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I will get into my Father's family upbringing more some other time. But again, poor, hard-working, blue collar, rural, Midwestern. We had a saying growing up that "he really bought the farm" when someone had an accident or wiped out. Basically, it meant that he might have died. As it turns out, my Dad's oldest brother died on the job at 19 when my Dad was 8. The $7,000 life insurance that he had was what my grandparents used to buy the farm which my dad (and I) grew up on. Oh, an my Dad's mother told my uncle Derald who was 18 at the time "I wish it was you that died and not Robert". Yeah. My uncle Derald and my Dad were partners in a masonry business for about 20 years before my uncle retired. He was more like a Father than a brother as my Dad's dad died when my Dad was 33 (from Cancer... it's a family thing).

We had that farm in the family from 1949 until 2022 when he got sick and couldn't keep it up. My Dad was hardworking and was a good man. He was faithful and a good provider. He was a lot more reserved and less affectionate that my Mom would have liked. He worked for himself, so he worked hard. But he also did a lot of business in a lot of bars like the one you worked in growing up. Prior to cell phones my mother used to have a chart on the wall with phone #s of the bars in the little towns around us. It looked like a subway chart. So if my Dad was working in a certain town she would look at the 1st bar and start calling when it was supper time to spur my Dad on to get home for supper. Funny thing, we moved there in 1974 and he was driving until 2021 when he got sick. In 47 years he was never pulled over despite usually have a 12-pack on the floor of the truck.

So my parents both lost a sibling and despite jawing at each other, were pretty happily married. I was the oldest son with a younger sister and youngest brother. I was and am very ADD. Not an athlete. More academically inclined. Weirdly, I developed a LOT of friendships. I always felt like an outcast, but my sister (who speaks at conferences with 500 millionaire brokers and gets heaps of praise) points out that I was the glue among all of the friends. That's just not how I remember it. But okay. I recall that I like PEOPLE and I like being around people. I wasn't always the most popular, or the funniest or the smartest. But I liked to bring people to together and tag along. I also have always had a few very tight, intense friendships that I think only ADD people can have. That's what I remember. I think I'm still that way.

So I'm rambling as per usual. But as I said, you hit a nerve on the Faith part. My middle daughter says she's not a church-goer as they don't want to push their values on my granddaughter (2 YO and talking up a storm. Beautiful like my daughter and with long beautiful hair like her dad... as I like to tease him about). My middle daughter (MD) was the rebel who I didn't think would live to 25. I remember chasing her miles out of town at 80 because her boyfriend broke up with her, she was drunk and she said she "wanted to just die". I ended up indian wrestling her to the ground on country road while calling my wife to call someone to hold her for 24 hours... and my wife occasionally tries to tell people that I am too easy-going and not willing to die on any hills. Hmmm. But as I tell my MD, she and her fiance were both raised "in the faith" and benefit from that. So not raising my granddaughter in a similar way is depriving her of that same benefit.

One of things that I like about what you write is the vivid details. I shared that article I noted with them in the hopes they would keep reading. Here is what I wrote to all 3 of them:

This is today's blog by Michael Herman. He is a writer on Substack that I follow. He gives full access and he doesn't charge. So that's cool.

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He comes from lower-middle class Baltimore. Was raised Catholic. He talks a lot about his upbringing and the experiences that are very vivid. I would expect he'd write a book at some point with these musings. I like him because he just seems very real and I think you can read what he writes and kind of feel what he felt when he had those experiences. And he describes himself as ultra-conservative, so you can kind of see how a person can consider themselves to be of that political persuasion, but also tell people to reach out to this girl and sit down and share some wisdom with her and give her a hug.

To me, this is the kind of person that personifies America. Striving to figure out their idiosyncrasies growing up. Trying to overcome their origins. Working hard. Having experiences that at the time seemed like a distraction but later on in life seemed like the real lessons that needed to be learned. Finding their niche in life and then finding a person that they can share that life with. Trying to do their best. Sometimes succeeding but looking back and wondering whether they made the right choices. I think there's a certain humility to what he writes as well.

But I think more than anything, he does a good job of making you look at life now and see what is going wrong and read his stories and realize the things that maybe weren't ideal, but were the right things done in the best way people were capable of doing them.

