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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heavy Metal Theology

From The Christians Could Learn a Lot About Life From Heavy Metal, Says Cleric
The Rev Rachel Mann claims that the much-maligned form of music demonstrates the “liberative theology of darkness”, allowing its tattooed and pierced fans to be more “relaxed and fun” by acknowledging the worst in human nature.
Read that again, and tell me if you think that's one of the most inane, nonsensical statements you've read in awhile.

"Liberative theology of darkness"?? Say what?
The priest admits that many will be “concerned” about metal lyrics praising Satan and mocking Christianity, but insists it is just a form of “play-acting”.

Miss Mann, priest-in-charge of St Nicholas’s, Burnage, writes in this week’s Church Times: “Since Black Sabbath effectively created it in 1969 by using the dissonant sound of the medieval ‘Devil’s chord’, heavy metal has been cast as dumb, crass, and on, occasions satanic; music hardly fit for intelligent debate, led alone theological reflection.

“And yet, as both priest and metal musician and fan, it strikes me that the Church, especially at this agonized time, has a serious gospel lesson to learn from this darkest and heaviest music.”

Miss Mann says that heavy metal songs, characterized by distorted guitar sounds, “intense” beats and “muscular” vocals, are “unafraid to deal with death, violence and destruction”.

Its “predominantly male and white” fans “generally like tattoos and piercings” but are “graceful, welcoming and gentle”.

I've never been a devotee of heavy metal - about the heaviest I ever got was a stretch during wayback time when I thought Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins were da bomb - but I know enough to state rather confidently: heavy metal doesn't deal with death, violence and destruction - it glorifies it.

Which rather conflates with St Paul's advice to the Philippians: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Phil 4:8) As a reverend, Mann ought to realize that, right? Heavy metal is rarely, if ever, defined in terms of being honorable, true, pure, lovely or gracious. I'm more inclined to use the following descriptions: grotesque, impure, ugly and obnoxious. And in some cases - perhaps most - evil.

Rev Mann has got her priorities messed up - perhaps the result of too many head-bangin' concerts and loud music. Who knows - I don't know her. But I disagree with her premise. I don't think she fully grasps the depth and impact music holds on people - especially on the youth, who constantly seek for something that resonates with their feelings, their lives, their circumstances. Music is powerful in that regard - to just cavalierly remark that heavy metal is a form of play-acting...very irresponsible. Fans who shell out bucks for downloads, concert tickets and paraphernalia - they take heavy metal far more seriously than Mann gives them credit.

“Metal’s refusal to repress the bleak and violent truths of human nature liberates its fans to be more relaxed and fun people”.

She goes on to claim that “metal has no fear of human darkness” and while some Christians are similarly unafraid, “many are yet to discover its potential as a place of integration”.

Miss Mann quotes lyrics by the famous thrash metal band Slayer that describe Christianity as an “abortion” and state: “I’ll take the devil any day, hail Satan.”

But she claims: “Much of metal’s fascination with Satan or evil is play-acting, driven by a desire to shock.

“Metal invites Christianity to be less afraid of wildness and the ridiculous.”

So listening to music that glorifies sin and the fallen nature of our humanity is righty-o jolly good, bringing about fun and a relaxed state. And Christians need to get integrate these expressions of human darkness into their lives, because most of it is just play-acting and whatnot. What a load of dreck. Christ calls us to repent and lead lives of holiness, possible only through His grace and the sacraments of the Church. Play-acting or not, it's pretty much a given that heavy metal bands are not paragons of living the Christian moral life. If they were - would they be playing and selling that sort of music?

What's ridiculous is her advice. There's a time and a place to have fun, to be silly, to play games and be a little wild. But the last thing good Christians need is to play a heavy metal soundtrack in the background while doing so.

Monday, August 30, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance?

This ought to erase from your memories the dog-faced Christian music video I posted last week....

Sing it with me! "The renewed mind is the key, to the power that we need..."

Try to hold on until the 1:55 mark...

VOTF Writes Open Letter To Holy Father

Did I say letter? I meant "heretic manifesto".

Voice of the Faithless from "Chicagoland" - sounds like an amusement park or a medical facility for the deranged, but it's just an Illinois chapter - gathered up a dozen chimpanzees and typewriters, locked them in a room, fed them caffeine-laced bananas, and three months later, came up with an open letter to the Holy Father.

It's long and it's wrong. Let's take a look at some of it, shall we? The full text is available here (WARNING - link takes you to National Catholic Distorter!)

Voice of the Faithful, Chicagoland Northeast
An Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI: A Cry for Reform July 31, 2010

Dear Holy Father -- Joseph, our brother in Christ,

"Holy Father -- Joseph..."?? See, right from the start they're confused as to who is being addressed. Are they writing to the Holy Father, or is their particular case worker named Joseph? Or maybe Joseph is the name of the guy who gave the chimps their bananas. Very confusing...

We share with you deep pain and grief over the corruption that is coming to light throughout the worldwide Roman Catholic Church. We believe that Jesus is with us, weeping over his church as he once wept over Jerusalem. With every new revelation of clerical sex abuse and cover-up---and we have only seen the tip of the iceberg---we have become aware of a deadly cancer at the heart of the institutional church that is threatening to cripple its ability to nurture the faith of its members and to proclaim with any shred of credibility the good news of God’s Kingdom in Christ.
So Jesus is weeping with the VOTF, but not with the Holy Father? Or the entire Church? Is that what they're saying? One reason Christ is weeping is because of dissident groups like VOTF - because they are working against the unity that Jesus desires. Groups like VOTF are part of "a deadly cancer at the heart of the institutional church" - Fr Z. calls it a parallel magisterium. Sin is the deadliest of cancers - personal sin when you come right down to it - something that VOTF and similar groups have long since stopped believing in.

This cancer is the clerical culture. It sprang up, as we all know, in the Rome of Theodosius, when Christian leaders began to develop a cultic priesthood modeled on that of pagan Rome. This gave newly recognized Christian priests a privileged status in society and the requirement of abstinence from sexual activity the night before officiating at the public ritual. Over the centuries, the clerical caste took on more and more of the feudal structures and trappings of power. Today the Roman Catholic Church looks like a large, wealthy, highly organized multinational corporation, curiously dressed in the pompous trappings of an ancient feudal monarchy. Its princely bishops and priestly vassals encircle their papal monarch pledging unconditional loyalty and obedience, while many of the faithful serfs continue to pay, pray and obey their exalted leaders.

It was this point that I stopped taking the letter seriously. Veiled insults and smarmy insinuations about "princely bishops and priestly vassals" are counterproductive, and fail to strengthen their argument - they display zero humility or respect. Their prideful comments undermine their cause, and their points of view, built on the false premise of the cause of problems in today's Church collapses under the weight of bad theology.

