Monthly Archives: November 2010
Providing a moment’s respite from what George Weigel dubs the media obsession with “Salvation by Latex”, here are some other notable (and/or interesting) Catholic stories that caught my attention:
- Hungary’s last communist leader János Kádár met a priest at his own request shortly before he died, former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Németh revealed on Tuesday, two decades after Kadar’s death (Reuters’ Faithworld):
I still remember the Catholic priest whom I found, he was a short man called Bíró, I think,” he added.
“I don’t know whether Kádár atoned to him or what he told him, you can’t ask a priest about such things. There is no way to find out now — everybody has died since.”
Németh said this happened in late May or early June, 1989. “This (Kádár’s request) struck all of us as a complete surprise,” he said.
- On November 21st, the world’s tallest Jesus statue was unveiled in Poland — greeted by a throng of some 15,000 Christian pilgrims proclaiming “Christ The King of the Universe.” (Reuters’ FaithWorld)
The brain child of retired local Roman Catholic priest Sylwester Zawadzki, the figure soars to a height of 33 meters (108 ft) which he said symbolized the 33 years Jesus lived on earth. It is three meters taller than Brazil’s statue of Christ the Redeemer which stands on a mountain top overlooking Rio de Janeiro.
I admire the sentiment, but is there anybody else besides me hoping this doesn’t spark an international competition? — I mean, Dubai, with their penchant for grand monuments and architecture, might get wind of this …
- The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist of Ann Arbor, Mich., will be making a second appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” Nov. 23 (Catholic News Agency):
Life in the order was portrayed during Oprah’s Feb. 9 program. That segment received so many positive responses that the TV talk show host thought it would be a good idea to visit again.
In a statement, the order said it hopes to reach viewers who otherwise would have no exposure or understanding of vowed religious life.
- The “Benedict Bump” — seminaries in England have seen a rise in the number applicants this fall – the highest number in over a decade (Catholic News Agency):
This September, 56 men began their journey towards the priesthood in the country, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales announced on Nov. 15, adding that Pope Benedict’s recent visit to the U.K. may boost numbers in the near future.
- Catholic Herald [UK] reports that singing trio The Priests have defended their decision to collaborate with Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan after criticism from fans, teaming up to record the Christmas single “The Little Drummer Boy”:
Fr David Delargy said it was a privilege to work with him and that he had a “depth and sincerity” that is not picked up by the media. At the end of the recording session, Fr Delargy said, he asked the priests for a blessing.
“He came across as a deeper, richer and more complex person than he’s often portrayed,” he said.
(Bring it on, I say — I love Shane MacGowan!)
As we prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and as we recall our blessings and thank God for each and every one, let us also remember the humble turkey and the various disasters that result when that proud bird is not treated with the care that it deserves, dead or alive. Oldtimers like myself will recognize the above video as part of the famous “Turkey Drop” episode from WKRP, a sitcom from the Seventies.
Of course Turkey Disasters are not, unfortunately, restricted to the realm of fiction. Deep frying a turkey poses various risks. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
After a lackluster week in college football (unless you’re Bo Pelini), the Friday after Thanksgiving gives us an excellent slate of college football. Arizona v. Oregon, Auburn v. Alabama, and Boise v. Nevada. The day after, TCU, Stanford, Wisconsin, LSU, and Ohio St. will all be looking to get wins & style points to position themselves for a BCS bid, possibly a title game if a scenario that involves the Second Coming occurs.
We know that Oregon is dreadful in the computers. We know the SEC schools do really well. Can everyone stay undefeated? Can one of the non-AQs impress enough to get in? And throw in the fact that this is rivalry week, which always adds for an extra bit of chaos and unpredictability. The worst teams can and will challenge teams that normally would be far superior to them (like for example when Ole Miss debuts a quasi triple option offense in a failed attempt to beat LSU. Enjoy Hell, you racist rednecks). Weeks like this make college football a lot of fun.
To the rankings! →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I have placed together another roundup of the better informed among us in the Catholic blogosphere concerning the Pope’s comments on the use of condoms (to build upon a previous similar post).
In my personal opinion, the more I read up on this issue, the more confused I become.
For the record, I am no philosophy or theological expert. I have a more rudimentary understanding of the teachings of the Church, ie, I clearly understand what and why, not necessarily the minutiae and nuance.
