Because I just learned how to embed tweets…

23 Jul

So this is what I’m up to these days.

 

 
Actually, I just finished a few moments ago. Now it’s time to sit back and take in the awesomeness that is Dr. Hahn, Dr. Brant Pitre, Mike Aquilina, Dr. John Bergsma, Matt Leonard… The biggest dilemma will be… how does one narrow down things when it comes to choosing workshops?

More updates to come. I promise.

After these messages…

18 Jul

I promise I’m coming back.  Honestly.  I just finished a wonderful week at Franciscan University for a conference, I’m enjoying a rare weekend home with almost the entire family, and I’m about to head back to Franciscan to be on the team of presenters for another conference.

This weekend also sees the close of Father Kevin’s Indiegogo campaign.  As the campaign wraps up, we’re $2,000 short of our goal. I’m thrilled we’ve come so far, especially in the past week.  But I don’t want to give Indiegogo the 9% we have to give them if we don’t make our goal, so please consider heading over to Father’s page and possibly giving $10 towards his album.

As a special perk, for every $10 given, you receive an entry into a raffle to receive the beautiful handwritten icon of the Madonna of the Rosary by Britta Prinzivalli.  A handwritten icon … we’re not talking about a nice copy of an icon, like you’d pick up at your local religious bookstore.  We’re talking a handwritten icon.  It’s valued at $500, and you have a chance to win it for a $10 donation to Father.  Spread the word!  (you can see the icon here and you can find out more about Britta here.)

Okay, over and out.  I promise I’ll be back soon.

Still here – just blogging over there-

25 Jun

This blog generally gets neglected for one of two reasons: 1) there’s nothing going on to blog about or 2) there’s so much going on I don’t have time to blog.

My absence is due to the latter this time… between Bourbon Trailing, party hosting, wedding attending, and hanging out with my nieces, it’s been a busy month.

Posts to come.  Until then, check out my interview with Father Kevin McGoldrick, who is in the middle of recording his first album.  (Have you seen his Indiegogo campaign yet?  Please consider helping him out!)

If you’re wondering why a Catholic priest is recording an album, read on:

 

WHY RECORD AN ALBUM: MUSIC, BEAUTY, & LANGUAGE OF HUMANITY

Father Kevin has been busy in the studio all week, but before he headed in, I had the chance to sit down with him and figure out just why he’s doing this.

Team KMcG: Okay, Father. So the first thing that might come to people’s minds is — why? Why are you taking time out of your summer to record your own album?

Father Kevin: So, for years I’ve been playing and writing … read on here.

 

Help a great guy & get good music.

16 Jun

My grandfather used to observe that even a blind pig stumbles upon an acorn every once and awhile.  That’s come to my mind before when a post on this blog has gone viral.  The readership on this blog is not extraordinarily large, which I don’t mind, but every once and awhile a post will get linked or reposted and I’ll see my stats soar for the day.  It’s not usually a post I think will go viral – it just happens. The blind pig stumbling upon an acorn.

If there was ever a post that I wanted to go viral, it would be this one.

I’ve been extraordinarily blessed by God through the people whom He has put in my life.  Let’s just say that this blind pig has stumbled upon some acorns, to continue our theme, and I know for a fact that those acorns have been placed there by God.  He has particularly placed several great priests in my life.  I think it is so that I can pray for them, for their perseverance, strength, and protection, and so my life can be touched by the extraordinary amounts of grace that come from a holy friendship.  One dear friend in particular always seems to email me to tell me he prayed for me or offered Mass for me right when I need to hear that the most.

I’m used to helping priests in various ways — teach RCIA here, proof an article there, give a homily tip, say a prayer, speak words of encouragement.  I’ve never helped a priest with a crowd-funding campaign so that he can record his first album…

Until now.

I’m so thankful that God has brought Father Kevin McGoldrick to Nashville.  He’s is a beautiful homilist, a humble worker for the Lord, and a holy priest. He’s one of those people you just like to be around — the kind of friend that isn’t the showy life of the party but makes every party more fun just by his presence.

