An Intentional Advent (So far!)Advent is here and I can happily say, perhaps for the first time, that we were ready for it and are off to a strong start.
First off, before Advent even began we reaffirmed our normal daily spiritual regimen, normalizing our schedules and re-prioritizing our time. In the morning we do our best to eat breakfast together, read the mass readings aloud, and say a few short prayers asking for an increase in virtue – especially patience, fortitude, humility, and charity – and for openness to whatever conversion of heart God has in mind for the day. At noon I say the Angelus, praying specifically for my wife Teresa, and we say it aloud if we are together. In the evenings we do our best to have a sit-down dinner, say a rosary afterwards, and keep the tv off if it is a weeknight. Finally, Teresa and I have a few night prayers we say together based on compline.
For the Advent season we have added and emphasized a few things:
1) Teresa created a red and green advent “chain” out of construction paper. Each link contains a scripture reading and activity for every day leading up to Christmas. We remove one link in the morning at breakfast and read the scripture at the end of dinner.
2) For every day of Advent, we chose a family member or relative to spend the day praying especially for.
3) We firmed up our normal commitment to limiting tv watching to the weekends. Additionally, we went ahead and cancelled Netflix and Hulu (our sources of tv) and will be instead watching a few Christmas or saint movies on the weekends. ( Though, of COURSE, we planned an exception to see the Hobbit at the move theater with our Faith on Tap group)
4) Finally, Teresa made a concerted effort to plan and research Advent and Christmas themes ahead of time so that we could be very mindful of and engaged with the liturgical season. For example, she has had us read excerpts from books and articles on Christmas traditions in other countries and the meanings of Christmas symbols.
How is your Advent going? If you haven’t yet started preparing for Christmas, it is not too late!
Real books vs ebooks
The other day I was helping a friend and colleague get the .epub version of his book ready for publication. At one point in our email exchange, he noted that he didn’t think he’d ever grow accustomed to ebooks. My reply turned into a couple of paragraphs that sum up my current feelings well:
“I agree with you on ebooks. I started reading them for a short stint and gave up. I like a physical tome I can touch, feel, and smell . The physicality of the book makes a far greater impression on all of my senses, without which I have great trouble focusing on the text, integrating it, making connections, keeping it all in context, and recalling information after I finish. I also can’t stand to read without a pen or pencil in my hand for underlining.
These may be learned dependencies, but I also feel that the ebook is less “mine” than a physical book. If the power runs out, or my device breaks, my ebook is gone. I value real property as opposed to transient (which is also why I am determined to get and stay out of debt, own my own house and land someday, and yes, have a giant library for my children to explore).”
I like ebooks like I like the telephone. It is useful and better communication than none, in a pinch, but it will never take the place of the physical presence of another person.
How do you feel about physical vs “e” books? How do you feel about “owning” digital media – mp3’s, mp4’s, digital photos, ebooks – vs owning physical media – books, physical photos, etc?
Speaking of books….
This has (or has not, depending on the perspective) been a great week for my bibliophilia. I have been going…. to…. TOWN on PaperBackSwap.com and received a couple amazon purchases in the mail this week also.
What are you reading these days? (My favorite question to ask anyone)
Out of all the topics on my mind of late – gospel poverty and simplicity (via, Fr. Dubay’s “Happy Are You Poor”), the Distributism of Chesterton and Bellock, local economies, rustic living, real food, the importance of family and community, etc – a strong, concrete desire has surfaced regarding the legacy I hope to pass on to children and grandchildren.
Two items in particular: A homestead and a library.
The more I ruminate on how best to both teach my children the content of the Catholic faith as well as to give them the best possible chance of falling in love with goodness, truth, and beauty, these two items, a homestead and a library, keep coming to mind and refusing to leave. More about this later.
The natural defence of Freedom is the Home; and the natural defence of the Home is the Homestead. The Family, not the Individual, is the unit of the nation. As Political Economy is the child of Domestic Economy, all laws that weaken the Home weaken the nation. Father Vincent McNabb O.P. (1868-1943)
I am a big fan of Mumford and Sons. They have a great, rustic, moving, folk-rock sound and just some of the most beautiful, rich, erudite lyrics you’ll find. One of their bigger hits, “The Cave”, references Plato’s famous allegory, the Odyssey, and, some argue, bits of G.K. Chesterton’s “Francis of Assisi”.
