Monday, December 31, 2007

A Perfect Match

Among the year-end retrospectives was Rob Hoerburger in The New York Times Magazine on Charles Nelson Reilly (1931-2007) and Brett Somers (1924-2007).
Many viewers were introduced to Somers and Reilly on "Match Game," as if they’d sprung straight from the Spiegel catalog, the Paris Hiltons of their day, famous for being famous.

Lippmann and the News

The "present crisis of western democracy," the 30-year-old Walter Lippmann announced in 1920, "is a crisis in journalism." ...

The "crisis" Lippmann detected in both democracy and journalism arises because the sheer volume of political affairs in an interconnected national and global world...surpasses the capacity of even the most conscientious citizens to monitor.

Michael Schudson, The Nation, December 31, 2007, review of Liberty and the News, by Walter Lippmann

Why Do People Hate Top Ten Lists?

Isaac Chotiner at The Plank cites the following paragraph by Manohla Dargis. [my additions indicated]
[10] The whole point of a Top 10 list, a friend recently scolded me, is to number them. (I was declining to do so.) [9] My friend was wrong, but only because Top 10 lists are artificial exercises, [8] assertions of critical ego, [7] capricious and necessarily imperfect. [6] (I have a suspicion that the sacred 10 is meant to suggest biblical certainty, as if critics are merely worldly vessels for some divine wisdom.) [5] More than anything they are a public ritual, [4] which is their most valuable function. [3] I tell you what I liked, [2] and you either agree with my list (which flatters us both) [1] or denounce it (which flatters you). It’s a perfect circle.

No More Classical Radio

Obie Yadgar in the Shepherd Express, December 27, 2007, on the format change at Milwaukee's WFMR earlier this year.
The loss of classical radio may seem insignificant to many people. In the big scheme of things, what's the loss of another art form? But all the losses in the arts simply add more casualties in the battle to keep the nation's cultural life from draining away. ...

It is a sad reality to face, especially when you realize that in a small way WFMR helped place our city above many others of its size because of the richness of its cultural life.

Tom Strini, the local paper's music critic, had been rather sanguine about it: Lack of listeners made classical radio untenable. Maybe someday we'll be shrugging off news on the radio, or internet, that lack of subscribers made our daily newspaper untenable.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A look at Mormon theology and practice

Stephanie Simon, Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2007

(via Terry Mattingly at Get Religion)

Reading Rat, December 2007

Articles, essays, and reviews on authors and works in my recommended reading

Pick of the bunch: History, politics, music, business, biography, memoir, letters and fiction. There is something for everyone in this round-up of the year's best books. The Economist, December 6, 2007

Critical Condition by James Wolcott, review of Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America by Gail Pool, The New Republic, December 4, 2007

Do we need a literary canon? by Richard Jenkyns, Prospect, December 2007

Radical un-chic by James Panero. On Tom Wolfe & the derriere garde. The New Criterion, December 2007

Books of the Year 2007, New Statesman, November 22, 2007

The 10 Best Books of 2007, 100 Notable Books of 2007, and Notable Children’s Books of 2007, The New York Times, December 2, 2007

Small library in India binds present with the past by Geeta Sharma-Jensen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 25, 2007

Ten Influential Books by Kenneth Rexroth, The Christian Century, December 12, 1962, at Bureau of Public Secrets

Review by David Luhrssen of Classics for Pleasure by Michael Dirda, Shepherd Express, December 27, 2007

In 2008, I Resolve To. . .Read More Books by Marjorie Pagel, Meet Me at the Corner, Franklin Now, Friday, Dec 21 2007, 11:31 AM

Third Culture Holiday Reading: Books By Edge Contributors (and others)--2007, by John Brockman, Edge

World Wide Words: Michael Quinion writes on International English from a British viewpoint

Books from Our Pages, The New Yorker, December 17, 2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Rolheiser: disturbed or disturbing? and other news

News first, then upcoming events

Casa Maria Catholic Worker House January 2008
"Burger King is next on the list and so far they’ve been a tough cookie."

Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Episode #5
"Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker join[ed] Archbishop Dolan to talk about challenges our community faces in 2008.
"Students from St. Andrew School in Delavan share[d] their New Year's Resolutions and talk[ed] about the importance of keeping promises."

An Invitation Inside of Christmas
This column by Father Ron Rolheiser ran in the December 20, 2007 issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
"And so some of us send Christmas greetings urging delight, celebration, gifts, lights, and joyous song, while some of us send more stark greetings that say: 'May the peace of Christ disturb you!'"

Advent - A Time to Learn How to Wait
This column by Father Ron Rolheiser ran in the December 13, 2007 issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
"Annie Dillard shares this story about proper waiting: She had been watching a butterfly emerge from its cocoon..." (It'll be a long wait. If it had a cocoon, it's a moth, not a butterfly.)

Religion Briefing
From the Dec. 29, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, including,
"John Braun and the Sheboygan-based Riverfront Ramblers will present a Dixieland jazz worship service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church ..."


Friday, December 28, 2007

Mortimer J. Adler

Rorty broke from his parent’s conscientious Leninism (they denounced Stalin’s Russia) after he matriculated as a precocious fifteen-year-old at the University of Chicago and immediately fell under the tutelage of Mortimer Adler and Robert Hutchins. They taught him that the only way to refute both a Nazi and a Stalinist was to defend democracy as 'something eternal, absolute, and good.' --Jason Boffetti, How Richard Rorty Found Religion, First Things, May 2004

On the recommended works by this author:

The Great Books [of the Western World] too will soon be available in e-book format, searchable and linked to the Syntopicon. They will be available through most libraries, we hope, as well as from from EB, by the end of the year. --Michael Ross, Comment, December 8, 2008 at 10:41 pm, at How Now, Great Books? A Britannica Blog Forum, December 8, 2008

Rather than a scheme to make a buck, a notion belied by Adler’s dependence on a book-a-minute publishing schedule and the enormous $60 million profits going to the non-profit University of Chicago, the Great Books were an extension of Adler and Hutchins’s life mission. --Daniel J. Flynn, The Not-So-Great Books, First Principles, April 20, 2009, review of A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books, by Alex Beam

The DVD includes thirteen programs, each of them fourteen minutes in length, for a total of three hours of video. Each section includes Adler and Van Doren in a lively, candid discussion of the chapters of How to Read a Book, in which they discuss the importance of each concept and give examples of how it works in their own reading. --Britannica, Classic Adler-Van Doren Video on “How to Read a Book”, April 3, 2009 Reborn Press Release [Solves the conundrum of a book on how to read a book; see below. --ed.]

...Adler’s own risible contribution, the “Synopticon,” an absurd index to 102 “great ideas” that filled 2,248 pages and two entire volumes of the set... --The National, The great dictators, December 26, 2008, review of A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books by Alex Beam

As an appendix to the Great Books, Adler insisted on compiling a two-volume index of essential ideas, the easily misspelled Syntopicon. A photograph in A Great Idea at the Time shows Adler surrounded by ­filing-cabinet drawers, each packed with index cards pertaining to a separate “idea”: Aristocracy, Chance, Cause, Form, Induction, Language, Life and so on. The cards registered the expression of those ideas — Adler arrived at the figure of 102 — in the Great Books of the Western World. --James Campbell, Heavy Reading, The New York Times, November 14, 2008, review of A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books, by Alex Beam

--Mortimer J. Alder and Charles Van Doren,, How to Read a Book, video excerpt, CenterForGreatIdeas, November 7, 2008, YouTube

the publishers [of Great Books of the Western World] tried to make the set useful to buyers who didn’t really want to read it, devoting two volumes to the Syntopicon, a 2,428-page index listing the works’ allusions to 102 Great Ideas, from Angel to World. The ideas, like the texts, had some curious omissions: Hutchins testily complained to Adler, “[M]ost of my friends are interested in money, fame, power, and sex--I don’t see those in the 102 ideas. What are we going to do about those?” (In Adler’s defense, Wealth, Honor, Tyranny, and Desire were among the topical umbrellas.) --Mary Ruth Yoe, A good read about the Great Books: Long before Oprah’s Book Club, there was..., University of Chicago Magazine, November-December 2008, review of A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books, by Alex Beam

I think their results are respectable enough to use as a launchpad for further work, so I'm transcribing the topical breakdowns below. For example, although Dwight Macdonald criticised the Syntopicon as unreadable due to its condensed info-design, the economies of Internet publishing now make it practical to unpack all the references, which should be a big improvement. And Adler was strictly pre-cybernetic, so the whole system needs to be tweaked to accommodate that new model of mind. --John Barger, Mortimer Adler's 'Syntopicon', in The prehistory of AI in An overview of Artificial Intelligence, Robot Wisdom, February 2003

Adler devised the idea of a grand index of the Great Ideas contained in the Great Books to make the set an educational force. [Robert] Hutchins was persuaded, and he allotted $60,000 dollars to the project that he hoped would be completed in two years.

The production of the Great Books of the Western World proved to be a much more labor-intensive task than Adler, Hutchins or [William] Benton anticipated. The two years lapsed into eight years and the $60,000 ballooned to over $2,000,000.
Complete with an introductory essay describing the history of each term, the Syntopicon alone took over seven years to produce at a cost of nearly $1,000,000.