And he’s a talented singer-songwriter.

What I love about Father’s music is that it is beautifully authentic — he doesn’t necessary sing about Jesus all the time, but you can tell his music is the fruit of the Christian life.  He’s singing about life — whether it’s coffee, Nashville, or men and women … it’s true and beautiful and good.   His genre is hard to classify, which I also like.  Around here, we call it singer-songwriter, but it’s hard outside of Nashville to really explain that.  His inspiration comes all over the map, and as a result, his songs aren’t cookie-cutter or expected.

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His campaign to fund his first album launched on Saturday, and I’d like to invite you to be a part of it.

Like with other crowd-funding efforts, there are fun things in store for those of you who are able to help Father.  If anything, give ten bucks and get his music when this is all finished.  You’ll want his music — so you might as well give the $10 to him instead of waiting and giving it to iTunes, right?

If you can’t give financially at this time, send up a few prayers for Father and for this effort.  As my friend Jimmy Mitchell always says, it’s time to take back the culture – and we’ll do it one song at a time, if we have to.

It’s exciting to be a small part of this little adventure. I’ll keep you all posted… and please spread the word.  35 days to fund an album for one of the coolest priests I’ll ever meet.  Ready, set, go!

 

True Love Conquers All

5 Jun

Or, “My thoughts on a movie I haven’t seen”

Circa the early 80s, if you walked into the Watson household early in the morning, you likely found me in one place: the brown la-z-boy rocking chair in the corner of the family room, eating a pudding pop, watching either the Disney Valentine Special (featuring Pluto and the classic Johnnie Fedora) or Sleeping Beauty.

Sleeping Beauty.  Does it get any better?

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It really doesn’t.  Just artistically, it is a movie that we will never see the likes of ever again. I love everything about it- from the trumpets and the incredible opening scene with the kingdom coming to see their new princess, to the musical score, to the most dashing Prince ever to grace a Disney movie, to a great drinking song and a drunk minstrel, to the greatest villain Disney has ever created.

The greatest villain.  Why?  Because she is evil.

She is not a stepmother who is annoyed by or jealous of her stepdaughter.  She is not a rich woman who likes to wear fur coats, a pirate out for revenge, or a jealous town brute who wants to marry the town bookworm.

She is pure evil.

She is the exact opposite of Goodness, literally the “evil-doer” (male facere).  In the movie, she refers to herself as “The Mistress of All Evil.”

Needless to say, when I saw the first trailer for the movie Maleficent, I was angry.  Not only was Disney going to re-write their greatest story, they were going to strip it of its Christian allegory.

No longer did we have evil. We had a misunderstood female.

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I was expressing my disgust over the movie on Friday (again, with all honestly, I haven’t seen the movie and I probably never will), and one of my friends asked me why I was so mad.  I told him that we didn’t need a back story to try to explain why Maleficent was evil.  She was evil.  There are good guys and bad guys in fairy tales.  And she is the bad guy.  She is the devil.

He decided to play devil’s advocate.  “Joan, not even the Devil was always bad.”

True enough.  Okay, fine.  So we have an explanation in Scripture of the battle in heaven and the fall of the angels. But why? To justify it or explain it away?  No – not so that we have empathy for the Devil, but to warn us not to commit the oldest sin in the Book,  and so that we will be aware of the battle for our souls.

One of my friends saw the movie and loved it.  So this blog post is not to criticize her or her views.  I’m sure there are some great things about the film, and I’m sure Angelina Jolie is superb.  My friend was pleased that the movie was not a glorification of evil, and she saw it as a movie about redemption.

But from what I can tell, the movie only redeems Maleficent (which I argue should never really be done) by transferring the evil to someone else…

Bilge Ebiri points out, “[Stromberg and Woolverton are] a bit too enamored of their revisionism, and they don’t quite know what to do with the rest of the tale. …  In robbing Maleficent of her cruelty, the film doesn’t really reject the notion of evil — it merely transfers it to King Stefan.”

