Monday, November 19, 2007

The Troglodyte Top Twelve - 11/19/07

Just some shuffling this week with OU and UO falling with their quarterbacks. Oregon drops further than Oklahoma because Dennis Dixon is done for the year and Sam Bradford's status is only uncertain. This week is shake-out week with Missouri, Arizona State, and Georgia all having a chance to leap-frog into the upper half. Gotta love it. Texas and Florida are still waiting in the wings.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Catholic Carnival 145 is Up

Memorial of St. Albert the Great
At Adam's Ale. This week's torchlight post is Confession by Barb at SFO Mom. Why? See the previous post. Actually, there are quite a few that could qualify for torchlight status in this week's Carnival. Go and stay awhile.
[submitted by e-mail]

A Big Day for the Clan

Troglotyke #4 makes his First Reconciliation tonight. If you would, please throw a prayer his way.
[submitted by e-mail]

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Troglodyte Top Twelve - 11/12/07

Memorial of St. Josaphat
Veteran's Day, Observed

Illinois showed the chinks in Ohio State's armor to be pretty significant. That the Illini downed the Buckeyes should not be a shocker to anyone who lives in Big Ten country. What was revealing was that Juice Williams and crew played a good game (not out-of-their-heads great) and OSU-North didn't play terrible (a la Oklahoma at Colorado). I'm still a bit iffy on ASU and Mizzou. Kansas is the legit class of the Big Twelve North, and they can be had like everyone else this year. They handled an OSU-South team that I thought might match up better than it did, particularly at home. Despite the buzz about three Big Twelve teams in the BCS top five, I'm barely buying two. After getting to see them in extensive action for the first time: Colt Brennan is Hawaii, which means his concussion spells trouble. They could follow Boston College out the door soon.

My Blog Challenge Begins

As the basketball season begins in earnest today. I am head coaching Troglotyke #2's team (girls for the first time for me) and assisting with Troglotyke #3's, while trying to help lead a revitalization of their school's athletic program. In January, I'll likely be adding Troglotyke #4's team to the list. In recent years, I have been unable to sustain any meaningful blogging during the season. I'm going to try to avoid that this year, but time will tell.

Happy Veteran's Day

Observed, at least. A special thank you to those who served from one who didn't. My family and I thank you heartily.

Thank you, Veterans

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time is Running Out to Vote for the 2007 Weblog Awards

Polls close today. You can enter to vote here. A few items...

1. Fellow Catholic Dad, Regular Guy Paul is dead last in his category. Feel free to throw him a sympathy vote to get him out of the cellar.

2. Boing Boing shares some whining that Climate Audit (a climate change "heretic," as you can imagine) is leading for Best Science Blog:
Skye sez, "In the 'Weblog Awards Best Science Blog Contest' a psuedoscience web site denying the affect humans have on global warming is currently in the lead over real science blogs. Apparently conservative political sites have been directing their readers to vote for it, whether they read it or not."
Judge for yourself, but count me skeptical that it's a blog of false science.

3. After looking at each of the finalists for Best Science Blog, I'm wondering whether maybe I should stick to science topics. Whaddya think?

A Note on Comments

This has been bumped.

Comments have not been disabled on the site. When I tried to reinstate my Haloscan comments after losing them when I went through the Blogger "upgrade," I not only did not get the Haloscan comments back, but created some sort of HTML infighting that prevents the "comments" link from appearing on the front page. I am working the problem, but if you would like to comment, or see any comments, please click either on the "Links to this post" link, or the individual post page. Thanks for your patience.

[originally submitted by e-mail 10/22/07]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bad News for the Republic

Major League Baseball's general managers voted overwhelmingly to recommend the use of instant replay. It would be used only for homerun boundary calls (fair/foul & in-the-park/out-of-the-park) and fan interference. At least to start (insert slippery slope argument here). The initiative, the logical consequence of Peter Ueberroth's $1.5B deals with the devil (CBS & ESPN), still needs to be approved by the owners, players, and umpires.

*** Sidebar

Will sports represent the last ground taken by the dictatorship of relativism? Where else is there so much passion about "getting it right?" Alas, I don't think the motives here are that noble, nor does replay really represent objective truth in the abstract.

*** End sidebar

My take is pretty well summed up by Ryan Robbins' piece from a decade ago. Baseball is a game of inches and angles. It's foolhardy to think parallax-laden cameras can add all that much, even if they should happen to help "get it right" a handful of times. And at what cost to the grand old game?

