Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Our Man in Gehenna.

Garry Wills weighs in on abortion.

Fletch voice: "Thank God--the police."

No, no fisk. Ugh. When I want disingenuity staining the blog, I'll hit my own publish button, thank you very much.

But I do have a quick theological query for the Garry/Kerry wing:

Under what circumstances would it not have been acceptable to abort Jesus Christ?

Monday, June 28, 2004

Where's the fire?

Sorry I asked.

It's not all plaudits and roses.

Or, not everybody's going to like what you write.

My recent dissection of the sermon of Dominican Fr. Timothy O'Donnell was not well-received by Mark at Minute Particulars.

The initial, suppressed knee-jerk response was "You know, the blog title is Dyspeptic, not Harmonious Mutterings." I'm not exactly Gerard Serafin. Or Steven Riddle. Or Mary Herboth (she doesn't get enough credit, so make sure to visit her).

But that would be neither fair nor an appropriate response to a careful and decent writer like Mark. The heart of his critique is a fair one, and deserves more than a quip. Here's the heart of his objection:

Something seems amiss in Dale's treatment. What's the point of such derision? We're not talking about some neophyte preacher who mumbled some nonsense. This is a former Master of the Dominican Order, a careful and deep thinker, and a holy man. That, of course, doesn't mean his homilies can't be critiqued. Of course not. But criticism with such extreme condescension? Criticism with such a mocking tone? What's the point?

To start my response, I'm not getting into a chip toss about someone's holiness--I know next to nothing about Fr. Radcliffe, so I'll take your word on it. I have a second-hand recollection of him being involved in the rejection of Fr. Augustine DiNoia for a role in the Dominican Order in the U.S., but holiness and political infighting can go hand in hand, especially where the orders are concerned. He's a serious and holy man--OK. Good. We can certainly use more.

But, and more to the point, personal holiness is no proof against awful judgment. The purported homily of Fr. Radcliffe was, at a bare minimum, a spectacular example of awful judgment in action.

Why (and coming to the point)? Remember the context of the sermon. It centers on the communion debate building in the Church. That debate itself is based on several fundamental issues which are tearing at the social and religious fabric of the country and even the Church, involving core redefinitions of the family (marriage) and even humanity itself (abortion and embryonic stem cell research).

The problem? First: On every single issue, Catholics are vociferous, unrepentant and unyielding champions for the wrong side. Fr. Radcliffe's response? "That doesn't matter."

Oh, yes, I know--he has the obligatory disclaimer in favor of church teaching: "There is no question of the Church going back on its opposition to abortion." So what? The rest of the sermon effectively soft-pedals that into irrelevance. There are no consequences for trashing the teaching of the Church. Indeed, reading the homily, it's hard to see why anyone would kick up a fuss over such a trifle as abortion. What really counts is being welcoming. A few examples should suffice to show why I view it as a veritable stew of conscience-deadening:

* so called bad Catholics;

* I do not have to...establish that I am an upright friar with the correct views. I just belong;

* We each cherish some aspect of the gospel. But none of us has the right to claim that his or her memory is the only one and threaten people who cherish another. We need each other’s memories if we are to get a small glimpse of the whole truth;

* And, the money lines: So we should all feel at home in the Church, even though, like these apostles, we may not feel that we are ‘good Catholics’. We may have doubts and uncertainties; we may disagree with the Church on some issues; we may be angry with the Church about other things. We may be living in what are called ‘irregular situations’, although they are more and more regular. But Jesus still invites us to be at home here.

There's not even a peep of a challenge to the errant. Indeed, from the homily, there's not even an indication that it's possible to be in error. A fair reading of the sermon would indicate that even if one could be in the wrong on such things, it's not a big problem.

Hearing this, a John Kerry or Gavin Newsom wannabe can safely put it on autopilot--get the wafer on Sunday, return to sledgehammering Catholicism and the bedrock of human civilization on Monday. We wouldn't want them to feel uncherished or get the feeling that they might be gravely wrong or anything. It's just abortion. It's just the demolition of a millenia-old view of the family and its purpose. It's just the Mengelesque dismemberment of the most defenseless among us for spare parts. No big whoop.

In fairness to him, perhaps Fr. Radcliffe brought the brimstone to the next homily. But there's not a whiff of it here, where it matters. Which, given the subject and the stakes, qualifies as a truly grim error in judgment. And the retraction always gets less attention than the original article.

The second problem? We are losing on every front. Period. And a large part of the reason we are losing is because Catholics believe they can--indeed, must--jettison the inconvenient parts of their faith on the way out the Church door on Sunday.

Sadly, Fr. Radcliffe's sermon does a fine job of offering aid and comfort to that devastating worldview.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The Road Goes Ever Hahn and Hahn.

The second most interesting essay in the June 2004 issue of the New Oxford Review is by a fellow named Edward O'Neill, entitled "Scott Hahn's Novelties." In fact, it picks up right after mine, conveniently enough.

It's caused quite a stir over at Mark Shea's--check the comment boxes here and here. I'd like to dissent from the majority view that it's some kind of hit piece. I'd also like to question, as I did under a pseudonym(1), whether the majority of the critics had read the piece in its entirety. Many appear to be conflating the essay with the more deliberately inflammatory piece by NOR editor Dale Vree from 2002, found in the September 2002 NOR Notes (the third header down). For those of you unfamiliar with the NOR Notes, it is pretty well the artillery park of the magazine--more or less a continuous stream of hot lead fired at all comers, to continue the analogy. It remains one of my favorite parts of the magazine, even when I question the aim. The 2002 Note about Hahn is pretty blistering stuff, and drew equally heated responses.

But the O'Neill article isn't an incendiary assault. Instead, O'Neill sets forth a series of examples of problematic aspects of Dr. Hahn's work. It is detailed, pointed, but also charitable to Dr. Hahn and his positions. It is hardly flawless--the accusations of fundamentalism are a little weak--but, assuming he has fairly depicted Dr. Hahn's views, he raises issues that have to be addressed, given the Professor's prominence.

Let's face it--for a lot of the faithful, fed the watery gruel of progressive mainline Protestantism masquerading as Catholic teaching, Dr. Hahn is a--or the--major reason they converted, reverted or stayed Catholic in the first place. I myself consider him a strongly favorable influence on my own conversion, and use his material in our parish bible study. O'Neill gratefully acknowledges the good Hahn has done, at the outset and the end, as well as periodically in the body of the essay. But it is precisely because of that prominence that his work needs to be analyzed, and where appropriate, criticized in a spirit of Christian fellowship. The O'Neill piece does this, and for the most part, does it well.

We don't let the Hellwigs, McBriens and Chittisters get a free pass on their theological freelancing, and our criticism will ring especially hollow if we let our own do the same thing.

(1) I almost never use one, but strangely it helps keep me from returning fire in kind in internet flame wars, so what the hey. The weird thing is that I usually sound more reasonable than when I post under my own name. Odd...

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Horror downtown.

Last night's Detroit Freedom Festival fireworks were marred by a tragic multiple shooting.

Nine wounded, two critically.

The most irritating thing--the outspoken worry about the City's reputation. Worry about arresting the shooter, or more so about the two in critical condition. Work in the reputation musings in a couple of days.

Given the relative lack of problems at recent large Detroit gatherings (the suburbanite beatdown at last year's Fireworks being a partial, but not serious, exception), going into defensive mode from the outset sounds whiny and misplaced. If not flat-out ridiculous:

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said during a news conference Thursday morning that most of the tens of thousands of spectators were not aware the shootings had taken place.

