Sunday, December 31, 2017

Books Read in 2017

With the end of the year just hours away, it's unlikely I'll finish another book this year. So here is the list for 2017:

Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green
Saint Kateri, Lily of the Mohawks by Matthew and Margaret Bunson
Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green
The Thorny Grace Of It by Brian Doyle
Motherless by Brian J. Gail
Strangers in a Strange Land by Archbishop Charles Chaput
The Miracle of Father Kupaun: Priest, Soldier, and Korean War Hero by Roy Wenzl and Travis Heying
Will Wilder: The Lost Staff of Wonders by Raymond Arroyo
The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter
The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Crusader King by Susan Peek
I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Living Wood by Louis de Wohl
Keys to the Hearts of Youth by Father Paul P. Avallone, SDB
The Rain in Portugal: Poems by Billy Collins
The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher
The Man Who Met the King by Gerard Goggins
The Weight of All Things by Sandra Benitez
Theophilos by Michael D. O'Brien
Poetry as Prayer: Saint Francis of Assisi by Father Murray Bodo, OFM
The Quiet Light by Louis de Wohl
Silence by Shusaku Endo
The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember by Fred Rogers

24 books. Many are school related - understandable given that I'm teaching some new curriculums.

Tales of the Greek Heroes; Saint Kateri, Lily of the Mohawks; Tales of Ancient Egypt; The Miracle of Father Kupaun: Priest, Soldier, and Korean War Hero; I, Juan de Pareja; The Bronze Bow;
The Light in the Forest; The Magician's Nephew; and The Weight of All Things all were prompted by school needs.

Keys to the Hearts of Youth  was at the advice of my headmaster.

Other books fit in with my decision to read more religiously-oriented literature. Under this category come Crusader King; Will Wilder: The Lost Staff of Wonders; The Thorny Grace Of It; Motherless; The Living Wood ; The Man Who Met the King; Theophilos; The Quiet Light; and Silence.

Then there are the more spiritually oriented books: The Benedict OptionStrangers in a Strange Land; Poetry as Prayer: Saint Francis of Assisi.

And then for the fun (or pleasure) of reading: The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember and The Rain in Portugal: Poems.

I will continue this pattern in the coming year - with maybe a little more poetry in the mix. I want to add some more Franciscan related works as well. Currently nearing the end of The Divine Comedy, for a start - the final 25 Cantos to go!      

With limiting my time on Facebook and Twitter in the coming year I should have more time to read.

Pax et bonum

And the Resolutions Are ...

It's that time: Resolutions for 2018.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I do need to lose weight for reasons of health (and, to be honest, vanity). My goal for the year is 50 pounds. That will entail changing my diet, and getting more exercise.

I will visit an adoration chapel at least once a week, and I will add reading the Bible each day (in addition to the daily Mass readings).

I will cut down on time spent on Twitter and Facebook. I will also avoid snarky, sarcastic, or unnecessarily critical posts and comments.

 I will search for a new spiritual director.

I will practice guitar more so that I can better play for Mass.

I will try to get to a daily Mass before school at least once a week.

I will get a collection of poems ready for publication in a booklet/book.

Pax et bonum

One resolution I am making

Weighed myself this morning for the first time in a couple of months.

As I feared, I gained weight. Lots of weight.

Christmas feasting, treats (candy, cookies, pies) , eggnog, beer, milkshakes, large servings, before-bed snacks and more have all taken their toll.

I'm about 60 pounds overweight. This is the heaviest I've ever been.

I'm in dad country - about the same weight he was when he had a massive stroke at 65.

I'm 62. I didn't smoke the way he did, or eat a lot of meat, but still, the age and the weight and the family history are concerns.

I'd like to be able to weigh myself December 31, 2018, and have at least 50 of those pounds gone. That's based on a reasonable goal of about a pound a week.

That will mean cutting out the unhealthy foods and portions and getting more exercise.

Initially, I may lose a few extra pounds in the first week - that always seems to happen - so I'll keep that in mind. Therefore, my goal by January 28 is losing 5 pounds.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

I'm a what?

I've been accused of a few things - negatively, of course - because of things I've posted on social media (or supposedly said).

Now, I do post a lot on social media, Facebook and Twitter specifically. I tend to be more political  and snarky/sarcastic on Twitter, but I often post the same/related items on both.

I've been accused of being a Trump supporter (even though I don't belong to his party and didn't vote for him), a homophobe, a Nazi, a hateful angry man, and so on.

So I decided at look at the last few things I've posted on Facebook, or tweeted/retweeted on Twitter.

The last 10 on Facebook:

Blessed Solanus Casey (Catholic Answers)
Catholic Radical Traditionalists (Catholic Answers)
Christmas song (Duck Dynasty)
Christmas song (Duck Dynasty)
A question about a pro-life blog aggregator that may be gone
Humor (Star Wars Lamp)
St. Stephen (Bishop Barron commentary)
Humor (Star Wars Christmas "Toy")
Christmas Message from St. John Bosco Schools' First Graders
Planned Parenthood (Former director criticizes)

Hmm. Maybe not enough of a sample.

10 More from Facebook:

Christmas Greeting (Bishop Barron)
Christmas song (with bagpipes)
Humor (Stanford Nutting Holiday Special)
Merry Christmas Greeting from me
Christmas Song (Innocence Mission)
Humor Song (Chipmunks roasting ...)
David Daleiden Quotation (St. Thomas More Society, pro-life)
LifeNews Criticism of Pro-choice Conservative
Pro-Life Democrat to speak at March for Life
Original Christmas Story (Grumpy Shepherd)

Okay ... Clearly several pro-life-related posts, but lots of Christmas-related or humorous pieces. I don't see a lot of hate so far. Maybe in my comments/responses over the same span?

