East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"

East Of Eden

An addendum to the "pursuit".



My friend David passes along an interesting little tidbit on the phrase "the pursuit of happiness" related to my post here. He writes:


"During the times of the Founding Fathers, the pursuit of a something meant to practice. There was the pursuit of law or the pursuit of medicine, for example. The pursuit of happiness didn't necessarily equate to 'chasing after'."

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Imitation of life.

One of Philly's many murals. Taken by me in summer 2010.
I've been a fan of Rod Dreher for a few years now. I've followed him from Beliefnet all the way over to The American Conservative where he blogs now. Back in 2010, when he was editor-in-chief at Big Questions Online, he sent me an email query about writing for that site (it never panned out). Last year, he linked to one of my blog posts and I wound up with a huge page view increase (thanks!).
Rod's writing (and his photos, I wish he'd post more) combine depth, intelligence, rationality and heart, not an easy task for sure. He has Southern charm and some Northeastern bite, a trait to which this Jersey girl can relate. All this (earnest) fawning comes as a...
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The Pursuit of H̶a̶p̶p̶i̶n̶e̶s̶s̶ Meaning

Walking out of "The Pursuit of Happyness" starring Will Smith years ago, I was moved. I wiped away a stray tear and asked my dad and stepmom their opinions of the movie. My dad loved it. Kathy had mixed feelings. "I wanted to see where he had made it to the top. The money, the cars, the bling! I wanted to see some of the happiness!" I shook my head. "It's in the pursuit...".
I was reminded of this as I read through "There's More to Life Than Being Happy" by Emily Esfahani Smith at The Atlantic. To have the most satisfying life, some studies show, we should pursue meaning in place of the ever fleeting happiness. Some excerpts:

In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in...

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What makes art religious?

What constitutes religious art? It seems sacrilegious art is much easier to recognize on sight. Simcha Fisher writes:
Some of it [religious art] is stark, some gentle, some lovely, some weird, and some of it just plain hideous, but it all has one thing in common:  it at least tries to direct people toward God.  (And of course secular art, just like someone who isn't even religious, is also capable of leading people to God, often unintentionally.)  You'll notice that this is a very broad goal.  There are as least as many paths to God as there are human beings, and what works for one person might seem like pure crap to another.  But all religious art that strives for that title has...
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That dang problem of evil.



This essay at the New York Times by Susan Jacoby, The Blessings of Atheism, got me thinking. Some excerpts:


IT is primarily in the face of suffering, whether the tragedy is individual or collective, that I am forcefully reminded of what atheism has to offer. When I try to help a loved one losing his mind to Alzheimer’s, when I see homeless people shivering in the wake of a deadly storm, when the news media bring me almost obscenely close to the raw grief of bereft parents, I do not have to ask, as all people of faith must, why an all-powerful, all-good God allows such things to happen.

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Spilled Milk


This past week has been a busy one. Spent more time with my dad than I had in years. My nephews and niece all packed into our apartment for a Wii bowling challenge on Saturday. On Tuesday, I sat for hours with my brother and Dad at a diner discussing theology, apologetics and the Godhead. On Thursday, I took Zoe to the park and Barnes & Noble. She swung, giggled and chased two different blond boys in circles.

It's Saturday again, and I'm laying in bed home alone. My mother-in-law, Everis, who has been visiting with us from Trinidad the past few weeks, is out shopping. K and Z are out, too, spending some quality daddy-daughter time together. I should be feeling happy. A busy week full of family, Everis' delish Trini cuisine...

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She's sexy and he knows it.




Did you hear about the dental assistant who got the pink slip from her long time boss for being too "irresistable"? This story was ridiculous to begin with, but the more I read, the worse it sunk. From ABC News:


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I got a shout out!




I got a shout out from April Byrd of Breath of Life Daily (BOLD). She's a very talented writer and incredibly positive and uplifting. And, she has the cutest little Southern accent. Check out her 2012 wrap up.


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On being a world explorer...

I found a new book I'd love to read (and gift to friends): "How to be an Explorer of the World : Portable Life Museum" by Keri Smith. 

From Brain Pickings Weekly:


As a longtime fan of guerrilla artist and illustrator Keri Smith’s Wreck This Box set of interactive journals, part of these 7 favorite activity books for grown-ups, I was delighted to discover her How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum (public library) — a wonderful compendium of 59 ideas for how to get creatively unstuck by engaging with everyday objects and your surroundings in novel ways. From mapping found sounds to learning the language of trees to turning time observation into art, these playful and poetic micro-projects aren’t just a simple...

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Not Christian, yet Christ-like.



On Facebook yesterday I wrote as a status: "I'm realizing more and more that some of the best followers of Christ have nothing to do with any churches. How God works through...". I wrote this after scrolling through my friend Jenn M's page. She's not Christian or any other religion. I wouldn't say atheist, either. Maybe some combination of deist and agnostic. Whatever. The point is, she's no Jesus Freak, but she constantly extols many Christ-like virtues. This girl is giving, so very giving. She'd give a person in need the shirt off her back without blinking (of course, maybe if I had her rocking abs, I would, too). She thinks on good things- on how blessed she is to have a home, an amazing family, clothes to wear (or give...

