Monthly Archives: April 2012

7 Quick Takes: Another Attempt at Writing More Often

Well the first Tuesday LarryD wasn’t at his blog so there was no 3 1/2 Time Outs link to be made… then a Tuesday went by and I didn’t even notice… Then last Tuesday’s attempt turned into a single-topic post and yeah… Maybe next Tuesday I’ll try it again.

In the meantime though, it’s Friday and I’d better take advantage of it! Jen Fulwiler’s 7 Quick Takes Friday is a GO.

1. Our little succulent plant is half dead, and this time we don’t know why. We’re really good at killing plants, except a poinsettia which stuck around for almost a whole year before I got all super smart and looked up how to get one to bloom, and found out that it had to do with temperature changes. I put it outside in the middle of December, and I guess since it was too abrupt of a temperature change from inside the house, because the poor thing just gave up the ghost. I’m not one for superstitious signs, but it does make me wonder how we are going to keep a multi-need child alive when a plant, which needs nothing more than water and sunlight, comes into this place and flops over within weeks or even days.

The stalk on the left is new-ish (it sprouted since we bought it) and even has a tiny bud on it, but it's been that way for weeks. The rest of the plant has shriveled and died. It used to be about 5 inches tall and very bushy.

2. I have started to read a book called The Apostolate of Holy Motherhood. It is a verbatim collection of visionary locutions received from February to August 1987 to a mid-30s housewife and mother of three young children, who remains anonymous as promised by our Lady so that her identity as a mom would be protected. I’m generally not one for visions or private revelations of any sort – a lot of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich and Venerable Mary of Agreda’s writings seem a little “off” to me – but hey, this one’s got all the right permissions, authoritative checks, and orthodox people’s recommendations (including Blessed Mother Teresa), plus it’s about motherhood, so on a totally uncharacteristic impulse I bought it. It’s been sitting on the shelf for several months basically because I was afraid to read it and be guilted into some Maybelline-Mary soft-focus everything-suffused-in-early-morning-sunshine mode of motherhood which would be artificial, stilted, overly complicated, and just generally Not Me, and then when I inevitably fail miserably at molding myself into an intense prayer regimen that isn’t natural to my relationship with God, I would feel a combination of resentment and hopelessness that would prevent me from ever getting back into the spiritual saddle again.

Well, like I said, I started reading it. I haven’t gotten very far so I don’t have much to say about it but I do want to say this: It has something that I have been looking for, and which not only modern mothers but young women who have not yet decided between marriage and the religious life need. It has the depth, intensity, and sincere piety of pre-Vatican II writings, but also the sensibilities and understanding of the contemporary situation. There is none of the vague fluffiness of a lot of modern spirituality writings and all of the definite doctrinal orthodoxy of the “days of yore”, where things were laid on the line. There is also a correct understanding of the principles and truths of the Second Vatican Council without the staggeringly idealistic commands of those who truly desire to “turn back the clock” to some 1890s dream and live a life as though modern technology, complications, and situations do not exist. I wish someone else were reading it with me so I could discuss it as we went along. I don’t think it’s the kind of book I want to read alone.

3. As much as I want to reply to this video with a towering inferno of I HAVE NO WORDS FOR THIS… Who am I kidding. I always have words. This is a disgusting display of how so many in our current government don’t give a hoot about whether some policy, mandate, legislation, whatever is actually allowable in our country under our rules (aka the Constitution). Time was, people knew that if something were unconstitutional we just plain couldn’t do it because that’s how our country is run, so they took pains to make sure it was constitutional and if it wasn’t, then it was changed to be constitutional or it was abandoned. Now it’s more of, “We want this to happen so we will make it happen, and it doesn’t matter what sorts of restrictions there are because we don’t want this to be restricted.” It’s made completely clear in the video that Sebelius and her crew had, and have, no intentions of taking religious liberty, the Constitution, or legal precedence seriously and are just messing around with meaningless words (aka lying) and expecting everything they do to be passed without challenge.

The sad thing is, one part of me rejoices that this happened and that people are able to see for themselves the wretched posing, unethical behavior, and deceit being practiced, and hopefully DO something about it, while another part of me thinks that no matter how much light is shed on this dreadful breach of decent behavior, not to mention honest policy and procedure, in the end it will not matter and we will still be stuck with the result because of the ungodly amount of power and brute force wielded by those who want to see it come to fruition.

