“Better Call Saul”: a Reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday

Subtitled: “No, Really!”

First, it’s still Easter, so Happy Easter, everyone!  Second, upon reading this title you probably think that I’m either a total wackaloon or obsessed with Vince Gilligan’s work.  Perhaps I am, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a point.  :)

Better Call Saul, if you aren’t familiar with it, is a prequel series to Breaking Bad.  It follows the evolution of Jimmy McGill, a lawyer struggling to build his career and still do the right thing into Saul Goodman of the Breaking Bad series, a successful but sleazy lawyer who’s only in it for a buck.

Jimmy spent most of his life in Illinois as a small-time con man and petty criminal until he made a huge mistake and Mom summons his lawyer big brother, Chuck.  Chuck is the classic elder son: overachiever all his life, successful in his career, always bailing kid brother out of trouble.  Chuck gives him an ultimatum: move to Albuquerque with me and turn your life around, or go to prison and be labeled a sex offender.  Jimmy agrees to the move, and turn his life around he does, eventually managing to finish college and law school online while working in mail room at the law firm Chuck founded.

At the end of season 1, it seems that Jimmy has redeemed himself: he’s spent the last year taking considerable care in looking after his ill and home-bound brother, he’s built a practice in elder law and his concern for a client who said she had an allowance led him to a huge class action lawsuit.  Chuck assisted him at first, but when the case became too large for two attorneys, they sent it to Chuck’s firm.  Jimmy is certain this will get him a job at the firm and the rejection crushes him.

At first, Jimmy thinks Chuck’s smarmy law partner Howard was out to get him, but then the truth comes out…

What might have become of Jimmy if Chuck had shown him mercy?

God shows us mercy even  – especially – when we don’t deserve it.  Today, on the feast of Divine Mercy, remember what God’s mercy has done for you, and what you can do to show mercy to those around you.

Good Friday

For your Good Friday, a recording of Stations of the Cross:

Don’t forget it’s a day of fast and abstinence!

THINX: A Review

Subtitled: “Men Probably Want to Read Something Else”

Sub-subtitled: “Holy Week isn’t the Best Time to Discuss Shark Week, but is There a Good Time?”

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No doubt the ads for these period-proof underwear have cropped up in your Facebook feed.  And yes, I said I wasn’t going to buy new clothes this year, but my curiosity (and irregular cycles and hatred of tampons) got the better of me.  So, I ordered a few pairs and gave it a whirl.

The Good:

  • These things actually work! No stains. Anywhere.  Not even on my lightest colored slacks!  Aunt Flo tends to surprise me so I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this.
  • Moisture wicking helps with more than one type of bodily fluid.  During one of the days I wore these, I went for a 3 mile walk.  Usually I find myself extremely sweaty after such things, but the THINX prevented that.
  • Reusing is always better for the planet than disposing.  No plastic applicators and no insecticides or chlorine from the cotton are major pluses as well.  For more on the environmental impact of pads and tampons, read this and this.
  • Care is relatively easy.  Rinse and then throw in the wash, but remember to keep them out of the dryer!
  • They look pretty!  The Hiphuggers and the Cheeky are easily the fanciest looking underpants I own.

The Meh:

  • Sizing can be tricky.  I found that the Hiphuggers were a little snug on me.  For this variety, I’d suggest buying one size up from what the size chart says you are.  For the other types I tried (Cheeky and Sport), the size chart was accurate.  They also have three other varieties (Hi-Waist, Boy Short, and Thong) which I haven’t worn, so caveat emptor.

The Bad:

  • If you have a heavy flow, you can’t solely rely on these.  The most absorbent variety of THINX (the Hiphuggers) only holds 2 tampons’ worth.  I’ve known women [cough] who can go through three or four times that many on CD1.  If you’re one of them, you’ll probably need a backup*.

 

Overall: Strongly recommended!

*If you’re looking for an eco-friendly backup, stay tuned…

7 Quick Takes – So How’s Your Lent Going?

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 1. We’re coming up on the 5th Sunday of Lent!  How have you been faring?  I’ve done well with my social media fast, although other resolutions have been more difficult. With two weeks to go, let’s see if I can get this together.

2. I’ve decided that going to Daily Mass or Adoration is a lot like going to the gym.  For all three, the hardest part is actually getting off the couch to go do it.  Once I’m there, I’m glad to be there and once it’s over, I feel like it was a good use of my time; it’s just overcoming the inertia that’s a struggle.

3. In further signs that I’m sliding towards old age, I took a knitting class last weekend.  My grandmother used to knit all the time when I was a kid but didn’t want to teach me, and I need something quiet to do while DH is either working or sleeping.   I’m actually rather pleased with how my first project (a dish cloth) is going so far!

4. You’d think a chapel veil-wearing lover of Gregorian chant such as myself would be a regular attendee at Latin Mass, right?  Surprisingly, not so much.  I finally attended a Latin Mass for the first time last weekend.  It was a strange experience, both completely foreign and surprisingly familiar.  I didn’t realize how much of the TLM is whispered by the priest, which made following along in the missal difficult.  However, it was one of the most beautiful Masses I’ve ever attended, and I’ll definitely go again.

