Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Reading Rat January 2007

Also of interest:
Bhattathiri posted the first reader Comment, to the Bhagavad Gita.

Booksearch x 3: Search Inside books from, and MSN Live Search - at the same time
(via WisBlawg)

The Private Libraries Association

Jott: Voice-powered, hands-free Messaging and To Do Lists.
(via WisBlawg)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

4 northwest side Catholic parishes to merge

A comment to an earlier post provided the link to Tom Heinen's report in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that a new Blessed Savior Catholic Church and School will be created from the merger of Mary Queen of Martyrs, 5409 W. Villard Ave.; Our Lady of Sorrows, 4063 N. 64th St.; and St. Philip Neri, 5566 N. 69th St., into the present Corpus Christi Church, 8607 W. Villard Ave.. Also to be closed is the St. Stephen Martyr Chapel, a former parish church.
The priest shortage that has driven many parish mergers in the past decade was not the strongest factor in this case, said Father Kenneth Augustine, pastor of Corpus Christi.

Leading one to expect the next sentence to provide the actual cause.
Many of the neighborhoods the parishes served became predominantly African-American, and none of the parishes had been able to maintain buildings and operate programs without drawing on reserves or taking on debt to cover deficits in recent years, he said.

Why does blacks moving into a neighborhood require closing Catholic churches? After all, some of these new neighbors might be looking for a church to join.

"We were pretty well convinced that we would probably have to end up doing another merger in a short time," said Father Mark Molling of Mary Queen of Martyrs, whose parish was the result of merging St. Stephen Martyr and Mother of Perpetual Help parishes in 2001.

"Here we are doing it again because our number of members has continued to dwindle. As a result, we thought that making this bigger step of four to one would make more sense and give the new parish a better chance of survival and potential growth."

In the same way that closing factories and firing employees are signs of how much GM and Ford have increased their potential market shares.

The gathering storm

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorializes.
Building the deep tunnel system did not magically clear up all the issues involved in the sanitary sewer system that treats wastewater, but it cleaned up most of them. Overflows from both sanitary sewers and combined sewers have fallen dramatically, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District reports.

Does more need to be done? Yes. Can the district do a better job? Sure. But it won't make much difference if the region doesn't get a handle on the problem created by storm water.

The paper previously reported that Green Bay, which separated its sanitary and storm sewers, doesn't have the overflow problem. Why not check whether or not it has the contaminated storm water problem?

The Blizzard of '47

Jan Uebelherr in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the 60th anniversary.

I note this retelling omits the file photos of streetcars stuck in the snow.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Cardinal’s Sins

David Gibson reports in New York on controversial Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop of New York. A sidebar ranks Eminence Front-Runners: Six men who could be New York's next Cardinal.
2. Timothy Dolan, 56
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Dolan is a mediagenic defender of orthodoxy who tows the Vatican line but doesn’t come off as stern. He’s long been considered a favorite for New York, owing to his Irish heritage and his experience as head of the Pontifical North American College in Rome. With connections to powerful prelates from the Tiber to the Hudson, Dolan is a something of an Establishment candidate.

If Archbishop Dolan "tows" the Vatican line, wouldn't it have to come off the stern?

(via Grant Gallicho at dotCommonweal)

sPAiN'S Labyrinth

at Church of the Masses, a movie review.
Question #3... Did Spain learn NOTHING at all from its tragic, terrible, hellish Civil War?

The answer, from watching Pan's Labyrinth is an emphatic "No." Sixty years later, this film sets the clock back to one-sided pillorying of the other side. Portrayals of "the other guys" as corrupt, barbaric, hypocritical, conniving and without the least humanizing quality is what got Spain into the Civil War in the first place. And then, the film borrows completely from the leftist mythology which is getting replayed in Spain today that the Church was in sympathy with Franco's attrocities.

My thinking is, it's never going to help a social debate to put all evil on the other guy's side. America is wallowing in radical polarization because it's been 150 years since we ended up killing each other in Civil War. Spain has really no excuse for this kind of short-term memory lapse.

From what I saw, I'd attribute the memory lapse to Spain's sleep-deprivation; it should start going to bed earlier.

(via Built on a Rock)

Sarah Silverman will say, sing just about anything

Shtickgeschichte from Joanne Weintraub in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Pastor's green ideas could renew Gothic Revival church

Whitney Gould in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel talks with Rev. Mark McDonough, pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church in downtown Milwaukee. It's an old and now very small congregation with an old church which he'd like to fit with solar panels, a roof garden, and solar tubes.
"We're not about maintaining museums; we're in the business of giving life. And it would be easier to open the doors to new members if I could pay the heat bill."

He can't open the figurative doors of evangelization because opening the physical doors would let the heat out. Some Catholic pastors might be able to match the equivocation and the rationalization, but not many could do it in so few words.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

He inspires fear in the church, hope for victims

Kevin Harter in the St. Paul Pioneer Press profiles Jeff Anderson, attorney for plaintiffs in numerous cases involving sexual abuse by clergy.
When he was 18, he converted to Catholicism to appease his first wife. While he respected the Catholic faithful and the church's long history of promoting social justice, education and health care, he did not really subscribe to church doctrine.

Looking back, Anderson thinks he was an agnostic then. He sought enlightenment from books, booze and chemicals as a student at the University of Minnesota.

Decades later, he gave up the booze.
Coming clean and getting sober humbled him and changed his spiritual view, but not his tenacity.

"I no longer am agnostic," Anderson said. "Reflection and prayer are part of my life. My spiritual life is vibrant. And it inspires me. It is part of everything I do."

Thomas Aquinas

By the time Pius X died in 1914, the Vatican had in place two entirely different Thomisms, one broad and oriented to social questions, the other narrow and focused on capita that could not be debated. --Russell Hittinger, Two Thomisms, Two Modernities, First Things, June/July 2008

The reason there is nothing new to say is that there cannot, by the nature of the discussion, be anything new to say. When it came to the question "Does God exist?," St. Thomas could only think of two reasonable objections in the whole history of human thought. --Mark Shea, Padding the Case for the New Atheism (2008)

I know of no attempt on the part of Thomists to face this issue in a way that is proportionate to the need of their adversaries for patient dialectic, the answering of all objections, the offering of all possible arguments in forms which they will not think beg the question. At this point St. Thomas sets us an example we would do well to follow. I am thinking of the Summa contra Gentiles, especially in contrast to the Summa Theologica. We have been working with the latter as our model and then wondering why the gentiles of the present day are unmoved, except in the opposite direction. We can cherish the hope of re-working the Summa Theologica in forms appropriate to our age, but our immediate obligation is to do the work of the Contra Gentiles. I like to think that it is not an historical accident that St. Thomas wrote the Summa contra Gentiles first. --Mortimer J. Adler, St. Thomas and the Gentiles: The Aquinas Lecture, 1938, p. 20

Summa wrestlers, by Jeff Miller, The Curt Jester

Aquinas proves atheists are closer to God than they think by Brian Davies, The Times, January 13, 2007
(via Open Book)

Does the Cheese Stand Alone, by Becket, Shrine of Holy Whapping

Personal Singularity and the Communio Personarum: A Creative Development of Thomas Aquinas' Doctrine of Esse Commune, by Adrian J. Walker, Communio, Fall 2004

Whig vs. Augustinian Thomists, by Jeremy Beer, New Pantagruel, Spring 2004

Aquinas for the Democratic Age, by Robert Kraynak, review of Liberty, Wisdom, and Grace: Thomism and Democratic Political Theory, by John P. Hittinger, Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2004

Aquinas the Theologian, review by Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., of Discovering Aquinas: An Introduction to His Life, Work, and Influence Aidan Nichols, O.P., Crisis, September 2003

