September 14, 2019


I had the grace to attend the Toronto International Film Festival this month and screen “A Hidden Life”--the life of Austria’s Blessed Franz Jagerstatter and his wife—exquisitely handled by the masterful Terrence Malick. Malick’s last masterpiece was 2011’s “The Tree of Life,” also 3 hours in length and also a deeply contemplative experience. However, “A Hidden Life” does not involve the surreal (levitation, dinosaurs and the afterlife). It is a sequential, slightly impressionistic telling of an extraordinary-ordinary man’s existence and resistance to Hitler. It’s coming to theaters in December and I beg you to see it on the big screen. Even if you’re not a Malick fan, you should be a Jagerstatter fan and a fan of this film. It will take its place alongside all the great World War II films and will rival “A Man for All Seasons” as a film about conscience. (However, unlike MFAS, HL explores in depth the arguments for and against doing one’s conscience when it can mean death, a "useless sacrifice," and possible retribution for one’s family.)

SPOILER ALERT: Blessed Franz Jagerstatter was put to death by the Nazis at 36 years old for refusing to swear the oath to Hitler as all conscripted soldiers were required to do. Jagerstatter died a conscientious objector and martyr.

Like all Malick’s films, you are in for an immersive atmospheric and sensory experience. In particular, the audial experience with its perfect soundtrack hovers just below the level of our awareness and contributes to the seamlessness of “A Hidden Life.” The film begins with a blackened screen and we hear birdsong, wind, cowbells and human farm life before we see anything. Malick is attuning us. No one blends nature cinematography and human drama better than this auteur of the visual storytelling art form. The beginning of the film situates us in an idyllic Austrian mountain village with all its glorious vistas, rolling weather and intimate social charms and traditions. The Catholic Faith is as ingrained in the consciousness of the people as the furrows in the soil behind the ox-driven ploughs. Jagerstatter’s voiceover tells us that he wanted nothing more than to live an obscure life as a farmer, husband and father. But it was not to be.

Everyone’s life is a battle of good vs. evil. There’s really no place for any of us to hide. The Nazi web spinning out, suffocating, poisoning and decimating Europe lost no time in annexing adjacent Austria for “the fatherland.” Many Austrians didn’t mind the nationalistic fever and influx of prosperity. Others saw it for what it was: a war of aggression, an unjust war, a dictator, a madman causing untold horror and suffering to the innocent. But very, very few had the courage to dissent, to actually defy, to give up their lives for their disapproval and disagreement. One of these Austrians was Franz Jagerstatter, a former motorcycle-riding bad boy, a player who already had one daughter out of wedlock. However, Franz’s wife, Franziska, put a joyful end to Franz’s aimless rebellions. Joyful? 

The entire initial twenty minutes of the film is nothing but marital and pastoral bliss as Mr. and Mrs. Franz and Franziska romp about in the meadows and fields with the three girls they bore together: working, playing and romancing. This is my only criticism of the film. Twenty minutes worth? It’s lovely, but we get it already! The overkill makes their relationship look impossible, pollyanna, maudlin, saccharine. Of course, it is setting up a major contrast for the ending of the film.

In fact, Franziska did such a good job on Franz, turning him into a devout Catholic like herself, espousing Catholic values and principles, that she was ultimately blamed for Franz doing his conscience to the end. We agonize with the couple as Franz does what he can to avoid the unavoidable. Although the film is about Franz, his wife is in almost every scene and has many scenes alone. This is really a film about a couple. The love story is palpable. We see an authentic, natural, wholesome, strong, undying love between a man and a woman, a husband and wife. A portion toward the end of the film is narrated by the actual letters that traversed between Franz and Franziska while he was imprisoned and forceful attempts were being made to make him recant his opposition or simply dissemble and save his life.

Malick presents the facts of Jagerstatter’s life very accurately. I was thrilled to see so many details of his story brought to life. At the film festival, we got to speak to one of the American producers of the film who gave us some inside scoops on both Jagerstatter’s life and some of the “making of” the film.

Did the bishops/priests counsel the people to join Hitler’s army and save their lives? Yes, they did. (Malick graciously gives them a bit of an excuse in the film. In real life, Franz was inspired to resist till death when he heard of an Austrian priest who did so: Jagerstatter was the odd man out in every way. Many of his own townsfolk (whose men went along when they were “called up” to serve/fight) considered him a traitor.

“A Hidden Life” is so substantive. There is so much to unpack that I could write on and on. The dialogue is as keen and thoughtful as “A Man for All Seasons,” though not witty. But I’ll let you discover and experience it all for yourself IN THE THEATERS THIS DECEMBER. I BEG YOU TO SEE THIS FILM ON THE BIG SCREEN AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF “THE WONDERFUL GIFTS” OF MODERN FILMMAKING TECHNOLOGY that can make the past present.
The prison scenes are quite moving. It’s not only about the brutality and deprivation, but the fear, the not-being-able-to-do-otherwise. But they are also filled with Jagerstatter growing very close to God who is the Light. (I remember in my reading about Franz that at one point he asked not to have any more letters or visitors so he could prepare himself for death with an uninterrupted colloquy with God.)

Franz Jagerstatter was put to death at 36 years old.

