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All personal blog posts that are my own opinion.

A Creation Liturgy [CD Review]

A Creation Liturgy [CD Review]

Gungor is one of my favorite bands these days. Read my blog over at Austin Catholic New Media where I review their latest CD release.

This month, the Denver-based Christian-collective, Gungor released a new album entitled A Creation Liturgy. This past Spring, I wrote a review on an EP released by the band The Brilliance, also based in Denver, after a concert I attended here in Austin featuring both bands. I’ve wanted to write a review of their music for a year now, and this release provided the perfect opportunity to bring them back into conversation.

It might seem odd that a Catholic blogger would continue to do reviews covering Protestant-written music, but I think we have a lot to learn from these talented musicians. I’ve also been pointing out a growing trend of other Christian musicians that seem to be discovering more of the treasures the Catholic Church has to offer.

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Why I Visit Churches

Why I Visit Churches

Travel is one of my favorite things to do in life. Not to go to superficial locations like Disney World, but rather to experience cultures. Read my blog post over at Austin Catholic New Media entitled Why I Visit Churches.

Beauty is the most universal form of communication for Truth. Not only is beauty totally giving, never asking for anything in return, beauty never needs translation.

Like many people, I find God to be very visible in His creation of nature. I’ve had many powerful encounters of prayer in beautiful outdoor settings, and always find myself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually renewed after long encounters with nature. Everywhere between the high mountains, hill country, deserts, oceans, and everything in between, I have sat in awe of the magnitude of beauty that our God created.

As an artist, I find landscapes to be some of the most boring pieces of art. While I’ve seen many works that highlight parts of the wonder of nature, art is still found lacking in comparison to the reality. There is still some value to that art, but I have found it more memorable to see the scenes in person.

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Tech and Catechetics

Tech and Catechetics

Our youth live in a world of extreme media consumption. Many of us today are never phased by the amount of time we spend staring at a screen or the amount of screens we have in front of us any given time of the day. It is unmistakable that our American culture is over-saturated with technology. As the world changes, our catechetical ministry and approach must adapt.

Pope Paul VI called the Second Vatican Council the great catechetical event of our time. This was because of convening a council to fight a heresy, it was called to bring the Church into the world discussion and find ways to clarify her teachings and how she presents them to modern man. It’s important to note that while presentation changes, the Truth remains the same.

As Christians, we are all called to daily live the vocation as teachers and examples for the world. First, we are to teach about Jesus through our lives. Vatican II serves as a reminder to all of us that we have to read the signs of the times in order to communicate the Gospel more clearly and effectively.

The contemporary cultures requires that we reach out to youth through their language of communication and technology. It demands that we exceed their expectations, or else we risk being ignored and considered as irrelevant as a cassette tape.

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Overcoming Failure in Evangelization

Overcoming Failure in Evangelization

There is nothing sadder than seeing someone turn away from Christianity, especially from the Catholic Church.

It breaks my heart every time. Even more so when they are friends or family.

It’s a God given right to choose not to follow Jesus, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

“If there were no God, there would be no Atheist.”

-G.K. Chesterton

In His infinite Wisdom, God gave us complete freedom to choose to love Him or not. This is difficult. The hardest part is that Catholicism proposes the way to true fulfilment in life, but the cross doesn’t always appear like an attractive path towards happiness.

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Catholics Aren’t Scared

Catholics Aren’t Scared

Catholics don’t run for the hills. We don’t run away and hide to give in to the spirit of fear or despair. Catholics aren’t scared.

In times of war, famine, disaster, and tragedy, we Christians are not called to look away. It is our call to act in charity to protect the weak, care for the wounded, and comfort the mourning.

Even for those that don’t believe in God, this makes some sense for the good will of man. If there was no creator,then we would be left to do everything ourselves, and there would only be hope if we pulled together and did it on our own. This is where a lot of people, even Christians, get it wrong. We’re not on our own, and thank God for that because we wouldn’t be able to do it on our own. Only a complete dependence on God will get us through.

Now stop and take a look around your life today. We don’t have to look around too far to see the brokenness of this world and the cloud of confusion that has caught up the culture.

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Standing While I Work
Standing Desk

Standing While I Work

For generations, the average office job required that we sit down for most of the day. As the culture has become more dependent upon technology, man has had to put less effort into his job and many of us spend what is considered a sedentary lifestyle.

I find this very depressing. Man was not created to be caged up sitting staring at screens and pushing buttons. It used to seemed so sad to think the George Jetson could be so exhausted after a long days work of pushing buttons. Thinking about it now, I can relate to him. A long day at the office can leave you feeling exhausted even if the work wasn’t very laborious.

I’m not originally from the city. I grew up in the country and know what hard work really means. I know how it feels to be  physically exhausted from a long day of near-back-breaking work.

I remember the times when every minute of the work seemed to be slower than the last, and was inspired to get an education to never have to depend on work like that again.

I love the blessing to be able to be a creative professional and have the opportunity to create and come up with new ideas every day. Although I’m left wondering if there’s a way to get a better balance of the physical back into my daily work.

The Dangers of Inactivity

Even if you spend some time regularly exercising, the majority of our lives can be wasted sitting. There is a largely disproportionate time spent sitting, sleeping, and not moving as compared to physical activity. This increases many health problems because God did not create us to be so inactive. I recommend reading and listening to this article on NPR.