"Ninety-nine percent of those people went home and had a really great family time," Kilpatrick said. "There was no pandemonium, nobody was running around madly."

The mayor said that, apart from the actions of "one idiot," the city provided visitors with "an absolutely fantastic experience" and "customer service at its best."

"So, other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"

But mostly because it's whiny and misplaced. Kilpatrick is a sharp guy, with a lot of good ideas and follow through, but one of the things he and the rest of the City are going to have to jettison--eventually--is the enormous chip on the shoulder.

What makes the chip worse here is that it's hard to see what any government authority can do to prevent a hot-tempered psychotic from emptying a 9 mm into a crowd on the slightest provocation. Most people--at least the non-reflexive bigots (a/k/a those who count) understand this. So stop dwelling on how bad it makes you look.
Whenever I approach despair about the state of Catholicism in this country....

I take another look at the Anglicans, and I find myself cheering up. Exhibit L: Consider their new bible translation, As Good As New. Note how quickly it becomes dated--right when you reach the sixth word on the cover: "radical." There's nothing quite so likely to be reeking of the stale, desperate and cloying odor of irrelevance than a religious body that offers something up as "radical."

It never fails.

For more "highlights," go here and here.

From the Jesus Never Said Anything About Consensual Dwarf Tossing, Either File.

The Anglican Church of Canada prepares to spread the Gospel According to John (Thomas) a little further:

[T]here is also a report before the Synod that recommends changing the rules on consaguinuity (who can and cannot marry based on degree of relationship).

The change would mean that men could marry their niece, aunt, stepmother, stepdaughter, daughter-in-law, grandfather's wife, wife's grandmother, wife's granddaughter, or grandson's wife. Women could marry their nephew, uncle, stepfather, stepson, son-in-law, grandmother's husband, husband's grandfather, husband's grandson, or granddaughter's husband.

Those of you old enough to remember the Beastie Boys' first tour may recall that one of their stage props was a two-story inflatable penis that was, er.....deployed in all its turgidity during the show. Might I offer a suggestion for a new symbol for North American Anglicanism...?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

"The difference between extra-marital sex and extra marital sex is not to be sneezed at."

Indeed. This is just one of many bon mots offered by George Will on the subject of punctuation in today's column.


[Again, courtesy of Greg K.]
Christopher Hitchens really, really, really despises Michael Moore.

Fortunately, the reading public can only profit from the most one-sided battle of wits in recorded history. Yeouch--and some people think I'm mean. Some snippets:

With Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, however, an entirely new note has been struck. Here we glimpse a possible fusion between the turgid routines of and the filmic standards, if not exactly the filmic skills, of Sergei Eisenstein or Leni Riefenstahl.

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.

* * *

Thus, in spite of the film's loaded bias against the work of the mind, you can grasp even while watching it that Michael Moore has just said, in so many words, the one thing that no reflective or informed person can possibly believe: that Saddam Hussein was no problem.

* * *

I have already said that Moore's film has the staunch courage to mock Bush for his verbal infelicity. Yet it's much, much braver than that. From Fahrenheit 9/11 you can glean even more astounding and hidden disclosures, such as the capitalist nature of American society, the existence of Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex," and the use of "spin" in the presentation of our politicians. It's high time someone had the nerve to point this out. There's more. Poor people often volunteer to join the army, and some of them are duskier than others. Betcha didn't know that.

* * *

Yet Moore is a silly and shady man who does not recognize courage of any sort even when he sees it because he cannot summon it in himself. To him, easy applause, in front of credulous audiences, is everything.

Moore has announced that he won't even appear on TV shows where he might face hostile questioning. I notice from the New York Times of June 20 that he has pompously established a rapid response team, and a fact-checking staff, and some tough lawyers, to bulwark himself against attack. He'll sue, Moore says, if anyone insults him or his pet.

* * *

If Michael Moore had had his way, Slobodan Milosevic would still be the big man in a starved and tyrannical Serbia. Bosnia and Kosovo would have been cleansed and annexed. If Michael Moore had been listened to, Afghanistan would still be under Taliban rule, and Kuwait would have remained part of Iraq. And Iraq itself would still be the personal property of a psychopathic crime family, bargaining covertly with the slave state of North Korea for WMD. You might hope that a retrospective awareness of this kind would induce a little modesty. To the contrary, it is employed to pump air into one of the great sagging blimps of our sorry, mediocre, celeb-rotten culture. Rock the vote, indeed.


[Thanks to Greg Krehbiel for the link.]

Monday, June 21, 2004

No bids?


Letters to the Editor of The Tidings, June 28, 2004.

Dear Sir: Despite the Cardinal's recent statement that no one would be refused Communion in the Archdiocese, I would appreciate some guidance on the following:

On Sunday, June 27, a man presented himself for the Eucharist at our parish. In his right hand, he held a severed head. In his left, a blood-caked machete. He received Communion from Fr. Hailfellow. Was this correct?

Editor: Your situation is indeed a delicate and, sadly, recurring one. According to the Diocesan Liturgy Office, he was indeed entitled to receive, but he should be carefully catechized so that the next time he receives in the hand as a sign of unity with the rest of the gathered community.

Friday, June 18, 2004

From the Common Sense Ain't Department.

With Father's Day looming, Maggie Gallagher again explains what should be obvious--families need involved dads, and are happier when he is there, doing his job.

The best dads? Evangelical Protestants:

Policy analysts will and should weigh proposals about how to boost the earning power of poor husbands and fathers. But in his new book, "Soft Patriarchs, New Men" (University of Chicago Press), Brad Wilcox, a rising star in the sociology of religion, lays out a different part of the answer. Religion makes men better husbands and fathers.

He finds that "churchgoing family men -- especially conservative Protestant family men -- are more progressive than their peers: They spend more time with their children; they are more likely to hug and praise their children; their wives report higher levels of satisfaction with the appreciation, affection and understanding they receive from their husbands, and they spend more time socializing with their wives." They also have the lowest rates of domestic violence toward their wives than any other group.

Why? One reason is that, in its fight with modernity, conservative Protestantism has invested the roles of husband and father with unusual moral and religious importance: Men are supposed to model for their children the love of God, for their wives, the love of Jesus Christ. Men who recognize a critical "masculine" role in family life are probably freer to enter into stereotypically "feminine" realms, such as emotionally expressive family life. If you want to turn men into good family men, you have to tell them that men matter to women and children.

Make a note: it comes as a result of following the biblical model and fighting "modernity"--not conversing with it, embracing it or flat-out capitulating to it. I think I have a suggestion for a book to pass out at the Pre-Cana classes.

More on the Saginaw Statue Battle.

From the Latino magazine Mi Gente. The Diocese somehow comes off even worse in this account.

Courtesy of Mark Sullivan, St. Blog's own links raconteur, who also provides the URL for the Casio-scored Cathedral website for the Diocese of Saginaw.

Though I'm much, much less thankful for the latter...
Shoe #24576 is About to Drop.

Starting Saturday or Sunday, the Dallas Morning News has a lengthy expose of the international shuffling of pervert priests by diocese and (especially) the religious orders, both to and from the United States.

This shouldn't be too shocking, given the orders' resistance to, and even mockery of, a modest mandatory anti-abuse policy. Remember, Canice Connors, the elected head of the association for men's religious orders in the U.S. laughed off the claims of victims in 2002.