I went into the film knowing a fair amount about Franz. In fact, he has long been one of my heroes and I often recount his story to groups of teens at Confirmation retreats. To applause, I might add. His story is incredibly captivating. I used to end my oral retelling with: “Jagerstatter’s grandchildren could be ashamed of their grandfather and never talk about him. Or they could say: ‘Well, he did what he had to do. He did what everyone did at the time.’ But they don’t have to do either. They can hold their heads high and say: ‘My grandfather is Franz Jagerstatter.’”


--The original name of the film was “St. Radegund,” the name of Jagerstatter’s town.

--I was skeptical that Malick was the one to do Jagerstatter. I am a skeptic no more.

--Incredible “karmic question”/wisdom figure of an elderly artist painting images of Jesus in the village church. He said he doesn’t have the courage to paint Christ as He really is. He said, I just make admirers of Christ, not imitators or followers of Christ.

--So often Jagerstatter is challenged by others: “Do you think this sacrifice of yours is going to help anyone? Matter? Make a difference? Change the course of history?” (And a kind of breaking of the fourth wall question: “Do you think anyone will ever hear of you?”)

--It’s not in the film, but my favorite quote from Jagerstatter is: “Just because a man has a family, I don’t believe he is dispensed from doing his conscience.” (People told him he was being selfish. That his family would suffer so that he could do his precious “conscience.”) So. Many. Arguments. From. All. Sides. To. Give. In. Like. Everyone. Else. (E.g., “You are actually forcing someone else to take your place.”)

--I have so many favorite scenes that pop up in my head randomly constantly. One is when he is staring the nature of his death square in the face (don’t want to give this away) and what the other prisoner says to him to give him hope.

--Malick’s films don’t “haunt,” they “linger.”

--The mise-en-scène is a threefold interspersion: Creation, Actual Nazi German Expressionism Propaganda Reels, Malick’s Impressionism.

--Franz may have remained unknown, except for a book entitled “In Solitary Witness: The Life and Death of Franz Jagerstatter,” by Gordon Zahn. Thomas Merton also included a chapter on him in one of his books.

--Franz was beatified in the cathedral of Vienna by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, with his wife and all four daughters present.

--There is a commemoration at Franz’ grave every August 9.

--During the film I thought of the 1960’s dictum: “What if there was a war and no one came?” The actor who played Franz mentioned this also at the Q & A.

--Franz wants his wife to plainly and simply tell the children what happened to him and that he is now praying for them from the other side and they should pray for him. He doesn’t want his wife making up stories.

--The actor and actress who played Franz and Franziska did a Q & A after the film at TIFF and said the hardest thing was learning to do farm work: milking cows, churning butter, etc.  Although there was a script and dialogue, Malick let the camera run for 30 minutes at a time and gave the actors great freedom to contribute to each scene. He was basically waiting for them to forget the camera and for some real life to occur. :) They said Malick gave them philosophers and Psalms to read each morning, but they didn’t discuss them: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche. They also had to read the letters of F & F. Often after doing a scene with dialogue, Malick would have them redo the scene in silence. The actor who played Franz explained: “In TM’s films, the bigger the character, the more silence. Franz’ resistance after all was a silent resistance. The movie was shot in a chronological way. I became more and more silent as we went along. Interiorly also.” The actress who played Franziska: “Our themes were love, faith and resistance. If we have free will, were responsible for what we do and don’t do. That’s always the way it is. We took a very grounded approach, very attached to the land.”

--What comes home in this film is what Bonhoeffer decried: Hitler destroyed true German culture.

--If you’re worried about this film dragging? It does not. It’s deceptive. There’s a meditative tone, but there are plenty of quick cuts and moving of the story forward with a jaunty but never jarring pacing.
--So many delicate little details that bear a second viewing.

--Malick has struck his golden vein yet again!

--“Darkness is not dark to you.” “You are the light.” “Lead us to your eternal light.”

--Old man in town who agrees with Franz’s opting out: “It is an oath to the Antichrist!”

--Screaming Nazi voices grow louder and louder in the background of the film, juxtaposed with the loving voices of Franz and Franziska.

--Nazi to Franz: “Do you judge me?” Franz: “No. I simply cannot do what I believe is wrong.” Nazi: “Do you have a right to do this?” Franz: “Do I have a right not to?” SO MANY QUOTABLES LIKE THIS AND THIS ISN’T EVEN THE BEST ONE.

--Franz’s Nazi interrogators give him reason after reason to withdraw his opposition.

--A few whispered prayers to God as in “Tree of Life.” Franziska: “Where are you?” “Why did you create us?” “What is this life for?” “The time will come when we’ll know what all this is for, why we’re alive. We’ll come together and build the land back up. I’ll meet you in the mountains, Franz.”


September 10, 2019


Image result for lyme disease
(I will be occasionally updating this post.)

When I recently contracted Lyme Disease and began doing research about it online, I realized something was very, very wrong. Lyme was “controversial.” Doctors, scientists and sufferers all seemed to be at war. It was difficult to get correct information, especially about effective treatment. I am currently finally being treated and my symptoms are slowly diminishing. I will be on antibiotics for at least another month. I have been conferring with a good friend who suffered horribly from Lyme several years ago. She was on: antibiotics for 3 months (with the possibility of going on intravenous antibiotics), Advil liquid-gels for the joint pain (her doc said it also protects the joints, just be sure to take with food), and steroids for the mild encephalitis (brain swelling). Her doctor told her to get plenty of extra rest as well so the body can assist the meds in healing itself. It took her 2 years to completely recover. It is possible!

