Sunday, April 30, 2006

Reading Rat April 2006

Also of interest:

About Feeds at Six Apart
(via WisBlawg)

Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes, Jakob Nielsen's "Alertbox" for October 17, 2005

30 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on the Internet by
Dan Tynan, PC World, July 2005
(via Center for the Study of the Great Ideas)

Blogger Templates: Free templates and original designs for Blogger and other weblog software

Blog Studio
(via WisBlawg)

EverNote - A single place for all your notes
(via WisBlawg)

XHTML Character Entity Reference: This page contains the 252 allowed entities in HTML 4 and XHTML 1.0, as outlined in section 24 of the official HTML 4 specifications, published by the W3C.
(via The Evangelical Outpost)

Quick Reference: Google Advanced Operators: Cheat Sheet by Nancy Blachman
(via WisBlawg)

How to Write a Book Review at Dalhouse University Libraries, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Reading & Writing & Studying by Dr. Robert A. Hatch

100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases at Your Dictionary

The biggest viewable dictionary on the 'net by Luke Metcalfe
( + appealing appearance fulness occurred separate )

Treasure Hunt

Joe Queenan in today's The New York Times reviews The Book of Lost Books by Stuart Kelly which
concerns itself with two main subjects: books that have disappeared, either through negligence, deliberate destruction or the vicissitudes of history; and books that never got written in the first place.

What you'll find in Catholic 'job description'

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan for the Easter Week "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald took on this potentially funny topic, but he played it straight.
For any of us who claim to be His faithful followers, Christians, members of His Catholic Church, our "job description" is to confess that Jesus is Lord and to believe that He is risen from the dead.

That a job description isn't a run-on sentence is almost a miracle.

May 1-3 Clergy Assembly

All the bishops and priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will be in Delavan for their annual meeting Monday through Wednesday.

I wonder if differing views of transparency are on the agenda.

Advocacy Training

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced these sessions.
One of the key themes in Catholic Social Teaching is concern for the poor and vulnerable.

According to the flyer
This training is ideal for persons involved with Catholic
Relief Services programs, social justice and respect life ministries, immigration reform and global solidarity efforts, human concerns issues, and for those who want to acquire a better understanding of public campaigns.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Litany of Repentance

Catholics for Peace and Justice links to this litany at the Pax Christi USA web site. It's an extended variation on the Pharisee's prayer.

Friday, April 28, 2006

May 4 Cardinal Cassidy on Ecumenism

Edward Cardinal Cassidy, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council of Promoting Christian Unity, will visit Milwaukee for the final installment of the 2006 Pallium Lecture Series. Cardinal Cassidy's lecture is titled "Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue - A Catholic Priority in the Modern World." ...

The Lecture will be held at the Milwaukee Public Museum in conjunction with the "Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes" exhibit. Attendees may purchase a specially-priced ticket for an exclusive viewing of the exhibit.

Here's the event notice [pdf] and Archbishop Dolan's column on the exhibit.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Seminary changes present challenges, opportunities

Catholic Herald, Milwaukee


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Avoid 'Eucharistic famine,' planners told

Brian T. Olszewski in our Catholic Herald
When Ellen Rodriguez made her report on behalf of District 7 during the first archdiocesan planning assembly April 1, one of her statements had many of the 250 participants nodding in agreement.

"We don’t want a Eucharist famine in our clusters," she stated.

Let them eat jargon!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Forum focuses on challenges faced by new immigrants

Maryangela Layman Roman reported in our Catholic Herald the Community Immigration Forum on March 28 at St. Aldalbert Church.
Many of the participants spoke out against a bill authored by [Wisconsin Congressman James] Sensenbrenner that would criminalize the 11 million to 12 million people in the country illegally, as well as make it a crime to provide assistance to them. ...

Juan [one of the speakers] has since legalized his immigration status, but he said he fears proposed immigration laws. "What I think about the proposed immigration laws is that if they pass, there could be outbreaks of violence on any street corner. We Latinos are peaceful, but if they attack us, it is impossible to turn our backs; we have to react."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bishop Sklba says he would not obey proposed immigration law

Brian T. Olszewski reported
Should the Border Security, Anti Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act become law, one church leader will not obey it.

"Immoral legislation cannot bind anyone," Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba said in an interview with your Catholic Herald Catholic Herald March 27. ...

Quoting 1 Peter 4:12-19, in which the apostle advises the persecuted, Bishop Sklba said, "Suffering as a Christian is a sign of pride."

He'd go to prison over this when he couldn't bring himself to make promised phone calls to clerical sexual abuse victims? Maybe if the law passed and he was arrested, that could be his one phone call.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

April 29 Financial Accountability and Transparency

Wayne Schneider, Chief Financial Officer of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, will discuss its 2005 financial reports at a meeting of the local chapter of Voice Of The Faithful on April 29, 2006 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at St. Alphonsus Church, 5960 W. Loomis Rd. in Greendale.

Get Connected!

According to the brochure at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee,
Center for Ministry Development presenter, Joan Weber, will lead us through a discussion of the culture, needs, hungers and possibilities of ministry with young adults in their 20s and 30s.

For example,
"Many young adults I know don't regularly attend church ... and they may not come back to your church if they did not find it welcoming ..."
--Sonia, 28

Just welcoming or welcoming?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

It's still about customer service for Robert Kacalo

Cheri Perkins Mantz in our Catholic Herald in the first of a series of reports on each of the five men to be ordained May 20th. Robert Kacalo is a "second career" seminarian.
Kacalo, 50, received an associate's degree in hotel and restaurant management after high school. He worked in a department store for "many, many years" and then decided to go into business for himself in the Milwaukee area.

"I owned a restaurant and then a floral and gift shop," he said.

