Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Scorebook

I am a baseball fanatic. After a great game by Mike 'Moose' Mussina, the Yankees go to eleven games above .500. After today's game, their record is 31 wins and 20 losses. Why is this exciting?

Because we keep pace with our dreaded arch-enemy, the Boston Red Sox.

If you're looking for a zen activity, and are a baseball fan, I suggest two things:

1. Subscribe to MLB.TV or a similar baseball package with your cable/dish provider
and
2. Keep score at home.

There's nothing quite so relaxing as watching a game at home and losing track of everything among the statistics and flow of a ball game.

Learn how to keep score here.

Tag: Yankees, MLB

How much is your journal worth - June, 2006

I know that many of you feel that it's impossible to put a value on something precious, like this journal. I, and the folks at Technorati, disagree. This has increased impact on me now that I'm unemployed. Instead of getting a job, I'm trying to find someone willing to convert this cyber space figure into real dollars.

Anybody know any rich idiots?

When we followed up last April with this series, Courage rang in at an astounding $46,856.82. Of course, Courage had the same value in March and February as well. As we've been tracking the progress of this epic masterpiece since October, there is a bit of accumulated data.

In past months, Courage held values of:

October: $34,000+
November: $47,000+
December: $31,000+
January: $31,000+
February: $46,000+
March: NO CHANGE
April: NO CHANGE
May: NO CHANGE

As you can see, after matching my near all-time high in February I seem to have fallen a bit stagnant. Better than losing money, anyway!

What are you worth?


My blog is worth $46,856.82.
How much is your blog worth?

Penis names, cynicism, and CarnivAOL

Just because it's fun (found these at Blogthings).

Your Penis Name Is...

Phantom Lord of Ultimate Darkness

 

You Are 32% Cynical

Generally you give people the benefit of the doubt. But there are exceptions.
You buy into many of the things that mainstream society believes, but you're not anybody's fool.

~~

Ladies and gentlemen, another edition of our treasured J-Land tradition of

is available for your consumption. It's a place to find some great J-Land writers!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tuesday Truths

