The Rational Bible: Exodus

Just started reading my first Dennis Prager book: The Rational Bible: Exodus. A couple quotes really stuck out to me:

Fear of God—when that God is the moral God of the Torah, the God of the Ten Commandments, the God Who commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself”—is necessary to make a society of moral individuals. Of course, there are moral atheists, just as there were moral pagans, and moral individuals in even the worst cultures. But you cannot build a good world with a handful of individuals who happen to be good people. You need a universal moral code from a universal God Who is the source of that moral code, and this God must judge all people accordingly.

Consequently, “fear of God” is as inevitable as it is necessary. If God judges how moral we are, of course there will be fear of Him—just as there is of a human judge. Conversely, if God does not judge people, there is no reason to fear Him.

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Really good book so far; in the first chapter alone, there have been several “a-ha!” moments aiding my understanding of the history of the Jewish people and the Bible. Recommended.

MyFitnessPal (Premium) vs. The No S Diet

I needed to lose 10 pounds and tried out MyFitnessPal again, after several years of not using it.  This time, I tried the Premium trial, so I’m getting all the features and stats.

I’m reminded of why I quit using MyFitnessPal years ago.  If you’re not eating the same thing every day, MyFitnessPal is a time sink.  Expect to spend at least 5 minutes before or after every meal, scanning bar codes and weighing foods on the kitchen scale.  Then you’re worrying about what combo of nutrients you need or whether you’re going to exceed your carb/fat/protein quotas for the day/week.

As an aside, I’m reminded of Luke 12:22-23, [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”  Of course, if you continue reading, you’ll see Jesus is talking about finding food to eat at all, and trusting God to provide nourishment, rather than worrying about where your next meal will come from.

But I digress.  If you want to lose weight, or just maintain your ideal weight, you need something easy to stick with. Something that doesn’t require you to become a “full time calorie accountant.”  The free No S Diet, created by Reinhard Engels, does just this.  The whole diet is explained in one sentence: No snacks, sweets, or seconds, except on days that start with S.  That’s it!

You don’t need to buy anything to get started with it.  It’s not time consuming.  It’s easy to stick with.  No S really works.  It actually works a little too well – I lost 30 pounds the last time I used it, 15 pounds under what I wanted to be.  So I’m taking it easy this time.

I’m getting rid of MyFitnessPal again.  It’s neat to look at the stats, but Premium is not at all worth it at $50-$100+/year, at least for me.  If you really love counting calories though, it might work for you.

This time, I’m combining No S with aspects of the Shoku Iku Japanese food philosophy.  Basically, aim for 3-5 colors on every plate.  If you eat a heavy meal, balance it out with a light one the next time you eat.  Easy stuff.

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Poke Bowl

Working Hard or Hardly Working? Colossians 3:23, and the 7th Commandment

Many years ago, when I was young and working the second real job I had ever held, I bought a portable Zip drive so I could download files at work that were too large for my home Internet connection to handle.  My boss noticed the bright blue drive and asked why I had brought that in.  When I told him, he laughed at me disapprovingly.  He was disappointed in me, and rightfully so.  I felt ashamed, and learned a lesson. Like viewing non-work-related web sites during work hours at this particular company, it was not an appropriate use of work resources, and I should have known better.

One of the special graces Catholics have available is the ability to go to confession, contritely confess all of the sins you can remember, and be completely forgiven.

But how do you remember all the sins you committed?  Some people prepare for confession by going through The Ten Commandments and asking themselves whether they broke any of them.  The seventh commandment is “Thou shall not steal.”

My pastor told the congregation one day, “You may think you haven’t stolen anything, but what about stealing from your employer?  Taking office supplies is obvious theft, but did you know wasting time that your employer pays you for is a form of stealing too?”  This really hit home for me.

I don’t think there’s a person alive that has not looked at a non-work-related web site at work.  If you want to use some of your break time to take a peek at your email or the news, I don’t see a problem, and most bosses don’t either.  Many companies, especially on the west coast, even encourage non-work related activity at work, as long as you actually get your work done on time.

But if you’re extending your breaks or interrupting your work for hours to play games or read non-work related news, social media, or otherwise procrastinate on the real work you have to do, there’s a problem.

I knew one guy who watched Netflix when he should have been answering support tickets.  The result was predictable: customer unhappiness and increased stress on co-workers.  The customers that had written in expecting replies from him got delayed responses, and others on the team had to pick up the slack.  He was a knowledgeable and helpful worker when he wanted to be, but just didn’t have the right attitude.

Everyone has temptations to procrastinate sometimes.  When I get tempted, I try and bring to mind this verse:

“Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men …” – Colossians 3:23

Another way of saying this is, “Make sure you bust your butt, because you really work for the Lord.”

The average person puts in about 3 hours per day of actual productive work.  Be better than average.  Do your best.  I keep myself honest by tracking my time at work using a tool called RescueTime.  Here’s an example of RescueTime in action:

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I also motivate myself by trying to get my hardest task out of the way first, before anything else is done in the day.  This concept is called eating the frog.  Block out an hour of your time first thing in the morning and eat that frog.  You’ll feel great for the rest of the day because you got your hardest task out of the way.

