The WINNER’S Guide to NFP, giveaway day 4! No pear tree for you!

Today, blah blah blah something something NFP woo hoo prizes something something oh lord it’s hot.  Look, are you aware of NFP? Good for you, so am I. Prizes here now.

Oh, and don’t forget, if you want to win a Baby Comp, that’s  a whole separate contest!Check it out.


The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning, autographed to your specs


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sponsored by Johnny L., who definitely read my book, understands NFP, loves it with all his heart, and wants more people to know about it.


One autographed copy of Woman, How Great Thou Art by Theresa Martin of New Feminism Rising


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When you think about NFP, do you wonder what the Church really thinks about women? This easy read is rich in content and brings the reader on an exploration of the great dignity of woman! It’s the conversation before the NFP conversation. You’ll be surprised to find out the ideology that was behind the creation of “the Pill” and how salvation history points towards the greatness of her femininity. Written in a conversational style, Martin covers all the hot topics (Eve’s fault, male only priesthood, marriage, “subordination”, Mary, feminist movement, contraception, nfp …) but in a way that makes it easy to understand. You’ll love it!


Young Living Massage Oil “Sensation” sponsored by Tammy Helms Meyers of Essentially Fit + Healthy


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Tammy is Young Living Member #1533281. This oil retails for around $45!


One NovAntiqua Latin-English edition of the Summa Theologiae. Winner may choose any volume, including the soon-to-be-released Volume VII sponsored  by NovAntiquaeditor Heidi Keiser

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It is the hope of those responsible for this edition, that having the original Latin text and a respected English translation side by side will not only give those who are not ready to tackle the of Saint Thomas unaided access to his own words, but will inspire them and assist them in their pursuit of this language. They will likely discover, as many have before them, that Thomas is more easily understood in the tongue in which he wrote than he is in any other.

The English translation that the NovAntiqua edition utilizes is the translation of the Dominican Fathers of the English Province, often known as the “Benziger,” after its first U.S. publisher. The translation is the most widely used English translation, appreciated for its overall faithfulness to the Latin of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The text is arranged in a parallel-column format, Latin on the left and English on the right.


And can we just pause for a moment to savor that notion that, when you’re a Catholic, you don’t think there’s anything strange about wanting the massage oil and the Summa?
Okay, moving along . . .


Package of 10 Pope Francis Family Magnets


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Here’s a gentle reminder for every member of the family — a magnet bearing Pope Francis’ advice to be ready always to say “please, sorry, and thank you” to family members. Showing courtesy, humility, and gratitude toward the family helps make peace and love flourish in the home. Post this magnet on the refrigerator, on the back door, on the family bulletin board, or anywhere it’s sure to be seen and acted on.

This prize is a package of ten magnets. Keep some, spread the rest around!


Listen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers by Dwight Longenecker

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Listen, My Son (the opening words of Benedict’s Rule) breaks the Rule into small daily portions and provides commentary specifically geared to help men be better husbands and parents. Without underestimating the emotional, spiritual, and physical demands of fatherhood, Longenecker also holds up the joys of developing a strong bond with God — one that nurtures the individual man, and that provides him with the ability to grow himself and his family in faithfulness, service, and love.

Sounds good! The Rule of St. Benedict is such a gem of good sense and compassion. I’d love to hear Fr. Longenecker’s take on it.


Tea Tree Shampoo Bar, Orange Soap Bar, Lemon Foaming Hand Soap, and All-Natural Counter Spray Ifor every surface in your home) by Samantha McCarty of Radiantly You.



Samantha says:

I am a stay at home mom blessed with 4 children 5 and under and I sell personal care and cleaning products that are all gluten/gmo/toxin/chemical free, at affordable prices, with most ingredients purchased through Fair Trade. All products are hand made in micro batches in upstate New York.  I will send the winner directly a Tea Tree Shampoo Bar, Orange Soap Bar, Lemon Foaming Hand Soap and All-Natural Counter Spray (counter spray can be used to clean EVERY surface in your home).  Anyone can contact me directly through my website.

From Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa of New Wave Feminists:



Oooh. Just the thing for you teen to wear on the first day of school! Take no prisoners.


Maite Roche My First Prayers for My Family (has “sample” sticker on the cover, but it is in like new condition)

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Charming four-color pictures help introduce very young children to prayers that celebrate the blessings of family life. Included are prayers giving thanks for our parents and the gift of our baptism. There are also warm and gentle petitions for pardon and for the departed members of our family.