So let's skip the next six paragraphs and get to the seven points they highlight - see if any of them are familiar boilerplate.
  1. Resolve the sex-abuse scandal with unflinching courage and transparent honesty.
  2. Restore the authority granted by Vatican II to the Episcopal Conferences.
  3. Restore the election of bishops to the local churches.
  4. Revoke the policy of mandatory clerical celibacy.
  5. Ordain women. Open all sacraments and ministries in the church to all the baptized without regard to gender or sexual orientation.
  6. Replace the obsolete College of Cardinals with a representative College of Bishops elected by the Episcopal Conferences throughout the world.
  7. Recall the Vatican produced English translation of the Roman Missal and restore the ICEL translation.
Yawn - same ol' same o'. And a total of 20 mind-numbing paragraphs describe those 7 points to boot. I will spare you the bulk of the illogic employed by those poor over-caffeinated chimpanzees, except for one of the most ridiculous, theologically absurd statements I have ever come across. It comes from point 5 - "ordain women". It's a doozy.

The metaphor argument, that the priest should be male because he represents Jesus, the male priest, is simply fallacious. The priest does not represent Christ, but serves as leader of the community of men and women worshiping God in communion with Christ. Further, since the Risen Christ is neither male nor female, any gender based symbolism ascribed to the presider is meaningless.
I have to admit, that's a new one. No one ever taught me that after the Resurrection, Jesus was sexless. More proof of my being poorly catechized, I guess. For those forty days prior to the Ascension, Jesus never had to relieve Himself? (well, it's not talked about in the New Testament, so how are we to know) So Jesus isn't really the Son of God anymore - he's just some sort of genderless bearded lady thing. And on the last day, on the Day of Resurrection, there will be no more male and female? We'll be...neither? Both? I'm sorry, but on the last day, I want to share in the divine life, not live Divine's life. Know what I mean?

Apparently, these folks take St Thomas the Apostle's declaration a bit further than he had ever considered. All he wanted to do was probe the nailmarks with his finger, and put his hand in Jesus' side, and then he would believe. I get the impression that the VOTF Chicagoland group - and quite possibly many others like them - would only be convinced of Jesus' gender should they lift His toga. And even then they wouldn't believe their own eyes.

VOTF claims that they want to "keep the faith and change the Church". With claims like this, it's apparent they no longer have faith worth keeping, and desire to do more than merely change the Church - they want to run it.

Should Pope Benedict read this - or maybe even this Holy Father Joseph person - I wonder if he'll shake his head, maybe share it with Cardinal George over lunch and laugh at the funny bits over an Orange Fanta. More likely, he'd recognize that there's still a lot of hard work to do in leading Christ's flock to heavenly pastures. Including those sheep who think they know a better way.

Here's the disingenuous closing paragraph:

Dear Holy Father, Joseph, we are counting on your intelligence and theological expertise, along with your openness to the Holy Spirit and common sense, to lead the church boldly through long-overdue reforms into a new era of Christian discipleship and ministry. Please don’t let fear and the deeply rooted scotoma of the clerical culture blind you to the current crisis and seduce you to feebly tweak at reform. Take the bold leap across the chasm. Our world is hungry for the good news of the Risen Christ, the news that a worldwide community of truth and justice, of love and peaceful collaboration is possible. This is the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed and that the church is called on to model and strive to achieve in the world, working alongside all people of goodwill.
These folks want to push Pope Benedict into the chasm, not have him leap across it. The world is hungry for the good news of Jesus - starving, in fact - and groups such as Voice of the Faithless offer scorpions instead of eggs, stones rather than bread. Their version of the truth is dangerous and unfulfilling, leaving people's souls, as well as their heads, empty and lost.

Fortunately, their influence is waning. Unfortunately, they still hold some sway, and are leading many souls astray. We must pray and make reparation for the pain they inflict on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

p.s. I wish to apologize for the chimpanzee comments - I didn't mean to insult the chimpanzees.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Feeder Feed, Live At 6:00!

Fr Z's feeders are causing a bit of a ruckus in his neighborhood, prompting the local news to send out a reporter...

OHLPC - Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

Greetings to all! The Obligatory Highbrow Literary Post Confraternity, sponsored by the Acts of the Apostasy Department of Literature and Fine Arts, welcomes you to the Second Meeting of the OHLPC, where we shall be discussing the merits and defects of the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Overall: In the spirit of brevity and succinctness, the novel's merits are as follows: zombies, ninjas, blood, more zombies, the rolling English countryside. Defects - stretches of mundane dialogue devoid of the slaying of zombies.

Characters: The story remains true to the feelings, thoughts and actions of Elizabeth Bennett, second eldest daughter of the Bennett family, and her relationship with Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth, trained in the Chinese martial arts, excels with proficiency and style in dispatching "the unmentionables" (the polite English term for zombies), all the while maintaining her poise and dignity. As the story progresses, she battles her inner demons that compel her to behead Mr. Darcy for his perceived slights of honor against Elizabeth, and her elder sister Jane - and that internal struggle propels her growth and provides humorous moments of introspection and fantasy.

From the beginning, shortly after their mutual introduction, Elizabeth held some minor appreciation for Mr. Darcy, even though his manners were somewhat lacking. An excerpt:

Elizabeth thought she detected the slightest smile on his face. She watched as Darcy drew his blade and cut down the two zombies with savage yet dignified movements. He then made quick work of beheading the slaughtered staff, upon which Mr Bingley politely vomited into his hands. There was no denying Darcy's talents as a warrior.

"If only," she thought, "his talents as a gentleman were their equal."

I daresay that Elizabeth, despite her best intentions, was getting a serious case of "the hots" for Darcy. Later in the story, the two engage in a knockdown, drag-out Jackie Chan-esque knife-fight, the result of Elizabeth's serious misinterpretations of Mr. Darcy's past actions. Hot stuff!

Another point - the author excelled at portraying proper English decorum, maintaining a consistent representation of Victorian manners among the genteel class. Many times during the story, characters were described as politely vomiting into their hands, rather than soiling their clothes or spewing chunks onto the floor where someone might step in them. Well done!

The tension between Elizabeth and Darcy, expertly held on a veritable tightrope, could not compare, however, to the tension between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine de Bourgh - a tension exacerbated by the fact that Lady Catherine deemed Japanese ninja training to be superior to that of Elizabeth's Chinese schooling. Witness the following scene:

On one such occasion, Elizabeth was solicited to spar with several of her ladyship's ninjas for the amusement of the party. The demonstration took place in Lady Catherine's grand dojo...The ninjas wore their traditional black clothing, masks and Tabbi boots; Elizabeth wore her sparring gown, and her trusted Katana sword. As Lady Catherine rose to signal the beginning of the match, Elizabeth, in a show of defiance, blindfolded herself.

"My dear girl," said her ladyship, "I suggest you take this contest seriously. My ninjas will show you no mercy."

"Nor I they, your ladyship."

"Ms. Bennett, I remind you that you lack proper instruction in the deadly arts. Your master was a Chinese monk - these ninjas hail from the finest dojos in Japan."

"If my fighting is truly inferior, then your ladyship shall be spared the trouble of watching it for very long."

Victorian cat fight! Rwowr!

Immediately following this exchange, Elizabeth expertly dispatched the three ninja, and even tore out the heart of the final one a la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and ate it. Stuff of classics.

