Thursday, March 31, 2011

Homeschooling (Part 2)


So, yeah; we’re anti-social. But when did that become such a bad thing? When did standing up to the masses of society and saying, “No,” to their norms and standards become a bad thing? Last time I checked, that’s what made this country great (and made this country a country at all.)The freedom and capability to stand against the masses; to stand up for what one believes is right. Again, how hypocritical of us to be “free Americans” yet still make attempts to illegalize home education? Is it not the parents’ right to the education of their own children?

I understand that, generally speaking, the public refers to anti-social as meaning, “having poor social skills and difficulty interacting with other children, particularly those of differing ethnic or religious backgrounds.” And unfortunately, that may be true in several ways. There is a sort of prejudice and elitism among several homeschoolers that subconsciously prevents them from interacting with certain groups of society. But can’t the same be said of every one else? Not all homeschoolers are racist and religious bigots; some of my closest friends don’t share the same religious beliefs with me at all, and I actually get along great with people who are of a different race than me (sometimes better than those who are.) Some homeschoolers are like that. But not all. That depends on the individual person. Are you honestly going to tell me that not a single individual boy or girl who is enrolled at a public school doesn’t have some form of prejudice? What about all the legendary “cliques” and groups you hear about in highschools? The jocks. The nerds (who, by the way, have the misfortune of being classified as “having poor social skills and difficulty interacting with other children,” despite not being homeschooled.) The popular kids. I may have not been in public highschool, but I have heard about it, and it seems to me that prejudice is a pretty universal experience. Not that it’s a good one; I personally find prejudice to be one of my greatest enemies, and I try to fight it more than almost any other sin. And I encourage this combating of prejudice among my homeschooling friends as well. But just so we’re on the same page…it is considered a prejudice to say that all homeschoolers are anti-social and prejudiced. So the next time you try to call out somebody else’s prejudices, remember to take a look at your own first. This is the method I have found to be most helpful with my own prejudice.

So, anti-social? Yes. Above the Norm of society? Maybe. Difficulty interacting with other people? Not any more than any one else.

There are “anti-social” children in public schools too. So what does this mean? No one environment makes for a more or less social person; that relies completely on the individual person. A good friend of mine from public school is actually quite recluse. Not awkward or shy, but just introverted. That’s how she is, and it has nothing to do with her school system. Me, on the other hand? I’ve been homeschooled all my life and you can’t even get me to shut up. (Ask my parents. It’s the one homeschooling lesson I never learned.) So the argument that homeschooled children are “ill-prepared for life in society” is purely unreasonable. We manage just as well as any one else in any other schooling system.

And please don’t even bring up the argument of, “How can you interact with society if you’re in your home all day?” Seriously? I have to interact with society every day of my life! Every single day there’s something going on that involves me getting out of the house and interacting with society. It gets to the point that I actually wish I could see and interact with people less. It’s no different from any other kid. We have parties and dances and sports games and we call each other to hang out. No different. At all.

So, again, if you’re going to argue against homeschooling, please don’t make the prejudiced argument that, “all homeschooled children are socially ill-prepared.” Not unless you’re willing to make the same argument against all other children.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Homeschooling (Part 1)

So today, I would like to take on a cultural “conflict” that definitely has several roots in the “above the norm” theory. Again, this may take several posts, (I am in “school,” after all.)


(Children nationwide who are reading this from their comfortable seats at home whilst eating a bowl of cereal and/or Cheetos all the while studying Latin are rejoicing!)

I have always been homeschooled, from pre-school (and before) until this year, being my senior year.

I have never actually been on a school bus, I don’t understand the concept of a hall pass, I don’t empathize with people who think cafeteria food is gross because I’ve never really had enough of it, I don’t know what homeroom is, and I don’t think anybody knows why they call it “homecoming.” (Where else have you been that suddenly you need to celebrate coming home?)

