Friday, October 30, 2009

Turning Out the Lights

Today is my first free Friday night in months.  It's cold and windy and drizzly outside, but I get to stay inside.  Instead of missing dinner or having a granola bar, I get to go out to eat with a friend that I haven't seen forever.  I don't have to tape stinky feet.  I don't have to worry about anyone getting concussions, breaking bones or tearing muscles and ligaments.  

Why am I a little sad that football season is over? 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Coach and My Mom

My mom hates sports.  She tries to back off her opinions a little sometimes for us, given that the rest of us like to watch sports (not to mention that I'm an athletic trainer) but she hates them.  You can tell.  She hates the way that they become the all-consuming focus of the athletes.  She hates the amount of time that they suck away from family time.  She sees watching college/professional sports as a waste of time.  If you really want her to get going on a rant and rave, get her talking about trying to schedule things for religious ed (she's the director of religious education at their church).  The number of times that she's had to reschedule or that there is no available time to schedule something because of numerous sports activities has made her crazy.

Then there's Coach.  Keep in mind that I've only seen/talked to the man when there is a game or if an athlete is mentioned.  So I don't have the full story.  However, from what I've seen, this man thinks, breathes, eats and sleeps football all the time during football season.  I'm sure it tones down a little in the off-season, but given what the athletes tell me about the rest of the year, it's still there.  We had a big game the other night, substate playoffs.  I don't know who showed up to play that game, but it wasn't the team that I've watched the rest of the year.  Anyway, they're playing like they've never seen a football before, so you can imagine that the coaches were quite unhappy at half time.  Here's Coach's final remark to the team: "If you don't turn this game around, you'll be carrying this around like an 800-pound weight for the rest of your life!"

Uh, Coach?  I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Perspective.  Perspective has a lot of connections and can hook you up with some one-way tickets out of Crazyville.  Seriously.  Get to know him.*

I would like to propose a middle ground.  I love sports.  I'm not so good at playing them (not going to lie, I just never had that competitive spirit; I'd rather go hiking).  But I love them nonetheless.  In a world that wants to bubble wrap kids and protect them from all the bumps and bruises, there is something about football that is refreshing.  It is a chance for boys to be the boys they are meant to be.  Push themselves to be faster, stronger.  To be a little dangerous.  To sweat and bond as only males can bond.  I don't understand it, but I see it and it seems good to me.  Not only that, but look at the way sports can bring a town together; give them a common thing to cheer for.   

Learning to win and lose is so key as well.  Give me a team that claims to believe that "winning or losing doesn't matter, it's how you play the game" and I'll give you a team that's 0-for. You can't tell me they wouldn't be ecstatic to finally win a game.  Winning does matter.  It's just not the only important thing. It does matter how you play the game.  The boys this year won my respect for the way they played their first losing game.  How they played was more important than the ultimate outcome of the game.  I would like to say that the lessons from both winning and losing are invaluable.  Just keep in mind that it is a game, and don't get too caught up in wins or too devastated by losses.

On the other hand, sports are out of control.  The time and money that is spent on camps, equipment, work outs, and so forth is excessive.  It decreases family time together, and even little kids are spending more and more time at practice and games.  There is too much pressure on kids to be the best possible athletes and not enough on enjoying that time.  Also, God should always be the first priority, no matter what is going on in sports.

If I ever have kids, I want them to be able to participate in sports that they enjoy.  However, I think that it's really important to figure out the boundaries ahead of time.  Otherwise, it comes down compromising first one thing and then the other, and then sports are trying to fill a chasm in our hearts that only One can fill.

I think Gilbert Keith had it right again.  To paraphrase (because I'm too lazy to look it up): "People are often most right in what they affirm and wrong in what they deny."  

My mom is absolutely right that sports should not be a priority, but I think that she's wrong to deny the goodness in sports.

Coach is absolutely right that sports are a good thing, but I think he's denied other important aspects of life.  (Only in the way he approaches sports; again, I don't know him outside a sports setting.)

That's my opinion.  What do you think?

*It's possible that there was some exaggeration going on so he could make a point.  I mean, not that I would ever exaggerate, but I've heard that some people do.  (I've also never been sarcastic.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Parents' Gift

I was talking to a patient the other day, and she was telling a story of a practical joke her dad had played on her and her sister.  That led me to tell some of my own stories of what my dad as pulled.

Like the time he brought us cookies.  I thought it was odd that he brought them to us, but I tend not to question the hand that feeds me cookies. They tasted weird, but I didn't want to offend Dad (since he'd made them), so I ate it anyway.  He, on the other hand, couldn't believe my brother and I ate them without a word.  We'd forgotten it was April Fool's, and he'd sprinkled garlic salt on them!

Or the time that he got us our breakfast, and I was drinking my milk, only to find something weird and slimy in there.  I freaked out, Dad laughed and pulled the gummy worm out of the milk to eat it.  First I was grossed out because I still didn't know what it was.  Then I was sad because I wanted a gummy worm for breakfast.  (He had more where that one came from, and he shared.)

My mom was always the one that laughed or shook her head at my dad's antics.  

Like the time that we were at a hotel, and all woke up to find our shoes tied together in millions of little knots, even Mom's.  Everyone but Dad's.  That was hilarious, because we were too young to understand the concept of framing someone, and we did not believe Dad's protestations of innocence.  Good one, Mom.

