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Working with a Christian Worldview

  /   Saturday, September 17, 2022   /   Comments(0)

In my last post, I made some brief comments about “quiet quitting” (which I think is an odd term). I’ve read a number of posts about how some people are quietly quitting and what it means (and it varies a bit). I’ve also read and listened to others who are arguing against the practice. It seems that most of those who were attacking the practice were actually attacking a straw man and not what many of the proponents of “quiet quitting” were actually doing.

For a Catholic like me, this presents an opportunity to really reflect on the meaning and purpose of work and how I should approach my work. The truth is that work is essential, and everyone needs to do his fair share. If no one worked, there would be no farmers to produce food. There wouldn’t be builders to build houses. There wouldn’t be doctors to provide needed health care. We just don’t survive without work.

As a matter of justice, we need to do a full day’s work when we receive a full day’s pay. Christian charity demands that we work with a view towards meeting the needs of our employers and our customers. Working as a Christian means that our work is more than just transactional. We aim to serve and to do good for others as best as we can.

With this being said, much of the trend towards “quiet quitting” needs to be understood as a reaction, often righteous, to what was called the “hustle culture.” The term “hustle culture” simply means having to pretty much always be working. It’s true that there may be cases where someone has to work ridiculous hours for a period of time. For example, a rescue worker during a disaster may not be able to just stop working without leaving people in danger.

However, in most cases, work is becoming an idol, either to the employer or the employee (or both). I remember reading some articles on some career site that suggested the need to hide from the employer the fact that you stop working to attend your son’s baseball game. This is truly unhealthy, and any employer who has that kind of attitude doesn’t deserve its employees. It is absolutely immoral for an employer to consume a disproportionate share of the employee’s time and energy that needs to be devoted to his family.

Work has a proper place in life that should neither be diminished nor exaggerated. Many of the “quiet quitters” are reporting not that they’ve stopped trying to do a good job but that they’ve realized that there is more to life than work. People just want to be able, and should be able, to live their lives. Leisure is an important part of life. I was absolutely not surprised to find out that many people who decided to realize that now believe themselves to be more productive in their work. I’m betting that more of them are.

Most importantly, rest is actually commanded by God. God gave the Sabbath to the Jewish people, and now Christians celebrate it on Sunday. God commands us to cease from our labor most of all to worship. This is because, ultimately, we all belong to God himself.

Category: Response, Uncategorized


Quiet Quitting?

  /   Wednesday, August 31, 2022   /   Comments(0)

I’m seeing a lot in the news about “quiet quitting” one’s job. The strangest part is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement on what it means. Some people are doing reasonable things; others are really not.

As Christians, we realize our work is a sharing in God’s creation. Often, people depend on our work, and it’s important to do it well. We must work for love of God.

However, there are real limits to how much we should work. I’ve never understood why career and work were supposed to be the primary means of fulfillment for everyone. When that happens, work ends up becoming more than it should be. There are definite boundaries that need to be set both on how much we work and what we should take responsibility for. The balance is highly variable, and I wouldn’t claim to be able to give specific guidance.

Category: Uncategorized


Are These Fake Construction Zones?

  /   Tuesday, May 31, 2022   /   Comments(0)

With all the heavier stuff in the news, I wanted to write about something lighter. My family and I took a trip last weekend, and in a certain state I will not name, I noticed a trend. There were miles of road that had a reduced speed limit because of “road construction.”

However, all I saw were a bunch of orange barrels on each side of the interstate with absolutely no other evidence that any work was being done on the road. Could these be some kind of fundraiser where they just reduce the speed limit so they can charge higher fines when they bust someone? I wonder if there has been or will be a court case where someone will challenge a construction zone in court claiming that there was no sign of actual construction for miles.

It kind of reminds me of a case of what I call a “fundraiser fire hydrant.” An entity will have a fire hydrant that has not worked in years. However, they will still issue citations if anyone parks next to it, and that seems to be the only purpose it serves.

These are all just thoughts that came to me while I was traveling.