Happy Birthday greeting
Pointing out that a "new" article was actually three-years-old
Praising It's a Wonderful Life
Response to a CNN host's claim of It's a Wonderful Life being sexist
Liking a family Christmas picture
Posting a Christmas-related Science Fiction poem
A Christmas greeting to a friend
A St. Nicholas clerihew
A critical response to a post about how to be a Christian man
Paolo Uccello clerihew
A response to a book critical of Pope Francis
Humor (mildly satirical) in response to a friend's post
Mildly satirical response to a friend's comment about Hollywood
Condolences for a friend's loss of a pet
A response to an article about the homeless (who need shelter during this season)
Noting that a posted "news article" may not be real
Speculation about possibly trimming my Santa-length beard
Liking another person's poem

A bit more satire - but still I don't see much hate there.

Let's see what's over on Twitter in the same span - Tweets and Replies:

Solanus Casey (Catholic Answers)
Radical Traditionalists (Catholic Answers)
Satirical response to a CNN report (Trump caught golfing)
Humorous response to a Representative's claim that a woman may have been racist
Retweet of a person's positive comment about prayer
"Kennedy" on a Fox show leading me to change the channel
Retweet of a Live Action post about Planned Parenthood
Retweet of praise for a female African pro-life activist
A comment that someone would make a questionable MSNBC host
Question about the apparent suspending of a pro-life article aggregator
Friendly response to someone's comment about the cold temperatures
Posting one of a late-poet's poems
Noting that an article being used to attack group is actually 3-years old
Response to comment about how poor movies are faring this year
LifeNews article related to Planned Parenthood
Comment about diversity in music at church (Silent Night played on guitar)
LifeNews article related to ultrasound images upsetting prochoicers
A Christmas greeting from me
St. Nicholas clerihew
Christmas Song from Innocence Mission
Paolo Uccello clerihew
Cartoon about the song "Mary Did You Know?"
Response to humorous Tweet about giving up coffee
Affirming response to Tweet about overuse of the word "brave"
Retweet of criticism of Cory Booker Tweet
Humorous response to friend's Tweet about a Christmas song pun
Criticism of a Cory Book inappropriate Tweet
Saying I didn't appreciate a Tweet unnecessarily critical of Pope Francis
Satirical response to a NY Times article about inappropriate activity at a company
Bible verse in response to a question about a Papal statement
A comment about reading a full Papal statement to see what he really said
A mildly critical comment about the Vatican nativity scene that did not work
A critical comment about a misguided "impeachment" Tweet
Raising the issue of possibly trimming my Santa-length beard
A response to a Tweet asking if adults use libraries any more (I do)
Retweeting an African woman's critical response to Father Martin's comment about Africans and homosexuality
Retweeting a positive story about Cardinal Burke responding to a homosexual priest
LifeNews article critical of the pro-choice position of a conservative commentator
Pro-life Democrat to speak at March for Life
The Grumpy Shepherd (original Christmas story)

So ... definitely pro-life - maybe pro-choicers consider that "hate." Sometimes satirical, maybe even mildly sarcastic, and a bit of a stickler. But I don't see racism, Nazism, homophobia, hate, etc. Not a lot there about Trump, either.

Of course, this is just a few days' worth, and it is during the Christmas season. But I don't see the evidence.

I remember someone saying to a friend after actually listening to me that I seem to have mellowed. The friend pointed out that I hadn't changed at all. My spin is that perhaps the person was actually listening to me for the first time rather than basing her judgment of me on what others claim about me, or on her own preconceptions of what I think, say, and do.

Meanwhile, what I draw from this little exercise is that perhaps I spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter!

Pax et bonum

A Blessed Model of Humility | Catholic Answers

Comments about Blessed Solanus Casey.

A Blessed Model of Humility | Catholic Answers

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Uccello clerihew

Paolo Uccello
was a cautious fellow.
Asked his opinion, the answer he'd always give,
is, "It's all a matter of perspective."
(FYI - He was an Italian artist noted for his study and use of perspective in his art.)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Getting to be resolution time ...

Every year many people make resolutions, including me.

To lose weight. To exercise more. To spend more time with family or friends. To quit some bad habit like smoking or drinking. And so on.

Mine have overlapped - like losing weight. But I've also had some about praying more and doing more spiritual reading.

Some have worked. I have begun to read more spiritual works. I have added some prayers.

I haven't lost the weight, though!

I'm mulling some of those again for the coming year.

I do need to lose about 50 pounds.

I need to add even more spiritual reading. I have been reading more spiritual fiction and non-fiction, and I now do the daily readings, but I'd like to add more Bible reading.

I do pray every day, but not enough. One thing I'd like to add is a weekly visit to the adoration chapel. I'd actually talked about this with my former spiritual director (he had to stop due to illness).

I need to find a new spiritual director.

I need to practice guitar more so that I can better play for Mass.

A morning Mass is available near my school that I can get to and still be in my homeroom in plenty of time before students arrive. I'd like to add at least one morning Mass each week.

I'd like to spend less time on social media, and to be less snarky.

One area where I really need to step up my game is for my Franciscan fraternity. I need to do more to help the fraternity to grow, and to help sustain it. Elections are coming up this year, and I plan to say if I'm wanted I'll let my name get placed in nomination (I'm currently on the Council). One thing I have done is compiled a list of birthdays of fraternity members, and I'll start sending them cards to help promote a sense of welcoming and family. I also need to read more Franciscan documents, and to take advantage to workshops and training. Not sure what else to do yet.

Still mulling resolutions - have a week to settle on what ones.

