Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Way I See it, You've Got Three Choices

Imagine the poor souls who become disabled by a serious medical illness.  Or someone who loses a spouse or child.  Or someone who is unjustly sent to prison for life.  The list could go on.

And imagine there is no way to undo the situation.  No way to go back and prevent it, or to go on living as if the circumstances of your life haven't been permanently changed.

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I listed above some extreme examples, but many of us have or will deal with some life-altering personal challenges.  A surgeon has to quit doing surgery after losing some fingers to frostbite climbing Everest.  A married couple can no longer have marital relations because of some kind of unusual, medical complication.  One day you wake up and your vision is so bad you can no longer drive a car--at least legally anyway.

Many of us will have some kind of mutilating experience in their life, or know someone first-hand who has.  And a choice has to be made.

The way I see, you've got one of three choices:

1.  Jump off a bridge.  I don't see any upside here.  Either you go from a state of seeming misery in this life to an infinitely worse and permanent state (hell), or if you'd be lucky to make it to purgatory, the suffering would be instantaneously worse.  

2. Give up on life and sit around feeling sorry for yourself.   Become a drunk, druggie, self-loathing, life hating, morbidly depressed dropout on life.   I can see one upside here.  In the moment, there might be some relief from escaping reality.  But given enough time--days or weeks would do the trick--you'd have sunk into a deeper state of misery.  Life would be even worse.

3.  Which brings us to door #3:  maximize your life the best you can despite your handicap or debilitating cross.  If you lose your legs, learn to walk and run using artificial prostheses.   If you lose a spouse to death, mourn and then move on, finding new or renewed relationships.

In the end, no matter how awful the situation may seem, if we care about God and our life, we don't have any other choice than #3.  That's the raw fact of life.

This post is a bit of hyperbole.  Many fortunately will not face tragic change in their life.  Not sure the % in that category, but reflecting on the three above choices, I can see how they'd apply to any trial or cross you're facing, whether it is small or large, temporary or permanent.

In the end we can a) completely give up on a situation, b) retreat into self-pity and a kind of self-indulgence that really hurts more than relieves, or c) grab that bull by the horns, overcome the setback, refuse to throw in the towel, and choose to live fully and as blessedly as possible this little life God has given us.

Our Faith tells me that's the only way to be happy in the next.  And ironically, common sense tells me that's actually the only way to be happy in this life too.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Committed to My Hobby

I did it!  I resurrected my old hobby today, planting a vegetable garden + some flowers.   I was following through on a promise to myself about having regular hobbies--which I chatted about here.  There's something cultivating and rejuvenating for the soul when making something--whether it's a birdhouse, song, recipe, or a garden.

I headed over to Home Depot for some cheap seeds--cucumber, zucchini, and swiss chard.  Last summer the cucumber harvest provided us with endless cucumber salads, but the zucchini plants were a flop--I'll give it a go again.  The Swiss chard package said it can be planted as late as May in Oklahoma, so we'll see.

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Then I headed over to a local specialty gardening store which happens to sell a bunch of vegetable plants at very inexpensive prices.  For about $2, you get four plants.  I picked up tomato, yellow summer squash, and eggplant plants.  Plus some yellow and pink flowers--didn't look at the name--but these are the one's we planted last summer which exploded in color and lasted until October.

Later at home I pulled out my Joy of Gardening book--which seems to be popular among trads btw, considering it's for sale by the Angelus Press--and set the plants and seeds on the front porch.  Some weeds needed weeding, and my hoe came in handy chopping up the soil.

What makes my garden this year unique is that it's all in our front flower beds.  Would take too much labor to dig up all the grass from the garden patch I prepared last summer all by hand.  When you're pocketbook and yard size is limited, you make do with what you've got.

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Dreaming of Tomatoes


In the front row I planted a big yellow flower...next to it a small summer squash plant...then a pink flower, repeating that combo a few times down the line.  In the side bed, I spread out some swiss chard seeds towards the front, and in back cucumber seeds, planning for them to grow long vines across the sidewalk and spread out across the yard.  In the very back is a large square bed, where now resides four tomato plants, four eggplants, and some sewn zucchini seeds.

On the porch I planted more of the yellow and pink flowers in a large pot, and in some small pots, and in a middle-sized pot I planted tome red, tropical-looking flowers my wife likes since she is from a tropical country.

If the success of this garden/flower planting is anything like last summer, it will make for a beautified front yard to give pleasure to passersby for months to come, and supply some fresh, organic, homegrown produce for the kitchen!

Every man needs a hobby.  This summer at least, gardening will be mine!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Our First Day in Heaven??

I wonder what our first day in heaven might be like?

After a long, valley of tears.  After a long series of crosses and mystifying sorrows.  For some, after a good spell being purged by fire in purgatory--if we're blessed to die in God's grace.  When all the suffering this side of heaven seems unending.

Think of all your ailments, failures, rejections, hardships, and dark periods.  Think of all the inconveniences, aches and pains, sleeping troubles, depressed periods, loneliness, etc, etc.  Think of the eternal relief and reward that awaits us.

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The Valley of Tears, bu Gustav Dore

I'd like to think our first day of heaven will be like a marathon runner crossing the finish line, being brought refreshments, as a reward for being dehydrated, hungry, and tired.  After all, that initial reward and relief is something the runner aims at in finishing the race.


Perhaps that first day of relief will be different for everyone.  For a poor, deaf and mute, blind, quadraplegic (I imagine there is someone out there so afflicted), that first day through the pearly gates, they will get to run through wide fields of fresh grass, hearing symphonies, and viewing majestic panoramas, while speaking with the angels.