Ever Ancient, Ever New, review by John Saward of Christ’s Fulfillment of Torah and Temple: Salvation According to Thomas Aquinas, by Matthew Levering, Crisis, December 2002

Aquinas on Intelligent Extra-Terrestrial Life, by Marie I. George, Thomist, April 2001

What Aquinas Really Said About Women, by Marie I. George, First Things, December 1999

Aquinas and the Big Bang, by William E. Carroll, First Things, November 1999

Thomas Aquinas: A Doctor for the Ages, by Romanus Cessario, First Things, March 1999

What Aquinas Never Said About Women, by Michael Nolan, First Things, November 1998

Aquinas and the Heretics, by Michael Novak, First Things, December 1995

Thomism, Mathematics and Science, Jeffrey C. Kalb, Jr.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1933), by G. K. Chesterton

Studiorum Ducem (On St. Thomas Aquinas), by Pope Pius XI, June 29, 1923, at EWTN

St. Thomas Aquinas and Medieval Philosophy, by D.J. Kennedy, O.P., 1919, at Jacques Maritain Center

Saint Thomas Aquinas of the Order of Preachers (1225-1274): A Biographical Study of the Angelic Doctor, by Fr. Placid Conway, O.P., 1911, at Jacques Maritain Center

St. Thomas and Modern Thought: Address delivered by Edward A. Pace before the Catholic University of America on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, March 1896, Catholic University Bulletin, Volume II (1896), at Jacques Maritain Center

Aeterni Patris: Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the Restoration of Christian Philosophy, August 4, 1879

Ibn-Sina, Maimonides and Aquinas, from Western Theism, by Robert C. Koons

A Companion to the Summa, by Walter Farrell, O.P., S.T.D., S.T.M., 1938--1942, at Order of Preachers (Dominicans)

Synopsis of the Theological Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas, L.F. Kearney, O.P, adapted from The Rosary Magazine, September 1893, at Jacques Maritain Center

Thomas International

Christian Classics Ethereal Library: Thomas Aquinas

Hugh McDonald's Aquinas material

Thomas Aquinas, by Jacques Maritain, at Jacques Maritain Center

Thomistic Philosophy: The enduring thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, by Joseph Magee

Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal, Ave Maria College

Summa Cite, at Jacques Maritain Center

Another gap that spells trouble for Wisconsin

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorializes,
According to a new report on the confinement of juvenile offenders, a black kid's chances of being locked up in an institution in Wisconsin are 18 times that of a white kid - the third-highest racial gap in the nation. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency, based in Oakland, Calif., issued the report, which featured an even scarier statistic: Wisconsin leads the nation in putting African-American kids in adult prisons.

Why is Wisconsin so extreme? After all, it's not extreme in crime. Even Milwaukee, where most of the state's African-Americans live, features proportionately less crime than cities where black kids aren't locked up so much.

Governor Doyle says he will appoint a commission to investigate. The editors suggest some questions.
How much of that gap comes from a difference in the commission of crime? How much from other factors? And what are those factors? Do blacks, say, handle drugs more than whites? Or do white drug users get treatment and black drug users prison?

The commission, they say, should pursue these questions wherever they might lead.
Whatever the answers - whether African-Americans do more time because they do more crime or because they are singled out for prosecution - the task force must come up with solutions for curbing imprisonment among black men.

Does this mean that the work of E. Michael McCann, Milwaukee County District Attorney from 1968 to 2006, will come under scrutiny? I have to wonder.

Beatrix Potter

It may not be possible to see Beatrix Potter with a fresh eye (nobody actually reads her; we all somehow only reread her). But, when you get a chance, take another look at the prose and drawings in, say, The Tale of Two Bad Mice, one of the weirdest things ever allowed into print. --Joseph Bottum, Children’s Books, Lost and Found, First Things, December 2008

Recommended reading:
by Beatrix Potter at Reading Rat


Peter Rabbit and Friends

The Beatrix Potter Society

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews): Force of nature: A Hollywood film and a comprehensive new biography celebrate the spirited nature of the businesswoman and environmentalist who created Peter Rabbit, The Economist, January 4, 2007

Serve, lead as Christ did

Karen Mahoney reports Special your Catholic Herald
The difference between a great organization and one that falters often rests with the leadership.

So if a newspaper can't catch typos, it reflects on the editors?
Servant leadership is an idea with a lineage as old as the Scriptures. Yet, the principles that ground servant leadership mirror a universal principal of humility, honesty, trust, empathy, healing, community, and service.


Alceste's larger flaw is also the engine that drives the plot: his passionate love for Celimene, a young and heartless flirt who, in playing him false while she plays the field, embodies the worst traits of the society Alceste despises. --Mike Fischer, Boulevard finds dark heart of Moliere's 'Misanthrope', Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 16, 2008, review of a production by Boulevard Ensemble

Recommended reading:
by Moliere at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Superb 'Tartuffe' ends in giddiness by Damien Jaques, review of a production by the Milwaukee Repertory Company, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 8, 2007

'Tartuffe' hits the right notes, by Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 27, 2007

Journal Sentinel changing to serve you better

Editor Martin Kaiser reported on changes to Milwaukee's daily. To start, the pages will be 1/2 inch narrower.
...the new size has been popular with many readers because it makes the newspaper easier to handle.

So narrower is better but tabloid will always be bad?

Among the other claimed improvements
More local news as we continue to give greater focus to the Milwaukee metro area and Wisconsin - bringing you in-depth news and information you can't get anywhere else and a regional news digest highlighting news from your community.

Sounds like further retreat for what once tried to be a statewide newspaper.
A steady stream of high-impact public service journalism from a watchdog team of investigative reporters.

How about some reporting that helps avoid impacts like the County pension and Public Museum scandals?
A better designed newspaper - easier to read and find what interests you the most. Our body type is staying the same size, while our headline, photo caption and classified advertising type will be bolder and easier to read.

I'm hoping for fewer illustrative graphics bigger than the story they accompany.
A new, expanded Sunday Cue section, starting Jan. 28. It will combine the Cue section with the best of our Sunday Lifestyle section and personal technology news that appears in the Tuesday Journal Sentinel. The expanded Sunday Cue section will replace our Sunday Lifestyle section.

Somehow that sounds like the "increase" in the Chocolate ration in 1984.
We will do everything we can to make sure that the final result will be an improved Journal Sentinel.

If improved means lower production cost.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ivan Goncharov

Recommended reading:
by Ivan Goncharov at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews): Being and Laziness, by Joseph Frank, review of Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov, translated by Stephen Pearl, The New Republic, January 25, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

‘Knock Knock’ no joke for St. Catherine evangelizers

Alicia Ambrosio reported in our Catholic Herald.
Fr. Kern [Fr. Jack Kern, pastor] and his parishioners started going door to door this past May after parishioners Debbie Curtis and Mark Peters noticed that not many people from the neighborhood came to church and nobody seemed to want to extend an invitation.

Why didn't they come? Why didn't parishioners want to invite them? The article doesn't say.
The purpose of Knock Knock Ministry, as it came to be known, is to evangelize the neighborhood and the parish. However, the philosophy is that in order to evangelize, the evangelizers need to build a relationship with those they are hoping to evangelize. At the same time the evangelizers experience God’s Good News by sharing it with others.

So is this a Mark Peters knocking on the door with the Good News of salvation of their immortal souls? Or is this the Mark Peters who said he wasn't that concerned one way or the other? (Apostathy, you might call that; analogous to apatheism.)

