March 31, 2011

My virtual thank-you card

For those of you who have arrived at this blog through New Catholic Blogs, I hope that this rather eccentric collection of posts will interest you to some degree.  I actually started this blog just as the blogosphere was beginning to take shape, though I have not been as diligent in maintaining it as I could have been until recently, when I decided to write about my experience in chiropractic school as the first of my family to attend and receive chiropractic care.

My thanks go out to Andrea of New Catholic Blogs for getting the word out along with those of fellow bloggers. May you all have a blessed Lent in Christ, and may his mercy wipe away your greatest doubts.

March 28, 2011

A holy canonical reminder

I write this knowing that we are in the middle of a great penitential season, when on such Fridays we are obligated to abstain from meat without question. Having said this, what is about to follow may not be relevant now, but after we witness the glory of our Lord’s Resurrection on Easter, we will want to keep this in mind throughout the rest of the year.

It is little known in the Church today that we are still obligated to offer some sort of spiritual sacrifice on each and every Friday throughout the liturgical year (with one notable exception, which will be explained below). I first learned of this through a sort of public service announcement through EWTN several years ago presenting two men in a restaurant ordering dinner. One chose to have a hamburger, while the other requested a fish dish. The narrator explained that even outside of Lent we are to abstain from meat or, if we choose to eat it, offer another kind of sacrifice in its place. However, I was left wondering why: the PSA didn’t cite any source. It made no mention of conciliar teaching, canon law, or even the Catechism.

Because a PSA cannot fit everything into 30 seconds, many important details naturally had to go missing from it, so I dug deeper. Indeed, the directive is derived from an interpretation of several canons within the 1983 Code of Canon Law (CIC). Here are the important ones, with my emphases:
(c. 1249) All members of the Christian faithful in their own way are bound to do penance in virtue of divine law....[P]enitential days are prescribed in which the Christian faithful in a special way pray, exercise works of piety and charity, and deny themselves... especially by observing fast and abstinence according to the norm of the following canons.
(c. 1250) All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

(c. 1251) Abstinence from eating to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is not readily apparent from the canons themselves that we are allowed to substitute abstinence from meat with another spiritual sacrifice of our own. These canons, however, uphold abstinence from meat on every Friday as the traditional requirement, which some Catholics who are aware exercise as their penance anyway. Even though the US bishops have not elaborated further on canon 1249 as to what the “works of piety and charity” entail, the universal law still dictates that we are to offer a penitential sacrifice nonetheless. In the same way, the tradition of “giving up something” for Lent does not describe anything in particular -- we are to determine our penance in this case as well.

In my case, if I find myself eating meat on a non-Lenten Friday, I would pray at least the Sorrowful Mysteries...once I remember to do it, that is. This and other forms of prayer can serve as legitimate and efficacious substitutes for abstinence, as long as one remembers to do them in good conscience.

March 20, 2011

My first (and second) chiropractic appointment

Hearing some of my classmates talk about their first experiences with their respective student clinic interns, I expected my first visit to be purely diagnostic in nature. It was only my first physical exam, so it shouldn’t be too long to take, right?

Well, like all journeys, a map must be drawn, plotted and marked. Indeed, there was no exception for my first chiropractic appointment. I have heard that the physicals would take two hours “if you were really awesome with your intern”, as one classmate said. Not too long after I walked into an exam room, however, I realized just how thorough this physical exam was.

I was pretty surprised about the thoroughness of the exam itself: I was asked about my family history, common maladies (e.g. headache, fever, cold, flu, congestion, etc), prescription and OTC drugs, exercise habits, psychological condition (verified by a simple three-object short-term memory test), and, of course, how long I’ve had my physical “complaints.”

And that was just the start: he proceeded to tap a hammer on my ribs, elbows, and knees; listen to my heart and lungs in no less than 9 different places on the abdomen; take my blood pressure on both arms; flex, extend and rotate my neck; and flex and extend at the waist.

