Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Future is Now: Street Fighter 2010

In 1990 Nintendo came out with Street Fighter 2010 to follow the arcade game Street Fighter (both part of the famous fighting franchise Street Fighter series).  It paints a world where people can enhance their body using a combination of computer technology, biological engineering, and really cool shades that scream of a Mad Max post-apocalyptic world.  People, or at least the main character in the game, can shoot energy from his hands and feet to completely ravish his opponents, can do acrobatic flips that prove to make him invincible, and can travel through interdimensional portals in order to move from planet to planet faster than the speed of light.

Apparently technology has not kept pace with the imagination.  The future is so lame.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Uranium For Sale: Funny Stuff

Seriously.  It's over on Amazon.  But that isn't what is fully.  The comments are hysterical!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Will The Real Santa Please Stand Up: Other Faith Traditions Share Their Views On Santa

How do the various ideologies and faith traditions view the man in the big red suit?  Here is how I imagine some might comment on Santa.
  • Vegetarianism: “That brute! Enslaving those cute reindeer. I bet that fur isn’t even faux. Where is my bucked of fake animal blood?”
  • Mormonism: “Have you heard that Santa came to America after Jesus rose from the dead to give gifts to the lost Jewish tribes who live in America?”
  • Buddhism: “There is no Santa”
  • Hinduism: “Santa is all of us.”
  • Fundamentalism: “There is no Santa in the Bible. Besides, Jesus was born in the spring, so we celebrate Christmas then.”
  • Darwinism: “Santa evolved from a common ancestor to the Red Lemur.”
  • New-Age: “Santa is the goddess.”
  • Episcopalianism: “Check out those kicking threads! He’s really gay you know.”
  • Catholicism: “Santa. You mean SAINT Nick! Where’s my eggnog?”
  • Moonies: “Santa is so happy.”
  • Agnosticism: “I don’t know if we can be certain as to whether or not there really is or ever has been a person who fits the definition of the person we know as Santa.”
  • Materialism: “I want a new iPhone.”
  • Atheism: “There is no God and therefore can be no saints and no Santa.”
  • Judaism: “Quick, Abraham, light the menorah.”
  • Capitalism: “Buy Santa! Buy!”
  • Rationalism: “Santa is a made up human convention so that parents can trick their kids into behaving nicely for one month out the year.”
  • Confucianism: “To give is to be Santa.”
  • Islam: “INFIDEL!”
  • Mysticism: “Santa is as Santa does.”
  • Pentecostalism: “Praise God! It’s Santa!”
  • Existentialism: “Who is this ‘Santa’ of which you speak?”

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rant: Deceptive Commercials

You ask what it is to be deceived.  Listen to me.  Here I am an expert on the topic, as I have been deceived my whole life, and you have too.

I've purchased the tacky bad smelling body spray, hair gel, body wash and shampoo.  I've purchased the right kind of cheep bad tasting beer, rum and other liquors.  I've purchased the proper cologne.  I've purchased the approved tailgating supplies, car and other sports stuff and equipment.  I've worn the right clothes and even said the 'right' things.  I've danced the way I was shown on TV.  I've used the crappy infomercial workout equipment that promissed a lean ripped body just from looking at the equipment to which women then flock.

Never have I -- and I do mean NEVER -- been tackled by or chased by hordes of tall, slim, scantly clad, athletic women for buying the right running shoe or shampoo.  Never have I had tall, dark, scantly, clad women walk up to me and make out with me because I drank the right mixed drink.  Never have women gravitated towards me as if the body spray I used granted me a gravitational pull that only affected beautiful and scantly clad women to come to me, who then found me strangely irresistible.  Never has the Swedish Bikini Team skydived out of a plane then paddled down a river to find me because my friends and I decided to take a poor tasting light beer with us on our paddling trip on the Natahalaya river.  Never has a hot hot woman, who only weighs a  buck-o-five, walked up to me and rub her cheek against my face in a seductive manner for merely shaving with the proper razor and shaving gel.

In short, I have never been rewarded with a beautiful, exotic woman for purchasing a product that according to the commercial should be coming my way for buying a company's product.  According to all these commercials, I should have troves of women after me at all hours of the day.  Yet, that is not the case.  Many of the commercials I have see on TV portray women as rewards for men . . . like a trophy or ribbon for winning a contest.  That is, the makers of the TV commercials still futher the objectification of women.  "Women aren't objects" is a message that many boys and girls hear when growing up.  Yet they are constantly presented with this mixed message: buy [this product] and [this objectification of women] will be the fabulous outcome.

Is anyone else slightly bothered by this deception?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Notre Dame's Heretical Theology Professors Still at It

Seriously. This is just too much. When are they going to shut this place down?

New Address

I bit the bullet and finally purchased my own custom domain name. was taken.  But I was able to get

I did it mostly so that I can get around the firewall at work: these catholic school don't allow access to blogger and I often have things I want to get off my blog to use in my classroom.

The old blogger address should still work, but be sure to update your links, especially if you work at a place with an obnoxious firewall.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Random Thought: Mother Church, Father God?

Why is it that no one ever seems to have a problem with referring to the church in the feminine form?  Seriously.  People complain: "Oh God isn't Father! It is men who have made it thus! We can call God Mother, Being or Thing. If it pleases."  or "Ohhhhh the all male priesthood.  It is so degrading to women.  It is not equal.  When will the church finally give women their chance?"  Yet, I never hear anyone complain about Mother Church, the Bride of Christ.  I have yet to hear anyone say with gusto, "The Church is not Mother!  The Church is not Bride!  These are terms imposed by the men of old, the school men of the middle ages, who opposed all things feminine and sexual."  Hmmmm, I wonder why?

Moral of the story: if you are going to complain and attack something, at least be consistent with your logic (and logical too).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Look At Me in the OSV!

Contributing editor Emily Stimpson's article on being a Savy music consumer, in which I was interviewed and used as a resource, was run in OSV's Weekly on November 29, 2009.  I finally was able to get my hands on a copy, and I was surprised to find that I was given my own little box off to the side of the article.  I am likely violating copyrights with this, but if they ask I'll take it down.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What Catholic School Text Book has Obama Been Reading?

Obama gave his nobel peace prize acceptance speech today.  Beside the numerous logical fallacies in his speech, what caught my attention in his speech was the mention of "just war".  He doesn't call it a theory, so I'm wondering from what poorly written catholic high school text book was he quoting?

Here is the quote:
Over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers, clerics, and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a "just war" emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

Monday, December 07, 2009


I've been a NOLA fan since in the womb.  So seeing the Saints to a 12-0 start certainly is a great treat.  But I wonder if NOLA is taking it a bit too far.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why I Don't Do Yoga

Besides the obvious theological reasons, I don't do yoga because I find it insulting to the real practitioners of yoga: those individuals devoted not just to the bending, stretching, and strengthening that the practice offers, but those also who are also devoted to the spirituality of yoga. Those who are trying to be yogis.

Those who only do yoga for the physical benefits are not really doing yoga. Without the spiritual aspect of the yoga the person isn't actually doing yoga. They are just bending and stretching and breathing deeply, all things that can be done within the Catholic tradition.

All in all, those who wish not to participate in the spiritual aspects of yoga turn it into an attempt to unspiritualize something that has its roots in the spiritual. It is like trying to separate the rosary from Mary and the Mass from Christ.

Lastly, for a person to tell me that they only pray the rosary because it makes them calm or because it is healthful to their body makes me want to slap the person who just told me that as they use a practice of my faith as a mere physical tool that leads the person not closer to Christ but turns them inward.

So I don't do yoga because I choose to be somewhat sensitive to another person's spiritual belief and practice and chose not to trivialize their faith by making it into a mere physical exercise.

