31 October 2007

Report from Halloween's Front Lines, Part 2

Time:  8:30pm

Place:  the homefront

Mission: inspect candy for presence of legendary razor-blade-or-needle-in-candy-bar

Last trick-or-treaters arrive:  my children, disguised as Saints Agnes, Ignatius Loyola, Cecilia, Therese, and their tiny infant leader-- the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pretty cute.  I distract them and try to identify the candy I'll steal later.

All quiet on the homefront.  No eggs on house.  


Have a blessed All Saints' Day.

Report from Halloween's Front Lines

Time:  6:40pm

Place:  The homefront

Mission:  Hand out candy while wife takes brood out trick-or-treating

Secondary Mission:  Prevent egging of house

Report:  While conducting above operation, answered diminutive knock on door.  On doorstep was young girl, approximate age, 8.  Dressed as witch.  Not unusual for Halloween.  But, just as I was reaching into the candy bowl, I observed that the subject witch, possibly in an attempt at realism, and hopefully through ignorance, was wearing a pentagram medallion.  A pentagram medallion!!

Handed out candy while silently reciting St. Michael prayer.  Closed door and wondered whether other neighbors are freaked out in the opposite way by my children dressed up as Saints.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You-- Atheism for Children

The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman, will be promoted this Christmas season, of all times, as a wonderful, wholesome children's movie. But unless teaching your children that religion is a fraud, and that killing God (as-if) is OK, then it may not be so wholesome.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights wants to warn parents about this movie:


Catholic League president Bill Donohue discussed the league’s reaction to the upcoming movie, “The Golden Compass”:

“New Line Cinema and Scholastic Entertainment have paired to produce ‘The Golden Compass,’ a children’s fantasy that is based on the first book of a trilogy by militant English atheist Philip Pullman. The trilogy, His Dark Materials, was written to promote atheism and denigrate Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism. The target audience is children and adolescents. Each book becomes progressively more aggressive in its denigration of Christianity and promotion of atheism: The Subtle Knife is more provocative than The Golden Compass and The Amber Spyglass is the most in-your-face assault on Christian sensibilities of the three volumes.

“Atheism for kids. That is what Philip Pullman sells. It is his hope that ‘The Golden Compass,’ which stars Nicole Kidman and opens December 7, will entice parents to buy his trilogy as a Christmas gift. It is our hope that the film fails to meet box office expectations and that his books attract few buyers. We are doing much more than hoping—we are conducting a nationwide two-month protest of Pullman’s work and the film. To that end, we have prepared a booklet, ‘The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked,’ that tears the mask off the movie.

“It is not our position that the movie will strike Christian parents as troubling. Then why the protest? Even though the film is based on the least offensive of the three books, and even though it is clear that the producers are watering down the most despicable elements—so as to make money and not anger Christians—the fact remains that the movie is bait for the books. To be specific, if unsuspecting Christian parents take their children to see the movie, they may very well find it engaging and then buy Pullman’s books for Christmas. That’s the problem.

“We are fighting a deceitful stealth campaign on the part of the film’s producers. Our goal is to educate Christians so that they know exactly what the film’s pernicious agenda really is.”

Click here for the Snopes entry. Apparently, in the last book of the trilogy, a boy and a girl, representing Adam and Eve, kill God and then are free to do exactly as they please. Nice.

29 October 2007

Worlds Collide

OK, cast your mind back to everyone's favorite show, Seinfeld. Scene: Jerry's apartment, with a little editing--

GEORGE: Ah you have no idea of the magnitude of this thing. If she is allowed to infiltrate this world, then George Costanza as you know him, Ceases to Exist!

You see, right now, I have High School George, but there is also Homeschool George. That's the George you know, the George you go to Church with -- TLM George, Co-op George, Blogger George, Family George.

JERRY: I, I love that George.

GEORGE: Me Too! And he's Dying Jerry! If High School George walks through this door, he will Kill Homeschool George! A George, divided against itself, Cannot Stand!

Recent events have caused me to think about this episode, where George tries desperately to salvage his friends-only world from being invaded by his fiancee. In my case, though, the context is homeschooling.

My family homeschools, and unless you have not been paying any attention at all while reading this blog, you know we also attend the Traditional Latin Mass. We are now in our fourth year of homeschooling. We had sent my oldest daughter to parochial school through fourth grade, and my son through first grade. Then we couldn't take it anymore. My traditionalist conversion, so to speak, occurred more recently, about 2 1/2 years ago.

Our little history is not so unique, given the well-documented rise in the popularity of both homeschooling and the Traditional Mass. But it does create the sometimes comical situation of having two separate groups of friends and acquaintances: the novus ordo, parochial/private school crowd, and the traditionalist (or very conservative) Catholic homeschooling crowd.

Leaving the old group is at first sad, of course, as you realize the costs involved in placing the Catholic faith in the position it deserves in your life-- i.e., first place by a mile. A necessary corollary to this reality is the new found commitment you have to imparting the real Catholic faith to your children, and defending their faith from attack by well- and not-so-well- meaning teachers, pastors and administrators.

However, once you experience the manifold blessings of embracing a fully Catholic lifestyle, the sadness subsides and the comedy begins.

Your old friends and your non-traditionalist family both think that you are absolutely insane. They suddenly take more interest in your doings than they ever have before. They lecture, they cajole, they arrange interventions, etc. Some of them would like to accuse you of belonging to a cult, but they usually realize that the Catholic Church is their religion, too, or at least the one they put on census forms.

As Catholic homeschoolers, you know that they need your prayers, and that you have plenty of your own faults that require God's mercy, so you forgive them the many rudenesses they perpetrate against you. You may know the litany already, but here it is for the uninitiated: First, they assume that your homeschooled child will be a pasty, red-eyed, in-bred cracker who will be a complete mind-numbed automaton. We are over sheltering them and rendering them unable to cope with the "real world". As soon as they inevitably escape our clutches and are forced to reenter the "real world", they immediately will go berserk and become drug addicted pimps and prostitutes with illegitimate children in at least seven states. How do your friends and family know this? Because they had a friend whose cousin was homeschooled and it happened to them.

They elevate the qualifications of the teachers your child is leaving behind into Aristotelian status. Not that there is anything less than noble about the teaching vocation, but these are the same teachers about whom they complain constantly for being so unfair and arbitrary with their own little school-aged geniuses Brittany and Chase.

They make OH-so-subtle attacks on your intellectual competence, like, "You are going to have them tested, though, right? You mean it's not required by the state? Are you sure? How will you know if they are keeping up with kids in school?"

But, most of all, and constantly, the single biggest damage you are doing to your child is to deprive them of ... [duhnh, duhnh, DUHNH] SOCIALIZATION! Yes, good reader, Socialization is the be-all and end-all of traditional education. It is the absence of Socialization that makes your children into the awkward losers they are destined to become as homeschool graduates. Letting little broken-home Larry serve as the primary values educator of my second grader is to be preferred to keeping that job in-house, you see.

Socialization, in my opinion, is just another way of saying that my child will be turned into a Socialist.

As for mixing with the outside world, I guess soccer, football, karate, boys club, baseball/softball, dance, girls club, basketball, charitable efforts and friendships with their siblings and other homeschool friends isn't "real world" enough.

