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Today Is The Day
Get ready for it.
Okay Then, That Was Unexpected...
Weird.
Church Art Shouldn't Make You Say "Blech!"
Or cringe.
Cardinal Urges Priests To Liven Up Sermons
I got some ideas...
New Translation Objections Are Becoming More Ridiculous
Grasping at straws...
This Comes As No Surprise
Up with the ex-communicated!
Things A Catholic Ought Never Say
Watch your mouth!
Sister Patricia: On Seven Quick-Takes Friday
Catching up with Sr Pat.
Just Thought You'd Like To Know...
A public service announcement.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Itching Ears

(2 Tim 4:3-4) "3 For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: 4 And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables."
The post Is It Unorthodox Or Could It Be The Way Forward? at the Sour Patch Kids' blog epitomizes those verses from St Paul's letter. Here's the first paragraph, which is probably all you need to read in order to understand the direction the writer is headed.
For the past few weeks I’ve been engrossed in reading a find that I fortuitously happened upon at my school’s library – Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity by Elaine Pagels and Karen L. King. As I’ve explored and contemplated on its subject matter I’ve realized that the Gospel of Judas was not only a subversive and compelling narrative at the time of its composition but also has much wisdom to impart to Christians of the twenty-first century.
The Gospel According to Judas? That's "a way forward"? Really??

When one's ideology can neither be supported by the inspired Word of God nor the sacred tradition of the Church, then their only recourse is to rely on uncanonical texts and exclaim "Ah ha! See! There were some in the early days of the Church who believed this!" And most likely there were - but they lie in unmarked tombs deep in undiscovered cemeteries, their dust mingled with the sands of time, wholly anonymous to history. Such people were forgotten for a reason.

Their "itching ears" deceived them into believing fables, and they became as substantive as the shadows which they followed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bloggurgatory

What might Purgatory be like for Catholic bloggers? Let's face it - most of us will have to spend time there before crossing the threshold of the Pearly Gates. More than likely, few souls gain Heaven immediately upon death - so those who don't and are not condemned to Hell have to suffer through Purgatory first. Any attachment to sin harbored within our souls will need to be purged before we can be admitted. It's how it goes.

And no one knows for certain how Purgatory works. St Paul writes in the 1st Letter to the Corinthians “if any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Cor 3:15) Also, some of the saints have been granted visions of it, but those are private revelations, and while they can be instructive and inspirational, they aren't part of Revealed Truth. Saint Faustina, Saint Catherine of Genoa and others have had visions - they speak of fire, of longing, of consolations. We believe that the prayers of the Church Militant help to shorten the experience of those being purified.

But it all sounds so same ol', same ol', y'know? Maybe Catholic bloggers will have to endure sufferings that are a bit more...I don't know, personal. Custom-fit.

For instance - and I'm just imagining here -

* LarryD - transcribe every issue of the National Catholic Reporter onto strips of bark using a piece of charcoal.
* Fr Z - drink instant coffee while blogging on a 386...with a dial-up connection.
* Mark Shea - chained at the ankle with Michael Voris (that could work both ways, I suppose).
* The writers at The American Catholic - recite every Vox Nova post in Shakespearean prose.
* Creative Minority Report - Pat and Matt are brothers. They live in New York and Philly, respectively. They co-author a blog. That's probably penance enough in this life for each.
* Wordpress users - forced to use the Blogger format.
* Blogger format users - forced to use...the Blogger format.

What's your Bloggurgatory going to be?

UPDATE: For a longer and even funnier list, check out The Curt Jester.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Australian Priest: Jesus Is Just A "Fable"

Evidence that once a person denies any part of the Catholic faith, their beliefs get weirder and weirder and weirder.

From the Sydney Morning Herald: Priest Still Believes, But Not In Jesus
Sacked Catholic priest Peter Kennedy says he hasn't given up on God and prayer, but no longer believes in Jesus.

Father Kennedy, dismissed by the church for unorthodox practices, says he now considers Jesus "a fable".

The rebel priest made headlines in 2009 when he formed a congregation in exile.

He was earlier sacked by the church for unorthodox practices such as allowing women to preach the homily and blessing same-sex relationships.

