The Provincial Emails
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CHEAP WINE LOG
Well, not that cheap; it's New Year's Eve. It's Cobemckoe Ulamnanckoe, a semi-dry sparkling wine from the Crimea. Apparently fermented in the bottle, it produces plenty of tiny bubbles (no "frog's eyes"). Tasty enough and has novelty value: "How about some Ukrainian champagne?"
The New Science of Politics (1952), by Eric Voegelin
What specific uncertainty was so disturbing that it had to be overcome by the dubious means of fallacious immanentization? One does not have to look far afield for an answer. Uncertainty is the very essence of Christianity. The feeling of security in a "world full of gods" is lost with the gods themselves; when the world is de-divinized, communication with the world-transcendent God is reduced to the tenuous bond of faith, in the sense of Heb. 11:1, as the substance of things hoped for and the proof of things unseen. ...
Robot Fighter was a science fiction comic book that had brief run in early 1960's. I bought the first few issues before I "outgrew" comics.
The box of comics I left at my parents' home when I moved out was eventually thrown away. In used book stores, I would occasionally poke around the comics, but never saw a copy. One of my brothers told me he'd heard that Robot Fighter had become a collector's item, and that my issue 1 would be worth $1,000.
Recently I got around to searching eBay and found dozens of copies for sale. Some were literally described as copies that my contemporaries left at their parents' home that somehow didn't get thrown out. Old copies of Robot Fighter turn out to be affordable. Issue 1, in what the comics trade calls "near mint" condition, is valuable, but more like $100 than $1,000. For a couple hundred dollars anyone could probably collect the whole run. (Well, maybe a little more than that after adding in shipping. Items on eBay with asking prices of $1 or $2 sometimes add $4 or $5 shipping and handling. It's eBay; shouldn't the shippers have to bid for the business?)
As has happened in used books, the internet has made everything available, and all that's lost is that strange pleasure that can accompany unavailability, perhaps a little like if Dante heard that Beatrice had signed up with on-line dating service.
The cantor's greeting to the congregation just before the start of Mass this morning? "Happy Holidays."
This morning's newspaper reports on local Lutheran (ELCA) evangelization: Lake Park church uses video to attract members. And they don't just use video.
This summer, she [Rev. Jennifer Thomas] and some church volunteers went door-to-door in Lake Park's neighborhood.Someone from our parish made a personal visit to sign me up for our parish's recent building campaign. At a former parish, we made personal visits to follow-up with parishioners about signing their annual giving pledge cards. But visiting people to talk about what the Church believes, rather than about money? "I dunno, Davey."
Ideas Have Consequences (1948), by Richard M. Weaver
Here the conception of Plato--expressed certainly, too, by Christianity--of pursuing virtue until worldly consequence becomes a matter of indifference, stands in contrast. Aristotle remains a kind of natural historian of the virtues, observing and recording them as he observed techniques of the drama, but not thinking of a spiritual ideal. A life accommodated to this world and shunning the painful experience which extremes, including those of virtue, entail was what he proposed for his son, Nicomachus.
The Painted Word (1975), by Tom Wolfe
To be against what is new is not to be modern. Not to be modern is to write yourself out of the scene. Not to be in the scene is to be nowhere.
The Ancient Maya (2nd ed., 1947), by Sylvanus Griswold Morley
Some time during the fourth or third centuries before Christ, the Maya priests for the first time in the history of the human race devised a system of numeration by position, involving the conception and use of the mathematical quantity of zero, a tremendous abstract intellectual accomplishment.
The Crisis of Islam (2003), by Bernard Lewis
... many Muslims speak of the failure of modernization and respond to different diagnoses of the sickness of their society, with different prescriptions for its cure.
SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD
This morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports more than 50 clergy sexual abuse victims have entered into mediation with our Archdiocese in an effort to settle their claims.
The session, requested by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was arranged by Eva Soeka, the Marquette University professor whom Dolan named last month to design and manage a new dispute resolution system that church officials hope will finally heal festering sexual abuse issues.She really designed that system fast, you might think. No.
Although Soeka is still designing that system for individual cases, the eagerness of the survivors network to move ahead quickly with a group mediation while sexual-abuse legislation is still pending in Madison helped prompt Thursday's meeting.Maybe the Church can adopt this as a general practice, and mandate that every renovation requires paying a liturgical consultant, every meeting requires paying a facilitator, and every other move requires paying some other kind of consultant, but then we proceed without them. It's "win-win."
