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Archive for November, 2011


A trip down memory lane…

Good music stands the test of time, Great music gets better with age…

In the early 80’s at the height of the Christian music era, there was one artist who stood out among the rest, and while today I still listen to some of the older songs (some I would just like to forget). Not all of them have stood the test of time, many came and went like the passing of a cloud.

To this day I still find great pleasure in listening to Phil Keaggy’s work, especially his earlier material.

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For the last time

Tomorrow morning, I get the honor of being a lector for the final mass, before the church moves to the new translation. I also found out today that I get to lector on Christmas day, I’m very honored to get the chance to serve, and give something back, when so much has been given to me.

Tomorrow will be a historic day, the current translation was implemented in 1973, and the church in its wisdom has updated it to be more literally accurate based on the original text.
It’s going to be a big day!!!



I’ve been overwhelmed, it happens every year about this time…

Michelle and I elected to support a family for thanksgiving this year, we are buying the entire meal so they can have a proper thanksgiving, we are more than happy to share what we have been blessed with. In fact we have enough store credits that we are getting a second bird for another family, it’s a small thing but hopefully will help someone in need and brighten their lives. We also give clothes and other items when we can to the local charities, and I love shopping there to give back. We very much believe in giving and sharing to those who truly need it.

But with all the sharing that goes on this time of year, there is a darker side that no one talks about…

I work for a company who pushes community involvement in all it’s forms, on the outside it’s all about helping the community, and a great effort. But the inside reason that no one talks about is that to be quite frank, it’s good and cheap PR. I’m OK with the communal aspect, I just wish they would be honest about the PR portion, instead of spinning it as if it’s something different. I’m quite sure there are people who are gullible enough to buy into each glossy advert and declare it’s purest intentions, and there are those who understand what is going on and join anyway . I’m actually OK with that, what I’m not OK with is tweaking the corporate culture to make anyone who does not participate to be guilty of apathy.

Charities and corporations have become experts at playing the guilt card, I recently saw a message that basically told managers to make sure their people got involved in the giving. The implication was that anyone who wasn’t participating, somehow didn’t care and should be singled out. There is a simple reason that they take this tactic, it works. Guilt is a strong motivator in our society, anyone remember carbon credits? the idea was that you gave money to offset your carbon production habits, and the offsetting would make the world a better place. Never mind that the money actually didn’t go to any other purpose than to line someones pocket, and fleece those unwitting enough to actually pay for their guilty conscience.

In the past few months, I have been solicited for just about everything anyone could possibly want:

  • I’ve been asked to bring in a meal for needy families at work
  • I’ve been asked to help rake up leaves all over the community, including ones that are not my own (and my own kids won’t do our lawn, but will do the neighbors)
  • I’m supposed to bring in canned goods
  • I’ve been asked to help paint houses
  • Give Blood
  • Join in causes for green gardening
  • Carpooling with other employees
  • Riding my bike to work
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs
  • Attending meetings on green energy
  • Giving to multiple funds for multiple people
  • Walking for a cure to multiple causes
  • Give to multiple political causes
  • Donate my car for a cause
  • Bell ringers at each storefront
  • The pet store wants me to give for the humane society
  • Girl scout cookies (even to the point of setting up a cheering section at the corner of an intersection, to bring people in)
  • Stores now solicit charity from me for extra $$$ on every purchase

Then at my front door (I have a sign that says ‘No Soliciting’ by the way):

  • Magazines
  • Insurance
  • Meat from a truck at my front door (seriously!, I had to tell him to leave finally)
  • Mormomism
  • Watchtower
  • Baptist
  • Cookies (ok they always get money)
  • School events

Every place I turn, no matter where, I get asked to give something (usually money). I’m not saying these are bad things (however the Girl scouts should sell gym memberships with their cookies, cause I eat too many every year), but it is completely overwhelming. When I worked in San Francisco, they started the idea of ATM machines that would advertise while you waited, gladly that one hasn’t gone viral.

