Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Really, Really Last Post for a While...

You know that feeling when you can't leave the house for a trip until you re-check the stove and coffee maker?  No?  Well, anyway, this kind of falls into that category.  I couldn't abandon my little venture for days and days without sharing some very exciting news.  

If all goes according to plan, this blog will soon feature a special actor/director/writer interview.  Depending on the mystery guest's schedule, it will likely appear in late July or early August. 

If all goes well, the hope is to interview a well known figure every month, or so.  With several notable exceptions, I'll be trying to steer clear of writers, as I have a friend with the Catholic Writer's Guild who already does a fine job on those.  

We'll also likely have a book giveaway (possibly one Tristan's Travels plus a title associated with one of the guest's current projects). Giveaway will be open to those following my blog--and, for practicality purposes, only if there are new followers between now and the time of the interview.  Also, it's not open to family or immediate friends, I'm afraid.  More details coming in July.  So, please tell your friends to stop by, "follow," and enjoy.  (I hope.) 

In the meantime, please go have a terrific summer.  Happy 4th!  Now, I'm really leaving...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Spirtual Fidelity & Father Corapi

The other day I wrote an open letter to Father Corapi, which prompted some interesting feedback.  I thought it might be interesting to share an example of some of the strange and incoherent responses my blog has elicited.

"do you recall the gospel, when our lord asked god, 2 take this cup from him, and then he said your will not mine, fr.corapi, is obeying the will of god !!!!!! do you also recall,when our lord said, father forgive them for they know not what they do !!! fr.corapi is doing the same. a lamb 2 the slaughter !!!! and if it was not for ewtn,i would have never heard or seen father."

There's obviously a lot of confusion in this person's mind.  Sometimes in situations like this, the best approach is to simplify or distill the central elements of the discussion in such a way that perhaps it will help readers see it in a new light.  That being the case, let's explore a hypothetical scenario, for example.

Let's say that a married friend comes to you for advice.  He admits that he's been unfaithful with a woman (or women), and he doesn't know what to do.  After speaking with him for a few minutes, you decide to share a piece of your mind.  As a Catholic, you point out the imperative need for him to repent and confess--both to his wife and his priest.  You remind him of the sacred nature of marriage, and that, as one of the Seven Sacraments, the husband and wife are bound to each other for life.

Like the unfaithful husband, the priest who turns his back upon his solemn promise before God and man in the sacrament of holy orders places his soul in peril.  The priest is being unfaithful to his Church and God.

As Al Kresta pointed out in his insightful blog today, excusing a wayward priest by suggesting he's particularly gifted is akin to saying that the Church was holding the man back.  To declare that the man is more important than the Church, however,  is to embark on a pathway heading straight to the morass of moral relativism.  No priest is above the Church just as surely as no husband can disregard his marriage vows as he wishes.  It's time for some obedience and humility here.

Sadly, I'm seeing many otherwise good people contort themselves every which way as they try to excuse or rationalize Father (for how much longer?) Corapi.  The alleged offenses now pale in comparison with the destructive aftermath unleashed by this black sheepdog, as he calls himself.

I pray for Father Corapi, but, at this point, I believe there's an even greater need to pray for those who are being led astray by his words.  One thing seems to be sure, he's not the man we thought he was.

Readers, I'll see you again in a couple weeks, or so.  God bless.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

An Open Letter to Father Corapi

I'm filled with sadness over the whole Father Corapi business.  I am sharing an open letter to him here.  For more information on the situation, I'd suggest you visit the collection of commentary at The

Fr. John Corapi,
Years ago, your words and the clarion call to to live a life of holiness were a great encouragement and ministry to our family when we crossed the Tiber.  The Tiber waters were often rough as we exchanged friends and a comfortable, predictable spiritual life for a new future filled with questions and anxieties.  Your sermons helped to open our hearts to the beauty and majesty of the Catholic Church, reminding us of what it means to follow Christ's voice--even when the voice calls us to hardship.  
Part of what it means to be Catholic is to appreciate that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves.  In short, it's not about us; it's about Him.  As someone who received a letter once from an imprisoned priest, I think I have the tiniest inkling of what you (and other priests and bishops) face in trying times such as these.  
Still, it seems that something within your response and your declaration to leave the priesthood adds credence to your accusers and those vocal critics--the ones saying that they knew this was coming, for instance.   Worst still perhaps, your departure means that priests facing real persecution for preaching the Gospel have one less earthly model to look to for comfort and encouragement.
We are not your fans.  We are fellow followers of Christ in battle for our own spirtual well-being as well as the souls walking beside us each and every day of our lives.  We don't know these people most of the time, but, as C.S. Lewis wrote, each one of these strangers is an immortal soul--destined to spend eternity in one of two places.  Is what's being done to you unfair and unjust?  Perhaps so, but why would you leave the priesthood over mere accusations?  If it is untrue, aren't we called upon to fight untruth with every fiber of our being?  
You seem to be surrendering a battle long-fought.  I would encourage you, instead, to offer the pain up to Christ and His Holy Mother Mary and take up your personal cross to fight the good battle of faith.  If you do so in humility and grace, your brothers and sisters in Christ will welcome you with open arms. 
I pray that the love of God rest with you always.  God bless.

