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The Skills That Pay The Bills

July 21, 2014 at 12:40 pm

hsrg

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know my passion lies with writing about topics that really matter. The eternal things. The things that affect our salvation. The cultural changes that are leading us into the future.

In a world that makes sense (to me, anyway) this would be my full-time job. In reality, it barely provides bourbon money.

For those of you who don’t know, my wife owns a real estate brokerage in Northern Virginia. I also work for the company: I do marketing, design, website management, signs and graphics, business cards, social media, etc. Recently, I also got licensed as a Realtor. Lately, I’ve been spending more of my time here, writing about the Church, than there, selling houses. I’m doing an inventory of my life these days, and I realize that I need to put my priorities back in order and do a better job following my first vocation, as important as this avocation is to me.

Real estate isn’t about sales. It’s about people. It’s about one of the most basic needs people have: shelter. We help people buy homes. We help them sell homes. We help them find the homes that are right for them. Any successful real estate business is built on relationships. It requires trust. It demands integrity.

I know that a number of my readers live and work in Northern Virginia. If you, or anyone you know, is looking to buy or sell a home, please have them contact me. I’m a relatively new agent, but I’m married to the broker, and it’s no exaggeration when I say that she is the best at this business that I have ever seen. Something I’ve learned watching my wife do this for the past decade is that you won’t get the business if you don’t ask. So I’m asking.

I absolutely intend to keep writing here in my off-hours. But like all of you, I have a day job to attend to. Your business referrals help keep food on the table for my six kids. And when my kids are fed and happy, I can spend time writing about the topics that give you a reason to come back.

Thanks in advance for your business and referrals.

Why Would All These People Lie About Pope Francis?

July 19, 2014 at 2:27 pm

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

– 2 Timothy 4:1-5

 

Pope Francis

 

Another day, another off-the-record papal conversation. This time, the person in question is a woman by the name of Marie Kane, who was was a victim of clerical sexual abuse in Ireland.

ONE of the two Irish survivors of abuse who met Pope Francis this morning in the Vatican has described the meeting as a “huge vindication” for her.

Marie Kane, who has never spoken publicly about the abuse she suffered at the hands a curate in the archdiocese of Dublin, told the Irish Independent that the meeting with the Pope would help bring her healing.

“It was pretty amazing. There were no time constraints on the meeting and the only others in the room were Marie Collins, who came as a support to me and [Cardinal] Sean O’Malley who acted as translator,” she said.

In all six survivors of abuse, two from Ireland, two from Britain and two from Germany met the Pope individually this morning, the first official meeting the pontiff has held since his election in March 2013. The other Irish survivor was a man. His identity remains unclear at the moment.

According to Marie Kane, the Pope “listened intently” to her and “at times seemed frustrated by what he was hearing” about her experiences. Her case was covered in the Murphy Report into the mishandling of allegations of clerical abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin. Her abuser was taken out of ministry but has not been defrocked.

All of this seems reasonable, even promising.

But then came Miss Kane’s radio interview, in which she recounted her experience, and her meeting with Pope Francis (excerpts transcribed by me):

“I think I’ve been angry my whole life at the Catholic Church. I, you know, I could never sit in a Mass without feeling anger…”

[…]

“From meeting all the survivors and listening to their stories, and, they’re all unique stories, but the effects and the damage is the same. And it’s the loss of faith. You know? We all want something to hang onto in these really difficult times. And, you know, I have two children, 18 and 14, and, their faith has been affected. You know? So, I have my own beliefs, I…I’m a good person. I help a lot of people. And, you know, I think, but it has definitely, it there, there’s no replacing what was taken, you know, even for my kids. And these…these are the kids that are coming up now, and the Church will disappear if something doesn’t change.”

[…]

“I prayed for change, change in the Church. Um, maybe that’s very naïve of me, I don’t know. But when you’re sitting there and in a very small chapel and the homily was written in English so you could read what he was saying, because [the pope] speaks Spanish, so, it was very moving for me personally, and, yeah, change. That’s…you know, just, do more. Get these guys out of power that shouldn’t be there. That are guilty of coverup. And who covered up in my case as well. And they know who they are, like, you know? So yeah. Change. Change. I’ll never get my faith back. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the church. And actually the pope, I said that to him. And he said, ‘You know you don’t need, you don’t need to be in the Church, you are part of the Church, you don’t physically need to be in it, inside it you know to be part of God’s family like.’ So, little messages like that were really nice, you know. He put thought into what he said to me today. It wasn’t just answers off the cuff. So a very positive experience, for me.”

