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Thursday, July 31, 2003

That ain't no way to treat a lady.

My main problem with Prof. Fredriksen, et al., is the too-superior dismissal of the Gospels:

We already knew that Gibson's efforts to be "as truthful as possible" (his own words in the Times) would be frustrated by the best sources that he had to draw on, namely, the Gospels themselves. Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, whose texts were composed in Greek between 70 C.E. and 100 C.E., differ significantly on matters of fact.

* * *

The evangelists wrote some forty to seventy years after Jesus's execution. Their literary problems are compounded by historical ones: it is difficult to reconstruct, from their stories, why Jesus was crucified at all....But the historical fact behind the Passion narratives--Jesus's death on a cross--points to a primarily Roman agenda.

"But the historical fact behind the Passion narratives"....As though everything but the Crucifixion itself was a pastiche of fancy and wishful theologizing. Midrash for the goyim, I suppose.

However, to be fair, this speculative skepticism is hardly unique to Prof. Fredriksen. Flip open your NAB to the Gospel introductions and footnotes, which assert on the basis of unverified hypotheses that the Gospels (with the possible exception of Mark) are all post-70 AD, and calmly inform the reader that the early Christians were clever fabricators. Consider, for example, this event from Matthew 17:24-27:

24
When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?"
25
"Yes," he said. When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?"
26
When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him, "Then the subjects are exempt.
27
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you."


An interesting story, but the NAB's background is even more "interesting." According to footnote 20:

Like Matthew 14:28-31 and Matthew 16:16b-19, this episode comes from Matthew's special material on Peter. Although the question of the collectors concerns Jesus' payment of the temple tax, it is put to Peter. It is he who receives instruction from Jesus about freedom from the obligation of payment and yet why it should be made. The means of doing so is provided miraculously. The pericope deals with a problem of Matthew's church, whether its members should pay the temple tax, and the answer is given through a word of Jesus conveyed to Peter. Some scholars see here an example of the teaching authority of Peter exercised in the name of Jesus (see Matthew 16:19). The specific problem was a Jewish Christian one and may have arisen when the Matthean church was composed largely of that group.

Chew on that for a moment. Underneath all that calm dry prose is a rather startling assertion: it never happened. Instead, it was a story made up after the fact to justify continued payment of the temple tax. Now, to be sure, there is record of Peter getting the word on how to guide the early Church from visions (see Acts 10:9-16), but this isn't presented as a vision. It's presented as an actual event in Jesus' life, just like that "distinctive table fellowship" we're always hearing about. But on the basis of...well, nothing at all, really, we're supposed to accept the latter as "historical" and the former as unhistorical. Why? You could just as easily say dinnertime was another invention of the early Church justifying its decision to broaden its base amongst the marginal figures of second temple Judaism. If you keep playing in this house of mirrors, you are left with nothing verifiable at all.

Here's the analogy: when the Jesus Seminar folks belly up to the counter and order the supersize double Quarter Pounder with Cheese combo meal, a large chocolate shake, a cherry pie and a cheeseburger on the side, our scholars simply order the medium size combo meal with a Diet Coke and pass on the desserts. As if that makes a real difference in the long run.
I wonder when that USCCB-related committee will be sending its bullet-point memo to Sony pointing out the historical errors in The DaVinci Code?

The film rights to the laughably bad, and viciously anti-Catholic bestseller have been acquired by Columbia Pictures.

On the edge of my seat, I eagerly await the Paula Fredriksen essay eviserating the historical errors embodied in the screenplay, especially since the book makes some rather startling claims about the "historical Jesus," something well within her bailiwick.

In fact, I'll start holding my breath for it right now....

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

That subject again.

I keep coming back to it, but bear with me. I think the Gibson movie is much more important than most films, if for no other reason than it clearly reveals the fault lines in American Christianity generally, and American Catholicism especially. It can also be fun in the table-turning sense. To name but one example, it allows for those of a more traditional/conservative bent to cite the silence (read: typical hibernating inaction) of the American episcopate as support for tolerating the film. "Hey, if the bishops haven't seen fit to condemn it...." Of course, it technically means no such thing--"consent" by silence--but the effect is the same. And it's certainly a joy to wield, instead of having it wielded against you.

