New book: A Pope Francis Lexicon (including my chapter!)

Now ready for pre-order: A Pope Francis Lexicon — and guess what? I somehow have a chapter in it!

My chapter deals with the word “embrace,” and while I did regretfully excise the passage where I compare Francis to the Sta Puft Marshmallow Man, I attempt to answer the thorny question: Does our pope really think huggy togetherness is an adequate substitute for orthodoxy? I try to answer the question sincerely, based on his writing and his actions, and from the perspective of someone who is sometimes frustrated by his approach.

This book has an impressive line-up of fifty illustrious contributors who each

explore the Pope’s use of words like joyclericalismmoneyfamily, and tears. Together, they reveal what Francis’s use of these words says about him, his ministry and priorities, and their significance to the church, the world, and the lives of individual Christians. The entire collection is introduced by a foreword by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide, and a preface by one of Francis’s closest advisors, Cardinal Seán O’Malley.  

Here’s a full list of the chapter themes and contributors:

Volume foreword   Patriarch Bartholomew
Volume preface    Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap
Baptism              Cardinal Donald Wuerl
Benedict XVI        David Gibson
Capitalism           Bishop Robert McElroy
Careerism           Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R.
Church                Elizabeth Bruenig
Clerical abuse      Francis Sullivan
Clericalism          Archbishop Paul-André Durocher
Collegiality          Archbishop Mark Coleridge
Conscience         Austen Ivereigh
Creation              Orthodox Fr. John Chryssavgis
Curia                  Massimo Faggioli
Dialogue             Archbishop Roberto González Nieves, OFM
Dignity                Tina Beattie
Discernment        Fr. James Martin, SJ
Devil/Satan          Greg Hillis
Ecumenism         Nontando Hadebe
Embrace             Simcha Fisher
Encounter/Encuentro      Archbishop Victor Fernández
Episcopal Accountability  Katie Grimes
Family                Julie Hanlon Rubio
Field Hospital      Cardinal Blase Cupich
Flesh                  Msgr. Dario Viganò
Gossip                Kaya Oakes
Grandparents       Bill Dodds
Hacer lio             Fr. Manuel Dorantes
Hope                  Natalia Imperatori-Lee
Immigrant           Sr. Norma Seni Pimentel, MJ
Indifference         Sr. Carmen Sammut, MSOLA
Jesus                 Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, SJ
Joy                    Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP
Judgment           Michael O’Loughlin
Justice               Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS
Leadership          Kerry Robinson
Legalism            Sr. Teresa Forcades i Vila, OSB
Martyrdom          Bishop Borys Gudziak
Mercy                Archbishop Donald Bolen
Miracles             John Thavis
Money                Andrea Tornielli
Periphery            Carolyn Woo
Prayer                Bishop Daniel Flores
Reform               Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, SDB
Refugee              Rhonda Miska
Second Vatican Council   Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Service               Phyllis Zagano
Sheep                Archbishop Justin Welby
Sourpuss            Fr James Corkery, SJ
St. Francis          Fr. Michael Perry, OFM
Tears                  Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle
Throwaway culture Sr. Pat Farrell, OSF
Worldliness         Mollie Wilson O’Reilly
Women               Astrid Gajiwala
Youth                 Jordan Denari Duffner

Speaking of books, have I mentioned lately that I have a book of my own, and that I’ve contributed chapters to two other books besides A Pope Francis Lexicon? Here they are:

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The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning

The chapters are divided into three groups:

  • NFP and Your Spiritual Life
  • NFP and the Rest of the World
  • NFP in the Trenches.

Some of the most popular chapters have proven to be “The Golden Box,” which deals with how our decisions work with God’s will, in matters of family planning and in general; and “Groping Toward Chastity,” a title which, if there were any justice in the world, would have won me a Nobel Prize in literature.

***

Style, Sex, and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things That Really Matter

My chapter is “Receiving, Creating, and Letting Go: Motherhood in Body and Soul.”

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Catholic and Married: Leaning Into Love

My chapter, “Mirrors Around a Flame,” explores the idea that children are a gift. This book kind of got lost in the shuffle while there were some logistical issues, but it includes many excellent essays, including Jenny Uebbing’s great chapter on NFP.

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As always, the links above are Amazon Associate links. If you buy these books using the links I provide (or if you buy anything on Amazon after getting to the site through one of my links), I earn a small percentage of each sale. Anytime you shop on Amazon, please consider using my link!