You should read his old stuff too.

Dad

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So I don't know if you realize all of this about yourself. We're just making it up as we go... I think you did say that. So I think your Catholic faith carried through in your life despite not being devout in your adulthood. I hope your children profited from that as well.

I made my OD read Marcus Aurelius growing up (homeschooling). Stoicism isn't Catholicism, but they aren't in opposition either. I think you can do both but I think it's kind of dualist. You have your faith for the supernatural and stoicism for the natural. So be contemplative. Have values. Be steadfast. Because the family helps order society, but the Father helps order the family. Well most. My wife and I have a little role reversal going on. But as my friend with 15 kids said "One parent needs to be the heart". It's better if it's the wife. But they can't both be stern or it'll destroy the kids.

So order yourself. Order your family. Raise them in the faith and instill values. Educate them and make them strong in their beliefs. But don't shelter them because they have to be able to survive in the world. And if you do it right, they will be leaders and others will follow them. But also, have Faith in God. Have Hope. Show Charity. Be patient. Be kind whenever you can. Show restraint.

That's the plan of course. Being human means that I talk to much, complain too much, drink and eat too much, pray too little, am prone to laziness and am far too self-pitying. We as individuals are no different from the Church as an institution. As I stated, God didn't promise Heaven on earth, just the means and circumstance to achieve salvation. So when you fall, you dust yourself off and you get up again. By God, you get up again. And again.

And you know what? In all that struggle there are a lot of true times of joy and peace and happiness. It's sometimes hard to appreciate them because we learn they are fleeting. Weirdly, I almost relish it when life is beating me down, because I so enjoy the upswing. When things are good, I always feel like I am just about at the peak of the roller coaster and dreading the ride down. But old age mellows me a little. Life is less stressful for my wife, so there's less drama... not NO drama, just less frequent and less severe.

And when my day comes to meet my maker. I will say the right words. I will try to comfort my family and will probably joke with them. I will try to set a good example for them to follow. And I hope that, as with my Dad, that is one of the many stories they tell to their children and grandchildren. And I hope they keep the faith and always get back up when the fall.

ttfn

chanson56215@gmail.com if you want to confer.

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My mother told her that she needs to talk to my wife or it will affect the type of mother she is to her kids. My daughter says it does. My mother told her about growing up in that crazy household and how her Dad was her saving grace. My OD says the same about me. But I honestly feel guilty because I let some of my frustrations show over the years and because I wasn't mature enough to know how to address those issues when I saw them. So I don't think I earned that. But my mother told her "All I wanted was a good job, a good husband, children and good friends... and I had all of them". My dad just died this last August after a 2 year fight with cancer so it's pretty raw still. My mother said "You have ALL of those things. But you need to forgive to realize it and enjoy it".

I did share your "SS if you can live long enough" blog with my 3 girls. I think you have hit on the nerve of what it's like to be our generation. I am a bit younger than you (born in '67). But I have seen the defeat of the Soviets and the slow suicide of the US in my lifetime. Those 2 are clearly connected. We are a country that can only maintain unity through external struggle. In that way we're like every other tin-pot dictatorship.

I read a book that talks about the 10 subcategories of politics and I am 100% in the flag waving, church going category. My family in MN are all Democrats and I am conservative. Ironically, one of my good younger friends was the former head of the ND Democratic party. That's another thing about me. I like people for who they are, not their biographies. I voted for Trump 2X and would a third. But I wish DeSantis had more charisma. We need someone that is smart and has a plan and can fix things. I think 90% of Trump's problem is that he didn't have a plan when he won. So the establishment recommended people to him that betrayed him and he just shot form the hip day-to-day. Then he runs into the Obama corrupted deep state and the whole Russia-gate thing and it all went south. I also think that Trump represents a shift in the politics of the Country. The GOP has always been the Country club crowd and the DEMs were the working man. But then they moved away from religion and towards the race baiting in the 60s. Then to environmentalism. Then to racial identity. Until now they are more elitist and more autocratic than the GOP.