Gone are the Christian allegories that Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was laden with, and in their place we have a testament against patriarchy.  Sigh.  How banal.  Isn’t that passé yet?

Disney’s original Sleeping Beauty is Catholic — after all, it is the 14th century, as Philip reminds us.  Gothic architecture, standards, the monarchy.  The artistic inspiration for the movie was a 15th century Book of Hours — yes, a prayer book.

You even have a fairy practically quoting St. Paul.  As Philip heads out to destroy the powers of evil, Flora tells him to “arm thyself” with the shield of virtue and mighty sword of truth, “for these weapons of righteousness will triumph over evil!”  (Ephesians 6, anyone?)  And even when Maleficent takes away Philip’s shield of virtue, however you want to interpret that, he is still equipped with truth and love, so that after he battles through thorns (the Fall? the Passion?) he then defeats Maleficent and all the powers of hell.

Yes, she says that.  All the powers of hell.  Need to re-watch it?

“Sword of truth, fly swift and sure!  That evil die and good endure!”

That’s the story of Sleeping Beauty.  That there is good and evil in this world, and in the end, good wins.  As G.K. Chesterton famously said, “Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

Maleficent-sleeping-beauty-dragon

In the end, “true love conquers all.” That’s not a cliche, no matter how many spoofs we make about it.

It’s the Cross.

It’s the love of the three good fairies, who live as mortals for 16 years to protect Aurora and who risk going to the “forbidden mountain” to get Prince Philip.  “We can’t go there!”  “We must!”  It’s the love of King Stefan and his queen, who give up their daughter to protect her.  It’s the love of Prince Philip, who risks his life to save the princess.

That all disappears if we re-write the story to redeem the Devil.

Perhaps you think I’m crazy for spending my evening writing a blog post about a cartoon and an Angelina Jolie film I’ve never seen.  Maybe you didn’t even get this far in the post, thinking to yourself, “The lady doth protest too much.”

But it’s not just about the greatest Disney movie ever made.  It’s a manifestation of a cultural tendency to justify sin and explain away evil.  When I was little I used to think I could pray for Satan’s conversion and everything would be better.  Guess what?  That doesn’t work.  And every day of our life we face a choice: God or the devil.  It’s time to admit he exists and celebrate that he’s been defeated.

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How’d they find me?

27 May

WordPress has a nice statistic page to tell you how many people visit your blog and how they get here.  It’s pretty entertaining to see the things people google and somehow find you.  Some of them just left me scratching my head. Not that they were strange things to google, but why did they lead to my blog? Things like:

  • how to muffle sound of water dripping in bucket   
  • can you paint a bathtub
  • birthday reply convey my regard to elders and love to youngers

Okay, so that last one did leave me wondering.

There seems to be a high demand for Stig-related desserts.  I hope I was able to help.

  • stig helmet car
  • how much for a stig cake
  • how to make a stig cake
  • the stig birthday cakes
  • the stig cake pictures
  • the stig cake ideas
  • stig helmet cake

There were no super crazy ones this time around, but some of them did make me laugh.  Here are some of my favorites:

why being chaste isn’t crazy  Preach it, sista.

how to make an ordinary ice cream?   Is there such a thing? Ice cream is divine.

ganswein driving   Where is he going?
“georg gänswein” fotos     Glad I could help!
“father beautiful” Georg      He is, isn’t he?

I have spinster carved on my bones    Oh dear. I hope I don’t.

i wonder whether carpisa real leather   I heart carpisa.

this type of art was a conglomeration of seemingly random objects, connecting art with ordinary life?     I’m glad that’s a question. Because I’m properly confused.

why cant you drink acidic drinks with chocovine with     Yes, why can’t you with

where is father john paul have not seenhim at ewtn for awhile   Apparently he’s hiding from you.

losing ordinary restaurants    Why did you lose them?

pinewood social giftcard   If they double-book your bowling alley, they’ll give you one. Try it.

duck donuts    A total of 5 people found my blog this way.  Which means five people are fat and happy right now.

joan in ordinary time brunch nashville   This made me happy. 

papal groupies   Why yes I am.

who can afford.a tom.ford apparel   I don’t know, but he can ask me out on a date sometime, whomever he is.

san damiano mass times  This showed up in multiple different ways. Maybe I should post them to help out.

anna maria taigi incorrupt   This will make my dad smile.

hallmark movies involving restaurants   I do love Hallmark movies.  And restaurants.

