Sunday, March 22, 2009

Do you like cake???

I like cake, but it seems I like the bakers better... especially when they are featured on the Food Network. Chefs Buddy Valastro (Food Network Challenge) and Duff Goldman (Ace of Cakes) are as yummy (in my opinion) as the cakes they make.

I think I'm going into the wrong field. I should be a pasty chef.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chick Publications - Christian Hate?

Using religion as grounds to justify hate and stereotypes is nothing new. It has been the part of human history for centuries. Alas, even as the 21st century rounds out its first decade, radical fundamentalists have kept the fires burning.

Chick Publications, a supposedly "Christian" group prints small "comic book" style pamphlets for mass distribution. I have picked up numerous copies of these in retail men's rooms, of all places. Ironically enough, it's exactly where they belong, flushed down the toilet like so much other waste.

It is not my place to tell someone else what to believe in, but it hurts me to see people use God to justify the type of rhetoric used in these pamphlets. This "Christian" group attacks in direct and vicious ways, Roman Catholics, Muslims, and Gays.. to name a few. Basically, anyone who does not follow their own interpretation of Scripture is depicted as going to Hell.

These "tracks", as the publication refers to them, use stereotypes and offensive characatures to get their points across. Some how, as long as you are working for the salvation of souls, you may be as offensive, rude, judgemental, or hateful as you like.. provided you have a neat and tidy scripture passage after each slogan or illustration. I must have mistakenly been under the impression that it was wrong for us to slander others, or judge them.. leaving judgement up to God Himself.... I guess it's not in Scripture, since this "Chick" publishes every other quote they can twist except the one about "judge not lest ye be judged".

Using the Bible for this type of extremist agenda has a long and sad story. Protestant fundamentalists even used their own interpretations of the the Bible to justify slavery and segregation. Since these "ministers" and "pastors" feel they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus have the only correct interpretation of Scripture, then only their understanding is to be believed, and all others cast into the flames.

How sad Our Lord must be that people use His name and His message for such causes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blackberry Bold

With my tax returns, I bought myself a new toy... a Blackberry Bold! I primarily use a cell phone for text messaging and sending pictures to family and friends.. I rarely make regular phone calls on it, preferring to use the house phone for long calls (clarity is much better). I had been wanting a phone that offered a full key board to making the texting easier. I had considered a Blackberry, and decided it was finally time.

This smart phone is AMAZING! It's like something right out of Star Trek.. remember those PADDS they had to read files and download information? How about the tricorders that seemed to be able to do anything and everything while being clipped to their belts when not in use? That would be a Blackberry.

I can text so much easier, surf the web (for an additional monthly fee added to my plan -- but well worth it!), use AIM, have all my e-mails forwarded to it, type up Word documents, and it even has a great camera... you name it. I think it could even make other cell phones explode, if I can only find the option. :)

It makes for a nice distraction during my free periods subbing. Needless to say, I'm hooked, and have no intentions to going back to a basic cell phone any time soon.

There are numerous smart phones (or PDA's) offered, depending on your provider. My brother has a touch screen Blackberry from Verizon, mine is the Bold from AT&T, which also offers the Apple IPhone. I'm not a fan of touch screens, preferring to standard keyboard, but to each their own. It amazes me to think how far we have come with technology!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Hail Glorious St. Patrick, dear saint of our isle.
On us thy poor children bestow a sweet smile.
And now that art high in the mansions above,
on Erin's green valleys, look down in thy love.
On Erin's green valleys, on Erin's green valleys,
On Erin's green valleys look down in thy love.

Thy people now exiled on many a shore.
Shall love and revere thee till time be no more.
And the fire thou hast kindled will ever burn bright.
It's warmth undiminished, undying it's light.
It's warmth undiminished, it's warmth undiminished..
it's warmth undiminished, undying it's light.

