7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 165)

March 9, 2012 | 62 comments

— 1 —

I’m throwing my two non-M.C.-Hammer outfits into a suitcase and now heading out to the Behold Conference today. (I know, two weekends of travel in a row. I’m insane.) Anyway, it’s been exciting to see this conference evolve. Right now it’s still more of a get-together geared for people who live within driving distance of Peoria, IL, but I predict that soon — probably as soon as next year — it will be more of a Catholic BlogHer, attracting women from all over the country. Keep an eye on this conference; they’re doing exciting things over there.

— 2 —

As I mentioned, last weekend I was in Denver to speak at the LCF Conference. They had a great turnout, with almost four thousand people attending, and everyone had a great time. For me it was a whirlwind of a weekend that involved meeting dozens of people I’ve admired for a long time, as well as having dinner with Supreme Court Justice Scalia. By “having dinner with” I mean “we were in the same room for dinner and he was surrounded by security handlers whose sole job is to keep people like me away from him, ” but I’m getting all the mileage I can get out of the “I had dinner with Justice Scalia” line.

I also achieved my goal of hanging out with Vatican astronomer Br. Guy Consolmagno:

Br. Guy J. Consolmagno,  SJ

As long as you consider “cornering him after his talk and asking him to take a picture with me” to be the same thing as “hanging out with, ” then, yeah, we totally hung out. (It’s worth noting that our photographer for this picture is one of my all-time favorite writers, Aimee Milburn Cooper, who happened to be at the conference too.)

— 3 —

One of the highlights of the LCF Conference was Br. Guy’s talk in which addressed the question: “Why does the Pope have an astronomer?” I highly recommend buying it to listen to yourself. Throughout the talk he detailed the connection between faith and science, and made a compelling case that modern science grew directly from the worldview of the Abrahamic religions. The two parts I found most interesting were:

  • He talked about the Vatican’s four-week camp for young people who hope to be astronomers when they grow up. It’s free, and kids come from all over the globe, many from third-world countries. Over eighty percent of the kids who go through this program end up staying in the field of astronomy. (He showed one picture where one of the students was a young nun in her habit. We definitely need more astronomer-nuns!)
  • I loved what he said about the Vatican’s expectations for his work. He mentioned that the Pope’s orders to him were simply: “Do good science.” Because the truth always glorifies God.

— 4 —

You didn’t think I could spend a weekend at a conference without there being at least one epic “Jen moment, ” did you? So, after the first day of talks I went out for happy hour with some of the other folks from the conference. The group included well known voices in the Catholic media world, distinguished members of theological institutes, founding members of important Catholic organizations, a highly respected priest…and me. (You can already hear foreboding Jaws music playing, right?)

I had ordered a gin and tonic when we first arrived, but was so busy socializing that I never got to it. A while later it was announced that it was time to go, and that there was no time to spare because we all had to get to the speakers’ dinner. I was about to leave some cash and walk away when I heard that someone in the group had picked up the whole tab. I looked at the drink. I considered the generosity of the person who had just paid for it. I imagined him seeing the wasted beverage, thinking that perhaps I wasn’t grateful, and silently deciding, That’s what we get for inviting bloggers to classy events! I can’t really explain what happened next, except to say that some combination of instinct, neuroses, and a misguided sense of gratitude took over and I grabbed the tumbler and drank it like a shot.

I slammed the empty glass back onto the table and turned to catch up with the group…which had not left as I’d expected, but was right there. They’d been waiting for me; and, based on the looks on their faces, had had a full view of my handiwork with the drink. I had been introduced to them as “Jennifer Fulwiler, Writer.” But from here on out I think I will be firmly categorized in their minds as, “Jennifer Fulwiler, Woman Who Can Down a Gin and Tonic in Three Seconds Flat.”

— 5 —

This upcoming weekend also promises to have some moments that will get me back to my rightful place at the #1 result for a Google search for socially awkward person. My husband flipped through Style, Sex, and Substance when it first arrived the other day, and paused at the first page. The following conversation ensued:

“Did you realize that, in the introduction, Hallie retold that story about the time you were her personal shopping client?”


“The part she excerpted was the one about how your earrings have been stuck in your ears for five years.”

“I think it’s six now.”

“Don’t you think that people are going to buy the book at the conference, read that, see you, and think, ‘I wonder if THOSE are the earrings!'”

“I don’t think they’ll wonder. I think they’ll know.”

[Looks at me with confusion and concern.]