HARK! THE HERALD
The December 11, 2003 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.
That's the title of an article on a recent memorial service at Alverno College for some of the dead in Guatemala's civil war.
The ritual, sponsored by the Central Awareness Committee of Milwaukee, marked the 23rd anniversary of four church women murdered in Central America and celebrated the life of Guatemalan Bishop Juan Gerardi who was murdered in 1998, two days after releasing a report blaming the Guatemalan military for a majority of the 200,000 deaths and human rights violations that occurred during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war. Three senior officers -- retired Col. Disrael Lima Estrada, his son, Capt. Byron Lima Oliva, and Sgt. Jose Obdulio Villanueva -- each received 30-year sentences for Bishop Gerardi’s "extrajudicial execution," a charge that implied government involvement in the crime.Government involvement implied. Got it.
Fr. Mario Orantes, who shared a parish residence with Bishop Gerardi, received a 20-year sentence for his involvement in the murder.No implications here, move along.
"Many times during this ceremony, I thought of Guatemala," said [Guatemalan activist, Julia] Esquivel, speaking in Spanish. Her talk was translated into English by School Sister of Notre Dame Carol Dwyer. "I thought of many middle class persons and thought of many rich people for whom these martyrs do not exist."Which seems to say that the poor are more aware of them. For what it's worth, I can't confirm this class distinction after three mission trips to Guatemala.
Although the bishop was murdered, Esquivel said his presence is still felt among the people. The report that he was to release contains 12 volumes of documentation recording the many atrocities that occurred.Actually, the new church in Guatemala is usaually Pentecostal or Evangelical or Mormon. Whatever benefit there is for Guatemala from Church work for human rights or social justice, what draws people is a church that calls them to personal repentence and conversion and provides a local community to support it.
The letter is, of course, that sent by Bishop Burke of LaCrosse (since appointed Archbishop of St. Louis) to several Catholics of his diocese who are legislators.
Obtained through the state open records law, the letter to Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) questioned her voting record on life-related issues, including a vote against a bill allowing health care professionals to decline procedures violating their beliefs; a measure aimed directly at the large number of Catholic hospitals and health care organizations.There's a certain consistency to ignoring Church teaching when voting against a bill that would make it easier for other people to follow it.
"I call upon you to consider the consequences for your own spiritual well-being, as well as the scandal you risk by leading others into serious sin," Archbishop-elect Burke wrote in the letter to Lassa.If that much is at stake, perhaps the bishop should have tried to arrange a meeting, rather than send a letter.
The latest round of planning may lead to more parishes sharing pastors.
Now Fr. Michael Moran alone calls [Waupun's] St. Joseph home, splitting time at Brandon’s St. Brendan Parish and Springvale’s St. Mary Parish.This arrangement is now several years old.
"There has been some resistance," he said of his three years at St. Joseph. Often, he has been alone at criticism’s forefront.And, I suspect, he doesn't mean saying it in a letter.
A "cemetery head"? I guess you can call the new director that.
Champa is familiar with the archdiocese’s eight cemeteries, having served at one time as superintendent at All Saints, Holy Trinity, Mount Olivet, Resurrection, St. Adalbert and St. Joseph cemeteries.He comes in after previous managers were fired due to complaints from present and past employees and the families of the buried. He wants to make a fresh start ... up to a point.
Champa said he does not foresee changes to cemetery policy regarding grave site decorations.
I WILL GO IN TO THE ALTER OF GOD
Bishop Sklba reviews the background to the recent changes in the liturgy, such as when to kneel.
When this issue came to the floor of the American bishops’ conference a few years ago in the context of a new edition of the Sacramentary, I was personally in favor of reconforming our American practice [of kneeling throughout the entire Eucharistic prayer] to the more universal custom [of only kneeling at the institution narrative].My, he's taking that defeat surprisingly well. I would have thought he would say there should have been more consultation (... until his side wore down the opposition).
There should have been more consultation.... until his side wore down the opposition.
He agrees on the need for common practice.
What is our problem, however, at least in my experience, is the wide diversity in current practice from one parish to another.Or even within the same parish. My wife once asked why the same priest would say the doxology after the Lord's Prayer in "Catholic" form some weeks and in "Protestant" form on others. I said I didn't know and that, based on past experience, I doubted I would be able to get an answer. This struck her as odd since I had 16 years in Catholic schools and, at the time, I was president of the Parish Council.