The Jesus Prayer

So maybe you want to clear you mind and meditate and breath deeply in the Christian Tradition. Try the Jesus Prayer. It is a prayer that is near to 2000 years old, and it requires the person to clear the mind and focus the mind on Christ and God's mercy. The prayer goes as follows:
Lord Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Traditionally the person repeats this prayer over and over again. A deep breath is taken and the first half of the prayer is prayed (Lord Jesus, Son of the Living God) and the end of the first half of the prayer the second half is prayer during the exhalation (have mercy on me a sinner). A rope or rosary can be used not so much as to count the prayers but to help concentrate.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Zombie Diaries

[With the ever increasingly popular vampire movies and books, mainly the Twilight series and the Vampire Diaries, I though I would begin working on my own tween horror/romance series.  It will be titled the Zombie Diaries and it will tell the story of the forbidden love between an adolescent girl and an a seeming horrific adolescent zombie.  After falling in love with his lurching and bone tickling groans, the girl learns that he is a 'good' zombie and has been misunderstood for all these years.  What makes him a good zombie is that he only eats the brains of tofu plants.  It will be set mostly from the point of view of the boy zombie.  Personally, I think I might be on to something here.  Anyway, here is the first installment.]

Entry 1


Groan. Murrmer. Huurrrmmbheh. fajjfj.  OOOOOhhhnmmmgjrhhhhhh. Opoklouihghhhhhyuhjjkneyupolmbgfh.  Moooooooooaaaaannnnnnn.  Gruuuuunt. Grimmerance. Moan. Moan.  Moan.  Looooosshhuhgroh? BRRRAAAIIINNNSSSSS!  jfjijr momfe dudhyejf. fjffrk.  Hu Muuumorrrrrrrron hogrrrorhn   gurggurugurugur.  Gurgle, gurgle! Ohnouhui tu ruoen uhhhh ohhhhhoooerrssssss.



Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not Said By Jesus: Thanksgiving Edition

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and that everyone enjoys all the foods and football moderately well.  All things in moderation, except love.  As I cannot imaging a girl staying with a boy friend who writes her a love poem that begins: "How I love thee moderately.  Let me count the ways.  I love thee enough to pick thee up for out date but not enough to bring drive thee home."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Prayer Book Preface (rough draft)

[I've just about got the preface finished.  It is in rough form at the moment.  So far the prayer book is about 100 pages.  It is expected to be about 150 pages in length.  I put some of this on here already, but anyway, enjoy.]


In the course of his career at [JHS]  a student is required to read more than sixty books. Many are textbooks, others are novels, biographies, histories and reference works. Why another book? The answer lies in why we read books. Some we read for knowledge and wisdom, some for facts and information, some for entertainment and relaxation. Still others we read to learn techniques: how to set up a model railroad, how to improved your tennis game. This book falls into the last category; it is a “how-to” book a kin to a tool kit.

All of us who believe in God feel that it is essential to communicate with Him. But the question is: How? Sometimes we try reciting vocal prayers, such as the Lord’s Prayer of the Hail Mary. Bur then, because of their familiarity, they become boring and meaningless. Sometimes we try just talking to God, and we find that we go blank and our minds are over flowing with distracting thoughts. The purpose of this small book, therefore, is to help overcome these problems by suggesting a variety of topics for prayer and a variety of methods of prayer.

However, each person must come to God in his own way. These prayers are given merely as catalysts or pump-primers for our personal prayer. Prayer is the point of contact between us and God. Through All the Days of Life is intended to facilitate that contact. Simply to read this book is not enough, for prayer does not consist in reading words to God.  Rather, the words of these prayers should trigger thoughts and feeling within us that are our own. Only then will we be approaching the point of contact which we call prayer.

But full contact is made only when God responds. Prayer is not a monologue we recite to God. It is a dialogue in which each speaks. Therefore listening on our part is an essential element of our prayer. How do we recognize His voice? He often does not speak in lightning or thunder or in a burning bush. HE will speak gently in the stillness and silence of our human hearts. When old words take on new meaning, when our insight deepens, when we feel a fresh surge of courage and patience to face old problems, when love becomes our way of life, we have heard God speaking to us and we are praying.

Still, questions about prayer remain.

Why Pray?

Out of all the things in life that we can do why should and why do we need to take time out of our day to pray. Why Pray? There are any number of reasons on why we should and need to pray. In his Prayer Primer, Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M. gives us six concise reasons to why pray:

1. Conversation with God.

2. Like a coin on one side we pray to give the God who created us thanks. On the other side, we pray to express sorrow, contrition and to seek forgiveness from our Creator.

3. To ask God to help us become the people the world needs. The single and best thing that we can do for the world is to become a saint of God for the world. The world does not need another Doctor, Lawyer, Plumber, Politician, Teacher, etc. . . The world needs men of virtue. The world needs saints.

4. To ask God for the things we need.

 5. To bond with God, creation and humanity more perfectly so as to spread God’s good news, and in doing so we become good for others and our goodness in turn rubs off on those we meet.

6. To imitate Christ. The call of every Christian at its most fundamental level is imitate Christ. Saints, whom we all hope to be with one day, are excellent imitators of Christ.

Why is Prayer Difficult?

Because we have not prayed most of our life and as a result our spiritual faculties have atrophied, which is contrary with our bodies and athletics which we have been using and doing since a small child. In fact, I am sure there are many people reading this who learned to throw a ball before learning to speak.

As a result, we now need a kind of spiritual therapy to get our spiritual faculties into working order. Just like physical therapy, it is best to start small and build gradually till the faculties are properly strengthened. Moreover, no kind of therapy can be successful without a concrete plan of action. So when starting your spiritual therapy, make a plan and stick with it. Your plan might be as simple as praying a morning offering on waking, a visit to the chapel during lunch and an Our Father before hopping into bed, all prayed with sincerity.

Remember, simplicity is of great importance. Don't expect to move mountains with your first prayers. Above all, keep your prayer simple!

How do I pray?

This prayer book is not concerned with answering this question. For it is like asking, "How does a person (or child) begin to speak?" Simply, you begin by just doing it. The child who utters his first stumbling words knows not what he means or says and does so only out of imitation, but those stumbling words fill the parent with joy and excitement at the mere fact that the child has spoke. It is the same with us and God. Often we stumble through our first prayers not knowing the meaning of the words we pray other than knowing that we must pray, and this action fills God with great joy and excitement that His child has spoken with Him even if just for a moment.

Also, the only prayer master is the Holy Spirit. This book offers suggestions, vocal prayers and techniques to use in prayer, but ultimately it is you who prayers and the Holy Spirit who teaches you to pray.

What is Prayer?

Too often prayer is seen as a last resort. "All we can do now is pray" is a phrase uttered time and again in moments of tragedy, as if praying is the thing humanity does only after humanity has failed itself. The truth is, humanity fails itself on a regular basis and therefore, prayer must be the activity to which humanity first turns.

St. John Damascene once said, "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." In other words, prayer is the practice of putting oneself in the presence of God. It is akin to two people, say a husband and wife, best friends, or a girlfriend and a boyfriend who enjoy just spending time with each other and without the passage of words between them (though if words pass then that is no problem).

In a word, prayer is about relationship. It is about our relationships with God and how that relationship impacts your relationships with other members of the mystical body of Christ.

Every relationship is a process that begins like a seed planted that then with proper work sprouts and with more time and attention the sprout develops into a full grown plant and after more time it buds, blooms, and produces fruit. However, this only happens if the plant is given time to develop with the proper nutrition and attention.

There are no shortcuts in developing a life of prayer. If you say you do not have time it is because you do not care enough about your relationship with God who is the maker of time and Who gives you time. There are 86,400 seconds in a day, and you say that there is not enough time in the day to take one second out of the 86,400 that God has given you today to give a sincere "Thanks."

