The other book was a dramatic contrast: The Monks of Tibhirine about the seven Trappist monks kidnapped and beheaded in Algeria in 1996. The question both books raise is: how can strong adherents to different religions co-exist? The issues raised are about fear, domination, humility, the relationship of religious faith to social, political and cultural structures and power. One might argue that the monks' way, which was the way of simply loving as Christ loved, can't be the answer the question of co-existence since they were robbed of existence. But then, we're moved to ask again, is that finally the point? Is that what Jesus calls us to? Cling to earthly existence no matter what the price to our souls or cost to others? Or does he call us to something different?
Thursday, February 28
Wednesday, February 27
... the Director of Counseling Services at Catholic Charities in Dorchester, a facility that counsels pregnant women, volunteers his Saturdays escorting women into Planned Parenthood's abortion clinic in Boston. The paper confirmed with Catholic Charities spokesperson, Maureen March that Howard M. Brown is a counselor at the centre and further published a photo of Brown in his "Planned Parenthood Escort" uniform.
Here's the original article from the Massachusetts News. And for additional edification on the the problematic nature of many Catholic Charities offices and the relationship of that problematic nature to government funding, see How Catholic Charities Lost its Soul from the City Journal.
This focus on the cruelty of girls is, of course, something new. For years, psychologists who studied aggression among schoolchildren looked only at its physical and overt manifestations and concluded that girls were less aggressive than boys. That consensus began to change in the early 90's, after a team of researchers led by a Finnish professor named Kaj Bjorkqvist started interviewing 11- and 12-year-old girls about their behavior toward one another. The team's conclusion was that girls were, in fact, just as aggressive as boys, though in a different way. They were not as likely to engage in physical fights, for example, but their superior social intelligence enabled them to wage complicated battles with other girls aimed at damaging relationships or reputations -- leaving nasty messages by cellphone or spreading scurrilous rumors by e-mail, making friends with one girl as revenge against another, gossiping about someone just loudly enough to be overheard. Turning the notion of women's greater empathy on its head, Bjorkqvist focused on the destructive uses to which such emotional attunement could be put. ''Girls can better understand how other girls feel,'' as he puts it, ''so they know better how to harm them.''
Brings back memories. None of them good!
The writer, Margaret Talbot, adds some very wise thoughts of her own:
I would never counsel blithe ignorance on such matters -- some children are truly miserable at school for social reasons, truly persecuted and friendless and in need of adult help. But sometimes we do seem in danger of micromanaging children's social lives, peering a little too closely. Priding ourselves on honesty in our relationships, as baby-boomer parents often do, we expect to know everything about our children's friendships, to be hip to their social travails in a way our own parents, we thought, were not. But maybe this attention to the details can backfire, giving children the impression that the transient social anxieties and allegiances of middle school are weightier and more immutable than they really are. And if that is the result, it seems particularly unfortunate for girls, who are already more mired in the minutiae of relationships than boys are, who may already lack, as Christopher Lasch once put it, ''any sense of an impersonal order that exists independently of their wishes and anxieties'' and of the ''vicissitudes of relationships.''
I think I would have found it dismaying if my middle school had offered a class that taught us about the wiles of Marcie and Tracie: if adults studied their folkways, maybe they were more important than I thought, or hoped. For me, the best antidote to the caste system of middle school was the premonition that adults did not usually play by the same rigid and peculiar rules -- and that someday, somewhere, I would find a whole different mattering map, a whole crowd of people who read the same books I did and wouldn't shun me if I didn't have a particular brand of shoes. When I went to college, I found it, and I have never really looked back.
The words of Christopher Lasch, which I bolded above, are particularly important. Dealing with these kinds of problems should be much less complicated and more straightforward in religiously-grounded schools: no dissection of relationship dynamics or sociological cant is necessary: Look to Christ: That's how we treat each other. Boys, girls, teachers, parents, administrators. Period.
Looking for an edge in the battle with Greece and Spain for tourists, Sicily has devised a masterplan: a Roman Catholic Mount Rushmore.
