View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Thoughts on the Mohammad cartoons reactions

I have been watching with sadness the violent reactions in many parts of the world to the Mohammad cartoons.

The reactions are deeply troubling. I condemn them when they result in destruction and death, and help to foster a climate of mistrust and hate.

But some of the reactions to the reactions are also troubling, and perhaps give a clue why many Muslims say they are misunderstood and subject to bigotry.

I’ve heard too many people link the violent responses to the cartoons to all of Islam. They attack the faith. I’ve heard and read mocking comments about the “Religion of Peace” and so on.


And bigotry.

While some of the problems are clearly religiously based, I believe many of them are cultural.

Let me explain by talking about the Charismatic Renewal.

Folks of my generation will likely remember the renewal.

It started in the late 1960s, and flourished in the 1970s. It has been praised by several popes, including John Paul II and Benedict XVI (when he was Cardinal Ratzinger). There remain a number of charismatic prayer groups and services to this day. And it had a marked effect on many people’s spirituality even if they are no longer involved with the renewal.

Basically, the charismatic experience involved an infusion of the power of the Holy Spirit., which often manifested itself in “gifts,” such as speaking in tongues (speaking a foreign language one does not know). The movement also engendered a call for a daily prayer life, and reading the Bible.

When it started, it was controversial. Critics said it was too much like the Pentecostal movement, it was too emotional, too irrational, too much based on what the individual “feels.” (Some parts of the movement did indeed stray.)

It was exotic and strange and personal.

The Irish and German dominated parts of the US Church simply did not like it.

Some even thought it was dangerous.

I was part of the movement. I even spoke in tongues once. (I remembered the words and later found out I’d spoken Aramaic.)

I entered the college seminary in 1975 in part inspired by my experiences.

There were several other charismatics in the seminary. We asked permission of our rector to hold prayer services in the chapel. He (of German descent) and the assistant rector (Irish) both said no. Some fellow seminarians mocked us.

Still wanting to pray, we went across to the main campus and held our meetings on the football field when the weather permitted.

The tensions grew. We felt persecuted, treated as outcasts and oddballs. Finally the rector told us to keep our actions low key and basically told the other seminarians to leave us alone (at least that’s how I remember it now, some 30 years later!).

The prejudice shown us could easily have driven some of us from the church – seminarians no less! I suspect some folks involved in the Charismatic Renewal did indeed find more welcoming homes in other churches. (I also know it helped to draw some people to the Catholic Church)

So I in part understand a little of what Muslims feel when living in societies that view them with fear and distrust.

But there’s another connection.

As I mentioned, part of the misunderstanding about the renewal arose over its emotional, demonstrative nature. The US church in the 1970s was still run by Irish and German Catholics who practiced a dignified, restrained, quiet kind of faith. They left the more colorful expressions of faith to groups like the Italians and the small but growing numbers of Hispanics.

I’m not normally an emotional type (Irish, German and Scottish blood), and I’m by nature an observer who can detach himself from what he is watching (helped me when I was a reporter).

I began to notice something at the large charismatic prayer and healing services when we had guest speakers.

One part of those services generally involved a “laying on of hands” in which the presider/speaker and a few other designated people (usually priests) would pray over people one by one.

One of the frequent results of being prayed over was being “slain in the spirit.” Basically, the person would fall to the ground and be in some sort of an altered state for a short period of time.
This became so common at services that there were designated “catchers” who stood behind the people being prayed over to catch them if they were slain, then to carry them to an area where they could lie with the other slain folks until they came to.

I started playing a little game of guessing who would be slain. I got good at it.

I would study the people as they processed up, and could often tell from the looks on their faces that they were going to be slain long before they were prayed over.

I noticed that a higher percentage of women than men would be slain. I noticed that a higher percentage of Italian and Hispanic women than Anglo women would be slain.

So it became clear to me that these folks had a predisposition toward such reaction.

Part of it was gender, and part of it cultural.

Which gets me back to the reaction to the cartoons.

The folks who are reacting most violently tend to come from cultures where emotional responses are common, even accepted.

Think of images of funerals in those regions of the world. When was the last time you saw a widow or mother in Butte Montana wail and shriek and throw herself on the coffin? Or weddings. I’ve never been to a wedding in Central New York in which people fire guns into the air, sometimes accidentally killing people in the upper stories of nearby buildings.

So I suspect some of the reactions are far more culturally based than religiously based.

We need to look at that, rather than criticizing an entire religion.

