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Archive for November, 2009

Adults--I have your readymade excuse: oh, I keep them around because I have nieces and nephews that visit.

Are you a parent of young kids?  Do you have children on your gift list?  Have you lurched through your own childhood without experiencing the joy of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder?  If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then today’s Tis the season…books! post is for you.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, if you did not know, wrote an autobiographical series of children’s books recounting her childhood in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas and Missouri.  You’ve no doubt heard of them because there was a moderately successful** television series based on them.   Perhaps you may have a built-in bias against them, based on the old adage “familiarity breeds contempt” and if that is the case, I beg you to forget what you think you know and consider these books afresh.

I remember reading them as a youngster myself, starting with Little House in the Big Woods, and loving them well before the tv series started.   All my friends did.  We got them from the library and I remember we had to swap them because there weren’t enough copies for us to read simultaneously.  I admit that I re-read these a couple years ago when my son was reading them.  What a pleasant re-read they were, too.

I decided to recommend them after I chanced across this Catholic Exchange article which puts into context some of the politics behind Laura Ingalls Wilder’s publication of the books.  Did you know or suspect that they were anti-New Deal?  I didn’t but I can certainly see how they could be viewed that way.  These books are about hardworking men and women, self-sufficient, industrious, family-centered, faithful, independent.  Values that most parents want to pass on to their kids.  Plus, the stories are really charming.  If you don’t have kids that you can give these to, or if the kids live outside of your house (thereby denying you the ability to sneak in your own reading), then get yourself a copy! 

I also recommend that you buy the books as a set because keeping the titles straight and in order is just too darn difficult.

** hehe

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More down-to-earth scripture reflections from Mark Shea on Catholic Exchange:

November 27th, 2009 by Mark Shea

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Sometimes when we can’t be courageous out of faith, we can still be courageous out of obedience.  The next time you face fear and the urge to back away from what is right, speak to it as you would a tempter and say, “My Lord has commanded me to be strong and of good courage.  Buzz off in the name of Jesus Christ.  I have things I need to get done.”  God will be with you.

I love it!

Courage!

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Awhile back I posted about the fate of 3 children who came into existence through artificial means.  IVF and other infertility treatments which take conception out of the realm of nature and move it into the laboratory are resulting in multiple moral and ethical nightmares.  Take this story, from the Chicago Tribune.

In-vitro fertilization made it possible for Adriana and Robert Potter to welcome twins Anabella and Matteus into the world. For the same reasons many couples can’t conceive, IVF was their only option if they wanted children of their own.

But with that choice came another: what to do with two other embryos created in the same petri dish but never placed in the womb. On that dilemma, the Potters have agreed to disagree for now.

If the Elmhurst couple decides they don’t want more children, Adriana Potter believes donating the embryos to advance reproductive technology or treat debilitating diseases would be the most life-affirming choice.

“Think about it. The only way we got this far with IVF is because there was research in the past,” she said. “There were sacrifices to help families like us have kids. … When it comes to promoting the creation of new life, you have modern medicine and the choice to use it for good, to fulfill dreams.”

There were sacrifices to help families like us have kids…” — This is from the mom, to whom I would answer:  Human sacrifice hardly seems to be a foundation upon which to build your family.  Unless you are a Mayan chieftain in the year 1500.

Robert Potter imagines having more children to fulfill God’s mandate to be fruitful and multiply. But if they decide to have no more, he favors donating the embryos for another couple to do the same. Viable embryos should not be taken for granted, he said.

“It’s not just a moral (issue). It’s a waste,” he said. “Why would you waste an opportunity if it’s a good one?”

As thousands of frozen embryos continue to accumulate and pressure mounts to decide their fates, doctors say more families must weigh the promise and perils of adoption and research.

I’m not sure that the dad fully understands the issue if he thinks this isn’t about morality but overall, his statement is right:  human life should not be wasted.

The freedom to make that decision without condemnation is one of the many factors Adriana finds appealing about the Methodist church, where the couple will baptize their children right before Christmas. Raised Roman Catholic in Brazil, Adriana began to drift after a heart-wrenching divorce.

She cannot imagine her offspring raised by another family without any control over their upbringing. By devoting them to research, she as their mother would have the final say about their greater purpose in life.