Trump being Trump, saw what Reagan saw and said, "Hey the working class minorities are up for grabs"... so he spoke to them and won their support in 2016. The DEMs seeing that decided that he had to be destroyed. Because the GOP doesn't really have someone with that charisma that can speak to the minorities. So they came after him personally and they started to drum up the racial tensions which boiled over with George Floyd thing. Which, by the way, subsequent records have showed that many lawyers in the DAs office quit over the charges. The ME is on record initially stating that there was no trauma but that it was a heart attack due to lifetime drug abuse and current drugs in his system. So Trump wins and the deep state loses it's mind and starts to corrupt the system of justice to turn the tables. But they leave us with a mess when people increasingly are looking to the state for guidance... because the weren't raised in a faith, they didn't have both parents at home, they were told in school that were founded on slavery and white privilege, that we're destroying the environment, that capitalism is terrible, etc.

So the DEMS are trying to keep the minorities from flipping to the GOP by going after Trump. I expect you read Matt Tabibi and Bari Weiss and Ruy Teixara? As I said, I like people not biographies. So I really like Democrats who have "seen the light" in the varying ways they have. You know the DEMS are giving up on the Hispanics when men with Hispanic last names now qualify as "White Supremesists" when there's a shooting. Welcome to the club people. It's not as nice as it was made out to be.

So your recent blog on Faith hit home. I get what you're saying about growing up Catholic. Man, that really went to shit in the 60-70s. We have friends where the wife went to Catholic girls' college in MN and they AND THE NUNS would march for "Womens' Choice" on abortion. That diabolical. So I probably came from a better place converting to Catholic than most people who were raised "In the faith"... as it seemed they were trying to destroy faith, not foster it.

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That's a good question.

We have very different backgrounds. I grew up in rural, western Minnesota. Norwegian/ Mutt background. As I said, rural conservative Lutheran Church. My dad (and now my brother) was a bricklayer and my mom did odd jobs and went back to school to be an LPN when I went to college. Both my parents came from very meager upbringing. My mother's mom was married at 15 and a mother at 16. My grandfather was 25. My sister says she used to think that "was so romantic"... but realized that it was so much when we got older.

My mom said that when she was like 12 or 13 that my great grandfather (who I think was born in what is now Poland) sent her and her sister to help his brother take care of his children because he couldn't feed them. My grandmother's uncle made them sleep in the chicken coop. Based upon the stories my mom tells, it was pretty clear that my grandmother was bi-polar. My uncle was an alcoholic and a 2 or 3-time born again Christian. My aunt was also and ate valium like candy. She died at 56, the same weekend my oldest daughter (now 28) was born. My mother's youngest brother had to join the army because he was into drugs and ended up dying in a car accident when the driver had a heart attack and hit a tree. Amazingly enough the driver lived.

My mom was the 'weird' one as my grandmother liked to say. But my grandfather, despite marrying a 15 year old, was an exceptionally calm, kind man. Also, a huge talker, which was incredibly weird for Norwegians. My mom got that and I got that from her... chatter, chatter, chatter. My grandfather would take her out to the fields with him and put her in a little carseat he rigged up on the horse-drawn plow to get her away from my grandmother.

So jumping forward, my oldest daughter (28... married to the former monk and minor league baseball player) butts heads with my wife, as I stated. I love my wife, always have. But my dad always said he warned my brother and I about German women! She was an only child. Dad was a Vietnam vet. Very introverted. As my (wonderful) mother in law states, he would only talk when he drank and then he would drink more and talk more and let everyone know what he didn't like about them. But my wife just saw the perfect couple. When she was 16 she found out her parents were divorcing and her dad left. Now jumping forward, they have both been (fairly happily) remarried to great people for 29 and 36 years respectively. And I get along fine with my father in law. But it scarred her.