Those priests and communion distributors who only know the rhythm of their own parish seldom sense the difficulty. Those of us who travel from one parish to another have a different vantage point. I remember visiting five different parishes in a single week, and becoming totally befuddled by the diversity.I'm mildly befuddled that I can download an Order of Worship to use for mass in Guatemala, but not at my parish. But raising such questions appears to be contrary to Archdiocesan policy.
These days there seems to be a sudden rise of unofficial "liturgical police" who spend more time in listing apparent rubrical violations, sometimes out of ignorance, than in praying. It is true that the liturgy belongs to the whole church, but it is also true, as the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy reminded pastors, that "more is required than the mere observation of laws governing valid and licit celebration (#11)."Doesn't that mean that observation of the laws is necessary but not sufficient, not that it might sometimes be regarded as unnecessary?
From The Economist, A Mary for all
In some respects, Muslim beliefs about Mary--the most honoured woman in Islam, and the only one to have an entire chapter named after her in the Koran--seem to be quite close to those of the Roman Catholics. The Islamic tradition holds that Jesus and his mother are the only two human souls who were not touched by Satan at birth. ...
At the time, a reader asked me for a reaction to Cardinal Law's resignation. Here's one from The Media Crisis: How the Church Failed.
A few hours before Bernard Cardinal Law resigned as archbishop of Boston, I was telling my colleagues in the Holy See Press Office that it wasn’t going to happen. ...
SMALL WORLD WIDE WEB
Robert Sutherland, who I had the pleasure of virtually knowing as a contributor to the Great Books Cafe, is the author of Putting God on Trial: The Biblical Book of Job. You will find more information about the book and some excerpts here.
A reader suggests this article from Cross Currents,
HARK! THE HERALD
That's the headline of an article in the December 4, 2003 Catholic Herald, now on-line with its permanent links.
Peace activists come in a variety of forms. Some at the School of the Americas protest at Fort Benning, Ga. Nov. 21-23 were wearing "Wisconsin Resists" T-shirts, bearing pictures of Wisconsinites who have crossed the line onto military property at previous protests and gone to prison for it.I can believe that nuns would scrounge up some habits to wear to a protest, but the photo accompanying the article doesn't show any.
The nuns are carrying what looks like a felt banner. Some might consider that habit to be wearing.
The Sixteen Documents of Vatican II, N.C.W.C. translation
For these reasons, based on the mystery of Christ and His mission, celibacy, which was first recommended to priests, later in the Latin Church was imposed upon all who were to be promoted to sacred orders. This legislation, pertaining to those who are destined for the priesthood, this holy synod again approves and confirms, fully trusting this gift of the Spirit so fitting for the priesthood of the New Testament, freely given by the Father, provided that those who participate in the priesthood of Christ through the sacrament of Orders--and also the whole Church--humbly and fervently pray for it.
A reader points out this article from the Los Angeles Times,
HARK! THE HERALD
The November 27, 2003 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links. It includes articles on protests at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, Georgia, regarded by the protestors as the successor to the School of the Americas, and on the origin of the protests.
A reader notes this article in The Capital Times on Bishop Burke's recent letters to legislators,
And the reason a similar letter was not sent to legislators who support the death penalty is--?There is a letter from all the state's bishops, including Bishop Burke, on Capital Punishment in Wisconsin.
As we apply Catholic teaching to the situation in Wisconsin, we conclude the "practically nonexistent" cases referred to by the Pope are not found in our state and that nothing in Wisconsin's experience justifies restoring capital punishment.Some suggest that capital punishment might be needed in the case of the murder by inmates of prison guards, but the bishops answer that guards are never killed by inmates.
Wisconsin prison guards are almost never killed by prisoners.
The December 4, 2003 New York Review of Books on The Vanishing Case for War.
The American case for war begins with the fact of Iraqi weapons programs uncovered after the first Gulf War in 1991. Under the terms of the cease-fire that ended the fighting, UN inspectors over a period of years found and destroyed a wide range of munitions as well as ongoing programs for making chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. But in 1998, following years of obstruction by Saddam Hussein, the UN inspection teams left Iraq and in effect turned over the problem of monitoring Iraqi weapons development to American intelligence organizations. The UN strongly suspected, and the CIA believed, that Iraq still had large undetected stocks of banned weapons and ongoing programs to build more.Fast forward to Secretary of State Powell at the United Nations.
