Saturday, October 29, 2005

But for a mere $33 million

Yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorializes,
The White Sox had a $75.5 million payroll this year, compared with the Brewers' $42 million. These numbers matter. No team made it into the postseason this year with a payroll below $70 million.

And while the Brewers didn't come close to a World Series championship this year, their home attendance was almost as good as Chicago's. The Sox drew 2,342,834 fans, according to ESPN, not that many more than the 2,211,023 who attended Brewers' games at Miller Park.

So somebody go out and quick find $33 million for [General Manager Doug] Melvin, so that next year we can really let out a cheer.

Next year it will be 24 years since the Brewers won the pennant in 1982. That's as long as it was between that pennant and the last time the Milwaukee Braves won it in 1958.

And next year it will be 49 years since Milwaukee won the World Series.

About Dad29

His "About Me" sidebar says he's
Old. Nasty. Likes Chesterton.

No matter how many times I read it, I expect it's going to say
Old. Nasty. Likes Chesterfields.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Young Adults ... Be Set Free

Tonight and tomorrow,
Seminarians from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's Saint Francis Seminary are hosting a two-day event for young adults that addresses sex and relationships.
... Vicki Thorn, an international speaker on intimacy and relationships will present "What They Didn't Tell You in Sex Ed".

Ms. Thorn explained the program in this article.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Oct. 27 Trinity Academy Annual Fall Dinner

Trinity Academy, a local independent Catholic school, holds this annual fundraiser. This year's features Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., who will speak on "Church and Media: A Modern Crossroads; Reflection on the 25th Anniversary of EWTN".

I seem to have a vague recollection of a distant time when having someone from EWTN speak in our Archdiocese would have been controversial.

Sex offender housing refused

Tom Heinen reported in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Vestry of St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Milwaukee had secretly offered to convert part of its facility into transitional housing for convicted sex offenders. The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services declined the offer. The church is now writing to parishioners to inform them of all this.

I'd have liked to see the letter sent if the state had agreed.

You might have wondered about those men now living in the Great Hall. ...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Generations of Faith Project

Tomorrow our Archdiocese hosts a seminar on this program,
Exploring the Vision and Practice of Lifelong Catechesis for the Whole Parish Community.

The Generations of Faith web site includes a long summary [PDF].
Yet catechesis across the United States and Canada is still struggling under the burden of an outdated model of faith formation that is actually creating more problems than it is solving. Embracing the vision of faith formation in the General Directory for Catechesis requires moving away from the schooling paradigm to a community or "whole church" paradigm of faith formation.

I have some doubt about a program that seeks to replace an "outdated" approach while itself using the word "paradigm."

It goes on to use a hypothetical parish to illustrate.

Imagine a parish that is embracing this vision of faith formation and preparing the entire faith community for Lent...

Lent is coming and the entire community of Holy Family Parish is preparing to immerse themselves in the Lenten season through liturgy and prayer (Ash Wednesday, the Sunday liturgies, Holy Week, Stations of the Cross), justice and service (food and clothing collection, Operation Rice Bowl), and community life activities (Lenten meals)-in the parish and at home. ...

Much of what goes on now could be described in the same words, so I wonder how different this is, in practice. Plus, talk of the "entire faith community" is cheap. Page 20 this vision and program description talks of reaching the "Congregation as a whole" with a "2-page bulletin insert." A large majority of our congregation is not at Sunday Mass, some who are don't take a bulletin, some who take it don't read it, some who read it aren't going to read a 2 page insert, and some who read the insert will be unmoved.

If they can show me that this program transforms parishes into places where the majority of parishioners are at Mass, taking the bulletin, and reading these 2 page inserts, then I'm sold.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Summary of Financial Results 2004-2005

In connection with the annual pledge drive, St. Al's recently sent income statements for the last four fiscal years.

Over that period, total income increased less than 1%. Weekly collections increased 5%.

While tuition income decreased 2.5%, school expenses decreased 10%. Last year's school expense was $1,269,169, while tuition was $1,040,692. I interpret that as a parish subsidy of $228,477 or 18%. The subsidy in 2001-2002 looks like 24%. (When I was on the parish council, the goal was 40% tuition, 40% subsidy, 20% other, e.g., endowment. If that's still a goal, it's getting further away.)

