Saturday, June 14

All right, now the rest of Chicago...

Where were we? I have no idea. I'll just start somewhere.

We got to the Catholic Marketing Network show in Rosemont on Wednesday. We parked, marched through a couple of miles of walkway and hallways until we reached the exhibition hall filled with Catholic Stuff.

These trade shows are interesting. They are, of course, the place for publishers and bookstores (and other vendors) to meet and figure out how to sell the Catholic Stuff. The CMN seems more gift-heavy than the show I attended two weeks ago, theRBTE, and it's definitely more "conservative" - no Protestant publishers, only middle-of the road and conservative Catholic publishers (some of whom, like Ignatius or Tan, naturally, don't go to the RBTE, and you won't find Ave Maria or Paulist at the CMN), as well as daily Mass and Perpetual Adoration. I had a nice chat with Matt Pinto, unfortuantely and tragically missed Carl Olson (he was there on Thursday, when I was riding trains around Chicago, but more on that in a minute), met Fr. Andrew Apostoli, and strolled the ever-restless Joseph around and around the exhibit floor as Michael, OSV publisher Greg Erlandson and the owners of a Fort Wayne Catholic bookstore had a long conversation and I wondered exactly why they all had to come to Chicago to have this conversation.

My favorite exhibitor at both the RBTE and CMN was Cornwell Scribeworks which produces "Medieval Art for the Modern Mind." It's lovely, lovely stuff, all hand-made, not a computer in sight, and I really hope you'll take a look at their website.

And what were the hot books, beside the Dubruiel and Welborn titles? I have no idea. Actually, I have a stack of books from RBTE that I have yet to go through, and I'll soon let you know what looks promising.

Well, that was tiring.

I'll report on our last few days, moving backwards, then forwards again.

First, today - a trip up to Lansing, capitol of the state of Michigan, governed by...never mind. Our greatest concern for the day was, of course, Joseph. Would he sleep? When? Would it be possible that he would actually be helpful and doze during the book signing?

Answer: If you know a two-year old, you can guess.

We kept him awake during the trip up, which was a challenge, considering that the kid has a hard time staying awake in the car if I drive to Kroger's in the mornings. But we did it, so as we approached the Rosary Book and Gift Shoppe, we were filled with great hope. Which faded quickly enough, naturally.

About ten minutes into this book signing - which was associated with the opening of this new branch of the bookstore, I could tell we were not going be exactly inundated, and that I could be spared. So I took Joseph out in the stroller and walked him back and forth on the shady sidewalk about 97 times, at which point I determined he was asleep. And he was - until we got into the brightly lit store, at which point he awoke. If you have a two-year old, you know that sometimes a three-minute nap is just enough to re-energize a kid for an afternoon, but not in a good way.

I have to say, though, he was very, very good, up until about the last fifteen minutes. We sold a number of books, most notably to the one priest who came in and bought one of everything we had - if we'd had more priests, we would have sold out in no time.

After the appointed hour had ended, we decided to break in our reciprocal zoo passes at Lansing's little zoo, where we saw a tiger, some raggedy looking camels, really raggedy looking reindeer (I guess they shed their winter coats), a few monkeys, goats, pigs, porcupines, peacocks, and kangaroos. It was a nice enough little zoo, good enough for Joseph, and good enough for free.

We then took a look at the Michigan State campus, including the football stadium, of course, drove by the capitol, shopped a bit, ate at Carrabba's, one of the few chains which I really like, and which has one salad in particular that I really, really like, (Insalata Fiorucci) but have not tasted in close to three years because the Fort may merit 47 Mexican restaurants, but not a Carrabba's, and then headed home.

Oh, and did Joseph sleep? He finally nodded off thirty seconds after we drove away from the zoo, and slept for the Michigan State tour. About thirty minutes. And not one slight droop of the eyelid on the way home either. He was too busy yelling, "Go FootWayne!" for two hours to sleep, I guess.

Kenneth Woodward on the EU preamble

As an American, I shouldn't much care what the bureaucrats in Brussels write in their preamble. But it should matter to Europeans — and to anyone anywhere who cares about history — because the eliding of the Christian foundations of Western culture is morally and intellectually dishonest. One can only hope that wiser heads at next week's summit meeting in Greece will set the historical record straight and reject the trahison des clercs manifest in Brussels. What kind of future can there be for a united Europe that disavows its own past? Such a move would be unimaginable, I like to think, if the convention had met in Venice.

