Sunday, October 29, 2017

5 things Catholics Want Protestants to Understand about the Reformation

The 500 year anniversary of the Reformation begins on October 31st.  I've read many a thing trying to justify the celebration of this day, but here's what I want those who celebrate it to understand.

1) It's bad Biblically speaking.

Jesus actually sort of predicted or forewarned that Christians would split.  It's in the Bible in John 17:20-23 where he prays fervently that all believers are one.  The Reformation was the beginning of such a split.  No one should be celebrating that. Even if you think the reforms were a good thing, splitting apart should never be justified. Ever.

2) Martin Luther was not a hero.

There's a lot of controversy surrounding Luther, but in the end Luther embraced the reforms and turned his back on the Church.  That's not heroism.  A hero would be someone like St. Ignatius of Loyola who also reformed the Church but from within.

3) There were already reforms.

There were reforms before and there were reforms after and still continue to be reforms.  The Church does correct those of the faithful.  This isn't new and it wasn't new then.  Just open up an Epistle from St. Paul.  He was chastising believers left and right for their corruptions.  It's disingenuous to hinge reforms on Luther.  He wasn't the only one.  He just became larger than life due to the political climate of the time.  And rather than actively fight to stop the separation, he seems to have embraced it.   So if your wondering, would there have not been reforms if not Luther, the answer would be yes.  There were already reforms before he said anything, but it's a slow process.  It's not like now where we can follow the Pope on twitter.

4) Why are you still protesting?

The biggest question of the day is why are you still protesting?  What is there to protest? Why didn't people return back in droves?  The point of the Reformation, I thought, was to reform the Catholic Church.  But instead people left the Church, so again what exactly are you protesting or reforming?

5) Catholic want Ecumenism.

Rather than allowing things to go, Catholic actively strive to bring back so called protestors/reformers whole sale.  This is why we've had numerous dialogue with Lutherans and even have made a path for Anglicans to return.  What steps have Protestants made to rejoin the Church? Why haven't they?

So now you understand why Catholics morn the Reformation.  We see it as a forced split of which people still won't cross the divide.  Come back.  I'll gladly celebrate Reconciliation Day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cultural Appropriation and AllHallowTide

So I got a call today. It was a staff member at one of schools I put in information to for substitute teaching.  The public school hasn't gotten back to me yet but they've put me through the ringer of background checks.  Meanwhile this school, which is parochial, didn't even give me an interview. I didn't even meet with the principal. They haven't even had me fill out any paper work.  Not even a W2.

So as you can imagine I was procrastinating at home, when my phone goes off. I hadn't put together a lunch.  I hadn't forewarned the kids' school that this may be happening.  I hadn't even told my kids because I didn't know for sure that anyone would call.  I thought that the call was "hey, we're going to add your name to list. Just making sure."  But that didn't happen. Common courtesy, people! I would think as a person running a school you would at least meet the person in person before saying "show up and work."  I don't even know what the school looks like.  I've only ever been to the gym and the office.  And finally, if I had a kid at this school, I would be alarmed that the principal invited someone she's never talked about the job with to work.  What if they are weird?  What if they teach false doctrines? Okay. Okay. I'm getting a little too over-the-top there.  We've met before at a retreat so she may remember me from that.  Still doesn't make me a great teacher based on what little she knows.

So yeah, I had to say no.  And I feel torn about it.  Part of me is like "finally a job!" and the other part is like "family obligations come first and this was way too soon of notice."

Anywho...let's take our minds off that for a bit. K?



One of the big buzz phrases around today is Cultural Appropriation.  You can read all the articles talking about not or do wear Moana costumes for Halloween.  I'm not going to talk about that.  My oldest wants to be a zombie from Plants vs. Zombies and the youngest has said he wants to be Batman.  So I've got no real dog in the fight unless you think dressing up as a rich person is cultural appropriation.

No, I'm going to talk about the every popular myth of "Halloween has pagan roots" and bust it...Myth Buster Style.

