Monday, August 31, 2009

Stokey the Bear

This episode of Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties reportedly upset the U.S. Forest Service.

Bishops Discuss, Vote on Missal Texts -- More to Come

Adoremus Bulletin, August 2009, reports on the USCCB June Meeting.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Read about torture (or else)

Glenn Greenwald at Salon
Before saying anything about the implications of this [CIA IG] Report, I want to post some excerpts of what CIA interrogators did. Every American should be forced to read and learn this in order to know what was done in their names...

(via Just One Minute)

Archbishop Weakland’s Perplexing Pilgrimage

Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin reviews Archbishop Weakland's memoirs in the Without A Doubt column in The Rhode Island Catholic, August 27, 2009
It strikes me that critics of Archbishop Weakland should be at least a little restrained in their umbrage, for after all there are many redeeming qualities of the Archbishop’s life and ministry. ...

On the other hand, supporters of Archbishop Weakland should also be able to recognize the self-serving inconsistencies and contradictions contained in his story. ...
(via Dad29)

Here's Archbishop Weakland's own wish-list for Second chances from his Herald Of Hope column in the November 22, 2001 Milwaukee Catholic Herald.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Elizabeth Bishop

When Lowell wrote to Bishop he was, for once, not involved in an act of performance. When Bishop wrote to Lowell she knew that she was reading his poems more deeply, and with more responsible attention, than any other friend would ever dare to do. --The Economist, Serious engagement, November 20, 2008, review of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, edited by Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton

Their surviving 459 letters, some surprisingly long (Bishop might elaborate hers over weeks, at times swearing she had written Lowell in her imagination), give us the closest view of these wounded creatures — his muscular, bull-in-a-china-shop intellect; her pained shyness and abject modesty, and a gaze like the gleam off a knife. --William Logan, ‘I Write Entirely for You’, The New York Times, October 31, 2008, review of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, edited by Thomas Travisano with Saskia Hamilton

A Poet’s Inner Eye, by Carol Frost, Humanities, March/April 2009, on Elizabeth Bishop (via Arts & Letters Daily)

In Due Season: A Catholic Life

Marquette Magazine published this excerpt from the recently-published memoir by alumnus Paul Wilkes (Jouralism 1960).

Mr. Wilkes was from Ohio and, it appears, was unaware that going away to college involved the expense of living away from home.

The print edition of the alumni magazine includes a brief review of his career, too brief to credit him with his 1992 book The Education of an Archbishop: Travels with Rembert Weakland.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bruderlich mit Herz und Hand!

Adam Kredo relayed the Twitter tweets of Rabbi Jack Moline, one of a thousand rabbis on an August 19, 2009 conference call with President Obama, who was seeking their support for the pending health care legislation.
"We are God's partners in matters of life and death," Obama went on to say, according to Moline's real-time stream.

Less widely reported,
First mistake," Moline tweeted, as he waited for the call to begin. "Music on hold is Deutschland uber Alles".

(via KausFiles)

From bad to verse

Bishop Richard Sklba wrote
Periodically I am in a conversation about a contemporary neuralgic issue of one type or another, and someone suggests returning to the Gospel for direction.

We could again proof-text his vocabulary in a diocesan newspaper column to treat Bishop Trautman's neuralgia over using the word "ineffable" in liturgy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pearl Buck

The Good Earth, a novel about village family life in China, became an immediate sensation upon its publication in 1931, and established Buck as one of the few Westerners with intimate knowledge of life in China before the communist revolution. Buck, the child of Presbyterian missionaries, spent much of the first half of her life in China. --Andrew Maykuth, Long-lost ‘Good Earth’ manuscript found: The typescript has been missing since '60s, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 27, 2007

A documentary coproduced by the Zhenjiang People's Association for Friendship With Foreign Countries describes her as "an American writer who told the Chinese stories in a Chinese way in English" - no small compliment in a culture obsessed with its own longevity and accomplishment. --Jeff Gammage, China dedicates Pearl Buck Museum, Philadelphia Inquirer, October 19, 2008

Fraternal connection

Our Archdiocese of Milwaukee reports on two locally-based fraternal insurers, Catholic Knights and Catholic Family Life to Merge.

