Exipure Update – January 7 2022

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As previously blogged (too lazy to link, but check out my previous posts) I am trying the Exipure product that claims to increase brown fat cells that, presumably, increase metabolism and weight loss. My starting weight was 216.1.

After a little less than three weeks I am now at 220.0. LOL

OK, in all fairness this was probably a bad time to do this because I cannot overstate how much garbage I have eaten over the Christmas and New Years holidays. I mean, I have completely abandoned my exercise program, I have not done my morning fast, and all matters of sugary substances have been on the table.

So, here are the options for what is happening:

  1. Exipure is working and I’d be in a lot worse position if I were not taking it
  2. Exipure isn’t really doing anything and I’ve gained the weight I deserve to have gained
  3. Exipure needs more time (they do recommend sticking with it for at least 90 days) to fully kick in and at the moment the positive effects are limited.

So, at this point I have no firm conclusion other than this: Exipure (at least at this stage) is not a magic bullet that can undo all nature of bad behavior. It is possible that it helps mitigate damage. It is possible that it will increase in efficacy over time. But for now, it’s Holidays 1, Exipure 0.

Spider-Man Thoughts

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Spoiler alert: don’t read unless you have either seen the movie or just don’t care…

As a young kid who grew up reading and loving Spider-Man, I have immensely enjoyed living in an age where technology allows these fictional heroes to come to life on the big screen without looking absolutely ridiculous. It has been a mostly positive experience, though as an avid purist of the original storyline, there are things about each of the movie series’ I just didn’t care for. Web shooting directly from the wrist. Young Aunt May. Changes to how the event happened, including how certain villains got their powers, and so on. But, given that movies often change up original writing the stories are based on, I learned to accept it. I’ve enjoyed the new Spider-Man character, but have to admit I am not overly thrilled with the now required DEI casting that makes MJ a multi-cultural non-redhead who is a brainiac on par with the genius Peter Parker. I have nothing against multi-cultural female brainiacs. But that wasn’t the MJ from Spider-Man. And while the storyline works fine, it’s just not Spider-Man.

So, Marvel found a way to explain away all these things in a clever and admittedly entertaining way – the Multiverse. Presumably, the real Spider-Man of the old comics hasn’t actually been on the big screen yet because there are deviations – some big, some small – from the Spidey of the comics. And I guess that’s OK, because there are really just an infinite number of Spideys out there and the three different movies are representations of three of those. If you count the cartoon about the Multiverse, it is four, I guess. Actually… more than four because we have a Spider pig, a Gwen Spidey-woman, and so on.

So, I guess the good news is the recent movie pulls the previous shows together and basically explains the differences away in a way that we now can all just accept and forget all about the original storyline. In a way, this works well and it was really pretty cool to bring them all together in this movie, working together, and solving the problem of the villains crossing the streams of the different universes within the multiverse. But in another way, this saddens me because I know how the minds of the people in Hollywood work and my expectation of future Marvel story lines is entirely pessimistic. The seeds of my pessimism have been sown already in Marvel’s willingness to embrace the very progressive wokism that is destroying everything in society that it touches.

I read a story last week about how Marissa Tormei lobbied to have Aunt May be a lesbian. But fear not… there wasn’t going to be an in-your-face, on-screen lesbian romp. It was just going to be some subtle thing that gave the implication. Because, you know, I guess that’s ground-breaking and extremely important. Except it isn’t. Maybe it was once a cutting edge, “courageous” statement to make for those who felt it important to mainstream gayness but that time was a decade or two ago. The move to make everything in the universe gay is no longer unique, it’s simply tired and forced. It’s an eye-rolling, progressive, woke yawner of a proposal that even the writers of Spidey must have determined was ridiculously stupid with no upside. But the very fact that such a lame idea was discussed, or that she felt compelled to share it as if it was something worthy of consideration speaks to how little all those involved with the Marvel movies actually care about sticking to anything rational, traditional or historically sensible within the Marvel Universe. Presumably, these breaks with tradition were already promoted – and in some cases already done – before the consideration of the Multiverse as the explanation of the differences came into being.

Now that we have this Multiverse thing thrown out as the explanation to everything that we don’t like about this character difference or that story line difference, get ready for the flood gates to open. What is a legitimately dumb proposal today upending the character roles in the Marvel Universe will get new attention. Because, just like progressivism in the world today, anything goes. In reality we’ve reached a point where if you think something is true today, then it’s not only true but everyone must acknowledge and accept it as true. If that is the case in the real world, just imagine the reckless abandon with which the fictional realm will go after everything previously understood about the characters we’ve grown to love with the Multi-verse in play.

