Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Don't "Adopt a Parish"

Professor Bainbridge declines Hugh Hewitt's suggestion that people find a hurricane-damaged congregation to help.
Why? Because of the decision recently reached by the judge supervising the Diocese of Spokane's bankruptcy case. ...

In other words, giving money to a specific parish these days for a specific purpose like Katrina relief is no longer safe from the claims of sex abuse litigants. I firmly believe that the Church needs to compensate the victims of priestly sex abuse, but I also don't want money I give to hurricane relief being diverted to other purposes and, in particular, I don't want it to end up in some trial lawyer's contingent fee.

In an update he adds,
There may not be much risk, but I'm disinclined to take any risk on this issue.

Seems to me this risk exists not only in giving to a parish elsewhere but to one's own parish, if one lives in a jurisdiction in which title to all Church property is in the bishop as a "corporation sole," more or less equivalent to him acting as a trustee.

We don't have that situation in Wisconsin; by statute, each parish is a separate corporation. But if the standard is zero risk, there is more than zero chance that a court somewhere someday somehow would find that assets of Catholic Charities are subject to claims of creditors of a diocese. That hardly seems like enough risk to deter giving.

On the other hand, I don't give to the local Catholic Charities because of the 100% risk that it has been contributing to Wisconsin Public Radio.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wanted: Rituals for leaving the church

Fr. Michael Kerper from the August 27, 2005 In Good Faith column of the Portsmouth Herald.
... ancient rituals, which have immense symbolic richness, make it abundantly clear that a person has become a full-fledged member of a specific community of faith. In a sense, the person is "marked" or "branded" as a permanent member.

What about the impermanent member, he asks.
Today not everyone initiated into a religion wants to continue his or her membership. How, then, does a sincere person get out?

So we need an exit ritual.
Take the Roman Catholic Church.

Please!? No, sorry, a ritual cannot be that simple.
During the past 25 years, the church has vastly enriched its process of initiation, at least for adults. But perhaps the time has come to direct some creative energy in the opposite direction. In short, the Catholic Church, indeed all churches, would benefit from "rites of de-initiation," the reversal of the traditional rites of initiation.

Here's my first draft:
Rite of Christian De-initiation for Adults (proposed): At the beginning of the Saturday evening Mass, the departing parishioner leads the entrance procession; the theme from "Branded" is played. At the altar, the departing parishioner climbs the steps, if any, to the altar, faces the assembled congregation, extends the right arm and waves. The presider joins the parishioner before the altar. The presider holds out his hand and the parishioner surrenders any remaining weekly envelopes. The now ex-parishioner then leaves; during this recessional, the assembly extends right arms and waves while "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Good Bye" is played.

(via Ut Unum Sint)

Monday, August 29, 2005

How Taize changed the church

Steve Tomkins, Church historian, writes at the BBC on various influences of Brother Roger Schutz and Taize.
Another characteristic of Taize is stretches of silence. A prayer service may have a ten-minute silence in the middle. The brothers explain the reason for this: "If with a childlike trust we let Christ pray silently within us, then one day we shall discover that the depths of our being are inhabited by a Presence."

Judge defines Spokane Diocese assets broadly

You might recall that Spokane Bishop William Skylstad had his diocese file for bankruptcy because of clergy sexual abuse claims. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has now ruled that parish assets are subject to claims of the diocese's creditors, and so might be sold to pay their claims.
"We applaud this decision and hope it speeds the day when hundreds of deeply wounded and still hurting abuse victims get some relief and healing," Clohessy [David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests] said, adding he hoped "bishops will act more like caring shepherds and less like cold-hearted CEOs."

A "cold-hearted" CEO would not have let his organization be put in danger of liquidation by sexual shenanigans of subordinates. Soft-headed, not cold-hearted, might be the appropriate adjective.

Fortunately for Bishop Skylstad there do not appear to be any leadership abilities required to head the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. By protocol, he was next in line for the position, and the bankruptcy of his diocese didn't keep him from being voted in by his peers.

Perhaps we'll hear his fellow American bishops talk of him as a possible future pope, if he can figure out a way to bankrupt the Church nationwide.

[Associated press at MSNBC 9:49 p.m. ET August 26, 2005]

Did Vatican II Reject The "Social Reign" Of Jesus Christ?

Arthur M. Hippler wrote in The Wanderer of July 14, 2005
It is a common enough opinion that the social reign of Jesus Christ, proclaimed so clearly by Pius XI in Quas Primas and commemorated every year in the Feast of Christ the King, was abandoned or rejected by the Second Vatican Council.

And he goes on to attempt to show that this is not so.
Liberals (and traditionalists) may at this point reasonably object: "If the Second Vatican Council and John XXIII clearly believed and preached the social reign of Jesus Christ, why is it no longer reaffirmed in teaching? Why did everyone after the council act as if Quas Primas had never been written?" Certainly, many things that were proclaimed and enacted during the council were discarded afterward. Pope John XXIII, to use one example, was spared the indignity of seeing his apostolic constitution On the Use of Latin (Veterum Sapientiae), promulgated during the council in the assembly of bishops and cardinals, vanish from public knowledge immediately after the council; many collections of Pope John's writings do not include it, and most biographies do not mention it.

