"I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land." Ezekiel 22:30

Monday, September 30, 2013

Baby News... or lack thereof

So, the baby's due date was yesterday. But we still don't have a baby outside the womb.

For the time being, you might call it a blessing. At the same time though, now that we're in "overtime" that means any day could be the day; any hour could be the hour.

There are also increased risks when the pregnancy goes overtime. The baby and the wife are doing fine now, so don't worry. But prayers never hurt!

That being said, if you've got a second, say a prayer that everything continues to go smoothly.

Thanks!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The St. Louis Cardinals Make the Playoffs... Again.

Even though the St. Louis Cardinals lost on Sunday, they clinched a playoff spot because of a Washington Nationals loss. This marks the 10th time the Cardinals have made the playoffs since 2000. That is the most among NL teams, and second only to the Yankees in the MLB.

As of this morning they sit at 91-65, in first place in the National League's Central Division, 6-4 in their last 10 games (a disappointing 6-4, I might add), the third-best run differential in the Majors, two MVP candidates, a pitcher (Wainright) with an outside shot at the Cy Young, and yet I get the feeling that they haven't hit their stride this year.

All this bring up two questions:

1) Am I the only one with this feeling?

2) Can we call the Cardinals since 2000 a "dynasty"?

I encourage you to comment below.


**On a semi-related note, congrats to the Kansas City Royals who yesterday secured a winning season. While many fans wanted a playoff birth (which is still possible), an above .500 season is a big step in the right direction. I wish the Royals continued success.

Friday, September 20, 2013

We Live In a Brave New World

We live in a brave new world; one where facts, nuance, and truth never get in the way of secular, liberal agendas.

Unless you live in a cave on the Amazon River, you've probably heard about "the interview" of Pope Francis. Needless to say, the media took a couple of the Holy Father's comments and ran to the mountain tops, screaming in ecstasy that these comments finally vindicated their humanist positions.

Wrong.

Everyone who rushed to declare that Francis is going to change Church teaching needs to take a chill pill and get a dose of reality. Just this morning, there's this from the Vatican:
Friday, September 20, 2013
FRANCIS: NO HUMAN LIFE IS MORE VALUABLE THAN ANOTHER

Vatican City, 20 September 2013 (VIS) – Today the Pope met with members of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations and Catholic gynaecologists, and spoke of the current paradoxical situation of the medical profession. “On the one hand we see progress in the field of medicine, thanks to the work of scientists who passionately and unreservedly dedicate themselves to the search for new cures. On the other hand, however, we also encounter the risk that doctors lose sight of their identity in the service of life”. He referred to the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate to explain that this paradoxical situation is seen also in the fact that, “while new rights are attributed to or indeed almost presumed by the individual, life is not always protected as the primary value and the primordial right of every human being. The ultimate aim of medicine remains the defence (sic) and promotion of life”.
And boom goes the Catholic dynamite.

Go read the rest of that article. Clearly, this pope and Catholic doctrine are too nuanced, too truth-filled, too centered on Our Lord Jesus Christ for the secular press, and many Catholics, to understand.

We all have a lot to learn.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Go home main stream media, you're drunk

THIS JUST IN:

You can't trust the media when they try to report on religion.

For a perfect example, check out this story from ABC News:
"Holy Water May be Harmful to Your Health, Study Finds."
Despite its purported cleansing properties, holy water could actually be more harmful than healing, according to a new Austrian study on "holy" springs.

Researchers at the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna tested water from 21 springs in Austria and 18 fonts in Vienna and found samples contained up to 62 million bacteria per milliliter of water, none of it safe to drink. [my emphasis added]

Tests indicated 86 percent of the holy water, commonly used in baptism ceremonies and to wet congregants' lips, was infected with common bacteria found in fecal matter such as E. coli, enterococci and Campylobacter, which can lead to diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever.


Who in their right mind is drinking holy water from a font where hundreds of people are sticking their fingers?!

I thought about commenting on the media hubbub surrounding Pope Francis' recent remarks about atheists, but refrained because I'd rather shake my head and walk away (So much for standing in the gap on that one...). But this story about the harmful effects of holy water is just too much.

