Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Some Thoughts on Race

There certainly has been a lot to think about during this wild ride of a year and I thought I'd start out the second half of the year by returning to my old thinking spot to sort out a few ideas.

False Dichotomies:

It's not new, but perhaps not often recognized, that American politicians, media and secular culture often present us with a false dichotomy of only two choices that we are "called on" to pick between and then blindly support regarding any particular issue.

For example, you get to be...

...either a six-days-of-creation-Biblical-literalist or an evolutionist who doesn't consider God to be a part of the picture.

...either someone who believes that abortion should be ended or someone who is concerned about the plight of refugees and immigrants.

...either someone who strongly supports the status quo because that's the way you show support for police officers or someone who violently and indiscriminately wants to destroy all law and order in our country.

I'm pretty sick of these kinds of options continually being offered by media (both right and left) and I reject them. There are better options.

I believe in faith and science.

I'm concerned about and strive to love the unborn (and their mothers!) and refugees and immigrants.

I respect and admire police officers and I think we need a lot of reform of the system, partly for the sake of the good officers.

I've spent quite a bit of time walking with a family that I would describe as vulnerable through a very difficult legal battle. From this perspective, I believe it's particularly wrong and unfair that some people are more vulnerable in our legal system simply because of the color of their skin.

An Imperfect Analogy:

Before the priest abuse scandal broke in Boston in 2002, I was vaguely aware that there was a problem with some bad priests. When the news broke big, I welcomed it because I knew it would force the problems into the light and require reckoning and reform. This is especially vital when dealing with people of influence and authority (especially spiritual!). I had no idea how bad or extensive or painful it would be. But I did believe it to be necessary and I have never changed my mind on that point. This is certainly not because I hate priests or the Church, but quite the opposite. Evil must be rooted out. People (especially the vulnerable - children, the disabled, etc.) must be protected. And good reforms can only be good for the Church and for our many good priests - they even help protect innocent priests from false accusations.

I feel very similarly about the police, though I think the details can be more difficult to unravel, because force can be a very necessary thing but it is also easily abused. The police are in a position of incredible influence, power and authority. There are clearly some bad ones. The system at least needs to have a way to root them out and hold them accountable. But also, it seems to me that a lot of good police officers are harmed by, or even end up taking the blame for a deeply flawed system.

The movie Spotlight is an excellent presentation of the breaking of this story in the media. It's a painful but excellent movie, best for parents and older teens.

Pray and Love:

A very central tenet of my belief as a Catholic is that every person is unique and unrepeatable and made in the image and likeness of God. Jesus gave us some great insights and guidance into what that should look like (and what we should ask forgiveness for when we fail):

Love your enemies.

Do good to those who harm you.

Love one another as I have loved you.

You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.

Be Quiet and Listen and Learn:

Speak less. Use words carefully. Wait/verify before you post on Facebook. Spend less time on Facebook! Read less news and more Scripture and real books. This is some of what I'm working on!

I've read/listened to a lot of testimonies by black people who have had problematic encounters with the police and others. These include some people I know personally. I've also read some heartbreaking testimonies by black Catholics, who have been deeply hurt by clueless and careless words from fellow Catholics. I believe these testimonies are true. I will try to share some in a separate post.

I love history. I'm curious by nature and I read a lot. Over the past 10 years or so, I've read/watched quite a bit on the history of racism in our country. A lot of what I've read has been compelling, eye-opening and rather horrifying, though there are some bright spots too (and I've included a few heroes in the research list below). I'm sure there's a lot more for me to learn! I don't have any simple answers to how to make things better, but I'm pretty confident that it will help for people to listen and learn. Here are some subjects and resources that might help. Please preview everything before sharing them with your children, and share what they are ready for. The movies I have listed are mostly pretty family-friendly. Please preview anyway, partly because I don't entirely trust my memory on the details. The subjects for research can be a lot more complex, depending on how far you dig.