And we need to keep in mind that while there are tens of thousands of Muslims behaving violently, there are more than 1.5 billion of them reacting non-violently, or not at all to the cartoons.

After all, we have Catholics in the Philippines who allow themselves to be nailed to crosses – literally – at Easter time.

And until recently, we had Irish Catholics killing Protestants.

And we have some Catholics outside abortion clinics bellowing with bull horns.

Imagine if the rest of the world judged all Catholics by these folks.

(Okay, some people do judge Catholics by these folks!)

This reflection won’t stop the violent reactions to the cartoons.

But maybe if we paid more attention to the effects of our words, actions, fears and prejudices, we might avoid future problems.

Maybe we need to focus instead on making our own faith more welcoming to its own members, and something Muslims would like to convert to.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Perhaps someone should tell Donald Trump

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.

Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,
your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days.

Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.

You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.

(James 5: 1-6 – NAB)

I heard this passage on the radio the other day. I thought of some of the wealthy in our society.

Then another thought hit me.

I was on my way to clean out still more of my mom’s clothes.

So far, we have donated more than 300 items of her clothing. The latest haul included 61 tops, 11 pants, 10 skirts, 9 matched outfits, and 6 dresses.

Some of the items still had price tags on them.

There’s still more clothes to go. And there's also all the pots, pans, cookbooks, jewelry, etc.

My mother shopped compulsively, trying to make up for things she lacked in her life.

She was an unhappy woman.

I wonder how many of the rich are similarly unhappy – and are trying to fill some gap in their own lives with possessions?

I wonder what James would say about these lost souls?

Will all the rich wail after death?

Or are some of them already wailing?

Maybe he'd soften his mesaage.

Or maybe he’d say that no matter how screwed up their lives were, they had their chances and their warnings. They had the Bible and other writings. They had preachers – like James - admonishing them.

Jesus certainly was firm about this. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, he has Abraham spurn the rich man’s attempts to go back and warn his brothers.

“They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.” (Luke 16:29).

Maybe I don’t need all those books I want and that new guitar I covet.

As goes South Dakota, so goes the nation?

South Dakota State Senate Approves Ban on Virtually All Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 22, 2006

Pierre, SD ( -- The South Dakota state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that that would ban all abortions except in cases to prevent the death of the mother. Gov. Mike Rounds is expected to sign the legislation into law, which will be immediately challenged by pro-abortion groups in court.

Lawmakers backed the measure on a 23-12 vote and pro-life Gov. Rounds said he would "look favorably" on an abortion ban if the bill would "save life."

The House previously passed the legislation with a vote of 47 to 22.

"In my opinion, it is the time for the South Dakota Legislature to deal with this issue and protect the lives and rights of unborn children," Democratic Sen. Julie Bartling, the bill's sponsor, said during the debate.

Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion facility, has promised to challenge the legislation in court.

"If he chooses to sign it, we will be filing a lawsuit in short order to block it," Kate Looby, director of Planned Parenthood's South Dakota business, said.

That has some pro-life advocates concerned that the legislature approved the ban too soon because the Supreme Court does not yet have the five votes necessary to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Should the measure make it to the high court before a fifth vote is in place, it could add to the pro-Roe legal precedent and South Dakota taxpayers could be stuck paying Planned Parenthood's legal bills.

According to an AP report, an anonymous donor has pledged $1 million to cover the state's legal costs.

"It is a calculated risk to be sure, but I believe it is a fight worth fighting," said Republican Sen. Brock Greenfield, also the director of South Dakota Right to Life.

Last year the legislature approved a similar bill but Rounds vetoed it because it would have taken current pro-life laws limiting abortions off the books during the legal challenge.

The measure does not allow for abortions for women who are victims of rape or incest but, during the Senate committee hearing, Megan Barnett, a rape victim who chose not to have an abortion, said lawmakers need to remember that unborn children deserve protection no matter how they were conceived.

"I believe life begins at conception no matter how the life is conceived and I now have a beautiful ten month old daughter," she said.

Abortion practitioners who perform abortions, should the measure become law, would face a possible five year prison term and a $5,000 fine.

State legislatures in Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky are also considering similar measures this year.

My thoughts: It’s good to note the legislation was sponsored by a Democrat.

I don’t know how this will hold up in the federal courts – given that so many of them were appointed by Clinton, and that they have been under the sway of the
Roe ruling for so long. Such legislation may indeed be too soon.

But if we get enough of these heading to the Supreme Court, we may get some significant changes down the road.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Yes, it's true

Oh God, everything they said about him is true!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Papal Beer

Another reason to like Pope Benedict.

