Individualism is the Enemy

With the latest Batman, Dark Knight, movies it is hard to imagine batman made into a children’s movie, that is at its base a comedy, and yet takes on tensions that have been in America since its founding and are prominent tensions even today:  Family and Friendship vs. Individualism.

There are two phrases referring to the family and community that I have heard as an adult: Edmund Burke’s “little platoon” and the then First Lady, Hillary Clinton’s book,  It Takes a Village.  With age, and possibly a little maturity, I see that both statements are true.

A few thoughts come to mind when I think of America’s ideal man, the rugged individual, whether from the movie Shane, and the even historical and somewhat mythical heroes like David Crockett and Daniel Boone, to Hunter Thompson’s Raoul Duke, Gordon Gekko, and even the Coen Brothers, the Dude. Lego Batman may begin the movie as the individual hero, alone; the movie takes on Batman having to  overcome himself.

What we see in the first Lego movie is a coming to terms of a father-son relationship and acceptance of everyone’s uniqueness through open creativity using legos not just the making the image on the box.  The  Lego world and figures are communal.  It is through Emmett’s story we see the natural desire that Emmett has to have a community and see him for what he is, which he does not even know until the end, a master builder.

Lego Batman is the ideal vigilante super hero, except he does not have even have superpowers, he is just one ultra-cool, kick-butt hero.  Two powerful scenes struck me near the beginning of the movie, the first as he is defeating the Joker, Lego Batman denies their unique hero-villian relationship, all the way to the point of stating that he, Batman does not need the Joker.  The second scene is as Lego Batman leaves the praise of the entire city of Gotham behind and returns home to his island, which it is mentioned is bits really and physical island but all a reference to an emotional island.  The fourth movie trailer #4 presents both of these scenes.

With all the one line humor stated by Lego Batman, the audience is presented with the dilemma of the movie, Lego Batman overcoming his attachment issues as we see presented as his emotional island.

With the help of his father-figure, Alfred, his newly adopted son, Richard Grayson, and his platonic friendship/co-worker/possible crush Barbara Gordon, Lego Batman confront his attachment issues in order to successfully defeat the Joker in his latest plot to destroy Gotham.

Lego Batman perhaps does not quote Burke and or Clinton, but does open up to acknowledging those around him becoming part of a family…

The movie ends with the song, “Friends are Family” with the lead vocals by Will Arnett and Jeff Lewis.

I am looking forward to the sequel…

Lego Batman…the Anticipation is Almost Over

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I have been thinking about the newly released Lego Batman since seeing the first trailer almost a year ago. Not focusing on the expense of movie tickets, but we do not go out to see all the latest and greatest, but use special occasions to take the family or a majority of the children to see a movie.

So what is the special occasion for taking the family to see Lego Batman?  That is just it…this is the Lego Batman Movie and that is enough.

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I was truly surprised by the themes and success of the the first Lego Movie.  I waited to see in the comfort our own home. As I sat down to view it with some of the children, I am sure the thought of “taking one for the team” shot across my mind.  I can say that I was beyond surprised and enthralled about the theme that “Everyone is Awesome.” Maybe because I thought we were all awesome?

The character who stole the show though…was Lego Batman!

Even at the end, in his most gracious Batman way, he lost Wild Style, aka Lucy, to Emmett.

Over the last few months as further trailers and clips have been released,

A few questions have come to mind:

  • Are the Lego Movies the next Pixar studio franchise, always a hit, always with a message?
  • Is Lego Batman the franchise for the Lego Movies or can Emmett or another character(s) hold their own in Lego Movie 2 or other spin-offs?
  • What is or are the themes for Lego Batman?

This last question I foresee there may be two themes that have come across the trailers, clips and now even seeing the song titles to the movie soundtrack that was just released as well: 1. Individualism and Friendship; 2. Subtlety of Pride and Admitting mistakes (Humility)

I am still not a betting man that the movie will overtly present these themes, but I have caught glimpses.

More than anything, I am anticipating a movie that will be enjoyable and the theater as a whole will have moments of laughter.

Requiescat In Pace, Noah Antony

Noah Antony

NWA-OCA 2.2 

February 10, 2017- Memorial of St. Scholastica 

I begin with some thoughts about today’s feast of St. Scholastica, the sister of St. Benedict. A story often told about the two them concerns their last evening together. Once a year the two of them would come together at a house outside of the monastery in Monte Cassino. At this last meeting they passed the day in prayer and conversation. As the day came to an end, St. Scholastica implored her brother to stay and pray with her into the evening. Though he was moved by her emotion, St. Benedict insisted that the time was right for him to leave. She turned her prayers to God and fervently asked for his intercession. Our Lord responded with a thunderstorm that shook the area and lessened St. Benedict’s resolve to leave. He stayed with her and they prayed through the evening. She died only a few days later after that meeting. The story is told as an example of St. Scholastica’s great love for God.