Odd that the spiritual laetrile of communitarianism isn't effective against the cancer.

But remember--the important thing is that All Are Welcome As Family. Make sure to hold hands at the Our Father with Mr. Shanley and Ms. Kissling.

[Cue whistled theme as the community strolls past the graveyard.]

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Goin' back to Cali/Cali/Cali...

Goin' back to Cali/

...I don't think so.

Game 5 was, following the first quarter, an annihilation. The final score said Pistons by 14, but it was nowhere near that close, with the celebration beginning with about six minutes left in the game. It was a clinic, with the swarming Pistons shooting the lights out and grabbing rebounds in a way that suggested the Lakers were all multiple amputees.

Much interesting commentary, from sources as diverse as Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons (bookmark this guy) at ESPN and Jonathan Chait at The New Republic.

Here's (sorry, no permalinks) a funny snapshot from the winning lockerroom:

Only in Detroit would you find Kid Rock spraying champagne on Ben Wallace while Rasheed Wallace hollered out quotes from a Will Ferrell film.

Such was the scene deep in the Palace shortly after the Pistons' Game 5, Finals-clinching victory, as the jubilation that was seen on the floor shortly after Detroit's runaway win carried over to the home team's locker room. Highlights of the postgame celebration included:

- Rasheed repeatedly yelling, "You're my boy, Blue!" a quote from the movie "Old School."

- Kid Rock answering "Oh, that was too easy" when asked what he thought of the Palace staff cutting between clips of Kid (met with wild applause) and Jack Nicholson (hearty boos) on the arena Jumbotron.

- Hank Williams Jr. calling the series "total domination."

- Elden Campbell trying to usher the media out the door, so the team could "start the party."

- Numerous players singing J-Kwon's hit "Tipsy."

- Lindsey Hunter asking the media, "Who else do we need to beat?"

- Rasheed answering "When the clock read zero" when asked when he knew he had won a title.

For good measure, here's more Simmons commentary on the Finals.

Finally, some quick hits of my own:

--Carmelo who?

--Hey, Jimmy Kimmel: pucker up, buttercup. Some other reference dates before uncorking the hoary "burn the town down" cliches: 1989, 1990, 1997, 1998, 2002, and now, 2004. Let's see: that makes six straight loud, but peaceful, world championship celebrations for the city. Do us a favor and get some new material.

--I'm not exactly a sports prophet. Yes, the analysis was pretty decent--but I didn't think it would happen. That makes me and about 260 million other people before the tipoff of game one, so at least I'm in good company.

--You don't want Slava Medvedenko on that wall, you don't need Slava Medvedenko on that wall...

--Best commentary by a sports fan: a caller to WDFN compared the Lakers to the seagulls in Finding Nemo: "Mine!mine!mine!mine!"

Here in these parts, we're just going to try to enjoy it--for my part, I have to go out and get one of those "Got 'Sheed?" shirts ASAP.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Need printing work done? Jeff Culbreath's your man!

Check the details here--sling some business, if you can.

Yes, he does business cards.
Three down, one to go.

Championship fever ravages Detroit.

Finally, the national coverage is starting to show a little respect for the men in red, white and blue. Even Tom "Help--I've Been Assaulted by Don Cherry's Couch!" Tolbert said the Pistons were the better team last night.

By the way, Jim Rome is a prophet (from Friday's show):

[Y]ou know where their backs to the wall, and coming off such a bad game, Bryant is going to take matters into his own hands and try to win game 4 all by himself, you know he’s going to jack it up 40 times. Shaq: Already furious that he’s not getting the ball, is going to snap, I’d look for him to quit, and walk off the floor sometime in the middle of the second quarter Sunday…seriously, I ‘d love to be there today when Philip tells his team, you know when he addressed the entire team, but everyone knows he’s talking about Kobe, when he tells them they have to do a better job of moving the ball and getting to Shaq, Bryant will be like, uh huh, uh huh, you’re right, and then go out and dribble down the clock every time, solo for about 20 seconds and then jack 40 off balance 20 footers. Good luck with that.

One more, one more, one more....

Friday, June 11, 2004

Scenes from Year Four of the Fifth Five Year Plan in Saginaw.

The Revolution marches on. To paraphrase disgraced journalist Walter Duranty: "I have seen the future--and it sucks."

[Editorial Note: The Story date is 6/10/04, so consider yourself warned--Saginaw News links die in two weeks.]

This is liturgical revolution, not "reform." As in no compromises, erase the past, screw you and your families Bolshevism.

You see, the benighted Latino layfolk have a false, pre-Conciliar consciousness which must be expunged as surely as the Romanovs were outside the little cottage in Ekaterinberg.

"The Diocese of Saginaw: Embarrassed by Tradition Since 1980."

The good news? The laity are fighting back very, very hard.

The set-up: A Hispanic parish got the Progressive Cookie Cutter Church of the Future (Circa 1980), but got the rote promise that it could keep, in the new nave, the statue of La Guadulapana purchased by their forebears at great time and expense:

For St. Joseph's, the story of La Virgen begins in the early 20th century, when Mexican migrant workers settled in Saginaw, hiring on at the former Grey Iron Plant when it was hungry for hands.

In 1919, they began worshipping at St. Joseph's when its Irish congregants individually owned church pews -- even the empty ones, said Larry J. Rodarte, publisher of Mi Gente magazine, who said he has extensively researched the church's history.

The Mexicans would stand in back without an image of Guadalupe, the symbol of Juan Diego's vision and key link to intercession with God.

Then, in 1927, Mexican matrons organized into the Damas de Guadalupe. The "Ladies of The Lady" convinced Irish leaders to place a fringed banner of Guadalupe in the sanctuary.

Then came the tamale fund-raiser. The Damas cooked and sold tamales by the hundreds until they could buy a made-in-Mexico statue of "The Patron Saint of The Americas."

Beginning four decades of tradition at the church, today made up of 85 percent Hispanics, a life-size Guadalupe statue arrived in the nave in 1961.

The church leadership made the promise with their fingers crossed behind their backs. You see, you are authorized to lie when you're engaged in post-V2 consciousness-raising.

Here goes:

The Virgin was all around.

On placards and flags, on necklace medallions and bumper stickers, on the hearts, minds and singing tongues of believers praying for peace in a sharply divided North Side Saginaw congregation.

Our Lady of Guadalupe was everywhere Wednesday -- except at the front of St. Joseph Catholic Church, where 150 supporters say the beloved statue of the Mexican icon belongs.

"The statue personifies the faith of the Hispanic community," said parishioner Ray Gutierrez, 50, of the 5-foot figurine that has triggered a crisis of faith in a flock of hundreds. "It's the next closest thing to the likeness of the Virgin Mother."

All true--for those of you unfamiliar with Guadalupe, the miracle that converted millions to Christianity within a decade, go here. There are only two apparitions that hold any interest for me--Lourdes, and (more so) Guadalupe.

Not, of course, that such matters to the Liturgical Apparat in Saginaw.

It's not just coincidence that "liturgical" and "regurgitate" share the same number of syllables and several letters...

Tradition holds that the image came to Saint Juan Diego in 1531.

A life-size replica of the image stood at the church's nave since 1961. But when a new church opened last year, leaders moved the statue to a corridor and then a separate room.

Yep--Saginaw. Statutes are preconciliar. They must be destroyed or otherwise neutralized.

