Lent in the Legislature

GreatSeal Next week and the week after, I will become less and less accessible, more and more grumpy, and if you push me, downright mean.

These next two weeks are “deadline” weeks in the Oklahoma legislature, or, as we affectionately think of them, living hell.

We have to vote on every bill that every House member managed to author, get out of the various committees and onto the House agenda. That means long days, longer nights, endless debate and mind-numbing exhaustion. I finish deadline weeks feeling like I’ve been drug by a runaway horse. So does everybody else. By the end of this two weeks we’ll hate our jobs and we’ll probably all hate each other, as well.

That’s how legislators do Lent in Oklahoma.

Once, years ago, I tried to give up swearing for Lent. If Lent happened when the legislature wasn’t in session I would have had a fighting chance. But after the third or fourth time I had to go to confession because I’d broken my penance, my pastor got exasperated and told me, “I want you to forget this and pick something you can do.”

I jokingly said, “Well, I haven’t killed anybody. Can I count that as giving up something for Lent?”

He was not amused.

Ever since then, I’ve tried to come up with Lenten practices that fit into my job. You know; things I can do while driving my car to work or when I’m standing in an elevator. That sort of idle time activity. I literally do not have time to pray during deadline week. When I try to pray before I go to bed, I fall asleep. When I try to pray in the mornings, I’m late for work. If I try to pray while I’m driving … well, I’m already tired and distracted, so that’s not the best plan.

WebJESUS Prayer

One prayer I’ve found that I can actually do is called the Jesus Prayer. It goes: Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner. 

That’s an excellent prayer for deadline week. If you reflect on it, it’s sort of a mini Gospel in a few words. Anytime you’re in a pinch for time, or at a loss for words, I recommend the Jesus Prayer. It says everything you have to say in one profound sentence.

Another one sentence prayer I pray a lot during deadline week comes from Scripture: May the words of my lips and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, my God and my Redeemer.

I pray that a lot before debate.

Then, there’s the Hail Mary: Hail Mary, full of grace. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for me, a sinner, now and at the hour of my death.

The Hail Mary is a cry for help and an act of worship, both at once. It, like the other short prayers I use during deadline week, covers all the ground you have to cover to talk to God.

These quick prayers save my soul (literally) during times like deadline week. But there is another prayer that I’ve learned through the years. This one doesn’t have words, and yet it is perhaps the most eloquent. There are many days when my work is my prayer. I know that sounds odd, but I’ve learned that this can be the most profound prayer and act of worship any of us can do.

What I mean by that is that I am convinced that the most profound act of worship is simply doing what God tells you to do. If I can do my work in a manner that follows what God wants, then I am giving Him obedience, which is profound worship and prayer with feet.

I learned this during a time when I was getting blasted and battered in an ugly and personal way for passing pro life bills. (This was the time when I tried to convince my pastor that the simple fact that I hadn’t killed anybody should count as giving up something for Lent.) It was tough for me as a person and as a woman. But with God’s grace I was able to persevere, and in the persevering I experienced the Lord’s presence in a way that taught me an enormous amount about what prayer and worship truly are.

The best worship is doing what God tells you to do. The most profound prayer is obedience to God from the heart. 

All the other worship we do — the retreats, meditations, hymn-singing, scripture reading, long reflective silences — are simply exercises to get us to that state where we can do what He tells us to do with willing obedience from the heart.

Lent

I am looking forward to a real Lent one day. I think it would be most edifying to have time for prayer, reflection and long hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

But this week is deadline week, and my Lenten practice may very well be once again, not killing any of my colleagues. I think that’s a fine goal for a pro life legislator.

Staying Married: Listen to Your Wife; Talk to Your Husband

My husband forgot about the first Valentine’s Day after our marriage.

I didn’t get so much as a card.

That was what you might call a mistake on his part; one he has learned not to repeat.

The reason he’s learned this is because I told him. I didn’t go home from work that day (I was in the legislature at the time) and hit him with my purse. But I did tell him. And the next Valentine’s Day, I told him in advance.

Which leads me to half my point.

Women, if you want a happy marriage, do not assume that your husband understands what you want. Based on decades of happy marriage to the one and only love of my life, I can tell you that he does not.

He. Doesn’t. Have. A. Clue.

I grew up with an involved father-in-residence and then married another y chromosome type person and have lived out the rest of my life since then with him. This experience has led me to form a theory about the male brain.

It doesn’t think like ours.

From what I can tell, the male of the human species thinks that if he makes sure you go to sleep in a warm bed under a roof that doesn’t leak after eating three square meals and that every man around knows that insulting you will get him in a fight, well then, that’s love. And you should know it.

If he comes home at night and doesn’t dally with other women, if he would rather cut his arm off than raise a hand to you, if he provides for, protects and cossets you, he thinks he’s done everything any woman with half a brain could possibly want. He’s finished. Done. Through. In his mind, he’s got that good husband stuff handled and now it’s time to get a brewski and plop down in front of the television for some football.

