Thursday, May 27, 2004

Amazingly appropriate.

Ever wonder how "abortion" is rendered in American Sign Language?

Go here, then scroll down on the right until you find the word. Watch Kate Medeaman try to get it replaced with the one for "procedure."

ASL is apparently a language without euphemism. I admire that.

Makes sense, too: if you yourself were regarded as less than fully human, you might be a tad sensitive to the disposal of others similarly regarded.

[Link via Amy Welborn].
For your penance, I give you a basilica.

Bernard Cardinal Law gets a Roman appointment. More than a little waft of "We really don't think you did anything wrong"/golden parachute coming off of this one. I wish I could say I'm surprised.

While I recognize there's a difference between their actions, I prefer the approach taken by former Palm Beach bishop Anthony O'Connell, who is doing penance at a Trappist monastery in South Carolina.

O'Connell, once the leader of 250,000 Catholics in the five-county diocese, lives in a 10-by-15-foot monastic cell and follows the rigorous Trappist prayer schedule, which begins at 3:20 every morning. He also performs manual labor and menial tasks demanded by the regimen, including work on the chicken farm the monks operate.

* * *

The seven prayer sessions start with the 3:20 a.m. "vigils," and during the reporter's stay, O'Connell had the duty of reading aloud from scripture at that service. The last prayer of the day is "compline" at 7:35 p.m., part of which is held by candlelight.

The prayer cycle at the abbey employs the Psalms more than any other resource. They often emphasize mercy and compassion but also explore "the dark night of the soul."

The eight priests in the community -- the rest are non-ordained "brothers" -- concelebrate Mass at 7:30 a.m. every day, and O'Connell joins them in full priestly vestments. But Jeffcoat specified that O'Connell is not allowed to say Mass anywhere except at the monastery.

During the rest of the day, the monks perform lectio divina, private reading of Scripture, and they do several hours of manual work. The abbey's main means of support is a modernly mechanized chicken farm, which produces 30,000 eggs a day.

Jeffcoat said O'Connell is assigned tasks every day, which might include "grading eggs, doing laundry, taking care of infirm monks, or bagging compost," which the abbey also sells.

* * *

But O'Connell's movements are strictly controlled.

"His activities are restricted and monitored by the abbot and the monastic community to ensure no minor is placed at risk," according to a statement concerning O'Connell the monastery issued to The Palm Beach Post.

Jeffcoat specified that O'Connell has absolutely no contact with minors who may visit the monastery on day trips. He also has no contact with adult retreat participants, who often live at the facility for days at a time, she said.

"His infrequent trips away from the monastery are all carefully monitored," according to the official statement.

O'Connell, 65, goes to doctor appointments off the grounds of the abbey, "but even then he needs the permission of the abbot, and most of the time someone goes with him," Jeffcoat said. "In that community, you really can't do anything without other people knowing."

[The O'Connell story link is in the comments--linking in the post itself did weird things to the formatting.]
Wallace! Wallace!

That was cool, though the lads seem determined to make me very nervous in the fourth quarter.

Funniest scene? A stylish white-haired matron (think Lovey in Gilligan's Island) at courtside asking Rasheed Wallace for a high five at the end of the game, and a bemused Rasheed (gently) complying.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Happy Second Blogiversary!

To the indefatigable Lane Core at The Blog From The Core.

Ad multos annos!
The Creche Patrol strikes again.

This time, going nuclear on the Cross found in the Los Angeles city seal. Whew, and just in time, too. It's only been on there for decades. Our heroes, ever-vigilant against the rise of theocracy.

As attorney (and atheist, FWIW) Eugene Volokh notes:

Religion is a fundamental part of California history, as it is part of the history of the country as a whole. There should be no constitutional obligation to extirpate all historical religious references from American public life. Even if the Court is right that government endorsement of religion is unconstitutional, courts must distinguish references that will be seen as endorsing religions from references that simply recognize religion's role in American history — and the seal seems to me to be well on the side of history, not endorsement.

Or what will be next? Rename Santa Fe? Providence, Rhode Island? Corpus Christi? The Sangre de Cristo Mountains?

And you wonder why some folks call the ACLU the "Anti-Christian Litigation Unit" (though I still prefer "The Creche Patrol"--has that nice 50s space cadet ring to it).

Congrats to Jim and Jessica Cork!

Oops--looks like the ultrasound was a little earlier than I thought.

Theirs actually looks like a baby. Generally speaking, our ultrasounds look like Zontar the Space Cabbage from SCTV (how's that for an obscure reference?).

Go over and offer your congratulations!
Contra traditionalists, Vatican II was a dogmatic council.

And the uber-dogma pronounced there was collegiality, which means that the Catholic Church is effectively a schizoid institution with differing standards of behavior depending upon accidents of diocesan geography deriving directly from the identity of the chap with the pointy hat.

Exhibit A:

The ever-sane Francis Cardinal George of Chicago points out the obvious with respect to the Pentecostal guerrilla theatre planned by the Rainbow Sash Movement.

A four hour plane ride away, the ever...consistent...Roger Cardinal Mahony of LA rolls out the red carpet for the same group.

Anybody else see a problem here?

BTW, let's see if I have this straight: In La-La Land, Rainbow Sash-ers, the Governator and John Kerry are in full communion with the Church and can walk up to the (non-existent) altar rail without qualms, but Mel Gibson isn't and can't.