Okay, I get it. They may not be referencing the Catholic faith alone here because they never name any particular religion. But holy water is a big part of Catholic tradition, plus the picture they use makes it pretty evident who they're talking about.

Also, I understand how in certain areas, or in some religions it may be customary to drink holy (or "holy") water, but that is definitely not the intent or purpose of it by-and-large in the Catholic Church. And dabbing it on congregants lips? I've never, ever seen anyone do that in church, nor heard of that custom. Even if it is done, I'm fairly certain that's not the intent of holy water. Furthermore, the Catholic Encylopedia entry on holy water makes no mention of drinking holy water straight from the font.

So what's next? Government mandated signs next to the holy water font? Warning labels in the baptismal area?

"WARNING: While holy water may or may not increase your spiritual health, studies have shown that it definitely is harmful to your physical well-being."

Now that's what I call separation of church and state.

-----

As an aside, for anyone wondering about the title of this post, here's some context from Catholic Memes.

"Your boat sinking a little more slowly is not much to celebrate."

Those of us who fall on the more conservative side of the Catholic ledger know what it's like to face criticism for our (gasp!) traditional beliefs, or even downright disdain and oppression from the active, liberal majority.

However, the tide is slowly turning as the hippie generations are dying off, or abandoning the faith altogether. A younger, more vibrant, active faith-filled population is starting to take root. But we're a long way from where we'd like to be. Which is why I wanted to share this article today.

Pat Archbold, co-founder of Creative Minority Report, and contributor to the National Catholic Register had a piece published on Monday entitled "A Long Way To Go."

You'll have to go read it yourself, because I don't think I can summarize it adequately. Once you read it, you'll see it's very indicative of the uphill battle us traditionally-minded Catholics face.

Keep the faith! Truth must win in end!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Another Historic Day

Today was another historic day for this blog.

The same day you helped me reach 3,000 all-time page views we had a record number of single-day page views. Now, today, just a day after these milestones, we had another record-setting day for  single-day page views.

Thank you for reading my blog, and for sharing it with your friends.

Heads Up...

This little guy is about ready to enter the world. (Don't worry, that's an old pic. She's waaay more pregnant now.)
I was pretty busy on the blog over the weekend. One of my more productive periods ever.

But, I must warn you!

There is a baby on the way any day now, so you may see fewer posts in the next few days & weeks.

You've been forewarned!

Oh, and before you ask, yes, I will post pictures of Baby Jones.

Dead Language?

Saw this story on Fr. Z's blog a couple weeks ago and thought it was too cool not to share.

Mars images to go on social media feeds in Latin
Pictures of the surface of Mars, taken from Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), are to be captioned in Latin on social media outlets as part of an outreach project.
The Latin captions will be published from 28 August on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.
The photography project is known as HiRise (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) and has run since 2006.

The Latin translations are being done by 18 volunteers coordinated in the UK.

"We were inspired by the Pope's Latin feed," HiRise spokesman Ari Espinoza from the University of Arizona told the BBC.

The then Pope Benedict XVI sent his first tweet in the ancient language at the beginning of the year and also used Latin in his resignation speech.

"Some of the science greats - [Johannes] Kepler, [Isaac] Newton wrote in Latin - this is a tie to the past but we're looking at the future," Mr Espinoza added. [my emphasis added]

Read more here.

I'm not a scientifically-minded person, so I'm not too excited about that part of it. Nor am I a Latin scholar. But the line I emphasized above sums up what I believe about the importance of Latin in the Catholic Church, and especially the liturgy. No surprise that it applies to science as well.

Why do many young people desire the Tridentine Mass? Not because it's "old." Quite the opposite. It is because in the Tridentine rite there is a tie to the past. It is the same Mass attended by centuries of saints past, and will be attended by saints now and in the future. In many ways, it truly is timeless.

Scientists get it. Why don't so many Catholics?

And finally, I have to share this...




Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mass at the Shrine of St. Joseph

Yesterday, Canon Raphael Ueda, ICKSP, Vicar of the St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, offered a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the beautiful Shrine of St. Joseph in north St. Louis City.

