Saturday, June 30, 2007

Reading Rat June 2007

Also of interest:

Wisconsin Blue Books, University of Wisconsin Digital Collections

Common Errors in English by Paul Brians

Dante Alighieri

DanteWorlds, an integrated multimedia journey--combining artistic images, textual commentary, and audio recordings--through the three realms of the afterlife (Inferno, Purgatory, Paradise) presented in Dante's Divine Comedy. --Guy P. Raffa, et al. (via Gregory McNamee at Britannica)

Too many people recall the Divine Comedy, if they recall it at all, as that weird, dark, violent medieval poem that they had to wade through in college, written by that dour Italian guy who put all his enemies in hell. This image is hardly helped by the fact that while many people are assigned to read at least parts of Inferno, few read Purgatorio and fewer still read Paradiso. And yet this really is too bad, because it is only through reading all the way through Dante's great work that his purpose comes fully into view. --Darwin, Lenten Meditations on the Divine Comedy, Darwin Catholic (via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor)

What Dante Means to Us: The Treasonous Clerk column by James Matthew Wilson, First Principles, June 17, 2009

The Poetry of Paradise by David Yezzi, review of Paradiso by Dante Alighieri, translated by Robert and Jean Hollander, First Things, January 2008

Cloud Nine by Joan Acocella, review of Paradiso by Dante, translated by Robert and Jean Hollander, The New Yorker, September 3, 2007

At last, a readable rendering of Dante: Nicholas Lezard salutes Ciaran Carson's new translation of The Inferno, Guardian, November 13, 2004

The Christian Socrates, by Harvey C. Mansfield, review of Dissent and Philosophy in the Middle Ages: Dante and His Precursors, by Ernest L. Fortin, Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2003

Jamming up the Flax Machine, review by Matthew Reynolds of The Inferno of Dante Alighieri: A New Translation by Ciaran Carson, London Review of Books, May 8, 2003

Through Hell and Back, Again; Seeing Things column, by Robert Royal, Crisis, March 2003

A 21st-Century Man: Why is Dante hot all of a sudden? by Adam Kirsch, Slate, March 26, 2003

Purgatory, In All its Nuance: Our obsession with Dante is ongoing. The latest addition is Anthony Esolen’s reader-friendly translation of Purgatory for the Modern Library. How does it measure up? by Minna Proctor, Newsweek Web, 2003

Dante: A Party of One, by Robert Hollander, First Things, April 1999

The Current Debate Concerning the Authenticity of the Epistle to Cangrande by Robert Hollander, The Barlow Lectures, University College London, 17-18 March 1993


Dante's Inferno Test

Mother, Superior, and other news

Religion briefs
From the June 30, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
(July 5th the Pastors for Peace friendship caravan to Cuba will be inciting civil disobedience at Prince of Peace Church.)

Lambeau gets holy: Packers venue to ring with prayers in July rally, by Tom Heinen. From the June 30, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
(July 7th Leap of Faith Lambeau)

iBelief: The faithful are flocking to the altar of the iPhone. Has the Apple phenomenon become a religion? by Tom Heinen. From the June 30, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
(Definitely not to be confused with iPray.)

'This is my mom; she’s a nun’
by Maryangela Layman Roman, Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, June 28, 2007, featured story at Archdiocese of Milwaukee web site
(Could have been 'This is my ex-wife; she's a nun' but he wasn't interviewed.)

Congratulations to the 2007 Jubilarians (Sisters)
Catholic Herald, Milwaukee
(No moms indicated.)

Archbishop unveils $105 million commitment to Catholic education
Parishes major beneficiaries of archdiocesan capital campaign, by Maryangela Layman Roman, Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, June 28, 2007
("We need a project, a cause, to bring us together as an archdiocese on behalf of our parishes for the noble enterprise of Catholic education and faith formation.")

Six archdiocesan offices moving to Layton Boulevard
Two written offers made for Cousins Center, by Cheri Perkins Mantz, Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, June 28, 2007

Fr. Hying to lead group to Sydney next summer
Priest hopes 1,000 join him for World Youth Day, by Brian T. Olszewski, Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, June 28, 2007
(Fr. Hying starts as Rector of Saint Francis Seminary July 1, 2007.)

Confirmation: Releasing God’s spirit anew
Herald of Hope column by Bishop Richard J. Sklba, Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, June 14, 2007
("Researchers like Fr. Andrew Greeley have repeatedly noted that the opportunity for solid and enjoyable faith experiences for middle to late adolescents remains one of the best predictors of life-long church participation." Then what do the trends in life-long church participation tell us?)

34 priests celebrating ordination jubilees
Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, June 14, 2007

Sustaining a Prayer Life
June 24, 2007 column by Ron Rolheiser, OMI, published in Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, June 28, 2007
("...sometimes too, I think, we are working too hard at it and are not letting the rituals themselves work hard enough.")

Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist [audio]
homily by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, June 24, 2007, at Relevant Radio

Pallium speaker emphasizes link between faith and reason: Robert George draws on writings of JPII to convey message, by Sam Lucero, Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, June 14, 2007
(Faith and Reason: Why We Do Good [audio] by Robert George, June 11, 2007 Pallium Lecture, at Relevant Radio)

Vocations Homily [6 pp. pdf]
by Fr. Nathan Reesman, St. Mary’s Visitation Parish, Elm Grove, Second and Third Sundays of Easter, April 15 and 22, 2007, posted at Saint Francis Seminary
("I would submit that we do not have a vocation shortage at all.")

Vocation Spirit News, Summer 2007 [4 pp. pdf]
Vocations Office of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and Saint Francis Seminary

Capitol Update June 29, 2007
The Wisconsin Catholic Conference
1. Senate Passes Democratic Budget (2-7)
2. Children and Families
3. Workforce Development
4. Education
5. Corrections
6. Health Insurance
7. Other
8. New Bills of Interest (Abortion; School activities; Private schools)

Pope Benedict XVI accepts resignation of Bishop Raphael M. Fliss; names new bishop for Diocese of Superior
Catholic Herald, Superior, "Breaking News".
(Open Book reports the new bishop will be Father Peter Christensen from the Archdiocese of St. Paul.)

Christian feasts tied to summer, winter solstices
Scripture Page column by Fr. Robert Koszarek, June 24, 2007, Catholic Herald, Superior.
("Who today cares about original sin...?" A good question for Bishop Christensen!)

July 2007 Newsletter
The Casa Maria Catholic Worker house, Milwaukee
(Where's the Catholics for Peace and Justice June newsletter?)


Friday, June 29, 2007

Joyce Carol Oates

Reflecting on Joyce Carol Oates: Fellow alumna and friend, by Joanne Vanish Creighton, On Wisconsin, Summer 2009, with An excerpt from Joyce Carol Oates’s Nighthawk: A Memoir of Lost Time

Oates' characters are masterfully rendered but she is particularly gifted at creating a certain type: The appallingly egocentric, sometimes to the point of (usually) unwitting hostility. --Dan Scheraga, Joyce Carol Oates proves her mastery again in story collection, The Associated Press, review of Dear Husband, by Joyce Carol Oates (via JSOnline)

On this author:

Featured Author: Joyce Carol Oates, With Reviews and Articles From the Archives of The New York Times

Joyce Carol Oates, New York State Writers Institute

Interview, Lit Chat, Salon

On other works by this author:

The Wand of the Enchanter by Michael Dirda, review of The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973–1982 edited by Greg Johnson, The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates, The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates, and Joyce Carol Oates: Conversations, 1970–2006 edited by Greg Johnson, New York Review of Books, December 20, 2007

Force of Nature, review by Terrence Rafferty of The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times, September 19, 2004

Other works online:

The Art of Vengeance by Joyce Carol Oates, review of Collected Stories by Roald Dahl, The New York Review of Books, April 26, 2007

Brilliance, Silence, Courage by Joyce Carol Oates, review of Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints: Essays by Joan Acocella, The New York Review of Books, March 15, 2007

See Pathography

Say "No" to "Private Practice, Say "No" to "Tribalism", Say "Yes" to "Intimate Sacramental Brotherhoods" for Service

Say, that's a long title.

