Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Moana: The Story of Vocation

They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.- Luke 12:53

One of the criticisms of the Moana movie is that the title character Moana disobeys her father's wishes to save her village.  Christians criticize the movie because they feel it teaches children that they can willfully disobey their parents, but I disagree.

The story is about having a vocation or a calling as the movie says.  Moana is called to be the leader of her village, and she is called to lead her people in such a way as to save and restore them.  Her father agrees that she is their leader, but disagrees with the path she is called to take to lead them.  She's not willfully disobeying her father. 

The movie has a pantheistic religious feel.  The ocean calls her to this quest, but it's more metaphorical in my mind.  God is calling her. He's using the ocean. Sometimes obeying God means disobeying our parents.

Jesus spoke about this division and disobedience in the Bible.  It seems it is frequently overlooked by a number of prominent Christian leaders who wish to make a buck off their version of godly parenting.  It annoys me.  I'm not a perfect person and do not have the full picture of what God is calling my children to do with their lives.  My job is to help cultivate their ability to discern but not thwart God's call. 

I wish other parents were supportive of their children's calling. Speaking from personal experience, sometimes parents inadvertently shut down any exploration into a religious vocation. Reality is that even parents are prone to sin.  Instead of cultivating an environment where children can follow where God leads them, there is division and pushing from parents in the exact opposite direction. Some parents yearn for grandchildren instead of their child serving the Church.  I understand.

So ultimately who should the child obey: mere sinful parents or the all-knowing God?  I think it's pretty obvious.  And I think it's obvious from the movie that other adults in Moana's life know just what her calling is supposed to be even if her father is to blind by his personal pain to see it.  He's an imperfect man.  And movies like this are good because Moana following her calling doesn't mean she's doing something immoral.  This is a clear cut case of her obeying God even when it's difficult and separates you from your family.

You know who Moana's story reminds me of?  Mother Angelica.  She felt a strong calling despite her single mother not wanting to loose her.  But Mother Angelica entered the convent and never looked back.  She obeyed Jesus' call within a call by starting a television network even though she was cloistered.  And she was reunited with her mother when eventually her own mother became an extern-sister.  I am sure that she is again reunited with her mother in heaven.  She never said her vocation was an easy one, but she followed the path Christ led her down.

Moana's a great movie and a good one to your children about when it comes to obeying God, not stealing, and making restitution for sins.  Let your children watch it.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Public School = Bad?

I hate twitter sometimes.  I follow a lot, a lot of social commentators. Maybe I should unfollow them.  It might save my sanity because one of them, a prominent Catholic, has basically said that in his opinion public school is the spawn of Satan.  Well he actually said he doesn't understand how you can be Christian and still send your child to public school.

It's ridiculous really.  Because for some people this is what the alternative to public school looks like:

1) public school or private  *cough* racist *cough* Christian school because there are no Catholic schools within reasonable distance (that would be me).

2) public school or private Catholic school which produces poorer quality students (that would be my husband)

3) public school or not being able to feed your children so they can go to private school

4) public school because there is a lottery to get into really great charter school and you still need to feed your children.

Well you can probably get the idea from the above scenarios that choosing a school is complicated.  And the fact that a fellow Catholic would brandish about cavalierly without understanding the complete picture for each family irks me to say the least.  It reeks with judgement if not the sin of rash judgement.

 He's assuming also that all teachers in every public school system are secretly Marxist followers (basically he said they teach Marxism in public school).  This of course is false because I personally know several practicing Catholic within my children's school.  It's basically the sin of slander to assume that all teachers in public schools are horrible immoral people.  I went to public school.  My math teacher was such a devote Christian that she said she avidly avoided lying.  Public school teacher teaching morality and avoiding sin.  Boom! Get thee to a confessional!  Maybe just maybe the reason why the school teachers at my children's school who are practicing Catholics don't work for Catholic parochial schools is because 1) the pay is better and they need to provide for their families and 2) they have more flexibility in terms of taking maternity leave and whatnot.  One teacher said she took a job over the summer helping run a summer camp program at the school because she needed the extra income.  Private schools don't typically provide summer programs for children and so the teachers have to drum up some other form of income during the summer months.

