Friday, February 25, 2011

Tell Him, "I still do!": A Challenge for Wives

Here's a challenge I'd like to share with you. It is counter cultural in the extreme--it's all about treating your husband with respect.

Your husband, personally, may or may not deserve respect, but then again, you may not either. If you waited to respect each other until either of you behaved up to a certain standard, respect could become rare indeed! Respect in a marriage is more about honoring the office of spouse than a particular spouse. Your particular spouse may be driving you crazy, but because of who you are, and what God set up marriage to be, you need to behave as if your spouse deserves the best from you. Your husband is a child of God, after all, so although he may or may not deserve your best, He deserves it. Think of it this way, God is your Father-in-law and he can see exactly how you are treating His child. You need to behave accordingly.

And since you are God's child as well, you need Him to worry about making sure your husband takes care of you in the same way. Treating your spouse well, without worrying about being treated well in return, is an act of Faith--not in your spouse, but in God. He will pour out Grace upon the woman who acts in such faith. Even if it is the Grace to endure while He works on your husband a bit more.

From speaker, author, and mom, Sheila Wray Gregoire To Love Honor and Vacuum

A Challenge

For the last few weeks we've been talking about how to radically transform your marriage by focusing on meeting his needs--rather than waiting for him to meet yours. I issued a challenge to all of you to do these five things for six weeks, and see what happens:

1. Thank your husband once a day for something (try to make it something different each time)
2. Compliment your husband to your mother, your children, your friends, whatever, within earshot of your husband, every chance you get.
3. Do not nag.
4. Do not give the silent treatment.
5. Make love with relative frequency (say at least 2-3 times a week).

Try it and let me know how it goes...if he notices?...if he responds? I'd love to know. I've been slipping on my personal version of this challenge, so I'm taking it as a wake-up call. This is going to be my focus for Lent this year. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Embracing your inner tractor...

Now that the chocolates have been factored into our figures and the flowers are compost, it's time to revisit the idea of love and our emotions. 

Emotions are exquisite, but they can also be trouble. It's nice when you are married and you are in the throes of marital acts, but it's not so nice when you are married and you are in the throes of a throw down. Context is everything. Emotions are beautiful and they are a gift, but they have their place, and it isn't the driver's seat.

Understanding your inner tractor...
Let me explain...using an analogy. 

Emotions are like a tractor. When a tractor is in gear it will move continually at the same speed in whichever direction its wheels are pointed. This makes it an excellent tool, but it has a tendency to run over squishable stuff if it is not steered and to crash when the brakes are not applied. When the tractor is not controlled, very bad things happen.

Get it? Just like a runaway tractor, a situation can get awfully ugly awfully quickly when someone is running amok.

Emotions are the horsepower to your life. They drive you to succeed, reward you with contentment, bond you to your family. They are powerful and amazing.

Used correctly, fields get plowed, stuff can grow, everybody's fed. Uncontrolled emotions? The plowing and planting can't get accomplished because everyone is focused on damage control and comforting the wounded. Nobody gets fed. Not even the farmer.

When your emotions are beginning to run away with you ask yourself a few questions...

  1. Am I right or am I right?
    Just because you "feel" something doesn't mean it is true. Emotions color our perspective. It is likely that when your emotions aren't driving you, you may see things a little differently. If you aren't already carried away, take the time to really listen to the other person before you lose the opportunity for perspective.
  2. How now? Holy Cow!
    Is your situation at hand too much for you to add to? Can you reschedule this emotionally charged discussion when the kids don't have the stomach flu? Tuesday?
  3. Pray on your prey
    If your emotions are still running the show, take a second to say a quick prayer for this person who is driving you crazy. It can only help the situation. If you are being unkind or unfair, it can help you see that. In turn, if you are being manipulated, you may find that prayer gives you enough grace to put a stop to it. Prayer is so much more powerful than counting to 10. It'll remind you to be a Christian, even when you are not feeling Christian.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cats are people, too!

The Crescat has stunned the blogosphere and the Cat World with this provocative post "cats are not pets". "Indeed, they are not!" sneered loyal cat enthusiast, Anonymous. "Cats are art!" As a blogger and close personal Facebook friend with The Crescat, I shall endeavor to remain neutral in this, the latest Great Debate!
Just in time for Mardi Gras, baby!

Bernard Nathanson Dead at 84

click here to jump to the original article ...

Bernard Nathanson Dead at 84

‘I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age.’ After putting thousands of unborn children to death, he became one of the great leaders of the pro-life movement.

REPENTED. Dr. Bernard Nathanson in an undated photo.
NEW YORK — Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, an obstetrician who oversaw the performance of about 75,000 abortions before becoming a leading pro-life advocate and a convert to the Catholic faith, died at his home in New York Feb. 21 after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 84.

After performing his last abortion in 1979 and declaring himself to be pro-life, Nathanson produced the 1985 film The Silent Scream, which shows sonogram images of a child in the womb shrinking from an abortionist’s instruments, and the documentary film Eclipse of Reason, which displays and explains various abortion procedures in graphic detail. Both films had a significant impact on the abortion debate, solidified his credentials among pro-life advocates and earned him the scorn of his former pro-abortion friends and colleagues.

He also published a number of influential books, including Aborting America, written in 1979 with Richard Ostling, then a religion reporter for Time magazine, in which he exposed the deceptive and dishonest beginnings of the pro-abortion movement and undermined the argument that abortion is safe for women.
He often admitted that he and other abortion advocates in the 1960s lied about the number of women who died from illegal abortions at that time, inflating the figure from a few hundred to 10,000 to gain sympathy for their cause.

In his 1996 autobiography The Hand of God, he told the story of his journey from pro-abortion to pro-life, saying that viewing images from the new ultrasound technology in the 1970s convinced him of the humanity of the unborn baby. Outlining the enormous challenge of restoring a pro-life ethic, he wrote, “Abortion is now a monster so unimaginably gargantuan that even to think of stuffing it back into its cage … is ludicrous beyond words. Yet that is our charge — a herculean endeavor.”

He noted, regretfully, “I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age.”

His pro-life witness could not easily be dismissed as one-sided propaganda since Nathanson had enjoyed such a high standing among abortion supporters as a co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now called NARAL ProChoice America), and as operator of what he called the nation’s busiest abortion business. The facility was opened in New York City after the state’s abortion laws were loosened in 1970 and abortion promoters realized that the high number of women seeking abortion could not all be admitted to a hospital for the procedure. A freestanding ambulatory clinic, in which abortion and recovery took about three hours, was an innovation devised by Nathanson and his colleagues.

Overall, Nathanson estimated, he presided over 60,000 abortions as director of the facility, instructed fellow practitioners in the performance of 15,000 other abortions, and personally performed about 5,000 abortions, including one on his own child conceived with a girlfriend in the 1960s.

