Tag Archives: chastity

7 Quick Takes on Teacher Mode, Twitter, and Chainsaws

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Faculty orientation has begun. I’m slowly getting my teacher vocabulary back (for example, “vertical curriculum alignment”), preparing for the new perspective of younger students (I am moving down to middle school from high school), and trying to navigate my new school.

Some of that is almost literally navigating, via mental map-building; the school has a complex floor plan! I haven’t gotten lost yet, but I’m sure the time is coming. I forgot about that feeling of walking through a new door into a familiar room, feeling like I’ve slipped through a wormhole.

I must say that I love my new commute, though. It’s much shorter and easier, and it gives me just the right amount of time to switch from Teacher Mode to Regular Mode.

— 2 —

I used to listen to music when I got ready for the day. Podcasts were reserved for my exhausting commute, and I only read books. Lately, I’ve been trying audio books. It’s a very different experience, both in the sense of needing to pay attention as I do my hair and makeup and in the sense of listening to a book instead of looking at it. My most recently completed audio book was a huge letdown. It was a good lesson in being discerning about the books I choose. I can only read (and listen to) so many!

Laura Vanderkam left me mildly terrified when she pointed out that our available time to read books is as limited as our time on the planet. I am not sure I’ll be able to keep up my reading pace when school starts. (Audio books will probably help.) At best, I’ll probably only read her approximated 1250 books before I die. That includes books that I don’t wind up liking very much!

That number also makes me think about books that I recommend. Is the book I’m pushing good enough to be one of my friends’ 1250? Is it really a “must-read” when the number of “can-read” books is so few?

— 3 —

“Study: Less sex education leads to less sex.” Yeah, that caught my eye when I saw it, too! The article is worth reading (it ends at the bolded headline, “Is opposition…?”), but the main point is that, across England, when huge budget cuts came for a government program designed to prevent teen pregnancy, the rates of teen pregnancy actually went down, region by region, with the biggest declines in areas with the largest budget cuts. Even the researchers were surprised.

I’m not sure I’m surprised. Is it any wonder that providing less information and birth control to teens makes them less likely to take the risk of pregnancy? If you push information that makes it sound as if they can have sex without babies basically forever, I can see how that might open the door to risky behavior for teens who might otherwise be turned away by the risk of pregnancy.

— 4 —

I have a new level of sympathy for people who work on weekends or in retail. I frequently come to the defense of such workers when other people complain that a store is closed when they wanted to shop (do you want to work on Sundays; if not, why should someone else work, and work late, so that you can shop at 8 p.m.?) and been polite to people in less-skilled jobs. I’m no saint, but I try to keep that point of view in mind and be grateful for the opportunities I have.

But now, I’ve been there, for a little while. I’ve felt the need to cling to my identity (and job) as a teacher when people think of me as “just” a cook. I’ve worked until 9 p.m. Saturday night and then gotten up early on Sunday to go to Mass before working another full 8-hour shift. I’ve been unable to see Mr. Man as much as I had before because we worked on opposite schedules.

I always hesitate to wish or pray for greater perspective because I’ll wind up with a hard-learned lesson. I didn’t even ask for this one, and I got it anyway.

— 5 —

I started getting space warnings on my phone, so I deleted Instagram. It wasn’t a social media self-assessment, like the one that led me to delete Facebook; it was really just about the space. Then the weirdness began.

Instagram started sending me emails. It let me know how many of my friends had posted. It suggested accounts for me to follow. (I will not follow Kim Kardashian unless she’s leading me to emergency supplies or shelter.) It took a while for me to realize that was all triggered when I deleted the app! And then it got even weirder:

I still haven’t reinstalled the app, but I did log in from my browser when I got some likes. Gotta block and report those spammers! Now I think I’m permanently weirded out by how closely these computers are watching me (she says, recounting the whole thing on her blog).

— 6 —

In other Twitter news, I started some legit discussion with this tweet:

True story. That was inspired by my actual experience. Some spaces are still sacred! My desire to not have my restroom behavior transmitted via phone trumps your desire to make that call right then. What could you possibly need to talk about with someone so desperately that you must have that phone conversation while in the restroom?

— 7 —

And for a final social media moment, I shared this post from Goodreads on Facebook and got so many awesome responses! What’s yours?


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Reading, Planning, and Dating

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

As evidenced by the “old news” in last week’s 7QT and my ridiculously overdue 2016 year in review post, I am still clearing out my backlog of things I wanted to share here. Will you humor me with just a few more oldies?