John Stuart Mill

Classical liberals support the freedom to conduct ‘experiments in living,’ as they support entrepreneurship in business. Innovation is necessary to progress but error-prone; only some social and commercial experiments will prove themselves to be better than the status quo. So classical liberals take a more benign view than Mill of custom and established social practices, which offer template ‘plans of life.’ People’s lives are not second-rate just because they are derivative rather than original. Nor should civil society be attacked by the state for not supporting individuality, as modern left-liberals do in using anti-discrimination law to enforce Millian ideals of personal autonomy on conservative religious institutions. --Andrew Norton, On Liberty at 150, Policy, Winter 2009, review of On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill (via Arts & Letters Daily)

John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand, by Richard Reeves, review by Richard Norman, The Philosopher's Magazine, Issue 41

Liberal Education, Then and Now, by Peter Berkowitz, Policy Review, December 2006 & January 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Authoritarian Secularism of John Stuart Mill, by George W. Carey, Humanitas 2002 No. 1 [13 pp. pdf]

Mill's Religion of Humanity: Consequences and Implications, by Linda C. Raeder, Humanitas 2001 No. 2 [31 pp. pdf]

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873) by James Fitzjames Stephen

Review by W. Bagehot of Principles of Political Economy, Prospective Review, vol. IV, 16, 1848

A Tale of Two Priest-authors

Karen Mahoney reported Special to our Catholic Herald on books by Fr. Dennis Budka, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Community, Fond du Lac, and by Fr. Paul Stanosz, pastor of St. James Catholic Church here in Franklin.

Father Budka's book is a fantasy about a school for young superheroes.

Father Stanosz's book might be, as well.
"While seminary faculty members, bishops, and vocation directors privately bemoan the decline in intellectual aptitude and affective maturity of men entering the U.S. seminaries in recent years, they are reticent about saying anything publicly."

Meaning since he and Fr. Budka were ordained in 1984? Or since the seminary classes of 1970, the members of which had the highest incidence of sexual abuse of children?

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

As one who lived through the 1960s—a decade when barricades went up in the streets of Paris, when leftists were bombing public buildings in America, and when every intellectual worth his salt was coming down on the side of ­revolution—I trace the fault line of change back to a lone Russian, his courage hardened to steel in the Gulag, who dared proclaim, “It is a lie.” The massive documentation assembled by Solzhenitsyn bore witness to a different truth. --Philip Yancey, What Art Can--and Can’t--Do, First Things, February 2009

[Roger] Kimball worries whether America, now in the grips of “crowd politics” rallying to utopian promises, might be headed in the direction of what Friedrich Hayek, following Tocqueville, called “the road to serfdom.” I hope, as he no doubt hopes, that he is wrong about that. One way to ward off that dreadful prospect is to have indelibly imprinted upon our minds the life and literary legacy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. --Richard John Neuhaus, While We’re At It, The Public Square column, First Things, February 2009

What a fighter! What an incorrigible conspirator, and how infectious the enjoyment he got out of it! (His exclamation marks are infectious, too.) What a sense of theatre and timing! How unshakeable in his belief that he was always right, regardless of the occasional 180º turn! What a subverter of other people’s pieties (sometimes even his own)! How wickedly good at puncturing the self-regard of the intelligentsia! What a master of black humour!! What a polemical style!! In the great tradition of the arch-polemicists Marx and Lenin, but used for their undoing!!! --Sheila Fitzpatrick, Like a Thunderbolt, review of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, by Liudmila Saraskina, London Review of Books, September 11, 2008

For political and commercial reasons, the early English-language translations of Solzhenitsyn’s writings were done at top speed and mostly by second-rate translators. Luckily, Solzhenitsyn’s authorial voice is so strong that it comes through even when muffled, and in both the third volume of The Gulag Archipelago and in Solzhenitsyn’s high-spirited memoir, The Oak and the Calf (1980), one translator, Harry Willetts, managed at last to find an English idiom adequate to the originals. (Willetts also finally did justice to Ivan Denisovich.) --Michael Scammell, Solzhenitsyn the Stylist, The New York Times, August 29, 2008

We see signs of Dostoyevsky here and Shakespeare. Their evildoers know they are doing evil. But Solzhenitsyn does not think this is the real problem with our modern evildoers. Evil for them is not a product of hate or revenge or spite or jealousy. Its origin is in ideology, in the purist of motives. --James V. Schall, S.J., Judge For Yourselves, Last Things column, First Principles, August 8, 2008

Often the characters in Mr Solzhenitsyn’s books were one-dimensional, the tone sardonic, the detail turgid. But his indestructibility gave him, over the years, a prophet’s voice.--The Economist, Obituary, August 7, 2008

It is a bit too easy for people in the West to deplore the failure of intellectuals living in unfree societies to follow the example of a Solzhenitsyn. Such stories are rare. His arose from an unusual confluence: a great crime, a great silence, a receptive audience and personal courage well above the ordinary. --The Economist, Speaking truth to power, August 7, 2008

Solzhenitsyn's prison experience taught him what is already found in Genesis, that the first temptation is for us to be the causes of good and evil. --Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., Will To Truth: On the Death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., Ignatius Insight, August 6, 2008 (via Dad29)

The translation [of his Harvard address] blunted the impact somewhat—in fact, there were even sporadic bursts of applause. But soon enough, outraged professors realized that Solzhenitsyn was charging them with complicity in the West's surrender to liberal secularism, the abandonment of its Christian heritage, and with all the moral horrors that followed. --Charles Colson, Jeremiah at Harvard: Three decades after Solzhenitsyn's speech, where do we find ourselves? by Charles Colson with Anne Morse, Christianity Today, August 2008, posted 8/05/2008 08:30AM (via Nathaniel Peters at First Things)

the specter of statism–what Hayek, hearkening back to Tocqueville, called “the road to serfdom”–is a continuing threat, all the more insinuating today because less obviously brutal. How easy it is to forget, to neglect, to ignore that threat. Solzhenitsyn did an immense amount to bolster our memory, but creeping socialism is like the “sweet oblivious antidote” Macbeth craves for his wife. --Roger Kimball, A footnote on Solzhenitsyn, Roger's Rules, August 4th, 2008 5:58 am

Some might argue that Solzhenitsyn himself is partly responsible for the misinterpretation of his views. In an interview with David Remnick in 1994, he conceded that he speaks and writes with a forcefulness that is unusual in the contemporary West. Solzhenitsyn's directness can be sharp, and his sharpness may have given rise to some confusion. But in an atmosphere of moral flaccidity, his directness is attractive, and necessary. --David L. Tubbs, From Under the Rubble, Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2007, review of The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings, 1947–2005, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, edited by Edward E. Ericson, Jr., and Daniel J. Mahoney

Stepan Solzhenitsyn told Ekho Moskvy radio that his father died of heart failure late Sunday [August 3, 2008] at his home in Moscow. --The Moscow Times, Solzhenitsyn, Chronicler of Soviet Labor Camps, Dies at 89, August 4, 2008

Where the Romantics and Decadents self-indulgently embraced Sade as a liberator, Dostoevsky confronted and repudiated him, and reaffirmed the Christian worldview that Sade so ferociously rejected. --John Attarian, Dostoevsky vs. Marquis de Sade, Modern Age, Fall 2004

Zinovy Zinik and "The Solzhenitsyn Reader by Daniel J. Mahoney, On the Square, March 12, 2007, 10:30 AM

Blue-collar Solzhenitsyn by Zinovy Zinik, review of The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and essential writings, 1947–2005 edited by Edward E. Ericson, Jr, and Daniel J. Mahoney, The Times, March 7, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Review by David Luhrssen of The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings 1947-2005 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Shepherd Express, January 18, 2007

Traducing Solzhenitsyn by Daniel J. Mahoney, First Things, August/September 2004

Traditional Prejudices: The anti-Semitism of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, by Cathy Young, Reason, May 2004

No sign of thawing in this cold war of words: Russian Nobelist, revolutionaries' daughter write dueling accounts of alliance gone awry, by Julian Guthrie, San Francisco Chronicle, January 25, 2004

Solzhenitsyn, Again; The great Russian thinker foresaw the situation which now faces George W. Bush, by Hugh Hewitt, The Daily Standard, March 12, 2003

An Interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn, by Joseph Pearce, St. Austin Review, February, 2003

Ascent From Exile, by James F. Pontuso, reviews of Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile, by Joseph Pearce; and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology, by Daniel J. Mahoney, Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2002

Review by Robert P. Kraynak of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology by Daniel Mahoney, First Things, December 2001

Men of Christ event to focus on Catholic life

Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the February 17, 2007 Men of Christ conference in West Bend.
Some language is similar, but this isn't a Promise Keepers event, the non-denominational evangelical movement that became known for large gatherings of Christian men after former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney founded it in 1990.

