Monday, March 31, 2008


Eduardo Penalver at Mirror of Justice Defending James Cone in connection with the controversy over remarks by Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
When he [Cone] talks about defeating whiteness, he does not mean white-skinned people, but rather a system of racially-based oppression. And when he talks about black people, he means people who live under conditions of poverty and oppression. This is what he means, I think, when he says that Jesus was black or that any God worth believing in must be part of the black community and against whiteness. Given how he defines his terms, I agree.

(via Rick Esenberg at Shark and Shepherd, Jeremiah was a prophet?)

Update: David Gilmour points out in The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling, the word "white" [in The White Man's Burden] "plainly refers to civilization and character more than to the colour of men's skins. The 'white men' are those who conduct themselves within the Law for the good of others: Gunga Din may have a 'dirty' hide, but he is 'white, clear white, inside.'"
--Roger Kimball, "Rudyard Kipling unburdened", The New Criterion, April 2008


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jeanette Winterson

She, Robot by Susann Cokal, review of The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson, The New York Times, March 30, 2008

A Tulip and Two Bulbs, review by Jenny Turner of The PowerBook by Jeanette Winterson, London Review of Books, September 7, 2000

Muslims more numerous than Catholics: Vatican

Silvia Aloisi of Reuters reports, including some retroactive triumphalism.
"For the first time in history we are no longer at the top: the Muslims have overtaken us," [Monsignor Vittorio] Formenti told Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in an interview, saying the data referred to 2006.

(via Drudge Report)

Update: More Muslims than Catholics...again by Razib at Gene Expression

(via M. Z. Hemingway at Get Religion)

If redemption fails, you can still use the free bathroom

The Economist reported from Sao Paulo on the appeal of Edir Macedo and his Universal Church.
Selling prosperity theology to the poor attracts criticism from those who believe that the Universal Church exploits the credulity of the desperate. In his book [The Bishop: the Revelatory Story of Edir Macedo] Mr Macedo defends himself robustly. Those who earn nothing can still come to services and enjoy the large air-conditioned hall and a clean bathroom without paying. They may go away determined to succeed, and might even give up drinking, stop beating their wives and join the church. "Whom have I harmed? That is the question: whom have I harmed?" He attacks the Catholic Church for eulogising poverty.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Deborah Solomon interviews the Rev. John Hagee Cornerstone Church, San Antonio, Texas, in The New York Times, March 23, 2008.

His church's website also explains What We Believe and has Biblical FAQ.

P.S. Here's a March 13, 2008 Statement from Pastor John Hagee

Friday, March 28, 2008

When is second Communion?

Don’t let first Communion be last

An answer to the question in the preceding post might be in the "Parenting" supplement to the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, March 27, 2008. It reprints this piece by Fr. Richard Stoffel from the April 29, 2007 bulletin of Resurrection Church in Allenton.

What if parents have their daughter taught how important Communion is, but after her First Communion don't take her to Sunday Mass? She might take it upon herself to make other arrangements.

Ten minutes before Mass, Father gets an unexpected telephone call.
When I answered, a little voice said, "Hi Fr. Rick, it's me; come pick me up for Mass!"

Before I could respond, she hung up ... she trusted that I had meant what I had said!

When he said if no one else would, he'd take her to Mass.
After a moment of panic, I remembered where the family lived, told the ushers I'd be back in time to start Mass, and went to get her!

Imagine Mom and Dad as they answered the door in bedclothes, seeing a man fully vested for Mass at their front door, explaining that their little girl had called for a ride to Mass and that I was there to bring her if they would allow, their little girl tugging, happily pleading permission to go with me!

Father reports seeing the family at Mass more regularly since.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Five years on

Diogenes at Off the Record reflects on the reason for that blog.
Perhaps no Catholic bishop or religious superior has publicly stated his disbelief in the possibility that a soul might be lost. Yet it is so rare for a churchman to affirm this doctrine that it's stunning when it does occur -- think of the amazed indignation in response to the disciplinary actions of Bishops Bruskewitz and Burke.