While Quas Primas is on the Vatican web site in English, Veterum Sapientiae appears to only be available there in Italian. I did find it in English at the Vancouver Traditional Mass Society. [Or, if no longer there, at Adoremus. --ed.] Pope John concludes
With the foregoing considerations in mind, to which We have given careful thought, We now, in the full consciousness of Our office and in virtue of Our authority, decree and command the following: ...

Followed by a series of instructions to bishops and others on the use of Latin which, believe it or not, do not appear to have been followed since.

I don't know that the Church could retrace its steps and implement Pope John's instructions, but it might be a place to begin retracing steps in a failure analysis of the Second Vatican Council.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

How bent spaghetti break

B. Audoly and S. Neukirch solve a problem in physics that baffled even Richard Feynman.
Bent dry spaghetti do not break in half but instead in three of more pieces.

(via The Economist)

Friday, August 26, 2005

The sorrow of a war-torn world

This Herald of Hope column by Bishop Richard J. Sklba appeared in the in the Catholic Herald of August 11, 2005. He begins with the Second Vatican Council, especially its "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World" (Gaudium et spes), and particularly Part II, Chapter V on "The fostering of peace and the promotion of a community or nations."

He then cites the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Though debated over the years, the vast majority of Catholic theologians have concluded that the use by the United States of those nuclear bombs was morally wrong, no matter what the intention may have been. The end never justifies the means.

Let's apply that principle to the following.
"Take the appointment of Bishop Sklba. The Wisconsin province had recommended Father Richard Sklba as an auxilary bishop for the Milwaukee archdiocese, and in 1979 the word came down that he was about to be named. ...
Then, between the time of the announcement and the date of his consecration, I got a phone call: The Vatican was going to cancel the appointment.

"Not long before, Sklba had chaired a Catholic Biblical Association committee that was charged with examining whether Holy Scripture precluded the ordination of women. In his rather lengthy report was a line or two stating that Scripture in fact did not preclude women priests, and pointing out that the fact that the Apostles were all men couldn't in itself be used to defend an all-male clergy. ...

"I couldn't let that [cancelation] happen. ...
Cardinal Casaroli, [Pope John Paul II's] secretary of state ...
asked us to draft some sort of statement, acceptable to the Pope, that would in essence have Sklba back down from his position. We drafted something -- not a backing down but an attempt to put Sklba's statement in the context of church teaching -- and the word came back that the Pope said no. We drafted another statement and waited. Dick was to be consecrated on a Wednesday. ...
Finally, late Saturday night, we got word that the Pope had approved, but with the stipulation that the statement appear in the Milwaukee papers on Tuesday, the day before Sklba's consecration. Well, the papers not only didn't play the statement as Sklba backing down but gave it the angle that he stood behind what he had originally written. We sent the articles on to Rome, but, fortunately, it being the pre-fax era, they didn't arrive in time for Rome to respond. So, while Sklba's career was certainly stalemated right off the bat, he was consecrated a bishop."

--Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, quoted in The Education of an Archbishop (1992), by Paul Wilkes, pp. 58-59

Archbishop Weakland and Father Sklba used the means of misleading the Vatican to achieve the end of Sklba being made a bishop. It might enhance Bishop Sklba's episcopal pronouncements on ends and means if he'd revisit the circumstances of his elevation.

He raises the following as, apparently, relevant the morality of the current hostilities in Iraq.

The very fact that Pentagon officials admit that they do not keep count of Iraqi casualties suggests to many observers that we cannot bear facing the full impact of the human damage being caused.

I assumed this was because the Pentagon does not have enemy casualties, in themselves, as a goal. Odd that Bishop Sklba claims he can discern otherwise. He conspicuously failed to telephone victims of clerical sexual abuse. Perhaps its his omissions which ought to be attributed to an inability to "bear facing the full impact of the human damage being caused."


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, August 18-21

Why no posting? Vacation. And post-vacation catching up with other things. What follows is a blogging equivalent of travel slides.

Hampton Beach had been a sidelight to a trip to Manchester for my wife's knitting conference and an opportunity to see her brother who lives in Massachusetts. The conference was elsewhere this year and, after we booked the trip anyway, we saw her brother and nephews when they came here for the EAA.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

We left Milwaukee just after dawn and changed planes at Chicago O'Hare for the flight to Boston. The food service was a granola bar but it's better than the airline asking us to chip in for gas. We arrived mid-day, giving us plenty of time to drive the Maine Turnpike to the outlet shopping in Freeport. The big news along the way was that the Turnpike had changed exit numbers from consecutive to mile marker. In Freeport, I managed to find some husband-seating for reading one of the books I'd brought. My wife prevails on me to look in Brooks Brothers little basement store, where I wind up buying a suit ... for $40! We refrain from buying any of the local blueberry wine, but on the way out of town do stop at a roadsign stand for a pint of those tiny sweet wild blueberries.

We arrived in Hampton Beach by evening. We checked into the Ashworth by the Sea, which name always gets that Bobby Darin song running through my head. We wanted a room with a balcony but at a relatively reasonable price, which means a balcony overlooking the kitchen exhuast fans.