There are plans for the faces of the Pope, Mother Teresa and Padre Pio, a miracle-working friar, to be carved into the hills of Segesta in an effort to corner the lucrative pilgrim tourist niche. If the local mayor has his way, the sculptures will be big enough to be seen from space and will draw 250,000 visitors annually
One can only imagine what the proposed honorees would have to say about such a spectacle.
People are astonishingly ignorant of Christian teachings, and regard themselves competent to define religious positions for themselves, based on their supposed emotional needs, and without any reference to long-established traditions of thought and practice.
This extraordinary departure derives in part from the scorched-earth policies adopted by the Church itself in relation to its own schools back in the 1970s. It was then thought that the teaching of Christianity as a matter of instruction in a received tradition was illiberal.
Christianity was relativised by being represented as one of a number of faiths. Its doctrinal structure was neglected - almost entirely - and in its place a diluted version was conveyed to children scarcely capable of judgments that adults find difficult enough. For the Church schools, the result was plain: they ceased to be recruiting grounds for Christian adherents.
Tuesday, February 26
And for the school kids, the best of all possible worlds: A two-hour delay of the opening bell. They got that extra sleep they always crave, but they don't have to miss a whole day which would, at this point in the game, have to be made up at the end of the year.
Monday, February 25
I finished Prove It: Prayer over the weekend and sent it to my editor. I'm pleased with it. The next task is to revise my outline for the long-awaited sequel to The Loyola Kids' Book of Saints and then work on the book on Jesus' parables.
I had a nice radio interview this morning with Kay Browne, host of a program called "Music and More" on WCAR, Michigan Catholic Radio. It's taped, so I don't know when the interview will air.
Saturday, February 23
Do they have the same criticisms of AA or any of the other countless support groups out there? I doubt it.
Do they consider that perhaps the reason this program lies outside traditional mental health counseling is because most mental health practitioners, from psychiatrists to your basic MA in social work, are trained to do nothing but blow off abortion and cover up the true nature of the act? One of the "professionals" worries that the groups might "increase guilt" feelings. Therein lies the problem. You minimize, cover-up and hide appropriate and necessary guilt, you end up with a demolished and fractured self.
Thursday, February 21
-- Four families have filed suit against a Crown Point church, alleging activities at its popular New Year's Eve overnight lock-in harmed their children.
At the heart of the suit against the Living Stones Fellowship Church is the allegation that the adults who ran the church lock-in at Omni 41 Health and Fitness Connection in Schererville pressured the minor children into activities that caused them physical and mental harm.
Merrillville attorney John Bushemi, who represents the families, alleges in the suit that two of the children, 13- and 14-year-old boys, were pressured into drinking a mixture of dog food, salsa, sauerkraut, sardines, potted meat, eggnog and cottage cheese.
The mixture was first chewed by a church employee, then spit into a cup from which the children drank while crowds cheered them on, Bushemi said.
Soup after Mass. Pretty good. Good crowd, too - probably 150 people, at least.
And he still hates to sleep.
So? Well, it seems as if some students are ....offended by the mural. As the article in The Weekly Standard says,
Last week, the Black Student Union held a town hall meeting with administrators to complain about the artistic depiction of the Klan in a classroom, where, they point out, students cannot avoid it. A columnist for the student paper, the Indiana Daily Student, agreed, saying the mural should be removed to a museum (a move that might damage the mural), so that students who are offended by it could avoid seeing it. The fact that the painting is actually anti-Klan is immaterial, the writer argued: "Many students have found it offensive over the years. While it might be educational to many, this isn't enough to risk offending even a handful of students."
Silence, please, as we remember the countless times those offended by, say, anti-Christian art in public places have been told to pipe down and grow up.
Silence, please, as well, as we remember those who cannot deal with history as it was. Benton's piece is not pro-Klan. It's simply portraying an important part of Indiana history, one which we should not forget.
Wednesday, February 20
Brief thoughts, before I have to get back to work and finish That Darn Book. Today, by golly.
Emotionally, I'm all for the death penalty, especially when it comes to mass murderers and child-killers. At the time, I was willing to put Susan Smith in a car and push her in a lake to drown personally. Andrea Yates evokes the same emotion. But...
