Saturday, June 29, 2002

I am presently reading Keith Rommel's Spirit of Independence. I think he should let people know ahead of time that the book is deserving of an R rating. It is very dark. I think it could comfortably fall into the dark religious fantasy category. Why am I reading it? I somehow foundg his webpage and I read the first chapter and was very intrigued. I also read the first chapter of another book of his that is forthcoming and liked it. His style captivated me and I really wanted to know what was going to happen, so I ordered the book.

I am half way done and have mixed feelings about the book. The key thing is that the book is not Catholic so the theological outlook is not Catholic. This in itself makes it difficult to appreciate the book because, not only is the story's context beyond my horizon of beliefs, it falls beyond that of many other Christian groups. It is fantasy and fantasy is always a way to explore interesting ideas. His descriptive style, though is excellent.

He definitely has some interesting ideas, but I am not convinced that they are developed the best way possible. There are about six main characters and the book is written from multiple points of view, which is . . . unusual and may be a bit taxing. I am not always put off by multiple POVs, so that is not a major complaint. I'll definitely have more to say when I'm done reading the book. However, it is somewhat of a bear to read. I've seen very positive reviews of the book which was why I purchased it and all I can say for now is that it must be one of those deals that you either like it or you don't.

I feel bad because I could have spent the coin on a CWA-Catholic Writers Association member book and enjoyed a sure thing, but I was so intrigued by this book, and coupled with the fact that I like apocalyptic type stuff and stories that are not overbearing Catholic.

Friday, June 28, 2002

In yesterday's NPR's NPR : All Things Considered for June 27, 2002 show, they had an interesting piece on dissatisfied Bishops which merits a listen. Basically three U.S. Catholic Bishop's including Bishop Sullivan of Brooklyn and Bishop Lipscomb of Mobile were dissatisfied with the final product of the USCCB meeting in Dallas.

Lipscomb was upset that they were making the charter for the protection of children and its prescripts retroactive. He said that to do so, so long after the fact was a violation of the American idea of justice, AND BY REASON, ALSO A VIOLATION OF NATURAL LAW!!!! Bishop Lipscomb is a very intelligent and one of the more influential and powerful Bishops in the USCCB. One wonder's if it was a momentary lapse on his part to suggest that retroacticve retributive justice is a violation of natural law.

If that is the case, then Jewish Holocaust victims are not necessarily entitled to retribution interms of compensation and prosecution of escaped Nazi personel. We could multiply these examples. it is sad that he would say that. It is so clear now, that many of the Bishops are primarily concerned with closing ranks and protecting their brother priests. On the issue of retributive justice, inevitably, the issue of reparations to African Americans for slavery will, it already has in a preliminary way, come up as an issue that the Bishops would have to take a stand on. I wonder where Bishop Lipscomb will stand on that issue.

As for Bishop Sullivan, he stood out during the USCCB meeting as one overly concerned with protecting priests and so I had written him off as hopelessly conservative. But he made some interesting and progressive comments about celibacy and its relevance in our day and age. If nothing else, what I like about him is that he speaks his mind and is not interested in political posturing. He should be careful, if he upsets the big boys he may get shipped to Biloxi, or another very small diocese.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

I like what I see from the Gov. Keating Story in National Catholic Register. it is clear that this is a gentleman who does not intend to tread lightly, I guess to the chagrin of many. I wouldn't go as far as saying that "Luther was right," as Gov. Keating says, because even if Luther was, which is very possible, I still consider him . . . a dud-head. But, I guess if Luther advocated more participation by the laity then, I guess, and i say this with obvious shame in my voice, Luther was right.

I think the one trend that the Vatican and the U.S. Bishops' and perhaps, a whole host of very conservative Catholics, are missing is the fact that U.S. Catholics are being formed with very different views on what the Church is and should be.

I taught a social ethics course at a well known Catholic university as an adjunct faculty member. The students for the most part fell into the moderate to conservative camps of Catholicism, but their questions regarding the Church, its governance and some of its history alerted me to the fact that the Gen Y and D youths and young adults in the U.S. may have very American ideas of the World and Catholicism and the Catholic hierarchy is simply oblivious to this siesmic shift.

