Motherhood

May 11, 2019

Barbie Dolls vs Baby Dolls

After I published last week’s article about the 60th anniversary of the Barbie doll, my mom called me on my cell phone. I wasn’t available when she called, so she left a message. In the message, she said that she had read my article and that in addition to her concern about her daughters’ self-images being affected by the Barbie doll, she was also concerned that with the introduction of a teenage, sexualized version of a doll, there would never be a return to the days when young girls were encouraged to play with baby dolls.

May 4, 2019

Barbie Turns 60 Years Old

April 13, 2019

A New Adventure is on the Horizon

My wife Georgette was born in Tripoli, Lebanon. Three months after her birth, her parents immigrated to the United States. When they arrived in Peoria, Illinois, they could not speak, read, or write in English.

March 30, 2019

Religious Extremists and the Vietnam War

I ordinarily attend daily Mass at Sacred Heart Church in downtown Peoria. Last Monday (March 25), I saw my parents at noon Mass and talked to them after the Mass. My mom told me that it was the 58th anniversary of her consecration to the Mother of God. I knew that she had made her consecration years ago, but I was not aware of the actual date.

February 2, 2019

Stepping onto the Minefield of Excommunication

We know from the teachings of the Catholic Church that angels are pure spirits. They do not have bodies, and they do not depend on any activity or matter for their existence. Every angel is an individual person who will never die. We ordinarily see the word “angel” applied to the pure spirits who remained faithful to God. The angels who did not remain faithful to God are commonly referred to as “devils.”

If a devil were to take on the form of a human, how do you think he would look? How would he behave? There was a time during the reign of Adolf Hitler that he was considered by many to be the devil incarnate.

The definition of “incarnate” is someone who is “in human form, embodied in flesh.” At the moment that the Son of God was conceived inside the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, He became incarnate — in human form, embodied in flesh.

It could be argued that the so-called Catholic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, is the devil incarnate. On January 22, 2019 (the 46th anniversary of the infamous U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States), Governor Cuomo approved a new law in New York that had been voted on and passed by the New York State Assembly and Senate.

The new law, which was deceptively called the “Reproductive Health Act,” made it legal for any pregnant woman in New York to kill her unborn child, up until the moment of delivery. The new law also expanded the list of executioners who could be hired to do the killing, from only licensed doctors to any “healthcare practitioner.” The new law also removed protections that were in place to save babies who survive an abortion procedure, meaning that those babies can now be left on a table to die after birth.

When evil is not stopped dead in its tracks, it always continues to progressively get worse.

If what happened in New York — and what is currently happening in other states — is not stopped, the next wave of evil will be laws that give parents and the government the right to murder children and elderly people who are potential burdens on their family or society.

I watched a replay of a video that showed Governor Cuomo signing the abortion bill into law. When he signed it, he had a big smile on his face. He then declared, “Congratulations, the bill is signed!” He received a standing ovation accompanied by thunderous applause from the large crowd that was present for the signing.

The new law has stripped all fully developed unborn children in New York of their personhood. They are now nothing more than disposable property. That’s what slaves were before the Civil War — disposable property that was subject to the whims of their owners.

After Governor Cuomo approved the new law, several influential Catholics, Christians, and conservatives called on the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, to excommunicate Cuomo from the Catholic Church. While Cardinal Dolan harshly condemned the actions of Governor Cuomo, he stated that excommunication was “not an appropriate response to a politician who supports or votes for legislation advancing abortion.”

I’m not going to give my opinion on whether Cardinal Dolan should have excommunicated Governor Cuomo, but I will say this: Whatever path Cardinal Dolan decided to take on the matter, he was walking onto a field of landmines. Lucifer, the brilliant and cunning leader of all the fallen angels always has a dual strategy in place to deal with men like Cardinal Dolan. If Cardinal Dolan had excommunicated Governor Cuomo, Lucifer and his followers would have seen to it that the power brokers would unleash a flurry of accusations and threats against Cardinal Dolan and the Catholic Church.