Ages 2 and up

Maite Roche is the Catholic children’s author who gives me hope for the future of Catholic children’s books! I wrote about her warm, luminous illustrations here.
Note: this book is a sample, and is brand new, but has a sticker that says “sample” on the cover.  Donated by my BILB (brother-in-law’s brother), John Herreid, who also designed my book’s cover, which is my favorite thing ever.


Voucher for a Lilla Rose item from Monique Krestyn

Monique says:

I sell beautiful, durable, and incredibly effective hair jewelry – bobby pins, hair sticks, headbands, and more.  Our unique Flexi-Clip is available in seven sizes, perfect for any hair style and for hair from baby-fine to super-thick.
Winner gets a Lilla Rose item of her choice, but in keeping with voucher rules, she must be a new Lilla Rose customer and a US or Canadian resident.

It’s true, Lilla Rose products are pretty, durable, and easy to use, and they work with all my kids’ hair, which ranges from silky to coarse to curly.


A set of three CD’s by Marie Bellet, celebrated Catholic singer, songwriter, mother of nine.


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The albums: New Springtime, Lighten Up, and Ordinary Time.

A lone voice calling for a return to family in the midst of a materialist world, Marie Bellet writes authentic Americana songs that take the listener away from the distractions and conventions of pop culture and focus upon the importance of sacrificial love. Much like the singer/songwriters she listened to growing up, she moves off the glamorous beaten path and tells deceptively simple stories that make larger statements about hardship, heartbreak, redemption, and renewal within the real world.

“I write about the life I know, from something as simple as getting through a trip to the grocery store with a bunch of kids to something as difficult as watching a son deploy to Afghanistan. I want to tell others that sacrifice is not stupidity or victimization. It is noble. It is transformative. It is love.”


One introductory class of Creighton via Skype, plus a 20% discount on follow-up classes by Amy Sherlock of This Cross I Embrace


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Creighton Model can be used in 3 ways: to avoid pregnancy, to achieve pregnancy, and to monitor and maintain gynecologic health.  Creighton will also increase the efficacy of any NaPro Technology medical attention that may be needed.

Amy at This Cross I Embrace has been a user of Creighton Model for 8 1/2 yrs, and a Practitioner working in a NaPro Technology office for 7 yrs.
She has particular strengths in working with other couples with infertility, as well as breastfeeding couples.


And . . . a ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor in a pear tree!*


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sponsored by an anonymous well-wisher!

*pear tree not included. Apparently they attract wasps anyway.

Okey dokey! So you know the routine by now: enter below by using the Rafflecopter form which may or may not appear at the end of this post, depending on sunspots aligning or something, who knows?

Below is a list of all the prizes that have been, are, and will be listed this week! I went through and fixed a bunch of bum links – sorry about that! If you are a sponsor and do not see your name on this list, please contact me asap!


Two rosaries by Ever Ancient, Ever New: Knotted Gemstone Rosaries by Betsy Archibald
Five packets of Pope Francis Family Magnets, ten pieces each
St. Patrick rosary men’s rosary in black onyx and hand cast bronze by Julie of The Peaceful Bead
Crocheted Rosary Pouch by Kelly McClintock
Gift certificate to Apostleship of Prayer by Grace Urbanski


Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It autographed by Jennifer Fulwiler
Bundle of three books from OSV
Forming Intentional Disciples autographed by Sherry Weddell
Your choice of an autographed book by Mark Shea
Blessed, Beautiful, & Bodacious autographed by Pat Gohn
Listen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers by Dwight Longenecker
Latin-English edition of the Summa Theologiae, winner’s choice of which volume, including the soon-to-be-released Volume VII sponsored by NovAntiqua editor Heidi Keiser
Spice Up Your Marriage: A 28-Day Adventure (for Kindle) by Hallie Lord
How the First Christians Changed Dying autographed by Billy Kangas
five copies of The Sinner’s Guide to NFP autographed by me
Holy Sex! by Greg Popcak
Classroom Management for Catechists autographed by Jen Fitz, sponsored by St. Francis Catholic Books & Gifts Shop
Four copies of Maite Roche’s My First Prayers for My Family
The Handbook for Catholic Moms autographed by Lisa Hendey
Theology of the Body, Extended: The Spiritual Signs of Childbirth, Impairment, and Dying by Susan Windley-Daoust (a.k.a. The Ironic Catholic)
Two copies each of How Far Can We Go? Leah Perrault and Brett Salkeld; and Theology of the Body for Every Body by Leah Perrault
Woman, How Great Thou Art autographed by Theresa Martin


