Thursday, April 29, 2010

An Open Letter to the Millennials (Or Gen Y) #tcot #sgp

Dear Millennial,

This letter has been in the making for quite some time. I've been observing your generation over the years, which has various start/end dates, but let's say you were born between 1974 and 1994. A good many of you are in the workplace, eager to make your own mark upon the world. You are not the first and nor the last generation who intends to change the world. Each generation has their leaders, their milestones. I imagine yours will be no different.

However, your generation is different on many levels. You are definitely more politically aware at a younger age than my generation (Gen X). You were raised with technology and because of it, earned the name "digital native." You never dealt with such things as a typewriter or a life without the Internet. Others more experienced than I can delve into the scientific data on how this has affected you and your interpersonal relationships, but I can pass along a few thoughts. Digital has perhaps made your lives more accessible but not necessarily easier. I regret that your lives are less private than mine was at your age. I have no idea how I would have handled "cyber-stalking." God knows I had enough problems wondering if a boy liked me and dealing with bullies on the playground. If that "playground" was global, I think I would have refused to come out of my room until I was thirty.

I remember when the Gen Xer's came into the workforce. There was the natural head-butting with the previous generation, (the Boomers) who pretty much said to us, "Sit down. Cool your heels. Be patient. That corner office will eventually be yours but for now, work at the entry-level gig without complaint." My, goodness. How a few decades make a difference.

Now we have your generation entering the workforce with its own demands which include being handed the corner office before you hit thirty. Heck, you want it the second year you're working at an organization. Now before you get all defensive, I want you to know I don't hold you entirely responsible for such chutzpah. Your schools gave you fancy trophies for just showing up. You rarely had to actually win anything in order to be seen as "a winner." Your parents, determined to allow you to have "a voice" and develop a healthy self-esteem, told you constantly that you were a rock star.

Anyone who has watched the early auditions for "American Idol" know this is untrue. (And speaking of those horrendous auditions where everyone asks, "Where are the parents of this child? How could they let them make a complete fool of themselves on national television?" Well, the answer to that question is obvious: they lied to them.)

Yes, we realize you expect reward and recognition at every turn. Yes, we realize you believe you're above average. But guess what? That's not reality. Unfortunately, your parents and schools didn't really prepare you well for the cold, bitter world. You're going to meet a lot of people who could care less how hard you worked on an article. If it sucks, it sucks. Many managers won't care either that you really, really need to support your friend by attending a "Save The Box Jellyfish" protest rally and miss half a day of work. In their eyes, you're missing work. Period. And I wouldn't advise telling that manager she is selfish if she doesn't care about the jellyfish.

The other thing: knock off that huge chip on your shoulder before you really get knocked back on your keister by some crank who doesn't give a rip that you care more about the environment than Al Gore. I have both witnessed and experienced too many of you getting all huffy when someone points out that you're young and inexperienced. Believe me, I have a feeling that the generation that follows you is going to be even more touchy, so you'll understand when you're in your forties. But for now, refrain from blowing a gasket if someone calls you a "kid." Because you know what? You are. You've lived for perhaps two decades in what hopefully will be a full life and no, you don't know everything yet and if you were half as wise as you think you are, you'd realize that.

But youth is for making silly mistakes, growing, learning, laughing, and overall enjoying life. Pretty much everyone goes through the same phase - thinking they know it all, understanding they really don't know as much as they thought they did, and finally embracing the fact that they can learn something new every day and isn't that wonderful?

Everything has sped up over the past forty years. Believe it or not, there actually were families who didn't have microwaves and when dinner took at least an hour to make. But millennials think everything should be fast and if it's not, they get impatient. Please. Save your mental health by accepting that life won't happen on your schedule. You can't control everything and the faster you realize this, the more content your life will be. Savor the moment. Inhale your time slowly and exhale even more slowly. I find it ironic that the young want to rush to become older but then magically pass this point where life is rushing by too quickly. Ever see the movie "Remote?" Yeah, something like that.

You have more technological devices to help you become more productive. Resist the urge to allow it to dominate your life. I know. It's hard. What with computers, smart phones, netbooks, iPads - it's very difficult to disconnect but it's important to do so on a regular basis. Otherwise, you'll wake up one day to find you're 45, still living at home and thinking plaid pajamas are an acceptable outfit for the entire day.

If you've read this far without unleashing a Twitter fatwa against me, I applaud you. You've been known as an "overly sensitive" lot. That's not a compliment but it is understandable, giving all the fawning that has been lavished upon your sweet, fortunate heads. Handling criticism is a very important part of life. Not everyone is going to see you as the next savior for their organization or cause. But if you can shrug off the verbal jabs and plow through the obstacles as they arise, I have every reason to believe that not only will you accomplish what you set out to do, you will leave a trail of fire so others may follow.

