Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2016

Dear College Administrators...

I teach at two different institutions of higher learning. One is a community college. One is a four-year university. Since the election of Donal Trump as President of the United States I have received no less than six emails from various college administrators offering comfort, resources, and advice to help staff and students alike cope with the election results. I am not alone. All across the country classes have been canceled, exams delayed, and grief counselors summoned to support the Millennials through this existential crisis. The University of Michigan handed out coloring books and Play-doh to assuage the angst.

Here's the thing. Four years ago, when Romney lost to Obama, there was not a peep of support. There were no emails assuring those who did not support Obama that they were still a valued part of the community. There were no declarations of inclusiveness. There was no acknowledgement that members of the school community were disappointed and worried about the future. 

To…

Give Me that Old-Time Education!

It is hard to believe that I have been teaching college students going on seven years now. This started out as an experiment when I was actually looking on Craigslist for a part time job for my son and stumbled across an ad for an adjunct professor position at the local community college. I started teaching one entry level anatomy and physiology course. Then I added the second semester course. Then I started teaching an entry level course at the local four year university. Then I added a 400-level anatomy and physiology course at the university.
So now my little part-time job that was going to ease me back into the workforce as my nest emptied has turned into nearly full time work and four college courses each semester. I really do love the teaching and love offering an intro to anatomy and physiology sprinkled with clinical correlations gleaned from my years of practicing medicine. It seems to be a good mix and for the most part, my students seem to be enjoying it.

Of course there i…

"Spirit of Vatican II" and "I'm a Pope Francis Catholic"

I ran across this article that proposed five phrases that should be banished from the Catholic lexicon. Among the collection was  "Spirit of Vatican II". I am old enough to have lived through the liturgical turmoil that followed Vatican II so I do remember this phrase being used to justify all sorts of innovations that had no grounding whatsoever in the documents of Vatican II. However, I think currently when the phrase is used, it is done so in a pejorative way to condemn actions or ideology that are contrary to Catholic teaching. It now refers to an inappropriate twisting or erroneous interpretation of the work and documents of Vatican II. So, when it is used in that context, I am not so sure it needs to go away.

For many years I thought that if Vatican II had occurred in the internet age, all of the ridiculous liturgical and catechetical initiatives that were wrongly attributed to Vatican II could not have occurred. I was certain that all the incorrect assertions would b…

New Evangelists of Monthly

Time to head over to New Evangelists Monthly for an aggregation of some of the best Catholic writing over the last month. Enjoy!

Dear Susan B. Anthony, I am Sorry

Lovely Warren, Mayor of Rochester, New York is invoking the name of Susan B. Anthony in celebration of the nomination of Hillary Clinton for president. I do not think Susan B. Anthony would be pleased at all with this turn of events as I explain in my latest article up at the HLI Truth & Charity Forum.

Therefore, it is with great sadness that I must tell you that Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be nominated for president by a major political party, believes no child in the womb deserves protection from abortion at any point during the nine months of gestation. She idolizes Margaret Sanger, a racist and supporter of eugenics who pushed for the elimination of African-Americans through birth control and abortion because she considered them “human weeds”. Head on over to the Truth & Charity Forum to read the whole article.

Standing Firm in Faith with Love

If I look at myself, I realize that I do not fit into neat categories. I am Catholic. I unequivocally support the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. I tend to vote Republican and have what would be considered conservative principles. Yet, I oppose the death penalty. I drive a Prius. I am open to some regulation of gun sales for the sake of safety. I am not a caricature of any political ideology. And you know what--neither is anyone else.

Politicians may set themselves as icons of an ideology. Maybe they truly believe their own dogma. Maybe they are just seeking power. However, the ordinary unknown individuals who follow these standard bearers are far more complex than the sound bites and political rhetoric.

My latest article at Catholic Stand offers some thoughts about how easily we make instant generalizations about people we don't know. Making these broad brush assumptions is lazy. We can make judgments about actions. What is right and what is wrong is…

Make Your Own Metaphor

Gardening can be a metaphor for so many things--faith, parenting, and life in general. I am not going to try and figure it out right now. I am just going to talk about gardening and you can apply it as you see fit.