Handmade baby quilt by Mary Lenaburg
Your choice of silicone teething pendants by Peacemaker Jewelry


Sam Rocha “Late to Love”
Set of three CDs by Marie BelletNew Springtime, Lighten Up, and Ordinary Time

Silver and zinc bracelet from Salt, Light & Silver
Steel “Family Tree” locket with crystals designed by Cathy Adamkiewitz at Origami Owl
Voucher for Lilla Rose hair jewelry by Monique Krestyn
Reversible necklace from Premier Designs by Alana McGough


Pamper Me gift basket by Cindy Cheshire, Independent Mary Kay Beauty Consultant
Goatmilk Soap gift bag by Shalimar Masters of Victory Ranch Soaps
Gift certificate for $25 to Robin’s Soap Shoppe
His and Hers Young Living Massage Oil by Gabrielle Ellwanger of Living Life Oily
Shampoo bar, orange soap bar, foaming hand soap, and counter spray by Samantha McCarty ofRadiantly You
Young Living Massage Oil “Sensation”  from Tammy Meyers of Essentially Fit+Healthy


hand knit charcoal gray men’s cap by Suzanne Andrews
Sauerkraut making kit Rochelle Nelson
blown glass hummingbird or slug from Blow Hard Glass Studio
$25 gift certificate for Pampered Chef by Jessica Chastek
T-shirt from New Wave Feminists
Toaster oven from Marcia and Nacho Bono!!!!!!!!!!!


Fertility, Cycles, & Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon, sponsored by Suzanne Emery Andrews
Two copies of Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Tony Wechsler, sponsored by Larissa Halsell

Creighton Introductory Session and two Follow-ups via Skype or phone, a $120 value; OR a copy of The NaProTechnology Revolution valued around $45 from FCP (and Creighton pioneer) Kathy Rivet of Marguerite d’Youville Fertility Care Services
Creighton Introductory session from FCP Jessica McAfee of the Pope Paul VI Institute
Creighton Introductory session via Skype, plus a 20% discount on follow-up classes by FCP Amy Sherlock of This Cross I Embrace
Creighton sessions from FCP Lindy Meyer
One year’s subscription for the NFP Charting Online App (designed for Billings)
Period Diary app for the iPhone sponsored by Michelle Arnold

30 ClearBlue Easy Test Sticks sponsored by a well-wisher
ClearBlue Easy Fertility monitor sponsored by sponsored by Dr Michael Czerkes, a pro-life, NFP-only OB/GYN in Lewiston, ME
ClearBlue Easy Fertility monitor sponsored by Kenneth Scagel of The Roper School, an online classical high school program
ClearBlue Easy Fertility monitor sponsored by Pilgrims Headed Home ministry and Totus Tuus Fertility Care
ClearBlue Easy Fertility monitor sponsored by a well-wisher!
ClearBlue Easy Fertility monitor sponsored by another well-wisher!


Summer Drawing Club – I haven’t forgotten!

Sorry for the lapse! I know the last installment (exercises in chapter six) were supposed to go up yesterday. We did the first one (the blind contour drawings) this morning, and I hope to get them up tonight. Then we will do the other exercises in the chapter later and get them up asap! Just a bit overscheduled here. Thanks for your patience!

Here’s a post explaining what we’re doing.

What Lies Beneath

I had a fleeting desire to see the movie Watchmen, until I heard that it was yet another in the genre of “let’s peel off the facade of the world and get down to the truthiest truth underneath, which is, of course, stench and corruption.”

This must be an awfully old theme. Older even than The Matrix, I imagine. In that movie, the hero is invited to take a blue pill if he wants to persist in the pleasant and elaborate illusion that is human life — or a red pill if he wants to wipe it away forever. If he chooses the latter, he will be doomed to live henceforth in a brutal and dangerous reality — but it’s the right thing to do, because it’s the Truth, you see.

In any age that prides itself (justly or not) on intellectual rigor and sophistication, this must be one of the chief temptations: to imagine that freshness and innocence are always the illusion, and corruption is always the reality, the core. (This theme is brilliantly dissected in John C. Wright’s journal here.)

