Saturday, August 30, 2003

Between the picture of my beautiful little girl and the birth announcement are some actual Kairos blog entries. They're kind of buried, so you may have missed them. I'll try to get back to more regular bomb-throwing, now that the training period for the dorm job is over, and the Lad enters first grade in a few days.
A smidge more about "The Rules"

Most people who have taken math classes have been told, "show your work." Math teachers insist on this because math is not simply about getting the answer right (though that is obviously its final objective) but also about the process of arriving at that answer. Excepting only the people with unusual brains, most of us must learn a method for arriving at the correct answer.

When I was in 8th grade, I spent the first quarter and half of the second completely and utterly mystified by algebra in general and the quadratic equation in particular. I fumbled my way along, getting just enough of the pieces of it right to maintain a bit-better-than-passing average, but I really had no idea why problem 1 on the test might earn me 8 points out of 10, but problem 2 only 3 out of 10. My teacher, Ms. Krause, spent a lot of extra time tutoring me, working problems with me without ever once telling me to look in the back of the book to see if I had arrived at the correct solutions. Every time I seemed to get a little closer to clarity, she would focus in more tightly on the concepts and process. Eventually, my second quarter progress report went home, with a note that "the light went on," or words to that effect. Once I understood *how* to work an equation, we went back to focusing on the answer as much as the process.

So it is with my attitude about "The Rules" that I blogged on a while ago. My frustration in The Case of the Lapsed Catholic Communicant (sounds like a Fr. Dowling mystery, doesn't it?) is not about what is best, but what is possible. It does a person no good to be given a right answer (something my algebra teacher pointedly avoided doing) when the recipient is incapable of understanding it, or repeating arrival at it. She may have been in the midst of a revelation about how Communion and grace function, but by focusing on getting to the solution correctly, people may be obstructing her learning. It is absolutely essential that at some point, she come to understand not only the pieces of the process, but the whole process, and thus the solution. But to interfere, to insist that she do the problem the right way and come to the right solution, while denying her the ability to understand both parts, is not to serve her or aid her salvation at all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Kairos Baby unveiled

Thanks to the kindness of Tom, all the world can bask in my good fortune.

It occurs to me that nothing I have read about NFP take into account the decline in rates of death in childbirth. That is, I realized that in another century and even in the present in other parts of the world, it is very possible, and even probable that Mrs. K-G would have died trying to give birth to the Lad, and might be suffering a fatal infection right now from the second birth had she survived the first. Even if she did survive both, there's a very good chance she would have wound up permanently unable to bear more children. Some female bodies are not especially suited to pregnancy and childbirth. It would seem that a concept like NFP ought at least to address these facts, before the (invariably healthy and menstrually regular) authors cheerfully tell such women that this just their cross to bear, and that thanks to the wonders of modern science they can now bear it over and over again...
Strange things happen sometimes

A bit over a month ago, I was looking at this dorm job as primarily a way to get free housing. I'd do all the paperwork, and the basic supervision, and leave the "emotional" stuff to Mrs. Kairos Guy (roommate conflicts, "triage" counseling, etc.) But a funny thing happened. I remembered a St. Blog's conversation from a while back, about looking at your work as a way of witnessing, and not merely seeing things like "Our Sunday Visitor" as worthwhile work and discarding the other things as merely material.

With that in mind, I have found a real enthusiasm for the job, even though the training has coincided with the birth of my daughter, and the return of Mrs. K-G to the hospital for some postpartum surgery. (She seems to be fine now, but prayers are always appreciated.) Instead of merely renewing my low-level hostility for my alma mater, the job has allowed me a new pleasure, because I can be what a Christian is truly called to be: a subversive. During a finger-wagging lecture on race by a couple of lost children of the 60s the other day, I actually stood up and complained that the so-called facilitators were actually encouraging and continuing racism, by essentially instructing us to continue encountering one another as objects, rather than subjects. (One student approvingly told me later that I was echoing Martin Buber, whom I--rather disgracefully, I might add--pretended to know a little about.) The silly gits who were running the thing merely heard the white guy in the back of room say he wanted to be treated as an individual, and proceeded to lecture me on how it's only people who are in power who say that. (If I have so much power, how come I'm living in a college dorm at age 33, by the way?) But at least some of the students, including some of African descent, sought me out to say they liked what I had to say. My hall opening meeting (with all 400ish residents) is going to speak a lot about the virtues of Charity and Humility (though I lack the courage to say much about chastity just yet...).

