Tuesday, March 12

A shooting in a Catholic church this morning. The priest and a parishioner dead. God rest their souls, and I hope we will eventually find out what moved the gunman to murder.
Just listened to Fr. Donald Cozzens on NPR's Fresh Air. It was a fairly good interview, with Cozzens, the author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood, doing an excellent job of dealing with Terry Gross's sometimes dumb questions. She insisted, for example, several times during the interview that the Church was now embarked on a path of prohibiting homosexuals from being ordained. Uh, no, said Cozzens. He put the statements into perspective, saying that since so many of the abuse cases involve homosexual contact with adolescents, obviously someone somewhere thought that might be a good preventive move. A silly one, to be sure, and one made out of panic, but not "official" by any means.

She also tried to suggest that the more you "think" and "question" the less satisfied you're going to be with Church, and that the Church is a monolith of unilateral decision-making. Uh, no, said Cozzens again. He didn't mention, as I would have, that some pretty smart people have been satisfied Catholics, but he did say that the history of the Church is really a history of a community of believers interacting, influencing each other, moving forward (maybe) together towards Christ.

Worth listening to. Here's the Fresh Air website. The interview will probably be archived later today.

Bizarre times. Pretty stupid people. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper reports that visitors are leaving items in tribute to the deceased and the heroes of 9/11 - at the "New York, New York," casino complex in Las Vegas:

I had ventured into New York-New York because I was curious: How had this particular casino, which deals in illusion and escapism, dealt with the horrors that had struck the real New York City?

Predictably, the New York-New York gift shop included tragedy-themed memorabilia--the usual collection of red-white-and-blue T-shirts and Teddy bears and baseballs and hats. A sign near the register informed customers that the inevitable "portion of the proceeds" would go to a victims' relief fund. (Just about every other casino gift shop I visited in Vegas had at least one shelf of merchandise that was obviously manufactured to capitalize on the attacks--I mean, to pay tribute to the day. What better way to demonstrate your patriotism than to buy a T-shirt from the Bellagio that displays an American flag and a message of unity?)

Yet that was minor stuff compared to the outside memorial at New York-New York, which was perhaps the most bizarre tribute I've seen in all my observations and chronicles of how America is dealing with the aftermath of 9/11/01. For six months now, tourists have been leaving candles and shirts and greeting cards and flowers on the "shores" of New York-New York's ersatz harbor.

It's certainly dumb, but it also points out the deep human need for ritual and symbol, something Catholic liturgists, among others, seem to have forgotten.

Excellent article on Christian Schlock:

Christianity at one time made grand contributions to science, literature, the arts, architecture, philosophy and politics. Now we're happy with Scripture-clad Clorets knockoffs and health food promising to make you more spiritual for eating it. And you don't have to limit yourself to these examples. Check out your local Christian bookstore for any number of other inane and pitiful products hyped as "Christian."

What he said. Last summer, Michael went to the Christian Bookseller's Association convention in Atlanta, the monstrously huge gathering of all "Christian" marketeers and buyers. He said it was enough to make you lose your faith.

We always have to be aware of the question: In a commercial culture, when does "evangelization" cross the line into marketing? Is there a difference? What is it?

A few years back, I mocked the "WWJD" fad, and got annoyed letters in response. My response? If the makers of WWJD paraphenalia thought it was such a fabulous tool for evangelization, why didn't they just give the stuff away for free? Huh?

Aaargh. A volunteer student organization at a high school in Hampton, Virginia is running a canned-food drive. You'd think they could name it what they wanted, right? Well, you'd be wrong. They had to change the name from an "Easter" can drive to a "Spring" can drive.

"The faculty members told the students that the school would not allow it because some students of other faiths may be offended by what the club was doing," Dacus said.

No other explanation was given to the students and no legal precedent was used to justify the name change, Dacus added.

This is pretty amazing. A church group is going to build a megacomplex in Jacksonville:

The proposed facility, which would be anchored by a 2,500-seat sanctuary, will be the headquarters of the Logos-Beacon University, a Christian college, restaurants, stores, an academy with kindergarten through 12th-grade, a theater and performing arts center, a radio station, a parking deck, apartments and condominiums, a retirement center, an assisted living facility, a hotel and convention center, and an office building.

"It will have a Disney-like facade that will all be in the same style and have a European flavor," said Gamble Stuebgen, marketing and development manager at Cathedral Services Inc., the managing arm of the holding company.

A column offering a balanced look at sexual predators in church settings - and not just Catholic ones.
Mexican church told to cool it with the deacons. In Chiapas, deacons outnumber priests 5 to 1, and most of the recently-ordained priests are unable to communicate in Indian languages. The Vatican wants a moratorium on deacon ordinations while it reasseses to make sure the hierarchical order of things isn't going topsy-turvy. The answer is easy, seems to me: ordain the deacons as priests. Hierarchy restored. Sort of.
Posted two new columns on the home page.

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