Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Like a Child

“At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” Matthew 18:1-5

There are several passages in scripture that encapsulate what it means to be a Christian; John 3:16 immediately comes to mind for most people. For me, the verses above are a powerful reminder of our role in the Body of Christ- we are to be children of God most high.

To me, this aspect of our faith is the most challenging, not only in the very personal sense of these words, but also in how the world may view the “child-like” in Christ: simple-minded, naïve, ignorant, anti-intellectual, etc. But, do those words necessarily describe a child? Certainly not, unless that child is forced by the circumstances of their upbringing to become as a tortoise in it's shell.

I would like to proceed by examining some ways that we can be healthily child-like to Christ; this is by no means comprehensive, but will hopefully serve as a reminder (to me, first and foremost) of the conduct we are called to have.

1. A child is humble:

I have discussed humility in some previous posts (see my post on “Indiana Jones...Faith”) but want to examine it here in brief.

To be humble, like a child, is to become a good listener, and to recognize the legitimate authority of your parents. As parents, we ask our children time and again to heed our advice; often, our children may not heed our advice until they find that their current way of handling a certain issue is insufficient. Often, we say “if you would have listened to my instruction in the first place, you would have had much less trouble” or something to that effect. Yet, we demonstrate the same behavior with Christ by not inviting Him into our daily struggles. Perhaps, we find these items too mundane, or maybe that we deserve hardship for our wrongs. I don't know if either point of view is helpful, or accurate.

When thinking that our troubles are minor compared to starvation, war, abuse, corruption and so forth- we are undoubtedly correct. Thankfully, most of those reading these words are probably doing very well in that their lives are not full of major catastrophe. But, to suggest that we only pray for these things and not for the “small matters” seems to suggest something rather insidious: that Christ does not have the time or energy for our venial needs. Dare we say this about the one who has “numbered all the hairs on our head(s)?” We must bring all of our concerns to Christ in prayer; even if we do not see immediate effects, we cannot underestimate, or even doubt, that those prayers are heard and answered in the way that Christ intends. After all, “thy will be done” may not always exactly align with “my will be done.”

Backtracking for a moment, a word about being a good listener; a question, really:

Has a single thing changed about the way you live, those of you who live in Christ? If you answer “yes,” then you have probably taken heed to that “still small” voice and amended, or have started to amend the parts of your life that need to change. If you answer “no,” then have you really been converted? When an issue arises between you and accepted Christian wisdom, do you seek that “magical verse” or verses to maintain your point of view? Is that how we were intended to use the scriptures, as our own encyclopedia of personal interpretation? But, that is another can of worms for another day of fishing...

2. A child is curious:

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” -Galileo Galilei
As a school teacher, I love when a child asks the question “why” or “how?” I love even more when that same child, through their diligence, finds the answer. Children are curious by nature; they have these great brains that hunger for knowledge about the world around them as much as we hunger for food at breakfast, lunch and dinner. In and of itself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with curiosity, but like the other parts of our lives, it must be kept in right order. I should not be more curious than I am loving, or discipline more than I educate... I should not seek pleasure in one thing too much, lest I become a glutton. In other words, my curiosity should be taken into perspective with the other duties I have as a Christian, namely to love and serve all. Sometimes, I may love and serve someone by teaching them something about the Catholic faith that they previously didn't understand, or clarifying/refuting something they have heard or read. Other times, I may love and serve by being a good listener (of course, all of these roles are connected) or a good companion. These next two paragraphs are a bit divergent, but try to bear with me:

For a long time, I made it a point to mention my faith to all of my friends, no matter the subject of conversation, location or event. To their credit, many of them were patient with me, even when we disagreed, or at least seemed to listen. Now, I can feel the glaring looks right now, so let me clarify- I am not saying that you do not share your faith, but that faith is shared not only through the flapping of your lips about it.

Some people have been hurt by other faithful before, and need to see a competent, patient, active Christian living their faith before they are privy to your personal “lecture tour.” When I was converted, it was not because some hot-shot apologist making me feel like an idiot, but by a simple mass at a small Catholic Church in Milan, Indiana at about eight on a cold, Sunday morning. The mass, and my finally grasping a piece of the enormity of what was happening in front of me was all I needed.