Ever bless and defend the sweet land of our birth,
where the shamrocks still bloom as when thou were on Earth.
And our hearts shall yet burn wheresoever we roam.
For God and St. Patrick and our native home.
For God and St. Patrick, for God and St. Patrick,
For God and St. Patrick and our native home.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Explanation of Lenten Practices

In an era when most people no longer set aside time for God, let alone Church, it is no wonder why certain traditions have lost their meaning. While I have mentioned before that Lent seems to be the most anti-Catholic time of year in particular, it is also odd to notice how many people, especially laps Catholics, still observe some of the Lenten traditions. That being said, it bares explaining the meaning of some of these traditions and practices.

Ash Wednesday - Ashes were a traditional sign of penance or atoning for one's sins, even for the Jewish people. Since Lent is a time of penance, preparing our hearts and souls to celebrate the memorial of Christ's passion and Resurrection, we mark the start of this season with this ancient symbol. When given the ashes by the priest, the traditional saying to the recipient was (and is): "Remember man that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return". It is a sober reminder of the shortness of life and the small importance of all things material, even our bodies which will one day return to the dust of the earth from which they came.

Fish on Fridays - This is where Catholics especially come under criticism, after all "it doesn't say to do that in the Bible." Fasting is no stranger to Judaism or Christianity. It is a very ancient practice for many religions to help a person subdue their earthly appetites. Jesus himself fasted in the desert for 40 days and nights, being tempted by the devil to break the fast and eat. Originally, meat was seen as a luxury, especially in the sea communities of the Mediterranean. To give up meat was to do without such a luxury, and to humble ones-self before the Lord. I don't think it is a coincidence that the no meat policy is on a Friday. Jesus died for us on a Friday, and the small sacrifices we make are to remind ourselves of the ultimate sacrifice He made for us on the cross. Note: It is not mandatory to eat fish, which has now become the luxury food. Simply abstaining from meat and eating only vegetables would suffice.

Giving up something for Lent - Like the meatless Fridays, this too is an act of sacrifice during a season the Church sets aside to remember the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. It is not a sin not to give up something for Lent. These are pious practices which the universal Church practices together to keep the spirit of sacrifice which Lent is all about... which ushers in the celebration and festivities represented by the Easter holiday.

Purple Vestments - Again, penance. Purple is a sign of mourning, penance, and even waiting. We are mourning the suffering Christ went through on his way to the cross, and his death. We await the feast of the Resurrection. Purple also reminds us of the royalty of Christ as King of Kings. Remember the purple garment Pilot put on Jesus as the people mocked him as "King of the Jews". Sometimes (especially in more traditional or Latin Mass parishes), statues and crucifixes will be veiled in purple. This is a custom referring to how some of Jesus' closest friends abandoned Him (Judas' betrayal, and Peter denying knowing Jesus) during his time of need. Also, it takes away the ornamentation of the Church, setting a more somber mood until the festivity of Easter.

Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs - This isn't about Lent, but I thought I'd throw it in anyway. You're right, they have absolutely nothing to do with the Christian concept of Easter, and were actually pagan traditions for spring. Like anything else though, they were fun traditions, and we assimilated them. Eggs, baby chicks, and the ever reproducing rabbit are symbols of spring and rebirth... concepts not too far from the ideas of the Resurrection and new life of Christ.

So there you go folks. Everything you wanted to know about Lent, and didn't care to ask about.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Life as a substitute

Last week I began substitute teaching. It can be a bit overwhelming, especially being the new kid. There was no orientation, no tour of the buildings, just a call at 6:20 in the morning telling me where to report, and what subject and grade I was teaching.

I have to say it's been an interesting experience so far, having only subbed three times. The faculty and staff have been wonderful, and more than friendly, which is a huge plus. It's awkward walking into someone else's classroom, trying to implement their plans and classwork when you don't know the students, the sources you are using, and much of the time, don't even know the subject matter. Part of being a substitute teacher is making things up on the go, and just surviving the day without total chaos erupting in your classes. So far, I've done that.

I guess the biggest obstacle for me is not having a routine. I'm very much a creature of habit, and breaking into something new was never easy for me. At Walmart, I know the ins and outs of my job well, and can fill in at a moment's notice and not bat an eye. Now, I get lost in the building I'm working in, let alone my lack of confidence in what I am doing in the classroom. I will learn the ins and outs of the school and how the kids operate, but like all things, it will take time. Until then, I will keep puttering along and praying for the best.