You, on the other hand, need to be told that he loves you. You think that all this protecting, providing, cosseting stuff is just a sort of baseline that any decent person would do. You don’t want a bag of groceries … or … well … you do want a bag of groceries, but you want something that feeds your heart as well as your stomach. You want affection. And you want a few complimentary words thrown in with the affection.

The trouble is, he’ll never know this if you don’t tell him. In fact, if your way of telling him is to go off and throw a hissy fit and cry and slam doors and answer “Nothing!” when he asks you what’s wrong, he’ll never figure it out. Nothing comes of that kind of behavior except a husband who is convinced he’s married someone who has mental problems, and a wife who honestly thinks her husband does not love her and that she’s probably unattractive to him to boot.

So, the first half of the point I’m making is, wives, talk to your husbands. Tell him what you want. I don’t mean yell at him and demand what you want. Just … tell him. Be specific. If you want him to take you out to dinner, say so. If you want a box of chocolates, say that. Do not make him try to figure it out. He won’t. Because he can’t. His brain doesn’t think like yours.

After you’ve told him, let it go until the next Valentine’s Day or whatever it is you were telling him about rolls around again. Then, gently, gently remind him. As the big day comes into view (be it your birthday, your anniversary, Valentine’s Day or whatever) start reminding him a few weeks out. You don’t have to make an issue of it. In fact, you shouldn’t make an issue of it. Just use your knowledge of him and your relationship to go about the business of reminding him in the gentlest way possible. If you don’t remind him, he won’t remember. Not, mind you, because he doesn’t love you, but because he’s a man, and their brains don’t think the same way ours do.

Which leads to the second half of my point.

Men, if you want a happy marriage, listen to your wife. When your wife tells you and reminds you, that means she’s handed you the ball and you need to run with it.

Do not quibble about this. Listen to your wife. Go forth and buy chocolates, or make dinner reservations or whatever. It does not matter that you just rotated the tires on her car and filled it up with gas. If she wants dinner and a movie, give her dinner and a movie. And for pete’s sake, tell her she’s pretty. Stand in front of your bathroom mirror with the door locked and practice if you have to, but say it.

Wives, talk to your husbands. Husbands, listen to your wives.

And while you’re at it, forgive one another for the subtle differences between the sexes that make this post necessary. There’s a reason God made us like this. When husbands and wives cooperate with one another this way, love between them grows. Our differences, which can drive us apart if we are stupid about them, can also meld us together for life.

Now, husbands and wives, start talking and listening. Your lives and your family will be the better for it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Is There Something in the Drinking Water, or, Were People Always This Crazy and We Just Didn’t Notice?

Is there something funny in our drinking water? Or have people always been this crazy and we just didn’t notice?

The reasons I’m asking are …

Te’o and the girlfriend who wasn’t. If he’d been a lonely nerd with acne and a weight problem no one would have been all that surprised by a fantasy girlfriend. But everyone knows that football stars are like young lords on college campuses. The profs, the staff, the press, the administration and the girls just can’t say “no.” So, what’s with Te’o and the fantasy girlfriend?

Monsignor Meth, the Breaking Bad priest. Turns out the monsignor was a sex-party-in-the-rectory-having cross-dresser before he was a meth-dealing-money-laundering-sex-toy-store owner. Fortunately, the Church had already removed him from his parish for the sex party in the rectory stuff. (Whew!) But … what’s with this guy?

Father Handcuffs, the 911 caller. Odd as this sounds, my main question about Father Handcuffs is why he didn’t call a friend to get him out of his rig instead of 911. My family and I were discussing this at dinner the other night (my kids are adults, and our dinner table conversations are, always have been, free-ranging) and one of my sons said, “Why didn’t he call anybody — even his mother — before he called 911?” All this leads me to think that Father Handcuffs, in addition to being a bit of a kink, may be a lonely man.

Mark Sanford the I-lied-when-I said-I-was-hiking-the-Appalachian-Trail-I-was-really-in-Argentina-with-my-girlfriend Governor. Now, with said girlfriend at his side and his wife and four children … somewhere else … the former governor says he’s running for Congress. Where he should fit right in.

Mel Gibson the brilliant actor/director who truly and absolutely cannot hold his liquor, a weakness that combines with his love affair with hidden microphones to make for sordid tapes.

And all those famous menpoliticians, footballs players, etc — who keep sending photos of their private parts to women who don’t want to see them.

Were people always this crazy and the internet has just forced them on us, or, is someone putting some sort of mental whoopee cushion in the drinking water? I ask you, what’s with these people?

The Dynamic Duo Take the Oath

Never in American history has a president and vice president formed a team like these two.

It’s … 

Tonto and the Lone Ranger

The Dude and Walter

Buzz Light Year and Woody

Chester and Marshall Dillon

All Over Again

 

 

 

Four More Years: Joe Biden is Off and Running at the Mouth

Vice President Joe Biden

 

Vice President Joe Biden kicked off four more years of verbal blundering at the Iowa State Pre-Inauguration Inaugural Ball by telling the crowd, “I am proud to be President of the United States.”