Danger: Beware of Falling Cows

When I saw this headline and then read the story, my rather juvenile first thoughts were:
  • "Now, that's a plague. What do you have to do to earn that?"
  • "If the van is a rockin', don't come a knockin'. But please don't hesitate if it's been crushed by a 600-pound object."
  • "Is that a cow on the hood, or are you just happy to see me?"
I'll stop there to prevent degenerating further. Well, there's nothing like celebrating your first anniversary under observation in a hospital, but it could of been a lot worse.

Catholic Carnival 144 is Up

At Organ-ic Chemist This week's torchlight post is "Is a Parish School Good for the Parish?" by Denise Hunnell at Catholic Mom.
Three items for consideration...
1. Riddle me this. Which provides "more health care?"
A. A parish-subsidized, nurse-assisted convalescent home for 20 people, some impoverished, some not, or
B. Free blood-pressure screenings after Mass?
2. I've seen this done on occasion after Communion in different parts of the country with similar results, although I admit the evidence is anecdotal. "Will the following people please stand:"
A. All those who currently attend our parish school
B. All those who graduated from our parish school
C. All those who attended our parish school
D. All those who graduated from any other Catholic grade school, or high school
E. All those who attended any other Catholic grade school, or high school
More than three-fourths (oftentimes more) of the congregation is standing at this point, i.e., a vast majority of the people who were actually in the pews for (at least) those Masses had attended a Catholic school. (I'd really like to know if there's a study that addresses the question of who the practical Catholics are.)
3. Pope John Paul the Great:
A. [T]he work of the school is irreplaceable and the investment of human and material resources in the school becomes a prophetic choice. On the threshold of the third millennium we perceive the full strength of the mandate which the Church handed down to the Catholic school in that "Pentecost" which was the Second Vatican Council: "Since the Catholic school can be of such service in developing the mission of the People of God and in promoting dialogue between the Church and the community at large to the advantage of both, it is still of vital importance even in our times". (emphasis added)
B.  One of the reasons for the Church's influence on the Christian formation of Americans is her vast presence in the field of education and especially in the university world. The many Catholic universities spread throughout the continent are a typical feature of Church life in America. Also in the field of primary and secondary education, the large number of Catholic schools makes possible a wide-ranging evangelizing effort, as long as there is a clear will to impart a truly Christian education. (emphasis added)
It's about both catechizing and evangelizing our youth effectively, efficiently, and efficaciously. Despite their myriad problems, the Church's "bang for the buck" nod has to go to Catholic schools over either homeschooling, or CCD, which is to take nothing of their positives away from them. One can argue the relative merits of the good of a particular school for a particular parish, but there ought to be no doubt that, in the main, parish schools are good for the Church.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

AHA Defensive End Decommits to Minnesota

Brendan Kelly, a 6'-6" 235 lb. 3-star recruit with 4.79 speed, has withdrawn his verbal commitment to the Gophers according to the StarTribune's Chip Scoggins. I've seen Kelly play five times this year, and while he was a bit up and down, he shows good speed off the edge (for a HS DE) and his frame has not really filled out yet, so his 3-star status is legit, and this is a real loss for Coach Brewster and the dwindling "Gopher Nation."
Yes, his early commit was as soft as they come (he never stopped entertaining invitations for official visits to other schools), but there are two reasons it is interesting. First, of course, is the question of what kind of dark this is for the Minnesota program. I haven't a clue, although you can count me in the skeptical camp, if for no other reason than their inability to lock-up the local talent after it was made such a public point of emphasis. Only Champlin Park's Sam Maresh remains of the state's stable of top five players, as the rest seek greener pastures out of state.
Second, however, is more of a cultural question, which requires a little shot at my old school (and Troglotyke #1's current school). Holy Angels brands itself around confidence, preparedness, and connecting in faith. OK, where does going back on your word (in the newspaper, mind you) fit into that? Just wondering.
This verbal commit business with sports scholarships has been going on for at least a decade, so, in some sense, it's hard to fault young Mr. Kelly for playing along. But, if it's so soft, why bother making it? And if college coaches are really looking for "stand-up guys," if they are really looking for "character athletes," then why ask a high school kid to make this kind of cheesy commit? If I were a booster, I'd be looking for how much talent shows up in the fall, not non-committal commits worth slightly more than MSVaporware. Nevertheless, when we tolerate meaningless commitment when it comes to something we culturally value like leisure, is it any wonder that things like "marriage" and "family" get reduced to a punch line in "real life?"
[submitted by e-mail]


I apologize to Mr. Kelly. I have it from sources close to the program that there were other factors that influenced the change of mind. After learning the circumstances of his decision, I agree with him and support the decision. I am not at liberty to reveal the details, but keep in mind that in any committed relationship, it takes two to tango.