Rose limerick (kid stuff)

There once was a young girl named Rose
who spent her days picking her nose.
But one day – bad luck –
her finger got stuck,
so now she must pick with her toes.

Forced abortions proposed

Pro-lifers – myself included – have been warning for years that this would happen.

Dutch Lawmaker Proposes Forced Abortions to Stop "Unwanted Children"

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 21, 2006

Rotterdam, Netherlands ( -- A pro-abortion city councilwoman in Rotterdam says that forced abortions should be used to curb the "problem" of unwanted children in Holland and its territories.

Alderman Marianne van den Anker of the Leefbaar Rotterdam (LR) party says the forced abortion and contraception would reduce the incidence of child abuse.

Van den Anker has two children and is the official in charge of the city's health issues.

In an interview in newspaper 'NRC Handelsblad' Van den Anker said she had tried to lower the rates of child abuse, without success. "I fail, I fail," she told the interviewer as she discussed her proposal to force women to have abortions.

Van den Anker said Antillean teenage mothers, drug addicts and those who are mentally disabled should be forced to have abortions and use contraception if they are having sex.

Otherwise, an "unacceptable risk" of some children exposed to "violence, neglect, mistreatment and sexual abuse."

She indicated courts would determine when women should be forced to have abortions and that social workers "can see in 95 percent or even 100 percent of cases whether the child has a chance of growing up with love."

SWA, a foundation promoting health among Antilleans and Arubans in Rotterdam, condemned the comments, according to an Expatica article.

It called on Mayor Ivo Opstelten and the LR party's coalition partners, the Christian Democrat (CDA) and Liberal (VVD) parties, to reject Van den Anker's proposal.

A CDA spokesman told Expatica that if Van den Anker tried to turn her ideas into policy that it would strongly oppose such a measure. The pro-abortion VVD party also disagreed with the idea.

Abortion is legal in Holland and her European nation has come under fire for its pro-euthanasia policies.

Although her comments have been condemned at this point, they are now out there. There will be debate, and discussion, and gradually, the possibility that her idea will gain acceptance.

Paranoid? No. We and other nations already have a history of forced sterilizations for groups and individuals deemed “inferior” or “unfit.” One of the arguments already used to justify abortion is that it’s a way to eliminate defective children (such as those with Down Syndrome). In places like China, de facto “forced” abortion already exists because of the limits on family size.

Look back at the cultural debates of the last half century. Ideas get mentioned, condemned, but then discussed and debated, and gradually accepted.

So forced abortions may become a reality.

And people thought my “Catholic Crusade” piece was frightening.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Daily Mass observation

When young I noticed everywhere
at daily Mass so much gray hair.
But now at Mass
it’s come to pass
mine are some of the gray hairs there.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Group demands death for Anti-Catholic artists

Catholic Crusade calls for violent responses to anti-Catholicism

Ron Legest
St. Vitus News Service

Rochester NY – A new Catholic organization is targeting anti-Catholicism with threats of retaliation – and even calling for the killing of offenders.

The Catholic Crusade has vowed to avenge any instances of anti-Catholic talk, art, cartoons, television shows, movies, and literature.

“Anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable bigotry,” said the group’s founder and president, who would identify himself only as “Ignatius,” in a telephone interview. “We’re not going to take it.”

Ignatius said his organization will respond immediately to any new instances of anti-Catholicsm. It is also compiling a hit list of past offenders.

Ignatius claims his organization already has hundreds of member scattered across the country. They are recruiting and training new members to prepare them for action.

He claims he has a special forces background. He says a number of the other members also have military backgrounds.

“We also have some priests and nuns,” Ignatius said. “There are also two bishops.”

He acknowledged that the current furor over anti-Mohammad cartoons helped to inspire his organization.

“You got to hand it to them,” he said. “Those heathens know how to get their message across. Governments and media around the world are backing down and running scared.

“We want to have the same effect,” he said.

The Catholic Crusade hopes to appeal to what Ignatius described as “real red-meat Catholics.”

“We want the folks who watch EWTN, read good newspapers like The Wanderer, join organizations like Catholics United for the Faith and Opus Dei,” he said.

Among the current targets are Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, for a 2005 episode in which a statue of Mary sprays menstrual blood on a number of people, including Pope Benedict XVI; the creators and writers of Boston Legal for an recent episode in which they conveniently distort Catholic teaching about the treatment of rape victims; and Village Voice cartoonist Ward Sutton for a sacrilegious cartoon about the Eucharist during the 2004 Presidential campaign.