In the new Multi-verse, surely there is a gay Spider-Man somewhere, and by God we had better find him. MJ will be Michael James, and Aunt May will transition to becoming Uncle Ben, living her best life as Peter’s Uncle in order to assuage the guilt of Ben’s death. Get ready for every perverse deviation from all traditional morality, family structure, sexual attraction, gender ideology, and all other normalcy and it will all just be waved off as “we’re really not rewriting Spider-Man at all. That one Peter Parker still exists in that backwards universe where men are men and women are women. We’re just telling a story about the new, better progressive Spider-Man, because this story needs to be told!”

I suppose I could be wrong. We’ll see.

Random Thoughts to End 2021

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1 – Why Do all international news correspondents have English accents?

2 – Possibly the dumbest thing ever invented that people actually seem to buy are those plastic straws with curves and hoops on them. I mainly just wish I would have thought of it.

3 – The Brewers’ showing in the playoffs this year showed me that Craig Counsel is a great in-season manager and a horrible post-season manager.

4 – I decided that one of my goals in life is to spend an inordinate amount of money on a car stereo.

5 – Introducing my older kids to Season One of 24: 2022 resolution

6 – Praying that the momentum in the Pro-Life movement not only continues in the courts and legislatures, but in the hearts and minds of the populace. Support your local Pregnancy Centers that are there to both encourage life-affirming options, but are able to actively assist in the transition to parenthood or adoption that decision entails. God bless all the good work these places do.

7 – I hope everyone is continuing to celebrate Christmas, and that 2022 is a year of transition to an increased person and communal faith in God that reverses some of the crazy trends we’ve seen over the last number of decades.

Exipure Experiment Update – 1 Week in

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Quick update. I started taking Exipure (see previous post) on Monday on 12/20, and weighed in on that day at 216.1. There’s context to my current weight that can be found in my 12/20 post. Note that I always weigh in after waking in the morning, prior to eating anything.

On 12/27, one week in, I weighed in at 216.8. The first inclination is to go “LOL” but I also need to be a it fair. This was over the Christmas holiday celebration, (Merry Christmas, by the way) and I take this celebration seriously! I only exercised one time during the week and didn’t do a whole lot else, below my baseline activity. I also cheated nearly every day on my typical fast-until-noon standard, and there was a good share of desserts and treats.

So, I’m not making excuses for the product, just being fair in presenting the context in which I gained a bit wile taking it.

While the Christmas Octave is upon us and I’m on vacation from work I will be celebrating and breaking my fast, so we’ll see what happens. I will track my progress with Monday weigh-ins (at least that’s my plan) and I will provide occasional updates accordingly.

My Exipure Experiment

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Well, I haven’t posted in over a year, but I am doing so now just because I want to honestly document a little personal experiment for anyone who may be interested.

OK, so Exipure is an herbal supplement with a supposedly proprietary formula that claims to increase brown fat cells. By doing so, apparently, these magical cells are what then drives metabolic weight loss.

So… I’m a pretty level-headed guy who looks at most things and sees them for what they are: overzealous claims that don’t pan out, or that do so with all sorts of caveats (e.g. “product only works with 12 hours of exercise per day…). But every now and then I get sucked into the marketing and claims like the uninfallible guy I am and if it makes just enough sense to me, I may throw caution to the wind and say, oh heck – why not? That’s kind of what I did here when I decided to order a three months supply of Exipure.

Also, I am not a dieter, nor have I ever tried something like this before. I have zero stake in this company, nor do I have (or will I have) any intentional link to the product in my post. (I say intentional because I have no control over how ads get placed on my posts, so if you see an ad, know that it’s by algorithm and not something I in any way benefit from) I find it annoying that whenever I try to find any legit opinions on these types of product, they all end up saying “It works! And you can buy it here!” That’s a conflict of interest. So, I just want to share the results of the experiment.

