Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Forced Out Into the Open

Greetings, all. If you are reading this, then you haven't given up on my meandering musings. If you aren't reading this, well, it still exists regardless of your having read it.

If you are wondering why I have been silent for so long, it's called life or something like it. I have been transferred to another parish and also teach high school in Oklahoma City. (That's why this will be short, mercifully, mercifully short.) I suppose I should get back out here and post something, but there are few hours left. How about this? I'll update what's happening personally once I finish at school today.

Who is it that forced me blinking into the light of the internet? Blame Shea.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Shameless Promotion of My Friends and Allies

Got to love Mark Shea.  Jolly dinner companion, able and artistic speaker, prodigious defender of Catholic things, great and small, and now, feature film actor.  Check out this link and then make plans to show this delightful movie.  I am anticipating this more than the summer movie run.

It's Back

This is a show I love because anyone who can turn a pile of cloth into clothes just amazes me.  Sorry, I guess I am easily amused.  The real question is will Gunn tan or burn in the L.A. sun?

Keep Drinking

Here I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, so I am going to float an observation past you all.  See what you think.

I have a lovely couple of friends who, for good or ill, are struggling with their weight.  I struggle with them because I don't know how to encourage or support them properly.  On one level, I do want to be of assistance to them; on the other, I know that they have to come to this realization themselves and I can't substitute my will for theirs.  But it saddens and troubles me nonetheless.  In terms of concrete action, I think I know what I need to do.

One of my friends, who is a friend of Bill W., once remarked that if someone isn't convinced that they need to stop drinking, they need to continue drinking.  I think it's the same here.  I can't convince them to change their eating and exercise habits; so they need to keep eating and not doing what is needed.  Then eventually that wake up call, probably of a cardiac nature, will have to suffice.

I almost changed my plans for Easter because of this but decided not to.  They have to decide what to do with the Easter baskets when they arrive.

UPDATE: Got hit with divine inspiration over the weekend.  Came up with a positive solution to the question at hand.  We are going to misdirect in the hopes of playing to a potential strength rather than confronting directly a weakness.  I'll update as warranted.

What Would Ignatius Do?

I took personal interest in this matter as I drove past St. Joseph's University on a regular basis during my illustrious term at St. Charles Seminary.  With that in mind, the word of the day is "vet" as in careful examination.  If this is what constitutes education in the Jesuit tradition, then it merely reinforces what I said when I was a naive newly minted Catholic seminarian.

A brother seminarian from New York City once observed, "You've got the brains; why not be a Jesuit?"  I replied, "Nah, I went to all the trouble of becoming a Catholic, why would I want to change?"

I have a solution for those who are interested.  If you want to reform Catholic higher education, do not give these school one more thin dime.  Not one penny more.  The first whiff of a problem, write a letter.  But if the response is anything other than "we didn't realize this person's stance," then not one more dime.  And if you are getting ready to send kids to college only send them to proper Catholic colleges, such as Christendom in VA.

Necessary Wish List That Amazon Cannot Provide

So, last week I lost 4.5 lbs.  This week, I'll be surprised if I lose anything.  It's been a stressful week, being Lent and all.  Also, a friend of the family's father is dying and I visited with them on Thursday.  It was rough to see them under those circumstances.  So, on a personal front, my focus has been all over the grid.  As I need to reset my brain and remotivate myself before going into the chaos of Holy Week and I will only get a bit of Kung Fu this week, I finally decided to put into words a list of things that I want to come as a reward from my weight loss journey.

For the last 2 years and 2 months, I have been struggling with the demon called food.  Actually, that's not fair.  The food isn't the problem.  It's the way I deal with stress and anxiety.  Because of my delightful childhood, I learned quickly to disconnect from my emotions just so I could get through the day.  The side effect though is that those feelings must be dealt with and I did it with food.  Not perfectly am I over this, but at least I can see it after the wave passes.  Life long good health and weight will come when I can catch the wave before it hits.  But that is neither here nor there.