As a reminder, the “power brokers” are the men and women who are in control of Hollywood, the mainstream media, the institutions of higher education, the public school system, the multinational corporations, the high-tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Netflix, and our federal, state, and local governments.

If Cardinal Dolan had excommunicated Cuomo from the Catholic Church, the power brokers would have immediately pushed for the removal of the tax-exempt status of the Catholic Church, its agencies, and its healthcare institutions. They would have screamed at the top of their lungs that the Church has no business threatening politicians. Some of them would have also surreptitiously called for violence against Cardinal Dolan, the Catholic Church, Catholic priests, and members of the Catholic Church.

This is how bad things have gotten in America today. There was a time when Catholics and Christians were left alone to practice their faith and live their lives in peace. Those times are gone forever. There is now constant pressure that is being exerted by the power brokers to bully, intimidate, and force those of us who believe in Jesus Christ to comply with their evil plans.

So what did Lucifer’s agents do after Cardinal Dolan refused to excommunicate Governor Cuomo? They instigated multiple attacks against him and his fellow bishops. They (again) branded the bishops as impotent cowards who are no longer willing or capable of leading the Catholic Church in the way that Christ intended them to lead. The power brokers will never give up in their efforts to completely destroy the influence and credibility of the spiritual leaders of the Catholic Church.

When I was preparing to write this article, I stumbled upon a 2012 National Review article that was written by Michael Walsh. The title to the article was “What Would Dagger John Do?” The article started out by stating:

In 1844, faced with a Nativist threat to burn down St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (at Prince and Mott streets), John J. Hughes, the Irish-born bishop (and later first archbishop) of New York, gathered several thousand of his mostly Irish parishioners and deployed them around the church. Any attack on the cathedral, warned the man known as “Dagger John,” would be repulsed with force. The Nativists backed down.

December 22, 2018

Can We Stop Sending Christmas Newsletters?

For the past several years, Georgette and I have done what a lot of families do during the Christmas season — mail a Christmas newsletter and a picture of our family to our relatives and friends. When we started mailing the newsletter, it was less than a page long, but over the years, as our family grew with marriages and grandchildren, the newsletter eventually expanded to four pages of text (two pages, front and back).

A few years ago, Georgette and I decided that we were going to discontinue the newsletter. While we had received compliments over the years from various individuals, we felt that four pages were excessive and that it was unreasonable to expect people with busy lives to sit down and read a four-page newsletter about our family.

We announced to our children that we were going to discontinue the Christmas newsletter. Our youngest daughter Teresa refused to accept our decision and told us that if we weren’t going to write the newsletter, she was going to do it on her own. She then proceeded to do exactly what she threatened she would do. She wrote a four-page newsletter. We didn’t want to offend her, especially after she had taken the time to write it, so we mailed the newsletter with our family picture.

Every year since then, Georgette and I have told Teresa that a newsletter was not necessary, but she has consistently insisted that she be allowed to carry on the tradition. This year, I actually thought that Teresa would finally relent and give up on her quest to continue writing the newsletter. Why? Because at the ripe young age of 22, she works the equivalent of two full-time jobs. Her first job is with a local company as a web designer, photographer, and graphic designer. Her second “job” is her own wedding photography business (photographsbyteresa.com).

I was wrong about Teresa being too busy to write the newsletter. As usual, she refused to take no for an answer and wrote the newsletter. Here’s how she began the newsletter:

I received a text message last week. It was from my dad. This is what his message said:

September 15, 2018

A Formula for Conquering Loneliness

I’ve written before about how I grew up in a family neighborhood that included seven families. My grandparents, Tom and Effie Williams, lived next door to my parents. The other families in the neighborhood were made up of my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

When it wasn’t raining outside, most of the mothers in the neighborhood did not tolerate children being in their homes for very long. If we were in a home watching TV and the weather was tolerable, the mother of the house would usually turn off the TV and make us go outside. My cousins and I spent most of our time outdoors.

There was a huge tree in the neighborhood and for years we competed with each other as to who could climb the highest. We proved how high we were able to climb by carving our initials in the tree at the highest possible point.