If he judges that for his family homeschooling is best, great. More power to him.  I'm all for school choice and I follow the catechism says that it's the parent's call to choose what is best for their children.  I'm not a mind reader. I can't begin to understand how the schools operate in each area because all public schools in the US are largely autonomous and within those individual schools so are teachers. 

I'm also one of the blessed ones. I live in a state that has tax credit/voucher program in place.  It's raised the standards of teaching in my state because there is now competition.  Don't believe me?  The largest school district in Tucson called Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) has had a surprising loss of student returnees.  They are actively calling families to find out why.  I think the school district is poor in a lot of ways and wouldn't send my children there, but you know what parents have options and they have spoken.  If the school wants to retain more students (and thus funds), they are going to actively try and improve.

In my children's school, because we have open enrollment which means anyone can enroll and they don't have to live in the area, 58% of the parents elect to send their children to our school. That's right over half compared their local school to ours and said "I like that school and even though it's also public I want my children to go to school there." 

For the record, of all the people in my Bible study group for moms (and we're way devote here) only one (yes one) sent her children to the parochial school.  The rest of us send our children to public school.  Not charter.  Not homeschool. Public school. So please, stop calling us horrible people. It's so Pharisaical. 

Point is that you cannot judge why a parent decides to send their child to a public school in the area.  The public school could be an excellent one.  And this judging is really just another "mommy" war where parents smugly try to make themselves out to be the better parent.  Grow up. Let it go. Parent your own child and let others parent theirs.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Hypocritical Nature of an Older Generation

Today I took the children to the library.  It was teaming with children in the children's section.  Children's story time starts a little later and many parents bring their children in before hand so they can drop off and pick up books.  Normally it's at this time that it's loud.  After story time began, my children opted out (the story time is for preschoolers and neither one of them really are although we were invited).  Instead they were engaging in imaginative play with puppets and play structure inside the children's section. 

Our library is quite small.  The children's section is at the entrance and is separated from the teens and adult sections by computers.

My children are quite exuberant as boys often are.  There's also a saying that says you know you are a parent of an autistic if you child is sensitive to loud noises, but he is the loudest person you know.  HB doesn't know his own volume and neither does his younger brother when he's trying to edge into HB's imaginative world.

They were playing.  So I sat in a chair on one side of the tall structure.  On the opposite side sat a teenage volunteer reading a book.  He was manning the summer reading program.  Neither he nor the librarians bustling about said anything.  After the children's section was mostly empty, the boys were still playing at the structure.  And a little while later I heard an old lady remark "those boys are so loud and no parent either."  I'm not sure what the teenager thought.  He said nothing.  He might of looked up and then went back to reading his book. 

The remark bothered me. It wasn't because I was sitting right there and she simply couldn't see me.  So in fact she was wrong. No, I had to unpack why, it stung.  And I realized that it was this kind of attitude that has changed society.

You see back in this lady's day I bet she went to the library alone.  I bet she walked with her siblings to the library.  And I bet what's more if she had children, they also probably walked to the library alone.  Now if a parent allows a child to walk to the library alone or the park, CPS and the authorities involve themselves.  The parent is labeled neglectful. 

The reason why is because the older generation, which enjoyed having the freedom of walking to libraries as a child without parents, thinks that younger generations shouldn't allow that to happen.  My generation feels the enormous pressure of having to have eyes glued to the back of their heads.  This is why we have so much technology these days geared toward parents like baby monitors with video.

And this reaps negative consequences.  Exuberant boys aren't allowed to be exuberant.  They aren't given that independence and the experience to handle small crisis.  Instead boys are supposed to be quiet and sit in front of screens for hours to appease the mass of people (not just older people but younger ones as well).  Or they are to be locked into camps with someone to watch them constantly because 10 year olds aren't deemed old enough to stay at home alone and be bored.  (I found it weird that there were a couple of pubescent girls in the day care program the school runs. Why?)

We live in a country where it is safer for children than any previous generation.  So that's a poor excuse to keep children locked in doors during the summer.

This is what bothers me about her remark.  It's completely hypocritical.  Why should she expect more from my generation and my children that wasn't expected from her generation or from her children?