All of the above took 2 hours, which still wasn’t enough to cover the complete physical.

The next week, I rated the pain in my neck and left knee on a scale of 1 to 10 and indicated whether the conditions improved, worsened or remained the same. My intern then put me through several drills, including lunges, marches and leg-hip coordinations. I also did some stretching of the hamstrings and a yoga technique to assess my flexibility (or lack thereof). After all of that, I was given a consent form to read (with only about four pages of size 12 font) and sign with the staff doctor present.

In the second hour, he carried out a static palpation of my spinal column, from the upper cervical portion down to the sacrum. The first thing I noticed was when I felt fingers press with such high pressure against the thoracic zone -- I immediately winced like a delinquent second grader getting slapped by a meter stick. According to him, the sharp pain was there because my thoracic vertebrae were tight and unwilling to bounce back and say, “hey, I’m okay!” It turned out that all of my years of reading and writing in school at such a hunchback angle have finally come to bite me.

Even after this, he told me that he needed to draw up a treatment plan with his staff doctor (hence the map) before he could deliver any real adjustment. Four hours of appointments, and not one adjustment was made. Even so, I understood the purpose of long exams: they’re there not only to give you, as the doctor, an idea of what the patient is presenting, but to help you establish a record of ethical practice, which is supplemented by record-keeping and daily signatures.

It’s only going to get more exciting from here, so stay tuned for Part II of my fantastically wild chiropractic odyssey...

March 12, 2011

An update

EDIT: Refer to the comment made on this post for the proper context. I could not answer this simply in one comment.

Somewhere in the past week and a half, I received a great challenge from an old acquaintance -- the kind of challenge I was sorely lacking when I had come to think about going the chiropractic way. After all, I have had practically no experience with chiropractic before coming to Parker, and the word was never mentioned among my family members. (I can attribute this fact to our own ignorance about its benefits—even my mom, who has inherited some of her mother’s fear of chiropractic, is slowly beginning to open up to it.) I honestly didn’t think I would have needed an adjustment since I was staying fit while running on the cross country team in high school. Like many teenagers going through and coming out of puberty, I thought I was invincible: in a way, that very mentality kept me from seriously considering chiropractic.

This challenge came from a recent commenter on this blog, when the commenter assumed superiority in video gaming over me and my own abilities. In that first post, I had only meant to provide a humorous twist on the aspect of making my ultimate career choice. The real issue, moreover, lay in the commenter’s premise that I had chosen chiropractic without doing enough research on my own. I was given a link to a page of a 3/30/2000 article by a Ph. D who reportedly has been watching the profession for three decades and had much to say about it, including how “chiropractic encourages self-delusion.” The following establishes the author’s bias, with my emphases and comments:
“My doctoral dissertation, completed during the early 1970s [when the AMA was in a tizzy over the chiropractic profession, prohibiting MDs from associating with “unscientific practitioners”, lobbying for the exclusion of chiropractic from Medicare, and ultimately plotting to “destroy chiropractic” as a whole (see the case Wilk et al. v. AMA)], was based on a study assisted by nineteen chiropractors. My close association with these practitioners persuaded me that they were basically honest, hard-working, well-meaning individuals who believed that their treatment was effective even though no scientific studies had tested this belief. One of the chiropractors even acknowledged that the trouble with chiropractic was that it had never been proven scientifically [True, but only in the early 1970s; research on chiropractic’s theories soon followed, but are still under attack today by those who haven’t moved on from that period or are otherwise skeptical for other reasons].”
The “trouble” with the author is that he seemed to be stuck in the early 1970s. It is apparent that he carried his bias with him throughout the three decades, never giving much heed or credence to any research that followed up afterward. What’s more, he only gives one reference in his entire article: a list of Health Education Assistance Loan defaults by chiropractors. There was no substantiation to any of his other claims, other than the word of a few individuals. In my opinion, Ph. Ds should know better than to assert something without backing it up with authoritative evidence, even if it falls under an overarching opinion against chiropractic in general. In short, he has not given me a good reason not to pursue chiropractic.

