Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black Catholics More Engaged in Church than White Catholics, Survey Says

From the National Catholic Reporter:

African-American Catholics are much more engaged in their church on a variety of levels than are white Catholics, concludes the first National Black Catholic Survey.

Whether in a majority black church, a mixed or mostly white parish, the survey found African-American Catholics feel satisfied and fulfilled in their parishes, explained retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., who is president of the National Black Catholic Congress.

By "engaged," Bishop Ricard explained, the authors of the report mean African-Americans are involved in their parishes well beyond simply attending Mass somewhat regularly. That includes having strong networks of friends and family in their churches, participating in multiple parish activities and saying their spiritual, emotional and social needs are met there.

Bishop Ricard, who is rector of the Washington seminary of his religious order, the Josephites, said the results of the survey surprised and pleased him and the leaders of the National Black Catholic Congress who commissioned it, along with the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Church Life and the office of the school's president. The survey will be used as the basis of a pastoral plan for evangelization that will be presented during next July's National Black Catholic Congress in Indianapolis.

"This is a bright spot for the church," said Bishop Ricard in an interview Nov. 28 at St. Joseph's Seminary. Whatever their parish situation, a majority of African-American participants in the attitudinal survey conducted by Knowledge Networks, "feel affirmed and have decided they are going to stay Catholic," he said. "It's a very optimistic message."
Among the conclusions of the survey were that black Catholics feel more committed to their parishes emotionally, spiritually and socially than do white Catholics. In those respects, as in many other aspects of the survey, black Catholics were shown to be much more like black Protestants in their approach to church than they are like white Catholics.

"Compared with other religious and racial groups, African-American Catholics behave and look like African-American Protestants," said the executive summary written by study authors Darren W. Davis, a professor of political science and associate vice president for research at Notre Dame, and Donald B. Pope-Davis, professor of psychology and vice president and associate provost Notre Dame.

Still, "African-American Protestants are clearly more highly involved by every measure of engagement," they continued. Therefore, they said, the pattern "is taken as suggestive of a cultural effect, as opposed to a Catholic effect, whereby the historical and cultural norms of the African-American community weigh just as heavily on African-American Catholics as on African-American Protestants."
 Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Be My Guest: "Christmas Lists" by Marc Koellhoffer

Yes, Christmas is still over a month away. Most stores already have up at least some decorations, well before Thanksgiving! This got me thinking of how some of us wrote Christmas wish lists as kids, full of the gifts we wanted. I guess this was okay, after all, we were only kids! But how many of us pray with lists? We go to God and say “oh, I need this, and oh, I really need that...” The truth is, God already knows what we need, and we need to trust that if it is His will, He will deliver it unto us! Our worldly desires often will not match with His heavenly intentions, though, or His timing may not match ours, so continue to have faith and trust in Him.
Here’s a challenge for this season: try to pray at least a few times without asking for anything at all for yourself. Instead, go before the Lord in prayer with only praise for Him and rejoice for what He has already done in your life, and thanks for what He has yet to do. If you do ask for something, how about asking that someone who is not saved come to know and accept the Lord? What better gift could someone possibly receive?

1 Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people... that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.)

Marc has guest blogged here in the past.  Fingers crossed that this talented Engligh teacher, faithful Christian, loving dog owner and bad- and by bad, I mean Michael Jackson "bad", not Joe Jackson bad- pool player, will find time to start his own blog. For the time being, you can check out his occasional posts along with fellow members and ministers of Christ Fellowship Church (Elizabeth, NJ) share their faith here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why Marriages Can't Be 50/50

This article from Black and Married With Kids really rings true to me.
Four Reasons A 50/50 Relationship Isn’t Possible Marriage by Franchesca Lane-Warren (

When I got married five years ago, I was under the impression that because I was now a married women that me and my husband would do everything equally. You know, if I cooked dinner one night he would cook the next night. If I happened to clean up the closet one week, the next week he would do the same. To make matters worse, my mother-in-law’s favorite song, “When Someone Loves You,” constantly played in her house. I was being brainwashed about what to expect in a marriage.

I got married in a glorious wedding ceremony and we had the perfect honeymoon, but as the days, weeks, and months started to pass by I started to get pissed off. Where was all of this 50/50 love I had heard so much about? There were some days were everything was 50/50, but there were some days were it was 60/40 or 70/30! (GASP!)

