Friday, October 28, 2011

The Power of Words and Doing God's Work

Word Cloud for my Catholic Blog
I made a world cloud at for this blog. You just feed it the url and Wordle does the rest. It seems to mainly take into account the most recent posts.

Looking at the most prominent words, I got to thinking about the power of words. Which words I'm placing in my blog, in my current novel in progress, and which words I allow to flow from my mouth or onto my Facebook wall. Do I want to set off my liberal friends with my pro-life views? Sometimes debates are sparked. That's healthy, but exhausting at times because I know the power of words. When the issues are important, the words should be accurate, honest, and compassionate. Ideally, my words in every conversation should be. Though there's plenty of room/time for silly, fun words as well.

So, how about that novel of mine? Is that God's work as much as a pro-life FB debate or a blog whose purpose is to welcome Catholics back into the Church? In three words- it should be.
Word Cloud for my Work In Progress Twelve Keys

St. Therese the Little Flower wrote, "What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love." Everything we do should be for the love of God and love for our fellow humans. Remember Jesus says in Matthew 22:37-40:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.

So, again, I ask myself- this novel of mine- in it, am I doing God's work? I had better be. Just as I'd better be doing God's work when I homeschool my kids, cook dinner, clean the house, interact with other people in the world. Do I do it well all the time? Of course not. But I owe it to my God and my neighbor to try.

I wonder, if I did a word cloud of all of my words and thoughts and deeds of a single day, what would populate it? What would populate yours?

Something to think about.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Christian Review: The Night Circus A Novel

LOL After writing how it's not for kids, I had one of my kids hold it so I could take this pic.

I just finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It's a captivating creation--a canvas of words painting vivid pictures, with a story that will take you by the hand, not setting you free until you learn what becomes of the characters in the tale. However, for a Christian, it holds some problems.

I should say, for a young newly forming Christian, it could hold problems. A mature person, already firm in her/his faith could enjoy the fairytale atmosphere, remembering that the magic is part of the life of the book and no more.

At this point in the book review, I'll mention, for those new to my blog, I'm a wildly geeked out Harry Potter fan, not at all paranoid my children will be drawn by Harry into the world of paganism. So, I don't come from that place. In Harry Potter, magic is tool that some people have at their disposal. In The Night Circus, it is something else.

I'll trust you've read the synopsis over at Amazon or elsewhere and you're just here to get a Christian take on it.

Okay, well, you wouldn't be handing The Night Circus to your little ones (some adult themes), but your teens may want to pick it up. I wouldn't recommend it unless they were very firm in their faith.

Tarot and other divination methods are well respected and are a central theme in the novel. In Harry Potter, if you'll recall, Trelawney was a joke and her divination didn't work, at least not on demand. She only foretold events spontaneously, or so it seemed. It always happened at fortunate moments. God's planning?

Magic, in The Night Circus can be learned by anybody. The dénouement (or rather the scene Morgenstern sticks on there after the dénouement) rambles a bit (quite unlike the rest of the book) and involves a character explaining to another how there are no battles anymore between good and evil (moral relativism anyone?) and it's not really magic and few people take time to note it. "Not a one of them even has an inkling of the things that are possible..."

The other responds, "But some people can be enlightened." The conversation sounds suspiciously like a new age or neo-pagen lesson that the author has patched at the end of an otherwise elegant story.

And it is an elegant story. Morgenstern's descriptions express as much detail as The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (an illustrated novel about an orphaned clock keeper, which you should totally read!) but she does it in words instead of pictures. Her use of omniscient narrator and occasional use of second person, addressing "you" is brilliant. It's told in present tense with little dialogue, giving the story a sense of immediacy.

I make the comparison between The Night Circus and Hugo Cabret because of the steampunk elements in The Night Circus. The characters sometimes blend their magic with clockworks. I find that playful in a Mr.Magorium kind of way.