The following list is a fantasy.  Yes, I would love for the producers of the Today show to find this and make it happen, but really folks, ain't going to happen.  So, I share them with you.  I don't expect anyone of you can make it happen, unless you know a television producer or six as you will see.  Like I said, some of this is over the top, but it really should tell you where I am right now in my journey.

10.) Style Consultation with either Tim Gunn or those two folks from "What Not To Wear."  Let's just face it.  I shouldn't be interested in fashion, men's or women's, but I am.  From an artistic point of view, it is about enhancement of your appearance, and not necessarily vanity.  A great $10 Tee can go a long way to improving an outfit.  Here's my issue.  Have grown up overweight, I have a weird body perception problem.  I can't visualize how my body looks.  That shouldn't surprise given I have lost 16 inches off my waist alone.  I don't have a sense of style.  That doesn't mean I am completely clueless about what looks good on me, but I would like some helpful feedback, some guidelines.

9.)  Appear on American Gladiators or some similar show.  Losing 156 lbs. has meant reclaiming my body and discovering a scary fact.  I am an athlete.  My body does respond in the right ways to injury and to exertion.  I can do lots of things that I never thought I could do.  Apart from weight lifting - I was already on that - I play tennis and am learning Kung Fu San Soo.  I still freak out a little when the Sifu says that I am a natural or that I am talented at this.  Therefore, I would like to put this new body to a little test.  Sadly, American Gladiators has been cancelled, but the BBC is still running theirs.  Battle across the pond anyone?

8.) Take on a physical challenge to raise money for a Catholic organization.  I am not sure that the Archbishop would excuse for the month or more that it would take to do this, but it would be cool nonetheless.

7.)  Get a book deal for my story.  Actually this one had better not happen as I haven't got my other book's edits finished yet.

6.) Train with Jet Li or Jackie Chan or other Kung Fu Grandmaster.  See number 9 for explanation.

5.)  Throw a really tremendous party for my friends.  This is one of those hobbit moments I have.  I see this weight loss health transformation as a rebirth.  I would like to reward all those friends who have prayed, supported, rallied, encouraged, and otherwise made the moment of achievement possible.  I already have my present in my health restored; it's my friends who deserve the treat.

4.)  Take a vacation that was primarily about roughing it.  Never camped, never did bike tours, but I think I would like to do that at least once.  Maybe a bike tour of England?

3.)  Meet Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  I have mentioned in another place how their friendship and the work they have done together reminded me of the essential role of friendship for sane living.  They were one of the wake-up calls I got to go on this journey.  Therefore, I would like to meet them at least once for more than a split second.  Simon's busy with impending baby but otherwise it would be fun.  I would like to put my skill at "Ooh, Ahh, Dracula" to test against Mr. Frost.  Under this one, can I add appearing in an action movie as an extra or a background thug or a Klingon soldier?  Simon, you'll put in a good word with J.J. won't you?

2.)  Appear on one of those fluffy daytime talk shows.  I think Regis and Kelly would be great.  Could do one segment with them then run down to Rockefeller Plaza for a brief appearance on Today.  Yes, some of you will say this is vain, and this time I am not going to deny it.  After all, I have a deucedly hard time taking compliments - this kind of information overload should break that, right?

1.)  Just keep the weight off.  For me, this weight loss is a dream that I am afraid I will wake from.  The greatest thing I could receive is never be more that 10 lbs. over my goal weight.  Given that my goal weight is 190 that would mean I would always be between 190 - 200.  That seems reasonable and sustainable.  If I bulk up, that would be fine too.  Hmm, maybe I should work in a percent body fat idea into this.  Either way, getting there is only a third of the battle.  The remaining 2/3 is staying there.

Anyway, these are the things that populate my head from time to time.

You Can't Have It Both Ways

In for a penny, in for a pound as the old saying goes.  I knew that once I commented on the Obama/Notre Dame flap, I knew I would find a thousand more articles that would demand my attention.  Sigh!  Okay, here's the next piece.