Lady, you are the reason why my children are in the library with their mother whooping it up over puppets.  If you don't like it, then stop making such remarks.  Who cares if they are alone?  It's a library; it's summer. Where on earth do you think they should be?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Frugality and 25 things

One of the criticisms of the minimalist movement is that people may own very few things, but they spend an awful lot of money.  There are minimalists who both own less and are frugal.  I was born frugal.  I have no idea where it comes from.  My parents can tell you that I have always been that way.  I also married frugal.  However I'm not perfect.  There are things that frugal people do that I don't.  I recently watched a youtube vlog about the 25 frugal things this family does and while I don't do all of them, I certainly can come up with my own list.

1) Keep my air conditioner on a higher temperature setting (and thus drown the therapists in buckets of sweat) and also keep my heater on a lower temperature setting (thus freezing people).

2) Make things. Sometimes these are gifts for other people.  Sometimes this is toothpaste, cleaning solutions, bone broth, etc.

3) Fix things. I'm not great at fixing a car, but I fix a hem and sew back on a button.

4) Check out things from the library including music cds and dvds.

5) Use an antenna on my television. We went two years using the library and only antenna channels, but now we have netflix so the antenna gets used seldom especially with watching youtube videos. My husband and I have never had cable or satellite and we will have been married 10 years on Friday.

6) Rarely purchase postage. Most everything can be done electronically including paying your bills.

7) Line dry.

8) Purchase used clothing.

9) Purchased used home furnishings.

10) Rarely purchase children....anything. My children seem to attract things. Small toys at the eye doctor's. Crayons from the end of the year at school.  Books from school and even the library.  Even sometimes we get clothes from friends for free.

11) Free (or low cost) outings. The park is free (if it wasn't too hot outside). The library has free events/clubs. And the local autism association will sponsor movie showings and we can get free passes to those.  There are also a number of community events that are free such as firework displays.

12) Free food. In the summer a number of the schools will give children under the age of 18 free breakfast and free lunch.  It doesn't matter your income or if you are even attend or are old enough to attend the school.  My children had free lunch today (and probably will tomorrow).

13) Use freecycle.

14) Repurpose things.

15) Wear stuff out. Nobody needs a new car, a new computer, or a new cell phone everything a new model comes on the market.

16) Take care of what we do have.

17) Free calendars. My parents give those to use every year for Christmas.  And if you are Catholic, they usually come free at New Years to your parish.

18) Play lots and lots of games. Board, video, and physical ones.

19) Eat at home.  We do eat out, but I think it's below the national average of times that people do. Neither one of us are gourmands so this is one we aren't as frugal on.

20) Buy food in season and on sale.

21) Only wash full loads. That said my modern washing machine uses low water based on the amount of clothes you put in.  It has a sensor.  My dishwasher doesn't measure out water.

22) Use rechargeable batteries.  I haven't done a cost comparison based on the amount of energy to charge a rechargeable versus constantly purchasing new batteries.  That said over the years I think we've saved.  I've only had to get rid of some rechargeable recently because they weren't working properly.  And that's the first time...ever.

23) Make do. I recently left behind some stuff at a friend's house.  I'm hoping she'll bring them back, but in the meantime, we're doing without.

24) Use rags. There's been studies that show a kitchen sponge is the dirtiest most bacteria-filled thing in your house so I avoid using them like the plague.  Instead I use a dish rag and deposit it in a bucket which when full goes into the washing machine. 

25) Trade services. I was giving music lessons for free babysitting.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

J.R. Liggett's Shampoo Bar Review

I've been looking for a zero waste, easy to pack, inexpensive, good for my hair, minus all the nasty unnecessary chemicals shampoo.  I had heard about shampoo bars and thought that I would give them a go. 

I did some research and noticed that I could go with a local small business shampoo bar or I could try a more nationally distributed one.  Since it's my first go round with shampoo bars, I decided to go with something that is well known and has had many reviews already.

You can purchase JR Liggett's Shampoo Bar practically anywhere online where health products are sold.  Some local stores may carry it, but the closest store to me requires me to travel across town which seems a bit overkill considering the number of health food stores in my area.  So I decided to go to the source.

JR Liggett's allows you to purchase two bars of shampoo and they will pay for domestic shipping costs.  The bars cost 7.49 USD each. I purchased the bars and began using the original formula in March.

