KITCHEN TABLE CHATS

Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A shout-out to blogging buddies, book buddies, and crossword puzzle lovers

My kids are gamers. Not the electronic kind. More the board game kind. Most of the time they are playing something that involves strategy, conquests, and "guns vs. butter" analysis. Currently a favorite is The Settlers of Catan. I usually leave them to it. I enjoy games as well but I lean more towards word games like Scrabble or Boggle or card games like Hearts or Gin. I absolutely love crossword puzzles. Last night my kids introduced my husband and me to a game that was perfect for all of us, Dixit.

This is a very simple game played with a deck of 84 cards. Each card has a charming whimsical illustration by Marie Cardouat. The active player looks at his hand of 6 cards and chooses one. Without revealing his choice to the other players, he offers a caption--word, phrase, sound-- that describes the card. Each of the other players then looks at his own hand and chooses a card that could fit this caption. The choices are all secretly submitted, shuffled, then displayed. Players try to guess which card is the actual card chosen by the active player. The catch is that the active player scores points if some, but not all of the other players guess his choice. So the strategy is to offer a caption specific enough that some in the group will understand, but vague enough that other cards could be a correct answer. This means that your knowledge of the other players in the group will be key.

For example, on my turn I selected a card that showed a giant snail shell with a rope of knotted sheets hanging down from the upper window. My daughter is an engineer without much of a life-science background. My son-in-law studied wildlife conservation so I knew he had an animal biology background. My husband and son who were playing had a fair knowledge of biology. I offered "cochlear" as my caption. The other cards offered by the group included an illustration of a musical instrument as well as a musical conductor. My son, husband, and son-in-law all got the connection between "cochlear" and the snail shell. The cochlea is the spiral shaped bony structure in the inner ear that allows for hearing. My daughter missed the connection and chose a different card. Therefore, I scored points.

In another round, someone used the caption Joss Whedon to describe the picture of a dollhouse. If you are familiar with Joss Whedon, (as all of my kids are) you would know that he created the television series The Dollhouse. For those of us out of the loop, the Dollhouse meant nothing.

We had so much fun playing this game. I began to see the captions as crossword puzzle clues since the definitions and connections were not necessarily straightforward. It involved a lot of non-linear thinking. The illustrations are beautiful and surprising in their complexity which added to the enjoyment.

I thought of all my friends who are writers, book-lovers, and crossword puzzle aficionados, and thought how much fun we would have if we could all play this together. In any case, it might be something to add to your Christmas list.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Organ donation requires strong ethical principles

My latest article for Zenit has been published. In it, I look at the compromise of ethical principles for organ donation when the procurement system moves to "presumed consent". Under this policy, everyone is considered an organ donor unless they have actively taken themselves out of consideration. The state claims it owns your bodily organs and has the right to control their use for the common good. You are only borrowing them during your lifetime.

One of the key criterion for ethical organ donation programs is that donors must be fully informed and freely give their consent to be a donor. Removing the need for free and informed consent opens the door to abuses. This becomes more relevant as a utilitarian philosophy seeps into health care policy and practices.

Organ donation is a supremely generous, life-giving and virtuous act when done under strict ethical guidelines. Once the ethics breaks down, it quickly degenerates into a dehumanizing work of evil.

Monday, September 02, 2013

New School Year Resolutions

I am working on an article and the deadline is looming so after Mass this morning I planted myself at the local Panera's for some focused working. When I am at home there are so many distractions that make it easy to procrastinate. Laundry needs to be done, the bathroom needs to be scrubbed, dust on various bookshelves just screams to be cleared, and of course since Mom is home, everyone else who is home has a question/problem that needs to be answered.

In a couple hours I made real headway on my article. I didn't finish it, but I have a good idea of where I am going. This progress was made in spite of being surrounded by the constant din of parents and children having one last outing before school begins tomorrow. All of my children are either in undergraduate college studies, graduate school, or out in the work force. I realized that I miss the fervor of the first day of school. Fresh new binders, neatly stacked paper, perfectly sharpened pencils, a plethora of pens, markers that still have ink, and unbroken crayons all signal a new school year full of promise and potential.

The snatches of conversations I heard around me were interesting. Parents were exhorting their children that this year things would be different. Computer games and television viewing would be limited and allowed only after homework was done and some time was spent reading. Backpacks would be packed at bedtime so there would be no mad rush in the morning. Clothes would be picked out and readied the night before each school day. All homework and school papers would be reviewed nightly. I recognized myself in all these good intentions. We tried most of these at one point or another. Some worked. Others fell by the wayside either because they were too onerous or we were just not disciplined enough. Still, it is very encouraging to hear so many parents involved in their children's schooling and doing their best to enable their children's academic success.

So I am offering a prayer for all the children, their parents, and their teachers that this school year lives up to their hopes and dreams. May they appreciate their God-given gifts and use them for His glory. May all parents embrace the opportunity to share and nurture the intellectual and spiritual growth of their children.