Fr Kennedy says he still believes in God, just not a God who intervenes in the affairs of humans.

In other words, he's putting limits on what God will or will not do. True - God doesn't interfere with our free will, and maybe that's what he means by saying "not a God who intervenes in the affairs of humans". But if he means God doesn't interact with His creation and with us mortals, then he's in serious denial of revealed Truth.

"It's true I've given up on that sort of a God, that sort of a 'being' that sits up there in heaven somewhere and intervenes in human affairs," he told AAP on Wednesday.

"If you believe in a God that intervenes into human history why didn't God intervene in the massacre in Norway? Whatever God is, God is not that sort of God, obviously.

"That's what I'm trying to say."

Well, I'm no theologian, and I don't have the mind of God, but again, God didn't intervene because He doesn't interfere with our free will. It's that simple. We are victims of other people's exercise of their free will for good or ill, just as others are subject to our choices. It's always been that way.

So what kind of God does he believe in then?

Fr Kennedy said he still believed in prayer, but not asking things of God.

"For me prayer is just standing in wonder and awe at the mystery of life, the beauty of life, the goodness of people."

Praying in church was not about talking directly to God, he said.

"It (public prayer) is about informing the community of people within the community and outside the community who are in need, it's not about informing God.

"God already knows all that, that's God."

So he stands in awe and wonder at the mystery of life, and in the goodness of people, and calls that prayer? Sounds more like navel gazing to me, but what do I know? Too bad he doesn't ask for wisdom to understand God's ways better, but since he doesn't believe God gives things we ask for (in direct contrast to Scripture), he won't.

And the public prayer statement - what exactly does he want to inform people within and without the community? It's obviously not about worshiping God, which is the point of the Mass. It's not about praising Him, or beseeching Him, or seeking forgiveness, or any of that stuff. To him, it's all inwardly focused, all about the community.

But he said he had not believed in Jesus for some time, calling the son of God a "fable" and a "metaphor".

"There is no corroborating evidence for the existence of a person called Jesus," he said.

"The Gospels must not ever be taken literally. Scripture scholars tell us that.

"There's been 'dying, rising God-men' around for centuries before Christianity. All Christianity did was to take on those pagan, then Jewish, mysteries.

"He's a parable, he's a metaphor in a sense."

On the day he dies, he's going to meet his metaphor. I'm afraid he'll find out right quick his version of reality was the make-believe one.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Now That's What I'm Talking About!

August 27th. Can.Not.Wait.

CTA Press Release: 157 Priests Support Bourgeios

We'll have to take their word for it, of course. Call-to-Action hasn't published the list of priests who purportedly support Roy Bourgeios. For all we know, it could be 157 names out of the Chicago phonebook. Or the casts of Les Miserables, Cats! and Music Man.

Here's a portion of the press release:
157 Catholic Priests Rise Up to Support Fellow Embattled Priest

In an unprecedented move, 157 Catholic priests have signed on to a letter in support of their fellow embattled priest, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who has been told to recant his support for women’s ordination or be removed from the priesthood. The letter that supports Roy’s priesthood and his right to conscience was delivered, Friday, July 22nd, to Fr. Edward Dougherty, Superior General of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Maryknoll, NY.

“We can no longer remain silent while priests and even bishops are removed from their posts simply because they choose to speak their truth,” said Fr. Fred Daley, a spokesperson of the effort and a priest of the Syracuse Diocese. “Together, we are standing up for our brother priest, Roy, and for all clergy who have felt afraid to speak up on matters of conscience.

“We hope that our support as ordained priests in good standing will help give Fr. Dougherty the support he needs to make a decision that is fair and just.”

This stance of priests from the United States follows a series of recent actions where priests collectively have taken a stand for justice in the Church. Last year, priests in Ireland formed a union aimed at organizing the 6,500 priests in response to the clergy abuse crisis. In May of this year, the National Council of Priests of Australia released a statement in support of a bishop forced to resign because he mentioned women’s ordination as one possible solution to the priest shortage. Then, this month, the Austrian-based Initiative of Parish Priests launched a campaign with 300 priests signing a call for resistance that encourages, among other things, the inclusion of women and married men to the priesthood.
So the 157 priests are no longer remaining silent by remaining anonymous. What a bunch of gutless wonders. Where's the courage of their conviction? I mean, they're "speaking their truth", right? But to whom? In their shrinking circles of influence? How can they claim to be holding firm to their conscience, when they lack the fortitude to publicly proclaim it? If the majority of US Catholics support women's ordination (63%, according to this list), then what are they afraid of? The bishops? Pfft - I bet they ignore their bishops to begin with. Maybe some of them are equally supportive of women's ordination anyway.

