Monday, July 31, 2006

Bishops' Letter about Age for Celebrating Confirmation

Early on, it has a bit of local history.
For the past 27 years, since 1979, the practice of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has been that our young people approach the sacrament of confirmation around the age of 16 or 17, usually in junior year of high school.

This change was early in Archbishop Weakland's administration. Was there something specific that change was supposed to accomplish? Are there objective measures showing whether it has or hasn't? Neither the letter nor the Catholic Herald report (see previous post) say.

The letter began in the plural, but mid-way Bishop Sklba disappears.

A little over a year ago, I (Archbishop Dolan) received a very thoughtful letter, signed by hundreds of our faithful, asking me to consider changing our praxis here in the archdiocese, to have our young people receive the sacrament in junior high school. I certainly wanted to take their request seriously, so I asked our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council -- that consultative body consisting of an elected lay representative from each of the 16 districts of the archdiocese, plus a delegate from the priests, deacons, and religious women and men -- to undertake a careful review of the question.

While the members of the APC might be elected, the parish councils which elect them often are not. So it is (presumably unintentionally) misleading to talk of the APC as an elected representative body.
They consulted with theologians, parents, catechists, and young people themselves, and hosted two town-meeting-style listening sessions in a sincere desire to assess the pros and cons of the different ages.

The Catholic Herald report did not so describe the first session. Unless procedure has changed, Archdiocesan listening sessions are not conducted "town-meeting-style". Unlike a town meeting, listening sessions are structured to filter out minority views, much like the use of discernment and consensus do in our parish councils. And so it was no surprise that the regular meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, they unanimously recommended that the practice of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee continue as it is, and that our young people receive the sacrament at 16 or 17.

While we, your bishops, personally fully support the custom of the archdiocese to confirm our young people at 16 or 17, we admit it is not the answer to everything, and that there are problems with it.

Which they, or he, go(es) on to describe. But it's because there were problems that hundreds of parents wrote to Archbishop Dolan, who they knew was inclined to the earlier age. Neither the letter nor the Catholic Herald report say anything about follow-up to address problems. Why should there be when the DREs just got what looks like a unanimous vote of confidence in the status quo?


No change in confirmation age

Maryangela Layman Roman reports in our Catholic Herald. A little rearranging of the story will clarify how the process works.
Archbishop Dolan admitted that four years ago when he was appointed archbishop of Milwaukee, he expected not to like conferral of the sacrament at age 16 or 17.

He came to us from the Archdiocese of St. Louis which confirms in the seventh or eighth grade, presumably for a reason.
Discussion concerning the age began after Archbishop Dolan received written requests, including a letter signed by 500 to 600 Catholics, requesting that the age for reception of confirmation in the archdiocese be lowered to junior high age.

They shared what was known to be Archbishop Dolan's opinion. In response, he launched what is called a consultation process in two sessions.
...the first on Jan. 28 at Dominican High School was a study day where the 230 participants heard about the history of the sacrament and the practices of dioceses across the United States.

If Milwaukee Catholics complained that their time was being wasted with pointless meetings, the Archdiocesan staff would invite them to a Saturday of studying the issue. Or maybe two.
Part two was held at the Cousins Center on Feb. 25, open only to those who had participated in part one. During this gathering, individuals with similar thoughts on the proper age were grouped and formulated written proposals defending what they believe to be the proper age for reception of the sacrament.

The participants voted overwhelmingly for the status quo. Then
...the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council unanimously recommended the practice of young people receiving the sacrament at age 16 or 17 be continued.

So what we thought was Archbishop Dolan's opinion and that of 500 to 600 Catholics in the Archdiocese could not get one vote in the APC.
The bishops accepted its recommendation.

Bishops? I missed the announcement of Bishop Sklba becoming coadjutor.

Why the unanimous vote in the APC?

Archbishop Dolan said he found it interesting the so-called "professional religious educators" were virtually unanimous in wishing that the age remain as it is.

"The major thrust of those who felt it should be changed were parents. ..."

And parish councils and the APC are not structured to represent the concerns of parishioners but to shield the staff from them. Note the story cites no specifics on how effective the current confirmation programs are or how they measure up against any standard or against other dioceses. The Archdiocese's web site has these numbers
Baptisms: 9,560 (Infant 9,213; Adult 347)
First communions: 8,607
Confirmations: 6,038
Given our stable population, that looks like over 2,500 a year who are not confirmed.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kathy Sullivan Vandenberg 'Takes Five'

In this page two interview feature in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tom Heinen talks with
Kathy Sullivan Vandenberg, 64, a member of St. Mary Parish in Waukesha, is one of eight Roman Catholic women who expect to be ordained as priests Monday in an unofficial ceremony the Vatican considers invalid.

