Monday, April 30, 2007
Or in Jimmy Carter's case, the stench.
Alan Dershowitz hangs No. 39 out to dry regarding questionable sources of income.
What he does is send me listings for cheap residential properties available in the Upper Peninsula. "Cheap" as in "For a song."
"On Everclear Karaoke Night."
"At the Harelip Academy."
The above picture shows the distance of this particular ultracheap property from Lake Superior, in the vicinity of Ontonagon, Michigan. The Lake is the blue between the trees at the end of the road.
The sea, the sea...
I slag the Detroit News because of its garbage editorial line. But to give credit where it's due, the News has been a superb reporter on the preservation of the Motor City's architectural heritage.
This article, featuring the work of restorationists on Detroit statuary, is another example of that.
Don't miss the gallery on the right side detailing the current status of the Book-Cadillac renovation, either.
A snapshot from the Lions' Draft War Room on Saturday.
Kev thinks I'm trying to change the subject by talking about the Freckled Beckenbauer and his dominating performance on Saturday.
Another receiver?! No, that doesn't bother me at all. They need one, after blowing two of their first rounders on first class duds. Johnson's the real deal, so I had no problem with that. Sad to say, it's the only pick that made sense.
It was the rest of the draft that made no sense. An injury-plagued QB, a defensive line project, an injury-plagued safety, and a low-rated O-lineman.
So, their second pick was for an offensive skill position when they have screaming needs at linebacker and at the corner. Apparently Mike Martz has been serving up the Kool-Aid in great big flagons, and Millenelli have drunk themselves silly.
If nobody gets hurt.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
There was a scrum down the field, heading for the 'Bows' goal. Suddenly, separation! Again, The Boy was loose with the ball, in the clear--goal! Game over!
When she's not happy, she posts things like this.
But when she posts things like this, she's generally happier afterward.
Between that, a bright sunny day, and the opportunity to shop on her own, she was one happy lady Saturday afternoon.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
What if the Chinese had unwisely mucked about with a virus in the 60s? A virus that invariably killed its human host and then re-animated the corpse? What if they tried to bury their mistake but it was unearthed by unfortunate Chinese peasants in the hinterland? What if the Chinese government was unsuccessful in containing it? Factor in the trafficking in human organs, smuggling of people, ineffective and cynical attempts to stem or profit from the plague and you have the recipe for a world-wide disaster.
Such is the premise of World War Z, by Max Brooks. Yes, to get it out of the way, Brooks is the son of Mel Brooks (and the late Anne Bancroft). Much more importantly, he's effective at weaving a series of vignettes featuring people involved in responding to the zombie menace. I'm not sure how well he could sustain a novel length work, but he's good with the format used here.
The nations react with varying effectiveness: Israel responds to an early warning by extending and hunkering down behind its security wall (and deftly defuses criticism by inviting the descendants of Palestinians resident in 1948 to join them). South Africa develops the first effective national strategy by consulting with a cold-blooded advisor to the old apartheid regime (there's a neat twist in this story), a plan which becomes the template for the other embattled nations. It's not a spoiler to say that humanity eventually wins out--otherwise, nobody would be taking "an oral history." After an early disastrous engagement in New York, America becomes the first nation to march out from its safe area to retake territory by using new tactics and weaponry (shock and awe doesn't work on the mindless, alas). I'm happy to report that a significant number of Michiganders survive holed up in the aerially-supplied bastions of Comerica Park and Ford Field.
I'm even happier to report that the violence is not of "horror porn" levels, though there are some horrific and tragic scenes. And there are some hard jabs at current politicos and cultural figures, including the current administration and Karl Rove in particular. Thinly-disguised individuals like Rove, Joe Lieberman, Howard Dean, Colin Powell, Bill Maher, Ann Coulter, Howard Stern and others either appear in the narrative or are referred to, often with comic effect.
Brooks doesn't spare himself, lampooning his own Zombie Survival Guide to good effect in a couple of scenes.
Not a life changer, but a worthwhile read. It can be profitably read as a celebration of human courage, determination and creativity in the face of traumatic, civilization-shaking disaster.
In short, if you liked The Peshawar Lancers, you'll get an equally-big kick out of The Sky People.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I think I'll stop now.
Some members of The Anti-Church are pissed that other people haven't yet pulled a D & E on their own conscience. Solution: Agree with us or else.