Image result for green rosary

I am praying for all of you who are suffering with this awful malady. I am very much on the mend at this posting (because of hard-to-get proper treatment; see my story below), but I will never forget all of you! I sleep with a green rosary wrapped around my wrist now.

If you get BITTEN BY A TICK and get a telltale Lyme bulls-eye (BE SURE TO TAKE A PICTURE OF IT FOR WHEN IT FADES), it will be clear that you have been bitten by a tick infected with Lyme disease. If you show a doctor the bulls-eye, you will immediately be put on antibiotics (DOXYCYCLINE HYCLATE) and, if you caught it quickly enough (something like 24-72 hours), you may not develop any symptoms...and after your course of antibiotics you hopefully will have eradicated the bacteria from your system. If symptoms come back, you will have to go back on antibiotics (even for a long period of time).

If you DO NOT GET A BULLS-EYE at the site of the bite, are not even aware that you were bitten by a tick, wait longer than 24-72 hours, or don't find a doctor who understands Lyme and its treatment (or how antibiotics work), you are in a for a fight. The ONLY way to really ascertain if you have Lyme (if you didn't get a bulls-eye and show it to a doctor, or show up positive on some very sketchy Lyme tests) is by a lumbar puncture (spinal tap to draw fluid for examination/diagnosis) and doctors are loathe to do this procedure because of the risks involved. You will not even be told about this option.

TESTS for Lyme are tricky. You will have blood drawn. You most likely won't show up positive within the first three weeks or more of getting bitten. But you will probably already have horrible symptoms by then and no one will "believe" they're Lyme until you test positive and now your treatment will be postponed and then prolonged because you didn't catch it on time. There is more than one kind of blood test that needs to be done to determine Lyme, but they are notoriously inaccurate and can all show false-negatives. Lyme is kind of like rabies. You need to get on the drugs BEFORE you test positive. Once you have symptoms (for rabies, it's too late), Lyme Disease has gotten the upper hand and it's going to take a long time to conquer this now.

If you were bitten by some kind of unknown bug and have all the SYMPTOMS of Lyme (look them up--but they continually morph and surprise you and run rampant in your body, including your brain and heart)--you should definitely begin a course of antibiotics. If they begin to work? Well, the proof is in the pudding. Doctors often do this when they're not sure what you have or how to treat you. They TRY a likely medicine on you. But rarely for Lyme!

What kind of ANTIBIOTICS? DOXYCYCLINE HYCLATE is what works for Lyme. (Doxycycline mono does NOT work for Lyme.) 100mg twice a day, exactly every 12 hours. Sadly, the new protocol for Lyme (no matter if you just got bit or have been suffering with symptoms for a while) is 2 weeks and that's it (it used to be a standard 3). You will be booted off the medicine even if it has been working and your symptoms are starting to lessen. The symptoms will return with a vengeance, and you will be told you have PLDTS "Post Lyme Disease Treatment Syndrome," and you will suffer for the rest of your life. You will probably also be told the symptoms are all in your head and you are actually mentally ill. The very term "Post ANY Disease Treatment Syndrome" doesn't make sense. It means the treatment didn't work or wasn't long enough. Back to the drawing board! Healers are supposed to heal. Lyme disease is complex and has complex effects on the body, but its treatment is NOT that complicated! Start with antibiotics until the symptoms go away + a little longer to make sure the bacteria are dead/not reproducing or whatever the technical term is.

MY FIRST BIG PIECE OF ADVICE: If you don't have a bulls-eye or if you test negative for Lyme but know you got bit by a tick or some other insect and can't get any help, SKIP THE LYME DOCS AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE DOCS who will give you the runaround (they are also trusting this silly "2 weeks of antibiotics and no more" protocol that's coming down from "the top" of officialdom somewhere--2 weeks even if you did not get help immediately and may have major symptoms already) and find yourself a REGULAR doctor who understands how antibiotics in general work, will prescribe the DOX HYC for as long as needed. The possible side effects of long-term antibiotics is far less than leaving a horrible disease untreated. In fact, for any disease where you're taking antibiotics, you should be asymptomatic for at least one week before you go off them. For Lyme, you may need to be asymptomatic even longer, especially if you had symptoms for a while before being treated. The bacteria associated with Lyme is incredibly stubborn (and does this "laying low" thing) once it gets into your system.

MY SECOND BIG PIECE OF ADVICE: Don't listen to all the blithe advice about how to avoid getting tick bites: "Just take a shower after hiking! Just spray on DEET! Just wear long sleeves and check yourself all over your (naked) body with a hand mirror after being outdoors!" NONE OF THESE REALLY WORK. It's true that ticks don't fly (they generally attach when you brush up against vegetation), but they do drop out of trees on you, are present on other surfaces besides vegetation, and they are little heat-seeking missiles that find you immediately and immediately attach to your shoe, pant-leg, etc., and begin climbing up you to a warm area: back of leg, neck, armpit or anywhere. "But I just stepped outside for 3 minutes and it wasn't that overgrown!" Exactly.