So, let me share where I am so we can see if this thing seems to work. Last Feb/March I weighed nearly 240 lbs. For the 2021 Lenten season I decided to fast every day until noon. Shortly thereafter my wife and I started walking 3 miles per day, nearly every day. When the weather turned I did a lot of outside work, and after Lent ended I decided to keep my “fast until noon” on most days. I did not significantly alter my diet during this time. By the end of August I weighed in at 212 lbs. Since then I have not consistently exercised, I’ve been working much more sedentary hours, and I was starting to get afraid to weigh myself again, fearing I had gained back half the weight I lost.

It was during this time that I happened to get sucked into this Exipure ad and I decided to just give it a shot and see what happens. Be a human guinea pig, if you will. Now, I’m not one to throw just random toxins in my body so I had to at least be convinced it wasn’t a bunch of chemical garbage that would kill me. While I cannot guarantee that I didn’t just buy a bottle of poison, I was convinced to the point of comfort that it was, indeed, a conglomeration of things that shouldn’t do me serious harm, and so I bought it.

I received my supply last weekend, and Monday December 20, 2021 was the day I took my first dose. I weighed in that morning and was actually pleased to see that I had only gained a few pounds. I have an electronic scale and take four separate readings and average them as my official weigh-in amount. My 12/20/2021 average was 216.1. So, while I was on a weight loss trend March-Aug, I have been stagnant/slightly gaining for about four months now.

Basically, my plan is to just document here what happens, and to give a brief overview of anything that could sway things from baseline average. I consider baseline at the moment to be: (1) fast until noon on most days (4-6 days per week); (2) typical meals and snacking – no restrictions, but not gorging myself silly either, trying to limit nighttime eating (more for GERD issues than weight loss reasons); (3) desserts, soda, candy, etc. are all on the table, though I try to keep a little eye on things; (4) Exercise 1 or 2 days per week; (5) limited additional taxing physical work.

The above is sort of what the last four months has looked like. So if I work out an extra couple days for an extended period, I will note that. If I eat a gallon bin of Christmas cutout cookies I will note that.

My plan is to take this for three months and see what happens. I don’t know how often I’ll report back, and I doubt anyone is reading this anyway, so it’s more just for the fun of having documented it.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

A Little About Father James Altman

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“Priest Making Waves” might not be trending on Twitter, but if it were there would be a picture of Father James Altman. Those who have been longing for a courageous Priest to tell it like it is are embracing him as a new hope that not all is lost in this world or in the Catholic Church. Those who are a little more “conciliatory” have taken great offense. “You Can’t be Catholic and a Democrat. Period.” OK, Father – tell us how you really feel!

I’m not here to argue on behalf of the good Father. He can handle himself. I have seen a couple silly attempts at rebuking him through “analysis” and feel inclined to at least mention a couple things about that. Firstly, anyone who starts off an analysis by proclaiming himself as neither a Republican nor a Democrat in order to assuage the critic of his own passivity and neutrality so as to give the appearance of someone better served to analyze remarks than someone who is a Democrat or a Republican is engaging in psychological sleight of hand. Arguments and analysis stand on their own merits. The fact that someone is too jelly-like to stand firm on one side or the other, to take a stand, or just actually admit they are one thing or the other hardly elevates their logical credentials. It’s as if to say an agnostic is better served to analyze a religious opinion as opposed to an atheist or those pesky Christians.

Secondly, when the first segment of analysis takes Father Altman’s words about not loving anyone in Borneo and goes into a full-throated admonishment of that statement from a Priest as some unbelievable offense against God and Church I know I’m not dealing with an honest reviewer. It is so self-evident that it need not be explained – except apparently to this guy – that by saying he does not “love” anyone in Borneo he is not talking about a general love of mankind that desires everyone to be treated with dignity, fairness, justice, and to live a life of freedom and liberty while working out their salvation. He is obviously saying he does not “love” anyone in Borneo in the sense of relationship. Just like none of us grieve and mourn over the death of every person around the globe every day because we don’t “love” them in a familial relationship or as a close friend, it makes perfect sense to say that one doesn’t “love” everyone in the context that he is talking about. He didn’t say he didn’t care about anyone in Borneo. He didn’t say he wishes ill to those people. He was making an obvious point that only someone being purposely obtuse wouldn’t understand.

Thirdly, going into a criticism about using the Baltimore Catechism as some nefarious mechanism in making a subversive point instead of the Catechism we “should” use (the Cathechism of the Catholic Church) is simply silly. I have no issues with the CCC. It’s a fine work. As is Father Hardon’s Catechetical work. As is the Baltimore Catechism. One does not negate the truth of the other. The Baltimore Catechism didn’t cease to be relevant just because there is a new version any more than St. Thomas Aquinas ceased to be relevant when subsequent Theologians wrote their insights in the centuries that followed.