Then there's the odd "sola scriptura" arguments of the critics, who claim that reliance on a paper screenplay of indeterminate relevance to the film is more important than the testimonies of those (many of whom have "mainstream" theological training and backgrounds) who have actually seen the mostly-finished product and assert it is not anti-Semitic. I still can't get my head around that one, except to resort to the ancient adage: "a picture is worth a thousand words." More like a hundred thousand in this case, given the unusual amount of critical bloviating... Using similar "logic," one could claim that a draft script for "The Producers," complete with its overt Nazi pagentry, was an endorsement of Hitler.

Which brings me to perhaps the strangest, and most telling, criticism of The Passion--namely that it "inappropriately" focuses on the last twelve hours of Christ's life. In my mind, I keep coming back to this particularly boneheaded observation in the original critical report by those oh-so-"mainstream" scholars:

The report takes issue with director Gibson's decision to focus on Christ's passion rather than presenting a broader vision of "the ministry of Jesus, of his preaching and teaching about God's reign, his distinctive table companionship, his mediation of God's gracious mercy."

Behold, the committee-assembled Jesus of modern criticism. Note the lack of anything really distinctive, let alone supernatural, about Jesus of Nazareth. Honi the Circle-Maker had a better resume'. Instead, it's Jesus, Palestinian social worker and All-Around Nice Guy. Remember what Bismarck said about legislation? The same applies to the creation of the tame Jesus of the Modern Set. John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Frigging Borg could sign on to that statement.

Coming from Catholics with a USCCB seal of approval, this criticism is of an order of idiocy almost indistinguishable from clinical brain death. Face it: such comments are a blanket indictment of much of Catholic spirituality. Let's leave aside the Gospels themselves, each of which builds in a crescendo toward the Passion and Resurrection (e.g., Jesus repeatedly pointing to his crucifixion in Matthew). Let's toss aside Paul, who preaches about the scandal of the cross. Let's table, for the moment, Revelation, which describes Christ standing in Heaven as a lamb, slain.

Instead, let's just stick to Catholic distinctives. Consider: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, re-presenting Calvary; the crucifix, mandated in every Catholic church in the world (except, apparently, those in the Diocese of Saginaw); the Sacred Heart devotion, based as it is on the Gospel of John; the Rosary, with its Sorrowful Mysteries; the Divine Mercy chaplet ("for the sake of His sorrowful Passion"), libraries of hymnody ("Who did once upon the Cross/Suffer to Redeem our loss")--the list is almost limitless. To advocate in favor of a sawed-off, inoffensive and timorous Jesus makes no sense in light of our tradition. In what ought to be food for thought, even the twee dittymeisters at OCP have yet to come up with an "Ode to JC: Maitre' D."

Then again, someone in Portland's probably working on it.

[In the style of "Hello Mother, Hello Father:"]

Josh our buddy/
Ate with sinners/
Broke lots of flatbread/
At those dinners....

Nah. Doesn't work. Why? For starters, it mentions sin....

No, it's because it was not the central focus of His mission on earth, that's why. Even the badly-mangled sensus fidei of American Catholicism can tell that. It's why Catholics show up in greater numbers during Holy Week. It's also why, the best efforts of our betters notwithstanding, they will show up at the box office in 2004.

What we are really seeing is the profound discomfort--embarrassment, actually--of many prominent American Catholics with all things distinctively Catholic. Read Garry Wills or James Carroll (with Costco Maalox, of course) and you'll see what I'm talking about: all the blather about democratization, female ordination, Pius XII, celibacy, contraception, modern biblical criticism--the works--stems from a desire to put a hated past behind them ASAP.

And it explains plenty about the state of the Church in America today.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

The Fallen Franchise.

The Oakland Press examines the long, brutal fall of the Detroit Tigers from the pinnacle of 1984 to the sewer of 2003 in a five part series by longtime beat writers Jim Hawkins and Pat Caputo.

Summary? Hubris and stupidity are a bad combination.

Part I: Distant Memories.

Part II: Cracks in the Foundation.

Part III: The Collapse Begins.

Part IV: Atrophy under Ilitch.

Part V: Hope for the Future?

Fittingly, there is no link for the last story yet.

From the same paper, an article effectively demonstrating that Mike Ilitch has been the worst owner in the history of the organization.

Finally, Detroit News beat writer Lynn Hennings answers that "hope for the future" question with a resounding "No"--at least for the medium term. The talent cupboard is empty.