More disquieting than the bishops' silence, however, is their "performative" repudiation of a salvific component to their ministry. Whatever their personal opinions may be, they don't act as if it were possible for a man to lose his soul by making a spiritually lethal choice.

Bishops? Religious superiors? Priests? "Anyone?"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Life of Riley leads to parish's Lenten reflection

I noted before how most priests' deaths get a few paragraphs in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, while a priest's suicide got a two page spread with color photos.

Karen Mahoney reported "Special to Your Catholic Herald" March 13, 2008 on the in-between case, two-thirds of a page on the death of a priest's dog.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shroud Of Turin Accidentally Washed With Red Shirt

The Onion

Shroud Of Turin Accidentally Washed With Red Shirt

VATICAN CITY—The damage occurred when Pope Benedict XVI, who was on laundry duty, did not notice a brand new bright-red Hanes Beefy-T in the Holy Whirlpool washer.

(via The Curt Jester)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Front yard snowboarding Easter 2008

Like making lemons into lemonade, a foot of snow shoveled off a driveway on Good Friday can be made into an Easter ski hill.

P.S. Some viewers reported they needed to download a codec to get the video with the audio.

No Hope to Spare

Writer Lauren Fox of Shorewood in today's issue of The New York Times with another op-ed in her series on presidential politics here.
Wisconsinites are like overstimulated preschoolers, suffering from a collective case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. We tried so hard to stay on task. We lined up at the polls and threw our support behind Barack Obama. We did the best we could to focus.

But things are getting too muddled, and there is oh so much to distract us.

For example, the United States Bowling Congress announced that it will be moving its headquarters out of the Milwaukee area, leaving us virtually without identity. And a Wisconsin sports star announced his retirement. There was a bit of news coverage of that. [see this earlier post] Also, daylight saving time. It’s so bright out!

Jesus Lived Under Empire

At our Archdiocese of Milwaukee's website events listing.

Presented by Rev. G. Simon Harak, S. J., Director
Marquette University Center for Peacemaking
Sunday, March 30, 2008
10:10am – 11:20am
Cudahy Hall Auditorium (lower level) at 13th & Wisconsin

Questions to be considered.
What are the parallels between the time that Jesus lived and our time in this 21st century? How do Jesus’ life and teachings show us a way to non-violence and peacemaking in our relationships and world?

What have the Romans ever done for us?
Come to learn from Fr. Harak’s enlightening and inspiring message.

Sponsored by the Gesu Parish Social Ministry Committee

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Obama's Pastor: Rev. Jeremiah Wright

From a partial transcript of an interview of the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ on Hannity & Colmes, March 2, 2007
HANNITY: OK, this is the same church. You do have the Web site, right, where it says commitment to the black community, commitment to the black...

WRIGHT: The black value system, which was developed by the congregation, by laypersons of the congregation, 26 years ago, very similar to the gospel (INAUDIBLE) developed by laypersons in Nicaragua during the whole liberation theology movement, 26, 28, 30 years ago, yes.

(via Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Reluctant Star

With UW-Madison’s stem cell research making news around the globe, the man behind the breakthrough discoveries would just as soon stay out of the media’s glare.

Terry Devitt on James W. Thomson, "the world's most famous stem cell scientist", in On Wisconsin, Spring 2008
If you believe life begins at conception, even if sperm and egg were united in a dish and will never see a womb, using stem cells derived from days-old embryos, which are destroyed in the process, is akin to taking a human life. If you are a biologist, embryonic stem cells are a window to the untold story of early human development.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday Means Fish Fry

Including at St. Al's. This takes preparation, and I will be attending a Holy Thursday evening pot and pan washing rather than a foot washing.

