About that sweet ‘lil prostitute next door . . .

She doesn’t want to be there.  One of the most offensive and pernicious lies in the film industry are those “cheerful prostitute” characters.  It’s all well and good to write nuanced characters.  But the whole happy-whorehouse thing isn’t just cheap tricks for lazy writers who can’t think up real stories.  It’s the glamorization of something that, if it happened to you, would destroy your whole world.

***

I will spare you the thought exercises, since I try to keep this blog shiny clean.  But don’t tempt me.  I’m a writer, and that means I can make you see things you didn’t want to see.  Just go ahead right now and throw into the trash every DVD you own that perpetuates that lie.  And change the channel, forever, if you see it on TV. Thanks.

 

Small Success Thursday: Not Too Much Jesus

 

Small Success Thursday

1. I’ve been tired lately, mostly because that’s the way my life is.  The first thing that goes is the prayer life, because of excuses:

(a) Tired = willpower AWOL

(b)  The things that make me tired (= my life) are always happening during the times I had planned to pray

(c) Or else tired = sleeping in = whole day thrown off = forget it, too late

(d) and of course the “I just forgot” problem.

So the solution was to buy a new book.  This one.  Which I was resisting valiantly until some knowledgeable person went and said I needed to learn what was in it.  She was right.

It arrived a few days ago, but remember, tired, so I didn’t really succeed at anything until this morning.  Wow.

I sorta kinda new how different it was to sing the psalms than to say them, but no, I didn’t really.

Zowie.

2. I’m pretty sure I’m doing it wrong, by the way.  I can’t sight read, and for various reasons the only instrument I had on hand was my daughter’s thumb piano, which means, if you are me, you have to give your best guess on anything that straddles Do.  And thumb pianos make me so confused anyway.  But even doing it wrong . . . what a difference.  Slower, though, but I didn’t mind that.  I even mostly paid attention to the words, which is an improvement.

3. I am not using #3 to complain about anything.

4. I turned in my column for New Evangelizers that is supposed to run one week from today.  It is not about Thanksgiving, so maybe my trusty editor will flip it around with another post.  Or maybe people want to spend Thanksgiving reading what I have to say about the Mass and church-n-stuff.  The thing you need to know:

I linked to Katie O’Keefe’s article about the Christmas Carols & Advent Hymns.

You should go ahead and look at that now.  She even tells you the difference between a hymn and a carol.  I didn’t know that before.

5. If I were to sum up my Theory of Leadership it would be this: Do the things people ask you to do.  I’m puzzled that people keep wanting to meet for the discipleship group, even on busy weeks when we also have a Bible study and a long day at the co-op and Thanksgiving coming up.  But people do, so we will.  You can’t really tell people, “No! Stay Home! Too Much Jesus!”.  Since that would be false and all.

6. The reason I know that people want to meet for discipleship group on Sunday is because I switched to a pediatrician at the clinic in the ‘hood.

7. Yes, that kind.  Where if you don’t have insurance they treat you on a sliding scale, and the New Patient Form doesn’t just ask you whether you’re homeless (they don’t ask you that in the ‘burbs), it has five different categories of homeless for you to choose from.

8. I did not do this out of solidarity with the poor.  I did it out of total exasperation with the reputable practice in the ‘burbs, combined with the fact that my eldest are tweens and teens now so the stakes are a lot higher in terms of the moral values of their physician, combined with the fact that my friend the homeschooling pro-life Catholic pediatrician from our discipleship group is one of the doctors there, and she told me to get off my rear and make an appointment because the kids were due for tetanus shots, ahem.

(She didn’t say it that way.  I am translating for readers here who do not speak Gentle-and-Sweet, which I don’t speak either.  I can understand it though, mostly.)

9.  So the practice in the ‘hood is a whole lot better than the one out in the sprawl.  Not just because my friend is one of the doctors.  (Though she might be having an impact).  The desk staff were both competent and friendly, they got things done, they were efficient, and they didn’t treat you like you’re an idiot.  And no one prescribed weird extra lab work ‘just to be sure’.  I’m sold.  Also, it’s closer to my house.

