Subscribe via email


Monthly Archives


Post Categories

Tag Index

1st Corinthians 1st Peter 1st Timothy 2nd Corinthians 2nd Peter 60 Minutes 1970s A. G. Sertillanges Abby Abortion Absurdity Academia Accordance Adoration Advent Aesthetics Affluence Agenda Aging AIDS Alan Keyes Alasdair MacIntyre Alexander Solzhenitsyn Algebra Al Gore Alienation Alvin Plantinga America American Culture American Enterprise Institute Americanism Amnesty International Anand Giridharadas Andrew Hacker Andrew R. Grainger Andy Rooney Angela Merkel Anglicanism Anthropocentrism Anthropology Anti-Bullying Anti-Christ Anti-clericalism Antigonish AP Apologetics Apostle Thomas Appearances Archangel Raphael Archbishop Charles Chaput Archbishop Harry Flynn Archbishop Sean O'Malley Art Asininity Assassination Athanasius Atheism Audio Books Austria Authority Avery Cardinal Dulles Balkanization Banality Barack Obama Barbara Bellar Barney Frank Beatles Belgium Belief Ben Johnson Berlin Wall Bias Bible Bible.org Bible Explorer Bible in English Bible Software Reviews Bible Translations BibleWorks Bill Cottle Bill O'Reilly Bill Whittle Bishop Robert Morlino Bitterclinging Black Friday Blackmail Blessed Sacrament Bloggers Unite Blogging Bloomberg Bobby Jindal Bob Schieffer Bono Book of Tobit Book of Wisdom Books Bosco Peters Boston.com Boston Bruins Boston Globe Boston Pilot Bourgeois Ethics Boyhood Boys Bozo BP Brendan O'Neill Bullying Bureaucracy Burial Cacophony California Campaign Funding Cancer Canon Law Cap 'N Trade Capitalism Car Seats Catechesis Catechism Catherine Lawless Catholic Church Catholic Culture Catholicism Catholic Lane Catholic Schools Causation CBA CBO CBS CCD CEB Celebrity Celebrity Psychopath of the Week Censorship Certain Urgency Charismata Charity Charlie Baker Chattering Class Chernobyl Chicanery Children Children & Media China Chris Christie Chris Squire Christendom Christian Art Christianity Christina Harms Christmas Chuck Colson Church Citizenship Civics Civility Civilization Civil Rights Civil Unions Clarence Dupnik Clergy Sexual Abuse Close to the Edge CNSNews Coercion Cognitive Dissonance College Culture Comedy Commerce Clause Commonweal Communism Community Commuting Competition Compromise Computing Condoms Confiscatory Taxation Conflict Congregationalism Congress Congressional Powers Conservatism Constantinople Constitutionality Consumerism Contempt Contraception Conversion Coping Cosmology Counterculture Cover Up Creativity Credentialing Credo Cremation Criminality Crisis Magazine Cult Culture Culture Wars Dad Daily Mail Damien of Molokai Dante Darfur Darwinism Dave Bainbridge David B Hart David Brooks David Frum David Linsky David Mills David Thompson Daylight Saving Time DDC Death Debt Deficit Commission Deficit Spending Definitions Dehumanization Democracy Democratic Socialism Democrat Party Department of Education Dependency Der Spiegel Despair Deuteronomy Deval Patrick Development Devotion Dichotomy Disbelief Discernment Discipline Discrimination Disease Disorder Dispensationalism Disrespect Dissent Dissipation Diversity Divinization Do-Goodism Doctor Assisted Suicide Douglas Farrow Dred Scott Drinking Dualism Earth Day Easter Eastern Religion eBooks Ecclesiology Echo Chamber Economic Crisis Economics Ecumenism Ed Markey Ed Morrissey Ed Schultz Education Edward Feser Edward Winslow Egalitarianism Eleanor Clift Election '08 Election '10 Election 2012 Electronic Publishing Elizabeth Scalia Elizabeth Warren Empathy Empiricism England Enlightenment Entertainment Entitlement Entitlements Environmentalism Envy Ephesians Epiphany Episcopacy Episcopal Church Epistemology Equality Equating Eric Holder Eschatology ESV Eternity Ethics Eucharist Eugenics Euphemism Europe European Union Euthanasia Evangelization Evolution Evolutionism Ewald Stadler Experience Experts Extortion Ezekiel Facebook Faith Faith & Reason Faithfulness Fall of Rome Family Fascism Fashion Fast & Furious Fatherhood Fausta Wertz FCC Fear Felix Just Feminism Fidelity First Amendment First Things Folly Forgiveness Founding Fathers Fourth Estate FOX News Frances Titchenor Franciscan University Fraud Fred Baumann Freedom Free Lunch Free Speech Free Will Friendship Funerals G. F. Handel Gabrielle Giffords