The bars I chose were the original formula bar and jojoba & peppermint bar.  The original formula is for normal hair and the other is for permed or colored or curly hair.  The shampoo bars are vegan and contain no detergents.  They are made by hand in the USA.  The product boasts that you can get the same amount of uses with their shampoo as you do with a 24 ounce bottle of liquid shampoo.

This is the packaging it came in.
Although the bars themselves are wrapped in simple paper, the shipping package had plastic bubble wrap and used clear plastic tape to adhere the label.  I would say that's a zero waste fail.  Perhaps the solution would be to ask JR Liggett's to switch to different type envelope.  There are envelopes made with shredded paper padding.  And to ask that JR Liggett use a paper tape instead.  If I were a true zero waster, I might just return the packaging to them.  I still have it.

This is what the bars look like in comparison to regular soap.  That's a Dr. Bronner's bar of soap.  It's partially used.  The shampoo bars are slightly wider to a regular bar of soap, but slightly shorter.  The color of the shampoo bars is the same as the Dr. Bronner's bars. 

So does it work?

Sort of.

Pros: The original bar still smells awesome.  It contains rose essential oil and even after several months of use I can still smell it.  Dr. Bronner's on the other hand after a few uses seems to loose it's smell.

It does last a long time.  I think that I've gone through little over half the bar, and it's July. So money wise it's totally worth it.

I imagine it's easy to take on the plane because it takes very little in the way of space, and there's no liquid involved as it's a solid bar.

Cons: You have to leave the bar in an area to dry out and out of direct water spray similar to a regular soap bar.  Otherwise you end up figuratively washing money down the drain.

Some complain of a learning curve if switching to a shampoo bar.  Your hair may go through a waxy phase at first.  There's also the oddness of rubbing a bar into your hair.

Sometimes my hair still feels rather oily.  There can be many reasons for this.  I don't wash my hair every day.  It could be that my hair is naturally oily and I should use a different formula designed for that.  I find though that this can easily be remedied if periodically I rub it in, rise, and do a repeat.

My hair does feel very soft otherwise.  And I feel like I don't need a conditioner especially since my hair stays fairly oily.

I may try a different brand of shampoo bar or just use a gentle regular soap bar for my hair in the future.  But I'm making it work for now.

My review was totally my own. I paid for the bars out of my own pocket and nobody asked me for a review but I thought I would give one anyway.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Thinking Small with Healthcare

It's been a long time since I've tackled discussing healthcare other than to say I like having choices.  The government currently is working on dismantling (sort of) what is commonly referred to as ObamaCare and they've made significant changes to Medicaid, which is the healthcare coverage for the indigent.  This has left people upset because of the cuts.  So lets dive in.

1) Healthcare for all.
I've spoken about my desire to have everyone have access to healthcare without the loss of freedom of choice.  I don't think that I need rehash this only to say that I think people are going about this wrong way.

2)Healthcare as a matter for the Federal government? Nope.
This is the part where someone confuses me with a conservative or a libertarian. Conservatives are for small government.  Liberals are for small business.  I'm for both.  So where does that leave me?  Somewhere in the center, a moderate, I suppose. 

What does this have to do with healthcare?  Well, I don't think it's the job of the Federal government to provide all the healthcare options for the poor/working poor.  Please re-read that last line carefully before commenting because someone didn't and got upset with me.

I never said they shouldn't have access.  I said it's poor planning to place ones eggs in ones basket and have the Federal government be the only source and summit of all healthcare for those who cannot procure it financially.  If I enjoy options, why can't the poor as well?

Local communities should be providing more free/reduced healthcare services.  We should be encouraging such clinics.  That's the bottom line.  It's also in line with Catholic teaching which says that the lowest form of community/government should be in charge of such things.  In looking at the history of healthcare in US we have historically tried to go this route while back pedaling into federally regulated healthcare.  This is the reason why Catholic hospitals exist in the US.  Communities took it upon themselves to look after each other.

Someone asked me how this would look. I admit I'm not entirely sure.  The whole system is a weave of grants from different sources of funds currently even within free/reduced healthcare clinics/communities.  The Little Sisters of the Poor themselves both beg for donations and also except Medicare reimbursements for their patients.  At the end of the day, it would certainly change how our government withholds finances from our pay check. 