"I love the Knight Life" could be the marketing campaign if they choose the right name for the merged company.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Les Paul, undamaged brand

The Economist's obituary for Les Paul included this anachronism.
at the request of the Gibson guitar company, he produced his signature Les Paul model, still the Cadillac of guitars.

The Sacrament of Confirmation Bias

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report of the ELCA vote to permit non-celibate homosexual clergy included this explanation.
Tim Mumm, a gay man and an assembly delegate from Whitewater, said the Scripture that guides opponents of the more liberal policy was written by mortals, at a much earlier time, and doesn't reflect what many Christians now believe.

Mr. Mumm's So-what Scriptura certainly doesn't reflect what many thought Lutherans believe. Eric Gorski's report for the Associated Press (via JSOnline) gets pretty much the same explanation as Mr. Mumm's from Barbara Wheeler, director of the Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York, who participated in similar discussions in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The society is in the process of changing its collective mind about the moral status of same-sex relationships, and there's a parallel theological movement.

Sounds like the theologians are as redundant as The Bible is irrelevant.

Update: Jacqueline L. Salmon's Washington Post report (via MCJ) quotes Mr. Mumm verbatim on the point.
"We live today with an understanding of homosexuality that did not exist in Jesus' time and culture," Tim Mumm, a lay delegate from Wisconsin and supporter of Lutherans Concerned, an gay-rights organization, said during the debate. "We are responding to something that the writers of Scripture could not have understood."

Presumably meaning Martin Luther likewise could not, raising the question how this is "Lutherans" Concerned and why there was and is any Lutheran Church.
"As Luther taught us, Scripture does not have a wax nose," said the Rev. Ryan Mills, a delegate representing Texas and Louisana. "It cannot be twisted into anything we want it to say. But that's just what we're doing with these following recommendations."

Looks more like an abandonment than reinterpretation of Scripture. Hard to see why a religious denomination is needed to do nothing more than affirm prevailing contemporary understandings. Couldn't people do that at least as well on their own, or at least well enough considering the savings in overhead?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reading Rat August 23, 2009

Updates to my recommended reading ... first postings on these authors:

There is no action without consequence, no cause without effect. In bad fiction, those effects fall upon each other like poorly laid dominoes, resulting in tedious plotting. Better writers can make predictable results seem fresh through cleverness and sincerity, but great writers tell stories that refuse the easy answers of inevitability. --Zack Handlen , review of A Mercy, by Toni Morrison, A.V. Club, December 3, 2008 [See recommended reading by Toni Morrison]

Just as Obama, in his increasing urge to inspire, a necessary aspect of his calling perhaps, often seeks a rhetoric free of bitterness and high on healing, Baldwin, in his urge to speak difficult truths, to tell white people what they least wished to hear, sometimes moved toward a tone which was almost shrill. --Colm Toibin, James Baldwin & Barack Obama, The New York Review of Books, October 23, 2008 [See recommended reading by James Baldwin]

Kepler's world: Celebrating the work of a neglected astronomer, The Economist, August 13, 2009 [See recommended reading by Johannes Kepler]

Updates to my recommended reading ... added to posts on these authors:

The Economist on the life of Friedrich Engels

The Economist on Galileo

F. R. Leavis on William Wordsworth

Peter W. Schramm on Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sibizen Cain

Now, we know that Barack Obama doesn't "keep" his actual brother — we remember George Hussein Onyango Obama, the brother who lives a hut — and it's clear that what he means is that government has the moral obligation to regard all citizens as brothers and sisters — I'm coining the word sibizens — and to care for them. --Ann Althouse (commenting on a Greta Van Susteren interview of the President)

Update: at Just One Minute, Menlo Bob comments
Regarding Obama's comment about being your brother's keeper; He seems positively engaged in carrying out what he calls God's commandments--even though on closer inspection (Genesis 4:9) the source of the 'brother's keeper' command is derived from Cain responding to God's inquiry about his brother Abel whom he had killed. In other words Obama has confused God with a murderer.

