Bloggerhood Etc. 7/8/13

Silhouette on a hilltop

Photo: Pixabay

Here are my favorite posts from last week, in no particular order.

Best Guest Post. “I Won’t Die on that Mountain: A Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community” by Natalie Trust at The Registered Runaway.

Most Insightful. “The ‘Online’ vs. ‘Real Life’ Myth” by Bethany Suckrow on She Writes & Rights.

Best Open Letter. “An Open Letter to the Worst Wax Museum in America” by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete on Vice.

Best Essay. “There Are Things of Which I May Not Speak” by Anne Helen Petersen on The Toast.

Best Admission by an Atheist. “It’s Time to Admit: Pope Francis is Kind of Awesome” by Stephen Marche in Esquire.

Best Epiphany. “Exalting the moment of conversion over the way of conversion {and why BOTH are needed}” by Elizabeth Esther.

Funniest Post. “Activision Reports Sluggish Sales For Sousaphone Hero in The Onion.

And a special bonus for today . . .

Most Bewildering Google Doodle. “Roswell” at Google.com. I couldn’t figure it out without help.

Check out the comments for other solutions.

Halfway to Christmas

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Jacopo Pontormo, The Nativity of St. John the Baptist (1526)

A post by Fr. Scott Hurd on the approximate midpoint between Christmases, the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist celebrated yesterday in churches around the world.

Today we celebrate the birthday of St. John the Baptist. We don’t decorate trees, send cards, or exchange presents as we do on Christmas. But I don’t think that John the Baptist minds that his birthday is celebrated with less fanfare than that of our Lord. You’ll recall that he once said about Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease” . . .

John the Baptist knew that his mission was to prepare the way for Jesus. He lived his life, not to promote himself, but to promote the Lord. In this, John the Baptist is an important witness for us and challenges our society’s preoccupation with self-promotion. He reminds us that Christians shouldn’t aspire to be a celebrity, but should strive to be a servant. We should live lives that shout not “Look at me!” but “Look to Jesus.”

With Christmas still six months away, it may seem strange that the Church calendar reminds us now of its approach, but I’m glad for it. The decorations, sales, and incessant commercialization of this day is still months away, and maybe now is a good time to reflect upon its original meaning. I wrote about this last year on December 23, as the frantic “Holiday Season” was nearing its thankful close.

Emmanuel: God with us. This is the meaning of Christmas. In a cave—which is what the “stable” in Bethlehem really was—born to a poor teenaged girl: a powerless child of a powerless mother in the shadow of the most powerful empire the world had ever known.

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Bloggerhood Etc. 6/17/13

Caleb holds "I <3 you to pieces" sign

“Precious Caleb” (Photo: Alicia M. Smith)

I noticed a theme in many of the posts I read week, so I’ve tweaked the usual format a bit. Here are my seven favorite questions from last week in the Blogosphere.

Why is the Pope so Popular? Chris Nye speculates on Pope Francis’ popularity among evangelicals in Relevant.

Are our challenges . . . gifts? Alicia M. Smith talks about her son’s apraxia of speech in a Q and A format on Inspirational Christian Blogs.

How Did I Get Here? Former Ph.D. student and ordained Presbyterian minister Mihee Kim-Kort describes her other vocation—motherhood—on A Deeper Story.

Did We Treat Her Right? Robert Martin remembers his family’s beloved tortoise-shell cat Moppet at Abnormal Anabaptist.

“Honey, do you smoke cigarettes?” A strange question opens a profound discussion on faith in one of Natalie Trust’s latest, and always beautiful, blog posts.

“What are the top ten moments of your apraxia journey?” Speaking of Apraxia author Leslie Lindsay answers this question in last week’s “Apraxia Monday” post (and she added some more milestones today).

And a video reply to the last question . . .

“Why is the U.S.- Canadian border so much more crooked (and weirder) than it looks on a map?” Part Two of “Bizarre Borders” by C.G.P. Grey on his YouTube channel.

Bloggerhood Etc. 5/27/13

The snow-covered mountains and punctual trains of Montreux, Switzerland, summon childhood train sets, and the daydreams that accompanied them.

Photo: Harold Cunningham/Getty

Last week, I departed from my normal best-of format to highlight a cross section of Apraxia Awareness Day posts. This week I return to my usual format, but with a special expanded link-o-rama. There was just too much good stuff to leave anything out, so here goes . . .

