Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Chastity is curable if caught early."

John Belushi would be proud.  (Photo: Sioux City Journal)

So goes the tag line for eduHookups, a website devoted to helping college co-eds meet to get together for sex, sans all that relationship stuff promised by national sites like or eHarmony. From MSNBC:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"You're HUGE" & Other Dumb Things Not to Say or Do to a Pregnant Woman

 (Photo: Flickr)

God bless 'em, the jerks who have thought it all in good fun to poke at my ever expanding belly, the same ones who question every bit of food and drink I consume. Even the one who commented on my larger bust line (and this came from a guy... a guy who is NOT my husband). God bless these folks, because I don't want to.

But, I will. I will bless them with some sage advice on how not to address or behave towards an expectant mom, speaking as a sage expectant mom.

  • "You're HUGE!", "You are getting so big!" "Wow, your stomach has really popped out" or any other variant of the bulging belly bump kind. I believe most people are genuinely just amazed at the gestation process when they let exclamations like this slip. The thing is, not too many women, even if they are awaiting a bundle of joy, enjoy being repeatedly told how much weight they've gained. Think about it. We ladies try all kinds of fad diets, hit the treadmill, and wear clothing to try to disguise so much as a two pound gain. Suddenly, we've gained, let's say, twenty, and no amount of scarves or drapey tunics can hide that. We now have to face up to the fact... we're fat. And that's hard. So give us a break. If you MUST make a comment, try referring to the growing baby instead of the growing belly.

  • "That better not be coffee!", "You know there is caffeine in tea" or "That juice is too full of sugar for you and baby!" These comments come from genuine concern, but being a drink monitor to a grown woman is demeaning. I've been cautioned against the evils of coffee, only to inform the person the hot creamy brown liquid I was sipping was cocoa. Most women have heard such warnings already, so if they choose to drink, they most likely are doing so knowing the risk. Now, if you see a momma to be gulping down Captain Morgan's, THAT would be a time to speak up. Similarly, that brings me to my next point. Do not say

  • "You're not eating that are you?", "That snack is full of sodium!", or "More pickles?" Do not cause us preggos to develop eating disorders by constantly commenting on the foods we choose to indulge in. Yes, we should be eating lots and lots and lots of fruits and veggies and getting our calcium through glasses of skim milk. But sometimes we just to eat lots and lots of oreos and get some calcium through a big bowl of Hagen Daaz. Now, I know you're probably thinking, "That's no good for you!" Too much of it, no, definitely not. But an occasional splurge is not the end of the world. But let's say your pregnant friend or sister has diabetes or is overweight... okay, you can speak up, but again, not in a condescending tone or manner. Gently encourage her to choose some lowfat , sugar-free yogurt, and then go a step further and eat it with her. If you really want to support her, you best not condemn while your chowing down on the Carvel.

  • "Your back must be hurting!" or "I know you're feeling exhausted." Don't assume to know how another person is feeling. You might have been miserable (or fantastic!) throughout your pregnancy, but that doesn't mean your co-worker is. Everyone is different, and every pregnancy is different. If you'd like to know how she's feeling, just ask. And for anyone wondering, I'm doing pretty darn well. For reasons unbeknown to my doctors (or me), I'm actually feeling better most days now than before I was pregnant, even on the medication. My doctors have hypothesized it might be the extra vitamins or the flow of hormones (my money is on this). For whatever reason, I'm thankful that my sinuses aren't inflamed, my back isn't aching and while I do feel the extra weight slowing me a bit, I'm not feeling extra pain because of it. Thank God!

  • "You are having a boy since you are carrying out!" or "That has to be a little girl as round as you are!" For us few ladies who opt not to learn our child's sex until birth, there is a constant barrage of declarations as to our babies' sex. I've mainly received, "It's a boy" comments, with a sprinkling of girl pronouncements. While I might be good natured fun to want to guess, these comments usually are tied to opinions on a woman's bulging bump... so more weight and appearance talk. I also find some of it offensive. "Girls take away all their mothers beauty." Think about that... so not only are you passing on a sexist belief, but you're also saying a woman is now... ugly. Augh. 

  • "Your naming him what???" Okay, so your cousin has just told you she is christening Junior with a name so instantly detestable that you know this poor kid has years of bullying ahead at school. And that's just from the teachers. What do you do? Try asking why she's chosen the name. Maybe it has a very special meaning or is her father-in-law's name. Try to find out details before you just come right out and say her son will hate her for life and wind up in counseling for having to go through childhood be referred to by that moniker. Even if you still object, remember that if she hasn't asked your opinion, no need to give one. And that many people happily go by their middle names.

  • Proceeding to rub her belly without so much as asking. Or even asking if this isn't a close friend or family member. Don't do this. As I tweeted yesterday, I am not a Buddha. I do not want you to rub my belly. If you do, you are guaranteed to have bad luck. And as my buddy Shaun pointed out, normally, a stranger touching a woman is usually grounds for a call to the police. This is not acceptable behavior. If she offers, rub away. If not, don't be a creeper. 
 My most recent picture, taken by my boss at work. I've got a big belly and big hair!

Got any more tips? Comment away!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Doctor Nun Helps Bodies & Souls

 Dr Anne & a patient (NBC)

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Bell Curve: More on the "Love Wins" Debate

Another hour, another couple of e-stories on Rob's Bell's controversial new book on Hell, "Love Wins". First up, an excerpt of the man of the hour himself on his new book and all the debate surrounding it. From HuffPo:

"I never set out to be controversial.

That's not compelling to me. When someone sets out to be controversial or provocative or shocking as an end in itself, I don't think that's a noble goal. 

That being said, I spend the past several years writing a book called Love Wins which released last week and, from what I'm told, has generated a fair bit of, well, controversy.
So why did I write the book?

First, as a Christian pastor I believe that for many in our culture the Christian story has lost the plot and a number of other stories have been told that have nothing to with who Jesus is and why he came.

I believe that God loves everybody and that Jesus came to give us and show us and invite us into that love so that we can experience it and then share it with others. As Jesus himself said, he didn't come to condemn but to save.

The first people who heard the announcement that God has not given up on the world but sent Jesus to save us from all of the ways we've made a mess of things, they called this "good news."
Who doesn't need good news?

Rob Bell contemplates the coolness of thick, black plastic framed glasses. (Photo: Blog of Teh Voges)

This leads me to another reason why I wrote the book. Over the years I've interacted with a massive number of people who have questions about the Christian faith.

What about heaven and hell? What about people who have never heard of Jesus? Are billions of people who aren't Christians going to burn in torment forever?

How is that good news?
And then the big question, the one that lurks behind all of the others: "What is God like?"

For many these questions are obstacles; barriers to faith. And so I wrote this book to address these questions. Obviously, I haven't spoken the last word on any of these subjects. My book is part of an ongoing discussion people have been having for thousands of years about the things that matter most."

