"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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Keep Calm and...

My blogging buddy, Marc, posted a link to a fun website today. I couldn't help myself. Here's what I made:

 

Check it out yourself. Have some fun.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Am I Being Indecisive?

What do you write when you have nothing to write about?

Do you write about nothing? Is nothing something you can actually write about? Is nothing actually something? What is nothing? Can I actually be as un-creative as I think I could be by not having something to write? Is this normal? Is there someone who could help me?

It can't be as bad as it seems, can it? Could I write about not having anything to write about? Would that be a very interesting topic to write about? Would that be possible to do?

Doesn't anyone have an idea for me? Why can't I find inspiration? Am I a failure? Will my brain turn to mush? Will it run out of my nose? If I do find a topic, how do I know I can write a sufficient amount about it? Do I really have to write 500 words? Does anyone else think that's a lot of words?

But is it really?

How would I know? Why do I have to do this? What am I learning from this? Could I find a topic I need to learn about and write about that? How long would that take me? How will I find time to write? Will I have time to write? Will people leave me alone? Will I have to go somewhere dark, and warm, and quiet so I can concentrate? Will I be able to stay awake? Will I be able to eat while I write?

What if my right arm gets broken? (got milk?) Will I still be able to write? Who will I get to help me?

Do I sound paranoid? Will I always be this way? What can I do for my condition? Why? Why me?

Oh!

I might have thought of something to write about...

...now what what it?

Monday, October 28, 2013

I Find This Funny


I don't always agree with the Chamber of Commerce (they tend to focus on the moolah, often at the expense of other values I hold dear). Even so, I find this article from last Monday quite funny, for so many reasons:
On Monday, the chamber sent out its ratings of all the legislators, based on their votes this session on bills important to the state’s largest business group.

...

In the ratings, 73 legislators – all Republicans – received a score of 90 percent or above. Nine received a perfect score of 100 percent; none were from the St. Louis area.

Failing grades of below 70 percent were awarded to 77 legislators. That group included all the Democrats in the state House and Senate.

Read the Beacon story here
.
Why do you think I find this funny?

Let me know.

In the meantime, I'll be laying on the couch, eating a sandwich, and chuckling to myself.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Can You Help a Friend?

My buddy Marc, over at Marc's View on Stuff is asking for some help.

Think you can pitch in? Here's what he's asking:
Once again, our family doctor is taking his medical practice on the road to El Salvador for his annual medical mission. As in years past, he has sought anyone’s extra rosaries. This year is no different. There are baskets at the entrances to the [St. Francis de Sales] Oratory for you to bring in your extra rosaries so we may box them up and send them on his medical mission. He leaves in early November, so the latest day we can take the rosaries will be on Sunday October 27th.
If you'd like to help out, visit his blog and he'll figure out a way to get the rosaries from you. Or you can contact me I guess, and I'll help you get in touch with Marc.

Unlike Obamacare, I actually help people.

[raucous laughter]

*takes bow* "Thank you. I'll be here all week."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Chesterton's "Othodoxy"

I recently finished "Orthodoxy" by G.K. Chesterton, and part of me really wants to read it again. If you haven't read it, I would highly suggest it, even if you're not Catholic or Christian.

The reason is simply because the brilliance of Chesterton's prose is not often equaled in literature. His mastery of the English language is something the rest of us mere mortals only dream of. Line after line I was taken aback by the constant stream of uninterrupted thought, which seems to be have been written barely as quickly as Chesterton could think it. It gives the reader the feeling of being perpetually doused with an onrush of brilliance by a narrator of unparalleled imagination and intellect, just as one would be nearly overwhelmed by the beauty in a beautiful piece of art.

In the midst of this cascading rhetorical waterfall, Chesterton presents his views on various abstract concepts which often plague modern thinkers. He doesn't get into the "nitty gritty" of the subjects themselves; instead he explains enough of the issues to make his arguments make sense. He treats each subject delicately and forcefully; he does not mince words. What struck me is the way Chesterton writes so that one begins to wonder how anyone could think anything different.

The book itself is not a treatise in support of the specific doctrines of Catholicism/Christianity in-and-of itself. Rather, it is an explanation of how Chesterton came to believe how he believed. Thus, in some ways it is autobiographical, while it maintains some of the features of a philosophical essay.

So, don't pick this book up if you want a catechism, for it is not. However, if you want to know how one of the most brilliant and respected writers of the 20th century came to abandon his old beliefs - or absence thereof - in deference to Catholicism, then read this book. If you want to read some of the most flowery and remarkably eloquent writing of the past 100+ years, read Orthodoxy. Many times during the course of reading I had to remind myself that it is a work of non-fiction, for Chesterton writes in such a way that even making a sandwich would seem dramatic. Trust me: you won't be disappointed with this semi-autobiographical treatise.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halfway

Today is an interesting day.