It’s all reaching a saturation point, and each year I feel a little less sympathy towards these causes. And I get honestly rude over some of the more esoteric ones, like giving from my paycheck to save the whales!. Its all so aggressive and over the top that its hard to even figure out which ones are valid, and which are just a front to line someones pocket.

When the kids where younger I had a showdown with their school over their fundraising, they wanted to kids to sell what I will call Christmas crap, bobbles and other worthless items. And they wanted the kids to canvas the neighborhood, I told them no. If you need money, I’ll write a check, because I would rather you have the money than have 200 kids pestering a neighborhood so they can win a worthless prize (trust me this stuff was all junk). And I’m not sending my kids to school so they can graduate and become door to door salesman!!. They where shocked!, they didn’t understand. How could someone be so, so, heartless. I wondered how someone could be so dense as to think this was a good idea?, if the school needs money then there are better ways to actually help the community, and teach kids to be responsible than sending them out to knock on doors armed with a magazine full of stuff that only carnivals would be able to dump.

Another good example is in our community the firemen do a bi-annual event where they ask you to fill a boot for charity, it’s a great cause! But the way they do it is that they take over EVERY stop light in and out of town. They walk up and down the line of cars begging for money. So not only do you have to wait an extra long time at the light (sometimes making you late), but you get to feel guilty at the same time, Yay Charity!! I give some every year, and two weeks later every year I end up with a sticker that I have to scrape off my window (my reward I suppose). Because if I don’t give them something, they won’t leave me alone. I guess they feel the need to go commando and force people to notice them by taking over the traffic for a day…

If if gave to every effort that we came across we would need to join the programs so we could feed ourselves!! It’s like being locked in a hotel with a bunch of starving Fuller Brush salesmen, no matter where you go, you can’t get away. After a while you just go numb…

Haven’t we taken this whole community thing a little too far? One problem I have always had with charities and programs is that in many cases they make the needy more dependent. I’ve known people who are happy to live off of people too dense to make sure that the person they are giving to is actually needy, they have no shame and figure they system owes them something, and the world is full of people who spend all their time giving what they have to make themselves feel less guilty.

Giving is about blessing someone, it should come from a desire to help your fellow man, not to assuage the guilt some marketing dweeb is heaping on you. The world will always have zealots who pick a cause, and do everything in their power to make you feel guilty. Look at any animal shelter or PETA commercial, you get pictures of soft puppy eyes, terrible situations involving animals, a moving and sad dialog, moving music. And some dweeb celebrity who feels guilty because they make more money in a day, than most of us see in a lifetime. I especially despise the ones who talk about animal adoption, aren’t human children worth more to these people? Why not adopt a child?, or help with programs that help children? (to be clear some do). I love animals, we raise fish, have cats, dogs, and chickens. But animals are easy, you can objectify them, children take real commitment. You can leave your pet while you go out and live your life, but a child requires around the clock care, no wonder so many shallow celebrities choose that as their star cause. It feeds their neurosis and doesn’t require a life change.

So here’s my advice:

If your not giving freely and cheerfully, then don’t give. Certainly don’t let someone swindle you out of money because they can make you feel guilty.

If you are unsure of where your money is going, ask before you give.

Give because others needs it, and because you feel compelled.

Be responsible, make sure your efforts are not going to waste. Give to established organizations who make the most of what they get, beware of corporate organizations, some actually use their money wisely, some don’t. Find out before you give.

If you really feel bad because that bell ringer is getting on your nerves, and the guilt is killing you (just ask the girl scouts how many cases we have purchased). Then set aside a small fund and keep it on hand. That way you can give a little, make them happy and make you feel better.

And never give money directly to someone unless you know them, money given to the homeless many times gets used in ways you would not be happy with. Responsible charities have this all worked out, and make sure that the truly needy are getting much needed supplies.

Now get off my lawn!!!



New Toy Alert!!!

When the first iPhone came out I was working on a new corporate website, I tried scheming my way into getting the company to buy one so we could test the site with a mobile device. No deal on that little idea, but hey I tried :)

We did buy a Mac so we could test all the permutations of browsers that are available, and finally did get to do some iPhone and mobile device testing. But I didn’t buy an iPhone, mostly because I had a company phone at the time and didn’t want two of them. Later when they finally (and gladly from my point of view) took back my company phone, I purchased a Droid Incredible for a number of reasons. It’s been a good phone, but Google dropped the ball. I find Android to be highly fragmented, and it seems like they have been asleep in regards to tablets.