As the headline indicated,
"All the career choices I've made have dealt with customer service," said Kacalo. "And developing people skills is hopefully going to benefit me in service in the church."

From what I've seen, priests are much more lacking in administrative or management skills than people skills, as such. It's not that rare for people to like their pastor as a person and as a priest but not the way he's running the parish. For example, running it into the ground.

Where will Father Kacalo be assigned? Mike listed some of the possibilities.

The drums of war

This was the title of the Homily given by Father Michael McLernon at the Cathedral of Saint John in Milwaukee on March 18, 2006 at the Catholics for Peace and Justice Ecumenical Prayer Service.
We, as a nation, have embarked on a crusade calculated to extend our influence and power over the whole world and its resources so that our greed may be sated by cheap supplies of energy and affordable consumer goods, no matter the cost to the people who own or produce them.

The next CPJ event is April 26th at the Mount Mary College.

Weather permitting, we will gather around the Peace Pole on the west side of the college. The alternative rain site is Our Lady Chapel on the 2nd Floor of Notre Dame Hall. Parking is available off the Parkway entrance and the 92nd Street entrance.

Wouldn't want trouble finding a parking spot and be late protesting greed for cheap energy.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Archbishop Romero

This column by Father Richard McBrien ran in our Catholic Herald.
Ten years ago this week I did a column on what was then the sixteenth anniversary of the martyrdom of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador. This week's column is a much-modified reprise of that earlier essay.

And he'll have you know you can't plagiarize yourself, so there!
Even some of his fellow bishops had denounced him, and he was, of course, hated by the military. But he was also distrusted by the Vatican, thanks in part to the negative assessment of him by a powerful Latin American cardinal working there.

No names, no specifics. Someone once suggested I get the background by seeing the movie Romero. I lieu of that, I read James R. Brockman's book. On November 7, 1978 Romero wrote to the new Pope, John Paul II, to respond to criticism.
Romero then told the pope about his fears, arising from the "systematic and imcomprehensible opposition" of the nuncio and most of the other bishops. The nuncio "has shown himself influenced more by government, diplomatic and capitalist sectors than by the sufferings of the people." (p. 145)

The cause of their [his suffragen bishops'] aversion was partly the "pettiness that has almost always existed in suffragens toward the metropolitan," but each also had his particular reasons." (p. 146)

After hearing both sides, the Pope had Romero in for an audience on May 7, 1979.
There was serious consideration to naming an apostolic administrator sede plena. That is, Romero would remain archbishop in name, but another would govern. (p. 167)

As far as I can tell from the book, that idea had neither advanced nor been abandoned when Romero was murdered the following March 24th.

Reality Check: Some Little Known Parish Facts!

From the April 9, 2006 St. Al's bulletin [pdf, p. 5].
Number of Registered Members 8,808
Registered Households 2,915
Contributing Households 1,921 (66%)
Average Mass Attendance in 2005 2,344 (27%)

Why are these facts little known, other than because the people who knew them didn't share them? Even now, they put them in the bulletin knowing that's likely to reach no more than 27% of the parish.

If they wanted these facts known, they could have put them in the bulletin for Easter, one week later, when more people will be at Mass. Or they could have put them in the Happenings, the occasional parish newsletter since sent to all households.

Love Song of the Agave

Douglas Menuez in Orion supplies an answer to an age-old question.
Over a bottle in a bar in SoHo, he explained that "to understand Mexico, you must understand something of tequila and tradition. Tequila was a gift from the gods to the Aztec, a sacrament to be respected, which it remains today." He had not, however, heard of a technique for making tequila that involved naked men in vats. We concluded that if such a thing existed, it would be worth knowing about.

The age-old question being "Why do you Americans come here and then drink only Coca-Cola?"

SS. Terence

June 21 Tertius(?)
First century bishop of Iconium. May have been the Tertius mentioned by Saint Paul the Apostle in Romans 16.22. Martyr.

June 26 Terentianus
First century commander of an imperial Roman bodyguard. Layman father of at least one son. Witness to the death sentencing of Saint John and Saint Paul. Convert. Martyr. Some sources say that his son was martyred with him.

July 4 Blessed Terence (or John) Carey
Layman. Servant of Blessed Thomas Bosgrave. Arrested for the treason of assisting a priest, Blessed John Cornelius. Offered his freedom if he would denouce Catholicism. Martyred with Blessed John Cornelius, Blessed Thomas Bosgrave, and Blessed Patrick Salmon. ... hanged on 4 July 1594 at Dorchester, Oxfordshire, England; on the scaffold he kissed the noose and called it a "precious collar"

September 1 Terentian
Bishop of Todi, Umbria, Italy. Tortured on the rack, had his tongue cut out for preaching, and martyred in the persecutions of Hadrian. ... beheaded in 118

September 24 Terenzio of Luni
Bishop of Luni, Italy. Martyr. ... Patronage Pesaro, Italy

September 27 Terence of Todi
martyred, date unknown; relics discovered in Todi, Italy in the 12th century

October 29 Terence of Metz
Bishop of Metz, France. A noted scholar, he fought for orthodox doctines. Died 520 ...

April 10 Terence
With Africanus, Pompeius, and companions, a group of fifty martyrs who were cruelly martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Trajanus Decius. According to tradition, they were forced into a pit filled with serpents and stinging rep tiles; those who survived this ordeal were beheaded. [250]

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pope Benedict Asks If It's Too Late To Change Name

from The Onion

Transcript for April 16 Meet the Press

Tim Russert hosted a panel including Joan Chittister, Michael Lerner, Jon Meacham, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Richard Neuhaus, and Joel Osteen, which included this exchange.
REV. NEUHAUS: But, you know, Sister, capital punishment and abortion are not at the same level of teaching weight.

