Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pictures of My Parish

Cleaning pics off my computer.

This is the church itself. We were (obviously) getting our roof repaired at the time.

That's the other parish buildings - community center and off to the left you can see the building where they have ccd classes.

This is our narthex. The bowl shaped like a shell is the Holy Water. There's also, toward the doors on the right, another container of Holy Water - people can fill up bottles from that to take home.

The nave, with the altar at the far end. There's a statue of Mary to the left (the Crucifixes right) and Joseph to the right (Crucifixes left). Our chapel is located on the other side of the altar wall and there is seating to each side - the church is basically laid out like a cross, inside.

This is the Chapel. To the right of the altar is the Tabernacle, where the Blessed Sacrament is reposed. The red light stays lit all the time, a sign of the True Presence of Christ in the Sacrament.

And this is the Baptismal Font. It can actually be moved (but it's very heavy). They typically perform Baptism's in the Chapel.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Nerd, Let Me Show You It

Okay, before we get to our previously scheduled nerd post:

Naturally Super and Facing Ghosts

ComicCon Supernatural Vid! Not mine, cause I did not get to attend ComiCon, but, uh, *splorfl* head-explodey! Kripke! You wonderful, wonderful mad bastard! *twitches* It is September now, yes? Yes?

And now...

My Fables statues. Snow White and Bigby and Rose Red and Shere Khan.

Some close ups of Snow & Bigby. You really need to look at this one from all angles, because of the bodies of the wooden soldiers and the details on the base.

Rose Red and Shere Khan. And if you don't know who Rose Red is, you've been raised on Disney-fied fairy tales, and I pity you. :)
And the rest of my humble toy collection. You win internet cookies if you can name the characters. :)

Guess Where Amber'll Be Spending Some 'Free' Internet Time

I found an Orthodox web forum!

Also, my new books:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Helpful Information for Keeping a Prayer Rule by St. Theophan the Recluse

Interesting article I came across. I pray first thing in the morning and right before bed, as well as during the day, but I've been feeling like I need to make it more...organized? Have set times during the day. I was looking at the Liturgy of the Hours, but it seems to be intended for clergy and religious, more than the laity, and to be perfectly honest, I don't feel drawn to it.

So, I continue the search. But I really loved this (comments & emphasis mine):

Helpful Information for Keeping a Prayer Rule
By St. Theophan the Recluse

You ask about a prayer rule. Yes, it is good to have a prayer rule on account of our weakness so that on the one hand we do not give in to laziness, and on the other hand we restrain our enthusiasm to its proper measure. (Something that I certainly need. I tend to extremes, in a lot of ways. Less towards laziness, and more towards - jump in with both feet, I'll do *everything* and kill myself with exhaustion trying to learn it all and do it all all at once. I need to learn how to ease into religious things a little better.) The greatest practitioners of prayer kept a prayer rule. They would always begin with established prayers, and if during the course of these a prayer started on its own, they would put aside the others and pray that prayer. If this is what the great practitioners of prayer did, all the more reason for us to do so. Without established prayers, we would not know how to pray at all. Without them, we would be left entirely without prayer. However, one does not have to do many prayers. It is better to perform a small number of prayers properly than to hurry through a large number of prayers, because it is difficult to maintain the heat of prayerful zeal when they are performed to excess. (Quality, not quantity) I would consider the morning and evening prayers as set out in the prayer books to be entirely sufficient for you. Just try each time to carry them out with full attention and corresponding feelings. To be more successful at this, spend a little of your free time at reading over all the prayers separately. Think them over and feel them, so that when you recite them at your prayer rule, you will know the holy thoughts and feelings that are contained in them. Prayer does not mean that we just recite prayers, but that we assimilate their content within ourselves, and pronounce them as if they came from our minds and hearts. (I think this is most important. You have to feel the prayer, have the intent behind it, before it does any good. I could recite a prayer a million times, perfectly, and if all I'm doing is saying the words, it means nothing.)

After you have considered and felt the prayers, work at memorizing them. Then you will not have to fumble about for your prayer book and light when it is time to pray; neither will you be distracted by anything you see while you are performing your prayers, but can more easily maintain thoughtful petition toward God. You will see for yourself what a great help this is. The fact that you will have your prayer book with you at all times and in all places is of great significance. Being thus prepared, when you stand at prayer be careful to keep your mind from drifting and your feeling from coldness and indifference, exerting yourself in every way to keep your attention and to spark warmth of feeling. After you have recited each prayer, make prostrations, as many as you like, accompanied by a prayer for any necessity that you feel, or by the usual short prayer. This will lengthen your prayer time a little, but its power will be increased. You should pray a little longer on your own especially at the end of your prayers, asking forgiveness for unintentional straying of the mind, and placing yourself in God's hands for the entire day. You must also maintain prayerful attention toward God throughout the day. For this, as we have already mentioned more than once, there is remembrance of God; and for remembrance of God, there are short prayers. It is good, very good, to memorize several psalms and recite them while you are working or between tasks, doing this instead of short prayers sometimes, with concentration. This is one of the most ancient Christian customs, mentioned by and included in the rules of St. Pachomius and St. Anthony. After spending the day in this manner, you must pray more diligently and with more concentration in the evening. Increase your prostrations and petitions to God, and after you have placed yourself in Divine hands once again, go to bed with a short prayer on your lips and fall asleep with it or recite some psalm.