Not being from St. Louis, I had never been to the Shrine, although I had heard of it, and the stunning restoration that has been undertaken and is on-going. Needless to say, it is a gorgeous church, as you can probably tell from the picture I quickly snapped on my phone during Mass. Sorry, my smartphone doesn't quite do it justice.

It is no doubt a beautiful location for any Mass, but I found it an especially beautiful setting for the tridentine rite. And apparently, the Canons of the Institute may offer it there more often. Stay tuned!

If you live in St. Louis and have never been to the Shrine, or if you're making a visit to St. Louis and want a location to visit, I highly recommend going to see it. Visit the website here.

Shots Fired! The 2016 Election Heats Up

Get ready! The 2012 election cycle is not even a year old, the off-year 2014 election is gearing up, and we already have shots fired in advance of 2016.

On Friday, days after an historic veto session and in the midst of the Midwest Republican Leadership Conference in Kansas City, the the KC Star's Steve Kraske published an article with the headline "Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones is campaigning more than leading."

That's what I would call a "shot across the bow."

Kraske's assertion rests on the fact that on Thursday Speaker Jones went on KMOX and confirmed the worst kept secrets of the past 10 months: his intention to run for Attorney General.

In the midst of criticizing Jones for being a "rock-ribbed conservative" and for threatening fellow GOP house members with demotions - two very mild criticisms in the grand scheme of things if you ask me - Kraske somehow finds a way to blast Jones for sticking to his guns (i.e. standing up for fiscal conservatism), confirming a non-secret, and for being a "sellout" by keeping "the rich guy (Rex Sinquefield) happy more than he did his own colleagues."

Aside from the fact that the article lacks much of a point, other than Kraske venting his frustration with Jones for being a Republican, Kraske's attempt to criticize Jones for trying to "tack as far to the right as you can" doesn't sound all that much like criticism. Seriously, if that's the worst thing you can come up with to criticize a politician on, you're either missing something or not criticizing the right person.

The article closes by severely downplaying the failures of Nixon's administration, and overplaying Jones' person ambition:
Yes, the speaker managed 10 overrides of Nixon bills, making the governor the most overridden chief executive in state history. But that was really about countering the loss of the tax bill with an alternative storyline.

Here’s another storyline for you: Jones bails on his own caucus.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/13/4479447/house-speaker-tim-jones-is-campaigning.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/13/4479447/house-speaker-tim-jones-is-campaigning.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/13/4479447/house-speaker-tim-jones-is-campaigning.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/13/4479447/house-speaker-tim-jones-is-campaigning.html#storylink=cpy
Just another frustrated journalist taking it out on a high-profile Republican. Kudos to Speaker Tim Jones for sticking to his principles.

Of course, Jones will have a tough time in a crowded field of candidates for the 2016 Attorney General nomination, which looks like it will include State Senator Kurt Schaefer, and Missouri's first female Speaker of the House, Catherine Hanaway. But campaigning for another position while in office is nothing new, and definitely not a crime.

Take cover. 2016 is going to be fun.

Joe Biden Is Just Plain Weird. Literally.

I'm going to break a promise.

Most of the time I am a man of my word; however, today I have to break one rule I try to abide by on this blog.

I'm going to resort to name calling.

Here goes:

Joe Biden is weird. And maybe a little crazy. I take that back; he's a lot of crazy. Crazier than your craziest, weird, awkward uncle that you purposely avoid, except during the holidays, at weddings, and funerals - and even in those instances, you do your best to stay away.

Yeah, he's that crazy-weird. I think he's literally the weirdest vice-president. Ever. Literally.

It might be tough to believe, but I'm not just saying this because he's a Democrat and I don't agree with him on, well, literally anything. The guy is just weird.

To see what I mean, check out this article from The Weekly Standard. Interspersed are my comments.
Biden Calls Republicans 'Neanderthals'
Says he understands 'the Senate better than any man or women who's ever served in there.'

Vice President Joe Biden said Repulican (sic) opposition to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the House of Representatives came from the "Neanderthal crowd." [He called names first! But seriously, really? Neanderthals? Stay classy, Joe.] And he gave himself credit for coming up with the law almost 20 years ago. [I'm not sure if this is true or not, and I don't care to look. Either way, rather braggadocios don't you think?]

