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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse: Tripod, eh?

I finally broke down and got a better digital camera.

It had all these nifty bells and whistles, including "Scene modes."

I was glancing at the instruction book yesterday and saw that one of the modes was night landscape.

And a lunar eclipse was scheduled this morning!

I thought I'd give it a try.

Oh, it did say "To avoid blur, use a tripod."

But I'm a steady guy.


By the time I figured out I should have tried it in the portrait mode and at least gotten a clear shot, the sun was coming up.

Wonder what a tripod costs?


Monday, August 27, 2007

Amnesty International

I used to be a member of Amnesty International. During my years with them I was not a super gung ho member who latched on to every cause and case, but I did selectively write letters to help victims of torture and mistreatment in other nations. I felt I was doing something good.

Eventually, I let the membership lapse. I had been thinking of rejoining, however.

Not now.

Yes, the organization has done and continues to do a lot of good. But it's new pro-abortion stance is one I can't accept. Torture, persecution and murder of political prisoners, minorities, and so on is deplorable.

So is the killing of children.

A number of Catholic organizations and groups are withdrawing their support because of this stance. I urge others to do so.


Friday, August 24, 2007


I had the misfortune to encounter Father Girzone's Joshua back in the 1980s. Father Girzone even spoke at my parish (the leaders of whom created a schismatic church in the 1990s - no surprise).

Father Girzone - retired due to ill-health - seemed like a nice man.

But I hated the book. I thought it superficial, simplistic and inaccurate. And it advocated things counter to church teachings. My ex-wife liked it. She went with the schism.

That book was followed by more of the same ilk.

At the library the other day I discovered they'd made a movie of the first book. With the same guilty feeling one gets at having to look at an accident as you drive past, I borrowed the movie.

It did have two actors whom I've seen do some good things - F. Murray Abraham, and Gian Carlo Giannini. So I had a faint hope that maybe ...

We watched it last night.

I have to admit - it was even worse that the book.

My current wife commented that it seemed like a made-for-television movie.

I think that's an insult to made-for-television movies.

Oh, it did have that bad-made-for-kids-television-movie feel. Black and white characters. Overacting and overreacting. Over-simplistic. Predictable plot. Inaccurate about the way the church works. And there's some funny blunders - like the dead man who is visibly breathing, or the blind woman clearly wearing contacts, or a characer taking off the same garment twice in the same scene.

I found myself trying to suppress smiles.

Too bad it wasn't an intentional comedy.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Surgery Day for Dad

Dad finally agreed to get the surgery he needs. The bowels problem has not resolved in two months - and so he's been hospitalized that entire time. The doctors say surgery is the only route at this time - other than continuing to linger as he is.

It's scheduled for this afternoon.

This means finding a new home once he has recovered enough - he will need care beyond assisted living.

He has lost so much. All his retirement dreams are shot. He knows it, too.

I look at him and think that so much of this was preventable if he'd only heeded warning signs earlier and taken better care of himself. But we all have a tendency to put things off.

All this makes me realize I'd better pay attention to my own health more. And lose that weight!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Try this: A threat

Not long ago, I got into a tiff at an "orthodox" blog. The person who writes it continually criticizes my diocese, Rochester (he is a former resident of this diocese).

Some of the criticisms have been valid. I, too, have been critical of some actions and decisions in this diocese and by Bishop Clark in the past.

But often, those criticisms in this other person's blog are delivered in snide and disrespectful tones. And sometimes, information is twisted or spun to make even innocent things seem sinister or suspect.

At one point, the blogger commented about something lacking from a parish bulletin. He did not name the parish. I asked for the name of the parish so I could check if it was a one-time thing, or if it really was a problem. He did not name the parish, despite repeated requests.

Accusations without investigation or support. Sadly typical.

This went on - there was at least one other instance in which I asked for support for a criticism - and finally I suggested he and some of his fellow bloggers making rather unfair comments read the Catechism sections about bearing false witness.

Hoo Boy!

Various nasty things were said (or implied) about me. He made sure that he erased much of what I said (just in case someone might read what I said and begin to wonder?).

And there was a threat.

This person knew I was considering applying for the permanent diaconate program in this diocese. He said if I persisted in pointing out uncharitable acts on his part, he would report me to officials of the permanent diaconate program. The implication being, of course, that that might hurt my chances.

I observed that given the consistently uncharitable nature of his criticisms of the diocese and our bishop, that might actually have helped my chances!

Anyway, that's what prompted the three poor limericks I recently posted. They were not charitable. Mea culpa.

As I noted, there are legitimate reasons to criticize actions and decisions by the diocese and the bishop - whom I know to be a good and caring man - but it should be done respectfully, not with inuendo and snide comments.

And as for the diaconate, I am not applying anyway due to a number of circumstances (not the least of which are the health problems of my father and father-in-law and the surgeries they are having this week).