I have about a dozen rose bushes around my house. Roses are the divas of my garden. At the moment, most of them are not blooming. I plead with them. I spray them. I feed them. They are so needy. Rose are So. Much. Work! Every now and then they tease me with with that wonderful color or that perfectly formed flower or that heavenly perfume. So I keep at it. I know their potential.



Hydrangeas, on the other hand come back every year and put on a glorious show with great big pompoms of color whether I pay attention to them or not.  I don't have to feed them, spray them, or do much of anything to them. Around the end of July, I trim them back so that they don't encroach on the grass so much. A few of these in a vase make a dramatic arrangement that lasts for days. It i…

On second thought...

I subscribe to two print newspapers and numerous online new sources. I have to do this for my writing work, but I also feel a need to stay alert to the happenings in the world. However, sometimes the news is just so bleak it is tough to get past the headlines. I bury myself in the sports section and the crossword. Well, today even the sports section was disappointing since Lionel Messi was convicted of tax fraud. I understand that he will not serve jail time and I know that even the prosecutor acknowledged that Messi was unaware of the illegal tax scheme but it is still disappointing. So that leaves me with the crossword.

I do the weekday crossword puzzle daily and it is a rare day when I do not complete it. Usually by the time I have finished my morning coffee and breakfast it is done. I always do the puzzle in ink. I was surprised when someone thought this was a sign of supreme confidence. Actually, it is that I hate using a pencil to write on newsprint. The Sunday puzzle is a diff…

Removing Consequences--A Mistake for Education

Fairfax County Public Schools have my dander up and I don't even have children attending their schools anymore. However, I do have their graduates in my college classes and the school system just made my job harder. They have instituted a new grading system that removes the requirements and incentives to study for tests and turn in homework. You can read the report of the changes here and I encourage you to do so. However, let me summarize the key changes:

1. If a student makes less than 80% on an exam they must be given the opportunity to take the test again. Failure to offer every student the opportunity to retake a test in order to exceed the 80% threshold means that no student can be awarded a grade of more than 80% on the exam.

2. No student will be given a zero for missed homework until he has been given multiple opportunities to complete the assignment and failed to do so. (In other words, deadlines are really just suggested completion dates)

3. Homework for practice can a…

Time is Treasure

I'll be honest. I think my time management skills have dropped off in the last few months. I just haven't been getting the right balance of  spiritual, physical, interpersonal, intellectual,  and professional time. My latest article up at Catholic Stand was written as a pep talk to myself. I hope you find it useful as well. Here is a snippet:

The Baltimore Catechism asks, “Why did God make me?” The response is, “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.” Perhaps this is a good place to start in taking a critical look at where we store our treasure of time. Does your use of time help you to know God, to love God, and to serve God? Head on over to Catholic Stand and read the rest! Let me know what you think.

Thou Shall and Thou Shall Not

The Gospel at this morning's Mass was the well known beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, the recitation of the Beatitudes. (Mt 5:1-12) If you read a little farther you hear Christ say,

 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill." Christ did not negate the Ten Commandments. Instead he completed them. The Ten Commandments are written as a series of prohibitions: Thou shall not...  The Beatitudes give us the alternatives. Instead of doing the sins specified in the Ten Commandments, live according to Beatitudes.

Sometimes it is so easy to get tied up in the thou-shall-not's that we forget that giving up the vice does not leave us empty. Rather, it makes room for us to be filled by something even more wonderful.

Perhaps as we evangelize others, we would do better to focus on the thou-shall's instead of the thou-shall-not's. Emphasize what will be gained through virtue instead of what will be lost by g…

Which is more important: the party or the guests?