All of us became adept at outdoor games such as Hide and Seek, Jumping Rope, and Spud, (a game where players tried to eliminate the others by catching and throwing a ball at each other). We played football, Frisbee, badminton, volleyball, croquet, and Jarts (lawn darts). We set up a baseball diamond on a vacant lot that my dad owned, and two of the houses in the neighborhood had half-sized outdoor basketball courts.

We also spent time in my parents’ in-ground swimming pool. Our favorite games included Marco Polo and Chicken Fighting (where we would get on each other’s shoulders and wrestle until one of us fell into the pool). We also competed with each other to see how long we could hold our breath underwater.

When it was raining, we kept ourselves busy inside, playing numerous board and card games.

When I wasn’t with my siblings or cousins, I kept myself busy by building things out of wood, lifting weights, throwing knives at trees, shooting a bow and arrow, and shooting guns.

Growing up in our family neighborhood was the closest a child could ever get to being in paradise.

Of course, growing up in a family of 17 children also had its own adventures. In a family that size, there was frequent teasing, laughing, arguing, scheming, and manipulation of younger siblings to perform our assigned jobs. There was always so much going on that all of us learned how to thrive in chaos.

Needless to say, our large family and the neighborhood that we lived in provided a very stimulating environment which required all of us to share, get along, cooperate, and create new ways to entertain ourselves.

All that abruptly ended for me in August 1975, when I went away to college. I attended undergraduate school at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. It was the first time that I had ever been on my own, away from home, for an extended period of time.

While I was excited about the new challenges that I was facing, I was extremely lonely. The loneliest day of each week was Sunday, the day that our family had always been together. While I was growing up, on Sundays, we attended Mass together in the morning and then got back together for dinner later in the afternoon. In the evening, we usually made popcorn and sat together in the family room to watch The Wonderful World of Disney.

During my first year of college, there were a lot of days that I wanted to quit and go home. On Sundays, to get my mind off of how lonely I was, I would take long walks and imagine being with my family, cousins, and friends, doing the things that I had always enjoyed doing with them.

During the spring semester of my freshman year, we had a guest speaker in one of my classes who told us about a program that he was in charge of. The program was designed to teach children basic skills that those of us who grew up in stable families took for granted. After his presentation, the speaker asked us to consider signing up as volunteers for his program, to teach underprivileged children the basic skills that were necessary to function normally in society.

I’m not sure why, but I signed up for the program. After that, every Friday, I drove to the facility where the program was taking place and did whatever the supervisor told me to do. My first assignment was to work with a 12-year-old boy who was from a poor, single-parent home. My job was to teach him how to identify and count money.

The boy that I worked with was a good kid with normal intelligence. I was shocked when I learned that he didn’t know what a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter was. He was aware that the coins represented money, but he didn’t know the names of the coins, their value, or how they were used for purchasing things. I didn’t know where to start. How do you explain to a young, inexperienced boy what a quarter is?

I had trouble identifying with his situation. When I was 12 years old, I had my own paper route and a checkbook that I reconciled every month, when the bank statement came in the mail.

As I worked with the boy each week to teach him about money and to help him develop his math skills, an amazing thing happened. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and being lonely. Why? Because my mind was now focused on how grateful I was for what God had given me. Instead of thinking of myself, I thought about the boy I was helping. I also thought about all the underprivileged children who were destined for a life of uncertainty and struggle, because they were not fortunate enough to grow up in stable families where their parents and the other people around them taught them the basics that they needed to grow into mature, productive adults.

After going through the experience of teaching the boy how to identify and count money, I realized that one of the formulas for dealing with loneliness was to reach out and help others who were less fortunate than I was. The very act of helping others who were in desperate need forced me to stop thinking about myself and to focus on the people I was helping.

There’s something magical about reaching out to others who are in need. It’s magical because of the way that God created us. He created us to personally benefit when we voluntarily provide assistance to others who are in need. Reaching out to help others creates spiritual electricity that lights up our emotions and our sense of well-being. Without the spiritual electricity that is created when we help others, our emotions and sense of well-being can easily drift into darkness and despair.