Movies based on True Stories:

Race

42

Selma

Loving

BlacKkKlansman

Just Mercy

Other Movies Worth Watching:

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Lilies of the Field

West Side Story

Topics for Research:

Generally, I recommend reading from a few diverse sources online and in print, including, but not limited to, searching out the Catholic perspective. Catholic Encyclopedia, Wikipedia and Snopes can all be pretty helpful.

The Know Nothing

Chinese Exclusion Act

St. Francis Cabrini

The Eugenics movement in the United States

St. Katherine Drexel

Ida B. Wells and the history of lynching in the South

Jim Crow Laws

Tulsa Race Riots of 1921

The practice of Redlining

History of Confederate Monuments in the U.S. (Date of origin and location are pretty interesting to take a close look at.)

Sr. Thea Bowman

Breonna Taylor and no knock warrants.

More to add later...





Monday, May 13, 2019

Best Picture Marathon: Broadway Melody (1929)

Broadway Melody  PG13  1 hour, 40 minutes 
Director: Harry Beaumont
Starring: Bessie Love, Anita Page, Charles King

Like Wings, Broadway Melody would seem a lot less impressive out of the context of when it was made and what technological advances they were showing off.

Broadway Melody opens with a cacophonous scene in a music shop/studio where many people are rehearsing/practicing many different types of songs right on top of each other. It was clearly something that couldn't have existed just a few years before.

I must admit that most of our familiarity with 1920s musicals comes from the musical Singin' in the Rain (1952). While watching Broadway Melody, Singing in the Rain came to mind many times, and not just because of the era. A little Googling helped me discover that Singin' in the Rain was written to bring together a bunch of the music of Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, who wrote the music for Broadway Melody. (Singin' in the Rain was produced by Arthur Freed.)

So final consensus here was that this is mostly interesting as a piece of history. The parody Dogway Melody (found in the special features on the DVD from our library) was more entertaining.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Best Picture Marathon: Wings (1927)

As a family, we have long been interested in movies of (almost) all sorts and are a bit geeky about things like the Academy Awards. We've been talking for quite awhile about trying to watch the Academy Award Best Pictures in order and finally watched our first one last night. What really helped with getting this marathon started is that our local library has almost every Best Picture winner in their DVD collection.

Wings  PG13  2 hours, 24 minutes  
Director: William A. Wellman

Starring: Clara Bow, Charles Rogers, Richard Arlen and Gary Cooper

Wings is the epic story of two young men, Jack and David, who are in love with the same woman, Sylvia, and Mary, who is in love with Jack. Jack and David head off to war as bitter rivals, but end up becoming the best of friends as fighter pilots on the front lines in the last days of World War I.

Most of our family are not enthusiastic about silent films. The overall sentiment was that this was a bit overly long and dated, even though there were some great laugh-out-loud moments.

Bernie commented that Wings was the least silent film she's ever watched, because the restored version that we rented on Amazon had constant music plus lots of added sound effects.

Ria's impression was that movie-making of the time was still in transition from books - because the captions were so lengthy and descriptive.


It's fair to watch Wings for its historical value, but you can also pick up some context by watching this documentary (we haven't finished watching it yet). A couple of interesting tidbits we learned from it were that the director himself was a World War I fighter pilot and the movie was the famous Edith Head's first as lead costumer (Edith Head was the inspiration behind Edna "E" Mode from The Incredibles). Look for the other 3 parts of the documentary on Youtube...

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

First Day in my First Atrium

So, fast forward a year after the events of my introduction to CGS post and we are in the midst of implementing our very first CGS Session (and we are all first-time catechists) - utilizing the materials for Level I with a group of 7 year old Summer Religious Ed Students.

I came back to the blog simply because I thought it would make a good place to record some of the highlights of our efforts. I hope to get some more pictures up here soon too.

