Monday, September 30, 2002

Via » »noteblog »[caught In between]

10 movies you'd watch over and over:

Ben Hur, Small Soldiers, Glory, King and I, The Shawshank Redemption, Independence Day, Class Action, The Hunt for the Red October, Entrapment, Dave

9 people you enjoy the company of:

My wife, my daughter, . . .

8 things you're wearing:

Navy blue long sleeve shirt, watch, looney toon socks, black shoes, work ID badge, wedding ring, t-shirt, black pants

7 things on your mind:

Health insurance, my small biz, finishing my school degree, money to create a biz catalog/brochure, my daugther's health, my wife's health

6 objects you touch every day:

Car keys, wallet, door knob, computer, bible, mail

5 things you do everyday:

log on, pray, eat, work, watch TV

4 bands that you couldn't live without:

Andre Crouch and the Disciples, Bob Marley and the Wailers, ___, ___.

3 of your favorite songs of the moment:

Waiting for the Son--Andre Crouch, Pray--Andre Crouch, Save the People--Andre Crouch

2 people who have influenced your life the most:

Jesus,Mary (on human level: hard to say)

1 person who you love more than anyone in the world:

MY wifedaughter

While definitely not the most outrageous google search to find my blog, I found this amusing:

neo nazi chick haircut

Here come the Bills.

Be afraid, be very afraid!!!

Still undecided about the dark pants

Via ibidem blog.

Stupid college students...An Oklahoma State University fraternity apologized to the public Thursday after a photograph
appeared on the Internet showing one of its members in a Ku Klux Klan hood, another in blackface and a third with a Confederate flag bandanna.

People refuse to accept, by and large, that racism is very much alive and well among the younger generations and whence cometh this sort of thing? What makes it terrible is that these actions tend to be dismissed as "mistakes," misguided," etc. but these action betray something inimical on the inside already there and something that will be there for a long time.

Movie:The Magdalene Sisters (2003)

In his second feature film, actor Peter Mullan (My Name Is Joe) has created an unflinching and compelling drama that will make your blood boil. Up until 1996, profit-making laundries throughout Ireland operated by the Sisters of the Magdalene Order used young women as virtual slaves. An estimated 30,000 girls went through this system, sent to Magdalene Asylums for their so-called sexual improprieties — having a child out of wedlock or being a "temptress." These poor souls were forced to work in silence seven days a week in laundries without pay. The intent of the sisters was to drive wayward souls to repentance through prayer and hard work. The asylums were named after Mary Magdalene, the prostitute who repented and was forgiven by Jesus.

NPR : The Mideast : A Century of Conflict

Sounds like a good one. If you've always wanted to know how we got where we are today in regard to the Middle East, this is the story to listen to.

At mass on Sunday the priest made a big deal about Pepsi. He said that they have a new patriotic can that has on it the pledge of allegiance but with the words "under God" removed. He went on to say that Pepsi defended this with the statement that they did not want to offend anyone. As a result, the priest suggested that he would not want to offend them by sending them his money which has the phrase "under God."

I did check the pepsi website and they specifically deny the "rumor." They note that the rumore began circulating last year and it simply is not true.

I'm glad I do not have a bad heart. The way the Buffalo Bills are playing I feel sorry for those fans with heart problems. They won yesterday, in overtime, again, but it was bonehead plays that kept getting them in trouble. But the drive for the superbowl is still on. I'm not seeing who in the AFC can take the Bills. The Raiders can't, Steelers are a joke . . .

Alias season premiere on last nite.

I wasn't too thrilled, but I understand what they were trying to do. They had to introduce new viewers to the cast and catch them up with what's going on. I felt that they moved too quickly on many fronts: the situation with her mother, Kasinow, Vaughn, etc. I did feel this way last year too and it worked out so, I'll let J.J. Abrams do his thing. I do think that the fact that Sidney Bristow's mother turned herself into the CIA presents a huge problem and a very, very interesting story line. I am excited about that aspect.

I also saw The Practice. I liked it and I daresay they are going to get Dylan McDermott's wife out of prison. The Practice is often predictable but it is a formula that works.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

I listened to Fr. Stan Fortuna for the first time today. The CD I listened to is called
Sacro Song.
It was pretty much a rap album. It is catchy and fun, I liked it. In my Protestant days I used to listen to a group called Soldiers for Christ, now, they were hard core rap. I don't listen to much rap, primarily because the lyrics scare me away, but whenever I can get clean lyrics and great beat, I'm there.

I just watched Ralph Nader on CSPAN giving his anti-IMF/World Bank speech on the national mall. I think I'm going to vote for Nader in two years if he is still in the running.The reason? It would a frozen night in you know where before I throw a vote for Bush and co, again. The Democrats aren't looking too great either. Of course, if McCain's in the running, I might consider him.

