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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

In My Life - Ukulele

The Beatles on ukulele. Ahh.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ghostbuster Theology: No Private Acts

Sometimes popular culture reveals more about the truth than intellectual and politically correct rationalizations.

Take Ghostbusters II, an amusing (but less successful) follow-up to the original movie (rated one of the top comedies of all time).

In G II, there is a river of malevolent pink slime beneath the streets of New York. The Ghostbusters team figures out that the slime is caused by New Yorkers' bad attitudes.


Literally, the notion of visible pink slime caused by attitudes is silly. But allegorically and theologically, it makes absolute sense.

Privacy may have a kind of fictional reality thanks to the misguided judgement of some Supreme Court justices, but is does not exist when we are talking about spiritual matters.

All our actions, good or bad, public or private, affect others.

That includes our sins. All of them. Even actions which we do in private ripples forth and touches the souls of others.

As Pope John Paul II noted in his 1984 document Reconciliatio Et Paenitentia

To speak of social sin means in the first place to recognize that, by virtue of human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual’s sin in some way affects others. This is the other aspect of that solidarity which on the religious level is developed in the profound and magnificent mystery of the communion of saints, thanks to which it has been possible to say that “every soul that rises above itself, raises up the world.” To this law of ascent there unfortunately corresponds the law of descent. Consequently one can speak of a communion of sin, whereby a soul that lowers itself through sin drags down with itself the church and, in some way, the whole world. In other words, there is no sin, not even the most intimate and secret one, the most strictly individual one, that exclusively concerns the person committing it. With greater or lesser violence, with greater or lesser harm, every sin has repercussions on the entire ecclesial body and the whole human family. According to this first meaning of the term, every sin can undoubtedly be considered as social sin.

Again: "... every sin has repercussions on ... the whole human family."

Every time we tell a lie for personal gain
Every time we intentionally view pornography
Every time we gossip
Every time we chose not to try to stop wrongful actions
Every time we cheat on expense accounts or income taxes
Every time we participate in an abortion
Every time we use use office equipment for private purposes
Every time we legislate immoral acts, or vote for those who pass such legislation
Every time we swear at another driver
Every time we have sex outside of marriage

Yes, every time we do anything wrong - even the things we try to justify and rationalize through saying it's because of love - we affect others.

We harm others.

We harm them because through even our supposedly private actions we add to the evil in the world - or at least decrease the opportunities for good to flow froth freely from God.

We harm them because all our actions color how we view the world and interact with others.

We need only think of the story of the Fall - even if it is not taken literally.

Adam and Eve committed their offense in private. There was no one else there to witness their action (except, of course, God). Yet it is a basic Christian lesson that their action continues to affect us all.

But to counter the effects of that "private" sin, Jesus dying on the cross - the action of one Person - offered us all the opportunity for salvation.

The movie even gives us a taste of good actions touching others.

When evil seems on the verge of winning, the people of New York, singing together, treating each other well if only for a few moments, spread good to others and weaken the power of evil, allowing the heroes to triumph.

We all need to keep that in mind.

Even as we exercise our fictional "right to privacy."

Because that's true reality - and not a laughing matter.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Catholic Courier Wins Awards

Newspapers win 13 Catholic press awards - Catholic Courier

I used to write for the Courier. I'm glad to see them honored.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Franciscan Eucharistic Flash Mob!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pro-life Rock

The Flight to Light - Life Starts Now.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bishop Clark joins NY Bishops decrying legislation

Statement of the Bishops of New York State

The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.

We strongly uphold the Catholic Church’s clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths.

We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.

Our society must regain what it appears to have lost – a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.

+Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

+Howard J. Hubbard
Bishop of Albany

+Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn

+Edward U. Kmiec
Bishop of Buffalo

+Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg

+Matthew H. Clark
Bishop of Rochester

+William F. Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre

+Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse

Just call me Ukule-Lee

Yes, I broke down and bought a ukulele - a Samick UK70 concert model.

I went to my favorite guitar/instrument store - Stutzmans Guitar Center on Ridge Road - and looked at what they had available. There were some really cheap ones, slightly better ones, the UK70, and an even better (but more expensive)one, plus some used ones.

I opted for the UK70 because it was a step up from beginner, and will give me a taste of what it's like to play a ukulele. If I really like playing it, I'll likely later invest in a better one, possibly a tenor, with a pickup.

I've already serenaded my Good-Looking-One with a ukelele version of "Never Ending Song of Love."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eddie Vedder - Longing To Belong

With a ukulele no less! His new album sounds great.

Summer Reading (2)

Second book:

Red, Green, or Murder by Steven F. Havill (He's a former high school teacher of mine who has now published 23 novels. Bit of coincidence: The protagonist relaxes toward the end of the book by reading Trulock's In The Hands of Providence, a book about Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain, and a book that my wife is currently reading!)


Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Staples (from the Mercy High School Summer Reading list).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This Is The Stuff (Battistelli) for Church Rocks?