SISTER CHITTISTER: Well, I don’t know that, see. I think that...

REV. NEUHAUS: Oh, really?

SISTER CHITTISTER: Yeah. I think they are at this...

REV. NEUHAUS: Oh I, I--consult the catechism.

SISTER CHITTISTER: I think they, I think that they are not at the same level of teaching weight. I’m saying I’m not sure why.


SISTER CHITTISTER: I’m not sure why they’re not at the same level of teaching weight.


Religion: What's God got to do with it?

Karen Armstrong in the New Statesman
Despite interesting and revealing differences in emphasis, these traditions all reached remarkably similar solutions. They can, perhaps, tell us something important about the structure of our humanity. The God of Israel was an important symbol of transcendence, but in the other Axial faiths the gods were not very important.

That difference seems to immediately disappear along the way to her syncretic conclusions.

In the spirit of faith

Roderick Strange in The Tablet
These two elements in catechesis are not, of course, mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are allies. Mastery of the information leads to intimacy with the person; intimacy with the person stirs a thirst for deeper knowledge. Nevertheless, particularly since the Second Vatican Council, they have often been presented as opposed. There has been controversy. Information and personal intimacy, instead of being seen as companions, have sometimes been cast as antagonists. There have been those who have insisted on the importance of content, and those who have championed process. Naturally, supporters of both approaches explained that they were arguing for particular emphasis, but the effect has tended to make one undermine the other. The weakness in both viewpoints, when taken to extremes, has been to assume that, if one element were secure, the other would follow automatically.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Steeple chase

JoAnne Cleaver reported in last Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the Ozaukee Baptist Church.
The tiny flock realizes it can no longer afford its own building, and plans to celebrate Easter today in the American Legion building in Cedarburg.

It's the little white church building that needs a new owner to write the next chapter in its 102-year life.

It's for sale for $250,000. It could be a fine artists' studio, or a quaint antique store, or with some elbow grease and inspiration, a house.

Or, with more people, even a church.

Administration works to define education

Brittany Clement reports on alma mater in the Marquette Tribune
With a provisional version of the university's strategic planning goals tentatively set to go public next month, there is still work to be done in the details, especially with regard to the phrase "transformational education."

And with regard to the word "detail". Like the detail that the MU administration doesn't know what it's talking about.
While Provost Madeline Wake said everything in the strategic planning goals revolves around transformational education, a definition for the term has not yet been reached.

The university's administration is "still grappling with the notion of how to communicate what we mean by transformational education," she said. "The exact wording and exact direction are not determined yet."

April 21-23 Co-Workers of Truth & Heralds of Holiness

The Institute for Religious Life has this theme for its National Meeting at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois.

Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, Oregon, will give the keynote address.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Safe Passages

That's the title of this presentation on the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's web site.

After a brief description, it says

For more information, open the flyer below.

Open the flyer and you see the subtitle is "Sexuality and Adolescent Females."
Please join in the unique and beneficial opportunity for eighth grade girls and their mothers (or significant adult female caretakers) to talk about the transition from grade school to high school.

Presenter, Jane Foley
Advocate of the Sensitive Crimes Victims Services
Milwaukee District Attorney's Office

That might be a leading cultural indicator when the "transition from grade school to high school" means the DA's office briefing Catholic girls on avoiding being a sex crime victim.

St. Peter's 500th

Today is the 500th anniversary of the start of construction of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.
It is now known that a perfection of planned layout is achieved only by institutions on the point of collapse. ...

Thus, to the casual tourist, awestruck in front of St. Peter's, Rome, the Basilica and the Vatican must seem the ideal setting for the Papal Monarchy at the very height of its prestige and power. ... But a glance at the guidebook will convince the traveler that the really powerful Popes reigned long before the dome was raised, and reigned not infrequently somewhere else. ... The great days of the Papacy were over before the perfect setting was even planned. They were almost forgotten by the date of its completion.

-- C. Northcote Parkinson, Parkinson's Law (1957), Ch. 6

Monday, April 17, 2006

Is Paris Turning?

Matthew W. Maguire in Touchstone
Last year, the secular national newspaper Le Monde (the French equivalent of The New York Times) acknowledged that the death of Pope John Paul II revealed a more religious France than many expected, most visible among certain segments of a younger generation of students and professionals who are at least interested in and often very sympathetic to John Paul’s life and thought.

April 19 Stem Cell Research: Considerations for Catholics

Bioethicist Susan McCarthy will speak on this topic to the Peter Favre Forum, Wednesday morning at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee.
Susan McCarthy will present us with information covering the context of stem cell research regarding where we are and where we have been. She will discuss the science and the promise as well as the applications of stem cell research -- cell therapies, transplantation, and gene therapy. And she will address the ethical challenges and moral considerations including the use of human embryos, complicity in wrong-doing, and resource allocation.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

"This Day in History" throughout the Year 2033 ...

Scott La Counte in the Wittenburg Door
Because of a translation error in the New Deconstructed Living Bible, many pastors replaced communion bread with cheese.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Opposition is Futile

From the Diary of a City Parishioner
I was asked why I did not object that only the options presented by Father Richard S. Vosko are being considered for the reordering (which the Rector keeps on saying is the restoration) of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. One reason--not the only one, but sufficient--is that objection is futile.

Surely there are all kinds of meetings at which he can give his input. After all, doesn't the post-conciliar Church value what ordinary parishioners have to say? Experience shows to the contrary.

He starts his illustration of the actual process in reverse order, with step two. To illustrate, he quotes Archbishop Weakland in the course of the Milwaukee Cathedral renovation.

He said renovation opponents sought recourse too late. "If they had done it months before, we could have taken it into consideration," he said.

