Monday, July 29

Rumble at the Holy Sepulchre:

Monks fight it out over rooftop territory.

The rooftop compound of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre bore scars of conflict on Monday after Egyptian Coptic and Ethiopian monks traded blows over a chair at the traditional site of the crucifixion of Jesus. About 11 monks were taken to hospital after clerics from the rival sects that jealously share the courtyard on the roof of the Jerusalem shrine threw rocks, metal rods and chairs at each other in the latest chapter of a centuries-old dispute.

More information on the NJ priests arrested in Montreal
23 youth defect during WYD
A commentor on a post below tells us to lighten up on Andrew Sullivan. Well, for the record, I've never been a Sullivan basher. I've taken apart a couple of his statements on sexuality, but with respect, because I do respect him. I've given him due credit as an often perceptive observer of the Catholic scene (a marvelous cover piece by him in TNR years ago on that subject first brought him to my attention.) So I don't think that asking why this very public Catholic hasn't commented on the pope's visit is "Sullivan-bashing." It's a legitimate question. I'm legitimately interested.
A reader has asked what I thought of last night's Sex in the City.

Heavy Sigh.

It was so dumb, dumber than usual, and so ill-informed...

See, Miranda's this chick who's a lawyer. Last season, she had ...uh..mercy sex with her ex-boyfriend Steve the bartender because he'd been diagnosed with testicular cancer, only had one left, and was feeling insecure. So, of course, she got pregnant. Had the baby in the last show of last season, fights over territory with Steve, and in last night's episode, accedes to his request that the baby get baptized, despite her own atheism.

Miranda, Steve and his blowsy mom (in a cameo by Ann Meara) meet with a Catholic priest. The potential humor lay in the fact that Miranda dealt with the baptismal rite like it was a contract up for review, red-lining objectionable points detrimental to her client's interest. I say "potential" because the scene would have been funny if she'd come up against a priest who put her in her place. But no, the priest says nothing and evidently gives in - unheard of, of course, except perhaps in some parishes in Boston, we might assume - supposedly eliminating mentions of "Satan" and so on from the rite because, as Carrie's narration intones, the Catholic Church is as desperate as (I can't remember the exact analogy) a single woman for a date...or something...implying that it will do anything for members in these troubled times.

Coming as it did on the same day a million gathered in Toronto proudly calling themselves "Catholic" and more will probably gather in Mexico and Central America under the same banner, the scene and the comments were not just typical artsy anti-Catholicism. They were just dumb anti-Catholicism. (Oh - is there any other kind? No. Sorry).

I have to say, though, that I found one tiny scene rather moving. Carrie, who is quickly becoming cyncial and bitter about love and the possibility of finding it, is (another ridiculous point) the baby's godmother. As she holds the baby and the water is poured over his head, a bit drips down on her arm. The camera hovers on the water on her arm, then focuses on Carrie's unguarded expression as, once again, her narration intones her surprised hope that perhaps this water might wash away her "unoriginal cynicism."

Three seconds of nice in thirty minutes of insults. Pretty bad ratio, but it also shows some lost potential - when supposed New York sophistication, which evidently results in nothing but unhappiness for four miserable women, is expressed without contrast to anything else meaningful you have a far less interesting show than you would if the same miserable women were offered challenges to their assumptions (which have brought them little but unhappiness) along the way.

I'm also waiting for... the post-Toronto interviews with Garry Wills in which he can continue to assert how unpopular and out of touch John Paul II is. Waiting....waiting.

Update:A commenter comments that he was on CSpan this morning. Anyone else see it? Will it be repeated?

A commencement speech worth reading

A reader sends along this one delivered by Mark Helprin to the graduating class of Hillsdale Academy

Several years ago, I was speaking in a university town in Massachusetts. By some quirk which I hope never to see reproduced, and before I knew what was happening, I found myself debating my entire audience on the subjects of human sacrifice and cannibalism. These well-educated and polite people -- only a few of whom would actually have murdered or eaten one another -- who had sons and daughters, Ph.D.s, and BMWs, were defending the Mayan and Aztec practice of human sacrifice -- that is, in the main, of children -- and the South Sea custom of cannibalism. It wasn't that they were for such things: they weren't. It wasn't that they were not against them: they were. It was that to take the position that human sacrifice and cannibalism are wrong is not only to reject relativism but to place oneself decisively in the ranks of Western Civilization, such a position being one of its characteristic distinctions, and this they would not do. They were ashamed to do so, and they were afraid to do so. My charge to you is that in this, you never be either ashamed or afraid.Civilization is vulnerable not only to munitions, it is vulnerable to cowardice and betrayal.

Thanks to a reader for passing this one on.

Stem Cells grow blood vessels in mice's eyes. And mind you, they're stem cells from adult (mice) blood marrow, not embryos.
Jeff Jacoby asks who the real extremists in the abortion debate are

and

here, Ramesh Ponnuru shows us

A basic, bare-bones account of the WYD Mass
From the Washington Times:A survey of some recent Catholic books, ranging from Garry Wills' tome to Benedict Groeschel's.
More on the Catholic Answers post below: I see from a quick look at the schedule that the subject of the matter of the program has expanded a bit from the time I used to listen to it about three years ago, from the Catholic station in Tampa (which, incidentally does not broadcast the program any longer, I don't think.) It includes many more non-apologetics topics than I remember - movie reviews, interviews with people like Michael Rose, pastoral counseling shows. So yes, I can see why a caution would be necessary.

But I think what struck me, and perhaps others, as odd about this pre-emptive warning is that I've never seen anything like it in relation to any other Catholic-labeled program in this diocese or any other. Not any speech or program led by, let's say, folks veering left-of-center. Not any university or college which calls itself Catholic but hosts, sponsors and pays for all sorts of views spouted by self-proclaimed Catholics, views that won't be found in the Catechism or any corner of Scripture. It just seems that in many dioceses (not all), when it comes to folks who might be called proudly "orthodox" by some or "conservative" by others, warning flags go out, attention is diverted and invitations are rescinded, but others, with the opposite views aren't subject to the same warnings and hedges around their speech. The bishop has the responsibility to be the primary teacher within his diocese. Yup, he sure does. No argument there from me.

I may have missed something, but it seems that after months of ...er..pontificating on the state of the Catholic Church in the wake of the sexual abuse scandals, the NYTimes op-ed page has fallen suddenly silent on matters RC over the past few days. I wonder why? Does the sight of a million people attending Mass somehow present some sort of evidence against their hopeful implications of the impending death of Catholicism?

Another moment of deafening silence, this time from a normally quite talkative corner of the Web:Andrew Sullivan. Hey. Yer Pope was up the road, Andrew. Waddya think?

The text of the Pope's homily on Sunday

The text of his remarks at the Friday vigil

Martin's Roth list o' Christian blogs has been transformed into Blogs4God.

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