In desperation, they try to turn your children into the "Solvers of the World's Problems: Children's Division". After they fail to refute your case that your children would be better off at home, they try to make you feel guilty for not putting them in school to be a positive influence on their classmates. After all, little Dymphna is such a good girl. She should be there to be a good example to the others.

After this argument fails, they tend to throw up their hands and chalk you up as a lunatic. They don't have the time to try to save you anymore, as they have to run to pick up Mackenzie from detention.

And I have to admit (and probably should confess) that I really enjoy telling them all about homeschooling, or the Traditional Mass, just to irritate them into making some of these comments. I really don't mind being thought of as insane, and it is pretty funny to disagree in small doses.

Where was I? Oh yes, the new friends. As a whole, these are the best people I have ever met, and most of them ooze goodness from every pore, putting me to shame. We have grown quite close to so many wonderful Catholic homeschooling families. The fact that we have common goals, similar histories and made similar sacrifices for the faith and our families allows us to become close in a surprisingly short period of time.

Just like the old friends, there are certain actions, though, that are beyond the pale. Recently, I was discussing the decision my wife and I are making about where to educate our oldest for high school. We intend to homeschool, but we left the door open a crack for a private Catholic high school that shall remain nameless. You see, someone told me that if I didn't send my daughter to high school that she would be a pasty, in-bred cracker who would become a drug-dealing prostitute in college (or, worse yet, a protestant). That, and the fact that the school had a nifty, color glossy brochure, really intimidated me.

So, we casually mentioned to our friends that we were going to have our daughter fill out an application for this high school, and if eyes could pop out of a person's head through sheer horror, this would have done it. They were eager to give a quick and persuasive list of reasons not to send her to high school. Of course, I can't disagree with the reaction or the reasons. In fact, I share both myself! The high school option was really just to provide a safety net if we were for some reason to change our mind or be unable to homeschool. And, unlike with the old group, I give great credence to their advice.

Their reaction did help us to solidify our plan to homeschool, though. After all, I can only handle being an outcast of one group at a time.

I decided to keep my worlds from colliding.

28 October 2007

No Surprise: Media Surprised by Young People's Interest in Traditional Latin Mass

On this feast of Christ the King, the Washington Times has this story, blowing the lid off of the worst-kept secret around: the Traditional Mass attracts the young. My comments in green.

Mass appeal to Latin tradition

October 28, 2007 By Kristi Moore -

Roman Catholic churches nationwide are rushing to accommodate a surge in demand for the traditional Latin Mass, which is drawing a surprising new crowd: young people. It may be a surprise, but it isn't a "new" crowd. The indult and other traditional Masses before Summorum Pontificum were filled with young families with lots of children.

Since July, when a decree from Pope Benedict XVI lifted decades-old restrictions on celebrating the Tridentine Mass, seven churches in the Washington metropolitan area have added the liturgy to their weekly Sunday schedules. Good early growth.

"I love the Latin Mass," said Audrey Kunkel, 20, of Cincinnati. "It"s amazing to think that I"m attending the same Mass that has formed saints throughout the centuries." When I first started going, one of my many initial thoughts was that I could see how so many of the martyrs died for this Mass, this faith. I couldn't see Kateri Tekakwitha dying for a guitar Mass, somehow.

In contrast to the New Order Mass, which has been in use since the Second Vatican Council in 1969 and is typically celebrated in vernacular languages such as English, the Tridentine Mass is "contemplative, mysterious, sacred, transcendent, and [younger people are] drawn to it," said the Rev. Franklyn McAfee, pastor of St. John the Beloved in McLean. "Gregorian chant is the opposite of rap, and I believe this is a refreshing change for them."

Susan Gibbs, the director of communications from the Archdiocese of Washington, said the attraction demonstrated by the young adults is "very interesting." I bet.

Besides the liturgy"s rich historical content and spiritual significance, the younger generations show an interest in the old becoming new again, said Louis Tofari of the Society of St. Pius X, an order of clergy that opposed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

"People who never grew up with the traditional Mass are finding it on their own and falling in love with it." And what's not to love?

The Tridentine Mass helps people in their 20s and 30s who have grown up in a culture that lacks stability and orthodoxy see something larger than themselves: the glory of God, said Geoffrey Coleman of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter"s Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary in Denton, Neb.

The Tridentine Mass "detaches me from the world and lifts my mind, heart and soul to heavenly things," said Michael Malain, 21, of Houston.

Kirk Rich, 21, of Oberlin, Ohio, remembers the first time he attended a Tridentine Mass and recalls thinking that a new religion had been invented. Perhaps. But not the one represented by the traditional Mass.

"That"s certainly what it seems like when comparing the two forms of the Mass," Mr. Rich said. It is what it seems like, and only our faith in Christ and His Church prevents one from drawing the resulting conclusions.

The biggest difference between the two forms is that the Tridentine Mass is always celebrated in Latin, except for the homily. The priest also leads the parishioners facing east, the traditional direction of prayer. The New Order Mass can be celebrated in Latin, but usually is not. There are also differences in some of the prayers, hymns and vestments. The dramatic understatement of this last sentence is justified only by lack of column space.

As a result, the overall feel of the Tridentine Mass is more solemn and serious. Because the worship of God is serious business.

"The coffee social is after the traditional Latin Mass, not in the middle of it," said Kenneth Wolfe, 34, of Alexandria. "No one can say, with a straight face, that the post-Vatican II liturgy and sacraments are more beautiful than the ones used for hundreds and hundreds of years." Zing!

Like the churchgoers now demanding the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, the priests learning the rite are usually younger as well.

The Society of St. Pius X trains priests in the liturgy of the Tridentine Mass and has received as many as 25 requests a week for instruction since July.

"The phone was ringing nonstop, and I was getting e-mail after e-mail,' Mr. Tofari said. "The response was absolutely incredible; most of the people who call are below the age of 30."

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has collaborated with Una Voce America to host workshops for clergy in Denton, Neb. Una Voce America, which promotes the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, usually teaches the rite to 12 students a session. But in September, it increased that number to 22 to meet the increased demand for training.

And let's not forget that the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest offers ongoing training in the celebration of the Traditional Mass and Sacraments. Here in St. Louis, the Archbishop has named the Institute's Vice Provincial for the U.S. as Episcopal Delegate for the implementation of the MP. With the Institute's zeal and dedication to the proper and beautiful celebration of the liturgy, I can't imagine better training for the priests and seminarians of the Archdiocese.

Many priests think the changes approved by the pope will do more than bring young people into the church. They think the celebration of the Tridentine Mass will increase the faith of many followers.

The Rev. Paul Scalia, 37, (son of Justice Antonin Scalia) has been celebrating the Tridentine Mass at St. Rita Church in Alexandria. He said the increase in young attendance is evidence that the Mass is something living and life-giving.

"The beauty is tremendous, as it draws us to God, who is beauty Himself," Father Scalia said.