Rev. J. Ronald Knott gave this Keynote Address [11 pp. pdf] on April 24, 2007 to the National Federation of Priests’ Councils annual Convention. It's posted at MAPA [Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance].

Fr. Knott claims to advocate revival of the Presbyterium, that is, "a college of priests who surrounded the bishop to help him carry out his ministry." Is so, he chose an odd venue, given that, if MAPA is typical, priests' councils make a point of emphasizing their independence from their bishop, even acting at cross-purposes to him.

In Knott's terms, MAPA is an example of "tribalism"; I might have called it an unstable isotope of Presbyterium.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Albert Camus

Camus’s emphasis is on each individual’s recognition of his fate. Awareness and the choice to revolt are matters of personal consciousness and will; they are not particularly communal concerns. In fact, in Camus’s writings such as his novel The Stranger (1942), individual revolt is often set against the community and its norms. It is predicated upon one’s sense of exile from the world, an awareness of unmitigated existential solitude. Although Camus rejected suicide in The Myth of Sisyphus, in his emphasis on personal autonomy he can be seen, ironically, as one of the intellectual fathers of the ethos of individualism that informs the current atmosphere regarding the “right” to suicide. --John F. Desmond, Walker Percy and Suicide, Modern Age, Winter 2005

Recommended reading:
by Albert Camus at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Authors' Calendar, by Petri Liukkonen (2008)

Review by David Luhrssen of Exile and the Kingdom by Albert Camus, Shepherd-Express, April 26, 2007

Accidental Friends, review by Russell Jacoby of Camus and Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel That Ended It, by Ronald Aronson, and Sartre and Camus: A Historic Confrontation, edited and translated by David A. Sprintzen and Adrian van den Hoven, The Nation, March 18, 2004

Excerpt from pages 9-17 of Camus and Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended It by Ronald Aronson, University of Chicago Press (2004)

Master and Pupil, Seeing Things column by Robert Royal, Crisis, July/August 2003

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1957

Comprehensive Tenterhooks!

Emailer B.T. to KausFiles wrote in the context of today's U.S. Senate cloture vote on the pending immigration bill, but it has broader potential application.
Besides calling the senate office, folks should call the state chair and county chair of the senator's party. ... It would let the senator know that folks know how to do more than get riled up over an issue. Someone who tracks down his county chairman is a lot more likely to be a primary voter ...

No to the Motu!

Father Tim at the Spirit of Vatican 2 Catholic Faith Community SHOUTS against the threatened spread of Latin in the Latin Rite.

Update: Not long before there was An Announcement at Against the Huns
that no more contributions to the Motu Propio betting pool will be accepted.

Update 2: More from FR. TIM,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thomas Jefferson

As a rule, however, Jefferson did not discuss the president's constitutional authority and conspicuously avoided connecting his assertions of power—such as challenging the Barbary pirates, purchasing the Louisiana Territory, and spending unappropriated funds to prepare for war—to provisions in the Constitution. --Joseph M. Bessette, Hail to the Chief, Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2009, review of Thomas Jefferson and Executive Power, by Jeremy D. Bailey

After the British in 1814 torched the Library of Congress, the U.S. government acquired from Jefferson his personal collection of 6,487 volumes, twice as many as had been lost in the blaze and, at the time, the largest assemblage of books in the western hemisphere. --Kevin J. Hayes, Light and Liberty, Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2009, review of The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson, by Kevin J. Hayes

For the other slaves at Monticello, Jefferson’s death in 1826 was a catastrophe. To settle his enormous debts, his estate, including well over 100 slaves, was auctioned, destroying the families he had long tried to keep intact. --Eric Foner The Master and the Mistress, The New York Times, October 3, 2008, review of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed

In any society that we can call sane or decent, Martin Hemings would have been Thomas Jefferson's brother-in-law; in 18th-century Virginia, he was his property. When the relationship between the men went bad and erupted in a quarrel, as seems to have happened sometime in 1792, Jefferson did not have to make up with his relative or pretend to like him or even figure out a way to avoid him. Instead, he sold him. --Adam Kirsch, A Peculiar Association: Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, The New York Sun, September 24, 2008, review of The Hemingses of Monticello, by Annette Gordon-Reed

For decades, on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, the gavelling off of Thomas Jefferson’s children was a story that was either too awful to be true or too useful to be proved false. --Jill Lepore, President Tom’s Cabin: Jefferson, Hemings, and a disclaimed lineage, The New Yorker, September 22, 2008, review of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Jill Lepore (via Arts & Letters Daily)

An imaginary attack ad for the Federalist party in 1800 smearing Thomas Jefferson. From the PBS documentary "Vote for Me: Politics in America", 1800 Anti-Thomas Jefferson Negative TV Ad, October 16, 2007, YouTube

Monticello’s Shadows by Myron Magnet, What Jefferson’s fabled home reveals about the Founding Father’s mind and heart, City Journal, Autumn 2007

The Jefferson Bottles: How could one collector find so much rare fine wine? by Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, September 3, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates by Christopher Hitchens, City Journal, Spring 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Three-Fifths Historian, review by Ken Alexander of 'Negro President': Jefferson and the Slave Power, by Garry Wills, Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2004

Publick Religion: Adams v. Jefferson, by John Witte, Jr., First Things, March 2004

Conquistador of Reason, review by Wilfred M. McClay of Jefferson’s Demons: Portrait of a Restless Mind, by Michael Knox Beran, First Things, March 2004

The Dualities of Thomas Jefferson, reviews by George McKenna, First Things, June/July 2000

Jefferson on race & revolution, by Hadley Arkes, on The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson & the French Revolution, 1785–1800 by Conor Cruise O’Brien, The New Criterion, January 1997

Friends & founders, by Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr., a review of The Republic of Letters: The Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson & James Madison edited by John Morton Smith, The New Criterion, May 1995

A Place at the Altar

Jan Jarboe Russell reports in Sunday's New York Times Magazine on Jane Via of San Diego, California.
Via is 59, and

According to Russell,
if it were not for the accident of her sex and the fact that she is married with two sons, she would be an ideal candidate for the [Catholic] priesthood.

Via agrees, claims to have been ordained June 24, 2006, and to preside at Mass at Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community. She gave her first purported homily July 30, 2006. In the text at MMACC, she is described as Dr. Jane Via. It begins,
I remember being a grad student at Marquette studying Scripture and discovering the Elijah and Elisha stories for the first time.

I remember being a freshman at Marquette and being told in two semesters of introductory Theology that someone on the faculty had "proved the Holy Spirit does not exist", but I digress.
...But we can feed the spiritually starving of our time and there is bread with which to feed them. We can feed them, not with loaves and fish, but with hope and prophetic disobedience.

Dr. Via "had left academia for the law" and is a deputy district attorney in San Diego.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thomas Mann

Mann and his musical demons, by Wolfgang Schneider, Sign and Sight, July 18, 2007

Impossible Wishes, review by Michael Wood of 'The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann', edited by Ritchie Robertson, and 'Thomas Mann: A Biography' by Hermann Kurzke, translated by Leslie Willson, London Review of Books, February 6, 2003

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1929

A Politics of Conscience

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) on the presidential campaign trail, in Hartford, Connecticut last Saturday
...during the course of that sermon, he introduced me to someone named Jesus Christ. I learned that my sins could be redeemed. I learned that those things I was too weak to accomplish myself, He would accomplish with me if I placed my trust in Him.