Okay, I lied. Actually, I don't, and I suspect understanding the reasoning requires studying fifty pages of flow charts, ingesting a brick of peyote and three months of sleep-deprived programming by LA spokesbeing Tod Tamberg.

[Thanks to Dom for the links.]

Monday, May 24, 2004

Reading and viewing recommendations.

1. Reading: The Righteous, by British historian Sir Martin Gilbert. If you haven't read anything by Winston Churchill's official biographer, you are cheating yourself. Get his history of the Second World War, for starters, and The Jews in the Twentieth Century: A History.

If Gilbert's approach can be summed up in a phrase, it would be this: The vocation of the historian is to ensure for posterity that the collective memory is as accurate, objective and complete as possible.

His history of WW2, for example, accounts for not only the battles and leaders, but for the victims who would otherwise be lost to the mists of time. He recounts the dates of trains leaving for Treblinka as well as the date of a particular campaign by the Allies or Axis. In the second book, he offers an account of the Nazi liquidation of a Jewish community in Lithuania, including the death of the chief rabbi, with the brief, powerful statement: "He was my grandfather."

It makes for sobering reading.

The Righteous offers a similar approach to a different topic: the rescue of Jews by non-Jews during the Holocaust. In one of those interesting twists in history, it was inspired by Gilbert's stumbling upon the funeral procession for Oskar Schindler in Jerusalem in 1974. Here, Sir Martin is determined to remember those who acted where others did not. Rendered anecdotally, it is a masterpiece that reads quickly. Yes, Pius XII is mentioned--and to take away your anxiety, he is regarded positively. Gilbert is an historian, not a prosecutor (Daniel Goldhagen, take notice). A wise Polish priest named Karol Wojtyla also makes an appearance....Again, Gilbert tries to remember those who would otherwise be lost, like the Polish Catholic who did odd jobs around a synagogue in Bialystok. The Nazis locked the congregation into the building and set it on fire. The SS shot those who tried to escape out the front, but the handyman went around to the back and saved dozens of Jews by opening a window. Gilbert's frustration is palpable when he states that he is unable to identify that man. Then there are the inexplicable moments, such as the SS officer who employed a subterfuge freed a five year old girl and her mother from a pen in Holland. An associate of the woman could only speculate, but thinks it may simply have been because the girl reminded the officer of his own daughter.

An intensely human portrait of cowardice and courage, betrayal and honor, tragedy and triumph, it deserves to be widely read.

2. Viewing: Miracle: The DVD. I've raved about this before. It's only one of the best sports films ever made. Then there's the fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary.

Naaaah. You don't need that.
Interesting thread developing below.
Stop by here.

To stir the pot even further, remember this:

The essay was written by James Hitchcock. He's not known to channel for Hutton Gibson, for pete's sake. For example, try this defense of another council document, Lumen Gentium. For more, try this.

He's entitled to a respectful hearing, and to rebuttals that go beyond "the Council was protected from error." (1)

Well, what?

That doesn't mean that the document is going to fully address any particular issue, nor does it mean that a document won't downplay aspects of church teaching.

See, e.g. Cantate Domino's failure to reference the established requirements for committing a mortal sin. Also see Sacrosanctum Concilium, which has led to dozens of attempted clarifications and revisions, as well as a liturgy war now in its second generation. Try here and here for the differing interpretations of that foundational decree. Try to space out your time between reading the two perspectives so as to avoid vertigo.

Nor--and I think this is Dr. Hitchcock's point--does it mean that a conciliar document, by virtue of its emphasis, incompleteness or even flaws--isn't especially susceptible to distortion or interpretation in all manner of disastrous ways.

The essay strikes me as a reasonable, respectful argument that GS suffers from particular weaknesses that mandate discussion and critical analysis. This should not be a problem--unless reasoned, respectful critiques are only permitted for the declarations of the other twenty ecumenical councils.

(1) Nor, for that matter, do I think GS should be regarded as a "risible piece of _____." It does condemn modern evils--e.g., GS 27, 51.
What he said.

Jim Cork wonders whether there seem to be more pregnant women out and about right now.

Sure seems to be from my end. Heather and I went out to eat last night at BD's Mongolian Barbecue (if you get a chance to go to one, do it--it's never the same meal twice) in Sterling Heights. It was our first trip out without the kids in four months. Don't worry: the dog was there, and we taught Maddie how to use a manual can opener and the speed dial on the phone before we left.

Anyway--in a restaurant with about fifty patrons on a Sunday evening, three were pregnant and two more couples had their newborns (six months and under). We noticed similar stuff at other stops. Purely anecdotal, but interesting. Anybody else able to report something similar, or is it just the case that Jim and I are unusually sensitized to the presence of expectant mothers?

Not so BTW, make sure to congratulate him--he and Jess are going to be having their ultrasound in the next few weeks.

The family computer caught a virus.


Blogging and responding to emails will be something of a challenge this week.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The perils of over-optimism.