At the end of the day, I have to say no. My reasons are not particularly spiritual or high-flown, but they all come down to this: capital punishment isn't equitably meted out. It never has been, and it never will be. In contemporary America, your chances of being executed have much less to do with the crime you've committed than with a) your income , b) where you live and where your case is being tried c) who your victims were. To put it very simply, rich people don't get executed when they commit murder. Heck, rich people hardly ever go to trial when they commit murder.
To emphasize: I have no sympathy with killers whatsoever. I also think it's disingenous for Catholic death penalty opponents to pretend that the present opposition of the Pope to the death penalty isn't a bit of a departure from the bulk of Catholic tradition on the subject. But what we have to remember is this: aside from issues of justice for crimes (a sticky philosophical matter), the death penalty was a part of past society's for one essential reason: Most societies didn't have the means to protect themselves from dangerous criminals aside from killing them. We have those means. And we should use them.
In reflecting on this Andrea Yates case, I see how our discussion about what to do with her would be simplified by taking the death penalty out of the equation. It's obvious the woman should be locked up for the rest of her life, and have her mental illness treated so some day, the reality of what she did can settle into her consciousness and haunt her for the rest of her days.
Quick thoughts. Discuss amongst yourselves.
"I just felt, like, everyone was overreacting," Wurtzel told a Canadian journalist last week about her experience being near Ground Zero on Sept 11. "People were going on about it. That part really annoyed me."
Wurtzel - whose debut book "Prozac Nation" is being made into a movie starring Christina Ricci, while her follow-up, "Bitch," flopped - also declares that when her mother called to tell her a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers, "My main thought was: What a pain in the ass."
She may not have been moved by the horrific spectacle of the massacre but, in retrospect, Wurtzel says, the towers' destruction "was a most amazing sight in terms of sheer elegance. It fell like water. It just slid like a turtleneck going over someone's head. It was just beautiful."
Summing up her feeling post-9/11, Wurtzel muses: "You know what was really funny? After the fact, like all these different writers were writing these things about what it was like, and nobody bothered to call me." Of course, she says, "I don't want to tell other people's stories."
The New York Post has the article. (Link will only be good today.)
Tuesday, February 19
AOL is quietly weighing the pros and cons of informing on dissidents if the Public Security Bureau so requests; the right decision would clearly speed Chinese approval for AOL to offer Internet services and perhaps get a foothold in the Chinese television market.
Now it's "just providing what the consumer wants." In this case, the consumer being the Chinese government and Internet services:
The former Yahoo! rep also admitted that the search phrase "Taiwan independence" on Chinese Yahoo! would yield no results, because Yahoo! has disabled searches for select keywords, such as "Falun Gong" and "China democracy." Search for VIP Reference, a major overseas Chinese dissident site, and you will get a single hit, a government site ripping it to shreds. How did Yahoo! come up with these policies? He replied, "It was a precautionary measure. The State Information Bureau was in charge of watching and making sure that we complied. The game is to make sure that they don't complain." By this logic, when Yahoo! rejected an attempt by Voice of America to buy ad space, they were just helping the Internet function smoothly. The former rep defended such censorship: "We are not a content creator, just a medium, a selective medium." But it is a critical medium. The Chinese government uses it to wage political campaigns against Taiwan, Tibet, and America. And of course the great promise of the Internet in China was supposed to be that it was unfettered, not selective. The Yahoo! rep again: "You adjust. The crackdowns come in waves; it's just the issue du jour. It's normal."
Theoretically, China's desire to be part of the Internet should have given the capitalists who wired it similar leverage. Instead, the leverage all seems to have remained with the government, as Western companies fell all over themselves bidding for its favor.
Well, New York is having the same problem.
Before the meeting to pick a book, the organizers e-mailed an agenda listing some considerations: "Themes: overcoming diversity, embracing city's multicultural population, NYC backdrop?" The committee quickly agreed to favor books that were not too familiar from school reading lists, and not as predictable as other cities' picks.
Quickly discarded were scores of contenders including "Washington Square" by Henry James, "All the King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote and "Underworld" by Don DeLillo. One of the early nominees was Chang-rae Lee's well-received second novel, "A Gesture Life," but its story of Korean "comfort women" during World War II was deemed too remote, too racy and too controversial.
