Wednesday, October 23

""Nine times out of 10, the exhaust smells like french fries," ... "but every once in a while it smells like Chinese food."
From the Weekly Standard, J. Bottum on why Goldhagen's forthcoming Pius XII book will be a boon to other Pius detractors:

That's not because the book is right, of course. It is filled with so many simple errors of fact that it's positively embarrassing to read. These errors of fact combine to create a set of historical theses about the Nazis and the Catholic Church so tendentious that not even Pius XII's most determined belittlers have dared to assert them. And, in Goldhagen's final chapters, the bad historical theses unite to form a complete anti-Catholicism the likes of which we haven't seen since the elderly H.G. Wells decided Catholicism was the root of all evil and wrote a book whose marvelous title shows the true flavor of curmudgeonly nuttiness: "Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (An Author's Frank Convictions about the Meddling Policies of the Church from its First Tie-up with the Emperor Constantine to its Present Alliance with the Nazi-Fascist-Shinto Axis)."

But Goldhagen's "Frank Convictions about the Meddling Policies"--I'm sorry; I mean Goldhagen's "A Moral Reckoning"--will nonetheless prove a useful book, not despite its errors, but because of them. This is a great opportunity for those who've written previous books against Pius XII. The reviews of Susan Zuccotti's "Under His Very Windows," for instance, were quite negative, accusing her of slanting the evidence to support her prejudged anti-Pius thesis. But now Goldhagen offers her a chance to claim middle-of-the-road credentials. "How can you say I'm an extremely prejudiced opponent of Pius?" Zuccotti can ask. "Daniel Goldhagen is the prejudiced extreme; I'm a moderate." For Garry Wills, James Carroll, and John Cornwell--all under considerable attack for their anti-Catholic Catholicism--no gift could be more timely. A prediction for the coming weeks: All these authors will review Goldhagen's book, and all of them will trash it--while using it along precisely the lines I suggest. Poor Danny Goldhagen. He's going to be beat up one side and down the other; his natural opponents attacking him and his natural allies joining in.

From Catholic Goldmine: Jeff Cavins leaving EWTN

According to sources at EWTN, the Oct. 31st show of Life on The Rock will be the last one with Jeff Cavins as host. After that date EWTN's local priest, Fr. Francis Stone will become host of the program aimed at youth.Catholic Goldmine has learned that Jeff Cavins will develop a new radio call-in show in Shakopee-Minneapolis. The radio show will be produced by Twin Hearts Media and will air on radio station KSMM, in which Cavins is a partner. (Cavins joined Twin Media last year.) The program will allow him to continue his speaking tours, teachings, books, tapes, and Catholic cruises.

"Catholic cruises?" Is this yet another new subculture I need to learn about?

Cardinal Law says he considered resigning
From NCR, An account of the troubles in Rockville Center

It was at this point that the bishop decided to invite a Newsday reporter and photographer to the residence that he moved into in early October so that the record could speak for itself. If the public reaction by Catholics is any indication, that decision may have been ill-advised.Complete with photographs of a lavishly decorated living room, a new fireplace with an oak mantel and a kitchen that features top-of-the-line appliances and equipment, the story describes in detail the private wing in the residence. This includes the bishop’s bedroom and marble bath, a bedroom and study for his secretary, Fr. Joseph DeGrocco and a separate suite called “the cardinal’s suite.” A public wing has a fourth bedroom for visiting laity.The ceiling in the dining room has been lowered at additional expense so that a chandelier could be installed. An extra $120,000 was spent on three Oriental rugs and a new table was bought for the dining area along with 12 specially upholstered chairs. The Murphys’ personal art collection adds to the design.Aside from all the most modern appliances, the kitchen has a double Sub-Zero refrigerator with an adjoining pantry that has an under-counter temperature-controlled wine storage cabinet for 50 bottles of wine. The top shelf in the cabinet is set at 45 degrees for champagne and white wine while the lower shelf is set at 55 degrees for red wine. There is a six-burner Viking professional range.