--The University of Chicago Library, Spreading the Gospel, The Great Ideas: The University of Chicago and the Ideal of Liberal Education; An Exhibition in the Department of Special Collections, May 1, 2002 - September 6, 2002

The Syntopicon, writes Dr. Adler, is "a unified reference library in the realm of thought and opinion," and he compares it to a dictionary or an encyclopedia. Words and facts, however, can be so ordered because they are definite, concrete, distinguishable entities, and because each one means more or less the same thing to everyone. Looking them up in the dictionary or encyclopedia is not a major problem. But an idea is a misty, vague object that takes on protean shapes, never the same for any two people. There is a strong family resemblance between the dictionaries of Dr. Johnson, Mr. Webster, and Messrs. Funk & Wagnalls, but every man makes his own Syntopicon, God forbid, and this one is Dr. Adler's, not mine or yours. --Dwight Macdonald, The Book-of-the-Millennium Club, The New Yorker, November 29, 1952

On this author:

The press jumped at the novelty of young President [Robert] Hutchins acting as "Mr. Adler's straight man" in a course for freshmen. Visiting dignitaries often sat in on the class: actors Lillian Gish, Ethel Barrymore, and Orson Wells attended sessions, as did Eugene Meyer, publisher of the Washington Post, but none caused quite the stir that Gertrude Stein did in 1934. Skeptical of the entire endeavor to teach the Great Books (she insisted that the classics could not be understood when read in translation), Stein led a session on Homer's Odyssey. Alice B. Toklas remembered that Stein gave the students more freedom than Hutchins and Adler normally allowed, enabling the students to "formulate their own ideas." But, according to Adler, Stein abandoned the Socratic method and "harangued [the students] with extempore remarks about epic poetry which she thought up on the spot, but which none of us, including Gertrude, could understand, then or in the years to come." --Jay Satterfield, General Honors Comes to Chicago, The Great Ideas: The University of Chicago and the Ideal of Liberal Education; An Exhibition in the Department of Special Collections, The University of Chicago Library, May 1, 2002 - September 6, 2002

This certainty that one possesses such truths and that they can be demonstrated to everyone’s satisfaction reminds me of a brief encounter with Mortimer Adler. He had compared me unfavorably to Justice Blackmun on the ground that I was a legal positivist while Blackmun was a natural law judge. I asked Adler why he thought judges were entitled to enforce the natural law. He said, “It doesn’t take long to learn.” --Robert H. Bork, Natural Law and the Constitution, First Things, March 1992

Mortimer Adler, president of the Institute for Philosophical Research, former professor of the philosophy of law at the University of Chicago, and author of The Idea of Freedom, talks to Wallace about conceptions of freedom, capitalism, socialism, and the American worker. --Mike Wallace Interview, Mortimer Adler, September 7, 1958, video, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

Memento Mortimer, by Ralph McInerny, First Things, November 2001

The Great Bookie: Mortimer Adler, 1902--2001, by Joseph Epstein, Weekly Standard, July 23, 2001

Fusilier, Time, March 17, 1952

Other works online:

Reminiscences of Mortimer J. Adler on Jacques Barzun, by Max Weismann, The Jacques Barzun Centennial

How to Mark a Book by Mortimer Adler, Teaching Great Books, No. 1, 1999-2000

Mortimer J. Adler On The Constitution, interview by Bill Moyers, 1987

Teaching, Learning, and Their Counterfeits (1977, 1987), Cambridge Study Center

Schooling Is Not Education, Cambridge Study Center

Invitation to the Pain of Learning (1941), Cambridge Study Center

Movie Reviews in the Form of Haikus

(hey that rhymed!)

(as did how it was timed:)
posted by TS @ 22:22

Diversity, Catholic-style?

Mark Stricherz at Get Religion
Before Vatican II, when all Masses were said in Latin, each urban ethnic group had its own parish. A German Catholic parish would be around the block from an Italian Catholic one. Wasn’t the local diocese diverse but its parishes not so?

After Vatican II, when the Mass was generally said in the vernacular, each ethnic group attends a service at which its native language is said. ... Isn’t the local parish diverse but its services not so?

Big Sister is Watching You

by Whittaker Chambers, National Review, December 28, 1957, pp. 594-596, reviewing Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

The Abridged Atlas Shrugged by Colin Ferm

Atlas Shrugged 2: One Hour Later by Stephen Notley

P.S. Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism, by Harriet Rubin, The New York Times, September 15, 2007

(via Althouse)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bishops Listecki, Morlino oppose emergency contraception bill

Franz Klein quotes his article in today's LaCrosse Catholic Times.

You might recall September 6, 2007 testimony on Assembly Bill 377 and Senate Bill 129 presented to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics by Kim Wadas, Associate Director, Wisconsin Catholic Conference. The WCC's position was that AB377 and SB129 requiring providing emergency contraception are consistent with the U.S. Bishops' Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. The WCC took a "neutral" stance on the bills.

Madison Bishop Robert Morlino said he supported that stance only on the assumption it would not require individuals or institutions to participate in medical procedures to which they had ethical or moral objections. When a vote to amend the bill to make this explicit failed in the Wisconsin Assembly, Bishop Morlino of Madison wrote the Wisconsin Legislature.
The hoped-for effect of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference’s earlier stance of neutrality on this bill was to protect women who are the victims of rape, while also protecting the possible pre-born human being, by affirming the necessary conscience exemption for institutions and individuals with regard to the appropriate testing, so as to avoid abortifacient emergency contraception. It is my judgment as Bishop of Madison that the earlier position of neutrality did not have its hoped for effect, and so it is now moot, and this neutrality position has now expired.

Interviewed by Mr. Klein, LaCrosse Bishop Jerome Listecki explained his joining Bishop Morlino in opposition to the bill. That's the bishops of two of out of five Wisconsin dioceses.
Contacted by The Catholic Times, WCC executive director John Huebscher said the Catholic Conference is retaining its current stance of neutrality. “We respect the concerns raised in (Bishop Morlino’s) letter,” he said. “They certainly underscore the passion of the bishops in affirming human life. At the same time, the Catholic Conference has not changed its position on the bill.”

Heubscher added that there are no plans to revisit the matter as a conference.

What, I wonder, does it take to get something on the WCC agenda.
Heubscher said the WCC’s neutrality is based on the unanimous opinion of the state’s diocesan attorneys that a current conscience exemption contained in Wisconsin Statue [sic] 253.09 would allow Catholic hospitals and individual physicians to “opt out” of the possibly abortion-inducing treatment the legislation would require.

That section of the Wisconsin Statutes says in subsection (1),
No hospital shall be required to admit any patient or to allow the use of the hospital facilities for the purpose of performing a sterilization procedure or removing a human embryo or fetus. A physician or any other person who is a member of or associated with the staff of a hospital, or any employee of a hospital in which such a procedure has been authorized, who shall state in writing his or her objection to the performance of or providing assistance to such a procedure on moral or religious grounds shall not be required to participate in such medical procedure...

The Bishops' lawyers, presumably, have advised there are good grounds for saying "emergency contraception" is included within "removing a human embryo". Patrick McIlheran points out a couple of the bills' supporters assert "There is no medical evidence that emergency contraception ends a pregnancy." It all depends, of course, on what the meaning of "embryo" and the meaning of "pregnancy" is. I'd like to know more about the basis of the Wisconsin Bishops' lawyers' unanimous certainty. In Franz's article, one of the clients is not so sure.
While Bishop Listecki shares the lawyers’ opinion, he said he was breaking from the Catholic Conference’s stance of neutrality because “even legal opinions fall to (legislative) decisions that go contrary.”

To say nothing of court decisions.
According to Bishop Morlino, the fact that so many anti-life legislators refused to vote for an earlier version of the bill that included a conscience exemption amendment indicates that they consider the protection offered by Statute 253.09 to be inapplicable to the present situation. “If this were assured, there would be no reason why the Assembly would have rejected conscience clause exemption protection for the reasons they gave,” the bishop wrote.
In addition to the two bishops,
Pro-Life Wisconsin legislative director Matt Sande agreed. He said in a Catholic Times interview that the current conscience clause contained in Statue 253.09 was “intended to keep physicians and hospital employees from being forced to participate in sterilizations and surgical abortions.” “It’s not going to be enough. That’s our opinion,” he said.
His opinion is, at least, more consistent with what the statute literally says.

(via Dad29)

P.S. This brings to mind John Huebscher's "Eye on the Capitol" column in the spring of 2001 asserting Campaign reform won't hurt pro-life. He wrote as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, described as "the civil arm of the state's five diocesan bishops", but,
First, a disclaimer. In my spare time, I serve on the Board of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, an organization that supports the cause of campaign finance reform. So I do have a bias on the issue.
There's an opposing view.
Some of my friends in the pro-life movement suggest that reform may pose difficulties for the pro-life cause.

If you take a look at the Wisconsin Bishops' June 2000 statement Renewing Participation in Public Life: A Call for Campaign Finance Reform, you'll notice that two out of the sixteen footnotes cite Wisconsin Democracy Campaign news releases. The Campaign now cites pro-life groups among the examples of the type of effort its version of campaign finance reform is meant to thwart. You might recall it claimed Bishop Morlino violated campaign finance laws.

It's as if Mr. Huebscher had the Wisconsin Bishops lobbying for him, rather than the other way around.

Re: Anonymous No More

Robert T. Miller at First Things responds to a request from Ryan T. Anderson for more information on theologian Karl Rahner's idea of the "Anonymous Christian".
The traditional view tilts strongly towards the idea that salvation outside the visible Church is rare and difficult and that membership in the visible Church is often the determining factor between salvation and damnation. The modern--I might say Rahnerian--view tilts strongly in favor of the idea that salvation outside the visible Church is commonplace and membership inside the visible Church is only a small help at the margin.

