Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Can someone explain to me why so many Christians, and Catholics in particular, are so embarrassed by other Christians who speak clearly and passionately about Christ? I have seen Catholics rise up in anger at some "ignorant creationist" speaking derisively about Darwin, but the same people shrink in horror at the mention of Eternal Truth, which Christians are allegedly possessed of, and whose absence may result in the eternal damnation of the person addressed. It is a strange paradox.

Monday, September 08, 2003

A good commercial

On the other hand, a GOOD commercial would go something like this...

A man, his wife and baby are in a doctor's office waiting room. The nurse comes out, and invites the woman and her baby in, but the man stays behind. He reaches into his backpack, and pulls out some Oreos, and starts to eat them. But he starts to chew a little more deliberately, and then cautiously looks around the room, only to realize that he is surrounded by mothers, waiting their turns and nursing their babies.

"Got milk?" the announcer asks.
Yesterday I learned at the Parish Mass (not the campus one) that Jesus' GREATEST miracle was eating with poor people, and allowing a woman to touch him "without going 'HARRUMPH!!!'" It would seem that the Gospel reading means we are getting it all wrong when we go around talking about miracles, and that Jesus performed them principally to mislead us.

Possibly what Father MEANT to say was that placing all the emphasis on Big Miracles (and little ones, such as the condensation version of the Blessed Mother that is alleged to have appeared at Milton Hospital a few months ago) might cause us to note those things too much, and the "when I was naked, hungry, etc., you cared for me," aspect of the gospel. To THAT I would certainly take no exception.

As it is, however, Father appears to have reopened the "Faith vs. Works" battle we only settled with the Lutherans a few years ago, and he appears to have come down entirely on the side of the Lutheran caricature of the Catholic position. I never thought I would hear a Catholic priest call anything other than the Resurrection and the Eucharist the "greatest" miracles.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Possibly only those of you who live in the northeast will have noticed, but "Freindly's" has been running a lot of new TV ads, and it is striking that Friendly's doesn't seem to think that any black people eat at their restaurants.
One of the things that disturbs me most about college students is their concern with "perception." How I, as recipient, perceive what you, as speaker, are saying is (to the college student's mind) of equal or even greater weight than what you are saying or attempting to say. (Astute readers will recognize the ugliness of deconstructionism here.) It doesn't seem to occur to them to ask first if what I am saying is "true" or "false." It is perhaps the most selfish thing about them, and the thing I will battle most often. It allows students complete freedom from obligation, for if MY perception has the same or greater weight than YOUR speech, then I need not reign in my animal passions and emotions (and hence, may commit the sin of gluttony, a crime against temperance). But the logical conclusion of such thinking is anarchy and chaos, and they don't see it when you try to point it out.
My OTHER problem right now has to do with the typical student preferring to complain instead of dispute. I said something the other night at the all student meeting for my dorm that gave offense to some students, not because it was in any way offensive, but because the students in question don't know that the word "cardinal" in conjunction with "virtues" has nothing whatsoever to do with those men in the bright red, silk pyjamas, and that 5,000ish years ago marks the beginning of recorded civilization, and the Hamurabic code, not simply the birth of Judaism. But only one student, and bless him for it since he is on my dorm's staff, bothered to come speak to me about the concern. The others merely took offense that I was proselytizing, and will no doubt complain about religious harassment at some point. The Dean's office will (if history is any guide) issue me a stern warning without bothering to take interest in the fact that the complaint-lodgers have no legs to stand on, and rest only on lazy asses. But if that happens, I think I can probably get some good coverage in the student newspapers.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

On the other hand, I'm extremely annoyed at the way in which the residential program is (or really, is not) administered here. I have only now learned that there will be weeks in which I have official, structured obligations as many as 5 nights. Last year, 1 was the norm, and any more than that was extremely rare. I come from a way of thinking that says you communicate with people at the outset, not 1 month into things, about their time commitments. So, today, I am not enthused at all about the job, and really want to go let one of the people in charge know about it. Loudly.

Monday, September 01, 2003

I just heard this expression, and I like it: "Cancel my subscription--I don't need your issues."
I cannot say that the last two days of issuing keys to returning students has improved my opinion of adolescents any, nor of their parents. I *can* say that I need to start a Parish parents' group, to discuss how we might persuade our children that recreational equipment comes from a store, not from your body.

Also, I have to say that, in spite of the "Gather" hymnal, full of Haugen and Haas and Schutte, and all things hideous in modern liturgical music, the Freshman welcome Mass last night (at 10pm, for all love) was less bad than I had feared. Yes, I was instructed to greet my neighbors at the time I should be reflecting (but the congregation was quiet and respectful, not chatty and boisterous as it had been in my day). Yes, I was instructed to hold hands during the singing of the Lord's Prayer (but non-Catholics were invited to join the Communion line with their arms crossed to receive a blessing, not the Eucharist). And even though the hymns mostly suck, the student choir/musical group had not a single guitar to its name, and the arrangements and inclusion of a flute and trumpet were nicely done, and actually improved some of the musical dreck.

I'm still skeptical, however, that the Chaplain is going to follow the new GIRM, and abolish some of the do-it-yourselfiness of the campus liturgy. I hope, genuinely hope, I am shown to have been unduly skeptical, but hope and optimism are not quite synonymous.
Peter Nixon blogged the other day at Sursum Corda "Church Without Borders, a a joint project of the Diocese and the Maryknoll Missionaries." This reminds me of one of the saddest things I have found on campus since returning. The poison of "diversity" has so consumed the campus, that the University Christian Fellowship now must compete with the Asian Christian Fellowship and the African one.

Of course I'm aware that our Romish faith has a history in this country of parishes segregated as well, but in recent years such segregation has largely been of language, not "race." (Though, of course, some language segregations also amount to the latter.)

But it was only 15 years ago when I first arrived here, and at that time, there was only one University Christian Fellowship, and if Catholics were informally excluded, we were excluded based on our perceived Satan-worship, not the color of our skins. Divisions in the Body of Christ based on meaningless things like race make me shake my head in sadness, and my fist in anger.

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.