The Hoola Hoop Mission

Hula hoop image, Gorilla,

Hula hoop image, Gorilla,

It’s a simple joy – hoola hooping. And that seems to be the reason Carissa Caricato left her job to travel the world.

A few years ago when Carissa traveled to Haiti for earthquake relief efforts, she brought a few hoops to share with the children. Amidst the devastation she discovered the power in these simple hoops to bring people together and transcend barriers of language and culture.

An Excerpt from Christian Piatt's New Memoir 'PregMANcy': The Pee Stick

PregMANcy: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.

PregMANcy: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.

We're delighted to share with you an excerpt from Christian Piatt's forthcoming (April 1) memoir, PregMANcy: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date:

“Screw it.”

These two words are what started the baby ball rolling in the Piatt household, back in January. After months of counseling, discernment, weepy nights and sleepless mornings, I submitted, succumbed, caved in like the roof of a Geo convertible.

I know “screw it” is an ironic choice of words, considering the circumstances. I also think it’s sadistically ironic that we men are biologically tuned to love sex so much, yet we’re usually the ones who freak out the most about the byproduct. I’m a typical male, visually aroused by anything vaguely resembling a boob or a booty. Also, working from home and sharing responsibility with my wife for the daily development of our four-year-old son, Mattias, makes me somewhat abnormal. And it’s this shared responsibility, I think, that makes having another kid such a big deal for me.

Earth Mother: My Definition of Pro-Life

Earth mother. Imge via Getty Images

Earth mother. Image via Getty Images.

As a Pro-Life Catholic Mother of three beautiful children, I was surprised by the joint statement released by The Cornwall Alliance about the Rev. Mitch Hescox and the Evangelical Environmental Network's mercury campaign. I was shocked when the Cornwall Alliance joint statement declared the definition of Pro-Life as merely an "opposition to a procedure that intentionally results in dead babies."

I am an ardent Pro-Life and Children's Environmental Health Advocate. In the Cornwall Alliance statement they note that "most environmental causes promoted as pro-life involve little threat to human life itself, and no intent to kill anyone." I have spent the 6.5 years researching environmental toxins and their impact on our born and unborn Children's health. The toxic environmental exposures, like mercury, are directly linked to many life ending, life threatening or life altering diseases in our children.

Vatican to Hold Global Summit on Sexual Abuse

VATICAN CITY — Ten years after the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in the United States, Catholic bishops from all over the world will meet next week at a Vatican summit aimed at preventing abuse and protecting children.

The conference, "Towards Healing and Renewal," will be held on Feb. 6-9 and is organized by the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome.

The Vatican's top spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told reporters on Friday (Feb. 3) that the summit enjoys the "full support and participation" of the Vatican's highest offices, but Pope Benedict XVI is not expected to attend.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's chief abuse prosecutor, said the protection of children must become "a permanent principle and concern" in every decision of the church.

"There cannot be a distinction between the good of the church and the protection of youth," he said Friday.

When It Comes to Welfare Reform, Britain is Not So Great

Union Jack mural in disrepair. Image via

Union Jack mural in disrepair. Image via

Gandhi once said that "a nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable." Today, it strikes me that the "Great" in Great Britain should probably be quietly dropped, and replaced with "Abject," "Inadequate" or something equally disparaging.

For that is how the UK is currently treating its most vulnerable — the young, the elderly, the disabled — inadequately, abjectly and without compassion. For the last few weeks, a battle has been raging between the government, the legislature, the Church, organizations, and the general public over a piece of legislation called the Welfare Reform Bill.

The bill is wide ranging in its ‘reforms’, covering a myriad of social security measures – from disability benefits, to welfare offered to the unemployed and their families and children. At a time when austerity and budget cutting is front and center of the government’s agenda, ‘reform’ is a by-word for ‘cutbacks’.

The crux of the legislation is an attempt to distinguish between different categories of "the poor," to weed out the “undeserving” from the “deserving.” Sadly, as can be seen from the uproar that the Bill has caused, this attempt has failed.