 

And my personal favorite….

animatronic baby jesus  

 

 

 

A Glorious Shot in the Arm

26 May

What a weekend.

I just was privileged to experience the annual Glory Conference, a gathering of college students and young adults here in Nashville, TN to study and celebrate the good, the true, and the beautiful.

I blogged about it briefly here, and you can find a link to my talk there, too.

Some sights of the weekend:

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The calm before my talk.
It was the perfect location for a conference about beauty — a restored historical building and a beautiful 19th century church

IMG_8218 yay for new friends!

 

A super-duper evangelization rosary walk after lunchBrother John led a “super-duper evangelization rosary walk” after lunch on Saturday.
He said it was the second annual one, which made us laugh — I love how little traditions start like that.

IMG_8245A great thing about the conference was the room the schedule allowed for friendship and fraternity.   My friend Mike and I got breakfast Sunday morning and were able to catch up and talk about life.

Chris Cole teaching us origami.  Or parabolas.  Or something.  He had us in stitches during his whole talk.  Another great thing about the conference– the variety of the talks and personalities.

 

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At the end of the closing Mass today (all the liturgies were simply breath-taking… another high point of the conference), we took Jesus into the streets of Germantown in a Eucharistic Procession.  See those manly men carrying the canopy?  Yet another beautiful thing about the conference — the masculine witness.  Most of the conference was executed by guys, and I think it was apparent in beautiful ways.

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The first of the triple Benedictions during the procession. The people in the neighborhood weren’t quite sure what was happening…. a hundred smiling young adults walking behind priest and sisters, singing and praying?  What?

I’m hooked.  When’s the next conference?  I’m ready for all those kids to come back to Nashville!

 

 

More random fun (on a quiet weekend)

23 May

Last weekend I tried to be good — I had a talk to write, and I decided I would say no to all social engagements until the talk was written.  Well… I still managed a few random fun moments, since that’s what I specialize in around here.

Thursday night (so not quite the weekend yet) my friend Jackie and I went to the rodeo.

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Thanks to my friends Steve and Barbara, who took me to my first rodeo last year (did I really not blog about that!?), I could say, “Hey, this ain’t my first rodeo.”

I have to pick out my favorite cowboy to root for, and this night it was Mr. Green Chaps.  It turns out Mr Green Chaps is 8th in the country for bull riding.
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This is not Mr Green Chaps, but entertaining nonetheless:

The other social event of the weekend was a festival in Germantown, where I went with some friends to grab dinner before Catholic Underground Saturday evening.  This guy made an appearance:

IMG_8147So… a quiet weekend for me = A rodeo and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

The week included dinner with the Bishop from Laredo, TX, who was in town and called me up for a visit, and happily that turned into dinner with two priests, three deacons, and three seminarians from our beautiful diocese.  Then Wednesday night was a iconic Nashville experience that included seeing David Wilcox at Music City Roots and dinner at the Loveless Cafe.

I love this town.

This weekend is the Glory Conference – so say a prayer for all those who have traveled to this amazing city to delve into truth, beauty, and goodness.

 

 

Is there another way?

15 May

To continue with yesterday’s post, I wanted to tell you about a beautiful documentary that begins a much-needed dialogue in the Church and the world about the Catholic Church and homosexuality.  Yesterday I mentioned that I agree with the statement that tolerance isn’t always a two-way street.  That doesn‘t mean I disagree with William Rhoden, who had said in the exchange,  “This cannot turn into a Gestapo-type situation where if you express discomfort with something, then you’re cast as a homophobe and you’re fined by the league. I think that there has to be a back-and-forth.”

