Saturday, May 31, 2003

I'm now planning on seeing the movie about seven times.

"The movie" being Mel Gibson's "Passion," which has received plenty of criticism from people whose opinions I tend to value inversely. This is not to deny that anti-Semitism is a serious problem and needs to be hammered at every opportunity. Disturbingly, it looks like it's starting to make a comeback. However, it is a long way from those important points to finding in an as-yet unseen film a remake of "The Eternal Jew," for pete's sake.

Take, for example, the tedious James Carroll (please!). [Rimshot.] The Boston Globe columnist wails about the

literal reading of the Biblical accounts of Christ's passion. According to Carroll, "Even a faithful repetition of the Gospel stories of the death of Jesus can do damage exactly because those sacred texts themselves carry the virus of Jew hatred."

Jimmy One-Note continues his children's crusade to empty Catholicism of all meaning and rid it of anything else that could possibly give offense. Apparently Jimmy took one too many whacks to the head from those mean ruler-wielding nuns back in grade school.

You must understand: Carroll's answer is to literally purge the Gospels of anything "anti-Semitic" (broadly defined) though the use of "critical biblical scholarship." As in removing the texts from the Bible entirely. He's got a point, though: as I was scanning this verse in John's Gospel recently, I was suddenly infected by the SAHJ (Severe Acute Hatred of Jews) Virus and felt an overpowering urge to start my own pogrom. Mercifully, however, I passed out before I could do anything and woke up later, admittedly coated in my own spittle-foam, but otherwise much calmer.

Moving from the infantile to the idiotic, the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee Most Frequently Referred To With Disclaimers also got into the act, issuing an 18 page "ecumenical" finger-wagging at Mr. Gibson. It was a very ecumenical gathering:

The ad hoc scholar's group that produced the report was assembled by Eugene Fisher of the bishops' conference and Rabbi Eugene Korn of the Anti-Defamation League, and comprised a mix of nine Jewish and Christian academics. One of the signers, Amy-Jill Levine of Vanderbilt University describes herself as "a Yankee Jewish feminist ... with a commitment to exposing and expunging anti-Jewish, sexist and heterosexist theologies."

What do you expect me to do with that? I mean, really. It's satire-proof. It fisks itself. How can I top that?
Fortunately (?), there's more:

The group's report, dated May 2, criticized everything from the size of the cross used for the crucifixion scene, to the languages spoken, to poor character development.

Apparently the USCCB now employs two film-reviewing bodies. Hand-wringers by day, film critics by night. "As an example of poor character development, the Ad Hoc Committee offered the example of Monica Bellucci's Mary Magdalen. The committee found her character's redeemed piety to be unbelievable without an intensive and unflinching exploration of her past sinful behavior. Especially the sweatier, jigglier sins. And come on--Jim Caviezel as Jesus? That was the role Harvey Fierstein was born to play."

The document's central complaint, however, is that "a graphic movie presentation of the crucifixion could reawaken the very anti-Semitic attitudes that we have devoted our careers to combating."

The era of SC (Spiritual Correctness) has officially arrived. Ah, the perils of "graphic movie presentations of the Crucifixion." This phenomenon explains why people of the Jewish persuasion stay indoors in communities where Zeffirelli's "Jesus of Nazareth" is available for rental. Or the same happens whenever that CBS "Jesus" film featuring Jeremy Sisto (anyone else remember that one? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?) happens to be playing. "Crusade Fever: Catch It!" Consider how much better it is for Jews in Europe, where they don't show Jesus movies. Uh....

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."

Er, I hate to bring this up, but the movie's called "Passion." "Whaddaya mean I can't get another Schlitz after 'last call'? This is bull---!"

A shocking omission. The movie also fails to explore the economic challenges confronting carpenters in first century Israel, nor does it examine the impact of aqueducts on Hebrew peasant life. Tsk, tsk--how unrealistic. Moreover, we have an SC Alert: "God's reign." Can't call it "kingdom"--that might offend the easily-aggrieved amongst the distaff.

This points up the essential problem of trying to present Christ in a nice, SC, "ecumenical" way. About all you can agree on is the following: Jesus: good speaking voice; ate with everybody; nice to hookers, kids and the differently-abled.

The report furthermore disapproves of the film's treatment of the Gospel accounts of Jesus' passion as historical facts. According to the signers, Gibson disregards exegetical theories that the Evangelists' accounts represent later efforts of the Christian community to "shift responsibility from Pilate onto Jewish figures," and accuses the script of utilizing the four distinct passion narratives "without regard for their apologetic and polemical features."

Oh, dear God [sound of head pounding repeatedly against top of computer desk]. Critical biblical scholarship, the preferred tool of those bent on making Jesus as inoffensive and irrelevant as possible, rises up in all its hydra-headed glory. Oh, the horror: Mel disregards the "assured results of critical scholarship." Maybe he did this because the "assured results" tend to change by the hour or with the tweed-wearer currently "assuring" us. Why not annotate the film with the "assured results" of the Jesus Seminar, who undoubtedly agree wholeheartedly with the concerns of the Ad Hoc Disclaimer Committee? After all, certain "exegetical theories" make the same arguments about Jesus' miracles, the Nativity and the Resurrection, don't they? "Such accounts are the product of a Stage III tradition formulated by the early Christian community reading its experiences back into blah blah yadda yadda next stop: agnosticism." Applying them here would leave us with: "Jesus--good speaking voice; ate with everybody..."

Applying one (or more) but not the others sounds a lot like special pleading to me. Hence, a good idea to ignore all of them, methinks.

I'll let the Archbishop of Baltimore have the last word on the Committee (as his job description now requires) and its ruminations:

Cardinal William Keeler, the U.S. bishops' moderator for Catholic-Jewish relations, was quick to point out that the committee's findings did not represent a formal position of the bishops' conference.

The rest of the article is worthwhile, and has helpful statements from the Jesuit (!) who translated the script, Abp. Chaput and others. Enjoy.
Belated Congrats to Lane Core!

He celebrated his blogiversary this week.

Here's to many more years!
Spiritual Exploration via an "Easy Bake" Oven.

More arrested-development boomers caught in the act of auto-liturgic affirmation. The usual invocations to Sophia-Wisdom (who's this "Jesus" fella?), women frolicking about in priestess gear, spectacularly bad performance art and so forth. It was called a "community worship service," was headed up by a nun (of course) and designed by a Jesuit (say no more!). From the photographs, it does seem pretty clear that the community was being worshipped, all right. Baguettes for all!

"It was a breathtaking bringing-together for all of us," said author Paul Wilkes. "Breathtaking" I can agree with. But "bringing-together"? Ack.