We've been working hard all year to get our Level I atrium put together (and are still working hard on getting it put together!) and I've managed to use some of the presentations for our 2nd graders over the course of the last year with great success!

Yesterday was our first day of our first actual CGS session.

We put a LOT of effort into preparations and researching/finding creative solutions to using Level I materials with slightly older children. We especially put a lot of preparations into being ready to help 14 children enter into the atrium with a limited number of adults/teens, a limited amount of time and a limited number of practical life materials.

Here is some of what we did to make things work:

First of all we were fortunate enough to have three trained CGS peeps and one CGS enthusiast assistant (though two of the adults can't be there the whole time).

We started out in a homeroom and had some practical life/free shelf materials available there (including a great big line to walk with all kinds of goodies to carefully carry). Having a homeroom is helping us preserve the integrity and sacredness of the atrium and give special differentiation between the two spaces. We are also all removing our shoes when we are in the atrium.

We did the Introduction to the Atrium  and the Enthronement of the Bible almost immediately, but then brought everyone back to the homeroom to talk about what we saw and then keep most of the group busy while a few children were started on practical life lessons at a time.

Here is what we observed on the first day:

First of all, it's a great bunch of kids. No drama or behavior issues.

What I did notice was that some of the kids seemed particularly shy or not particularly happy to be there (at least no smiles). I was very pleased to see that all of them adapted very quickly to the atrium.

Here are a few examples:

Two little boys (one of whom might have been drawing guns when he first got into the atrium) asked for the presentation on flower arranging. They tackled this work with great enthusiasm and focus and were reluctant to leave the atrium when they were invited to go to recess. They changed their minds after a moment's discussion, but first eagerly showed me what they had *made* - two beautiful little floral bouquets that they had (without any suggestion from me) placed in front of the lovely statue of the Madonna and Child. I very carefully aimed for a pondering-rather-than-praising response and could only come up with "What does that make you think about?" Without hesitation, they said "Jesus" and happily left for recess.

That first few hours was really intense and it was hard not to be hurried (I'm sure I failed some of the time). We made some reasonable compromises, like allowing the children to present practical life materials to each other.

And it was good. It wasn't perfect. I realized rather quickly that I had forgotten some things that I meant to say (you kind of have to jump in with both feet in this thing!) and yet it was quite good and it worked. And God provides!

Some of our surmises were pretty on track, for example, we thought that it might be worthwhile to have a lot of the art and extension works (such as tracing packets and collages) ready to go since we figured it would help the pace of working through materials not go too fast and that artwork would be an especially good way to help them ponder the materials. I think this worked rather well.

In the end, the clearest sign on this first day that this new endeavor was working is that all of the children showed good signs of normalization: peace, focus, interest and joy. 


Introduction to An Unexpected Detour

Last summer I was peacefully going through my life in fairly expected directions when something unexpected happened. I learned that there was going to be training for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) at a local parish. I knew these few facts at the time:

  • That CGS was a Montessori-based religious ed program (and I've loved Montessori for a long time) 
  • That friends of mine had traveled to neighboring states to take the training.
  • A friend of mine from my parish was planning to take the training (because our pastor wanted to get the program going at our parish).
  • The second person from the parish would only be charged half price. 
Connecting these dots caused me to check into whether my parish would want to send me along for the training as well. I was already working at the parish as a liturgical assistant, but thought it might be handy to have a staff member (who already loved Montessori) to take the training in order to help advocate for it, even though I didn't expect to be able to be a catechist - and I definitely had no intention of applying for the open position of DRE (who would be expected to implement the program).

 The pastor said yes and I rearranged my schedule in order to free up the week for Level I, Part 1 training. And fell instantly in love. Although she missed the first day of training, my daughter Kate joined me beginning on day 2 and has been by my side ever since.

We (Kate and I) took the fast track with training by taking Level I, Part 2 at another neighboring parish just a few weeks later. I tentatively and tenuously started to do what I could to help brainstorm getting
the program started.