But Robert doesn’t trust that every embryo fulfills a greater purpose. He can’t imagine sentencing two potential children to short lives that would end in a laboratory.

The Rev. Norma Lee Barnhart, pastor of Elmhurst First Methodist Church, encourages the couple to have conversations with God and with each other.

The Methodist church endorses stem cell research, though it doesn’t dictate that’s what a couple should choose. Citing First Corinthians 13:12a letter the apostle Paul wrote 2,000 years ago describing the process of maturing in one’s faith, she prescribes time and patience.

“In our faith those decisions are made by the person with God’s help and with the help of the church community,” she said.

Okay, so the mother of the Solomon’s wisdom story, this woman ain’t.  If you remember the story to which I am referring, King Solomon settles a dispute between two mothers by ordering that the baby be cut in half and given to the two arguing women.  In fear, one mother cries out that instead of killing the child, Solomon should give it to the other mother.  The second mother says, yeah, go ahead and kill it, thus proving who the real mother is.   A real mother would wish for her child to live, even if that meant with someone else raising it, rather than see him or her die.  A fake, selfish, jealous and vengeful mother only cares about her own interests.  Adriana Potter:  grab your Bible (or borrow your husband’s) and read 1 Kings 13 and then…go take a good hard look in the mirror.

My take on this is that the Mrs. Potter has a very tenuous relationship not only with the Church but with Christ’s authority.  She left the Church over her divorce (presumably because she couldn’t submit to the Church teaching) and joined a Methodist church not so much because of her husband’s beliefs but because the Methodists have abandoned Scripture for modernism and simply do not care about Biblical teachings on divorce.  She wants the children she wants and those she choses not to raise, she wants them destroyed rather than blessing some other family.

Do I sound harsh?  I am sorry, I probably am being too harsh, but something in this article really sticks in my craw.   Something like this:

Fertility Centers of Illinois now stores about 20,000 embryos from about 4,550 patients.

Perhaps it is the fact that there are THOUSANDS of little babies in each of HUNDREDS of these puppy mills fertility clinics just staying on ice until they are destroyed purposely or killed in laboratory experiments.  Each of these little babies–a million souls?–cost so much in money, time, effort and hope.  Every single one of these babies was created–their parents would say–because of the love their parents felt for them.  Love.   When the parents meet up with them at the gates of Heaven, they can try explaining how much love they felt for them that they gave them over to science to be experimented on alive and dead.

Our mother Church is so wise.  We need to heed to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit who is guiding the Church.   We are leading ourselves astray.  We are bringing horrors upon ourselves.  In our need, we are creating…destruction.  How’s that for irony?

Embryos’ fate: A fertile debate — chicagotribune.com

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h/t = Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Get Religion

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..and for you emergents: this.

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Yes, that's right boys and girls! It's ANGEL TIME!!!

I have a son who flies through books.  I can’t keep him stocked with them.  He really likes fantasy novels and he likes thrillers.  So what more natural fit than a supernatural thriller?  Even better, it is a Christian book written by an acclaimed author, a fallen away Catholic turned atheist who has returned to the Church

The book I’m excited about is Anne Rice‘s Angel Time in the Songs of Seraphim series.   Catholic Exchange reviewed it and the monk/librarian/CE reviewer Br. Benet Exton wrote this about it:

This reviewer has never read any of Anne Rice’s Vampire stories, but he has read her more recent fictional books on Christ and her memoir about her life and her conversion. He has seen two of the movies based on her vampire stories, Interview with a Vampire starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt and The Queen of the Damned. Rice’s new book is the total opposite of the vampire stories.

Since her conversion, Rice began writing about Christ, and now about angels. These “angels” are not like the ones imagined by New Age followers. She has studied what Christianity teaches about angels. She has consulted the works of St. Thomas Aquinas and Fr. Pascal Parente’s book The Angels to write about them. According to Christian teaching, angels are disembodied spirits. Each is his own distinct species of angel. There are also various classes of angels or heavenly persons which are mentioned in the Scriptures. St. Paul lists nine classes, or ranks (also called choirs). Only three angels called “archangels” are named in scripture: St. Gabriel, St. Michael, and St. Raphael. There are good angels and there are bad angels. The bad angels are led by Lucifer, otherwise known as the devil or Satan, and by other names.

