Tag Archives: videos

Get Through the Bible Today! (Video: John Bergsma, “Bible Basics for Catholics”)

Are you a member of the Perpetual Bible in a Year Club? I am. I know several people who have read through the entire Bible. Some have even managed it in a year. About ten years ago now, I set out to join them… and like many others, I fell behind. I promised I wouldn’t give up, though, and I didn’t restart, so I am technically still trying to read the Bible in a year.

Along the way to Revelation, however, I realized that I could learn about the whole Bible without necessarily reading cover-to-cover. Thanks to a variety of excellent Bible teachers and writers, I discovered that salvation history is laid out in the Bible quite nicely, and you can get through it much more quickly than you might think. If you’re ambitious, you can do it in an hour.

Thus, I present for your edification a recording of an Ave Maria Press webinar presented by Dr. John Bergsma, author of Bible Basics for Catholics. You can read my review of Bible Basics very quickly, or take some time to read the whole book, but if you’re aiming for the middle ground and short on time, give this video a try:

And if you don’t even have that much time, my highlights follow.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Catholics, Please Stop Saying “Capital-T Tradition”

I have a problem with what people insist on calling “capital-T Tradition versus lowercase-T tradition.” It’s not as extensive as my problem with calling single life a vocation, but it’s among my pet peeves.

First of all, no one talks like that! No one ever uses the phrase “capital-T Tradition” unless they are attempting to explain the difference between the kinds of tradition in the Catholic Church.

Second, it’s confusing when people say “capital-T Tradition” because we don’t usually specify capitalization when we speak. If we do attempt to specify that kind of non-spoken language, we sound like Victor Borge doing “Phonetic Punctuation.”

Third, there are two kinds of Catholic tradition, so we might as well give them different names.

Sacred Tradition

One kind of tradition means “teachings and practices of the Church that are not explicitly Scriptural but still mandatory to believe or do.” I call that kind “sacred tradition” to help clarify.

  • Sacred tradition in practice: Genuflect toward the Blessed Sacrament. We do this when entering a room where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved or exposed, when leaving such a room, or passing by the tabernacle. It’s a sign of our faith. Not doing it is a sign of ignorance (the kind where you didn’t know Jesus was home or didn’t know that you’re supposed to genuflect, not the “you’re stupid” kind) or of disbelief.
  • Sacred tradition in belief: Mary remained a virgin her entire life. The Bible doesn’t say “Mary had no other children after Jesus,” but everyone understood and believed that from the beginning of Christianity. The “brothers of Jesus” mentioned in Scripture are stepbrothers, cousins, or just buddies. (Notice that Jesus doesn’t confirm that the men mentioned are his brothers. In fact, he specifically says that everyone is his brother, sister, and mother. I don’t hear anyone saying Jesus had more than one mother.)
Eucharistic adoration. Just don't call it "capital-T tradition."

See this; genuflect. Easy peasy.
(photo CC BY-NC-SA by the Office of Youth Ministry in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis)

Pious Tradition

The other kind of tradition, in the sense of “teachings and practices of the Church that have been around a long time” is what I call “pious tradition.” That is much clearer than “lowercase-T tradition.” It’s the kind of tradition you keep because it enriches the faith and culture, not because it’s set in stone, mandatory, and immutable.

  • Pious tradition in practice: Roman Catholic priests are unmarried. There are married Roman Catholic priests; they’re just the exception and not the rule. The rule could change, although I don’t think it will.
  • Pious tradition in belief: St Joseph was an old man, widowed and maybe with older children, when Jesus was born. You can believe that if it helps you grow in holiness. You can also believe something else about St. Joseph’s age, marriage history, and parenthood. In The World’s First Love, Venerable Fulton Sheen makes a solid case for St. Joseph’s having been a young, never-married, childless man when Jesus was born.

So what?

Changing the requirement of celibacy for Roman Catholic priests or believing St. Joseph was a young man doesn’t make you a heretic. (For the record, I support priestly celibacy, and I’m ambivalent about St. Joseph’s age and all that.) They might not be popular opinions, but you shouldn’t be run out of the Church for having them.

Not believing that the Eucharist is the True Presence of Jesus Christ or not supporting Mary’s perpetual virginity? That’s a different story. Pious tradition is open to debate. Sacred tradition is not.

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.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 188

— 1 —

Well, it’s been a long time since I did one of these, but let’s not fail to start with a video. I’ve been watching super-recent reruns of How I Met Your Mother (and not even intentionally—that’s the beauty of reruns!), and I realized that I forgot to check the latest of HIMYM’s real fake websites: lilysinlabor.com.

[Note: Neither HIMYM nor some of its real fake sites nor parts of this video are super family-friendly, but they are all hilarious.]

— 2 —

As I type this, I just finished watching Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on BBC America. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before, but I enjoyed it. It seemed a lot grittier than other Robin Hood movies I’ve seen, and I was fed up with Kevin Costner’s haircut (seriously!), but it was cool to see Snape Alan Rickman fight. How exactly do you stay that awesome for so long?