This is about as far as I got in reading that particular review because it was clear at this point it was not the supposedly neutral and balanced assessment of Father Altman’s words promised by someone staking that claim by proclaiming his absence of partisan affiliation.

But all that is really unimportant. So, here is my disclosure. I am an unapologetic Republican not because every element of their platform or everyone they elect is perfect – far from it. But because we have a two party system and one party is diabolical and evil. Period. So yes, I agree with Father. And while some may appease their consciences by not voting at all or voting for a third party this simply moves the sin from complicity to passivity. I will grant that if there is any remote realistic chance that a third party candidate might win, then go ahead and campaign and contribute and do all you can to give him or her a chance. But as it becomes perfectly clear prior to the election that this will not under any circumstance actually occur, then you are doing the equivalent of standing by idly and doing nothing about evil occurring right in front of you. Sometimes it’s not good enough to just not participate in evil, sometimes you need to stop it. Period.

My other disclosure is that I am in the same diocese as Father Altman. I know him casually. He probably doesn’t even remember me. I spoke with him at a friend’s house one day at a party. I have been to Mass with him when he was in his previous assignment, but I was not a member of his parish. I have gone to confession with him.

Here is my insight about the man from those few occurrences. One, for someone who is as forthright and – at times – scathing as he can be towards the targets he feels deserves rebuke, I have never experienced a more gentle, compassionate, and joyful confession. One might think his “fire and brimstone” homilies indicates a no-nonsense guy with little patience for imperfection. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, he loves hearing people confess because he believes in the power of the Sacrament. His issue – like Jesus – is not about the average person struggling in a world of sin and falling for various traps, stumbling, and falling. His rebukes are for those who are leading people into that sin, especially those who should be doing just the opposite. Going to confession takes courage, and he loves courage.

My other takeaway is that at the heart of everything he says it’s because he wants people to go to heaven. You can critique whether or not his approach works, but it is his firm belief that milquetoast sermons and spineless priests and bishops who are afraid to call a sin a sin are making people feel good in the here and now at the potential expense of eternal salvation of souls. As a parent, I feel a desperation of sorts to make sure I am doing everything I can do to see my kids grow up and have not only temporal opportunities, but to know God. At times I may switch gears from gentleness to firmness. I may even yell and punish, but don’t hold that against me… Father Altman, I believe, feels a desperation of sorts for his spiritual children – which is all of us. Countless priests talk about all the comfortable and nice things about faith and God – which is fine as far as that goes – but can lull people into a false sense of security. You feel pretty darn good about yourself, feel no need to challenge yourself to grow in faith, tend to be less introspective and recognize your faults, etc. So Father Altman, I think, feels a strong need to counter this and get real with folks. Our modern politics, politicians, and unfortunately many Bishops and clergy are failing us and they need to wake up. And the flock needs to recognize that they are not being fed and they need to wake up. And the only way to wake up is for a jarring bell or buzzer that is extremely uncomfortable to go off.

That’s my view. So even if you side with those who believe he is being “too political,” “too harsh,” “too judgmental” I can say with confidence that he fully understands the gravity of his own words and he is prepared to take them and lay them at the Savior’s feet. And if Jesus tells him he went too far he will humbly acknowledge it and accept his fate. But don’t question his heart, his motives, and his love for all. He wants souls saved, and right now too many are being lost. We see it on our screens every single day. If you want to complain that he dare say that hell exists and if you support infanticide then you’re at risk, well I might suggest you take a moment and think about who will have more to explain on judgment day. And if you take it to heart, you can thank him personally when you arrive.

We Are Not to Worry. But What Does That Mean?

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God is in control.    God is my co-pilot.   God is the navigator.   Not my will, but Your will be done.

I was reflecting on the Gospel reading from this last weekend:   Matthew, Chapter 6, verses 24-34.

I won’t quote it all here, but among the text are a couple key quotes:

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.