In my first two posts, I have talked about my personal inhibitions and reasons for walking down the road of chiropractic, knowing that any path I walk will be arduous. There is no one single profession in this world that can claim to carry only pros and no cons. Every path has its ups and downs. Even so, I feel that the greatest good that I can do for humanity and for the common good lies in the practice of the science, philosophy and art (SPA) of chiropractic. I wouldn’t be saying this with such certainty if I weren’t able to offer this, this, and this as evidence of my conviction. This challenge has only pushed me further toward life-improving health care. I will not look back. And when I come to treat the honorable servicemen and women who fight to protect our country from evils domestic and foreign, I will thank my challenger first.

You have seen why I wanted to do this. Now you will come to learn how it can be done. After all: if I love my job, I won’t have worked a day in my life.

March 4, 2011

School of Ministry controversy at UD

Within the past 36 hours, the University of Dallas has been in quite an upheaval over the establishment of an undergraduate pastoral ministry major. This was mainly due to the reported heterodoxy among some of the professors in the School of Ministry (SOM) and the students' concerns with protecting UD's Catholic identity. Some background on the situation should explain the essentials.

The professors in question were exposed in a piece of commentary written by the parent of five UD alumni (two of whom I personally know) the day before the vote by the Board of Trustees was to take place. This led much of the University community -- particularly the resident students -- to gather at the campus' main student center near 7:30 Thursday morning to hand out copies of the above article to board members. As it turns out, however, the members had already read the article and the process was in the planning stages for months.

I received a letter from President Keefe in response to my email, and it reads as follows, with my emphases:

Dear _________,

I believe there has been a serious misunderstanding regarding the formation of the undergraduate degree in pastoral ministry. The program was developed at the specific request of Bishop Kevin Farrell, Bishop of the Dallas Diocese, because of the urgent need in the Dallas diocese and in the Church at large for additional lay ministers. Bishop Farrell has 64 active priests to serve the over 1.3 million Catholics in this diocese. There are presently seven parishes that have no priest to serve the parish, and over 15,000 Catholics go without the benefit of Mass each week.

When the University of Dallas was founded in 1956, Bishop Gorman stated that the purpose of the University was to support and serve the Church. This program was designed to do just that. Requested by Bishop Farrell and supported by Bishop Kevin Vann, Bishop of the Fort Worth Diocese, the program was developed by a joint committee of faculty, including distinguished members of the Constantin College Department of Theology and members of the faculty of the School of Ministry, and the program was approved by the Faculty Senate, the governing body for academics, and the Board of Trustees. The curriculum that was developed has been thoroughly reviewed and scrutinized by Bishop Farrell and Bishop Vann and has received their unqualified endorsement.

In 1990, Pope John Paul II promulgated directions for Catholic universities in the world through Ex Corde EcclesiaeEx Corde is very clear that the core of the instruction of theology at a Catholic university is to be reviewed and approved by the local ordinary and that the faculty assigned to theology instruction are likewise to be thoroughly vetted and reviewed by the local Bishop. Bishop Farrell has stated it is his responsibility to assure that the instruction of theology, the School of Ministry, and the attendant courses of study are truly orthodox. In a video on the UD pastoral ministry program, Bishop Farrell said, “Let me remind the Catholic people of the diocese that this is my responsibility, and I’m the one who has to stand before God. I do not take it lightly.”

I know that we all want what is best for the Catholic Church and the University of Dallas.  I can assure you that the President and the Board of Trustees want the same thing, as do Bishop Farrell and Bishop Vann. You can watch a video from Bishop Farrell about his rationale for this program at  You can also read a letter from Bishop Vann online at  I also invite you to fully explore the courses involved in the program itself, which include the entire Core curriculum, the Rome program, additional theology coursework taught by our theology department, an internship and a capstone project.  

I apologize for the length of this e-mail, but I know how important this is to all of us. 


Thomas W. Keefe
University of Dallas