As Jennifer states all too well:

This is not to say, of course, that I now think that all consumption is bad or that we’re all supposed to live like Carthusian monks; there’s certainly a place in the Catholic life for feasting and enjoying material comforts. My big Lenten realization wasn’t that consuming is always bad, but, rather, that we should consume intentionally. It’s one thing to devour and clean up after the huge, messy meal as an intentional gesture of taking delight in the gift of good food; it’s another if it’s an unthinking act done out of blind obedience to base urges. And just as it’s true that consumption always leads to more consumption, the opposite is true too: When we make the tough choices to cut things out of our lives that we don’t really want or need, we free up all sorts of related resources (time, space, money, energy) to devote to the things that really matter.

Here’s the entire article:

What One Simple Meal Taught Me About the Vicious Cycle of Consumption

by Jennifer Fulwiler Wednesday, March 27, 2013 4:48 AM Comments (10)

I didn’t do much for Lent this year. As anyone who’s followed the whining over at my personal blog knows, 2013 has already brought me a veritable cornucopia of opportunities for detachment from worldly pleasures and redemptive suffering, so I knew better than to push myself to try to take on much more. However, as proof that God blesses even the most minuscule efforts of his weakest children, some of my smallest sacrifices from this season have borne more fruit than the much larger ones I undertook in previous years. In fact, despite my inability to “do” much at all, I’m coming out of this Lent with a renewed perspective on my relationship with God — and the things I tend to put before it.

Here’s an example from last week:

Pregnancy has limited the amount of fasting I can do in terms of forgoing food this Lent, but I occasionally ate very simple meals as an alternative to a traditional fast. One afternoon I finished my lunch of fresh fruit with a leftover piece of meat, and when I went to clean up after myself, I stopped short. It was so easy! At my place at the table sat only a small plate, a glass of water, and a napkin. The plate and glass were so clean that I was able to put them back in the cupboard with only a quick rinse, and after I used the napkin to whisk away two small crumbs, the area was clean again.

When I compared it to the previous day’s lunch, the difference was striking. The day before, I’d concocted a meal designed specifically to please my tastebuds to the maximum degree possible: My large plate was sticky with the sauce I’d used to smother the huge piece of meat; I’d melted butter and drizzled it over the heaps of roasted veggies, and cooked rice to soak up the excess; I’d added some favorite cheeses that come wrapped in red wax; I’d filled my milk glass so full that some spilled out onto the table; and I couldn’t resist throwing in a fruit roll-up from the kids’ snack stash. When I stood from my place after that meal, I’d left a mess. The table was splattered with sauce and milk; the sticky dinner plate needed a good run through the dishwasher, as did the bowl I’d used to melt the butter; the fruit roll-up wrapper sat crumpled next to the spilled milk; grains of rice were scattered across the table and the chair; and bits of red wax from the cheese had already been smashed into the linoleum on the floor. Cleaning it all up required two fresh paper towels and more than a few squirts of 409.

Blindly following my urge for tasty food led not only to eating more than I needed to, but it meant that I consumed more in other ways as well: My decadent meal created more trash and mess than the simple one. It took significantly more time to eat, as well as the extra time and products used to clean it up. On top of that, it used a whole lot more energy to digest the Sumo-wrestler portions I’d consumed, which wiped me out for the rest of the afternoon.

It was one of those moments where fragments of observations that had been floating around in the back of my mind finally came to the forefront, and coalesced into one crystal clear idea: Consumption always leads to more consumption. As I walked around pondering this realization, the contrasting images of the two meals vivid in my memory, I began to see that this principle is true in every area of life.

I opened up my closet, stuffed with at least twice as many clothes as I need, and noticed how much space it all takes up (which makes me wonder how much of my mortgage is going to clutter storage). All the excess stuff sucks up my time too, in the form of seconds wasted each morning playing “needle in the haystack” to find the one thing I would actually wear, not to mention the full day it’s going to take if I ever want to get this junk organized. And I’m sure I’ve wasted plenty of money buying new items I could do without, because I forgot about sweaters and shirts and pants that are floating around the periphery of my sartorial landfill.

When I went downstairs and saw the sea of toys that would take the better part of an hour to clean up, I thought of a friend who is careful to make sure that her children have a small number of toys that they really love, and it occurred to me that her family’s clean-up time must be a fraction of ours. I glanced around at all my little impulse purchases on counters and shelves throughout the house, considering that each of them takes up space and has to be ordered and cleaned. I remembered when my husband and I briefly owned an expensive car when we were first married, and recalled how it not only drained our finances, but also our time and our mental energy as we had to put so much effort into keeping it in tip-top condition.

To paraphrase a comment tech millionaire Graham Hill recently made after drastically downsizing his lavish lifestyle, I came to see that if you’re not careful, the things you consume can end up consuming you.