I was with her, right up until she recounted what the pope said.

“You don’t need…to be in the Church, you are part of the Church, you don’t physically need to be in it, inside it you know to be part of God’s family…”

Let’s all open our Catechisms, shall we? Paragraph 2041-2042 :

2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

2042 The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.

While one can certainly understand the desire of a clericial abuse victim to avoid Catholic clergy and the Mass, it’s difficult to understand how cutting a person off from the sacramental life would in any way facilitate healing or salvation.

More troubling is the formula the pope is alleged to have used in assessing the situation: “You don’t need to be in the Church” to be “part of the Church.”

Are we ready for the well-trod quote? We are? Good:

The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, and heretics, and schismatics, can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire “which was prepared for the devil, and his angels,” (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this Ecclesiastical Body, that only those remaining within this unity can profit from the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.

(Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441 – Emphasis Mine)

It’s a tough quote. And yes, there’s been some development of doctrine since the 1400s. We believe that there’s something to the “Baptism of Desire” — though nobody who loves souls would ever want to count on that. We need the sacraments for heaven like a man in the desert dying of thirst needs water. Do men in the desert sometimes, against all odds, survive sunstroke and dehydration? Yes. Would you care to take a crack at that experience on the off-chance that you’ll be the outlier?

Yeah. I thought not.

We all need sanctifying grace to get to heaven. Sanctifying grace grows in the soul by means of sacramental reception. So the sacraments are really, as far as anyone knows, completely non-negotiable. If God chooses to work outside their efficacy, how He does that is his prerogative, and frankly, a complete mystery. I sometimes have a hard time believing even with them, I’ll squeak in the door of heaven. I can’t imagine trying to get there without them.

So why would a sovereign pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church tell anyone — anyone — that they don’t need to be in the Church to be saved?

Some are arguing that this is, once again, a woman who is recounting what the pope said from memory, and that it is therefore not trustworthy. One person offered this hypothesis, “Maybe a pissed off woman that was was sexually abused saw an opportunity for payback and took it?” (To this person’s credit, they later admitted it was a stretch.)

But let’s imagine that this was the case. We’d have have to add Miss Kane to the growing list of vengeful “liars” all saying that the pope told them the same thing. Also, they’d have to want to “get back at the pope” by only ticking off the small segment of Catholics who care if the pope says something so…Catholic. Because most Catholics these days, if we’re being honest, would think such a statement was positively fantastic, demonstrative of “mercy”, and even more, a sure sign of progress within the stodgy old Church.

And there really are a solid handful of these folks out there. People we’re supposed to believe are just making things up to make the pope look bad to a small handful of true believers, and awesome to everyone else.

Let’s have a look at the statements from those who have said what Pope Francis has told them:

1. “When he speaks about evangelization, the idea is to evangelize Christians or Catholics,”to reach “higher dimensions of faith” and a deepened commitment to social justice, Skorka said. “This is the idea of evangelization that Bergoglio is stressing — not to evangelize Jews. This he told me, on several opportunities.”

Rabbi Abraham Skorka, rector of the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires and close personal friend of Pope Francis

 

2. “Bp Venables added that in a conversation with Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, the latter made it clear that he values the place of Anglicans in the Church universal.

‘He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the Church needs us as Anglicans.’”

Rt. Rev. Greg Venables, Anglican Bishop of Argentina and close personal friend of Pope Francis

 

3. “And here I am. The Pope comes in and shakes my hand, and we sit down. The Pope smiles and says: ‘Some of my colleagues who know you told me that you will try to convert me.’

It’s a joke, I tell him. My friends think it is you want to convert me.

He smiles again and replies: ‘Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.’ ”

Eugenio Scalfari, Atheist founder of La Repubblica (and grantee of three papal interviews despite his habit of reporting quotes without taking notes)

 

4. “At lunch I asked Pope Francis what his heart was for evangelism. He smiled, knowing what was behind my question and comment was, ‘I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.’ ” (Of course Evangelicals do evangelize Catholics and Catholics do the same to us. However, that discussion we will raise another day.)

Brian C. Stiller, Global Ambassador, World Evangelical Alliance

And finally, though not specifically related to membership in the Church, this anecdote, which relates to following her most fundamental teachings:

5. Pope Francis called an Argentine woman married to a divorced man and reportedly told her that she could receive the sacrament of Communion, according to the woman’s husband, in an apparent contradiction of Catholic law.