Which psalms should you memorize? Memorize the ones that strike your heart as you are reading them. Each person will find different psalms to be more effective for himself. Begin with Have mercy on me, O God (Psalm 50); then Bless the Lord, O my soul (Psalm 102); and Praise the Lord, O my Soul (Psalm 145). These latter two are the antiphon hymns in the Liturgy. There are also the psalms in the Canon for Divine Communion: The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 22); The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof (Psalm 23); I believed, wherefore I spake (Psalm 115); and the first psalm of the evening vigil, O God, be attentive unto helping me (Psalm 69). There are the psalms of the hours, and the like. Read the Psalter and select. After you have memorized all of these, you will always be fully armed with prayer. When some disturbing thought occurs, rush to fall down before the Lord with either a short prayer or one of the psalms, especially O God, be attentive unto helping me, and the disturbing cloud will immediately disperse.There you are; everything on the subject of a prayer rule. I will, however, mention once again that you should remember that all these are aids, and the most important thing is standing before God with the mind in the heart with devotion and heartfelt prostration to Him. I will repeat once again that the essence of prayer is the lifting of the mind and heart to God; these little rules are an aid. We cannot get by without them because of our weakness. May theLord bless you!

Excerpted from The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It (Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1996).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Post In Which I Inflict Trauma On Someone

I can't be the only person who thinks these places aren't creepy but cool.

This bone chandelier is in the Kostnice, Kutna Hora, Prague - Church of Bones

These are all from a Cappucchin crypt beneath Santa Maria della Concezione.

And, to liven the post up a bit:
Eliot Spencer. Shush and enjoy the butt-kicking pretty.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ten Things

Working my way through posts in bits, cause of the wonky net and all.

Susanne tagged me last week, and I just saw it. :)

Ten Things:

1. For several weeks when I was 5/6 years old, I thought I was the reincarnation of Christ. Please don't ask me *how* I came to that conclusion, I don't recall. I just remember that I became disillusioned when a neighbor's cat scratched me, and I thought that the cat wouldn't have done that to God, so. Kid logic, you've gotta love it.

2. My eyesight is terrible. I'm practically blind without my contacts, and the only thing I fear about getting old is actually going blind. I won't be able to read!

3. I have lived in a haunted house and seen ghosts on several other occasions.

4. I came to the conclusion that an atheist who believed in ghosts was insane, which is what started me out, years ago, looking into religion again.

5. I'm living proof that a genius IQ without drive or ambition is simply a bright and *incredibly easily bored* person wreaking havok where ever she feels like it.

6. I've always sort of wanted to be a medical examiner. Think less Bones, more Dr. G. Dead things don't gross me out, and I find them fascinating.

7. I secretly suspect that my grandmother killed my grandfather, at the end. He was dying of cancer, and we were taking care of him at home. There was always someone in the house, the hospice nurse, my mom or uncles, but he just happened to die the first time she was alone with him in the house. It's not something I'll ever say to the family, because God knows I'd just cause hell, and we'll never know for sure. But a part of me thinks it, and I can't unthink it.

8. I once wrote a lit. paper drawing literary comparison between the King Arthur mythos and Batman (comics).

9. I've read thousands of books in my life. I've only failed to finish one. American Psycho by Brent Ellis. I actually threw it across the room. I can deal with horror, but this book was too much. And then, then, the end! Ugh! *gnaws on furniture*

10. I can play the clarinet. It's my only musical skill.

Hmm...tag...uh...Heather...Sanil...Ahavah? If you want. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vague Ideas for Basic Faith Classes

Oh, sweet interwebs, I have missed you! *hugs 'Net* We're having 'issues' with the internet, so my connection has been iffy for a while. It's still iffy, but better, and they're sending out a tech to 'fix it' tomorrow.

So, to the post I've wanted to make for half a week.

Basic Faith class. We met with the DRE, I still find her loud and obnoxious and generally not someone I want to be around, but I'm going to go with it, and give the teaching thing a try for the year.

