INSIGHTS
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Ann Frailey

Ann Frailey is a widow and homeschooling mother of eight. She lives in rural Illinois.

Posted 10/31/14 at 7:57 AM | Ann Frailey

Commercialism

This is the third post on the topic: Isms, Addictions & Culture…

Commercialism, like capitalism, puts profit and acquisition as the highest good. Profit can be defined in terms of wealth, ownership, and power to influence your environment. The obsession here is to define oneself through the acquisition of stuff. There are people who will never be Wall Street overlords or have plush bank accounts, but they spend an inordinate amount of their creative energy thinking and maneuvering to “get stuff” – cars, houses, furniture, jewelry, clothes, toys, gadgets. By their obsessions, “commercial-orientated” people are forced to ignore the reality of the poor in need of basics like food and clean water. Who feels comfortable indulging particular tastes when others are in need of basic calories? Commercialism is another form of slavery where the ownership of goods becomes the main purpose of life – as if goods are the source of happiness. Since most goods are made by people – it is a hidden form of humanism. We can make ourselves happiest seeking our own personal interests first. Ultimately the lived creed is: “Acquiring stuff makes me happy (at least temporarily) and my happiness is everything.” FULL POST

Posted 10/29/14 at 7:45 AM | Ann Frailey

Secularism

In a continuation of my post on Monday, Isms, Addictions and Culture, I am reflecting on the dangers facing our culture today. Last time I considered the concept of Humanism. Today I am considering the dangers of Secularism…

Secularism tries to separate government operations from religious influences. While this makes a great deal of sense to some degree, there are aspects of government which must be considered in light of morality and morality is very often informed by religious doctrine and personal faith convictions. There is no way to completely separate the two anymore than we can separate our hearts from our brains. In our society today, we are bending toward government rights without the involvement of religious convictions. Notice how many time citizens have voted for a particular state policy and then been over ruled by local, state, or national judges. If people are not allowed to inform the nation through their religious convictions then we slide right into humanism. Once people accept that we do not have the right to shape our laws by our religious convictions, we are no longer a free country. There has been no active overthrow of our rights as citizens, we have simply allowed them to be taken out of our hands. We may feel badly about this, but we fear the consequences of confrontation, so we acquiesce. We insist that we have religious convictions, but we can’t help living in a society which no longer reflects them. FULL POST

Posted 10/27/14 at 7:58 AM | Ann Frailey

Isms, Addictions & Culture

I started to write this blog and realized that it was waaaay too long. There is a lot to cover so I have broken it up into parts. I post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday so if you are interested, you can follow along and see where this particular adventure takes you…

I once heard someone justify a particularly blatant case of infidelity with the words: “Well, I believe God wants me to be happy.” I remember thinking, “At any cost?” I suppose the response would have run something like, “Yeah, after all, He died for me.” So He did. But the reasoning was off. In recently reading a book about the life of Dietrich Von Hildebrand who opposed two versions of wrong thinking known as Fascism and Socialism, I suspect he would have been equally at odds with some of the wrong thinking in our society today which do grave disservice to our nation and our world as a whole.

Some of the isms and addictions which have taken a hold of our culture might be headed under such titles as Humanism, Secularism, Commercialism, and Voyeurism.

Humanism is to make humanity God and to believe that the highest good is achieved through humanity’s willing it. In other words, we are capable of making Heaven on earth if only we all got down to business and everyone acts nice. This seems like a passive version of the thinking that led Nazi Germany to think that Aryans could, and should, take over the world and that leaders of nations know what’s best for everyone. The individual good is subservient to the collective. If that sounds scary – it should. Humanity, even at its best, does not reach the heights that God’s revelation and grace can offer us. Eventually humanists get sick of waiting for everyone to toe the line and passive measures are abandoned. Humanists tend to lose their sense of humanity when playing God. We have some noted humanists in the persons of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking. Many universities and even high schools and elementary schools are largely staffed by humanists and our government today is led by humanist philosophies. Humanists tend to plead that they have humanity’s greatest good in mind, but they forget, we are only human after all. It take a God to know what is best for us.

Posted 10/22/14 at 8:46 AM | Ann Frailey

Eat to Live, Never Live to Eat

Food is big business in our society. But there are some things I have to keep reminding myself about food…

1) Something had to die so that I would live. With all the disconnect between people and their food – there are kids growing up today who actually believe that food comes from a store as if it materialized there. Food does not come from a store any more than a baby comes from a hospital. Food just stops off in transit. Understanding the origins of my food helps me to appreciate it and use it to good effect.

2) It takes a great deal of energy to make food, transport it, package it and generally make it look like it didn’t come out of the ground or off the side of a cow/pig/hen…

3) Food is meant to make me strong and healthy. It does not have the natural ability to take away heart ache, sooth a guilty conscience, repair lax morals, make a person sexy, elevate our IQ or about 99% of the things advertisers would have me believe.

4) Bad food choices don’t care about my needs. They just make me feel lousy, increase my chances of getting diabetes and other health problems, and often times make me look as bad as I feel. FULL POST

Posted 10/20/14 at 8:01 AM | Ann Frailey

Mission Fields

It used to be that Christians who wanted to share their faith would go out into the larger world to tell the good news and share scripture, teachings, and traditions of their church. But now the very term Christian seems to turn some people off and the minute you mention faith, beliefs, church, or God you face an icy stare. If you look closely at the person’s life – if that is even a possibility – you can usually get a glimpse as to why that frozen wall is there. After nearly fifty years of being a Christian, and many of those years believing that my faith was the best thing about me, I have discovered that I cannot approach people with a package that they need to unwrap. Too much hurt, misinformation, and downright lies have been embedded in too many hearts to simply gush forth the joy of your faith and expect anyone to share that enthusiasm.