You can read the rest of the story here, but it's not very in-depth. There's no real insight on how this hot debate is effecting him... just some talking points for the book. It's funny how in the comment section, he isn't any winning with anyone- the few orthodox Christians who post there or the "Spaghetti-monster-God" atheists, either. Maybe he should've stuck to the YouTube vids.

I also read a great article about this from Dr. Michael Youssef, who I've been listening to on the radio for years. His take, from One News Now

"As an Anglican pastor, I bear scars from the war with "universalism" inside the Episcopal Church. I also have endured the battering of Bishop John Spong and his effort to "rescue the gospel from fundamentalists." And when I saw Rob Bell's new book Love Wins, I found myself quoting former Yankee great Yogi Berra: "It's like déjà vu all over again."
I'm the kind of person who detests jumping through hoops, playing mental gymnastics and arguing about what the definition of "is" is. That's why I'm not going to challenge the book point by point as wonderful scholars like Dr. Al Mohler have done. Instead, I'll deal with the big picture in the larger, even global, context of this "new suit" placed on an old heresy.

A number of years ago, when some young people representing the sad and lost segment of the church told me how wonderful Rob Bell's videos were, I became curious. Even back then, I felt nauseous when I watched some of these videos. I saw just how troubled this young man Rob Bell is and how he, in his effort to create a name for himself, began to trouble weak believers -- causing so much harm to his soul and theirs.

Dr. Youssef doesn't need to contemplate when he can just cheese. (Photo: One News Now)

Asking questions for the sake of asking questions, not in a desire to find true answers, is indeed troubling. Even then, I felt that Bell's questions were quite similar to those of the serpent in the Garden of Eden: "Did God really say that?" He was more anxious to share his own doubts than to arrive at the truth. I felt that Mr. Bell and his equally confusing mentor, Brian McLaren, are deeply entrenched in the school of Bishop Spong from the Episcopal Church -- but with one major exception: they call themselves evangelicals.

With Love Wins, what Rob Bell managed to do (once he came out of the closet of just-asking-questions-for-asking-questions' sake) is reveal to us that he is a universalist pure and simple. Just like the author of The Shack did before him, he (for the sake of misleading larger numbers) has dressed his brand of universalism in a new suit, bringing it up to date with fashionable clothes that could easily deceive emotionally bound, mindlessly challenged and unsuspecting young Christians.

In many ways, Rob Bell's book puts an end to the nonsense of the "I'm only raising questions" and "We all should be asking questions" gibberish.

By telling us that hell is empty, he finally came clean and revealed his modern-day modification of Bishop Spong's universalism. Sadly, this sleight of hand has and will mislead many young people, for whom I truly grieve.

The pathetic part about this claptrap is that Mr. Bell, in his effort to draw some cheap sympathy for his heretical views (much as Bishop Spong did with his "rescuing" the gospel from fundamentalists), made himself a martyr for his blasphemous view of God and His eternal plan of salvation. As Bell puts it, anyone who disagrees with him is "defaming" him. Those who attack his false teaching are attacking him because he "does not articulate matters of faith as they do."

This is the oldest trick in the book. You grab someone's finger, poke your eye with it, and say, "Ouch!"

His biggest argument wonders how can a "great God" send people to hell. As kids would say: "Duh." God does not send people to hell; people send themselves to hell. God is too respecting of human beings not to give them a choice.

I want to think about this twisted logic.

Heaven is all about Jesus. So, the people who hated Jesus -- rejected Jesus, reviled Jesus -- are going to be forced against their own will by that great God to spend eternity with Jesus? To them, that would be very hell itself..."

Read the rest of his article here. I found this to be more interesting reading because it actually has substance to it. But then, Bell can't exactly give his feelings away when he has a book to sell. By the way, I'm coming to the end of "Velvet Elvis", Bell's book from nearly a decade ago that caused some flak, but nowhere near all of this. I'll share my thoughts on it soon.

Wanna Strip for Jesus? Or is Jesus Your 'Baby Daddy'?

(Photo: Flickriver)

Twice in less than a day, I have been thrown by seeing my Lord's name used in gain- for money and notoriety. In fact, just writing the title above left me sighing. While I have no problem referring to myself as a b****, connecting lap dances and the cross is way too far for me.

But not for everyone. From the NY Daily News:

"Women in Texas aren't pole-dancing for tips.  They're pole-dancing for Jesus.

In a dance studio in the town of Spring, outside of Houston, women are taking on the now-popular fitness trend of stripper aerobics – but instead of moving to a pulsing beat, they're grinding along to Christian music.

"Pole Fitness for Jesus" was the brainchild of Crystal Deans, the owner and class instructor at of Best Shape of Your Life.

Deans, a former "dancer," told MyFox in Houston that she quit the pole-dancing business years ago.

"It's not something I felt very rewarded with … I decided I didn't want to do any more, so I decided to take the part that I liked about that and bring it here," she said.

She said her goal is to teach fellow female churchgoers how to get fit, work their legs and core and to make a connection with God.  The goal is not to teach women to be strippers.

"We do the upbeat contemporary Christian music because people have to bring their church program to get into the class, so we basically are just continuing the whole worship thing here," she said."

To read the whole silly story, click here. My problem with this is not based on prudery. I tell my friends that we should be up to drop it like it's hot for our hubbies (which sometimes shocks them since I was the resident virgin until I married K). I personally don't think a striptease for your husband is bad; in fact, seems like a way to break routine. But stripping for JESUS? Huh? Ms. Deans might have great intentions in trying to get women off the pews and into the gym, especially in light of a recent study which showed the faithful are more prone to wind up overweight in middle age. But combining stripping with Jesus seems like a cheap sales trick to grab attention and money. Judas sold out Christ for 30 piece of silver, but nowadays, a few news stories and camera time is enough for His followers.

Then I stumbled upon the above shirt, in the "Blasphemy" section of One Horse Shy, which at least openly admits to "pandering[ing] to everyone". In what I can only guess is a gross amalgamation of the "Jesus is my boyfriend" movement and the "Jesus is my Homeboy" t-shirt trend that was popular circa 2003-2004 (I know this because I... alas, rocked a pink "Homeboy" tee proudly... leave me alone, I was 22!).

One Horse Shy proudly states in the description of the 100% cotton shirt, available in a range of styles and colors: "There's no such thing as loving Jesus too much, don't let anyone tell you different. Jesus loves you & you love Jesus back, no matter how inappropriate that love may be. Jesus is my babydaddy!" 

Uh yeah, inappropriate does not come close to describing that mess.