Today, we in Northwest Arkansas had the visitation and rosary for a young man of the community, Noah Antony. He was suddenly taken from this world a week ago and tomorrow will be his funeral mass. The young vibrant life of Noah touched so many. My family and I are new to the area but we see the reach he has had among his peers at college, in high school and in his family’s faith community at St. Raphael’s and beyond. This week has begun a time of loss and suffering for his parents, siblings and family.

I mention St. Scholastica and the Antony family, because as they suffer this week and in the time to come, it is in fervent love and solid faith that they are an example to those who know them and see them in this time of grief. The love that St. Scholastica offered up to God to pray with her brother through the evening, I see in them. Even now in their time of grief, they are offering such similar prayers of faith that show a profound love for God.

May we, their friends and family, truly offer up prayers for them and the soul of Noah with the purity and fervor of St. Scholastica tonight, tomorrow and the days to come. Let us ask our Lord to grant them peace and the Blessed Virgin Mary to embrace them as she did the infant Jesus, wrapping him in swaddling clothes to keep Him warm and close to her heart.

Requiescat In Pace

Obituary

Legacy

Catholic Schools Week, the Afterword

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NWA-OCA 2.1 
February 3, 2017- Memorial of St. Blasé

For me, the week has been filled with a number of different activities celebrating Catholic Schools Week, both as a parent and in founding Ozark Catholic Academy.

I began the week releasing a short video celebrating Catholic Schools Week.  I would like to thank Trolly Line Bookstore for allowing us to film the video inside their store.  As we filmed in the a nook which was categorized as poetry and classics,  I did leave with three books in hand: One Man’s Meat by E.B. White, a hardcover novel by Dr. Samuel Johnson– Detector, and a hardcover of Henry Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis.

St. Vincent de Paul, in Rogers, and St. Joseph, in Fayetteville, both had school masses where students in uniform came together and participated in mass in numerous ways. At St. Vincent de Paul, board members had a table with our brochures. As parishioners left mass, they were handed the bookmarks we created for them this week. Many small conversations took place and the bookmarks were well received.

At St. Joseph’s in Fayetteville, they had the school mass at 9:00am followed by an Open House for the school.  I manned a table after the 9:00am and 11:30am mass in the narthex and handed out bookmarks as well.  Fr. Jason Tyler announced at the end of each mass that I was present in the back to answer questions concerning the high school. Parishioners were warm in their comments and thoughts and openly received bookmarks. Probably the most voiced comment from people was that they were glad to hear the high school was happening and have always been interested in having one. I stayed for the beginning of the 1:30pm Mass in Spanish and greeted parishioners as they were entering church.

One conversation with a mother focused on the importance of teachers and how her children’s teachers had really made a difference in their lives. But, she said that something was missing even then—it was not within a Catholic context. Meaning that she thought as good and personal as those teachers were, if their teacher-student relationship had happened within a Catholic school, the possibility of their relationship could have been even more rooted in Christ. She expressed her happiness about a Catholic high school coming, and she hoped her youngest daughter would be able to attend.

In the early afternoon, we published our latest video celebrating Catholic Schools Week.  I hope that if you have not had a chance to view it, you will.

Later this afternoon, the St. Joseph’s and St. Vincent ’s 5th and 6th grade basketball teams are competing against each other. OCA will host a few competitions during halftime. The winners will receive the very first Ozark Catholic Academy t-shirts. We hope to post pictures and short videos on our FB and web pages later this weekend.

Here is a link to my talk on St. Thomas More presented at St. Stephen’s on January 23, 2017.

In celebration of Catholic Schools Week, here is a link to all the images that were created to visually present, “Why a Catholic Education?”

My sincere thanks to Mrs. Katie Harris who has volunteered to help with the videos, audios, and images created for our social media.

Thomas More: A Man in the World, Rooted in Family

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On the evening of January 23, 2017 I was able to give talk on St. Thomas More at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Bentonville, AR.

Here is the audio split into two parts: the talk and the Q & A.

Talk

Q & A

Vendors, a Lecture and Office Space

 

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Thomas More Sketch found at University of South Florida

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January 27, 2017 – Memorial of St. Angela Merici

Vendors
The typical operations of a start up school continue…building relationships with our bank, Arvest, as well as finding possible vendors such as printers.  I have tried three printers out in the NWA area thus far trying to find not only a good price but also a printer who desires to do business with a start-up, a business that treats us like a long term or larger client.   In future posts I will recognize the printer/s I am choosing to work with, but at this time I am still looking around and seeking recommendations.