Which means it was all right for me to have that donut I just ate, right? (wink)

I think I'll shower now, and head off to the perpetual adoration chapel at my church.

Pax et bonum

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Grumpy Shepherd: A Christmas Tale

      A long time ago in the little town of Bethlehem, there lived a shepherd named Benjamin.

     Benjamin lived in a pretty house on the edge of Bethlehem. But he was rarely at home. He spent most of his time alone in the hills taking care of his flock of sheep.

     That was fine with Benjamin. For you see,  he didn’t trust anyone.

     When he went to the market, he always counted his change two or three times to make sure the merchants hadn’t cheated him.

      When he was with his flock, he always hired a watchman to watch his house. Then he hired a watchman to watch the other watchman.

       And when the shepherds around Bethlehem gathered in the hills to talk and tell jokes and sing songs, Benjamin never joined them. He was afraid some of the other shepherds might try to steal his sheep.

      Most of all, Benjamin didn’t trust children. He thought they were always trying to sneak into his yard to steal fruit from his trees. Whenever he saw children come close to his yard, he’d shake his fist and yell, “Go away. Stay away from my trees!”

     So it was easy to understand why everyone in Bethlehem called him Benjamin, the grumpy shepherd.

     Now while Benjamin may have seemed completely cold and hard-hearted, he really wasn’t. There were two things in the world that he loved very dearly.

     First, he loved  his fruit trees.

     His father had planted them when Benjamin was a small boy. Together, they had tended and watered the trees. They had watched with pride as the trees grew tall and full of sweet figs, dates, and apples. When Benjamin’s father went into the hills to tend his flock, he always left the trees in Benjamin’s care. And when Benjamin grew old enough to help with the flock, he and his father would bring fruit from the trees to eat. Even now, long after his father was dead and the flock had become his, Benjamin still brought cakes made of dates and figs to eat while watching his sheep. As he would eat, he would remember his father. Then the fruit would taste even sweeter.

     But as much as he loved his trees, Benjamin loved his sheep even more.

     He would do anything for his sheep. He always searched out the freshest grass for them. He only took them to pastures where there were no cliffs or holes for them to fall into. He would stay awake all night to make sure they were safe from wild animals and thieves. If one of his sheep fell sick, he would stay with it, keeping it warm and comfortable.

      Benjamin knew so much about the care of sheep that the other shepherds would come to ask his advice – even if he was grumpy when he gave it.

      Now Benjamin lived at a time when a strange star appeared in the sky above Bethlehem. It glowed brighter and brighter every night.

     One night when the star seemed to burn as bright as the sun, the other shepherds came over to where Benjamin was watching his sheep.

     “Benjamin,” one of them said, “have you ever seen a star like this?”

     “No,” Benjamin replied, looking up at the sky. “In all my life I’ve never seen such a star.”

     Another shepherd pointed to the valley below.

     “It seems to be shining down on that stable,” the shepherd said. “Maybe we should go down to see what is there.”

     “No,” Benjamin said quickly.  “If we leave our sheep wild animals or thieves may come.”

     The other shepherds nodded their heads.

      At that moment, a stranger stood among them. The shepherds fell down and covered themselves. They knew in their hearts he was no ordinary man. He was an angel.

       “Fear not,” the angel said gently,  “for I have come to give you great news. On this day the Messiah, the savior, is born right here in the city of David. And this shall be a sign to you. You will find him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

      Suddenly, the air filled with angels. They began to sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.”

      And just as suddenly as they’d come, the angels were gone.

     Benjamin stood up.

     “Come,” he said, “let us see the Messiah.”

     The other shepherds followed Benjamin down the hill to the stable. When they came to the entrance, they had to stoop low to get in. Inside, the stable was full of animals, all standing quietly. In the center of the room were a man and a woman, and in front of them, a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger.

      Benjamin looked at the woman. Never had he seen a face so calm, so beautiful.

      Then he looked at the baby, and the baby looked at him. He felt as if the baby was looking right at his heart. He felt all the distrust and hardness around his heart melt way.

       Benjamin fell to his knees. The other shepherds joined him.

       In his heart, Benjamin heard the song of the angels again. Glory to God in the highest. Peace to his people on earth.

       Benjamin did not know how long he knelt. But after a time, he suddenly remembered where he was. He stood up and smiled at the man and the woman.

       “Thank you for letting us be here,” he said to them.

       He looked around the stable. He could see that they had only just arrived. Their bundles were still tied. And he saw no food.

       Benjamin reached into his pouch and took out the bread and the fig cakes he had brought for his own meal. He held them out to the man.

       “This will hold you until the morning,” Benjamin said. “Until you can go to the market.”

       The man thanked him, and Benjamin looked at the woman. She smiled.

       Then he looked at the baby. The song started in Benjamin’s heart again.

       The shepherds left the stable and hurried back to their flocks.

       Benjamin spent the rest of the night on the hill above the stable, keeping an eye on it and on his beloved sheep. All the while, the song filled his heart.

       From that day forward, Benjamin was a changed man. He no longer mistrusted others. He would gather with the other shepherds and laugh and sing louder than anyone else.

       And when he was home, he would invite the children over. They would play games and sing songs. And Benjamin always shared with them fresh fruit from his trees.

       Soon, everyone in Bethlehem loved Benjamin. They even had a new name for him.

       He was Benjamin, the good shepherd.

Pax et bonum

Prayer for Secular Franciscan Order Vocations

National Prayer for Vocations to the Secular Franciscan Order
O good and gracious God, God of mercy, compassion, generosity, and love, as we live our lives today in the model of St. Francis, choosing daily to live the Gospel life, help us to help others hear your call.
Help us to help others recognize their vocation as a Secular Franciscan that You have already planted in their heart.

