Thursday, December 8, 2016

My New Boyfriend

I love Pope Francis so much. Isn't he amazing?  He is so gentle, and honest. He has a sense of humor and is so smart and direct in addressing issues of real consequence. I totally want him to be my boyfriend.
Isn't he so cute?
When I tell this to people, they say to me, "Claire, I don't think you can to date the Pope."

You know what?  I don't need that kind of negativity in my life.

Pope Francis' messages of peace and love have been such a relief. He is the antidote to the acrid atmosphere Trump has created. I think it's intentional; I think he is intentionally trying to articulate a point by point admonition of Trump's agenda. He's addressed "building walls", and climate change, and now spreading fake news, and he just nails it everytime. Even if he doesn't specifically have Trump in mind when addressing these issues he is still addressing the current political discourse in real time, and I just love him for it. It's so comforting. I just want to curl up next to him and take a nap.
I'm not just infatuated with him as a leader who is the voice of sanity amongst the wave of ignorance and fear. That's most of my infatuation, but not all of it. It is also just so nice that he is a Catholic leader. He is a public figure, proclaiming the word of God in words and deeds, and speaking the Truth about what I think my faith is. It is just so refreshing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bible Cliff Notes

This thread from Redditt went viral some time back. It speaks to my last post about people just being terrible, terrible, terrible, but, we like them anyway.

God: All right, you two, don’t do the one thing. Other than that, have fun.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
Satan: You should do the thing.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
God: What happened!?
Adam & Eve: We did the thing.
God: Guys….. 
God: You are my people, and you should not do the things.
People: We won’t do the things.
God: Good.
People: We did the things.
God: Guys….. 
Jesus: I am the Son of God, and even though you have done the things, the Father and I still love you and want you to live. Don’t do the things anymore.
Healed people: Okay! Thank you!
Other people: We’ve never seen him do the things, but he probably does the things when no one is looking.
Jesus: I have never done the things.
Other people: We’re going to put you on trial for doing the things.
Pilate: Did you do the things?
Jesus: No.
Pilate: He didn’t do the things.
Other people: Kill him anyway.
Pilate: Okay.
Jesus: Guys….. 
People: We did the things.
Paul: Jesus still loves you, and because you love Him, you have to stop doing the things.
People: Okay. 
People: We did the things again.
Paul: Guys….. 
John: When Jesus comes back, there will be no more people who do the things. In the meantime, stop doing the things.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

We Are The Reason We Can't Have Nice Things

     Election day was really hard. I think it was hard for anyone against Trump - anyone who, you know, loves humanity. For me, it was the first day in a very, very long time that my day began and ended with epic sobbing. The day started off with Pavone and his stomach turning stunt performed on the altar of a Church, and ended with...well, the rise of the anti-Christ.

      Jesus Christ, people are the worst.

      I don't know about you, but Election Day really made me question participating in any kind of social interaction at all, ever. I was just desperate to find a way to escape the hatred, and bigotry and fear and hubris. Ugh. Truthfully, a large portion of me continues to want to take my family and escape and run. Just go and be...away. But of course that can't happen. Where would we go?

      Fortunately, I had some preparation for this kind of disappointment. Christianity is firmly founded on the idea that people are just terrible and cannot be trusted to make their own decisions. This is basically one of the two central tenants of our Church. While not a very uplifting message, it does prepare you for some of the harsh realities of practical life: People are cowardly, greedy morons that will betray you the moment things get tough. Suck it up buttercup.
     Yeah, it was a rough day for me.

     But I can't stay that way for long. I mean- how could I ? It's not like I can hide away from everyone, filled with hate and fear for other people. Lots of people do that, and frankly, they don't seem like they are very happy. I guess I'm too much of an optimist. I was raised Catholic, know.

