Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Scandal of Scandals

by Ryan

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe 
in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a 
great millstone hung around his neck and to be 
drowned in the depths of the sea."
– Matthew 18:6

One of the most dreaded images in the New Testament is this teaching by Christ: the one who tempts others to sin will be cast into the sea carrying enough weight to sink to the very bottom. Strangely, the violence displayed here might put us at ease. I mean, surely Christ is talking about the kinds of people who wallow in the depravity of sin, answering eagerly to all of life's temptations, right? He's not talking to me! Well, you know:

• I pray the rosary and other traditional Catholic devotions daily.
• I read scripture and reflect on it's messages daily, and frequent other pious readings.
• I attend Mass every Sunday/Holy Day, and I even go occasionally on weekdays.
• I lead a life that seems markedly different from others around me, because being a Christian has changed me (oh has it now?).
• I'm a regular in the Confessional.
• I'm pretty much more Catholic than the Pope (thanks Gwenny!)

I post this list not to boast; not that any man could boast. I post this list because, despite the life I seem to lead, I am often deserving of the millstone and a toss into the sea. No, I don't bring all the girls to the yard with my public school calves, nor do I invite the guys over for a night of smut. I do something much, much worse.

I make sure that people never want to become Catholic. How do I accomplish this, you ask? Its quite simple, really:

• I get irrationally angry over small matters.
• I make the Catholic Faith seem exclusionary.
• I make the Catholic Faith seem like a prison.
• I make the Catholic Faith seem like an awful lot of rules, just to become someone that rhymes with "grass mole."
• I answer legitimate questions like I'm in a boxing match.
• I answer aggressive questions like Genghis Khan.
• And many, many others...

"You mean you don't want to come over and discuss religion with me? But I'll give you free beer! And sometimes I even do that Mongolian grill thing; that's pretty sweet, right?

So, now that I've revealed how truly bad I am at this whole Catholic thing (yeah, yeah, I know all the good ones say this too!) perhaps a solution, or solutions would be helpful. Here' a few that come to mind, if you happen to be in the same boat.

1. Ask yourself the following: "Would a non-Catholic want to learn more about the faith from being around me?" Ouch, right? And, if not, why? Time to get back in contact with those folks who "must have lost your number" and have an honest conversation. Some of those friends may only be ready for spiritual milk and not the solid food of Christian Truth.

2. Find a spiritual role model: Christ is the obvious choice, but one of the benefits of being a Catholic is recognizing all the saints, living and deceased, whom you may wish to emulate. For me, that guy is the currently respiring Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput. To me, Archbishop Chaput defines "pastoral care" and is the kind of role model that challenges others to a higher level of holiness just by his manner.

Well worth your time is a speech he gave at Houston Baptist University about religious liberty. In the last portion of the video, Chaput does a question and answer session, which really could have been quite ugly- a Catholic bishop fielding questions in an auditorium full of Baptists. When seemingly given an opportunity to stick it to his hosts, the archbishop instead focuses on ways that Catholics could do better, and how we could learn a thing or two from Baptists regarding their welcoming nature and their reverence for scripture. He says all of this without ever betraying his identity as a bishop, and leaves the room to ample applause.

I want to be like Archbishop Chaput when I grow up.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Let's Explore!

by Shannon

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life with Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Cruncher and Daddy went to a national forest this week. Since Ryan's a teacher, he and
Cruncher have had a lot of opportunities to get out and have some fabulous times
together this summer. With Cruncher starting school next month (eek!), he's ripe
with curiosity. We know someone who actually lives in this particular forest (for his job),
so it was a fantastic opportunity to get out and explore.

They saw these fabulous ... sculptures? Almost looks like something from a fantasy film,
LOTR, which I'm sure Ryan loved. 
Too cool.

This is the second little turtle friend Cruncher has made this summer. He looks a little more
daring than
the last guy. 

A real-y big bee...
...and a real four-leaf clover! (Well, not really a clover, but probably stilly pretty lucky.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cruncher Chronicles: New Kicks

by Shannon

Someone's showing off his new shoes, two pair in the rotation for his first year of school.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pope-pourri No. 3

by Ryan

I spent four days on an article that I decided to scrap, so I thought some "pope-pourri" might be useful to freshen things up. (Ba-dum-chhhh...)


I recently bought my friend Isaac a drink the other evening and, as always, had an interesting conversation. Isaac is a new homeowner, and he bought a fixer-upper with plenty of character. Besides the more obvious task of cleaning the place, some repair and maintenance has been performed to get the house in good shape for moving day. The house has two chimneys, and neither has been used for years (the house itself was abandoned for two years previous to their purchase). When a chimney sweep came out to check the place, he discussed the possibility of a certain species of birds that might live in Isaac's chimney. They love to latch onto stone, and old fireplaces are a perfect alternative. Thankfully, no nests or eggs were found — thus, no birds.

What Isaac was told next is enough to make anyone (with a functioning conscience) cringe: If the birds had eggs in the chimney, and one of the eggs were moved, the fine would be fifteen ... thousand ... dollars.

"And yet, abortion is legal," Isaac's singular comment sucked the air out of my lungs.

Welcome to earth in 2012: where human life is regarded as so much trash, but the life of a bird is sacred. Isaac's (currently) inactive blog is full of great, heady reads. I recommend it highly.

Do these eggs have more value than human life?


Since my summer reading days are dwindling down, I have been trying to fit in some extra reading lately:
  • Heaven, The Heart's Deepest Longing By Peter Kreeft. I am only in the introduction thusfar, but I hope to report back on this one soon.
  • Meno by Plato. For those not familiar with the work, it is a typically formatted Platonic dialogue, the subject being "What is virtue?" The reader, Chiquito Crasto (what a name!), provides a fascinating introduction that includes changing philosophical views on virtue, the soul (thought by Socrates to be immortal) and Greek thought in general.
  • The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey and Song by John Zmirak (recipes by Denise Matychowiak). This encyclopedic guide looks at world history, food and drink from a Catholic perspective, and contains many humorous moments from it's primary author John Zmirak: 
We're told that in Ethiopian homes, a hostess traditionally balls up the food for each of her guests and pops it in his mouth. ... How many of us have wished, while serving dinner to various crank friends we've collected like lint balls over the years, that we could interrupt someone's monologue about the Middle East, Vatican II or "the aliens frozen in the cellars of the Vatican" by stuffing their thundering pie holes with a bread roll. ... The next time you find yourself faced with hosting cantankerous cousins, or conspiracy theorists from your charismatic choir, you should announce: "Tonight, we're eating Ethiopian style!'" (pg. 297)
Truly one of the funniest, but more informative, books I have had the pleasure to read. Thanks to Bobby and Gwenny recommending the book! Zmirak is also an occasional columnist for Crisis Magazine.

Count our household among the many that have been adversely affected by Firefox no longer wishing to play nice with OS 10.4 and below. Many of the links I used for reference are now lost to me, and I am slowly piecing back this collection on Safari. One of the blogs that I was overjoyed to remember is by Edward Feser. If you are wishing to tell Edward Feser that Aristotelian-Thomistic is somehow dead and no longer valid, well, you are probably looking to get schooled. Skeptics read his website at their peril. His most recent topic? Teleology, or the idea that final causes exist in nature. He has also written several books, including Aquinas, which purports to be a primer on Aquinas, and The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism


Cruncher preparing some corn for grilling.
Oude Geuze Boon: nice and dry, but a little too acidic.
Dinner on July 4th, including grilled corn, homemade potato wedges 
and chicken brats.
Found at a toy store in Columbus, Indiana. 
Everyone looks so happy to be in the Coliseum! Yay!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Catching Up

by Shannon

It's been some time since we last posted, and we've been thoroughly busy. I'm going to sum up the past week in pictures and captions, and maybe Ryan will get a sword post in soon.

While I'm at it, there should be plenty of pretty, happy, funny and real shots in this post, since we were gearing up for my sister's wedding and short family vacation. So, I'll go ahead and link up to {pretty, happy, funny, real} at Like Mother, Like Daughter tomorrow. Click any photos to enlarge them.

The bride witnessed the groom's brainstorming session regarding just how he was going
to hang strings of lights from the ceiling. The reception was held at a VFW,  and I thought
the harpoon bomb outside was a solid reflection of wedding planning. And it matched
the colors of the linens! How lovely.
Gearing up and getting close to The Big Day.
A big storm came through between the rehearsal and the dinner, but the church ladies
hosted a lovely candle-lit dinner for us. Some of the best things in life aren't planned.
Clockwise from left: buffet, groom, and bride.
You wouldn't know it from the rehearsal dinner pictures, but it was still light outside when
we left the church. We went to a family friend's home where Cruncher and Ted took a
hike around the pond. 
Ted the terrace farmer! They used railroad ties and stakes to create a tiered garden on their
hill. Linda's showing off their future harvest on the bottom right. 
As a retired pastor and a school teacher, Ted and Linda are able to cultivate some real
beauty in their backyard. 
Cruncher and Ted came back with a friend! 
After obtaining some breathing room, he came out of his home for a visit.

At the salon, getting our pretty on! Clockwise from top left: sister of the groom, the view
from The Chair, a family portrait, and mother of the groom.
What a true beauty. Love, from Sissy!
I probably took 100 pictures at the salon, so I backed off some when the professional
arrived at the church. Clockwise from top left: Kels holding on for dear life, Michelle
opening the champagne for my tear-drenched toast, and Little Guy digging into the
cake during clean-up time at midnight. What a night. 

The next morning, after we all slept in, we met family for brunch. Clockwise from top left:
the boys cheesing, and then three pictures taken by Cruncher.
We settled in at Meemaw and Papaw's to relax for the rest of the day. Clockwise from
top: the ladies shade the boys for some fun in the HOT sun, Amy, Ryan getting caught
with the bubbles by himself, Jake and Cruncher having bubble fun, and Cruncher
popping Ryan's bubbles. 

Before heading home, we went to KidsCommons in Columbus, Indiana, for the day.
Even Ryan got into the adventure museum. He was certainly the most fun daddy there. 
Bubble room!
Across the street was The Commons with the most amazing jungle gym any of us had
seen. Ryan was nervous about Luke climbing up so high. That's him in all the pictures
except for bottom left. We nearly had the place to ourselves. 
And then down the street was a historical ice cream and soda shop. It's in nearly the same
condition as it was 100 years ago. 
Here are some items from the museum side of the ice cream shop. 
Home again, home again, jiggity jig. We put Cruncher's new kitchen together in his
playstand, ALL RANDOMLY FOUND AT YARD SALES. I swear. It's true.