Now, back to the matter at hand; namely- curiosity. I want to answer the charge that Christianity is too structured to allow for intellectual scrutiny: first, a few names- Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, The Venerable Bede,
Nicolaus Copernicus, Gregor Mendel, Georges Lemaître, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, Pierre Gassendi, Roger Joseph Boscovich, Marin Mersenne, Francesco Maria Grimaldi, Nicole Oresme, Jean Buridan, Robert Grosseteste, Christopher Clavius, Nicolas Steno, Athanasius Kircher, Giovanni Battista Riccioli, William of Ockham, Galileo Galilei, Rene Descartes, Louis Pasteur, Blaise Pascal, André-Marie Ampère, Charles-Augustin de Coulomb, Pierre de Fermat, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, Alessandro Volta, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Pierre Duhem, Jean-Baptiste Dumas, Georgius Agricola.

These men, though some in lesser degrees, worked within the framework of Christianity, but their work provides the foundations for modern scientific thought, which, ironically, often seeks to shut the door on the God many of them professed every day of their lives. Admittedly, this does not answer the question of “Why even bother with a Christian framework in the first place?” While I cannot probe any one of these great minds, I can say that I personally find a Christian foundation to be a nice landing point, a runway to which I can safely return when my mind takes flight. The laws of science may govern our understanding of the universe, but Christian morality governs my understanding of life, and its divine value. I choose to violate neither, and to respect them in light of how they can inform each other.

3. A child is affectionate:

When a child likes you, they desire to have physical contact with you. When Luke sees me after school each day, he runs up and hugs me; often he wants me to hold him. Some students at school also do this very thing; children are our ultimate earthly example of love. Sometimes, when Luke is sitting on my lap, or holding my hand, or grabbing my hair, or rolling around with me on the ground, I think of how I've treated him. Some days, I think “yeah, I can see why the little guy loves me so much,” but on others, I'm thinking “If I were him, I'd want to be far away from me.”

I think this component is the hardest for adults; even when we are married, we do not often run to our spouses and embrace them on first sight, nor do we understand how to do the same towards a God who is not part of our physical existence (well, excepting the Eucharist).

Something that has always fascinated me since I became Catholic is the monastery; men, grown men, dedicating their lives to serving God, praying seven times a day with the community, working together to support the community, taking part in charitable giving, accepting people from all walks of life. I once thought “well, they have
all day to pray, I have to work!” Lord, forgive me for my ignorance. First of all, they are expected to support the monastery through their labor, and hold jobs in addition to their responsibilities to pray together. So, are we to pray the Divine Office as they do every day? It is not unheard of, but it may be impractical for many people. What can one do instead? Some suggestions:

A. Get up. Early.
Get out of bed. Do not hit the snooze, do not waste the quiet of morning. In our noisy world, this may be your best time all day for prayer or scripture study. Try 15-30 minutes early at first, drink some cold water- maybe even take a shower immediately. You may be shocked at how alert you are.

B. Meditate.

There is a long tradition of Christian meditation, and it is sorely neglected by most (even this author). This is not the meditation of the East, but one that focuses the mind on Christ, and uses scripture as a starting point. The Psalms and Proverbs are especially fertile ground. Choose a passage, and read it. Slowly. Do this until you feel that you have a firm grasp of what is being said. Find a quiet place (perhaps your early morning will be the best time- before the kids are awake, if possible) and dwell on the passage. Relax. It is at this point where my mind begins to wander through the scriptures, through my life and my family's life. Sometimes, I have trouble focusing; if you find the same is true for you, try to remember one line of the passage in particular, and use this as a “centering prayer”- one that will place your mind back on the right track. At first, this may only be five-ten minutes, but you may desire to do more in time. The prayers of the Church for each day can be found here, if you wish to use them; they are a combination of psalms, proverbs, and readings throughout the Bible:

C. Aspiratory prayer

This is a prayer that you repeat throughout your day. It is a very short form of prayer, easy to memorize. Having this prayer may help you to center yourself on Christ in times of need. It also establishes a more realistic relationship; one that lasts throughout your day, everyday, not just at certain times. Think about it: we don't just tell our children we love them, abandon them for hours, and then return, only to tell them you will spend time with them tomorrow at the same time! When you are in love, your beloved knows they are loved; it is not a scheduled thing. To me, this is the importance of aspiratory prayer- it makes the connection with Christ a relationship, and not just some celestial candy store with all of your favorite treats. Try tomorrow imagining the face of Christ, and saying “I love you” or reciting part of a verse of scripture or perhaps a psalm/proverb. In brief, nurture your relationship with Christ in even the most ordinary moments of your day, like you would with a family member, a close friend, or a loved one.

