Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let Earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room,
and Heaven and nature sing,
and Heaven and nature sing
and Heaven, and Heaven and nature sing!

File:Gerard van Honthorst 001.jpg
Gerard van Honthorst

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vice Verses

Switchfoot-Vice Verses
Alternative Rock
This is Switchfoot's latest album, and the song I've been analyzing, "Selling the News," is from this new CD.  As always, this new album is full of awesome sounds and insightful lyrics.  Jon Foreman, the main singer, has an incredible voice and cries for a world-wide change, starting with one's soul and working up to saving this "nation that eats our youth" (from the song "Blinding Light,").

Switchfoot is not afraid to address topics that are not considered politically correct.  They begin their album with a song called "Afterlife" which is about living life out loud, choosing to live to the fullest with the end in mind.  Another highlight on the album are "Restless" which is based off of St. Augustine's famous quote "Our hearts are restless until they rest in You."  This song is truly beautiful, and inspires the listener to seek to do God's will in his life, starting with finding and accepting God within him.  One of my favorites is "Thrive" which is about wanting to "thrive, not just survive" in body and soul. "Dark Horses" is probably their biggest mainstream hit from this album, and is about continuing to run against the crowd and pain without giving in, and many have called the last song "Where I Belong" their best yet.  This song is about the end of one's life, and about finally arriving "in a world where I belong," and living so as to achieve this end.

When you are feeling down or are in need of some motivation to continue to fight the world's lies, I suggest this CD to you.  It will inspire you and fill you with the fire you need to get out there and continue the battle.

As always, there are no curse words or inappropriate topics.  Switchfoot has once again succeeded, creating an album that wakes everyone up with fresh, fast beats, awesome notes, and fearless words.

May God bless this band as they continue to use their popularity to spread His message!

This is the last post in the series "We're Selling the News."  I hope this series has been both educational and inspiring; may the problems and solutions outlined here fill you anew with a desire to fight God's battle with all your heart.  And may God bless all of you!

A Book for These Times

Eclipse of the Sun
-Michael D. O'Brien

As I was reading this book, I couldn't believe how perfectly it fit the theme of this series "We're Selling the News." 

Within this book, Michael D. O'Brien describes a world that is nearing the Apocalypse.  It has fallen into horrible sin, human life is no longer respected, purity is non-existent, and the government has begun to treat its citizens like clones, or robots, simply manipulating them and brain-washing them to fit the agenda of some rich and lofty official.  Yet, amidst this ruin there are still the faithful; within this book the author describes the plight of the children of a radical journalist who are now being sought out by the government.  He focuses on the journalist's youngest son, Arrow, as this poor boy is assisted across Canada in his search not only for his family but also for truth and happiness.  He is helped by a prophetic priest, eccentric old lady, a good Protestant family, and even an angel. 
I do not want to give too much away, so I will end this summary here. 

The scary thing about this book is that, while reading it, one cannot help but notice that many of the sinful ways this disgusting culture has accepted are being implemented in our country now.  Mr. O'Brien's descriptions of this fallen world are revolting, yet one cannot help but acknowledge that this country is not that far away from fulfilling all of the author's prophesies.
I loved this book and highly suggest it for all older teens and adults.  I would not allow any one younger than that to read it, due to some of the descriptions of the twisted culture, not done in an inappropriate context, but detailing inappropriate things to fully depict how fallen the world has become.

This book is for our times, as it is describing the beginning of the end, upon which we are on the edge of entering.  Within these pages, Mr. O'Brien provides a clear distinction between right and wrong, and gives the reader inspiring characters as examples for how he should handle the destruction around him.

May God bless Michael D. O'Brien, and all those whose eyes are opened after reading his books.


This is post 8 of 9 in the series "We're Selling the News."

Friday, December 23, 2011

What To Do?

Over the past couple months I've been analyzing the state of the world using Switchfoot's song "Selling the News."  Now that I've gone through all the verses of the song, I want to give all of you some suggestions for how to fight this national crisis.