Catching up on news that hadn't made the paper before
Vandenberg was unofficially ordained a deacon a year ago on a riverboat that blurred jurisdictional lines by going down the St. Lawrence River in Ontario to the U.S.-Canadian border.

Mr. Heinen asked for "official" reaction.
(An archdiocesan spokeswoman told the Journal Sentinel on Friday that Vandenberg has had a "time of discernment" and that her case will be forwarded to the Vatican if she goes through with Monday's ordination and does not recant.)

No word if that means a real recantation or a pretend recantation, like that of Fr. David Cooper.

Update: Diogenes at Off the Record notes it was all very cordial.

The 'un-Calatrava' touch

Whitney Gould reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the local design work by architect Jim Shields, including
The renovation and courtyard addition of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist downtown.

The article returns to this topic.
"When we ran into cost overruns that we couldn't afford, he redesigned things on a dime," says Father Carl Last, rector of the Cathedral of St. John. "And what he redesigned was even better than the first version."

I recall it as fundraising underruns. Fool me once ...
The cathedral project was especially meaningful to Shields, a devout Catholic, who worked closely with a national liturgical consultant on the interior.

Who Dare Not Speak His Name?
Nevertheless, some Catholics denounced some of the changes and even sought intervention from the Vatican to halt the project.

Now, four years after its completion, Shields points proudly to a scholarly article by a conservative priest, praising the project's workmanship, materials and understanding of theology.

I've heard no critcism of the project's workmanship or materials. Since the article is not identified, it's hard to judge its argument for the project's understanding of theology.

Update: Richard S. Vosko, Ph. D. (via The cafeteria is closed ...)

Update: The article is "The Renovation of the Milwaukee Cathedral" by William Turner from the Fall/Winter 2003 issue of the journal of The Institute for Sacred Architecture. Only the issue's table of contents is online, not the text of the articles.

America is much more than Marlboros and Coke

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald tells of a recent address to the U.S. Bishops by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio.
What do people around the world associate with Americans? Is it this peace, generosity, big-heartedness, and passion for liberty and fairness we all know is the spirit of this country and people we love? Or is it Coca Cola, Marlboro, jeans from "the Gap," news coverage from CNN, and re-runs of violent, near-promiscuous TV shows about which we have all become blase?

I've heard that our foreign policy can sometimes be controversial.

Pope John Paul II random quote generator

at Fish Eaters.

Would be funnier if he were still alive and writing, see, generally, Sources of Renewal: The Implementation of Vatican II (1972) by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (tranlated by P. S. Falla, 1975)

(via Catholic and Enjoying It!)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

More students, fewer spaces

Megan Twohey reported in last Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that it's getting harder to be admitted to the University of Wisconsin. In recent decades,
The UW System administration saw UW-Milwaukee, with its doctoral status, large size and urban setting, as a place to address the needs of students rejected by UW-Madison. It envisioned turning UW-Milwaukee into a Wisconsin version of Michigan State University or the University of Illinois at Chicago.

When UW-M was upgraded from a teacher's college to a branch of the UW, wasn't it envisioned turning it into a Wisconsin version of UCLA? Or is "envisioned" how UW-M says "marketed"?

There are problems elsewhere in the UW System.

Since 1989, the percentage of UW-Madison freshmen from Wisconsin has dropped from 65% to 59%, while the percentage of non-resident freshmen has risen from 21.5% to 25.9%.

Students in neither category went from 13.5% to 15.1%. Maybe they're the undocumented immigrant freshmen.

Windsurfing at Long Lake

One of my brothers has taken over the family summer lake cottage rental duty and we visited last weekend. It gave me a chance to practice windsurfing, and now to experiment with embedding video.

Sorry, your browser doesn't support the embedding of multimedia.

Update: I learned how from this tutorial on Embedding Multimedia.

Friday, July 28, 2006

When, how Catholic voice is heard in public square

Brian T. Olszewski reported in our Catholic Herald on Fr. Bryan Massingale's address to the May meeting of the Peter Favre Forum.
Fr. Massingale asked, "Are the bishops de facto saying they would support any candidate who opposes abortion and gay marriage no matter what his/her stances are that impact the common good?"

