Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Justify Protestant teaching for me real quick, m'kay?

I just wrote this email to one of my favorite podcasts, one by a Protestant married couple that revolves around marriage and family life. I figured I'd just post it here in case someone wants to respond:

I've been listening to your podcasts for several months and I look forward to them every week! I value how conversational it is and how you clearly both make the effort to show love to each other regularly. Additionally, I'm very impressed at how well-organized and researched it is, especially considering your busy lives! Christ's role in marriage has a mouthpiece in your podcast, so thank you!

I was just listening to your latest podcast (on awful marriage advice) and for one of the first times I cringed at something you said. You were sharing how some women in the Nashville mom's group had said that the men needed to "take care" of their sexual needs themselves sometimes. I appreciated that you combated that by pointing out that a man who does so regularly will start to weaken the bond between him and his wife. I want to challenge you to go deeper than that.

Why do you think masturbation is so wrong? I believe it's because it's a lie, just like sex before marriage is a lie, and why artificial contraception is a lie. The sexual act, as you said, was created by God as a part of marriage. It must be free, total, faithful, and fruitful in order to avoid becoming a lie. If any of those elements are removed, it becomes a lie. If a spouse masturbates, he or she is seeking pleasure with the parts of their bodies that God designed to help men and women bond in marriage, grow in their intimacy, be in cahoots with our Lord in creation (if it's the right time of the month) and to communicate, "I give my whole self to you."

Christ's love was and is free, total, faithful and fruitful and He calls us to act that way in everything we do, as well. He withheld nothing on the cross and we are called to do the same for Him and His Church. Marriage is an essential part of that. (I know this is a training video for teachers of this curriculum for teens, but it's a good peek into the Church teaching)

Basically, I'm asking you to justify non-Catholic Christian sexual morality teaching. Hahaha no big deal. I write this with some apprehension because I want you to know how much I appreciate so much of what you share. I also want to *listen* to a non-Catholic Christian try to explain the deep theology.

Thank you!


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Priests marry the Church

Priests Marry the Church. Yup. And all need to take that seriously: priests, lay people, friends of priests, all of us.

Thank you, Father John Hollowell!

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Moments 'til Midnight: The Final Thoughts of a Wandering Pilgrim, book review

Moments 'til Midnight: The Final Thoughts of a Wandering PilgrimMoments 'til Midnight: The Final Thoughts of a Wandering Pilgrim (aff) by Brent Crowe

The picture and the description led me to believe this book was going to be a series of first person thoughts from Paul's perspective. Instead, the book uses Paul's final hours before his execution as a frame for telling the reader modern day anecdotes and feelings-based theology. Frankly, it's nothing I haven't already read or heard and there isn't really any meat on the bones. I thought there would be more historical research and insight, but it's really just a few sermons on grace, living with purpose, the value and role of friendship, pilgrim mentality, virtuous living, unity with the family (body) of Christ, and more. It didn't grab me.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Let There Be Light: An Opposites Primer, book review

Let There Be Light: An Opposites PrimerLet There Be Light: An Opposites Primer by Danielle Hitchen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The illustrations in this board book are gorgeous. This book has binary, opposing words on each page with an accompanying Bible passage. I like the concept, as learning opposites without context is pretty fruitless, but I don't know if those Bible passages are the best choices for the pairs. Perhaps a kid-language explanation and then the passage would have been more effective. As it is now, it is just a good way to read the Bible to your child in bite-sized pieces. The two opposites on the page are there in case you can work in the language development during the book reading.

I received this book for free from NetGalley and Harvest House Publishers in exchange for a fair review.

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

From Eden to Bethlehem: An Animals Primer, book review

From Eden to Bethlehem: An Animals PrimerFrom Eden to Bethlehem: An Animals Primer by Danielle Hitchen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful introduction to sacred scripture through the interest of animals! This is a book a parent or adult would need to read with a child. It could be a read aloud, but not one in which you expect toddlers or K-2 kiddos to really understand that well. There are direct quotes from the Bible that refer to whichever animal is featured in the beautiful accompanying illustration. The Bible passages are sometimes intermixed with a more succinct transition, clearly so that the adult isn't just reading verse after verse to someone with such a short attention span.

This is definitely something to put on your shelf, if you want to surround your family in scripture and to show it is relevant to their interests. Again, those illustrations are delicious! I received this book for free from NetGalley and Harvest House Publishers in exchange for a fair review.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

The Accidental Beauty Queen, book review

The Accidental Beauty QueenThe Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To begin, I read this book more quickly than I read a lot of books. I pretty much knew how it was going to go and the character's voice reminded me a lot of others that I've read (or seen in movies or TV shows), but something drew me to read it constantly over a couple of days. For that reason, and for the fact that it doesn't pretend to be different than a light read, I'll give it three stars.

This novel is a cute chick lit work that takes the new feminist stance on beauty pageants (excuse me, scholarship competitions), much like the movie Miss Congeniality. The main character takes her twin's spot in a beauty pageant, something her bookish, make-up-less self would never have willingly entered. Prior to agreeing to the switch, the main character meets a Mr. Darcy character and the whole thing is set in motion.

The plot points are predictable, but, as I said, they kept me reading. The main character's voice is on script for a 2018 sense of humor, but both she and her twin sister sound like they're much younger than the 29 years old they are cast to be. There was some character development, certainly, but some of it was spelled out for the reader.

Yet, I must mention how many times my eyes rolled with regard to the love story. Again, I recognize the purpose of the genre and I was enjoying it as I read it. It's a reflection on the low standards our whole culture has for what True Love can be and look like that this woman could take so few details about someone she barely knows, plus the physical attraction, and turn that into a night of passion that has her staring into the mirror at a woman "in love" as she completes the walk of shame back to her hotel room. There were so many references to great classical works and their love stories, but that would suggest the main character has a more mature understanding of dedicated, self-sacrificing love. And I don't think that's what she got. It was just as hormone-dependent and sex-first-relationship-later as any other contemporary woman is supposed "to be cool with."

In conclusion, the book entertained me and I sought more time in my day to read it. That has to stand for something! I received this book from NetGalley and Gallery Books in exchange for a fair review.

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

See You in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in Italy, book review

See You in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in ItalySee You in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in Italy by Frances Mayes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

Mayes brings her delectable writing style to the pages of this travelogue/memoir/guide for all of us who wish we could take two weeks to walk in her shoes. Italy isn't just a place but an attitude and way of living, something Mayes makes clear through gently describing the distinctions between one little town and another.

This is not a book you pick up with your map in hand to help you plan your trip to Italy so much as it is like a first date (or first date in a long time) with the Italian way to spend your day. Yes, she has the book organized in such a way that you could look up the province and town you want to visit to see her recommendations. However, she doesn't cover every little town (nor should she, as this isn't Frommer's) and she presents them in a well-organized tapestry of anecdotes of her experiences there. Mayes implies so much about what it means to be Italian and live like one without having to hold your hand to communicate it.

Read it because I have a feeling you'll learn how to appreciate Italy after you travel through it with her. Perhaps you'll even find a way to sit in a cafe around your own corner and ponder with peaceful quiet the way she can in Italy. You'll get both story and guide in this book. Thank you, Frances Mayes! Now I'm saving up for another trip to Italy!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Advent to Epiphany: Engaging the Heart of Christmas, book review

Advent to Epiphany: Engaging the Heart of ChristmasAdvent to Epiphany: Engaging the Heart of Christmas by Liena Apsukrapsa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you to the authors for creating a resource that applies to Advent and the entire season of Christmas! All twelve days!

I can easily see how this daily devotional would help a Christian focus effectively on the seasons of Advent and Epiphany. If you're looking into buying this book, it's probably because you know that focus is often lacking for the sake of the busyness of the seasons. Each day's devotional is structured: Prepare for your time with the Lord in the devotional, prayer, scripture, reflection, going deeper, prayer, journal.

The "going deeper" and the journal prompt questions were poignant. I can't wait to use this when Advent begins.

This would be a good investment for a church or parish to have on hand and to give to the congregation at the start of Advent, or even a few weeks before. For Catholics shopping this book: the scripture readings do not correlate with daily readings. Also, while I'm delighted and surprised that there were reflections on Mary in the devotional, they don't go as deeply as we would like in reflecting on the woman who brought Christ into our world.

Overall, two thumbs up!

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