Sunday, July 7

Allrighty then:

Here are a couple of pictures of my oldest and my youngest

Here are some pictures of Joseph's adventure at the world famous Headwaters Park Fountain today.

Trip pictures (including the eagerly awaited Terrible Towel Photo) will come later in the week. I forgot to take ANY of my cameras, digital or film, so I had to buy a disposable. I'm getting it developed at Wal-Mart, where they'll put the photos online as well as give you prints. We'll see how that goes.

I'm working on a photo page - come back a bit later for that.
A new Catholic blog:

The New Gasparian: Dedicated to the Life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and the Spirituality of the Precious Blood. The on-going mission in this modern world to share the good news of a spiriituality of hope and communion.

Should be a good one. Did I ever tell you about the time I saw St. Gaspar's arm bone? It's not too far from here, actually, over in Ohio in a huge former seminary that's now a retirement home for the Precious Blood Fathers.

An article from Grand Rapids offers an account of the removal of two priests from ministry including one just ordained last month.

Oooops. So much for that "strict screening" we've been assured about.

Notes from our travels:

I've been to several Big Cities in our area (and a little beyond) over the past year (Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Pittsburgh) and my very brief visits have led me to an undoubtedly shallow judgment: I liked Pittsburgh the best. At least as far as the downtown area goes. It's on the rivers, of course, and there's been some nice development down there. Sort of reminded Michael of Jacksonville. There's no question, with all due respect to its past difficulties, that Detroit is my least favorite. It's a mess - no "there" there, despite the obvious efforts to develop something attractive. It's not working. The huge Greektown Casino is a cheesy deal, the new Tigers' stadium is deeply reminiscent of the Swan or the Dolphin hotels at Disneyworld with huge tigers springing from its facade every few feet, and there are apparently no regular smaller downtown businesses in the area to bring a sense of people, rather than just buildings stuck there to get folks to come from the outside in.

Funniest moment of the trip: Joseph sprawled asleep in my lap during the Pirates-Astros game, startled to half-awakeness by sudden cheers. In a split second, his eyes open to slits, he raises his arms above his head, claps twice, and then collapses back into sleep.

Greatest rant-making moment: Our time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, naturally. Not my kind of place, but Christopher asked to go, so we went. I hasten to add that he was unimpressed, as well, so his critical faculties are obviously still intact.

Of course, much has been written about the this place, so there's not much to add, but I was, nonetheless struck by the continual ironies: a monument set up to celebrate music that celebrates rebellion, that self-consciously mentions the rebellious nature of its subject constantly doing the following: charging a hefty admission fee, slapping plastic armbands on ticket holders, herding people Disney-like into theaters to watch films (one good, one ordinary) before they begin the tour, and then the usual museum rules. The museum rules which, of course, obligated one little pierced gatekeeper who probably spends her non-working hours defying her parents and disrespecting her teachers telling ME to take Joseph's little smidgen of pretzel away from him because, you know, food's not allowed in the place devoted to cretins who pride themselves on who can tear up a hotel room the fastest and best.

And then, of course, there's the whole lie of the rock-and-roll pose, anyway. It's not about rebellion. It's about pretending that you're rebellious so you can exploit adolescents' need to rebel right down to the bottom of their wallets. The whole thing makes me gag.

From the LATimes (LRR): Russian Orthodox giving Roman Catholics a hard time

In the latest sign of tension Monday, the Orthodox Patriarchate issued a statement saying a recent decision to set up Roman Catholic dioceses in Russia amounted to a violation of understandings between the two churches. It accused the Catholic Church of poaching believers and of activities "aimed at expanding the Catholic presence in this country." Tension between Catholics and Orthodox burst into the open in February when the Vatican decided to change what had been called "apostolic administrations'' in Russia into four full-fledged dioceses. The Orthodox Church was livid, declaring the move an invasion of its "canonical territory" even though there are far fewer than 1 million Catholics among Russia's 144 million people. The Orthodox patriarch, Alexi II, labeled the Vatican a "foreign government" bent on setting up "illegal government structures" on Russian soil. In the aftermath, Catholic parishes became targets for demonstrations. Some foreign clerics, including Polish-born Bishop Jerzy Mazur, found themselves cut off from their flocks when they were stripped of visas and denied entry to Russia. The Vatican says it never received an explanation for Mazur's expulsion, or even a reply to its appeal for his reinstatement.

