Stop The Soundbite Forecasting!

I stopped paying attention to The Weather Channel several years ago. Why? Because of notifications like the one showed in this image.


According to the National Weather Service, rainfall in the Atlanta area is 17 inches below normal (National Weather Service, 2016) and local forecasters are predicting anywhere from 1.5 inches to 3 inches or more over the next 48 hours (Hill, 2016).

Three inches of rain does not end a severe drought, especially when we are looking at 17 inches or more. In fact, short term rain may postpone worse conditions, but unless there is a significant change to the weather pattern (Mellish, 2016) our drought is likely to continue for a considerable amount of time.
I understand the need for short messages in mobile notifications, but the Weather Channel began “soundbite forecasting” a long time ago. They do a great disservice when they hype events like this, because they are gravely mistaken if they think the drought is over simply because we will finally see two days of rain after little to no measurable rainfall for the past 42 days…


Hill, Jeff. (2016). Rainfall Totals Forecast. Retrieved from

Mellish, Kirk. (2016). Drought in much of Georgia. Retrieved from

National Weather Service. (2016). Rainfall Scorecard, Retrieved from

A Heart Full Of Obedience

Last week, thousands of people turned out to show their support for Chick-Fil-A. Comments made by Dan Cathy, the Chief Operations Officer, sparked a media firestorm when he confirmed that he and his company support traditional families that include a husband and a wife. When Cathy made this statement, almost a month ago, there was no question about his Christian faith and there was no doubt that Chick-Fil-A is operated on Christian principles. In fact, the only reason his comments stirred the public into a frenzy is because the media itself chose to introduce an element of hate into the public dialogue.

By suggesting that hate may be the sole motive for those who support the biblical definition of marriage, the media tried to spin the message into something it was not. They tried to portray everyone who supported Cathy’s statements as anti-gay and filled with hate. While some people turned out to show support for his freedoms of speech and religion, many also turned out to show their support for the company’s Christian values and their stance supporting the biblical definition of marriage. Across the country there were no reports of violence and there was no anger, but if you listen to reports from the mainstream media you might believe that the entire event was nothing more than a giant, nationwide hate-fest.

In light of these recent events, a gay friend of mine asked me to read an article about the evils of Chick-Fil-A “with an open mind” and by doing so I might “have a bit more understanding”. Of course, that statement by itself implied that I have a closed mind and that I might not understand the importance of this issue within the gay community. Ironically, I had already read the article in question with an open mind, and I fully understand the significance of Chick-Fil-A’s charitable contributions and the affect those contributions may have on my gay friends. While I do not condone some of the actions and statements by representatives of the charities in question, I still support Chick-Fil-A and the fact they operate under Christian principles and values.

20120807-223255.jpgOn August 1st, I showed my support for Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A. I did so because I support our right to express our own views, I support our right to exercise our own religious beliefs, and yes, I support the biblical definition of marriage. I possess no anger for people unlike me, I do not hold grudges, and I harbor no hatred for gay people. I am no bigot, and I would like to see everyone treated equally, but with that said, marriage is much more than some shiny object that can be passed around and divided equally among us. I believe that man and woman were made for each other, that God created them to be a communion of persons, who share in the act of Creation and transmit human life to their descendants (CCC 372). I support God’s plan for the sacrament of Marriage. I support the biblical definition of marriage, but that does not make me close-minded, it makes me Catholic.

If my mind was closed, I would not have spent more than five years and thousands of dollars operating one of the first AIDS/HIV Information bulletin board systems in the nation. If my mind was closed, I would not spend countless hours donating my time to the poor, the needy, the oppressed, the neglected, and the abused. If my mind was closed, I would not have African-American friends, Chinese friends, tall friends, short friends, fat friends, skinny friends, non-Christian friends, and yes, even gay friends. If my mind was closed, I would not be Catholic. If I have learned anything since my conversion to the Roman Catholic Church, it is that I need an open mind to fully understand Christ, his passion, his suffering, and the many gifts of grace we receive from Him simply because we believe.