Anyhow, it was pointed out on Facebook recently that Marcus Mumford is indeed a fan of G.K. Chesterton.
“It’s (The Outline of Sanity’ by G.K. Chesterton) changed my life quite a lot, it’s fairly serious, it’s somewhat political, and is my first dip into these rather dizzying and very terrifying waters. But it has gripped me and inspired me and said things I haven’t known how to say but that I feel quite strongly, and so thought it was appropriate for the Book Club.” – Marcus Mumford
And later that year…
“Suffice to say it’s [The Outline of Sanity] changed my life; but I don’t expect it to, or even feel that it must, have the same effect on everyone! I think even if you disagree vehemently with what GKC puts forward, it’s still a really refreshing experience to read such well considered and intriguing lines of argument. Especially now, on pretty hot topics like ‘big vs small business’, ‘private vs public ownership’, ‘the man-made vs the natural’, etc. The actual political ideal of Distributism, I’m still getting my head around, if I’m honest. But his thinking and his writing are just plain bitchin, in my very humble opinion!” – Marcus Mumford
This was great to see. One always got the sense that there was some real substance behind the lyrics and themes of much of their music. Hope they keep reading!
Science Fiction/Fantasy News
– Thus far I have consciously been ignoring any reviews coming out regarding the new Hobbit movie. We are going to see it this weekend with our Faith on Tap group (as I mentioned earlier).
When a beloved book is put to film, a bit of trepidation is to be expected. However, my friend William Newton had some good thoughts on letting Jackson’s interpretation be just that.
– Have I told you that C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy – Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandera, and That Hideous Strength – are probably my favorite books of all time? (No? are you sure we are friends?)
“It is not for nothing that you are named Ransom,” said the Voice…
The whole distinction between things accidental and things designed, like the distinction between fact and myth, was purely terrestrial. The pattern is so large that within the little frame of earthly experience there appear pieces of it between which we can see no connection, and other pieces between which we can. Hence we rightly, for our sue, distinguish the accidental from the essential. But step outside that frame and the distinction drops down into the void, fluttering useless wings. He had been forced out of the frame, caught up into the larger pattern… “My name also is Ransom,” said the Voice.”
― C.S. Lewis, Perelandra
If you haven’t read this brilliant trilogy, do so now. (I’ll wait)
Done? Ok, like all good books it gets better with every re-read. Go read it a couple more times. Let it really sink in.
Okey Dokey! For those that have already read it or are now working on their next re-read, I came across this neat little documentary: The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case against Scientism.
I would love to discus, this, my favorite trilogy with you. Hit up the com boxes!
– Finally, a friend of mine named Rod Bennet, author of Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words just finished his own Sci-Fi novel entitled The Christus Experiment, which I am excited to read. It has been getting some high and intriguing praise:
Early readers of The Christus Experiment have had nothing but raves: Author and historian Mike Aquilina declared it “a piece of out-and-out genius…I couldn’t put it down. Haunted me for days afterward.” Micah Harris, author of Heaven’s War, the acclaimed graphic novel from Image Comics, says The Christus Experiment is “mind-blowing…and hugely entertaining. This is what C.S. Lewis would be doing in the age of Iron Man. Bravo!” Popular internet pundit Mark Shea called the book, “a lulu of a sci-fi story that I stayed up later than I should have reading…I so want to see a movie made of this. It would rock the house…Rod Bennett is one of the most original minds going right now.”
So check it out and share with others who might be interested!
Jennifer Fulwiler, lifelong Atheist turned Catholic and author of ConversionDiary.com (and hostes of “7 Quick Takes Friday”) is the star of her own reality show “Minor Revisions” which debuted yesterday night and will continue next thursday. You can watch online at http://netny.net
The first episode was great fun, giving us a glimpse of Jen’s beautiful family and hearing her talk of her conversion. Because there were a lot of technical issues with the broadcast (and in case you missed the epic twitter party) Brandon Vogt has links here.
There were many great moments in the show, but a crowd favorite was a comment from Jen’s young daughter:
And that wraps it up! Have a great weekend! Start a new good book!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!