Simcha’s Amazon Link!

Sometimes people tell me they’re not sure if it’s “working” or not. Thanks for asking! It should look like a normal Amazon page when you click through. If you look up in the URL or address box at the top of the screen, it should have a long string of letters and symbols after Amazon.com, including “ihavtositdo03-20” somewhere in there. That’s me! Here’s a sample of what it will look like when you shop on Amazon using my link:

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I also now have accounts with Amazon Canada and Amazon UK, hooray! Thanks so much. I know it’s one more thing to think about.

Patreon! My podcast! And dignity. Always dignity.

My husband says that I have many skills, but self-promotion is not one of them.

He is correct.

Here are two things that I haven’t been able to bring myself to tell you about, even though I’m hoping they will, you know, succeed and make me money or whatever.

FIRST THING: I have a podcast. Damien and I have been doing 27-minute* podcasts which do not at all labor under that awful burden of too much polish. Nope, I will never ever say “Wypchać się sianem!” Nor will I overproduce, overthink, or over-prepare for one of these podcasts. Last time, for instance, we explained what not to do about ice dams on your roof, we accused each other of various misdeeds with soup, and I praised Mariah Carey’s beautiful tush.

HOW can you hear this amazing podcast? You can become a patron through Patreon. That’s SECOND THING.

As you can see, this blog does not have any ads on it. This provides a beautiful, uncluttered reading experience. It also keeps my bank account from becoming cluttered with money. In the interest of feng shui, I’d like to balance out the zero advertising dollars with dollars coming in from somewhere else, because of my wretched attachment to things like groceries and electricity.

This site will always be free to read. With Patreon, masochists readers can keep it going by, well, sending me money; and as a thank-you, I send various perks.

Here’s how that works:

If you sign up to pledge a dollar a month — A DOLLAR A MONTH! — you get access to my podcast. (I originally set the podcast pledge level at $5, but those four extra dollars have been haunting me, so $1 it is. If you pledged $5 to get the podcast and want to change your pledge to $1 now, I won’t be offended.) (See above: Not great at self-promotion.)

Here’s my Patreon pledge structure:

$1 monthly pledge makes you a Fisher of Pants (an actual phrase someone typed into Google and then ended up at my blog) and gives you access to the podcast. Every week, I’ll email you a private Soundcloud link so you can download it and listen at your leisure.

Any additional pledge earns you the podcast and also . . .

$5 monthly makes you a Little Two-Legs, and I’ll send you a Pants Pass decal.

$10 ??? Still looking for ideas. I’ve rearranged this perk structure so many times, I think I’m going to throw up, so I’m just going to leave it like this because I’m dying here.

$50 monthly makes you a Heretical Hosebeast, and gets you an autographed copy of my book, The Sinner’s Guide to NFP, OR an autographed copy of one of the other books to which I’ve contributed: Style, Sex, and Substance and Catholic and Married: Leaning Into Love.

$75 makes you a Defender of Dignity and earns you a pair of Dignaroos, which I still think is funny, even if no one else does.

$100 patrons are Actual Patrons, and I will contribute an additional $100 yearly to our partnered family in India through our favorite charity, Save a Family Plan. Hooray, I’m useful!

And finally, for $500, you can call yourself a Mensch, and I’ll mail you a nice batch homemade rugelach. Your choice, cherry or apricot, with nuts or without.

Okay, phew.

To all the amazing folks who went ahead and pledged even before I got my act together enough to tell anyone about it, thank you so much. It was enormously encouraging to me as I made the leap to an independent site, and I appreciate it so much!

To everyone else, please consider making a pledge so I can keep churning out this nonsense. And whether you pledge or not, please share this post, especially with your rich friends.

Thank you. From the bottom of Mariah Carey’s beautiful tush, thank you.

*I don’t know why.

Additions, corrections to Greg Popcak’s book Holy Sex?

Gregory Popcak and I were chatting the other day. He’s thinking of writing a second, revised edition to his book Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.

holy sex cover

If you have read it, are there things you would like to see included in any future editions (certain problems addressed, topics discussed, sections refined)? Even if you haven’t read it, are there things you would like to see addressed in a book that’s intended to help people live the Catholic vision of sexual love in a healthy way and overcome problems and struggles in a faithful manner?

Let me know in the comments, and I’ll pass it along to him. Please don’t be a jerk. Criticism is fine, but keep it factual, not personal, please!