William Daley has decided to come to the aid of our dear President because of the mean ol' Cardinal George calling Obama's visit precisely what it is - a scandal and a travesty.  Hilariously, Daley doesn't make a blasted lick o' sense from start to finish.  Let's start with this comment: "I believe Cardinal George's stand is an embarrassment to Chicago Catholics and furthers the divide among the church, its members and the rest of America." Well, duh! What does Daley think the nature of the Church is; to be some sort of civil club for people who want to talk to their invisible friends on Sunday, but then have that conversation have no effect on what happens the rest of the week. (Sorry, Chris Hitchens took me over for a moment.) That Catholics would be divided over the moral stance of our president is first insulting and then depressing. It's insulting because it creates this Marxist vision of the Church where the average parish is just waiting to erupt into open warfare between the theological haves and have-nots, who are oppressed in some way by the Church. It's depressing because there is some degree of accuracy in the observation that, as in every age, there are those in the Church, and I am first on the list, who resist the converting power of the Gospel. I want the Church to be right when I am right and I like being right. I don't want the Church to be right when I am wrong. (Hat tip to G.K. for the last witticism.)

Then Daley moves onto the classic saw for Catholic higher education, diversity of opinions. Now, I am all for diversity of opinion in fields of study. Personally, the scientific fields of environmental engineering could use some more dissenting voices in reference to global warming. But the instant the word "Catholic" goes up in front of the university, you become obliged to stand with the Church and to represent what the Church teaches. This is part of the Church's prophetic role. What the president is not promoting is an idea; what Obama promotes is the death of his own constituents. Paging Pol Pot! Frankly, Daley hasn't thought this through. If students want to hear another opinion about this subject, they need only turn on the television. Also, let's just look at this from an academic standard. If I hire a teacher who teaches that 2+2=5 and thinks this represents proper math, then he gets fired. If a professor teaches that a Catholic could condone abortion or for that matter, that Jesus wasn't truly God and Man, then this person needs to be fired because they DON'T HAVE BASIC COMPETENCY TO TEACH. Further, to invoke the idea of diversity of opinions in this context totally bogus. After all, the President is giving a speech and receiving an honorary degree. He's not there to teach a course in some department. Hmm, might someone misunderstand this action as supporting and giving, at minimum tacit approval, of the president's agenda?

Now, we get to the good stuff. Daley moves on to the meaning of morality. Sorry for the long quote but it is priceless. He writes: "To imply that the president should not be invited to speak at Notre Dame because he disagrees with the church on two specific issues promotes a very narrow view of what constitutes morality. As someone who has been fortunate to work closely with Obama, I consider him to be a person of strong moral character. He is a person of faith, a strong family man and has devoted his life to public service when he could have put his Harvard law degree to more selfish pursuits." I want to take this one sentence at a time.  

1.) Morality, unfortunately, is not an essay exam. You can't get some of it right and some of it wrong and still make a passing grade. Since Daley claims to be a Catholic, I am surprised this got past him. After all, morality is both the avoidance of evil and the embracing of the good. It's odd that Mr. Daley didn't make the focus of the conversation all the good that abortion does for women and children. That way, he could really show that the Cardinal was in the dark. Oops, Daley can't do that because abortion doesn't render any good to the individual, neither mother, father nor child, or to the society at large. I wonder how Mr. Daley would respond if a racist ideologue had been invited to speak at Notre Dame. Would we hear about narrow morality then?
2.) Obama is a person of strong moral character based on what? Your opinion, Mr. Daley? If that's the case, then you really are seeking a job promotion, but that job is already taken. However, if Christ tires of being the judge of the living and the dead, I'll see what I can do to put a good word in for you.
3.) This is a strong family man? That's curious, given Obama has publicly stated that if one of his daughters were to get pregnant he would be fine with their choice to abort the child. So, he is strong on immediate family, but not so much on extended family. Further, using his powers for good doesn't excuse some other evil. Mr. Daley read or rent "Watchmen" if you don't understand how that works.