Here's a better idea: Why don't you use some of that Piskie trust fund money you pricks have cascading out of your pockets and build all the human chop shops you want? Sell some of those old properties and commission some crop dusters to drop morning-after pills, or re-fit ice-cream trucks to pass out diaphragms and condoms--playing "Somebody To Love" or similar songs from the era where your taste and good sense ossified. The possibilities are endless, really. And it shows a lot more integrity (that whole "money where your mouth is" thing) than battering someone else into accepting your worldview.
Then again, "integrity" and "progressive Episcopalian" are rarely seen in each other's company these days.
Don't let the crew-cut and pinched, hectoring expression fool you: Kate Ragsdale is a hideously unpleasant being. I'd say "abortion whore," but that's not fair to practitioners of the world's oldest profession.
An acolyte of Elizabeth Bathory is more like it.
Jay Anderson has a thoughtful post on the differences between cradle Catholics and those who convert (as he and his wife both did).
It sounds about right to me. Watching Heather, it strikes me that her faith is more elemental, for lack of a better term. It's part of the atmosphere, the water in which she swims. She grew up with it. In fact, she and those like her might be the last of the cultural Catholics. She remembers getting dismissed early from public school to go to catechism, and the Friday menu during Lent was fish and mac & cheese. Her Dad took the family to Church on Sundays, and received the Host on the tongue. The Church was an almost imperceptible, but reassuring, smell in the air she breathed. Plenty of "what" and "how," if almost never a good answer to "why?" [Don't get her started on her religious education. "S0-called," she'd say.]
Me, born, baptized and more or less raised as a Methodist, I approach it differently. Catholicism was an "other." A great big one, to be sure. There were the images of popular culture--Robert Redford saying the Hail Mary as he and the rest of the 82nd Airborne rowed canvas boats across the Rhine under fire in A Bridge Too Far. A cowled nun going medieval on Belushi and Ackroyd for cussing in The Blues Brothers. Priests chanting Latin as they performed the Last Rites for some condemned prisoner. Sure, I had Catholic friends and heard them talk about picking confirmation names or prepping for another milestone. However, that was very different from the quiet biblical Methodism I was used to. Almost sternly so, in a way I couldn't define.
So when Heather started inviting me to Mass, I joked that I'd set off "the Protestant Detector." She seemed a bit puzzled by that, but was happy I went.
Sadly, the detector never went off. So, when the time came to discuss the whole "what religion thing," I said (after definitively rejecting the ECUSA as a "middle ground") I'd be willing to look at being a papist. But I warned her: "If I am going to be Catholic, I'm going to be Catholic--no going through this 'RCIA' thing just to lapse."
Thus I enrolled. And, unlike Heather, my approach was an endless series of "Why?" questions. Providentially, after a couple of near-derailments, the Whys got answered and during the 1999 Easter Vigil, I poped.
But because I approached it from the "Why" perspective, I assimilated it differently. I suspect I will always have a different approach from those raised Catholic. This is both good and bad. Good in that I have a ready explanation for the faith I have. Bad in that I don't have the "roll with the punches"/"this storm will pass" peace that solid Cradles have. If I can find that "beat," I'll be all set.
It has a lot to do with the fact you could keep beef fresh in my office. No, we don't have climate controls in our suite, thank you. Yes, it's been reported. What happens is that maintenance types come in, note the gale pouring through the vents, tsk tsk, tap an index finger thoughtfully against their lips, and leave, never to return.
Anyway: anybody have any poultices, steamed concoctions, leeches, etc. you can recommend?
Monday, April 23, 2007
Tony Auth's thoughts on the PBA decision, printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Count Mr. Auth as a big, big fan of Carhart Scissorhands.
Say what you will about Auth, he's a fan of the classics:
From the quill of cartoonist Thomas Nast, illustrating the Catholic "attack" on public schooling for Harper's Weekly in 1876.
Everything old is new again.
[H/t to Amy Welborn, who chronicles more of the sizeable fandom for the slaughteriffic practice.]
In a game that ran too late for my taste, the Wings dispatched the Calgary Flames in the second overtime to advance to the second round for only the second time since 2002. Just a beautiful shot by Franzen, too. Since I don't like the prospect of playing San Jose for any number of reasons, starting with lost sleep, I'm rooting for Dallas tonight.
In other news, Victor Morton is probably a little irritable at the office today.
On the other hand, the New England Catholic bloggers have a little more spring in their step.
Pittsburgh (that's Pennsylvania, USA) imam illustrates that Islam's Dignitatis Humanae moment has not quite arrived.
