Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I inadvertantly discovered the secret to quieting down the (multitudinous, mutinous) seventh grade class; I hinted that we might watch an educational movie later on, but only if they were good. Instantly, they stopped talking, and listened attentively for the rest of the class.

Well, shit. From now on I'm going to videotape myself lecturing on a given topic, and then just show the video instead of trying to give the lecture in real life. They'll be riveted I tell you. RIVETED.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I finally found a CD with simple, beautiful renditions of "Pange Lingua Gloriosi," "Ubi Caritas," "Regina Caeli," and so forth. Now I can teach my Latin students some Gregorian chant without having them laugh at my tonedeaf attempts at "Parce Domine." Thirteen year olds are harsh.

The name of the cd, in case you have similar objectives, is O Lux Beatissima, put out by Cantores in Ecclesia. 35 tracks, 10 bucks on iTunes...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Catholicism / popular culture

That's just what the priesthood needs. MORE TECHNO.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Seriously. There is never less work...just less efficiently accomplished work.

In other news, middle schoolers are something else together. This is a scene which I have seen reenacted more than once in our fair school's corridors:

Middle school girl, walking down the hall, with a folded piece of 8 1/2 by 11 notebook paper clutched to her bosom. Middle school boy runs up, exclaims "OOooooOOOOoo, what's that???" Middle school girl proclaims that it is a SECRET. Boy teases. Girl feigns(?) aggravation.

Ah, young love. You can just see the hormones percolating.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I was going to do laundry this evening; instead, I ended up shooting the shit with some of my fellow teachers. I had forgotten how fun it is to have a proper, boozy, Catholic round of debating. When I'm drinking a beer, and carrying on a shouting match across the room, I feel in touch with my heritage. Catholics have been drinking beer and shouting at each other for millenia, man.

Also, it isn't a Catholic party till someone starts one of the following:

"Well, before Vatican II..."

"What I really think of the Tridentine/Novus Ordo Mass is..."

I'm sure there are other incendiaries, but I just can't think of them presently. Any other ideas?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


warning: contains homestarrunner

Often, I run into families I teach while out running errands. I'm glad that I didn't today; because then, I would have had to explain why the sole contents of my grocery cart were a twelve pack of beer and a giant bag of Tootsie Pops.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Yet another fun feature of being a religion teacher: the kids think that you are some sort of arbiter of Divine Justice. Every class, it seems, a student will start a long anecdote beginning with "Miss P, this one time I blah blah blah..." and ending with "so, is that a mortal sin?"

The next time some kid tries that, I'm going to stare at them silently, and then say, in a hushed, solemn tone of voice: "Yes. Yes it is."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Last week, in my sixth grade religion class, I had the kids dramatize various Biblical covenants; between God and Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Israel. Oddly enough, in all four mixed gender groups, a girl got to play God. The boys mostly got to be sacrificial animals and donkeys. There's some moral in this, but I think I'll just assign roles next time so that the boys get to say more than "heehaw!"

Saturday, September 10, 2005

travel log III: Germany (pt I)

It was on the bus from Paris to Lourdes (France), and from there to Bohn (Germany) that the annoying nature of the group we were travelling with became revealed (they were a youth group from the East Coast, with most of the group leaders in some way affiliated with Regnum Christi). The tour bus had a microphone, you see; and the group leaders co-opted the mike in order to lead the entire group in song after song (of the Christian or quasi-Christian variety), or, worse still, enforce MANDATORY SHARING TIME, where members of the group would step up to the mike and share long, rambling monologues about "their Lourdes experience," or what have you. The lack of sleep and cramped bus conditions, combined with the malodorous fumes from the broken bus toilet, really strained my good humor on this occasion. If EVERYONE shares, it JUST ISN'T SPECIAL ANYMORE.

They tried to make me sing during mandatory karaoke time (this was, oh, about seven hours into the bus ride). I was about to step up and sing a little dittie by the Frogs called "Love Me Or Die, Bitch," but there were children aboard.

In Germany, we stayed in a small village outside of Bohn. The WYD participants in Germany were housed in hotels, hostels, gymnasiums, schools, and, in our case, in private homes; several families in the parish opened up their homes to tired, grubby Americans, Italians, and Africans from Seychelles. I had never even heard of Seychelles before this point, but apparently it's a series of islands near Madagascar with a primarily Catholic population. Who knew?

Anyway, I was lodged with a German couple in their seventies; they were very hospitable. I cannot say enough in praise of the beds we slept on---they were made of some sort of magical comfort producing foam. For breakfast, we were fed rolls, croissants, jam, cheese, ham, nutella, butter, and so forth, in prodigious quantities. I was pleased with the "everything should be eaten with butter" concept. There's a philosophy I can get behind. We couldn't really communicate with our hosts, since we spoke no German, and they spoke no English. Whenever we tried to speak German out of our handy internet-printed list of German/English phrases, they just looked at us funny. I suppose our pronunciation was off, and we were actually saying "Damn the goat," instead of "laundry room." Occasionally, certain cultural differences came to light. They were very concerned when we wore only flip flops to go outside. Apparently this is not a normal thing, outside of California. They began laughing at us, and kicking off their shoes, I imagine to indicate that we might as well go bare foot. Also, the German matriarch refused to let me leave the house with wet hair. I tried, but she physically propelled me into a small side room, handed me a hair dryer, and closed the door. So I dried my hair.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

When push comes to shove, and we face hardship or even starvation in the presence of strangers, I hope that we can follow the example of St. Maximilian Kolbe, and lead each other in singing hymns instead of screaming.

"No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?"

- Saint Maximilian Kolbe