Gaia Galatians Garage Light Gay Marriage Genesis George Carlin George Orwell George Tiller George W Bush George Weigel Georgia Warnke Gerry Dembrowski Gerush92 Glenn Beck Global Warming Gnosticism God Good Good Friday Good Samaritan Gorecki Gospel Gospel of John Gospel of Luke Gospel of Mark Gospel of Matthew Gospels Gossip Government Grace Graciousness Great Britain Great Entitlement Society Greece Green Movement Grief Guardian Gun Control Gunwalker Handel & Haydn Hannah Arendt Hans Urs von Balthasar Harry Christophers Harry Potter Harry Reid Hating HCSB Health Healthcare Healthcare Reform Heaven Hegel Henri de Lubac Henry E Hudson Heresy Heritage Foundation Hidden Treasure Higher Education Hiroshima History Hitler Holiday Season Holiness Homosex Hope Hospitality HotAir Housing HTML editors Hubris Human Dignity Human Flourishing Humanities Human Nature Human Rights Humility Hypocrisy Hysteria iBreviary Idealism Ideas Identity Ideology Idolatry iEducation Illness Imago Dei Immorality Imperialism Incarnation Incivility Individualism Indulgence Infantilism Insipidity Insurance Intellect Intercession Intergenerational Theft Interiorizing Culture Iona Iowahawk Irony Irresponsibility Isaiah Islam Italy J.E. Dyer J. Gresham Machen Jack Wagner James Pethokoukis James V. Schall Janet Daley Jay Rockefeller Jazz Shaw Jefferson Starship Jeff Jacoby Jeremiah Jesus Christ Jewish Advocate Jews JFK Jill Stein Jimmy Carter Joanne Hogg Joe Biden Joe Carter Joe Scarborough Joe Wilson John Henry Newman John Jalsevac John Kerry John Locke John McCain John Roberts John Sommerville John the Baptist John Ziegler Jonah Jonathan Last Jonathan Sperry Joseph Stalin Journaling Journalism Joy Joyce Judaism Judgment Judgmentalism Judiciary Jurisprudence Justice Just War K-8 Kant Kathryn Lopez Keith Olbermann Ken Cuccinelli Kermit Gosnell Keynesianism Killing King David Kingdom of God KKK Knights of Columbus Knowledge L'Osservatore Romano Labor Laity Language Larceny Law Lazarus Laziness Learning Lectionary Leftism Legacy Legality Lent Leprosy Letter to Hebrews Letter to Romans Leviathan Liberal Education Liberalism Libertarianism Liberty Libraries LibraryThing Libretti Libya Licentiousness Lidwig Feuerbach Lies LifeSiteNews LifeWay Light Light Dawns on Marble Head Limited Government Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Liturgy of the Hours Logos Lordship Love Luciano Storero Lumen Gentium Lying Macintosh Magi Manhattan Declaration Mara Hvistendahl Marcel Guarnizo Marco Rubio Margaret Becker Margaret Marshall Marketing Mark T. Coppenger Marriage Martin Cothran Martin Heidegger Marxism Mary Eberstadt Mary Magdalene Mary Rose Somarriba Massachusetts Massachusetts SJC Massasoit Materalism Maternity Mathematics Matthew Hanley Matt Labash Mattress Girl MaybeToday.org Mayflower Meaning Media Ethics Media Hype Medicaid Medical Ethics Medicare Memory Mercy Methodology Mexico City Policy Michael Hanby Michael Moore Michelle Bachmann Michelle Malkin Mike Pence Milos Forman Miracles Misanthropy Misbehavior Miscenegation Mitch Daniels Mitt Romney Moammar Qaddafi Mockery Modernism Modernity Modern Scholar Mom Moral Doctrine Moral Imbecility Moralism Morality Moral Philosophy Mortimer J Adler Motherhood Mother Teresa Motives Movies MSBA MSM MSNBC Music NAB NABRE Nancy Pelosi Nanny State Naomi Achaefer Riley Nasta & Yulia Natick National Council of Churches National Day of Prayer Nationalism National Review National Socialism Natural Rights Nature NEA Negligence New American Bible New English Translation New Marriage News Product Newsweek New Testament New York Times Niall Ferguson Nigel Farage Nighttime Nihilism Noli me Tangere Nonsense Now Reading NY Times O Antiphons ObamaCare Occam's Razor Occupy OEB Old Testament Olive Tree Ontology Operation Rescue Opinion Ordinary Time Organ Sales Origen Original Sin Orthodoxy Osama bin Laden OWD Paganism Papacy Parables Parenting Partisanship Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry Passion of Christ Pat Caddell Patheos Pathology Patriarchy Paul Erlich Paul Ryan PC Study Bible Pearl of Great Price Pederasty Pedophilia Pentecostalism Permissiveness Perpetual Outrage Perseverance Personhood Pete Jermann Peter Augustine Lawler Peter