Eventually, the list dwindled to a final four: "Native Speaker," "The Color of Water," "Ragtime," by E. L. Doctorow, and "Report From Engine Co. 82," a fireman's 1972 memoir by Dennis Smith. The nomination of the last book was inspired by the attack on the World Trade Center. It was one committee member's passionate favorite but evoked private eye-rolling from others as too parochial. Several committee members said "Ragtime" seemed overexposed and insufficiently multicultural.
-- It was like watching Andrea Yates' children die again.
To hear the defense tell it yesterday, Yates did not kill her babies, she "interrupted their lives."
When Yates chased down her five kids and held their struggling heads under water, one by one, until they stopped breathing, it was not murder. It was an "incident."
Monday, February 18
... was born and raised on a farm south of Pilsen. He became a priest who worked at his home parish and went on to serve with such distinction as a military chaplain that soldiers who knew him are promoting his case for canonization
Last year, our little town gained some national notoriety because of a proposed production of the play Corpus Christi, in which the gospel story is recast as some sort of gay-rights gala, was being produced at the local branch of Indiana University/Purdue. Don't use our taxes to fund anti-Christian propoganda, and so on. Catholic League got involved, as did our bishop, who wrote against it in the local paper.
This year, Notre Dame University is sponsoring TWO productions of - what else - The Vagina Monologues. Next week.
Bishop? Your opinion? Your control over the university that's in your diocese? Silence.
See, this just doesn't work. You cannot credibly tell society at large how to run its business and then cede all moral authority within your own community. Can't do it.
There's a lot of talk about these cases in the Catholic community, of course, and some of the more "conservative" discussions I've read over on email lists and bulletin boards are almost totally focused on defending clerical celibacy in the wake of these scandals, or blaming the media for jumping on these cases when "just as many" teachers, scout leaders, Protestant ministers, etc. are guilty of being sexual predators.
Let's take the second point first. What? We should be glad that Catholic priests don't prey on young people in any greater numbers than others who are in contact with youth? Shouldn't we be despondent that any priest is guilty of this crime?
On the first point. Sure, it's tempting to take the bait of liberals who use this as a way to attack the practice of clerical celibacy, but we shouldn't for two reasons. First, mandatory clerical celibacy is for the birds. It grew out of particular historical circumstances (concern for using clerical office as part of a family patrimony to pass on to heirs, a negative view of sexuality and women in the culture, and so on), and was an attempt to solve certain problems by applying a monastic ideal to a non-monastic circumstance. It doesn't work, and never really has. Reactors rightly point out that clerical celibacy doesn't directly lead to sexual abuse (many sexual abusers are married, anyway), but the protective culture spawned by mandatory celibacy doesn't help us as a church deal with these issues openly and honestly, either.
Finally, these "conservative" and self-proclaimed "orthodox" reactors are totally missing the other half of the scandal. The sexual predators in clerical collars are bad enough. Just as bad is the cover-up and the criminal way church bureaucrats have dealt with the problem when confronted with it. That's what bothers people just as much as the acts themselves.
Friday, February 15
But World Youth Day organizers, who had 100,000 people from more than 115 countries registered by the end of January, say it's the church's message that doesn't get heard enough by young people.
"The message they will hear at World Youth Day is the one they would not normally hear," said Paul Kilbertus, the event's communications director.
"This event is not for people who live in isolation from the world."
He said youth hear anti-Catholic messages such as `use condoms' every day in the media and on television, even in Catholic strongholds like South and Central America.
"If anything, we are putting forward a counter-cultural message that people will not normally hear."
And, affirming our sense of the IQ of the "alternative" crowd, one of them declares, in the face of half a million Catholic kids descending on Toronto, that
Reformers say that if the church changed some of its traditional stances to accommodate an ever-changing world, more people would come back into the fold
Thursday, February 14
Apparently, the guy won a competition which then enabled him to do a Survivor- type stint in a prison for three weeks. Some of the challenges he was asked to perform were not exactly in tune with his station:
During the competition the 38-year-old priest was made to share a cell with a strip club manager and read an extract from Penthouse magazine as part of one of the challenges
He won. And donated his winnings to a charity. But - all was not well up on his return:
But after he returned to Sydney he discovered his parish priest Brian Larkey had resigned in protest over the incident and Father Kevin was asked to move to Penrith in Sydney's outer west after many of the older parishioners complained.
