Big Family, Special Needs

F: Of course, you have an unusual family, and people notice that right away. You have ten children, and six are your own… M: They’re all my own! F: Oh, God bless you, that’s true, they’re all your own. Six are biological children, four are adopted children. You put the words to it, tell me about your children. M: We like to say that our six biological kids are the ones we made all by ourselves—our “homemade” ones—and the other four we picked out of the catalog. [laughing] Our four adopted ones have special needs, although our oldest one has resolved most of his special needs.

Why I Abandoned “Choice”

I was the first feminist in my dorm. It was 1970, and there wasn’t a lot of feminism in South Carolina, noteven at the state university. I was proud to be one of the pioneers. One of our goals was to repeal the laws against abortion. I had a bumpersticker on my car: “Don’t labor under a misconception: Legalize abortion.” A couple of my friends who had unplanned pregnancies went to New York for an abortion, at the time the closest place where it was legal. I cheered them on. Abortion was to me proof of feminist commitment, evidence that you would lay your body on the line for the cause of liberation.

Alice in Wonderland

This is not your grandmother’s Alice. Though the title is the same, director Tim Burton did not film a new version of the classic novels by British clergyman and logician Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Instead, Burton and screenwriter Linda Woolverton have moved the action forward 13 years. Now Alice, almost 20, is attending a garden party where the unappealing son of a local lord intends to propose marriage. Fleeing him, and pursuing a white rabbit, Alice kneels at the base of a tree and peers down an immense hole. Then she falls in.

Lent–Why Bother?

Lent is a time of year to remember that God has seen fit to make us, not airy spirits, but embodied human beings living in a beautiful, material world. The soul fills the body the way fire fills a lump of coal, and what the body learns, the soul absorbs as well. Spiritual disciplines, like fasting, are analogous to the weight-lifting machines at a health club. One who uses them in a disciplined way will be stronger, not just when he’s lifting weights, but for every situation that he meets.

Avatar

[National Review; December 20, 2009]In Avatar’s opening moments, hero-to-be Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is waking up on the planet Pandora after a cryogenic journey, and reflecting on the twists of fate. Here he is, a paraplegic Marine, filling in for the twin brother who actually trained for this mission. But right before Tommy was due to ship out, “a guy with a gun put an end to his journey, for the paper in his wallet.” 

Building a Temple

[Ancient Faith Radio; January 21, 2009] F: I’m here in Macon, Georgia, being driven to the shuttle that’s going to carry me back to the airport so I can fly home. I’ve been speaking this weekend at Mercer University and Wesleyan University, and also last night at St. Innocent OCA Church. My driver this morning is Tom Kehayes. He was telling me last night about how this church happened to be built. We’re driving at dawn, and it’s lovely; the mist is rising, and I’m sure the deer are stalking around in the woods on this two-lane road. Suddenly out of nowhere there’s an opening and there’s a Georgian church—a perfect replica of a church in the nation of Georgia, is that right?

Abbot Seraphim

[Ancient Faith Radio; January 14, 2009] F: I’m here at Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, West Virginia. A Russian Church Monastery here in a “holler”—a sort of bowl in the mountains, where a valley comes to an end with the mountains rising on all sides. It’s a lovely monastery. Fr. Seraphim, you were saying that it was founded in 1986 in St. Louis, and then moved to this location. Would you say something to listeners—those who are new to Orthodoxy or outside Orthodoxy—on the question, “Why monasticism?” It can look like a self-indulgent choice—you just go off, take it easy, and other people support you—but it’s very much not that way.

Nick Chakos of IOCC

[Ancient Faith Radio; January 1, 2009] F: Today I’m in Towson, Maryland, in the offices of the IOCC, International Orthodox Christian Charities. When was IOCC founded? Nick: It was founded in 1992, sixteen years ago. F: I’m speaking to Nick Chakos, Development Officer, in Nick’s office here at IOCC. I’m a proud momma because my son Stephen has begun working here recently, and I’d never been to these offices before, even though it’s just around the beltway; you’re north of Baltimore, only about a half-hour drive from me. I’m really glad to be able to see this place. I’m sure there are some listeners who have never heard of IOCC, or might have heard of IOCC but don’t have a clear idea of what IOCC does. I was surprised to find that it’s a much broader outreach than I was aware of. I thought you did lightning-strike work, like the Red Cross—you go in, do emergency supplies, and go out again. But you get much more involved in the life of the community. Tell me a little more about that, and some of the places where IOCC is working.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

It’s the little things that count. Director Wes Anderson has always been good with the little things, filling movies like Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tennenbaums (2001), and The Darjeeling Limited (2007) with extraordinary, eye-catching detail. In Fantastic Mr. Fox the things are littler than ever, as the tallest actor is only 18” high. This film is an example of stop-motion animation, in which tiny figures are photographed, moved a fraction of an inch, and photographed again. It takes 24 photos to create one second of smoothly-moving screen time, so this kind of animation represents an enormous amount of labor.