A fabulous meme that I have found over at Sheep, Not Sheep. To play, answer the questions in your blog or journal and then link back to Sheep, Not Sheep to let them know!

~~~

It's Tuesday and below are the five statements for you to consider. Our category is "Politics." Remember to link your answers back here from your blog, or leave your answers in the comments. Good luck!

1. The Price is Right game show offered a prize trip to New Orleans the week after Hurricane Katrina hit. true

2. An official chart shows a correlation between the 2004 presidential election results and voter IQ. true

3. Members of Congress do not pay into the Social Security fund, but still receive huge pensions. False

4. In several U.S. states you can be fined for not slowing down or changing to another lane when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road. true

5. A dress made of rotting meat was once displayed as art in an upscale gallery. true

 

Tag: tuesday truths

Rise, and walk

Life has been insane. I've been trying to extricate myself from the stress and anxiety of my former job. I resigned over a month ago, some of you are no doubt thinking, and it's true! What I failed to let go of was that my horrible experiences have caused in me a somewhat strange crisis of purpose.

I have always put my mind and skills toward education. I taught, I coached sports, I advised student groups, I wrote and researched current trends in Education and Instruction, I planned events, and I raised money for institutions. For seven years I have solely given myself to this field, knowing that it gave me the place to display my talents, use them, and be appropriately rewarded.

Not knowing what field I want to enter next i experienced a sudden revival of anxiety and fear. How am I going to make a difference if I can't even pick a career to pursue?

I had to laugh at the depression this caused (and it's a doozee), because I've told so many other people that defining yourself through your job is foolhardy and dangerous because the nature of work is that it can consume your life so that there is no discerning between the two. One set of values for one life. One that may not appeal to who you truly want to become in the future.

So I'm feeling this pinch of finding work to share my gifts with those I work with, and the concept of noble work - doing something that goes above and beyond the ordinary. Thankfully, my reading of the day was from Acts of the Apostles, 3: 1-10:

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o'clock hour of prayer. And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called 'the Beautiful Gate' every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, "I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give to you in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, rise and walk. Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.

All of my hypocritical logic, all of my emotional wrangling, all of that constant pressure to find 'the next big whatever' in my life is so clearly swept aside in this passage.

Peter and John - they get it. They have nothing - less then me, but what they do have they share freely. They heal, repent and baptize. They use the sacraments as given to them by Jesus to share the gifts of God.

They give the gifts of God first and foremost before considering any other gift of 'worth.' The grace of God pales money's significance and makes it nearly irrelevant.

Whenever we feel that way, we only have to go back to the source of our faith, back to Christ. We simply need to repent in the Order of Penance, attend the breaking of the bread, consuming our Lord's body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist, and then with the Holy Spirit coursing through our veins we must

Give the same gifts of love, faith, encouragement, concern, care, forgiveness, and community to all those we meet. What we do does not matter - What we do for those we do it with, does!

Monday, May 29, 2006

It is for us, the living, rather

Memorial Day - when freedom speaks from the past to make meaning of the present and future.

---

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

All the news not fit to print - Memorial Day, 2006

Didn't we win this war?

For all you Mac freaks out there that wish your computer was a typewriter.

Gee, if I promoted violence, rape, drug use, gang life, and objectification of women, maybe I would get snubbed, too!

Memorial Day baseball. Go Yanks!

Proof that bigger is better.

Tag: yankees, smackbook, oprah, afghanistan

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Corruption? What Corruption?

It appears that as congressional birds begin to sing, their compatriots on K-Street have pitched the perfect harmony. As the bribery scandal in congress widens, newest reports have Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert in on the scam.

Do they not get paid enough? This disgraceful story makes me sick.

 

Tag: Hart, Scandal

Hypocritical advice

Prologue

This piece is the motivation for my continued work on previously mentioned upcoming post on free will. This piece is also the motivation behind my upcoming post on Acts of the Apostles.

I.

Unemployment isn't all that bad when you have a wife that makes more money than you ever could. It's a simple concept requiring very little to make the marriage run smooth. Instead of working eight or ten or twelve hours a day as I am accustomed, I take care of the apartment, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and the other chores that typically took up J's time as well as my own.

II.

The trouble with this is that you do not realize just how fragile your mind is after making this smooth transition. High expectations and the flush of networking with colleagues promises a future job in only a month. Confusion? Your mind snaps when you nobody receives the promised job. Nobody met their needs and you rather wish someone had been better than you so that all of you were not sub-par.

III.

You have no long term career goals. No plan for fulfillment. Nothing. A few more leads come to naught and then tears match their success to the height of previous stumbling blocks.

IV.

Today I see that for so long I told others that to define yourself and to obtain fulfillment through what you did at work was a dangerous proposition. All too often self-worth equaled production or time on the clock. Promotion at work meant promotion of personality and character. Not always the case, unfortunately.

V.

I did not practice what I preached. A potential job opens up, for I will apply, that is part time and in a retail field very much in line with a hobby I am quite passionate about outside of work as well. The trouble is that I make no grand difference for mankind.

VI.

Teaching. Development. Alumni Relations. These things improve the lives of others in a noble way. Working to operate your own outlet of a particular product you enjoy does not do the same.

VII.

But here is what I took from my own wisdom: I am called to give Christ to others. I am called to live Christ's life as best I can with all the gifts he gave me at birth and throughout my life. That is the most I can be asked to do, and that is already impossible without Christ's help. Why I feel this need to do more is so very foolish because, in any work environment and in any kind of job, I can bring Christ to my co-workers and those I interact with every day. That is my requirement.

VIII.

Epilogue: the aforementioned post from Acts of the Apostles.

 

Tag: jobs, job-hunting, bible

Friday, May 26, 2006

All the News not Fit to Print! May 26, 2006 Edition


This first story is kind and compassionate, but I'm not so sure it meets the daily quota of death and violence needed for syndication in mainstream media - it is about a purple heart, afterall.

This second story goes something like this: 1. Write the note - DONE. 2. Give note to teller - DONE. 3 - Get money - DONE (YES!) 4. Leave bank - no! no! no!!!!! Don't sit down and read a magazine, you dolt! GET UP AND LEAVE!

I don't know about you, but I do this all the time!

Note to self: if hungry and robbing a quickie-mart, don't leave trail of wrappers to secret hide-out in Mom's basement.  DOH!

 

And just for fun - another puzzle, but this time of me fishing!  Follow the link, then click the image.

Tag: Strange News

Superhero Charley lives where?!?!!?