Update: Good Friday services were canceled due to heavy snow (as Ash Wednesday's had been), and so was the fish fry. Fortunately much of what was prepared could be frozen for next time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke

Recommended reading:
by Arthur C. Clarke at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Arthur C. Clarke, Obituary, The Economist, Mar 27, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, 90, Science Fiction Writer, Dies, by Gerald Jonas, The New York Times, March 19, 2008 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Pearls Before Swine, March 16, 2008

...somehow we mistakenly thought it was funny.
--Bishop Richard J. Sklba

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Task of the Nonviolent Warrior

Louis Fortis and Lisa Kaiser had a promotional Q&A with Father G. Simon Harak of Marquette University’s Center for Peacemaking in the Shepherd Express, March 12, 2008.
Shepherd: Voices in the Wilderness was the lone group speaking out against the sanctions that the United States imposed on Iraq after the first Gulf War. Those sanctions created a terrible humanitarian crisis in Iraq, although few Americans acknowledged that. So how did Voices in the Wilderness begin?

Harak: We sat down in 1995, sitting at a table, in early August, because we had just done a protest against nuclear weapons, in Chicago. Five of us sat around the table and said, “How should we focus our attention?” And people began saying, “What about these sanctions?” We had such little knowledge about it then. “Do we still have sanctions? Are they bad?” That’s where we were. ...

Perhaps his memory was fresher when he answered the same question in an interview by Robert Jensen, later published in Z Magazine, July/August 2001.
How did Iraq and the lifting of the sanctions become central to you?

... my folks were born in Lebanon, but grew up in the U.S., and I’ve always been interested in the Middle East. That interest increased when I became religious; this was the place where Jesus walked around. And the commitment to nonviolence led me to be concerned. So when in 1990-91 we had the Gulf War massacre, all those concerns came together. ...

Monday, March 17, 2008

"RC" Roman Catholic Mug

At the "Catholic Culture Store", though surely, then, it should have been a beer mug.

The RC Line also includes baseball caps and T-shirts. That might be dressing up for Sunday Mass in some parts. I'm guessing not at New York City's Holy Name Church.

(via Catholic World News)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun

Le Roman de la Rose (The Romance of the Rose), a 13th-century allegory of courtly love—begun by the poet Guillaume de Lorris and completed 40 years later by the more cynical Jean de Meun—is perhaps the Middle Ages’ most popular love poem. --Mary Ruth Yoe, Drawn together, University of Chicago Magazine, March--April 2008

Recommended reading:
by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun at Reading Rat

Joseph Conrad

Moral warfare, as he shows in Victory, cannot be exiled or transcended. No island can be utopia. No human being can cut off human ties. No one can escape or renounce the world, for the world will follow one wherever one goes and whatever one does. One must face the world, Conrad seems to be saying, even when one refuses to affirm it. --George A. Panichas, Moral Warfare in Joseph Conrad’s Victory, Modern Age, Summer 1999

Recommended reading:
by Joseph Conrad at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Striving for the spirit, review of The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad, The Economist, March 13, 2008

Out of Africa, interview of Chinua Achebe, by Caryl Phillips, The Guardian, February 22, 2003

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pew in the Pews

A survey on American belief overturns some scholars' theories

Alan Wolfe in The Chronicle Review, March 21, 2008, on the recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's report, "U.S. Religious Landscape Survey" (see this earlier post)
The biggest losers among American religions turns out to be Catholics: As many as one in 10 Americans is a former Catholic. The findings do not allow us to establish cause and effect, so some observers may claim that people are leaving the Roman Catholic Church because it has become too liberal, while others blame the sexual-abuse crisis among priests and an out-of-touch hierarchy. Chances are, however, that the decline in Catholicism has more to do with intermarriage — 22 percent of Catholics marry outside their faith, compared with 10 percent of Hindus and 17 percent of Mormons — than with attitudes toward abortion or birth control.

(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ritual of Repentance

The Post-Scandal Litany of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer Has Familiar Echoes

Libby Copeland in the Washington Post, March 11, 2008
We test the crisis-management script.

First, we watch the news conference. There's Spitzer, with his wife by his side. He says, "I want to briefly address a private matter." Then he expresses remorse (albeit vaguely) and promises to "dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family."