Kreeft Peter L. Berger Peter Sanchioni Peter Seewald Peter Thiel Phenomenology Philosophical Naturalism Philosophy Pieta Pieties Piety Pilgrims Pink Floyd Planned Parenthood Plato Plenty Plymouth Plantation Poland Political Correctness Political Discourse Political Economy Political Resistance Political Science Pop Culture Criticism Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Leo XIII Pop Music Pornography Postmodernism Poverty Power Pradis Prayer Preaching Priestcraft Priesthood Principles Priorities Prison Fellowship Prisons Privacy Private Schooling Privatization Pro-Lifers Procrastination Producers Progressivism Propaganda Property Property Rights Propheticism Prosperity Prostitution Protestantism Pseudo-Morality Public Discourse Public Order Public Schooling Public Spending Punishment Puritans QotD QuickVerse Racialism Racism Radicalism Rape Rape Culture Rationality Rationing Ravi Zacharias Reading Reality Rebecca Reconciliation Redemptionis Sacramentum Reform Regeneration Regensburg Regulations Relationships Relativism Religion Religiosity Religious Art Religious Dialog Religious Liberty Religious Repression Rent Seeking Repentance Republican Party Rerum Novarum Resomation Responsibility Resurrection Revelation Revolutions Rhetoric Richard Fernandez Richard John Neuhaus Richard Nixon Richard Wright Rick Santorum Rick Wakeman Rick Warren Righteousness Rita L. Marker Robert Barron Robert R. Reilly Robert T. Miller Rock Music Rod Decker Roe v. Wade Roger Vinson Roman Empire Romans Romanticism Romneycare Ronald Reagan Ron Dellums Ross Douthat Rush Limbaugh Ruth Ruth Marcus Ryan Messmore Sacrality Sacramentalism Sacraments Saint Augustine Saint Francis Saint Francis de Sales Saint Ismeria Saint Jerome Saint Maximilian Kolbe Saint Nicholas Saint Paul Saint Paul School Saint Peter Salvation Same-Sex Marriage Sanctification Sanctity Santa Claus Sarah Palin Satisfaction Scandal Scapegoating Schooling Science Scott Brown Scott Harrington SCOTUS Sean Bielat Self Discipline Self Knowledge Sentimentality Sermonizing Sexuality Sexual Revolution ShareThis Sharon Angle Sigmund Freud Sin Singing Slander Slavery Smoking SNAP Social Contract Social Engineering Socialism Socializing Children Social Justice Social Studies Sociology Socrates Solidarity Solutions Sonia Sotomayor Soteriology Soul Southern Poverty Law Center Soviet Union Speeches Speech Police spiked-online Spirituality SSM St. Augustine Church St. Patrick Church Standardization Statism Stem Cells Stephen Kinzer Stephen Prothero Sterilization Stewardship Strange Fire Stress Study Study Bibles Stupidity Subjective Objectivity Subjectivism Subsidiarity Suffering Sunday Readings Supernatural Superstition Symbolism Syncretism Tabernacle Talk Radio Taxation Tax Shelters Teaching TEA Party Technology Ted Kennedy Ted Koppel Temporizing Temptation Terl Bryant Tetragrammaton Thanksgiving The Catholic Thing Theism Theology Theology of the Body Theosis Theotokos Therese of Lisieux The Telegraph TheWeek.com Thinking Thomas Aquinas Thomas F Madden Thomas G. Guarino Thomas Jefferson Tim Cahill Time Timothy Dalrymple Tolerance Tom Coburn Tony Blankley Tony Melchiorri Touchstone Townhall.com Trade-Offs Tradition Training Transcendence Transhumanism Transparency Treasure Trinitarianism Trivia Troy Donockley Truth Tunisia Turkey TV Tyranny U.S. Senate U2 UFOs Unbelief Unintended Consequences Unionism United Church of Christ Unity Universal Declaration of Human Rights Universalim Universities Upon this Rock USA Today USCCB US Congress Usurpation Utilitarianism Utopianism Vatican Vatican II Verbal Engineering Verbum Vice Victimhood Victor David Hanson Violence Virginia Postrel Virtue Vocation Voluntary Insanity Voters Voting Vulgarity w.bloggar W. Norris Clarke Waiting Walk for Life Wall Street Journal Walter Russell Mead War Warren Buffett Washington Post Watergate Wealth webEdit Weekly Standard Wesley J. Smith Western Civilization Wicca Will-to-Power William Callahan Will of God Windows Live Writer Winter Wisdom Witchcraft WordPress Words WORDsearch WORDsearch 5 WORDsearch 7 WORDsearch 8 WORDsearch 9 WORDsearch 10 WORDsearch 11 Work Works Worship WWJD Yes Yom Kippur Youth ZBS Zero-Tolerance ZfEval-Searching Zondervan

