Monday, December 13, 2010

Animated Apologetics

I have one very small class that was ahead of my other class. So to ensure that they didn't get to far ahead of my other classes, I gave them a brief apologetics assignment where they had to answer a question, make a dialogue, and animate it using  Here are two done by my students.

Call no man Father.

Why Pray for the Dead.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


I have been learning to use a web presentation program called Prezi.  I'm a little tired of powerpoint.  Here is a brief review for part of the coming exam I placed online for my students to use.  Thought others might enjoy too.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not Said By Jesus: Steve Johnson Edition

Apparently Buffalo Bill's receiver Steve Johnson hasn't read the Bible much (see the book of Job, or just read the Gospels and see what happened to Jesus). Christians, called to be imitators of Christ in all things, sufferings too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Porn Spoils Burglary . . .

and many other things in life. Here is a story of a man who is hooked on porn to the extent that he had to stop, while in the middle of robbing a house, get online and watch some porn.  In the middle of his escapades, the woman's house who he was robbing caught him. 

Porn Spoils Burglary

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October: Month of the Rosary

October is the month of the Rosary.  Like every other Catholic in the world, I own a rosary.  Unlike every other Catholic in the world, I lose them regularly.  When I wasn't busy losing my rosaries I found that the plastic ones fell apart too easily, metal ones I could afford were too fragile and would fall apart after a week or two in my pocket, I could never tell where the decades ended or began on the knotted rosaries, and the ones made of cord and wood beads often resulted in the beads splitting off after an accidental wash. 

Solution:  a rosary ring.  The ring is simple,  easy to use, doesn't fall apart, and since I keep it on my key ring I don't lose it.   There's no special story about it.  No one important or special gave this particular rosary to me.  It's not blessed by the Pope.  I didn't take it on a trip with me.   It didn't help me find my vocation.  The only real story is that I have a rosary ring, and I use it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adult Film Star Tests Positive for HIV, Studios Stop Production

From Article:
At least five companies in California's multibillion-dollar adult entertainment industry have halted production after an actor tested positive for HIV, and more shutdowns were possible, the head of a major production company said Wednesday.
 You can only play with fire for so long till you get burned.

The Hypersexualization of Cancer: How "I heart Boobies" bracelets miss the mark.

"I heart Boobies."  "Save the Ta-tas."  Two provocative phrases meant to raise breast cancer awareness.  These two slogans have been around for sometime now, but have made national news over the last couple of months.  I have never paid much attention to the breast cancer awareness slogans, and wrote it off as an immature way for someone to make a buck on someone else's misfortune.  No longer am I able to ignore the "I heart Boobies" campaign, as students at the school at which I work are now wearing them (mostly adolescent boys).

Upon seeing the bracelets on my students' wrists I have made a new rule for my classroom, no "I heart Boobies" bracelets in my classroom.  Some of the students try to argue with me about it and here are the reasons I give them"

1.  A Hypersexualization of Cancer.  One would think the last thing on the earth that would become hypersexualized would be cancer; however, that is no longer the case. The "I heart Boobies" bracelets take a serious issue such as cancer and trivialize it by reducing cancer to sex.  The logic presented in the bracelets is disheartening, as it makes the survival of breast cancer to be only about saving boobies and not about the real goal which is saving a person's life.  For a person who has cancer surviving cancer is not about saving a body part.  Many cancer sufferers would, if they could, gladly go without a body part than die.  Surviving cancer is about living a longer, healthier life, free of cancer.  I fail to see how "I heart boobies" raises that kind of awareness. 

2.  It Objectifies women.  By focusing on loving boobies, these bracelets and the campaign run the danger of reducing the woman down to be only her boobies.  When in reality, a woman is a person with human dignity and not merely a set of boobs.

3.  Human beings: Not Animals.  "I heart Boobies" and "Save the Ta-Ta's" bear too close a resemblance to other famous "Save the" campaigns: Save the Whales.  Save the Rain forest.  Save the Ozone.  Cancer is not Captain Ahab, and Cancer is not a mean businessman who is trying to deforest the rain forests for profit.  Again, this runs the risk of stripping a human person of their dignity and reducing the person to be either merely animal or merely a thing.

4.  Maturity.  Most adolescent boys (yes the boys are the ones who like wearing these) are not mature enough to have a serious conversation about breast cancer.  When 14 year-olds still laugh at the word "ass" when used in the Bible to refer to a donkey, how can we expect them to think seriously about something like breasts.  Most boys of this age still blush at the use of the words "penis" and "vagina."  Plus, if an adolescent boy needs to wear a reminder on his wrist that he likes boobies then he has a fundamental emotional problem and needs to seek help immediately.

5.  Psychological.  The "I heart Boobies" disregards other dimensions of cancer.  Mainly the psychological struggles cancer sufferers commonly go through: depression, anxiety, stress.  These are to a much higher degree than what most people face on a day to day basis.  Plus a number of the cancer sufferers must face the reality of an early death.  

6.  Sexist.  By hearting boobies, the campaign forgets about the male demographic who suffer from breast cancer, for men don't have boobies.  Why is the male demographic being ignored in this campaign?  Are people so aware of breast cancer that they already know men migth suffer from breast cancer as well?

 7.  What About Other Forms of Cancer?  I highly doubt that other forms of cancer would be treated with the same disrespect to the human person.  What kind of slogan would be used for testicular cancer?  What kind of slogan would be used for prostate cancer?  What would the slogan be for colon cancer (*More people actually die from colon cancer every year than breast cancer.)?

In brief, the "I heart boobies" bracelets miss the mark in raising breast cancer awareness.  Certainly they might raise money for breast cancer research, but at what cost?  If people were really interested in raising awareness of breast cancer, how about starting with the possible connection that oral contraceptives (birth control) might raise the risk of acquiring breast cancer in women.  [UPDATE: I removed a link that went here that discussed the possible connection between abortion and breast cancer.  Much of the data reference was 30 years dated.  She directed me to the American Cancer Society site to two links on breast cancer and abortion.  The short story is that the ACS finds no causation between abortion and breast cancer.  Though it did not go into whether or no there is a correlation between abortion and breast cancer.  However, a recent study in 2009 by Dr. Dolle on Risk Factors for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer states that there is a link between birth-control, hormonal levels, abortion and breast cancer.  It is worth a read.]