Help us, so that together we all may work to bring the Gospel to life. Amen!

(Composed by Marian R. Crosby, OFS, at the 2010 NAFRA Chapter, Scottsdale, AZ)

Pax et bonum

From Pope Francis's Christmas Address to the Curia

I began our meeting by speaking of Christmas as the Feast of Faith. I would like to conclude, though, by pointing out that Christmas reminds us that a faith that does not trouble us is a troubled faith. A faith that does not make us grow is a faith that needs to grow. A faith that does not raise questions is a faith that has to be questioned. A faith that does not rouse us is a faith that needs to be roused. A faith that does not shake us is a faith that needs to be shaken. Indeed, a faith which is only intellectual or lukewarm is only a notion of faith. It can become real once it touches our heart, our soul, our spirit and our whole being. Once it allows God to be born and reborn in the manger of our heart. Once we let the star of Bethlehem guide us to the place where the Son of God lies, not among Kings and riches, but among the poor and humble.

- From Pope Francis's 2017 Christmas Address to the Curia.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, December 21, 2017

St. Francis's Christmas Gift (with and assist from God!)

With ox and ass and manger and hay
St. Francis recalled that holy day.
But before that Greccio scene was done
The Father again provided his Son.

Pax et bonum

Show of Hands "Roots" -- We need roots!

A tribute to the cultural roots we need to celebrate, cherish, and preserve.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Love will end abortion

Some 70-80 of us gathered in the snow and cold to pray for an end to abortion as part of the Love Will End Abortion rally December 16.

We lined both sides of the street outside the main Planned Parenthood in Rochester, N.Y. 

We sang and prayed and listened to a variety of speakers.

People were fired up and inspired.

Love will indeed end abortion!

Pax et bonum

Merry Christmas 2017 - John Michael Talbot

Pax et bonum

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ho! Ho! Ho!

At the parish Breakfast with Santa 2017!

Pax et bonum

Christmas overindulgence is a symptom

I remember Christmas specials when I was a child. As a family we'd gather in front of the television with popcorn, Christmas cookies, and so on to watch Charlie Brown, the Grinch, Rudolph, Mr. Magoo's version of A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, the variety shows of Bing Crosby and Andy Williams and others.

Those show were broadcast only once during the Christmas season, so we'd look forward to them, plan our schedules around them, and savor them as we watched.

They were indeed "special."

But with the arrival and spread of cable and multiple networks, the old favorites began being shown again and again and again. Now, some are even shown in 24-hour marathons. 

Sadly, those specials have become not-so-special. Indeed, they have become so familiar they've become, well, boring.

As a fan of Christmas, I lament what has happened. But even more, I see it as symptomatic of what has become common in our culture.

We have so many things that used to be special and precious that are now banal and almost meaningless due to overindulgence. I remember, for example, when a trip to a drive-in/fast food diner for fish and fries or a burger and fries was an event. Now some people go to those places on a daily basis - to the detriment of their budgets and their waistlines.

We have to keep pushing for more and more as we try to satisfy a longing for something that is special and meaningful - and we grow more and more dissatisfied. This is true of movies and television shows and food, and, sadly, of relationships.

It would be nice if those special things were special again, instead of just more of the same.

Pax et bonum

Monday, December 4, 2017

More Clerihews in Gilbert

I just got the latest Gilbert and was pleased to see six of my clerihews in it:

G. K. Chesterton
would sometimes sit in the sun.
His wife appreciated the cool glade
his shadow made.
There was a side of J.R.R. Tolkien
that was seldom seen.
When he was by himself
he'd sometimes dress as an elf.
gave most Trojan foes the willies.
But Paris said, "He's no big deal.
I just told him to heel."

Irascible St. Jerome
was justly noted for his biblical tome,
but he was upset that no one would look
at his vegetarian cook book.
After that day in Moriah, young Isaac
developed many a nervous tic,
and was tempted to run for his life
whenever Abraham picked up a knife. 
Napoleon Bonaparte 
waited at the Tour de France's start.
He planned to throw a stale baguette
at the Duke of Wellington's bicyclette

Pax et bonum

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

Elf on the Shelf - Bah, Humbug!

As a professional Santa, and as a believer in the true Christmas message, I am not a fan of Elf on the Shelf.

The story and the doll seem like a marketing ploy. Yes, I know there are a lot of marketing ploys surrounding the secular celebration of Christmas. If it was only that with the elf, I'd just sigh and move on.

But the spying aspect really bugs me. The elf is being used to frighten, to intimidate the children.

Santa is used that way, too - "If you're not good, Santa won't bring you any presents," or "If you are bad Santa will give you coal." When I hear parents say that it makes my skin crawl. And when they say something like, "If you don't take a picture with Santa, he won't bring you gifts," I get really irked. I hold my tongue, but I want to say to such parents, "You've just put yourself on the naughty list."

But there's just something insidious about making kids believe they are constantly being spied on - and these spies report to Santa.

Spymaster Claus???

Santa is not the CIA!

Are we training the children to accept the government and others watching them constantly? Hmmm.

As for it being a "tradition," come on. It's a manufactured "tradition" that's just a little over a decade old. That's not a tradition. It's just marketing. Yes, being a professional Santa involves marketing - and when I was a mall Santa I was helping to sell photos (I now do Santa gigs for hire, for free, and for non-commercial purposes). But this just seems to go too far.

Bah!. Humbug!

Pax et bonum

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Birdmen from space and Thanksgiving Day

birdmen from space
land in peace, then declare war -
Thanksgiving Day

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mall Santa Blues

I admit it.

I have a bit of a temper - especially when I feel used or mistreated, and when there's time for what I'm upset about to fester.