"Packed into the front room of the Vice President's residence just before 7pm, Biden spoke for about half an hour to the crowd of several dozen people, most of whom played a role in making VAWA a reality. The room was full of chatter as Biden was standing at the mic waiting to talk, so he turned around and let out a piercingly loud whistle, [Maybe a little unprofessional, coming from the vice president himself.] and the room went quiet. He talked about when he first came up with the idea for VAWA legislation in the early 1990s," according to the pool report from an event last night.
"I caused a lot of trouble because I just started writing," Biden said to laughs. "I'm serious. This isn't one of these cases, I didn't ask for staff help, I didn't ask for any help, I was so God darn-- gosh darn mad."
Biden said everyone in the room has helped to save other people's lives through VAWA -- "that's not hyperbole, that's a fact" -- and that they should look back on that reality with pride. He said he's traveled 800,000 miles as vice president (!), and that he's seen how VAWA has had an impact on other nations too.
"It's been "absolutely fascinating to see the ripple effect of this little old Act we passed 19 years ago," he said.
Biden talked about his days as a Delaware senator, working with police, prosecutors and corporations in his home state to try to change the culture of silence around domestic violence. Literally.
"I literally asked for a summit of all the judges in the state. And because I chaired the Judiciary Committee, they were worried they'd never be elevated," he said to laughs. "All kidding aside ... literally every judge in the state but one or two showed up. We laid out ... literally what we expected of them. And things began to change." [What professional over the age of 25 talks like that, let alone the vice president? For pete's sake, what self-respecting person over the age of 13 talks like that? There's more that could be said, but I couldn't put it into print. Biden is just plain weird.]
You can read the rest of the story here.

But be careful! You might want to literally pull your hair out. Literally.

Let's hope this guy doesn't run in 2016. Or, on the other hand, that would be really, really entertaining, so maybe we should hope he runs.

3,000 Views Deserves a Thank You!

I owe all of you a huge "Thank You."

Within the past 24 hours, I surpassed 3,000 blog views!

Thank you for reading what I have to write.

I know this isn't a huge accomplishment, because 3,000 isn't that big of a number, but it's one I feel is worth noting, because even though I started this blog in 2009, I didn't gain much traction with it until this past summer. In fact, between first publishing and this past summer, I accumulated less than 800 views.

However, things have changed drastically since then. Remarkably, the bulk of those 3,000 views have come since July.

So, Thank You!

And, if you haven't already, please pass my blog along to your friends. I don't want to be alone in standing in the gap.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

This Is What A President Sounds Like

Twelve years ago today we heard these words from President George "dubya" Bush on his visit to Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.

Every time I hear this short impromptu speech, I'm nearly brought to tears. Say what you will about his administration, his presidency, his legacy, or this visit to Ground Zero itself, this is what a president should sound like - telling it like it is, straight from the heart, not from a teleprompter.


He wasn't the best president we've had, but on that day, he truly rose to the occasion.

Friday, September 13, 2013

10 Potential Names for Washington's NFL Franchise

In a follow-up to my post yesterday about the re-energized controversy over the Washington Redskins mascot, I have compiled my own list of potential names for a D.C. football franchise.


10. Senators

An oldie, but a classic nonetheless.










9. Heroes

The potential mascot. Enough said.

 








8. Americans 

The potential mascot. Again, enough said. (Please, no!)















7. Statesmen

A little scary, but could work.













6. Generals

 Okay, so it's been done before...












5. Bureaucrats

This one might be the most appropriate representation of the residents in the region, if that's what we're going for.









4. Politicians

I know, it's cliche, but it should at least be on the list.












3. Governors

Or the Governators...












2. Drones

The Washington Drones just has a nice ring to it.












And my number one name suggestion for the NFL's Washington team:


1. Spies









 My personal favorite.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The NFL Has Gone Soft

If you're a sports fan, no doubt you've heard about the recent ruckus in regards to the NFL's Washington Redskins.

The story, as I've heard it, is basically as follows:

A few detractors - such as the Oneida Indian Nation - have been, as of late, a little more vocal than usual in calling for the Washington franchise to drop the divisive, hateful, racist, downright offensive mascot of "Redskins," and replace it with something politically correct.

