Thursday, November 12, 2009

Support a Catholic Speaker Month 2009--Final List

OK, the final list is out!

Now go check out 100+ Catholic speakers and (maybe even better) 100+ Catholic blogs!

Go now!  Shoo!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Politics, Religion and Family

Recently, I posted a slightly snarky comment on Facebook regarding "10.2% unemployment" and "change".

My sister responded with her own comment, which is decidedly further left than my own position.  Now Thanksgiving is coming up and, as we do each year, we will all (my brother, my sister and her "partner" and all of our respective children, spouses and grandchildren) converge on my parent's home for the hyper-calorie fest.  There will be ham, turkey, scads of casseroles, a passel of pies and who knows what else to fill 48 hours of family fun.

What won't be there?  Religion and politics.  Oh, I'll be asked to lead the blessing at meals, but that will be my father's token approval of my conversion to the Church.  They aren't an atheistic or agnostic lot, so that helps.  But as long as we don't cross those lines, we all get along just fine.

But when someone steps over the line, they really step into it.

So my new policy, beginning with last year's ode to gluttony, was to reject any efforts to goad me broach these areas.  No politics or religion.  If they have a question, I'll be happy to answer, but I won't debate it or try to convince anyone of anything.  It isn't easy either--both subjects are near and dear to me.

This was a tough call.  My kids love to visit the farm and make plans for "cookie week"--where all of the kids old enough to use the bathroom on their own spend a full week in December making cookies with their grandmother.  My married children bring their kids and share their own joy from childhood.  It is a special time for everyone.

[My folks are 69, so they are still young enough to handle the hustle and bustle.]

So you'd think my parents, siblings and I would be more like-minded.

My brother, divorced forever ago, and his kids come with his grandchild from his daughter, an unwed mom.  My sister and her "partner" bring their boys, two great twin fireballs (anonymous donor, of course).  Both of them represent living "proof" that these modern choices are just "fine".  Everyone is happy.  Everyone is satisfied with where they are in life.

At first I thought that sharing all of this would be too much information, but then I realized that lots of families are like this.  The only one uncomfortable is me.  I'm the only traditional member of my family (out of my parents and siblings) left.  I've been married for 27 years, 8 kids and 5 grandchildren.

I'm trying to let my example speak instead of my words.  But sometimes the roar of silence is deafening.

I extended the policy to Facebook, and probably offended my sister in the process.  I'm not willing to "poison the well" before I get dessert.

How do you handle these things in your extended families?  Am I alone?  Thank goodness we don't have alcohol...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Support a Catholic Speaker Month 2009--James (Jim) Stenson

First, thanks to Matt Warner at for creating this idea of sharing information on Catholic Speakers as a resource for Catholics.  It is cleverly called "Support a Catholic Speaker Month 2009".

Second, I stumbled across this idea and was surprised--shocked even--to see James Stenson still on the list of speakers without anyone assigned to it.  Then I realized the list said "Jim Stenson" which threw everyone else off.

I was able to attend a session with Mr. Stenson almost a decade ago, and left feeling like great knowledge had been left on my brain.  Seriously.  Not in a headache kind of a way, but in a lightbulb-burning kind of a way.

As a former headmaster, he takes "parent-leadership" seriously.  You only get one chance--ONE--to raise your kids.  No do-overs.  Jim's (I call him Jim--after you attend one of his talks or buy one of his books, you can too) approach is straightforward and thoughtful.  His single goal is to help you bypass the trial-and-error of parenthood and get right to the stuff that works.

His website has a number of folios for you to download for free.  You can even hear hm speak for over 3 hours discussing "Successful Fathers" (3 separate sessions of about an hour each).

I could go on, like the time I realized I'd gotten home without paying him for his book at the conference, and finally over a year later tracked him down and sent the check.  But no need to go there.

Give him a try.  Free listen online, free writing on his website and his contact information:

James B. Stenson
481 Hammond Street
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467
(617) 738-1225

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Laser Monks--worth the truffle of trying

For a short time, LaserMonks is sending truffles with any order of $25 or more.

If you need ink or toner cartridges, new or remanufactured, give them a try.

The free truffle offer is good until tomorrow night--15-16 OCT.

