Friday, April 11, 2014

7 Quick Takes

1.  I forgot to post a link to yesterday's Small Success Thursday, so here's one now.
Come join us over at to share your week of successes!

2.  Decision Time!  She chose it for the art program. It's an intense 79 hours worth of course work in art, including a showing at the art gallery every semester.

The campus is beautiful, it's small and surrounded by gorgeous trees, beautiful architecture and the beach.  But what I think tickled her heart the most, was their crest: 
Which in turn generated this:
3.  We're deep in birthday paloozah now, with Faith's party with her friends tonight, and Regina's actual birthday Sunday, and the need to schedule her party with her friends for after Easter.  Tonight, it's pizza and the second installment of the Hobbit  for Faith and her friends while the boys take in Captain America with their dad.  The older girls will be holding down the fort with the littles and a separate showing of probably Frozen, but they don't know that yet.   
I've seen it.  It's a b-movie except for the production value and power ballad.
It's immature and sophomoric...I still laughed.  
Then there's the hilarious fund raiser Simcha Fisher did where she promised to sing Let it go if they raised $4000, they did.  You can help her friend with the start up business and watch her sing in fulfillment of the pledge here.  I love when she says "Oh shoot."
4. Our son Paul is starting to talk and that's leading to interesting and unexpected conversations.  Yesterday, Regina's teacher came over to visit with me in the van in the parking lot. She reached over and chatted with Anna who gave her lots of smiles and was equally chatty back.  Paul looked over and said, "HEY! I'm Over Here!"  So she stopped and said I see you there. He nodded his head, all was right with the world. 
5.  Hey Sherry, how is the writing coming?  Well, slowly, but more frequently.  I logged in 3K on The Soul of the Minotaur this week, and 1K on Penelope, who seems to be stepping forward a bit more.   
6.   This week is the Erma Bombeck Conference, and I see many of my friends hosting the seminars, and it's hard to not be there, it's hard to feel like this year, writing has been at best, thwarted.  Bad computer, bad timing, I'd planned to host two seminars at the Catholic Writer's Conference Online, but that fell through because of a family emergency, it was scheduled for the Monday following Dad's death.  I cancelled because I didn't know 1) how I would be and 2) where I would be.   I'd submitted The Book of Helen for a few opportunities, but so far, it's like a bad fishing trip, nothing is biting.  I'm reminded of my dad's story about praying to his mother for a fish, and catching a beautiful speckled trout almost immediately, and it was the only fish of the day,  Admittedly, I'd like to get a line in the water this year.  Successfully finishing the second book would be the equivalent of a pretty good fish in my case.    
7.  Sacrament Season Starts soon.   We've got one month to First Communion, two months to confirmation and three months until my newest niece gets baptized.  
Marc will be the Godfather. 
That's seven, it was more work than I thought it would be.  Happy Palm Sunday and hav a good Holy Week.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Being a Crocus

It has been winter so long, I think people don't quite believe spring will come.  I believe, it is why God made crocuses, those over eager flowers that bloom first, sometimes surrounded by snow.

It's a funny thing, we all know we need food, water, shelter, and friends to make life bearable, but we forget that within those larger categories, in each of them, is something more.  We don't just want a house, we want a home.  We don't just want food, we want it to be good, warming, revitalizing.  We don't just want to know people who know us, we want some deeper connection, real community, family, friends that run deeper than likes and dislikes.  We want people who know us, and still love us.    What we want in all of those generic categories, is beauty.   "For beauty will save the world." --Dostoevsky

Deliberate design, art, competent cuisine, thoughtful planning, exposure to thoughts and music, all of these come from someone else seeking to carve out of the every day, a slice of greater pleasure than can be found in mere substance and shelter and somebodies.  We all know this, and yet we forget.  A day where you open the mail box and find a love letter, is a brighter day than one with only junk mail.  A garden full of blooms fills something we don't even know we need.  The smells of something baking elicit a smile before the first bite.   A favorite song makes people sit up, start to dance, sing, smile, even if before, the mood was much duller.  

So today, we are charged to be crocuses, who in turn will inspire others to do the same.   Be deliberate in cultivating beauty for others.

Put on fun music, start a book you've put off that you want to read. Plan your dinner so people will when they ask, "What's for dinner," respond with "Yum." when they hear the answer.  Roasted Rosemary chicken with roasted potatoes, green beans, Caesar salad and mixed berry pie is on our menu. Play a piece on the piano, sing even if you can't.   Write a letter to someone saying "I love you" and why.  Mail it.  

Because the world right now needs to know, to witness crocuses dotting the landscape of life, that spring is here, hope is coming, and there will be and is more than mere existence right now.

Happy Last two weeks of Lent.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Cassandra Question for All of Us

Cassandra tells the truth and no one believes her.  By the time they know it to be truth, it doesn't matter.  I'm wondering, are we Troy?

Brendan Eich was forced to quit.

His crime?

Donating $1,000 to support a marriage amendment in California -- eight years ago.

 The firing of the Mozilla CEO for daring to have a non popular opinion is telling, and chilling.  How long before anyone who wishes to hold office must give a loyalty oath to prove they aren't out of touch with whatever the powers think important?  We now live in a world  where retroactive vindictiveness is harnessed to create a Social Media Hulk Smash Flash mob that uses prior actions and opinions to destroy the designated target in the present.  Lovely!  What could go wrong?