Just keep your head straight and realize the world did quite well before you came along and will likely have improved after you've left. Live your life truly FTW.* Good luck.

*For The Win

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bill Ayers, Rape, and Selective Political Posturing #tcot #sgp

I read an article on Robert S. McCain's blog ("The Progressive Legacy of Bill Ayers: Sloppy Seconds for Social Justice") that so unnerved me, I was shaking by the end of it. Few things set me off like the topic of rape. Not only is the very act vile and evil, but the politicization of it is just as vile. There are almost no words to describe the anger I feel when others rationalize it. However, I'm sure you know I have a few words. Oh, yes. A few, indeed.

First, the nightmarish story of a young woman who went to college with Bill Ayers and agreed to attend a party with him. Both got drunk. Neither was an excuse for what happened next. While she was in Ayers' dorm room, he barred the door and told her she wasn't allowed to leave until she had sex with his roommate and his own brother. If she refused to have sex with his roommate (who was black), then surely she was a racist. Because she felt trapped, and because Ayers was such a genius at using guilt - she gave in. She described having an "out-of-body" experience as she was consumed with self-hatred by her own willingness to fight. Ayers' brother, thankfully, declined to rape her.

McCain goes on to describe a more recent event. A young American woman, desiring to help Haiti and fight against injustice and oppression - ended up getting raped by the very object of her rallying support: a black man. In McCain's comment section, she claimed she was "asking for it" and got what she deserved. If you scroll down the comments, you'll see my response.

This type of thinking from the American woman, who is obviously a liberal, is the kind of half-baked mush coming from our institutions of so-called higher education. I remember years ago, Marilyn French's famous quote from her book The Woman's Room: "all men are rapists." I remember how the feminists marched across campuses throughout the country, insisting on "taking back the night." I imagine the American activist in Haiti would have much in common with such a protest. And therein lies the problem.

Is rape subjective? Is it acceptable in one situation but condemned in another? Obviously it is, at least according to Amanda Kijera pretzel-style logic. On one hand, women are brainwashed with radical feminism in college to look at all men with suspicion and assume there is a rapist within each one, waiting to pounce. On the other hand, they are taught that throughout the world, minorities are oppressed and as such, may retaliate in anger because of it. The "acting out" (which is swiftly nipped in the bud when coming from a toddler), is tolerated by the left because they think their success is somehow "stealing" something from those who, more often than not, are unwilling to make the effort.

It is warped logic and universities excel in it. Now you have the unfortunate result of a young woman who bought the lies, the twisted ideology, the misdirected shame and anger - who is forced to live with the tragic consequence of abuse. And amazingly, she is grateful for the experience. Friends, that to me is the pinnacle of crazy. When you call evil, "good," it's time to re-examine your values or at the very least, return your feminist card.

I have many targets toward which to aim my anger. The liberal school system for indoctrinating the young woman. The men who believe it's no big deal to rape someone. The rationalization of such a heinous crime. The excusing of the crime because the perpetrator was oppressed. And finally the woman who acts as though it is the paragon of virtue to silently remind herself that although life and dignity have been squeezed out of her, it's understandable because the poor guy can't get a job.

It's not. Rape is never acceptable and will always be an act of power and control over a woman. I ask you to pray for Amanda, for her safety and for her willingness to be honest with herself and a therapist. Healing after such an event will take time but can be done.

However, the healing can't even start when a woman refuses to acknowledge that what was done to her. It is wrong. It is not acceptable. And under no circumstances, should it be tolerated.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Farewell to a Home

I spent the weekend gathering the last of my mementos from my father's house. After my mother passed away in 2007, the house suddenly seemed to age a decade and the lack of her presence left a vacuum. Suddenly, the difference between the word "house" and "home" collided with my sentimentality and sense of loss.

My father lived in the house for a few more years before re-marrying and moving to another state last year. But still, when I visited him, I continued to think of it as "going home." Now it will be sold and along with it, the last physical link to my childhood. We moved into the modest three-bedroom home when I was two-years old. My first childhood memory was when I stood upon my bed to look out the window and saw our next door neighbor's yellow garage with the dark black windows.

We had a fabulous wood behind the home. Tall elm trees lined the edge of the yard and multiplied into a cool, shallow glen; with a creek that lazily drizzled from a large water drainage pipe. Honeysuckle and lilac bushes filled the air with delectable perfume. The neighborhood kids would join my brother and me as we hiked down the small path and imagined ourselves to be great adventurers. There was clay in the banks along the creek and we took pleasure in digging it out and fashioning amazingly ugly ashtrays for our parents. We did what every kid should do when they're kids. We played outside until the sun set and got plenty muddy.

