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, April 29, 2008

Obama: An abortion extremist

Highly respected columnist and First Amendment expert Nat Hentoff noted in an April 24 piece (“Infanticide candidate for president”) that he “was once highly motivated to vote for Barack Obama for president.”

He finds much to like about Obama, he says, but he has nevertheless changed his mind after discovering Obama's views on abortion.

“But on abortion, Obama is an extremist,” Hentoff writes. “He has opposed the Supreme Court decision that finally upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act against that form of infanticide. Most startlingly, for a professed humanist, Obama — in the Illinois Senate — also voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. …

He goes on to cite a report that Obama "voted to kill a bill that would have required an abortionist to notify at least one parent before performing an abortion on a minor girl from another state."

Hentoff quotes Obama’s recent campaign statement that if one of his young daughters ever became pregnant ... “I don't want them punished with a baby.”

Hentoff comments: “Among my children and grandchildren are two daughters and three granddaughters; and when I hear anyone, including a presidential candidate, equate having a baby as punishment, I realize with particular force the impact that the millions of legal abortions in this country have had on respect for human life.“

Check out the full column at

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sorry, I won't be there

I've just received an invitation to my high school's "First Annual Alumni Recognition Dinner."

It's an evening for "reconnecting with old friends" and so on.

I won't be going.

It's not because of the cost - $60 per person, $115 per couple - though that certainly makes it less inviting.

To be honest, I've stayed connected with anyone I really wanted to be connected with over the years.

You see, high school was not a happy four years for me.

Get out your violins ...

I was that shy, non-athletic, religious good student afflicted with a bad case of acne who liked literature and, shudder, wrote plays, short stories, and poetry.

Yep, the guy who got called all those names and was the butt of countless jokes.

Geek. Fag. Egghead. Crater face. Arnold Zitful. (Some of my classmates were creative!)

But I was also the guy whose class notes so many people seemed to want.

Oh, not everyone did that sort of stuff. Most did nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

So I won't be going.

The only reason I can see going would be that after seeing my lovely wife a few of my former classmates might be forced to reevaluate their views of me.

But I can enjoy her company at home.

Maybe share a new poem or a song with her.

And we can use that $115 to go out to some place we'd both enjoy and create some new happy memories.

As for folks reading this, I'm not looking for pity. But maybe there are a few other shy types who had similar experiences. Maybe some are going through that sort of thing still.

You are not alone.

There is hope. Hang in there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Post-Pennsylvania limerick

Keystone State voters have spoken
and left Obama's folks chokin'.
"We've got a big lead,
why won't she concede?"
But Clinton quips, "What are you smokin'?"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Prayer in action

The other day I posted at another site about a prayer initiative calling for prayers for the Rochester community.

Someone responded that what Rochester needs is action, not prayers.

I agreed that the community needs action, but that it also needs prayer. The two belong together.

Looking back at history, that has clearly been the case. People of faith - people of prayer - have seen a need, and responded.

In Rochester, for example, they created programs and agencies to help the homeless, battered women, people in need of health care, seniors, the dying, and more.

Think of such places as the Mercy Center, DePaul, the St. Joseph Neighborhood Center, the Open Door Mission, the Salvation Army, Bethany House, the Mercy Center with the Aging, Andrew's Center, Francis House, the Catholic Family Center, Ss. Peter and Paul Soup Kitchen, and more.

All created by people of prayer.

If you look at the nation's top charities (as listed by Forbes), we see a similar pattern of prominent agencies created by people of prayer: The Red Cross, Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, the YMCA, Feed the Children, Goodwill USA, Food for the Hungry, and more.

Prayer and action. The two belong together.

Granted, some of these agencies and programs are no longer directly tied to one religion or another, but that does not negate how they began. Prayer and faith being put into direct action.

We are blessed as a nation to have so many people of prayer reaching out to others.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Reading - about deacons

I was a lector this morning (triple duty today - lector at 8, play with the choir at 9:30, practice with Rock of Faith at 11!).

One of the readings was about the first deacons.

Given my not being canonically acceptable for the diaconate - my own fault - I felt sadness as I prepared and as I read.

Not deep wrenching sadness. More of a whistfulness.

What might have been.

But then, I would not be getting so involved with music were I in the diaconate now.

God uses us where we are.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

We Are a Christian nation (1)

We are a Christian nation

Woman pleads guilty in Craigslist murder-for-hire Lehman sued for charging minority homeowners more Two adults injured fighting off attackers in city home, 5 kids unharmed Ex-coach locked up for raping girl Teen sentenced in slaying Investigator fired over money missing from crime scene Hate Crime Victim Targeted Again DJ accused of having how-to-abuse video Pair accused of killing woman Police discover dogfighting ring Man Is Charged in Sexual Assault on Three Children Probers slog thru pile of paper in Council's cash-stash fiasco Child killer says attorneys can't ethically represent him Camp counselor arrested, accused of teaching 'choking game' Police: Indiana girls beat 12-year-old, posted video online 2nd worker admits theft from city N.Y.C. hospital worker charged: Man is accused of selling patient data as part of an identity theft scheme Teacher accused of biting student Vandals hit garages in city: Swastika-like symbols painted in Highland Park neighborhood

We are a Christian nation

Shooting victim mourned Two in Seneca face arson charges Men face Felony DWI charges Teen, 18, accused of raping child City woman facing charges of cruelty Little League bilked, cops say Killer gets maximum on reduced conviction Woman admits to role in death NYPD officer charged in Pa. bank heist Accountant faces ID theft charge
Feds link cop to bank heists in Manhattan 3 teens accused of defacing synagogue Man faces child porn charges Police look into city shooting YouTube serves up nasty divorce Police probe two stabbings One-year anniversary brings back memories at Virginia Tech Court weighs death penalty for child rapists Bullet hits boy at kitchen table Lawyer locked up over client thefts

We are a Christian nation

(actual headlines)


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Christian Dada Manifesto (repost)

A Christian Dada Manifesto (first thoughts)

Dada grew out of frustration and disillusionment with the world of the World War I era.The Dadaists saw a war of heretofore unimagined scale. They viewed society as rigid and hypocritical and lifeless. They viewed religion as it was conventionally practiced as something bereft of deeper meaning. They viewed western civilization as something controlled by stale, stifling, impotent ideas.