The following link is to a very worthwhile essay by James Hitchcock entitled The End of Gaudium Et Spes? The basic thesis is that the fathers of the Second Vatican Council were a little too exuberantly optimistic about the condition of the world and the Church, which has led to a lot of the post-conciliar hangover today. An excerpt, but you owe it to yourself to read the entire article:

Why Pope John summoned the Council remains even today somewhat mysterious. The Pope spoke of a "new Pentecost" and indicated that, since the teachings of the Church were firm and beyond doubt, the Council would not concern itself with doctrine but would be primarily a "pastoral" council. In all likelihood John XXIII's great dream was that, since the Church was generally in a healthy state, the time had come to put aside the defensiveness which had characterized the conduct of Church policy for over 400 years, and to begin reaching out to the world, bringing Christ to the nations and preparing for the world's conversion. The goals of the Council would be "the renewal of the spirit of the Gospel in the hearts of people everywhere and the adjustment of Christian discipline to modern-day living."

This outlook was made possible by the apparently flourishing state of the Church during Pope John's pontificate. While not without problems, the Church was freer than she had been earlier in the modern period and, in contrast with what would come later, her members were unusually serious, devout, and moral. Such a Church could be criticized mainly as fostering routine formalism and an overly narrow piety, and it is likely that Pope John thought that a new Pentecost could build on this foundation to reach a higher level of apostolic zeal, spiritual depth, and social concern.

* * *

In many ways the promise of the Council has not been fulfilled, as the immediate effect of the Council--still powerful after four decades--was to plunge the Church into an internal crisis more severe than any in her history. The crisis was provoked by the fact that, almost immediately at the Councils end, there occurred the world-wide cultural phenomenon now popularly known as "the Sixties," amounting to nothing less than a frontal assault on all forms of authority. The cultural map itself changed rapidly, so that many of the assumptions found in the conciliar decrees were soon rendered obsolete. The Council fathers apparently had no inkling of that coming crisis; the task of "reading the signs of the times" was apparently far more difficult than was imagined in the euphoric days of the early l960s.

The conciliar decrees built upon that euphoria and in effect imposed a compulsory optimism on Catholics. Although Pope Paul VI famously spoke of the "smoke of Satan" as having entered the Church, it has generally been the custom of Vatican officials and diocesan bishops, in the years since the Council, to minimize the problems of the post-conciliar period and to speak of "renewal" as a stunning success. Insofar as Gaudium et Spes was revolutionary, it was in its failure to acknowledge the full power of evil in the world, particularly the reality of evil motives in human affairs. In talking about "human aspirations," the Council implied that even error springs from good intentions and can be corrected by deeper understanding. It took little notice of a human reality often proclaimed in Scripture: hatred of truth and goodness, love of evil for its own sake.

The pervasive good will expressed in Gaudium et Spes unintentionally helped to erode the crucial distinction between hope and optimism, which in Christian terms are often polar opposites. Genuine hope, as a theological virtue, believes in the redemption, in the ultimate triumph of good over evil. It is a theological virtue precisely because historical experience, more often than not, shows evil triumphing over good. Conflating hope with optimism actually denies hope by minimizing the power of evil and insisting that good is triumphing despite all evidence to the contrary. The Council documents themselves not only failed to foresee the coming crisis, they assumed by their silence that it could not occur. While certain errors were pointed out in the documents, the governing assumption was that, as Catholics were encouraged to take new responsibility for living their faith, a dramatic new spring would break out. The documents themselves provided little help in understanding how that renewal could have gone awry, bringing about the disasters that we now see around us: the loss of missionary zeal, the collapse of religious life, the sacrilegious liturgies, the general public acceptance of the sexual revolution.

The Council understood modernity primarily as scientific and technological change, without an equivalent spiritual development--a perspective which had the effect of deflecting attention away from the spiritual roots of modernity, which in their extreme are a kind of willful metaphysical nihilism only obliquely related to science and technology. Concentrating on science and technology, with the implication that their deficiencies could be overcome by good will, enabled the Council to sustain its optimistic view of the modern world, ignoring the question whether modernity is at its heart a denial of even the possibility of eternal truth.

Blame Canada.

For Noah's Flood, of all things.

ONE of the country's top scientists believes the abrupt drainage of a super-sized glacial lake in Canada 8,000 years ago may have triggered the ancient Middle Eastern flood that inspired the story of Noah's Ark. University of Manitoba geologist Jim Teller has spent much of his career studying the 4,000-year life history of Lake Agassiz, a mammoth fresh-water basin formed as the melting Laurentide glacier retreated northward at the end of the last ice age.

When Agassiz -- the last major remnant of which is Lake Winnipeg -- was at its widest around 6000 BC, it spanned 2,000 kilometres from present-day Saskatchewan to northwestern Quebec. It contained 30 per cent more water than is held by all of the lakes on Earth today, and seven times more than the combined volume of the five Great Lakes.

Teller has published several studies demonstrating that as Agassiz's ice dam cracked at various places and times throughout its history, huge volumes of lake water rushed into the Atlantic, played havoc with ocean currents and produced major changes in global climate.

But, it was Agassiz's last "catastrophic burst" -- a collapse somewhere along its glacial wall followed by a lake-to-sea gusher of almost unfathomable scope and speed -- that Teller thinks could have given rise to the Noah's Ark saga and other ancient accounts of a massive flood.

* * *

American scientists William Ryan and Walter Pitman had already argued that the sudden flooding of the Black Sea after the last ice age probably spawned the story of Noah and similar deluge narratives dating from the dawn of recorded history.

