Free Flow

Sometimes I don’t know.  It’s been such a crazy journey.  I have no idea how I got here.  I have no idea how we got here.  Like a caterpillar digging through a mountain, we have pressed on and on, ever slowly, on through.  And here we are.  At the precipice of the next step.  I am completely grateful and in shock of landing a solid internship.  There are so many emotions.  It’s not the perfect internship in every day.  And we are leaving behind the most amazing community.  A great school for our kids.  Family.  People who support us.  So many of those people continue to support us and talk about their own journeys.  It’s all about trust I suppose.  Relatedly, it’s about detachment.  Trusting that our Lord will give us what we need.  That is what we needed to do in the first place.  When we got married, had our first child.  We had to trust.  When we started this crazy grad program.  We needed to trust.  We had no idea what we were getting in to.  We had no idea that we were going to be pushed to the absolute limits of our capabilities.  Challenged physically, emotionally, spiritually.  That we would have two children while Lauren stayed at home and I as a full-time graduate student and worker.  I remember that first semester.  The program seemed 1) So much harder 2) So much longer and 3) So free of responsibility.  Since then I have grown in so many ways.  I am a completely different person in so many ways.  I have developed many academic, helping, and professional skills.  I have pushed myself to the brink and beyond.  Working on reports and internship cover letters.  Balancing school and family.  I doubted at times that we would be able to get through this program, and, though there are so many more hoops to jump through, there is light.  We are going to make it.  Three and a half years of this crazy and now we begin the journey to move on: it is the beginning of the end.  Our marriage has been pushed to the brink as well, and we have come through stronger.  Our faith and hope has been challenged, and we are even more devoted.  I personally can’t say that I have gotten in better shape, but I’m at least inspired to return to exercise!  At this point, I have a plan in place in terms of balance.  It is the first time in a long time that I have a comprehensive plan of life.  It’s still quite lacking.  But for the longest time, when I planned my week, I focused on the various school-related (or school plus practicum related) tasks and just let everything else go by the wayside.  That didn’t work.  So I stopped making plans.  I just did as much work whenever I could.  While I have been largely successful with regards to getting work done and accomplishing, it has run me into the ground.  I now realize that I need to plan other things too.  Like I have on my plan for tomorrow that after the kids go to bed I am going to spend an hour doing some sort of exercise, prayer, and self-care before I dive into the neuropsychological evaluation I need to begin.  Even last week, I would have just begun the evaluation, and then if I got done early, I would have just done something on facebook or whatever.  I have gotten to the point that I can’t do that anymore.  I need to be more intentional about my time.  I need to grow up.  To become a professional.  By that I mean, I can’t just pretend that things are going to get done.  I can’t just say, “I’ll work on that report now, and some other time I’ll take care of myself.”  Part of completing reports is taking care of myself.  Just like part of loving my family is exercise and prayer.  Just like part of being a good therapist 2 years from today means giving myself leisure time this week.  Building those healthy habits helps build virtue.  I have been a person of extremes for this whole time in graduate school.  I have been so prolific.  But I have been so depressed.  So burnt out.  Irritated.  Compromising my future for today’s work.  It’s not worth it.  I’m good enough to be able to handle work when I need to handle it.  At the same time, I’m better equipped to work when I can focus.  When I have that inner peace.  When I don’t have to force myself to work.  When i can choose to do so and thus am able to put my whole into it.  Too often, I forget myself to work and I am only half-devoted to it.  I am hopeful that as I continue to live balance, the time I do work will be multiplied in that I will accomplish more in a given time than I did before.  


Readings 2/10/14

1 Kings 8:1-7; 9-13

This reading reminds me of the grace that the Lord deigns to give me.  The ark of the covenant, the law of God, given out of love and compassion, is like the spiritual gifts the Lord gives.  The Lord gives virtues; He sends His Holy Spirit; he gives Himself in the Eucharist.

Solomon, full of wisdom rightly led his people in sacrifice of thanksgiving before receiving and putting in its place the ark of the covenant.  They sacrificed “too many sheep and oxen to number and count.”  Solomon knew that the gifts of redemption were worth more than any material good he had been given.  Moreover, though Israel did not earn the gift of the ark of the covenant, God gave his gift freely.  In thanksgiving for the gifts, Solomon sacrificed.

How infrequently I sacrifice in thanksgiving!  How infrequently do I come close to comprehending the wondrous graces that the Lord bestows upon me!   Would that I imitated Solomon who, in his right reason, gave thanks and praise of a great magnitude, like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with expensive oil, like the widow who gave to the poor with her last coin.  Like the simple congregation which praises the Lord with fine vessels in which to places His most Precious Body and Blood.

Lord, give me the wisdom and grace to honor you with a pure sacrifice of thanks and praise.  May I give you of my bounty, so that, upon detaching from finite things, I may cling ever more securely to the infinite love you wish to give me.