The Catholic Crusade has called for executing the offenders.

“Forget that boycott crap. We leave that to the bishops and the talkers at the Catholic League,” he said. “And the law won’t help us. `Free speech' means these anti-Catholic vermin can say what they want. The government is the dupe of the devil.”

The Catholic Crusade has also put out a bounty on Andres Serrano, the controversial photographer who created Piss Christ – in which a crucifix is submerged in urine – and Madonna and Child II – in which Mary and the infant Jesus are submerged in urine.

“That pissed me off,” Ignatius said.

He added that at one time he was protesting outside and exhibition of Serrano works, when the photographer arrived with guards. After Serrano and his guards went into the exhibit site, Ignatius said, “I pissed on his car. Served him right.”

Ignatius said the organization is collecting funds to provide bounties, and to help any of its members who are caught.

In addition, one of the bishops is investigating a way to provide a plenary indulgence for any member who eliminates one of the targeted individuals.

He acknowledged that some of their actions will violate civil law.

“We are obeying a higher law,” he said.

He also said that some of their responses will not involve executing the offender. The punishment will depend on the severity of the offense.

“Protests in front of their homes or workplaces or places they are speaking, following them, destruction of the offending art or the vermin’s property, it could take all forms,” Ignatius said.

“I like those television commercials in which the protesters follow the person with a bullhorn," he added. "We could yell stuff like `This man hates Catholics!’ as they walk down the street or stand in line. Whatever it takes to scare them or get them to stop.”

As for maintaining secrecy, Ignatius noted, “We have former military and some Opus Dei members. It won’t be a problem.”

But now is the time to act, he said.

“We need a new crusade,” Ignatius said. “People need to know you can’t mess with God’s church.”

(Psst. It’s not true.)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Good thing he wasn't upset by his penance

A priest in Germany got a surprise during confession when a man not only declared his sins, but also handed over a machine gun and a hand grenade Tuesday.

The man also gave the priest a box with a clown’s face and the words ’Red Nose Day March 26, 2004’ on it. In the box were 34 cartridges of 7.65 mm caliber.

The priest turned over the weapons – and ammunition – to police.

Because of the seal of confession, however, he said he would not reveal the name of the man.

Police are investigating.

No word yet if it was the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

(Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy." And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals ... Now did the Lord say, "First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."

-- Monty Python, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Friends - good

When I was in high school, I ran for student government.

I figured the only way I could win was by being funny and clever, so I came up with a series of posters with pictures of famous monsters on them

One of them looked like this:

Look what happens if you don’t vote for Lee Strong.

I lost, but it was close. I later learned that a couple of my friends – who had been campaigning for me – never got around to voting themselves!

So it goes.

Don’t forget to vote for the Catholic Blog Awards. (

Nonvoters, bad.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A bizarre Catholic Blog nomination

I was pleased to learn that I’d been nominated for a Catholic Blog Award (

Thank you.

I had hoped when I heard of the contest that I might have an outside shot at something like Best New Blog, or maybe even Most Humorous Blog.

But when I looked at the list, I discovered it was for Most Bizarre Blog Post.

Not Most Bizarre Blog.

Most Bizarre Blog Post.


My first reaction when I realized what award I had been nominated for was, "This must be what it feels like to kiss one's sister."

Of course, I never had a sister, so I don’t know for certain what that’s like.

I did have a brother. But even though I am an ex-seminarian, kissing him was never part of the equation.

That would be bizarre.

Don’t get me wrong. I'm happy. If I won, I’d do a little dance. (Talk about bizarre!) So vote often.

But I did see a couple of problems when I learned of the nomination.

First, there’s no indication which particular post was considered bizarre.

The “Limbo” back on Dec. 30?

The OFM (Order of Fat Men) series from early December?

Getting “annoyed” on November 14?

Jesus testing the waters to see who should be the Church’s leader (October 20)?

The unpaid library fine of Judge Roberts (Aug. 5)?

Voting for saints (June 6)?

A little Dante on May 1?

The full-service Planned Parenthood (April 8)?

Maybe my poetry?

Or perhaps I’m clueless and it’s something I’d intended seriously, but seems bizarre to others?

Without any clear indication, it makes it hard for people to judge.

The second problem was that when I was first listed as a nominee, my blog address was not included.

I notified the man in charge, who graciously admitted he’d forgotten to include it, then added it.

