I write, speak, invest, network, and question to stimulate fruitful conversation. Let's talk about human flourishing! It begins with freedom. Holy leisure is the key to human being, freedom and generativity. Please join me in the adventure of realizing Christ!
Is a blastocyst a human being?
Yes! Nowadays, it’s important for me to make sure this is clear. There’s already an anti-life mentality operating in the abortion industry. Catholics recognize the same principles operating in the birth control industry. Pro-life Protestant women are questioning, more and more, their use of the Pill. In answer to their concerns about its abortifacient properties, doctors are ‘re-framing’ the reality of pregnancy by saying it begins with implantation. Nothing could be further from the truth, yet it gives women on the fence just enough ‘plausible deniability’ to continue using the Pill.
You will not fully grasp the beauty of the blastocyst unless you realize that a unique, unrepeatable human person with an eternal destiny is present from the very moment of conception. Please fight against the insidious redefinition of pregnancy wherever you find it!
See how I love blastocysts: I even wrote a poem about one!
Describe the matrix of support provided within the Church for your nurture and growth.
Like a placenta, the Church is filled with ‘structures’ that connect me with Christ – the source of my being. Its liturgy (both Mass and the Divine Office), Sacraments, prayers, doctrines and history, rituals, blessings, canon law, words, gestures, buildings and symbols strengthen me. Through its network of bishops and priests, I am connected to the Head of the Body. Through its network of local churches, agencies, and alliances, I become linked to the movement of grace, flowing outward, and of prayers, flowing inward to the Sacred Heart. The church is suffused with the perfume of Mary and the Saints, so that I breathe in a purified air. The Church surrounds me with a cloud of witnesses to bolster my weakness as I grow in virtue. Through her, I will be prepared for the birth-into-eternity we here call death.
How must you act to initiate the development of the ‘placental’ connection between you and Mother Church?
I must move toward her, as a blastocyst moves toward the lining of the womb. I must nestle myself securely into her limits, boundaries, obligations, and hold myself open as well as I can to receive all she gives to me. Once implanted, I simply trust the life-building process by which I develop more and more hunger for the nutrients she supplies. As faith grows in me, I grow in appetite and capacity for more of the Faith of Mother Church.
Why does God distribute His riches to me through a mediating structure, and not directly?
Structure (like a placenta) makes a way between two beings when they are disproportionate in size, or power. Structure is the means by which God gives Himself to me. I could not appropriate all that He wants to give me by merely thinking about Him. I am a body-soul unity, and He cares for me as a whole person – desiring to touch me sensibly, feed me actually, and guide me unambiguously. He does not simply infuse His wisdom into my being (as with angels), but encloses me in an environment from which I can draw into myself some nth part of all He intends to give as I grow up in all things unto Christ.
What does a mother’s ‘diet’ have to do with the education of her children?
Once out of the placenta-supplied womb, children grow in the shelter of the home. The mother, primarily, is the one who enriches that environment and structures its interface with the wider world. Her health, maturity, formation, taste, virtue, and personality all characterize the home. What she takes into herself becomes more easily accessed by her children – for better, or for worse. If she is impoverished, in any sense, they will suffer, to some degree.
What do grace and water have in common?
Both grace and water are vitally necessary to life – one to spiritual and one to physical life. The very presence of both – in addition to whatever particulars they carry to us – is necessary to maintain a perfect interior/exterior balance. That balance is critical at the level of the individual cell (or believer) and at every higher level (organs, systems, whole persons; local and national churches, whole Body of Christ). Both flow in a circular pattern – prayers lifted, grace given through Sacraments; evaporation, condensation, rain. We can become needy for both – ‘dehydrated’ – and must reach out for that grace, or water, that corresponds to our need. Systemic problems will be cause by persistent dehydration, even at a low, or cellular level, as the body must initiate defensive maneuvers and prioritize critical systems to ensure life to the whole person. I imagine there is a spiritual parallel here for the Body of Christ, whose every member needs to be as full of grace as possible in order for the Body to function smoothly.