The summary says,

As of June 30th, the outstanding balance on our building/renovation loan totaled $3.2 million. The projection calls for debt to be repaid at the rate of $32,500 per month.

Oddly enough, the summary doesn't provide the annual figure, $390,000. It also lacks the history of prior payments on this debt, and does not project contributions toward this debt in the current fiscal year. Even if a projected operating budget surplus of $47,659 is available for mortgage payments, the parish needs an additional amount equal to 15% of the projected operating income to pay the mortgage. This seems to me to be a potentially serious problem, and the parish seems to be avoiding spelling it out. Today's bulletin [2.5mb PDF p. 4] does show weekly contributions to date have fallen 4.6% below budget.

The parish financial problem, then, has two causes. On the income side, giving is flat. Nothing is done to address this, I suspect because it can't be done with the usual brush-off, run-around, stonewall, blow-up, or co-opt. On the expense side, the parish couldn't afford the building/renovation project. Discussing this is also avoided, I suspect because of all the parishioners who can say "I told you so." Rather than deal with these real problems, I anticipate a push to close the parish school.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Old St. Mary's Church site to be developed

Tom Daykin writes in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that this Elm Grove property has been purchased from the parish. A three story condominium complex will be built. If you're familiar with the tract, you might wonder what will happen to the parish's former church, on the east end of the tract.
The former church will be converted into offices.

While it's apparently suitable for conversion into offices, you can probably guess what the parish wanted to do with it.
St. Mary's Parish leaders originally planned to raze the church, saying they had no need for it.

Hard to believe they didn't need offices.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

St Blog's: A Comedy of Errors

After this post on a recent hurricane of recrimination Harumphalism* among Catholic bloggers, David L. Alexander himself posts a Comment concluding,
Maybe sometimes there is no middle ground.

Or there is but it's between the opposing trenches.

* a term inspired by this post on Reverse Triumphalism.
(via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Winters: Are Gay Priests the Problem?

Commenting at Off the Record on an article by Michael Sean Winters, "Diogenes" uses an example of local interest to illustrate a point.
Both advocates and opponents of gay priests are forced to tag our evidential specimens with cryptonyms -- e.g., "Father X" -- because even though everyone might know Father X's sexual propensities, it is deemed bad form to attach the "gay" label to him before he attaches it to himself. In terms of polemic, this etiquette is a two-edged sword. Pro-gays (like the cryptonymous Gerard Thomas) complain that the debate is stilted because the clergy publicly known to be gay are only those who have fallen afoul of the police. This is a fair point. But we Contras can retort with equal justice that the Non-Revelation Pact knocks the best counter-evidence out of our hands as well. We had to keep mum for twenty-five years about Rembert Weakland's internationally infamous appetites and play along with the fatuous pretense that his acts of ecclesial sabotage proceeded from disinterested motives. Only when a jealous rent boy told his story on Good Morning America was it fair game to connect the doctrinal-libidinal dots -- and by that time Weakland was safely out of action.

Does south side need Catholic high school?

This question arises because of the growing Hispanic Catholic population on this side of town. Even the question is a pleasant change from talk of closings.

There's no mention whether the former Notre Dame High School adjacent to St. Stanislaus Church on 5th and Mitchell is or might be available or suitable.

Church extends welcome mat with its wheelchair ramp

So says Whitney Gould in her "Spaces" column in the October 10, 2005, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

To my untrained eye, it looks more like a cattle chute.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Archbishop Dolan to talk about pope at Polish Center

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes this free event. Our Archbishop will speak on "the life and legacy of Pope John Paul II" at 7 p.m. Monday, October 17th at the Polish Center of Wisconsin, 6941 S. 68th St., here in Franklin.

Dennis Rader's pastor has come to know a living Satan

A common criticism of preaching is we don't hear what the Gospel has to do with our daily life. In this interview by Bill Tammeus with Rev. Michael G. Clark, pastor of the congregation to which "BTK Killer" Dennis Rader belonged, Rev. Clark has found one connection.
I have heard in Scripture in the last six months things I have never heard in the last 20 years of my ministry.