Lutheran pastor supsended for praying with pagans at post-Sept 11 prayer service at Yankee Stadium.
Is it pop or soda?

Here's a link to a website that tries to answer the question.

This sounds like an interesting film: (from the LATimes, LRR)

The Road to Perdition, directed by Sam Mendes,tells the story of Irish gangsters in Illinois, presented in part, in the context of their Catholicism:

"I think the Catholicism in the film is crucial," says Mendes, the Oscar-winning director of "American Beauty," "because it gives these people a structure that tells them it's still possible to be saved." Paul Newman is cast uncharacteristically as a vicious Irish godfather, Rooney, who rules a criminal empire in rural Illinois in 1931. The story focuses on his most trusted henchman and surrogate son, Michael Sullivan (the Hanks character), depicted as a once-poor immigrant who took up with Rooney when it was the only work he could get. But Sullivan is not proud of his violent job and tries to keep it a secret from his two young sons. From "Public Enemy" to "GoodFellas" movies have developed their own gangster mythology--and like most mythology it's one that is only loosely related to reality. "Road to Perdition" relies upon this mythology but gives it a different twist, one that's rooted in a religion in which even the priests are part of the gang.

See if you can keep your eyes dry when you read this one:

Depopulation of rural areas forcing many churches to close.

With their steeples visible for miles, anchoring the distant landscape, the churches of North Dakota have been called the lighthouses of the prairie. Built by Norwegian, Swedish, German, Icelandic and other homesteaders who flocked to the treeless terrain in the 1880's, these windswept landmarks of rural life, beacons of faith and optimism, are rapidly vanishing.The flight of people from the North Dakota countryside has been silently devastating to this obscure but historically significant rural architectural heritage. Erected by settlers every six miles or so, past where the pavement — as highways are called here — ends and dirt and gravel take over, prairie churches like Osterdalen are disappearing at a rapid rate. Even as they do, former church members and neighbors, working singly or in small groups, are aggressively rallying to halt their demise. Some are restoring them out of their own pockets and resurrecting them for weekly services. Others are banding together to open them for special occasions, such as heritage services that draw hundreds of former members from out of state.

You see the same thing around here - mostly with Catholic and sometimes Lutheran churches. Most of them are still open - the rural population around here is a little more steady, I suppose.

As a Catholic who's lived mostly in the South, I was struck, too, by the concentration of Catholic churches in towns. I know - duh - but still, you have to understand than within a three mile radius of my house, we have twice as many Catholic churches as we did in the whole city of Lakeland, which is, granted, about half as big as Fort Wayne, but still - we're talking in just my corner of Fort Wayne. I take that back - not twice as many - three times.

We attended one of them this morning - got up too late for the 8am at our own parish, didn't quite get ourselves together in time for a 9am anywhere, so we found a 9:30 at a parish just a mile and half from here that I'd never seen before. It's called St. Peter's, and was built as a German parish. (the titles of the Stations are in German), and is about ten blocks from St. Patricks, built around the same time, but as an Irish parish (obviously).

Many of these parishes are already sharing pastors. It's only a matter of time - probably ten or fifteen years or so, unless there's a big surge in priestly vocations - before some of them, sadly enough, will be closed down, as has been the case in so many Northern cities in which neighborhood demographics and priest shortages work together to the demise of Catholic churches.

From the Chicago Sun-Times: Liberal groups giving support to pro-life Joe Scheidler in his Supreme Court case

Actor-activist Martin Sheen, Martin Luther King III's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, anti-war activist Kathy Kelly, and the usual liberal suspects are lobbying the U.S. Supreme Court on the next big abortion case. The National Organization for Women sued Chicago anti-abortion activist Joe Scheidler, convincing a federal jury that Scheidler was an extortionist for master-minding a national campaign to shut down abortion clinics with aggressive activism. Scheidler appealed, and the liberal activists are siding with . . . Scheidler?! Sheen and the other liberals, who tend to get arrested for protesting such things as nuclear arms and U.S. foreign policy, will argue in their brief due Friday that if NOW's suit prevails, corporations will be able to use the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to bankrupt pesky nonprofit groups. The law allows winners to obtain triple damages.

Good piece from the NYTimes (LRR) about a priest who sought the priest who abused him as a teen and found, contrary to what he'd been told, the guy was, indeed, still serving as a priest. Around kids.

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