Did I mention that our bishop lives in a ranch house on a quiet street, three blocks over from Kroger's and about five streets away from us?

Last night I read and this morning I wrote about Girl Meets God by CT contributing editor Lauren Winner. It will be the November OSV book column, along with the new Flannery O'Connor biography

Girl Meets God was an engaging spiritual memoir, along the lines, as many have noted, of an Annie Lamott style of spiritual writing: honest, personal, smart, humorous. Winner was raised a Reform Jew, then converted to Orthodox Judaism when she went to Columbia University, then converted to Anglicanism when she went to Cambridge. The title of the book implies a conversion rooted in a framework of relationship, and although Winner is very brainy, that is essentially what it comes down to, as embodied in a dream she had as an Orthodox Jew, a dream in which she was kidnapped by mermaids and rescued by a dark, thirtyish, "Daniel-Day-Lewis-kind of guy." Her boyfriend thought she was dreaming about other men. Her roommate thought it was Elijah. Her 10th grade physics teacher, a Christian, asked her what she thought. She admitted she thought it was Jesus. The teacher said she thought so too, but that an Orthodox Jew didn't have room in her life for Jesus, right?

Well, right, at least for the next two years, during which Winner busied herself with school and life as an Orthodox, until she finally gave in and said yes and was baptized a Christian in the Anglican church.

It's a good book, particularly for a smart young person on a spiritual search, or the parent of one who's wondering what her kid is up to. It's a very honest book, too. Winner's quite open about what ultimately turned her off from Orthodoxy, and open about her own sins and failings as well. There's a lot of nice detail, and some nice vingettes - I think my favorite was the story of her trip back to her mother's home in Charlottesville. As silly as it makes her look to some, Winner admits that one element crucial in her conversion was the novels of Jan Karon - the Mitford novels about the Episcopalians in North Carolina. It doesn't seem right, she admits - it should have been Dosteovsky - but it was Karon, so there.

Anyway, on this trip back, she learns that Karon has moved to the area, to get away from her ever-present fans who visited her in NC. Her exact whereabouts are a mystery, but one day, Winner and her mother set out - on a pilgrimage - to find her. I won't tell you what happens - nothing much, but everything that needs to, really - but it's a wonderful chapter.

I was annoyed by a few things, though. Winner is smart, and knows it - she's only in her twenties, but has vast knowledge about everything from Judaism to American religious history (she is a grad student in the field, after all!). She doesn't exactly wear her intense intelligence on her sleeve, but it's clear she knows she's smart. Now, self-centeredness is hard to avoid in writing a memoir, true, but there are times when Winner’s world seems unbearably small, centered on her awareness of her intense intelligence, her books and her boyfriends, and her spiritual angst only shrinks that world further, rather than expanding it. The reader appreciates Winner’s honesty, for example, at sharing her miserable jealousy of a pregnant friend, and what that teaches her about her spiritual life, but it doesn’t eliminate the reader’s desire to just shake her out her self-centeredness, nonetheless. There's also a bit too much of the implied "I've got tattoos and I drink and I'm such a different kind of Christian" woven through the text, a theme I took up in my twenties, too - in terms of being a "liberal" prolifer in my case, but in the end, I decided it wasn't about me, so I should just get over myself and do the work.

I also felt there's a bit of a gap in her spiritual accounting. I don't think I ever got a clear sense of what she thinks about Jesus and why, except that he's real and he "rescues" her. Maybe that's all we need to know, but you know, I think in terms of apologetics, since I've spent three years writing about it, and as charming as this book is, I don't think that reading it would make the why of Christian faith clear to a non-believer, to the extent that such can be done anyway.

Eve has read the book too, and I'm very interested on what her take might be.