I hope to do a more substantial post tomorrow on a passage I read out of Acts of the Apostles, but until that happens, here are a few Blogthings:

You Are Wolverine

Small but fierce, you're a great fighter.
Watch out! You are often you're own greatest enemy.

Powers: Adamantium claws, keen senses, the ability to heal quickly

American Cities That Best Fit You: 70% New York City 65% Chicago 60% Philadelphia 55% Boston 45% Miami

 

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Thursday Thirteen

Laura, of Adventures in Juggling, hosts the Thursday Thirteen. All you have to do is list thirteen anything in your journal. You pick the topic. Post your link in her journal.

As I'm watching one of my favorite movies at the moment, The Fellowship of the Ring, I will list thirteen of my favorite movies, in no particular order:

1. Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
2. The Usual Suspects
3. The Godfather
4. The Godfather II
5. Saving Private Ryan
6. The Passion of the Christ
7. The Fellowship of the Ring
8. Rounders
9. The Legend of Bagger Vance
10. The Last Emperor
11. Gandhi
12. Ronin
13. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

 

tag: Thursday Thirteen

Question 96

Promise, of The Journal Jar, has posted question 96:

What church jobs have you enjoyed the most?

For my part, I have loved my time as a lector at the various parishes I have attended. More than that, though, I love to spend time as an Extraordinary Minister. Being able to stand with the community and distribute the Eucharist is a mighty gift!

 

Tag: Journal Jar

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Quiz Time and Question 95!

Which flavor of tea are you? (with images)

You are Fruit tea! There are many varieties of fruit tea..and all are quite fruity. You are colorful and sweet, only addicted tea drinkers pick you up at the market.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla | Join | Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

You Are Beef

You're big, burly, and maybe even a little stinky. And no one's going to come between you and a good steak.
And you've probably never met a vegetable you like, unless fries and ketchup count.

Promise, over at The Journal Jar, has posted question #95:

Tell about your graduation (okay - so maybe it's more of an command!):

My graduation from high school wasn't a big deal. Over one thousand students shuffling around in awkward lines in these hideous green and white robes. And I looked horrible in the mortar board. Clay S. was our speaker as class valedictorian. He did a fine job.

College graduation (I didn't go to my Master's ceremony) lived up to the rumored pomp and circumstance. Big name speakers, lots of presentations, honorary degrees and all that jazz. Photograph with the College president, shaking hands, people going nuts, honor cords, the whole shebang. I had fun.

Puzzle Time!

Got a few minutes?

Do a puzzle of my kitties! Just click the image after following the link.

Tag: jigsaw puzzle

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

All the news not fit to print, May 23, 2006

Are you a vet? Did somebody steal you? They could have...and should the media have told you about it?

I'll have a banana with that Cabernet, jeeves.

If I don't like you, I'm going to start doing this to your house - muhahahahahahaha ... drip drip.

Twenty-three positions in a one night stand. Get off! If you want my sexiest vegetarian in the US ass, baby, here I am! Get off!

Tag: news

Mortal men live lives of lies

From Psalm 118, 8-9:

Better to take refuge in the Lord trust in mortals. Better to take refuge in the Lord than to put one's trust in princes.

How many times do we get angry at someone else throughout any given day? For inane reasons, jealousy, fear, impatience, righteousness, malice, vengeance and despair? We look to our friends and family, coworkers and lovers, but all these people can provide no perfect answer. Their hearts cannot love like God's. Their mind cannot think like God's. At best, we discern through the Spirit what God wants of and from us every day and at worst we let our selfish tendencies form our motivations.

When we get angry, or frustrated, or for whatever reason, why do we look to anyone but God? It's unfair to us, and them, when we expect solace, or guidance, or even a secret-keeper. Those mortals close to us are human - faulty and broken. God is the only one we can turn to in comfort, reason and full faith.

Turn to God in the sacraments, in prayer, in community and in evangelization. Live your life with and for God and you will find joy!

Tag: religion, faith, God

Monday, May 22, 2006

Happy Anniversary, twenty questions style

Isn't it funny? Courage's one year anniversary came and went and I didn't even notice. My first post isn't all that memorable. Typical.

In the spirit of celebration, though, I'm performing CPR on a very old tradition here at Courage. Amanda, of HEY, I'M COUNTRY fame, once participated with me in a game of twenty questions. Funny thing is, we only ever got to question 14. So, now that Courage is more than a year old, it's time to finish!

Question 15: What keeps you awake at night?

My answer: The fear of night terrors. Every night that I don't take my Ambien CR I experience night terrors. I get them sometimes even when I take my sleeping pills. The fear of violence and anger so real that it scars your emotions and mind as if it really happens is enough to keep me up and posting on my journal at 2:20 in the a.m.

Hop on over to her journal to catch her answer sometime soon and peruse her other interests!

Tag: 20 Questions

All the news not fit to print, May 22, 2006

Maybe I'm just nuts, but are we supposed to encourage people to kill themselves  in a slow, horrible way?

Heritage? History? How about a history of oppression and slavery - that's something to be proud of...if you're nuts!

I get winded just climbing the stairs or getting out of bed! Thinking about this just makes me exhausted!

The Great War invades your french fries!

 

Tag: news, comedy

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A compassionate high priest

I read this snippet in Hebrews, 4: 14-16:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but only one who has been similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

This afternoon at a loss, with no more brilliant flashes of insight, I slid to a horrendously disheartening stop at the tollbooth of "no next career ideas." I felt useless. Alone. Stupid. Afraid. Depressed. Anxious. I was an emotional wreck, and for much of the night I have been resenting myself and God for his asking me to suffer through this thick, choking fog. Then I remembered that passage in Hebrews. The whole book is written to foster our spirits, and it should! My Savior has been tested in every way, yet remained truthful to his Father.

He had fire for God, even when brutalized on a cross. I want that same fire as I carry my burdens, helping me to accept truth, sorrow, and difficulty with peace and humility.

All the news not fit to print - May 20, 2006

Here's Courage's latest roundup of news you just didn't want to read:

1. He's old. He's sketchy. He's rich. He might be a groper. He wants his case dismissed - no duh!

2. I'm a golfer. I'm lazy. I'm a lazy golfer. This thing is my new best friend.

3. The memory of this trauma lives on and others will probably always take up the unfinished work of their masters. Sad.

4. You know what snow is, right? Your grandchildren might never know. Stop warming.

5. Pimp my ride. Saddam style.

Tags: News, Humor, Comedy

Does YOUR significant other play video games?

Do the men in your lives play too many video games? I found the link to this hysterical clip on Netgirl. I think the inspiration for the song is me!

 

Tag: comedy

Interactive Johari window update

It's been some time since I posted my Johari window. Feel free to add your perceptions or even your own Johari window to your journal. Thanks!

Arena
(known to self and others)
clever, searching

Blind Spot
(known only to others)
accepting, brave, calm, caring, dependable, dignified, friendly, helpful, intelligent, introverted, kind, loving, mature, modest, observant, organised, reflective, religious, self-conscious, sentimental, trustworthy, warm, wise, witty

Fa├žade
(known only to self)
adaptable, ingenious, proud, tense

Unknown
(known to nobody)
