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About That Graduation Speech

  /   Thursday, June 13, 2024   /   Comments(0)

Now that the dust has settled a bit, and Harrison Butker’s graduation speech (full text here) is old news, let’s take a look at it and what some have been taking offense at. The thing that really gets me is that it seems that the vast majority of the people who made comments either act like he should be tarred and feathered or like this was the direct word of God that is above any criticism. Both are way off here, but the former, some of whom have gone so far as to call for his dismissal from the Kansas City Chiefs, are just outrageous. My question is this: Can there be room to recognize the good things he has said even as we acknowledge that the speech was not perfect?

You can probably guess that I have absolutely no sympathy towards those that are all bent out of shape by what he said. Their reactions are just sheer insanity. However, there are still problems with people acting like this was just the ultimate in speeches. One person said on X that making a criticism just because the speech wasn’t perfect would be like petty infighting among Catholics. I have some sympathy for his view, and I agree we should support those who try to proclaim the Catholic faith. However, I also find it imprudent to cling to anything that attempts to defend the faith, especially if there’s something being said that is not correct.

Butker truly did try to convey the importance of family over career. He spoke of the importance of speaking up about and standing up for the faith. He reminded people about the importance of “doing the small things well” and about surrounding yourself with people who share in our Catholic faith to help build us up. We can tell that he took a strong stance just from the sheer number of feathers he ruffled.

A lot of people took offense to his comments about his wife and women as homemakers in general. While his choice of words in saying that his wife’s life “truly started” when she was married and had children was probably not the best, what he said otherwise about both his wife and himself leaning into their vocations and their family was actually very good if properly understood. He specifically mentions that his wife makes sure that he doesn’t let football and his business take him away from his vocation as husband and father.

I saw people online accusing him of relegating women to being considered inferior to men. I’ve long found this thinking to be ridiculous. Is there really anything inferior about spending your life raising souls who will one day spend eternity in Heaven or Hell rather than working for a corporation? Why is the modern workplace considered the ideal place that we need to be? I am all in favor of women having opportunities to work and make money. I am not in favor of treating economic opportunities as the most important ones or as a test of whose life is really fulfilling. Besides, just listen to Butker’s words describing the title of homemaker.

Others took offense because they felt that the life he described was just not possible for them. This is kind of a strange unwritten rule I’ve seen online that says it is not permitted to make a suggestion unless absolutely everyone is able to follow it the exact way you suggest. Look, it’s perfectly fine for someone make a suggestion that may not be possible for everyone. If circumstances don’t allow a family to have a stay at home mom, this doesn’t mean that Butker’s proclamation is wrong. Some women will have reason for working outside the home.

Like I said before, the speech isn’t perfect. Butker spends quite a lot of time talking about lack of leadership in the Catholic Church. I see where he’s coming from because, when I was his age, it was a huge concern of mine. Just go look at my earliest blogs on this site. With that being said, I think he devoted too much of his speech to this, kind of like I devoted too much of my time and energy to it when I was his age. The problems still exist, but we are in an era now where solid Catholic materials are much easier to find than they were back then.

The other major criticism that I have of his speech is that he takes a shot at natural family planning saying “there is nothing natural about Catholic birth control.” This is permitted by the Church, and so I really believe what he said was an error. NFP can definitely be abused, and it would be fine for him to give his opinion that more should consider allowing God to give as many children as he will. However, he needs to state that as his opinion. Natural family planning is permitted by the Church, so he can’t consider it “heterodox teaching.” One could also argue that he over-promoted the Latin Mass, but I don’t think what he said was really wrong.

Then, there were a couple of other things he said that are open to interpretation. So, I’ll share how I interpreted them. He uses the term “stay in your lane.” I took this to be a complaint about a trend we see in the Church that is a kind of “clericalization of the laity and laicization of the clergy.” The former part of this can be seen by the many lay people you have in the sanctuary today, especially the number of lay people distributing the Eucharist. This is really supposed to be the function of a priest or deacon. The former part is a bit more tricky. One example from over a decade ago was when the USCCB had a position on reducing the level of mercury in thermometers. Yes, I really saw that. It’s not a matter of faith, and I don’t think that’s the “lane” of the USCCB.