I will admit, I haven’t read his book in a long time, so I’m not sure if I remember exactly what’s in it. My own suggestion for an expanded topic: a clear discussion about what kind of intimate behavior is moral when you’re abstaining — or at least a guide for how to judge your behavior. Some couples keep a strict hands-off policy, which may or may not work for them, and some couples think that’s everything’s okay as long as no one reaches orgasm.

I do cover this topic in my book, The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning, in the chapter called (heh heh) “Groping Toward Chastity.” I said that there are a few things which are always off limits; that we’re not supposed to try to make each other orgasm; that some behaviors are acceptable for some couples and not for others; and that we must remember that we speak through our bodies, so we should pay attention to what we are saying to each other when we do what we do with each other. I don’t know if there’s really a better answer than that, but I’d like to hear more opinions about it, anyway. In my experience, priests have no idea what to say, other than keep praying and go to confession if you think you  need to.

Oh, and I always associate the phrase “toe-curling” with sudden, severe pain, like when the baby latches on wrong. That might be just me. “Mind-blowing,” I’m okay with.

NB: It will be ten thousands times easier for me to pass along your comments if you leave comments HERE, rather than answering on Facebook or Twitter or via email. I understand that it’s a hassle, but if your goal is to really reach Greg’s ears, then that’s the way to go! Thanks.

Additions, corrections to Greg Popcak’s book Holy Sex?

Gregory Popcak and I were chatting the other day. He’s thinking of writing a second, revised edition to his book Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.

[img attachment=”78026″ size=”full” alt=”BLOG – SIMCHA – holy-sex-cover” align=”aligncenter”]

If you have read it, are there things you would like to see included in any future editions (certain problems addressed, topics discussed, sections refined)? Even if you haven’t read it, are there things you would like to see addressed in a book that’s intended to help people live the Catholic vision of sexual love in a healthy way and overcome problems and struggles in a faithful manner?

Let me know in the comments, and I’ll pass it along to him. Please don’t be a jerk. Criticism is fine, but keep it factual, not personal, please!

I will admit, I haven’t read his book in a long time, so I’m not sure if I remember exactly what’s in it. My own suggestion for an expanded topic: a clear discussion about what kind of intimate behavior is moral when you’re abstaining — or at least a guide for how to judge your behavior. Some couples keep a strict hands-off policy, which may or may not work for them, and some couples think that’s everything’s okay as long as no one reaches orgasm.

I do cover this topic in my book, The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning, in the chapter called (heh heh) “Groping Toward Chastity.” I said that there are a few things which are always off limits; that we’re not supposed to try to make each other orgasm; that some behaviors are acceptable for some couples and not for others; and that we must remember that we speak through our bodies, so we should pay attention to what we are saying to each other when we do what we do with each other. I don’t know if there’s really a better answer than that, but I’d like to hear more opinions about it, anyway. In my experience, priests have no idea what to say, other than keep praying and go to confession if you think you  need to.

Oh, and I always associate the phrase “toe-curling” with sudden, severe pain, like when the baby latches on wrong. That might be just me. “Mind-blowing,” I’m okay with.

NB: It will be ten thousands times easier for me to pass along your comments if you leave comments HERE, rather than answering on Facebook or Twitter or via email. I understand that it’s a hassle, but if your goal is to really reach Greg’s ears, then that’s the way to go! Thanks.

The Sinner’s Guide to NFP is on sale for NFP Awareness Week!

sinners guide to nfp cover

In honor of nobody’s favorite week of the year, my book’s on sale all week!

The paperback version, (usually $9-10) is now $5 (only when you order direct from OSV).

The Kindle version (which you can read on any computer — you just need to download the Kindle app), which is usually $4.99, is now $2.99.

These prices will hold until  July 27th, so step lively!

Autographed books about marriage for Valentine’s Day

I’m not going to tell you to get your wife a book or two for Valentine’s Day, but IF you are VERY SURE that she would want a book or two for Valentine’s Day, here’s a deal for you: I’m offering …

 

book set valentines day

The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning (OSV list price $9.95)

and

Catholic and Married: Leaning Into Love (OSV list price $14.95) with my chapter, called “Mirrors Around a Flame: The Gift of Children”. This is a new book from OSV. You can read a nice review of it at Aleteia here.
(If the Aleteia link isn’t working, cut and paste this into your browser:
aleteia.org/en/society/article/9-wise-funny-and-totally-catholic-takes-on-marriage-5872273021992960)

both autographed by me. $12 each, $20 for both, including shipping.