But that means for 12 to 24 hours, anyone interested in checking out my site to see if I had any bizarre posts worth voting for could not easily get to my site.

With just seven days to vote, that’s about one seventh of the voting time.

That’s like telling a candidate in an election, “Oh, by the way, we left your name off one seventh of the ballots. Sorry.”

Not that I really expect to win.

A contest like this is basically a popularity contest. Where there are some conscientious souls who will check out all the nominees before voting – God bless them! – I suspect most will simply vote for nominees they are already familiar with.

My blog gets read, but I am not one of the more popular ones. I think I’ve been averaging about 50 hits a day. There are sites that get hundreds of hits a day.

I’ve never been a popular sort anyway. Kind of reclusive and quirky, really.

Sort of like the old man with the snow shovel in the first Home Alone movie.

You know, the guy everyone thought was a mass murderer.

He turned out to be a nice guy.

I like to think I’m one, too.

My hope is that some people will at least check out the blog. Maybe I’ll pick up a few new regular readers. That would be nice.

Thanks again for the nomination. That in itself is an honor.

Now go check out some of the fine nominees and vote.

Maybe even for a bizarre one.

Some hunting advice for Dick Cheney

On hearing who Dick Cheney shot,
The President said, “Here’s a thought.
To promote our ends
don’t hunt with our friends –
take Democrats, and don’t get caught.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine haiku

testing her coffee
to make sure it tastes right –
Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 13, 2006

Pre-Valentine haiku

your coffee cup
still on the table
half full

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Genny C. loses a product of conception

Genny C, an elephant at Rochester’s Seneca Park Zoo, went into labor Tuesday.

The community had been eagerly waiting for this delivery for years.

But it soon became clear there were problems.

Animal doctors flew in from across the country.

But the baby became stuck in the womb, and died.

Our County Executive made the announcement. She had to struggle with tears to get the words out.

Several people at the press conference did openly cry.

The local newspaper had an article about how to tell children about the death.

The zoo has announced that it will have free admission today and tomorrow to give people a chance to “deliver expressions of sympathy.”

I don’t want to dismiss the sadness of the death. All unnecessary loss of life is to be lamented.

Nor do I want to mock the genuine feelings of grief people are experiencing.

But something struck me.

Tuesday, the day this drama began, is one of the days our local Planned Parenthood office performs abortions.

Even as doctors were going to the zoo to save a baby, doctors were heading to Planned Parenthood to kill babies.

As I saw and read about people crying over the elephant baby’s death, I wondered if anyone cried for the dead babies at Planned Parenthood.

Perhaps some of the mothers did as they left or when they got home and felt the loss, the sorrow, the anger. Maybe they will later in life when they think back to that day. Or when they discover that they can no longer have children. Or when they look at their future children and realize there could have been one more.

I view these women as victims, not pro-choicers, by the way. I think in many cases they felt they had no choice. Many of them have been sold a bill of goods by radical pro-choicers.

And maybe some of the pro-lifers who gather across from Planned Parenthood to pray also cried. (Well, maybe not the woman with the bull horn. She’s too busy making pro-lifers look bad.)

I long for the day when we will see an elected official choke back tears as he or she talks about the aborted lives.

And did anyone explain to the women how they might explain what they did to their children (if they have any)? Or how to explain it to future children (if any)?

Will anyone get to show them “expressions of sympathy”?

I also thought of the irony of the pro-choice position.

The infant died in Genny’s uterus, so by the pro-choice version of the English language, it was not a baby.

It was a product of conception.

In fact, the pro-choicers could even have a gripe in this case.

Genny was pregnant by artificial insemination.

Genny had no choice in the matter. No one asked her if she wanted to be pregnant. She did not “want” the baby.

So no need for tears.

At least not openly and publicly. Not in a radical pro-choice world.

As for me – I wish Genny well. I mourn her loss.

I sympathize with those who weep for her.

And I cry for the women who entered Planned Parenthood that night as mothers and left empty, and for the children who will never be able to go to a zoo to see wondrous creations like elephants.

Suit against priest who said Jesus existed dismissed

Reuters is reporting that an Italian atheist who sued a priest for saying that Jesus existed has lost his case.

Luigi Cascioli had argued that the priest had broken an Italian law meant to protect the public from being conned.

The judge not only dismissed the case, but recommended that Cascioli be investigated for slandering Father Enrico Righi.

Cascioli, who wrote a book called The Fable of Christ, said he was not surprised, and said he would appeal to Italy's highest court, and then to The Hague.