In the meantime, I've sent emails to Call-to-Action's president Jim FitzGerald, to the Maryknoll's in New York, and to Fr Fred Daley in Syracuse, asking for the list of priests' names. I'll keep you posted on their replies - should I get any.

Should I get the list (totally unlikely, I know), I'm going to publish it. If I don't get the list (137% likely), then I'll start an on-line petition to the list released. So keep your eyes peeled - your help will be needed.

It's time to take off the kids' gloves and put the screws to organizations like Call-to-Action. It's time to force the priests who are in opposition to Church teaching to take a stand for their beliefs instead of hiding behind a veil of anonymity. For the good of the Church.

Friday, July 22, 2011

AoftheA Has Joined Twitter

Well, I've taken the plunge. Jumped a bit deeper into the Social Media Sea.Check out the sidebar, and look for the heading "Acts Of The Aposta-tweets". You can follow me on Twitter from there.

Think of it as snark in snack-size bites.

Mt. Rushmore - The Catholic Version


A light-hearted diversion for the weekend ~

If it were up to you to design a Catholic version of Mt Rushmore, which four saints would you choose to have chiseled onto the mountain face?

Or - come up with a Catholic theme and select four saints that reflect that theme (say, for instance, the Catholic Mt Rushmore of Popes, or the Mt. Rushmore of Catholic Martyrs...you get the idea)

Yeah, I know this is hard, given the thousands upon thousands of saints to choose from, and picking only four excludes many many excellent choices. Just have fun with it. This ain't a test, ok? There are no wrong answers. Unless you pick someone who isn't Catholic. Then you lose.

Me? The Mt. Rushmore of Catholic Comedians: St Lawrence; Bd Pier G Frassati; St Teresa of Avila (she had some humor about her, you know); St Genesius.

Have fun!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Strange Creatures Of Our World III

Welcome to the third installment of "Strange Creatures of Our World", a recurring feature at AoftheA, where we take time to appreciate some of the more fascinating aspects of God's creation (the first installment is here, the second one is here). Given the rampant climate change wreaking havoc across the planet, it's important we appreciate the diversity of nature before it is wiped out by SUV's, incandescent light bulbs and cow farts.

This latest installment focuses on cryptozoological creatures - those beasts and animals that are thought to be potentially real, but evidence is lacking to provide absolute proof.

Now, we're not talking about mythical creatures here - such as the Hydra, or Unicorn, or fire-breathing dragons. This installment will review creatures that have been "sighted", but not definitively proven to exist.

Many people consider cryptozoologic animals as hoaxes, or products of over-active imaginations. Others persist with sincere belief that these creatures are in fact real. In some cases, the beasts are merely mistaken to being something they are not. But - given that scientists discover new species every year, and while those fall within existing categories of animals (insect, invertebrate, etc.), the possibility still exists that such mysterious creatures could exist.

For example, it was recently reported that a sea monster was videotaped in 2009 off the coast of Alaska. Could it be a descendant from the dinosaurs, or a distant relative of the Loch Ness monster? It's a mystery that may never be solved, and will certainly fuel discussion and debate over the existence of such creatures.

Let's look at some of the more well-known examples of cryptozoological creatures.

BIGFOOT



MONTAUK MONSTER



CHUPACABRA



LOCH NESS MONSTER



MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM



YOUNG CATHOLYC "REFORMERS"

(Images from ACC June 2012 Detroit)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How Michael Sean Winters Learned Of Chaput's Appointment

A dramatic interpretation ~

A dark cave. In the middle, a cauldron boils. Thunder.


(Scenes taken from Shakespeare's "Macbeth".)