There's not a curriculum, per se, so Deb (the other teacher) and I are going to have to make it up ourselves. The DRE gave us books from which to take information, Exhibit A:

And we've got a vague idea of some of the things that we need to cover. The idea is an over all, general coverage of the faith - these are 6/7 year olds, so nothing too in depth. We're sort of getting them ready for the next class, which will be Eucharist & Reconciliation.
Some of the things we want to do:

1. Start the class, after an opening prayer, with a Best & Worst Thing that Happened during the week for each child. The idea is to teach them to thank God for the good, and ask God's help for the bad.

2. Vocabulary - Trinity, Incarnation, Bible, Grace, Salvation, Mary, Church, Pope, Saints, Sin, Heaven, Hell, Faith, Purgatory, the Ten Commandments, Hope, Love, Judgment, etc.

3. The Seven Sacraments - not *detail* but what the seven are, and what, in general, they entail.

4. The hierarchy of the Church.

5. The Mass - sort of a, order of the Mass, what's occuring at which point, maybe some background, but I'm not sure about that. I think the background might be too deep and boring for kids that age. But we want them to have a basic understanding of the Liturgy.

6. The basic prayers. Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be. Now, tied in with that, I was thinking, and I haven't discussed this with Deb yet, but as a craft, I thought that we could have the kids make their own rosary's in connection with learning the prayers. After all, that's what the rosary is (yes, there's the Creed as well, and the Hail Holy Queen, and the Jesus Prayer, but at it's heart are those three prayers). Now, I'm not as fond of the rosary as some people I know, but I do think it's an excellent tool for learning these prayers - it's how I did it - and I personally use it as a meditative device. I have trouble quieting my mind in order to pray, and I find saying a rosary helps me with that.

To that end, I experimentally made a rosary - not hard, though this one's crude.

I put it next to my other rosary's for comparison. The green one is the one I bought myself, the white one I can't recall where I got it, and the crystal one is the one they gave us in RCIA - it's my blessed rosary that I carry with me.

The hardest part was the cross at the end. I didn't have a spare cross or crucifix lying around, and I didn't have any wire around, so I had to improvise with the cord I used. I don't think it turned out that bad...

7. I do want to try and emphasize the importance of prayer in their lives. For instance, praying first thing in the morning, and then last thing before you lay down to sleep. Praying Grace before you eat, when you're having trouble, etc. But that's less a specific lesson, and more something that needs to be laced throughout the whole class.

Anyway, we're going to meet next Sunday to go over more detail, after we've had a chance to read through the books and get some ideas.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Books: Women of Genesis Trilogy

Orson Scott Card is a fairly well known scifi writer, and a while ago, when I had a yen for Biblical fiction, I found this trilogy. The concept is, basically, telling the stories of the wives of the Patriarchs. So you get Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel & Leah.

They were all enjoyable books, I finished the trilogy in just three days - very light, easy reading. But here's an important thing (two, actually), to remember: 1) It's *fiction* and therefore, some(lots) artistic license has been taken, 2) Card is Mormon, and it does come through in some wonky theological stuff in the books. I don't know enough about Mormon's to catch it all, but two things that stuck out were that 'God lives on another planet' and the 'household gods' represent the Father God and His Son which then changes to the Father God and His Servant/Son, and then in the last book it's Father God and His Angel. And we're talking about the same household gods, here. They get passed down in the books through a couple generations.

Another thing that bugged me, and it's sort of silly I guess, was that Hagar and Ishmael get really short shrift, in my opinion. Hagar is portrayed as a manipulative, lying, conniving, ungrateful shrew who takes all the advantages she can get and would (most likely) have killed Isaac if she could. And Ishmael comes off as this huge bully-cum-warlord who everybody worries is going to sweep down and lay to waste everything when Abraham dies.

And, and this'll be funny, I guess, to people who remember that I think some parts of the Bible aren't literal - he implies that some of the things written in the Bible didn't happen at all. And, yes, that bothers me.

Now, this isn't something that *bothered* me, but - there's a *huge* deal made about Abraham yelling at everybody else for making human sacrifice, etc. and Sarah pins so much on this, it's kind of like watching a train wreck, knowing that he's going to be asked to sacrifice Isaac later on. And yes, we all know it doesn't happen, but still. And then in the second book, the story has gotten around, but everybody says it's just this hurtful lie made up by Ishmael. However, he does make a point of showing that, despite the faith of both father and son, having your father willing to kill you will...let's go with *damage* your image of how your father values you. I think Card may have gone too far in many ways, but, artistic license.

Despite that stuff, they were well written, and entertaining. I actually laughed out loud in several places in all the books.