I think many conservative Catholics tend to look at the Steubenvilles, University of Dallases, the St. Thomas', etc and think all is well and conservative in young Catholic America. I say not necessarily, at least not for conservatives. I personally like the trend I have observed among Catholic youths and young adults because it infuses much needed new blood and ideas. But for there to be a marriage of this new blood and the Church, the Church structures must prepare themselves to become more elastic or they might break under the weight of new trends and attitudes.

The new is not a bad thing, what is bad is when "the new" forgets that it was born of "the old."

There is a sense in which we can say that Jesus is a clone of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her genetic material was sufficient to produce a full human being. It is, in a sense, a delayed twining. of course the important aspect to note is that the person of Jesus as the Son of God is unaffected by any status accorded his human nature. Nonetheless, Mary does share a special ontological link with Jesus that cannot be discarded lightly.

I conceive of Mary and Jesus as a Eucharistic prayer. Mary is the unconsecrated bread and wine presented. The annuciation would be the epiclesis, i.e., when the Holy Spirit is invoked to bless the gifts and infuse them. In the East, the epiclesis is at the heart of transubstantiation, while in the west we tend to focus on the words of institution. What this shows us is that the entire Eucharistic prayer is the transforming event for the Eucharistic sacrament.

So if Mary's annunciation is then identified with the moment of epiclesis, we can then understand the Eucharistic prayer as the human journey of Christ from conception and climaxing in the words of institution. So what we then have when we receive communion is true contact with the entire life and presence of Christ, including his special ontological link to the BVM.

In the first few centuries in the Eastern part of the Church, the idea persisted, and still does, that the body of Christ was spun from the weave and loom of Mary's body and so Mary is responsible for the sacred flesh of Christ.

Just as we believe that no one can understand God truly except through Christ, I think it is impossible to appreciate Christ fully without acknowledging the full glory of the Mother of God. She was not simply a conduit or tunnel or channel for God to pass through, but the Son of God was created in her womb, BY HER FAITH!

The Blessed Virgin Mary forms the core of Christ's historical existence, whose existence is salvific for us. To deny Mary would be to deny Christ.

Ave Maria!

My wife and I, will soon be going to see the only movie we'll probably see this summer, Minority Report. I am excited, it is about time they did a movie about affirmative action.

Daughters rock!! . . . and wives too!

I just completed Kathryn Lively's Murder Most Trivialand I can say I truly enjoyed it. MMT is a murder mystery that involves Dan Greevey and his son Jason and web of interesting characters. Jason Greevey, concerned for his life, investigates the "coincidental" deaths of two apparently unrelated finalists at a local trivia event. KL weaves in quite a few characters and yet is able to give them sufficient depth. The descriptions and the dialog take you into the world of the Greeveys. You can see the places and almost hear the people. Perhaps, more importantly for me, I could create and imagine the characters as distinct personalities, which makes the story so much easier to read when dealing with that many characters. The story is great, unpredictable and gripping. The Catholicism is genuinely present and yet not over bearing. I did not see this as a Catholic story, rather it was, to me, a story with Catholic protagonists.

There is a genuine feeling of satisfaction when you get to the end of a good mystery novel. I was genuinely satisfied that I had spent three lunch breaks reading MMT.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

My wife and I are now addicted to abc's Alias. I highly recommend it. For fellow Alias fans, my wife thinks Vaugh is still alive and will be washed out somewhere in "the man's" great empire. I think Anna, the Cuban-Russian spy is Sidney Bristow's sister. It is hard to see where they are going with Sloan's character. The only sympathetic aspect of the man, his love for his wife, has been removed from the show, leaving a long, dark and ominous future for Sloan and anyone who now dares to cross his path.

Was Milo Rimbaldi real? Hmm!

I just found this blog on men and women souls, Summa Contra Mundum . . . I guess it is an argument against women's ordination. In my opinion, it is not wise to make speculative statements about souls and such-like, because we simply do not know. Neither is it wise to suggest, even remotely, that the spiritual or metaphysical constitution of a woman has anything to do with the prohibition against their ordination.

There is no argument for or against women's ordination, save that we know of no ordained women by Christ or his apostles and we do not have the authority to act otherwise. Just as imprudent it is to suggest that there is something intrinsic to wheat bread or grape wine that makes them suitable for the Eucharist, save that Christ chose them, perhaps based on the symbolism the Jewish religious culture, so also is it imprudent to make claims about women's souls besaed on metaphysical speculation that is suspect at best. Life, unfortunately or fortunately, is not a logical metaphysical puzzle. It is safer and more reasonable to assert what is known.