*Michael Sean Winter's NCR column on the appointment of Archbishop Chaput to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Yeah, he ain't happy with the selection. Which means one thing - it's the bestest, gooderest thing for the Church.

Remember - Same-sex Marriage Won't Affect You...

...just so long as you submit, comply and abandon your religious principles.

From NPR: Lesbian Couple: Vt. Resort Barred Reception
A Vermont inn violated state anti-discrimination rules by refusing to host the wedding reception for two New York City women, the couple said in a lawsuit Tuesday.

The "happy" couple (Source)

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union's Vermont chapter on behalf of Kate Baker and Ming Linsley, said the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville turned away the couple last fall and that at least two other same-sex couples were also refused because of the inn's owner has a "no-gay-reception policy."

"When the Wildflower Inn told us last fall that they don't host gay receptions, we were obviously saddened and shocked," said Baker. "It was frustrating to be treated like lesser than the rest of the society, and we were also surprised that it happened in Vermont."

Vermont has been a pioneer in gay rights, creating the concept of civil unions for same-sex couple in 2000. In 2009, it legalized gay marriage. Many of its tourism businesses actively market to gay clientele.

The inn's owners, Jim and Mary O'Reilly, issued a statement saying they are devout Catholics who believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.

"We have never refused rooms or dining or employment to gays or lesbians," they wrote. "Many of our guests have been same-sex couples. We welcome and treat all people with respect and dignity. We do not however, feel that we can offer our personal services wholeheartedly to celebrate the marriage between same-sex couples because it goes against everything that we as Catholics believe in."

The innkeepers said they never spoke to Baker and Linsley, but that the inn's wedding coordinator "did not handle the couple's request in the manner that it should have been."

Baker, 31, and Linsley, 34, who live in Brooklyn, said at a Statehouse news conference announcing the lawsuit Tuesday that they have since found another location for the reception but that they filed suit on principle.

That principle being...screw you, faithful Catholics. We will put you out of business.

Let me get this straight. The O'Reilly's don't have the right to run their business the way they want, nor to give the impression that they support same-sex marriage by hosting "wedding" receptions, but it's okay for a restaurant to ban families with kids under the age of 6, because the owners have the right to run their business the way they want, and claim that too many patrons were complaining about the disturbances.

Gay marriage = good, kids from traditional marriages (more than likely) = bad. Unless the kids have two mommies or two daddies. Then it'll be all good, I'm sure.

We live in an ever-increasingly messed up world. Nowadays, the right of one person to not be offended by someone else's peaceful practice of their religion trumps the right of another to freely practice their religion. When was that added to the Constitution?

Discrimination is very very bad, unless you're sticking it to Catholics and Christians who live their faith. In that case, it's called 'justice'. Same-sex marriage is nothing more than a money-making scam for the easily offended and their willing accomplices at the ACLU.

I see two solutions. One - Catholics who run similar businesses - inns, reception halls, photography services - need to solicit complaints from patrons about same-sex couples causing disturbances at their businesses, or something along those lines, and that said patrons have threatened to take their business elsewhere. That seems to be a legitimate defense.

The other - the O'Reilly's should have said they were faithful Muslims. Bye-bye lawsuit.
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What?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Progressive Bible Quotes #12

Mk10: 17-21 (McBrien-Kmiec edition) 17And when he was gone forth into the way, a certain man running up and kneeling before him, asked him, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may receive life everlasting?"

18And Jesus said to him, "Why callest thou me good? None is good but one, that is God.

19Thou knowest the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, bear not false witness, do no fraud, honour thy father and mother."

20But he answering, said to him: "Master, all these things I have observed from my youth."

21And Jesus looking on him, loved him, and said to him: "One thing is wanting unto thee: go, engage in community organizing, learn how to write op-eds and attend media workshops, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

Catholycs equate "living the Gospel" with "community activism". It's a given. Granted, the Church's teaching on Social Justice embodies aspects and elements that somewhat resemble some strains of the current jived-up definition of 'social justice'. That's only because the Catholic Church has the Social Justice Issue figured out already, while the Catholycs' version is cobbled and worldly, with no transcendence and a myopic view of man's worth in the eyes of God. Catholycs tend to focus exclusively on the Social Justice issues with little or no regard as to how they depend on the whole of Catholic teaching. As a result, they profess Christ as a great teacher who "spoke truth to power" and railed against "the Establishment" - nothing more than a Che Guevara and Gandhi torte, sprinkled with a bit of John Lennon, cooked in a Karl Marx E-Z Bake Oven and sweetened with a glaze of Dalai Lama.