— 3 —

I don’t work on Fridays, so I was nowhere near campus for the UT bomb threat this morning. I did get all the emergency alert text messages, though, so I knew what was happening. I watched the news coverage on TV once it finally started, but listening to their inaccuracies and lack of information made me so fed up that I just quit watching. I was reaffirmed in my decision to never watch TV news in general (except for press conferences, maybe), and I can confirm that the best information comes straight from the source.

The only valid point the news had was that some students didn’t receive the texts. First of all, that’s just a technical glitch, and second of all, not all students can be assumed to have phones. They’ll find out the old-fashioned way: their friends, classmates, strangers, and TV reporters on the street will tell them.

— 4 —

I will give the TV news one credit: they knew it was a bomb threat before the texts came right out and said it. I had a suspicion from the directions (move out of buildings and get far away from them), but it would have been nice to know from the beginning. There’s a fine line between inciting panic and giving information (see also Virginia Tech).

— 5 —

I knew it would be tricky to come up with all seven takes this week. And it is. I’ll try to be more interesting next week.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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!

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 183

— 1 —

I am so obsessed with the Target back-to-school commercials. School supplies and 80s music? An English teacher covering the Go-Gos? Yes, please!

— 2 —

Then comes the science teacher. Very apt choice of song to cover, by the way. (Edited to add: It’s “She Blinded Me with Science.”)

— 3 —

When the music teacher gets involved, things get pretty epic. It makes me want to buy denim and tell him what’s the word. Word up.

— 4 —

Then, ¡se tiene el mismo comerical en español!

He’s singing to “Blame It on the Boogie,” by the Jackson 5. Translated by me, he says “Hello, parents. I’m the music teacher, and with me, your children will get the best grades. [Lindsay’s note: Cute pun with “grades” in Spanish and “(musical) notes” in English.] For that, they will need: (enter music) They’ll need crayons! They’ll need scissors, snacks for lunch, and they’ll need some sweaters! T-shirts with designs, sneakers and socks, some pants, and the backpacks they like. (voiceover) School asks you for a lot. Target has it all.”

— 5 —

And, if that wasn’t enough, the Music Teacher gets to break it down a little more.

— 6 —

In non-Target commercial news, I had my first official FOCCUS facilitation session this week with the couple I’m preparing for marriage. It went very well. I asked what they thought of the (beginning of the) process after we finished our meeting, and they said it was more helpful than they’d expected. See? Not everything is just red tape; sometimes we’re just trying to help people make good decisions.

— 7 —

On Tuesday, my morality group had what I think was my favorite discussion so far. We discussed the situation with the Vatican investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious and its moral implications. I managed to keep my cool and be civil and clear (I think). We raised some great issues related to the situation. I’m very interested in the actual result after the LCWR gathering this weekend. Remember, charity in all things!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

My 5 Favorite Love Songs

I think I’ve mentioned here before how much I enjoy reading Betty Beguiles, a Catholic source for fashion and romance advice. Way to find a niche and fill it, Hallie! Occasionally, Hallie hosts themed link-ups. The past ones have been about how you met your husband or your favorite date night tips and so on. I’ve never been able to participate—until now!

My Favorite Love Songs, in No Particular Order

“Set Me As a Seal,” by Matt Maher: So beautiful, so biblical, and not hard to sing. It’s a duet, so the man and woman get to share this expression of their feelings. It contains actual Scripture quotations. This is love.

“God Gave Me You,” by Dave Barnes: He let Blake Shelton re-record it. I’m hoping this could be like “Your Grace Is Enough” and help get people to notice the original artist. (“Your Grace” is a Matt Maher song. Chris Tomlin is his friend.) My friend Jess actually used this as her first dance song (albeit sung by Blake Shelton). It is the perfect blend between a song that praises the beloved (like secular songs at least try to do) and a song that acknowledges the true Lover. (As a bonus, I also snagged this song free and legally online!) (Warning: You might need your tissues for this video.)

“Beloved,” by Tenth Avenue North: This is another song that makes a very clear statement about where love really comes from and what real love looks like. My favorite part is, “It’s a mystery” This is another good candidate for my wedding first dance song.

“At Last,” by Etta James: Just when you thought this whole list was going to be serious and intense. In the Harry Potter fandom, we sometimes discussed what song Ron and Hermione would use for their first dance. This was a good candidate because it’s about finally being with someone you’ve been waiting for as time passes by.

“Only Hope,” by Mandy Moore or Switchfoot: I love both versions, and I love how it was portrayed in A Walk to Remember. When I was a teacher, I used to show music videos to my students on Fridays in lieu of our standard prayer to start class. I called it Song Prayer Fridays. I fielded student suggestions, and one of my tenth-graders sent me a link to this video. I gladly played it, because if God is love, then every love song is a song about God.

I will also admit to a soft spot for the premise to “Love You Like a Love Song,” by Selena Gomez and the Scene. I like the concept that everything good about love has already been said. It’s like the idea that there are only something like seven stories in the world and every new story is just a retelling of those. Love has been around since the beginning of the world, and it will always remain.

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