Or how about the time when my mom told the story about when they were in college.  Several people were complaining about the cafeteria food, but my mom piped up and said it wasn't too bad.  In fact, she'd gained a few pounds on it.  (My mom is skinnier than me; you'd never find me admitting that!)  She shook her head and said that after that, everyone started calling her "Pudge."  Whenever she told that story, she always finished by saying, "I don't know for sure, but I think it was our friend Mike that started it.  He certainly said it the most."  I remember her telling this story a number of times, but this one time, there was just a little too long of a pause.  Something that she saw when she looked at my dad.  All of a sudden she yells, "You!  YOU started it?!  12 years of marriage, and I find out that you started that awful nickname?!"  She was laughing too hard to be that upset.

Anyway, I don't remember which stories that I told, but I know I mentioned the one about the hotel and the shoes, and the patient had a little kind of sad look in her eye.  She told me that her parents divorced when she was really young and she had no memories of them together.

I have honestly never thought what it might be like to have memories of times with my parents, but not of my parents' interaction with each other.  The security of having two loving parents in the home never looked quite the same as it did right then, when I saw the reflection of something completely different in my patient's eyes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm Not Bartimaeus

The Gospel this week was Mark 10:46-52.  By the grace of God, I was really paying attention and this reading was amazing.  (I've been really distracted recently.)

My head often skips to the end result: Jesus healed the blind man.  There it is.  That's the story.  

Sunday, by the grace of God, I heard a little more.  Bartimaeus was sitting by the side of the road.  Jesus and His followers were passing by.  Bartimaeus could have done a couple of things.  He could have sat quietly and let them pass.  He could have asked for some money.  But he didn't.  He cried out "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me."

I'm not Bartimaeus. There are a lot of times that I let Jesus and His many graces pass me by.  I may be vaguely aware they're there, or I may be oblivious because I'm too busy thinking about other things.  Whatever the case may be, I just let it pass.  

Other times, I cry out for the little things.  Begging for alms.  Fix this or that need.  Make me happy.  Keep me comfortable.  A lot of times, those are not bad things to ask for, just as it is not bad for a beggar to ask for food.  But this is Jesus.  That is thinking too small.

"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me."

Bartimaeus called out to Jesus by name, professed his faith by calling Jesus the "Son of David" (in other words, Bartimaeus recognized that Jesus was the Messiah), and asked for mercy. 

Think about this for a second.  Jesus knew that Bartimaeus was there all along.  Jesus knew that he was blind, and that he was poor.  Jesus knew that Bartimaeus needed so much more than mere physical sight, that his soul needed to be healed.  Yet Jesus waited for Bartimaeus to cry out.  Not only did Bartimaeus cry out, but he cried out enough times that "many" tried to quiet him.  Bartimaeus persisted and cried out louder.

I am not always Bartimaeus.  I'm learning to be more persistent, but sometimes what I do is ask God once.  Then I figure He knows where to find me, and I settle back down to wait.

Back to the story.  Jesus called to Bartimaeus.  I love that Jesus called him through others.  There have been a lot of times in my faith walk that Jesus has pulled me on through what others have taught me or said to me.  

Bartimaeus' response? "Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus."

I am SO not Bartimaeus.  In answer to Jesus' call, the beggar quickly threw aside anything that was holding him back and jumped up to come to Jesus. 

My response to Jesus' call? "Do I really have to get rid of this other stuff first?  I kind of like it.  Besides, you're God, you could fix it from there while I stay here.  If I have to give it up or let go of it for a time, I will, but I won't like it.  Oh, You want me to set it aside AND come over there. *Sigh*  That's going to be a lot of extra work for me, but I'll see if I can manage it."

I also love that Bartimaeus didn't decide to leave after he got his sight.  Instead, he followed Jesus.  I can't help but think if we only knew, we would realize that Bartimaeus' sight was most precious in the fact that it introduced him to Jesus.

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This Time It's for Real

When you have a 7:00 patient and you have to drive 20 minutes to get to the clinic, it's a real problem to wake up at 6:57 and realize that you forgot to set your alarm the night before.

Talk about adrenaline!  I panicked and started throwing on the closest clinic-appropriate clothes I could find.  I figured I could slap on deodorant, brush my teeth and hope for the best.  Luckily, I remembered that my patient rep/receptionist was going to be in early that morning, so I started to call her to let her know I would be late but was on my way.



The phone rang twice before I finally realized that it's Sunday, and she probably didn't want to hear from me at 7:00 am.  I hung up as quickly as I could and crawled back under the covers to hide from the world and my own stupidity.

Tomorrow it's for real.  I'm not dreading it quite as much as I normally do, because the alarm is already set.  I figure if I wake up and have time to shower and everything, it will be a great start to the week.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Drinking Blood

I have had two difficulties with the Eucharist in my life.  I don't call them doubts, because I always had confidence that the difficulties rested in my own lack of understanding rather than what the Eucharist was.

One of them was why would God ask us to eat His flesh and drink His blood?  I remember a priest once who was talking about practices of other churches.  He said we sometimes consider them weird or different.  Then he says "You think that's weird?  What about Catholics?  We get together every Sunday and eat our God! That's weird."

The other is the prohibition in Acts of the Apostles against drinking blood.  After the Council of Jerusalem, the Apostles decided that Gentiles that did not become Christian didn't have to follow the old law (specifically they didn't have to be circumcised), but they did maintain the prohibition against drinking blood.  When discussing the Eucharist with Protestant friends they pointed out that the Bible doesn't contradict itself (agreed), and therefore they said that the Eucharist was a very important symbol, but a symbol.  That way there is no contradiction between that prohibition against drinking blood, and Jesus' command to drink His blood.  I remember discussing this with my mom.  Her immediate response was, "Well, the Eucharist is an exception to that rule."  Yeah, I'm going to need a little more than that.