Scriptural Fisticuffs over the Meaning of Masculinity

There's been a bit of a dust-up at Radical Catholic Mom over the question of what constitutes masculinity (HHT: Regular Guy). One interesting thing to observe about this whole discussion is that while the original question was about masculinity, there has been really no mention of what this would mean for a priest (unless I missed it in the fog of verbal war), which is an instructive example of the interplay between service by the "head" and submission by the "body."

As for the "battle of the sexes" that ensued, there's plenty of fouls for uncharitability that merit a flag, and it seems to me that there really isn't a ton of disagreement in the main other than RCM seems to be hung up the notion that equality means a certain sameness in behaviorial outcome, rather than "an equal foothing" that is ordered to specific roles for husband and wife. As I was digging through the comments, I contemplated adding my own two cents until I found a couple of gems from Melanie Bettinelli of The Wine Dark Sea that is consistent with an earlier take of mine, but is crafted much better (nearly in their entirety):
We chose Ephesians 5 as the epistle for our wedding and I have never had a problem with understanding my husband as the head of our household or with the idea of wifely obedience. In part this is because I understand these things within the full context of the passage which calls the husband to imitate Christ while it calls the wife to imitate his Bride, the Church. Like you said, we are called to mutual submission and I trust my husband not to be a tyrant.

It seems to me like your major objection is to the word "obey". But obedience and submission do not equal dictatorial domination. The thing is there is complete obedience in the trinitarian Godhead.... Christ became obedient unto death.

It seems to me like you are using (and rejecting) a feminist's definition of those terms (obedience and leadership) rather than the Church's definitions and thus are talking past the points made by the several gentlemen in this discussion.

The lack of communication in this discussion really I would guess stems not from a difference in people's actions in their relationships but in a difference in the words people are using to describe those actions, not with the facts of leadership and of obedience but with an understanding of what true Christian leadership and obedience looks like. Hint: they look radically different in a Christian marriage with mutual submission than they do in a secular context.

When the pope refers to the passage about slavery, he is not giving himself license to say that St. Paul's words about submission and obey are wrong he is saying that we must understand and define these terms in light of Christ, in light of the cross, and in light of the resurrection.

We cannot understand the role of the woman to be merely that of Eve who is told that she will long for her husband and be dominated by him. Rather we understand it as something higher. The model for Christian marriage is that of the marriage between Christ and the Church. Mary, not Eve, is our human exemplar of the perfect bride.

In mutual submission, in the union in which both become one flesh, each must give up themselves to the other for that unity. And the wife's submission leads her husband to be able to submit himself more fully to Christ while the husband's role leads the wife to be able to follow more perfectly the voice of love. She is never called to submit to something sinful or wrong, or even dictatorial but to submit in loving union which seeks the higher good of both spouses.

The husband does-- he must-- take a leadership role; but as you say happens in your household he never dictates to his wife arbitrarily but always lovingly considers her desires, her needs, her feelings, even her whims. he consults with her and makes her a full partner in every decision that is made. A true leader is one who leads by love, by example. Christ didn't go around barking orders (though he did frequently tell people to stop sinning) he led his Church by dying for her.

The husband is called to lead, not in situation A or B because situation A or B are defined as the sorts of categories in which the husband always leads, but he is called to lead in a union which seeks the holiness of both. His first concern as a leader should always be for his wife and then for his children, he puts himself last, the perfect servant.

The sticking point seems to be in how to apply these ideas of leadership and of obedience. What do they look like in practice? Well, they're going to look different in each family, aren't they. And above all it takes prudence and prayer, as does every aspect of Christian life.

It isn't a matter of who is in charge of the finances or who is in charge when there is a fire or earthquake, or who is in charge of the home or of making the money or any of these things. Those are fluid, those can change depending on who is stronger at being able to manage those things, whichever person God has made stronger and more capable of handling them.

If I am better with money, then my husband, if he is a true leader, will allow me to pay the bills and balance the checkbook. If he is not here in an emergency, of course he knows I will do the sensible things. But if, on the other hand, he is here, then you can be sure I'm sending him down to bash the burglar's in the brains while I run to the nursery to protect the children. That falls in line with our natural abilities and proclivities.

I think of my husband as head of our domestic church and head of our household. And yet I can't think of any time when he's ordered me to do anything. My submission comes to mind more in terms of loving service to him, death to self, trying to suppress my internal selfish grumblings, to remember the sacrifices he makes for me. For example, if I want help with the dishes I ask for his help and I thank him afterwards for his service. Likewise, he thanks me for doing my ordinary household tasks like laundry and cooking and tending to our daughter's needs.