What are the different ways I can pray?

Prayer within the Catholic tradition is broad. Though there are five modes or forms of prayer that sum up most of our prayers. They are:

1. Blessing and Adoration—We bless God for blessing us and acknowledge ourselves as created before our Creator.

2. Prayer of Petition—The most common form of prayer where we ask, beg, plead, and beseech God for things we need. Often spontaneous

3. Prayers of Intercessions—Prayers that are prayed for or on behalf of others.

4. Prayers of Thanksgiving—Prayers that give thanks to God. Its most complete form and expression found in the Eucharistic celebration.

5. Prayers of Praise—Prayers that acknowledge God for who He is in his power, glory, and happiness.

For more information on these forms of prayer see the Catechism of the Catholic Church §2623-2642

What are the different ways I can express these forms prayers?

There are three ways to express the forms of prayer:

1. Vocal Prayer—The most common expression of prayer that makes up the backbone of Christian prayer. When the disciples asked Christ how to prayer, He taught them a vocal prayer. We express one of the forms of prayer using our voice. However, many words does not make vocal prayer successful. A contrite and sincere heart is what must also be at the core of vocal prayer. We are to pray every prayer with all of our heart, mind and body, which vocal prayer expresses the union of these.

2. Meditative Prayer—In meditation, which is primarily a mental form of prayer, the person praying considers using his mind to seek and understand the mysteries of the Christian faith by using their memory, thought, imagination, and emotions.

3. Contemplative Prayer—An expression of prayer that puts us in union and communion with God Himself. Often in this expression of prayer, words pass away and the person praying just sits and enjoys being in the presence of God’s Love.

It is very possible that during prayer time and using one prayer a person can pass from one expression and into others. For instance, a person may pray vocally the Our Father. Then after vocally prayer the Our Father go back and consider what it means to call God Our Father. Then after the time spent considering God as Our Father, the person in prayer might, through God’s grace, move into Contemplative Prayer where he merely sits before God’s Fatherly Love. For more information and a more in depth detailed description of the expressions of prayer see the Catechism of the Catholic Church §2700-2724

Why aren’t my prayers answered?

There are a number of reason for this but are primarily summed up into two reasons. First we can be praying badly without a contrite and sincere heart. Whereby, our prayers become empty glasses instead of pitchers full of meaning. Second, it only seems that our prayers are not answered because in our prayers we ask God for things we do not need. Therefore, we fail to have the eyes to see that sometimes God answers our prayers but that answer is “no”.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Open Book Quiz

[I think I'm safe in posting this.  I'm sure none of my students know I have a blog.  My class just finished studying what it means to be made in God's image and likeness, so I thought I'd use a real life example of bad journalism and even worse theology to help my students learn.  Here is an Open Book Pop Quiz They will be getting tomorrow.]



Open Book Quiz.

By Tom Chivers
Published: 10:20AM GMT 10 Nov 2009

The Vatican joins the search for alien life

The Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding its first ever conference on alien life, the discovery of which would have profound implications for the Catholic Church.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a conference on astrobiology, the study of life beyond Earth, with scientists and religious leaders gathering in Rome this week.

For centuries, theologians have argued over what the existence of life elsewhere in the universe would mean for the Church: at least since Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk, was put to death by the Inquisition in 1600 for claiming that other worlds exist.

Among other things, extremely alien-looking aliens would be hard to fit with the idea that God “made man in his own image”.


Directions: The Above is an excerpt taken from an actual article from the United Kingdon's leading news publication The Telegraph. Read the above excerpt from the UK Telegraph. Pay close attention to what the writer says in the last sentence. Using your notes and your textbook it is your job to write a letter to Tom Chivers, the author of the excerpt, explaining to him his misunderstanding of what it means to be made in God's image and likeness.

Your letter should begin:

Dear Mr. Chivers,
Upon reading your recent article in the Telegraph about the Catholic Church's involvement in the search for alien life, I would like to bring to your attention an error in your understanding of what it means when Catholics say that God "made man in his own image." Your understanding is mistaken because . . .

It Does Not Make Me Less of an American

If I disagree with how the American governmental system is set up, with a few of the Bill of rights say 1-3, with amendments 13,  19, and 21, with parking tickets, and do not recognize the president of the United States and having any real authority over my actions, decisions, and how I live my life, in fact he means nothing to me as he lives in another state altogether,  and since I am who I am I have taken my Americanism as something that must not be spreed about and shared with others -- as I mentioned before, I do not agree with how the American government is run -- and when I travel I tell people I am from Louisiana and that I am a Louisianian and it is only culturally, coincidentally by parentage that I am American, does this make me less American?

Sen. Kennedy would likely say "no."  I am American as JFK, FDR, and Abe Lincoln.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Undatables

Can't find a date or stay in a relationship for any considerable length of time?  Constantly calling your friends complaining that you just can't find a good guy or girl in your town?  Don't know why?  Check that iPhone of your's.  It could be that iPhone that is making you undatable.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Prayer

[As mentioned in my previous post, I am in the process of editing a high school prayer book for the school at which I work.  I am currently working on a few into sections.  I'm thinking about adding this as part of the introduction.  I can't go into too much detail as space is limited.]

Why is Prayer Difficult?

Because we have not prayed most of our life and as a result our spiritual faculties have atrophied, which is contrary with our bodies and athletics which we have been using and doing since a small child. In fact, I am sure there are many people reading this who learned to throw a ball before learning to speak.

As a result, we now need a kind of spiritual therapy to get our spiritual faculties into working order. Just like physical therapy, it is best to start small and build gradually till the faculties are properly strengthened. Moreover, no kind of therapy can be successful without a concrete plan of action. So when starting your spiritual therapy, make a plan and stick with it. Your plan might be as simple as praying a morning offering on waking, a visit to the chapel during lunch and an Our Father before hopping into bed, all prayed with sincerity.

Remember, simplicity is of great importance. Don't expect to move mountains with your first prayers. Above all, keep your prayer simple!

How do I pray?

This prayer book is not concerned with answering this question. For it is like asking, "How does a person (or child) begin to speak?" Simply, you begin by just doing it. The child who utters his first stumbling words knows not what he means or says and does so only out of imitation, but those stumbling words fill the parent with joy and excitement at the mere fact that the child has spoke. It is the same with us and God. Often we stumble through our first prayers not knowing the meaning of the words we pray other than knowing that we must pray, and this action fills God with great joy and excitement that His child has spoken with Him even if just for a moment.

Also, the only prayer master is the Holy Spirit. This book offers suggestions, vocal prayers and techniques to use in prayer, but ultimately it is you who prayers and the Holy Spirit who teaches you to pray.

What is Prayer?

Too often prayer is seen as a last resort. "All we can do now is pray" is a phrase uttered time and again in moments of tragedy, as if praying is the thing humanity does only after humanity has failed itself. The truth is, humanity fails itself on a regular basis and therefore, prayer must be the activity to which humanity first turns.

St. John Damascene once said, "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." In other words, prayer is the practice of putting oneself in the presence of God. It is akin to two people, say a husband and wife, best friends, or a girlfriend and a boyfriend who enjoy just spending time with each other and without the passage of words between them (though if words pass then that is no problem).

In a word, prayer is about relationship. It is about our relationships with God and how that relationship impacts your relationships with other members of the mystical body of Christ.

Every relationship is a process that begins like a seed planted that then with proper work sprouts and with more time and attention the sprout develops into a full grown plant and after more time it buds, blooms, and produces fruit. However, this only happens if the plant is given time to develop with the proper nutrition and attention.