Lenten Giving: Help Nancy

Nancy & her son Marques

Looking to donate a little latte money for a good cause? Help Nancy Pont Du Jour, who I've known since elementary school, in her battle against cancer:

"In February 2009, Nancy Point Du Jour was diagnosed with a very rare form of Cancer that causes Neuroendocrine Tumors to form. Some examples of Neuroendocrine tumors are Carcinoid tumors, Islet cell tumors, Medullary thyroid Carcinomas, etc. As a result, she has undergone 2 rounds of chemotherapy that has proven to be effective. However the battle is still not over!

Currently, Nancy has been accepted into a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center located in Manhattan, NY. The good news is that this current chemotherapy regimen is very effective and tolerable. The bad news is she has to travel from Florida to New York at least once a month to receive this treatment.

Nancy is a great friend, and a sister to us all and excellent mom to Marques. Let's take this opportunity to support her in winning her fight against cancer! All of your generous donations, thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated."

 Even if you only have five bucks to spare, every cent counts! To donate, click here.

The Fatty Faithful

 (Photo: Cartoonstock)

From NewsonWellness:

"A new study shows that people who attend religious services on a regular basis are more apt to be overweight.

Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead investigator at Northwestern University School of Medicine found that obesity seems to be more prevalent among mostly Protestant members that are consistent with attendance in church.

There was not enough information on other faith attendees to determine if one religion was different from another. One rationale that Mr. Feinstein suggested was that church social activities may include eating foods that are less than healthy on a regular basis resulting in poor eating habits. Who can turn down all those goodies at the church social?

The study included almost  2,500 men and women. Age, race, sex, education, income and baseline body mass index were evaluated and the results were clear that the religious attendees were more likely to be obese.

However, others studies in the past have suggested that the religious live longer and are less like to be involved with smoking, and drugs."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

For Whom The Bell Tolls: Pastor Gets Axed After Questioning the Existence of Hell

It seems the Rob Bell/ "Love Wins" drama keeps growing larger and larger. This time, it took out a Methodist pastor who posted a message on Facebook in defense of Bell's forthcoming book- and questioning the existence of hell. From MSNBC:

"When Chad Holtz lost his old belief in hell, he also lost his job. 

The pastor of a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls.

Two days later, Holtz was told complaints from church members prompted his dismissal from Marrow's Chapel in Henderson.

"I think justice comes and judgment will happen, but I don't think that means an eternity of torment," Holtz said. "But I can understand why people in my church aren't ready to leave that behind. It's something I'm still grappling with myself."

The debate over Bell's new book "Love Wins" has quickly spread across the evangelical precincts of the Internet, in part because of an eye-catching promotional video posted on YouTube.

Bell, the pastor of the 10,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., lays out the premise of his book while the video cuts away to an artist's hand mixing oil paints and pastels and applying them to a blank canvas.

He describes going to a Christian art show where one of the pieces featured a quote by Mohandas Gandhi. Someone attached a note saying: "Reality check: He's in hell."

"Gandhi's in hell? He is? And someone knows this for sure?" Bell asks in the video.

In the book, Bell criticizes the belief that a select number of Christians will spend eternity in the bliss of heaven while everyone else is tormented forever in hell.

"This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus' message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear," he writes in the book.

For many traditional Christians, though, Bell's new book sounds a lot like the old theological position of universalism — a heresy for many churches, teaching that everyone, regardless of religious belief, will ultimately be saved by God. And that, they argue, dangerously misleads people about the reality of the Christian faith.

"I just felt like on every page he's trying to say 'It's OK,'" said Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler at a forum last week on Bell's book held at the Louisville institution. "And there's a sense in which we desperately want to say that. But the question becomes, on what basis can we say that?"...

About the only thing everyone agrees on is that this is not a new debate in Christianity. It stretches to antiquity, when Christianity was a persecuted sect in the Roman Empire, and the third century theologian Origen developed a theory that contemporary critics charged would mean that everyone, even the devil himself, would ultimately be saved. Church leaders eventually condemned ideas they attributed to Origen, but he has had a lasting influence across the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions...

Making his new belief public is both liberating and a little frightening for Holtz, even though his doubts about traditional doctrines on damnation began long before he heard about Rob Bell's book.
A married Navy veteran with five children, Holtz spent years trying to reconcile his belief that Jesus Christ's death on the cross redeemed the entire world with the idea that millions of people — including millions who had never even heard of Jesus — were suffering forever in hell.

"We do these somersaults to justify the monster god we believe in," he said. "But confronting my own sinfulness, that's when things started to topple for me. Am I really going to be saved just because I believe something, when all these good people in the world aren't?"...

To read the whole story, click here. So what's your opinion? Did you get your hands on a copy of the book and want to weigh in? Do you think Bell has posted one trendy emergent video too many with this promo video? Or do you think hell isn't a guarantee? Opine away.

Faith Through Doubt

So recently I shared I have been experiencing a period of doubt. I have been struggling with trying to stay focused on the Light of Christ while feeling darkness ever encompass me.

Then... my friend Clarissa was in a severe car accident almost two weeks ago. And I have found, at a time I would have been expecting to feel even more lost, that God feels more near.

This past Saturday, while members of my church were participating in some Lenten charity work of feeding the hungry, I drove to St. Barbarians to do some charity work of my own with Clarissa, who had been admitted after developing a fever a few days after the accident. Okay, so while it was charity that drove me, the only work involved navigating the winding, one-way track of road and visitors' lot at the hospital.

Clarissa and I at Chili's, February of last year

Even though Clarissa is only two months older than me, she has always seemed so much more mature. We work together, and while I can often be found schleping into work in jeans and UGGs, she's usually in some chic ballet flats, nice hose and belted, lady-like dress with matching cardigan. She also has been married longer and has an adorable one year old daughter. Anyway, upon walking into her hospital room, I was struck by how baby-faced she looked, with her hair braided back and dressed in those stupid, indiscreet robes given to all patients.

She had just come back from an ultrasound to check on her unborn baby, and she was worried. "The tech didn't even say how the baby is doing. She only had the sound on for a minute, so I wasn't sure if what I heard was the heartbeat. And then she just said 'the doctor will speak to you later about the results'."

I felt worried, too. Sure, the ultrasound tech could have just been following the rules by referring questions to the doc, but what if she was avoiding delivering some seriously bad news? Not sure of what to say, I said in earnest, "I'll pray."

An hour later, I headed out, but saw a sign for the hospital chapel. Hey, they might be a so-so Catholic hospital, but at least they've still got a place to pray. I went into the small, quiet interfaith chapel and found a kneeler in a corner, under a faux-stained glass window. I pulled out my little Anglican Rosary, recently purchased, not yet used. I fumbled in my bag for a peek at the prayer booklet that came with it, and chose the only prayer I know by heart, "The Agnus Dei". After all, what Clarissa needed- we all needed- was God's mercy, His peace.