In conclusion, I heartily recommend Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It combines the best of English civility and traditions of a bygone era with copious beheadings of brain-seeking zombies. There were numerous times where I found myself laughing, and the illustrations were an unexpected bonus. There may have even been a love story included, but seriously, who's interested in that?

Discuss in the combox.

Note: the 3rd Meeting of the OHLPC will occur in November 2010, where the novel Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter will be discussed. In particular: how are the vampires in this novel treated versus those in the Twilight series? Which story has a more satisfying resolution?

Until then - Minor sermo, magis cruor!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Archbishop Chaput: The Church Is "A Heretic Of The World's New Order"

Earlier in the week, Archbishop Charles Chaput gave a speech at the 15th Symposium of the Canon Law Association of Slovakia, entitled "Living Within The Truth: Religious Liberty and Catholic Mission in the New Order of the World". It is riveting and inspiring, and ought to be read by everyone. Here is but a mere excerpt:

Writing in the 1960s, Richard Weaver, an American scholar and social philosopher, said: “I am absolutely convinced that relativism must eventually lead to a regime of force.”

He was right. There is a kind of “inner logic” that leads relativism to repression.

This explains the paradox of how Western societies can preach tolerance and diversity while aggressively undermining and penalizing Catholic life. The dogma of tolerance cannot tolerate the Church’s belief that some ideas and behaviors should not be tolerated because they dehumanize us. The dogma that all truths are relative cannot allow the thought that some truths might not be.

The Catholic beliefs that most deeply irritate the orthodoxies of the West are those concerning abortion, sexuality and the marriage of man and woman. This is no accident. These Christian beliefs express the truth about human fertility, meaning and destiny.

These truths are subversive in a world that would have us believe that God is not necessary and that human life has no inherent nature or purpose. Thus the Church must be punished because, despite all the sins and weaknesses of her people, she is still the bride of Jesus Christ; still a source of beauty, meaning and hope that refuses to die -- and still the most compelling and dangerous heretic of the world’s new order.

Let me sum up what I’ve been saying.

My first point is this: Ideas have consequences. And bad ideas have bad consequences. Today we are living in a world that is under the sway of some very destructive ideas, the worst being that men and women can live as if God does not matter and as if the Son of God never walked this earth. As a result of these bad ideas, the Church’s freedom to exercise her mission is under attack. We need to understand why that is, and we need to do something about it.

My second point is simply this: We can no longer afford to treat the debate over secularization -- which really means cauterizing Christianity out of our cultural memory -- as if it’s a problem for Church professionals. The emergence of a “new Europe” and a “next America” rooted in something other than the real facts of our Christian-shaped history will have damaging consequences for every serious believer.

We need not and should not abandon the hard work of honest dialogue. Far from it. The Church always needs to seek friendships, areas of agreement, and ways to make positive, reasoned arguments in the public square. But it’s foolish to expect gratitude or even respect from our governing and cultural leadership classes today. Na├»ve imprudence is not an evangelical virtue.

The temptation in every age of the Church is to try to get along with Caesar. And it’s very true: Scripture tells us to respect and pray for our leaders. We need to have a healthy love for the countries we call home. But we can never render unto Caesar what belongs to God. We need to obey God first; the obligations of political authority always come second. We cannot collaborate with evil without gradually becoming evil ourselves. This is one of the most vividly harsh lessons of the 20th century. And it’s a lesson that I hope we have learned.

That brings me to my third and final point today: We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things. Only the Truth can set men free. We need to be apostles of Jesus Christ and the Truth he incarnates.
It's a long piece, but well worth the read. (and I think Archbishop Chaput would like 'Catholics for C.A.T.H.O.L.I.C.I.S.M.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

CRONES Across The Pond

Women demanding the Church ordain women is hardly an American issue. Seems that some gals in England are crying in their tea and crumpets about it, too, and have laid out cold hard cash to make their case known to Pope Benedict when he visits England in September.

Reuters has the story - "Ordain Women", London Bus Ads Will Urge Pope

Protests are planned throughout his four-day trip to England and Scotland, the first papal visit since John Paul II's pastoral visit in 1982 and the first-ever official papal visit to Britain.

One group of women, Catholic Women's Ordination (CWO), will have its message plastered on the side of the buses as they travel along key routes, including past Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster, where the pope is set to deliver a speech to Britain's civic society on September 17.

The group has paid 15,000 pounds ($23,130) for 15 buses to carry the message "Pope Benedict - Ordain Women Now!" for a month.

"We do not want to be disruptive, but I think the church has got to change or it will not survive," CWO spokeswoman Pat Brown told Reuters.

"I am quite hopeful at the moment because I think the church is in disarray."

It also hopes to protest outside Lambeth Palace during a meeting between the pope and Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual head of the Church of England, the Anglican mother church.

That's a lot of money wasted on demanding the impossible. Not to mention I'm fairly certain Pope Benedict won't have his mind suddenly swayed by a whiny complaint displayed on the side of the bus.

The CWO - I almost want to call it COW, you know? - has already spent their money, which would have been more helpful to some poor folks or needy children, but no, their complaint ranks higher on the list of social injustices. Therefore, the hungry kids will just have to suck it up, sorry ol' chaps and keep a stiff upper lip and all that.

Paul Cat, over at Alive and Young, had some fun with this, coming up with other things Pope Benedict ought to change - things which he has no authority over - or deny other parts of Catholic doctrine. Here are my suggestions:

s/s Curt Jester

Funniest Horse Race Call...Evah!

s/s Viral Footage

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Catholics for C.A.T.H.O.L.I.C.I.S.M!

*Welcome readers! I hope you enjoy your stay, and are inspired to become a 'Follower'...because only 202 followers is bad for my self-esteem...*

More details on another group that has slithered out of the slime of dissent and have misappropriated the name 'Catholic'. I've written on this group before. Their plans are rather insidious.

From California Catholic Daily: "Aggregate Reports on Every Gay Priest
Washington, D.C., Aug 22, 2010 (CNA) -- Prominent Catholic dissenters have created an organization to promote homosexual political causes and to change Catholic opinion through coordination with other activists. Organized explicitly to oppose the U.S. bishops, the group’s website asks for reports of “anti-equality activity” in Catholic parishes.

The group Catholics for Equality’s website, which is still under construction, reports that the organization is dedicated to “support, educate, and mobilize equality-supporting Catholics to advance LGBT equality at federal, state, and local levels.”

The group claims the “official voice of the hierarchy” favors discrimination and opposes “just” efforts to secure “legal equality for LGBT Americans.” This “anti-equality voice” is “far too often” portrayed as representative of American Catholics, according to the website.

One page on the site, titled “Report anti-equality activity!” contains an incomplete template for a submission form. It asks informers to describe the purported anti-equality activity and to categorize whether it took place in the parish, diocese or community “so that pro-equality Catholics can respond.”

The information generates an e-mail sent to the organization and also “an entry into private ‘report’ database,” the website says.

Mark Matson, president of the dissenting Catholic group DignityUSA, reported in a March 2010 newsletter on the group's website that an organizational meeting for Catholics for Equality took place on January 30 and 31 in Washington, D.C.