It just usually doesn't happen with my gig as a mall Santa. (Mind you, I've been doing this for more than a decade.)

This year's problems began as we approached the season. I had signed my contract long ago. I was waiting to hear from the manager to set schedules and to get into the changing room to make sure the costumes were set.

I waited and waited through October and into November, but no word.

Finally, I came home to find a message from the regional manager on our answering machine. I called him back immediately, and he said he was going into a mall and would call me back in half an hour.

I waited.

No call.

I waited to see if he would call the next day.


A weekend intervened. Then I had other activities keeping me busy or getting home late.

Finally, after a week, I called him again.

He said the local manager would call me the next day to set schedules.

Of course, I got no call.

I was so ticked I was weighing calling yet again, or just saying forget it for this season.

Finally, two days before we opened, the regional manager called to ask about my availability. He mailed me a schedule for the three Santas working at our mall later on - with no one assigned to open on Wednesdays.

But the hours on the schedule differed from the ones we had discussed. I e-mailed him back immediately to get a clarification.

He never responded.

Finally, I went on the mall website to check the hours they listed. This resolved my question - but I also discovered that my first shift included a pet night that would keep me two hours beyond my scheduled time. No one had told me about having a pet night, and if I hadn't looked on the mall site I wouldn't have found out until I showed up for my shift.

I worked that long shift - 9 hours - then came back on Tuesday night for my evening shift. That was fine, but when I got home there was a panicked message on our answering machine from the local  manager asking if there was any chance I could do the opening shift the next morning as no one had been scheduled. I called back to say I would do it to help out, and she said she had managed to get one Santa who was dealing with health issues and who had to drive a long way. I said given his situation I would do it.

I showed up to open - which was scheduled at 11 - and one of the security guards made a comment that I was late. I wasn't - I still had a half hour to go, plenty of time to get suited up, so I was puzzled. I later learned that the supervisor the night before had put up a sign saying that Santa would be there at 10, and that some people had complained when there was no Santa there at 10.

Once my shift started, the local manager admitted that she did not know the schedules of the Santas as the regional manager had not sent them to her and was not responding to her requests.

At that point I asked if and when we would be doing Santa Cares, a program for special needs children that we had run before outside regular hours (my concern was as a church musician there was one Sunday I was absolutely not available). She informed me that it was this Sunday - when I was the only scheduled Santa - and that it was running from 8-10 a.m. I pointed out that my shift begins at 11, and that the program normally runs the two hours before that time - 9-11. I asked what I was supposed to do between 10 and 11 as the mall would not be open (plus, that would mean I'd be there from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.). She tried to contact the regional manager - no luck. I pointed out that if I hadn't asked I would have planned on showing up at my scheduled time, and that if they tried calling me in a panic when I didn't show on Sunday at 8 I would have been at church.

As I was leaving after my shift, I asked her if she'd gotten a clarification about the time, and she said that she had not , but when the regional manager got back to her she would have him call me.

I'm not holding my breath.

Meanwhile, I went on the mall website when I got home. Sure enough, they are publicly promoting Santa Cares as running from 8 - 10, so I suspect that's when it will be.

I'm irate right now. I'm tempted to say I will do the Santa Cares, as I would not want to disappoint those children and their families, but that they should find another Santa to take my place after that as I was quitting. I certainly have opportunities to play Santa for organizations and private events - I've had to turn some down because of my mall shifts.

Good thing I have a day or two to calm down.

Pax et bonum

Sweet and Sour Lentils

Being a vegetarian, I don't eat turkey at Thanksgiving. One of the foods I substitute is Sweet and Sour Lentils - something that has become a Thanksgiving tradition in our family.

2 cups of water
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
1 cup washed lentils
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons cider or pineapple juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
3 tablespoons vinegar

Bring water to a boil, add salt, bay leaf and lentils. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Stir and mix well. Cook until lentils are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Pax et bonum

Monday, November 20, 2017

Prayer for the Canonization of Blessed Solanus Casey

Canonization Prayer
O God, I adore You. I give myself to You.
May I be the person You want me to be,
and May Your will be done in my life today.
I thank You for the gifts You gave Father Solanus.
If it is Your Will, bless us with the Canonization of
Father Solanus so that others may imitate
and carry on his love for all the poor and
suffering of our world.
As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans,
I ask You, according to Your Will,
to hear my prayer for… (your intention)
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“Blessed be God in all His Designs.”

The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit
May 2017

Pax et bonum

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Santa season begins! (A Mall Santa's Prayer)

A Mall Santa's Prayer

As I hold each precious child
let me treat each one
with the love and care I'd show
Your most holy Son.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Blessed Solanus Casey

now Solanus
Casey, holy doorman,
may you inspire us always to
give thanks.


Blessed Solanus Casey was officially beatified today. Alleluia

Pax et bonum

Appaloosa 2016 - Hillbilly Thomists - Wild Mountain Thyme

Pax et bonum

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Many Miracles of Solanus Casey

He is the patron I took when I professed as a Franciscan in 2011.

The Many Miracles of Solanus Casey: Many people have begged Fr. Solanus Casey for healing, during his life and after. Learn about the miracles that have led to his beatification.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Thorny Grace of it - Brian Doyle

I just finished The Thorny Grace of It by Brian Doyle, and really enjoyed it.

Doyle, who sadly died earlier this year after a battle with cancer, was a gifted essayist, and this collection of essays about being Catholic was not only well-written, but also rang true. He was devout, a committed Catholic, but was willing to address the reality of living out his faith, warts and all. He did so in a positive way, finding the light in even the darkest moments.

I want to find more of his work. I'm sorry that he died so young (60).