He then returns to step one.
If asked why I do not object to the plans now, before it is "too late," the answer is that we have been told again and again that "there are no plans"--the interior committee is still studying and has not made any decisions.

If you're not too late, you're too soon.

You might be thinking it's so manipulative, how could the people involved not realize this? Exactly.

I went to a parish council meeting at St. Al's a few years back with a concern about the then-proposed building project. Perhaps providentially, our then-pastor was absent. I raised my concern and said I thought that the meeting that night was the only one that might not be too soon or too late. The council president congratulated me, saying she believed I might have "successfully threaded that needle." While the building project went ahead, there's a slight chance that my taking that time was a small factor in mitigating one aspect of the disaster.

So it's not necessarily futile. It is merely almost certainly futile.

We thought Rome would never notice

The National Catholic Reporter on a Catholic News Service interview with the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Pietro Sambi
He also was impressed with the level of Mass attendance and the generosity of U.S. Catholics. In some respects he sounded as if he had more enthusiasm than one might expect from some of our own bishops.

Some of our own bishops might be more aware that the level of Mass attendance and generosity have been trending like General Motors' market share and finances.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bringing Christ's love to the bereaved: a ministry for Catholic parishes

Fr. Dennis Byrnes in A.D. 2000
Amazingly there are people who after hearing the news that a friend has experienced loss to death, choose not to visit in person. Such people may send a note or make a quick phone call, but they avoid if possible the personal touch of going to the home of the bereaved.

Yet the death of a loved family member or friend is one of life's most severe blows and one from which the bereaved can only recover with the comfort and consolation extended by others through their caring presence and that of the parish community.

The greatest gift we can offer at this time is our presence.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Faith Matters

Matt Dellinger interviews Peter J. Boyer in The New Yorker. Here, Boyer gives an outsider's perspective.
The difference with the Catholic Church, though, and the mainline Protestant churches is that the Catholic Church can ultimately reel in clergy that have gone too far. There is an authority and a central Church teaching. There was a huge acrimonious debate about homosexuality in the Catholic Church, but now there's no doubt about what Church teaching is, and, at the end of the day, the Pope dispatches his guardian of the faith and cracks the whip.

Liturgies at the L.A. Religious Ed. Congress

Among the choices were Misa de las Americas with acoustic guitar, Young Adult Liturgy with acoustic guitar, and Justice & Peace Liturgy with The St. Louis Jesuits on acoustic guitar.

(via Diogenes at Off the Record)

Taking Back the Faith

Dan Wakefield in The Nation
A young man in Boston came up to [Rev. Jim] Wallis after one of his bookstore talks and said, "I'm gay, and I want to thank you for making me feel welcome tonight. But you know, it's easier to come out being gay in Boston than it is coming out as religious in the Democratic Party."

The African-American attorney Van Jones, founder and executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland (which challenges human rights abuses in the prison system) wrote on the Internet: "It is still commonplace to hear so-called radicals stereotyping all religious people as stupid dupes--and spitting out the word 'Christian' as if it were an insult, or the name of a disease. I thought progressives were supposed to be the standard-bearers of tolerance and inclusion."

Former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, an adviser to Union Theological Seminary, says:

You don't go into a liberal community and talk about your faith and your prayers--they snicker. So in divorcing it you lose track of it, you forget why we should care about social justice--is it just so we could be fair? What's the underlying principle of equality? We didn't talk about the values that underlie policy--why are we against racism, poverty? A lot of these issues I believe in come from my religious upbringing.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

April 13 Archbishop Dolan on Relevant Radio

I'm told that Archbishop Dolan will be on The Right Questions with Sheila Liaugminas tomorrow 1:00 p.m. Central Time to talk about vocations and his book Priests for the Third Millennium.

They will re-air this interview during their local show, Relevant to You, Good Friday morning from 9:00 a.m.. It can be heard on 100.1 FM Milwaukee and 1550 AM Lake Geneva.

Where's the Artistic Freedom?

Ramin Setoodeh in Newsweek interviews Mel Brooks.
[Q.] Have you ever needed to fight off zombies?

[A.] A lot of people I work for in the studios were zombies, they just didn't know it.

Religion: who needs it?

Bryan Appleyard in New Statesman
Religion, in my view, can only be properly understood as something like emotion: an innate condition of our existence and a form of our perception of the world. When its expression is denied or refused in one direction, it will simply find another. An inability to grasp this explains the deep and abiding failure of the secular imagination to grasp the dynamics of the post-cold war world in which religion has come to play such a huge part.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Our Father Who art holding hands

Karl Keating takes up the origin of the practice of the congregation holding hands during the Lord's Prayer at Mass.
The current issue of the "Adoremus Bulletin" says this in response to a query from a priest in the Bronx:
"No gesture for the people during the Lord's Prayer is mentioned in the official documents. The late liturgist Fr. Robert Hovda promoted holding hands during this prayer, a practice he said originated in Alcoholics Anonymous. Some 'charismatic' groups took up the practice."

My long-time sense had been that hand-holding at the Our Father was an intrusion from charismaticism, but I had not been aware of the possible connection with AA.

(via Ten Reasons)

Archbishop Weakland took up this topic in his January 7, 2000 letter to the priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Holding hands is another matter. This is not a rubric approved by either the local bishop, or the Conference of bishops, or Rome. It entered the Catholic Church through the Charismatic Renewal and has no tradition among us. Some dislike it very much and will not participate at Mass at certain parishes because of it. Personally, I find it childish and uncharitable -- in that it makes so many people, especially elderly, feel uncomfortable. I have no idea how my successor would deal with it, but my prognosis is that this innovation will not last long.

It's still lasting at St. Al's. Our pastor introduces the hand-holding as showing that we are a family.

He quotes Archbishop Weakland regularly but not on this topic.

