Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category
One of my old pastors would describe CCD in the 1970′s this way: “we were taught two things: be nice and don’t do drugs.” I thought of that when I saw this hilarious video:
H/t: Patrick Madrid
Thank you to all those who have prayed for Fr. Francis Martin, who had a heart attack last week while in Copenhagen. He has stabilized and is doing much better. You can get updates on his progress at this website:
I just received the following email:
We just received a call from the American Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark saying that Fr. Francis Martin has had a heart attack, is in ICU on a ventilator and unconscious.
Fr. Francis Martin is the chaplain at the Mother of God community here in Gaithersburg, and he is also one of the brightest Catholic Scripture scholars on the planet. He was recently in Uganda on a mission trip and must have had the heart attack while traveling home.
Please pray for Fr. Francis!
I’m back from my trip to Ohio! I want to thank a few people that made the trip such an enjoyable time:
Mark and Gretchen Nelson, owners of Nelson Fine Art and Gifts and Catholic to the Max (if you need any Catholic art or gifts, you’ll find it there). Our family stayed with them in Steubenville a few days, and as always they were gracious hosts.
Vito Carchedi, chairman of the Society of St. John Chrysostom Youngstown Chapter, who invited me to speak to their group last Tuesday. The Society is a great group with wonderful people, and I enjoyed meeting Vito, Richard Mattiussi, Fr. George Gage, Raymond Nakely and all the fine folks there. Hopefully my talk helped in the goal that we all “might be one” someday.
Matt Swaim, Brian Patrick, Anna Mitchell and everyone at The Son Rise Morning Show, who had me as an in-studio guest on Friday. It was wonderful to finally meet them after numerous phone interviews over the past year. I also was able to meet Rich Leonardi, who runs the wonderful blog Ten Reasons. Rich and I have corresponded for years via email and blogs, but haven’t been able to meet in person until we happened to be interviewed back-to-back on Son Rise.
Now, back to blogging!
When I was in high school, I applied for a job as a lifeguard at the local YMCA. I had grown up taking swimming lessons at “The Y” and spent my summers with my brother and sister at their pool. In all my time there, I barely knew what “YMCA” stood for; I just knew it was the local pool. However, when I was interviewing for the lifeguard position, the director of this particular branch emphasized to me that the YMCA was the “Young Men’s Christian Association” and that he expected all his employees to act in a Christian manner. Since I had recently received Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior (remember, I was not Catholic at this time, but Evangelical), I enthusiastically embraced the director’s vision of what YMCA employees should be. Of course, most of my fellow lifeguards spent the weekends partying and drinking; I think there was only one other self-professed Christian on the lifeguard staff. But nonetheless, the director still believed there was something Christian about the YMCA.
Well, it looks like the YMCA no longer agrees: they are officially changing their name to “The Y”. Aside from the silliness of the new name, I do feel a certain sense of loss from the change. I know that The Y has been no more traditionally Christian over the past few decades than many mainline Protestant denominations, but it is still sad that they have formally abandoned their roots. Like the universities and colleges that were begun by sincere Christians but now reject that worldview, The Y no longer wants to be associated with Christianity, as they feel it might hurt their bottom line. This is the reality we now live in, and in many ways it shows the need for a re-evangelization of the Western world that Pope Benedict is calling for.
And an even more important issue: what will happen to that standard song of all dances: the Village People’s “Y-M-C-A”? I really can’t see it catching on without the “M-C-A,” can you?
I don’t often comment on politics on this blog, but I thought the following video sums up my opinion of most politicians pretty nicely:
Matt Maher, who is a Catholic musician and one of my favorites, is currently performing in space! Well, not exactly, but pretty close:
Alive Again is currently orbiting aboard space shuttle Atlantis, servicing its final scheduled journey after almost a quarter-century of missions. Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center on May 14, 2010, and will spend 12 days in orbit and 7 days docked to the International Space Station where astronauts will deliver a Russian research module, along with other equipment and replacement parts.
Maher’s music has become a staple carry-on item for NASA astronaut, Mike Good, who has officially selected Maher’s song “Alive Again” as one of his “wake-up songs” — not only reviving Good from an outer space slumber but the rest of the STS-132 and International Space Station crew as well.
Astronaut Good relayed a message of inspiration after a recent wake up call from NASA headquarters, “Good morning Houston! It’s great to wake up here in space again. We’re looking forward to another beautiful day docked at the International Space Station. I thank God for this opportunity to view the glory of His creation from this perspective — and thanks to Matt Maher for that song, ‘Alive Again.’”