He said the meeting was convened to address the “increasing role” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and state bishops’ conference in opposing “LGBT” political causes. Another purpose of the meeting was to “coordinate efforts to shift Catholic public opinion and voter behaviors.”
"Shift Catholic public opinion"? What the H-E-double hockey sticks more do these cretins want - Obama got elected, didn't he? With the help of a whole bunch of nominal Catholics no less? I suppose for the percentage that still think sin is sin, and that SSA is a disorder, we have to be marginalized and silenced. Tolerance is not the end game with these evildoers - total acceptance of their lifestyle isn't the gold ring either. It's our complete and total silence on the issue. It won't be "Resistance is futile!" Their mantra is "Resistance will not be allowed". They want compliance, not compromise.

They desire to eliminate the Church from public discourse on this issue. Their position is that it was wrong for the Church to be involved with Prop 8, or with the marriage initiative that was voted on last November in Maine.

This group is threatening to report on "anti-equality" behavior as it happens in parishes and dioceses - in other words, parishoners snitching on their priests and bishops, and maybe even other parishoners. And what kind of "anti-equality' behaviors do they talk about? Well, nothing specific according to the article, but you can bet their rainbow sashes and glittery eye-liner they're talking about sermons that promote Church teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual behavior, the immorality of so-called gay marriage, or the dangers of adoptions by gay couples.

So the volunteer CCD teacher tells his students that marriage is the union on one man and one woman. A parent with a gay sibling hears of it, and then what? The teacher gets ousted because of his "anti-equality" views? Or maybe the high school Health teacher points out that homosexual men are more likely to contract HIV, and have a shorter life span. Would he be forced to quit because the facts are inconvenient?

I think you can count on it.

Which proves that all the claims that so-called gay marriage will in no way impact or force the Church to accept such beliefs were just big fat heterophobic lies. That gay marriage will have no impact on straight marriage. Yeah, right. Well, if it affects Church teaching, then it affects straight marriage, because that's the only form of marriage that exists: one man + one woman. Anything else is a sham.

But the bigger issue? It's the parade of organizations that purport to call themselves 'catholic', when at the end of the day, there's nothing remotely Catholic about them. There's "Catholics For Choice". "Catholic United". "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good". Not to mention the countless other Wandering Tribes, many of whom are involved with the upcoming American Catholic Council. Now "Catholics For Equality". What do they all have in common? An abject hatred for the authoritative teachings of the Catholic Church, and a desire to wield the power of government to squash the influence of the Catholic Church in the public square.

While there's nothing we can do about these groups being created - after all, Americans do have the guaranteed right of free association - there's plenty we can do, and ought to do, to demonstrate repeatedly that these groups are opposed to Catholicism, not supporters of it. They are wolves in the sheepfold, poison in the veins. Faithful Catholics - who aren't slaves to political correctness or idolaters of the spirit of the age - must expose the wolves and neutralize the poison.

And while there are plenty of great Catholic groups who stand for authentic Catholicism - Catholic League, Catholics United for the Faith, Catholic Answers, and numerous others - I think it's time to create one more.

Catholics for C.A.T.H.O.L.I.C.I.S.M. That stands for "Crusading Against The Heterodox Organizations Lurking Inside Churches Increasingly Spreading Manure". How's that?

They must be called out. They must be fought - with charity and clarity. With prayer, fasting and acts of penance, and with words and deeds as well. They must not be unopposed as they usurp the truth to advance their wicked ideological positions. It is the Christian thing to do - not just for their sake, but for the sake of those who don't know what's what or who's who. We are no longer fighting back the barbarians at the gate. We are at the gate, fighting our way back in.

Make no mistake about it - representatives of these groups will be the ones interviewed in the media to define the issues and frame the discussions. These will be the folks who will be held up as 'Catholics', while we will be described as 'fundamentalist', or 'extreme', or 'insensitive'. We will continue to be portrayed as narrow-minded and dangerous.

And I say: So.what.

There will always be enemies of the truth. For centuries, since the beginning of the Church, those who have stood up for the truth have been attacked. We have been hung, crucified and burned. Drowned, boiled, flayed and beheaded. Flogged, beaten, tortured and maimed. We have been imprisoned and exiled, raped and robbed from. We have been drawn and quartered, and fed to wild beasts. We have been hunted and sought after. We have been created in the image and likeness of our Creator - and Jesus Christ endured all this and more for the sake of the truth. The blood of martyrs courses through the veins of the Church, which gives Her strength to endure. Can there be any greater reward for Christ's faithful servants?

This latest example of anti-Catholic activity cannot go unchallenged. I am not hopeful that a significant number of priests and bishops will stand tall and not succumb to political correctness, but I am praying to be wonderfully surprised. In the end, it will be left up to the laity - within our spheres of influence: our families, our friends, our neighborhoods, our parishes. Keep an eye on what Catholics for Equality is up to in your diocese or parish. It is time to take up arms, and to choose a side.

I choose Catholics for C.A.T.H.O.L.I.C.I.S.M.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vatican Eyes New Technology To Control Liturgical Abuses

(AoftheAP) Critics of the Catholic Church routinely accuse the Vatican of being "anti-science". If officials in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship get their way, however, that oft-used charge will no longer have any merit.

Sources within both congregations, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told AoftheA that Vatican officials are closely following the installation of an Assault Intervention Device in a Los Angeles prison. This device emits an invisible energy beam that heats the target's outer skin layer, creating an intense burning sensation that forces the targeted person to quickly move away. The technology has been in use for several years, but until now, it was strictly a military weapon.

"Officials see great potential with this 'pain beam'", one source told AoftheA. "Once the LA County Sheriff concludes their six month evaluation, several representatives from each congregation will head to California and go over their findings."

When asked what applications the Vatican foresees with the A.I.D., the source only said that it would be an excellent deterrent against error-filled homilies, or would dissuade priests from leaving the sanctuary during the Sign of Peace, or perhaps drop liturgical dancers in their tracks.

"It's too early in the evaluation stage to talk about specific situations in which the pain beam would be used," the source said. "However, given that the New Translation goes into effect in November 2011, it does seem that the timing is fortuitous."

There have been unconfirmed reports that representatives from Raytheon, the 'pain beam' manufacturer, have held informal meetings with Vatican officials. Calls to Raytheon to verify those meetings were not returned.

Several prominent church observers are excited about the possible introduction of this device in churches. They spoke with AoftheA, again, on the condition of remaining anonymous.

"It's not behavioral modification per se," one said, "but gentle fraternal correction...well, maybe not so gentle, but still - I know of several dioceses that could use one in nearly every parish."

"One of the corporal works of mercy is to admonish the sinner," another pointed out. "No one ever said you can't admonish someone chewing gum during Mass with a laser beam from forty feet."

"We might be witnessing the end of applause during Mass," a third said. "I'm all for it."