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For me I would like to think on my first day in heaven, I will be surrounded with family and friends who have passed on and made it to heaven, to really have long talks and to laugh.  It would be splendid to have a long, blissful sleep, and to awaken refreshed like I use to as a child.  I would love to experience perfect mental and emotional clarity.  I would also love if I can practice any of those talents and gifts God gave me in this life that circumstances have not allowed me to fully express.  It would be awesome to experience what it would be like to be a surgeon.

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Then again, our first day in heaven may be angelic simplicity gazing on the Beatific Vision.   God knows.  But looking forward to that first day in heaven is one thought that keeps me moving forward in this marathon of life.

What do you think your first day in heaven might look like?  The Comment box is open!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Good Sunday Memories

It's Sunday morning and I'm sitting in my Okie Trad armchair starting season 4 of The West Wing on Netflix.  The show is liberal, and not all that interesting, but I'm sorta hooked on it.  The characters are interesting.  The plots are a good mental challenge to follow.

And the little lady is in the kitchen making scrambled eggs and bratwurst.  Mass is later.

This restful Sunday morning, I'm reminded of good experiences I've had over the years on Sundays.

Growing up we either went to the 5pm Saturday Mass, or 11:30 am Sunday Mass, so when we got up at 7 or 8 on Sunday mornings, we had the liberty of a fine, Sunday breakfast and to lounge reading the funny papers.  I remember waking up my parents by crawling into bed with them under the sheets, asking for pancakes.  Pancakes were a Sunday special.  I have a warm memory of Sunday mornings laying on the living room floor, basking in the morning rays of the Sun, reading the comic section of the Sunday paper.  Dad would be reading the news.  Mom would be checking out the advertisements.  Those Sunday mornings are a warm memory from childhood.

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As a teenager, I became best friends with my older sister's boyfriend--now husband.  During their few years of courtship, it was a Sunday habit for them to come to our childhood parish for Sunday Mass.  Sundays would become a close time for family.  I remember the first time I ate pizza dipped in ranch dressing.  One restaurant we frequented after Sunday Mass was Simple Simon's pizza.  My brother-in-law and I mused how customers were using ranch with their pizza, and it caught on.  Next thing you know we were drenching our pizza slices in ranch.

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Most Sundays we had dinner back at the house, and it was my mom's homecooking that filled the house with a delightful aroma.   Our favorite Sunday meal was spaghetti with all the sides.  We would play chess, other board games, and Nintendo.  But we spent more time outside playing basketball, hitting plastic golf balls, and building tree houses.  As time has passed, those relationships are now substantially different, but those Sunday memories will live with me all my life.

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Flash forward, and in my 20's, when I lived in another state, a good friend of mine and I liked to attend a very conservative novus ordo parish far removed from the city, and along the way go bouldering and hiking at a mountainous park surrounding a lake.   Over the course of a year, we probably took a half a dozen such trips, which were surreal to me.  We had so much fun.  It was a day full of spirituality and adventure.  After climbing a tall rock face, we would perch on a ledge and pray the psalms.  On our way home, we stopped at a rural Catholic retreat center immersed in nature, to pray at their Perpetual Adoration chapel which looked like a log cabin.  These were unforgettable times.

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Probably for most of us, most of the time, Sunday is a simple day like any other Sunday.  Hopefully that means Sunday Mass.  But how much do we really keep the day holy?  How much true leisure rules the day?

I can imagine an idealistic Sunday.  Sunday morning Latin High Mass.  Coffee and donuts with fellow parishioners.  A full Sunday brunch of eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and OJ.  Family games and quiet time to study the catechism and for leisure reading.  A visit to a family member in the nursing home, or a shut-in at home to give some comfort.  Then a hike in the park, dinner, and an evening bonfire.  I do hear-tell there are families that manage to live Sundays like that.

Tell me about your Sundays, and fond Sunday memories, in the Comment box below!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Our Dads

Yesterday I talked about how I managed to force my mind to slip into a subconscious, trance-like state while my head was bolted inside a helmet, and my body stuck in an MRI tunnel for 30 minutes.  Good times.

When your fight-or-flight response wants to high jack your psyche, unnecessarily, there is an alternate impulse minds are meant to resort to--the parasympathetic response.   To slow breathing, heart rate, and calm the mind.
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Being stuck in that MRI, my mind managed to do that, and part of what carried me through a half hour laying in confinement, was imagining in exacting detail my teenage camping and backpacking trips with my dad.

I should preface this post with the admission that in my 20's my relationship with my dad did shift from something benign to a very strained situation.  BUT, by the grace of God, however, we made our peace before he died.  That period is come and gone. May he rest in peace.

So this post is about my father, and our fathers.

Except for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it seems according to some Doctors of the Church St. Joseph too, all of us are a mixture of virtue and sin.

So it is with our fathers, with my father.   They go off to work and bring home the bacon.  They change the oil and balance the checkbook.  

Like many men out there, my dad had a good side and a dark side.  There's the side that wants to do good by their wife and children.   And there's the side where...well, fill in the blank.

Our backpacking trips were magical.  Something eased my dad's nerves into a state of sustained serenity and well-being.  Even mishaps and misjudgments were met with a very moderate response.  Something about the outdoors.  Something about taking a Time Out from the social grind.  It's a natural mystery, how the outdoors, at least in my experience, is civilizing and balancing.

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Perhaps you have experienced the vexing and strained side of your father, or worse.  I'd imagine most have.  But for me these outdoor trips were a taste of heaven.  A time of serenity and joy.

Looking up the side of the small mountain (I say small because the "mountains" we backpacked in Oklahoma and Arkansas were, relative to most, small), I took the backpacks out of the trunk.  Dad had the map spread across the hood of the car.  It was always a pleasure to scan the map and see where the sites along the way were marked by symbols in the map's legend.   It was as much a symbolic journey of accomplishment, to make it through the ups and downs marked by the map, as the actual physical accomplishment.

