My Top 10 favorite albums of all time
in no particular order
808 State - Ex:El
L.F.O. - Frequencies
Pet Shop Boys - Actually
Clan Of Xymox - Medusa
Future Sound Of London - Lifeforms
Bjork - Post
Everything But The Girl - Temperamental
Severed Heads - Come Visit The Big Bigot
Jazzanova - In Between **
Yellow Magic Orchestra - Solid State Survivor
** most recent addition to the list ...
Later I will make a post listing some albums that do not make this list but that need to be mentioned for the significant influence they had on my songwriting.
[NOTE: It needs to be known that these posts are short starters for longer overviews that I eventually intend to complete in a more thorough manner. There are few actual references to information (ie lengthy scripture quotations etc) because my time to blog is limited. Anyway, I have decided to be more candid with these and clean them up when I organize them in the future. The initial goal is just to get down the basic story.]
Shortly before and just after my wife and I were married the topic of birth control came up regularly. We had decided prior to marriage to use the pill just like all of our friends and relatives. The wedding day and the honeymoon came and went. We were together. Life was beautiful. Despite those facts, my wife was extremely depressed. This was a shock to both of us because we had just been through the most beautiful wedding that God could have blessed a couple with and the start of our marriage was wonderful. Once again, we were together. Life was beautiful. Why the sorrow?
Shortly afterwards my wife noticed that the times in her when she was depressed and significant hormone changes tended to coincide. This caused her to suspect the birth control pill of affecting her in a negative way. Prior to our wedding my wife received an unsolicited email from a friend with several bits of information about known side effects of the pill. We had neglected to read the email thoroughly when we received it but these recent developments begged us to pull it up and really delve into what the email contained. What it claimed left us horrified. The email noted that side effects of the pill included depression, stroke and even in rare cases death. Not only that, the email alluded to the fact that it was an abortaficient, which meant that it would expel an egg AFTER fertilization. My wife and I are staunchly against abortion and we firmly believe that life begins at conception so the idea that we could be terminating a pregnancy after conception weighed very heavily on us. During the time following the reception of that email my wife and I looked into the matter further. We specifically looked into what doctors had to say and what various Christian leaders had to say about the use of the pill and other birth control methods. In our reading, we happened upon a stunning fact. Prior to 1930 EVERY Protestant denomination was unified in teaching with the Catholic Church that contraception in any form was immoral. It was the Lambeth Conference in 1930 that was the first declaration by a major Protestant denomination (Anglican) to allow for the use of contraceptives and then only in difficult circumstances. The questions raised by this were obvious: Why did the whole of Protestantism modify their teaching on this matter and even more curiously, why DIDN'T the Catholic Church modify its teaching on the matter? These side questions distracted us from a settling answer on the matter of other birth control. We had to press on.
We decided to consult other friends to ask how they arrived at their conclusions. The more that I asked the question the more I realized that it just wasn’t asked any more. When presented with the information we had found some even responded, "God is bigger than the pill. If He wants to bless you with a child then He will” and the issue was promptly dropped. We found this to be akin to testing God. Why would this be any different than expecting God to stop us from stealing chocolate from the candy store by performing some extraordinary miracle? Why were we trusting God to undo our decision to not have children? That rationale simply did not sit well with us. Some concluded that it is wrong to bring many children into the world if you cannot provide a prosperous life for them and that any method was just as good as the other. To me this was motivated by material wealth and implied that those who cannot afford to exist shouldn’t. This also didn’t sit well with us because scripture stated in Psalm 127 that children are a blessing from God. Still, the avoidance of the issue was what stood out. Thinking back, without the depression that came about in the life of my wife I am not sure we ever would have asked any questions about birth control itself. I firmly believe that it is by the grace of God that this issue was raised in our lives.
Meanwhile my wife and I struggled with birth control questions for a brief period before finally determining that NFP was a good method if properly utilized. It must be noted that during this time our thought process had not come in line with what the Church teaches about NFP. We were purposefully avoiding pregnancy by using NFP. We had not entirely embraced the idea of openness to life and we had not discerned the difference between NFP and other forms of contraception. The difference is quite clear. On one hand we have the conscious decision to have sex given available information and on the other we have the deliberate interruption of fertility during sex. My favorite response about this not so subtle difference from a rather brash apologist I read online was “What? You don’t know the difference between having sex and not having sex?” Still, within 5 months of our marriage, my wife was pregnant with our first child.