(via Daniel Pulliam Get Religion)

St. Monica Parish Council Minutes March 7, 2007

Thought a look at doings at Fr. Alan's former parish might be informative. Look quick, it appears only the latest approved minutes are posted online. Still, that's better than nothing.

Items of interest included
IV. A. Mike Bruch told the council the budget increase for Cantors were only to make everyone aware of the serious volunteer problem. ...

An interesting alternative to saying what you mean.
IV. B. The collections are up significantly and the gap is closing. ...

Gap? Looks like Fr. Alan is more accustomed to budget problems than he's let on.
IV. C. Focus Group Update - The sessions were not well attended.

But there'll be more meetings.
The older group and high school students are scheduled to meet on March 12th. The Town Hall Meeting will be March 20th. Sandy Harris asked council members to make phone calls to invite parishioners to attend the meeting.

It's some personal contact, at least; sometimes that comes too late.
IV. F. Committee Reports

- Gerri Kallas said the Communication Committee had met. ...

This is only one set of minutes, but still, no communication from the Communications Committee?
- Christy reported for Christian Formation. A discussion was held on how to bring families together between the Day School and Sunday School and to create more community spirit.

Get 100% of the kids in the Day School and this problem's solved.
- Sandy Sandvoss said the Human Concerns meeting had to be canceled. ...

The poor we will always have with us.
- Prayer and Worship Committee had a meeting and discussed cantors. More volunteers are needed for the Children's Liturgy. The committee would like to have more of the parents of the young children volunteer. Volunteers are needed for most areas.

Did the Town Hall meeting in March immediately reduce the problems of not enough money and not enough volunteers? If so, then I can see why Fr. Alan is so upbeat about them. If I catch some subsequent minutes, maybe we can see what difference it made. The next upcoming meeting was then April 4, 2007.

Monday, June 25, 2007

J. R. R. Tolkien

Recommended reading:
by J. R. R. Tolkien at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

The Return of the King by Elizabeth Hand, review of The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Baptizing Middle-Earth, review by Anna Mathie of The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-Earth, by Ralph C. Wood, First Things, January 2004

J.R.R. Tolkien and the Reclamation of the Pre-modern West and the Vision Presented in Peter Jackson's Film Trilogy, by Bradley J. Birzer, ISI Forum, January 2004

The Passion According to Tolkien, by Sean McGrath, Godspy December 10, 2003

Tolkien and the Gift of Mortality, by Anna Mathie, First Things, November 2003

Beyond the Catholic Sandbox, by Sandra Miesel, review of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth, by Bradley J. Birzer, July/August 2003

The Universe According to Tolkien, by Sandra Miesel, Crisis, February 2003

Tolkien's Libertarian Vision, by Jeff Elkins, Lew Rockwell, December 24, 2002

Why The Lord of the Rings Is Dangerous: The authors of Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues and J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth talk about the Christian life in Faerie; A conversation between Brad Birzer and Mark Eddy Smith, Christianity Today, December 16, 2002

Reasons for Liking Tolkien, by Jenny Turner, London Review of Books, November 15, 2001

Tolkien’s Catholic Imagination, by Jason Boffetti, Crisis, November 2001

Goblin Market, review by Louis Menand, New York Review of Books, January 17, 2002

The Hobbit Habit, review by Robert M. Adams, New York Review of Books, November 24, 1977

Does Frodo Live? reviews by Janet Adam Smith, New York Review of Books, December 14, 1972

Kicking the Hobbit, reviews by Matthew Hodgart, New York Review of Books, May 4, 1967


Fellowship 9/11, iFilm

The Old Man in the Hat Comes Back, by William H. Duquette, February 10, 2004

Timothy McSweeney's Unreserved Embrace: Unused audio commentary by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, recorded Summer, 2002, for The Fellowship of the Ring (Platinum Series Extended Edition) DVD; by Jeff Alexander and Tom Bissell, April 22, 2003

Blog of the Rings, by Alan K. Henderson, January 1, 2001

If Lord of the Rings Had Been Written by Someone Else, Straight Dope Message Board

Tolkien Sarcasm Page, by O. Sharp

Katherine Mansfield

Recommended reading:
by Katherine Mansfield at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Authors' Calendar, by Petri Liukkonen (2008)

So many afterlives from one short life by Ali Smith, The Telegraph, April 7, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

We Will Welcome Our New Pastor

Last week's St. Al's bulletin [3 pp. pdf] announced (p. 2)
Please join us for a reception in the Community Room after each Sunday Mass. Let's give Fr. Alan [Jurkus] a warm welcome to St. Al’s!

He becomes our pastor in September, after his sabbatical, but he made a point of presiding at Sunday's Masses.

Mass at St. Al's never literally begins with the words "In the name of the Father" etc.. Fr. Alan began with the Cardinal Bernadin "I am Joseph, your brother" anecdote, followed by applause, then he joked he was glad the Gospel reading was on the birth of John the Baptist rather than the beheading, then came the Sign of the Cross.

His homily was full of praise for St. Al's, though without much in specifics. But he did specifically address what he described as our only problem: the debt from the building expansion. Six hundred parish households have pledged about $1.5 million over the next three years. That's less than a fourth of parish households and doesn't pay much more than the monthly payment over that time. Then in 2010 there's about a $2 million balloon payment which will require another debt reduction campaign. He said that when he found this out he said it was crazy.

I agree, but no one was sent to an asylum as a result. In fact, this craziness has been marketed as just the opposite in the debt reduction campaigns.

He did say he disliked having his first contact with us including talk about money. Seems like they all say that, but it never stops them. He promised he wouldn't bring up money as long as we were contributing enough. Seems like they all say that, too.

He also said there was no room for "benchwarmers". The percentage of parishioners at Sunday Mass is about as low as the percentage pledging to the debt reduction campaign, but he said nothing about that. The unspoken message is that they don't care if we show up, but if we do show up we'll be berated for not doing more. If that's the strategy to drive down Mass attendance and other participation, it's been a continuing success.

He concluded with an analogy of a pastorate to a marriage, though he alluded to pastor's renewable six year terms. This got another round of applause, presumably for the marriage analogy, not for the limited terms.

The bulletin from two weeks ago wasn't posted online, but it had an
Excerpt taken from Father Alan's letter to the parish of May 13

The letter must have been a bulletin insert. We were away that weekend and I don't recall receiving it in the mail.
Sometime in late September, I would like to invite each of you to a series of "Town Hall" gatherings. I envision three such meetings. The first, regarding Prayer and Worship, the second, Christian Formation and the Day School, and the third, Finance, Stewardship, and Buildings and Grounds. The purpose of these meetings is to hear your dreams and concerns, your hopes and fears. I have found these gatherings to be invaluable in the past and I trust they will be so now. I hope that you will be able to participate.

