Pornography’s False Promise

Pornography’s False Promise

by Joshua Schulz

Francesco_Hayez_1859_The Kiss

I was recently asked to sit before college undergraduates on a panel of philosophers, theologians and counselors tasked with discussing the impact of pornography on our culture. Specifically, I was asked to reflect on the widely confirmed fact that regular porn use deadens the male libido, that men who use pornography find themselves unable to be aroused by real women.

While I pity these men, I said, we should keep in mind that this situation is bad for women too. It is bad in two ways. On the one hand, it means that there’s less sex happening in a pornographic culture than otherwise. That not only makes people cranky, but it also entails that there are fewer families out there. Pornography is indirectly contraceptive in a purely mathematical sense, because less sex equals fewer babies.

The second reason the failed male libido is bad for women is because the kind of sexual activity that’s happening—and by sexual activity I include everything up to, including and after sex, even welcoming God’s sons and daughters into the world—the kind of sexual activity that is happening is less and less erotic.

Indeed, I think these two consequences of pornography are related: pornography leads to fewer babies and this makes sex less erotic and thus in turn we forget what really is erotic and what makes us want to have sex in the first place.

So that’s my thesis: that pornographic sex is fundamentally anti-erotic, and it makes us unerotic. Thus the anti-erotic nature of pornographic sex explains the failed male libido. Now if you’ll bear with me, I want to develop an analogy that will help explain why pornographic sex is unerotic. I want to compare sex with food, and the morality of sex with the morality of eating.

Thomistic philosophers like myself think there are two kinds of mistakes we human beings are prone to: sometimes we desire bad things, while sometimes we want good things in bad ways. We all agree, I hope, that dirt doused in paint thinner doesn’t make a good meal. It’s not very nourishing, it tastes funny, and it will kill you.

But I think we can also agree that there are bad ways to eat good food. In fact, the Catholic tradition identifies five forms of gluttony (bad eating). Think F.R.E.S.H.: fastidiously, ravenously, excessively, sumptuously, and hastily. (I borrowed this acronym from Rebecca DeYoung’s excellent book Glittering Vices.) Gluttony isn’t bad because it makes you fat. Indeed, you can be a skinny glutton, just as you can be a greedy rich man, like Ebeneezer Scrooge. No, gluttony is bad because it makes you less human. It makes you insensitive to or incapable of enjoying the real pleasures of table. The fastidious eater, for instance, is a picky eater, someone who insists that her meal be made just the way she likes it or else she sends it back. What happens when she refuses to eat even one slice of the birthday cake her grandmother spent all afternoon baking for her because she doesn’t like strawberry icing? She misses out on the meaning, the value or worth of the cake as a gift, as a sign of her grandmother’s love for her, and she wounds her grandmother by failing to be grateful. She deprives herself and her grandmother of the real pleasure of sharing love in the form of food.

Likewise, the ravenous eater is a greedy eater, the man who grabs a second piece of pie when the child next to him hasn’t had his first one yet. He misses out not only on justice, but on the unique pleasure of sharing, of giving some of what you have to another person because you know it will make them happy. The greedy eater cannot see Christ in the eyes of the poor (see Mt. 25), and thus deprives himself of the Eucharistic pleasure of offering God’s creation back to Him.

I could multiply examples like this, but we must return to principles. Gluttony is not primarily harmful by way of injury, that is, by damaging your health, but by depriving you of everything that makes human beings eating at table categorically different than pigs eating at trough, namely, the moral, aesthetic, interpersonal, and theological goods to be had in food, things like gratitude, justice, beauty, and leisurely conversation. It’s harmful by reduction, by treating you as something less than you are.

So imagine someone arguing that so long as no one is harmed by gluttony, that is, so long as some people choose to be gluttons and others choose to let them, there is no reason to oppose or condemn gluttony. Notice now why this is a bad argument: by assuming that all harm is injury, this argument treats you as less than fully human—not as a rational adult, but more like an animal—because human beings are ensouled bodies made for communion with each other and a triune God and even our eating reflects this. We are made to be what we are—all that we are, not less­—and to be that well, as St. Francis DeSales was so fond of saying.