Also, I'd like to see these individuals raise awareness by sticking with the pink bracelets and replacing the "I heart Boobies" slogan with "Mom", "Sister", "Aunt", "Grandmother" or "Friend."  It raises awareness in a more concrete way by connecting cancer to a person and not to a set of breasts.

Lastly, on the advice of my friend from the update above, if you know a woman encourage her to get an exam, do a self exam, and get a screening for breast cancer and if possible get one often.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Church Doesn't Hop on Bandwagons.

Where does one begin responding to such non-sense?
Mike Sweitzer-Beckman writes in a recent article at the NCReporter , "This past month, I read with a heavy heart about the multiple reports of gay teenagers who took their own lives as a result of bullying."
I do hope he has the same heavy heart for straight teens who take their own life because of bullying.  Why is it significant that these individuals were gay?
Some people say that bullying happens to everyone. I would say that there is a difference between getting picked on because you got some new glasses or braces and being bullied because of a marker of your human identity.
Whoa there, since when does your sexuality orientation define human identity?  I thought it was being made in the image and likeness of God that define human identity.
Who is missing from this list? I have not heard any prominent Catholic Church clergy speak out on this catastrophe.
Why this matters I have no idea.  As time and time again the Catholic Church has said the same thing over and over and the world refuses to listen.  But Mike might want to read the USCCB's statement on violence against women in which it states very clearly, "The Catholic Church teaches that violence against another person in any form fails to treat that person as someone worthy of love. Instead, it treats the person as an object to be used."
I think the better questions is not why are catholic leaders not speaking out, because they already have, but why was the Catholic Church ignored?
It is time for church leaders to stop waiting for the bandwagon to pull on past and to take a stand to lead the charge.
Since when is jumping on a bandwagon a good thing?  I thought most people hated bandwagon jumpers because they are individuals who aren't true to the message.  Also, the problem is exactly as Mike states, bandwagons pass on by.  Bandwagons are trends and fads, something the Church has never been and has never stood for and those trends soon too will pass.
Do we want our church to pull another Galileo and get it right some 500 years later?
When in doubt, throw Galileo at the Church.  Won't people allow the Church to move on?  Also, does this guy know anything about the Galileo the Church Canon case (yes he was a Canon of the Catholic Church)?  Galileo's views were 'condemned' as something incompatible with the catholic faith at the time because Galileo, at the time, did not have sufficient evidence to support his , at the time, theory.  Moreover what got him in real trouble was when he started acting as theologian insisting that scripture needed to be reinterpreted in light of his theory.  Lastly, it was a panel of 12 cardinals who made the decision.   Twelve Cardinals hardly speak for the entirety of "the Church."  The ruling of the 12 cardinals was not an infallible decision.

The church has a mission to be prophetic, to listen to the social and natural science experts around us
Which social experts?  The ones who say homosexuality is a mental disorder?  The ones who say that people have certain inclinations to sin (oh wait a sec. this sounds like church teaching)? 
Also, being prophetic means to proclaim God's message and not to hop on board with the latest trend.  Being prophetic means standing for the unfailing and eternal truths of God.
Moreover, who would want to jump on with social and natural scientists who promote a lifestyle that is clearly unhealthy?  The Center for Disease Control writes in HIV among Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) that "Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM)1 represent approximately 2% of the US population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV and are the only risk group in which new HIV infections have been increasing steadily since the early 1990s. In 2006, MSM accounted for more than half (53%) of all new HIV infections in the United States, and MSM with a history of injection drug use (MSM-IDU) accounted for an additional 4% of new infections. At the end of 2006, more than half (53%) of all people living with HIV in the United States were MSM or MSM-IDU. Since the beginning of the US epidemic, MSM have consistently represented the largest percentage of persons diagnosed with AIDS and persons with an AIDS diagnosis who have died." 
Who in their right mind would want to promote a styling of living that accounts for over half the new cases of HIV?
Last month a group of students and even some clergy at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in Minnesota attended the weekly Mass wearing rainbow-colored bands to stand in solidarity with those in the gay and lesbian community who are being bullied across the country.

They did not raise a ruckus. They did not shout out during the homily.

Regardless, they were refused the Eucharist by Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Minneapolis/St. Paul archdiocese.

The Minneapolis StarTribune reported [3] that Dennis McGrath, the spokesman for the archdiocese, said people wearing a rainbow sash are not allowed to receive the Eucharist because they are making a political statement.

However, in denying these Catholic faithful the Eucharist, the church is ironically making a political statement. It is a case where a church leader took a stance and it doesn't seem to agree with Jesus' teachings on justice and love for neighbor.

The Acrhbishop was not making a 'political statement'.  The Archbishop was making a THEOLOGICAL and MORAL statement.  People really need to stop politicizing the Church.  It is only a political statement in the eyes of many because they foolishly think that an ancient institution and religion that is nearly 2000 years old is Left or Right.  Why does noone every ask if Ghandi is left or right?  Also, I would be willing to bet the Archbishop would have done the same for individuals who wore "I Hate Fags" buttons.
Also, the Archbishop was forced to make a decision on the spot.   As a teacher, I have learned that if it looks questionable and smells fishy, it often times is.  The Archbishop saw something questionable and instead of letting others unknowingly eat and drink condemnation on themselves, he saw it fit as the pastor of their souls that they refrain from receiving the Eucharist at the celebration of the Eucharist.  It was a very pastoral response to the situation.
There is plenty of scriptural basis for treating our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters with dignity and respect.
Jesus commands us to live in right relationship with one another in John 15:12-13, 17:
"This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends ... This I command you, that you love one another."

