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Facts of Faith

Little known Catholic facts, knowledge and trivia

Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, and Fr. Larry Rice, CSP, discuss facts of Catholicism not widely known, including everything from historical facts to modern pop culture references about the Church.

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September 16th, 2010

Fr. Dave Dwyer and Fr. Larry Rice discuss the history surrounding the relic of Saint Januaris, more popularly known in New York City as San Gennaro.  Possible scientific elements are also explained, bringing to question if the relic was made in a lab or if it’s a legitimate symbol of the Catholic culture.…

September 16th, 2010

Interesting piece on PsychCentral about the “trust gap” in America: In lab settings and in opinion polls, we tend to report thinking that other people are less trustworthy than we are. But a recent study in Psychological Science… suggests that we just don’t have enough practice trusting people because we’re stuck in a vicious cycle of cynicism.
Write authors Fetchenhauer and Dunning of their study:
Participants saw short videos of other people and had to decide whether to trust each person in an economic game. Participants overall underestimated the trustworthiness of the people they viewed, regardless of whether they were given financial incentives to provide accurate estimates.

September 15th, 2010

Throughout my life I have worked with kids a lot.  I started babysitting when I was twelve.  I have about fifty cousins and at least half of them are younger than me.  All throughout high school and college I’ve tutored, mentored, camp counseled, and run programs for kids.  At the Catholic Worker I was basically a second mom to at least 8 kids at any one time.  I helped moms load newborns into the car to ride home from the hospital and had to keep the peace when the kids would fight at dinnertime.  Not that after all this experience I thought I was an expert on kids and discipline but I definitely thought I had a pretty good handle on what it meant to be a parent.
I could not have been more wrong.
I have quickly come to realize…

September 14th, 2010

A team of neuroscientists claim that it’s possible to alter a subject’s moral judgments using a large magnet to temporarily disrupt normal brain activity, according to new findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.… The researchers, led by Rebecca Saxe, MIT assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and lead author on this paper, Liane Young, a postdoctoral associate, find that subjects make different decisions about whether a person’s behavior hypothetical scenario is permissible or forbidden after exposure to this magnetic field.
Says Dr. Young:
“It’s one thing to ‘know’ that we’ll find morality in the

September 9th, 2010

We often talk about the need positive role models in the media today, but we rarely talk about the need for priests as role models; they are largely absent from today’s modern media landscape. And when they do happen to be included in a television show or a movie, they are frequently presented as older gentlemen spaced out on God who insists on calling everyone he meets “my child” and who inhabit a world few if any of us could reach… and might not want to if we could. Characterizations that on some visceral gut level has the opposite effect of being inspiring.
Which is one of the many reasons I am grateful for the release of the new Robert Rodriguez film Machete…. In the interests of full disclosure, films by Robert

September 9th, 2010

I recently came across a fascinating piece on NPR from a few months back in which Alix Speigel interviewed Larry Nucci, a research psychologist at the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley about what rules children believe are good, and what rules they think are stupid.
Rules can be broken down into four categories, Dr. Nucci says:

Moral rules: Don’t hit, do share.
Safety rules: Don’t cross the street alone, don’t run with scissors.
Social convention rules: You must say “sir” and “madam.”
Personal rules…: Rules about friends and how to express themselves… which is where things get tricky.

According to the NPR report, Dr.

September 8th, 2010

The latest story about the massacre of immigrants in Tamaulipas, Mexico by the drug cartels has me thinking about the issue of recreational drug use again. Of course it is not a good idea to do anything illegal but I think there is a distinct difference between drug addicts and people who just use drugs at parties or to wind down after a long week. I’ve known plenty of people in this second category. These are educated people, have stable jobs, and are generally aware of social justice issues. We all have skeletons in the closet and we all struggle with certain things but buying drugs, even if only occasionally, is directly supporting the violence that is perpetuated by drug trafficking. How is it justifiable to use…

September 7th, 2010

OK, I know I’m a little obsessed with self-control research (see my recent posts on Dogging Self-Control and Commitment Strategies 101) but PsyBlog recently posted a fascinating tidbit: Positive affirmations can replenish your self-control.
In a study published last year in the Journal of Personal Social Psychology, participants were asked to write a short essay about something that was important to them-their core values, their relationships etc. But half of the participants had to write this essay without using the letters ‘a’ and ‘n’ while the other half could use the entire alphabet.
Proving yet again that self-control is a resource that gets depleted over time, when folks…

September 2nd, 2010

Friday night was, for the first time in a while, a much-needed night for Shabbat. And while I had plans to go to an 80’s dance party with my one roommate Annie, I still had to ask Farrah what she was doing for Shabbos.
“I’m going to dinner at this really cool family’s house. Want to come?!”
Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. I looked for a Shabbos outfit that could somehow translate to 80’s in case I could milk both events for the night. My unruly, curly hair worked out either way.
I got to dinner at 9 pm (Shabbos starts late in the summer) with Stella in hand. About two dozen people were in the apartment, waiting for dinner to start. I was immediately taken back to all the times I kept Shabbat, and how meaningful they were…

August 31st, 2010

We regularly receive the Houston Catholic Worker newspaper and the latest issue contained a big surprise.  The couple that founded Casa Juan Diego, the Houston Catholic Worker, is having another book released in November.
If I tried to tell you about the myriad of services that Casa Juan Diego offers there is really no way of doing it justice.  It is a house of hospitality for undocumented women, children, and men.  They have an ever-growing huge ministry helping the undocumented sick and injured.  They have food and clothing distributions several times a week for the community.  They have clinics with a variety of doctors and dentists that donate their time.  They have a big organic garden that provides…

