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Showing posts from September, 2013

Sagrada Familia: Finished...in 2026

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I love churches and church architecture. One of the most stunning pieces in the world is Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The original architect, Antoni Gaudi, died several years ago, but his work is being carried out by a team of architects and master builders. This video shows what the church will look like when completed.


Monday Morning Art Jam

Still sharing from this year's ArtPrize. Here is my photo of one of the top 10:


Infertility Treatment Can Make You Sick

FINALLY, someone is talking about this. Those hormones and chemicals pumped into women seeking pregnancy: not so good.

The powerful new statement affirms that toxic chemicals in the environment are harming our reproductive health. They are harming our fetuses and babies, and they are harming our health as women, men, mothers and fathers.
These prestigious organizations write: "Reducing exposure to toxic environmental agents is a critical area of intervention for obstetricians, gynecologists, and other reproductive health care professionals."
Not just concern: intervention. They should roll up their sleeves and do all they can to reduce harmful exposures: "Patient exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and other stressors is ubiquitous, and preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health across the life course."
Profound and lasting.

And it's not just the moms: this stuff i…

Freakin' Friday Fun

How long is adolescence?

There are a couple of articles floating around that  adolescence lasts longer than we thought. This is no news to any parent, who realizes that 18 is just a number, not a magic moment when a young person suddenly becomes wholly responsible for his or her life and manages to thoughtfully and wisely think through decisions.

However, a lot of parents also know something else: if you treat a kid as a kid, they will keep acting like a kid as long as you let them. Call it being a "helicopter" parent or rescuing or whatever, a young person will learn what you teach them. And if you teach them that, at age 24, you'll still bail them out of a jam, they'll keep doing it.

Here is a good thing for a parent of a young adult to say, "Wow. That sounds tough. What are you going to do about it?"

Another good one: "Yeah, I remember when that happened to me. It was hard. How are you planning on dealing with it?"

If you say things like, "Oh, Dad and I will give …

One writer: How Edith Stein made me a woman

St. Edith Stein is the patroness of this blog, and I'm always delighted when I can introduce someone to her, or see that someone has discovered her. Here is a great piece over at Aleteia.com on how Edith Stein helped one writer "woman up".

In my desperation I took up the book my friend had recommended called ‘Woman’ which was the collected works on the nature of womanhood by Edith Stein (Converted Jew, Carmelite, Philosopher extraordinaire, Nazi gas chamber victim, Saint and all-round ROCK STAR.)

I got down on my knees. “OK Lord” I said “I’m here. I’m lost, I’m broken and I’m giving what little wretched self I have to you.” Then, not without a certain amount of trepidation, I took to the book in prayer.

I started to read; the more I read, the more my blood started to race... the words, those piercing words - they began to thunder through my mind, sending me into a whirl.


“Women naturally seek to embrace that which is living, personal and whole. To cherish, guard,…

Monday Morning Art Jam

Grand Rapids is smack in the middle of ArtPrize, the biggest art show in the world. I spent the weekend with a friend, soaking it all in. Here are a few of the great pieces we saw!



"Don't waste your pain"

Evangelical minister Rick Warren (best known for his book The Purpose Driven Life) lost his son Matthew to suicide awhile back. Matthew, according to his family, had struggled with depression for most of his life, and even with the best care, could not find peace.

Rick Warren has been giving a series of sermons at his Saddleback Church based on his experience of Matthew's suicide.

"Our deepest life message often comes out of our deepest pain," he said.
"I can endure pain if I see a purpose in it. But sadly, most people squander their suffering, don't profit from their problems, never learn from their losses and are unable to advance from their adversity or gain from their pain."
He pointed out suffering could make believers become more like Christ as He learned obedience through suffering.
In a similar way, he challenged people to use their pain to draw closer to God and to others.
"God didn't spare Jesus, His only Son from pain; what makes you thin…

Adoptive Families In Crisis: hidden child abuse

Megan Twohey of Reuters Investigates has done an outstanding job researching and writing about the hideous adoption "underground" that exists due to adoptive parents who are overwhelmed, self-involved and in over their heads.

If you're a reader of this blog, you know our family has had its own struggles with our adopted children, but never, ever have we ever thought of abandoning them. I understand how hard it can be, and some of the families featured in this story have very difficult situations to deal with and felt very alone. That's a horrible place to be. But how does one justify giving a child away via an ad on a Yahoo group board?

Nicole and Calvin Eason, an Illinois couple in their 30s, saw the ad and a picture of the smiling 16-year-old. They were eager to take Quita, even though the ad warned that she had been diagnosed with severe health and behavioral problems. In emails, Nicole Eason assured Melissa Puchalla that she could handle the girl.
"People …

And now a word from our Holy Father....

“Go and pray for him! Go and do penance for her! And then, if it is necessary, speak to that person who may be able to seek remedy for the problem. But don’t tell everyone! Paul had been a sinner, and he says of himself: I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a violent man. But I have been mercifully treated”. Perhaps none of us are blasphemer – perhaps… But if we ever gossip we are certainly persecutors and violent. We ask for grace so that we and the entire Church may convert from the crime of gossip to love, to humility, to meekness, to docility, to the generosity of love towards our neighbor”.
“Gossip – he warned – always has a criminal side to it. There is no such thing as innocent gossip”. And quoting St. James the Apostle, the Pope said the tongue is to be used to praise God, “but when we use our tongue to speak ill of our brother or sister, we are using it to kill God”, “the image of God in our brother”. Some may say – the Pope commented – that there are persons w…

Monday Morning Art Jam

Stiff-necked people

I have a really stiff neck - literally. I woke up, stretched, and something popped. Now, moving my head is agony.