For examples of the humor:

In Sarah, Lot marries her older sister, Qira. They do, eventually, wind up living in Sodom. And Qira is forever lamenting how Lot just refuses to get along with the other men in town - he won't dress like they do, he won't go to their parties, etc. And it's...something of a running gag, I guess, that *everyone* knows what's going on in Sodom, and tries to tell her, delicately, but she just lets it sail straight over her head. And she keeps trying to reassure Sarah that her barrenness wouldn't be so odd in Sodom, because the women there have a hell of a time conceiving too...Or the part where Lot actually packs up the house around her and leaves, because she's refusing to leave Sodom to spend some time with Abraham's family.

In Rebekah, her father goes deaf, and she and Laban learn to write so that they can communicate with him, and teach it to the rest of the household for the same reason. And messages start appearing around the camp scratched in dirt, etc. saying how ugly Rebekah is. It comes out that it's a camp boy named Beibal writing them because Laban had beaten him up for making a crude comment about Rebekah because she was so pretty. Beibal and his mother get thrown out of the camp because of it, and this upsets Rebekah a lot. So, in order to keep this from happening again, she decides to wear a veil (something that they use in sandstorms) all the time, so no one can see how pretty she is.

She announces this to her nurse, Deborah, saying that she'd prayed to God, and God didn't say *not* to, so she was going to.

Deborah says: "What else isn't God telling you not to do so you can go ahead and do it?"

And then in Rachel and Leah:

Rachel: I don't know that I'm going to like being married to a man who ridicules me.

Jacob: What should I do, then, just gaze in perpetual rapture at your astonishing beauty?

Rachel: Not all the time. Just when you think I'm stupid.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rambling Think on Polygamy

You ever know one of those people who can confuse the hell out of you sometimes? Just...swing around and say crazy stuff seemingly out of the blue?

Anyway, one such person brought up polygamy the other day. It's an interesting thing, polygamy.

Something that's existed since, well, as far as we can tell, nearly the beginning of humanity. On the surface of it, it seems like it would be great for the man, but, in my opinion, if done 'right', it benefits the women more than the men.

But what's the 'right' way? Well, so far as I can find, Islam places the most restrictions on the practice. Which isn't to say that everyone *listens* to the restrictions, but they're there. I've by no means made an in depth study of it, so, of course, I may be mistaken.

This is my base understanding of the status of polygamy in Islam:

1. It is permitted - not obligatory, not encouraged, just allowed.

2. It's not to be done just because hubby wants to get his groove on. Ideally, it should be (apparently) practiced to benefit widows and orphans. Obviously this is not the only time that men would take more than one wife, but that seems to be when it was encouraged, so that they didn't become homeless and beggars.

3. Even then, men weren't allowed to marry as many women as they liked. The cap was set at four, *at the most*.

4. The man must be able to deal equally (and justly) with all his wives. Equally, not just in the material sense, but in all aspects for which the husband is responsible, including his feelings for them, his kind treatment of them. If he can't do that, then he should only marry the one. All the wives are equal, so the whole, First Wife, Second Wife, etc. in terms of 'power' in the relationship is counter to the ideal. Yes, there will always be the wife who got married first, second, yadda. And, as in all group things, different people will have different 'jobs', different strengths, and someone will have to be the 'leader' because otherwise some things wouldn't get done. But the 'first' wife shouldn't be considered better than the other wives.

5. It's a free choice of all involved parties. Hubby running off and marrying a second woman and then bringing her home and going, 'There ya go. Married again. Live with it.' is out, despite the fact that this does, apparently, happen. The first wife has the right, whether or not she can exercise it in 'Muslim' countries, which it is my understanding that she can't, to divorce her husband under such circumstances.

So, there. That's what's formed by basic ideas of what the 'right' way to do polygamy is.

Based on that, why is it (in my mind), a better deal for the women than the men? Assuming that all the above requirements are being met.

The man has to support two (or more) families. Just exactly the same. He can't buy a house for one and then make the second family live in a third floor walk up in the bad part of town. He must spread everything, including his love and affection, equally. When something goes wrong, trust me, he's going to be at fault. From two sides. A lot (all) of the burden is on him. And sex? Heh. Sure, it sounds good, in theory. Two (or more) wives, no waiting! But really...uh...ever hear the line, 'the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak'? There's only so much to go around, and with two (or more) women wanting their marital rights...yeah. Think about it boys. Solomon may have had seven hundred wives, but he didn't *have* them all that often, if you get my drift.

Of course, it's hard for the wives, too, don't get me wrong. Natural jealousy, sniping, if they live in the same house, cycles get synced, and wow, is that fun. The women, assuming again, that everyone is there willingly, and knew what they were getting in to, have a lot of work to do to make it all work as well. Children, schedules, on and on. It's a lot. On the other hand, you have another woman around, and if you can be friends, then yay! And assistance with kids, doctors appointments, housework, if you're feeling ill, second wife can deal with things, and vice versa.