...Saddam Hussein's government had released a 12,000-page report claiming that stocks of banned weapons had been destroyed, and prohibited weapons programs had been ended. This report had been roundly attacked for failing to back up Iraq's claim that it had destroyed chemical and bacterial weapons with documents proving it had done so--a failure still unexplained.
Concerning Being and Essence, by St. Thomas Aquinas, translated by George G. Leckie (1937)
And because each and every thing is individuated from its matter and disposed in a genus or species by virtue of its form, therefore, accidents which ensue from matter are accidents of the individual, according to which individuals of the same species differ from one another. But the accidents which ensue from form are proper passions of the genus or of the species, whence they are found in all things participating in the nature of the genus of of the species, as for instance, risibility in man ensues from the form, since a laugh arises from some apprehension in the soul of a man.
Back at Florence's airport, we have some time to kill. There's a coffee bar, and a capuccino is 1 Euro (about $1.20 at the current exchange rate). There are only six gates, and they're all together. Passengers take a bus to and from their planes, so waiting for our flight does have a bit of the feel of waiting for a bus.
We have a good view of the Alps as we head for Munich. Munich Airport has enough stores to pass for a shopping mall. The security scan at our gate was pretty sensitive; the foil on one stick of gum set it off. And we had to show our passports three or four times before boarding.
Although the trip was booked as by Lufthansa, the flight over was on United and the hops to and from Florence were on Lufthansa Cityline. This is our first actual Lufthansa flight.
The United flight was on a Boeing 777. This Lufthansa flight is on an Airbus A340. The biggest difference I've noticed between airplanes by the two companies is that an Airbus rattles and squeeks more, especially when taxiing.
Lufthansa is, of course, a German airline. Stereotyping, one might expect it to be obsessive about something. The something turns out to be making money. The in-flight video has more of what I have to call commercials than I've ever seen on an airplane. One was for the Lufthansa Bodybelt (5 Euro), sort of a personal carry-all. When they announced this, my wife asked "Did they say 'Lufthansa bodybag'?"
While the eastbound overnight flight can be tough, these westbound flights seem interminable. The flight is literally slower because of the prevailing westerly headwinds, and flying "with" the time changes, time almost seems to stand still. It's about nine hours in the air but only about two hours by the clock. If I didn't pack books, it could be mighty boring.
A Handful of Dust (1934), by Evelyn Waugh
Half an hour later they got into Jock's car.
This morning's culture stop is the Buonarroti House, a Michelangelo Museum started by his nephew. One piece I hoped to see here was a wooden crucifix, one of Michelangelo's earlier works, but it had been returned to the Church of Santo Spirito, across the Arno.
No harm done; there was plenty of shopping along the way. The Ponte Vecchio has mostly jewelry shops. Across the Arno, we bought small gifts: olive oils, wines, designer household items.
Santo Spirto is a little scruffy, its stucco in need of some repair, and its side plaza a bit weedy. And it was closed for several hours at mid-day.
So we headed east and south, through the old city wall, and started climbing toward the Church of San Miniato al Monte. Along the stairs up the hill were the Stations of the Cross. (My wife inquired if I shouldn't be taking the stairs on my knees, but instead I offered up not replying.) The church was built in the 11th to 13th centuries. Its facade was the familiar white, green and red marbles.
After the long walk back, we again reached Santo Spirito, which was now reopened. The interior is very dimly lit, making it difficult to make out the enormous paintings that line the walls. After walking most of the way around the interior, we found the entrance to the sacristy, in which hangs the Michelangelo crucifix.
Back in the church, there were a number of electric vigil lamp stands, but only a few candles. I can't remember the last time I lit a vigil candle, but I lit one here.
As we neared the Piazza della Repubblica, there was music, which we then saw was from a small marching band. Among its selections were the theme songs to Peter Gunn and The Flintstones.
It was a long day of walking. I almost looked forward to tomorrow's ten or eleven hours sitting on airplanes.
Science, Faith and Society (1946), by Michael Polanyi
The scientist's intuition can integrate widely dispersed data, camouflaged by sundry irrelevant connexions, and indeed seek out such data by experiments guided by a dim foreknowledge of the possibilities which lie ahead. These perceptions may be erroneous; just as the shape of a camouflaged body may be erroneously perceived in everyday life. I am concerned here only with showing that some of the characteristic features of the propositions of science exclude the possibility of deriving these by definite operations applied to primary observations; and to demonstrate that the process of their discovery must involve an intuitive perception of the real structure of nature phenomena.