Autumn Eats and Treats

First, it was Sept. 22, the first day of fall. Then, it was the first day of October. Then, it was the first day of November. Then, it was Thanksgiving.

At every turn, to paraphrase that adored literary kindred spirit, Anne Shirley, I found myself glad to live in a world with Septembers and Octobers and Novembers. I was glad of sunshine, glad of wind (which, given that I live in Oklahoma, is a triumph, as the wind can turn cruel in an instant!), glad of holy days, glad even of time in the kitchen!

It’s easy, though, to be glad of time in the kitchen in that savory season of Autumn, when cooler temperatures call for comfort food but the high holidays haven’t yet exerted their inexorable pressure to attempt exalted menus of elegance and impossibility.

Continue reading

“It’s the culture, stupid!”

Presumably because the third GOP presidential primary debate aired on CNBC, it retained a narrow focus on economic issues (when the moderators paused from questions about the candidates’ personal issues, that is!). Tax reform starred, while the national debt, the budget deficit, entitlement reform, income inequality and immigration made cameos. The debate touched foreign policy issues and social issues not at all.

As a result, it left me frustrated. Our very deep and talented bench of candidates put forward a number of meaningful proposals to reform the tax code and to save our many entitlement programs, for example, but they failed to frame these proposals in the context of broader cultural reform.

Tax cuts will always be popular among taxpayers for both sound and selfish reasons, but many other conservative proposals will not resonate with the American people — such as “the American people” are today — until our leaders galvanize us to recover a sense of ourselves as human persons with innate dignity who flourish when we voluntarily live in accord with that dignity, which means, among other things, assuming responsibility for ourselves and our loved ones.

Continue reading

Those CNBC Moderators, Though!

Last night, the inimitable athletes of the Oklahoma City Thunder played — and won! — their season opener against the San Antonio Spurs. The Oilman and I naturally had a date to watch that game. So, we recorded the third GOP debate and, once again, watched a national presidential primary debate a day late. (That never would have happened in my days at Hot Air! A day late? Might as well be a decade late!) For the most part, I concur with this analysis I saw earlier today, but I’ll write my own just for the heck of it!

More so than any candidate, the painfully patronizing, irritatingly arrogant and maddeningly misinformed CNBC moderators lost the debate. Their pretense of profundity fooled no one. Instead, their blatant bias repeatedly drew “boos” from the crowd and cunning remarks from the candidates. (“This is not a cage match,” Ted Cruz said. “Even in New Jersey, what you’re doing is called rude, John,” Chris Christie quipped. The mainstream media is “Hillary Clinton’s Super PAC,” Marco Rubio asserted.)

Ultimately, though, the moderators elicited an impressive and refreshing esprit de corps from the candidates and, for that, we can be grateful.

Continue reading

iChild 6.0

A couple of days ago, a Facebook friend posted a professionally-shot-and-edited highlight reel of a party to reveal the gender of the baby she’s expecting. We’re talking a wedding-video-caliber creation here.

Obviously, I watched it. As a piece of cinematography, it was lovely — all amber-hued and artistically angled, perfectly paced and sentimentally scored. To judge by appearances, the gender reveal party itself was also lovely, characterized chiefly by easy mingling among the company and good-natured guessing as to the gender to be revealed, all against a backdrop of impeccably detailed decorations and a table of tantalizing treats.

To reiterate, it was all excessively nice. Yet, for some reason I could not articulate at the moment, I was appalled. Shortly thereafter, I found I could articulate the reason: Even more than it was nice, it was excessive.

Continue reading

An Unexpected Loss

FatherTharpThe Archdiocese of Oklahoma City lost a great and good priest this weekend. Father Shane Tharp, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Lawton, Okla., died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack Friday.

This afternoon, I was sorting through a mishmash of gift bags and tissue paper when I heard the news. The Oilman was scrolling Facebook and saw a post about the funeral arrangements.

“Did you know Father Shane Tharp?” he asked.

Did I know Father Shane Tharp? As sometimes happens, the question seemed unnecessary and, therefore, a little frightening. Surely, the Oilman knew I knew this priest, whom I’d known for — I don’t know — forever and whom I’d seen at a meeting not two weeks ago. Why did he ask?

Continue reading

Learning Obedience

Last Friday, I sat down for the first time at 9 p.m. I couldn’t tell you what it was I was doing all day, except to say that it all seemed good and necessary — and much of it was. Nevertheless, the upshot of it was that, by the time I entered my bedroom for the evening, I was utterly exhausted.

Yet, I foolishly expected to still be able to think deeply about the news of the day, to render a dent in the pile of periodicals brimming on my bedside table and to author a blog post for this little, still-as-yet-unadvertised space. The blog post was to be “Lessons from Little House” with a subtitle of “A Meditation on the Meaning of Freedom.” Yes, at 9 p.m. last Friday, after an exhausting day.

The trouble was that I couldn’t find my copy of Little Town on the Prairie, the novel that includes the passage on which my “Meditation on the Meaning of Freedom” was to be based. I’d had it Wednesday evening for book club, but hadn’t seen it since — and I’d scoured the house for it. At 9 p.m. last Friday, this minor annoyance became an urgent emergency. I had to find that book!

Continue reading

A Loving, Far-Off Gaze

Pope Francis has come and gone from the United States, and, in the wake of his visit, my soul is quiet within me.

Time and again, the Holy Father speaks to very great and complex questions with “transparency” and “sincerity” and “without ulterior motives” — characteristics he urges other world leaders to embrace. This purity of heart — his underlying faith in the good will of all those he encounters personally — has endeared him to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Case in point: On Saturday, a non-Catholic friend from college texted me to say, “Tina — Catholic or not, Pope Francis is such a refreshing and inspirational leader for all Christians around the world. My admiration for him has continued to grow these past few days!”

Continue reading

Ten Notable Quotes from Pope Francis

Most of these quotes pertain in some way to life, marriage and the family — but is it any wonder these are the issues that concern me most keenly?

(10) On politics in the service of the person:

All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776). If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.”

Continue reading

Eve Wore No Clothes

The leaders of the Challenge Club of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond, Okla., kindly asked me to speak at their recent “Virtue en Vogue” fashion show. Below, my prepared remarks about “the forgotten virtue of modesty in dress.”

Modesty is the virtue by which we simultaneously protect and project our dignity as persons created in the image of God.  It is the virtue by which we protect and project our dignity as, specifically, daughters of the Lord. Someday, it will be the virtue by which you protect and project your dignity as either religious sisters or as wives and mothers.

It is a very great and powerful virtue, but it is not always the easiest to practice. We have to pray and strive and consciously decide to be modest even as the world tells us we ought to either flaunt our bodies or cower in embarrassment of them.

Once upon a time, though, the struggle to be modest was not a struggle at all; modesty was baked into us as persons.

Continue reading

“Virtue en Vogue” Revisited

IMG_3572Yesterday, the Challenge Club of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond, Okla., hosted “Virtue en Vogue,” a fashion show to demonstrate to young girls that modesty can also be modish.

More than 100 mothers and daughters — and a few dads, too — gathered to watch 11 high school Challenge team leaders model fashions graciously donated by Dillard’s, Francesca’s, The Buckle, Hip and Swanky, and Old Navy.

Sweet Potato is as yet much too small to attend this sort of thing, but, as I emceed the event alongside my dear friend Lorryn McGarry, I had what was arguably the best seat in the house, and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the excellent production values, the confidence and elegance of the models, and the awe-inspired expressions of the middle-school girls who oohed and aahed at one outfit after another (but particularly at a pink, Cinderella-style prom gown).

Continue reading