All of this is done to create a new society, one which tolerates, but not you...and not you....and not you.  Mobs that win through mob actions or at least silence opposition, don't dissipate, they rage on, they look for new victims, emboldened by the successes.  Others will see, Mozilla caved, and new attempts to purge corporations and other organizations of anyone who once or currently holds a position of power who espoused wrong thinking or contributed to the wrong political party will emerge.  Why?  Because it theoretically worked in this circumstance.  

But this sort of behavior on a societal level, it doesn't bring good, it doesn't create understanding and it certainly doesn't evangelize tolerance.  It promotes the equivalent of thumbs up thumbs down.  All we're doing now, is determining who the next meal is for the lions. 

The problem with this social media driven resignation/socially demanded firing is it wasn't based on anything but disagreement with a position.  Judgment and verdict in one swoop, for expressing an opinion once upon a time that people disagree with now. 

No reason, no mercy, no discussion, no grey areas, no belief that anyone can ever think differently, was involved.  Just the rage that the present selected opinion wasn't always the opinion, and fear on the part of those surrounding the man, of what would happen if they did not capitulate.  

But the message sent by sending him packing, was no one should have ever thought differently.

And that sort of non thinking disguised as ideological righteousness is dangerous.  If you agree with the prevailing wind, you have nothing to worry about...unless you used to disagree with the prevailing wind, or until that day when you might.  Diversity of opinion is no longer tolerated.  

The standard reaction to this sort of a post by those who approve of the virtual dismissal of this person is to say, pshaw, that's just hyperbole, we're still a reasonable people.

We aren't ...insert unreasonable action here.  It's just HE shouldn't be thinking this way because he's in a position of power.

No one believes Cassandra, but our freedom of speech, our freedom of expression, our freedom of religion is being eroded in favor of everyone being "tolerant" by in no way differing.  

The purpose of our country is to allow people to think as they will, believe as they will, even if we disagree.  People are supposed to be legally able to create businesses and do the work and not have to pass a political, ideological litmus test to do so.   Politicizing everything in order to mold it to our own satisfaction is a lousy crazy way to live. I have friends with whom I disagree on multiple things, even important things, but they are still my friends because we see each other as human beings first, and that what is valuable in the other, is beyond where we differ.

People are still free to do so, but incidents like this erode the moral diversity of our society.   The cases against those who wish to operate their business under certain moral parameters like Hobby Lobby or the baker in Colorado, or the photographer in Arizona, are examples.  Our country no longer allows for live and let live. No, not agreeing, past or present, is designated as some sort of irreparable psychological harm, that must be censured. It's speak, speak perfectly, donate perfectly, align yourself politically correctly,  or die.  (business wise). 

The public nature of the consequence of a perceived act by those who perceived it to be hateful and declared it as such, should chill anyone who has ever entered or ever might enter into the public square.  Personal Political expression has just become a permanent threat to livelihood, no matter your acts. Your past is present, all sins equally fatal if judged guilty.  Every business is affected by what happened to Mozilla.  All it takes is one real or imagined grievance, and a committed individual to whip up a storm.   We have been to a person, doused with moral kerosene.  All that is needed, is for life to provide the match.

True tolerance, does not involve demanding the head of the other in capitulation.  True tolerance reveals the error of the other side through something other than sacking, vilifying or destroying livelihoods and mocking people for daring to disagree.  Look at Martin Luther King Jr., or Ghandi, or Pope John Paul the II, all three of these people faced evils they knew to be evil, and they managed to bring about a change in the hearts of peoples, whole peoples, not by firing people or declaring the other side evil, but by simply standing out against what they knew to be wrong.  

If the goal is to change hearts, threatening people's livelihood if they voted or donated a certain way may create a climate of complicit silence, but it isn't tolerance.  It's tyranny, it's mob rule, it's simply switching who is the bully and who is the bullied. 

If one wants a world where bullying is acceptable, carry on, and understand, one day, each of us will be on the losing side of whosoever has the greatest force and momentum. 

If you are really against bullying, if you really want tolerance, if you really want a world where COEXIST means something, you can't demand everyone act, think, speak, vote and work all the same way.  It's like demanding that all restaurants be five star, but serve McDonald's.  You have to allow for more than right and left, Republican and Democrat, secular and religious, you have to allow for diversity of thinking and the manifestation of that thinking in real life, as applied in work, play, association, business policies, family life, everything, all things. past and present.  

There is a great spectrum of diversity of being in this world.  We are all beautiful souls, and we are called to love all souls, to hope we will have the distinct pleasure of knowing each other, all each others for all of eternity.  That isn't tolerance, that's love, that's fellowship, that's a deeper community than can be generated via hunting down anyone and eventually everyone who fails to meet the ever moving standards of acceptability within the culture.   The prevailing thinking that all is relative means that limited parameters of tolerance are forever moving, excluding more and more always in favor of the new, which must necessarily dismiss the old.  

Do I feel sorry for a CEO?  No, it's not a case of pity for the rich man, it's a question of what type of society will we be.  Will we now have a free society, which does not declare whatever is not popular is immoral and illegal, or will we be slaves to fashion and politics and the forces that demand ideological fealty retroactively for all of time as proof of the purity of their own positions and vindication?  Will our society tolerate anyone being out of touch with whatever is not yet decided?  Can any of us endure such a scrutiny?  I would say, if the eyes of the world are turned on us, there is not one of us that would not be withered by the experience.  Such a world will not end well.

So here's my Cassandra question: How will we love if we will only tolerate perfection? Will we be able to bear the realness of being if we keep deciding that we can bear less and less of what it means to be real?

I know where I'd rather live.  I'm just not sure how we hold onto it.  


If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!