Marriage is clearly defined in the bible. From Genesis through Revelation, in every chapter and verse that refers to marriage, man and woman are referenced together. At this point I could list dozens of biblical references to marriage and its definition, but that would be redundant for the purposes of this article because the bible cannot be taken out of context with random verses tossed in just to support my argument. Doing so might lead others to believe they can refute God’s plan by tossing out their own non-related references and what would that solve?

As a Catholic, I trust in the Holy Spirit to guide the Church especially in areas where our own opinions and desires may cloud our judgment. With that said, I believe the institution of marriage is ordered to the procreation of offspring (CCC 1652), and God himself is the author of marriage (CCC 1603). I also believe that no matter what we, as human beings, want to think, “marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes” (CCC 1603). If God himself is the author of marriage, who are we to redefine or modify it? Just as the definitions of adultery, murder and gossip cannot be changed, neither can the God authored, biblical definition of marriage.

20120807-223559.jpgIf we take a step back and look at the issue at hand, it really is about tolerance, but not tolerance for “gay rights” as much as tolerance for accepting each other, and the true definition of who we are as human beings. Nothing about the biblical definition of marriage makes someone a “full member of society”, and nothing about being gay makes someone a “second-class citizen” simply because they can or cannot marry, either. This week, some people have referenced divorced Christians, remarried Christians, and drug addict Christians in their argument in support of gay marriage, but since when does pointing out the flaws of others make you a better person? By focusing on the flaws, rather than the gifts we each bring to the table, we are doomed to intolerance aren’t we? As we get lost in the semantics of this argument, where is the tolerance for God? Where is the tolerance for following God’s law? Where is the tolerance for responsibility of our own acts? If you believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible, then you know that this tolerance comes from God.

In the end, this controversy was no controversy at all. The media tried to run with a message of hate when in fact the true message was love all along. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but he never told us to ignore the laws of God or to turn our back on the Sacrament of Marriage. No matter how we look at it, God is the author of marriage and His definition of marriage will never change. This is not an equal rights issue or a human rights issue, it’s an obedience issue. When all is said and done, the bottom line remains that we can make up thousands of excuses for not obeying God, but a life of faithfulness and surrender requires us to possess a heart full of obedience to our one true loving God.

An Honest Review With No Additives

20120620-192637.jpgA few weeks ago I wrote about eFoodsDirect and their awesome emergency pantry foods. Through the generosity of eFoodsDirect, I received a package containing their Tortilla Soup, Creamy Potato Soup, and Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole.

The Tortilla Soup was very delicious. As I mentioned in my review of the Tortilla Soup, it was so good that I ate three bowls. The next item I decided to review was their Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole.

The directions for making the Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole were quite similar to the directions for making the Tortilla Soup. Bring water to a boil, whisk in the contents of the pouch, and cook for a few minutes. Does it get any easier than that?

20120620-193233.jpgAs I poured the pouch into the boiling water it smelled really good. Like any other packaged rice meal, I knew it was going to take a bit of time for this one to cook. I lowered the heat and settled in to read one of my textbooks while it cooked.

With five minutes remaining on the timer, I decided to check it, and I was a bit disheartened to see that the mixture had not thickened up as much as I thought it would have. The Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole contains rice, cheddar cheese, peas, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and sea salt. It also contains autolyzed yeast extract and hydrolyzed corn protein. This matters, and I will tell you why in a few moments.

This product took much longer to cook than the directions indicated. After 25 minutes of cooking, it was nowhere near cooked, in fact some of the rice was still crunchy. I had to cook it an additional 15 minutes, at which point I decided to take it off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Even then, it needed an additional 10 minutes before it thickened up enough.

20120620-194145.jpgAs I waited for the food to thicken, I finished reading the package. It contains 912mg of sodium, 7 grams of protein, 14 mg of cholesterol, 2 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of saturated fat. The sodium content is much higher than that of the Tortilla Soup, and I was a bit nervous that this product would taste a bit salty.