The Hampton Beach boardwalk buildings seem largely unchanged from around the 1940s. From the intervening decades, Huey Lewis and the News were on the Hampton Beach Casino marquee for Friday night. More up-to-date, some middle school boys were singing along to some hip-hop music at a storefront pizza shop, passing around a two liter Pepsi to practice for the move up to a forty ounce malt liquor.

Friday, August 19, 2005

We hit the beach, with our beach tarp we'd packed and the new SPF 15 beach umbrella and beach spade we'd bought on the boardwalk the night before. The spade made quick work of constructing a beach chair of sand. I finally conceded that the beach is not the place to try to read stuff like Joyce or Nozick, and instead passed the hours with Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Cooler and light rain, so we head back to Maine. Not for the outlet shopping of Freeport, but for the outlet shopping of Kittery. It seemed that, since it was not beach weather, everyone else has similar ideas, and we hit several traffic jams on U.S. 1 in the course of the day. After Kittery we stop at Douglas N. Harding Rare Books in Wells. Reasonably priced and one of the neatest and best-organized shops we've seen. Then it's on to Kennebunkport.

After a long search, delayed by traffic and an apparent Maine law against signs for directing visitors to local attractions, we finally find the Seashore Trolley Museum. At the entrance sits a Milwaukee County Transit System bus. The collection includes car 420 of the North Shore Line, a Chicago to Milwaukee interurban line, the main line of which ran behind by childhood home. The restored equipment is in large storage sheds. You can get a close-up view and sometimes board, but you can't see them as if they were in service. Admission includes a trolley ride of several miles though the countryside, a nice contrast after all the traffic on the way here.

For the drive home, we take the Turnpike, which isn't crowded, and make it in time for Mass at St. Patrick's in Hampton Beach. Except for the altar table, the interior is largely as it was throughout the 20th Century, including a communion rail. Some materials on the history of the church tell how it was built to serve the many vacationers in the area, and that it was expanded several time to serve the growing crowds. Tonight attendance is sparse, and we're on the young end of the demographics.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

We leave at dawn for Boston. Having not planned the return trip, we make at least one wrong turn. Back on track, we spot a bus marked for Logan Airport and follow it in. Another airline granola bar breakfast to Chicago, the hop to Milwaukee, and we're home, with a beach spade and another beach umbrella.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

NBC's 'Book of Daniel' features Episcopal angle

Pat McCaughan at the Episcopal News Service reports on this new TV series.
A pilot episode for "The Book of Daniel," was filmed at All Saints Church in Pasadena, where Quinn portrays Daniel, a young, liberal priest and father who clashes frequently with his conservative bishop, Dr. Beatrice Congreve, played by Ellen Burstyn.

Family, but is he married, and if so who plays his wife or husband?
(via Diogenes at Off the Record)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Crucifixes in government buildings

"It is important that God is present in public life, with the sign of the cross, in homes and public buildings," the Italian news agency ANSA quoted the pontiff as saying during his homily in a parish church in Castel Gandolfo, the hill town outside Rome where the Vatican has its vacation retreat.

(via Drudge Report)

If, as the headline writer interprets him, he means displaying crucifixes, before we get to government buildings, I'd suggest we start with our church at St. Al's.

The story is told that when the church was built in the 1980's, some parishioners wanted a crucifix. Rather than try to justify telling them no, they were told that if they wanted one, they'd have to raise the money to pay for it. Which they easily did. What the parish bought was a cross and statues of the Crucified Christ and the Risen Christ. In practice, we have a crucifix on Good Friday, and the rest of the year Jesus and the Amazing Liturgical Color Dreamcoat.

So when our building fund drive came along a few years ago with the architects renderings of a new chapel with a design suggesting a traditional church, I found it rather appealing while I was pretty sure it would never be built that way. I pledged, and it wasn't.

A Good Read Spoiled

Dog-ears? Ouch!

Here's How to Mark a Book.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Designed for Sex

Catchy title.

J. Budziszewski says,

In the '80s, if I suggested in class that there might be any problem with sexual liberation, they said that everything was fine-what was I talking about? Now if I raise questions, many of them speak differently. Although they still live like libertines, it's getting old. They are beginning to sound like the children of third-generation Maoists.

Touchstone June 2005

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Labyrinths: The Inward Journey

Her labyrinth
Gerilyn Wartonick Herold in the August 2005 St. Anthony Messenger says Amid life's twists and turns, the ancient practice of walking labyrinths is a way to regroup, recharge and reconnect with God.

And relandscape, even if you don't walk it.

Spiritual Activism: The Religious Left Fights Back - On All Fronts

Editor Michael Lerner publishes Van Jones's praise of Rabbi Michael Lerner.
He wants to do more than just minister to the Mall-lobotomized masses ...

Let's hope all that metaphorical stooping isn't hard on the rabbi's back.
Tikkun July 21, 2005

Social Security: A Covenant for the Common Good

Jim Wallis writes in Sojourners,
There is no trust more sacred to biblical faith than the injunctions to care not only for our immediate families but also the larger family of all humanity. We are commanded to "Honor your father and your mother," and care for those in need.

