Category: Family

Monday

marriageSign the Covenant . . . Or Not . . . Your Call

Kansas is considering a covenant marriage bill. I don’t know much about the Kansas bill, but a covenant marriage is a marriage that can be dissolved only for good cause. It’s more or less a return to the days before California instituted the first “no-fault” divorce law.

But only if a couple chooses a covenant marriage. If the couple wants an ordinary (no-fault divorce) marriage license, it’s available, too. The couple has a choice.

It seems fair, and it’s a nice compromise between the sexual libertines (my term for them) and religious zealots (their term for me). But boy, does it make the permissive set mad. Check out the comments in the link above. They’re filled with rancor at religion and morality. I’m willing to be these people are “pro-choice” when it comes to the death of a fetus and homosexuals getting married, but when it comes to heterosexual adults consenting to a marital contract? Hoodoggy! No way.

It’s bizarre.

I would, however, make a couple of tweaks to the covenant marriage bills. First, get rid of the required marital counseling. That’s just obnoxious. Second, I would (like Kansas) require the couple to sign an affidavit that they know what they’re doing, but I’d add a clause that they’re signing it of their own free will and not under duress (including duress resulting from an out-of-wedlock pregnancy). Third, I wouldn’t charge additional fees for a covenant marriage license, but I would greatly increase the court filing fees for dissolving a covenant marriage. The court expenses of handling a “for-cause” divorce versus a “no-fault” divorce are significant, especially if the law divvies up marital property based on contributory fault. I would probably triple the filing fee and, … Read the rest

The Return Eudemon

North to Alaska

I’m not a well-traveled man. I’ve never been to any continent besides North America, and when I turned 42, I hadn’t even traveled to the western United States (a trip to Minneapolis for a Chesterton Conference and across the bridge in Memphis to say “I’ve crossed the Mississippi” were my western limits). But in the past twelve months, I have traveled to South Dakota, Wyoming, California, and now Alaska.

I just returned from a great trip to Seward’s Folly. My parents took 28 people–themselves, their four sons, four daughters in-law, and eighteen grandchildren–on an Alaskan cruise (Anchorage to Vancouver) to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Most of us went up two days early so we could see Anchorage. For a city of nearly 300,000, it’s not much of a town (because it’s so spread out, it has the density of a Michigan town of about 25,000–no exaggeration), but odd in its complexion: 25% African-American, 50% Caucasian, 25% indigenous and oriental–according to the Alaskan ladies I met on a train ride (different stats from Wikipedia, but my observations correlate with the informal demographics of my train mates). Our first Alaskan tour guide said Anchorage has no crime and feels like the 1950s. It didn’t feel like the 1950s to me, and I saw a slew of unsavory-looking people. On the morning we left Anchorage, the city’s newspaper ran a story about the increasing problem of homeless people on the streets–3,000 and rising. The ladies on the train also scoffed at the notion that Anchorage doesn’t have crime. They said that might have been true ten years ago, but things are getting rougher and rougher (Wikipedia supports their view).

But other than that, I liked Anchorage. The climate is mild due to the mellowing effects … Read the rest

Tuesday Miscellany

streetsign.jpgA TDE reader sent this link to me last week. I meant to get to it sooner, but didn’t. Interesting stuff at Christian Science Monitor: The Coming Evangelical Collapse.

We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the “Protestant” 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Catholics would lose a good ally in the culture wars, yes, but might Catholicism pick at the remains?

Two of the beneficiaries will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. Evangelicals have been entering these churches in recent decades and that trend will continue, with more efforts aimed at the “conversion” of Evangelicals to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

Boy, that’d be a switch: more evangelicals becoming Catholic than Catholics becoming evangelicals. There are many former-evangelical Catholics, of course, but their numbers seem dwarfed next to former-Catholic evangelicals. Ten percent of American adults are former Catholics, and most of those folks aren’t druids and atheists.
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Heck, others might also benefit from the evangelical fall-out: Psychics make a fortune during uncertain economic times. Hitler did well in uncertain economic times, too, as did … Read the rest

The Post-Christian Age?

streetsign.jpgHave we really entered the Post-Christian Age . . . or do few Christians recognize Ash Wednesday that, for all practical purposes, it doesn’t exist anymore, except as a weird-looking symbol on some people’s foreheads?

I have five children that are old enough to participate in organized activities. Four of them had practices scheduled last night, a few had multiple events. My older children had only one Mass time available, and the oldest missed nearly half of it: indoor tennis practice. After an hour of running kids all over the place and adding to my fasting-induced irritable disposition (I know, I know; spare me the lecture), I crashed at 7:00 and decided I’d wake up when society had regained a semblance of Christian tradition . . . or 4:00 a.m., whichever came first.
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I like that guy: Archbishop Chaput warned that U.S. Catholics “need to act on their faith and be on guard against ‘a spirit of adulation bordering on servility’ that exists towards the Obama administration.”

Indeed, a spirit of willing thralldom. Does anybody really understand anymore how increased government necessarily decreases freedom, that every dollar spent by government is one less dollar we have the freedom to spend, that government power is generally a one-way ratchet? For a long time, these truths were, I think, sinking into the American people. I think they helped propel the 1994 conservative ascension and Contract with America. But now, just fourteen years after that ascension and ten years after Republicans broke the Contract with America, everyone seems to have forgotten it.

After 9/11, we looked to the federal government to protect us from terrorist attacks. Now we want it to protect us from everything else. It’s almost as though it’s part of our collective mental framework now.
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Awfully … Read the rest

Tuesday Miscellany

Allen Barra published a piece about GKC in the Wall Street Journal last week. When I edited Gilbert Magazine, Barra would occasionally write to me and even sent me an autographed copy of one of his books. Needless to say, this doesn’t mean I know the man by any stretch, but based on that limited correspondence, free book (especially!), and things I’ve read by him, I’d say he’s a real decent guy.