Okay, so there were my problems.  Why do I go to church every Sunday to eat my God?  And why is consuming the blood of Jesus an exception to the prohibition in Acts?*

The answer to both questions was the same one, and it was one that I got from my Christian, anti-Catholic, Judaism professor in college.  He had no idea that he was explaining some of the most amazing truth that I had ever heard about the Eucharist. He certainly had no idea he was answering questions that I had pondered for a couple of years at that point. Had the Eucharist actually been brought up, I'm sure he would have had a few things to tell me about why I was wrong.  All he was trying to do was to explain some of the cultural aspects of ancient Jewish customs.  That day, the discussion was about drinking blood.

In ancient times, there was a custom about blood that saw it as the life-force of the being, or the seat of life.  This makes sense.  If someone's "lifeblood" is spilled out, they die.  One of the things that ancient people would do is to drink the blood of some of what they killed, believing that it would give them the life, or the strength, or the power of that being.  Therefore, they might drink the blood of a bear or a bull or a lion, or even one of their enemies.

The Jews, however, with their view of one God, the creator of all things, had a prohibition against drinking blood.  This is because they saw God, and God alone, as the author of life.  The blood, the seat of life, was given to that one being by God.  It was intended for that one being only, and it was wrong to take it from that being in order to appropriate it for oneself.

I'm probably making a hash of explaining all this,  but that's when it finally all made sense.  Jesus, the author of life, was giving His very life to us in a very specific, tangible, real way.  No one was taking it from Him, but He freely chose to give it to us.  In drinking His blood, we do not diminish or take away His life as happens when you drink the blood of a fellow creature.  Rather, we receive true life. Beautiful, real, eternal, divine life.  

*I always accepted that it was an exception and didn't seriously consider the possibility that the Eucharist is just a symbol.  The reason is that I had already become convinced of the biblical reasons to believe in the True Presence, esp. with regards to John 6, and didn't think anything else made sense.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Am NOT an Adrenaline Junkie

I was talking to someone the other day that admitted to being "kind of an adrenaline junkie."  Oh, baby.  Not me.  Adrenaline stinks.  Makes me a little nauseous, actually.

Today was the last regular season game.  We're playing the team that we've tied for second in the district.  Winner gets a home game for the first round of playoffs.  My team started off well.  They played good football.  At half they were up.

Second half started out okay, but I could feel the adrenaline start to build.  See, this is what happens when you actually start to care about the team instead of just standing there to make a buck while hoping no one gets hurt.  It's their fault.  They sucked me in by the second game, so I can't help it now.  I started to get really nervous for them.  I knew the other team was going to come back hard.  I was nervous for the outcome of the game and for injuries.

And then it happened.  The QB got injured.  He's done for the game.  Probably done for the next. Then I have to deal with the injury, I feel awful for the poor kid, and there's a good chance he won't be back for the play off.  Our first string QB was out early in the season with a season-ending injury.  The back ups that they have for this kid; well, good luck making it out of the first round.  And they lost.  By one point.  

On the one hand, this is a great group of kids, and I hate to see their season end.  On the other hand, the sooner their season ends, the sooner I can leave some of the adrenaline behind.  Seriously, I have a lot to do tomorrow, and I want to go to bed, but the adrenaline will probably keep me wired for a while yet.

Stupid adrenaline.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One More Friday

I'm sitting here waiting for my laundry to finish up so I can go meet up with some friends.  Laundry had to come first today because I realized that I have nothing to wear to the game tomorrow.  It really bothered me to do the wash, though, because it's been raining nonstop for nearly 24 hours now, and it's supposed to rain tomorrow, too.  That means all my clean clothes will be nice and muddy by the end of tomorrow.

It's the last game of the regular season.  I'm excited to have Friday nights back (for a short while before basketball starts), but I've really liked working with this team.  There are some really good kids on it.  I hope that they can play a game or two into the post season, but we'll see how it goes.

So as I'm waiting, I'm thinking that one of the worst things about being single is dating.  Not to say that I have a lot of dates; far from it.  I just don't like it.  Okay, to be very specific, I don't like getting-to-know-you dates.  It's always a little awkward, I hate small talk, and I always feel pressure.  Everyone always wants to know what you think of the person.  Uh, what if I don't think anything?  I mean, if it's not a quality person, I'm not going to see him again, but if he is, I'll need some time to get to know him a little.  I know people that were immediately attracted to the person that they end up marrying.  I know that there are people that I have been attracted to immediately.  But in the normal course of events, you have to give it some time.

It turns out that when I say I want to meet someone special, what I really mean is that I would already like to know someone well enough to have a decent comfort level with them.  Skip the awkwardness all together.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Planting by Stealth

We had a long meeting the other night at church about what we are going to do over the next five years to help our parish grow.  It's growing very well right now, but our pastor is not one to rest; he's always looking for the next step.  Some of the stuff he had to say was very good, but in the small group that I was in, the deacon and his wife had some issues with the whole thing.

They want nothing to do with five year plans.  They simply want to plant the seeds of faith and let the Holy Spirit bring the growth.  I think that there is a place for five year plans, but I have to admit that I like the deacon's point a little better.  The funny thing is, he does kind of have a plan for his ministry (specifically RCIA and the youth group), he just doesn't look at it like that.