Fides also accused the European Union and the United States of being sympathetic to China "because of its enormous market and its support for the war on terror."
"In this context, human and political rights are the last worry," Fides said.
Wednesday, February 13
I'm currently reading Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy for pleasure, and Ireland's Holy Wars:The Struggle for a Nation's Soul 1500-2000 by Marcus Tanner and Patrick: the Pilgrim Apostle of Ireland by Máire B. de Paor for work.
Several documents describe efforts to infiltrate religious groups using secret agents, as well as members who are "forced upon secret arrest to work for us." One refers to an order to establish "mobile reconnaissance teams" throughout the country to conduct electronic surveillance of suspects.
"Secret forces are the heart and soul in covert struggles and the crucial magic weapon in our battle against and victory over the enemy," it says, urging security agents to focus on Falun Gong members, underground Catholics and private businessmen with complicated political backgrounds, as well as university professors and students.
Tuesday, February 12
Big Media loves these kind of speech regulations, which only apply to players other than themselves. If the panoply of restrictions in the bill actually became law, perhaps the biggest single beneficiary would be Big Media: Those who own and produce the content of the news sources on which many Americans already are overly reliant. Under these restrictions, Big Media would have even greater power to define the public-policy agenda, and the average citizen would be even more dependent on the biases of media gatekeepers.
Local communities join to preserve religious orders' property. Not that the religious orders are interested in seeing them preserved, mind you.
...residents believed the Mallinckrodt convent would remain safe in the hands of Loyola University. The university has taught classes in the building off Ridge Road since 1991, leasing it until 1998. Loyola bought the property for $11.6 million from the Sisters of Christian Charity and recently stunned the community with its announcement that it intends to sell the land to a developer.
Residents immediately objected to plans by developer Edward James and Valenti Builders to raze the historic 180,000-square-foot building to construct 60 new homes.
The Rev. Zlatko Sudac, 31, who arrived here on temporary assignment five months ago, has stunned an ever-growing number of worshipers with other astounding claims, among them the ability to heal, levitate, be in two places at once and know the future.
He's got a cross embedded on his head.
Note to up-and-coming mystics: This is not the way of authentic mystical experience. Mystics like Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila and so on didn't "go on tour" and make "claims" about their experiences. They tried to do what Jesus said to do about prayer and spirituality: Keep it quiet and do God's work of love.
Worcester diocese officials acknowledged yesterday an accused pedophile priest long deemed ``missing'' has been receiving a regular check from the church - even though he runs an English teachers training school in Mexico and Boston.
Kane was located last week in Guadalajara, Mexico, from where he sent Houston attorney Daniel Shea an e-mail stating, ``Greetings from the city of eternal springtime . . . living here in Mexico for five years now and love it.''
Monday, February 11
An Italian town dubbed the Roman Catholic Las Vegas has set up a television station devoted to Padre Pio, a monk credited with performing miracles who is expected to be canonised in the next few months.
Capuchin friars at San Giovanni Rotondo launched Tele Padre Pio at the weekend in the first phase of a plan to beam the monk's face around the world.
The town apparently draws about 7 million pilgrims a year, and hundreds of hotels have sprung up to house them. In addition:
A £1m bingo hall has opened near the crypt and some pilgrims are accused of seeking Padre Pio's intervention to guarantee the right numbers.
For example, another recent study found that by brain scanning the spiritual while they were meditating, it was possible neurologically to account for the religious sense of transcendence - oneness with nature or unity with God. The brain scanner showed that during meditation the part of the brain responsible for orientation of the body in physical space, the parietal lobe - near the top of the brain - went to sleep
What the author, and most people writing about this, don't understand, is that the Christian view is not that God's work occurs outside of human nature - it occurs within it, and uses it. Christianity is not angelism - it's a faith that is centered on the Incarnation, for pete's sake. So our answer to "discoveries" like those above should be, "So what? That's how God works."