Julio Sabetta, from San Lorenzo in the Pope’s home country, said his wife, Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona, spoke with Francis on Monday.

Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona wrote to the pontiff in September to ask for clarification on the Communion issue, according to her husband, who said his divorced status had prevented her from receiving the sacrament.

“She spoke with the Pope, and he said she was absolved of all sins and she could go and get the Holy Communion because she was not doing anything wrong,” Sabetta told Channel 3 Rosario, a CNN affiliate.

A Vatican spokesman confirmed the telephone call but would not comment on the conversation’s content.

Source

Let’s not forget that one of the pope’s closest advisors, whose theology the pope has said he greatly admires, is Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has (in)famously said:

The only thing I wish to say is that the document Dominus Iesus does not state that everybody needs to become a Catholic in order to be saved by God. On the contrary, it declares that God’s grace, which is the grace of Jesus Christ according to our faith, is available to all. Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, i.e. the faithful response of the Jewish people to God’s irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to his promises.

This touches the problem of mission towards Jews, a painful question with regard to forced conversion in the past. Dominus Iesus, as other official documents, raised this question again saying that dialogue is a part of evangelisation.This stirred Jewish suspicion. But this is a language problem, since the term evangelisation, in official Church documents, cannot be understood in the same way it is commonly interpreted in everyday’s speech. In strict theological language, evangelisation is a very complex and overall term, and reality. It implies presence and witness, prayer and liturgy, proclamation and catechesis, dialogue and social work . . . which do not have the goal of increasing the number of Catholics. Thus evangelisation, if understood in its proper and theological meaning, does not imply any attempt of proselytism whatsoever.”

Source

In light of the above, I propose five very serious questions for your consideration:

  1. Why should this pattern of indirectly attributed quotes, all of a piece, not be taken as a serious indication that Pope Francis sincerely believes that membership in the Church and the following of her precepts is not necessary for salvation?
  2. Why should we feel compelled to believe that in every case where we hear that Pope Francis has told a person something along these lines — each report entirely consistent with the last — that the person making the claim is a liar with some personal agenda, and they should neither be believed nor trusted?
  3. What would it possibly gain anyone to tell lies which, while they throw the pope’s orthodoxy into question, do nothing but endear him to the secular world, the leaders of non-Catholic religions, and the majority of Catholics who no longer profess all of the Church’s teachings?
  4. Why, if these attributions are in fact scandalously erroneous misrepresentations of the Pope’s thought, and spread as they have been by the global media, is no effort made by the Vatican to correct or refute them, or to exhort Catholics to accept and profess the Church’s true teaching on these matters?
  5. If what has been said truly represents the mind of Pope Francis, how can this be reconciled with the doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, as defined by Pope Boniface VIII in Unam Sanctam and held as an indisputable and infallible teaching of the Church until the latter half of the 20th century?

I think the answers to these questions, taken together, provide a rather obvious conclusion. Don’t you?

There is simply not a shred of evidence that Pope Francis wants to disabuse people of the notion that he both believes and said these things. And if that is so, what a heartbreaking situation we find ourselves in.

We shouldn’t be surprised that what St. Paul prophesied in 2 Timothy is, in fact, coming to pass. But if you’re like me, it’s more than a little surprising to see it coming from the Vicar of Christ.

We need to batten down the hatches and dig in for a long haul. This isn’t going away, and talking about the latest shocking thing the pope has done is reaching a point of diminishing returns. We need to keep our eyes on the goal of eternal salvation, and focus on building a foundation that will withstand where this is all taking us.

In the next few days, I plan to announce a project I’m working on that is aimed at helping us to do just that. Your prayers for the success of this endeavor would be appreciated.

 

UPDATE – 7/19/2014 @ 5:48PM: Friend of the blog Codgitator submits another quote for our reference in the comments.

“I’m not expecting any of you to join the Catholic Church. Please understand that’s not what this is about. What we are talking about is a unified position to go before the world and say we are proclaiming Christ as the only hope of salvation.”

The quote is taken from this video. I’ve set it to play at the relevant timestamp:

The video is from John and Carol Arnott, who are (according to their website) “the Founding Pastors and Presidents of Catch The Fire (formerly known as the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship) and overseers of the Partners in Harvest Network of Churches.

