Weekend Links: July 22-23

It seems I cannot get enough of this topic. This article from First Things compares books to screens. In my opinion, nothing beats the real, tactile, “existed before you and could exist after you” feel of a real book. Of course, children’s books in my house do not last that long. We try.

My time off Facebook has been positive. I go on in the morning to scan for news and stay involved my the “meaningful groups.” Glad to know I am fulfilling Mark Zuckerberg’s vision, except for the staying off Facebook part. Now that I have time away when I do go on, the whole thing feels like a lot of visual noise. Between the Newsfeed, the adds and the menus, it is all too much. If I can find a way to keep up with my favorite sources, and a way to maintain online groups without Facebook, I would be up for that! Any suggestions?

As I was citing sources for an article, I thought some readers might be interested in knowing more about where my views on the human person come from. We cannot know man only through science, or faith without science, or faith without philosophy. A view of man that brings all this together is the Catholic Christian Meta-Model of the Person (CCMMP). This model was foundational in my graduate education on considering the whole person in psychological practice.

The model accounts for our need for relationships are our inclination to sin (and possibility redemption). Here is a good piece from Verily pointing out some red flags in relationships. These can be taken and generalized to identify any toxic relationship, and personality types that are generally good to avoid. The desire to save a person through relationship is as old as time. We love people while still protecting ourselves by maintaining space.

In this encyclical,  Pope Pius predicted three outcomes from widespread contraception use. He predicted increased infidelity and lowering of moral standards (check), increased disregard on the part of men towards women and their bodies, reducing women to an object for his own desire (check), the third was public officials attempting to coerce contraception on individuals. This is very clear in China, and here it is in the US. Worth noting, I think.

Politically, it is hard to keep up with the real news because the media has not yet recovered from its Trump meltdown. I grew up with a sensitivity to the evils of Communism because my grandmother is Chinese and the stories I heard about what happened to her family members who were left behind. In school, we learned a smidgeon of bad regarding the USSR. That fell, but there is much to be concerned about in Russia. I always appreciate a piece from George Weigel on Eastern Europe and Russian news. I hope you do as well. As a birthday present, he will be speaking at Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco on July 27. I will be there.

If you avoid the downtown, San Francisco is a breathtaking city (downtown will also take your breath away because of the smell). On the topic of beauty, Two great pieces from Aleteia this week on why angels are portrayed with wings and why we have stained glass windows in Catholic Churches. In the Medieval days, these windows were instrumental in teaching illiterate Church-goers the faith.




Words matter. Ask my husband who often has to spend the next 15 minutes telling me what he really meant because there was an accidental error in his choice of words. N.M. Gwynne, authors of Gwynne’s Grammer convinced me with his logic of the greatness of grammar. This article is an example of that work at play.

I do not care to dwell on the conversation about the status of the university system. I follow it but cannot verify it. That said, one section in this article makes a good case for the power of words. Chronic exposure to hostile speech increases stress which can lead to adverse physical effects (this would fall under verbal abuse). Short term exposure to hostile speech can strengthen us, leading to all kind of cognitive and emotional benefits like resilience.

Earlier in the week, my reflection on the meaning of on The Giving Tree was shared by a former graduate school classmate. Check out her blog. For me, her writing is just stunning: peaceful, clear, paced to be a great companion.

Those are my thoughts. I would love to hear yours in the comment section!


Social Media: to use or not to use

This is worth thinking about. I was most struck by the research outcomes that found living with distracted attention through social media can have long-term effects on concentration. I see when I take too much time off from reading books and spend it instead on the computer.

Watch the video and see what you think.


What if, instead of posting on facebook the articles I find interesting through my personal page and pages I manage, I instead post on the blog a week-long recap of those articles. I know the news outlets I like. I can easily subscribe to their email or open their website. Thus the attention becomes focused and intentional.

When I am overwhelmed by the children, instead of zoning out online I could try some activity such as silence, being, stillness or perhaps something more active like coloring, painting, sketching. I could practice a mental break instead of a mental/physical break which is not all that rewarding and ultimately deleterious to my relationship with my children and my cognitive capability.

