Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Reading Rat February 2007

Also of interest:

(Public) Library Databases, ABA Legal Technology Resource Center
(via WisBlawg)

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, Marvel Comics edition
(via Catholic and Enjoying It!)

Introducing The Book

(via WisBlawg)

Books still beat today's electronic buzz by Whitney Gould, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 18, 2007

Talk2Action vs. Christian Dominion

From the sidelines, I see Chris Ortiz at Chalcedon.
most postmillennialists do not believe the "thousand years" of Revelation 20 are literal. Nor do they believe that they will somehow usher in the return of Christ. Postmillennial eschatology is so well documented that it is inexcusable that Talk2Action writers would make such repeated errors about basic beliefs. If your web site is dedicated to resisting Christian theocracy, shouldn't you read up on the subject?

I won't claim this constitues "reading up", but a quick search turned up this purported repost of a Catholic Answers item and the Wikipedia entry. Looks like Mr. Ortiz has a point.

San Diego diocese files Chapter 11

Allison Hoffman of the Associated Press reports at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the diocese filed and five minutes to midnight yesterday. It was scheduled to go to trial today in one of 140 pending cases alleging sexual abuse by priests.
In a letter [2 pp. pdf] posted on the diocese's Web site, Bishop Robert H. Brom said the diocese made its decision because any damage awards in the earlier trials could deplete "diocesan and insurance resources" and leave nothing for other victims.

That does not actually explain the timing. The diocese could go through trial and, if the trial resulted in a judgment against it, file for bankruptcy then. Hence, others offer alternative explanations.
"For three years they've told people they want to settle, they want to be transparent," said John Manly, a lawyer for a plaintiff whose lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in April, "but the moment it became clear the truth will come out through a jury trial, they sought to shut down victims' ability to get compensated and get out the truth."

San Diego is the fifth U.S. diocese to file for bankruptcy.

Update: Commentary at Shark and Shepherd.

War protesters have their day in court

Cheri Perkins Mantz reported in our Catholic Herald on the January 30, 2007 sentencing of anti-war protestors, including archdiocesan parish consultant Mark Peters.

Their arrest had been reported in the September 28, 2006 Catholic Herald.

The article says they
were found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of obstructing traffic

This was in Milwaukee Municipal Court (case no. 06108591) so it's not a misdemeanor, a crime; rather, it was a traffic citation.
As their defense in front of the judge, Peters argued from the standpoint of Wisconsin Statute 939 which states that people may sometimes be forced to break the law in order to prevent catastrophe or death to themselves or others.

I assume he was citing section 939.48 of the Wisconsin Statutes, though that deals with the use of force in self-defense or defense of others.

The arrest had been a harrowing experience for one of Peters' co-defendants.
Although the piercing snorts and clip-clop of the hooves of the horses belonging to the Milwaukee Police Department were within inches of the four who blocked the intersection, [Dianne] Henke remembers closing her eyes and centering herself on her goal so as not to become frightened.

Peters held up better.
"There was a feeling of freedom in resisting the system that tells us we can't protest such immorality, and in going wherever that leads," he said.

He didn't cite any section of the statutes making protests illegal.
"Although in this case, I knew the price would be fairly tiny. Despite that, I was surprised by the professionalism and humanity shown by the police who treated us with great gentleness and respect."

He's surprised that that the police acted professionally and humanely. He's surprised that the police treated them gently and respectfully. I'm not surprised that Peters held such preconceptions.

I have said that between articles, op-eds, and letters to the editor, the Herald might as well give Peters a weekly feature. His organization, Catholics for Peace and Justice, had been working along those lines. Its February newsletter [7 pp. pdf] says
The Death Penalty Committee then met on January 19th and discussed our inquiry to The Catholic Herald regarding if members of our committee, who are very qualified, could write a series of articles during Lent on the death penalty and prison issues. The Catholic Herald said that they are not interested in a series of articles, but would consider "Guest Opinions."

"Guest Opinions", though, are carried only in the Herald's print edition.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

W. H. Auden

Authors' Calendar, by Petri Liukkonen (2008)

What Auden believed by David Yezzim, On Auden's religious beliefs, and Arthur Kirsch's Auden & Christianity, The New Criterion, March 2006

The Figure in the Carpet Slippers, review by Edward Short of Auden and Christianity, by Arthur Kirsch, Crisis, February 2006

The Double Man: Why Auden is the indispensable poet of our time, by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, September 23, 2002

Auden and the Limits of Poetry, by Alan Jacobs, First Things, August/September 2001

Maximum Assistance from Good Cooking, Good Clothes, Good Drink, review by Frank Kermode of Lectures on Shakespeare by W.H. Auden, edited by Arthur Kirsch, London Review of Books, February 22, 2001

The permanent Auden, by Roger Kimball, a reconsideration of W. H. Auden occasioned by Edward Mendelson's Later Auden, The New Criterion, May 1999

Auden's Prose by John Berryman, review of The Dyer's Hand by W.H. Auden, The New York Review of Books, February 1, 1963

Other works online: Adam as a Welshman by W. H. Auden, review of Anathemata by David Jones, The New York Review of Books, February 1, 1963

Higher education

the professional training of clever and sybaritic animals, who drink, vomit, and fornicate in the dorms by night while they posture critically and ironically by day.
--R. R. Reno summarizing Allan Bloom


Jesus will come for the saints any day now...

Snark launch. 'Information presented on the Patrick AFB/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station website is considered public information and may be distributed or copied. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested.'There's advice for the left behind at

(via Jean Raber at dotCommonweal)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Small projects can stir the soul like tiny jewels

The Whitney Gould Cube-of-the-Month
There's another east side gem in the works, at N. Farwell Ave. and E. Greenwich Ave.: a glassy box of Miesian simplicity designed by David Lang, a rising star at Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, for a small dental practice.

"The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report"

It's the television equivalent of NPR.
--Martha K. Levin, the publisher of Free Press

(see NPR)


What's the problem with organized workers?

Michael King asks in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Lee Hawkins, Jr., answered via KausFiles.

Religion of despair

Chris Hedges, author of American Fascists: the Christian right and the war on America, in the New Statesman. He attributes the appeal in the United States of what he calls Evangelism to despair over economic circumstances. He cites as a typical example Jeniece Learned.
Learned's life before she was saved was, like for many in this mass movement, chaotic and painful.

and, more generally,
The stories that believers such as Learned told me of their lives before they found Christ were heartbreaking.

Then their religious conversions give them hope in place of chaos, pain and heartbreak. Here's Hedges' description of this change
they willingly walked out on this world for the mythical world offered by radical preachers: a world of magic, a world where God had a divine plan for them and intervened on a daily basis to protect them and perform miracles in their lives.

From Hedges' own description, these people have experienced significant, if not miraculous, change in their lives. Despite this, Hedges contends
The danger of this theology of despair is that it says that nothing in the world is worth saving.

Yet his own account is of people who come to believe that they themselves are saved, and begin to live responsibly. And, not unreasonably, they want to save others from the life of despair they've left behind.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Reaching Out ... from beyond the grave

My parish sent a letter which our pastor had prepared just before his recent death. It's on another phase of the "Gathering In--Reaching Out" fund appeal to pay off the mortgage from the building program of a few years back.

I don't know if Fr. Meinholz was aware of it, but you will recall that my parish's operating budget was in a "financial crisis" when the decision was made to embark on a multi-million dollar building program. This isn't the kind of thing I'd want to encourage, and giving money to the capital campaign is likely to encourage it.

At some point, I might reach the same conclusion about contributing to the operating budget.