Before passing the trailhead, we checked our gear and food, but once we stepped onto the trail, we entered a new reality.  The reality of father and son enjoying the pure outdoors.

One of my fondest memories is of our times, at the end of a day of arduous backpacking, when we reached the bottom of a valley along a creek or small river.  Tent set up, water gathered, campfire roaring, dinner cooked, the nearby stream giving gentle, relaxing sounds, father and son would settle in by the fireside for a good long talk.

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We told stories.  We talked about life.  We celebrated our day's accomplishment.  We planned the next day's route.

Those were blessed times.  As a nature lover, and a Catholic believer, I imagine heaven being a natural place of mountains and streams.  It was the book of the Apocalypse after all that revealed heaven would be a "new Creation."

And so that is my hope.  My hope is that one day, when we have steadfastly endured the hike of life through this valley of tears, we will join our loved ones in the new Creation.  There I hope to enjoy a campfire again with my dad, and a good, long hike.



Friday, April 21, 2017

CT Scan Today. Wondered if It'd be like my MRI Experience.

I have a fullness in my right and left middle ears, with some recent tinnitus (which I pray is temporary either from allergies or my TMJ issues), and also some painful cheekbones.  My ENT recently thought I'm having sinusitis and ordered a CT scan.  I finally made it in today to get 'er done.  Boy was I relieved it was no big deal.

I was somewhat resolved to doing it going into the radiology department at the hospital down the road, not knowing how confining and prolonged the CT experience would be.  Back in February, I had a first time MRI to rule out some things (which it did), and that was purgatorial.  When I made the MRI appointment they asked if I'd like "conscious sedation" which I'm still unclear as to what it exactly is, but it's for people who are claustrophobic.  I am historically not.  Until this MRI anyway.

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The MRI machine they used for me didn't have a round tube.  The ceiling came almost down to my nose.

For the MRI, I walk into a small room and there is a large machine with a tunnel.  I think "no big deal" until after I lie down my head is completely locked into a bolted-down helmet and when I am transported back into the tunnel, there is maybe an INCH between my nose and the ceiling of the tube, and I'm immersed in it from the top of my head down to my elbows.

You might think "yeah I can do that, no problem."  But the sucker took 30, yes 30 minutes with no stops, the whole time my head completely locked in the helmet.  If I should want out, it would take a chunk of time, and ruin the scan.  This is what you're made aware of by the tech who counsels you before he sends you into confinement.

Oh and just for fun, you're hearing clunking, electrifying, weird Star Trek kinds of sounds of all sorts.

The first few minutes I felt okay, but then it starts to sink in you're going to be in that stuck position for a Half Hour!  Deep breathing helps, but when those strange sounds start pounding and clicking, you have to resort to other measures.

So for the next 25 or so minutes, having made a deep down decision I MUST do this MRI and endure it, for my health, my subconscious mind reverted to an ever more subconscious trance-like state.  I would transport myself back in time and relive every camping and backpacking trip I took with my dad as a teenager.  That's how I got through it.

I imagined the car drive, the food and gear prep, stopping at the ranger's station, what I was wearing, the feeling of excitement to explore the outdoors, the various vistas and valleys we hiked through, the campfires, stories, mishaps, and thrills.  I relived several of those trips in that half hour.  It was a mental marathon.

So going in to do a CT scan today of my sinuses, I had no idea if I'd be confined like that to a tunnel or for how long.  Boy what a relief when the tech said it'd take 5 minutes, and it really only took 2-3 minutes. There was no tight tunnel, and most of the time my head was covered just to the neckline, and just for a short time down to my shoulders.

Fun times.  Anybody ever had the fun of an MRI or CT scan?  Share in the comments section below.

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The CT scan today looked like this.  So much bigger diameter, and no tunnel.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Hirsch Files: a Must Read!

I want to recommend my readers once again to frequent the informative, entertaining, and well-written blog of my Trad Blogger colleague, none other than the Bloggermeister of bloggermeisters, Laramie Hirsch over at the Hirsch Files.

He and I haven't made time to hang out for a while, or collaborate like we use to about our blogging hobby. From time to time I do peek in on his daily labor of love, and am delighted to see how well he sustains his zeal and energy for the subject matters he most writes about.  

For some time now, he has zeroed in his focus more and more on matters of faith, for the Catholic, as an advocate for strength and courage in fighting the culture war.

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Hirsch has a talent for writing, of which I will never come close in a long shot. If this were high school sports, he would be senior varsity, and I would be freshman JV. 

The man has a gift for research, reasoning, and articulation.  His knowledge of politics, history, and current events is stellar.  I'm lucky if I keep up with some latest headlines in yahoo news, or can sketch out in my mind the simple basics of Western civilization.

Some people do not like to read the Hirsch Files. Laramie can be offensive.  Laramie can be very cynical.  Laramie can take online squabbles in the blogosphere and forums to new heights of analysis.  So be it. His style is not for everyone.  

But for the record, I have enjoyed enough campfires and cigars with the man to know he is a gentleman who, in his own unique way, is devoted to using his blog to promote Catholic truth.

Kudos Hirsch!

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hobbies

Well, I have to admit my life has not exactly been a state of Zhen-like balance.  My daily schedule is not a rhythmic flow of work and leisure.  Mostly it feels like work, then chilling out in front of a screen of some kind.  Mea culpa.

The wife and I were talking about this lately.  In her free time she likes doing arts and crafts, writing letters, and sewing.  Me, blogging, Netflix, and the occasional stroll in the yard.