26 October 2007

Absolutely My Favorite "News" Story of All Time

Well, it's good, anyway. From the London Daily Mail:

Human race will 'split into two different species'
By NIALL FIRTH - 26th October 2007

The human race will one day split into two separate species, an attractive, intelligent ruling elite and an underclass of dim-witted, ugly goblin-like creatures, according to a top scientist.
100,000 years into the future, sexual selection could mean that two distinct breeds of human will have developed.

The alarming prediction comes from evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry from the London School of Economics, who says that the human race will have reached its physical peak by the year 3000.

These humans will be between 6ft and 7ft tall and they will live up to 120 years.
"Physical features will be driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility that men and women have evolved to look for in potential mates," says the report, which suggests that advances in cosmetic surgery and other body modifying techniques will effectively homogenise our appearance.

Men will have symmetrical facial features, deeper voices and [censored for your enjoyment!], according to Curry in a report commissioned for men's satellite TV channel Bravo.

Women will all have glossy hair, smooth hairless skin, large eyes and [again, censored!], according to Curry.

Racial differences will be a thing of the past as interbreeding produces a single coffee-coloured skin tone.

The future for our descendants isn't all long life, perfect bodies and chiseled features, however.

While humans will reach their peak in 1000 years' time, 10,000 years later our reliance on technology will have begun to dramatically change our appearance.

Medicine will weaken our immune system and we will begin to appear more child-like.
Dr Curry said: "The report suggests that the future of man will be a story of the good, the bad and the ugly.

H G Wells' Science Fiction novel The Time Machine (which was later adapted into two films - this picture is from the 2002 version) the human race has evolved into two species, the highly intelligent and wealthy Eloi...
...and the frightening, animalistic Morlock (as seen in the 1960 film version of the classic book)

"While science and technology have the potential to create an ideal habitat for humanity over the next millennium, there is the possibility of a monumental genetic hangover over the subsequent millennia due to an over-reliance on technology reducing our natural capacity to resist disease, or our evolved ability to get along with each other.

"After that, things could get ugly, with the possible emergence of genetic 'haves' and 'have-nots'."

Dr Curry's theory may strike a chord with readers who have read H G Wells' classic novel The Time Machine, in particular his descriptions of the Eloi and the Morlock races.

In the 1895 book, the human race has evolved into two distinct species, the highly intelligent and wealthy Eloi and the frightening, animalistic Morlock who are destined to work underground to keep the Eloi happy.
The mind races to absorb the import of this news! Do we even now have hints of these divergent species?
The Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form?

Biffi Memoirs Boffo

You may remember a post I put up earlier this year about Cardinal Biffi's remarks at the Papal Lenten Retreat. Cardinal Biffi is one of those wonderful prelates who hold and preach the Gospel truth, the likes of whom are sorely lacking these days.

Chiesa has excerpts from Cardinal Biffi's recently released memoirs here. What I found most interesting were remarks he made to the College of Cardinals on April 15, 2007, immediately before proceeding into the conclave that has produced our beloved Holy Father Benedict. The future Pope was in the audience. Here they are below, with my emphasis in green:

"1. After hearing all of the statements - correct, opportune, impassioned - that have been made here [i.e., other cardinals' remarks], I would like to express to the future pope (who is listening to me now) my complete solidarity, concord, understanding, and even a bit of my fraternal compassion. But I would also like to suggest to him that he not be too worried about what he has heard here, and that he not be too frightened. The Lord Jesus will not ask him to resolve all the world's problems. He will ask him to love him with extraordinary love: 'Do you love me more than these?' (cf. John 21:15). A number of years ago, I came across a phrase in the 'Mafalda' comic strip from Argentina that has often come back into my mind in these days: 'I've got it,' said that feisty and perceptive little girl, 'the world is full of problemologists, but short on solutionologists'.

"2. I would like to tell the future pope to pay attention to all problems. But first and most of all, he should take into account the state of confusion, disorientation, and aimlessness that afflicts the people of God in these years, and above all the 'little ones'.

"3. A few days ago, I saw on television an elderly, devout religious sister who responded to the interviewer this way: 'This pope, who has died, was great above all because he taught us that all religions are equal'. I don't know whether John Paul II would have been very pleased by this sort of elegy.

"4. Finally, I would like to point out to the new pope the incredible phenomenon of 'Dominus Iesus': a document explicitly endorsed and publicly approved by John Paul II; a document for which I am pleased to express my vibrant gratitude to Cardinal Ratzinger. That Jesus is the only necessary Savior of all is a truth that for over twenty centuries - beginning with Peter's discourse after Pentecost - it was never felt necessary to restate. This truth is, so to speak, the minimum threshold of the faith; it is the primordial certitude, it is among believers the simple and most essential fact. In two thousand years this has never been brought into doubt, not even during the crisis of Arianism, and not even during the upheaval of the Protestant Reformation. The fact of needing to issue a reminder of this in our time tells us the extent of the gravity of the current situation. And yet this document, which recalls the most basic, most simple, most essential certitude, has been called into question. It has been contested at all levels: at all levels of pastoral action, of theological instruction, of the hierarchy.

"5. A good Catholic told me about asking his pastor to let him make a presentation of 'Dominus Iesus' to the parish community. The pastor (an otherwise excellent and well-intentioned priest) replied to him: 'Let it go. That's a document that divides.' What a discovery! Jesus himself said: 'I have come to bring division' (Luke 12:51). But too many of Jesus' words are today censured among Christians; or at least among the most vocal of them."

25 October 2007

Requiescat in Pace

I just learned this news, and wanted to pass it along. Archbishop Burke's brother has passed away:

Burke, John Thomas: John Burke passed away unexpectedly Friday, October 19, 2007, at his residence. Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday, October 26, 2007, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 222 E. Fremont St., with The Most Reverend Raymond Burke, Rev. Kevin Louis and Rev. Robert Karuhn officiating. The visitation will be held Friday from 10 a.m. until the time of service in the Sacred Heart Room. Memorials may directed to Sacred Heart Parish.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul rest in peace. Amen. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Upon St. Crispin's Day

Today is the feast of Sts. Crispin and Crispinian, also known as Crispinus and Crispianus. These brothers are the patron saints of cobblers. But, today they are best known as having their feast day coincide with the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

This link takes you to an audio mp3 of the famous speech in Shakespeare's Henry V (We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...) delivered by the incomparable Kenneth Branagh. Crank it up!

24 October 2007

Ha! This Blog is Being "Novus Ordo Watch"ed

I thought I hit the big time by being banned by the Spirit of Vatican 2 blog. Heh, that's bush league.

What is really exciting news is that the fine folks at Novus Ordo Watch have seen fit to accuse your blogmaster of cowardice and of posting "novus ordo comments". More on the particulars below, but first-- what is Novus Ordo Watch?

Novus Ordo Watch is a site run by the sedevacantist crowd (you know, those who think that every Pope since Pius XII or, for their more liberal adherents, John XXIII, has been an anti-Pope, and that the chair of Peter is thus vacant) that purports to keep tabs on the Novus Ordo and lists descriptions and pictures of some of the worst of its abuses. Some of the pictures are quite alarming, or funny, or disgusting, as the subject matter dictates. I have seen their stuff before. Some of it is useful, but they aren't always sticklers for facts and they don't hesitate to jump to conclusions, warranted or unwarranted.