And it’s a real decent piece, which includes a new caricature of the great man (on your left). Excerpt:

For the last three decades of his life, Chesterton waged public duels with opponents of religion and democracy, such intellectual heavyweights as Bertrand Russell, H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. In comparison our own day’s best-known atheists, Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher, hardly weigh in. Chesterton’s public debates were invariably amicable; after all, he reasoned, “If there were no God, there would be no atheists.” Some of GKC’s most fervent opponents on ideological grounds remained his friends for life; Shaw, for instance, called Chesterton’s biography of him “the best work of literary art I’ve yet provoked.”

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New Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison pictures!

“Among the souvenirs most requested by museum visitors are photos of Cash during his now-legendary performance for inmates. Until recently, Brown said, all he could offer were the photos included with a CD of the concert. But thanks to his fluke encounter with a former newspaper reporter last year, the museum now sells candid photos of Cash taken during that 1968 visit, as well as an 18-by-24-inch print of the singer standing in front of the prison’s east gate.”

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Making calls from the FDR playbook: Make a crisis sound like a war, and the American people might give you a visa to … Read the rest

Brews You Can Use

One of the best things about growing older: No winter blues. I’ll miss the holidays, but I’m thoroughly ready to settle back to normalcy and to take a long winter nap. A handful of these Otters might be perfect. “The new special release is a smooth brown ale, with a touch of raspberry. Rich and toasty with a warming body and light hops, this will be a malty and perfectly fruited beer- very appealing and comforting. Just right for wintertime.”
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I’m going to Alaska next Summer (courtesy of my parents). I’ll look for some of this: Alaskan Brewing Co. announced that it will expand the limited release of its award-winning Alaskan Barley Wine to all ten western states where Alaskan beer is distributed. Alaskan Barley Wine has been produced in limited edition batches each year since its introduction at the Great Alaska Beer and Barley Wine Festival in 2003.
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But I won’t have to wait until next summer to get some unique beers: Without a doubt, winter is in full effect. On the upside, however, Michigan brewers are rolling out their fabulous winter beers.

The best part of the article is this parenthetical reference: “Dragonmead — a non-smoking bar — offers Excalibur barley wine . . . “. A “non-smoking bar.” I love seeing that. I wish more bars went smokeless. I’m not an anti-smoking zealot, not at all, but if the free market were to produce more smokeless bars, maybe the anti-smoking fascists wouldn’t feel compelled to outlaw smoking in all bars. Give people a choice.
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Buy that man a beer (or six or more)! A TDE reader logged onto Amazon through this site and bought one of these: Sony Bravia XBR KDL-46XBR6 46-Inch 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV. It resulted in a most-righteous kickback, hands-down the … Read the rest

Something for the Eve of Christmas Eve

Advent is a penitential season. It doesn’t get nearly the respect Lent does in this regard, but I try to do something. This year, I resolved to read all the daily entries in Francis Fernandez’ meditation series, In Conversation with God.

It didn’t go well. The book is great, but I’m not. Between sickness and a blitz at the office, I fell five days behind last week. On Saturday, I started reading Tuesday’s entries and caught up by Sunday evening. It has a lot of great stuff. I figured, “Maybe others have struggled this Christmas, too. Maybe a ‘best of’ Frankie F.’ would help get them ready for Our Savior’s birth.” So as I read last weekend, I typed in a few good passages as I came across them:

“Once again we must want a new conversion–that turning towards God just before Christmas.”

“When you love someone, you want to know all about his life and character, so as to become like him. That is why we have to meditate on the life of Jesus, from his birth in a stable right up to his death and resurrection.”

“It was the simplicity of [the shepherds] that would enable them to see the Child who had been announced to them. It enables them to surrender themselves to Him and adore Him. . . . Without humility and purity of heart it is impossible to recognize him, although he may be very close.”

The “Church invites us to pray: Almighty and merciful God, grant that the anxieties of this life may not impede us as we hasten to meet your Son.” (Quoting the Collect of the Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent.)

“Watch. . . [W]e men tend towards drowsiness and comfort-seeking. We cannot allow our hearts to become … Read the rest

Wednesday Miscellany

streetsign.jpgSmile: You’re not an island, and sin is not isolate. What you do makes a difference, whether you know it or not. Science is beginning to get it: happiness is contagious.

“We found that social networks have clusters of happy and unhappy people within them that reach out to three degrees of separation. A person’s happiness is related to the happiness of their friends, their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends—that is, to people well beyond their social horizon. We found that happy people tend to be located in the center of their social networks and to be located in large clusters of other happy people. And we found that each additional happy friend increases a person’s probability of being happy by about 9%.”

(Perhaps the most eudemon-like item I’ve ever posted.)
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Some good late night humor out there lately:

“You folks seem like you’re in the holiday spirit … did you just come from a Walmart stampede?” Letterman.

“McDonald’s is reporting that despite the bad economy, their domestic sales were up last month. Which just goes to show you a great thing about our country – you’re never too poor to get fat.” O’Brien.

“Paris Hilton is lobbying to play Tinkerbell in a new movie version of Peter Pan. In the Paris Hilton version, Tinkerbell would spread pixie dust as well as a troublesome rash.” O’Brien.
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Only in Michigan, but it didn’t occur in that outpost we call the “UP.” This happened in the middle of the state:

[A] deer crashed through a window and into [a fourth grade] classroom.

The six-point buck sent chairs, desks, books and shards of glass flying. A boy suffered a small cut to his head, but there were no serious injuries. . . .

[The principal] says the

Read the rest