Dignity and respect, yes.  Remember, love does not mean letting others do harm to themselves and others at the same time.  Love does NOT mean never having to say "I am sorry."
They crack open another story from the Gospel of John when Lazarus is called out of the tomb by Jesus and begins to live a new life. This is a metaphor for gay and lesbian people who have just clarified their sexual orientation to the world. Rather than hiding in a closet, a gay or lesbian person is given new life.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION HAS NOTING TO DO WITH THE RASING OF LAZARUS!  The story isn't even about Lazarus.  It is about Christ being the Resurrection and the Life.  It is aimed at showing how Christ fulfills his words with actions.  This is a horrendous misuse of Sacred Scripture where its focus is turned off of Christ and onto the reader.  Such an interpretation does violence to the Word of God.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Peace Project: A Short Story

Date:  310418211.3a7
Subject: The Planet known as 'Earth'
Entry#: 4473811
Last Entry Date:  21948372.2s1 (approximately 250 Earth years.)
Watcher #: L7487-924

Since the last entry, the planet known as 'Earth' has changed more rapid than usual.  The life span of the humans who live on this planet is significantly shorter than ours -- thus the need for quick adaptation.  In order to make an accurate report, I have spent some time reading their archives for this entry to determine what caused this change to the species and the planet.  This is what has been determined.

On the night of the 11-12 of December 2512, war as the humans knew it ended, and with it -- some of their species might say -- so ended humanity.

It began long ago.  Attempts at peace.  If what their literature says is true, it began some time in the days of their pre-history.  Wars were fought for peace. Tribes attempted to establish peace and control the whims of humanity.  Later, politicians, clerics, philosophers followed in suit.  "Peace" they all preached, and "War" was their answer.  A tool was made, and the tool was misused.  This was the state of humanity as accounted for since the records of their pre-history. 

A noticeable shift in humanity could be seen by those who were vigilant in the year 2213.  It was the year when the Peace Program was first invented by several undergraduate students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  As computers became smaller -- desktop, to laptop, to netbook, to handheld computing, to wrist computing the size of watches, and credit card computing -- the ever shrinking technology allowed three MIT students to hypothesize a way peace could be had by means of the computing devices all people carried with them.  When the Peace Program was first released, no one expected much from the program -- not even the students' professors.  It had every indication of being a failure at a lofty humanitarian effort of peace.  But the program survived through the years and developed with each advancement of technology.

The Peace Program gained its biggest support and push in 2315.  During this age, people installed and implanted computational devices in their bodies 8 days after birth.  This was the law of the world and none were exempt.  The race to be the first nation to reach the outer planets is what initially drove the implantation of the Limbabellum Stimulation Devices (LD) in citizens across the world. The LDs enhanced the computational thinking power of the mind and senses by tapping into the long dormant recesses of the brain.  Some years after the mandatory implantation of said devices, the IQ of the entire planet rose on average 100 points.  Fifth grade students were doing advanced physics and first grade students were reading and writing commentary on the Shakespearean Canon. 

Though the LDs, implanted near the cerebellum, were regulated and monitored by the World Union Government (WUG) -- an informal unionized government whose laws had no bearing on the populace but were obeyed by all, this did not stop the commercial industry from tapping into the device and using it for their own means.  Soon an entire industry existed solely to produce products for the device.  Many aimed at tapping into the neurotransmitters to which the device was connected to produce a variety of effects.  The most common of products were ones that caused a decrease in the learning curve for whatever was being learned.  Instead of it taking years of laborious practice and numerous failures, master musicians, writers, mathematicians could be had in a mater of months.  By means of the LD, the Peace Project was able to take hold in society, instead of creating a virtual world one only heard and saw, the Peace Project engineers were able to tap into multiple senses and stimulate a release of serotonin into the brain producing a state of peaceful bliss in the person using the Peace Project.  Users reported a dip in stress levels, better sleep, and more productivity.

The government allowed for the Peace Program to use the LD, but strictly regulated with harsh penalties which transmitters and sections of the brain could be stimulated and which could not.  Moreover, with the advent of the marriage of the LD and the Peace Project, the World Union Government (WUG), exercising reason, saw it fitting to limit the amount of time a person could use the Peace Program with the LD.  Each Peace Program was sold with a timer that would shut down the Peace Program after using the system for the maximum time allotted by the WUG (45 minutes).  The Program would then not reboot for a full 48-hour period.

Though the regulations were in place, it was only a matter of time before some one worked around the restrictions and blocks put in place by the government.  As it is with humanity, the good is often twisted and misused.  An un-authorized Peace Program was put into secret use in the Maximum Security Prison of Louisiana, which violated the Cerebellum Convention documents that set an international standard upon which sections of the brain can be stimulated and for what length of time those areas may be stimulated, and was used to stimulate the neurotransmitters that were, by law, not allowed to be stimulated by the device.  The Peace Program harnessed the neurotransmitters and increased the dopamine and serotonin levels in the mind to create a world of peace for the individual who was plugged into the Peace Project terminal.  The un-authorized version included, not for public release of knowledge, sensory receptors and stimulators that covered the head and eyes. Sensors and receptors were even inserted into the nasal passages, ears, and mouth.  Those who were plugged into the terminal were in a different world and not only electronically by means of a computer, but there in the senses also. 

The Peace Program was first put to use in the prison on the most violent of inmates who continued their violence in prison despite their location and condition.  The goal of this un-authorized Peace Program was to aid in the rehabilitation of the violent criminals.  It was used both as a disciplinarian tool as well as a learning tool.  It was deemed more humane than solitary confinement; yet, more effective than other programs: group therapy sessions, psychotherapy, and pharmaceuticals.  So the warden at the Maximum Security Prison of Louisiana saw the program as no problem. 