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Storm, by Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post, July 19, 2009, review of 'A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown...', by Hobson Woodward (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Justice Stevens, who dropped out of graduate study in English to join the Navy in 1941, is an Oxfordian -- that is, he believes the works ascribed to William Shakespeare actually were written by the 17th earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. Several justices across the court's ideological spectrum say he may be right. --Jess Bravin, Justice Stevens Renders an Opinion on Who Wrote Shakespeare's Plays, The Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

So what was Shakespeare like? Canny, sceptical, sympathetic: might Enobarbus, the humorously detached and yet emotionally entangled friend of Cleopatra’s Antony come closest to him... --The Economist, Soul of the age, April 2, 2009, review of Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare, by Jonathan Bate

And if we accept that these paintings were exercises in image-making — in 17th-century spin doctoring — then why not embrace the Cobbe painting? Even if Shakespeare didn’t actually sit for it, this is probably how he, like any other literary figure of the time, preferred to imagine himself: aloof, sexy, mysterious. And, more to the point, this is how most of us would prefer to imagine him too. --Charles McGrath, Is That Really You, Sweet Prince? The New York Times, March 14, 2009

Richard, you remember, had been, and was then, plotting the destruction of his brothers, to make room for himself. Outwardly, the most loyal to the newly crowned king, secretly he could scarcely contain his impatience at the obstacles still in the way of his own elevation. He appears upon the stage, just after the crowning of Edward, burning with repressed hate and jealousy. The prologue is the utterance of the most intense bitterness and satire. --Abraham Lincoln, quoted by F. B. Carpenter in Steeped in Shakespeare, by John C. Briggs, Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2008

I think nothing equals Macbeth. --Abraham Lincoln, quoted in Steeped in Shakespeare, by John C. Briggs, Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2008

“How approach the plays? Well, here’s my notion: First ask ‘What kind of tension is [Shakespeare] exploiting this time? And for what kind of effects?’ Next, ‘What kind of situation (and development) does the play use for the exploiting of this tension?’ Next, ‘What kind of prime character is best adapted to this particular kind of excess?’ Next: ‘If that character, what subsidiary characters are needed, to fit the total recipe?’ And, finally, ‘If all that, what kind of images best lend themselves to this particular enterprise?’ Following along those lines, and in keeping with what we have already discussed with regard to topics in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, one approaches a text thus...--Kenneth Burke, quoted by Emily Grosholz, Kenneth Burke and Shakespeare, The Hudson Review, Autumn 2008 (via Milt's File)

"Love's Labour's Lost" is about the young king of Navarre, a region in Spain that borders on France, and his three single buddies pledging to lead austere lives for three years. No wine, women or song are allowed as the young men devote themselves to study and self-improvement.

The arrival of the French princess and her three attractive girlfriends puts the vow to an extreme test. You can guess the rest.

--Damien Jaques, ‘Love’s Labour’s’ retrieved, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 9, 2008

the biographical fallacy--the unqualified conviction that one can read the author’s life from the work and vice versa.

This fallacy is widespread in Shakespeare studies, true enough, but the business of wrenching passages out of dramatic context as evidence of the playwright’s personal beliefs usually reveals more about the critic than about Shakespeare. --Robert S. Miola, Thy Canonized Bones, First Things, August/September 2008, review of The Quest For Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome, by Joseph Pearce

Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play In Time, Place Shakespeare Intended

The Onion

Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play In Time, Place Shakespeare Intended

MORRISTOWN, NJ—"When most people hear The Merchant of Venice, they think 1960s Las Vegas, but it's time to shake things up," said maverick director Kevin Hiles.

This Small Extravagance, by James Longenbach, The Nation, June 2, 2009, review of Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare, by Jonathan Bate, Review-a-Day

Shakespeare and the Law: Othello and Racial Politics in America, The Federalist Society, Boston Lawyers Chapter and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company present A Staged Reading of Shakespeare's Othello, followed by a Panel Discussion on The Politics of Race in America Under President Obama, on May 4, 2009

Mistress Shakespeare, by Stanley Wells, review of On Shakespeare's Wife, by Germaine Greer, New York Review of Books, April 17, 2008

Married to the myth, by Charles Nicholl, review of Shakespeare's Wife, by Germaine Greer, Saturday September 1, 2007, The Guardian

For his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields by Michael Dobson, review of William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare by William Shakespeare, edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, London Review of Books, May 10, 2007

The readiness to deconstruct is all by Carlin Romano, review of More images Shakespeare the Thinker by A. D. Nuttall, and Shakespeare's Philosophy by Colin McGinn, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 6, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

The true face of Shakespeare? by Peter Beal, review of The True Face of Wiliam Shakespeare Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, translated by Alan Bance, The Times, London, April 18, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

'Words, Words, Words' by Anne Barton, review of The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups by Ron Rosenbaum The New York Review of Books, March 29, 2007

Shakespeare and the Uses of Power by Stephen Greenblatt, The New York Review of Books, April 12, 2007

'Words, Words, Words' by Anne Barton, review of The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups by Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Review of Books, March 29, 2007

Playwright of the Globe by Paul A. Cantor, Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2006
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Who Owns Shakespeare? review by Rachel Donadio of Will in the World, by Stephen Greenblatt, New York Times, January 23, 2005

A Scholar of the Outre Returns to Shakespearean Basics, review by Dinitia Smith of Shakespeare After All, by Marjorie Garber, New York Times, January 11, 2005

'Hear Me More Plainly', review by Katherine A. Powers of The Arkangel Shakespeare, Washington Post, December 26, 2004

The Politics of Gratitude, by Peter J. Leithart, First Things, December 2004

The Stratford man, review by Terry Eagleton of Will in the World, by Stephen Greenblatt, New Statesman, November 15, 2004

Making the Angels Weep, review by Edward Short of The Age of Shakespeare, by Frank Kermode, Crisis, November 2004

Reinventing Shakespeare, review by Colm Toibin of Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, by Stephen Greenblatt, New York Times, October 3, 2004

The Writer's Tale, review by Richard Byrne: In a new biography, the founder of New Historicism finds a paper trail that links Shakespeare's life, beliefs, and morality, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2004

Shakespeare's Leap, by Stephen Greenblatt, New York Times, September 12, 2004

Fixing Strindberg, Shakespeare, et al.: What playwright’s ghosts endure, by Roger Sandall, Culture Cult

Average Bill, by Paul A. Cantor, review of Shakespeare by Michael Wood, Claremont Review of Books, Summer 2004

Dramatist of Forgiveness, review by Edward T. Oakes of The Age of Shakespeare, by Frank Kermode; Shakespeare, by Michael Wood; The Trial of Man: Christianity and Judgment in the World of Shakespeare, by Craig Bernthal; First Things, June/July 2004

Shakespeare's Coined Words Now Common Currency, by Jennifer Vernon, National Geographic News, April 22, 2004

An Unweeded Garden, by David Allen White, review of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (5th edition), edited by David Bevington, Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2004

The Bard, the Black, the Jew, by R. V. Young, First Things, March 2004

Company Man, by Terry Eagleton, reviewed of The Age of Shakespeare, by Frank Kermode, Nation, March 1, 2004

Why Shakespeare Is For All Time, by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal, Winter 2003

The destructiveness of Ressentiment Man, by Roger Sandall, Salisbury Review, Spring 2003

An Iranian Tale: Tehran audiences hadn't seen an English production of Shakespeare for 25 years. Director Dominic Hill had a few surprises for them, The Guardian, January 29, 2003

Writing about Shakespeare, by Frank Kermode, London Review of Books, December 9, 1999

Shakespeare’s Millennium, by Edward T. Oakes, First Things, December 1999

Berryman at Shakespeare, review by William Logan, of Berryman’s Shakespeare by John Berryman, The New Criterion, May 1999

Shakespeare: Made in America, by George Santayana, New Republic, February 27, 1915

Shakspeare knew that tradition supplies a better fable than any invention can. If he lost any credit of design, he augmented his resources; and, at that day, our petulant demand for originality was not so much pressed. --Ralph Waldo Emerson, Shakspeare; or, the Poet Representative Men (1850), Chapter 5

On Shakespeare, by Ben Jonson, Harvard Classics, at Bartleby

Shakespeare Insulter, by Chris Seidel

Open Source Shakespeare

Shakespeare On-line, by Amanda Mabillard

Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet, by Terry A. Gray

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hot-button issue: Stem cell research

This "Herald of Hope" column Archbishop Dolan in our Catholic Herald continued his "Hot-button issues" series.
But, to produce an embryo in a laboratory so that stem-cells can be extracted from that tiny yet verifiable incipient human life? Sorry! Seems like I read once about such things in Aldous Huxley’s "Brave New Word," and saw such labs in a movie called "Frankenstein."