Meatless recipes promoting spiritual health

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee features an article from each week's issue of our Catholic Herald.

From the last issue it selected this article by Maryangela Layman Roman on how Carol Richey decided to compile a meatless cookbook [Word].

After joining the Catholic Church in 1993 and learning more about abstaining, Richey found she still had trouble with the practice.

Without meat, what was she to make for her family for dinner?

At that point, a cradle Catholic would have been opening a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

Harnessing the past

Dennis McCann in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel visits with the Amish in Green Lake County. The Amish, too, have had to do some reorganizing.
The Amish worship in homes, so when a district gets too large to fit everyone into one home for prayer, it is divided. A decade ago, there were four districts; today there are nine with between 18 and 30 families each, [William] Schrock said.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Conversing across the generations

Bishop Richard J. Sklba in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald elaborates on his dialogue with a Dutch Reformed Church campus minister at the recent World Council of Churches meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
She felt strongly that Christianity had become synonymous with too many rules imposed on younger generations without an appreciation for the need to modernize the faith and relax the rules.

She's from the EU and worries that the Church has too many rules? He didn't have that comeback, but he did have an extended response.

Then he thought of what he should have said.

I wanted to add that what might feel like mere "rules" were in fact truths sadly discovered in the course of life. Anyone acting otherwise was sure to be hurt eventually, and perhaps badly wounded. The major "rules" were succinct ways of passing on great wisdom, at least that’s the way I see them.

He said similar things about the rules known as rubrics. A few months later he sounded like the campus minister, denouncing rubricism as heresy. I hope we won't be reading his self-denunciation for "rulism" in a few months.



The cast of distinct and memorable characters, the essentially simple but deftly constrived plot, the sombre atmosphere of the opening and closing scenes, the wonderful balance of crowds in action and intimate detail, all picture a whole civilization and yet endure as types and symbols and as a very human story. --Zeph Stewart, The Harvard guide to influential books: 113 distinguished Harvard professors discuss the books that have helped to shape their thinking (1986), edited by C. Maury Devine, Kim D. Parrish, and Claudia Dissell, p. 238, on The Iliad

Compared with the heroic grandeur of the Iliad, the adventures of the wily Odysseus can indeed seem a mere crowd-pleasing romance: travelers' tales, folklore monsters, exotic islands, femmes fatales both mortal and divine, and domestic drama complete with a happy ending—these are the stuff of boys' novels and other light diversions. --Bruce S. Thornton, Clever, Enduring Odysseus, Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2008/09

Let us recall—Polyphemus is a Cyclops, not human. For that matter, the amount of alcohol Polyphemus consumed indicates that he was smashed, not that his suffering resulted from his other metabolism being different from that of Odysseus. Finally, Polyphemus violates the laws of hospitality and eats two of Odysseus’ men a day. Whatever his cyclopean virtues, multicultural dialogue between Polyphemus and the Greeks seems unlikely. --Zbigniew Janowski, The Odyssey of the 'Odyssey', First Things, November 2008, review of The Return of Ulysses: A Cultural History of Homer’s Odyssey, by Edith Hall

Of course, the Odyssey is the ancestor of all Western road novels. --Steve Coates, A Long, Strange Trip, The New York Times, August 22, 2008, review of The Return of Ulysses: A Cultural History of Homer’s Odyssey, by Edith Hall

Manguel nominates two English versions for acclaim: Alexander Pope's (Iliad, 1715-1720; Odyssey, 1725-26) and the late Robert Fagles's (Iliad, 1990; Odyssey, 1996), using the latter for his citations. As Manguel says, Fagles is rightly "praised for his accuracy and modern ring"; others (like me) prefer Pope's music and nobility. --Joseph Tartakovsky, Man of a Thousand Faces, Claremont Review of Books, Summer 2008, review of Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey: A Biography, by Alberto Manguel

Violence is not approved of in itself by the Greeks, but all the values that they most admire — the nobility, pride and power, glamour and strength of barbaric chieftains — flourish only in the context of violence and must be fed by it continuously. Failure of these values provokes shame, the opposite of the assumption of responsibility, and shame provokes disaster. -- Kenneth Rexroth, Homer, The Iliad, Classics Revisited (1968)

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
--John Keats, On First Looking into Chapman's Homer (1816)

A Little Iliad, review by Daniel Mendelsohn of Troy, a film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, New York Review of Books, June 24, 2004

Homer & the power of men that have chests, by Christopher B. Nelson, The New Criterion, November 2003

Morality and Virtue in Poetry and Philosophy: A Reading of Homer's Iliad XXIV, by Hektor K. T. Yan, Humanitas, 2003 No. 1


Sometimes the trip that starts out on the wrong foot can prove to be the most rewarding. You know, showing the fortitude to overcome the initial hassles (missed connection! lost luggage!) and disappointments (tiny cabin! tainted seviche!) can turn a vacation into a journey, leisure into fulfillment. Such is the case in tagging along with the travel writer Justin Marozzi in “The Way of Herodotus,” as he follows in the footsteps of one of the world’s first travel writers and, yes, “father of history.” --Tobin Harshaw, Antique Road Show, The New York Times, February 19, 2009, review of The Way of Herodotus: Travels With the Man Who Invented History, by Justin Marozzi

Recommended reading:
by Herodotus at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

...he was thousands of years ahead of contemporary academics in terms of multiculturalism and valuing the contributions of ordinary people, not just kings and generals. --David Luhrssen, Shepherd Express, April 20, 2009, review of The Way of Herodotus: Travels With the Man Who Invented History, by Justin Marozzi

A Modern Aesop, by G.W. Bowersock, review of Travels with Herodotus, by Ryszard Kapuscinski, The New Republic Online, September 20, 2007

Herodotus’ tone has misled many critics. It is almost colloquial, folkloristic — another Odysseus spellbinding an audience of prosperous farmers with the tall tales of The Odyssey. The narrative is so exciting that it has taken the careful archeology of this century to overcome our tendency to disbelief. --Kenneth Rexroth, Herodotus, History, Classics Revisited (1968)

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Amendment can't protect us from moral claims

John Huebscher, executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, was among the authors of this op-ed against the Taxpayer Protection Amendment in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
It is telling that backers of the amendment wrap it in the rhetoric of "protection." Such language represents yet another appeal to our fears and our discomfort with the uncertainties of life in society.

