Thursday, November 30, 2006

Reading Rat November 2006

Also of interest:

MadReads: Book news and reviews from Madison Public Library

Google Docs & Spreadsheets

ISBN Standard Revision
...Major changes to be aware of, and addressed by the [revised] guidelines, include the following:
1. The ISBN [International Standard Book Number] will change from 10 to 13 digits on 1 January 2007
2. Existing ISBNs will be prefixed by 978 ... [I wonder why not 000?]

Sigmund Freud

If capitalism had been build on sexual repression, as Freud and Herbert Marcuse and Norman O. Brown believed, then the best way to help people to get in touch with their true animal nature was to foment an anti-capitalist revolution.

So, people went out and joined the counterculture. They renounced the standard American middle class existence and lived as rebellious free spirits.

But when the revolution did not arrive on schedule, countercultural warriors had to find an alternative reward. --Stuart Schneiderman, You're Entitled to Great Sex! posted at Had Enough Therapy? January 12, 2009 (via Althouse)

Freud and Ann by Mark Edmundson, on his The Death of Sigmund Freud, The Chronicle Review, September 21, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Killing Father Freud, Adam Kirsch on Philip Rieff, The New York Sun, March 7, 2007 (via Milt's File)

An Interview With Freud Biographer Peter D. Kramer, Paul Comstock interviews the author of Freud: Inventor of the Modern Mind, California Literary Review, January 29, 2007 (via Milt's File)

Hotel log hints at desire that Freud didn't repress, by Ralph Blumenthal, International Herald Tribune, December 24, 2006 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Freud's Will to Power by Ronald W. Dworkin, New York Sun, November 29, 2006 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

There is no cure, review by Michael Wood of The Penguin Freud Reader, by Sigmund Freud, edited by Adam Phillips, London Review of Books, July 6, 2006

Can Freud Get His Job Back? In the age of happy pills and quick fixes, the 'talking cure' still has something to offer, by Lev Grossman, Time, January 20, 2003

Scientist or storyteller? by A. C. Grayling. Guardian, June 22, 2002

How Fabrications Differ from a Lie, review by Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen of Der Fall Freud: Die Geburt der Psychoanalyse aus der Luge by Han Israels, translated by Gerd Busse, London Review of Books, April 13, 2000

The Man Behind the Curtain, by Edward T. Oakes, First Things, January 1999

The Use and Abuse of Freud, by Paul C. Vitz, First Things, February 1993

Great Schism

This entry in the Orthodox Wiki quotes as An Alternate View,
If one wishes to find a villain on the Orthodox side for the development of the schism, [Absentee Greek Patriarch of Antioch] Balsamon is a far stronger candidate than either [Patriarchs of Constantinople] Photius or Cerularius. Hitherto the chief asset of the Orthodox in the controversy had been their doctrine of Economy, the charity that enabled them to overlook and even to condone divergences in the interest of peace and goodwill. But Balsamon was a lawyer; and lawyers like things to be cut and dried. Charity is not one of their characteristics.
--Steven Runciman, The Eastern Schism (2005) p. 138

Take spiritual pilgrimage with Pope Benedict

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald on a letter he received from Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.
Mr. Anderson wrote me – and all other bishops – to ask our support of the initiative of the Knights of Columbus to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage with Pope Benedict XVI as he travels to confer with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, in Istanbul, Turkey, on Nov. 30, 2006, the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: It’s still the one—the single best book about America, if one has to choose only one, and more generally about the pathologies and possibilities of democracy. --Wilfred M. McClay, What to Give a 'First Things' Reader, First Things, December 2008

Recommended reading:
by Alexis de Tocqueville at Reading Rat

Reference: Tocqueville's America, American Studies Programs at The University of Virginia

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Democracy's Prophet by Joseph J. Ellis, review of Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life by Hugh Brogan, The Washington Post Book World, April 6, 2007
republished at Powell's Review-A-Day

The vivid dreams of Alexis de Tocqueville by Ferdinand Mount, review of Alexis de Tocqueville: Prophet of democracy in the age of revolution, Times Literary Supplement, February 21, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

It took a Frenchman, review of Alexis de Tocqueville, by Hugh Brogan, The Economist, November 23, 2006
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

L'Amérique, Mon Amour, review by Daniel Lazare of Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville, translated by Arthur Goldhammer, and Writings on Empire and Slavery, by Alexis de Tocqueville, translated by Jennifer Pitts, The Nation, April 8, 2004

An Ambivalent Tocqueville, by Delba Winthrop, review of Tocqueville: Between Two Worlds: The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life, by Sheldon S. Wolin, Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2002

Tocqueville from the Left, review by Daniel J. Mahoney of Tocqueville Between Two Worlds: The Making of a Theoretical and Political Life, by Sheldon S. Wolin, First Things, March 2002

Tocqueville today, by Roger Kimball; A consideration of Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville, The New Criterion, November 2000

Tocqueville's Mirror, review by Brian C. Anderson of Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy, by Pierre Manent, First Things, March 1996

Watching bubbler was water torture

Jim Stingl, in his column in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, assumes familiarity with the use of "bubbler" as a synonym for "drinking fountain".

Here's the history.

It's a usage also found in parts of New England, as Sean Christensen describes and UWM Professor of Linguistics Bert Vaux explains.

"Analysts say"

At KausFiles (Nov. 27, 2006 2:23 A.M.)
... Many analysts say that "analysts say" pieces are the laziest form of journalism, because the "analysts" usually just happen to say what the journalist himself would say if the rules of journalism permitted him to do so without putting the opinions in the mouths of "analysts." Meanwhile, analysts who might say something else get ignored. But at least "analysts say" pieces, analysts say, should quote some analysts saying the things the analysts are supposed to have said. Otherwise the impression is overwhelming that the journalist who wrote the thing is just spouting off. According to observers.

At Google, what analysts say, according to observers.

Update: Avoid weasel words like "Critics/experts say that..." or "Observers say..."; that's the "consensus of many editors" according to the Wikipedia Manual of Style. (Apparently "Apparently..." is listed in error, since I use it here all the time.)


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Little Robot That Could

At DilbertBlog, Scott Adams give his argument against free will.
I have tried arguing that the laws of physics clearly apply to brains, and brains cause your actions. That seems so obvious to me that belaboring it with additional evidence would be overkill.

Believers in free will, who Mr. Adams calls "free willys", would counter that that free will is evidenced by our experience of making choices. He would reply,
No one doubts that you feel as if you make choices in those situations. But the argument ignores the fact that your specific brain in that specific situation can only operate in one specific way unless the rules of physics stop applying at decision-making time.

Anticipating responses (and his post had 749 comments when I saw it), he concludes,
[Note to the first person who says, “If you don’t have free will, how did you choose to write this post? Ha! I have uncovered the flaw in your concept!” I had no choice but to write this exact post given the state of my brain this morning. And like everyone else, I have the persistent illusion of making choices.]

[Note to the first person who says, "If there is no free will then you are saying people shouldn't be punished for crimes. Civilizations will collapse!" People who don't believe in free will still support the legal system. We have no choice. We're wired that way. So relax.]

Here's a bit more on the subject of Determinism and Human Action.

Hornbeck v. Archdiocese of Milwaukee

The five plaintiffs all claimed to have been sexually abused by a school teacher in the Archdiocese of Louisville in the years 1968 through 1973. They further claimed that the same teacher had previously sexually abused students in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Diocese of Madison, that neither diocese notified the police or took other action to prevent the teacher from later repeating such conduct, and that this constituted negligence which was a cause of their subsequently being abused.

The plaintiffs argued the statute of limitations should be calculated from their 2002 discovery of the alleged failures to act by the Wisconsin dioceses. The court held that, under the controlling cases, the plaintiffs knew they were harmed when abused. The statute of limitations, calculated from that point, barred their claims. The court affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of the plaintiffs' lawsuits.

Presiding bishop wronged by shallow newspaper

Terry Mattingly at Get Religion notes the ECUSA Presiding Bishop's media aide's clarification to Greg Popcak.
The reality is that media interviews do not always convey the whole nature of a conversation had between interviewee and interviewer. A few paragraphs of text cannot distill with complete accuracy a lengthy conversation.

Mattingly observes,
Many elite thinkers on the theological left have learned how to surround their beliefs in a kind of nuanced theological fog that serves as a protective barrier. Insiders know what the symbolic word clusters mean, but this strategy prevents many people in the pews -- the kind of ordinary people who write checks -- from understanding what is going on.

'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins

Two reviews:

Hysterical Scientism by Marilynne Robinson, originally published in Harper's.

I don't believe in Richard Dawkins by Kenan Malik in The Telegraph

(via Comments by Mark Adams and by Kate at Open Book)

Update: Two more reviews:

Beyond Belief by Jim Holt in The New York Times, October 22, 2006

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching by Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books, October 19, 2006

(via Grant Gallicho at dotCommonweal)

Tom Stoppard

The playwright-who even back then enjoyed a reputation as a bohemian conservative, with a heritage rooted in actual Bohemia-marveled at how little loved England was by its native sons and daughters. --Michael Weiss, Forty Years On: Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll and the end of the Soviet empire, The Weekly Standard, September 8, 2008 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Recommended reading:
by Tom Stoppard at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Stoppard in Moscow: 'The Coast of Utopia' Returns Home, by Arkady Ostrovsky, Intelligent Life, December 2007

Stoppard's Romance by Anthony Grafton, review of The Coast of Utopia by Tom Stoppard, The New York Review of Books, May 31, 2007

Liberalism's Lost Libretto by Eric Alterman, review of Lincoln Center Theater's production of The Coast of Utopia by Tom Stoppard, The Nation, March 12, 2007

Playing With Ideas, by Daphne Merkin, The New York Times, November 26, 2006

The Real Tom Stoppard: Our greatest comic playwright, review by Jonathan Leaf of Tom Stoppard: A Life, by Ira Bruce Nadel, Weekly Standard, October 7, 2002

Monday, November 27, 2006

Big People on Campus

Abby Ellin reported in The New York Times
Even as science, medicine and government have defined obesity as a threat to the nation’s health and treasury, fat studies is emerging as a new interdisciplinary area of study on campuses across the country and is gaining interest in Australia and Britain. Nestled within the humanities and social sciences fields, fat studies explores the social and political consequences of being fat.

Here's a local example.
At the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, the subject has emerged in a course, "The Social Construction of Obesity," taught by Margaret Carlisle Duncan, a professor in the department of human movement sciences, who takes a skeptical view of the “war on obesity".

She is guest editor of a special issue of Sociology of Sport's Journal on "The Social Construction of Fat". Here is the call for papers [1 p. pdf].

The movement has critics.
"In one field after another, passion and venting have come to define the nature of what academics do," said Stephen H. Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars, a group of university professors and academics who have a more traditional view of higher education. "Ethnic studies, women’s studies, queer studies — they’re all about vindicating the grievances of some particular group. That’s not what the academy should be about."

To ask the "what the academy should be about" will presumably lead to an emerging metainterdisciplinary Studies Studies.

