Saturday, August 2

Archbishop O'Malley's first Mass to be celebrated in Spanish.

"People come up and say things like, 'Father Dom, thanks for bringing the Catholic Church into the marketplace.' I say, 'Hey, I'm just a guy trying to sell a little duck doo.'"


Frank Rich on Mel Gibson's martyr complex

Perhaps "The Passion" bears little resemblance to that script. Either way, however, damage has been done: Jews have already been libeled by Mr. Gibson's politicized rollout of his film. His game from the start has been to foment the old-as-Hollywood canard that the "entertainment elite" (which just happens to be Jewish) is gunning for his Christian movie. But based on what? According to databank searches, not a single person, Jewish or otherwise, had criticized "The Passion" when Mr. Gibson went on Bill O'Reilly's show on Jan. 14 to defend himself against "any Jewish people" who might attack the film. Nor had anyone yet publicly criticized "The Passion" or Mr. Gibson by March 7, when The Wall Street Journal ran the interview in which the star again defended himself against Jewish critics who didn't yet exist. (Even now, no one has called for censorship of the film — only for the right to see it and, if necessary, debate its content.)Whether the movie holds Jews of two millenniums ago accountable for killing Christ or not, the star's pre-emptive strategy is to portray contemporary Jews as crucifying Mel Gibson. A similar animus can be found in a new book by one of Mr. Gibson's most passionate defenders, the latest best seller published by the same imprint (Crown Forum) that gave us Ann Coulter's "Treason." In "Tales From the Left Coast," James Hirsen writes, "The worldview of certain folks is seriously threatened by the combination of Christ's story and Gibson's talent."Now who might those "certain folks" be? Since no one was criticizing "The Passion" when Mr. Hirsen wrote that sentence, you must turn elsewhere in the book to decode it. In one strange passage, the author makes a fetish of repeating Bob Dylan's original name, Robert Zimmerman — a gratuitous motif in a tirade that is itself gratuitous in a book whose subtitle says its subject is "Hollywood stars." Another chapter is a screed about how "faith is often the subject of ridicule and negative portrayal" in Hollywood. One of the more bizarre examples Mr. Hirsen cites is "Sophie's Choice," in which "passages from the New Testament are quoted by Nazi officials in support of atrocities that were committed."

Immigrants and religion:

Filling the pews in Northeast Ohio

It's where they receive most of their help," said Nora Illades, a Mexican who married an American and came to Painesville in 1994. She said that at St. Mary, Spanish speakers receive financial advice and information on obtaining the "metricula," an identification card issued by the Mexican consulate that can open doors formerly closed to Mexican nationals. The metricula is a boon for workers who are not U.S. citizens and who send money back to relatives in Mexico. For them, wiring money can cost huge fees, said Fitzroy Da Silva, a Fifth Third Bank retail associate. Fifth Third and a growing number of banks now accept the metricula card to open a bank account. At least 200 Hispanics, and sometimes as many as 500, attend Mass weekly at St. Mary , said Vellenga, who learned to speak Spanish fluently during his missionary years in El Salvador. This mushrooming community has meant a huge boost to the church's membership rolls. In turn, St. Mary has chosen to be responsive, with Masses in Spanish and by offering special rituals familiar to Mexican Catholics, Vellenga said.

Adapting non-Christian religions for kids raised in Western culture:

Many non-Christian immigrants are keeping their religions alive in America by looking to an unlikely place: church. In some cases, such as the Chinmaya Mission, stories and songs might be infused with Christian teachings and concepts. In other examples from Buddhist temples to Sikh gurdwaras, immigrant congregations hold Sunday school, summer camps, discussion groups and singing practice -- activities often unheard of in their homelands. And many communities' efforts begin with educational programs for children that later grow to encompass families. At Camp Gurmat, a weeklong retreat for Sikh youth in a woodsy area in Silver Spring, young worshipers spend days and nights learning about Sikh history, identity and scriptures. But much of the program is devoted to helping children navigate their place in the United States.

Well, cool. I may be way behind the curve on this, but I didn't know that the ArtsJournal site had started running blogs, including one by Terry Teachout. Good stuff.

Here's the link to all the blogs

Just what I need. More to read.

A review of Catholicism and American Freedom by John McGreevy

Thank goodness

A gentle, but still thorough take-down of the bogus art interpretation in The Da Vinci Code in the NYTimes.


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