Friday, December 28, 2007

A Must-Read for Fathers with Daughters posted a great interview with an author about the role that fathers play in their daughter's lives. It's not very long, but it's time very well spent. If you've never read much on the topic, it will be a real eye-opener. Here's a link to the article, and an excerpt:

...the most important thing a father can do is live a life of integrity -- living truthfully. A daughter, within 15 seconds, can tell if her father is in a bad mood, good mood, telling the truth or not, etc. Those fathers who don't live truthfully do a great disservice because a daughter doesn't believe in him, doesn't trust him. Dads think they need to earn heroism, but they really don't. The role of a hero is just given to him until proven otherwise. Most dads don't know this.

Click the envelope below to send this post to a dad with a daughter. She'll thank you later!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Help Build a Library in Honduras

When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, He doesn't just mean the person across the street. He also means people around the world. Our community is presented with a wonderful opportunity to embrace this Gospel message.

Molly McCord is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Honduras. She is trying to build several libraries there, and needs our help. She says in an email:

They are really incredible kids and deserve all the good things that life has to offer. It`s so sad the poverty that they live in and just will never get to experience a lot of these things...but we can give them a jump-start with books, which will open the door for them by improving their reading skills, writing skills, overall education, expand their imaginations....

Donating is easy. Molly has set up a Wish List of Spanish-language books on Just click on this link to view the list, select which books you would like to donate, and follow the prompts. You can practice Stewardship without even getting out of your chair!

We're not all called to serve in Honduras. Molly felt the call, and thankfully answered it. However, we are all called to love our neighbor. Perhaps this is one way you can show that love. And please remember to keep Molly and her work in your prayers.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Parents Beware - The Golden Compass

There is a movie coming out on Dec. 7 called The Golden Compass. It stars Nicole Kidman, and at first glance may appear to be in the same league as The Chronicles of Narnia. Nothing could be further from the truth. The movie is based on the first book in a trilogy by Philip Pullman called His Dark Materials. Pullman is an avowed atheist, and his mission is to destroy the faith of young Christians.

Lest anyone think that Christians are overreacting, take a look at the review at the secular, urban myth-debunking site

Pullman left little doubt about his intentions when he said in a 2003 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald that "My books are about killing God."
Some of the more overt instances of anti-Christianity have been toned in the movie. But on their website, the Catholic League lays out the primary concern with the movie:
The Catholic League wants Christians to stay away from this movie precisely because it knows that the film is bait for the books: unsuspecting parents who take their children to see the movie may be impelled to buy the three books as a Christmas present. And no parent who wants to bring their children up in the faith will want any part of these books. [Emphasis added]
Dark materials, indeed. I can't imagine a worse Christmas present for a child.

I think it also bears mentioning that the first book in the series, Northern Lights (on which the movie is based) was awarded a Carnegie Medal for Children's Literature in 1995, and in 2007 was named the "Carnegie of Carnegies" as the best children's book of the last 70 years. I know a lot of parents see that a book has received a Carnegie Medal and assume that it's a quality book that their child should read. Just another reminder to be careful who you trust to make recommendations for your child's reading material. I think it speaks volumes that this was the best book they could find in a 70 year span.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is the Catholic Church responsible for the spread of AIDS in Latin America?

A recent article published by Reuters news service states that the Catholic Church's opposition to the use of condoms is contributing to the spread of AIDS in Latin America. Let's take a look at the holes in the argument, shall we?

First, there is no empirical evidence offered that the Church is responsible for this. All that is presented is that the Church opposes the use of contraception, which is true. What is also mentioned, but given no credence, is that the Church also opposes sex outside of marriage.

So we should draw the conclusion that the Latin American people follow the Church's teaching to the letter when it comes to contraception, yet ignore the teachings against fornication? It seems to me that the decision to fornicate comes first, then the decision whether or not to use a condom. So the Church is not in their thinking for the first decision, but then, between deciding to do the deed and actually doing it, they stop to ask "what would Jesus do"? And don't go back to revisit the first decision? The argument makes no logical sense.