Several years after my experience of teaching the boy how to identify and count money, I realized that the Catholic Church already had the formula that I had discovered for conquering loneliness. The name of that formula is the “Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.”

As a reminder, the corporal works of mercy are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the sorrowful, and pray for the living and the dead.

Today, any time that I meet somebody who is hyperfocused on their own depression, loneliness, victimhood, or despair, I try to encourage them to join an organization where they can do volunteer work for people who are less fortunate than they are. I tell them that it’s always best to start with an organization that has a structure in place for helping others, rather than attempting to figure out on their own how they can consistently and predictably help others who are in need.

For those people who are devout Catholics, in addition to doing volunteer work, I try to persuade them to seek out and assist others who are in need of their guidance, friendship, and prayers.

What I’m suggesting here is contrary to our fallen human nature, which favors selfishness and the avoidance of people who are in need. But such behavior is in direct opposition to one of the primary purposes for which we were created — to love our neighbor as ourselves.

This is a very valuable formula for conquering loneliness, depression, and despair. I hope you will use it and teach it to others, which is in and of itself a spiritual work of mercy.

September 1, 2018

The Beatles, Cadillacs, and Aretha Franklin

In the marketing world, the phrase “passion brand” refers to a product that has a passionate following among its customers. In addition to being loyal to the product, the customers also personally identify with it. If necessary, they will expend the time and energy to defend the product when someone criticizes it. The ownership of the product becomes a statement in and of itself — a statement that the customer has achieved a special status because of their affiliation with the product.

A passion brand not only applies to products, but also applies to celebrities, groups, and service providers. A customer can be passionate about a car, an item of clothing, a rock star, a restaurant, a food item, or an electronic device. The message behind most passion brands is that the brand itself stands for something that is much more significant than what it actually does for the customer.

You may have heard of “Beatlemania,” a phenomenon that changed our culture and captured the hearts and minds of teenagers and young adults during the 1960s. It started in Liverpool England in 1960, with an English rock band — the Beatles — and arrived in America in February 1964, when the Beatles flew from London’s Heathrow Airport to New York’s Kennedy Airport. Their arrival in the United States was later referred to as “The British Invasion.”

Here’s what one of the Beatles, Paul McCartney, said about their flight to New York:

There were millions of kids at the airport, which nobody had expected. We heard about it in mid-air. There were journalists on the plane, and the pilot had rang ahead and said, “Tell the boys there’s a big crowd waiting for them.” We thought, “Wow! God, we have really made it.”

August 4, 2018

Advice from a Millennial

You may have heard of Ben Shapiro. He’s an American conservative political commentator, lawyer, and author. Shapiro has a podcast that I sometimes listen to. A podcast is a digital audio recording that can be listened to after it has been downloaded from the internet onto a computer, iPad, iPhone, or other digital device.

Shapiro is a millennial — someone who was born between 1981 and 1996. He is very popular with other millennials. He is youthful, humorous, witty, talks fast, and is very smart. Shapiro is in his early 30s and is married. Both he and his wife are Jewish and are faithful to their religion — Orthodox Judaism. They have two children, a daughter and a son.

During his podcast, Shapiro sometimes answers questions from people who subscribe to his podcast. Most of the questions are political in nature; however, he is sometimes asked for advice concerning marriage, religion, and raising children. He usually offers very good advice that is based on the same Judeo-Christian values that I was taught when I was growing up during the 1960s and ’70s.

Here’s one of the questions Shapiro recently answered on his podcast:

I’m a stay at home mom of a six- and two-year-old. My husband and I have pretty much decided we’re not going to have any more children, but lately, I’ve been having some second thoughts. Not because I want more kids. It’s a challenge handling the ones I have now, and I feel like we’ll be able to offer more attention and opportunities to our kids since there’s just two, but I almost feel like we have some sort of responsibility to have more since we’re a stable Christian home. We have a great relationship and my husband is putting in the hard work, so I can be home full time. I’m just curious about your thoughts on this. Thanks.

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