For the third year in a row, I was among Pocket’s top 5% of readers. Or maybe it was the opt 1%. I can’t remember! I neglected to clip the email properly to share a screenshot, so just trust me; I read a lot in Pocket.

If you like to read articles online (or watch videos), but find yourself wandering down the rabbit hole of links or worrying about wasting data loading ads on your phone, you’ll enjoy Pocket. It’s been revolutionary for my reading habits. Why scroll through Facebook aimlessly looking for something to read on the go when I can read articles I have already curated?

— 2 —

I don’t have the link to my Pocket Year in Review anymore, but I do have my Goodreads 2016 Year in Books. I was pleased with last year’s reading. I read plenty of nonfiction early in the year and slipped in some awesome fiction towards the end, and I met my overall book goal. Goodreads has been excellent for my book-reading in much the same way Pocket has for articles.

Read ALL the books!

— 3 —

I was much less pleased with my life planning. I still have the plan, but I haven’t reviewed it for at least six months. I’m pretty sure it still shows calling my grandmother once a month as an action item, and she died in August.

I am expecting to have some time in the near future for some extensive revisions, though, so I was glad to pick up a free life plan review tool from Building Champions back at the turn of the year. The video is no longer available, but the review tool (and the free tool for writing your first draft of a life plan) are still there.

We plan vacations, and we plan weddings, but have you ever planned your life?

— 4 —

I am still reading and loving Verily magazine. I especially like their “Gentlemen Speak” feature, which consists of articles written by real men or roundups from interviews with the same. Before I met Mr. Man, I often wondered why the nice, smart, charming, churchgoing men I met were never interested in me. We clicked so well! Wasn’t there something more than just “not feeling it” or the standard-but-infuriating “intimidation” factor? Andrew Mentock offers a few novel ideas why a great conversation doesn’t always lead to a date invitation.

Fun fact: I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Mentock (not to be confused with Mr. Man) in person. The Internet is maybe not such a huge place after all.

— 5 —

Related to the dating theme, I was fascinated by an essay posted in ZENIT about the effect that promoting chastity has had on slowing the spread of AIDS in Uganda. Americans in particular seem to think of Africa as one homogenous zone that needs saving, where AIDS spreads like wildfire. That’s not true any more than it’s true of the U.S. The A-B-C method really can work.

— 6 —

I manage my email really well, so I tend to stay subscribed to email lists for a long time and actually read what they send (or unsubscribe properly). I was not, however, expecting to hear from Small World of Words. I participated in their word association study online so long ago that I have absolutely no memory or record of it.

It was neat to see the results, of course, but getting that random email was also a reminder of just how long scientific research takes. We tend to just hear about results—especially when they are sensational—but I always forget that it might have taken years of data collection and analysis to get to those conclusions.

— 7 —

My life as a YNABer is still going well. I am currently casually mentoring a recent convert to budgeting. It took some encouraging to get past the idea of waiting for a “normal month” before committing to building that first budget. There’s just no such thing as a normal month!

There will always be something unexpected. Your car will need repairs. Your child will get sick. A bill will arrive. There’s a reason I built my first budget with a category called “Stuff I Forgot to Budget For.”

Budgeting is not about being able to predict the future or relying on historical spending data. It’s about using the money you have now to pay for the things you need now, some things you just want, and things that you’ll need later. Budgeting is about facing reality.


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Clothes On, Heart Full (Review: The Thrill of the Chaste, Catholic Edition)

In my happy journey through every book on chastity known to Christian man, I made a stop at The Thrill of the Chaste back in 2012. The book had been out for years; I tend to be a later adopter. My favorite aspects of that edition were Eden’s utterly realistic experience and her comments about the loss of innocence. Through the wonders of the Internet, Eden herself found my review, complimented me on it, and revealed that she had been working on a new book about healing from sexual wounds through the lives of the saints. By reaching out to me, she sparked the great relationship I have with her current publisher, Ave Maria Press. I have been edified by the books I have read since, and I hope you all, dear readers, have enjoyed my writing about them.

I knew Eden had entered the Catholic Church after publishing The Thrill, and I was delighted to see in My Peace I Give You that there was still more for her to share about finding peace and redemption through embracing a chaste lifestyle. And who doesn’t love saints?