It's almost as if some bishops think that husbands and wives who don't kill their children before they're born are essential to the common good.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) emailed

Five years ago, President Bush handcuffed our researchers with his arbitrary decision to only allow research on a limited number of stem cell lines ...

If to allow means to allow federal funding. Maybe it does for Sen. Harkin.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Archbishop emphasizes need for spiritual teachers

Cheri Perkins Mantz reported in our Catholic Herald on a panel discussion at Concordia University that included not only Archbishop Dolan but also Marquettte University president Fr. Robert Wild, S.J.
Fr. Wild discussed the values given to Marquette students.

"You manage to integrate values that men and women take with them after they leave the school," he said.


"We need good people who in turn make us look good," Fr. Wild said. "When the good stuff happens, it’s often due to your colleagues. We really need to live out who we are."

Which puts me in mind of a reply by Fr. Wild to a letter asking why nothing is done about Prof. Daniel Maguire.
While you seem to suggest that it would be easy enough for us to get rid of Dr. Maguire if only we had the will to do so, I can assure you that it is not.

Whether it would be easy or not doesn't matter if Fr. Wild is really saying it shouldn't be done. I'm willing to assume that it would be extremely difficult to remove Prof. Maquire. If it's a matter of will, the more relevant measure is to compare the will needed to that applied to preventing the return of the "Warrior" nickname.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) emailed

Sen. Schumer said,
Republicans know they're in trouble. That's why they have to attack us.

Congressman Murtha said,
Karl Rove talking about "cutting and running" while he sits on his big, fat backside-saying "stay the course."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sacred Spaces & Other Places

Catesby Leigh in First Things reviews A Sense of the Sacred: Theological Foundations of Christian Architecture and Art by R. Kevin Seasoltz, and Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago by Denis R. McNamara. Seasoltz's book's numerous photographic illustrations include some from our Cathedral after its 2002 renovation.
In the reconfigured interior of the 150-year-old Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee, the apse is empty apart from new organ casework, because the sanctuary—with its high altar, baldachin, and communion rail—is no more. The tabernacle has been moved to a side chapel. The former sanctuary thus resembles an orchestral platform, as befits the renovated cathedral’s suitability for "nonliturgical events."

If Archbishop Rembert Weakland and the renovators in his employ wished to relieve worshipers of "distractions" from the liturgy's "primary symbols," one wonders why they hung a truly histrionic sculptural composition above the altar--which, by the way, they brought out to the crossing and surrounded with the antiphonal arrangement of chairs Seasoltz advocates. This composition consists of a very large crown of thorns taking the form of a multitude of metallic spikes, through which a skewed spike-cross with a long, thin shaft is pitched on a diagonal, with a spindly, primitivized corpus precariously tacked onto it. It is obviously a major distraction. (Seasoltz acknowledges this criticism in his text, without rebutting it.)

Try and reconcile the design with Bishop Sklba's critique of the crown of thorns in Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ.

Update: So you can judge for yourself, I've added links from the virtual tour of the Cathedral (via Get Up, and Get Moving....).

P.S. There's no link to a picture of the Cathedral Treasury. I wonder what they did with my donation to the Cathedral Preservation Foundation. Obviously, the Cathedral was not and now cannot be preserved as it was when they solicited the money from me.


Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) emailed

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Why God is Winning

Timothy Samuel Shah and Monica Duffy Toft in Foreign Policy
Far from stamping out religion, modernization has spawned a new generation of savvy and technologically adept religious movements, including Evangelical Protestantism in America, "Hindutva" in India, Salafist and Wahhabi Islam in the Middle East, Pentecostalism in Africa and Latin America, and Opus Dei and the charismatic movement in the Catholic Church. The most dynamic religiosity today is not so much "old-time religion" as it is radical, modern, and conservative. Today’s religious upsurge is less a return of religious orthodoxy than an explosion of "neo-orthodoxies."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Compendium of the culture war

I found the front line between sections 486 and 487 of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Because of the evils and injustices that all war brings with it, we must do everything reasonably possible to avoid it. To this end it is particularly important to avoid: the accumulation and sale of arms which are not regulated by the legitimate authorities; all forms of economic and social injustice; ethnic and religious discrimination; envy, mistrust, pride and the spirit of revenge. Everything done to overcome these and other disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war. ...

