Monday, September 28, 2009

Before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken. 40 Days for Life - Day 6

I was caught by today's scripture passage, from Ecclesiastes. Then went on to Rev. Stallworth's commentary on it, very lucid.

When I was in 8th grade, I did my final English project on death. I remember typing out Tennyson's poem, Crossing of the Bar, and pasting a picture of a sunset to illustrate it. The old fashioned cut and paste. And I was way too young to appreciate the poem. But I liked it.


That knowing the shortness of life, all may value it
more deeply.


Remember your Creator before the silver cord is
loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher
shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the
well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it
was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

-- Ecclesiastes 12:6-7

REFLECTION by Rev. Paul Stallsworth, Lifewatch

God is giver of all life. Short lived or long lived,
human lives are lived out in this world. The
metaphors for death are many. But their meaning is
clear and singular: all will die. Even so, death is
not the absolute end. It is not the end of the story.
For as certainly as God gave life, at death the life
or spirit that God gave returns to God.

By God, we are created. For God, we live our given
days. To God, we return at the end of our earthly
days. And with God, we live through eternity.
Clearly, all along the way, this gracious, loving God
is with us. No human life is random or alone. No
human life was created without purpose. Not one human
life is without destiny.

All human lives, acknowledged or not, are related to
God -- from beginning, to end, throughout eternity.
Therefore, in this world, all human lives are to be
respected and protected, for their lives are signs of
God's sovereignty.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Christoph Ryderer Anti Depression Video

We get a kick out of making Baby Simon giggle - this is kick-X-4. It's only a minute long so go ahead and click!

Tip of the hat to Richard Chonak for sharing it in Facebook.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meanwhile, back on planet Supernatural, Dean hangs out with Castiel after splitting up with Sam...

Supernatural has its angelology completely screwed up. Still, the "Sam and Dean Show" is one of my guiltiest pleasures on tv.

The brothers "broke up" last week, over Sammy's starting the Apocalypse at the end of last season. So last night Dean was hanging out with the laconic angel Castiel. Who disappeared for a bit. Leading to this non-sequitur (since Jerusalem figures in the current plot line not at all):
Dean: Where have you been?

Castiel: Jerusalem.

Dean: How was it?

Castiel: Arid.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Live baby being treated in hospital

Dead baby, aborted.

If the photos of aborted fetuses are so horrible, is not the act itself even more so?

Pro-life sign-holder attacked in Arizona.

Tip of the hat to Gina P. on Facebook.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fr. Barron comments on Sen. Edward Kennedy

I thought Fr. Barron's comments on Ted Kennedy in this video are about as expressive of my own thoughts as could be, except for the fact that I'm Italian Catholic and not Irish. What a very sad middle part where he reads Sen. Kennedy's 1971 reply to a letter asking him his position on abortion.

The wicked and the just - and what's this about intimacy with the Triune God?

Here's today's first reading:
Reading 1

Wis 2:12, 17-20

The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

So I have been reading Simon Tugwell on forgiveness. He reminds us that we can't expect to get too intimate with the Persons of God if we hate and refuse forgiveness to other sinners like ourselves, whom God has forgiven and who are beloved to Him.

Tugwell points out that this isn't a wimpy, soft version of forgiveness that glosses over the hurts inflicted on others by sin.

So I'm looking at this first reading and trying to integrate the concept of "the wicked" with the reality of all of us being sinners in the same boat.
The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Seen in light of the truth that the just and the wicked are all sinners, I interpret this as a fair description of how we human beings treat one another on a day to day basis. Nobody wants to hear himself criticized. It is particularly annoying to be criticized by somebody whose criticisms are correct. So we lash out at our critics. We really ought to be kissing their feet -- our friends are not likely to point out our faults the way our critics are!
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
This gets more personal and more involved in the war between good and evil that takes place on both the natural and supernatural level. Now we bring God into the mix. Now we want to put the pressure on our critics, see if their criticisms are valid or if we can prove that they are nothing but hot air. Will God back them up, if we turn on the animosity and the violence towards them?
With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.
Now we get to the point. "He trusted in God, let God take him down from that cross." From a description of how we lash out at our critics who tell the truth (for whatever motivation), we come to a description of how we sinners treated the truly Just One, the Christ. We tested both the Just Critic and his God, to see if our tormenting of the flesh and spirit of a perfectly just man could call forth a powerful act of defense on the part of the immortal, invisible, God only wise.