Earlier this year I bought an iPad 2, which I use every single day and is almost always with me. I also keep my Incredible on my hip, but I only use it for texting and phone calls, and checking the weather. But let me be brutally honest here, the Android is a geeks phone, the programs are just not as good as they are on iOS. There are some that shine, but most are too technical in nature and many require a good understanding of how the phone works. It’s far from a seamless experience.

Contrast that with the iPad, Michelle’s office got her one, and once I showed her the basics she does everything on it, except text and phone calls…

Tomorrow my Droid contract is up and I’m eligible for an upgrade, I’ve been watching the iPhone 4s with great interest. Especially Siri, about 5 years ago I spent more money than I should say, to update my bimmer to have voice control. I use it almost everyday for hands free dialing, but if I want to play music from my iPad or Incredible, that requires some pretty scary gymnastics…

So you guess where I will be tomorrow morning!!!

I’ve got everything picked out..

iPhone 4s, 64Gb, White…

InCase clear case..

A car mount is on the way so I access the phone with fiddling with it in the car…

And I can’t wait, I want to say “Play the Beatles Sgt Pepper”, and have it actually start…

So tomorrow I’ll be in complete geek heaven!!!

I’ve been saving up for a long time for this…. WOOT!!!

Oh and my daughter gets the Droid, I hope Verizon has more Texting servers they can bring online. Boy are they going to need it once she gets going…



About today…

I for one appreciate with all my being, the men and women who serve this country with honor. Peace is a dangerous proposition in a world filled with evil, and it takes men and women willing to sacrifice their very lives if needed, to keep it at bay. I have friends and family who have served, and if I could salute you I would.

All I can say is thank you…



Crossing the great barrier…

Over at St Joseph’s Vanguard, there have been some conversations about the orthodox faith, you can view them here:

Orthodox Question: Immaculate Mary


The 6 Attractions of Eastern Orthodoxy

and here (read down for a good irenic discussion of contraception):

The Achilles’ Heel of Orthodoxy

I like Devin, I like his Apologetics and he writes about topics that interest me. I don’t always get involved, but I do read every post. The three discussions above have sparked an interest in checking out the Orthodox faith, during our personal conversion Michelle and I did talk about it, but could only find one little tiny church way on the other side of town. So in essence we skipped it, and ended up going Catholic.

I’m happily Catholic after years of evangelical nonsense, but there are Catholic issues that have always bothered me, I’ve been open and honest about that. There is an interesting discussion in the second and third link about contraception and the Catholic belief. From my viewpoint the Catholic position is far too legalistic to make any kind of sense when you bring Grace into the picture. The whole idea of any barrier method of contraception being a sin (and a mortal one at that), and then allowing NFP (Natural Family Planning) which is just a different form of natural barrier contraception is a real problem. Catholic Apologist will bend over backwards to say the two are different, but let’s be honest and admit that the point of contraception, and the point of NFP is to prevent pregnancy. You can argue successfully that contraception has other ramifications, but that misses the core purpose. In my opinion trying to disassociate the two so you can say one is licit (NFP) and the other is not (barrier contraception or BC) is dishonest at best. Just to be clear I’m only referring to non-abortive contraception here, anything else I agree %100 with the church on.

I’ve long held that the Catholic position on BC is nothing more than an idealized view of sex in marriage, with little basis in reality. Apologists will say that the pleasure found in sex is a gift from God and that the sole purpose of sex is procreation, that’s a statement that only someone either celibate, confused, or trying to stake out a theological position would make. I’ll put this as plainly as I can: there is nothing on this earth that feels better than sex. Can anyone truly argue with this statement? (I’m sure someone could, but I’d ignore them as being a crank), and if my premise is true (which for me it certainly is), then why would God make it so? Why take something so exquisite and turn it into a secondary? If your married, can you deny that intimacy in marriage makes it stronger?, if you deny that then how do you explain the Song of Solomon? If there ever was a book that bordered on religious porn, it’s that. Obviously our desires for our spouses is a good thing, so why deny it and subvert it’s obvious purpose?