How small is it? Big enough to be used to justify the payroll and overhead but still small enough that people on the payroll have little or no discernible interest in evangelization. (See this earlier post)

Merchants find fair trade marketing a win-win situation

Our Archdiocese of Milwaukee selected as its feature article this by Amy Guckeen from the December 13, 2007 issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald. Among those interviewed was
Steve Braun, owner of Fair Grounds Coffeehouse, who was educated in Catholic schools, including Catholic Memorial High School and Marquette University...

who, despite that education, said
“Coffee is like the second most traded commodity in the world. It’s made in Third World countries and First World countries drink it. I wanted to support the communities that make the coffee and make sure the farmer can support himself and his family.”
I notice he leaves out the Second World; didn't it go out of business using a variation of this theory of non-market pricing? It happens that these questions come up in P. J. O'Rourke's review of Starbucked by Taylor Clark.
Is “Fair Trade” coffee rather than Starbucks coffee the answer to the third-world coffee growers’ plight? In the first place, Starbucks is the largest international purveyor of Fair Trade coffee, 18 million pounds of it in 2006. And in the second place, no. As of the book’s writing, Fair Trade contracts guaranteed a price of $1.26 per pound ($1.31 if organic) as opposed to free market prices that have fallen as low as 41 1/2 cents per pound in recent years. But applicants for those fair market contracts “must obey a structure of rules that often seems more like a socialist wish list than a structure designed to help growers,” Clark writes. “All aspiring farms must be small, family-run plots that are part of democratic, worker-owned cooperatives. Private ownership and capitalist practices are completely off limits — even hiring day laborers can take your farm out of the running.”

It turns out the villain behind low coffee prices is right in the third world itself. Vietnam has been dumping tons of pittance-price coffee beans on the market. And they are the stinky, bad-truck-stop robusta variety beans, not the yummy, hippie-living-room arabica type.

When Clark suggests what we should do for impoverished coffee growers, he does so with the same spark of insight about market freedoms that must have once flashed upon the young Adam Smith: “Demand the best-tasting coffee you can get.”

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christopher Marlowe

Recommended reading:
by Christopher Marlowe at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Marlowe's Anti-Heroes by Eve Tushnet, review of Tamburlaine and Edward II, Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, DC, Weekly Standard, December 31, 2007

A Brawler and a Spy, review by John Simon of The World of Christopher Marlowe by David Riggs, New York Times, January 2, 2005

St. Alphonsus Parish Council Minutes October 1, 2007

You might recall that almost three years ago I noted that our Parish Council wasn't consistently making its minutes available to parishioners. That changed soon after, when its minutes weren't made available at all. So back in May, I raised the issue. Between you and me, I then said to myself that if the minutes were again available by year's end, then I would fill out the 2008 pledge card. And lo, last Sunday, there some were on the bulletin board in the church foyer.

Under School Technology Committee was
Desire/need for website to be better communication tool for parish. Council to get back to [committee chair(?)] next month with plan of action.
The parish website includes a page for the Parish Council. It looks like they stopped distributing hard copies of their minutes with the idea they would post minutes in pdf, but then didn't.

On the Faith In Our Future fund drive
archdiocese appeal--parishes required to participate within 2 years. St. Al's will be in the final wave.

Which might be of some concern, given this from the Pastor's Report.
Collections slowly dwindling but still above budget. Attendance statistics to be reviewed.

Speaking of attendance, there's this on the parish's participation in the new archdiocesan program for that.
Living Our Faith--reaching out & increasing membership begins 12/1/07.

12/1/07 Living Our Faith program begins
12/2/07 Profession of Faith omitted from Sunday Mass

African American Catholic perspective offered

Cheri Mantz reported in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, December 6, 2007,on the Brother Booker Ashe Lay Ministry Program at St. Martin de Porres Parish. [stats D13 3rd/13 56%] It is
"...a program for African American Catholics who want to be ministers within their parishes, especially in central city parishes," said Franciscan Sister of Little Falls, Minn., Callista Robinson, the program's coordinator.

Schauneille Allen, who is also Director of our Archdiocese's African American Ministry office, is an instructor in the program and member of its planning committee.
"It's important because it helps in the development and education and formation of lay leaders in the black community, coming from a perspective of black spirituality which is something that has not been duplicated through other venues in the diocese," Allen explained.

It's separate from our Archdiocese's recently-established adult formation program.
"It's not part of the John Paul II Center because the concentration is in black spirituality, which has not been addressed by any other programs in the diocese at this point," said Allen.

One of the students interviewed was Joe Treptow.
"I would like to get more involved in the church and do more ministry in the black Catholic church," he said.


"..."This course is to train people to do lay ministry work in the black Catholic Church, so even if someone doesn't belong to the black Catholic Church, they could certainly benefit from it. ..."

The article might have benefited from a sidebar with more background on exactly what people mean by black spirituality and the black Catholic church.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

In a one horse open sleigh

My Great Grandpa and Great Grandma Berres near their farm in Marathon County, Wisconsin, circa 1910.

Monday, December 24, 2007

'A Christmas Album' (1967)

Oh, Ms. Streisand, I can't stay mad at you.

Hands off Christmas, say religious leaders

Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ. --Bart Simpson

Paul Majendie reported for Reuters from London.
"It's time to stop being daft about Christmas. It's fine to celebrate and it's fine for Christ to be star of the show," said Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.


"Hindus celebrate Christmas too. It's a great holiday for everyone living in Britain," said Anil Bhanot, general secretary of the UK Hindu Council.

Sikh spokesman Indarjit Singh said: "Every year I am asked 'Do I object to the celebration of Christmas?' It's an absurd question. As ever, my family and I will send out our Christmas cards to our Christian friends and others."


Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Shayk Ibrahim Mogra said "To suggest celebrating Christmas and having decorations offends Muslims is absurd. Why can't we have more nativity scenes in Britain?" ...

(via Daniel Pulliam at Get Religion)

A Child who changes everything

St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church (WELS) here in Franklin sent a postcard invitation to Christmas services.

Victory of the Lamb Lutheran Church (WELS) sent another card, titled "Discover Christmas Eve", an invition to the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.

They're bulk mail, so not a personal invitation.


A Circle of Faith Grows in Unexpected Ways

In yesterday's New York Times, Peter Applebome reported from Larchmont on Rev. Benedict J. Groeschel's forty-five year tradition of Christmas dinner, food and gifts for poor families around New York City.
He figures Christmas has long been in a struggle between the sacred and the temporal, between charity and marketing, tensions that are particularly out of whack now. But then that’s true in our society overall, where the notion of service to the poor that is the focus of the order he helped start seems as quaint as friars in cassocks.

C. S. Lewis

I believe in Purgatory..., from Letters To Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer,, by C.S.Lewis, chapter 20, paragraphs 7-10, pages 108-109, at Holy Souls Crusade (via New Advent)

She relates much that is familiar about Lewis’s life and a little that is less well known, concentrating on his childhood traumas and his adult friendship with J. R .R. Tolkien, who considered Narnia “a disgracefully slapdash creation,” Miller writes, rather than the kind of painstaking self-enclosed world he created in Lord of the Rings. --Gregory Maguire, Young Love, The New York Times, December 19, 2008, review of The Magician's Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia, by Laura Miller

What Would Jack Do? The Japery column, New Pantagruel, December 2, 2004

C.S. Lewis and Mother Kirk: Why Lewis was a Protestant, by S.M. Hutchens, Books & Culture, November/December 2004

Lewis biography takes an honest approach, review by Kevin O'Kelly of C.S. Lewis: A Life, by Michael White, Boston Globe, November 3, 2004

When Worldviews Collide, by Armand Nicholi, Jr., at Leadership U.

Why There Are Seven Chronicles of Narnia: British scholar discovers hidden design of C.S. Lewis' perennially popular series, by John Wilson, Books and Culture, April 25, 2003

Lewis Reimagined, review by Alan Jacobs of C. S. Lewis Then and Now, by Wesley Kort, First Things, March 2002

A labour of loathing: The worship of Philip Pullman, who has set out to destroy Narnia, by Peter Hitchens, Spectator, January 18, 2003

He Draws Them to Him: C. S. Lewis converted. Now he converts, by Gina R. Dalfonzo, Guest Comment, National Review Online, December 21, 2002

Narnia books attacked as racist and sexist: Philip Pullman dismisses work of C S Lewis as blatant religious propaganda, by John Ezard, The Guardian, June 3, 2002

Lewis Remembered, by Gilbert Meilaender, First Things August/September 1999

C. S. Lewis in the Public Square, by Richard John Neuhaus, First Things, December 1998

C. S. Lewis on Mere Science, by M. D. Aeschliman, First Things, October, 1998

The Darkside of Narnia by Philip Pullman, The Guardian, October 1, 1998, republished by Richard James at The Cumberland River Lamp Post

The Everyday C.S. Lewis, by Gilbert Meilaender, First Things, August/September 1998

The Second Coming of C. S. Lewis, by Alan Jacobs, First Things, November 1994

The Newtape File: I, First Things, March 1993
The Newtape File: II, First Things, April 1993
The Newtape File: III, First Things, May 1993
The Newtape File: IV, First Things, June/July 1993
The Newtape File: V, First Things, August/September 1993
by Jean Bethke Elshtain

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Let us rejoice at Tony Blair's conversion

Catherine Pepinster in The Telegraph longer an MP [Member of Parliament] and having said during his reception: "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God" ...

As the saying goes, welcome aboard the Barque of Peter. Now start bailing!

(via Robert P. Imbelli at dotCommonweal)

Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon

Recommended reading:
by Buffon at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews): Buffon, the Enlightenment sensation by Matthew Cobb, review of Oeuvres by Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, edited by Stephane Schmitt and Cedric Cremiere, and Oeuvres Completes, I: Histoire naturelle, generale et particuliere, avec la description du Cabinet du Roy – Tome I (1749) by Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, edited by Stephane Schmitt and Cedric Cremiere, Times Literary Supplement, December 19, 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

For man of God, it's about people

Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on yesterday's ordination of William P. Callahan as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

"Our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald for December 20, 2007 included a special section with print-only content on Bishop Callahan. Amy Guckeen reported in the story "Basilica renovation a labor of love" on then-Father Callahan's overseeing the 1994-2001 restoration of the Basilica of St. Josaphat.
New light fixtures were fabricated to replicate the originals, thanks to the sneaky hand of Bishop Callahan, who, as an associate pastor of the basilica in 1977, hid an original light fixture in the basilica attic for fear of it being thrown away, only to unearth it at a timely meeting.

I wonder if that attic has anything else that was thrown away in the seventies that turned out to be better than what was kept.

Brian T. Olszewski reported that the new "Auxiliary will spend first three months learning archdiocese". Then,
The ordination of Bishop Callahan also makes it possible for the bishops to do pastoral visits of parishes--what Archbishop Dolan termed "systematic, canonical visitations" in which the bishops go the parishes, celebrate Masses, and meet with parishioners, staff, parish council, school personnel and others. They also review the parish records.

"Within seven years I would like to do a systematic visit of every parish in the archdiocese," the archbishop said.

I've heard these visits included a bishop spending the weekend in the rectory, if you remember rectories.

An unattributed article, "Archdiocese's auxiliary bishops diverse, talented group", included this on Bishop Leo Brust,auxiliary 1969 to 1995. He had served as chancellor from 1948 to 1969.
From his chancery experience, Bishop Brust knew every priest and property in the archdiocese. He had been one of the quiet planners of archdiocesan growth. Pouring over telephone company utility data, Bishop Brust carefully plotted the areas where parishes and schools would be built, personally surveyed the land, often after Masses on Sunday, and then arranged for its purchase. In that capacity, Bishop Brust helped direct the suburban growth of the archdiocese.

Today planning has grown a bit more complicated.

Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Episode #4

This week, all four candles are burning on the Advent wreath and the Christmas tree is up and decorated.

Bob Dolan asks if his gift from his brother, Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, is under the Archbishop's tree. Banter about it being the bottle-shaped gift. [I've heard our Archbishop indicate he likes an occasional sip of Jack Daniels; don't know Bob's preference.] Our Archbishop tries to keep to tradition, decorating his tree [for real, not for the show] Christmas Eve and keeping it up through Epiphany. [I'd like that too, but lost on a 1-1 vote.] He's peeved to see Christmas trees out on the curb December 26th. [Maybe we could recycle the fraser firs, if any local churches use the Julian calendar.]

Our Archbishop says every Mass is like, or sort of, a rebirth of Christ. [He clarifies this in his closing reflection, but it might have been a go place for a retake.] His favorite Masses include the Christmas vigil, midnight Mass, Easter vigil, Ordinations, and the Chrism Mass.

Introducing the next segment on unwed and homeless mothers, Bob notes how the Blessed Virgin Mary was homeless. [Also clarified later, but another candidate for a retake.]

Prepared segment. In 1908 our Archdiocese founded a maternity hospital for unwed mothers. The women stayed there under pseudonyms. For today, they show us Rosalie Manor. Southeastern Wisconsin, they say, had one of the nation's highest rates of teen pregnancy. One single mother interviewed on camera says she'll wait until she's married next time

Lead-ins to commercial breaks now are a bible verse on a background of snowy branches. [A nice touch.]

We're back. Our Archbishop talks about the BVM at the first Christmas, with an untimely pregnancy and away from home. [Untimely in the world's eyes goes without saying? I suppose. At least the Nativity escapes the "plight of the homeless" template.] When he celebrated Christmas Mass at Wisconsin's womens' prison last year, his homily cited Mary as model of faith under life's challenges. He said that seemed to connect with the women inmates.

After commercials, we're back. [Will our Archbishop say "There's no place like Rome for the holidays"? ...Yes!] This week's guest is Monsignor Roger Roensch. The Monsignor is coming up on the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest. He assists people making pilgrimages to Rome. For example, he helps get tickets for the Papal Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. Apparently these are overbooked; 15,000 people might come, and the capacity is about 9,000. So arrive early if you want to get in. Less crowded alternatives for pilgrims are the Sunday before when there is the papal blessing of the infant Jesus figures for Rome's creches, the pope's Christmas Day Urbi et Orbi address, and the January 1st World Day of Peace. The creche in St. Peter's Square stays up until the Presentation, February 2nd. [The only time I was in Rome was later in February, Pope John Paul II was visiting Africa, and there was plenty of room at Sunday Mass in St. Peter's. As a souvenir, I bought a picture postcard showing the Basilica and Square after one of Rome's rare snowfalls.]

After commercials, we're back. Bob asks our Archbishop's favorite gifts given and received. One year, before Bob was born, Tim had about $1.70 for gifts. [The question comes up about Mom and Dad wanting to borrow it. Now that they mention it, I still think my First Communion money went to help finish paving the driveway.] He bought something for his Mom and sister and only had about 3 cents left. He went to Dad, who said if everyone else was taken care of, that was enough of a Christmas gift for him. Bob asks if 3 cents wasn't enough for Dad's usual Old Spice and cream drops. [Mr. Dolan seems to be part Mr. Parker and part Mr. Cleaver. If that's too good to be true, there are worse thing than your boys describing you that way.] As for gifts received, he recalled getting a bike and a baseball glove. [Some years back, though not for Christmas, I once asked someone to anonymously deliver him a can of real Budweiser.]

Bob recalled a year the two of them delivered hams to the needy for their parish, though Bob thinks between them they ate one of the hams in the process.

Emailed questions. Should Advent be more penitential, like Lent? While Advent and Lent are both preparatory, Advent is not so dramatically penitential. [I'd cite that kids would give up chocolate for Lent, and have a chocolate-a-day Advent calendar.]

Another emails asks about Midnight Mass before midnight. There are some literally Midnight Masses, at the Cathedral for example, but pastors tell him somewhat earlier makes it possible for more people to attend.

After commericials we're back with a closing reflection by our Archbishop. Rather that spending Christmas, or having Christmas, live Christmas. Christmas is not just history, it happens now, when Christ is reborn in the hearts of those who believe in Him. Mary was asked if through her Christ would be made flesh and brought into the world, and so, in another sense, are we.

Next week New Year's resolutions, Bob's, our Archbishop's, and the Church's. Special guest, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.

Merry Solstice 2007!

from The People's Cube.

(Locally, Mass in anticipation of the Solstice was December 16th.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

I Wonder as I Wander

A reader suggested this Franciscan Sisters Christmas Hymn music video

Dolan takes on several tasks

Tom Heinen reports in the December 15, 2007 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan has
been appointed board chairman of Catholic Relief Services, an agency with an international staff of about 4,000 and an annual budget of more than $500 million. It is the conference's official overseas relief and development agency.

Perhaps he could consider separating policy advocacy from providing services. Otherwise people who thought their donation was going to "relief" might be less inclined to give in the future after they learn some of their money went to lobbying.

Be Heard! Final Results

Tanya Ruder of the Franklin Public Schools lists the four questions discussed at the school districts recent listening sessions on the unsuccessful school construction financing referendum, and 57 responses. The responses, even though numbered, are listed "in no particular order". The last response listed might, for all we know, have been the most commonly given. The responses are not even grouped to indicate the question to which each responded. Seems pointless, except perhaps to mark off "citizen input" on someone's checklist.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Grimes Defense

I think it’s time we identified and warned against what I’ll call the Grimes Defense: If an argument has been exaggerated a little bit for effect, we can throw it out--baby, bathwater, and even the soap scum of lingering doubt. --Stefan Beck


Americans Express Their Views of the Virgin Birth of Christ

The Barna Group conducted a survey on belief in what it called "stories" in the Bible. In the headline example,
A majority of all but one of the sixty population subgroups studied in the research took the virgin birth at face value. The exception was atheists and agnostics (among whom just 15% said this really happened).

This is in at least some sense a Christian nation if 15% of our atheists and agnostics believe in the literal truth of the Virgin Birth of Christ.

(via Five Feet of Fury)

GodTube's virtual flock

Tom Heinen interviewed Chris Wyatt, founder and CEO of GodTube, a Christian "video-sharing and social-networking site" for the December 15, 2007 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Q:Is there anything significant about GodTube that is being overlooked?

A: A lot of attention gets paid to the growth of the Web site. A quarter of a million people, approximately, have signed up to our social network, and we launched it (about two months) ago.

That's pretty significant. Who it is, I think, is even more significant. We have about 25,000 churches that are signed up. It's individuals and pastors.

So, really, we are acting as the infrastructure for a lot of churches right now in terms of their online video and delivering their online content.

I think that's really important. People aren't picking up on the fact that a good portion of the 800,000 hours of video that we have is being uploaded by churches and embedded into their church Web site or their church blog.

There must, somewhere, be pastors and church staffers who read blogs and think to themselves, Why couldn't we do that for our church. Somewhere.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Birth, death and shopping

The rise and fall of the shopping mall

The Economist, December 19, 2007

Pullman our legs

I attribute the poor U.S. box office of The Golden Compass to its modeling Fra Pavel (Simon McBurney) after The Parson (Henry Gibson) in Rowen & Martin's Laugh-in.

What Would Jesus Buy?

Reviewed by Noel Murray in the A.V. Club
...Since [Director Rob] Van Alkemade has no apparent interest in exploring the irony of a fictional character sermonizing about Americans "inability to distinguish between real life and simulated life", all we can do is take it at face value when Reverend Billy preaches to a movie audience of... Well, not the converted, exactly. Call them the smugly complacent.