The lack of minor-league talent, due to shockingly bad drafting, is frightening. One position talent -- Cody Ross, not by any means a game-breaker -- is at Triple A. One pitcher of significance -- Rob Henkel, who figures to be in Detroit in September -- is working at Double A. You have to go to the lower minor-league levels to see any kind of hitting potential in the entire Tigers system. It is staggering how little talent exists.

When does college football kick off again?
Back blogging.

What can I say? I've been busy.

More to follow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

On the same list as "Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Ball," add...

..."Do Not Use Food Replacement Powder As A Coffee Creamer."

I do not have words. Ack.

Besides, who needs "HFB" when you can have "Spank the Underperforming WNBA Star" instead?

Sure, she backed out of the bet, but yeesh.

I really don't think the league wants to appeal to the "men turned on by spanking" demographic. Although it would diversify the crowd, I guess...
OK, so the "Hunting for Bambi" thing has "urban legend" written all over it.

So sayeth the pretty reliable Snopes website. Then again, Greg Krehbiel says someone else just came forward to say it's real.

Throw it in the "Who Knows?" file. If it's real, the owner might have a really good reason to downplay it, with reports of the normally laissez-faire Nevada government making angry noises. If it's fake, there would be good reasons to claim it's real.

The bigger point is that in five years, it--or something worse--will be real. Count on it.
At the risk of turning this blog into "Mel & The Ossuary"...

...More bad news for proponents of the authenticity of James' bone box. Oded Golan, the "finder" of the ossuary, has been arrested by Israeli police for fraud, forgery, and "perverting the course of justice," whatever that means. Plus, he was a mite careless with the archeological find of the millenium:

Also on Golan's Tel Aviv roof, "without any security or protection from the elements," was Golan's most famous possession—an ossuary that apparently once held the bones of "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

It's getting harder and harder for supporters to defend this thing. Maybe not checkmate, but certainly check.

OTOH, "Mel & The Ossuary" would be a great name for a band. An alternative band--you know, one that does industrial covers of Traffic or early Yes. Or something like that.

Yes, I just had a "shake." Why do you ask?

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

If this is "mainstream" scholarship, I'd hate to see the fringe.

In the pages of The New Republic, Boston University Professor Paula Fredriksen (a member of that (in)famous committee Cardinal Keeler is always distancing himself from) is the latest rattan cane-wielding scholar to weigh in on "The Passion":

Gibson has continued to speak earnestly of his film as "conforming" to the New Testament. Unless he ditched the script with which he was working as late as March, wrote an almost entirely new one, re-assembled his cast, re-shot his movie, and then edited it in time to be screened in June, this statement, too, must be false. Six pages of our report lay out for him exactly those places where he not only misreads but actually contravenes material given in the Gospels. And his historical mistakes, no less profound, are spelled out for him there, too.

As another commenter has ably noted, the gripes are picayune.

What is odd is that someone with Professor Fredriksen's background would have a problem with a presentation that was either ahistorical or deviated from the text of the Gospels. After all, she's built her career on it.

Essentially, she denies a historical resurrection, the historicity of the infancy narratives, the miracles depicted in the Gospels, the historicity of the passion narratives--the list is impressive.

Here you can examine her most recent opus, which argues that Jesus and his thick followers didn't understand him to be the Messiah until after the Crucifixion. Ooookay.

She was also one of the scholars consulted on Peter Jennings' "The Search For Jesus" in 2000. She didn't like the fact she was depicted as affirming the historicity of the Resurrection, and distanced herself quite strongly from Anglican scholar N.T. Wright's firm affirmation on the subject. See pages 50-52 in the above link.

Consider also the Professor's take on the Passion Narrative in the Gospel of Mark, allegedly the earliest and most "historical" of the Gospels (see p. 92):

Mark’s passion narrative makes up in drama what it lacks in historical probability.


In fact, her attitude toward the Gospels as a whole is broadly dismissive:

"'The gospels are very peculiar types of literature. They're not biographies,'" says Prof. Paula Fredriksen, "'they are a kind of religious advertisement. What they do is proclaim their individual author's interpretation of the Christian message through the device of using Jesus of Nazareth as a spokesperson for the evangelists' position.'"

Ah, yes: the assured results of critical scholarship. In light of this, it's hard to understand why Prof. Fredriksen would have a problem with someone who went beyond the text of the Gospels in a few places, when she is in large measure inclined to dismiss them.

I'm beginning to understand the problem the "scholarly" community has with the film: they view Mel as a naive, pre-critical hick who actually takes the narratives at face value--the moron.