I have done an entire day’s worth of homework at both of my grandparents’ houses (here’s some homeschooling for ya’: if it’s one mouse and several mice, why isn’t it one house and several hice?), at several of my cousins’ houses, other people’s houses, in every car we’ve ever owned, in several cars that weren’t ours, quite frequently at Newport Larosa’s and my dad’s restaurant, the Madison Diner (like us on Facebook!), the St. Gertrude’s Parish Center, St. Cecilia’s cafeteria, the Norwood Nature Preserve, many other nature centers, every museum and zoo and garden there is to see in Cincinnati, on the sidewalk of Vine St. downtown, on the sidewalk of Race St. downtown, and in the waiting room of the Office of the Archbishop of Cincinnati. (Note: several of these places ended becoming their own classes.)

But that’s not really what we’re here to talk about, is it? Several people who read this will be thinking about the “homeschool problem” (like we’re the new Irish.) They will be thinking about all the reasons they’ve heard as to why homeschooling is not an appropriate method of schooling. They will be thinking about how there have been many efforts to better regulate, control, or even completely illegalize homeschooling.

Being homeschooled for 18 years (and I mean since birth), I have heard all of the arguments. I have heard the list of pros and cons. And I am happy to be able to report them to you now.

One of the first and most common arguments you will hear (and the one we will explore in this post) is the “anti-social” argument. Ah, yes. We are an awkward bunch, we homeschooled, deprived of society. ‘Tis tragic, really. Children are not exposed to the mass public media, and therefore have their media controlled by their parents. How dare a parent control and censor the media of their own child? When did that become their responsibility? What injustice to be forbidden to listen to such treasures as Lady Gaga, Ludacris, and Pink. What objectively good music, yet we shall never have the chance to enjoy all four chords and four stanzas of lyrics that are repeated over and over and over again. And what a crime that our eight year old children don’t know what a man looks like when decapitated or disemboweled! What a waste of the art of film, once used for measly purposes such as conveying a story or a theme of life, now elevated to the status of being able to display acts of sex and violence that are rarely ever seen in reality! Furthermore, how terrible that we know nothing of the average lives the majority of teenagers lead. In the midst of all the sex and drugs and violence and hatred and gluttony and lust and envy and pride, we take no part in it.

And here I end the sarcasm. I will call you out, all of you, unabashedly and unashamed. Every single adult or person who looks down on us and sees the world of teenagers around them and wonders, “What’s wrong with these children?” Hey. I got news for ya’. Look back up. It’s you.

See, adults are like that. They have minds of their own, poor creatures, and so they make their own judgments. This is easily my favorite gift of being an American. Freedom of reason. But is it really reason if you aren’t using your…well…reason? How can you say one minute, “Teens these days are terrible! I don’t understand what’s happened to them!” and say the next minute, “But all teenagers should be involved in this society because it’s dangerous if they don’t.” What’s more dangerous? A teenage boy who doesn’t feel at home in a selfish, pleasure-seeking, me-me-me society, or a teenage boy who does? How can you say, “Teenagers need to stop having sex and getting pregnant and then falling into depression and poverty,” and then the next minute say, “But all children should go to a public school where people say, ‘Don’t have sex,’ but at the same time, ‘Here’s a contraceptive, go have fun.’” You cannot say these things without practically defining what it means to be a hypocrite. (On that note, what’s the deal with contraceptives in public schools? That’s like saying, “Kids, don’t light a fire, but just in case you are going to anyway, here’s a fire extinguisher so you can be ‘safe.’” Got some more news for you. When my brothers, my friends, and myself were in our little pyro stage, none of us had a clue how to work a fire extinguisher or the dangers of fire in general. But more on that in a later post.)

Now, I’m not saying that public schools are “evil” places full of sin and vice. To be totally honest, I wouldn’t know. However, I have many friends who went to public schools all their lives, and to be completely honest, they have testified to its immorality more than me even. I actually try to stick up for “public school kids” among homeschoolers, saying that not all of them are bad people. But when actual children from a public school system testify to this themselves…condemn themselves…well, you’re not going to get a much better source than that.