”

 

UPDATE 2 – 7/20/2014 @ 8:55AM: My thanks to one of my priestly readers, who kindly pointed out my error in attributing authorship of 2 Timothy to St. John instead of St. Paul. It was the result of some incautious Googling, and the fact that I’m an absolutely terrible exegete. Something in the back of my mind told me to go back and check that before posting, but I completely forgot. It’s nice to have readers who help you correct your silly mistakes instead of exploiting them. The post has been corrected to reflect the correct author.

Guardian Angels

July 15, 2014 at 10:40 am

guardian-angel

If you haven’t heard Fr. Chad Ripperger’s talk on angels, you need to set aside an hour and make it happen. It’s mind-blowing. One of the most fascinating talks I’ve ever heard.

He has a bunch of other talks here, which I’ve only just started to go through. If you prefer to listen to them on your MP3 player, this is the place to get them. I should note that he licenses these talks as “penanceware,” which is not indicated on the YouTube video. The definition of penanceware is as follows:

These media files are Penanceware, which require that you do one of the following: (1) $1.00 via Paypal, (2) offer up a decade of the Rosary, or (3) perform some form of penance for the intentions of Fr. Ripperger (for each individual media file downloaded). The same rule applies if you copy and distribute to friends. External links, e.g. the videos from Keep the Faith, etc. are not Penanceware.

Modernists Are Tricky. That’s Kind of The Point.

July 12, 2014 at 11:49 am

modernism

There’s no way to keep up with the furious pace of those seeking to change the Catholic faith from the inside out, and it’s gotten pretty exhausting trying. It’s like theological whack-a-mole. This is why, I think, it’s good to step back and try to engage in pattern recognition, looking for the larger picture that is emerging through their death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach. Taking any single statement, appointment, interview, etc., on its own is most likely (though not always) insufficient. Seeing many pieces of circumstantial evidence pile up on one side of a scale gives weight to a thesis that’s difficult to definitively prove.

In other words, Modernists are tricky. That’s kind of the point of their whole operation. They are infiltrators, waging war through ambiguity and endless nuance, throwing chaff at their pursuers in the guise of this or that apparently orthodox thing they embrace while simultaneously dealing damage with the other hand.

The latest symptom of the Modernist infection comes from the appointment of the new Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Germany:

The Vatican has appointed the archbishop of Berlin, seen by German media as part of a “new generation” of less dogmatic clergy, to take over the Cologne archdiocese, the largest and richest in Germany, it said on Friday.

The move makes Rainer Maria Woelki, who turns 58 next month, one of the most influential Roman Catholic cardinals and is an indication of the type of person Pope Francis wants to see in prominent Church roles.

Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper called him “the prototype of a new generation of bishops … not grumpy and dogmatic … these men speak of mercy and mean it. They’re open to people, even their critics, to a point and have a heart for the disadvantaged. Still, they’re theologically conservative.”

Woelki is a Cologne native and served there for years under his retired predecessor, the staunchly conservative Cardinal Joachim Meisner, before becoming bishop of Berlin in 2011.

When his Berlin appointment was announced, some politicians and Catholics in Berlin said he was too conservative for a city with such a large gay community, pointing to comments he had made that homosexuality was against “the order of creation”.

They also noted that he did his doctorate in theology at a pontifical university in Rome run by the conservative Catholic movement Opus Dei.

But Woekli surprised Berliners by saying he respected all people and would gladly meet with gay activists.

A year later, in 2012, he said: “If two homosexuals take responsibility for each other, if they are loyal to each other over the long term, then one should see this in the same way as heterosexual relations.”

Berlin’s Alliance against Homophobia nominated him for its Respect Prize that year, an honour he politely declined by saying it was normal for a Christian to respect all people so he should not receive an award for it.

 

Some people read this and see only certain keywords and phrases: “mercy”; “conservative” (x3); “open to…critics”; “Opus Dei”; etc. These work in support of their confirmation bias, namely, they support the fact that a pope they want to like is appointing prelates they want to believe are good men to be in charge of important things.

When I read these articles, however, I can’t help but view the facts through my Modernist-doublethink-secret-decoder-ring. In the life of those who advance the Modernist cause from within the Church there is always some confusing mixture of laudable and problematic characteristics, which makes it difficult to figure out exactly what they are about. This is why, I think, men like Cardinal Schönborn can be responsible for the organization of the new Catechism that is widely lauded as a theological resource while simultaneously participating in or approving of scandalously inappropriate liturgies.