(via Althouse)

Seirus Quick Clava "B Chunk" Knit Hat / Face Mask

Great gift, for shoveling snow, or a possible parish mission trip to Oaxaca.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Housing for the Poor

You might recall that I've said St. Al's fails to communicate enough to parishioners about some of the good work it does. It was announced at Mass this morning that this year's First Communion and Confirmation classes have raised enough money to build two houses through a Foor for the Poor program. In the lobby there were photos of the new homes of the the Howell family of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, and the Brown family of Westmoreland, Jamaica.

It's a start. Better if news were also in today's bulletin and on the parish web site. Better still if the parish had an annual report, a page or two of financial results, and the rest about what was accomplished with the money.

Marquette SOA protesters make trip despite funding denial

Patrick O'Neill in the National Catholic Reporter on a local angle to the annual protests at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), formerly the School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. The funding was denied by the student government at Marquette University. O'Neill talked to senior Pat Kennelly, head of the MU School of the America's protest planning committee
Kennelly made the trip to Columbus a year ago when a record 19,000 people attended, more than 3,000 of them students from Jesuit institutions.

Thomas Pynchon

Inside the Time Machine by Luc Sante, review of Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon, The New York Review of Books, January 11, 2007

All Rainbow, No Gravity by James Wood, review of Against the Day: A Novel by Thomas Pynchon, The New Republic Online, at Powell's Review-A-Day March 1, 2007

Inside the Time Machine by Luc Sante, review of Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon, The New York Review of Books January 11, 2007

Humming along by Michael Wood, review of Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon, London Review of Books, January 4, 2007

The gathering storm, Mike Fischer reviews Against the Day By Thomas Pynchon, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 26, 2006

Pynchon on the Installment Plan: a serial review of Against the Day, by Malcolm Jones, Newsweek, November 17, 2006

Short Cuts column, by Thomas Jones, London Review of Books, May 8, 2003

Everything Is Subtext I: Gravity's Rainbow and Mystery Science Theatre 3000, by Robert Pirani

Spermatikos Logos, at The Modern Word

Worship Directory

A recent issue of the Franklin Hub included classified ads for the following:
St. James Catholic Church

St. Martin of Tours Parish

St. Mary Catholic Faith Community

Saturday, November 25, 2006

New route for commuter rail

Larry Sandler reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the continuing saga of efforts to return commuter rail to Milwaukee.
In its latest form, the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail line, or KRM Commuter Link, would offer more frequent service and more stops - but at a higher cost - than the version that emerged from a previous study in 2003. Passengers would have to change trains to continue into Illinois.

Sixty years ago [15 pp. pdf] Robert R. Young complained in an ad campaign that "A hog can cross the country without changing trains - but you can't." With Amtrak, you still can't; you still have to change trains in Chicago. For $237 million, Milwaukeeans would have the opportunity to change trains just to get to Chicago.
Fares would be similar to Chicago's Metra trains, at less than $10 one-way between Milwaukee and Kenosha.

About thirty cents a mile to travel 33 miles. That's 2/3 the business auto mileage deduction rate and substantially more than the non-business rate allowed by the IRS. And that $237 million is just the capital cost.
Operating costs would run $14.7 million a year, with fares covering $3.8 million.

If a ten dollar fare covers about a quarter of the operating costs, then the operating cost is about $40, or $1.20 per passenger mile. It might be cheaper to rent limos.

Author takes readers inside school of theology

Cheri Perkins Mantz reported in our Catholic Herald.
A recently-published book, The Collar (Houghton-Mifflin) by Jonathan Englert, allows readers into the hallways, dorm rooms and classrooms of Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners. Englert profiles five seminarians during one academic year filled with questions, doubt, struggles, learning and for some, eventual triumph.

A review at From the Anchor Hold says,
In fact, I think it's mandatory corrective reading for anyone who has been exposed to the M. Rose "expose" of seminary life.

She's referring to Goodbye! Good Men (2002) by Michael S. Rose. (Rose specifically refers to Sacred Hearts on pages 164-65 and 260-61.)

Rose does remind us (p. 340) of a 1999 vocations billboard campaign here that included
..."Work With the World's Greatest Boss." (Milwaukee Catholics were unsure if the billboard was referring to God or Archbishop Rembert Weakland.)

Actually, we merely considered him The Amazing Colossal Archbishop, shown here on the front page of the July 19, 2001 Catholic Herald.

House of Peace hopes for holiday expansion

Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on this $4 million dollar fund drive.
Of that, $1 million is to support programming and $3 million is earmarked for an expansion and renovation that will slightly more than double the size of the ministry's center, at 1702 W. Walnut St.

I received the fund drive materials, which include a message from Archbishop Dolan and a video.

The video link is at the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph. Their site's Peace & Justice page has this quote, which I don't recall seeing in the fund-drive materials.
"Let no one attempt with small gifts of charity to exempt themselves from the great duties imposed by justice." (P. Pius XI Divini Redemptoris, #49)

If it's an act of charity to people of the inner city for Archbishop Dolan to help with this fund drive, would it be an act of justice to relocate the Archdiocesan offices to their neighborhood?

Vista Divestment invests in community

Cindy Crebbin reported, special to your Catholic Herald, on this group, made up of 14 couples, most with ties to Holy Apostles Parish in New Berlin, a Milwaukee suburb.
Through prayerful discernment, the couples meet once a month and decide to which small- or medium-sized group in the greater Milwaukee area they will donate money. Procedures are in place in order to focus on these smaller agencies or groups that do not receive funding from larger organizations such as the United Way or Red Cross.

Before the group decides to give a donation, members visit several organizations they are considering to assist monetarily. The visitors report to the group what they learned about the organizations' needs.

As the group's name implies, it has some similarity to an investment club. Groups soliciting funds describe the needs they claim to be trying to meet, but there aren't performance reports like the financial reports an investment club would use in researching where to put its money. Vista, at least, makes personal visits, though even that does not necessarily tell how well an organization converts donations into services.

The Name Is Our Game

Sometimes willing to try new things, I signed up for the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, and began receiving its quarterly publication. After a few, there was an issue with this Editor's Note by Joan Fischer on a name change. The former name,
Wisconsin Academy Review was, well, academic, in a dry and daunting sense of the word.

No more than the name Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. I expected an academy to be academic, in some sense. In the Review's case, is expected the sense to be a variation on the Wisconsin Idea [94 pp. pdf], an academic review for everyone. Instead it's what I imagine the alumni magazine for an Evjue College would be like.
The Wisconsin Academy's mission is, in colloquial terms, "to connect people and ideas for a better Wisconsin." Our magazine title now gives you "Wisconsin People & Ideas." Pretty simple, eh?

Perfect, if the mission is to connect simple people and simple ideas.


Recommended reading at Reading Rat

Friday, November 24, 2006

Applying the Principles and Procedures of Civil Law to Canon Law:

A Recipe for Frustration

by Charles M. Wilson, in Christifidelis. The articles he refers to are
Lest Amateurs Argue Canon Law: A reply to Patrick Gordon's brief against Bp. Thomas Daley, originally published in Angelicum 86 (2006) 121-142,

"Gotti, Mob Funerals, and the Catholic Church" by Patrick J. Gordon, in Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, Spring 2005, Volume 44, Number 1, p. 253, abstract and full text [24 pp. pdf]

Details but no context to explain Jonestown horror

Michele Kenner in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, directed by Stanley Nelson.
Nelson's investigative coups are his interviews with two of the Jonestown residents who escaped after watching their loved ones die in their arms. Their interviews, plus TV footage and audio tapes of Jones urging his followers to "die with dignity" on that fateful day, will curl your toes.

What does Kenner mean by the missing context?
A comment or two from a historian that compares Peoples Temple with other religious movements such as the Unification Church, led by Sun Mung Moon, would help lend perspective to the horrific conclusion of Jones' "mission."

The comparisons suggested to me by the review would be to other religious movements on making "a kind of New Age utopia" or their relationship to electoral politics or the meaning of "death with dignity".

Hospital chaplain and cancer survivor Anita Lorbiecki knows firsthand the power of faith

Annysa Johnson reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Froedtert Hospital's longest-living recipient of a bone-marrow transplant and now one of the hospital's chaplains, Lorbiecki was a young wife with an 18-month-old daughter when she was diagnosed in December 1985 with what was then an incurable cancer.

She and here husband Glenn had just bought a home on the south side of Milwaukee.
Afterward, her husband drove her to her parents' home, where it was clear they already knew. Devout Catholics who'd raised their five children in the faith, John and Dorothy Berns were waiting for them, and Dorothy Berns draped a medal bearing the likeness of Christ's mother around her daughter's neck.

"She said, when we were born, she'd had each of her children dedicated to the Blessed Mother," Anita Lorbiecki recalled, tears trickling down her face. "She said she was sure I was going to be OK. I wasn't so sure at that point."

It looks like the Lobbieckis recently joined St. Paul's Parish [3 pp. pdf], still on the south side.

Bridge building

Diogenes at Off the Record
In the case of the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to Rome, Dr. Williams and Pope Benedict observed the customary courtesies, while Cardinals Tarcisio Bertone and Giovanni Battista Re met with C of E Bishops John Flack and Peter Carnley upstairs at Tre Aranci. OTR has obtained a partial transcript of the conversation.

Minima 3 column template

As you can see, I've changed from the original two column Minima Blogger template by Douglas Bowman to a three column variation of it by Thur Broeders. Mr. Broeders took up the challenge of a three column Blogger template using no tables, only cascading style sheets. Overdue thanks to Mr. Bowman and thanks to Mr. Broeders for their work.

If you see problems with the display of the blog now, let me know the problem, your browser and version, and your operating system.

A tribute to Bobby

In today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Duane Dudek reviews Bobby, directed by Emilio Estevez.
Everyone of a certain age knows where they were when John Kennedy was shot.

On the playground for the lunch recess at what was then St. Veronica School. The kids who went home for lunch brought us the news when they came back.
But where were you when Bobby Kennedy was shot?

Sitting at the kitchen table when I heard the news flash, I believe on WCFL.

Another Halloween Mass

The Photo Show of Halloween Mass 2006 by St. Kenneth Catholic Community raises a question at The Cafeteria Is Closed,
What I don't get is why everything has to have a Mass in it - why not just have a parish party in the hall or something the like? I guess it's all the horizontal inclusivity that's robbed people of the sense of Mass as a sacrifice as opposed to a mere communal meal - from there it's not far to "party".

At Open Book, an answer.
Someone - perhaps in our previous discussion of Halloween Mass 1.0 - wondered if some of this insistence on playing with Mass and incorporating really inapporpriate music into Mass could be blamed, in part on the fact that in much of the Catholic world, everything but Mass was wiped out. Can't blame it all on V2, now. There are the sociological reasons, the development of suburbia, the collapse of close-knit ethnic communities, the mobility.