Q. What would an example be?

A. When we were going through this, it was the Lenten season. I remember the text where Jesus gathers his disciples in the Upper Room, and he washes their feet and serves the bread. Finally he comes to Judas and he says, "The one who dips this bread in my dish is my betrayer." We hear that. That's very clear. But what we don't hear is the next line: "And Satan entered into him."

I had never heard that. Or never understood it. ...

Through my experiences and training I depersonified and I justified Satan or the devil as an object we need to project evil onto because the source of evil is within us.

I have changed my theology. I never thought I would. I'm here to tell you, Bill, that if on Feb. 24, 2005, a day before Dennis was arrested, someone had suggested that I would be talking the way I am today, I would have told them they were just plain crazy.

But I am convinced from what I have been through that there is definitely an evil force out there that is viable, and it's something we need to know about.

(via Knight Ridder News Service, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

alternatives; Mostly Harmless

The prayotest by Catholics for Peace and Justice drew comments at Milwaukee IndyMedia.

monte reported that of the three protests that night,

the most well attended was the catholics against the war in cathedral park, with maybe 300+ in attendance. even as far as traditional parade style marches are concerned, this was a very tame affair, but it was also much more well attended. while this action offended no one, it also seems to have attracted almost no direct attention at the time.

not only did it not attract the same attention it would have if there had been yelling and noisemaking on a busy corner, but some participants were left with a feeling akin to disempowerment and futility.

i wish others who felt that way had also attended the Brady street action, but they were mostly oldsters at the cathedral square, and the stand for peace on oakland and capital.

i did see many younger people honking thier horns and flashing peace signs at the stand, but there were few involved with either of the other scenes.

while there is something to be said for activities that aunt edna can attend w/out fear of getting her hip broken, there has been very little in the way of expressing outright rage in milwaukee for decades.

alien responded,
I also went to the Catholics for Peace and Justice Vigil. Don't underestimate them, they can be just as hardcore as you.

Look for Aunt Edna as she carries the fight for Peace, Justice, and the Workers' Paradise to Fort Benning.

Update: Here's the "SOAwatch" info and signup at our Archdiocesan web site.

According to the faith tradition of some of us, we have the responsibility to each other for loving correction.

And love it they do.

On the bus,

Larger luggage will ride below, along with any posters etc. you may bring.

At the hotel,
Free continental breakfast is available every morning 6:00am – 9:00am.

Not a Central American breakfast?

During downtime,

Reading poetry or writings by Central American martyrs or leaders develops focus.

If you prefer fiction, try Rigoberta Menchu.

Remember, you are your brother's keeper, but not his travel agent.

If you plan to do high risk civil disobedience you should be prepared to make your own arrangements to get home.

A mass transit lesson from Katrina

Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, wrote this op-ed published in the October 9, 2005 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Among the indelible images of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are the tens of thousands left behind in the evacuation. ...

While the cleanup continues and the fingers of blame are pointed, one sad fact remains: Those without access to a car were left behind. ...

To paraphrase Will Rogers, we'll hold the distinction of being the only Nation in the history of the world where people couldn't be refugees unless they had an automobile.
Despite the obvious need for transit for employment, economic development and national security purposes, we see local levels of government forced to either cut bus routes or raise fares almost every year. Meanwhile, we have no shortages of new roads. ...

Since we have all these roads, you might expect he'd advocate spending more to expand bus service or subsidize lower fares, or even build dedicated bus lanes.
Economic development follows in the tracks of modern transit like light rail and streetcars. ...

People could have been evacuated from New Orleans if only it had streetcars. New Orleans wouldn't be so poor if only it had streetcars. Then I remembered, New Orleans still has streetcars. It's one of the few cities that didn't completely eliminate them.
We can, however, learn from the devastation along the Gulf Coast that a robust transit system can help avoid leaving tens of thousands of people behind.

If streetcars are practical at all, it's to serve densely populated areas. The tracks can't be built the long distances through the countryside that evacuees need to go, and sit idle otherwise. An approaching hurricane could cut electric power or flood the track, and streetcars would be immobilized. If he suggested that bus systems receive a subsidy to ensure buses are available for emergencies, that would make more sense. Advocates of rail transit don't help their cause by claiming it's a panacea.

Here's the September 30, 2005 bulletin from the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority.