This marks the third year in a row that Maher’s music has visited the cosmos. In June 2008 and 2009 Matt’s previous album Empty & Beautiful (4/8/08) found its way onto shuttle Discovery for NASA Mission STS-124 with astronaut Ron Garan and aboard Atlantis STS-125 with Mike Good.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Mission Specialist, Mike Good when I was in Houston last year thanks to a friend of mine; seeing the NASA facility and hearing about the work that everyone there does was amazing, especially since, as a child, I always aspired to be an astronaut!” says Maher. “Music intersects with people’s lives and inspires something unique from every person, so really, it’s such an honor that he would choose one of my songs to start his day. Having my song played in space is one thing, but in context with what he says reminds me of what a great Man of God Mike is. It is such an honor to have my music start anyone’s day.”
H/t: Aggie Catholics
It was recently reported that some communities in Maryland – including my own – are distributing recycling bins with tracking chips. This allows these communities to track how many people are putting out recycling bins each week. But officials insist that no one tracks individual’s total amount of recycling or what they recycle:
County officials say the new technology keeps track of how frequently residents set out their recycling bins for pickup, but isn’t used to measure amounts or types of materials households are recycling…
Information gathered using the tracking device is linked to each individual homeowner’s address. However, [Dawn] Adams [Frederick County's recycling program manager] said the data was used only to gauge neighborhood participation in the county’s recycling program.
“We can see if participation is lower in certain areas, so then we can target those areas more for outreach,” she said.
I see no reason to doubt the honesty of Ms. Adams, but forgive my skepticism if I don’t believe that this technology won’t someday be used for more onerous purposes, such as fining those who don’t recycle up to the county’s imposed standards. I don’t say this because I believe that my local government officials are particularly power-hungry or over-aggressive, I say this because I believe that they are human, and such, are afflicted with the consequences of Original Sin.
It is well-known that most political conservatives don’t trust Big Government, and that most political liberals don’t trust Big Business. I don’t trust either, because I know that both are run by sinful men and women with a lot of power. The temptation for abuse is awfully strong, and it is a temptation that history has shown most people can’t resist. And usually the path to the fall looks a lot like the above situation: an organization decides to implement something that is ripe for abuse while proclaiming “we won’t abuse it, we will just use it for good!” But shortly that new power is slowly expanded until it is truly abused (although it is still claimed to be used for “good”).
In most acts of contrition, we pray to “avoid the near occasion of sin”. I think it would be prudent if government and business organizations would also take that desire to heart, so that they don’t give themselves the tools of their own fall.
Yesterday news broke that Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor was charged with rape and patronizing a prostitute. This follows the accusation about a month ago that Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sexually assaulted a college student in Georgia earlier this year. In both cases, people who knew the men expressed shock and disbelief that these men would have done such heinous acts. Like many such high-profile cases, people could not see how men they perceived as “nice” could also act in such a manner.
The problem is that too many people today equate being “nice” with being good. Being nice is part of being good, but the two terms are not equivalent. Niceness, or politeness, is simply one of the virtues that entail being a good person. It is quite possible to be polite to others and yet be a monster. In fact, many monsters throughout history have used politeness to accomplish their evil designs.
Each of the virtues involve putting the good of others before one’s own desires. This is true of politeness; instead of just dominating interactions with others to obtain your own needs, being polite forces you to put the other person’s needs ahead of your own. But it is quite possible to be selfless when it comes to social interactions in public and still be quite selfish in other situations, especially those that occur in private. Each person has his own strengths and weaknesses in the moral life, and just because a person might be unfailingly polite does not mean that he is also virtuous in other areas. For example, a person might have been raised with strict guidelines for being polite in social situations and thus is able to be polite quite easily, but he might also be a compulsive liar or adulterer. Furthermore, oftentimes people will behave in public much differently than they behave in private – not for virtuous reasons, but because they want to avoid shame.
The key to a truly virtuous life – to being truly “good” – is making all your actions selfless, even those no one else sees. Each one of us will struggle with a few particular areas and find other areas of the moral life quite easy. But we need to remember that being “nice” does not mean we have mastered the moral life. This is true not just for public figures, but for ourselves as well.
One of my favorite blogs, Sacramentum Vitae, maintained by Michael Liccione, has returned after a long hiatus. This is great news – Michael is one of the best Catholic bloggers around, and he was sorely missed while he was away from blogging. If you haven’t been to his blog before, be sure to check it out.
Dr. Gary Smalley is a popular Christian marriage counselor who has written numerous books to help strengthen marriages. In this video, he takes a bit of a different – and more humorous - approach:
H/t: Byzantine, TX
I was teaching Catechism to my son yesterday, and our topic was vocations. I was talking about living various vocations in the Church, such as being a lay person or a priest. At dinner, my wife was asking him what he learned about vocations, and he said,
“Well, you can either be a priest or a lame person.”
Two videos for your enjoyment today. First, a look back at how well we here in the mid-Atlantic handle snow:
Next, a look forward at the season we are about to enter:
Or, in other words:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”