If you like short essays and a look at being a Catholic husband, father, and writer today, I recommend it.

Pax et bonum

Franciscan Quotation

I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him. - St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Pax et bonum

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Franciscan quotation

Beauty awakens the soul to act.

- Dante Alighieri

Pax et bonum

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ho Ho Ho

The season is almost upon us!

Pax et bonum

Amish Romance

Pass by the bookshelves in supermarkets - or the "Christian" shelves in bookstores - and you will notice a lot of Amish looking women on the covers.

I've been noticing these books proliferating in recent years. I read only one - a suggestion from a very religious student - but I have occasionally skimmed through some I've picked off shelves.

Some things are consistent about them:

They are clean. They avoid foul language and descriptions of sexual activity.

They are not graphically violent. People seek peaceful, respectful solutions to problems.

The characters are chaste. They avoid sex before marriage. They do not cohabit. They remain faithful to their spouses.

There's no confusion about gender or gender roles. Men are men, women are women, and they show respect for each other.

Family is important. The couples - married - work together to provide for their children and support each other. They have children if they are capable of doing so. They welcome them. They don't keep putting them off until they have all the "things" they want first.

Divorce, when it does come up, is viewed in a negative light and not as an easy out rather than dealing with problems.

The characters are religious in positive ways. Their faith nurtures and sustains them. While they live in the world, they are not controlled by the often selfish, self-centered values of that society.

Those are general observations. There may be some books that stray away from those traits - after all, I have not read a significant number of them - but I suspect they don't stray too far.

I've been thinking about why they have become so popular, especially among women.

Could it be that those women at some level recognize that they've been sold a bill of goods by our consumerist, self-centered, oversexed culture? Could it be that these women are longing for a more stable world where they are treated with respect and dignity? Could it be these women dream of dating and romance being about life-long love and not immediate-gratification lust? Could it be these women sense that a life focused on marriage and family and children are normal, natural, and good for you?

The thing is, such a reality is available for them. They can choose to live that way. There are such men out there. I see so many Christian enclaves developing where men and women work together to live out their faith. I teach at a school that was created by such people who wanted to provide a solid Catholic environment and education.

Here's hoping that the readers of these books don't settle for just fantasizing about such things while reading these novels.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Franciscan quotation

I shall never rest until I am hidden and enclosed in that divine heart wherein all created forms are lost, and, so lost, remain thereafter all divine; nothing else can satisfy true, pure, and simple love. - St. Catherine of Genoa

Pax et bonum

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Franciscan quotation

I believe no happiness can be found worthy to be compared with that of a soul in Purgatory except that of the saints in Paradise; and day by day this happiness grows as God flows into these souls, more and more as the hindrance to His entrance is consumed. - St. Catherine of Genoa

Pax et bonum

Abortion Increases Risk of Women’s Mental Health Problems (report)

More evidence, but it will likely be ignored by progressives and the main stream media.

New Report: Abortion Increases Risk of Women’s Mental Health Problems: The abortion industry and its medical and media allies constantly repeat the refrain that abortion is safer than childbirth and that it is an overall health ...

Pax et bonum

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Franciscan quotation (St. Charles Borromeo)

"Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head."
- St. Charles Borromeo

Pax et bonum

Friday, November 3, 2017

So ... Hillary allegedly stole the Democratic nomination?

The latest accusations are that the Clinton campaign basically hijacked and rigged the Democratic nomination process, which, if true, means she essentially stabbed Bernie Sanders in the back. Looks as if Donna Brazille's new book is going to top the best seller lists - if the NY Times and others bother to list it.

Now I'm not a Democrat, but if I were, I probably would have voted in the primaries for Bernie. Not because I agreed with him on all issues, but because I did not trust Hillary. These new accusations basically confirmed that I would have made the right choice.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Franciscan quotation (Divine Comedy)

“Consider your origin. You were not formed to live like brutes but to follow virtue and knowledge.”

- Dante (Secular Franciscan) The Divine Comedy.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Franciscan quotation

As in heaven Your will is punctually performed, so may it be done on earth by all creatures, particularly in me and by me.
- Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
Pax et bonum

The Divine Praises (and inappropriate language)

Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.
Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints. Amen.

The Divine Praises have been a part of my prayer life for a while now.

Often associated with Benediction services - I do say it then - I've made recitation of it as a part of my morning prayers each day, and as a prayer that I recite at Mass after Communion (along with the St. Michael Prayer and the Hail Mary).

Apparently it was originally composed in the 18th Century as a way to make reparation for profane or blasphemous language. I did not know that, but given my ongoing fight against the use of foul and  offensive language, it makes my use of the prayer even more appropriate.

And now knowing this, maybe I should recite it whenever I'm tempted - or give in - to using insulting or sarcastic language. After all, when I speak unkindly of or toward others I am insulting Our Lord as well.

I recommend daily recitation of this prayer - and especially when moved to be less guarded in what we say.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Franciscan quotation

Any old woman can love God better than a doctor of theology can. - St. Bonaventure

Pax et bonum

Federal Heartbeat Bill: Ban Abortion Once Heartbeat Is Detected

This would be wonderful!

Federal Heartbeat Bill would ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected

Pax et bonum

40 Days for Life - one early Saturday morning

I was outside Planned Parenthood shortly after 7 a.m. this morning holding up my 40 Days for Life sign ("Pray For An End To Abortion") saying a rosary when a driver pulled up to me.

Not know what to expect I said good morning through his open window.

He greeted me back, and said that abortion is wrong (phew), but it won't change until the government does.

I agreed that the government has to change, but noted that the current administration is cutting back on Planned Parenthood /abortion funding, and we have a chance to change the Supreme Court.