The language is similar enough that a Google search for "men of christ" ranked Promise Keepers second. Our bishops eventually noticed Promise Keepers.
Meeting with lay men, the U.S. Catholic bishops issued a 1999 report that supports creating a national men's center and notes: "There is a growing hunger for God among Catholic men. They are meeting together in large and small groups, sharing their burdens, listening to each other's story, and celebrating Eucharist. Call it a revival, an awakening. Call it a work of the Holy Spirit at the grassroots level."

A report issued by the Bishops "Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women & Youth".

Norman Mailer

...this larger prognostication of his turns out to have been 80 percent brilliant. Mailer prophesied that Communism, based on its inbuilt inadequacies, was going to collapse. There was no reason to go to war against it. His analysis would loom today as totally brilliant if only he had added a 20 percent tip about what was meanwhile likely to happen to the unhappy people of Indochina during the interval between America’s withdrawal from the war and the Communists’ eventual withdrawal from Communist doctrine... --Paul Berman, Mailer’s Great American Meltdown, The New York Times, August 22, 2008

The possibilities for true diversity were dizzying: Mailer suggested that Harlem might declare a holiday for Malcolm X, while Staten Island honored John Birch. One neighborhood might require church attendance, while another mandated serial sex. --Bill Kauffman, Stormin’ Norman, Decentralist, The Regionalist column, First Principles, October 20, 2008

Norman Mailer, Towering Writer With Matching Ego, Dies at 84 by Charles McGrath, The New York Times, November 10, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Norman Mailer, a dissenting view by Roger Kimball, Roger's Rules, November 10, 2007 11:48 AM (via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Magic of Mailer: Seeing Hitler Through the Forest, by Michael Schumacher, review of The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer, Shepherd-Express, March 1, 2007

Portrait of the Monster as a Young Artist by J. M. Coetzee, review of The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer, The New York Review of Books, February 15, 2007

The Prisoner of Sex by Ruth Franklin, review of The Castle in the Forest: A Novel by Norman Mailer, The New Republic Online, February 15, 2007

Portrait of the Monster as a Young Artist by J. M. Coetzee, review of The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer, New York Review of Books, February 15, 2007

Literary lion not so sure about the big catch anymore, John Freeman interviews Norman Mailer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 28, 2007

Norman Mailer's Devil Has His Day by Volker Hage, review of The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer, Spiegel, January 26, 2007

Satan, Meet Norman by Philip Weiss, review of The Castle in the Forest, by Norman Mailer, New York Obserer, January 22, 2007

Who needs another book on Hitler? Even one by Mailer? by Carlin Romano, review of The Castle in the Forest, The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 21, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Don Quixote at Eighty, review by John Leonard of The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing, by Norman Mailer, The New York Review of Books, March 13, 2003

A Foul-Weather Friend to Norman Mailer, Chapter Five of Ex-Friends (1999) by Norman Podhoretz, at Commentary

Other works online: The White Negro by Norman Mailer, Dissent, Fall 1957, Spring 2008

Friday, January 26, 2007

Franklin Now

Milwaukee's suburban weeklies are being merged into papers serving several suburbs, under the "Now" name. The Franklin Hub, our suburban weekly, has been merged into a new paper for three other south and southwest suburban papers. The papers have added associated web sites for each suburb.

I checked for changes in the Worship Directory in the print edition, for Oak Creek, Franklin, Greendale, and Hales Corners. Now no Catholic churches (or faith communities) are listed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's Not Relativism

David French at Phi Beta Cons
I routinely receive correspondence from concerned parents who worry about relativism. What they need to understand, however, is that academic relativism is a tactic, not a substantive position. When a student of orthodox faith or a person of traditional belief presents a position, they are often countered with the classic relativistic verbal shrug (i.e. "that may be true for you but not for me"), but when the shoe is on the other foot--when the issue is dear to the heart of the academic--the position could not be more absolute. Insults like "racist" or "sexist" or "homophobe" do not come from relativism, but from absolutism.

(via Constitutionally Correct)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Skiing is Believing in Lebanon

Andrew Lee Butters in Time with a conditional statement.
...when there isn't a war, the living in Lebanon is pretty darn easy. Ski season opened here properly a few days ago with the first sunny weekend at Faraya Mazaar, Lebanon's most developed ski resort.

Skiing, sure, but what about snowboarding?
As they head back down from the hills to the coast, many families will have a strange new white hood ornament on their cars. Snowmen are a winter status symbol that tell everyone in your home village that you've been up in the mountains for the weekend. The fact that the snowmen often block windshield visibility doesn't seem to bother anyone. Indeed, a certain joie de vivre in the face of danger is as Lebanese as the cedar tree. As my Lebanese skiing buddy, Alex, said when an errant snowboarder went crashing through the plastic orange protective webbing separating skiers and the lunchtime crowd sunning themselves at a base lodge: "They ski like they drive."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

John le Carre

Recommended reading:
by John le Carre at Reading Rat


The official John le Carre site

Featured Author: John le Carre, With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Double-Cross in the Congo by William Finnegan, review of The Mission Song by John le Carre, The New York Review of Books, April 12, 2007

Belgravia Cockney, by Christopher Tayler, review of The Mission Song, by John le Carre, London Review of Books, January 25, 2007

The Little Drummer Boy, review by James Wood of Absolute Friends, by John Le Carre, New Republic, April 5, 2004

John le Carre at the NFT (1), by Adrian Wootton, Guardian, October 5, 2002

Master of the secret world, by Andrew Ross, Salon, October 21, 1996

I'm an Amendment To Be

A Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor post including a link to Schoolhouse Rock's "I'm Just A Bill" reminded me of this Simpsons parody.

Liturgy and Ritual

James Hitchcock's Keynote Address at the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Convention, published in Adoremus
As traditionally understood by Catholics, community was not primarily a human entity but participation in the Communion of Saints, and the loss of that belief means that the inadequacies of particular communities cannot be transcended. As worshippers are urged to turn primarily toward one another, all divisions are magnified, to the point where only homogeneous communities are possible.

For some people, might that be not a bug, but a feature?

Monday, January 22, 2007


At Free Exchange, the subject is the choice of a zero discount in the British Government-commissioned Stern Report on global warming.
In everyday language, that means that when weighing costs and benefits accruing to those of us alive now, against the costs and benefits to future generations, we get no "extra credit" for being alive closer to this year. A 1% decrease in income today is treated as the exact equivalent of a 1% decrease in income 200 years from today.

Which raised the question how one
might logically reconcile favouring legal abortion, on the one hand, and perfect concern for the welfare of unnamed descendants 2,000 years hence.

(via Iain Murray at The Corner)

Windsurfing to Guantanamo

Clifford D. May at National Review Online
... it is Amnesty International that has come up with the most original way to display outrage, enthusiastically ... urging its supporters to "Sail, fly, windsurf with the Close Guantanamo flotilla!"