And "the Establishment" in the Catholycs' eyes is the Catholic Church - specifically, the hierarchy. You know - The Big Mean Hurtful Misogynist Homophobic Rule-making Soul-taking Hierarchy. That hierarchy.

In their mind, the struggle lies not in battling against sin and temptation and Satan and the world - it's not in relying on the saving action of Christ and the sacraments He's given us for strength and resolve. No - the struggle is one of Us vs. Them - where the Us are powerless victims and the Them is the Institutional Church. To them - Social Justice is stickin' it to da man.

Here's the latest evidence of their misbegotten belief: a portion of the latest post at the Sour Patch Kids' blog: We Come To Share Our Story, by Justin Sengstock [my comments in blue]

On the weekend of July 8-10, I was at a conference center in Washington, D.C. for the CTA 20/30 leadership training. To my understanding, this is the first one we’ve ever had.

We had a crash course in community organizing, the sine qua non of Church reform. [Seriously? Community organizing is the sine qua non of Church reform?? The Church will be reformed only to the extent that we, its members, seek to be transformed. What's wrong with the Church, to paraphrase Chesterton, is me. The Church is reformed when I become transformed. It's the old "speck and beam" concept, me thinks.] We opened with the question, “How do you define ‘power’?” Idealists like us sometimes trust so much in the inevitability of peace and love that we do not understand the realities of power: how to discuss it, how to get it, how to use it. [What a bunch of whiners. And hypocrites - they don't care about others, when it comes right down to it. They only care about what they can get for themselves. Pathetic. And besides - some of the greatest peace-makers and lovers in the Church didn't give a whit about power. Which makes you wonder if these folks really care about peace and love. Hint: they don't.]

We had media training. [Where's that in the Gospel?] We got the thumbnail sketch of how to place an op-ed, [hmmm - was that in John's gospel, or Mark's? I forget which...] how to conceive campaigns that stayed on message, [I'm pretty sure one of Paul's letters covered that...] how to parry tricky questions from sly interviewers. [ummm, dude? The media is on your side, you know. So who would the 'sly interviewers' be? EWTN? RealCatholicTV? The NC Register? Newsflash: these guys don't want to interview you.]

But the underlying, unifying theme of the organizing and media workshops was this: stories. If you cannot compellingly articulate why you are here, you cannot motivate change. People will not organize with you. Your fifteen minutes in the public eye will only be so much ticking of the clock. Stories are all. [In other words, start the parade of victims and sob stories. Because that's how the disciples did it, you know. They told people throughout the world how mean and unfair and nasty the Establishment was in killing Jesus, and they ginned up sympathy for their cause, and thousands and thousands of people joined The Way because the disciples were compellingly articulate with their stories. Oh, wait...]

Thus our Saturday workshops flowed directly from our exercise on Friday night: namely, telling the whole group how we wound up with Call To Action in the first place.

I listened to story after story of how my fellow 20/30s directly and personally clashed with the Roman Catholic Church. ["Victim Poker" - I hear your sob story, and raise you one.] I heard of trusts betrayed, self-righteousness shed, sexualities discovered, women disrespected. [Notice - no stories of how Jesus Christ transformed their lives. All about how the Church stepped on their sensitive toes. Not only that, such stories can be about employees of the US Post Office, or the military, or Wal-mart, or...you get the idea.] I learned of priests and bishops who knew exactly what power was, who knew how to get it and use it, and who used it to exclude honest, inquisitive young people who did not know how to play the game. [Oh please. Inquisitive? I bet. It probably went something like this. Bishop: I'm sorry, young lady, but the priesthood is reserved for men alone. Young Lady: But why? Bp: That is according to our Lord's example. The Church has no power to change it. YL: But I reaaaaaaallllly feel called to be a priest. Bp: Perhaps God is calling you to a different vocation. You might be mistaken. YL: BUT WHAT ABOUT MY FEELINGS?!?!? YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT MY FEELINGS!!! MISOGYNIST POWER-HUNGRY PIG!!!!] And for not a few attendees, Call To Action was a safe harbor where they remembered they were not crazy. [and were told that the institutional Church is eeeeevvillllll, I'm sure.]