The Bible is an amazing thing, because it is all true and authoritative, but at the same time it is quite easy to take things out of context and in isolation.    The Bible has counterbalancing messages throughout.   One of the classic examples is the admonitions to feed the poor, and then Paul’s statement that says that if a man doesn’t work he doesn’t deserve to eat.   It is easy to pick one side and dig your heels in and apply that to everything, when in fact Jesus is talking about the less fortunate poor who either can’t work or would likely desire to earn a wage if offered, whereas Paul is focused on a community of able-bodied people who all need to do their part.

After Mass this last weekend a friend of mine, who knows I scrutinize finances and try to make sound financial decisions and plan for the future (and he is the same way), smirked a bit when asking me “how’d you like today’s Gospel?”    I could tell he was tweaking me a bit, and we engaged in it.   He was conflating “planning” with “worry”.   I disagreed with him, and I think by the end of our talk he was agreeing with me.

I think to read Jesus’ words here as some instruction to forego any and all planning is not only incorrect, but it’s actually counter to what He’s trying to get people to do here, which is to not worry, as in don’t be anxious.

My friend, as we talked, had the personal revelation that his planning is his way of actually not being anxious.    I agree with that.   Perhaps more important, good planning will help your loved ones not have to worry as much.   If I didn’t plan for the future, and didn’t have my affairs in order, it would cause grave headaches for my loved ones if something happened to me.   Stress, anxiety, and probably a bit of exasperation and anger would follow.

I always remember a personal example from our Homeschool group.   My wife was getting frustrated because they would schedule events and then they wouldn’t plan them.    The leader of the group at one point remarked about how they didn’t need to because the Holy Spirit just made it all come together at the end and somehow, some way, the events turned out fine.    While maybe this was true in its literalness, my wife’s observation was that she and a couple other moms always did 90% of the work because they would have been utterly embarrassed had everyone showed up to nothing.     So these three moms ended up feeling like they had to continue taking on this burden while the others extolled the wonder of the Holy Spirit bringing it all together.    There was finally a push for some structure and reorganization in the group that led to some rifts, unfortunately.   I guess my point is, if you think you’re living the gospel by not worrying, but your lack of attention in the name of not worrying leads to the anxiety of others, then you are not properly disposed to what you’re being called to do – in my opinion.

We Christians have struggled with this balance forever.  We are in constant conflict with the opposing ideas of the necessity of what we do versus what that means about our trust in God.    One can actually take this all the way back to the heart of arguments about predestination.

Here’s how I see it:   You should plan for the future and plan for contingencies.   We should do what we feel we need to do in prudent and responsible ways.   This is not lacking trust in God.   In fact, God is likely calling us to do some of these things.    But planning and taking action should ease your mind, and not burden it.    If you are not able to do everything you would like to do, but you are doing what you can, then you need at that point to not worry and trust in God.    If you are moving past prudence and trying to outsmart God by being ready for everything imaginable under the sun by relying only on your own wisdom, then you are trusting in yourself and not in God.   If you’ve planned for X and the unexpected Y happens, you need to trust that God will help see you through – or that this suffering has a greater purpose.   If you are obsessed with perfection, you need to relax and trust in God.

This covers a lot of areas, from finances, to married life, to health, to raising kids, and so on.   One should try to make good health choices.   That may mean you’ve decided to eat in a certain way, avoiding some foods not because they bother you physically but because you’re trying to stay healthy.  But at the same time if you are traveling or visiting and the food choice is not to your general health standards, and you become obsessed with the idea that eating that burger patty is going to take 2 years off your life, then you are not in balance.   That’s worry and anxiety and something of a lack of trust.

If you feel like a store of food and water is a good idea and you take some measures and you sleep well then that’s a good thing.    If you wake up every morning wondering what you haven’t done in the event that X, Y, or Z happens and you are never comfortable with what you’ve set aside or stockpiled, then you are out of balance.

My wife and I actually were talking on Saturday about the responsibility of raising kids.   The discussion turned to her concerns about them becoming godly persons, their salvation, and everything we may not be doing to make that happen.    I was agreeing that we need to do everything we can, but we’re humans and we will fall short and at some point we need to simply ask God to fill in for our deficiencies, and that He is not going to abandon them to the wolves just because we forgot to do this thing or that thing in the overall formation of their faith.    It was almost as if that Gospel reading on Sunday was for us.

So, you see, I may be a planner, but I’m really not a worrier.   My wife is.   I’m not speaking out of turn here – she’d say the same thing.   In fact, she may well say that I don’t worry enough, and I say she worries too much.   We’re both probably right.

