Catholic Inklings

Musings and sharings on my devotion to an ancient religion.

Pastoral Minister. Fan. Writer. Ninja.

Twenty years of pastoral experience plus more than forty years of fandom equals a faith/fun mashup. Join me as we journey through a life of faith while engaging the things of this, and the other worlds that we love.

Another Batman vs Superman

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I had a quick exchange with a friend last night that got me thinking about the different types of superheroes—they boy scout type like Superman and Captain America vs the ones who are teetering on the edge of justice like Batman and Wolverine. I have a sincere appreciation for the good, good guys. I need models of purity of heart—they offer me hope that people can truly offer themselves for the service of others with pure, unselfish motives. I love that; I’m attracted to it and strive to be like that in my daily life.

 
However…I am half Sicilian and half German—my very genetic make-up alone is high recommendation for supervillainry. Growing up small and ugly didn’t help. It has become my nature, or at least my initial instinct, to be somewhat suspicious of and guarded with people. I can also lash back with extreme effectiveness when attacked. I have had to curb that in myself. I frequently deal with verbal abuse from people, and my inclination is not to be friendly. I’d like to offer them the opportunity to “take a number.” I am required—by my Christianity and my profession—to respond in charity. Now, I don’t fancy myself a hero because I manage to eek out some self-control—I fancy myself still employed and not in jail.

[Read blog on The Rogue]

Waiting for Superman

For a year or two now, I’ve been wanting to write about a song that I love, “Waiting for Superman” by Iron and Wine, but I didn’t know what I wanted to say. As it happens, I had some time off a few weeks ago and finally got to see “Man of Steel,” and that song just kept ringing in my ears. If you haven’t heard it, take a listen:

The song (though not the least bit related to the movie) really captures the feel and the kind of heaviness of the movie (a general, and in my opinion, valid criticism that several friends have made about DC hero movies). Most of the movie is a sort of waiting for Superman—Clark is waiting to find himself, the viewer is waiting for him to find himself and the world, while not really knowing it, is waiting for him, too. Everyone needed him to be Superman, including himself. He was burdened by not knowing or living what he was meant to be—as Jor-El says, “…an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”

[Read blog on The Rogue]

The Master Would Not Approve

When I was a kid, my dream job (besides working for The Peace Corps) was to write for a show called Mad Movies. If you’re old like me, you might have seen this show on Nickelodeon in the 80’s. The show was old movies with new soundtracks dubbed over them to make them hilarious. I thought making fun of old movies would be an awesome job; that’s what I wanted to do that with my life. You know… or work for the Peace Corps…

 
Well, I didn’t do either. I wound up working for the Catholic Church. Though I teach and write a lot, and both of these venues necessarily include humour.

 
When I was in high school another show came into my view: Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was like Mad Movies, but with robots! And you get to hear the original dialogue, which is often as funny as what the guys added. Many of the jokes become staple phrases in my home, and my family watches episodes on YouTube together as often as we can.

 
My younger son recently said, “Oh no…I’m growing up to be Torgo.” (Don’t ask me why—I can’t remember and I probably forgot on purpose.) Both of my boys periodically approach me awkwardly reaching for my hair while humming the Torgo Theme. We are all in agreement that The Master would not approve of most of the things that happen in our home. When I ask the kids a question, the answer is often a whiny, “I don’t know!” in the style of Zap Rowsdower. And, even though they haven’t seen “Devil Fish” yet, they know that when I sing the modified “Juicy Fruit” theme, that it’s from there. I enjoy having been able to share MST3K with my children, even if it means that, since we’ve started watching them together, it’s inspired my little peanut gallery to comment on every TV show or movie that we watch.

[Read blog on Geekdom House]

Key and Peeling Out

Key and Peele isn’t for everyone—I love it (it’s so, so funny!!!), but sometimes it even makes me cringe. But, most of it is hilarious and clever. There was a clip recently that hit on a problem in the Christian community that I thought was worth talking about. The scene shows a Bible Study group praying together when suddenly above them illuminates and the voice of God booms out. At first, everybody is excited—what will God say to them?! They can’t wait to hear the message…until it comes. God says, “Sell everything that you own and give it to the poor.” Countenances drop, shock sets in—then panic—and they pretend to believe that the house is haunted as they peel out of there in a mob.

I wanted to share that clip, but I couldn’t find it. So, I’ll share this one instead. It’s equally awesome, and is a commentary on a nonsensical discrepancy in our society.