Our future research on this matter will lead us closer to the teaching of the Church, not because we sought what the Church had to say about it but because we became increasingly aware of good reasons not to practice birth control. A prime example is my own existence. I am the fifth of six children. If my parents had chosen to stop at two or three like the majority of couples today, I would not exist. I have five siblings and at current count they have fourteen children. The legacy my parents will leave is impressive indeed and each and every life that resulted during the course of their adherence to Church teaching is a blessing in my life and for certain the lives of others.
Even though we had come to a better conclusion than the pill on the matter, the questions about our decision lingered … especially the troubling ones that raised real issues about teaching authority in the church we were attending.
[in final affirmations add story about contraception coming up before V2, being tabled til theologians could recommend FOR its use and Humane Vitae coming out opposed to it anyway]
To learn more about the next step in my conversion you have to know a little bit more about me. I come from a background of musicians. My mother taught piano. Also, my brother is a professional bass player for a fairly well known blues band. Finally, I spent a significant amount of my summers writing songs despite my thorough lack of training. For my mother and brother it was a vocation. For me, it was the sheer beauty of it that uplifted me. My own songwriting experience allowed me to experience musicianship and thus music at a level that is a little beyond that of your average pop music fan. My taste in music at one time was an obsession. I had found a small niche of music, or genre rather, that spoke to the depths of my person at the age of 14. You couldn't hear much of it on the radio so I began to seek friendships with those that had similar tastes. I met a couple of friends in school, one with some musical training and one with just good taste in music. Our friendship developed into a band, which for me was a hobby and to this day represents some of the fondest memories that I have as a youth. The love I have for music remains to this day. As my tastes matured I longed for something deeper. That something I found in classical music and jazz so both are very much a part of my music collection and a significant amount of time late in college was spent listening to everything I could get my hands on. To me, experiencing music was the way I got to know God before I had the foggiest idea what His place in my life was. I was wandering in wonder. That was my knowledge of God.
Upon my zealous reversion back to Christianity my attendance at non-denominational Protestant services exposed me very much to contemporary Christian music, which I fought very much against despite the will of my friends to convince me that the message was what was important. Over my years as a Protestant I slowly was able to sing along and find a value in the words themselves, but the music left me wanting for something that I got in secular music and most prominently in classical music. The choir in Neptune of Holsts' The Planets never failed to give me chills. It always touched me in a very deep way and that was something that I could not get from the praise music I was singing, no matter the venue. Where was the awe that I was brought to when I was listening to the finest musical talent in the world? Where was the mystery? Where was the sacred? I must stop for a moment to highlight a lesson that I took from this that I wish many folks in Catholic churches would learn. There is spiritual value in singing along in church. The actual participation in every aspect of the mass brings you to a deeper realization of what is going on. It is an opportunity to praise God and in the mass is far deeper than that. You can participate in ways that Protestants cannot. Much of Protestant worship is very much geared towards praise. Catholic worship is geared towards the Most Blessed Sacrament. In it we touch God in a very real way. We join our sufferings with His and He gives us Himself fully in the Eucharist. The music should be beyond that of pop songs that happen to mention scripture, or God or something Jesus did. The music should be the best mankind has to offer; that which is created by the greatest gifts He gave to man. It is what we should expect, but we should also do what we can to participate ourselves. Every action we make towards Him is a good one and singing is such an easy way to do something simple that grows like an oak tree from the smallest seed.
My thoughts on music further extended into art and architecture but at a later date. My first flirtation with that was when I became engaged to my wife. We started attending a local Episcopal church downtown known for its beauty and architecture. I have no qualms admitting that reason. We were tired of going to church in warehouses. We only attended the church downtown for a few weeks before we started attending the church of her youth, which was also a beautiful little chapel on the campus of a local high school. What was common with both was the artistry. The colorful stained glass windows and adornments were a constant reminder of the greatness of God. The detail given to the flowers on a weekly basis were a reminder to life and the regular renewal of that life. All in all things were simply beautiful and it enhanced my ability to focus on worship. After months of attending church in both places I realized something was happening to me. I was beginning to enjoy art. I was beginning the journey I had in my youth with art, and more importantly with God. Beauty drew me in and it enhanced my relationship with Him far beyond that which I could have ever achieved on my own or by only reading or singing praises.