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If you’d like to order either or both of these books,

1. Email me at simchafisher[at]gmail[dot]com and put “SIGNED BOOK REQUEST” in the subject heading.

2. Include the following information:
(a) which books you would like: just SGNFP, just CMLIL, or both
(b) exactly what you would like me to write on each book’s title page (if nothing is specified, I’ll just sign my name). If you would prefer to have them without anything written in them, please specify that.
(c) the address to which you’d like the books delivered.

If any of this information is missing, I may run out of books before we can straighten it out.

3. The cost is $12 per book or $20 for both, which includes the cost of postage and shipping materials. Please pay with PayPal. You can use the link on the right sidebar (where it says “Tip tip tip tip tip!”) or use simchafisher[at]gmail[dot]com as the recipient address. Please specify “signed book” in the “note” section. (Yes, please pay via PayPal AND send me an email. Trust me, I need the email.)

4. No Valentine’s Day orders will be accepted after February 7.  You may still order signed copies after February 7 if there are any left, but I cannot guarantee it will get to the recipient before Valentine’s Day.

5. I have a limited number of copies on hand. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. If you ask very nicely, I may be willing to give up the one I inscribed for my bishop but then chickened out and didn’t give to him.

About the Pope’s “don’t be like rabbits” remark UPDATED

Peter-rabbit

 

 

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

First, kudos for Erin of Bearing Blog for spurring me to reread the full transcript of the Pope’s recent in-flight remarks. He didn’t precisely say “Catholics shouldn’t be like rabbits” (and he never used the word “breed” at all). What happened was that the reporter asked him what he thought about the idea that so many in the Philippines are poor because of the Church’s ban on contraception. The Pope replied:

God gives you means to be responsible. Some think that — excuse the language — that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this. You did well to ask me this.

Another curious thing in relation to this is that for the most poor people, a child is a treasure. It is true that you have to be prudent here too, but for them a child is a treasure. Some would say ‘God knows how to help me’ and perhaps some of them are not prudent, this is true. Responsible paternity, but let us also look at the generosity of that father and mother who see a treasure in every child.

So, yes, if you read the entire context, he wasn’t saying, “The Church thinks you shouldn’t be like rabbits.” He was saying, “Some people think the Church teaches this, but it doesn’t.” A subtle distinction, a fairly important one . . . and an unfortunately quotable phase that just screams to be misunderstood.

Francis Phillips of the Catholic Herald UK says pretty much what I thought when I read the stories about the Pope’s interivew: This is really nothing new, but yikes. Phillips:

[W]hile I knew exactly what Pope Francis was actually saying, I still groaned. … Those people who read and listen to the secular press and who already have their own prejudices against Church teaching, will remember and repeat the word “rabbits” like a mantra, while we Catholics will sigh and point out as patiently as possible that that the Church has always taught “responsible parenthood” – and indeed, the Pope mentioned this too, during that hour-long meeting with reporters on his flight home.

What the Holy Father implied was that “responsible parenthood” is what matters, not specific family size. This will be different in each family and with each couple; while the use of artificial contraceptives is intrinsically life-denying it can also be irresponsible to have children thoughtlessly, without regard to issues of health and family circumstances.

But the problem with these remarks, unless they are carefully developed and explained within the context of Catholic teaching, is that they might cause confusion, not only outside the Church but also inside, among faithful families. Yes – people can have large families from selfish motives, just as they can limit their families from selfish motives. But what about large Catholic families, struggling to do what is right in their circumstances and under the normal pressures and demands of family life? They might, wrongly, take the Pope’s remarks personally and worry that they are being profligate and irresponsible. They have taken the biblical words “Go forth and multiply” seriously, at great personal sacrifice. They have already, in our secular society, been dismissed as “breeding like rabbits”; the Pope’s remarks will seem to undermine them, however much this was not intended.

Yup. He wasn’t advocating contraception, and he wasn’t saying small families are better than big families. He said things that are true, but he said them in a way that gives ammunition to people who are sloppy thinkers, or who are unmotivated to find out what the Church really teaches, or who are looking for justification to hate the Pope. Which is just about everybody.