He thought it was good to cut their funding, then repeated the government has to do something.

I said that I thought Planned Parenthood is getting scared they will lose funding and that the laws will change, and that I'm more optimistic.

He said that's good, then drove off.

Several other people drove or walked by and gave a thumbs up or waved. Only one person gave me the finger.

A woman walked behind me. I said, "Good morning." She responded in kind, then asked what my sign said. She walked in front of me, read it, and commented that it would be good if we could get rid of abortion. We chatted for a moment, then she wished me well and turned to leave. I said "God bless." She nodded, then continued down the street.

As staff arrived at the clinic I turned my sign toward them. I kept smiling - and hoping that their hearts will be touched. I prayed for them.

I'm optimistic.

I sense things are slowly changing.

Pax et bonum

Nani Chineke (ft. Fr. Tansi Ibisi, CFR)

Lovely - and inspiring.

Pax et bonum

Friday, October 27, 2017

Franciscan quotation

Men do not fear a powerful hostile army as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary. - St. Bonaventure

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Franciscan quotation

"You cannot please both God and the world at the same time, They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions." - Saint John Vianney

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Franciscan quotation

Those who are called to the table of the Lord must glow with the brightness. - St. John of Capistrano

Pax et bonum

Monday, October 23, 2017

Our God Is Good

Rock of Faith - my group - will be leading the congregation in this hymn November 12. 

Pax et bonum

Franciscan quotation

You have the Testaments, both old and new,
and the shepherd of the church to be your guide;
and this is all you need to lead you true.

- Dante, The Paradiso, Canto V (John Ciardi translation)

Pax et bonum

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Crisis Pregnancy Centers Deserve Support

One of the ways to counter abortion - and the frequent charge that pro-lifers only care about the unborn children - is by highlighting and promoting the many health centers and crisis pregnancy centers

There are so many people doing good work, promoting life, supporting women and children, even in the face of violence and threats.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Planned Parenthood, "Pro-Woman" When It Supports Sex-Selection Abortion?

It's about profits, not women or real health care.

How Can Planned Parenthood be Pro-Woman When It Supports Sex-Selection Abortions?: Planned Parenthood wants you to think it is the champion of women. But if it achieves its goals, there may not be very many women left to champion. Last year

Pax et bonum

Blogs are dead?

I keep seeing people comment that blogs are dead. Indeed, other forms of social media seem to have supplanted them.

But then I see people still posting. Some combine them with other media - links to Twitter or Facebook, for example.

Blogs still provide an outlet for sharing thoughts and creativity and spirituality.

I will keep blogging

Blog's not dead.

Pax et bonum

Friday, October 20, 2017

Suspicious Package Left Near Pro-Lifers Praying Outside Abortion Clinic to Scare Them Off

I wonder if a pro-choicer will face arrest?

Suspicious Package Left Near Pro-Lifers Praying Outside Abortion Clinic to Scare Them Off: A suspicious package was found near a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil Friday in Dallas, Texas, prompting pro-life advocates to call the police and the bomb squad.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Franciscan quotation

“Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head.” - St. Charles Borromeo

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Catholic Bishop: You Can’t be Catholic and Support Abortion

I've been saying this - as have a number of bishop and theologians.

Catholic Bishop: You Can’t be Catholic and Support Abortion: From our Catholic readers around the world, but especially in the United States, one of the biggest complaints we often hear is that fellow Catholics do not follow ...

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Franciscan quotation

“If a tiny spark of God’s love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out… Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter… Do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself.” - St. Charles Borromeo

Pax et bonum

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Franciscan quotation

Be a Catholic: When you kneel before an altar, do it in such a way that others may be able to recognize that you know before whom you kneel. - St. Maximilian Kolbe

Pax et bonum

My Heart Beats Too (Pro-life)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Independent Christian Films and Outsider Art

I've been somewhat critical of independent Christian films like War Room and Facing the Giants and God's Not Dead. I don't hate them - I even like many of them - but they often have poor production values, weak plots and character development, and uneven acting; they allow message to overwhelm good storytelling.

But, as I said, I still like many of them. Given the moral dreck Hollywood tends to put out - even when it tries to make religious/faith-based films (Gods and Kings, the misguided remake of Ben-Hur, and so on) - I'd pick the flawed but well-meaning films. And there are even some good ones lately - like Risen.

Then it dawned on me - many of these movies are akin to outsider art (also called self-taught art, folk art, or na├»ve art).

These self-taught outsider artists have something to say. Some have mental illness or various mental disabilities, and art is a way they try to express their thoughts and feelings. Some are perfectly normal people who just seek ways to give vent to their artistic sides though they are not formally trained - think of Grandma Moses.

Some of these independent Christian films have a lot in common with outsider art. Good people are trying to communicate with the world though they lack polished film-making skills - or lack the money to make better movies. But their flaws are sometimes part of their charm.

They are not alone in this. There have been "outsider" film makers since the dawn of movie-making. Some even become cult figures like Ed Wood (about whom a funny tribute film was made starring Johnny Depp as the cross-dressing Orson Wells fan!).

And as these Christian film-makers keep making films, some of them are getting better.

I'd still prefer quality films with religious themes - and there have been many (The Song of Bernadette, The Mission, Babette's Feast, and so on). But I'll still buy tickets for the outsider films and appreciate them for what they convey, just as I sometimes enjoy outsider art.

Maybe some day one of the Christian directors will even get to declare, "Perfect."

Pax et bonum

Christ Have Mercy - The Thirsting

Not my style of music normally, but powerful message.

Pax et bonum

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Mary's last apparition at Fatima, we are watching The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima.

Although it's a little "Hollywoodized" (The  Gilbert Roland character, for example), it is still sincere and respectful in away that so many more modern Hollywood "religious" movies are not.