The first bite was quite delicious. My first thought was, “This is real good, I could eat this everyday, forget emergencies.” The texture was just right, given the amount of cooking time, and I continued to eat the Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole.

Four or five bites in, I noticed a strange aftertaste. I picked up the package to review the ingredients and that is when I noticed the autolyzed yeast extract and the hydrolyzed corn protein. As someone who suffers from adverse affects of eating foods that contain processed free glutamic acid, I have to be careful not to eat too much of those foods. Ingredients that always contain processed free glutamic acid are autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed corn protein, and the more commonly known ingredient, monosodium glutamate.

20120620-195819.jpgI did not suffer from an adverse reaction to the processed free glutamic acid, and I never figured out what was causing the strange aftertaste following each bite, but I decided not to push my luck by eating any more of the Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole. I did not suffer from a reaction when I ate the Tortilla Soup either, which also contains both ingredients. The mere presence of those ingredients does not mean I will always suffer from a reaction, but I was not taking any chances.

In summary, I think the Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole serves its purpose as a food stored for emergency preparedness, but it did take much longer to cook and the strange aftertaste left me a bit perplexed. eFoodsDirect asked for my honest opinion about their products, and I honestly hope they work to remove additives like autolyzed yeast extract and hydrolyzed corn protein from their ingredients for these products.

Through The Mirrored Glass I See…

I have joined several different groups on Facebook, and I enjoy participating in the discussions on many of them. Sometimes, however, I find myself biting my tongue (or sitting on my hands in this case) because someone says something or does something that completely throws me for a loop.

In one of those groups, a conversation revolved around the death of Rodney King, and whether or not we, as a society, should celebrate the death of criminals among us. As some argued that his death should be celebrated because he was a criminal, others argued that we should never celebrate the death of another human being.

I am pursuing my degree in Psychology, so I found the entire debate about human dignity (or the lack thereof) quite interesting. I have known some of those participating in the conversation for most of my life, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for them and the others participating in the discussion. I found their positions to be quite insightful, especially given the topic at hand and the fact they are all present and former law enforcement personnel.

20120620-154614.jpgThe conversation quickly devolved into a series of personal disagreements and derogatory statements. The focus of the conversation was no longer about Rodney King or his death, but rather a series of petty attacks and disagreements against each other. I am amazed that a conversation which was revolving around the human dignity for a criminal who died could transform and become an example of the lack of respect and human dignity we have for each other, here in the land of the living. I suppose I had higher expectations because I know most of these people, but it comes as no surprise that someone who cannot respect the human dignity of others around them (and living) would have none for a criminal who has died.

In the e-book, True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty, Cardinal Dolan wrote, “If we are divinized reflections of God, created in His image and likeness, then we ought to treat ourselves and others only with respect, love, honor, and care.” So the question remains, does Rodney King deserve respect and human dignity in death? At what point do we draw the line and determine that someone does not deserve the same basic respect and human dignity as all other human beings? Is it our place to draw that line, let alone cross it?

While some will see this post as sympathy for criminals among us, or imposing my religious beliefs on others, I hope many more will see it as a wake up call. If we do not respect the human dignity of others, why should we expect that respect ourselves? At the end of the day, when we sit back and watch the standards of our society swirl down the drain, maybe we should be looking at ourselves.

Food For Thought

When the economy tanked, we were lucky. Oh sure, I lost my job, our finances were ruined, and eventually we lost our house, but we were lucky because we had taken some time to can foods over the weeks and months before I lost my job.

My wife had taken an interest in learning to preserve foods, so we were going all out. By the time I was laid off, we had corn, peaches, pears, pickles, pinto beans, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, blackberry jam, blueberry jam, muscadine jam, apples, potatoes, and a few other things on our shelves.

I cannot stress the importance of having some sort of food reserves on hand, in case of financial or natural disaster. I have been under- or un-employed for the past three years and those reserves came in very handy during the times we literally had nothing else to put on the table. As a volunteer for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, I can tell you that the number of people who are facing a food security crisis in our community is staggering.