What would I miss out on? The latest Catholic uproar, the latest parenting uproar the latest conservative uproar, and so on. Would I miss out on the community? I have connected with wonderful communities through social media: local Catholic mothers, college Catholic friends. To be honest, I email with them just as often as I use social media.

I will continue to ponder this. I am curious to see how I did with fewer check-ins after subscribing to the online magazines I find interesting. Once a week perhaps.

What do you gain from social media?

What would you lose without it?


Are there any changes you want to make?

I would love to hear your answers to those questions.


Unfriending the Stranger: on the need more stratification in relationships

Have we lost the distinction between friend, stranger and acquaintance? It seems like it goes without saying, yet I wonder if the value of boundaries is becoming more and more lost in our culture.

Real Simple panelists proposed five “old-timey” traditions they would like to see brought back. One panelist while proposing the return of titles to identify distance where distance exists snuck in a secondary proposal to bring back the handshake and hug a lot less. Hugging. I enjoyed youth group as a junior high student because it provided me the opportunity to hug the cute freshman in the group. As I grew older, I liked hugging less and less and found it more and more in all circumstances. My hairdresser, who I like very much, gives me a hug as I leave and while in experience it doesn’t seem so bizarre, saying it out loud points out the strangeness of it.

We call random connections on Facebook our “friends.” A friend denotes an intimate, someone with whom I share similar goals, views and confidences. On Facebook, these are merely connections who see what I post. It’s like we opt to be bodies occupying a room where I can hear and see what the other does. I can choose to leave the room anytime. Online we call that “unfriending.” Whether we like it or not, “unfriending” becomes laden with emotion. Rather than “unfriend” someone, which rejects the person, I can just choose not to “follow” him or her. On other social media sites I have “followers.” At best a follower denotes someone who follows me around. Some would see it as a disciple. As I said before, it’s merely being in the same room, or in terms of blog websites, becoming a subscriber. The terms make it so very personal.

Boundaries are diminished. Couples couple on their first date or even without a date but at a party. Rather than going out on dates to get to know people, we “go out” and enter a committed intimate relationship in order to get to know the person.

If everyone is my friend, if everyone is in my intimate circle of hug receivers, then I must up the ante to show those who are truly on the inner circle. I will have to marry an intimate friend, opposite sex or not, or even myself, because we must be allowed to love. We must be allowed public recognition of our uniquely close relationship.

If I referred to acquaintances, or they referred to me,  by my title (Mrs.) then an intimate would be indicated by calling me by my first name. Friendships would be indicated by first name + spending time together. Deeper friendships would be indicated by first name + spending time together + spending time with my family + a hug upon greeting or saying good bye. Marriage would be indicated by all those things and so much more.

Legally society is not greatly stratified. There is marriage. There are civil unions in some cases. There are common law marriages. And then there is nothing. I read once (I apologize for not remembering the source, though I believe it published through First Things) a proposal for legal recognition of more types of relationships, without the need to call it marriage. If two sisters live together and care for each other in their old age, there is no legal recognition given to that relationship. If one sister has an estranged child, that child has more claim than the sister who has done everything for her.

So I am proposing more steps. They need not all be romantic as in marriage because not all intimate love is romantic. Our society is hyper-sexualized and would question the nature of the relationship between those two sisters. They may just be intimate friends sans physical intimacy. Such a thing does exist.

Now, I live in California. I know my ideas/discussions here reflect that. The coasts strive to be avante garde. California is both cutting edge on cultural trends and extremely casual. I recognize what I see taking place in cultural trends does not reflect the whole of the United States, although I do think times are a-changin’ and we’re all affected to some degree, the coasts (and college towns) likely being the most extreme.

It starts with one person and how he or she builds their relationships, then teaches a group, perhaps a youth group or their group of children. Christianity has, throughout history, functions as a subculture, something counter-cultural and a little underground. We’ve tried courtship (which in this discussion means you are either my friend or marriage potential, little in between), and for many, it has been found lacking. Maybe a new approach is worth looking at.