Moving beyond the meeting, he made me think about planting seeds.  I'm a fan of planting seeds.  It's fun.  Sometimes it's very conscious and purposeful.  Sometimes it just happens and you don't even know it.  I always bring up my Grandpa's Bible reading, but it was so huge in my life.  All the days of his life that he read the Bible, lived his faith simply and profoundly, but that one day I saw it, and that one day made a huge difference in my life.  I doubt he even knew it at the time, but that was one serious seed.

My favorite is the stealth seeds.  Those are the ones that you drop on unsuspecting folks and they don't even know it.  They might be friends, family, colleagues or complete strangers.  Sometimes you just have to unleash a sneaky prayer on their a... soul.  I don't know why I like it so much.  Maybe it's the older sister in me that likes to mentally hold it over them that I know something they don't know; they're getting divine assistance they never even realized. (Does that attitude completely ruin the prayer?) I like knowing that something is being done for them right now, whether they realize it or not.  I'm not talking about my measly little prayer.  I'm talking about God's capability and willingness to provide beyond all we ask or imagine.

So if you happen to think of it, drop some stealth seeds today.  But try not to be like me and gloat over your victims.  It really is in poor taste.  (Sorry to say that I will probably maintain my tastelessness unless someone releases some serious prayer bombs in my direction; that older sister stuff sticks tight.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wondering About Those Wandering Israelites

Do you ever read the Old Testament and wonder about how the Israelites could possibly keep making the exact same mistakes over and over again?  I mean, I read the OT sometimes and think that these people have to be a little crazy.  When they follow God, things go well.  When they don't, they end up in exile or their enemies come in and kill them all.  Or there's the fact of all the wonders God has performed, and they ignore that and sacrifice to other gods instead.  What's up with that?  How dense can they be?

When I start to look at the Israelites in that way, there are a lot of things that I forget.  For example, I forget all the times that God shows Himself to be worthy of my trust, and I doubt Him anyway.   I forget that if you want to start some finger-pointing, Catholics have sins in spades.

You know what else I forget?  I forget that they are the Chosen People.  That is who they are.  They are precious in God's sight, and they are His people because He chose them.  They are not the Israelites because of how they acted or didn't act.  It doesn't rest on them, it rests on Him.

I was thinking about this the other day because of all of the Catholics causing scandal.  I can read through blogs and news and find horrifying stories of what "Catholic" politicians are doing, or what past popes have done, or what priests have done.  Or simply what Catholics are not doing.  The fact that we can sit in our pews during Mass and look bored.  I was reading one blog of a man who was thinking about joining the Catholic Church, but he couldn't get past Catholics that had no love for their faith.

It's true that these things are bad, and it's no wonder that people are turned off by them.  Yet, if the Catholic Church is true, it doesn't rest on the Catholics to make it true.  If it is truly what it says it is, then it rests on Christ as its founder and the Holy Spirit as the guarantor of that truth.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday/Saturday

1) I realize that I'm a day late.  I'm also probably a dollar short.  It's the way I roll sometimes.  Still, I want to play, too, and it's the perfect day for some short, quick thoughts.  I don't even care that it's not Friday anymore.  So there.  You can go over to Jen's to see more Quick Takes.  Try not to be too judgmental of all the perfectionists that actually did their posts on Friday.

2)  Last night was a good night for football.  Cool, but not freezing.  It started to drizzle right as the game ended and the guys were shaking hands.  It was also an injury-free victory!  My favorite kind.  That means no clinic for me today, which is fantastic.

3)  Work has been... interesting, to say the least.  Not bad, but lots and lots of stuff going on.  I had a few extra hours this week, but no worries.  I'll have a few shorter days next week, so it all works out.  One of my bosses came down yesterday.  I like her more and more every time I spend a little time with her.  She is still a little intimidating sometimes, though, not going to lie.  She also re-arranged some stuff which involved a lot of unplugging and re-plugging in cords.  The upshot is that I currently have no fax or internet; so that really stinks.  In her defense, she's very competent with electronics.  Her thought is that there's something wrong with the DSL; my thought is that she's probably right, but I wouldn't know.  I'm not so competent with electronics.  I can run they work right.  I can set them up via step by step instructions.  I can't trouble shoot.

4) In the course of the craziness at work, my normal eating pattern has suffered.  I don't do well if you mess up my eating pattern.  Yesterday by 3:00 I hadn't had lunch yet.  Normally, when I wait too long for food, I get crabby and then I eat everything that holds still long enough.  Yesterday I had moved past that point.  I was at the point where I was so crabby that I was no longer in the mood to eat.  I realized that want to or not, I'd better get something.  I don't think the school has a contingency plan for if the trainer passes out from low blood sugar!  Actually, I doubt I'd pass out.  Thinking clearly and assessing injuries appropriately might be an issue.  Anyway, the moral of the story is: don't mess with my eating schedule!  My body is still confused today.

5) Today is the feast day for Ignatius of Antioch.  He's a very interesting Church father, and his writings were some of the first that I read.  There are interesting insights about the Eucharist and authority of the bishops.  In the light of my recent pope posts, there are also some interesting implications about the way he addresses his letter to Rome.

6) I'm really excited for this weekend.  Two whole days with nothing work related.  I plan to try to get a little cleaning done, because then my sisters are coming for a visit this evening.  Also fun times planned for tomorrow.  Even Monday I get to be done a little early and go catch up with a friend.  Bring it.  I'm ready!

