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Saturday, January 31, 2009

A non-medical blog post!

OK, a long time coming, but here's something I posted over at the Jewish Forward newspaper, commenting on its understandable, if hyperbolic, editorial regarding the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops:

A fair editorial, but, despite its protestations to the contrary, I think it does boil over into hyperbole. First, all the Pope has done is rescind the excommunication order for the four bishops. Neither they nor their followers have been reconciled to the Catholic Church. More to the point, the decision relates to their consecration as bishops back in 1988--it has nothing to do with or say about their behaviors or commentary since.

Second, and the appalling Holocaust-denier Williamson has been unequivocally condemned by the head of the SSPX and its German branch for his comments on the Holocaust:

http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2009/01/superior-general-of-sspx-bishop.html [The link to the statement in German is there.] Yes, it is long, long overdue, and I have no doubt that it was the result of pressure, but there it is. Also, the fact that it finally came should be a sign of hope should the SSPX be reconciled.

Third, should that reconciliation come, the SSPX will have to embrace Nostra Aetate and the discipline of the Church, which will purify it of the Williamson mentalities which are admittedly present within the SSPX. Leaving them outside the Church will permit them to roll about the deck like the proverbial loose cannon. That is a grim problem especially when you consider that in France more people attend SSPX Masses every Sunday than attend Masses in communion with the Church.

Finally, the hyperbole about “traditional Catholic practices” straining Catholic-Jewish relations is a bit disturbing to me as a tradition-minded Catholic. John Allen also correctly noted that in this context that “the vast majority of ordinary Catholics attracted to the Latin Mass, or who harbor reservations about doctrinal innovations in the church, are neither bigots nor crackpots.” To hint otherwise does the editorial no credit and itself contributes to a climate of suspicion and distrust.

We need to sit down, take a deep breath and talk to each other, and not just through the preferred media of familiar, good-hearted figures like Fr. Pawlikowski, who while they constitute established figures of dialogue, do not represent the Church as a whole, nor are they necessarily expert in nor familiar with all of the issues involved.

This isn’t the Apocalypse, nor even an apocalypse, in Catholic-Jewish relations. Let us reason together.


As an addendum, I think everybody in media would be better served if they avoided the Rolodex approach to talking Catholic issues. This is a virtual virus, the lazy decision to consult with the same comfortable figures time and again with respect, which is officially known as McBrien-Reese Syndrome.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Louis is back.

Heather and he returned home at 7:30pm yesterday. The penny was lodged sideways in his esophagus, letting liquids, but not solids, pass. There was no way it was going to pass through naturally either. Also, he had his first IV go subcutaneous, which was grotesque. He's home and feeling much better. So is Mom.

Thanks for the prayers and thoughts. Here's hoping for dull. And for the opportunity to blog later on.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My baby boy is in the hospital.

Louis swallowed a coin and they are going to try to remove it this morning. Prayers and good thoughts/wishes welcome.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Slowly lurching back to my feet.

Thanks for all of the prayers and good wishes re: my surgery. Much appreciated at our end, to be sure. I'm still under some restrictions, meaning that I'll be going mad and taking my nearest and dearest along for the ride before the end of the week, but at least I'm not in the hospital with a Foley as my boon companion.

More as time permits.

Friday, January 16, 2009

"The City Where the Sirens Never Sleep."

Matt Labash pens this classic salute to those striving in the trenches against the fall of night in Detroit. Here's just a taste of this magnificent article:

When councilwoman Monica Conyers got in hot water for calling her colleague "Shrek," [ed.: the current mayor, Ken Cockrel, Jr.] [Detroit News reporter] Charlie [LeDuff] arranged to have her sit down on-camera for an interrogation by a group of middle schoolers. She proceeded to get a condemnatory lecture on how to behave like an adult from the kids. Charlie then interviewed her, convincing her to recite lines from the infamous Shrek-ish city council meeting, with him playing the part of her, in her sassiest Detroit voice. ("You know you not my daddy!" he said.)

It was a good stunt, as evidenced by its getting picked up (without attribution) by a number of national media outlets. But then he turned around and wrote a wrenching story on the girl who schooled Conyers--a 13-year-old who is ashamed to be poor, whose parents sell candy out of the trunk of a rattletrap Cadillac, who is not allowed to bring her books home from school because there aren't enough, and who dreams of escaping this city.

One night over dinner, Charlie admits that he knows most people think he's gone back to a dying newspaper in a dying town. But he feels he has work to do here. Not the kind of work that makes Gawker. Real work. He's always wanted to write about "my people," as he calls them--Detroiters in the hole--but he wasn't ready before. Now he is. He sneers at books like Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? which treat human beings like electoral blocs to be extrapolated from. "We're not stupid," he says. "We do count, you know. All those statistics you're going to lay out? Fine. But we know how to make s--. We know how to fix s--. We do know how to read. Saved the union a couple of times, you know what I mean?"

He says there has to be room for the kind of journalism "where it's not a fetish, where it's not blaxploitation, where you are actually a human being with a point of view. The city is full of good people, living next to s--." But most media-types don't bother to ask since they view those people as "dumb, uneducated, toothless rednecks. They're ghetto-dwelling blacks. Right? They're poor Mexicans. They're a concept, not a people."


Read every last word.

Still alive, and still interested in blogging.

Sorry about the light posting--family, work, and being nearly freeze dried have limited the blogging of late.

Three quick hitters with respect to our new Archbishop-designate, Allen Vigneron.

First: Hurrah! On two levels. Yes, impeccable on orthodoxy/catechesis/liturgy, which means the upward trend continues. Second, he's a local, an eastsider, even. Born and raised here, then served as a priest in the archdiocese. That means a lot. He spent a lot of time addressing the economic pain of the region, which was heartfelt and stood him in good stead with the local media, which gave him a sympathetic hearing. He's off on the right foot, which is good. Being a local offers another advantage: he's familiar with the archdiocese and its personnel. It won't take him much time to get up and running. And he knows where the fights will start. The clumsy feeling out/transition period will be minimal.

Second: his appointment has ticked off all the right people in the archdiocese.

Third: he's the first archbishop I've ever met personally. I can confirm his dry sense of humor. Back in 2002, he conducted a parish visit. During a meeting with various lay people involved in the parish programs, he asked me what I did. At the time, I was teaching catechism to 6th graders and told him so. He offered a sage nod and said "Ah. That's the age God takes back their souls."

I took a liking to him right there.

More posts as time permits, but it does look like I'm surfacing at this point.