What Can Catholic Parents Learn from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

03/24/2015 Comments (41)

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarneav is on trial today, and we know something about the argument his defense team will make. They will say that, while Tsasarneav is indisputably guilty of carrying out a ghastly plan to murder civilians in the streets of Boston, he was no ruthless mastermind, but a vulnerable young man pushed around by his older brother, Tamerlan. The 19-year-old Dzhokhar was in a country foreign to him, just beginning college when his parents were divorcing; his home life was unstable, money was tight, and the only stability and guidance he could find came in the person of his violent, radical brother. Tamerlan took the opportunity to radicalize the teenaged Dzhokhar,...READ MORE

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Of Catholics and Capybaras

02/19/2015 Comments (24)

Think you know more or less what Lent is about? Nope, nuh-uh, wrong-o. You haven't plumbed the depths of contradictary human behavior until you've spent several years observing Lent as only a Catholic can do. 

Luckily, I've been doing it for nearly forty years, so I can help you save some time. Here are a few questions you might have about Lent and Catholics, all answered as well as they possibly can be. 

Q. People were being really weird about the ashes. Some people told me I would be sinning if I washed them off before midnight, and then my mother-in-law said it would be a sin of vanity to check in the mirror to see if they look as goofy as my husband's, and then my sister said that...READ MORE

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Oh, the Lents You Can Lent!

02/17/2015 Comments (7)

How should we observe Lent? Catholics are often eager to share what works for us, and eager to warn others away from what turned out to be disastrous for us. But, as Jimmy Akin points out

The traditional custom of giving up something for Lent is voluntary. Consequently, if you give something up, you set the parameters. 

Not only do we set the parameters for what we give up (sugar in coffee? A second cup of coffee?  All the coffee?), but we decide what kind of thing we want to give up (or take on) -- and why. Here are a few broad categories of ways to observe the penitential season. One or the other may be more spiritually fruitful for you, but none of them is really wrong.


Lent as...READ MORE

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Hot Showers for the Homeless, Courtesy of St. Peter

02/10/2015 Comments (9)

It's been many years since I was in Rome, but I remember my first impression of the city: it's extremely beautiful, and it smells like poop. Part of that smell comes because Italians tend to have dogs, rather than children. And part of the smell comes because, at least when I was there, public bathrooms are few and far between, and they are coin operated. The phrase "eternal city" takes on a whole new meaning when you are penniless, on foot, and have nowhere to go for hour upon hour.

For a college sophomore spending a semester abroad, this discomfort had its exotic charm. For the thousands of homeless men and women who live in Rome, having nowhere to relieve themselves -- and nowhere to...READ MORE

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If You Watch Garbage, You Will Get Dirty

02/05/2015 Comments (77)

Last night, my husband and I were talking over our day -- conversations we'd had, news that made us think. He said, "Watching that kind of thing warps you, and warps the way you look at the rest of the world."

And I said, "I know. And there's tons of evidence that people who watch this stuff keep needing weirder and more awful things to look at, to keep their interest."

After a "Huh?" moment, we realized that we were talking about two different stories in the news. He was talking about people who thought they had a good reason to watch that poor Jordanian pilot being burnt alive in a cage; but I was talking about people who thought it was fine to watch two actors humiliate themselves and...READ MORE

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Dealing with Busybodies: Some Practical Tips

02/03/2015 Comments (19)

Some time ago, I shared some practical tips for how to make a difficult decision. While it can be a huge relief to make the initial choice, we sometimes still have to face another hurdle: defending or explaining ourselves to people who feel entitled to an opinion about our lives.

How difficult this is depends on your personality. Some people can just shake it off when other people question or disapprove of our choices. But it's not necessarily a personality flaw to care what other people think, or to be disturbed when we're challenged, or to wonder how to navigate an interrogation without either losing our dignity or the friendship of the people who insist on knowing more. For a sociable...READ MORE

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RIP Charles Townes, Brilliant Physicist, Man of Faith

01/29/2015 Comments (14)

Yesterday, Nobel Prize winner Charles Townes died at the age of 99. He invented the laser and discovered the black hole at the center of the galaxy, and spent many decades on the vanguard of scientific inquiry.

He also seems to have been a tremendously approachable and genial man, and was very open about his Christian faith -- and about the natural cooperation between faith and reason, religion and science. In a 2005 interview with National Public Radio, he said: 

Consider what religion is. Religion is an attempt to understand the purpose and meaning of our universe. What is science? It's an attempt to understand how our universe works. Well, if there's a purpose and meaning, that must...READ MORE

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Badawi Flogging Case, and Prof. George's Bargain, Reminds Us of Our Obligations

01/27/2015 Comments (5)

A Catholic professor, along with six other members of a politically and religiously disparate group, have each offered to endure 100 lashes on behalf of a Muslim blogger, who was sentenced by the Saudi government to be flogged a thousand times for "insulting Islam through electronic channels" and "going beyond the realm of obedience."

The blogger, Raif Badawi, received the first set of fifty lashes in early January, but the rest of his sentence has been postponed  and is under review by the Saudi supreme court because he was deemed not sufficiently healed enough to continue the flogging. International observers suspect that the postponement of the sentence has less to do with concern over...READ MORE

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About Simcha Fisher

Simcha Fisher
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Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs at I Have to Sit Down. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and nine children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.