God has created human beings as male and female, equal in personal dignity, and has called them to a vocation of love and of communion. Everyone should accept his or her identity as male or female, recognizing its importance for the whole of the person, its specificity and complementarity.

(via Ten Reasons)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Does Change Need to Be Difficult and Take a Long Time?

Management books can be interesting when you remember that if what they say is true, it can apply beyond business management.
Yet there is a basic Story underlying most successful change efforts. Change happens when:
1. People are dissatisfied with the status quo.
2. The direction they need to go is clear (at least much of the time) and they stay focused on that direction.
3. There is confidence conveyed to others--more accurately overconfidence--that it will succeed (so long at it is punctuated by reflective self-doubt and updating as new information rolls in)
4. They accept that change is a messy process marked by episodes of confusion and anxiety that people must endure.

--Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-truths & Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-based Management, pp. 177-178

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Early Music from the Iberian Peninsula

is the theme of this year's Madison Early Music Festival. We went to hear The Baltimore Consort last Saturday, and enjoyed it enough to return last night for an assembly of many of the week's artists performing "Missa Sancta et Immaculata Virginitas and Motets - Music of Francisco Guerrero".

The performance was based on Guerrero's selection of music for the Feast of the Assumption, circa 1575. (Very prescient if the Assumption was something Pope Pius XII pulled out of his tiara in 1950). Can't fault the composer. Guerrero's music was in use for two centuries after his death. Can't fault the esthetics of the venue, Luther Memorial Church. Can't fault the able performers. Something seemed not quite right; maybe it was the lack of the Mass itself. Or maybe it was listening to liturgical music on a full stomach.

Valley of Our Lady Monastery Nuns Need a New Home

Bishop Roboert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin wrote how the story began sixty years ago.
Shortly after the founding of our diocese in 1946, Bishop William O'Connor, conscious of the need for prayerful support for the welfare of the diocese, petitioned the Vatican to help find a group of contemplative sisters to create a monastery here to pray for the needs of the diocese. This was to be a "powerhouse of prayer" for the welfare of our diocese and for all humanity. In 1957, six Cistercian sisters from Frauenthal in Switzerland with great self-sacrifice responded to this invitation.

The Swiss sisters eventually were able to turn the monastery they founded over to American successors. The nuns say they have lived in pretty poor conditions over these years. They now have a capital campaign to build a new monastery.

The nuns are a contemplative order. They first tried to support themselves farming. When that didn't work out, they turned to producing altar breads. A few weeks back, we received a flyer with our bulletin at St. Al's soliciting funds. The announcement at Mass mentioned that the nuns baked our altar breads.

I wonder if that was true when we went through that long stretch of using parish-baked croutons instead of hosts. When the Liturgy Committee asked the Parish Council to back them on this change, they didn't mention that it might also be cutting into a contemplative order's living.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Video meliora, proboQuisp ...

TS decorates with a Jay Ward Production.

Which leads me to the cereal killers file,

Before "Me frosted Lucky Charms" and magical rainbows, there was Boris and Natasha. From 1959 to 1964, the two no-good-niks were the official spokes cartoons for Lucky Charms. Apparently the charms weren't lucky enough, as General Mills decided on a little leprechaun, Lucky, as the new face for the cereal.

Someone, somewhere, should be writing the screenplay of a biopic of Ponsonby Britt, O.B.E.

Jackelinne Piccinini

After all those parish mission trips there, I try to keep up with developments in Guatemala. Like this interview with its representative in the 2006 Miss Universe pageant.

(via PowerLine)

The Perfect Squelch

Not only is The Saturday Evening Post still being published, but it still runs this feature. Here's a possible submission from The Dawn Patrol.
I marched back into Rob's office. D.D. was gone. I dropped the catalogue back onto the desk.

"You're not really going to put this on the front page, are you?" I asked.

"Mr. Kim and D.D. love it," Rob said. "It's part of the marketing plan."

"But ..." I sputtered. "Why do we need to market this? It's demeaning towards women."

"Oh, come on," Rob laughed. "This isn't demeaning towards women." He reached for the catalogue. "This is demeaning to human beings."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

R.I.P. Windows 98

The BBC reports
In the ominous words of its maker Microsoft, it has "transitioned to a non-supported status".

Note the tributes following the article.

Ends and means

Diogenes at Off the Record on E. J. Dionne's praise for a speech by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) on the relationship of religion and public policy.
They've both got it backwards. Religion is about ends, and genuinely religious people are not flattered when you point out how well their religion serves as a means.