Category: Uncategorized


You Can’t Just Pray It Away

  /   Tuesday, June 12, 2018   /   Comments(0)

Articles about depression and suicide are coming across my news feeds in the wake of the recent, tragic suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. To be honest, I’m not that familiar with either of them, but it’s my long-standing habit to say a prayer for the soul of anyone whose death I hear about. It’s difficult for me to imagine what must be going through anyone’s mind to decide that taking his or her own life is the best way out. The old saying that kept coming up on the TV ads when I was growing up was that “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” However, someone with a mental or emotional problem is going to have a hard time seeing it that way.

We may not want to simply follow the whims of the media, but this is a great time to examine our attitudes as Catholics towards people with emotional or mental disorders. It seems that there are a number of devout Catholics who will over-spiritualize mental disorders. I have even heard a priest talk about how one doesn’t need a counselor but need only say the Rosary. There exists a misconception that the feelings that accompany mental illness are in and of themselves sinful or are purely caused by sin or some other spiritual fault. Someone with anxiety is assumed to not be trusting in God enough; maybe the person with depression isn’t praying enough.

Another form of this extreme is to attribute all mental illness to some activity of demons or even of the Devil himself. Someone who believes this may simply tell someone to pray, go to some deliverance ministry, or even undergo an exorcism. While genuine diabolical activity does exist and may mimic a mental health disorder, making such an assumption without a proper evaluation can be downright dangerous.

The fact is that being a faithful Catholic is not automatic insulation from mental or emotional health problems. Even if it were, how many of us live out our faith so perfectly that we can avoid every problem? Genuine problems can occur with people’s minds, and these problems will require not just prayer, Sacraments, and spiritual direction (though all of these should be used) but also professional mental health treatment. As Catholics it’s our job to support our brothers and sisters who are experiencing these problems and not be dismissive of them.

We must also be careful not to view the problem from a completely secular perspective and to disregard the spiritual component of the problem that may exist (though some disorders may in fact be mostly if not completely biological). This is shown when someone is merely put on medication with no effort to look at the person’s life and behavior. Prayer and the Sacraments end up playing no part in treatment because they are simply viewed as not relevant. No consideration is given to the idea that there may be some sin involved because that would be a form of “blaming the victim.” I am not trying to condone making a quick, armchair diagnosis here but to say that we need to consider all aspects here. Christ does have real power to heal and will use it.

We have body, mind, and spirit all working together, and problems that arise can easily have more than one dimension. If we fail to address part of the problem, we will unnecessarily limit the healing that someone can experience. I think I can safely say that, no matter what the cause, we want people to experience healing. They have to want it, too, but our own approach can be instrumental in bringing this about.

Category: Catholic, Response, Uncategorized


Why Doesn’t the World Stop?

  /   Saturday, March 31, 2018   /   Comments(0)

I haven’t been writing for a while, and this Easter Triduum, I had felt inspired to write something that has gone through my mind for years. The Triduum is the most holy time of year. We are celebrating the events of our redemption. Yes, we are talking about the very events that allow us to be united with God himself, the entire purpose of our life. This is shown very well in the solemn liturgies of these three days.

When I was single, I remember driving to and from the church in the evening on Germantown Parkway, a busy six lane road in Memphis. It seemed to me that people around me were just carrying on life as normal. Maybe they were headed to watch a movie or for a night out somewhere. Everything felt so odd considering what was going on.

I couldn’t help but wonder – how can people carry on business as usual? Why doesn’t the world stop? Even when I went to church, and the liturgy would call for a silent departure, people would start their conversations right away as they were leaving. Could they not just wait five minutes and let there be silence to reflect on what we are remembering this day?

The events of Good Friday are a good reminder that this is how we treat Our Lord. The people of this day were met by God in human flesh, and they crucified him. Today, indifference towards him is a huge problem. Jesus endured the most painful, humiliating method of execution to show how much he really loves us and, of course, to bring about our redemption. Yet, it is difficult to find a place in our everyday society where he is honored.

We are now at Holy Saturday. This is a very silent time in the Church. We know about the service on Good Friday not being a Mass, but on Holy Saturday, there is no service of any kind at all until Easter Vigil. It’s a time of waiting, fasting, and prayer. It’s recommended, though not required, to continue fasting until Easter Vigil.