But it’s a temptation. Not one perspective on life, not a valid point of view, not an interesting theme to explore. A temptation, also known as a lie.

Ransom, in C. S. Lewis’s Perelandra, battles directly with this lie when the Un-man, pursuing him on shattered limbs through the pitch-black caves of Venus, courts him horribly with the myth of life as a thin crust, an outer rind. The tempter says:
Picture the universe as an infinite globe with this very thin crust on the outside . . . . We are born on the surface of it and all our lives we are sinking through it. When we’ve got all the way through then we are what’s called Dead: we’ve got into the dark part inside, the real globe. If your God exists, He’s not in the globe –He’s outside, like a moon. As we pass into the interior we pass out of His ken. He doesn’t follow us in. . .
All the things you like to dwell on are outsides. A planet like our own . . . Or a beautiful human body. All the colours and pleasant shapes are merely where it ends, where it ceases to be. Inside, what do you get? Darkness, worms, heat, pressure, salt, suffocation, stink.
It took me many years to realize that I believed this myth, emotionally if not intellectually, and had done so since I was little. I am sure that many young people do. Happily, in my late 20s, I gradually got an easy reprieve: God saw fit to shower me with so many hints and breaths of eternal happiness that only a willful, intentional twisting away from the light would confuse me for long.
But there have been some times of confusion. Recently I suffered a spell of crushing misery. Things that I never even questioned had turned out to be shaky. Where I turned for consolation, there was perversion and malice. It didn’t even feel like a trial, because I didn’t know that the verdict was yet to come: It felt like the end had come, and there I was in the dark cave, and that was it. I had found the truth at last.But (O Lord, thou pluckest me) I came out. The darkness was answered with a spell of otherworldly happiness. The world was shining all the time. Angels leaped and rejoiced from every surface, basking and frolicking like otters in the glory of God-in-the-world. You will have to take my word for it, if this has never happened to you. I’d never seen anything like it, before or since. It lasted about three weeks.
The super-rational joy, the passionate interest I felt in the world didn’t last, but it was too real to forget or deny. One day, I was driving home from adoration. Now, I’m a typical crummy catholic who unwillingly drags herself there twice a month, so this day was unusual in that I had truly enjoyed my hour. I felt God’s presence in the chapel as substantially as I feel my husband’s presence when he walks in the door in the evening. We were there together, Christ and I, and it was fun.
So after my hour was over, I was headed home, hauling the car around the roundabout, idly watching out for clueless pedestrians. Tired snowbanks, blackened with exhaust, leaned into the road, and no birds sang. “Echhh,” I thought. “Well, that was very nice for an hour . . . but now back to the real world.”Then I thought, “Just a damn minute.” (At this point I think I actually put one finger up into the air like a stern lecturer.)
“That was the real world. Back in there, in the chapel. The gold. The almost audible affection and consolation. The unmistakable Presence. That was the real world. And I hereby repudiate that stupid other idea!” And, thanks be to God, the stupid idea slunk away.
Let’s just say it: Goodness, Truth, and Beauty are real. Everything else is not.Now, driving home and feeling better that particular afternoon is one thing. But repudiating this stupid idea every day in every way — rejecting utterly, without reservation, the temptation of the Matrix sensibility — is a matter of life and death.Why? Because we are still waiting for the truth to take up arms and vanquish the enemy once and for all. Yes, we know and believe that it will happen at the Second Coming — that then there will be no temptation, no mistake. Whichever pill we take, Christ the Warrior will be standing in front of us: good, beautiful, victorious, and unmistakably true.But right now?
The Beautiful is an anencephalic baby who somehow lives for three weeks and longer. The Good is a Host desecrated on You Tube. The True is the voice of a chubby DRE who preaches chastity to a handful of hardened, sarcastic teenagers.
In other words, for some reason, God is vulnerable. He has made Himself vulnerable in this world. I don’t know why.
The one thing we can do about it is to remember that this weakness, this darkness, this tired, dried up, worn out world — this is the illusion. This is the temporary state; this is the crust. Underneath it all is not darkness, heat, and stench.
Underneath it all, deep down, is the living water.
We must drink of it again and again, and we must offer it to each other, and remind each other that it is there. It will keep our heads clear until there can be no more confusion, once and for all.