I'll never forget what was the pride and joy for my brother and myself - and made us the envy of the neighborhood: my father built us an honest-to-goodness tree house. But this wasn't a platform with a fake Jolly Roger hoisted on a tree limb passing itself off as a "house." It was a real little house, complete with walls, a roof, windows, and a door. I used to love to go up there and once it was warm, my brother and I would spend the night on the weekends. What fun we used to have up there in our own little world!

Years later, after my brother and I finished college, a neighbor across the street asked if my father would be willing to remove it if he helped him. He was concerned that some younger children wouldn't be able to resist the tree house and could possibly become hurt by trying to climb up - or worse, falling out once they had climbed up. My father agreed and they removed it. I felt relieved because the last thing I wanted to see was an accident.

Our home was filled with love and laughter, good home-cooking and plenty of fond memories. I remember the time I was getting ready for my prom and as I was blow-drying my hair, realized I had put too much conditioner on and it looked horrendously greasy. My mother hurried me to the kitchen sink to wash it out and we restyled my hair in time. I remember the times I'd return from a date and my mother would still be up, wanting to know how it went. I also remember the times I cried on her shoulder, disappointed and sure that I'd never get married. My mother would repeat after every one of those episodes that it would happen "some day" and to not lose hope. She never failed to make me feel better or dearly loved.

My father was "Mr. Fix-It" and he built a pool in the backyard with the help of a few teenage boys who lived on the street. As soon as Spring arrived, it wouldn't be too long before my brother and I would be begging him to open the pool. Finally the weekend would arrive when he'd peel back the cover and start the cleaning process. Summers were filled with my brother and I swimming around like fish and backyard dinners where my dad made the best barbecue chicken ever. We'd sit outside and slap at the mosquitoes, drinking lemonade and talking about everything and nothing. My father and I liked storms, in particular. Whenever one would roll in, we'd often head outside and sit under the carport, watching the lightening whiten the sky and smelling that great scent of earth being drenched by water. Sometimes we wouldn't say much. We'd just sit and watch God's tremendous sky drama unfold.

I have hundreds of great memories. Once my father moved away and I was facing the inevitability of the house being sold, I realized that my mother had truly made it a home. Although a man's presence is felt in a home, it is typically the woman who makes it a nurturing sanctuary. Her love and generous heart made it a home worth returning to, and one difficult to leave even when I was a young woman who needed to grow up. Home is where you know you can go when the world gives you the cold shoulder. Home is where you go when you're broken into pieces and need to be put back together. Home is where those who love us wait with open arms and open hearts. And now my sense of home has changed.

I remember when my mother was alive, how I'd often call her when I read of some awful occurrence of a mother doing something unspeakable to her children. I would call, commiserate, and then always end by saying this to her, "Mom, I am so glad I have you as a mom. God really blessed me." I was blessed by having two parents who loved me and the more evil I saw in the world, the more I was aware of just how blessed I really was.

So my understanding of "home" has changed from a physical structure to something more metaphysical. The relationships I have with my father, my brother, the rest of my family, my friends, and last but not least, my husband - now occupy a place in my heart that I call "home." The love created from relationship is what I find comfort in, and the memories of the past will always comfort and bring me joy. New memories are in the making. A cousin will be getting married in a week and with her, a new husband and more new relationships. Time moves on.

I've had to work a bit to get the priorities right. At first I didn't want to see my beloved childhood home slip away. But now I can see it has served its purpose and it's time to let it go. The physical will eventually crumble, but my memories are mine for a lifetime. The real "home," is inside of me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Fear of Telling the Truth

As a high school student in the late seventies, I started to notice a trend that was disconcerting. Classes were even given on the subject and examples started to creep through society. The topic? Situational ethics. I distinctly remember an exercise during a class I took at a public school when I was ten years old. I called it "The Lifeboat Dilemma."

A group of fifth-graders were told to imagine themselves in a lifeboat. In the lifeboat were other people, such as an elderly person, a person who was disabled, and a person who was sickly. A few other passengers were healthy. The lifeboat, however, could only hold so many people and one person had to be thrown overboard. Who would we choose to throw overboard? (I am not making this up.) I remember it clearly because I was horrified and slightly traumatized by the thought of deliberately having to choose to place someone in harm's way, which would most likely lead to their death. The discussion over who to throw overboard was conducted calmly and methodically by the teacher who reminded us to think of "the greater whole," as though that made it any easier.