How is a television like a placenta?
A TV mediates between the viewer and something beyond his power to grasp directly. The news of places he could not visit, depictions of lives from the past, or lifestyles foreign or inaccessible to him, and messages about behavioral norms and beliefs that predominate in the world ‘outside’ his own sphere all shape his understanding of that world, and his response to it. For too many people, the TV is the main experience they have of a safe, cozy, undemanding environment that seems to give itself, or pleasurable material to them in a constant flow.
How does a TV fall short as a placenta?
The true, maternal placenta is a two-way structure, with real persons on each side. On the other side of a child’s TV, there is no one who yearns toward him in love, desires his growth into a higher reality, and prays for his welfare. In fact, on the other side of the TV there is someone who yearns only for him to be influenced to stay put for commercials, desires him to remain fully absorbed in its embrace and to forget any higher reality. “The set can’t respond to his needs, can’t help buffer him from sensory overload, can’t protect him from toxic material…” (SAW, pg. 24)
Does the TV transmit ‘reality,’ or ‘unreality’?
There is some correspondence between what is seen on TV and ‘reality’. I can get a look at real people, places and objects through its ‘eye’. Its shows may speak truthfully about real events, or with artistic truth about human being, relationships, and destiny. Through it, I may discover examples of true virtue, artistic or athletic virtuosity, wonders of Creation, heroes, and opportunities to help others. It may even connect me with just the right product to truly meet some need of mine. All good.
On the other hand, TV shows frame reality and sometimes distort it. Is the hero presented, but his religious faith left out of the story? Is the news biased against certain countries, or moral positions? Do its shows present behaviors, attitudes and beliefs as normative that are in conflict with our own? Is a TV concert close enough to the reality of a live performance to substitute for it? How ‘bout televised Nature? Mass? How ‘real’ are ‘reality’ shows?
Does TV ‘experience’ lead the viewer to turn off the set and move himself toward the experience of reality, or vice versa? Is a viewer gaining practice in using good judgment for problem-solving if he or she follows the examples in these shows? Do the ads correspond to real needs, or are advertisers cultivating or creating need, manipulating fears and insecurities, giving incomplete information in order to sell products?
A television set is, in itself, morally neutral, like a gun. Television programming can be used for great good (EWTN, for example), for enjoyment and entertainment, for connecting us to reality. Or not.
P.S. Here’s a bit of a review I wrote of Dr. Eugene Gan’s book, Infinite Bandwidth. I highly recommend it!
I actually got so absorbed in this book I forgot I was reading a copy I did not own! Can you go to hell for marking up a book (not just underlining, but STARS and snarky comments like, “as if anyone in the Church is listening”, cross-references like “GKC would love this!”, red ink: “THIS is the art of teaching!!!” and even personal memos: “add this to files: education, art, media, beauty”)?
How do you regulate what you ‘ingest’ from media?
I have to keep myself from gulping down too many books! (could you be a Bookaholic?) So, I set limits there, and an intention to respond in some way to each book. That slows the flow.
I don’t have a TV (St. Therese and the black box, anyone??), but have a monitor/DVD player. I try to be careful about the content of movies, and about how often we watch. To me, family-together time is ‘expensive’ (rare, valuable), so I don’t want to ‘spend’ much of it in front of movies. I like movies we can compare to the book version (must read book first, imho!) in conversation afterward. I enjoy comedies, and have to be careful about accepting more questionable content when it is couched in humor.
Theater movies are, in general, so expensive that we only rarely go. Most movies are only ‘worth’ a DVD-sized investment. We don’t have any movie streaming service, because I know that would be a huge temptation to me, to get caught up in some of the TV serials that are now available in ‘bulk’ without commercials. Even when the content is benign, I want to guard time, which is a precious resource.