They called for destruction of those ideas. They called for chaos. They called for rejection of all beliefs. They elevated individualism. They used the absurd, the outrageous, the offensive to challenge the world.

The movement died in recrimination. It died when it dove deep into the chaos and drowned in its own excesses. It died in the Dadaists' own self-worship and shallow thinking. It died in their focus on show rather than substance. It died because it was really just a spasm of the world they were rejecting. It died when it was absorbed by society and the world of art and literature.

We now live in a world where we are at war with our very souls. We live in a world that is rigid and hypocritical in its love of excess – of wealth and sensuality and the worship of the individual.

We live on the fruits of Dada and the civilization that spawned it.

But in Dada, as in all of creation, there is truth.

Dada just needed to be baptized.

The world then and the world now is without meaning if we merely look at it through superficial eyes.

But beneath the stale, the stifling, the impotent, beneath the chaos, lies the truth.

What is truth?


Pilate had the answer standing before him, but he did not see.

And the Dadaists just didn’t dive deep enough in their quest to see him.

What is more absurd in the eyes of the world than belief in a God who so loved the world he sent his only son to die on a cross for us?

hat is more absurd than living to serve God rather than gratifying our own cravings?

What is more absurd than self-sacrifice as opposed to serving oneself?

Dada is Calvary.

Dada is transubstantiation.

Dada is the virgin birth.

Dada is the resurrection.

Dada is the Immaculate Conception.

Dada is the Trinity.

Dada is Lourdes.

Dada is Fatima.

Dada is the rosary.

Dada is heaven.

Dada is the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Dada is John the Baptist crying the the wilderness.

Dada is Peter as the first pope.

Dada is Francis of Assisi building churches.

Dada is Pope John Paul II embracing his would-be assassin.

Dada is virginity.

Dada is chastity.

Dada is modesty.

Dada is humility.

Dada is simplicity.

Dada is fasting.

Dada is baptism.

Dada is the Eucharist.

Dada is confession and penance.

Dada is Mea Culpa.

Dada is stigmata.

Dada is the cross.

So what we need is a Christian Dada movement. A movement to challenge the soul of the world with our absurd faith.

Dada is Catholicism.

Catholicism is Dada.

Amen the Amen.


Where's Dada?

A couple of years ago, I touted the idea of Christian Dada.

It allowed for some fun and creativity.

Maybe it's time to bring it back.

To start - a recap.

Next post.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Our Chief Criminal Executive

New York's new governor David Paterson admitted that he committed adultery - repeatedly.

A local Catholic wrote a letter to the editor claiming Paterson broke the law in New York.

I looked it up.

§ 255.17 Adultery. A person is guilty of adultery when he engages in sexual intercourse with another person at a time when he has a living spouse, or the other person has a living spouse. Adultery is a class B misdemeanor.

Wow. At least when people upset at some of the things he does claim the governor is a criminal, technically, they are right!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Missing a Pax Christi meeting

There's a Pax Christi meeting this morning.

I'm not going.

I have a cold, and we're going to see Jesus Christ Superstar tonight, so I have convenient excuses.

Last Sunday there was a meeting I also did not go to. Visiting dad at the nursing home.

But there's more here.

Nice people. But in my brief contact with the locals, I sense what I sensed before.

I am not in sync with them.

I would just grow frustrated. And I'd have to put in a lot of work for something my heart was not fully in.

The older I get, the more I realize that my interests are pretty iconoclastic and artistic, and not people oriented.

I'd rather write and play music and read.

Sometimes I get tired of people.

God was wise to keep me out of the deacon program. I wouldn't be with the new liturgical band I'm in if I'd gotten in. To be honest, I think I'll find the band more fulfilling.

I like being alone. And left alone.

My wife, who is a social being, doesn't understand my dream of heaven.

Me and my dog living in a cottage on the sea shore. Alone. With Jesus stopping by for a cup of coffee and to silently watch the waves.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

More topical poetry

Barack Obama,
neither Muslim, nor Osama.
But his foes are not above lies
to fabricate ties.

David Dunning
claimed while running,
he was a Democratic pol -
guess he fooled us all!

(On a local town supervisor who suddenly switched parties)

As this Clinton/Obama drama drags on
some folks in the Party lament, "No more!"
But there are others who are starting to smile -
a deadlocked convention might turn to Al Gore.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Rock of Faith band

A positive note.

Last Sunday, our new up-tempo music group - Rock of Faith - played its first Mass. (I'm acoustic guitar and vocals.)

We were a hit. People asked if we could play every weekend. Not yet. We played all the songs we knew!

We're actually planning to play once a month to start.

New songs to learn. Plus I'm attempting to write one.

Bad blood

The Bishop is coming to the parish for a Mass next weekend.

The choir director asked if we would be willing to switch from our regular Sunday Mass so we could sing for the Saturday Mass he will be saying.

Most people said yes.

Some said no. Some gave understandable reasons - previous commitments, for example.

But a couple said no, and made it clear they were refusing because they did not want to sing for the bishop.

Such anger and bitterness. Sad.