The really galling part comes at the end when Daley brings up the idea of common morality. The problem though is the groups he lists can't come to a common morality because of fundamentally different world views. He has confused ethics (primarily a sphere of philosophy) with morality (primarily a sphere of religion). If he wants to argue for the natural law, fine. Answer me this, Mr. Daley, which is preferable: existence or non-existence? How you answer that answers the abortion debate, at least in part, from an ethical view.

It is totally apt coming into Holy Week that we have Daley effectively making a case for some Catholics by saying, "We have no king but Caesar." This is not a mix of politics and religion; this is the confluence of reality versus delusion. I don't have to be a person of religion to think that abortion is a travesty and a horror. A brief consultation with a medical textbook suffices.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Good and Faithful

As the tide of voices rises in opposition to the full fledged ridiculous actions of Notre Dame University, I am pleased to note my own Archbishop has thrown his hat, ... well, his miter, into the ring.  See here for the actual letter sent to Fr. Jenkins.  Please make sure the Archbishop knows of your prayers and your support for him because his public witness.

In other episcopal stand up news, Bishop Doran of Rockford has shown a bit of sharp wit about Notre Dame.  I would consider this truth in advertising, but problematic.  After all, all those universities in the Jesuit tradition would have to take a similar name and then how could you tell them all apart.  Personally, I would vote for "We Have No King But Caesar Private University."

I would have gotten into this fray a bit earlier but I was on other business.  Let me head something off at the pass though.  Some people have observed that Obama wasn't invited by the university per se but by some other organelle of the university.  If that is true, then the proper course of action is altered.  First, you fire that clueless, flat footed person who clearly doesn't understand what Catholic teaching is.  Second, you sit everyone down who is involved with that organelle of the university and you scrutinize everything they do, because clearly they are not on board with the mission of Catholic education.  Third, depending on the outcome of your investigation, you can reorganize, redefine, or obliterate that organelle so that it no longer takes any resources away from the university.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tangled Up and Bruised

Just when you thought there wasn't another thing I could on my weight loss journey, I have crossed a new personal bridge.  I started taking Kung Fu instruction.  Frighteningly, I like it; more frighteningly, I think I am good at it.  That's what the Sifu tells me.  (Sifu = instructor).  The aftermath is something less than desirable.

Today, as I was doing my morning abultions, I looked down at my feet.  There was a perfect round bruise on my right foot, just below the pinkie toe.  This is a match to the spot rubbed raw on my left leg above the ankle.  And let's not discuss how much my back side hurts.  Needless to say, I am finding a lot of new parts of my anatomy in a very unpleasant way.

The point here is give mad props to two guys who took me under their collective wings.  Their names are Michael McCall and Ralph Latimer.  Ralph is the sifu and Michael serves as my supportive older brother.  My training with these two men has been a work of Providence and I am grateful to have made their acquaintance.  You'll have to poll them to see if they feel the same way.  They have been very patient with my limited abilities and they are working hard to get me to see that I have great athletic abilities.

That was a really hard sentence to write.  It's a total personality and perspective shift to add another whole aspect to your self-identity.  You would think that losing 150 lbs. would be enough to make that clear, but it's not.  It's so much more.  

Growing up fat as  I did and feeling like no one took me seriously, made me feel like the side kick in my own story.  It's like being Batman but the episode focused on Robin.  I'm supposed to be the hero but because of self - imposed limitations, I ended up being a second stringer.  When my friends and I, as children, would play at superheroes, I could never be the dashing one, the physically powerful one.  I couldn't run and climb like the other boys could.  But I wanted to be Batman.  I wanted to do all those other things, but I just gave up that I could.  Kung Fu is opening my eyes, that Batman was just biding his time.

That I am learning how to defend myself, that I am connecting to something that I thought of as only a pipe dream, that I am mastering an ancient combat art, all that is really enlightening and empowering.  Because of my two buddies, they have opened my eyes to a whole new vista of my self.  I can't thank them enough.  