20120603-202437.jpgeFoodsDirect is a company that provides an excellent solution for those people who want to build up their food storage whether it is for economic reasons, disaster preparedness, health considerations, or just overall food security. I recently received a package containing three free samples and decided to write a review for each product in the package.

I received a package containing their Tortilla Soup, Creamy Potato Soup, and Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole. Each meal comes in it’s own envelope, which you add to boiling water, and is ready to eat in under 30 minutes. Each envelope contains four one-cup servings (or two hearty servings). The envelopes are durable and have a shelf life of more than 20 years. The Tortilla Soup would not expire until February 13, 2027, if I had not eaten it this afternoon.

20120603-202655.jpgWhen I opened the envelope for the Tortilla Soup my nose went nuts. It smelled absolutely delicious. The aroma was quite similar to many fresh tortilla soup recipes I have tried in the past, so I was actually excited to try it. Twenty minutes and four and a half cups of water later, I was eating delicious Tortilla Soup.

The soup contained black beans, red beans, potato, cheddar cheese, onion, carrots, green chili, garlic, corn, sea salt, red peppers, and of course, pieces of tortilla. It did not look the greatest, but I think that is to be expected with a bean soup of any kind. As with many packaged products, the sodium content was a little high at 451mg per serving, but it contained 4 grams of protein, zero cholesterol, 3 grams of fiber, and only 0.5 grams of saturated fat.

20120603-202251.jpgThe product was very tasty. It was so delicious that I ate three bowls. With the first bowl, I followed the package directions and included some butter for additional flavor. I did not add butter to the second bowl, because I would not have butter on hand if I was facing some financial or natural disaster, and I wanted to give an honest review for the product. Either way, the soup was absolutely delicious.

To tell you the truth, when I received the package I was a bit skeptical, but after trying the Tortilla Soup, I honestly believe eFoodsDirect delivers a good product and I can hardly wait to try the other two. Through a special offer from eFoodsDirect, in remembrance of the disaster in Japan last year, you can save 50% on their 7-day Pantry Pack, or 40% off their Soup and Entreé pack. Just make sure you use coupon codes ‘Food50’ or ‘Food40’ when checking out. Where else can you get 7 days worth of food for $24.95? Over the course of the next few days I will be reviewing the other two products separately, giving my honest opinion about each one of them as well.

Secular Theology:The Effect of Anti-Catholic Media Bias on the Catholic Community

       Newspapers and news magazines have long been a mainstay for information and keeping up to date about the world around us. The Internet has increased accessibility and dramatically changed the way people gather and read their news, but it has not changed the perception of bias within today’s print media. Publishers learned long ago that sex, scandal, and controversy would sell copies, so it is not surprising that Catholics would perceive an anti-Catholic bias within those publications. In an age where abortion, sexual promiscuity, and same-sex marriage are commonplace, faithful Catholics find themselves at odds with many of the morals and values portrayed in today’s media. This anti-Catholic bias, whether it is simply perceived or otherwise, has a negative impact on the Catholic community.

       The perception of anti-Catholic bias does in-fact exist within members of the Church, therefore it is imperative to prove the reasons behind it. Rev. Avery Dulles, S.J., a Jesuit priest, provided an example of this perception when he wrote, “The church seeks to promote unity and reconciliation, minimizing discord and dissent. The news media, however, specialize in disagreement and conflict which evidently arouse greater interest and boost circulation” (Dulles, 1994). At first glance, his statement implied that the media is not merely biased, but was simply attempting to sell copies of their publications by creating an element of disagreement and conflict. Although every publication is in the business of selling copies, it is not logical, nor realistic, to conclude that all media outlets create hype in order to increase their bottom line. Dulles offered another reason for the perception of an anti-Catholic bias by pointing out that, “most newspapers and magazines have no professionally qualified reporters in the field of religion” (Dulles, 1994). Articles summarizing sporting events should be written by someone who knows the sport they are covering, and financial reports would not be credible if the writer did not possess a basic knowledge of our financial system, so the same should be required of those writing about religion. The veracity of information comes into question when the person writing it has little to no training or has limited understanding of the subject.