The issue usually arises not from embryos produced to be sources of stem cells, but from making that use of the surplus of embryos produced in infertility treatment. Better if he had brought that up, because in such cases the couple's motivation is to have a child.
Put simply, human life is not a commodity, a means to an end.

For example, the possible benefits of stem cell research cannot justify killing a human embryo, which the process of extracting stem cells does. But the couple using in vitro fertilization are making human life an end in one sense. If anything, their situation would highlight the moral issue, since it highlights that the "excess" embryos are no different than an embryo that goes on to be born to them.
When it comes to human life, size does not matter. Granted, the tiny, microscopic, incipient human life of an embryonic stem cell.

He means of the embryo.
is sure a lot smaller than that of a newborn baby, but they are both simply different stages of the sacred continuum of life, beginning at conception and concluding at natural death.

P.S. Not within our Archdiocese, but touching on the issue, The Post-Crescent in Appleton reported Former ACES teacher wins in vitro probable-cause ruling. The key facts, as reported,
ACES/Xavier [Appleton's Catholic school system] officials, including former ACES president Joseph Bound, testified during a hearing in October that they terminated Romenesko because she'd undergone in vitro fertilization, a procedure the church opposes, in violation of the morals clause in her teaching contract.

But ACES/Xavier didn't fire Romenesko until after she had become pregnant — almost a month after she'd told her supervisor she needed time away from work for IVF treatment.

Being tongue-tied about what the Church teaches might cost this Church institution.

(via Dad29)

T. S. Eliot

For five decades, from Prufrock and Other Observations to the essays that were published after his death, Eliot labored to renew the wardrobe of a moral imagination, that generation might link with generation—and that, beyond the boredom and the horror, men might perceive the glory. --Russell Kirk, Eliot and the Follies of the Time, excerpt from Eliot and His Age: T. S. Eliot’s Moral Imagination in the Twentieth Century by Russell Kirk (2008)

Recommended reading:
by T. S. Eliot at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Academimic by Paul Dean, review of T. S. Eliot by Craig Raine (Lives and Legacies Series), The New Criterion, April 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Review by David Luhrssen of T.S. Eliot by Craig Raine, Shepherd-Express, March 15, 2007

Raine's Sterile Thunder by Terry Eagleton, review of T S Eliot by Craig Raine, Prospect, March 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Women Come and Go: The love song of T. S. Eliot, by Louis Menand, New Yorker, September 30, 2002

Nudge-winking, by Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books, September 19, 2002

T. S. Eliot and the Poem Itself, by Denis Donoghue, Partisan Review, June 5, 2000

A craving for reality: T. S. Eliot today, by Roger Kimball, The New Criterion, October 1999

What T.S. Eliot Almost Believed, by J. Bottum, First Things, August/September 1995

The Politics of T.S. Eliot, by Russell Kirk, The Heritage Foundation, February 9, 1989

Friday, February 23, 2007

The importance of Ash Wednesday to Catholics barely holding on

At BettNet, a beef about a fried chicken chain's
fish sandwich that it is ham-handedly selling with a Catholic Lenten connection.

Also, don't confuse KFC and KofC [2 pp. pdf].

Brokeback Montanism

urging the Church toward a Vichy-style capitulation that acknowledges the de facto coercive power of sexual Leftism.
--Diogenes at Off the Record

(see Ultramontanism.)


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Darth Vader's brother, Chad, becomes comedic force on Internet

Ryan J. Foley of the Associated Press reports from Madison in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Poor Chad, the younger brother of the evil Jedi knight slayer Darth Vader, is stuck managing a grocery store in a series of short films that have become an international hit thanks to video-sharing sites YouTube and MySpace. The six wacky episodes created by Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan have been viewed more than 9.5 million times on those sites alone.

So there are still wacky things coming out of Madison, but what about zany?

A visitor to St. Alphonsus Church

A reader emailed early last month with some observations about my parish after having been away at college.
I'd have to say, I have been pleasantly surprised by some small but unmistakable steps in the right direction! Is this so or is it just me? It's just that over this break I have heard twice in the petitions, prayers for an end to abortion. I don't mean to make mountains out of mole hills but, that's something I had NEVER heard before at that church!

Maybe it was one of those things that used to be impossible.
Also, I saw a children's religious ed book, and the books seem to be way more on the ball then they were when I was a kid. Even containing material about Chesterton and the Gregorian Chant! On the down side, what is with the greeting everyone before the start of the Mass thing they are doing? Where did that idea come from?

I assume some committee figured this would create, or at least simulate, community. Maybe the next step will be name tags.
We already do that with the sign of peace 40 minutes later!

One might almost conclude they are oblivious to how they undermine the very liturgical reforms they claim to be be advancing.
Also I notice some gender-neutralizing going on during the creed and at other times but that isn't new.

Fr. Aiken always used to do that with the Creed, saying one thing into his wireless mike while the congregation said another. Shortly after Fr. Meinholz arrived, he switched to the unmanned version, as well. I never heard either explain why they did this, and no one in the congregation seems to have picked up their alternative wording. Probably another example of intransitive ministry; they did their way, and this had nothing to do with us.

Since I then had my first session with my tenth grade Christian Formation class coming, I asked for more on the texts.
I have seen the texts used by 4th graders and those used by 5th graders. I don't recall the title, but throughout the chapters there would be sections entitled something like "Our Catholic Literature/Art/etc" I know the 4th grade text talked about Gregorian chant.

Update: For liturgical comparison purposes, here's Nell Braxton Gibson reminiscing at the Episcopal Urban Caucus.
The Sunday after General Convention I [in 2003] returned to my home parish for Gay Pride Sunday and participated in a Disco Mass for which gays and lesbians turned out in force. The opening hymn was a beautiful jazz rendition of "Over the Rainbow." Musical offerings came from gay men in sequined tank tops and from the Director of Music who was ushered into the service singing a disco number complete with Go-Go girls. The queen of St. Mark's appeared in full drag to deliver the homily and the closing hymn was, Sister Sledge’s "We Are Family." As I stood singing among straight men and women, young parents with their children, gays and lesbians, teenagers in hip hop clothing, Asians, whites, African Americans and Spanish speaking people I realized I was part of the realm of God and I was glad to be there - in a place where God’s creation of a new thing was being lived out.

(via Get Religion)


Peter and George

The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter by a happy coincidence is also the birthday of George Washington...
--Pope John Paul II, Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, 22 February 1980, Vol. III, 1, pp. 466-468

[May] these United States flourish in pure and undefiled religion, in morality, peace, union, liberty and the enjoyment of their excellent constitution, as long as respect, honor, and veneration shall gather around the name of Washington; that is, whilst there still shall be any surviving record of human events.
--John Carroll, Bishop of Baltimore, Eulogy of George Washington given February 22, 1800 in St. Peter's Church, Baltimore

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More people in cars?