This was an interesting little article, Polygamy in Islamic Law. There's tons of sites and articles and back and forth about whether or not Christian and Jewish polygamy should still be practiced. Some argue that the rise of monogamy is a cultural change, not a theological one. Also, I want this book, just as an aside: The History and Philosophy of Marriage
And, just one more thing, which feel is related, and it's my post, so you must live with that! :)
Mohammed, in my opinion, did a *lot* to elevate women of that time. This isn't just from reading Islamic-ly 'slanted' histories. I am not an expert, but I try to read from many different perspectives, with the belief that the truth is somewhere in the middle of all those opinions.
History, to a certain extent, is interpretive. None of us were there, and we have, in many instances, only the accounts of the ancient people to tell us what happened. And all of them slant the story to damn their enemies and elevate themselves. Understanding of the way women were regarded in so many ancient cultures will lead you to see the changes, for the better, that Mohammed brought. You read a *lot* of anti-Islamic polemic that accuses Mohammed of a *ton* of bad things. Mysogynist, pedophile, murderer, rapist, on and on. I've read as much as I've been able to, up to this point, which is by no means everything that's ever been written.
However, what I have read, and my own general knowledge cultures of the time, leads me to reject all the nasty, nasty things that get said. In my opinion, Mohammed was a great man of his time - no worse than anyone else, and a look at history, unbiased, will tell you that. Whatever else people may believe he was, denying that he was an excellent and revolutionary leader is akin to sticking your fingers in your ears, stomping your feet, and declaring that you just don't like it, so it's not true!
No, I don't believe that Mohammed was a Prophet - if I did, I'd be Muslim, wouldn't I? But I'm not going deny the man what I see as his just due, either.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Intimacy of Touch

Random thinky:

This is something else that we seem to have lost. Whether intentionally or not, because we dress with so much skin showing - and I mean even people who dress fairly conservatively here, I dressed 'modestly' in comparison to society before, and I wore short sleeves and sleeveless tops all the time - we get *touched* all the time.

Bump here, bump there, grab somebody on the arm if you want to talk (only if you know them, or you might get in trouble...).

Touch, especially between a man and a woman, has ceased, on many levels, to be intimate.

Hijab (or anything I would count as real, proper modest dress), prevents all this random touching. Not only are you visually covered, but if someone does grab you on the arm (and I'm thinking here of just random, nonviolent interactions), there's no physical contact.

Physical, intimate touching is meant to be between a husband and wife, right? But if we're all just randomly touching skin, all the time (with or without any intentional meaning behind it), it looses it's specialness. Certainly, this doesn't mean we're not going to seek the touch of a spouse, but... it's *lost* something, something that I can't quite put into words, at the moment.

Here's the cause for my realization of this:

Without really consciously thinking about it, I've stopped touching people in that random fashion. No, really, I thought back on this yesterday, and even taking receipts and things, where your fingers would brush? I've managed to not touch anybody.

So, the other day, I was walking down the hall past a meeting room, and a friend of mine was standing in the door. He was joking around, and said, 'Save me, I don't want to go to this meeting!' Without really thinking about it, because we've been friends forever and joke around all the time, I grabbed his upper arm, to 'drag him to safety'. We laughed, I let go, he went to his meeting, and I went on about my business.

But here's the thing: The contact was a shock! The feel of skin and muscle and heat surprised me. I could still 'feel' it for quite a while afterward.

And this is what got me thinking about this stuff. Constant contact takes away the specialness of contact.


P.s. I went looking for illustrations for this, but nothing really caught my eye. However, when I google things like hijab, or muslim women, or niqabi, I will get naked women (well, really, only partially naked, because they're wearing a niqab and nothing else, or a chador and holding one side of it up so you can see that they're not wearing anything under it) mixed in with the good pictures - this is wrong on so many levels...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Turn Coat Post - Dresden Files

Achem. This is a post of fannish squeaking. I don't think any of you read the Dresden Files, so bear with me. :)

Mr. Butcher - Touche. You win. I cried for Morgan. Freaking Morgan. I salute you.

Donald Morgan.

Wizard. Warden. Badass.

"Do you know why I didn't? Why I came to you?"

I shook my head.

"Because I knew," he whispered. He lifted his right hand, and I gripped it hard. "I knew that you knew how it felt to be an innocent man hounded by the Wardens."


Monday, July 6, 2009

Jilbab and the Twilight Zone

This is one of those multi-topic posts I do on occasion. :)

1. Jilbab
I did, in fact, wear my jilbab and pashmina out Sunday afternoon. I went to the movies and the mall. It went well, I sort of sprung it on my friend I was going with, but she said it looked cute and very...traditional from the 'other side'. :) My one issue was that I had to rewrap the scarf half-way through the day, but that's more a problem of practice than anything else.