We, like Herod, wanted to see a manifestation of the glory of the Lord. We taunted him, by killing his Christ.

"Come on out of Your light inaccessible, hid from our eyes. Reveal Yourself!"

But Jesus died his bloody death on the Cross and nobody came to save him!

When we demonize and torture our critics, are we really trying to put the Triune God to the test? Do we want him to get so pissed off that He breaks His usual modus operandi and comes right out and wipes out the wicked and defends the just ones and makes His power visible to all?

Is that what all the animosity in our nation is about? Are we unconsciously trying to bring about the great and terrible Day of Yahweh?

I don't think it will work. We're probably not as wicked as we think we (or our enemies) are. Or as just.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Farewell to Ocean City, NJ and a wonderful week with Ed and Ellen Lafferty

I am getting ready to leave Ocean City, NJ where Ed and Ellen Lafferty generously shared their annual beach vacation with me. Ellen is one of the Pious Ladies - she and I, with Debra Hosey and Diane Naylor, have been getting together regularly once a month for food, fun and fellowship since 1984. Ed and Ellen invited us all to OC this month, but I was the only one lucky enough to be able to accept their invitation.

I experienced an epiphany with Ed and Ellen, and it had nothing to do with the beach, which I love. It had to do with "communion". Below is an excerpt from The Gospel Lives in Me, Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry's blog for the Pauline Cooperators. Sr. Margaret Charles is our Fearless Leader, national director of the Cooperators.

As I was reading her blog this morning, it occurred to me that I had experienced communion with Ed and Ellen in a totally unexpected way this week. I don't quite know how to express it.

The three of us had never spent time together before. We had a beautiful beach house they'd rented with two master bedrooms set like mirror images of each other on either side of a central kitchen-living room-dining room area. So we had lots of privacy, but we had lots of together time. And somehow, some defenses of mine came down and I felt COMFORTABLE and WELCOMED as I rarely feel except with very close friends or family.

What did we do? Very little. An evening on the porch looking out at the Atlantic ocean, dining, imbibing wine and coffee, speaking of shoes and ships and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings

An afternoon on the boardwalk. Making chicken cacciatore for them. Watching Ellen make flounder and chicken for us. Beach fudge. Beach fries. Milkshake for Ellen. Knife with a perfect heft for Ed. Piccini's pasta for me.

Bitching and moaning at the stupidity of the world. Merrily and confidently solving said problems of the world. Evening prayer on the porch, Atlantic ocean and New Jersey sky, Ellen's candle.
A week with a couple whose coupledom I know not at all, one half of whom was close friend and one half of whom was long-time acquaintance, turned into a revelatory experience of communion. And I don't know how. But I thank God, and I thank Ellen and Ed, for the serendipity of this week.
Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in Introduction to Christianity that “Christian faith is more than the option of a spiritual ground to the world,; its central formula is not ‘I believe in something,’ but ‘I believe in you.’ It is the encounter with the man Jesus, and in this encounter is experienced the meaning of the world as person.” Jesus, he continues, is God’s witness through whom the intangible has become tangible.
Each of us has to ask the question: “Are you really he?” as we experience the darkness and indifference of the world. This question is an assertion that we want to know and love him more and more so we can confess: “I believe in you, Jesus, as the meaning of the world and of my life.”
Fr. Crespi, S.S.P. writes: before carrying out mission it is necessary to promote a spirituality of communion. Then we answer the deep needs of the world knowing our brothers and sisters in the profundity of the mystical Body, in the mystery of the Trinity. The great program, Alberione says, is the one of the tabernacle: From here I will illuminate. We are light in the measure we live in communion with God. “I am the light of the world, you are the light of the world” Jn. 1:4. This is the mission entrusted to us. We are called to radiate God, to diffuse God’s light.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rest in peace, Jim Pouillon

Jill Stanek writes about Jim Pouillon, the pro-life activist murdered outside of a high school last week.