Tag Archive: Franciscan University

Good Riddance, 2011

Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2011 (8:03 pm), by John W Gillis


This year sucked. It began with my little sister’s funeral, and ended with a malaise lingering on from my mother’s funeral.

For my sister, Mary, death came quickly, and then it came slowly. She was very busy living a vibrant life, when she was suddenly smitten with a terminal cancer. Then she spent a year and a half dying. She tried to keep up the appearances of optimism, but everyone around her knew how the dance was going to end; we just didn’t know quite when. When it came, death came slowly, bleeding her life away as her ministering aunt and other loved ones waited in vigil for the end, which came in the third watch of the night after Christmas Day. She was 49, and left no children to carry her line forward on the Earth.

For my mother, Edna, death came slowly, and then it came quickly. Dying at 79, she had lived a good and full life, touching the lives of many, and leaving a legacy of kindness that, pray God, will redound to her name for generations, even when she herself is forgotten. Having been born with a collapsed lung, her breathing organ was never quite right, and she’d been living with a progressive case of acute Pulmonary Fibrosis for some time, before she up and died on us. Of course, we knew it was coming sooner or later, and she had gotten “old” recently, but still it seemed to come almost out of the blue. True, she had given us a scare the day before, and the family spent Sunday afternoon in the emergency room, wondering if she’d perhaps had a stroke, but she seemed fine by afternoon, had checked out OK medically, and was sent home in the evening. On Monday morning, she died. Just like that. It was October 3rd, the original feast day of St Therese of Lisieux, the saint credited by the family with saving Mom’s life as a newborn, and whose name she was thus given in tribute.