First the myth...the myth is that Halloween happened because Catholics or the Catholic Church appropriated Samhain and made it into their own holiday.

Now the history....Samhain is a Celtic pagan holiday.  It's only found in Ireland.  No other ancient pagans had Samhain. Samhain is a celebration of the beginning of winter. It occurs on November 1st.

Catholics started celebrating saints first with martyrs, but then we had an awful lot of martyrs in the beginning so some bishops starting having a general day to celebrate all the various martyrs and eventually the rest of the saints.  Eventually it became common to have that day in May after the Pascha.  Eastern Christians still celebrate that day.

When the British missionaries arrived in Ireland, they had an All Saints Day.  It was in April.  Missionaries started arriving before the 5thc.

Centuries later (700s) Pope Gregory III opened a special chapel dedicated to All Saints. He set up a feast day for November 1st.  There doesn't appear to be any connection between Pope Gregory III moving All Saints to November and suppressing Samhain. I doubt very much that a Syrian Pope living in Italy centuries later had to worry about suppressing Samhain enough to move All Saint's Day. I think he was just copying what others had done prior to him.  There are some notable Catholic people who had some sort of Saint celebration on November 1st.  None of them were connected to British missionaries or the Celts as far as I can tell either.

So you see, All Saints Day doesn't have any pagan roots. Once we laid down the foundation for the Holy Day it was only a matter of time when All Soul's Day was also put on the calendar.  Halloween, which means All Hallow's Eve, is basically like Christmas Eve but for All Saints.  Put down your Harry Potter. Hallows means Saints.

But that was then, this is now, and we culturally appropriate.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Cultures including Catholicism have always appropriated symbols.  Going around dressed up in costumes and asking for treats dates back to the 16th c, but has roots in the middle ages where it was common to go ask for Soul Cakes.  The dressing up part was adopted from pagan practices of disguising yourself, but people of today don't really do that for that reason anymore.  Catholics these days typically encourage their children to dress up as their favorite saint as a way to Christianize an otherwise de-paganized custom.  The scary themes, while most likely are rooted in the warding off bad spirits in pagan mythos, can also be used as a reminder of scariness of hell and the need for salvation.  This is why numerous Protestant groups have made hell houses as opposed to haunted houses.

So in summary, no All Saints Day doesn't have pagan roots even if it appropriated pagan customs centuries later.  It's its own holiday with it's own historical line.  And as I've said before, there's only 365 days in a year.  There's bound to be overlap.

And yes, I know I've said Halloween has pagan roots. That's just poor wording on my part. I meant that the secular customs of trick-or-treating and whatnot have pagan roots.  That's because of cultural appropriation. All Saints Day itself doesn't originate from pagans.  It's not a pagan holiday. I know that I've also said that.  So I hope that clears that right up because I know when I re-read stuff from 7 or 5 years ago I was like "whaaaa....did you write."  Sometimes my stuff was good back then and sometimes my stuff was...not.  Keep in mind that I have a 7 year old and a 5 year old.  I probably wasn't firing with all pistons.  I'm probably still not. I'm sure my future self would like to further edit this post.  Sorry, future self.

Next up, a post about the 500 year Anniversary of the Reformation.  Not that you really need or want more of those.  But yeah.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Being Raised Nominally or Minimally Catholic

There is confusion over whether Melania Trump is Catholic. She's married to the the twice divorced business man turned reality tv star turned president. President Trump is himself minimally/nominally Christian.  It doesn't appear that she is herself very devote, but then again none of us are privy to her private life.  She has said though that she is Catholic.

It is also believed that her lack of strong devotion is that she was raised nominally Catholic. And this should be something to be sympathetic about. Of course being a grown up, she needs to educate herself.  Again, not privy to her private life so maybe she is.  But the sympathy is that it is hard being raised that way.