My main thing is that the administration and congress absolutely have to solve this insurance craziness. It is simply out of control. Also poverty has to be addressed and we need people to stand up against the mighty corporations.

I guess the whole Gerard thing has exploded on the St. Blog's scene. I personally am not thrilled with Gerard's response and take on the issue. It seems a touch Clintonesque, too much word parsing and technicality speech. The nature of things is that it is very difficult to live these things down, this is why contemplating the effects of sin before hand is most important because you understand that there's no way out.

I'm not seeing an overwhelming resevoir of support for Gerard and I think because of some of "little nastiness" in many of his postings. I'm just amazed that for someone who had skeletons he was very outspoken and abrasive in doing so.

I, like many, feel that there was something inappropriate about the Cardinal doing what he did. It still boils down to the fact that the Bishops, are absolving themselves of responsibility for many of these problems. I think he should have released the list, but with prior warning to those included and with his letter of resignation for concealing this information and allowing these men to continue in ministry when many shouldn't have.

The other thing is that I think many Catholics missunderstand the nature of forgiveness and of the world. If I poison a stream, it is poisoned. The stream owner may forgive me, that is, no longer hold this against me, but still, Pandora's box is open. And the nature of things is that you have to relive it over and over again. This is where the sinner asks for courage to over and over accept responsibility and possibly the anger of others. It is so hard to run away from our pasts, so we just have to face them. This is why Heaven is so appealing, because then it'll all be over. But as long as we are here, you can't easily flee your past, so try to face it and don't blame others when it resurfaces.

Friday, September 27, 2002

ER is on its way down. I jumped on the ER band wagon two seasons ago. When my wife was on bed rest she watched quite a bit of ER reruns and we got into it. But then we noticed that last season the show began to go down the drain. The attempted romance between Dr. Lewis and Dr. Carter had nothing to it, just as Carter and Abby have nothing to their relationship now. The writers also took a very dark turn and began to play on existential themes, moving away from the sharp, fast-paced medical discourse that characterized the show previously. They also turned Carter into a immature brooding and jaded person, which is not him.

The loss of Dr. Green and Peter Benton, two irreplaceable actors, was monumental. It seems that Carter is now going to be the Mark Green, i.e., the key personality in the show.To "replace" Eric LaSalle (Benton) they brought in a black actor to play a Dr. Gantt, a baby faced, goody guy with military experience. The character had major potential, but due to a combination of bad character writing and development and bad acting on his part, his character has been a bust. They also brought in another black guy, Mekki Phifer, I guess to be another Peter Benton. They just don't get it, Benton was a unique character, he is irreplaceable. This new guy is arrogant, brash, etc like Benton was, but he is just not as good an actor as LaSalle was.

Dr Susan Lewis, an original ER character who returned to ER last year is a mess. She had so much potential, but her character is now so shallow and undeveloped and uninteresting. Ming-Na, Dr. Chen, also came back to the show last year and her character has nothing of substance. I suspect they'll try to do an interracial romance thing between her and Phifer, especially since she had a baby with a character played by Morris Chesnut.

The writers need to start over with these people and develop the relationships that gave ER its depth. It was the characters that made it interesting, now there are few interesting characters left.

Strengths: Maura Tierny (Abby),

Paul McCrane (Romano)

Weaknesses: Everyone else

Sally Field and Don Cheadle are supposed to join the cast for a few weeks which should make for more interesting drama. Nonetheless, ER's last chance was yesterday, I'm out.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Little Rock integration, 45 years later - Sep. 26, 2002

Forty-five years after soldiers led her past a screaming mob outside Central High School, Minnijean Brown-Trickey made a tranquil return to the campus that became a civil rights battleground.

Now age 61, she said she can return to this place with a sense of peace -- without constantly hearing the sounds and replaying the images in her head of what happened on this spot when she was 16. - Teens most likely to have sex at home - Sep. 26, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Parents wondering if their teenagers are having sex might look upstairs or down the hall. New research finds most sexually active teens first had sex in their parents' homes, typically late at night. - MGM: No cuts to 'Barbershop' - Sep. 26, 2002

MGM said Wednesday it has no plans to respond to a threat by Sharpton that he will call for a boycott of the movie if the studio does not apologize by Friday, or to make changes to any future video versions.

Unless I'm mistaken, the movie has been out for two weeks now, a boycott of the movie would be difficult, don't you think? - Bush calls for civil debate on Iraq - Sep. 26, 2002

I suppose this Bush's way of apologizing.

He also needs to answer to the fact that he gave out pictures of himself on AF1 on 9-11 for fundraisers . . . now, that is low.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Here's an email I received which I thought I should share this

The email is a response to a comment I made at Amy Welborn's site in regard to EWTN. I noted that I had watched EWTN faithfully for a while when I had just returned to the Church, but with time I was unable to stand watching the network.

