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Podcast #4! S.C. Naoum of Eye of the Tiber refuses to swear in Aramaic

 

… but only because he’s self-conscious about his accent. We’ll get him next time.

I just sent out a Soundcloud link to all my lovely patrons, so you can hear my fourth podcast, a half-hour conversation with the comic genius S. C. Naoum, who created Eye of the Tiber and who still writes 95% of it.  You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month, and I appreciate every single pledge.

I’m still experimenting with the best model to make this blog work. I would really love to keep posting five times a week, and to keep it free of ads. As you know, I also write for The Catholic Weekly, I freelance at various places, I do speaking engagements, and I’m about to re-launch my “Catholic Artist of the Month” feature at Aleteia; and I have another recurring project in the works for later this year.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-2-35-48-pm

Is that bringing in enough income? Nnnnnot yet!

This is the part where most bloggers will start calling you by affectionate nicknames, using lots of exclamation points, reminding you of how much super fun we’ve had over the years, and nodding and winking maniacally about how much super fun we will definitely continue to have, as long as you pledge at any point, such as now. FUN!

Maybe they will even laboriously put together “Top Ten Dank and Woke Reasons You Can’t and Won’t Even Bother to Consider Not Becoming a Patron of This Blog, As If!”

Instead, I’ll just share what really goes through my self-employed head:

11:40 on a Tuesday:

This is actually going really well. I am wise and prudent and enterprising, I know how to hustle, I have done my homework, and I really believe in this model of speaking to and working with my readers directly, eliminating irrelevant middlemen and fostering a true sense of community.

And as an added bonus which benefits everyone, never again will I have a perfectly good naughty pun neutered like a newt. Never again will I sit before my keyboard, locked into literary paralysis by the very real fear that, even though I said something good, true, and beautiful, it’s going to be misconstrued by someone who barely knows how to read but who is a giant donor to someone who is a medium-sized donor to someone who has influence over the person who signs my checks. Never again!

Yes, yes, I am seeing slow but steady growth, and I am striking a very good balance between gentle self-promotion and a liberating focus on my true vocation. Yes. This is my best year ever.

Five minutes later:

Fuckity fuckty fuck fuck fuck. This isn’t working, this isn’t working. Can I use my van to drive for Uber? [hurriedly Googles “sell kidney southern NH how much”] THIS ISN’T WORKING. The only thing I can do is ask for more money, and the more I do that, the more everyone hates me. I hate me. It’s only a matter of time before they kick me off the internet, and the only thing people will remember of me is that some lady named Cynthia got in a fight with Tito Edwards over a potato, and then everyone stopped believing in blogs. It’s over. It’s over. I’m done.

Three minutes later:

OH, somebody pledged a dollar! This is really, really working! I’M A GOLDEN GOD!

And so on.

So here’s my appeal to you:

I’m a pretty okay writer, right? I feel like I am. So, can you send me some money, please? I promise I’m using it mainly to pay very boring bills, and the occasional bottle of kangaroo wine. Did I mention that the van needs brakes, the washing machine is making a whole new squawking noise, and we have two kids starting college in the Fall?  And the rest of them keep eating and eating and eating?

If you pledge, not only will you stave off my nervous breakdown, but you will also get access to weekly podcasts, and I’m also offering various other perks as thank-yous: Pants Pass decals, Dignaroos, autographed books, and others. Please check it out and pass it on!

That’s all I got. Thank you.
P.S. You’re a golden god. You are.

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Patreon! My podcast! And dignity. Always dignity.

My husband says that I have many skills, but self-promotion is not one of them.

He is correct.

Here are two things that I haven’t been able to bring myself to tell you about, even though I’m hoping they will, you know, succeed and make me money or whatever.

FIRST THING: I have a podcast. Damien and I have been doing 27-minute* podcasts which do not at all labor under that awful burden of too much polish. Nope, I will never ever say “Wypchać się sianem!” Nor will I overproduce, overthink, or over-prepare for one of these podcasts. Last time, for instance, we explained what not to do about ice dams on your roof, we accused each other of various misdeeds with soup, and I praised Mariah Carey’s beautiful tush.

HOW can you hear this amazing podcast? You can become a patron through Patreon. That’s SECOND THING.

As you can see, this blog does not have any ads on it. This provides a beautiful, uncluttered reading experience. It also keeps my bank account from becoming cluttered with money. In the interest of feng shui, I’d like to balance out the zero advertising dollars with dollars coming in from somewhere else, because of my wretched attachment to things like groceries and electricity.

This site will always be free to read. With Patreon, masochists readers can keep it going by, well, sending me money; and as a thank-you, I send various perks.