I knew it was wrong to deliberately throw anyone overboard and was upset by the exercise. Now I can see this was simply one more way to convince children that rationalization was acceptable if a group accepted it as society's "greater good." Later I learned about the Holocaust and how mentally ill and disabled patients were euthanized for that very reason. Because their worth was only determined by what they contributed to society, it was reasoned they wouldn't be missed.

Our faith instructs us differently when it comes to worth. We believe we were created by a loving God who cherishes us. In fact, He cherished us so much that He was willing to enter into our society, appearing as a humble carpenter from a middle-class family. They weren't beggars, but neither were they rich. When Jesus walked this earth, He interacted with a wide variety of people - from the highly-regarded religious class to the rejected prostitutes. He treated every one of them with respect and dignity. It wasn't what they did that He focused upon. It was who they were. In His eyes, all His followers were His brothers and sisters. (Matt. 12:49-50)

Jesus had a way of telling the truth. In fact, He said He was the truth - which is a pretty amazing statement no matter which century you're living in. The Pharisees and Sadducees, who were the religious muckety-mucks of the day, weren't too keen on this kid from Nazareth out-debating them on religious matters. And they certainly didn't care for Him telling the truth about what His Father expected from His children. Because when truth is spoken, two things happen: 1) those in power have their lies exposed and 2) people are set free. For those who are invested in keeping the status quo (and as such, retaining power and control), there is only one response to truth-tellers. Silence them.

I remember being a twentysomething Christian, eager to love people and be peaceful. I mistakenly thought that meant often keeping my beliefs to myself because I didn't want to be seen as "forcing" my views upon anyone and besides, I wanted to keep peace. I didn't realize that in essence, I was being silenced.

It is a risky thing to tell the truth, perhaps even more so today. If you are bold enough to voice your faith, especially a faith based on the Bible, it won't take long to witness mild annoyance from others and even outright hatred. We are living in an age where it is acceptable to be truthful about your beliefs for everything under the sun except Christianity. You can be truthful about being a Wiccan, a pagan, a Communist, or a radical Marxist feminist. But be truthful about being a Christian and watch the fireworks explode.

I remember working at a local Starbuck's and having a conversation with a younger co-worker. He was an intense guy, handsome with his dark hair and deep-blue eyes often blazing according to his outbursts. During a slow period, he was ranting about a group who had bowed their heads at a table in prayer. According to him, they had no business "shoving their beliefs down his throat." I confronted his viewpoint. How, I asked, was a simple show of prayer forcing beliefs down his throat? I'll never forget the raw look of hatred he leveled at me. He was someone I liked and got along with, but at that moment, I could understand why some Christians backed away from such discussions.

I emphasized that I wasn't looking for an argument, I was genuinely interested in his viewpoint. He again repeated his main complaint, that doing such a thing publicly was "forcing beliefs" upon others. I asked if he had a problem with Muslims kneeling on a prayer rug out in the open according to their regimented schedule of prayer? He backed up and then admitted that he had dated a Christian girl who in his mind, tried to convince him to go to church. He refused and ever since, had been overly sensitive to any public expression of faith. I then discussed with him the issue of our freedom of speech and religion. I didn't push it, but hoped I gave him something to think about as I calmly reasoned with him.

I've come a long way in this area. When I was a young child, the last thing I wanted to do was to upset people. I became quite adept at forecasting my audience's reaction and would adjust my sails accordingly. Of course I wanted to be liked, as often is the case for young people. Confrontation was not something I looked for, let alone initiated. Now I am almost the opposite. Now I look at telling the truth as a battle and without engagement, a battle that will be lost for future generations.

In our society, those who have a different viewpoint than the current administration is being told to shut up. They are being told that their opinions are "hateful" or "racist." Those who boldly speak their mind in opposition are being harassed and castigated on a level I've never before witnessed. And because of such attacks, fear has the opportunity to muzzle truth.

Back to my classroom exercise as a ten year old. Situational ethics raises the question of truth. It goes like this: I can believe what I believe because it is "my" truth. You can believe "your" truth. Somehow, we're all supposed to happily sing kumbaya together. But what if your truth conflicts with my truth? What then, is truth?

Christianity is hated by many because it believes in absolute truth. And this is what bothers those who insist upon situational ethics. Because it's easy to switch scenarios and justify beliefs and actions predicated upon one's preferences. Our worldview evolves. What we preferred when we were twenty usually changes drastically by the time we're fifty. We grow. We learn. We change.

Absolute truth, though, does not change. It is not the puppet of preferences or desires. It is the rock-solid foundation of what is right and wrong. It is what frees a society to peacefully co-exist with one another, in spite of differences. Truth is what keeps the megalomaniacs from destroying the world.

