Friday, February 7, 2014

A New Home

As promised, my dear 3.14 readers, I have a new URL today!  You can now find me at

If I did everything correctly, all links from the old should redirect to the new -- please let me know if you notice anything that doesn't seem like it is flowing correctly.  For now, the only difference you should notice is a lack of picture beneath the title.  However, a new name and layout are on the way.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Upcoming Changes

Dear and loyal 3.14 Readers,

It's been a good run, hasn't it?

We've been on some lovely adventures -- graduation from undergrad and leaving my College; teaching in an inner city and living with some beautiful ladies; interning with the campus ministry, or "The Year of Adventures with Percy"; the acquisition of a Master's Degree; and now marriage and Being a Grown-Up.

Peter Pan was right -- to live is an awfully big adventure.  I still love that allusion, but the time has come to say good-bye to Peter Pan.  Over the next few days, be prepared for a new URL (I'm learning how to set up re-directs to make that seamless).  Then, over the next few weeks, be prepared for some new formatting and a new name.

On one level, I am going to miss the old title, allusion, and style, but the time has come.  The changes will help me be a bit more focused and intentional with this blog, which is never a bad thing.  In fact, it might be a part of that "Being a Grown-Up" thing.


Your Loyal Blogger

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Women Want

While we are on the topic of abortion, let's side step to another "women's rights" issue and talk about birth control.  Most of the time you hear a dichotomy in conversations about birth control:

*Contraceptive hormones/devices vs. nothing
*Normal people vs. crazy Catholics

Every now and then there is an admission that such a things as "NFP" exists, although it is generally equated to "nothing," and every now and then there is an admission that some other crazy Christians join the Catholics.

And then I found these articles.   These two infinitely secular sources do not make an apologia for natural methods.  They simply point out that hormone-free methods of avoiding pregnancy might be something that women want.  The first article is less about what is being branded as "Fertility Awareness-Based Methods" (FABM) and more about the rejection of hormonal birth control:
[These women] buy organic kale and all-natural cleaning products, and so can’t quite get down with taking synthetic hormones every day... They’re sick of supposedly egalitarian relationships in which they bear the sole responsibility for staying baby-free.
The author's main point is actually the rise of the "pullout method," if such technique can be deemed a method of birth control, as a direct response to a rejection of the Pill.  The second article, a response to the first, is much more concerned with FAMB as a solution to this rejection:
Synthetic hormones come with side effects, condoms don’t feel great, intrauterine devices are kind of scary....surveys conducted by physicians at the University of Utah show that when natural fertility-awareness methods are described to women, 25 percent say they would strongly consider using one as their means of birth control. But thanks to its glaring image problem and a set of just-as-formidable infrastructural hindrances, ignorance of fertility awareness-based methods is widespread.
 This author goes on to explain that FABM is something that women want and do not have access to.  She blames two factors: 1) a branding image, where FABM is too closely associated with both the rhythm method (which it is not) and the Catholic Church (which has embraced a religious version); and 2) the fact that it does not bring money to the pockets of pharmaceutical companies.

I am always overjoyed to see discussions of this nature in the secular spheres.  One of the greatest harms the sexual revolution has done is kept women distanced from our bodies.  Medicine is learning so much about our bodies -- which are pretty amazing and complex -- but we are taught to reject these inner workings without even knowing what they are.

Regardless of your opinions on birth control, I think it should be fairly obvious that we have a right to know how our bodies work.  We can only make informed decisions on how to live our lives if we actually get information about ourselves.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Yesterday marked the 41st annual March for Life.  As usual, the good Lord gave us a chance at redemptive suffering, this year sending ridiculously cold weather.  For a few weeks, I had been promising friends, former classmates, and former colleagues that I would find them in DC.  And I awoke Wednesday morning with day two of a cold -- the stage where standing up made me dizzy.  I took a sick day against the frigid outdoors and curled up with a cup of herbal tea.

The Captain and I had planned on going to the March together but without a group -- a couple of free radicals, wandering in and out of the pro-life masses.  I had just resigned myself to not going and missing all those cool people when the Captain told me that he was planning on heading into work if I was staying in.

With friends as my motivation and the Captain as my excuse, I bundled into a many-layered ball of purple fluff, with a scarf up to the apples of my cheeks and hat and hood pulled over my eyebrows.  As it turned out, almost everyone at the March was bundled up in a similar fashion, or with sunglasses or ski goggles fighting the bright sun.  This, combined with my reluctance to remove my gloves to use my phone, made it difficult to find people.  I tried standing on a bench to peruse the sea of signs... which only made my head spin more.

To make a long story short, we found no one and had as near to a solitary March as two people can in the midst of several hundred thousand fellow protesters.  In the end, I found myself rather disappointed and caught myself wondering, Why did we bother to come?

Thankfully, I recognized and rebuked this attitude.  God was using our solitude as a reminder: the March for Life isn't about friends, or reunions, or who you know.  It isn't about finding former roommates or showing off DC.

It is about the fact that people are dying and our society has given it a legal and cultural stamp of approval.
And until that changes, I need to be my tiny part in letting this nation and this world know that abortion is evil.