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorializes on local transportation issues.
Yet during a meeting with the Editorial Board Tuesday, [Milwaukee County Exectutive Scott] Walker said he would like to grow the local economy enough so lower-income people don't have to rely on transit and could instead afford to buy cars if they chose.

While we understand what Walker was getting at, those kinds of comments unfortunately sound like someone who thinks of rapid transit more as an urban albatross than a tool for regional economic growth.

I'd be more confident they understood Mr. Walker if they understood the meaning of the term rapid transit.

Update: Et tu Patrick McIlheran?



a private club for educated white people.
--Tavis Smiley


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Surge protector

We do not pretend the issues aren't complex, nor do we insist that all agree on the best course for the future (e.g. immediate pullout, more troops, or gradual turnover to Iraqi forces.)
--Mark Peters, letter to the Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, August 25, 2005

NPR at prayer

Long ago, witty commentators called the Episcopal Church the "Republican Party at prayer." Today, "NPR at prayer" would be more like it.
--Terry Mattingly (February 19, 2003)

Update: (see NPR, charism)


Monday, February 19, 2007

West Allis parish closes peacefully

I don't know what the headline writer was expecting. Alan J. Borsuk reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mary Help of Christians parish in West Allis closed with, among other things,
Bishop Richard Sklba evoking memories of all of life's passages, from baptisms to funerals, marked in the sanctuary of the Catholic church, and with his entreaty to deal with the church's closing in a positive frame of mind.

They responded positively, if resignation counts as positive.
The congregation at the 9 a.m. Mass was around 250, nearly filling the church. That was about five times the typical recent Sunday morning, some members said.

Oscar Wilde

Vatican comes out of the closet and embraces Oscar, by Richard Owen and Ruth Gledhill, The Times (London), January 5, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Long Conversion of Oscar Wilde, by Andrew McCracken, Catholic Education Resource Center, April 2003

Proud Mary? Oscar Wilde's undoing, according to a new biography, was his hopeless preference for ostentatious wit over meaningful art. So why is he a gay martyr? review by Daniel Mendelsohn, New York Magazine, December 18, 2000

What Does the Study Tell Us? Seven Prominent Catholics Respond

Crisis Magazine asked for responses to its state of the Church study.

Russell Shaw noted the criteria used did not measure the general participation of the laity. Of course,
One can only analyze information that’s available, and a lot of important information about the Catholic Church in America either isn’t available or, by design, is available to only a few.

Hence the publication of financial accounts to show the need for (more) money, but not of non-financial accounts which might be used to ask for better results from hierarchy, clergy and staff.

(Update: Here are at least the current Archdiocese of Milwaukee Statistics.)

He notes that Sunday Mass attendance has dropped from 70% to 30%.
At this point, incidentally, Catholic happy-talk used to require saying that there’s far more to being a good Catholic than going to church. Battling for social justice and peace, it usually was said, is vastly more important. But you don’t hear that bit of wisdom so often any more, since even among the happy-talkers it seems to have sunk in that something is seriously wrong when only three Catholics out of ten attend Mass each week—especially when it’s perfectly clear that the other seven aren’t skipping Mass in order to fight for peace and justice.

(Not that this means the "happy-talkers" have rediscovered the distinction between necessary and sufficient.)

He notes that almost all the overall growth in the number of American Catholics is Hispanics.

Smaller dioceses tend to be doing better overall. But they generally are small because they are in smaller communities. If, say, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles does poorly, is that because it's a big diocese or because it's a big city? Thus, it's not known if breaking up large dioceses would produce better results. And ambitious bishops and priests seem attracted to a shot at leading a big diocese, perhaps even if it's a big hollow diocese.

Deal Hudson says the large number of total Catholics is misleading. The number of active Catholics might not be any more than the number of active Southern Baptists.

Bishop Joseph Kurtz of Knoxville, Tennessee, points out one difference in a small diocese.
...we do not have a personnel committee but rather direct contact between bishop and priest in dealing with pastoral assignments.

By contrast, our new pastor will likely be picked by the priest placement board.

David Carlin says much of the variation in diocesan results comes from the demographics of the dioceses' territories. While it's important that the person at the top be accountable, he can't see how the accounting could be done.

Mary Jo Anderson sees the ultimate challenge.
As the article indicates, there is one constant for all American bishops: The "now dominant (and hostile) secular culture" erodes the shared Christian cultural markers that earlier bishops counted upon as part of the American heritage. The fastest-growing self-identified cultural group is adult atheists or agnostics.

That might make a good footnote for the Gaudium et Spes section of a Vatican II failure analysis. But it's an ultimate, not immediate, challenge.
This is the kind of world an American bishop must confront--impossible when the health of his own diocese is on life-support.

Part of that immediate challenge is re-evangelization, including of our own clergy. I'll add re-evangelization of our diocesan and parish staffs.

Amy Welborn "nitpicks" by pointing out other things the selected statistics do not show. For example
a Chicago pastor wrote a forthright note in his parish bulletin about the ordinations in his archdiocese, noting that none of the ordinands was a native of Chicago, none had had his faith formed in a parish in the archdiocese, and all but one were born outside the United States.

George Sim Johnston anticipated my point about our staffs.
There are dedicated, talented Catholics who work in CCD, RCIA, and Pre-Cana programs; but there are also legions of functionaries who somehow got on the payroll and want to turn the Church into yet another Protestant denomination.

Or, as a Comment at Mike's noted,
...there are great tensions and terrible battles over theology within each parish staff.

Johnston says
We need to purge the last vestiges of clericalism, which oddly linger on both the Catholic right and left. The Church is not simply an institution run by the clergy; it is an evangelical movement that should involve everyone.

The Comment at Mike's indicates how our staffs and committees have their own version of clericalism, characterized by what I call minister as an intransitive verb. The satisfaction of ministry isn't being measured by what was accomplished for the people.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bertolt Brecht

Recommended reading:
by Bertolt Brecht at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

How bad blood led to a great musical: Weill and Brecht's three penny opera survives the enmity of its composers, by Robert Fulford, National Post, February 6, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Each Scene for Itself, review by David Edgar of War Primer by Bertolt Brecht, edited by John Willett, Brecht in Context: Comparative Approaches, by John Willett, and Brecht and Method, by Fredric Jameson, London Review of Books, March 4, 1999

Funeral Mass of Fr. David Meinholz

Our pastor's funeral was last Tuesday morning. Though I've seen more people at Mass on Christmas or Easter, I've never had to park so far away. While the parish had a video camera for a feed to the overflow crown in the Community Room, I don't know if the Mass was recorded. Nothing from the Mass is posted at the parish web site. (There are some letters of condolence in today's bulletin [5 pp. pdf].) I took a pocket video camera to try to unobtrusively record some of the Mass.

The entrance procession included dozens of priests and all three of Milwaukee's bishops.

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

Father Meinholz's good friend, Father Charles Schramm of St. Mary Church Catholic Faith Community in Hales Corners, gave the homily. Some years back Fr. Meinholz was to be assigned as Assistant Pastor to Fr. Schramm at St. Sebastian Church. Fr. Schramm told of their lunch meeting to discuss this.

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

From the Eucharistic Prayer, here's The Lord's Supper.

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

Archbishop Dolan had Bishop Sklba and Archbishop-emeritus Weakland say parts of the prayers For The Church. Father Meinholz would have mentioned Archbishop Weakland specifically, but Archbishop Weakland did not.