In the diocese, there are several ways of achieving this: (1) destruction (not the preferred method), (2) shuffling off to a curio closet along with other relics of the pre-Untener church ("Behold the dead past!"), (3) replacement with figurines less offensive to the Liturgariat that has the Diocese in a death grip--either 2D, or smaller statuettes. For the last, the art is either a depiction or arrangement that is done in such a way that it can not play any role in the prayer life of the faithful.


"Er--Who are they?"

With this in mind, you will see the problem with the icon in the nave--it was where everyone could see it.

That simply will not do.

As a result, the statue now symbolizes a schism pitting brother against sister, priest against parishioner and a legacy of hard-won acceptance against a new style of leadership.

Fine except for the last five words--"a claque of tradition-hating revolutionaries" would be more accurate. But I can't blame a secular reporter for this one. He did a fine job, all things considered, and seems reasonably sympathetic to the parishioners throughout the article.

Longtime congregants want the statue restored to its prominent place in the nave. Recently installed parish officials say that's impossible.

"Impossible," my ass. Refusing to budge on an irrational, phobic diktat does not equal "impossible."

Many members just want the fighting to end.

Gutierrez said frustrated parishioners have taken their fight to diocesan leaders. They hope the church can survive the division over the holy icon.

Here's the great tactical error of the defenders of the icon: appealing to the Diocese.

Where do they think this is coming from? Who appointed the gauleiter of a parish administrator, anyway? A generation of singing a new church has rather limited the available oxygen in the Chancery bunker. The functionaries downtown are as interested in "deviationist" opinions as Stalin was interested in dialoguing with Trotsky.

"We are here to pray for dignity and respect for our Hispanic traditions and culture," organizer Raul Mosqueda told the crowd gathered in the church parking lot, popping umbrellas because St. Joseph's top official had locked them out on a rainy evening.

The functionary locked them out of their own church in the rain.

No doubt the masthead on the St. Joseph Catholic Community bulletin brags about what a welcoming, inclusive bunch everybody there is.

Now, if some "conservative" pastor in Arlington had been strong-arming a Latino "Friends of Cesar Chavez Rainbow Inclusive Justice Reconciliation Prayer Group" for the past six months, culminating in a lockout, the folks at the National Catholic Reporter would be spewing Metamucil through their noses by now.

But I don't advise holding your breath for a Tom Fox editorial on this one.

"We are not here for confrontation," Mosqueda added as dark clouds gathered. "We are not here to make a statement."

But your ever-sensitive Pastoral Administrator sure made one. Two words, seven letters, first word starts with "f."

I'm sure you can go from there.

"In shock"

Since the end of January, collection plate donations have skidded to $2,500 weekly from the normal $5,500, church members said.

"Money talks," lifelong church member Manuel Lopez, 63, said of the tithing freeze.

Ouch! Way to go--seriously. That's the only way you can possibly win on this issue, and, sadly, it's the only way parishioners can push back.

Wait--it gets better.

Like Lopez, Ruth Gomez was disgusted last Sunday when church priest the Rev. Ramiro Trejo, angry over dissension sparked by the statue rift, stormed out of morning Mass without performing communion.

"He took the chalice and the plate and he went," recalled Gomez, 66, a follower of the Virgin and a member of the "Damas" group dedicated to that cause.

"People just kind of sat there in shock. Many of them couldn't believe that had just taken place."

Added Lopez, "I've never seen a priest do that, just leave us. That's never been done."

You often hear the canard that it is more important to get the Eucharist (well, usually said without the definite article) to The People than it is to maintain outdated bans on ordaining women/letting priests marry/becoming just like the Episcotarians.

Nice to see that the slogan has its limits.

Can't deny the Body and Blood to the local elected abortion evangelist, but you can to layfolk trying to defend their heritage.

Got it.

The Saginaw News could not reach Trejo despite repeated attempts.

Shocked--shocked I am by the lack of communication!

A few members joined Trejo that morning in walking out of the sanctuary built with $3 million raised by some of the same parishioners who want the priest gone for good.

No imposed regime can work without the necessary collaborators.

Chris Isquierdo just wants the fighting to end. The 49-year-old church member watched from across the parking lot Wednesday as his sister took part in the pro-statue prayer vigil.

"Father Ramiro says, 'What's more important is to have a place of worship for the Father and the Son -- not a statue,' " Isquierdo explained.

That sounds fine--but it is erroneous. In Catholic theology, given the rich history of prominent iconography, there's no need for the "either/or," "my way or the highway" tack taken by the apparatchiks. Second and more important: Precisely how does a statue depicting the central event in the conversion of millions to the worship of the Son detract from worship of Him?

He added that he doesn't care whether the statue returns or not, whatever quells the strife.

But he is devoted to a "charismatic" Trejo, who joined St. Joseph's in January.

"This guy is so powerful," Isquierdo said.

Don't get too attached. This is Saginaw, the black hole of vocations. Lots of people liked Bishop Untener (God rest his soul), but young men didn't want to be him.

Fr Trejo will be shuffled in three years tops.

Unlike Trejo's theological argument against the statue's placement, church administrator Brother Kent Bauer told Isquierdo the sanctuary's architectural design better accommodates a 3-by-5-foot Guadalupe painting than the statue.

In fairness to Fr. Trejo, it appears that, despite his tantrum, he may just be genuinely tired of the controversy. Methinks we've found the real problem--a Pastoral Adminstrator who holds the Vosko Chair in Architecture and Feng Shui at the Huck School for Beige Liturgy, Saginaw Campus.

"When you're looking at a picture or in 3-D, what's the difference?" Isquierdo asked in exasperation.

The same question could be posed to Bro. Bauer.

How about this--the difference is a stronger connection to tradition, almost certainly better art and a living connection to past parishioners and their struggles to worship God in their own way despite mistreatment at the hands of their nominal correligionists (ahem!).

Bauer joined St. Joseph's about 18 months ago, church members said.

Try "was imposed from above" to get the proper feel. A century plus of history vs. a year and a half of "I know better than you."

[Decent recounting of Guadalupe snipped.]

"I beg of you"

The change was a key moment for St. Joseph's, considered by many Hispanic Catholics the de facto basilica of the Saginaw area, Rodarte said.

Parishioners in April 2003 dedicated the new church, sporting a vaulted entryway, brick facade and green, metallic roof at 910 N. Sixth.

In the nave, however, stood a 3-by-5-foot modern painting of Guadalupe.

The statue, meanwhile, sat out of view in a corridor before church leaders moved it to a separate room.

Mosqueda said church leaders had promised the statue would retain its prominence despite the painting's arrival.

Outraged church members -- but by no means the clear majority -- pleaded and negotiated until Bauer left the bargaining table for good.

"By no means the clear majority." The key word being "clear."

From here, it sure sounds like the majority of the cash.

Let's see--the powers that be got a brand new church at $3 mil--designed to the exacting horizontal specifications of every other "new" church in the diocese--but reneged on the statue.

Total victory or bust--the revolutionary mindset in action.

Trejo told his flock he wants nothing to do with the issue and would leave by fall if it is not resolved, members said.

Organizer Mosqueda, a Bay City dentist who lives in Saginaw Township, said Bauer has told him the Diocese of Saginaw has prohibited the statue from joining the painting.

Then move the painting to the corridor/broom closet/place where it will embarrass downtown least instead. Oh, no, can't do that....

"It is never appropriate to have 'duplicate symbols' in a space, thus the thought of filling the niche with the statue AND the painting ... is not even a consideration," Diocese of Saginaw Director Mary Sellars Malloy told Bauer in a Nov. 6, 2003, letter.