New churches symbolize hope in future

So says Archbishop Timothy Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald of December 6, 2007.
Just recently I had three: Last Sunday at Holy Family in Fond du Lac; the Sunday before at Blessed Savior in the northwestern section of our city; a month or so ago out at St. Paul in Genesee Depot.

The consecration at Holy Family was reported by Amy Guckeen in the same issue, Holy Family Church is 'new beginning' in Fond du Lac.
The new building includes signs and symbols from the six churches that have become Holy Family - Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, St. Mary, St. Peter, St. Patrick, and St. Louis, which was destroyed by fire in March.

Blessed Savior Church was formed from the merger of four parishes (see this earlier post). The merged parishes' new churches might be a symbol of hope, but the quality of that hope might be affected by noting they were built as a result of consolidating ten parishes into two.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


From the Wikipedia entry on Google's planned online encyclopedia.
Each Knol article will be written by a single author, and other users can edit it only with permission from the author.[citations omitted] Readers may rate or comment on the articles. There can also be multiple articles for the same topic, each written by a different author.

Stand by, roll tape

Cheri Mantz reports in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, December 6, 2007, on the making of Archbishop Timothy Dolan's Living Our Faith television show.
Just about all of the segments in each episode are filmed in one take. It is very rare to have to re-shoot something. In a full day of filming, the word "cut" was never uttered.

I'm still hoping for a blooper reel.

A Return to Tradition

Jay Tolson in the cover article of the latest U.S. News & World Report
Put simply, the development is a return to tradition and orthodoxy, to past practices, observances, and customary ways of worshiping. But it is not simply a return to the past—at least not in all cases. Even while drawing on deep traditional resources, many participants are creating something new within the old forms. They are engaging in what Penn State sociologist of religion Roger Finke calls "innovative returns to tradition."

P.S. Here's an example of the innovations.
An independent, nondenominational church of some 600 members, Trinity Fellowship is not the only evangelical congregation that is offering a weekly Eucharist, saying the Nicene or Apostles' creeds, reading the early Church Fathers, or doing other things that seem downright Roman Catholic or at least high Episcopalian.

Those are only generalizations about Catholic churches, of course. In the years I've been at St. Al's, I couldn't vouch for our saying the Creed at Sunday Mass more often than not. The only times I recall hearing anything about the Church Fathers was when I'm teaching Sunday School. Next thing you know the nearby Baptist Church will be proselytizing by promising the Confiteor, the Gloria in Ordinary Time, and kneeling.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Medicine Bag

A reader noted Cora Spangler's short essay for school about her late aunt, Karen Marie Knapp.

(via More Last than Star)

A resolution for new liturgical year

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 29, 2007
This coming year, I want to trumpet three exciting, promising, and important pastoral initiatives in the life of our archdiocese: Living Our Faith, strategic planning for the years ahead, and the Faith in Our Future Capital Campaign.

So don't say you weren't warned.
The Living Our Faith project demands nothing dramatically new, no added committees or forms to fill out. It is a concentration on what we do best as the church: to meet, know, and live Jesus Christ!

Yet even though he acknowledges that committees and forms are impediments to internal evangelization, the other two initiatives look like they will involve more of both.
Then there's our planning endeavor, led by Fr. Jim Connell. Do, in fact, all of our parishes, schools, services, and diocesan structures clearly and effectively assist us to meet, know, and live Christ?

Obviously not, or there'd be no need for the Living Our Faith initiative.
...we ask if we as the church in southeastern Wisconsin are as organized, effective, sharp, and responsive as we should be?

In recent decades I don't recall our Archdiocese often cited as an example of being organized, effective, sharp, and responsive at all.
These are all pointed questions on which Fr. Connell is concentrating. He's meeting with everybody from janitors to deans. And he's a dog with a bone.

The process now has the name Vision: 21st Century Planning. At the linked site you'll see
After more than 15 years and three cycles of archdiocesan planning initiatives, we find ourselves at the dawn of a new millennium in need of a comprehensive plan for Mission and Ministry.

Almost makes one wonder what was accomplished in those preceding 15 years.

Our Archbishop goes on.
Finally, like it or not, to engage people in the adventure of a lifetime - meeting, knowing, and living Christ in and with his church - costs a lot of money!

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free, but not for free.
Catholic education and faith formation, carried out with excellence and precision, forming and changing lives, is expensive.

Maybe there's an accountability problem that's lead to the money problem.
Thus, our Faith in the Future Capital Campaign, forming us in stewardship, bringing us together as Catholics, raising much needed resources for our parishes and the wider church, is essential.

As he said earlier, it's actually the Faith in Our Future campaign. If you read its mission statement and goals, $63 million of the funds to be raised would be distributed to parishes based on what sound like grant applications. This will involve those committee meetings and filling out forms that our Archbishop seemed to acknowledge have been a factor in sucking the life out of our parishes. Which makes this seem like ... bad planning.

Even more basically, though, our Archbishop says,
Tomorrow, our children and grandchildren may have lost the "pearl of great price," their Catholic faith.

That indicates a problem that won't be solved spending more money on religious education as it's been done for that last couple of generations.

Testimony in Support of SB 195 - School Activities Leave

by Kim Wadas, Associate Director, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, to the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Education on December 6, 2007.
The Wisconin Catholic Conference strongly supports Senate Bill 195, which allows employees to take leave from work to attend a child's day care or school functions.

By "allows" she means requires employers to allow.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Singers perform charming hybrids

Tom Strini in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews last night's performance by the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble at the Chapel of St. Joseph's Center.
The seven San Antonians, building on the scholarship of Sheila Raney Baird and Robert Stevenson, sang and played a program of 16th and 17th century Spanish-Indian and Spanish-African crossover Christmas music.

Soprano Kathy Mayer, alto Tanya Moczygemba, baritone Christopher Moroney, alto Covita Moroney, tenor Jody Noblett, tenor Lee P'Pool and soprano Sonya Yamin brought a large battery of African and South American ocarinas, flutes, drums, shakers, pitched stones and scrapers to bear upon this music.

Among the other instruments were deer antlers, but it was the pitched stones that got people curious. Christopher Moroney told audience members at intermission that he found pitched stones in a dry stream bed near his home in San Antonio. He'd strike stones with another, some would ring out, and he'd select those that had a pitch he needed.

The pitched stones were each about the size of a man's shoe. To play them, he had them spread in a small semicircle on a small blanket on the floor, and knelt and struck them with smaller pitchless stones, one in each hand. We overestimated how much yesterday's snow storm would add to our travel time, and arrived so early we wound up in the front pew, so were among the few that could see him play during the concert.

This I Believe

Paul Lauritzen at dotCommonweal.
I’m guessing that a fair number of Commonwealers have enjoyed the NPR series...

Update: at America magazine's In All Things weblog, This I Believe too (or II)
Author: Helen Prejean, CSJ

This essay aired as a commentary on NPR...

John Updike

As heroes go, Rabbit isn’t much. A 26-year-old father and husband who spends his days pitching kitchen equipment and his nights dealing with a sullen, drunken wife, his youth is fading fast, and with it, any real chance for glory. So one afternoon, as much on a whim as anything, he flees. The closest thing he can give for a reason is that his wife, Janice, asked for cigarettes after he told her he’d decided to quit; it’s partly that, and it’s partly because he thinks she’s an idiot. But Rabbit isn’t much for introspection. He’s not all that smart. It seems like he doesn’t really understand why he’s running—he just does it because it’s something he can do. --Zack Handlen, Better Late Than Never? A.V. Club, March 6, 2009, review of Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

Updike wasn't predictable, nor dependable in the quality of his novels but he was a gift. It's sad to think of a world without new Updike novels. --TS, Appreciating Appreciation, Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor, February 6, 2009 its best, Mr Updike’s writing represented the experience of his own generation of silent Americans—men, especially, who grew up in the shadow of the second world war and God-fearing austerity, only to find themselves bemused participants in the swinging sixties and the decades of consumer excess. --The Economist, An American subversive, January 29, 2009

Updike's quartet of signature novels - beginning with Rabbit Run and ending with Rabbit at Rest - follow car salesman Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom from his days as a former high-school basketball star through his failing marriage and financial success to old age and decline. Rabbit is the ordinary American living his ordinary middle-class American life as major social and political events begin to change the nation. --Geeta Sharma Jensen, Updike pioneered suburban novel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 28, 2009

In addition to the Rabbit novels, the best places to start reading Updike are his short story collections (such as the expansive The Early Stories: 1953-1975) and ephemera collections (such as 2007's Due Considerations). --Noel Murray, John Updike: 1932 - 2009, A.V. Club, January 27, 2009

He has now written tens of thousands of sentences, many of them tiny miracles of transubstantiation whereby some hitherto overlooked datum of the human or natural world — from the anatomical to the zoological, the socio-economic to the spiritual — emerges, as if for the first time, in the complete­ness of its actual being. --Sam Tanenhaus, Mr. Wizard, The New York Times, October 24, 2008, review of The Widows of Eastwick, by John Updike

Flights, by Julian Barnes, The New York Review of Books, June 11, 2009, review of My Father's Tears and Other Stories, by John Updike, Endpoint and Other Poems, by John Updike, and The Maples Stories, by John Updike

The Road Home, by T. Coraghessan Boyle, The New York Times, June 5, 2009, review of My Father's Tears, by John Updike

Review by Noel Murray of Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism by John Updike, A.V. Club, December 13, 2007

A theological reminiscence by John Updike by Philip Blosser, Musings of a Pertinacious Papist, November 17, 2006 11:05 PM

The I's Have It: At 72, John Updike Still Hasn't Run Out Of Things to Write About . . . John Updike, by Linton Weeks, Washington Post, May 5, 2004

Rabbit Trails to God: John Updike has made a career of writing the most theological novels in America, by Mark A. Buchanan, Christianity Today (on-line) July 3, 2003

Talking Books: With John Updike by Steve Paulson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 26, 2003

Gossip in Gilt, review by James Wood of Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel, 'Rabbit Remembered' by John Updike, London Review of Books, April 19, 2001

Off-Centaur, by Jonathan Miller, review of The Centaur by John Updike, The New York Review of Books, February 1, 1963

Other works online:

Seven Stanzas at Easter, by John Updike, posted by Blackadder at Vox Nova, April 14, 2009, 5:28 a.m.