But you could thank them for me.  You see these guys are training me for free (they're both Knights, don't ya know, and this falls, in their way of thinking, under supporting the clergy.  If they wouldn't throw me on the ground so often, I wouldn't need the support or the Advil.)  If you an Oklahoma City reader, look these guys up.  You can read more about the school here.

If you don't live in the Oklahoma City environs, then just pray for them.  They are two great guys - more of those brothers from other mothers I keep encountering.  This one's for you, Michael and Ralph.  I couldn't have found a better Sifu and big brother to be tangled up and bruised with.

Caveat Emptor

Good morning, all.  Yes, I am back from a moment of quasi-exile.  It's more inattention and loss of focus than out and out leaving the planet.  Hope you missed me.

I realized that a really great way to get ready for my appearance on Morning Air would be to put up a synopsis of my thoughts here.  I enjoy the interaction between Sean and I so I don't really want to "script" out all of my nuggets of joy.  The following is segment one.

Because I am a crafty consumer, one who doesn't want to spend money unnecessarily, and my college-aged niece is interested in marketing, I have been looking closely at commercials lately.  Specifically, I have been looking for what the product is really trying to sell.  You see, I wouldn't care, if product X tried to sell itself based solely on the merits of the product.  In reality, no product sells itself solely on that principle.  There is a pitch behind the pitch and that is what is really being sold.  

Take for instance, Pop Tarts.  The delightful cartoon child comes skipping down the stairs and joyfully gets up in the morning because the aroma of the toaster pastry drew him from the embrace of sleep.  (Oh, if it were only that easy.) Then the voice over guy mentions how much your children will like Pop Tarts and that because Pop Tarts filling is made from real fruit, this makes it a great breakfast choice.  What's being sold here.
1.  Health - the plea to fruit in the fruit filling implies the idea that this is some sort of substitute for a cup of strawberries.  If you look at the bottom of the screen, in 4 - 6 pt. font, the company states that the filling is about 10% fruit.  Robert Klein used to have a remarkably vulgar comeback, asking what the other 90% was, at least in reference to fruit juice.
2.  Good parenting - notice that the implication here is parents should make kids breakfast, but what will those little scamps eat?  Here come the magic Pop-Tarts to the rescue.  If you buy these, then you are a good parent.  Nothing like get a pat on the head by a faceless multinational corporation.
3.  Happiness - this is the crusher.  At the end of the commercial, after the cartoon boy has eaten the pop tart, an enormous heart appears over his head.  The implication is that the boy loves his mommy and now is filled with happiness because her gift of Pop Tarts has fulfilled his existence.  Parents need this pressure because parenting is so easy.  Eddie Murphy had a bit in his stand up act about growing up poor and not being able to go to McDonald's.  Instead his mom would make him a hamburger, and it wasn't the "pretty" product.  Looking back on this, I see that his mom was more loving because she took the time to make this and out of limited resources.

Ready for another example?  How about those contraception ads for YAZ?  How I hate these ads!  Frankly, I hate all the ads for medicine on television.  I am supposed to be well-informed and make informed choices about medical decisions, but it's my doctor's raison de etre to prescribe the appropriate medicine; it's my job to ask about side effects and counterindications, not make suggestions!  But the contraception stuff is the worst!

YAZ had to publish a retraction because their medicine didn't do what they had claimed it could do in a previous ad.  The FDA, presumably, insisted that they clarify this issue.  Now, if I were doing that, I would set in it a serious environment, a doctor's office, springs it mind.  Where does this ad show up?  In the same nightclub the previous ad did.  Even as they retract they are saying, "Does our drug seem fun?!"  What rubbish.  The real question every woman who has considering using YAZ should ask themselves is "what else are you not telling me, you corporate shill?"

Just a little reminder from your friendly neighborhood Ragemonkey, let the buyer beware.  