Here's why:

Editor's note: These are in no way meant to be criticisms of my parents merely examples of my own personal upbringing.  As I say at the end, there are many children who are raised this way. I wish all parents were perfect, but they are not. This is all the more reason why other adults need to be available and serve in the Church to fill in these gaps. If anything, the message is to be sympathetic to those who were not raised with strong values and a strong faith.  Teach them; don't despise them.

1) No teachers:
My parents were not particularly firm about me learning anything about Catholicism.  When I was very young, my father taught me one prayer.  I was put into religious education, but it was sporadic and often because I asked to go.  To be fair the reason why my religious education was sporadic was because those who were the Director of CCD (it's now called religious education).  They were inept themselves and my mother felt it better that I not go.  But then I didn't get much of an education either.  Thus I learned about indulgences (that they still are around) and sacrificial penances (outside of giving up candy for Lent) as an adult.  Nobody told me. Not even when I was a teenager and joined youth group.

2) Limited graces:
You get graces from attending the sacraments. I had to ask to go to Mass.  My understanding of the Eucharist was basic. Until I was an adult, I attended the Sacrament of Penance once and that was when it was my first time. I was home schooled for that sacrament and Holy Eucharist, and my mom did an okay job about Holy Eucharist.  I don't remember being prepared for the Sacrament of Penance at all, and I think my mom, due to to inept Directors, was also ill prepared for when it was to happen.  Basically nobody ever took me again and I didn't understand it well enough to even ask.

3) No role models:
I learned about celebrating your Name Day and Baptismal Day as an adult. I learned about Holy Days of Obligation when I was a teenager. Youth group and a car help. But I never went to Mass as a child on those days. We never talked about saints. I remember getting a Bible for Christmas one year because I asked for one. We didn't really read or discuss Bible stories. We never prayed together in my house. Not even over dinner. I learned the rosary at my grandmother's funeral. I was almost 10. I didn't even know what it was or what it was called. Although I saw a scapular and rosary beads, I hadn't clue what they were for. My parents also let me go to other Christian services with friends as a child, which confused me even more. Crackers and grape juice anyone? 😅

 4) You have to advocate for yourself.
You hear the stories of the children who hate going to church or religious education. Mine are a bit that way too.  But then you hear those rare stories of the children who have to advocate for themselves.  I was blessed in that parents indulged me, but I had to ask.  It's something I have to tell my own students. "You can't drive yourselves, but you have to ask someone to take you.  That's your obligation." I feel for those who are being raised nominally/minimally Catholic but ignore or seemingly lack the drive to advocate for themselves.  They go through the sacraments and that's it.  They go to Mass on Christmas and Easter and that's it.  This is why people are leaving in droves.  Unless you have parents who push you, you are more likely to fall away.  I have no idea where that self-advocacy came from.  And I was not perfect about it. My friend talked me into youth group when he learned that I was Catholic too.

It's hard being brought up this way.  I wasn't the only one either. Two of my friends in youth group, including my friend who talked me into it, were also raised nominally Catholic. This was due to divorce and mixed marriage situations.  My one friend didn't live with her dad, the Catholic, and as she put it neither her mother nor her step-dad were Catholic. She was doing it more on her own than I was who at least had nominally Catholic parents at home.

So when you think of Melania Trump or other people who were raised or are being raised minimally or nominally Catholic, keep them in their prayers. It's a big heavy cross.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hypotheticals and Intrinsic Value of Humans

Hello again. It's been a while. I've been a bit busy. Got my substitute teaching license and turned in paper work. Now I'm just waiting for the next steps in this whole "getting a job" process.

Yesterday on twitter a pro-abortionist/pro-choicer who has written some science fiction novels posted a hypothetical situation in which he tried to "gotcha" pro-lifers.  He claimed that his hypothetical is novel, but it's really not.  He also claimed that it puts pro-lifers in a bind except that it doesn't.  Ben Shapiro did a great job explaining in two formats no less why this hypothetical falls short.



and if you'd rather read http://www.dailywire.com/news/22360/pro-abortion-fanatic-presented-thought-experiment-ben-shapiro

While the thought experiment was a miserably bad one, it highlighted one very important thing. Pro-abortionists do not believe in the intrinsic value of human beings. 