That’s true.  We have to be able to dialogue without being labeled and condemned.  But we also have to be able to say that something is right and something is wrong.  The world tries to draw this heavy line —  if you love a homosexual, you have to accept everything that they say and do.  If you don’t accept everything they say or do, then you can’t love them.  With such a heavy, dark line, the Church then is painted as a homophobic institution that says all homosexuals are going to hell.

There is really a third way, and that is the real way of the Church, which says we can love a human person without condoning everything they say or do.  I hope that you can love me and yet still tell me that when I gossip, lose my temper, or ignore the suffering of my neighbor, I’m wrong and should strive to live differently tomorrow.

If you love me, you will want what is best for me, you will want me to live in the freedom of Jesus Christ.  True love does not tolerate suffering … it redeems it.

Do me a favor and set aside 38 minutes and 14 seconds to watch The Third Way, and then set aside more time to think about it.  You won’t regret it.

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When relativists reject relativism

14 May

I was reading an interesting little article about a MSNBC contributor, Jonathan Capehart, who claimed tolerance is not a “two-way” street.  When one of the commentators said that we need to dialogue and not turn everything into a “Gestapo-type situation where if you express discomfort with something, then you’re cast as a homophobe and you’re fined by the league,” Capehart disagreed:
“[T]olerance, no, is not – it should not be a two-way street. It’s a one-way street. You cannot say to someone that who you are is wrong, an abomination, is horrible, get a room, and all of those other things that people said about Michael Sam, and not be forced — not forced, but not be made to understand that what you’re saying and what you’re doing is wrong.”

The article I was reading pointed out the hypocrisy of the liberals who claim that we need to be tolerant of alternative lifestyles but they won’t be tolerant of our beliefs. (Read more here.)

It’s an interesting discussion, because I agree with Capehart in that tolerance isn’t always a two-way street.  The fundamental problem with society elevating “tolerance” to the level of virtue is that it begins to become uncomfortable with the gamut of things about which we have to be tolerant.

Tolerance isn’t always a two-way street.  Take Harvard, for example. Were they right in claiming they needed to “tolerate” a ritual that was blasphemous?  Of course not.  Tolerance is not a virtue — we aren’t supposed to tolerate everything.  Law is based on the fact that we don’t tolerate everything. We don’t tolerate murder, tax evasion, or public indecency.  If you claim to tolerate everything, you have anarchy.

The interesting part of Capehart’s argument is that he is basically declaring is that there is objective truth.  (He says the person “has to be made to see that the way they think and feel is wrong.”)  He is claiming that there is a truth that is applicable to everyone, knowable to everyone.  X is right and Y is wrong.

He claims his belief is that objective truth.  Gone is the “whatever you believe is okay, just don’t impose it on me” because he’s clearly imposing his truth on me.  Now, I don’t have a fundamental problem with truth being imposed on me, because I believe there is an objective truth (like “killing is wrong’) that is imposed on me everyday.  That’s how society works.  That’s how anyone’s quest for truth works.

But why is his belief the truth and not mine?  Therein lies the issue.  Why can he tell someone that “the way they think and feel is wrong”?  They obviously think they’re right. So where do we find what is really truth and will thus contribute to a flourishing of society?

It can’t be “whatever makes you happy,” because we can both use that standard and come out with different results.  It drives me crazy when people use that line. “Well, at least she’s happy.”  Oh, yes, and that’s all that matters.  Why don’t we say that about people we disagree with?  So-and-so cheated on his wife.  “oh, well, at least he’s happy!”

So it can’t be our feeling of happiness that makes something right or wrong. If that was the case, the cheating husband would be in the right when he cheated on his wife.

So what’s the answer, Mr. Capehart?  Why must I tolerate someone’s lifestyle?  Because it makes them happy?  Or because it’s objectively good?  Can we even continue this conversation to find out what is objectively good, true, and beautiful?  I have a feeling we’d be at another impasse… because I’m not tolerating his relativism. But neither is he.

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