If you do absolutely nothing, then that certainly can be trust in God.   But you should also assess whether or not it’s just simple laziness, and whether your lack of concern is affected others.   It could be argued at times that I am lazy.

Finally, I offer my preferred analogy of our participation in life with God.    It’s fine to recognize that “God is in control” as long as you don’t use it as an excuse to eschew your obligations.   I’m not the biggest fan of that phrase, not because I think it’s false, but I think it’s a bit misapplied to our purpose.   God is ultimately responsible for everything we are – He created us, has granted us our very life, has given us our abilities, and has single-handedly opened the doors of heaven to us.    He has all the power in the Universe to control every aspect of our lives.   But that doesn’t mean he exercises that power over all of our thoughts, words, and actions.   He doesn’t.   It doesn’t mean he moves us like pawns on a chess board, maneuvering us through every situation, while at the same time maneuvering those around us.    He may well intervene on occasion because He loves us, but the very fact that some of us end up sick or injured, or dead, is self-evidence that God allows things both in and out of our control to occur that bring with them certain undesirable outcomes.   I acknowledge that God is ultimately in control to the extent He desires it, and that he has the power of full control to the extent He exercises it.    He is also a navigator, but not necessarily “the” Navigator at all times, since we have a say in the direction we go.

The co-pilot analogy is also lacking a bit, since it sort of relegates God to a secondary back-up position in our lives.   I know that “co” can mean partnership and equality, but that’s usually not how co-pilots are referenced.   There is a pilot and a co-pilot.    It may be a better analogy to say I am God’s co-pilot.

I prefer the Navigator analogy, but with a twist.    If you imagine a ship with two rudders, one large rudder for large-scale directional movements and one rudder that allows quick reactionary movements along the broader path, I see God as the Navigator of the big rudder and we are navigators along the path we’re on.    I think God moves us directionally where we are to go.   I think we need to trust and not be anxious about that direction.    But that doesn’t mean all is clear sailing in a straight line.   We may need to navigate some rough waters or around islands or icebergs and what-not as we follow our path.   We can still crash on the path God sends us if we aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing.   We have responsibilities to uphold to ensure that we get where we are intended to go.    And even that smaller rudder can ultimately change our direction if we continually push it in opposition to the big rudder.    God makes it difficult for us to move off the direction He has chosen for us, but not impossible.

So, don’t worry about planning.

Ninevah90 Warning

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I made a comment on another blog I was a bit wary about.   I dared question whether or not it is wise for everyone to jump right in and do the Ninevah90 program.

The response I received was actually not what I expected.   I expected to hear why everyone should be able to do it, and that not embracing it fully is a sign of weakness, which is all the more reason why you should do it.    But I received a lot of agreement.

Basically, what I said about it is that everything there is good.   I have no issues with anyone doing it.    But it’s also a LOT.    Depending on where a person is in their spiritual journey, it could be utterly overwhelming, and perhaps even counterproductive, to try and do it all.   We humans are fickle creatures, and some have a tendency to become demoralized and give up on the whole thing if we fail to do every last thing.   I suggested that, at least for some, it may be a wiser course to stretch yourself, but still make the additional devotions, prayers, and activities achievable.

I was happy I received such agreement in one respect, but then I got nervous about whether or not i was just encouraging an attitude of copping out…

The following is a follow-up comment I made, that I thought I’d reproduce here.

“I wanted to make sure I clarify my comment a bit. I guess I’m just a strong believer in proper balance. And I think we all get out of balance at times one way or the other and need to constantly self-correct.

In no way am I saying that nobody can take on the full Ninevah90 program. Nor am I saying one should easily or simply dismiss it because “it’s too hard.” Nor am I saying that we shouldn’t constantly challenge ourselves to do more than we are currently doing… to take that “Next Right Step” in our spiritual growth.

What I am saying is that we are all in different places on our spiritual journey, and we all have different responsibilities in life that we cannot disregard or replace with another time consuming activity, whether it is a holy one or not.

As an example, a friend of mine – a wonderful and committed Catholic – at one point in his spiritual life thought it was a good idea to try and do everything he read that other saints did. And he was demanding his family do the same. All were good things in and of themselves, but the sheer volume of things he was doing, and in turn asking his family to do, became a real stress and caused problems in the family: Hours of adoration, hours of volunteering, hours of prayer, attending this function and that function… My observation was that I thought I fostered a better relationship with my kids and family by simply being at home and talking with them or playing a game with them. Yes, we also incorporate prayer and other spiritual devotions into family life, and I am not saying we can’t do more – we certainly can. But he was not in balance, and I could imagine even the good Lord was saying “the saint you are trying to emulate was single and a monk. You can’t do what he did – go spend time with your family.”