Baptized Catholic
For more than a decade after he became pro-life, Nathanson described himself as a Jewish atheist, but in December of 1996 he was baptized a Catholic by Cardinal John O’Connor in a private Mass with a group of friends in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He also received confirmation and first Communion from the cardinal.

About his baptism, he said, “I was in a real whirlpool of emotion, and then there was this healing, cooling water on me, and soft voices, and an inexpressible sense of peace. I had found a safe place.”
Among those concelebrating the Mass was Father C. John McCloskey, an Opus Dei priest who had instructed Nathanson in the faith over a number of years.

“He was a pro-life prophet,” Father McCloskey said in a recent Register interview. “He saw the whole culture of death coming, and knew that abortion was just the tip of the iceberg.”

Nathanson visited Father McCloskey periodically over the course of a decade, the priest said, and one day in 1994 announced that he wanted to become a Catholic. After his baptism, Father McCloskey said, “He practiced the faith, he frequented the sacraments, and spoke about his Catholicism unabashedly.”

Nathanson later said that he was drawn closer to God while viewing a massive Operation Rescue event, when hundreds sat down in front of a New York Planned Parenthood building, blocking traffic. The sight of so many pro-lifers selflessly sacrificing their selves and risking arrest made him realize that they must be answering a higher call, he explained.

In an epilogue to the second edition of The Hand of God, Father McCloskey called the book “one of the more important autobiographies of the twentieth century,” which documents “man’s inhumanity both to humanity and to his personal self, and the possibility of redemption.”

Another strong factor in his conversion was the book Pillar of Fire, by noted psychiatrist Dr. Karl Stern, who tells of his own journey from Judaism to the Catholic Church. Nathanson studied briefly under Stern in medical school, though at that time he did not know about Stern’s conversion. It was only years later, when Nathanson read Pillar of Fire that he learned off his former professor’s religious views.

Nathanson’s godmother for baptism was Joan Andrews Bell, who had served more than a year in jail for blocking the entrances to abortion businesses.

She said she spoke to Nathanson by phone in February 2011, when he only had the strength to speak a few sentences. “He said he was praying for us, and I told him we love him and pray for him, too,” she said.
“He will be remembered as a very strong advocate for the babies,” she continued. “One factor stood out, knowing him over the years, and that was that he had a deep pain for what he had done in terms of abortion. I remember there were periods he was fasting; he underwent huge amounts of fasting to make up for it.”

She said that he had “a deep and tender heart,” and that once he saw the truth about abortion, he was determined to stop it. “He was like St. Paul, who was a great persecutor of the Church, yet when he saw the light of Christ, he was perhaps the greatest apostle for the Gospel. Dr. Nathanson was like that after his conversion. He went all around the world talking about the babies and the evils of abortion. Being his godmother was such an amazing thing, to see him come to Christ.”

Nathanson was married and divorced three times before being married in the Church by Father McCloskey soon after becoming a Catholic. His wife, Christine, survives him, as does his grown son, Joseph, by an earlier union.

A Doctor’s Son
Bernard Nathanson was born in New York City July 31, 1926. His father was a highly accomplished obstetrician/gynecologist who taught in various prestigious medical schools. Nathanson grew up with his younger sister in a secular Jewish home. As he explained in his autobiography, his father sent him to Hebrew school yet would question and undermine the teachings of the rabbis.

He described his father as an excellent and ethical physician who was less than exemplary in his personal life. He was dominating and overbearing, and cheated on his wife. Nathanson wrote that his sister “lost her personality” under their father’s influence and committed suicide at age 49, an event that grieved his father so greatly that he never mentioned her in conversation afterward.

Nathanson followed in his father’s footsteps, attending McGill University Medical College in Montreal, where he had his first experience with abortion after he got his girlfriend pregnant. He used the money received in the mail from his father to pay for her abortion, at a time when the procedure was illegal. “It served as my introductory excursion into the satanic world of abortion,” he later wrote.

After graduating from medical school in 1949, he did his residency in Chicago and New York, at one time working in the same hospital as his father. In 1953 he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served for a few years as an obstetrician/gynecologist.

After his military stint, he settled in New York and began building a thriving ob-gyn practice. While working with poor patients, he saw the scarring effects of illegal abortions on the women. He wrote, “Illegal abortion was in 1967 the number one killer of pregnant women.”

In New York, he got another girlfriend pregnant and decided to perform an abortion on her himself. About aborting his own child, he wrote in The Hand of God: “I swear to you that I had no feelings aside from the sense of accomplishment, the pride of expertise.”

He added, describing the abortionist’s mindset: “icy; conscienceless; remorselessly perverting his medical skills; defiling his ethical charge; and helping, nay seducing, with his clinical calm, his oh-so-comforting professionalism, women into the act that comes closest to self-slaughter.”

Busiest Abortion Business
While not giving up his ob-gyn practice, Nathanson became heavily involved in abortion in 1968 after meeting Larry Lader, a politically connected public relations master who was obsessed with overturning New York’s abortion laws. In looking for an easy target to attack for media attention, Nathanson said, they chose the Catholic Church, whose opposition to abortion they blamed for every botched illegal abortion they brought before the media.

Bolstered by a coalition of abortion doctors and a burgeoning feminist movement, New York’s lawmakers passed a bill to overturn the state’s century-old abortion restrictions, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Nelson Rockefeller on July 1, 1970.

Soon Nathanson was the director of the new Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health (CRASH) in Manhattan, which he described as the “largest abortion clinic in the Western world,” with referrals from all along the Eastern seaboard and beyond.

Looking back on those years, he wrote, “I had a young son and a wife, but I was hardly ever at home. I bitterly regret those years, if for no other reason than that I failed to see my son grow up.”
As he became more publicly associated with abortion, he was treated as a “pariah” in legitimate medical circles and received fewer obstetrical referrals. For these reasons, he decided to leave the abortion facility at the end of 1972 and took the position as chief of obstetrics at St. Luke’s Hospital, where he kept doing abortions for what he considered “medically justified reasons.”

Yet the advent of ultrasound technology eventually convinced him that a true human being is killed in abortion, and he began to develop what he called the “vector theory of life.” By this he meant that from the time of conception, the unborn child has a self-directed force of life that, if not interrupted, will lead to the birth of a human baby. He knew this was not “potential life,” as the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade.

Writing in The Hand of God, Nathanson described a turning point in his thinking: “I believe the fertilized ovum (zygote) to be a new individual launched along an unimaginably busy vector of life that terminates when the vector finally moves its 180 degrees to the negative pole.”

