Thursday, June 27

Well, not everyone's avoiding talking about Hell....

Street preacher, asked to sing at a funeral, gets beaten up by mourners when he says the deceased is in Hell...

Molden said that when Bethel began his harangue at the church, mourners froze in shock. "After he sings, he grabs the mike and yells that Lish is burning in hell. He just screamed it out." Molden said that when someone cut off the microphone, Bethel gestured to a young man to bring a bag down front. It was then, Molden said, that people began leaving, fearing there were weapons in the bag. "He pulls out a megaphone," Molden said. "We tried to get him out of the church. I asked him, 'Orlando, why are you doing this?'" Molden said. Molden said that later the Bethels drove up to his home. Orlando Bethel began screaming about hell, and Glynis Bethel, while "speaking in tongues," sprinkled olive oil on Molden. "I thought it was gasoline," Molden said.

A reader poses a pressing question:

Before a meal, is it "Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts . . ." or is it "Bless us, O Lord, for these thy gifts . . . " ??? My family used the former (the logically consistent statement, in my view), but my wife grew up with the latter, and although this is not the sort of weighty issue from whence a schism could spring, it needs to be resolved. So we need a poll of your informed readers!

Enter your exegesis in the comments form!

Nice new Catholic blog on Life with Francis de Sales.
Interesting debate going on in the comments section on my links to the various comments on Goodbye Good Men. (And mind you, I just link 'em, don't necessarily agree with them, including Hand's scorn of NRO, which is rather strange and off the mark.) But what interested me is one commenter's statement that Jason Berry is working on a book about the accusations against the founder of the Legionaires of Christ. Is this true? Any confirmation of this?
We just got back from a nice visit with Michael over in OSV Land. I saw Michael's new, more spacious cubicle, the space of which the big GATOR banner doesn't quite dominate the way it did in the old one. I saw the new Groeschel book From Scandal to Hope, hot off the presses. Saw the illustrations to my two new Prove It books, saw the letter from (gulp) the diocesan censor who pointed out, if not an error, a deeply flawed analogy in one of my books that will lead millions to heresy unless I fix it, which I will this afternoon.

Then we went out for a short visit to a co-workers farm and saw: a little black lamb, three big huge black sheep, nasty obnoxious geese (are there any other kind?), the family's Thanksgiving turkey, which is at this point small enough to hold in our hands, a cow, a mess of kittens peering down from a loft in the barn, three rabbits and a dog. We thought Joseph would be enchanted with the petting zoo - do you know what entranced him the most? The dog. The little "woof-woof" as he calls them. Loved the dog. Looked with half interest at everything else.

Then the three of us went to lunch at a pizza place called, appropriately enough, Pizza Junction, because it sits about a foot from a railroad track on which trains thundered past twice during our meal, much to Joseph's puzzled interest.

Roundup of opinion on school vouchers:

First, the official responses, with some surprising words from the NEA. Ha. Fooled ya.

Next, secondly, from some parents in Cleveland.

I'm still not sold on vouchers, although the most powerful argument I've heard - that the government gives "vouchers" in the form of Pell Grants and so on to college students, who may use them anywhere they please, from UC Berkley to Christendom College - went pretty far to do so. But...

First, the Cleveland and Milwaukee programs are both, as far as I understand it, needs-based, which does not address the basic injustice of parents (of any income) of children in private schools having to pay taxes to support schools they don't use (although a public school system, in theory, benefits all of us as it forms an educated citizenry....oh never mind.).

What of the risks of voucher money going to schools that, as described in this Washington Post article, preach anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism?

Eleventh-graders at the elite Islamic Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia study energy and matter in physics, write out differential equations in precalculus and read stories about slavery and the Puritans in English.Then they file into their Islamic studies class, where the textbooks tell them the Day of Judgment can't come until Jesus Christ returns to Earth, breaks the cross and converts everyone to Islam, and until Muslims start attacking Jews.At the Al-Qalam All-Girls School in Springfield, seventh-graders learn about the American Revolution and about respecting other people's beliefs. But students in class also talk about the taunts they face outside the school gates -- being called "terrorist" and "bomber" -- and ask whether Osama bin Laden is simply the victim of such prejudice. Maps of the Middle East hang on classroom walls, but Israel is missing.

Well, then, you say, put requirements on which schools can receive voucher money. Well then, where does that stop? I doubt it would stop with extreme Islamist anti-Semitism. It might extend to schools that teach traditional moral views on homosexuality or don't provide a "balanced" sex education program, or it might even extend to schools sponsored by institutions that "discriminate" against women by not ordaining them priests.

No one's ever explained to me how that works.

Another question: whatever happened to tuition tax credits? When I was in Catholic high school in the 70's they were all the rage. We were constantly being told to go home and make our parents write to Congress to get them to pass tuition tax credits into law. Whatever happened to that idea? What was wrong with it?

Update:Be sure to read the comments on this one, particular Paul's about tuition tax credits in Arizona. This reminded my of my husband wondering, just last week, what's to stop a parish that runs a school from simply dispensing with tuition and asking parents to contribute, say $1600 a year (tuition at our Catholic school) extra to the parish? There must be a problem with it, or else everyone would do it. There are, however tuition-free schools out there, in tithing parishes. I'd be interested in a discussion of this.

