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My Advent Wish

Less than 24 hours remain in Advent 2014, and while the season hasn't been particularly hard, life itself has been.  Reflecting back, I think my life has been in a semi-tailspin since late January 2012, from which I've only partially recovered.
Without revealing too much, I've been struggling to overcome a habitual sin that has plagued me for far too long; my economic contribution to my family has been negligible, and I've been ambivalent about joining the Roman rite of the Catholic Church since Spring 2012.
What I (think) need is a priest who can find that balance in the confessional between saying, "Quit Fu@&ing around" and "Jesus loves you more than you can imagine, keep following Him, do not, under any circumstances, take your eyes from Him."


Does anyone in SE Michigan know of such a priest?
Here's hoping your Advent has been fruitful.

Realization of the Weekend

There is no twelve-step program for pride.  The sins of the flesh, while destructive, are not the worst, as is the spiritual sin of pride.  That it's invisible and can be mistaken for good makes it that much more insidious.


Good-bye to All That

Old Flatt is as dead as a drywall screw.  My father is dead.  I'm not sure when it happened, but I believe it was sometime last fall.  I don't know what happened; I only found out about it in a Facebook post.  No one told me.  No one has yet told me. 



     I believe I've revealed on this blog about my origins: that the man who holds held the title of father to me only did so because he was a rapist.  Someone who claimed to be a good friend to my mother chose to take his anger and God knows what other thoughts and emotions he couldn't handle out on my mother by asserting his sexual power.  His fecundity was forced rather than as a loving act of self-donation.

     Which brings up a side point.  I can't tell you how prickly I get whenever I hear some pro-abort talk about the importance of being able to kill the Lebensunwertes Leben. I get, more than most men, the pain and shame a woman receives from rape.  Yet, I also understand more than most women, that the rhetoric …

Worth Quoting: Meme edition

--John Milton, from "Sonnet XII"

Worth Quoting

For whatever reason, I find Orthodox authors resonate with me much more than Roman Catholic authors--I'm a Roman convert from Evangelical Protestantism.  Perhaps it's their reliance on stories of saints past, like the following.  Nonna Verna Harrison recounts this story of a young monk (from the desert, probably Egypt) asking an older, wiser one for guidance:
A brother asked a hermit, "Tell me something good that I may do it and live by it."  The hermit said, "God alone knows what is good.  But I have heard that one of the hermits asked the great Nesteros, who was a friend of Anthony, [Anthony the Great, foremost monk of the Egyptian desert--SFM] 'What good work shall I do?' and he replied, 'Surely all works please God equally?  Scripture says, Abraham was hospitable and God was with him; Elijah loved quiet and God was with him; David was humble and God was with him.' So whatever you find you are drawn to in following God's will, do it and le…

Worth Quoting

Phillip Blond is talking about Britain, but his point could be taken here in America.
In essence, the left needs a conservative account of society in order to create the vibrant civic space through which its goals can be most ably achieved.  At the same time, true conservatism needs to recognise crushing economic inequality and its harmful effects on precisely those institutions which conservatives instinctively cherish.  This requires dedication to equity and fairness, to distributed wealth and asset ownership, as much as to inherited culture and ethical traditions.  Social harmony does not flow from centrally enforced unity, and social justice does not spring unaided from libertarian indifference.  If the health of society is the common goal, then society itself must be valued higher than both state and market. --From Red Tory 

Babies

Having children has to be one of life's top three pleasures (also one of life's top five annoyances).  Guiding them as they grow, watching how they navigate the wonder found in the world is a slow-burn of joy.

     In addition to one's own children, joy is found in the babies of creatures we share the world with.  If one can combine animal babies with one's own, one may have stumbled upon an alternative energy source that cannot be usurped by corporations.

     My children and I have watched infant praying mantids leave the relative safety of their egg case and venture into a world of danger, and for a fortunate few, maturation.  We've set a luna moth free that we observed from caterpillar to cocoon to adult.