And by "has not quite arrived" I mean "is a millenium or so away, give or take a century":
A community debate over religious freedom surfaced in Western Pennsylvania last week when Dutch feminist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who has lived under the threat of death for denouncing her Muslim upbringing, made an appearance at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Islamic leaders tried to block the lecture, which was sponsored through an endowment from the Frank J. and Sylvia T. Pasquerilla Lecture Series. They argued that Hirsi Ali's attacks against the Muslim faith in her book, "Infidel," and movie, "Submission," are "poisonous and unjustified" and create dissension in their community.
Although university officials listened to Islamic leaders' concerns, the lecture planned last year took place Tuesday evening under tight security, with no incidents.
Imam Fouad ElBayly, president of the Johnstown Islamic Center, was among those who objected to Hirsi Ali's appearance.
"She has been identified as one who has defamed the faith. If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death," said ElBayly, who came to the U.S. from Egypt in 1976.
And the imam should be on the next Boeing back to Egypt, if we had any sense.
Berkeley Breathed said it best a few months back:
For A.D. 2014, when he shows reluctance to mow the lawn.
Yesterday was the First Mow and First Grill of 2007, respectively, which brought to mind the above picture.
It's from last summer (note the old, un-chick-magnety Skylark to my left). I didn't even notice him pacing me at first. Needless to say, it was the the most fun I had with the mower all year. No--make that "ever."
Friday, April 20, 2007
But Hilary's leaving the 'sphere anyway. Evil Steve reports that it is for good and considered reasons, so I suppose that helps. But one of the worthwhile voices (an everyday read for me) of the Catholic internet is going on retreat. Right in the middle of several fascinating posts on Tradition and restoration, too, alas. You'll be missed, Susie.
On the bright side, we can now talk about sports with impunity.
In much better news, Jeff Culbreath has returned to blogging, and promises to carry the torch on the Tradition/restoration thread.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
"Let's face it, there really is nothing more sensual than caressing someone's mind," said Paul Holdengräber, who launched the library's live lecture series that is now a staple of New York's "intellidating" scene.
Oh, how The Big Lebowski quotes bounce across the synapses when faced with pseudo-profundity like this...
"Paulie, you're out of your element!"
"That's, like, your opinion, man."
"Is this your homework, Paulie?"
"This is not 'Nam, this is dating. There are rules."
Ultimately, I'll just have to "Mark it zero!"
A young woman, a beauty pageant, and a revolution.
Go, Miss Mexico!
The Cristeros remind me a lot of the Vendee, with the same vicious foes, the same tragic/triumphant end, and the same undeserved anonymity.
[Via Jay Anderson.]
Wisconsin offensive tackle/road grader Joe Thomas politely refused an invitation to the NFL's Draft week festivities, where he is expected to be a top-5 pick during the first day of the Draft (April 28).
Reason? He has a tradition of fishing with his dad on draft day.
The only downside (for him): he could go to our lovable bumblers in Motown.
...I am happy to report that the police made two arrests for the vandalism of the Assyrian Church in north Warren. Another local newsweekly (not online, alas) had more details, indicating that an anonymous tip led to a break in the case.
[Language is rough in this one. Sorry, but there it is.]
And it's still too kind a fate for them.
Maybe they have rivers of boiling shit, too. That'd be a start.
I thought it would be hard to top the Phelpsite cult's promise to protest at the VT funerals. Or the L-Hubbardans issuing press releases about psychiatric medication [paging Dr. Cruise, paging Dr. Cruise].
But the race to the bottom has two new leaders. Thanks to media recti NBC and the Detroit News (who put the murderous little turd above the fold on the front page holding two pistols, under "WAR IS DECLARED"-size type), we now have C*o S***g-*u* (I'm not giving him any more pub), Superstar. Yeah--there's a great deterrent to the murder-minded in our unbalanced world: glorify the evil offal who do this. Give them in death what is "denied" to them in life.
[As an aside, bravo, bravo and bravo again to the Detroit Free Press, whose front page today featured only pictures of the victims. The Freep is renowned for a liberal editorial line, and the News for an economic conservative one. Score a big one for the liberals.]
Remind me why NBC fired Imus again? Something about "enough being enough?" Mmm-kay.
And don't tell me about the internal "debate" and ""soul-searching" that preceded this important decision in the prurient--er, "public interest." None of that means a damn thing when you make the obviously repellent decision--in fact, it makes it worse. "I thought about it for a long time, considered all the alternatives, and weighed the effects before I decided to act," sayeth the rapist. Blow it out your ass.
Just a reminder: When you do that sort of thing in a killing it's murder one, jerkwad.
Remember all the high media dudgeon about the Fox OJ Confession Special and book?