And I’m not saying that we’re better than public schools. I’m not writing this to convince people that homeschooling is better. That’s the individual’s choice and preference, and I have known several individuals who have fared extremely well from a public school system from an objective standpoint, academically, psychologically, and ethically. The individual has the right to do what they believe is best for themselves. That’s their exercise of their own right to freedom, genuine American freedom. I’m writing about that that same American freedom and trying to convince people to keep homeschooling legal. You can’t say that Americans have freedom of education but all the while fight to illegalize home education in the same sentence. It’s a lie.

And I’m not saying that homeschoolers are perfect; ‘cause we’re not. Myself included and especially. But at least we’re trying. At least we’re not giving in to society. And that, at least from my perspective and the perspective of many other homeschooled students and parents, is in no way a bad thing. I understand the concern that most people have about homeschoolers being, "anti-social." It means, "They don't like to hang out with other people/they're a bunch of awkward, four-eyed geeks."

But more on that later.

(To be continued...)

(As if "But more on that later." didn't kind of already imply that.)

Monday, March 21, 2011


Charlie Chaplin.

An icon of American arts and entertainment...

An exile of the very same America.

A comedic hero...

A tragic person.

The man known most commonly for his character, called simply the "Tramp," was born Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. Chaplin came to America in 1910, and though his progress was slow, he gradually emerged a superstar with the creation of the Tramp. The character is immediately recognizable; baggy pants, derby hat, cane, pants too big, coat too small. Chaplin quickly became the star of American comedic silent films. Chaplin is recognized as one of the most influential people in film history, as well as an artistic genius, who wrote, directed, composed, and acted in many of his films.

I was first introduced to Charlie Chaplin through my grandfather. Originally from Lima, Peru, my grandfather had loved Chaplin’s films from a young age, and it seemed that his love transcended generations when my brothers and I discovered a set of Chaplin films in my Papa’s basement. I do not remember how young I was when I first saw them; regardless, I can say with reasonable certainty that I’ve seen them too many times since then. It’s gotten to the point that I have memorized his every moment and can pinpoint the exact movement to the precise musical note in any one of his many films. And, not to be superfluous, Chaplin remains my favorite all-time comedian, bar none.

“Why are you writing about Charlie Chaplin on a blog about being Above the Norm?”

Good question.

“Is it something he did?”

Chaplin is notorious for many events that took place in his lifetime, from having to send his mother to an asylum at age 12 to his notorious sexual promiscuity. The life of Chaplin is, ironically, a tragic one. Like a clown with a smile that was only painted, his life was filled with the loss of loved ones, many of which he never fully recovered. However, it is not his actions that I remember him for.

“Is it something he made?”

Chaplin’s films have, sadly, faded away with the passing of time, as have many silent fimls. The last film to feature the Tramp, “Modern Times,” is regarded to be the last great silent film. Chaplin was also a composer and songwriter, having written the music for what is know the common standard, “Smile,” performed by such artists as Josh Groban, Nat King Cole, and even Michael Jackson, who referred to it as his favorite song. However, though both the song and the film are close favorites of mine, it is not something he made.

“Is it something he said?”

Well, don’t be ridiculous now. He was a silent actor and a musician who composed music but rarely wrote lyrics. If he is known for any one thing he said, it might be one that I personally perceive as a motto for myself: “Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.”

But, in a way, it is something he said.

In a way.

In September, 1939, three years after his last film, “Modern Times,” Chaplin began filming his next film: “The Great Dictator.” Released six months later in 1940, it went on to become Chaplin’s most commercially acclaimed film and was, consequently, his first talking film. The film depicts Charlie Chaplin as both an unnamed Jewish barber and Adenoid Hynkel, the dictator of Tomainia. The film is a direct farce and condemnation of Adolf Hitler (who was very similar to Chaplin in appearance as well as being only four days younger than him), Nazism, and anti-Semitism.

“So…what’s so significant about this film?”

Charlie Chaplin hadn’t spoken a word on film for thirty years. The silent era had been over for thirteen years by the time, “The Great Dictator” was released.

“So why had Charlie Chaplin remained silent for so long?”

Perhaps he knew the power of silence better than most of us.

See, silence is like that. It’s powerful. It’s strong. It’s loud. Silence can be heard above the noise. When the rest of the world is too busy shouting at each other to resolve something, often silence is the loudest voice of all.