able, bold, cheerful, complex, confident, energetic, extroverted, giving, happy, idealistic, independent, knowledgeable, logical, nervous, patient, powerful, quiet, relaxed, responsive, self-assertive, sensible, shy, silly, spontaneous, sympathetic

Dominant Traits
55% of people think that CDittric77 is brave
66% of people think that CDittric77 is friendly
55% of people agree that CDittric77 is searching

All Percentages
able (0%) accepting (11%) adaptable (0%) bold (0%) brave (55%) calm (11%) caring (33%) cheerful (0%) clever (11%) complex (0%) confident (0%) dependable (11%) dignified (11%) energetic (0%) extroverted (0%) friendly (66%) giving (0%) happy (0%) helpful (11%) idealistic (0%) independent (0%) ingenious (0%) intelligent (22%) introverted (11%) kind (11%) knowledgeable (0%) logical (0%) loving (11%) mature (11%) modest (11%) nervous (0%) observant (11%) organised (11%) patient (0%) powerful (0%) proud (0%) quiet (0%) reflective (44%) relaxed (0%) religious (44%) responsive (0%) searching (55%) self-assertive (0%) self-conscious (11%) sensible (0%) sentimental (11%) shy (0%) silly (0%) spontaneous (0%) sympathetic (0%) tense (0%) trustworthy (11%) warm (33%) wise (11%) witty (22%)

Created by the Interactive Johari Window on 20.5.2006, using data from 9 respondents.
You can make your own Johari Window, or view CDittric77's full data.

 

Tag: Johari window

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Community Prayer Ring - mid week intentions?

Hello everyone.

If you have mid-week intentions, please do not forget to email them to me and I will distribute them to the prayer ring. All are welcome to submit intentions and all are welcome to pray for those intentions submitted.

Information on the Community Prayer Ring can be found here.

 

Tag: Community Prayer Ring

All the news not fit to print - May 18, 2006

From the can't we just be civil department?

Holy crap - are you kidding me?

Where do you keep YOUR rodent teeth?

Don't bring me back!

Where do you take your naps?

 

Tag: news

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What kind of American English do you speak?

From Blogthings (fitting given that I spent 18 years in New England and eleven just twelve miles from Dixie):

Your Linguistic Profile:: 50% General American English 25% Yankee 20% Dixie 0% Midwestern 0% Upper Midwestern

Tag: blogthings

Sea Crest & Proverbs

I'm glad to see that the exchange between Paul and I about intercessory prayer generated such a well-mannered and spirited discussion.

It's nice to be civil.

Jillian and I have returned from our mini-vacation at Sea Crest by the Sea. If you're looking for a few days away, this is the place to visit. I'll spare you the scandal of a detailed summary, but rest assured that we enjoyed ourselves and felt completely pampered by the inn keepers.

Ironically, the inn keepers are Gettysburg College graduates (go Bullets!), and I actually knew them from my work there but failed to connect their names with their faces. They were supremely gracious. I've posted pictures from the weekend - enjoy!

--------

I read this today in Proverbs, 26: 23

Like a glazed finish on earthenware are smooth lips with a wicked heart.

I know that I am too frequently tempted and soothed by empty promises, lies, and the general malaise of material living. Of course, this does not stop me from looking toward the impermanent for solace. On the contrary, when I fail I often find myself refusing to change. Why? Because smooth lips and a wicked heart can make even the most ugly sin look sweet and innocent.

Selfishness is so easy to rationalize.

When lucid moments bring this struggle into sharp relief, I'm reminded of Paul who calls himself a prisoner to Christ. Instead of struggling with the world, I should struggle with myself to discern the will of God as found in the Holy Spirit and enjoy the comfort of God's undeniable love and forgiveness.

-------

An entry on free will is in the works - stay tuned. Also, feel free to join our prayer ring. I'll be sending out this week's email shortly - my vacation delayed its composition.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Intercessory Prayer

Paul and I have had a running conversation about intercessory prayer. A few days ago I posted information about our prayer ring on the AOL Journals Message Board. Paul asked:

"I'm interested, Charley. Do you believe in the power of intercessory prayer? If so, why?"

I responded to his message with this reply:

Hi Paul,
I do believe in the power of intercessory prayer. My belief comes from both first-hand experience and faith (as in the word's definition...not in a particular denomination or god(s)). In brief:

- A friend was in a terrible accident with catastrophic internal injuries, brain swelling, and a coma. This coma was not induced to limit the swelling, but rather by the trauma of the accident. External injuries, amazingly, were scarce.

The doctors did what they could (at a respectable hospital outside Philadelphia), however he did not come out of his coma or show any signs of recovery. As his heart had stopped and he had stopped breathing for an undetermined amount of time prior to resuscitation at the accident scene, his brain showed a vegetative state (lack of oxygen the believed cause, as well as the swelling).

His other internal injuries were dealt with as best as possible, but due to his fragile health, extensive surgery was not possible.

The family and his friends prayed for the intercession of Padre Pio, 24 hours a day for three days. On the morning of the fourth day he emerged from his coma, fully functioning, with no brain damage.

Upon further evaluation, the doctors also determined that his internal organs had healed and showed no damage or trauma.

There is no justifiable medical cause for this sudden turn of events. Is it possible that his body cured itself? Yes, it is possible. But next to impossible if not nearly completely improbable.

His recovery was actually submitted to the Vatican for research and study as one of Padre Pio's miracles during his canonization proceedings (it was not chosen and subsequently not investigated).

As there is a chance that nature not intercessory prayer worked in this case, this is where my faith in intercessory prayer leads me to believe. He showed no signs of improvement during his time in the hospital. Nothing could be done for him that would completely reverse his maladies.

Something happened inside him, however, and I believe that prayer had a role.

Best regards,
Charley

Paul asked me if he could turn this into a nice little journal topic - and this is a friendly conversation folks - about intercessory prayer and those who are skeptical of why it's done. I agreed. Please remember, Paul is not attacking faith or Christians. He's simply skeptic of why it's done and how or if it works.

Paul's response was:

I have always had a problem with the idea of intercessory prayer, even back when I sorta, kinda believed in God. The reasons are pretty much twofold.
   First, the way I read The Bible, it's a sin. It goes against the very first of the big rules, The Ten Commandments. God states it pretty darn clearly. He says, "I am a jealous God." He doesn't want anyone praying to any entity other than Him. So whether it's Padre Pio, St. Francis, or Holy Mary, Mother of God herself, what we are talking about is iconography, and clearly contravenes the law as given us directly by God himself.

   Silly semantic arguments aside, my other reason for doubting the efficacy of intercessory prayer goes to reliability and replicability. It plain doesn't always work. For every miraculous sounding story you tell me, I can reply with an instance where, regardless of who prayed to whom, how hard, and for how long, the person being prayed for still died.
   So, clearly, there are rules to this intercessory prayer thing. God has criteria for whose prayers he answers, and whose he flat out ignores. How do we determine that criteria?
   How do we know who to pray to? Is there a list somewhere that tells me which saint covers head trauma, and which one covers damaged internal organs, and which one covers incurable diseases? If your friend's family had accidentally prayed to St. Thomas Aquinas, would your friend have died?
