Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

On this Labor day I talk about a something many who labored hard in the past dreamed of

Only people who have no grasp of history fail to appreciate it.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Jesus via Matthew 6:19-21

My oldest son turns 30 next week and when I was writing my under the fedora piece for today (that is going up tomorrow instead) I touched on a story that brought this to mind.

Back in 2009 he had been offered a big scholarship to Anna Maria college and we went to visit the place. What I saw at the “catholic” college was less that overwhelming:

My problem with the place is one of my pet peeves. The college is a Catholic College There are old crosses on buildings and portraits of older bishops in one or two places, but I saw nothing affirming their Catholic identity. No portrait of the pope, no schedule of Masses (although they do offer daily Mass).

There were pictures celebrating the new president all over the place, banners celebrating diversity, announcements of the woman’s study courses but nothing on the March for Life later this month in Washington. The concert was a “holiday” concert. In the Anna Maria in the news bulletin board at the admissions office there was an article talking about protesting the pope in the US. That was the extent of any recent mention of religion.

Of course that was written in the days when “Is the Pope Catholic” was a one liner rather than a legit question but I digress…

When he was offered a full boat at the local Fitchburg State college (before it became Fitchburg University) which never pretended it wasn’t a secular organization he jumped at it allowing him to live at home and continue in our parish where his faith was well formed. I was going to let it go at that until we got a letter from the Bishop congratulating us on being accepted at Anna Maria and the Scholarship and the importance of a Catholic education.

At that point I wrote a letter to the Bishop that said in part:

We were excited when Sam was accepted at Anna Maria; even more so when they offered the largest (in dollars) scholarship of any of the nine colleges that have accepted and attempted to recruit him. We looked forward to the visit to the college and liked the prospect of a college that would expand both his faith and his educational horizons.

Then we actually visited the college.

Comparing your description of the college as a “great example of a Catholic institution…” and my experience I thought of George Weigel’s line commenting on the differing press releases concerning Speaker Pelosi visit to the Holy See: “Were Benedict XVI and Nancy Pelosi in the same meeting, or even in the same city?”

it continued:

When I talked to the gentleman from admissions after the tour he informed me that this was not unusual at Catholic colleges and seemed to stress diversity rather than the Catholic identity, in fact seemed happy to reassure the next visiting student that he would not have to take any courses having to do with religion. Continuing my quote from the blog:

…It would be nicer if Catholic identity actually meant something. I’ve spent much more than I can afford over the last 10 years giving my sons a Catholic education. If I’m going to spend a whole lot more for a Catholic College then I expect a Catholic College.

I can’t reconcile your description of Anna Maria with what I saw and I can’t believe you would make that description after visiting the college yourself. While academically I believe it would be strong I don’t believe attending would foster his faith, in fact I suspect if he choose to wear his faith proudly it would go hard on him there.

The Bishop forward my letter to the president of the college who wrote me to dispute my impression and I posted both letters on the blog trusting readers to make their own decision.

Because I was referencing this story in the post I took the liberty of visiting the Anna Maria Web site curious if things had changed in twelve years and under a different president.

The front page like many sites has a rotating gallery highlighting many different things none of them involving the faith and while on other tabs you could find a reference particularly on the Campus Ministry page you will be hard pressed to find a sign of it. For the fun of it I did a search for the phrase: “Jesus Christ” on the site here were the results:

search result 7/10/21 10:20 am

two of those are blog posts from 2020 and the other two are programs offered.

Now if you search for “diversity” however…

Search 7/10/21 10:24 AM

You’d have to go to additional pages to see all the results you can find but I figured the 1st page was enough to make my point. If you search for LGBT…

search result 7/10/21 10:26 AM

Well at least Jesus does equally as well as LGBT in the search results. I’ll wager there are plenty of Catholic Colleges where he doesn’t.