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"The Notebook"

From CBS Las Vegas:

A top Hollywood director finds it acceptable for people to commit incest.

In an interview with The Wrap, director Nick Cassavetes believes no one should judge a brother and sister being with each other if they are in love.

“I’m not saying this is an absolute but in a way, if you’re not having kids – who gives a damn? Love who you want. Isn’t that what we say? Gay marriage – love who you want?” Cassavetes told The Wrap. “If it’s your brother or sister it’s super-weird, but if you look at it, you’re not hurting anybody except every single person who freaks out because you’re in love with one another.”

Cassavetes added that he does not have experience with incest.

The comments come after he unveiled his latest movie...
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A little more about the Syrophoenician woman

After mass on Sunday, I spoke with my pastor, Father Ros, about the story of the Syrophoenician woman and also the blog post I had read that portrayed Jesus in a racist light. He rolled his eyes and asked me to please forward the post to me. By the way, my pastor is a blunt, to the point Dominican dude who use to pastor in the Bronx. I love his straightforwardness and his eyerolls.

He sent me back a few links in response, so I figured I'd share them with you all.

From Lectionary.org:

"We are shocked at Jesus' response.  "Let the children be filled first, for it is not appropriate to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs" (v. 27).  This is one of the most troubling verses in the New...
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Where are the men?






I've asked before why do you go to church. Another big question, even more pressing is why so many men don't. Over at Black and Married with Kids, Frederick Goodall answers the question, seven times over. Here's a few:

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Zoe's First Tweet

At just 17 months, Zoe commandeered my Twitter. Her first tweet? The very simple, but very strong, "u".

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I walk the line.

Over at The Church of No People, the ever-brilliant Matt explains why being a political moderate is not a position of acquiescence or of being milquetoast. Also, I have no idea why I'm using SAT words before 9AM, but my Keurig brewed iced mocha coconut coffee is supreme. Anyway:

On Monday, Matthew Paul Turner (you may know him from Jesus Needs New PR) made a political confession:

He hates Christian moderates.

He thinks they’re wishy-washy and they don’t know what they believe.  Or they just want people to know what they don’t believe.  Or they are just hanging out in moderate land before returning to familiar ground on the election.  They parrot talking points without having an original thought.
I have to agree.&nbsp...
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On that crappy Youtube trailer, the violence across the Middle East & more.

A protester in Indonesia. (Source)

I honestly don't know about the latest round of mess that has broken out across the Middle East and the Muslim World

I don't know what to think.

I don't know what to write.

I do know it was nice to pray about this on Sunday at church.

I also know there is A LOT of other folks out there who have put much thought into it, and have written much, so I'd rather share what I've been reading than pontificate without a point.

 Al-Mahdi boy scouts protest in Lebanon. (Source)

Over at On The Media, Sarah Abdurrahman focuses on the crappy movie trailer of "Innocence of Muslims" that ignited the firestorm, and notices some funkiness with the dubbing.

One thing that is immediately evident...
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The Next Christians

On Sunday, on my way to church I caught part of On Being which featured a chat with influential Christian writer Gabe Lyons and Focus on The Family's Jim Daly. Yesterday, while making breakfast, I found it online and listened (helps make feeding oatmeal to a fussy toddler and the subsequent clean-up much more palatable).

Anyway, if you get a chance, I recommend giving it a listen. It's long, but the discussion covers a number of pertinent issues facing todays Christians, from politics, poverty, divorce and the Church's declining influence in today's culture.

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Are Black Pastors advising their flocks not to vote?

I found this story particularly interesting since historically, the Black Church, and especially it's leaders, have pushed hard for civic involvement, from voting to civil disobedience if need be. From the New York Daily News:

The Rev. A.R. Bernard, pastor of the mostly African-American Christian Cultural Center in New York, earlier this year. Bernard said President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage "put a question in our minds as to what direction he's taking the nation."

Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. That's a worrisome message for the nation's first African-American...
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Digging for roots.

Yesterday morning, I made an online purchase. A couple, actually. Z needs a Fall jacket and a winter coat. So I got them.

Then, I purchased a DNA test for my mom.

It's been years in the making.

My Mom, me and Z last week.
When I was 12, I found out my mom was adopted. I still remember that day. My mom was in the bathroom, I was in the kitchen, and my dad was watching a football game in the living room.
It was autumn. Mom's adoptive mother, Nana, had passed in July. I was turning over in my head all I knew of my mom's childhood. It just didn't fit. Some thing. Some things. Her adopted sister Catherine had been up for the funeral. They talked about old times. But there was something off. 
Growing up, I had...
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If you came here from Mark Shea's blog...

Welcome! I'm glad you clicked the link. Please come back soon!

I figured I'd write this to answer a few questions that might be floating around in your head.

What is wrong with you?

Haha, I get this question a lot. Mainly, because I'm kind of weird. But also, because I have a variant of Chronic Inflammatory Demyleniating Polyneuropathy (CIDP). You can read more about that here.

I started feeling "off" about seven years ago, but it was such a minor thing then, it didn't interfere with my everyday life. Plus, my doctor told me I was fine and I was just probably stressed. Fast forward to 2009, and about six months after my wedding, things began to fall apart. I was constantly tired, and I had intermittent numbness and what felt like...

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