But still. If you know your History of Pastoral Practices, you know that all of that other stuff became distinctly declasse in the Bright New Church. So everything got dumped on Sunday Mass.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

We can never outdo God in his generosity

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald.
Every Sunday, we go to Mass to praise and worship God. The very word Eucharist means thanksgiving. We try our best all Mass to let God know how grateful we are. We offer him our very lives, in union with the eternal sacrifice of his Son on the cross. What more could we give him? What greater act of thanksgiving could there possibly be? There! We've finally thanked him sufficiently ...

... until ... he then turns around and gives his Son back to us in holy Communion! He did it again! We thank him … he gives us even more!

When Mary McCarthy said she believed the Eucharist to instead be just a symbol, Flannery O'Connor replied, Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it.

Or, if it were just a symbol, we could have turkey with it.

Thomas Babington Macaulay

Recommended reading:
Reading Rat

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Anglican Explode-A-Thon

At CaNN, a collection of reactions to a recent interview of the Most Rev. Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori, recently-elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

With Hummes, There Arrives at the Curia a World Champion Brazil

Sandro Magister, translated by Matthew Sherry, reported at Chiesa on the appointment by Pope Benedict XVI of Cardinal Claudio Hummes, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as head of the Vatican congregation for the clergy, which oversees priests and catechesis.
In October of 2005, during the synod of bishops, pope Joseph Ratzinger was deeply moved by the diagnosis that Hummes made of the state of Catholicism in Brazil and in the rest of South America:

"The number of Brazilians who declare themselves Catholics has diminished rapidly, on an average of 1% a year. In 1991 Catholic Brazilians were nearly 83%, today and according to new studies, they are barely 67%. We wonder with anxiety: how long will Brazil remain a Catholic country?"

Declining at 1% per year, eighteen years, if that wasn't a rhetorical question.
"In conformity with this situation, it has been found that in Brazil there are two Protestant pastors for each Catholic priest, and the majority from the Pentecostal Churches. Many indications show that the same is true for almost all of Latin America and here too we wonder: how long will Latin America remain a Catholic continent?"

Magister comments.
The Brazilian Catholic Church has, therefore, experienced severe losses and significant internal changes over the past few decades. The "base ecclesial communities," which the hierarchy emphasized at first, have restricted the ranks of the faithful instead of expanding them. Liberation theology, which has its origins in Western Europe, has sparked an even more restricted and self-referential elite, the polar opposite of the Charismatic currents that are running wild among the po[p]ular classes as well. In recent years, there have been signs of reconsideration in the Catholic hierarchy, as exemplified by the personal evolution of Hummes himself, a member of the Franciscan order of friars minor who was initially of social-progressive leanings, but later drew closer to the Charismatic movement.

In a statement that could be applied here or in Guatemala as well as in Brazil,
In any case, the perception that the advance of the Pentecostals and Charismatics is the most significant overall new development in Christianity over the last century is far from being shared by the hierarchy as a whole and by the elites that influence public opinion the most.

He quotes the Waldensian Protestant pastor and author Giorgio Bouchard,
"The Pentecostals, and with them other evangelicals, are absolutely the religious movement spreading most rapidly throughout the world: more than the historical Protestant and Catholic Churches, more than the Muslims who also find themselves in a phase of vigorous expansion. [...] In an age infested by the worst kind of moral relativism and by a suffocating materialism, the Pentecostals represent a new and legitimate interpretation of Christian piety, founded on a great certainty: the presence of the Spirit, the greatly overlooked third person of the Trinity."

He continues: "Naturally, this movement is not very welcome among the secularized intellectuals of Harvard, the Sorbonne, and Frankfurt. They have begun to use the word 'fundamentalist' as a synonym for 'obscurantist': but this is a lexical abuse that must be firmly resisted. [...] Fundamentalism has one great merit: it brings the Bible back into focus as the touchstone for society, and also as a book of prayer. [...] Of course, we can criticize them from our point of view as somewhat disenchanted Europeans, and sometimes it is right to criticize them, but I don't think it is licit to dismiss them summarily. Why is it that lung cancer is almost completely nonexistent among them, and AIDS almost unknown? Why is it that their young people abstain from drugs and alcohol? It could be that these same much-despised fundamentalists constitute the last manifestation of the puritan spirit that has had such a great importance in the history of modern democracy."

My experience has been that our clergy and parish and archdiocesan staff continue to avoid dealing with the growth of evangelicalism. You might recall this 25 year old example. And as Father Martin Pable wrote,
Many Catholics today are confused by the differences of opinion and practice among theologians, bishops, pastors, religious, and so on. It is difficult at times to know who or what to believe.
Catholics and Fundamentalists (2nd Ed. 1997) pp. 15-16.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Are Conservatives More Generous?

Eduardo Penalver at dotCommonweal takes issue with the findings of Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, by Arthur C. Brooks.
But, if I define "generous" to encompass, say, support against one's financial interest for social programs funded through redistributive taxation, then wealthy liberals (secular or religious), who generally support such taxes and such programs, do well and conservatives (religious or not) don't look so hot.

One might likewise define "neighbor", and hypothesize that the Samaritan opposed and the priest and Levite supported government programs to provide emergency assistance to crime victims. Not much more of a stretch than all those prodigal father homilies.

Update: For example,
On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway.
--Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. [11 pp. pdf] (p. 9)

Russia Through the Vodka Glass

Alexei Bayer in The Globalist
...the inventor of modern vodka -- who discovered in 1894 that the stuff is best when it is exactly 40% alcohol (80 proof) -- was the world-renowned chemist Dmitry Mendeleev.

Professor Mendeleev is otherwise known around the world for compiling the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements.

This calls for a shot of Tom Lehrer.

The Network of Spiritual Progressives

"A project of the Tikkun Community," it has an answer to the question,
So I’ve Joined the NSP as a Dues Paying Member—Now What?
It's perfectly fine with us if all you do for NSP is to renew your membership each year and provide us with the financial support we need to hire staff and run our projects, and then, in your personal lives, you talk about the ideas of the NSP that excite you.

(via The Nation)

Monday, November 20, 2006

The End of Conservatism

I received the text of the speech Joseph Sobran would have given to the Wisconsin Forum on September 28, 2006. The Forum rescinded the invitation when local blogger James Wigderson pointed out longstanding allegations that some of Mr. Sobran's writings have been anti-semitic.

The speech is mostly Sobran's view of the history and present condition of conservatism in America. In his historical analysis, Sobran shows his conservativism to be of the secessionist faction, exemplified by his views on Abraham Lincoln. Sobran asserts,
As far as I can tell, Lincoln was entirely ignorant of The Federalist Papers, as well as of the Articles of Confederation -- a point I'll return to.

When he does, he says,
After all, the whole point of the Declaration of Independence was that these "are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states." Not, as Lincoln later said, a single "new nation," but (to quote [Willmoore] Kendall) "a baker's dozen of new sovereignties."

And the Articles of Confederation reinforced the point right at the beginning: "Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence." And at the end of the Revolutionary War, the British specifically recognized the sovereignty of all thirteen states! This is flatly contrary to Lincoln's claim that the states had never been sovereign.

But didn't the Constitution transfer sovereignty from the states to the Federal Government, outlawing secession? Not at all. The Constitution says nothing of the kind. And as [Jefferson] Davis wrote [in A Short History of the Confederate States of America (1889)], sovereignty cannot be surrendered by mere implication. In fact, several states ratified the Constitution on the express condition that they reserved the right to "resume" the powers they were "delegating" -- that is, secede. And if one state could secede, so could the others. A "state" was not a mere province or subdivision of a larger entity; it was sovereign by definition.

Here's Lincoln's summation of the case for union from his First Inaugural Address.
I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.

Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it--break it, so to speak--but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was "to form a more perfect Union."

But if destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

Both Sobran and Lincoln argue, in part, from implication. But Lincoln appears far from "entirely ignorant" of the Articles of Confedation. While Sobran talks of what the Articles say "right at the beginning", he seems entirely ignorant of their full title, "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union." Lincoln alludes to this when he says of the union, "It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778." This is an express statement that the union is perpetual, and every state signed on to it. Nothing Sobran points to is an express contradiction of this.

A day of ceremony

Larry Sandler reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the dedication mass of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, at Holy Hill, generally known as just Holy Hill. See "Basilica in the canonical sense" in this Catholic Encyclopedia entry. Archbishop Dolan presided.
"It's just kind of a booster shot," Dolan said of the basilica status in an interview. He also described the designation as "the Vatican's Good Housekeeping seal of approval" and "a tribute to our roots" as a church that has served successive waves of immigrants.

It's the second church designated a minor basilica in Wisconsin, joining the Basilica of St. Josaphat.

Catechetical Gripe of the Day

At Open Book, Amy Welborn's gripe is the misinterpretation of Luke 10:25-37
"A man asked Jesus, 'How can I be a good neighbor?'"

in a take-home booklet for self-study. She provides a link to Luke 10 in the online New American Bible at the USCCB website.

Which brings up another catechetical gripe. There are hypertext anchors for each verse in the USCCB's online NAB but they don't provide the links for them. I found them only by viewing the source code.

For example, the citation to Luke 10:25-37 can be linked directly to chapter 10 at verse 25:

For that matter, I wonder why every significant USCCB and Vatican document doesn't have such internal links noted, as well as hyper-linked cross-references within them to the cited point in any other document.

Dark Memory

This column by Father Ron Rolhieser ran in our Catholic Herald. Does he not take a brief quote from Bernard Lonergan and give us its Harlequin Edition?
Is not all deep knowledge simply a waking up to something we already know? Is not all love simply a question of being respected for something we already are? Are not the touch and tenderness that bring ecstasy nothing other than the stirring of deep memory? Are not the ideals that inspire hope only the reminder of words somebody has already spoken to us? Does not our desire for innocence (and innocent means "not wounded") mirror some primal unwounded place deep within us? And when we feel violated, is it not because someone has irreverently entered the sacred inside us?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The souls of the just are in the hand of God

This "Herald of Hope" column by Bishop Richard J. Sklba in our Catholic Herald was the subject of a posts at Off the Record and Get Up and Get Moving.....

The A.G. Aftermath

Evan Rytlewski follows up in the Shepherd Express on the recent election for state Attorney General. Analysis by "a prominent Democrat and former deputy attorney general" Ed Garvey gives new meaning to the term "public trough".
Garvey said that Van Hollen managed to paint the attorney general's job as that of prosecutor instead of what it actually is, "a people's lawyer" and the manger of the Department of Justice.

Ready, Willing, and Able

Pro-Life Wisconsin posted a courtesy announcement for this Living Catholic Seminars event
on December 2, 2006 at Serb Hall. The line-up of speakers is outstanding, and you don't want to miss this! Listen to pro-life speaker Steve Wood, author of Christian Fatherhood and Legacy, who will be speaking on "Achieving Excellence in Christian Family Life". Pro-life priest Fr. Michael Lightner will be sharing his conversion story--"From Football to Father." This year's Pro-Life Wisconsin dinner emcee, Dave Durand, will also be speaking on "The Right Tools for the Right Job" and "The New Evangelization".

Steve Woods posted the registration form.

'Don Giovanni' knows no bounds

Tom Strini in the Journal Sentinel previewed the production by Milwaukee's Florentine Opera Company.
Is it a rollicking sexual comedy or a dark moral lesson?

