Monday, January 28

Okay. This is really strange. I got posted on the Free Republic Website. And no, I wasn't looking for myself - I regularly troll through the articles that the Freepers post in the "Culture and Society" and "Philosophy" sections, looking for column and Blog fodder. And there I was, in the former. Or rather, the title of my OSV article on Oprah Winfrey, then the article itself and a slew of (mostly positive) comments. Whew.

Here 'tis.

Now, I like Alan Keyes very much, but I'm not so sure about his new show on MSNBC called "Alan Keyes is Making Sense." I've watched it in bits and pieces and haven't been drawn in as yet. Jonathon Last watched the whole first week and has his very amusing take on it in the Weekly Standard.
Something nice:

A cinder-block church, adorned with a cast-iron bell made in Ohio, is going up in the center of the mountainous village of Chex in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

The church symbolizes unity and reconstruction.

It was built with money earned by undocumented workers in factories and on farms in Northeast Ohio.

``It is a reminder that we care about our village, especially the little ones,'' said Santos, a 40-year-old Chex native living in Tuscarawas County. ``We started the project with money, but those in Guatemala gathered more money to finish the church, and they have done all of the work to build it.''

Here's the article.

Ran across these articles last night: From the alternative Los Angeles New Times, two articles you might want to read about the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the new behemoth cathedral, Cardinal Mahoney, and deals with the death industry:

Taj Mahoney

and Unholy Alliance.

Joseph loves music. For several months now, he's been bouncing to a good beat, and now he's added another move to his repetoire: waving. He bounces, and waves one arm with great enthusiasm when a song he likes comes on. His favorites right now are:

Fuggi,Fuggi,Fuggi, a very winning Renaissance ditty performed by the New World Renaissance Band on an album put out by Nightwatch Recording, which we have on a free CD we got at the hospital called "Smart Symphonies," distributed by one of the Evil Formula Entities, Enfamil.

He also likes two cuts from the Three Mo' Tenors album:

Let the Good Times Roll and Minnie the Moocher

But really, anything with a strong beat will do. I just got him through the hated diaper change with Carlene Carter's Every Little Thing from her Little Love Letters album.

Michael Novak takes on Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's TNR piece on Catholicism and anti-Semitism.
In college, over twenty years ago, Ed, Lucy and I were best friends. Since then, we've all made our way through life and ended up ...whereever we've ended up. (as it happens, both Ed and I are in Indiana at the moment). But here's the strange and sad thing.

Over the past nine months, all three of our mothers have passed away. Mine in April, Ed's in late summer, and Lucy's late last week. I'm going to quote from Ed's letter on the subject:

I have to believe that we have some control on when we leave this life. Our Mother's would never leave until they knew that we would be fine. All three were strong dames and (my experience at least), they were tired and ready,
and they knew that we had support and love to deal with this passage.

Your prayers for Lucy and her family...

This is Catholic Schools week, so no doubt you'll be seeing lots of articles in your local newspapers about the wonders of Catholic schools. Believe some of it. My view, as a former Catholic school teacher and now 13-year veteran of having children in Catholic schools: Catholic grammar schools are not only worth every penny we spend on them and much more, they are a necessity. It should be a no-brainer for Catholic parents to send their young children to Catholic elementary schools or homeschool them with a strong Catholic sensibility. The education of young children is, by nature, value-laden, and there's no excuse for those values not being Catholic ones.

Unfortunately, Catholic secondary schools are another matter. Buyer beware. Despite glossy PR materials crowing about "values" and "spirituality", Catholic schools are not always what they'd like you to think they are, and this is why. Catholic high schools are so expensive to run, there is the constantly-present temptation to please donors and influential parents. Way too often, this leads to a watering-down of academic standards or (depending on the type of school) an achievement-oriented elitism that is antithetical to the vision of true, wholistic, Catholic education that meets the needs of all, not just the highly-motivated and well-connected. In other words, Catholic high schools fall prey, way too often, to the ills that befall all private schools.

The other problem is teen culture. For teens, the culture produced by and sustained by peers, is a very important factor in development. In case you're not getting my drift, in general, teen culture is saturated in sex, substance abuse and a certain amount of cruelty. It takes really strong kids to survive this intact, and it's only possibly when they surround themselves with similarly-minded kids who are, in turn, supported by wise and strong adults. Too often in Catholic high schools, adults are indifferent to the negative power of teen culture, and don't do enough to build up the positive elements. When this happens, serious kids end up feeling ostracized just as much as if they were in a public school, and perhaps even more, given their hopes of finding a niche in what purports to be a Catholic school.

So. If you've found a great Catholic secondary school, good for you, and good for your kids. But if you're unsure of whether the Catholic high school in your area is really what it says it is, don't feel guilty. Good Catholic high schools are a blessing. Bad ones (and they do exist) do a lot more harm than good.

It's not pleasant, but it's important. Catholics can't ignore the problem of sexual abuse within the Church. We can't ignore the facets of the ministerial culture that has stubbornly resisted honesty and integrity in dealing with perpetrators. Here are today's links on the matter:

From Saturday's Boston Globe, on another priest perp.

From the Boston Herald, an article about a (lay) youth minister convicted of sex crimes and the institutional church's response to the pleas of a church secretary to take note of suspicious behavior. See if you can connect the dots and discern motivations.

An article from the October issue of Crisis magazine on the subject.

2002 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Peter Rabbit. An encouraging note for aspiring writers: The book, originally composed by Beatrix Potter in a letter to the son of her former governess, was rejected by six publishers.

The official Peter Rabbit site is quite nice.

Today is the feastday of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Some interesting facts about Aquinas for those who'd like to know:

He was kidnapped by his family and held prisoner for (we think) about a year. Why? He wanted to join the Dominicans. They wanted him to stay with the Benedictines and continue to play the nobleman-cleric, rather than humiliate them by becoming one of those mendicant friars.

His work was radical for its time: integrating the ancient, yet newly-discovered thought of Aristotle with Christian theology. He was condemned by some, especially Franciscans, after his death, for this.

He was not, as some might have you believe, a cold rationalist. He had a strong mystical streak, evidenced by his hymns and prayers. A few months before his death, he experienced a particularly strong ecstasy during Mass, which moved him to set down his pen and write no more. In explanation, he wrote,

"I can do no more. Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value.

Or, as it is popularly related, "it is all like straw."

As you might expect, there are many good online sources for information on St Thomas:Here's the Catholic Encyclopedia article. Here's the Open Directory collection of links. And Here's the full text of G.K. Chesterton's biography of St. Thomas.

Celebrate St. Thomas Aquinas today: Feed the intellect God gave you in a worthy way, and pray.

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