The fear of telling the truth is getting ratcheted up by those in power because they know what will happen when people know the truth. There will be repercussions, consequences. Some may lose their jobs. But what will happen if truth is silenced? I challenge anyone who thinks limits on free speech a good idea to study history. In every instance of dictatorship, the path toward enslavement was silencing those who opposed them and ridding society of those who told the truth.

Let not our voices be silent but instead clearly proclaim the truth more than ever. Our freedom, as Christians, and as a society - depend upon it more than ever.

Food, Glorious Food! Chicken Fajita Recipe #food #recipes #sgp

Being half-Italian has its advantages. One is growing up with a bunch of Italian women who argued constantly during church spaghetti dinners whether the sauce was good enough or not. Of course it fell short of "their" sauce. I laughed when my grandmother slowly took a bite of a meatball at one church dinner, and declared it substandard. Although her words were more like, "Uh. Too tough. Overcooked." And she'd shake her head to the side with a wrinkled nose as though being served skunk as the main dish.

I learned to appreciate the joy of making a meal while watching my Italian mother, her mother, her grandmother, her sister and cousins buzz about my great-grandmother's kitchen like dedicated bees around a hive. Few things were measured. A whole lotta spoon action went on as my great-grandmother would taste the sauce and then perhaps sprinkle something in the pot, and wait some more. Then the final taste from the spoon, a curt nod of approval, and dinner would be served. It was from them I gained a mysterious sense of understanding about cooking food that couldn't quite be put into words. But it was the food that bonded us and brought us a sense of pride that we were able to provide for one of our most basic instincts - the need to eat. The big kitchen that hustled and bustled with activity during the holidays is now one of my most cherished memories of growing up with first-generation Italian-American women.

It took me awhile to take to my cooking heritage. I was single for many years and as anyone who enjoys cooking knows, it isn't very fun to cook for one. Still, I soldiered on with a few daring attempts. Once while living in Charlotte, I decided to buy an Indian cookbook. One of my favorite dishes is Sag Paneer, a creamy spiced spinach curry with fried cubes of cheese. I was determined to make it myself. I spent an entire Sunday making the cheese, refrigerating it, and then gently removing it from the cheesecloth and cutting it into little cubes for the frying pan. In addition to the spinach, I made Rice Pea Pilaf and a potato dish. Seven hours later, I was exhausted but victorious. I had made a delicious, authentic Indian meal and my little cottage reeked of onions. Such is the life of a cook adventurer.

When I finally married at the age of 39, I was thrilled by the realization that finally, I'd have someone to cook for, not just me. I surprised my family by baking homemade breads, which I'd carefully wrap and bring with me on my visits back home. I could tell that my mother was slightly relieved that she didn't raise a kitchen lightweight and would proudly tell me that my grandmother really enjoyed the bread, as did she and my father. My brother joked around by saying he didn't know I could cook. Very funny. It certainly wasn't him lollygagging about in my great-grandmother's kitchen all those years.

When my mother passed away, one of the first things I did was raid her cookbook treasure trove. They are still like secret riches for me to this day. I gave her a decorative recipe file that for years, she'd stuff recipe cards from friends and family and cut-out recipes from the paper. The little file bulged until it finally tore and had to be held together by a large red rubber-band. Eventually, my father found a short little box to put everything in. That box now has a proud position in my own kitchen. My mother would gather recipes from all types of places. One of my favorite stories is how she got the recipe for her grandmother's sauce. She followed the tiny woman around the kitchen and each time my great-grandmother would throw something in her hand, my mother would say "Stop!" and then measure what was in her hand with tablespoons and teaspoons. My great-grandmother would use eggshells, cans, and her hands as her tools of measurement. Thank God my mother realized I would need something a little more precise.

I also found several thin recipe books from food manufacturers, such as Campbell's and Hershey's. If there was a collection of recipes to be had for only a few "proofs of purchase" and a couple bucks, my mom was there. She treated recipes as though they were a treasure hunt, and often she was right. The few that passed muster would find themselves in a rotating schedule of delectable offerings during the week or holidays.

So, I suppose it isn't surprising that I've taken after her by hunting for my own treasures except this time I have a great little helper called the Internet. I just told my husband last night that if my mom was still alive, she'd get a kick out of some of the sites I've visited and I have no doubt that if she had been in better health, she'd be testing the recipes on her own. There are so many great recipe sites, but I admit my ultimate "go to" site is Not only do they have delicious recipes, but the reviews really make it worthwhile. You can also find recipes according to what you're making and how you want to make it - for instance: say you want to make a chicken dish for dinner. You can find the recipes under chicken, but then also according to cooking style such as recipes for baked chicken, grilled, boiled, fried, etc. etc.