So, how did this blog get caught up in the "watch"? Well, as you remember, I previously covered the execrable video of the outrageous dance number at St. Alphonsus Church. And I certainly didn't highlight this stuff to approve it. In the (novus ordo, heh) comments box I had an exchange with a reader about whether and to what extent the Archbishop had control over the activities of this parish, because it was run by the Redemptorists.

Fast forward to the story at hand-- in its own inimitable coverage of the lightning strike at St. Alphonsus, Novus Ordo Watch does not scruple to attack Archbishop Burke. To use their words, "the supposedly conservative John Paul II appointee "Archbishop" Burke was allowing pagan syncretism to flourish at St. Alphonsus..."

Now, for those of you new to sede-speak, let me translate:

--"supposedly conservative"= no matter what good Abp. Burke does, or how much he promotes traditional Catholicism, he still celebrates the novus ordo Mass and is thus suspect;

--"John Paul II appointee"= appointed by not-Pope JP2;

--"'Archbishop'" (in quotes)= because Burke was not consecrated a Bishop in the traditional rite, he was not validly ordained a Bishop at all and thus cannot be a real Archbishop;

--"allowing"= it's all his fault; and, finally,

--pagan syncretism= a belief that all religions are essentially the same, or at least that one is as good as another.

Got it? Well, we need to move on, so if you need to, just take a stiff drink and try to keep up.

One of the links on the Novus Ordo Watch story was to my previous post on the liturgical dance at St. Alphonsus. Here is what it said concerning this blog, verbatim [WARNING TO ENGLISH MAJORS, READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL]:

Novus Ordo comments on the Novus Ordo comments on the "praise dance" video (some unwittingly humorous remarks defend Burke as having his hands tied because it's a Redemptorist church, as if a bishop can't demand that the order clean up its act or leave)Entertainment Tonight goes up in flames (in contrast to the above remarks, the blogmaster at Sheep in the Midst of Wolves has his head on pretty straight and reads "Rock" Church the riot act (see entries for September 28th and also the 27th).

So, you see, I am a novus ordo, unwittingly humorous (my wife's opinion finally vindicated) defender of Archbishop Burke.

Me? Novus Ordo?

Dear Novus Ordo Watch: Thank you for lumping me with Archbishop Burke. I'm sure he is not too comfortable with the association, but I am pleased as punch.

Quo Vadis, Dumbledore?

Rae, this one is for you. Another article on the Dumbledore issue, or faux issue, or whatever Ms. Rowling intends from her little bombshell.

Just to give the reader my own background-- I know there are two camps in Catholic circles on the Potter books. One sees them as basically good books, springing from the fantasy type magic stories such as the Narnia Chronicles or Lord of the Rings, and which tell a basic good v. evil story. One prominent Catholic proponent of this camp is Mark Shea.

The other sees them as dangerous because of their subject matter (sorcery and the occult), which they see as qualitatively different from the type of fantasy magic portrayed in the books mentioned above. That the "good" guys and "bad" guys in Harry Potter are frankly quite arbitrarily chosen, and that both sides use the same tactics. In other words, apart from the subject matter there is a decidedly utilitarian ethic throughout. One prominent Catholic proponent of this camp is Michael O'Brien (just google "Harry Potter and Michael O'Brien", or read "Landscape with Dragons"). And, apparently, Pope Benedict XVI.

For myself, count me as one of the latter camp, though until about 4 years ago I would have been in the former. I started reading the books because I had children and wanted to make sure they were OK; I decided fairly quickly they aren't for young children, and the latter half of the series isn't for non-adults of any age. I kept reading because I enjoyed them, though the darkening of the tone and the increasing level of violence troubled me. Finally, I read the last two after I had come to think them as unsuitable books in order to be able to discuss them with other Catholic parents and partly, of course, out of curiosity to see how they ended. I tell you this only to give you my "bias".

With that out of the way, here is another article on the subject. From Human Events Online:

Dumbledoring Down the Culture
by Robert H. Knight
Posted 10/24/2007 ET

Just when you thought it was safe to immerse kids in books about witchcraft, J.K. Rowling has to succumb to political correctness and “out” Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

This is well after the fact, of course. Her seven Harry Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies and made her a billionaire. So why make Dumbledore, a beloved authority figure to millions of kids, out to be homosexual?

No one can plumb Rowling’s motives except God Almighty. Some suggest that her announcement last Friday at Carnegie Hall is merely a promotional ploy. The news may well lead to another run on the book series, with sexually confused kids and the Village People desperately seeking clues to Dumbledore’s closeted adventures.

The media are acting in concert, barely able to disguise their cheerleading. A Culture and Media Institute review of 125 stories on Nexis from Friday through Tuesday turned up only one source – an online Scottish edition of The Express – that included a single critic of Rowling’s decision. The rest either took a neutral line or liberally quoted activists who hail the fact that Dumbledore’s likeability and moral authority will help sell acceptance of homosexuality.

TIME magazine writer John Cloud, an activist who once wrote a piece for an alternative newspaper about his own towel-clad adventures seeking anonymous sex at a gay bathhouse, complained that Rowling didn’t out Dumbledore earlier, when the books were just taking off. But that would have cost her sales, he acknowledged.

Parents, as a rule, are not keen on authors who deliberately confuse kids about homosexuality. That’s why And Tango Makes Three, a Valentine to gay parenting aimed at elementary school kids, was the “most challenged book” in 2006, according to the American Library Association.

The Dumbledore media hype smacks of the Beatles’ “I buried Paul” hoax that sold millions of albums back in 1970, with fans playing the records backwards and spinning theories as to why Paul looked dead on the cover of Abbey Road. It’s not like the Beatles needed the money. This was way before Paul, a widower, got taken on the rebound by his next (now former) wife. Perhaps the Beatles handlers found that they could not live with mere millions and needed tens of millions. We have it on Good Authority that “the eyes of man are never satisfied” (Proverbs 27:20).

As to Rowling, my guess is that she made her shocking revelation in order to pander to the cultural elites who regard celebration of homosexuality as a mark of sophistication. She’s already rich. Perhaps now she wants to be loved by the media and Hollywood. It’s the ultimate liberal litmus test, and it drives a wedge between traditional religious believers and the hip, kaleidoscopic sexual deviancy that is engulfing us from every which way.

Rowling herself, who said recently that Christian themes were reflected in her books, and especially the last one, told an interviewer that she was disdainful of Christians who take a cautionary approach to her work: “I go to church myself. I don't take any responsibility for the lunatic fringes of my own religion.”

The fringe folk, heretofore concerned over the effect of positive portrayals of magic, witches and warlocks on impressionable young minds, especially those kids who lack a parental filter, now have expanded to those who think that homosexuality is not something good for kids or other living things.

If Hollywood takes a cue and includes the “gay” Dumbledore theme in the next Potter movies, the fringe may get to be quite crowded, and the theaters perhaps not so crowded as before.