When you've been around enough to see 7 presidents in office, at my age it's a bit of a challenge to acquire new hobbies, or any new habit for that matter.  Many years ago, it was a regular habit to go hiking, backpacking, camping, and fishing.  Now at most I take out the outdoors gear sporadically throughout the calendar year.

Truth be told, what I really enjoy is:  reading, writing, movies, cooking, gardening, and outdoor recreation.  Did have a Summer and Fall garden last year.  Do sometimes pull out an old recipe and roll up my sleeves in the kitchen.  Still maintaining this blogging hobby...But I guess what I'm confessing is I've seldom managed to weave the habit of these regular hobbies into my weekly schedule.  

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I'm thinking of the kind of talent-oriented, mindful hobbies that often sustained our forefathers after a hard day of work.  And I don't mean sitting around drinking beer.  I mean things like woodworking, automobile restoration, bee keeping, and such.

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...well there's no time like the present.  It's still early enough to plan that summer garden.  I've got 5-10 recipes I'm fond of making, and I can start doing a couple a week.  Plus the Sun is out longer and the Spring temperatures are ideal for hiking.

Case in point.  Relative to the plain and rough landscape of Oklahoma, there is a pristine piece of Colorado-like public land reserved for hiking called Red Bud Valley State Park.  The main trail is a a big loop, with a few miles of trails total.  

I usually go clockwise, getting the hard part out of the way, climbing up a rock staircase of sorts to the top of a hill where the habitat shifts to a desert-like landscape of small cacti, lizards, and sandy soil.  Then it's down some cliffs, passing under some shady overhangs (a huge deer with gigantic antlers once stared down at me from one of these overhangs) and past a few caves that give rise to springs.  The last part is a winding path along a raised platform trail through a moist, cool valley of moss and fern trees.  For the Okie who yearns for more majestic natural beauties, this hour long hike is a pretty good fix.

That'll make a good start for kick-starting more hobbies in my daily life.  Plus making some smokey, bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers.

So do you have hobbies?  What are they?  The comment box is open!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My "Eating Plan"

For years I ate a refined, processed diet with a lot of sugar, flour, and soy bean oil.  Basically, if you could boil down the main ingredients of most items in the aisle section of your supermarket, you'll get those three ingredients.

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The Standard American Diet


A few years ago I wanted to make a change, and we switched to a mostly "whole foods" diet.  It helps when you have a wife with very good health habits.  We switched from breakfast cereal to oatmeal, from lots of pasta to brown rice, and from meals in a box to fresh fish.


The next phase of my health journey was to reduce carbs, even the unprocessed kind.  The Atkins diet kicked it off, but it evolved, and I was eating a lot of veggies, salads, nuts, seeds, and cheese, as well as eggs, fish, and meat.  I lost a lot of weight and felt great.


With my health challenge right now, which I recently posted about, I'm not doing a strict low carb diet, that's too much stress on my body, so I'm doing what Dr. Andrew Weil (expert in "integrated medicine," has a big, fluffy white beard) calls an anti-inflammatory diet.  I basically did this before low carb. And it is actually a semi-low carb kind of diet, in that it really cuts out a lot of simple carbs, pasta, and bread.  It emphasizes foods that do not raise your blood sugar.  Not that I'm diabetic--I've been tested--but recent nutritional science has highlighted the importance on low glycemic index food, i.e. food that does not raise the blood sugar much.


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Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet (ie way of eating)


The mechanism goes like this:  with high glycemic index food dominating the diet comes high insulin levels, which causes inflammation, and inflammation is synonymous with disease and illness.


If you have a bad cold, eating a Snickers will probably make it worse, even an orange.  Both are boiled down quickly to sugar in the blood stream, which increases inflammation (cue nasal congestion) and lowers the immune system.  In a matter of just a few minutes!


But if you're trying to overcome an ailment--who doesn't have an ailment?--and if that ailment is largely due to inflammation, itself largely due to high carb food, then it makes sense to eat an avocado or some strawberries instead of that orange.


So that's my eating plan right now.  Thoughts?

Monday, April 17, 2017

The movie "The Catholics"

Was chatting today in the comment section of yesterday's post with my fellow Trad Blogger Oakes Spalding about the cinematic history of Martin Sheen.  I'm musing about this as I sit here another night running the next Netflix episode of The West Wing.  Sheen is about as liberal as they come, but he has some deep Catholic roots, at least culturally, and I respect his style and gravitas on screen.  That includes an old movie from the 1970s he starred in called "The Catholics," later renamed "Conflict."

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I agree with Oakes the end leaves something to be desired, but I think this film almost qualifies as a much-watch for trad families, or at least it deserves a spot in the dvd collection.  I picked up a few copies once at the dollar store to hand out.

For those who haven't seen this picture, it is about an Irish monastery that refuses the New Mass and sticks to the Latin Mass.  Sheen's character is a liberation theology, secularist Vatican priest investigating the traditionalist stance of the community.

Some favorite scenes from the movie:  the laity gathered on a hill while one of the priest monk's offers the traditional Mass on a rock altar.   It is a sad but heroic scene as Irish trads gather in clowdy, rainy climate typical of Ireland, solemnly observing the ancient rite.  I also liked the scene where they carry out a large, baked salmon into the refectory as the monk's relish sharing a piece of newly caught fish.  The best scene to me is when the abbot, the liberal priest, and an old priest monk are talking in a stable as the old monk gently feeds a baby lamb while admonishing the young liberal Sheen about a secularized Mass facing the people in the vernacular.

Let me know what you think of it if you've seen it, or check out some clips here:


Sunday, April 16, 2017

The West Wing

First, Happy Easter Okie Trad friends.  It's been a while.  May the radiant light of the empty tomb lift you up and preserve you.

I've been watching old episodes of the West Wing on Netflix.  Feels like I've been into it for a long time already, even though I'm just getting through season 2, and there's what 8 seasons.