In 2001 at the Skylight Opera Theatre, director Paula Suozzi made it a naughty tale of modern, coked-up decadence.

It's done in period costume, with minimal staging designed by Kris Stone.
"The setting came mostly from John [director John Hoomes]," Stone said. "He's saying the story is universal, and that it happens again and again. We didn't feel that we needed to spell it out. We wanted to make it epic, at the edge of the universe, as opposed to grounding it in a particular locale. There's an element of the supernatural, too - the sense that something is strange, that things aren't as they seem, that the whole world is out of skew."

Hoomes, in turn, said
"I'm not a big fan of ultra-grim 'Giovannis,' " he said. "I'm not sure that's what the music says. This opera walks an odd line - sometimes it steps over into comedy or drama when you're not really looking. There is cruelty in humor, sometimes."

After the premiere, Strini called it A living, breathing 'Don Giovanni'.
Director John Hoomes also had gloomy Penitentes wandering across the background for no discernible reason. During the overture, he went too far by making the Don a serial killer. Otherwise, Hoomes gave his singing actors every chance to succeed, and they did.

We attended last night's performance. I agree the the singing was very good, as good across the cast as I've heard in Milwaukee. Eduardo Chama was most impressive as Leporello. The major flaw is Hoomes's contradictions. With the Don a killer in the overture, the Penitentes made sense. As I saw it, Hoomes had Donna Anna dissembling about whether she was seduced or raped. There might be potential for a Don Giovanni in which all are deceivers in their own way, in which the everyone on stage in the moralizing conclusion has learned a personal lesson from the Don's fate. Hoomes takes a sometimes grim, if not "ultra-grim", approach, then at the very end throws in a twist to say it was all a rollicking sexual comedy. By then, it's too late. The Skylight's production was better conceived, even if the Florentine's is a better performance.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

An enduring legacy

The Economist on the death of Milton Friedman
...Mr Friedman always recognised that his success was fragile; free markets and stable money have lots of enemies, particularly among politicians.

Here's more on Friedman at The Idea Channel.

Division 2: Franklin 36, Brookfield Central 29 (OT)

There are those who say Franklin epitomizes the faults of suburbia.

But when our local high school wins the state championship, we say to them Ich bin ein Frankliner!

Dave Boehler reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Surviving the feast

Jan Uebleherr reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with helpful hints for Thanksgiving dinner.

Contrary to the article's wine recommendations, you want C. H. Berres Impulse Riesling.

Divine help for hunting faithful

For the start of deer-hunting season, Tom Kertscher has a front page report in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the life of Saint Hubert.
Hubert, a native of the Netherlands, lived about 1,300 years ago. He was well-to-do and he enjoyed hunting.

One Good Friday morning, according to the legend, Hubert went hunting instead of going to church. He saw a deer and then a vision of a crucifix between the deer's antlers. ...

Hubert also heard a voice deliver a daunting message:

"Hubert, unless you turn to the Lord and lead a holy life, you shall quickly go down to hell."

Hubert heeded. He gave up his possessions, became a priest, then a bishop and eventually was canonized.

Now, he is known as the patron saint of hunters.
And, the article points out, the source of the logo for Jagermeister, "the popular drink-it-cold liqueur".

The intrepid reporter ventured northwest of Milwaukee, and found that even in the hamlet of Hubertus, most of the locals were ignorant of their patron saint.
Unless you happen to ask Marlene Winkelmann, who helps run Sloppy Joe's Saloon and Spoon on Hubertus Road, where "Jager bombs" sell for $4.50.

Winkelmann remembers the St. Hubert lessons she learned years ago at the former St. Hubert's School.

If few of her customers seem to know the story, she said, perhaps it's because more outsiders have been moving into Hubertus.

"We have four stop signs on the corner now; there used to be none," Winkelmann said. "Now that's progress."

According to this Madison magazine article, if you're visiting the area,
Hubertus' Sloppy Joe's (ask for one and it's free) Saloon and Spoon is where to take the family -- great food, fun building history.

Nothing goes with a free sloppy joe like a Jager bomb.

Pastores Dabo Vobis - November 2, 2006 - All Souls Day

An email from Archbishop Timothy Dolan to the priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
1. This morning I had the honor of celebrating morning Mass at St. Francis de Sales Seminary for our departed priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. We prayed by name for those who passed away over the past year: John F. Murphy, James W. Hess, Gerald P. Schmitz, Robert F. Enders, John Knotek, Peter T. Amrhein, Frederick A. Heuser, Joseph A. Strenski, Vincent B. Holubowicz, Richard L. Grebasch, Alfred F. Van Beck, Dennis M. Andrews, John J. Wutscheck, Joseph N. Zeihen, Victor A. Kemmer, Francis W. Jordan, Donald T. Musinski, William H. Mackin, Donald A. Darnieder, and Albert A. Palermo. I try my best to consult the Ordo each day so I can remember in prayer our brothers on the anniversary of their passing into eternity, and I know many of you do as well. A great practice!

That's twenty in all.
2. I recently received a courteous letter from one of our many dedicated lay people certified to preach in the archdiocese, asking if it were true that I had "changed" the guidelines and withdrawn such permission for her to preach. Of course, as I have replied often before, I advised her that, no, I had not "changed" any such guidelines, but had only insisted that the universal discipline of the Church be heeded: namely, that, while competent people can indeed preach at a variety of liturgical, devotional, and catechetical occasions in the life of the Church, only one in Holy Orders -- a deacon, priest, or bishop -- can preach the homily at the Eucharist.

Certified to preach, but not certified to know what the guidelines are?
I ask that this serious expectation of the liturgical law of the Church be obeyed.

Hope springs eternal.
Yes, a qualified lay person can on occasion speak at Mass. This, though, should be exceptional, and not occur at the time for the homily, after the gospel.

Someone might have needed a reminder that's where the homily goes? I wouldn't rule it out.
I rejoice that we have a custom of well-trained men and women who can, and do, preach well at other occasions of prayer, worship, ritual, and catechesis, and want that to continue.

By saying "well-trained" he appears to assume that it was a fluke that one was ignorant of the guidelines. No need for follow-up.
But the teaching of the Church is clear that the office of preaching the homily at the Eucharist flows, not from Baptism, but from the sacrament of Holy Orders. Thank you for your attention.

Sure, but he probably thinks the teaching of the Church is clear in a lot of areas. What's the connection to what our priests say and do?
3. For the last 18 months, members of my administrative team have been studying the possibility of raising the archdiocesan parish assessment. ...

Though this would involve our, and our parishes', money, I don't recall 18 months of in-depth coverage in our Catholic Herald. Mike posted to fill that gap.
5. If available, I'd enjoy accepting invitations to preside at Advent Penance Services. ...

I assume those involve General Absolution only when he's not there.
7. Bishop Sklba and I are off to the U.S.C.C.B. meeting week after next. Topics will be on the restructuring and trimming of the conference structure, a few liturgical translation matters, and approval of some upcoming teaching documents on moral issues. We'll be in Baltimore now, not D.C. It's more historical, and cheaper!

He emailed them an update from the meeting, we learned from Diogenes at Off the Record.
8. Tuesday night, Bishop Sklba and I got back from a very uplifting visit to Sagrada Familia parish in the Dominican Republic. I'm going to write about it in my Some Seeds Fell on Good Ground Tuesday.

As noted in its October 24, 2006 issue,
"Some Seed Fell on Good Ground" is Archbishop Dolan's personal communication to those with whom he shares ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. For this reason, it is not to be printed in bulletins or newsletters without the prior permission of the Department for Communication.

By "for Communication" they obviously don't mean they're in favor of it. See parish assessments, above.
9. Back to All Souls Day . . . I was surprised - - pleasantly, since most of them were positive - - by the number of comments I received from last Tuesday's Some Seed Fell on Good Ground. You may recall that I listed a number of things I found very praiseworthy in our beautiful traditions of funerals here in the archdiocese, and, naturally, a number of areas we could probably work on improving. The whole article is available at For those of you who did not read it, here is a reprint of those things I feel we can improve upon (the area of my article that received the most comments):

You will not be surprised that there are also, in my view, a few areas we might want to work on:

I suspect our most anti-literalist priests will take that "might" literally.
- the funeral Mass is always an act of faith in the dying and rising of Jesus. At one funeral recently, I heard the lector introduce the Mass with, "We have gathered to celebrate the life and death of . . . John Jones." Well, not exactly. We have actually gathered to celebrate the dying and rising of Jesus Christ, and John's incorporation into it;

Assuming the resurrection of the body and life everlasting is something you care about.
- while we express a sure hope that the departed will be eternally united with Christ in heaven, we also realize it is proper, prudent, and realistic to ask the Lord's mercy on him or her.

Just so there's no mention of you know what.
- while cremation is now allowed for Catholics, (although burial of the body is still preferred), the remains are always to be interred immediately in a cemetery;

In case you were wondering, Ash Wedesday ashes are from burning the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday.
- and, I might as well tackle it. . . Eulogies. I've sat through some moving ones, and I've sat through some interminable, inappropriate, and embarrassing ones. (I must confess that the same applies to homilies!) A few thoughts:

- - Eulogies by family members or friends are much more appropriately done at the wake service, or even right before the funeral Mass begins, rather than at the end of Mass;

- - If allowed at Mass, pastoral wisdom shows that there should be only one eulogy, written out, succinct, and dwelling on the departed's faith;

The dying, wake, funeral Mass, and burial of a cherished family member or friend is a sacred, unrepeatable moment. As Jackie Kennedy remarked,

And not ironically!
"The Church is at her best at death." We owe it to our faithful departed and their survivors to be at our best.

A blessed November!

Keeping those twenty priests among those in mind,
Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord! And let perpetual life shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.

10. As you know, we have been without a full time Vicar for Planning since Brian Mason took on a half-time pastorate last summer. ... Thus, I have asked Bishop Sklba to resume the role, and he, with characteristic generosity, has accepted. ...

As we know, Archbishop Dolan has much more confidence in Bishop Sklba than some people do.

Update: Regarding a comment, you can see for yourself in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal [pdf, 131 pp.]; section 382 is on page 92.

Anthony Burgess

Recommended reading:
by Anthony Burgess at Reading Rat


International Anthony Burgess Foundation

More on Anthony Burgess, From the Archives of The New York Times

Anthony Burgess, The Guardian

Authors' Calendar

Audio Interview with Anthony Burgess, by Don Swaim

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews): 'Clockwork Orange' hard to stage: Theater group struggles with Burgess novel turned into play, by Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hilaire Belloc: Catholic Historian and Prophet

From that title, I conclude Jerry Schmutte is a Belloc fan. He'll speak about Belloc Sunday, November 19, 2006 2:00 p.m., at Blessed Sacrament Church's hall at 41st and Oklahoma, following a 1:45 p.m. Rosary. The event is brought to my attention by the latest print edition of the newsletter of the local CUF chapter.

Here are Online Books by Hilaire Belloc at the Online Books Page.