RTA service will resume with four transit lines: 12-St. Charles, 114-115-General de Gaulle, 108-Algiers Local, and 201-Kenner Loop.

All four lines will run along the regular routes they used before Hurricane Katrina, although 12-St. Charles will use buses instead of streetcars until further notice.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Catholics fatigued? Here's why

Maureen Connors Badding is a local freelance writer serving a stint as a "community columnist" for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which published this column yesterday.
Shortly before his triumphant return to Germany for World Youth Day, Pope Benedict XVI bemoaned the "spiritual fatigue" plaguing some progressive Catholics.

No citation, so we'll assume it arguendo.
He's right, of course. Many of us are tired. But it has less to do with our spirituality and everything to do with the church hierarchy.

Just like in Dilbert.
We're tired of a church that is clearly in desperate need of clergy, but refuses to allow married men or women to become priests.

Is it really a feminist argument to say we'll should let women do it because we're desperate?
We're tired of a church that protected sexual abusers, yet is currently inspecting seminaries for homosexuals, once again perpetuating the myth that homosexuality is akin to pedophilia.

Let's leave aside that most of the clerical sexual abuse was of adolescent males. Is homosexuality a problem otherwise? It seems to me we are not likely to get many vocations while seminaries are perceived as homosexual dating services. Even Archbishop Weakland appeared to take Paul Marcoux's saying he was interested in becoming a priest as an indication he was datable.
We're tired of a church that tells people it's wrong to use a condom while an AIDS epidemic of biblical proportions is raging throughout Third-World countries. This is no longer a questions of morals. It's a question of compassion and common sense.

Common sense indicates people not deterred by Church teaching on sex generally are probably not deterred by Church teaching on contraception.
We're tired and perplexed that the church continues to prohibit birth control in a world where so many women use abortion as a form of family planning.

I'm skeptical that a woman who avoids contraception because of Church teaching would have an abortion despite Church teaching.
We're tired and mystified when our church starts issuing new opinions on issues that we thought were settled long ago.

That leaves open the possibility that they're mystified by their own ignorance. But didn't she just finish demanding new opinions on settled issues?
For instance:
- Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna, a friend of the new pope, indicated in a recent essay in The New York Times that belief in Darwin's theories of evolution may be incompatible with the Catholic faith. When evolution was taught in my classes in the '70s, were the nuns and their diocesan-approved textbooks misinterpreting their own faith? I don't think so. It's another case of the church migrating away from Vatican II.

What the Cardinal apparently meant was to warn of a philosophical materialism cloaked in the language of evolutionary biology.
- The Vatican has recently strengthened its stance against the practice of yoga. In a document written before he became pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger warned that yoga "can degenerate into a cult of the body."

Whichs sounds like a warning not to confuse means and ends.
- The Church prohibits most forms of fertility treatment. Frankly, I have no idea if this is a new policy, because I've never heard it discussed at Sunday Mass.

Oh, heck, leave it in the denunciations of new policies, anyway. Since it appears that either nothing is being said in homilies, or if something is, no one remembers it, perhaps we should just pipe in a message from some nearby bible church, instead.
I had always thought of the Catholic Church as being uncompromisingly pro-fertility, but I learned otherwise in newspaper articles about Italy's anti-fertility legislation.

Perhaps this goes along with missing the connecting of sex and procreation in Church teaching on contraception.
Pope Benedict XVI promises that our spiritual fatigue can be overcome by a renewed "zest and joy to know Christ." Yet zest and joy are alive and well in Milwaukee's Catholic churches.

So alive that we keep closing parishes to concentrate all that zest and joy in the ever fewer that remain.
We have many wise, compassionate and hardworking priests who don't happen to support every new doctrine from Rome.

Sounds like a formula for working yourself to death while doing more harm than good.
Our churches are filled with many dedicated, enthusiastic parishioners who hope that someday we will return to the progressive spirit fostered by Vatican II.

Obviously, she doesn't mean "filled" literally. Among those who are there, opinions vary.
These are good people, living decent lives and making moral judgments based on their hearts as much as their faith.

If faith were in the heart, wouldn't this conflict disappear?
They remain loyal to the Catholic Church because they're not advocates of the "love it or leave it" mentality. They're willing to fight for the changes they believe in.