Later in the evening, my phone vibrated from a text sent by Clarissa. I nervously opened it. It simply said, "Baby is ok eight weeks six days". I breathed out deeply and said aloud, "Thank you, Lord."


It's strange how when I felt I might not have God in my corner, I found myself running from that little dark space to find Him. I wound up in another corner, a literal one, tucked away in a hospital, praying frantically for mercy and peace. Peace.... peace in a place that had taken some from me. Peace..... in a place christened after a saint known for... peace.


Over on Explore Truth, Veron recently posted on the topic of "Doubt", featuring a series of videos by Peter Rollins. The first one on Mother Theresa, really stuck out after this weekend.

Even Mother Theresa had her doubts! But she didn't let it hold her back on her journey, instead, walking by faith, and doing an unmeasurable amount of good at the same time.

Maybe that is the heart of faith... taking those steps when everything appears to be shrouded in dark.

"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Girl, 9, Nearly Dies After Saving 5 Year Old Sister

Aww, this story touched my heart. From MSNBC:

"They were halfway across the road, holding hands as they always did on their way to meet the school bus, when 9-year-old Anaiah Tucker and her 5-year-old sister, Camry, saw the truck bearing down on them. There wasn’t time for both of them to escape. And so, in an act of sisterly love and selfless courage, Anaiah pushed her little sister to safety and took the full impact herself. 

She had just one thought, she said Wednesday; her little sister “was too young to be hit like this, and if she got hit she wouldn’t hardly be alive. She would be probably gone forever.” 

Yet that brave big sister, who lost a leg and nearly her life that day, does not believe that she is a hero. “I feel like one, but I really didn’t deserve to be one,” Anaiah told Ann Curry on TODAY. “I love her so much.”

“It happened so fast, and when it happened I thought my world was just going to ... crash,” the girls’ mother, Andrea Taylor, told Curry in a live interview from Madison, Ga.

As she did every day, Taylor was watching her children cross the road to catch the school bus from their suburban Atlanta neighborhood, when to her horror she saw the accident unfold. Because of Anaiah’s quick action, Camry was safe. But Anaiah herself was near death as her mother raced to her side.

“When I got to her, she wasn’t breathing,” Taylor said. “She didn’t have a pulse or anything, so I was screaming, calling for help and asking anybody just to call the ambulance.”

Within moments, the school bus arrived and the driver began performing CPR on the stricken girl. “I instructed her mom to hold her head while I gave mouth-to-mouth, chest compressions,” driver Loretta Berryman told NBC News in a prerecorded segment. “As she took a breath, my first thing was, ‘Thank God.’ ”

Anaiah spent the next three weeks in the hospital, and still faces a long and arduous recovery. She suffered a broken neck and a damaged spleen; she lost a kidney and broke both of her legs so badly that the left one could not be saved. She was wearing a cervical collar as she appeared on TODAY with her mother and sister."

To read the whole story, click here. This little girl's love, bravery and humility really made my day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trolling for Columbine

 (picture from Homotron)

It happens on nearly every site I visit. I'll read a solid article presenting a case in support of or against something or the other, and right below, in the comment section, they'll be an explosion of ridiculous statements that only have a remote connection to the topic of the article. A story on President Obama's talking points on the air strike in Libya will be followed by comments about how he is really a Muslim, Communist, God-hating Kenyan. A story on the Japanese earthquake/tsunami disaster will bring out comments on kamikazes in World War II. And of course, any story on anything Christian gets bombarded by atheists, Catholic Church haters, inhumane humanists and posts on homophobia.

But why? Why all the trolls?

It can be pretty entertaining to read well-crafted dissenting views in comboxes, even if I do agree with the actual story. Sometimes a reader will pick up on a point I might have missed, or highlight an error in the piece.  Unfortunately, this has become the case less and less. Many comments do not add a thing to the online discussion except poorly constructed verbiage, and many result in a virtual yell fest between readers full of capital letters, exclamation points and now, the overused asterisk, as in "Maybe if you had a *brain*". It's such a shame about that asterisk, too, because I really do like it's shape.

A good example of the trolling can be found after this story on The Root about being a male feminist. One particularly long-winded commenter wrote: "The sad part - look at how many people actually response and converse to this Jerry Springer quality perverse made-up media propaganda article...." Um, is it sad that YOU are one of them? But anyway back to his post: "If you participated in this article and actually read anything other than a few lines, then you are the reason why we do not have quality media because someone at a board meeting is arguing we love these kind of articles and that is why they keep putting it out." Again, wouldn't that include you? "This guy is a homosexual that the Root allowed to publish this illogical ideological nonsense that is nothing more than bashing of heterosexual men." He continues in this same vein, not actually pointing out what, within the actual story he objects to. Instead, he insults fellow readers for... reading the whole thing (presumably, he did not, so as not to be guilty of the same sin he warns others against) and equates being a male feminist with being a gay man. Uh huh. I can't see how the author's self-chastisement for staring at female strangers' bodies on the street makes said author a homosexual.

Over on HuffPo, a story about the Pope staying neutral on Libya brought out comments such as these:

"Ah the love and forgivenes­s of their mangod; it is amazing this rottweiler priest matters at all!"

"Italy gets oil from Libya - why would the Pope speak up?. The Popemobile doesn't run on used cooking oil, like Willie Nelson's bus." 

"The pope couldn't be bothered with this. Besides, he was having his favorite Chinese dinner item, Cream of SumYungGuy and warm BOYsenberry juice." 

That last one was not only crude and tasteless, it was stupid.The strangest thing is, many of the commenters actually think the Pope should stay neutral, but rather than admitting they agree with anything that comes out of his mouth, they would rather make stupid troll comments not related to the story posted.

But we Christians aren't so great under the semi-anonymity of the interwebs, either. In a Christian apologetic forum on CARM in the Jehovah's Witnesses' category, I found this response to a JW from an Evangelical Christian: "...when you JW's come to the end of your days and stand before the Great God and Judge Jesus and have to give an account for your misserable and Satanic lives as to why you JW's did not accept Him as God and Savior then He will toss you JW's into Hell for all eternity to be with your god Satan." Yeah, I'm sure that'll get that Satan-worshiper to come running out of their Kingdom Hall. Over on the Roman Catholic forum I found these comments:

"Catholics literally don't trust scripture. The reason being is that it contradicts the teaching of the romanist organization. They MUST trust only their heretical leaders or be anathema. They have NO choice."

"Catholics just want the blind leaders they follow to be the final authority and no amount of wishing will make it so."

Yes, that kind of rudeness in a discussion on "Sola Scriptura" will get those "Romanists" to Martin Luther it up over to Protestanism!

On Twitter, trolling takes the form of ridiculous and often misogynistic or racist Trending Topics, or #TT in tweet talk. Last week, there was the White People Stink #TT, with comments like "The b**** behind me smells like a f***ing wet asshole,,,ughh #whitepeoplestink".

I find it sad that this type of behavior- from the simply misinformed to the truly nasty- seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, no matter the forum. It seems once a site gets beyond a few thousand hits, it is destined to start seeing the appearance of trolls- and unlike the 1990's hit toys, it isn't cute or funny, just really bad. Then again, those trolls were kind of bad. Here's to hoping today's trolls will get played out, too, and just become a memory in the trash heap of pop culture past.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seventh Day Adventists Fastest Growing Denomination in USA

From USA Today:

"Newly released data show Seventh-day Adventism growing by 2.5% in North America, a rapid clip for this part of the world, where Southern Baptists and mainline denominations, as well as other church groups are declining. Adventists are even growing 75% faster than Mormons (1.4 percent), who prioritize numeric growth.

For observers outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the growth rate in North America is perplexing.

"You've got a denomination that is basically going back to basics ... saying, 'What did God mean by all these rules and regulations and how can we fit in to be what God wants us to be?'," said Daniel Shaw, an expert on Christian missionary outreach at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "That's just totally contrary to anything that's happening in American culture. So I'm saying, 'Whoa! That's very interesting.' And I can't answer it."

... With Saturday worship services and vegetarian lifestyles, Seventh-day Adventism owns a distinctive niche outside the Christian mainstream. But being different is turning out to be more of an asset than a liability.

Since the mid-19th century when the movement sprang up in New Hampshire, Seventh-day Adventism has had an urgent mission to bring the gospel — with a distinctive emphasis on Christ's imminent second coming — to the ends of the earth. Adventists find the essence of their mission in Revelation 14:12, where the end of the age "calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus."

 The church's traditional, global focus is now bearing fruit in new ways. Newly arrived immigrants in the United States often come from parts of Latin America or Africa where Seventh-day Adventism has long-established churches, schools and hospitals.

Immigrants aren't the only ones embracing Seventh-day Adventism. Many in the general public have noticed Adventists tend to be superstars of good health and longevity; research shows they tend to live 10 years longer than the average American. With strong track records for success in health and education, Adventists find they get a hearing among skeptics who share those priorities.

... Some newcomers to Adventism also appreciate the church's clarity about what's expected of Christ's followers. Diana Syth of Kent, Wash. attended many types of Protestant churches for years. But she said she "never got the information I needed to know about what it meant to be a Christian" until she and her husband learned of Seventh-day Adventism from a sibling six years ago."

To read the whole story, click here

Friday, March 18, 2011

New Bible Draws Criticism for Gender-Neutral Language


In the old translation of the world's most popular Bible, John the Evangelist declares: "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar." Make that "brother or sister" in a new translation that includes more gender-neutral language and is drawing criticism from some conservatives who argue the changes can alter the theological message.

The 2011 translation of the New International Version Bible, or NIV, does not change pronouns referring to God, who remains "He" and "the Father." But it does aim to avoid using "he" or "him" as the default reference to an unspecified person. 

The NIV Bible is used by many of the largest Protestant faiths. The translation comes from an independent group of biblical scholars that has been meeting yearly since 1965 to discuss advances in biblical scholarship and changes in English usage.

Before the new translation even hit stores, it drew opposition from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, an organization that believes women should submit to their husbands in the home and only men can hold some leadership roles in the church.

The council decided it would not endorse the new version because the changes alter "the theological direction and meaning of the text," according to a statement. Similar concerns led the Southern Baptist Convention to reject the NIV's previous translation in 2005."

Read the entire story here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This Post is For You Anon!

I don't mind when people disagree with me. It's happened on this blog before. Actually, I think that might be more of an example of proselytizing with a twist of disagreement. Anyway, in real life people disagree with me constantly. My brother Joe and I have made it into a type of sibling sport, recently debating over Japan, nuclear power, sustainability, Baby Z and Charlie Sheen. Considering we, as children, were watching "Nightly News with Tom Brokaw" and reading Time, this is quite normal for us. But one thing I ask for in such squabbles is a certain amount of respect.

A little earlier today, "Anonymous" posted this comment in response to "A man without ethics...": "Before you posted this, you might have checked the source. If you had, you would have found that the Christian Institute simply made up most of the claims it attributed to Savulescu. Did someone say ethics?" Eww, why so snarky? It's already pretty whack that you didn't sign a name, but just doing the e-version of a drive-by does nothing to further your view. Let's say the Christian Institute totally decided to get all libelous on Dr. Savulescu's behind. Why not point out the error of their ways without just saying they fabricated an entire story on him? You pretty much just made your comment unethical (since I obviously am devoid of this value) by not providing any sources yourself. Why not add a couple of links? And why insinuate that I'm unethical for blogging on a story from another source? Ever read a blog before?

Okay, I'll tone down my sarcasm, that's not very nice of me. But, well, God's not done with me yet. Anyway, I decided to check out some of Dr. Savulescu's stuff for myself, since you do have a valid point that we should check with sources. I quickly found this video of a speech he made:

Genetically enhance humanity or face extinction - PART 1 from Ethics of the New Biosciences on Vimeo.

I also found his blog.  And about a trillion hits for him, including some other sites that have picked up on the Christian Institute story. The thing is, Anon, from perusing his blog, and a Guardian story he wrote last month, I'm not seeing anything from the Christian Institute story which seems to be contradictory to what Professor Savulescu has actually said or written himself. In the video, he advocates for genetically enhancing the human race for it's betterment and survival. This seems to be the same line of thinking attributed to his statements in the Christian Institute piece- that through the use of IVF, intellectually inferior people could be weeded out of the human gene pool. So where is the lies? Or the unethical story?

I should say, before I end this post, that I do not believe Professor Savulescu to be a beast, but this type of eugenics theory is extremely beastly. You don't have to agree with me- remember disagreement is fine. But in the future, I'd appreciate a little respect.


"A man without ethics..." a wild beast loosed upon this world" so said Albert Camus. And although this Oxford doctor has the label of "ethicist", his ideas seem quite beastly to me. From The Christian Institute (H/T Catholic & Enjoying It!):

"Human embryos should be screened for their potential intelligence and only the smartest allowed to live, an Oxford University ethicist has argued.

In shocking remarks, Prof Julian Savulescu says embryos that do not pass the intelligence test should be destroyed for the good of society.

The Australian Professor is the Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and claims that it is our “moral obligation” to use IVF to choose the most intelligent embryos.
Prof Savulescu said: “There are other ethical principles which should govern reproduction, such as the public interest.
“Even if an individual might have a stunningly good life as a psychopath, there might be reasons based on the public interest not to bring that individual into existence.

“My own view is that the economic and social benefits of higher cognition are reasons in favour of selection, but secondary to the benefits to the individual.

...  Prof Neil Levy, Deputy Research Director of the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, warned that investing in designer babies would be “an enormous waste of money”.

He added: “Why spend all that money when we could be doing so much with that money to increase the IQs and life spans of babies in sub-Saharan Africa?

“The pay-off in terms of raising quality of life for many people would be much greater than you’d get from concentrating on just a few.”

Sigh, designer babies, indeed. Pretty soon they'll want to screen to get rid of near-sightedness, as Erin commented once. Which is a shame, since I do believe glasses are so cute. 

Z at 20

He he, Z already looks exasperated by Mommy and Daddy, with hand held to forehead. Poor kid doesn't know what's coming!

Going to suck a thumb!

Psst, I have a secret to tell!

Blog Repost: Happy St. Patrick's Day! (So Who Was St. Patrick, Anyway?)

Here's a repost of last year's St. Paddy's Day entry. Enjoy!

I'm a Jersey girl, so my first exposure to St. Patrick's Day was through images of the world famous parade right next door in Manhattan. As I got older, it became a day when my father would happily cook corned beef (my father is all about any holiday that involves delicious meals). By the time I hit college, it unfortunately had spiraled into a day that everyone wears green (I'm actually in green as I write this), becomes "Irish for the day", and then gets wasted. But then, like nearly all holy days, once they become commercialized holidays they usual mutate into a day of excess spending, eating or drinking. (Does anyone know anything about St. Valentine, either? Really?)

Yesterday I was asked about St. Patrick's Day at work since I had marked it on my calendar, and could only stutter out a "Um, he's the patron saint of Ireland. I think he helped feed the hungry during a famine?" Yes, that sentence came out like a question, because, well, I don't know about the guy. So, being the inquisitive girl that I am, I decided to find out about Saint Patrick by looking him up on the EWTN website. Here's what it says:

"The field of St. Patrick's labors was the most remote part of the then known world. The seed he planted in faraway Ireland, which before his time was largely pagan, bore a rich harvest: whole colonies of saints and missionaries were to rise up after him to serve the Irish Church and to carry Christianity to other lands. Whether his birthplace, a village called Bannavem Taberniae, was near Dunbarton-on-the-Clyde, or in Cumberland, or at the mouth of the Severn, or even in Gaul near Boulogne, has never been determined, and indeed the matter is of no great moment. We know of a certainty that Patrick was of Romano-British origin, and born about the year 389. His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon, his grandfather a priest, for at this time no strict law of celibacy had been imposed on the Christian clergy. Patrick's own full name was probably Patricius Magonus Sucatus.

"His brief gives us a few details of his early years. At the age of fifteen he committed some fault—what it was we are not told—which caused him much suffering for the rest of his life. At sixteen, he tells us, he still "knew not the true God." Since he was born into a Christian family, we may take this to mean that he gave little heed to religion or to the priests. That same year Patrick and some others were seized and carried off by sea raiders to become slaves among the inhabitants of Ireland... he tells us him self that "constantly I used to pray in the daytime. Love of God and His fear increased more and more, and my faith grew and my spirit was stirred up, so that in a single day I said as many as a hundred prayers and at night nearly as many, and I used to stay out in the woods and on the mountain. Before the dawn I used to wake up to prayer, in snow and frost and rain, nor was there any such lukewarmness in me as now I feel, because then my spirit was fervent within.

"After six years in captivity, he gained his freedom and returned to his family. "When Patrick was again restored to his kinfolk, they gave him a warm welcome and urged him to stay. But he felt he must leave them. Although there is no certainty as to the order of events which followed, it seems likely that Patrick now spent many years in Gaul....stayed for three years at the monastery of Lerins... and that about fifteen years were passed at the monastery of Auxerre, where he was ordained. Patrick's later prestige and authority indicate that he was prepared for his task with great thoroughness.

"Patrick was consecrated in 432, and departed forthwith for Ireland... in the land of his former captivity..." where he preached Christ in a land ruled by a pagan king counseled by Druid priests. In his "Confession", he wrote "It was not any grace in me, but God who conquereth in me, and He resisted them all, so that I came to the heathen of Ireland to preach the Gospel and to bear insults from unbelievers, to hear the reproach of my going abroad and to endure many persecutions even unto bonds, the while that I was surrendering my liberty as a man of free condition for the profit of others. And if I should be found worthy, I am ready to give even my life for His name's sake unfalteringly and gladly, and there (in Ireland) I desire to spend it until I die, if our Lord should grant it to me."

If you would like to know more about St. Patrick, click here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

They Gave a Millimeter, and Tried to Take a Mile

Back at the hospital named for a saint, but still not feeling much peace, K and I sat nervously for our Second Trimester Screening. The wait wasn't long this time, and we were soon ushered into an ultrasound room. After declaring repeatedly we didn't want to know Z's sex, our ultrasound tech, the charming and funny "CC" got to work.

Within seconds Z appeared on the flatscreen, so much bigger than eight weeks ago, but still full of spunk. Z was wiggling, kicking and happily spreading tiny fingers. K doubled over with joy and laughter. To be honest, I have never seen my husband so ecstatic. He kept grabbing my hand, saying, "Do you see that? Ehhhh... ha!!" Of course I was seeing it. I just was too busy cheesing to actually say much. It's a wonder, an everyday miracle to see a baby in utero, one that is indescribable when that baby is your own, kicking around and playing.  It's like that old Frankie Valli song that my mom sang, and that I'd later sing when Lauryn Hill redid it, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You":

You're just too good to be true,
Can't take my eyes off of you,
You'd be like heaven to touch,
I wanna hold you so much,
At long last love has arrived,
And I thank God I'm alive,
You're just too good to be true,
Can't take my eyes off of you

Pardon the way that I stare,
There's nothing else to compare,
The sight of you leaves me weak,
There are no words left to speak... 

CC showed us long fingers and feet, full lips, a rapidly beating heart. Already strong calves and little arms. Z's brain and stomach. A thumb went into the mouth, and then more wriggles. CC commented on our "beautiful baby" who kept making faces. "Look at that face he's making! With the hand on the forehead, like he's already thinking, 'These are my parents? Sigh'". K and I laughed.

I felt myself relax. This visit was so much better than the first one. And thankfully, we wouldn't have to see "Tina". CC kept going with the jokes, and before we knew it, our glimpse into Z's world was over. "Everything looks awesome! I'm going to just go run and get the doctor, and she's going to do a quick scan to make sure my finding are alright," CC said as she walked out. K was fumbling with his cell, having just snapped a number of pics. "Dr. M." walked in and shook our hands. I couldn't help sizing her up. After Tina, this hospital's staff all get the crooked eye from me. There was a friendly tone in her voice, no hint of the rush evident in Tina's. She positioned herself at the ultrasound and quickly scanned down Z's little body.

After she was finished, she got up and began to speak in a soft, but serious manner. "The baby's kidneys are 4 millimeters dilated. That is one millimeter over what we like to see for this stage in pregnancy." Augh... yeah, my Spidey senses were right. That darn robot from "Lost in Space" would be screaming "Danger! Danger, Alisha De Freitas, Danger!" right about now.

"This is pretty common, occurring in about six to seven percent of all pregnancies. However, it IS a sign of Down's Syndrome." Dr. M looked me in the eye. I think this hospital's biggest fear is of disabled people being born, especially, dum dum DUM... Down's Syndrome. "So, based on your first visit's results, your child's likelihood of having Down's is doubled to...", she flipped through my chart, "... one in 850." I wanted to laugh aloud. One in 850? She's pulling out the ominous face for that? Dr. M continued, "So I'm going to recommend an amnio." I sat up and shook my head "no". I guess my nonverbal answer didn't register, because she continued with an explanation on what an amnio is, before saying, "There is a one in 300 chance for miscarriage, though." Uh huh. Well, I'm not a gambling woman, but hearing the odds for the chance of Down's to the likelihood of miscarriage pretty much cemented my "no" and I said (aloud this time), "No, no thank you, no amnio for me." Yes, I said the word "no" an admittedly inordinate amount of times for one sentence, but I wanted to end the discussion.

Unfortunately, Dr. M wasn't hearing it. She went on to say there are extremes of women, some who must know if their child has Down's and the other extreme, the women so cautious they wouldn't for any reason. Even though I objected to being put into an extreme, I raised my hand. NO AMNIO. She ignored my up-streached palm and continued her entreaty. She wasn't nasty, but firm in her repetition. And I was just as firm in mine. At last, she conceded defeat, and insisted on my return in six weeks, which will be the day before Good Friday. Before leaving she said defeatedly, "Well, without this test, I cannot guarantee 100 percent that your child will not be born with this disease." I cooly answered, "Ma'am, if I were looking for a one hundred percent guarantee, I wouldn't have gotten pregnant."


Dr. M's "100 percent guarantee" comment has stuck with me. I find it bizarre that she believes she could give me one, period. How? Is she God? And even if I took the test, is it even one hundred percent reliable?

Imagine if in life, we required 100% in order to act. I would never have married, since half of marriages end in divorce. Never attended college, with it's sad retention rate, especially among Blacks. I certainly would never drive- the risk for accidents being so great. What in LIFE is hundred percent guaranteed?

There are only a few I can think of- taxes and death. And God's love.


I've been real in saying I've been having my doubts. The crazy thing, this ongoing struggle from the unencouraging staff of St. Barbarians has actually increased my faith. Why? I'm not sure, but perhaps Paul's words in the fifth chapter of Romans is being manifest in my life- that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character will lead to hope.

Gay Families More Accepted than Single Moms

This story caught me by surprise. From MSNBC:

"When Steve Pougnet was sworn in as mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., in 2007, his husband, Christopher Green, was at his side. In Pougnet's arms was his then 2-year-old son, Beckham, while Green held the other twin, Julia. 
It was a moment neither man could have imagined possible when they met 19 years ago. Even then, they knew they someday wanted to have children, but they didn’t know if it would be possible and couldn’t be sure how their family would be viewed if they did.

When the couple eventually found an organization that would link them up with a surrogate, they jumped at the opportunity — and the twins, now age 5, were born soon after.

... Highly visible gay families like Pougnet’s may be changing the way Americans view the world. And a new report by the Pew Research Center seems to bear this out. Its nationally representative survey of 2,691 people found that Americans are more accepting of families led by gay and lesbian parents than of single moms.

The survey found that when it comes to opinions overall on non-traditional families, such as those with gay and lesbian parents, single mothers, and unmarried parents, the country is split three ways: a third of Americans (dubbed Acceptors by Pew) are comfortable with a wide variety of family situations, a third (Rejectors) consider non-traditional arrangements to be damaging to the country’s social fabric, while the final third (Skeptics) are mixed in their views — approving of some arrangements, but not others.

When it comes to families like Pougnet’s, the news is all good. The vast majority of Acceptors and Skeptics believe gay and lesbian families are at least OK — and might even bring something positive to society.
But single mothers are less accepted, the poll found. That’s where Acceptors and Skeptics differ the most, says Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center.
“If you took out the question about single mothers, there would be only two groups: Acceptors and Rejectors,” Taylor says.

While 98 percent of Acceptors think there’s nothing wrong with women raising their children alone, 99 percent of Skeptics and 98 percent of Rejectors believe that’s bad for society. (The survey only asked about single mothers, not single fathers.)

... Experts say the survey results didn't surprise them.

Studies have shown that kids raised by a single parent don’t do quite as well as those from two parent families, says Margaret Crosbie-Burnett, a professor emerita at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. But the effect isn’t huge, she said. Crosbie-Burnett blamed the level of negativity found in the report on the fact that the survey asked about single mothers rather than single parents." 

Read the whole story here

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Flowers for Zoe or Joy in Zion

I've been asked repeatedly nearly every day about Baby Z's sex. When I explain we're waiting to find out, some have asked, "But what do you *really* want?" They seem a bit confounded when I say "Either way, I'll be happy," and that is genuine.

If we are blessed with a little girl, her name will be Zoe Lyne Hope, and this will be her song, "Flowers for Zoe" by Lenny Kravitz. It's very fitting since Keiron picked the name, and he's already had two dreams featuring our smart and beautiful daughter.

If gifted with a little boy, his name will be Zion Immanuel. I fell in love with "Zion" back in high school when Lauryn Hill christened her first born with the Biblical name back in the late 90's. So, if Z is a he, then "To Zion" is dedicated to our little man.

No doubt Z, our heart already, will bring us joy with laughter that will bring music to our ears. <3

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thankful to Be Alive

It turns out my friend Clarissa, who I just mentioned in a previous post, was interviewed about her crash by a local online paper, the South Orange Patch. Here's the story:

"Clarissa Sainvilien woke up bruised and feeling stiff and achy this morning but is not complaining – she’s happy to be alive after her SUV flipped over twice on Wyoming Avenue during an accident on her way home from church Sunday.

“I’m very blessed to be here,” she said. “It was scary. It’s only by the grace of God I’m here.”
South Orange police, fire and rescue squad officials worked the scene on Sunday around 11 a.m., cutting away at her overturned Nissan Pathfinder to free Sainvilien, who was taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

According to the police report, the accident occurred when Sainvilien’s taupe-colored SUV was broadsided by a maroon Dodge Caravan that had pulled out of the stop sign on Tillou Road and onto Wyoming.

The driver of the Grand Caravan was Joan Simari of South Orange, whose 13 and 11 year old children were with her. They were not injured. Simari could not be reached for comment.