   How much prayer is necessary? Is there a critical mass, above which your prayers come to somebody's attention? How large does your prayer group have to be? Does God have a calculator where he compares the virtuousness of the sick person against the volume of incoming prayer?
   Your answers to all these questions are, of course, "I haven't got a frickin' clue." We don't know why sometimes our prayers appear to be answered, and why sometimes they don't. We just pray. And the results looklike this:

   Some people who get prayed for get better.
   Some people who do not get prayed for get better.
   Some people who do not get prayed for do not get better.
   Some people who get prayed for do not get better.

   Looks like a pretty random distribution to me. But, don't take my word for it. This topic has been studied in quite some depth over the years. The results of the most recent clinical study
were released several weeks ago.

"Patients who knowingly received prayers developed more post-surgery complications than did patients who unknowingly received prayers—and patients who were prayed for did no better than patients who weren't prayed for. In fact, patients who received prayers without their knowledge ended up with more major complications than did patients who received no prayers at all."

   The study also noted that there was no difference in 30 day mortality rates between groups. That is to say that the number of patients who died within the first 30 days after surgery was approximately the same between the groups who received prayer, and the groups who did not.

   What does all this prove? Absolutely nothing. Maybe God doesn't do studies. Maybe He refuses to step in when people are "testing" Him. "The Lord works in mysterious ways." "God has a plan, though we may not know it." Yada, yada, yada. All of these things are simply excuses to account for the fact that whenever we attempt to examine the efficacy of intercessory prayer, the results always appear to be completely random.
   For every friend in a car accident recovers due to miracle you offer me, I can come back with a friend with lung cancer was prayed for by dozens of people who loved her...still died.

   I would also like to examine your anecdote a little more closely, Charley. We exchanged e-mails the other night regarding the church in Forest, Ohio that was hit by lightning during a sermon. I opined that, while news reports support the fact that the event happened, the claims of people that it happened at the exact instant that the preacher called out for a sign from God are hard to accept unquestioningly. Human beings have a well known tendency to embellish stories to make them sound better, and it is entirely plausible that such an embellishment developed around that event in order to turn a good story into a great one. Maybe it did happen exactly the way it has been reported, but I'd want to interview several people who were there and compare their stories looking for inconsistencies before I would accept it.
   Likewise, when I look at your story with a critical eye I see it thusly:

Things I accept at face value:
a) Your friend was critically injured.
b) The doctors did all they could for him, but at some point conceded that it was out of their hands.
c) Your friend recovered against the expectations of the medical profession.

Things I question:
a) His family and friends prayed "24 hours a day for three days." Did none of them sleep in 72 hours? I doubt it.
b) "Upon further evaluation, the doctors also determined that his internal organs had healed and showed no damage or trauma." [emphasis mine] This is a remarkable claim, and as such, I cannot accept it at face value. It sounds very much like the same kind of embellishment we talked about before. Were you there at the hospital, or did you hear these things third hand? The only thing that would convince me about this part of the story would be examining the before and after medical reports. I would want to see the initial reports that described the damage to the internal organs, and I would want to see reports from three days later in which a doctor stated that those same organs "showed no damage or trauma."
   This is not to say that your friend's recovery wasn't remarkable, but I am inclined to believe that those around him have somewhat exaggerated the tale in order to make it sound more miraculous than it really was.

   The technical term for what we are talking about here is confirmation bias. Skeptics tend to refer to this as "counting the hits, and ignoring the misses." For example, your friend's recovery was a solid hit. He was prayed for, and he recovered. However, you fail to account for the number of people in the same hospital who may have died over the same time period, many of whom may have received a similar amount of prayer. Did such 'misses' exist? I don't know. You don't know. You didn't ask. That is not an indictment. It's just the way our brains work.
   However, if you had to guess, would you say it was likely or unlikely that someone in that hospital, during that time, died, even though he or she was also prayed for by many friends and family members? I would tend to think it was pretty likely. Because that's just the way the world works.

------

And finally, my response to Paul:

Hi Paul,
Great entry and you ask many good questions. My wife and I are off for a short vacation this weekend (finally!), so my reply will be brief, but I hope it will address the pertinent points of your response.

Your first point (against the rules of the Bible) - The presumption in this portion of your response is that we are asking for the intercessor to take some action. Or that we are praying to the intercessor instead of God. This is a misconception and not simply semantics. We pray the intercessor intercede on our behalf with God IN ADDITION to the prayers we say directly to God. God is a jealous God, however, if I were a jealous God, I wouldn't mind my people coming to me from multiple avenues to ask my intercession...I'd probably like it ;). It's not worship, Paul, and therefore not iconography or idolatry.

The assumption in the rest of your post is based on reliability and replicability. Your assumption is that he ignores prayers. That God chooses which prayers to answer. This is an incorrect assumption. It is foolhardy of any human to pray for God to do something particular. Intercessory prayers are meant always in hope, but always respectful for the will of God. He's God. He has a will greater than mine and his will shall be done. I may pray that he heal and give you comfort if you were sick and dying, but I would also pray that God's will be done for you. God's will may be for you to die. I cannot understand him or his motivations. He's perfect. I am not. I cannot think like him, or understand him.

You can pray to anyone for intercession. You won't make any mistakes. Yes, there are patron saints that are traditionally associated with certain ailments (St. Blaze, for instance, is the patron saint of throat conditions). However, as you are praying for the intercession of that person with God, that saint or individual isn't really doing anything other than placing your prayers at the feet of God. Again, it's God's will, not the Saint's that determines the fate of that person who is ill.

As for critical mass, or how much prayer is too much prayer - God hears every prayer. One prayer is enough, however, we are called to pray everyday. As a Catholic, my life is actually a form of prayer. In prayer we worship God, even when asking for intercession. By living out the life of Christ on earth, to the best of my ability, I am living out my worship of God. Prayer is part of that - it is a conversation with God. He gives solace and comfort. Praying to the Lord is talking to him. And you can say whatever you'd like to God - all have that choice. The error in your questions is that you assume that there IS a required amount, format, or number of people that have to pray.

Your breakdown of:
Some people who get prayed for get better.
Some people who do not get prayed for get better.
Some people who do not get prayed for do not get better.
Some people who get prayed for do not get better.
