Thursday 2nd October 2014

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Book Review . . . Stimulating Conversation And Strong Convictions

August 10, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN

Learning As I Go, by Jeff Minick. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform: North Charleston, S.C., 2013, 311 pages. Available at amazon.com.

Imagine sitting at a kitchen table and having a conversation with a native of North Carolina, an elderly gentleman with a lively mind and a bona fide liberal education, a widower with five children and rich life experience, a former bookstore owner and a teacher of Latin, literature, and history to home-schooled students, a person who cherishes family, simple pleasures, and the enjoyment of people, an articulate man of letters with a love of literature and a master of the English language, and a devout Catholic who honors and lives the Christian faith.
This is the impression that reading these essays, letters, and satires makes — stimulating conversation, strong convictions, genuine insights, bursts of laughter, and the warmth of the personal touch.
The conversation ranges over a multitude of topics from the impoverished state of the culture to the polarized political climate of America to the weaknesses of the Catholic Church to the abysmal status of modern education.
As one hears these reflections and constructive criticisms on a myriad of subjects from sexual morality to the importance of reading to the works of Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, the mind receives abundant food for thought, extraordinary common sense, intellectual honesty, and the wisdom of the ages. Like Socrates in his quest for truth, Minick makes thinking and learning a labor of love.
Divided into six parts (Letters to the Bishop, The Public Square, Hobson and Uncle Samuel, Notes on Education, Observations, and Books and Writers), the book addresses many of the concerns and issues that touch everyone’s life in the 21st century.
In “Letters to the Bishop,” Joe Ecclesia (the author’s persona) writes to an imaginary bishop about the matters that trouble him the most: the rearrangements before the altar and the position of the tabernacle as potted plants replace candles and transform the holy place before the statue of the Holy Mother into “a miniature garden.” Joe asks the bishop about the meaning of a “gay and lesbian Mass,” and wonders if “a Drunkards’ Mass” and “a Thieves’ Mass” will soon follow.
A man of integrity, Joe speaks his mind and does not belong to “The Keep-’Em-Dumb-And-Dutiful Crowd.”
He laments “those straggling squads of readers and eucharistic ministers who descend every Sunday onto the altar of even the smallest parish” and criticizes the feminization of the chanceries and seminaries that fail to attract noble, manly men motivated by lofty ideals and heroic virtues. Joe finds it contradictory for the Church that provides great comfort for the dying and devotes All Souls’ Day to honor the faithful departed to neglect the great adventure of living an abundant Catholic life: “Why do we hear so few sermons promoting the joys — and yes, the sheer adventure — of living life to the hilt as a Catholic?”
This love of life with its fullness and richness, he adds, needs the vitality that comes from hikes, delicious meals, book discussions, and engaging conversations in the atmosphere of friendship and hospitality. Joe asks honest, searching questions like “How often do we hear manliness praised these days in the Catholic Church? How often do priests offer homilies touting such masculine traits as restraint, courage, duty, and honor?”
Joe is always a thinker, never a “yes man.”
In “The Public Square” Minick turns his penetrating mind to such topics as the elitist prejudice of the mainstream media, especially in its vicious attack on Sarah Palin and its “unmasked contempt” for those who do not subscribe to the liberal ideologies. He concludes, “The American people now fully recognize the reporters and broadcasters for the snobs and liars they are.”
In the essay “How Slaves Are Made,” Minick exposes the absurdity of a statement from the 2012 Democratic National Convention: “The government is the only thing we all belong to.”