Sources at the Vatican remain non-committal on the device's applications. "It is premature to talk about specifics. There are still the issues of costs, ownership, training. How will they be paid for; will they be the parish's property or the dioceses', or perhaps the CDF's; there's the whole question of qualified operators. I'm sure the list of volunteer operators will be extensive. In any case, these devices wouldn't be installed overnight."

One idea that is being floated around the USCCB is to redirect monies normally allocated to CCHD to a general "Pain Beam" fund.

For now, it's a waiting game, as the LA County Sheriff readies their evaluation period. But it seems very likely that by late 2011, the progressive and liberal elements in the Catholic Church will be feeling the heat. Literally.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Progressive Bible Quotes #10

Mt 22:35-39 (McBrien-Kmiec edition) 35 And one of them, an editor from US Catholic, asked him a question, to test him. 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 And He said to them, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 The second is like it, You shall love Nature more than yourself."

The journal US Catholic routinely publishes crazy articles. This one is no exception.

"Problem Children: Making Trouble For Mother Earth" by Bryan Cones
Scientists tell us that, by their count, the universe is somewhere between 13 and 14 billion years old, with the earth coming in at somewhere between 5 and 6 billion. According to traditional Jewish reckoning, on the other hand, creation is celebrating a much more modest 5,771 years this September 9.

That date is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which rolls around every autumn, just as the earth is yielding crops bountiful enough to fill every table. Jewish tradition has it that when God created the heavens and the earth, they came into being in their fullness, each ripe fruit and ear of grain a sign of the divine goodness literally pushing out at the end of every branch and stalk.

Genesis tells two different stories of this wonder. The first is a tale of goodness built upon goodness, the fullness of which is the divine likeness borne by humankind. The second recounts a more complicated beginning, one that ends in a tragic fall. Yet both give pride of place to women and men: Though part of nature, humankind is charged with governing what God has made by virtue of the divine image they bear.

So far so good - but then he falls off the rails.

At least that's how the story goes, though the myth is contradicted over and over by the facts on the ground, or in the case of the oil-sullied Gulf of Mexico, under the sea. We may be forced to judge the ancient writers of Genesis overly optimistic when it comes to humanity's alleged capacity for the divine gifts of knowledge and wisdom. A modern biblical writer would probably be forced to recount how the Creator saved his most spectacular blunder for last, creating the stupidest, most shortsighted fools to ever walk on two legs.

First of all, Catholics are not required to believe the 'scientific' aspects of the Creation story - you know, done in six days, fashioned from the clay and all that. We are required to believe, though, that God is the creator of everything, and that we are made in His likeness and image, and that at some point, and in some way, we have fallen from grace and sin was introduced into creation as a result of our common ancestors' original sin.

Perhaps the writer is engaging in hyperbole when describing humanity as God's "most spectacular blunder", the "stupidest, most shortsighted fools to ever walk on two legs". I hope he's not including Jesus and Mary in that blanket description. And I happen to think that although I'm capable of committing stupid and shortsighted sins, I'm also capable of performing works of beauty and displaying acts of love and mercy (all thru God's grace, of course). I know that countless folks before me have done so - Mother Teresa, Michelangelo, Padre Pio, Mozart to name 4 - and I doubt God considers them to be spectacular blunders. God doesn't consider any of his creation as spectacular blunders, seeing as how He called all his creation "good". So I'll err on the side of discretion here - that Cones is using hyperbole - in order to make a greater point. So let's read on.
I can think of no other way to describe a species that has, in the mere 150 years since the Industrial Revolution, so recklessly trashed its environment, fouling both land and water to such extremes that creation's other inhabitants, innocent bystanders to our bipedal menace, must either flee or die. What God created as a biosphere, humanity has made an anthroposphere-all about us.

It is bad enough that the endless human quest to mine and process the earth's guts has resulted in the obscene catastrophe that is still washing up on our shores. What is worse is that neither this devastation nor scores of others have provoked any meaningful soul-searching about our future as a species or our deleterious effect on God's handiwork.

Okay, I retract the hyperbole angle. I think he means what he writes.

Arguments can be made pro and con about the Deepwater Horizon crisis - was it a result of our insatiable quest for oil, or the result of stupid regulations which made it necessary to drill so far off-shore, or the result of our need to import foreign oil due to homegrown enviro-screwballs influence, or a combination of all of the above - but the bottom line, to me, is this: God created the world, including the oil, and the coal, and the natural gas. It's there for us to use. The creative nature of mankind - a reflection of our being made in God's image - enables us to harness those resources. To summarily abandon parts of creation is contrary to our being good stewards of creation. God desires we use His gifts wisely - the material ones as well as the immaterial ones - but He doesn't desire we just refuse them.
There is only one word for this-sin-and it's the same one first described in Creation Story No. 2: That sin had little to do with fruit or snakes or sex; it was rather an attempt to be, in the words of the tempting serpent, "like God," a refusal to be rooted in the soil from which we were drawn.

Our first parents tried to escape their created nature, and their children down these many generations continue to commit the same sin against nature over and over. And as we refuse to admit that we belong to-and are not above or apart from or better than-the world around us, we continue to make an open sewer of the only home we have.

Now we get to the heart of the matter: sin. Sin manifests itself in varied ways - pride, gluttony, avarice, know the list. But according to Cones, the numero uno sin, perhaps the only sin that matters, is mistreatment of God's creation. Not turning our backs to God, or being uncharitable to our neighbor. He's treating the effect as if it were the cause, rather than the other way around. Adam and Eve turned against God first, which resulted in nature turning against us, and us against each other. In Cones' mind, Adam and Eve turned against nature first, which resulted in....I guess our continued abuse of creation. And thus the logic train has completely jumped tracks.
We know well that the remedy for sin is conversion, and the conversion this sin demands is that we remember what we are: earth people, clay vessels made alive by divine breath. We must begin by putting our bare feet on whatever soil we can find, to dig our toes in among the grasses and roots and crawling things, to run our hands over rough bark and through clear water, to love creation as God does, and so discover again our first and primary vocation as vicars of the Creator.
I thought the remedy for sin was repentance - perhaps he's using the words interchangeably here. His recipe for conversion sounds more like a return to some orgy-istic pantheism, devoid of love and charity for fellow people, with nary a mention to our debt owed to God - a debt that was paid for by the death of Christ on the cross. Our primary vocation is to love God - that's what Jesus said, remember? - and playing footsie with worms or molesting trees are not God-centered activities. Using worms to bait a hook in order to catch a fish so I can provide for my family is a better way to show I love God. Chopping down a tree so I can make a fire or produce boards in order to build a shelter for my family shows I love God. How? Because I'm using the gift of creation in the way He intended. Nature isn't to be worshiped, or merely admired (although appreciating a crisp bright sunrise, or the incredible expanse of a star-filled sky ought to lead us to express gratitude to God for blessing us). It's to be used in accordance to its purpose. Plants exist to provide for animals; animals exist to provide for people; people exist to give glory to God (yes, I'm oversimplifying things, but you get the basic idea). We are stewards of nature, not merely passing through an exhibit of Beautiful Things God Made To Be Looked At, But Not Used.
But it is not enough to repent; we must also atone for what we have done and what we are still doing. That atonement requires an abrupt change in how we go about our lives-particularly how we create and use energy-but it cannot stop there. It must include reparation-literal repairs-for the earth scarred so terribly by our wickedness. Perhaps our penance may restore the oneness God intended in the beginning, in which human beings have our proper place as members of the created order.
Just how the heck are we to "repair the Earth"? For crying out loud, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, tsunamis and other natural disasters do more to upend God's creation than a thousand years of strip mining or a hundred Deepwater Horizon's could ever do.