When it's about what we think or what we need, we have to go to a bunch of meetings. When it's about money, the parish can arrange to have us visited in our homes. He's not even pastor yet, and already it sounds like things will remain pretty much the same at St. Al's under Fr. Alan.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Noam Chomsky

Chomsky on Moshe Dayan, by David Bernstein, The Volokh Conspiracy, April 4, 2008 at 11:48pm

Review by David Luhrssen of What We Say Goes by Noam Chomsky, Sheperd Express, January 16, 2008

Songbirds May Be Able to Learn Grammar by Seth Borenstein, AP, April 26, 2007

Noam Chomsky vs. William F. Buckley Debate: Part 1 of 2 and Part 2 of 2 YouTube (via The Daily Dish)

Other works online:

Imminent Crises: Threats and Opportunities, by Noam Chomsky, Monthly Review, June 2007

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, Z Magazine

Vaclav Havel

Recommended reading:
by Vaclav Havel at Reading Rat

Other works online:

Vaclav vs. Vaclav by Vaclav Havel, translated and annotated by Paul Wilson, The New York Review of Books, May 10, 2007

The Freedom Tower by Vaclav Havel, translated by Paul Wilson, The New York Review of Books, March 29, 2007


Official Site

Times Topics, The New York Times

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Authors' Calendar, by Petri Liukkonen (2008)

Insights on history and Havel's humanity by Vikram Johri, review of To the Castle and Back by Vaclav Havel, translated by Paul Wilson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 17, 2007

Velvet President: Why Vaclav Havel is our era’s George Orwell and more, by Matt Welch, Reason, May 2003

Attempts to Escape the Logic of Capitalism, review by Slavoj Zizek of Vaclav Havel: A Political Tragedy in Six Acts by John Keane, London Review of Books, October 28, 1999

State's accounting doesn't pass muster

John Torinus in his column in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
If the State of Wisconsin were a corporation and subject to rules of accounting in the private sector, it would probably be in Chapter 11 reorganization.

He explains.
State budget officials say that the general fund balance at the end of fiscal 2006 was a positive $49.2 million, and everyone is supposed to feel good about that.

But the reality, according to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report [247 pp. pdf] that's required to be filed by the state controller, is that the GAAP deficit was $2.2 billion (p. 147).

That's the deficit if calculated using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

Gunter Grass

Life Sentences: The U.S Tour of Günter Grass, by David Streitfeld, The Washington Post, Sunday, August 12, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Die Leseratte, by Gunther Grass, Radierung 134/150, 1986, Mauseum; and Leseratte II (Reading Rat II), 1986, etching, "Gunter Grass: Graphic Work, 1972-2007", exhibition June 24, 2007 - July 28, 2007, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, NY

Now I remember, now I forget by Michael Hofmann, review of Peeling the Onion by Gunter Grass, translated by Michael Henry Heim, The Guardian, July 7, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Review by David Luhrssen of Peeling the Onion, by Gunter Grass, Shepherd Express, August 16, 2007

How I Spent the War: A recruit in the Waffen S.S., by Gunter Grass, The New Yorker, June 4, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Strange Silence of Gunter Grass by Norman Birnbaum, The Nation, August 18, 2006

POWs Together: Ratzinger and Grass from AGI, translated by Teresa Benedetta, August 15, 2006 (via Open Book)

Take a pig's head, add one spoonful of medium rage, review by Iain Bamforth of Selected Poems: 1956-93 by Gunter Grass, translated by Michael Hamburger, London Review of Books, October 28, 1999

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fox River looks to join megachurch ranks

Scott Williams reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on plans by Fox River Christian Church to expand its facility in the Town of Waukesha, west of Milwaukee, from 70,000 to 170,000 square feet. Fox River currently draws about 1,800 people to Sunday worship. With the expansion, it expects to increase this to over 2,000, the threshold for a "mega-church".

The story includes this sidebar table of Wisconsin Megachurches. There's more to a megachurch than size.

No Catholic churches are listed. Large as St. Al's is, I have never heard that it is the largest parish in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. And I assume there are some large parishes in the four other dioceses in Wisconsin. St. Al's Status Animarum Report (1993-2005) [pdf] shows Sunday Mass attendance declining, but at 2,344 it is greater than sixth-ranked Blackhawk Church on the megachurch league table. While Archbishop Dolan has said our Archdiocese is "buying into the mega-church model", outside observers aren't convinced.

The Megachurch Definition used by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research deals with the question "Very Large Catholic Churches - why aren't they megachurches?" In fact, it says that if only the 2,000 weekly attendance were considered, five out of seven megachurches would be Catholic.
Our studies and readings of worship and the congregational life of Catholic Churches has not convinced us that most very large catholic churches really function like the Protestant megachurches. There are a few that we have come across that do, but most don't have strong charismatic senior ministers, many associate pastors, large staff, robust congregational identity that empowers 100's to 1000's of weekly volunteers, an identity that draws people from a very large area (sometimes an hour or more) and across parish boundaries, a multitude of programs and ministries organized and maintained by members, high levels of commitment and giving by members, seven-day-a-week activities at the church, contemporary worship, state of the art sound and projection systems, auxiliary support systems such as bookstores, coffee shops, etc. huge campuses of 30-100 acres, and other common megachurch characteristics.

Even using attendance figures would run into a problem
Second, when we did try to get lists of churches with attendance figures from many dioceses to confirm attendance numbers, we met with no success.

That might just indicate megachurches have a policy in favor of communication.

Ex-Marine Kills Bear With Log at Low Gap Camp Grounds in Georgia

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a version of this Cox News Service report. Chris Everhart, on a weekend camping trip with his three young sons, killed a marauding bear with a well-placed throw of a piece of firewood to the bear's head. Thus was tragedy averted.
The man was given a ticket for failing to secure his camp site, said Ken Riddleberger, a region supervisor for game management with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The tragedy averted being the local DNR having to issue Everhart a citation posthumously.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What We Need To Know About Child Sex Abuse

Last Sunday's St. Al's bulletin [3 pp. pdf] includes an item (p. 3) that the local Voice Of The Faithful chapter is presenting this panel discussion, subtitled "Arrest, Prosecution, Victim Advocacy, Lawsuits and the Catholic Church". It's ecumenically scheduled
on Saturday, June 23, at 9:30AM, at Calvary Lutheran Church, Fellowship Hall, 1750 N. Calhoun Road, Brookfield.

In Calvary's Constitution [19 pp. pdf] the Confession of Faith C2.02c (p. 2) says
The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the writte Word of God.

While it's tempting to wonder if they consider the "n" apocryphal, more likely it indicates they produced the document by a process similar to that used by Catholic parishes locally, and by the end they weren't paying attention to what it said either.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Prospects of Conservatism

No political leader, not Ronald Reagan, not FDR, not even Lloyd George or Churchill could hold together for very long the polyglot assemblage that has made up the Reagan Phenomenon since 1980. The disintegration of the Phenomenon -- and it is already under way -- will throw each of the highly disparate persuasions back upon its old resources, there to plot no doubt fresh alliances toward yet another coalition of victory under yet another charismatic politician if he can be found.
--Robert Nisbet, Conservatism: Dream and Reality (1986) p. 106

Spring 2007 Pastoral Assignments

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee posted pastoral assignments taking effect from June 19 to September 4, and retirements effective June 30, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

United Methodist Church may be facing clergy shortage

Also in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was this item among the "Religion Briefs".
The United Methodist Church in Wisconsin is facing a possible clergy shortage, with 55 pastors in local churches reaching the minimum retirement age in 2008...

Only 17 of their ordained pastors are under age 35, the Rev. Nancy Moffatt, a district superintendent from Eau Claire, told the gathering as she challenged pastors to encourage new candidates for ministry.

Even with married clergy and women clergy, they still have a shortage? Almost makes me wonder if there is some other factor involved.

Stritch opens center to train lay church leaders

Tom Heinen reports in (the classic Saturday religion news ghetto?) in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the opening of the St. Clare Center for Ministry Formation at Stritch University. It will take on some of the lay ministry training that had been done at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's St. Francis Seminary. Academic classes were discontinued last year when academic training for the priesthood and diaconate was moved to Sacred Heart School of Theology here in Franklin.
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, speaking at the dedication in Bonaventure Hall on the Stritch campus in Fox Point, said this is a time when the church always seems to be in a cutback mode. The new center, however, is fresh and bold, he said, adding, "I find that to be exciting. I find that to give me a lot of hope and confidence."

