Grateful for Every Day: 3 Episodes of Alzheimer’s

This past weekend, my mother, husband, and sister flew down to Georgia to take my grandmother to her family reunion. My grandma has Alzheimer’s, and it’s a disease, like so many others, that only gets worse.

At times, I admit, it has disturbed my faithful commitment to the intrinsic value of life as worth living. But I’d like to share a few episodes from our trip that underscore her untarnished ability to love and to give. (Names have been changed)

The Whole Gang

Grandma is riding in the front seat while mom drives. She nods off often, head drooping low with her chin almost touching her chest. The angle of it scares me. She wakes up sometimes and looks at my mom. “Won’t you stay in my apartment tonight?” she invites. “You can sleep on the pull out bed in the living room.”

“Thank you,” mom says, “but I’m staying at Park Circle tonight.” That’s where grandma lived for over fifty years before she moved into assisted living.

Grandma seems concerned. “Oh, are you alone?” she asks.

“No,” mom answers patiently.

“Well, who’s with you?” Grandma wants to know.

Mom shakes her head. This conversation has already happened three times during the car ride. “Look behind you.”

Grandma shifts her weight and cranes her neck to look into the back seat. She almost jumps! She is clearly surprised to see my sister, my husband and me sitting there. “Oh!” she exclaims, “I forget they were here.”

“Do you know who they are?” my mom quizzes her.

“Yeeah,” she draws southernly, “that’s Jeff, Stephanie, Lynne and Anna.”Lynne, our other sister, is not there, but Grandma has correctly identified that Lynne and Anna usually come as a pair. Continue reading

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Seeds of the Gospel: NYC’s Soda Ban – People know morality means discipling our desires

No longer available in “venti”

Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on the selling of soda in sizes greater than 16 oz. has been pretty controversial and has been widely publicized on the internet. If you haven’t heard, here’s an article about it.

Before you think I’m endorsing it (based on the title) see my take at the bottom. But it’s interesting isn’t it? The goal is to help people live healthy lives by limiting the amount of damage they can do to themselves.

It makes sense, sort of. But the reason I listed it as a seed of the Gospel (or good news), is that classically, morality as been understood as the willful discipline of human desires that are disordered–that is, which don’t contribute to our overall well-being.

One obvious type of this is food. It’s pretty easy to desire a large pizza, soda, cheese fries, etc, etc when what we really need is veggies and lean protein. Of course there is also the flip side of being so focused on body-image that we don’t eat enough. Both inclinations have problems (hence they are disordered). It’s virtue that moderates between them.

So here’s part of what I think about the NYC soda ban, the mayor and people in general understand this concept of virtue-driven morality deep down inside. And they want desperately to live good, healthy (that is, moral) lives.

But the catch is Continue reading

Prometheus: Why Aliens Will Never Be Satisfying

There are lots of interpretations of the new Ridley Scott film Prometheus floating around on the web right now. And when my husband couldn’t wait to see it, I saw it with him, now I can contribute to the theories.

The film’s strongest thoughtful element is the android David and his interactions with the other characters as creature to creator. But as interesting as that is, the film remains utterly unsatisfying, not because it doesn’t answer its own questions, but because asking whether aliens created human life is really just a circular question.

As the two lead scientists discuss in the film, if aliens created humanity, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is no God, it just leads to the further question of who created the aliens.

The question of creation just goes back and back and back unless there is a necessary being, one who’s existence is what defines it, one who doesn’t depend on any contingency in order to exist.

Traditionally, this necessary being is how philosophers (since Aristotle) and theologians (since Thomas Aquinas) have described God. Thus the “Well, who created God?” question is answered. God is the one being that exists by definition. The non-contingent being who has the logical power to explain how all these other (temporal, temporary) creatures and things exist.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this metaphysical conception of God is given much thought nowadays, which is really too bad because greater minds than ours have pondered this and found it satisfying. To dismiss the understanding of God as necessary being simply doesn’t give enough credit to the weight of ideas in play.

Now, some people might come to deny such a conclusion, but I hope that before the denial there is more serious thought and effort to understand the metaphysical points than just a quick “well, who created God?”

Turning to aliens, while interesting, does not give the human characters the answers they seek. Dr. Shaw wants to understand why humanity was made. Dr. Holloway doesn’t think it would be sufficient for humans to be a result of “just because they could.”

The beautiful thing is, from the Christian point of view, God, the necessary being who explains existence itself, created all the world and all humanity out of love, not because he had to. Because God is a Trinity of Persons in loving relationship, his goodness overflows and creates. Humans and everything else are loved into existence.

Now isn’t that more satisfying than arbitrary fiat? Or us being the side effect of alien experiments?

We so desperately still desire to know our origin and why things are how they are, to find an explanatory reason. The answers of faith that have been around for millenniums are still really, really good, strong, satisfying answers.

It’s not that people shouldn’t be allowed to consider other possibilities, but I just wish more credit and thought were given to the old answers. If aliens aren’t patently absurd, why would it be absurd to theorize that we have been loved and willed into existence by the necessary being?

All this being said, who doesn’t enjoy a bunch of aliens, robots and slime in space? Thank you, Prometheus!

Hello world!

This is not my first blog, but I hope it will be my best. My name is Stephanie. I am a convert to the Catholic faith and have spent a lot of time studying Catholic theology. (More details on that in the about me).

I used to write angry apologetics, but I don’t think that’s really the best way to share the faith. So to use my skills and background to promote the New Evangelization of the Church, I’ve decided on a new way. Following the example of Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York (President of the USCCB), I plan to use this blog to promote the wonderful things about our Catholic faith, to show how it applies to everyday life and to see the world through the lens of faith, embracing technology and new media.

Topics this blog will frequently cover are: pop culture from a Catholic perspective; current happenings; education issues and questions; reviews; philosophical and/or theological questions; some Catholic/family/food posts.

I’ve written for a Christian blog site before, and I hope here to feature the best of lessons I learned there.

Thanks for reading!