Maybe you could think of Holy Saturday as a time of mourning as we are meditating on Christ in the tomb. However, we know how the story ends. The disciples of Jesus’ day would have heard Jesus say that he would rise from the dead, but we already know that it did, in fact, happen. We have only to await the time to celebrate it once again with great joy. Let’s not waste this special opportunity to reflect on the great love shown to us by God so that we can share it with the world that does not know him.

Category: Uncategorized


Unfit for Public Office

  /   Sunday, June 25, 2017   /   Comments(0)

By now, most of the buzz has already calmed down about Bernie Sanders’ criticism of the religious beliefs of Russell Vought that could very easily be interpreted to mean that Christians need not apply for public office. Well, maybe it’s okay to be a Christian as long as you don’t really believe the Christianity is true. Don’t even think about letting your faith influence you in a way that might affect others!

The existence of this mentality really shouldn’t be surprising. Secular society has long looked at some religious beliefs as though they were a personality quirk that needed to be worked around. There was a veneer of “respecting the beliefs of others” as though they were just arbitrary traits of a person that we can just humor. People were supposedly just taught these things, and we can’t expect them to be able to substantiated. This stops the moment someone show that a person takes what they believe seriously.

Sanders and those like him seem to have forgotten one thing – why would anyone believe anything? There’s really only one reason to believe anything, religious or otherwise – because it is true! No matter how beautiful something sounds or how much I like it, there is no point in my believing it if it isn’t true. If something is true, then it’s only logical that anything that contradicts it must be false. If I think my child ate the last cookie, but my wife thinks he didn’t, we can’t both be right. He either did or he didn’t. I know that a lot of people these days say that we really can’t be sure that any one religion is right. However, the people who say that sound darn sure that they are right in saying that we cannot be sure that any one religion is right, and that belief also has consequences for them and others as well.

So, does believing something is right and basing one’s life, including one’s public life on it, render one unfit for office? The left seems to think these days that it not only renders one unfit for public office, but it also renders one unfit for a lot of other things. If anyone wants to know how someone like Donald Trump reached the presidency, I think the actions of the left in this regard are a huge factor. There were enough people who didn’t want to see what would be a continuation of an administration willing to go after the Little Sisters of the Poor for not providing contraception in their insurance plan. There were enough people who were tired of bakers, florists, and other wedding professionals being sued for everything they have for not wanting to participate in a same-sex “wedding.” There were enough people who questioned imposing on everyone the ideology of people who think that they can be one biological sex but yet another gender. Oh, and there are people who are certain that they are right about these things, and they seek to impose them on others. They may not be religious beliefs, but if we look at history careful, we can see that militant atheists and secularists have harmed far more people than religious zealots.. The Communist revolutions of the 20th Century resulted in far, far more destruction of human life than did he Inquisition and the Crusades (the latter of which I will argue actually had a noble purpose).

The problem that makes one unfit for public office isn’t a belief that something is definitely right. Whether someone is fit for public office depends on 1) how people who are, or who are believed to be, in error should be treated 2) the objective morality or immorality of what one believes 3) the person’s willingness or unwillingness to substantiate what they believe. Too many people want to just cry “bigot” or “blaming the victim” instead of coming up with an adult argument. Also, despite popular opinion, religious beliefs can be substantiated. Take a look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

To see people’s fitness for public office, look at how they view those of a different belief. What do they want to do – evangelize them, leave them to their fate, or destroy them? If they wish to evangelize, how would they do so – by proclaiming the message or by force? Finally, how would they settle a matter of justice between a believer and an unbeliever? Do they believe in principles of right and wrong that would lead them to render a decision in favor of an unbeliever if justice demanded it? Do they hold people of their own faith accountable for doing what’s right, even to an unbeliever? Obviously, a judge that would always rule in favor of a Christian who stole from a Muslim, Hindu, Jew, or even an atheist isn’t fit to be a judge.