I understand there's been a dust-up this week between Gov. Keating and Cardinal Mahony. Haven't had a chance to read much about it, but you probably have already. All eyes will be on the bishops' meeting next week. No, not all eyes, since a greater number of the sessions will be closed, and I understand that the NCCB or whatever it's called now is not exactly rolling out the welcome mat for the press.

Ah, transparency, accountability and reasoned discourse.

Sometime this weekend, I'm going to try to sort out what's going on in the Philippines, but you are welcome to get a head start on the project, if you like.

From Saturday's WaPo, on Keating, etc.

"Unfortunately, in talking to a lot of bishops, he seems to have lost so much credibility that one has to ask, is it able to be recaptured? I personally think it would be almost impossible," Mahony said in a telephone interview with The Washington Post last night.

He added that he understood that review board members had been conferring by telephone without Keating. "I suspect that members of the review board themselves may be counseling the governor that he's put in a year as chairman and this might be a good time for him to step aside," Mahony said.

The cardinal said that he, personally, did not intend to call for Keating's removal in St. Louis. But, he said, "I know from other bishops they intend to bring it up." The most likely prospect, he said, is "some kind of a secret ballot vote of confidence or no-confidence if the governor hasn't decided on his own initiative that this is a good time to step down."

Dan Mahoney, a spokesman for Keating, said he was traveling in Connecticut yesterday and was not available for comment

Several review board members confirmed that they have had discussions among themselves but said Keating's future was in his own hands.

"That's up to the governor, who has been concerned about his own situation with his new job and his inability to spend the time with the board that he would like," said William Burleigh, referring to Keating's full-time job as an insurance trade association president.

Burleigh said Keating's remark about La Cosa Nostra was a mistake. "I don't in any way agree with that characterization because most of the bishops are either cooperating or struggling for ways to cooperate with the study, and it's the minority, such as Cardinal Mahony, that up until recently have been dragging their feet," he said.


From John Allen

Why the visit to Croatia was so important to the Pope:

The pope has long feared that the secularized culture of Western Europe suffers from amnesia, forgetting that Christianity shaped its history and value system. Cut off from its roots, John Paul worries, Europe could drift into nihilism, or become fertile ground for the spread of aggressively missionary religious alternatives such as Islam.

John Paul believes the Catholic nations of the former Socialist block can inject a religious booster shot into the Western bloodstream. That’s why he is anxious for Croatia, Poland, Lithuania and Slovakia to join the European Union, and it’s why last December the Vatican expressed disappointment that Croatia didn’t apply early enough for the first round of new entries. As things stand, Croatia will likely join in 2007.

Croatia’s tenacious brand of Catholicism has been shaped in part by geography. A nation of 4.4 million that’s 87 percent Catholic, Croatia finds itself at the extremities of Western Christianity. To the east is Serbia and Orthodoxy; to the south, Bosnia and Islam. Hence Croatia is an outpost of Western Christianity of symbolic and strategic importance.

“It is my hope,” the pope said June 6 in Dubrovnik, “that the patrimony of human and Christian values, accumulated down the centuries, will continue, with the help of God and of your Patron Saint Blaise, to be the most precious treasure of the people of this country.”

On the ludicrous proposed preamble to the EU constitution:

The draft says that Europe was nourished by “Hellenic and Roman civilizations,” then “marked by the spiritual impulse that runs through it and whose traces are present in its patrimony,” then finally “by the philosophical currents of the Enlightenment.” Hence Greece, Rome and the Enlightenment are mentioned, but not specifically Christianity, as the sources of European culture.An inter-governmental commission must examine the draft, then the parliament of the European Union will vote.I asked Vatican spokesperson Joaquin Navarro-Valls in Dubrovnik June 7 if he felt the Vatican could still prevail in the battle to place a reference to Christianity in the text, and he responded: “The answer is an unconditional yes.”Navarro said some heads of state are coming around to the Vatican position, recognizing that omitting Christianity from the list of forces that have shaped European civilization is “ridiculous from a historical point of view.”


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