According to Christian teaching we humans do not become angels when we die. We become disembodied souls that will have a human body again at the Resurrection.

Anne Rice’s new book is very entertaining, and contains a conversion story of its own. An assassin, Toby O’Dare, has an experience that changes his life so much that he is willing to do anything for God. He wants to make up for all the wrong he has done. That God forgives even assassins is something most of us accept with great difficulty. We humans may think that a notorious sinner is beyond forgiveness, but God does not work that way. This fictional story of Toby and an angel, Malchiah, permits Rice to present a number of teaching moments in the story, if one is alert to them. They are correct according to Christian teachings and the Scriptures, and undoubtedly reflect on Rice’s own life and her conversion (especially clear to this reviewer after reading her memoir). Although, Rice of course was not a notorious sinner her character O’Dare was.

Anne Rice researches the historical background for her books and she has done well with this one too. Since O’Dare tells God and the angel that he is willing to do anything to make up for his sins, Malchiah sends him back in time to correct a situation in 13th century England involving Catholics and Jews. One will have to read the book to find out what happens, suffice it to say that the book keeps the reader enthralled — as many reportedly were by her vampire stories, so she is now doing with her angel stories. This book is a first in a series she plans to write while works continues on her fictional series on the life of Christ. Anne Rice must be doing well with these Christian fictional books since some are bashing her for them. This new book is highly recommended to those who want to read good Christian fiction and about angels.

So if fiction is your game, I am recommending you put this on your Christmas list.  It was on my shopping list, but it’s in the “checked off” column now.

Oh, as if it could get better, this is the first in a series so if my son gets hooked, I have a whole line of books I can go back to every gift occasion.  Score 1 for mom!

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Tonight I took my son to see Family Force 5’s Christmas Pageant.  Omigosh, did we have fun!  I am not sure that any band performing today is as much fun to watch as FF5.   There is absolutely no way you can NOT dance at one of their concerts.  Or smile.  Heck, I can’t keep from jumping up and down for an hour straight.   Anyway, the pageant was great: nice stage, great music, fantastic energy and a bit of worship thrown in.  Each of the guys wore a button shirt, a black wool vest, ties and top hats:  they looked straight out of A Christmas Carol.  They blew snow from the stage and had different costumed characters coming on and off stage.  They played at least 6 Christmas songs from their new Christmas album, including the best rendition of My Favorite Things that I have ever heard.   They also played Earthquake and Love Addict and uh…something else that I can’t remember.    It was awesome! Their encore was the Charlie Brown song Christmas Time is Here, done FF5 style.  Yeah yeah, I know:  “they’ve lost the Crunk and it’s too hip hop!”  I hear you and I understand but they still have the best concert show around.  In concert, they are still crunkalicious

I love Remedy Drive, as some of you might know already from this and this.  But in a small venue, their sound was pretty lousy.  I don’t know why exactly but my guess is that it was a mixer issue because all the other bands sounded great, but I couldn’t hear RD’s keyboard or the lead guitar, which with the loudness sorta made them sound like one big cacophony.   It’s too bad because at Lifelight, RD completely ruled!  They still had the usual energy.

House of Heroes and All Left Out were also good. 

The concert was at this mega-church outside of Grand Rapids that was bigger than most liberal arts campuses.  My son said, “This is a church?”.    All I know is I’ve been in hospitals that were smaller than this building.  Wowza.  I’m not sure that a church needs a cafe, bookstore and cantina, but this one did.  It also had several bathrooms, one of which had more bathroom stalls than the women’s rooms at The Joe.  That’s alot of toilets.  I’m jes sayin’….

Overall, we had a fantastic time.  It was my son’s first concert and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. 

This site has several videos of the bands and also the mp3s of the Pageant album.  Enjoy!

(I can’t tell you how much I wanted to title this post “Ugly People Put Your Hands Down” but since few would get it…. /sigh)

Updated:  DrivebyMedia has pictures from the show!

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From the talent of Igniter Media, comes this video of thanksgiving:

 

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