MY THIRD BIG PIECE OF ADVICE: Stay out of nature. I mean, completely. Don't even put your foot on grass. Don't stand under a tree. I'm a big nature person. I was going to be an ornithologist and I love hiking, being outside, exercising outside, etc. Forget it. Lyme is not worth it. Ticks not only carry Lyme, but at least 8 other diseases AND THEY CAN GIVE YOU MULTIPLE DISEASES WITH ONE BITE. Are you safe on the beach? Nope. Ticks are in those blades of grass around the beach AND man's best friend (woof!) drops ticks all over beaches where the ticks wait in the sand to attach to humans. Other critters and birds also drop ticks everywhere.

MY FOURTH BIG PIECE OF ADVICE: Lyme is EVERYWHERE and SPREADING, including in Europe (where they are being much more sane about properly treating people, and they're developing a vaccine). Take up URBAN HIKING. Strap on that backpack and hit the cement far from any vegetation. Watch Animal Planet for your nature fix. Ticks are active from March to November (but supposedly not after the first hard frost, but they do awaken during the January thaw!). July/August is their peak month. I feel so sorry for the younger generation (esp. in New England and other Lyme hot-spots) who can't enjoy nature like we used to. We were never, ever bothered by ticks, not even disease-free ticks while I was a kid, teen and young adult. I spent hours and hours laying in the grass, climbing trees, bushwhacking, hiking, mountain climbing, running through fields, strolling through the woods. I avoided asphalt like the plague. Never, ever again. Lyme is still a fairly new epidemic and it's only getting worse. I will literally be a prisoner now during the Summer. I will stay inside and enjoy looking at nature through glass and screens OR sip lemonade in the shade of skyscrapers downtown.

A FINAL NOTE ABOUT LYME: The symptoms of Lyme are very creepy, scary, serious, disconcerting and depressing. Every part of your body has been invaded and you can feel all the morphing, recurring action continually. But it's never too late to fight back--even if it has been years since you got bitten! Get on those antibiotics and stay on them! It will take weeks/months to feel better. You may need intravenous antibiotics. Read the stories and articles below (I personally know Diana and Lori). I've also heard that some homeopathic stuff helps, too, but DO THE LONG-TERM ANTIBIOTICS FIRST.


AMY TAN'S STORY: (Yes, Amy "Joy Luck Club" Tan)
If this can happen to someone as high-profile and intelligent and well-respected as Amy Tan, it can happen to anyone. Please read her extremely helpful and horrific account carefully. Please note that she was bitten by a tick in its "nymph" stage, didn't get a bulls-eye, what happened each time when she went off the antibiotics too soon, how Lyme can initially affect different people in varying ways but all within consistent parameters. Also note how faulty the testing is (when you can even get it)! Also note the GOOD Lyme organizations she mentions.

In 1999, a tick dropped out of a tree and bit her in Boston. She contracted Lyme, but it didn't show up until she was back in Miami a few days later. No one knew what was wrong with her and they put her on the wrong antibiotic. She grew sicker and sicker. She finally decided to go back to Boston where it happened and was lucky to connect with an excellent doctor who tested her for Lyme (she was positive), put her on months of oral DOXYCYCLINE HYCLATE (and told her if that didn't work he would start intravenous DH). She also needed steroids for some mild brain swelling/inflammation and Advil liquid-gels for the joint pain. She was exhausted all the time, gained a lot of weight, had brain fog and memory issues, took frequent naps, had no energy, and sported huge purple circles under her eyes. But the months of antibiotics worked. After she got off them, the Lyme did not return and it took her a full 2 years to get her energy back and feel like herself. Diana had "neurological Lyme":

"Neurological complications most often occur in the second stage of Lyme disease, with numbness, pain, weakness, Bell's palsy (paralysis of the facial muscles), visual disturbances, and meningitis symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, and severe headache."

Lisa lives in the U.S. South, got bit by a Lyme tick and was misdiagnosed. After 3 years without treatment she wound up in a wheelchair. Once she was diagnosed and began antibiotics, she got out of her wheelchair after several weeks and is now cured. She still has a little numbness and tingling at times, but that's it. What took the remaining burning sensations away after the antibiotics cured her major symptoms was a homeopathic tincture of black walnut, wormwood and clove that has to be taken together. Why? Because each substance is toxic to the bugs in each different stage of growth. BUT ALWAYS DO ANTIBIOTICS FULLY FIRST. Use the tincture EXACTLY as directed (never overdo) because this tincture can be toxic to humans, too!

Two years ago in August, I got a clear-cut case of Lyme in Boston. I got bit on my calf one night outdoors (I felt it. It felt like pinchers or a sting, not like a mosquito bite). You often don't feel a tick bite, but if you're allergic to them--which I must be--you do feel them, and your bulls-eye can develop immediately. It was a little itchy, I didn't even look at it (I was wearing thick socks over nylon stockings covered with DEET which the tick bit through within 10 minutes of my going outside). The next morning the site felt weird so I looked at it. A nice, large, clear Target-logo bulls-eye had formed. I went to ER, the doc took one look and said: "We don't need to test you. Here's a prescription for the antibiotic DOXYCYCLINE HYCLATE." I took it for 2 weeks, no symptoms developed. No sweat. At this point in my life, and being from New England, I thought I knew something about Lyme Disease. But I didn't have a clue.