PS.  In a completely different vein, please see the announcement at Tristan's Travels.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Classy Reprimand

I've never written a blog on the entertainment industry...but, as a guy who sometimes enjoys watching NBC's 30 Rock,  I had to say a few words about Tina Fey's recent reprimand of Tracy Morgan.  While I don't agree with the homosexual lifestyle, and I believe it's wrong, this isn't an excuse to say rude or threatening comments.  That being the case, I feel that Tina's reprimand of Tracy concerning his disturbing statements of late hit a perfect tone between reprimand and humor.  

“I’m glad to hear that Tracy apologized for his comments. Stand-up comics may have the right to “work out” their material in its ugliest and rawest form in front of an audience, but the violent imagery of Tracy’s rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT Community.
“It also doesn’t line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person.
“I hope for his sake that Tracy’s apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian coworkers at “30 Rock”, without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket.
“The other producers and I pride ourselves on “30 Rock” being a diverse, safe, and fair workplace.”

By the way, the fact that this post about Tina Fey was preceded by one concerning Sarah Palin is purely coincidental--I think.  :) 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pet Peeves & Thankfulness

If your weeks are anything like mine, they're chock full o'nuts--and I am not referring to coffee here.  Now, don't get me wrong.  Whether we're talking about flakey people sleeping where they shouldn't (not talking homeless people here, but they might count, too), making noises best avoided in polite company, missing promised appointments, not responding to important messages, swerving directly in front of speeding fire trucks, or the occasional simple dimwit thrown in for good measure, no balanced list of pet peeves is restricted to people.  Take our cat, for instance.  

Being an inside cat, Buttercup's most sacred goal is ESCAPE.  She especially loves it when door to door salespeople come knocking early on Saturdays.  Once she bolts outside, she most often stops in the center of the front lawn and awaits her master's grumbling arrival to airlift her back to the comfortable confines of the indoors--and her kitty toys.  Believe it, or not, there are times when this behavior can present troublesome and inconvenient scenarios.  Sadly, it's difficult (but not altogether impossible) to place a cat on a proper timeout.  Anyway, this is how my cat often finds herself on the pet peeve list. 

The past week has been unusually full of an exciting number of pet peeves, and, sadly, I really can't elaborate here on most of them.  Don't worry, though, because the worst offenders will most likely find themselves in my writing at some future point.  In one form or another, the people who annoy me the most will live on to annoy my protagonists, too.  After all, I want to be fair and balanced about this whole thing called fiction.  Usually, though, I prefer my characters' more colorful solutions to my own non-solutions--i.e. keeping my mouth shut (for the most part anyway).

After a week of challenging people and situations all trying my patience in unique and unpleasant ways, it was nice to spend some quiet time in a park-like setting this weekend as I reflected on the past week's activities.  While things can be difficult, what I'm really struck by is the power of thankfulness.  I'm thankful, for instance, for God's blessings which include a wonderful family and a stable job or two. A strange little dream I had the other night also serves to illustrate another item for which I am thankful.

The dream went along these lines.  I was visiting a new church with someone.  Before taking my seat, I was handed a bowl of extremely fancy and assorted candies.  Coming into the church, I was struck with the movie theater feel of it.  The music was blaring and some kind of a video number was playing on the front screen.  I looked over at my "friend" (actually, no idea who it was) and asked him whether he really could worship there.  He pulled out his bulletin and pointed to the bottom where it read "Fried Chicken Social." Nodding, he observed, "Yes, that's what it's all about, my friend.  That's what it's all about."

So this dream reminds me in a lighthearted way of how good it is to be done with the church-shopping we did as Protestants for about one and a half decades of our marriage.  In short, it's good to be home.  Besides the spiritual meaning of home, there's also the physical place to consider.  In case you might have missed it, I am a very picky guy.  We've lived in humid Kansas and roasting Texas, as well as northern California and northwest Washington State before arriving in Salem, Oregon.  We're happy to have stayed put now in Oregon since 1996.  It's great to finally live in such a wonderful place--an hour, or so, from the mountains or high desert to the east and an hour from the beautiful Pacific Ocean to the west.  The lush green Willamette Valley of western Oregon is hard to beat, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to raise our family in a place we all enjoy so much.    

So, that's my prescription for battling pet peeves: thankfulness.  After all, it's hard to be simultaneously cynical or critical and thankful!