       Catholic journalist Amy Welborn acknowledges, “Reporting on the Catholic Church is quite a challenge, given the historical depth and complexity of the subject matter” (Flynn, 2008). Given the complexity of the subject matter, it is no surprise that many reports contain inaccuracies. In a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, one-third of Catholics surveyed could not name the four Gospels, and 45% did not know that the Church teaches the bread and wine used in Holy Communion actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ (Pew Research Center, 2010). Welborn also offered her own recommendation for her fellow journalists in the print media, “Deepening their knowledge of the Church would be a step forward for journalists covering Catholicism… This does not mean losing objectivity, but reporting on events in their proper context” (Flynn, 2008). Her recommendation supports the position that anti-Catholic bias exists because of misunderstanding and ignorance rather than an intentional bias against the Church.

       The Los Angeles Times has a history of providing editorial space to those who appear to write from an anti-Catholic prospective. For example, Tim Rutten wrote, “Many Catholics worry about a Vatican that fires an Australian bishop for speaking in favor of ordaining women and married men, but declines to act against a Belgian prelate who unapologetically admits to molesting young boys” (Rutten, 2011). His statement appears to be a valid argument against Church hypocrisy, but Rutten purposely misled readers by failing to mention that the Vatican suspended the Belgian prelate immediately, while the Australian bishop was allowed to remain in his position for five years before his removal (Wooden, 2011). In this example, Tim Rutten was clearly attempting to sway readers into being sympathetic for relaxing the rules of the Church by claiming that the Church itself was not enforcing its own standards.

       While sex scandals involving priests are definitely newsworthy, some news outlets go out of their way to make reference to those scandals while covering a wide variety of other topics within the Catholic Church. For example, during his homily at the funeral for Cardinal John Patrick Foley of Philadelphia, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City said, “any diocese that can turn out such a noble, gentle man is a church which can endure and come out even stronger” (O’Reilly, 2011). The author of the article, David O’Reilly, attributed Archbishop Dolan’s comments as “an apparent reference to the difficulties the archdiocese will face next year – a sex abuse trial, school closings, decisions on 27 priests under internal investigation for possible misconduct with children” (O’Reilly, 2011), when the Archbishop could have simply been referencing the endurance of the Philadelphia community and the effect the loss of their beloved Cardinal Foley will have on them over time. Other news outlets simply quote the most radical thinkers as if they are an example of the Catholic faithful (Seiler, 1999) and some make an intentional effort to undermine Church teaching. Although there are examples of intentional anti-Catholic bias within some segments of the media, the majority of the bias is not intentional, but rather a misunderstanding and ignorance of the beliefs of the Catholic Church.

       Tim Mattingly, director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges commented on the “amazing ignorance by some of the reporters that cover religion” (Flynn, 2008). His comments support the claims made by Dulles and Welborn, in stating that many covering religious topics should be trained and educated in the field they are reporting. This lack of knowledge and training has resulted in an anti-Catholic bias perpetuated by misunderstandings and ignorance, rather than the intentional exclusion of facts.

       The sex abuse scandal within the Church has long been a topic of discourse. While the response from the Church was nothing short of controversial to some, the reaction by the media caused a backlash of unprecedented proportions. In his book, The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice, author Philip Jenkins wrote, “the sex abuse scandal in the United States has resulted in a public outpouring of anti-Church and anti-Catholic vituperation on a scale not witnessed since the 1920s” (Anonymous, 2003). Allegations of abuse were widespread within the Catholic Church creating an illusion that the entire Church was to blame for the violations. While the investigation of criminal activity and misconduct on the part of Church authorities was completely justified, Jenkins wrote that many reports of abuse, “segued effortlessly into grotesque attacks on the Catholic Church as an institution” (Anonymous, 2003).