7) I have to go now.  It's almost 11:00, and I need lunch.  My body's worried that it will be a repeat of yesterday.  It's probably not good that I'm in the mode of being ready to eat everything.  The good news is that I can't overdo it too much because I haven't had much time for grocery shopping either.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This Week

I am very tired and wildly unproductive.  It's kind of ridiculous.  For some reason this week is more than I can handle.  I'm at work for long hours, but I feel like I have tons of stuff still to do. Probably because I can't get anything done.  I come home and I do absolutely nothing.  And I go to long, drawn out meetings.  I hate meetings.  I'm not a fan of the 2nd week of the month when all my meetings are.  I don't like Medicare red tape.  I hate being between receptionists.  Do you ever click too many things on your computer and it can't handle it all so it freezes?  That's my brain on this week.  I think it will probably implode soon and melt out my ears.  The weird thing is, it hasn't really been a bad week or anything.  I just can't get a handle on it, so I feel overwhelmed.  Maybe it will get better if I can make it through tomorrow.  No worries, just a 15 hour day with a fill-in receptionist that does very little work, quality time with one of my bosses while we interview new receptionists (one of whom will hopefully last longer than 2 weeks), and enough paperwork to kill a forest!  With a nice little relaxing football game to top it all off.  That I think they need to win to get into the state play offs, so they'll be playing rough.  And it's supposed to rain.

I know that's a really run-on paragraph with very little coherency.  I don't care.  It's all I've got.  There's a reason I haven't subjected you to many blog posts this week. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Keeper of the Keys

This is the post I've been meaning to write.  Actually, I've started my last 3 posts with that title, and have then had to change it.  I also started my last post with that 1st sentence that then had to change it when I found myself on a different track yet again.  I don't know for sure, but I think this is it for real this time.  I'm confident that this is it.  I think.

What do you know about kingdoms in the Middle East in the 1st century?  I don't know much, but what I've learned is interesting.  A city had to be fortified by a wall. This wall kept the intruders out, especially those that would be a danger to the city and its inhabitants.  Letting in the wrong people could be disastrous, as the people of Troy found out.

Who decides who gets to come in and who will be denied entry?  Ultimately, it's the king.  I'm not sure of the whole process; my guess would be that he would leave standing orders as to who could enter and who couldn't.  When the king was away, this task of deciding who would enter and who would not falls to the keeper of the keys.  Now, the keeper is not deciding based on his own choice, but based on what the king would want.

In the Israelite kingdom, the keeper of the keys became the position that was held by the second in command.  I'm can't remember what the official title was, but the type of position would be the same as what Joseph had in the house of the pharaoh.  When the king would have to be gone to war or whatever, they couldn't call him up to ask for his decision on things, so they would have to rely on the king's trusted second in command.

When Jesus promised Peter the keys, He was giving him an office.  Not only that, but it was an office that required succession.  For me, there is a passage in Isaiah that sheds some light on this whole thing.

In chapter 22, God sends Isaiah to Shebna, the steward, to tell him that he will be cast down for the evil he has done.  However, notice that it is a necessary office.  Therefore, when Shebna is thrust from the office, Eliakim will take his place.

Verses 20-22:
"In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah.  I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him.  He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.  I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."

I also think of Lord of the Rings sometimes when I am thinking about the office of the pope.  In Minas Tirith, the steward and his family ruled the kingdom for many years while the king was away.  That always strikes me as the situation that we have here on earth while the King reigns in heaven.  It is not that our King is not present, like an earthly king who can't be in two places at once.  However, even though Jesus is present, He has left us someone that will be a father to us ("pope" comes from a Greek word meaning "papa" or "father").  Someone who has the authority to definitively make statements about matters of faith and morals; to definitively "open" or "shut" a matter.

To sum up my inadvertent series on the pope:

The pope is infallible, but he is not perfect.

The pope does not make things up on his own, but relies on what is revealed to him by the Father.  Also, he is generally not the only one to realize these things, but is the spokesperson for the whole Church, and the one with the authority to settle a question when there is confusion.

The pope's job is to defend the truth, not to make it up.

The pope is not the ultimate head of the Church, Jesus is.  The pope is the steward here on earth who has the task of guiding the Church while we wait for Jesus' return.


Wow!  That really was the post that I meant to write!  I know that I haven't been the best at giving sources, but a great resource is Jesus, Peter and the Keys by Butler, Dahlgren and Hess. I wouldn't say that it's the most fun read ever, but it does all those scholarly things like give references and builds an explanation based sources and all that good stuff.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt

Seriously.  I don't know what the deal is.  I was working with a kid last night that got his bell rung a little.  After I tell coach, I'm working with him.  He seemed fairly okay, but he was getting a little on the goofy side.  Part of that's because of his personality, so it was hard telling, but I kept going with trying to assess him.  Suddenly I hear the announcer saying something about one of our players going down on the last play.  Dang it!  Not only does that mean that I have another injured player, but it also means that I'm not on top of what's going on on the field.

Guess what player #2's problem was? A concussion.

How does that work?  No concussions all year so far and then two in one night?  What is up?  I hate concussions.  They're unpredictable, and they can get really serious really fast.  I don't even know what happened in the 4th quarter because I was too busy trying to take care of my two head cases.  As things were wrapping up, and the sidelines were emptying to go shake hands with the other team, I look up to see two players helping another teammate off the field.  Again, didn't see a thing that happened because of my other distractions.  

Guess what his problem was?

Guess again; it was a sprained ankle.  A wonderful, glorious, pedestrian sprained ankle.  A couple of minutes to sit and catch his breath and let the pain subside, an elastic wrap, instructions to ice, and he's on his way.  A little gimpy, but not bad.