Poke in the Eye to Believers

This phrase is used to describe the recent comments of His Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, rebutting the stance of Archbishop Burke that canon law compels the refusal of communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Cardinal McCarrick’s comments on Communion for Pro-Abort Catholics called “poke in the eye to believers"
US Pro-Life Leader Judie Brown says cowardice is "Catholicism's Achilles heel"
Commentary by Judie Brown, President of American Life League October 19, 2007

Recent remarks by retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick are a reminder of the tragic situation that exists within the Catholic Church these days. It is as though we were living in a twilight zone where there is no right or wrong, no moral absolutes of any kind, no guiding principles that apply in every situation regardless of the persons involved.

In a recent statement, Cardinal McCarrick took aim at Archbishop Raymond Burke’s treatise on why every person who distributes Holy Communion must be prepared to deny the sacrament to any public figure that is Catholic and is also pro-abortion. He said of Archbishop Burke, “I very much respect his position. It’s not mine.”

What exactly does that mean? It occurs to me that it means that the cardinal does not take Church law seriously, but rather perceives a myriad of choices with regard to how a particular canon in church law should be implemented. I find that astounding, but also perfectly understandable in today’s relativistic atmosphere.

The canon law in question is not confusing, but states quite clearly that those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” This particular canon is not any more debatable than one of the Ten Commandments or any of the other canon laws. In fact, the law in question is designed to accomplish two things: protect Christ from sacrilege and provide the errant Catholic with an example of how far he has strayed from Church teaching in the hope that the soul will repent and come back into the fold.

Cardinal McCarrick did go on to say that “pro-choice Catholic politicians” need to be persuaded that their position is wrong rather than denying them the body and blood of Christ. The precise reason why this thinking is flawed is perhaps best stated by Pope Benedict XVI, who while airborne in flight to Mexico a few months ago, told a group of reporters that the Mexican bishops’ threat of excommunication for Catholic politicians who voted in favor of the new abortion law “was not something arbitrary, but part of Church law. It’s based simply on the principle that the killing of an innocent human child is incompatible with going to communion with the body of Christ.”

The Holy Father’s words rang around the world, as one Catholic writer opined, and even moved evangelicals like Dr. James Dobson and Frank Pastore to hail his courageous statement. So why isn’t every single bishop, priest, deacon and Eucharistic minister in the Catholic Church equally motivated and inspired by this pope?

I fear the answer to this question is that there is too much political posturing and not enough commitment to saving souls in far too many places within the Catholic Church these days. There was once a pope who, being quite similar in many ways to our current pope, gave stern warnings to the bishops of his day. His name was Gregory. He lived in the late sixth century and he once told his priests in a homily:

There is something about the life of the shepherd, dearest brothers, which discourages me greatly. But lest what I claim should seem unjust to anyone, I accuse myself of the very same thing, although I fall into it unwillingly – compelled by the urgency of these barbarous times. I speak of our absorption in external affairs; we accept the duties of office, but by our actions we show that we are attentive to other things. We abandon the ministry of preaching and, in my opinion, are called bishops to our detriment, for we retain the honorable office but fail to practice the virtues proper to it. Those who have been entrusted to us abandon God, and we are silent. They fall into sin, and we do not extend a hand of rebuke.

Such courageous words came – and indeed should come again – at a time when the Catholic Church’s bishops and priests truly need to do much more to consistently preach the truth, ignore the political or media consequences, and persist in saving the souls entrusted to them by God. After all, every single priest, bishop, cardinal and the pope himself have the wherewithal to do so, but apparently in far too many cases not the desire. And it is this that I believe is causing most of the difficulties we are seeing today.

A bishop is, at the very foundation of his calling, a physician of souls. He is the one to whom we should be able to look for moral certitude, passionate teaching and unequivocal guidance in those areas of our lives that often appear to be so muddled that we cannot see our way past the problem. Abortion has become such a condition for far too many in our midst. The majority of Catholics actually have no problem with abortion, and when they see pro-abortion public figures that are also Catholic getting away with scandalous behavior such as receiving Christ in Holy Communion, their inability to see the wrongness of the act of abortion becomes exacerbated.

Who is to blame for this? Is the physician of souls no longer making house calls? Unfortunately I think that is the case.

I mean no disrespect to Cardinal McCarrick, or to any of his peers who are frequently disinterested in enforcing Canon 915, but I have to say that they have created a most dreadful situation that has left far too many of us in a state of frustration, anxiety and sorrow. For example, when the news about Cardinal McCarrick’s most recent comments began to impact on others, one distressed friend of mine described the situation as “a poke in the eye to believers; a statement full of disdain and insouciance.” And perhaps that is the most deplorable aspect of this current predicament.

From a long line of similar disturbing remarks uttered from the mouths of Catholic bishops, it is becoming increasingly clear that every bright line defining who a Catholic is and what a Catholic believes is being blurred beyond recognition. Whether it is a McCarrick “style” or a Connecticut “explanation” or a San Francisco “apology,” the bottom line in all of this is the same: no guts. The clarity of what it means to be a Catholic is being distorted, dismantled and--ultimately, if we are not careful--destroyed. And that is the greatest tragedy of all: witnessing the decay from within the Church without the ability to fix it.

The Achilles heel is cowardice, my friends. It boils down to an unwillingness to battle the forces of evil, whether it is by confronting the media, the wayward politician or the persons who would dare to bring disdain into the house of God. If we cannot observe courage in our shepherds, what are we to think? If I had my way, I would focus attention on the bishops who have for so long been so steadfast in their leadership, their strong backbone and their holiness, and I would say to the rest of them,

Please seek in fervent prayer and with all humility the gifts you need from God to develop the ability to never, ever step away from your responsibilities as bishops of the Catholic Church. For the sake of the preservation of the holy, Catholic Church you claim to serve, and all those souls the Lord has entrusted to your care, please show us the way to Christ and our eternal home.
Have you read Pascendi Dominici Gregis yet? You should, and then reflect again on this whole issue.

From the Heart of Previously Catholic Europe

Comes this story:

Ad showing
newborn causes stir in Italy

An ad campaign to counter discrimination against gays has stirred up passions in Italy, using a poster that shows a newborn with the word "homosexual" written on his wristband.

"Sexual orientation is not a choice," reads the slogan on the poster that was going up all across the central-northern Tuscany region and was published in national newspapers Wednesday.

"Using newborns to make people believe that homosexual impulses are an innate characteristic is dishonest and a disgrace," said Christian Democratic lawmaker Luca Volonte.

Gay philosopher Gianni Vattimo said the ad was in "bad taste" and that the slogan was "only partly true."

Italy's main gay rights association ArciGay, for its part, praised the initiative, saying homosexuality is an "unchangeable fact that should be respected."

Gay philosopher? Is this an official position like Poet Laureate? Please fasten your seatbelts as we make our descent into the pit...

There's a New List, and You Are on It

Well, you soon will be, at least...

From USA Today:

Terror watch list swells to more than 755,000

By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The government's terrorist watch list has swelled to more than 755,000 names, according to a new government report that has raised worries about the list's effectiveness.

The size of the list, typically used to check people entering the country through land border crossings, airports and sea ports, has been growing by 200,000 names a year since 2004. Some lawmakers, security experts and civil rights advocates warn that it will become useless if it includes too many people.