He also made a controversial comment about Congress passing a law making it illegal to state biblical teaching on who killed Jesus. This was taken by some as at least a potentially anti-Semitic comment. Let me make clear that I am completely opposed to anti-Semitism. While it’s possible that he meant what he said in an anti-Semitic matter, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. That proposed bill he was alluding to could have easily wandered into dangerous territory. Who interprets what is and isn’t anti-Semitism? What is to stop some anti-Christian prosecutor from going after the Gospels? It may not reach that extreme, but these kind of bills are far too open to being interpreted too broadly, and that may be what Butker was getting at.

The world is greatly in need of people who will truly proclaim the Catholic faith and who will not back down. We need these people in all walks of life, whether it’s sports, medicine, show business, manufacturing, retail, or anywhere else. While I do have some genuine concerns about some things he said, I would definitely be more likely to call this a bold proclamation of faith than I would a disaster. Let’s at least give him credit for being willing to say what he believed needed to be said.

Category: Response, Uncategorized

Where is This Eucharistic Revival?

  /   Saturday, December 16, 2023   /   Comments(0)

I’m sure you’ve heard the 2019 Pew Research poll that suggested that around two-thirds of Catholics (however they defined a Catholic) do not believe what the Church teaches about the Eucharist. Because of this, we now are supposed to have a Eucharistic Revival going on. If you don’t believe me, here’s the website. However, I have to ask – just where is this revival, and what is being done?

Not only am I at Mass every Sunday, but I’m there a lot of weekdays as well. I’m usually at my own parish on Sunday and other places during the week. I follow Catholic news (though I don’t spend hours looking over it). If we have such a serious problem as unbelief in the Eucharist, and we are trying to do something about it, why have I heard so very little about this supposed revival? I mean, something occasionally comes up, but it isn’t anywhere close to anything that would constitute an attempt at a full scale revival.

I see there is a Eucharistic Pilgrimage going on. However, if it went through the area where live, I don’t recall hearing anything about it. There is also a Eucharistic Congress planned. However, the cost to attend is way out of many people’s price range. Merely having these events does not constitute a serious, widespread effort at a badly needed revival in my opinion. Besides, the only people who are going to be interested in these are people who *do* believe what the Church teaches. How are we reaching out to those who lack faith in this great gift of Our Lord?

An interesting turn in this is that a new study shows that, while there is still a serious problem here, the actual number of Catholics who do not believe in the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist is about one-third. The discrepancy is suggested to have been caused by the options on the original poll asking if the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ or if they are a symbol. I’m not sure what to make of this because I really don’t believe a lot of Catholics really understand that the Eucharist, despite the fact that the bread and wine actually do become the Body and Blood of Christ, is also a symbol. It’s just that the Eucharist actually is what it symbolizes and therefore is not merely a symbol. So, there could be other explanations (e.g. who was polled) for the change.

However, I digress. My point is that, if we are serious about bringing forth greater faith in this great gift of Our Lord of his very self, I can’t tell by what I have seen of this Eucharistic Revival. Like Pope St John Paul II said in Ecclesia de Eucharista (article 61), there is no danger of excess in our care for this mystery. If people do not believe or do not have enough fervor, an all out effort needs to be made.

While I would not likely be one to lead a widespread revival, there are things I can do, and so can you. Be at Mass as often as you can be. Don’t be afraid to speak of Our Lord and his gift of his very Body and Blood. Show reverence at Mass. We can let people know we are serious about our faith simply by showing how Jesus Christ works in our lives through the very sacrament he instituted. We may make only a small impact, but the combined effects of a lot of small impacts will be tremendous.

Category: Catholic, News, Uncategorized

Fun with Autocorrect

  /   Saturday, October 28, 2023   /   Comments(0)

Autocorrect on my iOS devices is often annoying. I might be trying to write a proper name or something known mostly in Catholic circles, and it changes what I wrote to something else. Sometimes it does it three or four times. I’ve also yet to figure out why it capitalizes e-mail addresses on my iPad when I use my physical keyboard.

I’ve seen a web site that shows some supposedly funny things the autocorrect produces, but many of those are rather risqué. So, I had some better ones I wanted to share just for fun.

I recently bought some adjustable dumbells. However, my iPad apparently thought that I now have “adjustable dumbness” as it corrected one of my entries to this. I’m wondering why I’d want to adjust that.

