Sunday, July 25, 2004

A day to remember...

In case you didn't know, today is the anniversary of the date Humanae Vitae ("On Human Life") was issued--July 25, 1968. It is probably the most infamous papal encyclical in Church history, with all of the division that it's caused in the last 30 years (it's the one that said contraception is a 'no-no' for Catholics).

More and more Catholic scholars are saying that this date will go down as one of the most important days in the last century, because of the influence (for the better) that they think it will eventually have. The entire "Theology of the Body" developed by Pope JP II in the early 1980s is an example of this impact, for it was a direct response to the call of Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. To be completely honest, in all my readings on the questions of the meaning of life, being, sex, etc., no one has given so profound an answer as JPII in this theology. IMHO, it is the true Christian antidote to the disease of the sexual revolution that has plagued society for the past 70 years or so (though the roots of the problem go much deeper and further back).

Anyways, to coincide with this epic date, I plan to shoot some stuff out in the next couple of days on the question of contraception and sex. Before I really dive into this though, I'd love to hear people's thoughts on the Church's moral teaching here, since this is probably one of the biggest turnoffs to people looking at Catholicism. So please do share!

Well, there's Christianity...

...and then there's this:

Cartoon fans start Spongebob church

Funny and a bit creepy. All I can think is, "I thought I'd heard it all ... until now." As Chesterton reportedly quipped, perhaps prophetically, when people stop believing in God, they don't then believe in nothing--they believe in anything.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Out of commission (temporarily)

Well folks, as of Saturday morning, July 17th, this blogger will be out of commission while away for a week in Virginia. I should get back sometime in the evening on Friday, July 23rd. Hopefully, if all goes well, I'll have some good ponderings for the blog when I return home. Until then, God bless!
p.s. Feel free to keep discussions going while I'm gone.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Music and Memory

On a lighter note, I learned something incredible this weekend. This past Saturday, I was talking with a friend in Michigan who happens to know a half dozen languages or so. At one point, I asked him what he considered the best way to go about learning a language. Well, he gave several suggestions, but the one that struck my attention most was poetry and music.
For years I've marvelled at the ease with which we can remember the words of a song we haven't heard in 10 years, yet we struggle to remember some concepts for a test from material we spent hours studying over! Well, this fellow (his name be John) gave me an answer for this mind boggler.
He explained how when one is merely read/speak/memorize prose, they usually are merely using the left side of their brain. In contrast, when one begins to read/speak/memorize poetry (with the rhyme, meter, etc.) or music, they not only use the left side of their brain, but the right comes into play as well. Consequently, with poetry and music, one is practically doubling their brain power in the attempt to memorize words or concepts. Amazing!
Then he told me a story of when he was once taking an Italian class. The professor took all of the students to a neurology center one day, and they observed doctors working with several patients. One patient in particular, had lost nearly all of the left portion of his brain. Because of this, he struggled greatly to say complete sentences and could rarely pronounce (or say at all) words that had more than two syllables. Usually, he knew there was a word to use, but he simply couldn't access it because he was missing that part of his brain.
For one experiment, they had this man try to recite (in regular speech) the "Star Spangled Banner". He tried and tried, but could not do it, because he always got stuck up on the larger words. Then, however, the doctors played the music to the song, again asking him to recite the lyrics, this time singing. Lo and behold, the man sang the entire song without missing a beat, pronouncing every word perfectly! Incredibly, he was still able to access those words from the right side of his brain!
The power of music (well, rhyme and rhythm in general, to be more precise)! What a gift!

Monday, July 05, 2004

Colors in Motion

I have to give props to Steve for finding this neat little site:

My appreciation for colors skyrocketed after watching the 6 short films on the primary and secondary colors. If you have 5 minutes to spare, you must take the time to check them out! The other stuff on the site is cool too though. Looking at the "star profiles", I was surprised to find how much I connected with the traits of my favorite color, green.

BTW, what is your favorite color? And can you relate much to the traits of your color?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Fire and the Fourth

Happy birthday USA and happy 4th of July everybody!!!

What a beautiful day it’s been. We had a splendid Independence Day meal here at the McAnall family household: barbequed chicken, corn on the cob, mixed fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, and blueberries), and corn bread, with a glass of milk to top it all off. Great stuff! Nothing particularly extraordinary happened today, except that I had a wonderful moment of self-reflection and appreciation for life as I sat outside pulling the husks off of the corn in preparation for dinner. Life truly is beautiful. Anyways, if anyone has a good (or bad, or funny) 4th story to share, go for it!

Moving on, what I really wanted to focus on is the splendor of fire. Just think about it: if you asked most Americans, they would agree that the 4th of July just wouldn’t be the same without fireworks. But what is it about fireworks, and fire for that matter, that is so appealing? The light? The warmth? The glow? Guys especially seem to have an incredible fascination with fire. I don’t think there’s a boy in the world who doesn’t go through a “pyro” phase at some point during adolescence. Heck, to be completely honest, I think I’m still in that phase to a certain degree. The only difference is that maybe I’m a little more responsible now, but I still love to mess with fire! Perhaps that's half of the reason that I've grown to like candles so much, because I don't get to play with fire nearly as often as I used to.

So here's the bottom line: Fire is cool! Seriously folks, where would we be without it? We'd be dead! Even if the early humans could have survived long ago without fire on earth, they still needed the heat energy from that great ball of fire we call the Sun! What a thought! I think we need a moment of silence in gratitude of fire. What a gift!

In light of all of this (pardon the pun), I'd love to hear people's stories about their experiences with fire. I'm sure we've all got some good ones. Also, I'm curious as to whether or not there are any ladies out there that have gone through a "pyro" phase too, because frankly, I just don't see it like I do with guys.

Thoughts on Amiable and Constructive Dialogue

Folks, I really hope this blog can be a place of good and fun dialogue, and not a waste of time. It's my hope that we will have plenty of challenging, yet good-spirited discussions, with as little bitter argumentation as possible. Chesterton put it well when he said, "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion."

Assuming you agree with me on such common sense goals (let me know if you don't), I think the following points from my friend Dave Armstrong (originally written for his own blog Cor ad cor loquitur) will also be helpful in working towards those ends:


This is a free speech forum, and people will not be banned. But I would like to see it ... characterized by charitable, amiable discussion carried out with respect and consideration of others at all times.


In order to better understand each other, we need to communicate, listen to each other, and become friends, if possible. Experience and knowledge of human nature teaches us that good, constructive dialogue is not possible unless there is openness, charity, and respect and courtesy shown to the other person. God gave us two ears and one mouth, but it seems that many folks use their one mouth four times as much as their two ears. I want dialogue to occur here, not lectures, speeches, and "mutual monologues." By all means, render your own opinion, but then be open to talking about it and having it challenged in a friendly manner.

...Holding strongly to one's opinion (and even defending it vigorously) is not incompatible to listening to another position and respecting and liking the person holding it. A person's viewpoint is not the person. They are distinct. ...And "rational argument" is not the equivalent of "quarrel" or "brawl".


PLEASE keep in mind at all times that just because a person may hold what we believe is an erroneous viewpoint, that this is not necessarily (and, I think, relatively rarely) because they are wicked, evil, or obstinate. They may need to simply be more educated. They may have had extremely bad teachers and mentors, or a terrible life history (i.e., various influential and debilitating handicaps). They may in fact change their mind very quickly if shown another viewpoint. ...Give them the benefit of the doubt, and be unassuming about their motives and intents. We can't read minds or hearts. In any event, "you catch more bees with honey, not vinegar." And we can learn many things from almost anyone.


Personal attacks will, unfortunately, be inevitable on this forum, as they seem to be everywhere else which allows free speech. ...[Many people] believe that certain things are true and other things false. This will always offend some people who don't agree with conclusions which differ from their own. Often this leads to personal attacks and insults, for lack of a cogent reply. It's very common, and (like the poor) will always be with us.

I would advise all participants here to simply ignore posts where a person obviously wants to primarily insult and run down others personally... If you respond at all, then do so with, and try to focus on actual substance in these posts, and ignore the attacks and nonsense. Many such people simply want to get a rise out of others and to bait and goad them. That is defeated by ignoring the bait. If they don't get what they came to get, eventually they'll disappear (because they are deprived of the thrill and charge that motivates them to act in this fashion), and the quality of the blog threads will thereby be improved. Try it; it works almost every time.


Lastly, I don't care much at all, personally, for the Internet phenomenon of using nicknames, but I have to live with it. Better to dialogue with "C3PO" or "Thucydides" than no one at all, I suppose, and I understand that some people want or need privacy, for various reasons (some legitimate, some perhaps frivolous and unnecessary). But I would like to request that, whenever possible, people use their real names on this blog, so others will know who they are talking to, and to also freely indicate personal beliefs such as denomination, atheist, Muslim, etc. -- especially when asked (a website or blog listed would also help people get a handle on posters).

I care for the policy of refusing to reveal one's own religious affiliations even less than I do for the pervasive nicknames. People are entitled to know where the other person is coming from. This makes for much better and fairer discussion, in my experience. If your dialogue partner knows what broad category you are in, that (at least potentially, if they are considerate) fosters more respect and understanding, because they will be able to be more sensitive to your particular opinions due to knowing what they are in the first place. Makes sense to me, anyway ... I certainly talk and argue differently, depending on who I am talking to.

[Note: These are only excerpts (what I felt to be most pertinent) from a longer article, but the rest can be read at the following webpage:]

A hearty welcome, the meaning of "Quo Vadis?" and a bit about myself...

Welcome to "Quo vadis?" or "Where are you going?" What a simple yet important question to ask, one in which the answers might be as straightforward as "Up the hill" or as deep and mysterious as the very meaning of existence. Join me then as I muse (and blog) upon the countless questions of life, big and small, serious and lighthearted. After all, as G.K. Chesterton once said, "The only thing that matters is everything." Thus, you can expect the content here to possibly be quite diverse.

Let me also say from outset that I am no blogging professional. I do this primarily for my friends and for personal growth. At the same time, I'll do my best to make the blog a place of quality information and fruitful dialogue for strangers as well.

Now, to give you an idea of who I am, born and raised in northwest Ohio, presently I'm a 23 year old grad student working on an MA in Philosophy at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH. I'm also one of the billions of people in the world trying to figure out where I'm going in life.

Almost 3 years ago though, I entered into the Catholic Church. Since then especially, while I continue to look to a multiplicity of views on various questions, I cannot deny the fact that the Catholic Christian spirit has had the strongest influence upon my outlook and perspective of things. This "spirit" however, is amazingly diverse, much to the chagrin of those who prefer nicely-packaged boxes of thought.

I say all of this though, in order simply to caution against any temptation to try and place my "worldview" (if you can call it that) into one particular philosophical or political camp. I especially dread the thought of being labelled a Republican or Democrat, Neo-Con or Liberal, for I truly despise that dreadfully naïve binary way of thinking. Yes, you ought to consider my thoughts in light of the various groups/traditions which may influence them, but please also strive to take them for what they are in and of themselves. The same goes for others commenting on the blog (unless they themselves really want to be seen as in one camp or another). Hopefully, this will help in keeping discussion fruitful and charitable.

That being said, enjoy what goes on here. And if you ever have any idea of your own, or even want to be a guest-blogger, be sure to drop a comment and let me know. Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to hearing from you!