Whatever else may have happened this year seems almost lost in the shadows of these two bookends of death & grief. I’ve looked upon the sorrowful , resigned faces of yet a couple more friends who have had their verdicts of terminal cancer pronounced to them. I’ve watched dozens of co-workers jettisoned from their source of material well-being, as the business world atrophies under corporate & government mismanagement and corruption. I’ve seen the U.S. government run up a debt of unprecedented magnitude – one poised to crush the commonweal of my children and their peers – for the sake of a filched political placidity, while the ruling party successfully smeared the opposition as extremist and non-cooperative for the sin of (futilely) demanding a roadmap to fiscal sanity as the price for complicity in the mortgaging of the futures of those we have a moral duty to protect & defend. Shameful.

As for myself, I can’t get out of my own way: I had targeted early December for completion of my prerequisite course work at Franciscan University, but have been scuffling badly since mid-October, and don’t even know how to get back on track at this point.

On the bright side, this was the year that Joyce leveraged her imposed unemployment into an opportunity to pursue her long-time desire to get into professional dog grooming. The Boston Bruins are suddenly the best hockey team in the world for the first time since I could sing alto, and last spring they gave us one of the greatest hockey games I’ve ever seen (Game 7 of the Conference Finals against Tampa Bay).

Furthermore, as of yet at least, no crowd of self-entitled, self-righteous, unemployed ne’er-do-wells have converged to “occupy” my backyard, demanding that I succor them by paying off their insane student loans for stupidly bloated college tuitions I could never afford for either myself or my own kids (we found other ways to achieve what we needed to achieve). That’s a plus. And I still have my own job; my kids are all healthy and safe; we’re coming up on a leap-year – which means a “real” anniversary for Joyce and I on Feb 29th; Congress reversed the moronic ban on incandescent light bulbs; and Rick Santorum actually appears to have an outside shot at winning the Iowa caucuses, putting the only candidate I actually like from the Republican field in a position to at least temporarily receive some media attention before the big-money candidates get around to burying him under a torrent of glitzy drivel (OK, I also really like and admire Michelle Bachmann, but I’m afraid she would be almost as out-of-her-league in that job as Obama is, speaking of torrents of glitzy drivel from big-money candidates…).

And, lastly, the garage ceiling light bulb is still burning faithfully, almost 40 years after being installed. Yes, the very same light bulb that greeted my mother and father the first time they illuminated their new garage with electricity in June of 1972 continues to shine its light every time I flip the switch. To me, it’s become a symbol of faithfulness and perseverance, and it reminds me unfailingly of my dad. Would that we all could be relied upon so faithfully, as that bulb, to shine forth the light entrusted to us for the sake of others’ seeing their way in the world! I dread the day that bulb blows; I pray it’s not in 2012.

Happy New Year, planet Earth. Choose carefully; choose well. Peace, from here.

Christ reigns by unfolding Himself in men

Posted: Monday, January 31, 2011 (11:47 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Monday, January 31st, 2011:

A. G. Sertillanges, from his venerable book The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods:

Christianized humanity is made up of various personalities, no one of which can refuse to function without impoverishing the group and without depriving the eternal Christ of a part of his Kingdom. Christ reigns by unfolding Himself in men. Every life of one of His members is a characteristic moment of His duration; every individual man and Christian is an instance, incommunicable, unique, and therefore necessary, of the extension of the “spiritual body.” If you are designated as a light bearer, do not go and hide under the bushel the gleam or the flame expected from you in the house of the Father of all. Love truth and its fruits of life, for yourself and for others; devote to study and to the profitable use of study the best part of your time and your heart.