Intrinsic value is a philosophical concept.  It's one that's shared by religious and secular humanists alike. Secular humanists stop at where the concept emanates from (God, it comes from God), but they understand the concept.  It's also enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.

So what is intrinsic value? From a philosophical point of view, it's that a thing, person, or animal has value in and of itself.  Basically because you are a person, you have value regardless.

Extrinsic value is assigning value from the outside.  My family and friends have greater extrinsic value to me than a stranger does.  A fully-abled man has more extrinsic value to the work force than an elderly one.  So on and so forth.

Extrinsic value has no weight on the intrinsic value of a person.  Please re-read that.  I can say that my husband has more extrinsic value than your husband does to me, but that does not limit or define that your husband and my husband both have equal intrinsic value. 

What does this have to do with abortion?  Loads.  The justification for abortion comes from viewing all human worth as being extrinsic value.  An unborn baby is only valuable if someone (usually the mother) has assigned it this value according to the pro-abortion crowd.  So when this hypothetical situation was proposed it was proposed on this premise.  Except I don't know of anyone who does not acknowledge the concept of extrinsic value. 

The glaring issue with the hypothetical is all it proves is that pro-abortionists don't see the concept of intrinsic value while pro-lifers do.  If there is a "gotcha" to this hypothetical it's that pro-abortionists sit in good company with slave masters, racists, eugenicists, and sexists who all can't see the intrinsic value in human beings.

Pro-lifers in contrast acknowledge that because all humans have intrinsic value therefore we cannot take a human life.  This doesn't mean that we will treat everyone extrinsically the same. I'm sorry. My responsibility is to taking care of my own children before taking care of someone else's.  Self-preservation is perfectly fine.  And so on. 

This is why the fire hypothetical falls short.  I'm not throwing embryos or 5 year olds into a fire. I'm not setting a building on fire in order to murder people either. It's not a moral equivalent to murder at all.  Whereas abortion is always always always wrong because it's taking the life of someone of intrinsic value. 

Objectively abortion is always wrong. Always. Subjectively assigning extrinsic value does not change that objectively humans have intrinsic value.  Why can't pro-abortionists acknowledge this? Just be honest. It's objectively murder. It's seeing that other humans have less value. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Dyslexia?

My dad has dyslexia.  He's the only family member that I know of that does.  He's not sure if he was ever formally diagnosed but back in the day he remembers his teacher telling his parents that he was dyslexic.  My father started 1st grade at 4.5.  Re-read that.  There was no kindergarten when he was a child so he started in 1st grade and then because he was dyslexic and having a hard time he repeated the 1st grade.

Fast forward and my youngest child is struggling in language.  Oh, he's great with math and numbers.  He can create mind boggling things out of stuff from my recycling bin.  But learning his letters or remembering words is a struggle of epic proportions. 

Not only is he speech delayed, but he can learn a letter only to "lose" it the following week when a new one is added.  He also struggles to read.  He's been put into the special reading lab to help youngsters catch up.  And we work on these concepts daily.  Daily.  We also read every night and have since he was born.

But he can't see to hold those abstract concepts in his head.  That's what his teachers think anyway.  He's almost 6 though and they are worried that it could be something like dyslexia.  For now it's too soon to give him a diagnostic.  Most of the kindergarten tests are based on auditory skills.  He hears just fine and like his mother, is most comfortable there.  They don't start the visual testing until 1st grade.

So in the meantime, we keep plugging along and trying to make the abstract concept of 'the' as concrete for his brain as possible. 