I’ve heard arguments that the church is obsessed with sex, and in a way I suppose that’s true. To be fair however it is an important topic, and one that the bible constantly refers too, so the church is not out of line addressing it. The problem I have is that their position is so entrenched that they are not capable of taking modern science into view, the church states that it values science, but in this area it will not be budged by any revelation science can bring.

The Orthodox position is actually very closely aligned, with small allowances made for couples who having children could pose health issues, for either the parents or child, or other factors. While still restrictive, the very fact that they are willing to consider alternatives in a valid marriage is very attractive. In what little reading I’ve done, they have a more realistic view of sex in marriage, and yet it’s still very close the Catholic position. One big difference is that they do not believe the ONLY reason for sex is procreation, a view which I wholly agree with.

One issue I want to point out, is that in reading Catholic material on the topic, and listening to various Catholic apologist (Catholic Answers Radio is a constant source of frustration for me ;), it becomes clear that many who write about sex from the Catholic viewpoint, either don’t understand it, or live in a world run by the Disney Animation team. I’m not sure how to say this without offending someone: Sex in marriage is not about angels, candles, and saying a prayer while participating (and if it is, your doing it wrong, trust me on this). Sex is physical, animalistic in some parts, and a very base activity (for both Humans and Animals). That doesn’t make it unholy, God is not interested in our view of how he created things, and to deny this very physical part of sex is just wrong. It’s taken me years, but during our conversion I’ve come to the conclusion that what many people think about things that are holy, are just plain wrong. We are disgusting beings, we sin, we make messes, we are anything but pure and white in our physical being, and yet God loves us. So applying a biblical standard to the common human needs just doesn’t seem to align with a God who would create us this way. Just bear this in mind, can any believer deny that Christ in the incarnation, didn’t have to go to the bathroom like the rest of us? (trying to be polite here). I’m not trying to be disgusting, but to point out that if he was truly incarnate, then he had to do the same disgusting things we do as humans. Meaning that holiness has little to do with our physical nature, if that is the case, then why treat sex (which is pretty darn physical) as something different?

The other issue that bothers me deeply, is just how little some Catholics think about these issues. While in RCIA, a friend was going on about a Catholic speaker who made the statement that “Ladies, remember that birth control was invented by a man!!”, She offered this little gem as is if it surmised a whole and successful argument. I didn’t challenge it at the time, but this type of inductive reasoning makes the Catholic position less defendable (and I’ve heard that kind of nonsense a lot). I could take the same premise and make all kinds of wild statements based on supposition and bad syllogisms. I could have countered: “Ladies think about this: Only MEN have ever been to the moon, remember that next time you feel its romantic effects ladies!!”. Its the same with statistics, every generation claims that they are the worst, or that some moral issue is destroying the fabric of their lives from the last generation. When I was Baptist, it was atheism and darwin. Those evils where destroying everything, but with just a *little* research one finds that the Atheists have a point about how stupid believers can be, clinging to anything that furthers their message, and jettisoning anything contrary to their theology. My point is not to defend Darwin or Atheists, but to point out that in our desperate search for the truth and information that supports our theology, we ignore all those little issues that could cause us to question.

So where am I headed with this, well a couple of things really…

1. While I agree with %98 of what the Catholic church teaches about sex in marriage and contraception, there is a small percentage I think they get wrong.

2. Again we need people in our day and age who challenge what they are told, I am so amazed when people say we live in the information age, you couldn’t tell tell from how little people know about core issues or even think about things and just follow what they are told.

3. I’m finding that on some issues, I am in alignment with the Eastern Orthodox church’s.

Not sure where that will lead, but its an interesting development nonetheless…

Make with it what you will…


P.S. I didn’t cite a bunch of sources, which I probably should have. But doing so takes time and more effort than I have in me right now. There is a logic test next week, and as usual I have to get studying or fail 😉