I don't think I'll ever sell a single fiction book. Strike that! I'll probably sell, someday, a book of short stories. But probably not a full length work. My writing does not fall neatly into a particular camp so it is not always clear what the Church stands for or if it is presented as good. This severly limits my marketability. My philosophy is that Catholic history is spectrum of true evil and unquestionable good. To ignore either end of the spectrum, though valid for one's own purposes, is not accurate. I love ambiguity and tension and I love presenting the Church as both the repository of good and bad until the kingdom of God comes.

Maybe I was wrong about Voyager, may be it is somewhat anti-religious. I don't think they ever did decide what to do with it. Last nite's rerun was about a race of aliens in the delta quadrant, one of whom discovers the existence of human beings. Moreso, he discovered that both races must hail, at least according to the scientific evidence, from the same planet. This race was a race of dinosaurs who left the earth in the early stages of its development and evolved and thrived in the delta quadrant. Well, their history and myths said that they were originally from the delta quadrant and thus the new discovery about humans and earth was certain to undermine the fundamental assumptions that they had about themselves. So they have a Church-Galileo type trial, with the victim scientist only searching for truth and the religious authorities unconcerned with scientific truth, as their only concern is with maintaining the status quo.

You would think that they could come up with something a touch more original as far as Catholic bashing goes.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

It is embarrassing that the most uncompassionate of the Supreme Court Justices are the ones that are visibly Catholic, namely Thomas and Scalia. They dissented, along with Rehnquist, on the ruling regarding putting the mentally retarded to death. Justice Stevens argues that in 20 states, or there about, the practice has been abolished, not counting the states that have banned the death penalty. Stevens' point is that it is clear that the national sentiment and trend is opposed to the execution of the mentally retarded thus making such actions unusual enough to be considered unusual punishment. The dissenters argued that justice cannot be run by opinion polls.

I'm not a lawyer, nor legal expert, but I don't think the intent of the constitution was to create a bloodthirsty system. If anything, it seems the framers wanted to err on the side of caution and were for civility and leniency (ignore slavery for a moment).

Star Trek Next Generation was decidedly anti-religious. Deep Space Nine was very mystical, some would say, perhaps moreso than necessary. Voyager was religious in orientation but the spin was that religious experiences are a higher level science unaccesible to us, at least, at first blush.

In the future would it ever be licit to transport the Eucharist? I think so, but I also think it would be inappropriate, of course, unless in danger of death. I take that back, I don't think it would be licit to transport the Eucharist. Any attempt to do so may be falling into a misunderstanding of the Eucharist.

The Roman way is to listen much, say little, write nothing . . .

Does anyone watch Star Trek Enterprise? It has to rank as one of the most God awful shows out there. In my top ten bad movies of all time, I would definitely include The Post Man, and Demolition Man. Now, I love bad movies, but some are just plain unwatchable. I like to periodically have a Bad Movie Night. A BMN is a night were you invite a bunch of your most fun loving, sarcastic and cynical friends and watch a bad BUT entertaining movie. Last BMN, we watched "Deep Blue Sea." It was great, bad acting and all but entertaining and fun. My friends made it extra-special with their sarcastic takes, "Oh my! those sharks are really smart!"

Monday, June 24, 2002

It would be great to have a Catholic magazine that was neither overtly conservative or liberal and that covered the news with a Catholic angle: much like NPR's marketplace which covers stories not apparently your usual finance type stories, but they pursue an angle with relevance to the market place.

I am still not convinced that stocks like Oracle, Intel and Cisco are bad long term investments. Technology is still the future and valuations are much more reasonable, not to mention that these are the companies that are poised to captilize on future technological innovations. The internet bubble made life hard for the repuatble companies because they forced an unsustainable demand that the reputable and stable companies had to respond to, or loose market share, not to mention investor credibility.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Would a world without hatred, that is not yet the Kingdom of God, be a fun and interesting world, or would it be a dud? There is soemthing about the tension between light and darkness that gives our human attempt at divine love a special character.