Lately, I've been on the hunt for a good recipe for Chicken Fajitas. My husband and I love T.G.I.F.'s Sizzling Chicken Fajitas that I find in the frozen food section at the grocery store, but at $8 a bag, I know I can do better by making my own. However, I haven't been able to get the seasonings right. So last night I tested a recipe from AllRecipes for a Chicken Fajita Marinade. I remembered my last attempt to make fajitas had the chicken tasting a little bitter. There is a slight sweetness to the T.G.I.F.'s version I couldn't quite place. When I looked at the recipe below, I was happy to see a little brown sugar was included.

The marinade turned out wonderfully! I did alter the recipe slightly since I didn't have all the ingredients. Instead of using beer, I decided to try ginger ale. (I figured hey, it was tangy and bubbly...kind of like beer!) I also only had lemon juice on hand instead of lime (and it was short of 1/3 cup by about two tablespoons, but it worked.) Finally, my husband doesn't care for cilantro (but I love it) so I decided to use oregano based on another reviewer's suggestion.

I used two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen), thawed and cut into slices. The chicken was marinated for 2 1/2 hours. I heated a grill pan on medium-high and grilled the chicken for about 9 minutes. I then removed the chicken from the pan and added sliced red onions and half a bag of frozen red/yellow/green peppers from Trader Joe's. I poured the marinade over the vegetables and grilled on high heat for about 4 minutes, and then turned the heat to medium-high and continued for 2 more minutes, I then added the chicken to the mix to heat for one minute, then removed the mixture to a bowl. I heated 5 soft flour tortillas and wrapped the mixture in them, added some cheddar cheese and voila - chicken fajitas! They were delish!

Bon Appetit!

Chicken Fajita Marinade


1/4 cup beer
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt to taste


To prepare the marinade, stir together beer, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cilantro, cumin, and salt; mix well.

To use marinade, pour into a resealable plastic bag, add up to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast, and mix until chicken is well coated. Marinate for 1 to 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Serving: 6

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Godlessness and the Joy of the Lord #Catholic #tcot #sgp

Over the past few weeks, I've been noticing more outrageous and appalling mayhem from our youth - everything from outright rudeness to strangers to the current trend of "flash mobs" where youth join together as a huge crowd and then enter malls en masse for the specific purpose of intimidation and violence.

Just a few days ago, I realized the reason a certain artist had not been seen in my Twitter feed was because she checked herself into a clinic after having a mental breakdown. Her self-destructive tendencies reached its zenith when she destroyed her studio; including works that had already been purchased, and effectively wiped out everything that would help her continue to make a living. However, she felt hopeful afterward, feeling as though she had been given a second chance. I suppose that depends on what she does with the second chance.

I look at these two developments with the same perspective that has become even more clearer during the past year. And the same phrase keeps playing in my mind:

This is what life looks like without God.

As I knelt in adoration during the consecration of the Holy Eucharist on Easter Sunday, I was greatly moved by the love God had for this world - so much so that He was able to sacrifice His only Son so that we would have salvation. Salvation can easily become one of those words that loses its potency as we use it over and over again without really pondering the meaning. Salvation means saving - but saving from what? Or perhaps whom?

We needed saving. Mankind needed saving. And what was the alternative? It is the alternative that many have chosen - a life without God. Open up your newspaper or your laptop to see today's headlines and most of the more troubling ones can be summed up with this sentence: This is what happens when God is not your priority, your moral compass, your anchor, your life. This is what happens when you spit in the eye of some "crazy" idea of a Higher Power.

There is such hopelessness to a life without God, as the image of this artist haunts me as I sleep. The same can be said of errant youth who are deliberately cruel and destructive, gleefully wreaking violence on unsuspecting passers-by who just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

During Easter Sunday, the thought that came through to my soul and reverberated throughout my entire being was this: We are worth this much. God believes we are worth dying for, worth sacrificing His Son for, worth coming back for - worth saving. We are worth it. I don't "feel" worth it at times. In fact, I often feel shameful, knowing my pettiness (at best) or downright hatred (at worst) is not the kind of behavior God wants from me. But He knew this about me. He knew I was going to be ungrateful, unloving, unkind - "un" a whole bunch of things quite often in my life but yet He loved me enough to save me and keep saving me.

That knowledge can just rock you inside and out when you really ponder it.

I know there are tons of social programs for those troublesome youth. And there are clinics galore for depressed artists. But what all of them need is to first, get to a confessional, pour out all the blackness that is inside of them to a patiently listening priest, and then start going to church on a regular basis. This war we have with the flesh is not won by going to church once or twice a year. It is a battle that rages on daily and our weapon is the blood of Jesus Christ, that already has been shed for us so that we might live - that we would truly live, not as shells full of hopelessness and destruction - but as worthy human beings filled with the joy of the Lord.