Here’s how that works:

If you sign up to pledge a dollar a month — A DOLLAR A MONTH! — you get access to my podcast. (I originally set the podcast pledge level at $5, but those four extra dollars have been haunting me, so $1 it is. If you pledged $5 to get the podcast and want to change your pledge to $1 now, I won’t be offended.) (See above: Not great at self-promotion.)

Here’s my Patreon pledge structure:

$1 monthly pledge makes you a Fisher of Pants (an actual phrase someone typed into Google and then ended up at my blog) and gives you access to the podcast. Every week, I’ll email you a private Soundcloud link so you can download it and listen at your leisure.

Any additional pledge earns you the podcast and also . . .

$5 monthly makes you a Little Two-Legs, and I’ll send you a Pants Pass decal.

$10 ??? Still looking for ideas. I’ve rearranged this perk structure so many times, I think I’m going to throw up, so I’m just going to leave it like this because I’m dying here.

$50 monthly makes you a Heretical Hosebeast, and gets you an autographed copy of my book, The Sinner’s Guide to NFP, OR an autographed copy of one of the other books to which I’ve contributed: Style, Sex, and Substance and Catholic and Married: Leaning Into Love.

$75 makes you a Defender of Dignity and earns you a pair of Dignaroos, which I still think is funny, even if no one else does.

$100 patrons are Actual Patrons, and I will contribute an additional $100 yearly to our partnered family in India through our favorite charity, Save a Family Plan. Hooray, I’m useful!

And finally, for $500, you can call yourself a Mensch, and I’ll mail you a nice batch homemade rugelach. Your choice, cherry or apricot, with nuts or without.

Okay, phew.

To all the amazing folks who went ahead and pledged even before I got my act together enough to tell anyone about it, thank you so much. It was enormously encouraging to me as I made the leap to an independent site, and I appreciate it so much!

To everyone else, please consider making a pledge so I can keep churning out this nonsense. And whether you pledge or not, please share this post, especially with your rich friends.

Thank you. From the bottom of Mariah Carey’s beautiful tush, thank you.

*I don’t know why.

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Is it easier for rich people to have big families?

Heart of money

David Mills is doing a little self-examination at Aleteia with A Marxist Lesson for Breeding Catholics: What is romance to the comfortable can be a burden to the poor and sick. Mills is a good and honest man, and has a knack for prodding our weak spots without excusing himself. I think he’s only half right in this essay, though.

His main thesis: Most of the Catholics writing about Catholic sexuality are resting comfortably in a place of privilege — and they should knock it off. For a Catholic middle class couple, says Mills, having another child

 may mean giving up a vacation if the family’s wealthy, or the Thursday family dinner out if the family’s middle class. Her arrival won’t mean giving up food, or rent or the parochial school that can make all the difference to his older siblings’ future.

It’s easy, he says, for a financially secure couple to let their marriages be fruitful, and to see Catholic sexual teaching as a lovely and liberating thing. But, says Mills, the poor do not have this luxury, and may face genuine hardships that a middle class couple never even considers.

Mills says,

 The affluent for whom the Catholic teaching is not a great burden can fall to the temptations of their class, one of which is to think of their children as lifestyle accessories … You can feel that God rewarded your obedience and sacrifice by giving you more “toys” than your friends have.

He concludes:

We the comfortable, who speak so romantically of being open to life—because for us, with our privileges, it is a romance—could find ways to make it a romance, and not a terror, for others too.

Overall, he has a very good point — and truly, the main reason my book about the struggles of NFP sold so well was because there was such a glut of “perky” public discourse on the topic. About a decade ago, just about anybody who talked about the Church’s sexual teaching talked about how lovely, how fulfilling, how empowering, how enlightening, how life-changingly, marriage-buildingly, blindingly awesome it all is. So the world was pretty ready for a book that said, “Yes, but it’s also really hard, and sometimes it stinks on ice. Here’s why it’s still a good idea.” (And if you’re interested in making my life a little more romantic, then for goodness’ sake, buy my book!)

It’s a bad idea to present Church teaching as a golden ticket to happiness. But more specifically, I have a quibble with the idea that material wealth usually makes it easier to be “open to life” (a phrase which Mills uses to mean “ready to have another baby,” which is really only a part of what that phrase means — but that’s a post for another day!). Depending on what crowd you’re in, you can get very different ideas about who’s struggling with what. I mean no disrespect, but Mills, a white-bearded male scholar, most likely reads about Catholic sexual teaching in books and journals, where one is unlikely to hear anything candid, raw, unpolished or, frankly, honest. For some more useful research on the topic, try hanging around in the back of the church with other women who can’t sleep because they’re not sure if they’re pregnant or not, and they can’t make up their minds how guilty to feel about the way they feel about it.

