Friday, December 25, 2015

We Are So Blessed

I doubt very many of you are reading this, and that's a good thing.

It's not because I don't want people to read my writing. (That's sort of my job; I think I'm a journalist, or something.) But today isn't really a day for reading blogs, even Christian ones. And I trust you already know that.

I say the following with no presumption of knowing anyone's lot in life, so beg forgiveness of those who cannot in conscience look upon this day with the joy that I do. But I would be lying if I did not say how I truly feel, that I am so, so blessed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

When Mary Was Mixed Race: Mary and a Catholic Approach to Social Justice

Praised Be Jesus!

I hope that everyone is doing well and navigating the crazy change of weather — Jersey has been a mess! As we journey on now that the Synod of the Family has drawn to a close, and we will soon see what the Holy Father plans to do with the challenges facing the modern family. Many of the issues in the modern world do fall into the realm of Catholic social teaching and how we are to respond to the many cultural and justice issues in our day-to-day lives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SAINTATHON 2015: Saint Expedite

Praised Be Jesus, everyone!

As we continue on with our celebration of saints for November, I want to highlight a mostly unknown saint in our part of the world, who's also one of my favorites, Saint Expedite. Very little is known about Saint Expedite, but he is greatly associated with the armies of Armenia. As his legend goes, Saint Expedite was a Roman solider who was converting to Christianity. On his way to be baptized, Satan appeared to him as a crow (or a snake, depending on the legend) and tried to convince him to convert the next day. In a flurry of zeal, Expedite crushed the bird beneath his feet and proclaimed, "I will follow Christ today!" and proceeded to be baptized — and not long after, martyred.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

SAINTATHON 2015: Dem Bones: The Power and Mystery of the Holy Relics

The major relics of Saint Maria Goretti on tour in Philadelphia
Praised Be Jesus!

In recent weeks, the Catholic world has been abuzz, first and foremost for Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. and the effects it had on believers and nonbelievers alike. But a curious, little-known event coincided with the Holy Father's visit to the U.S. On Monday, September 21, the skeletal remains of Saint Maria Goretti, the youngest canonized saint in the modern history of the Catholic Church, made their first stop on their tour of the U.S. This tour is in honor of the Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis will proclaim later this year. Also in recent news, it was made known that the remains of Saint Thérèse and her parents would be exposed during the whole of the Synod on the Family.

But why? Many people ask this question. What is so special about the bones of the saints who have already entered eternal glory? Isn't the practice of relics something that was stopped after the Second Vatican Council?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

SAINTATHON 2015: Blessed Chiara Badano

Welcome, one and all, to Unpleasant Accents' second annual Saintathon! To commemorate our anniversary, which falls on All Saints Day, our team is posting about their favourite Saints throughout the week. This year, Tani starts us off with Blessed Chiara Badano:

Human beings have always had a strange relationship with suffering. In A.D. 524, the philosopher Boethius wrote, "Finally, and this is the last straw, the judgement of most people is based not on the merits of a case but on the fortune of its outcome; they think that only things which turn out happily are good." Perhaps that is why Blessed Chiara Badano so confuses, and yet so captures the imagination of, many people around the world.

Bl. Chiara at 16

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I Am a Bride of Christ

The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine of Siena
Praised Be Jesus!

As autumn rolls on, there are a great many feasts honoring many a woman who dedicated her life to serving Christ as a spiritual Bride of Christ. Whether they be virgin martyrs or cloistered nuns, we have come to know those who identify with brides of Christ as those women who have made some commitment to the religious or consecrated life. So it may come to many a surprise that spiritually, I identify as a spouse of Christ, even though I am male and I have not taken any formal religious vows.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

So, You've Decided to Report on the Catholic Church: A Journalistic Primer

Welcome to America, Pope Francis! To celebrate your arrival, all of the U.S. press have been instructed to watch this educational film so that your visit is covered accurately and fairly. We hope you enjoy your stay!

Well, hello there! If you're watching this short film, then you're about to start a promising career in the world of journalism. In this profession, you are tasked with bringing the news to the people, free of bias or prejudice. In today's lesson, we're going to cover the Do's and Don'ts of Reporting on the Catholic Church. Let's get started, shall we?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tani Trashes Terrible Christian Movies: Christian Mingle

[WARNING: This review contains spoilers, but that's only because I watched this movie so you don't have to.]

Here at Unpleasant Accents, we have a long and rich history of drunk book reviews. In that vein, I have decided to start writing high Christian movie reviews. Don’t worry, folks; it’s a totally legal high on my painkillers for EDS, which is good, because to get through Christian Mingle: The Movie, I had to take a few extra ibuprofen. It’s that bad.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Do All Dogs Go to Heaven? How Losing a Pet Challenged My Views on the Afterlife

I love dogs. I love all animals, really, but dogs hold a special place in my heart. Anyone who grew up with a pet can easily understand why animals can hold such an important and profound place in our lives.