Mark 6:53-56

The Lord did marvelous things in the midst of his people.  They were astonished and comforted.  They were surprised and hopeful.  They traveled to him for the chance to be healed.  They saw the Glory of God and the works o the Lord.  They experienced the power of the Spirit.  Everywhere Jesus went people flocked to Him.  He healed their bodies and their souls.

The people sought healing.  Though he came to be known for his power, they did not seek power.  They sought healing.  They did not wish to be affirmed in their state.  They sought healing.  They didn’t approach him so that he could judge which form of religion is greatest.  They sought healing.  Deep, penetrating, soul-cleansing healing.

How often I turn to Jesus, not as a sinner who needs healing, but as a prideful son who seeks affirmation in my own judgments and ideology.  Who would rather be affirmed by Jesus, hearing, “son you are right,” rather than, “son, be healed.”

Lord Jesus, grant me the humility to uncover my sins and to turn to you for healing and forgiveness.  Open my heart to receive your healing and grace.

From Fr. Z: Gov. Andrew Cuomo: conservatives “have no place in the state of New York”

Fr. Z shared a distressing article about New York that I’m afraid will be the trend in our country, the more we hope to follow Canada and Europe.

The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life[!] pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.  [Will he have people rounded up and deported?  Perhaps he’ll inter them in camps with the help of the National Guard.]

[Fr. Z’s emphases and comments]

Where is the freedom, the tolerance, the multiculturalism in scapegoating and eliminating political enemies?  That is the broad lie of the ideology of multiculturalism: adhere to my version of diversity or leave.  Seems more like uniculturalism to me (aka totalitarianism).  What kind of free society is this??

Real-life Quotes From Adherents to Scientism

I’m baffled by the logical consistency and rational prowess of the flock of scientism-followers.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  I read that in a book Dawkins wrote and Bill Maher talked about, and he’s cool, so yeah.  That’s what I believe.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  ‘Cause faith doesn’t feel right to me.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  Because religious believers are just sheep following blindly.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  I couldn’t refute the logic of my philosophy 101 teacher, so that’s what makes the most sense to me.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  The Catholic Church did mean things to people 500 years ago, so science and logic and reason make more sense to me.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  Catholics are bigots, and I’m afraid of being called a bigot, so I’m all for science and reason.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  Faith is really hard.  So science and reason and logic are more my cup of tea.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  All the so-called gods are pretty much the same according to some anthropologist I read in Popular Science, so if they all sound the same, why would I believe in any one of them?

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.   Christmas is basically based on pagan ideas.  So science and logic and reason make more sense to me.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  My girlfriend is an atheist so I’m joining her.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  Religion is just opium, and I was basically chosen as the D.A.R.E. class representative, so I’m staying away from that junk.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  Didn’t people just invent religion because they didn’t have science yet?  Religion doesn’t exist because science explains things better.  Science can answer every possible question.  So religion doesn’t exist.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  99% of religious people are dumber while scientism-followers are smarter.  So there.

Science and logic and reason are the only ways to access knowledge and wisdom in the universe.  Look–it hurts non-believers’ feelings when you say that religion may have some explanatory power.  Maybe for you, God exists, but for me, God doesn’t.

That is to say, there are some legitimate arguments against faith, using actual reason and logic instead of fallacious reasoning.  And there are some legitimately fallacious arguments for faith, to be sure.

Most of us value reason and logic.  Most of us want to live consistently with our values–but what a difficult journey for believers and non-believers alike!  How prone we all are to believing lies and false reasoning.

“Liberal” Catholics Are Not Progressive Enough

I don’t understand actions and attitudes quite common in many American Roman Catholic  believers, attitudes which are, at their core, the fruits of the Enlightenment.  Ideals such as freedom and progress, as defined and practiced by today’s standards are fine.  But when mixed with Christianity–I get confused when Enlightenment-defined freedom subverts Christian freedom.  That is merely one example.

For the longest time, I rationalized that perhaps believers of this persuasion were simply heirs to the Enlightenment, and that was all they knew.  Indoctrinated in Enlightenment thought, they learned to emphasize Enlightenment values over any other values.  They received a thoroughly Enlightenment-influenced education and control a media landscape with a tendency toward brainwashing “progressivism.”

But people have a choice.  They are rational beings with a heart and a soul, who can make choices.  Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular presents a starkly contrasting view.  Christianity presents a more progressive view of  life, humanity, the future, death, and all sorts of terribly important aspects of living, compared with the drab gray, literally hopeless Enlightenment landscape.

Enlightenment living is static–for something is only better if it supports the meta-narrative of progress-de jure.  Since objective truths and values are anathema, real, lasting progress is only an ideal and can never be a reality in Enlightenment-influenced living.   Truly, the academy and the media concoct and promote a view of life so limiting, so anti-progress.   The axiom goes something like this: I am who I am and you are who you are, and that’s enough.   How is that progressive?