Were we doing something wrong? Did this mean we would not “make it”? Nope, I was about to get “schooled” on why a 50/50 relationship is a thing of the past.

Tired of feeling like I was doing everything, I decided to approach this topic as diplomatic as possible. One night (fed up) I screamed during an argument, “I do everything around this house!” In his ever-calm way he replied, “Everything in our marriage can’t be equal. Sometimes I will do more than you and sometimes you will do more than me.” Still salty about cleaning the house more than him, I gave him the side eye to make sure he understood that I was serious and we cleaned up together but this comment made me think. Could a marriage survive if everything wasn’t 50/50? I was about to find out how this 50/50 model was not in our cards because I decided to go to graduate school. In the two years I was in this program, I became the slacker around the house. I couldn’t clean like I wanted to and he picked up my slack. I couldn’t cook like I wanted to and he cooked for the whole family. There were times I had to miss school events for our son because I was preparing my thesis and he went. Were tables turning? Was I going to have eat those words I had screamed a couple of years prior? Of course I had to and with that I developed four reasons why I do not buy into a totally 50/50 love.

1. A 50/50 relationship implies that you are keeping score of every deed you do. Everything I did in the marriage I expected him to reciprocate in some way. So if I cleaned out the kitchen one morning, I expected him to do the same. This created a “you owe me” attitude (by yours truly), which eventually translated as me being angry. There were times when he would come home from working 12 hours; would I really expect him to cook dinner because I did the night before? Absolutely not. Or what about days when he cleaned out my truck; would he expect me to clean out his? Heck, no. We just understand that we do as much as we can for each other without a record of doing. A relationship is not about keeping tabs; it’s about helping your partner in areas they are weak in.
 Read the whole post here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Another Porn Post (Made You Look, Made You Look!)

Porn- it can lead to erectile dysfunction. Which leads to guys looking forlornly into the distance while wearing white underclothes.  

When I did a post on one of the possible side effects of porn some weeks ago, I received a few emails and messages agreeing that pornography could definitely be a problem and thanking me for discussing it. However, they didn't want to do so publicly. Incidentally, they are all guys.

I also noticed a slight uptick in the number of hits, too- much like porn, posts about porn is something people want to gawk at, but not openly discuss.

So, I guess I'll get some more Looky-loos with this one, and I totally understand the reason you'll avoid the combox.

I wanted to share a couple more stories on the subject. First, one from Gizmodo that my husband passed on to me after the first posting:

"... Too much web porn! It's killing our libidos, lads, one frantically one-handed mouse click at a time.
So says a report from the University of Padua in Italy anyway, which purportedly discovered that randy gents with a penchant for hardcore sex on the Net were more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction when preparing to perform the real deal themselves.

The study focused on late teens and men in their 20's, and the crux of its findings was that the ever-increasing and diversifying selection of online porn and porn experiences has actually led to a numbing of men's pleasure receptacles, specifically to the response of dopamine (the "reward" neurochemical).

By hammering on the reward button so often and with such a wide range of experiences, Internet porn effectively subdues or eliminates the physiological sense of reward that sex so wonderfully provides.
Ergo, when she's lying there naked waiting for you, you realize that the whole situation feels a bit numb, you get subconsciously scared, and then things stop working. Awkward!

Worse still, the study apparently found that "quitting" web porn created a whole host of withdrawal symptoms. Insomnia, flu-like symptoms—all of which, in my opinion, pale in comparison to the actual ED that sets it all off."

 See picture caption above, only with Black models.

The second article is from the latest issue of The Christian Research Journal. I definitely recommend this periodical, by the way. "The Effects of Porn on the Male Brain" by William M. Struthers, begins with this powerful opening:

"In a 2010 interview with Playboy Magazine, Grammy Award-winning musician John Mayer garnered a great deal of attention for his thoughts on former girlfriends (including Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson), racist comments, and altogether boorish behavior. 

What went under the radar, however, we're some revealing comments about his experiences with pornography. In a startling series of quotes, he gave his impressions about how the availability and access to porn may be affecting our expectations of sexuality and sexual intimacy. 