I look at baptisms at Sunday Mass that way.
The Stritch effort stands out because its certificate and degree programs have been redesigned in light of a document the U.S. bishops approved in November 2005, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord: A Resource for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry [70 pp. pdf], said Dan Scholz, director of the center and chairman of Stritch's religious studies department.

This new division of responsibilities remains controversial in some circles.
Some women who have studied at St. Francis say the changes diminish seminarians' exposure to women's views, even though some women study at Sacred Heart. ...

"I really think that studying with the seminarians was good for both groups," said Jan Ruidl, who earned two master's degrees at the seminary and is now parish director at St. John Nepomuk Parish in Racine.

Women by their nature have a different perspective, and the women at the seminary were generally mature, with much to share, she said.

Interesting that women "by their nature" have particular perspectives. I'm so old I can remember when people would talk about such things being "social constructs".
The archdiocese is creating a new John Paul II Center in space leased from the School Sisters of St. Francis on S. Layton Blvd. in Milwaukee to train deacons and to provide spiritual guidance and instruction in the faith to lay people. That will include ministry certificate training.

That's the 1500 block south; far from suburban, but not the 1500 block north either.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Strange Case of Dr. Deming and Mr. Newt

This was the title of a post in the late Great Books Cafe / Great Books of Western Civilization Cafe by an admirer of W. Edwards Deming in response to post of mine pointing out the another admirer of Dr. Deming was Newt Gingrich. His post asserted that, had Deming not died in 1993, he would have opposed Gingrich. I say "asserted" because he did not cite any specifics. Given the Cafe was just an internet board, he didn't feel compelled to research it. Fair enough, but it left me with the impression he was avoiding the possibility that he shared an opinion with Gingrich, something he seemed to regard with distaste.

It happened that he lived close enough that he and I became friends off-line. We're having dinner with him and his wife tonight. Coincidentally, Newt Gingrich is in Milwaukee today for a Taxpayer Rally. So it seemed like an appropriate time for a quick look at Deming and Gingrich.

Gingrich met Deming through Owen and Susan Roberts, who became among Gingrich's biggest financial supporters. Mother Jones reported
Owen Roberts is chairman and wife Susan is executive vice president of the consulting firm Capital Formation Counselors. They made a good first impression on Newt when they invited him to a get-together with economist W. Edwards Deming. After the meeting, Newt wrote a thank-you note humbly stating that the Roberts had "changed history."

Gingrich's Renewing American Civilization course went so far as to characterize Quality As Defined By Deming as one of the five pillars of American civilization. The Summer 1995 ASQC Public Sector Network News included a Message from the Chair by Barry Crook with
Some random notes from the Annual Quality Congress meeting in Cincinnati

These included
One of the ideas we brainstormed about was to create a forum whereby practitioners, leaders and academics might discuss the notion of whether or not a model is emerging about how government is reformulating itself and how it is going about creating high performance organizations -- might benefit from such a dialogue. I personally would love to see Vice President Gore, Speaker Gingrich and our own, Tom Mosgaller, spend some time talking about this subject. Just how does the quality movement, reinvention, and the Contract with America relate to one another?

(The ASQC is now the ASQ, American Society for Quality, and does conern itself with the government and not-for-profit sectors.) In a August 12, 1996 post on the Learning-Org list, Donald Kerr (an engineer and internal consultant for AlliedSignal at the Johnson Space Center) said,
I'm now leading a W. Edwards Deming Institute/DEN [Deming Electronic Project] project on the DEN where we are reviewing Newt Gingrich's Renewing American Civilization lecture transcripts and providing apolitical electronic feedback to the Progress and Freedom Foundation.

Discussion of Gingrich on Deming a the DEN drew a May 29, 1996 post from Matt Barkley (IBM Personal Systems Programming).
Of course, the Speaker might have made a slip of the tongue, or pen, or mind. In the light of all the difficulties enumerated, however -- no operational definitions, no consideration of systems aspects, and the direct contravention of Point 8 [Drive out fear] -- I find that unlikely. I call this a Freudian-type slip, revealing that the Speaker does not understand or does not accept Deming's philosophy.

Deming's point referred to is that persistent and pervasive quality problems are systemic; they can't be solved by putting people's jobs on the line. The organization that acknowledges and acts on this drives out fear.

So it appears there was considerable interest in the quality movement in someone of Gingrich's prominence espousing Deming's ideas. There was some question whether Gingrich fully understood those ideas

I, too, heard Gingrich advocate some approaches inconsistent with Point 8 in dealing with problems with government institutions. What I don't recall is this being the ground for any of the political opposition to him. No one opposed him by claiming that they, not he, was advocating policies correctly based on Deming's ideas. It wasn't framed in those terms because Demings ideas would have been at least as threatening to the status quo as Gingrich's.

Update: Amy Hetzner reports in Saturday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Gingrich blasts 'arrogant' policies at the Taxpayer Rally.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Crunch time

Karen Marie Knapp commented, now Maryangela Layman Roman reports in our Catholic Herald on the fundraising effort at Prince of Peace/Príncipe de Paz School. To pay for 50 computers for two computer labs, they need to collect 1.6 million aluminum cans. And they need those computers!
Initial calculations by the teachers — which have since proven wrong — estimated the school would need $1,600 in cans to reach their goal. Recalculations proved the amount was seven figures — about 24-30 cans make a pound and the going price for recycled aluminum is about 75 cents a pound. Each computer is expected to cost just under $1,000. But the teachers were undeterred by the addition of three 0s to their total.

By my calculations, our Archdiocese could raise the $100 million for the school capital campaign by collecting 3.6 billion aluminum cans.

The Archdiocese Wants $100 Million

A reader also pointed out that Bruce Murphy in his Murphy's Law column for Milwaukee Magazine asked
So how will Catholics respond to a request to give the church an unprecedented $100 million?

At best, by asking what's it for?
Hohl [Kathleen Hohl, spokeswoman for the archdiocese] described the proposed drive as a “capital campaign” to raise money for Catholic elementary and high schools, as well as for parish educational/outreach efforts. Hohl said it has been decades since the archdiocese did such a drive, and never at this dollar amount. What’s become clear is the archdiocese needs some kind of outreach to keep parishioners from abandoning the church.

Wouldn't outreach be asking what parishioners need, not asking them for money?
Some parishes, as Nohl’s story noted, have engaged in family education programs that demand more time of parishioners and keep them engaged as practicing Catholics.

I might have tried to sell it as providing a service rather than demanding time.
But the capital campaign is likely to raise questions. For starters, there will be concern that the money raised will help pay off legal settlements, which have so far cost the archdiocese some $22.3 million (plus another $8 million covered by the archdiocese’s insurer). Hohl said no – that the sale of church real estate will pay off the suits.

And guaranteed that there will never be any more? I would have liked it better if she had said the funds would not go through the Archdiocesan treasury before reaching the schools.
One insider also questioned whether RSI, the Texas-based fundraising company that will conduct the upcoming campaign, is being paid too much. The source said the company is expected to get $10 million, a figure that could raise some eyebrows.

Your eyebrows might be raised that, at these prices, the bishops haven't developed this capability in-house. In our Archdiocese, though, parishes are required to hire a liturgical design consultant for building projects. If our Archdiocese has no one on staff nor any architects who know what a church should look like, we can hardly be surprised if they go outside the state for fundraising expertise.
Hohl said the exact amount hasn’t been determined yet. Small wonder the archdiocese is proceeding carefully before it makes a public announcement of the drive.