10.  The kids were pretty scandalized by the routine questions, though.  They don’t ask about whether you use sunscreen in the ‘hood.  They do ask about whether you, 11-year-old, use drugs or alcohol.  Also, “Are you sexually active?”  My children were mortified, sheltered little creatures that they are.  Our parish youth minister would have been nodding her head vigorously — the big problems kids face are not starting in high school, they are starting much younger.

11. So maybe that explains why people are so keen for God more days of the week.

12.  Which point (scheduling discipleship group, Little Flowers, Bible study, etc.) we were able to confer about during the pediatrician Q&A, so that I could go home and e-mail folks to let them know, sort of, what’s up.

13. Also, we discovered #3 child is a little bit near-sighted.  Follow-up with eye doctor scheduled for early December.

14.  Hey, and music!  SuperHusband recorded this from Mass on Sunday, and Dr. Mad Musical Super-Genius set it to a slide show. There’s nothing like an apprenticeship to the mad scientist at the choir lab downtown to make a man quite relaxed about cantoring one teeny tiny psalm back at the home parish.

15. Also, I think I’m going to end up banned at St. P’s, on account of how I kept leaning forward in my pew so I could get a peek at my cutie-pie 11-year-old hanging with the sopranos, who were blocked by a column if I sat back nicely.  I did not wave, though. That counts for something.  I definitely pray better when strangers do the singing.

Mifft Wooden Christmas Tree

15.  Look! Advent Rabbits! It’s a convertible set, they turn into Christmas Bunnies on the 25th.

My friend Sandra said she’d bring home Miffy merchandise in exchange for French lessons.  I’m on it.  I think there’s a French proverb that runs something like Lapins de Noel arrivés, leçons de Français commencés. Roughly.

.

7 Takes: Sinner’s Guide to NFP Giveaway Day

1.  If you didn’t come here from there already, go visit our hostess.  She’s got an especially entertaining set of takes up, including a bit of other interesting bookishness, Tom Clancy edition.

2.  Of course you want this book:

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Famiily Planning by Simcha Fisher

That is why you’re here today, right?  Excellent.

3.  I read this book.  This is how I know you want it. Or, if you answered #2 incorrectly, you would want it if only you were in your right mind this morning.

3.5: What if you already have a copy?!  And now it’s too late to win one!  You’re allowed to enter and win for a friend instead.  See?  Thanksgiving present.  Perfect.

3.75: As I told you last week, it’s AOK to enter this contest, win the book, and never come back to this blog again.  I so don’t care and am not keeping track.

4.  Here’s the scoop on the book, and why you need to reform your ways if you didn’t answer #2, 3, 3.5, or 3.75 correctly:

(A) You know how you hate NFP?  You use it and all, or you would, but it’s maybe not the rapturous experience that you always dreamt of, when you first read the words “cervical mucus”?  This book is about that.  NFP Frustration.

(B) The book doesn’t talk about cervical mucus.  It doesn’t have 10 Ways to Get a Better Temp Rise, Faster! Now! A Full 4/10ths of a Degree or Your Money Back!!

Most books are better if they don’t include that.  –> Except if you’re trying to learn NFP.  In which case the amusing way in which this contest is being run will help you with that.

(C) Every stupid thing about NFP ever. said. by some idiot who clearly has a Josephite marriage and prefers it that way (did Joseph?  I’m skeptical.), REFUTED!  Blammo!  In YOUR PLACE crazy people.  Done.

(D) Except charitably.

(E) Downright Theology of the Body, if you must know.  Only, it’s not, “I drank the TOTB water, and now I drool unicorns and rainbows.”  It’s more like: “Hey!  TOTB Water!  You can brew beer with that!”

(F) It’s a short book.

(G) There were points where I did not laugh out loud.  I laughed so hard sound would not come out of my body.  I would have rolled on the floor laughing, except that I was laughing too hard to fall out of my chair.  I’m sure it was weird looking.  There are certain chapters you might not want to read in public.

(H) We aren’t doing the whole alphabet.

(I) But I thought up another thing: This book is the perfect marriage book.  So if you know somebody who’s married, or who is thinking of getting married, this would be a great gift.  I’ve been married 47.5% of my life.  I know what it takes.  Simcha’s nailed it.  On the head.