Happens all the time.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Franklin, Wisconsin RFD

David Luhrssen in the the Shepherd Express reviews Franklin, by Doug Schmidt, from the Arcadia Images of America series. His review focuses on Franklin's transition from a farm community through incorporation and suburbanization. The book
doesn't explore why the farmers of Franklin were determined to remain outside Milwaukee's city limits.

Milwaukee was successful in annexing the Town of Granville in northwest Milwaukee County. If one could today take those farmers through Franklin and the former Granville, I doubt they'd regret thwarting annexation by incorporating.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Higher[-priced] education

Say, if college costs are rising faster than medical costs, isn’t that a crisis? --Glenn Reynolds

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

David Hume

Hume’s first objection is that the design argument can only establish the existence of at least one designer. His second objection is that the argument does not establish even this much. Paley claims that the evidence points to the conclusion that, by means entirely unknown, the biological world is the product of design. But why favor this over the hypothesis that, also by means entirely unknown, flora and fauna were produced by, as Paley puts it, “the operation of causes without design”? --Alex Byrne, God: Philosophers weigh in, Boston Review, January/February 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Hume, Austen, and First Impressions, by Rodney Delasanta, First Things, June/July 2003

Ockham, Hume & Epistemic Wisdom: an all-out attack on the paranormal armed with a couple of razors honed with the whetstone of scepticism, by William Grey, Philosophy Now, Summer/Autumn 1998

Friday, August 14, 2009

Father Murphy's Law

Annysa Johnson reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the filing of an civil fraud case against our Archdiocese of Milwaukee for sexual abuse of a minor by a priest. The plaintiff in this case was a student at the now-closed St. John School for the Deaf and claims sexual abuse in the early 1970s by Father Lawrence Murphy.

That brings the total to eleven pending fraud cases arising out of sexual abuse of children by priests.
"What this shows is an institutional, deliberate policy of fraud that's existed over the last five decades," Peter Isely of the Midwest chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said in response to the lawsuit.

"This is not a problem of individual priests or bishops, but a fraudulent system constructed around sexual crimes against children," he said.

If our Archdiocese's public responses included something aimed at convincing us there's no way he could be right, I've missed it.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Car Dealer Lingo: take II

Real Deal Auto, August 10, 2009 (just ahead of trade-in time), including
Oddball Split

Often confused as a billiard term, but in car industry is a closing tactic. You have a difference figure between the price of the car and the counter offer form the customer. Example: sale price is $20,000 and the counter offer $19,000. The salesman says “why don’t we split the difference and just say $19,800.” The customer perks up” that’s not a split, $19,500 is a split.” “Okay so $19,500 and it’s a deal?” This is a perfect trap because 90% of the time the customer wants to split the split: that would be $19,250 which is $250 less than where we placed them. The salesmen simply bump them with the oddball number.

(via Robert Farago at The Truth About Cars)

Les Paul, R.I.P.

Guitar legend Les Paul dies at age 94, from Greater Milwaukee Today, website of the Waukesha Freeman, the newspaper of his native city. His death was announced by Gibson Guitar, with which he had a long professional relationship after he invented the solid-body electric guitar.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Reading Rat August 9, 2009

Updates to my recommended reading ... first postings on these authors:

A point of particular interest, in which the authors were far ahead of their time, is their recognition of the extent to which modern societies have “disenfranchised the family in the key area of education.” Of all the criticisms that can be leveled against the educational theories of John Dewey and his epigones, this is by far the most telling. --Wilfred M. McClay, Mediating Institutions, First Things, April 2009, review of To Empower People: From State to Civil Society (Twentieth Anniversary Edition), by Richard John Neuhaus and Peter Berger
See recommended reading by John Dewey

