Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hooked

I'm sure we've all had movie moments that stick with us; scenes that combined character, catharsis, music and meaning into an unstoppable force that broke into our world and suddenly, lifted us up into theirs. Like modern parables, a great Truth was conveyed in a story and it bypassed our security systems. "Hey," we whisper to ourselves, "that's about me..."
I've been hooked on the above scene from Hook for years now. In the movie, Robin Williams plays a much older, stressed, and well dressed Peter Pan; a Peter Pan who has forgotten who he is and subsequently become a merger and acquisitions lawyer (crazy, I know). He's married to Wendy's granddaughter and now his kids have been captured by the infamous Captain Hook.
The scene above is Peter's great awakening. At first we find him utterly confused, ripped from the "real" world of comfort and security into a fantastic place of dreams and magic. But what does he do? How can he live? All is wild and blazingly bright in this world, so unlike the foggy gray and ease and comfort of the world he came from.
The Lost Boys (those perpetual and unsupervised 5th graders) cannot fathom that this is their fearless leader, trembling as he is with fear before them in his suit pants. What's a suit?
A line is drawn by the new leader of the Lost Boys, and Peter stands alone on the other side. Then, dramatically, one little boy crosses over the line, into his fear. He takes Peter by the hand, pulls him down to his level, and touches his face. Pushing and pulling at his cheeks, peering into his eyes, the Little Boy is searching for the truly Lost Boy, Peter Pan. Robin Williams in this scene, manipulated like silly putty in the hands of a Child, cannot help but smile. A light breaks through his weary eyes and suddenly the Child before him whispers "Oh there you are Peter!" The music swells, the Boys rush to Peter's side and all begin the process of rediscovery with him. Eventually, after a long training period, Peter learns again how to fly.
Inspirations, insights... how does this speak to me?
I am lost. I need to be found again. I need the Christ Child to take me by the hand and pull me down to His level, to that place of humility, of smallness. I need Him to touch me and to push aside the worry and the anxiety and the sin and the weakness. I need Him to cross over that line and believe in me. And if I let Him have His way with me, I will hear those words "There you are Billy!"
And by His Grace I will learn again just how to FLY!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Conscience Clause

"Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment... For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God... His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths." - Gaudium et Spes, Vatican II document Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking. - Catechism of the Catholic Church. 1777

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Power of a Word

Today we celebrate the YES of one woman that changed the course of history, that turned the tide of Death into a sweeping Song to Life! Mary's passionate YES is the model for all of us, who have also been given a marriage proposal by the Divine Lover of humanity. May we too give that active, eager YES in each moment, in each encounter, that we engage in today. The Chanticleer version that I first heard (thanks Mike!) And a beautiful women's choir version as well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pádraig, Take Us Back...

Pádraig, take us back...
to the windswept cliffs of recklessness. To the wet cold Wind that strips the soul bare. To the edge of the Sea. 
Pádraig, take us back...
to barren fields of rock, beneath pregnant skies, away from noise and haste. Through the mists of our indifference and triviality, from the warmth of our security.... to the wet cold hollows of the heart where still the Wind blows. Where the Wind scrapes clean mind and heart.
Pádraig, take us back... to where you found yourself, wandering fields of green, under witch-black skies, tending sheep, whistling the pipe, wrapped in prayer, vulnerable. Through howling nights, through the jigs and reels of Faerie, of Mystery, of Deep Uncertainty. 
For we are lost in our certainty. 
We are cold in our comfortability. 
We are trembling in our security. 
Holy Boy, return us to our native pete; to the soil that sweats blood, that holy sod, that rich black earth from which we, scraped, shaped, and filled with the Wind of God, were made... all of us. And will return, all of us. 
Pádraig, take us back... 
we fragile pots of clay, to the Hands that shaped the stars, and brushed the heather soft, and gave the gulls their cry, and poured water on the earth, and Who alone can fill us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Dark Ages