But Teller's team countered that a likelier scenario -- and one that makes more sense geographically -- is that water rushing into the Persian Gulf basin gave rise to Epic of Gilgamesh, Sumerian and Mesopotamian flood legends that were first captured in oral history and eventually set down in writing about 5,000 years ago.

The most famous of those stories is the one many religious scholars believe is the basis of the Biblical flood: the Epic of Gilgamesh, a 4,500-year-old clay tablet chronicle unearthed a century ago by archeologists near the city of Ur, at the north end of the Persian Gulf.

"The Persian Gulf was dry during the last ice age, because sea level went down 120 or 130 metres and the gulf was only about 100 or 110 metres deep," Teller explains.

In other words, the Gulf 10,000 years ago would have been occupied by ancestral Middle Eastern tribes. But as glacial meltwater pushed sea levels upward -- first gradually from thinning ice sheets and then dramatically as Agassiz burst its banks around 6000 B.C. -- the Persian Gulf plain would have been quickly swamped with seawater.

When Agassiz's glacial dam gave way, about 160,000 cubic kilometres of freshwater poured into Hudson Bay in as little as six months. Teller says coastal peoples around the world could have experienced sudden and severe flooding as a ripple effect of Agassiz's dying outburst.

Nowhere, he adds, would those effects have been felt as profoundly as in the Persian Gulf.

As always, RTWT.

[Link via Touchstone's Mere Comments.]
"I have in my pocket a list of one million cicadas known to be working in the State Department."

Friends, don't delude yourselves--the Cicada Menace is real.

Arm yourselves with knowledge!

[Thanks to DPI for the link.]
An athlete who gets it.

Detroit Piston center Rasheed Wallace on pressure and pain:

Wallace played in two Game 7s with the Blazers — in the first round vs. Dallas last year and the Western Conference Finals vs. Lakers in 2000 — leading the team in scoring and, in the end, losing both.

But don’t think he’s putting any additional pressure on himself to get the team over that hump.

“Pressure?” he said, spitting the question back. “This isn’t pressure and this is not pain. Afghanistan, Iraq and that other place, Croatia and Bosnia — now, that is pressure.

“This ain’t nothing but a little hoops.”
Forschung Macht Frei.

SAM examines our brave new world of embryonic stem cell research and its enthusiastic apologists.

In much the same way a diving eagle "examines" a salmon struggling upstream.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Handy debate/fight starter topic.

Proposal: Any argument with a decent traditionalist that doesn't, from the outset, concede at least 90% of his complaints about the current state of the Church in America is fatally flawed.

Let the fur fly!
This could be handy.

Find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood.

"Cheapest" being a very relative term, of course.
If you want me to sign on to a "Fire Rumsfeld" petition...

[One bad word below, but it's warranted.]

This would convince me.

Yes, there's the puke-inducing horror at Abu Ghraib, which may reach to the top. One reason to take the linked expose seriously is that it was written by Seymour Hersh. That is also the same reason to be very skeptical about it. He runs about 50/50, which means I run hot and cold about it, too--yesterday convinced, today less so.

Ask me again tomorrow.

But the problem with armoring is infuriating, and I can verify it with familial witness testimony. Doug was saying the same thing about their Humvees in February--his unit was very upset with the fact that their vehicles are about as well-armored as the family Venture. Sure, you can improvise--the Guard unit was trying everything from bolting on spare metal plates to sandbags to draping spare body armor over the vulnerable spots.

Let me quote my dad: This is horseshit.

Heaven and earth should be moved to get these guys the protection they need. How many more roadside bombs have to kill people before someone at the Pentagon gets the concept that you must protect troops travelling by road?

And if it's not corrected within a month, someone with job security needs to be fired.

First, thank you for (1) your birthday greetings for my brother and (2) your kind thoughts on behalf of the impending one. Much appreciated on both counts. If you requested my address, I'll be sending it shortly.

As of last week's call, Doug was looking forward to the greetings, and indicated that the weather had cooled off to 96 during the day. He overheard one of his friends detonate when his wife complained that the weather in the Tacoma area had reached 80.

Second, I'm way behind on my e-mail, so if you sent some, bear with me. It'll be a while yet.

Third--yes, the last post on men in the church will be going up no later than Friday. It's been a work in (minor) progress, and needs some tuning.

Monday, May 17, 2004

There is a Plan B, right?

Apparently not.

Smiles, everyone--smiles! Welcome to Fantasy Island!

More inspiring leadership from my neck of the woods--next door in the Diocese of Lansing, to be precise.

The Diocese of Lansing won't withhold Communion from Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, Bishop Carl Mengeling said last week.

Instead, the diocese will leave the decision on receiving the Eucharist to individual Catholics.

You mean the same folks who, on average, can name maybe two sacraments (that is, those who survive the first cut and don't associate "sacrament" with "igneous" and "metamorphic")?

Er, permit me to play Sancho Panza/Jeeves/Tattoo for a moment: um, for a plan of action, this seems a little--well--incomplete, boss. The game plan looks like this from here:

Phase One: Collect underpants.
Phase Three: Profit.

Vatican Cardinal Frances Arinze, a Nigerian who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said recently that priests must deny Communion to politicians who favor abortion rights.

The remark could apply to presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry and Gov. Jennifer Granholm, both Roman Catholics who support abortion-rights laws.