Archbishop Dolan talked about such a campaign in general terms in the public meetings on strategic planning a few years back. In the context of the approach to planning he talks about, it might be palatable. In his installation homily,
Dolan apologized for not being able to present a more specific plan of action for his tenure here, but took comfort in the example set by St. Francis of Assisi. He told the story of how Francis went to Pope Innocent III to get permission to form his religious order, and when the pope asked what plans Francis had for his friars, he simply pointed to the Gospels and said, 'This is my plan.'

The Archbishop explained how, as he saw it, the plan he envisioned was based on the Gospels. It was a nice contrast to the usual jumble of process and jargon that the archdiocesan and parish bureaucracies call plans.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

No Three Holy Women Festival

A reader points out this post by Michael Horne at MilwaukeeWorld. The Three Holy Women parish might be growing overall but there's no one to oversee the annual parish festival.
“Key players are not available this year,” the church staff tells Milwaukeeworld. Some, such as Rose Mastrogiovanni, were lost to death, which lets them off the hook. What’s everybody else’s excuse?

Same thing happened to the St. Al's parish festival. A few people managed it for years, finally gave it up, and no one was either willing or able to replace them. The fish fry ended for the same reason.

It's said the cemeteries are full of indispensible people, but it turns out not always said ironically.

Last Words from Richard Rorty

Danny Postel at The Progressive with an interview by correspondence, interrupted by Mr. Rorty's death.

On the popularity of his work in some Iranian circles,
When I was told that another figure much discussed in Tehran was Habermas, I concluded that the best explanation for interest in my work was that I share Habermas’s vision of a social democratic utopia. In this utopia, many of the functions presently served by membership in a religious community would be taken over by what Habermas calls "constitutional patriotism." Some form of patriotism — of solidarity with fellow-citizens, and of shared hopes for the country’s future — is necessary if one is to take politics seriously. In a theocratic country, a leftist political opposition must be prepared to counter the clergy’s claim that the nation’s identity is defined by its religious tradition. So the left needs a specifically secularist form of moral fervor, one which centers around citizens’ respect for one another rather than on the nation’s relation to God.

On the long-term prospects of this alternative.
But I still think that the end of democracy is a likely consequence of nuclear terrorism, and I do not know how to guard against this danger. Sooner or later some terrorist group will repeat 9/11 on a much grander scale. I doubt that democratic institutions will be resilient enough to stand the strain.

See Psalm 146:3-4.

(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Update: At Open Democracy, Roger Scruton on Richard Rorty’s legacy

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Best Schools

Matthew Hrodey, with Bruce Murphy and Caroline Goyette, reported in Milwaukee Magazine on a statistical analysis of area public school districts.
K-12 Underperformers
1) Waukesha
2) Menomonee Falls
3) Franklin Public
4) Oconomowoc
These school districts had median to above-average spending per pupil with lower achievement test scores than expected given income level of students.

Maybe Franklin is aiming to be a world class underperformer.

Rowan Williams to take sabbatical at Georgetown

Looks like my pastor-to-be is a trendsetter.

(via Open Book)

Blessing Drunks

Fr. Dwight Longenecker posted this just before a series on a school mission trip to El Salvador. That juxtaposition and the post's comments reminded me of a beggar we encountered on one of our parish mission trips to Guatemala.

(via Open Book)

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Compassionate Conservative

I believe we should trade and visit freely with our neighbors in Mexico. But we must do a better job of stopping those who seek to come into our country illegally.
--George W. Bush, A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House (1999) p. 237

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bada Bing!

The Lexington column in The Economist on The Sopranos
Foreign-policy commentators like to draw a distinction between soft power and hard power. The argument is that America has more to gain by spreading its ideas and values than through exercising its military muscles. They also often seek to make a clear distinction between pro- and anti-Americanism. But a little time with Tony, Big Pussy and Paulie Walnuts shows that things are a little bit more complicated.

Original Building Fund

Reading 1, Genesis 14:18-20.5
18In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, 19he blessed Abram with these words:
"Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
the creator of heaven and earth;
20and blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your foes into your hand."
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
20.5Melchizedek reminded Abram of the Capital Campaign with these words:
"For those who did not participate
in the prior Gathering In, Reaching Out Appeals,
we ask that you pray and consider
matching your current regular giving."

David Mamet

The author of such trenchant social dramas as "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Oleanna" and "American Buffalo" has also written some inscrutable pieces that invite eyelids to droop. --Damien Jaques, Early works by Mamet a mixed bag: Evening of one-acts ends on note of surprising delicacy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Posted: November 20, 2008

In a new comedy, 'November,' David Mamet enters political fray by Campbell Robertson, International Herald Tribune, May 15, 2007

God and Mamet by James Kirchick, review of The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred, and the Jews by David Mamet, Azure, Spring 2007
(via Milt's File)

David Mamet by Paul A. Toth, Salon, September 11, 2001

'Dammit Dave, by David Mamet', by Francis Heaney, Holy Tango of Drama: If Playwrights Wrote Plays Whose Titles Were Anagrams of Their Names, Modern Humorist, January 10, 2001

Inteview by Richard Covington, Salon, October 25, 1997

Other works online:

Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal' by David Mamet, The Village Voice, March 11, 2008 (via Anthony Sacramone at First Things)

Mario Vargas Llosa

Recommended reading:
by Mario Vargas Llosa at Reading Rat

Reference: Featured Author: Mario Vargas Llosa. With Reviews and Articles From the Archives of The New York Times

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Authors' Calendar, by Petri Liukkonen (2008)

Storyteller: The famous novelist on politics, and how writing can change the course of history, by Emily Parker, Opinion Journal, Saturday, June 23, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

A hinterland the size of a continent by Philip Hensher, review of Touchstones: Essays on Literature, Art and Politics by Mario Vargas Llosa, The Telegraph, January 4, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Memories of a Skinny Girl by Michael Wood, review of The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Edith Grossman, and The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City: Latin America in the Cold War by Jean Franco, London Review of Books, May 9, 2002

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Cousins Center sale, appointee on horizon

Tom Heinen reports in today's the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that this year might see the Cousins Center sold and a second auxiliary bishop appointed.

The Cousins Center is a 415,000 square foot facility on 44 acres across the road from the shore of Lake Michigan.
...the building opened as a preparatory seminary in 1963 and was converted to an [Archdiocesan] office and conference center in the early 1980s as vocations dwindled.

There was a lot of construction of churches and convents around that time. It turned out to be a golden age for the concrete block industry, if not for the Archdiocese.

As to the new auxiliary bishop, Archbishop Dolan has suggested three priests to Pope Benedict, but the pope is not limited to those names. The only more detailed information I've seen was what Mike posted, and that was a year ago.

Ordination to the Diaconate

Ten men will be ordained to the diaconate for service to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Saturday, June 9, at 11 a.m. ... at the Cathedral ...

They are James Doyle (who dropped in on April's parish Guatemala mission); Allan Foeckler; John Gavin; Mark Jansen; Philip Kilkenny; Keith Marx; Antonio Palacios; Edwin Reyes; Leonides Rocha; and Jorge Zuniga.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Catholic People's Bill of Rights

Fr. Tim Plarvik at the Weblog Home of the Spirit of Vatican II Catholic Faith Community in Kanesville, Tennessee.

If only I'd known last month of this parish, which "features contemporary worship and a diverse and friendly and ecologically low footprinted community". We were in the area but wound up going to Mass in Townsend.