"Living chastely is a bold challenge to modern culture, because it proves that people are not automatons but human beings with free will." —Dawn Eden

Imagine my delight to find that the very same Dawn Eden, chastity advocate and new(-ish) Catholic, had revised her initial reflections on converting to chastity in a new, Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste. It’s been some time and many books since I first encountered her story, and I am pleased to note that the infusion of Catholicism only enriches her witness.

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

Choosing to Love, Now and Every Day (Review: “Chastity Is for Lovers”)

Chastity is about making the choice, over and over, every day, to love. —Arleen Spenceley

Whether or not you’re a virgin, chastity is for you. I read a lot about chastity. You might have noticed that if you’ve read any of my writing here at Austin CNM. I recently re-discovered the blog of Arleen Spenceley, a chastity advocate and professional journalist, when I got word of her new book for Ave Maria Press, Chastity Is for Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin. In it, Spenceley presents a long-form explanation of her journey into speaking openly about virginity, chastity, and the truth of love and sex that can only be found in the Gospel.

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 182

— 1 —

Secular media tends to just make fun of virgins and people who support chastity. (Remember TLC’s Virgin Diaries? It’s still on!) It’s nice to see an editorial in the Tampa Bay Times written by a chastity advocate, especially one who’s still going strong three years after outing herself. Thanks to the Everts for the recommendation.

— 2 —

After last week’s craziness (it’s so hard being popular), it was nice to have a much more relaxed time this week. I even managed to get my laundry finished before the sun went down!

— 3 —

I belong to a Harry Potter-themed LiveJournal community called Hogwarts Is Home. Don’t laugh; we have good times! It’s been a fantastic way to build (online) community and share my never-ending love of Harry Potter with people who already share it, so they get me. I actually joined way back in undergrad, but I decided to get back into it last month. If you’re interested, you can join by having an LJ for at least two months and filling out the application at Platform 9 3/4. Tell them angelicid sent you!

While I’m being honest, part of the reason I re-joined was that I was sorted into Hufflepuff on Pottermore. I agree with that sorting, but I needed to indulge my Ravenclaw side, too, so back to Hogwarts Is Home I went. I hear Pottermore has the Chamber of Secrets chapters open now, so I’ll be back there soon and blogging about it here. (But there’ll be spiders. Interactive spiders. Hmm.)

— 4 —

If that last take didn’t scare you away, here’s the part with pictures!

One of the activities at Hogwarts is Home recently was to create an outfit that a Hogwarts student not of your house might wear to show house pride while not in uniform. That was my introduction to Polyvore. I don’t completely understand Polyvore, but it is addicting to sift through all the amazing designer clothes I will never ever be able to afford, especially when it has a point like creating this sweet Hufflepuff pride outfit.

I would actually wear this!

I intentionally gave it a dash of blue. I am right on the cusp of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, so I needed to express a little original house pride with the new one.

— 5 —

Perhaps among the stranger activities was to use Polyvore to create an outfit that a Hogwarts-bound preschooler might wear. Hogwarts students don’t get sorted until they’re 11, but the idea is that you might manifest your eventual house a little early. My Ravenclaw preschooler would be pretty darn cute.

Well, that might look a little better on a second grader, but you get my drift.

— 6 —

I have just realized I made a grave omission in my 7QT. I have never gushed about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries! If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice, you will squeal with delight over this modern adaptation. Lizzie has a video blog (as does Lydia, at the moment), Bingley has become the remarkably attractive Asian Bing Lee, and all the characters have Twitter. It is so epic. I apologize now for ruining your next hour or so by starting you off with Episode 1 right here.

And now I’m not sorry, because it is awesome and you’re welcome.

— 7 —

I remembered that the Olympic opening ceremonies were tonight about an hour in, but I caught some of the good parts. Congratulations on encouraging efficiency in what the hosts claim is the fastest Parade of Nations ever, London. Ralph Lauren, what were you thinking with those Team USA hats? Is it a beret? Do real people wear those? And hooray for teamwork in building the cauldron. Good times all around.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ll Never Read

It’s Wednesday, and it’s late enough as I begin this that I know with certainty I will be back-dating (back-timing) this post to get it filed under the correct day. I have had many awesome things to do this week, though, so I do not regret being late. I also do note regret this because I get to pick my own topic: it’s a freebie week for TTT.