She then added, "I beg of you ... not to ruin your spirit, your witness to the neighborhood and the diocese, your reputation as the Rainbow Parish, over statues and paintings."

Then move the painting....Oh, no, can't do that....

"Little brown brothers--you are our mascot parish, the one community that makes us feel better about the fact we are hemorrhaging Latinos to the evangelicals in great spraying gouts. Statues just screw up the horizontal Feng Shui, as we learned in our liturgy classes. Please, please, please try to understand why our tradophobia takes precedence over your ethnic bauble. At least we let you keep it and didn't grind it into gravel for the new parking lot. Also, please try not to associate us with the Irish who owned the pews and made your grandparents stand at the back of the building.

As Oprah always says: 'Remember your Spirit.'

Hasta la vista,

Senorita Malloy."

Malloy. An Irish name...

Just proves my theory that irony is the Lord's favorite form of humor.

The Saginaw News could not reach Bauer for comment Wednesday.

Earlier, Bauer called Mosqueda's version of the dispute "skewed," vowed to lock out the evening's prayer vigil attendees and said, "We don't want to discuss this anymore."

"Skewed"--meaning "So what?" No, Bauer and the diocese don't want to discuss this anymore. The parishioners have another view. As I always say--when a progressive says the dialogue is over, it's over, chump. If you don't shut up, you'll be getting the restraining order at light speed.

Indeed. The most thorough dismantling of I've ever witnessed.

Motown's breathing a little easier today. But two wins gets you halfway there.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Christopher Johnson is 100% class.

You probably already knew that. But let me reinforce that impression.

Yesterday, out of the blue, Heather finds a Cafe Press box on our doorstep. Baffled, she opens it and finds:

(1) a Mug with the logo for this blog glazed on it; and

(2) A onesie for our impending daughter, with the same logo.

Many thanks for both, from all of us!
All work and no play makes Heather a dull girl.

I marvel that my beloved is not barking mad.

I have today off, so I am at home watching a little TV with Heather and the kids before we head off to make the rounds.

Sesame Street is on, and an insanely catchy (as in cult-programming, can't-get-it-out-of-your-head-with-a-lobotomy) little ditty is being sung by one of the puppets. The lyrics consist of, and I quote:

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

Tortellini tortellini tortellini/
Tortellini tortellini tortellini/

"The American Pasta Makers' Association is proud to support Sesame Street."

It's a wonder that she hasn't come through the bathroom door with an axe and a Nicholson leer: "Heeeeeeere's Heather!"

Or that I haven't come home and found a 1:10 scale mashed potato mock-up of Devil's Tower on our dining room table, and my wife proudly saying: "This means something!"

Yes, dear, it does--it means "haldol time."

Nope, she's made of sterner stuff. If it were me, I think the word most associated with me would be "gibbering."

"Hey, it already--" Oh, shut up...

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Don't talk to me.

That's the kind of collapse that ends title runs.

Sure, they have the next three here at the Palace.

Sure, as Victor pointed out in the comments box, teams have swept the middle three games...

Road teams.

No, it's probably not as bad as all that.

But it's not good.

Must...punch...a...Laker fan....

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Great essay by Russell Shaw.

Technically, it's an open letter to the USCCB before the big confab in Denver, but come on: it would be astonishing an eighth read it, and even more astonishing if half of those put some of the recommendations into action.

But that doesn't stop you from reading and becoming a chronic pita.
Singer in a coma/I know I know/It's serious

For some reason, I thought Morrissey was dead.

I guess I just confused him with his singing career.

Johnny Marr had all the talent in that band.
At long last.

The Ecclesia Dei indult is being granted in Detroit.

Remove about 55% of the snark in the CruxNews report, and you have an accurate depiction of the issue. The vocations picture is accurate for 2007, but it's a snapshot only--last year there were seven ordinations. No, hardly "good," but better than a certain West Coast diocese more than three times its size. Sacred Heart Seminary is a much, much better place than it was fifteen years ago, both in terms of faculty, curriculum and number of seminary students. It's not the dissent-driven hellhole it used to be.

And the depiction of the growth of traditional movements is, if anything, understated. The SSPX and even sedevacantist groups have significant and growing followings. I could carp about the delay, but this is an unqualifiedly good thing--if implemented properly--e.g., the number of parishes involved, how often, do you have to play "chase the Mass", etc. Thank you, Cardinal Maida!

A timely tonic for my grim mood.

Also, make sure to check out the minutes of the Presbyteral Council meeting, too--a very illuminating, and occasionally laugh out loud funny, view of the tussle going on downtown. The funniest lines were the professed worry about "giving in to pressure groups."

I suspect the notes were truncated, and he was concerned about "giving in to pressure groups I don't like."

But the concern for "authenticity" is a good sign.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Ronald Reagan, requiscat in pace.

It is highly appropriate to wish the soul of the 40th President peace, because we can rest a lot easier thanks to his presidency.

I was eleven when Reagan took the oath of office. For me, the measure of the man's legacy is this: he won the Cold War and cleared the shadow of thermonuclear devastation looming over my childhood.

Lest we forget, in January 1981 the United States was locked into a seemingly perpetual confrontation with totalitarian communism, at nuclear knifepoint with a militant and marching Soviet Union. It was entirely plausible that the conflict would go "hot" and end in the incinerating salvo of ICBMs. Millions--including me--watched The Day After and Threads, or read 1960s stand-bys like Alas, Babylon and On The Beach.

For those who did not favor The End coming by fire, there were believable scenarios that it would end in ice--as in the deathgrip of communism over the world. Other cultural landmarks of my youth were the such straight-faced productions as Red Dawn, Amerika, and games like Twilight: 2000, Fortress America, and The Price of Freedom, each imagining in varying ways destruction and/or tyranny under the Soviets. For my money, What To Do When The Russians Come by Robert Conquest was the ultimate word on the subject, checked out of the public library and read by me at least three times. The last piece of advice in it? "Destroy this book!" It's still a poignant read now, given that the research was based on the experience of exiles from their brutalized homelands.

Sure, a lot of that seems quaintly paranoid--now. Maybe, but only because it was made obsolete, largely (but not solely) through the efforts of President Reagan. Essentially, he sat down at the great Cold War poker table, looked at the hand, smiled at the Soviets and said: "I'll see you, and raise you--a couple trillion."

After a few years, Gorbachev folded. The threat of annihiliation and slavery died with the collapse of the USSR. In the words of a pop song that became a hit shortly after he left office:

A woman on the radio/
talks about revolution when it's already passed her by/
but Bob Dylan didn't have this to sing about/
you you know it feels good to be alive/

I was alive and I waited waited/
I was alive and I waited for this/
Right here, right now/
there is no other place I want to be/
Right here, right now/
Watching the world wake up from history/

I saw the decade in/
when it seemed the world could change/
at the blink of an eye/
And if anything then there's your sign/
of the times

Sure, new dangers have arisen since--but they always do.

In two sentences, here's your reason to salute Ronald Reagan:

In January 1981, the unibrowed Soviet leadership was famous for scowling down at the daunting May Day parades which featured jackbooted legions in brown, marching precisely in ranks, followed by an endless number of T-72 tanks and diesel trucks bearing ballistic missiles.

By December 1997, the last Soviet leader was pitching pizza with his granddaughter in a television commercial, none of the tanks and missiles ever having been used. If the Pizza Hut image isn't enough to knock you a little dizzy, then check your pulse.