The Differences Between Sex and Love

As part of our courtship, my fiancée and I are reading a book called Three to Get Married by the theologian Fulton J. Sheen.  It’s absolutely fascinating!  The best way we’ve found to digest it is in one-paragraph-a-day chunks, because like G.K. Chesterton, every sentence of Sheen’s writing is jam-packed with thought, best savored slowly to aid comprehension and understanding.

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Three to Get Married

We read each paragraph aloud to each other, then talk about our favorite parts.  Anything we’re having trouble understanding is discussed and worked out aloud.  (As an aside, we also use a variant of this technique when arguing, writing down the other’s points and reading them back to each other, to help ensure we’ve fully listened to and understood the other person.)

A three-paragraph excerpt from the first chapter, “The Differences Between Sex and Love”:

 Sex is one of the means God has instituted for the enrichment of personality.  It is a basic principle of philosophy that there is nothing in the mind that was not previously in the senses.  All of our knowledge comes from the body.  We have a body, St. Thomas tells us, because of the weakness of our intellect.  Just as the enrichment of the mind comes from the body and its senses, so the enrichment of love comes through the body and its sex.  As one can see a universe mirrored in a tear on a cheek, so in sex can be seen mirrored that wider world of love.  Loving monogamous marriage includes sex; but sex, in the contemporary use of the term, does not imply either marriage or monogamy.

Every woman instinctively recognizes the difference between the two, but man comes to understand it more slowly through reason and prayer.  Man is driven by pleasure; woman by the meaning of pleasure.  She sees pleasure more as a means to an end, namely, the prolongation of love both in herself and in her child.  Like Mary at the Annunciation, she accepts the love that is presented to her by marriage, it comes indirectly from God through a man.  But in both instances, there is an acceptance, a surrender, a Fiat: “Let it be unto me according to they word” (Luke 1:28).  The pagan woman who has not consciously thought of God is actually half woman and half dream; the woman who sees love as a reflection of the Trinity is half woman and half Spirit, and she waits upon the creative work of God within her body.  Patience thus becomes bound up with her acceptance.  Woman accepts the exigencies of love, as the farmer accepts the exigencies of nature, and waits, after the sowing of the seed, the harvest of autumn.

But when sex is divorced from love there is a feeling that one has been stopped at the vestibule of the castle of pleasure; that the heart has been denied the city after crossing the bridge.  Sadness and melancholy result from such a frustration of destiny, for it is the nature of man to be sad when he is pulled outside himself, or exteriorized, without getting any nearer his goal.  There is a closer correlation between mental instability and the animal view of sex than many suspect.  Happiness consists in interiority of the spirit, namely, the development of personality in relationship to a heavenly destiny.  He who has no purpose in life is unhappy; he who exteriorizes his life and is dominated, or subjugated, by what is outside himself, or spends his energy on the external without understanding its mystery, is unhappy to the point of melancholy.  There is the feeling of being hungry after having eaten or of being disgusted with food, because it has nourished not the body, in the case of an individual, or another body, in the case of marriage.  In the woman, this sadness is due to the humiliation of realizing that, where marriage is only sex, her role could be fulfilled by any other woman; there is nothing personal, incommunicable, and therefore nothing dignified.  Summoned by her God-implanted nature to be ushered into the mysteries of life, which have their source in God, she is condemned to remain on the threshold as a tool or an instrument of pleasure alone and not as a companion of love.  Two glasses that are empty cannot fill up one another.  There must be a fountain of water outside the glasses, in order that they may have communion with one another.  It takes three to make love.

 

Catholic Holy Days of Obligation for 2016

I created a Catholic Holy Days of Obligation calendar for the year 2016, which you can download at:

Catholic Holy Days of Obligation calendar for 2016 (.ICS file, suitable for importing into iCal or Outlook).

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It’s based on About.com’s list of Holy Days of Obligation by Scott P. Richert.  Again this year, it also includes embedded links, so you can read more about each Holy Day.  And it includes reminders the day prior to each event.  Once again this year, I used Maru’s iCal event maker to create the calendar in about 10 minutes.  Really quick and easy!  If you find any errors, please let me know.

Catholic Holy Days of Obligation Calendar 2015

Update: 2016 Calendar Now Out!

I created a Catholic Holy Days of Obligation calendar for the year 2015, which you can download at:

Catholic Holy Days of Obligation calendar for 2015 (.ICS file, suitable for importing into iCal or Outlook).

holydaysobligation.jpeg

It’s based on About.com’s list of Holy Days of Obligation by Scott P. Richert.  Again this year, it also includes embedded links, so you can read more about each Holy Day.  And it includes reminders the day prior to each event.  This year, I used Maru’s iCal event maker to create the calendar in about 10 minutes.  Really quick and easy!  If you find any errors, please let me know.

Catholic Holy Days of Obligation Calendar 2014

Update: 2015 Calendar is out!

I made a Catholic Holy Days of Obligation calendar for the year 2014, which you can download at:

Catholic Holy Days of Obligation calendar for 2014 (.ICS file, suitable for importing into iCal or Outlook).

holydaysobligation.jpeg

It’s based on About.com’s list of Holy Days of Obligation by Scott P. Richert.  Again this year, it also includes embedded links, so you can read more about each Holy Day.  If you find any errors, please let me know.