The trajectory of this insight would lead him to his own 180-degree turn in thinking and eventually to work against legal abortion and the industry that promoted it.

Funeral arrangements are pending.
Register correspondent Stephen Vincent writes from Wallingford, Connecticut.

May he Rest in Peace.

Monday, February 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes--Housing Edition

1. Last week when Amarillo was colder than the North Pole the pipes froze. One of the shorter members of the family tried to fix the problem by plugging the drain and turning the faucet on. Then we left all day to attend a wedding and in the rush didn't check to see if the tub was plugged. Right, like you would have checked either. The house is still drying out and we are still maintaining our position that things could be worse.

2. We may have a buyer for our old house. If you are confused as to why there are so many homes involved in our lives (we currently own two), see the next entry.

3. Here's a summary of our housing situation: We wanted a bigger home with a bit more land around it. We found the land and decided we would build. Some "friends" from my husband's work wanted to buy our current house, but due to having a wallet stolen, they wanted to rent the house for a year first while they cleared up their credit problems. Is it just me or does that sound dumber typed out than it did as a plan? So we found a little trailer to move onto our plot for us to live in while our "friends" rented our house and we built our next home.

The "friends" never paid their utilities, moved out after three months, and only paid two month's rent, so we still live in the trailer and are still trying to find a buyer for our old house.

4. Did you know that the gas company will yank a gas meter when the bill goes unpaid? Did you know it costs around $800 to replace it? Did you know the homeowner still has to pay for that and the bill even if it is not your bill, but the bill of your renters? I didn't either. I never wanted to know that. Not ever. Not even now.

5. Living in the trailer has taken on a whole new meaning after the flooding. Trailers that are built with press board flooring are not livable for long after water damage without a major investment. Replacing the flooring will cost more than the trailer is worth. Replacing the trailer with a house is our next goal. It always has been, but that goal has been moved up to the top of the priority list.

6. After the flood, we no longer have time to build the next house ourselves, which was the original plan. Living in this trailer has cured us of ever wanting to repeat the experience, so mobile homes and modular homes are off our list. That leaves us with either having a home built for us or moving an already built home on to our property. We like recycling and we want to be out from under a mortgage sooner rather than later, so we're looking at moving an existing home onto the property and fixing it up over time.

7. We may have found our next house. An old farmhouse is available that needs to be moved off of its property. We are looking into the transport.

We could use prayers for discernment and patience. We could also use more plain old common sense.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Who you calling 'The Momma'? and Ricotta Bread

My neighbor who owns a family cow is out of town to attend to her sick mother in Washington. Her boys are milking their cow, the girls are in charge of the butter, but The Momma makes the cheese. Cheese is not a task you assign to children, even very responsible older children, due to the exacting nature of the recipes and the molds that can result.

I am going to be The Momma substitute. I am heading over to spend a few hours there and will make enough mozarella for their dinner tonight and enough ricotta for a garlic ricotta bread. I imagine that will be a nice hearty and heavy bread. Perfect.

So, that's my Saturday. I love having goats, making cheese, and greeting the chickens and my neighbor's cow over the fence in the morning. Sometimes I feel anachronistic, but the food is good.

Local Breads, light rye bread crumb

Italian Ricotta Bread

Timing: 10 to 15 minutes to knead, 30 to 60 minutes to ferment, 60 to 90 minutes to proof, 20 to 30 minutes to bake (about 3 hours)
stand mixer with dough hook
clear 2-quart/2 liter container with a lid, lightly coated with oil
baker’s peel or rimless baking sheet
parchment paper
bench scraper
plastic wrap
baking stone
small cast iron skillet (I use a 6-1/2 inch skillet.)

Ingredients, Volume (Metric Weight)
3/4 cup water, 70 to 78° F (200 grams)
1/2 cup milk, 70 to 78° F (100 grams)
1 tablespoon instant yeast (20 grams)
3-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (500 grams)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (30 grams)
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta, room temperature (150 grams)
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt (10 grams)
1/4 cup ice cubes

1. MIX THE DOUGH: Pour the milk and water into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the yeast, flour, butter, ricotta, and salt. Stir just until the dough comes together.
2. KNEAD: Using the dough hook attachment, mix the dough on medium speed (4 on the KitchenAid) until it’s very supple, smooth, and elastic, about 10 to 12 minutes. (My old 300 watt mixer started dancing across the counter at that speed, so I cut it back to 2 and added 3 minutes to the kneading time.)
3. FERMENT: Transfer the kneaded dough to the prepared 2 quart container. Use a piece of masking tape to mark the point at which the dough will have doubled in volume. Put the lid on top and leave to rise at room temperature (70 to 75° F) until the dough doubles and inflates into a dome, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. It should deflate slightly when pressed.
4. SHAPE: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Use the bench scraper to cut the dough into two equal pieces. Roll each piece around the counter, shaping into a ball. Cup your hands around the ball and move in tight circles, until the dough surface becomes taught and smooth. Place the shaped loaves smooth side up on a sheet of parchment paper, about 4 inches apart. Cover with plastic wrap.
5. PROOF: Allow the loaves to rise at room temperature (70 to 75° F) until the look puffy and have nearly doubled in size, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. The dough should spring back slowly when you press a finger into it.
6. Preheat the oven: About 1 hour before baking, put the baking stone in the middle of the oven and the cast iron skillet on the bottom rack. Heat the oven to 400° F.
7. Bake: Put a fresh piece of parchment on the bakers peel/rimless baking sheet and dust with flour. Gently flip the rounds onto the parchment so that the bottom side is up. Slide the parchment with the loaves onto the baking stone. Pour the ice cubes into the hot skillet and close the oven. Bake until the rounds are golden, about 20 to 30 minutes.
8. COOL AND STORE: Slide the peel/rimless baking sheet until the parchment and remove the loaves from the oven. Slide onto a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes, then remove the parchment and allow the loaves to cool completely, about 1 hour. Store in a resealable plastic bag at room temperature. Will keep for 2 to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What I like about blogging...

It makes me write.

It makes me think about writing.

It makes me wish I had access to a keyboard all day.

It's probably better that I don't, but still.

Steven D. Greydanus' List of Art & Faith Top 100 Films!

 The results are in! Be sure to go to Steven's site to enjoy the debate and to contribute your comments about this year's top picks. (click here)

The 2011 Arts & Faith Top 100 Films!