What I want you to see is that the same is true of sex. The No Harm Defense of sexual deviance, that so long as no one is harmed by porn (or whatever), and so long as its production and consumption are consensual, there’s no reason to oppose it—that argument fails for sex for the same reason it failed for food. The reason it fails is because human beings are ensouled bodies made for communion with each other and a triune God and even our sexuality reflects this. The human sexual act is categorically different than animal rutting because of the moral, aesthetic, interpersonal, and theological goods to be had in sex.

Let me explain. First, we should note that sexual desire aims at fundamentally reproductive kinds of acts. If my friend Rodney and I are aliens and I give him a High-Five and he gets pregnant, you’d call that “sex,” because sex means a reproductive type of activity. That’s why there’s something deficient about sexual desire that doesn’t aim at a reproductive kind of act, say, the burning desire to make love to water coolers. You can’t reproduce with a water cooler. Second, we should note that human reproduction doesn’t just make more stuff, but co-creates new relationships: husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. Sex makes families, and those relationships are the rock and foundation of a happy life (as the old know and the young soon discover).

Why is this important? Because it means that when men and women look at each other with a spark in their eye, if their vision is true, they should see what Blessed John Paul II called the genealogical person (Gratissimam Sane, 9). They should see each other as husbands and wives and mothers and fathers and their sons and daughters, and they should see that this spark in their eye is in fact the flame of eternity because every one of those relationships is real and forever and destined for blessedness therefore a moving image of the divine love of the Godhead who lights the world on fire. That’s what is really arousing about sex: that in this most physical and intimate act we receive more than we could possibly desire because the person we’re sharing ourselves with is more than we can possibly imagine.

What’s really and truly erotic isn’t a desire that’s never satisfied. It’s a love so overflowing in its abundance that it becomes creative. Just like God.

Viewing pornography, then, is like going to an art museum with a blindfold on. It’s like trying to listen to a symphony underwater, or dance with rocks in your shoes. Pornography extinguishes the erotic gaze by training your fiery eye on something other than persons. Do not be mistaken about this: the pornographic gaze desires the machine, not sex. It wants quick, convenient, and easy pleasure in the way the morphine addict wants a fix instead of friendship.

Of course porn deadens the male libido to real women. It trains us to prefer machines to people, because machines are easy. Mark my words: the second sexual revolution—the one coming right around the corner—will try to justify sex and love with machines, and people will want this because machines will never ask you to change, to sacrifice, or to be better than you are.

Porn deadens the male libido by destroying your sexual imagination because imagination is founded in what’s real. That’s why porn is ultimately unerotic. Porn use trains men to expect women to respond like euphoric machines to any sexual stimulation. This is not only false, as any married man can tell you, but there’s no challenge to porn, no demand of the other that you man up and learn how to turn on a real woman through humor, romance, courtship, marriage, and fatherhood. Real women (I’m told) are turned on by men who play with their kids; in other words, by gentlemen. Try learning that from porn.

Editor’s note: The image above titled “The Kiss” was painted by Francesco Hayez in 1859.

Catholicism-Scandalous in Every Age- Crisis Magazine

by Anthony Esolen

Christ Cleansing the Temple by Giordano

A few weeks ago, a Catholic priest caused quite a stir in one of our local diocesan high schools. He spoke the truth about sex. Pause here to sigh, and to wish that our heresies were more interesting.

Some of the parents and students objected. They did not say, “The priest presented the truth in a way that made it less likely that the audience would accept it. We are worried that the Church’s teachings did not appear in the best light. We need to do some considerable work right now, lest the students go on to reject what they do not understand.” No one said anything of the sort. It was clear that they objected to what the priest had said, rather than how he said it. Not one of the parents crying out for the principal’s head troubled to suggest any way in which the Church’s teachings might be presented with more effective power. They objected not to the strategy, but to the battle. They do not want the Church to win. They want the Church to surrender.