Memo to self: avoid his books.

I will not be accepting any more entries for "The Stupidest Thing Seen This Month" contest--we have a winner.

[Links via Mark Sullivan.]

Wednesday, May 28, 2003


To Mark Sullivan, for his notice of my Elks Lodge mass comments.

I'm not alone.

William Luse has his own harrowing liturgical tales to tell.

Just go read it--it's superb.

[Scroll down to May 20 (currently at the top of the page)--the permalinks don't work.]

Monday, May 26, 2003

The Good, the Nun and the Ugly.

Back, and on Monday, too. Sorta. Travelling with two kids under two years of age causes certain delays.

First, il cattivo: the northern Michigan weather offered plenty of rain, and the temperature never left the 60s during the day. At night--let's just say I was glad for the furnace. Frankly, though, I've come to the point where the weather is nearly irrelevant to my vacations. As long as (1) I and my loved ones arrive intact, and (2) power doesn't get knocked out, it can snow for all I care.

In addition, I've forgotten how bad broadcast TV can get in tiny markets. Care for an infomercial or thirty? And could someone provide me with timely news and sports updates, please? On the bright side, there's Saturday Afternoon Horror Theatre, which offers classics on the order of "Scream, Blacula, Scream!" No, really. At least the station had SAHT in the past. Didn't catch it this time around, though.

Now, il buono. Northern Michigan is flea market/garage sale central during tourist season. I've always had this hope that I would find the Great Big Catholic Book Sale at clearance prices, and snap them up for a song. It's been a vain hope.

Until Sunday. At an estate sale I found a feast of Catholic (and WW2 history) books being offered at ridiculous prices: 7 books for $5. The only catch is that the Catholic ones largely appeared to be from Hutton Gibson's bookshelf. Not all of them, though. There was a hardbound 1992 Catechism. Ka-ching. Two fiction books from Ignatius--O'Brien's "Father Elijah" and McInerny's "The Red Hat." Nothing wrong with either (I've read the first and got them both) but they certainly feature Bishops Behaving Badly. This theme would be continued. There were plenty of TAN publications, heavy on Protestant Reformation-era histories. Grabbed 'em. Yes, yes--almost certainly polemical, but at $0.70 a copy, I'm not going to pass them up. In addition, there were a couple of novels by Robert Hugh Benson (no, not Lord of the World, unfortunately), and several uncontroversial reprints from Roman Catholic Books and Neumann Press. More purchases. E. Michael Jones' "Cardinal Krol and the Cultural Revolution." Ring it up. Three of four volumes of Emmerich's "Life of Jesus Christ" also got into the cart (the fourth was missing).

After this, the selection got more--shall we say "fragrant"? Malachi Martin was well-represented, and I succumbed and bought "Hostage to the Devil" and "The Jesuits." Again, I know: not an inherently reliable chronicler of things Catholic, but an entertaining writer. There was a strong representation from the Feeneyites, including a dissertation-length attempted exoneration of Fr. Leonard of Boston. I passed.

Then there were the massive, unblinking tomes about all sorts of Masonic conspiracies. Again, no thanks. Yes, my car keys come up missing frequently, but I'm almost certain my wife is the guilty party, not the Handshake Guys.

At the bottom was the self-published or small-press stuff: cheaply-bound screeds about apostasy, Bishops Behaving Unimaginably Badly (believable in this climate, but the books were nearly incoherent with rage and unsupported innuendo), and flat-out sedevacantism in the form of something called "The New Montinian Church." No thanks. Not even at $0.70. Not for free, which the manager at the sale was on the verge of suggesting. I was afraid a few books might have gone before I got there, but from his demeanor, I was about the only guy buying anything.

In the realm of history and politics, he had several books that I snapped up: two hardcover volumes of "The Gulag Archipelago," an analysis of the Battle of Jutland, Alan Clark's "Barbarossa" and Alexander Werth's "Russia at War." There was also a memoir of the Spanish Civil War which I couldn't resist, either.

Once again, there was a disturbing whiff in the history selection: cut-rate Spenglerian rants about the Asiatic hordes, the decline of Western civilization, Reds Under the Bed, and an obsessed focus on the German side of fighting on the Eastern Front, with SS memoirs and unit histories. In addition, I found a pamphlet from a Nazi-sympathetic publisher "bravely" trying to show the "true" history of the "German Revolution." Yeesh. The pamphlet came complete with a warning that materials ordered could be confiscated in some countries. Danger, Will Robinson, danger! However, one of the books appeared to be an uncontroversial, if prosaic, analysis of German agricultural policy from 1928-1945, probably carried to add a veneer of respectability.

I imagine this field of endeavor is a show-stopper at the cocktail parties of academia:

"So, what do you teach? History--splendid! Your specialty? 'Agricultural policy in Nazi Germany'? Ah. Well. Hmm. Uh, I imagine you dominate your field. You are your field? I see. No, no--not too surprised. Sorry, I'm going to refresh my drink now."

Finally, il bruto.

Thank God for children. Were it not for my kids, I would not have received the Eucharist this weekend. I would have reported that it was another bad Sunday at the House of Heterodoxy that is our vacation parish home. Instead, I was busy chasing around our wound-up daughter for the better part of the Mass, and was too distracted to notice most of the problems with HoH's Eucharistic Celebration, all stemming from the determination of the silly parish administrator to play "priest." I went in resolved to leave if something was ridiculously amiss. Oh, there were the usual problems I noticed: the PA starting the opening blessing, giving the homily, standing at the altar with the retired priest during the consecration, lifting the chalice, etc. and so on. If I resolved to leave at the first deviation, I'd never get past the first minute. However, I've tried to look past it, and find the good.

Sometimes it's a real quest.

This time, there was a renewal of vows for a couple celebrating their 30th anniversary, a ceremony which I have always liked. Well, nothing seemed particularly amiss, and I was able to return to my seat with HyperToddler near the end of consecration. If nothing else, the homily had been helpful evidence that ordaining women won't necessarily improve Catholic preaching. It was an unremarkable discussion of "love," how it should not be understood in the gooey sentimental sense, but rather should be understood in a gooey communitarian sense. Heather later told me I seemed quite calm. Well, that was because I missed the obvious HoH idiocy: after the renewal of vows, the PA led the congregants in something called the "Saginaw Blessing," which puts a rather unique spin on the Irish Blessing, which itself is derived from Numbers 6:24-26. The second verse ran:

May The Lord bless you and keep you.

May she let her face shine upon you, and be gracious to you

and give you her peace.