Henry comments on an Althouse post regarding the attempt by the University of Wisconsin to justify retaining Kevin Barrett as a lecturer based on the sentiments expressed by the plaque on Bascom Hall.

It seems the 'continual and fearless sifting and winnowing' of ideas is an ends, not a means.

Moteurs Generaux?: Coming to grips with notion of GM under foreign control

Sarah Karush of the Associated Press in The Capital Times

Experience with a Renault makes it harder for me to see that company as part of a solution for GM.

(via WisBusiness)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Wreck of the Milwaukee Clipper

In the comments to this earlier post, Karen Marie Knapp counsels
Check your dates: Widera was Archbishop Cousin's problem, and long gone from Milwaukee before either one of the two living archbishops was around.

Or as Tom Haessler commented to this Open Book post
It's important to remember that the mess connected with the California trials has to do with decisions made BEFORE Archbishop Weakland came to Milwaukee.

Or to put it another way, it turns out the ship had been scuttled before Captain Weakland ran it into the rocks off Nantucket.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Church & Fate

Mark C. Henrie in Commentary reviews The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark.
Is it really true that Christian theologians uniquely understood their work as tantamount to a progressive research agenda? No. They were explicating "the faith once delivered to the saints." In this they were not very different from their Muslim and Jewish counterparts. The Christian difference lies not in a superior devotion to reason, and certainly not in "progress" through reason alone, but rather in the peculiarity of the Christian revelation.

What had been revealed was not a law but the personhood of God and His relation to man. As a result, the burden of Christian theology was not only to make disparate scriptural norms logically coherent, but also to demonstrate that there was no contradiction between the revealed God and what was known from "natural philosophy." Philosophy was seen from early times as a necessary preliminary study to Christian theology in a way that was not true, or not true in the same way, for Jewish or Muslim theologians who also sought to reconcile the two ways of knowing.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Archbishop Dolan's e-mail concerning cases in California

July 6, 2006

Dear Friends United in Love and Service of Jesus and His Church:

During my time here, I have frequently spoken and written about the clergy sexual abuse scandal and its impact on the victims/survivors and the entire Church of southeastern Wisconsin. I’ve promised to keep you posted as this most painful story continues to unfold. Today I want to give you an update on the upcoming serious legal challenges we are facing in California.

As you may recall from my past communications, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is the defendant in lawsuits filed in Orange County, California, involving the sexual abuse of minors by Siegfried Widera, a priest who was convicted of child molestation here before he left for California. The lawsuit alleges that our archdiocese bears some responsibility for the subsequent abuses he committed in California. Widera fell to his death in 2003.

The trial date for the first of these cases has been set for November 6. Between now and then, depositions will be taken and other pre-trial activity will occur. During this period, we hope to work with the California victims/survivors to reach a fair and just settlement that will help them find a sense of resolution. As in all abuse cases, our foremost goal is to try to give victims/survivors the support they need to recover.

Because of the high-profile nature of this case and the news media coverage it is likely to spark, I wanted to make you aware of it before you heard it somewhere else. I also want to point you toward additional background information that is available on our web site,, designed to provide regularly updated information on the California situation for those who wish to follow the case. The new section includes news stories and related information.

I also want to alert you to additional background information that is on the way to all parishioners in the archdiocese. This week’s (July 6) edition of your archdiocesan newspaper, the Catholic Herald, is being mailed to all registered parish members in southeastern Wisconsin to share information on this matter.

Over the next few months we will face major decisions that will affect our archdiocese for years to come, and I want to be up front with you about the pastoral, financial and legal challenges we face.

The Catholic Herald’s coverage will include:

- An informational story about the lawsuits,
- A related question and answer article,
- Recaps of archdiocesan policies regarding reporting clergy sexual abuse and resources and encouragement for those wishing to make a report,
- Information about the steps the archdiocese has taken these past four years to assist victims/survivors,
- What policies and procedures the archdiocese has in place to prevent future abuse from occurring.

