Saturday, June 28

A story on Mel Gibson's visit to Focus on the Family with his movie

A vaguely mocking and snide report on an abstinence convention in (yes) Vegas by the WaPo's Hank Stuever.

I am not gung-ho keen on cutesy methods of promoting abstinence, and any time a movement starts having conventions, you've got a mockumentary waiting to happen, and any gathering that features an "Abstinence Elvis" really, really deserves every rotten tomato it gets thrown at it, and I will hand one off myself in this case, but the tone of this piece was extremely irritating to me, for, like many of you, I did the old "what if this were a story about ___________" mental exercise, and knew that without a doubt a piece on a liberal feminist convention or a gathering of Unitarians or environmentalists or Muslims would not, in any way have played off of reader's negative and stereotyped expectations, and would not have been coyly and cleverly assigned to a writer well known for a...perspective.... diametrically opposed to the perspectives of the group on which he's reporting (Stuever, a good writer whose pieces I've often liked is comfortably and openly gay. Or post-gay. Or whatever.)

It all just wears me out and I am so, so tired of this modern attitude that values...well...attitude above substance and clever, ironic juxtaposition over really trying to understand why other people believe what they do and to try to excavate and appreciate whatever truth it is that is at the heart of what they do. Sometimes the ironic juxtaposition and the eyes of the unsympathetic outsider do much to reveal truth. But when that's all we get, we lose. And these days, it seems that everyone's interested in attitude and hardly anyone's interested in figuring out the truth.

Which leads to nothing, and no point at all, except helping us all feel superior, reader and writer both.

You know, going to a baseball game, even if it's only AA, can be scary for fellow.

There's all these big creatures that keep coming around wanting to shake your hand - a big green dragon, even a big taco man, for heaven's sake. Then there's a thunderstorm that's loud and wet in the middle of the game, and then there's fireworks, not just at the end as threatened,but at the beginning and in the middle too. Scary stuff. Makes you turn to your mom and say "Go home," and even your favorite - a big pretzel, doesn't help.

But, through perservence and a move to an almost-abandoned deck with picnic tables after the rain ended and the tarp was up, a move taken so you'd have more room to play, you made it, and were even, by the end, able to shake the big green dragon's hand. And to announce to anyone who's listening that you were, indeed, "bwave."

Dom asks if anyone's heard any bishops denouncing the Lawrence v. Texas ruling

Of course not, and just as interesting is the question...has the Bush administration condemned it and its quite probable consequences and implications for a broader set of issues?

Nope.

Words, all words.

Which adds more fuel to fire of reflection and reaction to Rod Dreher's article in the April 2003 issue of Touchstone declaring the Democratic party to be "The Godless Party", a thesis which produced a firestorm of reactions from readers as well as this editorial defense

Missing soldiers found dead.

Another solider shot dead overnight, four wounded

US calls off local Iraq elections, appoints local leaders instead

Occupation authorities initially envisioned the creation of local assemblies, composed of several hundred delegates who would represent a city or town's tribes, clergy, middle class, women and ethnic groups. Those delegates would select a mayor and city council.That process was employed successfully in the northern city of Kirkuk, but U.S. civilian and military occupation officials now say postwar chaos has left Iraq unprepared to stage popular elections in most cities.

"In a postwar situation like this, if you start holding elections, the people who are rejectionists tend to win," Bremer said. "It's often the best-organized who win, and the best-organized right now are the former Baathists and to some extent the Islamists." Bremer was referring to members of Hussein's Baath Party and religiously oriented political leaders.Bremer and other U.S. officials are fearful that Islamic leaders such as Moqtada Sadr, a young Shiite Muslim cleric popular on the streets of Baghdad, and Ayatollah Mohammed Bakir Hakim, leader of the Iranian-supported Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, would be best positioned to field winning candidates.

Bremer promises that as soon as an Iraqi constitution is written and a national census is taken, local and national elections will follow. But that process could take months.Ten weeks into the occupation, the cities and towns outside of Baghdad are largely administered by former Iraqi military and police officers and people who had close ties to the Baath Party. Iraqi generals and police colonels, for example, are now mayors of a dozen cities, including Samarra, Najaf, Tikrit, Balad and Baqubah.The U.S. military contends that these people have been vetted and were not in leadership positions under the old government or associated with crimes it committed.