This August, again in Boston, I was carefully staying away from grass, woods, nature, vegetation and didn't walk on any vegetation, but was outdoors near woods with lots of overhanging trees. I made the fatal mistake of sitting on an outdoor wooden bench under a tree for about 15 minutes (again, I didn't so much as walk on grass). (The tick might have been on the bench and crawled on me then, biting me 10 minutes later as I walked down the road. See Amy Tan's story below about avoiding wooden benches!) I got bit on the back of my neck. I again felt the unusual bite (which DID feel like that first tick bite) and brushed the back of my neck with my hand. I didn't feel any tick there and it was all smooth. When I looked in the mirror (it was hard to see the spot and I should have asked someone else to look also) I saw the faintest bulls-eye in a large red (but not perfectly circular) area. I did not think this was a tick bite and just ignored it.

not my back (got this from online), but this is what it looked like, however, my bulls-eye was even fainter

It wasn't itchy at all. No symptoms for two days. The third day I woke up with horrible flu-like symptoms: burning up, sweating, muscle aches, joint pain, quasi-diarrhea, weird feelings coursing throughout my body, heart and head, very frequent urination, strange fatigue. The bite site was burning and 3 bumps with "heads" or "blisters" on them appeared that looked more like bedbug or spider bites (in an exactly even row). I knew my ailments were connected to the bite because of the intense burning and radiating from the bite site and the instantaneous, synchronous concurrence of everything. I still didn't think it was a tick. The symptoms were awful, but I hoped they'd just go away. They didn't.

this is my back

I waited a full 3 days before I went to Urgent Care on the 4th day (6 days after the bite). The Urgent Care P.A. was kind but not that helpful (was trying to separate my symptoms from the bite, and kept talking about tularemia for which I did not have symptoms), did a "Rapid Lyme Test" that came back negative and sent me on my way with no antibiotics. I began to realize my predicament! I was going to have to suffer for weeks and take multiple tests that might come back negative over and over, and therefore I wasn't going to get treatment! The bulls-eye had now faded into the 3 bumps that were now fading (I got the pic above to show future docs).

I waited 4 more days before trying again (getting worse and worse with horrible nights--I had to take sleeping pills and even then I could feel everything still, but at least I could get a few hours of sleep). On the 9th and 10th nights, the worst symptom of all occurred: the warmth that was radiating from the site went up my neck up into my head until my brain felt like cold jell-o and the pressure built up in my head on all sides and felt like it would explode (and I'm someone who never, ever gets headaches). So on the 11th day since the bite, I went to ER where a brilliant young P.A. gave me everything I needed in 5 minutes: "So, you got bit by something and are having these bad symptoms. It could just be some disgusting bug that infected you with some disgusting bacteria, but it seems like Lyme because it's moving around your body. That's very typical of Lyme. We need to get you on some antibiotics to feel better while you figure out exactly what you have." She prescribed 2 weeks of DOXYCYCLINE HYCLATE, which I didn't know then was exactly for Lyme (I hadn't remembered which antibiotic I was on 2 years ago), and exactly what I needed. I took the capsules faithfully for 2 weeks and immediately the symptoms diminished to about 50-40% of their intensity, but just stayed at that level. As I was about to go off the meds all together (in the end, my symptoms had reduced to 10% on the last 2 days of the DOX HYC and I was having good nights), I asked the  general practitioner ER doc what to do if I still had symptoms. I got a terrible answer: "Antibiotics aren't like aspirin: you pop it and the symptoms go away. With antibiotics, you do the course. In this case, it's two weeks. You will still have symptoms as you go off, but the antibiotic will continue to work and your symptoms will continue to decrease." I did not know what bad advice this was at the time, and even though I was skeptical, I decided to trust the doc and the "science."

The very first night when I missed my nightly dose? The Lyme symptoms came back with a vengeance. As soon as I lay down, I could feel "it" entering parts of my upper body where it hadn't been before: my shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, and my heart got worse (a kind of heaviness, racing and irregular heartbeat all at the same time). The next morning, I immediately tried to get back on the DOX HYC but a different, non-Lyme doctor (not from the Northeast) who was helping me was told by a pharmacist in Boston (Boston!) that I should be on DOXYCYCLINE MONO. My doc trusted the Boston pharmacist and I went on DOX MONO for 3 days (which did nothing and I continued to get exponentially worse). After 3 1/2 days off of DOX HYC, I got back on it for at least a month. (Thank God for my understanding doctor!) It was like starting from the very beginning again--the two weeks of progress had been wiped out--but it began working immediately. I am presently on DOX HYC for at least a month and slowly, slowly getting better daily (and nightly). Stay tuned.





September 2, 2019


Hey, are you in radio? I can send you this 30 sec. spot as a .wav file & you can help fill the world with more nuns! Merci! Obrigado! Thank you! Grazie! Gracias!  Email me:

August 11, 2019


Don't forget to go after Big Pharma, too, kids! Big Pharma needs you to be sick, to have a problem and take their drugs for a lifetime!

