My world

Feeling a hair overwhelmed

Coming back from the holiday weekend, a sick kiddo, lots of work, and early morning phone conference, shopping, cooking, argggggg!

 All too much it seems overwhelming today, or as our friends over at The Random Yak say… I am in the weeds.  Deep.  Can’t see the edge yet, might get there someday.

My world

I shouldn’t laugh but I did.

So you might remember me in passing mentioning an interview I heard on NPR with director Brian De Palma about his then upcoming movie “Redacted”.  Now I would never in a million years watch this movie.  And it looks like no one else is watching it either.  Apparently a whopping 3000 people bothered to buy a ticket for it when it opened this weekend.  That is in fifteen theaters nation wide.   I really want this movie to bomb; that is what cause the momentary mirthful laugh.

The reviews are very mixed.  There are good reviews for the film they seem to all be from people with very slanted political opinions against the war.  They basically say “the movie sucks but it is really heart-felt and shocking so that makes it good.”  Most reviews go along the lines of “what a horrid mess of a film.”   

We are in a war and horrible things are going to happen on both sides.  Some few of our soldiers will be responsible for atrocities and some will be committed against us.  While horrific and definitely worth looking at it is NOT the whole story.  Those soldiers who commit crimes should be prosecuted and they are.   If you want to look at our troops serving in Iraq as people with no moral sense, who are too naive and confused to know why they are there or what they are doing;  if you want to see our troops in the absolutely worse light possible (real or imagined) this might be the film for you.   But it doesn’t seem like too many people are interested.

And I think that is how it should be.  I think what most anti-war filmmakers are missing is a very simple fact.  The American public knows the US soldier.  He is that nice boy who lives across the street, that fellow in my WoW guild with the two kids,  she is my friend from college,  my husband’s friend from the USMC who reuped to be there with “his guys”,  and my sister-in-law the single mom with the two very young kids staying with their grandparents.  These are people we know and love.  We don’t want to watch this sort of thing.  Not yet, not now, not when each night our prayers include “please protect ____ while she is in Iraq, her little ones need her home.”


And yes, the US public by and large wants the troops HOME.  But that is a much different thing than being open to watching the absolute, animal,l dead-worst spin possible on what the US solider is doing.  No one wants to think someone they know could be the psycho who does these horrible things and no one wants to think their loved one is serving with someone like that either.  The place and time for movies like this will be about five years after the war  is done and all our loved ones are home and our hearts rest easy that they made it home safe and whole.

Advent · My world

One Week Before Advent

Today I went out to the craft store and picked up some floral supplies for Advent.  I was really excited to find some fake poinsettia blooms in purple and pink.  So I picked up three purple and one pink.  I had found a few years ago and I have had trouble finding them since.  I use the floral supplies year after year… but after ten years these particular items were looking a look worse for the wear.


My world

Black and White

Several weeks ago my fifteen year old daughter, my mother and I were talking about good and evil.  I have a tendency to be more conservative in my opinions than my mother.  This topic was no exception.  Mom’s take on good and evil is kind of predictable; no one is really evil except for horrible, mass-murdering, dictators like Hitler or maybe child-molesters.  She sees most people as good and trying their best and feels there is no right or wrong on most things – nothing is black and white.  I think I surprised her in the idea that I don’t think anyone is truly totally evil any more than one can be truly totally good.  But many things have a right and a wrong.


For me principles are black or white; people are always a mix.  It is almost alarming how often people miss something that seems rather obvious. Horrendous and unnatural acts such as abortion are excused and brought to the area of grey because some, otherwise good person, fell to that point in a moment of desperation.  We want to excuse the failings of others and ourselves not by saying that we fail to hold to good principles (because that would make us evil) but that principles are more guidelines, and in no way really binding or even valid.   The only way to make people, as a whole, good is to create a reality in which nothing is bad.  No one can be judged on anything because there is no standard.


But there is something about that which doesn’t work, because we know that evil is real.  Children are murdered, women are raped, and men have their lives and livelihoods ruined for petty and vindictive reasons.  We agree that there are points of wrong that can never ever be looked at as anything other than wrong.  But if people are really just good and nothing a person wants to do can be said to be really bad than there must be something intrinsically faulty in some people… they are just bad, evil people.  Any good done by an “evil” person is discounted, forgotten.  We want to cling to the idea that someone capable of some horrible act is by nature evil, a creature of darkness.  It is comforting and reassuring.


I know there are some holes in the above and it probably dissevers a better treatment, but that was pretty much where we left it.  It seems so much simpler to me to say that we humans are all pretty messed up in ways.  That there are principals, virtues and ethical values that supersede our ability to always meet, but that doesn’t harm the value of the principles.  Maybe it is just that we live in a world where it is fashionable to say “I’m ok, you’re ok” but I think it is a great deal more honest to say: “I’m screwed up, you’re screwed up, but that’s ok – we’re working on it”.  And honesty is good, always, all the time, but I don’t always get there because I am not always that good.


At any rate it was an interesting conversation.



Caritas · Faith in Action · Mothers for Vocations

The priesthood is tough


No question.  Being a priest is tough.  I have such limitless respect for those men who take on not just the priesthood, but also serve as military chaplains.   I found this story while reading this morning.