The design argument that Paley then proceeds to give replaces the watch with terrestrial flora and fauna and their intricate parts. Paley—evidently a keen amateur naturalist—gives many examples, from the diverse mechanisms of seed dispersion to the tongue of the woodpecker, but his example of the eye is the one typically quoted. How could such a “complicated mechanism” have arisen, Paley asks, if not by the action of a designer? --Alex Byrne, God: Philosophers weigh in, Boston Review, January/February 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)
See recommended reading by William Paley

He has mellowed the harsh sounds of the English trumpet to the soft accents of the flute. --Voltaire, On Mr. Pope and Some Other Famous Poets, Letters on the English, Letter XXII
See recommended reading by Alexander Pope

Writing at the time of Louis XIV’s absolutism in an era of austerely reflective Catholicism, Racine proposes an all-or-nothing morality, in which there is no grey area of compromise and good and evil cannot be altered or evaded. --Rupert Christiansen, Will Helen Mirren conquer Racine as Phedre? The Telegraph, Published: 3:25PM BST 08 Jun 2009 (via The Huffington Post)
See recommended reading by Racine

Updates to my recommended reading ... added to posts on these authors:

Mackubin Thomas Owens on Abraham Lincoln

Kevin M. Saylor on William Wordsworth

The Economist on Alfred North Whitehead

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Anna Akhmatova

During the Stalin purges, she was standing one morning outside a prison along with some other women, all of whom were trying to deliver letters and packages to their loved ones inside. Their waiting was made more painful because they were not even sure whether their loved ones were still alive and by the fact that the guards made them wait needlessly for hours simply to assert their authority. But, if they wanted to get messages to their loved ones, they had no other option but to wait.

On this particular morning, another woman recognized the poet, approached her, and asked: "Can you describe this?" Akhmatova replied: "I can," and a smile passed between the two women. --Ron Rolheiser, OMI, Reading the Signs of the Times, October 15, 2008

A Poet Without a Hero: Anna Akhmatova's Late Work, by Marjorie Perloff, BookForum, December/January 2005

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thomas Paine

Two hundred years ago, June 8, 1809 was the cornerstone laying for St. Patrick's (Old) Cathedral near Canal Street in what was then uptown New York City. ...

Jesuit Fr. Anthony Kohlmann presided at the cornerstone ceremony. ...

That same Fr. Kohlmann, in company with Fr. Benedict Fenwick, S.J. had recently paid an unsuccessful visit to the dying Thomas Paine. A woman baptized by Fenwick had told Paine that only a Catholic priest could cure him. When the two priests arrived and started talking with Paine, they asked about his soul rather than his bodily pains. Paine, rationalist to the end, ordered them out of the room. According to the account of Fr. Fenwick, they were chased away by Paine and left, followed by blasphemies. Soon after that, Paine's life ended on the same day that St. Patrick's Old Cathedral was begun, June 8, 1809. --Peter Schineller, S.J.,, Thomas Paine and St. Patrick's Old Cathedral -- 200 years ago, In All Things, Posted at: 2009-06-08 16:31:58.0

The Gain from Thomas Paine, by David Nash, History Today, June 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

The yen for Cash for Clunkers

Robert Farago at The Truth About Cars reviewed Department of Transportation statistics and found all the clunkers traded-in under the C.A.R.S. program were American brands. The top five models purchased have been:
1. Toyota Corolla
2. Ford Focus
3. Honda Civic
4. Toyota Prius
5. Toyota Camry

Thursday, August 6, 2009

David Hilbert

...formalism, claims that mathematics is a game: Choose your axioms and follow the rules to prove your theorems. (This view is often attributed to David Hilbert, though Hilbert’s view was, in fact, somewhat different.) Mathematical formalism intends to put the metaphysical question out of bounds by saying that mathematics makes no claims at all about reality. --Fernando Q. Gouvea, The Book of Numbers, First Things, February 2009, review of Is God a Mathematician? by Mario Livio

My World, The Host

The contemplative Cistercian nuns of my post of a few year back are still in Prarie du Sac, baking altar bread and hoping to build a larger monastery.

In the meantime, one of them has a weblog, Sine Modo: Walking with Him, Living in His Love.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Herman Melville

I'm glad I waited until later in my life to read Moby-Dick. If I'd had to read it in high school I would have hated it for the prose and length, and in college I would have focused too negatively on the fact that it is about whaling (angry young man syndrome). Now I can see whaling for the peculiar institution that it was (and unfortunately, in parts of the world still is), but still look past that to see why Moby-Dick has been in print since before the Civil War. --Doug Brown, Call Me Ishmael, Powell's Review-a-Day, February 7, 2009

Call me Ahab, by Jeremy Harding, London Review of Books, October 31, 2002

Melville, by John Samson, American Literary Scholarship, 1998

Melville in Manhattan, by J. Bottum, First Things, October 1997

Unlucky for some

"A newly published study suggests that a lot of people who have been diagnosed as being in a vegetative state are not in one" according to this report in The Economist, July 23, 2009.

The study is Diagnostic accuracy of the vegetative and minimally conscious state: Clinical consensus versus standardized neurobehavioral assessment, by Caroline Schnakers, Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse, Joseph Giacino, Manfredi Ventura, Melanie Boly, Steve Majerus, Gustave Moonen and Steven Laureys.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Samuel Pepys

Other English commentators, attached to the consensus viewpoint, have read Pepys’s bourgeois sensibility as meaning that he was at heart really a puritan; others again have tried to present him as a Whig trapped in the royalist camp. For the most part, however, these mental gymnastics do not convince, and the unavoidable fact that the great diarist was a supporter of the Stuarts and a Jabobite has led to his relative marginalisation. --Maurice Earls , History Is To Blame, Dublin Review of Books, September 25, 2008, review of The Plot Against Samuel Pepys, by James and Ben Long, The Diaries of Samuel Pepys: a Selection, Robert Latham (ed), and The Glorious Revolution: 1688: Britain’s Fight for Liberty, by Edward Vallance

An Entrancing Ego: Samuel Pepys, by Clara Claiborne Park, Hudson Review, Summer 2004

A Seventeenth-century Modern: Samuel Pepys did not, in fact, tell us everything, by Philip Hensher, The Atlantic Monthly, November 2002

Samuel Pepys: The Man Behind the Diaries, by Charles McGrath, New York Times, December 29, 2002

Play, pay, and obey

Our pastor's column in last Sunday's parish bulletin looks ahead to today, the feast day of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests.
Much has changed since the days of St. John Vianney but not his example of dedicated and humble service.

What does he think has changed?
In the past, the parish priest was often seen as "a one man band." "Father is in charge of everything." Today, the priest’s role is more like the conductor of a symphony.

Or like the conductor at a symphony fantasy camp, given that we players aren't paid, but pay.
His role is to make sure all the gifts and talents are utilized and appreciated. He also strives to see that we are all "playing from the same score."

St. John Vianney's example might lead one to expect a priest would not confuse his conducting role with that of the composer or music director.
Please keep all priests in your prayers. Remember those who have been a positive influence in your life. Let go of the hurts some priests might have inflicted on you.

Sometimes it's not a matter of personal hurt, it's a matter of seeing fellow- parishioners hurt, or damage to the parish as a community.
Above all, let’s renew our commitment to work together to spread the Gospel and to build up the Kingdom of God in our part of the world.

That's closer to my idea of a mission statement than the usual committee-writing is. Maybe more focus on these ends would reduce the need to harp on means:
Please consider our current financial situation as you decide on your church support.

It's rather like "Father is in charge of everything" if it's the pastor's job to talk about money every time collections fall behind last year's pace.