My “decoder ring” is, of course, Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, since it warned us with great specificity about what to look for. For example, in referencing the credibility of the modernists within the Church:

[N]one is more skillful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices; for they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and as audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance To this must be added the fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a reputation for irreproachable morality.

“Mercy” is the word of the day that covers a multitude of anti-Catholic thought popular within the hierarchy of the present-day Church: it is not merciful to forbid divorced and remarried Catholics from receiving the Eucharist; it is not merciful to forbid Catholic politicians who support abortion from receiving the Eucharist; it is not merciful to leave heterodox theologians outside of visible communion with the Church (even when they do not publicly retract their heresy); it is not merciful to treat homosexual relationships as qualitatively different than heterosexual ones when approaching from a pastoral standpoint, etc.

[pullquote]
I can’t help but view the facts through my Modernist-doublethink-secret-decoder-ring.
[/pullquote]

Mercy, when contrasted with dogma, is set up as an alternate orthodoxy. It is the orthodoxy of the heart, of kindness, of the anti-Pharisaical ethos. But those who would set up this dichotomy never acknowledge that true mercy is always inextricably intertwined with justice, and justice is predicated upon law.

These people wish to change dogma to create an inclusive Church. A Church without boundaries, unfocused on rules and sacraments, unwilling to exclude salvation to those who choose not to embrace it, a Church that can lock hands with people of every other faith in a seamless garment of interwoven theology, all respecting each other’s “faith walk” progressing on a path to the same “god”. And dogma gets in their way, because the real Church looks nothing like that.

Again, from Pascendi, the Modernist’s view of dogma. It should sound eerily familiar to anyone paying attention:

Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and clearly flows from their principles. For among the chief points of their teaching is the following, which they deduce from the principle of vital immanence, namely, that religious formulas if they are to be really religious and not merely intellectual speculations, ought to be living and to live the life of the religious sense. This is not to be understood to mean that these formulas, especially if merely imaginative, were to be invented for the religious sense. Their origin matters nothing, any more than their number or quality. What is necessary is that the religious sense — with some modification when needful — should vitally assimilate them. In other words, it is necessary that the primitive formula be accepted and sanctioned by the heart; and similarly the subsequent work from which are brought forth the .secondary formulas must proceed under the guidance of the heart. Hence it comes that these formulas, in order to be living, should be, and should remain, adapted to the faith and to him who believes. Wherefore, if for any reason this adaptation should cease to exist, they lose their first meaning and accordingly need to be changed.

“I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism.”

July 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm

pope-francis-internet-is-a-gift-from-god

Pope Francis, who will soon preach at a Pentecostal church in Rome — and plans to offer them “an apology from my church for the hurt it has brought to their congregation.”

(No word on whether the Penetecostals will apologize for their propagation of heresy.)

In any case, the Vicar of Christ evidently doesn’t want anything to do with that solemn nonsense known as “evangelization.” Again, he tells a non-Catholic he has no intention to try to convert anyone:

It’s fair to ask what kind of Catholic Church we as Evangelicals want to see. At lunch I asked Pope Francis what his heart was for evangelism. He smiled, knowing what was behind my question. His comment was, “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”

I’ve talked before about Cardinal Kasper’s dismissal of the “ecumenism of return”. People who question why Kasper is a hand-picked adviser of the pope fail to recognize the congruencies in their theology (or anti-theology, as the case may be.) All one needs to do is refrain from projecting the orthodoxy they desire in a pope on a man who holds the office but has little interest in what it is meant to signify, and the mystery solves itself.

Matthew 7:15-20 comes to mind.

(Source)

8 Easy Creativity Boosters Guaranteed to Produce Results

July 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm

 

I’ve been working on a number of creative projects lately, and found myself working too hard to make progress on them. I decided to take a look back at this post, which I wrote a couple years ago when I was in better shape and had attained a lot of mental clarity and a positive attitude.

The thing is, I was feeling fantastic during the time when I wrote this. I was routinely coming up with motivational topics to write about because I felt motivated. I had cut out alcohol, dropped thirty or so pounds, and was exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep.

Life caught up to me, and I’m not there anymore. Reading this, and remembering how I felt, is motivating me to start again. In honor of getting back to that place, I’m republishing the post today.