That was awesome!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
When you throw in the migraine-inducing disputes over Hesychasm, you realize that Athos is a different world indeed.
But it is no monolith today. While Athos has been a pillar of anti-Roman sentiment (sometimes quite deserved, see And All That, 1204), the fact is that the most intractable among them are out of step with the majority, who are loyal to the ecumenically-minded Patriarch Bartholomew, and the confrontations between the two groups have been ugly. In short, when Athos isn't a united bloc, I'm not sure what's left of Weigel's argument.
Yes, there's long way to go before reunion is feasible, but sitting around sighing about the bad Orthodox hating us doesn't serve much purpose.
The steamed dissent in the Gonzales case castigates the majority, claiming that it traduces a right that has "centrality to women's lives."
Here, from today's majority opinion, is what is so essential (indeed, nonnegotiable) to the advancement of women's equality in America, stripped of the usual ass-covering passive voice and euphemism that abortion proponents have to fog the air with:
"Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby's legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby's body and the arms, everything but the head. The doctor kept the head right inside the uterus. . . . The baby's little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby's arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall....The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a highpowered
suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby's brains out. Now the baby went completely limp. . . . He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used."
Dr. Haskell's approach is not the only method of killing the fetus once its head lodges in the cervix, and the process has evolved since his presentation. Another doctor, for example, squeezes the skull after it has been pierced, so that enough brain tissue exudes to allow the head to pass through. Still other physicians reach into the cervix with their forceps and crush the fetus' skull. Others continue to pull the fetus out of the woman until it disarticulates at the neck, in effect decapitating it. These doctors then grasp the head with forceps, crush it, and remove it.
Gonzales, Slip Opinion at p. 8 (ellipses in original).
In retrospect, I guess there was a difference between a Bush win and a Kerry victory in 2004.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
"What it all means," metanarratives, and worst of all, policy whoring by the chattering classes--all of these fade into deserved insignificance against the grief of the families and friends of the 32 murder victims.
Think of them, and the heroism of one victim in particular, Liviu Lebrescu, a 76 year old Holocaust survivor. The light will not be extinguished, even in the long shadow of ravening evil.
[Graphic h/t, Instapundit.]
Monday, April 16, 2007
The "shooting" at Virginia Tech has turned into a massacre.
There are no words.
Updates: First, a St. Blog's connection: Amy Welborn's son David works on campus, but she reports he's OK, thankfully.
Second, the college newspaper has regular updates here, including a map of the campus showing where the murders took place.
To my surprise, I'm getting links from African blogs about the situation, one in the Republic of South Africa, and one from within Zimbabwe.
The latter is run by Mufaro Hove, who operates a clearinghouse of Zimbabwe-related blogs.
One bit of bad news--I haven't been able to get the Bishops' Conference link to open once.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
He is Archbishop Pius Ncube, leader of Zimbabwe's Catholics. He's taking on a full-fledged thug in Robert Mugabe, the country's dictator. He's been a long-time opponent of the tyrant, but now he's challenging Mugabe directly. Mugabe is capable of just about anything, so make sure all the good people of Zimbabwe stay in your prayers.
Amy Welborn has asked me to post my comment over at MCJ. Who am I to say no? Especially with high praise like that--thanks!
A little background--The Episcopal Church's bishops basically told Archbishop Rowan Williams and his fellow Archbishops to stuff a proposed compromise that would have, among other things, provided breathing space for the beleaguered orthodox congregations in progressive diocese.
At the same time, they sent a condescending invite to the Archbishop to come to the U.S. to talk. Archbishop Williams' spokesman has told them that he will be on sabbatical, and simply can't meet them. Even though he'll be in the U.S. part of the time.
Inspired by that classically English smackdown, I came up with:
The Top Ten Things Rowan Williams Would Rather Do Than Meet With TEC's Hapless Bench During His Sabbatical
10. Use a fiberglass suppository.
9. Read Forcefielder's Choice: The Very Best of Frank Griswold.
8. Audition for American Idol by singing "My Humps," with Simon as the only judge.
7. Become The Official Archbishop of the Detroit Lions.
6. Attend a Yoko Ono concert.
5. Be interviewed by Don Imus.
4. Headbutt a wasp's nest.
3. Slow-dance with Courtney Love.
2. Appear on Celebrity Jeopardy: NHL Trivia Edition.
And the number one thing Archbishop Williams would rather do than meet with TEC's Paladins of Polity:
1. Three words: Live organ transplants.
Mark Sullivan's always-interesting Irish Elk blog has a post about WW2 American warplane nose art. Richard Bong, America's reigning top ace (40 confirmed kills), earns the "awww" award with his sweetheart's photo. Others--are less so. Note especially "Hump Time," based in the Far East with regular flights over the Himalayas.