I will gladly try to explain how it all changed to my puzzled kids, with gratitude and relief. God willing, they'll never quite be able to understand it.

Thank you, Mr. President--and Godspeed.
If I hear one more commentator opine that the Lakers lost the game (as opposed to getting just flat-out beaten by the Pistons)...

...I'm taking a hostage or three. One ABC commentator used the phrase "I'm not taking anything away from the Pistons" four times in the space of three minutes. During which, of course, he proceeded to take plenty away from the Pistons' effort.

"I'm not taking anything away from the Pistons, but a wheelchair league team could have beaten the Lakers tonight."

Not quite a quote, but close. To be fair, Doc Rivers was pretty consistent in his unqualified praise of the men from Motown. But he was about it.

I know--it's one game, and the Lakers are, on paper, the better team.

But if you had told your buddy that Shaq and Kobe would combine for 59 points, Ben Wallace would have only 8 rebounds, Rip Hamilton would have only 12 points, and Rasheed Wallace would play only eight minutes in the first half--would he have picked the Pistons to win by a dozen?

Don't think so.

The only saving grace is that Brent Musberger has nothing to do with the broadcasts. If so, I might have shot the TV during the postgame.
Jabba The Slut Productions proudly presents:

Melodrama, an interpretive dance piece by Fr. Robert VerEecke, Director of the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble at Boston College (CFTPO). Let's let Padre describe it for us in his own words:

I just did a dance piece called "Melodrama." I dance it with another dancer, who's Jesus, and I'm a priest. And the first part is my commentary on going to the Gibson "Passion" and looking away most of the time, and trying to figure out why. Then I segue into other images of Jesus we need to see, for example a comic Jesus. Jesus and I go into a duet to "Make 'Em Laugh" from "Singin' in the Rain," doing all this kind of Three Stooges movement, slipping on banana peels, walking into walls. I bring this up because someone who is Catholic and who heard about the piece was very upset, even hearing that I would do something that could possibly be offensive to Catholic sensibilities, whatever that means.

The rest of the article is also "interesting," in the gawking-at-road-accidents sense of the term. In short, it's a sophomore bull-session of over-educated post-Catholics smirking about How They Managed To Outgrow All That, And Good Riddance, Too.

P.S.--Before reading, guess what religious order Fr. VerEecke is from?

[Thanks to Dom for the link.]

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The problem? "It doesn't matter."

Very worthwhile interaction between Rod Dreher and Mark Shea over at Mark's blog.

For those of you interested in Rod's proposals, go here.

If I could sum up the American Catholic crisis from 1965-present, it would be this: those charged with the care of the Church, by word and deed, have cultivated a culture of indifference ("CoI"). Yes, that would be, preeminently, the guys with the mitres.

In the face of provocation on every possible issue, they simply shrug and turn away--when they don't shoot the messenger warning them, that is. Not all of them, to be sure, but more than enough to ensure that the culture is entrenched and spreading.

I know I keep hitting on the abortion issue--flailing away on the expiring nag--but it is the perfect emblem of the problem. The episcopate assures us that the issue is central, and that they care--but.

When the rubber hits the road, we hear about personal discomfort. Even an incoherent celebration of differing standards of treatment on the issue.

When this happens, the CoI makes it clear that it really isn't important after all. Because when it's important--such as benefits during a strike--they act--repeatedly. Even if the CEO target of the rebuke isn't Catholic. [Don't get me wrong--I have no problem with bishops swatting greedy CEOs (if that is the case here). But it would be nice to see a recognition that debates over health care are strictly a privilege of the living--making a--rt--n a more foundational issue.]

But on lesser issues (like you know what), members of the flock who flout church teaching are publicly welcomed.

Because--ultimately--the issue really does not matter. If it did matter, Cdl. Mahony, the man entrusted with the largest Catholic diocese in the United States, would act in such a way as to signal to his flock and the rest of the Body that it does matter. Starting with an assurance of serious consequences for the determined championing of abortion on demand.

Instead of sounding more than a little like he was trying to recover from a blackjack to the noggin.

Then there's the handling of The Love That Routinely Calls Press Conferences.
In Minnesota, bringing the trashing of church teaching to the attention of the metropolitan archbishop will earn you a bullet from That Poor, Poor Man Sagging Under The Burden Of His Office.

Here in Michigan, flush from the victory to bypass the threat of faithful sister Granholm's veto of the PBA ban, the bishops in April decided to sit out the marriage debate.

If you find a coherent reason in there, please refer me to it. "The need for education"? Yeah, it's a real complicated concept, preserving an institution older than Western civilization the way it's always been.

Those of us manning the petition drive tables had to field a lot of questions on the issue--read: none. Yep, way more complicated than the previous ballot initiative the Church supported with its time and treasure--on vouchers (can you say "Custer"? I knew you could!).

[Pop!] Memo to self: "Stop rolling eyes up that far."

But the institution of marriage? Well, that's really complicated, and anyway it'll work itself out in the end...

The Culture of Indifference.

Then there's the routine worship idiocies, the weekly outrages at the local Catholic-for-tax-purposes university--as always, met with idgas (hint: it's an acronym) jets running at full blast. But since there's never even a hint of discipline for anyone on these fronts (see here and here respectively), neither is really worth discussing.

Ultimately, if the leadership doesn't care, why should the rank and file?

More to the point: Why should I?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

"Andrew Sullivan liked the homily," I thought...

So, of course, I didn't.

This is "insightful"?

Yeesh. Then I'd hate to see his example of cliched pablum. It's the same ol' inclusivity-as-next-to-godliness, don't-get-hung-up-on-dogma, Thou-Shalt-Not-Be-Self-Righteous-Like-Those-Conservatives, All-That-Matters-Is-Community uber-twaddle that's been spewed for the past two generations.

Far from being insightful, it's hackneyed. In fact, you have a better than even chance of hearing the sentiments of Fr. Radcliffe's opus regurgitated--verbatim--on any given Sunday.

I think similar thoughts come with the adult Happy Meals these days. On a related note: read this and try imagining if any of it would offend an Oprah audience or a devout NPR listener.

Me neither.

'If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.' So the Church is our home. It is where God is at home in us and we are at home in God. It is where we belong, at ease, with untroubled hearts. What does this mean?

A fair read of Fr. Radcliffe's affirmation anathema is that you can do whatever the Hell you want 167 hours a week and still feel all nice and welcome and warmly communitarian at the Eucharistic Celebration. With that "untroubled", if coal-black, heart beating contentedly in your breast. Unless I missed the big call to repentance in the speech--but I did check it twice.

We can see what it does not mean in the first reading from Acts, these busy bodies are going around telling the Gentiles that unless they are circumcised, then they will not be saved. They do not really belong in the Church. The Church is not their home unless they become Jews. They are not proper Christians.

Behold the classic set-up: the warm and fuzzy, if incomplete, biblical example against which he will bash the orthodox strawman. Usually it's the Pharisees, but the Judaizers are a popular silver medalist.

So the apostles gather for the first Council in the history of the Church and they decide that these Gentiles belong as they are. These presumptuous people had been acting without any authority, unsettling people.

Except, alas, Father, that those uninclusive (Boo! Hiss! Fart in their general direction!) Judaizers did have a skosh of authority for their position. It's currently referred to as the Pentateuch. What's more, the Lord Himself did not speak against the practice. So let's cut the fellows a little slack on this one.