'Pornography? It's a new synaptic pathway. You wake up in the morning, open a thumbnail page, and it leads to a Pandora's Box of visuals. There have probably been days when I saw 300 [women] before I got out of bed... Internet pornography has absolutely changed my generation's expectations... You're looking for the one photo out of 100 you swear is going to be the one you finish to, and you still don't finish. Twenty seconds ago you thought that photo was the hottest thing you ever saw, but you throw it back... How does that not affect the psychology of having a relationship with somebody? It's got to.'" 

Struthers continues the piece by going into great detail about the science- neurotransmitters, testosterone, dopamine, endogenous opiates- behind the attraction to porn. His closing of the article says it all: "Sexual intimacy is a complex neuroxchemical, hormonal, and spiritual event. It is one of the most powerful God-given means by which human beings form attachments.... There is no such thing as "just looking at porn". There can be no doubt that it affects us neurologically in long lasting ways...."

Techie geek writer, Dr. Struthers and even John Mayer know it. Watching porn can lead to some serious problems in your relationship and how you view people. Is it really worth it?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why the World is Wrong About Marriage

Great piece from the Resurgence by Jen Smidt:

Flipping through a popular women’s magazine recently, I came across an article on marriage.
Since I am married and regularly teach on marriage, I was interested in what advice today’s culture would bestow upon me. I was not surprised and more than a little disturbed. While I did not expect that biblically sound wisdom would flow from the glossy pages, I did hope for something more than a completely self-absorbed, wicked plan for marital bliss.

"Good Advice"

I found myself immediately refuting each point with truth from Scripture–realizing that God, much more so than culture, has graciously shaped and redeemed my understanding of his purpose for marriage. The article claimed that couples stay in love by taking chances. The 3 suggested risks were:
  1. Call a time-out. Apparently, the happiest couples spend much of their time apart. 
  2. Have another man in your life. The article claimed that friendships with men allow you to “experience that rush of newness.”
  3. Satisfy yourself. Enough said.
Good advice is just that…a suggestion that may or may not work. In the case of this advice, I’d call it downright dangerous. Spending large chunks of time away from your husband, flirting with other men, and seeking selfish pleasures are invitations to disaster.
God calls us to a vision and purpose for marriage that is radically different than how the world views this union.

Good News

Let me call you to something different than what this magazine offers: Good News. Here's the revised version of the above list grounded in the good news of the gospel:
  1. Call a time-out with God. "I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me" (Proverbs 8:17). As both a daily habit and in the midst of conflict, the happiest couples have regular time with God. They pray, seek, study and listen for the wisdom that comes from above. They look for ways to build oneness, not distance.
  2. Have another man in your life…his name is Jesus. "The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant" (Psalm 25:14). Friendship with Jesus is the only possibility for a life reconciled to God and a marriage that reflects his covenant made with us: I will never leave you or forsake you.
  3. Deny yourself. Over and over and over. Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). The greatest threat to your marriage is you. Seeking to satisfy yourself first is a surefire marital destruction plan. Dying to self is rooted in living in Christ. He alone makes self-sacrifice possible and pleasurable in marriage.
God calls us to a vision and purpose for marriage that is radically different than how the world views this union. May we be married couples that reject the world’s shallow and selfish advice for marriage and embrace God’s glorious call to selfless, Jesus-filled marriages.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cain Is Able, But Gen Y Might Not Be

The second leading story of the past week after all things Kardashian was the claims of sexual harassment against Republican Presidential nominee Herman Cain. From USA Today:

"Joel Bennett, a lawyer for one of Herman Cain's accusers, says there was a "series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances" by Cain that led his client to file a sexual harassment claim.

Bennett issued a statement on behalf of his client, who does not wish to be identified or speak publicly.
Cain, who is leading polls for the GOP presidential nomination, has repeatedly said he was "falsely accused" of sexual harassment when he led the National Restaurant Association from 1996-1999.

In an impromptu news conference, Bennett told reporters the incidents occurred over "a month or two" but declined to say what specifically took place. He said "it qualified as sexual harassment in our opinion."
"Beyond what's in this statement she has decided not to relive the specifics of the incidents so I cannot give any further details," said. "She has made a decision that she does not want to do that."