Foundational Quotes from the Looney Tunes Canon

It would be hard to overstate how much Looney Tunes means to me. When that WB logo blossoms out of the void, it’s like a flower of joy blooming in my heart. That’s what it’s like, okay?

We all have our favorite scenes from Looney Tunes, and the kids can recite long swaths of dialogue by heart. But some phrases have actually worked their way into our everyday speech, to the point where we don’t even realize we’re quoting, say, a puma. Here are a few Looney Tunes phrases that have become Fisherized:


Oh, t’ree or fou-er.

Source: Rabbit’s Kin
Typical use: “What time do you think you’ll get out of that meeting?” – “Ohhh, t’ree or fou-er.”

It’s a sticky one, but I’m not happy about it. When Bugs Bunny is being sadistic to Daffy Duck (who would kill him if he could) or Elmer Fudd (ditto), it’s not so bad, because they were definitely asking for it. Even that poor fat opera singer somehow doesn’t gain our sympathy.  But Pete Puma — okay, he is an unpleasant character, and he did want to eat Bugs Bunny, but this is a creature who should be gently led by the hand to learn basket weaving. He shouldn’t have his head lumps hammered back into his skull with a special little sadism hammer Gosh. Bugs Bunny goes too far in this one. Anyway, “Oh, t’ree or fou-er” does pass my lips pretty often. I just can’t help it.


An innnnn-teresting monster

Source: Water, Water Everyhare

Typical use: “Is Irene dressed yet?”
“I guess so. She is wearing pajamas, a vampire cape, and a bucket on her head.”
“Well, she is an interesting monster.”


Ah’m a-splurgin!

This is the only YouTube clip I could find, and they’ve messed with the sound; not sure why. But the pertinent phrase in intact.  (You can see the same clip here, but I can’t embed it.)

Source: High Diving Hare
Typical use:  I’m in the supermarket with my daughter, looking at hot sauce. I decide to go for the big bottle, and turn around to shout at my daughter, “Ahhhh’m a-splurgin!” Of course it turns out to be not my daughter, but some nervous-looking stranger who scoots out of there pretty quick.


“Shoot him now! Shoot him now!” ” Pronoun trouble”  “Yays?” and ” . . . not again! . . . ” “You’re despicable.” and “Still lurking about.”
Also “Out of sheer honesty!” 

Source: All from that masterpiece, Rabbit Seasoning
Typical Use:  My kids can recite this entire cartoon. I think it’s pretty easy to imagine how the phrases “Yays?” “Not again!” “You’re despicable” and “Still lurking about!” and even “Shoot him now! Shoot him now!” would get used. “Pronoun trouble” is a little more arcane, but when your household is full of people who are just learning how to talk. So when someone is trying to tell you, “MAMA, he said hit me back because I told him she took my spoon but she hit him first and you said he was supposed to give it to meeeeeeeeee,” you can imagine how there is often, in fact, pronoun trouble.

“Out of sheer honesty!” is for when you are a terrible human being and you’re not going to deny it, and yet even you are unable to believe what the other guy is trying to get away with. Useful for conversations about Joe Biden, or Robert Sungenis, or when you are checking over the kitchen after the kids cleaned it, and you discover that, rather than wash a pot, they have hidden it inside the toaster oven.


No one will ever know!

Source: “The Dover Boys at Pimento University”
Typical use: “I’ll just slip this tooth fairy money under the pillow of the twelve-year-old, who is wide awake. NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW”

Kind of a weird and forgettable cartoon. I have no idea why this phrase stuck. Probably because, around the time we first saw it, my son was about three and could be found running circles around his three older sisters, shrieking, “SNEAKIN’ AROUND!” My kids are subtle that way.


What for you bury me in the cold, cold ground?

I can’t find a clip and I’ve been working on this post, off an on, for six days. If you haven’t seen it and/or can’t call it to mind, I’m just sorry for you.

Source: “Devil May Hare”
Typical Use:  You have just given the toddler everything she asked for: an apple, a banana, a banana that is peeled right, instead of one that is peeled wrong; a cracker, a cup of water, a cup of water in the right kind of cup, instead of the wrong kind of cup; the right kind of cup with MILK in it, not WATER. You offer to read her a favorite book, and she freaks out, flails around, gives you a bloodly lip with her flailing head, and then settles down on your lap, and pees on you.