Man is created in the image of God, and we are endowed with attributes that are similar to certain awe-inspiring aspects of God. He is the Creator. All He creates is good. Man is creative. We do not create in the sense God does because we are incapable of creating something from nothing. We can however take what is created and craft it into a work of art, or a piece of music or poetry. It is in this sense that we have a similarity which in itself inspires us to contemplation of the great He who Is. In every imperfect painting of a waterfall that we create, we can further strive to realize the perfection of God's creation in the flowing thunder of Niagara Falls. Art itself is a catalyst that assists our getting closer to God by understanding the attributes that we are endowed with that are mere types of what He actually is capable of. Our imperfect understanding of the mystery that is the chasm we cannot bridge keeps the well of desire in our hearts for Him overflowing. The beauty we see is a grace that keeps us coming back.
These aspects are not limited to just art and music but also flow into the liturgy itself. The first time I attended an Episcopal church I thought to myself that I was getting back to something that was more real. I was getting back to something that was beautiful and that was ordered towards thinking about God at a very high level. That is where I wanted to be. God wooed me towards Him with beauty. After all, it only makes sense. He is the one who invented the passion for it.
"Art is beauty made a sacrament" - V. McNabb: Thoughts Twice-dyed.
I was not convinced that this was the end of the road but I had quickly come to the conclusion that the Episcopal Church was really no different than the Catholic Church. The only difference was that folks wouldn't get on my case about it. And they didn't ...
I noticed a few changes Saturday morning making this day the best yet on LAUNCHCast. They added a bunch of new music. For the first time I heard on LAUNCH ...
"Hello Cleveland" by Mono (superb song ... one of my favorite of all time by any band)
"Port Rhombus" by Squarepusher (WOO HOO!!!! We have Squarepusher and one of my faves of his for the first one)
"Change" by Tears for Fears (Finally some classic Tears for Fears)
I notice that it is also playing more by The Police. You just cannot go wrong there. Current:
"Os Iusti Gradual (Modo I)" by The Benedictine Monks Of Santo Domingo De Silos Oldie but goodie:
"Stars in My Pocket" by Opus IIIBest this session:
"Flite" by The Cinematic Orchestra
"Stars in My Pocket" is another one of those ones that reminds me of 6am in front of the board at KLPI. Opus III is presumably named after a Moog synthesizer. This moment in the middle of the night made special by my 4 month old daughter who is once again asleep in my lap.
My wife and I had a great discussion tonight about creativity and our relationships with God. Soon I will let you all in on the big secret. Loving what you do, creatively, is important. I know not rocket science to most of you ...
A Moog Opus 3
Study on Southern Catholics .... Interesting
Study is here
Kudos to Southern Appeal
for the link
I will try to comment on this later ... being a Southern Catholic myself.
NCAA Division I-A playoffs
OK, the BCS is bunk ... Most would agree with that so I am going to dish out my personal desire when it comes to an Division 1-A NCAA playoff. This is from the perspective of a fan of a non-BCS school but I try to keep in perspective the desires of the big boys, the current bowls and the money players involved.
1. Mandate a 10 game schedule. 8 conference and 2 to play with. One 1-AA game a year can be scheduled ... rather SHOULD be scheduled. Required 4 home games. I would prefer a fixed 5 home and 5 away with requirements that each conference have to visit every other conference on the road at least once every 3 years.
2. NO CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES. Each conference should determine for itself a set of tie breaker rules to determine a champion in order that a designated playoff champion is crowned.
3. There will be a 32 team playoff consisting of 31 games.
4. The playoff will consist of "4 regions" NE, SE, NW, SW. Placements will be done similar to basketball. The winners in NE, SE play for the right to the NC game and the winners of the NW, SW play for the right to the NC game.
5. Prior to playoff selection (preferably before the season to facilitate planning) the CURRENT bowl committees will PURCHASE the slots they want. For example, X bowl buys SE, 1st round 4-5 game. That committee handles advertising and gets appropriate gate, cuts and whatnot. Naturally the higher up the ladder, the more the game will go for.
6. For the first 3 rounds, the higher seeds host.
7. The Final Four is played at host sites selected by the committees that win bidding for those games.
8. ALL ELEVEN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS GET A BID regardless of their record.
9. At large bids are done by a selection committee similar to that of basketball.
-Big boys lose those 6th and 7th home games.
+not if they finish in the Top 16 nationally, which many, if not most, would on a regular basis. Besides, scheduling a 6th home game in not out of the question in the in-season rules.
You would have to earn those games. Seems fair .... right?
- We would lose the bowl tradition and fewer teams would make the postseason and get bowl payouts. Your plan hurts the little guy.
+ There is nothing in my plan that prevents a small collection of post season bowls or even something like a 16 team NIT-like tournament for teams that ended up just outside the 32 team cut. The playoff games can maintain SOME of the bowl tradition ... The 1-8 SE region Gator Bowl in Orlando Flordia featuring Central Florida vs Auburn.
