From the BlogSubscribe Now

Sports Fathers #24

One of the results of attending the Catholic New Media Conference is that you connect with other people who are doing new media, which inevitably means you begin to show up elsewhere in the interwebs as guests or in other capacities.

One of the people I connected with was Fr. Darryl Millette who is from Saskatoon, Saskachawan, Canada. Eh. Along with running his own cleverly titled website, saskapriest.com, he is also the editor-in-chief and host of a sports podcast called TheSportsFathers (which sounded at first like an athletic religious order who works with Fellowship of Christian Athletes).

To make a short story long (I hate that saying, but it is now appropriate, urgh), I sat in on the last episode of TheSportsFathers. We talked baseball and the World Series. I haven’t talked baseball in fifteen years, easy. Then we talked the Saints, yay! They talked about hockey, and I l laughed. It was all a lot of fun.

Go check us out.

Moving Downton

Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! Warning! Warning! If you yourself are a regular visitor to the Abbey that is Downton, if you have found yourself caught up in the tension of Lady Mary’s romance with the dashing Matthew Crawley, then I am certain that you were a little more than disappointed Sunday night when the dashing Mr. Crawley became the dead Mr. Crawley. People have often made the connection between Downton Abbey and Jane Austen, so I feel it is not too much of a stretch to say that it would have been like the death of Mr. Darcy or the passing of Colonel Brandon (not to be confused with the Downton character Mr. Tom Branson). In short, it was an utterly inorganic plot twist that has drastically altered the nature of the story. What was a classy, well-shot, sharply acted period drama has gone the way of Days of Our Lives. Or Dallas. Or Deliverance. Death for the sake of drama. Death without substance or meaning or movement. Whatever Downton is, it is no longer Pride & Prejudice or even Tess of the d’Ubervilles.

Now, for the sake of the substantial argument, of what effect this has on the literary meaning, I suggest you visit tomandlorenzo.com (http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/2013/02/downton-abbey-visitors-from-the-south.html) . I do not plan on providing a literary analysis when they have already done a far better job of it. Rather, I wish to reflect momentarily on the death of Downton, a death which happened simultaneous with the death of Mr. Crawley. The reality is that this plot twist was never really a part of plan of the writer, Mr. Julian Fellowes. He had every intention, when he started the series 4 years ago, to provide the audience with a neatly told period drama complete with snappy dialogue, lush sets and classic romance. He produced scenery-based story that evolved into a serial. He certainly didn’t want to become a serial killer. But now that the death toll has been ratcheted up to the point where over half the episodes involve murder, suicide, fatal illness or tragic accident, one does have to wonder where all this is going. And whether it is worth watching. The reason for this is a confluence of two factors: the studio’s pressure to produce hype and the contractual demands of the actors. In short, as Downton has blossomed into the most successful British drama since ‘Macbeth,’ there was great pressure from the studio to keep the drama coming, regardless of the cost. At the same time, there was a great urge from the cast (most recently, Matthew Crawley’s Dan Stevens) to break out of the overly cloistered world of Downton. And lets face it: who can blame these emotions. If you are studio exec, why not ask for ever-increasing tragedy to keep the hype coming? If you are a 20-something actor, do you really want to do period drama for 5 years straight? The result: death and destruction at epic levels. Viewers have seen more death in Downton bedrooms than they did during the wars scenes.

The studio might say that this is the best way to move the plot forward. The actors might say that this is the best way to move their careers along. The question remains: is this the best way to move your audience. Ending the series on Sunday with a happy Mary and Matthew would have been a far better way to tell the story. Leave off that last two minutes of the car wreck, and Downton Abbey would have gone down in history as one of the most poignant, polished and well-told stories in television history. By continuing it (unnecessarily) past its natural story arc, your audience is moved toward jadedness and cynicism. The point is that the writers and producers have sacrificed meaning for the sake of longevity. They have momentum  but it is not positive momentum  They have bought into the ‘Superstition of Progress:’ that a thing moving fast (like a car) must be moving forward unstoppably  It is ironic that the full consequences of this superstition go over the heads of the producers while they have them fall right on the head of Matthew Crawley. It is a pity that it had to fall on the heads of his fans as well.

Oh well: at least the management of Downton is now in the hands of a sensible Irish Catholic (provided, of course, they don’t kill Branson off as well…).

Friday Thoughts – Is Fiction Lying?

I subscribe to Fuel Your Writing with the amateur and fantastic intention of one day becoming a writer. The bloggers there usually have great insights into many aspects of writing. They often times keep me going. 


A month ago, I received one of their encouraging emails only to be thoroughly discouraged. It was called And Then the Beckham’s Paid Off Our Mortgage … Please read that quickly before continuing or this post might not make sense. 