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So to start overcoming my blogging atrophy, I'll comment on some thoughts I have from watching the West Wing--or as a conservative friend jokingly calls it the "Left Wing"--from the perspective of a traditional Catholic.

(Preface:  for newcomers, by traditional Catholic, I mean a believing, practicing Catholic, following the bi-millenial tradition of the Roman Catholic Church...that said...)

So if you've ever watched the West Wing, you'd know it takes a lot of mental work to follow the plot.  A graduate degree in political science wouldn't hurt either, lol.  Scene after scene is a chaotic flood of political strategizing, as characters wind in and out of one office room in the White House after another.  If you're trying to exercise your brain muscles, this beats crossword puzzles or lumosity.com.

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More than a decade ago, I spent some time watching these programs, but at the time I was focused on the liberal crap that the show does seem to promote.  The characters are liberal Democrats, and they are always arguing with idealism and virtuosity the merits of the socialistic approach to government.

What is the philosophical question about art--does art reflect society, or does society reflect art?  Without probing into the question, it does seem self-evident that the West Wing is/was a propaganda tool for the Democratic party.  Big media has ubiquitous power to manipulate the minds of evening TV watchers across the nation.  Have not many priests and bishops warned about the influence of TV on corrupting the minds of the youth?

At the same time, art reflects society, and in that respect perhaps the mature mind can take in said art and filter out the liberal values it is reflecting from society.  In other words, for entertainment purposes, I think an informed Catholic can watch shows like the West Wing while filtering out the liberal messages, so that one is not imitating the art.

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I'm impressed by Martin Sheen's character President Bartlett.  The character is full of life, even though he knows secretly he has a diagnosis of M.S.  He is full of energy, humor, and passion.   His team of experts make for a fun and at times funny dynamic.  There's C.J. the press secretary.  The part you have to filter out is her feminist, aggressive personality.  The part that sticks is her humorous awkwardness.  Then there's the male trio speech writers/advisors to the president--Tobby who can always be seen carrying some kind of bagel or danish;  Sam, played by the dashing (yes I said dashing) Rob Lowe; and Josh, the neurotic, impassioned, idealist.

In conclusion, while I find the progressive politics of the West Wing to be uninteresting, I think this series is worth watching for mature audiences (hmm, I guess I'm saying I'm in that audience), if for no other reason than to challenge one's mental faculties.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Ask Your Doctor to Check Your Vitamin B12!!!

So, it seems very likely my recent health issues follow a Vitamin B12 deficiency who knows how long I have had.  Turns out you MUST consume regularly beef and milk.  We've been chowing down on chicken and ground turkey for years.  And I'm thinking Almond milk, despite its high amounts of Calcium, isn't a rich source of this vital substance.

Consider this a service announcement, interrupting your evening Netflix program.

If you are experiencing a) extreme fatigue, b) insomnia, c) muscle aches and pains, d) numbness/pins and needles in the extremeties...

GET Thee to a Doctor and get tested EARLY (as it seems I did).  You DON'T want these symptoms to go untreated.

IF you don't like doctors, scram down to your local lab and have them run a blood sample.  Normal range is 200-1000.  I'm sitting at 392 which is low, but still in the "mildly deficient" category.  If you're low, pick up a bottle of B12 at the pharmacy, the kind you put into a dropper and put under your tongue (really gets into blood stream).

I'll keep you updated on my B12 recovery.  Blessed Lent.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Oklahoma "Winter" Weather. Global warming?

If you've passed through the Okie Heartland recently, or live within it's humble borders, you may have noticed an uncanny trend of warm, pseudo-Spring-like weather since Christmastide.  Not a flurry nor a day of freezing temperatures, that I can recall anyway.  Not in February, and not in March.  Well as I've maintained before, Oklahoma is already a bit it's own Twighlight zone, and the weather is no exception.  After all, we have the #1 Meterology school in the WORLD at our own University of Oklahoma-Norman campus because of our funky, educational changes in climate (+ tornadoes, cue the movie "Twister").

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This begs the question:  why the warm winter?  A happy smile from above? Just one of those serpentine meanderings that nature takes throughout cosmological time? How about a sign of global warming?

I suspect some of my fellow trads will rule out global warming.  Before all my fellow traditionalists, I must confess I do believe in it for two reasons.

1. science.   2. philosophy, i.e. Catholic philosophy.  Here me out friends.

1.  Science.  Drawing on logic, I find it highly unlikely that the overwhelming majority of environmental scientists in the last several decades would be SO blinded by intellectual pride and new age earth worship that the encyclopedic data they put forward to support global warming would so biased and skewed to cast doubt on the established scientific theory.   For the sake of argument, let's say most DO succumb to these vices, but we are talking about global consensus of world congresses of the most reputable scientists.

There is a supreme place for the Baltimore catechism, and a high place for the humanities--especially Catholic-oriented Literature, but there is also a very important place for science.  This is Thomistic.  According to the Angelic Doctor, knowledge of the Creator is based on knowledge of His Creation.

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2.  Philosophy--i.e. Catholic philosophy.   As Thomistic philosopher of science Fr. S.L. Jaki articulated,  while modern science may tend to separate itself from philosophy, especially that inspired by the Catholic system, a true life of faith necessarily wed to philosophy cannot be something separate from natural science. Otherwise faith is based on blindness or emotion, and not reason.

So, to me, from a Catholic philosophical perspective, looking out across the Globe these couple centuries, one cannot help but see modern man raping the Earth.  Descartes was one of the pioneers of the modern experiment, and he decided that the human mind is separate from the human body.  Later modern philosophers would extend this to a "Man vs. Nature" philosophy.  Cue Charles Darwin and Jack Landon's Call of the Wild.