- This is taxing on the student athletes because they have to play too many games
+ Myth. The two teams playing in the national championship game would play 15 games each. MOST teams would play 10-11 games. Why folks don't have a problem with 1-AA teams doing this but for some reason DO with 1-A teams is beyond me.
MY THOUGHTS: First off ALL Division 1-A teams now theoretically have access to the National Championship even in for all practical purposes they do not.
Second ... Can you imagine the kind of money the bidding process would bring in and better yet the ticket prices, corporate sponsorships and whatnot for playoff games at the home sites? This would benefit the program that is working hard to make it to elite status the most. The system very much benefits the Fresno States, Utahs, Boise States and good mid-majors that do not have the benefit of BCS money and TV time currently. ALL games would be sold out, without a question.
Third, could you imagine the corporate sporsorship money at the Final Four level. This would be March Madness on steroids.
Finally, we would have a REAL national champion.
Isn't it worth giving up a few home games for something that will benefit everyone?
Young and Catholic
Like everyone else who has a Catholic blog these days I had to get one in for this new blog. I ordered the book today and based on the reviews I expect it to be fantastic.
Nothing like hope for the future and I think these stories are the earliest springtime buds of the future of the New Evangelization. Add this to the continued increase in conversions from zealous dedicated Protestants to His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and we have a leak turning into a real plumbing problem for Satan.
OK I have a mood that I have setup that I thought my wife would like. I think it is the best mood I have by far. It plays a lot of pop, Christian music, classical, jazz etc. It just spits out good song after good song.
I have always said that my wife makes me better ... that includes my LAUNCHCast station.
Way to go sweetie ....
Current band of choice: Talk Talk
Current song as of posting: "VI. Uranus, The Magician" (Royal Philharmonic) Holst: The Planets
Oldie but goodie: "Trouble Me" by 10,000 Maniacs
Huh? song of the day: Don't Stop Believin' by Journey (don't laugh, I like it but not exactly my usual fare)
Note sometimes my reasons for liking songs is purely superficial so I FREQUENTLY overlook lyrics for catchy riffs ... DO NOT consider songs I like an endorsement of what they stand for.
Seeds of virulent anti-Catholicism
The first real indications that the Catholic Church was who they say they were occurred to me when I was attending a non-denominational church just out of college. At the time I was travelling out of town 5 days a week. My life consisted of travelling, sleeping and going to this church on Sunday. I had recently gotten involved in their Ministry 101 course which was geared towards getting you active in a particular ministry in their church. During that time the church, which had been around for 25 years, had gone through a great deal of growing pains about "doctrine". Nobody could seem to agree on what the church stood for as far as core doctrine went and a movement had come about to at least specify a small statement of what was considered required beliefs by the members of the church. The reason for this is because some dissent was arising amongst the members of the church. Some of the elders wanted to clarify which particular beliefs were in line with what the church was teaching and what beliefs were not. Now this is what Catholics, Orthodox and mainline Protestants call a creed. Creeds are very tradition based and many, particularly in the Evangelical movement of Protestantism are so opposed to tradition that the idea of a creed is itself creepy and "unbiblical". Still this church discovered from its own growth that it was necessary to minimze dissent and to foster unity within the church. The Apostles creed has verbage that can be traced back to at least Tertullian in the early 3rd century with some evidence to support the idea that the creed traces back to the 12 apostles themselves. This seed would uproot my holding of the doctrine of sola scriptura and it was planted here. While it was a slight doubt at this point, it would eventually grow into the single issue that caused me most to question Protestantism.
But this is just the beginning of my journey. The issue that really set me off on the path towards Rome was different but it came up right around the same time period. Usually at this church, every so often, a missionary would come in and give a talk about their ministry and then an offering would be taken up for them. One week an offering was being taken up for a new ministry that the church was going to fund. This ministry was going to send people to Rome in order to convert Catholics at the Millenium Jubilee who were going to walk through a gate "to have their sins forgiven" through an indulgence. Naturally, it was apparently well known at this church that Catholics do not hold to the true biblical doctrine of the blood of Christ being the sole source of redemption of sins. Catholics had ways to buy and earn redemption through works and indulgences. The problem I had with this was two-fold. 1) I knew through discussions with my parents that the doctrine of salvation by works alone (Pelagianism) was a historical heresy in the Church. 2) I knew that Catholics did not believe that sins could be forgiven by some approved actions other than our repentance, confession and penance. To me the problem here was clearly one of misinformation. All throughout the presentation there was an underlying air of hatred for this unbiblical Church that has misled many and something needed to be done about it. Countless many had been rescued from Catholicism and this was their way of advancing the cause. The problem is, as was clear to me early in my conversion process, was that they were attacking a Church that did not exist. As Bishop Fulton Sheen once said:
There are not 100 people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are however, millions who hate what they think is the Catholic Church.