2. Heelarious

They make 'high heeled' booties for babies. *head desk - repeatedly* I'm not even linking to that, it's so dumb. Obviously the 'heels' are soft, and squish down when the baby walks, but, I mean, what?

3. The Twilight Zone!

Okay, we all know of my love for scifi, horror and fantasy. And if you didn't, well now you do. The SciFi Channel (I will not use the new SyFy name, because it is made of stupid) ran a 4th of July marathon of the original series.

What many people forget, or don't realize, is that the Twilight Zone was used by Rod Serling as a vehicle for social/political commentary. He wasn't allowed to talk about the issues he desired to on a straight level, and so disguised them (thinly, if you're paying attention) in horror and scifi.

One of my favorites, and one that they happened to replay was The Obsolete Man - this is a YouTube link, and he seems to have the whole episode, but in three parts.

The idea is this: It's a fascist State, and the man, Mr. Wordsworth, has been declared obsolete by the State, because they've destroyed all books and therefore his profession (librarian) has no function anymore. And neither does he. So he's to be 'liquidated'. And you also get that the State has declared that God doesn't exist, and they've 'liquidated' all the religious teachers, etc. It's a creepy episode, not from any horror point of view, but because you can see it happening, in real life.

This is the closing narration: Narrator: The Chancellor - the late Chancellor - was only partly correct. He was obsolete. But so was the State, the entity he worshiped. Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete. A case to be filed under 'M' for mankind in the Twilight Zone.

Another of my faves that they played was The Howling Man. I can't seem to find a complete version of this on Youtube, sorry. Anyway, a man (Mr. Ellington) finds himself in a creepy monastary, populated by some very strange monks. They are, apparently, keeping a man locked in a dungeon, and the prisoner tries to convince Ellington to free him, that the monks are mad, etc. The head monk, Jerome, explains, finally, saying that the 'man' locked in the dungeon, is no man, but the devil himself. Ellington doesn't believe him, and frees the prisoner.

Who does, in fact, turn out to be the devil. Another great ep, in my opinion. But here's why I mention it, this bit of dialogue:

Jerome: I'm sorry for you, my son. All your life, you will remember this night. And you'll know, Mister Ellington, whom you have turned loose upon the world.

Ellington: I didn't believe you. I saw him and didn't recognize him.

Jerome: That is man's weakness... and Satan's strength.

Again, creepy because it's so true. How many times do we look at evil and not recognize it? Let it loose?

Friday, July 3, 2009

One Year Headcovering Anniversary Post

Genesis 4:9 - Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Your sibling does something and gets hurt/breaks something/or just plain annoys an adult. 'Why weren't you watching him/her?' comes the question from a parent. 'It's not my *job*!' Rinse and repeat often enough, and you eventually understand - it is your job to watch out for your brother or sister.

Christians (whatever denomination you may claim), are a family. More than that, all of humanity is a family, and we have one Father - God. And the answer to that first question, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' or 'It's not my job' - is Yes. Yes, you are. It is your job.

And I fear that this has gotten lost in our society - our selfish, me and only me society has infected our faith, and we forget that we are not in this alone. Too many people have said, 'it's between me and God'. And, to a point, I won't argue that. Ultimately, your faith, your fate, and your soul is between you and God. I can't know, truly, what thoughts go into your actions, any more than you can know mine. However, while it is a personal faith, it is also a *communal* faith. The quote, 'Solo Christian is no Christian' comes to mind, though unfortunately I can't recall who to credit with the quote.

The point is this: We do not act in a vacuum. If a Christian sins, whether they are a public figure or not, whether anyone else even knows about it or not, it will affect others. For those whose lives place them in the public eye, their sins can affect the entire community. I think now of those who claim to be Christian and yet support abortion, or commit adultery. Yes, their repentance and forgiveness can only, truly, be between them and God, because only God knows if they are truly sorry for their sins, and resolved to never commit them again, and committed to healing the wounds that their sin has created in so much as that is ever possible. But their sin, their sin is public. They have harmed the community by their actions, perhaps led others down the wrong path, leading them to sin as well.

Bear with me, there is a point to this. :)

I have read people who claim that they are more modest in a bikini than many are fully clothed. I have read those who say that we (society) have finally! managed to desexualize the body, and so states of dress and/or undress are meaningless. (Of course, they say this while demanding that things like headcover and modest dress be banned.) Certainly, I disagree with this last idea - if we had managed to desexualize the human form, porn and skin mags would have long ceased to exist, because the images would not arouse anyone! As for the first, well. While I would never call you a 'harlot' or anything of the sort (again, because I am not a mind reader), I would quibble that you can consider yourself modest.

