Musings on Muses
Friday, April 30, 2004
Listening to Jimmy Buffet
I am reminded why I love this music. It's so happy. So optimistic. It's hard to listen to Songs You Know By Heart and not smile.

Some choice quotes:
"If we couldn't laugh, we'd all go insane."
"The sea's in my veins, my tradition remains, I'm just glad I don't live in a trailer."
"Not zucchine, fettucine, or bulger wheat"
"Warm beer and bread, they say can raise the dead. Well, it reminds me of the menu at the Holiday Inn."
"You better lava me now or lava me not."
"Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way."
"Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late. The cannons don't thunder. There's nothing to plunder. I'm an over-forty victim of fate."
"There's just too much to see waiting in front of me and I know that I just can't go wrong."
"This morning, I shot six holes in my freezer. I think I've got cabin fever."
"I gotta fly to St. Somewhere."

This is the stuff that gets to your heart. It's good music, beachy, but not so much that you can't play it in winter. The lyrics tell stories. There's love, joy, regret, a whole range of emotions and an underlying sense of the joy of the simple life. As I told my husband, "It makes me forget that I'm ambivalent about boats."

Just my happy thought for the day.

Thursday, April 29, 2004
A Follow Up
GTA, in commenting on my post on Lukewarmness, asked why go through the motions when you don't feel like it/believe it? I would highly recommend reading Fr. Keyes response in the comments and to that would add these thoughts on the topic.

There is a difference between not knowing if something is the truth and knowing the truth but not viscerally feeling the reality of that truth. In the first case, going through the motions makes no sense. If you are not Christian, going to church might be helpful to learn the faith and then it might not be. You may spend your time better in reading the church fathers, the bible, talking to a priest, etc. Until you assent to the truth, the worship service makes little sense. After you have assented though, things change. I believe in all of the truths professed in the Creed. I know intellectually that they are true. This does not mean that I never feel like God has abandoned me. It doesn't even mean that my heart will never doubt what my head knows is true. It also does not mean that I will never feel so bone tired that the effort of worship (which is not merely the driving to church on Sunday but the whole act of loving God with my whole heart) feels well nigh impossible. The Devil believes in God, and trembles.

Belief, assent to truth, is different than the supernatural virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. These can only come from God though they are supported by belief, which can be aided by Reason.

Reason has not failed me. I am a very intellectual person, meaning that intellect/reason tends to dominate my personality, as opposed to the passions/appetites. The virtue of that is that I rarely have logical blips that steer me off course. The defect is that my heart is not as warm as it ought to be.

And that is really what I am talking about. It is one thing to have intellectual certainty and another to act on it. I envied immensely my evangelical friends in high school who were on fire for Christ, totally in love with God. I wondered why I didn't feel the love of God the way they did. It didn't, of course, help that my catechism was so poor at that point that I didn't realize the sacrificial love of the Cross and the salvation that came from it.

Going through the motions is the only way to get through the dry spells. The best analogy would be to a marriage, since our relationship to God is sometimes described that way, by no less an authority than the Church. In marriage, it is easy to love our spouses on the days when we are pleased with them. (Keep in mind that I'm not talking about love, the warm fuzzy though that can certainly be true also, but Love, the verb.) It is not so easy on the days when the garbage didn't go out in the morning, the sink is still dirty, and dinner went cold because of a snafu about work times. It is worst when rather than pleased or displeased with your spouse, you feel nothing. "The fire is gone," we say to ourselves, and sigh. And if all we did was sigh, the marriage would die. We must love our spouse for our marriage to last, regardless of how we feel on any particular day. And the more acts of love that we make, the more we find ourselves wanting to love them in heart as well as action. That is what habituation is. Not so much muscle memory, but soul tuning. Try it for a week with a loved one. Do the little loving actions that you know will please someone and see if at the end of the week you do not feel more loving.

This is what I mean by continuing to make acts of Faith, Hope, Love, Contrition, even if I do not feel them. I am training my feeling to respond to what they ought to.
Saturday, April 24, 2004
You will notice a new blog in the friends sidebar. A big welcome to Peregrinations and smooth sailing to ye.
Friday, April 23, 2004
Contra Pastam Salubrem (Against Healthy Pasta, sort of)
Why is it that all of my attempts to cook "healthy" pasta thus far have failed? In an effort to reform the diet of Chateau Flambeaux, I bought several "alternative" pastas at Central Market. So far, all have met with disaster. The brown rice pasta ended up one sticky glutinous mass and was tasteless to boot. No, less than tasteless, it made cardboard appealing. Tonight we tried spelt pasta. Made from spelt flour. Perhaps I should avoid pasta made from grains I've never heard of. Let's just say that al dente was not the word I would choose to describe the result. And the taste again reminded us of paper products. We are now boiling the backup, a spinach penne which I have high hopes for because it is plain ol' flavored semolina.