This is not to say, of course, that I now think that all consumption is bad or that we’re all supposed to live like Carthusian monks; there’s certainly a place in the Catholic life for feasting and enjoying material comforts. My big Lenten realization wasn’t that consuming is always bad, but, rather, that we should consume intentionally. It’s one thing to devour and clean up after the huge, messy meal as an intentional gesture of taking delight in the gift of good food; it’s another if it’s an unthinking act done out of blind obedience to base urges. And just as it’s true that consumption always leads to more consumption, the opposite is true too: When we make the tough choices to cut things out of our lives that we don’t really want or need, we free up all sorts of related resources (time, space, money, energy) to devote to the things that really matter.




Yeah, that sounds like something he’d say…

A great article by Simcha Fisher.  This is something that is brought up time and again and frankly something that I’m occasionally guilty of too.  Take time to think about this for yourself, but also keep in mind your own proclivities before you swallow it whole.

BY SIMCHA FISHER Tuesday, March 26, 2013 8:00 AM Comments (69)

Emily Stimpson, bless her, recently swatted down a story I’ve heard my whole life.  Stimpson says:

[T]he election of our wonderful new Holy Father, Pope Francis, has triggered an avalanche of people talking about the first Francis and his injunction to, “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.”

But see, here’s the thing. St. Francis never said that. We don’t know who did. But it wasn’t Francis. It’s not in any of his known writings. It’s not in any of his companions’ writings. It’s not in anyone’s writings about Francis for the first 800 or so years after his death.

Someone invented the quote and put it into poor St. Francis’ mouth. And ever since then, people have used it as an excuse to not evangelize with words, to not have the uncomfortable conversations or say the unpopular things.

I have also learned, to my great relief, that there is no compelling reason to believe that St. Francis ever wrote the spiritually flaccid “Make me a channel of your peace” prayer.

We can assume that these misattributions were honest mistakes:  somebody once upon a time said something that somebody else liked, and somebody else said, “Hey, that sounds like something St. Francis would say,” and somebody else took it to mean that St. Francis did say it, and so on, like a centuries-long game of telephone.  But no matter what the intentions, sloppiness with attributions can lead to real trouble, especially if the person to whom the quote is misattributed has some influential heft.

Even if you’re sure you have your attribution right, quoting people rightly can be tricky.  A few days ago, someone posted an inspirational image on Facebook.  Before a backdrop of cattails in the sunset, it said in golden script,

“It is in God’s hands. One must be content to leave it there. One must have Faith.” — C.S. Lewis

Something about that chewy use of the impersonal “one” made a gong go off in my head.  Did C.S. Lewis really say that?  The sentiment was too vague to be called false, exactly, but it sounded . . . chewy.  So I looked it up, and it turnes out the quote is from Perelandra, the second book in the Space Trilogy, where Elwin Ransom has been transported to an unfallen planet ruled by an unfallen Lady and her absent husband.  To Ransom’s horror, Hell has sent a representative to try to tempt the Lady into defying God.  It describes the thoughts that go through Ransom’s mind as he figures out what to do next — what God (Maleldil) wants from him.

He, Ransom, with his ridiculous piebald body and his ten times defeated arguments – what sort of a miracle was that? His mind darted hopefully down a side-alley that seemed to promise escape. Very well then. He had been brought here miraculously.He was in God’s hands. As long as he did his best – and he had done his best – God would see to the final issue. He had not succeeded. But he had done his best. No one could do more. “‘Tis not in mortals to command success.’ He must not be worried about the final result. Maleldil would see to that. And Maleldil would bring him safe back to Earth after his very real, though unsuccessful, efforts. Probably Maleldil’s real intention was that he should publish to the human race the truths he had learned on the planet Venus. As for the fate of Venus, that could not really rest upon his shoulders. It was in God’s hands. One must be content to leave it there. One must have Faith ….

It snapped like a violin string. Not one rag of all this evasion was left. Relentlessly, unmistakably, the Darkness pressed down upon him the knowledge that this picture of the situation was utterly false. His journey to Perelandra was not a moral exercise, nor a sham fight. If the issue lay in Maleldil’s hands, Ransom and the Lady were those hands. The fate of a world really depended on how they behaved in the next few hours.

So, yeah, Lewis said that.  But it was not a recommended course of action; it was an illustration of the sort of lies we can tell ourselves when we’re trying to get out of something.  Lewis said it in much the same way that Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true”: through the mouth of a character who’s immediately proven wrong. Attributing the shorter quote to C.S. Lewis without context is only half a step above the Hollywood promoter who prints posters that say, “Critics say ‘[Y]ou’ll love this movie!  It’s full of … good scenes!”‘” when the critic’s actual words were, “If you’re a grade A moron, you’ll love this movie!  It’s full of nonsense, and has no good scenes!”

And of course, some people don’t even bother to be technically accurate.  Have you heard the story that Pope Francis, when handed the papal mozzetta, said waspishly, “Wear it yourself!  The circus is over.”  That quote turned out to be made up out of whole cloth,  either by someone who really did regard Benedict XVI as some kind of bling-happy, medieval vulgarian, or by someone who maliciously wanted to portray Francis as someone who saw Benedict that way.  Either way, there is no evidence that Francis said it — and, more importantly, there is no evidence that he is the kind of person who would say something like that.