As for being tried for slander, Cascioli said that to prove he lied, prosecutors would have to prove that Jesus existed.

Hmm. Cascioli is 72. I suspect he will get that proof soon enough.

Friday, February 10, 2006

wake haiku

mid-winter wake –
the painter in the coffin
looks posed

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pope Benedict-Beatles redux

I got the February 3 issue of National Catholic Reporter yesterday (only about a week late).

On page 10 there was an article by John Allen on Pope Benedict’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. (Guess there was no room on later pages.)

Allen began by making a connection between the encyclical and a Beatles song.

All you need is love.

Wait a minute.

I made that very same connection back on January 19 (“Pope Benedict- Beatles Link”).

Is it possible that … ALLEN READS MY BLOG?

My first thought might have been that it was just a coincidence, except that I had just read an article in the same issue (on page 5) that Father Richard McBrien, described as a “liberal Catholic columnist” (hence page 5, as opposed to page 10?) has been accused of plagiarism. He allegedly stole, um, borrowed, descriptions and phrases from a column printed in the Boston Globe about a protest at a Boston Catholic Charities fundraiser.

Hmm. Hmm indeed.

For now, I will give Allen the benefit of the doubt and let it be.

But tomorrow never knows.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hope this doesn't offend any Druids

I know that I shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tree,
and so I scribble gleefully
my poems on paper from that tree.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bloody Betty Friedan dies

Betty Friedan, one of the icons of modern feminism, died Saturday.

Her 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique is credited with helping to revive feminism.

She was one of the founders of NOW (the National Organization for Women), and NARAL (the National Abortion Rights Action League – now called NARAL-ProChoice American).

As with most movements, there was some good in modern feminism.

It opened the doors for women to rise up in business and government, to earn more equal pay, to be treated more fairly under the law.

Our county executive is a woman, Maggie Brooks. Sandra Day O’Connor became a Supreme Court Justice. Condi Rice is now our Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton is a Senator for my state. Louise Slaughter represents part of my region in Congress. Anne Mulcahy is chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation, which began in my city.

Whether or not you agree with them and their positions on issues, the fact remains that without modern feminism, these women – and many more like them – would likely not have had a chance to reach their current positions.

I applaud that part of the feminist legacy.

It’s some of the rest of that legacy that I have trouble with.

Feminism has helped to spur the breakdown of social structures, including the family. It has led to a denigration of such values as sexual purity, motherhood and marriage.

Friedan herself saw problems. She split with the leadership of NOW over such issues as lesbianism and the hatred of men. She later said that feminism went too far in condemning traditional roles for women as housewives and mothers.


But as far as I know, Friedan never repented of her role in legalizing abortion through Roe v. Wade and related court cases.

She was part of a movement that used lies, pressure and protests to make the murder of the unborn socially acceptable.

So in my mind she was Bloody Betty, implicated in the greatest genocide in human history.

She and her pro-abortion compatriots have killed more people than Hitler and Stalin – combined.

Perhaps she repented before she died.

I hope she did.

I certainly would hate to face God with the blood of more than 46 million dead babies on my hands.

Kid poem: The rhinoceros

As a dinner guest
the rhinoceros
shows manners that are
quite imposserous.

Another St. Joseph poem

St. Joseph, Protector
By E. Merryweather

Protector of the Church world-wide,
Christ's holy Spouse, His mystic Bride,
That issued from His piercèd side.

Protector of the Mother-Maid,
To whom thy holy vows were paid,
Within whose arms was Jesus laid.

Protector of the Child Divine—
Oh, with what radiance they shine,
That glory and that joy of thine!

Be thou, St. Joseph, by our side
When perils in our lives betide,--
Protector, guardian, loving guide!

Take us, dear Saint, beneath thy care;
Make us thy wondrous virtues share;
Teach us thy hidden life of prayer.

The Ave Maria, March 6, 1915.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A bit of St. Joseph poetry

I love poetry. I’ve also been blessed with a special saint this year, St. Joseph.

It seemed natural to combine the two.

I began to search on line for poetry about St. Joseph.

So far, little luck.

I came across these by a “Brother Craig.”

Not the best – but a start.

A Father's Command

I learned a bit of wisdom
direct from Heaven on high.
I heard it from an Angel
and Angels never lie.

An unfailing prayer
I know how to say.
All because Our Lord
still does obey!

When you ask St. Joseph
to please intercede.
Know that your prayer
is bound to succeed.