My dad was born March 27th, 1963. I was born July 7th, 1988.

I did the math (yes, call me a nerd), and today, Thursday, October 17th, 2013, I am exactly half as old as my Dad.

Yeah, it's not a birthday or anniversary, but it represents a big moment: from now on, I will have been around for the majority of Dad's life.

That's weird to think about.

So, happy Half-As-Old-You Day, Dad. I can't wait for Two-Thirds-As-Old-As-You Day. By that time, my son will be about half as old as me. And no, I haven't quite figured out when that will be.



God Doesn't Hate Anyone



There are so many things I could say about this picture.

Where do I start?


It's ironic, because I would say the bottom sticker applies to the top sticker. Clearly, if Joe Biden is the Vice President of the United States, it should be obvious God doesn't hate anyone. It should also be obvious that God has a sense of humor.

Additionally, it's sad to think that there may be people who think God does hate some people. Or, there are people like this poor person who think there are people who think God hates some people.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Republicans Should Listen to Pope Francis

Most people don't like talking about religion or politics, much less thinking about the two. For me, I can't help but combining the two. In my mind both are fundamentally about principles.

So, it should be no surprise that as I was contemplating "The Interview" of Pope Francis, I came up with what I think is an interesting perspective.

The Republican Party should listen to Pope Francis.

That's right. If you didn't think the GOP could be any more attached to the "religious right" here I am advocating that they take marching orders from the Pope himself.

Take this quote from "The Interview", which has gotten so much attention:
"The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."
Replace "church" with "Republican Party", "pastoral ministry" with "grassroots mission" or "messaging", and "doctrines" with "policies" and you'll get where I'm going.

Here's how it would read:
The Republican Party's messaging cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of policies to be imposed insistently.
Hmmm...

The Holy Father went on to say:
"Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow."
 As far as I see it, this is the same when it comes to politics. Think about it.

Replace any biblical or religious references in the quote above with fitting political terms and it applies just as readily. The basic point remains the same: to be effective, focus less on the specific issues and explain the fundamental basis of your principles first, and the rest will follow.

In blunt terms, this means the GOP should focus less on abortion, marriage, and other divisive moral issues. Instead, conservatives and Republicans need to constantly preach about the totality of their belief system, because unlike liberal progressive Democrats, the totality of our belief system is consistent and makes total sense.

Honestly, I'm a little surprised to be writing that conservatives should focus less on abortion. I mean, I do pro-life work for a living. But winning elections is not a single-issue endeavor. Politicians deal with an enormous range of problems in government, just like pastors, missionaries, and ministers of the Gospel do on a daily basis. To extrapolate what the Holy Father said, people will slam the door on you immediately if the first thing you say is "abortion is bad." And it doesn't matter if you're talking politics or religion.

Now, I'm not the first person to say these issues should be less prominent. A report that came out after the November 2012 elections said similar things. But while I'm not convinced the authors of the report were 100% pro-life, I do support their conclusion that in order to bring people to "our side" we need to be less divisive in our initial outreach.

I also take issue with the terminology commonly used to differentiate between some of the important issues of our time. Whereas most people who would agree with me up to this point would say "Yes, we should focus more on economic issues and less on social issues", I would have to disagree vehemently.

See, if you really understand what it means to be a conservative, there are no "social" or "economic" issues. We have a unified vision of the world, and that means economics, society, religion, pop culture, etc., etc. are all interconnected. "Economic issues" do not exist in a vacuum. I need only remind you that 55 million American children have been murdered by abortion since Roe v. Wade. What if those millions were now paying taxes, creating jobs, and contributing to the solvency of Social Security?

Say what you will, the truth is that most people who aren't pro-life already will not listen to whatever else you have to say if the first words out of your mouth offend them or frustrate them. Instead, start with mercy, preach the truth, and the rest will follow.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Community or Christ?

I was recently  searching online for some religious images for an upcoming presentation, and saw this picture from the website of a Catholic Church :


Before I add my commentary, I want to make sure to say that I am in no way opposed to parish community. Community is very important to a parish. My wife and I have recently been trying to get more connected with the community in our own parish where we have been going since I moved to St. Louis. We've gone from knowing basically no one in the parish, to feeling much more comfortable on Sunday morning knowing more and more people at coffee hour. I've joined the Knights of Columbus, and we're starting to get to know some of the younger families. The sense of community we feel is growing, but still in its early phases.

However, that is not the thing that keeps us coming back. Community is a part of why we like the parish now, but has very little to do with why we go to church in the first place. It made no difference to me when we first started going and didn't know a single person. Nor would it make a difference to me if I went to church on Sunday and knew every single person the the pews. I'm not there for community; I'm there for Christ.