      While one central tenants of Catholicism is the idea that people are miserable, the founding tenant is that there is an eternal truth: people can be saved through God. That's not to say a man in the sky is going to point his finger and save us all. I think it really means the way out of the gross is by trusting that people are good; that there is justice, and beauty. Happiness comes through remembering that there is real beauty in humanity. While a large part of being human is a struggle, there are truly heart wrenching, awe-striking moments. There are times when I look at my kids sleeping, and I want to fall to my knees. There have been moments when Amani and Warren have been so kind to each other that I have actually started tearing up. People are good. They do love each other and want to do the right thing. We try to make each other laugh, and take genuine pleasure in one another and the world around them. We cooperate and share. We fight for each other and sacrifice for one another. Deep in our hearts, we know that we are good, and fighting for the good is the only thing worth doing.

      I think the Fathers of the Church and the founding fathers subscribed to this same notion. They both started with the premise, "You guys are idiots", and then worked around that. Both the fathers of the Constitution and the founders of the Church we thoughtful, intelligent men and they decided that trusting humanity to fight for justice was the only way forward. Okay, so neither group actually trusted "humanity", as much as they trusted old, rich men, but the Church and the country are still trying to sort all that out. The basic premise remains.

     I think the main thing is to keep fighting. Keep shouting. Be fierce. You can't let people drag you down into the foulness. I love the line from Cohen's Hallelujah "Love is not a victory parade. It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah".

You know if Leonard Cohen said it, it's an eternal truth.

I am saying this only to remind myself. Otherwise I am starting a small group of hostile hunter gatherers in the Target parking lot.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pavone and his ilk: Get away from our children, and get out of our Church.

     Just wanted to dash of a little note of thanks to Frank Pavone of New York. I was worried that I might spend the days biting my nails about the election, but now I am far too busy screaming, throwing things and booking my flight to New York so I can personally punch Pavone in the face.
Whew! It's going to be a busy day.
     I shouldn't make light of this. What this man did is beyond levity. I can't even begin to describe it, or link to it, or - well, I'd say think about it, but thinking about his heretical actions has pretty much consumed my day.
I am familiar with Pavone. I am familiar with him because he is a leader amongst those in the Catholic Church that hold abortion as the preeminent moral issue of our time. I have known for some time that he is a...jerk...shall we say? I even quoted him in my post about Catholics that support Trump. However, his most recent atrocity goes beyond radicalism. It goes beyond sacrilege. It goes beyond human decency.  Some bloggers are fuming about his treatment of human remains. Other prominent Catholic bloggers are fuming about Pavone desecrating the altar because he used it for purposes other than Communion; as if that were among the serious issues at hand. But that is not what has upset me the most.  Pavone's unspeakable stunt is not the actions of some ghoulish priest. He is representative of the views of many within the Church. The hypocrisy is there for all to see. Did Pavone dress the child, or cradle him? Did he place it in a coffin to honor its life and the sacrament of death? Did he cherish the child as a individual life, a blessed child of God? No. He tossed it in front of a camera like a hunk of meat and put the video up on YouTube.
    I know that I have ranted before about the misogynist,spiteful philosophy within virulent pro-life movement is an element of the demonic. Pavone's actions serve to make my point. This movement does not hold life sacred. It has no interest in protecting the children of God. This movement simply uses the bodies of the unborn to stand on so they have a platform for their sanctimony. It flails and condemns and screams to drown out its fear and insecurity.
This all needs to stop. It is madness.
Pavone needs to be removed from duty, and the heretics need to get out of our Church.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Catholic leadership and grabbing p^$$y

Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.
     I need your help. I need counsel. Archbishop Aquila has brought me to my knees in anger, outrage and despair. This shit. This unholy excrement that has spewed from a leader of our Church is so untenable that it has, once again, made me question whether or not I should stay in the Church of my faith.
     In his article, Archbishop Aquila addresses how Catholics should vote. While he begins by saying, "vote your conscience", he then goes on to outline why Catholics should "respect life", and vote for the party that will respect life. His message is very clear: vote for Trump.
     I cannot. I cannot. I cannot.
     Respect for human life? I believe that human life begins with conception, but it doesn't end when the child is born.
     Stoking hate and fear as a campaign technique is not respect for life. Exploiting women for entertainment is not respect for human life. Hoping that the economy crashes and people are forced out of their homes in not a respect for life. "There are some issues that can legitimately be debated by Christians, such as which policies are the most effective in caring for the poor, but the direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed at all times by every follower of Jesus Christ." Certainly, the direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed. Apparently, Aquila doesn't seem to think that actively advocating the direct killing of terrorist's family members counts as killing innocents. Sure, Catholics can debate the methods for helping the poor; we cannot debate the VALUE of the poor. The Republican candidate has made it VERY clear that he does not respect the poor. "Respect life" is not what what Aquila is defending.
     Church leadership's tunnel vision with regards to abortion and homosexuality is beyond misguided or ignorant. It is rooted in fear and hubris. It is not repect for life: it is a desire to punish women who make their own choces, and it feeds hatred, fear and death.
In Chicago, a doctor refused to remove an IUD from a women who was bleeding and in severe pain because the doctor believed that the Church prevented her from relating to a contraceptive device. I don't believe that the doctor's "hands were tied". If she had given it anythought at all, she would have realized that obviously, Church leadership WANTS people to stop using birth control and would promote the removal of an IUD. No, instead, I believe this doctor was punishing the woman. She fed off the unspoken message from the Church that women should be punished for controlling their own reproduction.
     This is not a isolated case. In Michigan, a woman's water broke at 18 weeks pregnant. The fetus was non-viable, but the docotr's would not protect the woman's life by removing the fetus. A Catholic hospital would not tie the tubes of a women with a brain tumor, even though pregnancy would unquestionably complicate her care. There have been at least two cases where young girls have been denied saftey and care in Catholic shelters because they sought abortions.  This is not the protection of human life: it is virgin sacrifice reworked and sold as piety. It is bullshit.
     Aquila echoes Church leadership's stance that the "right to life", i.e. fighting abortion, is the predominant issue for Catholics: not spreading love, not fighting ignorance, not promoting compassion, caring for the poor or marginilized. On the other hand, Aquila notes that "the further we move away from Jesus Christ and his teachings, the more will our churches empty." Perhaps he should consider that when promoting the Repulican nominee.
Talkme down guys. Talk me down. How can I match the leadership's stance with my faith?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Shaping Dragon Bread for Michaelmas

     Everybody knows my conviction that no holiday is complete without complex carbohydrates. Michaelmas celebrates the coming of fall, and therefore includes lots of fall foods. If you have a faimly that enjoys things like goose, cooked carrots and raosted apples, you are in for a treat. While all those things sound amazingly delicious to me, there was no way that my todders would have allowed any of that to even come near the table. We could have gone with blackberries, but by the time September 29th rolled around, the devil had already spit into our blackberry bushes, so there couldn't be any blackberries in our celebration either.
     Thank God for sweet breads, amIright? We didn't have the ingredients necessary for the traditional Michael's Bannock, but we were able to touch on the same ideas by making Amish white bread. I especially like the idea of the rising bread as a symbol of waiting through a long winter. Plus, you get to work with the dough like it is playdough, and then eat dragon. Pretty super all around.
     I was able to find lot of resources on celebrating Michaelmas, including recipes for the on how to make the dough, but I wasn't able to find how to shape the bread into a dragon. Here is how I made mine.
I first broke the dough apart so both kids and I got our own chunk. Then I pulled off about a fourth of mine for the head and feet, and rolled the rest into a worm shape.

Next, I coiled the worm shape around with the skinny end inside the coil. I then shaped a bit (about 2/3) of the remaining dough into a tear drop.
Next, I shaped the last remainig bits of the dough for legs and arranged the head and legs on the pan.

I found a poking instrument and poked eyes and nose into the face. I poked pretty deeply to account for the rising in the oven.
With scissors, I cut into the bread to make ears and scales along his back. I made the cuts the deepest and longest in the center and smaller towards the ends. I made them deeper than I though looked right because I knew that the bread would rise and fill them out a pit. I cut a raisin in half and pushed them into the face. Again, deeper is better.