Because each request
put in St. Joseph's hand
Jesus receives
as a father's command.

In obeying St. Joseph
Jesus is very glad,
"I'll do what you ask,
do it for you, Dad."

St. Joseph The Good Provider

St. Joseph I'm told
never does fail
when in prayer
we tell him our tale.

St. Joseph I hear
listens to our need.
He comes to our aid
as we humbly plead.

St. Joseph they say
helps in all cases
from needing shoes
or flower vases.

St. Joseph I know
answers all prayers.
To him do I turn
with all of my cares.

Priest's death linked to Mohammad cartoons?

ANKARA, Turkey, FEB. 6, 2006 ( A bishop sees a link between the killing of an Italian missionary priest and the protests of Muslim fundamentalists against the caricatures of Mohammed published in Western newspapers. ( and

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Vatican "comments" on anti-Mohammad cartoons

The Vatican has issued a statement that, while diplomatically worded, basically condemns the publication in some Western newspapers of caricatures of the prophet Mohammed.

The statement from the Vatican press office notes, “ The right to freedom of thought and expression, sanctioned by the Declaration of the Rights of Man, cannot imply the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers. This principle applies obviously for any religion.”

It says, “these forms of exasperated criticism or derision of others manifest a lack of human sensitivity and may constitute in some cases an inadmissible provocation.”

At the same time, the statement goes on to say, “violent actions of protest are equally deplorable. Reaction in the face of offense cannot fail the true spirit of all religion. Real or verbal intolerance, no matter where it comes from, as action or reaction, is always a serious threat to peace.”

I wish the statement had more directly addressed the situation instead of sounding like a perfunctory response to press questions.

I doubt it will do much to ease tensions or end the violence.

But given the current climate, I don’t know if even a strongly worded statement would have helped.

A Munster goes home

Al Lewis – better known as Grandpa Munster – died February 3 at age 95.

He gained his greatest fame as the vampire father-in-law on The Munsters television show in the mid 60s – a show that was cancelled even though it was popular.

Seems the networks were switching to color, and colorizing a program that included a Frankenstein-like lead (Herman), a vampire (Grandpa), a werewolf son (Eddie), a daughter of Dracula (Lily), and a dragon (Spot) would have been too expensive.

But though he has been popularly called “Grandpa Munster,” that was not his character’s name. He was Count Dracula.

In the same way, Lewis has often been mistakenly identified in the popular mind as just a television actor on a kitschy series.

Al Lewis held a doctorate in child psychology. (Columbia University)

He was a political activist during the Great Depression.

He served in the Merchant Marine in WWII.

He was a union organizer.

He entered show business and built a name for himself in radio and television, eventually staring in Car 54, Where Are You?, then The Munsters.

At the same time, he was active in the civil rights movement.

After the Munsters went off the air, he remained active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, and working in support of union and labor issues.

Until his death, he hosted a weekly public affairs radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York City. He argued against the draconian Rockefeller drug laws (a position even Republicans in New York have begun to accept) and restoration of the death penalty in the state (since ruled unconstitutional).

What got him a lot of attention in recent years was his run for governor of New York in 1998 on the Green Party ticket. He was 88 at the time. He got more than 50,000 votes, and actually gave the Greens in New York a ballot line and a little credibility.

Not bad for an old vampire with a Brooklyn accent.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Oh that Hilllary!

Hillary Clinton Donates Campaign Cash to Pro-Life Democrat Candidate
by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 3, 2006

Washington, DC ( -- Pro-abortion Sen. Hillary Clinton, a possible 2008 presidential candidate has donated $10,000 to the campaign of pro-life Pennsylvania Senate candidate Bob Casey. The donation may come as a surprise to some, but there may be self-serving reasons for the questionable donation.

Clinton is a darling of abortion advocates, who would likely strongly support her presidential bid should she decide to run. That's what has some observers scratching their heads about the donation to Casey's campaign.

According to the
New York Post, Clinton made the maximum donation allowed by law to Casey from her political action committee, HillPAC. The donation was also the largest she gave to any candidate in 2005.

The gift is a departure from the view pro-abrotion groups hold about Casey's candidacy.

The National Organization for Women and Emily's List staunchly oppose Casey's bid, even though he is a Democrat, because of his pro-life views. The groups are sponsoring an online petition drive asking party leaders to sabotage his Senate bid.

According to the Post, their campaign blasts Casey as a "Republican-lite on women's issues" and bashed it as a "calculated effort by party leaders to build a so-called 'bigger tent' at the expense of women's rights."