5.  Does anybody know of a good place to find retreats for adults?  I haven’t been on a religious retreat since high school and I think that’s something that’d be good for my prayer life.  (I couldn’t go to Blessed Is She’s retreat because I had to work.)

6.  I’ve discovered that The Screwtape Letters is much funnier if you imagine that Screwtape has the same voice as Douglas from the BBC radio show “Cabin Pressure.”  If you’re not familiar with “Cabin Pressure,” listen to this clip.  Douglas is the second person to speak.

7. It’s Friday and it’s Lent, so we need a chant! Here is “Attendite Domnine.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life” vs. “Breaking Bad”: A Meditation for Lent

Subtitle: “No, Really!”

Y’all probably think I’ve lost my shit with this post.  Wrong: I lost my shit many years ago.  :)

Anyway, one of my favorite movies is It’s a Wonderful Life and one of my favorite TV shows is Breaking Bad.  At first blush, these two have nothing in common: BB is a product of the 2010s, extremely violent, full of profanity, and set in the Southwest. IAWL is a product of the late ‘1940s, quiet, in black-and-white, set in generic Middle America, and nary a curse word in sight.

Despite that, both of these can teach us something about the human experience.

[Obviously, this post will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for both, so don’t read if that’s not something you want to see.]

 

In season 2 of Breaking Bad, Walter sneaks into Jesse’s apartment late at night while Jesse and his girlfriend, Jane, are both in a heroin-induced sleep.  Walt attempts to wake Jesse up but accidentally puts Jane onto her back, where she begins to choke on her own vomit. Walt then has a choice: he can flip Jane back over, wake her up, and help her cough up the vomit safely  (meaning that Jane will know who Heisenberg is and want a cut of the business and Walt will lose some of his control over Jesse), or allow her to die (meaning that his identity will remain undiscovered and Jesse will be tighter in Walt’s grip).

Walt does nothing, and Jane dies.

The repercussions of that inaction are shattering.  When Jane’s father, Donald, returns to his job as an air traffic controller, the grief over his daughter’s death causes him to make a terrible mistake…

167 people die in the crash.  Donald himself winds up as collateral damage – during season 3, Walter hears on the radio that Donald has been rushed to the hospital due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  We never see the character again, so presumably he dies.

Contrast that with George Bailey…

Twelve-year-old George, his nine-year-old brother Harry, and a bunch of other boys are playing on a frozen pond.  When Harry falls through the ice and struggles to get out, George doesn’t stop to think; he dives into the freezing water after his brother and drags him to safety.

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George’s action also has grave repercussions.  At the beginning of the movie, the narrator emphasizes the fact that diving into the freezing water caused George to lose his hearing in one ear.  The hearing loss rendered him 4F (unfit for military service) during World War II, a fact that a patriotic man like George  would have found extremely embarrassing.  His embarrassment would no doubt have been confounded by the fact that his brother was about to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor for saving a transport ship full of soldiers.

Later on in the movie, Clarence shows George the other side of the story:

“Every man on that transport died.  Harry wasn’t there to save them because you weren’t there to save Harry!”

Finally, the parallels between the beginning and the end of both works are striking:

In the pilot of BB, Walter is surrounded by a happy family and feels like a nobody.  In his efforts to be somebody, he alienates his friends and colleagues, his sister-in-law, wife and son grow to hate him, his brother-in-law is killed, and he is directly or indirectly responsible for nearly 200 deaths.

In IAWL, George begins feeling like a nobody, but grows to realize that he’s built a happy family, kept Mr. Gower out of jail, kept his town out of ruin by standing up to greed, is directly responsible for saving two lives (Harry and the kid Mr. Gower almost poisoned), and is indirectly responsible for saving 200 more.

Throughout IAWL, we see how George’s decisions improve his family and community’s life, and throughout BB, we see the destruction wrought by Walter’s decisions. Ultimately, both are about how one person can make a difference.

Now, use this Lent to find out how you can be a George Bailey.

Something For Leap Day

John Oliver masterfully takes down Trump.  Long but well worth watching, and please share!

7 Quick Takes – Flint

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Since it’s Lent, the season of almsgiving, today’s Quick Takes are about how to help our brothers and sisters in Flint.  That 21st century Americans have been poisoned by their government is disgusting and shameful, but we don’t have to sit idly by.

  1.  Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties provides bottled water to Flint residents and is taking donations online here.
  2. The United Way of Genesee County provides water filters and is taking donations here.
  3. The Genesee County Hispanic/Latino Collaborative provides water filters and Spanish language information to undocumented immigrants and is taking donations here.
  4. In it for the long haul? Head to FlintKids.org, which is run by the Community Foundation Greater Flint.  In addition to responding to the immediate crisis, they will provide early childhood education, pediatric behavioral health, healthy food, and educational services.
  5. Do you live near Flint?  If you do, the Flint Volunteer Reception Center has volunteer opportunities for everything from distributing bottled water to entering data.
  6. The Flint Water Study is a group of researchers from Virginia Tech who blew the whistle on Flint’s water quality.  Their work is still ongoing, and a donation will help them continue this important work for Flint and other communities.
  7. It’s Friday and it’s Lent, so we need a hymn.

Here is the Salve Regina Solemn Tone:

 

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.