is completely right. You fail to assume that because we pray for intercession we expect to receive it. I do not. Nor should I. I pray for it because I believe it is a right cause. God's will however, is beyond my comprehension and thereby his will should be done - not my own. Christ provides that example in the Garden of Gethsemene if you need a scriptural reference. Thus, some do die. Some do not. Some prayed for die. Some do not. What is at question is which have been helped by intercessory prayer? Only God knows for sure. Faith guides the rest of us.

As for my anecdote:
- yes, his family and friends did pray for him 24 hours a day for three days. They rotated in shifts and his parents slept in the room with him while other family and friends prayed for him. He was never without prayer during that time.
- I heard it third hand, but I've seen copies of his charts.

I say this because it is the crucial point in the benefit of prayer - in this case these things were documented.

And for what it's worth, I completely agree with the concept of counting the hits and ignoring the misses. many died in that hospital, some while my friend was being prayed for. However, it's not a matter of hit and miss. It's a matter of God's will and our asking him and others to intercede with him for us on earth. And thus, as I said in my first post, a matter of faith.

 

Thursday, May 11, 2006

When we all need a break, where do we look?

Earlier today I posted the kind gift Carly bequeathed on all of us here at Courage. She has given us an image of inspiration that helps us take our shallow words and give them meaning and depth. She has taken something seen by the naked eye and made it meaningful.

And while we can now all turn to the Coit Tower for encouragement, sometimes no matter what our strength is or how deep our motivation runs, we need levity. Laughter. Humor. A smile. A joke. A distraction, even, to help us sharpen our minds for the more difficult tasks ahead.

I asked Jessica, of Jessica's Thoughts and Feelings, if she would create a fun tag that would give us all a little something to laugh about, giggle at, and help remind us that life isn't all seriousness all the time. She came through magnificently. She read past journal entries and discovered that when this journal most often showed those traits of escaping for a while from every day drudgery, I talked about (or posted pictures of) Angelina Jolie.

So, Jess created this tag from scratch for us to use here at Courage. This is our image of happiness, laughter, silliness, and good times. This is the image that will remind us that we are human, it is OK to be so, and we deserve the smiles and happiness others bring into our lives. Jessica brings happiness. Talk to her. Email her. She will leave you smiling because she knows that the greatest gift one can give is good cheer. Jessica can change perspectives with a smile, so that what was once daunting is now not so much, and we will find we have enough courage after all. Thank you, Jess!

Prayer intentions - reminder

Hello everyone. This is just a reminder to submit your prayer intentions before Monday, noon. All are welcome to submit intentions or join our list. See the links to the right for information.

An image of Courage

Ondine Monet, of Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly, is a fantastic photographer. The moments she captures on film inspire. She is a good friend and her words are an important daily visit for me.

Recently, Carly offered me the chance to select one photograph from her collection to become solely mine. She would retire the photograph and it would not be used in any other location. This is a rare gift!

I selected an image of the Coit Tower, built to honor the memory of firefighters after the 1906 earthquake. You can see the tower at dusk, shining in the darkness and the clutter of a thousand lights, reaching for the sky.

Built to honor the courage of others, providing light in the dark and a place to look when overwhelmed by a thousand other distractions, this image is a sign of courage. It has now become the official image of this journal and I encourage you to reference it when talking about courage or this blog.

My thanks to Carly for making our eyes see the light of courage and inspiration.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Good friends and golf

I wanted to share a little good humor before sleepy-time tonight. This past weekend three of my good friends came to town for what has quickly become a tradition: golf weekend.

This weekend consists of: 9 holes on Friday, 36 on Saturday, 18 on Sunday. All meals together. A few drinks (and actually, just a few - it's hard to play golf hungover!).Laughs. Stories. Memories. This is the third time we've done this and each one gets better and better. Rumor has it we'll try and travel somewhere for next year's trip. Myrtle Beach? Pinehurst? Shhhh. Don't tell Jillian ;).

I took along my new cellphone (which has a camera - something I swore I'd never get..but it had a great rebate) and snapped at least one photo per round. Here are the players in the pictures:

Ian: Routinely mistaken for a brother when we're out and about, Ian and I have known one another since 2001 or 2002. The memories are too fuzzy. He's loyal, funny, and taught me to play golf. Ian has a habit of never taking a picture unless he looks silly. He's also my protege. I taught him everything he knows about life, women, the world and cultivating a buddha belly. While I own the orginial talking buddha belly (a site to see!), Ian's is coming along nicely.

Tim: While we weren't close or distant during college, Tim and I have developed a mutual respect and a good friendship. He's the guy that's going to make millions and take over the world. He's a brilliant banker and will be retired by the time he's forty. I'm not kidding. He's that smart.  He's also an unbelievable golfer. 300 + yards off the tee, straight, and in the fairway.

Jared: Jared is the guy that's going to become the world famous scholar. He's going to write books that change the way we look at history. He's also going to make mega bucks. Ian and I are going to be his entourage and Tim is going to manage his money. We're not kidding. Not too much, anyway. He's a fair golfer and most of all...he's the guy that knows all our secrets. He manages to keep quiet so we don't know his and he finds out ours....so we'll never ever make him angry.

Picture 1 - Ian, on the way to our first round.
Picture 2 - Ian driving our golf cart after making a double bogey - DOH!
Picture 3 - Ian, driving the golf cart for round three. Yes, he's driving with his eyes closed.
Picture 4 - King of the gatorade.
Picture 5 - Jared, walking away because he HATES to have his picture taken.
Picture 6 - Tim, after whooping us on the front nine on our third round.
Picture 7 - The guys (yes, Jared's giving me the finger) teeing off on hole 18 of our third round.
Picture 8 - Ian, after making par on hole 17.
Picture 9 - Jared, trying to ignore me as we waited for a table in a neighboring restaurant Saturday night.

 

What age will you die, and what is your Italian name?

You Will Die at Age 73 You're pretty average when it comes to how you live...
And how you'll die as well.

Your Italian Name Is... Ettore Greco

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

All the news not fit to print, May 9, 2006

1. Another sign the end of the world is upon us.

2. Definitely someone I'd trust with our future.

3. Can this guy really be this dumb?

4. This woman takes her poop too seriously.

5. DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELICIOUS!

 

Tag: cannibal, outhouse, FEMA, parenting, britney spears

Tuesday Truth?

I found this meme over at Sheep or Not Sheep. It's a ton of fun. Just answer the questions true or false and link back to her in the comments of the entry. Here are my answers:

1.      Well-known atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair once circulated a petition hoping to have all religious broadcasts banned in the United States.

True

2.      After a minister claimed thunder was the voice of God, lightning struck the church where he and his congregation were worshipping.

True

3.      The saying “Holy smoke” comes from the practice of burning the ballots that are used to elect a new pope.

True

4.      When filling out census forms, if you write in that your religion is “Jedi” a government will be forced to grant it an official religious status.

False

5.      As a precaution against The Rapture, airlines will not pair Christian pilots and co-pilots on any flight.

False

 

Tag: True or not true Tuesday