I was very dissappointed in the Brazil-England game. I felt that England had a legitimate opportunity to win the game. They got up one goal and then tried to sit on that lead against a scoring machine like Brazil! How silly! The second Brazilian goal was a silly mistake by the goal keeper who was caught off his line for no good reason. South American teams have always had England's number. But Continental European teams have always had Brazil's number: Holland, Italy, Germany, etc.

I enjoyed the Turkey-Senegal game and even though i was rooting for Senegal, I thought Turkey deserved to win and I am rooting for them to take the whole thing. Germany will definitely beat S. Korea, who had official help getting where they are, and Turkey could very well surprise Brazil, who can score but don't seem to know the Portuguese word for 'defense.' If Turkey could surprise Brazil and face Germany in the final . . . you never know! Germany is not the power-house they used to be.

Unfortunately, I was traveling during the U.S.-Germany game. It is a moral victory that we lost by only a goal!!!

I haven't blogged in a few days because I am in Buffalo for some much needed R&R. It's been good given me more time to reflect. It is amazing how close the scandal is to home, you just never know who has been abused by clergy. I hope the Bishop's realize that there is a systematic problem. (I guess they don't, what was I thinking.)

I think it is so unfortunate that too many conservative Catholics have found a way out by blaming the issue on homosexuality. That's grossly unfortunate because there is a legitimate concern as well with the issue of involuntary celibacy. Paradoxically, in principle, celibacy, in my opinion, is a great thing. But just as you cannot force someone to love you, neither is involuntary celibacy worth anything. It sounds harsh but from my days as one who considered religious life and considered different communities and from my schooling situation in which I have had the opportunity to be around seminarians in formation and many priests, I am no longer convinced about the supposed benefits of celibacy.

While it is true that the issue of homosexuality among seminarians ought to be given a close look, that is not the sole problem. Should they change the rule of celibacy? May be, maybe not; but they need to rethink it and stop making it a standard for orthodoxy and a flash point for controversy. The arguments for celibacy no longer make sense. There were times in the past when I argued passionately for celibacy,but the primary reason was to defend against liberals and because I perceived the value in the ascetic life. Now I understand that the ascetic life only means anything to God if it is voluntary and taken up without hope of reward and as for the liberal-conservative issue, i am neither now. So that's that.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

I think the Vatican's silence in this whole U.S. Scandal is deafening! Where is the voice of moral outrage? Why do we as a Church respond non-chalantly to the pressing issues of the time and then 50 years later, make a major statement decrying the sin/crime and then have a bunch of forgiveness and reconciliation masses?

Life!Ono's thoughts

Another suicide bomb in Israel. It is ultimately saddening. It is sad because there are Palestinians who are tearing our their collective hairs at those whose actions cast a shadow on a whole nation of people. It's always the silent majority against the vocal minority. I've vacilated on what Israel's response should be. I was opposed to that first major incursion months ago and I think it failed to root out the "infrastructure of terrorism," but I Iike the unilateral-pull-out idea in which Israel unilaterally pulls out of Palestinian territory and erects a wall. It would not completely stop suicide bombers because some come from Bethlehem and Jerusalem, but it just might do something.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

I was extremely amused when Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the USCCB announced that Oklahoma Governor, Governor Keating will chair the National lay review panel that would assess the compliance of U.S. dioceses. For some strange, and probably irrational reason, I thought that the lay boards would be made up of Mrs. Jane Smith, homemaker and mother of four, types. I wasn't expecting high powered participation. I was hesitant at the choice because of the possible political overtones and potential compromises, but comments from the Governor have been positive so far. It will be very interesting to see how all this plays out.

Monday, June 17, 2002

The U.S. Bishops' unfortunately did not go as far as they should have gone in order to satisfy the demands of U.S. Catholics. There was still a sense that they are protecting their brother priests. Whatever the perceived demerits of a Zero tolerance system or a one-strike-you're-out policy, especially in cases where there was one instance of abuse 45 years ago and succesful treatment, it was necessary for the Bishops to identify completely with abuse victims and concerned Catholics. However, it seems that they've done enough to silence the issue for now.

Overall I was semi-satisfied with EWTN's coverage of the USCCB. They did not distinguish themselves as a first class news operation (not that that is as important to them as maintaining their very conservative facade). After the first few outburst by Raymond Arroyo, they both settled down to a pretty fair coverage of the proceedings.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Watching the U.S. Bishops over the next few days