America's fighting men have been creative in finding ways around doubts about the virtue of their naming practices.
For example, there was a remote American base established in the jungles of northern Australia during the war, far from the lovely Australian lasses in the urban south.
The lonely GIs called the base--with a big sign over the entrance--"Camp Lackanookie."
When questioned by curious/suspicious Aussies about the provenance of the title, the GIs solemnly informed the questioners that it was "an old Indian name."
The Very, Very Ordinary of Spokane has courageously identified the source of the sex abuse scandals:
"We are the perpetrators of the abuse," Skylstad wrote in his reply. "That 'we' is the perceived community of bishops, priests and laity, in communities over a 50-year period. You may not like being in that 'we,' but that is the way it is."
If William Skylstad were any part of a man, I would slap his jaws and force him to resent it.
He should be forced to resign on the basis of that statement alone. But, as is usually the case, there's a bonus. Namely, that he has a peculiar history himself in dealing with rape that occurred under his nose. Right, stumblebum?
What an unspeakable bastard.
[H/t to Bill Cork for the link.]
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Vonnegut, with his daughter Lily, in 1990.
Dead at 84. I didn't read a ton of his stuff, but I enjoyed Breakfast of Champions, Cat's Cradle and especially Mother Night.
Breakfast was his signature work, but I like Mother Night much more. MN was a really effective piece of existentialism, an examination of the effect of the masks we wear and so forth. BoC was funny, but I'll admit I picked it up as a collegian because of the penis jokes and butthole drawings.
[An aside to the ladies: if you haven't discovered it by now, all men have an inner 12-year old who stays with us forever. And not too infrequently takes control, guns blazing and hooting with laughter the whole time.]
Oh, and he had a hilarious cameo in Back to School. He didn't fall into the trap of taking himself too seriously, which speaks well of him.
Our friend Diane, a true devotee of his work, has a fine post about him worth your attention.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Yes, Imus said a bigoted, racist, stupid thing. Firing wouldn't be unjust, given the man's track record.
But as sports columnist Jason Whitlock points out, there are more important battles to be fought, and the usual suspects are, as always, AWOL from those.
In related news, samples from current bestselling rap singles are here [Content Warning: this is vile, vile stuff].
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I thought I could hear his wail of despair near the conclusion of last night's 24 episode.
BTW, if someone could explain how we got back to the Attack Of The Chinese Subplot, I'd be appreciative. Not that I think it's remotely possible, but still.
Man arrested for feeding the homeless in Orlando, Florida.
Orlando officials hastened to point out that they do have Poor Laws and workhouses.
[H/t to Dave Barry.]
Monday, April 09, 2007
And Ordinary Time.
OK--why waste pixels on the guy?
Simple--first, he has a high-profile pedestal from which to fling offal at his erstwhile co-religionists, all the while hiding behind his baptism and the laughable self-coronation as a "thinking Catholic." In his hands, it is an oxymoron of biblical proportions, given that he never lets his nominal faith get in the way of his hard leftist creed. Ever. Sadly enough, he is emblematic of a type of Catholic ever-willing to parrot secular leftist criticism of the Church. But as is always the case with "thinking Catholics," they wouldn't dream of turning a skeptical eye toward their secular comrades in arms. All that thinking gets tiring, I suppose. That, and Rome wasn't burnt in a day, either.
Second, he's a classic pseud. So classic, in fact, I'd like to do a Crow-like CGI and put Carroll into Good Will Hunting. Specifically, as the pretentious Harvard student who gets exposed and rhetorically annihilated by Damon's character at the pub, ending with the line "How do you like them apples?"
Typically-rancid Carroll in this one from March 19 (I guess I gave up fisking for Lent):
NEARLY A decade and a half ago, this condemnation of fundamentalism was issued: "The fundamentalist approach is dangerous, for it is attractive to people who look to the Bible for ready answers to the problems of life . . . instead of telling them that the Bible does not necessarily contain an immediate answer to each and every problem. . . . Fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects into life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations." This robust denunciation came from the Vatican, in a 1993 document entitled "The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church."
So much utter crap, I'm going to have to bring in the backhoe. And a respirator. First, um--uh, er--t'wasn't a "condemnation of fundamentalism." The document discusses questions of biblical interpretation, and is not a full-blown analysis of the much-larger phenomenon of fundamentalism overall. But that's never stopped a master cherry-picker like our man in Boston.