When he refers to "biblical faith" it would help if he'd quote specifically what the Bible says about caring for those in need, just in case anyone's skeptical that a national payroll tax-based pension system is specified.
But at this time, with Social Security and basic supports for all people at risk, we must raise a prophetic voice about national commitments.

He might also want to cite what in the Bible shows that their voices are more "prophetic" than the voices of people who disagree with them.

What's In A Name?

The New York Times on "Partial-birth" Abortion
by Kenneth L. Woodward, Contributing Editor, Newsweek
From my computer analysis, I think it is obvious that the Times regards "partial-birth" as a toxic term.

republished from the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy

Sheboygan parish, community begin healing process after Fr. Jarumbo's death

In the Catholic Herald of August 11, 2005, Sam Lucero reports on the July 30, 2005 death and the subsequent funeral of Fr. James Jarumbo, pastor of St. Dominic Church in Sheboygan, as well as on the effect of his death on his parish. It's a two page spread with color photos.

Usually the death of one of our priests is marked by the Herald with a half column and small black and white portrait. What was it about Fr. Jarumbo and his death that there was such extensive coverage?

He killed himself.

The article, in passing, spells out the contrast between the practice it describes at length and what's preached.

In the Catholic Church, suicide has the stigma of going against God's plan.

"Show me," you might ask Archbishop Dolan, a Missouri native.
Although Fr. Jarumbo knew church teachings "forward and backward," he was open to new ideas, said Puls. [Jean Puls, coordinator of high school religious education and sacramental preparation at St. Dominic]

And one of those new ideas is that there ought to be no stigma in suicide. The Herald of August 4, 2005 ran this column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser in which he said,
Even though we know better, we're still haunted by the feeling that suicide is the ultimate act of despair, a deed that somehow puts one outside the family of humanity, the mercy of God, and (in the past) the church's burial grounds.

May God have mercy on Fr. Jarumbo's soul.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Accurate Listing of Funeral Music

In comments to an earlier post, the question came up of what President Kennedy's funeral mass was like. I have not found a video, but did find this listing of the music, by Irving Lowens, the paper's music critic, in the Washington Star of December 1, 1963.
12:13 p.m.: The bronze doors of the cathedral close and the requiem mass commences. The choral music during the mass was sung by the St. Matthew's Choir, Eugene Stewart, organist and choirmaster; the tenor soloist was Luigi Vena. The Program was as follows: "Subvenite" (choir); "Pie Jesu," Leybach (tenor solo); "Ave Maria," Shubert (tenor solo); "In Manus Tuus," Novello (tenor solo); "Sanctus and Benedictus," Perosi (choir); "Agnus Dei," Bizet (tenor solo); "In Paradisum" (choir). Mr. Stewart conducted the Perosi "Sanctus and Benedictus," the Gregorian "Subvenite" and the "In Paradisum" were led by James Walsh.

In a comment, Dad29 recalls Mozart's Requiem at the funeral. What he's probably remembering is
... the recording of Mozart's Requiem Mass as performed by the Boston Symphony and the Chorus Pro Musica with the Harvard and Radcliffe Glee Clubs and the Seminarians of St. John's. This was recorded at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston on January 19, 1964.

The full Requiem Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Cushing, with Mozart's music performed in context.

Truth shall set you free

In his Herald of Hope column in the Catholic Herald of August 4, 2005, Archbishop Dolan tells of a conversation with an old friend, who said,
"Tim, I worry you're putting weight back on. You were doing so well this time last year, when you had lost about 35 pounds. You told me how much better you were feeling, how much more pep you had, how you weren't perspiring as much. But now you're bloating back up again." ...

Then, after a big piece of blueberry pie, with some ice cream on top, I calmed down. Because, guess what! He's right! He's telling the truth! Which is why he is a good, wise, and loyal friend, which is why I need him.

By that standard, I never saw any indication that Archbishop Weakland had any friends, except the people he thought were his enemies.

I do worry whether Archbishop Dolan takes care of himself. His father died young, of a heart attack if I recall. And if what one of my commenters has said is true, some Archdiocesan staff might like to put Archbishop Dolan on a Julianne Malveaux diet plan.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Twenty years after rebirth, Messmer continues to celebrate

John Heiderscheidt reviewed the attempt by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to close Messmer High School in the Catholic Herald August 4, 2005. This was in the 1980s, and was thwarted by parents and students.

If someone writes an account of Archbishop Weakland's administration, the attempt to close Messmer might be a chapter all by itself. The article recalls the hierarchical hardball, closing the school a week early to thwart possible protests, and immediatey removing furnishings to make independent operation more difficult.

That's when Peter Salza, a local lawyer and member of the committee, got a temporary injunction to stop the pillaging of Messmer.

First rape, then pillage. Maybe that could be the chapter title.

Weighing Doubt: One Playwright's Measured Look at the Crisis in the Catholic Church

Joan Frawley Desmond reviews the play favorably. [Spoiler alert]
Sister Aloysius may lack allies, but not stamina. When Father Flynn returns to threaten her with expulsion, she retrieves another round of ammunition from her cache. She tells the priest that she called his previous parishes and learned that he was forced to leave them after similar accusations were leveled against him. The priest buckles and calls the bishop, asking to be reassigned. Later, Sister Aloysius reports the less-than-satisfactory denouement to Sister James: The bishop has appointed Father Flynn pastor of another parish with full authority over the attached school. The principal now reveals that her remarks about the priest's past record were a fabrication-she never called Father Flynn's previous parishes. Still, she believes that the priest's decision to depart without a fight confirms his guilt.