"The National Weather Service has issued an Understatement Warning for Ingham County until approximately 5:00pm. As of 11:51 am, spotters reported an understatement the size of a guided missile cruiser hovering over the center of Lansing..."

However, the Vatican said U.S. bishops have discretion in deciding who should receive Communion. But Arinze's comments could put more pressure on them to sanction Catholic politicians whose positions are against church policy, experts say.

Absolutely correct--but it doesn't permit endless dithering and sending it back for committee review.

Mengeling said individual Catholics are obligated to determine if they are fit for Communion, not priests, bishops or cardinals.

"All Catholics, that includes myself, must examine themselves extremely carefully before they approach the Eucharist," Mengeling said. "Our Catholics are adults. We can't treat them like children."

Speaking of which.

Where to begin? OK, so you don't want that biblical spiritual father role--fine. Would hate to make the know-it-all teenagers feel infantilized, I suppose. Let's try the equally-biblical physician analogy instead. After all, people still like doctors--they write all those nice prescriptions.

Here goes: If my doctor sees me about to knock back, via bong, a gallon of wood-grain alcohol, I don't want him to gently suggest that I might want to consider obtaining and reading the material safety data sheet for the fluid at issue at some point in the future.

I want him to charge across the room to knock it out of my idiot hands.

And another thing--what's the point of examining yourself if the head of the diocese isn't willing to suggest any circumstances under which you should refuse to take communion?

Nice contribution to the catechetical black hole, that.

For almost two years, members of the Catholic anti-abortion group Church & Truth Project, based in Ply-mouth, have been protesting in front of St. John's Student Parish in East Lansing and St. Mary Cathedral downtown, demanding that priests not give Communion to Granholm.

Monica Migliorino Miller, director of the Church & Truth Project, said that although the group respects Mengeling, his stance on the issue is wrong.

"The bishops have a responsibility to teach the truth and protect the sacraments," Migliorino Miller said. "To be a bishop means you have to have some courage in this day and age."

Nice try, guys. Prepare to enjoy the cool, refreshing waters of the North Atlantic in springtime--even though the crew sees your flares and has told the Captain, The Californian is staying put.

Mengeling said denying Communion to Granholm and other politicians who support abortion rights would force the church to judge every Catholic, a task he said is up to God.

"We assume that (people) are in good standing with the law in terms of their own conscience," Mengeling said. "The Lord knows that. I don't."

Let's be direct here: while containing an obvious truth, this is deeply stupid.

Assuming the bishop hasn't been somehow misquoted, it doesn't get any worse than this. You can't judge hearts, true--but you can judge actions. Here, the action--full throated support for unrestricted abortion rights--is being ignored.

Permit me to demonstrate the evil of the Bishop's banality via examples of substitution:

1. Mengeling said denying Communion to Granholm and other politicians who support slavery would force the church to judge every Catholic, a task he said is up to God.

"We assume that (people) are in good standing with the law in terms of their own conscience," Mengeling said. "The Lord knows that. I don't."

2. Mengeling said denying Communion to Granholm and other politicians who support segregation would force the church to judge every Catholic, a task he said is up to God.

"We assume that (people) are in good standing with the law in terms of their own conscience," Mengeling said. "The Lord knows that. I don't."

3. Mengeling said denying Communion to Granholm and other politicians who support the right of husbands to physically chastise their wives would force the church to judge every Catholic, a task he said is up to God.

"We assume that (people) are in good standing with the law in terms of their own conscience," Mengeling said. "The Lord knows that. I don't."

4. Mengeling said denying Communion to Granholm and other politicians who support abolition of bestiality laws would force the church to judge every Catholic, a task he said is up to God.

"We assume that (people) are in good standing with the law in terms of their own conscience," Mengeling said. "The Lord knows that. I don't."

Is the point clear yet?

While I'm at it, I have a proposal for secular Poperyphobes: if the bishops go silent on abortion, you agree to shut up about the alleged silence of Pius XII.


Think about it.

Liz Boyd, Granholm's spokeswoman, said the governor, who regularly attends St. John's, has taken an oath to uphold the laws of the state and that she represents all citizens - not just Catholics.

Since the majority of people opposed to abortion in this country are not Catholic, this is relevant how?

"Gov. Granholm is a person of faith, and her faith is very important to her,"

From 10am to 11am on Sundays and for a similar length of time on one of the fast-dwindling number of non-transferred HDOs.

Boyd said. "Should the church decide to impose spiritual penalties for political votes of which they disapprove, it may be difficult for any Catholic to serve in public office."

Thought Experiment Number Three:

Let's use the example of an organization that these pols would generally respect.
Say, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, f/k/a Handgun Control, Inc. Let us also assume that you are a long-standing, dues-paying member of the Center and its predecessor organizations. Let us further stipulate that you become a very visible figure in the Center--a public face of the organization. You decide, out of deference to those who own firearms ("all the people!"), that, while you are opposed to Saturday Night Specials, "assault weapons" and the carrying of concealed weapons, you do not believe that any of the above should be outlawed.

How long do you think it it would take for the folks at the Brady Center would toss you out on your ample tuchus?

Let me put it this way--the pizza would arrive after you and your personal effects hit the curb.

Would the Brady Center be wrong to boot you out?

Mengeling is one of few bishops who has spoken publicly about the issue since Arinze made his comments.