"It undermines the authority of the list," says Lisa Graves of the Center for National Security Studies. "There's just no rational, reasonable estimate that there's anywhere close to that many suspected terrorists."

The exact number of people on the list, compiled after 9/11 to help government agents keep terrorists out of the country, is unclear, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Some people may be on the list more than once because they are listed under multiple spellings.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., who plans a hearing on the report today, says "serious hurdles remain if (the list) is to be as effective as we need it to be. Some of the concerns stem from its rapid growth, which could call into question the quality of the list itself."

About 53,000 people on the list were questioned since 2004, according to the GAO, which says the Homeland Security Department doesn't keep records on how many were denied entry or allowed into the country after questioning. Most were apparently released and allowed to enter, the GAO says.

Leonard Boyle, director of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, which maintains the list, says in testimony to be given today that 269 foreigners were denied entry in fiscal 2006.

The GAO report also says:

•The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could not specify how many people on its no-fly list, which is a small subset of the watch list, might have slipped through screening and been allowed on domestic flights.

TSA data show "a number of individuals" on the no-fly list passed undetected through screening and boarded international flights bound for the United States. Several planes have been diverted once officials realized that people named on the watch lists were on board.

•Homeland Security has not done enough to use the list more broadly in the private sector, where workers applying for jobs in sensitive places such as chemical factories could do harm.
Boyle also urges that the list be used by for screening at businesses where workers could "carry out attacks on our critical infrastructure that could harm large numbers of persons or cause immense economic damage."

But the sheer size of the watch list raised the most alarms.

"They are quickly galloping towards the million mark — a mark of real distinction because the list is already cumbersome and is approaching absolutely useless," said Tim Sparapani of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says "creating and maintaining a comprehensive terrorist watch list is an enormous endeavor fraught with technical and tactical challenges."

The report, she says, "underscores the need to make the watch lists more accurate, to improve screening procedures at airports and the ports of entry, and to provide individuals with the ability to seek redress if they believe they have been wrongfully targeted."

22 October 2007


It seems we have lost two worthy blogs, Traditional Catholic Mom and retrocatholic. Though TCM has been around longer than rc, both blogs were enjoyable and worthwhile reads and had unique insights. They will be missed.
Here's hoping they return.

21 October 2007

For Those on the Fence About Harry Potter

There is no surer way to generate blog arguments than to mention Harry Potter. And now, after the series should have ridden off into the sunset of irrelevance, we learn this tidbit:

Rowling Lets Dumbledore Out of the Closet
Some Angered as Rowling Reveals Potter Mentor Was Into Wizards, Not Witches

Oct. 20, 2007 —

Well, it's official. Albus Dumbledore, a hero of the phenomenally popular Harry Potter series and headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts, is gay.

That's right, Harry's mentor and father-figure would prefer a nice wizard to a hot witch any day.

In a surprising new Potter twist, author J.K. Rowling outed Dumbledore at New York's Carnegie Hall in front of 2,000 Potter fans during a question and answer session Friday night.

After reading an excerpt from the seventh installment of her series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," one young fan asked if Dumbledore had ever loved anyone.

"Dumbledore is gay, actually," replied Rowling.

She was initially met with a surprised silence but ultimately the audience erupted in cheers for several minutes prompting Rowling to add, "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy."

Rowling went on to explain that Dumbledore fell for Gellert Grindelwald, his childhood friend with similarly brilliant wizarding skills, who eventually went over to the dark side and became the predecessor to the infamous villain Voldemort. That love, explained Rowling, was Dumbledore's "great tragedy."

Rowling explained that the issue of Dumbledore's sexuality came up in the making of one of the Harry Potter films.

"In fact, recently I was in a script read-through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script, saying, 'I knew a girl once, whose hair--'"

The crowd laughed.

"I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter -- 'Dumbledore's gay!'" she said.

Die-hard Potter muggles quickly reacted to the news online. The Harry Potter fan site TheLeakyCauldron.org had no less than 1,048 comments posted on the story as of early Saturday.

Many fans were thrilled with the announcement.

"This is a victory for homosexuality the world over," one wrote. "Dumbledore is iconic, and I can't wait for all those little children to hear about this. I am so insanely proud of [Rowling] for doing this."

But, not surprisingly, others were appalled.

"Thank you for permanently staining my view of Dumbledore," read a post from someone identifying himself or herself only as "Concerned Reader."

One major anti-Potter crusader is Laura Mallory, a mother of four from Georgia, who made headlines earlier this month when she told the Gwinnett County Board of Education that the series was trying to indoctrinate children into the Wicca religion. In response to Dumbledore's outing, Mallory told ABC News that the Potter series has "an anti-Christian agenda," and, "this only further supports that."

"My prayer is that parents would wake up, that the subtle way this is presented as harmless fantasy would be exposed for what it really is -- a subtle indoctrination into anti-Christian values," said Mallory. "The kids are being introduced to a cult and witchcraft practices.
"A homosexual lifestyle is a harmful one," she added. "That's proven, medically."

Not surprisingly, conservatives at Saturday's Values Voters' summit in Washington also had some thoughts on the now controversial wizard.

"I feel like children's books shouldn't be political -- they shouldn't have political ties, they're entertainment," attendee Katie Beach said. "I think it's pretty ridiculous for her to say that or to do that."

But none of that has stopped Rowling, who said she considers her novels as a "prolonged argument for tolerance," and urged her fans to "question authority."

Rowling's last Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," made history when it was released in July. Eleven million copies flew off shelves in the first 24 hours alone. And though the story chronicled the last of Harry's adventures, the renewed controversy may suggest Rowling's characters, muggle or wizard, gay or straight, will live on far beyond the end of the series.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures


I think the reaction of the crowd to whom she was reading says a lot about how far down the road to ruin we truly are.

18 October 2007

Archbishop to Confirm Young Adults at the Oratory on November 4, 2007

17 days from now-- that's when His Grace, the Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of Saint Louis, will be administering the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, 2653 Ohio Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63118 (mapquest it, if you like), on November 4, 2007 during the 10 am Sunday Mass.

Why not satisfy your love (or curiosity, if you are new) for the Traditional Mass, your love and support for the Archbishop, and your need to satisfy your Sunday obligation all at once by assisting at this Mass?

It is a big occasion-- after all, my daughter will be among those confirmed!

Moberly, MO Mom Cited for Neglect for Teaching Her Own Children after One Was Threatened at School

Schools can't be held accountable for threats to your children's safety.

Schools can't be held accountable for undermining your religious and moral values.

Schools can't be held accountable for failing to impart academic knowledge.

BUT, they can cause you trouble if you decide not to send your children there anymore:


Mom accused of neglect for teaching own kids
Describes litany of harassment, intimidation at public district

Posted: October 16, 20071:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

A Missouri public school is pursuing a complaint against a mother for withdrawing her son and daughter from the school and teaching them at home, after an apparent threat to the daughter's life at the school.

The case involves Moberly, Mo., mother Anita Nicoli, who withdrew her daughter and a son from Moberly Middle School recently after what she has described as a two-year campaign of intimidation by other students.

The breaking point came when another student, who allegedly had harassed and assaulted her daughter, drew a picture of herself holding a gun and pointing it directly at Nicoli's daughter. The picture was passed around among students, she said.