It would also be nice if we encouraged taking care of our communities.  We've been taught that bigger government is necessary for healthcare, but I don't think that's true.  I think we can at a universal system but on a local level.  It's how federalism is supposed to work.

3) Single Payer? No.
As I said I believe in having more choices and less restrictions.  Single-payer eliminates this.  Canada has suffered with single-payer.  Long wait times for surgery have led people to go lame and blind waiting for hip replacement and cataract surgeries.  It doesn't seem like a great solution.  Not to mention that tax payers will be paying for immoral or objectionable services because it's done by vote without the ability to opt out. 

I think Medical Sharing groups are good.  Purchasing your own healthcare and having several choices in that are good.  It would be similar to purchasing car insurance or life insurance or home insurance.

At any rate, it's something I'm still working out.  Our current healthcare system is so convoluted that it makes understanding how purchasing healthcare or receiving healthcare difficult.  I wish it was as simple as transportation.  Some can purchase a car and also coverage for that car while others who may or may not afford can use ride sharing, taxis, subway, light rail, or public buses to get themselves around.  More choices=better in my opinion.  And thinking in terms of being smaller and more diverse I think will end up being a benefit to our country.  I think thinking larger and less causes more problems.

Monday, June 19, 2017

We are all Sinners

Someone posted a comment on twitter about Catholicism and LGBT, and a person responded with thus:

"As a former Catholic & gay man, I can assure you LGBTQ individuals will not feel welcome in any church that treats them as inherently sinful"

Maybe you see the problem in that statement.  I did give the individual a benefit of doubt and asked if he felt that he was being singled out, but he never responded.  I don't think he's interested in being heard.  I think he's interested in being told that he is right or justified.

The problem if you haven't figured it out is that the Church teaches that all people are inherently sinful and yes, we are treated as being such.  That is why there are the sacraments, particularly the ones of healing, in the first place.  I should clarify that the Church doesn't teach that we are dung heaps that are totally corrupted by sin.  God doesn't make junk so the old saying goes.  But original sin does exist.  So yes we are born without inheriting Adam's original holiness. We are however able to cooperate with God's grace.

I give a lot of credit to my parish priest.  Yesterday during his homily, he talked about showing reverence to Christ in our words, deeds, and in our dress.  I believe that last one was to address the state of dress at our parish.  It's summer; people are often showing a lot of skin.  After he said that several times he also said that he realizes people are not perfect.  He pointed out that included himself and they we were all in need of God's mercy.

And this is how it should always be addressed both to the general population and to the individual.  We are all sinners in need of both correction and mercy.  Unfortunately people do not want to hear the correction part and therefore anger shows up.  Then victim statuses show up.  I'm _________ therefore I'm treated as inherently sinful and shouldn't be.

It's true we should be charitable and show mercy to our fellow sinners.  Therefore nobody who seeks mercy should have it withheld from them.  The Church teaches this in regard to LGBT people.

The difference is in the correction and the acknowledgement for the need of mercy.  Some sinners do not want to be corrected at all.  Regardless if the correction is done privately to the individual or collectively against particular groups of sinners, some do not want to hear it.

I do.

To be specific, I think correction is warranted from a priest, a spiritual adviser, a spouse, a parent, a close friend, and an adult child.  A stranger's correction may or may not be warranted, but I often find that strangers are not in a position to be making fraternal corrections to individuals.  It's best to speak out against specific sins for a general audience if one feels compelled to correct strangers.

Furthermore I would find it a wrong to not say anything at all.  While I may be reluctant to hear a person's correction or may at first find it incorrect, I still believe in hearing a person out.

But seeing as how it's Pride Month, it needs to be said that certain actions are sins and there are people in denial.  I know that many have learned that and have decided to not justify their sins if not turn away from them.  This is the reason why people continue to speak out.  It's not because of hate.  It's because we hope that they will realize the error and ask for God's mercy.  We hope for salvation and mercy for all sinners but one must recognize the need first and why.

And this is my prayer for the gay former Catholic man, that he realizes that he is welcome to receive mercy right after he realizes that he, like everyone, is a sinner.  It's my prayer for anyone who is unrepentant regardless of their sexual orientation.