Saturday, September 29, 2012

If I could understand this world, and God, HALF as well as this guy...and he's got a good priest, too. The reward will be great. And I couldn't be gladder. I say I haven't suffered at all. Really. I'm a cripple. Woo, big deal. At least my strongest desire on the natural level isn't doomed, in this life.

Oh, I wonder if I'm some sort of leper, or the Phantom of the Opera at this stage, but there's no reason to fret. I was looking at myself in the mirror the other day--though I wish my skin was clearer, my nose was smaller, (and maybe I wasn't a cripple) and I thought, "Wow, I am really hot." No, seriously.

I did that thing male models do: I squinted, and tried to look bad. It worked. I think. I like myself. Just thought I'd share.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Guy's Christian Manifesto

I am committed to praying at least once a day for myself or others around me, for salvation or sanctification, and for various material needs.

I am committed to reflecting each day on my sins for the day, and to taking the necessary actions to repent of them.

I am committed each day to encouraging one person (or more) in walking with God, no matter how near or far they are to actually doing that.

I am committed to seeking spiritual counsel, and to placing myself under the proper authorities. Also, I will obey them in all things but sin, and in those matters left to prudential judgment.

I am committed to knowing the Holy Scriptures better than I did yesterday.

I am committed to purity in all things. Thus, I am committed to the avoidance of compromising situations or images with, or of, women, (or men) whether known to me or strangers. If I fail, I will carry out the instructions of my second committment. I will carry out those instructions in fact, any time failing to keep these committments involves a sin, properly speaking.

I am committed to confessing that God is a Trinity of Persons--the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--and to upholding the ancient Church's definitions to that effect.

I am committed to making use of all the sacred signs called sacraments as means and channels of God's grace to me. They are necessary for my salvation, because Christ is their true minister, and I have yet to win the race that Love has called me to run.

I am committed to learning and applying as much of the truths of revelation as is appropriate for my ability and state in life. If I have the ability and permission, I shall teach others, when appropriate.

I am committed to remembering that God loves me more than I do, and others more than I do.

I am committed to not being afraid.

I am committed to loving God with my whole self, and loving my neighbor as myself.

I am committed to waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jason Kettinger, A Christian Guy.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hebrew Catholic Woody Allen was at it again, and it was outstanding. Sacraments, and how they work. The mark of the best teachers in anything is that they can teach the hardest things to the simplest people.

I saw Confirmation Sponsor Lady there, and their daughter, 'Lucy.' I feel bad for that young person! [Bwhahaha!--ed.] I mean, honestly. Has there ever been a couple more naturally suited to winning arguments than those two? All the 'discussions' we've ever had end with me saying, "You know, you're right, I was thinking imprecisely; I was wrong." If it had stage directions, it'd be like, [submits to bishop] or [tries cheese] or [prays to Mary] or [goes to New Orleans for no apparent reason]. It's kind of funny now. [I don't think it's funny.--ed.] Of course you don't.

I didn't see Confirmation Sponsor Guy; he was being a Dad. Pffft. Whatever that's about. Besides all that, he's been locked in the Cave of Writing since the Eisenhower administration. [You've seen him.--ed.] True. But he had to pull a Greg Lemond (look it up) to make it happen last time. Sheesh. I feel like he's doing penance for all the fun we had in the Jetta of Decision. [You call that fun?--ed.] OK, I admit, not everyone has the same sort of fun. But it's our fun. We're really different, I'm sure, in many ways. But we're a lot the same, in really big things. You know, like Jesus and His things. His Church. His people. I think I figured something out about us, in how we help each other. He makes me feel older, and I make him feel younger. Something like that.

I think sometimes I must be a real "Failure To Launch" type of person, to be my age, wanting and needing to grow up. On the other hand, I've been told that I'm one of the most interesting people in the world twice in the past 6 months. That's got to pay off sooner or later, right?

There are boxes everywhere. My brother and his wife and my nephew are moving out in a day or so. I'm sad, but I know it's for the best. To fix the rest of it...well, that's not my area, or calling, for that matter.

What I've learned through this and other things is to make the extra effort to keep lines of communication open. We're not supposed to go through life with anger and shattered hearts. Especially not with family. Now, my semantic range for that word is wider than yours may be, but we all know what it means to us. If the Good News of Jesus Christ isn't real here, it might as well not be real.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To be a son who loses your Dad is possibly the worst thing I can think of. It's been 24 years since I lost my Dad. It still hurts sometimes like it happened yesterday. I was 9 years old. He didn't battle a long illness; he was ripped away from us.

My parents were divorced when I was a baby. I lived with my mom and my brother. He started again, and I grew up knowing his other children and his wife. She was and is family to me. As a side note, I entirely believe and aim to practice the Church's teachings on sexual ethics. I don't think they should change the teachings on divorce and remarriage, either. That said, it's hard to tut-tut these people I love for not toeing the line.