The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer, 1927)
As a longtime member of the Arts & Faith community, I’m pleased to report that this week Arts & Faith and Image Journal released the 2011 edition of the Arts & Faith Top 100 Films list—possibly the best edition of the list to date, and in many ways an improvement on last year’s list.
For some background on the Arts & Faith Top 100 as well as Arts & Faith and Image Journal—along with some perspective on why I think this year’s list may be the best—please see my essay “Reading the Eternities: The 2011 Arts & Faith Top 100,” the official introduction to this year’s list. (Some trends I’m pleased to see include more Golden Age Hollywood titles (and more English titles generally; last year’s list was pretty thin on English title), a number of animation titles and more documentaries.)
Here I’d like to flesh in some of the details I didn’t have space to discuss in that essay.
As I noted in my introductory essay, almost two-thirds of the 2011 list (65 films) have been carried over from last year, and of those slightly more than half (i.e., a third of the total list, 34 films) have appeared on every Arts & Faith Top 100 Films list ever made.
These 34 enduring films constitute a sort of Arts & Faith “canon,” a list of perennial favorites at the core of our discussion at Arts & Faith. I mentioned several of them in my introductory essay, but here’s the complete list, ranked according to preference as expressed in all the lists:
  1. Ordet (Carl Dreyer, 1955)
  2. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer, 1927)
  3. The Decalogue (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1989)
  4. The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2002)
  5. Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
  6. The Gospel According to Matthew (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964)
  7. Babette’s Feast (Gabriel Axel, 1987)
  8. Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)
  9. Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)
  10. Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)
  11. The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
  12. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F. W. Murnau, 1927)
  13. Three Colors Trilogy (Krzysztof Kieślowski)
  14. Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
  15. The Apostle (Robert Duvall, 1997)
  16. Man for All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann, 1966)
  17. La Promesse (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 1996)
  18. A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956)
  19. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)
  20. The Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
  21. Wild Strawberries (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
  22. Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987)
  23. Day of Wrath (Carl Dreyer, 1943)
  24. Tender Mercies (Bruce Beresford, 1987)
  25. Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953)
  26. Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, 1981)
  27. Jesus of Montreal (Denys Arcand, 1989)
  28. It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
  29. My Night at Maud’s (Éric Rohmer)
  30. The Straight Story (David Lynch, 1999)
  31. Ponette (Jacques Doillon, 1999)
  32. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)
  33. Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)
  34. Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
This is a fantastic super-list, although I have to admit there are still a number that I haven’t seen—a fact I’ll try to rectify by next year. Even if I never see all 100 films on any year’s list, I certainly want to see each of the 34 films that keep coming back year after year.
It’s not hard to see which directors we admire the most: Carl Dreyer, Robert Bresson and Andrei Tarkovsky each have three films apiece on the 34 perennial favorites, while Krzysztof Kieślowski,  the Dardennes and Ingmar Bergman each have two. (It’s possible that Dreyer, Bresson or Tarkovsky might have gotten more than three perennial favorites, but this year’s list limits directors to no more than three films.)
Also worthy of note: Of the 34 films new to this year’s list over last year’s, 24 are brand-new to the Arts & Faith Top 100. Here are the 24 brand-new honorees, in order of preference:
  1. Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, 1937)
  2. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
  3. Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, 1957)
  4. Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988)
  5. Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 1957)
  6. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
  7. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
  8. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)
  9. Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
  10. The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1991)
  11. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
  12. How Green Was My Valley (John Ford, 1941)
  13. Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006)
  14. Born Into Brothels (Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski, 2004)
  15. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
  16. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
  17. The Trial (Orson Welles, 1962)
  18. The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939)
  19. Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)
  20. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
  21. Sophie Scholl: the Final Days (Marc Rothemund, 2005)
  22. Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 1999)
  23. The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999)
  24. The Story of the Weeping Camel (Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni, 2003)
Of these, I’m most delighted to welcome Make Way for Tomorrow, Grave of the Fireflies, Spirited Away, Sophie Scholl and The Story of the Weeping Camel. (Nothing against any of the other films, some of which I love a lot!)
Then there are the ten films from previous lists that came back after dropping off last year:
  1. The Miracle Maker (2000)
  2. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
  3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  4. Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys (2000)
  5. Places in the Heart (1984)
  6. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
  7. Schindler’s List (1993)
  8. Dogville (1993)
  9. Amadeus (1984)
  10. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
Yes! The Miracle Maker and Fiddler on the Roof are back! (And rats, Dogville and Amadeus are back. Oh well, no list is perfect.)

Oh, and for fans of the 1995 Vatican film list: This year’s A&F Top 100 includes 16 films from the Vatican 45, down two from last year.

All in all, great job, my fellow Arts & Faith voters!

Explore the new list (with introductions to each film.)
Get my perspective on the new list.
Filed under arts & faith, movies

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Honorable Atheist by John C. Wright

For those of you who have not discovered this writer, I would like to point you to his work. He is not brief. He is not fluffy. He is, however, worth your time.

The Honorable Atheist

I don’t think it is necessary to defend the idea that there are honest and virtuous atheists. Unlike Leftists, there is nothing innately wicked or innately dishonest in their core values or basic assumptions which require them necessarily to support and defend wickedness, lies, indecency and cruelty.
Indeed, many of them are atheists because they conclude it is the rational position, and, if they are serious, they will hold that same standard of reason in other arenas when facing other questions, and may well live honorable and honest lives, because virtue is life lived according to right reason.
However, I think an atheist society (that is, a society whose basic values and virtues reflected in its institutions and laws are atheist and anti-Christian) cannot be honorable or honest for long. We cannot conclude merely from the fact that an atheist living in a primarily Christian society can be a decent man that the creation of atheist laws will create just laws, or atheist institutions will be decent institutions.
Atheists, even very honest atheists such as I once was, cannot be quite honest about history: either they ignore it altogether (a type of dishonesty) or they believe a self-congratulatory Victorian myth about how the modern world rose from the cesspool of the Dark Ages lead by that archenemy of the Church, winged Science with her Shining Sword of Truth, and in triumphant march overturned all the obscurantist superstitions of ignorant churchmen like  Copernicus and advanced, singing with glory, to the clear-thinking Scientific Achievement of men like Karl Marx and Ayn Rand, cured polio, fired rockets to the moon, split the atom, and we even now hover on the brink of one last final step upward to Utopia.
One would have thought the Great War would have put paid to this myth, but it is as current among atheists now as it was in the days of H.G. Wells. We Christians do not expect Utopia to appear on this Earth at any point before Doomsday, but there are good societies and bad, and pre-Christian and post-Christian societies are much more vulnerable to the temptation to be bad.
The testament of history makes it all too clear that such abominations as ritual sodomy, temple prostitution, child sacrifice rule the ancient pre-Christian world, and sacred sodomy, pornography, “one-child policies” and abortion rule the modern post-Christian world, with gulags and holocausts the accompanying the more vehemently anti-Christian societies, and political correctness and thought police accompanying the more benign strains of the disease.
Let us not mistake a belief in virtuous pagans, exceptional men like Trajan, Aristotle or Confucius, with the belief that a pagan society would be honorable or just or tolerable.
Let us also make a distinction between the morality that a rational and honorable atheist can reach and that which a Christian saint can reach. A rational atheist can find perfectly sound reasons to be just, temperate, moderate, and courageous, because these are examples of the reason ruling the unruly and selfish passions and tempers. However, no rational atheist can understand or justify the mystical love of chivalry, of charity to the poor, of self-sacrifice, or any of the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope, or Love. Loving your enemies simply is not rational and no non-Christian can see any reason to do it. At least, not rational by what the material world counts as reason.
Even a rational atheist, such as I was, is and must be a snob, because he must regard ninety-nine percent of all humans who have ever lived, and all the wisest and best men who ever wrote, as either chumps of a massive con game, or fools addicted to folly in the one area that most concerned them.
All atheists are snobs, and snobbery is no basis for an egalitarian society, or one that treats the poor and downtrodden with charity and generosity, or one that treat women with chivalry.
You see, even an honorable atheist has to fall into one of two camps: he either has to have the temperament of a pagan Stoic or grim and fatalistic Viking, someone who regards life leading nowhere but to death, but who defies the eternal darkness nonetheless (perhaps with a touch of self-congratulation because he facing a sad fact other men sugar coat in Santa Claus tales of a life after this one). Or the honorable atheist has a temperament of hedonist, who merely dismisses the innate tragic loneliness of that flicker of human life aboard Sol III with a shrug or a laugh. He knows an infinite darkness will follow the extinction of all human life on earth, and the death of all the stars, but he is concerned only for his own momentary gains and pleasures and pursuits, noble or ignoble.

