Monthly Archives: July 2012


Having been an editor on tight deadlines who was once handed a 2,500-word story 20 minutes before the newspaper’s deadline and a church musician playing for Masses with the bishop present, I’m accustomed to high pressure situations.

But that was nothing compared to this. I was scared to move. One wrong move, and disaster could ensue.

I am never holding a newborn again.

I dropped in on my friends who recently had their first child, the first child in my circle of close friends. Headed in the front door. Hugged the happy parents. Stepped inside the living room.

Then the dad brought me the baby, all of not quite three weeks old. I haven’t held an infant in a very, very long time, so it wasn’t a natural feeling. I couldn’t quote figure out how to set my arms to receive the handoff, but the dad calmly got the little guy in my arms.

Not an accurate image of their baby. They’ve chosen for now not to post baby pics to social media or otherwise, and I’m respecting that. So, instead, here’s a photo of Maggie’s archnemesis, Baby Gerald.

Oh, boy. Now I’m standing here with a child that cannot hold up his head or, say, control his muscles. Also, tripping or otherwise dropping the baby would be very, very bad. “Uncle Krummhorn” was in big trouble. This is the part where you hope everyone’s insurance is paid up: the baby’s, for if I drop him, and me, for when his father kills me.

I took a deep breath. The baby, who was sleeping, didn’t notice. And slowly, ever so slowly, I inched over to their couch.

“Hi, little guy,” I said, pained-smiling at him while he didn’t notice. “Let me tell you what your parents are really like.” That’s right, I thought. Those meanies, entrusting this little guy to my clumsy care. That’s what they’re like.

Meanwhile, they laughed at my remark. After an arduous half-minute, 12-foot trek, which included going around the couch, I got to the couch and sat down in perhaps the slowest sitting motion I’ve ever done. The little guy kept sleeping. The dad took pictures as I smiled and cradled the baby.

And I exhaled a major sigh of relief and held him for a few more minutes, chatting with his mom and dad, until the dad took him back, seconds before a diaper change was in order. Final score: Zero dropped babies. One much calmer “uncle.” Whew. Thank goodness.

Anyway, while I have a second, here’s what your parents are really like, little guy. (Keep this in mind when you hit the Terrible Twos and question everything you’ve ever learned.) Your mom and dad are among the best folks I’ve ever known. If anyone has a chance of raising kids right, it’s those two. And I hope as you grow up, you’ll understand how blessed you really are.


7 quick takes Friday: Planning ahead is the key

First time doing this. How badly can I mess it up?

— 1 —

I think I know already what I want to play for Palm Sunday Mass next year. I’m thinking “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” a cappella at offertory and “Panis Angelicus” (the traditional, not the Franck, which I’m not a giant fan of), also a cappella, at Communion. And “Jesus, Remember Me” for recessional, too. I also know what I want to do for Thanksgiving Mass (which is bilingual) and the Feast of the Presentation two years from now, when it falls on a Sunday. I don’t pick the hymns I play at my main parish, but at least I can suggest this stuff and it’s likely to happen.

— 2 —

If all goes well, I will catch three baseball games during my vacation next month. Plus I think I’ll be visiting my friend who was recently ordained a Lutheran minister. He’s a good guy. Nothing like a little bit of friendly Lutheran-Catholic teasing.

— 3 —

Why aren’t there more Catholic organists blogging? Serious question. Google isn’t helping me find other organists. On the other hand, I wind up being a decent help for at least some folks, because I have a perspective on certain parts of the organisting biz and based on my data from WordPress, it looks like people are looking for that sort of information. Then again, maybe I should corner the market on blogging Catholic organists. OK, Catholic organists. None of y’all blog. Leave it to moi.

— 4 —

The rest of the family was gone for a chunk of this week, so I had to walk Scarlet. I had barely walked her since a German shepherd attacked her in December (I wouldn’t do it, because I was the one walking her during the attack and it was more upsetting than I care to admit), so it took a little bit of readjustment to get back into walking. She hasn’t been attacked, at least, this time.

Scarlet, would you like something? Fine, fine, I’ll walk you.

— 5 —

Actually, walking Scarlet was kind of like tempting fate, because the parents were out of town when Scarlet was attacked, so I had to take her to the vet and pay the $600 to have her repaired. Another time when the parents were out of town, my bike broke under me, then my arm broke under me. Yet I successfully got on the bike twice while they were gone.

— 6 —

The folks at English Mass at my main parish are more traditionally minded, but I’m going to gently push them a little bit over the next few months by getting some Spirit & Song stuff (which I mostly don’t like) that snuck into our hymnal. Like I said, I mostly don’t like Spirit & Song, but we’re going to try this hymn in a couple weeks:

And this hymn in September or so (skip ahead to 2:07 or so to avert the annoying interview part of the program):

You will note the composers played their stuff on guitar. I ain’t. I’m playing these on organ, because the publishers were smart enough to put in an accompaniment that would work for organ. (And if they hadn’t, I either would have had to make one up myself or just skip out on the hymns.)