Ted Robicheaux was the first inmate sent to the un-authorized Peace Program.  He was sentenced to life incarceration for the killing of ten individuals over a course of 5 years.  He killed his victims by means of a systematic removal of the flesh.  After the removal of a strip of flesh, he cleaned the wound in an attempt to make His victim live as long as possible.  He kept pints of his own blood on hand in order to supply the victim with more time before death.  He would cook and eat the strips before the victim's own eyes, all done without the aid of narcotics and in a sound proof room in an upper alcove of his house in the Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana.  Robicheaux said it was a "spiritual experience."  "Ecstasy" he said.  It was "like Theresa of Avila wounded by beauty's arrow."  Robicheaux continued his violence in prison, which resulted in the majority of his first two years in solitary confinement.

Having no living family, Ted Robicheaux was the perfect candidate for this experimental implementation of the un-authorized Peace Program.  At first Ted responded well to the program.  While attached to the machines, he was peaceful and never bothered a person.  When he attended his mandatory group rehabilitation meetings, he produced a level of calm that none had seen him with before.  While attending those meetings he said little.  Though calmer, he was more withdrawn from those around him. Finally, and unexpectedly, Ted became agitated, full of anxiety, anger and wrathful, ready to snap at any person who did not let him be in his own mind.  He exhibited symptoms of depression and often had mood swings from rage to tears.  Systematically, his violence returned, all the while he kept asking for the Peace machine.  He wanted to be hooked back into the machine.  It was there, he said, while covered with electrodes and wires that he "could be himself."  It was "more real than the real world, more sensual than the senses," and "more peaceful than peace itself." Ted Robicheaux got what he desired.  He was permanently installed into the Peace Machine after killing the members of his group rehabilitation during one session.  Due to the Life-to-Life Act of the World Union Government (WUG), which stated, "all measure must be made to ensure the survival of all peoples.  Regardless of their state of life."  steps were made to ensure Ted's survival while installed into the machine:  feeding tubes were placed for nourishment, orderlies were present to assist in his cleaning and changing, and technicians were on site full time to monitor both the machines and Ted.

As months passed, the guards at the Maximum Security Prison of Louisiana reported a positive boost in morale by not having to manage Ted.  The reports were so positive, that soon, other prisoners were installed into the Peace machine: first the violent, then the uncooperative, than the emotionally disturbed, the troubled, the sad, the happy, and it continued over several years till finally the entire prison population was installed into the peace machine.  When the reports came out that the Maximum Security Prison of Louisiana violent incidents had not only decreased over the years but submitted a report 10 years after the installation of Ted Robicheaux in the the Peace Machine to the World Union Government Office of Correctional Institutes (WUGOCI) a violent incident rating of 0%.  This report resulted in the prison being audited by the WUGOCI.  What the WUGOCI Czar found upon his arrival pleased him greatly, and he started a mandatory implementation of the unauthorized peace program across all correctional institutes in the WUG region 10 -- formally known as the United States.

The same pattern was followed and over a course of 10 years, the violent incidents in the WUG region 10  correctional institutes dropped to an all time low of 1%.  Other WUG regions, impressed with the success of the unauthorized Peace Program in WUG region 10, began adopting it in their prison systems with similar results.

Years later, Judges and juries began sentencing people to the Peace Project for a length of time.  Like with Ted, after released from the Peace Project, anxiety increased in those released, and eventually a more serious crime was committed so they could be reinstalled to the Peace machine; repeat offenders were permanently installed. The connection was never made that the Peace Program might be causing the anxiety and crimes.  Causation was never proved and a correlation seemed to have been ignored.  As the crime rates fell, Judges began sentencing individuals to the Peace Project for even the least serious of crimes:  speeding (for it showed signs of aggression which would lead to violence); littering and plastics  (it showed signs of disrespect to the earth and humanity and leads to rebelious behavior and contempt for positions of authority); speaking badly against certain people, parties, ideologies and beliefs (this showed even more aggressive behavior and aggressive behavior begot only more aggressive behavior); and even certain lifestyles were sentenced to the Peace Project.
Wars were non-existent on every front: political, spiritual, and economical.  Jihad was no longer the fear of the world.  From a certain point of view, peace stretched across the world. However, Friends turned friends in to the Peace Project.  Son was set against Father, and Mother was set against daughter.  During this time, the world became scared.  At any moment, a person could be taken away by the Peace Patrol, those officers sworn to protect Peace and the Project.

In the spring of 2400 A.D., WUG agencies across the globe opened Peace Centers, for a nominal fee and a promise of donating their body to the Peace Project upon the end of their life.  People who did not want to live or who couldn't function in the normal world would go voluntarily to these centers and get installed into the peace machines never to be seen again.  Their athletic stadiums, skyscrapers, missile silos and other monolithic structures of every age were transformed into these centers.  Humans in rectangular boxes measuring 6 feet in length, 3 feet in width, and 2 feet in height, were stacked upon each other creating the appearance of massive storehouses.
So, on the night of December 11-12, 2512, Edward Johnson finished fully automating the Peace Machines to function without the aid of human intervention.

His final entry into his log read:

    I am finished.  A lifetime of work.  I can now join my brethren in the Project.  Though when I install myself, as the last of my kind, peace will be and war will be naught, the hungry are fed, the naked have become clothed, the sad rejoice, the sick have been healed, and the dying live.  The Kingdom of Heaven is now.

We will the planet known as Earth, we will continue to monitor.  Though I suspect that monitoring will be less frequent now that their world is installed into their Peace Program. 

This ends report #4473811.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Monday, October 04, 2010

Hilarius New (to me) Blog: Extra-Ordinary Monkey Business

Ever tire of the endless stream of liturgical abuses?  Fear not.  Join Granny Snark for some relief over at Extra-Ordinary Monkey Business and poke fun at the things liturgist think are acceptable: West Coast churches are frequently seen on the blog.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Teaching, Fantasy Football, and Advice to Parents: What a Teacher Wants From the Parents of His Students

By now most schools have already had their parent back to school night and possibly parent teacher conferences.  Both of which amount to a total of about 10 minuets with direct contact between teacher and parent.  As important as teachers are in America, and with many public school systems across the nation failing, one would expect a different approach and attitude toward teaching.  However, this is not the case.