So I comprehend what the pope meant that if the person in question (example of a male prostitute in the act of fornication) decides to use a condom to protect a client, thus indicating that said person is heading in the right moral direction. Which then begs the question, then it is ok (or is it understandable) to use condoms in certain circumstances, despite Church teaching (Vatican document), ie, Humanae Vitae (Wikipedia entry), to the contrary?
Nonetheless, one cannot come away thinking that the pope himself has allowed for the use of a condom. Period!
Before I give the impression that Pope Benedict has given his blessings to the rise of a brave new condom nation, His Holiness was not speaking ex-cathedra.
But considering the weight of the papal office and the high standing the Church herself holds as a pillar of morality in a depraved world, the comments are disconcerting to the average (practicing) Catholic.
Anyone Can Use a Condom? – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column
Clarification of Pope’s ‘Male Prostitute’ Reference – John Thavis, CNS
Deflating the NY Times Condom Scoop – George Weigel, Natl Rev Online
Wisdom of The Cross: Benedict & Contraception – Reginaldus, NTM
Did Pope ‘Endorse’ Condoms? – Steve Kellmeyer, Fifth Column
Confusion On Pope’s Condom Views – N. Squires/J. Bingham, Tlgrph
Stop the Presses! – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column
(Hat tip: The Pulpit)
I’ve been ending day lately with an hour or two of reading Jose Maria Gironella’s, The Cypresses Believe in God, a massive novel set on the eve of the Spanish Civil War. Given the novel’s sheer size, and that it starts out spending so much time just giving a sense of early 30s Spain as a place and time, as the civil war itself begins to approach one feels with the characters a certain creeping unreality, as the descent of politics and then society as a whole into factional violence seems to become first imaginable, then possible, and finally inevitable.
Having fallen asleep, as it were, in 1935 Catalonia, it was with an odd sense of unreality that I clicked on a link this morning and found a New York Times columnist declaring it impossible to work with his political opponents peacefully and darkly predicting “there will be blood”.
Joe Friday is of course correct that the searches made of minor children by TSA employees would be felonies if not conducted under color of law.
As indicated by this, adults are not treated any better. However, the TSA is attempting to improve the situation:
There’s been a bit of discussion about the nature of libertarianism on the blog recently, and as the resident pseudo-libertarian, I thought I would re-state where I come down on the matter (this is based largely on an older post I did on the subject, which sadly is now lost in the cyber-ether).
To understand where I am coming from, one needs to make a distinction between political positions held as a matter of moral principle, and those held as a matter of prudence. Take the issue of torture. One might oppose the use of torture on the grounds that it’s not a good way to get information from suspects, or because by using torture on the enemy you risk retaliation by the enemy on your people, etc. Alternatively one might believe that torture is just immoral, and you should do it regardless of whether or not it is effective.
Call the first type of objection to torture “pragmatic” and the second “principled.” (A person might object to torture on both pragmatic and principled grounds, in which case the opposition would be principled, though buttressed by pragmatic considerations). Dividing the justifications for various political positions into principled or pragmatic can be sometimes tricky, but the basic idea is, I hope, intuitive enough.
A principled libertarian, as I use the term, is someone who holds libertarian political beliefs for principled reasons. Taxation is theft, my body, my business, etc. In my experience, when you say libertarian this is what people think of. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The media firestorm swirling around Pope Benedict’s discussion of morality and condom use seems like a good illustration of the problem of great trouble and anguish being caused by making completely true and reasonable points. The pope’s comment itself is both true and sensible: there is nothing magically wicked about condoms in and of themselves, rather it is using them in order to render sexual relations sterile which is immoral. However, because the pope is such a uniquely high-profile figure in the world, both those (inside and outside the Church) who are desperately eager for the Church to approve artificial contraception as morally licit, and those who live in constant fear that the faith will somehow be betrayed to the ravening hoards outside, immediately went into full freak-out mode. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Basically he said, as an extreme example, if a male prostitute was to use a condom during sex, it was a step towards a better morality.
Pope Benedict wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra.
Nonetheless, the secular media, like clockwork, has declared that condoms are now allowed by all fornicators (not like dissident Catholics were following the teachings of the Church anyways).