And until that changes, I need to be my tiny part of a generation that will not be silent until life triumphs.

And until that changes, I need to offer my tiny bit of redemptive suffering, so that love can win.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Space I Occupy

When feminism was a fun idea and before I pursued it in a haphazard academic fashion, I learned a fact that surprised me.  Men and women are taught to take up space differently.  Men are taught to sit, stand, move while taking up lots of space.  Women, on the other hand, are taught to be self-contained -- folded hands, legs, tucking in ourselves and our stuff.  If these two Google searches don't sufficiently demonstrate the difference, watch this video without sound, just paying attention to body language and posture.  Or, take a train ride during rush hour. Sit down next to a window and pay attention to how the people next to you sit.

This particular lesson stuck out to me because I remembered learning how to sit as a child.  I would sit in the most comfortable position -- which often involved on foot on the opposite leg's knee (this is a great way as a small child to hold a large book) or my legs spread in some other way.  I had to learn (rather reluctantly) to sit with my legs together, making myself compact.  Now, I am very talented at this.  It amazes me at times the difference in the amount of space the Captain and I take up in a church pew -- despite the fact that we are relatively the same size.  

All these musings are meant to lead up to this Upworthy video that wandered across my Facebook recently.  A young woman recited a bit of slam poetry that addresses how men and women take up space.  She spends much of her time discussing food, but I think it goes deeper than how much pizza we can eat:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Allusion Five: The First Amendment

I offer you the fifth and final installment in my Portugal series:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
~1st Amendment to the United States Constituion 

I suppose it is natural to understand the new by comparison with the familiar. (Hence Portugal story-telling through allusions.)  I recognized there how much I was viewing things as an American.  Our first morning, we grabbed an “ethnocentric breakfast” from Starbucks -- apparently coffee in paper cups is an American thing and not done in Portugal.  And while I came away thinking that coffee in real mugs is a very civilized thing, that was our first day and we slept in and needed coffee and to make our tour on time.  At that point, the idea that I couldn’t walk into a coffee shop and get a cup to carry out was a little bizarre.

Coffee was not the most distinctive way that I was American, though some of the other differences helped me understand “American” a little better.  We learned from Day 1 that Portugal is very in touch with its history… and its history is older than anything we know.  In 1755, an earthquake shook Lisbon and destroyed an ancient city -- at a time when our oldest cities were still rather nascent.

I’m used to playing tourist at monuments, museums, and parks, not churches, palaces, and castles.  But when your history stretches back a thousand years, those are the places to see.  The first stone cathedral we visited was in the Lisbon cathedral, which impressed me with its cavernous interior.  The Captain, having seen (and sung in) European stone churches before, was less easily awed.  And two days later I discovered why.

The monastery of St. Jerome in Lisbon was built by Henry the Navigator as a thank you for the safe return of an expedition.  We came straight from the tiny village houses of Fatima into the stone and gold and marble richness of the Prince’s thank you.  My mind flew in several vaguely formed directions at once:

*The disparity!  The contrast of royalty to peasant, rich to poor.  I understood the Protestant Reformation and other rebellions against the Church so much better.  This point was brought home even more when we visited the Church of São Francisco in Porto, which was covered in 900 pounds of gold leaf.

*Wow -- I wish I could thank God like that.  It’s hard to imagine having the kind of gratitude, let alone the resources, to give a mountain-sized church to God.  I could use a lesson in gratitude.  My thank-you gift to Him tends to be something more akin to a Glory-Be, or a decade of the Rosary, or Mass if I’m really ambitious.

*The First Amendment.  Not only was the church built by a prince, but by-gone royalty lined the transepts, born in marble tombs on the backs of marble elephants.  As I got a clearer picture of the intertwined nature of Church and State, I began to see a tad better what our forefathers did not want -- in terms of both religion and royalty.

The same musings on the foundation of our country struck me when we visited the National Coach Museum.  The Captain had much more enthusiasm about it than I did -- I thought I was going to the medieval equivalent of a car show.  I misunderstood the purpose of the coaches.  Functionally, of course, they took royalty from point A to point B.  But the purpose… to show off.  So the coaches were covered with elaborate woodwork, gold leaf, and detailed paintings and upholstered in velvet.  The purpose was beauty, but obviously more than beauty -- to impress upon the viewer the wealth and status of the owner.

The former stock-exchange, the Stock Exchange Palace, incidentally, was a way for the country to say the same thing.  The whole building was impressive, but one room in particular, the Arabic Room, was created to make sure foreign visitors had a visceral experience of the wealth of the nation.  The brightly-colored room glistens with Moorish-inspired detailed patterns of red and blue, outlined with gold leaf.  

The whole impression of these structures was to overwhelm in a way that none of our stark, Romanesque national monuments possibly could -- we were built on escaping royalty.  A bunch of idealistic, democratic rebels.

I hate to give America the final word in a series about Portugal.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a photographic offering to end our adventures:

Portugal, the Atlantic Ocean, and a castle, as seen from a palace