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Descartes.  A Founding Father of Modern Philosophy

The dynamic basically works like this:  if the mind floats above and disconnected from the body, so modern man has dicatorship over nature, and is not bound by its laws.  We do not have to "act in conformity with nature," which is one of the precepts of Natural Law ethics.  How that plays out in modern history is alarming.

There are little checks in place to curtail modern man raping the Earth, from the industrial revolution to nuclear weapons to environmental pollution.  The common denominator is a few powerful tycoons with modern technology aimed at the surface of our planet motivated more by greed and lust for power than a love of God's Creation.

I have my own biases.  I spent a large portion of my childhood learning life skills in the outdoors through the Boy Scouts.  In college I would major inbn biology.  God has always given me a reverence for his Creation.

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Also, I am Catholic.  While I would be one the last people to read Francis' document on the environment, it is Catholic Tradition that compels me to respect all God has given us in Nature.

The mountains, rivers, and streams.  The birds, butterflies, deer, fish, cats and dogs.  The majestic vistas, cool valleys, and mysterious caves.   The blue sky, the sun, the wind and rain, and the seasons of the year.  When I focus on the altar of sacrifice, it is not just the angels and saints I imagine looking down on it, or us believers gathered in a church to receive the Bread of Life, it is also the stars, the heavens, and all life on earth that is oriented there.

I hope I've made a compelling rhetorical case for my conviction that "global warming" is likely if not certainly a reality, at least something to think about.

Tell me what ya'll think in the comment box below.  Whether you are an Okie or not, a trad or not, or a Catholic or not.  This is my reaching out again on this little blog.

Friends, a blessed remainder of Lent.  May the crosses you are given during this season gain you a higher and more glorious place in heaven, where St. John says God will create a "New Earth" (Book of the Apocolypse).


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Breakin' My Lenten Penance

First, I made a penance not to blog during Lent.  Mitigating factos compel me to break the silence.

Second, since some personal trials of which more or less illuminated my conscience, I must confess I was at least in part imprudent and hurtful to make criticisms towards the new Tulsa bishop and certain priests of the diocese.  My angle was catalyzed by pride coupled with some self-serving desire for blog stats. While my goal was to call attention to what seems to be a dismanteling operation to undo the trad works of Bishop-Emeritus Slattery, there is a degree of culpability  in this which must enter the mind when making an Examination of Conscience before heading into the Confession booth.  When separating our criticism of the sin from criticism of the sinner, the line can get easily blurred.

Third, my health issues have take a turn in a somewhat more serious direction, so fellow friends, this post is about asking for prayers.  I'm functional, yet a weird pattern of symptoms have unfolded across my body in the last 7 weeks, which has been actually been more taxing to mental stability than to my physical contentment.  So while I heal--God willing, prayers--I'll chalk up my latest crosses as my Lenten penance and let this daily pleasure be a much needed balm for my mind.

As Laramie Hirsch always says, "Toodles!"

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Last Post 'Til Easter

Howdy fellow Okies, Okie Trads and Friends from Far and Near, wanted to let you know I'm givin' up blogging for Lent, which is a bit selfish to TBH, since it simultaneously curbs what has become at times addictive, while also serving as a Lenten penance.

Also please keep me in your prayers, as I'm recovering from a weird run of medical issues in the last several weeks-- seemingly serious but in the end minimal--that started with a Low Back Injury (which I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy), then a facial nerve compression from sleeping on my hand (which produces paresthesia) which thank God is healing and "fading away," a CT scan to rule out stroke (which it did!), oh and for good measure an MRI (a 30 minute purgatorial experience) from my family doc to verify an arachnoid cyst in my skull (which turns out I have, but probably since birth, these things being benign--thank the Good God and Divine Physician!!!).

My last health challenge is overcoming weeks of insomnia, i.e. for me trouble falling back to sleep due to these symptoms (+ worries).  Such has been my pre-Lent gauntlet, which I offer up in reparation for my own sins, for the grace to once and for all overcome my personal sins, and in the end I think to become a stronger man and Catholic for it, according to my state in life.  

So besides abstaining from blogging, then, I'll also be offering up the residual effects of these recent crosses in the next weeks to come.

Come Easter Vigil when we stand outside watching Father light the Easter fire, know I'll be prayin' for you all.  So, I'll be seein' you all in a few weeks, 40 days as it were.  We'll celebrate the Resurrection with a roasted pig and flowing wine, as signs of the renewal of our Christian soul!  Happy Fat Tuesday!

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Good Fruits of Summorum Pontificum

I was just watching a youtube video talk about the Mass given by a former Okie Trad from OKC, Fr. Justin Nolan, FSSP, who I knew back in the day visiting Clear Creek monastery before he entered the seminary.  This young priest is brilliant; last I heard he was headmaster at St. Gregory's boys school back in Pennsylvnia.



Someone in the audience asked if the Church was heading in the direction of every parish having a Latin Mass.  Fr. Nolan said Yes, he thinks there will be at least half of parishes with the traditional Mass, and asserted that half the priests in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia already say regular TLMs.


Folks, brace yourself!  Here's the current list!!!

https://www.arlingtondiocese.org/Catechetical-Resources/Worship-and-Prayer/Liturgy/Masses-in-the-Extraordinary-Form/

LINK



Holy Trinity Parish, Gainesville: Sundays at 12:30 p.m.



Saint Anthony Mission, King George: Sundays at 12:45 p.m.; Thursdays at 9 a.m.



Saint John the Apostle Parish, Leesburg: Sundays at 10:30 a.m. (in the Historic church).