Somehow, I ended up on the mailing list of some of the objectors, and learned that they were worried that the principal was leading the school in a “conservative to orthodox direction.” They were also worried that the principal had recommended texts designed to encourage students not simply to know what the Church teaches, but to be “living crusaders for Christ.” Here was my response:

I don’t know what the word “conservative” means, if we are talking about the teachings of Jesus and of the Church. That’s because those teachings transcend politics, and are always going to be a scandal, no matter what culture encounters them.

For example, there was a time when “honor” was the principle that ordered a man’s life, if he was a soldier or an aristocrat in Spain or France or even early America. Men whose “honor” had been impeached would challenge the supposed offender to a duel. Andrew Jackson fought twenty or so of these duels. They were “consensual,” because you couldn’t force somebody to accept the challenge, but the Church condemned them in no uncertain terms, equating them with murder. For that condemnation, she was accused of having no regard for honor, of not understanding genuine manhood, and of meddling in affairs that were not her business.

I’m not equating the Sexual Revolution with that culture of “honor,” but rather noting the principle that the Church is always going to offend. The Germanic tribes who heard the gospel heard what for them was quite baffling, that they were not supposed to take revenge—their whole culture was based upon loyalty to the clan and blood feuds. The Romans who heard the gospel heard what for them what was quite baffling, that they were not supposed to expose their infant children, or do a whole lot of other things that Roman aristocrats had gotten in the habit of doing, without thinking themselves any the worse for them. Socialists in the nineteenth century were scandalized by the Church’s insistence that the family, and not the State, is primary. Money-worshipers among us are scandalized by the Church’s teaching that, although your wealth is your own, it is meant for others, for the common good. Native men in Africa and in the South Seas were astonished to hear that they could have only one wife.

It’s always something, and for us now, the something is sex. That’s embarrassing; I wish it were something more “admirable,” but it is what it is.

Remember what Jesus says to the people who ask him about divorce. Those people include his own closest disciples. They ask him, essentially, “Under what conditions may a man divorce his wife?” Or, to translate it literally, “When may a man put away his woman?”—because in both Hebrew and Greek, there is no special word for “wife” or “husband.” It’s the same in German today: a woman’s husband is her “man,” and a man’s wife is his “woman.” Now, they are expecting Jesus to raise the bar, as he always did. They thought he would side with the more severe of the two points of view that were current, and they thought he would refer to Moses, the Lawgiver, as an authority.

But Jesus shocks them. He baffles even his disciples. He does not bring in Moses as an authority. Moses allowed divorce, he says, “because of the hardness of your hearts,” but “in the beginning, it was not so.” When he says, “In the beginning,” he is referring to the creative intention of God himself, expressed in the order of creation before the Fall. In the beginning, he says, and the words mean “at the foundation of things,” and not just “at the start,” God made them male and female, “and for this reason a man leaves his mother and father and cleaves unto his wife, and they two become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.” That change, from two to one flesh, does not depend upon the feelings of the people, or upon their intentions. It can’t be, because no human being has the power to sever that one flesh. Jesus says this quite clearly.

He is not talking about “porneia,” or fornication, which is clearly wrong, and not a part of the controversy at hand. Nobody listening to him believed that fornication was all right, least of all Jesus, who said that if a man but looks at a woman with lust in his heart, he has already committed adultery with her, or who said that it’s not the things that enter a man that make him unclean, but rather (and think here of the daily needs of the body, that made a Jew ritually unclean, and required washing) the things that come out of him, including lewdness and licentiousness. Everybody agreed about that. What shocks them is that Jesus broadens the scope of the condemnation against adultery. Or, I should say, adultery is what it always was, but even the faithful Jews did not know what it was, and how long they had accepted as a matter of course things that were adulterous. Jesus says that a man who puts away his woman and takes another commits adultery, and the same for the woman. And “therefore what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” The “man” in that sentence includes Moses! He was the great lawgiver; yet not even Moses had the authority or the power to separate what God had joined.