“What for you bury me in the cold, cold ground?” is one of the few things the Tasmanian Devil ever actually says. To me, this speaks of the desperate genius of classic Looney Tunes. You just know that the writers were half in the bag at all times, and probably battling against the manic despair that most creative people feel when they do the thing that ends up making them money. Did they have dreams of rubbing elbows with Checkov? Did they imagine themselves writing dialogue for rabbits and ducks?  Anyway, rarely has heart spoken to heart more poignantly than when this cri de coeur slips past the Tasmanian Devil’s spittle flecked lips. I weep for the Taz and the Daffy Duck, and of course the Wile E. Coyote, in all of us. I am despicable, and I know it.

PIC How about ending this cartoon before I hit?

Somebody needs to go check on Oregon.

Is this even real? This is hilarious.  From Estately via io9: top Google searches from each state.




PIC map what each state googles

I will admit, I didn’t have high hopes for my home state of New Hampshire, but . . . free kittens!  D’awwwwww.  The Estately link lists several of the top Google searches for each state, with a brief analysis.  Some of my favorites:

FLORIDA:  Alligator Wrestling / Botox / Eyebrow Piercing / Hulk Hogan / Juviderm / Lice / Mazda Miata / MDMA / Obamacare / Stand Your Ground / Swingers / Viagra / What is sarcasm?

GEORGIA:  Athlete’s Foot / Butt Implants / Cooking Crack / Divorce / Spanx / Weave / What is tofu?

MICHIGAN:  Knock-Knock Jokes / Little Caesars / Omelette / Taco Bell / Topless Bar / Where do babies come from?

OREGON:  Allah / Sex / Spork

Analysis:  Somebody needs to go and check on Oregon.

If this is a hoax, I don’t want to know it. How did your state make out? Are you surprised?

One slice of Christian theology without so much puppydog in it, please.

Here’s a  rightfully exasperated post on why we shouldn’t teach kids that Jesus is just playing teddybear switcheroo with us, like so:

PIC Jesus with even bigger teddybear

Urgh. She spells out what the problems are with this image (including that alarming blue necrotic tissue. Seriously, did The Big One fall, or what?), and what would have fixed them. She opens with something that rang oh-so-true:

when I first saw the pic, I actually thought someone was just making fun of us crazy Christians again. But then, I realized it was–likely–well-intended and promoted by a Christian.

It got 47 “likes.” I giggled painfully here, because the other day, I posted a graphic of a quote from my book:

(you can find it and other share-able graphics on my Tumblr page).  The inimitable Deirdre Mundy reminded me that, if I wanted the big-time social media shares, there really needs to be an adorably pathetic puppy involved. So I whipped out my Comic Sans and my blatant disregard for copyright laws, and posted this:

And damn your eyes, it got shared all over the place.

Christians. We are responsible for 90% of the western hemisphere’s greatest art and highest thought. We produced Aquinas and Michelangelo. GET IT TOGETHER.


Caption contest!

For more *ahem* brilliance, see “Michelle Obama trusted the internet with a picture of herself holding a sign.”

“More human”: Speaking Exchange draws generations together

This is just lovely. Brazilian students who want to become more fluent in English connect via Web chats with elderly men and women in a retirement home.

The conversations are saved and evaluated by an English teacher. And in the meantime, more than a better grasp of English can develop.

Adweek says:

The differences in age and background combine to make the interactions remarkable to watch. And the participants clearly grow close to one another, to the point where they end up speaking from the heart in a more universal language than English.

Ah, to be needed still. What a wonderful idea, and — as someone who constantly frets and worries about screen time and artificial experiences and alienation — how encouraging to see that technology really does bring people together sometimes.

Holy Cow, My Mother Was Right.

My sister, Devra Torres, shares a few of the things we love about our mother.  My Personalist Mother includes this tribute, which is absolutely true:

 If there was anything that needed correcting about the way we dressed or talked or treated each other, she was going to correct it because it was stupid or evil, not because it reflected badly on her self-image.  It was part of a theme that ran through our childhood: Take truth seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.

My mother reduced, reused, and recycled long, long, long before it was cool, and so she will totally understand if I rerun this mother’s day post which I wrote in 2012.  Happy mother’s day, Ima! I know you’ll deny it all, but it’s twoo.


Holy Cow, My Mother Was Right

About the following, for starters:

Reading is what people do, like breathing or blinking.  Read to yourself, read out loud to your kids (any age), read with your spouse at night.  Every time you turn off the TV, you’ve won back a little bit of your life.