— 7 —

It’s the little things in life, isn’t it? We had going-away drinks for coworkers Monday. Another coworker has a birthday gathering today. And another has a birthday gathering next week, though not on a work day, so I’ll be driving in for it. Just hanging out, chatting and sharing drinks. Relatively inexpensive, but also worth it.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Handy organist tip #1

A smartphone makes an excellent paperweight when it’s superhot out and the choir has turned on the industrial fan in the choir loft, because the air conditioning isn’t really effective in a choir loft.

Can’t have it on during Mass, of course, but at least it has other uses than Internet, phone, map, etc.

Yes, without the smartphone, I would have had a horrible time keeping the pages set. Still have to work out what to do when there are page turns, though.

Don’t call me, St. Dymphna; I’ll call you

So I got to church and found this medal on top of my pay stub (which was on the organ bench):


OK, sorry, it’s not a good picture, but this puppy has really, really tiny type. I tried. Photography isn’t my strong suit.

Neat! A religious medal. Always a good thing. Clearly, someone’s been thinking of me. Here’s a nice little gift. Say, who is St. Dymphna, anyway? I bet she’s a patron of organists or something. To Google on the smartphone!

Oh, drat.

OK, who put this on my pay stub? She’s the patron of those with mental illness!? What, exactly, is the mysterious person who put this on my stub saying about me? Do they not like me or something? What did I do? Why do they presume that I suffer from mental illness (as far as I know, I don’t)?

Perhaps I overreact sometimes.

After all, almost everyone, myself included, has friends and/or family who suffer from some sort of mental illness. Mental illness and drug addiction took the life of my next door neighbor’s son. And, doubtless, there are people I know who suffer in silence, and I will never know their suffering.

So I stopped myself from grousing too much. And I said a prayer to God that through the intercession of St. Dymphna, those with mental illness would find healing in mind, body and soul*. I still think this medal is better off with someone else, but as long as I have it, it’s a useful reminder that I’m better off thinking of others before myself.

*I phrased this carefully to try to accurately state the Catholic position on praying to saints. Just in case I didn’t do it right, an explanation of the Church’s teaching is here.

1flesh vs. the dominant paradigm

I’m watching with some interest the irritation that has arisen in some circles over 1flesh, a site with an anti-contraception message that just happens to be consistent with the Church’s teaching on artificial birth control but packages it in more of a secular, flashy package. For example:

If you click the picture, you’ll get the reference.

There are also case studies of how women gave up birth control they were using for medical (non-contraceptive) reasons and couples who found that using natural family planning bolstered their marriage. And there are a series of arguments against the use of birth control for reasons such as women’s health and the environment.

Let’s see how this message is being accepted, shall we? Here’s one example:

Hmmmm. This wasn’t the only reaction of revulsion, but at least it was the most honest, though Catholics aren’t, of course, fundamentalist, so let’s send our friendly detractor to the library for some research. Flame wars, indeed, broke out on 1flesh’s Facebook page, with a few people claiming they appealed to Facebook to get the site shut down. So perhaps this message isn’t being received well by some.

The detractors immediately claimed that 1flesh’s information was wrong, misleading, and/or harmful. Since I’m not a public health expert and I don’t have hours to dig through all the references, I won’t try to evaluate 1flesh’s claims, nor their detractors’ claims, though if 1flesh is using any faulty information, they should fix it. (Because, duh.) What I’m more interested in, I think, is the idea of trying to make inroads against the dominant line of secular logic about sexuality. (Pardon as I put my journalist/analyst hat on.)

There, that’s better.

I’m not surprised that there was so much complaining, given that birth control is widely accepted in society. It’s tough to speak out against the dominant paradigm, in which sex is healthy outside of marriage–“when you’re ready”–and the benefits of birth control, either inside or outside of marriage, vastly outweigh the possible risks. And there’s a lot at stake here, if you think about it. Consider the reaction already. There’s a concerted effort to attempt to marginalize 1flesh and discredit it before it even gets off the ground, aided by more mainstream sites such as Jezebel (1flesh responded here). Many of these folks sincerely believe that 1flesh is harmful.

Indeed, detractors probably sense that they need to take the attack — and perhaps have just that little bit of fear that they might be wrong, because the site is challenging what they believed to be, essentially, dogma on this issue, and no one likes getting what they believe challenged. And if 1flesh is right, so’s the Catholic Church, as the site is grounded in Church teachings, though it uses secular arguments. The Church’s position on sexuality is consistent (all sexual acts must be “open to life” and between a married couple, and all of its teachings on sexuality flow from this principle), so if the Church is right on birth control (because the sex wouldn’t be open to life) and it can be demonstrated by science and reason, it strengthens the Church’s arguments on other topics such as homosexuality and cohabitation. Better for the detractors to fire away now to keep the Church and its followers from gaining ground on these other issues.

So let’s keep an eye on this. 1flesh runs the risk of flaming out quickly, either by its own fault or with the help of its detractors. But the message that 1flesh has needs to get out. They’ve made mistakes early (now they’re collecting medical professionals who support their mission? Should have been done before the site launched), but it’s a more positive message than its detractors are willing to acknowledge. In the end, I think the message is one that should be out there. If others disagree, c’est la vie. I know plenty of folks who will discount 1flesh’s message out of hand. But it needs a chance to be heard.

For a longer explanation of the Church’s teaching on birth control, click here