Ouf first try the bread rose quite a bit and the dragons looked a little like they had to go on weight watchers. I tried again and this time let the dough rise twice like the recipe suggested, and it turned out much better.

Our Family Michaelmas Celebration

     Around here, fall fell with a thud. When we left for home for a trip back east in late August, the sun was shining and the temps were in the eighties.  The very moment we got back from our sweltering vacation, the temerpatures dropped in Seattle and the leaves began to change. However, I was so excited about celebrating Michaelmas this year that I insisted that it was officially fall until September 29th. Half of celebrating a holiday is beng excited to celebrate it, so I took every opportunity to remind them it WASN'T Michaelmas.
     "Well, it sure looks like fall, but it's not Maichaelmas yet."
     "The devil has already spit in these blackberries. Michaelmas must be coming."
    "Put your shoes on. It's going to be Michaelmas soon so it's getting cold out."
     "Eat your chicken. Also, this is not Michaelmas."

     I was so excited about Michaelmas because it is a completely exciting and kid-friendly holiday. Why have all these awesome holidays fallen out of favor? It doesn't make any sense! Michaelmas is the Catholic celebration of the the coming of fall. Although it supposed to be a celebrations of all the archangels, from what I can tell it mostly centers around Michael, the head in God's army. Michael is a total badass and goes around fighting Satan and dragons, and human's enemies. During Michaelmas, we remember that hard times are ahead: cold, sickness, hunger, ets. It's easy to get cranky. Hence, a celebration of Michael to help us remember to be patient, hard working, and cooperative. 
     Because Warren's name and middle name both mean "defender", I tell Warren that St. Michael's day is his special day as well. Warren's patron saint is supposedly Saint Guarino. However, Guarino is A) not Warren's name, and B) a priest who regularly ran away and hid to avoid responsibility. Thanks, but I think we'll go with the angel who carries a giant sword and
fights draons instead.
     There are lots of stories about St. Michael, because, everyone loves stories but no one wants to hear stories about a saint that leaps out of windows and runs away. Hence, Michael gets a lot of stories and Guarino gets ignored. As one story goes, a dragon, ie Satan, landed in the world and tormented people. His clouds of smoke blocked out the sun, and the Earth became cold. The people of Earth became hungry sick and cold and locked themselves away in their homes. They didnt want to help each other, or share. The world fell into despair. Michael taught the people to work together to fight the dragon and save the planet.
     Funnily enough, this is the story of one of Amani's favorite episodes of My Little Pony. One difference between the stories is that instead of working together to fight the dragon, the ponies fight off their antagonists by sharing, laughing and learning to smooth out their differences. I frankly think that is a more meaningful ending, so when I told Amani the story, I combined the two.

Saint Michael comes down and tells people to overcome the dragon's power. The people think this means they have to learn to fight, so they spend time training and making weapons. However, eventaully the people get tired and frustrated with one another, and begin to use their fighting skills on each other. Saint Michael comes down again and says that the people didn't understand his meaning. To overcome the dragon they must learn to make music together (a task that takes a lot of organization, teamwork and sharing) and travel up the mountain so they can soothe the dragon. Through their singing, sharing and laughing, (the people help one another and laugh with each other as they try to climb the mountain to the dragon's lair) they show the dragon how wonderful love is. The dragon decided to be their friend, and the world was warmed.
     Some people tell this story while making Michael's Bannock, a bread made into the shape of a dragon. There is a traditional recipe for the bread with all kinds of fall grains, but I was pretty sure no one in my family would eat it. We made Amish white bread and it worked just as well. I wrote a separate post to show you how we shaped the bread if you want to try it. My kids named their dragons Tuffy, Dragonighta and Baby. Amani took dragon head to school for lunch, which I thought was pretty cool.
We didn't get a chance to do the Michaelmas craft I wanted to do because Warren was sick and Amani went to a friend's house. No big deal. We can always do it next year. Overall, I definitely think that the kids will remember it and will look forward to it next year.