Sister James asks Sister Aloysius if she really thinks she did the right thing. "Oh, Sister James, I have doubts," Sister Aloysius replies, her lowered voice shaking.

Crisis June 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Archbishop Dolan on "Morning Air"

Relevant Radio emails that,
Archbishop Dolan will be interviewed live on "Morning Air" tomorrow (Thursday, August 11) between 8-8:30 a.m. Please tune in to either 100.1FM [Port Washington] or 1550AM [Lake Geneva] to hear Archbishop Dolan's story on how he came to find his vocation to the priesthood.

Since he's on the network, I assume locally he could also be heard on 820AM out of Chicago.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

U.S. Energy and Transportation Bills Doom Planet

Michael T. Neuman of Madison Indymedia says President Bush to Sign Both Anyway.

I assume this means "Will doom planet" was not in any accompanying EIS.

The public life of the fetus

Amy Welborn says, it the above post,
How I wish we could love little, helpless , dependent children, instead of being so threatened by them.

She just might not be speaking figuratively. For example, in the summary of Sacred Choices, a book edited by Daniel Maguire that surveys what it says are positions within various religious traditions.
Judaism, like most religions, begins with the mandate to "choose life." It recognizes however, that choosing life can at times mean choosing death, as in cases of killing in self defense. There can, according to Judaism, also be occasions to defend values essential to life by choosing an abortion.

That juxtaposition certainly seems to associate abortion and killing justified by self defense.

The Empire/Servility Syndrome

This is a draft of the first chapter of the book A Moral Creed for All Christians by Daniel C. Maguire, online at The Religious Consultation on population, reproductive health & ethics.
(via Marquette Warrior)

Maquire's thesis is that

Jesus ... was not killed so that his suffering would expiate for our sins... . No, Jesus was crucified as a rebel against empire.

There's a similar sentiment in the USCCB pamphlet on dramatizations of the Passion. [PDF].

Accept this, and the Life of Jesus becomes The Life of Brian.

Live Report Back from the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba

Missed it, it was yesterday at 7:00 p.m.
For the first time in 10 years the U.S. government directly interfered with the Caravan -- despite the fact that these Friendshipments [sic] constitute nonviolent civil disobedience to the US restrictions on travel to Cuba.

"Despite" no doubt referring to the mystery of inaction the other nine years.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

"Living Vatican II"

Pontifications presents an essay by George Sim Johnston.
If the Church was in such good shape before the council, why did things fall apart so rapidly in the 1960s?

Maybe because too many people thought of renewal as in urban renewal, and treated the implementation of the Council like a slum clearance project.

God the Economist

Catherine and Andy Crouch on John Polkinghorne's Trinitarian reality.
Not long ago we were deep in conversation with friends (another physicist-writer married couple, as it happens) who asked Catherine with genuine curiosity how she reconciled being a Christian with being a scientist. When Catherine mentioned that she found the "theory" of the resurrection of Jesus to be by far the best explanation of the available historical evidence, one of them exclaimed, "I've never heard anyone talk about religious belief as based on evidence!" If many scientists have rarely encountered people of faith who expect their beliefs to be anchored in observable reality, that is not necessarily the scientists' fault.

Books & Culture, July/August 2005

Monday, August 8, 2005

John Paul II's Milwaukee connection

Fr John Walter in the July 2005 issue of A.D. 2000:
Only a few in the know would appreciate that the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, spoke English with a Milwaukee accent. A well kept secret, it came about this way.

I still fight oppression

Nick Cohen in The Observer of August 7, 2005 on his "excommunication" from the British left.
The least attractive characteristic of the middle-class left - one shared with the Thatcherites - is its refusal to accept that its opponents are sincere. The legacy of Marx and Freud allows it to dismiss criticisms as masks which hide corruption, class interests, racism, sexism - any motive can be implied except fundamental differences of principle.

(via American Thinker)

Broadcast stories

Back in my mid-teens, three friends and I had a hobby "unlicensed" AM radio station. Saw two of them yesterday at a sort-of 39th anniversary reunion.

We started out using a Knight-Kit Wireless Broadcaster (as seen in Popular Electronics).

Instead of concentrating on programming, we worked to broadcast with more power. One of our group had been active in amateur (HAM) radio. We modified his equipment to use for broadcasting. This soon brought us to the attention of the Federal Communications Commission. Their representative made a personal visit to our basement rec room studio to take us off the air.

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Liturgiam authentican - ideas for starting again

Having trouble putting into words the problem with people involved in contemporary liturgy? Let Peter Jeffery do it for you.
It may seem absurd that liturgically sensitive people should feel alienated from a liturgy that tries so hard to reach out to people through everyday language and popular music.