Web 2.0 Six-pack

Joe has asked us for our next six-pack picks.

To get in the spirit, I browsed some others and decided to focus the theme of my picks on Web 2.0. These six blogs are all out there to keep us dialed in to the latest developments on the web and technology:

Techcrunch: covers all companies technological
Engadget: Is it cool? Does it have bells and whistles? It's probably on this site.
Gizmodo: Yet more fabulously cool things to buy
Chip Chic: Technology for your softer side - or if you're a lady
Buzz Shout: A cool site that you can visit to visit other sites and then rate and review them.
The Next Big Web Thing: It is what it says :).

Enjoy!

tag: six-pack picks

Monday, May 8, 2006

How much is your journal worth - April Update

The March entry of this series can be found here.

When we last checked in with our green superhero (that's George Washington) Courage rang in at just over $46,000. Today, this Mecca of the blogsphere *ahem!* is worth:

exactly the same.


My blog is worth $46,856.82.
How much is your blog worth?

At least my hiatus from blogging in April didn't cause me to LOSE value. Historically, Courage has been at:

October: $34,000+
November: $47,000+
December: $31,000+
January: $31,000+
February: $46,000+
March: NO CHANGE
April: NO CHANGE

At least if I was a stock I'd be somewhat viable.

Check out the value of your blog here and comeback and tell us how you did!

All the news not fit to print - May 8, 2006

Douglas Adams knew this ages ago when he wrote So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.

His time will come. Cheaters never win.

That'll teach him - though I hope he gets it for his behavior!

It's about time.

This is strangely arousing - I always knew Snow White had a naughty side.

 

Tag: Playmate of the Year, Darfour, Bonds, Dolphins

How sinful are you...and can you pass 8th grade geography?

From Blogthings:

Your Deadly Sins Gluttony: 100% Lust: 80% Greed: 60% Sloth: 60% Pride: 20% Wrath: 20% Envy: 0% Chance You'll Go to Hell: 49% You'll die from food poisoning - and then the natives will feast on your fatty limbs.

 

You Passed 8th Grade Geography Congratulations, you got 7/10 correct!

Tag: Blogthings

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Community Prayer List - FAQ/Instructions

This post will serve as a FAQ/Instructions for joining and leaving the Community Prayer List. If anything is unclear, or you wish to see an addition to the FAQ/Instructions, please email me. For the first entry made about our prayer ring, click here.

FAQ

1. What is this about? This prayer list is for any and all people that wish to have prayers said for a particular intention.

2. Who says the prayers? People who volunteer to join the prayer list will be praying for submitted intentions throughout the week.

3. What do they pray for? Anyone may submit an intention to the prayer list for anything they wish to have offered up in prayer. Typical intentions include concerns for family or friends, thanksgiving and appreciation, prayers for the deceased, discernment over a decision or issue, and many others. If you want someone to pray for it, this is a great place to start.

4. When do they pray? People are on their own honor when they pray. Joining the list means you agree to pray regularly for the intentions of the week.

5. How do you know what to pray for? Every Monday afternoon I distribute the week's intentions, as submitted by readers, to those on the list. We pray for those intentions for that week.

6. Can intentions be repeated? Absolutely - just resubmit the intention so we know you want it to remain from one week to the next.

7. How do I submit an intention? Simply email me. In the body of the email describe your intention as you want it distributed to the list.

----------------------

Instructions - How to join the prayer list

1. Click the "Join our Community Prayer Ring" link to the right and send an email to me with the subject: Subscribe - Prayer List. I will reply confirming your subscription. If you do not receive a confirmation from me within 48 hours, please send a second email. Problems subscribing or emailing me may be left in the comments on this entry.

Instructions - How to leave the prayer list

2. Send an email to me with the subject: Unsubscribe - Prayer List. I will reply within 48 hours confirming your request. If you do not hear from me within 48 hours, please send a second email. Any other problems regarding unsubscription may be listed in detail as a comment to this entry.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Community Prayer List

Readers,

I've been running into a bunch of folks that need prayers lately, and there's nothing like the love and support and prayers of friends who will in turn lean on you for help.

Here is what I propose:

If you would like to join this prayer ring, send me an email or leave a message in the comments. Every Monday afternoon I will distribute the list of prayer intentions sent in by either those on the list, or those who want the prayer ring to pray for them. Additionally, if there are any emergency prayer requests I will send those out as I find them in my inbox.

To submit a prayer request, just clink the Community Prayer image to the right. It is linked to my email. If you want to be a part of the prayer ring, feel free to put this image in your journal as well (with it linked to my email) with a short blurb similar to what I've beneath mine.

I will repost this every day for the next week or two so that we can generate a good list of people that want to join the prayer ring. Feel free to link to this post in your journal as well.

Blessings,
Charley

Wasted Potential

Wasted Potential

When will you look in the mirror
and see the puzzle pieces
scattered like windswept rain?

An object in motion tends
to stay in motion forever
guilty about what's behind.

Does downhill mean forward
or is it an illusion of ill-got progress?

Called to be a glorious reflection
beauty becomes only skin-deep.

 

Tag: poetry

All the News not fit to print 5-4-06

Does this mean we're going to have the Mummy XXVII?

One step closer.

I have a thing for tons of boobs.

And from the you're entirely too shallaw department.

 

Tag: breastfeeding, Nicole Richie, Iran

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Being made clean

Nat (LurkyNat, of Interface fame), asked me to share my views on why I feel made clean after participating in the Mass.

What a great question!

I feel made clean because at the moment of taking communion I am one with not just Christ, but with the full body of the Church, both in my parish, around the world, in purgatory, and in heaven above. Angels, saints, and all the departed souls that make up the church are one with me and I with them. Heaven and earth collide in the divinity and humanity of Christ and I have the opportunity to take the complete Christ into my heart, soul, and body.

The Eucharist is the source and summit of my Catholic existence. All the sacraments and every prayer and religious teaching is orientated to the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, in the real presence, during the Mass.

Purified of my venial sins, I have the chance to start over as I join the heavenly host in praising God. It's a glorious mystery and gift from Christ.

When I go to receive my Lord in the Eucharist, this is the passage from the New Testament that always comes to mind:

Revelation, 7: 9-17

After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb." All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed: "Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen." Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, "Who are those wearing white robes and where did they come from?" I said to him, "My lord, you are the one who knows." He said to me, "These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. "For this reason they stand before God's throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead themto springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

The month of the Virgin

In Latin:

Cum audisset salutationem Mariae Elisabeth, exclamavit voce magna, et dixit: Unde hoc mihi ut veni at mater Domini mei ad me? alleluia

For us:

When Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, she cried out in a loud voice, and said: "Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Alleluia.
~~~~~~~~~