But she now has been cited in a complaint filed by the school after she withdrew two of her children.

Multiple telephone messages left with officials at the school district were not returned. But Nicoli told WND that she is accused of "educational neglect" by social services, based on a complaint from the school.

Full story here.

Creepy. Way Creepy.

Is anyone out there going to see that "Bodyworlds 3" sideshow at the Science Center? If so, can you help me figure out why this isn't a deplorable way to treat human corpses? Link here, but warning-- it's creepy. Just in case you didn't get the title of this post?

If there are any moral theologians who read this blog, could you weigh in on the morality of this?

17 October 2007

Do You Want the Good News or the Bad News First?

The Vatican released the list of the new Cardinals named by the Holy Father.

Archbishop Burke, alas, is not on this list.
While I can't think of a more deserving Bishop, at least we can thank the good Lord that His Grace remains with us for awhile longer.
God bless Archbishop Burke!

16 October 2007

They Want Your Children on File... For Their Own Safety, of Course

From the corridors of power:

I have a great idea. That Devlin kidnapping and abuse case is so horrible, it will surely have parents freaking out. Let's tell them that we can keep their kids safer if they give us all of their biographical information and DNA. We can keep it in a database, just in case we ever need it.

Why would we ever need that kind of information?

Who knows? But it will let us track and find them whenever we feel the need.

Do you think parents will possibly buy into this kind of privacy invasion?

Just watch.

OK, run with it...

From STLToday:

Devlin prompts kid IDs

By Betsy Taylor

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- In the months since two kidnapped Missouri boys were found alive, parents have been lining up for identification kits in case their own kids go missing.

And what was once a set of fingerprints inked on a card has evolved into a high-tech offering, where families can preserve digital photos, even a DNA sample, to give to authorities if a child should vanish. The identification kits are often provided for free by community, charitable or law enforcement organizations.

The safe return of Abby Woods, an infant kidnapped from her Franklin County home late last year, spurred some increased interest. But things really took off in January after police found Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby in the Kirkwood apartment of Michael Devlin. Devlin pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sexual abuse charges last week and received multiple life sentences.

Nick Cichielo is the state coordinator for the Missouri Child Identification Program (MoCHIP), run by the Masonic fraternity. He said demand for the program's free kits more than doubled in the past year, to 26,000.

"Right in January, after the abduction, it went through the ceiling," he said.

The MoCHIP program provides families with laminated ID cards and a computer disc that law enforcement agencies can read. The disc includes digital photos, digital fingerprints, child information and emergency contacts. The Masons also have children take a dental bite impression, which Cichielo said captures a DNA sample and can provide a source for scent, if needed by canine search teams.

The Shawn Hornbeck Foundation, formed after Shawn went missing in 2002 at age 11, now aids in the search for other missing children and also educates parents and children on ways to stay safe. The foundation has been distributing hard, plastic cards since 2003, which parents can carry in their wallets. They feature a digital head-and-shoulders shot of a child, along with identifying information.

"I would say prior to the boys coming home, we were doing a couple of events a month," said Sherri Martin, administrator for the foundation. "Now, we have events almost every weekend. We get more requests than we can handle.

"Martin said that to her knowledge, Shawn had not had a child ID kit when he went missing. She said providing the kits is important to both Shawn and his parents.

"Along with the blessing of the return of their son comes the responsibility to make sure no other child goes missing and to try and bring every last missing child home," she said.

Karl Lund, 32, of the St. Louis suburb of O'Fallon, recently had ID cards made up for his children, Nathan, 3, and Erin, 1, through the Hornbeck Foundation when his family attended a chili cookoff. Shawn and his parents helped to make the ID cards at the event.

"If the unthinkable happens, we have an identification card to hand off to officials," he said.

Lund said the abductions of Shawn and Ben made him realize something can happen to a child in a split second.

"This really brings it closer to home," he said.

Another program, sponsored by the American Football Coaches Association in partnership with the FBI, hands out ID kits to families at football games and other events.

Program officials haven't seen an uptick in interest related to the boys' recovery, but that could be in part to the sheer volume of kits they already hand out -- more than 3 million annually -- said Kenny Hansmire, executive director of the National Child ID program.

The kits allow parents to record inkless fingerprints. Parents use a moist wipe on their child's fingertips that reacts with the paper included in the kit to record fingerprints without using ink on the hands. They also give parents a swab to save a DNA sample.

FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said along with the kit, the organizations recommend that families update photos of children once a year.


For the life of me, I cannot understand why parents are so anxious to hand over their child's most sensitive information to the government. Does government give them such a high degree of confidence? Do they really believe that the government could never lose such information, or accidentally release it? Or perhaps use it for illegal or immoral ends?

Has our vitality as a society really ebbed to the point where the government is our lord and savior? If only Hitler or Stalin had this kind of information at their disposal...

Sorry for the heavy thoughts. I'm sure there's something good on T.V. to watch...

Because Unborn Babies Have No Money. Or, Why It Pays to Support Human Cloning

Right, Governor Blunt?

From STLToday:

Gov. Matt Blunt has collected $250,000 from a group that backs embryonic stem cell research, a donation that could aggravate a split between pro-business Republicans who back such research and the party's social conservatives who condemn it.

The contribution — reported in his latest campaign finance report filed Monday — helped Blunt, a Republican, maintain a more than 2-1 edge in his bank account compared with that of his likely Democratic rival, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon.

The quarter-million-dollar donation was by far Blunt's largest and represents almost a quarter of the $1.03 million that the governor raised during the last three months for next year's re-election bid. For the same period, Nixon raised $622,355.Blunt, like Nixon, has consistently supported embryonic stem cell research in the state. But such a large donation could hurt Blunt's efforts to reach out to his party's social conservatives.

Many of the social conservatives long have been publicly upset with the governor over his position regarding embryonic stem cell research. Blunt spokesman John Hancock said the donation demonstrated that "the governor's position on the issue of research is clear and unchanged, for a very long time."

But what remains unclear is whether Blunt will be able to keep most of the $250,000, which he received July 10, nine days before the state Supreme Court reinstated Missouri's campaign donation limits.

A law repealing the limits was in place from Jan. 1 to July 19. The Missouri Ethics Commission, which enforces the state's campaign laws, has yet to decide whether candidates must return over-limit donations collected during that time.

Blunt's generous donor was Supporters of Health Research and Treatments, a Kirkwood-based political action committee. It has ties to the coalition that successfully won statewide approval of Amendment 2, which protects forms of embryonic stem cell research allowed under federal law.

Donn Rubin, who chaired the Amendment 2 campaign, is deputy treasurer of the Research and Treatments PAC.

The PAC said in a statement that its donation to Blunt, who also supported Amendment 2, underscored that, "We support candidates who are strong and articulate champions of the freedom to conduct medical research in Missouri, and those who are open to learning more."

The PAC's only other major donation recorded in its latest report was $150,000 to the national Democratic Governors Association. The group previously gave $25,000 to Nixon.