No electricity in Baghdad for 3 days; temps at 117 degrees.


Ugandan children leave their homes to sleep at night, frightened of abduction.

In Canton, the dedication of a grotto next to the home of a reported visionary and stigmatist

A small shrine next to the house on 25th Street NE was dedicated Friday, another amenity for the stream of visitors who come to the house of the woman who said she was visited by Jesus and St. Therese. Rhoda Wise, who died in 1948, also reportedly suffered from stigmata, or wounds resembling those Jesus received when he was crucified. Since the death of her daughter, Anna Mae, in 1995, the house has been owned and maintained by Our Lady of the Angels monastery in Alabama.

(That's the monastery associated with EWTN and Mother Angelica, who attributes the cure of some adolescent abdominal problems to a meeting with and prayers from Rhoda Wise)



Time takes its toll on California missions

The earth trembles as trains and trucks rumble through town. The adobe walls at the town's first settlement, the two-century-old Mission San Miguel Arcangel, are crumbling. Cracks in the stucco are widening. Paint from fading frescoes is flaking off.

Up and down the California coast, most of the state's 21 missions are under attack by termites, wood beetles, and the elements. Last fall, a beam crashed down on a statue of Jesus at the San Gabriel Mission, one of the state's oldest. At Mission Dolores in San Francisco, insects are boring through the ornately decorated altar and its statuaries. At most missions, leaky roofs threaten to make mud out of earthen bricks.

For decades, the missions, stretching from San Diego to the Sonoma vineyards, have struggled to raise the money to make repairs and save historical artifacts. Government funds aren't materializing, and the fledgling California Missions Foundation, begun five years ago to benefit the missions, has barely made a dent in its $50 million fund-raising goal.

''It is urgent. Nothing major has been done on these missions for a long time,'' said Richard Ameil, the foundation's founder and president. ''In Europe, they have all of these wonderful old buildings and churches. In this country, we tear them down.''

Last fall, the foundation asked Congress to set up a $10 million grant program. The legislation, cosponsored by 49 of the state's 53-member House delegation, is yet to make it on the agenda.

The foundation has also been expecting its share of funds from last year's Proposition 40, a $2.6 billion parks and conservation bond measure that included $267 million for historic preservation. None of the $91 million appropriated so far has gone to California missions, and it is unclear when and where the rest of the money will be distributed because of the state's budget crisis, Ameil said.

I have read several stories about the crisis regarding the state of the California missions, and I am always puzzled by the apparent absence of any concerted effort by the Church in California to preserve these missions. Perhaps it's there, perhaps I'm missing it. Or perhaps I'm not.



Evangelist discerns a "spiritual hunger" in Toledo, comes once a month

Referring to the large number of Catholics in the Toledo area and the sex-abuse scandal that has shaken that church, Mr. Stone said, "With all the things that have happened recently, I believe Catholic people are hungry for the presence of God in their churches."He said his own background - his mother’s side of the family is Catholic - has helped him understand people who are Catholic.


Mr. Scott said Catholics have made up the highest percentage of those attending the services, which are being billed as the "Holy Toledo Crusade.""What we’ve experienced in the meetings is there seems to be a genuine hunger for people to truly experience God, and not through someone else, but through their own experience. I think that’s been especially true of a lot of the Catholics who’ve been coming."

Mr. Stone said he believes denominational barriers are being broken down at the services he conducts on Saturday nights and Sundays on the first weekend of every month at the Toledo Christian Life Center."At any given service here, we have numerous denominations present, but yet the people are all in one heart and mind worshiping the Lord. One time, we had 20 different denominations represented here. That’s one of the great things I see happening in this area, where people are coming together and working together with a common cause of reaching people for Christ."

Mr. Stone said, however, he is not interested in drawing people away from their churches. "We emphasize in the meeting that if people have a church they attend to be faithful to the local church to help it to grow and reach people."

Four Toledo-area nuns celebrating diamond jubilees

Here's a photo of Mel Gibson's church, from an Australian paper.

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