We Believe May 2005 [PDF] p. 4, from Worship June 2004

The absurdity is thinking there should be a necessary connection between the amount of effort and actual success. Yet such thinking seems to be everywhere. Raise a liturgical issue and it will be treated as an accusation that the people responsible for liturgy weren't trying or had bad intentions.

This reached the point at St. Al's that, at one parish council meeting, someone said there obviously were problems but we couldn't say anything to the Liturgy Committee because it would send them into a tizzy. There had been a parish survey years before and a few unfavorable results on liturgy still left the committee nursing hurt feelings.

Do you notice how this all insulates both the committee and the council from any accountablity to the parishioners? Raise an issue or point out a fact and you're trying to hurt someone's feelings. Instead, they have to be left doing things as they see fit.

Never Give In

Karl Keating in his e-letter of August 2, 2005 counsels not to fall into remorse. For example, he says,
I spent twelve years practicing law and was grateful to leave that line of work. It turned out to be something I was not especially suited for, or perhaps it was not suited to me. I ended up entering a line of work I much enjoy, one that I imagine I have some facility at.

That is, Catholic apologetics.

I concede they're distinct fields, but it's not obvious to me that someone ill-suited for law is likely to be well-suited for apologetics.

In Sympathy

Last week's parish bulletin [PDF] listed parishioners who died recently. They were named Catherine, Dolores, Eshter, Marguerite, Mira, Anthony, Charles, Edward, James, John (2), Joseph, Richard, and Thomas.

It also listed the recently baptised. They were named Alexandra, Amanda, Andriana, Audra, Deanna, Gillian, Isabelle, Jade, Carter, Devin, Gavin, Jake, Liam, and Matthew.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

R.I.P. Robert Jost

Attended the funeral today for the father of Kenneth Jost, my friend, high school classmate, and long ago co-editor-in-chief.

Do We Need the Right Kind of Bishops More Than We Need the Right Kind of Pope?

Charles M. Wilson of the St. Joseph Foundation writes,
The Pope and the College of Bishops should be one, as indeed they are. However, our Lord entrusted the care of His Church not to angels but to men, imperfect and sinful as we are. Thus, as might be expected, over the last two thousand years some individual bishops or groups of bishops have strayed from the authentic teachings and discipline of the Church. Others, while professing orthodoxy themselves, failed to see to it that those who assisted them in transmitting the faith adhered to it themselves. Still others, including some Popes, showed themselves to suffer human weaknesses to such a degree that their own faith as well as their effectiveness as shepherds was called into question. Sadly but not surprisingly, we have seen some of these difficulties continue in our own age. While they will not be eliminated, the question remains: Can they be alleviated? In my mind, this depends upon two things. The first is insuring in so far as possible that those called to the episcopate possess the qualifications required by law. The second is finding more effective ways to support, guide and correct diocesan bishops in the exercise of their offices; or, if all else fails, to intervene by the application of canonical penalties, not excluding deprivation of office.

Christifidelis July 11, 2005

How high ought that standard for removing a bishop be? Like the legal standard for deprivation of parental rights? Or like removing a shepherd for animal neglect (the "better than mutton" standard)?

Life Begins at Conception--if You're a Panda

"A 13-year-old giant panda gave birth to a cub at San Diego Zoo, but a second baby died in the womb, officials said Wednesday."--Associated Press, Aug. 3

"A cancer-ravaged woman robbed of consciousness by a stroke has given birth after being kept on life support for three months to give her fetus extra time to develop."--Associated Press, Aug. 3

Opinion Journal "Best of the Web Today, August 3, 2005
(via BettNett)

Friday, August 5, 2005

Faithful Furious Over Tactic

William Lobdell wrote in the August 3, 2005 Los Angeles Times on a defense raised by an attorney retained by the Archciocese of Portland to defend Fr. Arturo Uribe against a claim for increased child support.
In her relationship with Arturo Uribe, then a seminarian and now a Whittier priest, the child's mother had engaged "in unprotected intercourse ... when [she] should have known that could result in pregnancy," the church maintained in its answer to the lawsuit.

The lawyer says he doubts then-Archbishop Levada saw a copy of the pleading.
He said his best recollection about the proceeding was that he worked exclusively with the risk management department for the Archdiocese of Portland.

As if that helps.
"Whether a bishop likes it or not, he has ultimate responsibility for a legal argument made on his behalf or upon behalf of his diocese," said Father Richard McBrien, a theology professor at the University of Notre Dame. "Archbishop Levada would have - or certainly should have - known what his lawyers were arguing on his behalf."

Fr. McBrien is right.

(via Get Religion)

Celebrating 'good report card'

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan's Herald of Hope columnfrom the July 21, 2005 Catholic Herald now has its permanent link.

He tells of the letter he received from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican, in response to our Archbishops report at his recent ad limina visit to Rome. It's more of a syllabus than a report card, which might be of interest to commenters (and lurkers) wondering where they might help.