So my wife decided she wanted to stay home with the kids and then decides to homeschool because my OD taught herself to read at 3. I am the sanguine, phlegmatic type so I typically go along with any plan if it's what someone wants. As I said, my girls are well educated, but it was a struggle. I recall getting phone calls when my wife was watching my 3 girls (1, 3 & 5 at the time) and 4 other children and she's crying saying she was going to lose her mind. I remember thinking my kids were going to be dead when I got home... it never happened and she was never physically abusive. But it was hard on her and hard on them... and it was hard on me and us. And my wife wasn't used to getting praise and encouragement growing up. She was fortunately close to her grandparents, who were wonderful. But criticism and withdrawal were easier for her and my girls took that as disapproval and disappointment and they all have had a lingering sense of insecurity from it. My wife think that's silly, but I lived and live that. She rarely gives compliments or shows affection except in response. She has always been beautiful and when she was happy she could light up a room. But then menopause and COVID hit and the wall goes up and she broods. Oh, did I mention that her father was adopted and we tracked down his birth mother who is 94? Found out twins and depression run in the family... I have twin grandsons and I could have guessed at the other one.

But I love my wife and I committed to her for life before I was a committed Catholic. And then I became a Traditional Catholic and so I practice the Christian virtues. I try to be patient. I try to be kind. I try to have faith that a day will come when she looks around and appreciates the life, husband, children, grandchildren and friends that she has. You know, this makes her sound terrible... and she's not. But she's incredibly introverted Melancholic, Choleric personality and somehow became even moreso in middle age. And I am the Sanguine, Phlegmatic. So we're opposites. I have always appreciated that balance and I think my sister (who is a broker consultant) showed her some of the test she does and got her to read an Empathy 101 book. We and our kids also did the 4 geniuses test and my sister pointed out that we were the best combination... because we were different. But I still think my wife wishes I were "more like her Dad". Well. No.

So anyway, my OD was talking with my mother a few months ago and confides in her about my wife and the ill will she feels towards my wife from growing up and how she never felt like she was good enough. This is my daughter that read at 3, played classical piano, was in the Army guard for 10 years and lost partial hearing from her right ear from shooting a 50 cal. She's beautiful (the best man at the wedding described his impression of meeting her... "she looked like a blond Russian spy from the movies"), she's articulate (perfect ACT on verbal/writing), she's a good wife, but she carried some baggage into her marriage.

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My experience with religion I’m sure is the same as any who spent twelve years in parochial school. The Baltimore Catechism first thing every morning for eight years. For years I could cite it chapter and verse. Basically anything that was fun was Sinful with a definition. Then in high school they dressed up the same teachings with a bit of philosophy. Apparently I still didn’t get it because I went on to a Catholic University where they basically approached religion as from a philosophical standpoint. All the philosophy to me at least at that time of my life was nonsense and pretty much still is today. But somehow in those first eight years the Nuns taught me that I had FREE WILL, which made me responsible for my actions. That was all I needed . Be responsible for your actions and respect others and their views. Thank you Sister Teresa.

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I am a huge follower of your blogs. And I totally think that you should put them all together into a book at some point. There's a theme to your writing in case you haven't noticed.

I have been wanting to ask you about your stance on religion. I was raised conservative Lutheran, married Catholic and became a Latin Mass goer because I was 'disillusioned' with the Catholic Church that I saw. So, I am a "Traditional Catholic" aka a Trady and we mostly homeschooled because we wanted to be the ones to educate our kids. That was a mixed bag, but I wouldn't change that if I could. They are all well-educated, but the head-butting with my German wife took a toll on everyone that we haven't completely recovered from.

Despite that upbringing, had the same experience with kids that a lot of people have today. Fortunately, they all survived to adulthood. Ironically, I don't say that jokingly as I have one (who is doing great now, is a mom and is in her last year of nursing school) that I wasn't sure was going to see 25.

My three girls are all over the board. The oldest married a former monk (also a former 2nd round pick for the Oakland A's back in the Moneyball days... check out Grant Desme if you want to see an interesting story). That one and my youngest attended Ave Marie over by Naples. My youngest is anti-Trad but is a good churchgoer. The middle one seems to be following the path you laid out. Very conservative, respectful of religion, but not a sit in the pew type.