This teaching is clear. For a long time it baffled people—the Romans, the Greeks, even the Jews. Then for many centuries it did not baffle people, not even those Protestant groups that allowed for divorce, since as late as 1900 divorce was still very rare; I have found both Catholic and Protestant Americans at that time crying out against it, because it had dissolved as many as one in ten marriages. Well, now it baffles people all over again, along with the other teachings regarding sex, even the ones that have never baffled anybody.

The Church can’t win a popularity contest. She never will. In one age she is accused of being effeminate for loving peace and condemning war. In another age she is accused of being warlike. In one age she is accused of being too indulgent towards sins of the flesh. In another age she is accused of being puritanical. In one age she’s said to have her head in the clouds because she instills a suspicion of material wealth. In another age she’s accused of being the tool of the rich. It is always something.

I came to this realization many years ago, and it scandalized me too, and forced me to make a decision. I decided I would trust the Church. Another way to put it is this. Jesus demands not most of me, but all of me. If I obey him only in those things that don’t cost me much, what good is it? I can’t say to him or to his Church, “You can have all of me except for my bank account,” or “except for my pistol,” or “except for my lips and tongue,” or “except for these inches down below.” That is to set up another god in place of him. It makes no sense.

The Church’s teachings liberate. I’ve experienced it. The habits of the Sexual Revolution enslave, and bring in their wake a great deal of human misery, and even blood. That may make people unhappy to hear, but it is a fact. To be Catholic now is to be something that the important and clever people outside of the Church will despise. On Good Friday we memorialize what the important and clever people did to Our Lord. Let’s not join them.

Editor’s note: The image above depicts “Christ Cleansing the Temple” painted by Luca Giordano.

The Amazing Catholic BS generator


This is the kind of article one writes with Kinky Friedman blasting in the background, and that’s how it is meant to be read. Otherwise, the experience might prove a little too painful. So crank up “Homo Erectus,” grab a bourbon, and I’ll explain to you the workings of The Catholic Bullshit Generator™.

The Generator was invented in the ‘60s, but it didn’t come from Ronco, the folks who brought millions of bloodshot, white-knuckled insomniacs the joys of the Pocket Fisherman. In fact, there’s no single tinkerer who can claim sole credit for The Generator. Like eugenics and the A-bomb, it was developed by a team. Its function is to take the complex and deeply-considered doctrines of a 2,000-year-old, divinely-revealed religion and turn them into dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. Like chunks of squirrel, they taste a little like… chicken.

Our Generator is distinct in structure, design and output from its competitors that serve other faiths. The Evangelical Balderdash Engine helps divorced pastors of megachurches churn out press releases supporting reckless wars and the rape of Nature (since the devil planted them T-Rex fossils and Jaysus is comin’ soon!). The B’nai B’rith Drek Fabrik produces whole magazines devoted to proving how heterosexual marriage laws caused the Holocaust. The Mormons…. Okay, that’s just not fair.

But I’m kind of partial to our own papist device. It does my Catholic heart proud to see what we’ve come up with. It whirs at every level of American Catholic discourse, from the bloviations of certain bishops, down through some Catholic columnists, to ordinary bloggers and local pastors in the pulpit. Large sections of those helpful documents produced by America’s bishops in the 1970s and 80s on economics and military policy were clearly squeezed out of The Generator, along with much of what the bishops say today on immigration.