Anyhoo, this knock at Christians is well-deserved. Jesus did flat out tell a guy (who represents all of us) to sell his stuff and give it to the poor. The early Christian community lived it like Jesus meant it. They shared what they had and no one was in need as a result of it. 2,000 years later, we’re living like it either doesn’t apply to us personally, or like we never heard it.

[Read blog on The Rogue]

Raising Pagans

Some time ago a friend of mine shared an article written by a mom, who is an atheist, about her young son’s journey to atheism. Like many parents, she meant to leave him a blank slate so that, without her interference, he could come to his own conclusions about the existence of God and the necessity of religion in his own time. She spoke of how she wasn’t intentionally raising him atheist, and her realization that by raising him with no spiritual foundation, she actually was raising him to be an atheist.

The way we relate to God, faith and religion in our homes; whether intentionally or not, does, in fact, raise our children to be something. If we speak of God’s presence in our individual lives and in the life of our families, pray together, do charitable works together, make Mass part of our routine and celebrate holidays with their intended meaning, we are creating a culture of faith, belief and probably a lasting relationship with God and the Church that will be passed on to the generation beyond our own children. If we don’t, we are sending a different message, and imbuing our children with a different set of values.

[Read blog on Catholic365]

My Sad Devotion To An Ancient Religion

This is going to sound really messed up at first, but that scene in Star Wars: A New Hope, when the Imperial Officers are all talking about their plans for the Death Star and Vader says, “I find your lack of faith disturbing,” and then uses the Force to choke Admiral Motti expresses so perfectly what being religious feels like sometimes.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s this part:


It’s not the part when Vader chokes him, because that’s just not right (even if there are times when I sooooooooo wish I could do that), but the conversation about how powerful the Empire thinks they are. In their hubris, they entirely overlook the power of something quiet, but much greater than themselves—something that can, and ultimately will take them down. Admiral Motti actually calls the Death Star the “ultimate power in the universe.” He taunts Vader mocking his, “sad devotion to that ancient religion.” I feel like I’ve heard that exact thing said to me before…or I might have drifted off into a Star Wars daydream…

More and more, religion is looked on with suspicion and, even worse, isn’t thought of at all. Now that I work with kids (I’m the Coordinator of Religious Education for a parish), I’m given an insight into their parents’ mindset. And before that, when I worked with young adults it was the same. Not only do most of them not have even a basic theological vocabulary, but the most basic Christian concepts are perfectly foreign to these young people. They are completely shocked when I tell them that, as people of faith, God should come first in their lives and that they should try to put others before themselves. No one ever told them that.

Our society seems to be moving in a direction that views religion as either the superstition of old people, or some vague authority that exists just to squish our fun. Like Darth Vader, I want people to recognize the power of the Force. Of course, he used it for evil for a long time, but he knew that those who used it for good and to promote justice and freedom for the oppressed—even without using fear tactics, or weapons of mass destruction—could overthrow what appeared to be an insurmountable enemy. It’s true in real life, too. With God, all things are possible. With faith lived in community, impossible things become a reality.

Martian Love

I had a couple of hours alone one evening this past week and boy, did I use it to the fullest! I watched, in perfect peace and in absolute control of the remote, “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.” It was delightful. Not only was it a great superhero story with lots of action and insight into Batman’s inner darkness, but there was an AMAZING scene between J’onn J’onzz and the alternate Earth’s President’s daughter, Rose.
The two felt a connection between them, and after spending some time together, discovered romantic feelings as well. Rose went to kiss J’onn to express her developing feelings, when he stopped her—and something beautiful happened…I looked and looked for a clip of this scene, but this printed dialogue was the best I could do:
J’onn J’onzz: I apologize for reading your mind before. It is considered extremely impolite to do so without permission.
Rose Wilson: I didn’t mind. It seemed, I don’t know, natural.
J’onn J’onzz: We are attuned. Our minds are in sync to a degree that was rare even among my own people. I never imagined I’d meet a human so complimentary to myself.
Rose Wilson: I feel it, attuned.
[Rose leans in to kiss him]
J’onn J’onzz: What are you doing?
Rose Wilson: Trying to kiss you. On Earth, it’s a way of sharing affection.
J’onn J’onzz: This is how we do it on Mars. Know me.