John Updike at The New Yorker

John Updike at The New York Review of Books

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, by John Updike, The New Yorker, October 22, 1960, at Baseball Almanac

Gertrude Stein

The press jumped at the novelty of young President [Robert] Hutchins acting as "Mr. Adler's straight man" in a course for freshmen. Visiting dignitaries often sat in on the class: actors Lillian Gish, Ethel Barrymore, and Orson Wells attended sessions, as did Eugene Meyer, publisher of the Washington Post, but none caused quite the stir that Gertrude Stein did in 1934. Skeptical of the entire endeavor to teach the Great Books (she insisted that the classics could not be understood when read in translation), Stein led a session on Homer's Odyssey. Alice B. Toklas remembered that Stein gave the students more freedom than Hutchins and Adler normally allowed, enabling the students to "formulate their own ideas." But, according to Adler, Stein abandoned the Socratic method and "harangued [the students] with extempore remarks about epic poetry which she thought up on the spot, but which none of us, including Gertrude, could understand, then or in the years to come." --Jay Satterfield, General Honors Comes to Chicago, The Great Ideas: The University of Chicago and the Ideal of Liberal Education; An Exhibition in the Department of Special Collections, The University of Chicago Library, May 1, 2002 - September 6, 2002

Husbands and Wives by Terry Castle, review of Don’t Kiss Me: The Art of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore edited by Louise Downie, and Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice by Janet Malcolm, London Review of Books, December 13, 2007

Review by McKay McFadden of Gertrude and Alice by Janet Malcolm, Bold Type, December 2007

Gertrude, Alice: The mystery of their 'marriage' by David Walton, review of Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice by Janet Malcolm, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 2, 2007

Review by Richard J. Murphy of Gertrude Stein: The Language that Rises: 1923-1934 by Ulla E. Dydo with William Rice, and Irresistible Dictation: Gertrude Stein and the Correlations of Writing and Science by Steven Meyer, Review of Contemporary Fiction, Vol. XXIV, No. 1

The sense of Gertrude Stein review by Donald Lyons of the two-volume Gertrude Stein published by the Library of America, edited by Catharine R. Stimpson and Harriet Chessman, The New Criterion, May 1998

Tough buttons by Guy Davenport, review of A Stein Reader by Gertrude Stein, The New Criterion, November 1993

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Isaac Newton

Why may not this power which causes heavy bodies to descend, and is the same without any sensible diminution at the remotest distance from the centre of the earth, or on the summits of the highest mountains, why, said Sir Isaac, may not this power extend as high as the moon? And in case its influence reaches so far, is it not very probable that this power retains it in its orbit, and determines its motion? But in case the moon obeys this principle (whatever it be) may we not conclude very naturally that the rest of the planets are equally subject to it? In case this power exists (which besides is proved) it must increase in an inverse ratio of the squares of the distances. --Voltaire On Attraction, Letters on the English (Lettres Philosophiques) by Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire, Harvard Classics (1909–14), Vol. 34, Part 2, Bartleby

For many years the invention of this famous calculation was denied to Sir Isaac Newton. In Germany Mr. Leibnitz was considered as the inventor of the differences or moments, called fluxions, and Mr. Bernoulli claimed the integral calculus. However, Sir Isaac is now thought to have first made the discovery, and the other two have the glory of having once made the world doubt whether it was to be ascribed to him or them. --Voltaire, On Infinites in Geometry, and Sir Isaac Newton’s Chronology, Letters on the English (Lettres Philosophiques), by Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire, Harvard Classics (1909–14), Vol. 34, Part 2, Bartleby

From what cause, therefore, do colours arise in Nature? It is nothing but the disposition of bodies to reflect the rays of a certain order and to absorb all the rest. --Voltaire, On Sir Isaac Newton’s 'Optics', Letters on the English (Lettres Philosophiques), by Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire, Harvard Classics (1909–14), Vol. 34, Part 2, Bartleby

Happy Newton Day! by Richard Dawkins, New Statesman, December 13, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Isaac Newton's Gravity: How a major new exhibition gets the scientist wrong, by James Gleick, Slate, October 21, 2004

What Would Newton Do? by Phillip E. Johnson, First Things, November 1998

Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Episode #3

For Advent, I'm giving up snowboarding on freshly-fallen snow to watch.

Opening. Bob Dolan with his brother Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan in the Archbishop's home. The advent wreath with three candles burning is in the background. Bob notes there's no Christmas tree. Our Archbishop explains that's because Advent is a season of preparation for Christmas. That's why we don't see Christmas decorations in our churches. [At St. Al's, what appears to be garland on the walls all around the interior of the church, and much greenery in the sanctuary, is allegedly a giant Advent wreath.] Our Archbishop notes that many of our Christmas customs originated in Victorian England, and before that in Germany.

Segue to Jeff Jackson visiting the Sinter Klausen Christmas Markt in Germantown. The name is Dutch but the inventory is German. There's the smoking figurine incense burner, said to originate in figures of the Magi. There's a popular Advent Calendar pattern. Among the ornaments is the gherkin, from the German custom of hanging a pickle shaped ornament last, and the first kid up on Christmas morning found it and got an extra present.

Back to our Archbishop's home, where Bob asks about his Christmas traditions. He has the seminarians over just before Christmas to help decorate his tree. [Like the pre-burned Advent wreath candles, taping the shows in advance required the tree shown in the photo for the preview of next week's episode.] He celebrates Mass and has lunch with the retired priests shortly before Christmas. He visits a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. On Christmas Eve, between the evening Mass and Midnight Mass, he prays before the creche at the Cathedral. After Midnight Mass he visits a fire station.

Break, Bill O'Toole of the program underwriter, Catholic Knights Insurance. Commercials: Marquette University; Lion King at the Milwaukee Theatre; Bath Fitters.

We're back, with Fr. Don Hying, Rector, on Christmas traditions. Father Hying wears a gray cardigan over his clericals. It looks like the three of them have hot cocoa in their Living Our Faith logo mugs. Fr. Hying says the creche comes from St. Francis of Assisi, who had the scene re-enacted by his followers as a way of commemorating the Incarnation. The Advent wreath is from a pagan custom of a winter wreath as hope for spring. In the Christian adaptation, the circle of the wreath symbolizes the God is without beginning or end, the candles of coming light of Christ. The Christmas tree comes from the Druids, who used the evergreen tree as symbol of hope. This the Christians co-opted [Fr. Hying's apt term] to symbolize that God's love is ever new. The custom of gift-giving comes from the Gospel account of the Magi. Gift-giving should put us in mind of Christ as a gift from God the Father, and of everything as a gift from God,

Commercials: Catholic Knights; WOKY radio AM920; Alverno College; Potawotami Bingo Casino "miracle games" charities; Partnership for a Drug-free America; Assurant Health.

We're back, with Bob asking his brother about a Dolan Christmas story. Their Dad served in the in the Pacific during the Second World War aboard the U.S.S. Cleveland. Like many WW2 vets, he said little about the experience, but he did tell them this story. The crew heard that there would be Midnight Mass on ship. [From the ship's history, it looks like this would be Christmas 1943.] When Mass began, the celebrant was a Japanese priest. There was at first quite a bit of protest, and some sailors left. As the Mass went on, the hard feelings dissipated. When Mass was over, many of the sailors shook hands with the priest, and some had their picture taken with him. [It reminded me of the Christmas truce.]

Next some emailed questions from viewers. One asked about having baptisms at Sunday Mass; the writer preferred Baptisms be more of a family ceremony. Our Archbishop replied that there is the also public dimension of Baptism, a new member of the Church and the parish, so it's okay at some Masses. Another asked for his favorite restaurant in Rome and his favorite part of St. Peter's Basilica. I didn't catch the restaurant name. It's about three blocks from St. Peter's. Good pasta fazool. [We had one of the kids along on my only trip to Rome and were regularly at the McDonald's near the Spanish Steps.] His favorite spot in the Basilica is the tomb of St. Peter under altar, noting how it brought to mind "upon this rock". [I liked the gift shop on the roof where I bought a replacement crucifix for the rosary I inherited from my late Grandma Berres.]

Commercials: Catholic Knights; Stollenwerk Family Foundation; Time Warner Cable's Wisconsin on Demand Channnel 1111; Saint Clare Center for Ministry Formation; Lenz Auto; Froedtert Hospital PSA; Dr. Phil; Menard's; Bilt-Rite; Habush, Habush & Davis, attorneys; Lenz Auto.

We're back with closing reflections by our Archbishop. Remember the Christmas tradition of charity. Their father belonged to his parish St.Vincent DePaul Society. Before Christmas, he took young Timothy along when delivering boxes of food, clothes, and Chrismas gifts. This flows from Christ as God the Father's gift to us. The "late Great John Paul II" talked of the law of the gift; we are most truly human when we give of ourselves, give ourselves away. "See you in church."