What's telling is Mr. Huebscher's willingness to use this mode of argument against the TPA. Here are reports of his lobbying on behalf of the WCC for the Human Embryo Protection Act and the WCC's work on the Family Farm Protection Act.

Update: More at Dad29.

P.S. Lest we forget, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Taking on their pain, turning it into hope

Marie Rohde reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a visit by Bishop T.D. Jakes to Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee.
He drew thunderous applause when he told the largely female crowd:

"The enemy is fighting you in how you raise your children! I want you to touch every mother in here and tell her, 'You are making a difference!' "

Citing Impact on Common Good, WCC Opposes Taxpayer Protection Amendment

In this press release, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference announced the Wisconsin bishops' opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment limiting tax increases unless approved in a referendum. Most interesting was not only that they opposed it in principle, but on what principle. In written testimony to the Legislature, John Huebscher, the bishops' lobbyist said,
"... It [the amendment] relies on an impersonal formula rather than the judgment of elected officials to define the scope of our government response to society's needs ..."

An argument better suited to testimony to the British Parliament a few decades ago. Here in America, constitutions are very much about limitations on the judgment of elected officials.

Seems to me that Catholic bishops aren't, at the moment, in the best position to argue for relying on the judgment of the people in charge rather than impersonal rules. They're more of an object lesson for the other side of that debate.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Cousins Center may be sold

Marie Rohde reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Dad29 analyzes.

A sidebar in the article has some statistics from Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

45.6 million: U.S. Catholics in 1965
64.8 million: U.S. Catholics in 2005
58,632: U.S. priests in 1965
42,839: U.S. priests in 2005

CARA has these stats and more here. Mass attendance was 67% in 1965 and 45% in 2004, the last year reported. That works out to 30,552,000 Catholics at Mass in 1965 and 29,160,000 in 2004/5. Considering just Mass-attending Catholics, there were 521 Catholics per priest in 1965 and 680 in 2004/5.

Making the case for euthanasia

Frans Dijkstra in Trouw via The Week
Let me "set the record straight." The Netherlands does allow infants to be put to death, but only under very narrow circumstances.

Righteous Indignation

Or N. Rose in Tikkun interviews William Sloane Coffin
Tikkun: Having raised the issue of "compassionate conservatism" as it relates to women and children, what are your thoughts on the current round of abortion debates?

WSC: This is a complicated question because there is morality on both sides. We must understand that while science can help us with biological and other factual definitions, questions of when life begins and ends are moral mysteries, and as such cannot be proven or disproven. ...

He talks as if the existence of doubtful cases disproves the existence of clear cases.
An important question is this: How in a democratic society can you call a crime that which many people do not even consider a sin? It might be emotionally satisfying, but hardly morally satisfying.

It would seem to follow that, in his view of democracy, if there are people who do not believe in sin, nothing could be made a crime.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Benedict Starts to Put His Stamp on the Vatican's Bureaucracy

Edward Pentin in National Catholic Register on reaction to mergers of some pontifical councils (which sound like commissions as opposed to the Vatican congregations or departments).
Father Justo Lacunza-Balda, director of the Pontifical Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies, said the changes denote a changing role for the pontifical councils, all of which were created after the Second Vatican Council.

"Councils perhaps run the risk of being ivory towers with lots of photocopies being sent out and not much interaction," he said.

Rosemary Radford Ruether is reported to have said she stays with the Church because "That's where the Xerox machines are." Usually she's understood to have meant the photocopies are a means to an end, but perhaps not.

Godless Europe

Mark Lilla in The New York Times reviews Earthly Powers: The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe From the French Revolution to the Great War by Michael Burleigh.
The Old World is different: though Christian belief remains strong in some European countries, like Poland, and Islam is a potent force among Muslims across the Continent, contemporary Europe is the closest thing to a godless civilization the world has ever known. Does this place it in the vanguard of world history? That is what many Europeans think, which is why they have been caught off guard by the challenge of radical Islam even in their own backyard.

Crying Out Against the Despair of Militarism

From Peace Work, the pre-sentencing statement of Donte Smith, a 19 years old "student, labor organizer, and social justice activist" arrested at the arrested at the School of the Americas Watch (SOA) protest at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation [WHINSEC] at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Some of us employed theatrics (i.e. las Puppetistas) to express our own personal sorrow about the institutions like WHINSEC.

And now, the results of that hearing.
Donte Smith was sentenced to three months in prison and a $500 fine.

Da Vinci, templars and the third secret of Fatima

Robert P. Lockwood in Our Sunday Visitor reviews The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury, and The Third Secret by Steve Berry.
The plots in all three books involve intrepid couples running around the globe tracking down a hidden historical truth that will prove the Catholic faith to be illusory.

P.S. Screwtape On 'The DaVinci Code'

Extraordinary Awards to be Provided from Excess Catholic Stewardship Appeal Funds

The Appeal more than met its goal, and so
Once again this year, Catholic parishes, schools and agencies in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have the opportunity to apply for the awards, which will be given to programs that are directly related to providing Catholic education or service to the poor.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Milwaukee Seminary to Close

Dad29 modifies his prediction and summarizes what Archbishop Dolan announces in tomorrow's "Herald of Hope" column [temporary URL] in our Catholic Herald.