There are no shortcuts in developing a life of prayer. If you say you do not have time it is because you do not care enough about your relationship with God who is the maker of time and Who gives you time. There are 86,400 seconds in a day, and you say that there is not enough time in the day to take one second out of the 86,400 that God has given you today to give a sincere "Thanks."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Treading Water

My apologies for not posting for nearly a month. I've got caught up with school and the tasks associate with my job. In addition to teaching and directing campus ministry, I have somehow got put in charge of the liturgical choir at school (granted I am a musician and played part time in jazz groups, rock bands, punk and ska bands, have led praise and worship music for CCRNO as well as music at the LSU Catholic Center but I am not in any way a voice/choir guy), and am now leading the charge in editing a school wide prayer book -- and all the while getting the football coaches pissed at me and forcing the administration to put their money where their mouth is, as it is often the case at many Catholic schools that the administration speaks of the importance of the spirituality of the school, the catholic identity of the school and the campus ministry programs at the school yet fail to back it up with resources of any sort. So the result is a campus ministry program with only one good leg on which to stand. Directing Campus Ministry is certainly sucking the life out of me and leaving me far too exhausted to do some of the things in my life that I enjoy. My goal is to move out of campus ministry and into full time teaching and possibly some part time freelance writing.

Enough explaining.

On the flip-side (and more positive), I was interviewed the other day by OSV contributing editior Emily Stimpson on Music, which related to an earlier posting I did involving Music and the Passions. She interviewed Bob Rice, Professor of Catechetics and Worship leader at Franciscian University of Stubenville, and Chris Padgett, of the late Scarecrow and Tinman fame who is now a nation youth speaker and musician working on a PHd in theology from University of Daton. What does does this mean? I'm the only one without a flashy personal website. Emily Stimpson tells me that the article should be out sometime in November.

Also, I'll be giving my music and the passions presentation the the local World Youth Day in New Orleans, LA.

This is the first weekend that I do not have a school function or commitment in almost 2 months. So, I'm off into the woods to do some camping and paddling for the weekend.

Lastly, I just finished brewing my first batch of beer.  It is a nut brown ale and tastes good.  People keep asking me what am I going to call it, I think I have decided on the name Verso l'alto (Toward the Top) for the over arching name of my brews.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Adventure in Catechesis #12

Catechist: What did God take from Adam to make Eve?
Student: His sperm?

Part of me wishes stuff like this didn't happen in class, but it does. Sad when it happens, but funny when you are back in the department office.

Thanks Timmy

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Introducing: TheoloGuy

Real Name: John St. Pierre
Occupation: Owner and Manage of Local Bowling Alley
Group Affiliation: Catholics of the Roman Rite
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 194
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Black (with white eyebrows)

Powers: The proportional intellect and theological expertise that rivals the greatest of theologians who roam the globe. His "T" sense warns him of approaching theological heresy and heretics. TheoloGuy is able to deliver a 15 minute discourse on the problem of evil in only 5 minutes.

History: In a strange freak accident involving a floor buffer, a cup of coffee, electrocution, and gummie bears in the theology section of the local mega bookstore, mild mannered bowling alley owner John St. Pierre awoke from his accident to find himself covered in theological books, coffee and gummie bears. To his surprise, he found that he had absorbed all the theological understanding of the books that had been covering him and was now able to solve all theological conundrums. At first he used his powers only to discourse with his drunken obnoxious theologically misguided patrons. After learning that changing the mind of a drunk isn't easy, John St. Pierre started volunteering at his local RCIA and you ministry programs and now only uses his powers to hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Allies: TheoloGuy has thought along side some of the greatest thinkers, theologians, and apologists to have lived during the modern error. His favorite theologians include St. Augustine, St. Louise de Montfort, and Jon D. Levenson.

Enemies: Now that would just be uncharitable to list here.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Good Bye Chubby Hubby. Hello Hubby Hubby?

Looks like I can scratch off the list Ben and Jerry's ice cream. No loss to me. I never cared too much for their ice cream.

From the site:
In celebration of the freedom to marry in Vermont officially beginning on September 1, 2009, Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s is symbolically renaming their iconic flavor ‘Chubby Hubby’ to: Hubby Hubby . . . Join Ben & Jerry’s and Freedom to Marry in advancing awareness about marriage equality by taking any or all of these actions: . .

People really need to understand that equality does not mean sameness. By claiming equality and really meaning sameness does nothing more than lead to confusion and the blurring of boundaries.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Full Body Condoms: The Latest in High School Fashion

If the students can't keep from touching one another we might as well teach them how to be safe. Story Here.
From Story:Chest bumps. High fives. Hugs and handshakes. Glen Cove Middle School students Ali Slaughter and Hannah Seltzer say that's what friends do on the first day of school. But when students in the Nassau community return to school next week, the superintendent will be urging abstinence. Everyone from the tiniest tots to the biggest high school football players will be asked to limit skin-on-skin contact in an attempt to prevent the spread of swine flu when it re-emerges this fall.

"It will [be hard] because you really like your friends and you didn't get to see them," Seltzer tells CBS 2.
What are we learning? That abstinence prevents the spread and transmission of diseases. But really, let us ignore that fact and insist that all students attend class in a bio hazard suit. It could be the latest fashion trend. It can be made in different styles and sizes. Some tart of a celebrity can promote it on TV or in a music video. Twitter about it. Facebook it. Blog it. VidBlog it. Tell the President of the US -- he's all about protection.

Then again, is it really fair that we force students into paranoia by scaring them about disease and then insisting that they hop inside of some synthetic suit that will really only work effectively if one has a lifestyle change (but we won't tell them about the life style change)? Makes sense to me (NOT!).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Why the Church Has all those Dogmas and Doctrines

From something by G.K. Chesterton, but it is a great reasoning on why the Catholic church does what She does. I also like it because it is familial. I might borrow this when I get to the morality lessons with my students.
The Catholic Church "is the only continuous intelligent institution that has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years. Its experience covers nearly all experiences; and especially nearly all errors. The Church makes itself responsible for warning her people against all the blind alleys and dead ends and roads that lead to destruction. She dogmatically defends humanity from its worst foes, from those devouring monsters of the old mistakes. There is no other corporate mind in the world that is on the watch to prevent minds from going wrong. The policeman comes too late, when he tries to prevent men from going wrong. The doctor too comes too late, for he only comes to lock up a madman, not to advise a sane man on how not to go mad."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Classroom Decorations

Something I made tonight that I plan on hanging in my classroom. The original is about 28'' by 21''. If you want the larger version, just email me. I also put the quote in the active voice.

Not Said By Jesus Sunday

[soapbox] The phrase "Let us agree to disagree" has always bothered me. Mostly because the two parties never solve anything and it is has become the politically correct way of saying "Your argument is irrational. You are unintelligent. I choose not to listen to you and your opinions." In other words, this line of thinking tries to side step objective truth and concrete realities on certain issues.[/soapbox]

Friday, August 21, 2009

Video Games Linked to Depression

I love playing video games, even though I no longer have the time.  I still enjoy from time to time picking up the controller and killing a few zombies.  But take warning, killing too many Zombies might just be unhealthy.
From the Article:
The average gamer is 35, overweight, and more likely to be depressed, says a new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, which was carried out in the Seattle-Tacoma area, found that gamers reported "lower extraversion, consistent with research on adolescents that linked video-game playing to a sedentary lifestyle and overweight status, and to mental-health concerns."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nun on the Run

When Saint Paul wrote about running the good race, Sister Mary Elizabeth of Religious Teachers Fillippini took the Apostle's advice literally. At 60 years old, Sister Mary Elizabeth donned her black and white habit and hit the pavement in hopes to raise awareness for the AIDS orphans in Africa when she tried to run the 100 mile marathon in Key Largo, Florida this past May. Though midway through the race she was forced to to stop her run due to health and heat issues, but her goal was accomplished.