In The Faithful Departed, Catholic journalist Philip Lawler shows how The Generator enabled various bishops to write earnest thank you notes to pedophile priests, praising them for their “ministry,” and vague reassuring letters to anguished parents that spoke of “compassion,” “therapy” and “legitimate concerns.” The pastoral letters of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, which appear in his paper The Tidings, seem to have been entirely produced by The Generator—which must be running day and night in the basement of his extraordinary new cathedral.

Here’s how The Generator works: Presented with a complicated problem that requires balancing the interests of groups with competing claims, it will draw selectively on Biblical references and Church documents to churn out rhetoric that simultaneously:

1) Clouds essential distinctions in a pink, emotive haze.
2) Suits the user’s political sympathies, institutional interests, or unspoken emotional needs (e.g., socialism, cover-up, or envy).
3) Presents the speaker as a gentle, vulnerable soul who’s acting only out of compassion, whose motives it would be wantonly cruel to question.
4) Casts his opponents as blind, cruel, or hypocritical.
5) Pretends it is not attacking anyone, but gently and bravely pointing to “deeper truths.” Hence any polemical reply amounts to beating up on Jesus.

To see the Generator operating full throttle, check out this exchange I and a group of other frustrated commentors had with one Catholic columnist over immigration. In that article and his comments on my own, in cringe-worthy, moralistic prose, the writer excoriates, in turn:

• America for causing poverty in Mexico.
• Europe for causing poverty in Africa.
• All middle-class Americans for living a “sinful lifestyle.” (I guess that includes my sister who works 60-hour-weeks as a nurse treating immigrants who get free medical care from the taxpayers. My sister has cable TV).
• Any American concerned about the social problems caused by immigration.
• All the residents of Scottsdale, Arizona.

When commentors responded to these wild attacks with facts, logical syllogisms, and direct quotations from binding Catholic teaching, the writer responded with the mewl of a wounded bully, “Why are you so hostile? Why are you addressing me as if we are fighting?” Time to grow a pair, pal.

In case you can’t afford to buy your own, I’ll tell you how to build a Catholic Bullshit Generator from ordinary items you’ll find around the house.

All the moving parts are ordinary words, wrenched out of context and used to suit your polemical purpose. When arguing with someone, be sure to use the following terms at regular intervals in your sentences (don’t worry about the grammar): Voiceless. Afflicted. Disadvantaged. Marginalized. Pastoral. Handicapped. Diverse.  Needy. Displaced.

Anything you are defending, characterize with words like these. For instance, tenured homosexuals living in Cambridge, Mass., pouring the money they don’t need to spend on diapers into overseas investments can be presented as “individuals whose personal choices of whom to love have rendered them marginalized and voiceless in a heterosexist world.” A drug lord scheduled for deportation back to Bolivia is really “a displaced Latino business-owner subject to America’s draconian drug laws.” A black guy who’s collecting disability for a minor injury while working side-jobs off the books can come across as “a handicapped African-American struggling to support his needy family.” A pedophile priest who molested your son is really, the bishop explains, “a brother in Christ afflicted by a serious mental handicap with which he struggles prayerfully with the pastoral support of our Christian community.”

Conversely, if you need to attack someone or something, employ any or all of these pejoratives: Comfortable. Bourgeois. Secure. Smug. Materialistic. Consumerist. Careerist. Racist. Xenophobic. Suburban. Hence a family where both parents work to pay Catholic school tuition so their kids won’t get stabbed by members of Mexican gangs at Martin Luther King Elementary School are really “middle-class suburbanites whose racist attitudes are centered on a fear of diversity.” See how it works? Anyone who has worked hard and built a career, and lives in a city where you can’t afford an apartment can be characterized as “a comfortable materialist engaged in the consumerist pursuit of a worldly lifestyle incompatible with Gospel values.” And so on.