Next problem: I hate to break this to Mr. Carroll, but as the Preface to Interpretation states (and please note the author--it's important for later), the Pontifical Biblical Commission is not an official teaching office of the Church. It's an advisory board, rather like that commission that said "Trojans are A-OK" back in the '60s.
And finally, the document also warns about the dangers of the historical-critical method being divorced from faith, but--whoops! The blind spots of a "thinking Catholic"!
The phenomenon of "fundamentalism" has made an extraordinary impact on the world. But what is it? The scholar Gabriel A. Almond defines fundamentalism as "religious militance by which self-styled 'true-believers' attempt to arrest the erosion of religious identity, fortify the borders of the religious community, and create viable alternatives to secular institutions and behaviors."
Brace for pseud impact. We have caught our intrepid columnist red-handed under the blossoming cherry tree this time. How so? Simple, my dear Watson: anyone who was truly familiar with work of the person he is citing, as opposed to Google quote farming, would know such trivial details as the fact that Prof. Almond passed away Christmas 2002.
That's right--he's dead, Jim.
Genuinely informed people would know and acknowledge that--"the late scholar Gabriel A. Almond," or something similar. Pseuds relying on the Quote-o-matic wouldn't and won't.
That, and the definition strikes me as a little truncated and slanted, sounding too much like the columnist himself. Methinks there was some critical context which escaped the Maraschino Master.
Some fundamentalists pursue openly political agendas (Northern Ireland, Israel, Iran).
And people say I use a meat axe. Please note the following: he may have written "Constantine's Sword," but Mr. Carroll has far less sympathy with Jews post-1948. (1) They can't be used as a cudgel against Catholicism, and (2) real leftists won't be caught dead sympathizing with Israel.
Some are apolitical (Latin American Pentecostalism). In war zones (Sudan, Afghanistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka), fundamentalism is energizing conflict. Most notably, the warring groups in Iraq have jelled around fundamentalist religion.
Please note that the only fundies who get called out by name are Christians. Rosie O'Donnell would be so proud.
These varied manifestations resist being defined with one word, which is why it is better, as Almond suggests, to speak of "fundamentalisms."
He's dead, Jim!
But they all have something in common, and as the Vatican critique of biblical fundamentalism suggests, it is dangerous.
Which is why you get Pentecostals blowing themselves to Hell all. The. Time.
The impulse may begin with good intentions, the wish to affirm basic values and sources of meaning that seemed threatened. The term was born when conservative Protestants in early-20th-century America committed themselves to defend the five "fundamentals" of their faith -- the inerrancy of the Bible, virgin birth and deity of Jesus, doctrine of atonement, bodily resurrection of Jesus, and his imminent return.
And boy, were they right to start fighting early. See Episcopal Church, The.
That movement was a rejection, especially, of the historical-critical mode of biblical interpretation, and of Darwinian science. These characteristics still animate Protestant fundamentalism.
For all these reasons, fundamentalisms are everywhere.
Giorgy Daurov, Age 2--Victim of the Beslan School Massacre.
Yet another blind spot for the "thinking Catholic."
Even in contemporary Roman Catholicism, with whose condemnation
Like I said--GIDDY.
of fundamentalism we began. Catholic fundamentalists are more likely to be called "traditionalists," and today the Vatican is their sponsor.
A young James Carroll, fighting the real enemy.
Oh, goody. Finally, our brave iconoclast mounts his hobbyhorse--trashing his hypothetical brothers and sisters. Let's put to the side the fact that these "fundamentalists" are neither violent nor mired in poverty, making a hash of the previous several hundred words of his argument, so-called. The real problem is that Carroll is appalled by Catholics who won't "think" as he does.
Instead of reading the Bible uncritically, in search of "ready answers to the problems of life," they read papal statements that way, finding in encyclicals the "false certitude" that the Vatican warns biblical literalists against.
So, to be a card-carrying, NCR-certified grade-A thinking Catholic, I should wipe my fanny with Deus Caritas Est?
And by the by, who's doing the uncritical reading of and proof-texting from Vatican documents to support his thesis here? Carroll's exegetical method would make Jack Chick say "Whoa--throttle it back a notch there, Sparky!" Not so by the way, here's the time to note the author of the Preface to the Interpretation document, one Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Now he's Pope Benedict the wild-eyed fundy? Got it.
The most recent case in point is Pope Benedict's "Apostolic Exhortation," issued last week. What begins as a contemplative appreciation of the Eucharist ends up as a manifesto designed to keep many Catholics from receiving Communion at Mass.