Why does she run in a habit? "Everyone looks at the nun in her habit!" The sister says. And when people ask why she is running in her habit, which I can only assume is a good number, she uses it as an opportunity to tell people that she is running for the children. Moreover, she adds "It takes more than endurance to run 40 mines -- it takes purpose. Mine is helping orphans."

This past July she was part of the support crew for ultra-marathon runner Lisa Smith-Batchen in the infamous 810 miles race across the Death Valley in the Death Valley 810. Lisa Smith-Batchen was able to raise over half a million dollars for the good sister's orphans, of which 100% of the proceeds went to the orphans in Africa.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Student or Teacher

I met my 8th grade students today. In my last class of the day, I learned of a local celebrity that I will be teaching this year. I'm not really sure what I'm going to be doing with him. He is already set to take sophomore math and science classes and is only in 8th grade at a school that produced 35 National Merit Semifinalists last year (class of 2009), which placed the high school in the top 30 high schools in the US.

I think I'm going to have to be doing some serious praying this year.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Divine and HUMAN

I often times find myself wondering, "What were the saints really like?" I ask such things because the only experience I truly have of the saints are their writings and the holy images of said saints. So as I result, I sometimes have a view of the saints being separated from the people still here on Earth: very pie in the sky. Granted the goal of the spiritual life and the sacraments is the deitification of humanity the other half the story cannot be ignored. Yet, how exactly does one who is not in Heaven relate to a saint who is in Heaven?

I do not know exactly how to relate, but I take comfort in knowing that all the saints who have walked on this green ground, the same green ground upon which I walk, were also human. They had bodies and that means they had to deal with the same bodily thing that I deal with also: blisters from walking/running too much, bad gas after too much of certain kinds of foods, indigestion, heart ache/break, hunger, cold, the stink that comes along with 3 days of travel with no showers, etc and the list can go on till being blue in the face.

Perhaps I will never know what the saints were really like, but maybe, just maybe, there is still hope for a sinner like me and you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review: A Taste of Heaven

If a historical study of culinary delights and delectable cuisine could be done a very convincing argument might be had that those delectable delights rest upon the backs of monks and nuns. A Taste of Heaven: A guide to the Good and Drink Made by Monks and Nuns by Madeline Scherb, though part cook book, travel guide – as the inside cover promotes – contains bits of history of various foods and the monkish developments to those foods over the centuries.

My favorite parts of the book, included the sections where the author gives a brief history of the various abbeys from where she draws her recipes and food, which often included a little gems on the abbey’s spirituality and daily routine. I say this mostly because I am a theology teacher who sometimes teaches church history, so this was a nice easy readable book, which I hope to share some parts with my students.

Each recipe highlights one of the Abbey’s signature food. So if the Abbey is known for it’s beer, as is the case with Saint Benedict Abbey and many other monasteries in Europe, then the recipe will be Creamy Beer Soup, which includes Achel, the beer brewed by the monks at St. Ben’s near Achel, Belgium. Likewise if the Abbey is known for its cheese, as is the case with Postel Abbey in Mol, Belgium, then the recipe will include that Postel Cheese; in this case, the recipe was a Flamiche, which is a Belgiam quiche. No worries, the book also highlights several Abbeys in the United States, including Gethsemmani and the cheese for which they are known.

Practical advice about eating and tasting this monastery food is also found in the book. How to enjoy a Trappist brew is just one of those sections, and the author, who calls on the expert beer advice of Tim Webb, describes a pour that is equally important to the enjoyment of the Trappist beer that rivals the pour of Guinness. Also, when tasting cheese she writes, it is best to “start with the mildest and work up to the strongest.”

Not devoid of spirituality, Madeline Scherb invites her readers to make the journey to some of these abbeys and not only enjoy the food but also emulate the daily life of the monks and nuns while on the grounds of the Abbey. Make a pilgrimage, “Do consider a retreat even if you’re not Catholic; monasteries welcome guests of all faiths” she writes in the section titled “Monastery Etiquette” where other practical advice is given to the unfamiliar monastery visitor such as:
  • “Do bring cash or a check to pay for your room, because many guest houses don’t accept credit cards.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to leave family and friends behind; the best retreats are spent in solitude and silence.”
  • “Don’t be nervous about attending prayers for the first time”
  • “Do feel free to attend prayers. (It’s polite to do so before meals.)”
  • “Do bring flip-flops for the shower.”
Is it a must read? Well if you like cooking and trying new recipes the book is certainly worth reading as there are a variety of recipes of a variety of complexities from the simple only needing a few ingredients to the more complex that requires at least a working knowledge of the kitchen. Personally, I’m waiting for a nice cold rainy day to try the Creamy Beer Soup.

Though she was silent about Affligem, my faviorite Belgium Abbey Ale, she covered a nice selection of foods that can be found in the US via certain national specialty stores, online, and Whole Foods. There is even a "shopping guide" that ends the book so you can be certain on where to find the specific food for which you are needing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Incense meets Non-sense

It was a bit strange when I went into this beautiful gothic church in Paris and found such modern art. I have no problems with modern art that is sensible, but this is a little silly. I had no idea what to make of it when I first saw it, and I still have no idea what to make of it. Each stain glass window was to represent one of the 7 sacraments. Your job is to guess which sacrament each window represents. The answers are on the bottom, so don't cheat!

I missed one of the windows, or at least I think I did. They look so much alike I might just be confusing two windows and thinking they to be the same. But Anointing of the Sick is the window that is missing.







Your really do need a Phd in order to make any sense out of these windows. I don't see what is wrong with having windows that makes sense to the normal person. Maybe one day when I am old enough I'll be able to understand the windows better. (scroll down for the answers)

1. Reconciliation/Confession
2. Holy Orders
3. The Eucharist
4. Baptism
5. Confirmation
6. Matrimony

Not Said By Jesus Sunday

I come (back) from France

Just got back from my 3 weeks in France. An AMAZING trip. More on it late. Now is time for sleep.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Total Consecration to Mary . . . for you iPod

UPDATE: I just learned that I left off some of the prayers in part 2. The new prayers have been added and the files is linked accordingly.

Using the text from the people over at, I put the total consecration to Mary in an iPod book format using the notes feature. You can download it here. You must have your iPod enabled as a harddrive/disk storage in order to use the iPod Notes features.

The VERY basic steps to
  1. So download it.
  2. Open your iPod as a storage device.
  3. Unzip the File you just downloaded.
  4. Drag the folder into the "Notes" folder on your iPod.
The prayers are all linked in the notes, so you do the day's readings then click the link on teh bottom to follow it to the prayers for that part.

This is really for the older iPods and not the iPhone or iTouch. THough, I imagine that you can use it in those iPods also.

The format is a little sloppy at the moment. My hope is to go back a clean it up a little bit, but it is usable for the time being. I'm hoping to do begin this is a day or two and do most of it when I am in France.

Blessing of Beer Part Deaux

I've already posted this blessing once before. This time I added it to a picture. Maybe theology on tap can get some pubsy conversation with this flyer. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Brad Pitt for Mayor

Some news is too funny not to be true, and in a state like Louisiana the politics could keep shows like Law and Order in business for decades. Anyway, it looks like there is a movement in NOLA to get the handsome actor, Brad Pitt, to toss his hat into the political arena. It makes perfect sense really. Louisiana has had many colorful characters for their governor leaders. So why not add an actor to that list?

Besides, if Pitt promises to make NOLA look as good as it did in Benjamin Button, he has my vote. Plus, there is no way he could possibly be as bad as Sugar Ray Nagin.

From the Story:

The list of actors-turned-politician is filled with celluloid heros, tough guys, grunts and solitary men: Clint Eastwood, Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson, Arnold.