At the AI site, it now urges
Sail, fly, swim with the Close Guantanamo flotilla!

Protest by trying to swim to Guantanamo? Might be a Darwin Award in that.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Thomas Hardy

Recommended reading:
by Thomas Hardy at Reading Rat


The Thomas Hardy Society

The Thomas Hardy Association, Yale University

Thomas Hardy, Books and Writers, by Petri Liukkonen

Thomas Hardy, Victorian Web

Thomas Hardy, The Literature Network

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Hardy's history, contradictions, now less obscure, by Mary-Liz Shaw, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 21, 2007

A Pessimist in Flower: by Meghan O'Rourke, on The love songs of Thomas Hardy, Salon, Posted Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007, at 12:16 PM ET

Lying Like It's 2003

claims Frank Rich in The New York Times today.
When the vice president went on a tear like this in 2003, hawking Iraq’s nonexistent W.M.D. and nonexistent connections to Mohamed Atta, he set the stage for a war that now kills Iraqi civilians in rising numbers (34,000-plus last year) that are heading into the genocidal realms of Saddam.

If so, that's still an enormous improvement from what our Archdiocese claimed before the 2003 war.
In a letter mailed to pastors and parish council chairs on Holy Thursday [2000], Milwaukee Bishop Richard J. Sklba, addresses the death toll caused by the 10 year embargo of Iraq and reminds fellow Catholics of the Church's call to care for the needy everywhere. Bishop Sklba asks parish leaders to find ways for their parishes to respond to this crisis. The sanctions, along with the destruction caused by the 1991 Gulf War, have resulted in the deaths of over one million Iraqis, more than half of whom are children.

The accompanying information, titled Won't Somebody Think of the Children? Are the Children Our Enemy? [15 pp. pdf] contains other surprising statistics, like this in a reprinted America article by John F. Kavanaugh S.J. (p. 1/pdf p. 2),
While salaries of professionals like doctors, lawyers and teachers in Iraq were over $100,000 in 1990, they now make a few dollars a month.

Fr. Kavanaugh provides no source for those numbers. It appears no one questioned that Iraqi teachers were making over $100,000 a year. Not Fr. Kavanaugh, not the editors at America, not Bishop Sklba, no one at the Archdiocesan Office for World Mission which prepared the information packet.

Here's an article, republished at Common Dreams, that says
Teachers' salaries prior to the Gulf War were approximately $500 per month.

John Pilger described the impact of ten years of sanctions,
Iraqi teacher salaries have fallen from $400 to $3 per month.

P.S. On the same page, Fr. Kavanaugh claims
Infant mortality, which was 0.1 per 1,000 in 1990, is now 40 per 1,000.

Another few seconds at a search engine, and we find Rankings > Infant mortality rate. Either Iraq's pre-Gulf War infant mortality was by far the lowest in the world, over 95% lower than the runner-up, or nobody involved in producing this document cared if they might be citing made-up numbers.


Third Sunday Anniversary Blessing

President Bush Anniversary Blessing

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Much accomplished, much to do in race relations

Brian T. Olszewski reports in our Catholic Herald on Fr. Bryan Massingale's presentation on "A Realistic Look at Race Relations – Then and Now." Shorter Fr. Massingale:
Noting that "racial realists" were comprised of optimists and pessimists, the priest said the former would say,

"We've come a long, long way," while the pessimists would say, "We have a long, long way to go," citing the minister's "Realistic Look" speech.

That is, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations, delivered April 10, 1957 at a Freedom Rally in Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri.

Fr. Massingale gave three answers to "why race still matters": first, callousness from racial isolation; second, the financial cost of social progress; third, white ambivalence about loss of a relatively privileged position. As evidence of the problem, he said you could drive across the north side of Milwaukee and tell when you cross from the white to the black neighborhoods and vice versa. One difference he doesn't note is the dearth of Catholic churches in black neighborhoods. In fact, the 1990s closings of most Catholic parishes went unmentioned.

I've suggested this disinvestment might be ameliorated if the Archdiocean offices were moved to the inner city. Maryangela Layman Roman reports in our Catholic Herald that Archdiocese’s moving plans evolve, evolving so far to locations on the south side of Milwaukee.

In a comment to this post, Karen Marie Knapp asserts that the Archdiocese locates its offices based on assumed suburban and rural misperceptions of conditions in central Milwaukee. In practical effect, that's indistinguishable from the Archdiocesan leadership and staff sharing those misperceptions, if misperceptions they be.

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has this report by Tom Heinen, Compassion grew congregation.
With 70% of its people 70 or older, Risen Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church was an all-white congregation facing a crossroads in what had become a predominantly African-American neighborhood.

That was eight years ago.

Not long after the closings of the Catholic parishes in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Closings which I heard Bishop Sklba, at a Peter Favre Forum meeting, assert could not be avoided. So what's Risen Savior been doing?
On Sunday, the now-racially diverse congregation at 9550 W. Brown Deer Road will dedicate a $1.75 million project that has expanded the church nave and added offices and eight school classrooms. In 2003-'04, it built and opened a $1.5 million, four-classroom school and gym.

Risen Savior's outreach has been so effective in attracting African-Americans, Anglos and Hispanics that the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod holds it up to 1,260 congregations in the United States and Canada as a model for adapting to change and using local resources, said Pastor Harold Hagedorn, home missions administrator of the Wauwatosa-based denomination.

If it had been ELCA instead of WELS, Bishop Sklba would have had a chance to explain why this would be impossible.

What's the Archdiocese's plan? Here's what Archbishop Weakland told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, also eight years ago.
"I feel very concerned right now that somehow the Catholic Church in Milwaukee is not doing enough in terms of social problems," said Weakland, who cited issues such as family stability, drug use and a lack of role models.

"If I could found a religious order today, I'd found a religious order to live in the central city, just to be there. ..."


The strange business of protesting jobs that may be better than yours

Stacy J. Willis reported in Las Vegas Weekly on picketing at a local Wal-Mart.
They're not union members; they're temp workers employed through Allied Forces/Labor Express by the union—United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). They're making $6 an hour, with no benefits; it's 104 F, and they're protesting the working conditions inside the new Wal-Mart grocery store.

You get what you pay for.
But standing with a union-supplied sign on his shoulder that reads, Don't Shop WalMart: Below Area Standards, picketer and former Wal-Mart employee Sal Rivera says about the notorious working conditions of his former big-box employer: "I can't complain. It wasn't bad. They started paying me at $6.75, and after three months I was already getting $7, then I got Employee of the Month, and by the time I left (in less than one year), I was making $8.63 an hour." Rivera worked in maintenance and quit four years ago for personal reasons, he says. He would consider reapplying.
(via KausFiles)

Explore the Possibilities

This notice on the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on "Seven Discernment Gatherings" for vocations for young women includes a link to download the brochure.

The brochure [2 pp. pdf] is hosted at "Think Priest!"

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Freedom, Liberation, Frigidity and Uptightness

This column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser ran in our Catholic Herald.
Within one generation, most people have stopped going to church, have cut the moral link between sex and marriage, and have gone from Bonanza to Sex and the City.

Now I have a picture of a curling iron setting fire to the View of the World from 9th Avenue revealing them riding in on four taxis.
"It's never too late. Never."
--Ben (Sarah Jessica Parker)

"I might just come to the dance and take a look at one of those big, raw-boned women!"
--Adam (Cynthia Nixon)

"Was she .... you know .... NEKKID?" .....
--Hoss (Kim Cattrall)

"Oh, no, ladies, you can't go in there!"
--Little Joe (Kristin Davis)

Update: Casting's done.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Instant Messaging Etiquette

Stowe Boyd comments on an "Anne Zelenka ... tongue-in-cheek diatribe" and adds some advice of his own.
Let people IMing with you know if you are in a public place.