Which brings me to the subject of why we were trying these in the first place. The requirements of the diet we've been following suggest that if one is to eat pasta, it should be made from a whole grain, high fiber source. And the glycemic index's take on semolina-based pastas is very hostile, which I don't understand. Semolina, which comes from durum (hard) wheat, is one of the highest protein flours available. Thus it is relatively low-carb. Yet it rates poorer on the glycemic index than "plain" (i.e. non-semolina based) pasta.

This is plainly one area where we'll be chucking the suggestions of the diet. There is no excuse for bad pasta.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
On Lukewarmness
Have you ever had one of those days when you did not have the energy to do anything. Not even turn on a TV. You just want to stare at the wall and sit there wondering why you're staring at the wall. This seems to be a metaphor for my spiritual life. I am often so bone tired I don't have the energy to think, let alone pray. For the last couple of years, it was a real effort to go to church, mostly because while I liked my pastor and had a wonderful confessor, our parish felt like a dry well. Christ was there in the Eucharist but only my intellect assured me of this. Emotionally, I felt lost and at sea. It is only in the past few weeks that I have found a parish I can really call home and for the first time in years I'm beginning to look forward to Sunday mornings. But there is still a large part of me that is tepid in my fervor. Every week when I pray the Confiteor, I know that it is perfectly true that I have not loved God with all my heart, just as well as I know that I haved not loved my neighbor as myself. To be honest, there are days when I just don't care. I don't have the energy to care. I continue to slog on through these times because I know that only in habituating my actions to love of God will I ever really love Him.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Dinner with the Mantis
Flambeaux and I had a lovely dinner this evening with E-Pression's Zorak, who was in town on business. We can now attest that she is as funny in real life as she is in cyberspace. We met at Trinty Hall, a great Irish pub in the chi-chi Mockingbird Station area. The brief descriptions we gave while coordinating the time were more than enough to recognize each other; the pub was nearly empty and we were the only people to show up with a baby. She, being an animated mantis, was unmistakable. Much fun and laughter, and some very funny stories about teaching classes (both Old Oligarch's and Flambeaux's). I have met two people this week through St. Blog's. Any other readers who are in the Dallas area or coming through, the offer always stands for a coffe and the chance to make a virtual friend a reality.
Granola Conservative
This morning, after my shower, I brushed my teeth with Tom's of Maine toothpaste. Afterwards, I got dressed and slipped on my Birkenstocks. I had a breakfast of homemade granola. Later, I had a rest, putting my herbal eye pillow, made of 100% organic cotton over my eyes. I need to admit it. I am a crunchy conservative.

I'm not sure how I got here. Maybe it was my love of Martha Stewart-y type project. I mean, bread from scratch! Wouldn't it be cool if I could grow my own wheat! Natural dyes on handspun wool! Make your own goat cheese from your goats! Look dear, we could buy an alpaca!

On the otherhand, it might have been our friend convincing to try organic milk because it just tastes better. And then we discovered Whole Foods and a whole new world opened up.

Maybe it was getting into NFP and deciding that there was a lot to say for moving with natural cycles in general. Because once you're using NFP, breastfeeding, using a sling, there's a whole club of women you seem to join. And then you're exchanging homemade granola recipes and discussing the benefits of having your own chickens. And then homeschooling seems natural since you've put so much effort into all this time with your kids baking granola that sending off to someone who barely knows them seems silly. So here you are, planting a garden in the backyard, teaching your kids how to plant vegetables and herbs that complement each other and then using the harvest at dinner the next month.

And none of this clashes with the fact that you've been fairly conservative your entire life, not just pro-life but also culturally conservative with limited government ideals and free market ideals.

Isn't it great to live in this country! I shop with hippies and vote with capitalist pigs and there's no conflict.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Celery: Nature's Dental Floss
After the heaviness of the last post, I feel compelled to write something fun. So please hold onto these thoughts and remind me if I don't get to them in short order:
1) I want to comment on tepidity, depression, & sloth, and
2) I want to compile my semi-comprehensive research on the ridiculous scholarship that gave us modern neo-paganism.

On with the fun.

Have you ever considered how God has given us every good thing under the sun if we only had eyes to see it. Why did we bother inventing dental floss when He already gave us celery? My mind floats to this as I snack on a bag of celery sticks left over from making a fresh bowl of gazpacho. (Celery? Oh yeah, Laura-lady's doing the low-carb thing. Well actually Lent's over but I'm keeping some of the good habits going since I like being a couple of dress sizes smaller.) I have often confronted the seemingly bad things in the world, trying to figure out why they are here, and finally figure out their place in the universe. I wonder if maybe they could benefit from better marketing?

Cockroaches: God's Little Composters
Celery: Nature's Dental Floss
Pomegranites: Nature's All Day Sucker
Prunes: They're Better If You Say "Dried Plums"

It's so much easier to look kindly upon vegetables when you realize that without lettuce, there would be no place to put the avocados and grilled chicken. They'd look awful silly by themselves. Not to mention the croutons. And without broccoli, children wouldn't have a proper forest to go with the mashed potato mountains and gravy rivers.