Whether we understand it or not, we want people in office who base their lives on unwavering moral principle and expect the same from others. Every law on the books is someone’s imposition of beliefs in what is right or wrong on others.  Otherwise, what else is going to be the basis for their decisions? They could make them based on whatever benefits them personally, whatever some group of influential or powerful people thinks, or whatever is blowing in the latest political wind. To quote one of my favorite country songs “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” While that may be just a song, I do fear that one of our greatest problems today is that we are indeed falling for anything because little worthwhile is being held to be true.

Category: Uncategorized


My Fasting Strategy

  /   Saturday, April 15, 2017   /   Comments(0)

I must admit that I am not good at fasting. I guess I just like my food too much. Yes, I know I need to do something about it, and having days of fasting like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are good for me. I guess I have also not been good at getting posts up at the right time since I meant to do this earlier and also meant to post more, but i guess it can give some people who had trouble fasting this year some help.

For me to do a day of fasting, I have to be pretty deliberate about how I am going to do it. Like everyone else, I need to be able to perform the duties of my state of life, and being too hungry doesn’t help with that. I realize that, as one priest said, we get to eat more on fast days than many people get to eat every day. Still, I need a strategy for fasting.

So, here it is … but please note that this isn’t for everyone, and I am certainly not taking responsibility for anyone who shouldn’t do it this way who tries it anyway (or anyone else either). I just want to put it out there to see if anyone thinks it will work.

Here’s the questionable part … I normally eat a big dinner the day before the fast. Maybe I shouldn’t, but as far as I know it’s allowed. Then, I wait until as late as possible to eat anything on the actual day of fasting. It’s like getting it over with early as much as possible. I normally go to work on fasting days to keep my mind off it. I packed a couple of peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches to use as my lighter meals, and I eat the first one when I really need to eat. I then try to wait as long as I can before eating the next one. I have my full meal at home that night to hold me until thee next day.

With this strategy, I have been able to fast while still doing my work. Of course, it helps to go to Mass and Good Friday service on the day of fasting to keep occupied and reminded of why we are doing this. I hope this is helpful for at least some of you.

One other thing … Holy Saturday up until the Easter Vigil is a time to continue prayer, and, you guessed it – fasting! You are not required by the Church to fast on Holy Saturday, but I certainly encourage anyone who can to continued, and so does the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Think if it as a time of reflection on Jesus in the tomb and of waiting for the Resurrection.

Category: Uncategorized


Don’t Forget that There Are Valid Concerns About the New President

  /   Sunday, January 22, 2017   /   Comments(0)

Inauguration Day has come and gone now. Donald Trump has won in an election that was a pretty big upset. Now, he is officially the President of the United States. To be honest, I am much happier about him winning that I would have been about Hillary Clinton, and I am really glad Obama has left office. Still, I am not about to embrace Trump as the savior of our country. I do think there are valid concerns remaining about what he will do.

Clinton was guaranteed to continue the cultural revolution of Obama that would ensure that, ultimately, those who wish to live Christian morality would be reduced to second class citizens at best. I have seen things under Obama that I would have dismissed as paranoia when he first got elected. Just look at the this report from the US Civil Rights Commission (PDF file format) if you don’t believe me. If you think that Trump will do little to stop abortion, you may be right. The catch is that Clinton was guaranteed to work to promote the pro-abortion agenda, including appointing pro-abortion Supreme Court justices. However, one thing that remains to be seen is whether Trump will keep his promise and appoint a pro-life justice to the bench to replace Justice Scalia. Hopefully, he will do so soon, and, with it, work to protect human life. Hopefully, he will work to protect religious liberty even if he has no desire to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges.

This isn’t my only concern. On the day of his inauguration, President Trump signed an executive order which shows that he is serious about dismantling the Affordable Care Act. I do know that there are people who have benefitted greatly from having obtained coverage. I also think that having an insurance marketplace is a good idea. My concern is not so much about the law being repealed. It’s that the law will be repealed without something better to replace it. Mr. Trump sure seems to be in a hurry to dismantle it. This would leave people who do benefit without access to care, and that is not acceptable!