And yes, I realize the irony.  My oldest child learned his letter complete with sounds when he was 3 and moved onto reading at age 4.  My youngest knows a handful of letters and he's almost 6.  They go at different paces and have different struggles.  I should point out that my oldest has behavioral problems, which he's improved a great deal on, while my youngest received the Building Blocks Award for this month for his class.  Building blocks is having good character ie behavioral traits. We just go with it.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Yes, I'm titling this post after a Nirvana song. No, I'm not going to talk about Nirvana, song lyrics, or Kurt Cobain.  I'm going to talk about deodorant.  Despite Cobain not realizing it when he titled his song, Teen Spirit is a brand of antiperspirant.  If you were a teen in the 1990s, you would remember the popularity of this particular brand.  I'm also going to talk about stink and armpits.  Let's dive in, shall we.

What is deodorant?

A deodorant is a substance that prevents odor.  People don't actually cause this odor.  We sweat and bacteria living on the surface of our skin break down our sweat.  The bacteria causes the odor that we smell.  This is why small prepubescent children smell different than adults because some bacteria are more attracted to our hormones that we also secrete.  In other words, they produce a different smell.  You can tell when a child is going through puberty by the change in body odor.

What is an antiperspirant?

It's a type of deodorant, but a very specific type.  It's used to block your pores from sweating.  The most common substance in an antiperspirant is aluminum.  There's a great deal of controversy over whether using aluminum to essentially stop up your pores causes cancer.  Specifically certain types of breast cancer.

Regardless of whether antiperspirant does or not, I get a little leery of changing an important body function because I'm trying to avoid the body funk.  Humans need to sweat in order to cool off their bodies.  And I live in the desert Southwest where it reaches high temperatures and it's real common for people to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  It's even written into our laws that businesses must provide free drinking water (even if it's just a fountain) to any person and that all land lords are required to have a cooling unit for their tenancy (heat isn't required).  So I want my pits to sweat.  I'd rather smell than die.

I don't want to smell even if I want to sweat...

I'm with you there.  It has landed me on a several month long journey to find something that works for me.  Something that allows me to sweat but not make my husband what to move away from me.  So here's how it works.  I'm avoiding the antiperspirants that block you from sweating and looking closely at how other deodorants work.  The vast majority of plain deodorants put a layer between your skin and the bacteria that eat your sweat.  And some also mask the smell with fragrance.



Deodorant #1 (not pictured):
The first deodorant I tried I made myself.  I used a combination of baking soda, which absorbs odor, coconut oil, which naturally kills bacteria, and essential oil, which masks the smell.

Verdict:
Well, my husband frowned about it, but after trying several others, he likes this one better.  The downside is that coconut oil has a low melting temperature.  This is great for being absorbed into your skin, but bad if you live in my climate.  I was having to keep my concoction in the refrigerator in order to keep it solid.  It's also bad if you are easily irritated by baking soda.  Thankfully, I am not.  So if you live in a colder climate and blessed without that baking soda irritation, then making your own probably will work well for you.

Deodorant #2: Crystal Body Deodorant
This particular brand uses mineral salts as it's main ingredient in it's products.  You can buy it in the mineral stick form that you wet, a spray, or a roll on.  I choose the roll on.  It's main ingredients are water, potassium alum (mineral salt), cellulose (plant material), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda for all you Americans), benzoic acid, and zinc gluconate.  I got the fragrance free version.

Verdict:
It doesn't work well.  My husband said I smelled.  And I was forced to reapply it multiple times a day (and night) which dried out my skin and thus irritated it.  That said many people have said they get good results for using mineral salts as a natural deodorant.  It just didn't work for me and whatever bacteria that I manage to attract.

Deodorant #3: Schmidt's Deodorant in a glass jar with plastic top
Schmidt's is becoming really popular and I've found this brand in several of my local health food stores.  The kind I got comes in a jar but you can also find it in a stick form.  I also once again chose fragrance-free.  You may be wondering why.  I figure if the fragrance-free version of these natural deodorants works well than the fragrance version probably will work well.  Fragrances can mask smelly odor, and I'm looking for something that will stop it in it's tracks without the need to mask.  I don't want something that will make me smell like a combo of body funk and lavender.  Ew!