  1. Pray.  Ask God to look with favor upon the faithful within our country, and to forgive our nation its sins for their sake.  Implore Him to bless those who fight our nation's worst evils, especially those in the pro-life movement.  Throw yourself upon His mercy in the name of our country, and never tire of begging for His assistance.
  2. Speak Up.  There are so many organizations fighting to end the sinful patterns of our nation.  Research these organizations and choose one that you are passionate about.  A few problems you may prayerfully consider fighting against are abortion, euthanasia, gay "marriage," taking God out of schools, or the promotion of immodesty and impurity.  After researching and praying about these issues, you may find you are drawn to one in particular.  If so, find a local group and start taking time to join them in their efforts to end one of America's many evils.
  3. Support.  Support local Catholic organizations and other groups like the ones described above with your time and money.  Often times these groups will hold fundraising events that are open to the public; go and attend them.  Consider adding a local Catholic activist group to your group of charities that you donate to regularly.  You have no idea how much a little money or time encourages and helps these small, local groups.
  4. Educate.  Spend time growing spiritually and mentally by educating yourself.  Read wholesome books with your family, or by yourself.  Listen to CDs about the faith, and be ready to defend your beliefs if someone were to confront you about them.  Educate yourself, and then be prepared to educate others.
  5. Be Proud!  Be proud of your faith and values!  Wear T-shirts with a Catholic (or pro-life) message.  Pin pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-chastity, pro-Catholic buttons to your purse, coat, scarf, etc.  Buy some bumper stickers that announce your Catholic faith and values to those driving around you.  If we spend all our time hiding, we are not going to benefit anyone.  Don't shy away from situations that you know may bring about a confrontation. 
"Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words."  This quote is often attributed to St. Francis, and this is exactly what we must do.  It is by doing this, by being faithful children of Christ and seeking to extend His love to all those we come into contact with that we will change the world.  As St. Catherine of Siena said, "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!"  These five things are just a start, but if you start doing them either by yourself or as a family, you will begin to impact those around you.  Every little action counts, it may seem like waiting a few extra weeks to put up Christmas decorations isn't that big of a deal, but your children and your neighbors will notice and remember your faithful observance of the Liturgical calendar and how, even when the whole neighborhood had taken their lights down, your lights were still shining a week after December 25th because Christmas wasn't over yet in your Catholic home.  As my mom always says, each little thing you do that may seem little is like planting a mustard seed in someone's mind.  Throughout that person's life, other people will nourish that little seed until it grows into the beautiful plant God designed it to be.

And so, "Go forth and set the world on fire!" (St. Ignatius of Loyola), and may God bless your efforts!

This is post 7 of 9 in the series "We're Selling the News." 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where Nothing is Sacred, There's Nothing to Lose

The lines start to blur, I get so confused
I get shiny new models mixed up with the blues
I get binary code mixed up with abuse
The facts are simply on option to choose

Where nothing is sacred there's nothing to lose
Where nothing is sacred all is consumed
We're still on the air it must be the truth
We're selling the news.

I want to believe you
I want to believe
But everything I see is greed
The fact is fiction
Suspicion is the new religion.

File:Gerard van Honthorst 004.jpg
"Der verlorene Sohn" - Gerard van Honthorst

These are the last three lines of Switchfoot's telling song, "Selling the News," and some of the most powerful in the whole piece.

The first stanza describes the climax of the singer's confusion as he tries to make sense of the world, morally, based off of the social media's coverage of it.  All of the lies, half-truths, and fanciful claims to honesty are beginning to blur together, causing him to start to lose sense of what is true and what isn't.  He is so turned around that he is getting serious issues mixed up with objects and technology, because the media treats them all the same.  The newest Apple product gets the same amount of coverage as the most recent war-tragedy, and the latest environmental rally, which had about five attendants, gets more coverage than the March for Life in DC, which has millions of attendants (and is not even mentioned on regular television).  Which is why the facts are only an option, because one can watch mainstream TV or choose to research the truth, just like one can chose to believe the lies of Planned Parenthood, or choose to research the truth. 