With that being said, I strongly believe that Obamacare will fail in the long run if left standing. We are already seeing premium increases and insurance companies exiting the markets because they were losing money. Eventually, it will become costly enough that it will no longer be affordable for anyone. Deductibles are also quite high, and this is a problem even for people with employer-based plans. I have heard a number of stories of people who have insurance struggling to get health care or having to choose between health care and other necessities because their deductibles are too high. Add to this the draconian contraceptive coverage mandate that would make it impossible for a Catholic like me to own a business and provide health insurance for employees. The fines for not providing free contraceptives were crippling and were many times higher than the fines for not providing coverage at all. We do need something better, and I hope we get it and not just a repeal. For the record, though, I believe that a single-payer program would be a disaster in this country.

Another concern that I have is how well he will handle immigration. I believe that the statements that he is racist, xenophobic, or even fascist are an exaggeration. I also don’t see anything wrong with building a wall to secure our border (though no one should expect Mexico to pay for it). However, those who are here should be treated with compassion, even if here illegally. Many are escaping a bad situation, and this needs to be considered. The way legal immigration is handled could use some work, too.

I could name other issues as well that I hope are not brushed aside. Knowing many of the comments be made, we have to wonder if he will get our country in big trouble. Regardless of what you think about the “women’s march” that is going on, I hope that you realize that his previous comments about women completely unacceptable. When confronted, I would rather he would have at least said that they don’t represent who he is today rather than having dismissed them as “locker room talk.” Even if he had, there would still be cause for concern.

All of this is written to remind everyone who supported Trump (or at least didn’t support Clinton) that legitimate issues exist. We can’t just ignore them and think everything will be ok. We can’t just declare victory even though one threat has been stopped. It’s time to keep praying. Pray for our president and our country!

Category: Uncategorized


Just Say Merry Christmas

  /   Friday, December 23, 2016   /   Comments(0)

When I was in kindergarten, way back in 1980, our teacher had us all make a Christmas card for a craft. She told us that we could choose to write either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” on the card. That was probably the first time I had heard the phrase “Happy Holidays.” It seemed strange to me then as a young child who hadn’t even been baptized at the time. It still seems strange to me now.

I don’t want to make some huge drama of it every time someone says “Happy Holidays.” I’ll have nothing to do with the ridiculous Starbucks cup controversy from last year. However, I am aware that many people, including devout Christians, don’t seem to think it matters at all. Truthfully, many people may just be saying what rolls off their tongue and not really thinking about it. The thing is that we really do need to think about it.

I’d go so far to say that anyone who is really offended by being wished a “Merry Christmas” is probably someone whom I would term a “professional offendee.” That’s the term I use to describe anyone who finds offensiveness to some group in way too many aspects of human speech (or in things like naming a sports team the “Braves”). Really, how I am going to react if someone tells me to have a Happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? I celebrate neither, but I think getting upset about it would be a waste of my energy. It wouldn’t do me much good anyway. It seems that the move towards “inclusiveness” really means anything but Christianity. Did anyone hear about the suggestion from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville last year to make sure that holiday parties are not “Christmas parties but in disguise?”. I dare them to say that about a Hindu festival!

With that, I get into the precise problem. The “War on Christmas,” isn’t about people saying Happy Holidays. It’s rather more concerned with the ridiculous aversion that some have to mentioning Christmas or of specifically celebrating Christmas. A number of businesses who darn well know they are making great profits from the sales of Christmas gifts act as though they think we are just celebrating Generic Winter Holiday. You can see this list from the American Family Association. One street that I drive by frequently advertises “Holiday Trees.” What else are those being used for at this time of year? In a job I held, part of our orientation was a diversity class where we were to discuss how to plan an inoffensive “holiday” party. We had to have it in November so that it wouldn’t look like a Christmas party. Oh, the horrors of our party looking like a named holiday that even many non-Christians celebrate!

We who are Christians should not be ashamed to mention that we are celebrating the birth of Christ. Just as the winter solstice has passed and days are just starting to get longer, we celebrate the Light of the World coming to us. We need not be afraid to simple say “Merry Christmas” to those whom we see. We have something known and very real to celebrate.