Bob previews next week's show, includes what's being done for unwed mothers.

Brought to you by Catholic Knights, credits.

Commercials: Lion King at Milwaukee Theatre; Bath Fitter; The Exclusive Company; Channel 12 Season to Celebrate.

Solar Auxiliary Power, and other news

News first, then upcoming events

Think Priest Video
- Hear from the Seminarians, Rector Father Don Hying & Archbishop Dolan as they share their thoughts on St. Francis Seminary.
- Archbishop Dolan's shares his story on his calling to the priesthood.
- Matt Widder talks about taking on the life of a seminarian.

Capitol Update December 7, 2007
Wisconsin Catholic Conference
Contents Include:
1. WCC Opposes Changes to Rules for Abuse Claims
2. WCC Supports Bill to Criminalize Human Trafficking
3. WCC Supports Increased Funding for Public Defenders
4. WCC Supports Parental Leave for School Activities

WCC backs greater access to legal services
December 7, 2007 press release, Wisconsin Catholic Conference (on no. 3, above)

Brookfield pastor charged with possessing crack
St. John Vianney [stats D4 11th/16 33%] priest had served Weakland. By Tom Heinen. From the Dec. 12, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Advent - A Time to Learn How to Wait
This column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser ran in the December 13, 2007 issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald. "...Chastity is not, first of all, something to do with sex. ..."

Religion Briefing
From the Dec. 15, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, including "Archbishop is guest at Anglican Catholic Mass" (that's the Anglican Catholic Archbishop).

Faith and Everyday Life
by Rev. James Lobacz, Vocations Office, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, from Life Long Faith Formation Weekend. (That's everyday life with Bernard Lonergan.)

Bishop Sklba will Celebrate Mass for the Winter Solstice at Congregation of the Great Spirit [stats D14 12th/14 32%]
December 16th (Where did the year go?)

Vespers Service to Welcome Bishop-elect William P. Callahan, OFM Conv.
December 20th at Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist [stats D13 4th/13 55%]

Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Episode #4
December 22nd


Friday, December 14, 2007

Cardinal pours cold water on union with rebel (TAC) Anglican group

Republished in VirtueOnline from the[ir] Catholic Herald, London, December 6, 2007, it's some high level devangelization.
One of the Vatican's most senior cardinals has dismissed the idea that a breakaway group of Anglicans might be received into the Catholic Church en masse - despite Benedict XVI's personal support for such a move. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, told The Catholic Herald: "It's not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome."

It hasn't appeared to be policy to bring that many Catholics into the Catholic Church, let alone Anglicans. We'll see if that's changing.

(via Diogenes at Off the Record)

Update: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today issued Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization: Summary Points

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Running Out of Time?

Victory of the Lamb Lutheran Church here in Franklin sent a Christmas card with an invitation to parents to drop off the kids on Saturday afternoon while shopping.

Even in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, clergy don't have last names anymore. Here's Pastor Ben's blog.



Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., emails
Where I live in upstate New York, I've recently seen robins and bluebirds show up in the middle of winter. And this past January, a friend of mine ate asparagus he harvested in the Catskills, which are normally frozen this time of year.

Global warming is no longer a distant threat. ...

Zuzu pits

From The Dilbert Newsletter
Dear Dogbert,

My parents told me that every time I ask Santa for a gift, an angel will lose its wings. That seems like a fair arrangement to me, but is there any risk the wingless angel would fall on my head and kill me?


Dear Bent,

Wingless angels generally burn up on reentry. It’s nothing that a little shampoo can’t cure.



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Beatification of Rosmini: wonders never cease

Pertinacious Papist notes the report by Sandro Magister of Chiesa on the beatification of Antonio Rosmini, some of whose writings were under a Vatican comdemnation lifted only six years ago.
Rosmini fast tracked ahead of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman?

Do your part to right this. When you don't get along with a neighbor, pray for the Cardinal's intercession: just whisper "Newman!"

(via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor and Comment by Jordan Potter)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oshkosh senator proposes closing loophole in Peeping Tom law

Crystal Lindell reported for Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers in today's Green Bay Press-Gazette on legislation proposed by State Sen. Carol Roessler (R-Oshkosh).

(via WisPolitics)


Zahn, 84, fought for peace

Marie Rohde reported in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the death Sunday of Gordon Zahn. Among other things, he was
author of In Solitary Witness, the story of Franz Jaegerstaetter, an Austrian peasant beheaded in 1943 in a Brandenburg prison for refusing to serve in the German army during World War II.

Franz Jaegerstaetter was beatified last October.
"His was, at least to me, the real story," Zahn wrote in Commonweal [$], a Catholic magazine, in 1997. "A priest - given his calling, his education, his training - might be expected to take such a stand; but the witness of a simple peasant who had a wife and three young daughters at home deserved more intensive study."

The real story might be whether or not there is an historical basis for Mr. Zahn's expectation about who will risk his life to take such a stand.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mitt's Notes on Religion

A parody at the Weekly Standard

(via David Freddoso at The Corner)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Venezuela creates own time zone

While it's said you can't turn back the clock, President Hugo Chavez turned it back a half-hour.
But critics say the move is unnecessary and the president simply wants to be in a different time zone from his arch-rival, the United States.

The move would make more sense if his real arch-rival is Max Headroom.

(via Althouse)

Diocese splits with Episcopal Church

Jordan Robertson of the Associated Press in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Dioceses of San Joaquin voted at its annual convention to leave the Episcopal Church USA to join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Mr. Robertson sums up the issue as a "debate over the Bible and homosexuality".

In passing, I noticed this difference in scale.
The diocese serves about 8,500 parishioners in 47 congregations in central California.

That's fewer people than are on the books at St. Al's.

Bernard Malamud

Recommended reading:
by Bernard Malamud at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews): The Fixer-Upper by Lee Siegel, review of Bernard Malamud, A Writer’s Life by Philip Davis, The New York Times, December 9, 2007

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Dolan's reliever, and other news

News first, then upcoming events

Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Episode #2
"Milwaukee Brewer pitcher Jeff Suppan joins Archbishop Dolan on this week's show to talk about baseball and faith." (Couldn't watch due to conflicting instructions to put us Christmas tree and lights.)

Religion Briefing
By Tom Heinen. From the Dec. 8, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Including "New Berlin church to open labyrinth. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church [stats D4 16th/16 27%], 12700 W. Howard Ave., New Berlin, is opening its labyrinth for prayer from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Dec. 20."

Kenosha homeless shelter plans take shape
Churches, Shalom Center hope to begin construction next year. By Karen Mahoney. Special to your [sic] Catholic Herald. December 6 Catholic Herald Feature Article at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee web site. (At the moment, what was "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald's web site links to a domain registration service, as if the domain name is available.)

Advent Longing
This analogy-retentive column by Father Ron Rolheiser ran in the December 6, 2007 issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald.

Testimony in Support of SB 195 - School Activities Leave [2 pp. pdf]
December 6th, by Kim Wadas, Associate Director, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, to the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Education

Testimony in Support of AB 544 - Human Trafficking [pdf]
December 5th by Barbara Sella, Assistant Director, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, to the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice

Testimony in Support of SB 321 - Eligibility for State Public Defenders [2 pp. pdf]
December 4th by Barbara Sella, Assistant Director, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, to the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections and Housing

Christianity Is Not For Wimps! [6 pp. pdf]
by Rev. James Lobacz, Vocations Office, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, from Life Long Faith Formation Weekend. (All are wel-elcome, all are wel-elcome, all are wel-elcome, 'cept...the...wimps.)

A Curriculum for Becoming Human with Dr. Michael Downey
December 13th "keynote speaker for the newly-inaugurated Kendall Lecture Series at Cardinal Stritch University".

Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Episode #3
December 15th on Milwaukee's Channel 12


Church Documents: U.S.

See Church Documents and Church Documents: Milwaukee

Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship [87 pp. pdf] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 14, 2007
(via Charlotte was Both)

Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord: A Resource for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry [70 pp. pdf] (2005) United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Fourth Edition, June 15, 2001, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

General Instruction of the Roman Missal Including Adaptations for the Dioceses of the United States of America (2003), Committee on Divine Worship [also in pdf)

A Chronicle of the Reform: Catholic Music in the 20th Century, by Msgr. Richard J. Schuler; Cum Angelis Canere: Essays on Sacred Music and Pastoral Liturgy in Honour of Richard J. Schuler, Robert A. Skeris, ed., St. Paul MN: Catholic Church Music Associates, 1990, Appendix 6, pp. 349-419. Originally published in Sacred Music in seven parts. (via Dad29)

The Catholic Encyclopedia (1917), at New Advent

Baltimore Catechism (1885), The Online Books Page

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Time to change parishes?

I hadn't realized changing parishes was being encouraged, but there it was in Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck's "Training Wheels" column in the Parenting supplement to the November 29, 2007 issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald (print only).

After some other switches, they sought a parish "that had a population of white, Puerto Rican and African American members" to match her family's demographics, "plus good music and a vibrant priest". About a year ago they chose St. Francis of Assisi Church [stats D13 9th/13 43%].
Due to the 10-minute long Sign of Peace that allows for chatting and introductions, we've gotten to know about a dozen parishioners.

They might not be there every week, since they also remained members of St. Monica Church [stats D11 11th/11 21%]. St. Francis reported average Sunday attendance of 293 divided among three Masses. With those numbers, after a year of 10 minutes of mid-Mass socializing, I'm surprised they don't know everyone at Mass, rather than a dozen people. (Her family's dual membership makes me wonder if they're double-counted in reported parish membership, and also if that's factored into calculating attendance percentages.)