It’s possible to help counteract it by taking routine breaks and sneaking in more regular activity. For me, this is difficult because good ideas don’t always come at a constant flow, so I stay focused to try and execute it before it’s lost and I have to move on to something else. I was stuck at my desk the whole day and even if I got in a good run or workout in the day, it was only a small drop in the bucket against the time I spent inactive.

My Transition To A Standing Desk

After reading many terrifying articles about the dangers of sitting all day at a desk, I looked into a solution that had been growing in popularity with the creative community – a standing desk.

After weeks of research I had come up with a strong plan to approach my boss with the idea. At first, people seemed very surprised at the very idea. They often asked, “are you really going to stand all day?” I would respond with my argument that it’s a much better idea than sitting all day.

Even though I have my own office, people would stop by for months after just to ask me whether or not I ever sit down and then why I did it. The idea caught on to a few other people in the building, but they do alternate their time sitting and standing. I sit for my lunch and on my drive to and from work and it’s enough.

Standing all day brings a new liberation not only for my formerly constricted blood vessels and muscles, but it was new freedom for my creativity. I understand why the creative community is one that embraced it so quickly.

While I am already standing, it’s easy to walk around and think out solutions. My work has also improved and my work efficiency has increased. I would say there is an overall general improvement in my entire work ethic.

Yes, I am a little tired at the end of the day, but it’s a much better tired feeling than it was before.

Converting Workstations

If you’ve considered converting to working while standing, I highly recommend it for anyone that is physically capable. If you feel that you can’t handle the whole day, get a stool that will allow you to transition in between standing and sitting at different times. I had to do this temporarily for a few weeks after I got a knee injury from a workout.

If you are going to go all in and do standing only, I highly recommend getting an anti-fatigue standing mat. I tried this after a few months and it really makes a big difference. I also suggest trying good shoes. It will help your feet, knees, and back in the long run.

When looking at what to buy for you own desk, I recommend trying http://www.ikeahackers.net/ first to try and hack together a solution for a fraction of the price of a pre-built standing desk. If your main workstation is in a cubicle, those are often the easiest desks to convert because they have notches that can be raised with little effort. If you have a close workstation with your co-workers, I recommend reading  this article from LifeHacker.

Once you convert over to standing, ergonomics is just as important as it is while sitting. If not carried out properly, there can be some health risks to standing all day too.

My personal desk is still a sitting station, but the balance works great for me. It’s now been almost 15 months since I converted, and I hope I never have to go back to sitting all day again.

Standing Desk

My Current Standing Desk

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Thoughts Are Not Enough in Tragedy

Life is full of many what ifs. Tragedy is something that we never want to experience and never wish it upon anyone. On the evening of July 19, 2012, many people across the country set out to watch the midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises. Many of us have been excited for this release for months, or even since the release of the last Batman movie. We were all expecting news of new records of viewers, not news of senseless murders.

Suffering always brings up many questions. As with most midnight premiers, the majority of those in the theater were under 40. Many family members and friends will never see their loved ones in this life again. How could God allow one man to do such a horrible sin against people he didn’t even know?

It’s somewhat sad that we have to feel it close to really recognize pain, while so many parts of the world endure war zone conditions frequently. I lived in Colorado for a few years before moving here to Austin. I lived in East Denver for a while, near Aurora, and went to that very theater on a few occasions.

 

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Crickets, Crickets Everywhere!

Crickets, Crickets Everywhere!

Did you see something move out of the corner of your eye? Well, chances are that it wasn’t just your imagination.

Unless you’ve been hiding somewhere, you’ve probably noticed that our part of Texas has been overrun by crickets for the past few weeks. It’s almost to Biblical plague proportions, or at least it feels like it.

An unusually warm winter and spring in combination with other weird weather patterns, have led to a huge surge of the chirping critters to come earlier than normal and with higher fertility rates. Private homes, to public spaces, and even worship spaces have been occupied by crickets.

These insects may be relatively harmless, but I often find them most distracting at mass. When they irreverently chirp during a homily or limp under the kneelers trying not to be squashed, it’s hard to ignore them.

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My Armor Is Made of Brown Wool

My Armor Is Made of Brown Wool

The time when we could comfortably practice our faith may have passed for our generation in this country. We will continue to stand in defense of our religious freedom, but even if it is protected, the world won’t stop attacking us.

We as the Church militant have a fight before us that may not require swords or guns, but the battle is real. We fight for souls, and we need to be ready.

“Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.”

Ephesians 6:11-13

While this scripture has a deep and symbolic meaning, our Catholic tradition provides us with a very wonderful symbol, or sacramental, that reminds us of this Truth daily.

 

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A Musical Reflection on Lent by The Brilliance [EP Review]

A Musical Reflection on Lent by The Brilliance [EP Review]

A few weeks ago I went to the most unique Christian music concert I have ever attended. As an artist, I always enjoy supporting the arts that help to promote the faith in visual art or performance art, but I don’t think I saw this coming.

On March 1st, I went to the Gungor concert at Grace Covenant here in Austin, and it was truly amazing. I most impressed by the opening band, The Brilliance. Both bands take their musicality to new heights experimenting with multiple instruments, poetry, and simple prayer, but I will leave Gungor for another time.

Usually contemporary Christian music makes me think of artists like Matt Maher or Jackie Francios, and then there’s the older forms of Christian music that go back a few centuries like Gregorian chant or the comparatively-more-recent classical based on prayers or even the mass. It’s hard to put The Brilliance in a category with any of those.

 
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