Through a dark glass - musings on the Catholic Church from an outsider on the inside

I hope more eyes than my own will visit this site and find it of interest. Perhaps my perspective as a non-Catholic working for Liguori Publications will intrique. From time to time, my thoughts may scandalize but I hope they never bore.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

What do You Say?


Well, hmmm. This is awkward. What do you say when it has been so long since you've said anything at all? You think about posting. Occasionally you even start to type, but the idea for that post seems forced. Or worse yet it seems like a normal post and you've been away far too long for a normal post to work. Your last post? February 16th. Today? July 3rd. Ouch!

I have to be honest, I've missed you Dark Glass. Looking back, it couldn't have been any different than it was - but I regret the time lost none the less. Please don't say anything now. I know we can't go back, but just maybe we can go forward.

Think about it.


P. Del Ricci - Dark Glass

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dangerous Faith


A couple of years ago I was contacted by a good friend that I hadn't spoken to in a long long time. "Joanie", not her real name, and her family were going though a horrible experience and she needed to talk. I was stunned as she told me that her daughter had been sexually abused. I was crushed when she told me by whom.

Last year, Liguori Publications released Catie the Caterpillar written by Tracy M. Schamburg, LPC and illustrated by Melanie Riley. Catie is a colorful children's book intended to "help break the silence of sexual abuse". After the numerous Priest sexual scandals in the Catholic Church, Liguori had been looking to provide a product that would help empower victims of any age to come forward. I was working on a project to send samples of the book to counselors and child service organizations, so I called Joanie to get some ideas of people to contact. As we talked, we wondered how others might benefit from her tragedy. It was a big request, but I asked if she would consider doing a guest post on my BLOG. She said she'd think about it.

I don't know that time has healed these wounds, but it has lent enough distance that Joanie has been able to share some of her ordeal here at Dark Glass. Comments to this post are encouraged and will be read by Joanie. I will forward any email as well.


P. Del Ricci - Dark Glass


I’ve read yet another story in the news today about Shawn Hornbeck, the oldest of the 2 boys recently rescued from their kidnapper. It is very upsetting to see how the media so callously reports every little detail.

When my daughter was 6 she told me that her father (my husband of over 20 years) was having her perform an unspeakable act. My first reaction was to assume there was something wrong with her – perhaps the beginning of a mental illness or a hallucination caused by some weird reaction to a daily medication. Lucky for her, I realized in very short order that her descriptions of what was happening could not have come from adult magazines or movies – she knew things that cannot be known except by being a participant.

Pedophiles don’t wear signs or have tatoo’s that identify them. In fact, if they weren’t so good at blending in there would never be any victims. They are also very good at keeping their victims quiet and even close friends and family often have no idea that they have such dark secrets.

In that very short time between disbelief and realization that she was telling the truth, my now ex-husband tried to persuade her to recant. He told her that he was dying – she was killing him by telling me. He told her that she was “breaking up the family”, and that I would send her away to live alone or with strangers. The things he said included her dying a horrible death, being kidnapped, the rest of the family turning our backs on her, etc. She believed every word he said. He’d kept her quiet with physical and emotional abuse and I now know she was able to come forward only because she thought he was going to kill her. And some things, like “breaking up the family” did happen. I’m careful to talk about the divorce in ways that convey Daddy is responsible for breaking up the family but she feels guilty anyway.

Four years after the abuse ended, she still sees a therapist. Charges have not yet been filed because she’s not emotionally able to testify against him. Thankfully, we aren’t famous so the media isn’t standing on my porch demanding details of her abuse. We are proceeding at a pace that is comfortable for her, not on newspaper deadlines. And because my ex-husband isn’t newsworthy, the media isn’t destroying our case by revealing sensitive details. We might have a chance of getting a conviction if & when she’s strong enough to face him in court.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Vacation in La Cocina?


Despite my best intentions, I have fallen WAY behind on the proper care and feeding of my BLOG. Not only have I not made any new posts, I haven't even responded to all the great comments I've gotten in the last couple of weeks. I'm tempted to blame it on the wisdom tooth I had pulled last week, but the truth is I just haven't had the power surges that ocassionally come along and allow me to take on the world. So today, I'm going to recognize my current limitations. I'm going to distract you all with a virtual tour of my kitchen and work in a couple of long overdue "shout-outs".