No doubt the same attitude extends to the average believer in the pews. This is the kind of scholarship the USCCB wants to be associated with?
One of those personal notes.

Thanks for stopping by even when I've had nothing to say lately. There is an explanation.

I am, in the convoluted parlance of the medical profession, what is known as a "lard ass." I have been a "lard ass" for some time, and it has become troubling to me and the nearest and dearest. My father in law died of a heart attack in 1993, a fact which continues to hover around my wife (and her concerns for me).

In my own family, dad had a quadruple bypass back in 1998 at the too-young age of 53, and this is also a Troubling Sign of Things to Come if I do not amend my ways and dump a significant amount of weight. Dad, determined to win his war finally and at all costs, underwent stomach bypass surgery earlier this year, and has lost 60 pounds. It's nice to see him not limp around so much. It will be even nicer for him to see more of his grandkids' lives and to enjoy a richly deserved retirement.

[Hint from on high to Dale Jr.]

After weighing [ha!] my options, I have decided in favor of a slightly less radical approach--a medically supervised fast, complete with counselling and exercise coaching. It started Saturday.

Basically, the deal is this: I get to "eat" 5-6 "shakes" per day, totalling out at approximately 900-1000 calories per day. I can have any flavor I want, so long as it's chocolate or vanilla. I can charitably describe the taste(s) as unpretentious. To these shakes, I add teaspoons of wheat bran, and once per day, something called "safflower oil." Try to keep your manly dignity after asking a guy at the grocery store where the "safflower oil" is located. You might as well follow up by asking why the establishment doesn't carry The Advocate.

Helpful hint: most grocery stores don't carry the stuff. Go to your health food outlet instead. It's right next to copies of The Advocate.

Anyway, I also have to, on a daily basis, consume enough water to float a missile cruiser out of drydock, which ensures plenty of sprinting to the lads' room. Which leads me to my gradual introduction of an exercise regimen--in this case, walking. This last is not so bad, actually.

The good news so far is that I haven't suffered from hunger pains of any kind, and my energy level's pretty good. The bad news is that I have to eat medico-industrial compounds that aren't technically food--they're "food replacements."

At the end of 12 weeks (or when I reach 210, whichever comes first), I will go into a maintenance phase, whereby I will be taught how to readjust to life without styrofoam-flavored shakes (i.e., Supersizing Is Not Good), proper nutrition, and psychological tactics for avoiding Chinese buffet lines and the like.

All of the above is but a lengthy introduction to the following: I have the potential for going from "Dyspeptic Mutterings" to "Incoherent Choked Fury Rages" over the next several weeks. If I start posting that Ken Untener is the Antichrist without at least a little evidence, it's not me--it's the foamy "shakes" speaking.

Regular blogging will resume shortly.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

The gull flies at midnight.

The countersign is:

I now have the Rome tickets.

For those of you who understand neither, my apologies.

Cryptic corner signing off.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Restoration, Detroit style.

The majestic old Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, closed in 1984, vandalized by thieves and subjected to the Michigan elements, is now being renovated and restored.

This afternoon, in front of the hotel, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Gov. Jennifer Granholm will announce a deal to renovate the Book-Cadillac and return it to prominence as the Renaissance Book-Cadillac, part of Marriott International Inc.'s Renaissance Hotels line.

It is a tall order:

A tour of the hotel shows just how much work lies ahead. The hotel closed in 1984. Today, much of the building is impassable because of collapsed ceilings and other debris. Even on upper floors, scavengers have punched holes in the walls to strip out scrap metals for sale.

"Pretty much everything of value has been taken, especially the copper pipe," Zeiler said.

Some of the damage dates to when the hotel operated. During one of the various renovations the hotel underwent before it closed, workers punched holes in the original decorated plaster ceiling to hang drop ceilings. Today, the drop ceilings have crumbled away to nothing, leaving a twisted frame in some places and the defaced plaster ceiling above.

But water probably caused as much or more damage as vandals and misguided renovators. Broken windows and other damage allowed in rain and snow, which over the years trickled down through the floors and turned plaster into powder. When a street-level door was opened this week, a blast of cool, clammy air and moldy odor rushed out.

Many of the stairwells are hard to climb because they're filled with debris. Smashed furniture lies about. A few unlikely touches remain -- a panel of Persian-inspired wallpaper in one guest room, a stack of men's skin magazines coated with dust near the main reception desk.