I’m just beginning this book, and hoping to get through it this week. Next week I begin the fourth course (Metaphysics) in my Franciscan University program. No small part of my reasoning for entering that program was to subject my thinking life to a guided discipline for the sake of deepening it through focus – as Sertillanges points out, a stream bounded by  narrow banks flows more impetuously – and this guide looks as if it might provide the knowledge of precisely the corrective I need at this point to tame my tendency to skim too lightly over the demands of systematic study, while relying too heavily on my (fading) abilities of recall. That’s long-hand for laziness.

A man’s self-revelation can only be realized in a sustained submission to the truth for its own sake, which is nothing more or less than an openness to God. But Sertillanges is here going a step further, in positioning the vocation to the pursuit of truth as being one of service, which echoes the point being made about the Church’s sacramental vocation by the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews in today’s first reading in the Mass:

Yet all these [Old Testament saints], though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40 (NAB)

Peeking Into the Past

Posted: Monday, May 31, 2010 (10:12 pm), by John W Gillis


Having reached the end of my second Franciscan University course a couple weeks ago following a mad rush of activity, I’ve found myself wandering a bit aimlessly, contemplating my next move. Over the weekend, I ended up rummaging through a series of old journal entries from the mid-90’s, and came across a handful of comments I’d like to save from the dustbin:

I was able to drive more sanely today. I have many such improvements in mind.
3/5/96

It’s important to make your life worth living; it’s important to live for something worth dying for.
3/5/96

A prayer life is the essential difference between living a truly human life, and living a charade.
9/2/96

The problem with me and drinking is that they’re mutually exclusive.
9/13/96

Once upon a time, I stood up firmly for my beliefs. But that was when I was a rebel: it’s easy to be staunchly egotistical.
9/22/96

I was thinking about change, about repentance, about awareness of sin, and humility. It dawned on me that repentance, or change for the better, is nothing more than being open to a movement toward truth which one already possesses – or apprehends. Repentance, which is spiritual growth, never comes about (never?) as from an outside force, but rather is nothing more than allowing oneself to be convicted of the truth one already apprehends – and which is generally apprehended apprehensively!

This movement brings one closer to the real source of truth, Christ, and consequently opens one up to yet new apprehension of truth – which yet again demands either conversion or aversion. To avert the truth is to refuse and deny repentance. Contrariwise, to confront the truth is to be constantly faced with the perceived need for conversion. Anyone with any experience in that genuine change for the good becomes, as it were, immune to that type of pride which is oblivious of humility. For the one who knows repentance, and who lives a life of spiritual growth, humility is a no-brainer. It is not so much that humility makes repentance possible, as that repentance makes the lack of humility downright impossible. Hence humility grows with repentance, not vice-versa. And spiritual growth is growth in humility.
12/2/96

Coming Up for Air

Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 (11:58 pm), by John W Gillis


jwg-close-glasses-thumb.jpg

For the first time in almost six months, I’m not working on a college course. I finished my first pre-req course at Franciscan University over the weekend, and I’ve been enjoying the mental break of knowing I’m uncommitted (especially since receiving confirmation of my assignment submission yesterday), but there are a couple matters that have surfaced in the process.

I never expected to take anywhere near six months to complete that course, and if I can’t find a way to shave course durations significantly, I could be on this program for an unwieldy amount of time – it would be at least another three years before I began my actual graduate courses, which simply doesn’t sound workable. I need to find a way to reduce the course durations to something much closer to three months. In a world without other responsibilities, that would be a piece of cake, but I’m struggling to even imagine how I could consolidate my schoolwork like that without shirking other duties – and these courses won’t get any easier.

The other glaring matter is what to do with the website. Fronting this site with a blog has become something of a joke, as I rarely find time to write for it, and increasing my focus on schoolwork will hardly work to ameliorate that. My writing interests hardly intersect effectively with the blogging ideal, anyway, as I just can’t rouse myself to blurt and link every time I have half an idea. I want my writing to stretch my thinking out, to help move my mental acumen from intuition and cleverness to substantial and substantiated reason.