Saint John the Baptist Parish, Front Royal: Sundays at 12:30 p.m.; Mondays at 7 a.m. in the Chapel; Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Contact the parish for more detail (540-635-3780)



Saint John the Beloved Parish, McLean: Sundays at noon; Mondays at 7:30 p.m. (Low Mass)



Saint Lawrence Parish, Alexandria: Sundays at 12:30 p.m.



Saint Mary Parish, Alexandria: Third Friday of each month at 7:30 p.m.



Saint Michael Parish, Annandale: Sundays at 7:00 a.m.



Saint Patrick Parish, Fredericksburg: Sundays at 1:30 p.m.



Saint Raymond of Penafort Parish, Springfield: First and third Fridays of each month at 7 p.m.



Saint Rita Parish, Alexandria: First Sundays of the month at 9:40 a.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Alt Right. My Opinion.

My friend and blogger colleague Laramie Hirsch is a decided die-hard Alt Righter.  For years he has followed Alt Right blogs and forums.  I have not.

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How to define what Alt Right is?  How much can traditional Catholics get involved in the Alt Right?


I'ts Saturday morning, and the caffeine from my morning coffee is setting in.  I'll be addressing these poignant questions in today's segment.


You'll be very hard pressed to get an Alt Right advocate to clearly explain what the Alt Right is, define it, list its specific ideals, especially it's positive goals and truths.  But I'll try and give my own fair take on what it is.


The Okie Traditionalist's Definition of the Alt Right!

The "Alt Right" is an ideology and socio-political movement, mainly on the internet, of websites, blogs, and forums, which opposes liberalism, neconservativism, multiculturalism, and globalism, while promoting a mainly caucasian European-American nationalism, return to foundations of Western Civilization, and restoration of the dignity of white men.
Can we get involved in this movement?

I think we can, but marginally at most.  There are good alt-right authors and principles, but in my observations this online phenomenon is riddled with serious problems, from the perspective of Catholic morality and Catholic teaching on race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc..  The Alt Right does not per se hold a Christian society as an ideal, as one of its central values.  Some may, but generally the ideology is not promoting a Christian society or world view.   It's conservativism is libertarian and nationalistic, but not "socially conservative."


Can there be a "traditional Catholic niche" within the Alt Right movement?  Hirsch thinks so, and is an advocate for the notion, God bless him.  But I remain skeptical.

What is the alternative?


As Catholics we must be political.  We must promote just government and a society that is based on Christian morality.  The Church says that.  How much we get involved in any political movement would depend on the proportion that movement is in conformity with this standard.


But I don't see the need for a loose "umbrella" which the Alt Right says it is, under which conservatives dwell, i.e. those who reject liberalism and neo-conservativism.   It's like Hans Solo walking into that bar with all the different exotic aliens.  So what if all sorts of species fit into the intergalactic Empire. Unless the "Empire" presents itself as a clearly definable, definite entity with a specific creed--and a creed that is in conformity with the true religion--then it comes across nonsensical to be seriously part of it.  Why not just be under the smaller umbrella of a more specific political movement?  In this case the Alt Right would be the Empire.  And it comes across as deliberately nebulous.


The alternative is simply to be a traditional conservative, and to support political movements, but not to become seriously committed to their ideology. Instead of shifting, man-made ideologies, the Church says to turn to doctrine, especially from the popes, on the Social Kingship of Christ, government, society, culture, etc.  Make the Catholic system the primary source of socio-political truth, and ultimate guide to navigating the waters of political movements like the Alt Right.





Thursday, February 16, 2017

On an SSPX Personal Prelature. My Argument.

A priest in the know told me that the documents giving final approval for the Society of St. Pius X as a Personal Prelature are sitting on the desk of Pope Francis, waiting for his signature.

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Meanwhile most pro-SSPX voices in the blogosphere right now are skeptical and unsupporting of the initiative.  I understand the arguments.  Pope Francis is arguably the most questionable pope in Church history. The Dubia of the 4 Cardinals has backed him into a corner; a first-step Formal Correction is expected. The modernists want to quarantine off the traditionalists, and one day snuff them us out.  The Society will face pressures to compromise under the threat of persecution.  But hear me out.

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The crux of the matter is the sine qua non requirement of the Society before it will sign: it must be admitted they have the right to publicly resist-criticize-clarify certain doctrinal errors in the documents of Vatican II and the text of the New Mass.  In other words they must be accepted AS IS.

The Vatican Prelate in charge of SSPX-Vatican negotiations recently stated that the Society's doctrinal positions (dubia) are in fact permissible, and not an impediment to their canonical regularization.  By the way, this one issue has been THE issue until now.  

The Vatican modernists who want to make the Pastoral Council an infallible super-dogma, and make Catholics blindly accept it--without actually catechizing them about it in the first place--have been holding Absolute Acceptance of all VII documents over the heads of the SSPX, under threat of excommunication.  Turns out their human ultimatum is not orthodox.  Admitting the pastoral statements in question are not infallible, and the SSPX (and I'd think the FSSP, etc) can in fact raise public objections would be a major paradigm shift, I'd think.  The question of the Vatican II Reform would become a more universal discussion.

Turns out that yes, Catholics can respectfully question non-infallible, pastoral statements, without being labelled schismatics, as theologians have done before over certain statements made by ecumenical councils.

Archbishop Lefebvre himself stated several times, even towards the end of his life after relations with Rome broke down, that he wanted an "Experiment of Tradition," his words, an experiment, as long as they were not required to compromise on doctrine, and could have their own bishop.  To try it.

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Flash forward 25+ years later, and the Superior General Bishop Fellay has achieved much more leverage and protection for the Society in relations with Rome.  The stigma of being backward for their attachment to the Tridentine Mass has at least been officially lifted with Summorum Pontificum, after which a Motu Proprio Latin Mass movement exploded worldwide, with many more priests and laity thinking along the lines of the SSPX and actually in support of it.  The doctrinal issues have been underlined and clarified as best as can be expected for now by the 2009-2011 SSPX-Vatican Doctrinal Commission.

