Saturday 13th February 2016

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:

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading

Trump: Pope Francis ‘doesn’t understand’ America’s problems

Donald Trump dismissed Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday, arguing the Catholic leader is in the dark on America’s border crisis. “I think that the Pope is a very political person,” he said on Fox Business Network’s…Continue Reading

Washington state Republicans join Democrats to uphold transgender bathroom bill

OLYMPIA, Washington, February 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A bill to reverse a public accommodations law that allows transgender people to use opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms was blocked in the state Senate – in part thanks to three Republicans who…Continue Reading

‘Justice has been served’ – Bishop Conley on why he invited Bishop Finn to Lincoln

Lincoln, Neb., Feb 5, 2016 / 11:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln defended his decision to allow Bishop Robert Finn, former bishop of Kansas City, Mo., to take a position as chaplain of a community of…Continue Reading

Marco Rubio, David Daleiden; Chi-Town priest ‘outs’ himself

The young investigative journalist and pro-life activist David Daleiden – whom GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio recently defended – will present himself before Judge Brock Thomas in Houston on February 4. Peter Breen, special counsel for the Thomas More Society,…Continue Reading

Catholic Italy mobilises as conservatives mount last stand against same-sex unions

It has been 2,000 years since Romans gathered at the Circus Maximus to watch chariots roar around the racetrack, but a new battle was brought to the ancient site on Saturday . Clutching banners reading “We defend our children” and…Continue Reading

New documents prove Planned Parenthood profited from selling aborted body parts: pro-life group

HOUSTON, January 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-life organization has released documents that may show Planned Parenthood illegally profited from the sale of aborted babies’ body parts, furthering a Texas state investigation and possibly triggering a new grand jury in…Continue Reading

TRUMP’S SPOKESWOMAN MUST APOLOGIZE

Bill Donohue comments on a remark made by Donald Trump’s national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson: On December 18, 2011, Katrina Pierson sent the following tweet: “Just saw a commercial from Catholic Church stating that Catholic Church

Faithful Catholic Education Offers Understanding of True Freedom, Says Archbishop Lucas

Catholic education prepares students to live a life of faith, but also offers students a true understanding of God-given freedom in an environment in which they can grow in virtue, said Archbishop George Lucas of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb.,…Continue Reading

NFL star who refused to meet Obama over abortion gives powerful talk at March for Life

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – All the speakers at the 2016 March for Life play a pivotal role – but only one was regularly called an MVP. Matt Birk, the former center for the Minnesota Vikings and the…Continue Reading

2016 March for Life heats up blizzard-stricken Washington (PHOTOS)

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The blizzard snows are falling on the nation’s capital, layering the city in a blanket of frost that could be two to three feet thick by tomorrow morning. But for awhile this afternoon,…Continue Reading

SPECIAL REPORT: Planned Parenthood Offices Located Near Half of Catholic Colleges, Alarming Pro-Life Leaders

Half of all four-year, residential Catholic colleges in the U.S. are within five miles of Planned Parenthood facilities, a study by The Cardinal Newman Society has found. Catholic pro-life leaders warn that the close proximity of these Planned Parenthood centers…Continue Reading

81 percent of Americans support dramatically stronger pro-life reforms: Poll

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – An overwhelmingly majority – including two-thirds of self-described “pro-choice” Americans – would support greatly strengthening laws that protect the unborn, according to a new poll released this morning. In all, 81 percent of…Continue Reading

Newsmax

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 su
bscribe 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

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis in Mexico: discourse to bishops

popef101

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the Catholic Bishops of Mexico on Saturday, the first full day of his Apostolic visit to the country. Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks, in their official English translation. *** I am pleased to have this opportunity of meeting you the day after my arrival here in this beloved country, which, following in the footsteps of my predecessors, I also have come to visit.…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: speech to civil authorities and diplomats

popef100

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered an address to Mexican civil authorities and the Diplomatic Corps in Mexico on Saturday, the first full day of his Apostolic visit to the country. Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks, in their official English translation +++ I thank you, Mr President, for your words of welcome. I am happy to set foot on Mexican soil which holds a special place in the heart…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke . . .The Great Cardinal Speaks From Krakow

Today we jump back to the Great Cardinal, His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke’s visit to Krakow. The above video is from the Krakow lecture with questions, promoting his book Divine Love made flesh: The Holy Eucharist as the Sacrament of Charity which appeared in Polish. The sponsor of this promotional event and the publisher of the Polish version is Christiana Polonia. Original video see here. The lecture itself was in English so there was no…Continue Reading