As Shakespeare once said, there’s the rub.  Consider the purported source.  Listen to your spidey sense.  If you see a quote by a famous person, and it either sounds the tiniest bit “off” to you — or, conversely, if it makes you think, “Oh man, that’s exactly the kind of thing I knew he was thinking all along, and now we’ve got him” — then think, and do a little research, before you forward it to all your friends!

As Marie Antoinette once said, “Famous people say enough stupid things on their own without you making stuff up.”  Well, I bet it sounds better in French.


Who exactly are the Rich?

The best explanatory narrative to date…

found here:

All text below, is copied from original link.

The Rich Are The Problem After All – TAX THE GOVERNMENT

From Sultan Knish:

The top 10 wealthiest men and women in America barely have 250 billion dollars between them. That sounds like a lot of money, until you look at annual Federal budgets which run into the trillions of dollars, and the country’s national debt which approaches 15 trillion dollars. And that’s not taking into account state budgets. Even Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, with a population of barely a million, has a multi-billion dollar budget.

As the 10th richest man in America, Michael Bloomberg wields a personal fortune of a mere 18 billion dollars, but as the Mayor of the City of New York, he disposes of an annual budget of 63 billion dollars. In a single year, he disposes of three times his own net worth. A sum that would wipe out the net worth of any billionaire in America. That is the difference between the wealth wielded by the 10th wealthiest man in America, and the mayor of a single city. And that is the real concentration of wealth. Not in the hands of individuals, but at every level of government, from the municipal to the state houses to the White House.

While liberal pundits pop on their stovepipe hats, fix their diamond stickpins and cravats, and trade in 19th century rhetoric about the dangers of trusts and monopolies– the power in 20th century America lies not in the hands of a few industrialists, but with massive monopolistic trust of government, and its network of unions, non-profits, lobbyists and PAC’s. The railroads are broken up, offshore drilling is banned, coal mining is in trouble and Ma Bell has a thousand quarreling stepchildren– now government is the real big business. 

How big?

The 2008 presidential campaign cost 5.3 billion dollars. Another 1.5 billion for the House and the Senate. And that’s not counting another half a billion from the 527’s and even shadier fundraising by shadowy political organizations. But that’s a small investment when you realize that they were spending billions of dollars to get their hands on trillions of dollars.

Do you know of any company in America where for a mere few billion, you could become the CEO of a company whose shareholders would be forced to sit back and watch for four years while you run up trillion dollar deficits and parcel out billions to your friends? 

Without going to jail or being marched out in handcuffs. A company that will allow you to indulge yourself, travel anywhere at company expense, live the good life, and only work when you feel like it. That will legally indemnify you against all shareholder lawsuits, while allowing you to dispose not only of their investments, but of their personal property in any way you see fit.

There is only one such company. It’s called the United States Government.

It wasn’t always this way. There used to be limitations on executive and legislative power. But those limitations are gone along with the top hat and the diamond stickpin. Under an ideological cloak of darkness, politicians act as if they can do anything they want. Public outrage is met with alarmist news stories about the dangers of violence, as if this were the reign of the Bourbon kings,  not a democratic republic whose right of protest is as sacrosanct as its flag and its seal. Instead the republic is dominated by political trusts, party machines, media cartels, public sector unions and a million vermin who have sucked the cow dry and are starting in on its tender meat.

Consider that in 2008, Obama pulled in 20 million from the health care industry. (McCain only 7 million). Afterward, he conspired to pass a law which mandated that every American be forced to buy health insurance from the industry. There is no definite figure for how much money the industry will make from this, but it will be a whole lot more than the mere 20 million they invested in him. During the days of the robber barons, the government never mandated that everyone must buy a product from them. Private companies might have contrived such control over the marketplace, but the IRS was never enlisted to collect their bills for them.

Every New York Times columnist who summons up the ghost of T.R. to mewl about the “concentration of wealth” should hang his head in shame. If Theodore Roosevelt were to come to life and behold such a connivance between the government and the industries it created, at the expense of the people, whether it is HMO’s or the mortgage market, is there any real doubt that he would seize his big stick and bust some trusts.

How much money has flowed from the Obama Administration to its friends in the private sector in just the last year alone? And how much of that money was used to secure jobs for its allied unions, money which is then kicked back to liberal politicians running for office? Entire states are going bankrupt because of political trusts formed by politicians and public sector unions which pass money back and forth to each other in the plain sight of God and the American taxpayer.

This is not the mere concentration of wealth, but the ruthless concentration of power. The real money isn’t coming from that top 1 percent, it’s coming from unions, lobbies and companies which use political power to extract public money. And that money goes to the party which is so determined to keep on extracting that money no matter what it takes.

The big government left keeps playing the class warfare card, but for all their murmuring, it is not the top 1 percent that robs the middle-class blind and then sends them the bill. Even the worst company in the world isn’t as larcenously extortionate as the politicians who spend and kick back, and then cry poverty and raise taxes. They shout that we need to raise taxes on the rich, and supposing that we do, where will that money go? Even if we strip that 1 percent of all their wealth and dress them up in barrels, is there anyone who does not believe that those in power will still contrive to spend it all and run up huge deficits anyway?