How can a rational animal created in the image of God and endowed with a free will and the capacity to love reduce himself to a creature of the state? Using common sense, Minick states simple self-evident truths: He belongs to God, to the human race, to his ancestors, to his wife and children, to the past, to his work, and to the Catholic Church. He does not owe servitude to the government: “The government belongs to us….I pay them money through taxes.” Though government may consider citizens as the subjects of the state, “it is nonetheless the master who pays the servant.”
Wise men like Minick are not fooled and quickly detect nonsense.
In “Hobson and Uncle Samuel” an older man passes on his wisdom about romance, love, and women to a nephew in need of prudence. He warns him about disillusioned, embittered “crazy ladies” indoctrinated by feminist ideology and duped by the propaganda that “they could have it all: a prestigious job, a wonderful and loving husband, children who adored them, a beautiful home.”
He cautions Hobson about many educated women who consider themselves superior to men. He advises him on the protocol of courtship and the chivalry of gentlemen. Uncle Samuel does not let popular culture or the media cheapen the beauty of romance and the magnificence of marriage.
He explains “What Women Want From Men”: first, manners and respect (“A practice of basic manners will so startle the women around you that they will give you a second, and even a third, look”). Second, humor (“Bring a smile to a woman’s lips, bring her laughter, and you will be well on your way to winning her heart”). Third, the personal touch (“Put aside the iPod, click off Facebook, and ask out the woman you wish to date face to face”). Fourth, the use of the eyes (focus the eyes on a woman’s face and show a sparkle when gazing into them). Fifth, fearlessness (“Be bold. Allow yourself to fall in love. Become a romantic”).
In a culture that avoids, postpones, or fears marriage or substitutes “living together” for the real thing, Minick dares to speak of the adventure of this glorious chapter of life with a sanity that is glaringly absent from popular culture. Reminding Hobson that women desire attention, value speech and communication, and deserve the courtesy of gentlemen, Minick gladly plays the part of the old bird who teaches young birds how to fly.
In “Observations” he offers many incisive points that identify the boorishness of modern habits lacking propriety, good taste, and refinement. In the essay “Adolescent Adulthood” he argues that a large percentage of adults do not act grownup but dress, talk, and behave as teenagers.
These adults dress inappropriately in public, even attending Mass in sweat suits. They “live only for pleasure and entertainment” and talk of “nothing but restaurants and wine tastings.” They indulge in alcohol, soap operas, and greasy foods and live the life of consumers. They stoop to the lowest common denominator and live in a state of lukewarm mediocrity, devoid of all the virtues that distinguish adults.
He even offers advice on “how to behave like a grownup” — a more basic lesson than how to get ahead, how to make money, or how to be successful.
Observing “fat women and fat men in sweats, jeans, and shorts” in shopping malls, he explains that the first rule is “to avoid dressing like a slob except in the privacy of your own home.”
The second rule is to have a sense of propriety and “to dress up rather than down on all occasions.”
The third rule is to talk like an adult and not only avoid obscenity but also speak in complete sentences and not copy the language of adolescents with empty interjections: “He was, like, you know, the best.”
Throughout these articles Minick keeps before his audience the highest ideals as the true standards of living.
The fourth rule is for adults to exercise restraint and self-possession in the traditional ways taught by the virtues of modesty, patience, humility, stoicism, or custody of the tongue rather than stoop to the crassness, brazenness, and exhibitionism that are often on display. Adults show strength when they practice the neglected virtues of “silence, a holding back, a stoic approach” rather than erupt with emotional displays and fits of anger.
The fifth rule is a sense of responsibility, duty, and service that puts the needs of others first before personal desires. Adults accept suffering and inconvenience and “offer themselves in sacrifice to others.”