The cardinal commented on the 160-year history of our archdiocese, particularly noting our rich ethnic diversity, encouraging us to continue our tradition of welcoming and embracing today's immigrants, especially from Asia and Latin. America

This came up after Mass last Sunday, when someone mentioned a program to help refugees from Africa with some of the basics of their new home, starting with how a light switch works.
He praised as well our liturgical life, expressing his appreciation for our implementation of the genuine renewal of the Second Vatican Council, and of our sincere attempts to incorporate the provisions of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

If your parish masses vary from the Order of Mass or the GIRM, some gentle but persistent questions might help. If not, it sounds like Archbishop Dolan wants to help resolve the discrepancies.
He took note, too, of our efforts to promote a renewal of the Sacrament of Penance.

Starting with our own regular confessions, I suppose.
Cardinal Re complimented the schools and faith-formation programs of the archdiocese, especially our ongoing resolve to implement a sound curriculum to impart the doctrine of the church, and to see that all our textbooks and catechetical materials were in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Check if your parish uses materials on the Bishops' list. If not, find out what the plan is to switch to them. If there is none, maybe our Archbishop can provide some helpful suggestions on getting the process started.
In light of what's going on in the church, you will not be surprised that the prefect had words of special commendation for our priests.

They're probably squashed at the bottom of the current morale pit, so keep them in your prayers, and maybe take Father to breakfast. (I included in the invitation that I wouldn't bring up any issues unless he wanted to. It was very pleasant, and why not? The problems over the years weren't personal issues.)
And he had high praise for the initiatives of charity and justice in the archdiocese, noting in particular our parish in the Dominican Republic, La Sagrada Familia, our hospitals and homes for our elders, and our outreach to the homeless and hungry.

If it's like ours, your parish is doing more along these lines than you've heard, and might have a place for you to help out. And if you hadn't heard what they're doing, maybe they need help on communication and publicity.

P.S. In case it's not displayed in full in his comment, Dad29 provided this link.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Redefining the Center -- III

The August 4th Catholic Herald does not run this July 18, 2005 Fr. Richard McBrien column, the third installment of his account of who are the real centrists in the Church, but I link to it above. [Update: It's published in the August 11, 2005 Herald.]

Who, according to Fr. McBrien, is not the center but the real right wing?

... most members of today's College of Cardinals and U.S. hierarchy, Crisis, Communio, and First Things magazines, and the so-called new movements, such as Opus Dei and the Legionaries of Christ ...

And who, he says, is the real center, though portrayed as left wing?
This newly constituted "left wing" also includes most Catholic theologians and biblical scholars who are members of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Catholic Biblical Association, most of the officers and faculty of our Catholic colleges and universities, the great majority of religious women, most middle-aged and older priests, most liturgists, religious educators, social service ministers, and chaplains of every kind, and--the largest constituency of all-active parishioners who have been educated in Catholic institutions of higher education and who have a built-in aversion to extremism of any kind, including its manifestations at official levels.

And they claim not just the Spirit of Vatican II but the letter, as well.
Such Catholics are products, directly or indirectly, of the Second Vatican Council-but of the council as shaped and fashioned, not by its defeated minority, but by its working majority of bishops and by the two popes, John XXIII and Paul VI, who presided over it.

He implies our current pope and his immediate predecessor were somehow associated with that defeated minority, without the pesky bother of actually making that argument and marshalling any facts in support of it.

Fr. McBrien describes his centrists' self-image in terms which won't surprise some of my recent commenters.

As healthy people themselves they have an instinctive awareness of pathological or dysfunctional behavior when they experience it. Without benefit of advanced degrees in psychology, they recognize individuals who lack a healthy self-image, who are defensive and self-righteous, who are rigid and judgmental toward others, and who place undue emphasis on rules narrowly applied and on "orthodoxies" simplistically interpreted.

If only so much had been granted at that first Pentecost! Some of my commenters sound like they have had the benefit of encounters with these preternaturally gifted people on their parish staffs and committees.

Finally, there's the call to the barricades.

This effort to usurp and redefine Catholicism's traditional center needs to be named for what it is and openly resisted.

For the sign of The Resistance, I suggest Fr. McBrien's centrists' refusal of the Nicene Creed, which we right-wingers keep trying to foist upon them.

Quick-witted Mosby edited Green Sheet

Meg Jones wrote this obituary in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
As editor of the four-page Green Sheet, a beloved mix of folksy columns, comic strips and puzzles...

Printed on green newsprint, hence the name. It was beloved by readers and unique to Milwaukee, which is probably why it was eventually discontinued.
... Mosby decided one day the crossword was way too easy. So he asked [former managing editor George] Lockwood, who was in charge of contracting syndicated features like puzzles, to find a tougher one.

"Wade took one crossword in the middle - not the easiest and not the most difficult - and the roof caved in," said Lockwood, vividly recalling the flood of complaints from irate crossword lovers. "He found out our readers didn't want a puzzle that puzzled them. They wanted one they could actually finish."

Mosby caved. ...

You might think this means he realized he should have left well-enough alone, and went back to the easy crosswords they had been using. If so, you do not think like a modern newspaper editor.
He decided to mix up the puzzles with a couple days of easy ones, a couple of days of hard ones and a tough New York Times puzzle for the Sunday paper.

Which kind of reminds me of some of our discussions of changes in the Church. The "experts" think the change should have worked, and if it doesn't, there's something wrong with the subscribers/congregation, not with the change.