I'm nearly speechless at the complete eclipse of reason, lack of scientific integrity, and disregard for human life in the case of this latest executive order of our president. The Age of Enlightenment has eclipsed. This is only darkness. The fact remains that after 25 years of embryonic stem cell research (which destroys human life), not one cure has been found effective. But in the 25 years of adult stem cell research (which does no harm to the donor or patient), there have been roughly 70 successful treatments given to a host of diseases and conditions. Following this article from the USCCB, you'll find a crystal clear explanation of the difference between the two studies - embryonic versus adult stem cells. Please take the time to view it, and pass it on, post it on your blog or Facebook profile.... we desperately need clarity here. (At the close of the video, you'll meet the Johnson family, who are personal friends of ours and wonderful witnesses to the beauty of the Culture of Life. We've had the grace of hugs from little Zara, who was adopted at the embryonic level. Today, she would have been a victim of the destructive agenda of embryonic stem cell research. But she lives!
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Executive Order on Embryonic Stem Cells 'A Sad Victory of Politics over Science and Ethics' (reprinted from www.usccb.org)
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, today called President Obama's executive order on embryonic stem cell research "a sad victory of politics over science and ethics."
Under the order, for the first time in U.S. history, federal tax dollars will be used to encourage researchers to destroy live human embryos for stem cell research. Cardinal Rigali also cited a January 16 letter in which Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, urged President-elect Obama not to issue such an order. Cardinal Rigali's statement follows:
"President Obama's new executive order on embryonic stem cell research is a sad victory of politics over science and ethics. This action is morally wrong because it encourages the destruction of innocent human life, treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested. It also disregards the values of millions of American taxpayers who oppose research that requires taking human life. Finally, it ignores the fact that ethically sound means for advancing stem cell science and medical treatments are readily available and in need of increased support."
In his January 16th letter to President-elect Obama, Cardinal George, writing as President of the USCCB, cited three reasons why such destructive research is 'especially pointless at this time': 'First, basic research in the capabilities of embryonic stem cells can be and is being pursued using the currently eligible cell lines as well as the hundreds of lines produced with nonfederal funds since 2001.' Second, recent startling advances in reprogramming adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells – hailed by the journal Science as the scientific breakthrough of the year – are said by many scientists to be making embryonic stem cells irrelevant to medical progress.' Third, adult and cord blood stem cells are now known to have great versatility, and are increasingly being used to reverse serious illnesses and even help rebuild damaged organs. To divert scarce funds away from these promising avenues for research and treatment toward the avenue that is most morally controversial as well as most medically speculative would be a sad victory of politics over science.
'"If the government wants to invest in hope for cures and promote ethically sound science, it should use our tax monies for research that everyone, at every stage of human development, can live with." (www.usccb.org)
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If you'd like to know the truth about the whole affair of stem cells, here is a 20 minute video that gives the whole story. Another helpful article - "Stem Cells for Dummies" - is here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Let's Get Mystical!

OK, this is old school. Olivia Newton John, the early years. She played the lovely Sandy in the movie Grease. As a recording artist, one of her more famous tunes was "Let's Get Physical." How's that for blunt? The lyrics went like this: I'm saying all the things that I know you'll like Making good conversation I gotta handle you just right You know what I mean I took you to an intimate restaurant Then to a suggestive movie There's nothing left to talk about Unless it's horizontally Let's get physical, physical I wanna get physical ... Let me hear your body talk OK then. This sounds like the mating ritual of something in a Brazilian rainforest. I'd like to suggest that we're made for a bit more than only the physical. I think real love goes a bit further than that. Let's Get Mystical! The truth revealed in Scripture, and echoed in our hearts through our human experience, is that we are actually a beautiful and mysterious harmony of spirit and matter. We are "sacraments" in the broad understanding of the word; visible signs of an invisible reality. This is part of the brilliant plan of God in making the universe... that there should be things visible and invisible, and that we humans would be the bridges between the two worlds. This explains our restlessness, our deep yearnings for More. It explains why we are at the same time both like and unlike the animals we share the planet with. You see, the animals are the ones who get physical.... they eat and sleep and forage for food and build their little dwellings in the bush. They mate, they reproduce. But we humans dine, we rest, we create.... cathedrals, symphonies, prayers, poems and promises (a little John Denver reference there). And we make love.... though sadly, even this phrase is being stripped from the vocabulary today. People just have sex. Having sex used to mean being male or female, and checking the appropriate box. It went from a noun to a verb in just a generation or two. These mystical phenomena we experience as humans set us worlds apart from the animals..... Read more at the Twisted Mystics blog!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Return of the GEEKS

Last spring, in one of my favorite interviews to date, I spoke with Marybeth Hicks, who artfully and passionately stated her mission to "uncool" America. How? By raising up GEEKS - Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered Kids! Listen in as she demystifies the consumer culture and teaches us how to build a real human culture, where persons are more important than possessions, and character is nobler than cash. The podcast of my interview with Marybeth is here. I just caught the new YouTube video (above) on her website and thought I'd give GEEKS another plug! From the website "Bringing Up GEEKS" The “culture of cool” is everywhere, and it’s stealing childhood innocence from an entire generation of American kids. If cool is a cell phone by sixth grade, unfettered access to media and pop culture and a cynical – even jaded – attitude about life, it’s time to redefine what’s cool for our children. Author, columnist and speaker Marybeth Hicks has an answer: Bringing up Geeks – Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered Kids. To Hicks, a “geek” is an authentic kid enjoying an innocent childhood, and a parent raising a geek is doing the right things. In her innovative and accessible book, Hicks advises parents to teach children to resist the influences of popular culture and the social pressure to conform to the expectations and behaviors of the “cool” crowd. Parents of geeks remember to keep the focus on raising kids for long-term success -- not for popularity as children. In a voice full of common sense, humor and insight, Bringing up Geeks has the potential to launch a child-rearing movement that promotes innocence over exploitation, substance over style, and genuine self-esteem over superficial acceptance. The book has already earned high praise from parents across America, as well as from notable names in media, education and child advocacy.

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