Monday, January 19, 2009

Speaking Italian

Quote of the Day

From Thomas Reynolds's Vulnerable Communion:

"Neediness, vulnerability, or lack of ability is not a flaw detracting from an otherwise pure and complete human nature. Rather, it is testimony to the fact that our nature involves receiving our existence from each other."

Christianity as superstition?

Lately, more and more, I've heard those not partial to religious belief describe it as "superstition" or as a "hobby." Mind you, this is done with complete compassion and condescension. One professor, quoted in the film Expelled, referred to religious belief as "knitting" and that he wouldn't want to take that away from anybody, but at the same time God does not exist and so, while you may keep that hobby of yours that is comforting and recreational, know that it has no bearing on reality.
I think that it is a common trait of "humanness" to have superstitious thought or contrive pieces of a belief system to attain some comfort, regardless of the worldview; however! Magisterial Christian theology and morality is absolutely NOT based on being comforted, at least not in the "knitting" sort of way. There is great paradoxical comfort. In giving of your self, you receive. In dying to self, you gain eternal life. Looking to the stars to determine your future is completely different than acknowledging and behaving in a way that underscores the reality that your decisions have an impact in your life and the life of others and given that, we have some ultimate responsibilities. Fulfilling these responsibilities is in no way a recreational activity. It seems to me that the 'godless' view is the cop-out. What did atheism ever do for anybody?

Awesome New Video!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Are we continuing the 'Will to Disbelieve?'

I am completely amazed by the continual 'finding out' of pioneers in the birth control or abortion platform that have done a 180 in light of empirical evidence, personal experience, or spiritual conversion (or all of the above) and have left these horrid, inhumane ideas by the wayside.
Yet another brave soul steps up and takes responsibility for his role in this frightening plague on the meaning of personhood.
Click here for the article.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wafa Sultan's Famous Interview

According to a "quiz" on FB:

What Action Hero Am I?

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars)
You are smart and kind. You aren't mean to anyone and always think ahead. You don't like war but you aren't a hippie. You only use violence in defence and only rarely hurt people. You are worried about your friends and you are very honorable and obey your master.

(I can't believe how accurate it is!!)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Last printed words of Fr. Neuhaus

As of this writing, I am contending with a cancer, presently of an unknown origin. I am, I am given to believe, under the expert medical care of the Sloan-Kettering clinic here in New York. I am grateful beyond measure for your prayers storming the gates of heaven.
Be assured that I neither fear to die nor refuse to live. If it is to die, all that has been is but a slight intimation of what is to be. If it is to live, there is much that I hope to do in the interim. After the last round with cancer fifteen years ago, I wrote a little book, As I Lay Dying (titled after William Faulkner after John Donne), in which I said much of what I had to say about the package deal that is mortality.
I did not know that I had much more to learn. And yes, the question has occurred to me that, if I have but a little time to live, should I be spending it writing this column. I have heard it attributed to figures as various as Brother Lawrence and Martin Luther--when asked what they would do if they knew they were going to die tomorrow, they answered that they would plant a tree and say their prayers. (Luther is supposed to have added that he would quaff his favored beer.) Maybe I have, at least metaphorically, planted a few trees, and certainly I am saying my prayers.
Who knew that at this point in life I would be understanding, as if for the first time, the words of Paul, "When I am weak, then I am strong"? This is not a farewell. Please God, we will be pondering together the follies and splendors of the Church and the world for years to come. But maybe not. In any event, when there is an unidentified agent in your body aggressively attacking the good things your body is intended to do, it does concentrate the mind.
The entirety of our prayer is "Your will be done"--not as a note of resignation but of desire beyond expression. To that end, I commend myself to your intercession, and that of all the saints and angels who accompany us each through time toward home.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rest In Peace, Fr. Neuhaus

We will miss you so much! No one could ever take your place. May you be taken swiftly into the arms of our Loving Father and may you be an even stronger advocate for us in Heaven.

Fr. Neuhaus on death:
"We are born to die. Not that death is the purpose of our being born, but we are born toward death, and in each of our lives the work of dying is already underway. The work of dying well is, in largest part, the work of living well. Most of us are at ease in discussing what makes for a good life, but we typically become tongue-tied and nervous when the discussion turns to a good death. As children of a culture radically, even religiously, devoted to youth and health, many find it incomprehensible, indeed offensive, that the word “good” should in any way be associated with death. Death, it is thought, is an unmitigated evil, the very antithesis of all that is good.
Death is to be warded off by exercise, by healthy habits, by medical advances. What cannot be halted can be delayed, and what cannot forever be delayed can be denied. But all our progress and all our protest notwithstanding, the mortality rate holds steady at 100 percent.