INTERVIEW: Leader of US Bishops Expresses His Hopes for Pope’s Mexico Visit

Archbishop Kurtz Tells ZENIT That Welcome to Immigrants Will Enrich America, Its Church February 10, 2016 Deborah Castellano Lubov The president of the US bishops’ conference, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, says Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Mexico can bear many fruits, but in particular, his welcoming message to immigrants can enrich the whole of America and its Church. In an exclusive interview with ZENIT ahead of the Pope’s highly anticipated trip to Mexico, Feb. 12-18,…Continue Reading

Pope’s Angelus reflection: Trust in the word of the Lord

(Vatican Radio) Do not be afraid but trust in the word of the Lord: that was Pope Francis message to the crowds gathered in a windswept St Peter’s Square on Sunday for the recitation of the Angelus prayer. The Pope based his reflections on the Gospel reading which tells the story of Jesus calling his first disciples by Lake Galilee. After fishing all night without a catch, they are washing their nets when Jesus gets…Continue Reading

Death With Dignity: A Dangerous Pretense

death

By LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON Every life has value and is worthy of continuing, regardless of how old, infirmed, ill, or limited in future duration. Yet, today, an increasing number of states are empowering physicians to assist terminally ill people in committing suicide, so they can “die with dignity.” The movement, cloaked in an appealing euphemism,…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Says . . . Lent Is A Time Of Pruning And Reconciliation

By ELISE HARRIS VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) — In his Ash Wednesday homily, Pope Francis said that Lent is the perfect time to let go of selfish and indifferent attitudes, returning to God with the help of prayer, penance, and acts of charity. “Lent is a beneficial time of pruning from falsity, from worldliness, from…Continue Reading

Bloomberg Vs. Trump?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN The morning of the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump, being interviewed on Morning Joe, said that he would welcome his “friend” Michael Bloomberg into the presidential race. Which is probably the understatement of 2016. The three-term mayor of New York and media mogul whose fortune is estimated at $39 billion, making…Continue Reading

A Potpourri . . . To Be Is To Give, And Other Matters

By GEORGE A. KENDALL The most fundamental question for all of is: What are we for? What is life about? What is selfhood about? Are we here to aggrandize ourselves with things like power, wealth, brilliance? Or are we here to give ourselves? We think that by working to add to the self, we increase…Continue Reading

Blessed José Sanchez Del Rio… Miraculous Cure Of A Baby Leads To His Sainthood

MEXICO CITY (CNA/EWTN News) — The miraculous cure of a baby with brain damage through the intercession of Mexican martyr Blessed José Luis Sanchez del Rio has been approved by the Vatican, completing the final step for the teen’s path to sainthood. Pope Francis signed the decree January 21, verifying the inexplicable recovery of a…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Life Everlasting — Heaven

By DON FIER As we continue our examination of the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the Four Last Things — Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell — we recall from last week that at the exact instant man’s immortal soul separates from his body in death, it appears before Christ for the Particular Judgment. This definitive…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I understand that plenary indulgences are available during this Jubilee Year of Mercy if one passes through the “Holy Door of Mercy” in a Catholic cathedral and meets all the other conditions for an indulgence. But what if one has no opportunity to visit a cathedral? Can the plenary indulgence still be obtained? — P.D., via e-mail. A. Yes.…Continue Reading

Listening To Jesus

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday In Lent (YR C) Readings: Gen. 15:-12, 17-18 Phil. 3:1-4:1 Luke 9:28b-36 In the Gospel reading today the apostles were blessed to hear the voice of God speaking about His Son. The first part of the statement, that Jesus is the Son of God, is pretty easy for us to handle. The second part…Continue Reading

The Year Of Consecrated Life Ends . . . Answering God’s Call And Proclaiming His Mercy

By MOST REV. LEO O’REILLY KILMORE, Ireland (ZENIT) — Bishop Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore gave this homily on Sunday, January 31 to mark the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life. The year ended February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, and the World Day of Consecrated Life. Bishop O’Reilly told consecrated persons that they have been…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . Jesus Gave Witness In The Public Square

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “Seems to me that Jesus wants us to love our neighbors and leave the judging up to Him.” This is a typical response of many people when they encounter the Church and her members witnessing to their faith by speaking out on moral teachings in the public square. Christian witness in a visible, public way…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Miguel Febres Cordero Munoz

By CAROLE BRESLIN There have been many saints born in Europe who came to the Americas to convert the natives and work among immigrants. These included St. Isaac Jogues, St. Frances Cabrini, and St. Damien of Molokai, to name a few. There were few saints who were born in the Americas and then went to Europe and died there far…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Boleslava Maria Lament

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church observes the Church Unity Octave from January 18 through January 25. For each day of the octave, we pray for a different form of unity. For example, on January 18, the intention is for the return of separated Eastern Christians to communion with the Holy See. Another day the intention is for the restoration…Continue Reading