The upcoming coverage in the Catholic Herald and on our web site reflect my promise to communicate in a timely, honest and open manner on this sorrowful topic. As a Church, we have learned the hard way that the best thing we can do for both victims/survivors and the Church overall is to seek truth, share it openly, and trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The outcome of the California proceedings will remain unknown for months. All I know for sure right now is that we want to continue to help those who were hurt. The horror of clergy sexual abuse of minors and, perhaps even more, the Church’s failure to deal decisively with it long ago, will always be an ugly stain on our history. To all victims/survivors, we renew our apology and our sincere, substantive desire to support their personal recovery. To them and to all, we commit ourselves to an ongoing, vigorous effort to protect those who place their trust in us. To our faithful priests and people, I express my sorrow that you have to go through all this again, and thank you for your resilience and support. We know much has been accomplished during these past four years, but we also know there is much more we can do.

Faithfully in Christ,

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan

Update The local chapter of SNAP {Survivors Networks of those Abused by Priests) sends this background.

Sisters lose second coming cover

The BBC reports that British Insurance Limited has dropped a policy it had issued to three sisters in Inverness.
The cover was meant to pay for the cost of bringing up Christ if one of them has a virgin birth. ...

Mr Burgess [managing director Simon Burgess] said: "The people were concerned about having sufficient funds if they immaculately conceived. It was for caring and bringing up the Christ. ..."

He blamed the company's decision on objections from the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church in Scotland declined to comment.

(via Christianity Today)

No or Noh plays

It is quite impossible to convey, least of all by the printed text, the extraordinary novelty of a No play to an audience which has never seen one. The words are chanted in a slow, choking moan, in an accent incomprehensible to a modern Japanese who has not been taught it. The dances are considerably slower than any ritual motions anywhere in the West. The acting consists of highly stylized, symbolic gestures, unbelievably slow, whose significance is not apparent to the untutored. The costumes of stiff, elaborate brocade bear little relation to anything worn in the real world and the principal actors are masked. The stage is always the same — a small platform, like a boxing ring, with a resounding floor, approached from the dressing room by a bridge on which are three dwarf trees. The “backdrop” is a screen painted with a highly stylized pine. The chorus and orchestra sit on the stage and the chorus not only “choruses” but often takes over the actor’s lines, especially while he dances. Finally, all roles are played by men. --Kenneth Rexroth, Japanese No Plays, The New York Times, 1971, review of Twenty Plays of the No Theater, by Donald Keene, reprinted in The Elastic Retort (1973)

Recommended reading:
No or Noh plays at Reading Rat

Wednesday, July 5, 2006


That's what I've been learning and doing over the long weekend. That and slowly configuring a new computer.

I'd been exchanging sailing stories with a companion on some of our earlier parish mission trips to Guatemala. He said he'd also been sailboarding for a while. I said I'd like to try that sometime. Now I have the old Windsurfer that had been up on the rafters of his garage.

People who have tell me of the unpleasant experiences that convinced them to drop an attempt at a new sport usually are telling me of the injury they got learning from a friend. I've had much better results investing in lessons. In this case, it was sailboarding lessons Southport Rigging offers at Lake Andrea in Pleasant Prarie,

Here's The Basics of Windsurfing, an old guide by BIC Sport. The board builders and sellers try to reassure people that sailboarding isn't hard to learn or do. I say sailboarding is much easier to learn than sailing. There were three of us in our lesson. Southport first had us learn and practice on an on-land simulator. Then they put our boards in the water, and we spent a few minutes standing and walking around on them. Then they mounted the rigs, and we were all boarding within a few minutes. That's basic sailboarding. If you want to progress to the skill level of boarding in gales or leaping waves, that could be hard.

The sailboard began as a surfboard with an unsupported mast mounted on a universal joint and a split boom around the sail. Sailing the board, your hands hold the boom. Your forward hand supports the mast and your rearward hand controls the sail. When tacking, the boom crosses the board to the rear. When jibing, the boom crosses to the front. Instead of the boom crossing over you when you tack or jibe, you step around the mast.

The next nearest shop is Isthmus Sailboards Madison, Wisconsin, who provide this Windsurfing Sail Rigging Guide. Like sailboat rigging, and sailing itself, it's clearer after you see it for real, and do it yourself. I managed to attach my old Windsurfer's boom successfully, and it's attached without the clamp of more modern boards.

Here's some information on Choosing a Windsurfer, Tips. Safety Sources. The biggest change in sailboarding is the evolution to wider, shorter, planing boards. They're more stable and have higher top speeds than my old Windsurfer. I took mine out for my first solo yesterday and did a lot of falling off. For some perspective, falling off a sailboard into a warm lake beats a fourth fairway shot into the woods any day.

Windsurfer Magazine sums up in its Intro to Windsurfing [15 pp. pdf].