Living Well

This theme of raising expectations recurs throughout the book both for the old and the young. He warns the young of the dragons that endanger their education, the “electronic beasts under the guise of pods, pads, and phones, game and laptops, emails, and Facebook” that rob them of the time for serious reading and a life of the mind.
He counsels the young to study history, to read great literature, to beware of the glib use of the term “crisis” as used by politicians for self-interest, to acquire courage and to study and practice the other virtues, to view life as an adventure, and to live their faith.
He exhorts both young and old to live well, not merely to exist and to consume; to distinguish between the way things are and the way things ought to be; to think and know the difference between education and indoctrination.
Never pandering to the young or compromising principles, Minick speaks coherently, consistently, and eloquently of the wisdom of the human race and the perennial truths of the Catholic faith as a light for all people to follow in all ages:
“To avoid being sheep, to avoid being herded about aimlessly by politicos, rumor mongers, and the windy opinions of our age, we must raise as our banners the ancient verities of the human spirit.”
In short, this is a most enjoyable book that features a lively mind, a human voice, a lighthearted touch, a cornucopia of food for thought, and a prescription for sanity.

+    +    +

(Dr. Kalpakgian is a professor of humanities.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Cardinal Burke Rebuts ‘Outrageous’ Claim That Cardinal Kasper Speaks For Pope

burk

Cardinal Raymond Burke strongly defended his criticism of the “Kasper proposal,” and said it was “outrageous” for Cardinal Walter Kasper to suggest that such criticism was actually aimed at Pope Francis, during a teleconference with reporters on September 30. “I…Continue Reading

There Are Dirty Political Games Behind The Iraq Conflict, Says Chaldean Patriarch Sako

Louis Raphael I warns: Our Church risks disappearing and not just because of the jihadists Gianni Valente Rome “There’s no future for us if the Lord does not help us.” There’s suffering and concern in Louis Raphaël I Sako’s words.…Continue Reading

On the Way to a Troubled Synod

synod

Cardinal Newman once remarked that anyone boarding the Barque of Peter shouldn’t look too closely at the engine room. Sometimes when there are storms brewing in the Vatican – as there are right now over the Synod on the Family…Continue Reading

Liberalism, Choice and Compulsion

Social liberals consider traditional moral restrictions cruel in their very essence. Each of us, they believe, should be as free as possible to pursue his happiness as he sees it, consistent with the equal ability of others to do the…Continue Reading

Vatican says bishop’s dismissal not the result of sex abuse

By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican denied Pope Francis had dismissed a controversial Paraguayan bishop because of his mishandling of sex abuse accusations, attributing the decision instead to other failings of governance and…Continue Reading

Padre Pio Was The Opposite Of A Fan-hugging, Autograph-signing Celebrity

Brusque to the point of being rude’, the Italian saint was only interested in one personality – the Son of God By FR ALEXANDER LUCIE-SMITH on Friday, 26 September 2014 There is a somewhat strange passage of scripture which by…Continue Reading

Music Director Hasn’t Resigned Despite Archbishop’s Request

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) – On Sept. 12, Jamie Manzi-Moore was asked by Archbishop John Nienstedt to resign from the church where he has served as music director for more than 17 years — but he hasn’t done it yet.…Continue Reading

“The Teachings Of The Church Must Be Upheld.”

Minnesota Archbishop Backs Removing Gay Liturgist Who Married Partner LifeSiteNews reported Thursday that Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis backed the removal of parish liturgist Jamie Moore after “marrying” his partner on September 20 in strict violation of the Catholic…Continue Reading

State Medical Board Lets Clinic Get Away With Killing Woman in Botched Abortion

The State Medical Board of Ohio has stunned pro-life supporters by dropping all complaints related to the death of abortion patient Lakisha Wilson. Those who filed complaints seeking an investigation into Wilson’s death at Preterm, a Cleveland abortion facility, have…Continue Reading

Former Crystal Cathedral Undergoing Catholic Makeover

(CNA/EWTN News) – “Through this innovative design process an insightful plan has emerged that will establish Christ Cathedral as a place for involvement in the sacraments, a place to hear the Word of God proclaimed and a place for personal…Continue Reading

True Mercy and the Indissolubility of Marriage

September 25, 2014 In his foreword to a new book, Cardinal George Pell argues that “one cannot maintain the indissolubility of marriage by allowing the ‘remarried’ to receive Holy Communion.” Cardinal George Pell The following appears as the foreword to…Continue Reading