More Triumphs in Catholic Catechesis

Catholic and Enjoying It! on being Catholic and not enjoying it.
So many Catholics find their way into contact with some warm, loving, vibrant Evangelical community that welcomes them, affirms their baptismal gifts, actively looks for ways in which that person can be both fed spiritually and also given constructive work for the Kingdom of God. What happens is much more like falling in love than accepting a syllogism. And so the Catholic becomes an Evangelical--because they were loved.

... Theological excuses for rejecting Catholic teaching get layered on top of the real reason: which was that Catholic fellowship sucked and left people feeling unloved and unconnected with the Church any living way and Evangelical fellowship did not. Often what drives the search for theological excuses to stay away from the Catholic Church is the fear that, should the Church's claims turn out to be sound, one will be exiled back to that loveless parish one left.

He continues, quoting a comment, in this later post.

Look for many parishes to eventually conclude it's not enough to have "welcoming" in the mission statement; they need to add "warm" in there, too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jeopardy Reduxe

At Ten Reasons, a post on Pflaum Publishing's version of Classroom Jeopardy for Catholic catechesis gets a response from the publisher.

On a related topic, while at Pflaum's web site, I saw no indication of a revival of their Catholic comic book Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact.
Despite its lily-white image, Treasure Chest contained a fair amount of lurid, sensational material — for example, its 1961-62 This Godless Communism series (drawn by [Reed] Crandall) was loaded with death and degradation.

How about an online version with a This Dictatorship of Relativism series?

P.S. Note how, once again, the problem was not enough lawyers.

What American accent do you have?

While I sometimes take online quizzes, I usually don't post the results. This quiz by Xavier Kun is an exception. If you try to imagine the author's voice when reading blogs, he says mine will have an accent called The Inland North
You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

Actually, I haven't been asked those questions, being from Wisconsin it would only be annoying to be asked if I'm from Chicago, and carbonated drinks are "soda".

(via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor)

Virginia Woolf

In A Room of One's Own Woolf also invents a hypothetical "Shakespeare's sister," who shares her brother's literary genius but dies in penniless obscurity because a woman in Elizabethan England would never have enjoyed the opportunity to exercise her talents. One can imagine another hypothetical figure, "Woolf's maid," a poor woman in Georgian England who has to work for a living from the age of 13, cleaning up after the famous writer. After all, Woolf's famous formulation that a woman writer must have £500 a year and the solitude of her own room in which to write presumes implicitly that there will be servants to make the writer's meals and clean her house. --Elaine Blair, The Horror of Dirt: Virginia Woolf and Her Servants, The Nation, October 29, 2008 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

The peculiar status of Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) as muse to every woman seeking a room of her own took off after fast sales of The Years landed her on Time magazine's cover in 1937. Next, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? hurtled her in the 1960s into catchphrase immortality. Feminist thinkers and literary critics then raised her up as a heroine, spurring a counterreaction that just added to Woolf's gleam.

By the end of the 20th century, the trajectory of ascent from icon of 1930s modernist elitism to literary everywoman pointed straight up. --Carlin Romano, Virginia, Jean, and Flannery: A Good Role Model Is Easy to Find, The Chronicle Review, March 13, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

She and Leonard were infinitely more liberal than their forebears, and yet they were parsimonious. They embraced the Labor Party and politics that promised social change, and yet did not seem to realize that their way of living perpetuated established class divisions. --Claire Messud, A Maid of One’s Own, The New York Times, October 17, 2008, review of Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury, by Alison Light

Woolf and the other Bloomsbury group members regarded themselves as socialist and held what they considered to be “advanced” views on the mingling of different social groups—their servants were not expected to wear uniforms, for example, or address them as “sir” and “madam”. Yet they seem to have been quite clueless about what life was like below stairs. --The Economist, Pantry power, September 25, 2008, review of Mrs Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury, by Alison Light

Why we have them I can’t think by Rosemary Hill, review of The Mrs Woolf and the Servants: The Hidden Heart of Domestic Service by Alison Light, London Review of Books, August 16, 2007

The women behind Mrs Woolf by Lynsey Hanley, review of Mrs Woolf and the Servants: the Hidden Heart of Domestic Service by Alison Light, Telegraph, July 28, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

His love was unconditional, review by Jim Higgins of Leonard Woolf: A Biography by Victoria Glendinning, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 10, 2006

The Constant Husband, review by Adam Kirsch of Leonard Woolf by Victoria Glendinning, The New York Sun, November 22, 2006
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Rage of Virginia Woolf, by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal, Summer 2002

Complexity & contradiction: Virginia Woolf & George Eliot, review by Brooke Allen of Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee & George Eliot: A Life by Rosemary Ashton, The New Criterion, November 1997

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

History of the Milwaukee Catholic Press Apostolate

Our Catholic Herald has this chronology at the foot of its About Us page, including
The Complete Parish Coverage Plan is adapted under Archbishop Stritch
All parish members to receive the paper through parish paid plan

The chronology doesn't say when this plan was abandoned and the paper returned to individual paid subscriptions.

Maybe it could save the cost of mailing and have the ushers hand us a copy with our parish bulletins.

What did you hear?

Usually asked at Amy Welborn's Open Book, but in this case one Ralph Roister-Doister recounts in a comment at Musings of a Pertinacious Papist.

Breathing Emotionally

This column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser ran in our Catholic Herald. Though the column is ostensibly about Henri Nouwen, Fr. Rolheiser doesn't quote Nouwen. Rolheiser's summary treatment of Nouwen's diaries makes Nouwen sound less like he's breathing emotionally than like he's breathing in Sylvia Plath's oven.
Today the small rejections of my life are too much for me - a sarcastic smile, a flippant remark, a brisk denial, a bitter silence, a failure to be noticed, a coldness from a colleague, an indifference from someone I love, a nagging tiredness, the lack of a soul mate, a loneliness that I can't explain. I feel empty, alone, afraid, restless, unsure of myself, and I look around for invitations, letters, phone calls, gifts, for someone to catch my eye in sympathy, for some warm gesture that can heal my emptiness. And right now I don't particularly want God, faith, church, or even a big and gracious heart. I want simply to be held, embraced, loved by someone special, made to feel unique, kissed by a soul mate. I'm empty, a half-person. I need someone to make me whole.

Nouwen does, in Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying with Icons (1987), call himself "a strongly psychologized contemporary person" (p. 32) but that doesn't become the subject of the book. Diogenes at Off the Record thinks otherwise about Rolheiser's writing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Water czar will lead efforts to conserve

Darryl Enriquez reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on plans by the state Public Service Commission to create a position to more efficiently oversee efforts to coordinate water conservation.

How this and similar positions resemble the Czars, or why anyone would want them to, remains as unclear as ever. Will meter readers be modeled on the Okhranka? Does it create the potential to blame problems on a water rasputin? If the water czar is unpopular, will he be overthrown, leading to a takeover by a water lenin and a water stalin?

Update: It's time for a water czar editorializes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
It's time to stop wasting water. Creating a new position to help communities do that would be a solid first step.

"I'm from the government czar, and I'm here to help."

Liturgical Dance Fever

Collected from You Tube at The Cafeteria Is Closed.

Monday, November 13, 2006

How did "Kumbaya" become a mocking metaphor?

Which it certainly has.

Jeffery Weiss reports in The Dallas Morning News.

(via Terry Mattingly at Get Religion)

Fr. Groeschel at Trinity Academy

Fr. Benedict Groeschel is the featured speaker at Trinity Academy's annual fund-raising dinner December 7, 2006.

Dick Schimmel, the Rosary Man

Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Mr. Schimmel has given away 1,147,023 rosaries since August 5, 1998.

In case you're wondering,
Catholics are taught to use the rosary of the Virgin Mary to meditate on the life of Christ. Beads or knots on a rosary guide people through introductory prayers to five decades - groups of 10 "Hail Marys" - interspersed with other prayers.

Outside of college football, the "Hail Mary" is more formally, though quite infrequently, titled the Angelic Salutation.
Although traditional devotional practices such as pilgrimages and rosary recitations at Marian shrines declined sharply in the late 1960s and 1970s, they have been growing in popularity in recent years, according to the Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton.

It was apparently believed that eliminating devotional practices would somehow spontaneously generate something better to take their place.
Historian Garry Wills, author of the 2005 book The Rosary, said in an interview last week that he's had a strong response to the book but has seen no hard evidence of a widespread resurgence in use of the rosary.

"I think it has the potential for a real comeback because people are very interested in meditation now," Wills said.

Maybe the Rosary could replace the labyrinth.

Update: Peggy Noonan at Opinion Journal, pre-election, on how all prayers receive an answer.
A month ago Mr. Santorum [Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)] and his wife were in the car driving to Washington for the debate with his opponent on "Meet the Press." Their conversation turned to how brutal the campaign was, how hurt they'd both felt at all the attacks. Karen Santorum said it must be the same for Bob Casey and his family; they must be suffering. Rick Santorum said yes, it's hard for them too. Then he said, "Let's say a Rosary for them." So they prayed for the Caseys as they hurtled south.

A friend of mine called them while they were praying. She told me about it later, but didn't want it repeated. "No one would believe it," she said.

But I asked Mr. Santorum about it. Sure, he said, surprised at my surprise. "We pray for the Caseys every night. We know it's as hard for them as it is for us."


Plato vs. Grand Theft Auto, by Roger Sandall, Ideas and Argument August 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

It taught me that there are some important questions to ask, that just because there are questions doesn't mean there are answers, and that even if there are, the questions and the questioning might be more important anyway. --Martin A. Linsky, 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. 139, on The Republic

This reckless questioning is not the same as wisdom. But I can easily imagine a young Plato coming home from Italy and wanting to scream from the rooftops: “You lemmings! Must we all eat olives and figs?”

It is a powerful experience to see that things don’t have to be the way they are, that our societies and our lives can be arranged otherwise. This is one of the great gifts of seeing the world.

It can be like coming out of our cave, blinking and looking. --Frank Bures, Plato Was a Backpacker, World Hum

To all such ‘scholars ... would-be scholars ... mythomaniacs and charlatans’ Pierre Vidal-Naquet had one answer, the same answer for half a century: Plato made Atlantis up. --James Davidson, Plato Made It Up, by James Davidson, London Review of Books, June 19, 2008, review of The Atlantis Story: A Short History of Plato’s Myth, by Pierre Vidal-Naquet, translated by Janet Lloyd

presented me not only with a flurry of ideas and a way of investigating them and thinking them through but also with a figure, Socrates, vividly portrayed, who embodied these ideas and lived this inquiry. --Robert Nozick, 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, pp. 186-187, on The Republic

His definition of ideas, as what is simple, permanent, uniform, and self-existent, forever discriminating them from the notions of the understanding, marks an era in the world. --Ralph Waldo Emerson, Plato; or, the Philosopher, Representative Men (1850), Chapter 2

Parmenides by Raymond Tallis, Prospect, January 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Hemlock Available in the Faculty Lounge by Thomas Cushman, Chronicle Review, March 16, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Forgotten Virtue: How Plato perceived the importance of courage, by Harvey Mansfield, review of Plato and the Virtue of Courage by Linda R. Rabieh, The Weekly Standard, January 29, 2007

The Seductions of Socrates, by David K. O’Connor, First Things, June/July 2001

The Politics of Transcendence: The Pretentious Passivity of Platonic Idealism, by Claes G. Ryn, Humanitas 1999 No. 2

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ask the Pastor

At Milwaukee's Saint Sebastian web site,
Ask the Pastor anything! Father Richard Aiken will have an answer. Questions and answers will be posted regularly.

Temporarily under construction. Check back soon!

Q1. What does Father Aiken now consider "soon"?

Update: The News & Events page says
16 October 2006

New website launched! Stay tuned as we make changes and add new features.

so we know "soon" means at least 27 days.

Update 2: I noticed that St. Seb's Liturgical Ministries include
Sacristan - Paid and volunteer positions with responsibilities that include assisting presiders and other liturgical ministers and maintaining order in the sacristy.

Might be a question in that.

God Fearing

From an essay by John Wilson in The New York Times Book Review.
Many years ago, when I was teaching English at a large state university, I sat through part of a faculty debate on the problem posed by evangelical groups who were "proselytizing." These professors, you understand, were fully committed to free speech -- they’d swear to it, so help me Mario Savio -- but they were concerned about the vulnerability of impressionable young minds to the seductive wiles of Campus Crusade for Christ, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and other such evangelical organizations.

Author exposes misconceptions about Apostle Paul

Yes, but whose?

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran this interview of Garry Wills by Michael Clancy of The Arizona Republic.

Feingold rules out 2008 run for president

Craig Gilbert reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) said so in an interview yesterday. What kind of candidate will his party nominate?
"The first choice would be somebody who voted against this unfortunate Iraq war. That may not be available," said Feingold, who was the only Senate Democrat considering a run who voted against authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

... "Those who were there and came to the judgment the Iraq war was a good idea have to answer for some concerns I have about their judgment. That was a really bad judgment. I'm prepared to support a Democrat who voted for that war, but I think the American people would prefer a president who had the judgment to see it was not a good idea," he said.

Sounds like he could have supported President Bush in 2004, if Bush had been a Democrat.

3 Catholic schools may be closed

Steve Schultze reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the current eight schools serving Racine's 11 parishes might be consolidated into a five school K-8 system. Students in the schools total about 1,500. (I wonder if Racine once had parishes with 1,000 students in a school, like those I remember in Milwaukee.)
Tuition would be standardized at the schools at $2,200 per student. Families with two or more children in the schools would get discounts. In addition, the parishes would provide $1,079 per pupil, Sumner-Coon [Laura Sumner-Coon, spokeswoman for the reorganization task force] said.

The budget for the new system would be $4.6 million, some $700,000 more than current overall costs.

So the planned increase is to $3,279 per student per year. By comparison, though also including high school students,
In terms of operations spending per student -- the cost of running the school system on a daily basis -- Unified spent $10,048 in 2004-05, according to the Public Policy Forum's "8th Annual Comparative Analysis of the Racine Unified School District."

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Mickey Kaus noted the need for an ironicon. The proposals for an irony mark, the French backward question mark and Wilson's inverted exclamation point, haven't been widely accepted. In case this is because the problem is too complex for a single solution, I suggest the following for
verbal irony.Fe
dramatic irony!Fe
situational irony?Fe

If you can point out irony.Fe


Two Americas

Peter W. Schramm on his childhood in Hungary in the Claremont Review of Books.
In that same year [1949], the Communists sentenced my father's father to ten years hard labor for having a small American flag in his possession (by that time he had been a leader of the social democrats for some years). At his "trial" he was asked why he had the flag. Was he a spy? He replied that it represented freedom better than any other symbol he knew, and that he had a right to have it.

Schramm's parents fled to the U.S. when the Red Army crushed the 1956 Hungarian revolt. Schramm is a professor of political science at Ashland University and executive director of the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs.

Mark Peters on political history, in the St. Jerome parish bulletin.
We took this country through genocide, grew it through slavery and war, and maintain the status quo in part through class warfare and racism. Far from being exemplars of democracy, we have overthrown legitimately elected foreign governments, supported horrible dictators when it suited us (including Saddam Hussein), and failed to even try to stop genocides in other countries when we had the chance because we judged them to be of no strategic importance to our self-interest.

Peters is a parish consultant for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and founder of Catholics for Peace and Justice.


Piety, Universality, and History: Leo Strauss on Thucydides, by Emil A. Kleinhaus, Humanitas 2001 No. 1

[The History of the Peloponnesian War] helped to teach me who we all are and whence we all come, as well as that history need not be dull. --Myron B. Fiering,

Friday, November 10, 2006

Why smart growth isn't as smart as it thinks it is

Sam Smith at Progresssive Review
Smart growth is a case in point. It sounds great but there are a number of things wrong with it:

- It disses the very people it is trying to help, disparaging the communities where they bought or rented as being places of "sprawl" and other disparaging characteristics. That's not a good way to go around helping people.

Coincidentally, here's my suburban virtual neighbor Sprawled Out's post on a review of the book Sprawl.

Hakuin Ekaku

Recommended reading:
Reading Rat

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Block That Metaphor!

From a review by Steven Pinker of Whose Freedom?: The Battle over America's Most Important Idea by George Lakoff
The left, by contrast, is more likely to embrace George Bernard Shaw's (and later Robert Kennedy's) credo, "Some people see things as they are and ask 'why?', I dream things that never were and ask 'why not?'"

In Act I of Shaw's Back to Methuselah, in which he retells the story of Adam and Eve, you'll see that what Mr. Pinker (and Sen. Kennedy) quoted is said by The Serpent. I'm willing to concede the left is more likely to embrace his credo.
Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins--or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom--Lucifer.
--Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals (1971) p. ix

Gardner C. Taylor 'Takes Five'

In today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, urban affairs reporter Felicia Thomas-Lynn interviews the Rev. Gardner C. Taylor.
Q. What do you see as a solution to some of the social ills facing urban communities today?

A. Education. More than half of young black males do not finish high school. Six out of 10 end up in the corrections system. One of the key areas of attack is getting more black young people to complete their education at least through high school.

That gets us halfway around the usual circle, that education is the answer to social problems, the same social problems which (it is sometimes said) must be solved before schools can educate. Rev. Gardner goes outside that circle.
Churches have a deep stake in this.

Q. In what way?

A. Every church can have an enrichment program for students who are in school to help teach them the basic tools of reading and writing. If a child does not get a hold of those basic tools, they are crippled forever. There are people in all of our churches who can do this and who need only to be enlisted. I think that ought to be next to Sunday worship in importance.

The Walrus Was Paul!

It was forty years ago today ...

Massimo Polidoro's "Notes on a Strange World" column in Skeptical Inquirer on the aftermath of the November 9, 1966 death of Paul McCartney.
With Paul's death, however, a big problem arose: the Beatles were at the peak of their career and the loss of one of their members would mean the end of the show for them and for the industry behind them. Thus, somebody had the idea of never revealing Paul’s death and hiring an impostor in his place, somebody who looked like him and could play music. Some sources claimed that the imposter was an actor named William Campbell, the winner of a Paul McCartney lookalike contest and, conveniently, an orphan from Edinburgh. Of course, it didn't hurt to assume that Campbell could write the same type of songs as McCartney and just happened to have the same voice.


Recommended reading: Reading Rat

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

No secret formula for helping poor

Brian T. Olszewski reports in our Catholic Herald on the recent visit to Kenosha by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to receive an honorary degree from Carthage College.
Talk of mission and discipleship leads Cardinal Rodriguez to a recurring theme: The plight of the poor.

"To work for social justice in Latin America is one of (the bishops’) goals," he said, "because poverty, instead of diminishing, is growing. The lack of balance between the small group that has everything and the great, big majority of the poor is also growing. It is not only a gap -- a big, big gap, but an abyss."

Based on what I've seen and read the fundamental problem isn't that a small group has everything but how surprisingly small that everything is. Isn't there something to learn from the experience of nations that were even poorer and developed very rapidly? In South Korea, for example,
Per capita gross national product, only $100 in 1963, exceeded $20,000 USD in 2005.

Update: Colin Harding reports in The Tablet, Ortega the fervent Catholic makes a dramatic comeback,
...the distinguished poet and priest Fr Ernesto Cardenal, an adherent of liberation theology who served as culture minister in [Daniel] Ortega's government, went even further: so disillusioned was he with Ortega that he ended up advising people to vote for Montealegre, a former banker and finance minister. "I think genuine capitalism, which is what Montealegre represents, would be preferable to a phoney revolution," he said last week.

(via Open Book)

Update 2: Robert T. Miller at On the Square,
Consider South Korea and Zimbabwe. In 1970, their respective GDPs per capita were virtually identical: $290 for Zimbabwe and $291 for South Korea. By 2004, Zimbabwe’s GDP per capita had hardly budged, having increased to just $351, meaning that the average Zimbabwean was only marginally better off in 2004 than 1970. In South Korea, however, GDP per capita increased to $14,266, an astonishing forty-nine-fold increase. ... Comparisons for similar pairs of nations--e.g., Singapore and Zambia--yield similar results. ...

When some people are producing a tremendous amount of wealth and others are producing little, it is fine, as a stopgap measure, to tell those producing much that they should share what they produce with those producing little. The immediate needs of the poor must be met. But any permanent solution to the problem requires that those producing little start producing more.

Churches may close, but resilient faith endures

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald.
Three churches have been part of Beaver Dam's history: St. Michael, St. Patrick, and St. Peter. A number of years ago, as part of our ongoing Planning Process here in the archdiocese, those three historic parishes became one, under the patronage of St. Katharine Drexel, but kept the three church buildings.

The painful decision was then made, a couple of years ago, that, given the high cost of keeping all three sites open, with fewer priests, and with the desire to bring all the Catholic community in Beaver Dam together as one each Sunday for the Eucharist, it would be best to close the St. Michael site.

I assumed that we are "together as one each Sunday for the Eucharist" without regard to the number of churches or the number of masses at each church. The Archbishop makes it sound like the goal would be to eventually have all the Catholics in Beaver Dam attending a single Sunday Mass.

Update: In the Comments, Karen Marie Knapp and I segue into church architecture, and she asserts,
That's one of the things that became much more explicit in recent times; there was a period in the 1600-1940's when altars were out of fashion and there was just a ledge or outcropping on the wall that was called an altar (with a symbolic small square of stone to remind one of what an altar was supposed to be.....)

Consulting my Encyclopedia Britannica (11th Ed.), I see a more or less opposite account of history.
At the Reformation, the altars in churches were looked upon as symbols of the unreformed doctrines, especially where the struggle lay between the Catholics and the Calvinists, who on this point were much more radical revolutionaries than the Lutherans. ... orders were given soon after that the altars should be destoyed, and replaced by movable wooden tables ...

While the practice then changed to a stationary table, the distinction between altar and table remained clear.