Second, a UN official is quoted as saying:

"In Latin America the use of condoms has been demonized, but if they were used in every relation I guarantee the epidemic would be resolved in the region."

This is the lie that spreads the use of condoms around the world. The latex in a condom is dense enough generally to stop sperm from passing through it. It is NOT, however, dense enough to prevent the AIDS virus from passing through, rendering it useless in preventing the spread of AIDS.

A 2004 study titled Condom Promotion for AIDS Prevention in the Developing World: Is It Working? (Studies in Family Planning 2004; 35[1]: 39–47) found that:

"In many sub-Saharan African countries, high HIV transmission rates have continued despite high rates of condom use." In fact, they continued, "No clear examples have emerged yet of a country that has turned back a generalized epidemic primarily by means of condom distribution."

No surprise, then, that Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa — the nations with the highest levels of condom availability — continue to have the highest rates of HIV prevalence ("The White House Initiative to Combat AIDS: Learning from Uganda," Joseph Loconte, Executive Summary Backgrounder).

This article also mentions an example of AIDS declining in Uganda:
Uganda at one time had the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. Starting in the mid to late 1980s, their government instituted a program to teach abstinence before marriage and fidelity to one's partner afterwards. They only reluctantly advised condoms for high risk groups (like prostitutes) whom they knew would not accept the other two approaches.


In 1991, the prevalence rate of HIV was 15%. By 2001, it had dropped to 5%. It was the biggest HIV infection reduction in world history.

When you read these kinds of articles, do so with a critical eye. The UN and the mainstream media are no friends of the Catholic Church. But Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And the Truth will set you free.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Response to contraception editorial

The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a local man's response to an editorial arguing that contraception was a "logical" choice. He put it very well:

Unfortunately, due to our humanness, contraception automatically leads to promiscuous sex, and the resulting pain and confusion.

As parents, we do our children a great disservice if we abdicate and retreat from this battle. We don't give them enough credit to do the right thing. It is hard, and much harder than in a bygone era, but not impossible.

Click here to read the entire response. It will take less than 5 minutes to read it, and it's time well spent. We'll be exploring more of this theme on this blog in the near future.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Don Lucia on Youth Sports

Don Lucia is the head coach for the hockey team at the University of Minnesota. His comments are about hockey, but can easily be applied to any sport. He talks about parents having the proper attitude toward youth sports, and he doesn't pull any punches. This video should be required viewing for any parent or coach involved in youth sports. It's nothing we shouldn't know already, but there are too many people who need to be reminded.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Making Boys Interested in the Church

An article at Crisis Magazine by Anthony Esolen explores three ways to make (and keep) boys interested in the Church. Excerpt:

Insofar, then, as the liturgy is seen as a feminine enterprise, so will it fail to interest boys. I don’t mean that they will reject it consciously. We are not talking about something bad that happens, so much as about something good and necessary that does not happen. They will not say, “I don’t like holding hands, I don’t like the soprano at the piano bar, I don’t like the cutesy slogans on the banners.” It’s simply that their minds and hearts will wander. They will not be inspired to devotion.

How, then, to win the hearts of the boys? I have three recommendations.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Lawyer's Guide to Fatherhood

Fun article in USA Today about the "legality" of fatherhood. Excerpt:

...all children are born with an innate sense of the law. Indeed, when the Framers spoke of natural rights, they might have hit on the same discovery in their own children. You can actually track your kids' development by the legal arguments they make. Take it from me, the best way to prepare for parenting is to take a law course at your community college.

Takings. The Constitution prohibits the taking of property without compensation by the government. Within their first two years, all children embrace this principle with a vengeance. Parents learn they must compensate for any item removed: a toy for the car keys; a cracker for the 12-inch butcher knife.

Contracts. By 3, negotiating with kids is like working with little Teamsters on a labor contract. Bring a sandwich truck to the site; it becomes part of the contract. Likewise, once a parent buys a scone at Starbucks or allows cartoons in the morning, it is part of an unwritten but enforceable contract. This develops into a form of collective bargaining with the addition of another sibling: Any benefit to one is instantly an expected benefit to the other. Break the contract and you'll face work stoppages, unending protests and even sabotage that ranges from spilled milk to items in the trash can.

Cruel and unusual punishment. By 3, children have defined what they view as cruel and unusual punishment. Denials of favorite foods or toys are considered to be measures that "shock the conscience" and require immediate redress.

Privacy. As soon as a child goes through potty training, privacy becomes an increasingly important right - reaching its apex in the teen years. The same parents who spent two years changing them and bathing them must now sequester themselves in a distant room to avoid the "chilling effect" of surveillance.

Equal protection. By 6, all children put themselves in what the Supreme Court calls "a suspect class" - any different treatment based on their identity as a sibling can be enforced only after parents show a compelling reason that they are using "the least restrictive means." Otherwise, a difference of only 10 minutes in television time is enough to unleash demonstrations reminiscent of the march on Selma.

Due process. By 6, kids will insist on full due process in adjudicating their claims. Major penalties such as loss of Game Boys require something close to a full trial with two days of arraignment, jury selection and sequestration - and inexhaustible appeals.


10 Pardoxes of Fatherhood

Jay at Catholic-Dads posted a great article from Donald DeMarco in the National Catholic Register on the "10 Paradoxes of Fatherhood".

...Fatherhood means being:

1. A leader without being a frontrunner.
Our prevailing notion of leader comes from the worlds of sports and from politics. In this sense, in accordance with the “leader board” in golf, the leader is the one who is ahead of the rest of the field. Or he is the one who is leading in the political polls by outpacing his rivals. But a father is not a leader in this way. He does not try to remove himself from his family. Nor does he regard the members of his family as rivals. On the contrary, he leads in a manner that fulfills each member. His leadership is inseparable from those he leads. What he leads and “fathers” into being is the good of those whom he loves.In other words, fatherhood requires that a father leads by being there, rather than being “ahead of the pack.”

2. A visionary without being arrogant.
Every home must have a hearth and a horizon. The father is a visionary in the sense that he has an eye on the future. He has a keen sense of the importance of time. But he has this without presumption or arrogance. He is providential in his fathering. He knows instinctively that his children will grow up and lead independent lives. He provides for them a future vision of themselves.

3. A servant without being servile.
The expression servus servorum Dei (servant of the servants of God) adopted by John Paul II, comes from Pope Gregory the Great. Paradoxically, this servant of the servants of God earned the appellation “Great.” He who humbles himself shall be exalted. The father serves all the members of his family without being in any sense inferior. One might say, in this respect, that a father is like a tennis player: When they serve, they both enjoy an advantage.

4. An authority without being authoritarian.
The father, like God, shares in the authorship of life. He is an authority and therefore someone to learn from and be guided by. But his authority does not restrict the liberty of others. In fact, fatherly authority is to cultivate and enhance liberty. St. Thomas Aquinas wisely pointed out that “the respect that one has for the rule flows naturally from the respect one has for the person who gave it” (Ex reverentia praecipientis procedere debet reverentia praecepti). A person best understands fatherhood by knowing someone who is a good father. One must begin with the real experience and not the inadequate abstraction.

5. A lover without being sentimental.
The love of a father is strong and unwavering. Love is not bound by a feeling, and hence prone to sentimentality. It is strengthened by principles that always focus on the good of others. Love means doing what is in the best interest of others. Sentimentality means always being nice because one is fearful of opposition.

6. A supporter without being subordinate.
A father is supportive. He holds people up, keeps them going when they are inclined to be discouraged. His encouraging role does not imply subordination, but reliability and trustworthiness from someone who is strong. He is not supportive in the Hollywood sense of being a “supporting actor.” His supportive role is played out as the leading man.