Remember that you, too, are marginalized and disadvantaged by your courageous embrace of the needy and voiceless, uttered in bold defiance of a smug and materialistic society, which cruelly and in plain violation of the commandments of Jesus Christ, won’t give you a stipend so you can sit around all day in your Spiderman PJs writing blogs, in a nice suburban house in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Hijack at 30,000 feet-Alteia

“It’s a Setup”: The Note that Saved a Marriage from Adultery at 30,000 Feet

Marisa Pereira

I was taking the Atlanta to Bentonville, AR flight several weeks ago intending to do business with Wal-Mart. When I got to the gate, my usual people-watching hobby kicked in. I noticed an animated woman who seemed to be doing all she possibly could to get the attention of this man. I noticed they both had wedding rings (hers a whopping diamond) but did not seem to be married to each other.

As fate would have it, when I boarded, I saw them seated in seats 7A and 7B while I was in 7C across the aisle. Soon a lady approached them and the man in 7B offered her his first class ticket, pointed to some papers saying “do you mind, we’re planning on doing some business.” She accepted and the proffered papers promptly disappeared.

Now started my “show.” I found myself in shock at the blatant sexuality this woman (7A) expressed in trying to “capture” the attention of the man (7B). She really didn’t say much of value but was very physical. She had long hair which she tossed making sure it fell on him; she moved the armrest up so there was nothing between them ensuring she was touching him. She had a loose, knit, beach dress and wore a little jacket over it – I guess the “business” touch. She bent down frequently ensuring her neckline gaped open and often hiked her dress up, one time even doing so to point out birthmarks on her thighs.

I noticed 7B, uncomfortable at first and hesitant, even twisting his wedding ring. So I started praying that he would stay strong. Wanting to do something, I tore a piece of paper and wrote the following on it: “Don’t destroy your marriage for someone who doesn’t respect you. Yesterday she was with someone else, today with you, tomorrow with someone else. Your wife and kids deserve better!!” Later I added, “It’s a setup” at the beginning of the note because of the determination with which the woman operated.

As the flight progressed, the man was losing control and soon I saw his hand on her thigh. She said, “I know what we should do tonight – we should go dancing.” My prayers were now in high gear… As God works, here comes some turbulence. With an extra dip, we are all on high alert and I made eye contact with him saying “whoa.” In a couple of minutes, I started the following conversation:

Me: “I noticed your unusual wedding ring, is it silver or platinum?”

7B: “Platinum but it hasn’t been cleaned in a while”

Me: Still looks beautiful. You going to Bentonville on business – with Wal-Mart? (He nodded). Do you go often?

7B: Yes very often – I’m here at least once a week.

Me: So then, you must know the area well. Can you tell me where this is? (At which time I proffered the note I’d written.) 

I thought he might read the first line and turn away or tell me it is none of my business – but he actually drew closer to the note, focused and read the whole thing. When he looked up, he said “Thank You.”

The woman noticed him withdraw, and if looks could kill – I’d be dead by now! When we were getting off the plane, he came back and said to me – “Thank you – I really appreciate it.” I said “no problem – good luck to you” and we went our separate ways.

The setting I described is borne out of lust – of power, control and flesh. Women do not have the corner on the market as predators. In my experience, men can be formidable in their pursuit as well. We have made sex a street sport. Everyone is doing it so it must be right – it must be “normal” and now in order to keep it “fun” we introduce competition – totally disregarding the cost..


In my own life, I have had men, already in relationships, interested in creating the same havoc. But for the grace of God, I could easily have found myself destroyed in a similar mess. Fortunately for me, many moons ago I had a young man who was dying; give me a priceless gift by paying me a compliment that I cherish to date. He likened me to an earthly Mother Mary. While I know that can sound presumptuous and sacrilegious, it blessed me in so many ways. It helped my nonexistent self-esteem at the time and encouraged me to carry myself in a way that was befitting “Our Lady.”

After all, Genesis tells us we are all “made in His image.” I realize that if I consider myself a “lady” I am less likely to treat sex as a blood sport and more likely to conduct myself in a way that is self-respecting and life giving. I believe it would be the same for men who conduct themselves as gentlemen.