August 27th, 2010

The big thing in the news right now is the debate on the Islamic center in lower Manhattan.  I have to say that I’ve been struggling for a few days with what to say on this topic, but too much has been going on to not say anything.  After all, if I write a blog for an online magazine for spiritual seekers, it’s kind of hard not to comment on an issue that focuses so much on faith.
I do have to say that my first response to this issue was not as of a spiritual seeker, not as someone who is devoting his life to religious life, but as someone who is an American.  It was hard for me to not see this as a freedom of religion issue.  While I do understand the arguments by some who are against this project—those of course who are not obviously…

August 26th, 2010

Trust is a crucial element of a successful relationship, experts tell us. But sometimes, as President Ronald Reagan said, “trust but verify.”
According to a new nationally representative study of nearly a thousand British married couples, nearly half the time, at least one member of the couple is snooping on the other’s internet and email activities.
Reports PsyBlog, respondents told researchers it was unacceptable if

their partner fell in love online (90%)
had cybersex with someone else (84%)
flirted with someone else (69%)
or communicated relationship troubles with someone else (70%)

And perhaps unsurprisingly, women were more likely to be concerned about potential online transgressions,…

August 25th, 2010

If only it were that simple. If only considering to live with a non-observant Jew and a Catholic was only about not cooking bacon in the apartment and keeping the light on in the bathroom during Shabbat.
I spent an hour on the phone with Monica gauging Annie’s love of bacon and her knowledge of the rules of the Sabbath. Even before my kosher-keeping days I’ve had an aversion to bacon. Once, while staying with a friend and her then boyfriend, I sat on top of their couch with my head hanging out the window while they made Sunday brunch: eggs and bacon. While complaining about my bacon-induced nausea, Monica confessed her distaste for shrimp after a college roommate had Costco-sized cravings. Okay. No shellfish,…

August 24th, 2010

It’s been nearly a year since three people died and dozens more were injured during a self-help retreat led by the now-infamous James Arthur Ray. At the time, I wrote a piece in The Washington Post and was outspoken about the fact that, although we’d like to write them off as New Age wackos, the folks who stayed in a steamy sweat lodge well past when it was physically safe were just like you and me: Seekers who were smart, educated and interested in pushing themselves to achieve greater things.
In this month’s SELF… magazine Shepelavy has a terrific piece about the lessons we can all learn from last year’s deaths. Roxanne and I logged in several hours of talk time over the last few months as she crafted the piece,

August 20th, 2010

You may have been following my adventures at Rendezvous with G-d, from covering a website for religious Jews seeking extramarital affairs, to interviewing Muslim women and their views on wearing veils. You might remember stories about my personal life, some of which were so personal I chose to later take it down. And today, I close a small chapter of this blog, and open a new one as I move out again. This time I am moving to Brooklyn with a (non-practicing) Catholic and (semi) observant Jew. And more difficult than finding the apartment, might be how to live in the apartment with such varying religious traditions.
So meet the girls who have decided to take this interreligious journey with me. They too will now be contributing…

August 19th, 2010

The dreaded email forwards.  Pictures of puppies wearing hats, drawings of angels, images of sunsets.  I don’t get a lot of these emails except for the occasional prayer chain letter from my mom.  But poor Brandon gets a lot of them.  I think it’s because he likes computers so people think he will like any email sent to him.   Usually they are pretty harmless.  The ones that I can’t stand are the ones the spread ignorance and intolerance.
Brandon recently received an email forward from a person that he knows in a professional capacity.  I won’t repeat the exact email but it was a joke about Mexicans that insinuated that they are all lazy and should go back to Mexico.
Let’s put aside for a moment that…

August 19th, 2010

Are Shoppers Fairer? asked John Tierney in his New York Times… column and blog.
Do markets and morality – as we like to definite fairness in modern societies – reinforce one another? Does shopping at Wal-Mart, as the fair-minded people in Missouri do, strengthen one’s tendency to follow the golden rule in dealing with strangers?
Turns out that in a multi-country anthropological experiment, Americans shoppers scored higher in a test of fairness toward strangers than those surveyed in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The researchers played the game “dictator” with folks around the world: The person who is in the “dictator” role is given a

August 18th, 2010

How does the Church really feel about games of chance? Tune in to hear what Fr. Larry and Fr. Dave have to say……

August 17th, 2010

Are college students today more narcissistic than their peers from previous generations?
Based on the results of the narcissistic personality inventory, a standardized test that has been given to students at the University of South Alabama over the last 15 years, the answer is a resounding yes.
“I’m extremely confident,” San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge told Discovery News. “I think these analyses end the debate completely. It’s clear narcissism is rising.”
But is this inventory the best judge of narcissism-and what does that really even mean? Narcissistic personalities are usually defined as people who think very highly of themselves, are…

August 13th, 2010

I recently had a conversation with an old friend who was thinking about making some major life decisions without telling her family about it.  She knew they would disapprove and she didn’t want to deal with them.  She justified it by saying that she believed in what she was doing and just wanted to do it and tell everyone later.
This is a tough issue.  There is great tension between wanting to be independent, to be your own person, to make your own decisions and your responsibility to your family.
After 25 years of having to figure out what to share and not share with my family, it’s still a tough call each time.  I know that I don’t want to have to lie to my family so I try not hide things that I’ll have to lie about…

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