I missed college last night!  We always had 3-4 trainers at a game. Which meant that one or two people could deal with an injury and the others could still be watching the game.

I know we won, but I don't know what the score was.  I've never seen Coach so mad when we were winning a game.  They were having equipment problems that they couldn't seem to get straightened out.  He was also mad because when player #1 first told me about some of his symptoms, it was right before coach tried to put him back in.  I said no, and I got yelled at because he needs to know those things right away.  Yeah, coach, I know.  Sorry, it was 30 seconds, and I did tell another one of your coaches first.  He calmed down when I told him I had just found out.  He was not very happy after the game because concussion boys are out for at least a week. And I think I lost not one, but two pairs of scissors in all the confusion.

On a more positive note, the smell in my apartment is decreasing, the battery's back in the smoke detector, and all is well there.   

I'm Disturbed

It's before 6 on a Saturday and I'm awake.  Even worse, the reason that I'm awake is that my smoke detector was going off.  Even worse, something really does smell hot.  I can't figure out what it is, though.  My furnace had just kicked on for the first time, so I turned it off.  Maybe that's it?  I've wandered through every room, and I can't find anything.

I don't know what to do next, so I went with blogging.  For some reason there's a little voice in my head.  I can't make out everything it's saying, but the words "dim bulb" are pretty clear...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another Pope Post

A CEO may be someone who has created a company and built it from the ground up.  He can make up the rules and run it how he likes, because it's his company.

The pope is not a CEO.

A king, in the traditional sense, is someone that runs a country.  He has a certain obligation to take care of his people, but he can also make laws as he sees fit, because he is the final authority in his country.

The pope is not a king.

A dictator also has full control of a country.  What he says, goes.  His citizens don't have a choice in the matter.

The pope is not a dictator.

Before you can understand the authority of the pope, you have to understand how the pope is like a scientist.  A scientist does not make up the laws of gravity, he merely seeks to understand them.  He does not decide what our genetic make up is, he just figures out what is already there.  The discoveries of science build on one another, so that earlier discoveries help us to make more advanced discoveries.  Sometimes we realize that what we thought we understood we later realize that we were missing some critical information that changes things.  Gradually the things that we understand first about science are the things that we are able to classify as scientific laws. 

This messy process is much like the process of the faith.  All the discoveries of science have been there from the foundation of the world, waiting to be discovered.  The truth, once it was definitively revealed by Christ, has been there waiting to be more fully understood.  The pope, the Magisterium, and all the members of the Church enter into this process of discovering, deepening our understanding of the truth, and living it out in greater detail.

The analogy is not perfect.  Faith and science are beautifully compatible, but one is not the other.  Another way to look at it is that the pope and Magisterium are like the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court's job is to look at how cases and laws fit with the Constitution.  As the cases are very dynamic and not always black and white, the Supreme Court has to look to precedent in order to give a definitive, authoritative ruling on a case.  This is what the authority of the Church allows it to do.  As we face an ever changing world, the Church is able to look back at the precedents set from the beginning to understand how to respond to the ever changing needs of the people of the Church.

Again, the analogy is not perfect, but I hope it helps to give a little different perspective on the papacy, though I recognize that it proves nothing.  I also recognize that there are a lot of similarities between the pope and other types of rulers/leaders, so I'm not trying to do away with those comparisons; just point out that the papacy is not quite the same thing as the other examples.

Notice that we didn't finish the discussion about the verses of Matthew.  I started to, I really did! But this came out instead, so I let it.  Which means that there is still one more post about the papacy before I'm done. (Um, at least one more.  Who knows?  I've meant to write that other post a few times now, and this is what I get instead.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pope Post #3

Let's talk Matthew 16:16-19.  You knew we had to go there eventually if we were going to be talking about the pope.  There's really no way around it.  Wait, let's start with verse 13, rather than 16.  There's some stuff there that I like also.

Who is Jesus?  It's a very valid question that needs a solid answer.  I love looking at the responses: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.  These responses are not coming from the people that were against Jesus.  His enemies thought He was or had a demon.  This uncertainty about who He was was coming from His followers.  

He had been gradually revealing the truth about who He really was throughout the gospels.  He was the Messiah the whole time, but His followers didn't fully recognize it at first, and He gave them time to gradually come to that understanding.  Now it was time for a definitive statement, and it came from Peter: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

There are likely reasons that Peter was the one that spoke.  It's clear that he was often the spokesperson, and it may be for as simple a reason as he was the oldest of the disciples.  Peter came to this conclusion through his observations of Jesus, probably through his knowledge of the Torah, and through gradually deepening understanding of these things.  That is to say, these are the things that prepared his heart for greater understanding.  Because only God, in granting him the light of faith, could allow him to see the truth of the statement that he was able to make.

I'd be willing to bet that Peter was not the only one that had come to realize this.  It was probably bouncing around in the heads of some of the other disciples as well.  Some may have already come to believe it, and others may have just started to ask themselves "Could it be?" But Peter was the one to answer.

I think that it's interesting that this is how the papacy and the magisterium often works.  When a subject comes up for whatever reason, there are a lot of people throwing out different ideas about a topic.  Many of the ideas have merit, but what's the definitive answer?  That's where we turn to the pope for answers. Keep in mind that the pope is not necessarily the only one that has reached this answer, but he is the one that has been given the authority to answer the question in a way that we can all listen to with confidence.  Also keep in mind that he didn't make up the answer.  He may have spent a lot of time in study and prayer to reach the answer, and ultimately it is God that helps him to understand the answer.