In the final analysis...(continue)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

And you thought part of the point of current abortion laws was to end DIY abortions

"If the legal challenge had succeeded, women would also have been required to keep the fetus and return it to a clinic to help ensure that the abortion had been completed."

This quote is what the Pro-Aborts want in their lobby to get Do-It-Yourself Abortions available in England. This is the same industry that fights against using ultrasound to allow a woman to see the reality of her pregnancy before making a final decision for an abortion. This resistance is spun as "compassion" but as it leads to a significant drop in the number of abortions and the corresponding loss of abortion revenues, there may be other motives behind it as well. Now we see these same "compassionate" people want a woman to abort at home, scoop the tiny child up and into a baggie or specimen cup and take it in to the clinic for an examination. Any woman who has experienced the horror of a miscarriage can tell you that this is not something you want to sign up for. This is how far from reality you can stray once you start heading away from reason and truth.

The article...
Judge: No 'DIY' Abortions in England

LONDON (CNS) — A British judge dismissed a legal challenge to allow women to abort a child at home. 

The attempt to reinterpret the 1967 Abortion Act so that it permitted “DIY” or “bedroom” abortions was thrown out Feb. 14 by Justice Michael Supperstone in the High Court in London following weeks of deliberations. 

The case was brought by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, widely known as BPAS, a chain of abortion businesses, which carries out about 55,000 of the 200,000 abortions in Britain each year. 

The abortion provider contended that women seeking early abortions should be allowed to take misoprostol, a drug used in conjunction with the chemical abortion drug RU-486, at home rather than in a hospital.

But the proposal was opposed by the government, which argued that the law still required women to take both first and second doses of the drugs under supervision in medical facilities.

Link to the rest of the story...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

His Presence is Real

I can spell ad hominem!

I mentioned I was going to pray for this very same person over on Facebook and someone thought he should take me to task. On the whole, I thought he was rather nice about the whole thing, given how irritated Catholics religious zealots atheists people get.

Even more so after reading this--get a load of the comments in here. Wow! (And why are they reading Catholic mags exactly? To get their daily dose of offended?)

When did Atheists get to be so darned sensitive? You mention that you are going to pray for someone, someone they don't know either by the way, and they pounce. What it is with these guys?

Gosh and golly, they call you stupid and stuff. It almost makes me want to...wait, no it doesn't. Look, they don't have any arguments better than "Smart people don't believe in God." or "Gravity is God."

Oh yeah? Like you've ever read The Summa.

My only response is this. You guys are mean and you prove it, especially when you get in charge--think Stalin and Pol Pot.

So, until you can come up with good stuff like hospitals, universities, and science without borrowing the system we theists created--heck I'll even take a school of art that is objectively beautiful (no fair calling "only smart people can appreciate it"), or even someone who can actually argue (logically) point by point with Aquinas, I'm not listening.

Nanner nanner nanner.

And I'm praying for you, Mr. Atheist (and don't you think you should change your name there--you are acknowledging Him with it). You can't stop me. Even if you guys get in charge again and start killing us off (again), I'll pray for you. Especially then.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love? What is love?

We live in a world that worships emotions and yet has no idea what love is. We are ruled by the whims of our lives. We love, or not, based on the physiological impulses that stir within us. The result is the chaos you see around you. Crime, loneliness, divorce.

Our culture has turned it's back on Love Himself, so is it any wonder we suffer from a dearth of love? Is it any wonder that we have forgotten how to keep our communities close, our families together, and our world peaceful?

Tomorrow is a day we celebrate love as a culture, but our culture has only a superficial idea of love. We think that love is an emotion. Love is so much more. Love is a person. Love is an act of the will. Love is a decision.

Love Himself tells us about Love, how to love, how to define love. I would like to share this measure of how well we love. It comes from a priest I know. As a widower he took his Holy Orders, so he knows Love in its many forms. He says to take the definition of love given in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 and substitute your own name for the word love. Ask yourself, does this describe you? It should. More and more perfectly.

So, I leave you with this idea of love on the eve of St. Valentine's Day. How do you measure up? Do this, be this, my brother, my sister, and you can read that last line as a promise. You will never fail. 
I am patient. I am kind. I am not jealous. I am not pompous. I am not inflated. I am not rude. I do not seek my own interests. I am not quick-tempered. I do not brood over injury. I do not rejoice over wrongdoings, but rejoice with the truth. I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Parenting Fail: The Grammarian Edition

It's a bird! It's a plain plane!
It's Grammar Girl!
You know you have a serious issue with habitually correcting other people's grammar when your two-year old thinks this is funny.

Background: We undid the baby's braids last night and the baby had gone to bed with super curly hair. This morning mommy commented on the stick straight hair.

Mom: "Your hair isn't curly today."

Toddler: "Oh yes it are!"

Mom, correcting: "Oh yes it is."

Toddler, giggling: "Oh no it isn't!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Guest Blogger: A Catholic Becomes Catholic

I want to introduce you to a good friend and an amazing Catholic, guest blogger Tim Ohmes. This is his story of converting from Cafeteria Catholicism to a deeper foundation on the Rock of Peter. 