He does acknowledge that the poor aren’t just helpless saps, too anemic to grapple with the headiness of solid doctrine:

The poor are not merely victims but moral agents who can teach the comfortable, not least about the good life and the place of children therein. As Pope Francis said, “For most poor people, a child is a treasure. … Let us also look at the generosity of that father and mother who see a treasure in every child.”

I wish he had said more about this. In truth, it’s often wealthy couples who struggle more with the notion of having another baby.  Poor couples can be so accustomed to uncertainty, and so used to making the best out of whatever happens, that the notion of having yet another child is less terrifying to them than it would be to a wealthy, secure couple who feel like their material lives, at least, are under control. A couple with an empty checking account and a fridge full of government cheese can laugh hilariously when they read that it takes $245,000 to raise a child; but a couple who actually has $245,000 in the bank might gulp and think twice before taking that kind of plunge.

Poverty is (or at least can be) a great teacher, because we are (as Mills points out) allpoor in one way or another — if not materially, than maybe physically, or emotionally, or in our relationships. Being poor in any of these ways makes it obvious that we are not in control, but that we still need to work very hard to get more in control — which is an excellent model for how to approach parenthood, and marriage, and life in general. Try really hard all the time; realize, all the time, that a lot of what happens is not up to you.

Is it easy to trust God, with your sexual life and otherwise, when you’re poor? I’m not going to say yes! Poverty is no joke, and being poor and pregnant can be twelve different kinds of miserable. But I’m not going to say that money makes it easier to trust God. There’s a reason Jesus warned about getting bogged down with riches.

As for why it’s mainly the secure and happy who write about sex, there are two reasons. The first is legitimate, and it’s that people who struggle don’t want to reveal private things about their marriage to the world.  It may be comforting for Jack and Joanne to read that Alyssa and Aaron had a big fight about sex; but Aaron probably won’t appreciate it if Alyssa spills all to the Huffington Post.

The second reason is less defensible. We faithful can be loathe to speak publicly about our struggles because we’re afraid that we’ll scare away the undecided — that our suffering will be the final nudge that tips an on-the-fence couple the wrong way.  So we Happy Face it up, thinking we’re helping the Holy Spirit out with one of His less-successful PR campaigns.

Poverty comes in many forms, as Mills acknowledges; and so does faith in God. I am working on learning how to put more trust in the truth when I write about my faith. It’s not up to me to paste a happy ending on the word of God, and that is true no matter how much money I have in the bank.

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Grace is free, but not all fees are simony

Abbé_pratiquant_la_simonie

The expense of obtaining a decree of nullity makes it difficult for some people to come into full communion with the Church. When annulments are expensive, there is also the risk that outsiders (or even Catholics) perceive that annulment is just “Catholic divorce,” for sale to parishioners with enough ready cash. But here’s the problem: it really does cost money to do it right.

Read the rest at the Register.

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The boy has an aha moment.

PIC Aha band “Not this kind, fortunately. Never this kind.”

Says the boy: My tooth is almost out. Can I just have my tooth fairy money now so I can buy this thing?
Me: Nope. Sorry.
Boy: Okay. I guess I better haul some more rocks so I can earn the money, because I really want it.
Me: Good idea.
[Me on the inside: HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]

Now to spread the word to everyone who owns a credit card . . .

 

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Defund! Defund! Defund!

A Massachusetts antiabortion group has unveiled a bill that would let individual taxpayers opt out of paying for publicly funded abortions. Under the measure, a taxpayer could choose to have whatever portion of their state taxes pays for abortion coverage directed instead to the Baby Safe Haven Law. That law allows parents to leave unwanted newborns at fire stations and other designated locations.
I LOVE this idea.  Puts those Planned Parenthood ghouls in the position of saying,  “We don’t want desperate mothers to have a way to unburden themselves of a baby they don’t want or can’t care for.  Women should not have the choice to go to a safe location — they should be forced to do what their government and big corporations want them to do.”
Anne Fox, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, said the bill, one of several filed by the group for the new legislative session, would give residents who oppose abortion a way of exercising their conscience. The head of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, Andrea Miller, said she had not seen the bill but argued that tax dollars routinely go toward many things that a given taxpayer might not agree with. (AP)
Let me translate for you:  “But that’s ourrrrrrrrrr money!  It’s not fai-i-i-i-ir that someone was clever and enterprising enough to push for laws that a majority of citizens want!  We are, and always have been, opposed to choice for Americans!”
This is the way to do it.  Prayer, huge, peaceful protest, the brilliant Lila Rose with her exposés, and defund, defund, defund.  Some abortionists are just plain evil, and some, I’m sure, sincerely believe they are helping women.  But most of them are in it for the money, pure and simple — and they are making plenty of it.  Time to cut them off.
Oh, and I love how the Globe and other media think it’s some kind of stinging insult to say “antiabortion” instead of “prolife.”    Call me “antiabortion” all day long, folks.  Abortion is the kind of thing that the prefix “anti” was invented for.
(cross-posted on Inside Catholic)