I was impressed when I met Jill at a pro-life dinner several years ago. She told the story of how she became a pro-life activist after finding a baby gasping its life out in a laundry room at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, IL after being aborted alive. When she brought it to the attention of others, she was told that now and then it happens, and they just let the baby die off to the side. She worked hard to help craft, find support for, and then bring to passage the federal"Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2001", a bill then-Senator Obama voted against as did the other legislators committed to extreme right to abortion philosophy.

As someone who regularly holds signs of aborted fetuses outside of a Planned Parenthood in Wilmington, Delaware, I was sorry to see Pouillon's murder given such short shrift in the media, especially given the widescale press coverage of abortion provider George Tiller's murder earlier this year. Many, many people-- not just pro-choice but pro-life folks -are uncomfortable with the public display of "bloody fetus" imagery. It took me three years to come to where I saw the worth of it, and more time before I held one myself. And I still feel awkward doing so, knowing that to do so marks me as a kind of unintelligent fanatic in the eyes of folks I would enjoy discussing abortion with.

The photos are a witness to the horror of abortion. They are as valid and relevant a witness as are the photographs of the dead and dying in Darfur, photos of Idi Amin's butchery, photos of the Khymer Rouge victims, photos of lynched black men.

Jim Pouillon gave regular witness to the horror of legalized abortion for the last decades of his life. I salute him.

Here's part of Jill's essay:

Jim was "controversial," the press and pro-aborts say, because he held signs of aborted babies.
Oh yeah, we say, and George Tiller wasn't? What's more "controversial" – aborting babies or showing pictures of aborted babies?
Harlan Drake allegedly killed another man the same morning he killed Jim for a totally unrelated reason, they say, as if to dilute the magnitude of Jim's murder.
Oh yeah, we say, and what about Eric Rudolph, who not only killed two abortion workers in a Birmingham clinic firebombing but also planted bombs at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta and the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian bar?
Blah, blah, blah. It will never end.
But Jim's life here on earth did. I never knew Jim, but reading about him was like reading the story of a thousand other activist pro-lifers I have met through the years. Good people, salt of the earth, often a rag-tag bunch that smart people of the world look down on.

A man's death is worth expending some rhetoric on, I think.

Joe Wilson, Kanye West, Kathy Shaidle, Michelle Malkin, Obama haters - I've had it up to here, and I don't even like Obama.

Tweeting this morning.

Fed up with animosity towards Obama.

Tired of being a crunchy semi-conservative. Thinking of becoming a grouchy radical centrist.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lured away from task again by another intriguing book

What's the biggest danger of being a book lover who sells used books? It's the inability to relinquish the books one acquires for inventory to the inventory itself.

So I just tagged another acquisition with this ubiquitous note to self: "Read, then sell." The book in question is Pentecostal Piety by Donald L. Gelpi, S.J. Published in 1972, the book caught me with its first paragraph:

Explain it any way you like, lots of Catholics just aren't going to confession any more. Worse still, fewer and fewer Catholics seem capable of discussing the eclipse of the sacrament with even a semblance of rationality. Bring the problem up and you are apt to be subjected to a long jeremiad against legalism and formalism in the Church, punctuated by laments about the scars which priests, nuns and little black confessional boxes have left upon one's youthful psyche. And since Americans as a group are more than ordinarily concerned about their psyches, one must learn to repress any expressions of irreverence at the tale of suffering to which one is being treated.