Here we are in the month of June and wedding season is upon us. As I began my daily constitutional of coffee and the crossword I ran across a Carolyn Hax advice column that addressed the issue of destination weddings. The questioner considered destination weddings incredibly narcissistic and was feeling pretty angry that a family member had chosen that option for her wedding. 
Ms. Hax gave a good response as far as it goes but I think she left out a very significant factor:

I realize this goes against human nature at the molecular level, but please consider not having an opinion at all.   Instead: Are you able to go? Yes/No. Do you want to go on the given terms? Yes/No.   And then either go or don’t go accordingly. If you can stop yourself there, without judging anybody, then you can emerge from this without emotionally downgrading someone you love or spending a nickel unwillingly spent. This detached analysis is easy when it is a friend or acquaintance who is sending you the invitati…

The Visitation

Today is the Feast of the Visitation. Mary had just received the news that she had been chosen to bear the Incarnation of God, the Word Made Flesh. She must have been bewildered yet her faith was so strong she gave her Fiat: May it be done according to your word!

Yet she spent little time dwelling on what she had just gotten herself into. Her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant. With no hesitation she set aside her own circumstances and made haste to be by Elizabeth's side. Elizabeth was her kinswoman. Becoming the Mother of God was not going to keep her away.

In today's culture, it is hard enough to keep the nuclear family of Mom, Dad and children together much less extend it across generations. Yet our Domestic Church is meant to reach across the nuclear family lines to all whom God has placed in our family trees.

Recently, thanks to two college graduations (one undergraduate and one Masters degree) I was blessed to have a great many members of my family tree visiting at once. Th…

What I really want to say

Wedding season is upon us. I am so excited when I am invited to a Catholic wedding, especially when it is for two faithful Catholics. I also find Protestant weddings celebrated prayerfully a true joy. Secular weddings, on the other hand, leave me conflicted. I really do wish the bride and groom a lifetime of happiness, but they are starting out at a great disadvantage if they do not recognize that marriage is about so much more than "luv"! Here is what I really want to tell these couples:
Dear Bride and Groom,I am sure you are thrilled with the grand affair you are planning to celebrate the legalization of your union. You have been living together for years so right now it is all about the party.I really do hope you have years of health and happiness in front of you. I also pray that you someday recognize the true meaning of matrimony and see that it is so much more than a civil recognition of your mutual affection followed by an elaborate gala.However, at present you are as…

The impoverished choice of abortion

I am back to publishing over at the HLI Truth and Charity forum! Head on over and read my latest article where I take on some of the euphemisms and rationalizations used to support abortion.

A snippet:

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” This poignant quote by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta rang in my ears as I read Karen Hartman’s latest essay in the Washington Post. The piece was published on January 22, 2016, to correspond with the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion, Roe v. Wade. As thousands of pro-life advocates marched through Washington D.C. in spite of an impending blizzard the Washington Post offered its readers Ms. Hartman’s emotional defense of abortion, using her own abortion as justification. Read my full response here.

The Intellect of Motherhood

What else do you do when you are cooped up due to a blizzard but read? I wish I could say I made a dent in my reading pile of books. I am afraid my reading was much more work related. This meant that I spent more time than usual perusing the New York Times. It was there that I found this essay by Carol Hay, an associate professor of philosophy and the director of the gender studies program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. In her piece entitled Girlfriend, Mother, Professor? Ms. Hay argues that cultural stereotypes of women hinders the work of female professors. She claims that students go from seeing a woman professor as a possible girlfriend when she is young to a stand-in for their mother as she matures.

I never taught college students during my younger years so I cannot speak to ever having been viewed as a girlfriend by students. However, the college students I teach now are very close in age to my own children, and yes, they do sometimes approach me as a mother. But I…

A Presidential Candidate a Catholic Can Love.

Gretchen Crowe is correct to assert in a January 3rd Our Sunday Visitor editorial that it is not easy to find a presidential candidate whom a Catholic can support without reservations. Catholic Christian values do not neatly fit into political categories like Republican, Democrat, conservative or liberal. However, I must take issue with Ms. Crowe's response of a wish list for her ideal candidate.

The problem with her list is that she includes a variety of issues and does not indicate that they have varying merits and weights. In her assessment, climate change is equal to defending the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. She lumps concern for the poor in with sanctity of life issues and I wonder if she is implying that the only solution to poverty is more federal government intervention. More federal money and more federal debt is often a short-sighted approach with limited success. We have been waging a federal "war on poverty" since Lyndon Johnson …