I was foruntate in my conversion process that I did not have to get over bias founded on thick layers of lies about what Catholicism actually is. I could see clearly that lies were being propogated as truth by good, honest and sincere people. If lies about the Catholic Church could inflitrate the church I was CHOOSING to attend, how bad could it be elsewhere where virulent Catholic hatred had been apparent from my youth?
I cannot finish this story without pointing out something very valuable that I took from this time in my life. The zeal for the scriptures that I saw in this church allowed me to develop a deep desire to want Christ and to seek him fervently within the scriptures. The doctrine of sola scriptura had been mentioned to me by my brother and my parents (each with opposing viewpoints) and it seemed logical on the surface and it was all I had to go with. Grace got me closer through another wonderous avenue in my life but clearly the problems I was seeing with this church were readily apparent and I had to leave.
Welcome to the Louisiana Traffic, Weather, and Ski Center
As one who has spent the entire 31+ years of my life in Louisiana I must ask where these secret ski destinations in Louisiana are ... Get your Louisiana ski lift tickets here
That is unless you are talking water skiing ... check this out
where Louisiana has a long history of excellence in performace.
This also brings up another beef that I have. Why on earth are skiing and hockey considered NCAA sports when it is clear that they AT BEST enjoy only regional support. Now, considering that, for example, 16 team sports are necessary for 1-A football teams to maintain their status, a team in the mountains has an unfair advantage because they can add a ski team. Shouldn't those of us in the south be able to add a water-skiing team?
Lets be fair folks ... if you are going to have mountain specific sports in the NCAA, lets add some warm climate sports for the teams in the south.
There is such a thing as "annual stone throwing festival"
You figure the injuries would prevent repeat visitors. Picked this up off a forum I visit ...http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_11 ... s.quirkies
Hundreds of people have been injured in an annual stone throwing festival at a remote mountain village in northern India
The best responses were:
R1: So, who threw the first stone
R2: The one without sin of course
My lifelong affirmation of the Real Presence
Since I was a young child preparing for my first communion, I knew there was something special about the Eucharist. In my many years away from the Church, this is the one Catholic doctrine that I carried with me that I had absolutely no doubt about. I BELIEVE that Christ is substantially present in the Eucharist. The amazing thing that I found was the number of Protestants who also hold this belief, especially high-Anglicans. I assumed this was a belief that was accepted across the deonominational divide. That is, until I started service as a lay Eucharistic minister in the Episcopal church. What I saw was a distinct contrast to what I saw when I was a child. I expected deep reverence for the sacred Body and Blood. What I saw was treatment more on the level of it being mere bread and wine. This caused me to look into what the Espicopal church taught about the Eucharist. I came to find out that the range of beliefs went from a mere memorial supper to it being completely the Body and Blood of Our Lord.
I was amazed at the range of beliefs on the matter. Shocked even. To me, the accounts of the Last Supper seemed as clear as a bell. "This IS my body." From a biblical perspective John 6 is really the focal point of contention about the Eucharist. The language is quite graphic and shocking to those present. This would certainly be the case if Christ did mean as Catholics say He did. People left. Christ had a moral responsiblity to clear the matter up and HE DID NOT. I find it difficult to conclude anything other than He meant real flesh. The primary rebuttal of this by non-believers in the Real Presence is John 6:63 which says "the flesh has nothing to offer". To me this fails to deliver the desired blow to the doctrine because even if it was referring to the same flesh of Christ that was mentioned in the previous several verses it never DENIES that it IS His flesh. It just says that it profits nothing. It would still BE flesh. Beyond that bickering tended to focus on the further clarification of Real Presence to specifically mean transubstantiation.
To me, the dividing line between what was correct and what was not correct had to do with the level with which I felt God was capable of bestowing the gift of His Body and Blood to us. The question simply became: Is God capable of doing it as Catholics say that it is done and if so would He give us any less than Himself totally? Transubstantiation defines the Eucharist as being substantially the "Body, Blood, Soul and Divnity" of our Lord. Somehow, someway what we receive that appears to us as bread and wine IS Christ and it certainly is an act of faith to accept that.