Look, this is our Pope. He’s kind of a blabbermouth, and sooner or later, he’s going to irritate just about everybody. And no, this isn’t the first time he’s said something that makes me go, “Oy.” All the more reason to pick your head up out of the constant stream of gabble in the media from time to time, take a deep breath, and focus on your own family and your own spiritual life, rather than diving headfirst into the outrage du jour. (And yes, that means you might end up reading my blog less. Go ahead, I can take it!)

Anyway, Phillips was nice enough to recommend my book as an antidote to some of the confusion over what the Church actually teaches about family size, and how to balance the seemingly contradictory ideas of responsibility and generosity. I do hope that it helps!

I guess if Catholics want the beautiful teaching of the Church to be better understood by a skeptical world, then it would behoove us to spend our energy, you know, using these dust-ups as an opportunity for sharing and explaining that teaching, rather than constantly bitching about the Pope.

Hooray, I wrote a bizarre book that should have been stopped!

At least according to Tiffany Willis, in her piece 27 Bizarre Religious Book Titles that Should Have Been Stopped. I’m #27!

sgnfp stack

According to her bio, the blogger Tiffany Willis “has spent most of her career actively working with ‘the least of these’ and disadvantaged and oppressed populations.”

Sister, if you can find anyone more disadvantaged than the author of a book about NFP, you’re a better finder than I am. Still, to have my slim volume in the company ofCommunism, Hypnotism, and the Beatles and The Bible Cure for Irritable Bowel Syndrome . . . well, I always say I’m open to new experiences. I shall now go back to designing my new GoFundMe Campaign, “Dog Balls for Tito.”

Worth noting: The Sinner’s Guide to NFP has made not one but two others of this type of list! Worst Christian Book Covers of 2013 and Ten Christian Book Covers You’ll Wish You Could Erase From Your Brain. Again, I say hooray!

First Things likes The Sinner’s Guide to NFP!

sgnfp stack

Reviewer Christine Emba says in First Things:

What especially recommends The Sinner’s Guide to a broader ­audience is Fisher’s ability to use NFP as a starting point to engage with the larger and more universal questions facing anyone attempting to live out a Christian life day to day. What is prudence? How does one persevere in adversity? What does charity actually look like in relationships, and in daily life? As Fisher asks, “Does God just hate women, or what?” The question “Is it the right time to conceive” gives way to a plainspoken yet illuminating discourse on the phrase “God’s will.” A chapter entitled “Groping Toward Chastity” helps define the oft-misunderstood word in terms relevant to any reader—single or married.

Read the rest of “Marriage with Benefits” here. This review makes me realize how desperately I was longing for someone to describe it as “this slim volume.” I feel so happy.

You can order SGNFP in paperback directly from Our Sunday Visitor or from Amazon. Also available: the ebook for Kindle or Nook, and the audiobook, read croakily by yours twooly. And looky, it has 230 reviews, with an average of 4.9 out of five stars!

It’s our 17th anniversary SALE-abration!

I can’t even believe I just said that.

Anyway, tomorrow is my and Damien’s 17th wedding anniversary, which we will be celebrating with great joy, eventually. Heck, we’ve kept it together for seventeen years, more or less, so I guess we can hold out for one more week.

Seemed like as good a time as any to put my dear beloved ebook back on sale. I wish I could put the paperback or audiobook on sale, but the ebook is the only one I control.The price is now as low as Amazon will let me set it: $2.99.

 

sinners guide to nfp cover

 

Here is an excerpt from a recent review that I really liked:

The chapter on discerning when to use NFP, and when not to, is well balanced and empowering. The chapter on free will and discerning God’s will is brilliant, easy to understand and should be cut and pasted into any book about discerning God’s will for your life! The chapter on laughing and sex is helpful and also very amusing. Her chapter on what husbands and wives can do for each other is also helpful, but all these things do not make the book as valuable as the main thread of her argument that runs through each chapter.

Fisher’s main point is this: sex is for grown-ups. So if you want fantastic sex, you need to grow up! When we are childish, petulant, selfish and lazy in our approach to sex, it will be disappointing to say the least. So the struggles with married life are a gift in that, learning to be a grown-up in our most intimate relationship not only makes that relationship much more fun, frolicsome and fulfilling, it teaches us to be grown-ups in every other aspect of our lives. In short, marriage helps us grow in holiness.

I like that very much. Happy anniversary to us!

anniversary pic 1