There are a lot of twists and turns to the whole story, but, in a nutshell, my pastor asked me to take the job of DRE and promised to get me help (and hired a full-time assistant within a few weeks) and be very flexible regarding our family/homeschooling needs. After a lot of prayer and intense family discussions I said yes.

Just wanted to share a brief introduction to this new piece of my life as I am hoping to blog about some parts of the story/journey.
Beautiful Peg Doll Apostles painted by Bernie (age 18)




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Celebration of Our Family's Favorite Children's Book Illustrators

This post is based on a meme I participated in on Facebook.

It was so much fun to pick out favorite illustrators, but I wasn't able to include all of them on Facebook. These are from a list I just made of ones whose illustrations, especially (but also stories since many of them are both author and illustrator) had a huge impact on our family - and are really, in many ways, a part of our family.

C.W. Anderson Billy and Blaze



Virginia Lee Burton Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel



I hated having to pick between Mike Mulligan and Katy and the Big Snow. Mike Mulligan won out partly because we managed to find a board book copy when Frank was little and I think it was his very favorite thing for some time. I also have loved The Little House since I was a child.

 Barbara Cooney Miss Rumphius 



We were first introduced to Miss Rumphius when my sister kindly passed along to us a box of picture books that her girls had out-grown. Thanks Sharon! If you were to buy one book based on the recommendations in this post, I would pick this one.

"You must do something to make the world more beautiful."

Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire. 



Although their Greek Myths is probably the most read title at our house, I want to especially point out Abe Lincoln which was the first book we discovered of theirs and which completely captivated Ria when she was very small. 

Here is a description I wrote about that episode many years ago: 

When my children were young Abe Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire was one of their favorite books. My three year old daughter was making sand-castles in the back one day. While they looked like a collection of sand-hills to the untrained eye, she was kind enough to elaborate on their construction. "This sandcastle is like Abraham Lincoln's house," she explained, "because it has bear-skin rugs."

Tomie de Paola  The Lady of Guadalupe



We have so many favorites among his lovely books, but probably my favorite is The Lady of Guadalupe. Like Abe Lincoln above, it was the first of his books we were introduced to, in fact I believed I borrowed it from the same library at the same time as Abe Lincoln. Other favorites include The Legend of the Poinsettia, The Night of Las Posadas and his 26 Fairmount Avenue series, which is autobiographical.
 

Marjorie Flack. Angus and the Ducks

 
Angus in the Ducks holds an extra special place in our hearts for Gus, especially, at about age 2, learn to love stories and also because we have a very dear recording of Kate at age 3 or 4 reciting it from memory.

Now, I have to admit that Ria has always loved a read-aloud. When she was quite small, she would sit through chapter books such as the Little House books like no other child I've ever seen. (This doesn't by any means indicate that she was an angelic child - she was the only one of my children that seemed to resent - at least for a while - the arrival of a younger sibling). But when Gus came along, things got a little trickier. When he got to be about 2 years old or so, there was nothing that would get him more noisy and upset than when I tried to sit down and read a story aloud to Ria. He would babble and complain like anything and it seemed there wasn't a whole lot I could do. I was pretty stubborn too and wouldn't let him win the day, I'd at least finish reading the chapter I was on, even if I had to be quite loud and deliberate about it. At that time he wasn't very interested even in picture books for some reason - probably had gotten fed up with all the chapter books I read to Ria.

One day, though, I found just the right book for him at the right time. It was Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack. We had found a lovely old hardcover copy at our library book sale and he loved it immediately. The illustrations are enchanting. The language is simple, but charming. He loved the dog and the duck noises were very funny. It's interesting how certain books have become major milestones for us in our child-raising. This one we will always appreciate because it's the book that helped Gus start to love books.

We also love The Story about Ping.

Maj Lindman Flicka, Ricka and Dicka



Arnold Lobel. Frog and Toad


We especially loved his Frog and Toad series. They are such a charming and engaging story of friendship, especially amidst the sadness and frustrations of life.