The thing that brings me back to church week after week, day after day is beautiful liturgy, reverence for Our Lord, and above all, knowing that Christ is there.

Sadly, I don't think that's why everyone goes to church on Sunday. Many people don't go there to spend some quality time with Our Lord and Savior. They go to spend time with their friends, or the pastor, or to hear some "cool" music. No, Christ isn't quite as important as he should be.

I heard an experience pastor once admonish a group:
"Don't waste time developing a parish mission statement. You already have one. It is to 'go and make disciples of all nations.'"
There is the crux of the matter. We must do everything for Christ Jesus, the Son of God. Making friends is one thing; making disciples is another. That's not to say they can't work together; the two are similar, and sometimes mutually beneficial. However, if we do anything without Christ as the ultimate goal, aim, and purpose, then we become, as Pope Francis said, merely a "charitable NGO."

Bottom line: I think putting "community" on your church website as if your community is the BEST THING EHVA! is frankly just silly. Unless you go to church in your basement, there's going to be a community. Community shouldn't be a selling point. Christ should be.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"1984", or rather, 2013

Talk about scary:
To bypass journalists, the White House developed its own network of websites, social media and even created an online newscast to dispense favorable information and images. In some cases, the White House produces videos of the president's meetings with major figures that were never listed on his public schedule. Instead, they were kept secret - a departure from past administrations, the report noted.

Read the whole article here.

I don't even need to add any editorial comment, but I leave you with this:

Would the Founding Father's be proud of this country? Is this what WWII vets fought for? Is this the "City on Hill" envisioned by Ronald Reagan? 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Parenthood 101: The Essentials

My wife said we needed diapers.

Knowing it was my fatherly duty to provide for my lovely little family, I gracious acquiesced to her request to go buy some more.

So, I saddled my trusty steed and rode into the Fearsome Forest. It was there I encountered the terrible dragon, which I slew without allowing him even to singe my eyebrows.

Then I arrived at Walgreens, purchased the essentials, and returned home.

I'm taking to this parenting thing pretty well, don't you think?


Milk and diapers: Doesn't get any more essential than this. In case of a zombie apocalypse government shutdown, we're good. For 24 hours.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Welcome to the World, Son

In case you haven't heard yet, I wanted to introduce you to the newest member of the Jones family.
So, without further ado, please welcome...


Robert Harrison Jones
Born Wednesday, October 9th, 2013, 8:09am
Weight: 9lbs, 5oz
Length: 22.5 inches

Sarah and baby are doing well. Baptism announcement to come shortly.

For more pictures and updates, follow us on facebook and/or twitter (@GabeHJones; @Sarah.Lyn105) and/or my blog (AManInTheGap.blogspot.com) if you're not already following.

God bless!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's Official: We Are A Nation of Pansies

I just happened to look at Drudge last night and saw this story:

Long Island Middle School Bans Footballs, Other Recreational Items

Concerns About Injuries Prompted Ban, Port Washington Officials Say

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Worries about injuries at a Long Island school have led to a surprising ban.
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, officials at Weber Middle School in Port Washington are worried that students are getting hurt during recess. Thus, they have instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.

Read the rest of the nonsense here.
What the heck has happened to us?!

Kids can't even play catch with each other because they might get hurt?! Are we that sheltered?!? Are we that concerned that kids might get *gasp!* a bruise?!?

I can just hear a wussified school administrator or helicopter parent saying something like:

"Oh, their precious skin! It might turn into a scar. And we don't want them to have to get plastic surgery someday. Plus, we don't want them to have to deal with the emotional trauma and social stigma that comes with wearing a band-aid during school."

I want to punch something.

How's that for being conscientious about injury?

Two words: Home School. They've always said it takes a village to raise a child. They never seem to mention that it's a village of idiots. So, do what you can. Take your kids out of school and teach them about hard work, discipline, and for Pete's sake! Let them get hurt once in a while.

Four more words: Run for school board.  Yes, if we're ever going to take this country back we need to start winning at the most local level. It doesn't start with the Presidency, Congress, the Senate, Supreme Court, or even the Governor of your state. No, the culture war is being waged in every classroom across this once great country. Run for school board, police board, or dog catcher, because if you don't run, who will?

Why I Can No Longer Give "President" Obama The Benefit of the Doubt

Last night, I found myself unmotivated to write anything. There was so much going on in the news that I wasn't sure where to begin and what I should comment on. Plus, it was late, so all I wanted to do was go to bed.

Than I got on facebook, and I was going to make one little post in reference to a story I saw earlier in the day. That little facebook post kept getting longer and longer. So, I decided it would work better as a blog post.

Chances are you may have heard the story about the old couple being forced out of their home because it was on "federal property." There are other stories about business being closed, parks and running trails being blocked (even though such places require little maintenance), and other tragic, ridiculous nonsense supposedly caused by the government shutdown. We've probably all heard about the asinine closing of the WWII memorial. It's almost too surreal to believe.