Charlie Chaplin was not a comedic genius because he was witty. He was not a comedic genius because he could insult other characters in his films. He was not a comedic genius because he could cuss and swear and make it sound funny. No. Charlie Chaplin was a comedic genius because he could make us laugh without having to do all of that. (Where has all the real comic genius you might ask? Another good question. I don’t know.)

Charlie Chaplin used the silence to his advantage. Not because he had nothing to say. Chaplin was very much so a political activist, and had a great deal to say. It was because he didn’t need to say anything, and he recognized that his silence was just as powerful and important as his words.

But in 1940, at the brink of World War II, Chaplin recognized that now was his time to speak.

Here is the infamous ending speech from Chaplin’s legendary film, “The Great Dictator.” The Jewish barber has been confused for Emperor Hynkel, who is now confused with the Jewish barber and is sentenced to life in prison, and he is now called to give a speech.

Charlie Chaplin hadn’t spoken a word on film for thirty years. When he finally did decide to speak, this is what he had to say. And what powerful words they are.

At the release of this film, the United States was still in a neutral position in World War II, remaining at peaceful, nonbelligerent terms with Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. Charlie Chaplin, a British man in America, came out and said what most other Americans couldn’t. Charlie Chaplin knew that he would be criticized but he endured and faced it anyway. Charlie Chaplin spoke up and surprised the world, who had expected a farce of Hitler’s legendary oratorical skills. Charlie Chaplin, after thirty of years of silence, called out one of the greatest evils of our time and perhaps all of history…while every one else remained silent.

And what really made Chaplin’s words so powerful were not his words alone.

“Is it something he said?”

It is his silence.

It is what he didn’t say; what he hadn’t said.

It was the realization that Chaplin had remained silent for thirty years. Now he had finally found something really worth talking about.

“How can we learn from Charlie Chaplin?”

How often do we really say anything worth saying?

How often do we fail to speak out when it is most necessary that we do?

Do we let fear of what others think about us get in the way of our actions?

Do we fear being criticized? Do we fear being laughed at? Do we fear silence?

Charlie Chaplin lived a tragic life. But he died a happy man. “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

We can all learn a lot from Charlie Chaplin. We can learn that silence is not something to fear, it is something to embrace. It is powerful. It is a means to go above the norm, just as Chaplin want above the norm of American society to create, “The Great Dictator.” We can learn that there are many tragedies in life, but also that, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”

The final scene of “The Great Dictator,” immediately after giving his final speech, Chaplin looks up to the sky and calls upon a young, Jewish girl he met and assisted earlier in the film called Hannah. He says these words,

“Hannah? Can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah. The clouds are lifting. The sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness and into the light. We are coming into a new world. A kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed, and brutality. Look up, Hannah! The soul of man has been given wings! And at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow, into the light of hope, into the future, the glorious future, that belongs to you, to me, and to all of us. Look up, Hannah! Look up!”

So, wherever you are, when things seem dark and hopeless, when men seem full of nothing else but hate and greed and brutality, you must do nothing more than look up. Look up into the Heavens and remember that we are called to something more than this life! We are called to be something more! We are called to a future, our glorious future, a future above and beyond this world and this life! Look up into the light.

And smile.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

To conclude our exploration of the benefit of fasting, especially in concern to how it attacks our sins and instills us with both good graces and morals, let us explore the final three cardinal sins.

Wrath: This sin, more commonly known simply as anger, is perhaps the most indirectly affected by fasting. By that I mean that it is not always the easiest to see. Especially because sometimes, when we fast, our hunger actually makes us more irritable as well as irritating. However, though we not notice it, our fasting also makes us more inclined to empathy. When we fast, we humble ourselves, and in humbling ourselves we can come to see others for what they are intrinsically rather than what they are in comparison to us. So, though this is not always the case, there are times when, during fasting, we can come to withhold our rage from others because we understand them better. When some one does something to annoy us, we are able to see that they did not mean to do it and that, consequently, we too can be quite annoying ourselves. Fasting attacks anger by humbling us and bringing us to empathy.