So I’m seriously considering moving the blog off to a side page (maybe with a weekly article commitment, just to keep me honest), and fronting the site with a structure geared toward publishing static content. I’m considering a series of doctrinal studies,based on my CCD class preparation notes, among other things.I could see this serving a good purpose, as a kind of semi-popularized collection of important ideas in Catholic theology, where semi-popular means presented at a level a layman (or student) can easily grasp,  while also providing the background necessary to effectively read scholarly works.

It’s Thinking Weather

Posted: Monday, December 8, 2008 (11:52 pm), by John W Gillis


A true winter chill has settled in to Massachusetts tonight, as we begin to close in on the winter solstice. I took the dog outside a few minutes ago to prepare for locking up  the house for the night, and I was taken aback by the beauty of the night as I headed down the porch stairs. The sky is crystal clear, the moon and stars: brilliant. The temperature is just below 20 degrees.

As I was wandering around the back yard, I was thinking how I so enjoyed these kinds of nights when I was young and carefree, and walking all over town with my friends at night – instead of being inside doing homework or other useful things. I think I enjoyed them even more when I was working nights, in my early twenties, loading trucks and sampling drums of chemical waste. It’s not so cold as to be oppressive, just cold enough to keep everything crisp: the ground, the air, the shadows, and the mind. There’s something about a cold, brightly moonlit night that clears the cobwebs from the head, and invites clarity of thought.

I had a lot of room in my life back then for thinking, though I can’t honestly say I did a very good job of it – especially as a teenager. But there were plenty of nights, spent – mostly alone – jockeying trucks and loading them up in the yard over at General Chemical, that I would let my mind wander over various ideas:  working out moral problems, trying to understand political questions, wrestling with religious doctrines, and generally trying to find my place in the world of ideas. I wish I could reach back and grab that kid by the lapels, give him a little direction, and dispossess him of a few particularly noxious notions, but that’s just not the way life works.

One thing I might tell that young man, were I to have the chance, would be not to get impatient with life, but to treasure the opportunity that such a life provided for reflection. By the end of the decade, I’d grown quite tired of the kind of labor that provided me that opportunity for reflection because of the lack of mental challenge inherent in the work. I wanted work that allowed me to use my mind, and eventually, that’s exactly what I found.

But what I lost in the process of finding “meaningful work” was the freedom to think for myself. It could hardly be any other way: how could I possibly think for myself if I was busy thinking for somebody else? The great questions of my life would have to wait for my “spare time,” so that I could focus my mind on “meaningful” matters like desktop configurations, networking protocols, technical security schemes, business benefits, requirements analysis, project dashboards, and stakeholder satisfaction.

Life, it turns out, is full of trade-offs – not simple solutions, or “progress.” I should also not have been surprised when my weight ballooned after giving up manual labor – though I’m sure it never crossed my mind at the time. No doubt, I’ve appreciated the financial benefits of my current career – and I’m hardly ready to give them up. But as I find it harder and harder to keep my mind focused, during the day, on matters that seem to me ever more trivial, I have to wonder where this is all leading.

I took a deep breath this weekend, and began the process of applying to Franciscan University’s Masters in Theology program. This is going to be a long road, and I hope I’ve weighed the trade-offs appropriately. For all the good – and there is plenty of it – that the last 15 or so years have meant for me, I can’t deny that I feel myself being called back to an earlier, simpler way, in many respects – even as I look forward to brand new possibilities. Truth be told, there have even been plenty of days over the years (more recently than prior) that I’ve wished I was working outside again. I’m not sure how reasonable that is at this point, but I do need some kind of fresh start.

Hitting the Wall

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2008 (10:48 pm), by John W Gillis


I’ve been very tired over the past couple weeks. I run out of steam before I get home from work, and I haven’t been able to find my second wind, for the most part. I wish I could write during the day, when my head is often buzzing with ideas I’d like to pursue, but by the time I get home, I just don’t have the energy.