The Ninevah90 thing is very good, and it’s a great challenge to take upon ourselves what we can handle, and perhaps that one thing more that we feel we may need to help have God lift us up to accomplish it. That’s the next step. But if one tries to leap over a tall building in a single bound from where they are now, there is a risk that you end up a spot on the sidewalk.

I’ve already seen someone on my Facebook page lament that already on Day 3 of the program, he is undergoing a lot of spiritual warfare. I have no idea what that means, and it may very well be a true statement, but I couldn’t help but think “or maybe you just took on too much.” If he’s truly being attacked in unforeseen ways, he needs my prayers. If his view of spiritual warfare is that he doesn’t have enough time in the day to fit everything in, then I’m afraid no amount of prayer will create additional minutes for him. But hey, I could be wrong.”

I’m reminded of some of the criticisms about Catholics by some other Christians about “piling up words.”   While this criticism is usually in response to devotional prayers, such as the Rosary, and is completely unfounded, there is nevertheless a risk that some people just believe that piling up devotion after devotion after devotion makes them more holy.    We risk getting out of balance.   The proper perspective of any devotion is that we are in a relationship with God, that we are participating in the work of salvation that He alone made possible, and that we are being His hands and feet to the world around us.    If we just do a bunch of stuff in order to satisfy all the daily requirements of a program and somehow think we’re now a better person for it…  well, there may be some truth to that in terms of a better understanding that you can do more, and forming good habits.   But it could also become this obsessive action that erroneously leads to a belief that you’re working your way to heaven.

So, whatever you do, make sure your life is in balance, and make sure you know why you are doing it and why this is an important thing.

 

Facebook Debate Review

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Over the weekend, a Facebook friend of mine, a Deacon, made the following post:

“I was saddened this morning to see how a young lady who went on mission trips with <our> parish and was confirmed, posted yesterday pictures of her supporting Planned Parenthood.    I know that she is unaware of the truths of abortion mill that they are running and how they are murdering children.   I am praying that she finds out the truth.”

As one might imagine, this was met with the full gamut of potential responses, from those in complete agreement with the sentiment, to those who felt he was shaming someone publicly, to those who thought they were being condemned for ever having gone to Planned Parenthood for any reason.

Every now and then I like to break down posts and comments.   Today, I’m going to do that.

My commentary:     This may be, broadly speaking, a sort of shaming.   No names were provided, but there were some details that could be identifying in nature.   There is an acknowledgment that the person may be ignorant of the truths about what Planned Parenthood engages in.    I don’t think the post is out of bounds, as it is right and appropriate to rebuke people engaging in sinful activity, as long as it is done with charity.   I do think, though, that the reference to the Parish should have been left off.   It immediately identifies the person as local.   Had he left it at just someone who he knew had been confirmed, and had gone on mission trips then in the minds of readers it could be just about anybody.

The first back and  forth was as follows:  

Responder 1:  I’m saddened that you would put it out on face book rather than talking to her personally.

Poster: I am more saddened that she would post a picture first without talking to me so that she was well informed.

Responder 1:  But you are the adult here.

Poster: She is an “adult” as well, and “adults” should know that planned parenthood’s main revenue is from abortions.   Period.   Too bad so many people are misinformed when it comes to that.

Responder 1: I guess I’m not OK with shaming on Facebook.   A private conversation with some give and take seems more logical.   As for the adult part, well I guess the older adult should set the example.

Poster:  No give and take on that subject – abortion is the murdering of a child – it only is a choice of life or death – and I do set the example of standing up for life.

My commentary:   I can actually see points on both sides here.   I actually agree that the preferred initial approach would at least have been to ask the person in question whether or not she was aware of Planned Parenthood’s activities.    Perhaps even ask outright if she supported abortion rights (in private) to see where she stands.    And as I mentioned, even if one chooses to use this as an example for public consumption, care should be taken to use it as a teaching example, while minimizing the risk of revealing who the “sinner” is.    Also, saying there can be “no give and take” on any subject I think is wrong-headed.   One can know with certainty that they stand for what is good and true and still have a give and take with respect to a discussion.    Give and take does not imply compromise – it can imply trying to have a reasonable discussion so you can gain trust and figure out exactly where they are.    To should someone down will do no good.   I don’t think “give and take” means what he thinks it means.