At the conclusion of Mass, a younger and older Meinholz brother gave eulogies. The older brother turns out to be a fellow-parishioner, and spoke of Fr. Meinholz both as brother and pastor. Fr. Meinholz saw the huge potential of our huge parish. He did not live to awaken this "sleeping giant", but his brother hoped his death would serve to do so. What was needed, he said, was more from parishioners than just the weekly check.

(If only our parish's problems were that small.)

Blaise Pascal

Pascal’s famous wager goes like this, and I ask each of my readers to carefully reflect on it: God either exists or he does not exist, so I must of necessity lay odds for or against him, since I have free choice and in such an important matter I cannot remain neutral. If I wager for God, and God exists—then I have an infinite gain. However, if God does not exist, then there is no loss. If I wager against God, and God exists—then I will suffer an infinite loss. However, if God does not exist, then there is neither loss nor gain. --Kenneth Baker, S.J. Blaise Pascal's wager, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, reprinted in Catholics United for the Faith Milwaukee Chapter newsletter, November 2008

Recommended reading:
by Blaise Pascal at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Amy Welborn reviews Pascal's Wager: The Man Who Played Dice With God by James A. Connor, posted at Open Book, February 14, 2007

Pascal: The First Modern Christian, by Edward T. Oakes, First Things August/September 1999

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Savior as servant: A statement in bronze

Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a statute commissioned for the prayer garden at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
Titled "Christ the Servant," the larger-than-life bronze work will depict a kneeling Jesus washing the feet of a seated woman disciple.

How did that come about? First, the prayer garden was part of the cathedral renovation, completed five years ago. Later,
Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba came up with the idea of a statue of Jesus washing disciples' feet as the garden's centerpiece a few years ago, Last [Father Carl Last, cathedral rector] said. One reason is that the foot-washing scene comes from the Gospel written by the cathedral's namesake, St. John.

Specifically from John 13. You might have expected the statute to be of Jesus washing John's feet. Why a woman, given that the Gospel accounts don't say anything about women being present?
Last suggested making the disciple a woman

Because ...?
to tie in with the women's center.

Good think he clarified that, so we don't think the cathedral parish shelled out a lot of dough for a clumsy propaganda piece on women's ordination.
Dave Wanner said that the woman will have a somewhat surprised expression on her face,

Maybe she's read the Gospels.
an emotion he hopes the statue will evoke in its viewers.

I would have suggested a statute of Archbishop Weakland washing the feet of Marie Rohde.

Gore Vidal

It's not clear, though, to me and I suspect to Vidal, that American democracy can be reclaimed, at least in the form of vigorous, Jeffersonian self-government. (As Vidal points out with his customary sardonic relish, Jefferson began selling out Jeffersonianism during his second term.) The reasons are structural--mass production and mass consumption may not leave enough room for individual autonomy--and clinical--like muscles, intellectual and civic virtues may atrophy beyond repair. No matter who is elected president this fall, the country may become an ever more dispiriting place for a conservative-radical aristocratic republican of Vidal's stamp --George Scialabba, Civic Virtues, The Nation, October 8, 2008, review of The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal, edited by Jay Parini (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Vidal keeps dishing; we keep reading by Joanne Weintraub, review of Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir by Gore Vidal, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 9, 2007

President Gore by Inigo Thomas, review of Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964-2006 by Gore Vidal, London Review of Books, May 10, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

At the Point of Silly by John Dicker, review of Point to Point Navigation, by Gore Vidal, Shepherd-Express, February 15, 2007

The Lives of Gore, by Larry McMurtry, review of Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964 to 2006, by Gore Vidal The New York Review of Books, November 30, 2006

Vidal Discredited! Esquire apologies to Buckley; picks up legal tab, National Review Online, December 14, 2004, 8:34 a.m.

No Accident, review by Zachary Leader of The Golden Age: A Novel by Gore Vidal, London Review of Books, June 21, 2001

Bow. Wow, review by James Wolcott of Gore Vidal by Fred Kaplan, London Review of Books, February 3, 2000

What Gore remembers, by John Simon, on Gore Vidal’s Palimpsest: A Memoir, The New Criterion, May 1995

Midwest SNAP Conference

This region of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests meets February 16–18, 2007 in Chicago. Here's their agenda.

Saul Bellow

Recommended reading:
by Saul Bellow at Reading Rat

Other works online:

Man Underground, by Saul Bellow, Commentary, June 1952, review of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Bellow's remarks on race haunt legacy in Hyde Park by Azam Ahmed and Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune, October 5 2007

Beyond Criticism by Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times, February 4, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Bellow's Gift, review by J. M. Coetzee of Novels, 1944–53 by Saul Bellow, New York Review of Books, May 27, 2004

The Egg-Head's Egger-On, review by Christopher Hitchens of Ravelstein by Saul Bellow, London Review of Books, April 27, 2000

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1976

Friday, February 16, 2007

Milwaukee can be a world-class city

David Gordon, CEO and director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, writes in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, on the European tour of MAM's collection of home furnishings from the Biedermeier movement. He thinks he's demonstrating what's right with Milwaukee.
(As I like to put it: "Milwaukee, Vienna, Berlin, Paris - four world capitals.")

Isn't part of being a world-class city that it doesn't need its own citizens pointing it out?
My next-door neighbor in Vienna introduced himself and immediately said: "Milwaukee, beer." To which I was able to reply convincingly: "No, Beer-dermeier."

Perhaps he's convinced himself. He sounds like Babbitt on Zenith.

Speaking of world-class, besides making beer and being "machine shop of the world", I've heard Milwaukee's bay was once said to be as beautiful as the Bay of Naples. To the extent Milwaukee hasn't filled it in, it's hard to see because people keep putting buildings and giant sculptures in the way.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Parishioners, friends grieve pastor’s sudden death

Cheri Perkins Mantz reports in this week's Catholic Herald on the death last Friday and the funeral yesterday of Fr. David Meinholz, our pastor.

Preaching Peace

The Shepherd Express interviews Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan about having
described Milwaukee as a violent community in a December Time article.

While We're At It, December 2006

From the miscellany in Fr. Neuhaus's "The Public Square" column in First Things
I expect this is a form letter that Fr. Robert Wild, S.J., president of Marquette University in Milwaukee, sends to people who complain about the presence of Daniel Maguire on the theology faculty. One recipient of the letter tells me that it shows that Fr. Wild is a "weasel." Well, I’m not so sure. True, there is the usual stuff about academic freedom and the legalities surrounding tenure, and to say that Maguire’s "positions regarding certain matters are not totally consonant with formal church teaching" is a little like saying that Osama bin Laden has some problems with Christianity. But then Fr. Wild goes on to write, "I also find it useful to recall that even Jesus did not have a perfect group of disciples." As with the apostles, the whole faculty should not be condemned "for the misdeeds of one of them." Comparing Prof. Maguire to Judas Iscariot strikes me as taking a rather definite position. Prof. Maguire is not invited to exit the scene in the manner of Judas Iscariot, but Fr. Wild offers the assurance that he teaches no required courses and, except for those "who elect to enroll in his advanced classes," students are shielded from his influence. The one-line summary of Fr. Wild’s letter is, "We’re stuck with this guy."

You make my heart sink ...

I don’t know if Marquette has tried the Boston College ploy used in the case of Mary Daly, the wild-eyed feminist who promotes a utopian world without men. Rather than fight her lawsuit over tenure, they gave her a bundle to stay far away from campus. It might be worth it to protect the credibility of a university that, in the words of Fr. Wild, "unreservedly and enthusiastically avows itself as Catholic."

Goes without saying.
Of course, Prof. Maguire might resist the idea that he can be bought off. After all these years of working for pro-abortion and population-control organizations while trading on the claim that he is a Catholic theologian at a Catholic university, he has had more than the usual number of occasions to wrestle with the ethics of personal and intellectual integrity.