Sing a new church, indeed. At the first "she," my wife stopped singing. She also ground her teeth at the grammatical stupidity, muttering in the Venture afterward how gender-neutering is virtually impossible in French. No, I hadn't heard it. Because if I had, I would have left. That was not the PA's first offense along these lines, and consequently it was our last mass at HoH. There's a decent Church about 30-40 miles away (different diocese). Inconvenient in some ways, but not in the most important: It's difficult to worship while I'm in the process of achieving low earth orbit.

Friday, May 23, 2003

On Vacation.

See you Monday or so.
On my being Catholic.

[With apologies to Thomas Howard]

This is a response to a pretty interesting discussion going on in the comment boxes below, discussing the importance of a Catholic identity, extra ecclesiam, etc. It's by no means a developed or complete thought on the subject:

I believe that mere Catholic identity means squat. I could point to several dozen Catholic politicians whose "faith" appears to be a matter of assuring face time with the "Catholic" vote (however defined).

To the extent that a Catholic's (or anyone else's, for that matter) faith life is a matter of showing up on Sunday, without a living commitment to Christ, that is insufficient. Pew sitting won't do.

The problem is that I'm not competent to judge who has that living commitment. It doesn't have to be a firm grasp of the intellectual principles underlying the Faith. I'm becoming envious of the Italian grandmas and Irish grandpas who can't explain dogma in any detail, but are Christian prayer warriors and disciples par excellence. It's not that the principles are unimportant, though. It's just that you have to assent to them, not be able to defend them in a Ph.D thesis.

Do I think there are Orthodox and Protestants in Heaven? Yes. Are there Catholics in Hell? I'll let Mr. Alighieri speak for me on that one. What's the dividing line? Well, I agree the Nicene Creed (as historically understood, and not defined so as to be empty of all meaning) is a good starting point.

Does that mean I think being Catholic is meaningless? Hardly. I believe that, were it not for the Holy Spirit steering me to the Church, I would be on my way to the Inferno. I met Christ as a Catholic, and was convinced--brutally--of my own sinfulness and need for *the* Savior. I have been walking with Him--albeit a frequently stumbling gait--ever since. I meet Him in the sacraments, which have strengthened me immensely.

First of all in baptism, where He washed my sin away and claimed me as one of His own thirty-four years ago. Next in confirmation, where the Holy Spirit prods me to holiness--a task only an omnipotent and omnipatient God would endure. Next in confession, where I rise, healed by Christ of my self-inflicted wounds. Next in the Eucharist, where I relive the hardest of hard sayings and stand at the foot of the Cross I assembled. Next in marriage, where one of His uncountable blessings is sitting five feet away as I write this, watching "Dora the Explorer" while two others sleep. Finally in the Annointing, watching an unknowing toddler be strengthened by Him before her first surgery.

Yes, being Catholic matters.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

A fitting passage from the Prophet Isaiah.

I stumbled across it today in my copy of the Knox translation. I just like it:

Let the islands cease their clamour, and come to me, let the peoples of the world take heart afresh; and so let them come and plead their cause; we will submit the question to an arbiter, they and I. Tell me, who was it summoned his faithful servant from the east, beckoned him to follow? The nations should be at his mercy, kings subdued at his coming; flying like dust before his sword, scattered like chaff in the wind at the threat of his bow. He should rout them in battle, and pass through their country unmolested, leaving not a footprint behind him. Who was the author, the doer of all this, but I, the Lord, who summon all the ages into being? Before all, and at the end of all, I am. The islands have seen it, and trembled at the sight; the remotest parts of the world have been smitten with dismay; they draw near, and obey the summons.

But thou, Israel, my servant, thou, Jacob, on whom my choice has fallen, art sprung from that Abraham, who was my friend; in his person, I led thee by the hand from the ends of the earth, beckoning thee from far away, and still I whispered to thee, My servant thou art, chosen, not rejected. Have no fear, I am with thee; do not hesitate, am I not thy God? I am here to strengthen and protect thee; faithful the right hand that holds thee up. Thou shalt see all thy enemies disappointed and put to the blush; what are they? A very nothing, those adversaries of thine; they must vanish away; thou wilt look in vain for the men who troubled thee, fought against thee; thy search is for a very nothing, a memory of the past. It is I, the Lord thy God, that hold thee by the hand and whisper to thee, Do not be afraid, I am here to help thee.

Isaias (Isaiah) 41: 1-5, 8-13.
More thoughts about "leaving the Church."

This is a commentary stitched together from slightly-edited posts over at Mark Shea's blog. Here's the link to the comment thread, but be warned that it has largely degenerated into self-righteous posturing and amateur psychoanalysis directed at me and Greg Krehbiel.

[Just for fun, feel free to use redaction criticism to determine how many individual comments were used to compose the whole, and try to determine the original sources...:) ]

What do you do if the Church leaves you? What do you do if all of the surrounding parishes are St. Joan of Arcs, or St. Sabinas, or Corpus Christis--or prototypes of the same? When you'd like to light a candle, but they took it away to use it in the FutureChurch Liturgy?

"But there are always better parishes. Go to one of those." Well, probably.

Perhaps. For a while, at least, until the new fruit loop is rotated in and changes everything. And the "orthodox" leadership of the diocese looks on with bland disinterest.

The larger point is that the tacit toleration of dissent and various abuses indicates that it really doesn't matter what you believe or how you act, so long as you don't go that impermissible final step and become a formal schismatic. Corpus Christi was USCCB, Grade A Approved until its pastors publicly rebelled. If they had been content to *quietly* bless gay unions and let women concelebrate at the altar, then that unfortunate excommunication business wouldn't have been necessary.

After all, the response so far indicates that maintaining intact the facade of institutional unity is what really matters. It's hard not to be deeply discouraged by such "witness" to the Gospel.

The crisis is worse than most people want to admit. Yes, I believe Jesus and his promises to the Church. But nowhere did He indicate a geographic location of where that Church would survive, nor in what condition. Look at the Church in Western Europe. Unless something dramatically changes, that's our preview of coming attractions.

Until this gets recognized, saying "buck up, slugger!" and pointing to the paper orthodoxy of the Church isn't enough. At the very least, I find it much harder to criticize the likes of those who leave in disgust.

Furthermore, it's easy to thunder from on high about "the true church," how the crisis is not "real persecution," and citing the example of the medieval saints who endured. It's much more difficult to see the Church for what it is when its every public action trumpets that not only is it not the ark of Christ's Gospel, it really doesn't give a damn.