Robert McCloskey.  Blueberries for Sal



My personal favorite is Blueberries for Sal. "Little Bear and Little Sal's mother and Little Sal and Little Bear's mother were all mixed up with each other among the blueberries on Blueberry Hill."

I also have to mention that Make Way for Ducklings was a favorite of John's when he was a child. We also love One Morning in Maine and Homer Price so very, very much. 

Helen Oxenbury Clap Hands



I don't know that we ever had any other of her books, but Clap Hands was THE board book that every one of our kids loved when they were little.

Richard Scarry The Best Word Book Ever



Who didn't grow up with the most fun game of finding the different objects on the fabulously detailed and rabbit-covered pages of Richard Scarry's books?

Maurice Sendak. Little Bear  

All of my children enjoyed these funny little stories and I appreciated the underlying themes of gratitude and imagination.

Hilda Van Stockum  A Day on Skates



Although we love all of her books and illustrations, I think A Day on Skates takes the cake for favorite, especially in the illustration category.

Bill Waterson Calvin and Hobbes




Garth Williams Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder




Pascale Wirth The Selfish Giant and The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde 

When I asked Ria, who has always had a strong sense of beauty, which children's book illustrators had the biggest impact on her as a child, the first one that came to mind for her was Pascale Wirth because of the illustrations in our copies of The Selfish Giant and The Happy Prince.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits #7

Listening To:

Hamilton. I am intrigued.

Grateful For:

Having everyone home for the summer. Though life is crazier in some ways (and everyone tends to stay up too late at night!), the interactions and shared activities, stories, ideas, etc. are really wonderful. For example, we've had a little retro-tech theme going on around here lately. Gus and I have been scanning old family photos and the oldest and youngest kids both got typewriters...








Everything Keeps Coming Up...

Balance. This concept has been on my mind and heart a lot lately. It is really an answer to many problems, including perfectionism, the need to be controlling of everything, and counteracting the effects of consumerism.

The problem of perfectionism, especially has come up in a lot of my reading lately, especially the book on eugenics I'm still working my way through (an important look at history as well as a  perspective on many modern issues!) and the solution as presented by Pope Francis: "The world does not become better because only apparently 'perfect' people live there."

I think is also a great perspective:

Most people tend to allow the truth they possess so to dominate their thinking that they see few others truths that place their one truth in perspective and balance it out. There is probably no heresy in the history of the Church that did not have its truth. The problem invariably is that the one truth so took over the heretic’s mind that he was committed to cast out any number of other doctrines that clashed with his interpretation of it. – Fr. Thomas Dubay, Authenticity


Playing:

Nothing new to report here, but I've been spending a lot of time in the garden lately.

Reading:

Still plodding through the same books at the moment. :)

Watching:



I saw Captain America: Civil War a few weeks ago (I went in with a little trepidation, because of the conflict between characters that I like!). It exceeded my expectations, but there was a lot going on that I needed some time to process. Last week I got a chance to watch it a second time (Hurray for Marcus Theaters' $5 Tuesdays!) and was really glad that I did. It's a thoughtful and even important movie and very entertaining too. While movies about good guys fighting bad guys can be inspiring, oftentimes it's the battles we have to fight with ourselves that are the most important.

It is kind of nice to be at a stage where everyone in the family is old enough to watch this kind of movie. It's another fun piece that all of the "kids" (half of whom are adults now!) get to process movies like this together.

Quote I'm Pondering:

One of my favorite essays ever is one by C.S. Lewis on the importance of old books. In it he talks about the blindness everone tends to have to the errors of their own age (I was thinking of this especially in terms of the concept of balance mentioned above:

The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them. (emphasis mine)

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits #6

Well, I missed a week because of Memorial Day. Oh well!