So here is a short roundup of the better informed among us:
Pope Approves Restricted Use of Condoms? – M.J. Andrew, TAC
Understanding Pope’s Dilemma on Condoms – Jimmy Akin, NCRgstr
Condoms, Consistency, (mis)Communication – Thomas Peters, AmP
Pope Changed Church Condoms Teaching? – Q. de la Bedoyere, CH
A Vatican Condom Conversion? – Mollie, Get Religion
Pope: Condoms, Sex Abuse, Resignation & Movie Nights – John Allen
What The Pope Really Said About Condoms in New Book? – Janet Smith
Ginger Factor: Pope Approves of Condoms! – Jeff Miller, The Crt Jstr
The Pope and Condoms – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column
Pope Did Not Endorse the Use of Condoms – Fr. Zuhlsdorf, WDTPRS?
Did Pope Change Teaching About Condoms? – Brett Salkeld, Vox Nova
The feast of Christ the King is one of my favorite in the liturgical year. It reminds me powerfully, through the confusion of daily life, that God reigns and rules. However, there are myriad other ways of looking at God, and one of the more unusual, and powerful, is courtesy of the patron saint of paradox, G. K. Chesterton, in his The Ballad of the White Horse. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The point I would make is that the novelist and the historian are seeking the same thing: the truth — not a different truth: the same truth — only they reach it, or try to reach it, by different routes. Whether the event took place in a world now gone to dust, preserved by documents and evaluated by scholarship, or in the imagination, preserved by memory and distilled by the creative process, they both want to tell us how it was: to re-create it, by their separate methods, and make it live again in the world around them.
I know quite a few of our readers have a keen interest in the Civil War, and I am curious as to what their favorite Civil War books are. There are so many magnificent studies of the Civil War that I have read over the years, that I find the question difficult to answer. However, I think pride of place for me is Shelby Foote’s magisterial three volume The Civil War: A Narrative. Written by a master novelist, Foote’s volumes are an epic recreation of the terrible conflict that made us, certainly more than any event since, what we are today. That is my choice, what is yours?
I’m sick of politics, in theory, and in practice, for the moment. So I want to share with you some music and some thoughts on it this weekend. The composers and pieces I will present here have something in common: they have been described, for better or (more often) for worse as “reactionary” in both form and content. And that is why I love them. While incorporating to some unavoidable extent the styles of the times in which they lived, these composers also remained committed to styles and themes that constantly evoked earlier eras of music and society. In listening to them, I can indulge in what I hope is a healthy way my romanticist tendencies without abandoning a realistic approach to the modern world and it’s problems.
History will be the judge of Reagan’s Presidency, both the good and bad. Again it will be 30 years from now before a more fair and balanced assessment can be made about his Presidency, 50 years or more after it ended. It’s critically important now though to engage some of the myths and legends being perpetuated about Reagan.
Why the U.S.S.R. collapsed is more complex than just saying or alluding to that Reagan was the cause, as if he was the sole and only cause of its collapse. There were many factors, which include the following: an over-extension of their foreign policy (i.e. Afghanistan), Pope John Paul II, a sustained multi-decade U.S. foreign policy against Communism, a deeply flawed internal economic and political system, and an ideology which collapsed in on itself. All of these factors and many others help to bring an end to the Soviet Union. Did Reagan help the Soviets to reach their culminating point? Yes. He gave them one of the final pushes over the edge of the cliff before their collapse. He deserves at best partial or minimal credit for its demise.
One can argue that the economic successes that Reagan achieved could be largely credited to the Fed. Chairman, Paul Volcker, who was appointed by President Carter. Many justify the irresponsibility and lack of discipline in Reagan’s fiscal policies by stating that this was necessary because of the need to win the Cold War. Fair enough. Reagan was a war hawk. No one will debate you here about that. What you must admit though is that spending money you don’t have is not “conservative.” Putting that burden of large deficits and debt which quadrupled under his administration on future Presidents (i.e. Clinton) and future generations of Americans is not being a fully responsible or prudent. Reagan was no fiscal hawk. He simply was not fiscally conservative. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
As MJ posted yesterday, Pope Benedict was in the news this week in regards to health care this week. A couple things struck me as interesting about this article, and the debate that immediately sprang up around it here.
1. It’s Not All About US Politics
It’s not often that those in the Commonweal and National Catholic Reporter set get to rub their political opponents noses in something and play the, “You’re not a very good Catholic, are you?” game, so it’s hardly surprising if there’s been a bit of crowing in some circles. However, as is often the case, I think it’s a mistake to see this as primarily relating to recent US political struggles, much though Catholic Democrats would like to imagine that the pope is admonishing the USCCB for not supporting ObamaCare. Indeed, the pope’s sentiments should be rather castening to those of us in the developed world: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading