Friday Five – Volume 114

I’m a day late with this, but wanted to pass this along courtesy of Fr. Richard Heilman:

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

That’s the main course, on to the seconds (or thirds…or fourths…)

Friday Five-Mere Observations

— 1 —

Here’s your Word of the Year, ladies and gentlemen. It’s sadly appropriate.

The Oxford Dictionary, after a tumultous year of political exaggeration and media distortion, has chosen “Post-Truth” as its Word of the Year.

In making the announcement, Casper Grathwohl, President of the Global Business Development & Dictionaries Division at Oxford University Press, predicted that “post-truth” could become “one of the defining words of our time.” Grathwohl added,

“Fueled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, post-truth as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time.”

The dictionary defines “post-truth” as

“Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

I’ve got to say that the Oxford Dictionary has hit the nail on the head. This is a definition which affirms the feelings of transgender individuals over the scientific reality of “x” and “y” chromosomes, and ranks “feelings” over objective truth when college students retreat to their “safe spaces” complaining of racism and inequality and gender discrimination.

— 2 —

To continue what I said last week about enjoying movies that tell stories (and not the kind you find in a superhero comic):

 

 

H/T to Steven Greydanus

— 3 —

Recently Msgr. Charles Pope wrote about The Modern Tendency to Get Lost in Our Devices. It’s an excellent article in which he cites an article in First Things written by Patricia Snow. It seems we read these types of articles with more frequency these days as people are awakening from the stupor of what staring at a screen has done to them and their ability to interact with others or function in society. But it was the following passage that really stood out to me (in particular what I boldfaced):

That’s right, the effects of becoming lost in our devices lead to semi-permanent problems and symptoms we usually attribute to autism spectrum disorders. This affects not only human conversation, but even more so the conversation with God that we call prayer. Snow writes,

For all the current concern about technology’s effects on human relationships, little or nothing is being said about its effects on man’s relationship with God. If human conversations are endangered, what of prayer, a conversation like no other? All of the qualities that human conversa­tion requires—patience and commitment, an ability to listen and a tolerance for aridity—prayer requires in greater measure. Yes, here is the one conversation Satan most wants to end.

So here is the problem: there is an increasing loss in our ability to relate to other people and to God. The virtual is prized over the real, fantasy over reality. What God actually offers us is dismissed as of lesser value and we become more deeply locked in our own little world. It is a perfect recipe for Hell since it also describes it: turned in on oneself and away from God and others.

What is the way out of this descent into a self-enclosed virtual world?

It’s worth your time to read the rest and have that question answered. And while I’ve thought of it off and on, it wasn’t until reading that paragraph from Ms. Snow that I saw it in black and white. As a father it is a very real concern of mine. As a citizen watching our culture devolve into an unthinking, reactionary and angry society it alarms me to no end.

— 4 —

According to NPR many people are taking steps to cut back on social media after this election.

Rachael Garrity posted a farewell message on Facebook. She told her “friends” — that’s how she puts it in an email to NPR, in quotes — that she would delete her account. An email from her son followed: Are you OK?

“I am finding Facebook to have a negative impact on my continuing to keep a positive feeling regarding some of the people I have known longest and cherish most,” writes Garrity, who has worked in not-for-profit marketing and publishing since the 1970s.

Garrity was one of more than 150 people who have shared their stories with NPR, recapping how they are recalibrating their attitude toward social media after this year’s election. Donald Trump’s surprise victory ended an emotional roller-coaster of a presidential race, which has left Facebook, Google and Twitter scrambling to rein in a proliferation of fake news and harassing behavior.

“What was really shocking to me was how many people who I consider to be smart were sharing things that were not so smart, definitely obviously fake but matched whatever viewpoint that they pushed or agreed with,” says Michael Lowder. He’s Garrity’s grandson — and he shared her story with NPR because, true to her word, she has quit Facebook, where NPR posted the call-out.

— 5 —

Amy Welborn addressed a question I see repeatedly being asked in the days and weeks following the election: What do we tell the children? Amy is always worth reading and this week she articulated thoughts I’ve sifted in my own head and she brought some order to them.

On Christ the King Sunday last week I exchanged a few texts with a good friend of mine in which I mentioned that it seemed to me the reason so many Hillary supporters were wailing and gnashing their teeth is because they, like so many Obama supporters, had elevated a politician to the role of a savior. All their trust, all their self-esteem, all their faith in who they are is entrusted to a fallible human being beholden to their donors. To be fair, I see this on the right side of the spectrum too, and became disgusted when I’d see Trump memes appear after he won his party’s nomination this summer. Memes that suggested all our problems would be fixed by Trump. Many was the time during this whole election spectacle that I recalled a favorite passage from Holy Scripture:

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. – Psalm 118:8-9

Instead of asking What do we tell the children?, Amy asks What have you been telling your children?

I would also ask What have you been telling yourself?

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