The writer, Christopher Johnson, is the editor for Fuel Your Writing and I have no doubt sincerely desires to communicate the best information to his constituency. Furthermore, I thoroughly respect Stephen King as a writer and a writer for writers, but I disagree wholeheartedly with his statement, “Fiction is truth inside a lie.” 


This originates from the concepts that myths are lies. Tolkein and Lewis spent their lives combatting this literary heresy. Myths and with them, fiction, are not lies. Rather, they communicate truth through their stories. They communicate the truth of the human condition, of the sinfulness of man, of the desire for redemption not found. Fiction is the battleground of the human soul wherein men and women come to see the world in a different light through flights of adventure, romance (which, by the way I’m not a fan of romance novels, but they still communicate that which is true, lust), mystery, even science fiction. 


Take the story at hand, the Beckham’s. This story communicates man’s desire for unconditional love, a love which no matter the depth, can never be fully requited by man. The Beckham’s, in the story, are an image of Christ’s love for his Church. He’s willing to give without expecting but a little repayment (our cooperation with His unconditional gift), a repayment certainly not to the degree of the gift. 


Instead of a lie, the Beckham story becomes an image of the reception of divine love and our reticence to receive because of our wanting to hold onto to our own will. Fiction is not lying. Fiction, at its very essence, communicates truth, namely Truth Himself. When fiction betrays that, it betrays itself and destroys the reader instead of lifting him/her up toward that which is greater. 

Aquinas and More

If you look over to the side you’ll see a few things different on the sidebar. There is a badge that says Tiber River. I have become an official Tiber River reviewer of books. I am very excited about this. I love the resource that Tiber River provides. They pool together book reviews on thousands of books. All the reviews are from a Catholic perspective. They even have an orthodoxy meter. Which is pretty sweet.

Tiber River was designed by Ian Rutherford, the owner and operator of AquinasAndMore.com. I was first turned on to them when I went looking for the insert for the newer feast for the breviary. They were the only ones that had that in stock. From then on I would return to purchase things. I am so confident in their selection of Catholic goods and customer service that I have joined their affiliate program. You might notice me referring to them a lot more in my posts. I did this for two reasons.

1) To practice what I preach. I’m constantly telling people to support local businesses here in New Orleans. The same applies for online shopping. I want to support Ian, his family, and those who work with him when it is at all possible.

2) Whatever money does come my way will be what I use to purchase more books to talk about on the blog.

iTunes U

There are so many opportunities now to gain directed education with little or no money. Most people turn to Wikipedia, which is in many cases a good start but is far from comprehensive and sometimes misinformed.

Oddly enough, Apple has provided a much better form of cheap or free education through the app iTunes U. It provides so many opportunities to grow in knowledge of everything from biology to leadership courses.

The first course I have endeavored upon is from Open University on creative writing (imagine a blogger learning about creative writing). My desire is to eventually to fulfill the lifelong desire to write mysteries. I have yet the skills and knowledge to create well that which would be considered a decent story.

Catholic Media Promotion Day

Today is Catholic Media Promotion Day.  Being that, in some small way, this blog is Catholic media.  We are participating.  I speak for myself and not my colleagues with regard to the following picks:

Three Favorite Catholic Blogs:



The Sacred Page, which is co-author by Dr.’s Michael Barber, John Bergsma, and my own Scripture professor Brant Pitre, has been the blog that I have followed the longest.  As a man studying for the priesthood, their Scriptural insights help in reflection and will help in preparation for preaching.


Matthew Warner’s Blog hosted by National Catholic Register provides me with constant reflections on Catholic media and how to be Catholic in the digital age.  Matthew always has great insights and garners many comments, which provide for great conversation.


Quiet, Dignity, and Grace is probably not a well know Catholic blog having just got off the ground 4 months ago, but I love its content.  It’s written by a friend of mine, Luke Arredondo, who’s a Catholic high school religion teacher and masters of theology student.  Luke gives great insights on theological topics. 

Three Favorite Podcasts:
All of which can be downloaded for free from iTunes

The Catholic Underground is the Catholic Media anything that I have followed the longest.  I had the pleasure of being on a show back in 2007.  Fr. Chris Decker, Fr. Ryan Humphries, Joshua LeBlanc, and Daniel Kedinger talk tech and talk all things Catholic.  They always have interesting conversations, and lately they have streamed them live to allow for chatroom interaction from the listeners.  

The SaintCast has been inspirational, helpful, and a downright enjoyable listen.  Dr. Paul Camarata, a medical doctor and surgeon, talks saints.  He introduces the English speaking world to the world of the saints.  I have learned many great things from his podcast.  

The Catholic Foodie brings together the two best things about New Orleans, food and the Catholic faith.  Jeff Young brings much more to the table than merely recipes and reviews. The show highlights how food – good food – can be a sign to us of God’s love and care for each of us and our families. The tagline, “where food meets faith,” speaks volumes about the importance of family, which is so often developed around the kitchen table. 

Three Random Catholic Media:

I would be remiss if in a discussion of Catholic media I didn’t mention the first national Catholic media presence, EWTN.  This television station pioneered Catholic media in the United States.  Mother Angelica’s tiring efforts paved the way for many others to attempt authentically Catholic media.  EWTN has now branched out onto the internet with a great database of Catholic writings, Catholic news, and Catholic film.  

In this, I feel the need to mention my favorite Catholic book publisher, Ignatius Press.  This San Francisco company is not only the pope’s American publisher, but has republished classic Catholic works from the early twentieth century.  They always have great books, fiction, non-fiction, theology, and philosophy.  They also have built up a small but solid group of films about saints.  Along with all of this, their blog Insight Scoop provides excerpts from the books it publishes as well as very as sundry things from the mind of Carl Olsen.  

Three Catholic Apps:

iBreviary Pro Terra Sancta is by far one of best apps on the market for Catholics.  I provides daily updates of the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayers and readings for each daily liturgy, it has all of the rites used by a priest, as well as some of the blessings from the book of blessings.  It is one the most used apps on my iPhone.  

iPieta , though, tops even iBreviary.  Not only does it have the full Douay-Rhiems translation of scripture, but all the daily readings (in the D-R translation, not NAB).  It also has the full host of prayers you would find in the Pieta prayer book.  It has most prayers that you would ever need, including the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.  These things alone would make it a great app, but its developers didn’t stop there.  It also contains a library of the great works of Catholic spirituality from St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, St. John Vianney, St. Therese of Liseux, St. Louis de Monfort, and many others.  And that would enough for app, but why stop there.  It also contains the full texts of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, his collection of commentaries on the gospels by the fathers named the Catena Aurae, the 21 Ecumenical Councils, the Haydock Bible Commentary Series from Genesis to Revelation, Encyclicals from Gregory XVI (1835) to Benedict XVI, and writings from many of the Church Fathers.  

Here I have to support the work my diocese has done in Catholic media.  They have created an app, iFaith, that allows anyone in the area to access info about mass times and confession times.  It uses the GPS of the phone to locate where the person is and recommends the closest churches.  It also provides news, an events section for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, a connection to Archbishop Gregory Aymond’s v-logs, and a connection to the Archdiocese’s Twitter feed.  

MacJournal

I decided to go a different direction for my blog creations. I want to spend less time on the internet in general. Writing in web browser on the blogspot site means I could easily click to another tab to be distracted or such. It inhibited writing and growth in virtue.

I shopped around for a blog creation program for Mac. I looked through many things, but I was most impressed by a program I already had, but didn’t realize it’s full capability. I had downloaded a trial version of MacJournal, not soon after I got my Macbook in 2007, from the beautiful site, MacFreeware.  MacJournal allowed for journaling and the funneling of ideas into one space. Over the past four years, it came into disuse because, well, I like writing with a pen as opposed to typing. As I was searching for blog writers, I came across an updated version of this wonderful piece of software that offered so much more than the small trial version that I had. So I bought it.  It works with many different blog sites.  I am so excited with all the possibilities it holds​.

Check out the program and others here.

Do you use something different?

Lenten Reading

We’re a less than a week away from Lent.  This liturgical season provides so much possibility for growing in virtue, especially the virtues of faith, hope, and love.  I’m sure many of you have things planned.  You will give up this or take up that devotion.  
I would like to let you in on something.  A group of friends from the bibliophile social networking site, Goodreads, have gotten together to do a Lenten reading.  We’ve chosen Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s famous work Abandonment to Divine Providence.  If you would like to join in the discussion or join in the reading, be our guest.  
You can find discussions and reading schedules somewhere around here.  

10-10-10

Sorry for the lag in posts.  All of us are adjusting to new situations, which hopefully will provide new insights to publish here.  Soon we will be adding another contributor who will probably eclipse all of us with his writing style alone.  As for books and the such here’s a few books to check out

Dr. Michael Barber suggests a new book for the biblical scholar in you.  It is a very important look at the role of the Temple in the Gospel of Mark.  It is called The Temple in the Gospel of Mark written by Tim Gray, who is a scripture professor at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.

For the one desiring fiction, Ignatius Press put out a novel featuring the famous Inklings, J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams.  It centers on a look for the spear of destiny through the lens of research on the Authorian legend.  It seems like a good read.  Written by David Downing, it’s called Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel. 

Love or Money?

I found this ad on Facebook.  It’s an ad for the sequel of the award winning ’80’s movie Wall Street.  Is this not indicative of our current culture?  Money or love?  Which would you choose?  Neither!!!  Money has no intrinsic value after its very existence.   I don’t want Wall Street‘s understanding of love either.  Furthermore, I don’t care for Shia Lebeouf other than his Even Stevens role.  Money does never sleep, rather it doesn’t have the capacity.

This has been brought to you by the Daily Rant Service.