The majority of parents seem satisfied with only seeing the teacher for a minimal amount of time.  Of course, if their child is doing well in class, then the parent is satisfied with the minimal amount of parent-teacher interaction.  However, if the student is failing, no amount of parent-teaching time is enough till the student is passing with grades the parent deems sufficient.

This fact is bothersome.  Especially when one considers the amount of time parents spend doing other non-essentials hobbies.  For instance, August and September gives way to the start of football, which has been elevated to a status far above that of any other weekend activity.  Moreover, if a person were to engross himself in football to the degree EPSN dictates, nothing productive would happen between August and January. 

Today, it is not just a matter of watching football on the weekend.  Now that Fantasy football has come very mainstream, it further skews the importance of the weekend entertainment known as football.  Instead of just flipping on the TV on Sunday to watch your favorite team on the gridiron, one now spends many hours researching the pass defense their number one receiver and quarterback are facing that week. 

But even before rosters are set in Fantasy Football leagues across the nation, the fantasy draft happens.  Leading up to the draft fantasy ‘coaches’ examine the various players and the roles those players have on that team, they examine the rookies and take into account the style of play the rookie is familiar with and decides whether or no he will fit in with his new professional team, they examine the returning and exiting players and how this will impact the play of a franchise player, and they hope dearly to find the one sleeper of the season who will dominate the field of play.

Yet, when compared with something of much importance, say education, parents spend little to no time getting information on the people who teach their sons and daughters.  Very few parents consider asking the teacher, “What is your teaching style?”, “Who were your professor, and how did they form your ability to educate?”, or “How does your education influence your philosophy on the student’s ability to learn?”  The only explanation I can muster for why this is is that parents assume too much about educators.   Parents assume that teachers, who might have 150+ students, can teacher accordingly to the learning style of their son or daughter.  Assuming such a thing is ludicrous because the teacher would have to adjust to 150+ different styles of learning.  The smarter route is for parents to help the student adjust to the teaching occurring in class as much as possible, as the student will have to do this on their own once they enter college.  Further more, every fantasy footballer know that the player who does not adjust to the coaching preference of the head coach is a football player who has little success on the team.

So what is a parent to do? 

First, spend more time on the essentials and less time on the unessential of life.  Consider, “How much TV did I watch today?” then compare it with how much you helped your child with his or her studies.  If there is a vast discrepancy between the two where TV watching far out weighs the amount your help your son or daughter with his or her studies, then there might be a problem. 

Second, inquire from the teacher as to their teaching style.  Does the teacher mostly lecture? Is the teacher more hands on experiential learner? 

Third, you are the parent, the keeper and primary educator of your child, limit your child’s distractions when they do study.  Listening to music, texting on cell phones (I’d recommend taking the cell phone away from the teen during study time), and surfing the Internet does not equate to effective study habits.  There is a reason that for many years the recommended environment for effective study is a quiet environment free of distractions, because it works. 

Fourth, stemming off the third point, monitor your child while he or she is studying.  A good place is the kitchen table or the dinning room table. 

Fifth, make your child show you their complete homework.  Few teachers never give homework.  Most teachers give homework every night.  Assume the latter.  If they tell you they finished it at school, have them show you it anyway.

Sixth, spend a little bit of the evening quizzing your child on the notes they are taking in class.

Seventh, Everyone wants their child making good grades, but not every child is an “A” student in every subject.  However, this does not mean you should lower your expectations.  The student might not see the need for math now, but they will realize the benefit of it later.

Eighth, realize that your child is your legacy. Your job is to get your child to the level of mature responsibility so that he or she can be a productive member of society.
Ninth, if your child says that the teacher is being mean.  You should read this as "the teacher is challenging me, and I don't like it." 
 In no way am I suggesting that people do away with sports or remove them from their life all together.  What I am asking is that the non-essentials of life be placed behind the priorities of life.  What it boils down to is that TV never brought us to the moon.  Baseball did not get us any closer to inventing the microprocessor.  Hockey did not lead the way to great new systems of thinking.  The first thing is to remember to keep the first things first.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The World's population can fit comfortably in Texas

As a whole (water included) Texas has a square footage of about 7,488, 166,118,400.

The current world population is in the neighborhood of 6.8 billion. (with an estimated groth of about 4 billion in the next 50 years)

Divide the current world population into the square footage of Texas results in each person of the world having over 1000 (1089 to be closer to exact) square feet to himself or herself.

Makes me wonder if over population is all it's cracked up to be.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Dilemma of a Catechist: If Football was Taught Like Theology

If Athletics were taught in the same manner as most of the Theological Sciences (on nearly all levels of education), there would be few, if any, professional athletes.

For instance, if we taught students how to play football like many catechists teach theology, like an academic discipline, the process might look like the following:
First, after signing up at a school to take classes on football related topics, the teacher would begin teaching the student about the history and origin of football. Eventually the teacher would give lessons on the rules of football and how the rules have changed through history. The teacher would show pictures of people playing football during the lectures. Key figures and moments in football history would be emphasized, which the student would have to know for the test. Later, each position would be studied and the student would have to know how to differentiate between a fullback, halfback, quarterback, tailback and such, and he would also have to know the strengths and weaknesses of those positions. Naturally, key figures would be mentioned for each position studids: Joe Montana, Bart Star, Mortan Anderson, Jerry Rice. In due time, perhaps nearing the ¾ mark of the academic year, the class would cover coaching and different philosophies of coaching: Vince Lombardi v. Lou Holtz, Joe Perterno v. Mike Ditka. Finally, with one week of class remaining, the teacher will give the lesson on “How to Become a Professional Athlete.”
After a year's worth of studying football, the teacher would then take the student to a football stadium on a field trip to see the athletic field and the equipment used to play the sport and maybe even meet a person who plays football, providing the student passed with sufficient scores on all examinations.
The point: most people who catechize students in the theological sciences teach only the academic side and only go to the practical side very rarely. Why? Because most theology teachers and catechists operate, though foolishly (myself included), under the assumption that the students have already been practicing and doing theology on a very basic level in the home while being led by their parents. Just like the high school coach who assumes that those kids trying out for the team have been taught the basics of the sport from someone (often the father); moreover, it is likely the case that the father taught his son to throw (or roll) a ball before the child could even walk.