Update: High-quality formation remains archdiocesan priority

An American Iliad

Garry Wills in The New York Review of Books reviews At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965–68 by Taylor Branch.
Though Branch does not indulge in such contemporary references, I thought instantly of the difference between this outpouring of religious support for the beaten [civil rights] marchers and the eruption of right-wing religiosity that sent President Bush hurrying to Washington to block a court order on Terri Schiavo's condition.

No More Need for the Silly "Bible"

Dennis York on a Florida State University professor's study seeking a natural explanation for a reported miracle.
The headline ["Did Jesus walk on water? Or ice?"] for this story is all wrong. It should be "Florida State Professor Steals Money from Taxpayers." Seriously-- this guy should wear a black ski mask to work.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Holy Father, I have a Question

From Lay Witness
On October 15, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI met with seven Italian children who had received their First Communion during the year or who were to receive it shortly. After greeting the children, the Holy Father answered their questions regarding the Eucharist. The following is a translation from Italian of the Pope's conversation with the children.

Science and the Church

Daniel Sullivan in Policy Review on The Church and Galileo, edited by Ernan McMullin, essays on the report of Pope John Paul II's Galileo Commission
By accepting a historical approach to its past, the Church makes a significant accommodation. It declares that one can explain why and how men -- even churchmen -- acted the way they did in purely human terms. In other words, academic history elucidates the past without mentioning God: Men in every time period act within the context of that period and from the spectrum of conflicting human motivations. Of course, the Church would not consent to such a notion if it seemed inherently to compromise Providential history. In other words, the history of mankind, in its view, can consist of both the complex back-and-forth of limited men in their particular lifetimes and the constant working of an eternal God.

Caring for 'least of my brethren' in name of Jesus

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan continues his columns on Lenten themes with this one on a presentation at Messmer High School by Marilyn Gambrell, subject of Fighting the Odds and founder No More Victims.

Monday, April 3, 2006

A Community of Faith and Fear

Matthias Gebauer in Kabul for Spiegel
While Christians in Kabul, who mostly come from the Philippines, can hold masses in Kabul, they have to do so in secret. The head of a small foreign congregation, an ophthalmologist from the United States, declined to talk about the issue last week. Christian groups are often suspected of being missionaries; therefore it's better to keep a low profile. His own church is completely unrecognizable as such, apart from a (relief of a) fish on the outer wall.

Limbo Faces Abolition

News reports by Sue Roberts John Ruddy in Philosophy Now
The Roman Catholic Church is set to renounce the centuries-old doctrine of limbo.

For centuries many in the Church claimed that the souls of infants who die before they can be baptised go to a place called limbo, which is between heaven and hell ('Limbo' comes from the Latin limbus, meaning 'edge'.)

Already we've gone from doctrine to what many people claimed for a long time. It surprises me that people at a philosophy magazine would equate those. As to why it was suggested souls would go to limbo,
Being innocents, they don't deserve to go to hell, but being burdened by Original Sin, and unredeemed by baptism, they cannot reach heaven.

Whether or not it was doctrine, it made sense.
However, the new Pope is a long-term critic of the concept (which never had the status of official doctrine), and a commission of cardinals is expected to denounce it soon.

Presumably saying that limbo, which was not a doctrine, is not a doctrine.

While they're at it, they might address the relationship of a limbo which does not exist to the hell into which Christ descended.

After all, others have issues they think the commission's report might touch. For example, Father Richard McBrien claimed in this recent column

The theological stakes are high because, if Limbo goes, so, too, does the traditional view of Original Sin. It may be that everyone is born in the state of grace, and that grace is ours to lose through mortal sin alone.

Which, though he doesn't say so explicitly, would mean there is no need for Baptism, contrary to what you might have read.

Beyond Belief

Amy M. Braverman reports in the University of Chicago Magazine
In 2004 two first-years, Sarah Bramsen and Josh Sauerman, approached their HBC [Human Being and Citizen course] teacher and helped spark a wider lesson. When instructor Thomas Bartscherer, AM'97, a doctoral student in the Committee on Social Thought, briefly mentioned the documentary hypothesis--the theory that multiple hands, rather than one, contributed to the five books of Moses--Bramsen and Sauerman asked Bartscherer about it after class. Bramsen, who grew up in Indiana and Illinois attending multiple Christian-denomination churches, had never heard that Moses may not have been the sole author of the Pentateuch.

Perhaps those churches taught he wrote parts of it posthumously.

Communities 'walking together' in Walworth County

Sam Lucero reports in our Catholic Herald
[Fr. Bob Stiefvater] said that in 1992, pastors in District 3, which includes Walworth County, met to discuss the 1990 Census finding that some 2,000 Hispanics were living in that county.

"They weren’t going to anybody's church, so they started questioning, 'Where are they?'" he said.

Now if we could just get priests to notice the same thing about every other group everywhere in the Archdiocese.
[Fr. Josegerman Zapata] said the church needs to offer more programs in Spanish.

The Hispanic-themed articles in our Catholic Herald are in English only, as far as I can tell.
Although integration is important, Fr. Zapata believes maintaining traditional religious practices is equally vital.

This wouldn't seem patronizing if there was more openness to maintaining traditions in general.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

7:00 PM Communal Reconciliation--Rite II

In his inaugural post, Mike commented on the state of our Archdiocese of Milwaukee, noting
There is still use of General Absolution at large parishes.

Since it's not supposed to be used, you might wonder how that can be. Here's how it's happening at St. Al's.