My husband seemed to see that as some kind of action item for me to finally deal with this earring situation, but I can’t quite seem to get it onto the list of my top 1, 000 priorities. But if anyone wants to bring a wrench and a blowtorch to Behold, maybe we can get this worked out.

— 6 —

I’ve been having a hard time finding good Lenten reading. I’ve now tried three books in a row that I just couldn’t get into, for various reasons. Ideally, I’d love to find something that has challenging insights combined with a clear, direct writing style — in other words, I want He Leadeth Me under a different title. (And yes, I’ve already read the very similar The Shadow of his Wings — excellent.) Anyone have any suggestions?

— 7 —

Okay. Gosh. It’s a Friday in Lent and I’ve spent most of my time talking about perma-accessories and Olympian drinking achievements. And you thought I was kidding when I told you to vote for the Catholic Spiritual Direction blog in the About.com awards.



  1. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    Thanks so much for the link to the Vatican Astronomer talk. That I will definitely have to check out.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Leah – He gave another talk as well, called The Logos Becomes Flesh. I recommend that one too. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/x8Jh1X

  2. Marie

    Can’t say I’ll be able to help you with that earring situation, but I’m looking forward to seeing you at Behold! Could we please see the gin and tonic drink too?

  3. nancyo

    One of my favorite books for Lenten reading is Guardini’s The Lord. One of my favorite books for any time, actually.

    I finally pulled some pictures together for “where I write” which I posted as my Quick Takes. I’m sorry to have missed the boat for the linky on your writing places post.

    I’m sure you’ll have a great time at the conference this weekend but I’ll be checking this space just in case there are any “Jen moments”!

  4. Beth Anne @ The Catholic Couponer Blog

    I think a Catholic BlogHer would be awesome. I have looked into attending AlluMe a blogging conference for christian bloggers. Only time will tell what blogging conference I actually end up at.

  5. GeekLady

    At least you don’t have the noteriety of having earned, and dunked, an Aggie ring. In a pitcher of Guinness. In 71 seconds. Without being ill afterwards.

    Not that I know any good Catholic girls who’ve done such a thing.

  6. Cynthia

    Oh Jen, have you ever read “Anima Christi” by Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.?
    Honestly, it changed my life…and continues to do so..each and every year I read it. Truly, it’s a gem and should be devoured (well, not literally) by everyone 😉 A great Lenten read!

  7. Holly Rutchik

    YES!! I can’t wait to see you at Behold. And, I think I would puke if I downed a drink like that – nice work. Add it to the resume. I would have had the same mini-crisis in my head, but that’s everyday as I know you understand. 🙂 God bless your travels. I’ll be driving for a nice 5 hours before mass on Friday evening.

  8. Valerie @ Momma in Progress

    Okay, six years? I think by now I would have just ripped them out and hoped my earlobes healed. Enjoy the conference. Ah, someday I would like to attend one. I’m thinking 2028 looks good.

  9. The Licensed Fool

    Oh I loved number 4. You could try arguing that it is a special talent or an act of charity but to be honest it is always going to be hard to recover that one.

    Reminds me of a time (many years ago) that a friend was drinking a double of something blue and I was drinking Lager (ugh). He couldn’t finish it do I reached down, tipped it into my glass and drank mine up. The look on his face was worth the nausia…

    (Fortunatly I am all growed up now and don’t do that type of thing anymore)

  10. George @ Convert Journal

    #2 on Br. Guy reminds me of how we are viewed on science. Ever since the (routinely misrepresented) Galileo Galilei incident, many see the Church as anti-science. As the Holy Father’s comment shows, it is really just the opposite. The prejudice on this point is analogous to the Mary worship thing.

    My entry this week… Fr. John Hollowell responds to PP’s call for videos. How the birth control pill works (including the less publicized parts). Most efficient: PETA or PP? Untangling the administration’s lies and misdirection. A priest gets setup by a gay activist. A quote of the week. Robot quadrotors.

  11. Liesl

    Lol to #7… you got me to laugh through all the quick takes though, and it’s before 7 am so that’s quite a feat for me!

    That is so cool that you met the Vatican astronomer. I love the “Do good science” – as a chemist, I love when I can add evidence to the list of “Why the Church is not actually against science like you all think it is” when discussing science and religion with non-religious people.

    Have fun at the conference! I have a friend from DC who is heading out there – so maybe it is getting big!