Enjoy.

YouTube Preview Image

GPS Leads Woman 900 Miles Out of Her Way

Sabine Moreau, a 67-year-old women from Belgium, wanted to go about 90 miles to pick up a friend at a train station. But instead she followed the directions from her GPS all the way to Croatia, 900 miles away.

She told the press that she wasn’t paying attention.

Here’s the story:

Put too much faith in technology and you may wind up in Croatia. A 67-year-old woman from Belgium learned that the hard way after she followed (faulty) directions from her GPS device.

The woman only wanted to go about 90 miles from her hometown of Hainault Erquelinnes, Belgium, to pick up a friend at the Brussels train station. Her GPS device sent her about 900 miles to the south before (during the second day of driving) she realized that something was amiss. It’s unclear if she entered the address incorrectly or if the GPS was faulty.

Discovery explains that the driver, Sabine Moreau, stopped twice for gas, slept on the side of the road, and “even suffered a minor car accident” along the way. She told El Mundo that she wasn’t paying attention. (Read more here.)

Gorgeous George, the Vatican’s First Pin-Up

Public stardom is difficult for anyone to handle. Based on the outcomes we’ve had with several “star” priests, I would say that clergy don’t handle it any better than anyone else.

That said, I have to admit that I’ve noticed the nice-looking man standing in the background in several photos of Pope Benedict XVI. I wasn’t aware until today that the Italian press had dubbed the good father “Gorgeous George.”

I tend to associate the moniker “gorgeous george” with a small monkey who is the lead character in a series of children’s books. A reader pointed out that, even though I remember him as “Gorgeous” the monkey is actually “Curious George” and that “Gorgeous George” was a famous wrestler. Somehow, that makes it funnier to me.

For all that, I have to admit that the priest in question is, as I said, a nice-looking man. But I don’t faint or anything when I look at him. Of course, I’ve got an exceptionally good-looking fellow that I see across the dinner table every night.

Maybe that’s why I can’t get beyond “nice-looking” in my description of the new Vatican hunk.

My reserved assessment is evidently a minority report. Not only has the Italian press gone loopy over him, but Vanity Fair has now put Archbishop Georg Ganswein on its cover.

I wish Archbishop Ganswein good luck with his new international pin-up status. It’s not easy, being a religious celebrity.

Reuters has the details:

ROME (Reuters) - Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Pope Benedict’sprivate secretary, who has been dubbed “Gorgeous George” by the Italian media, is now a real-life cover boy.

The prelate has landed on the cover of Vanity Fair.

The cover on the Italian edition of the magazine shows the 56-year-old archbishop smiling, his blue eyes beaming, above a headline that reads “Father Georg – It’s not a sin to be beautiful.”

The magazine calls Ganswein “The George Clooney of St Peter’s” and says it dedicated a cover story to honor his recent promotion to the rank of archbishop and as recognition of his growing power inthe Roman Catholic Church.

A spokeswoman for the magazine said Ganswein was not interviewed for the article and did not pose for the cover photo, which she said was a close-up of an existing picture. (Read more here.)

God Sells Magazines. God and Obama Sell Lots of Magazines.

Big names sell magazines.

Eye-catching covers sell magazines.

Eye-catching covers with big names sell lots of magazines.

Who’s got the biggest name of all?

Let’s look

Double big names, with an Asian twist. How New Age.

The biggest name of all.

And of course, our ultimate destination.

Name That Bird

Add a caption to this photo. 

The Seven Most Provocative Religious Videos of 2012

 

 

This is a little late, but it’s still worth a look. Daniel Burke of Religion News Service has put together a list of 2012 religious videos he thinks were the most provocative. They range from the young star of a major television show criticizing its content to a video that is alleged to have set off tragic violence. Read and enjoy.

The seven most provocative religious videos of

2012

(RNS) Imagine if Martin Luther and John Calvin had YouTube.

Armed with Gutenberg’s printing press, the two reformers wrested Europe from the grip of the Roman Catholic Church and changed Christianity forever.

What would they have done with a medium that can zip text, music, and, perhaps most importantly, videos across the globe in a matter of seconds?

“The importance of YouTube, the importance of the Internet is huge for the next coming generation of the church,” Jefferson Bethke told NPR earlier this year.

The 23-year-old Christian poet should know. His four-minute video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus,” has been viewed more than 23.5 million times since he posted it on YouTube last January.

Bethke wasn’t the only religious figure to find an audience, or apostles, on the Internet. Indeed, among other epithets, 2012 might be dubbed the Year of YouTube – and that’s especially true on the religion beat.

Religious videos sparked international riots, stirred up the U.S. presidential campaign, sought to comfort LGBT youth and urged Christians to rethink their religious ideals.

In chronological order, here are seven religious videos that made headlines in 2012. (Read more here.)

 

 


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