If you want to know more about the old couple, here's a story. I find so many things wrong with this story, I don't even know where to begin. I do have some questions:

Isn't the White House on federal property? Why isn't that "shut down"? Why aren't all the White House workers, the butler, the cooks, and so forth being furloughed? Surely they're not "essential" government workers? So, why doesn't King Obama have to move out?

I wish I would get two minutes on the phone with Barry. Just two. Or better yet, I'd love to hear two minutes of Todd Starnes, Dennis Miller, or anyone more eloquent than me on the phone with the man who occupies the White House.

Here's basically what I would say, without a teleprompter, and it probably wouldn't even take me two minutes:
I'm tired of the arrogance, "President" Obama. You're barely even worthy of the title. I respect the office and what it means to be President of the United States. But I have to wonder if you respect the title yourself. Honestly, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt; I want to think that as the leader of this country you really and truly care deeply about this country. It would be nice to know that my country's leader was patriotic, humble, and honored to be in such a position. But time and time again you prove that you are more concerned about your own selfish agenda, and about scoring political points. Well, I'm sorry, bud. You're playing with the lives of real American people, and we're tired of it. Sadly, you constantly reassure me that you're as petty as they come. A three-year-old wouldn't throw a temper tantrum this bad. They only have a bedroom to get messy; but you? You have a whole country to screw up. And you're doing a great job.

I can't give you the benefit of the doubt anymore, Mr. Obama. You've had too much garbage go on during your time in office that I'm convinced it can't be a coincidence. You really are an arrogant, narcissistic, selfish child of man. I'm ashamed to have you as my President.
Yes, go ahead and put me on a list now NSA. That would just further prove my point.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Taking A Step Back

There is a lot going on in the world right now.

A LOT.

With so much going on, we can sometimes get caught up in voicing our opinion on this and that, and thinking we have to weigh in on everything to maybe, hopefully, possibly change someone's mind. Or at least feel better because we "got it off our chest."

I know I do this. When I catch myself falling into the abyss of information and opinion overload, I know the next step I need to take is not forward, but backwards; a step back to enable myself to see the situation - and everything really - for what it is: just a small part of the fallen, created world of God, Our Father. Rome wasn't built in day. And even Jesus didn't make everyone agree with him. Why should I be so concerned about it?

I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to be the President of the United States right now. All snide comments about Obama aside, it would be one heck of a job. Think about some of the things he's dealing with right now:

  • The Shutdown (regardless of whose fault it is)
  • The failing ObamaCare implementation
  • Syria
  • Syria
  • And Syria
  • Benghazi
  • Iraq
  • Afghanistan
  • The economy (that's a whopper)
This is obviously only a partial list. But how many of us deal with things of that magnitude at all in our daily lives, except in a dabbling, half-interested sort of way? I don't think I do. Maybe someday, but not now.

And even beyond what the president would have to deal with, there a laundry list of things to care about, have opinions on, and be bothered with: Pope Francis' antics, the MLB playoffs, NFL and college football, Miley Cyrus, Ben Affleck, global warming, scientific discoveries, buzzfeed lists, blogs, YouTube videos, the latest twitchy posts, not to mention your friends, and family, - both in person and online - and on, and on, and on.

Frankly, it's all too much. I recently heard a statistic that is as frightening as it is striking; amazing as it is aggravating:
It is estimated that a week's worth of the New York Times contains more information than one person was likely to come across in their lifetime in the 18th Century.
Ponder that for a second.

All this context is obfuscating my underlying point, which goes thus:

With all the stuff going on that's worth commenting on, I could throw out my opinion on each and every little thing... for what? Who is really listening to me? We live in a narcissistic world where we all think our opinion really is the one that matters. Sure, you can tweet out your thoughts on X, Y, or Z, but so what? There are millions of little minions like you and me, each with our own small little circle of influence. We can easily feel like kings. But most of us are just kings locked away in a castle. For those of you who know me, you know I'm very opinionated, and it might be shocking to read this. If you don't know me, this might sound like someone who's given up on the world. Quite the contrary.

My point is that we, I, need to step back sometimes; rather a lot of the time. Most of the world is beyond me and my influence. My own self-aggrandizing ego has a tough time coming to grips with that fact. I have to constantly tell myself to control the things you can control; love those whom you can love. But above all, pray and leave the rest to God.

All this is to explain why I haven't been quite as active on this blog lately. Put simply, there is too much, and I don't know where to start most of the time. So, as long as there is so much out there, you may see fewer opinions and more introspection on here.

Thanks for reading.

Perspective on the #Shutdown


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Thoughts on the #GovernmentShutdown

This basically sums up how I feel about the government shutdown...