I held my story almost until the end. Partly this was because I am often inarticulate as an extemporaneous speaker. Partly this was because I did not consider my story compelling compared to those I was hearing. But I realize now that if stories really do build a movement, then I am a prime case in point.

You see, I by myself am story-less. The Catholic Church, in its official, conventional form, provides a comfortable sense of self for people like me: white, male, straight, middle class, punctilious and obedient, untouched by tumultuous or transgressive love affairs, not subject to great misfortunes. [Apparently, this Sour Patch Kid has no sense of history, nor does he possess any real critical reasoning skills. And are any of you non-white, female, gay, upper or lower class, questioning, "sinner" types out there offended by his stereotype?] And for years I partook of the comfortable sense of self provided. [In other words - his 'normal' life started to make him feel guilty because he hadn't had it as hard as the other SPK's around him. You can almost hear his conscience shrink as he types.]

[...]

[Here's the kicker] I could prioritize the institutional Church, which, as I now understood, often spoke profusely of things it did not understand to people it never met. [But...but I thought these kids had "directly and personally clashed with the Roman Catholic Church"? Now he's saying the Church has been hurting people it never met? Illogic is strong with this one...] Or I could be loyal to the real, messy lives now intertwining with mine.

After fits and starts, I chose the messy lives.
What a cop-out. What an unbefreakinglievable cop-out. "Prioritize the institutional Church" against "the real, messy lives"? Is he really hoping to be taken seriously? Their "real messy lives" are just the expression of kids who haven't learned yet that the world doesn't revolve around them. Does he really think that some 20/30 year old whiners know more than a 2000-year old divinely led Church, founded by Jesus Christ? What a crock.

Now he understands that the Church speaks profusely of things it doesn't comprehend to people it will never meet? Standard boiler-plate excrement sandwich tripe from the bowels of Call-to-Apostasy. Justin, let me give it to you in 10 easy-to-read points:

1) Christ founded the Church.
2) The Church guards and preserves the deposit of faith left to the apostles.
3) The Church, contrary to the lies you have been told, is not interested in amassing power - She is interested in leading souls to Christ. That is her sole mission.
4) There have been and are individuals in the Church hierarchy that have delusions of power - because they are sinners just like everyone else - but that doesn't represent the mystery and nature and purpose of the Church.
5) Sinners representing the Church up and down the hierarchy ladder have done terrible things to people since the Church began. It's because the Church is made up of sinners. See number 4.
6) Call-to-Apostasy doesn't give a bucket of elephant farts about your story, or any of the other SPK's stories. It really doesn't. It's exploiting your stories in order to advance an agenda in order to acquire, amass and use power it has no right to, under the guise of 'Social Justice'.
7) Jesus Christ loves you and your SPK mates, and calls you (along with everyone else) to repentance and humility. He doesn't confirm us in our sinfulness and selfishness. He desires to unlock our chains and free us.
8) You don't have to organize a community or write an effective op-ed in order to spread the Gospel. In fact, none of that has anything to do with spreading the Gospel. Read how the disciples did it, and follow their example.
9) CTA wants nothing to do with spreading the Gospel. They really don't. They preach a dead letter. They profess a dead faith. They praise a false Christ.
10) Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and stop with the false sympathy. "Real messy lives" is all of us. Welcome to the club. That's why Christ came, and why He founded His Church - to clean up our real messy lives. Some are messier than others - but all are in need of a savior. It's sad that some people are proud of their messes and don't think they need to be cleaned up...

Jesus Christ was not a community organizer. He didn't send whiners out into the world. He didn't command Peter to learn how to acquire, amass and wield power - because we have the power we need, by virtue of our Baptism. The weaker we are in Him, the stronger we become. As St Paul wrote to Timothy: "...for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control." (2 Tim1:7).