7. A disciplinarian without being punitive.
A good father knows the value of rules and the consequences of disregarding them. He wants his children to be strong in virtue. Therefore, he knows the importance of discipline, restraint and self-possession. He is not punitive, nor is he overbearing. He makes it clear to his children that there is no true freedom without discipline, that discipleship requires training. He is wary of punishment as such, since it can strike fear in the heart of a child.

8. Merciful without being spineless.
Mercy must be grounded in justice. Otherwise it is dissipation and weakness. In fact, it is unjust. A father, because he recognizes the uncompromisable importance of justice is anything but spineless. He is merciful, but his mercy perfects his justice. Mercy without justice, is mere capitulation to the desires of others. Justice without mercy is cold legalism.

9. Humble without being self-deprecating.
Humility is based on the honest recognition of who one is. It takes into account one’s limitations and weaknesses. The humble father, when he encounters difficulties, has enough humility to ask for help, even at times from his own children. Yet, he never gets down on himself. He knows that remaining self-deprecating at a time of crisis is utterly futile.

10. Courageous without being foolhardy.
Courage is not fearlessness, but the ability to rise above fear so that one can do what needs to be done in a time of danger or difficulty. A father does not fall apart when he begins to feel the pressure. Foolhardiness is not courage but an unfocused and unhelpful recklessness. Moreover, courage, as its etymology suggests, requires heart. The father, above all, is a man of heart...


Monday, June 04, 2007

Marriage Makes You Happy?

Science has once again confirmed what we common-folk have long known: marriage is good for your well-being. A study from an Ohio State grad student reveals that "marriage provides a greater psychological boost to depressed people than to happy people, even if the marriage is so-so. "
The big remaining question, she says, is why depressed people benefit more from marriage than happy people. It could be that marriage provides the companionship and emotional support needed to help alleviate depression, she said.

Could be. But not sure. Probably take some more grant dollars to settle it.

Avoiding sports burnout for our kids

A new report states the obvious: kids need a break from sports. I think most parents intuitively know this, even if they don't practice it. But I thought this line at the end was revealing.
The pediatricians who wrote the report said aiming for the Olympics or a career in professional sports was unrealistic for most children. Less than 1 percent of high school athletes make it to the pros, the report said.

Of course, a lot of them just know that their special prodigy is a part of that extreme minority. I think it's amazing how many kids say they just want to have fun playing and not be tied to a schedule.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Religion vs. "spirituality"

Rich at Ten Reasons had a great post with a quote from Archbisop Charles Chaput from Denver. Archbishop Chaput is an eloquent defender of the Church. Pray for more like him.

The quote is fairly short, so I've just re-printed the part that Rich did. If you haven't checked out his blog, do so. You'll find it much more fruitful than what I have here.

Religion vs. "spirituality"
Denver archbishop Charles J. Chaput
on a key distinction:

You know, there’s a reason why "spirituality" is so popular in the United States today and religion is so criticized. Private spirituality can be quite satisfying. But it can also become a designer experience. In fact, the word spirituality can mean just about anything a person wants it to mean. It’s private, it’s personal, and, ultimately, it doesn’t place any more demands on the individual than what he or she wants.

Religion is a very different creature. The word religion comes from the Latin word religare—to bind. Religious believers bind themselves to a set of beliefs. They submit themselves to a community of faith with shared convictions and hopes. A community of believers has a common history. It also has a shared purpose and future that are much bigger than any political authority. And that has implications. Individuals pose no threat to any state. They can be lied to, bullied, arrested, or killed. But communities of faith do pose a threat. Religious witness does have power, and communities of faith are much harder to silence or kill.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Modesty question

An article on the Catholic Dads blog brought up something that's been bothering me lately:

When did "dressed up" for girls and women become equated with cleavage? It seems to have become a pre-requisite for going out, even to Church. I go to Church to pray, not to see a complete side-view of some 17 year old's breast, which is what I saw a couple of weeks ago. Clothes are too tight, too short, too revealing, and the parents condone it. I'm on the Board of Education for our parish and have brought this up with the principal - about school uniforms being too tight, etc. She just said it's a losing battle with the parents, that they meet the letter of the law and don't want to hear it. What a shame.