Catholicism isn't (or shouldn't be) about lauding the merits of the strong who muscle through while sneering at the weakness of the rest of the flock who get mired in the mud and start sinking. It's also bleakly amusing that "we" always manage to be in the first category, on the side of the angels, roaring our defiance at the storm, receiving that crown.

My brother, raised on Chick tracts at the local fundamentalist church following his born-again experience, was nevertheless becoming interested in the Church. That came to a dead stop because a priest who spent three years sexually abusing one of his altar boys was assigned to the parish where he had started to attend mass. "Disgust" is a word.

My brother loves his kids, after all.

Watching several bishops (Mahony, Grahmann, McCormack and Adamec) revert to form ten months after Dallas, I hardly feel like arguing with him. In a way, him slamming the door perhaps pre-empted the inevitable: he has little patience with liberal Christianity, and he would have gotten megadoses in the Saginaw Diocese.

My point is that witness tells. Sure, there is no salvation outside the Church, but the Church in America has certainly muddled the evidence that it is that Body, hasn't it? I simply can't find it in me to blast the sheep who flee the wolves in shepherds' clothing.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

And Now, A Word from Our Moderator.

I'm just a guy with a family, a day job, and a blog. (Hint: the word order is significant.)

I'm not here 24/7 (more like 3/4), and when I am here, I don't check all the comments. Even when I manage to check them, I don't respond to all of them. Therefore, you should not interpret a lack of response on my part as anything other than a lack of response. Silence does not equal disinterest, disagreement or a tacit endorsement. For example, Raving Atheist dropped by with a flusher-iffic opinion that I didn't even notice for a week. When I stumbled across it, I realized I hadn't missed anything.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I am extraordinarily moderate in my moderating. I installed the comment system to encourage discussion, disagreement, opinions and (most welcome) major suck-uppery.

I haven't had to delete or ban anything or anyone in the seven months this blog has been in existence. I'm not planning to now.

Wait for it....

But. I will if I have to. Actually, since I have other things to do in my life than patrol my blog, I'm much more likely to say the hell with it and pull the comment system entirely.

All I expect is basic courtesy towards each other. It can be a stiff, grudging, throttled-anger kind of courtesy--my definition is loose. You can call an opinion stupid, grasping, venal, etc., but I simply ask that you not apply the same labels to the person. Think "Catholic." And don't give me the St. Paul/St. Jerome excuses for invective unless you can prove you have (1) written inspired scripture or (2) translated your own version of the Bible by yourself.

Last time I checked, (1) the canon is closed and (2) Msgr. Knox is dead (God rest his brilliant soul).

If you are a more secular-minded visitor, comport yourself like you were a major party candidate at a presidential debate and remember that the candidates criticize "fuzzy math" "and there you go again." To my knowledge, no candidate has dropped the a-h bomb (or worse) in a major debate.

Vociferous disagreement is welcome. Cheap shots at posters are not. Especially when I personally know several of the posters here, and tend to take such shots badly.

Police yourselves and we'll all be happy. Don't wake the moderator.

Monday, May 19, 2003

What do you do?

Greg Krehbiel has a provocative post about sticking it out when the church is given over to dissidents, rogues and heretics. [You'll have to scroll down to May 16, because he doesn't have archive links.]

Greg argues forcefully against the notion that a Catholic has to simply shrug with a sad face and live with it:

Imagine the contrary. Imagine that we had to stay in the church no matter how abusive and wicked the bishops and priests became. Imagine that we had to go to mass to hear heresy, or to participate in non-Christian worship. Imagine that we had to tithe to a church that used our money to fund its abusive policies. That's precisely what abusive and wicked leaders would want us to believe, and natural law (if nothing else) proves beyond any reasonable doubt that we can't behave that way. You can't put the fox in charge of the hen house.

* * *

Useless, liberal bishops still dull the senses with the banal, then fill sleeping brains with modernist goo. And the other bishops (including the pope) sit by and do nothing. They should be publicly rebuking these wolves in frilly episcopal dresses, but they are asleep on their watch.

Oh, how Aslan will roar against these useless shepherds!

It would be nice to find a way to easily dismiss this, but you can't. There are entire Catholic diocese where this description fits to a "T." I'm going to worship in one this weekend, a place I will call "Unternaw." If I don't see five different glaring liturgical abuses (including near-concelebration by the "pastoral administrator" nun) or hear heresy from the pulpit (e.g., "God our Mother", fuzzing the Resurrection with a discussion of the "Jesus event," a denial of predestination and virtual denial of original sin), it will be a good Sunday. Thankfully, I don't live there and worship in good ol' Day-twa most of the time. Detroit has its problems, but I'm within 15 minutes of five solid-to-superb parishes--that I know of. I can't say the same for Unternaw. In fact, it may be unique even for the American Church in that it has no refuges of orthodoxy: a couple of parishes where the beleaguered can flee.

Unternaw is five thousand square miles of Methodism without the doctrinal discipline.

I have often wondered what I'd say to a prospective on-fire convert living within its bounds:

"Become familiar with the boundaries of the diocese, and find out how close are you to Lansing, Gaylord or Detroit. Get a car that can handle the mileage."
"The bishop has to retire in five years. That could help. Then again, it may not."
"Familiar with the phrase 'offer it up'? It will be a useful discipline."

OK, a little over the top. Which, if you visit here somewhat often, should constitute an improvement. The sad fact of the matter is this: An evangelical church is likely to be far more "Catholic" in terms of doctrine than the parishes of Unternaw. The divinity and resurrection of Christ will be firmly preached, as will certain difficult rules of biblical morality, including recognition of personal sinfulness and the need for a Savior. The Bible will not be deconstructed by whatever historical-critical theory happens to be the flavor of the month.

In short, one will hear a decent (if incomplete and flawed) approximation of the Gospel of Christ, not the Gospel of Nice.

Oh, and it's much less likely that the guy in charge will place someone with a history of sexual abuse in a position of oversight at the church's school, as happened to the parish in my hometown, smack dab in the middle of Unternaw.

Like Greg, I'm not preaching anyone leave the Church, even in its most benighted regions. There are lifelines and alternatives that can and do help preserve the Faith. 99 percent of the time there are "oasis" parishes. Even where it seems bleakest, there are good people. One of the best priests I have ever met was a priest of Unternaw--a superb shepherd, preacher and confessor. Of course, he was the guy replaced by the abuser.

In other words, it's not easy to be Catholic in such places. It's painfully difficult to be at odds with the clergy and religious, and often a cause of despair. Therefore, we ought to be far more careful of how we judge those who do leave, especially in this time where the witness of the Church, from its bishops on down to those warming the pews, is a poor one indeed.