(Notice that the trans-industry has to create a problem and then solve it. Like mouth wash, hair and skin products, teeth whitening...basically all advertising.)

August 5, 2019


The justifiably eagerly-awaited third installment of the 1980’s sci-fi pre-teen protagonists action thriller is here. On Netflix. And it’s not the end! Stay tuned for Part 4.

Part 1 was family fun and family friendly, Part 2 went too far in language and aggressivity—almost to the point of my not being able to recommend it—but Part 3 is back, much more like Part 1, much more appropriate, but preserving the non-stop tension, stakes and intensity. Lots of intensity.

I want so much to unequivocally like this series, but I’m still a bit ambivalent. It has a lot of good stuff in it, but not even a whisper of human beings acknowledging God. There’s no religion. Nothing. (Perhaps a more accurate reflection of 2019, but not 1980’s Middle America.) There’s only evil, evil human beings and good human beings. We’re on our own to face the monsters.

I’m going to do this review in bullet form: 

 --Seems no one has anything else important to do besides sleuthing (and saving the planet). No jobs, school, etc.).

--Wynona Ryder just gets better and better. Good sets. ST respects kids’ intelligence and the identical twin young writer/director brothers know it’s good to be a kid.

--Only the young girl can slay the dragon (Middle Ages, anyone)?

--Parts of ST are just so good and so human. Things slow down and we take time to be human. In real time. Real human time.

--Great concept: “DOOR between worlds.”

--Part 3 is much more manic, fun, funny, tongue-in-cheek, day-glo shiny and kid/pre-teen friendly.  Fun, fun study of the 80’s. ST is so self-consciously 80’s (not bad for filmmakers born in 1984) with the greatest soundtrack that actually fits and isn’t “greatest hits” or cheeseball. Sadly, still a lot of “JC” and one  “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD” (so I guess there is some God in it—I’m dead serious, this counts in a very negative way). But overall an attempt seems to have been made to make it more kid friendly again.

--Fine acting by 2 slightly older young adult men (Steve & Billy, especially Billy).

--11 (El) is learning to be a human being.

--At times, ST3 is only and all about pre-teen “dating.”  All about. With some terrifying sci-fi and maybe some real sci-non-fi thrown in.

--A little bit of feminism here and there—(mostly the girls building up their confidence), but fairly OK (not radical feminism). ST thoroughly enjoys hearkening back to a slightly simpler, slightly more wholesome time. I find that Millennials really love the 80’s for that (and SEE the 80’s as a time of innocence, something like the 1950’s, except for the LANGUAGE coming from the “mouths of babes.”)

--Hopper, the chief of police, tries to be Dad to El—does good, then turns into an idiot again (he’s never been a paragon of virtue).

--Frightening and grotesque disfigurements here and there when the creature(s?) strikes. Although the creature-enemy-monster is a run-of-the-mill, gummy mouthed blob, the terrifying thing about it is that when you chop it up, each severed piece takes on a life of its own. (Gives new meaning to “divide and conquer.”) Bits of torture. Lots and lots and lots and lots of intense prolonged violence by youth and often directed at youth. Lots and lots of continuous high-stakes action. The kids are heroic.

--Not a lot of parental supervision. Not all parents are bad examples or buffoons in ST. Some great parents and parenting moments.

--Our young stars are growing up gracefully. They are age-typical (if sometimes not exactly age appropriate), not smartypants or smart alecs to adults (only to each other).

--Interesting story line that makes sense with its own mythology / gooey mouthed creature which is a little scarier because it’s spider-like (and spiders usually are female in art…hmmm. Will this be an “Aliens” thing in the end)?

--S3: E6 The monster presence (never resting, always on a mission) starts as a kind of sense of evil, wanting to take over everything like Satan. Satan’s one job that keeps him very busy is getting you to hell. He has so much work with so many people to ensnare and get to damn themselves. Good portrayal of good vs. evil.  THE EVIL SEEMS TO BE GROWING LARGER AND LARGER. I don’t know that the depth of all the symbolism has been totally thought out, but it pretty much works.

--“Back to the Future” pop culture reference. Some smoking (making a comeback in films these days).

--Some de rigueur loose morals among adults.

--The Monster to El: “You let us in, now you have to let us stay. We built it for you and now we are going to destroy you and then your friends and then everyone.” My spiritual director said: “Satan would like nothing better than we all kill ourselves.” Very apocalyptic. Very much for our times with rising suicide rates and the ongoing, multi-dimensional Church crisis. Vigano: “To fight and win with Mary the battle with the ancient dragon.”  “Your opponent, the devil, is like a prowling lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith.” –St. Peter the Apostle

--Could ST be called a horror-comedy? (Yes, there’s quite enough chuckles to warrant it—the cherry slurpee scene alone, a good kind of campy).

--Cast of thousands--thousands of young people!

--Sweet, realistic romance, young love, how young people SHOULD  be talking to each other, how they SHOULD acting with each other (which was easier before media devices silenced everyone). HUGE JOHN HUGHES FEEL.