This prayerful exclamation, found in Mary's Magnificat, are words given to us by Elizabeth and the Blessed Mother for our use in a trying and difficult life. We are so immeasurably blessed, that even in time of trouble, temptations, and even in outright evil, the Lord will protect us and His mother will be our mother and she will carry us to her son and beg His mercy on us, on our souls and hearts.

And then we can cry out as Elizabeth did: "Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Alleluia!"

And our days and lives will be rich indeed! Blessed be the Lord and his most Holy Mother during this May, the month of our Mother.

Monday, May 1, 2006

All the news not fit to print

Is there a dirty, nasty, sexy side to your striped demeanor?

Write this down: we will be going to war with Iran.

Think this woman is stupid? She's the one who married the dead rich guy - who's dumb now?

This just makes me sick.

Hungry? Try some finger-licking goodness!

This is a lot of boobs.

Tag: bra chain, fingers, medal of honor, anna nicole smith, Iran

The trouble with a broken mind

This world is not compatible with heaven. Its imperfection, lies, and deceit tempt and drive us away from God. It is a simple quote, and often used, but the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. We cannot be holy men and women and try to live as we choose. We are imperfect and cannot distinguish right from wrong without help from God. Through His grace and mercy, our imperfection is destroyed and overcome with the glory of salvation and life everlasting.

I think about what it means to suffer from PTSD, severe depression, insomnia, night terrors, intense anxiety, and emotional uncontrol, and I cannot figure why it is so hard to help others understand or accept the harsh reality of mental illness. When your mind and emotions are broken like mine are, there is no normal. You do not think like other people. You cannot feel like other people. You want to be normal again, fixed, whole, but it can take a lifetime to rebuild what is in little pieces. Sometimes it is a bit like, 'All the kings horses and all the kinds men...'

When mental illness breaks you, your reality is different. You do not respond to other people or situations like most of society. In the real world, red means stop and green means go. In the world of a broken mind, red and green could mean anything, could prompt or provoke the most unlikely responses. Simple things like talking on a phone, or even the thought of a conversation could mean unshakable misery and irrational anxiety for the mentally ill. It might mean that you even think about killing yourself or that there is no hope.

That harsh and stark reality of mental illness is so hard to convey to others. Family, friends, and loved ones can have such a hard time understanding that the emotions and actions we experience when mentally ill do not represent or mean what we really feel or think when not suffering. It is unfair when we are held accountable for the struggles we experience when mentally ill. Menal illness is not an option. It's not something that you choose to undergo or hold onto during the day for comfort. Mental illness is a part of who you are. Some people have ADD. Some have autism. Some have anorexia, or drug addictions. Some of us have impaired ability to think, feel, work, and express ourslves because of mental illness.

If I could wave a magic wand, I would change the way people judge and think about those of us with mentalillness. I would make them understand that we cannot simply choose how we think, feel, and behave. If a car's engine was broken, you wouldn't expect it to run like a new car off the lot, would you? When our brains are broken, would you expect us to operate like a normal person? Not if I could wave my magic wand.

That's why being Catholic gives me so much comfort - God doesn't need a magic wand. He knows what I'm going through, he knows what it's like, and he loves me for who I am and the struggles I face. He won't judge me in my lowest moments because by turning to him, he'll pick me up and carry me instead.

I found this in John, 16: 29-33:

His disciples said, "Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God." Jesus answered them, "Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

Nothing is impossible with God.

 
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