Sunday, May 18, 2003


To Lane Core and Jeff Miller for their links to my thoughts on CITIgroup's liturgy of self-affirmation.

And to those with suggestions on how to make the blogroll work. I'll be gradually tweaking things over the next few days. If you don't see your site linked, be patient. I'll get to it.

It's either that or I don't particularly like you.

Take your pick.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Building a Blogroll.

Working on it. Expect the usual Blogger weirdness with links, archives and such.

Feel free to chip in with suggestions.

Friday, May 16, 2003

When Clergy Defend!

Or, "Shepherds Behaving Correctly." Either way, good news about priests and bishops doing their jobs.

First, in Virginia, where two priests of the Diocese of Arlington reminded another straying Congressional Catholic to reverse the word order:

With the three politicians seated before him, the Rev. Bryan Belli delivered the sermon, part of which touched on pro-life issues and Catholic politicians who ignore church teachings. Mr. Moran's spokesman, Dan Drummond, was quoted in Roll Call as saying that it is unethical and possibly illegal for Father Belli to attack the Democratic Party from the pulpit.

After the 9 a.m. Mass, according to the newspaper, a "red-faced" Mr. Moran exchanged heated words with the Rev. Michael Dobbins, with Mr. Moran "screaming and pointing his finger at him."

"How can you reconcile yourself as a Catholic with your views on abortion?" the priest is reported to have asked Mr. Moran, who is said to have shot back, "You priests don't know anything about abortion."

"Congressman, put away the talking points. Talk to me as your priest," Father Dobbins told his parishioner. Mr. Moran is reported to have replied that there was "not enough time" and walked off but not before hearing the priest say: "Congressman, one day you will need me, and I will be here."

Then there's my archbishop, barring one of the Call for Fiber gang from speaking at a local parish. Note Dr. Chump's response, which manages at once to be disrespectful, self-promoting, cloying and evasive. Neat trick.

I would disagree slightly with Cardinal Maida about one thing: perhaps the most appalling aspect to the Padster is that he willingly associates himself with something that calls itself "The Inclusive Community". Yeesh: cue "Age of Aquarius." The CFFers are all about "community."

Well, those they allow to be born into it, that is. Which explains why there's plenty of hearing-aid interference at their meetings.
The Perplexed Layman's Guide to Catholic Words and Phrases.

First in an occasional series.



def: the theory of episcopal (q.v.) participation in the governance of the Church (q.v.) that guarantees every bishop (q.v.) the right to behave like a Borgia Pope (q.v.).

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

The Seventh Corporal Work of Mercy.

"The hardest job in the Army": the heroes of Mortuary Affairs.

If you ask them why the rush--the dead will remain that way--they recoil. They live by a credo you'll read as the sign-off on all of Col. Dillon's e-mails: "There is no greater honor than to serve those who have made the ultimate sacrifice." In the grim arithmetic of a 92 Mike, a speedy return = honoring the dead.

In a group interview in the reception area, I learn more about these unique soldiers. Some want to be morticians or forensic scientists, others just want to pay off their college. Some of them got into this lightly, but nobody stays in that way. It is the one military occupational specialty that the Army permits you to beg out of with no recriminations if you feel you can't hack it. A litmus test, of sorts, comes during training back in Richmond, Va., where prospective 92 Mikes spend time in the mortuary and see all manner of death. Not that it can really prepare them for the field experience. In training, "they'll bring out a decomposed body, so you can see the severities of death," says Specialist Kyna Bullock, who at 24 is already a two-war veteran, having done the same job in Afghanistan. "But it's just a guy off the street. It changes everything when you see somebody come through here that has on a uniform like you, that lost their life fighting for a cause. I've been to morgues several times. But the first time I processed the remains of an American soldier, I can still remember his name. . . . You can get a remain in and it may not look like that person. But when you look at their ID card, you look at their dog tags, you go through their wallet and see pictures of their family. . . . It changes things a lot."

As always, RTWT.
The First Commandment for Churches Trying to be 'Hep' and 'Groove Down' with 'the Young People': "Thou Shalt Not Meet At An Elks Club."

How long, O Lord? How long? The usual subset of Boomer Catholics are playing church again:

FRAMINGHAM -- Catholics looking for more spirituality, unity, love and compassion turned to the Elks Club yesterday.

But not "truth." That would involve having to get out of the "spiritual" jacuzzi to face reality every once and a while. Naaah.

After a Mass said by the Rev. Ronald Ingalls, a married priest from Ashland, many in the 50-person congregation said they found what they had been seeking.

Um, their car keys? Maybe the Prilosec tablets that fell out of their pockets? Did any of the headcount involve people who wandered in looking for the bar by mistake? Wow, 50. "Sing a new club into being...."

"The Mass was beautiful and meaningful. It's so nice to be in a community that welcomes everyone," said Leah O'Leary of Norwood, married to the Rev. Paul Plato who will say Mass next week.

Rose Bradley of Upton was equally touched by the service.

"I thought the Mass was very spiritual. It moved me, especially when I saw tears in Father Ingalls' eyes at the end of the Mass," said Bradley, a former Sister of Notre Dame.

Thirty-eight freaking years of celebrating the community first and foremost at the Big Agape Table called the Eucharistic Celebration, and they're only feeling the community now? Where you been, Mrs. O'Leary?

"Tears in his eyes." All the Ben Gay in the air will do that to you.

Holding a peach-colored rose given to all mothers after the Mass, Catherine Mercier from Blackstone said it was the best service she ever attended.

"The Holy Spirit was definitely with us all during the service," said Mercier. She has been looking for a smaller religious group, "where there is a spirit working within the community."

Looking for a smaller religious group, eh? I daresay you've found it, and I can guarantee it's only going to get smaller. And yep, there sure is a spirit working, all right: the spiritus mundi.

And what is it with a certain cohort of Catholics who seem to think they are the Holy Spirit's Press Secretary, anyway?

"In a larger church you can't share that," said Mercier, a divorcee, who knew that many divorced Catholics don't feel comfortable attending Mass in the Catholic Church where they cannot receive all the sacraments.

When was the last time a Massachusetts Catholic was refused a sacrament? Didn't think so. Diocesan priests fall all over themselves to toss hosts into the mouths of the overwhelmingly pro-choice politicos of the state, including that walking Cautionary Tale called Ted Kennedy. When I think "theocracy," the Bay State consistently fails to come to mind.

Ingalls, dressed in a white cassock with a vibrantly colored stole from El Salvador around his neck, said the conventional Mass. Placed on the altar in front of him was a tray of bread and red grapes, a chalice of wine, the Eucharistic hosts, and a small lit white candle.