Pets do a tremendous service to mankind that comes in all forms. We often hear heartwarming stories of service dogs giving people with disabilities a sense of independence. Military veterans who suffer from severe PTSD are given a chance to heal through service animals. Stories about cats and dogs helping children with mental disabilities circulate through social media on a regular basis. Beyond that, every pet owner has a story about some act of joy his or her pet brought into his or her life. Many of us cannot think of our pets without smiling or remembering something they did recently. 

I often read these stories, cry for an hour, and have to tell people at work that my eyes are red from allergies and not from reading sweet animal stories when I should be answering client emails. Reading about the tremendous love our pets have for us and seeing it with my own pets proves just how much God loves us.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Corruption of the Privacy of Marriage

A guest post by Daniel Michel

Within just a few days of the Supreme Court's decision on same-sex civil marriage, those on the victorious side of the case began calling for new discriminatory laws and policies to be put into place. One columnist suggested scrapping the longtime tradition of tax-exempt status from religious institutions — and even polygamists feel emboldened by the decision. Other radical ideas are sure to come about.

It already looks bleak for many of us who support traditional marriage: the true definition, nature, and substance of what marriage, in fact, is. This issue over marriage and same-sex unions has obviously become divisive, and outside of the legal realm, there appears no end in sight to this debate. This is why it may be time to take a new, or rather old, way of dealing with this issue: privatizing it altogether.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Not O.K., Takei: On Defining Dignity

By now, any of you with an Internet connection and even a mild interest in pop culture has heard about George Takei's unfortunate remarks about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In short, Takei, who is in a civil marriage with another man, took issue with Thomas' dissent in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which found that there is a Constitutional right to civil marriage for same-sex couples. Much of the media focus has been on Takei's racially-charged remarks and not on the merits of his criticism of Thomas. Takei finally apologised for being "uncivil" in his remarks towards the Justice (after explaining that there is totally nothing racist about saying that a black person is a fake black person, because famous actor, or something), but he stands by his critique. The problem is, his critique is as baseless as his racist remarks are offensive.

Don't worry, George. This won't hurt. Much.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reporting from the (Lawn) Chair of Leisure As Culture

Here at Unpleasant Accents, we value literature. And also stock images.
The Honorary Chair of Leisure As Culture humbly suggests you, dear reader, consider these summer reading recommendations. First is a bit of modern German fiction, recently translated into English. Following that is a dystopian black comedy set in an England where procreation has been outlawed and cannibalism may be on the verge of breaking out. On a pleasanter note, our next selection is a comedy of manners featuring a happy, well-adjusted, single Englishwoman. Finally, on the nonfiction front, a revisionist history of the good old USA proposes that many of the political problems civic-minded Catholics face can be traced back to the philosophy behind the Founding.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Theology of the Selfie

A guest post by Tatiana Lozano

The vanity.

The posing.

The infamous duckface.
Such is the prototype of the ever-notorious selfie. But this is not just fun and games. These images have fed into the stereotypes of our youth — supposedly brimming with greediness, sloth, and entitled behavior. The selfie is therefore not merely another trend.

It has become the Anti-Icon of the Millennial Generation.

But what exactly do I mean? I'm not defining "icon" in the way we speak of celebrities or American apple pie. The Church has icons of her own, particularly in the East — a tradition of paint, wood, and gold passed down through the centuries. They, however, do not exist solely as objects of art.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Real Compassion Is Never Violence

I was checking my email this morning (yes, I'm a teenager who prefers email to text messaging; don't judge) when I saw an email from the petition site with the subject line "War Crimes against Women and Girls." Because I'm a pretty cool Catholic feminist (remember, no judging!) I immediately clicked and read. I'm expecting a petition asking for clothes, shelter, food, or even protection for the women raped and abused by ISIS and Boko Haram, concrete forms of help to comfort, protect, and heal these poor ladies. But what did I get?

Monday, April 27, 2015

CAPTION THIS: When Benedict Met Beer

"You know, guys, I really could have used that drink before I resigned. But anyway, danke."
(Full story here and here. Picture c/o: English)
The Pope Emeritus' birthday was back on April 16, but we just couldn't resist the opportunity to have some fun with this picture. Thanks to all who participated in our last caption contest. And now to announce...

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Catholic Woman in Saudi Arabia

A guest post by Anonymous*

(Disclaimer: This piece was done by an amateur who was foolish enough to grant Damian a favor. Here it goes...)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Consumerism and the Family

I am a BuzzFeed fanatic. When I’m not doing homework (which I do do occasionally, mom) you can usually find me scrolling endlessly down the feed, looking at quizzes and pictures and lists. This is why, when blog overlord Damian sent me this post containing pictures of dads in Sweden with their kids, I clicked instantly.