--For all her superpowers, Eleven/El needs Mike and can be fragile. She never acts "superior" to the others, but instead is trying to fit in.

--One gentle, sensitive “coming out” scene. Young adult guy hits on girl. Young adult girl sez she wishes Tammy was looking at her…. That’s it.

--“WHAT DO YOU WANT???” Billy to monster before monster takes him over (like a possession). Why Billy the lifeguard? Why anyone? Satan wants everyone. He has one job that keeps him very, very busy till the end of the world. ST3 really made me think so much of this! The gooey monster(s) divides and separates and lives on and just never goes away. Such hatred of humanity. Can’t help but think of the devil.  Spider-like (and spiders are always scary. And gross. And female?) Evil is powerful, getting bigger, makes weird, sticky, liquidy, chortling sounds. If you believe we’re kinda nearing the End Times or at least the Great Tribulation/Chastisement in real life? This film will feel prescient.

--As the great American mall dies today, it was thriving in the 80’s  (now we know what killed the great American mall! LOL).

-- I’m in awe of these young North Carolina dude filmmakers who understand the glee with which we people of the Cold War used to say “commie b*st*rds!”—of course, angelic moi did NOT say that—the Duffer Brothers must have been listening to their parents/parents’ friends. ST3 also proves, once more, that the Russkies make the best bad guys, the best USA nemesis, and we miss the good old days.

--These kids are pretty heavily NERD KIDS. They would have to be to be involved in the investigative/espionage/combat  they’re involved in.

--As bombastic and seizure-inducing as ST is, there’s also something cozy and comforting about it.

--“SHUT DE DO’ KEEP OUT THE DEVIL!!!!” THE DOOR!!!! THE OPENING!!! THE PIT OF HELL that will one day open during the final battle (see the Book of Revelation)!  A NEWS REPORT ON A TV SEZ: “ARE ALL THESE TRAGEDIES LINKED TO AN INCREASE IN SATANISM?” (That could be a Freudian slip, or mocking the 1980’s upsurge in preoccupation with Satanism, and seeing Satanic symbols everywhere and behind everything.)

Such a great comment! I was trying to see what medal he was wearing and I kind of missed all this! So, of course, the "life guard" has to go first! ⚜

From my research on ST2, it seems the kid actors themselves really got into using the foul, blasphemous language themselves (even to the surprise of the filmmakers who wanted to cut it back a little) and demanded that they say it.

July 26, 2019



The movie-making and entertainment bar has just been lowered to a depressing new low. Seth Rogen (who brought you “Superbad” and “Sausage Party”) has a new, raunchy, “R”-rated film entitled “Good Boys” about three middle school friends who innocently get caught up in today’s depraved culture. A new line has been crossed with this show. It’s something NEW, something evil. Watch any iteration of “Good Boys” several different trailers and you will weep. You’ll wonder how a more-or-less mainstream creative mind—such as Rogen’s--could come up with something so devilish. Actually, it’s not that his mind WENT there, but that he EXECUTED this complete degradation of young people—a previously taboo, off-limits maneuver.  Think about it. I’m sure plenty of studios and screenwriters and producers and actors and show-runners have dreamt up nasty story-lines involving kids--but basic human decency prevented them from moving forward. That is no longer the case.

You see, when you call something a comedy, especially an “over the top” comedy—wink, wink…anything goes, even  the dismantling of childhood (although I would suspect even some comedians known for their lascivious adult stage shows will agree that “Good Boys” goes too far, because…kids). It’s open season on kids if you haven’t noticed. We are destroying our children and youth through neglect, porn, lack of parenting, removing boundaries, questioning the very concept of childhood, allowing unbridled media use—not to mention gaslighting them with false gender ideology. And legally? We’re quickly smashing anything that protects young people from adults who wish them different types of harm.

Even if something is fiendishly clever and thereby also humorous, what we audiences actually choose to watch and what we actually laugh at says a lot about OUR character. And we’re complicit by our support and by feeding ourselves with refuse like “Good Boys.” What greater mockery of goodness could we have than wishing to corrupt youth at younger and younger ages? Men are the initiators of the gift of love and life. It’s bad enough that—in the absence of strong, noble fathers/father-figures/mentors—young men socialize each other to exploiting power and the abuse of women and children (when they are called to use their power to protect women and children). Now we want to wickedly de-moralize young boys? Start ‘em off younger and younger on the wrong road?

You’ve never heard me say this before, but I hope you loudly BOYcott this film—AND squawk any way you can: to sponsors, theaters, the filmmakers, friends and family. Get petitions going. Resist. Fight back. Fight for our kids. If you care. As for Seth Rogen? He has a lot to answer for.

God does not take kindly to those who harm kids.


(I knew this day would come. If everything is just a social construct, so is childhood.)


July 14, 2019


Listen to parts 1 & 2 of interview w/ on "Theology of the Body in Art & Media" … (Part 1=July 11, Part 2=July 18)


1. The personalistic norm: "A human being may never be used. The only appropriate response to a person is love."
2. For artists, ethics ARE aesthetics.
3. The purpose of art is the same as the purpose of the body: to make visible the invisible; to reveal the deepest, unseen meaning of things.