P.S. Last Saturday was the feast of our parish's patron saint, and the bulletin cover has a portrait of St. Alphonsus that some might prefer to his statue. Like the protrait, the bulletin bio also has a soft focus that obscures a few blemishes.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Leonardo da Vinci

Renaissance chess master and the Da Vinci decode mystery, by Raymond Keene, The Times March 10, 2008

Renaissance Man: The life of Leonardo, by Adam Gopnik, New Yorker, January 17, 2005

The da Vinci Mode, review by David Gelernter of Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind, by Charles Nicholl, New York Times, December 5, 2004

The Eyes of Leonardo, review by Ingrid D. Rowland of Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman, Catalog of the exhibition edited by Carmen C. Bambach, an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, January 23–March 30, 2003, The New York Review of Books, April 10, 2003

Divine Ambiguity, review by Gregory Wolfe of Leonardo’s Incessant Last Supper, by Leo Steinberg, First Things, May 2002

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reading Rat First Sunday

Updates to posts on my recommended reading...

Art and Literature

Best Intentions: An Appreciation of Graham Greene, by Andrew J. Bacevich, World Affairs, Summer 2009, review of The Quiet American, by Graham Greene (via Arts & Letters Daily)

So Long as Men Can Breathe, review by David Luhrssen, Express Milwaukee, July 13, 2009 of So Long as Men Can Breathe: The Untold Story of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, by Clinton Heylin

'Pride And Prejudice And Zombies' follow-up announced: 'Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters', by Tasha Robinson, A.V. Club, July 15, 2009

The cover for the new Thomas Pynchon novel is... wow, by Andy Battaglia, A.V. Club, July 15, 2009

Don’t Touch ‘A Moveable Feast’, by A. E. Hotchner, The New York Times, July 19, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Amazon turns 1984 into unbook, by Noel Murray, A.V. Club, July 20, 2009

Lord Byron's Great Insight: Mad, bad, and dangerous, he understood what women wanted, by Katha Pollitt, Slate, review of Byron in Love, by Edna O'Brien (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Society and History

Robert Frost and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution (part 2), by Peter J. Stanlis, Modern Age, Summer 2002

Who Lincoln Was: And was not: the images and illusions of this momentous bicentennial year, by Sean Wilentz, with responses by Michael Kazin, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., John Stauffer and Fred Kaplan, and reply by Sean Wilentz, The New Republic, July 15, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Professor Leszek Kolakowski: philosopher, obituary, The Times, London, July 22, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

South by Southwest, by Neil Safier, review of The Tropics of Empire: Why Columbus Sailed South to the Indies, by Nicolas Wey-Gomez, American Scientist, July 26, 2009, at Review-a-Day

Of One Conservative Mind: T.S. Eliot and Russell Kirk
The Treasonous Clerk column by James Matthew Wilson, review of Eliot and His Age, by Russell A. Kirk, First Principles, July 27, 2009

Science and Technology

Isaac Newton to the rescue, by Paul Collins, The Oregonian, July 9, 2009, review of Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist, by Thomas Levenson

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vote Of The Feet

The local Voice Of The Faithful (VOTF) plans to disband in Fall for lack of new leaders, today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
"It's regrettable," said Father Kenneth A. Milch [sic] of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Menomonee Falls, who sits on the board of the Milwaukee Area [sic] Priest Alliance [MAPA].

"Whenever a voice in the discussion of faith ... is quieted, then we're not as dynamic as we might be."

VOTF was founded in 2002 in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.
Peter Isely, of the local Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [SNAP] group, said Voice of the Faithful had lost its focus and centrist roots, alienated conservatives and ultimately came to duplicate efforts of the reform group Call to Action.

If you look at CTA's list of Regional Chapters, one of the Wisconsin contact persons is Steve Gardipee. Last week's Good Shepherd bulletin thanks him for serving as recording secretary of the parish council. The next item in the bulletin is a blurb for this fall's CTA national conference. It looks like VOTF folding locally might not affect the diversity of voices at Good Shepherd.