The future of the Church does not rest with this sort, should they remain on their present course. No, the future rests with those who will soon be meeting in Madrid. No whiners there, I'm sure.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I Left But Now I'm Back

Hey all! Sorry for the dearth of posts the past four or five days (hope none of you were worried or anything), but I was with the family on vacation, and just returned. No, not Burkina Faso this time (learned my lesson with that one!) - just a get-away to a lakeside cottage complete with pontoon, for some fishing and boating and swimming, and get the batteries recharged.

However, I forgot a razor, so I'm due for a shave right quick.


On the plus side, though, I'm qualified to be a Catholic apologist, if I wanted to be one.

Regular blogging will resume shortly.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Same-Sex Marriage: A Boon For The Unattractive?

(AoftheAP) While debate rages over the recent Same-Sex Marriage bill signed into law in New York State, and the Civil Union passage in Rhode Island, one group of Americans have silently cheered the landmark changes.

The unattractive.

Wilbur Freckenbrenner, president of the group Unattractive Guys Love & Yearn Too, or UGLY² for short, is glad that seven states now recognize same-sex marriage to one degree or another. "Guys like me have no hope of ever marrying a girl," he told AoftheA. "And who can blame them, right? But that doesn't mean I should be discriminated against solely based upon my looks. It's not like I've chosen to be ugly or anything. Married couples receive incredible benefits - and with same-sex marriage gaining approval, myself and other members of UGLY² have greater opportunities to receive those same benefits."

Freckenbrenner was quick to point out that he's not gay. "I am attracted to women. I'm
100% straight, as is every single member of UGLY². Problem is, women aren't attracted to us."

Bradley Sachet, a spokesman for the GLBT advocacy group Redefine Marriage Now!, isn't pleased with groups like
UGLY². He feels they're merely attempting to co-opt the hard-won fights in New York and Rhode Island, and using the results to their advantage.

"Our fight goes way beyond just wanting the same rights as opposite-sex marriages," Sachet said. "We're fighting for tolerance and justice. We're fighting to remove the stigma of a love between two men or two women. Groups like
UGLY² are making a mockery of our struggle. And that's intolerable."

But Freckenbrenner disputes Sachet's claims. "We're not the ones making a mockery of marriage - we aren't bullying opponents; we aren't demonizing Christians; we aren't holding Ugly Pride Parades
; we aren't demanding the right to adopt kids. We just want to "marry" our ugly roommates in order to cash in on the bennies. That's it. And to be honest, I think that's what the whole same-sex marriage push boils down to for groups like Redefine Marriage Now! You know - follow the money. The difference with us is that we're not ashamed to admit it."

Other groups have joined
UGLY² in applauding New York's and Rhode Island's new laws, most notably FOUL (Females Overtly Un-Lovable) and MISANTHROPE (MInistry of Socially Awkward Nerds Totally Helpless in Realizing Ordinary Personal Expression).

The head of MISANTHROPE, Jerry Noob, spoke to AoftheA during a break of an on-line multi-player session of Halo 3. "As a Rhode Island resident, I can now go the city hall and get "married" to my gaming partner, Portal2Rulz4Ever, some dude up in Worcester. Yeah, we won't be living together, but so what? It's not like we have to love each other to get married now. But we'll get all the benefits of being "married", which is what the gays want. We just have to fill out some paperwork and show up at the courthouse. I just hope it doesn't take too long, because my Call of Duty team meets on-line every night at 7:00."

Just how many licenses have been issued to the ugly and unattractive? Specific numbers are difficult to ascertain, but information from the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics have showed that since 2005, when same-sex marriage was legalized in that state, most of the licenses were granted to members of such groups.

A clerk from Boston's City Hall- who asked to remain anonymous - estimates that 65-75% of the licenses she's granted were to non-gays. "You can just tell," she told AoftheA. "They weren't all that attractive, and some looked as if they spend all their time in front of a television, playing video games or something - haggard, unshaven, pale-looking, a bit smelly too. Definitely not gay at all."


Sachet disagrees with the percentages. "All that is conjecture and anecdotal. Our research shows that nationwide, gays easily outnumber the ugly in applying for marriage licenses. Sure, with some of the women, it can be hard to tell the difference, and that's probably what is skewing the numbers. At the end of the day, though, same-sex marriage is primarily GLBT issue."