But the reason for Clinton's donation may have nothing to do with abortion.

Casey is running against pro-life Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a Clinton nemesis. Santorum drew Clinton's ire after he published a rebuttal book to her
It Takes a Village to Raise a Child. Santorum's was titled It Takes a Family.

Meanwhile, HillPAC spokeswoman Ann Lewis, a noted abortion advocate, told the Post, "Sen. Clinton is committed to electing Democrats through contributions and campaigning on their behalf."

Should Casey defeat Santorum, which is a possibility given his 10 percentage point lead in the polls, it would aide Democratic efforts to recapture the Senate in the November elections.

For Clinton, supporting abortion is still a salient issue and she proved her credentials again with her recent vote against Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Not only did she vote against Alito's nomination, she backed a filibuster engaged in by a handful of the most ardent pro-abortion members of the party.

About Alito, Clinton said "He will intensify his campaign to roll back" abortion rights granted in the Roe v. Wade decision.

I suspect getting Santorum may indeed be a big part of her reasoning. Getting rid of a pesky Republican – who is behind in the polls anyway – and backing a pro-lifer might help her with pro-lifers in 2008 – if she runs for President. It's good politics, and won't hurt her with the pro-choice crowd in the long run.

But maybe there's a little guilt?

After all, it was Bill Clinton (and Hillary) who was guilty of one of the biggest snubs in recent electoral history when they refused to allow Casey’s dad – then the pro-life governor of Pennsylvania – to speak at the 1992 Democratic Convention in New York City.

That move told pro-lifers where they stood when it comes to the Clintons.

My gut feeling is this donation is politics, not principle. She's interested in life - at the polls.

A bit of nunsense (limericks)

I belong to a limerick and haiku group on Yahoo.

The focus in this group is on word play and punning.

A recent thread involved nuns.

Some of them were amusing. Some risqué (with limericks, what do you expect?).

Below are a few appropriate for a mixed audience (in other words, the bunch of nuts who read me!)

Of attorneys, the nun was in awe.
To become one some day, she foresaw.
She did study and cram
So she'd pass bar exam,
And today she's a sister-in-law.

Kirk Miller
The sister-in-law may forsake
Her convent but make no mistake
She still wears strange hat
Her robe and all that
Old habits are so hard to break

Gary Hallock

The nuns have their own special way
Of acting quite silly each day.
They will have lots of fun
Making many a pun.
It's simply some nun-sense, they say.

Kirk Miller

For perfection she's quite an insister.
Other lawyers won't help, will resist 'er.
An assistant she'll need,
But advice she won't heed,
So for help she'll have nun to a-sister.

Kirk Miller

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bishop Gumbleton's resignation accepted

From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

WASHINGTON (February 2, 2006)—Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Most Reverend Thomas J. Gumbleton from the office of Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit.

Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, made the announcement.

Thomas J. Gumbleton was born in Detroit on January 26, 1930. He studied at St. John’s Provincial Seminary, Plymouth, Michigan, and at the Lateran University, Rome.

Bishop Gumbleton was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, June 2, 1956. He was appointed Titular Bishop of Ululi and Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit March 4, 1968 and ordained May 1, 1968.

I have mixed feelings.

I actually met Bishop Gumbleton a few times – back when I was a Catholic journalist, and when I was involved in a very liberal parish (which later broke with the Catholic Church).

I always found him to be a charming, thoughtful, caring man, but very strong in his beliefs.

I agreed with many of his beliefs – on such issues as peace, for example – but not all of them.

Some of those other beliefs – expressed in less careful, more confrontational ways than he voiced them – helped to lead my former parish to leave the church.

And I was saddened to hear the recent news that he had been abused by a priest many years ago.

I suppose this will free him to travel and work for changes in the Church and society.

I suspect I will not always agree with him.

But I will continue to respect him.

I wish him well.

Dad keeps rolling on

Dad is now in a rehab home.

It’s a nursing home, but with physical therapy. His placement is temporary.

We hope.

Most of the infections cleared up in the hospital, but after the battle he’s too weak to get in and out of his wheelchair on his own.

The goal at the rehab center is to get him at least back to that point.

It would be nice if we could get him even further back to the point where he could walk with a cane – as he was able to not long ago.

On a positive note, once in the chair, he can get about. He’s already flirting, and playing bingo!

Thanks for all your prayers. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers still.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Catholic blog awards

Gee. There are some Catholic blog awards.

I’d love to be nominated.