Yes--that's exactly what it was. A "manifesto designed to keep many Catholics from receiving Communion at Mass." Holy God, what a talentless, dishonest hack. Most charitable interpretation: he's someone who passed the Black Hole of Idiocy event horizon sometime in 1972. Here is the entirety of the "manifesto," contained in one paragraph (of 97), No. 83:
Here it is important to consider what the Synod Fathers described as eucharistic consistency, a quality which our lives are objectively called to embody. Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: it demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms. These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature. There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them.
It can't be easy to be such a consistent, dishonest fraud/ or brain-dead doofus--but I guess Carroll just has the touch.
The ticket to Communion is an uncritical acceptance of what the pope calls, in a striking echo, "fundamental values," which include defense of human life "from conception to natural death." The key declaration is that "these values are not negotiable."
But culture consists precisely in negotiation of values, and change in how values are understood is part of life.
Translation: Scissors aren't being jammed into James Carroll's skull, or the skulls of anyone he gives a crap about, so he's copacetic. When Soylent Green is "Carroll! It's Carroll!" wake him up.
Moral reasoning is not mere obedience, but lively interaction among principles, situations, and the "human limitations" referred to in the 1993 Vatican statement.
Who's worshipping before the Great Encyclical Idol again? He's stretching an advisory statement on biblical hermeneutics into a template for moral reasoning.
Moral of the story: when making an ass of yourself, go for broke.
Take "conception." The great Thomas Aquinas depended on 13th-century notions of biology, and did not believe that human life began at conception.
This will be the last time Thomas Aquinas is cited positively. And note it's for his embryology. Care to deploy the Angelic Doctor's discussion of sin? Naaaaaah.
How did that turn out again? Never mind--Carroll disagrees, so watch the bunny! Watch the bunny!
Take "natural death." Disagreements over its meaning (including among Catholic bishops) were made vivid not long ago in the case of Terri Schiavo.
Guess he was delighted with how that one turned out. He does live in Pull-the-Plug's Paris' vicinity. And he did have Bp. Robert N. ["the 'N' stands for 'No-bid'"] Lynch on his side. What delightful company.
And JPII said no--to the great dismay of health insurers and Catholic bioethicists everywhere.
The pope affirms universal and unchanging "values grounded in human nature," as if human nature is fixed, instead of evolving. One detects here, too, a suspicion of Darwin, an invitation to "intellectual suicide."
One can "detect" many things, especially with a slow radon leak in the residence. Whether the things are actually there is another question entirely.
The various fundamentalisms are all concerned with "fortifying borders," and that is a purpose of today's Vatican. The pope's exhortation concludes by referring to the Catholic people as the "flock" entrusted to bishops.
Actually, jackass, it ends with this:
97. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may the Holy Spirit kindle within us the same ardour experienced by the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35) and renew our "eucharistic wonder" through the splendour and beauty radiating from the liturgical rite, the efficacious sign of the infinite beauty of the holy mystery of God. Those disciples arose and returned in haste to Jerusalem in order to share their joy with their brothers and sisters in the faith. True joy is found in recognizing that the Lord is still with us, our faithful companion along the way. The Eucharist makes us discover that Christ, risen from the dead, is our contemporary in the mystery of the Church, his body. Of this mystery of love we have become witnesses. Let us encourage one another to walk joyfully, our hearts filled with wonder, towards our encounter with the Holy Eucharist, so that we may experience and proclaim to others the truth of the words with which Jesus took leave of his disciples: "Lo, I am with you always, until the end of the world" (Mt 28:20).
Did reading comprehension also go out with Vatican II?
Sheep stay inside the fence. But what happens when Catholics stop thinking of themselves as sheep?
You forget that you need the Good Shepherd, which means that (a) you either get eaten by wolves, or (b) far, far worse: everything above the brain stem dies a slow gibbering death and you end up sounding just like James Carroll, whose column appears regularly in the Boston Globe.
The below YouTube is one of the funniest parodies I've ever seen. Full disclosure: my wife and I may be the only two people in St. Blog's who have seen Alanis Morisette in concert twice. Once at the Fisher and the second time at Pine Knob (I refuse to call it by the utility company name). And while I can take or leave a good deal of her music, she's really good in concert--none of that over-produced, hiding-behind-the-backup-singers, huffing-like-Darth-Vader-live for our Alanis (she's an American citizen now).