Sort of like marrying someone because you think you can change him.
How long can they hold out before fatigue and disillusionment take over?

Forty years and counting.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Reluctant legend

Pete Jackel in the Racine Journal Times interviews Ray Berres.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Priests Urged to Be Better Preachers

Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press writes in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the former head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told a meeting of the world's bishops that Catholics increasingly expect better homilies from priests at Sunday Mass.

The article goes on to say that to hear better preaching, many Catholics are visiting other churches or watching televised services in addition attending Sunday Mass. Some are doing so instead of attending Sunday Mass.
"Ritual precision alone will not bring back those who do not attend Sunday Mass," he said.

He appears to be saying that ritual precision is necessary but not sufficient and he implies that Catholics have been experiencing ritual precision at Mass over the last few decades. The fact is that liturgy is a mess, and partly because bishops try to suppress discussion of this fact.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Guatemala halts recovery effort after mudslides

Since I've been to Guatemala five times with our parish mission, some people have asked if the areas I've visited were affected by the recent hurricane. Most of the people displaced by the storm were on the Pacific coast. I've only visited the inland Western Highlands. The village buried by the mudslide was Panabaj, on the outskirts of Santiago Atitlan, on Lake Atitlan. The orphanage our mission visits is in Santa Apolonia, to the east. I have not heard of damage there. There were some buildings destroyed in Tecpan, a few miles away, and along the Pan American Highway back to Guatemala City.

For reference, here's a more detailed map of Guatemala [PDF].

Update: Email forwarded from Santa Apolonia says the town was without electricity and telephone for several days due to the heavy rains, otherwise all is well but wet. People in the mountain villages, however, lost family members and homes. The sisters (SSSF) are helping at a refugee camp in nearby Tecpan. If you read Spanish, here's a report on the storm's aftermath in today's Prensa Libre, a Guatemala City newspaper.

Madison bishop named to military school board

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Madison Bishop Robert Morlino has been appointed to the advisory board of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA).
The school, based at Fort Benning in Georgia, trains soldiers, police and government officials. SOA Watch, which monitors the institution, alleges some of the school's alumni were involved in a string of human rights abuses in the 1980s and still exploit the people of Latin America.

Defense officials have disputed the group's claims, but SOA Watch stages annual protests at Fort Benning over the school, saying graduates commit civil rights abuses and murders.

Such a rule of institutional responsiblility for alums' actions would have interesting implications for seminaries.

(via Ut Unum Sint)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Revisiting Vatican II

U. S. Catholic introduces this upcoming online survey by saying,
It was 40 years ago this year that the Second Vatican Council came to a close and ushered in monumental changes such as a greater role for the laity, religious tolerance, and Mass in English. The road the church has traveled since then has had its share of both bumps and scenic vistas. We want to stop for a minute and ask: How do you rate the trip?

Here's a pothole I hit every week.
"In the dialectical context of the council", [John] Huels writes, the reason for the restrictive statement against unauthorized liturgical changes "doubtless ... was to reassure the conservative minority who did not want to change anything and who feared abuses.... The [restriction] thereby helped to bring about the consensus that ultimately resulted in the nearly unanimous favorable vote on the constitution as a whole".

But this is not needed today, Huels says, because "the most vociferous opponents of the liturgical reforms have now been discredited and their leaders [Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, et al] excommunicated" ([Huels More Disputed Questions in the Liturgy] pp 147-148).

Perhaps they thought that putting particular words in a document to get votes in favor of it and then implementing the document as if it meant the opposite was fraud.

Update: Phillip Blosser posts on Sacrosanctum Concilium revisited, an article in Latin Mass magazine.

If Latin Mass is going to publish in the vernacular, it ought to also post its content online.


Sunday, October 9, 2005

Proofs for the Existence of God

This column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser appeared in the September 29, 2005 Catholic Herald. He reviews the long history of philosophical attempts, then looks at a later attempt.
Karl Rahner once suggested his own proofs for the existence of God. For him, we taste God in certain experiences and these experiences ultimately imprint us with the belief that the universe makes sense, that we have sufficient reason to love and trust, that there's a world beyond this one, and that there's a God. Here's a paraphrase of his argument:

Have you ever remained silent, though you wanted to defend yourself, though you were treated unfairly?

