Prayer intentions
Please pray for the following people. And if you know someone who needs a prayer, by all means feel free to add as many names as you want.

April 25, 2007

Scientific American: Lethal injection probably not painless

An article at Scientific American titled Bad Drugs: Lethal Injection Does Not Work as Designed, states that a study was done recently "which found that if any of the doses [in the lethal injection cocktail] are off the recipient not only feels pain, but he or she also must suffer a slow death by the asphyxiation following total paralysis."

In the modern age of capital punishment, the guillotine was seen as perhaps the most humane because it was instantaneous, but was decried as being too bloody and barbaric.

Then there was hanging, which was not quite as quick but a lot cleaner. Nevertheless, hanging gave people the willies, watching the condemned move and jerk about as they died.

There was the firing squad, which depended on a sharpshooter's accuracy.

Then there was the electric chair, which began as a stunt by Thomas Edison, who was the main developer of direct current technology for home use, to discredit George Westinghouse and his superior alternating current theories as being too dangerous for use by the average consumer. A few botched executions using the electric chair proved that it truly could be both painful and horrifying.

Gas chambers proved to be poisonous not just to the condemned, but to those who must administer the execution and clean up afterward. They are also both visibly painful and too reminiscent for some folks' tastes of the Nazi gas chambers.

Then came the lethal injection. I recall the first time I heard it mentioned, and how it was touted that the condemned would just sort of drift off to sleep. Nothing "cruel or unusual" there, they said. Now justice could be served to those who had committed the worst crimes, they said.

Now it's shown that this isn't true, either. They don't "drift off to sleep", they lie there and suffer, slowly.

Truth is, there is nothing good or painless or clean about executions. Nor can there be. The State, even when composed of generally good people, cannot judge perfectly as God can. So when the State orders executions, they are placing themselves in loco Deus — in God's place — by usurping for themselves the power over life and death. Only God can create a painless death. Any attempt to force death to occur before its intended time will be painful for the recipient, and that pain will be attributed by God to the souls of the people who created it, as will the hubris that came with playing God.

April 19, 2007

Okay, now it's gone too far

We're all familiar with the NAFTA-inspired evil of jobs going overseas. The most recent and probably most familiar to the average American is the rerouted customer service call. You might have a problem with your cell phone bill, or maybe you haven't been able to access your Internet connection. Whatever the problem, you call an 800 number, and somewhere in a phone company cellar, lights flash and circuits click. Next thing you know, someone with a thick and distinctly foreign (usually Indian) accent answers. He tells you his name is Kevin. You don't really mention it, but you have serious doubts that this fellow's name is really Kevin, or that he's ever even met anyone named Kevin, but whatever.

Kevin tries to talk you through your rate plan or your network settings or whatever it is he thinks will solve your problem, but it is very difficult to understand him, and you can't get him to deviate from the script he's obviously reading from to answer your question or acknowledge that you've already tried everything he's describing. You know he's just doing his job, and call center work is tough to begin with, even without the language/culture barrier. But there is a palpable amount of communicative disconnect between you and "Kevin" no matter how hard he's trying, and it is frustrating.

What it boils down to is, many Americans, including myself, find overseas call centers unpleasant to deal with. On those occasions where we hear a distinctly American accent, we are relieved.

So what to make of this? According to, the big-time TV preachers are now utilizing overseas prayer lines. As if people who call prayer lines operated by TV preachers don't have enough personal and spiritual troubles, now their calls are being taken by Hindus in India who used to work for Microsoft and Sprint.

(Yes, I know it's a satire, but based on my own personal experiences, it would not surprise me to find out it was true.)

April 9, 2007

At long last, the CSGI results

A while back I told you that we had taken the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory. Bill, one of our RCIA instructors, told us he'd have the results of them the following week. Certain circumstances intervened, and only as we checked in with our instructors about twenty minutes prior to the Easter Vigil Mass (a couple weeks late) were we each given a manila envelope with our individual results.

While it wasn't intended for us to wait this long, the timing of it actually had a cool kind of "Mission: Impossible" feel to it ("Your mission, should you choose to accept it"), only without the self-destructing tape player — or sort of like military people receiving their deployment orders as they graduate from boot camp.

Either way, inside my envelope was my score sheet listing the 24 charisms as defined by the Inventory, with my highest scores highlighted. The scores range from 0 to 15, with 15 being a very strong charism, and 0 being a nearly non-existent charism. Only scores of 11 or higher were highlighted. Attached to the score sheet were short explanations of each of my high-scoring charisms, followed by suggested places around our parish where these could be put to use.

Here are the charisms as listed on the score sheet (high scorers are bolded):

  1. Administration
  2. Celibacy
  3. Craftsmanship
  4. Discernment of Spirits
  5. Encouragement (11)
  6. Evangelism
  7. Faith (11)
  8. Giving
  9. Healing
  10. Helps
  11. Hospitality
  12. Intercessory Prayer
  13. Knowledge (14)
  14. Leadership (11)
  15. Mercy
  16. Missionary
  17. Music (13)
  18. Pastoring
  19. Prophecy
  20. Service
  21. Teaching (13)
  22. Voluntary Poverty
  23. Wisdom
  24. Writing (15)
The options are wide open. I wonder what I'll try first ...

It's official

Yes, that's right. I'm Catholic, for real and for true!

On a technical note, certain parts of the rite didn't happen exactly as we practiced it, none of which was our fault, but we rolled with it. The important thing, though, is ... it happened. That's all that mattered. In the end, Christ Himself was present for our — my — first real Communion. And if that isn't a big deal, I don't know what is.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers, and please continue to do so now and again as you think of it.

April 7, 2007

Today is the day!

That's right, today is the big day on which I officially become Catholic! Yay me!

And yay for everyone else who has been in the RCIA program at my parish and around the world who are also becoming Catholics. I don't even know how many people that might be, but I know it's a lot of folks.

This is a really big deal, so if you'd be so kind, pray for me and for all of us, okay? Thanks!

PS - for those of you who like to "time" your prayer to coincide with the event, our Easter Vigil Mass begins at 7:30pm Central Time (US).