Rock of Faith's leader e-mailed me today and said he's thinking we might do this tune at the August 12 Church Rocks concert - and wondered about me playing the ukulele for it!

Obviously a tune for a concert, not for church.

Hmm. Ukulele. ...

Summer reading

First book done:

Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Staples (from the Mercy High School Summer Reading list).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Steve Havill: Novelist, and Teacher

Back when I attended Desales High School in Geneva, NY, one of my favorite teachers was Steven Havill. I had him for a couple of classes, and a group of friends and I even went out to his house - a log house in the woods - one time. He showed us where he made his own bullets. For high school boys, that was so cool.

He moved out west, and I knew he had written a novel about the west, and a couple of mystery novels in the years since (I read one years ago).

Today I went to the new Gates Library. (If you haven't been there yet, go see it. It's really nice.)

As I wandered about, for some reason I decided to see if they had any of his books. I was pleased to see they had several. I picked up one: Red, Green, or Murder, which was published in 2009. I looked at the inside back cover and still recognized him. Then I read that he'd published 21 novels.


And that's on top of teaching for 25 years. Oh, and earning an AAS degree in gunsmithing!

I checked his Wikipedia entry. This year, he published his 22nd and 23rd novels.

Good for him.

I took out that 21st novel, by the way. It's on my pile of books to read.

It's the first day ...

Today officially begins my summer break.

Last week I finished cleaning out my classroom, so no reason to go back to the school. I don't have a summer job this year (other than anything I write to sell, or a possible editing job).

So, what's on the docket?

Getting ready for my profession as a Secular Franciscan July 9.

A couple of final interviews. (Then maybe making a choice.)

closing out my Dad's estate account and filing all the final paperwork.

Preparing a collection of poems for Christmas and possible publication.

Some work on the novel (maybe a couple of thousands words more?).

Finishing a play ("Birds").

Reading some of the books in my bedside stack. (Maybe adding to that stack if one of the interviews goes well.)

Some household chores and projects.

Cleaning out files to get rid of clutter.

Weeding my book collection. I hope to get rid of a couple of hundred books I no longer need or have room for.

Lot's to do. Time to get started.

Weird Al Takes on Lady Gaga

Pax et bonum

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Clarence Clemons Passes Away

Back in the mid 1970s I went to see this New Jersey band I'd heard of from friends - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. It was in the Geneva Theater in little Geneva, New York, just before Springsteen became nationally known.

I still consider that the best concert I ever saw. And I've never forgotten Clarence Clemons' playing.

Rest in Peace.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Planned Parenthood - Praying Twice!

Today I had two opportunities to pray outside Planned Parenthood.

This morning I joined the regular group at the Planned Parenthood in Greece, N.Y., to pray. We said a Rosary and a Divine Chaplet, among other prayers.

Then this afternoon I joined with another group to march through downtown Rochester to Planned Parenthood's headquarters on University Avenue. Another Rosary!

There are so many committed, prayerful people here: Planned Parenthood doesn't stand a chance!

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Father Corapi Jumps Ship?????

I'd been hearing rumblings about Father Corapi leaving active ministry for good. Now I find this video above.

Is that Father Corapi? Is this real, or is an imposter behind this?

And the images of that black sheepdog strongly suggests a wolf.

I don't know what the truth is. I'm hoping that Father Corapi will suddenly come out at say, "This is not true." Or even, "I made a big mistake. Forgive me, and disregard all this."

I'm not part of some "Cult of Corapi." I don't own any of his books or tapes, nor have I ever attended any of his talks.

But he has been a powerful voice for Catholicism and there are many people who admire him. At our Secular Franciscan retreats one of the Franciscan Brothers regularly gets laughs by imitating Father Corapi's distinctive voice and style.

I hope this is not true.

I hope if it is true that some people will not grow frustrated and discouraged in their faith.

I hope that if it is true Father Corapi will find the healing he needs.

All I can do is pray.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dr. Janet Smith on Contraception

"Most who contracept have little understanding of what damage it can do to their relationships and to society as a whole. But as any biologist knows, if one is ingesting poison, even if it is cleverly disguised as something good, one will still suffer the ill effects of the poison."

- Dr. Janet E. Smith, the Fr. Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Issues at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Those Who Never Were - A prolife song

Using the arts to defend for life. Wonderful.

March for Life in Rochester June 18

Just a reminder that there will be a pro-life march this Saturday at 1:00 starting from the Our Lady of Victory parking lot, 210 Pleasant Street in downtown Rochester.

The march will proceed down Main St. and then end at the Planned Parenthood on University Avenue.

Refreshments at the Focus Pregnancy Help Center afterwards. Come make a statement against the culture of death! God bless.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I've told a few that backfired

Newscaster tries out a joke with the Dalai Lama - and it falls flat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sumer Is Icumen In

School is over for the year. Technically, yesterday was the last day, but I went in today to clean up some things and finish the newsletter. I'll go in one more day this week, then I'll be done.

But tomorrow I begin the summer break.

Some things are in the works (more on that in a week or two, perhaps).

In addition, I plan to meet with Father Mayer about some possible Catholic theatrical activities, and to write my friend Dick about possibly helping to edit/proofread a book. I have a play I've been working on to finish. And there are some projects around the house to complete.

Meanwhile, I'll profess as a Secular Franciscan July 9 - Alleluia!

Maybe I'll even find time to work on that novel!

Surfing Madonna

Yo, Dude, she has been depicted riding clouds. Why not the waves?

Stonewall Jackson

I've just finished a short military-oriented biography of Stonewall Jackson - Stonewall Jackson, by Donald Davis.

The book gives an overview of his life, and pays particular attention to him as a military leader.

I've always had a fondness for Stonewall. The book helped me to see some reasons why.

He was a devout man, devoted to his wife, fond of children, brave, with little regard for his own safety, or even with his appearance. And, of course, bearded.

But he was also demanding of himself and others, often too strict and severe, contentious, rubbed many fellow officers the wrong way, and somewhat quirky.

Sounds too familiar!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On Negativity

The best way of removing negativity is to laugh and be joyous. - David Icke

People who project negativity typically have low self-esteem. They feel badly about themselves, and their negativity is simply a reflection of those feelings. - Hendrie Weisinger

People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom? - Thích Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Dave Brubeck - Take Five - 1966

Ah, now this is the kind of jazz I like (and he's a good Catholic lad, too!).

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Sweetest I've Seen - Ceili Rain (live)

The latest from Ceili Rain. Local Irish folk rock (and they're Christian to boot).

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Where have all the poets gone?

In the last couple of weeks I've visited a couple different local branches of a well-known bookstore chain.

Whenever I visit a bookstore, there's a couple of sections I always check out. One of those sections is the poetry one.

I've noticed in those chain store branches the poetry section is getting smaller and smaller. Whereas at one time the poetry filled three or four bookcases, poetry now fits in one or so cases. The number of titles has decreased, as has the selection of poets. The big names are represented, but not many more. The only kinds of selections that seem to be increasing in number are anthologies devoted to specific themes - love, passion, loss, for example - or ones by famous people (musicians, politicians, actors - not poets).

One of my pleasures in the past was finding new poets - including some local ones - or works by more obscure ones I'd heard of but had never read. That's happening less and less. In fact, I haven't bought any poetry books in a while.

I suppose the poets and their publishers are finding other ways to market, such as the internet. Still, there's something to be said for picking up a book and skimming through it before buying it.

I guess I'm just old-fashioned that way.

Now, off to bed to read some poetry until I fall asleep.

Maybe some Chesterton.

My wife got me a new volume of his collected poems. She had to special order that.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Clerihews Published ( in Gilbert Magazine)

The March/April issue of Gilbert Magazine just arrived (never mind that it's now June!), and it contained several of my clerihews.

A clerihew is four-line humorous, sometimes satirical, poem, usually consisting of two unmatched rhyming couplets, about a person whose name generally serves as one of the rhymes (most often at the end of the first line). There's no set line length. It's named after E. C. Bentley (his middle name was Clerihew) who created the verse form with his friend G. K. Chesterton while they were school friends - and before Bentley gained fame as a mystery writer.

Gilbert Magazine publishes clerihews in its "Clerihew Corner" almost every issue.

This month, the new clerihews were all mine!

Lot's wife
ended her life
when she came to a halt
and proved her salt.

In his early life Thomas Merton
was often uncertain.
He ended his consternation
through contemplation.

Vladimir Kosma Zworykin
helped to make possible television.
His contribution to that form of mass media
is why he's one of the last entries in our encyclopedia

e (cummings) e
(poet)surpri(ic)sinG imagery,paren
theses—(games)w or d sb ro k en

Anne Rice
found a pearl of great price.
But she had to make money first
dwelling on an unnatural thirst.

Prolific Stephen King
can make horror out of anything.
His wife fears what he'd do
if he tried to barbecue.

Ah, fame. Of course, payment consists of the satisfaction of seeing my name in print.

I won't quit my day job.


Pro life march June 18

There will be a pro-life march on Saturday, June 18th at 1:00 P.M. starting in the parking lot of Our Lady of Victory Church, 210 Pleasant St.

(There is a 12:10 Mass at Our Lady of Victory for those interested.) The march will proceed to Planned Parenthood, 114 University Ave. There will be refreshments served at the Focus Pregnancy Help Center after the march. (The above photo on the flier is one I took of a previous march!)

James Arness, 88

James Arness, the star of Gunsmoke, passed away today at age 88.

He also played "The Thing" in the sci-fi classic The Thing from Another Planet, and the FBI agent in another of my favorite sci-fi flims, Them.

Rest in peace Marshall Dillon.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Rodan is on. I won't get to watch it all - too late.

But I remember when I saw it years ago as an impressionable lad. The final scene had me feeling bad for the monster and his mate. (I used to feel sympathy for Godzilla too.)

Ah, Japanese monster movies - the mainstay of Saturday "creature features."