The really weird part of this, though, is that my enthusiasm for Christian subversion is carrying over into enthusiasm for the job as a whole. I have found a desire not to be contrary for its own sake (which was my main role as an undergraduate), but actually to lead. I want not only to offer students an alternative to a lot of the nonsensical pap that the Academy is feeding them, but to provide them a model and the intellectual tools to do something better, and a lot of the RAs seem to like what they hear.

This isn't a blog entry that reflects a lot of humility, but it should. That these things are happening at all has so very much to do with the fact that I have (for the first time in my adult life) recognized in a job a true Christian Vocation, and have accepted it and asked for help in fulfilling it. When the readings a few weeks ago presented Elijah in the desert asking for death--hitting the wall, as it were--Mrs. K-G and I both related to it in terms of 13 months of almost continuous pregnancy (save for 6 or 7 weeks following the miscarriage). But now I see in it also some sense of where I have been professionally for some years: unsure of how to take the next step; unable to discern further value or plan in my work. I have some new, limited understanding of how a missionary must feel, and why he might choose such a strange life. To model a Christian family in the midst of a viscerally anti-Catholic, secular institution with good cheer and a willingness to speak up is a challenge I could not take up alone, but by Heaven it is FUN.
Pop Daddy is in the House

I have a special communication from Greg Popcak, MCSW, KC OBE, VC, and LMNOP:

"Ave Maria Radio has a chance to be carried on the XM Satellite Network. They are currently considering our proposal and things look good.

We are attempting to get St Blog's to help us out by publicizing our petition drive to get Ave Maria on XM. I would really appreciate if you could spread the word, especially by asking your blog readers (and anyone else you know in the real or virtual world) to complete our e-petition. There is no commitment to purchase XM equipment. This is just about asking them to carry Catholic Radio."

I have tuned into his radio show occasionally (via the web) and it's really much better than his blogging. (Sorry, Greg. You knew I'd get a dig in, right? Long time readers know that Pop Daddy and I sometimes get into rather heated brawls...)

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

So, Sally is still having a hard time, and the baby has been slow to adjust, as you might expect. And I am in the middle of training for the dorm job, and running back and forth between that training and taking care of the family. So I walk out of the dining hall (at the farthest point on campus from my apartment) and am promptly stung on the toe by a yellow jacket.

I would recommend not standing near me any time soon, lest the gods send famine or plague, to follow up pestilence and labor.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Born this day

9:29 am, 16 August 2003, Dierdre Niamh ("Kneeve") Kairos Guy entered this life, 8 lbs exactly, 20.5 inches, after 31 hours of labor. Mother and daughter are doing less than perfectly, but pretty well on the whole. Dad is having a couple of beers and going to sleep, while The Lad spends the night with his Grampy.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

I have a computer that I would like to turn into a Digital TV recorder, a la TiVO. Does anyone have any experience doing this? I know I need a hardware adapter, and some software, but I'm not very familiar with the products out there. Any suggestions?

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Francis Fukuyama presents an interesting scenario for the Iraqi WMD debate. I still think that weapons will be found; I suspect that the big leads haven't made the papers yet. But this is an interesting article, even if some or many weapons do turn up.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Amy Welborn has an interesting post about Andrew Sullivan up at her place. I didn't post a comment, because by the time I saw her thing, there were already 88 comments. So my thoughts are here. (Go read her thing first, if you haven't already.)

As someone who continues to struggle with some (different) Church teachings, I have only one piece of advice to offer Sullivan (as if he cared) and others who struggle with the conflicting conclusion Amy writes about. (She wrote, "To even contemplate the opposite - that these desires and this self-identity are not, as we're living them out, consistent with God's greater plan for creation...we are left very possibly, with two quick conclusions: that either God cannot possibly love us, because if he did, why would he permit these desires to even be planted within us, or that there is no God at all.")