Looking at the pictures, those fathers look so happy to be with their kids. Their kids look secure and happy to be with their dads. Sweden has mandatory sixty-day paternal leave and 480 days of total leave time for both parents. (In contrast, the U.S. has a suggested 12 weeks' maternity leave and neither suggested nor mandatory paternal leave!) The Swedish government is actively trying to promote the family, perhaps to combat the fact that Sweden has the second-highest divorce rate in Europe. But the dissolution of families, who are the very foundation of society and civilization, is a worldwide problem, especially in our own backyard. And no, I don’t mean Canada.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Rosary, Veganism, and Boycotting Pants

A guest post by Thomas Sundaram

The Christ Child appreciates both random article themes and serious side-eye.
Sometimes, you really want to write a guest article, but you just stiffed Our Glorious Leader Damian out of a really sick paper on Penance and you get a case of writer's block. But out of necessity arises genius, which in my case consisted of asking Damian to give me three themes about which I should write an article.

Genius is sometimes hard to recognize at first glance.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Confessions of a Black Catholic

Praised Be Jesus!

I hope this post finds everyone well and that everyone is keeping warm in these cold times (and to all those in warm climates, I have some uncharitable things to say, but in charity, I will leave them out).

Every February, the secular world celebrates Black History Month, a month to remember and celebrate the contributions and history of African Americans and other people of color. So, in honor of Black History Month, I wanted to share my experience of being both Black and Catholic. This is neither the story of my conversion, nor about the sociological implications of what it means to be Black and Catholic (even though I may touch on these things) but just my personal experience and my outlook.

Monday, February 9, 2015

When God Speaks My Love Language

Readers, I have a confession to make. 

I have an addiction. 

An addiction…

To adoration!!

That was awful. I'll never joke again. So, on to all seriousness: Eucharistic Adoration is probably my favorite thing in the whole world. It wasn't always, though. As a kid, I remember being dragged along to Adoration and feeling that it was the most boring thing anyone could possibly do. I didn't actually believe in the Real Presence back then. I couldn't tell that Jesus was there using my senses, so I couldn't really believe. Why would someone spend an hour in silence staring at a piece of bread, when she could be out climbing trees or playing kickball? 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

CAPTION THIS: When Rome Met Alexandria

Coptic Bishop: "Papa! Papa! Look what we drew!"
Francis: "Oh, how lovely! This is going right on the fridge." *slips into drawer*
(Full story here, here, here and here. Picture c/o: Vatican Radio English)
It's our first caption contest of the year! Joy! Mega-thanks to everyone who participated in our last caption contest. Without further ado, the winner is...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Myth and Distraction of Liberal and Conservative Catholicism

"Haters gonna hate."
And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me; That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one: I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me. Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me may be with me; that they may see my glory which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world. Just Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee: and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have made known thy name to them, and will make it known; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them. —John 17:20-26

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pro-Life and Post-Abortive: Women Impacted by Abortion Tell Their Story, Continued

Last week marked the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, as well as the annual March for Life. Too often, when discussing abortion, we are quick to forget the perspective of those most affected by the procedure: the women who have them and live with that decision for the rest of their lives. This post is continues our series of interviews addressing abortion, with a focus on women who have had abortions and now oppose it.

Béatrice Fedor is a French woman who used to support abortion rights. She had a change of heart after she married her husband and faced her demons. She is now a Silent No More Awareness Campaign regional coordinator. She writes about the journey to healing after abortion and reflects on ways we can change our culture to make abortion unnecessary at 400 Words for Women. Her essays and poems have been reprinted in several online publications and in The American FeministFeminists For Life's magazine. Béatrice lives in South Carolina with her husband and four children.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pro-Life and Post-Abortive: Women Impacted by Abortion Tell Their Story

This week marks the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, as well as the annual March for Life. Too often, when discussing abortion, we are quick to forget the perspective of those most affected by the procedure: the women who have them and live with that decision for the rest of their lives. This post is the first of several in our series of interviews addressing abortion, with a focus on women who have had abortions and now oppose it.

Jewels Green is a regretful post-abortive mother and former abortion clinic worker who now supports the right-to-life from conception to natural death. You can see more of her writing and other work at her Web site and also follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Je Suis Chrétien

Today marks one week since the Islamist assault on the anti-clerical satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, a publication which has published — and continues to publish — cartoons mocking Mohammed, the founder of the Muslim religion. The world reacted in horror at not just the senseless deaths at the hands of madmen but at the symbolism of the attack: that in a free and secular society, the freedom of expression might be held hostage to fanatical barbarism.

Many of those who condemned the attack were quick to point out that the publication was not merely anti-Islam but anti-Catholicism, anti-Judaism and anti-any non-secular belief system (examples of such cartoons can be viewed here and here, but warning: some are quite graphic and sexual in nature). What's more, despite being a generally Left-wing outfit, Charlie Hebdo was frequently accused of indulging in racism in the process of staking out its positions. An excellent appraisal of their cover depicting the kidnapping and rape victims of Boko Haram as welfare queens is explained here, and I promise never to link to Vox again if you promise to read it.

But for all of the high praise given Charlie Hebdo for its defiance in the face of violence — its offices had been firebombed for portraying Mohammed before, with no casualties — there has been criticism, as well. Yes, the killings of the magazine's staff were unjustified, the critics argue, but so too was their mockery uncalled for. And here we are faced with the question: Just because we can do something, does it mean we should?