A good friend of mine spent several hours yesterday mapping every detail of the design into these scale images. Apparently the new kitchen will be haunted. I've hardly started knocking walls and the budget for this project has all ready exploded. I suspect that this year I'll be vacationing in La Cocina.

Something about these images keeps reminding me of Second Life, the new 'virtual' existence that seems to be taking both the personal and business world by storm. When I think of what a challenge it is for me to maintain a BLOG, I can't imagine spending the energy to live a parallel life.

My first shout-out today goes to my good friend Kathy Sheldon. Kathy is a reporter and editor at The Sporting News here in St. Louis. I recently gave Kathy a copy of And God Said, "Play Ball!": Amusing and Thought-provoking Parallels Between the Bible and Baseball and she was kind enough to publish a review of it on her Sporting News BLOG! Is she a great friend or what? If you've read Dark Glass very often, you've probably seen me talk about And God Said, "Play Ball!". I hit that one a lot. Next to our cookbooks, "Play Ball" probably has the broadest appeal of the Liguori Publications' line. Later this Fall, author Gary Graf will be treating us to "It's Good!" a football themed title designed to help the sports fan to get in touch with their spiritual side.

My second shout-out goes to Chandira, the Hope Fiend. Chandira is a fellow spiritual pilgram walking the BLOGosphere and encouraging the flames of enlightenment she encounters. I don't pretend that much wisdom resides here at Dark Glass, but she is a comfort to me none the less. She is also a favorite of Br. Secundo over at Mystic Alchemy and that is a BLOG with wisdom in residence.

Last but not least, a big shout out to Kiwi Nomad. Kiwi is another of those of BLOG friends who always lend their support and encouragement - even if she did recently say that I am still an absentee landlord! Kiwi is actually up to 3 BLOGs now (and I can't find the time to keep this one). I suggest starting with Kiwi Nomad's Wanderings and branching out from there.

WOW - for a quickee this has turned into a long-winded post! I have a lot of ideas for where I want to take Dark Glass in 2007. Most are concepts that will take a little more care and attention than what I can spare to publish several times a week. Until I get that going I'm going to try to catch up on my shout-outs and ramble about my kitchen.


P. Del Ricci - Dark Glass


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Shout, Shout, Let it all out


Well it's been another crazy week. I thought I could at least handle a post of shout-outs and say hello to the folks that were kind enough to leave comments. Apparently even that was a challenge. So before we cue Tears for Fears singing "Shout", take a look at the picture to the right. That was taken after the ceremonial first blow of the Kitchen Demolition 2007 project. Nothing else has happened since this photo was taken but symbolically it was huge. As soon as approve plans from the kitchen designer, the dust will fly!

This week's renter:

To your upper left you'll notice this image -

If you click on that image (and you know that you want to), you'll be magically transported to the New York Nitty-Gritty. Truly a favorite site of mine that I repeatedly vote for on the BLOGExplosion challenges. Apparently I'm not the only one since the site HAS THE NUMBER ONE RANKING! Anyway it's a photoblog that posts images of everyday New York City scenes. The scenes may be ordinary but somehow the images give an impression of communing with other realms.

Ok, well this is a big cop out, BUT I have to run. It's driving me crazy that I haven't had a post up in so long so I'm going to hit Publish and we'll shout some more another time.


P. Del Ricci - Dark Glass

Kitchen Demolition 2007


Here we are just a few days into the new year and a few days into the 'Renaisance' of Dark Glass. Work was pretty crazy last week and I just couldn't find the time and energy to tap out a new post. I had quite a bit of low hanging fruit I could have chosen too. I've been really lucky and had lots of comments in the past couple of weeks. I always like to do a shout-out to anyone that leaves a comment and that doesn't really take a lot of focus. Somehow I felt I needed another 'real' post before I did that. Result? - Nothing posted. Sooo, today you get to hear about the thing most pressing on my mind. Drumroll please, Kitchen Demolition 2007 (said with the echo of a Monster Truck announcer).