Envy: In the case of sins of envy, it is particularly interesting. Envy is the sin in which we are jealous of another person’s good(s). However, envy is not necessarily jealousy. Jealousy is not always a sin; wanting something that some one else has is not bad. If some one has a car that I find appealing, it is not wrong for me to want that same car. However, it is wrong for me to want that car so much that I become spiteful towards the person who owns the car simply because of his ownership of said car. Instead of jealousy which says, “I would like to have a car like that,” envy goes farther than jealousy by saying, “I want that person’s car and I don’t want him to have it.” Fasting attacks envy because, when we make sacrifices, we come to see how full our lives truly are. By emptying ourselves of our own material goods and desires, we can see how much we truly have and how little we really need from the material world. Thus, envy becomes practically non-existent while fasting. Of course, this is not always the case. One must be fasting properly and have an appropriate spiritual mindset during the fast as well. But such is the case with all things if not properly done. So, fasting has a specific attack on envy by way of surrendering material goods and, in return, being able to purge one’s disordered material desires.

Pride: Ah! Here we are. The root of all sins. As mentioned previously in above posts, fasting attacks pride specifically by granting humility. By fasting and recognizing that we can do without a specific good, we recognize also that we are not so superior as to demand what we want and get it when we want it. Humility calls for sacrifice, and that is exactly what we are given through fasting. So, it should be simple enough to understand how fasting can attack our pride and instill in us an appropriate humility.

If you stuck with me through all that, I am very proud of you (and more importantly, your attention span.) I hope you earned something out of it, and maybe even learned something.

As always, God Bless you, and may His graces fill you with the love to go above the norm!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why do we Fast: v. 3.0

Again we resume our exploration of the importance for fasting during lent, particularly how fasting attacks the seven capital sins.

Avarice: More commonly known as greed, this sin is attacked by fasting much in the same way that lust is. Lust is usually more commonly directed towards sins of the flesh (a.k.a. sexual sins. Sorry if I didn’t specify earlier.) Avarice is more commonly directed towards material goods. And just like fasting attacks lust, fasting diminishes our idea of having what we want because we realize we are not so great as we think, and we do not truly deserve it. Fasting also reminds us that we can live without this good, because with all greed, it is a good that is not essential or necessary to our lives. And, once again, it is genuinely difficult to want anything other than the object from which you’re fasting.

Sloth: This is one area of fasting that many people often forget. It is encouraged, especially during Lent, not only to fast from one thing, but to be more active in another. A good example would be that one might fast from television in order to spend more time praying. By doing something extra, something that you would not ordinarily do, fasting attacks sloth and laziness. You are doing something productive with your time rather than lying around doing nothing. In Dante’s Inferno, the lazy and sullen are plunged within the river Styx, where they can find no joy and they cannot move because they are constantly drowning. Though this sounds like a terrible punishment, we often forget that we punish ourselves in this same way when we are lazy. Fasting attacks our laziness by forcing us to fill our time with more productive and wholesome action.

The final three shall be explored next.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Why do we Fast (Part II...aren't Roman numerals fun?)

Here we resume our discussion of why fasting is so critically important to Lent. Also, just as a side-note, the reason that I feel so compelled to write about fasting is because fasting, just like all good works, bring us closer to God, which is what Above the Norm is all about. Any action can be turned towards God, and every act should be done for the Glory of God. Why else do anything?

The third thought concerning fasting and lent ties in to the second one. Fasting attacks sin. It is an individual attack on each of the Seven Cardinal sins. And, using our beloved Dante Alighieri’s ordering of these sins (which was actually created first by Pope Gregory I), we shall explore this more deeply.

Lust: Fasting attacks the sin of lust by purging ourselves of that desire. Quite frankly, it works on multiple levels. Fasting diminishes and deflates the idea that we should have whatever we want because we have humbled ourselves. Fasting also leads to the realization that we can live without these desires and that we are even better off without them. Finally, put bluntly, we are too hungry (for whatever we have given up) to notice and/or care about whatever it is we lust for. I remember having a conversation with a friend during a 30-Hour fast, and we both realized that we hadn’t wanted anything or even thought about wanting anything besides food. When you’re that hungry, it’s difficult to hunger for anything else.