I guess that's just verses 13-17.  I think this is going to have to extend to pope post #4 for the next few verses.  I'm not sure how long this is going to go on; because this still isn't the post that I really wanted to write!  I keep getting sidetracked.  How does that happen?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Infallibility vs. Impeccability

I was talking to a good friend of mine about my thoughts about Rob Bell and the pope.  As we were talking about the papacy, she brought up some of the differences as to how she sees the papacy now, compared to how she saw it before she became Catholic.  And that brings us to this post today.

The papacy is something that people love to hate.  Or to distrust.  Who is the pope to decide what's right and what's wrong?  Why should he have definitive say over what teachings are true and which are false?  And where does that leave the poor Catholic in the pew?  All well and good when you have great popes like JPII and some of the recent popes, but what about Catholics in the Middle Ages?  Because there were some popes at that time that were seriously bad news.  These Catholic schmucks just have to follow along, like it or not.

First of all, I have to clear up a few things about infallibility.  I may have talked about it before, but it bears repeating.  Infallibility is not the same as inspiration.  If I was infallible in physics, and I took a 100 question test, how many answers would I get correct?

Wait for it...

And the answer is: depends on how many questions I answered.  If the Holy Spirit helped me to be infallible on that test, I would still have to study.  I might not understand all the concepts at the time of the test.  I might make some mis-steps in some of my calculations along the way.  It only means that when I eventually arrive at the answer, He would preserve that final answer from error.  Therefore, I could be infallible on the test, but only answer 22 questions.

Infallible teaching is not what the pope wakes up and decides to impose on Catholics that day.  It is a long process that involves careful study, prayer, many great minds, and often centuries of contemplation of a subject in all its subtle nuances.

Infallibility does not mean that the pope will always teach the right thing at the right time, only that when he does teach infallibly, those teachings will be free from error.  It doesn't mean that the pope himself will always hold infallible beliefs.  I will never forget one of my history books discussing a pope that had heretical views, but was so busy in his debauchery that he never got around to formally propagating those beliefs.  Or the pope that was going to place his stamp of approval on a Bible translation that was clearly full of error, but died before he could do it.  I am not claiming that the Holy Spirit was directly responsible for either one of those (especially not the debauchery!) but the point is that the pope is not personally infallible.

Finally, it decidedly is NOT the same thing as impeccability (sinlessness).  JPII went to confession weekly I believe.  Even those popes who set forth a truly holy example of how to live are still human and still fall short.  Also, plenty of popes were clearly a lot less holy than your average Joe.  Not the majority, but enough of them.  

Right, so here's another post about the pope, and it's not at all the post that I wanted to write at the end of my last post! I guess that means there's still another pope post to come.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rob Bell and the Pope

I've been hearing more about and reading more of Rob Bell in the last week or so, and that got me thinking about the pope.  There's no obvious connection there, but that's how I roll. (It's also why people get lost when trying to follow my train of thought.  Go figure.)  If you haven't heard of Rob Bell, he's the author of Velvet Elvis and Sex God and he is also a pastor of a church in Michigan.  I don't know what all his views are, but it was interesting doing a YouTube search on the guy, because he's rather controversial.  There are a lot of people that disagree with the stuff that he says, but there are also a lot of people that are listening.  I started reading Sex God and there was a lot of stuff in there that I liked.  Then I read some stuff at his church's website, and I definitely was uncomfortable with parts of it.

And that started me thinking about the pope, naturally.  Well, maybe it wasn't so natural.  Maybe I was already thinking about the pope, so the two got connected in my head?  To be honest, I'm not sure exactly why they came together in my head.  But let's take JPII.  He and Rob Bell had some ideas in common that they could have had some interesting discussions about.  There are definitely some strong similarities between Sex God and Theology of the Body. (I really want to know if Bell had done any study of TOB, because of some of the similarities).  

Rob Bell knows that he does not have any pope-like authority.  I saw one video where he points out that he is one person in the dialogue presenting his views as part of the discussion. He is not trying to claim that he knows it all.  On the other hand, who does he answer to?  Where are the boundaries for his teachings?  Where does he just push the envelope, and where does he flat out jump over the cliff?  He does a great job of studying and presenting his ideas. People can agree, disagree, whatever, but he is influencing them.

The pope, on the other hand, does have the authority of the pope.  When JPII taught the TOB, he had a lot of authority behind his catechesis.  This is not an infallible teaching, but when the pope is teaching something we do well to listen.  The thing is, for all his authority, he also has very clearly defined boundaries.  He can wander around through the teachings of the Church, making new connections and making a whole new generation understand those teachings in a whole new way, but he can't change those teachings.  He can't go against them.  He can't cross those boundaries. When he is teaching people, he has to answer to those boundaries.  Those boundaries are bigger than the office of pope. 

Now that I think about it, that's probably what made me connect Rob Bell and the pope.  I was enjoying some of Bell's teachings, while getting a headache trying to figure out exactly what seemed a little off about some of his other thoughts, and wishing that there were boundaries.

That makes me want to write another whole post about the pope.  I think I will.  

Saturday, October 3, 2009

When PT's Act Like God

I don't mean that in a cocky way... I'm a PT, not a surgeon!  It's just that the other day there was a situation in the clinic that made me think of the spiritual life.  What can I say?  That's where my head goes.

