Monday, May 19, 2008

Beauty, Subjectivism, and Liturgical Music

I posted on Fr. Rob's blog here. He's fairly well known in the blogosphere, and someone I hold in great esteem. I hope he doesn't find me or what I said uncharitable. I guess I just object to the idea that some specific things are, uhmmm, objective. Ooops. Didn't mean for it to come out quite like that.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's National Ride Yer Bike to Work Day!

As part of National Ride Your Bike to Work Week, sandwiched into National Bike Month, today is National Ride Your Bike to Work Day. I'm one of two folks who do it ever at my office out of maybe 300-400 people here. It was a beautiful day. And of course, my front tire was flat. Unfortunately, one of my front dropouts was crimped in the time it was at the shop. That means that it's not fun to pull the wheel out. And the tire that I had on had a crack in it (it was old) and of course, it wasn't that easy to get off. So off to find a tire lever. And then patch the tube, put on a new tire, and then I was ready to ride. I got about a mile before I noticed something with my cleats. They felt like they were giving or stretching at the bottom of my pedal stroke. So I pulled over and sure enough, the left plate that holds the cleat on was cracked down the middle. I had to use my hand to yank my shoe out when I got here. Oh, and my phone that uses Bones in Motion to track all my miles? It has this bad habit of dying at random. I thought it needed a software upgrade, so I got that last week, but no, it still dies. Usually in my pocket. Like today. So now that I'm in this competition at work, most of this morning's miles don't count.
Yuck. It's like I have to just enjoy cycling for its own sake.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Almost had a terrific blow-out today.

A few months ago, I got a set of Mr. Tuffy tire liners. My Panaracer Stradius tires were fairly inexpensive and, with a very soft center, are prone to cuts. But they are rated up to 150 psi, which makes me and my 250 lb butt feel just a bit more safe out there. The tire liners go inside the tire between the tire and the tube. When I would inflate the tire up to 120-130 psi though, it felt like it was sliding a bit on turns. Yes, I think I was feeling the tire liner slide against the tire or the tube, I don't think I was imagining it. When I would pump it up to 140 or 145, where I normally had it, it felt fine. This morning I got out the bike to ride to work and noticed a small line in one sidewall of the tire, all the way around. They're red, but this line was clearly black with the threads of the sidewall showing. The only thing I can attribute it to was the additional thickness of the liner. Maybe if I had kept the tire pressure a bit lower I would have been OK. A quick tire change took care of it. Can you imagine what kind of catastrophic tire failure I could have had on the way to work? Nice. I'm going to check on the tire tonight, maybe I can still use it. Probably not. The thing was only $18 or so and I had spare new tires laying around so I'm not too upset. Glad I caught it in time. You have been warned.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hagee is NOT a Hater!

So when John Hagee endorsed John McCain a while back, some Catholics really got upset. Hagee has previously said some things about the Church that are just not pleasant to hear. Mainly the issue comes with a You Tube video here. Feh. You can read all kinds of misunderstanding of Catholicism in it but it's not terribly overt. He also stated in a book, well, I can't say I've read it. But Bill Donahue quotes it as saying "In Hagee’s latest book, Jerusalem Countdown, he calls Hitler a Catholic who murdered Jews while the Catholic Church did nothing. ‘The sell-out of Catholicism to Hitler began not with the people but with the Vatican itself,’ he writes." (Google books doesn't show any previews available on the Internets, so I can't really check it.)
So then Donahue goes out and asks John McCain to tell Hagee he's bad and that he doesn't want to look bad so please shush up about all the endorsement stuff. Hagee fires back that he's not Anti-Catholic, he supports elderly nuns and all that. Then today the Catholic League publishes a letter from Hagee apologizing and saying "Them Catholics ain't Anti-Semites. That whole Whore of Babylon thing doesn't mean the Catholic Church, 'cos they'll all be gone bye-bye with the whole rapture thang." OK, it's not a direct quote. You can see the letter, complete with signature here. And Donahue makes a clear statement that "Hey! We're good now, K?" I just wonder how much of this was for McCain. As he's a Protestant, I think Hagee couldn't give a flying flip about what Bill Donahue thinks. But what the potential Pres? That might give him pause.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New clip-in shoes for the 10 year-old

OK, so the team spotted my 10 year-old some really nice SIDI shoes. Then they spotted my older son a team bike. So I turned around his bike and set it up for her this weekend and got her trying out shoes and pedals. For the non-cyclist folks, riders use special shoes with cleats that clip into pedals. They enable you to not only push down, but pull up on the pedals. They also enable you to push forward (like you're putting on boots) and pull through (like you're scraping mud off your shoe). But you have to learn to un-clip them, otherwise you fall down when you stop. We took off for a short ride up to the local community college. Along the way, we cut across a field and a parking lot. At the gravel in between, there was a bunch of sand. Sand is bad for skinny tires, especially when you are a gnat-weight, especially when you have very little experience with riding. Note the road rash on the knee in the picture. She's fine. She whined a bit at first (OK, quite a bit) but after a while she was fine. She eventually tried to attack her brother and I a couple of times (that's a cycling attack, it's legal, and encouraged). If she can harness that anger, she will go far in this sport.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Triumph of Orthodoxy over Orthopraxy, Part II

Long overdue, I know. I have started and stopped more than once because I want to get this right and I find that I am doing more venting and ranting that right writing. Plus I'm getting very sensitive to the fact that my theology education ended after a whopping two undergrad courses at St. Mary's in San Antonio. One of which was nothing more than a Catholic version of Warm Fuzzies 101.