Not to be confused with letting people I Ming with you.

(via Digg)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Church’s Challenge: Holding On to Its Young

The concluding third part of David Gonzalez's report in The New York Times on Harlem's Ark of Salvation church.
As Pentecostalism advances across the world, winning converts faster than any other Christian denomination and siphoning believers from more established faiths, it is also suffering its own slow leak: young people who are falling away from the faith.

Mainline Christian churches have grappled with the problem for years. And recently, evangelical leaders in the United States sounded an alarm over “an epidemic of young people leaving.”

But the loss is doubly distressing for Pentecostals, evangelical Christians who can be especially zealous in seeking new members and rejecting the secular culture they feel is luring adolescents away from religion.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Building a Church, and Paying Off a Sacred Debt

David Gonzalez began a three part series in the New York Times Sunday on a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem. Monday he tells more about Pastor Danilo Florian.
The streets of Bedford Park are mercifully quiet at 6 a.m. when Pastor Florian gets up, pulls on a polo shirt, khakis and sneakers and walks to the D train for the 45-minute commute to the garment district.

He has worked in factories since arriving in New York, spending the last dozen years at Judith Leiber, where he polishes stones and precious metals for intricately jeweled handbags that fetch thousands of dollars. The bags may be delicate, but the work is exacting. When he gets home around 5 p.m., he trudges up the creaking stairs.

Then his real job begins.

He rests for a few moments, grabs a snack and dons a natty suit, tie and shined shoes. His wife by his side, he climbs into the church van to round up the congregation for that night’s services, driving all over the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. Whatever they do, he is with them, even if he is not preaching. He must set an example.

"You can’t say, 'I go to church once a week' and leave it closed the rest of the week," he explained. "When I have a church, it is open seven days a week."

Update: For comparison, in The American Lawyer,
...Nancy Kestenbaum, a litigation partner in the white collar defense group of Covington & Burling, shares the minute-by-minute details of one of her busier days.

When mañana is too soon

Kurt Kleiner in the Toronto Star
A psychologist in Calgary thinks he knows why we procrastinate

(via Arts & Letters Daily)

16th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Prayer Service

Monday, January 15th 7-9 p.m. at St. Michael Church
Fr. Bryan Massingale, nationally known moral theologian and Associate Professor at Marquette University will address the topic, "A Realistic Look at Race Relations - Then and Now".

There is a 6:30 p.m. musical prelude, which might include those who heard the call for Youth Needed for MLK Celebration Choir.
If you like to sing, want to help us lift up Dr. King's holiday, or think you would like to do praise dancing ... . We are looking for youth from 14 to 18 years of age who like to sing and have fun praising God.

P.S. Dennis York found there's a MLK commemoration to every taste.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ordinary Time

According to Wikipedia, in this liturgical context
The term Ordinary does not mean common or plain...

but I heard the opposite in a homily this morning.

A Sliver of a Storefront, a Faith on the Rise

David Gonzalez reports in today's New York Times on the rise of Pentecostalism, focusing on Harlem's Pentecostal Church Ark of Salvation for the New Millennium.
Though Pentecostalism, a strain of evangelical Christianity, was born a century ago in Kansas and is often associated with the stereotypical “holy rollers” of the Bible Belt, it has made deep inroads in Asia and Africa. In this hemisphere, its numbers and growth are strongest among Latinos in the United States and in Latin America, where it is eroding the traditional dominance of the Roman Catholic Church.

Experts believe there are roughly 400 million Pentecostals worldwide, and this year, the number in the city is expected to surpass 850,000 — about one in every 10 New Yorkers, one-third of them Hispanic.

Among the former Catholics in the story is the Rev. Danilo Florian, pastor of Ark of Salvation.
"We are not complacent," Pastor Florian explained. "We are more ambitious than Rockefeller."

Around the corner is the Church of the Annunciation, a thriving Catholic parish where Mexicans and Dominicans make up most of the roughly 1,100 worshipers who fill its sanctuary on Sundays.

Its pastor, the Rev. Jose Maria Clavero, knows that the Catholic Church has lost many Latinos to Pentecostalism, but he sees those converts as nominal Catholics who were never part of any parish. "If they are taking in people who were not anywhere, blessed be God," he said. "At least they are in church."

Vocations Surge

Tim Drake reports in the National Catholic Register for Vocation Awareness Week.
Compiling data from the 2006 Official Catholic Directory published by Kenedy and Sons, the Register discovered that outside of Ogdensburg, N.Y., those dioceses with the most ordinands-per-Catholics are concentrated in the South. They include Savannah, Ga., Alexandria, La., Knoxville, Tenn., Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., and Memphis, Tenn. The remaining four are located in the Midwest: Fargo, N.D., Duluth, Minn., Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Springfield, Ill.

Court papers: Priest indicted for embezzlement was married

The Associated Press reported in the Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Virginia) on the Rev. Rodney L. Rodis.
The Catholic Diocese of Richmond was surprised to hear about Rodis' living arrangements, diocese lawyer William Etherington said, as were neighbors in the subdivision where the family had lived in a two-story brick home for at least eight years. ...

Neighbors said Rodis--who lived with a woman he referred to as his wife and a daughter about 20, one in her early teens and another as young as 5--told them he was in the import-export business.

The import-export cover story is presumably inspired by this Seinfeld episode. I'm surprised Father didn't also use the alias "Art Vandelay".

(via Open Book)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Maimonides was difficult to comprehend how this outstanding traditional authority, whose landmark restatement of Jewish law, Mishneh Torah, towered over all subsequent halakhic literature, could also be the author of the Guide of the Perplexed, the most innovative work of speculative Jewish philosophy until the early modern period and one of the few permanent masterpieces of medieval philosophy, period. --Joel L. Kraemer, The Great Eagle, by David C. Flatto, Commentary, January 2009, review of Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds, (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Recommended reading:
by Maimonides at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Body and Soul, by David Novak, First Things, April 2006, review of Maimonides (2006) by Sherwin B. Nuland

The Mind of Maimonides, by David Novak, First Things, February 1999

Hand of God

January 16th, PBS will will broadcast and webcast this Frontline program by Joe Cultera on his brother, Paul, was molested in the 1960s by Father Joseph Birmingham, who also reportedly abused nearly 100 other children. Paul Cultrera would keep his secret for 30 years until he decided to finally confront the church and launched his own investigation into how the Archdiocese of Boston had covered up allegations against Father Birmingham ...

Supreme Court will review 'Doe v. Archdiocese'

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has granted a petition for review of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision in John Doe v. Archdiocese of Milwaukee. On review, it will consider two issues.
Are the plaintiffs' claims for affirmative misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment and negligent supervision by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee independent causes of action that should not be dismissed under the statute of limitations due to the "discovery rule," or are the actions barred by this court's decisions in Pritzlaff v. Archdiocese of Milwaukee, 194 Wis. 2d 302, 533 N.W2d 780 (1995), and John BBB Doe v. Archdiocese of Milwaukee, 211 Wis. 2d 312, 565 N.W2d 94 (1997)?

If the plaintiffs' mispresentation and negligent supervision claims are not barred by the statute of limitations, are they barred by the Establishment or Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment?

If the court reverses and cases like this can proceed, then I expect our Archdiocese will file for bankruptcy.

Scandal in the Church: Five Years On

A five-part series on National Public Radio.

Old image, new niche

Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the planned January 21st installation of an image of Our Lady of Altagracia, patroness of the island of Hispaniola, in a niche at St. John's Cathedral.
Millions of the island's inhabitants in the Dominican Republic and Haiti revere this portrayal of the Virgin Mary as much as Mexicans do Our Lady of Guadalupe, said Sister Rosemary Huddleston, a Sinsinawa Dominican who is international mission coordinator for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

A distinction sometimes missed.