(via Dad29)

Billy Graham on 'Meet the Press' June 9, 1957

MR. MARQUIS CHILDS (St. Louis Post Dispatch): You said the other night, Mr. Graham, that if this country is going to be destroyed, it will not be by communism but by moral deterioration from within. Now, you’ve been preaching for seven years and we’ve heard a great deal about the religious revival in this country, yet, year after year, we get new records of crime, juvenile delinquency and so on. How do you explain it?

REV. BILLY GRAHAM: That is--I explain it this way. First of all, I don’t think that this is a--that we have seen yet a genuine religious revival. I heard a president of a seminary say the other day that we’re seeing a revival of religion in America, but not necessarily the Christian religion. And one of the problems is this: We have a great deal of church-going in America, but we’re not relating this church-going to our personal daily lives. We have a hundred million people attending church in America, but those hundred million people are not going into their homes and their shops and their offices and in their business and putting Christ into effect. And that’s one of the reasons that I’ve been trying to emphasize in my preaching the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, trying to tell people how to apply Christ in their daily lives and in their social intercourse.

P.S. Terry Mattingly on Billy Graham, the turtle and the cow

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Stale transit ideas keep us getting nowhere

Eugene Kane wrote in his column in the May 27, 2007 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the long-running local controversy over new modes of transit.
Part of my revelation came after returning to Milwaukee from vacation. That's where I took note that, unlike in other medium-size cities, there's no way to get from the airport to downtown without a car or a hefty cab fare.

I emailed him pointing out that Milwaukee County Transit System route 80 runs from the Airport through downtown. I haven't heard back from him but he's a busy guy and it sounds like he gets a lot of more emphatic mail.

There are currently two local transit proposals, from County Executive Walker and Mayor Barrett. Walker's proposal has come in for other criticism like Mr. Kane's.
Downtown Ald. Bob Bauman blasted Walker's proposal as an "anti-transit transit plan" that wouldn't connect buses with the downtown Amtrak station and Mitchell International Airport.

Since I had a downtown appointment this afternoon, and the airport was more or less on my way home, I did an amateur simulation of Mayor Barrett's proposal, using the maps of the routes of his proposed Downtown Circulator and COMET express bus.

This was around 4:00 p.m.; I followed the proposed light rail line on St. Paul Ave. from the railroad station to Milwaukee Street: .5 mile, 2 minutes. I then took the COMET route: Milwaukee Street, 1st Street, Kinnickinnnic Avenue, Oklahoma Avenue, Lake Parkway, Layton Avenue, Howell Avenue, Airport: 9.8 miles, 26 minutes. With no time added for the transfer or any intermediate stops, the 28 minute total saves about two minutes off the existing local bus service.

Going Episcopal

Christopher S. Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal.
And it's not like the Vast Conservative Anglican Conspiracy has ever actually, you know, stopped anything. Women's ordination, garbage prayer book, politically correct hymnal, Gene Robinson. The Vast International Roman Catholic Conspiracy guys just laugh at us these days and they wouldn't invite us to their last Vast International Conspiracy softball tournament. They claimed our invitations got lost in the mail but I could hear them giggling before they hung up the phone.

Mary Shelley

Naming – of the author, the creator and the creature – is a real issue in Frankenstein, and the question of who actually wrote what the Belle Assemblée described as a “very bold fiction” is not new. It has vexed critics since the novel’s anonymous publication in 1818. Early reviewers may not have been able to decide who the author was, but they were keen to give him or her a name, just as later writers and adapters were equally anxious to label (or mislabel) the creature, transferring the name “Frankenstein” from creator to his creation. --Lynda Pratt , Who wrote the original Frankenstein? The Times of London, October 29, 2008 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Authors' Calendar, by Petri Liukkonen (2008)

Yes, Frankenstein really was written by Mary Shelley. It's obvious - because the book is so bad. By Germaine Greer, The Guardian, April 9, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

What do we tell our young people when they ask us about war?

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee posted answers in these lesson plans [37 pp. pdf].
These three sessions were written by youth ministers in our archdiocese, and were reviewed by Father Andy Nelson, from St. Francis Seminary.

Which might explain things like these "Suggestions for High School Youth" (p. 33).
Ask them: Who are some people in recent history who have stepped forward to promote peace and nonviolence and equality of all people? Write their responses on the newsprint or board.

(Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, are some examples. In fact, if you have pictures of these people, you might hang them up and rephrase the question to read like this: Here are some pictures of people in recent history who have stepped forward to promote peace and nonviolence and equality of all people. Does anyone know who they are? Can anyone tell me anything about what they did?)

Tell them that these people are called PACIFISTS. Write the word PACIFIST on the board or newsprint.

When the students are outside Fort Benning (p. 36), have them ask the locals about when Lincoln the pacifist sent Sherman on a peace march to the sea.

Religion and politics go hand-in-hand in 2008 US presidential campaign

This Associated Press article in the International Herald Tribune says
Indeed, seven years after George W. Bush won the presidency in part with a direct appeal to conservative religious voters — even saying during a debate that Jesus Christ was his favorite philosopher — the personal faith of candidates for the 2008 election has become a very public part of the presidential campaign.

I didn't remember it quite that way. I remembered George W. Bush being asked "Who is your favorite political philosopher?" So did, among others, the editors of the Baptist Standard and Douglas Groothuis.

But is that what he was asked? Or was he asked what political philosopher he most identified with? Gary Bauer remembers that.

But is that what he was asked? Stephen Buttry of the Des Moines Register reported at the time that
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, a Methodist who leads the Republican race in opinion polls and fund-raising, gave the most personal testimony in Monday's debate. Each candidate was asked what "political philosopher or thinker" he identified with most. (In an interview Tuesday morning with Des Moines Register reporters and editors, Bush said he understood the question to be, "Who's had the most influence on your life?")

A reasonable interpretation of what thinker he most identified with.
Bush, the third candidate to answer in the debate, said, "Christ, because he changed my heart."

(via Daniel Pulliam at Get Religion)

P.S. From that same election, I cannot see any indication that Al Gore's admiration for Maurice Merleau-Ponty extended to Humanism and Terror.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I Was a Teenage Republican

Cynthia Hanson in Chicago Magazine, September 1994, on Hilary Clinton's high school years in Park Ridge.
Though she was a Goldwater Girl in 1964, she devoted equal time to discussing social issues, such as civil rights. In hindsight it's hard to avoid seeing her as a liberal activist trapped in the body of a Republican teenager.

June 11, Robert George, "Faith and Reason: Why We Do Good"

Dr. Robert P. George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, will be the final presenter of the 2007 Pallium Lecture Series. He will disucss "Faith and Reason: Why We Do Good" at 7 p.m. at the Archbishop Cousins Center, 3501 S. Lake Dr., St. Francis. A prayer service will precede the lecture at 6:30 p.m. A reception will follow the lecture.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Koran

It is this biblical prophet, Moses, who was the model for Muhammad. Though Muslims see Abraham as the first to believe in the one God—and thus the first muslim and the ancestor of the Arabs through Ishmael—the prophet mentioned most often in the Qur’an is Moses. Muhammad was, like Moses in the words of St. Stephen in the Acts of the Apostles, “powerful in words and deeds.” --Robert Louis Wilken, Christianity Face to Face with Islam, First Things, January 2009

Recommended reading:
The Koran at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

...the clerics pointed to the Koranic verses that state “this is a book we have sent down to you (O Muhammad).” They ask, Don’t these verses imply that God is the revealer and Muhammad the receiver? They also point out that there were times when Muhammad waited impatiently for the revelation to come to him and that in more than 300 cases the prophet is commanded to tell his people to do one thing or another. This demonstrates, the argument goes, that the commands are coming from elsewhere rather than from the heart or the mind of the prophet himself. --Mohammad Ayatollaki Tabaar Who Wrote the Koran? The New York Times, December 5, 2008