.At Asbury United Methodist Church, located at K and 11 streets, worshipers will accommodate the runners, said the Rev. Eugene Matthews. "We have worship at 8 and 11 a.m. I'm hoping we can come to some accommodation. I'm not too happy that a marathon dictates how we worship."
Sunday, February 10
Saturday, February 9
So. Was it worth it, guys?
The question that most reasonable people can't help asking is - why? Why didn't the powers-that-be handle these cases and get rid of the offending priests? Here are the answers, as unpleasant as they may be:
A cycle of subtle-almost-blackmail that exists within ministerial circles. In short, the unspoken threat that if "you hurt me, I'll reveal your sins."
The priest shortage. Most dioceses are absolutely desperate for priests, ordain anything with the right chromosones that walks, and have hardly anyone in seminary. You let ten percent of your priests loose, you only make it worse.
Fear of appearances. Irrational, of course, but that's the way it works with sin. You cover up at first, thinking that will take care of it, and that covering up is better than letting people know the sin has occurred, because the general knowledge of this sin would, you fear, cause a whole lot of unpleasant consequences for your institution. It's a view that pays scant attention to two factors: the victims and reality.
Another question that all of this information should raise in the informed mind is the startling difference between the way these criminal priests were treated by their archdioceses and the way that priests who leave active ministry for various reasons, above-board and with clear consciences, are treated. Do you think they are left on the diocese's payroll for years? No. In most dioceses, they may be given some initial support after they leave, but then they're cut off in every concievable way: they're even officially banned from publicly participating in most aspects of church life (parish work, teaching, etc), although most bishops are quite flexible on this score, recognizing the lunacy of not using the gifts and talents of good men in whom the church has made an investment.
45 million dollars.
Thursday, February 7
Though the measure is rarely enforced, the political activism of some conservative Christians over the past two decades has caused religious and political liberals to demand that the tax-exempt status of some conservative ministers be revoked. These same people are mostly silent about the political activism of liberal clergy, especially those who are African-American who preach politics, lobby Congress and endorse candidates from the pulpit.
Thomas is skeptical about the proposed legislation, and instead suggests that churches should just be willing to give up their tax-exempt status voluntarily, a position with which I agree:
But if clergy choose to be political, they don't need special privileges from government. If they choose to eschew politics, they don't need government subsidies, unless God has run out of money.
One can't help but wonder if fear of losing that sacred 501(c)(3) status has more to do with the largely ineffectual and low-key anti-abortion "efforts" of most RC bishops over the past three decades.
Most of what passes for relativism today is fake. Your average relativist is only a relativist when she is trying to discredit your standards. Try lighting up a cigarette too close to her, you'll find out how relativist she is!
Not so long ago, a friend of mine was debating on talk radio someone described as a "former nun lesbian abortion rights activist" (I kid you not), when the question came up of belief in moral standards. The former nun was having none of it--no talk of "medieval absolutes and all that baggage." The host asked my friend if he believed in absolutes, but before he could answer, the former nun burst in: "Name one."
My friend didn't have time to think, but by a gift of grace shot back immediately: "Thou shalt not rape."
On the air hung three delicious seconds of silence
Actually, a response that gets to an even more fundamental level would be this: To say that there are no absolutes is...a statement of an absolute. That's the philosophical conundrum that relativism ultimately can't fix.
Wednesday, February 6
Columnist Linda Chavez writes of a 30-year old high school teacher in Maryland who has re-introduced diagramming into her classroom. Interesting.
My mother liked to tell the story of someone she knew who, during a perfectly miserable stint in the Pacific during World War II, passed the time by diagramming The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Come to think of it, such activities aren't a total thing of the distant past. One of my former colleagues, an English teacher, told me that he had a professor at William and Mary (in the early 90's) who had his class diagram the first book (I think....) of Paradise Lost.
You'd think that in these days in which educators are so keen on students' different "learning styles" and the importance of the visual for some learners, that diagramming would be the rage. Of course not. Silly me.
the award is given in honor of William Wilberforce, an 18th century British parliamentarian who stood against his party in his campaign to abolish the slave trade.