I've got news for Mr Cones. The order has been restored - through Christ's atonement on the cross. The only possible way for peace is through Christ and His Church and her sacraments - not through oil boycotts and pollution-less energy sources. Not through getting in touch with nature. The chasm has been filled, and the rough ways have been made smooth. By grace we have been saved - by grace we are being saved - and by grace we will be saved. We won't be, and can't be, saved by switching to CFL bulbs or electric cars. Nor is choosing not to use them a sin.

And let's presume we could make reparations. Then what? Does that mean some idyllic balance will be restored? That Yankee and Red Sox fans will cheer each other on over a friendly beer and brat? That traffic jams will cease? That peace will come to the Mideast? Or does it only mean that some folks will merely feel good about themselves, without really working on the important issue - that of fighting against personal sin, and doing the hard work of loving our neighbor, and obeying God. I'm going with the latter. It's much easier to hug a tree that lacks free will than it is to love the unlovable person who may reject you, and even hate you.

One thing is for sure - the jury is still out for the "proper place" of Catholyc magazine editors. Here's a thought - maybe this one ought to go out and wriggle his feet in the grass, ya think?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The OHLPC - Meeting Soon!

Dear friends and benefactors - slightly more than one year ago, the inaugural engagement of the Obligatory Highbrow Literary Post Confraternity convened within the virtual halls of the AoftheA Department of Literature and Fine Arts. I swore upon all that is good and holy, that a second gathering would occur once I had completed the classic novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the initial selection of the OHLPC.

Cherished Charter Members, that moment is soon upon us! We stand a tiptoe upon the crest of a literary morn bespecked with the dew of awkward mixed metaphors. Your humble host hurtles with vellum-turning haste, headlong through hemoglobin and horror-soaked prose, hopeful that his heart holds firm until the harried end.

All alliteration aside, the next convention of the OHLPC is scheduled for Sunday August 29, and participation is open to all, Charter Member or not. Discussion will center on this augmented work of Jane Austen, the effect of the added improvements, and its ramifications on a future society that will undoubtedly one day be overrun by zombies. Please refrain from initiating discussion of the novel until then, if you would be so kind! We will also be choosing the next literary selection for the OHLPC at that time.

Minor sermo, magis cruor!

Praise Music - Gone To The Dogs?

Howlingly bad.

Kids deserve better than this, don't you think?

And if you stuck with it until the end, you've earned yourself a couple Scooby Snacks.

s/s to Thomas Peters at American Papist

Sunday, August 22, 2010

High School Photos Of Catholic Bloggers

While surfing the innerwebs this evening, I came across a bunch of high school yearbook pictures of various Catholic bloggers. Who'd a thunk it that they would be so easily found? Some of these truly capture each blogger's personality and spirit, the same that's displayed in every post at their respective blogs.

Below is Angela from "Where Angels Blog". How tragic that the day before yearbook pictures, a friend inadvertently poked her in the eye with a curling iron. Ouch! Luckily, the "eye patch" look was in vogue that year...

This is Cathy_of_Alex of "The Recovering Dissident". It was her desire to have a picture taken when she went into ecstasy. She was like that for 45 minutes, which threw off the schedule for the rest of her class.

Following is Joe at "Defend Us In Battle". Even at a young age, he knew his place in the Church Militant. Either that, or he had dreams of being in Capitol One credit card commercials...

Below is 'aka the Mom' at "Shoved To Them". Tough, hip, shrouded in anonymity and secrecy, like a ninja, coiled to strike. Don't let that coy smile fool you, though. Read her blog, and you'll notice that her coolness and toughness hasn't waned in the slightest. I bet she wears the cap and sunglasses from time to time to intimidate her kids.

Hard to believe (or maybe not!), this is Terry at "Abbey Roads". It wouldn't surprise me if he blogs from time to time in that same wide-collar velvet blazer.

I even found an old grade school yearbook picture of me.

It's amazing how far we've come, isn't it?

(photos from Bad Yearbook Photos - cringe-worthy funny site)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Protect Yourself From Gonorrhea Lectim!

(A friend emailed this to me. I cannot take credit for it...darn it)

Information about Gonorrhea Lectim

The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of this old disease. The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim, and it is a terrible obamanation.

The disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behavior involving putting your cranium up your rectum. Many victims contracted it in 2008...but now most people, after having been infected for the past 1-2 years, are starting to realize how destructive this sickness is.

It's sad because Gonorrhea Lectim is easily cured with a new drug just coming on the market called Votemout. You take the first dose in 2010 and the second dose in 2012 and simply don't engage in such behavior again; otherwise, it could become permanent and eventually wipe out all life as we know it.

Several states are already on top of this, like Virginia and New Jersey, and apparently now Massachusetts, with many more seeing the writing on the wall.

Please pass this important message on to all those bright folk you really care about.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Authority And Leadership

I came across this quote of Sr Joan Chittister, taken from her most recent screed at the National Catholic Distorter, in which she attempts to describe the difference between authority and leadership.

At the crossroads in life, authority goes one direction: back. Authority goes in the direction that's already in the book; the path that has been clearly trod before now, the way that is safe and sure, clear and certain, obedient and approved, applauded and rewarded.

Leadership, on the other hand, rewrites the book. It takes the direction that leads only to the promise of a better tomorrow for everyone however difficult it may be to achieve it now. "The seed," the Zen master teaches, "never sees the flower."

Now, this is a rather limited and deficient comparison - but given that it was written in light of the recent LCWR National Assembly, and the ongoing Apostolic Visitation of numerous women religious communities, it fits the template that heterodox individuals and organizations have been following and foisting on the Church for decades.

Which is - the Vatican/Pope/bishops exercise rigid oppressive backwards-thinking Authority; the LCWR/Call-to-Acton/suppressed theologians/'insert-heterodox-group-name here' display enlightened forwards-thinking Leadership.

Obviously, there are numerous problems with the pigeon holing, along with some glaring errors in what constitutes true authority and authentic leadership. She has made some incredible assumptions with her claim:

1) Authority is inherently bad.

2) Leadership is inherently good.

3) Authority and leadership are mutually exclusive.

4) Catholycs are authentic leaders.

5) Authority is bad Bad BAd BAD BAD BAD!!!!

Once you understand that this is the reality in her universe (and the others like her), the following comparisons are Gospel truth:

  • Humanae Vitae = authority; Lambeth Conference = leadership
  • Ordinatio Sacerdotalis = authority; 1976 Pontifical Biblical Commission on Women's Ordination = leadership
  • TLM = authority; liturgical puppets = leadership
  • Fathers of the Church = authority; LCWR = leadership
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church = authority; conscience = leadership
  • Archbishop Raymond Burke = authority; Archbishop Ray Hunthausen = leadership
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. I'm sure you can come up with other comparisons.

