31 March 2015

+JMJ+

Punk Catholic Thought of the (Holy) Week

Here we go again. If we're counting, this is Punk Catholic Thought of the Week XIX, though of course I've had two Punk Catholic Thoughts of the Year (and at least one sequel . . . or was it a postscript?) since then, and the order has been completely thrown. This new thought is the fruit of nearly a dozen Saturdays of Latin Mass attendance, in which "active participation" is exposed as the deformed golden calf it is.


Active participation is the mutant form of assistance.

or

Of course it's okay to pray the rosary during Mass!

28 March 2015

+JMJ+

Twelve Things about After.Life

12. Does it seem as if I'm recommending this movie? Well, I'm really not. There are much better ways to spend an hour and a half, even if you like the sort of movie After.Life is. My primary purpose in writing this post is to find others who have already seen this, so that we can discuss all the twists and turns in the combox.

Perhaps everyone who has seen After.Life feels the same way. When a trainee of mine brought it up, it was because he hoped I was already familiar with it and could tell him what I thought the answer to the mystery was. Despite his overall lukewarm review, I decided to watch it anyway, because the poster all but screamed "Snow White" to me.

11. There's something about the Snow White role that makes actresses who have played her once, play her again. Maybe this is true of all faerie tale archetypes, but I've only noticed the Snow Whites: Christina Ricci in Casper (Don't believe me? Read the Twelve Things!) and this movie . . . and Kristen Stewart in the Twilight Saga (I've got a Team Charlie tag!) and Snow White and the Huntsman. If you can think of other examples, please let me know!

10. I'll admit that the premise of this story is fascinating. A young woman who has been in a car accident regains consciousness in a funeral parlour, but the mortician who interacts with her continues to prepare her body, and now begins to prepare her mind, for death. And there are two explanations that are equally plausible . . .

25 March 2015

+JMJ+

"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 117

Did I really think I'd be done with Introduction to the Devout Life in a single Lent? This is a book for the long game! And I'm really not just making excuses because I already know I won't be able to get through this before Easter! =P

On this subject, Philothea, I would require your most earnest attention to my counsels, for it involves one of the most important means towards your spiritual advancement.

As often as you can throughout the day, recall your mind to the presence of God by some one of the four methods I have mentioned. Consider what He is doing and what you are doing. You will always find His eyes fixed upon you with unchangeable love. Then say, O my God, why cannot I be ever looking up to Thee, even as Thou art ever looking down upon me? Why dost Thou ever remember me, whilst I, alas, so often forget Thee? O my soul, Thy true rest is in God, art thou seeking it there only?

Just as the birds have their nests to which they can retreat, and the stag shelters himself in the thick forest, seeking shade and refreshment when the summer is hot, even so, Philothea, should our hearts daily seek a resting-place on Mount Calvary or in the wounds of our Blessed Lord, or in some other spot close to Him . . .

This section is my favourite one so far! St. Francis's practical, authoritative approach to the Catholic sacramental and devotional life has the same effect on me that DIY tutorials do. LOL! But of course, no Catholic devotional life is ever about doing things all on your own. We always make our prayers in the Church and with the Church. And by the this spiritual guide was being written, the Church had figured out that there are certain ways of structuring and shaping devotion that are enormously beneficial.


19 March 2015

+JMJ+

A Harry Potter Meme!

They're up to Harry Potter MOTW #99
@ Uncorked Thoughts

I had known about the Harry Potter Moment of the Week meme for a while, but I never seemed to remember it on the days leading up to the themes I could easily write about. Well, I guess someone slipped a bit of Felix Felicis in my water today, because I'm just in time to join, at long last, with a theme based on another fun potion that our favourite young wizards get to cook up in class.

17 March 2015

+JMJ+

Talking to You about The New Kids on the Block
(Part of my series on Rob Sheffield's Taking to Girls about Duran Duran)

One day Caroline was telling me Joey Mac stories and she mentioned that his nickname in high school was "Wedgie." It only made her love him more fiercely. There was always something enjoyable and lovable about those New Kids. They never had the disastrous post-teen-pop crash. After the hits dried up, they got on with their lives. My friend Desiree even went on a New Kids cruise last winter, where you'd call room service and Donnie or Jordan would show up at your cabin with your food.

Rob Sheffield's book came out in 2010, but this chapter on the New Kids on the Block has no mention of their 2008 reunion, which makes it feel eerily AU. You'd think it would have featured in his NKOTB-crazy sister Caroline's life somehow. Then again, he does say that this boy band have become a part of her past that she wants to hide from her own children. =P So what we have instead for closure is the story of the time she stood in line to get an autographed album by one of his musical idols, who was as far from the New Kids as he could draw her. 

But never mind the proper historical context, for that's not what this chapter is about. What Sheffield is writing about here is the inescapable influence of the music our siblings like.

13 March 2015

+JMJ+

"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 116

If I insisted on completing each "assignment" in Introduction to the Devout Life before moving on in my reading, I'd need much longer than the book club's (unofficial) two-month discussion period to finish it . . . and I'd be reading it wrongly anyway. Beyond the first ten meditations and general confession, this spiritual classic isn't a workbook that we can complete exercise by exercise and then put away with a feeling of accomplishment, but a guide that we can keep referring to every step of the way to purification. And as St. Francis de Sales explained a few chapters back, the discipline of purification lasts until death. One reason has to do with venial sins.