Snazzy outfit, and so multiculti! Why do I suspect the Rev. Ingalls is an ex-Jesuit? The stole is a hint, coming as it does from the place where The Only Jesuit Martyrs in History hail from.

It's also nice to see the rest of the accoutrements were set up so well: the bread, grapes, and probably an altar cloth from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I sure hope the feng shui was just so.

Ingalls, who admitted he was a little nervous, referred in jest to the meeting place as St. Lodge of Elks Church.

Well, the joke was no lamer than most attempted priestly stand-up. It would be nice to think that schism made him nervous, but it was probably stagefright.

"We wanted to say a conventional Mass where people can grow together spiritually," said Ingalls, noting that no donation basket would be passed during the service.

Ingalls' wife, Sheila, said she didn't want the service to be too conventional.

Hmm. The Movement's members are at odds already! And is anyone else well and truly sick of the word "spiritual" yet?

"I wanted it to be special," said Sheila Ingalls, manager of online banking at Middlesex Savings Bank in Natick.

Mission accomplished.

A boom box, taking the organist's place, played tapes with songs for everyone to sing including, "Come As You Are," which expressed the sentiment of the congregation.

What? No Norman Greenbaum?! What's wrong with you people?!?

"Yes, I hear all the young folks now have one of these here 'ghetto casters.' Would you mind putting in my 'Peter, Paul and Mary' 8-track?"

According to Louise Haggett, president of CITI Ministries Inc., married priests are being summoned by lay people and the Catholic Church's Canon Law, which states when (married) priests are asked for the sacraments, priests cannot refuse.

"Roman Catholics still want to attend Mass but have become disillusioned for several reasons, including (the church's) political agenda and the sexual abuse scandal," said Haggett.

I'd love to be able to untangle this justification, but I don't know where to begin. "I'm so ticked about the war, contraception and abuse that I need to see a married priest. I think I'll order one now." Okay. Pretext, anyone?

CITI, which stands for Celibacy Is The Issue, was founded in 1992 in Framingham in response to a shortage of priests. Its mission is to work toward the full use of married Roman Catholic priests in filling spiritual needs.

Celibacy is the issue? Ah, yes: If only Paul Shanley had met the right woman....

"Celibacy is a man-made law. Before 1139, popes, bishops and priests were married," said Haggett.

Sounds vaguely Boettneresque to me. At the very least, the rule in the eastern and western Church was that bishops were expected to be celibate.

But, according to Ingalls, not everyone is in agreement about the Mass.

Got it in one.

"When I left the priesthood, my license to operate as a priest was withdrawn and because of that (the Rev. Christopher) Coyne from the Archdiocese of Boston is calling married priests all sinners," said Ingalls.

We're not sinners, darn it! We're a warm, affirming spiritual community!

>>Obligatory Couple of Sentences Where Journalist Attempts to Instill Illusion of Balance by Briefly Referring to the Other Side But Not Presenting Its Arguments omitted.<<

According to Upton's Bradley, the church needs to get back to its roots.

"All change is a process," said Bradley, who taught first grade at the Roosevelt School in Framingham after she left the convent in 1966. "Prayer has to be the foundation for change. We have to have a church that belongs to all of us. The new church will come as God wishes.

"We are trying to arrive at something and be a church the way that Christ intended. We are not radical. We are trying to go back to where we can belong and grow and be fed spiritually," said Bradley.

Argh. That word, for the umpteenth time. Funny how it is that "Christ" always manages to give the ol' thumbs up to everything they are trying to do, saying "You go, girl!" from on high. JC's not a judgmental kinda guy.

Introspection? That's getting out of the warm water again...

"Youngsters especially need the church today so that they can learn about love and compassion and develop self-esteem which will help them go through a difficult phase in their lives. They especially need inner peace after all the abuse and financial scandals," said Bradley.

As we all know, JC (can we call you "Josh"? I mean, "Christ" sounds so hierarchical) was all about self esteem!

Although CITI previously was told it could hold Mass at the Framingham Lodge of Elks, future services will have to be held elsewhere because there is no handicap-access ramp.

CITI is negotiating with other venues and expects to have a location firmed up for next week.

I hear there's this hall owned by a member of VOTF. Now those guys are happenin'!

[Link via Catholic Light.]
"I feel happy! I feel happy!"

Our domestic bliss report, To Love, Honor and Blog, is still a going concern. Even my precocious son is getting into the act....

Friday, May 09, 2003

The "Smelly" Second Amendment, Part II.

Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to read a blunt accusation of elite prejudice on the subject in, of all places, a recent federal court opinion: Silveira v. Lockyer (sorry, requires Acrobat Reader). Unfortunately, it was a dissenting opinion, but it was still heartening. It was written by 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, a superb jurist with a flair for writing and a puckish sense of humor. Make sure you check out his "Lawsuit, Shmawsuit", which documents the use of Yiddish in court opinions, including a brutal use of "schmuck."

In Silveira, the 9th Circuit rejected the individual rights interpretation of the Amendment, and Judge Kozinski cuffed the federal bench in response, in what can only be described as a tour de force:

Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that “speech, or . . . the press” also means the Internet, see Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844 (1997), and that “persons, houses, papers, and effects” also means public telephone booths, see Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases—or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. See, e.g., Compassion in Dying v. Washington, 79 F.3d 790 (9th Cir. 1996) (en banc), rev’d sub nom. Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997). But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we’re none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.

It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as springboards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny.

Then the Judge breaks out the whuppin' stick, and cites the dismal record of American and world history:

The majority falls prey to the delusion—popular in some circles—that ordinary people are too careless and stupid to own guns, and we would be far better off leaving all weapons in the hands of professionals on the government payroll. But the simple truth—born of experience—is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people. Our own sorry history bears this out: Disarmament was the tool of choice for subjugating both slaves and free blacks in the South. In Florida, patrols searched blacks’ homes for weapons, confiscated those found and punished their owners without judicial process. See Robert J. Cottrol & Raymond T. Diamond, The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration, 80 Geo. L.J. 309, 338 (1991). In the North, by contrast, blacks exercised their right to bear arms to defend against racial mob violence. Id. at 341-42. As Chief Justice Taney well appreciated, the institution of slavery required a class of people who lacked the means to resist. See Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 417 (1857) (finding black citizenship unthinkable because it would give blacks the right to “keep and carry arms wherever they went”). A revolt by Nat Turner and a few dozen other armed blacks could be put down without much difficulty; one by four million armed blacks would have meant big trouble. All too many of the other great tragedies of history—Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few—were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. See Kleinfeld Dissent at 5997-99. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars. My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late.