Help the monks, help your self...and then help yourself to a treat.

[Oh, I'm just a customer--I get nothing besides the free truffles with the order I just placed.]

Monday, October 12, 2009


One of my grown daughters introduced me to this website, PostSecrets.  It covers the whole spectrum of humanity, good and bad.  Mostly a lot of emotion, for both the reader and the sender, and tons of jaw-dropping humor.

The idea is that folks send anonymous postcards confessing to a secret they have to a fellow who collects them, and posts a select few online.  Apparently, this has also turned into a series of books and speaking engagements for him.

Thoughtful video:

Yeah, and Deal Hudson brought it up today too, so hat tip to him.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

And baby makes...5 grandkids

This morning brings us Noelle Elizabeth, our fifth grandchild, and fourth granddaughter.

My eldest son prayed for a sister--a lot--when he was little, and now he has five of them.

And 3 daughters.

Yep, girls are important, and we are doing our best to make sure that our parish is a popular wedding spot on the Catholic circuit.  There have already been jokes about future spouses and pairings with suitable aged young men in other families.

Now on the one hand, we have those kinds of comments from other large, Catholic families.

But when I head out to the Knights meeting tonight, I'll be surrounded by well-wishers of another sort.  Guys in their 60s and 70s, with fewer grandkids than I have--if they have any at all.  Now there will be a couple who think we are just crazy to have so many kids.  But many will have a conflicted look on their faces--happy for us, yet unhappy with their own lack of family.

The couple of kids they do have invariably live across the country, and are still settling down, or motivated by their careers, or don't want kids, or "they just aren't ready yet".  Now mind you these kids are in the 30-50 year range.

And these are the Knights who are amped enough to come to meetings.  They know their faith and work is important.  Still, no grandkids.

I don't know that I can stand to hear it again tonight (each announcement of a grandchild brings the same tales).

I may skip the meeting tonight to go hold my new granddaughter before the world rubs the shine off.

Feel free to leave a comment, or tweet.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Abortion, Business and Organizations

[New post on Catholic Dads blog.]

Just wanted to flag a post I contributed concerning just the mentioning of abortion in a public forum...OK, Twitter. And actually, I only used the phrase "Planned Parenthood".

Take a look, and let me know what you think.

Was I off base? Should organizations and businesses take a stand on abortion? Or at least distance themselves from Planned Parenthood? How many more Big Macs would we actually sell?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama Stole Gift for Pope!

Image from the Philadelphia Inquirer website.

OK, this takes the cake.

No matter where you are on the political spectrum, this is unacceptable behavior. Especially from the President of the United States.

According to headlines (and that great source of news, Twitter), the President apparently stole a gift from St. John Neumann, that he wore in Philadephia for 20 years.

And to compound this awful crime, now he's giving it to the Pope! That's like putting gravy on top of your cheesey hashbrowns--superbad.

Apparently, folks are aware that he took it. Now if I had lifted it, they would be digging a new cell in the county jail's basement for me. But not our President.

Maybe stealing is above his pay-grade, too?

My guess is that someone wants to witness him passing off the embarrassing.


Oh, not that kind of stole...

Nevermind...move along folks, nothing to look at here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Funny-looking broad"

My wife and I just celebrated the 29th anniversary of when we met--her birthday, so it is easy for me to remember.

But I've got nothing on this guy!

Audio is pretty good, too.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pleading the 10th

If you aren't reading the Creative Minority Report, you should be.

Perfect for that 14th cup of coffee in the morning...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday needs to be funnier...

I was looking for something funny to start the day.  Yes, 5 hours into the day, I already need some humor to keep my will to live.

How can you go wrong with this? iConfess

Friday, May 8, 2009

Judy, Judy, Judy...

Catholic Dads has a PR email from Judy Blume on behalf of Planned Parenthood.  

Please take a look at it.

This line in particular struck me:
There is no organization that I know of that supports motherhood and all that it means more than Planned Parenthood.
Either she doesn't really understand what PP does, or she doesn't know where readers come from.

Judy, in our house, we usually can get the kids screaming and running away by saying, "First a mommy and daddy love each other very much...".  