Some other Detroit gems have looked equally forlorn before coming back. When contractors first got into the former Capitol Theatre several years ago to remake it as the Detroit Opera House, the orchestra pit and basements were filled with water, and the roof was open to the sky.


Fortunately, the renovation firm has an excellent track record, having restored the Gateway-Statler Hotel in St. Louis. Here's the during and after pictures for that project. The Detroit project is cheaper, and has several good things going for it:

Tests have shown that as bad as the Book-Cadillac looks today, the hotel's basic structure -- its floors and support columns -- remains sound. That means that once the debris is cleaned up -- a process that will take five to six months -- contractors can get down to reshaping the interior for modern use.

Much of the original look will be replicated by using copies of plaster molding and other ornaments instead of restorations of the originals, which are too far gone to save.


I see the Book Cadillac every day. Here's hoping the project is every bit the success it is planned to be. In a city notoriously starved for hotel space and struggling to achieve critical mass for a renaissance, it is just what the doctor ordered.
Imagine a reality series that's three parts The Running Man, two parts Survivor, four parts the Spice Channel, and aimed right at the Travis Bickle demographic.

Well, someone named "Michael Burdick" did imagine that, and he calls it "Hunting for Bambi." The goal of the "game": shooting naked women with paint pellets. Finally: a sport that makes dwarf-tossing enthusiasts look like polo players. Repeat after me: "The teachings of the Catholic Church are degrading to women."

But, to be fair, Mr. Burdick is a sportsman:

Burdick says safety is a concern, but the women are not allowed to wear protective gear -- only tennis shoes.

Burdick says hunters are told not to shoot the women above the chest, but he admits not all hunters follow the rules. "The main goal is to be as true to nature as possible. I don't go deer hunting and see a deer with a football helmet on so I don't want to see one on my girl either," said Burdick.


Ah, yes: "as true to nature as possible." Which explains why I see lots of women around town wearing naught but Keds and a wary look.

Thankfully, we have experts to inform us that it might not be the healthiest pastime around:

But [clinical psychologist Marv] Glovinsky says this so called game that mixes violence with sexuality can be dangerous for men who can not distinguish fantasy from reality, and acting out the violence in this game could lead to them acting out real violence.

"If you're blurring reality and fantasy and you can't make the distinction and you're emotions over power your intellect or your higher mental function, your going to get into trouble, and if you have a control problem to boot, that's really going to cause problems."


Ya think? Still, I'm sure that this falls within that wonderful zone of self-defined liberty Justice Kennedy is always yammering on and on about:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

Yep. "Hunting for Bambi" slides easily under that big-top tent flap.

[Thanks to Peppermint Patty for the link.]

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Rush Limbaugh to ESPN.

For real. The radio talk show host will be on the Sunday NFL Countdown show, offering comments and observations.

Whatever else you think of Limbaugh (he's more listenable in the opposition than as a defender of government), he knows his football. He was also reportedly on the short list as a color commentator for MNF the year Dennis Miller was hired.

This could be very interesting:

Limbaugh, who will appear either on the show's Bristol, Conn., set or via satellite, will provide a weekly opinion piece on an aspect of the NFL making news that week, and participate in impromptu exchanges with the analysts and challenging their opinions on various issues. Limbaugh will be allotted three challenge opportunities to use at his discretion during the show.

It will be hit or miss. If it doesn't work, it won't survive the season. If it does, expect to see Limbaugh doing color work for MNF when Madden hangs it up.
I am a major geek.

"Tell us something we don't know..."

Seriously: The Geek Test tells me so: I have a rating of 42.80079%.

This quiz is especially clever (not to mention lengthy) because it accounts for the desire to tinker with responses to achieve a "better" score. Which, in this case, makes you more geeky.

[Link via Fr. Sibley.]
Brutally funny court opinion.

You usually don't see the above words grouped together, do you?

Zach Frey e-mailed me an example of one today. You know the Judge doesn't like your brief when he says something like this:

Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact — complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words — to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions.

With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins.


RTWT.
Study update.

The study group has stabilized at around 13 members. We've reached the Sermon on the Mount, and pushed through the better part of Chapter 5 yesterday. In addition, we've added our first historical criticism fan, an energetic older woman whose brief effort to claim that Matthew put words in Jesus' mouth fell on disinterested ears. She didn't try it again, but I suspect she will. She also claimed that Luther was a Jansenist, which would be quite a trick, given that Luther tacked up the 95 Theses almost sixty years before Cornelius Jansen was born.