Fortunately, we live in the real universe, where her mindset is an anomaly. Authority isn't something claimed or taken - it is something that is bestowed. Christ bestowed his authority on the apostles, and to St Peter in a special way, and Christ taught that his authority was given to him by God the Father. And I would have to say that the incarnation qualifies as the "crossroads of Life" moment - and once the Holy Spirit descended on the 12, with all that authority, the Church did leap forward, while at the same time relying on all that Christ had taught. When it comes to the all-important issue of salvation, authority must stand upon the bedrock of tradition amidst roiling circumstances, to ensure we reach "the promise of a better tomorrow".

And leadership isn't something glorified because it is risky, or different, or "rewrites the book". It can be those things, but leadership by and large imparts inspiration and instills confidence in one's followers. Leadership has a track record of success, a trophy case full of awards. Most importantly, in my opinion, successful leaders are those who lead by example. They operate within the lines to get the job done, and expect nothing less by those in their charge. And when unconventional means are required to reach goals, true leaders are able to explain their reasons to those in authority, and take responsibility for their actions. They don't complain or whine, nor do they subvert or corrupt.

Authority and leadership are intricately linked, as well. They are not mutually exclusive, and I contend that one cannot be an effective leader without exercising just authority. Although one can be in a position of authority and display zero leadership skills - President Obama, for example. Joan's simplistic differentiation sounds cute and compartmentalized, but it's wrong on every count.

Can authority be abused? Yes it can - witness the cover-up of the child sex abuse scandal. That doesn't translate into "all authority is bad", though. Do leaders sometimes lead their charges astray? Happens all the time - I think the basis for the Apostolic Visitation reflects on poor decisions made by the leaders of some women religious communities. Which goes to show that taking different directions for the sake of being different doesn't always lead to better tomorrows.

Authority isn't something that's grabbed and taken - it's received. And leadership is something that's proven - effective leaders learn from their mistakes, and are keen observers of history so that mistakes are not repeated.

Once again, Sr Joan shows she is no authority on what constitutes true leadership.

Vanity Plates

Vanity plates are just as obnoxious as most bumper stickers. I read a lot of them, unfortunately, since my job as sales rep requires I drive quite a bit, and such things are rather unavoidable.

How many times have you read a vanity plate and it in no way represents the driver? Sure, perhaps the driver isn't the car owner, but if the owner shells out money for a vanity plate in the first place, what's the likelihood they'd let someone else drive it? Pretty small, I say.

I can't tell you how many times I see a plate that says something along the lines of 2SEXY4U, or IMDABOMB, only to observe that the driver is a future contestant of "The Biggest Loser" or an Austin Powers look-alike.

For the record, I do not have a vanity plate. As you can tell from my blog, I am extremely humble, and do my utmost not to draw attention to myself (*ahem*). Although in the spirit of full disclosure, my van does sport a bumper magnet displaying the call sign for the local Ave Maria Radio affiliate, but that's it.

But it got me thinking...others folks really could benefit from vanity plates. For instance -

Richard McBrien
Sr Joan Chittister (yeah, I know it's too big, so sue me)
The Westboro Baptist Crowd (I know - too big again. Too bad)
Martin Luther (I know he's dead, so sue me again)
George W Bush

Got any other suggestions?

(Images generated at ACME License Plate Maker)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Does Obama Believe?

The Gospel According To (Chris) Matthews:

(Mt 16: 13-16) Now when Obama came into the district of Washington DC, he asked the MSM, "Who do Americans say that I am?" And they said, "Some say Christian, others say Muslim, and others say American or perhaps Kenyan." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Matt Lauer replied, "You are the One, the one we have been waiting for."

As the 2008 Presidential election results pointed to an Obama victory, NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw said something along the lines of "Well, now we'll get to know all about Barack Obama."

And almost two years into his administration, more and more people are confused about the man - not so much regarding his policies (they suck) or his ideas of reshaping America (they're awful), but rather about the man's faith. Is he or is he not a Christian?

From the Washington Post:

The number of Americans who believe -- wrongly -- that President Obama is a Muslim has increased significantly since his inauguration and now accounts for nearly 20 percent of the nation's population.

Those results, from a new Pew Research Center survey, were drawn from interviews done before the president's comments about the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, and they suggest that there could be serious political danger for the White House as the debate continues.

The president's religion, like his place of birth, has been the subject of Internet-spread rumors and falsehoods since before he began his presidential campaign, and the poll indicates that those rumors have gained currency since Obama took office. The number of people who now correctly identify Obama as a Christian has dropped to 34 percent, down from nearly half when he took office.

White House officials expressed dismay over the poll results. Faith adviser Joshua BuBois blamed "misinformation campaigns" by the president's opponents.

"While the president has been diligent and personally committed to his own Christian faith, there's certainly folks who are intent on spreading falsehoods about the president and his values and beliefs," DuBois said.

DuBois said the president's Christian faith plays an "important part" in his daily life. And he pointed to six speeches on faith that the president has given in which he talked about his beliefs. But Dubois said coverage of Obama's Christianity has been scant compared with news about the economic crisis, legislative battles and other issues.

Among those who say Obama is a Muslim, 60 percent say they learned about his religion from the media, suggesting that their opinions are fueled by misinformation.

But the shifting attitudes about the president's religious beliefs could also be the result of a public growing less enamored of him and increasingly attracted to labels they perceive as negative. In the Pew poll, 41 percent disapprove of Obama's job performance, compared with 26 percent disapproval in its March 2009 poll.

"Misinformation campaigns"? You mean his family picked a church soon after moving to Washington DC in 2009, and no one was told about it? Or the fact he disassociated himself from Reverend Wright early in the campaign? Or maybe it was this interview with George Stephanopoulus in 2007 -

Personally, I don't care what his faith is. Given the fact that the man plays golf nearly every Sunday puts him in the majority camp of so-called Christian men in this country. I've never sensed sincerity when he has mentioned God or Christ or Christianity in any of the speeches I've heard him give, but then again - there are a heck of a lot of insincere Christians in the world, too. So yeah, in some respects, he fits the description.

However, I find it interesting that during the campaign, he was caught complaining about Christians as "bitter clingers". Has he ever called Muslims "bitter clingers"? I don't think so. I also find it interesting that one of NASA's primary goals is Muslim outreach. It'd sure be nice if the Dept. of Education had Christian outreach as one of its goals, instead of Christian smackdown.

And if he is a Muslim - so what? Why should it matter? Isn't the Left all about tolerance and acceptance (unless you are a Christian - or a member of the LCWR. The liberals love those gals). The Left, of all people, shouldn't express any concern whatsoever what faith Obama is, right? Why all the fuss to convince people that Obama is a committed Christian? In fact, that ought to be self-evident.