The image is a gift from La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family) Parish in the Dominican Republic, which has a 25 year relationship with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
The parish gave the image to [Milwaukeee Archbishop Timothy] Dolan last fall when he led about 30 people from here to celebrate the 25th anniversary there. It is a reproduction of the original, a 13-by-18-inch painting in the basilica in Higuey.

Friday, January 12, 2007

U.S. Catholic Bishops' Liturgy Chair Raises Concerns Over New Worship Texts

Not furniture, it's Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). I've had two pastors in a row who reword the Nicene Creed at Sunday Mass to avoid saying "man" or "men", so "Chair" for "Chairman" at the BCL of the USCCB is no surprise.
Trautman argued that the proposed changes of the people’s parts during the Mass will confuse the faithful and predicted that the new texts will contribute to a greater number of departures from the Catholic Church.

Where's the evidence that liturgists sharing Bishop Trautman's views have been particularly exercised about the current number of departures from the Catholic Church?
He urged them [liturgists], in a spirit of respect and love for the Church, to be courageous in questioning those developments that would render the liturgy incomprehensible and betray the intention of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

That's courage as in "The Liturgists' Revised Serenity Prayer".
God grant me the courage to change the things. I can.

(via Open Book)

Update: Anthony Esolen at Mere Comments reacts,
You dumb down your liturgy, dumb down your sermons, dumb down your catechizing, dumb down your schools, and then, then you discover that your people are not too bright. Well, there is an alternative. Why not try teaching?

I can answer that rhetorical question. Teaching, like evangelizing, might be more work.

(via Diogenes at Off the Record)

Monday, January 8, 2007

The Baked Apple

Yes, I was away:

January 5 Chicago O'Hare to New York Kennedy

We took advantage of JetBlue's introductory fare to go to New York. The per person fare each way was literally less than cab fare between Kennedy Airport and Manhattan. The "equipment" was an Airbus A320, like a Boeing 737 except it rattles on take-off.

One plus was each seat had a screen on the seatback in front of it with DirecTV. Homer Simpson once said
Ah, the Luftwaffe; the Washington Generals of the History Channel.

but it was actually showing the story of the Autobahn.

Soft drinks and snacks were free, including Terra Chips, made from blue potatoes and the official snack of JetBlue.

January 5 New York City

Somehow Chicago can have one-train transit service between downtown and both airports but New York can't. Rather than a cab, we took the Super Shuttle. We were one of the first terminal pickups, so got to stop at all the other terminal pickups until the van was full. And we were the last to be dropped off, so we got to stop at all the other passengers' destinations. If you're not in a hurry, you might get a tour of parts of Manhattan you might not otherwise visit. On the way downtown, we passed H & H Bagels (as seen on TV).

We had booked a room at the Hilton New York through one of the online discounters. A guide book described it as a Las Vegas-style hotel, apparently meaning large numbers of rooms designed to encourage you to go out where you can spend money. It was actually quite nice, and an excellent location, but we would have traded a few square feet of closet space for room for a second bedside table with reading lamp.

It was late and we hadn't eaten since Chicago, so walking around the neighborhood we came upon Lindy's. One of the celebrity photos on the wall was of Jack Benny, whose comic persona would have been aghast at the prices. It was like going out for room service. Except for the price, I rate Lindy's corned beef hash acceptable.

January 6 New York City

As forecast, it hit seventy degrees here today. I packed shorts and a tee-shirt and wore them for a morning jog on Fifth Avenue. We got coffees and a bagel at Starbucks, which somehow did not have to charge NYC prices.

Last time we were in New York was October 2001, a trip booked before September 11. One morning of that trip we visited the ruins of the World Trade Center, stopped in at St. Patrick's Cathedral at mid-day, and then saw a matinee of The Producers. We revisited the WTC site today. It's changed, but not five years' worth. Back at the hotel, the recent movie version of The Producers was playing. As the song says, "There's nothing like a show on Broadway", but movie tickets or DVD rentals aren't "a hundred bucks a throw".

That night we went Tavern on the Green for dinner. It's a beautiful setting, right in Central Park. I'd wonder why a restaurant was built on park land, but compared to all the park land taken up by art museums in in New York and elsewhere, it's probably not so much.

After dinner it's on to the Metropolitan Opera for Der Zauberflote.
Julie Taymor's magical production of Mozart's sublime and mystical opera features bears and serpents, and, of course, a rotating cast of internationally acclaimed young singers, including soprano Isabel Bayradkarian and baritone Nathan Gunn. James Levine conducts most performances.

It also features a giant lucite cube, the sides of which form most of the sets. Julie Taymor's staging continues her riff on Mr. Bill. "What next, will the figures be moved by hand?" started as a joke at the expense of cheap animation but now it's at the expense of people in from the sticks hoping to see grand opera. We can hear grand opera anywhere, and see it staged idiosyncratically by our regional companies. Impressive singing, though, especially Erika Miklosa as the Queen of the (I could sing these Fs all) Night.

January 7 New York City

The Times for Sunday carried this Editors' Note. In sports, both the Giants and Jets lost.

Then it was off to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. On the way in a gentleman handed us flyers explaining how John Cabot was the real discoverer of America and salvation is through Faith alone.

We went to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum for the Design Life Now exhibition. I noticed that designers dislike our suburban homes but most of what they draw up looks like an airport terminal.

Back at the hotel, on the History Channel: Rudolf Hess.

For dinner we took the subway to Cookshop in Chelsea. Seemed like a good time to find out if I like rabbit. Not so much, it turns out, though I'm sure it was very well prepared. My wife's opinion is more informed in culinary matters, and she was favorably impressed.

On the way back we stopped at Strand Bookstore, a large used books store that now claims "Eighteen miles of books". I couldn't resist buying a few, even though I've been trying to cull my collection down to the amount of shelf space available.

January 8 New York City

We stopped at Barneys, my wife to shop, me to see if it really has "skinny mirrors" (as seen on TV). They do have enormous mirrors, perhaps eight by four feet, leaning up against the columns. We thought our reflections might look a little thinner.

We took a taxi back to Kennedy Airport, via the Van Wyck (as seen on TV). No traffic delays; JetBlue gave us an early check-in bonus. Terminal 6 was showing some wear and tear but has a good selection in the food court.

Flight and drive home uneventful. One of these trips, I'll have to try blogging at an internet cafe.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Students teach students theater

Cheri Perkins Mantz reported in our Catholic Herald on three Thomas More High School students who produced and directed a play with a cast of 25 students in grades six through eight.

Sarah Stuecker's explanation of what the production entailed was refreshingly free of jargon.
"I think I've learned leadership because you have to be able to control them and be a leader so you can do a good production," said Stuecker, a senior. ...

"It's always hard to put up a cast list because I knew some people wouldn't be happy with their parts, but that's going to happen with any play," said Stuecker.

There's a broken heart for every light on St. Francis Avenue.

House Dems Moving Goalposts

At The Influence Peddler
The incoming Democratic leadership promised a fast start to the new Congress, with an ambitious '100 Hour' agenda. They then restated that they didn't actually mean the first, you know - 100 hours, or anything. They meant the first 100 legislative hours - a period that could stretch over a number of weeks, actually.

Now, they further clarify that they don't really mean the first 100 legislative hours - they mean the first 100 legislative hours not counting the new House rules package...

(via KausFiles: "It's going to be a long '100 Hours.' ")

Update: Richard E. Cohen looked ahead to the new House with comparisons to the Republican House elected in 1994 and lead by Newt Gingrich.