Oh, and what a contribution it was, too.

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., said they would not give Communion to Kerry because of his views, which support abortion rights.

"Support"? The Understatement Warning has been extended until 9:00 pm.

Lord have mercy--if the senator were any more enthusiastic, he'd be making goo-goo eyes at Joe Tiller.

To determine what steps to take against Catholic politicians who back positions that don't agree with church doctrine, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops appointed a seven-member committee last year.

Expect the recommendation to refer the matter to an even larger committee in 2007. Unless, of course, that happens to be an election year or a year preceding one.

"You've got different opinions," said Father Thomas Reese, editor in chief of America, The National Catholic Weekly Magazine.

"Some bishops are saying this is not a good political strategy. In fact, it could backfire. For one, it would turn abortion into a Catholic issue when it's a human issue."

Not bad for a guy who edits America.

And who is responsible for trying to turn it into a Catholic issue?

Why, just the bishops of course....

Rep. Julie Dennis, D-Muskegon, said Catholic politicians represent citizens from diverse religious beliefs and backgrounds and they are being unfairly targeted.

"I will not legislate Catholic doctrine because the Vatican thinks I ought to," said Dennis, a Catholic who also supports abortion rights.

"I think it's really unfortunate they are using folks to do this kind of activity."

Thank God for term limits. Again, dimwit, it's not "Catholic doctrine"--there are atheists opposed to abortion, you ninny. No one's "using" you, Ms. Dennis.

They are simply asking you to consider the...incongruity...of professing to be Catholic but supporting the dispatch of human life in the womb for any reason.

That shouldn't be so hard to understand. But thanks to the obfuscation of Bishop Mengeling, it won't be any easier.
Michelle has left the building.

She will be missed.

Check comments for the reason why she just up and deleted her blog. I have to admit I admire the reasoning.

Lord knows I would have been one of the ones asking her to keep it online.

Friday, May 14, 2004

What do you have against Mr. Knievel?

Seen Wednesday on the outdoor sign for the United Methodist Church in Shepherd, Michigan:

"Overcome Evel With Good."

OK, so this is a day late.

The Announcement, that is.

The news is simply this: Our products of conception, our non-nuclear-transfer-derived blastocyst, our glob of cells, our fetus....

[Oh, wait...That's right: My wife's choice (and mine, but that means bupkis) is to have the little Rockette-in-training. That makes it a "baby."

Sorry for the confusion!
] a girl.

Her name is Rachel Hannah (and yes, there's quite a story behind it, but that will have to wait for another time). She will be making her formal outside world debut on or about September 27.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Very busy week ahead.

Blogging may be absent entirely.

That's the way it goes.

Though I am almost certain to have an announcement on Thursday.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

The Onion's Up.

Lone Wolf Ashcroft Given Rookie Partner [Language Alert].

And just because I think Heineken is the most overrated brew on the planet: Hungover Heineken Promoter Can't Remember What He Said About Heineken Last Night.

And finally (squib story, no link):

Mass Grave Blasted For Lack Of Diversity

SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA—Members of the International Coalition for Equality criticized a newly unearthed mass grave Monday, saying it lacked religious and racial diversity. "The funereal pit is brimming with Croats, nearly 300 of them, without a single representative Serb," ICE spokesman Jacques Marchand said. "Exclusionary burial practices like this send a negative message to the world. Corpses of all races and creeds should be tossed together to decay in harmony." Marchand acknowledged that the grave did, at least, have a sprinkling of women and children.

The sad thing is--I can almost picture someone saying this.
Yes, I'm a Lileks acolyte.

The Master gets Donald Rumsfeld in one:

He also handles the press well, which irritates the inner party of the Beltway media but amuses the red states. And he grins. He has that flinty-dad vibe. He’s the guy flipping burgers at the grill who overhears something you say and makes an interesting remark that might be a compliment, and might be an insult – might be both. That grin doesn’t tell you much. It’s the sort of persona that would make you gulp hard if you were picking up his daughter for a date, but if you passed the test you’d feel as though you’d earned some rare respect.

"Flinty-dad vibe."

One day, if I work really hard, after a long period measurable in years....

....I still won't be able to write like James Lileks.
Lileks Diagnoses the Pathology of Ted Rall.


I have no idea if Mr. Rall is personally happy, although the one time I met him he didn’t strike me as a jolly old soul. But it has to be hard to be happy when one carries around so much bile and rage. It’s tiring. Anger wears you down, especially when your anger doesn’t seem to accomplish anything. Ted Rall’s cartoons could have run in every paper every day since 9/11 and there will still be kids who saw Tillman’s choice as a remarkable act. (Tillman’s Choice: there’s a phrase that sums up quite a lot, doesn’t it?) People like Rall are sitting on the curb, feet in the gutter, watching the parade go past, smirking at the guy with the baton, sneering at the cheerleaders. Everyone else watching the parade thinks I wonder if there will be elephants! And when they do appear, he rolls his eyes. Elephants. How obvious.

You want to live like that? I don’t want to live like that.
The Person Beneath the Label.

Conservative activist and Melkite Deacon Paul Weyrich offers a useful reminder of the mostly-forgotten fact that the people on the opposite side of the barricades remain human beings. He does so via a touching remembrance of liberal opinion columnist Mary McGrory, who just died this week at age 85.