Having said that, it’s a ridiculous assertion that it is completely out of bounds to make a public statement about something that someone else willingly posted in a public manner, and it’s all the more ridiculous to say that you need to treat another adult with kid gloves just because you’re an older adult.

Responder 2: How is that shaming someone?   He stated facts without naming her.    And if she believes PP is such a great organization, why would she be ashamed at all?

My commentary:   Generally agree, with caveats as already stated.   Though, I will say that it would be possible for someone to still feel good about their own support of PP while feeling a little offended by being called out by a member of the clergy, essentially, as a supporter of murder.   It may be true, but there may have been a more charitable way to go about it.

The next responder’s comment will be necessarily broken up into multiple parts.

Responder 3: As a young adult, my mom took me to Planned Parenthood to receive regular health screenings.   Does this mean I am damned for life?

This doesn’t make any sense at all, which tells me it’s an entirely emotional response.   As for the source of the emotion (either guilt, or simply an inability to accept that just because an entity does some “good” it cannot erase the evil nature of it).   For one thing, nobody anywhere said anything about being damned.   And the phrase “damned for life” makes no sense at all.   You are not damned for life if you’re damned.   You are damned for all eternity.   Which means ALL of us should be doing everything we can do to make sure we’re right with God!   Eternity’s a long time.   Finally, just because you went to PP at some point to get assistance, depending on what it is you did there, there may be nothing morally wrong with it.   If you got some check-up or general health screening, especially if you were ignorant of the other things they do, then there’s not a problem.

Unfortunately, this is why many turn from organized religion because we all judge versus support our own.

She may be right that we all tend to judge.   But the “thou shall not judge” thing is also misapplied.   The entire context of Scripture makes it clear that we should judge what people are doing from the perspective of discernment, correction, and aiding in another’s salvation.   It is not an act of love to allow one to persist in sin.  It is an act of love to correct it.   However, on the flip side, many people do not convey that correction in a charitable way.   And flipping around again, many will be corrected charitably and will see it as an act of hate because they feel they should just be “accepted.”    We “support our own” in the faith by trying to get them to heaven.    When we see error, it can be a tricky balancing act to try and figure out how to go about correcting that error, for that person’s own good.    It is not an error of organized religion that we sometimes fail to act in charity.   It is a failure of people, in general.   But those who persist in sin after receiving correction cannot be “supported” with respect to accommodating that sin.   Yes, we still need to love them, but that doesn’t mean what they think it means, often enough.

Knowing God does not judge, the message that is being forced onto us from our church leaders is disappointing.

Um…   God doesn’t judge?    Then who does?    Is there no hell?    This is the epitome of relativism.   Only are we not to judge anything anybody does as right or wrong, but God doesn’t even do it, apparently.   This is dangerous thinking.

I miss the days of feeling welcomed to church versus hearing how horrible we are because we may not attend every week, don’t dress appropriately or may support Planned Parenthood for many of their other services that help millions of people.

My commentary:   Oh, where to begin.   First, I would be curious to know exactly how this person was made to feel like she is a horrible person.   It is possible that an uncharitable approach occurred, in which case that is problematic.   But I have an inkling – maybe more – that this person heard a perfectly charitable reminder about the importance of weekly Mass attendance, the importance of modesty in dress, and felt personally offended because she was unwilling to look inward and consider what was said with humility.    Now, I don’t know her and can’t know that for certain, but what I do know is that there are many people out there who react that way even if she is not one of them.

The other irksome argument about the good the argument about pointing out the good things about Planned Parenthood is the willingness to just turn a blind eye towards the evil that they do for the sake of the good.   Not to mention, many people put contraceptive services in the “good” column.   They aren’t.

But more to the point, at the heart of all these protests in favor of Planned Parenthood is whether or not there should be federal funding for it.   So, if you feel that strongly about PP, then write them a check or use their services, or volunteer for them.   But don’t ask me to fund an organization that doers evil things.

 

Anyway, there’s actually more, and I could go on.   Maybe I’ll continue this with another post if I feel like there’s enough worth talking about.