Monday, March 18

A PTA group wanted to auction a puppy. Puppy's right's groups raised heck. Auction halted.

Did you know, could you have imagined that this is a controversial practice? Could you have imagined that in a world in which unborn humans are routinely killed for profit and millions upon millions people worldwide live in poverty that there are folks who give their lives to seeing that puppies aren't auctioned and say things like:

"This has huge ramifications," said Christen Gibbons, a dog owner and protester. "If we start auctioning off live animals, what comes next? Children? Other people? It starts to get a little grotesque."

It sure does. Get grotesque, I mean.

NASCAR's Jeff Gordon is about to be available again. Here are the divorce papers, courtesy of the Smoking Gun. Oh, that "marital misconduct!" Watch out girls! Or not.
A really lousy article in Salon (you're kidding!) about Jesus Christ Superstar. . Oh, it's just bad because it's typical Salon: an author over-infatuated with her own experience.

But she's right about something: the importance of JCS for 70's progeny. What she doesn't realize, because it wasn't her crowd, is that some churchy types, far from scandalized, were just as entranced by the show (and Godspell, of course) as anyone else. Most Catholic high school kids were required to watch it at least once, and may even have performed in it.

Traces of Jesus Christ, Superstar in my history: A priest in my college parish using "Hosanna, Heysanna" on Palm Sunday (not the only one, I'm sure). A student of mine in the mid 80's telling me about his mom cleaning house to the soundtrack, echoing at full blast through the house. A production of it at Tampa Jesuit High School a few years ago in which the priest/director, filled with pomp, circumstance and self-importance explaining to the audience beforehand that when he put on the first of his many productions of the show years before he insisted on one change, "Here," he said, "We will have a Resurrection!"

And me? I like a lot of the music in JCS myself. I do. I also like the hats that the high priests wear in the movie.

Stop! Stop! I'm Scandal-ed out! At least for a couple of hours, until Dreher's on Court TV at 5:30.

A few thoughts on children's television. Except for Rugrats, we haven't watched any for a good long while, but now with Joseph, we're back into it, just a little bit, just as much as is decent for an-almost one year old.

My assessment? In the nineteen years I've been a parent, children's television has improved a lot. Really. Think about it. Back when my oldest was little, cable was just a'bornin', and all we had were wretched Saturday morning cartoons (Smurfs...the bane of my early 20's) and PBS. Now the choices are a lot more varied, and there's actually some very good, commercial-free stuff out there, and most of it is fairly free of anvils-bearing-Messages. Our favorites:

Blue's Clues. Every generation, it seems, must have its gently-speaking asexual male on television. For me and my older children it was Mr. Rogers. For Katie, it was the horrible Barney. Now it's Steve, he of the green rugby shirt and big wide eyes on a face that fills up the screen - and that's what babies like - faces. I'll take Steve over Mr. Rogers anyday, myself. His manner is simple and direct, without Mr. Roger's insipidness (word?) and forced non-condescension.

Bob the Builder is good, too, a rather ingenious play on all small children's fascination with construction and trucks. It's just so pleasantly straightforward: Bob the Builder. You know?

The best, though, is Rolie-Polie Olie, which is probably the most charming cartoon I've ever seen. It's based on a book by William Joyce, a fine children's author, and is just a beautiful expression of retro futurism, with jazzy 30's style music in the background and a world in which almost every single object has a face of some sort. Plus, it's a cartoon with simple, 100% irony-free stories and dialogue. As I've said before, I think we've all had enough irony-drenched, wise-assed children's "entertainment" full of pop-culture references and comedian-de-jour's voices. Anarchy is fine. Anarchy is traditional and good in Toon Land. But irony's different, even from anarchy. It's the very opposite of wonder, imagination and enchantment. It's Pixel-ated postmodern meaninglessness. I can't stand it. It makes me tired and makes me feel that someone, somewhere, is trying to impress me with their knowingness, which, in the end, is never impressive.

Instapundit says he doesn't get the outrage over the Catholic Scandal Scene, and wonders what he's missing. Wonders if it's a manifestation of some kind of homophobic double standard. Here's part of a letter I sent to him by way of explanation:

What you're missing:

A vow. Celibacy.

When the violation of that vow takes place in an exploitive context - older/younger; authority figure/kid for whom he's responsible - the violation is most reprehensible. It's a violation, not only of the vow, but of everyone's trust.

The other big issue you're missing is the source of the other layer of outrage, which is the way in which the cases have been handled by the Church hierarchies. They've been aware of problem guys and ordained them anyway. They've had crimes and sins brought to their attention and they've swept them under the rug, sent the offenders away for some cursory "treatment," reassigned them into responsible positions, failed to report criminal activity to law enforcement, and intimidated victims into silence.

This is outrageous on almost too many levels to count, but most fundamentally, it's outrageous because it takes us so many miles away from the example of Christ, the companion to the suffering, God's Truth and Mercy enfleshed among us.

Another level of outrage comes (for those who are aware of these things) in the difference between how these criminals were treated and how a) lay employees of the Church who violate church norms in some way are treated (being fired from Catholic schools for marrying outside the Church, etc) and how b)priests who leave the priesthood to marry are generally treated.

A balanced piece on theories about child predators among Catholic clerics. I think all three of the experts are right, to some degree.
Background on the church that was bombed in Pakistan. Religious news is all about violence these days, it seems. Some hold to religion as a motive - such as the bombers here, we presume, such as the demons who operate under the title of Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Saudi Arabia who are reported to have sent improperly veiled girls back into a burning school building to die. Some are victims because of religion - the dead and injured in the church in Pakistan, the assassinated Colombian archbishop and countless others.

Did you get to Mass yesterday? Hear the Gospel? Do you remember this part?

Jesus wept.


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