There are murmers afoot that the rightful heir to this illustrious lineage resides (sometimes) right here in New Orleans. Say it with me now: Mayor Brad Pitt.

"Mayor Brad Pitt." I kind of like the way that sounds.

Friday, June 12, 2009

MyCatholic Pyramid: Nutrition for Your Soul

Your body isn't the only thing that needs nutrition. (sorry about my misspelling ans grammar mistakes on this one. )

Daily Prayer - Simply stated. Do it. Frame your day in prayer. Don't know where to begin? Begin with a Morning offering. Don't forget about any devotions or novenas you might be doing or that you can start. Also recommended is a 15 minute period of silent prayer (yeah I know but the world is very noise and God seems to speak to us in the silence of our heart. Why not give our heart a hand and turn off the TV, cell phone, radio, iPod, and computer to better focus?) Don't forget an evening prayer to end your day too.

Sacraments/Sacramentals - Well you wouldn't starve your body for 6 days then have a feast would you? It just doesn't make sense, and it is a poor way to maintain your physical health. So then why do it to your soul? Mass is where Catholics receive and consume the Bread of Life, the Bread of the Angels. Can't get to mass? Try a spiritual Communion. Here is one that I like:
I wish, my Lord, to receive You with the purity, humility, and devotion with which Your most holy Mother received You, with the spirit and fervor of the saints. And although I am not able to receive You in the Eucharist, I ask that You be with me as You are in the Eucharist. I ask this through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in Your name. Amen.

Think of the mass as food for your soul and the sacramentals and the vitamins that help nourish your soul so that the food you eat is processed at a supperior capacity.

Study the Faith - At all times be ready to give an explanation for your belief, Says Saint Paul in his letters. Face it. Most of us are going to have children to whom we will need to pass on our faith. It is extremely helpful to know what it is you are going to be passing on to your children. After all, if you don't know Algebra then there is no way you can hand on algebraic knowledge to your children. It is likewise with the faith. Plus, with the way the media has a tendency to misrepresent the Catholic position and teachings on that position, you can't really count on them to do this for you. Also, it would be nice if you could explain to your child that the reason the Catholic Church does not let women be priest is not because the Church is a He Man Woman Hater Club. Finally, if you have the luck as I do, you will often encounter liberal Hollywood types in the bars and pubs while they are in town filming a movie while they are watching the USC game at the same pub or bar that you are in while watching the Notre Dame game. It is comical to watch a person who knows little about the Catholic faith attack the faith that they know nothing about and then are forced to back peddel in order to try and save fact instead of admitting that they have no idea about that which they speak.

Don't know where to begin doing this. Start with some of the basic Apologetic Books on the faith. You can get some real beginners like "Did Adam and Eve have Belly Buttons" to something more philosophical such as Kreeft's "Handbook of Christian Apologetics." Beyond all the apologetics stuff and want more 'serious' theology? Try the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you are beyond that, then hit up some of the primary sources: church documents, encyclicals, and theologians. Many are on the web and can be found with a quick web search.

Spiritual Reading - Only a fool would ignore the wisdom of those who have already walked your path. So why not learn from them and read the wisdom that they received from the Holy Spirit? The great thing is that many of the spiritual classics can be found on the web: Imitation of Christ, Introduction to the Devout Life, Confessions, Secrets of the Rosary, etc. DON'T FORGET SCRIPTURE! Yes, I know we are Catholic, but that doesn't mean you don't have to read the Bible. So take it down from the top shelf in your closet, dust it off, open it up and start reading. You will be amazed what actually is and is not in scripture. You will also be amazed at what people think is in scripture and in reality isn't (no where in scripture does it say "God helps those who help themselves.") Open the holy book and learn what else it doesn't say.

The Rosary and Angelus - Ooooo. Two 'Marian' things. Yes, but Marian devotion is intrinsic to the Christian life. Remember, the Rosary is primarily a meditation on the life of Christ. It is also a pray asking Mary to intercede for us. Also, Mary isn't dead. She is in Heaven with the other saints. Our God is the God of the Living and not the God of the Dead. Praying the Rosary can take as much time as you see fit. Though if done efficiently it can be done in 15 minutes (that is 1% of your entire day. It take you longer than that to brew and drink that 4th cup of coffee you drak today). If you have trouble staying focused try praying along with an audio rosary. The Angelus is a brief midday prayer in which the pray-er remembers Mary's Fiat (That means 'yes' in some old language and does not refer to the car she drove.) and her role in salvation history. It is also a brief meditation on the Incarnation, which is really what it is about, as every Marian doctrine is focused on revealing and emphasizing the glory of God.

Fasting/Abstinence/Penance/Sacrifice - Christ Himself said that there are some demons that can only be driven out through fasting. Doing these things help train the body. Train the body, train the mind, train the soul. It really is futile to try to train your soul without trying to train your body. However, training your body is also futile if you are not doing it for the love of Christ. Christians have also believed that there is a redemptive quality in all forms of suffering. So when you take on an a voluntary act of suffering via Fasting/Abstinence/Penance/Sacrifice it only becomes more fruitful as you are willingly accepting it instead of just finding yourself standing in the muck of pain and only offering it up because you have nothing else to do.

A Daily Examen - Most people refer to this and the daily "examine of conscience". A true examen isn't just looking at your conscience and what you did good and bad, where you loved God and where you failed to Love God through your day. An examen like that can surely make a person depressed. However, the Examen in the Ignatian tradition is a "brief review of your day recalling events and taking note of your feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions in how God is present in your life and the time when the Holy Spirit was drawing you toward life." Don't know how to do an examen? Go here for a guided audio examen/review of your day.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

FREE Donuts from Krispy Kreme!

Krispy Kreme donuts are one of my favorite donuts that are out there. They have got to be some of the most unhealthy things around though. In honor of National Doughnut Day (notice the spelling of "Donut".) Your local Krispy Kreme Donught is giving away free donuts.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

New York Times, Ink Cartriages and Cistercian Monks

The NYT has a nice story about those Cistercian monks in Wisconsin that refill toner cartridges and the laywomen that helped get their business off the ground.

Check out there article here.

Man vs. Ferrell

Even though it is the same premise every episode, I still enjoy watching Bear figure his way of of each episode of Man vs. Wild. I am especially looking forward to this week's episode after learning that comedian Will Ferrell will be trying to survive the Wild with Bear on Tuesday Night (10 p.m. ET, Discovery Channel).

Here is a little preview that the people over at the Discovery Channel linked me to.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Geaux to France

Bags not quite packed and I'm not quite ready to go, but I bit the bullet and am finally getting to Europe after canceling several planned trips during my college years. I'll be in France for three weeks in July. My main goal is to eat cheese, drink wine, read, and visit some holy sites, but mostly eat cheese and drink wine.

I'm hitting up some of the standards: Lourdes, Paris, D-Day beaches, etc, seeing that I am neither versed in the language or know much about the country I am hoping that some of y'all might be willing to offer some suggestions on places to go, food to eat, and things to see.

I do hope to see St. Bernadette body. A coworker is asking for me to bring back one of her finger nail clippings, apparently they are still growing. All I have to do is figure out how to say, "Excuse me, can you tell when I can find St. Bernadette uncorrupted body, so that I might procure one of her fingernails, which I hear are still being clipped because her nails are still growing even after 120 years after her death?" If you can help me with this phrase, I'd be in your debt.

I also am a fan of St. Louis de Montfort, so I need to figure out where he is located.

Any assistance would be great.

Not Said by Jesus Sunday

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Ultimate Battle

This is one of the funniest things I have read in a while.  No, seriously.  I couldn't breath at one point.