Update: Background at Marquette Warrior.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Boris Pasternak

Recommended reading:
by Boris Pasternak at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Authors' Calendar, by Petri Liukkonen

The Plot Thickens, by Peter Finn, review of The Laundered Novel by Ivan Tolstoy, Washington Post, January 27, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1958

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gulling the Voters

The Winter-Summer 2006 issue of Critical Review reconsiders Philip E. Converse's 1964 paper "The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics". In his concluding response Converse says,
My main concern about the limited information that voters bring to the ballot box is that they are prey to unscrupulous interests who can play off their gullibility. (p. 232)

He cites as an example the ongoing effort to repeal the federal estate tax.
Now on the face of it, it would seem to be virtually impossible to abolish a tax bearing on only 2 percent of the wealthiest of a citizenry. (p. 324)

He appears to think it possible only from clever framing of the issue in terms of a "death tax" and "saving family farms", while those on the other side wring their hands, wailing that this wasn't in the Civics textbook.

To paraphrase Susan Sontag, a voter was better informed on this issue from listening to Rush Limbaugh than from reading Philip Converse. Some of the impetus for death tax repeal came from the retroactive increase in the estate tax in the 1993 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Arguments based on the claimed limited scope of the estate tax were less persuasive after the tax rate was increased on the estates of people who were already dead.

Monday, February 12, 2007

When a blogger goes to work for a candidate, she's bound to become boring.

This Althouse post on John Edwards hiring Amanda Marcotte to blog for his presidential campaign drew this comment.
There is no need to be boring, it's just that Marcotte without the offense leaves a hole to be filled. There ain't nothing else there, which is why she was a poor fit from day zero. She should have recognized that, known she would be emasculated, and stayed away.

So Andrea Marcotte might someday be remembered for being emasculated. Sort of like Andrea Dworkin being remembered for her "seminal works of radical feminism".

The State of the Catholic Church in America, Diocese by Diocese

Rev. Rodger Hunter-Hall and Steven Wagner in Crisis ranked the 176 U.S. dioceses using the data as of the end of 2005 and 1995 in the Official Catholic Directory. They selected three criteria: percentage change in the number of active priests; ordinations as a percentage of active priests; and adults received into the Church as a percentage of Catholics. They then used diocesan rankings in these three categories for a composite score, which they then used to rank all dioceses.

While the Church grew overall in that ten year period, the number of adherents declined in 68 dioceses. The total number of active priests declined in 141 dioceses. There were no ordinations in 2005 in 48 dioceses.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee's 2005 rank was 155th in change in priests, 95th in ordinations, and 150th in receptions. Its composite rank went from 167th in 1995 to 162nd in 2005.

The author's observe,
The Church has been slow to come to terms with changes in the societal environment of the United States in which it functions, most especially the emergence of a dominant culture that is thoroughly secular. Many—too many—in positions of authority have perceived their jobs as simply to manage the decline, having become dispirited over the adversity that this new cultural environment poses.

Others have become dispirited in the sense of coming to believe the principles underlying the secular environment superior to Church teaching.

I found of particular interest,
It may strike one as superficial, but diocesan-sponsored Web sites provide significant insight into the personality of the dioceses. Good signs: easy access to substantive information for persons considering becoming Catholic, returning to the Faith, or considering a vocation. Bad signs: prominently featuring on the home page references to clergy abuse or helpful guides to making an on-line donation.

Here's our Archdiocese's web site.

(via Ten Reasons)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Alfred Russel Wallace

Recommended reading:
Reading Rat

In Niger, Trees and Crops Turn Back the Desert

Lydia Polgreen reports in today's New York Times.
From colonial times, all trees in Niger had been regarded as the property of the state, which gave farmers little incentive to protect them. Trees were chopped for firewood or construction without regard to the environmental costs. Government foresters were supposed to make sure the trees were properly managed, but there were not enough of them to police a country nearly twice the size of Texas.

But over time, farmers began to regard the trees in their fields as their property, and in recent years the government has recognized the benefits of that outlook by allowing individuals to own trees. Farmers make money from the trees by selling branches, pods, fruit and bark. Because those sales are more lucrative over time than simply chopping down the tree for firewood, the farmers preserve them.

Church knew of abuse by priest

Marie Rohde reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Milwaukee Archdiocesan files on Father Siegfried Widera. The files were produced in the course of the recently settled cases in California, and were recently ordered ordered opened by a court there.
Just six years after his ordination, Widera was arrested in Port Washington for having sexual contact with an 11-year-old boy. He admitted to the crime and to similar conduct with several other boys but was charged with only one count of what was known as sexual perversion.

Widera went into therapy with Leo Graham, "a church-employed therapist". Graham apparently agreed that careful re-assignment could be considered. Widera went to St. Andrew's Church in Delavan.
The young priest was an immediate success. Several parishioners wrote to top church officials notes of praise for Widera, particularly noting his rapport with the children of the parish.

"The children in our school literally follow him around; he is so kind and shows so much interest in them," one letter-writer said.

There's interest and then there's interest.
On June 29, 1976, archdiocesan officials learned of new abuse accusations from an Elkhorn therapist who was treating a boy.

You can now see the process of rationalization and misrepresentation at work.
After a church official assured the therapist that Widera would receive inpatient treatment, the therapist persuaded the victim's mother not to go to the police.

After all, no point in getting the police involved if Father's getting the help he needs.
A July 7, 1976, entry in a vicar's log kept by the archdiocese says, however: "Leo (Graham) doubts value of inpatient treatment."

After all, no point in putting Father in a mental institution now that a therapist says it's not indicated.

But what about the agreement with the mother, that she would not report Widera to the police because our Archdiocese promised he would get inpatient treatment. I suppose it's like the architect's renderings in a church building fund drive; we commit to pay for it, but they reserve the right to decide to build something that looks different.
It also notes that "Graham feels that 'one slip' in 3 years is not too bad a track record."

That would add up to a priest molesting a dozen or so children over the course of his career. Even "three altar boys and you're out" would have been a stringent rule, by comparison. Even if the therapist, in fact, said this would be good progress by the patient, our Archdiocese acted as if that meant Widera had to be regarded as fit for continued service. Though not here; they said California was the place he ought to be.
Graham was upset that Widera was about to be moved without his input.

Indicating that if he made the "one slip" remark, it did not mean what our Archdiocese took it to mean.
In a letter to Bishop William Johnson, head of the Diocese of Orange (County in California), [Milwaukee Archbishop William] Cousins introduced Widera, asking that he be given a temporary assignment. Widera "has done good work," Cousins wrote. While Cousins acknowledged that there had been a "moral problem" involving a boy earlier and a "repetition" more recently, he wrote, "From all of the professional information I can gather there would seem to be no great risk in allowing this man to return to pastoral work, but there are legal complications at present."

The understatement in this letter was sufficient, I understand, that the California courts found it arguably intentionally misleading, and that this was the basis for our Archdiocese's potential liability in the California civil cases arising out of Widera's subsequent child molestations there. The settlement of those cases will be paid, in part, from sale of the Cousins Center, the former seminary complex and now Archdiocesan offices, built by and later named for Archbishop Cousins.

Update: SNAP has posted this Motion [27 pp. pdf] and Affidavit [333 pp. pdf] from California cases including those arising from claims of sexual abuse by Fr. Widera. I understand the exhibits to the affidavit are at least some of the documents the court recently ordered disclosed.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Striving to take care of mind, body, soul

Sarah Carr interviews Karen Ristau, president of the National Catholic Educational Association, in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Q.What do you think Catholic schools need to do to survive well into the future?