Not everything that’s good is explicitly Catholic, and not everything that calls itself  Catholic is good.  True for art, music, ideas, lives.

But sooner or later, you have to decide which side you’re on.  I think she said this to me when she saw the trashy cover of a CD I was listening to as a teenager.  You can make excuses and give yourself passes, but your spiritual life is made up of these choices:  there’s no such thing as (a) the religious part of your life, and (b) the rest of your life.  If you want to be a Catholic, you have to live that way all the time, even if it means cutting out things you enjoy.

Functionality is beautiful.  If it works, then it’s a good system, even if it looks silly.

There are worse things in life than being embarrassed. I remember hearing one of my parents’ friends telling his conversion story.  The only part I remember is, “And right there, in the middle of the airport, I kneeled down and said to God . . . ”  I remember rolling my eyes and thinking, “Boy, that sums it up.”  It seemed like the rest of the world was the airport, going about its business, and our family was the weirdos, standing out, doing something different, acting like freaks — not always about religious things, but about everything.  Well, it turns out that children (and teenagers) do not die from standing out.  Also, when they grow up, they will be able to enjoy something the Normals never enjoy:  the exquisite thrill of fitting in.  I still get a delicious little transgressive frisson when I make cake from a box mix, JUST LIKE OTHER PEOPLE DO.  Brrr!

Never lose hope about other people.  Maybe you can’t change them — in fact, you definitely can’t change them — but God can.  So keep praying for them.  Even if they never know you’re doing it (and even if you never see the results yourself), it may be the most important thing you do for them.

Everybody’s tired.  Nobody feels really well.  Everybody feels like they’re no good at least some of the time.  Now please get up and go to work anyway.

Accept the people that God sends into your life.  My mother is a magnet for strange, needy, difficult people.  They seem to realize that she’s no good at social chit chat, and will answer them directly, on whatever bizarre terms they choose to start the conversation; and she will help them if she can.  She is ready and willing to talk about anything, as long as it’s interesting or important.  When I was little, I hated having our house open to strange and unpredictable people, but now I wish I were courageous enough to have that kind of house.

A good idea is worth repeating, and repeating, and repeating.  People may groan and say, “Not that again!” but they’ll thank you later when they actually remember it.

You go to Mass to worship God.  If you’re there for anything other than that, you’re wasting your time.  My mother would answer me any time I called her name, any time at all, except during the consecration and elevation.  I remember being very young and being baffled that she didn’t seem to hear me when her head was bowed.  Eventually I figured it out!

Go outside for a minute; you’ll feel better.

Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.  My mother would love to live in a one-room shack with a cot, a computer, a hot plate, and a drain in the floor for easy cleaning.  Instead, my parents maintain a dusty, cumbersome, 12+-room Victorian house, because sometimes people need a place to stay (as we did one year, when our entire family had a collective nervous breakdown and needed shelter).

Catholics aren’t afraid of science.

Catholics aren’t afraid of history, or sex, or death.

Catholics aren’t afraid of anything. Actually, of course they are, but they are the ones who are equipped to forge ahead anyway.

Charity believes all things.  The good you see in people may not be the whole truth about them, but it is true.  So start there, and make a fuss over it until it turns into something more.

Don’t pretend to know things you don’t know, and don’t pretend to like things you don’t like.

Poetry is meant to be read out loud.

When in doubt, add more garlic.

So, happy early mother’s day, Ima.  I’m sorry we kept giving you those flowers even though you were allergic.  I’m sorry we stole all your pens and tape and thumb tacks, and I’m sorry about the bowl of sugar in the dresser drawer.  And also, you know, all the other stuff.  I’ll forgive you for those humiliating bathing suit shopping trips, if you forgive me for everything else!

Have you been in a “crisis pregnancy”?

I’m working on a project, and would love to hear from you  – women or men. I’d like to know a few things, and you’re welcome to share anonymously if you’d rather.

  • What was the most helpful to you, either materially, emotionally, or spiritually?  This could include something that someone did or said, or something that you realized on your own.
  • What response did you get that was unhelpful?
  • If you could speak to someone in your situation, what would you say?

Please don’t put your answer in the comment box; please email me at with “CRISIS PREGNANCY” in the subject heading. Thanks in advance for your help!