That's why I think the Catholic Dads movement is so important. Our daughters need to hear from us about what message that sends. They need to ask themselves if that's really the attention they want. And if so, why?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Alec Baldwin on Parenting

Actor Alec Baldwin has driven one road lower in his bitter custody dispute with his ex-wife Kim Basinger, this time verbally unleashing on their daugher. He was recently recorded on voicemail calling his 11 year old daughter a "rude, thoughtless little pig." He went on to say:

"You don't have the brains or the decency as a human being," he says, apparently upset that she did not answer her phone for a planned call.

"I don't give a damn that you're 12 years old, or 11 years old, or that you're a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass who doesn't care about what you do as far as I'm concerned. You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone."

It's not my place to jump on him, but clearly he's missing the purpose of his role as a father. Is he fighting to see his daughter more, or to punish his ex-wife more? Trying to explain himself, he said,

"I am most saddened that this was released to the media because of what it does to a child. [snip] I am sorry for what happened. But I am equally sorry that a court order was violated, which had deliberately been put under seal in this case." [emphasis added]

So the worst part is not what he said to his 11 year old little girl. It's that a court order was violated to keep the tape private. No matter who else hears the comments, it's he who hurt his daughter. No the media, not her mother, not the lawyers.

We should all pray for Mr. Baldwin.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Shootings at Virginia Tech

My three children are still very young, but I can't imagine the panic that the students and their parents at Virginia Tech must be feeling right now. It just makes you want to hold them tight, no matter how old they are. Pray for all of the families and the victims of this senseless violence.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bishop Foys' Easter thoughts

Since we are still in the Easter season, here's an excerpt from Covington (KY) Bishop Roger Foys' letter in the Easter issue of the diocesan newspaper, The Messenger.
But then the women came with the fantastic story that the grave was empty! Jesus had made good on his promise. He had risen from the dead! What inexpressible joy! Their night now became day; their sorrow, joy; their tears, laughter! Death had been overcome! Jesus was victorious over sin and death! And his disciples would be changed forever!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Supreme Court Watch

Maggie Gallagher had a great article recently about the Courts' efforts to hamper prosecutions of child pornographers. Excerpt:
With this ruling, the Supreme Court made prosecutions of child pornography much harder for two reasons: first because the burden of proof shifted to the government to prove an actual child was involved; and second because any idiot with Photoshop could convert his illegal "actual photos" into a computer-generated image protected by the First Amendment, and sell, distribute and possess to his twisted heart's content.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Stem cell advance

Scientists are excited about an advance in stem cell research

Researchers led by Magdi Yacoub, a professor of cardiac surgery at Imperial College London, have grown tissue from stem cells in bone marrow that works in the same way as the valves in human hearts, it said.

We'll see how excited the media gets about this. They usually prefer to downplay any advance in stem cell research that doesn't come from an embryo. However, the most useful advances to date have come from non-embryonic sources. The Church is not opposed to stem cell research per se, only that research which destroys human embryos (read: human life).

Grieving couple commits suicide after dog dies

Is is surprising to hear that the couple (in their60's) had no (human) children? According to the AP:
Police said the childless couple had held a burial ceremony for their dog of 13 years, called "Puppy," and hosted a feast for friends before hanging themselves in their bedroom.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

News break: Corporate America doesn't care about your daughter

In case you were starting to drift off, an article on Yahoo today highlights another study about the harmful effects of the sexualization of girls. Short of passing laws, it isn't going to change. There's no financial incentive for the big corporations to change their programming or advertising. They couldn't possibly care any less about your little girl. The question is - are we going to continue to invite them into our homes?