The one day I called Ms. McGrory. I told her that while we disagreed on nearly everything, I thought she was correct in her views on Northern Ireland. She advocated that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland be re-united, a view I have long held.

"Well, bless you sweetheart," she said. We had a fairly lengthy conversation on the subject. I had visited Northern Ireland in 1982 and gave her my observations. She said, "This is so unexpected. I didn't think anyone on your side of the aisle held such views." I admitted that mine was a minority view on the right. I told her of others such as Connie and Bill Marshner who were likeminded and passionate in their views on the subject.

Thereafter, whenever Ms. McGrory referred to yours truly, it was never again with pejorative terms. Moreover, she called me many times to get background information on people and events on the right and was never as sharp-edged in her writing when addressing those subjects. Not that she ever lost her liberalism. It simply proves that, as is with the rest of us, she had a human side. When she learned that I agreed with her on an issue about which she cared deeply, she found it difficult to be as sharp edged as she had been in the past.

INDEED, I TELL MY fellow conservatives that in dealing with the media to always remember that they are real people. Of course, most of them are liberals. But they are also husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and they have varied interests.


Catholic politicians, redux.

Up front--I don't know what the proper response to straying Catholic politicians is. Though, at a minimum, it has to involve an effort to personally correct them, starting in private. Denial of communion is a trickier issue, fraught with more perils than those of us who support the idea in principle (including me) are willing to admit. Especially when you have priests at places like the Paulist Center who will give the host to literally anyone who asks.

But let's not pretend that there isn't a severe precedent from the recent past, involving desegregation in the South. Indeed, this ground was covered a little over forty years ago, when the Archbishop of New Orleans excommunicated (not denied communion--the whole shebang) three segregationists.

I somehow doubt the Anna Quindlens, Eileen McNamaras, Andrew Greeleys, etc. would refer to Archbishop Rummel as some kind of ecclesial tyrant for his actions. So what is the distinction, then?
"Nail gun mishap."

So read the initial title of the AP story.

I suppose that's one way of putting it.

Let's imagine for a moment that I claim it should be legal to toss puppies into a wood-chipper. But in the same breath I also deny that I support puppy shredding--in fact, my back gets up at the very suggestion that I am pro-pulping.

"No, sir--I am merely pro-choice on Rover-rendering--and I resent any implication otherwise."

Would my disclaimer, however passionately stated, be at its core--true?

At a bare minimum, it would be schizoid--I am willing to support the continued availability of a practice I claim to find abhorrent. Indeed, the very effort to distance myself from it would indicate at least discomfort with the practice of Fido-fileting. Perhaps more on the level of finding brussels sprouts repugnant, but...

Ultimately, though, my disclaimer would be incorrect at this level--in supporting the right to engage in this practice, I am saying that the practice is, in some real sense, better than its prohibition.

Making my huffiness a semantic attempt to mask a distinction without a difference.

Or am I missing something here (see comments)?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

My Chattel.

Here's one for the baby's photo album.

You realize, Ms. Slogan is probably feeling her baby move.

Inexplicably, that doesn't matter.

I do not understand, and I do not want to understand.

In 40-50 years, the adult offspring will be making the woman's medical decisions for her.

Perhaps cooing "my choice" as he or she signs off on not having dear ol' mom treated for her expensive, estate-draining medical condition.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Happy Birthday, Doug!

My little brother turns 32 today.

He's celebrating it near the front lines (so to speak), but what can you do?

Post your regards below, and I'll mail them to him in my next letter.

Looks like I'll be prepaying for the prom now.

Apparently, Heather was watching Oprah yesterday, and it was a promotion piece for the Brad Pitt epic, Troy. This is probably garbled--especially Heather's dialogue--but everyone's napping right this minute, so I'll have to confirm/change the details later.

A still-bearded Eric Bana (he of Blackhawk Down and The Hulk) came on near the end, and Maddie asked:

"Who's he, Mama?"

Reply: "He's Eric Bana. He's an actor and a handsome man."

Maddie: "Handsome like my daddy?"


I'll be continuing the victory dance for the next few weeks, if you don't mind.
Guest Blogger Alert!

Because of blogger trouble (quelle suprise!), we haven't been able to post squat at the joint blog, which will be officially closed as of this weekend, and replaced with something that might work on occasion.


My nearest and dearest had a couple of thoughts germinating for which she seeks feedback. Without further ado, here they are:

I still haven't read the Da Vinci Code book, but I've given the plot some thought.

I've got some questions for anyone that thinks it could really be true. In no particular order:
1. When did Jesus and Magdalene get married? Before or after he began his ministry? If after, why isn't it covered in the Gospels? If before, how could she have been the woman he cured of the seven demons? Or the adulteress he saved from stoning?

2. Let's assume that they met during his three year ministry. If they met on his way back from the desert where he went after his baptism, realistically, how many kids could they have had? There would have to be a period of courtship--say just for the sake of argument six months. 30 months to go, give or take, before crucifixion.
Say she got pregnant on their hypothetical wedding night. Nine months down, 21 to go. She would have nursed the child, which I for one can vouch delays the return of fertility. The earliest I've heard of fertility returning in a nursing mom is four months (honest--all three times for her). And they sure wouldn't have been able to afford a wet nurse with him preaching instead of woodworking, not that they would have been rich anyway.
So, just to give the silliness some air of credibility, say she got pregnant again at four months postpartum. Four postpartum and nine pregnancy, thirteen. Thirteen from 21 is... eight.
Repeat procedure, the most they could have had is three kids, and probably not that many.
I'm still not won over.