  12. Rose37

    What a lovely Friday collection, hope to see some more from it…

  13. Tootie

    #6 – Have you ever read Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly? It’s a wonderful read!

  14. Natasha

    Jennifer, I took out whatever I had in my earlobes at some point during my twenties, and now all the holes have closed up (3 in one ear, 2 in another, I seem to recall), and I haven’t thought about this in years, until today!

  15. Contra

    Definitely the Church has through the ages lead the way in science. For instance, Br. Gregory Mendel is the founder of genetics and Fr. LeMaitre, SJ came up with the Big Bang Theory.

    • JC

      Yes, to name only two. Of course, people forget that Galileo himself died a devout Catholic; and it’s rare that people have even heard of the contributions to science of, for example, the (highly orthodox) Sorbonne during the high middle ages.

  16. April

    I don’t know if you limit yourself to Catholic writers, but if not, NT Wright has a beautiful book, Simply Jesus. Wright is an Anglican theologian and an exquisite writer. And if you YouTube him, you’ll hear that he has the coolest accent ever. 🙂

  17. Nancy

    LOVE your blog!
    Three great suggestions for lenten reading:
    Cross and Crown by Fr. Mader;
    Patience and Humility, A Handbook for Christians by William Ullathorne; and
    Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, The Secret of Peace and Happiness by Fr. Saint-Jure and Saint Claude
    Would love to hear if you’ve already read these. Enjoy!

  18. Sarah B.


    I’ll be at Behold this weekend with a friend. I’m very excited for everything, and I’ll be sure to stop by and introduce myself. I’ve been reading your blog since I started mine back in 2008.

    Safe travels!

  19. Jeanne G.

    You know, I hardly ever drink, but I would have probably done the same thing with that gin and tonic– I would hate to waste a perfectly good drink.

  20. Diapeepees

    Was supposed to be at the bound-to-be monumental conference (what will be remembered in the founding history of Catholic BlogHer) in Peoria, but one of my babies came down with strep…
    Thanks for the info on the astronomy…I’m all ready to send my kid off to Vatican camp.

  21. Judy Dudich

    Ah, but how can one not take advantage of the opportunity for shameless self-promotion when one has been given such an outward invitation by an awesome friend like you, Jen? OF COURSE…the perfect book for you (Devout Catholic, devoted wife, mother-of-many-who-came-to-be-in-under-10-years’-time, blogger, author, homeschooling instructor, woman of faith, busy traveler, public speaker,close pal to Vatican Astronomers, etc…) is “I Surrender” the popular new Study Guide for Women Seeking Christ as the Center of Their Daily Lives. And, in fact, my friend…I’d be HAPPY to send you a complimentary copy at your request! ::smile::

  22. Jess @ MakingHome

    Just a thought, Jen- have you ever read Elisabeth Eliot’s “Discipline: The Glad Surrender”? Maybe it’s something you’d enjoy, particularly during this season?

  23. Sharon G.

    Both my husband and I have been reading Spiritual Guidance for Christian Living A Retreat for Lay People by Ronald A. Knox. Wonderful wonderful book!

  24. amy2boys

    For Lenten reading please look up free online a posting of Venerable John Henry Newman’s essay entitled “The Mental Sufferings of Our Lord”. It is astounding.

    Also I would suggest Caryll Houselander’s Reed of God.

  25. Marjorie

    I would definitely recommend The Gift of Faith by Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer (next to He Leadeth Me this is the book I have read the most!), any thing by Fr. Jacque Phillip: Interior Freedom, Searching for and Maintaining Peace, Time for God etc. For a meaty read that synthesizes the best of the heavy hitters (St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, St. Bernard, etc., Ralph Martin’s Fulfillment of All Desire is excellent and makes you thing. Hard. If you haven’t read it, With God in Russia, the companion book to He Leadeth Me is a fantastic book that describes the nitty gritty details of Fr. Cizek’s life in Russia both in and out of the Gulag. Let us know what you decide on.

    PS – as a fellow science nerd, I would love to know what if anything you read of a sci-ency nature. I just slogged through (happily) Warped Passages and Why Does E=mc2?: (And Why Should We Care?). Trying to wrap my mind around all things quantum. Not easy!!!

  26. Kayla @ The AlluringWorld

    Is there a link to the astronomer camp for kids? I’d love to send my brothers and sisters there, maybe even my own children one day.