Well that’s Anna Maria College 12 years later. As for my son twelve years later last week I had a rare Sunday off and so I had the pleasure of my wife and sons all with me at the 6 PM mass at our parish. Neither of my sons received communion but both went up to the priest arms crossed for a blessing. When the mass was over they asked him for confession. When they had both received the sacrament the pastor took them to the tabernacle and they received Holy Communion after mass. I can imagine my mother & father punching the air in heaven at this and as their dad I can’t adequately state how proud I was to see this.

The best non-decision my wife and I ever made still remains not moving to the Portland Oregon area after our Honeymoon there 33 years ago but I’m thinking giving Anna Maria a miss twelve years ago comes in as a pretty solid second.

I have a hatred of thieves that comes from personal experience.

It had been my dram as a kid to own a comic book store and in 1985 long before the days when Chuck Lorie & Jim Parsons would make it cool, I opened that store at age 22 having saved enough between setting up at flea markets as soon as I was old enough to drive and working full time at Raytheon in the Scientific Computer C/enter to do so without debt.

Alas even in those pre-gang and pre-drug days of Fitchburg my store was broken into regularly and stock (mainly baseball cards) whose bubble was just beginning) stolen.

The police were rather indifferent on the subject as it was “only” baseball cards. Neither the fact that I had paid cash for them nor my lack of insurance didn’t seem to provide any motivation on the cases.

After the seventh time I was hit my big brother arranged for a friend to weld an iron gate over the front door that I would secure nightly with a large iron chain put on my front door (we used to call it the home of the caged collectables after that) until a car taking the corner of the street too fast crashed into it and took out my gate and door.

It was a discouraging thing and it put me in a big hole for a long time which caused a lot of tension early in my marriage. When a large established comic book store bought out my competition (which had suddenly opened a month ahead of me just after I bought a large collection which delayed my open opening but that’s another story…) my days were numbered.

This is the origin of my visceral hatred of thieves. To this day the easiest way to activate my temper and one of the things I find hardest as a Christian to forgive is stealing from me, even if it’s just food from the fridge at work.

But I’ll say one thing for the thieves and gate crashers that helped put me in the hole that I was never able to climb out of and the police that never found any of my stock or the people who stole it and even for the people that broke into the indoor flea market where I set up with a stock of Magic Cards years after I closed my business to rob my booth and my booth alone or even the folks who for a while at work found it amusing to steal the lunch of the only white guy in my building not in management before the camera were installed in the new building

None of them after having robbed me or aiding and abetting or covering up for those who did or being completely indifferent to my being robbed when it was their duty to right that wrong insisted that I publicly declare that I was never robbed nor put a disclaimer on my statements that I was.

If you wonder why my tolerance of the left has evaporated over the last few months, wonder no more.

“Quite obviously you don’t think alike,” Kirk said, “or both of you would have offered that remark simultaneously and in the same words.”

“True but not relevant, Captain, if I may so observe,” said Spock Two, “Even if we thought exactly alike at the moment of creation of the replicate, from then on our experiences differ slightly —beginning, of course, with the simple difference that we occupy different positions in space-time. This will create a divergence in our thinking which will inevitably widen as time goes on.”

“The difference, however, may remain trivial for some significant time to come.” said Spock One.

“We are already disagreeing, are we not?” Spoke Two said coldly, ‘That is already a nontrivial difference.”

James Blish Spock Must Die 1970

This was a piece of advice that came up in conversation with a couple who have been married 47 years who my wife and I was visiting. I was so impressed with this piece of advice that it is our final piece of advice.

“When you have something to convey to your partner, when you’ve told them, ask him or her to repeat back what they understood you to say, not what they heard you say but what they understood you to say.”

No matter what the culture or academics say men and women are different but more than that PEOPLE are different and understand things differently. You can have five eye witnesses to an event and each will have a different spin on what they saw.

People in a marriage are no different, they have different backgrounds, different experiences and different way of looking at things, they can see and hear the same thing and come back with totally different interpretations of it.

So when you say something that’s really important don’t assume he or she thinks you mean what YOU think you mean. Ask them to say how they took it.

This has the potential to save days of potential arguments.

My thanks to Mar Mar and Mike for this input. I wish I had heard it 30 years earlier.

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