Monthly Archives: August, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 186

— 1 —

As per my pattern, I’ll start with a video. I came across this video posted by the always insightful Mr. Nod. This company made the social media Nativity story, too, I think. And it will make you think.

— 2 —

I accidentally incited a Facebook debate on my timeline today. I posted a link to Teresa Tomeo’s editorial about the awful 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. I’ve gotten a hailstorm of comments on things before, but it’s never been filled with so many ten-dollar words and near-essays before. I ought to add my anti-50 Shades manifesto to the Big List of Posts I Meant to Write.

— 3 —

I finally finished that salvation history Bible study I’ve been doing all summer. It was so great to finally go from “here are all the parts of the Old Testament that point to Jesus” to “here’s Jesus in the New Testament fulfilling all these signs from the Old Testament.” I’ve been feeling the effects for weeks. Now I finally get what all the prophets are talking about and why they keep saying Israel and Judah as though they’re separate things (because they were, for a while). I know why the books of Kings and Judges are so long and intricate but have basically the same message (trust God). I wish I had time to do the 24-week study, but I’m never going to have that kind of week-to-week stability with my job. Maybe someday they’ll offer it online. I would totally pay for that!

— 4 —

In secular news, I got my hair done today. I am always running late for my appointments somehow (as I am for my weekly holy hour), but I felt a little less awful this time since the salon moved to a new location. My stylist is still incredible, though, and now my hair is extra shiny and split-end free. If only I could detach my arms and see my head from the back, I might be able to work some of that Erica magic. For now, I’m just so glad I found her.

— 5 —

That’s all I’ve got for this week. It was extra busy and I was extra tired. This does not bode well for the coming school semester, since summer is usually my less-busy, relaxing, refreshing time of year. If that was relaxation, this semester might do me in. Hmm.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Booking Through Thursday: Discuss!

Do you like to talk about what you read? Do you have somebody to talk WITH?

(Because not everybody does. I haven’t had someone to really chat about a book with since college.)

As a book reviewer, I can say that getting to share my views on books is one of the best things about my current reading life. Granted, I rarely get feedback from everyone who reads my reviews, so it’s not so much a discussion as a speech, but at least I know I’m putting my thoughts out in to the world.

One of the other things I realized about writing reviews is that I miss one of my favorite parts of book discussions in college: talking about the ending and the book as a whole. Good reviewers never give away the ending, even if they have to say it was bad or amazing. I miss being able to speak about the entire work without worrying about spoilers. But that, dear readers, is the stuff of essays, not book reviews.

The Other Side of the Future (Review: “Gathering Blue”)

If The Giver blew your mind, it may further blow your mind to know that The Giver has sequels. As if the journey of twelve-year-old Jonas through the frightening truth about his seemingly perfect world weren’t enough, Lois Lowry has spun another tale. The Giver presented a futuristic world with no choices and an oligarchy enforcing “Sameness” to create a better world, but one with sinister secrets. There are indications, though, that Jonas’s community is not the only one. What about everyone else?

In Gathering Blue, we find out what is going on in the world beyond.

Read the rest at Austin Catholic New Media.

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 185

— 1 —

This week was another huge meme/blogging fail. At least I knew last week that this week would be busy instead of being surprised halfway through. I started off with a full day of meetings, continued into an all-day off-site staff retreat, had a lunch meeting after Mass for the Assumption on Wednesday, and then had a meeting in the morning on Thursday before working until 9. Work-wise, I feel like I’m still on last week!

— 2 —

In addition to being on the staff retreat on Tuesday, I was on a personal retreat over the weekend with my non-work-related Catholic friends. It wasn’t quite what I’d expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I got to use up one of the many vacation days that pile up because I work a lot, and I got to spend some quality time with old friends and make some new ones. And it’s always nice to realize how much you value privacy when you go from living alone to sharing a roomful of bunk beds and two showers with a dozen other women. I was humbled.

— 3 —

I greatly enjoyed the Assumption this week. I was able to lead a “Bible study” on the readings on Monday night, so I was extra prepared for Mass. I was, however, supremely disappointed at our low attendance. We did have our only Mass in the middle of the day, when most people are at work or school and can’t necessarily get away (although work should be wary of not letting them off for religious reasons), but that never seems to stop the Ash Wednesday procession of penitents. Granted, the Assumption was also not a Holy Day of Obligation last year since it was on a Monday, but it breaks my heart to think of how many people might not realize that missing Wednesday was as serious as missing a Sunday. If they were aware; so be it. Either way, there’s always forgiveness for those who seek it.

— 4 —

Last night, I stumbled across one of the best ads I’ve ever seen. As the bloggers note, it’s so great because it creates an intense emotional response, it is effective, and it uses the technological capabilities of the iPad to great effect. Please be warned that the ad concerns domestic violence and may be especially disturbing if you or someone you love has experienced domestic violence.

— 5 —

My summer Bible study is almost over! We finished the Old Testament this week, which leads up to our final session, the sole one on the New Testament. I make it a point when I teach RCIA that most of “the Bible” is the Old Testament, but somehow it sneaked up on me in this study. It’s salvation history; of course it’s going to end right after we get to Jesus. I’m already experiencing the positive effects of doing this study, but that deserves its own blog post after we finish.

— 6 —

Also this week was Fr. Bob Scott‘s memorial Mass at work. His official Mass of Christian Burial was back in July just after he died, but since he spent so many of his last years in Texas (more than I’ve been alive!) and had so many friends and admirers here, we decided to hold a joint Mass with St. Austin in his memory and for his soul. We had a packed house, a special guest in Bishop McCarthy (who I’d never actually seen before in person), and a lovely time honoring Fr. Bob. May the Best Stop treat him well.

— 7 —

That’s all I’ve got this week. School is starting soon, and my summer is slipping away. I have to relish these last few days, but will probably do so by just sitting around.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday Five: Love

Hooray! The Friday Five is back. Well, sort of. These questions were actually posted for August 3, and there haven’t been any since then. Any is better than none, though.

  1. How many times have you been in love? Either once or never. If true love can end, then just once. If true love never ends, then never.
  2. Who was your first love? My old boyfriend, Greg. I have no idea where he is now, but I hope he’s doing well.
  3. Valentine’s Day: love or hate it? I’m neutral. I haven’t had anyone to celebrate with in a long time, but I try not to wallow too much in sadness over my singleness. Just think of how much pent-up Valentine’s Day energy will come bursting out someday!
  4. What was the last romantic thing you did for someone? I can’t remember. That can’t be good.
  5. Soul mates: do you believe in them? Not really. Too many people try to use “finding their soul mate” as an excuse for passing up a perfectly good opportunity for marriage or being unfaithful to the one they’re already in. I think lifelong, loving marriages are possible even without the concept of soul mates.

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 184

— 1 —

Let’s start this week with a video. I was searching for the lyrics to No Doubt’s new song, discovered that P.O.D. released an album this year, and decided to figure out which was the latest of their songs I remember. Turns out it’s this one, so here’s a nice throwback Christian hip-hop video for you.

(P.S. Watch all the way to the end and see if you can spot a certain pop diva who has made various bad life choices since those days.)

— 2 —

In addition to doing marriage preparation, I am now our non-priest baptism preparer. I had my first “student” on Tuesday. We run a sort of self-study course since we have so few baptisms, and he did a great job preparing. My role was mostly to acknowledge his learning and fill out the appropriate forms. I still love it when people do their homework.

— 3 —

I went to confession on Saturday. I think I’ve mentioned here before that I am on a once-a-month schedule, but this time I actually needed to go. I always feel a little awkward going in; since I’m there so often; I’m in and out pretty quickly. I’m too busy being absolved and happy to notice anyone’s reaction, though.

— 4 —

I am leaving tomorrow morning (so early) for a retreat. I actually get to go on this one! I was offered the opportunity to give a talk, but I politely declined because this is the one retreat I get to go on all year that is not work. It’s just time for me to hang out and pray and learn and just be. I am very excited.

— 5 —

In preparation for the retreat, I just finished baking eight dozen cookies. The recipe officially yields five dozen, but I guess I must have used a tablespoon to drop them last time instead of a teaspoon. That leaves me with six dozen to take on retreat and about a dozen and a half for myself/coworkers. And my apartment smells like chocolatey heaven.

I call them monster cookies. I like to imagine that the oatmeal cookie sneaked up and ate the chocolate chip and peanut butter. No one suspects the oatmeal cookie.

— 6 —

On Tuesday, my door refused to lock. It was frustrating because then I had two broken locks (including the deadbolt), and I can’t exactly leave my apartment unlocked. I will give my management company credit for sending someone within ten minutes of my frustrated call and then making sure the problem was actually fixed, but I will not give them credit for letting an entire business day go by between my reporting the almost-non-lockability and their actually fixing it. The regular maintenance guys showed up about an hour ago (8 p.m. on a Friday). Nope; locking just fine now, five days after I told you about the problem.

— 7 —

Oh! I almost forgot: I got new glasses! The prescription is basically the same, but the frames are totally new. This is the biggest change I’ve made in five years. I also have sunglasses now. They have made my world figuratively brighter (and literally shadier, of course), and they are Wayfarers, so I feel like I’m living “The Boys of Summer” every day. When I have a good hair day, I’ll get a new picture, so it should be up in about a year.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

The Gradual Road to Hell (Review: “The Screwtape Letters”)

This church looks about right for those saints. (photo by mamasuco)

I have finally found some paranormal romance that I like! Well, that’s not entirely true. This week’s book is about the paranormal and does contain romance, though. I will concede only one thing to Twilight and its successors in the paranormal romance genre, and I will admit to two: they’re getting girls to read, and they can lead to them reading actual classics like Pride and Prejudice because apparently Bella likes them. Ultimately, I hope that books like Twilight will lead to more substantial reading. Indeed, as Goodreads reviews suggest, at least one reader was duped into reading The Screwtape Letters by its premise (she thought it would be “sexy in a dark fun kind of way”), but found herself edified by the experience. Great literature always has the power to transform.

So, dear readers, are you intrigued by the premise of The Screwtape Letters? Read the rest at Austin Catholic New Media.

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