Everything old is new again on WOKY

Tim Cuprisin reports in the Inside TV & Radio column in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
As forecast right here in May, WOKY resurrected its old "Mighty 92" persona from the 1960s heyday of Top-40 AM radio on Tuesday. The station's new/old format focuses on the Beatles era and stretches into the early 1970s.

These old songs don't include anything from the 1950s, a decade that you won't find represented on Milwaukee radio. You'll have to consider one of the satellite radio services for stuff older than 1964.

Or check for a nursing home with Muzak's 50's and 60's hits.

P.S. Scott Fybush in his Travels with Scott column in Radio World reported History Is Alive and Well in Milwaukee. Read it and you'll know more about Milwaukee radio's past than Dave "some other guy" Berkman.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A Mission to Convert

H. Allen Orr's review essay in The New York Review of Books focuses on The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Indeed, one needn't be a creationist to note that Dawkins's argument suffers at least two potential problems. First, as others have pointed out, if he is right, the design hypothesis essentially must be wrong and the alternative naturalistic hypothesis essentially must be right. But since when is a scientific hypothesis confirmed by philosophical gymnastics, not data? Second, the fact that we as scientists find a hypothesis question-begging--as when Dawkins asks "who designed the designer?"--cannot, in itself, settle its truth value. It could, after all, be a brute fact of the universe that it derives from some transcendent mind, however question-begging this may seem. What explanations we find satisfying might say more about us than about the explanations. Why, for example, is Dawkins so untroubled by his own (large) assumption that both matter and the laws of nature can be viewed as given? Why isn't that question-begging? ...

The answer to both questions can be found in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District [139 pp. pdf] where the court summarized the pertinent scientific dogma.
However, we believe that arguments against evolution are not arguments for design. Expert testimony revealed that just because scientists cannot explain today how biological systems evolved does not mean that they cannot, and will not, be able to explain them tomorrow. (p. 72)

Growth Through Dark Nights

This column by Father Ron Rolheiser ran in our Catholic Herald.

The weeping starts in the tenth paragraph.

Changes considered for Racine schools; merger possible

Karen Mahoney reported, special to our Catholic Herald of November 30, 2006, on these proposals for Racine's Catholic schools.

On December 17, 2006, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the proposals were dropped.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Houses affordable for everyone

Michele Derus reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on how Hartford, in exurban Milwaukee, has some relatively inexpensive homes in new developments.
Hartford's housing philosophy is this: Let the market provide, with minimal interference, what the people want. There are no architectural controls, no development impact fees and just a few consistent rules.

The city's chief requirement is that the development house entry-level workers and executives alike.

As a result,
Most newer Hartford subdivisions mix in modest houses, small lots and/or multi-unit buildings among single-family homes.

Some subdivisions have narrow streets and sidewalks or shallow setbacks.

It all curbs development costs and, in turn, purchase prices, [City Administrator Gary] Koppelberger said.

What do the developers say?
Mike Kaerek, president of West Allis-based Kaerek Homes Inc., which has developed about 400 lots in Hartford, said, "What they ask is never that drastic. On our first subdivision five years ago, they required that 15% be priced at $130,000. Our average price at the time was $160,000 or $170,000, so putting in a few at less wasn't much of a problem. Normally, a piece of land has a section where you'd have narrower lots anyway."

Kevin Dittmar, president of Dittmar Realty Inc. in Menomonee Falls, which has developed 260 lots in Hartford, said lower house prices are due to city policies, not city mandates.

"Their engineering department is efficient, responsible and reasonable. Their guidelines are clear and they don't make endless changes and alterations, like some places do. That has a big effect on the costs of roads, sewer and water, which represent 75% to 80% of costs in a full-service urbanized area," Dittmar said. "Plus, they permit and maintain a good supply of buildable lots, and that holds prices down."

A Bishop replies!

At Vox Cantor, asking the Archdiocese of Milwaukee about Bishop Sklba celebrating the Winter Solstice got a personal reply from the Bishop.

(Bishop Sklba wields "I know your type. Well, John Paul did the same thing" better than some.)

He closes,
I would encourage you to come directly to me for any explanation you might find helpful...

The Bishop might concede we could be a bit discouraged about his responsiveness, unless perhaps if we had killed somebody.


Off the Record noted this from a homily by Archbishop Weakland.
"Oh ... that's ... that's Jewish. That's very Jewish. Did you read the first reading where it says that mothers take care of their sons and it doesn't even mention daughters? That 'Jewish mother' thing goes way, way back!"

As to the Holy Family, I've been told there is a competing theory that they were Irish, since the son lived at home until he was thirty and his mother thought he was God.

Report sparking MPS to act

Alan J. Borsuk reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the continuing dismal condition of the Milwaukee Public Schools had lead to a call for another round of changes.
The report gives MPS, in effect, a D-minus for its efforts in recent years to move students forward and called for reversing a 15-year process of power flowing away from central administration.

My recollection is the MPS annual budget is now well over a billion dollars a year, which works out to over $1,000 per month per student. If "student" applies with a 40% drop-out rate,
...and, on any given day, more than 10,000 MPS students miss school time.

That's one out of nine.

While the report recommends structural changes, it points to a deeper problem.
But the report particularly is critical of the attitude among the 70-plus people the team interviewed, from top MPS leaders to teachers and parents.

"MPS has seen only small, incremental gains in student achievement over the last several years," it says. "More problematic, however, is that many people in the district see these marginal improvements as acceptable. . . . A sense of urgency to raise student achievement is not apparent throughout the organization. The board, administration and staff appear fairly complacent."

That complacency goes beyond these constituencies. It can be found in the Milwaukee citizenry, such as this post at From the Anchor Hold. On her real estate tax bill, she writes
...this entire community, gets very good value for the money Caesar collects in the taxes...

and gives as an example
Having the children educated, whether their parents can do it or not.

The most cursory look at the facts shows the citizens of Milwaukee do not get good value for what they pay in school taxes: the children are not educated despite enormous expenditures. When this is pointed out, the fallback position is to excuse it, as in Karen Marie does in her comment to this post.

Update: In what passes for good news in the City of Milwaukee, last year the murder rate fell back to normal, that is, an average of two a week.

Meanwhile Steven R. Pigeon has an op-ed lamenting
Milwaukee's negative perception of Milwaukee has been commonly accepted as significant obstacle to recruiting people and businesses to the Milwaukee region. The city's negative perception thrives in the city of Milwaukee and spreads like a virus to the surrounding areas.

Blaming perceptions is a symptom of the complacency.

The Role of the Celebrant in a Flexible Liturgy

In January of 1970, a Committee of the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission [8 pp. pdf] looked forward to the new Ordo Missae. For example,
The celebrant must present a relaxed image to the congregation if he is to express its unity. Since the letter kills and the spirit gives life, any excessive concern with rubrics will show itself in an artificiality of presence and a certain un-human feeling in his activity. Ritualism can smack of magic. The CELEBRANT is HUMAN, THEREFORE FLEXIBLE. He can communicate this human spirit in his comments made during celebration. ...

Monday, January 1, 2007

Chattering classes

From the Economist
In his essay On Duties, Cicero remarked that nobody, to his knowledge, had yet set down the rules for ordinary conversation, though many had done so for public speaking. He had a shot at it himself, and quickly arrived at the sort of list that self-help authors have been echoing ever since. The rules we learn from Cicero are these: speak clearly; speak easily but not too much, especially when others want their turn; do not interrupt; be courteous; deal seriously with serious matters and gracefully with lighter ones; never criticise people behind their backs; stick to subjects of general interest; do not talk about yourself; and, above all, never lose your temper.

Probably only two cardinal rules were lacking from Cicero's list: remember people's names, and be a good listener.