Modesty does not just consist of whether or not you are sleeping around - actually, it consists not of that at all. That would be chastity. Modesty is defined as 'reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior.'

Modesty in speech - I should think that's a fairly simple idea. For me, I struggle to refrain from being loud and obnoxious. From cussing, screaming (unless confronted with a spider, in which case screams - or as I like to think of them, ferocious battle cries - are acceptable), gossiping, slandering, etc. In other words, I try to *think* before I open my mouth.

Modesty in behavior - In some ways it flows from the modesty in speech. Don't flip people off in traffic, be kind. Don't be a braggart. Don't over indulge - in anything. Being drunk or high is (obviously) completely unacceptable. Don't place yourself in situations that may cause scandal. For example: There are two people where I work. A married man and an unmarried woman. They have been friends for years, long before he married. They go out alone together almost every day, several times a day. The word around the office is that 'there's *something* going on there'. Whether or not it's true, their actions are giving people the impression that there is something there. 'High and mighty', 'holier than thou' attitudes are also unacceptable. Jesus came for sinners, of which I am just one. And obviously, don't actually commit sins such as adultery.

Modesty in dress - Here's where people seem to get touchy. They seem to have the impression that so long as they don't *mean* to be sexual, they don't *intend* to entice another, as long as they are chaste *in their hearts* that it doesn't matter what they wear. Again - 'it's between me and God'. Fine, even *if* I accepted this, which I don't, *we are our brothers' keeper*. (See, I told you I had a point!)

Matt 5:28 - but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matt: 15:19 - For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

James 1:14 - But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

James 1: 15 - Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

1 Timothy 2:9 - In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with modesty and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

And don't think I'm picking on the guys, that's just the language of the Bible. Reverse the gender, same thing. Women lust after men who dress provocatively, and don't let anyone tell you different. What's my point? We are commanded to be modest not just to protect ourselves, but to help others protect themselves from temptation.

Would you knowingly offer an alcoholic a drink? Would you hand a diabetic a chocolate bar? I should hope not. We know that there are people, men and women, who struggle with chastity. We may not know who they are, but we know that they exist, all around us. Why, as we are responsible for our brothers' welfare, are we willing to tempt them to sin so casually? Without a thought for what we are doing to them?

So, if for no other reason, we must be modest so that we are not a stumbling block to our brothers. It's one of the first jobs that we are given - brothers keeper.

But what's modest?

For myself, I find that these guidelines make sense, and I am striving to meet them, though I fall short at times.

(Taken from Little Flowers Family Apostolate)

"A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper." - The Cardinal Vicar of Pope Pius XI

Mary-like Standards

1. Looking to Mary as our guide and model, her dresses in all approved apparitions fully cover her from head to wrists to feet. Should we accept any less for ourselves? Ask yourself - have you ever seen the Blessed Mother portrayed in anything less than this? Have you ever seen her in any of her approved apparitions with even her head uncovered? Could you imagine her in any of the fashions of today even seemingly simple loose fitting PANTS? We should therefore follow her example and not follow any of the worldly fashions.

2. Mary-like dresses have sleeves that extend at least to the elbows, which excludes sleeveless dresses, tops, short sleeves or cap sleeves. (Note: Quarter length sleeves are tolerated, with Ecclesiastical Approval, for the time being until Christian womanhood again turns to Mary as the model for modesty in dress.)

3. Skirts and dresses, following the direction of Blessed Padre Pio, should extend at least 8" (eight inches) below the knee. This would exclude anything shorter than that, such as mini or micro skirts. They are also to be full enough to conceal the figure of the wearer and not reveal. Just because it is a dress, does not mean that it is modest. If the dress is to narrow or has a dropped waist, or is designed in such a way as to emphasize unduly parts of the body, they would be considered immodest and not appropriate for wear. Flesh colored fabrics, giving the example from a distance of 'flesh' are improper at all times.

4. Dresses should fully cover the chest, back, shoulders and the neckline should not exceed two inches below the pit of the throat, nape of the neck or sides. They should not admit as modest transparent fabrics, laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc unless sufficient backing is added. They may be used as trimmings. This would also eliminate tight sweaters and blouses or other shirts.

5. This list would also exclude pants, slacks, culottes, jeans, shorts and such, as they have been proven to be men's attire, and harmful for women and society at large, and against God's command in Deut. 22:5. Most unbecoming is also sloppy-looking clothing such as jogging pants and oversized t-shirts and such, for both women and men.