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.  Is 49:15

My mother died when I was 5.  Her death shattered my world.   I’m sure she never forgot us but I felt forgotten.  I was one of seven.  My father later married a widow of 4 and had 4 more for a total of 15 children.  In the town we grew up in, this was way too many children.

  We were Catholic in a town that believed Catholics got it all wrong.  I was a social misfit.  I was often told, “You know all you Catholics are going to hell don’t you!”  Our prayer life consisted of Mass, Stations of the Cross and reciting only formal memorized prayers (like the rosary).  I usually spent the time “counting down” the prayers rather than actually praying.  I paid little attention to the words.  I knew nothing of the Bible.   I was poorly catechized and poorly formed, but God had not forgotten about me.

 In an English literature book, I found a short piece about love.  I found it to be so beautiful and brilliantly written I wrote it down in an empty notebook so I could come back and read it again.  It began, “Love is patient, love is kind” and was attributed to St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.  I had no idea this was from the Bible.  I began collecting other quotes in this notebook over the next few years.   I also discovered I had a talent for singing.  I found it gave me a way to relieve tension and also gain some social acceptance.   My Father even gave me a guitar for Christmas my senior year in high school.  God was going to use these later.

After graduating from high school I joined the Navy, which proceeded to erode what little faith I had left.  I met up with many who questioned my faith.  I wouldn’t directly deny Jesus, but I would not defend Him either.  I knew of no way to defend the Church.  I never prayed and I quit going to Mass completely.  If I ever mentioned the size of my family, it only triggered derisive comments.

I began to develop a very cynical view of life.  I lived with a Satanist, new agers, lapsed Protestants, lapsed Catholics, hedonists, “bible thumpers” (who I avoided) and the rare faithful Catholic.  I fell deeper and deeper into sin, especially sins of the flesh.  I accepted the contraceptive mentality that believed sex was for fun only and not for children.  I was very far from God and I was going in the wrong direction.  The only thing I had not corrupted was my interest in music.  God (I realize this now) used music to call me back.   One of my Catholic friends invited me to play at a guitar Mass with his wife and several young ladies.  The lure of the women got me into Church and the love of music kept me there.  I was in Church for the wrong reason, but I was there.  I was not paying attention to the Mass and I was not saying the prayers, but I believe it was St. Augustine who first stated, “He who sings prays twice”.  The guitar mass lyrics from the mid- seventies were not exactly full of deep theological insight but they did contain some simple prayers.   I continued to play at Mass when I could until my discharge. 
On leaving the Navy, I then entered college to study music.  But, I was a 24 year old Vietnam vet entering college as a freshman and needless to say I did not fit in well.  After my military experience, I found I wanted more than the superficial life of a college campus.  After a year of studying music, I dropped out.  Again, God used my love of music to attract me back to the Church.  My sister’s new husband was working as a music director at a local parish.  They convinced me to start playing in Church again.  I had not gone to Mass since leaving the Navy but now my music had me going again.  I joined a guitar group first and later the choir.  Now, the songs were much better, and the lyrics were much more refined and thoughtful.  I found I could “get into” this music much better than I had before.  I did not realize it then, but it was because the songs were based on Scripture.  Within a year I was practicing for and singing 3 masses every weekend plus Holy days.  That is a lot of “praying twice”.

 I was still a very nominal Catholic.  I was very modern and modernist. I was willing to try anything new and was always ready to discard anything I viewed as “old”, “traditional” or “authoritarian”, and I felt that about much that the Church taught.  I did NOT believe in Hell.  I especially did not believe in Satan or demons.  

I was also very lonely.  I went from one empty relationship to another.  I realized I was incapable of loving another person if it meant a commitment on my part.    I joined various single groups and organizations. I even reread my old notebook and read that quote on love.  Then one Sunday, I did something I had never tried before.  I prayed for God to show me how to love.  Nothing happened, but I continued praying anyway.  God gave me an opportunity at every Mass I attended to offer my special intentions, at every Mass I offered the same one, and I was doing music in 3 Masses every weekend plus Holy days.  That’s a lot of special intentions.  Years passed.  I was about to accept that I would be single all my life when God answered my prayers and I met the lady who was to become my wife.  She was almost exactly everything I was not.  She was a very devout Catholic.  Prayer for her was as easy as a conversation.  She was very close to her family yet she was one of 9 children.  I fell in love with her almost immediately but it took me awhile to convince her that I was the right guy.   The fact that I was doing three Masses every weekend plus Holy days did help.  We married a year later.

Marriage very much agreed with me.  I was 31 years old and had a beautiful wife who was all I had dreamed of and I wanted it to last forever.  There was only one problem.  She wanted to have 12 children.  I wanted none.  She would not use the pill so we used Natural Family Planning.  I was not a believer in the system; but went along with her stronger faith.  Eventually, I gave in; we tried for a baby and were immediately successful.  She was delighted and I was not.  The pregnancy and birth went smoothly and my first daughter was born.  I was caught up in the wonder of the moment and decided that this was ok.  I mean, most of our friends had a child and they are cute in their own simple way.  The year passed and we were careless.   When the baby was 9 months old my wife became pregnant again.  This upset me.  I was not ready to have another baby.  This pregnancy was difficult; at about 5 months, my wife began bleeding and had to be hospitalized. Her fear and tears of losing the baby made me regret my anger and I resolved to accept this baby too.

But things were no longer going well.   My job was becoming more demanding of my time and energy.  Our house was too small and we could not save enough to buy a new one.  My wife could not get a job which would pay enough to even cover child care costs.  I had to remodel the old house we were living in and sell it for enough to make a larger home affordable.  I knew it would be hard but we could do it.  All my spare time and money were spent towards to finishing the house.

 Then we had our third baby.  Now work, church, and remodel consumed all of my time.  My wife and I only had two arguments, “You don’t spend enough time with the children”, and “Let’s have another one.”  I was starting to feel my life was out of control and my faith was too weak to know why.

I was discontented with life and my discontent drove me to search for answers.  I began doing spiritual reading.  I had trouble reading Scripture.  The terms and language were just incomprehensible to me.  But, I did begin to read commentaries and discussions about the Scriptures.  I began to feel a strange solidarity with St. Peter.  I mean, here was a professional fisherman who, unless Jesus was around, seemed unable to catch fish or keep his boat from sinking.  Jesus called him Satan.  He promised Jesus he would not abandon Him, pulled a sword to defend Him, and then denied he even knew Him all in the same night.  And yet, Jesus didn’t fire him.  In fact, He put Peter in charge.  I didn’t know what Peter had, but I wanted it.