-Pax Christi

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Crusade Towards God

Almost anyone who grew up in my generation is familiar with the "Indiana Jones" movies. While considered the height of action movies upon their release, the lessons we can learn from them- in this case- "The Last Crusade"- might also help us on our spiritual journey.

At the end of the movie, Henry Jones (Indy's father, played by Sean Connery) has been shot, and is on his way to certain death- only a drink from the Holy Grail can save him. They are located in the "Canyon of the Crescent Moon", in a temple where the Holy Grail is supposedly housed. The problem with reaching the Grail is the obstacles on the way- some which will test knowledge, others which will test faith.

Before I continue with the story, I want the reader to consider a question: Can we reach God with our God-given intellect? Many think it would be in the best interest of God for him to be discernible with our minds- alas, he is not. Nobody can say for certain why God would choose to remain hidden- indeed, this is a problem for many non-believers.

I want to attempt to answer the question with another question: Will God reveal Himself to those who don't want to believe, and violate their Free Will? I personally believe that God would not do that, since the gift of Free Will includes even the ability to reject the idea of God- something self evident from the Atheist community.

So, the logical next question seems to be: How can a person who doesn't believe in God come to believe? I hope to briefly explore this with the help of Indiana Jones and his trial in the temple of the grail.

The first test in the temple involves "The Breath of God." In Henry's journal, it says "only the penitent man will pass." Indy observes the decapitated bodies of those who have previously failed the test. He whispers the words to himself, and finally understands what to do just as the pendulum's blades approach his head- he kneels in humility to this symbolic "Breath of God."

There are many places in scripture that laud humility:

-"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6)
-"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Mt. 23:12)
-"So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (1 Pt. 5:6)

So what is the role in humility in the obtainment of faith? I believe that it takes humility to open us to the possibility of God- to allow us to have faith. How many times have we been in a discussion with someone who seems to have an answer for everything? Now, that is not to say that every answer is strong and impossible to scrutinize; but have you ever recalled somebody in one of these arguments answering "I don't know"? Why are we (believers and non-believers alike) so afraid to say this? Why are we so afraid to appear weak? In admitting weakness, we admit that we have more to learn- we possess humility; in not admitting weakness, yet trying to give answers where none are available- we lie to ourselves and our "opponent." We also pretend that we have all the answers about God (or a lack thereof) when we are not honest about our ignorance. Without humility, the growth of each person is stymied.

Indy's final test involves crossing a great abyss- without any visible path. I find it appropriate to return to the earlier point about trying to reach God with our intellect, and I repeat that we cannot reach God with our minds. The modern standard is that everything "real" falls under scientific scrutiny, but we then also have to humbly admit that perhaps God is impossible to detect with scientific means, and, even if the data existed- how are we sure that we can understand it? The best (or worst) evidence is still subject to the limitations of human intellect.

So, mankind stands with Indiana Jones at this moment of Truth- do we take the step, believing that your feet will not fail; or do you stare into the abyss, wondering of it's impossibility? Indy, leaving behind all he feels he knows about the world and the laws that govern our existence, takes a step... (try to ignore the cheesy graphic at the end if you can)

I can hear the criticisms now: Are you asking us to take a step off a cliff? Obviously, I am, but not a physical one. I would ask that anyone who hears nothing but silence in their souls when they pray to not give up. Humbly admit to God that you do not know how to come to Him on your own, and that you need the gift of Faith to see Him with the eyes of your soul. Create a prayer that you say daily (or more often); start a routine of scripture reading- one that is humble about the contents of the Word of God, and not presumptuous about the certain meaning of every verse- the USCCB website has daily reading and short video reflections here:

If you still feel emptiness, keep in mind that many who are proclaimed as saints have went through the same ordeal: St. John of the Cross wrote about this in his work "Dark Night of The Soul":

"Once in a dark of night,
Inflamed with love and wanting, I arose
(O coming of delight!)
And went, as no one knows,
When all my house lay long in deep repose

All in the dark went right,
Down secret steps, disguised in other clothes,
(O coming of delight!)
In dark when no one knows,
When all my house lay long in deep repose.