US Army, Major, Retired Chaplin Henry Tim Vakoc  was wounded in Iraq two years ago.  His progress has been slow but miraculous. 

Here is a wonderful article from the  Waconia Patriot and here is a beautiful slide show from the Star Tribune (you may have to sign-up for a guest pass, but it is worth watching)

Last week while driving to CCD I was listening to NPR (sometimes it infuriates me, sometimes it pleases me, that day it did both) After listening to a very infuriating segment I heard this: From Chicago to Anbar: A Chaplain’s View of War.  Fr John Barkemeyer tells about war, how he serves and a little bit about those he serves with.  It is intense and well worth listening to on its own, but the previous interview with Brian De Palma was sad and really just left me wanting to spit.  De Palma reduces his characters to stereotypical caricatures and his descriptions of the men serving made me wonder if he has bothered to speak with anyone actually who has been there.  I was frustrated.  Yeah, I hate the war too, but I am with Fr Barkemeyer — it doesn’t matter at this point why we got into Iraq.  We need to support our troops so they can do their jobs as safely as possible and we are morally responsible to help “give the people in Iraq the best possible chance of salvaging their country and salvaging their lives” .  It is their country and they will have to come up with the ultimate solutions, but you can’t just walk in, turn everything upside down and then leave — to do so would be dishonorable and dangerous as we saw with the USSR and Afghanistan.

My world

Thanksgiving week

This has been a very strange week for me in the “blogging” universe.  I took a little time to analyse some trends in my blog stats and came to a really interesting conclusion.   There are actually people reading this blog now.  Shocking thing really considering it started out as a place to blow the cobwebs out from between my ears. Also I am seeing a lot of people stop by looking for Advent ideas.   So if you are new, Welcome!

This week we are planning on some fun things for Thanksgiving.  We are working on our Thankfulness tree and  I will post a picture of it tomorrow.  There is also no CDD this week.   So it is just going to be an all around weird week.

Advent · Christmas Alliance

More on Advent preparations

Advent, the basics for this year:

The first Sunday of Advent is December 2nd, 2007. December 9th, 16th and 23rd obviously filling out the four weeks.  Important dates within Advent are: the Feast of Saint Nicholas on Thursday, December 6, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday, December 8 and the Feast of Saint Lucy on Thursday, December 13.  The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a Holy Day of Obligation.  The four weeks of Advent are typically “themed”  Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.  I have seen several variations on this, but I would discard any that didn’t have the pink candle and Joy for week three (Gaudete).

Advent is not just a Catholic thing, Lutherans and a few others have long celebrated it and some other reformed and protestant churches are also bringing it back.  But I am not really up on all the ways others celebrate so you might have to bare with me.

Advent is ideally a time of prayer and spiritual reflection.  A time for anticipating the Birth of the Savior.  Which sounds rather strange considering it is an event that took place some 2000 years ago, but we anticipate it every year as part of the liturgical calendar.  Liturgy is one of those sublime things.  Its ability to bring us in again and again to the events that shape our collective faith strengthens and shapes our personal faith.  The birth of Christ, celebrated in the darkest days of the year, reminds us in a very tangible way that no matter how far from Him we have traveled and how broken we have made ourselves Christ is born again in the darkness of our lives and we are born again in Him. 

I didn’t grow up with Advent, being a convert.  Our family has been building our Advent traditions  each year we try one or two new ideas and keep those things we find give us joy and build our faith.  Not everything works for every family.   

After my conversion to the Catholic faith in 1998 I was overwhelmed by everything that is Catholic.  There are many wonderful devotions and practices, traditions and cultural expressions of the Catholic faith.  No one can do them all.   Advent really appealed to me.  Each year we have experimented with one or two ideas and kept those that mean the most to us.

Over the next couple weeks I am going to write about those Advent activities that have become traditions for our family.  Today I want to focus on The Wreath.  One of the first things we began was the advent wreath.  I make two evergreen wreaths every year.  One a wall hanging and one for the Advent wreath.  It becomes the focal point during Advent.  Four candles, three purple and one pink adorn the wreath in addition to ribbons and florist “picks”.  

Some parishes have Advent wreath making events where the parishioners gather together and make their wreaths which are then blessed and taken home to be used throughout the season.  We make ours at home.  Later this month I will post instructions and hopefully pictures of our wreath making endeavors.   Anyone can bless the wreath (you don’t need to take it to a priest) usually I see prayer books recommend the father take on this duty and I think that is a wonderful thing.

Advent · Blogs I Know · Catholic Homeschooling

Getting ready for Christmas, homeschool style

Over at Real Learning is a post with a really exciting book I am considering picking up now. 

I enjoyed this question: “Do you know what happens when you’re trying very hard to tie your studies into Christmas preparation without (1)completely abandoning what you’ve previously been studying for the season or (2) barreling ahead with the same old thing and hoping that your children don’t notice the rest of the world preparing for Christmas?” 

It can in fact be a dilemma.  Some families I know homeschool very lightly through the holidays or not at all.  Others plow on through the season and keep exactly to their normal studies.  Last year we did a mix, switching our religious ed and Bible studies to an Advent theme and keeping our math, reading, history and other subjects mostly the same.  This year will be a little different.