I found myself praying throughout my trip that 7B would not succumb to the mission of destruction that 7A was on. That he would realize that a few minutes of pleasure were not worth the pain that his wife and kids and all those who loved him would have to endure. They trusted him to think beyond his own selfish pleasures – to really love them.

This begs two questions:

First, what is love anyway? Most often it is defined as romance or a feeling or sexual activity. Those of us who consider ourselves more enlightened might say “it is being willing to lay down our life for another” or “love is a decision”. True, but how many times realistically will we be called to “lay down our lives for another”? While it sounds good, it is rather farfetched.

But yes, love is a decision. It is a decision when at two in the morning my friend needs to get to the hospital, or I’m ill myself and I have to clean up my kid’s vomit, or a spouse is hurt and the other spouse must abstain from sex, or I am on my day off and someone needs my help, or I address a difficult truth to help someone overcome an addiction – even if it means being ostracized.

My friend Rich recently recounted a situation where he challenged a young “Catholic” man who was living with his girlfriend. He told him he was surprised that after all his “Catholic” education and upbringing he did not “love” his girlfriend enough to want her to get to Heaven. Wow – so it would seem that along with all that we “do,” when we “love” we need to have included a desire to “get the other person to heaven.”  That makes it more tangible doesn’t it? Real love then, can never be borne amid deceit and disrespect.

Second, am I my brother’s keeper? If I truly want my “brother,” aka “loved one,” to get to Heaven, then the answer is a resounding “yes”, of course.

But what about the stranger on the plane? I thought long and hard and agonized about saying anything. In the end, I realized I’d just have a bruised ego if 7B responded “none of your business.” And if I could save his family pain, by my bruised ego, I figured it would be worth it.

So, I became my brother’s keeper. What were the chances they would be sitting next to me anyway? My friend Rich said the person he challenged was angry at first but a few days later, called him to thank him and let him know they were not living together anymore. Whether we are lay or clergy, I believe God uses us all to fulfill His plan and keep each other on His track. Isn’t it time we put our egos aside and acted in love? Isn’t it time we really listened?

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13.7

Keeping in touch with my…self

I know I have some readers, but much of the reason I write this blog is to keep a journal for myself, and to highlight some of the goings-on of the day.

I haven’t written in a while, and wanted to fill in why.  I work for a company that allows me the grace to attend Mass, and serve, nearly every day since I’ve been here.  During the last several months, since the first of the year, though, we’ve been engaged in a massive data-storage move, which involves very little impact to our customers, who depend on us to be up 24/7, 365.  There have been daily meetings taking up about 25% of the day, sometimes extending into the time envelope in which I go to Mass.  I’ve been able to attend about 40% of the time.  The project will culminate Easter Saturday.  After that, I might be able to write a little more.

I say might, because I’m also going through some health issues.  The last couple winters have been fraught with nagging pains, which tend to go away when the weather warms.  But sometimes they’re a bit concerning.  Last year I thought I had carpal tunnel syndrome, but when the spring came, it disappeared and hasn’t returned.  This year, it was a bit deeper.  I had trouble sitting in some positions very long.  The pain wasn’t bad, it was just nagging.  So I went to the doctor to see if there was something that could be done.  The xrays showed moderate arthritis in spine and hips (some of which can be lessened by losing weight), but they also showed something else…I have a couple of appointments to see an internal medicine surgeon and a urologist.  The first for gall stones, the second for kidney stones.  Thankfully, there’s no stoney heart (LOL…)


Have seen several good/decent Christian movies this Lent…We saw the Son of God in the theater a week or so ago, and liked it alright.  There were a few items-Jesus was so pretty…the words weren’t exact.  But it was better than what I’ve heard about Noah…Saw another “One Night with the King”, about the Story of Esther, queen of Persia.  Very well done! And the classic…Solomon and Sheba…talk about an impressive movie!  I can recommend them all to you.