The Slanket, the Snuggie, the Freedom Blanket or the supremely expensive and extravagant Blankoat? This is the most important question of the millennium. You're about to know the answer.
Those who haven't seen the Snuggie ad or one of its many parodies and aren't aware of the blanket-with-sleeves phenomenon get no sympathy from us. Unless, you've just awoken from an eight-month coma, in which case: Welcome back! To recap, the Snuggie is the most famous and widely marketed of the many blanket-with-sleeves. The Freedom Blanket originated the idea, the Slanket followed up, and recently, the Blankoat decided to take it into a ridiculous dimension.
But which is the best for you? We tried each of them the way they were meant to be worn: on the sofa, lying down, with one fist buried in a bag of Doritos and the other cradling a bottle of beer. We gained thirty-five pounds, but it was so worth it.
And for those of you who think that the whole blanket-with-sleeves product could just as easily be accomplished with a robe worn backwards? We tested that too.

PS.  I have to put my computer in the shop to get the DC in port fixed.  Sad, I know.  So in the mean time,since I can't post from work, I am going to try the blogger email posting feature -- which is what I am using now.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Barack O'Dame

I was thinking last night. What would have been the reaction if Obama, while at the commencement speech, had taken his place to begin his commencement address for the class of 2009 at Notre Dame, and instead of saying what he did said something else in turn. Here is my imagination, and I think it would have put Obama in a better light than he realized had he done it differently.

"Ladies and gentlemen, new alumni of Notre Dame of the class of 2009, It is an honor and a privilege to speak at one of the great universities of America.

. . . (He says all his plaudits and moves to the end of his speech)

Many of you have heard me speak at length before about the difficulties of life. The struggles we all face as Americans when trying to work together, to find the common ground, to unify, to be America. It is never without strife and turmoil that goods in life are achieved. If a goal is truly worth having, truly worth obtaining, then you must be willing to fight for it, to run the good race, to be read to endure to the end. It also mean that you must know when to walk away. As not every fight is your fight. Not every struggle is your struggle.

This brings me to my next point. Like I said, it is an honor to be here speaking to the Notre Dame community. However, I also know that a house divided cannot stand. A house divided is no house at all. To some extent, my visit to this university, and what I am doing now, has been the cause of great controversy in America. I have seen the letters from bishops to Father Jenkins. I have read the blogs and the papers and have watched all the news stories. I have been briefed on the problem at hand and wish not to cause more problems for an institution that has so supported America in it's educating the population.

Though I speak here with honor, I cannot out of good conscience, out of the fear of causing confusion and strife among the the Catholics and Christians in America, accept the I honorary law degree from this fine academic institution, as I know that Christianity if far too big and too encompassing to be placed into one political field."

I do wonder what the reaction would have been. As I see that it would have only be to his advantage to do such a thing. Just because one is bestowed with an honorary degree that does not mean that he is obliged to take it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

O' Notre Bama

For a good run down of some events that some pro-lifers staged for the Obama speach at Notre Dame, check out Jill Stanek's blog. Photo's, videos and more. There is even a video of an elderly priest being arrested (my computer was acting weird, so I just embeded the video of the priest being arrested below.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Music and the Passions

[Author's note: My 8th graders kept asking me if listening to music that uses foul language in it is a sin. I always replied "what does it matter? Why would you want to fill your mind with that stuff anyway?" To which they would shrug or say "because it's a good song. It's got beat." Anyway, this was something I did in class the other day. They liked it. I'm not sure if they got the message. I will say, they did prove my point. People are moved by music."

I am open to any constructive criticism. I would like to clean up the slides a little.

Please forgive my typos and grammatical errors. This is just a rough outline of what I intended to say. I assure you, I did many tangents.

Also, if you like, feel free to borrow, change or add.]

If we lived in a world where virtue and goodness was held up with esteem and rewarded over the seemingly more profitable vice, dishonesty, and slander there would be nothing to risk, but also not much to gain. As often, doing the good seems to be the riskier endeavor. If the good was easy, there would be no trial necessary for goodness, and evil would be more readily apparent to us. However, we do not live in a world as such. Our world is fallen and we have been set to work and toil in order to find most things that can be deemed as good.

So in a number of cases, we are set about, according to our own wits, to figure out what is good and what is evil, what will bring us closer to God and what will lead us farther away from God.

So to a number of people this, to God or away from God, sets Christians up against the world. This is not the view proposed by the Gospels and with Catholic Theology.

In Genesis, God give man a responsibility to labor with Him. Therefore we are called to be co-laborers with God. Our job as Christians is to labor with God to renew the world and establish the Kingdom of God.

This call takes on an even greater importance since the fall as the good that existed before the fall is not nearly as noticeable. Even when it was noticeable with man in paradise, man still didn’t do a great job following the good. Unfortunately we have 1000 different things trying to get out attention: radio, news shows, TV, video games, friends, enemies, and the list can go on. Like with Adam and Eve the serpent was trying to get their attention off of doing the good, and he successive.

How much more able do you think we are able to fix and keep our attention on God and on the good things in life knowing that unlike our first parents we live in a fallen world while they lived in paradise? What makes you think that you will be more successful than them?

So this is why I do this presentation. In an attempt to help you in a fallen world. Though we live in a fallen world it does no mean that we must be of the fallen world and five in to all the evils that are present. Christ actually calls us to live in the world but not to be of the world.

In 1993 Professer Keith P. Thompson, professer of music éducation, Penn. State, surveyed a number of teens and concluded that on average 7th and 8th graders listen to about 3.31 hours of music a day.

In 2008 the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine published a study which Content Analysis of Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs in Popular Music. They determind that the average 15-18 year old listens to 2.4 hours of music a day.

A University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study released in 2007 warned of the dangers posed by songs that refer to substance abuse. The researchers noted, “Music is known to be highly related to personal identity: young people often model themselves in terms of dress, character, and behavior after musical figures.”

The same study done in 2008 by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that
- 9 out of 10 teens have a mp3 player or CD player in their room. , which often results in parents not keeping tabs on what their children are listening to. So what. Right? Well this is going to be at least one or more hours where to what the teen is listening is unsupervised what is going into his mind has a free pass.

The same study done in 2008 by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that

- - 1 in 3 popular songs contains explicit references to drug or alchol use.

That calculates to
- About 35 references to substance abuse an hour. (more than 1 every 2 min)

Imagine if your mother came into your room every two min. and told you to take out the garbage or clean your room or wash the dog or cut the grass. After a while we would get really frustrated with it. A nagging mother has an impact on us.

Currently the world, especially in the US, seems very concerned with what goes into the body, the food we eat the nutritional value of our dinner. There is something even a moral undertone when people go out to dinner. They ask “Should I eat this?” As if eating one of your regularly scheduled meals for the day at a restaurant is a moral decision.

Yet, not many people stop to consider what they put into their mind. If I eat donuts all day long the out come will be obvious. What if you fill you mind with all sorts of negativity? What if you fill your mind with all sorts of sexual references? What if you fill your mind with all sorts of drug references or ideas about suicide?

Ultimately, music boils down to communication. The musician is trying to communicate something to you. Sometime it is good. Other times it is not so good.

Does music affect me? Let us look at what some of the experts say on the the influence of the media/music on teens and the American populace.

In May of 1999, during an interview about youth violence and the influence of the media, “CBS president Les Moonves stated to a Washington Post reporter, “Anyone who thinks the media [have] nothing to do with [youth violence] is an idiot.” NOISE pg 24

Rebecca Collins, PhD, senior author of a new study called Watching Sex on Television Predicts Adolescent Initiation of Sexual Behavior, which appears in the September 2004 issue of Pediatrics, the following in regards to young children learning from what they see on TV "It's social learning: 'monkey see, monkey do'. "If everyone's talking about sex or having it, and something bad hardly ever comes out of it, because it doesn't on TV, then they think, 'Hey, the whole world's doing it, and I need to.' ”

When responding to the question “How do you feel about girls who swear?” in a spring issue of Teen magazine, Daniel, a 17 year old from new york replied, "Considering that foul language is in most movies and music that teens listen to, it doesn't surprise me if a girl swears. It's just a part of teen speak”

Speaking on the power of music in reference to the Columbine killers, Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, said the following about the influence and power of music. "I think there's no doubt that music is a great emotional companion and when you introduce words into a person's psyche - with all the emotion that music can bring - you're affecting the human condition."