The middle paragraph is incredible.  "Where nothing is sacred, there's nothing to lose,"  Think about that for a minute.  If we pretended that God did not exist, what reason would we have for avoiding sin?  If we decided that God and His morals just get in the way, and so decided to ignore, abuse, or curse them, what reason would we have for remaining pure, holy, and disciplined?  We would have no reason.  The more secular the world becomes, the more politically correct we become, the less respect we as nation have, and everything sacred is discarded, which is why living together before marriage and killing children for the sake of convinence is now considered okay by modern society.  And, as our culture becomes degraded all the good is consumed in the destructive fire of Satan as people begin to become comfortable with His tricks.  Yet, "we're still on the air, it must be the truth" is the way our nation thinks.  "Well, I heard it on the news!" is the common excuse to justify any claim that seems incorrect.  "Oh, well then you must be right" is inevitably the response.  When did opinions become facts?

And, as the song ends, the refrain changes a little to highlight one of the basic reasons our society has taken such a turn for the worst.  Because "everything is greed."  Why don't the news stations report the truth?  Because if they do their Muslim sponsors will not longer pay for their fancy clothes and shiny sets.  Why doesn't Planned Parenthood tell girls the harmful effects of abortions before doing them?  Because then they will lose money.  Why does Hollywood continue producing trash, and why do actors consent to play immoral characters?  Money, money, money.

And so ends Switchfoot's "Selling the News," one of the most eye-opening and honest analyzations of our country I have heard so far.  May we pray we will stop the decay and begin to rebuild a nation "under God" once again.

This is part 6 of 9 in the series We're Selling the News.  In the next three parts I will post things you can do to start healing this sick culture and review a book that fits perfectly with this theme.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Fingers

"It is the beautiful task of Advent

 to awaken in all of us memories of goodness

and thus to open doors of hope."

Pope Benedict XVI

(Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)
Seek That Which Is Above, 1986

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Two movies for St. Nick

VeggieTales: Saint Nicholas

I love VeggieTales, and this their third Christmas special, and probably the funniest out of the three. This movie is really cute.  It shows some of how St. Nicholas originated, though it doesn't show that he was a bishop (at least, not that I can remember).  It is a very sweet, comical tale, though, and highlights the importance of giving freely of our things out of a Christ-like love for each other.  There's even a scene with a nun handing out bread to the poor, who teaches him the true meaning of Christmas.

What I liked:

I loved the scene with the nun, the on-going hilarious enjoyment, and the overall message.

Possible Concerns:

True to the story of St. Nick, it shows that the Saint's parents died while he was a young boy.  This may be a little too sad for sensitive children, but it doesn't dwell on the tragedy for long.  Overall, the actual story of St. Nicholas is not quite correct, and the movie portrays some Catholic things in a different way than they should be (the previously mentioned fact that they do not show that he was a bishop, they show a Mass in session, but do not follow what would have been the correct proceedings, little Nick doesn't want to wait for Mass to be over because he is impatient to go fishing with his father, etc.).  In my opinion, show your kids this movie for a light-hearted tale of the spirit behind St. Nick, which was Christian giving, and read them an account of the real life of St. Nicholas for a better knowledge of his actual life.

Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa

This is a movie that shows more of St. Nick's original beginnings, shows him become a bishop, and is more religious than the VeggieTale.  All the movies in this animated Saints series are good, showing very positive, kid-friendly versions of the stories of the Saints.  I've been watching this one since I was a little kid; they used to show it at my old school during religion class.  It's a very powerful message, and shows how the Christians were true to their faith even when they were being persecuted for it.

What I liked:

I loved the whole thing!  It's very religious, showing Nicholas's piety while he was still a boy and chronicling his generosity through the rest of his life, even after being imprisoned for many years.
Possible Concerns:

There are a couple conflicts, such as a short slave scene, in which Patrick trades his new horse to free a boy, and a fire in a Church, but nothing too traumatizing.

I hope you all enjoy St. Nicholas Day, and may God bless you as your Advent journey continues!

(A note about the series "We're Selling the News":  I am terribly sorry it is taking me so long to finish it, I had no idea how difficult it would be to complete the series in a timely fashion.  It's been busy around here lately, but I promise to finish it before Christmas- and this is a promise I am not going to break!)