Monday, January 27

Pentecostal flock treasures 106-year old bishop

Massey, a South Carolina-born daughter of a slave, has risen to the second-highest rank in the House of God, the Pentecostal church she joined in 1929.In her church, she also found her place in the world, achieving a national stature not often accorded black women of her generation.Massey's hearing is good, her mind sharp, her legs functional. Ask her when she was last sick, and she'll tell you 1955.

LeBron James is still an amateur, Ohio board decides

A few random thoughts on Catholic education before I head upstairs.

(We're talking elementary and secondary education here, not college)

Catholic education became great because it provided education at little or no cost to the children of the poor and the working classes, not because it provided education to the middle and upper classes for thousands of dollars a year tuition.

Catholic education always reflects its environment. Catholic education was certainly better, in general, fifty years ago than it is now, but then all elementary and secondary education was, in general, superior to the present fifty years ago. Fifty years ago, sisters who taught in Catholic schools were strict. So were all elementary and secondary school teachers. Nuns may have had the proverbial ruler, but in a public school, there was always an assistant principal or a coach waiting at the end of the hall with a paddle. With holes drilled in it to lessen air resistance.

In the present day, education is beset with pedagogical nonsense, and so are far too many Catholic schools. Frankly, that is the price you pay for the perceived need of accreditation.

Catholic schools of the past weren't perfect. Nostalgia may wax eloquent about the greatness of the sisters teaching 60-student classrooms, but don't doubt that every one of those sisters would have killed for a class of 25. My own small collection of pre-Vatican II religion texts tells me that there was certainly more to religious education than rote memorization, but in too many cases there was far too much dependence on that as the totality of religious instruction. More sisters than we realize were very poorly prepared for their work. In his memoir, The Church and I, Frank Sheed decries the state of Catholic education in the US in the 1930's on, and at great length. I'll look up the passage tomorrow.

But in the end, Catholic schools face the same difficulty that public schools face, and it has nothing to do with teacher pay, pedagogy or administration. The fundamental challenge is the culture: a culture that does not value learning, that surrounds a child with countless means of passive, instant gratification,and a culture that has few reference points in common with the material we are trying to communicate in the classroom. This culture is mediated through the mass media, certainly, but it is mediated most directly in children's lives by their parents: parents who don't read, who don't read with their kids, who value the material and the monetary over the intellectual and the spiritual, who provide their kids with every electronic device known to humanity, but wouldn't dare present their child with a book to read, who will turn their schedules upside down to get their kids to the soccer tournament, but who can't be bothered to get to Mass, and who, in the end, see their children's education as nothing more than a series of hurdles to be jumped on the way to achieving a high school diploma, which is turn, not a sign of achievement, but rather a ticket into a university and ultimately, to a job. It has nothing to do with education or learning. Nothing.

That's what we're up against, all of us - no matter what kind of school we're a part of.

Couple arraigned for blackmailing priest

Police said [Fr.]Ruggeri initially made contact with Dominic Martin between three and six weeks ago, via an Internet chat room or Web site, where Martin posed as a Catholic priest. The two began an online conversation that began with innocent discussions about priestly vestments but soon turned sexually explicit, police said.

Before long, Martin turned on Ruggeri, contacting him by telephone and telling him he would disclose Ruggeri's sexual writings to the Boston media if the pastor didn't come up with cash, police said.

Police suspect Ruggeri used parish money possibly funds from the collection plate as hush money to keep Martin quiet.

Ruggeri dropped the money off at a predetermined site near the 99 Restaurant in Lowell; he watched as it was picked up by a woman he later identified as Brianna Martin, police said.

Apparently not satisfied, the couple demanded more money from Ruggeri, this time telling him they would pass out copies of his sexually explicit writings at last Sunday's 11 a.m. Mass if the pastor refused. Ruggeri contacted Lowell police, and undercover detectives attended the Mass but nothing occurred, sources told The Sun.

The couple then arranged another drop off, Thursday morning in a trash can outside the same 99 Restaurant on Chelmsford Street, police said.

Ruggeri dropped off an envelope containing what the Martins believed was $800. This time, Lowell police swooped in and arrested the pair as they drove off on Industrial Avenue; the envelope actually contained $100 surrounded by blank pieces of paper, sources said.

Like I've been sayin' for months, we have two priorities in front of us:

1) Stop ordaining sexual predators


b) Stop ordaining idiots.

The new LA Cathedral as public space:

Los Angeles, we are occasionally told, does not have enough of the urban loci that unite and beautify so many other large cities. The cathedral and its plaza do both of these things, and if they don't have the weathered grace of historic landmarks, they have the more vital, if sometimes irritating, contrasts of city life.

The plaza and gardens of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels were designed with workday sanctuary in mind; the cafe added another lunch-hour destination to an area perhaps over-dependent on Koo Koo Roo and California Pizza Kitchen. And if anyone finds it odd to be standing in line with 20 or so very short nuns in full habits, ordering a pastrami sandwich from a menu emblazoned with a purple banner reading Our Lady of the Angels, it doesn't show. "Mayonnaise or mustard on that?" the lady in the hairnet asks. "Mustard," says the young man with a lip stud. "Wait, do you have Dijon?"