I’m reading “Heaven is for Real”, and Fr. Don Calloway’s Under the Mantle.  Planning on watching the Story of Ruth, and David and Bathsheba.  And looking forward to the new season of Deadliest Catch.

Public prayer

There is great power when you make the Sign of the Cross and say a blessing before a meal…


A Simple and Public Act of Faith

Family Matters: Faith @ Work Life

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 6:56 AM Comments (10)

Several weeks ago, I had lunch with one of my new clients, a senior human resources executive of an Atlanta-based company. Our working partnership had been very business-focused since the beginning, and I wanted to forge a stronger personal connection, which I enjoy with most of my other clients.

We made small talk about a number of subjects until our food arrived. I said I was going to say a blessing over our meal and that she was welcome to join me. As I made the Sign of the Cross and started to pray, I noticed that she also made the Sign of the Cross. I smiled to myself and said a quiet prayer of thanks for the opportunity I had been given.

Between bites of salad, I asked her which parish she attended. She gave me a funny look before responding with the name, then added, “That’s a long story.” I told her I would love to hear about it, and for the next half hour, we talked about her faith journey, how much she loved her parish, her devotion to the Blessed Mother and her prayer life. The awkward business-focused exchange at the beginning of the meal had been replaced by a warm conversation about our shared Catholic faith. I certainly achieved my goal of a stronger personal connection!

As we were preparing to leave, she shared that she never spoke of her faith in business settings and really enjoyed our discussion. We speculated on why Catholics don’t discuss faith as openly as perhaps our Protestant brethren do. I suggested it may be fear of persecution or lack of confidence in defending the teachings of the Church. She suggested that it all came down to simple courage. I asked her to explain, and her response was, “When you made the Sign of the Cross in a crowded restaurant and said the blessing for all to hear, I realized that I never do that. My fear of saying a simple blessing is a clear reminder to me that I don’t have the courage to share my faith outside of my comfort zone. I am grateful that you don’t have that issue and also for this wonderful conversation.”

Driving back to my office, I reflected on countless other business meals over the last few years that had turned into faith discussions, perhaps because of the simple act of making the Sign of the Cross and blessing the meal.

I don’t know if I see this as courageous as much as following the call of Christ and the teachings of our Church. It is certainly food for thought and worthy of careful reflection.

What would happen if everyone who reads this makes a simple commitment to make the Sign of the Cross and say a blessing over every meal from now on, regardless of our companions? How many incredible faith discussions would occur as a result of this simple and public act of faith? I could easily argue the other side and share the possible negative outcomes, but can we live as faithful Catholics if we are paralyzed by fear?

The answer, I believe, is contained in the words of Jesus: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others I will deny before my heavenly Father” (Matthew 10:32-33).

Randy Hain writes from

Atlanta. Adapted with permission of

the publisher and Randy Hain from

The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for

Integrating Faith and Work (Liguori).

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Alternatives to Noah

During Lent, we make it a point to deepen our faith.  Sometimes we make an effort to watch movies about saints, and Bible Stories.

A couple of weeks ago, we watched the 3 hour Ignatius Press movie “Padre Pio”.  Very compelling.  It’s amazing to see that even priests do not have a simple life, and that the devil is at work in monasteries as well as in the secular world.

This weekend, we watched one we bought a while back, but hadn’t gotten around to.  It’s a little-known movie based on the Book of Esther, called “One Night with a King”.  It was produced by Sony, and I didn’t really have too much in the way of expectations, but having seen the DVD, and then read the book of Esther,  I would have to say that the movie stays true to the Bible.  All the major elements are there.  Of course, there are things in the movie that aren’t in the Bible, for example, the book says that Esther was prepared for a year, being anointed with oils for 6 months…  The Bible is sometimes short on details, and movies do need to fill in the blanks.

Anyway, I recommend this movie to those who want to see on-screen Bible movies, and to those who want to support Christian efforts to stay in the movie industry…