And in the luck of night
In secret places where no other spied
I went without my sight
Without a light to guide
Except the heart that lit me from inside.

It guided me and shone
Surer than noonday sunlight over me,
And lead me to the one
Whom only I could see
Deep in a place where only we could be.

O guiding dark of night!
O dark of night more darling than the dawn!
O night that can unite
A lover and loved one,
A lover and loved one moved in unison.

And on my flowering breast
Which I had kept for him and him alone
He slept as I caressed
And loved him for my own,
Breathing an air from redolent cedars blown.

And from the castle wall
The wind came down to winnow through his hair
Bidding his fingers fall,
Searing my throat with air
And all my senses were suspended there.

I stayed there to forget.
There on my lover, face to face, I lay.
All ended, and I let
My cares all fall away
Forgotten in the lilies on that day."

May we all find the dawn, and when we arrive, may we rest peacefully at the bosom of our Creator. And, may we, like Indiana Jones, find the cup of eternal life, our salvation, across the great abyss-surmounted by our faith- our free gift from God. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reflections: 1/30/2011

*Please Note* I do not lay any claim of originality to any of the content on this post. I am sure that everything here is something I've heard before. These are just some thoughts I had today during Mass:

-Bear each other gently, as Christ has gently bore you.

-Strive to say much with as few words as possible (a huge challenge for me).

-Find silence in the noise of each day. Let your mind quiet the world as Christ calmed the storm.

-If I speak carelessly about others, even in the confines of my mind, I make a scandal of Christ within me.

-It is a small wonder that we have such a crisis of faith in our world. If you didn't believe, would you want to be like the average Christian?

-One of our most powerful, and misused gifts is the gift of inquiry. If, knowing God, I ask a question, desiring Truth, I scrutinize God Himself, and our relationship can grow stronger. Still, I must accept that I may not be ready for the fullness of Truth on certain matters. Like the Israelites, I may have to wait for a time, so that God may prepare me for reception.

-To be called one with "common sense" is a compliment; to be called one with "common (ordinary) faith" is an insult. If I do not love Christ uncommonly, I am sure to fall into tepidness.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Effects of the Craft Beer Revolution: A Brief Essay

Part I: A Short History

*Please Note*- My primary audience on my blog are people with very little background in craft beer. So, if you are a well-educated craft beer drinker, this article will probably not provide any new information.

-1910: 1500+ breweries
-1920: 500 breweries
-1930: 0 (legal) breweries
-1940: 550 breweries
-1950: 475 breweries
-1960: 250 breweries
-1970: 100 breweries
-1980: 50 breweries
-1990: 275 breweries
-2000: 1000 breweries
-2009: 1500+ breweries

America’s beer culture has been in a major state of flux over the last 100 years- illustrated by the very interesting statistics above. I hope to explore the story of beer in America (since 1910), and the current “craft beer” movement in this brief article.

Let’s go back to the glory days of American beer (besides the time in which we are living, more on that later)- 1910. 1500+ breweries for roughly 92,000,000 Americans- that’s about one brewery for every 60,000 Americans (children included). Even with the current boom of craft beer today, America can only boast a brewery for every 206,000 persons.

Of course, by 1930, Prohibition was in full swing, and all the immigrants from Germany, England, Ireland, Belgium and all the other great beer countries must have been very upset. Even with the revocation of Prohibition in 1933, the brewing industry did not recover their previous number of breweries until 2009. So…

Is Prohibition solely to blame for the collapse of the brewing industry in America over much of the 20th century?