My advice is, in essence, not to draw any firm, final conclusions at all. Isn't that strange? After all, the whole point is a struggle for truth, right? But to draw a firm conclusion with the issue still in doubt is harmful. Instead, I try to formulate and reformulate the conflict in a way that, each time, reduces the causes of doubt/difficulty/conflict. Two apparently contradictory things are often both true, if only a person can look at it from the right perspective (as anyone who has ever solved a quadratic equation can attest: in that case, two perfectly opposite conclusions are true). That's not to say I live, or recommend living, with cognitive dissonance. It's to say that the reformulations often illuminate some aspect either of the difficult teaching, or of my difficulty with it, that previous formulations had not. That illumination often helps remove a piece--sometimes a mere pebble--of the conflict. This is, in fact, how I came not only to accept the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but to embrace it.

It may be well and good for the black-and-white-seers of the world to say, "Rome has spoken, the matter is settled," but for those of us with more muddied worldviews, we win our salvation as an army wins a desperate battle, one hill, one yard at a time. No doubt someone will contradict me, but I have always found that a willingness to keep struggling, to seek a way to accept that which one wants desparately not to accept, to be the only way to allow "primacy of conscience" to have any real value, when one's conscience tells one that received Tradition is mistaken. Some may positively sprint towards the truth. I have often found it necessary to crawl. Determining with certainty any solution in the midst of that crawl invariably leads to a halt, and it seems to me that the halt is really the fatal thing.
So far as I can tell (from the papers; a risky source admittedly), this Episcopal Bishop-elect is chiefly qualified for his bishopric because of his homosexuality. All his defenders talk about the importance of his appointment because of the "message" of "inclusion" and "tolerance" that it sends. The thing that most appalls me about it is not his homosexuality, but the fact that he was married and had children, and then abandoned them (whether by their blessing or no, abandon them he did ) in the name of self. I don't care whether he loves his partner, or how long they have been together; it is irrelevant. He made public vows that were either dishonest when he made them, or that he later decided were not binding. That may be a cause for compassion and charity, and an occassion for forgiveness, but it ought also to be disqualification from episcopal office. What reason has anyone to believe that he will not at some point decide that the Resurrection is merely a symbol of what will happen to our spiritual selves if only we follow Christ's message of "tolerance" and "social justice"?
Have I mentioned how much I dislike the affectation "We are pregnant"? "We" are certainly expecting, and "we" are even going to have a baby. But "we are pregnant" is only true for simultaneously-with-child lesbians. It's a further muddying of the role and importance of fathers. I cannot carry a child; ergo, I must have different responsibilities. But if "we" can be pregnant, then "we" are interchangeable.

Golly, I'm cranky today. Must be the hormones.

Monday, August 04, 2003

"The Devil made me do it!"

When did we decide that Demonic possession is mostly a bunch of stories in the Gospel stemming from a misunderstanding of epilepsy and/or mental illness? I didn't get that memo, even though I have seen that the idea is a mere punchline for Rationalist jokes about religious people. ("I comMAYAND the demons to come out of this may-an!" always in the Southern accent that is Intellectual code-speak for "Moron.")

Among the many reasons I won't even go so far as to suggest that Uday and Qusay, evil sociopaths though they most certainly were, are now roasting for eternity is, I don't have any ability to say whether "Uday" and "Qusay" existed as real personalities capable of free will and choosing right from wrong. Am I responsible for my actions if the Devil himself is directing them, against my wishes but out of my power to stop?

We'd all have a healthier view of the world, I think, if we acknowledged not merely sin, but the existence of a force in the universe (still a creature, but a force nonetheless) actively engaged in the increase of sin, sometimes by acts of direct intervention in the material world. We don't want to get all Flip Wilson about our actions, of course, but we should be aware that there is an Enemy, and he sometimes takes rather direct action.
Happy Natal Day to Mrs. Kairos Guy, officially the age of her Body To Come in the Resurrection of the Just! I know she's hoping that the body you get then is a little more idealized than the 8.5 months-pregnant version, but really, I'm just hoping to get to the "Just" part.
I think my REAL problem is that I believe people who disagree with me are idiots. And willful idiots to boot.