As it so happens, Dan Snyder is the owner of the Redskins, and has said publicly that he has no plans to sell or step down. So, it seems for the time being that the Redskins name is here to stay.

But on Wednesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said this on a D.C. radio show:

"If one person is offended, we have to listen."


Read the whole story on Brietbart



Bottom line: I think the NFL has gone soft.

Before I go on, a brief disclaimer: I don't believe the game on the field is necessarily softer. As someone who never played organized football, but did play college basketball, I take nothing away from the grueling, taxing, athletic nature of football itself - although some recent rule changes have given many observers reason to wonder if the game is in fact getting softer.

I say the NFL is soft because of the front office. Not that the desire to listen to people who are offended isn't an honorable thing. I don't deny that the term "redskins" is a sensitive term, hearkening back to the bloody, usually racism-fueled confrontations between "white man" and the "inferior" "injuns" or "redskins." However, the term can also be a badge of honor, and is in fact thought of as such by some Native Americans.

Clearly, Goodell hasn't said they will change the name, or that it's even on the table. In fact, from what I know, it would be up to the franchise itself to change the mascot, and the NFL itself couldn't step in and change the name on its own. But, the phrasing of the quote above does suggest a politically-correct softness that is, in many ways, anathema to the brutal nature of football itself. Offending people is part of the sport. But we don't have a right to not be offended.

If this event were simply an isolated incident, then it may not be such a big deal. But coupled with the recent concussion settlement (needed or not needed, it did come across as much more conciliatory than the NFL has ever been), and the rule changes of recent memory which have cut down on the number and severity of hits and tackles (to the detriment of defenses around the league), the NFL appears to be softer than ever before. Good or bad, that's the topic of another discussion. And relatively speaking, the NFL is a long way from high school powderpuff football. Has the new "softness" lessened the game's appeal? Doesn't seem like it. Has it decreased the number of severe injuries? Maybe. Good chance severe injuries will go down, if they haven't already.

Ultimately, my concern is not with the NFL's policies or business model. I like the NFL. I like the entertainment and intrigue of athletics at the highest level. Whether it succeeds or fails won't affect my day-to-day life all that much. But I'm afraid this is a harbinger of society itself - of a society where we have a right to not be offended, and where we rely on someone else - "big brother", or mommy and daddy - to solve our problems. My generation is a coddled generation unlike ever before, so I don't think this vision is too far from the realm of possibility.

Do I sound pessimistic? A little. Is this another "slippery slope" argument? It's sliding that direction. (see what I did there?) Am I over-thinking this? Probably. But I am relying on an observation of the data? I think so. And the data isn't very reassuring.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hypocrisy From Our President

I just wanted to point out some blatant hypocrisy and misleading "moral superiority" from our commander-in-chief last night during his speech on the situation in Syria.

Take this quote:
The situation profoundly changed, though, on Aug. 21st, when Assad's government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The images from this massacre are sickening, men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk. On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off limits, a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws of war.
Now, imagine similar details in the context of abortion and the 55 million children killed since Roe v. Wade in 1973, many killed through the use of chemicals.

And our President is the one who asked whatever god he worships to "bless" Planned Parenthood. This is the same man who voted multiple times against the "born alive" act, whereby babies who survive abortions and end up born alive would be granted medical care.

The hypocrisy is rampant. And repugnant.

9/11 - We Will Never Forget

Today is a day I will never forget. As a thirteen-year-old on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was just old enough to grasp the magnitude of the situation. Now, twelve years later, we have a younger generation who has no sense of what that day means. It's just a fact of life that this will happen.

But for those of us who do remember, we need to keep that day in our collective consciousness. That is why I keep this image on my blog year-round.


To those of use who lived through that day: Let Us NEVER Forget.

To those of you who don't remember that day: Listen to the stories. Look at the pictures. It is a sad chapter of our history, but one we must not let fade into the annals of history.

Obama's Intentional "Mistake"

Sadly, I watched President Obama's speech lecture to the nation last night and I came away with a couple reactions I would like to share.

Mixed in with all the talk of going to war vs. not going to war, "pinprick" attacks, nauseating diplomatic details, and lecturing on morality, I was struck with a important flaw in our Apologizer-in-Chief's word choice.