Then, one night, in a dream, I was trapped in a room far from the door.  The floor was disintegrating.  Beneath the floor was a deep black pit, from which I felt a terrifying evil presence.  I had no where to go, the gap was far too wide to jump, and the piece I was standing on was getting smaller by the moment.  Then the door on the far side opened, and some men entered with bricks, mortar, and tools and began to repair the floor.  I wondered who they were and I heard a voice reply, “That is Jesus and the Apostles.”  I watched them and asked, “Which one is Peter?”   As soon as I said “Peter” one man’s head shot up.  He had the most ordinary, plain and unattractive face I had ever seen. His eyes met mine and he pinned me with a look of complete and utter contempt.  I was shocked. All the others finished their work, picked up their tools, and left the room while Peter glared at me.  Then, he silently turned, left the room and closed the door.  All I could ask was, “What was that about?”  The same voice as before kindly but sadly said, “You could have asked ‘Which one was Jesus’.”  I woke up crying and cried the rest of the night.

I realized my focus was not on Jesus and I decided it was time to start praying.  I still wasn’t sure about that “old” Catholic stuff but, at my wife’s suggestion, I decided to try to pray the rosary.  My job involved a lot of driving so I began praying the rosary as I drove between jobs.  I mostly just said the prayers without much thought, but I noticed occasionally, when I had a moment of understanding, I would get a little tingle at the base of my skull.  Sometimes it would travel down my spine to my shoulders.  I began to think of them as the Holy Spirit giving me feedback to let me know when I understood something correctly.

One evening, while I was reading, my wife (who I thought was sleeping) suddenly began crying.  I was worried that something was wrong because she was crying like I had never seen her cry.   It was several minutes before she could control herself enough to tell me what had happened.  She had been praying and she had asked God for a special glimpse of what Heaven was like, and received the lightest caress that filled her with the greatest love and “the peace that surpasses all understanding” that she had ever known.  She was unable to describe it but she said she would be willing to go through anything to feel it again.  It was very intense and intimate experience for both of us.   I have no doubt that God gave her this “touch of Heaven” to strengthen her for the hell I was about to put her through.

I had been making progress on the house nicely when one morning about a month later; my wife delightedly announced that she was pregnant with our fourth child.  I was devastated.  I blamed her for not tracking her fertility properly and wanting to get pregnant against my will.  MY ANGER against her was the opening for a spiritual attack.  This was the first Monday of Lent, and the start of the most significant week of my life.  I went to work angry.  All day, I argued internally about what I should do.  I seemed to have other voices in my head showing me how my anger was justified.  I came home seething but I said nothing.  I gave my wife the “silent treatment”.  She tried to talk but I would not respond.   I wanted her to know how unreasonable she was about wanting “so many children”.  I wanted to hold on to my anger to teach her a lesson.  Paul gives a warning about anger in his letter to the Ephesians (4: 26-27), “do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity for the devil.”  It would have been a good warning to heed but I wasn’t worried about devils.  I didn’t believe they existed.

Tuesday and Wednesday were much the same. Always the voices would twist incidents of our marriage to show how I was being manipulated and had been made a fool of by my wife and MY CHILDREN.  I could not pray.  The voices gave me no peace.  I still felt justified in my anger.

I had choir practice Wednesday evening and went early.  I was able to pray before the tabernacle in the chapel next to the choir room and for the first time in days the voices were silenced and choir practice went well.  I told my wife we needed to talk, but I got a late call out for work, got into a confrontation with a customer and by the time I got home I was in a rage.

Thursday was awful. I was chewed out by the boss, was threatened with being fired, and was handed several bad jobs.  My anger grew to unbelievable proportions.  The whole world seemed to be against me.  I hated everything and everyone.  I could hardly control my rage; everything set the “voices” off in my head.  I felt I was going insane.  What little sleep I got was filled with the nightmares of the voices.

Early Friday morning, my wife miscarried.  She was crushed and I could feel nothing.  She said, “Well, you ought to be happy now. I lost the baby.”  Now the voices were filled with total hatred.  I was now mad at God for punishing me for something that was not my fault.  Friday was pure living HELL.  I quit trying to think and just worked.  It was all I could do.  I could not have conversations.  I could barely speak.  I completely gave up trying to pray.   

After work, I was determined to continue with the remodel.  I needed to cut a hole in the floor of our bedroom closet to access the bathroom plumbing.  It was a quick job, with a tool called a Sawzall which, with the right blade, can cut through the floor, nails and all.  My wife wanted to go to the Stations of the Cross.  I told her to go but I had to work to do.  I got out my tools and sat down on our bed which was next to closet where I was going to cut the hole.

Before she left, my wife asked me if I loved her anymore. All I could say was, “I don’t love anyone or anything right now.”  She walked away and gathered the kids to leave.  Just before leaving, my 20 month old daughter ran in gave me a hug and a kiss and ran back out.  Then they left, and I truly felt our marriage left with them.  My heart was breaking.  I lay back onto the bed.  The room was spinning, and my body felt heavy.  I kept trying to force myself to get up and work, but I could not even lift my hands.  The voices continued their attacks.  Everything I thought about the voices turned into something repulsive.   I felt like a great weight was crushing me into the bed.  My heart was pounding painfully and my head felt like it was going to explode.  I felt I was about to die.   

Then something new happened.   I thought of the baby’s hug and the voices tried to attack her, but their accusations rang hollow.  The baby was innocent.  She could have done nothing to me; her love was pure.  I thought of my earlier words that I didn’t love anything and realized that I loved my baby.  I wanted to love my baby.  I wanted to love my wife and my children no matter what they may have done, but now it was too late.   God finally cracked my hard heart.  I saw how terribly wrong I had been all along.  I could see how my pride and selfishness was destroying everything.  I wasn’t ready to die, but I felt I was near death.  I was completely exhausted.   In tears, I said, “Jesus, I’m sorry, I can’t fight any more.  I give up.   I don’t want to die, but if I have to, please take me.”  Then, Jesus took me.

 When I gave up, the “voices” stopped.  I was lost in a fearful nothingness for a few moments. Then I received, “Seal your eyes until it is over.”  This may sound strange but it was not a voice and it was not a command or request, it was a fact.  My eyes closed tightly and in fear I began to pray the Lord’s Prayer. As I prayed, “Our Father”, I had a brief flash of the full meaning of God’s fatherhood and I felt a tingle go down my spine.  I prayed, “Who art in Heaven.” Again I had a flash of the incredible beauty of Heaven, and another tingle. It was if the words were written on a window pane and as soon as I read them, I would look through the glass and see their true meaning.  Then, I would be pulled into that reality through the prayer and every time I could feel it enter me as a tingle.  Every few words I was shown more and every time the tingles would push further into me.  They were like waves, moving down my body until they reached the ends of my fingers and toes and reflected back.  The reflected wave would collide with the next one and send ripples out in every direction.  I did not want to stop praying.  I went from one prayer to another, always being pulled deeper and deeper into the reality of God.  I was completely overwhelmed and lost within it.  The Mercy is deep.  The Joy is immense.  The Love is infinite.