But too many parents neglect their children's spiritual formation, even on the most basic level, for a number of reasons. One of those reasons being that parents don't know where to start. Here are two suggestions, teach your child the Our Father (the Lord's Prayer) and teach him or her to pray it with as much sincerity as can be mustered multiple times during the day. The second, read the bible to your kids (and when they get older have them read it to the family). A student having a basic knowledge of the major bible stories puts the student leaps and bound beyond other students in his or her theology and English classes.

Parents and catechists have asked me and wondered why the youth of today are not interested in the spiritual life. Perhaps the reason for disinterested youth is because the youth of today are being taught backwards. Students are entering into a conversation without having any knowledge of the language being spoken. If the catechist teaches the students the practical side of theology, and tries to fill in the gaps, then the academic portion is limited. If the catechist teaches the academic portion then the practical portion, which the students should already have, is limited.

This is the dilemma of the catechist.

Augustine on Facebook

I will be assiging to my students in the coming weeks a project on the Saints (not the NFL team).  One of the options is to make a fake facebook page on that saint in which you let others know about the Saint.  I try to show them a good example and a bad example.  Here is the good example.  I might touch this up a bit and print it in color.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Top 10 Buzz words for youth ministry

1. Awesome
2. Xbox
3. Amazing
4. Sooooooooooo (used as an intensifier often flowed by "awesome" or "amazing")
5. Think about it
6. Crazy (used as an intensifier often flowed by "awesome" or "amazing")
7. Struggles
8. Difficulties
9. Um (or ah)
10. Jesus is my friend

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Big Brother's Trash Police

Looks like Big Brother is arriving in Cleveland, Ohio in the form of RFID equipped recycling bins.  Failure to recycle on a regular basis will result in a $100 fine.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Young Jesus Chronicles

> Someone placed this cartoon in my inbox today. It is funny on a number of levels. Yet, it also misses the mark for some bible scholars as John is not one of the synoptic gospels.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Step Away from the Guitar and No One Gets Hurt

Mike from sent me a link to what he calls, "10 Unintentionally Hilarious Christian Music Video."  Let me, say if there is ever a case for Christianity being a parody of itself, this is it.

My 2 cents on a few of the videos:

"Dogs of Glory" is downright creepy, but to think that someone would find it necessary to paint their face like a dog so that they look  more like a chimaera and praise God by singing "Howl-le-lu-ya" is down right hilarious.  If you want to sleep tonight, just don't watch the video on mute nor in slow motion. 

"The Renewed Mind is the Key to the Christ in Me," complete with fancy footwork and a matching keyboard duo knows and "The Present" and "Truth," reminds me that 95% of Christian music is a decade or more behind the rest of the music industry in terms of style and sound.  Of course the redeeming factor of this video is watching the tall, mullet donning white guy break some nice dance moves that begin at 1:54.

"Jesus is my Friend" by Sonseed is both catchy and funny.  As much as this video and song gets made fun of, the skaish boogie/New wave sound was cutting edge at the time.  Just be sure not to listen too often or you'll find yourself singing "He is like a Mounty, He always gets his man."  The bad news:  according to the editorial review on Barns and Noble these guys are Catholic.

These video's remind me of the episode of Southpark where Cartman forms the Christian band "Faith + 1," in which he parodies the entire Christian music industry by taking popular songs and wherever it says "you" in the song Cartman replaces "you" with "Jesus".

*For those interested: Lord's name is taken if vain a few times*

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pope Benedict - "Ordain Women"

So says an add on 15 buses that will be driving around London for a month.  But all in all in good fairness what else can we tell Benedict to do which he has no authority to do.

Feel free to add your own absurdities in the annotation box.

H/T to the Curt Jester

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fake Virgins

This story over at the Washington Post sheds light on a recent phemomana happening in China.  Women are having surgeries to fool their soon to be husbands into thinking their soon to be wives are indeed virgin.

Favorite line from the article:
"Does she [the woman helping with the procedure] worry that she is helping young women begin their marriages with a lie?  'It's just a white lie,' Zhou said."
The foolish logic of this is that virginity is not exclusive to a piece of flesh; yet, this is the logical conclusion when the world stops realizing that sex has a metaphysical dimension associated with it.

I'd comment more on this, but haven't the time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Elevator Troubles

Oh this is too funny.  This is a good metaphor for a number of things in life.  

Monday, August 09, 2010

Monday's Music: 500 Miles

The musical styling of the Proclaimers to help you get the beginning of the work week off to a good start.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Is Marriage a Right?

The thing that interested me the most in recent Prop 8 appeal decision is that the Judge likened the Prop 8 law as being unconstitutional because it went against the Equal Protection clause in the 14th Amendment.  His decision on the matter, and his appeal to the 14th amanedment, relate homosexual marriage to other civil issues such as segregation, accesses to education, and denial of voting based on race or gender, as well as denying marriage based race.  Is it right to compare homosexual marriage to  Jim Crow laws?  It is not as if (un)married homosexuals were being forced to sit in the back of the bus.  It is not as if (un)married homosexuals were being denied an education.

In Loving v. Virginia (LvV), the court ruled that marriage cannot be denied to people based on race.  In some cases it would seem that the case has nothing to do with Prop 8, as homosexuality is not a race like African, Asian, White, or Hispanic.  However, it is important in the issues of rights.  The presiding Supreme Court Judge of LvV stated in his decision, "Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival."  Keeping in mind that with every right there is also a responsibility associated with the right, in this case in order for marriage to be a basic civil right it appears that it needs, in some way, to fundamentally aid in the continual existence and survival of not only the country but also the human species.

Understanding marriage as a right and it being fundamental to existence and survival of humanity, the question becomes, "If marriage looses the fundamental responsibilities that the supreme court gave it in Loving v. Virginia (prolonging existence and survival) through a willful denial due not to medical reason or health problems does marriage stop being a right?"