(J) It’s pronounced “Sim-ka”.  Like the “ch” sound in “School”.  Because Simka’s so chool.

(K) Yeah, I was saying it wrong too.

(L) I didn’t ask how to pronounce “Fisher”.  We’re all just winging it on that one.

5.  How to Enter the Contest

[UPDATE: I made an easier entry method over at AmazingCatechists.com.  Go there for the simple name-and-a-comment version.  You can also make it your 4th entry, if you've done all three here.  Now back to how it works here . . .]

The giveaway takes place 100% 98% in my combox.  I just cleaned out my spambox, but you’ll be more likely not to end up permanently moderated if you don’t choose a name like, “Free Nike’s Cheap” or “Real Louis Vuitton.”  If your name is also the name of a famous piece of merchandise, or includes a grocer’s apostrophe, you might wish to use an alias for this one.

To enter the contest, leave a comment here in this post.  Not a different post.  This post.  Give yourself a username (it can be anything, but if you win, Simcha’s going to call you that name), and leave an e-mail address in the field that asks for it, which only I the moderator can see, a nobody else. If you like, go get yourself a free e-mail account solely for this contest, if that’s the way you roll.  You don’t need to fill out the “website” field, though if your entry is especially amusing, people might want to know about you.

You get up to three entries within your comment.

Entry #1: Say something nice to Simcha!  Examples of winning entries:

“Hi, Simcha!”

“Thanks for writing this book!”

“Your kids are cute!”

“I’m not stalking you, Simcha, I just want a free book, that’s all!”

Entry #2: There’s nothing in Simcha’s book about how to actually use NFP.  So tell us where you learned NFP, or give us a link to a useful website you like, or something else that will help the puzzled people who have no idea why 4/10ths of a degree is so, so, important.

#2: Alternative: If you have no clue about those 4/10ths, you can say that.  You could also say something like, “I don’t know why cervical mucus is such a big deal,” or “I wish I could be as cool as you NFP-using ladies, but instead I answered the call to holy orders, but I need this book for my couple that does marriage prep, and the finance council won’t give me $4.99.”  Or whatever.

Entry #3: NFP.  Discuss.

#3 Alternative: Tell us a good joke.  Something clean, or I’ll have to edit it.

6.  You don’t have to do all three entries.  But you increase your odds of winning if you do.

7.  The drawing will be done using accounting methods, not literary ones.  You don’t have to be clever to win, you just have to vaguely sort of follow instructions.

The contest closes at Midnight on Monday, November 4th.  By “Midnight”, what we mean is sometime after midnight in NYC, and probably no sooner than about 4 – 5 AM Tuesday, later if we’re lucky.  By “Tuesday”, what we mean is, “A day that comes after Monday, and it might even really be Tuesday.”

If you are the winner, I will announce your username from the combox on this blog so that everyone knows, sort of, who won.  I will also e-mail you using the address you gave me.  If it becomes apparent that you expired from the shock and pleasure of it all, we’ll pick a new winner.

–> Simcha will then send you your copy of the book in the digital format of your choice, from her collection of possible digital formats.  She’s really nice about helping technically-challenged people figure out how to open their book.  I tested her on this to make sure.

Enter now!

Faith, Science, Halloween – assorted links and book recommendations

Faith, Science, and Reason: Theology on the Cutting Edge

(1) Link for those who haven’t seen it: Up at the blorg, my thoughts on the belief in invisible things, and a book recommendation for who those who believe in invisible things both animate and inanimate.

(2) Julie D. reminds you that Nov. 1 is a Holy Day of Obligation.

(3) I demonstrated my incompetent streak yesterday by attempting to open my review copy of SImcha Fisher’s new book, but luckily the author herself came to my help when I pleaded.  She regrets associating with me, I’m sure.

But hey! I read the book!  It’s very good, and fills a niche about the size of a deep sea trench in the literature on NFP.  Also, I laughed at select passages — not out loud, but that silent, tears-rolling-down-cheeks thing that you do when something is too funny for laughing out loud.  (There were other parts that exhort the reader to maturity and selfless love and all that.  I was duly solemn during those parts.)

