Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wonders in Stop Motion

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
- Fr. Theodore Hesburgh

On a lighter note than the previous post...

In the world of YouTube, there's the hilarious, there's the offensive, and there's the people who should never have been given such a widespread platform for fame (see: Chocolate Rain). But every now and again I get to stumble across something truly incredible and awesome.

Last week I was driving back to my Aunt & Uncle's house (where I'm living before the Big Day) and I was listening to my favorite not-too-mindless radio station, Cities 97. You know how you can hear a song and it seems like the rest of the world gets a little bit quieter and duller, because you're so tuned in to how much you love this new song? Well, that's how I felt with Oren Lavie's "Her Morning Elegance," off his album "The Opposite Side of the Sea." Sweet song.

Then the DJ mentions that the video has like 4 billion views on YouTube, and he throws out some cryptic comment about how innovative and terrific the video is. So I go check it out. And I can't help but spread the good word...

You're welcome!

Headed to Orlando to visit K Rae's fam this weekend, where the highs are in the 80s and 90s. That'll be a nice break for my currently transparent skin... SPF 200, here I come!


P.S. Still on page 1059 of Atlas Shrugged - it's slow going...

Now playing: Matt Maher - Set Me As A Seal
via FoxyTunes

Monday, March 23, 2009

Roman vs. Trojan: The Pope in Africa

The first two facts which a healthy boy or girl feels about sex are these: first that it is beautiful and then that it is dangerous. - G.K. Chesterton

Is an 81 year old man able to identify with the suffering of AIDS? Is a lifelong academic stupid enough to think that condoms cause AIDS? Just how out of touch is the Church?

Yes, no, and not (respectively).

There's been tons of buzz lately about the Pope's recent comments on the AIDS epidemic in Africa, and the inadequacy of condoms to solve the problem. Some of this buzz has come from straightforward media coverage (like here and here), some has been a little more straightbackward (like here), and most has been personal speculation and cynicism by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. And all of it prompted a lot of personal reflection and reaction on my part, and so...without further ado, a personal interpretation of the two sides of the Pope's condom comments!

1) The Rational Side, or "The Pope cares about your body"

The Pope is clearly NOT saying that condoms are some kind of superconductor for STDs, as if wearing one during sex increases the likelihood of transmitting HIV. What he's saying is that
condoms are never 100% effective in protecting against STDs. And Benny is just agreeing with the CDC when he says that - according to a survey they did in Haiti (a third-world country, like much of Africa), "1 of 42 uninfected partners (2%) became infected with consistent condom use." And for any intelligent person, 1 out of 42 is one too many.

Too many people believe that using a condom = zero chance of disease or pregnancy. For you Friends fans out there, you can remember the famous "Well, they should put that on the box!" quote by Ross (above, 2 minutes in). And those misconceptions exist in the U.S., where there's even better sex ed than in Africa.

Abstinence is the only failsafe form of STD prevention. But don't take my word for it - Trojan condoms and the CDC both agree. And even beyond that, abstinence education has been extremely effective in lowering cases of HIV through programs like Abstinence Africa and Stay Alive. It only stands to reason that if we're serious about eliminating HIV for good, we ought to use the most effective means possible - abstinence.

2) The Spiritual Side, or "The Pope cares about your soul"

The fact of the matter is that condoms are morally unacceptable in every situation. They interfere with the procreative aspect of sex, degrading the beauty of sexuality. Condoms provide the illusion of consequence-free sexual encounters: "We definitely won't transmit disease if I wear a condom." They take the beauty of sex out of God's hands and force it into human control. So while the disease-prevention aspects of condoms are admirable, the immoral aspects make condom use wrong no matter what - it's the basic moral principle that the ends NEVER justify the means.

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one… - Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI

The Church doesn't want her children to settle for "good enough." If we're called to be like Christ (1 Peter 1:16) and to "be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48), then we should never settle for anything less. The argument that "people are just going to have sex" just isn't good enough. Human nature can settle in and sin can overtake us, but it's our call to always strive for holiness - whether we live in Minnesota (brr!), Africa (warm!) or anywhere in between.

And behind all this is the crazy idea that an old German man in Rome loves us enough to challenge us - and I kinda like that idea!


P.S. I'm on page 1057 out of 1168 of Atlas Shrugged... And I can't WAIT to post about how much I love to hate Ayn Rand!

Now playing: Shawn McDonald - Take My Hand
via FoxyTunes

Friday, March 20, 2009

"In the beginning..."

Whatever this Christian phenomenon was, it was certainly not the beige system of thought that had been presented to me. Rather it seemed to me the strangest, most exotic, surprising, and uncanny of all the religious paths I had encountered. For at the very center of it is…a God who comes after us with a reckless abandon, breaking open his own heart in love in order to include us in the rhythm of his own life. ~ Fr. Robert Barron

<-- This is me, metaphorically speaking. Or maybe literally? Wouldn't it be sweet if this were actually a picture of me in the womb 27+ years ago? Although I doubt they had this kind of technology back in '82. But back to metaphors, I am but a fetus in the blogosphere, full of potential and life. I've been leery of the idea of blogging for a good while, but I figure with a specific focus and a specific audience, I can avoid being too self-serving (although I don't promise to avoid soapboxes).

Hence, welcome aboard the "U.S.S. Through Catholic Eyes", a vessel for blogging from a Catholic perspective, challenging elements of the country and world with a worldview that starts and ends with the Church in a real and accessible way! Thanks for joining me!

I've always liked the image of the Church as being "radically moderate"; daring to radically avoid the extremes that threaten humanity and the earth. i.e. A Catholic...

- Lives in and through the Trinity regardless of the situation
- Avoids the extremes of addiction and puritanism
- Finds a spirituality that's unique to their personal call
- Lives a morality that lies between relativism and scrupulosity
- Realizes that being Catholic looks different for everyone (i.e. the theology of vocation)
- Doesn't embrace the material world as totally fulfilling or reject it as completely evil
- Can't
, in good conscience, be a full-platform Republican or Democrat

So there's the theology I'm working with, flavored with the spice of my own life and ministry experiences... Like it? Disagree? Don't just sit there, let me know!

And I can't think of a more appropriate way to end this flagship post than with this little guy right here! I think he embraces the truth and love of the Church, don't you?

Now playing: Guster - Parachute
via FoxyTunes