Madam Speaker? Pelosi likes the sound

The Los Angeles Times reported on the plans of the quotable Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
The gavel of the speaker of the House is in the hands of special interests, and now it will be in the hands of America's children.

(via KausFiles)


The Ojoyoshu, in ten chapters, consists of a collection of passages from sutras and commentaries regarding birth in the Pure Land. It urges rejection of the present defiled world and aspiration for the Pure Land and discusses a variety of practices including the nembutsu for attaining birth in the Pure Land. --Jodo Shu Research Institute, The Influence of Genshin's Ojoyoshu on Honen

Recommended reading:
by Genshin at Reading Rat

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Bristol parish to have new neighbor to south

Karen Mahoney reports, special to our Catholic Herald. Bristol is in Kenosha County, on the border with Lake County, Illinois. The Archdiocese of Chicago is planning a new parish for Lake County.
"I realize that historically, this invisible state line really has separated people who have all the same kinds of needs and we try to satisfy them ourselves," said Fr. Jamnicky. "But with more sharing and dialogue, we could meet each other's needs."

At least needs for more sharing and dialogue. But let's look ahead. If people live in one archdiocese and belong to a parish in another, which one will grant their annulments?

Misleading Auto-Calls

FAIR Wisconsin opposes the defense of marriage amendment to our state constitution, in part, because of its two sentences,
The first would permanently deny marriage rights to loving, committed gay families who live in every Wisconsin county.

Despite that, it is using these automated calls saying its desired "no" vote has just the opposite effect, as described in the accounts on the linked Sykes Writes post. My home voice mail has two such messages on it.

I suppose even if the amendment passes, there'll be a push for a law like the proposed Board of Health rule under which New York Plans to Make Gender Personal Choice.

Musical tour of Venice history

Tom Strini in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews Saturday's performance by Spiritus Collective at St. John's Cathedral, part of this year's Early Music Now series.
These composers were among the first to designate instrumentation, which Saturday included the trombone-like sackbut, the piercing cornetto, violins, organ, harpsichord and theorbo (bass lute), in groupings from duo to full band. The big ensembles were inevitably split in two, with lots of call-and-response, a fair bit of contrapuntal imitation, and striking, abrupt merging into a wall of sound.

That last effect often associated with Filippo Spectorini.

I thought one reason the Cathedral renovation included replacing the pews with chairs was because chairs could be rearranged for concerts. They weren't. If you look at the floor plan, the musicians were in the "Music Area" (formerly the Sanctuary). The seating in the section between them and the altar faces the central aisle, so the musicians were to the side of that part of the audience. The altar was between the musicians and most of the rest of the audience, in the line of sight of people along the central aisle.

The Corona looks further away in this picture than it does in person. It's style is a quite jarring contrast to the rest of the Cathedral, even as renovated.

Rudyard Kipling

We've just heard Rod Blagojevich quoting Rudyard Kipling's famous poem, "If." With apologies to Kipling, here's a version revised for the current circumstances... --Claudia Rosett, If...Kipling Had Met Blagojevich, The Rosett Report, December 19th, 2008 11:32 pm (via Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy)

Recommended reading:
by Rudyard Kipling at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Rudyard Kipling, too, has the perfect sort of prose for what he does. From Kim to The Just So Stories to The Jungle Book, he paints the strange new world of India in strange new Indian words—none of them quite refined, but all of them given exactly enough context that the child reader can feel the satisfaction of puzzling them out. --Joseph Bottum, Children’s Books, Lost and Found, First Things, December 2008

Kipling's New England home a 'precious jewel' by Joyce Saenz Harris, The Dallas Morning News, on Naulakha

At last, Kipling is saved from the ravages of political correctness, by Andrew Roberts, The Telegraph, May 13, 2003

Rudyard Kipling & the god of things as they are, by John Derbyshire, The New Criterion, March 2000

Monday, November 6, 2006

Ballot initiatives

The Milwaukee magazine article on "Catholics in Crisis" cited this statistic (p. 54).
The number of couples married in the Milwaukee archdiocese has fallen by an astonishing 42 percent since 1989. The could lose the church two generations: the couples and their future children.

The Priests Alliance statement on tomorrow's vote on the defense of marriage amendment takes a "root causes" approach, claiming that the problems of marriage as an institution come from poverty, the loss of stability and fringe benefits in employment, and the commercialization of sex.

These are hardly new developments since 1989, so it's hard to see how they explain this drop since then among Catholics. They say
Indeed, our pastoral experience tells us that the prospect of gay unions is not a chief cause of marital instability and family dissolution.

That does not address whether the prospect of gay unions and the steep decline in marriage proceed from a common change in attitudes toward marriage and sexuality, attitudes contrary to Church teaching.

And if, as they claim, marriage can be affected by societal changes as tangential as a change from defined benefit to defined contribution pensions, then that hardly justifies a lack of concern with the long-term effects of as basic a change as same-sex marriage or its equivalent. As Patrick McIlheran said
You must answer "yes," then, merely to keep from being whisked to where no human society has been.

Some walk, most stay for Mass message

Doug Erickson reports in the Wisconsin State Journal on reaction to the recorded homily which Madison's Bishop ordered all priests to play at yesterday's masses.
"I could have stayed in there and pretended I was soaking it up, but why be a hypocrite?" said [Frank] McMahon, as he waited out the 14-minute message from Morlino by gazing at a quilt hanging in the church vestibule.

(So that's what those banners and cloth hangings are for.)
A handful of other parishioners also walked out, unwilling to hear Morlino's opposition to three controversial issues -- same-sex marriage, the death penalty and embryonic stem-cell research.

(via Open Book)

Woody Allen interviews Billy Graham

At You Tube, Part 1 and Part 2.

(via Althouse)

Margaret Atwood

Recommended reading:
by Margaret Atwood at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Talking With Margaret Atwood, by John Freeman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 15, 2006

Margaret Atwood's Tale, by Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books, November 2, 2006

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Hot button issues: Sex

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald recalls a summer barbecue with some Catholics in their 20s.
One of the young participants during that enjoyable evening asked me, "Archbishop, why is the church so against sex? The church always seems to condemn sex and warn people about it being immoral." I had to admit, that was a question I often hear.

It just so happened that, on the way over to that visit that same evening, I had heard on the news that Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, had just turned 80. So, I asked the young woman who had posed the question, "Who do you think has a more exalted, uplifting, noble view of sex: Hugh Hefner, or the Catholic church?"

I expected the response would be "Who's Hugh Hefner?" but a discussion ensued. He sums up with this entry for the Unabashed Catechism.
So, if sexual love is a mirror of the Lord’s love for us, it must have the same characteristics: it is forever, it is life-giving, and it is faithful: That can occur only in the lifelong, life-giving, faithful relationship of a man and woman in marriage.

Sexual love is so sacred, so vitally important for us, so tender, sensitive, and noble, that God intends it only for a man and woman united in a marriage that is forever, faithful, and fruitful (giving new life in children).

Election Homily, November 5th, 2006

by Fr. Nathan Reesman, St. Mary's Visitation Parish

(via Get Up, and Get Moving....)

More on Fr. Reesman

A Day of Healing for All Who Mourn the Death of a Child

Registration closes tomorrow for this event.
This Day of Healing is for those who have experienced the loss of a child, from a stillborn baby to the loss of an adult child. It could be a recent loss or a loss from long ago. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, and others are welcome. Members of all faiths are also welcome.

There will be a morning presentation on grief called The Graceful Winds of Grief by Pat Quinn-Casper, Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist at Columbia/St. Mary Hospital. The afternoon includes a presentation and personal sharing of a mother's and a father's grief. Lunch is included. The day ends with a touching memorial service in remembrance of the children.

Speaking of touching,
The cost is $12/person and $24/couple.

If you lost a child so early that you never thought of a name, there's Totga ... the one that got away. Use it, no charge.

Henry James

The Admirable Mrs. James, by Colm Toibin, The New York Review of Books, June 11, 2009, review of Alice in Jamesland: The Story of Alice Howe Gibbens James, by Susan E. Gunter, and House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family, by Paul Fisher

A Man with My Trouble by Colm Toibin, review of The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855-72: Volume I and Volume II, edited by Pierre Walker and Greg Zacharias, London Review of Books, January 3, 2008

A Beast in the Jungle by David Leavitt, review of Henry James: The Mature Master by Sheldon M. Novick, The New York Times, December 23, 2007

Henry James in France by Matthew Peters, review of Henry James Goes to Paris by Peter Brooks, Times Online July 11, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

An (Unfortunate) Interview with Henry James, by Cynthia Ozick, Threepenny Review, Winter 2005

Short Cuts column, by Thomas Jones, London Review of Books, September 23, 2004

What Henry didn't do, review by Michael Wood of The Master by Colm Toibin, London Review of Books, March 18, 2004

Man and boy: Henry James's memories of childhood, by Richard Poirier, London Review of Books, April 17, 2002

Henry James & the life of art, by Hilton Kramer, The New Criterion, April 1993

Selling Henry James, by Joseph Epstein, on teaching James to undergraduates at Northwestern University, The New Criterion, November, 1990

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Church on Marriage Referendum

The link with the above title at Catholics for Peace and Justice is to A Letter to Catholics in Wisconsin on Defining Marriage in Our State Constitution by the Wisconsin Bishops, June 2006. Perfectly consistent with CPJ's Vision Statement saying,
Catholics for Peace and Justice will:

Actively build a broad base organization of Catholics who are united by their faith and commitment to the Church's teaching of human dignity and social justice. [my emphasis]

So what does CPJ consider Church teaching? The Learn With Us > Social Teaching sidebar link takes you to a page explaining What is Catholic Social Teaching? It cites the Bible, Aquinas, and papal encyclicals. The Learn With Us > CST Documents sidebar link is to a page which lists a USCCB statement and papal encyclicals. The sidebar link and Issues link on the Death Penalty are to a page citing a USCCB statement, a Vatican statement, and Archdiocesan resources.

But after the link to the Bishops' letter on the marriage amendment, there are links to the opposing views of Fr. Brian Massingale and of the Priests Alliance. And under Abortion, the only home page link is to "A Little Less Confrontation, a Little More Action" - Finding Common Ground on Both Sides of the Abortion Issue. There are opposing views on every issue CPJ raises, but the only opposing views they acknowledge are those touching on Church teaching on sexual issues. And when there are such opposing views, CPJ abandons its criteria for Church teaching. If Church teaching can be whatever an Associate Professor of Theology thinks on one issue, why not any issue?

New face of slavery in Latin America

Michael Smith and David Voreacos report in the Business Section of today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that unpaid labor produces charcoal at Carvoaria Transcameta near Tucurui, Brazil. The charcoal is used as fuel at a Brazilian blast furnace which produces pig iron. Some of that pig iron is exported to the U.S. by Cia. Siderurgica do Para SA, (Cosipar). Here, some of that pig iron is sold through National Material Trading in Elk Grove, Illinois. One buyer is plumbing fixture manufacturer Kohler Co. in Kohler, Wisconsin.
Kohler says it will conduct its own investigation. "It is clearly disappointing to find that our broker's supplier's supplier employed slave labor practices," says Steve Cassady, director of global procurement at Kohler.