A. I think there are a number of things we are trying to do better, like tell our success stories more clearly to everyone. It's really important to realize that 99% of our secondary students stay in school and graduate. We don't have a dropout problem. We also need our own Catholic families to support the schools whether they have children in them or not.

A 1% dropout rate isn't a problem?

George Orwell

Obama’s language is not clear. It is loopy and lofty and often lubricious, and is precisely the type that Orwell’s famous edict “Good prose is like a window pane” sought to banish. Fortunately, two new collections of Orwell’s essays, Facing Unpleasant Facts and All Art is Propaganda, edited by George Packer, were released late last year, just in time for Election Day; and on page 270 of the latter volume begins the piece “Politics and the English Language,” as effective an inoculation as exists against Obamaspeak’s hardier strains. --Liam Julian, Orwell’s Instructive Errors, Policy Review, June & July 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

I now find it impossible to imagine that what Orwell put poor Winston Smith through in Room 101 and the unrecorded dungeons of Oceania was not in some way extrapolated from his own physical ruin. --Michael Weiss, Suffering Orwell, Arma Virumque, May 13, 2009 12:09 PM

Orwell shared with Dickens a hatred of tyranny, and in his essay on the Victorian novelist distinguished two types of revolutionary. There are on the one hand the change-of-heart people, who believe that if you change human nature, all the problems of society will fall away; and, on the other, the social engineers, who believe that once you fix society—make it fairer, more democratic, less divided—then the problems of human nature will fall away. --Julian Barnes, Such, Such Was Eric Blair, The New York Review of Books, March 12, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Although Waugh despaired about the future, he saw the Catholic Church as an enduring bulwark against chaos. His moral order was backed by divine authority. Orwell too was a passionate believer in objective truth, including moral truth. But unlike Waugh, Orwell did not attribute transcendent power to the truth; indeed, he feared that it might ultimately prove impotent in history. --Jim Holt, Two of a Kind, The New York Times, August 29, 2008, review of The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War, by David Lebedoff

Orwell had fought in the Spanish civil war; his disillusion with that cause is chronicled in “Homage to Catalonia”. Waugh was part of an ill-fated military mission to the cynical, wily Communist partisans in Yugoslavia. His disillusion is told in his masterpiece, the “Sword of Honour” trilogy... . --The Economist, Fighting against the future, August 21, 2008, review of The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War, by David Lebedoff

Animal Farm and Brideshead Revisited, published in the same year of 1945, might seem worlds apart, and yet both are biting parables of disenchantment. --Eric Ormsby, Against the Day, The New York Sun, July 30, 2008, review of The Same Man: George Orwell & Evelyn Waugh in Love and War, by David Lebedoff

Eternal vigilance, by Keith Gessen, New Statesman, May 28, 2009, on essays by George Orwell (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Orwell's masterpiece-far superior to Animal Farm and 1984. No education in the meaning of the 20th century is complete without it. --Arthur Herman, The 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century, National Review, May 3, 1999

Orwell's "Catalonia" revisited by Anthony Daniels, The New Criterion, February 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Orwell for Christians, by Paul J. Griffiths, First Things, December 2004

Why George Orwell Was Pro-Life, by Mark Stricherz, Crisis, January 2004

Orwell on writing, by Jeffrey Meyers, The New Criterion, October 2003

Orwell's List, by Timothy Garton Ash, The New York Review of Books, September 25, 2003

Reach-Me-Down Romantic, review by Terry Eagleton of George Orwell by Gordon Bowker, Orwell: The Life by D.J. Taylor, and Orwell: Life and Times by Scott Lucas, London Review of Books, June 19, 2003

Bullied George Orwell 'killed' Eton boy using black magic, by Catherine Milner, The Telegraph, May 18, 2003

Honest, Decent, Wrong: The invention of George Orwell, by Louis Menand, New Yorker, January 27, 2003

The Independent of London, by George Packer, New York Times, September 29, 2002

George Orwell: changing the climate, review by David Pryce-Jones, of Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation, by Jeffrey Meyers, The New Criterion, November 2000

George Orwell and the Cold War: A Reconsideration, by Murray N. Rothbard, from Reflections on America, 1984: An Orwell Symposium, edited by Robert Mulvihill, 1986

Our Future, review by Murray N. Rothbard of 1984, Analysis, September 1949

UW board approves policy

Megan Twohey reports in an a seven column-inch article on the bottom of page 4B of today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That's the page with the death notices; page 5B is the Saturday Religion News ghetto.

Aside from UW-Madison, many campuses have used a rigid academic formula based on class rank and ACT scores to decide which students to admit.

Under the new "holistic" policy,
...non-academic factors would be considered, too, including "student experiences, leadership qualities, motivation, special talents, status as a non-traditional or returning adult, veteran, and whether the applicant is socioeconomically disadvantaged or in a historically underrepresented racial or ethnic group."

Update: If you look at Wisconsin Statutes sections 36.11(3)(a) and 36.12(1), you might wonder how this can be legal. Ryan J. Foley of the Associated Press reports in The Janesville Gazette UW: Admissions plan legal despite state laws barring use of race, including this from David Walsh, a Madison lawyer and president of the UW System Board of Regents.
"We think that clearly those two statutes do not preclude us from moving forward," Walsh said. But, he added, "We may be wrong in the long run."

(via Dad29)

Benjamin Franklin

Frank & Ernest
--Thaves, Frank & Ernest, July 4, 2009 (via JSOnline)

... remember that the reform work he did for the cities he lived in was as important as any in the century. ... Much of his work was cultural: in Philadelphia, he started an intellectual society, the Junto; set up the first lending library; and—famously until this day—was the driving force for the foundation of the University of Pennsylvania and the American Philosophical Society. --Jerry Weinberger, Benjamin Franklin: City Slicker, City Journal, Summer 2008 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

...he was well-grounded in basic democratic principles (though he remained ambivalent about natural rights), had a keen sense of the needs of the ordinary people among whom he lived, and possessed a skill and cleverness of expression that make him one of the supreme political communicators of all time. --Ralph Ketcham, A Bright and Active Boy, Claremont Review of Books, Summer 2008, review of The Political Philosophy of Benjamin Franklin, by Lorraine Smith Pangle

The Scientific Mind of Ben Franklin by Jerry Weinberger, The New Atlantis, Winter 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Sage of Philadelphia, by Steven Forde, review of Benjamin Franklin, by Edmund S. Morgan, and Franklin: The Essential Founding Father, by James Srodes, Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2002

Big Ben, by Marc Arkin, New Criterion, October 2002

Franklin in Pennsylvania, a review by Richard Brookhiser of Benjamin Franklin, Politician: The Mask & the Man by Francis Jennings, The New Criterion, February 1997

R.I.P. Father David Meinholz (1965-2007)

My parish asks that we spread this news about our pastor.
We write you today with the very sad news that Father David Meinholz has passed away. He was found in his apartment by his father Friday morning. The wake will be Tuesday evening from 4 to 8 PM and continue at 8:30 to 10 on Wednesday morning with the funeral Mass at 10 AM at our parish. Archbishop Dolan will celebrate our Saturday evening Mass this weekend.

Catholic Charities will have counselors available for our families after Sunday masses. You are welcome to attend these sessions . If you have any questions, please contact me.

Please keep Father Dave, his family and all those he served, both here at St. Alphonsus and throughout the archdiocese, in your prayers.

He had been ordained a priest in 1994.

Update: Here's the death notice from the Sunday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Update 2: Larry Sandler reports in Monday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a story headlined Meinholz had a generous heart.

Update 3: WITI Fox6 News covered the story Greendale Parish Mourns Loss of Priest.

"What Would Bishop Henni Say?"