For proper disclosure, please note my previous post.
OK, let's be clear, orthodoxy ain't such a bad thing. It implies, in this context, right theology, true theology, or a pure belief. Without it, orthopraxy dissolves into "what feels right," or trial-and-error outcome. For instance orthodoxy is what vouchsafes for us that Scripture is true, inerrant, and the very Word of God, so this shouldn't be construed as a diatribe against dogma or doctrines. Rather it's about balance. Orthodoxy without orthopraxy becomes a dry religion, a Holy Algebra (Professor X referred to a "Jesus Logarithm" espoused by some Baptist seminary professors in a conversation a while back, so it's not just a Catholic phenomenon). Many folks accuse Catholicism of being a dead ritual instead of an experience with the Living God, and I think that they are seeing a flaw. Not to the degree of the accusation, but definitely a flaw.

In Catholic circles, I really see this in the way folks deal with teenagers. I can't say that I'm the expert that I used to think I was on Youth Culture, but I know better than to expect random kids at a Catholic Church to give a rat's patootie about Transubstantiation vs. Consubstantiation, how to pray the Angelus, or who the Theotokos refers to and how it defends against Nestorianism. And while all these things are important, they really are, they are all aspects of finer points of theology and history. None of them are vital for salvation. All of them lead adults to lament "But these kids don't know their Faith." Of course they don't. Why should they? Until they see that there's a value to them, there's no reason for them to invest themselves. Calculus is important as well, it's how we design wings that keep aircraft aloft and most kids don't know which side of the wing is the leading edge. Not unless you tell them that they have to design a wing to keep themselves aloft does calculus take on a life-changing dimension. Sometimes it's a matter of Catholicism being a cultural value instead of a living relationship with God. And for parents who have grown up "in the faith" but never invested themselves into the call that God has for them, never sensed what they were rescued from, there's little zeal.

I see it in many Catholic's attitudes toward Protestant ideas. When discussing Religious Education materials with folks as a Youth Minister, I was questioned over using Group Publishing, a Non-Denominational Christian Publisher. "That's not Catholic, can we do that?" While it's important to note that one's understanding and formation would be stunted if it were restricted to the Group Active curriculum (circa 1994), there was the understanding that the only place to find Authentically Catholic Theology of Any Sort is in something from a Catholic Publishing House. I know there's always a danger of a Catholic-Evangelical-Fundamentalist syncretism, it's something to look for, but when looking at what Group put out there vs. what certain Catholic publishing house put out at that time, it was no contest. Group had their act together. RCL, Silver Burdett Ginn, and Benziger (they're all the same house now) just didn't. Sadlier didn't. St. Mary's Press didn't. All of them had come from the wrong paradigm. They took a Catholic School text book and tried to shoe-horn it into a one-hour per week format. It still ends up being a school experience. It rarely ends up being life-changing. Kids might learn the trappings and accoutrement of faith, but somehow meeting the Author of Faith was always something left for those "primary catechists," or, as I like to call them, "parents. " Now I've been out of YM and RE for a while so to be fair, maybe stuff has changed a bit. I still doubt it. Something that was getting traction when I was leaving YM was the idea that "Our curriculum is now REALLY teaching the Catechism, better than yours, in fact." And while they could now link back their theology to specific paragraphs in the Catechism, they still had a sucky product. It was based around the idea of kids getting together and reading. "How does that make you feel?" "Uhhh, like I'm in school." Orthodoxy was catered to, Orthopraxy is ignored.

Side note -- To create a successful program, you don't have to water anything down, you don't have to make it X-TREME!!!! You just have to make it authentic, authentic to the truths of Faith, and authentic to your own story and to the story of everyone involved. Don't use a book, if you can. If you need to, send them home with a book, and a good one at that.(If that sounds a bit like Thomas Groome, that's probably true to form, although his textbooks fell into the same trap and he's a bit of a nutter Catholic. A case for Orthopraxy screaming for Orthodoxy if you ask me.)

Autism: It's your Mom's fault.

Austim linked to parent's schizophrenia, depression, personality disorders.

The oldest stereotype in Psychology is, "It's all you mother's fault." They used to blame ADD on "infant head trauma." Yeah, your mom dropped you on your head when you were a baby, it's her fault. "Tell me about yur mudder," in a thick German accent is about as stereotypical psycho-babble as you can get. Not that they ain't right on this, just that Autism technically requires a diagnosis at a young age (like < 3?). So that means that when parents are asking "Why is this happening to our child," doctors are going to say "Well, tell me about your depression/personality disorder. Do you hear voices in your head? Because this Autism, it's all your fault."