3. If, after the crucifixion, Magdalene was running around as a Peter, uh, without the, um, peter: where were these children? Did she take them with her? Were they with their grandmother? John certainly would have had something to say about that, and since he lived longer than the other apostles and had her with him, he probably would have mentioned it somewhere along the way. He would have had the opportunity to amend anything removed by Peter, that's for sure.

Those are my thoughts on the silliness of the idea. I think the whole book cheapens motherhood in a subtle and sly way, besides. It's like our society: lots of lip service to motherhood, but when it comes down for it very little actual support. "'Working Mother' Is Redundant" bumper stickers, but no recognition in ways that matter.
Brown's proponents say, "Magdalene's real job was as head of the church. She was the one Jesus wanted in charge, not Peter. Jesus wanted the 'sacred feminine'. Oh yeah, and by the way, she was the mother of Jesus' child(ren)." Like it was a side job for her. Talk about adding insult to injury...

What they don't consider is the Church already has a wonderful, beautiful, marvelous example of the sacred feminine: Mother Mary. Women have proven over and over again that we can do anything men can do, both good and bad. We can be lawyers, doctors, architects, teachers...just like the men. But--we can be murderers, thieves, liars, and sociopaths...just like the men.

What makes women special? What is the sacred thing women can do that men cannot? It's not preaching, writing, or ministry. It is to create another human being within our body. And even that, God wisely decided, would require a man's help to start.
Handy First Amendment Primer.

For Slate and the UMass Daily Collegian, and other brave paladins brandishing (parts of) the Bill of Rights:

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects your right to publish Ted Rall and Rene Gonzalez.

It does not compel your publication of their "work."

That is all.
Another boy threatened by an example of a real man weighs in.

Ted Rall, naturally. You know, the guy who also mocked the 9/11 widows.

Actually, here's the prosecution brief proving his eternal crapitude. For my money, making fun of Marianne Pearl after her husband's throat was slashed on video puts you in the realm of Nazi cartooning. I think he'd have been quite welcome as the house hack at Volkishe Beobachter--and comfortable, too, if the money was right.

Imagine a far less (!) talented Garry Trudeau crossed with Noam Chomsky, and you've pretty well nailed it.

I can't think of a more appalling sack of offal working in major media.

That's saying something, when you think about it.
How 'bout them Pistons?

End of an era, indeed.

Age catches us up with us all, and it finally did with the Wings, where it counted this series--the scoring forwards. Hull, Shanahan, Lang--to name but three--couldn't bury the chances when they counted. Yes, injuries played a role, but they always do this time of year. Kiprusoff was good, but hardly great--he saw virtually every shot.

Hard to blame Joseph, who was spectacular in spots. But here's the book on CuJo--he has a distressing tendency to make one less crucial save than the opposition in the playoffs. But he really isn't at fault in this one--the team that pumped in the pucks in the regular season wasn't able to buy a single one over the last two games.

That, frankly, is inexcusable. As a result, we've probably seen the last of Hull and Shanahan in the Winged Wheel.

Then there's the defense corps. First, every Wings fan who ever called Larry Murphy "the Human Pylon" needs to issue a retraction--that title now rightfully belongs to Derian Hatcher. Good Lord, the most memorable thing the man did was throw an elbow in last night's game six. Yes, he was still coming back from an injury, but see above.

Nik Lidstrom, white courtesy phone. Mr. Niklas Lidstrom, you have a call at the white courtesy phone. Mr. Lidstrom....?

If Jiri Fischer is the great hope for the future on the blue line, it's time to succumb to despair. Ironically, for all the problems with age, the best guy on the ice for the Wings for long stretches was 42 year old Chris Chelios. Schneider wasn't bad either.

He's a nice guy, great in the regular season, and his coaching skills were hampered by injuries during the playoffs, but here's the bottom line on Dave Lewis: a playoff record of 6-10, with another too-early exit. A re-do of the Bryan Murray era isn't what we had in mind.

Now, with the labor shortage, I can pop in the DVDs and watch ESPN Classic if I hope to see any good Wings hockey for the next year or so.

Meanwhile, Gary Bettman is about to go on suicide watch--the prospect of a Calgary-Tampa Bay Cup final looms closer....

Saturday, May 01, 2004

"Disco pants and haircuts..."

"This place has got everything."

Somerset is the Detroit ultramall, containing the usual upscale useless shops like Sharper Image and so forth. According to local TV, everyone involved is fine.
Re: The Detonation Below.

Yes, it was saltier than I try to be, and for that I apologize. I assure you it will be rare.

Not nonexistent, but rare.

There have been reports that Mr. Gonzalez has apologized. If this is his "apology," it's definitely in the "sorry I got caught" category, and his attempted desecration of Tillman is part of a pattern.

[Update: Upon further review, you're adults. As Michelle properly notes, I did post a warning at the beginning.

It'll still be rare, but I'll just be less apologetic about it.

The GOP Garbage Squad.

Nine awful human beings whose views are unworthy of the slightest respect. Especially after caterwauling about spending money on Ukraine, no...