I have warned her that will bite her in the ass. She said "Well it's easy for you and mom, because you just believe and don't have any doubts"... uhhhhhh... sure. I don't know whether to be proud that she thinks that or embarrassed. But, as I told each of them, you won't think you need Church when you're young. Then, when you get a little older, you aren't going to be in the habit and the kids will give you Hell because they don't want to go because you didn't get them used to it. Then somewhere along the way, something is going to happen in your life... it might be infidelity, or bankruptcy, or illness, or depression... but you will reach a chasm in your life that you can't cross... unless you have faith. Now it's easy to say "Sure, I'll have faith". But that's like say "Sure, I'll be able to lift that" but then not staying in shape for 10 years. As Father said (In a sermon, you should try it) today, the Graces are like a muscle. You need to work for them, so they work for you.

I also told her that despite not attending Church, both she and her fiancé were raised Catholic and thus benefitted from all of the teachings that accompanied that upbringing (which you noted). I said, despite your reservations, you OWE that your children (she has a 2-year-old daughter with her fiancé). Her fiance's father parents should be working on him, but I think they have a similar view you did.

As regards the failings of the Church... you talked about that a bit in the past. Yes, they're horrible. A lot of them have been a result of the communist infiltration that happened in the mid-20th century. Then Vatican II happened, and people thought priests were going to be able to marry and orders such as the Capuchins became hotbeds of active homosexuality. In essence, the Vatican was like what you said about your family, they decided that they didn't need to do things like they always had. They kind of said "Hey kids, how do you want to do religion?". And that went as you would expect.

And as the Catholic Church has gone, so have most of them. And as religion has gone, so has society. As society has gone, so has our government. We literally live in a world where people with semi-pagan beliefs are better than that average Joe. At least they have some sort of moral code. But the vast majority of society has fallen into barbarism.

But as our Priest said today, God never promised us Heaven on earth. He promised Heaven in Heaven as well as the means and circumstances to attain that. And often, the circumstances most conducive to holiness are NOT sports, wealth, ease, etc. Just look at your Old Country of Ireland. When they were poor, they fought with the Protestants, but they held firm to their Catholicism. But 30 years of financial prosperity and they make abortion and homosexual marriage legal and Church attendance has fallen off a cliff.

So when you think of the aphorism, "Hard times make strong men, strong men make good times, good times make weak men and weak men make hard times"... that has a LOT to do with human nature and the Church. We are on the cusp of the last 2 works in that phrase "hard times".

My thoughts aren't so organized as yours. But what I am saying is that you have hit on a HUGE, HUGE lesson. Society needs us to be wise enough to realize that we need to do some things because they deserve doing, even if we don't want to do them at the time. Because society is made up of people and it reflects their values. So you can't have a country full of agnostic, hedonistic, money-oriented people and expect that we'll have any sort of virtuous society. So, if you DO want that society, you have to order your faith, then your immediate families and set an example for your extended family and friends and coworkers and acquaintances...

My best friend was an only child and his parents were divorced when he was 7 or so. He was an only child, was super smart, charismatic and was his own man as a young adult. Early on those graces were wasted. But he met a girl, went to college and ended up moving to where I live and started a family. He also is a Trad like me. As of right now, he has 15 kids and the oldest just got married. He has a beautiful family, fabulous house and a great life... and some great friends if I say so myself. He and his kids will make this a better world.

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I'm a 66 year old lapsed Irish Catholic woman (former Democrat) who somehow found your substack, for which I'm grateful. We have much in common, and I look forward to reading your daily blog. "Let Us Pray" was timely, and especially resonated with me. "But in removing oneself from organized religion you lose a connection to valuable benefits, ideas and concepts." - YES! We've lost so much. I've been so disturbed by world events the past few years that I've considered returning to church and praying the rosary. The recent removal of Bishop Strickland recently definitely gave me pause, and led me down yet one more rabbit hole: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1622828461/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1. I wouldn't know where to go if I actually did decide to return to church.

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For many organized religion lost its power to function as a moral authority. Can one look at the wealth, corruption and hypocrisy of the Catholic church (or you pick the protestant denomination or any religious group) and square it with the message of Christ- not easy. The challenge for "secularism" is establishing a substitute that functions as a moral authority. The world you describe is a world for many, but not all, that has not found that substitute. It is there Michael and I suspect even without religion your children understand it.

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While I agree, I would add religion is very much alive. The God of the Bible was replaced with the Ego - the god of Self. Nietzsche was right, "God is dead".

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