As a catechist, I received the class schedule which says student attendance is mandatory at tonight's Reconciliation service. A few weeks ago I heard that because some kids became unruly at an earlier reconciliation service for younger children, tonight's would be Rite III, general absolution. I discussed this with our pastor in person, and followed up by email. While the parish bulletins for last week [p. 2, pdf] and this week [p. 2, pdf] say Rite II, which includes individual confession, it was announced at Mass today that the service would be General Absolution.

I've been hearing that this is how it's done at other large parishes, as well. The parish bulletins are worded to conceal that General Absolution is being used. Maybe it's part of the local priests' union's General Absolution Action Plan.

Here's the pertinent Catholic faith and theology FAQ from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Q. Is attending a Reconciliation Service with general absolution the same as attending a Reconciliation Service with individual confession and absolution?

A. A general absolution cannot be imparted unless:
the danger of death is imminent and there is not time for the priest or priests to hear the confessions of the individuals or
a serious necessity exists when the confessions of the individual penitents cannot be heard within a suitable time and the penitents are deprived of the sacrament.

The above is based on Canon 961, section 1. Section 2 goes on to say,
It belongs to the diocesan bishop to judge whether the conditions required according to the norm of [section] 1, n. 2 are present.

That is, whether general absolution is permitted absent the danger of death. Archbishop Dolan has given his answer.
The Second Vatican Council, far from discouraging the Sacrament of Penance, encourages it. Regrettably, it began to decline after the Council. Some priests began to offer “general absolution,” where, at the conclusion of a communal service of reconciliation, sacrament absolution, without personal, individual confession, was given.

While communal services to prepare for the sacrament are most effective and most laudable, individual, personal confession must always follow for a genuine celebration of the sacrament. Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, countless documents of the Holy See, Archbishop Cousins, Archbishop Weakland, and now yours truly offer a strong reminder that "general absolution" is not allowed.

The parish asks people like me to donate our time to teach kids material that includes the importance of individual confession, and charges parents tuition to have their kids learn this, and then our pastor goes out of his way to contradict it. It's part of a pattern at my parish.


Upcoming Event at All Saints Church

Call To Action Wisconsin seems to think it has a meeting scheduled there on gay seminarians and on gay marriage. The parish web site shows as upcoming a November 24, 2005 Thanksgiving Dinner. So unless Rep. Kessler has a time machine and Bishop Gumbleton is a stuffed turkey, another parish web site is not being updated.

On the All Saints home page is a message from Father Carl Diederichs, the pastor.

In order to tell you how I see my call to service I would like to go, of all places, to the Code of Canon Law. Canon 529, paragraph 1, has become a very important part of my daily prayer. I want to share this Canon with you.

He paraphrases, but I'll quote,
In order to fulfill his office diligently, a pastor is to strive to know the faithful entrusted to his care. Therefore he is to visit families, sharing especially in the cares, anxieties, and griefs of the faithful, strengthening them in the Lord, and prudently correcting them if they are failing in certain areas. With generous love he is to help the sick, particularly those close to death, by refreshing them solicitously with the sacraments and commending their souls to God; with particular diligence he is to seek out the poor, the afflicted, the lonely, those exiled from their country, and similarly those weighed down by special difficulties. He is to work so that spouses and parents are supported in fulfilling their proper duties and is to foster growth of Christian life in the family.

Father Diederichs goes on
On my part, I promise you that I will do my very best to live according to the Canons of the church and the beatitudes of Jesus Christ.

Presumably those Canons include the second section of Canon 529.
A pastor is to recognize and promote the proper part which the lay members of the Christian faithful have in the mission of the Church, by fostering their associations for the purposes of religion. He is to cooperate with his own bishop and the presbyterium of the diocese, also working so that the faithful have concern for parochial communion, consider themselves members of the diocese and of the universal Church, and participate in and sustain efforts to promote this same communion.

Hosting at his parish an event prohibited at the Cathedral isn't obvious cooperation with his own bishop.

This October 3, 2002 Catholic Herald article might clarify. When Fr. Diedrichs was ordained, he was assigned as an associate pastor at the Cathedral at the insistence of Fr. Carl Last, its pastor and rector. It was, of course, Fr. Last who allowed the CTA event at the Cathedral until overruled by Archbishop Dolan (see this earlier post)

Fr. Diedrichs gives this description of his call from consulting for parishes to ordination.

"As I was working with church after church after church, and realizing the power of the pastor, what you could do for good or how often it was misused, I thought, 'Hey, look, this is what I've wanted all my life.'"

Of course, there might be some disagreement about what constitute's "misuse."
He said he feels a bit mixed about newly installed Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan. "We knew what we had but we don't know what we're getting. I'm anxious to sit down with (Dolan). I'm anxious to know how he and I may agree on Catholic social teaching ..."

They could just pick up the Compendium of same, and read together section 228 "concerning demands for the legal recognition of unions between homosexual persons."

The last series of parish reorganization meetings produced these Directives for District 13 [pdf 16 pp.]. Regarding the cluster of parishes including All Saints, it says on p. 9,

Finally, we heard each parish in District 13 express concern that although the diocese and other churches outside the district remain aware of and connected to the plight of the poor and disenfranchised who come to your parishes for assistance and human warmth, you face overwhelming needs with limited resources.

If I had contributed to the outreach appeal at my parish for these inner city parishes, how do I know I'm not just putting a roof over dissent from the social teaching of the Church rather than assisting the poor and disenfranchised?

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Gilligan in Purgatory

Robert Hornak in the Wittenburg Door
I mean, I don't even think I really believe in this place anyway. Or at the very least, I thought it was for Catholics only.

Controversial Christian Faction Believes Jesus Was Nailed To Two Parallel Pieces Of Wood

from The Onion

Is it time for humanists to start holding services?

Dave Belden in New Humanist
Even atheists may call these experiences 'spiritual' since spirit can just mean 'breath'.