Catholics, Cotton Candy, and Comeuppance

PIC Care Bear farting a rainbow

And I says to myself, I says, Sorry, Shakespeare! Sorry, Homer! Sorry, Flannery O’Connor and Evelyn Waugh, Somerset Maugham, Mark Twain, Faulkner, Melville, Doestoevsky, Chaucer, Joseph Conrad, Dickens, and Thomas “Joyboy” Mann. Sorry to you all, but you have got to go, because I’m fairly sure that on page 243, right where nice little college girls and college boys could read it, someone got in someone else’s pants and didn’t drop dead of the clap before the end of the book. And on the very next page, someone used God’s name in vain and even though a perfectly good crevasse could have plausibly opened up and swallowed him without doing much violence to the dramatic integrity of the work as a whole, IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Is outrage!

Read the rest at the Register. 


Moving past the urge to truth-bomb

Loved this post from What do you do, dear: Learning when (NOT) to talk to strangers about my child’s disability.  She says that when she was first learning to adapt to her son’s spina bifida and paralysis, she would make sure to correct the heck out of every stranger who made an innocent, incorrect assumption.

I was basically punking any well-meaning stranger who happened to cross my path. No one was safe.

There was the older gentleman at the camera shop who noticed my stroller and commented that my son would be “running all over the house in no time!” To which I smilingly chirped:

“Well, he doesn’t move his legs, so he’ll probably be all over the house in a wheelchair!”

Or the woman at the park who went on and on about how fantastically clean my kid’s shoes were:

“When you don’t walk it’s a lot easier to keep them clean! Hardy har har. . .”

She recognized that this oversharing embarrassed her and made the innocent targets of her truth bombs feel guilty and ashamed, which was not her goal. She says,

 My penchant for TMI conversations didn’t come from hurt feelings or defensiveness or even the desire to spread awareness– it came from insecurity and inexperience (and also, from being a knucklehead).

I was so hyper-aware of our situation that when strangers assumed my child was on the typical trajectory for milestones and growth, I didn’t know how not to set them straight. It was like being stuck in one of those commercials where everyone thinks they’re eating delivery but you know they’re really eating DiGiorno. How can you not shout that kind of truth into the void? That kind of secret can not be contained!

I love how she decided to make a change in her attitude and her approach. Sure, if someone wants or needs to know the details, then by all means, educate. Sometimes that’s what the situation warrants. But it’s not always necessary to bash people over the head with the whole truth, especially if they mean well and there is nothing to be gained by making everything all awkward.

And, more importantly, truth is a magnanimous thing, like a tree that bears several different kinds of fruit. She says:

And if a stranger wants to gush about what a “good boy” my son is for keeping his shoes shiny and clean, then I’ll chuckle and nod and keep our diagnosis to myself. Because, honestly, it doesn’t matter why they think he’s a good boy– he just is.

Lovely.  Read the rest here.

I hope this doesn’t offend anyone whose children are dealing with disabilities, but so much of what she said — the mistakes she made, and the changes she decided to make – rang true for me, as a mother whose life has so often been out of step from most of the people we meet. When we were homeschooling, when we started having more kids than anyone could even imagine having, when we were super duper broke, and so on, I felt so, so different. I was insecure enough to feel like I had to make sure everyoneknew that we knew were different, that we liked being different, that being different meant that we are smarter and tougher and more interesting and more courageous than you could ever imagine with your walking down the street in your clueless, pedestrian way, because we have lived life to the lifiest, and so on.

“OH, the four kids wrecking up the doctor’s waiting room are nothing, I have FORTY-SIX more kids at home, and here is a picture of all 723 cousins at our last family reunion. Now say it’s beautiful or I’ll know how little you understand about the beauty of life!!” or “Oh, you think it’s rough looking for meat that’s on sale, maybe you need to hear about the time I ATE NOTHING BUT HOT DOG BUNS FOR SIX DAYS AND WE COULD SEE OUR BREATH IN THE KITCHEN THE WHOLE TIME BECAUSE WE CHOSE TO BUY A BOOK ABOUT THE SAINTS RATHER THAN HEATING OIL.”

Urp. Sorry about that. It looked like arrogance, but it came from a profound insecurity. Before anyone could discover what a loser I was, I was going to preempt them with the truth, and if they avoided me after that, then it just showed that they couldn’t handle etc. etc. etc.

Meh. Let’s just relax. Most people have gone through something painful or difficult, either in the past or in the present, and they don’t feel the need to carry a sign announcing it to everyone. Most people are not out to offend. Most people, when they make a nice comment, are just trying to be decent human beings, so why  not return the favor and just be human beings together?

This is what people mean, or ought to mean, when they say they learned so much from their children. It’s not about your suffering and struggles vaulting you up to some superior pedestal of ultra-understanding, and it’s not about your duty to go dragging unsuspecting strangers up to your lofty level.