Friday, April 17, 2009 it is HIM!

First it was Pope Benedict XVI following me to begin Lent.

Now, at the end of Lent, HE is following me...

"Jesus Christ (jesus_says) is now following your updates on Twitter."

I guess I need more supervision than I thought.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Really Good Friday

The math is against me.

I'm 47, and my wife is not much further behind.  We have 8 kids, and through breastfeeding, they have all been roughly spaced about 3 years apart.  No charts, graphs or really other considerations.  Just God's little joke/plan.

Good times and bad, richer and poorer, health and sickness--and always the kids.  

Our oldest is 26, our youngest will be 3 this summer.  The oldest ones have married fine people.

Our first grandchild turned 3 on Easter.  Our youngest grandchild, and fifth, is due in the fall.

Time is slipping by, and accelerating.  We keep trying to face the reality of our family finally aging with us, and not being continually renewed every third year.

Kids keep you young, but let's face it:  At 47 my left knee, my eyesight and my stamina aren't what they used to be.  Naps sound better than ever.  

It has probably been hardest on my wife.  After all these years, her life is changing dramatically.  She began to take classes at the community college to resume a quarter-century dormant urge.

Until Good Friday became Great Friday and the test came up positive.

The ninth time around you would think we'd know the signs.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tithe is Money

An incredible Super(Catholic)Blog recently covered a plan to tithe and how to boost your support for the Church.  It was a brilliant move on their part and shows real editorial insight.

One commenter, Ashley, asked a question about other forms of stewardship--time and talent.  (Under "About Me" on her blog is a picture of St. Elisabeth of Portugal.  On the off chance that "Ashley" is a pseudonym for St. Elisabeth, I'm going to treat her question with haste and great respect.)

Personally, I love the idea of tithing your time and talent as well as your treasure.  

Often we give money to causes that we want to support, but otherwise we don't have a great connection to it.  We use those extra envelopes at church to put a few dollars in for causes we may not even understand.  We get one every year for "Black and Indian missions" but I honestly have no idea how that money is used or even where it really goes.

Then there are the myriad of requests that come through the mail--cancer research, homes for the poor, prison outreach, convents and missions, colleges, police benefits, and more.  My email is also home to those requests--every time the Red Cross has an emergency, or the environment (per the environmental folks) is under attack, my email inbox lights up.

But there is a limit for most of us to how many good causes we can support financially.  And it is quick, without a lot of thought required.  An hour a month maybe, if you write the checks and envelopes by hand?

That's where the old phrase, "Time is money", comes into play.
Is it possible to give 10% of your time?  Treat sleep like we do taxes for financial tithing--subtract it out.  (I spend approximately 30 nights a year camping with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, so maybe I can count sleep!)

Post-sleep (at 8 hours per night) we have 584 hours per year (10% of your waking hours).

I read in a Knights of Columbus article a couple of years ago that the average adult volunteers 42% less than their parents and grandparents did.  That's a lot of time taken away from the betterment of our fellow man.

So, how could you use this time?  584 hours breaks down to 11.25 hours a week.  Out of 168 hours a week, assuming you are well rested, 112 are left.  Subtract 60 hours for work, and we have 52 left.

Now, here is where I cut you a break.

I only want 10% of the 52 hours.  You can even round down.  Call it 5.

How can 5 hours a week help?  Find something you love.  It could be at church or in your community.  Even make up your own project like mowing the yard of the elderly couple next door.  Give blood.  Help a pregnancy center.  Do the low-level grunt work no one else has time for like filing and data entry.  Make dinner for a family in need, or with a new baby, or a recent death.  These are not hard ideas to find.  Any anyone can do it.

The Boy Scouts of America is my passion for service. It is a great example of how something can start small and grow.  I probably spend 10 hours a week now with our parish's Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop.  Then there are the campouts and summer camps.  Popcorn fundraising in the fall. Council committees and more.  

I love it. It brings me great feelings of accomplishment that I don't get from my work.  I get to watch--help--young boys grow into men.  

The lasting effect on me is much greater for getting my own hands dirty than just passing along money.