Monday, January 05, 2009

Depends Upon Where You Are Sitting

To the people of Detroit, congratulations. To the people of Oakland, commiserations (that is, until the replacement is named.)

Now, you are free to speculate about who is going to Oakland. Just don't put my name into the hopper, please. I just got my rectory in order.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Kingdom Not of This World

I was chatting with a couple of friends over lunch about the uselessness of Dan Brown's writing and general sense of history. Personally, if he wanted to make amends for the literary abuses he's inflicted, he could offer a literary award for worthy writing; it's like Nobel's effort to make up for the discovery of dynamite. The centerpiece of that conversation had to do with the existence of the Vatican. Simply put, until you get to Girabaldi and Mussolini, there is no Vatican. I don't know what the hang-up with the word "Vatican" is, but it does seem popular.

This news report from BBC Online should remind readers that the Vatican is not the same thing as any other secular power. It strives to accomplish the work of the Church universal by coordinating various efforts and necessary administrative tasks. Therefore, I can understand exactly why the Vatican is now trying to distance itself from the downward spiral of the Italian government. Given the general instability of the Italian government, I'm surprised that the severing didn't come sooner.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Greetings, all. A Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a joyous whatever-other-holiday I might overlook. Welcome also the new followers of this blog as well. Glad you have found a warm cave in the otherwise cold expanse that is the internets.

Looking at the last check-in date, you'll notice I have been away from writing for a fair bit. No big surprise given the chaotic schedule that Advent and Christmas engenders. Not that the firestorm is largely over, with only Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord to go, I am getting out of my tired mode right before I have to plow into Lent.

The other issue though is that I haven't felt like writing. Not to worry, faithful reader; it isn't a cancellation notice. It's more of an acknowledgment. Coming back to blogging after the break neck pace I have maintained just isn't going to happen. Whatever has changed in me in the last several months, this is a big thing: I am slowing down. More things that occur to me seem important only to me and really not for public consumption. I find myself mulling on things, trying to see the event or the interaction for what it is and understanding it. Usually, this means that when I get whipped into a frenzy, it has been building (last night, visiting with some brother priests for example).

With all that said, it is a new year and time to get back to business. After I straighten up the rectory and hit the treadmill, I'll run down, if you are interested the sequence of homilies I have offered to my parishes over the Christmastide. I might also regale you with tales of interest concerning an upcoming appearance in OKC and my book which continues marching with the insistence of the Little Engine that Could while not having the punctuality of a Mussolini project. To tide you over, here are my New Year's Resolutions. Think of them as a natural order Examination of Conscience.

1. Read for at least an hour a day.
I am working my way through Steve Martin's analysis of his career as a stand-up and if you think his performances are funny, you have a treat waiting for you in Martin the writer. Spare and almost angular in the style, it treats his career to a vetting that allows the casual observer to understand what and why his career went the ways it did. I was surprised to find out about his association with the Smothers Brothers and Sonny and Cher. Free from gossip, Martin gives the back stage glimpse that many long for. I hope that he will follow up with a treatment of his film career up to present.

2. Go to Confession more regularly.
Don't let this one surprise you. The intent here is to be deliberate and planned in my confessions. Normally I go as part of spiritual direction but then there are times (Advent and Lent) where I get off the beam. Not good for my growth in the Spiritual Life.

3. Get to my goal weight and stay there.
This is an ongoing battle for me and thanks to Weight Watchers, I am getting there. So many good things have come from my association with this program that I can barely list them. I can't recommend it too highly. I am currently about 40 lbs. from goal and I have lost 145 lbs. to date. This week hasn't been good, but that's okay because it's just one week. Hopefully, I will be at goal by May before my trip to the Holy Land and then I can work on staying between 188-192 lbs. until this time next year. Who knows? Maybe I'll try to get ripped and get a part time job on the UK version of American Gladiators as "Crusader."