I was vaguely aware that the weight that had been pressing me down was gone and I seemed to be floating above the bed yet at the same time I was laying very heavily on the bed with no feeling at all.  I seemed to be in both places at once.  I was aware of nothing else but praying and those wonderful tingles.  Gradually, they began to subside, and I could feel myself float (if that is the proper term) back down to the bed.  I continued to pray, but I could feel that a crisis had passed; the intensity of the tingles lessened and finally stopped.  Eventually, I rolled over in bed, then knelt down and said some intense prayers of thanks.  I did not understand what had just happened, but I knew God had given me a tremendous grace.  My clothes were soaked in sweat and the bed where I laid was wet also.  I was physically exhausted.  

I heard my wife come into the house and I heard her tell the kids to stay in the living room.  I saw her slowly peer into the bedroom and look at me anxiously.  I looked up at her and said, “I’m back. It’s over.”  We put the kids to bed and had a long talk.  God worked a lot of healing.

We had several realizations of how God works over the next several weeks.
First, when my wife left for Stations, she decided she was never coming back.  Later she realized she had to return at least to get clothing and necessities.  Near the end of stations she began to fear that if she returned she would find me dead.  After stations she felt certain that I was dying.  She told the kids to pray very hard for Daddy.  She prayed, saying in effect, “Jesus, if Tim has to die, I will accept that, but You have to take him.  Please don’t let him go to hell.” She did not realize it at the time, but the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration following Stations.

Second, the baby we lost was probably conceived the night my wife had had her “touch of Heaven” experience.  I spit in God’s face and He still forgave me.  That is Love.

Third, I still needed to cut a whole in the floor but I wondered if there would be a better place than the closet.  We had a cabinet in the bathroom with a built in hamper.  After removing the hamper, I discovered a hole already cut into the floor.  I did not need to cut a hole. Later, while working on the plumbing under the house, I kept hitting my head on a pipe that should not have been there. Curious, I traced it out and found it to be an unknown pressurized gas line. It ran over to the bedroom was clamped to two by fours directly under our bedroom closet. Taped to the line were two wires.  They were energized.  Had I tried to cut through the floor, I would surely have cut through the line, possibly in two places, and would have cut into the live circuit.  The saw I would have used had metal body and the ground lug had broken off the plug.   There were a lot of ways I could have died, if I had just tried to cut that hole on that Friday night.  God does truly work in mysterious ways.

Fourth, my wife intended to take my children out of the house to go to stations without having my children say goodbye.  She was afraid I would have been cruel toward them.  The baby pulled away from her and ran back because she insisted on kissing Daddy goodbye before leaving.  I am still amazed how God can use a small act of love to yield great benefits.

A Christian musician named Michael Card has written a song called “The Spirit of the Age”.  He had some profound lines concerning the devil and children.

            “Every age has heard it, a voice that speaks from Hell
            Sacrifice your children, and for you it will be well.           
            If he can stop the cradle, then he can stop the cross,
            He knows that once the child is born, his every hope is lost.”

Children are a gift from God to us to help us grow up.  I had prayed long before for God to show me how to love.  He answered my prayers by giving me the cross of raising children.  Once I died to myself and accepted the cross God had given me, I discovered the joy of bearing that cross.  I discovered the self-sacrificial nature of love.  In Jesus words, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  Yes, my children are certainly a cross I have to pick up and carry every day.  But they are also the only earthly good I can have here that will also last for eternity.  They are a very great good indeed.

At the end of John’s Gospel, After Jesus has had Peter affirm Him three times, Jesus says to Peter;
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you, and carry you where you do not wish to go.”  (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him; “Follow me.”

            Looking back on my life, I can see how prayer was leading me all the way, but they weren’t my prayers for the most part. When I attended Mass, even though I wasn’t praying but I’m sure many others were.  The Mass contains the Eucharistic Prayer, which is a prayer of blessing and a call to conversion.  Good liturgical music is definitely a form of prayer and for me it is the most natural.  My wife and children prayed for me before the Blessed Sacrament and that has much to do with why I am here now.   Children’s prayers are very powerful, that is why the devil fears them.   Reading and meditating on Scripture was another form of prayer I was not even aware of.  Praying the rosary was more powerful than I realized.  I wasn’t paying much attention to the words, “pray for us now and at the hour of our death” but I can guarantee you the Blessed Mother was.  Have you ever noticed that in most of the Church’s formal prayers, the petitions are in the plural form?  “Lord, have mercy on US”, “forgive us OUR trespasses”, “pray for US sinners”, “at the hour of OUR death”, the Church’s prayers are communal, we seldom pray only for ourselves.  And when we pray, we never pray alone.  Even if we aren’t praying we can be assured that the Saints in Heaven are.  I have no doubt my mother never stopped praying for me, even after her death.  But even if she forgot me, I know God never did.

Scripture tells us in the first letter from Peter,

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you.  Cast all your anxieties on him, for He cares about you.  Be sober, be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the whole world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself, restore, establish, and strengthen you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  1Pet 5: 6-11

My wife has given birth to seven children.  Sadly, we have lost eight through miscarriage.  Counting miscarriages (and they do count) we have had 15. Three more than my wife wanted, and same number I experienced growing up.  The children are a great joy to us.  It has been a difficult struggle at times, but somehow things manage to work out.  I still wonder if I am crazy for what I have become, BUT I trust God to help me and guide me.  I have felt His holiness, His Justice, His mercy, and most importantly His love.  My life belongs to Him, and I mean that very literally.  I don’t know what His plans are for me or my family, but I know He does.  What more could I hope for?

Tim Ohmes

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pod people! Run!

The podcasters at Deeper Truth are going to interview me Friday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Listen to internet radio with Deeper Truth on Blog -*Talk Radio

It'll mostly be about my conversion from a life of belly-button gazing hedonism to a life of belly-button gazing Catholic blogging.

Here's my conversion....

My Conversion Real Quick

My conversion to the Catholic Church took about three seconds. I was an arrogant fool sitting in on my very first Mass and watching it like I'd watch a National Geographic nature film. I was analyzing away, "Those pews are so phallic, who are they kidding that this isn't all about a patriarchy?" when I heard something Jewish. A cantor sang the Psalm. It caught my attention and stopped the haughty drift of my thoughts. I began to be interested. What else might they have stolen from the Jews?

To continue reading, click here...