Then, we call Mark Geragos, the high-profile criminal defense attorney, who -- as it happens -- has not actually seen the news conference. He proceeds to describe the news conference that he has not seen.

"You've got to have the dutiful wife and you have to have the 'it's a private matter,' " Geragos says. "And remorse for the past and plans for the future."


"If you've seen one, you've seen 'em all," Geragos says.
(via Jeremy Lott at Get Religion)

Update: At Prawsblawg, Apology Uniforms

(via Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Recommended reading:
by Boethius Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):
On Boethius and Cassiodorus, by Pope Benedict XVI, weekly general audience, March 12, 2008

St. Alphonus Parish Council Minutes February 4, 2008

Posted on the bulletin board in the church foyer. (Notes taken on the back of a Catholics for Peace and Justice Engage! promotional insert in the bulletin.)

In the Pastor's report,
b. Clergy opening - St. Al's not listed for a clergy opening by mutual decision including finances, candidates & availability of regular alternate.

Whose mutual decision is not specified. He didn't make it sound anything but unilateral in his subsequent letter. There it sounded like he had a cadre of cronies (or compatibles if you prefer) to substitute for an associate pastor but in the minutes it sounds like he has just one.
c. Upcoming Staff Meeting to reassign job duties & responsibility based on time study eval.

In "From the Pastor's Desk" in the February 24, 2008 bulletin, he puts it this way.
I have been working on some pastoral re-organization. When all the pieces are in place, I will be sending a letter to each family, outlining all the details. It is my hope that when this is finished, we will be in a better position to help carry out our mission to bring Jesus Christ to this part of the world.

I'll be surprised if the staff reorg doesn't include some changes that, when formerly suggested by parishioners or by committee or council members, were rejected because the status quo was claimed to be essential to that mission.

In Committee reports, there were none from five of eight committees. The March 9, 2008 bulletin says
Each year at this time we seek new and additional members for Parish Council and Standing Committee Leadership.

There are four openings for Parish Council, and openings for most Council Standing Committees...

The parish practice is to pass out cards at a Sunday Mass for parishioners to nominate themselves or others. After reflecting on my parish council experience, I stopped nominating people.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Changes at St. Anthony make it a school to watch

Alan J. Borsuk reports in the March 9, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the grade school's growth to 1,000 students, almost all attending under the state's voucher program for Milwaukee.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

From ads of old, jingles and some laughs

Elaine Schmidt reports, Special to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 9, 2008, on last night's performance by Hesperus in the Early Music Now series.
the program was aptly titled "Shameless Commerce." It featured music constructed around "cries," the short musical phrases used by street vendors to hawk goods and services in the crowded streets of 17th- and 18th-century London.

Complementing the "Shameless Commerce" theme, EMN had a fund-raising silent auction during the extended intermission.


my first introduction to the notion that good people, serving legitimate ends, might come into irretrievable conflict with the state, and that they might be destroyed as a result. --Howard Frazier, The Harvard guide to influential books: 113 distinguished Harvard professors discuss the books that have helped to shape their thinking (1986), edited by C. Maury Devine, Kim D. Parrish, and Claudia Dissell, p. 82, on Antigone

The end of Ajax shows us a world where there are no real heroes left--or, rather, where heroism and courage have to be reinvented as mental qualities rather than physical ones. --Emily Wilson, Bright Oblivion, by Emily Wilson, The Nation, July 21, 2008, review of Ajax, by Sophocles, translated by John Tipton

Modern 'Antigone' puts words first: Ensemble highlights disasters of pride, folly, by Tom Strini, review of production by Present Music and Milwaukee Dance Theatre, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 7, 2008

Setting their sights on 'Antigone' by Tom Strini, preview of production by Present Music and Milwaukee Dance Theatre, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 3, 2008

Red Thebes, Blue Thebes review by Garry Wills of The Burial at Thebes: A Version of Sophocles' Antigone by Seamus Heaney, New York Times, December 5, 2004