If you've read Dark Glass even occasionally, you'll know that I bought a beautiful but 'as-is' old house just about a year ago. There have been some pretty massive projects since then; replastering the walls, refinishing the floors, installing 200 amp electrical service, and putting in a high velocity air conditioning system (August in St. Louis is liquid) just to name a few. As a result, we've become pretty happy with every room on the first floor. Every room that is but the kitchen. The filthy, nasty, grease caked, worn out kitchen. For a entire year year now, I haven't even had a stove! The counter tops (which were cheap and ugly new) have deep cuts and BURN marks all over them. The plywood cabinets are literally coated in a thick film of grease. Yet somehow I'd managed to get used to living with this.

A combination of exhaustion from all of the other do it yourself (DIY) projects and fear of the cost of remodelling the kitchen created an unspoken "it's not THAT bad" attitude. Oh sure, most of my dishes were still packed and in the basement because there was no way I was going to let them touch those filthy cabinets. True, there was only a hot plate, roaster oven and microwave to cook with (and in nicer weather the bbq grill). Still, I obviously wasn't missing any meals (I've gained significant weight this year).

Anyway, yesterday morning I met with a kitchen designer. Not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. Usually I pride myself on being able to make these types of decision. I love researching every little choice and learning how to install or repair whatever it is. I found I just couldn't do it with this kitchen project. Too many choices. Way, way too many choices. Hundreds of kitchen cabinets, hundreds of countertop options. Thousands of blacksplash and floor possibilities. Millions of combinations. None of it cheap and none of it easy to replace if I didn't like what I chose. So anywho, Sam (the kitch guy) is drawing up some plans and I'm getting ready to migrate the what there is of a kitchen to the basement. It's probably worth mentioning that the only area of the house that's scarier than the kitchen (and I'm including the attic) is the basement. I suspect I'll be eating out a lot.

Once everything (including the fridge) is moved out my full scale assult on the kitchen will begin. Walls will come down, cabinets will be hacked into pieces and floors will be pulled up. Finally a project that doesn't require subtlty or finese! To paraphrase Michael Caine, What's the point in owning a sledge hammer if you're not going to use it?

Obviously, this little project will be on my mind quite a bit for the next several months. Expect lots of pictures and a healthy dose of cursing. I'll try to catch up on those shout-outs in the next couple of days. Until then, I'll leave with a few titles Liguori Publications titles. What type you ask? What else? Cookbooks!


P. Del Ricci - Dark Glass

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Thanks For the Comments!

Click on the images to see more detail.


I'm like most BLOGgers when it comes to an obsessive love of comments. Whether the remarks are positive or negative - I love the feedback. So as a result, I try to richly acknowledge every comment that I get in the BLOG 'currency of the realm'. That's right - a permanent link back to the commenter's site! So please don't be shy, drop me a line.


Many thanks to Reid for leaving a message. I was building points at BLOGExplosion the other day when I saw photos of the Chihuly glass exhibit at Missouri Botanical Garden. It caught my eye instantly because 1. It's a breath taking exhibit and 2. It's right across the street from my house. I left a message at the site and got a reply pretty quickly. It turns out that Reid, of Reid's Random Remarks, is a St. Louis native attending school at Stanford. He must be a pretty bright guy, Stanford is a pretty picky institution (and birth place of the all knowing Google). I've included a few of my own night shots from the exhibit. It sort of looks like the Gardens have been attacked by a family of Flying Spaghetti Monsters. You should check out Reid's as well. His were taken during the day and I suspect he actually knows how to use camera.

I hope that everyone has had a good start to 2007. I'm heading into work tomorrow for the first time in a week and half. Somehow I'm guessing that none of my co-workers cleaned up my office while I was out. I'm going to make a serious attempt to keep up with my BLOGging this week. I have some commenters to acknowledge and quite a backlog of stories to tell from 2006. As always most of my posts will involve Liguori Publications in some way or another.


P. Del Ricci - Dark Glass

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Absentee Landlord No More


It really wasn't that long ago that I was completely immersed in the whole BLOG 'thing'. I started Dark Glass for several reasons but chiefly to promote my company, Liguori Publications, and to train myself to become a little freer with my writing (as you can see, I now easily settle for less than perfection). For most of 2006, I didn't have the time, energy or focus to keep up with my own BLOG. It wasn't long after I started neglecting Dark Glass, that the other BLOGs in the Liguori family began to look run down as well. Feel sorry for the Simple Brother at Saintly Sinner, pity Br. Secundo Pio at Mystic Alchemy - I'll be snapping the whip in 2007! I'm also working with two new writers (that is cajolling, whining and stalking) to expand the Liguori BLOG community with a Liguorian Magazine themed BLOG and a Libros Liguori BLOG focused on Hispanic Ministry. I'll keep you posted on those.

So this marks my third post since my return to BLOGville and have settled back into the old habits pretty quickly. I close my eyes and see BLOGexplosion. When I dream, I dream of BLOGmad. Despite the new found enthusiasm, I have deferred a lot of maintenance and am now playing catch-up. I should probably have waited to build my traffic up again but with the super low rent of only 10 BLOGexplosion credits - I went ahead and advertised for a new border. That said, please welcome (and by 'welcome' I mean click the billboard) Gaby, the forever 17 Glamour Girl! This lovely Senorita hails from Mexico (a country which has corrupted me with its beautiful beaches, fattening cuisine and tequila). Her BLOG really stands out to me. Her typical posts are quite short and usually involve everyday life. At first I rolled my eyes about reading the everyday life of a 17 year girl, but somehow her writing style carrys it off. One of her posts, Perfume De Violetas, is disturbing and stuck with me.

Well, I need to get my day started. I'm having a few friends drop by tomorrow night to help me usher in the 2007 and surprisingly, my house isn't clean. The soundtrack in my mind is playing "17 Again" by Annie Lennox - take that as another hint to visit Gaby.


P. Del Ricci - Dark Glass

Thursday, December 28, 2006

El Presidente Nuevo


Well two posts in three days ought to count for something. Granted I've taken the entire week off from work and re-energizing Dark Glass while I sip a glass of 1800 Reposado Tequila is better than a lot of ways I could be NOT cleaning the basement, NOT writing my novel, or NOT studying for the GMAT (more on that in a future post).

In my last post, Time for Revival, I mentioned that 2006 has been a strange year. By 'strange' I mean to say 'full of change'. By 'full' I mean 'filled to the brim and running down the side full of change'. I'll resist the urge to type out a huge list of all the things that have been going on and dole them out one per post. Until I get back in the saddle on this BLOGging habit - I need all the topics I can get my hands on.

Among the more important changes that have occured at Liguori Publications, is that we have a new President (at Liguori, the President is also the Publisher). After more than seven years it was time for Fr. Harry Grile to serve in a new appointment. Despite our affections for Fr. Harry, it was not a time for tears. As one old friend was leaving, another also found himself in a new appointment. Our new President (or El Presidente Nuevo as I like to call him) was to be none other than Fr. Mathew Kessler, CSsR. Fr Mat had been Editor of the Libros Liguori Spanish language imprint for the past five years (Fr. Mat press release). The St. Louis Review recently did a very nice interview with Fr. Mat that actually reveals some of the complexity of our physicist / linguist / theologian (hunter, pipe organ repairer, etc.).

Fr. Kessler (who has appeared previously at Dark Glass) takes the helm at a precarious time for the publishing industry as a whole and for Catholic publishers in particular. With his roll up the sleeves and get it done attitude, and close familiarity with the people who buy our materials; he has a stronger chance than most to strengthen the company. At only 44, he's the 'young whipper snapper' of the Redemptorist order and emits a certain vitality that has become rare. He's the fun and quirky type of person that some crazed BLOGger might have thought would appreciate a neti pot as a Christmas gift. ; - }

Following Fr. Mathew Kessler in the role of Libros Liguori Editor is Jose Antonio Medina. Antonio is an established figure in Hispanic Minstries and has been published many times by Liguori and other houses. Antonio will be the subject of future BLOG posts so for now I will only refer you to the press release.

I'll leave you with a bi-lingual title today, written by none other Jose Antonio Medina. It's focus is on Advent, so my timing is a little off but the title fit so well with the topic of today's post that I couldn't pick another. Living in the Present, Imagining the Future / Vivir el presente, imaginar el futuro: Advent Prayer Services for Young Adults/ Servicios de oración en Adviento para jóvenes - putting the title in both languages makes it a bit long winded but still appropriate.

P. Del Ricci - Dark Glass

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