All the hurt came back for me today, because I heard that a new friend lost his father in the past few days. If I could say one thing to him, it would be this: "Never apologize, even years later, for falling apart now and again over this. You will always be a boy who lost his Daddy, and that's OK to feel it." He's older, so it could be different. But I doubt it.

As a digression, I will never be one of those Catholics who laments our popular culture, at least not the whole thing, and advocates that we only read Great Books and listen to NPR. There are some truths about our lives with God that have been so beautifully captured by movies, TV, and popular music that we can't ignore it. Not to mention that most people we want to reach are steeped in it. I don't want to be corrupted; don't hear what I'm not saying. But I couldn't bring this post home without a little help from the actor-comedian Tim Allen.

Tim Allen had a show years ago called, "Home Improvement." He played Tim Taylor, an oafish guy with a good heart, three boys, and a loyal wife, Jill. He's something of a local celebrity on a home improvement show sponsored by his company, for which he used to sell tools door-to-door. He's accident-prone, and prone to miscommunicate with his wife and family when he forgets to love as he should. But he's got a wise neighbor who sets him straight. It's a really funny show that I can't recall ever being immoral.

One time, Jill's dad comes for Christmas. He's an old military guy, and he and Tim bond being tough guys. Jill feels the tension of his authoritarian ways, however, and Tim misses the boat. Whether in this episode or a later one, Jill's father dies suddenly. At the same time, Tim notices that his teenage boys aren't terribly impressed with their dad. It hurts him.

He tells his neighbor, Wilson, and Wilson points out that Tim lost his father when he was a little boy. Tim is eloquent about idolizing his father; he never had a chance to be his own man. Maybe he would have put the same distance between them as his boys are doing now. But as it happened, Tim's view of his Dad was unalloyed love. I'll never forget this; they hit this exactly right.

Maybe my friend can't say his view is unalloyed, but I can tell that he loved his Dad very much, and he still does. It also looks like he was worthy of his son's love. And what a precious gift! And we share the fact that two young men have committed (or will) their fathers' bodies to the ground in the hope of the resurrection with the aid of the Catholic Church. In my case, I hope in God's unending mercy; my friend only needs to believe the many precious promises we have in Christ.

O God, be near to those who mourn now. Heavenly Father, I rejoice that every family on Earth--every father on Earth--reflects You. When they do it well, as in this case, it brings You great glory, and makes great sons. Wipe away my brother's tears as only You can, and when they flow without end, accept them as an offering of hope and love. Your Son has defeated death by his resurrection, and we hope to share in it, and in His victory, when He returns. By Your Holy Spirit, keep him from despair, and give him joy that surpasses all understanding. Thank you that we are sons, and that You will never go away, and never stop loving us. I pray this through Christ the Lord, Amen.

Monday, September 24, 2012

You hear it a lot as an explanation: "Just go back to the Fathers." Why do people become Catholic? They went back to the Fathers. I suppose that's true. But it's important to know what it is about them that we're supposed to be looking for. There are patristics scholars everywhere, after all.

Obviously, in any particular area of interest or time period within the patristic age, you can find leaders with divergent opinions on a great many things. There are some pretty fierce disagreements among them, too. If you wanted to make a surface case against the claim of the Catholic Church--that it is the Church Christ founded--you could do it.

But what is it that they really tell us? They tell us where and how to locate the Church to which they submitted, and why.

That's really the nature of the dispute between Protestants and Catholics: the nature of the Church and how to find it. It's really stupid to pretend that the visible expression of ecclesiastical authority and its decisions matter, when the very legitimacy of that community depends on a conception of the Church that is fundamentally invisible.

But in Christian life, we know that truth has to be concretized by people. That is, if some ecclesiastical assembly doesn't possess an ultimate authority to at least adjudicate the questions before it, it is irrelevant as an authority.

The real dispute between historic Protestants and various fundamentalists is that the fundamentalists are more honest: they don't need a thin veneer of deference to history and authority to cover their hermeneutic of rupture.
It was an interesting day. Catholic theology all day long. And OK, fine, my heart's a bit aflutter because of a note to the effect that I have a Secret Admirer. Which was dumb, because there are a grand total of 2 single women in our class, and the other one is a close friend for like 12 years. If she liked me that way, she'd just say so. So I know who it is.

Like a moron, I told the Person I Am Hopelessly In Love With about it. Frankly, I might've hoped it made her jealous, but it won't. I hate it when that happens.

She's really attractive, this Note-Leaver. She has braces, and I like that, because I'm a freak. I think I might've embarrassed her. Oh, well. She has a month to think about it. I left my number and e-mail.

Pray for me. Happy Birthday, Tim.