Now that there are parish-shopping tips in our Archdiocesan newspaper, maybe I'll have to reconsider my resistance to that idea.

Some of Ms. Scobey-Polacheck's past column have been collected in book form as Discovering Motherhood.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Twice in One Day: Senator Obama Tries Rewriting History, Again Claims He Hasn't Been Planning White House Run

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has said he is "not running [for president] to fulfill some long held plans". In this December 2, 2007 press release, the presidental campaign of Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) reports evidence to the contrary. The results of an in-depth investigation include this shocking revelation.
In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want to Become President.' [their emphasis]

(via Eduardo Penalver at dotCommonweal)

They think they have right on their side

Wonder what Iran is doing with its nuclear program? The Economist reported the Iranians might not know, either.
Practically speaking, it makes little sense. Iran has poured an estimated $10 billion into building a complete, home-grown nuclear industry, yet it has just one nuclear power plant, the Russian-built Bushehr reactor, due to come on stream next year. The same money could have built ten conventional plants of the same capacity, fired solely by the natural gas that Iran currently flares off into the sky, because it has not invested in the technology to recover it.

How much natural gas is flared off in oil production? I found this presentation on Global Warming Benefits of World Natural Gas Market [23 pp. pdf] which says (p. 20),
Roughly 5 percent of rest-of-world natural gas flared off versus
1 percent of US natural gas production in 1999 ...

Amount natural gas flared off in 1999 outside of US was roughly equal to California’s annual demand for natural gas

Saying "Bushehr" might be even funnier in Farsi than some will find it in English, but $10 billion funnier?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Backlash Against Tithing

Suzanne Sataline reported in the November 23, 2007 Wall Street Journal.

At St. Al's, the suggested giving has been 10% of income, half to the parish, half to other Church causes. The parish's debt reduction campaign suggests we, in addition, match our regular donations to the parish. If the suggested regular donation to the parish is 5%, then that's another 5%.

The Archdiocese's upcoming Capital Campaign hopes to raise in three years an amount equal to what parishes receive in ordinary giving in one year. That doesn't say how the campaign's suggested donation will be described. If we assume 1 2/3% (5% over three years), we're at just under 17% of income as the total of suggested donations.

If there were a local backlash, it might be from the size of the lash. If there's no backlash, it indicates parishioners aren't paying any more attention to these percentages than the people who suggest them.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Different Kinds of Glory

In this column, which appeared in the November 29, 2007 issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, Father Ron Rolheiser is revealed as the anti-Sungenis.
We are built to stand in the spotlight. Our own reality is massively (sometimes oppressively) real to us and scientists today tell us that the universe has no single center but that everywhere and every person is its center.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Organizing Chaos

Propaganda (1928)
by Edward Bernays
New York, NY: Ig Publishing 2005; 9780970312594
It might be better to have, instead of propaganda and special pleading, committees of wise men who would choose our rulers, dictate our conduct, private and public, and decide upon the best clothes for us to wear and the best kinds of food for us to eat. But we have chosen the opposite method, that of open competition. We must find a way to make free competition function with reasonable smoothness. To achieve this society has consented to permit free competition to be organized by leadership and propaganda. (p. 39)

Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Episode #1

Unaccustomed as I am to live-blogging...

The show pre-empted Power Rangers Operation Overdrive on ABC Kids.

Opens with Bob Dolan and his brother, Archbishop Timothy Dolan at a table with Living Our Faith logo coffee mugs. Our Archbishop explains the Living Our Faith evangelization effort and how the show fits into it.

Segues to our Archbishop giving background to upcoming segment with Jeanna Giese, rabies survivor, and her mother. Talks of her recovery as a miracle of science and faith. Film clips of Jeanna back at school. Interviews with teachers and students, with (the apparently now-mandatory) piano background. We hear one of her treating doctors called it a miracle. Archbishop talks of ordinary miracles. He has a low key demeanor. His gestures are just a bit broad for the frame.

A brief word from the underwriter, Catholic Knights, a Milwaukee-headquartered fraternal insurer.

Commercial break: Colder's furniture; Oneida Casino; Lentz Auto; Allied Pools; Colder's again.

We're back. Jeanna and Mom now at the table with our Archbishop, all three with logo mugs. Jeanna, still a bit affected by her illness. Talks of closeness to God, and also anger, both as part of relationship with Him. Archbishop says that's part of God as friend, you share even your anger. Talks of solidarity of people concerned with Jeanna's recovery. Jeanna says there was a miracle in how her crisis brought people together out of concern. Mom recalls being told of grim prognosis.

In background, Advent wreath with one candle lit, but four candles' lengths vary as if burned down at end of Advent.

Commercials: WOKY Radio; Alverno College; Steinhafels' furniture; News; Attorney David Dreis.

We're back, with Bob and Tim. You can email questions for future shows (include your name and parish). No emails yet, of course, so Bob asks about the Kindergarten Christmas Pageant when our Archbishop was a parish priest. Our Archbishop says one challenge in such productions is to get everyone a part. This was a big class, so they had three innkeepers. Young Ben was cast as the third. When Joseph inquires, instead of saying there's no room, Ben says "Sure come on in". Ben later explains "Who couldn't make room for Jesus?" (Awww...) Our Archbishop says he uses that story in every Christmas homily. (Not literally true; he didn't use it at Midnight Mass last year. Instead he talked of how the innkeeper is portrayed as the villain in the Christmas Pageant.)

I notice his brother Bob calls him "Archbishop". Bob leads our Archbishop into talking about always wanted to be a parish priest Our Archbishop reminisces about how, even when they were kids "back in Ballwin" [Missouri], he saw the parish priest as the job for him. He recalled how, as a parish priest, he had so much and such varied contact with his people. He says he tries to be bishop as if he were pastor of a very large parish. (That might be a way he could talk about this TV show.)

Commercials: Catholic Knights; Stollenwerk Family Foundation; Time Warner Cable Wisconsin-on-demand Channel 1111; The Saint Clare Center for Ministry Formation; Valvoline Instant Oil Change; American Furniture; Attorneys Habush, Habush & Davis.

We're back. Our Archbishop gives an Advent reflection, spoken to camera. Talks of prayer, for example the effect of joining in prayer. Gives as exemplary Advent Prayer "Come, Lord Jesus!" from the closing of the Book of Revelation. Quoting "John Paul the Great", he says Jesus is the answer posed by the question of every human life. To close, "(winks) I'll see you at Mass, and I'll see you next week."

Bob previews next week. Logo. Credits.

Commercials: Fred Astaire Dance Studio; Milwaukee Repertory Theater's A Christmas Carol; Galleria West shopping center; Allied Pools; Steinhafel's Furniture; WISN weekend News.

Update: As commenter Amy hoped, the shows are available online. So, I see, are our Archbishop's homilies. What next, parishes using weblog software to put current information online?!

Notice that the Living Our Faith logo is Old Church, almost Baltimore Catechism milk bottle, not the usual faceless orans-postured stick figures.

If the show didn't knock my socks off, it looked worth the time, money and effort. I hope it's the camera and not Archbishop Dolan that added the pounds. I wouldn't call him a natural for television, exactly, but he seemed comfortable and it at least looked like he takes direction. Will they someday post out-takes and deleted scenes?

In this photo from the show, doesn't Jeanna Giese resemble Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly in The Office? Somehow that has me picturing what "The Chancery" would be like as a series.

The Dolan Christmas anecdote I hoped for was one the brothers once told when our Archbishop as a guest on Bob's radio show. They recalled how, after the Dolan kids went to bed on Christmas Eve, they could hear their father's Darren McGavinesque complaints as he spent hours assembling their "insert tab G into slot H" toys. Bob piped in with "That was after a couple of Falstaffs".

Here's the blurb for the December 8th show with Milwaukee Brewer pitcher Jeff Suppan.

'A menorah made of bowling pins?' and other news

News first, then upcoming events

Festivities abound for Festival of Lights
Hanukkah celebrations across Milwaukee begin this week. By Tom Heinen. From the Dec. 1, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "A menorah made of bowling pins? A giant inflatable dreidel? Those are just two signs of Hanukkah that will be visible locally. ..."

Casa Maria Catholic Worker House December 2007 Newsletter
"If you are planning on donating new Christmas presents to Casa Maria for the families, we ask that you donate them unwrapped before the 15th at the latest. If possible, please include wrapping paper."

Religion briefs
From the Dec. 1, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Felician Sisters celebrate 100 years of caring for youth
Child Development Center of St. Joseph marks centennial. By Amy Guckeen, Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 29, 2007.

Burmese refugees settle into home in Kenosha
Pleasant Prairie parish helps family adjust to new life. By Karen Mahoney, Special to "Your" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 29, 2007. (The parish is St. Anne [stats D1 6th/10 34%])

Christ the King and Showing No Weakness [4 pp. pdf]
Homily, the Solemnity of Christ the King, Year C, Father Nathan Reesman, St. Mary’s Visitation Parish, Elm Grove

Introducing... Relevant Radio 950 AM in Chicago!
"We were informed only just recently that the lease agreement with Relevant Radio for WAIT 820 AM, set to expire at the end of November 2007, will not be renewed. Therefore, we will no longer be broadcasting Relevant Radio on 820 AM as of November 25, 2007." (820 AM become the new home of WCPT "Chicago's Progressive Talk")

We're on the road to priesthood [pdf]
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee's 2007-2008 Seminarian Poster features some roads less-traveled.

Milwaukee CUF December 2007 newsletter [4 pp. pdf]
December 16th Dinner celebrates the birthdays of Jesus Christ and Msgr. Alphonse Popek