4. I dinged 28 weeks today! I have reached the stage where I want to eat everything in sight. For the past several hours I have wanted to dive headfirst into a giant bag of Mother’s iced animal cracker cookies. Sigh. Even Pringles would do in a pinch. Why oh why do I have to be prudent and not keep snack food in the house…


5. One of the reasons I’m getting so excited about the impending birth of this baby is so I can find out what I’m going to do about it. It sounds kinda silly because it seems backwards. I’ve been reading other women’s tales of what they do with their children in XYZ situation and how they are going to approach/handle/teach ABC to them for at least a decade now – yeah, I started early. The whole time I’ve been weighing what they have to say, what my mom did, what I think are good guidelines, and what I’ve read in books and things, and analyzing it all. I make mental notes of what appeals to me and fits in with the kind of mom I want to be, and discard or tweak the things which I think are weird, wrong, wouldn’t mesh with us, or just don’t apply. I don’t want to wade into this with absolutely no clue or fundamentals for what I’m going to do.

But on the other hand, there’s something exciting about the prospects of being able to put all this stuff into practice and see how it really works out. What sorts of things am I going to forget or mishandle? What sorts of hidden faults, assumptions, or habits will I fall back on? And, maybe the biggest, what the heck will I do right and how will I be able to do it consistently?

6. Chocolate cake. Mexican food. Pasta salad. Vanilla ice cream with all kinds of fresh fruit on it. Orange sherbet. Pork pie. Grilled salmon. A giant hamburger with avocado slices on it. Bread pudding. Thank goodness we’re going to a restaurant tomorrow for the science fiction and fantasy club’s end of the year party.

7. Maternity bathing suits are preposterously expensive considering that they’re worn for so short a time period. I want to get in the pool, but I can’t bring myself to pay $35+ for the luxury.


Catholics and Contemporary Life

There is a recently published book out there called Style, Sex, and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter. It is wildly popular in the mainstream orthodox-Catholics-on-the-internet circles, and as such has mostly garnered gushing reviews. Each chapter is written by a different prominent female Catholic blogger on a different subject:

Jennifer Fulwiler on “Who is the modern Catholic woman?” (Conversion Diary)
Karen Edmisten on the spiritual life (The Blog with the Shockingly Clever Title)
Rachel Balducci on friendship (Testosterhome)
Annie Mitchell on the single life (contributes to The Integrated Catholic Life)
Rebecca Teti on work (contributes to Faith and Family Live)
Hallie Lord on style, beauty and balance (Betty Beguiles)
Betty Duffy on sex (Betty Duffy)
Danielle Bean on marriage (Danielle Bean)
Barbara Nicolosi on engaging the culture (Church of the Masses)
Simcha Fisher on motherhood (I Have to Sit Down)

I’ve read a lot of most of the authors’ previous writings and some excerpts from the book itself. It seems pretty solid to me. But then it gets a book review like this one from Suzanne of Lear, Kent, Fool: The Good, the Not-So-Great, and the You Gotta Be Kidding.

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Disobedience Is Not The Solution For Unpopular Liturgical Rules

Father Cory Sticha of Malta, Montana in the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings wrote a post on his blog Omne Quod Spirat, Laudet Dominum titled “Why I refuse to bless children at Communion“.

Father Z of What Does the Prayer Really Say fame picked up his post and made some comments on it in a post of his own titled “A priest on giving blessings at Communion time“. This opened up Fr. Sticha’s post to a vast, opinionated audience.

Another priest, Father Ryan Erlenbush, writing at The New Theological Movement, picked up the topic and wrote a rebuttal to Fr. Sticha’s article in which he addressed Fr. Z as well, titled “What’s wrong with blessing children in the Communion line?