Antigone's Flaw by Patricia M. Lines, Humanitas 1999 No. 1

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (2007)

From this recently-issued U.S. Bishops' report.
Last year's spending by dioceses and eparchies included

Table 2:
Therapy for Victims $7,243,663
Support for Offenders $13,347,981

Figure 10:
Attorneys' fees $53,394,074

Figure 12:
Child Protection Efforts $21,039,970

Last year's spending by Religious Institutes included
Table 4:
Therapy for Victims $691,775
Support for Offenders $2,097,993

Figure 22:
Attorneys' fees $7,073,540

Figure 24:
Child Protection Efforts $1,113,175
(via Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mad about 'Mad' Magazine

Robert McHenry reminisces at the Britannica blog.
But Oh! the memories! And the, er, irregular education. “Humor in a jugular vein,” of course, but also “It’s crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide,” which evidently has something to do with bribing a policeman. “Gee, Dad, it’s a Wurlitzer.” I eventually learned that Wurlitzer is a brand of electric organ and further that “axolotl” is a salamander, but “potrzebie” still eludes my researches.

Mainly because at Britannica they won't look in "that furshlugginer Wikipedia".

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cardinal Stritch looks into Cousins Center

That might have been scary for anyone near the windows.

Except it's Cardinal Stritch University.
Archdiocese facility up for sale might meet school's needs

Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The End of the Latin Mass

John at The Inn at the End of the World posted this piece by William F. Buckley, Jr. from November 10, 1967.
It is absolutely right that the vernacular should displace the Latin if by doing so, the rituals of Catholic Christianity bring a greater satisfaction to the laity and a deeper comprehension of their religion. There oughtn't to be any argument on this point, and there certainty isn't any from me...

He merely points out that it was already apparent the liturgical changes failed on their own terms.

(via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor)


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I am not a real person

Che Lovell at the Spirit of Vatican 2 "Catholic" Faith Community posts on dealing with readers who can't tell parody from reality.

They haven't topped reality yet; here's a summary of Q&A with a new pastor:
Q. Would you consider changes to the parish liturgy to make it conform more closely to the GIRM?
A. No.
Q. Shouldn't we be evangelizing?
A. Good liturgy brings in people.
Q. Why do the Archdiocesan statistics show the parish's Mass attendance low and declining?
A. The numbers must be wrong.

Monday, March 3, 2008

2008 Pallium Lecture Series - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

The first of the Pallium Lecture series is on Thursday, March 6 featuring The Most Reverend Charles Chaput, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Denver. He will speak on Catechesis That Impacts the Public Square.
7:00 p.m. at Wehr Hall, Alverno College, 3400 South 43rd Street in Milwaukee.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Vladimir Nabokov

Dmitri's Choice by Ron Rosenbaum, Slate, Posted Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008, at 6:18 PM ET, and The Fate of Nabokov's Laura, Part II by Ron Rosenbaum, Slate, Posted Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008, at 7:57 PM ET (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Nabokov’s Gift by Roger Boylan, Boston Review, July/August 2007

Nabokov's Brightly Colored Wings of Memory, by Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post, May 26, 2004, on Speak, Memory

Nabokov in America review by Donald Lyons of the three-volume Vladimir Nabokov published by the Library of America, The New Criterion, December 1997

Introverts & emigres by Brooke Allen, on the collected stories of Evan S. Connell and Vladimir Nabokov, The New Criterion, October 1995

The condescending smile of the supreme enchanter by John Simon, on Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years by Brian Boyd, The New Criterion, February 1991

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, review by Charles Rolo, Atlantic Monthly; September, 1958

Francois de Fenelon

Recommended reading:
by Francois de Fenelon at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews): Fenelon for today by "John da Fiesole" (Tom Kreitzberg), Disputations, February 29, 2008

Faith put into action

Stuart and Jill Briscoe helped shape Elmbrook Church, which in turn helped them take their ministry worldwide

Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on how "their global perspective helped shape the congregation as it grew into one of the nation's early megachurches."