Finally, he comes to the basis for the Amendment, crafted by men who did not believe America was immune to the tide of history or human nature:

The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed—where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

Fortunately, the Framers were wise enough to entrench the right of the people to keep and bear arms within our constitutional structure. The purpose and importance of that right was still fresh in their minds, and they spelled it out clearly so it would not be forgotten. Despite the panel’s mighty struggle to erase these words, they remain, and the people themselves can read what they say plainly enough:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the
security of a free State, the right of the people to
keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

It is the rare opinion that is not cluttered with technical verbiage. The same goes for Judge Kleinfeld's dissent, which also packs a few zingers. Read them both.
The "Smelly" Second Amendment, Part I.

I've been an on-again, off-again member of the NRA since law school, currently the latter. Not because I have a particular beef against the organization (although I think it is sometimes inflexible and picks its fights poorly), but rather because I was both inattentive and cheap about keeping up my membership. Regardless, I've always been convinced that the Second Amendment protected an individual citizen's rights to own firearms. Moreover, I've never believed it was just for hunting, either.

An interesting fact about the debates over the Second Amendment is that, until recently, there was an almost uniform elite revulsion against the "individual rights" position. The Swedish chattering classes have intoned, mantra-like, that to the extent it meant anything in our modern enlightened era, the Second Amendment only protected the "right" of State governments to have their own militias.

However, over the last twenty years, that position has been under increasing assault in, of all places, the American legal academy. Beginning with Don Kates' magisterial article in the Michigan Law Review, an increasing number of law professors have come to the conclusion, sometimes sheepishly, that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. For an excellent example of this kind of honest admission, see Sanford Levinson's The Embarrassing Second Amendment. For a general overview of the explosion of articles about the Amendment, see the handy list at the Second Amendment Law Library.

Frankly, this turnaround is a small miracle. Why? It had to overcome the elite prejudice against The Crude Smelly Folk & Their Bloodsports. If you think I'm exaggerating, you are wrong. The same issue of the Yale Law Journal that contained Prof. Levinson's commentary also published a response (of sorts) by Professor Wendy Brown, wherein she related how she met an NRA cap-wearing hunter drinking beer by his Winnebago while she was seeking help for her stalled car. He agreed to help, and after two hours, got the car started. In gratitude, Prof. Brown described how she was afraid he could have raped her. This provoked the trenchant response of another Professor, Douglas Laycock:

Whatever precautions may be necessary, it is important to distinguish in thought and rhetoric between two propositions: (1) Some men are potential rapists, and because it is impossible to tell which ones, there is always some risk. (2) All men are potential rapists. Proposition (1) is true, but proposition (2) does not follow from (1).

Professor Brown’s anecdote goes well beyond either of these propositions. The juxtaposition of her fear of rape with this man’s personal characteristics plainly implies that with this man, she perceived the risk of rape to be significantly greater than average. She could tell that he was a likely rapist because of his NRA cap, his hunting club, his beer, his satellite dish, and his porn magazine. That charge is implicit in the entire anecdote; there is no other reason to dwell on his personal characteristics. She eventually makes the point explicit: "During the hours I spent with him, I had no reason to conclude that his respect for women’s personhood ran any deeper than his respect for the lives of Sierra deer ..."!!

There are indeed people in our society who have no more respect for humans than for animals. We call them psychopaths, and when they act on their impulses and we catch them, we lock them up. They are mostly male, but as far as I can tell, they are a tiny percentage of the population. What is the evidence that this man was a psychopath? Well, the NRA cap, the hunting club, the beer, the satellite dish, and the porn magazine.

We also have the evidence that he spent two hours of his limited time in the mountains helping a total stranger fix her car. The stranger was a woman, and he gave his time to help her; that is some reason to conclude that he respects women more than deer. That he offered to help her is not dispositive, as there are occasional accounts of men who help a woman and then rape her. But there is no evidence that Professor Brown’s benefactor was such a man. He simply helped her.

That did not earn him any credit with her, nor did it provide her any evidence that he respected women more than deer. Nothing in his individual conduct could overcome Professor Brown’s stereotype. If you fixedly believe that blacks are lazy, a hardworking black is "no reason to conclude" otherwise. Either he is an exception, or his hard work is invisible to you. For Professor Brown, NRA members with porn magazines are likely rapists who think of women as animals, and individual traits and conduct are invisible to her even when she is the beneficiary.

Professor Brown’s description of her benefactor emphasizes their political disagreements, but there are also important elements of class bias in the story, especially in its comparison of his beer and television to her trail mix and Nietzsche. However heroic the working class may be in the abstract, its members are a perpetual disappointment to many academics. They do not believe what academics believe, read what academics read, or choose the recreation that academics choose. They are also widely thought to be intolerant. But as far as I can tell, no class and no political faction dominates the market in intolerance.

Consequently, there's more than a constitutional argument behind the rhetoric of those opposed to a serious interpretation of the Second Amendment--there's a pronounced and unacknowledged class bias motivating too many gun control proponents, and it stinks to high heaven.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Jeff Miller reveals his secret at last!

Regular doses of "Liturgical Dismal" and "Alka-Psalter."

Sounds good.

Does it come in a warehouse pack?
Coals to Newcastle...

...whores to Paris.

As she thanked the French for opposing conflict in Iraq, she told fans: "Here in France I feel at home."

Well, duh. A preening, ambitious, self-promoting, mediocre ex-Catholic libertine wouldn't feel anything but at home in 21st Century France.

At least until sharia kicks in.

[The title is courtesy of HM George V.]

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Litur-goofy in L.A.

Evidently, Pepto Bismol comes in Industrial Strength. That's the only explanation for Jeff Miller's astonishing intestinal fortitude as he worked his way through the photographs and program for this year's Religious Education Conference sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Oy. Take a look.

If you dare.
"Numbered among the enemies general of mankind, to be dealt with as wolves are..."

It's a standard picture in America: the family Christmas photo. Millions are snapped every year, scanned, photoshopped, emailed, inserted into Christmas cards, framed or inserted between mylar sheets in treasured photo albums.

When you have a young child, it's a little different. All right, a lot different. As a parent, you are obligated to have no less than fifteen snaps with the child(ren), making sure you get the right combination of well-dressed offspring, lighting, angle and 2-D background. By the end of the shoot, the overworked My Photographer/Sears/Penney's cameraman has delved deep into his bag of child smile-making tricks, is gyrating with props and making noises in what looks for all the world like a full-bore meltdown. But it works, and you invariably get at least two or three shots you treasure forever.