Although they have no idea how many freelance tourists or downtown denizens visit during the week, church officials estimate that 300 people on organized tours and 40 to 100 students on field trips tour the cathedral each day.

At lunch hour, the tables are often full, forcing some visitors to arrange their meals on the nearby benches or balance themselves on the walls that surround the olive tree grove or a bed of day lilies, whose trumpets echo the mod orange and yellow of the cafe's chairs in a way that is almost eerie.

Happy Catholic Schools Week, y'all.

Let's all celebrate the way my daughter's school marked the occasion today:

We could all wear pajamas to school.

Or not.

I'm going to focus most of my posting this week on the issue of Catholic education and catechesis. I meant to start earlier, but I got inspired to write something else for possible publication, and you know how that goes. The muse visits, you just have to entertain or she'll stomp off in a huff.

So look for more later tonight or tomorrow, and if there's any topic you'd like to see broached, drop me a line or enter a comment.

And don't forget...tomorrow's "Wig and Big Sunglasses Day."

Via Mark:

the California situation.

To me, this is crucial:

Weigand said one of the most important reasons he spoke out is that he wanted to address recent questions from parishioners about the Davis-Kavanagh incident. As the shepherd of the diocese, Weigand said, he needed to deal with these concerns."People wanted to know how the governor could remain a Catholic in good standing and still have those policies," said Weigand. "I said he can't be."Weigand also said he has tried repeatedly over the past four years to talk to the governor about his abortion-rights policies but has been rebuffed. "I just want to sit down and talk with him and explain the teachings of the church."

Let's think about this another way. Say that the Catholic politician in question was rabidly racist or misogynist, conducted his office according to those principles, and defended himself as a "good Catholic" all the while.

Who would be defending his conscience then? Who would be in the papers quoted as saying that all of this was perfectly compatible with Catholicism, when you really think about it the right way, you know.

We all know what the answer to that question is.

Why are evangelicals silent about possible war with Iraq?

Or are they?

Thanks to Domenico for pointing out this article about the priest shortage in Boston

More than two dozen priests were removed from parishes in 2002 under a strict new archdiocesan policy for handling allegations of clergy sex abuse. While some may be reinstated, a provision banning even one-time offenders from public ministry is likely to exclude many whose records were clear for decades.``No one expected it,'' said the Rev. Christopher Coyne, an archdiocesan spokesman.Some older priests who might have delayed retirement to help maintain parish staffing announced over the past year that the stress of the abuse crisis led them to step down.A higher-than-usual number of priests died over the past year.
The newest class in the pre-theology program at St. John's Seminary is far smaller than what is necessary to maintain parish staffing. In most years, at least a half-dozen men enter pre-theology; six years later, nearly all become priests. But this past fall only three students entered, making it all but certain that the archdiocese will produce a tiny ordination class at the end of this decade.

Note: Take a moment to read comment #6 here.

Greg Popcak has great comments on my Goon Park post below and its ramifications for contemporary childrearing.

A reminder that in addition to the links on the left, I have another page of links here.It probably needs some cleaning out, but you might find something of interest there..

Update: Link to links fixed.

Did the Democratic candidates for president make a good choice in attending last week's NARAL dinner?

Naomi Emery doesn't think so

SOMETIME SOON--say, around Spring 2004, when George W. Bush begins spending his money--whoever becomes the Democratic nominee may have second thoughts about his attendance at the NARAL dinner in Washington on January 21, 2003. Or at least he may wish that cameras hadn't been present, for the images that emerged were not helpful. There they stood, the six hopefuls, like spindly schoolboys, summoned into the principal's office to be brought into line: into the party line, which they spouted with reverence.

As Ryan Lizza wrote in the New Republic, there was never a hint of a Sister Souljah eruption. Dick Gephardt begged mercy for previous sins. After the six had delivered their speeches, they sat while Kate Michelman, who had summoned them, gave them their orders: She expects from them no less than a full-throttle filibuster every time George W. Bush names to the federal bench a judge that does not meet her strict standards of purity. Did any of the senators sitting there wince when she said this? Did they think that they might today be in the minority because they had refused to vote on Bush judges? Did they consider what the country might think if they tied up the Senate, perhaps in wartime, to thwart abortion restrictions that most voters favor? But what will happen if she snaps her fingers, and they do not come running? Will they be called once again to the principal's office? Will they be kept after school?

TNR's Ryan Lizza on the same spectacle:

So when the six Democratic presidential candidates spoke before a core Democratic interest group, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Tuesday night, one question that hung in the air of the Omni Shoreham ballroom was, which Democrat would "Sister Souljah" NARAL? The answer was nobody. Prior to the event there was some whispering that Dick Gephardt might try to burnish his general election bona fides by criticizing partial-birth abortion, but it didn't happen. As an aide to one candidate explained, the NARAL event was "box-checking." There remains an iron triangle of Democratic constituencies--blacks, labor, pro-choice women--whom every candidate must appease during the primaries. Tuesday night, the six Democrats dutifully checked the abortion box.

Elizabeth Fitton on the value of the RTL party in NY

Here's a page with information on a talk my husband is willing and ready to give where ever he's needed

Dave Barry has a least I guess that's really him. Seems to be.


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