       Any attack on the Catholic Church is dangerous because many Catholics today are ill informed about the faith they profess. The U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, from the Pew Research Center, showed that Catholics answered just 14.7 out of 32 questions (46%) correctly (Pew Research Center, 2010). The results of this survey are not hard to believe, given the influence of today’s media. Rev. Dulles wrote, “It must be recognized that many Catholics learn about what is happening in their Church primarily, or in great part, from the secular media” (Dulles, 1994). As Catholics glean more information from the media than their Church, the influence of that media permeates their lives and begins to distort the teachings of the Church. Jenkins concluded that anti-Catholic bias, “has become so ingrained that reporters do not even recognize their own anti-Catholic attitudes” (Anonymous, 2003). Catholics do not always know their own faith, so we cannot expect them to recognize this anti-Catholic attitude either. Gerald P. Fogarty, S.J. writes, “anti-Catholicism in America today is far more subtle and perhaps even insidious in a culture where religion is too often merely a matter of private opinion” (Fogarty, 2003). Although the result was unintentional, we must realize that the media unknowingly exacerbated the problem of anti-Catholic bias in our society as they continued to report the sex abuse scandal.

       The best recourse for the Church, at this point, is to fight fire with fire. For too long, the Church has ignored the words of Pope Paul VI, who declared in 1975, “The church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful means of communication that human skill is daily rendering more perfect” (Dulles, 1994). By utilizing the media to combat inaccurate information, the Catholic Church can establish a new pattern of effective communication and proper context that would contrast the existing media bias and balance the negative messages currently being delivered. The leaders of the Church must learn to use the media as a tool to support their message, rather than to control it. Any attempt to control the message would be seen as censorship and rejected by some of their own members, let alone those working as journalists in the secular media (Dulles, 1994).

       As subtle forms of anti-Catholicism become more prevalent in our society, many people see the Catholic Church as “authoritarian and opposed to freedom of thought” (Fogarty, 2003). This message is deliberately misleading and completely unfounded, yet the Church has done little to dissuade the message from pervading society. “The Church is not without blame in this farrago of vilification. Bishops obfuscate, cardinals equivocate, and Church spokesmen prevaricate as the tide of media condemnation surges around them” (Anonymous, 2003), which is why the leaders of the Catholic Church must embrace new media if they hope to relieve tension and communicate a message that combats anti-Catholic bias in the media.

       As people continue to rely on newspapers and news magazines to keep informed, those sources of media are unintentionally perpetuating an atmosphere of anti-Catholic bias. Publishers of print media focus on stories that will sell copies, often filled with sex, scandal, and controversy and they fail to hire qualified personnel to cover the topic of religion. The consequences of their actions result in misunderstandings about the Catholic Church and ignorance of the Catholic faith itself. The Church must take a pro-active approach and begin participating in the message rather than responding to criticisms after the fact. Until they do so, anti-Catholic bias will continue to create discord and Catholics will become more secular because of that influence. While the existence of anti-Catholic bias in the media may be unintentional, it poses a threat that has a negative impact on the entire Catholic community as well as society as a whole.


Anonymous. (2003). Church rounds on anti-Catholic bias by Media. Retrieved from

Dulles, A. (1994). Religion and the News Media: A Theologian Reflects. America 171, no. 9, pp 6-9. Retrieved from

Flynn, J. (2008). The Media and Misreporting Religion. Retrieved from

Fogarty, G. (2003). Reflections on Contemporary Anti-Catholicism, U.S. Catholic Historian , Vol. 21, No. 4, Anti-Catholicism (Fall, 2003), pp. 37-44. Retrieved from

O’Reilly, D. (2011). Funeral for Cardinal Foley draws church dignitaries. Retrieved from

Pew Research Center (2010). U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey. Retrieved from

Rutten, T. (2011). Tim Rutten: Is Pope John Paul II fit for sainthood? Retrieved from,0,963466.column

Seiler, J. (1993). Pope’s visit unleashes anti-Catholic media. Retrieved from

Wooden, C. (2011). Church unity motivated papal action against bishop, Australians say. Retrieved from