[Read on The Rogue]

One Lantern, Two Lantern, Green Lantern, Blue Lantern

I’m a big fan of the Green Lantern. If I was going to be a superhero, that’s what I’d want to be. Also, the Lanterns remind me of the Catholic Church—they choose people from among the community and assign them to care for the people in that place, they have councils and a hierarchy, they make fabulously horrible mistakes with galactic repercussions and, ultimately, their objective is to bring justice and peace.

I like the Green Lanterns in particular because their thing is Will. The Will is one of the most amazing attributes of humanity. We are each given our own, we’re free to use it as we like, and when we use it the right way, it makes us more divine. Will is the strongest aspect of my faith. I’m not a real “feely” person, so for me, faith isn’t about warm fuzzies. I don’t spend a lot of time with God feeling. I do a lot of being bossy in my prayer time; telling God what I need, what my friends need, and asking Him to help me make good choices. Feelings can be misleading and sometimes misplaced. I prefer what I can see, comprehend and manipulate (not in a bad way). I try to be attentive to other people’s feelings by listening carefully, but my approach has a tendency to be a little clinical. So, my faith is mostly an act of the will.

[Read blog on The Rogue]

When Your Parish Is No Longer Your Home

Many different circumstances can lead to the need to leave the parish that was your spiritual home—moving, parishes closing or merging, a change in schedule that makes it impossible to attend Mass or Religious Ed, or whatever your need is. Regardless of how it happens, having to leave your parish family can be profoundly painful. Often, it takes a lot of adjustment to make your new parish your home. It takes sincere effort to not compare every little aspect of the new place to your old one: the priest isn’t as friendly or as good a homilist, the music isn’t as good, they don’t have __________ ministry/group, my Church was prettier…believe me I’ve heard, or even said it all! If you have recently changed parishes—or even changed a long time ago and are having trouble getting comfortable—please consider the following ideas on how to make a successful transition.

5. Say “Hi” to the people around you at Mass

It’s not necessarily appropriate to have a full-blown conversation in Church before Mass starts, but people are creatures of habit—and chances are—you are going to find that you, and the people around you are in the same spot each week. Make an effort to acknowledge the people around you; with a nod, a smile, a quick wave. You’d be surprised how a little gesture like that can go to making a connection in the pew. And, it could lead to conversation after Mass!

4. Get involved

Belonging to a parish means that you have a claim on them, and they have a claim on you. Just like you have spiritual and relational needs, your parish has need of you! It’s not enough to scrutinize what they do or don’t have to offer—you have a lot to offer, too! Maybe the choir isn’t great, and you are aware of it because you can sing…bring your beautiful voice to their assistance! Maybe they don’t have the ministry that nourished you most in your old parish…ask if you can help get it started—if it nourished you, it might be great for other people, too! A major part of parish life is community—religion is not meant to stay between you and God—it’s meant to reach out to the people of God. So, get involved and become part of the action of the Holy Spirit!

 

[Read Blog on Catholic365]

Caecilius Est Doctor

capaldi-tennant-fires, doctorwhotv.co.uk

capaldi-tennant-fires, doctorwhotv.co.uk

When I was in middle school, I started to notice that very often there would be a connection with the things I was learning and the things I was living. It seemed uncanny at times how we’d study a particular historical item, or something in religion or science and then that thing would show up in some way in a conversation or, even better, it would be useful to a situation I’d find myself in. And, sometimes it would be on a funky delay and turn into a fun surprise…

A few years ago I got sick. I still don’t know what was wrong, but I was basically couch-ridden for about a month and a half. I missed my son’s and husband’s birthday celebrations and a whole bunch of other events. It sucked. The only bright spots were my cat who kept me company, and the TV. I watched a lot of The Mr. Men Show and Dragon Ball Z. And one night, I was watching the Syfy network when Doctor Who came on. I hadn’t been watching it previously, and might have changed the channel, but I started recognizing some names that stopped me in my tracks. Caecilius, Metella, Quintus…I knew those guys! They were the characters from my Latin primer in high school! Magistra Kirschner brought those folks back from the ashes (as it were) like they were in the class with us. I was riveted (and maybe a little delirious) in the nerdiest way possible. Well, that cinched it for me—I was a Doctor Who fan, and it’s all because The Fires of Pompeii was the first modern episode that I saw. (Well, that and the fact that Puddleglum from the BBC’s The Chronicles of Narnia was played by Tom Baker, and I recognized him as Doctor Who from PBS years before…) And who should be the next Doctor, but Caecilius himself—Peter Capaldi! I loved the new guy before he had a chance to do anything, simply because he was Caecilius.

 

[Read Blog on The Rogue]