Missouri Right to Life is among several anti-abortion groups that have joined some Republican officials to form a new coalition, Cures Without Cloning. That group is collecting signatures to put a proposal on next year's ballot that would bar some of the embryonic stem cell research procedures now protected by Amendment 2.

A coalition spokesman declined to comment Monday on Blunt's donation.

15 October 2007

What is the Church?

The Church to me is all important things everywhere. It is authority and guidance. It is love and inspiration. It is hope and assurance. It is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is our Lady and St. Joseph. It is St. Peter and Pius XII. It is the bishop and the pastor. It is the catechism and it is our mother leaning over the crib teaching us our evening prayers. It is the cathedral at Chartres and the cross-tipped hut on Ulithi. It is the martyrs in the Colosseum and the martyrs in Uganda, the martyrs at Tyburn and the martyrs at Nagasaki. It is the wrinkled old nun and the eager-eyed postulant. It is the radiant face of the young priest saying his first Mass, and the sleepy boy acolyte with his soiled white sneakers showing under his black cassock.

It is the spire glimpsed from a train window and the cruciform miniature of a church seen far below on the earth from an airplane. It is six o'clock Mass with its handful of unknown saints at the communion rail in the gray dark and it is pontifical High Mass with its crowds and glowing grandeur in St. Peter's. It is the candle-starred procession after evening Benediction in St. Patrick's and the rosary, the night before the burial, at a stuccoed funeral parlor in Los Angeles. It is El Greco's soaring Assumption in Toledo and it is the primitive pink and blue angels on a mission altar in Peru. It is the Sistine Choir and it is the May procession of Chinese children singing the Regina Coeli in Peking.

It is the Carthusian at prime on Monte Allegro and the Jesuit teaching epistemology in Tokyo. It is the Scheutveld Father fighting sleeping sickness in the Congo and the Redemptorist fighting prejudice in Vermont. It is the Benedictine, the Augustinian, the Passionist, the Dominican, the Franciscan. It is all religious and especially the great unnamed Order of the Parish Priest.

It is the Carmelite Sister lighting the tapers for vespers in the drear cold of Iceland and the Sister of Notre Dame de Namur making veils for First Communion in Kwango. It is the Vincentian Sister nursing a Negro Baptist dying of cancer in Alabama and the Maryknoll Sister facing a Communist commissar in Manchuria. It is the White Sister teaching the Arabs carpetmaking in the Sahara and the Good Shepherd Sister in St. Louis giving sanctuary to a derelict child, a home to a lamb who was lost. It is the Little Sister of the Poor salving the sores of a forgotten old man in Marseilles, the Grey Sister serving the destitute in Haiti, the Blessed Sacrament Sister helping a young Negro write poetry in New Orleans. It is the Sister of Charity... It is all the Sisters everywhere.

It is the crippled woman who keeps fresh flowers before our Lady's altar and the young woman catechist who teaches the barefooted neophytes in the distant hills. It is the girl who gives up her bridge to drive the Sisters to the prisons and the homes of the poor, and it is the woman who goes from door to door begging for help for the orphanage. It is the proud mother of the priest and the heartbroken mother of the criminal. It is all mothers and sisters everywhere who weep and suffer and pray that sons and brothers may keep the Faith.

It is the youth climbing the September hill to the seminary, his heart sure of Him calling, and it is the lost priest stumbling, groping, seeking vainly afar the God he can hold in his hands, a stranger among men always and everywhere. It is the bad sermon and the good, the false vocation and the true. It is the tall young man who says the Stations of the Cross every evening and it is the father of ten who wheels the sick to Mass every Sunday morning at the County Hospital.

It is St. Martin and Martin de Porres, St. Augustine and St. Phocas, Gregory the Great and Gregory Thaumaturgus, St. Ambrose and Charles de Foucauld, St. Ignatius and Ignatius the Martyr, St. Thomas More and St. Barnabas. It is St. Teresa and St. Philomena, Joan of Arc and St. Winefride, St. Agnes and St. Mary Euphrasia. It is all the saints, ancient and new, named and unnamed, and all the sinners.

It is the stained-glass window with the ragged hole from a boy's baseball, and the small red sanctuary lamp sputtering in a dark and empty church. It is the bursting out of the Gloria on Holy Saturday and the dim crib at dawn Mass on Christmas. It is the rose vestments on Laetare Sunday and the blue overalls of the priest working with the laborers in a mine in the Ruhr.

It is the shiny, new shoes and shiny, reverent faces of the June bride and groom kneeling before the white-flowered altar at nuptial Mass, and it is the pale, troubled young mother at the baptismal font, her joy mingled with distress as she watches her first-born wail its protest against the sacramental water. It is the long, shadowy, uneven line of penitents waiting outside the confessional in the dusk of a wintry afternoon, each separate and solemnly alone with his sins, and it is the stooped figure of a priest, silhouetted against the headlights of a police car in the darkness of the highway as he says the last prayers over a broken body lying on the pavement beside a shattered automobile.

It is the Magnificat and it is grace before meals. It is the worn missal and the chipped statue of St. Anthony, the poor box and the cracked church bell. It is peace and truth and salvation. It is the Door through which I entered into the Faith and the Door through which I shall leave, please God, for eternity.

------------- from Dan England and the Noonday Devil, by Myles Connolly, 1951.

One of the most beautiful and poetic descriptions of the Church I have read. When I read this the first time, I was deeply moved. This book is hard to find, but worth the effort to get. Read this book. Amazon sells them used via various dealers.

This picture of the Church, dating from the 1950s, isn't just nostalgia, but a call to restoration and renewal. The essentials remain. Some of the orders mentioned could used restoration and renewal. But, then, so could the lay faithful.

Dan took a sip of his wine, smiled at Doris. "Catholics take their Church for granted," he explained. "We even take our Lord in the tabernacle for granted. But you mustn't be too hard on us. All children take their home and their father for granted. We are spoiled children."

Maria, Mater Ecclesiae, ora pro nobis!

Feast of St. Teresa of Avila

The above is Bernini's magnificent Ecstasy of St. Teresa, located in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

St. Teresa, pray for us!

12 October 2007

Thank you, Mary, for favors granted.

Speculum iustitiae, ora pro nobis!

Researcher: Humans Will Wed Robots

Why not, after all? It sure seems logical to me. Don't forget pets, while we're at it.

In C.S. Lewis' third installment of the Space Trilogy, "That Hideous Strength", Ransom relates the marital relationships and reproductive processes of those persons who live on the Moon. Seems he was about seventy years ahead of his time.

MAASTRICHT, Netherlands, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The University of Maastricht in the Netherlands is awarding a doctorate to a researcher who wrote a paper on marriages between humans and robots. David Levy, a British artificial intelligence researcher at the college, wrote in his thesis, "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners," that trends in robotics and shifting attitudes on marriage are likely to result in sophisticated robots that will eventually be seen as suitable marriage partners. Levy's conclusion was based on about 450 publications in the fields of psychology, sexology, sociology, robotics, materials science, artificial intelligence, gender studies and computer-human interaction. The thesis examines human attitudes toward affection, love and sexuality and concluded that the findings are just as applicable to human interaction with robots of the future as they are to the relationships between humans of today.


Excuse me, did that say 'sexology'?