And yes, I really am trying to read all those books on the left, and if anyone's read or knows a lot about the Newman partial biography (which is what it is), which is quite a revision from received wisdom, let me know.

A reader writes in to say that he went to school with the aforementioned Marc Anthony (not the singer - the ex-seminarian mentioned yesterday) and to all appearances, the guy seemed like a "rock solid orthodox prayerful sort of fellow." He continues,

Part of the lesson is that you really never know what lurks behind the human heart. But even more importantly is that the Crisis that we have been experiencing in the American Church is not just with a bunch of 50 or 60 something priests - there are some serious homo and heterosexual deviants out there right now among the younger clergy (and I am not talking about typical struggles with celibacy in a pervasively erotic society) and most of them APPEAR orthodox and not your typical liberal ideologue. This is a bomb waiting to explode - this is more than a crisis of fidelity to the magisterium.

Like I've been sayin'....it might seem easy to reflexively associate these kinds of problems with various ideological wings of the Church (how sad to even use that terminology!) but when you look at reality, it just doesn't work.

NoVa/MD/DC readers...how are you doing?
Atlanta country DJ fired for southern accent
Some local news: Baby's death ruled homicide

Here's the story: A woman was 5 1/2 months pregnant. Her baby's father beat her severely. A day later, she gave birth, and the baby died.

An autopsy performed Friday revealed Nevah died Oct. 17 of blunt force trauma, said Dr. E. Jon Brandenberger, Allen County coroner. His death was ruled Allen County's 24th homicide this year.

Tests showed that the baby sustained the injuries during the beating of his mother Oct. 9, said chief investigator Dick Alfeld of the coroner's office.

Sobering, of course, because of the evil involved. Thought-provoking because, of course, that same baby at that same gestational age - could endure more than blunt trauma at the hands of an abortionist and no one would go to jail, no one would be charged with homicide, the people who did it would make a lot of money, and the whole thing would be called a "choice" worth celebrating.

I should add that this was one of two murdered babies stories in our paper today. Here's the other one.

Victims speak out in Milwaukee

The sharing session, organized by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, is believed to be the first one in the nation that involved victims, mental health professionals, law enforcement officials and the hierarchy in the planning and in giving responses at the event, according to Milwaukeean Peter Isely, one of the panelists and a member of the national board of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The panelists included Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan and Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann. McCann told one victim who was abused while on an out-of-state trip with a priest that it still might be possible to prosecute the man because statutes of limitations vary from state to state.

Dolan thanked those who had suffered crimes at the hands of priests for coming and renewed a previous call for victims to come forward.

"The psychological, emotional and physical horror of what was done to you by people who dared to say they represented the Lord is beyond belief," said Dolan, who stressed that he did believe and respect the survivors for their courage in coming forward.

Dolan was visibly moved by the speakers, at times removing his glasses and wiping his eyes with a white handkerchief. After one 47-year-old man sobbingly recalled being abused by a priest decades ago when he was an altar server and a choirboy, Dolan left the stage and embraced him.

Retired Archbishop Hannan of New Orleans filming a documentary about army chaplain Emil Kapaun

Soldiers who served with Kapaun are leading the effort to have him declared a saint by the Catholic Church. The Vatican has given the Diocese of Wichita permission to begin building the case to Kapaun's canonization.

Philip Hannan, a retired archbishop from New Orleans, is filming a documentary on Kapaun that he hopes will educate new generations of Americans and advance the cause for sainthood.

"I have no doubt but that we will all be able to say one day, not simply 'Father Emil Kapaun,' but 'Saint Emil Kapaun,' " said Hannan, who met Kapaun while they were both studying at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., in the late 1940s.

Vatican names abuse panel members

American members of the commission are Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco, Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Ill., and Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn.

The Vatican will be represented by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who heads the Congregation for Clergy; Monsignor Julian Herranz, who heads the Council for Legislative Texts; Monsignor Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Monsignor Francesco Monterisi, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops

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