After you get done slogging through all of that, don’t forget to come back here. :)

One of my friends posted Fr. Erlenbush’s article in a Catholic Facebook group to which I belong in hopes of sparking a good discussion. I read the post and, well, was not favorably impressed with its contents. I didn’t feel up to doing a point by point fisking of the post, so I limited myself to saying, “Wow. That article is very poorly reasoned.” My friend replied with “No, it’s not.” Ok. All right. I asserted something without backup; it’s perfectly acceptable to reply with a flat contradiction and no backup. So I went back to the article, opened up Notepad, and wrote a point by point fisking of the post in order to support my assertion. It turned out far too long to post as a comment, and I didn’t want to deluge the post or break up what I said because people tend to balk at doing more than skimming at that point, and breaking up a comment tends to lead to someone missing one or several points of argument, and that usually makes discussions spiral around the drain as frustrations rise. So I decided to put it here, to be read in its entirety, and if people want to engage in discussion I welcome it, but there’s no intimidating wall o’ text; just a little link that can be ignored if it suits them.

I apologize for the terse writing style. It does not imply any particular emotional context to the text; it’s just a consequence of desiring a briefer result. Here is why I think the post is poorly reasoned: it relies on irrelevancies, red herrings, false choices, making issues out of non-issues, and spurious and scurrilous assertions.

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3 1/2 Time Outs Tuesday: Stuff I Think is Weird

So a bunch of other Catholic blogs have a weekly thing called “Seven Quick Takes”, started by Jennifer Fulwiler’s Conversion Diary blog, which they post on Fridays. Larry D. from Acts of the Apostacy came up with “3 1/2 Time Outs Tuesday: Just like Conversion Diary’s 7 Quick-Takes Friday, but only half as long, and nearly half as good.” I figure it’d be nice to participate in something short and recurring like this, so I will post more often.

This is a list of some things that have to do with pregnancy, birth, and parenting which I think are weird.

1. Using the term “little one” when referring to a baby or child.
Saying something like “With four little ones running around, I don’t know how she manages to walk through the house without falling down” isn’t too strange. I was at a pregnant-and-new-moms group one night. Before it started, one mom asked another, “How old is your little one?” I think it’s an awkward phrase. Then again, I associate the phrase with Deanna Troi’s mother, Lwaxana, calling her “Little One” all the time on Star Trek: The Next Generation so to me it’s more of a nickname than a generic modified noun. Baby, child, newborn, kid, infant, son, or daughter all sound better to me. It also has this air of “otherness” like offspring, progeny, or youngling.

2. Calling two or more kids getting together a “playdate”.
It sounds too formal and structured, as though the kid has a secretary who needs to schedule it into her Blackberry calendar, and does not allow for spontaneity. It makes me think of corporate offices and artificial ficus plants, with all the parents involved wearing business suits. Why did we ever stop calling it “going over to [name]’s house to visit”? Was there ever a single word for this event before “playdate” came around? What do you call it if it’s spur of the moment and not a “date, on which day at this certain time in the not-today future Child X and Child Y will associate with each other in person, with or without other children present as well”? It sounds contrived and commercial, and kind of yuppie-ish.

3. Touching a pregnant woman’s stomach without her permission. Double if you’re not close family or a close friend. No upper limit if you’re a stranger.
What makes people think they can do this??? Just because I have a baby growing in my uterus does NOT mean my body is public property! Is it suddenly “Inappropriate Touching Season” and I didn’t get the memo? Can I pat your belly in return? Besides, if someone touches me on the “top shelf” part of my distended midsection, that person’s patting or rubbing my digestive system. OHHHHHHH WHO’S A HAPPY BOUNCY LITTLE SMALL INTESTINE? In order to be anywhere near the baby, someone would have to touch the underside of my belly, between my belly button and my pubic bone. … AWKWARD.
That’s all applicable to pregnant women in general. On top of that I have an extremely negative reaction to the perceived threat of being tickled. I am also very ticklish. Even if I do let you touch me, that rolling, quivering vibration you feel when you touch my midsection is not a cute kicking, hiccuping, or swimming baby; it is my skin trying to run away from you.

3 1/2. Asking “What is it?” when you want to know what the baby’s sex is. Questions like, “Is your baby a boy or girl?”, “Have you found out the sex/gender of the baby yet?” or even “So should I drown you in pink stuff or powder-blue stuff?” make more sense firstly, and second, don’t make me reply, “Well we’re hoping for a human but you know it could always be a