But the Night Circus isn't all light-hearted. At the core, I found it ominous. There's more going on than meets the eye. The tone set up in the beginning of the novel informs us what sort of book this is. After her mother kills herself, a girl who clearly possesses magic, is sent to live with her rather cold father. When the grey suited man comes to call, certain events are set into motion that change the course of that little girl's life.

But, even with the creep factor, it's an enchanting book that begs to be delved into and adored. There's even a built in fan "uniform." People who follow the circus around, called rêveurs, wear red scarves.

If I have a vote, however-- I'd rather my teen stick to her Gryffindor scarf.

A side note: If you're interested in reading an article on the Incompatibility of New Age philosophy/religion with Christianity, you may like "Jesus Christ: The Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on The New Age" at the Vatican web site. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Pro-Life Story

I got this little story off of facebook. I think it's a good illustration of the pro-life stance. Some might say it's simple- not addressing such issues like "the life of the mother" etc.
First of all, most abortions are not about the life or health of the mother. And most of the time she's not pregnant because she was raped.
Well, what if she were raped? Should we make two victims where we had one? Her baby wasn't the perpetrator of the crime any more than the wife battering husband's baby was the perpetrator of wife abuse and we wouldn't kill that child.
As for the life of the mother, we are not allowed to murder an innocent person, period. Now, certain procedures, such as removing the fallopian tubes in an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, are morally acceptable because the procedure is not directly attacking the baby. The doctor is removing the infected tissue which, sadly, contains the baby. Please see this article at Catholic United for The Faith  or this one from EWTN written by Edwin F. Healy for more information on the ethics of treating ectopic and other non-viable pregnancies.
Oh, and one more thing- should you be in this unfortunate situation (as patient- tough spot because you may be unconscious-maybe a spouse?, doctor, or nurse) don't forget to baptise the baby. I know many nurses keep holy water just in case, but it doesn't have to be blessed to work. Anyway, the Healy article addresses this.
*As always, you can find the Rachel's Vineyard website link on my sidebar. They offer healing after abortion for both men and women. 
random pic of two of my girls having tea (has nothing to do with today's post)
Now, on to the little facebook story.
A worried woman went to her doctor and said:

'Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 year old and I'm pregnant again. I don't want kids so close together.'

So the doctor said: 'Ok and what do you want me to do?'

She said: 'I want you to end my pregnancy, and I'm counting on your help with this.'

The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: 'I think I have a better solution for your problem. It's less dangerous for you too.'

She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request.

Then he continued: 'You see, in order for you not to have to take care of 2 babies at the same time, let's kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we're going to kill one of them, it doesn't matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you chose the one in your arms.'

The lady was horrified and said: 'No doctor! How terrible! It's a crime to kill a child!'

'I agree', the doctor replied. 'But you seemed to be OK with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.'

The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point.

He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that's already been born and one that's still in the womb. The crime is the same!

If you agree, please SHARE.

Together we can help save precious lives!

Love says, 'I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person.' Abortion says, 'I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself.'

By: Life is Dangerous: Let's Ban It
There you go.  I think this story makes a good point.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sacrificing Mothers in Movies and Literature

Normally I don't put the same post in both of my blogs, but in this case it seemed fitting. It's a a post I wrote for my writing blog, about sacrificing mothers in stories. I think that's a beautiful heroic character to include in literature and film. And it seems a good post for Respect Life Month in my Catholic blog. So, enjoy! 

One of the most kick-tail hero/heroine types is the sacrificing parent. I'll focus on mothers today. Mothers like, Ellen Ripley (Aliens), Lilly Potter (Harry Potter), Sarah Conner (Terminator). Film and literature are littered with them. I'll mainly discuss two- Ellen Ripley and Lily Potter.
From The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Why do we admire these characters as heroes? What qualities do they exhibit? Bravery, love, fierce loyalty, the ability to focus on somebody other than themselves. All qualities we hope to possess. Qualities we hope we'd find within ourselves when faced with terrifying dangers- be that alien attacks, Voldemort, or the threat of machines taking over the world.
from "Aliens"

Okay, that's fantasy. Let's take it to a realistic level. How about earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or war? All of these situations can bring out your character's inner heroine.

