Monday, July 8

A piece from an alternative Cleveland newspaper about the priest accused of abuse who committed suicide a few months back.
News flash:

Cohabitating men less committed to marriage

Ironically, the divorce rate among those who once lived together is higher than among those who have not. Experts say that is often because those who choose to cohabit are not great believers in marriage in the first place. Stanley sees other factors at play. In his study on live-ins who married, less religious men were particularly apt to be less committed. It may be that higher divorce rates among one-time cohabitors are a result of ''the presence of males who are less dedicated, less religious and more negative'' than males who didn't cohabit, he says.

Speaking of pretentious....(were we?Probably...)

The Smoking Gun has posted Robin Williams' tour needs, including the final page, specific to him, in which he makes the odd demand:

2 cases of water (18oz bottles with one case with labels removed.)

Why remove the labels from just one case? Strange.

And of course, there's the requirement that "no plastic or paper products in dressing room." We know who hasn't had to wash dishes for a very long time,don't we?

What an idiot.

Candidate for House seat in Michigan calls incumbent "too liberal."

By the way, he also calls him Jewish, which he is and says because of that, he's not a good representative for a majority-Catholic district.

"I mean, that man has never owned a Christmas tree. He's not a Christian. And I'm thinking, 'Jeez, how can he represent me then?'" Callahan said in an interview. "And how can he if he believes in abortion and I don't or I'm an avid hunter and gun owner and he doesn't believe in it, how can he represent me?"

It's one thing - and appropriate as well - to point out political differences. But .....he's never owned a Christmas tree???

I think Mr. Callahan might as well just hang it up and go fishing for a few months. And make out his Christmas list, maybe?

I'm sitting here watching Best in Show. It's just so darn funny, especially Fred Willard's "color commentary" hurled cluelessly against the suave straight man Brit announcer.

"You know, it’s funny to think when you look at how beautiful these dogs are, that there are some countries where these dogs are eaten.”

McCormack admits he dismissed evidence of abuse becaus accused priests told him they didn't do anything.

McCormack was questioned in Manchester on June 4 as part of a Massachusetts lawsuit by three men who say they were molested by the Rev. Paul Shanley in the 1980s. They accuse top church officials in Boston at the time, including McCormack, of failing to stop the abuse. At least twice, McCormack said, he dismissed concerns based on priests' denials, according to a transcript of his sworn testimony provided to The Associated Press by Massachusetts sources. The transcript has not been made public.

Bishops meet in Dallas. Come up with policy. Dismiss priests in droves.

Why are bishops like McCormack still in office?

Don't bother. We all know the answer. Next to the abuse itself, that's the greatest injustice in this situation.

I hear tell there's a big article in the new Vanity Fair about Paul Shanley. I'll try to get ahold of it tonight or tomorrow and let you know what it's about. Or you could read it and tell us first!
Eight to be beatified
Tim Russert on the advantages of a Catholic education

Thanks to Nancy Nall for the link.

What's going on:

Too, too much.

I've got two deadlines for Wednesday: a review of Gary Wills' latest, plus another, which will be a fun combination (and I'm not sayin' what it is. You'll just have to see.), then an article for Liguorian which I completely forgot about until late last week. Then I have an ongoing little project I'm helping Loyola with which will extend only through this week, but takes time nonethless. Oh yeah, then I have not one, but TWO radio appearances on Wednesday. (Can you appear on radio? Never mind).

Heart, Mind and Strength with Dr. Greg around 9:50 Eastern and then

At 11am Eastern, I'll be on Johnette Benkovic's live call-in program.

I am very interested in the cultural and historical context of religious teaching and belief. To give a rather simplistic example, let's take the Inquistion. Protestant exaggerations aside, I doubt anyone today would affirm the need for a modern-day inquisitorial process in which individuals' beliefs were put on the rack, literally.

There are, however, modern-day apologists for the medieval practice. "See it in context" we're told. (And we must, for the first step to understanding history is, indeed, placing it in context and not judging the past by the standards of the present.) The implication here, however, is that violent inquisitorial methods of torture and death are, somehow excusable as Church actions because - well, those were the times. It was a violent time. Those involved believed they were actually helping their victims - that is, if it took torture to get someone to accept baptism or deny their Judaism or their heresy, it's better that they be saved under duress than go unsaved. And so on.

My problem with this has always been, then what of the present? What of our present day call for Christians to be "countercultural?' In the context of 21st century humanity, premarital sex is really no big deal to most people or to the culture at large. If the Church suddenly "accepted" this as morally inconsequential, wouldn't we be able to understand and justify it because of...the cultural context?

In other words, what are the rules for using "context" as an excuse for going contrary to the depth of our moral tradition? Why do dead people get to use it as an excuse and the living don't?

This is prompted by a look in Christianity Today at a new book that does just this in the context - whoops - of Scriptural injunctions. Here's the piece, intriguingly called "Stretch Pants, Beer, and Other Controversies"

Filipino Catholic Bishops begins to address sexual abuse by clergy
Hope no one ever says this about my writing:

This essay manages to be dull, unoriginal and strange all at the same time.

Paul Greenberg on the silly and outrageous sight of an article by disbarred Bill Clinton appearing in the Arkansas Law Review.

Greg Popcak on family size here and here.
Moroever (this is a continuation of the post below), it's important to remember that the decision to have a child is an awe-some one, or it should be, at least, and the momentousness of that decision has less to do with our imagined capabilities, our needs or what it will do to our lives as parents, and everything to do with what - or who - is about to happen.

You and your spouse have the the gift and the power to bring another life into the world. Not just an abstract "life" whose importance lies in its impact on your life (which is the way most of us tend to think about it), but in a very specific life with a personality, character, gifts, possibilities, and a future which includes webs of relationships, ways of impacting the world and, most importantly, the possibility of intimacy and eternal life with God.

I must admit that sometimes I think about that fact, and I wonder - how can I ever say "no" to that possibility? Now, now, save your jerking knees some stress. I'm not suggesting that we're called to have a baby a year during our fertile years. I'm not saying that our capabilities to care for children are limitless. They're not. Obviously.

But still - don't you ever honestly wonder about that? Don't you ever look at your children, marvel at their beauty, their depth, their uniqueness and the way their lives are taking shape, and just wonder - who else do we have in us? What other wonderful people could we make? How in the world can we close the door and not let them in?

There are conversations going on below about family size. Here's what I say, with something to offend everyone, as usual.

First, I'd welcome an end to a particular genre of essay: people who make various decisions about family size complaining about other peoples' reaction to their decisions. You know what I mean:

Parents of No Children feeling "pressured" and generally oppressed.

Parents of Onlies feeling condemned for selfishness.

Parents of Multitudes feeling judged, misunderstood, looked down on.

Look. You made the decision (most of you), so deal with the world's reaction which is sometimes going to be stupidly, inanely judgmental. In my view, no one owes anyone an explanation for any life decision they've made or life circumstance they've been dealt. If some people don't understand that, and are intent on sticking their noses in your life, that's bad, but it doesn't make you a victim either.

And my view? It takes all kinds. I'm an only child who happens to descend from small families on both sides. I have exactly three living first cousins. Whether it's because of my own experience as an only or (more likely) my experience as a mother of now four, I tend to prejudiced towards ....larger families. By "larger" I mean at least three children. I just think having at least three usually results in a healthier dynamic in the family and gives kids a better formation in social relations, especially with peers.

But with that said, I still say...stop judging other peoples' family size, and if you happen to be judged for whatever your family happens to be, chin up, search your conscience if you're prompted to do so (our decisions aren't infallible after all), but pleased don't write and tell us how oppressed you feel because you've got twelve kids, one kid or no kids. Want oppression? Go to China.

UpdateHope you're reading the comments on this one. They point out the pain that often lies behind what outsiders see and how those same outsiders truly need to mind their own business. Another comment points out that the judgment that's offered could well be rooted in feelings - like guilt, regret or even envy.

Pentecostal Pastor sheds toupee in the middle of a sermon; causes revival.

Pastor Phillips said he prayed and fasted for seven days before removing his hairpiece, at times living only "on the Lord and Gatorade." ...He started the fast to get closer to God. ....During his fast, he searched for a way to deepen his walk with God. The more he prayed, the more he realized the awful truth: His fake hair would have to go.

(Via Holy Weblog

More on the Dallas St. Sesbastian's Angels guy:

A priest in the parish lashes out for parishioners for their "hate-filled" attitudes towards the poor fellow.

."
But some parishioners, asking that they not be named for fear of retaliation, denied they were motivated by vengeance, saying they were simply angry about the church hierarchy repeating past mistakes. "The proof is on the tape that it was not hate-filled, just a lot of angry folks because of what the parish has already been through and being sued for," said one woman, referring to a lawsuit over sex abuse of children by an employee of the church's after-school day care center. Parishioners "were frustrated hurt, surprised and disappointed by such news about someone they trusted [and now had] no trust in him as a priest again," said a man who attended.

Interesting piece about the Detroit province on the Capuchins who had elected a lay brother as their provincial minister, but then saw the election denied by the Vatican:

The Vatican has sometimes granted exceptions to allow lay brothers to have authority over priests, but on a limited basis. Smith would have been the first lay Capuchin in the U.S., and the first African-American here, to be approved as a provincial minister. The Vatican's action came as no real surprise to the Capuchins, one of three major men's branches of the religious order that St. Francis of Assisi founded in the 13th century. They have been trying for more than 15 years to be acknowledged by the Vatican as an order that can be led by lay brothers...The Capuchins' constitution, which makes no distinction between lay and ordained friars, allows either to be elected to positions of authority. And St. Francis was neither a priest nor a supporter of hierarchical, clerical castes, said Brother TL Michael Auman, the Milwaukee-based director of communications for the Province of St. Joseph.

Planned Parenthood to offer sex education to ...churches. Most churches say...no thanks. Catholic pastor says....well, maybe!

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