Filled with this joy, we become channels of God's love to the world as He continues to call out to each one of us to abandon our futile attempts to live a life that makes any sense or brings satisfaction. Because those of us who know Him, know that there can be neither without Him.

Contrary to the lies of the enemy, God does not come into our lives bringing handcuffs. Instead, He has come with a very accurate sword of truth that cuts the ropes that bind us. The ropes we ourselves have chosen to keep us in the dark. Praise be to our heavenly Father for His light! No matter how intense society gets, no matter how much civility may break down or evil seems to conquer - we who are His know the truth. We are free - and no prison cell could ever hope to contain us the way a Godless existence can.

Rejoice this day if you live in Christ! There is no other freedom available! Alleluia!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jewish Former NY Mayor Ed Koch - Enough With the Attacks on the Pope #Catholic

A surprising voice in defending the Pope has emerged. The ex-Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, recently expressed frustration at what he sees as a vicious attack on religion:

Koch, a Conservative Jew, says he disagrees with the Catholic Church (and Orthodox Judaism) on abortion, homosexuality, divorce, contraception and more, but nevertheless says that the Church has a right to hold to these beliefs and much of the attack on it today stems from opposition to those teachings.

“Many of those in the media who are pounding on the Church and the pope today clearly do it with delight, and some with malice,” writes Koch. “The reason, I believe, for the constant assaults is that there are many in the media, and some Catholics as well as many in the public, who object to and are incensed by positions the Church holds, including opposition to all abortions, opposition to gay sex and same-sex marriage, retention of celibacy rules for priests, exclusion of women from the clergy, opposition to birth control measures involving condoms and prescription drugs and opposition to civil divorce.”

Koch added: “I disagree with the Church on all of these positions. Nevertheless, it has a right to hold these views in accordance with its religious beliefs. … Orthodox Jews, like the Roman Catholic Church, can demand absolute obedience to religious rules. Those declining to adhere are free to leave.”

Well, what do you know. The ex-Mayor is right. Progressives hate the Catholic Church and any orthodox religion with a passion because it refuses to pander to their beliefs. Unfortunately, there are some Catholics who believe that the Church should become more "modern" by embracing relativism rather than the Bible.

I love the final words of the article. Koch ended by saying:
“Enough is enough. Yes, terrible acts were committed by members of the Catholic clergy. The Church has paid billions to victims in the US and will pay millions, perhaps billions, more to other such victims around the world. It is trying desperately to atone for its past by its admissions and changes in procedures for dealing with pedophile priests. I will close with a paraphrase of the words of Jesus as set forth in John 8:7: He [or she] that is without sin among you, let him [or her] cast the next stone.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ignorant Women March Topless, 'Enraged' When Men Ogle #tcot #sgp

This has to be one of the more stupidest stories I've read for awhile. A group of Portland women marched topless to protest society's "double standard" when it comes to partial nudity. Seems they're ticked off that men can run around topless without fanfare but everyone makes a big deal when women do the same.

Honestly. Sometimes I wonder how women can be so dense.

I almost don't know where to begin with this story. There are so many erroneous presumptions that it's difficult to believe these are intelligent women protesting what obviously, eludes them. Unfortunately, in my state, we do have a statute that does not consider breasts "private parts." I discovered this in a roundabout way when I was browsing a brochure of an annual festival. This festival (which I have not attended nor would I), had a portion of the first page devoted to alerting festival-goers to "chill out" because "they were 'just boobs.'" I was appalled. The notice continued by saying that it was legal for women to be topless and to please not stare or make lewd comments to women when they were partially nude. Gosh. Who would ever think men would do something like that?

Here's the problem I have with it. First, it isn't an issue of a woman being afforded the same "freedom" as a man. Topless men are not objectified in American culture and if a small group of dense women think they can suddenly change society's perspective on this - after all of the "skin" magazines, the pornography, the rated R movies, the "girlie bars" with topless waitresses, etc., etc. - then they deserve all the ridicule they get.

Secondly, like it or not, these parts of a woman's body have been designed for two purposes: 1) as a way to prepare a woman for sexual intercourse and 2) as a channel to bring life and nourishment to a newborn baby. Sorry if this is too graphic or bold for the topless women, but there you have it. Despite all of the teasing that occurs in the media regarding "moobies" or male breasts, the sexual and primal connotation will never, ever be given to them.