Asked about the other two women referred to this week in news stories about Cain's alleged behavior, Bennett said: "Where there's smoke, there's fire ... more likely than not, there was some sexual harassment activity."...

The allegations of misconduct don't seem to be making an impact with GOP voters.

Seven in 10 Republicans in a new ABC News/Washington Post survey say the allegations don't matter when it comes to picking a presidential candidate. A majority of GOP and GOP-leaning voters, or 55%, say the allegations are not a "serious matter."

Read the rest here. Over the past week, I've been asked by no less than three people how I feel about Cain. Okay, so three isn't that many. But considering I've only been out of the house once in the past week, that's pretty impressive. Anyway, I don't know how I feel about him. He kind of reminds me of a deacon from a storefront church in Jersey City or Irvington (woot woot, big up Jersey!) I met at some Women's Day Service back in the day. Notice I said deacon and not elder or pastor.

I do know I'll most likely pay MORE in taxes under his "9-9-9" plan than I do now, and I already pay a lot so that makes it a major "womp womp" to me. I actually think the whole "9-9-9" thing sounds like a leftover from his Godfather's Pizza days. Like, "get your choice of 9 different toppings on 9 different crusts for only $9!"

The highlighted portion reveals that Cain seems to have staying power- despite reported shortcomings- something Bachmann and Perry don't have at this point. When it comes to the support of  the Millennial Generation, President Obama is lacking as well. From NPR: 

It felt like 2008 all over again in Philadelphia this week. A DJ played a song by the Black Eyed Peas to warm up a crowd of about 500 students from local colleges. President Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, exhorted the crowd at the University of Pennsylvania to volunteer, to apply for internships and, of course, to vote.

"There's 8 million registered voters who are 18 to 21 who weren't old enough to vote last time, who are going to cast their first vote, and they're going to do it for Barack Obama," Messina said. "Raise your hand if you're 18 to 21!"

President Obama needs a lot of help from this demographic if he's going to win a second term. In 2008, millennials — born between 1981 and 1993 — voted for Obama by a ratio of 2 to 1. They gave time, money and a sense of excitement to the campaign. And they came out to vote in record numbers.That's the largest margin of victory within any age group since 1972, according to the Pew Research Center.

Alec Tyson, a research associate at the Pew Research Center, calls himself a card-carrying millennial.
Tyson — who was born in 1983 — helped prepare a Pew report called "Generational Politics." He says millennials are more ethnically diverse than other age groups. They're more likely than older voters to hold liberal views on social issues, and to express support for an activist government. Millennials still give the president a higher job approval rating than do other groups, at 49 percent. But Tyson says they're not as enamored of Obama as they used to be.

"Shortly after Obama took office, millennials expressed very positive emotions towards Obama," Tyson says. "They felt inspired or hopeful by him. Two years later, there's a sign that they've become, to use their own word, disappointed."

Read the rest here. Election Day 2011 is tomorrow, but Election Day 2012 is right around the corner.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If You Came Here From Wintery Knight...

... then welcome! I'm so glad you clicked the link. I hope you enjoy your visit and come back often. If you'd like to know a little more about this blog, then you can go to the Not-So Frequently Asked Questions. They are a bit dated now since I wrote them in 2009, but you'll get somewhat of an idea on things.

You can read on Christianity or Christ, or Religion. I also cover a lot of lighter fare, too, in Pop Culture and Music.

And of course, there is the Moi section. I talk about what I think I know best, me, lol. Friends, family, personal struggle. My neurological problems. Wrestling with doubt. The times I've been a b****. Yup, I lay it out there. So I hope you like what you read, and I definitely encourage compliments... uh, er, comments. And if you want to write a guest post (or two, I'm looking at you, Mary!), email me at

An Obligatory Kim Kardashian Post

As even those living under a rock now know, Kim and Kris have split. The interwebs are all a twitter. Twitter is now all a twitter.

So much has been said and written, and then wriiten about what has been said, that I don't have much to add. Not much. Just a little.

First, whether she made a windfall for tying the knot on E! contributes to my head shake, but is not the cause of it. After all, she is paid nicely for opening up her life to the world anyway. We've learned, with heavy doses of editing, about her sadness over the leaked sex tape, her annoyance with big sis Kourtney's baby daddy, and even how she battles cellulite. Her life is an open book. No, that's not right. It's an open Life & Style Weekly.