Mildred Blemper, president of FOUL, begs to differ. "Same-sex marriage is most definitely a FOUL and
UGLY² issue; possibly more so than a gay rights issue. We're just not going to be obnoxious about it."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Putting The Fun In Funerals

And here I thought it was during the wake where people were expected to whoop it up. Silly me.

From the Daily Mail: Ashes To Flashes: The Funeral Strippers Who Dance To Honour The Dead
They bring new meaning to the phrase Drop Dead Gorgeous - as the strippers who dance for the deceased at funerals.

For a modest fee the scantily-clad women arrive on the neon-lit back of a diesel truck, dubbed an Electric Flower Car, to erotically gyrate in front of the departed and his mourners.

The Taiwanese phenomenon is labelled by some as scandalous, but many hail it as an important part of the grieving process - and the perfect way of sending off their loved ones with a smile.

The authorities are trying to crack down on the mainly rural practice documented by anthropologist Marc L Moskowitz in his new film 'Dancing for the Dead: Funeral Strippers in Taiwan'.

[...]

During his research, Moskowitz said he heard several explanations as to why people hired them for funerals.

Some said it was because new ghosts get picked on by older ghosts so the performance was to distract the older ones to let the newer ones get used to his environment.

Others said the lower gods, usually ghosts of real people who were deified because people worshiped them, liked the entertainment so it was for them.

A third theory said that they were employed because the deceased enjoyed watching strippers when alive.

And a final reason was the more people who attended the funeral then the more honour was given to the deceased - and so the strippers were used to 'bribe' mourners to turn up.
(n.b. - there are a couple videos and photos at the Daily Mail site. I've chosen not to show them here for obvious reasons.)

I'll go with Reason #5 - just another way to make money.

Now, I'll admit - perhaps part of the 'Dancing for the Dead' events contain a cultural component. So the 'old ghosts' vs 'young ghosts' seems valid enough, despite it being a non-Christian belief. Chinese funeral customs are ancient, and I'm kinda clueless on their meanings and such - but pole dancing? I have to believe that's a rather modern innovation tacked onto a venerable heritage.

And will the "Stripped-down Funeral" catch on in the U.S.?

Give it time.

Back From Burkina Faso

Well, I've safely returned from my trip to Burkina Faso.

Unfortunately, I didn't come back with any money. Apparently, Miss. Nadia Omwony Ojok had already gotten the money from her bank with the help of another patron. Oh well, it's the thought that counts, right?

I have some pictures from my trip I'd like to share:

I had trouble hailing a cab from the airport, so I rented a bicycle instead. Here I am riding down the busy streets of Ougadougou on my way to the bank (I'm behind the guy in the green shirt).


I got lost once, but these fine military junta-types kindly told me where to go lest I was interested in "touring" their five-star detention center.


I eventually found the bank, which a) resembled a Check-n-Go sorta place and b) was closed.


Here's me and five other guys who had wanted to help Miss Nadia. I was still interested in meeting her, to let her know I had come all the way from America to help. One of them told me where I could find her brother, who was working out in the countryside at a French mission, and he might know where she was.


So I got back on my bike, drove through the capita
l (avoiding the military junta-types this time!) and found Miss Nadia's brother.


This is Miss Nadia's brother, Pedro. At first I thought it strange that an Ugandan would have a Mexican name, but given that his sister's is Russian, maybe it wasn't all that
strange after all. He explained his father always admired St Pedro Pio, and he was named after him. Pedro didn't know where his sister was, except that he had gotten a text message the day before which said "C ya, bro! Leaving 2day!" I thanked him for his time, but before I left, he asked if I knew anything about football. I said sure! I love football! He asked if I could step in and coach his cousin's team that afternoon, as he was feeling ill and didn't think he could make it. I had time before my return flight, so I said no problem.


So I got back on my bike and rode to the stadium.


Pedro lied! It wasn't football, it was soccer! I know nothing about soccer, and his cousin's team lost like 6-0 or something.


A riot broke out at the stadium after the game.


The military was called in.


I got back on my bike and hightailed it back to the airport.


And got safely on my flight, but not before I picked up some bling.

So how was your weekend?