  27. Karianna@Caffeinated Catholic Mama

    I’m laughing, picturing their faces as you slam that drink like a Boss! I would love to see Behold become a huge Catholic blogging conference… and it could come to SoCal! Hahaha! Still waiting for my copy of the book to arrive from Amazon… shipping to Cali is long. Also, great post in the Register yesterday! Loved it and it firmed my resolve… especially after being called anti-woman. Grr.

  28. 'Becca

    My Lenten reading is Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, which is science fiction with underlying Christianity. I love the way the protagonist is a “good” human compared to the ones who kidnapped him and brought him to another planet, but as he gets to know the intelligent beings on this planet he realizes just how fallen he and human civilization are. The species and landscape of the planet are fascinating, too.

    A more traditional Lenten read is The Last Week by Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan, about the final week of Jesus’ earthly life, primarily as described in the Gospel of Mark. It has some very interesting insights about how Mark structured the story.

    • melissa

      I absolutely agree on “Out of the Silent Planet” (and with the other two in the trilogy as well!) I have re-read these books many times, and each time I come away with new insights.

    • JC

      Marcus Borg? The Jesus Seminar guy who denies Christ’s Resurrection? Trendy–but not really true.

      Lewis’ Sci-fi trilogy is certainly a good read, but I think “That Hideous Strength” matches this lent a bit more closely.

  29. melissa

    This is not specifically a Lenten book or even a Catholic book, but I learned so much from it about following Jesus as my shepherd that I reread it again every couple of years (making this about the 10th time I’ve reread it.) It is called “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by W. Phillip Keller. I highly recommend it.

  30. Mary

    I was just thinking that we need more astronomer nuns!

    I recommend Life of Christ by Fulton J. Sheen. I’m reading it now and it’s awesome.

    P.S. I would love to hang out with you and down G&T shots some day. I won’t judge, I promise. 😉

  31. bobbi

    #4 & 5 – It’s things like this that make us love you even more. 😉

  32. Dwija {House Unseen}

    Man. One of these days I’ll write these, like, in advance and won’t be number 97 or whatever number I am. Sheesh!

    The same earrings for 6 years thing is my fave. I did that once. When I took them out (brace yourselves) there was a *stench*. Yes, an odor, my friend. It was not pretty. Or fragrant. So…just never take them out, okay?

  33. Martianne

    I could absolutely see the scene happening at the happy hour and it made me laugh. Thank you. I needed to laugh.

    One day, I will be in phase of life when I can go to more conferences. until then, I enjoy hearing about those you attend and thank you for sharing links.

  34. Sheila

    I haven’t read He Leadeth Me, but I think you might like “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom .. a gripping story chock full of beautiful insights.

  35. Trisha Niermeyer Potter @ Prints of Grace

    Wow! I don’t think I realized quite how socially awkward you have been and broadcasted. Thanks for the laughter. I wish I could be there at the Behold conference in person, but since I can’t, I will be sending extra prayers for you and all of the participants to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I’m looking forward to hearing about it! God bless!

  36. Kara

    Enjoy the conference! Please keep us updated on the earring fiasco… lol

  37. Terri

    Fr Dwight Longenecker’s “The Gargoyle Code”.

    I just keep re-reading it/

  38. Dreena Tischler

    So I just got this wonderful and quite funny book called Sex, Style and Substance . . .

    But aside from that, I have been taking time each morning to read the readings of the day and then do some writing about how they seem to speak to all of my flaws and faults. Then I watch the video on the readings on the usccb site. I know you were thinking more like a conventional book but you just might surprise yourself!

    Loved the drink story. Wish I could say I’ve never done that.

  39. shwell

    Great book ideas, I will definately go follow up on them. Awesome.

    Since last week I have been thinking about your MC Hammer issue.

    If I knew you better I would ask for your current size and send you all the too nice to thrift but too small to wear stuff in my closet that I have kept from 4 pregnancies ago. Kept just incase I ever have your wonderful problem of actually losing the baby momento weight 🙂

    I am sure many of your other readers have such a stash, and it would be a great Lenten cleanout project to regift all our still nice clothing to you You would only have to try it on and then regift it yourself to Goodwill or anywhere near you if it wasn’t your thing.

    I remember reading that post of your Personal shopper experience, so maybe I could just send all my stuff to Hallie and she could veto it for you!!!
    So funny that it is the introduction to the book.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      What a kind thought! I love the idea of sending it all to Hallie and letting her pick out what works. 🙂

  40. Liz

    I would like to suggest My Daily Bread by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood. It’s small enough to tote around in your purse or keep handy at the bedside. Short readings with amazing insights.
    Love your blog!