Writing on the impact of music on the lives of teens, Hank Hanegraaf, wrote in a January issue of Christian Research Report that, "Billions of advertising dollars are spent each year on the premise that behavior will be impacted. As noted by Bojrk, music 'is being used everywhere to create attitudes - armies use martial music, couples listen to romantic music, churches use organs, choirs, and hymns. How can anyone suppose that music (plus the images of television, movies, advertisements) about sex and violence has no effect?'’”

A common answer to the question “Does music affect me?” is “NO, music does not affect me.” This is actually a naive comment and disregards music’s communicative ability to move people to action or lack thereof.

If communication did not affect people, then there would be no such thing as advertisements. Advertisements are a form of communication set at convincing a person that one product is superior to another. Many advertisements even have jingles associated with its product. McDonalds (Bah, dah, dah, dah, dah) I’m lovin’ it.

Now we heard the music experts chime in about the impact that media makes, what about the scientists.

Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio found that listening to music for 1 hour a day lessened a person’s chronic pain by as much as 21 percent and lessened a person’s depression by as much as 25 percent. It also increased feelings of power and control. Those people who participated in the study and did not listen to music actually recorded an increase in pain.

In 2005 an article titled “Music Improves Sleep Quality in Older Adults” was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. The study found that soothing music-specifically music with a tempo of 60-80 beats per minute (BPM) (which is the range of a natural heart beat at rest)-resulted in significantly better sleep quality, better perceived sleep quality, longer sleep duration, greater sleep efficiency, and more.

This Russian guy, whose name I never remember, discovered that before every political revolution that we have an account of, prior to that revolution there was a shift or change in music style, genre, and message -- music drove (did not cause) but urged and encouraged the revolution.

The Irish having their instruments taken from them by the English. Also the French Canadians who made their way to Louisiana.

Clinical psychologist Charles Emery of Ohio State University discovered that listening to music while you exercises nearly doubles your mental activity and clears the mind better that just exercise alone.

Plato saw and realized the power that music had over the masses and proposed that his ideal of what a king should be would have to be first trained in music.

Music is being used as therapy (both the making and listening to) in helping treat all kinds of things: Strokes, schitroziphrenia, dementia, Autism

The APAM concluded that “Music is well-known to connect deeply with adolescents and to influence identity development, perhaps more than any other entertainment medium.”

In regard to identity. Think of how some of the teens dress, act and speak. The kids who listen to punk dress, speak, and act a certain way. Like wise with the kids who listen to hardcore or emo or gangster/thug rap all dress, speak and act a certain way. Often their speak and slang is modeled on the lyrics in songs and what the musicians say in interviews with the media. Their dress is also modeled off of what the musicians are wearing (if they can get it). Of course, imitation is the highest form of flattery. People want to imitate their heroes, the people to whom they admire.

Just think of the TV show “Jackass” and the disclaimer that now runs at the beginning of the show. In the early days of the show, there was no disclaimer. The disclaimer was only put up after teens started trying to recreate the stunts that the show was doing and instead getting seriously injured.

The power of music lies in the imagination. Unlike rational thinking and our school studies. Music, like most art, is not censored by our rational mind and often we find ourselves reacting to a song before we even realize we are reacting to it. Our rational mind would say “How foolish do you look bobbing you head and doing such motions.” While our imagination overrides , so to speak, our rational mind and says “YEAH!”

Think of a passing car that has his music blaring. Many of us, by reaction would start bobbing our heads or bouncing a bit.

Music has the ability to move us without our even knowing.
It is like we have no filter on our minds when we listen to music.

What do I mean` by “The Passions” Not a strong emotional outburst.

Passions are in and of themselves morally neutral. Our passions are meant to be moved, but they are also meant to be kept in checked. They are bout moderation. Passions that go unchecked often run off with out reason and rule our lives for us. A Person who lives by his or her passions might have the inability to say “no” to eating too much food, or having too much sex, or acting out of hate and hurting others, etc . . . Lack of self control.

On the other side, the person who refuses to acknowledge he or she has passions finds that they have the inability to love properly, be courageous, and have joy in life.

• Love - yearning for union with a person or a thing. (like marriage)
• Hate - Eagerness to rid ourselves of what displeases us. You love health so we hate disease.
• Desire - We quest for an absent good. You pass by the donuts at a grocery store and you want them because you are hungry or need sugar in yoru diet.
• Aversion - Maskes us run or repel. You see a rabid dog so you run away from it.
• Hope - eagerly waiting for a good which is possible through difficult. (Heaven or a date with a cute girl)
• Despair - Arises when good that is loved seems impossible. (going out with that cute gurl you really really like.)
• Joy - Satisfaction of present good. Eating a nice juicy hamburger.
• Saddness - Makes us grieve over present evil. Your dog is killed.
• Courage – Moves us to action. (Correcting a friend when they are doing evil)
• Fear - Makes us shrink back from an evil. (Shrinking back from (or avoiding) evil people, things, objects, etc . . .)
• Anger - Violently repels what hurts us, and incites the desire of revenge. (someone murdered your dad)

We often have a tendency to name music after our passions. “oh that’s an angry song” or “Oh that’s a love song”. . . etc . . .

How exactly does music move our passions? It is a combination of things. But it is what makes music what it is. And good music will have the above 5 things and they will be exemplified in a manner that is good. When music is lacking in one of these, it can often be called Ugly music.

For instance, if you might have the best technique on the sax. You could play the most complicated jazz lick. But if you don’t have a good tone no one is going to want to hear you play.

If you are a barber shop quartet and can’t sing in harmony and unity and get a good barber shop quartet tone then you aren’t going to be a very good barber shop quartet.

Good music seek to balance these 5 qualities and goes from one passion to the next; fear to love; sadness to joy; despair to courage; Anger to Hope.

Ugly music over emphasizes one of the five qualities of good music.
Looks to over emphasize 1 passion to the extent that the others don’t seem to be present. Ugly music fails to move from one passion to the next. Song goes from Fear to fear or sadness to more sadness or from despair to an even greater despair: love to love, joy to joy, etc . . .

Music by nature of what it is often follows a pattern. The above pattern is not unique to the art of music alone. It is found in great literature also.

Good music builds and climbs. Takes you an a journey.

Ugly music. Leads you nowhere.

You can pretty much use any music for this experiment but here are a few suggestions. I usually have about 31 songs ready to go that way if I go too shot I can fill time with some extra songs. When I presented this in class, I did not show the video. I only played the music. Also, I'm using Youtube here only because it is a quick place to find some of the music I need for this post. I would play the music and have the students/teens guess as to which passion was being moved.

Song 1
Song 2
Song 3
Song 4
Song 5
Song 6
Song 7
Song 8
Song 9
Song 10 (or anyother appropriate college fight song . . . Like LSU)
Song 11
Song 12
Song 13
Song 14
Song 15

I am not by any means saying “Do not listen to music.” or “Do not listen to this kind of music.” I am not saying that. What I am saying is that you must be careful to what you are listening. It is like my mother used to say. "Garbage in; garbage out." You can't expect gold to come from dung.

If you want to solve this problem: alternative. Respond to the evil with love. Find the good musicians and the good music that seeks to move you closer to beauty.

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