Death is the most everyday of everyday things. It is not simply that thousands of people die every day, that thousands will die this day, although that too is true. Death is the warp and woof of existence in the ordinary, the quotidian, the way things are. It is the horizon against which we get up in the morning and go to bed at night, and the next morning we awake to find the horizon has drawn closer. From the twelfth-century Enchiridion Leonis comes the nighttime prayer of children of all ages: 'Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take.' Every going to sleep is a little death, a rehearsal for the real thing."

from Wiki:
Richard John Neuhaus (May 14, 1936 – January 8, 2009) was a prominent Catholic priest and writer born in Canada and living in the United States, where he had become a naturalized United States citizen. He was the founder and editor of the monthly journal First Things and the author of several books, including The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America (1984), The Catholic Moment: The Paradox of the Church in the Postmodern World (1987), and Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth (2006).

One could only dream to write like you do... so grateful you've left us so much!

Please see the First Things website for more information.

answering the call...

He's going to the same seminary Fr. Kevin went to!! :) Our prayers are with you, Chase!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Role of Conscience in Medicine

Speakers Farr Curlin, (Catholic physician pictured above,) an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, and Martha Swartz, an attorney and adjunct professor of law at Rutgers School of Law-Camden, present the topic The Role of Conscience in Medicine at the Center for Law, Health, and Society at Georgia State University.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Legally Blonde

Determined to dazzle the boyfriend (Matthew Davis) who dumped her for a smarter girl, a flighty sorority co-ed (Reese Witherspoon) ends up attending Harvard Law School alongside him. As directed by Robert Luketic, Witherspoon makes the predictable, frivolous film stand out even when the light-hearted ``dumb blonde'' jokes fade. Some mild sexual references with a smattering of crass language and an instance of profanity. A-II (PG-13) 2001

Rocky Balboa

Sixth and ostensibly final round in the "Rocky" saga, in which former heavyweight champ Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), now a widower, estranged from his son (Milo Ventimiglia) and running a restaurant, comes out of retirement, stepping into the ring against the current champ (Antonio Tarver) to prove he has plenty of heart left in his aging body. Written and directed by Stallone, this new chapter is arguably the best in the series since the 1976 original, emphasizing character and emotional drama over fight action, while imparting an inspirational message about perseverance and giving it your all, win or lose. Some bloody boxing violence and a few mildly crude expressions. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) 2006

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Provocative documentary intended to show that academics and research scientists are penalized for merely suggesting that there might be flaws in the prevailing theory of Neo-Darwinian evolution and that purported scientific evidence for the alternate theory of intelligent design is being systematically ignored. Director Nathan Frankowski's unabashedly partisan film -- using old movie clips to humorously underscore the film's themes of suppression and duplicity, and with at least some of the interviewees seemingly caught off guard by the line of questioning -- is impishly hosted and co-written by former presidential speechwriter, economist and sometime actor Ben Stein. Holocaust imagery and mature philosophical issues. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) 2008

Friday, January 2, 2009

Great minds think alike... :)

Spirit Of The Season
More Virgin Mary, Less Virgin Islands
by the Rev. James Martin
All Things Considered, NPR
December 17, 2008 ·

It's the middle of the day, and I'm opening my Christmas cards. And what do I see when I tear open the envelope? Not Baby Jesus in his manger. Not the Virgin Mary. Not even the Wise Men. No, chances are the card will be a photo of a family on some beach in the Caribbean. Or a picture of somebody's house. Or someone's dog wearing reindeer horns.

These are the new favorite Christmas cards, for even the most pious Christians: the family cards.

Family cards display — on the front — a photo of a happy family, typically wearing red-and-green scarves or red-and-green sweaters. Sometimes the family dog is included, wearing a scarf covered with slobber. Just as often, family cards show the clan on their summer vacation, posing jauntily in bathing suits in the Caribbean. These cards don't say "Merry Christmas" as much as "Look where you didn't go!"

Look, I love family photos during the holidays. Plus, I actually read those annual holiday letters, all of which start with "What a busy year it's been!" Seeing photos of my friends and their families and even enjoying a few sunny beach scenes when it's cold and dark outside is a highlight of December.

But I enjoy the photos more when they're inside the card, not the card itself. Because more and more, even devout Christians have been replacing Jesus, Mary and Joseph with themselves. Doesn't it strike you as weird to set aside the Holy Family in favor of your family? Does a photo of Cabo San Lucas trump the story told by the original San Lucas? Is Christmas really about you?

Still unconvinced? Try a thought experiment. For your next birthday, how would you feel about getting a birthday card with my photo on it? "Happy Birthday! It's a photo of me!" My modest campaign against family cards has less chance of success than another Ralph Nader presidential bid. People will accuse me of being anti-family. But I'm not: I'm more pro-Holy Family. Plus, I'm battling Snapfish, Shutterfly, Kodak and a lot of online card stores that have been promoting this idea with more resources than a poor Jesuit can muster.

So I'll leave you with a simple plea. Place those great photos inside the card. Or how about this: When choosing your Christmas cards this year, think more Jesus and less you. Or, more Virgin Mary, and less Virgin Islands.

The Rev. James Martin is a Jesuit priest and author of My Life with the Saints.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Brett Dennen 30 Jan 09 at Variety Playhouse

Ray and I are going to our first non-classical concert since... well, actually, I think since Soul Miner's Daughter in 1999.
I'll let you know how it goes... :)