Collateral Murder and Preemptive Love

Artwork by the artist Banksy. Photo by Shane Claiborne.

Artwork by the artist Banksy. Photo by Shane Claiborne.

Today I was catching up on emails and came across two messages that deeply affected me, maybe because I read them back-to-back. 

The first one is from a friend who helped release the “Collateral Murder” video via Wikileaks, showing US troops shooting some unarmed folks in Baghdad, including two children sitting in a van as their family stopped to pick up the wounded and dead.  It is one of the most disturbing and heartbreaking videos I’ve ever seen. Feel free not to watch it.

NOTE:  If you do watch the video inside the blog, please know that it is contains vivid images of war. It was released here: 

The other email message I read was just the opposite. It was about life.

Attending Your Own Funeral

Grim Reaper by Getty Images

Grim Reaper by Getty Images

I’ve been writing this week about inspired vision and embracing radical change even in the face of the death of present systems. But the experience is different when applying the same principles to our own lives. The following is taken from my upcoming memoir, PregMANcy, due out in a few weeks. The setting is about four years ago, when my son, Mattias, decided his latest obsession would be death.


I’ve noticed that Mattias has been more fearful in general lately, which concerns me. Part of it, I think, has to do simply with the fact that he’s smart enough to think through possible scenarios. As I’ve observed with him a number of times before in the last two years, he’s able to process a whole lot more intellectually than he can process emotionally. Eventually, his emotional wisdom should have plenty of opportunity to catch up, but for a four-year-old, any gap in development is more pronounced.

Two years ago, when he was only a year and a half old, Mattias was jumping from the side of the pool into my arms and going underwater. Last summer, he and his cousin spent most of every waking hour in their grandmothers’ pool, diving to the bottom for toys and to do tricks. Now, with floaties on both arms, a mask and a snorkel, it’s all I can to do get him off of the top step in the shallow end.

What the hell happened?

Rape: The Horrific Tale of Two Surveys

Protester holding placard, 2010. Image via Wylio.

Protester holding placard, 2010. Image via Wylio.

Earlier this week, the Burlington Free Press broke the story about the circulation of a provocative online survey among members of Sigma Phi Epsilon — the largest fraternity at the University of Vermont — which included the question: "If I could rape someone, who would it be?"

On the questionnaire, fraternity members were asked to respond to questions ranging from the benign (“Who’s my favorite artist?”) to the debauched (“Where in public would I want to have sex?”) But it was “Personal Question #3” — the hypothetical rape question — that drove the university to put the fraternity on suspension.

The University of Vermont’s chapter is under investigation by Sigma Phi Epsilon's national office. Women’s and other human rights groups in the Burlington area circulated petitions, gathered for protests on campus, and have called on the university to terminate the fraternity once and for all.

This isn't the first time the men of University of Vermont’s Sigma Phi Epsilon aka “SigEp” – a fraternity founded on the principals of “Virtue, Diligence, and Brotherly Love” – have gotten themselves in trouble. A few years ago, SigEp’s national office temporarily revoked the school’s charter, stating that the house’s hazing rituals and other risky behaviors made the organization vulnerable to lawsuits.

It’s impossible to ignore the significance of the most recent SigEp transgression in light of a very different survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the day after the Vermont story broke.

The CDC study found that nearly 1 in 5 American women have been raped.

Santa Knows All (Even Your Budget)

"Santa and the girls." By Joe Shlabotnik via

"Santa and the girls." By Joe Shlabotnik via

*Warning: SANTA SECRETS AHEAD. Shoo the children.*

In rough economic times such as these, we try extra hard to get the kids in our lives a little something special for Christmas. We may have to tighten our belt to the “painful” notch, but it’s worth it for the face you get in return for the Tickle Me Elmo, or the ZuZu pet, or whatever it is this year.

But what about Santa? Does he have a budget? He certainly has a belt, but does it get tightened in harsh (let’s not say LEAN) times? Maybe Santa could stand to lose a few…

Well, according to Fred Honerkamp, Old Saint Knick understands your finances.