Originally Posted on Mar 22, 2012:

 

I’ve experienced a real burst of creativity lately. It’s helping me to do double or triple the amount of work I would usually do in the same amount of time. It’s a good feeling, but as any creative person knows, creative bursts are often short-lived. Here are 8 tips on how to keep it going:

 

8. Put Down the Booze

 

 

You may think that because Van Gough, Picasso, Poe, Wilde, and Hemingway all found their muses with the help of the Green Fairy that you should too. I’m telling you, it doesn’t work. Drinking alcohol may loosen the inhibitions that keep creativity in check, but it also loosens your will to do work and fogs your brain. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I’d find the next chapter of a story I was working on at the bottom of a glass, only to wind up losing interest in writing at all. If you think it helps your ADD-riddled brain to slow down and identify ideas, then try to stick to brainstorming while you’re on the sauce. Keep a notebook handy and write things down when they come to you. Have conversations with friends (unlike creative work, these are often enhanced – or at least made more entertaining – by a touch of white lightning) and see if you have any takeaways you can use next time you’re fully sober.

 

7. Turn Off the TV

 

Seriously. You can chillax, or you can create, but you can’t do both. TV numbs your brain. You may think that catching the latest episode of Fringe will give you ideas for the next chapter in your own novel, or that Breaking Bad will be like a crash course in character development and exposition, but at the end of the day, you will just be watching TV. Ask yourself how often you’ve gotten up from the couch to go do something productive afterward. I’m not saying you can’t find inspiration from television, but do it sparingly, and do it on days when you intend to just relax, not expect to get some creative work done.

 

6. Find Silence

 

It’s harder than ever to get any real quiet. We’re constantly distracted by a cornucopia of sound. Conversation, radio, MP3 players, Spotify, TV, traffic – you name it. Give yourself some time without noise. Go for a walk and don’t bring your headphones. Get up earlier and sit in a room overlooking a scene that you love. Let your mind wander, and it will begin to get the creative juices flowing.

 

5. Use Music

 

Silence is grand – and necessary – but most of us can only find it in small doses. If you can’t find silence, find noise that is conducive to your muses. I have a long morning commute, and I used to listen to audiobooks every day. They were great, but I spent so much time focusing on the narrative that I wasn’t thinking about anything else. I switched over to using Spotify in the car, and next thing you know, I was getting to the office brimming with ideas. Find music that suits your mood. Don’t feel like it has to be Beethoven or Mozart. Rock some Skrillex if you want to. Listen to someone mellow like Lights. Find your own tune, whatever it is that gets the creativity happening.

 

4. Get More Sleep

 

This is one of the hardest things about fueling creativity. When you’re feeling creative, chances are you’re up late working on things. You have so many ideas, and not enough time to do them. This week, I’ve been getting somewhere in the ballpark of 4-6 hours of sleep a night. The more tired I get, the more sluggish my brain is. Get at least 8 hours of sleep and your head will feel clear, allowing you to work better, faster.

 

3. Eat the Right Foods


 

This can’t be overstated. Despite the fact that I’ve still got at least 40 lbs. to lose, I’ve never felt better in my life. The food that I’m eating (and not eating) has an enormous impact on my brain. Everyone has a different approach to nutrition, but I’ve made no secret about what mine is: get rid of wheat. Get as much coconut oil and Omega 3s as you can. Eat red meat and vegetables. You’ll be amazed how amped your brain is when you dial in the right nutritional balance.

 

2. Look for Inspiration

 

You know that old saying, “No man is an island”? Well, it’s true. Those of use with strong creative impulses can do a lot on our own, but we do even better if we feed on other sources of creativity. Read design websites. Thumb through magazines. Take a spin around Pinterest. Check out Fab.com. Read novels. Play with children. Climb a mountain. Visit a city at night. Go to an art museum. Browse Etsy. There are so many amazing sources of inspiration around you, you just have to tap into them.

 

1. Make Stuff!

 

Everything else on the list is no good unless you actually move into the production phase of creativity. If you’re a photographer, pick up your camera and start shooting. If you’re a sculptor, grab that clay and start working it with your hands. If you’re a writer, start dancing the keys. Don’t worry about whether it will be any good or not. Failed attempts are just building blocks for success. Many great ideas are born out of the incomplete execution of an earlier concept. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten on creative work is this: “If you don’t like what you’ve done, lower your standards.” Silence the internal critic just long enough to give birth to something. Then you can give yourself permission to revise, or start over.