What's the standard for oversight? Here's one opinion.
The products of slave labor enter the U.S. economy because corporations don't ask their suppliers enough questions and haven't worked to root out slavery, says Seungjin Whang, co-director of the Stanford Graduate School of Business's Global Supply Chain Management Forum in Stanford, Calif.

"The major companies should be jointly responsible for labor practices with their suppliers and their suppliers' suppliers," Whang says.

Outside the for-profit context, here's a contrary opinion from Milwaukee's Auxiliary Bishop, Richard Sklba at an October 22, 2002 meeting on sexual abuse by priests.
"Don't you, as a bishop, know what a priest is doing in your diocese?" Sneesby [Michael Sneesby] asked.

"Not all of them," Sklba said.

Something to think about whenever you see the Kohler logo.

In the Presence of the Other: Dialogue Between Faith Traditions

This misleadingly-titled event tomorrow at Sacred Heart School of Theology is about Catholics and Jews, not Catholics and people who check "Religion: Other".

For her, faith means activism

Tom Heinen in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interviews Sister Joan Chittister, in town to address the Call To Action convention.
The talk she prepared for some 3,000 people at the start of Call to Action's national conference here Friday night urged them to remain committed to creating a better world without retreating into the security of personal piety in troubled times.

In some circles, the distinction between "righteousness" and "self-righteousness" has been lost. Looks like a similar process might be underway for "security" and "false security".

(via Dad29)

Update: Speaking of personal piety, Brian Olszewski reported in our Catholic Herald on a New market for Sacred Heart devotion.
Fr. Michael Lightner, associate pastor of St. Francis Borgia Parish, Cedarburg, has been the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Apostleship of Prayer director since July 1. The archdiocese is one of approximately 30 U.S. dioceses with a director. ...

He is also linking devotion to the Sacred Heart and the growing demand for eucharistic adoration he has seen at his parish, where exposition of the Blessed Sacrament takes place all day Monday, and for a half hour on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. ...

Fr. Kubicki noted that there is a "danger in adoration and in this devotion to encourage a 'Jesus and me relationship.'" That is why he emphasizes that what occurs in eucharistic adoration is a beginning that has to be translated into actions.

"What we try to do as you grow in a personal relationship with Jesus is take on the mind, thoughts, heart and affections of Jesus," he said. "As you do that, you can't leave his presence and then go into world and look at people same way. You begin to see other people as Jesus sees them…love shows itself in deeds."

Mount Mary goes urban

Megan Twohey reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"The perception, particularly among students of color, is that Mount Mary [College] is a lily-white school in the suburbs," said Choya Wilson, an administrator who has recruited for the college.

It is in the suburbs. The new outreach program has several elements.
Most radical, however, is that the courses take place on a separate campus, on the second floor of the YWCA in the 1900 block of N. King Drive, north of downtown.

Could this be geographical stereotyping?
Nakaya Spicer, a midtown program participant who graduated from Messmer High School, lives on N. 103rd St., which is much closer to Mount Mary's main campus. To get to the satellite campus, she must leave her house at 7:50 a.m.

"The commute has been hard," she said.

She'Leah Fox of Shorewood isn't thrilled about the location, either. She is among nine participants who live on the main campus in a residence hall. Every morning, they pile into a bus that takes them to class.

All this busing to the second location seems strange, given that Mount Mary's main campus is on two bus lines that go through the inner city. But oh for college days, when 7:50 a.m. seemed early.

Mass music: Prayer of praise, adoration

This column is from The Catholic Herald. Not our Catholic Herald in Milwaukee, but their Catholic Herald in Madison. Both continue to put their respective bishops' columns under a "current" URL and don't assign a permanent URL until the next issue is posted online. The title link here is to the permanent URL.

There's more on the substance of Bishop Morlino's column at Open Book.

Victor Hugo

Recommended reading:
by Victor Hugo at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews): Glimpses of the indivisible whole: Stephen Romer on E.H. and A.M. Blackmore's mountainous bilingual selection from Victor Hugo, Guardian, January 22, 2005

Friday, November 3, 2006

Priest Alliance opposes death penalty referendum

When man bites dog or the Priests Alliance agrees with the bishops, that's headline news.

Maryangela Layman Roman reports in our Catholic Herald.

Honore de Balzac

Recommended reading:
Reading Rat

Some Reflections on the Priesthood

This column by Father Ron Rolheiser ran in our Catholic Herald. After looking back on his thirty years as a priest, he looks ahead.
Roman Catholics still understand a priest too much in terms of his cultic role. There is undue significance given to the cultic powers a priest has been given to preside at Eucharist and administer the sacraments.

It's almost as if somewhere we got the idea it's the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which priests fulfill their greatest task.

Fr. Rolheiser has a different take.
Partly because of this the priest is too easily cast in the role of the tribal medicine man. Like the medicine man, he is respected and revered because he is feared. But he is not genuinely loved, nor understood, because he is never perceived and accepted as being fully human like the rest of us.

That's not the problem I perceive. What I find more problematic is priests' tendency to become exceptionally defensive and manipulative rather than forthrightly dealing with issues, such as issues of liturgy, sacraments, and personnel.
More debilitating still is the Catholic community's understanding of the priest as a sexual being. Bottomline, a priest is expected to act as if were not a being full of sexual complexity.

Maybe this is a problem for priests like him who talk about sexuality so vaguely. An example or two might clarify what he means.
Unfortunately, that is rarely afforded us and, consequently, we must pretend, pretend that we are eunuchs. No eunuch can preach effectively to the full-blooded. That is why we are politely listened to, even as it is taken for granted that we have nothing vital to say about real life.

Or the problem is in his emasculated prose, rather than his congregation.
It's an interesting speculation as to why the Catholic community wants its priests to radiate naivete and non-complexity.

A question that might be answered by actually asking some actual people. Instead he asks it rhetorically, putting distance between him and us.
Finally, we tend to leave no room for our priests to be weak. I am not speaking here of weak in the moral sense, but weak in the way Jesus was weak and in the way that any truly sensitive person is: vulnerable, not always together, emotionally over-wrought, chronically over-extended, and prone to cry very needy tears at times.

His ideal pastor is a natural for the title role in a parish production of Camille.
And so my plea is this: Please don't, consciously or unconsciously, ask your priest to dress in medieval clothes, to stay in the sanctuary, and to be so timid as to be unable to dare the perilous task of living.

Because if we do, it might make Father cry?
Let him be himself: complex, weak, sexed, masculine, involved, needy, and free not to pretend.

Yes, yes, we've got it, Father needs to be weak.
Small wonder hardly anyone wants to join us!

They can always switch to his recruiting slogan: The Seminary Is Looking For A Few Weak Men.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

William Styron

The 10 writers — magazine editors, psychiatrists, librarians, academics — argue with Styron’s rejection of the historical record, his interpretation of Turner’s scriptural and religious inspirations, his use of African-American dialect and his invocation of inflammatory stereotypes in both black and white characters. --Jess Row, Styron’s Choice, The New York Times, September 5, 2008

Recommended reading:
by William Styron at Reading Rat

Catholic Fundamentalism

It's like Bob Sungenis in The Matrix.
A new, revolutionary idea about God is at the heart of Catholic Fundamentalism:

God can program in three dimensions. He programmed particles, compiled them into structures and beings, put them in motion, and had them move through time.

(via Ankle Biting Pundits)

November 3 - 5, 2006 Call To Action National Conference

This year we are celebrating 30 years of Call To Action

That's ten years past the old record held by Rip Van Winkle. The invitation elaborates.
This passage from Exodus inspires the theme for our conference this year: "I AM! Rise Up, People of God!"

I'd pondered setting up a group to buy the Cousins Center to house a Museum of Progressive Catholicism. A CTA convention program gives you an idea of what the tour would be like.

P.S. Internet search results for "museum progressive catholicism" included Peter Nixon's post Do Commonweal Catholics have a future?

Update: Lena Woltering will speak on the lay synod movement.
She was coordinator of FOSIL (Fellowship Of Southern Illinois Laity, a CTA affiliate) ...

Update 2: Grant Gallicho at Dot Commonweal posts that VOTF withdraws from CTA conference
Citing the women-priests' planned eucharistic celebration...

Jimmy Mac [McCrea?] posts a comment.
The detractors of VOTF who view the organization as the Spawn of the Liberal Devil have tried to misquote, misrepresent and generally torpedo the organization. It hasn't worked and it won't work.

The sad thing is that the masses of sheeplike Pew Potatoes simply can't be energized to take their roles seriously, so the harvest remains large but the laborers few.

Update 3: Bill Mazzella follows Jimmy Mac with another sic comment.
...CTA runs a successful conference. Its problem is it does not know what to do the rest of the year. Notices, instructions, and updates are rare with CTA. With VOTF they are a weakly occurence.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Friedrich Hayek

Hayek's Law, Legislation and Liberty is not a fully successful book, but the distinction he makes between the general principles of liberal "law" and the excessively detailed and illiberal decrees of "legislation" is valuable as a heuristic. --Virginia Postrel, Law, Legislation, and Health Care Sausage, Dynamist, August 1, 2009

One of Hayek’s most original contributions to economic theory is the insight that economic systems are based primarily on information rather than resources. --Jesse Larner, Who’s Afraid of Friedrich Hayek? Dissent, Winter 2008 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Cafe Hayek, by Don Boudreaux and Russ Roberts

Introduction to The Cambridge Companion to Hayek, edited by Edward Feser, from the series Cambridge Companions to Philosophy
(via Right Reason)

New York University Journal of Law & Liberty, Vol. 1, No. 0 (2005)

The Liberalism/Conservatism Of Edmund Burke and F. A. Hayek: A Critical Comparison, by Linda C. Raeder, Humanitas, 1997 No. 1

Friedrich August von Hayek songs, (1996) by Alexander 'Sasha' Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy

Nobel Prize in Economics 1974

The blurt can hurt

Wretchard at The Belmont Club shows how generalizations only lead to more generalizations.
... I've heard Senator Kerry's sentiments expressed before -- that of being too superior to join a perceived lower class organization like the military -- usually by individuals who think themselves so highly educated and enlightened they are committed to a classless society.

Next time the Senator will have to consult The Google.

Muslim-Catholic Women's Dialogues

At the Archdiocese of Milwaukee web site
The Muslim-Catholic Women's Dialogue will host several dialogue events during 2006-2007. Participants will have the opportunity to enter into ongoing relationships and to engage in the process of dialogue in small groups.

The Dialogue hosts dialogue events at which participants engage in the process of dialogue. Remember when we shot right past the vernacular without stopping?

Rather than a church or mosque, participants will visit "the worship space of the host congregation".

Is Radio "Public" if Nobody Listens?

Dennis York on Ben Merens's Wisconsin Public Radio interview of Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green.
Merens badgers Green to come up with programs he would cut to balance the budget. If I were Green, I would have simply said "I'd start with this radio show."