Gluttony: This one should be perhaps the most obvious. During Lent, it is common to fast from something in which we overindulge often. Take food, for example. Fasting directly attacks gluttony because it is practically the very opposite of this sin. One cannot be gluttonous while fasting from that indulgence. Of course, this is not to say that there are other things in which to overindulge, and one must be careful not to do so while fasting.

And more to come.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why do we Fast?

Yesterday, I arrived at work with ashes on my forehead. This is the traditional Catholic beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday, exactly 46 days before Easter (including Sundays). It serves as a reminder that we are all mortal, “For you were made from dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis-3:19.) But before I could explain to my questioning co-worker what was on my forehead, one of the customers sitting nearby stepped in.

“Oh, he’s Catholic. It means he’s celebrating Ash Wednesday.”

I smiled and nodded, but before I could get another word in, my co-worker asked what Ash Wednesday was. I was about to explain, when Customer interrupted.

“It’s a day when they celebrate all the saints and their history.”

I could only stare at her, quite bemused. Actually, of all the things Lent and Ash Wednesday encompass, the saints and their history is not the most prominent one. I then finally was able to explain that it marked the beginning of Lent, which was 40 days before Easter (not including Sundays) and in which we pray, fast, and give alms in order to prepare ourselves for the Resurrection of Christ. My co-worker then asked why we used ashes. As I was about to explain the above quote from Genesis, Customer interrupted…again.

“Because they wear the ashes for 40 days to remember their dead loved ones.”

Not at all! Of course, I didn’t say that, which is why it’s not in quotation marks. But as I explained the real reason we wear ashes (see above quote), I couldn’t help but think of how misrepresented the season of Lent really is in our modern society.

Hopefully, most of you readers already have a decent understanding of Lent. I will not be delving too far into what exactly Lent is, but rather why we celebrate Lent the way we do. (And don’t worry, this will be in parts. I know you have better things to do than read this blog…at least, I certainly hope so.)

This first post will be on what seems to confuse society the most:


All kinds of people of different religions pray, and many of these same people are charitable and give a great deal of time and money to those who need it, and we thank God for that. But there are very few people in this world today who truly understand the importance of fasting. These are not definitive teachings or insightful words of wisdom, but merely some thoughts I had while reflecting on fasting.

First and foremost, fasting is a way of emptying ourselves. It is humbling to diminish our egos by sacrificing something important to us. By making this sacrifice through fasting, we are saying by our actions, “I am not greater than this good, and so I willingly give it up for the good of humility.” Of course, this can be corrupted if our actions say, “Hey, look at me, I’m giving up water! Look how holy I am!” Yes. Holy. And sick. Or, at least, very, very soon to be. I’m not sure who said it first, but I have heard it many times. “If your cup’s already full, then it’s bound to overflow.” Though we do want our hearts to overflow with Christ’s love, we do not want our egos to overflow with our own pride. By emptying ourselves of material or worldly things, we allow ourselves to make room for the love of Christ given to us by His sacrifice on the cross. That is perhaps the most prominent reason for fasting, and it is a sufficient answer in itself. But, for those of you who are never satisfied with one answer (I too am one of you), here are some more reasons.

Fasting is also a way of penance. Penance for our sins. We recognize that we have done great wrongs in our life, and that truly we are not worthy of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. And so, we do penance for these sins by disciplining ourselves. Ironically enough, it takes great discipline to discipline oneself. But that is the idea. In giving up something, we are being disciplined. But we are also learning discipline. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. It is an excellent tool for building up fortitude and temperance, and consequently a deeper and stronger spiritual life.

Finally, my third thought, which actually kind of ties in to the second one. But due to the length of this blog (and the fact that I still have school to do), I will leave you on a cliffhanger. Tomorrow, I shall begin posting a series of blogs concerning how this third element of fasting works in our lives.

