Friday, August 29, 2008

A Speech to the Delegates

by David Brooks in The New York Times
We meet today to heal the divisions that have torn this country. For we are all one country and one American family, whether we are caring and thoughtful Democrats or hate-filled and war-crazed Republicans.

(via Stefan McDaniel at First Things)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Airplane crash victim loved to help others

Sharif Durhams reported in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
A small plane carrying Jensen [Roger Jensen of Amery, Wisconsin], 48, along with his wife, April, his son, Zach, his daughter, Sarah, and other volunteers crashed in a field in eastern Guatemala on Sunday. Ten of the 19 passengers died, including Roger Jensen and Zach, 16. Sarah Jensen, 19, told reporters that she and her mother were injured.

The Jensens were in Guatemala building houses as volunteers with Choice Humanitarian.

As background, Nick Bohr of WISN-TV interviewed Rita Frohna at St. Al's about the Guatemala mission trips of the Friendship Without Borders group. (All her plugs for the group by name ended up on the digital equivalent of the cutting room floor.) FWB started with one trip a year, but this has grown to two to Guatemala and one to Peru each year. Long-time readers (if any) might recall I've posted on some of our Guatemala trips each spring in the past seven years.

The crash and interview were among the topics at last night's planning meeting for the mission trip we'll be on, this time to Peru ($ee $idebar). Unlike the Guatemala trips, the Peru trip involves flights within the country, which I'll have to rationalize avoiding mentioning to my mother. Parents never stop worrying, as the saying goes, even when their children are grandparents themselves.

Rita was, I assume, expressing sentiment, not theology, that missionaries go to heaven, even us "mission tourists". Besides, there'd be a Catholic cliche variation that mission trips won't count if you enjoy them.

So pray for the Jensens and the other folks on their plane, and add a prayer for our trip or in thanksgiving that I won't be blogging while I'm away.

Monday, August 25, 2008

David Sedaris Gets Frey-Olated

Izzy Grinspan in the Daily Shvitz at Jewcy, March 14, 2007, was discussing with Michael Weiss when it is and isn't appropriate for a writer to make things up.
Michael: There's a great bit in The Last Days of Disco. Ever see the movie? Alice [Alice Kinnon (Chloe Sevigny)] is in book publishing as an assistant. She gets a manuscript written by someone claiming to be descendant of the Dalai Lama. But it turns out, he's a liar—just some guy interested in Buddhism. So she switches the genre from autobiography to self-help: instant bestseller.

As I recall, it was supposedly the Dalai Lama's brother, which seemed implausible to some of Alice's co-workers even before the hoax was discovered.

Not long after I saw the video of the movie, Tom Heinen blogged about the Dalai Lama's nephew on Tibetan independence walk in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Population paradox: Europe's time bomb

Paul Vallely in The Independent, August 9, 2008
Zealots for population control have always had the poor in their sights. Until it fell out of fashion a decade or more ago, "population control" always targeted the hapless peoples of the Third World as the ones who we needed to stop breeding. Holland is the most densely populated major country in the world but there was rarely any talk of too many Dutchmen.

P.S. The most notable exception was Nigel Powers.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Barack Obama: Advancing the Frontiers of Space Exploration

Quoted at SpaceRef,
Barack Obama supports Congressional efforts to add at least one additional Space Shuttle flight to fly a valuable mission and to keep the workforce engaged.

This recalls President Kennedy in Houston, November 21, 1963.
This was an area that depended on military contracts, and the nation was about to launch the space program's biggest booster, rocketing "the largest payroll--payload," Kennedy corrected himself, "into space."

(via Drudge Report)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Uniform Is Only Thing Different About Favre

says Judy Battista today's New York Times.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Judge rules archdiocese’s insurance not liable for fraud-based claims

If a lawsuit against someone includes an allegation that an insurance company covered the claim, and the insurance company denies this, then the usual procedure is to postpone proceedings on the claim itself until the court rules on the issue of insurance coverage. Marie Rohde reported in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on such a coverage ruling by Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jean DiMotto. The lawsuits involved allege
the archdiocese committed fraud in moving abusive priests without notifying new parishioners of prior allegations... .

The insurers denied coverage on the ground that the policies do not cover intentional acts by persons insured.
“Fraud by definition is intentional,” she [Judge DiMotto] said. “Why else would there be deception? We do not lie by accident.”

Therefore the policies would not cover such claims nor obligate the insurers to pay the costs of defending them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Making Space for Sabbath in our Lives

This column by Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, ran in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald August 7, 2008.
We are meant to work for six days and then have a one-day sabbatical; work for six years and then have a one-year sabbatical;

No more weekends, but throw in sabbatical every sixth week and sixth month and I'd have to consider it.
and, finally, work for a lifetime and have an eternity of sabbatical, an eternity of resting in God.

My rough calculation is all these sabbaticals would, overall, leave about as many work days as a three day week, only half what God put in (Genesis 1:1-3).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Anyone for Schadenfreude?

The Economist on reaction in some Catholic circles to potential schism in the Anglican Communion.
“The last thing the pope would wish to do is support any kind of division,” said Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit professor of Liturgy at the Gregorian University in Rome. That may seem odd. If the Church of England splits, Catholicism stands to gain new adherents. Traditionally minded Anglican priests and bishops—and, in some cases, most of their flocks—can be expected to defect to Rome.

It does seem odd if this is viewed from Rome as "defecting". The report goes on to give one reason for this perspective.
many Catholics have invested time, effort and prayer in trying to reunite with the Church of England, and there have been moments when they dared to hope it was possible.

It appears many of those folks would prefer it not happen if it's not according to plan. While perhaps millions of people would join the Catholic Church, some Catholic bishops would be discomfited.
Good friendships and working relationships have been formed along the way (one is between Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor).

The paper says there are also what it calls less sentimental reasons for some of the Catholic hierarchy discouraging masses of Anglican's coming into the Church.
the acceptance into the Catholic church of large numbers of married Anglican clerics would make it harder for the Vatican to hold its already shaky line on priestly celibacy.

If so, then again adding many members to the Church is discouraged because of administrative difficulties it would create. This isn't a universal attitude, but it is widespread. (At St. Al's, staff will publicly state that programs and policies are chosen based on whether they involve more work for them.)

There's reportedly another source of opposition.
those Roman Catholics who would welcome a more tolerant attitude towards homosexuality, or the greater involvement of women, could see their cause set back by the arrival of the [Anglican] rebels. “High” Anglicans can be more papist than the pope.

To sum up, there's always the threat that a crowd of converts will bump the thermostat off the lukewarm setting.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

'Best, highest use' marks Stritch purchase of Cousins Center

Brian T. Olszewski reports under an ambiguous headline in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, July 24, 2008.

On one hand,the Archdiocesan offices, originally a minor seminary, will be sold to Cardinal Stritch University. The facility will return to an educational mission under the patronage of St. Francis (though now of Assisi, rather than de Sales).

On the other hand,
The property had been on the market since 2006 when the archdiocese had to borrow in excess of $4.6 million to pay its share of a $16.65 million settlement to 10 victims/survivors of sexual abuse in California. While the Cousins Center's sale price has not been disclosed, proceeds from the sale will be used to pay off that loan whose interest is "about $1,000 a day," according to John Marek, CFO of the archdiocese.


Monday, August 11, 2008

And the next great American beer will be...?

Edward McClelland in Salon, on the way to seleting his candidates, says
Since the beginning of this decade, Pabst Blue Ribbon's audience has changed from old guys with refrigerators in their garages to arty young urbanites.

With his article there's a list of cheap American beers.

On the Use of the Name of God, Pope Benedict teaches

When one of my kids was very young, he asked why people were saying "yah, hey" at Mass. Maybe that won't happen to anyone else on the south side of Milwaukee again. Paul Zalonski reported yesterday at Communio on a recent Vatican directive, beginning
1. In liturgical celebrations, in songs and prayers the name of God in the form of the tetragrammaton YHWH is neither to be used or pronounced.

This might also give Bishop Sklba another reason to denounce Popeye.

(via Dad29)


--Life of Brian, Scene 4, The stoning

Female Activist To Be Ordained

WUKY in Lexington, Kentucky on a report Friday by its Bryan Bartlett on one point of agreement when the boy Jesus was in the Temple, (Luke 2:41-50)
Although the Roman Catholic Church banned women from becoming priests over two-thousand years ago, a Jessamine County woman will be "ordained" by a church activist group.

(via M.Z. Hemingway Get Religion)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Learning to Read Democrat

An op-ed by Michael Kinsley in today's New York Times on the draft platform for this year's Democratic Party convention.
The best-hidden boondoggle is dropped into the second half of a sentence in a general passage about women. “We will invest in women-owned small businesses and remove the capital gains tax on start-up small businesses.” (Attention all conservatives: Do not panic! This passage does not mean that Democrats favor government investments in businesses, even small businesses, even small businesses owned by women. That would be socialism. It is a convention of platform-writing that all government spending is referred to as “investment.” The Republicans do it, too. That doesn’t make it right.)


Roman Missal Formational Materials

Posted Monday at the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship
Recently the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was granted the recognitio for the new English–language translation of significant parts of the Ordo Missae as found in the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, including most of those texts used in every celebration of the Holy Mass. ...

A new Missal for the Mass was approved by the Vatican.
The Committee on Divine Worship provides here materials for our priests and the faithful which can be used for catechesis and preparation for the eventual implementation of the revised texts. ...

Eventual meaning years from now. (see When Can We Hope to See the New Missal in English? ) The study materials, for now, are the Letter Accompanying the Recognitio from Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Complete Text, and the text of the four Eucharistic Prayers.

(via James J. Martin at In All Things)

P.S. The rubrics of the Complete Text include,
89. ... He shows the consecrated host to the people, places it again on the paten, and genuflects in adoration.


90. ... The Priest shows the chalice to the people, places it on the corporal, and genuflects in adoration.


103. ... He shows the chalice to the people, places it on the corporal, and genuflects in adoration.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

County claims Mercer advised on backdrop pension payments

Steve Schultze reported in the July 28, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the litigation between Milwaukee County and Mercer, Inc. over the pension backdrop feature of the Milwaukee County pension plan.
Kalwarski [Gene Kalwarski, a Washington, D.C.-based actuary and an expert witness for the county] also faulted Soderstrom [Glenn Soderstrom, a Mercer actuary] for his optimistic advice on the likely long-term performance of the county pension fund, calling that “extreme actuarial negligence.” Soderstrom said the county probably would not have to worry about making large annual pension contributions, but payments since 2003 have averaged more than $36 million a year.

Yesterday's business section had this guest editorial comment.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lord of the Memes

David Brooks in yesterday's New York Times
on or about June 29, 2007, human character changed. That, of course, was the release date of the first iPhone.


This transition has produced some new status rules. In the first place, prestige has shifted from the producer of art to the aggregator and the appraiser. ...


Second, in order to cement your status in the cultural elite, you want to be already sick of everything no one else has even heard of. ...

(via Just One Minute)

Abortion and Other Issues: How They Define Presidential Politics

From the Internet Archive, Dr. James Zogby in Washinton Watch, July 6, 1992
This past week when the Democratic Party's Platform Committee met to finalize their platform, Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey issued an appeal to fellow Democrats to join what he called the mainstream, and to support limits on abortion. The "reasonable regulations" he called for included:
not permitting abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy;

the requirement that a woman notify her husband if she is considering an abortion;

the requirement that a child notify her parents about an abortion;

that doctors be required to give women alternatives to abortion, and that there be a 24-hour waiting period after the initial doctor's visit before an abortion can be performed.

So divisive and intense is this question that, when these measures were introduced, the motion received loud boos and hisses and only received the support of two of the committee's 186 members.

(via Just One Minute)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reports, Rumors, Ramblings and Ravings

is a column by Charles M. Wilson in the (subscriber only) Christifidelis newsletter of the St. Joseph Foundation. In the July 31, 2008 issue he notes a few statistics from the 2008 Official Catholic Directory.

The total of seminarians rose from 4,588 to 5,029 since the previous year's Directory. That includes both diocesan and religious order seminarians. As you might have expected, there were declines in the total number of priests (42,307 to 41,406) and parishes (19,628 to 18,890) in the United States.

What you might not have expected is that "the Catholic population decreased by 398,000". I've never heard of any previous decline.

Monday, August 4, 2008

For accountant, variable was call to priesthood

In the vocational version of Call Waiting, Philip Bogacki was well on his way to becoming a CPA when he switched back. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee last Thursday.
"I think the (accounting background) will be very beneficial. It's a way of thinking that will be very useful. Something that I think our churches are lacking is good, solid administrative skills so that we can more easily and effectively proclaim the Word of God," he said, adding that nearly every pastor he meets tells him that the accounting background will be invaluable.

If our parishes are lacking in "good, solid administrative skills", it might be because (last I heard) priests take no courses in parish administration in the seminary. While a parish might have someone with administrative skill on staff, and many such people among its members, delegating appears to be among the skills not taught in the seminary. This might explain why so many priests come across as obsessed with parish finances or administrative minutiae while calling themselves "a people person".

Among things not delegated is talking about money. Someone has to talk (or write) about money but it could be, for example, a finance committee chair. The pastor could talk about mission and stewardship and generosity. A priest's homily could point out how things the parish does, or would like to do, are from the Bible readings we just heard. If the Gospel says feed the hungry, something the parish does that feeds the hungry could be worth mentioning in a homily, with follow-up in a closing announcement. Otherwise that it's part of where the money goes winds up buried in the parish website.
Although Bogacki noted that younger clergy are, at times, unfairly stereotyped as being too conservative or traditional, he looks forward to building bridges.

There might be priests who long ago set out to build bridges, only to wind up unable to build a ladder to the top of their rut.
Calling the stereotypes "unfortunate," Bogacki said he loses patience with the perspective.

Any conservative or traditional young priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will need plenty of patience with the perspective that he's too conservative or traditional.

(linked article by Maryangela Layman Roman,
Milwaukee Catholic Herald, July 24, 2008)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Almost getting Humanae Vitae

Mark Stricherz at Get Religion reviews some of the reporting on the 40th anniversary of the encyclical On the Regulation of Birth (Humanae Vitae). Stricherz says most reports did not quite get the central point, found in paragraph 13 Faithfulness to God's Design.
to experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator. Just as man does not have unlimited dominion over his body in general, so also, and with more particular reason, he has no such dominion over his specifically sexual faculties, for these are concerned by their very nature with the generation of life, of which God is the source.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A very sad steeple

Michael Paulson of the Boston Globe posts in his religion beat weblog this photo of the First Congregational Church in Lee, Massachusetts. The photo reminds me of a snapshot I took of the church when we atttended a wedding there many years ago. The steeple was okay back then. The camera didn't make it back home, somehow.

Mr. Paulson's blog is called Articles of Faith, the same title as Milwaukee Journal Sentinel religion reporter Tom Heinen's blog.

(via New Advent)

You have heard that it was said 'Mister Ranger isn't going to like this'.

Illustration at The Woodring Monitor (of Matthew 5:49?)

(via Althouse)