I think the honor and obedience I owe to my husband as head of our household come fairly easily to me. It mostly consists in respecting his wishes, not treating him as another child but as a grown man. I don't nag but I do respect his forgetfulness and try to remind him gently when he forgets something he's promised to do for me, remembering that I'm not his boss but his bride. It means I try to frequently acknowledge my appreciation of the sacrifices he makes in going to work everyday and all the other things he does both big and small. It isn't hard and yet at some moments it's the hardest thing I've ever done because it involves a death to self and overcoming my own selfishness and pettiness.
She goes on:

I do think there is a difference in the roles which men and women play. Though we are both following Christ and both mutually submitting to each other out of love, and thus equal in our self-donation, there are differences in how we will relate in a family. I think in that way "obedience" might be more appropriate when used of the feminine and "death to self" in terms of the masculine vocation in marriage. I'm still trying to tease out for myself why it sounds wrong to use the word "obedience" to describe the husband's relationship to his wife but not vice versa.

I thought this passage (from this article) came closer than I could to explaining the fine points:

"The fact that the context of the passage is one of mutual submission among believers indicates that Christian spouses should manifest this same reciprocity in their own relationship. It does not, however, eliminate their differences as male and female or necessarily deny the existence of particular roles which flow from this. Yet the content of these roles is invested with radically different meaning through the call directed to husbands to "love your wives even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her" (5:25). The use of the verb paredoken ("handed over") imbues the love mandated here with a paschal quality, recalling the sacrificial love manifested on the cross (c.f. Gal. 2:20). Hence the husband being kephale ("head") of his wife is given a new meaning in the light of faith. As Ben Witherington observes: "The husband becomes the chief servant, like Christ, and the wife an example of one who responds with loving submission as the Church does in relation to Christ."

The servant leadership exercised in self-giving love on the part of husbands is not wholly different from the voluntary subordination enjoined on wives insofar as both describe a form of mutual deference -- putting the needs and desires of the other ahead of oneself -- in language that will be intelligible within a specific cultural horizon. Yet the text transposes this horizon into a distinctly theological milieu, at once pneumatological, ecclesiological, and Christological. The pattern of life of the redeemed household is a specific form of discipleship which manifests the "one flesh" unity of Christ, the New Adam, and his Bride, the Church, in the New Creation (c.f. 5:31-32). Hence while still utilizing some of the language and ideas of the culture from which it emerged, the text seeks to transform the patriarchal household from within."

I think for me it comes down to this: a body can have only one head. So in a marriage the husband is the head and the wife is the heart. Both are equally important, remove either and the body receives a fatal blow; but they are different. They have different strengths and different weaknesses and I think authority and leadership are more masculine strengths while feminine strengths tend to be empathy and communication. This is in respect to broad roles, individuals' aptitudes may of course differ considerably.

I guess it's not surprising to me that men will emphasize their leadership in the family in this sort of discussion. I think it necessary to a healthy masculine psyche to be a leader. And our society seems determined to make men and masculinity into dirty words, so it is even understandable when they are overemphasized. It's a reaction to the feminisation of society which denies that it is good when men are strong and capable and exercise leadership. I know inmny discussions with my husband he has lamented the lack of strong models of masculine leadership in the Church. We have forgotten how to encourage men to be leaders in their domestic churches. Often men think of religion as women's stuff precisely because they don't see how the Church promotes their need for leadership.

The Church's innovation has been to show that this leadership is one of a servant in the model of Christ, who submits himself out of love. It is good to point this out in the context of mutual submission as JPII does, but I don't see Paul [Regular Guy] denying that truth in his posts, just reacting strongly perhaps not so much to you as to the lack of discussion about what men need to discuss, which is their need to step up and be leaders.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Funny Thing That Memory, and Where's Larry Summers When You Need Him?

Well, it turns out I got a detail wrong in my recent post on Halloween, as I was reminded this weekend by those in the know. My sister's party was the weekend after, not before, Halloween, but I returned home, rather than extend my stay to attend her party, because of Halloween. My mistake.

There are "dad" moments, there are "mom" moments, there are "parent" moments. A dad moment in one family may be a mom moment in another. Regardless, there are some things you don't appreciate fully unless you've been there. Bill Cosby, to name one, has made a career with his genius in understanding shared experiences. Yes, sympathy and intellectual understanding do exist. We don't have to live someone else's experiences to understand a lot about him. Generalities are, well, generally true. But there are limits to what we can know.

My father and I once had once discussed how do you convey what it's like to have a child to someone who has never had one. I don't know that you really can because I know I couldn't until the Troglodytrix and I had one. Actually, childless people tell us that all the time, i.e., that they don't get it.