She was also an adherent to the fundamental option view of sin, which had to be (and was) slapped down by yours truly. Politely (yes, I am capable of it), I explained that a healthy view of mortal sin steers the course between viewing God as a sniper eagerly awaiting your removal from the confessional (see Luther, Martin) so He can pick you off if you have a craving for devil's food cake and mortal sin only occuring if you arrange an official ceremony by which you flip the Almighty the bird, memorialize your decision in a document and send it to Him via registered mail. That seemed to work.

Still, she means well and was not without helpful insights, even though she seems to regard discussion of sin, suffering and sacrifice as invariably "negative." Indeed, "negativity" is her bugbear, and she informed me afterwards that she sees signs of it in the study.

Should be interesting, to say the least.
OK. I think I'm back.

Yesterday involved many hours driving and unloading, in addition to my [bad] decision to hold a bible study session on the same day. It also involved my immobile namesake's decision to spend the better part of an hour crying in the back seat despite Heather's valiant efforts to pacify him.

The good news is that the pile on my desk is not obscenely large (if far from negligible). Our bathroom is pretty nice, too. Looks bigger, too, even though my brother in law assures me that the renovation did not give us more space. He agreed that it looks that way, but the measurements are the same.

Back to blogging.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Personal update.

Nothing major, but it's over here if you'd care to take a gander.

I'm still weighing where to put "What I Did On My Well-Deserved-And-All-Too-Brief Summer Vacation" essay.

Part of it, dealing with the perennial idiocy of the Diocese of Saginaw, will probably be here.

Watch this space!
Is Blogger changing every hour?

Just when I was beginning to get used to the Googlization, now there are more changes.

Anybody care to recommend new digs?

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Oh, by the way...

...I'm on vacation. I have been since July 4th, and I won't be back until July 14th (or so).

Sorry for the inconvenience. However, I should have some time to post in the next couple of days (I'm doing this from a public library computer and I have a hyper-energetic toddler bent on exploring the place).

The vacation's been fine so far, even though we were flooded on Sunday (and may get the same tonight). I had to drive 40 miles to fine a passably Catholic church to attend, and I will definitely have more on that later.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Don't say I didn't warn you.

[If you haven't noticed already, take a gander at the title change, the reason for which is about to become evident. It is temporary, I solemnly assure you.]

Yep. More news about The Gospel According to Mel, this time from the Jewish Daily Forward. Lost in all the fire and fury have been the placid comments of the screenplay's translator, Jesuit Fr. William Fulco. Unlike Boys & The Boys, whose criticism hinges on an unofficial Italian website, Fr. Fulco has actually seen the script. According to Fr. Fulco, Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich makes nary an appearance:

Father William Fulco, a Jesuit priest and professor of ancient Mediterranean studies at Loyola Marymount University, who translated the film's screenplay into Aramaic, insisted that "The Passion" is consistent with current Catholic teachings.

Fulco said that while the writer of the script's original draft drew on Emmerich, neither she nor Mary of Agreda — whom he says he had never even heard mentioned in relation to the project — is an important source for the film. "I don't like her at all," he said of Emmerich, "and I don't think anybody else does."

"Whether some of [Emmerich's] ideas worked in there or not I'm not sure," he said. "I rather doubt it."

Fulco was also dismissive of the concerns that have been raised about the project.

"Everything that has been written so far has been based on having no idea of what the film is like," he said. "Therefore it's hard to take it too seriously."


The ADL (which ought to be acknowledged as an advocacy organization, and not a disinterested ombudsman) and B&TB are going to end up with a whole carton of eggs on their faces if the uninformed criticism isn't taken down a notch. Really: is it that difficult to pick up a phone to call Fr. Fulco? Doesn't say much for the scholarly abilities of all involved that they keep relying on a website and a clearly outdated script instead of going to the best possible source.
Maybe the Wings should keep both Hasek and Joseph.

And try to play them at the same time.

The Avs sign both Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne--the former for peanuts. Ouch. That's one scary offensive team out there in Denver.

Then again, the Wings just bulked up (and I do mean bulk) their defense by signing 6'5" sledgehammer (and local boy) Derian Hatcher.

Good. Looks like we're going to need him. And a center, too, while you're at it there, Ken.

The big Western Conference question: do the Avs have anyone who can keep pucks out of the net?
Finally! 'Someone explain's the correct u'se of the apos'trophe!