Gay Judge, Prop 8, and Conflict of Interest

It turns out that the Judge presiding over the Prop 8 ruling in California, you know the who guy just repealed the proposition in California which was voted into ruling by a majority is a homosexual himself.  This is clearly an obvious and blatant conflict of interest.  There was a big outcry of conflict of interest, though be it short, over the Louisiana Judge who struck down the oil drilling moratorium because he owned and sold energy stocks.  I wonder if we will be hearing anything about this on the national media?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oil Spill on the Michigan River

I guess this means the President is going to place a moratorium on inland drilling.

From the Article:
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency and a Canada-based energy company to step up efforts to contain an oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, after more than 840,000 gallons of oil leaked from a pipeline since Monday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Purity Isn't

My reaction to Alice von Hildebrand's essay in which she criticizes Christopher West's interpretation, enthusiasm, and crude language in his delivery of John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

From the Article:
As West’s Crash Courses on John Paul’s teaching grew in popularity, I found myself confronting friends and other college-aged Catholics about the views they developed either from reading West’s books, attending a West seminar, or listening to his long crash course tape series. Whether it involved the crass language they used in speaking about the sacred or pinning up signs in their dorm room which read “Sex is loved misspelled,” the number of people I discussed West’s teaching with was growing every year.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Save the Gulf Coast, Drink Beer!

S.O.S Bottle
The Abita Brewery, located about 60 miles North of New Orleans, came up with a great way to save the Gulf Coast  without having to trudge down to the coast and spend all day in the hot sun picking up tar balls.  Solution: drink beer.  Abita Brewery has just released a pilsner styled beer, which they named S.O.S (save our shore).  The message on the bottle reads: "This Abita brew is a message in a bottle.  A distress signal for the troubled waters of our Gulf Coast.  For every bottle sold Abita will donate 75 cents to the rescue and restoration of the environment, industry and individuals fighting to survive this disastrous oil spill."

The brewery describe the beer as following (also from the bottle): "This unfiltered Weizen Pils is made with Pilsner and Wheat malts.  It is hopped and dry hopped with Sterling and German Perle hops.  It has a brilliant gold color, a sweet malt flavor, and a pleasant bitterness and aroma."

I have not tried it, but plan on drinking it later today.

I hope they provide this as a refreshing beverage to the relief workers on the beaches.

FYI:  Abita Brewery brews one of my favorite beers, Turbodog.  You can usually find this out side of Louisiana in the warehouse style liquor stores.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

iPhone Wallpaper: Catholic Edition

I was trying to find a new lock screen wallpaper to use on my iphone.  Seeing that I could not find any that I like, one can take so many puppies, kitties and flowers, I decided to make my own.  I hope others benefits from it.  Feel free to use it and share it.  More might be coming in the future.  If the site won't let you just copy and save the image, email me and I will send it to you direct through the e-mail.

UPDATE: Added a few more wallpapers

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alice von Hildebrand takes on Christopher West in 36 Pages

In a CNA exclusive, Alice von Hildebrand takes on the Theology of the Body cheerleader Christopher West in a 36 page essay titled Dietrich von Hildebrand, Catholic Philosopher, and Christopher West, Modern Enthusiast:Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex.

From the Introduction
It is a joy to praise a great book or author; it is a grief and duty to criticize a bad one. But it is especially difficult to criticize someone who has many talents, whose work has positive sides, but which also suffers from certain faults, calling for correction. Such is the case with Christopher West, with his popular presentation of John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.”

As gifted as he is—and as much as I appreciate all the good he has done for the Church—West’s work continues to fall short in many respects. He has sometimes misunderstood the authentic Catholic tradition; overlooked or disregarded essential aspects of it; and promoted a new form of religious “enthusiasm” which can best be described as wayward. Monsignor Ronald Knox, who critiqued this attitude so well in his book Enthusiasm, was a prophet, recognizing such outbursts as recurring phenomena in the history of the Church, characteristic of easily misguided movements for which we should always be on the watch.

I am not a hugh Christopher West fan and from the early looks of it, I will likely be agreeing with von Hildebrand.

Pop Quiz: New Orleans Saint or Catholic Saint

Here for Quiz

It's not as easy as you think.

Hat Tip to the Ironic Catholic.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pray, Run, Eat: Running and the Spiritual Life

At some point in a runner's life, he or she is left describing a recent marathon, race, or other quick footed experience by the vague phrase "spiritual experience."  When others hear of a recent run being a "spiritual experience" the description of the run is often left at the unspecific descriptor and not questioned.  Understandably so, after all, how can a personal experience be denied?

Yet, when the runner says that his or her run was a spiritual experience, it assumes that he or she knows the difference between the physical and spiritual.  It assumes that he or she has experienced all aspect of the physical world and is now able to label an experience as spiritual because the runner knows it is not a physical experience.  It assumes that the runner is able to differentiate and not confuse the endorphin educed runner's high for the spiritual experience.  But what is really happening?

With numerous runners having spiritual experiences, one would suppose there to be a church of runners.  Yet, I have seen few Yogis running marathons.  I've not seen one bishop or noticeable cleric nor preachers or caliefs.  Though, I have see rabbits running marathons, sprinting mustarded up hot dogs in 10ks, and once I was passed by a running port-a-potty in a half marathon clocking a 7 minuete mile.  From my own observations, it would seem that running lends it self more to costumes than clerics, more to gadgetry's gizmos than simplicity, and more to sweat than spirituality.

Though, no matter, what objections are thrown at the runner, runners continue to describe running as a spiritual experience.  To search a more ancient mind, St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, tells his readers to "run the good race."  In St. Paul's letter to the Hebrews he says "let us run with endurance the race has set before us." Arguably a great runner if he ever was a runner, St. Paul connects running to the spiritual life.  A connection is made, but St. Paul is silent on where running and spirituality meet.