So, to all who are reading, I wish you a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Category: Catholic, Response, Uncategorized


An Important Part of Preparing the Way

  /   Saturday, December 10, 2016   /   Comments(0)

I’m writing this here in the Second Week of Advent. The reading from this past Sunday was about St. John the Baptist. He tells us to prepare the way of the Lord in a very certain way – by repenting of our sins. On Monday, the Gospel was about the man whose friends came through the roof of a house to bring him to Jesus, and the first thing that Jesus did, before healing him physically, was to forgive his sins. On Tuesday, he Gospel reading was about how there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one repentant sinner than over 99 who have no need of repentance. Jesus said he did not want anyone to be lost. On Wednesday, Jesus told us to come to him and rest because his home is easy and his burden light.

In a world where many seem to think that the whole Gospel can be summed up by being completely nonjudgmental, talking about sin isn’t fashionable. However, sin is a real obstacle to being close to God. When we sin, we go against our very purpose in life and offend the one who is holding us in existence. It is a really heavy burden to carry. The good news is that God really wants to forgive our sins, not because they are no big deal. They are a huge deal. God wants to forgive because his love is great. I want to suggest that this Advent, in order to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts, we need to go to Confession!

Please don’t be afraid to go.  I know I’ve experienced those times when I was expecting the priest to tell me what a jerk I am and give me a penance of fifty Rosaries while kneeling on hot coals and broken glass.  It almost never happens.  (That supposed penance was tongue in cheek for those of you who aren’t familiar with Confession.)

So you say … “I’ve done something that I could never tell to the priest.” Well, remember that the priest is there to represent Jesus and to forgive you in his name. Jesus already knows your sin. The priest is there to help bring to you the love and mercy of God in a tangible way. What seems like a big embarrassment to you is probably something he has dealt with many times, and he will be grateful for your courage in acknowledging what you have done so that he can bring you God’s mercy. Having to acknowledge the sin you committed can help you to see what love and mercy God is showing you and to love him in return.

So you say … “I keep confessing the same sins over and over again.” If that’s the case, then please don’t be discouraged. Would you rather be committing new and different sins all the time? Often times we do have things we struggle with for a long time and need to keep trying. Keep fighting the good fight. If you fail, hurry back to God and try again. The Sacrament will give you the grace to carry on the struggle, but do struggle against your sins. Never accept your sins as things that are just a part of you. Resolve to never commit them again, and if you do, know that God is full of mercy and compassion.

So you say … “I would only be confessing out of fear of Hell.” It turns out that if your motivation for being sorry for sin is fear of Hell, that is sufficient to receive forgiveness through the Sacrament. Yes, you heard me . . . it’s enough to go to have fear of Hell as your motivation.  It’s actually called imperfect contrition or attrition, and your sins will be forgiven in the Sacrament. You can think of it as a good starting point, but of course, you want to grow into being sorry out of love for God. It may be that knowing that God loves you and has forgiven you is what will help you learn to truly detest having offended a good and loving God.

So you say … “I am not sorry for my sins.” Well, you may have me there, but first let me be sure. Being sorry for sin is first and foremost an act of the will. You choose to repent. This means that you can choose to be sorry for your sins even if you don’t feel the sorrow. Maybe your sorrow is weak, but it is there. The grace of God is at work, and so is his forgiveness. Just meditate on how much he loved and forgave you, and it can help bring you to a deeper sorrow.

However, if you are really not sorry for a mortal sin, then don’t go to Confession. The absolution won’t work, and you will commit a sacrilege. This has the effect of making you a worse sinner than you were before you entered the Confessional. However, let me remind you that only God can bring you true happiness in this life and the next. You may think you are enjoying the pleasure of your sin, but in fact it is placing a major obstacle between you and the source of your ultimate happiness and fulfillment. This obstacle, if not removed, will separate you from him for all eternity. Why remain there a moment longer? Be sorry for your sin, and turn back to God. Prepare the way for him to be in your heart.

Category: Catholic, Doctrine, Spirituality, Uncategorized


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