We are a stiff-necked people, aren't we? We refuse to look around us, perhaps view something in a different way. We have our eyes fixed straight ahead, on our own agenda and NOTHING is going to move our head to look at something else.

God calls us to view things differently - His way. That requires us to shift our gaze off of the horizon we've set for ourselves. We might have to look down at our own feet and realize they are moving in the wrong direction. We might have to look right, and see the neighbor in desperate need of our help, our prayer, our support. We might have to look left, and see that God has something completely different for us, something we've been stubbornly refusing to look at - even though we know it's there. Even though we know it's better that what we've had our eyes fixed upon. Even though we know it's best. No, we are a …

And now a word from our Holy Father...

What’s the point of fighting wars, many wars, if you’re not capable of fighting this deep war against evil? There’s no point! It’s no good… This means, among other things, this war against evil means saying no to fratricidal hatred, and to the lies that it uses; saying no to violence in all its forms; saying no to the proliferation of arms and their sale on the black market. There are so many of them! There are so many of them! And the doubt always remains: this war over there, this other war over there – because there are wars everywhere – is it really a war over problems, or is it a commercial war, to sell these arms on the black market? These are the enemies we must fight, united and coherent, following no other interests but those of peace and of the common good.
Dear brothers, today we also remember the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, a celebration particularly beloved by the Oriental Churches. And all of us, now, can send our warm greetings to all the brothers, sisters,…

The value of suffering

This is a lovely contemplation from a different worldview on the value of suffering. I've included an excerpt here, but the entire piece is worth your time.

Occasionally, too, I’ll see that suffering can be in the eye of the beholder, our ignorant projection. The quadriplegic asks you not to extend sympathy to her; she’s happy, even if her form of pain is more visible than yours. The man on the street in Calcutta, India, or Port-au-Prince, Haiti, overturns all our simple notions about the relation of terrible conditions to cheerfulness and energy and asks whether we haven’t just brought our ideas of poverty with us. But does that change all the many times when suffering leaves us with no seeming benefit at all, and only a resentment of those who tell us to look on the bright side and count our blessings and recall that time heals all wounds (when we know it doesn’t)? None of us expects life to be easy; Job merely wants an explanation for his constant unease. To l…

Monday Morning Art Jam

Could you live here?

Freakin' Friday Fun

Somewhere in another time and place...


Seeing the Bible in a whole new way

I am enchanted, intrigued and bewildered by infographics. I wish I knew how to make 'em, but they're complex creatures, even though they simplify reference materials, ideas, whole chunks of thought.

This article in the UK's The Guardian highlights some fascinating ways of looking at the Bible. Okay, some of them are a little weird, but some of them are freakin' awesome!

I really like this one: it allows you to "tie together" two books in the Bible and see how they connect and reference each other. I did Ruth and John, my two favorite books.

I know it's a bit hard to see here, but there are lines connecting passages in Ruth to passages in John. Nifty!

If you're pro-gay marriage, here's a thought...

Many folks who are pro-gay marriage liken their fight for equality in marriage to the civil rights movement. I don't happen to agree, as I believe there is a difference to the way one is born (dark-skinned, homosexual, near-sighted, etc.) and the way one chooses to behave. However, for the sake of this discussion, let's go with the gay-marriage/civil rights comparison.

As a nation, we just spent some time reflecting on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech at the Lincoln Memorial 50 years ago. I consider Dr. King a personal hero, a flawed man, but surely led by God to do some great things. He also knew a thing or two about how to change the mind of people who hated him and everything he stood for.

Recently, a Christian couple in Oregon (Melissa Klein and her husband) chose not to prepare a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. Their business, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, was founded, the owners said, on their Christian beliefs, and they believe that marriage is ordained b…

Portraits of the Pope: too good not to share

Religious News Service has been running a contest to portray Pope Francis artistically, and the results are in. I'll just share one I like and one that, well...maybe missed the mark a bit? You find your own favorites.

(In case you can't read the fine print on this lower one, it says, "Pope Francis in God's perspective." Uh-huh.

And now a word from our Holy Father...

From the Angelus, Sunday, Aug. 25:


In our day we pass in front of so many doors that invite us to come in, promising a happiness which later we realize lasts only an instant, exhausts itself with no future. But I ask you: by which door do we want to enter? And who do we want to let in through the door of our life? I would like to say forcefully: let's not be afraid to cross the threshold of faith in Jesus, to let him enter our life more and more, to step out of our selfishness, our closure, our indifference to others so that Jesus may illuminate our life with a light that never goes out. It is not a firework, not a flash of light! No, it is a peaceful light that lasts for ever and gives us peace. Consequently it is the light we encounter if we enter through Jesus' door.
Of course Jesus' door is a narrow one …

Monday Morning Art Jam

Diego Rivera, Detroit Institute of Arts