To all those pouncing on me in the in box for being mean to my little sister, relax. It certainly was not my intention. I still contend that only a parent would appreciate fully the nature of the tension between one of those parent moments (all too few in hindsight) and an important someone else's milestone, as I described. My sister was not a parent at the time, but since has been blessed with Trogling #5. What I don't think she could have understood then, she surely understands now.

[submitted by e-mail]

The Troglodyte Top Twelve - 11/5/07

Not a lot of shake-up this week; only the BC slide for their loss to FSU. While some correctly contended the Eagles were overrated going into this last week, I'm thinking the most overrated team going into the weekend was Nebraska. That's bad news for KU. They (and Missouri) are already handicapped by the weakness of the Big Twelve North. It's going to take a quite a showing in the expected shootout against the explosive 'Pokes in Stillwater this week for "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk" to be heard ahead of SoCal in the ranking next week. ASU benefits this week by holding ground in the ranking after losing a game they weren't expected to win.

Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton Expecting Third Child

Good for her. It's not often enough we hear about an accomplished celebrity whose been married to only one person and building a family.

Just One of Those Heartwarming Moments

Troglotyke #6, patting her three-year old stomach immediately after it grumbled, while swallowing a hefty bite of cereal:
I know, belly. I'm eating.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pope Says to Eat Your Vegetables and Wash Behind Your Ears

Feast of All Souls

Not really. A life of holiness is not just the job of a select few:
All human beings are called to holiness which, in the final analysis, consists in living as children of God, (living) in that 'likeness' to him in which they were created.
So much for pawning it off on somebody else. Sure there's that whole eternity thing still to worry about, but it sure would have been a relief to be able to do so, even for a little while, given how dry things have been of late. But, alas, no, we are each called.

The universal call to holiness is one of those things that gets repeatedly said on All Saints Day. The priest said it at the all-school Mass where Troglotykes #2-#6 attend grade school. The co-adjutor archbishop also said it at the all-school Mass where Troglotyke #1 attends high school. The risk is that it gets to sounding like your mother telling you to wash the dishes, but the thing is it is also precisely something that bears repeating. After all, if holiness is not for each of us, then what's the point?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pope Benedict's Prayer Intentions for November

Solemnity of All Saints

That those dedicated to medical research and all those engaged in legislative activity may always have deep respect for human life, from its beginning to its natural conclusion.
That in the Korean Peninsula the spirit of reconciliation and peace may grow.
For more info, see the Apostleship of Prayer.

An Ultimate Dad Thing

Once again the Troglotykes have safely completed their appointed rounds to collect their culturally sanctioned candy entitlement. Acting the escort is one of the simple pleasures of American fatherhood.

Standing at the curb with a watchful eye as the brood makes its way to the door, gives a hearty "Trick or Treat" in near unison, and then departs with ringing "Thank you"'s and bright smiles; sometimes the smile comes part of the way out, sometimes it makes it all the way to my face in the dark.

Last night in our neighborhood, the ratio of "chaperoning" dads to moms was about 5:2. Since I was a child, and everywhere that I have lived, the task of taking children out "Trick or Treating" has been taken up by the fathers. Passing out the candy? That's women's work. Just one of those things. I am sure there is some psychological case to be made between the sexes: The Great Protector vs. the Nurturing Provider, or some such. Whatever the reason, it is ritual for men to wander in the streets with flashlights, purse their lips and give knowing nods and mumbled greetings to each other, and bond with their children by giving small pointers as to how to improve their candy-gathering efficiency (like wait for your 2-year old brother to get to the door before ringing the bell).

A few years ago, when the Clan lived in Oklahoma, I had a business trip for the following week planned to the Twin Cities, where our parents and siblings lived. My sister was having a milestone birthday bash the Friday before and wanted me to adjust my travel plans so I could fly up early to attend her party. The problem was that it meant I would have to miss Halloween.

Our father had died a couple years earlier. When I had missed Halloween the previous year because I was out of town, the memories that night of all those years my father had taken us out convinced me that I was shirking a duty. I hoped she would understand, but she didn't, or perhaps she couldn't. "I'm Sorry," I told my sister, "I can't miss Halloween again. It's a Dad thing."

And, yes, it's still a Dad thing. Sure, there are married women who have to be the ones to take their children, like the Troglodytrix did when I was out of town. But frankly, when I see a mother out with the children, while the dad stays home, I have to fight the same urge I get when I see a married man who regularly does not wear a wedding ring: Be a man! What are you trying to hide?

Thankfully, that's the exception and not the rule. The dad ratio remains plenty high. If ever there were a Halloween night where this dipped below a super-majority, I would fear for the nation. Until then, there is always hope.


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