The very first major decision that the Church ever takes is to guarantee that the Church remains a large, capacious home, with room for us. The first exercise of authority by the Church is to oppose those who want to push other people out of the community.

If you'd rather read the entire account of the Council of Jerusalem without it going through the HappyTalk™ Filter first, go here. It's not like the Council gave the gentiles free reign, now, is it? [Hint--check verses 23-29.]

The whole history of the Church is marked disputes, arguments and quarrels. And that is fine. It is a sign of being at home that one can argue and disagree without destroying the household.

The first two sentences had such potential, too. But the last wrecks it. All that matters is the label for the Fr. Radcliffes of the Church. As long as we all call each other Catholic, we're one big happy family. The label, apparently, is a big band-aid that papers over all the other problems.

Using the "family" analogy, I for one wouldn't think much of the "But we're a family!" protestation coming out of Little Brother if Elder Brother had pawned the family silver, called Dad a retard, flipped Mom the bird to her face and was still allowed to crash at the house every week with a different hooker.

But that's just me.

Even Dominicans squabble sometimes! But occasionally there are militant groups who want to decide who are proper Catholics, and to push out others out of nest, like a bloated cuckoo.

And I still like the Dominicans better than the other religious orders. I just have to keep reminding myself that religious whose theology was formed by Disney movies are a fairly widespread phenomenon.

Nice use of the word "militant," there, too. Hmmm. It's the same word used by the media to describe Palestinians who detonate explosives studded with rat-poison-dipped nails in pizzerias and organize machine-gun ambushes of children and pregnant women.

Coincidence? You decide!

You may have read in the newspapers that there are very conservative groups of lay Catholics in the States who are campaigning that any politician who does not give political support to the Church?s teaching, on such issues as abortion or gay unions, must be turned away from communion. They must be rejected at the altar.

Eek! Beware the Very Conservatives! They're everywhere!

Whereas the Very Progressives are mythical. In the meantime, Moderates Like Ourselves are standing guard.

More importantly, it's a subtle, but important, misstatement. It's not that they are asking the politicians to give support to the Church teaching, but rather that their lockstep enthusiastic opposition to those parts of the faith they feel uncomfortable with be abated.

Here's an idea: Couldn't the John Kerrys abstain on those issues where they claim to be "personally [not very] opposed" once in a great while? Is that too much to ask? That way, they can hardly be accused of imposing their faith, while at the same time not standing in consistent opposition to those teachings they claim to support.

Pretty hard to imagine the pressure on the communion issue continuing on a legislator who did that.

Cardinal McCarrick, the Archbishop of Washington, is resisting the pressure.

Our hero.

He says that he would be uncomfortable with denying people communion.

As Jesus said, "Thou shalt not discomfit the clergy."

Who are we to say whether someone is in a state of grace?

Asks Fr. Radcliffe as he stumbles across Jeffrey Dahmer in the middle of brunch.

And so this militant group have placed advertisements in newspapers such as The Washington Times, implying that the Cardinal is not a sound, proper Catholic either.

"Militants," again. While I'm not a member of the Judie Brown Fan Club, comparing her to a terrorist seems a little out of order. And bonus points for a direct reference to the Times, which all good Washingtonians must avoid like the subliminally-broadcasting Moonie tabloid it surely is.

Clearly the issues are different from those of the first reading. The Council will decide that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised. There is no question of the Church going back on its opposition to abortion.

At which point, Fr. should have mumbled embarrassedly about the inaptness of the analogy undergirding his homily and sat down. As a Methodist and now a Catholic, I have sat through my share of Homilies/Sermons That Went Nowhere And Took A Long Time To Do It, I can assure you that the baffled congregants would have been none the worse for wear.

But in both cases we see people who wish to shut people out of the Church, expel those who are not sound, proper Catholics in their own eyes.

Ah, but Fr. Radcliffe's logic is delightfully self-refuting: by elevating standardless inclusivity to a dogma, he then fails to see how the Patakis, Schwarzeneggers, Kerrys and Boxers proceed to wreck that "dogma," too. If it is the ultimate "uninclusive" act to bar someone from membership in the HappyCatholicFamilyCommunity, then the Catholics who exclude those whose only blemish is a failure to fully emerge from the womb are guilty of a similar uninclusiveness.

Only way more fatal.

Hmmm. "HappyCatholicFamilyCommunity." Speaking of Moonies...

Jesus speaks the words to the disciples at the Last Supper. Peter was about to deny him. Most of the other disciples would run away in fear. He promises that the Father and he will make their home precisely with these weak and fearful people, who are not, at this moment, exactly model Christians.

Another flawed analogy--Peter and ten of the others (1) stopped denying Him and (2) stopped running.

In other words, they repented. Not exactly a trivial thing here.

And what happened to the one who betrayed Him, again?

So we should all feel at home in the Church, even though, like these apostles, we may not feel that we are 'good Catholics'.

To the extent he's saying the Church is a hospital for sinners--amen. If I had to categorize what kind of Catholic I am, "good" would not likely be the word immediately preceding.

We may have doubts and uncertainties; we may disagree with the Church on some issues; we may be angry with the Church about other things.

Argh. The inevitable descent into fluff. I wonder how long Fr. Radcliffe would continue in Sanguine Welcomer mode if one of his parishioners revealed her disagreement with the Church's stance on racial equality and the integration of Catholic schools?

We may be living in what are called 'irregular situations', although they are more and more regular.

Way to boldly stand against the cultural tide, Father! Guess we know where you really stand on the Gospel According to Goodridge.

But Jesus still invites us to be at home here. It is part of the beauty of Catholicism that so-called bad Catholics belong just as much as anyone else. Perhaps even more so. Jesus came to call sinners and not the just. The only people who might feel a little uneasy in this our home are the self-righteous.

Oh, dear Lord. Yes, as we all know, the only sin Jesus mentioned apart from clergy irritation was self-righteousness. Yes, really insightful. If only I could get my eyes to roll back down.

[Pop!] Ah--there!

Saccharine might not be carcinogenic, but, like laxatives, you can still OD on it. Especially in its verbal form. I can even picture how he delivered this tripe--with a wink and an Eric Idle-ish nudge-nudge.

NAMHLA (North American Man-Horse Love Association) members, I've found your parish.

Not that we would wish to expel them!

Well, maybe some. Especially the militants.

Home is where you do not have to justify your presence. Blackfriars is my home. I do not have to give any reason for being here. I do not have to merit my place in the community, or establish that I am an upright friar with the correct views. I just belong.

Sounds like the John Walker household to me.

In my home, I was (and am) expected to honor my parents, to do my part to help out, and to eventually grow into a responsible adult doing credit to my family name. While I might not have to "justify my presence", I can hardly presume to renounce by word and deed everything that my family stands for and expect to continue on my merry way without repercussions.

Would that more Catholics felt the same way about the Body of Christ.

Jesus says, to the disciples, 'the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's, who sent me.' Jesus does not own the words he speaks. They belong to his Father. And if he does not own them, then nor do we. We cannot claim possession of the word of God and use it to beat up other people and expel them from their home. The truth of the gospel is in no one's mastery.

"We don't possess the truth, the truth possesses us," or insert your favorite stunted spiritual platitude here. The fact is, authority is given to do some pretty...uncomfortable things to the equanimity of fellow believers. No, really. The first passage is especially uncongenial to the "come and stay as you are" approach to pastoral ministry exemplified by this homily.