Far and away the most grating grammar/spelling error ever. Don't argue on this one.

The catch is that the explainer is a crudely-drawn alternative cartoon character called "Bob the Angry Flower."

But hey! Any port in a storm.
Today is the Feast Day of St. Thomas the Apostle.

Here are a few facts about the famous Apostle.
The Catholic Encyclopedia has more detail.

Finally, here's where he gets his famous adjectival moniker, although he had been bolder once:

24Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
26Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." 28Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."


By the way: he is my patron saint.

St. Thomas the Apostle, pray for us.

[Update: As always, Drake over at the superb Catholic Point of View has magnificent artwork to commemorate the occasion. Today, it's a Caravaggio: The Incredulity of St. Thomas. You know the drill--just go.]
I can also say "Fedorov's not coming back" and won't get a blank look.

All kinds of interesting rumors here in Hockeytown.

The possibility of Hatcher signing is looking more and more solid, with Kevin Allen of the USA Today reporting that the Wings are close to terms.

Now all Detroit has to do is replace its highest scorer from last year. Can Paul Kariya handle Michigan winters? Might be time to find out.

Goodbye, Sam Jones, we barely knew ye.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Reason #3257 I'm Glad I Married My Wife.

I can say things like "They re-signed McCarty" and not have to give an explanation.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Lawrence vs. Polygamy.

Despite several fine efforts, so far no one has managed to show there is a way polygamy can be kept illegal under the core reasoning of Lawrence.
I especially liked Peter Sean Bradley's "sui generis" angle, both here and at his blog. Tom Fitzpatrick's "2 ain't 3" unprincipled principle has some potential, too.

But the best shots were derived from the actual language of the opinion: using Lawrence's equally warm and fuzzy language about the state interest in regulating marriage.

But that's not really the problem. The question isn't so much whether the state has to recognize polygamy as an officially valid marriage and so forth. The question after Lawrence is on what principled, rational, coherent basis can the state jail consenting adults who are in a polygamous relationship? Or, as others have noted, any form of consensual adult relationships?

[As noted below, our Weimar elite are working on the kid angle, but that will still take some time....]

Social science arguments attempting to distinguish polygamy won't work either. After all, many, if not most, human cultures have a history of tolerated polygamy. Islam still permits it. Given time, perhaps the suddenly-authoritative European Court of Human Rights will see its cultural rightness.

Actually, we do permit a form of polygamy. All fifty states recognize a mostly-unregulated form of serial polygamy: It's called no-fault divorce and remarriage. It frequently wreaks havoc on children and society, but so what? Further, if you ever stumble across the renegade Mormon polygamists or their literature, you quickly notice that they claim their marital arrangements are more stable than the monogamous norm, and their kids turn out better, statistically speaking. In a legal battlefield involving duelling experts, I somehow doubt that polygamists would lack for capable social science champions. I wouldn't want to engage in that fight.

Sorry, but I have to declare that, so far, the contest has no winner. Submissions are still welcome, however.
The Best Monty Python site on the web.

Stone Dead: Monty Python's Flying Circus in Australia.

Hands down.

Spend a few hours touring the place. You won't be disappointed.
Harrison Bergeron, call your office.

Here's a textbook case of PC inanity--in, of all places, American public school textbooks. Read it to learn how the Molders of Young Minds Homogenize The Planet And Make It Safe For The Hypersensitive.

This is the part that set me off:

A review of my book in the Scotsman, an Edinburgh newspaper, said that a well-known local writer for children sold a story to an American textbook company, along with illustrations. The U.S. publisher, however, informed her that she could not show a little girl sitting on her grandfather's lap, as the drawing implied incest. So, the author changed the adult's face, so that the little girl was sitting on her grandmother's lap instead.

Oh, for God's sake. It's taking everything I have to stifle the obscenites making a bayonet charge for the tip of my tongue. What a pig-ignorant, asinine, wholly gratuitous insult to every grandfather who has ever held his granddaughter. Yep. Every grandpa holding his female offspring is a slavering beast about to turn on her in the most horrid way imaginable. We All Know the same thing applies to fathers, too.

Sure. If you are somehow beamed over to the planet known as Dworkin's World.

Such an objection says far more about the minds making the objection than anything else.

I'm not a homeschooling advocate, but it's increasingly easy to understand the motivation.
Comments on responses to the Lawrence/polygamy post...

...will be coming later. No time at the present.