Sainvilien, 29, who lives in West Orange and is two months pregnant, was returning home from Our Lady of Sorrows Church when the accident occurred, she said. She didn’t see what happened, she said, she just felt the impact and her car flipping. Then she heard the driver of the other car screaming for help, she said.

“There was a man who was very kind to me -- I didn’t even see his face or get his name, but he held my hand and was coaxing me while I was dangling upside down until they could cut me out of the car,” she said. “I would like to thank him but I don’t know who he is. But he knows who he is. I hope he’ll see this.”
Residents near Wyoming and Tillou who were home Sunday morning heard the crash and came outside.
“I heard that unmistakable sound of metal hitting metal,” said Betsy Stoeber, who lives on the corner. “It was a loud smack. I looked out my window and it took a moment to register what I was seeing – there’s a car upside down.

“I don’t think either of them saw the other coming,” she said. “There was no sound of brakes squealing. It was a very scary sight; the car’s hatch had opened and a baby carriage had fallen out and we were worried there might have been a baby in the car as well.”

Doctors are still monitoring Sainvilien because of her pregnancy, she said, but it appears that everything is all right.

“They said if I was going to be in an accident this is the best time of the pregnancy for that,” she said. “I’m just happy my (15-month-old) daughter wasn’t with me.”

I am so thankful that Clarissa is doing alright. I cried at the sight of the crash pictures, because it's so clear she could've been killed. Please keep her in prayer.

Lent: Day Five of the Journey

Showing off my ash!

Although I observed Lent last year by giving up meat, not attending a liturgical church left me feeling a bit disconnected from other Christians who also practice fasting, prayer and almsgiving at this time of year.

But it's 2011, and things are different. I've been attending an Anglican church since the fall, so I feel more part of a community. Some things I want to share:

  • I got ashes last Wednesday, my first time ever doing so. As the picture above shows, I was really excited, lol. It also left me pondering how brief life is, and the fragility of life in itself.
  • I have given up my personal Facebook page- which seems to be boggling the minds of many "friends". I've received various texts and tweets lamenting my absence (aww, you guys, you miss me???!!!). This is a very good thing since I found myself checking my page a good... um, oh, let's say, twenty times a day. Now, I have been updating my FAR fan page and my work (you know, the job that actually pays, this blog's Google ads aside) page, too, but these visits are pretty short since I use a dummy account to do the admin work and don't have friends. But don't feel sad, I'll return at Easter most likely. Meanwhile, I've found myself having no problem sticking to my devotionals and praying a lot more.
  • My friend Clarissa was in a very serious car accident yesterday on her way home from church. Her SUV even flipped twice and the fire department had to come and cut her out. By the grace of God, she is fine as are the passengers in the other car that hit her. I'm still asking everyone to pray for her as she is really sore and experiencing some pain.
  • Since one of the major tenets of Lent is giving, I'm asking anyone who can to consider donating to the Red Cross to help the victims of Japan's earthquake and tsunami. Even five dollars can help a lot.
  • I read this comment in the combox of "Catholic & Enjoying It" in a post on confession, and it moved me so much, I started crying. I wanted to share it with you. Reader Temporarily Anonymous wrote:
"I once went to confession and I don't remember now exactly what sins I confessed, but one of them was about doubting God's existence, and this priest asked some keen questions and got it out of me that I had been sexually abused by an immediate relative in childhood.

I said I just wanted it all to go away.

He said, "I have something important to tell you. Your wounds are never going to go away."

He paused, and his words plummeted to the base of my stomach. He continued gently, "When Jesus was resurrected, he still had his wounds in his hands, feet, side, head. He has them right now. But the wounds no longer bleed. They no longer hurt him."

"His wounds are part of his glory."

Okay, got anything you want to share? Please do! Tell me how your Lent is going.

At This, I Shrug: A Look at Ayn Rand

When K and I began dating, he shared with me a list of books he wanted to read but never had a chance to since he had been so busy in college and working. One of the books listed was "The Fountainhead", by Ayn Rand. I had only heard of her famous (infamous?) work "Atlas Shrugged" previously, and I was slightly intrigued. Fast forward about six months, and me and K were newlyweds enjoying our first winter together. It was at this point I began reading "The Fountainhead" which I had purchased for him at Christmas but was gathering dust (he still has yet to read it, btw).

I lugged that heavy tome around, nearly causing a few hernias, I'm sure. But I couldn't put it down... it was like reading a 1000 page literary freakshow, with the "heroes" being morally vapid, and many of the "bad guys" behaving with concern and thought for their fellow man. Ayn's world is like looking into a circus fun house mirror and seeing a photo-negative, distorted image... and vowing it is an accurate image of the world.

Ayn Rand.

In the little over two years since I read the book, I've noticed with alarm, the way many Christians have embraced Ayn Rand and her teachings, called Objectivism. They gravitate towards her positive views on capitalism and the power of the individual and self-reliance. Many promote her strong anti-socialist stance. Curiously, however, they ignore the backbone of her theories- that there is no God, one should only love those deemed worthy of receiving it and her great disdain of family and community.

I was doing my usual blog reading and came across a link on Mark Shea's site which led to a story on Rand which included an interview she did with Mike Wallace way back in 1959. Her's part of that interview:

Like the two writers linked to above, I'm at a serious loss as to why any Christians- Protestant and Catholic alike- would embrace this woman as a role model. In a 1964 interview with Playboy Magazine, Rand made these comments:

"The Objectivist [one who follows Rand's teachings of Objectivism] ethics, in essence, hold that man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself."

Yes, that's right. A person's HIGHEST moral purpose is pursuing his OWN happiness, making sure NOT to sacrifice himself. She continued: "It is the concept of original sin that...  I, or any Objectivist, is incapable of accepting or of ever experiencing emotionally." She was asked, "Do you regard as immoral those who find greater fulfillment in the warmth of friendship and family ties?" She responded, frighteningly: "If they place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man's life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite; whereas, if he places his work first, there is no conflict between his work and his enjoyment of human relationships."

Regarding romantic love, she said, "Love is not self-sacrifice, but the most profound assertion of your own needs and values. It is for your own happiness that you need the person you love, and that is the greatest compliment, the greatest tribute you can pay to that person." 

Again, WHY is this woman viewed in such high regard by Christians? Now, I'm not saying Christians only need to look to other Christians for good, solid and workable solutions in economics, government or even for life. But I do reject to holding up a system of belief, Objectivism, which, at it's core,  denies the most vital parts of our faith. According to Rand, even if Jesus were real, His act of self-sacrifice was... immoral!

While Rand wrote wonderful pieces of literature, to push them from the "Fiction" section into real life practice would be a gross distortion of Christ-like love, which should ultimately be our reality. 

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