We are preparing for the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit will dwell with us. Jesus says, 'The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.' This does not mean that each of the apostles will remember everything. Some may remember Jesus' compassion; others will remember his justice or his preaching of the Kingdom. Some will remember parables and others miracles. We have four gospels, four memories.

The Holy Spirit is poured upon us too. We each cherish some aspect of the gospel. But none of us has the right to claim that his or her memory is the only one and threaten people who cherish another. We need each other?' memories if we are to get a small glimpse of the whole truth.

I, for one, am simply fascinated with Kerry's memory of Pope Pius XXIII. Sounds really, really cool, to be able to see into the future like that. That, and all the rah-rah speeches he routinely gives to NARAL & Co. Ah, good times, good times.

This is not wish washy relativism.

Oh, yes it is.

It is building the home in which God may dwell.

I don't think you're going to like the Almighty's code inspection. No, not at all.

'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.' Let us try to build the Church as our common home in God. Here we should be untroubled and unafraid. The Church should be a large, capacious home for all sorts of oddbods, saints and sinners, progressives and conservatives, the convinced and the searching. It is Catholic, which means Universal. Let us not shrink it to the size of our own small hearts and minds.

Father later revealed there was a small typo in this last paragraph. Six words from the end, there was supposed to be a "y" in front of the "our."

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Brush with celebrity.

Oh, yes--I almost forgot. Heather, the children and I met a real live TV personality on Friday afternoon.

We stopped at a gas station/Jerky Outlet (I-75, Exit 160--make sure to buy a bag) on Vacation Trek. As we were pulling in, Heather craned her neck around and asked "Is that Bob Guiney?"

Now, contrary to what you might think, this is a real possibility, given that he was, as we say, "raised in these parts"--Michigan born and bred. Whereas "Is that Vladimir Putin?" would be rather lower on the probability scale, and open to more skepticism.

Though I would not be at all surprised if Pooty-poot had a taste for good jerky.

I looked back, and sure enough--it looked like Bachelor Bob fueling up a Range Rover. As we were getting out, two girls pulled up beside us and asked the same question. Heather said she thought so. I had more pressing business, so I carried D3 into the gas station.

Coming out of the bathroom, I stumbled into Heather buttonholing the gentleman, who indeed confirmed he was Bob Guiney. He apparently had just excused himself after nearly (and inadvertently) running over my daughter (it happens). He was friendly, greeting people who approached him and engaging folks in conversation. A very decent guy, from what I could tell.

Apparently I was in the presence of another celebrity, too--the counter clerks assured me that his fiance was also there--a soap opera actress whose name escaped me entirely. She was a little more shy.

Funny moment: As we were waiting in line, I got tired of switching my son from arm to arm, and put him up on my shoulders. He loves this, and flashed all and sundry his best Gerber baby grin, accompanied by big giggles. For a full minute, he was a bigger attraction with the ladies than Mr. Guiney.

I keep telling him to enjoy it while it lasts.
There are no excuses for not reading William Luse.

None whatsoever--go now.
Saginaw daze.

Future Bishop _________, you've got a lot of work to do in the eleven Michigan counties that comprise the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.

A good start would be inculcating in your priests and lay people the notion that a priest is not some spiritual IT wonk, a perhaps-genial oddity who emerges briefly from his office to perform a brief valuable service before vanishing back into the rectory to engage in the ordained equivalent of playing Quake or Everquest for the next seven hours.

Perhaps it's just a phenomenon where the parish has an appointed (and almost always distaff) "pastoral administrator," but I can't imagine a more disheartening job than being a Saginaw diocesan priest on Sunday. At Pentecost, I watched the poor guy come into the safely-whitewashed and crucifix-free rural parish church in uncomfortably hot vestments. After that, he, like the rest of us, was able to watch the PA give the opening prayer, the gospel reading, the homily and near-enough concelebrate at the altar by holding aloft the chalice during the consecration prayer. Maybe it was the heat, but perhaps it was frustration--Fr. left at the beginning of the homily. Then again, it would have been a more impressive protest (if that's what it was) had Father not returned, or at least delayed his return.

[BTW, good to see the immediate salutary impact of Redemptionis Sacramentum. No doubt it is being carefully "studied" at the chancery.

If "studied" is a broad enough term to encompass being crapped on by the office parakeet, that is.]

Not exactly an advertisement for vocations out in the sticks, is it? What young man is going to want to bother with the priesthood if it requires being sidelined during the "source and summit of Christian life"? No, better instead to just get in the pipeline for PA-hood, which allows you to do 70% of the liturgy and still have sex and a family that doesn't regard you as largely dispensible.

"How was the homily?" you may ask. By Saginaw standards: Eh. A decent point about the Holy Spirit not necessarily setting you on fire. However, it was fatally flawed by the studied and awkward avoidance of associating the pronoun formerly known as he with the Counsellor. A strangely neuter and breezy being, the Third Person of the Triune God.

Which, given the sidelining of poor Father, was perhaps appropriate.

Yes, Bishop _______, you have your work cut out for you. But the good news is that if you can get past your own bureaucracy, you may find a receptive audience for a more assertive priesthood. The only other convert in my family is my one of my dad's older sisters. A much more normal, agreeable and reasonable person than I, Aunt Sally has stopped attending the nearest PA parish out of irritation with the similar antics of the nun running the show. When asked what she wants, she offers this demand:

"Give me back my priest!"
Toot, toot.

I'm going to try this because, well--everyone else does it.

Shameless self-promotion alert!

I actually had my first writing published.

In March. In the National Catholic Register(many, many thanks!)--it was a version of the my dad/Mel's dad piece. Which, according to Mom, my dad has shown to everyone who is even semi-literate in English.

Exactly two (dos/zwei/dva) people noticed it--thanks Jim and Mark.

So, in honor of my second published piece, I decided to try another tack:

Why, yes, I am that "Dale Price" referenced on the cover of the June 2004 New Oxford Review, thank you very much! [Cue sound of rotator cuff tearing as obscure blowhard pats self on back.]

If it seems familiar, it is--it's an edited (sigh) version of the old AmChurch vs. Catholic men piece from a year or so back.

Editing: The Necessary Evil™. If only they could have left the Miracle on Ice reference in there...

Much more seriously, be sure to subscribe to that fine publication as well--if for no other reason than you'll get to see my third published article before the end of summer. Or so.
That was the ugliest "professional" basketball game I've ever seen.

The happy result was the only redeeming feature for me. I can't imagine what Pacer fans got out of it.

If the Pistons keep playing like that, I predict the Lakers will win in three--the league will have no choice but to institute a mercy rule.

Hey--I deserved a [too brief] vacation.

We went to the Price Family Summer Palace from Friday through Tuesday.

Five hours in cars (one way) with a toddler and fifteen month old. Wheeeeeeee! Still, it was quite worth it. Mom and Dad's retirement home is still a hole in the ground, but I'm beginning to see the potential.

The virus was successfully purged from the computers. Of course, the existence of viruses is another reason why I can't quite renounce my support for capital punishment.

If you have any need for computer services, I heartily recommend the lads at Disk-n-Dat Computers (yes, I know, the name...) in Clinton Township. They managed to save the really important stuff, plus they actually regarded customer service as something relevant to their product. Unlike a certain computer repair shop in Sterling Heights I'll be happy to steer you away from if you e-mail me.

More to follow.

New digs for ponderings about Levantine Christianity.

   The interior of Saint Paul Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Harissa, Lebanon. I have decided to set up a Substack exploring Eastern Christi...