existence, our happiness.

I could never finish speaking about him: he is the light and the truth; indeed, he is «the way, the truth and the life» (Jn 14,6). He is the bread and the spring of living water to satisfy our hunger and our thirst (Jn 6,35; 7,38). He is our shepherd, our guide, our model, our comfort, our brother. Like us, and more than us, he has been little, poor, humiliated; he has been a worker; he has known misfortune and been patient. For our sake he spoke, worked miracles and founded a new kingdom where the poor are happy, where peace is the principle for living together, where the pure of heart and those who mourn are raised up and comforted, where those who hunger and thirst after justice have their fill, where sinners can be forgiven, where all are brothers.

Jesus Christ: you have heard him spoken of; indeed the greater part of you are already his: you are Christians. So, to you Christians I repeat his name, to everyone I proclaim him: Jesus Christ «is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega» (Rv 21,6); he is the king of the new world; he is the secret of history; he is the key to our destiny. He is the mediator, the bridge, between heaven and earth. He is... the Son of Man, because he is the Son of God... He is the son of Mary... Jesus Christ is our constant preaching; it is his name that we proclaim to the ends of the earth (Rom 10,18) and throughout all ages.

(Homily given at Manilla, November 29, 1970 [©Libreria Editrice Vaticana])

HT: Daily Gospel