That's probably why one family Christmas photograph in particular haunts me. It will until I die. After that, God grant that every tear be wiped from my eyes.

This is the picture. If you have never seen it, the photo is of Pete, Sue Kim, and little Christine Hanson. In the photo, I can see the photographer waving the pastel teddy bear in the background ("Hey there hey there-smile!"), feel Dad's wearied but doting patience ("How many shots does this guy need?"), understand Mom's serenity ("These are going to be good!"), and, of course, share the little girl's delight ("Again!"). Every father and mother has been there--has seen and heard little Christine's laughing smile.

Here is the family's website. I "met" the Hansons via James Lileks' powerful essay, where he revealed that the entire family was murdered by bin Laden's scum on their way to Disneyland. Murdered so that some evil bastard and his equally evil followers could pursue their dream of tyranny.

On Monday, Lileks wrote about Pete, Sue Kim and Christine Hanson again in his Bleat. He had to introduce a symphony dedicated to two and a half year old Christine. It is what he does not say that packs the hardest punch. He also never actually tells you what he said. He doesn't have to:

My job today was to introduce this piece of music.

Dedicate it to Christine.

Dedicate the performance to her grandparents, who were in the audience.

Then introduce the Resurrection symphony.

You get handed these duties, these moments of honor that tremble in your hands like a soap bubble, and it’s your role to show it to everyone else, to keep your hands steady, to make sure it doesn’t shudder and vanish before its time. I went on stage, said what I had to say, didn’t lose it, then sat in a corner and listened to the piece. The composer used the Barney music, which Christine loved, which Gnat sings distractedly some days.

The Barney theme. Until Monday, I had nothing but a tooth-grinding disdain for the cloying dinosaur. More often than not, I referred to him and the related marketing empire as "the Purple Satan." You say things like that when you spend six bucks on Barney toothbrushes (my daughter dropped the first into one of the cat boxes). However, you keep buying them because you see eyes light up in wonder, and a happy little voice that says "Bah-ee!" in response to the image of some guy cavorting about in a padded lizard suit. But I think I just retired my Barneyphobia:

He'd [the composer] learned that Christine's favorite tune was the "Barney and Friends" song. So to start, he took the descending minor third from the opening of the TV show's theme song, "This Old Man," and gave it to a lonely harp, expanding it to sound a lot more like late Romanticism than TV kitsch.

He went on to incorporate the strong, hopeful sound of woodwind choirs, soaring violin lines doubled by flutes, and the solemn trumpet calls and soft, intermittent snare-drum rolls of a proud nation hobbled by grief. In closing, chimes symbolize the wind in which Christine had been traveling when she died, Schroeder said.

A young family, snuffed out on a trip to see "Mih-ee" and the rest of the Disney crew. Butchered on the way to see other people in smiling animal suits bounding about. Terrorized, then incinerated, for the greater glory of jihad.

Some sniff disdainfully when the President makes a reference to those members of Al Qaeda dispatched to the hereafter via bullets, bombs and missiles. My response? Damn straight! I hope the armed forces are sending more fanatics on their last raisin run as we speak. I hope the dwindling number of survivors are sleeping lightly, waking frequently at the sound of planes and helicopters overhead. Or waking frequently because it's too quiet. Or whispering anxiously amongst themselves about the last major sweep that nabbed their comrades or foiled yet another murderous plot.

The next time some clown carps about Guantanamo, I'll remember that the Hansons weren't offered the chance to live, given studiously correct meals, medical care and access to a minister. They were killed. Gleefully. Just like they would gleefully kill me and mine without the slightest compunction.

Lileks again:

Many of us have a small burned corner of our hearts where it’s always 9/11; it’s where we keep the stories forged in that foundry of evil and pain.

Well said. That's the part of me that remembers my fireman father running into burning buildings. The part of me that watches low-flying planes much longer than I used to. The part of me that wonders about working in one of Detroit's taller and more internationally relevant buildings, twenty miles from Metropolitan Airport. The part of me that refuses to meet my family at work.

There are indications that Al Qaeda is fatally crippled.

I disagree. Well begun, half done, not over yet.

The war will be over when the next fanatic who suggests a plan to massacre the next Hanson family is immediately riddled with gunfire by his shocked compatriots, stunned that any idiot would propose such a thing.

[Lileks symphony link via Christopher Johnson.]

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Just Your Average Weekend for a Pius XII, Captain Renault, Minotaur-Slayer, Jimmy Stewart, Cheshire Cat, One-Handed Norse Justice God Kind of Guy.

Um, a weekend involving turkey basters full of Haldol?




Chore-filled (At least it's been sunny).

And also spent watching the Pistons, who managed to redeem themselves and the piteous Detroit sports scene this afternoon.

Friday, May 02, 2003


You are The Cheshire Cat
You are The Cheshire Cat

A huge grin constantly plastered upon your face,
you never cease to amuse. You are completely
confusing and contradictory to most everyone.

What Alice in Wonderland Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to Shawn for the Quizilla barrage.
Next Stop: Ragnarok.

Tyr (or Tiw, Ziw) is the ancient god of War and the
Lawgiver of the gods. He sacrifices his hand so
that the evil Fenris wolf may be bound. At one
time he was the leader of the Norse Pantheon,
but was supplanted by Odin much later. There is
nothing to indicate how this occurred; one
assumes that he simply "stepped back"
and let Odin assume the position of leadership.
Tyr is excellent in all manners of Justice,
fair play, and Right Action.

What Norse God Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

On a related note, here's a fairly interesting (if often drenched in Educationese) long essay about the popularity of Marvel Comics' Thor character.
This sounds about right.

it's a wonderful life poster
you are 'it's a wonderful life'!

which old movie do you belong in?
brought to you by Quizilla
More Quizilla.

I am Theseus
You are Theseus! You have been credited with
inventing democracy...and wrestling. You were
at least somewhat responsible for the deaths of
your father and son, but you've also had some
great adventures. You're very well-rounded--
smart and strong--and always have a plan to
defeat whatever monster you're up against. To
read more about yourself, check out Mary
Renault's "The King Must Die" and
"The Bull from the Sea", Plutarch's
biography, and Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Which Greek Mythological Hero Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Shocked--shocked!--that I came out as this guy.

You are Captain Renault. "How extravagant of
you, throwing away women like that. Someday
they may be scarce."

Which Casablanca character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

My favorite character in the film, hands down.

And it's November.

  I look forward to making some kind of effigy of 2022 and setting it on fire on December 31.  Things have steadified, to coin a term. My so...