Regardless of which faith he follows (and there are some who contend that since his father was Muslim, then he was born a Muslim; and if he claims to be Christian, then technically he'd be an apostate.), the fact remains it isn't all that evident what Obama believes. People are becoming more and more confused - not just Republicans and independents either. His supporters are growing more unsure as well.

One thing I do know - if this issue doesn't go away or get settled, the administration will further politicize Obama's Christianity, by making sure he is seen attending weekly services, or referencing God and his faith in more speeches, or carrying a Bible with him. And it will become more pronounced as the 2012 campaign approaches. They read the polls, and will respond accordingly. In the end, it won't mean anything, except to them and their constituents. Because in their minds, displaying one's faith disingenuously is more important than living one's faith sincerely.

Mistake On The Lake

(Those of you from Ohio and the midwest will understand the reference)

A kind reader emailed a link to the following story. Other bloggers have posted on it as well.

From Parishoners, Priest from Closed St. Peter Catholic Church Defy Bishop, Celebrate Mass in New Home (emphases mine)

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Defying the authority of their bishop, parishioners and their priest from the closed St. Peter Catholic Church in downtown Cleveland celebrated Mass Sunday in leased commercial space they transformed into a church independent of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.

The move by the new Community of St. Peter puts members in danger of excommunication because they had been warned by Bishop Richard Lennon, who shuttered St. Peter's in April, not to hold worship services in places without his approval.

Still, about 350 people, joined by their spiritual leader, the Rev. Robert Marrone, gathered for their first Mass and communion in their new home -- a newly renovated, century-old building on Euclid Avenue and East 71st Street.

"This feels real good," said parishioner Bob Kloos of Cleveland Heights. "This is the handiwork of hundreds of people over many, many months."

Group leaders emphasize that they see themselves as traditional Catholics and are challenging the closing of St. Peter's, not the tenets of their faith.

"Here, enlightened by Christ . . . we can renew our dedication to the traditions of our faith which we hold as precious," Marrone said in his sermon. "Today is a day for action, not reaction; imagination, not fear."

He added, "I know it has not been an easy journey for you as it has not been an easy journey for me. But standing here today, I am filled with gratitude, peace and confidence."

At the opening hymn, the standing-room only crowd, joined by a choir and classical musicians, sang "Christ be our light. Shine in your church gathered today. . ."

Following the closing hymn, the crowd burst into an extended applause as the faithful hugged each other and cried tears of joy.

"I feel wonderful at this moment," said parishioner Suzanne Joseph of Shaker Heights. "It's a little scary. We're kind of going into a new way of being within the Catholic church, but I'm very happy we're on this journey."

Joining the journey were a few Catholics from other closed churches. "This is a historical moment," said John Juhasz of the closed St. Emeric. "These people are setting an example for many others to follow. This is truly amazing."

"Setting an example" - yeah, but not a good one, unfortunately. This will only confuse other Catholics who tend to made decisions with their feelings rather than their heads. And that encompasses a lot of folks.

And as it turns out, these folks weren't all that forthright with the bishop regarding their intentions. Read on:

After learning St. Peter's would be one of the casualties, parish leaders organized a non-profit corporation and raised money to lease the commercial space, originally the showroom and mechanics' garage for Baker electric cars.

When the bishop caught wind of a possible schism forming, he questioned Marrone and St. Peter's congregation leaders.

They told Lennon that the non-profit corporation was set up as a means to raise money to continue their social service and education programs after their church closed. The leased commercial space, they said, was for social gatherings to keep the congregation together. They did not tell the bishop they were setting up a church because at the time the community was still exploring the idea and had not made a decision.

Still, the bishop sent letters at the end of March of this year to each member of St. Peter's, suggesting their salvation was in jeopardy if they conducted worship services outside of a sanctioned church.

It sounds as if they didn't tell Bishop Lennon that they were considering establishing a church of their own - because they hadn't reached a decision. I guess if the bishop had asked "What have you decided to do?", that would be a valid answer. Most likely he probably asked "What are your plans?" And the bishop apparently had sniffed out their intentions, evidenced by the letters he had mailed out. So they had a plan moving forward, intimated to the bishop that nope, no plans of a new church being talked about here, no way, no how - and then voila! Church!!

So I can see why the bishop would be upset. There is news that a meeting might be scheduled between him and this 'runaway' parish.

From other accounts I've read online, the situation in Cleveland is contentious and difficult, with 50 parishes either closed or slated to be closed. I don't know enough about the history of Bishop Lennon's tenure, nor of his predecessor Bishop Pilla, so I won't opine on the situation unfolding there. Other people who live there are far more qualified than I - and they are welcome to leave comments here.

But I do know that flagrant disobedience of one's bishop - by establishing their own parish - is not the way to go. It is scandalous, and only serves to further fragment and fracture the Body of Christ. They've confused following Christ with following their emotions. They've put their feelings above their faith, and thus have given new meaning to "mistake on the lake".

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wedding Anniversary

This year is a wedding milestone for Mr and Mrs LarryD - 20 years! Ay carumba! Where has the time gone?

To the lovely and gracious Mrs LarryD - thank you for 20 years of happiness and joy. I am looking forward to spending the next 20 years (well, hopefully more!) with you, strengthening our love and commitment to one another.

I thank God every day for the blessing that you are.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Skin Of Iron

From time to time, insulting comments get spewed out and leak into my combox. It comes with the territory of having a blog, and so it is to be expected.

Now, I do have a Comments Policy listed in the sidebar. It isn't much of a policy - basically, it's be nice polite or be gone - and for the most part (about 99% of the time), people leave reasonable and reasoned comments. For that, I am grateful. I may not agree with all of them, but as long as they're not obscenity-laden, they remain in the combox for perpetuity.

As to the remaining 1%...

Listen up. I'm the ninth of ten kids, the fifth of six boys. We ate sarcasm for breakfast, snark for lunch, dished up gibes and jeers for dinner, and if we were well-behaved, we got bowls of barbs topped with chocolate sauce and a maraschino cherry for dessert. In other words, I'm not intimidated by such antics, and am not averse to scooping up verbal waste matter and flinging it back. You know the old saying...if you can't stand the heat....

For the most part, though, my rejoinders merely deflect the insult in a self-deprecating sort of way, making the insulter look like an abject fool.

For instance, just today, a very brave anonymous commenter wrote: "You come across like an angry 12 year old boy who doesn't get his way with his mommy."

To which I responded: "Anon - really? Cos I'm really aiming for the 17 year old deadbeat dropout who can't hold a job. Guess I have to work harder."

Yeah, I know that trolls are better left starved, and their puerile attempts at derision speak volumes about their stunted mental development, but what the heck. It's how I grew up. Perhaps ignoring such comments, or deleting them, is the "higher road". But not nearly as fun.

So for those who think insults will get me all riled up, or curl up into a ball of quivering flesh and beg for mercy - fuggedaboutit. The result will either be a) a nonchalant response or b) a verbal skewering.

All in the name of charity, of course.

And for the record, all of us siblings get along great, and love each other deeply. In a strange sort of way, the way we treated each other growing up kept us grounded and humble. And none of us have mommy issues. Except for maybe my younger brother...he was such a wuss.