This doctrine was a primary point of contention between where I was and where He wanted me to be. Before that though, there were a great many other hints that led me to at least give the Catholic Church a fair shake. The remainder of these posts will be my story, somewhat sequentially, as to how, by Gods grace, He led me back into His Holy Catholic Church.
Resolve to blog more regularly ... and My Conversion
OK, starting today I resolve to try and blog a little more frequently. I have decided that I am going to document my conversion. After all, everyone seems to have a conversion story these days. Mine is more a series of events and the rest is pretty dry debate reading. The outline of my conversion story would go something like this:
My lifelong affirmation of the Real Presence
--Ignorance about Catholic teachings
-- --particularly indulgences
When family members convert
Sacraments, particularly marriage
Sola Scriptura doesn't make sense
The infant baptism discussion
-- Luthers defense of infant baptism.
-- -- Introduction to Thomas Aquinas.
Household of Fiath
Karl Keating's Fundamentalism vs. Catholicism
Dave Armstrong's web site
My own struggles with indulgences and understanding all of that messy terminology about salvation - Jimmy Akin's Salvation Controversy
The Journey Home
My own struggles with the people in the pew next to me.
-- The Coming Home Network
My struggles with incorrupt saints and relics
Leaving my church
The biblical case seems plausible
The historical case and documenting the Early Church Fathers
Newmans conclusion is a correct one
My profound respect for those who were and are concerned about my conversion
My disappointment at those who didn't care
Why beauty is a perfectly valid reason to return to Rome
Or why this
... should inspire us and not repulse us.
Several events in my spiritual journey provided hints that eventually there would be a severe adjustment in course that would point me directly towards Rome. I was raised Catholic. We irregularly attended mass in a modern but not heinously unattractive church. It was a far cry from the cathedrals of Europe though. My upbringing saw a Catholicism somewhat divided from but not completely devoid of the beautiful. I want to touch on four seemingly minor events in my journey away from the faith and back towards it where beauty was a key factor in unlocking the truth and desire to know more about Him and that eventually led me back to His Church.
Throughout college and immediately following my college years I spent time in numerous Baptist, charismatic and non-denominational churches. In most cases the churches I was attending were stark and beauty was either absent altogether or nominally present. The focus was scripture study, prayer and fellowship (All good things mind you) ...
The first "beauty event" that hinted that my walk would head back home to Rome was when I started attending church with the woman that would become my wife. She had been attending a small charismatic Episcopal church. Upon going to church with her two things hit me. The church was pretty and the liturgy was a careful romance crafted about the story of the Passion of our Lord. It invoked a swell of memories from my youth about the choir, stained glass, the pipe organ and the reverence of the mass. It was something I hadn't seen in my years as a Protestant and I missed that most intensely beautiful aspect of worship. There was something to this liturgy thing and I couldn't quite put a finger on it.
My second hint was at our wedding. My wife and I both received a special gift from God on that day and it wasn't just the sacrament of marriage. Both of us can recall in stunning detail specific aspects about the golden glow that occupied the church that morning. I can still see the gleam off her eyes. I can feel the warmth of the morning sun. All of it was heightened by music and a fervent call to worship. The environment around us elevated our wedding and I will never forget how beautiful it was ... The aspects of beauty present in our wedding highlighted the reality that is the sacrament of marriage. God touched us on that day in a very special way and He still does to this day through our marriage ... (the real journey began in the months following our marriage)
The third hint came after my wife and I had come to the conclusion that we needed to consider the claims of the Catholic Church. One morning I decided to take a detour on the way to the church we had been attending and ended up at a local Catholic church in an older part of town. We arrived just as mass was beginning and we were ushered up to the front row with our 18 month old son. The music was gorgeous and the church had all of those "things" that I had been told were going to come between me and God. Stained glass. Statues. Candles. A Mary icon. None of them detracted from our ability to enjoy mass. In fact, they were very helpful.
Shortly afterwards we left our other church and started to pursue fully the call Christ had on us to return to His Church. The final aspect of the beautiful that touched me on my way back to Rome was the Easter Vigil
that my wife and I were received into the Church.
Since our conversion, I have read snippets from some who want to dismiss all converts to Rome as if their decision pivoted entirely on the experiential aspect of beauty itself. The smells and bells are not what bring people home. It is the reality of the Incarnation, the mystery that is hinted at every time someone crafts a beautiful work of art to and for the glory of Christ Himself that brings us home. The awe-inspiring works of art within the halls of the great cathedrals inspire and the remind us that there is something greater than us. Pope John Paul II in his Letter to Artists
mentions that some of the earliest forms of art were depictions of passages from Sacred Scripture and that "The 'beautiful' was thus wedded to the 'true', so that through art too souls might be lifted up from the world of the senses to the eternal."