The answer to that question is not as simple as it seems on its face. In some ways, yes, but the 21st amendment and its resulting regulations and laws may carry much more blame, in the long run. Let me elaborate:

Before Prohibition, most breweries were small-scale operations that distributed the majority of their products from their own brewpubs; this is very similar to the European models that existed at the time. In this era, two brewers took advantage of refrigeration and the railroad system to distribute their products nationwide: Anheuser-Busch and Pabst. Still, in this period, these two brewers did not dominate the market- the preference was still toward the brewpub model, and drinking beer at the brewpub. The wider availability of refrigeration to normal citizens in later years had a great effect on taking drinking out of the pubs, and into the home.

By the time Prohibition had struck, AB and Pabst also had other national competition in the form of Schlitz and Blatz. These companies continued to make a product referred to as “near beer”- a malt beverage with under ½ a percent alcohol. While these products were not very successful (with many drinkers preferring the illegal “speakeasy” instead), they (and other products) kept these bigger breweries afloat throughout the era. Surely, these companies were rewarded for their “entrenchedness” during Prohibition, and had an advantage over any brewery trying to renew operations after such a long layoff.

To make a very long story short- the 21st amendment required “distributors” of alcohol, virtually destroying the small brewery-brewpub model in a matter of years. These big breweries with such large distribution inroads wielded their power to create a near monopoly on beer in America. See “A Concise History of America's Brewing Industry” by Martin Stack for more in depth information.

By 1980, the ten largest breweries in the nation controlled 94 percent of the market. Bottled and canned beer made up 88% of beer sales (this figure represented only 30% of the market in 1935- a direct consequence of the distribution laws). As the “Behind the Music” documentaries are fond of saying: the making of artisanal, high quality beer had hit “rock bottom.”

Still, most craft beer lovers now view the 1980s as the second birth of craft beer in the United States. Even before that time, craft brewers that exist today, such as Anchor (founded in 1969) and Sierra Nevada (1979) came into being. Yakima (founded in 1982- my birth year), Samuel Adams (1984) and many others followed.

The industry has grown so much in the United States that recent numbers show approximately 1600 craft breweries, and that only 43% of beer consumed in this country last year was from macro (large) breweries. 13% were American craft beers, 22% were imported (craft and macro) and 22% “other” (hard to know what this is, considering the statistics refer strictly to beer:

Part II: What does it All Mean (Basil)?

At present, America is the best craft beer country in the world. There- I said it. We get the best from virtually every other country, and our own beers are very highly regarded in international beer circles:

37 of those beers are brewed right here in the USA, and rated by websites that has members from around the world. We have come very far in a very short time, and we have much for which to be proud. Still, if you looked over at the “style” of these highly regarded beers (the different varieties of beer, determined by their ingredients, strength, appearance and other factors) they largely fall into one category: Imperial Stout- 30 out of the top 50 beers on fall into this single style of beer.

These beers are at the darkest end of the beer spectrum, and reach upwards of 20% alcohol in the most extreme cases. In other words, these beers are more akin to liquor in their alcohol content. Another beer style that is highly regarded is the Imperial IPA (also known as a Double IPA). These beers have a tremendously strong hop presence, and often times, not enough malt balance to match the copious hop content.

The popularity of these beer styles, I believe, is a direct result of the craft beer “revolution.” If in a revolution we desire the opposite traits in the “new order” of things, then Imperial Stout and Double IPA fits the bill, with their bold, assertive flavors. Still, there are hundreds, perhaps more, styles of beer, and their offshoots, that are not considered serious contenders for world’s best because their flavors are more nuanced, their alcohol content more subdued.

I view this as a tremendous problem, and I think it stems from the revolutionary mentality. Some more practical examples: Many of us, before heading off to college or the work world, have a strong desire to distance ourselves from our homes. We constantly complain that something at home would be “much different if I were in charge.” Perhaps that’s true, but with all of this, we throw out much of the good things about home as well, whatever those things may be. So, we stroll out the door, throwing the “baby out with the bathwater,” and not looking back until some years later- many times concluding that it wasn’t all that bad.

I tend to see craft beer in this way- just because a beer has an alcohol content similar to macro beer, or especially because it’s pale yellow color- these things do not automatically make a beer terrible or undrinkable to the craft beer palate. This mentality is the result of painting beers similar in appearance with the same brush as cheap macro lagers, and it is unfair. The same thing happens with “dark beer”- many who have had one dark beer and don’t like it decide that all dark beer taste like that beer, and they never try a dark beer again. That would be like me trying on one pair of pants, not liking the fit, and deciding that pants in general are a bad idea. It is completely irrational, and does not take into account the many varieties of pants available.