In fact, if anything, the breasts of a man versus the breasts of a woman are prime examples of how women and men indeed are different from each other. I know this is difficult for the topless women crowd to understand because they consistently try to to pound a square peg into a round hole. It isn't the same nor will it ever be. Men can go topless and people usually don't care. (Unless you're being served food from him in which case, ew. Who wants a man's half-nude, hairy torso hanging over a plate of linguini?) But a topless woman has and always will elicit quite a different reaction.

I am sure there are plenty of men who understand perfectly well what I'm saying. And many men are all too willing to say, "Sure, why not? Go for the partial nudity!" But as a woman who knows that God has called the female gender to be so much more, and so much more dignified, I am protesting myself at this ridiculous inverse objectification of women. The fact that such public demonstrations are led by women make it all the more pathetic.

Here is their convoluted logic - and I have to admit I enjoy pointing it out:
  1. Women who work within the "skin industry" (exotic dancing, pornography) are "oppressed and objectified by men." This is bad.
  2. Women who decide to trot down a street and take off their tops are liberated. And woe to the man who oogles them. This is good.

So these women believe that just because it's their choice, that men should not react the way normal men react? Oy,veh.

Many of the women engaged in this craziness are lesbians, in which case they couldn't care less what a man thinks. But it does make me wonder. On one hand, these types don't want to used by men. But yet think nothing of cheapening their own worth by exposing themselves.

I suppose some will do anything for a little bit of attention. And in the end, that's the message I get from these stunts. A desperate cry for attention and validation. Very, very sad.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter! And Why Catholicism Excels at this Day Like No Other #Catholic #tcot #sgp

It's been one year today since I was able to return fully to the Church. I remember how I anticipated the day when I was able to partake of receiving the Eucharist, never realizing that our heavenly Father was preparing my mind, heart, and spirit. It was a powerful day when I was able to finally walk up to the Communion rail, kneel, and receive our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It was quite a journey for me, considering that when I left the Catholic Church as a young woman, I never imagined wanting to return. Everything is still fresh to me, as though I'm seeing things clearly after being asleep for a long time. I keep getting surprised over and over again.

During the years I was away from the Catholic Church and attending non-denominational churches, I attended Easter services and yes, felt somewhat joyful, but it was a subdued joy. Sort of like the feeling you had as a kid when you discovered your Christmas present early and then had to fake the joy of opening that gift on Christmas morning. You knew what you were getting, so the excitement was slightly muffled as a result.

But Catholicism does the whole Easter season right. It's glorious! When I first experienced the Lenten season in 2008, I was still a little in shock that I was back in the Church. In 2009, I was more consumed with receiving the Eucharist. But this year, I was able to take in all the various stages and absorb the beautiful truth of each one.

Lent is a time where the Church enters a somber period. The extra prayers, the fasting, the removal of the "Gloria," the lack of elaborate music - all are intended to get us to a place of deep reflection of what our Lord and Savior was about to do for the entire world. It is a serious time and everything the Catholic Church does emphasizes that seriousness.

Passion Week at my parish, Holy Family, started with all of the statues being covered with purple cloth. No flowers were around the altar. It started off the week on a very somber note. Tenebrae was especially powerful. The sanctuary was lit by a triangle of candles and they were extinguished one by one as portions of Scripture were read, focusing on the prophecies regarding the Messiah suffering and the sacrifice of Christ. The service ended with a loud clapping of wooden rods, people stomped their feet on the floor and slammed the hymnals shut loudly. It symbolized the thunder and lightening when Christ died on the Cross and how nature responded with an uproar.

The lone candle shined brightly as we pondered Jesus Christ as the light of the world and to reassure us resurrection was coming. The sanctuary lights came on halfway as we silently walked out of the service into the night. It was a magnificent way to symbolically remind us of the grief that our Lord's disciples and Mary went through as they realized their beloved Lord and Son was dead.

And now, today.

Today I hope the sun is shining for you, because even if it's not, it hopefully is shining in your heart. Today is the day the Lord made, and He is risen! Now after weeks of abstaining, praying, attending special services to remind me of what this season is all about - now is the day to celebrate! And I feel such a joy in my heart - a true joy that hasn't been muffled by anything else because within the Catholic Church, each week has been a preparation for this day!

Although technically I "knew" what I was getting today, the traditions and rituals of the Church really have made me feel that this knowledge is brand new all over again.

Happy Easter to you! May you rejoice in your Lord and Savior, knowing that death has been overcome and He has risen! Embrace Him in spirit, for it will not be long until we embrace Him in fullness, with eternal life as our reward. Amen and amen!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Please Pray for the Pope

The attacks upon our Holy Father and the Church have become especially vicious this week, of all weeks. The world hates Christ but it seems as though the hatred is being ratcheted up during Holy Week. Please keep the Pope and our shepherds in your prayers.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..