As far as insects go, I still shudder, but I now owe a spider for keeping my apartment fruit-fly free last winter. And the family of mantises that moved into our flower pots kept our back porch pleasant all summer.

Just your daily thought from a glass is half-full Pollyanna kind of gal.
Out on a Limb
I realize in starting this post I am doing something that I typically do very poorly: serious commentary. However, I am every once in a while prompted to respond to something when I see injustice. In this case, it is the horrendous misreading by some of Rod Dreher's news coverage of the Scandal, as typified by the most recent comment box activity at Mark Shea's blog. See the post from 4/16/04 titled "Finally for today..."

The gist of the argument is that after several people at Amy Wellborn's blog praised Archbishop Chaput's fine instruction on voting, one wag suggested that he would play the part of Rod Dreher and ask why we were praising the bishops for doing their duty. Mr. Dreher did eventually enter the commentary with a similar argument and Mark Shea wrote some very good responses. The conversation eventually moved over to Catholic and Enjoying It. And several of Mark's readers seem to be missing Rod's point. Kevin Miller of HMS Blog went so far as to accuse some of the commenters of the sin of detraction.

So how does this apply to little ol' me, who usually stays out of comment box disputations?

I am a mother. My child is a bright and happy 9 1/2 month old boy. God may one day call him to be a priest. And I know that one of the best ways to encourage him to give that vocation the consideration its due is to serve at the altar. I want him to respect his pastor. And I fear for a world in which I can't trust that my bishop will do his best to see that his youngest lambs have a fighting chance of making it through childhood with their innocence intact. And no matter how orthodox his teachings, if his governance is lax, he is a poor shepherd. Because he is undermining his very authority.

I am not saying that our bishops should not be praised for saying the truth. We should thank them for their fidelity whenever they show it. And I would far rather live under a bishop that did not preach heterodoxy and harbor rebellious "catholic" organizations like Dignity and Call to Action. I am thankful that we have bishops that teach the truth and challenge the faithful to be holy. But I also want to know that they're looking out for my children. I understand that men, even priests, are sinners. A bishop can't know about every problem before it hits. But the protection of predators that extends beyond mercy and a desire to protect the innocent into enabling, abetting, and covering up predation ought to be brought to light.

Why do I say that there is a point where sin must be brought into the daylight? Because we are commanded to do it. When a brother sins, we first chastise him in private, then with a few others, and up the chain of command. And ultimately if nothing happens, we go public. Because if we don't fear God, maybe we might fear the censure of man.

It is so easy to forget that God knows our every sin. That He is watching. Sometimes public shame is the only thing to spur us to repentance and remember that God knows also. And it demands public repentance because until they acknowledge something is wrong, we don't know that anything is being done to right the wrong.

We ought to be merciful. We ought to forgive them for their part in the Scandal. But we also ought to demand that they live up to their office as we are called to live up to ours. It is hard to forgive those who have not said they are sorry.

And that is why I have great sympathy for Mr. Dreher though I find myself more inclined to Mr. Shea's approach in most of my calmer moments. He has been calling from the beginning for someone in power to say that a wrong has been done, for some courageous bishop to call his brothers to contrition, penitance, and ultimately to sanctity. We need holy bishops to lead us in these troubled times.

Saturday, April 17, 2004
A Hymn to "Up"
My son, adorably funny at 9 1/2 monts old, has a lot of quirks. He screeches like a monkey, spins in my arms so that its difficult to keep a hand on him, has an unstoppable desire to eat paper, and sings to "up".

At first I thought it was the light that caught his attention. Then I noticed he would sing to the sky when the lights were off so I wondered if it were the ceiling fan. The I noticed he was doing the same at church. He'll just lean back, look at the sky and start singing, a charming little "lalala" with some ululating thrown in.

Flambeaux calls this his hymn to "up". "Hmmm..." I thought. "Is this some strange evidence of natural pagan inclination towards sky gods? A refutation of that silly Earth Mother theory, perhaps? He certainly doesn't sing to me. Or maybe he is conversing with God or his gaurdian angel? Merely childlike wonder at infinite space?" What, I wonder, is he singing, and how can I keep him singing once he knows that song was made for praise of greater things than "up"?
Friday, April 16, 2004
See Laura-lady at church this Sunday
So for all the folks here who attend the same Mass and don't know me in person, I will be wearing a black straw hat and my son will be fashioably attired in an olive green boonie hat with an embroidered giraffe on the pocket.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
In one of those strange coincidences, I discovered this weekend that I attend the same church as the Summa Mamas. Isn't it strange how you can get to know someone in the blogosphere and realize that you wouldn't know them from Adam (or Eve) if you met them on the street?

I'm hoping I will get to know them in person. One of the reasons I started blogging was that I was so terribly lonely in Lubbock. Having friends, even virtual ones, who were going through the same things I was, was very important. Especially other mothers. It's hard to figure out the "mom thing" when you lack comrades and mentors. I am happy to report that my new parish seems to have both in abundance and I think it is one more sign that we have found a home.

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