Professor Douglas Kries on Cupich

Well, this is interesting.  Professor Douglas Kries at Gonzaga University in Spokane gives his assessment of Bishop Blase Cupich, the Spokane Bishop tapped to head the Chicago Archdiocese: Bishop White Seminary at Gonzaga, which was nothing short of an extraordinary…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope At Santa Marta: The Angels Defend Us

pope532

(Vatican Radio) The angels battle Satan for the destiny of mankind and win.  They defend and custody  the greatest mystery of the Church, God-made-Man.  Even though in Satan often presents “humanistic explanations” for his attacks on mankind.  This was the focus of Pope Francis homily at Mass Monday morning at Casa Santa Marta, marking the Feast of the Holy Archangels…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Synod Prayer To Holy Family

pope531

      _________________(Vatican Radio) Sunday, 28 September is to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 219 October to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. The Holy See on Saturday released a prayer guide,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Says… Media Are Hijacking Synod On The Family

By ANN SCHNEIBLE VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) — The upcoming Synod on the Family has undergone an attempted hijacking by some media sources, which are fueling expectations that impossible changes will be made to Church doctrine, said the head of the Church’s highest court. “I don’t think you have to be brilliant to see that…Continue Reading

Mistakes Of The Past Are Back

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if the American invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction? What if whatever weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein once had were sold to him in the 1980s by American arms dealers with the express permission of the U.S. government? What if he no longer…Continue Reading

Is Burger King An Economic Patriot?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.” Jefferson’s brutal verdict comes to mind in the fierce debate over inversions, those decisions by U.S. companies to buy foreign firms to move their headquarters abroad…Continue Reading

How The Eastern Orthodox Misunderstand Catholic Marian Doctrine

By JAMES LIKOUDIS It is not only Protestants who seriously misunderstand the Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church. Surprisingly, various Eastern Orthodox who have traditionally manifested a deep and devout veneration of the Theotokos (Mother of God) are seen to deviate from their own ancient traditions. Thus one finds astonishing the views of Archbishop John…Continue Reading

Where Do We Begin?

By DONALD DeMARCO It often happens that the statement of a perceptive writer becomes more true many years after he originally framed it. Such is the case with George Orwell. The author of 1984, which he penned in 1948, stated: “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Reparation For Black Mass . . . “The Chaotic Forces Of Evil Are Very Real”

By MOST REV. PAUL COAKLEY (Editor’s Note: The black mass took place as scheduled Sunday, September 21 in Oklahoma City’s Civic Center. Various news outlets reported that hundreds protested against the black mass while only dozens attended it. Below we reprint Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley’s September 18 statement, followed by his homily at the holy hour held shortly before…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . God Does Not Come Through The Computer

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Virtual reality can never serve as “parish replacement therapy” for “Catholics on leave.” Many believers remain alienated as a result of personal choices from the life of the Church. Some of them have been known to post about their frustrations on Facebook, writing such things as, “Continue to wait for answers…” God, however, does not…Continue Reading

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or…Supernatural? The Biblical Foundations Of Celibacy: Summing Up

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 MThe Catholic priesthood is God’s holy calling (2 Tim. 1:5-9) to some men to follow Jesus’ footsteps more closely (St. Augustine). The priest is called to be an angel of the Lord, always keeping His Law in his mouth (Mal. 2:7). A truly celibate priest is one who is a real man, who…Continue Reading

Catechism Of the Catholic Church: Prologue

By Don Fier “Father, . . . this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). This Scripture verse, the opening words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), succinctly and beautifully expresses its very purpose. The CCC’s first paragraph goes on to expand on…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. What do you know about the Concordant Literal Version of the Bible? — G.P., Florida. A. It is published by the Concordant Publishing Concern in Almont, Mich., which describes itself as “a nondenominational, nonprofit association founded in 1909 for the purpose of disseminating the facts and truths of the ancient manuscripts of the Scriptures.” The company’s website says that…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower

By CAROLE BRESLIN As you drive into Lisieux, France, from Caen on highway D613, you can see clearly the Basilica of Lisieux — it dominates the landscape rising high above the hills and other buildings. A little to the north is the cathedral where Therese received her sacraments and where her family dedicated an altar. A little farther north is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Saints Cosmas And Damian

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the last book of the Old Testament, 2 Maccabees, we read of the mother who stood by her seven sons, encouraging them to hold true to the law of their fathers and not give in to the attempts of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to get them to abandon their faith by eating the flesh of a swine…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading