Showing posts from March, 2007

S'More Controversy About Jesus?

I don't suspect that it's only because I live in New York City that the artistic rendering of Jesus executed by artist Cosimo Cavallaro. You can both read a report and watch news footage on CNN's website concerning how Cavallaro has sculpted a life-sized and anatomically correct statue of Jesus out of chocolate.

Apparently thousands of NYC Catholics - including Cardinal Egan and the Catholic League's Bill Donohue - have demanded that the exhibition of "My Sweet Lord" at the art gallery of the Roger Smith Hotel be canceled. In fact, on Friday the hotel released a statement that they will not be hosting the exhibit of Sweet Jesus - set to debut Monday - a date which just happens to coincide with Holy Week, the most solemn and holy week of the Church's year.

Here's my thought: I think people have, yet again, blown this totally out of proportion. I can't quite call his art tasteless - the 200 lbs of milk chocolate that went into creating this piece resi…

Weight Loss

First off, I have to say that I am simply tickled by some of the emails I've received (and blog comments) about my Faith Watchers post. If my mother can find one, I'll have her send a picture of Ryan circa 210lbs for public posting. It's a different version of me: 5'8, 210, lots of red hair, and glasses/contacts. Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days.

Someone asked me how I lost/kept off the weight. If I might be so bold, I'll make a few quick suggestions:

1. No soda (totally empty calories)
2. Drink Guinness (after you're 21, of course. Less calories than regular beer)
3. Skim milk rather than 2% or Whole
4. Blot the oil off of your pizza with a napkin -- you can get upwards of 1Tbsp of oil per slice
5. Skip cream sauces

Those are the "Thou shalt not" commands. I have one major suggestion for "Thou Shalt" :


I walk everywhere. To class. To the store. To the train. To take the steps.

When in grad school particularly, I used to pray in…

Faith Watchers

I've mentioned it here before, but I suspect that there are many readers who don't know that I am a proud alumnus of Weight Watchers. When I was a sophomore in high school, I think I tipped the scale at around 210 lbs. At 5'7" or 5'8" I did try to convince myself that I was big-boned or husky. Ultimately, however, I was able to recognize that, plainly and simply, I was fat.

This led me to join Weight Watchers. Each week I would attend meetings, I'd pay a $10.00 fee, and I would get weighed. As a group we would laud those who had lost certain increments of weight (every 5 or 10lbs) and our leader would give us advice about healthy eating and exercise. Our leader - Juan - was a successful attorney who had himself struggled for years before joining Weight Watchers. His way of expressing his gratitude was to act as a guide and resource for others who wished to lose weight.

I remember how nervous I was each week. I really did try to watch what I ate, skipping c…

I'll adMITT it!

So in addition to procuring a handy new rosary, I also bought something totally out of character for me: a baseball mitt.

For some reason I've been persuaded to be on the Blaqrobes Intramural softball team. Comprised mostly of Jesuits, we play our first game tonight against the Ram Van crew (they drive the shuttles here at Fordham).

This may come as a surprise to many, but I do know which end of a bat to swing. (The skinny end with a rubber grip). I don't move very quickly (or gracefully) and I'm hoping to play catcher - I make a decent backstop, even if my catching isn't great.

I do not operate with any great delusion about being a good baseball player (note: I operate with very many delusions, but this is not one of them). I figure it'll be a lot of fun to play with the other guys and to get more exercise. Perhaps we'll manage a team photo that I'll be able to share!

New Site

I no longer wish to post sheet music on this blog, so I've created a new blog that will host videos and sheet music to accompany "Fordham University's Introduction to the Irish Tin Whistle" course.

Check it out!

Rosary Woes

I'll admit it: I'm intrigued by the concept of the day spa. There is a part of me (a very very very small part) that has entertained the thought of spending a day in a bathrobe and having avocado or cucumber or tomato slices (whatever) put over my eyes to reduce the puffiness and then having a hot stone massage, a kelp--mayonnaise-sand body wrap, all while sipping trendy power drinks like guava broccoli twists.

I offer this because I do have a hard time relaxing. I'm not a big one for lounging around, so the idea of a day where to relax I have to show up for a bunch of appoints that will make me relax is seductive.

I face a similar dilemma in my own prayer/spiritual life. I hate to sit still. I pray best when I'm moving, when I'm able to have a LONG conversation with God as I take a walk. Insofar as I live in the Bronx and I find it distracting to talk to God while dodging traffic and side-stepping piles of dog doo, I tend to pray indoors.

Helpful over the years has b…

The Unicorn's Shadow

Karen Hall has issued something of a fatwa, or declaration of war, against me for introducing my dear friend Charlie the Unicorn to her and her unsuspecting family. Oddly, novice Jason and Karen's five year-old son and I have something in common: we all find Charlie to be lethally hysterical.

Let me offer this as an apology:

I am a Jesuit. I am poor, chaste, and obedient. In addition to this, I am going bald. I like to pray. I play the accordion. I teach a course on the tin whistle.

Do I sound like the poster boy for GQ?


I like cartoons - my father will attest that I would make every effort to watch the X-Men cartoons (even in college) and that I enjoy Pokemon. I still read the Harry Potter books (and the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings) and I'm proud of the fact that I am really little more than a big, bald kid.

So, Karen, I am SO SORRY that I find inane unicorns funny. I'm sorry that the spiritual quest they embark upon to find the fabled Candy Mountain …

Spring Break

I'll be in Chicago until Thursday, March 15th. It'll be nice to see my Jesuit classmates and friends studying at Loyola University. I doubt I'll blog from the conference but, then again, who knows how the Spirit will strike!?


Song of the Chanter

Sorry for posting all of these tunes!

This (final) tune is entitled "Song of the Chanter" and is yet another tune from my early days of playing.


Another trip down memory lane with Boulavogue!

Roddy McCorley

This tune is a blast from my past: it's the first one I learned (Mom, remember me playing this OVER and OVER and OVER again?). I am thinking of establishing a blog to host the sheet music I use for my YouTube videos but, until then, I will make use of this site. Thanks to Tom Hastings (my teacher) for sending me a copy of the music!

Charlie the Unicorn

Okay, Jason. I'll put it back up!

This is so darn funny. I've watched it about ten times and I can't help but laugh each time.

Trip to the Dentist

For many years, I have found it rather helpful when, in times of boredom or unease, to occupy my mind by saying the rosary. So when am waiting in line at the supermarket and not paging through the current edition of People, when I'm caught in traffic and getting annoyed, when I'm standing cheek-to-cheek with a burly biker on the subway - I find it helpful to slip in some "prayer time" if, for no other reason, than to make good use of the time.

Well I had to have a cavity filled yesterday. So, having been loaded up with a good dose of novacaine, I inclined my head back to give the doctor wide berth and access to my chompers.

I believe prayer to be a powerful weapon against the forces of darkness, against the listlessness of traffic, against the awkwardness of crowded buses. I believe prayer to put me into a space of greater receptivity to God and that it connects and places me into communion me with all those whose prayers strain outward from their hearts toward the Hol…

Hat in the Ring

I'm probably not supposed to plug a political candidate, but hey -- he's family! My uncle Brian F. Hagan has declared his candidacy for Judge of Rocky River's Municipal Court. You can visit his website at

Above is a picture of Mary Lou, me, and Brian at my vows this past August.


I went last night to see the play Translations written by Brian Friel. The play takes place in 1833 and concerns the events that transpire involving a hedge-school in Baile Beag, Ireland. A detachment of [English speaking] British soldiers/cartographers are sent to Ireland in order to create a new and up-to-date map while, in the process, standardizing the various names (all in Irish) by putting them into English. The creative tension is found in the love awakened between an Irish girl [Gaelic speaking] and a young Lieutenant named George [English speaking].

At the heart of the play, in a sense, is the radical insufficiency of language to communicate the reality we inhabit. In a particularly poignant scene, the two young lovers strain to communicate with one another, resorting to pantomime and gestures and loud words to break past the language barrier. But it is the in the embrace of the other, in the surrender to the gaze that defies language, that the reality of their love for one a…

In Defense of (Christian) Atheism

If there is a topic to make the blood of a believer boil, it tends to be atheism (or the liturgy, but that's a post for another day!). In light of a conversation I had with my friend Jane , I have been thinking a great deal about the topic of atheism and its importance in the life of faith.

To my mind, the intolerance and derisive way I have watched believers talk about "The Atheists" is deplorable. It is as though moral righteousness is de facto for one who avers belief in and denied to one who questions the existence of God. CNN carried on Sunday a story about a family that has been ostracized by their small town for demanding that their children not be subjected to Bible Study and Prayer at their public school.

I have always taken comfort in Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner's quote "I am a man who has been sorely tempted by atheism...but there is nothing more self-evident to me than the existence of God." For I, too, have long been wracked with doubts and que…