Thursday, October 31

The AP tries to sum up races in which abortion is a factor.
Hell Houses.

You know what those are, right?

They're the attractions - can't think of a better word - constructed, staffed and acted out by evangelical Christian churches in which participants can see the Wages of Sin, right there before their very eyes.

They see all kinds of situations in which sinners get down and do their stuff, followed by the Consequences, followed, at the end, by their chance to choose their own path.

Manipulation, thy name is First Word of Life Temple.

There's a documentary about the phenomenon, focusing on a church in Texas. According to what I've read, the documentary is very fair. Anyone seen it?

(Other articles about hell houses here, here and here.

I've never been to one, but I had many students who did down in Florida, and their reactions ranged from "cheesy" to "freaked me out."

Would it be fair to see them as some sort of heir to the Medieval Mystery Play? Assesments, anyone? Cranky Prof, maybe?

Ave Maria University law school student Matthew Bowman wrote me a while back with a similar idea, from a Catholic standpoint.

I had this idea the other night about an alternative Halloween activity and I didn't know who else to tell. Why not create a "House of Martyrs" instead of a house of horrors, and display the various ways that martyrs have met their worldly demise to pass on to their heavenly homeland. Fun and educational. This could be especially cool for older kids to organize.

Maybe others have thought of this idea, but I haven't heard about it. There are protestant groups who do a Hell House to scare the Hell out of people, but the House of Martyrs wouldn't really be scary (St. Lawrence cracking jokes on a grill, St. Polycarp denouncing the pagans and then the smell of roses as he burns at the stake, St. Maximillian singing in the starvation bunker, St. Lucy holding her eyes, St. Philomena and her various wounds, etc.). Well, not primarily scary.

I like it! But then...I always bucked the opinions of the other religious ed matriarchs because I saw great value in sharing Great Gory Scenes in Catholic History. They're memorable and communicate the value of faith in a rather..vivid...way.

I was going to post thoughts on Halloween. My brain's not there, however.

So, instead, I'll point you , to some wonderful thoughts about Halloween that Michael shared last year Scroll down to - October 31 - past the cute picture of Joseph. Boy. Time flies.

By the way, the comments system seems okay today, and the YACCS homepage indicates that they knew there was a problem (duh!) and worked to fix it. I guess I'll stick with them.

There. Column written, cookie dough made (we'll wait till Katie comes home to roll, cut and bake), and wash started. And, no it wasn't the liquor store I was headed to. Thanks anyway for the suggestion.
I had sort of big plans for Halloween. Sort of, because I'm not into decorating our house with cobwebs and the remains of witches. Much less huge inflated pumpkins with ghosts sticking out the top, waving - I've seen a few of those tasteful items on area lawns.

We did do the pumpkins two days ago, and I had every intention of making cookies and trying to figure out a costume that Joseph would tolerate - he HATES stuff on his head and can be picky about shirts, if he's a pesky mood. He's learned how to roar, so I thought he'd be a cute lion.

But this week - oy. I got sick Friday night, lay on the couch all day Saturday. Joseph threw up all night Sunday night. Michael was sick all day Monday. I thought the other two might escape, since they were out of town last weekend, but no. David was sick much of the night on Tuesday, and that same night, at 2am, Katie showed up in the bathroom, sitting on the floor, weeping about her throat and running a temperature. Tuesday was a night of very little sleep for any of us, and last night was a restless night for the baby (he keeps tricking us with these great nights about every 10 days. But he also spent most of yesterday with his fist stuck in his mouth, so you can figure out the cause of the restlessness.)

So, today, I'm wiped out. Plus, the babysitter called at 7:30 and said she was sick. So Joseph is here with his half-comatose mommy, running around yelling "Pump-pa!" every six seconds ("Pumpkin" for those not literate in Baby) and I have a column to write.

So - I think I'll go to the store. Makes sense, yes?

Good Things Catholics Do:

The Catholic Mobile Medical Clinic in Hillsborough County, Florida, bringing health care to migrant workers.

For the past three years Proctor, a member of the Daughters of Wisdom Catholic religious order, has been driving the mobile medical clinic for the St. Petersburg Diocese of Catholic Charities. Every other Friday evening, Proctor makes this trek to the Jaymar Villas in rural Balm. She visits the San Jose Mission in Dover on Monday night, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Wimauma on Sunday and the Good Samaritan Mission in Balm on Tuesday morning.

Before Catholic Charities acquired the mobile clinic, many of Proctor's clients did not have access to health care because of time and transportation restraints. But even after Catholic Charities got the vehicle, it took a long time to gain the community's trust. Last year, Proctor and Lamas, who is a certified nurse's aide, would sometimes wait for hours and see no one. Today, largely because of word of mouth, people trust the clinic. Within minutes of Proctor's arrival, a young man pulls up on a red bicycle, accompanied by several friends.

"Buenas noches," Proctor greets them. "Que necesitan?"

Truce reached in Cleveland

The lawyers leading the wave of clergy sex-abuse litigation against the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland have struck a truce with the church to avert new suits and big damage awards, one of them said yesterday. In exchange for a moratorium on new suits, diocesan lawyers agreed in principle to begin a mediation process for dealing with victims, and to formally end years of hardball defense tactics against sex-abuse lawsuits, said William Crosby, one of the victims' lawyers who helped forge the settlement. "This is an absolutely momentous agreement, a metamorphosis in the diocese's approach to sex-abuse cases," Crosby said

5 Top LA Archdiocese officials say "See Ya"

The LATimes reports that five top Archdiocesan officials have resigned.

Among those resigning from their posts was Msgr. Terrance Fleming, who as vicar general of the archdiocese serves, in effect, as Mahony's chief of staff.

The others are Sister Cecilia Louise Moore, who as chancellor of the archdiocese oversees its charitable foundations as well as its personnel office; Msgr. Richard Loomis, who heads the secretariat for administrative services; Sister Bernadette Murphy, who oversees the church's educational programs; and Thomas Chabolla, a layman who heads the church offices for pastoral and community services.

Church sources said some of the resignations were influenced by personal factors. Fleming, for example, had long planned to step down as vicar general to take a sabbatical, the sources said. Fleming, who is reportedly in England, was not available for comment.

Moore, who is 74, was nearing the end of her term of office and is undergoing treatment for cancer.

In other cases, the resignations appear to be tied more exclusively to the budget cuts and what some see as a distant and authoritarian style of decision-making by Mahony.

Chabolla, for example, heads the church secretariat that oversees the ministries hardest hit by the budget cuts. Those included outreach to ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, lesbian and gay Catholics, and ecumenical and inter-religious affairs.

One priest who had spoken with Chabolla said he felt he had been left out of the decision-making on the cuts. "They were left in the position of having to make these cuts and layoffs, and I think some of them felt really in a very bad position because they hadn't been part of the decision-making process," the priest said.

"There was very little consultation in a post-Vatican II church where people are consulted broadly," another priest said. "How could there be such an incredible decision of such magnitude and be such a surprise to everybody?"

Well see, here's the thing. Talking Vatican-II-talk and waxing eloquent about collegiality and shared decision-making and such is nice, but it's just talk. In my experience, authoritarians can hide anywhere, and they do.

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