Yes, there are the earnest independent Christian films, but the preach dominates and they lack the qualities of good movie storytelling.

This 1952 movie holds up well. The plot is well crafted, the acting and dialogue are fine, the characters are believable. And it successfully conveys a message of faith.

(We also own and like the more recent - and "artsy" - The 13th Day, but were in the mood for the older film.)

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Paradiso (Dante)

After my detour with contemporary Catholic fiction (Motherless), I've returned to more nourishing spiritual and literary fare - Dante's Paradiso. I'd already read the Inferno and Purgatorio, so it's time to finish.

After that? Hmm. Maybe something by Joseph Pearce.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Franciscan quotation

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” - Pope St. John XXIII

Pax et bonum

Monday, October 9, 2017

Franciscan quotation (Columbus)

No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service. - Christopher Columbus

Pax et bonum

Pretty dog at pet blessing

Ignore the fat guy - great looking dog!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Franciscan quotation

More and more, Francis harbored within himself a profound instinct that the saving plan of God, as revealed by the child-Savior born in Bethlehem, was to touch every part of the created world. - Father Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

Pax et bonum

Focus on the Good, the True, the Beautiful

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - PHIL 4: 8

God has created an incredible universe, and has blessed our lives in so many way. Yes, pain and sorrow exist, but we have a choice what we focus on and how we deal with it.

I remember the mother of a high school friend. She was dealing with illness - I'm not sure of the nature of it, but she was bed-ridden much of the time, and they even set up her bed in a first floor room that I think used to be an enclosed porch with windows on three sides so she did not have to go up and down stairs, and so she could be with her family and friends.

She never complained about her illness. She always seems to have a smile and a positive, encouraging word. We teens used to go to visit her, to pour out our latest woes, to listen to her funny and uplifting stories, or simply to sit with her. She made us feel better.

And then there's St. Francis. He could have railed against the corruption in the Church or in his society. Instead, he sang praises to God for the sun the moon, the wind, and even Sister Death.

Francis did not ignore what was wrong. But rather than just criticizing and entertaining others with sarcasm and clever put downs, he went lovingly among the outcasts and lepers to take care of them and give them comfort. And he choose not to feed his mind and soul with what was sinful and dark and which could tempt him.

So, we too need to focus on the Good, the Beautiful, the True. I know I need to question what television shows and movies I watch, the music I listen to, the materials I read. I need to keep asking myself if God came right now, would He be happy with what I choosing to spend my time with?

Instead, I need to turn to things that are nourishing for my soul and mind, and that won't open the doors of temptation and of distorted thinking and morality. And in my writing, even when I do decry what is wrong in the world, I need to ask myself, "Is what I am saying for the greater Glory of God"?

Yes, there is room for - even a need for - John the Baptists crying out in the wilderness, but that must be done with love. The goal is not simply to tear down, but rather, to point to salvation.  

And even when we do speak out, we must never be blind to the many gifts with which God has blessed us, and to let praise ever be in our hearts and on our lips.
The Canticle of the Creatures
By St. Francis of Assisi

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Son, who is the day and through whom You give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You,
Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Franciscan quotation (a prayer of St. Francis)

May the Lord bless you.
May the Lord keep you.
May He show His face to you and have mercy. May He turn to you His countenance and give you peace.
The Lord bless you.

-- St. Francis

Pax et bonum

Friday, October 6, 2017

Franciscan quotation ( a prayer of St. Francis)

Prayer before the San Damiano Crucifix

Most High, glorious God enlighten the darkness of my heart. Give me true faith, certain hope and perfect charity, sense and knowledge that I may carry out Your Holy and true command.  

- Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi to discern God’s will

Pax et bonum

Senate Introduces Pro-Life Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks

This bill is not perfect - it still permits the execution of children conceived in rape, even though they are not at fault - but it is a step in the right direction.

Senate Introduces Pro-Life Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks After House Passage: Now that the House has passed a pro-life bill that bans abortions from after 20-weeks of pregnancy up to the day of birth, the Senate plans to follow suit. ...

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Franciscan quotation

In the hour of farewell, or, better, of leave-taking, I repeat once more that what matters most in this life is: our blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, and in the Gospel above all else the Our Father according to the mind and heart of Jesus, and the truth and goodness of his Gospel, goodness which must be meek and kind, hardworking and patient, unconquerable and victorious. - Pope St. John XXIII

Pax et bonum

Brother Sun And Sister Moon (St. Francis)

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Franciscan quotation

If there be a true way that leads to the Everlasting Kingdom, it is most certainly that of suffering, patiently endured.  - Saint Colette of Corbie

Pax et bonum

House Passes Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks

This is a welcome vote - but now it must make it through the Senate. I am less optimistic about passage there due to some Republicans who are coopted.

House Passes Pro-Life Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks: The House of Representatives today approved a pro-life bill that bans abortions from after 20-weeks of pregnancy up to the day of birth.

Pax et bonum

"Motherless" - well-meaning, but ...

I'm reading Brian Gail's Motherless, the middle book of his trilogy (Fatherless, Motherless, Childless).

I'm at the point where I'm reading to finish it because I started it, not because I have a driving desire to find out what happens.

The book has it's merits, and it is addressing important moral issues, but like too many "Christian" movies, those issues are front and center instead of good storytelling.

There are some interesting characters, but too many of them run together and too many plot situations are strained to make the moral points.

Moral issues - faith struggles - can be dealt with in good fiction - Dostoyevsky, Graham Greene, and Michael O'Brien come to mind.

I wanted to like this book.

I will finish the it, but I don't know if I will go on to Childless.

Pax et bonum