Beauty is a perfectly valid reason because it is certainly not the only reason I returned to Rome. It offered mere hints that were later confirmed by strong stances in the area of morality and by strong scriptural and historical evidence in support of Catholicism that led me home. My joyous return to Rome was a process that took about 4 years. Beauty was the nudge. Truth was the reason.
Some other gems from Pope John Paul II's Letter to Artists
This prime epiphany of “God who is Mystery” is both an encouragement and a challenge to Christians, also at the level of artistic creativity. From it has come a flowering of beauty which has drawn its sap precisely from the mystery of the Incarnation. In becoming man, the Son of God has introduced into human history all the evangelical wealth of the true and the good, and with this he has also unveiled a new dimension of beauty, of which the Gospel message is filled to the brim. Sacred Scripture has thus become a sort of “immense vocabulary” (Paul Claudel) and “iconographic atlas” (Marc Chagall), from which both Christian culture and art have drawn.
Saint Bonaventure comments: “In things of beauty, he contemplated the One who is supremely beautiful, and, led by the footprints he found in creatures, he followed the Beloved everywhere”
It remains true, however, that because of its central doctrine of the Incarnation of the Word of God, Christianity offers artists a horizon especially rich in inspiration. What an impoverishment it would be for art to abandon the inexhaustible mine of the Gospel!
Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: “Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!”.
Meaning of Man's Original Solitude (5)
You would think this wouldn't be necessary
DVD warns of surfing tsunamilink
The state Department of Defense's Civil Defense Division will distribute an 18-minute DVD explaining the dangers of trying to surf a tsunami.
Officials said yesterday that the DVD distribution to 100 surf shops statewide is part of Disaster Preparedness Month, which was designated by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. On Friday, the state will conduct a statewide tsunami exercise to test procedures that will be used in the event a tsunami, or seismically generated "tidal wave," hits an island.
State officials said it cost $13,000 in federal money to buy 15,000 copies of the DVD; more money will be used for distribution expenses.
The last time O'ahu was threatened with a tsunami was in October 1994, when state officials witnessed more than 400 surfers waiting for the wave in O'ahu waters. As it turned out that day, there were only small changes in water height in Hawai'i rather than any devastating waves slamming into Island shores.
I guess it hasn't dawned on some folks that there is only ONE known video of a tsunami for a reason (and it is from like the 1950's) ... If you are close enough to see one you won't live to tell about it.
Boundary Between Original Innocence and Redemption (4)
The Second Account of Creation: The Subjective Definition of Man (3)
Current band of choice: Nicola Conte
Song that prompted the band of choice selection: "Il Cerchio Rosso" by Nicola Conte (90)
Current song as of posting: "Polyesterday" by Gus Gus (90)
Huh? song of the day: "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Single Version)" by The Monkees
ABC and the division of sex from marriage
I am certainly not the first one to realize the possible link between the availability of artificial birth control and an increase in the divorce rate. In fact, it is mere speculation on my part BUT I do want you to consider one significant thing. In 1800, when a couple decided to engage in sexual relations a monumental decision had to be made. You had to ask yourself the question "Do I want to have children with this person?" That question alone offers even the one INTENDING to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage the strong incentive to reconsider and value the ideal of sexual relations ONLY within the proper context of marriage.
Now fast forward 200 years. That significant incentive has been removed and the net result is a disconnect between marriage and sex. Larger and larger percentages of people do not see a purpose for marriage because sex and procreation are far less a part of it than in past centuries. I recently read something about men and their ideas on marriage that sadly underscores my point here. Men are not getting married because women are living with them and sleeping with them. They are getting what they want without having to commit themselves to the long term welfare of their would be spouses. Men also consider exposure to possibly losing half of their life earnings by way of a future divorce a plausible risk ... Logic, for these men, dictates their reasoning behind why they do what they do. Casual sex in modern times is rampant, and certainly encouraged. Of course, it only makes sense ... right? Our modern marvels have given us the ability to engage in unhealthy spiritual union with another human being without all of the previous physical repercussions. STD's are reduced by judicious use of barrier methods. Children are avoided by these and a host of other artificial contraceptive methods. We have developed, very thoroughly, the idea that there is no real practical incentive to get married or even stay married.
The remaining incentives for marriage are mostly faith matters. Sure, studies have shown that children raised in traditional two parent homes are far more likely to grow up emotionally stable. That would be one solid incentive, but in a world where thinking about your next sexual encounter is so significant, the idea of children is far off in the minds of the average single person.
