7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 222

— 1 —

I’m going back to starting my 7QT with a video. This one has the profanity one ought to expect from The Lonely Island, but it’s also about grammar! I am delighted to note that I caught on to the surprise ending well in advance, as you should if you know anything about semicolons.

— 2 —

Feedly has finally gotten rid of Google Reader as its backend. I’m still miffed about Google axing Reader, but Feedly has been okay so far. Some of the images in posts don’t align correctly, but I can usually figure it out (although Tumblr gifsets can be tricky).

The biggest consequence of the new Feedly cloud is that all of my unread counts were set to zero. That didn’t bother me at first. Then I upgraded and realized that it meant all of the posts I still needed to read would be marked as read, which is, of course, the same as going to zero unread posts. Brain fail. For me, that was easily 100 posts. I panicked and tried to get back to the old, non-cloud Feedly. I could/can, so I spent the better part of two days trying to catch up on my feeds. I came across a couple of posts that I want to respond to, so here goes that.

— 3 —

Simcha Fisher seems to capture sarcasm in a way I never could. (A friend of mine tried to write like Mark Shea once. It failed kind of a lot.) She posted recently about modesty, focusing on the skewed use of the term “custody of the eyes” to mean only “don’t look at the extra exposed skin on that man or woman because it will cause you to lust.” Her trademark sarcasm pointed out that there are worse consequences to looking at people the wrong way than lust. I agree that restricting “custody of the eyes” to modesty is too narrow, but I was mostly surprised that other people don’t even think of it as more than modesty.

I use the broader definition of “custody of the eyes” all the time (and by “use,” I mean “think about”). It’s why one of the standout moments from my sister’s Confirmation Mass was when my grandma gave me a good solid clap on the shoulder as she was going to Communion and I was praying after receiving. It jolted me: physically, because it was, as mentioned, very strong; and mentally, because I stopped praying. I love my grandma dearly, but I was definitely upset that her desire to say hello trumped my desire (my right?) to pray at that particular intimate moment with Jesus.

The conclusion of that story is that I try to respect other people’s Communion time in the same way I hope they will respect mine. I purposely avoid making eye contact with anyone, keeping custody of the eyes. I don’t try to talk to people who appear to be praying (kneeling, eyes closed, and/or hands folded), and I hate it when people do that around me, especially in an otherwise silent or quiet church. Church is where you pray. The narthex is where you ask how your grandma’s doing. (Pretty good; the transition to life without her husband will be tough.)

— 4 —

I haven’t yet tried to keep up with all of Pope Francis’s speeches and homilies. I tried that with B16; it was a daunting task. I have a favorite quotation now, though.

Jesus. What is the most important thing? Jesus. If we push ahead with planning and organization—beautiful things indeed—but without Jesus, then we are on the wrong road. Jesus is the most important thing.

I would like to take the opportunity now to make a small, but fraternal, reproach, among ourselves, all right? All of you in the square shouted out: “Francis, Francis, Pope Francis” … but where was Jesus? I want to hear you shot out, “Jesus, Jesus is Lord, and He is in our midst.” From now on, no more “Francis,” only “Jesus.” All right?

If you’re in it for just this one pope, you’re doing it wrong. It has to be all about Jesus.

— 5 —

Mr. Marc Barnes of Bad Catholic is a great essayist, if perhaps a bit too intellectual for the average Joe. I usually skim his posts, to be honest. I saw many of the Facebook links to his criticism of “Modest is hottest” (which I also hate), but I don’t know that I’ve ever read a post by him I liked more than its second follow-up, “Modesty Sets Fire.” He starts out with a Catechism-related bang (win), continues to a great discussion of why modesty is about subjectivity and action (another win), and finishes with the quotation by Catherine of Siena that I love so much I use it as my email signature (all the win!). It’s also much shorter than some of his other posts, which is nice. I think I have a go-to post to recommend to Bad Catholic newcomers now.

— 6 —

I’ve been working on clearing out my DVR of recorded movies. I watched 50/50, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen. My entertainment philosophy is that, if a movie has a good enough story and compelling enough characters, I can handle sex, profanity, and violence. 50/50 fit that marker nicely. I felt connected to Gordon-Levitt’s character, the ordinary twentysomething who is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer (the title refers to his chance of survival), and his best friend, played by Rogen. It was only about 90 minutes long, so the pacing was perfect. It felt real. I don’t get that impression very often.

I also watched Facing the Giants. Very different movie. It’s an early effort by Sherwood Pictures to evangelize through film, this time about a high school football coach who learns to trust in God even for the impossible. It wasn’t as good as Courageous, though. The second act dragged, and the supporting actors felt too caricatured. (When I think ordinary people playing ordinary people are less caricatured than ordinary people pretending to be gang members, that’s not a good sign.) The ending felt just too contrived.

The message I took away from Facing the Giants was not that all things are possible with God, but that good things will come to you if you believe. That’s the prosperity gospel, and that’s not right. Sometimes bad things come even if you do everything right. Courageous had a much better grasp on that, by showing that sometimes all you can do is take steps toward holiness and then wait. Nevertheless, if it took a football movie to point Sherwood in the right direction, then I can get behind it.

— 7 —

No progress on the job front yet. I’m doing my best to remain hopeful and productive. I’ve knocked out a good chunk of the alumni magazines that have been cluttering my coffee table over the last year. I even decided to pick up an uncovered holy hour at the chapel I’ve been part of for two years. I don’t have to work, and it’s a short drive, so it seemed ideal to spend some extra time with Jesus.

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