Really, if you’ve learned so much through your struggles with your own experience, then the main thing you ought to learn is how to be humane to other people. It’s easy to love and understand people whose lives look a lot like ours. It’s harder, but much more valuable, to learn how to acknowledge that we are all alike at one level or another. This is a truth to pursue and cling to!


Rational Catholic continues dismantling the shoddy science in Dr. Deisher’s vaccine/autism study

The indefatigable Rational Catholic, still undeterred by accusations of being an enormous meany-pants, has provided us with part two of what will be a three-part series explaining why there is no reason to accept Dr. Theresa Deisher’s study proposing a link between vaccines and autism.

In part one, Rational Catholic teased out the problems with Deisher’s statistical methodology. In part two,  Problems with Deisher’s Study: Biological Implausibility, Rational Catholic systematically dismantles Deisher’s actual hypothesis.

Noteworthy: Part II was updated to include commentary from Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, who has read all of Deisher’s public work. Fr. Austiraco has just been awarded his second research grant from the NIH. Rational Catholic added his comments on Deisher’s work with permission from Fr. Austiraco, who is a Dominican priest with a Ph.D in Biology from MIT. He teaches theology and biology at Providence College.

Congratulations to Fr. Austiraco (pictured below) and to Rational Catholic for their faithful work pursuing truth through rigorous science!



PIC Fr. Austiraco


In which I narrowly avoid Jesus Juking the heck out of you

Back in the spring, I said to myself, “This is the year! This is the year I’m going to plant one of those glorious sunflower bowers for the children.”

PIC sunflower bower



“This is so simple, even I can’t screw it up!” I thought.  “They can pretend they are fairies living in a flower fairy home, and it will be a Nice Childhood Memory Guaranteed!”

So, we chose some seeds that become hardy, mammoth flowers, we picked a sunny spot, measured out a generous circle, dug, fertilized, planted and watered faithfully. Several months later, behold the magic:

photo (9)



ON THE OTHER HAND, we have this wild mint patch outside the living room and dining room windows. Anyone who has wild mint knows that it smells nice, but how tenacious it is, how it spreads like crazy and chokes out anything else that wants to grow.  Above this mint patch, I hung a birdfeeder, which was immediately mangled by an animal which I refuse to believe was a bear. The seeds spilled all over the place, and now look what it looks like outside that window, all by itself, without me doing anything besides refusing to think about bears:


photo (13)


The outside view:


photo (14)


And the moral of this story is: YAY FLOWERS! The end.


Should Catholics read anti-Catholic materials?

mary semiramis 2


Do you know what happens when you only read things that you already know you are going to agree with? Your brain becomes a marshmallow: soft, white, undifferentiated, and incapable of doing anything besides sitting there harmlessly until someone decides to take a bite of you.

Read the rest at the Register, which includes a picture of a German Medieval sculpture which is either Mary or an ancient Babylonian deity, an extended comparison to a hot air balloon because I saw one on a truck the other day, a quickie reference to vaccinations because what the hell, the phrase “hog to the ever loving wash,” and at least one “yarr.”


Hey, who wants to talk about Dr. Deisher and vaccines and autism and fetal cells and statistics? Some more?

PIC man showing woman statistics chart

Not me! But other folks do, and ain’t other folks what make the world go round? Here are a few good reads for vaccine/austism/fetal cell/Deisher/statistical analysis die hards, following an odd exchange I had with Stacy Trasancos in the comment box of my Monday post, But what if we’re not scientists?

The folks at Rational Catholic have added an even more in-depth commentary on the statistical analysis in Dr. Deisher’s study with Looking a Little Closer at the Numbers

Joseph Moore of Yard Sale of the Mind offers Simcha Fisher’s Science Post: the Gift that Keeps On Giving!

And after Stacy Trasancos wrote this, to her credit she asked highly credentialed statistician Matt Briggs to evaluate Dr. Deisher’s study. You can read his opinion at Autism and Stem-Cell Derived Vaccines: Deisher’s New Paper.

So now you are all caught up! I find that I am sitting here slowly making my way through an unattended stick of butter as I type, so rather than go through and find tantalizing pull quotes for you from the links above, I’m going to get away from my computer for a bit. Byee!


Tantrum Ergo Sacramentum

kids in church

Which hymns would be appropriate for a Mass which culminates a celebration of all things pertaining to family life? Here are a few suggestions, from someone who’s spent the last 17 years drowning in rejoicing in Catholic family living:

  • Recalling the importance of preparing oneself for the sacrifice of the Mass: “Seek Ye First Your Shoes and Socks, Then We’ll Deal with Your Hair”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/simcha-fisher/tantrum-ergo-sacramentum#ixzz3DhzYnlnj

Read the rest at the Register.