Quite simply, the real incentive is that marriage is Gods plan.
Technology provides us with novel ways to sin better but no matter how advanced we become, we cannot escape the fact that the revealed truth proclaimed by His Holy Catholic Church remains firm. I am not saying that we are any worse as a society today than 200 years ago. It is MUCH easier to fall for these lies now than then and I am sure if the technology had been available then, the problems associated with it would have also been present. There is a reason that the Didache some 1900 years ago rails against abortion ... We have been considering children an inconvenience for generations. "There is nothing new under the sun."
Biblical Account of Creation Analysed (2)
Community ... or lack thereof
My wife and I took a walk today with our three kids. We have been in our neighborhood for about three and a half years. We know a handful of our neighbors and none of them well enough to call close friends. I think there are several reasons for this but I want to highlight a couple of them ...
1) My wife is one of three known stay at home moms in the neighborhood. One leaves regularly. One speaks only Spanish and never leaves her home. In fact, stay-at-home moms are such a rare commodity in our town of several hundred thousand that even the largest moms group in the city boasts a mere 40 moms. My mother raised six kids at home and our house was like Main St. market after school. There were 40 moms within 40 homes of my house. You couldn't go to a single house in the neighborhood and get away with anything. The parents network had careful spies planted everywhere. We were well behaved because we knew eventually, our parents would find out. After all, despite differences, they all knew each other and lived as a COMMUNITY.
This started to change in our neighborhood in the late 80's. By that time it was becoming increasingly common for BOTH parents to be gone after school. Kids. Parents not home. A stash of porno at ONE kids house in the back of the neighborhood. Easy access to VCR and TV and ample knowledge of how much time they had before the parents were home ... Do the math.
All of this secrecy brings me to my second thought ...
2) What is up with all of the giant fences? When I was a kid we could see OVER the fences. We knew our neighbors simply because when we were in our back yards we could say "Hi" to each other. What we have now in our neighborhoods are carefully crafted boxes with the INTENT of keeping folks out of our lives. That fence says ... "Hey buddy.. back off and mind your own business" ... So we do. Then we spend hours complaining about how we do not know any of our neighbors. My wife and I sit outside for hours on end on our front porch. Time passes. The sun goes down and nary a single person exits their box even to take a peek at the sun.
To me, the fences are an outward sign of an inner reality ...
We are disconnected and we want to be. This aspect of disconnectedness has seeped into every aspect of life. People are so "in" their boxes that they make every effort to creep away as quickly as possible after mass. Our homes isolate us. Our automobiles isolate us. Our coldness to others isolates us ... We collectively choose to be isolated....
But should we?
We are not called to a solitary existence as Christians. We are called to holiness as a community. Somebody has to reach out the first hand and I think it needs to be me...
Of the Unity and Indissolubility of Marriage (1)
Of the Unity and Indissolubility of Marriage
Starting with this post I intend to delve into John Paul II's Theology of the Body.
(more to come later)
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
The unity and indissolubility of marriage
1644 The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: "so they are no longer two, but one flesh." They "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving." This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.
1645 "The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection." Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive.
The fidelity of conjugal love
1646 By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement "until further notice." The "intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them."
1647 The deepest reason is found in the fidelity of God to his covenant, in that of Christ to his Church. Through the sacrament of Matrimony the spouses are enabled to represent this fidelity and witness to it. Through the sacrament, the indissolubility of marriage receives a new and deeper meaning.
1648 It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes it all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God's faithful love. Spouses who with God's grace give this witness, often in very difficult conditions, deserve the gratitude and support of the ecclesial community.
1649 Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble.
1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ - "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.
1651 Toward Christians who live in this situation, and who often keep the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christian manner, priests and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, in whose life they can and must participate as baptized persons:
They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God's grace.
EWTN has an index
of Theology of the Body with 81 of the 129 addresses to the Wednesday general audiences.
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Being made God
- a couple of interesting ECF quotes
Irenaeus - Against Heresies, 5
The Word of God, Jesus Christ, on account of His great love for mankind, became what we are in order to make us what He is himself.Athanasius - On the Incarnation of the Word of God, 54
For He was made man that we might be made GodJohn 10:34
Jesus answered them: Is it not written in your law: I said, you are gods?Psalm 82:6
I have said: You are gods and all of you the sons of the most High.2 Peter 1:4
By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.CCC 460
460 The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature":78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81
For more, read on Theosis
I must ponder this for some time ... our calling to be Holy is high indeed.