Speeding and Sinning

04/19/2015

We live in a unique area here at the northeast tip of Lake County, Illinois. Drive due south along picturesque Sheridan Road and it’s a 50-mile city and suburban drive to Chicago and parts south of the city. Drive due north along Sheridan Road and it’s a city and suburban drive 50 miles north to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Can’t drive east. Lake Michigan gets in the way.

But drive five miles due west and you’re in the middle of pasture, horses, and farmland.

This morning, I needed the wide open spaces.

We were late for church. We’re Kwiecinskis. We’re late for almost everything, much to my wife’s chagrin (poor Kathy; she obviously was not born a Kwiecinski). St. Patrick’s is south and west of us.

To make matters worse, Martha and I were scheduled to read. Mass was going to start in 20 minutes. It’s a 9-mile drive if we stroll through the country, only 8 miles if we head south on Sheridan. But the shorter route is the city route. Lots of traffic lights. Slower speed limits. More traffic.

The choice was obvious. Head for the wide open spaces and pray for no squad cars.

As we’re careening southward on Kilbourne Road, I’m thinking about the second reading. The reading I was going to be reading.

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
his commandments.
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him. – 1 John 2:1-5a

“What happens if I get tagged for speeding? We’re two minutes from church. One of us needs to be there in two minutes. If a cop starts following us, he can arrest me at church.”

Yes, I’m actually thinking this on the way to church.

So we don’t get stopped, we get to church (in two minutes), plenty of time to prepare before Mass begins, all good.

Was speeding to church sinful? Was I being a hypocrite?

Are we all liars who do not carry the truth inside us?

Or does God already understand that about us?

(And as I’m putting the finishing touches on this, watching the Blackhawks vs. Nashville playoff game, you can only imagine the sins spewing outta my mouth…)

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

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Fifty Shades of Grey or an Old Fashioned Valentine’s Day?

02/05/2015

So… what’s your idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day date? Dinner? Then maybe a trip to the show? What movie? Fifty Shades? It’s opening Valentine’s Day weekend. I’m sure you knew that.

Why that movie?

What’s the attraction?


I’ve never read a word of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I do know what it’s about, though.

How can you avoid it? It’s all over social media. And television. Even a Super Bowl commercial. And now, you can even buy your sweetie a Fifty Shades teddy bear.

Seriously? Are you kidding me?

So… ladies… and gentlemen, if any of you are so inclined…

Clue me in.

What is the attraction of fantasizing about a relationship in which a naive young lady is coerced into a relationship with a man — not much older than her, but certainly more street-wise (if “manipulative” serves as a working definition of “wise”) — who subjects her to demeaning sexual acts?

Just because the dude is good looking?

Come on. If that’s the case, the overwhelming popularity is outrageously troubling.


I am not a prude.

But I do consider myself a gentleman.

Would it be an over-generalization to suggest that most of you who find this story fascinating would (or actually do) prefer an abuser to a gentleman in your life?

Please don’t be mad at me for asking the question.

Please respectfully consider what attracts you to the story.

Is it the sex?

Hey, if that floats your boat, the choice is yours. I am the last person to judge.

But I am compelled to ask:

Have you considered the impact of stories like this on your children?

The world is getting faster. News travels fast.

So do Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram and Pinterest “messages” (yes, I’d say those images have the potential to be far more powerful than a Facebook conversation; or rant).

What does your thirteen year old daughter think about Fifty Shades?

How about your ten year old daughter?

Or son?

How much information do they have about the story?

Are you sure you know the answer?

The world is getting smaller. News travels fast.

Yeah. They’re too young. I’m sure nobody their age talks about sex. Or relationships.

Do you think they have a clear idea of what a healthy relationship looks like? Or how to treat a member of the opposite sex? Or how they should be treated by a member of the opposite sex?

Just askin’.


Someone in a Facebook group I’m a part of — I forget where I saw it exactly, but that’s not necessarily relevant — shared a blog post discussing five themes in Fifty Shades. If you’re at all concerned about how your kids might react to any knowledge of this movie, why don’t you give this post a glance?


So… what’s your idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day date? Dinner? Then maybe a movie? How about Fifty Shades? It’s opening Valentine’s Day weekend. I’m sure you knew that.

Why that movie?

What’s the attraction?


There is an alternative. I wonder if you’ve heard of it.

It’s called Old Fashioned.

Let me ask you a question. What would you consider more romantic? A story that examines the concept of “true love?” Of what really matters in a relationship? About honor and dignity?

Or a story that reduces relationship to physical encounter?

Just askin’.

If you’d prefer the former, permit me to direct you to the movie’s website.


Old Fashioned isn’t getting the play that Fifty Shades is. Budget was a little smaller.

As in, about $600,000.

Yep, that’s it. Less than one million dollars.

But Old Fashioned is getting a fair share of attention. And not just from Christian or religious media.

Christian Toto, on breitbart.com, says:

“Hollywood is betting that the release of 50 Shades of Grey, the film adaptation of the sexually tawdry book of the same name, will be a hit with movie-going couples on Valentine’s Day weekend. One indie film begs to differ.”

But you would expect a conservative website to promote a movie like Old Fashioned, right?

Well, that’s not the only press the movie has received. Check out what Jenna Mullins at E! has to say about the film (personally, I’d say calling Old Fashioned “a clean, religious version of Fifty Shades of Grey” is a bit of a stretch, but…).

And Emily Blake at mtv.com says:

“There’s a faith-based film about ‘old-fashioned courtship’ hitting theaters on the exact same day as the sinful, S&M-filled adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Pretty strong words for the Sex, Drugs, and <insert music genre of choice> Network!

Variety, The Daily Beast, International Business Times, and other secular news sources have all covered Old Fashioned‘s direct challenge to Fifty Shades of Grey.

Erin Bishop, Founder and President of The Whatever Girls Ministry, said it best:
“Lust lasts a moment, but true love lasts a lifetime!”

Moms and dads, did you click on the link for the blog post I mentioned above? Don’t be angry with me for suggesting it again. It’s well worth your time.


One has  a multimillion dollar budget. The other was made with a $600,000 budget.

One has been anticipated since 2012. The book has been out since 2011. The movie is highly anticipated.

The other is largely unknown.

One depicts exploitative sex under the guise of romance. The term “mommy porn” is used to describe it.

(Nice.)

The other depicts a romantic chivalry.

One is Fifty Shades of Grey.

The other is Old Fashioned.


Hey, if you had your heart set on seeing Fifty Shades on opening weekend… well, I hope I convinced you to at least think twice about seeing it. But if not…

won’t you at least give Old Fashioned a chance?

If you’re bound (YES! pun intended) and determined to see Fifty Shades, no matter what this prude-who-claims-not-to-be-a-prude is telling you, will you make it a point to go see Old Fashioned, too?

If not for me, will you do it for your kids? Your nieces? Your nephews? For the kids next door or down the block?

If we can seize this opportunity to make the slightest bit of difference — even if the box office numbers of Fifty Shades dwarf those for Old Fashioned — isn’t it worth it?

If not for you, for your kids.


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