Wednesday, March 6

This is interesting. We all know Christopher Hitchens as a principled leftist who calls them as he sees them, even as we may disagree. We like what he says about Clinton, but one of his more disturbing works was a screed against Mother Teresa. I see from this article that

He notes with considerable pride that the notoriety of his book on Mother Teresa led the Vatican to invite him to "play Devil's Advocate in the literal sense." He was recently impelled to give arguments against Mother Teresa's canonization

Not too shabby! My husband Michael edited and wrote the preface to a book called Latin Sayings for Spiritual Growth. An acquaintance of his took the book to Rome when she met with an old friend. He signed Michael's preface page. You can see the signature here. Might be someone you've heard of.
Lots of Catholics running for governor in California. This article, posted on the Free Republic site (sorry, I'm too lazy to go search out the original), is a good examination of the way Riordan, Davis and Simon live out (or not) their Catholic faith. Now, only Davis and Simon remain, in what will be a fascinating race.
Whoa. Here's a strong column from the Boston Herald on the issues I touched on below regarding priesthood and homosexuality The onion keeps on peeling, revealing more and more. Maybe we'll get to the center, eventually.
WELL. Here's an article that ran a couple of weeks ago, but that I missed.

Conference to evangelize Catholics draws nearly 1,000:

Approximately 800 to 1,000 members of Heritage Bible Church and Hampton Park, Colonial Hills, Community and Mount Calvary Baptist churches took part in the ongoing four-day conference "To Open Their Eyes" at Hampton Park. [South Carolina]

Following Minnick's sermon, audience members split into six smaller groups to hear topics such as "Is the Mass worshipping Jesus?" and "Six Catholic requirements for salvation."

Organizers said they are holding the conference to equip their congregations for evangelizing the growing number of Roman Catholics moving into Greenville, a statement that has inflamed members of the original Christian church. But Minnick, pastor of Mount Calvary and a professor of Bible at Bob Jones University, said that official Roman Catholic teachings are misleading the faith's one billion adherents.

"The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ completed everything necessary for man's salvation, that he did it all, that he paid the whole penalty for our sins," he said after his sermon. "Roman Catholicism teaches that people all their lives have to contribute through their observance of the sacraments, through their works of charity. This is what Mother Teresa was trying to do. She was trying to be good enough to merit entrance into heaven."

And you know, of course, they'll say she failed.

See, here's the problem with most Catholic leaders and catechists (not those quoted in the article, who can't help but be aware and are doing what they can) - they think that everyone shares their current "All that matters is that you believe - in something" mentality. Well, they don't. And there are loads of folks out their convinced that Catholics are damned. A lot of them will be showing up at World Youth Day in Toronto this summer. Catholic Answers is one of the organizations getting ready to meet them head on. Write them for more information on what they're doing.

Almost a thousand people meeting in Greeneville, South Carolina to learn how to convert Catholics? I think I just got an opening anecdote for my NCEA talk.

Here's a haunting photo of some Guatamalan children burning incense during a Lenten observance.
Wondering why cloning should be banned? Here's why, from an article by Wesley Smith in the Weekly Standard.
Two columns finished and a trip to Wal-Mart in between! Now I just have that longer article to pen, which I will not push myself on today. I'll finish up my thinking and research today, start the thing tonight, and hop in with a running start tomorrow morning during Nap #1.

Family News: Katie got a part as Pharoah in her school choir's production of some silly play about the Exodus, which, upon a quick read, has the same effect as many religious products aimed at children - trivializing the events narrated. But oh well. Pharoah with braces on her teeth coming your way on April 28.

David should start playing golf any day now. He said that their coach said the first day it's above 40 and not raining, they'll be out on the course. Sounds fun.

Christopher is glad basketball season is over except for the SEC tournament. His main occupation now is working on the spring sports program, which he will have a big role in producing - the two main guys in the department break their backs working during football and basketball season, and see this as their respite, handing the reins over to the 19-year old experts.

Moments in maternal pride, probably misplaced: So my oldest son, who now lives in an apartment, calls me a couple of weeks ago and tells me that he spent forty bucks at the grocery story, stocking up on his Lenten Friday foods: cheese pizza, vegetarian vegetable soup, meatless pasta, salad and the like. Good. I just hope he's interested in doing something about his faith the rest of the week as well...

Here's a photo of a Carmelite nun casting her vote in Ireland's abortion referendum. Do all nuns from the British Isles look like Sister Wendy?
You've probably noticed that I've not blogged on the Church's Scandal-O-Rama recently. Why? Well, first of all, I could fill up this blog every day all day with notes and astonished entries like "What were they thinking?" and "Liar!" given the steady, daily stream of revelations from Maine to California. That would get boring.