Second, whether she donates money and/or her wedding gifts to charity is none of my business. I didn't attend or buy the newlysplits a thing, so it doesn't bother me one way or the other.

Finally, what does bother me is the way marriage has once again, taken a beating at the manicured hands of a celebrity. Kris- Kim's mommy, not her soon-to-be ex- made the morning "news" show rounds a couple of hours ago (who am I kidding, there's a three hour time difference on the West Coast, so she's probably blabbing away about the divorce and her new book right now for those in the Central Zone)- kept repeating that her daughter is not the first to get a divorce or will she be the last. This is true. There have been thousands of filings across the country in the two days since Ms.K filed hers, but they'll remain in the shadows of this glittery split.

This doesn't change the fact that divorce is not what God intends for matrimony. Sadly, an increasing number of people have seen this flippancy regarding marriage as evidence that it has nothing to do with God whatsoever. In Good's "Marriage Isn't Sacred", Cord Jefferson opines: "In retrospect, the Kim-Kris union appears to have been less a consecration of love and more an elaborate moneymaking scheme, a lucrative sideshow pawned off to suckers as true love. Now that it's all officially over, let's let Kardashian's loss serve as a lesson gained: Marriage isn't sacred.

...  In 2004, when Britney Spears married her friend, Jason Allen Alexander, for 55 hours, her record label later released a statement claiming that the whole thing had been "a joke." Neither Spears nor her momentary husband were persecuted or prosecuted for treating a wedding, something that's supposed to be sanctified, like some sort of carnival ride. 

... Marriage is a tax shelter and a smart way for a couple to combine assets. Love is the thing that's sacrosanct..." 

I agree that love, in it's truest form, is holy. After all, God is Love. But his argument empties marriage, which isn't just a contract for tax purposes, but a covenant, of not just sacredness, but tragically,of even a lasting purpose. Love, on the other hand, is extolled as holy, yet he offers up no definition of what love actually is. So no one should knock Kim then, when she claims she married for love. Because, then, she was only acting on holiness, right?

 I know that aq growing number of people in my generation aren't feeling the whole marriage thing (except for Bridezillas and many Gay folks), but some are and have allowed us a peek into their lives. If you haven't done so, please check out my series "Two Become One" to see their stories. And if you'd like to contribute, email me at

iDef: We Bit the Apple

For the past month, it's been return of the Mac around the DeFreitas home. My Compu-tech hubby is still "officially" a PC guy, but I know deep down, there is a battle raging, and Jobs is beating the pants off Gates in an epic, mental e-war.

I know this is true by his reaction when we stopped in to the Apple Store last month. His eyes were ablaze by the glow of the gadgets, laid out on clean-lined, maple tables.

The decor, sparsely modern. His face, hardly able to hide the fascination. And I stood by his side, the Eve who had lured him to this tree of temptation, cheesing from ear to ear. I was even more amazed.

Zoe was there, too, strapped in her little baby backpack, little mouth agape, staring at the bright lights in the ceiling. Those, and her Daddy's chin. Of course, there's not too much she can actually see, riding around like that.

Our ilove continues daily. Just this morning, I read about Hermain Cain and Kim Kardashian on my iPad (look, there's like not much else out there to read about today, apparently... charges of sexual harrasment against a presidential candidate and a celebutante's dead marriage... um, media, this is kind of par for the course. 24/7 news coverage on these two stories is totally unnecessary. And boring.). Over the weekend, I listened to Janelle Monae streaming on my iTunes. K is currently reading Steve Jobs' biography. And at naptime yesterday, Zoe was blissfully unaware of being watched by Steve, although many others are.

So, from our home to yours, enjoy the following ifun, and have a golden delicious day!

Check out this totally hilarious blog, Watched by Steve, which is weird. And creepy. But mostly hilarious.

Read "Steve, Myself And i: The Big Story of a Little Prefix" on NPR which discusses that all important and spellcheck-red squiggly line causing, lower case "i".


Or pull up a chair at the Brainiac Bar next to Lisa at the Mapple Store at the Springfield Mall. 

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K and Z enjoying the Christmas tree.

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