1. Excellence in filmmaking
2. Overall experience of the film (and where is film coming from/why was it made?)
3. How does the film jive with a Judaeo-Christian, biblical, sacramental, Theology of the Body worldview?

1. Pray. Pray before, during, after the film.
2. Know thyself.
3. Hit pause. It's OK to look away / fast forward / turn off / walk away / walk out / take a stand.
4. Ask yourself: Why am I watching this film in the first place? We are always disciples of Jesus Christ and must always glorify Him in all that we do, including our media/digital lives. Will watching this film glorify Him? (Even if it might be objectionable in parts, am I watching it to study it and help myself and others? Never use "I'm studying it" as an excuse!)
5. Be brutally honest about how this film is affecting you, body and soul. How it's affecting your relationship with God, self, family, others, enemies, all Creation.

June 17, 2019


Good new doc from Vatican Congregation on Catholic Education entitled "Male & Female He Created Them: Toward a Path of Dialogue on Question of Gender Ideology in Education." Skeletal but good start. My 2 cents (nuances) below.

Here's the document itself:


--#11-12 The definitions of “sexual orientation,” “transgenderism” and “queer” are slightly different than my (current) understanding of them (since language, too, is subject to fluidity!) and I think could have been defined with more nuance, precision and explanation.

--#16 This statement is not clear to me: “welcome all legitimate expressions of human personhood with respect.”

--#17-18 “A further positive development in anthropological understanding also present in writing on gender….” then is quoted a portion of the Church’s thinking on “femininity” (that radical feminists to not agree with, I assure you!) not general/secular “writing on gender” (unless the point is putting the Church’s contribution on the same level as “gender studies,” which is not a bad idea). However, the new document goes on to outline--lopsidedly--only women’s sacrificial self-giving and motherhood, while nothing is said about men’s sacrificial self-giving and fatherhood (which is a huge, huge problem in the Church itself today)! We then wonder why young men aren’t formed into responsibility and handling their life-giving powers well! On top of that, we disparage men for not doing what they’ve never been taught/challenged to do. This fact, rightly, is what feminists of different ilks bring to our attention: women are just automatically expected to serve others because it’s their “special gift.” What about the men?

--#24-25 After describing the condition of intersex (without naming it as such) the document in the next breath lumps “intersex” (which means born with certain biological indeterminacies with regard to sex in varying degrees, including genes, genitals, neurology, etc., often with characteristics of both sexes) in with transgender (as a psycho-affective condition). However, it’s OK to call the condition of being born intersex “intersex” without deeming it to be a “3rd sex” or negating the reality of male or female, or using it to support the notion of transgender.

I would also be very, very careful about saying ONLY medical professionals can determine which sex (male or female) an intersex baby is! Medical professionals have often determined wrongly and intervened toward a sex that the child growing up does not feel themselves to be! (The intersex community rightly gets very angry about this!) Some cases of intersex are slight, but others are more complicated. The parents can make an educated guess (with the help of medical professionals) and begin organically, gently raising the child toward one sex or the other without medical intervention. Let the kid figure it out as they grow up. Wait to do medical interventions (even till after puberty and into young adulthood). The intersex person knows who they are. For an intersex person to choose medical interventions for themselves when they are physically and emotionally mature enough has nothing to do with transgenderism. It’s treating and correcting a physical disorder as one might choose to medically correct any other physical disorder. But neither is the intersex person obliged to do this. 

Here is a very good article about a (blended) family who have two intersex girls. The first XXY child had a medical intervention towards male, but she grew up feeling female (and hips and breasts developed in pre-teenhood)—which caused her much grief and pain (and physical violence)! The second XXY child they did no intervention on, and at five years old, she has gravitated to being female.

--#30ff As stated in the subtitle of the document, the Church is hoping for “dialogue” with families, school, professionals, society, etc., participating (always with an acknowledgment that parents are the first educators of their children) regarding the best information and milieu for children regarding sexuality. (It does mention Catholic schools specifically, also.) However, the home is truly the best locus for this. I believe the best support would be educating parents’ groups (often along with their teens at the same time), and helping them prepare their younger children for today’s hypersexualized, pornified, misinformation Sexual/Gender Revolution culture. See resources here:  

Although we can always hope for true dialogue, and we must keep trying, the well-heeled, ever more powerful global LGBTQ+ movement has made deep inroads into law, governments, military, sports, education, teachers’ unions, media, news, entertainment, courts, academia, bio-ethics, hospitals, etc., and into the Catholic Church itself. We need an emergency-crisis-mode mentality. A wedge is being driven between parents and their children by many of the above-mentioned entities, now to the point that children can be legally removed from their homes by case workers to they can live as their “true selves” (viz., transgender—which the child has falsely been indoctrinated and persistently affirmed that they are) in a “trans-friendly”home/environment.

--#40 “Tolerance” is not a Christian virtue. Charity is. True charity is willing and doing the good of the other. "Tolerance applies to people, but never ideas. Intolerance applies to ideas, but never people." --Fulton Sheen

May 30, 2019


"No one, no one tells young women how their body works. I know people who graduated from med school knowing only how to tell women to take the Pill."

OF COURSE, I disagree with her advice to go ahead and do condoms/contraception "if you're having sex with random people." Don't have sex with random people.