Until then, God Bless, and may you have a productive Lent filled with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Blest.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What is Above the Norm

So, if you’ve stumbled upon this blog, I’m sure you’re wondering to yourself right about now, “What exactly is Above the Norm?” And that’s a good question. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong question. The question is not “what,” but rather, as you will soon see, “how.”

Above the Norm is a cultural revolution with a focus on defeating the two great evils of mediocrity and complacency and countering them with both active and contemplative striving for greatness beyond this world, specifically in God our Lord and Father. I came up with this idea several years ago after realizing that the cause of so many modern evils is not what we think it is. I’m not talking about the huge evils, like war, starvation, genocide, etc., etc (unfortunately, there are many et ceteras to be had here.) But rather, I’m talking about some of the many, smaller evils that surround our American society today; the smaller evils that many people don’t even consider to be evil anymore. Evils such as violence, hatred, substance abuse, pornography, etc., etc (again, unfortunate.) But what exactly is the root of all of these evils?

I could be completely wrong; I’m definitely not completely right. Man rarely ever is. But I truly believe that many of these evils are caused by mediocrity. Complacency. Slothfulness. Indifference. A lack of motivation. What have you. The idea that a person is nothing else but a person, a physical, material person, is devastating our culture. The idea that there is no greater good than man, that man and his pleasure in life is his own ultimate destiny, is destroying our identity. And the idea that greatness is nothing more than the money you have, the cars you drive, the clothes you wear, and the people you see is corrupting our beings.

Man is so much more than physical. There are many other elements to man, but perhaps the one that is both the most important and the most lost is his spiritual nature. The idea that man is both body and soul; physical and spiritual; natural and supernatural. But this idea has been lost by our culture, a culture that doesn’t believe anything more than it can see with its own two eyes. But even though I’ve never seen Mohandas Ghandi, I sure haven’t stopped believing in him.

And if we accept this belief, this factual existence of a soul, then we must realize that man is really quite a meager being. A grain of sand in the world’s vastest desert. For there must be something that instilled this soul; some greater good that created it. Though I would love to go into proofs of God’s existence, I do not have the time. However, there are many credible and reasonable arguments in favor of God, and so I accept them and believe them. If you do not, then I respect that this is a step you have still yet to take and I leave it to better men. But I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and as such, I believe that the lack of belief in Him has brought our society into a deep depression. Without a greater power than man, man is his own judge, and therefore would seemingly have the right to do whatever he wanted. This is why God is important. Because you’re not the highest power. You’re not the greatest good. In fact, you’re really quite far away.

Finally, our society has come to accept mediocrity as the standard, the bar, the norm. Society doesn’t expect greatness of anyone. Not only is society indifferent to you if you do drugs, have sex outside of marriage, view pornography, talk disrespectfully of others, hold grudges, act irresponsibly, and basically do any wrong; it expects you to do all of these things. These things have become the norm of human society. They have become standard, and are no longer viewed as evil. Imagine if society recognized the evil that can be found in such things. It would crumble beneath the guilt and moral poverty. And that is exactly what we aim to do.

Above the Norm is a cultural revolution, designed to bring down the oppression of modern society, a Culture of Death, using faith, hope, and love through the most powerful mediums of all: art and voice. And while our artistic capabilities may be a bit more difficult to format on the internet, our voices will be heard. If you sing loudly enough, eventually some one will hear you. Any one can join and any one can post (until we find a better method, just send your posts to me and I will post them, after using my own discretion to decide whether they are fitting for the blog.) In the tradition of men such as Ghandi, let us use our voices as our weapons to combat the evils that face us.

If you sing loudly enough, eventually some one will hear you.

Let us pray:

That with the graces of God in Heaven we might seek to serve Him in all things we do and turn every action to Christ for His glory, and not our own. Help us to act lovingly and accordingly to Christ, for it is in imitating Him that we come to truly find Him. And in our darkest times of need and sorrow, let us turn to You with our hopes and prayers, our dreams and visions, that they might come to be perfect through You, Almighty Father, who are more perfect than we could ever hope to be.


So, are you ready to be Above the Norm?