Best Travel Essay—International. “How Learning a Foreign Language Reignited My Imagination” by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic. Coates is perhaps my favorite essayist currently writing. When I read his work, I alternate between being inspired to write better myself, and contemplating quitting because I can’t ever imaging writing this well.

Best Travel Essay—Regional. “Visitors take the bait on Bandon crab dock” by Melissa Hart in the Eugene Register Guard. Unlike Coates, Melissa Hart always inspires me to write better. Not because her work isn’t just as wonderful in its own way, but because she’s a personal friend and a great teacher.

Best Letter to My Former Parish. “Dear Parents with Young Children in Church” by Jamie Bruesehoff on I am totally *that* mom. It’s a long story (which appears in my book with names change to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent), but this is exactly what a former parish of ours needed to hear.

Best Parenting Essay. “and to dust you shall return” by Nish Weiseth on her blog. Short and stunning. Wow!

Best Mission Statement. “Pursuing the Truth in Love” by Matt Malone SJ in America. A Catholic statement for a Catholic magazine.

Best Reminder of What We All Need to Say From Time to Time. “Forgive Me” by Rachel Held Evans on her blog. Especially on the Internet, we all need to apologize from time to time. I know I do.

Ring over The Capitol

Image: Ron Miller

Most Mind-Blowing. “If Earth Had a Ring Like Saturn” by Ron Miller on io9.
Awe inspiring pictures like the one above.

Best Reply to an Faux Controversy. “Yes, Pope Francis said ‘All are redeemed.’ Is that news?” by Terry Mattingly on GetReligion. Someone needs to calm “The Huff and Puff Post” down every so often, or at least counter their SCREAMING HEADLINES!

Best Defense of Good Writing. “The Lost Symbol and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown’s 20 worst sentences” by Tom Chivers in The Telegraph. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.

Favorite Virtual Exhibit. “Dangerous Decibels” at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). Educational and fun. Now I want to go to OMSI again.

And the grand finale . . .

LEGO X Wing

Photo: LEGO

The Largest (and Quite Possibly the Coolest) Thing Ever Built With Lego. “This 23-Ton, 5.3-Million-Brick X-Wing Is the Biggest Lego Model Ever.” Story by Angela Wattercutter in Wired. So geeking out right now!

Mandatum Makes it Mandatory

Foot washing at last supper

Duccio di Buoninsegna The Washing of Feet (1308 – 11)

I hate to begin the Triduum—the three days from Holy Thursday to Easter tracing the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ—with a criticism, but this is one of those predictable times of the year when the self-appointed “liturgy police” miss the point. For example . . .

First, let it be remembered that the foot-washing thing during Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Last Supper is an OPTION.  Many problems (and violations of law and good taste and common sense) could be avoided by choosing NOT to do it.  All manner of absurdities are inflicted on God’s people because of this option.

Yes, Father Z, it is an option, but it is an option that should be exercised in the correct way. To suggest, because of some abuses, that it should be moved to the Chrism Mass or dropped altogether seems to miss the point of Christ’s “mandatum” or mandate from which the common name Maundy Thursday derives.

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. —John 13:34, NAB

Jesus has just washed his disciples feet, showing them in a dramatic fashion the self-denying love he wishes the disciples to show one another as well.

And though the foot-washing itself is not the commandment, it is an expression of that commandment and thus an option that should be exercised by the celebrant at the Holy Thursday Mass.

To question its inclusion is to question Christ, who washed his disciples feet at the Last Supper.

To question the inclusion of women is to question our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who included two women among the twelve juvenile prisoners whose feet he washed today at a private Holy Thursday Mass.

Yes, Father Z, you are correct in saying we should pay very close attention to what the prayer says.

But St. Paul was also correct when he wrote that “the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

So to you and to Dr. Peters and to the many others “gnat strainers” who think they’re more Catholic than the Pope and more Christian than Christ, I say to try and be a little less like Peter when he refuses his Lord’s request saying “You will never wash my feet,” and more like Peter’s successor who takes his Lord’s message to heart in humbling himself before the least among us knowing that they are Christ.

For as Christ told Peter “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”

I pray that those who still don’t get it will eventually understand.

(Hat tip to Millennial Journal)