Or perhaps a more personal tragedy like a car wreck, job loss, illness, or crisis pregnancy. Maybe those aren't as glamorous as flicking wands with Deatheaters, but they can be just as taxing.

I think heroes, such as the sacrificial mother, kicking serious booty to protect her child (or another's child, as is in the case in "Aliens") stirs our own inner hero and helps us feel more prepared to take on challenges. I don't know about you, but when I'm thinking about somebody else, I'm less worried about my own tail and can think more about getting the job done.

Let's look at each of these women:

Ripley (Aliens) has fifteen minutes to save a little girl, nickname Newt, before the space station explodes. The thing is, she has no real reason to believe the girl is alive. You see, they just saw the little girl fall down some... thing-- an air shaft I guess it was, and the aliens take her. Ripley goes to the ship and gets weapons to fight the aliens and rescue Newt all by herself.

She risks her own life for whom? A little girl she recently met and who probably already has an alien gestating inside her wee little body. And we love Ripley for it!

Lilly Potter (Harry Potter) is standing in the bedroom at their home in Godric's Hollow. She hears her husband get avada kedavra-ed and then Voldemort bursts into the room. There's no chance she can stand against old Voldipoo, but she'll try. She stands between the dark lord and her baby and pleads for his life.
From "Harry Potter"
Was it worth is?

Ripley lives and, miraculously, the little girl was able to be rescued. Though she dies in the next film. However, knowing that, doesn't make her heroics any less beautiful. We're petrified along with Ripley as she stands there holding Newt amid the alien pod egg things. Not for a heartbeat do we wish she'd left the girl behind. So, yeah, it was worth it.

Lilly Potter dies and Harry survives. Nobody says, "Foolish lady. She should have stepped aside, saved herself, and run off with Snape, living happily ever after." Not even the Snape-Lilly shippers say that! Lilly's lauded as a loving mommy hero. Heck yeah, that sacrifice was worth it.

In both of these stories, we cheer for the sacrificial mommies and fear/hate the bad guy monster types.

I focused on action scenes in science fiction/fantasy, but in some books and movies, the protagonist faces realistic obstacles, such as poverty or domestic abuse. But she's just as much of a hero when she selflessly puts her child first.

P.S. * Language warning-
Have you ever noticed how Ripley's line to the alien queen, "Get away from her, you bitch!" is reminiscent of Molly's Weasley's line to Bellatrix, "Not my daughter, you bitch!"?  Just an observation. Sorry about the language. ;-)
Ripley and Molly - as they give their famous lines ;)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October is Respect Life Month

10 week gestation

People (well, some people), say you can do whatever you want with your body. A Christian knows that's not true. God has set down guidelines for our own good, just as any loving parent does. We are not to give in to certain temptations of the flesh such as gluttony, fornication, etc.

And we are certainly not supposed to murder. A Christian (or Jewish- because that's where we originally got the Commandments) person should know this. Whether that other human is currently housed in your womb or outside of your womb makes no difference. Murder is murder. "Ratsakh" in Hebrew. (That would make a great name for a villain, wouldn't it?)

Since the first century, the Church has been stating that abortion is wrong, so this isn't something newly filed under the heading of "murder."

October is Respect Life Month, so "Happy Respect Life Month!"
Umbert the Unborn (click here to check out his site for super pro-life cartoons)

Read about Respect Life Month at the EWTN website.

Learn about Cupcakes for Life, on Oct. 9th.

Watch this awesome video by a pro-life teen. She'll get you fired up to take some action. :)

I like this site to learn about and see pictures of the stages of an unborn baby's gestation. You can see she or he has a little brain and eyelids at only 8 weeks! :)

At sites such as Priests for Life you can buy pro-life books, shirts, and posters (such as the one below that shows the names of women who were killed in LEGAL abortions.)

Or where I got my bumper sticker. It looks like this one.

*links to image sources are in the image captions unless I otherwise noted the sources- like- it was a product you could buy. :)