Want real choice?  Christianity offers expansive freedom and choice.  Want real, deep down hope?  Christianity offers that as well.  Believe in humanism?  The goodness of humanity at the core?  Christianity offers a deeper, comprehensive view of humanity.  Want to help people?  Real, lasting help?  Help which transcends ideology?  That started and ends with Christianity as well.

What I don’t understand is why believers prefer a twisted, anti-Christian brand of Christianity to what is really there. Why, when given the choice between the candy-saccharine heterodox Christianity and the joyous feast which orthodoxy provides, that heterodoxy is ever chosen?

C.S. Lewis in “The Weight of Beauty” said it better, as always:

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and to eagerly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion…is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Of course in reality, it’s not an either-or endeavor.  None of us is perfect.  None of us is precisely obedient to the Lord and His Church.  All of us land on a continuum between heteropraxy and orthopraxy.

But, I’m not talking about heteropraxy (doing things contrary to the Lord and His Church) and orthopraxy (doing things in line with the Lord’s teachings and His Church).

I’m talking about heterodoxy (believing in things contrary to the Lord and His Church) and orthodoxy (believing in things in line with the Lord and His Church).  We all fall short, in practice.  To soak-in, breathe, teach, and argue for non-truth (heterodoxy), to the exclusion of truth–that is what I don’t understand.

Christianity is the true progressive heuristic, as compared with paganism or deterministic humanism/scientism or anything else.  Buddhism, teaching that people can become one, is progressive, but falls short of the progressivism of Christianity.  Christianity believes that people can actually progress–to be more like God–and to unite with God.  That doctrine is infinitely more progressive than any other belief conjured by the Democratic party, or by the overlords of scientism and the Enlightenment.

What is more progressive than knowing that each person’s potential is infinite?  A limited, constricting view of progressivism propagated by contemporary ruling powers falls short of the true progressivism taught by Christianity:

God Himself was born.  He healed and taught.  He suffered, died, and rose again.  Through sanctifying grace we can rise as well, as He did.

Now that’s progress!

P-values: Destroying the Barrier Between Scientific and Creative Writing

English: Illustration of the difference betwee...

If you recall from your stats 101 class p-values represent the probability that a quantitative finding reflects actual reality, such as some sort of difference between groups.  Statisticians use arbitrary cutoffs to define “statistical significance.”  P < 0.05 is a very common cutoff, meaning that if your result achieves a p-value of 0.05 or less, then the finding is said to be “statistically” significant, or, there is a 95% chance that your groups are different (or your therapy made a difference, or there was a change in functioning, ect.).  There is great controversy between statisticians and researchers regarding statistical significance.  I read a paper recently titled, “The Difference Between Statistically Significant or Not Is Not, Itself, Statistically Significant.”  Best.  Title.  Ever.  Basically, if p = 0.05 is significant, then what to say about p = 0.08?  Is there a dichotomy, in reality, between a finding which is statistically significant versus one which is not?  What about p = .05000000000001?  And so the debate rages.

I have only a limited understanding of statistics and of probability theory in general and am not necessarily interested in commenting on the debate itself.  However, interested as I am in epistomology especially with regards to political philosophy, and philosophy of science, I found this article fascinating.

It lists multitudes of ways of describing findings which are p > 0.05.  Many of them express something along the lines of “pretty much significant, but not really.”  For example,

approached near significance (p=0.06)
approached our criterion of significance (p>0.08)
approached significant (p=0.11)
approached the borderline of significance (p=0.07)
approached the level of significance (p=0.09)
approached trend levels of significance (p0.05)
approached, but did reach, significance (p=0.065)
approaches but fails to achieve a customary level of statistical significance (p=0.154)
approaches statistical significance (p>0.06)
approaching a level of significance (p=0.089)
approaching an acceptable significance level (p=0.056)
approaching borderline significance (p=0.08)

From the standpoint of argument, it is interesting that there are so many creative ways to nudge a reader toward believing your point of view.  This perspective informs my skepticism toward grandiose public policy based on “science.”  In practice within social and political spheres, “facts” proclaimed by “science” [especially neuroscience] reflect essential and unquestionable reality.  In theory, “science” can only suggest tentative hypotheses, not infrequently supported by evidence “approaching a level of statistical significance.”

Science sure has its place.  There are definitely ways to qualify and quantify statistical and scientific findings.  Science is a powerful tool to investigate the natural world.  Science and technology enrich our lives and can be forces for good.  But science has its limits.  Any competent scientist will readily admit that scientific findings are tentative and that science, in general, while very powerful for studying natural phenomena, is ultimately limited in its quest for truth.  A scientist who fails to acknowledge as much is either ignorant or a charlatan.  And no, that’s not a false dichotomy.

Makes Me Weep

This is an utterly gorgeous guitar quartet performance of Bach’s Prelude No. 1 from the Well-Tempered Clavier.  That piece is awesome no matter what the instrument, but I’ve never heard it sing so much as when LAGQ played it.  The amazing part is that despite each player contributing only 2 notes to the arpeggios, the sound is so seamless.  Definitely listen on stereo to get the full effect.