At this point, I will follow Jesus' advice to his disciples, and leave this blogger be, making sure I shake the dust from my feet.

Or, since this involves blogs, should that be dust off my fingers?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

One more verse with a view

Jesus was firm about man versus law
and was quite dismayed at what he saw.
Wonder what he'd say
of the Pharisees today
who see heresy in opponents' each flaw?


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Another verse with a view

A catechist who claims he's seditious
has done things that make me suspicious.
He distorts and implies,
and calls your facts lies -
suggesting he's simply malicious.


Friday, August 17, 2007

A catechetical moment?

A blogger I know will abuse
those he thinks hold unorthodox views.
Faced with reason or facts
he simply attacks
afraid of debates he might lose.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The latest on Dad

After my Dad has spent more than two months in the hospital, the doctors have decided that the medical (antibiotic) approach is not likely to work. They have recommended surgery.

The surgery would result in a colostomy, which means he could not return to the assisted living home he was in. We will have to find a nursing facility.

Dad balked at first, but now seems to be accepting the idea. His choices are stay hooked up to IVs and a drainage bag, or have the surgery and be mobile again.

We meet tomorrow with the hospital team to talk about what he wants to do.

Meanwhile, I was at the emergency room three times last week with my father-in-law. I took him to his doctor today: Now he needs surgery (outpatient, fortunately).

I'm racking up miles on the car again!


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Settling dust

Now that dust has begun to settle on my dreams of the diaconate - I'll get out a shovel later and give them a dignified burial - I have to focus on other issues.

Dad has been in the hospital since early June. I don't know yet if he will ever get back to the assisted living home.

Meanwhile, my father-in-law was taken to the emergency room for the third time in the last week. I'm home because I'm waiting for my daughters to arrive, and my uncle to come back from visiting my father; otherwise, I'd be at the emergency room too.

The book the spiritual advisor lent me simply does not appeal to me. The notion of focusing on positives is good - I've been recording them in a journal since we met - but the book bored me after two chapters. How many ways can you say the same thing? Reminds me of why I got out of journalism.

I have been enjoying Gulley's Harmony stories. There - a positive! Boy, I wish he was a Catholic instead of a Quaker.

School starts up three weeks from Tuesday. I am looking forward to it. I'm hoping we will settle on the two new teachers this week.

Gotta go.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Buffalo and Rochester

The Diocese of Rochester has been under attack in some "orthodox" circles for closing/consolidating parishes and for the decrease in the number of priests - among many other things.

The Diocese of Buffalo, on the other hand, has been cited positively by some for maintaining its orthodoxy.

According to an article in this morning's paper, Bufflao has identified 80 of its 270 parishes for closing, merger or some other changes. That's nearly 30 percent of its parishes.

Meanwhile, the number of priests is dropping - with one estimate that by 2015 there will only be 18 priests for city parishes, as opposed to 50 now.

I think these are issues many dioceses - whether considered orthodox or not - are facing in this part of the country. Declining and aging populations, attendance drops, fewer "Catholics" actually being active in the church, etc.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Black Irish

I'm Scottish, Irish and German.

The amount of Irish is a matter of conjecture. I could be more Irish than Scottish.

My family has always said we had "black Irish" in us. I'm not sure what that means exactly. I've heard legends that some sailors from the Spanish Armada ended up in Ireland. I've also heard it refers to traces of the Celtic blood.

It's also been speculated that the term applies to the dark moods of some Irish. Lots of great sad songs.

I will admit to the mood part in me. It also seems true of a number of other people in my family.

My own moods have led to some bad decision, and a tendency to just quit things. I've also had an urge to just leave - the old Irish wanderlust?

That wanderlust has always been countered by a sense of duty and obligation. I am a first-born, after all.

I'm feeling one of those moods right now.

Think I'll go off and sing a sad song instead!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Dad looking up - diaconate is not

Dad is back sitting up and the hallucinating has stopped.

He's not out of the woods, though. Thanks for the prayers.

The canon lawyers are still doing their jobs, but it's already August and getting too late to submit all the materials in time for the deadline.

And there are a variety of other problematic issues in the mix anyway.

So once again, it's a no go.

I think I'll just content myself with remaining a lay worker in the church.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dad II

Walked into dad's hospital room yesterday.

He asked if I had been the person who left with John. John had been there that morning, he said, but then suddenly got up and left and another person went with him. He wondered if I had been that person.

John, my brother, died in 1983.

Dad then went on about being in church, and wondered when he would be goign back to his room. He was in his room.

Our converstaion wandered like this for a while. I was about to go find a doctor when the PA came in to tell me that he had been hallucinating for two days, and that they thought it was due to the antibiotics they were giving him to fight his bowel abcess.

This explains why when I stopped by on Sunday it took him a couple of minutes to realize that I was his son and not his brother (he kept calling me Jack for the first few minutes).

This is getting scary.