Giveaway opens Friday, and I will sit on my hands and not quote any punch lines.  Therese-like self-control here.

7 Takes: Shakespeare Makes Me Sick, Rant-o-Rama, and Other Beautiful Things

http://cdn.conversiondiary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/7_quick_takes_sm1.jpg

1. So. Shakespeare. 

I started the week all productive.  New quarter.  Got the checklists printed out, vowed, “This time I will stay on track!” all that.  Also, I had to pick Mr. Boy’s next literature choice.  I went through the Kolbe Jr. High Lit Course Plans, and Merchant of Venice kept popping out at me.  I was leary after the Great Poetry Fiasco of 2013, but I heeded the little voice.

And I got a brilliant idea: Since two big kids are always hanging around wanting to talk to use from 9-10, formerly known as “Kids Are In BED AND PARENTS HAVE ADULT TIME”, yes I am shouting by the end of that sentence, I figured out a way to either get the children to go to bed, or live out the homeschool fantasy of everyone sitting around reading Shakespeare together in the evening.  Win either way, right?

So Tuesday night I hand out copies (mismatched, but we rolled with it) of the play, we divied up the parts for Act 1, Scene 1, and it went pretty well.  Some of us were having so much fun, we went ahead and started scene 2.

At which point, Splash.

Yes.  My child vomited over Shakespeare.

Said child reported after, “My stomach felt weird, but I wasn’t sure . . .”. So hard to tell the difference between a stomach virus and Literature Dread.

[Everyone's better now, thanks for asking.]

When we restart, I’m issuing a bucket with each manuscript.

2. I updated my e-mail software.  I hate it.  That is my excuse for why I can’t find your e-mail anymore.  I will grow and change and find your message and reply to it.  Soon.  But not before late afternoon today.

2.5. Visit our hostess for useful information about this:

photo 3 7 Quick Takes about haunted houses, affordable weekend wines, and #TWEETSONAPLANE

I borrowed this photo without asking. Because I never, ever, want to lose the link to this post. If Jen F. makes me take it down, I will. But you know why she’s a superstar blogger? Because: Affordable Wine. Doesn’t get much more Catholic than that.

 

3. Let’s talk about your vocabulary, hmmn?

Good Catholic friends, please tell me you know that you’re not supposed to take the Lord’s name in vain?  So I will charitably assume that if you gasp “Oh my God!” when talking about someone else’s clothing choice, or the water bill this month, or what happened in Congress, that you are in fact moved to prayer.  I think you should cut it out, because everyone *thinks* you’re just taking the Lord’s name in vain, and maybe you even are.  But I’m not going to presume.

What with being Catholics, we tend to cling tightly to our right to use “strong language”.  All those things St. Paul has to say about our word choice are trumped by our Lord’s choice insults, yes?  So we say.  I’ll not take up that fight today.

But if you’re going to resort to coarse, over-used cliches of insults for lack of a broader vocabulary — perhaps your imagination is foiled in the face of tribulation — would you please kindly restrict yourself to accurate metaphors?

For example, some people accuse the Church of thinking sex is dirty or shameful or I don’t know what.  It’s nonsense of course — quite the opposite: If we are very particular about chastity, it’s because sex is so powerfully good, holy even, and should not be profaned in any way.  We only have seven sacraments, and one of them has to do with sex.  Yep.

So, please oh please oh please, speak as if you’ve been catechized.  Do not sling around crude terms for the marital act as your insult of choice — let alone as your darkest and strongest insult.  Do you really think that intercourse is some foul, nasty, evil thing? When you search for some vivid way to describe a sordid injustice, is the first thing that comes to mind your experience with the marital act?

I certainly hope not.  Clean it up.

4.  Come see me talk.  St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Columbia, SC, Saturday Nov. 9th, daytime.  I’m just doing a panel in the afternoon, on the “Classroom Management” topic. In the morning I’ll be listening.  I kinda wish I could listen in the afternoon, too, the other panelists look pretty interesting – I can’t find an internet link, but the overall topic is stuff like bullying, working with special needs students — useful.  Contact the Diocese of Charleston Catechesis Folks to get more info or to RSVP.  There’s a nominal cost that covers lunch -n- stuff.  Gorgeous site, too, do visit the church and cemetery if you come.

5. Speaking of sex . . . I’m hosting a blog tour and giveaway for Simcha’s new book on NFP.  Where should I do it?  Here? Amazing Catechists? Patheos?  I need to pick a spot.

6. Speaking not of sex . . . My friend Karina Fabian has a new book out I haven’t read it, but I keep meaning to blurb it.  If you like clean adult sci-fi, Catholic-themed usually, fun and a quick read, take a look. I’ve never not enjoyed reading one of her books, though I don’t do the zombie thing — I had to crop her cover for my presentation on finding a publisher this past summer at CWG, because, gross.  Firmly planted in my Hardy Boys Not Thomas Hardy preferred category.

Picture

7. Aren’t these beautiful?  I can’t decide whether they’re in budget or not.  I do need a holy water font for the house.  I’m nervous about the glass.  But wow. Pretty.

Verse and Censure for the Feast Day + Chris Tollefsen at Public Discourse

Since we’ve been speaking of wealth ’round here lately . . . a limerick for today’s feast:

When faced with a room full of clutter,

I’ve been known to piously utter,

“Help me to know,

what should stay, what should go?

Oh blessed Teresa of Calcutta!”

MotherTeresa 094.jpg

Your house is 25% cleaner, Jennifer. Don’t stop now.

In other news: Chris Tollefsen writes brilliantly at Public Discourse today.  I’m a shameless Chris T. fan, so no surprise that I like the message.  But I don’t get to say it as often as I’d like: This is far and away his best piece ever.  That I’ve seen, anyhow.  Go take a look.

In places NOT to look: Front Porch Republic, which I subscribe to but very rarely read, because publishing just a snippet for the feed reader is a very effective way to discourage me from reading your work, recently ran a piece about liturgy and limericks.  The idea was spot on, unfortunately the chosen limericks were dreadfully lewd.  Really? Was that necessary?  No it was not.

To which end, perhaps not the most incisive wit, but making the same point as the FPR piece:

The rabbit who traveled by plane

said, “Security can be such a pain.

They opened my baggage,

and out fell my cabbage,

and I had to re-pack it again.”

The point FPR was making?  A good genre, delightful in its context, is not necessarily the right genre for the holy liturgy.   And another example, same rabbit theme, we have quite the collection growing*:

To my door came a poor little bunny,

who needed to earn some money,

“I’ll cut your grass for a dime,

one bite at a time–”

But in the end, the lawn looked quite funny.

See?  Perfectly moral, g-rated limericks.  It can be done. And the argument FPR wants to make is stronger when you acknowledge the genre isn’t used soley for smut. Show tunes are wrong at Mass not because Hollywood’s a den of sin, or because the cabaret / jazz / pop sound is always and everywhere associated with immorality.  It’s because these types of music are about something else — something that can be beautiful and true and good and inspiring — but it’s something other than the worship of God.

And thus a final contribution for today:

On the feast of Teresa of Calcutta,

this pundit is likely to mutter,

“You’re housed and you’re fed,

but your brain is half dead,

’till you rescue your wit from the gutter.”

Happy Feast Day.  Straighten up and fly right, FPR.

*The limerick fest began because, to my genuine shock and surprise, no irony there, my teenage boy does not love his poetry course for literature.  I was stunned.  A teenager? Not like poetry?  Really?  It’s all about love, death and self-centered dramatizing . . . that should be just the thing!  Certainly was for me at that age.  SuperHusband wisely suggested we begin with something a little lighter.  And thus I succeeded, not in converting my skeptical teen, but in launching a festival of animal-themed verse among the the two youngest.

I’ll take my victories where I can.

Meanwhile, any poetry recommendations for less-romantic, very modern boys, who mostly read Dr. Boli?

NFP Misery Awareness Week

Check it out . . . even the Pope has doubts about those glowing reports of NFP Joy:

“Surely in no way do we wish here to be silent about the difficulties, sometimes serious, which the life of Christian husbands and wives encounters. For the, as for each of us, ‘the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life.’…..Therefore let married couples freely take upon themselves the hardships destined for them, strengthened with faith and that hope which ‘does not disappoint: because the love of God has been poured forth in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’ With persistent prayer let them beg for Divine help. And especially let them draw grace and charity from the unfailing font of the Eucharist. If, however, they are still held back by sins, let them not be discouraged, but as humble and resolute people take refuge in the mercy of God, which the sacrament of Penance dispenses abundantly.

Pope Paul VI,On Human Life (Humanae Vitae)

Stolen from my Family Honor course work, where I’m getting piles of good pope-quotes.  Of course now my instructors, if they are goofing off here, know exactly how far behind I am on my homework.  But I’m catching up! I am!

For those who want awareness of my thoughts on NFP, here’s “Should NFP be Easy” over at my friend Sarah Reinhard’s place, and here’s another post on NFP vs. Contraception, which look, Bearing says you should read (and she adds helpful comments that cause it to make more sense).

Now back to homework catch-up time.

Speaking of Curiosity: DC Area Anti-HHS Demonstration August 1

Curiosity‘s coming.  Meanwhile, passing a quick note from Helen Alvare, in case any of y’all will be in the DC area on August 1:
logo_R1 Women Speak
Hello Jennifer:It’s time to make some intelligent noise here in DC, across the street from the White House.

Women Speak for Themselves has obtained a permit to occupy the famous Lafayette Park, August 1 (yes, in three weeks…), in order to speak out against the HHS Mandate imposing contraception and early abortion insurance upon religious institutions and individuals.

I know the deadline for the mandate has been extended to January 1, 2014. But it’s Summertime, and many of us have the flexibility to spend a day (the former deadline day) here in DC at a brief (one hour) rally, from 11:30-12:30 pm.

We will do several things:

1. Carry signs and hear a series of brief (2 minute) speeches against the Mandate. I assume these will have two themes, corresponding to the different women we have in our group: a) that women care for religious freedom…its loss will have real consequences for us! And b) that many women are uncomfortable or worse with government pushing the simplistic and often harmful agenda that contraception is the pinnacle of women’s freedom and equality.

2. TELL THE PRESS IN ADVANCE TO COME SEE THAT MANY WOMEN CONTEST THE CLAIM OF SOME WOMEN (Rep. Pelosi, Secretary Sebelius) TO SPEAK FOR ALL WOMEN.

3. Speak to any members of the public/DC tourists who walk by and give them our letter.

4. Walk a contingent over to HHS and/or V.P. Biden’s (America’s most highly placed Catholic!!) office (I’m trying to secure appointments with both offices), and deliver our nearly 41,000 signatures.

So usually I am asking you to do LOCAL stuff.  This time, I want you to come to D.C. if you can.

I only need about 150-200 women, because that’s what I told the Park Service.

But I REALLY need you!

I also need:

1. Hand-made signs (We will have some printed in advance,…but we need more). Nothing on sticks; it’s forbidden.  I will send suggested messages if you want to use them,  later in July.

2. I NEED A NURSE WHO CAN DO FIRST AID AT THE RALLY (Park Service requires)3. I need about 15 women to give two-minute testimonies re either topic pertaining to the mandate. Email me if you would like to. I would need to see them in advance please!

4. A volunteer to video so we can put on our website.

5.  Women ready to chat with any reporters in advance or during.

6.  Five women who will “marshall,” i.e. help keep crowd orderly and know what to do in case of quick evacuation.

I’m trying to keep this “simple” but effective, intelligent, FEMALE and press-worthy.
Will you help?

In hope,
Helen

http://womenspeakforthemselves.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WomenSpeakForThemselves
https://twitter.com/womenspeak2012

RSVP to one of the links above if you can make it.  (I can’t.  But don’t let that stop you.)

Sex Ed – Who Should Teach Your Kids?

Sex Ed: Parents, It’s Your Job and You Can Do It

Up at CatholicMom.com, my exhortation to parents on taking a little responsibility as primary educators.  Because yes, these topics are just rolling off my brain these days.  As you can imagine, the word counts on the papers are killing me.  500 words?  Since when do I say *anything* in 500 words or less?  Inconceivable.