This especially concerns me because I’ve been making noises again about getting my application in to Franciscan University so I can begin my prep work for their MA program. I can’t help wondering if I should just drop the idea, and simply pursue my own academic agenda at my own pace. I haven’t even been reading – I’m too tired to think these days. How can I succeed in course work in this condition?

Perhaps I can fight through it somehow. It’s true that I’ve allowed myself to be somewhat sucked into the excitement of the Boston Celtics’ renewed success, and I’ve been staying up watching some playoff games. But in reality, I’m getting more sleep at night than at any time I can remember. I think my recent TV watching might be more a function of my tiredness than a cause of it, though maybe there’s some reciprocity going on.

Tomorrow promises to be a particular challenge, as Abby and Rebecca have their annual dance recital. It’s a long afternoon – the schedule I saw calls for 47 different routines in succession – and most of the music will be awful. The experience will no doubt rekindle in me a desire to pick up the thread I was writing on the role of pop music in the life of children, and I suppose that if I manage to find the energy to work my way through it, that will be a good thing.

MaybeToday.org Site Launch

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2008 (6:02 pm), by John W Gillis


MaybeToday.org was spawned in a crucible that was formed by the convergence of a number of difficulties in my life, all of which were pressing on my available time in some way or another. In a typically Christian manner, I was trying to understand what God was asking of me – what His will was for my life in those circumstances. In short, I was looking for God to help me straighten things out.

Maybe it was my professional background at play, but, in retrospect, I can see that I saw this essentially as a prioritization and scheduling exercise – which consisted in large part of trying to ascertain if the time was right to begin my studies toward a Master of Theology from Franciscan University at Steubenville, via their distance learning program. The program itself has seemed like the right direction for me for a while, but the timing has been problematic – perhaps primarily because of health concerns over the past year, but also because of concerns about its potential to impact my family time and work commitment, as well as my availability for involvement in my parish community. The insight that came to me seemed a bit out of left field.

I was beginning another long commute home in a miserable winter rain storm, when the thought came to me that I really needed to do something right away about making a long-needed change in email hosting. For years, I’d been running my own Internet mail server as part of a fairly elaborate network of systems in my basement. Back when I was working as an IT Infrastructure consultant, it was sensible enough for me to be running my own pilot lab at home, but I’d lost that need – and the motivation to maintain it- a couple years ago, and it was becoming something of an albatross to me, wasting time and money while steadily becoming riskier for me to run.

For various reasons, my resolution was to procure a new professionally hosted domain, migrate, then shut down my old domain. I’d come up with a list of potential new domain names, but hadn’t done any serious planning. And as I sat slumped in my car at a red light in that rainstorm, thinking I really needed to do something about it right away, my initial reaction was: “that’s going to be a lot of work, and when I’m done, I’m going to want to build a web site for it, which will be even more work… yeah, maybe tomorrow…” Immediately, however, I replied to myself: “No, maybe today”.

Right then, I knew I had found, not only my new domain name, but a key to understanding what God was looking for from me (or offering me, if you prefer): not a web site, per se, but the impetus to stop wasting my time waiting for tomorrow, and to start living for today; to stop trying to become me, but to simply be me; to stop trying to understand God’s plan, but to just do whatever honestly seems to be the needful thing to do.

It’s not very obvious how starting a blog would have been the needful thing to do in that situation, but it has to do with the need to stop waiting for the stars to align, so to speak. A while back, I targeted today as the launch day for this site. So, in the spirit of taking each day for what it’s worth – despite feeling still quite unready – I’m considering maybetoday.org formally launched with this post. I still have a lot of work to do to achieve the baseline I set out to meet for launch, but I’ll just have to be satisfied with what I’ve done design-wise, and get to the content as I can.

If anyone comes around and reads this, welcome: feel free to look around, and to chat if you’re so inclined.