I have not the slightest interest, and even less ability, to define why things are in the spiritually poverty stricken state they are in now. What I do know is that compassion and sincere interest are very good ways to express faith in a language that many people can understand. I do not believe that cowardice or a watered down version of truth is the only alternative to gentle faith. In fact, I sincerely believe in profound faith – but it must be profoundly lived by the very person professing it. There is no good done in loutishly demanding that everyone wear hair shirts and subscribe to particular tenants. But it is rather useful to share exactly what Christ shared – life and love. As St. Frances once said, “Preach always, when necessary, use words.” FULL POST

Posted 10/17/14 at 7:50 AM | Ann Frailey

Writing as Reflection

Writing is an opportunity for me to think about my life, the larger world, and the issues of our times. Reflecting is akin to pondering and one of the women I admire most in the world was know for doing just that. Mary, the Mother of God, must have pondered many things in her heart. Her fiat was a strength which stemmed from God’s grace and her ability to ponder, reflect ,and act accordingly. For me,there are few important steps that make the difference between fruitful pondering and humdrum daydreaming.

1) Though my life is often a mad rush from one to-do adventure to another, there are times when I give myself permission to simply stop. Stopping the mad rush through the house, as well as in my head, is the first step to lowering my chance of sudden heart attack and – as an added bonus – healthy pondering.

2) There is a transition time between getting off the merry-go-around and the clarity of thought that allows real pondering. Again, I have to grant myself permission to take the space & quiet time necessary to think freely and be released from the rush. Yes, even when kids are calling – hopefully not frantically. FULL POST

Posted 10/15/14 at 8:03 AM | Ann Frailey

Simple Joy

There are a lot of ways to have fun, but I have found our most exciting, fun times happen when we are working together. Last week we had a chance to help pick apples at a neighbor’s farm and then, since we were such good workers, we got to go pick some pumpkins and squash. It was a bright sunny autumn day and the exercise of working out in the fresh air was invigorating. As we drove home with a car loaded with fresh apples, pumpkins, and squash, there was a gorgeous harvest moon glowing over the horizon – so spectacular it was enough to take your breath away. That day, and those memories, the kids will carry with them forever. I doubt there are many movie or party experiences that will last the wear and tear of time as well.

Over the weekend, we got together and peeled the many baskets of apples and cut them up and canned them. It took all Saturday, but once again, the joy of talking together, sharing thoughts and laughing at silly absurdities, made our time together a treasure. We now have 24 jars of cinnamon-apples which will last us through the winter, providing yet another joy in the form of hot apple pies on cold, snowy days, but also the joy of shared memories. FULL POST

Posted 10/13/14 at 8:02 AM | Ann Frailey

The Cost of Losing Christ

There seems to be a prevailing argument that the world would be just as well off without Christianity – that the best in humanity will save us from the worst in humanity. Yet, if you have spent much time studying history, you will quickly realize that humanity has failed to make Heaven on earth every single time we’ve tried. But just for the sake of argument, l’d like to consider some of the things we lose when we abandon our faith in Christ.

1) Without Christ’s vision of sacrificial love, the earliest Judaic law (also known as the Ten Commandments) appears to be little more than a series of harsh impositions that can be twisted into Pharisaic, mind numbing, heart stopping prisons. Only in light of Christ’s definitive love do the Ten Commandments become encounters with something that ennobles and raises us up toward an ideal. If God isn’t God – no one is – or everyone is.

2) Christ’s example of perfect love, insisting that we love even our enemies, draws us toward a supernatural reality far above the natural give and take of secular encounters. A God without love is a God without mercy. FULL POST

Posted 10/10/14 at 7:43 AM | Ann Frailey

What Makes Heroes So Heroic?

1) In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, readers encounter characters that remind us of the best in ourselves. Yet none of the characters are without flaws. They all struggle, but it is in their very struggle to overcome their weaker selves that true heroism is born. Think about Aragorn, Frodo, Bilbo, Sam, Gandalf, Legolas, Faramir, Eowyn, or any of the other heroic characters in The Lord of the Rings as you read and see if you can’t identify with them in some measure.

2) Heroes believe in something beyond themselves and their belief leads to conviction and conviction draws them into action. For me personally, it was my belief that my children were pure gifts from God that led me to consider their welfare over my convenience and decide to home school. For over twelve years that faith has led my family down a winding path of exploration and learning which I would not change for all the gold in a dragon’s lair. FULL POST

Posted 10/8/14 at 7:35 AM | Ann Frailey

Compassion vs Personal Safety?

I recently read an article and viewed the accompanying picture which will haunt me for some time. It was about one of the Ebola victims and how after she had died her young daughter was left crying, alone, in their yard and the neighbors did not want to approach for fear of contracting the deadly illness. I do not know all the details, but I can easily imagine the scene and I suspect that this is not an isolated scenario.

I have been in situations where I was caught off guard and personal safety was thrown into question and sticking my neck out to help another person seemed like a dangerous idea. I remember that I was never proud of my fear. Yet I cannot fault people for not wanting to take the risk of spreading a deadly and contagious disease.

What I do think is important when discussing these matters with my children, one of whom is presently in a nursing class, is that we never forget our calling to be more than prudent, but to be compassionate – even in our prudence. Sometimes I have a tendency to see things in black and white – as if there are really only two clearly defined choices when, in fact, if I stopped to think a moment, there might be many creative ways of addressing a serious problem without sacrificing decency and compassion. Fear tends to shut off our brains and we react without proper thought. FULL POST

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