Secondly, I'm mulling over a longer article on the situation - for whom? Probably nobody. But it's just about time for a clarifying analysis of the Disaster So Far, and I need to put my mind to it, even if for no one's sake but mine.

Third, this whole weird "Homosexuals Shouldn't Be Priests flap has added a whole new dimension to the conversation. Actually, it's not a new dimension. It's the unspoken dimension that, quite frankly, is at the root of a lot of this, and that no one wants to address. Even me.

Here's my quick take, due for clarification in the days to come:

There are two types of sexual predators at issue here: Pedophilia, which is about those who prey on pre-adolescent children, sometimes of either sex, and ephebophilia, which is about adolescent-focused homosexual desire. Homosexual activists are always quick to decry any purported connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, and they are correct to do so. Lots of pedophiles are creepily-married men. But the latter? Sorry. There is a connection between homosexuality and the attraction to adolescents. Geez. It doesn't take a genius to see that. Go back to the Greeks. Go to stories about the re-emergence of pederastry in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Go to this article by Mary Eberstadt, originally published in the Weekly Standard and vigorously decried by Andrew Sullivan, who, again, correctly points out that heterosexuals are no strangers to innappropriate attractions. Watch the Bob Dole/Britney Spears Pepsi commercial to get a cringe-inducing sample of that.

But still. We have to be honest about this, and the truth is that when adolescent males are victimized by homosexual priests, that does, indeed have something to do with homosexuality. It has do with a lot more, too, and it's no more a reason to "ban" homosexuals from the priesthood than suspiciously cozy relationships between priests and their secretaries or priests and their housekeepers is a reason to ban heterosexuals, but it does have something to do with homosexuality!

A tale of two renovations:. First, there's St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pilsen, Kansas, which has been restored to its past beauty:

As a jeweler takes a semi-precious stone and polishes it, artist Don Wendt has taken the interior of St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pilsen and restored it to a brilliance that rivals any rare gemstone.
"He took pride in his work," said Terry Vinduska, a congregant at St. John. "These other people are church painters-Don is a true artist."

St. John Nepomucene congregants are responsible for the renovation of their church, a lengthy project that is still in progress.

The restoration plans were approved by the Catholic Diocese in Wichita and inspired, in part, by the push to designate Father Emil Kapaun a saint.

Kapaun was born in Pilsen and is revered for his dedication and heroism as a military chaplain.

Contrast this with an account of a meeting regarding the future of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Los Angeles, led by the notorious Father Richard Vosko:

"In the old days, everything used to be out there," said Father Vosko, "but, with man landing on the moon, and the discovery of other universes, our conception is no longer that everything is out there, but WE are out there." From this followed a barrage of images depicting other religions, including shamans climbing a formidable hill in Nepal. All of this was visual stimuli for some difficult-to-understand concepts: how we all "dream of a better life journey," that the Church is nothing more than "a metaphor of the individual," and that "the automobile has compromised our faith," the latter being accompanied by a picture of downtown traffic in Los Angeles.

Those gathered were justifiably horrified by a slide of one of Fr. Vosko's projects, the interior of Our Lady of Lourdes in Oakland. (scroll down to photo on lower left).

One of the parishioners, a leader in the group dedicated to preserving the structure, says,

Being an excellent example of the Mission Revival style," says Joseph Gonzalez, official spokesman for the St. Charles Borromeo Preservationist Guild, the church "is a central element of the architectural history of Southern California. In a city that is starved for a sense of history, St. Charles has provided a point of reference -- one that is both real and symbolic. The church complex has been published in studies of Los Angeles architecture and is recognized as one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical structures in Los Angeles." Gonzalez, who holds a PhD in renaissance history from UCLA (his dissertation was on ritual), and who has been a parishioner of St. Charles for over thirty years, is particularly concerned that any changes to the interior design of the church will be incongruous with the rest of the building. "The quality of the church architecture," said Gonzalez, "is only surpassed by the beauty of the church furnishings which form a harmonious whole with the church structure. The altar is graced by a spectacular carved wood baldachino, which is at least 20 feet high. With the frescos that depict the stations of the cross and the beautiful stained glass windows, St. Charles forms an integral whole. It is a work of art and a spiritual refuge of incredible beauty that should not be sacrificed to any individual's whims -- however well intentioned they may be."

Read the whole story and be horrified at the contempt that the pastor, his religious sister associate, and Father Vosko have for the people of the parish, and, we can assume, the rest of us as well.

My guilt over not blogging is compounded by my discovery - via Google - of how many other blogs of which I've never heard have linked to stuff I've written here. Geez. Sorry. More blogworthy stuff later.
Pardon the sparse blogging. I have - count 'em - three - deadlines to meet today, and I'm not making much progress. The least urgent will undoubtedly be pushed to tomorrow, but there remain two columns that absolutely have to get finished this morning. After that, blog-o-rama!


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