So I didn't know what to make of the following at first--but it is legit. It's Alanis Morisette, and she's eviscerating one of the most putrid tunes of recent times, the "Proud to be a Ho" anthem, "My Humps." By slowing it down and giving it a downbeat feel, she obliterates it. And not a moment too soon.
[Warning--the lyrics are offensive, juvenile and devoutly stupid. Which makes the parody all the more enjoyable.]
Glad you signed up--now start bailing!
[**With belated thanks to Anne Muggeridge, who came up with the brilliant metaphor.]
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
I went to Sweetest Heart of Mary in Detroit for Good Friday. Essentially, it's the cathedral for Motown's Polish community. The history of the parish and its founding pastor would make a good film, complete with a full-blown cult of personality, riots, schism and intervention by the nuncio. The church itself is a stunningly beautiful place, as the web tour demonstrates. It is also the subject of a continuing and careful restoration.
The ethnic origins of the parish are seen in the stained glass and Stations, which are labelled in Polish. On Good Fridays, they are seen in the Bitter Lamentations, or Gorzkie Zale, a sung dialogue on the Passion. With a program, I had no problem following along, and even singing, after a while. The Lamentations are things of piercing beauty--have a listen.
Another uniquely Polish tradition maintained at the parish is of the veiled monstrance placed on the tomb of Christ for adoration. I was glad I went--it brought out the mystery of the day in a new way.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The Detroit News, which mucks up the story by calling it a Catholic church--it's not, at least not as the term is commonly understood (Western or Eastern).
The Detroit Free Press, which is much better and also has a picture of one of the parishioners we met, Hanna Danielalbazy. The street address is wrong here.
Fox 2 News. This is probably the best, and contains a good look at the interior (the altar cross figures prominently) and interviews with two other parishioners we met, Youil Ishmail and Tony Silaw.
When we arrived, there were about 15 church members at the front entrance, including Father. Heather, good cradle Catholic that she is, noticed the Roman collar before I did. I went up, shook his hand and that of several other members and said we were appalled by what happened and wanted to help out.
He thanked us and said, "So, you want to see the church?" I was pleasantly surprised by the offer, and after several of the men and women offered a chorus of "yes" and "oh, sure"s, we went inside.
The first thing we were told is that they celebrate the Mass (yes, that's the term) in Aramaic, the language of Christ. They have a large bronze plaque in the vestibule which has the Lord's Prayer in that language. I was also gently and laughingly reminded that Aramaic (like Hebrew and Arabic) reads right to left.
"Like Michelangelo," Heather said.
"Exactly!" was the response.
Father and the parishioners take pride in the fact they are Assyrians, and emphasized that fact. For instance, Nineveh was their city.
"You've read Jonah? That was our city he warned. Now, just a few statues left there."
"Well, you listened," said Heather with a laugh.
"Yes, we listened to Jonah," Father responded, also laughing.
But the Assyrians still live.
"We are from Iraq, but we were there long before there was an Iraq. Mesopotamia, 4000 BC, we lived there. Now we are all over the world, too--North America, Australia, even Sweden."
That made the crude graffiti on the south side of the church (which faces away from the road) even more puzzling. The graffiti, which I won't describe in great detail, included two crosses, "Arabs die" and a suggestion to worship Jesus, along with the f-word.
"We aren't Arabs, and we worship the [same] God. The whole church is covered with crosses--how could someone miss that?"
As in the 45 mentioned above--and though you it's hard to see it in the picture, each of the windows has a matte finish cross about three feet high (which cast impressive shadows inside the church). The window crosses were about fifteen feet above the sprayed crosses.
Other details were pointed out--like the cross above the altar, which has Assyrian symbols for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and for "3 in 1", both in the center.
Father and the parishioners fully expect such an overflow crowd for the dedication of the church on May 6, which will be attended by representatives from the Assyrian community around the world. We'll tell you how it goes.
All in all, we spent about an hour there--our kids played with the parishioner's kids (and Rachel, in a mortifying moment, successfully begged for McDonald's fries from a 10 year old girl. "Oh, I was done," she gracefully said). All in all, we couldn't have met a nicer group of folks, nor ones less deserving of the indignities that were inflicted on them. If you get a chance, go to 4320 E. 14 Mile Road in Warren and offer them your support.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Just rare kudos for a couple of progressive Catholics whose views I often deplore:
(1) Roger Cardinal Mahony, thundering from the pulpit against a Catholic politico pushing for euthanasia; and
(2) Charles Curran, who admonished a fellow progressive and reminded her that "diversity" includes those in the pews to the right.
Wonder of wonders.
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