"In his 22 years of service as a U.S. Congressman, Christopher Smith has led high profile, often controversial, legislative crusades for human rights, both nationally and around the world," the press release stated. The Washington Post has called Smith a "hero" in the human rights field, "always ready to take up the cause of foreign political prisoners, child laborers or those who suffer religious persecution," including Christians in China.
Chris Smith is, indeed, one of the few people of real integrity in Congress. Along with his activism for the rights of already-born humans, he's unswervingly pro-life.
Officials had hoped the center initially would draw an average of 500 people a day, and eventually bring in about 1,300 daily visitors. The daily flow, however, has been about 150 people -- about 41 percent of whom hail from the District, Maryland or Virginia, officials said.
Yikes. 150 a day. One more chapter for "Great Stories of Catholic Evangelization."
If you've not read Shusaku Endo's novel about the persecutions, Silence, you really should. Paradoxical and powerful. Just like faith.
But what's amusing is Greeley's critique of the series for its language, violence and nudity. Andrew Greeley criticizing a cultural product for being vulgar? Really? Tell me more.
He also faults the series' portrayal of Catholicism, a criticism with which I agree, but not quite for the same reasons. The language used to talk about faith in the series is always a little off, and never quite rings true. But what's good about this dimension of the series is that Carmella's "faith," as awkwardly expressed as it is, is an important part of her character because it exposes her deep hypocrisy, something that comes out with great poignancy in the third season.
He also says that there's not a priest to be found who would advise Carmella to stick with Tony. I don't know. You can find priests who do a lot of things these days: abuse kids, cover up for abusers, sell Ecstasy, or manufacture date-rape drugs. Finding one who'd tell a rich mafia wife to stay with her husband might not be so hard.
I'm not one of those who would proclaim that The Sopranos is the greatest thing ever to hit television, but I would say that it has had some excellent moments and is working at a theme that Greeley just doesn't seem to grasp. I think the fundamental theme and tension of The Sopranos is not about the whole therapy/Mob thing. It's about the incredibly hypocrisy of Carmella and Tony as human beings, and particularly as parents: On their kids to constantly be good, succeed, punishing them for breaking curfew, engaging in vandalism, back talking, when they are pretty much immoral creeps, both in their own way. It will be interesting to see how David Chase continues to work with this in the fourth season. If it ever comes.
Tuesday, February 5
Another book on media bias is out, one that's apparently more balanced in tone and a little deeper in argumentation: Coloring the News by William McGurn.
A good blog about media matters by an anonymous media guy is Media Minded. Well worth reading is his continuing saga of slipshod, lazy, stereotype-bound reporting he's encountered in Profiles in Discourage.
Monday, February 4
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Monday criticized his church's position against the death penalty, saying that Catholic judges who believe capital punishment is wrong should resign.
The devout Roman Catholic said after giving it "serious thought" he could not agree with the church's stand on the issue.
The Vatican under Pope John Paul II has been strongly anti-death penalty, and the pope has personally appealed to leaders to commute death sentences. In 1999, he said capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are part of a "culture of death."
Scalia told Georgetown students that the church has a much longer history of endorsing capital punishment.
"No authority that I know of denies the 2,000-year-old tradition of the church approving capital punishment," he said. "I don't see why there's been a change."
By the way, Joseph is, of course, the brother of Ralph. Both are the children of the late Jennifer Lash, a writer who penned a very nice little book called On Pilgrimage about her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the wake of cancer treatments.
According to Behe, he does not infer design from what we do not know, but rather, from what we do know. “To Darwin, the cell — and every microbiological function — was an unknowable black box; that is, it did neat and interesting functions, but nobody knew how it actually worked. Now that it is possible to look into this box, it is necessary to try and apply Darwin’s theory to it.”
And the results? Surprising.
Last year alone there were three withering studies of self-esteem released in the United States, all of which had the same central message: people with high self-esteem pose a greater threat to those around them than people with low self-esteem and feeling bad about yourself is not the cause of our country's biggest, most expensive social problems.
What's next? A front page story in the NYTimes about the connections between abortion and breast cancer?
Anyway, read this article. If you're a teacher or someone who has to deal with administrators, counselors and others telling you to always put "self-esteem" at the center of your concern for children or youth, copy this and force them to read it.
Saturday, February 2
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