And it was NEVER a sine qua non of ABL that modernist Rome must first convert back to Tradition, and that a normal state of the Church be restored.

So yes, I'm an SSPX Accordista, 100% in favor of trying a Personal Prelature ad experimentum.  Here's my top 10 reasons why I think it's a good idea.

Top 10 Reasons Why an SSPX Personal Prelature is a Good Idea:

1.  As Bishop Schneider recently stated, if Rome pressures the SSPX to compromise on their identity, they can resist to the point of pulling out of the Personal Prelature and continue as they have been since their illegal suppression in 1975.



Recent Interview of Bishop Athanasius Schneider about the SSPX Personal Prelature.  This is BRILLIANT.  A MUST WATCH.  Pop some Popcorn!

2. Every SSPX chapel, school, priory, etc already established on all the habitable continents (the international SSPX is huge by the way), would automatically be approved by Rome permanently within each individual diocese, with a permanent right to continue independent of the local bishop.

3. The head of the SSPX prelature would be a Bishop with jurisdictional authority over the laity who attend SSPX chapels, such that the laity are not compelled to attend Mass anywhere else than an SSPX chapel.  This would be laid out in the STATUTES of the prelature, in a very specific way that guarantees autonomy of the SSPX effectively as a "non-territorial diocese."  The key to the structure is the statutes, which by all reports has already been worked out.

4. The Archbishop always wanted an "Experiment of Tradition."  Some SSPX supporters may not know that the Archbishop insisted to his priests that they maintain relations with Rome and seek ordinary union with the pope, based on the doctrinal imperatives of unity with the Successors of St. Peter.  He was not a sedevacantist or stubborn separatist.

5. According to Bishop Fellay in a recent interview, the Bishop over the SSPX would be able to incardinate new religious orders under its umbrella.  That would not only include the MANY orders, monasteries, and convents already under the SSPX umbrella, but anytime a traditionalist order or priest gets evicted from a diocese, no worries, they can go under the SSPX. Mother Miriam, if you're reading, I hope you'd consider this option for your community recently severed from the Tulsa Diocese.

6. The SSPX will not allow itself to be quarantined off.  No, it is arguably the most evangelical force of traditional Catholicism in the world.  True, many of its members can tend to be insular, but its momentum has always been outward, pro-active, and international. I think that comes from the extraordinary apostolic spirit of the saintly missionary bishop who founded their society.  

Trouble is their irregular status has kept them in the dark in all dioceses.  Almost no Catholic in any diocese knows about the local SSPX chapel.  I can assure you, the canonically recognized SSPX will make sure Catholics in the diocese know they exist.  Imagine the many dioceses who would at least somewhat welcome them or authentically tolerate them, such that they have access to avenues in the diocesan structure such as the Diocesan Registry of parishes, Catholic conferences, priest meetings, diocesan March for Life, etc, etc, etc. The SSPX is crafty.  They have decades of experience knowing how to astutely navigate irregular settings.

7. A Prelature may mean a NEW phase for the Traditional Movement, increasing unity among traditionalists, which is greatly needed.  For example, while I know that your average FSSP priest will not preach against the New Mass from the pulpit, catch them after Mass and most will gladly tell you its dangers.  I'd wager a months wages most FSSP priests privately agree, for the most part, with Archbishop Lefebvre. 

Officially, part of the raison de faire of the FSSP was to bridge the SSPX back into normal union with Rome, but unofficially they are practically almost the same entity as the SSPX.  Decades of hostility can be addressed.  I predict that the canonically recognized SSPX will become the unofficial unifier for the traditionalist movement.  Many conservatives will shift to the right towards traditionalism, and many Ecclesia dei trads will gravitate more towards the SSPX.  

Its ironic how the "Francis Effect" is indirectly solidifying the traditional practice of the Faith, as opposed to the post-Vatican II apostasy.  

8. Truth be told, the irregular situation of the SSPX has partly created countless examples of bizarre weirdness in the Society.  Sit down after Mass with someone who's been with the Society for years, and they'll admit there are many extreme elements and extremely dysfunctional patterns in the Society. 

Bishop Fellay himself said this was one important reason to seek normalcy in the Church.  I'm talking about Catholics who lack foundational knowledge about the institutional Church, the life of a diocese or even a normal parish life.  I'd predict a small minority would resist this normalizing effect, and leave for "resistance" or sedevacantist chapels, but friends this experiment might make SSPX chapels more hospitable and inviting places to practice traditional Catholicism.

9. Our goal is not to form private clubs of self-enlightened traditionalists with gnostic knowledge about the Crisis.  Our aim is not merely to have our private experience of the Tridentine Mass and acquire a "sacrament machine" priest to hear confessions and offer a valid Mass.  Our spirit is not that of the synagogue, but that of the Catholic Church.  We must be actively trying to bring all novus ordo Catholics to Catholic Tradition, which means to the True Mass at our chapels and parishes.  The TLM is not a mere liturgical preference for a private group of Gregorian chant/Latin nerds who want conservative liturgy.  A Prelature would communicate to the world more loudly than ever the reality of the traditional Mass/Faith.

10. All the conditions for an Agreement, as stipulated by Archbishop Lefebvre, and even more strictly by Bishop Fellay, HAVE FINALLY BEEN MET.  All that is left is our prayers and Francis signing the Canonical Recognition.

Friends, I'm not trying to jerk around the Naysayers against this agreement.  As an active supporter of the Society of St. Pius X for over 10 years now, I am simply stating the reality of what is about to happen, and advocating for us to support this initiative for the good of the Church and the Society.