Area Charter School
In participating in the NWA Schools Choice Festival, my table was adjacent to NWA Classical Academy table.  I met Ms. Susan Provenza, the headmaster, along with a few of her administrative team members. On Tuesday, I was able to tour their school, and meet with Ms. Provenza to discuss their curriculum and how they are unique to NWA.  I have been getting summaries of the individual schools and all the options here in NWA, but over the next few months I hope to visit traditional public, charter, and private schools in the area to introduce myself, get a snap shot the unique educational opportunities they bring to NWA and begin to build collegial relationships. These relationships with other schools will allow me to better understand how to begin Ozark as strong as possible, understanding the educational community is key as there are many schools, public and private that have recently opened or expanding.  The Northwest Arkansas community is supportive of non-profits and in particular education options, so Ozark Catholic Academy hopes to enter this healthy educational market in a unique position in terms of our Catholicity, character formation, and curriculum.

Office Space
I was officially offered some free temporary office space, which will allow me a place to get work done outside of the house on a day to day basis.  Most of my day is spent driving place to place meeting people, but having a quiet place to follow up with others whether through emails or phones calls is a blessing.

St. Thomas More

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University of Dallas Professor, Gerry Wegemer’s book is great for today’s fathers.

On Monday evening, I gave talk at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Bentonville, entitled, “Thomas More: a Man in the World, rooted in Family.”  The audience was made up of parishioners as well as those from the NWA community.  My purpose was to enrich the audience with the life and ideas of Thomas More and hopefully to inspire them to learn more about him.  I used examples of his upbringing and education, as well as his relationship with his father, Judge John More, Prince Henry (soon to be King Henry VIII), his friendship with Erasmus, but moved into a few details discussing More’s relationship with his wife, Alice, and his children, particularly Margaret, his oldest.  I discussed how More’s goal was to prepare the soul of each child for the reality of life.  We can observe that he lived this understanding in how he guided the family as a whole but also how he interacted in a particular way with each child. Guiding More’s thought was the reality that grace builds upon nature.

 

The reality is the faith never goes without [reason]…[I]f reason is allowed to run wild and grow overly arrogant and proud, she will not fail to fall into rebellion against her master’s faith.  But on the other hand, if she is well brought up and well guided and kept in good temper, she will never disobey faith, being in her right mind.  And therefore let reason be well guided, for surely faith never goes without her. (Thomas More Source Book 278)

More’s end goal was for each child’s soul to enter into heaven, but without self-rule, which was grounded in well-trained reason, a child would not be prepared for life.  With the overwhelming amount of technology and gadgets in our lives today, More’s educational philosophy is even more relevant for ourselves and our children.

Concluding Thoughts

The lecture led me to contemplate ideas for next week’s celebration of Catholic Schools Week.  Look for a week of social media posts (YouTube Video, and our entree into Instagram) giving thoughts to why one should choose Ozark Catholic Academy in NWA when you have so many good choices already. The ground has been tilled and now the seeds are to be planted…

A great place to learn about Thomas More is the Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas, founded by Gerard Wegemer.

An unbiased plug for my alma mater….the University of Dallas is known as

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NWA-OCA #2

January 13th-Memorial of St. Hilary

So…I am pondering what to say exactly…the day to day details…the meanderings of getting to places on time as I meet new people and reconnect with others now that we are officially here?

Today, the Rocha family wrapped up our second week on the ground in Northwest Arkansas.  The family is adjusting and we are making headway in getting Ozark Catholic off the ground.

Like any business, OCA’s success requires that its business affairs and finances are in order, solidifying our development database and as well as our business office services.

I was able to add to our community of OCA supporters as I reconnected with Joe Patch, IV, who attended St. Thomas High School with me.  Joe was our varsity football, contributing to our winning the State Championship in 1988.  He recently relocated to NWA where he has family roots.

Tomorrow I have the opportunity to promote OCA at the NWA School Choice Festival and I am busy preparing for Catholic Schools Week. Our focus for the overall NWA community is to keep an active and visual presence.

This journal entry also serves the purpose of keeping a strong presence on social media and really getting the word out about NWA.  The Planning Board has also been foundational in its support of spreading the word and seeing opportunities that will benefit OCA.

Friends, Readers, and Supporters in Northwest Arkansas, in Houston, or wherever you live, LIKE the school Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and share this post.  The twentieth century man of letters, Russell Kirk, said often that we in America and in the West, “Stand on the shoulders of giants.” Let us stand with those who have worked diligently over the years to make OCA a reality.  Ozark Catholic Academy is coming in the Fall of 2018 — Stay with us, Support us and Spread the word.