The ingredients are: Shea butter, arrowroot powder, which similar to baking soda absorbs odor, baking soda, cacao seed butter, and vitamin E

Verdict:
Hubby has not complained yet, but that may be because he's given up on me.  I think it works great.  There's a little plastic scooper that you put the product on and then you rub it into your skin (which I find works best if you use your fingers like the label says).  The melting temperature is higher so I can leave the product where I keep all my other beauty stuff.  It's also not irritating because I don't have to constantly apply it, and it has lots of natural ingredients commonly found in lotions/butter creams.

The next deodorant I want to try is from a company called Meow Meow Tweet, but so far I'm liking the Schmidt's and may try one of their fragrance versions.

So there you go.  It wasn't so disgusting was it.  Also none of these products were given to me for review.  I bought them trying to find a good solution to my body odor issue.  If you stuck around this long I wanted to introduce you to the very addictive Darci on youtube.  She's a mother of 10! and is into minimizing her life with simple products.  Here's two videos below: One is about beauty products and the other about armpits (don't worry it's not that painful).





Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What Autism is Not

A few weeks ago, my son's therapist, who is also on the spectrum, mentioned that she's seen a shift in dialogue on the internet.  In the past people used to say "retarded" as a barb to mean that someone is stupid or unintelligent.  She said she witnessed someone saying autism in the same manner.  As in "you're so autistic."  Naturally it bothered her.  She's autistic and clearly she's not stupid.

I'm not really surprised. People use language like that all the time. Retarded is a medical term, but it's been turned into a nasty word so much so that I'm sure someone is going to tell me to stop using it even though in this context I'm not using it derogatorily.

I fear that using the word "autism" may be headed in the same direction as using "gay" is. In one context, using "gay" is fine and in another you're essentially telling a person that the they are too effeminate.

The problem, though, is that I can see that people truly believe that being autistic means you are stupid or have a lower IQ.  So let me clarify this for you...

Being autistic is like being neurotypical.  It doesn't necessarily mean that your IQ is any higher or any lower than the average.  Autistics aren't necessarily savants or have intellectual disabilities.  It's not even classified as an intellectual disability even though IQ tests are weird for people on the spectrum, but that's because they aren't designed for people on the spectrum either.

Likewise I ended up correcting an autistic person over twitter who characterized being autistic as having a "mental disability" or a mental disorder.  A mental disability is depression or schizophrenia.

Autism is a developmental disorder.  Basically it means you have it from birth and you develop skills at a slower rate.  That's it.  You aren't insane and you aren't unintelligent.  It's something else which is why it has it's own characteristics which fall into a spectrum disorder.

Most recently I read someone saying that people with autism have a low EQ or emotional quotent.  That's not true either.  Autistics aren't vegetables.  They feel things.  They also recognize when someone else is feeling something too, but they may not be able to identify what that is.  They may not also be able to respond with typical emotions either.

Let me give you an example: My son gets in trouble at school.  He gets called out by the teacher in class.  He is feeling scared because he's not sure exactly what the teacher will do (send him out of the classroom or move his clip etc).  He's also embarrassed because his classmates realize that he's messed up (again).  So how does he react?  Does he lower his head?  Cower under his desk?  Cry?

Nope. My son looks you in the face and smiles.

His teachers take that to mean that he is proud of his mistake or doesn't care, and he gets chastised more for it.  They don't bother to ask him how he feels and make assumptions of him even though they know that he's autistic (that's the frustrating part and the one I want people to walk away from here).

He is reacting.  He does care.  He's not a robot.  He feels things acutely.  So if you know someone who is autistic and they don't react or react differently than you'd expect: TALK TO THEM!

I know my son well enough to tell when he's upset, angry, happy, scared, etc.  But that's because I've lived with him since birth and just know him that well.  I don't however assume that I can guess the same thing of other autistics.  Most autistics that I know will be happy to tell you what they feel because they are tired of being misread or told that they don't feel at all.  They want you to know and they welcome telling you because you're probably the first person whose bothered to ask them instead of assuming.  It isn't considered rude or impolite.

So there you go. Spread the word. #autismawareness