But the rest of the book looks pretty good too, so I'm adding it to my monumental pile of books to read before I sell. Its focus is charismatic Christian groups, both Catholic and Protestant, and it looks like some readable and very solid stuff. From 37 years ago. Yikes! I remember 1972 very well. I was a young married atheist, a year or so away from my return to the Church. How old does that make me now??!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Inglourious Basterds: Quentin Tarantino meets Oscar Wilde, with a shout-out to Joseph Pearce

I left the Cinema Center in Newark, DE* after Inglourious Basterds with a smile on my face and a satisfied mind. I also brought away a rekindled respect for Quentin Tarantino- nay, a love even, begrudging but true, a love I cannot help but have for intelligent, crowd-pleasing, controversial creators of indelible works of art. Quentin Tarantino is one of these. He has irritated me for years, but that's my prejudice against all cocky white males who are not related to me personally. The man is a true artist, say what you may.

Inglourious Basterds is a work of brilliant audacity that takes me back to the work of Oscar Wilde and the decadents of the late-19th century. And it is inspiring the same kind of criticism as Wilde's pre-gaol work, which while wildly successful, and praised by many, infuriated another host of critics for being derivative and shallow.

Consider, for example, Oliver Elton’s censure when the Library of the Oxford Union solicited and received a signed copy of Wilde’s first book of poetry:

It is not that these poems are thin – and they are thin: it is not that they are immoral – and they are immoral: it is not that they are this or that – and they are all this and all that: it is that they are for the most part not by their putative father at all, but by a number of better-known and more deservedly reputed authors. They are in fact by William Shakespeare, by Philip Sydney, by John Donne, by Lord Byron, by William Morris, by Algernon Swinburne, and by sixty more… The Union Library already contains better and fuller editions of all these poets: the volume which we are offered is theirs, not Mr. Wilde’s: and I move that it be not accepted. (from Henry Newboldt, “My World as in My Time”, quoted by Joseph Pearce in his excellent book “The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde.” )

Now read what Ed Gonzalez had to say about Tarantino in Slant Magazine:

Everything is an allusion, a pose, in the films of Quentin Tarantino, right down to the font and colors he uses for his title sequences—even the name of his production company, A Band Apart (with it, he arrogantly asks us to think of him as our generation's Godard, and how willingly we indulge him says plenty). More curator than creator, Tarantino's overbearing cinephilia appeals to audiences who not only lost it at the movies but can't seem to live without them: From Reservoir Dogs to his Kill Bill diptych, Tarantino's films are solipsistic totems to his favorite things, and even when I've liked them (Jackie Brown) they've still managed to make me feel suffocated—as if I were being cornered at a party by some creep whose lunatic ramblings suggest someone completely unable to talk about anything beyond the movies he's seen and wants to make, the music he's heard and wants to play for you, and the girls he wants to fuck but doesn't know how to talk to.

Sounds a bit like Elton's view of Wilde, eh? I hope that the work of Joseph Pearce will nudge us towards the time when Oscar Wilde’s personal life (whether you view it as notorious or iconic) will cease to overshadow his literary reputation. Even so, Wilde’s work has stood the test of time. Critics no longer denounce his stylistic adaptations of his literary forbears. Tarantino’s notoriety is not nearly as polarizing as Wilde’s, resting as it does on nothing more titillating than his allegiance to B-movies, grind house films, and knowledge of movies both famous and obscure acquired as a video store clerk. In the end, I think his films too will stand up as some of the best and most representative art of the turbulent times of the late-20th, early 21st century.

Contra distinct Gonzalez’ scoldi of Tarantino with Bret McCabe's more appreciative opinion, in the Boston City Paper:

Writer/director Quentin Tarantino has always proudly worn his encyclopedic film nerdom on his sleeve. His movies and scripts are buckshot-riddled with knowing cinematic in-jokes, endless moments of unabashed homage, and outright narrative and musical and costume and character names and sound effects and typefaces and scene set-up rip offs. If his set pieces and frenetic dialog sometimes feel like overindulgent pastiche, at least he does so with entertaining brio and an inclusive camaraderie: His cinema allusions feel less like somebody flaunting his insider knowledge than invitations to share in the little-known-movies love-in. That element makes his films, for all their modern violence, unabashedly nostalgic, but Pop Art is always filtered through the past. With Inglourious Basterds, though, he does something rather daring: He offers unadulterated cinematic love as a way to rewrite the 20th century's darkest moment.