 

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You can’t be any poorer than dead – UPDATED

Trick-or-treaters might be coming around with UNICEF donation boxes.  Don’t give ‘em a dime — UNICEF pushes for abortion and sterilization as part of its efforts to improve the lives of women and children.  Beyond the immediate irony of that idea, it’s not even good policy.  According to CatholicCulture.org (emphasis mine):

Pro-family UN watchers are concerned that [UNICEF’S] disproportionate focus on unsafe abortion, based upon questionable maternal mortality figures, detracts from addressing the major health risks to pregnant women in the developing world. Experts say these are severe bleeding, eclampsia, and obstructed labor. By UNFPA’s own admission in a 2004 report, the most important means of reducing maternal mortality is not access to contraceptives and legal abortion but the presence of skilled birth attendants and access to emergency obstetric care.

Imagine:  those backward, third-world women would rather survive childbirth than get help killing their children.  Savages.

 

Abortion proponents often link unsafe abortion and maternal mortality to push for legal, “safe” abortion. Critics of this argument are quick to point out that in Poland, when abortion was severely restricted in 1993, the country showed a sharp decline in the abortion rate and a decline in maternal deaths. In Ireland, where abortion remains illegal, the country reports one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world. By contrast, while the United States has had abortion on demand since 1973, this year the US reported a rise in maternal deaths.

Oh, and look at this!  I was searching for an image for this post, and turned up this ad:

It’s an ad placed by the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation, and shows an axe hacking into the Star of David.   And looky!  There’s the UNICEF sponsorship logo, down at the bottom left.  (Image source and more information here.)

(Wait, let me save the very vocal minority here a little trouble:  Israel has committed atrocities!  They are the true criminals here!  Ms. Fisher’s blind, jingoistic support of Israel is what’s wrong with the Church and the world in general!  Aieeeeee, boogie boogie boogie, somebody said something about the Jooooooos!

Hokey doke.  Let’s just think about this for a second.  What is UNICEF for, again?  According to their website, it “works for children’s rights, their survival, development and protection.”

You know, with an axe.)

I’m not in favor of burdening young children with more bad news than they need to know.  If mini Buzz Lightyear shows up on your porch with a UNICEF donation box, just say, “No thanks, but here’s your fun size Snickers.”  But if your kid is being pressured by his school to use these collection boxes, you can tell him what I just said to my daughter:  UNICEF does some good things, but they also do a lot of bad things, and we don’t want to help them hurt people.  There are other charities that do a better job of helping poor people, so we give our money to them instead.

Here is our favorite charity, run by the Church with an incredibly low overhead:  Save a Family Plan.  Among other programs, you can choose a plan in which your family sponsors a desperate family in India, helping them to become educated and self-sufficient within a few years.    Boy, they get the job done.  And somehow they manage to do it without killing anyone.

UPDATE:

Sandy, an alert reader, sent the following links to clarify the connection between UNICEF and PYALRA, the organization that ran the ad above.  According to Israel National News,

“In a statement dated March 23, UNICEF president, Caryl M. Stern, denounced the “incorrect use of the UNICEF logo” and stated that “UNICEF was not consulted by PYALARA about the use of its logo in a poster announcing a youth broadcast and it condemns the use of its logo to imply endorsement of political opinions. Neither the poster nor the television program it advertises reflect UNICEF’s policies or its views.” Ms. Stern added that “UNICEF’s partnership agreement with PYALARA ended in January 2010” and that “UNICEF will be carefully reviewing any proposed future partnerships with PYALARA.”

Glad to hear it.  UNICEF still stinks, but at least this time, it turns out I was the one going “Aieee, the Joooos.”  Sorry about that!

Here are a few more links with more information about this story

http://thebulletin.us/articles/2010/03/31/news/world/doc4bafdbe416e47247495742.txt

From the Anti Defamation League: http://www.adl.org/Internet_Rumors/UNICEF.htm