  41. Becky

    I suppose I’m getting my suggestion in but when I read you asking for an inspirational book to read, I had to try to get this one in: Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. Has anyone suggested that yet? Go with that one. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

  42. Roger Stinson

    This is a wonderful post. I loved how you manged the seven tales together.
    I also loved most of the links you shared.



  43. Pep

    Another book idea: “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” by Fr. Michael Gaitley

    In the introduction he writes, “I wrote [this book] to help those who are serious about growing in holiness but who neither have the time nor resources for making the Spiritual Exercises [of St. Ignatius].” The book is designed to be read as a do-it-yourself retreat in a weekend, but can be spread out over time as well. Half the book is the retreat, and the other half includes reflections on St. Ignatius’s ideas and St. Faustina’s experiences, as well as 120 pages of selections from St. Faustina’s diary.

    I heard rave reviews about it, which is why I bought it. I think it fits your requirement of a “clear, direct writing style” very well. I need clear and direct too!! I highly recommend it!


  44. Kimberlie

    Re: #6 – Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe. Loving it!

  45. Hilbert M.

    You really had a very hectic schedule. How old was the astronomer by the way? I wish I could do the same and take a photo with him.


  46. DeAnn

    They may have been shocked on the outside, but I’m sure their level of respect for you went up a few notches after the gin and tonic incident. I’m so glad to know that another person besides me can have a full-out justification session in her head in a matter of seconds, take decisive action, then rethink said decision….I totally would have done the same thing.

    I am reading “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” by Fr. Michael Gaitley. I read it two years ago and I’m reading it again. Seems its one of those books that one can read over and over and it speaks to you in a different way each time. Great, easy read.

  47. Liz Aucoin

    Have you ever read “Captured by Grace” by David Jeremiah? It is a wonderful exploration of God’s mercy. The author uses stories from the media, the conversion of St. Paul, and the conversion of John Newton (who wrote the hymn amazing grace) from slave trader to minister. In chapter 3 you will find one of the best retellings of the parable of the prodigal son that you will ever find. (He delves into the details in a way that makes the story come alive.) I had the good fortune to come across this book when my husband and I ducked into a bookstore to wait out a thunderstorm, and I have given copies of it away since, but I always get another for myself, since this book feels like a dear friend.

  48. elizabethe

    Jen, I am just like you. I always have a completely thought-through rationale for doing things — like slamming back a gin and tonic — that, upon reflection, are really not the wisest things to do.

    I totally would have done the same thing.

    Going back to something you mentioned last week, I hope you as some point blog about spiritual attack on getting healthy that you mentioned in your “I lost 25 lbs” quick take.

    I struggle with this exact issue. It’s only recently occurred to me that it is spiritual attack that I can’t even seem to give up sugar in my coffee during Lent without feeling irrationally deprived and it triggering all sorts of binge/deprivation behavior – don’t even get me started about how long I last on any kind of food intake modification program. I would love to hear about your experience and what you did to combat it.

  49. Karyn

    Jen, a few years ago I gave up reading as my Lenten sacrifice. I only allowed Scripture and anything I needed to read to perform my job. Usually I love reading/praying/studying Scripture, but that Lent it was funny how often I’d find other things to occupy my time. I love Fr. Guy and I’ve listened to several talkes he’s given. You might want to check out the podcast by Ian McGregor called The Catholic Lab. He looks at how faith and science intersect. He usually includes a Catholic scientist to highlight as well as a look at current scientific studies being published. It’s very interesting.

  50. aimee

    What a great picture of you and Fr. Guy – and I took it? I totally forgot! 😀 His talks were great, the pictures from the surface of Mars just jaw-dropping. I asked him about them afterward and he recommended a book, Postcards from Mars, that a friend of his put together. We got it and it’s great, coffee-table quality stunning images.

  51. John

    I remember you speaking highly of Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. Have you ever read The Imitation of Christ? A Catholic friend recommended it me during my long sojourn through atheism, and I read it last year during the first Lent I returned to the Church. After looking at a couple of different available translations, I purchased the one by Ronald Knox and Michael Oakley published by Ignatius Press. I noticed in the Introduction that Knox read a chapter of The Imitation each day (each chapter is 1-5 pages), and this past year, I’ve done the same. And I’ve added Francis de Sales to this year’s Lenten reading.

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