And Fr. Rolheiser goes on to give a series of similar questions, concluding,
If you've ever had any of these experiences, then you've experienced God and know that there's a deeper ground beneath the one on which you walk.

Rahner seems to say that if someone slapped you, you would experience God by turning the other cheek, rather than say, objecting. On the other hand, here's John 18:22-23.
When he had said this, one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, "Is this the way you answer the high priest?" Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?"

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Report: More Kids Being Home-Churched

From The Onion

Katrina and Catholic Social Teaching

This column by Fr. Richard McBrien appeared in the September 29, 2005 Catholic Herald.
As Thomas Friedman pointed out in The New York Times, "An administration whose tax policy has been dominated by the toweringly selfish Grover Norquist -- who has been quoted as saying: 'I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub' -- doesn't have the instincts for this moment....

I didn't know you could be selfish with other people's money. There also was a time when someone was considered liberal when they were generous with their own money. Back in 1776 it was thought the right of the people to abolish their government if, in their opinion, it was destructive of its proper ends; that they didn't use Mr. Norquist's metaphor doesn't change the principle. But, then, Fr. McBrien might not hold that principle.
We must leave it to the politicians, the media, and other engaged parties, including especially the thousands upon thousands of victims of Katrina, to counter, if they can, the Administration's defense strategy. The concern of this week's column is with the Administration's failures, antecedent to the hurricane, when measured against the standards of Catholic social teachings.

So if the political is irrelevant to McBrien's topic, you might assume he just had to get some irrelevant swipes at political conservatives out of the way before showing how Catholic social teaching differs from Thomas Friedman social teaching.
It is an immoral tax policy that is designed to "starve the beast" of government, as some of its advocates have put it, so that the government will be forced to cut back on programs designed to meet the economic, educational, housing, and medical needs of these very constituencies. Such a policy also violates the principle of social justice, which requires us to work for the systemic reform of societal institutions, like tax policies, so that they will work not simply for the good of the wealthy and the powerful few but for the common good.

Last I looked, taxing less has lead to borrowing more, not spending less, and Fr. McBrien is not calling the national debt immoral. But why belong to the Church if its teaching consists of putting the word "moral" into Times columns? It seems some on the left have concluded there is no reason. Fr. McBrien wraps up,
Government is not a beast that needs to be starved or drowned in some proverbial bathtub.

Which, giving credit when due, we can see is a straw man argument thanks to Fr. McBrien actually quoting Grover Norquist.
We are our brothers' and our sisters' keepers. That is the mystery we need to be contemplating as the fetid waters slowly drain from New Orleans.

Alluding to Genesis 4:1-16. Not long ago I heard it cited in a social justice homily to show that Cain's sin was not caring about his brother Abel. Call me a literalist, but Cain's sin was killing Abel, not that he didn't care if Abel was alive or dead. Rather than being consumed with envy, Cain had been told to look inside himself to see why his sacrifice wasn't pleasing to God, see Genesis 4:6-7. Cain's sin came not from failing to be his brother's keeper, but from failing to mind his own business. Whether that is a mystery the contemplation of which will provide insight into recent events in New Orleans I'll leave to others. But had I told any brother of mine that I was going to be his keeper, I would have been told to mind my own business. That, at least, would be the gist of the reply.

Friday, October 7, 2005

Diocese: Minister can keep job if crime not made public

(via Open Book)

Jon Frank in The Virginian-Pilot writes that Terrell L. Mailhiot, a lay minister of justice and peace at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in the Diocese of Richmond had been arrested on a charge of soliciting sex from an undercover police officer, and now convicted.

Before Mailhiot's sentencing, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond sent a letter to the judge presiding over his case. In that letter, the diocese said Mailhiot could keep his job if he were convicted of a misdemeanor and if the case did not become "public knowledge."

The conviction was for a felony, and so Mailhiot was fired. But the letter became public and controversial.
A Richmond attorney who represents the diocese said the letter to Circuit Judge Patricia L. West expressed a standard business practice.

At the Diocesan web site I see that the
Office of Justice & Peace assists the Bishop and the people of the Diocese in applying Catholic social teaching to today's issues by acting to meet social needs, reflecting on the underlying causes of social problems and transforming social structures to protect better human life and dignity.