By the way, the Marquette professor on the Andrea Doria, mentioned in the article, was John Pick, a professor of English, and my best teacher at MU.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

An Unworkable Theology

How's the grass on the other side of another fence? Philip Turner reports.
... The Episcopal Church's current working theology depends upon the obliteration of God's difficult, redemptive love in the name of a new revelation. The message, even when it comes from the mouths of its more sophisticated exponents, amounts to inclusion without qualification.

First Things June/July 2005

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Abusive, defrocked priests not monitored

Church trials under canon law are underway in the Diocese of Madison against two priests alleged to have sexually abused minors.
The church had already suspended the clerics after finding the child-abuse allegations against them to be credible. Now, as it defrocks them, expelling them from the priesthood, the men are quietly re-entering civilian life with only the barest notice to the public and no ongoing oversight by the church.

Wisconsin State Journal August 2, 2005

Bishops Defer Decision on Missal Adaptations

Helen Hull Hitchcock's report from the USCCB June meeting includes this
Bishop Michael Sheridan (Colorado Springs) observed that the BCL [Bishops Committee on Liturgy} rationale "very consistently says that what we have had has proven to be 'pastorally helpful'", and asked, "Did we determine that from surveys, or - ?"

Bishop Trautman responded, "I think that language is taken from the document Liturgiam authenticam itself - the rationale for us to present adaptations, that is found in the document Liturgiam authenticam".

"But have we as a Conference determined that [the proposed adaptations] have been pastorally helpful?", Bishop Sheridan asked.

Bishop Trautman replied, "I think in the judgment of the Committee, in the practice of thirty years, the advice we have received is, yes, they have been indeed very pastorally helpful to us".

Adoremus Bulletin July-August 2005

So just how has it been determined that a change has been pastorally helpful? And just how will it be determined that a newly-enacted change has been pastorally helpful? If pastoral is a reference to the bishops role as shepherds, I'd expect the test would be whether more or fewer people show up at Sunday Mass after a change.

Amazon: No Longer the Role Model for E-Commerce Design

Jakob Nielsen summarized his Alertbox for July 25, 2005,
Many design elements work for mainly because of its status as the world's largest and most established e-commerce site. Normal sites should not copy Amazon's design.

Same for weblogs? Are we tempted to use formats and have features because we see them on sites with big audiences?

I was thinking specifically about blogrolls and other sidebar items, then read Jay Rosen at PressThink. In Notes and Comment on BlogHer '05 he says

A weblog typically makes sense within a conversational "field" made up of other weblogs, to which it is related. We tend to look at the blog and ask how it works as free-standing page, but we should really look at the blog and the world it habitually links to because most of the time that package is what actually "works." The individual weblog is to some degree an illusion. There is no free-standing page.


Recommended reading:
Reading Rat

Monday, August 1, 2005

St Alphonsus Liguori (1696 - 1787)

St. Alphonsus Ligouri
On the patron saint of our parish, for his feast day.
He was a Neapolitan lawyer who lost a court case in a spectacular fashion, when it turned out that a key document in his case had been misinterpreted by him and in fact proved his opponent's case instead.

Today he would be the young associate who went to court to argue a senior partner's interpretation of a document.
He immediately left the law and studied for the priesthood.

The latter might have then been held in higher esteem than the former. Those were the days!
He preached in the rural districts around Naples, and it was his boast that he never delivered a sermon that the poorest old woman in the congregation could not understand.

If the kids could also understand him, he might wonder at our parish's Children's Liturgy of the Word.
His bishop asked him to establish an order of missionaries to work in the countryside, and the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) was formally established in 1749.

He was promoted.
He was a bishop from 1762 to 1775, insisting on the dignified and unhurried celebration of the Mass and the firm treatment of persistent wrongdoers.

I'd call our parish masses unhurried.
The Redemptorists proved to be a quarrelsome congregation: their formal establishment had been delayed by more than a decade because of internal dissension.

Our parish, by contrast, operates by repressed quarreling, or as we call it, "consensus."
After his retirement Alphonsus had to try to make peace within the congregation.

When you started reading this, what punchline came to mind?
Unfortunately his old failing returned and he signed a new Constitution for the Redemptorists without reading it properly (though, to be fair to him, he was 80 and in poor health at the time). The result was that the Redemptorists split into two separate congregations, both of whom rejected Alphonsus: peace was not restored until some time after his death.

Religious "order"? It's a term of art.
Nevertheless, in spite of all this storm and trouble, Alphonsus lived an exceptionally holy life. He was also an outstanding moral theologian, and won back sinners to the fold by patience and moderation. His work needs to be better known today, when there seems to be no rational middle course between puritanism and permissiveness.

From Universalis

P.S. The photo is of a statue of St. Alphonsus which my parish obtained when St. Alphonsus Hospital (in Port Washington?) closed.

As I reread that little bio, St. Alphonsus looks more and more a fitting patron for the parish. With the September 2005 Parish Council meeting approaching, as of last Sunday the latest minutes in the rack in the church foyer were from the September 2004 meeting. It seems St. Alphonsus still isn't paying attention.

Update: Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, Copiosa apud eum Redemptio: works by and about him at A Catholic Page for Lovers; and Things Redemptorist, The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Boston, Massachusetts