Just this morning I saw a great quote:

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”- Michael Jordan

So get out there and make it happen!

New Comment and Email Policy

July 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Winston_Churchill

With the increased amount of traffic I’ve had this year (over 100K pageviews in the last 60 days) I’m having to shore up some areas that didn’t need attention before.

To that end, I have posted new “policies” (such as they are) about comments and emails. Of particular note: if you email me, I can quote it in whole or in part for public consumption or private correspondence unless you specify otherwise. Please consider this when writing. 

 

Remote Control Fertility

July 8, 2014 at 3:21 pm

w4342I read a lot of science fiction. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a genre that excites the imagination and allows for us to explore the possible in ways that are virtually limitless.

So take a walk with me, will you? A walk into a possible future.

Let’s say that in this future, medical technology has become sufficiently advanced that medical implants can be installed which will disperse pharmaceuticals at regular intervals for years. Decades even. Doctors can remotely monitor the dosage, check vital signs, and make necessary adjustments without ever troubling you to come in for a visit.

When it comes to your health, you just set it and forget it!

Now let’s imagine that in addition to your seasonal antihistimines, your mood-enhancing seratonin reuptake inhibitors, and your cholesterol-fighting statins, you also have an implant for the peskiest of medications. You know what I’m talking about. The pill that if you forget to take, a little parasite grows inside you, diverting your body’s nutrients, making you lethargic and moody, and ultimately becoming so large that it bursts out in a gory mess from a place that you’d rather not think about.

That’s right. I’m talking about your birth control.

Who has time to hassle with pills, barriers, creams, shots, patches, and the like? All the nuisance of running a chemical defense screen really saps the joy out of hot nights filled with casual sex with consensual partners you identified through a GPS-powered location-based “hookup” app on your phone, amiright?

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I mean, who doesn’t want a radio transmitter in their butt that could effectively render them sterile at the whim of a complete stranger?
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So instead, why not outsource the worry to someone who went to school for this? Someone who routinely wears a white coat and gets to say cool words like “plasmapheresis” at the office? Why not let someone — perhaps a lab technician or a nurse’s assistant you’ve never even met — have a remote control kill switch on your fertility for the next sixteen years?

What. Could. Go. Wrong?

If Bill and Melinda gates have their way, this fantastically convenient future could be yours for the implanting! I mean, who doesn’t want a radio transmitter in their butt that could effectively render them sterile at the whim of a complete stranger? Especially since our government never acts coercively in matters of health care, uses its bureaucratic tentacles to harass political dissenters, or invades our privacy for no reason.

And it’s not like any government has ever tried forced sterilization before. And even if they did, it could NEVER HAPPEN IN AMERICA. That’s just a paranoid delusion whipped up by the Tea Party!

I, for one, look forward to a world where our fertility is just one more thing we don’t even have to think about. And why should we have to, when someone else is willing to do it for us?!

After all, despite any Supreme Court ruling to the contrary, we all know we have a fundamental human right to be provided by our government with the means to enjoy consequence-free sex as much as we damn well please!

This is How Empires Get Started

July 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Pardon My Dust

July 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

 

 

The past month has been busy at our house. We’ve had new ceiling lighting put in, our almost-unusable laundry room is being remodeled, and the past week has been the front foyer being re-tiled. We are replacing the old slate with different, nicer slate. Our older, in need of repair home is getting some TLC.

It’s awesome. The changes are beautiful. But what all of this work means is a preponderance of dust. Dust on my desk, dust on my cabinets, dust tracked throughout the house, dust everywhere. When you do projects at home, you expect things to get a bit messy. When you do them on a website, you’re supposed to try to keep them clean and seamless.

Screw that.

I’m working on installing a new theme for the blog. One that works better with the ads. One that’s cleaner and simpler and has more features. One I actually paid for (thanks to your kind donations!) The typical way to do this would be to make a copy of the database, set up a subdomain, do a fresh WordPress install, re-jigger the configuration files, export and import content, play around with settings, get everything working perfectly, then swap and re-deploy the test site on the main URL.

Does that sound like fun to you? Yeah. Me Neither. I’ve done it before. I have no patience for it now. Too much else going on. I create content, I don’t do IT.

The long and short of it is that pretty much as soon as I hit “post” on this page, you’re going to be seeing the sausage being made. It’ll be messy for a bit. I’ll clean it up as I go. C’est la vie, no?

Thanks for your patience.

 

The Management