Ultimately, my suggestion to any new craft beer drinker is- drink with as little bias as possible. Try many different styles, no matter the color, and ask a friend educated in the world of craft beer to help you make a selection. Many craft beer enthusiasts held the same biases until they found a beer that broke all their pre-conceptions. Hopefully, with a little help, you can find a beer that will open your eyes to the enjoyment of great beer.


Friday, January 21, 2011

The Sacrament of Confession

Priest- “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. You may go in peace.”

Parishioner- “Thanks be to God.”

These words are among the sweetest words that a human can hear. To describe how it feels to know that Christ forgives you, through a priest on his behalf, is very difficult.

I know that my friends from other Christian communities may read this and have conflicting feelings- and probably not positive ones- about the Sacrament of Confession.

I have been on both sides of the Christian track- I grew up in the Baptist Church, and I was always taught that we only needed to privately confess our sins to Jesus (the Catholic Church does ask us to do this as well, so that we are prepared to receive absolution when we receive the sacrament, mindful of our sins- we call this an examination of conscience). If we were earnest and honest, we would receive the absolution that the Catholic Church claims that it can give only through it’s priesthood.

Before we go any further, let me make clear that this is not going to be an exposition of Scripture and Church tradition that defends the sacrament- if you want that, go to:

So, let me return now to my previous point: that I was taught that my confession was to Christ, and Christ alone. This sounds wonderful, because you need not worry about any man knowing your sins. I mean, who would really want to do that?

The 5th Chapter of James (v. 16) tells us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Even though a priest is not mentioned in that verse; the practical advice of confessing your sins to each other still stands. Some of my friends outside the Catholic Church do this, voluntarily, by going up in front of their congregation and “spilling the beans,” so to speak, about their sins. Interestingly enough, this is also the way that the Catholic Church conducted confession in the early days of the Church (the Church later instituted private confession to protect the dignity of it’s members).

This confuses me, personally- why would someone choose to go up in front of his or her congregation and do such a brave act when they believe that Christ can heal them privately? In my opinion, it may have to do with a sort of public absolution- if the church hears their sins and can forgive them; most certainly Christ forgives them as well.

The problem I always had with this way of “absolution” is that there is really no way to know that Christ has indeed given you absolution. The absolution of the congregation is not equal to the absolution of Christ, no matter how sincere the confession. And, if you are only confessing your sins to Christ in private, there is really no way of knowing when you have sinned “78 times” (see Mt. 18:22).

This is why I consider the private confession of the Catholic Church to be a tremendous blessing in my own life- I can privately discuss my sins with a priest, trained to deal with such matters, and he can give me Christ’s absolution without the need for a public listing of my sins (see the Scripture Catholic link near the beginning of my post for more details). And, if I go to a parish where the Priest does not know me- I am doing my confession with virtually complete anonymity.

Confession is not the humbling of a parishioner before another man, but the humbling of a parishioner before his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is not humiliation, since it is not public, and it protects the dignity of sinners in coming to their Lord for forgiveness. And, best yet, you can leave the confessional knowing you have received the absolution you seek- and not having to rely on a gut feeling.

May the peace of Jesus Christ rest gently upon all, now and forever. Amen.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

First Post

So, I decided to start a blog. I'm not really sure why I felt the need to do this, but here it is, nonetheless.

A good place to start would be my interests, I suppose:

1. I am a Roman Catholic, faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium- the authoritative teaching body of the Church.
2. I have a beautiful family. If you know, you know.
3. I have, at the time of posting, tried 500+ beers from 22 countries and 25 states.
4. I lack tact, but am working on a B.S. in nuance. Maybe that was only funny to me...
5. I teach music, art and anybody who is willing to listen about my faith.
6. I wear the same five outfits over and again. Consistency is very valuable in my eyes.
7. I wanted to go to 10, but I've already ran out of things to say about myself.

I will probably speak on these subjects, and others, from time to time here. I always hope to do so in a respectful manner, but #4 above is occasionally a problem. I also don't have anything new or innovative to say, so if that's what you're seeking, well... this isn't the place.