The Lost Archive by Andrew Higgins, The Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2008 (via Joseph Bottum at First Things)

The Islamic Optimist by Malise Ruthven, review of In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad by Tariq Ramadan, To Be a European Muslim by Tariq Ramadan, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam by Tariq Ramadan, Islam, the West and the Challenges of Modernity by Tariq Ramadan, translated by Said Amghar, and The Heirs of the Prophet Muhammad and the Roots of the Sunni-Shia Schism by Barnaby Rogerson, The New York Review of Books, August 16, 2007

Encountering Islam by Algis Valiunas, Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2007

Islam and Western Democracies by Cardinal George Pell, April 2, 2006

Bonfire of the Pieties: Islam prohibits neither images of Muhammad nor jokes about religion, by Amir Taheri, Opinion Journal, February 8, 2006

In Perspective: What's the Difference Between Shi'ah and Sunni? by Todd Hertz, Christianity Today, April 30, 2003

Islamic Faith in An Age of Realism by Thomas J. O'Shaughnessy, S.J., The Catholic World, February 1942

Communication, consultation, precede merger of four parishes

Cheri Perkins Mantz reports in our Catholic Herald on the new Blessed Savior Church to be formed from the merger of Corpus Christi, Mary, Queen of Martyrs, Our Lady of Sorrows, and St. Philip Neri Churches. (Mary, Queen of Martyrs Church in turn was formed by the 2001 merger of St. Stephen Martyr and Mother of Perpetual Help Churches.) Transitional council spokesperson, Chip Swearngan, was interviewed.
“We believe the budget for the new parish would allow us to support two priests and we believe with the volume of ministry service we need to provide and the size of our school population with four campuses, that we could certainly justify two priests.”

Swearngan estimated that Blessed Savior will have 3,000 parishioners.

The print edition of the same issue of our Catholic Herald lists the appointments of priests and shows only Fr. Gregory Chycinski appointed to the merged parish (as pastor) so far. (I wondered about them being assigned two priests when St. Al's has only two for three times as many parishioners.)
Swearngan said that, for the most part, the reactions of parishioners have been positive. That might be attributed to more than five years of discussion that has been integral to the process.

So one year after Mary, Queen of Martyrs Church was formed in a merger, it was again involved in talks about another merger? It's probably hard to get attached to your parish when you know it might not outlive your goldfish.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Eugene O'Neill

Times Topics, The New York Times

Eugene O'Neill's America, by John Patrick Diggins, The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 4, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1936

Review by Stark Young of The Hairy Ape, Anna Christie, The First Man by Eugene O'Neill, The New Republic, November 15, 1922

Return Civility to Christian Discourse

Mitch Carnell at Christian Newswire on a response to the intense disagreement within many denominations.
Historic First Baptist Church now in its 325th year and the Charleston Baptist Association, the oldest Baptist association in the South, have declared the first Sunday in June as Say Something Nice Sunday.

If this spreads to local Baptists, it might open a new front in the Catholics for Peace and Justice battle against niceness.

(via Diogenes at Off the Record)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Fr. Witczak to teach at Catholic University

Brian T. Olszewski reports in our Catholic Herald. Father Witczak became rector of the Milwaukee Archdiocesan seminary at the beginning of 2002.
Within weeks after becoming rector, he entered into what he termed “a very challenging time” — a six-month period when revelations of clergy sexual abuse of minors became daily, international news.

He provides non-specific reassurance.
One of the things the seminary did, according to Fr. Witczak, was examine its admission criteria and procedures to ensure as much as possible that it did not admit men who had a proclivity for sexually abusing minors.

The number of seminarians is up, to 40. He attributes this to two factors.
“Partly it’s the legacy of Pope John Paul II — the fact that he was just so influential for people,” he said. “He provided a real model of priesthood. He was a spokesman for the church that was very attractive.”

Fr. Witczak said the increase can also be attributed to “a generational shift.”

“The generation coming up right now is attracted to priesthood. They are looking for something to die for, something that is so important it is worth spending their life on,” he said. “Priesthood, precisely because it involves celibacy and is so countercultural in so many ways is attractive to young people coming up today.”

Might have something to do with their lack of interest in MAPA, to date.

Strange New Respect

"Strange New Respect" is Tom Bethell's term for the love showered by the MSM on conservatives who move to the left.
--Mickey Kaus, KausFiles, Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 11:57 P.M.

See, e.g., Why the Republican Congress Hasn’t Cut Your Taxes, by Tom Bethell, Hoover Digest 1999 No. 3, and Strange New Respect, 1992 by Tom Bethell, The American Spectator, September, 1992


Friday, June 1, 2007

Latin Mass firestorm just ahead

Terry Mattingly at Get Religion on the the rumored imminent granting by Pope Benedict XVI of more general permission for the Tridentine Mass.
The bottom line: You will find a few of these extreme people, left and right, in most American dioceses. You will usually have one or two parishes that strongly support Rome and like to fly that flag high (and apply pressure for Latin rites). Then you will also have one or two edgy parishes (or “centers” or “Catholic communities”) that oppose — in ways either open or subtle — almost everything that Rome tries to do.

So where is the big story? It’s in the middle there, where the typical Catholic parish offers Masses that are plain, vanilla, often numbingly quick versions of the modernized English rite.

Meaning numbingly quick as opposed to numbingly something else?

Mr. Allen was skeptical that the permission would make much difference.
Most basically, there’s scant evidence of a huge pent-up demand for the old Mass. Since 1984, celebration of the old Mass has been permitted with a dispensation from the local bishop. Since 1984, celebration of the old Mass has been permitted with a dispensation from the local bishop. While some dioceses where it’s allowed report that the celebrations are often well attended, sometimes with a surprising number of younger Catholics, there’s been no widespread exodus from the new rite to the old.

There has been an exodus, an exodus from the new rite to staying at home or going outside the Catholic Church for services.

Young entrepreneurs shop their wares

Karen Girard reported Special to your Catholic Herald on the economics fair at St. Mary Catholic School in Mayville. Amy Enfelt, who teaches sixth and seventh grade social studies, explained that groups of students teamed up to develop, produce, and market products.
“Some of the children sold the same products. We allowed this, so they could see competition is part of running a business. ..."

Sounds like Junior Achievement

Oil profits tax advances

Steven Walters reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
With attorneys for special-interest groups lining up on both sides of the question of whether the tax is constitutional, legislators predicted a costly court fight if the tax becomes law.

For example, it looks like the District Laborers' Union will be pushing for the proposed tax, though the union received an opinion that the tax is unconstitutional from one of its lawyers. Mr. Walters continues,
Similar taxes in other states have ended up in federal court.

It might be helpful to know how those cases came out. He apparently forgot to ask that follow-up question. The union's legal opinion says,
a case to deem the assessment unconstitutional would be strong.

Catholic Book Club

Maybe it's a trend. At St. Jerome Church in Oconomowoc,
Our Catholic Book Club will meet Wednesday, June 6th, from 9:00-10:30 AM in Marian Hall and will continue the 1st Wednesday of each month. The next book to read beforehand will be Catholicism, Now I Get It! by Claire Furia Smith. All are invited.

In his review at Amazon, Michael Dubruiel wrote,
We learn the faith as children but really don't "get it" until the it gets challenged--then we either get it or bale.

That is, take what one now regards as so much straw and bundle it up to transport. Hence the self-described recovering Catholic who complains of the continuing burden of carrying the former faith.

Either that or it was a typo.