At MU Connections, the text of address delivered by Robert A. Wild, S.J., president of Marquette University, on January 30, 2007.
For my part, I have been particularly thinking about the person who started it all, the person who relentlessly pursued his dream of a Catholic college here in Milwaukee, indeed a college to be named for Jesuit explorer Jacques Marquette: Milwaukee’s first Bishop and later Archbishop, John Martin Henni. Let’s imagine him coming back here in 2007 and seeing the Marquette University of today. What would he say?

Let's then imagine him hearing this address. What would Bishop Henni say about "What Would Bishop Henni Say"? Perhaps that Father Wild tells us of Marquette as a college but not of how it is a Catholic college.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

... Rousseau was, of course ... far from an Enlightenment figure. He was a Romantic, and a full-blooded one. For him it was not knowledge, empirical reason, or the common-sense beliefs prompted by the structure of human psychology that should guide one both in philosophy and life -- this was Hume's view -- but instead one's feelings, sentiments, passions, impulses. --A. C. Grayling, Sense and Sensibility, Barnes & Noble Review, February 23, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Against Rousseau: On the State of Nature and On the Sovereignty of the People by Joseph de Maistre, translated by Richard A. Lebrun (1996)

Friday, February 9, 2007

A 'glorious' renovation

Tom Heinen and Beth Kormanik reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, anticipating the dedication of the renovated St. John the Evangelist Cathedral five years ago today.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Milan Kundera

The story of Miroslav Dvoracek, a Czech spy for the West, would fit well into a Kundera novel. Caught by the secret police in 1950 while on an undercover mission to Prague, he was tortured and then served 14 years in a labour camp. ... Now a police record found by Adam Hradilek, a historian at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, in Prague, suggests that it was one of those friends, the young Mr Kundera, who was the informer. --The Economist, The unbearable weight of history, October 16, 2008

Recommended reading:
by Milan Kundera at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Kundera's musings on the novel by Carlin Romano, review of The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts by Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Review by Noel Murray, The Curtain: An Essay In Seven Parts by Milan Kundera, A.V. Club, February 8, 2007

Milan Kundera on the civilizing values of the novel by Michael Dirda, review of The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts by Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher, The Washington Post, February 4, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Light but sound, review by John Banville of The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, translated by Michael Henry Heim, Guardian, May 1, 2004

The ambiguities of Milan Kundera by Roger Kimball, The New Criterion, January 1986

Ambitious capital campaign will fund campus renovations

Elizabeth Hockerman reports in Small Business Times on $17 million dollar building plans at Marquette High, the local Jesuit prep school.
Phase I will include a new chapel built in what is currently a parking lot on the southeast side of the property, the tear down of a former Jesuit residence to build a new south addition with classrooms on the southwest side of the property and improvements to the athletic facilities.

The school had a large chapel that it converted to other uses decades ago. It later built a much smaller chapel in the usual sideways form, i.e., a rectangular space but with the altar on one of the long sides rather than at one end. The new chapel, I suspect, will be similar in size to the old chapel that was eliminated, but arranged like the newer chapel.
Phase II will be approximately $5 million that will renovate the third-floor gymnasium in the main building into classrooms, remodel the guidance and reception areas and upgrade the science labs and science rooms, which are still in their original state from 1925.

Which leaves me wondering why the old gym couldn't have been converted, rather than the old chapel.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Spooky Old Alice

Gobel warning.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Frijole Days of Obligation 2007

We volunteered for a fall parish mission trip to Peru, but were called (asked by email, actually) to instead return to Guatemala in the spring.

In Peru, we would have been teaching English as a Second Language. I have experience with English (and teaching if Sunday School counts). In Guatemala, it looks like I'll be helping build something, maybe a new "chicken house". My construction experience is all at the orphanage. This project would again involve hauling the ingredients for concrete up to a hillside construction site, but "only" about halfway up the hill.

This year, I'll also have to make a point of setting the camera date stamp right.

The Talmud

Recommended reading:
The Talmud at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Call for Jews to stop calling Jesus a bastard by Ben Martin, Telegraph. Last Updated: 12:14am BST 06/10/2007

What the Talmud Really Says About Jesus by David Klinghoffer, Publishers Weekly, January 31, 2007, on Jesus in the Talmud by Peter Schaefer (via Open Book)

Discovering the Talmud, by Eric M. Chevlen, First Things, August/September 1998

Baltimore Consort charms

Tom Strini in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews last night's performance at the Episcopal All Saints Cathedral. That must have been him in the pew ahead of ours taking notes on his program. As he notes, early music in concert is entertainment.
They were often witty - the odd little scoops in the wind instruments, for example, made the audience laugh out loud. Some might question the historical authenticity of such tricks, but they were amusing, and there is every reason to assume that musicians goofed around to get a laugh 400 years ago, just as pop musicians do now.

Although the countertenor voice has been associated with the early music movement since the beginning of the last century, it's not particularly authentic in this music. But never mind; the justification here lies in Lemos' clarity, accuracy and interpretive subtly. He approached these songs not so much as a scholar-performer, but as a good singer.

We heard some of the numbers featuring countertenor Jose Lemos when the Consort played in Madison last summer. He'll be featured on their next CD.

We wonder what their former vocalist Custer LaRue has been doing since her last stand with them.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Edith Wharton

Unraveling the wonders of Wharton by Vikram Johri, review of Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Posted: April 27, 2007

The Changeling by John Updike, review of Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee, The New Yorker, April 16, 2007

Self-Made Man by Ruth Bernard Yeazell, review of Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee, London Review of Books, April 5, 2007

The Disillusionment Of Edith Wharton by Louis Auchincloss, review of Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee, The New York Sun, March 28, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Grand dame, review of Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee, The Economist, January 25, 2007

Injured mission worker returning from Guatemala

Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Beth Kloser, who survived the January 18, 2007 traffic accident that killed Hanley Denning, is coming home to Fort Wayne, Indiana. So what's the local connection?
Kloser was nearing the end of a two-year assignment with Hanley's Safe Passage project through the Volunteer Missionary Movement, which has its U.S. headquarters in Greendale.

In St. Al's former rectory. It would still be a rectory, but for our former pastor. If it was still a rectory, VMM would presumably have remained in the former convent, now remodeled into parish offices and meeting rooms.

St. Blase

for decades many United States Catholics have sought the annual St. Blase blessing for their throats

Surely that blessing saved me from strangulation when all those First Communion gift scapulars tangled.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Occasion of Sin

Under consideration as a visual aid for my tenth grade Christian Formation students.

(via Built on a Rock)

Update: And We're all going to Hell.

(via Dad29)

Who are those clowns?

Per our Catholic Herald:

"Stripes" the clown is Pallottine Fr. Greg Serwa.

"Snaps" the clown is Susanne Malestic.

Update: And there's the clown ministry at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Racine.

Update 2: The presiding clown at the February 1984 Clown Mass at St. Agnes Church was Fr. Edward Hussli.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Knights of Malt

(I have a nominee in mind.)

Mr. McAuliffe, you're no T. S. O'Rama.

Update: It's reported at Open Book that Mr. McAuliffe's application to join the Knights of Malta has been withdrawn. No indication of any problems with T. S. O'Rama's application with the Knights of Malt.

First Things and 404s

I've tried to link to every First Things article relevant to items in my reading list. Recently First Things revised its website, giving new URLs to all its posted items, and thus breaking all my links to its site.

On the problematic stream of new Bible translations, Father Neuhaus has written "if I had the authority, everybody would use the Revised Standard Version." The FT web site change is like an RSV where the text stayed the same, but all the chapters and verses were renumbered.

Update: First Things tells me they're aware of the problem and working to fix it. Unfortunately, it's a manual fix, not a software fix.