Unless this would require deviation from standard business practice, I assume.

And a child will lead them....

Archbishop Dolan's "Herald of Hope" column in the September 22, 2005 Catholic Herald has yet another perfect illustrative anecdote.
In a recent conversation with a priest, I listened attentively to his observations on the two parishes he had served as pastor. The first had a huge parish school, with close to 500 students. To keep it going required tons of fund raising, attention, time, Maalox and Tylenol. His next parish was smaller, older, and due to the demographics of the neighborhood, had fewer children, all of whom went to Catholic school or religious education programs at a nearby parish.

At this second parish he had plenty of money, a lot of time, few headaches and heartburn. But - and here's the point - he was led to conclude, he was happier at parish number one, and had to admit that the life of faith, worship, service, and formation was much more vibrant and effective at that one. Why, I had to ask, did he think that was true? "Because the children - and our focused care and attention to them - called us all to an ongoing renewal of our faith. Our love for them united the entire parish."

I hope this priest and this parish and this school all exist. A parish without a school has much less appeal to me, but there's some sub rosa sentiment to close our parish's. That sentiment focuses on cost. Our Archbishop goes on,
Yet, we have to admit, it can be counterproductive when the values our children learn at our schools and programs of religious education are not reinforced at home.

I'm at least as concerned that the values our children learn at home might be undercut by our schools and programs of religious education. If people conclude that's the case, then it's not a matter of mere cost but of value, and I wouldn't expect support for the schools, the programs of religious education, or the parish.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Living Constitution

Robin comments at The Curt Jester.
Sheesh, the Constitution is living, but unborn children are not. Sin always has, and ever shall darken the intellect.

They keep coming back in a bloodthirsty lust for human flesh, stalking in the advance sheets, the law reviews, and The New York Review of Books, on the "Night of the Living Constitution."

Mark Twain

From his desire to exalt his heroine springs the chief defect of his book; he is prone to strengthen his contrasts with forced antithesis and unduly deprecate her surroundings and her age. But thoroughly cognizant of his subject, he never allows his facts to get entangled in "the mass of added particular"; even his portrait of the religious element in her character is adequate and warm. --by M. K., Literature: Books, America, Vol. 1, No. 1, April 17, 1907, p. 18, review of Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) (via Jim Keane, SJ at In All Things)

...In September, 1880, the New York Post printed a dispatch from the old San Francisco Call reporting the discovery, by one Anson Tichenor, of "gold-bearing waters" at Calistoga, Calif. Said the dispatch: "[Tichenor] has succeeded in extracting $1,060 from ten barrels of water. The gold is of the highest grade."

From his home in Hartford, Conn., Mark Twain promptly wrote the Post a letter... --Charles Wimberly, Letter to the Editor, Atlantic Monthly, November 1943, reported in Time, November 1, 1943

The Lives and Loves of Samuel Clemens, review by Larry McMurtry of The Singular Mark Twain: A Biography, by Fred Kaplan, and Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain's Final Years, by Karen Lystra, New York Review of Books, April 8, 2004

Traveling with Twain in an Age of Simulations: Rereading and reliving The Innocents Abroad, by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, Common-Place, April 2004

Realism, Romanticism, and Politics in Mark Twain, by William F. Byrne, Humanitas 1999 No. 1

Mark Twain, by Alan Gribben, American Literary Scholarship, 1998

Mark Twain: more 'tears & flapdoodle', review by James W. Tuttleton of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Comprehensive Edition, The New Criterion, September 1996

'The Innocents Abroad' or the new pilgram’s progress, by Mordecai Richler, on Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad, The New Criterion, May 1996

His [Huck's] knowledge always runs deep; his insights are on target; he can smell duplicity a mile away. --Robert B. Reich on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, Classics Revisited (1968), by Kenneth Rexroth

Review by Kenneth Rexroth (1959) of The Autobiography of Mark Twain, edited by Charles Neider

'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer', by Mark Twain, review by William Dean Howells, Atlantic Monthly, May 1876

'The Innocents Abroad, or the New Pilgrim's Progress', review by William Dean Howells, Atlantic Monthly, December 1869