4. Spend more time with my brother priests.
Here's a place where I have really missed the boat. I need to work on building bonds of friendship or at minimum "collegue"ness with the men of my Archdiocese. Probably wouldn't hurt to extend some time to the guys in Tulsa as well.

And that's it for now. (That's enough personally.) Check back later for more info.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I know that this is not our president-elect's fault that these are coming out. It is the fault of our culture who can't tell secular messianism from true messianism, either of a Christian or Jewish stripe.

The article comes from Reuters online
. This is particularly apt given we are in the season of Advent. As we read the prophet Isaiah, we must recognize within its pages the same dichotomy that is present in our culture. The desire of the people was for security from Babylon by siding with former temporal enemies such as Egypt. The king is tempted to do likewise because he can't see the way in which he can defend the land. So, the prophet appears and calls them to stand with the Lord. Sadly, the period ends with Exile for both the Northern and Southern Kingdom.

Ask yourself this question: do I only profess with my lips "Christ is King" while my actions proclaim "I have no King but Caesar"?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Take That, Axl!

Talk about missing your moment. When you wait 17 years between albums, people might have moved on to other stuff. What I love is that in the UK, a trio of singing Catholic priests beat GnR. That's the best part.

A Case for the Infant Jesus of Prague

Please pray for this Eastern Rite priest and his family. This is a sad situation and will be most difficult. As the season of Advent, let us be reminded that the wood of the cradle is the wood of the Cross. These little girls are living that truth right now.

The Last Acceptible Prejudice Revisited

I have been gratified by Fr. Longenecker's writing over the last several months and this thoughtful piece has much to commend it. The main thing that drew me to the article was the link headline "Will lapsed Catholics become the next anti-Catholics?" To be fair, there are lots of reasons for lapsing from the practice of the Faith. It seems to me the problems crop up when one lapses from the doctrines of the Faith. That can happen even when people still publicly go to Mass, etc.

Here's the punchline: the degree to which we don't adhere the totality of our lives to the Faith we profess, we are anti-Catholic. The absence of our witness turns hearts away from Christ, so as the Gospel, we all must be watchful of the state of our hearts.


Okay, here's your task after reading this column. Figure out three practical things you could do in your parish to replicate this effect there. I'll give you one to start with: promote marriage as the seedbed for all vocations through the promotion of Theology of the Body and NFP.

Now it's your turn.

Bargain Bin

In seminary, we used to say, "If you have to explain why you own something to a parishioner, you probably shouldn't own it." That issue came up when I mentioned how much I like BMW and would love to buy one used. The image, however, created of Father, rolling up in his Beemer effectively showed me, at least, why that won't work. However, if this is true, and the car goes on sale, could I have one then?

Probably not; the insurance would be a beast.

There Is One Savior of the World and He Doesn't Have Mouse Ears

I wanted to disagree with the good abbot about his comments found here but upon examination I think he is on to something. Essentially, if I am reading him correctly, the problem is not that Disney stories don't point to the essential truths about greed and other vices; the problem is that Disney suggests, according to him, the solution to these vices are found in Disney stores. If that's the case, and I would debate a bit, then he's on to something. The good stuff in those movies should prompt one to ask, what is it that really matters? Why is greed wrong, e.g.? The material, like all fairy tales, prompts to look for the essential, the ontological meaning of things.

However, I think the abbot is probably mixing issues here. The stores present their own faults that are independent in a certain sense from the movie. The problem I would suggest is simpler. The temptation for Disney and other like them (I'm looking at you, Warner Brothers) is to jettison the moral messages in favor of a commercially more viable product. Mark Kermode, BBC's movie critic, refers to this move as the "Bay-ification" of movies, where everything like, plot, characters, is jettisoned in favor of explosions and fast action. It's a parallel issue.

With all this said, this gives me good hope for the Church in my ancestral lands. The abbot here is mentioned as a contender to replace Cormac-Murphy and this attention to what's happening in the culture could set the stage for a nice revival of a compelling Catholic witness in the U.K.

St. George, the Dragon-Slayer, pray for us.