Top Ten Books I’ll Never Read (In No Particular Order)

  1. The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy: This ought to go without saying, but it needs saying! I fleshed out my reasons in my media discernment column at ACNM, but the consensus was that not enough Catholics (or humans, really) were speaking out against it. It’s erotica, which is like pornography except that it uses words instead of pictures. It is mainstream and readily acquired in the age of e-books. It is seen as harmless and acceptable. None of these are good things! I’m staying away. As a SomeECard once said regarding Bud Light Lime, if you ever see me holding a copy of any of the Fifty Shades books, I have been kidnapped and am trying to signal you.
  2. The Da Vinci Code or any other book by Dan Brown: Much with Fifty Shades, my problem is not primarily with the content. People have written less-than-flattering fiction about every affinity group in existence. People tell falsehoods about Catholicism all the time. It happens; I get it. My problem is that Dan Brown apparently (I’ve never even held a copy) claims in the book that the story is based on fact. It’s not! Those are weird legends at best. Don’t waste your time. If you want to know what real Catholics are like, read Brideshead Revisited.
  3. City of Bones or anything else by Cassandra Clare: I fell madly in love with Harry Potter fanfiction when I was in high school. The anniversary of the day I started reading Draco Dormiens was last week; it was Independence Day. Bored, I wandered through the Internet to the first of a novel-length trilogy by an author who went by Cassandra Claire. (Notice the spelling?) I devoured it that day and quickly moved on to the second and third “books.” Imagine my horror when, having received a real book contract, Cassie changed her pen name and yanked her previous (and mildly more plagiaristic than all fanfiction already is) works from the web. I eventually came across copies, but I felt betrayed. It’s one thing to disown your previous work; it’s another to deprive your fans of it entirely. I will never read any of her books. (I may finish the trilogy one of these days, though.)
  4. The His Dark Materials Trilogy: This is related to my distaste for Dan Brown books. His Dark Materials is basically The Chronicles of Narnia for little atheist kids. I’m not an atheist; I’m a quite happy Catholic. Why would I want to read an atheist allegory where the characters set out to kill God (who turns out not to be the God, but still)? I’ll stay away.
  5. The Twilight Saga: You knew it was coming. I have exactly two actual experiences with the actual text of Twilight. The first was when a roommate read a random sentence aloud from Eclipse (I think it was Eclipse). I almost fell out of my chair laughing because it was so cheesy. Later, I read a liveblogged review on a random LiveJournal. Each chapter had a snarky-sounding title. I thought they were all jokes. They were the actual chapter titles! When your book sounds like a joke on itself, that’s called satire. I won’t even get into the inappropriately intense romance or the weak and badly-paced movie version (which I admit to seeing—I tried!).
  6. Harlequin or similar romance novels: I try not to look down on people who read or write romance novels, but I look down on them for themselves. If your book is not literary enough to just be called “fiction,” I doubt it’s very good. I would rather read classic novels that have romance than read books that are trying to sell the romance (or just sex) without real plots. They’re like action movies: all explosion, no story. I need story.
  7. Any other erotica: Another sad aspect of the Fifty Shades phenomenon is that many of its readers are unaware of the history of similar books. I won’t name any for fear of accidentally recommending them, but these books have been around for decades. I won’t read any of them, because pornography is one of the few things in the world I genuinely hate. It’s pretty much that, sin, and spiders.

This is another short list with multiple books in each entry, but it will do for now. It covers the extent of my “Will Not Read” shelf on Goodreads. I am making a public declaration against these books. You are my witnesses.

Clothes On, Eyes Open (Review: “The Thrill of the Chaste”)

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of the theology of the body (TOB). It has changed the way I view past and future relationships and the way I relate to other people in my life, male and female. Most of what I’ve learned about TOB has been from Christopher West or from people who learned what they know from him. I am also a huge fan of Jason Evert, and although Monica Ashour has not published a book (yet!), I got to learn her perspective in person.

photo by Nick Losacco

One thing that many of these TOB speakers lack is a story of the transition. How does one go from buying into the world’s view of life, sex, and marriage to understanding the meaning of God as it is expressed in our bodies (which is TOB in a nutshell)? Crystalina Evert speaks frankly about her journey in the booklet Pure Womanhood, but she came back to Christ fairly early in life. For Dawn Eden, living Christ’s vision for human sexuality took a while. Although The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On was published back in 2006, its ideas remain fresh and a unique voice in the sea of TOB.

Read the rest at Austin Catholic New Media.

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