You will discover . . . my daughter, that besides mortal sins and their affections from which you are now purified, there yet linger in your heart various inclinations and dispositions to venial sin. I do not say that you will discover venial sins, but you will find a disposition and inclination to them, which is a very different thing, for we can never be wholly free of venial sins, at least not for any length of time, but we can be without affection for them . . .

All such inclinations, my daughter, are directly opposed to devotion, as inclinations to mortal sin are opposed to charity: they enfeeble the spirit, hinder divine consolations, and open the door to temptation; so that, though they do not slay the soul, they wound it grievously.

There's not much to argue with here, nor in the next short chapter, where St. Francis adds that we must purify our "evil inclinations" as well. We're not naturally disposed to the good in all things; we can't always say that what we're drawn to or what is most pleasurable for us is also what is best. Fortunately, the best means of purification are already available to us in Catholic prayer traditions and the sacraments. We just have to be diligent about them.

This post is a two-parter.

12 March 2015

+JMJ+

Character Connection 48


Hosted @ The Introverted Reader

In between purposefully plowing through my TBR Pile and sticking to my 2015 resolution TO CLEAR all that clutter, I run into other stuff that seem like a low enough time investment to distract myself with . . . and get inspired to blog about them. Like the short story which gives us today's featured character--a type that I can't resist.


09 March 2015

+JMJ+

Early Edition: Presidential Assassination

What does yesteryear's news have to do with tomorrow's?

In this episode, the same magic that makes the cat a reliable delivery animal gives Gary Hobson another newspaper to study. And he's not sure what he's supposed to do about it. Changing tomorrow's news is one thing; changing 1964's news, when you're in 1997, is kind of a tall order.

It becomes even more daunting for him when he realises that his predecessor, Lucius Snow, would have had to read the same headline twice: first on the day when Snow did everything he could to change it, and again on the day when he woke up to his failure. But exactly what did Snow do wrong?

07 March 2015

+JMJ+

"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 115

Why was I so surprised that Introduction to the Devout Life turned out to be a practical manual? I chose it specifically because I hoped it would leak into the practice of my faith the way the previous two Lenten readalong picks--Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week by Pope Benedict XVI and The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis Marie de Montfort--definitely did. The main difference seems to be that while the first two books enhanced devotions that I was already doing, St. Francis's manual is taking me over some new terrain.


"The flowers have appeared in our land," says the Divine Spouse (Cant. 2:12), and the time for pruning is come. What, my daughter, are the flowers of our heart, but good desires? Therefore, as soon as they appear we need the sickle which shall prune away from our conscience all dead works and superfluities.

Before the captive maiden might be espoused to the Israelite, she was obliged to shave her head and pare her nails, and put the raiment of her captivity from off her (
Deut. 21:12), and so the soul which aspires to be the bride of Christ must put off the old man, and forsaking sin be clothed with the new man; paring and shaving away all hindrances which come between it and the love of God; such a purging of our corruption is the foundation of future health . . .

Well, okay, it's not so new. I have been to confession before! And my current reading certainly brings back twelve years' worth of Catholic school retreats, though the majority of those were, as far as I can tell, fruitless and flowerless. Of course I hope that this non-retreat will prove to be something better.


05 March 2015

+JMJ+

Twelve Things about The Purge: Anarchy

12. The Purge movies are released in some countries under the title American Nightmare--and I can't decide which one I like better. In an ideal world, their title would be The Hunger Games . . . because screenwriter James DeMonaco would have refined his vision accordingly and novelist Suzanne Collins would have written a book about more than just what happens to a pretty girl when other people plot her destiny around her.

11. As I explained in my Thirteen Things about The Purge, the America of this dystopian future isn't about killing children in order to keep their communities in line, but about committing crimes in order to cleanse yourself (and as a consequence, society) of evil. What both premises have in common is a religious concept--the ancient practice of laying all the sins of a community on the head of a goat and driving the poor animal into the desert. Where they diverge is their stance on it: while The Hunger Games has an atheist's disgust for what it sees as ceremonial hypocrisy, The Purge is full of foxholes full of believers. Including disgusted believers.

10. But the most unsettling parallels are in real life. We don't have to look much further than our own culture, which has adapted the scapegoat ceremony to the digital age. Take the huge purge party inspired by a single tweet from a little over a year ago . . .


01 March 2015

+JMJ+

Early Edition: Mob Activity

During one of my recent Twitter chats, a fellow blogger said that she doesn't want to commit to a series because she will feel too pressured to finish it. By way of encouragement, I told her that I had committed to writing twenty-three posts, one for each episode of a TV series, last year, and I'm still not finished! =P In fact, Early Edition was supposed to be a project for Lent 2014 . . . and I didn't even get halfway through until Lent 2015! Basically, in blogging, the only one who can put any real pressure on you is yourself.

But all the pressure that bloggers feel is nothing next to the pressure that Gary Hobson feels.