Last week, I needed to register for a one day retreat. Before hitting send, I realized that instead of telling the person in charge that I had sent in my registration, autocorrect was going to tell her that I had sent in my resignation. No, folks, I didn’t quit my job.

This next one is a bit harder to understand unless you are Catholic and know people in religious life. Members of orders use post-nominal letters after their name. For example, a Dominican will use “O.P.” The name will be written as “Fr Firstname Lastname, O.P.” Benedictines use “O.S.B.” However, a sister once told me that the autocorrect rearranged the letters to say “S.O.B.” Whoops!

Category: Uncategorized

And Then There Was Summer . . .

  /   Saturday, May 27, 2023   /   Comments(0)

If you have kids, and they are not already on summer break, they probably will be soon.  I’m pretty grateful to have made it here.  It seems we push academics pretty hard around here, but I think it’s good to take a step back.  Academics are not the only way to learn, and for many things, they are not the best means.  They certainly should not be treated as the ultimate key to success.

This is our chance during the summer for the kids to learn what they can’t learn as well in a classroom.  The kids may go to summer camps or mission trips (not to mention vacations), and these are good.  Even just taking time to socialize with each other provides a great opportunity.  I hope to take my sons out on some bike rides during the summer just to get them out and active.  All of these are valuable opportunities that we don’t want to lose.

I think of this when I remember that there was a drive in my home town to increase the length of the school year by 20 days.  It was touted as a great opportunity to improve education in our town.  I don’t think that was really the case, and I still don’t think so.  I’m ready for my kids to experience more out of classroom growth.

Category: Uncategorized

Life to the Full

  /   Sunday, April 30, 2023   /   Comments(0)

I just love the ending to the Gospel reading for today’s Mass. Jesus said he came so that we might have life and have it to the full. It’s a great reminder when our culture is constantly telling us that Christianity is oppressive or hateful. It’s also a great reminder when we are tempted to sin and maybe questioning why we can’t do what we are tempted to do. If Jesus came for us to have life to the full, then anything we try to do that offends him is not part of living life to the full.

Virtue is known to lie in the middle way. That means that virtue often lies in between two vices. One of them would to be to indulge our appetites, whatever they may be. We may experience some kind of pleasure like this, but it will be empty. We will become a slave to our passions. Ultimately, we will be so soft that we won’t be able to accomplish anything worthwhile.

However, there are plenty of people in our culture who are caught in the opposite vice, and maybe we have been at some point. We are caught in this when we are constantly working and constantly busy and fail to enter into his rest. Human beings are not machines and are not made to be continually working. Time needs to be taken for us to worship Our Lord, to be with the people around us when we aren’t trying to accomplish something, and to get some wholesome recreation.

Jesus will show us, even in the most difficult times, how we can live joyfully and live life to the full. Sometimes it requires more trust than others. Of course, the real fullness of life will come only when we are with him in Heaven. There we will know perfectly the fullness of life that he came to give us.

Category: Spirituality, Uncategorized

A Word About Winter in the South

  /   Thursday, February 02, 2023   /   Comments(0)

I’m a little late here considering the events at the end of January, but I really wanted to write this one. If you are from some state like Minnesota or New York or New Jersey, you would likely be laughing at us when we talk about winter weather in the South. While you are probably still going while under a foot of snow, an inch of snow can completely shut us down. I used to joke that you could go throw ice cubes in front of a school building, and they’d call off school. While there can be snow days even far north of us, we sometimes have “it might snow” days. I have seen school called off only to have absolutely no snow fall.

You see, we live in a place where you can still go swimming in September or maybe even October. Most of the time, what people north of us call “snow removal,” we call “just wait for the next day.” It doesn’t snow all that much here, and today, even in February, we are expecting temperatures in the 60s. There are few snow plows down here, so even a small amount of snow will shut down a lot of the city until it melts. It usually does pretty quickly, but we’ve seen it linger on our neighborhood streets, which no one ever cleans, for a week.

It works just fine as a trade off for me. I am not a winter weather person. I’ll take the warmer climate any day. However, I do like to travel to the north when it’s summer and it’s almost 100 degrees with 120% humidity.

Category: Fun Stuff, Uncategorized

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

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