Zefferelli thinking about doing a new St. Francis flick.
Interesting dissents on Michael Rose from the National Catholic Register and Stephen Hand.
From the Washington Post: Good news for school voucher programs from the Supreme Court today. And bad news for students' privacy as the Court also approves public school random drug testing programs.
From the Chicago Tribune (LRR)Daughters of Abby and Ann Landers feuding, echoing their mothers' bad relationship

And these women are advice columnists?

A Boston Globe column on the nun who was fired for helping to baptize babies. Of course, it paints her as a martyr to all kinds of things, but raises the interesting question, no matter how you feel about her actions, one that merits pondering:

For some Catholics, it is most difficult to reconcile the church's unbending doctrine on various matters with its tolerance for crimes committed by sexually abusive priests. Why, for example, is Normandin swiftly fired for pouring holy oil on a baby's head when priests who prey on children are protected?

Forget the misuse of the term "doctrine" in that sentence, and the probability that there's a lot more to the story than one baptism (there usually is...just as there's usually more to the story that "a single incident twenty years ago") does make you wonder a bit, especially when you have any sense at all of how lay employees are treated in many dioceses - that is, lay employees who aren't, except for ordination, part of the hierarchy themselves. Most lay employees, no matter how devoted and loyal they are, work at the whim of their pastor or bishop. They can be fired for anything or nothing. And they are. Frequently. And no, they haven't taken a vow as a priest has, but they have usually made enormous sacrifices - working, if they're a teacher, for often as much as $10,000 less than their public school counterparts, making next-to-nothing as DRE's, youth ministers and music ministers. They could be doing something else. But they're not, because they love the Church. But believe me, if they "make a mistake" - they're out the door, no questions asked, no coddling, no severance. I knew a Catholic school teacher (not Catholic) who got pregnant outside of marriage. She willingly left her position, but requested that her health insurance be continued through the birth of her child. No dice, said the diocese. They were quite willing to cut her off (it was a nun who was in charge of the decision, by the way. Don't listen well people tell you that things would automatically be more humane if women and/or nuns were involved.) A group of very orthodox representatives of the local Catholic pro-life group went to this nun and implored on the teacher's behalf. Still no dice. Finally, a local pastor stepped in and provided the means for her health coverage to continue, somehow.

Sure, the Boston nun probably should have been fired, but pardon our cynicism while we contemplate the double standards of treatment accorded to the ordained and the not-ordained.

A Boston Globe article on a study comparing ethnic segregation in public and private schools shows that private schools tend to be more segregated that public ones (duh) but...

Janine Bempechat, a researcher at Tufts University who has studied achievement in Boston Catholic schools since 1990, said focusing on the racial makeup misses the larger point: that poor and minority students in Catholic schools far outperform their public school peers.In fact, Boston's Catholic schools have drawn increasing numbers of minority students. During the past two decades, the number of nonwhite students in Boston attending private and parochial schools more than tripled, from 3,243 to 11,381, according to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. Catholic schools in Boston are now 42 percent minority and private schools are 38 percent minority. Researchers have said that black, Latino, and Asian middle-class families turning to private schools for the same reasons as whites: concern about the quality of education and the lack of discipline at public schools.''We should be equally, if not more, focused on the outcome,'' said Bempechat. ''The public schools may be more integrated than the Catholic schools, but the outcomes for the poor and minority students are deplorable.''

From the NYTimes (LRR): No one will take responsibility for foreign priests traveling in the US
Scuttlebutt from Palm Beach, non sex-related.

There's a big embezzlement case down there. They've pegged part of the responsibility on one guy, the Director of Finance for the diocese, who embezzled $400,000 between 1988 and 1994 Then Bishop Symons (who resigned because he was a past sexual abuser, replaced by sexual abuser O'Connor. What a wretched situation!) ordered him to pay it back - at a rate of $200 a month. Even that was too much. He's paid back 22 percent of the money.

Now, his ex-wife says that the reason he was treated so gently by the diocese is that someone else was embezzling diocesan funds as well - old Bishop Symons, that's who. In this article, the ex-wife says that:

"His comment to me was that he knew he would not be prosecuted due to the fact that Bishop Symons had also been taking money too for a nephew in Miami who had a drug problem there," she told Eyewitness News 25. "From them not pursuing his obligation all these years, I tend to believe that that might be true," Kott said.

Re: All the snarking at me in the comments on Maggie Gallagher's Giuliani post.

As I said, Rudolph Giuliani rescued New York City. A great mayor for that reason. But, you must remember that pre-cancer, Giuliani was often cited as a potential national candidate (uh...remember he was kind of running for the SENATE at the time), as one of the Great White Hopes of the GOP, and so on. For that reason, his views on abortion and gay rights were important, because, as you might have noticed, the GOP has been undergoing intense struggle over the past twenty years between those who would like it to scuttle the social conservatives (who are, by the way, the ones who've done most of the footwork for the party over the past two decades) and those who see the pro-life plank, for example, as vital to the party's identity. So yes, in the broader context of that struggle on that national level, his position as a prominent member of the party and a potential member of the United States Senate, Giuliani's views on social issues were rather important.

Wow. What a night. A huge storm came through, but before it left, it stayed here and played around for a while. Everything but the hail, I believe. Around 9:45, Michael turned all the lights off downstairs and we all lay on our respective couches (me being Joseph's couch), watched the lightning through our picture window, and eventually dozed off. It made me think that living in the mountains, away from civilized sounds, might not be such a bad thing. We think of the pervasive instant communication we have through television, radio and the internet as a good because it gives us access to information, but it seems, just as often, to be a distraction. Information distracting us from knowledge.


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