So, the real question is, "Where do running and the spiritual life meet"?  Can one really encounter angels in anaerobic activity or find saints in sprints?

As a runner and theology teacher, I think I can help bridge the gap, as I know a thing about running and many things about theology.

Ontology is the philosophical branch that studies existence and being.  It is a key component of any spirituality as it points the spiritual seeker in a direction.  For instance, a Christian's being is bound up in love and being God's adopted children.  Therefore, The Christian is to live a live of love in which one depends on God like a child depends on his or her parents.  A christian might simply state that as one lives according to God's Will is to become.  Amby Burfooot, author of 'The Runner's guide to the means of life' takes a similar approach when he says that "as we run we become."

Burfoot, connects being to the running experience. At the heart of running lay this one principle of being and becoming.  Though silent on what the runner becomes, Burfoot sees running as a vehicle to that ontological discovery of being.  Moreover, Burfoot does not make the mistake of echoing past philosophers in suggesting that to run is to be.  For if one were to ever stop running, they would also stop being.  Instead, Burfoot sees running as a means to an end.  As it is in running that being is found for the runner.

The goal for the Christian is to be perfect as God is perfect in Heaven.  No easy task.  The goal of the Buddhist is to obtain Nirvana.  The goal of the Muslim is to conquer the unrest in the soul and obtain peace and justice in the world.  These goals can only be obtained through much pushing of oneself.

Nobody knows what they cannot due until they try.  One aspect of racing happens before the race.  It's goal is in perfecting the person who is running.  The outcome of all the mileage logged is to become a more perfect runner.  A runner can be content with doing a 10 minute mile, but a runner cannot become a more perfect runner without first pushing himself or herself.  After all, you never know how far and fast you can run till you try.  Chances are you can go faster and farther than imagined if only you unleash yourself.

There is an old bumper sticker that reads something to the effect, "As long as there are tests in school there will be prayer in schools."  Likewise, as long as there are marathons and foot races, there will be prayer at races.  There comes a point in every marathon when a person hits the proverbial wall, where every step feels as if you're dragging your kids on each foot kicking and screaming, and no matter how many times you listen to "Eye of the Tiger" or how many energy gels quaffed, moving forward feels like an impossible task.  In the heat of the moment a whispered and gasped prayer of sincerity escapes the runner's lips, "God help me."  Perhaps the runner barters with God, "If you let me finish God I'll go to church on Sundays." Though I don't recommend this kind of spiritual economy as the problem comes when God actually answers your prayers.  Are you really ready to commit to your end of the deal?  However, it is only in prayer that the runner perseveres and breaks through the wall to finish the race.

The spiritually minded know that prayer is not about asking God for the best new pair of running shoes and praying for your sick Aunt, though you can certainly pray for those things.  A key component in prayer is breaking down walls so that you can finish your own race.  Taking St. Paul's analogy from first Corinthians the race is the life we live and those who finish the race are those who make it to paradise with God. As St. Paul reminds his reader, it is not in vain that the Christian runs it is not for the sake of the race that a person runs.  It is to finish the race that the spiritually minded run.  Fast or slow, the finish line is the goal.  As the Nike poster used to say, as well as the lesson from the tortoise and hare story, "The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running. "

Why don't some people make it to heaven?  Again, using St. Paul's analogy, they quit the race and therefore they ever finish.  They are defeated by their own spiritual wall, and thereby spend the rest of eternity watching others enjoy the cold orange slices, ice cold beer, delicious post-run delights, and leg massages.

The British writer, G.K. Chesterton once said, "You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion."  Rightly so, growing a beard, and making it a good stylish beard, takes discipline and patience.  In the realm of religion and spirituality, the concept and practice of discipline and training is known as askesis.  

In the history of religions, there has not be found a religion that did not practice some form of askesis.  The most noticeable of ascetical practices universally held in the religious sphere reside in the practice of daily prayer, dietary regulations, and physical discipline.  Such practices were undertook so as to teach the body to listen to the soul and to teach the soul not to listen to the body and in doing so the ascetical practicioner gains more freedom in the world by limiting the pleasures in which they partake.

Askesis is nothing new in running.  Athletes have made firm use of ascetical practices for millennium who make firm use of the mind over matter principle in many aspects.  To train the body to arise at 4:30 A.M. takes certain will power over the body which screams "30 more minutes."  To squeeze out two more tempo runs when the body is aching for air.  To run 10 miles when your legs say, "only two today." To fall on one's knees and do one more Our Father when the knees ache in distaste requires physical discipline, as well as mental discipline to realize that the pain is only strength's first fruit.

Every runner, at least, every serious runner, is by nature a firm practicioner of dietary asceticism.  Knowing when to eat proteins over carbohydrates and vice versa.  Knowing when it is ok to indulge in chocolate birthday cake.  Knowing whether grilling or pan frying is the healthier choice.  Granola for breakfast or yogurt and oatmeal?

Askesis is needed in running so the runner will have greater freedom in the race.  The most disciplined runners are often the best runners, and therefore know how hard they can push their bodies and when they need to let a person pass and whether or not it is time to break rhythm and challenge the first runner.  In other words, the ascetical runner is not a slave to the race but it's master.

Friendships formed around spiritual matters are often the strongest of friendships.  As it allows two people to join together in an attempt to overcome what can seem like an impossible task.  Prayer might be an individual action, it is never done alone.

On the race course, some of the strongest friendships are formed in the most difficult of runs as participants engage in a common seemingly impossible task.  In which, each runner provides encouragement to the other.  Training can be done solo, but racing is never an event done alone.  Due to the nature of a race being a communal event, it is impossible for racers and runners not to brought together in a bonding moment of extreme exhaustion.  

In short, is running a spiritual experience?  Certainly, one can have a spiritual experience while running or on the run, but every experience had while running is not necessarily a spiritual experience.  What is certain, is that there is much overlap in living a spiritual life with living the life of a runner: being, prayer, perfection, discipline, community.

So get off your duff and start running and start praying.

Image from Here 
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