About a third of the way into the speech, he began to explain why he believes we must act, and why it is incumbent upon him and the United States especially to take direct action. Here's what he said:

The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime's ability to use them and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. That's my judgment as commander in chief.

But I'm also the president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy. So even though I possessed the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress.

Click to read the entire transcript.
 Did you notice the serious flaw?

Anyone with a basic understanding of American government could tell you that we are not a democracy, but a republic - specifically a constitutional republic - and a republic is very different than a democracy.

How could a former alleged constitutional law professor and president of the United States, with teams of speechwriters and advisers, make such a serious error? Call me crazy, but I don't think it was simply an oversight. I think it was a calculated statement, designed to further instil in the minds of naive Americans that we are a democracy, and in a democracy, the majority rules - no if's, and's, or but's.

But in a republic, the majority rules only when selecting representatives to represent the interests of segments of the population in regards to the whole. To be clear, a republic form of government rests upon democratic principles; however, democracies can easily break down into "mob rule", whereas republics are founded upon the firm ground of the rule of law. I doubt that Obama and his liberal-progressive cohorts don't understand the difference. In fact, I think they understand it far too well.

In closing, I know most everyone else will focus on the subject of the speech: Syria, chemical weapons, and our response. But American's already knew the gist of the situation. Obama's speech lacked vision, purpose, direction, passion, and most importantly moral clarity. Without a doubt, chemical weapons are horrific tools of death and their use should rightly be condemned. However, I would not be surprised to see inaction and disinterest if the same number of people killed in the chemical attacks had died instead from gunfire.

So, Obama's argument for a response does not rest so much on the fact that killing occurred, but how it occurred. If that is the basis of our nation's moral argument for going to war, then our nation's time of collective moral superiority has long passed.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

TIME Magazine on "Aid-in-Dying" a.k.a. Euthanasia

TIME Magazine recently published this doozy of an article:

A Good Death: How Baby Boomers Will Change the World A Final Time

I'd like to know what reactions others have had to it. It's a little shocking to my sensibilities at first, but considering what I know about modern culture, nothing espoused in the article is surprising.

Here's a little snippet:

Boomers don’t see it that way. To them, a good death is more about a good life. When they can’t have that any longer, it’s time to pull the plug. This will be the first generation to broadly eschew painful life-extending procedures and make the most of palliative care to live better in fewer days, and then die with dignity.
The third sentence stood out to me. "When they can't have that any longer, it's time to pull the plug."

If a more selfish sentence was ever written, I would be surprised.

I just attended the funeral of an uncle yesterday. Funerals really put life into perspective. They are a reminder that we are mortal, and only God knows how much longer we have. Death really is the ultimate submission: submission to our own mortality, to the natural order, and ultimately, submission to God. That is why any deliberate action to bring about death (murder, suicide, etc) is so contrary to the law and the will of God.

But this baby boomer generation just can't seem to grasp that.

If you have thoughts, please leave a comment. I'm curious to know what you think.

My Labor Day Project

Yes, I know Labor Day was over a week ago, but I'm finally just getting around to sharing my outdoor project from the Labor Day weekend.

Take a look. Looks pretty cool huh?

To build it, I purchased about 10 full-size cinder blocks from Home Depot. I also included a couple half-size cinder blocks to make it the size I wanted, without having to break a full cinder block.

The front portion is made up of three, full-length, narrow cinder blocks. I partially buried the three front bricks, and also added some regular bricks behind them for added stability. To top it off we went fancy and bought some of the most expensive retaining wall capstone at Home Depot. The top portion itself cost about as much as the rest of the pit.

The best part is that the whole thing cost less than $50. The cheapest fire "pit" you can buy at Home Depot is $59.99.

So, if the weather ever starts to cool down, who wants to join me for some roasted marshmallows?
 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Requiescat in Pace

Please pray for the repose of the soul of my uncle, Herman Hummel. He passed away yesterday afternoon after a nearly two-year fight with esophageal cancer.

From my Aunt Joyce:

Herman Francis Hummel, born June 4, 1946 has completed his journey on this earth today, September 4, 2013 @ around 2PM. He has fought the 'good fight' battling esophageal cancer for 21 months. I'm very proud to be the wife of this valiant soldier ~ He has been an example of strength, perseverance and determination as he continued his best to live as normal as he could with such a debilitating disease.
Also, please keep in your prayers his immediate family. They have been through a lot.