Here's what happened.  I have this patient that had surgery almost 2 months ago.  She was really starting to fall behind where she should be in terms of strength and so forth, and I was desperately trying to figure out how to get her moving forward again.  She was frustrated, because she worked and worked at home and still wasn't getting the results.  The last time she came in, there were finally some better results!  She came in beaming, and showed me how she could finally do all these exercises.  She wanted to know if I was proud of her, and I was.  I really was.

And then I immediately made all of her exercises harder.

She pouted a little (in a teasing way; she's a really fun person to work with).  She told me that if she came back in a year and showed me how well she could run, I would just ask why she wasn't running marathons yet.  She said I'd never be happy.

Have you ever felt like God was doing that to you?  Spiritually, you grow closer and closer to Him.  Then, when you finally feel like you're getting somewhere, He makes it harder. It's happened to me, and you better believe I pout.  It's situations like these that remind me why He does that.  I'm really happy that my patient made all those improvements.  But she couldn't stop there.  She still has a way to go.  Each improvement is only a stepping stone to the next rehab goal. With every improvement my patient makes, I'll make it harder for her.  I'll see it as a sign of progress, and she may see it as going from something that she could do to something that she can't do.

Now if I can just remember when I'm struggling with something and it gets harder, God may see my failings as progress, as long as I keep working.  He's happy that I'm closer to Him, but He knows that I'm not yet as close to Him as I would like to be.

Fall Is Here

For real, it's fall now.  It's not just that the leaves are changing, it's getting cooler, and we're over halfway through the football season.  We had  a fall rain the last couple of days.  You know, the cold kind.  I'm getting chills just thinking about it.

For those that are doing the math, 

fall rain
Friday night
fun football game

(Where fun is equivalent to kind of wet and miserable.)

I had to take the bus last night because my car and I are in a fight. (It hasn't driven right since I got new tires...I didn't trust it for a 2 hour round trip.)  The bus is just awkward.  I'm sitting behind the coaches and the one in front of me kept leaning toward the two in front of him, so that eliminated casual conversation.  Other than that, I was surrounded by two student managers and JV football players.  I probably made it way more awkward than it had to be by not saying much of anything, but I had nothing to say!  It turns out that I'm really horrible about small talk.  Apparently I want purpose and substance to my conversations.  The purpose can be nonsense and joking around, provided that I know the person well enough, but I hate making small talk for the purposes of talking.

Anyway, by now I'm sure you can see that any and all bus awkwardness is squarely on my shoulders, and we can move on.

When we left the school, there was a soaking rain.  When we got where we were going, it was a mist that was still soaking and almost rain, but not quite.  The building with the locker rooms was not made for our set up (football team and a female athletic trainer) so they had to bring the taping table outside and set it under an eave against the building.  Taping in the rain.  Good times.

The field itself was set in a depression, so it was a game of mud football.  Imagine a football field set up like a soup bowl.  Add two days of rain, and then think about the sidelines with all kind of football players stomping around in cleats. At one point, a couple of the guys looked at me and said "You don't get paid enough for this, huh?"

We laughed, but they didn't understand.

It was pretty cold, but I had enough layers that I didn't get to that chilled point where you feel like you will never be warm again.  The rain stopped in the second half, and it wasn't quite as bad.  Also, there is nothing more miserable than a game like that if you don't have a stake in it, but by now this is my team and my athletes, so I care and can deal with the conditions.  Even taping in the rain wasn't too bad.  We were sheltered enough from the wind and rain, I really didn't get cold then.  Also, I get highly amused by football players that go out and give and take hard hits for 40 minutes, but complain about cold toes.

The only thing that I don't get paid enough to deal with are the student managers.  An hour of non-stop talking on the way to the game. Two hours of non-stop talking and complaining about the cold prior to the game. (And I have NO sympathy for you being cold if you wear your new jeans with the big holes because you think they're cute.)  Two hours of the game of taking three people to do the job of one or two.

For some reason, they don't seem to think I like them all that much.  It may just be because I don't have too much to say sometimes, and they can't seem to comprehend that kind of behavior.  Silence?  What's that?  It must only come with drastic measures of dislike.

Then again, they could be right.  They may not be my favorite people to be around.  Stay far enough away and we'll get along fine.  (I know.  I'm so mature, right?) Maybe I'm just being unreasonable.  You tell me.  Am I asking too much of them if I want them to stop talking long enough to FILL THE WATER BOTTLES?  I dunno, maybe take a break long enough to do their JOB? A couple of them do pretty well, but there are five. and the giggling and high-pitchedness and the goofy flirty-ness hurt my head.

Managers aside, it was a good game.  We won, no injuries, and by staying on the sides of the soup bowl, my socks were only slightly damp rather than royally soaked.


The other day, when I was writing about some of the generational differences in how we see faith, I want to make clear that both my mother and grandmother have a beautiful, living faith and a deep love for God.  In no way do I want to say that my faith is better than theirs.  How can it be?  If not for them and their faith, where would mine be?  God has truly used them as an instrument in my life to help my faith be what it is.  

In a way, that's part of what boggles my mind so much about Theology of the Body.  How can it bring such a fundamental difference to the way I see the world compared to those of deep faith that have not been able to study it as in depth?  TOB is truly a great gift.

Saturday Evening Blog Post

It was actually kind of difficult to pick one post from September that meant a lot to me, because there were several.  I went with Liturgy and Me because I've been thinking a lot about the liturgy recently and about how it fits into our lives.  Specifically, why it would be important to have specific worship rather than more spontaneous worship.  This post doesn't include it all, but is a part of it.  

Other bloggers have linked some of their favorite posts of the month over at Elizabeth Esther's Saturday Evening blog post, so you can head over and check it out!