Listening To:

Our teens and some of their friends meet on a weekly basis to work on a capella singing - including both secular and sacred pieces. They worked especially hard in recent months preparing Palestrina's Sicut Cervus and Byrd's Ave Verum to sing with the parish choirs for the Mass of Thanksgiving of our new associate pastor. I think it went really well and it sure was a lot of fun!

I've also been listening to a lot of Matt Maher lately. Favorites include: Abide with Me, Because He Lives, Lay It Down, and Lord, I Need You.

Grateful For:





Graduations! Terri has now graduated from high school and Kate from 8th grade. We had a beautiful high school graduation ceremony with our homeschool group (we tend to pass on the 8th grade graduation ceremonies since our kids have continued to homeschool during high school - but those are also available) and a lovely graduation dance in which all of the graduates were recognized.


Everything Keeps Coming Up...

Family pictures. My parents are celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary this month, so we are tackling the project of scanning the old family slides.


Me meeting the family dog, Patches, upon arriving home from the hospital.

Hanging out with Dad. :)
 



Playing:

Baseball, Scrabble, Perspective and Sporcle. I don't think there's anything new on the list right now.


Reading:

I started Fr. Michael Gaitley's 33 Days to Merciful Love a few weeks ago. My mom had bought it for me over Easter and one day when I was headed off to Adoration I picked it up on an impulse and decided to check what the recommended starting dates were. (They like you to set it up to finish on an appropriate feast day.) To my surprise and delight, I happened to pick it up on the only day in May (the 27th) that was listed as a recommended starting day.

It's a wonderful little book, very much in the same flavor as 33 Days to Morning Glory and intended as a follow-up to that book. In comfortably short daily readings, it offers a spirituality based on the writings of St.Thérèse of Lisieux which is particularly focused on appreciating how much we need God and how much he loves us.


Watching:


Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ

I've seen this movie reviewed in oddly different ways. As far as I can tell, it works if you can give it an uncynical viewing (and see it through until the end!), but if you try to read other things into it, it just doesn't work.

The movie is about Hollywood of the 1950s. Eddie Mannix (based on a real-life character) has a tough job at the studio holding together a cast of characters starring in various movies who are always getting themselves (and potentially the studio) into all sorts of trouble. With great artistry and a dry sense of humor, the story pokes fun at these various characters (and through them humanity in general) and their petty quirks and problems. 

The main movie being produced during the story is an epic story of Christ that looks an awful lot like Ben Hur. The movie studio is anxious to not offend anyone's religious sensibilities (which ends up involving a very witty conversation between Eddie Mannix and a group of religious leaders - a Catholic priest, an Orthodox priest, a Protestant minister and a Jewish Rabbi). Its production is unexpectedly halted by the disappearance of the main star, who has his own set of dramatic and intellectual adventures.

The story climaxes with a beautiful scene from the Ben Hur-like movie which is shown to impact not just the characters within that film, but also those involved in its production.

It's a quirky movie - very different from anything else I've ever seen, but we really enjoyed it.

Quote I'm Pondering: 

And if the good God wants you weak and helpless like a child... do you believe that you will have less merit?... Agree to stumble at every step therefore, even to fall, to carry your cross weakly, to love your helplessness. Your soul will draw more profit from it than if, carried by grace, you would accomplish with enthusiasm heroic actions that would fill your soul with personal satisfaction and pride. - St. Thérèse of Lisieux as quoted in 33 Days to Merciful Love

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits #5

Listening To:

We picked up a selection of new music from iTunes in the last week or so, mostly for Ria's birthday. Some of my favorites include Bill Murray singing The Bare Necessities from The Jungle Book, On the Road by The High Kings,  Just Give Me a Reason by Pink (I wonder how many marriages have been saved by this song!), and Oceans by Hillsong United.

Grateful For:

Getting back to blogging! I am amazed that this is my fifth consecutive week of blogging! I decided to aim for some blogging on Tuesday mornings because that's my one "slow" morning of the week. It seems like having a little structure and a weekly goal is really working for me. I'm now finding myself looking forward to writing a blog post each week!