Requiescat in Pace, Uncle Herm.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Masculinity and the Liturgy - "He stands in the gap..."

I was about to go to bed last night, but a quick check of facebook led me to see a post by a friend of mine. She had shared a link to a blog post at The Catholic Gentleman entitled "Masculinity and the Liturgy."

This title of course piqued my interest. So, naturally I started reading the rather lengthy post. The author makes seven points as to why he believes men generally do not love mass anymore.

I got really excited when I got to #4...

4. The priest faces the people - Frankly, most people don’t think the priest facing the people is a big deal. Even if it is, it doesn’t have much to do with masculinity, right? Wrong. It has a lot to do with it.

When the priest faces the same direction as the people (ad orientem), he is very clearly leading them before the throne of God. He is the representative of the people of God before an awesome and objective reality. He stands in the gap, [my emphasis added] offering sacrifices for us and for our sins—something we cannot do on our own. He is the captain, leading us toward heaven.
YES!!!

Another metaphor for the name of my blog. The meaning is so deep isn't it?

Naturally, being a bit groggy and lacking the ability to focus, I stopped reading the post at #4. I'll finish it sometime.

If you so desire, you can read the whole post here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Poll Question

If you haven't noticed, the St. Louis Cardinals have been, shall we say, inconsistent over the past month or more. Which begs the question:

What do you think the outcome of this Cardinals season will be?

Take the poll on the side bar.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Roughin' It"

Before I go any further, I must apologize. Due to some technical glitch, the content of this post did not actually go "live" the other day when I wrote it and intended it to. That's what happens when one tries to post from a "smart" phone I guess.

Which is all sort of the reason I tried to write this post in the first place.

So, here's another version of what I mean to post, albeit now in the past tense, and with much more content than the original.

***

I went "off the grid" this past weekend. Completely. I didn't just turn my phone off; I left it 75-90 miles away from the woods where I retreated. And I did it on purpose.

It was awesome.

For about 30 hours I never looked at my phone. I didn't receive a phone call. I didn't send a text, post to facebook, snap an instagram picture, or tweet a hashtag. I spent 30 hours without computer generated worry, without an awkward "I don't know what else to do so I'm going to check facebook" moment, without my hand in my pocket, fiddling with my electronic "precious."

That's what I call "roughin' it."

Thirty years ago it wouldn't have been so. Even 10 years ago such a feat wouldn't have been so dramatic. But now in 2013, with smart phones more prevalent than smart people, and more interaction done via radio waves than sound waves, leaving behind those alkaline-powered ball-and-chains is quite the feat.

Personally, I enjoyed it. I'd like to think that I could permanently disconnect and be far better for it. But alas, I fear it is not possible. I have too many goals; too many things I would like to accomplish. And technology is for me but a means to an end. For too many people however, technology seems to be not just an end, but the end.

You might ask, "What on earth did I do during that time, completely cut off from the rest of the world?"

And what an interesting question that would be.

Because for those 30 hours, I felt more "on earth" than I usually would. My life wasn't ruled by pixel - it was determined by people. I felt rock and grass under my feet, sand between my toes, and a river over my body. I got dirt beneath my fingernails and sun on my back. The loudest sound I heard for those 30 hours was the water rushing over a rocky riverbed. And oh, what a sound it was. Louder than any ringtone, yet as peaceful as silence.

I'm anything but a nature lover. Too much of a good thing can be, well, just too much. But I am a conservationist. As I considered what those thirty hours meant to me, I realized that perhaps our world is as it is because we've separated ourselves from nature. We've cut ourselves off from the great world in which we live. The very earth from which we draw our sustenance is to many sheltered masses a gross and revolting thing.

So, the next time you can, turn off your phone. Unplug the computer. Leave them at home and find a river. Get lost in the woods. Go away from highways and bright lights. Just enjoy God's creation for what it is: a wonderfully imperfect gift that will quickly remind us just how small we are, yet so fearfully and wonderfully made.

*Stepping down from his soapbox*