And my own feelings about Inglourious Basterds? Harry Knowles at Ain't It Cool News comes close to expressing them:

I’ve had a lot of problems with this review. More than I’ve had with any film in a very long time. Why? Well, it is very complicated and I’ve been struggling with how to phrase it.

I love every moment of INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. Every shot, every scene, every performance, every bit of music. I love it.


This isn’t the World War II film I really wanted from Tarantino. And the reason has more to do with me, than with Quentin.

I love the WWII genre and its infinite permutations. I love the universe of WWII. A global conflict, perilous intrigue, unforgivable inhumanity, toweringly charismatic leadership, trench heroism, the toughness of being a survivor… the design, imagery, scope… it’s all just so damn awesome.


And that isn’t this film. This is the fictionalized history of how WWII came to a close in the European arena, courtesy of Quentin Tarantino’s fevered brain. And it is something unto itself.


Forget any expectations or beliefs of what you’re getting out of INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, it isn’t the movie you think it is. Not the one in trailers, not really even the script. It has a unique life unto itself. I really liked the film on first viewing, on second – those feelings intensified. There’s just something so delightful about the film. It isn’t stuffy, which is a problem that most modern WWII films have going against them. In this, you know that anything can happen. And that’s very refreshing.

Watch it and you’ll see. It truly is its own thing and it kicks ass.

Was the term "Jewish revenge porn" coined for this film or did it exist before? I love that folks are debating its ethical significance. I love that the film is inspiring questions about the relationship of cinema to history. I love that the movie is generating serious discussion like that which greeted books and plays in Oscar Wilde's day. Do yourself a favor and read Jeffrey Goldberg's essay in Atlantic Monthly, Hollywood's Jewish Avenger, which itself contains references to even more serious analysis of Tarantino’s film.

I am thankful that the US Catholic Council of Bishops gave Inglourious Basterds an "L" (limited audience) rating rather than "O", (morally offensive). It embarrassed me when the USCCB reviewer gave All That Jazz a condemnation, and far too many of the movies I enjoy are rated given that "O" rating. I have spoken to at least one USCCB reviewer and know that it's a tough job because their mission is to serve the average Catholic family looking for entertainment that is not morally problematic. And they do a great job of educating folks as to the delicate balancing act between art and morality, one that walked the tightrope in Wilde's day and will no doubt continue on as long as we endure.

(*Cinema Center in Newark, DE – my favorite Delaware movie theater, just two miles from where I live, and home of the upcoming Newark Film Festival)

Jack Webb Schools Barack Obama on Healthcare

This is hilarious!

My brother Pic* created it and posted it to YouTube. Now The Anchoress, Instapundit, HotAir (who made it their Quote of the Day) and a bunch of other blogs have picked it up.

You go, bro!

*That's Nick D'Orazio, to the rest of the world.

Friday, September 04, 2009

10 Anglican nuns and their chaplain swim the Tiber

Ten of the twelve sisters of the Episcopal All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, MD, and their chaplain, were welcomed into full communion with the Catholic Church yesterday.

Members of the Episcopal and Anglican churches in the US and the UK have been "swimming the Tiber" in increasing numbers since the Episcopal Church ordained its first practicing gay bishop.

Tip of the hat to Fred Chavez!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The most beautiful grandchildren in the world

Okay, I might be exaggerating. But then maybe not! They sure seem like the best and most beautiful grandchildren in the world to me!

From left to right: Zeke Norton, Ruth Stabosz-Danyo holding Simon Gregg, Donal Stabosz (leaning on Ruth's leg), Wade Danyo, Owen Danyo (standing) and Amelia Thyme Norton.