6. Swimwear for women must at all costs be modest. The soul of another could be at stake! Due to the impure society in which we live, all public pools should not be used at all. Prefer instead to have your own swimming pool or swim at another Catholic family's pool. Even in the these conditions, modesty must be kept in check. Unfortunately, women will not find any appropriate swimwear in any store in any Western country. Some substitutes are biking shorts over which a skirt is placed extending to knee level. A loose top is added. Otherwise, one could simply wear a dark t-shirt and long shorts as a substitute. One could also do as I have personally done, simply discontinue swimming as a penance for the immodesty of others. (Note: not me. I swim, and have no intent to give it up. I simply wear the most modest bathing suit I can find, and I don't swim in mixed company. This is as quoted from the website)

7. For Men: Loose fitting, long pants or sufficiently long shorts that come at least to the knee. Long sleeves and pants for Church attire. This excludes all tight clothing, especially immodest swimwear, tight exercise clothing, or topless dressing in public.

SUMMARY: Our children need to be taught from the youngest age the importance of proper attire that is modest, that is becoming and feminine for women. These guidelines are designed to instill a sense of modesty in both boys and girls, and restore a sense of femininity in girls and women. Be sure to always sew or purchase clothing that matches these guidelines and you will not be an occasion of sin or source of embarrassment to yourself or others. Adapted from The Mary-like Crusade by Fr. Kunkel (1944-1969)


Now, I personally lean towards 'Muslim' styles of clothing. I believe that they are the simplest, most convenient way to make certain that all that should be covered, is covered. However, where I can achieve a similar level of modesty with modern clothing, I feel free to do so. Also, I do still wear pants, I just wear very loose pants. And, of course, I believe that a head cover is part and parcel of modest clothing. But this post has probably gotten long enough. :)

So, on the anniversary of the first day I put on a snood, these are my thoughts. They wound up being less about headcovering, per se, than modesty in general. But when I started trying to think of what I had to say - this is what came. Actually, the line 'am I my brothers' keeper' is *exactly* what popped into my head and wouldn't go away.

I hope that they made some semblance of sense, and, of course, any mistakes and misunderstandings are my own.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The State of the Amber Address

We're gonna do this nice and simple. :)

1. I'm thinking about going back to school. I've never, actually, graduated college, because I kept screwing around, changing what I wanted to do. My work will actually pay for classes, because the owner feels that better educated employees are better employees. I hadn't taken advantage of this before, because it used to be that they would only pay for classes that led to a business degree, and I knew I definitely didn't want to be a business person. And my mother wants to apply for a grant that would cover the books...

2. Related to 1, my mother wants me to be a High School English teacher. She also wants me to quit my job so I can go to school full time, but that's not happening. I have *always* had a job. I've worked since I was 14. Also, I suspect that this specificity has something to do with the fact that my Opa was a HS English teacher.

3. Religious Ed - I'm feeling...let's go with 'uncomfortable' with this idea, more and more. As someone who *just* finished RCIA, I'm not feeling terribly qualified - surely there are others who are better grounded in the faith? The perhaps inappropriateness of me, as a woman, teaching the faith has come up, and while I'm not entirely sold on it, it is a consideration. I do *not* like the Religious Ed. Director. Let's be honest, if I had kids, and she was the teacher? I would have a *problem* with that, and would pull my kids out. And I'm feeling that, while I *want* to teach, on the one hand, so I can try and make certain the children are being taught correct information, on the other, I'm beginning to think that I shouldn't lend my unspoken support by participation to an activity that I have issues with. Also, there are a few things that, in our initial 'meeting' with her, were left out. Like the classes throughout the year that teachers are required to attend, and the cost thereof. It's not prohibitive, I'm just unhappy that she never even mentioned it. Of course the 'meeting' was not really one, except in theory. And the classes that I'd have to attend? If I go back to school, they would become impossible. And I have to decide, which is more important? And I'm leaning towards my schooling. All of these things keep adding up, and it makes me unhappy, because I wanted to teach, but I'm beginning to think that, at least in this setting, at this time, it's not going to happen.

4. I haven't been sleeping well - I have *very* vivid, half-awake nightmares. I actually came totally awake trying to beat off the little person that was attacking me. The 'little shadow person' was actually the recumbent bike at the end of my bed, and I was whipping it with my sheet. Piglet was staring at me from the pillows at the top of the bed, 'wtf?' clearly expressed in little doggy eyes...

5. I stayed up *way* too late last night reading Dresden Files. Jim Butcher is a dangerous, dangerous man, and should never be allowed to stop writting.

6. I am thinking about wearing my jilbab out on Sunday.

7. My foot continues to hurt. I'm considering taking a couple days off from exercising to see if that helps.

8. 2009 Book List checkup - 42 books. 8 books behind schedule.
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