5 hours a week can change the face of your parish, your town and, maybe most importantly, your life.  If you aren't spending 5 hours a week helping others (your immediate family doesn't count), think about stepping up and pitching in.  Ask your priest for ideas, or let him know you are available.  

Think about it:  5 hours of donated plumbing time; 5 hours of Knights of Columbus work; 5 hours of reading aloud to kids at the library; 5 hours of delivering meals; 5 hours of filing at the local animal shelter; 5 hours of sorting clothes at the pregnancy center; 5 hours of making phone calls to help raise money for a new library; or maybe 5 hours of prayer for the rest of us doing the physical work of volunteering.  (Honestly, I'd love to know that someone was praying for 5 hours to support my efforts.)

Please.  We need the help.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Having the Tithe of Your Life

This time of the year (Lent) brings us face to face with sacrifice.

Give to the poor.

Take care of your brother.

Do unto others.

Does anyone else want that last incredible piece of fried chicken?  No?  Well, it shouldn't go to waste...

Sorry, distracted.

Anyway, I'm always amazed by the relatively small offerings noted in the church bulletin.  Let's see, 250 registered families, assume an average household income of $40K a year, 52 weeks a year, probably giving half to other maybe 5% should come to the church?

I know, funny.  

That 5% would come in at $500K a year in that scenario, and the reality is closer to $200K.  

And let's be honest--we've all seen the basket come by with ones and fives dropped in.  So that $200K is from a few folks doing heavier lifting.

I think there are a lot of influences here.  

Habit keeps us doing the same thing we were doing 10 years ago (or 20 years ago).  Guilty as charged.  Things cost a lot more now, but I'm doing a lot better, too.  

Poor planning.  Most people's financial planning is not so great.  The desire to help their neighbor and support the church is there, but where will we get the money?  It doesn't grow on trees you know.  As a nation last summer, we barely kept our SUV's full of $4 gas...whew!

Punishing the church over your conflicts with the Church.  Not a position I'd want to defend someday.

I have a great solution to help you out.

Give 1%.  That's right, $1 out of $100.  $40K household income?  $400 a year, or $8 a week.  For many Catholics, that would be a little less than what we are doing now.  That's OK.  Resist the temptation to pitch in a $10.   Take the time to break that $10 before Mass--gum, donut for after Mass, Sunday paper.

Pitch the $8 in the basket because YOU HAVE A PLAN!

In 3 months, you sacrifice again.  2%.  $16 a week.  Write a check so you can get the tax deduction.  The $2 you were saving in the first 90 days--heck, that offsets most of the increase.  The average home has $92 in loose change tucked into drawers, sofa cushions, and change jars.

Whew, 2% is covered.  Now, for some this is already an improvement, so congrats!

90 more days, and we are up to 3%.  Now that sacrifice thing is kicking in a bit.  But if you are used to $16 a week now, you aren't really finding $24 now, right?  Just another $8.  

Let's see.  One lunch out.  The usual vices, cigarettes and beer--keep those.  I'm not after your vices.  This should be more fun than deprivation.  How about reviewing the bills and get rid of one thing you don't really benefit from (this does not include the money you are giving to church...).

Another 90 days, and you are back to Lent 2010.  4%.  Surely sometime in the past year you have gotten a raise worth $8 a week?  If not, give up a little beer or scale back your Netflix to 3 movies at a time.

Last time:  15 months after you started, you are now giving 5% to your church.  Our Church.  Changing the face of Catholicism with your sacrifice.  Father greets you at the door by name, and appreciates that you are giving $40 a week (the big leagues).

That wasn't so hard, was it?

Be "Anonymous" if you wish:  what percentage do you give to the church each week?  Could you do this plan?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Laundry for Men

OK, this was funny until I remembered that I do the laundry in our home...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fish is not meat

Explaining Lenten dietary restrictions to a six year old is tough.

No meat on Fridays.  Fish is not a meat during Lent, like it is other times of the year.  Two meals can't equal one on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

His assessment:  "It's a great way to sneak vegetables into us!"

Thanks little buddy.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI is following me...

"Pope Benedict XVI (popebenedictxvi) is now following your updates on Twitter."

Perfect.  Just what I need at the beginning of Lent.  Direct papal supervision.

It should help.

I hope!