Hi, I read with interest your comment on EWTN and that you can no longer bear to watch it, though it had some role in your returning in the Church. I'm just curious - specifically, why can you no longer bear to watch?

I think EWTN is fine, good and does a great job. I guess my concern is with the overly conservative tone of the network. I tend to be more moderate with my Catholicism and in some things, liberal. So as you can imagine, watching the constant onslaught on all things not particularly conservative, on EWTN is rather difficult. I am grateful to the network for being there when I most needed answers and I wish they'd come more to
the middle

Nota Bene makes the following comment in a much longer post.

This situation reminds me of some thoughts that I had last summer following the tragic death of Martin Burnham. He and his wife had been evangelical missionaries in the Philippines and then been held prisoner for close to, if not more than a year. All the while their children were in America under the care of relatives.

I accept that all Christians are called upon to participate in some way in the mission of the Church. However, I think that this work of evangelization should be done in the context of their first vocation, to be husband and wife, father and mother. Now in saying this I am not excluding the possibility that spouses and even entire families might be able to work to proclaim the Gospel in a foreign land.
Emphasis mine

I find this very interesting because it has been a long time observation of mine about contemporary Catholic culture. The fact that being a parent is considered one's first vocation and also about the relative lack of the missionary mindset among Catholics.

Protestants have a very long and venerable missionary tradition, where families have gone to every corner of the globe to preach the gospel. I think that because of the Catholic hierarchy and the fact that they were pretty much responsible for "everything" up until Vatican, when more responsibilities were given to lay folk, contemporary Catholic culture has no missionary mindset to speak of. Lay Catholics have tended to leave that sort of thing to the hierarchy or religious orders, while Protestants see it as their individual responsibilities to carry out the missionary mandate of Christ.

Also, the focus on family as first vocation is interesting. It is the feeling of many Catholics, especially conservative, that family is one's primary vocation. Protestants, not that they are not concerned about family, see God's work as primary and family has to be secondary a la Luke where XT says leave mother, father, brother, etc.(note that Jesus specifically mentions wife, family and children).

I happen to be more sympathetic to the Protestant view due to my Protestant background. I have discussed this with Catholics who note that care for one's family is vocation, so how can one have a vocation that does not include this idea? I never argue with this point of view because which ever view point you have is assumption laden and tends to be based on one's background and preferences.

I do think the focus on family first in Catholic circles comes from the fact that there is nothing in the Church for lay people to do besides family and parish. Most spiritual responsibilities lie in the hands of the hierarchy or religious, numerous statements to the contrary notwithstanding. On the other hand, many Protestants see themselves as primary and essential in the most essential work of Christ's commission.

Another interesting point is that there are many accounts in the early church, when the faithful were being killed for not denying XT, of children being used to tempt mothers to deny XT. The idea was that they would appeal to the mother's love for her child and point out the consequences of death, abandoning the child. But the mothers would accept death rather than deny XT and often their children followed suit.

My thinking is that when it is all said and done, on judgment day, individuals, not families will stand before God.

Ethical Philosophy Selector via Flos Carmeli

1. Aquinas (100%)
2. Aristotle (89%)
3. Spinoza (74%)
4. Augustine (72%)
5. Ockham (72%)
6. Mill (63%)
7. Bentham (56%)
8. Kant (54%)
9. Rand (54%)
10. Cynics (51%)
11. Hume (51%)
12. Sartre (41%)
13. Prescriptivism (41%)
14. Nietzsche (39%)
15. Epicureans (36%)
16. Stoics (36%)
17. Plato (32%)
18. Hobbes (25%)
19. Noddings (24%)

Unfortunate, because I cannot stand Aquinas. If there is a medieval philosopher that I like, it is Duns Scotus. Aristotle--I'm not a big fan either, but like Aquinas, he makes a lot of sense, I just don't agree with too much of it.

Spinoza? I must confess ignorance, I know general outlines of his thought but not enough to comment. As for Augustine, I would have thought that I am closer to Augustine. I happen to be a big theological fan of the school of thought that goes from Plato to neo-Platonists to Augustine to Anslem to Bonaventure and Scotus and yes, I do like many things in Ockham, at least, the little I know.

Bentham . . . I do see merits of Utilitarianism and being an Economics major in undergrad, I was profoundly influenced by aspects of Adam Smith's thought (not that he was a utilitarian, but there are common threads in the British philosophical tradition).

I don't know this for a fact but I heard that when Cardinal Mahoney closed down a bunch of offices last week, including Gay & Lesbian, Peace & Justice, African American and Hispanic, which affected 60 people, he did not personally break the news to them but sent someone to do the dirty work. No advance warning, just a quick axe.

On the other hand I understand that Cardinal Egan did visit with each of the people who were being let go in the cuts. Now that's backbone.