Monday, October 3, 2005

Bill Bennett's Morning in America

Seems Bill Bennett has a radio show, the commercial radio show most likely to attempt a reductio ad absurdum. No affiliate in Milwaukee, but it can be heard here on WIND 560AM in Chicago 5-8 a.m. weekdays.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Pope John Paul II: The one they loved but did not follow

Megan McKenna in Catholic Peace Voice
Bishops used him for their agendas but did not bother to teach much of what he stood for--his teachings against violence, the death penalty and war. They used him to push issues of sexuality, marriage, and issues related to birth/gender and abortion--worthy causes, but in the light of the plight of the world and the teachings of Jesus in Scripture, not the issues on which Catholics and Christians will be judged.

Time to consult The Sardonic Verses. Ah, yes, John 4.
16 Jesus said to her, "Go call your husband and come back." 17 The woman answered and said to him, "I do not have a husband." Jesus answered her, "You are right in saying, 'I do not have a husband.' 18 For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true. 18.5 Not that there's anything wrong with that!"

Ts'ao Hsueh-Ch'in

Yet Pao Yu’s meaningless life unconsciously evolves slowly toward illumination. He is a Taoist saint who doesn’t know he is one and doesn’t want to be one. Like Prince Genji, he is indifferent to and ignorant of his cosmic role. He struggles, unaware, against an embodied principle of hate. When salvation comes, it is scarcely distinguishable from its opposite. --Kenneth Rexroth, The Dream of the Red Chamber, Classics Revisited (1968)

Recommended reading:
by Ts'ao Hsueh-Ch'in at Reading Rat

Study Guide: Dream of the Red Chamber by Chan Tsao, CliffNotes

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Latest offshoot of Elmbrook Church seeks urban flock in Milwaukee

Tom Heinen writes in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the new downtown congregation of Elmbrook Church, the local evangelical suburban mega-church.
Their often upbeat messages of salvation and having a relationship with God, lively worship music, high-tech video and sound systems, small study groups and myriad opportunities for personal support and public-service outreach have helped attract people who never attended a church as well as those dissatisfied with past or present church experiences.

Evangelical in theology and mission, they have a firm belief in the authority and accuracy of the Bible, though the emphasis and applications can vary.

For the time being, the congregation will hold services at the downtown campus of Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Unable to find space in the Third Ward or elsewhere east of the Milwaukee River, the church is renting MATC's auditorium at 1036 N. 8th St. for Sunday services at 10 a.m.. Its goal, says Sonderman, is to serve people of all income levels and races, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to Walker's Point, and west to Marquette University.

From the upper floors of that building, they could have a good view of the spires of nearby Gesu Church on the Marquette campus, and of St. John's Cathedral on the other side of downtown. Whatever those parishes' evangelization efforts have been, they haven't made the front page of the paper. Here's Elmbrook Senior Pastor Mel Lawrenz on the topic.
Churches grow when the members have a widespread sense of participatory ownership without relying solely on the pastor, and when there is a clear message of Scripture-based truth and grace without Bible-thumping admonishment, he added.

We'll see how that works out in practice. On the other hand, if churches grow when there is a message of Redaktionsgeschichte, then things are looking up for my parish.

How does Elmbrook start these new congregations?

Elmbrook is committed to provide at least $100,000 for Metrobrook in its first year while the new church generates its own internal support, Lawrenz said.

A core group of about 85 people, most from Elmbrook, is helping to plan and run Metrobrook. Each made a one-year commitment of time and monetary donations. Many are in their 20s and 30s; Sonderman led the 20 Something ministry at Elmbrook.

Not much more than my parish once budgeted annually for "Outreach," redonating 5% of parish envelope income, mostly in response to mail solicitations for funds. The number of volunteers is fewer than my parish has on policy committees.
"I would love over the next 10 years to see anywhere from six to eight, maybe 10, churches planted in city center of Milwaukee," said [Pastor Brian] Sonderman, who introduces his wife, Mara, as a ministry partner. "One of the key verses for me is Acts 1:8, where Jesus gathers the disciples together after the Resurrection and gives them a commission to go and be witnesses through all of Jerusalem and Judea, to the ends of the Earth."

There are probably at least that many closed Catholic churches in the central city. Maybe he can make use of some of them.