Everything Keeps Coming Up...


Being outside! Track, baseball, dogs, good weather, and not too many bugs yet. We enjoyed having our associate pastor and his sister over for dinner last week and got to eat outside with them. Father even played a little baseball with Frank. :)







Playing:


We've pulled out our old Perspective timeline board game quite a few times since Gus got back from school. The game consists of historic event cards (pre-divided into four major time periods) and a board game on which the cards are played. Dates are on the back of the card (where you can't see them!) and the goal is to put them in order correctly. Others players can challenge your play and gain or lose cards depending on the wisdom of their challenge.

We've also added a few homemade cards over the years. This has been a family favorite for many years (maybe 10?). We also frequently make some adjustments to make it work better for us, like giving better players extra cards to start out with. I was so delighted to discover, when searching for an image for this post, that this game is now back in print!!! More information here: Perspective... The Timeline Game


Reading:

Nothing new here, really. Still working on Sacramentum Caritatis with the high school catechism class and reading Emma and Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck on my own. Oh, and I've also grown fond of the Catholic website Aleteia.

After watching The Jungle Book, I am really eager to read the book.


Watching:





 The Jungle Book

Gus and I went to see this in the theater last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. The music was wonderful - with plenty of nods to the original film. The storyline was terrific. Again, it kept most of the key parts of the animated movie, but without getting stuck in the mud. Bill Murray as Baloo and Christopher Walken as King Louie were fabulous. I loved how they let both actors really play it up as themselves. So fun!!!

The whole movie worked well in so many ways. I love how it portrayed mankind's relationship with nature and the other animals. Nature is beautiful and noble but also can be quite fierce. The animals are both afraid of man and in awe of him. Mowgli (representing mankind), in his turn is weak and vulnerable but also clever in a way that allows him to construct tools and strategies that make up for that deficit. He has the capacity for great destruction, but also for great good.


Quote I'm Pondering: 

The Montessorian and the liturgist in me were both made very happy by this quote from Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity) by Pope Benedict XVI:

In the course of the Synod, there was frequent insistence on the need to avoid any antithesis between the ars celebrandi, the art of proper celebration, and the full, active and fruitful participation of all the faithful. The primary way to foster the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself. The ars celebrandi is the best way to ensure their actuosa participatio. The ars celebrandi is the fruit of faithful adherence to the liturgical norms in all their richness; indeed, for two thousand years this way of celebrating has sustained the faith of all believers, called to take part in the celebration as the People of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.
So we've talked about the importance of beauty and fidelity in liturgy, but also spent a lot of time talking about perspective. Yes, we want really beautiful liturgies and we should do what we can to help build those up, but first of all, the Mass itself is perfect. Jesus comes to us and we receive the Eucharist and it is amazing! Never lose that most basic piece when thinking about the music or the homily or whatever you didn't really quite like.

It's also essential to remember that liturgies are a very human thing and will never be perfect and God understands that. After all, Jesus came down to earth as one of us and didn't in any sense of the word have the best of everything. I help out at our parish sometimes as a backup liturgist. In my mind this role could be considered to have two basic aspects.

  1. Set things up well to help things go as smoothly as possible, help people be comfortable/prepared for their various roles, etc. 
  2. Don't get upset that people will mess up sometimes, babies will cry, etc. 

That human aspect can actually be understood as a beautiful part of the liturgy too. I have long felt that a little baby noise makes things better in church. Maybe this is just because we are always praying and offering ourselves to God as seriously flawed individuals. It's good to have a little perspective and sense of humor about this!

One quote that has long been a guiding piece for me in understanding my relationship to the liturgy is  1 Samuel 15:22:

But Samuel said:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obedience to the LORD’s command?
Obedience is better than sacrifice,
to listen, better than the fat of rams."