     Most recently, we've watched Eastern American toad tadpoles (Bufo americanus americanus) metamorphose into tiny toadlets.






     Some wish their children could remain forever babies; not me, I was glad to be rid of the diaper pail.  It's much b…

"I'm My Own Person" and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

I used to teach mass media to high school students and it never surprised me when most of them, when asked, thought that advertising (and pop culture in general) had little to no influence on them.  Adults, quite often, tell themselves the same thing.

If advertising didn't work, however, it wouldn't exist.  Those billions spent would be wasted money--which isn't to say that all advertising works all the time--it doesn't.

An old acquaintance was on Facebook asking about getting a tattoo.  I replied that the response was merely bandwagoning--tattoos have been so mainstreamed that many who have them now are the same people thirty years ago would have turned their noses up at them.

Artifacts, ideas, attitudes: these are in our ecosystem and all influence us for good and ill.  To think otherwise is simply fooling oneself.

We pride ourselves on originality and individuality, but I find those to be overrated.  One, it's damn near impossible to be completely original and i…

Worth Quoting

"Love receives but does not take what is not given."  --Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

Why is something so simple so difficult?

Why am I so slow to learn?

The View from Saturday

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? —Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann

And yet..."There lives the dearest freshness deep/ down things;/ And though the last lights off the black/ West went/ Oh, morning at the brown brink/ eastward springs--"

Like a House

O Lord,
The house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!
It displeases Your sight.
I confess it, I know.
But who shall cleanse it,
to whom shall I cry but to you?
Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord,
and spare Your servant from strange sins.                                     --St. Augustine
Lent is about halfway through and my house [soul] is still a mess.  It's a crack house, a whorehouse, a poor house, a rent-controlled shack.  Every confession cleans it up a bit, but the filth comes right back.


Image courtesy of Pikkatze



I let in the dirt, knowing my LORD wants it clean.  I should dwell in a spotless tent, but I've turned it into a latrine.  Why do I return to my vomit?  Why is that more attractive than the face of Beauty? Give me a spirit of purity, humility, patience and love, LORD.
How is your Lenten journey progressing?  What is the condition of your house?



"It's About Control..."

I remember back in Sunday school when I was 14 or 15, and Sister "B." asked us what person from the Bible we most identified with.  I don't remember whom I chose--I do remember struggling with an answer--Moses, maybe?--but most of my peers chose the famous, the strong, the victorious: Peter, Paul, David, etc.  Those people all seemed larger-than-life, how could I identify with them.  They are in THE BIBLE, after all.
Flash forward 30 years and here I am, unemployed, bounced-off unemployment insurance (for doing the right thing, I believe), struggling to find clients for my business, driving a 15 year-old vehicle that won't last much longer and wondering where is the favor of God?
As the days roll on, and possible employment opportunities or clients become just smoke, I find myself tied up in a plastic bag full of fear.  The fear expresses itself as anger at God, which morphs into guilt.  Guilt because who am I to lash out at God when I could be a Syrian refugee; I co…

Three cubed or The Ninth Day of Christmas

Note: This is going out a wee bit later than planned, but that's mostly due to an unplanned overnight stay in Milwaukee.

What is the best gift you've received?  Here on the Ninth Day of Christmas, we can reflect on, obviously, the number nine.
It is an amplification of the sacred number of three--in some circumstances the thrice cry of believers of "Kyrie Eleison" is heard three times.  There are supposedly nine angelic choirs scattered about the supposed nine cosmic spheres.
We do know, as St. Paul attests, nine fruit(s?) of the Holy Spirit are available for those who seek.  This fruit might be why there are nine ladies dancing.
They dance the dance of love            They dance the dance of joy
They dance the dance of peace
They frolic for longsuffering
They waltz with kindness
They caper for goodness
They cavort with faithfulness
They gambol for gentleness
They flit with self-control (if that's not oxymoronic)
Of these nine fruit/gifts which have you received…