The other thing that is alarming is why the Hispanic office and the African American Vicariate got the axe. LA happens to be one of the areas with a very large and active black Catholic population and this is going to hurt. But the most mind numbing move is the closing down of the Hispanic office . . . IN LA!!!!

I found out a few months ago that California did not have a state Catholic Conference. I haven't confirmed that but I think that that is the case. If it is, then they need to get on the ball because that state is huge and abortion right activists are looking to and have scored some points in California. A state conference can work at coordinating lobbying efforts and informing the local dioceses and parishes about upcoming and pending legislation and also about candidates. Unless, of course, there is a body that fulfills that role. But even then, I doubt that such a body would have as much clout as a state Catholic conference.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Scientists find to keep wool white -
via /Karen/


The "concept of a 'preventive war' does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church," Cardinal Ratzinger noted.
"One cannot simply say that the catechism does not legitimize the war," he continued. "But it is true that the catechism has developed a doctrine that, on one hand, does not exclude the fact that there are values and peoples that must be defended in some circumstances; on the other hand, it offers a very precise doctrine on the limits of these possibilities."

I guess there is the question of what exactly constitutes a war. If there is no declaration but a substantial deployment of forces and very targetted by significant strikes, is that a war or a raid that falls out of the definition of war?

Very targetted strikes strikes would be the way to go.

The Catechism says

All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.

However, "as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed."106

The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

there must be serious prospects of success;

the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine.

The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

U.S. self defense argument is a stretch, but we can argue that a greater evil is being prevented than is certain to be caused if no action is taken. What Bush and his people need to do is convince us and the world that the danger is imminent and that this situation is not a new doctrine but an exception given unique circumstances. The reason is that we could very well find ourselves in tricky situations with Russsia taken preventative action against places like Georgia or China, Taiwan and other powers could engage in such action.

If is not entirely clear to me that we don't face as much of a risk with Pakistan who has nuclear weapons and the extremists with the will to use them.

Vatican leaning toward OK of experimental application of U.S. norms

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is leaning toward approval of an experimental application of the U.S. bishops' norms on clerical sex abuse, perhaps after some clarifying language is added, a senior Vatican official said.

"This would not be a rejection by the Vatican, nor would it be a formal 'recognitio' of the norms," the official said Sept. 23. Instead, the Vatican would allow the norms to be applied "ad experimentum" -- the Latin phrase signifying temporary or provisional use.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, emphasized that a final decision had not yet been made, and the Vatican response had still not been written.

But he said the "prevailing sentiment" was to recognize that the norms were formulated by U.S. bishops as an experimental initiative -- to be evaluated after a two-year period. Therefore, the Vatican would respond with a conditional form of approval.

The solution, if adopted, appeared to represent a compromise. On one hand, U.S. bishops would be allowed to follow the norms they overwhelmingly approved in Dallas last June. On the other, the Vatican would not be officially recognizing the norms as a "particular law."

Many church legal experts at the Vatican and elsewhere have voiced criticism of the norms, saying they would not allow priests to effectively defend themselves from accusations. Among other things, the norms call for removing a priest from his church ministry when a "credible accusation" of sex abuse against a minor is received.

The delicate internal discussion on the norms, involving five Vatican agencies, was still continuing in late September. A draft of the final response was expected to be reviewed by Pope John Paul II in early October, Vatican sources said.

Sometime before the middle of October, the response -- probably in the form of a letter -- was expected to go out to the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville, Ill., the sources said.

The senior Vatican official said it was possible that the Vatican might indicate some norms that need further study or wording changes before even conditional approval is granted.

In interviews in mid- and late September, informed Vatican sources said they considered the norms as well-intentioned but "imperfect."

They said the main problems with the norms as drafted were the unspecified time range for prosecuting such crimes, the unusual role of diocesan and national review boards, and ambiguity over the definition of some key terms -- such as "credible allegation" of sexual abuse.

On the other hand, some officials said, the Vatican appreciated that U.S. bishops had to act quickly and forcefully to confront the scandal of clerical sex abuse and rebuild the trust of the faithful. They said the Vatican did not want its response to appear as a "quashing" of the bishops' pastoral initiative or as a break with U.S. church leaders over the sex abuse scandal.

The issue was being handled in concert by Vatican agencies dealing with bishops, doctrine, the sacraments, clergy and church law. In late June, the agencies began requesting written input on the norms from a wide circle of experts.

Those interviewed by Catholic News Service spoke on condition of confidentiality, reflecting Vatican sensitivity on an issue that has caused the church great pain and damage.

They identified several areas where, in their view, the norms as written were incompatible with "universal law" or raised questions that need clarification:

-- The norms provide for a priest's permanent removal from ministry for any single act of sexual abuse against a minor -- "past, present or future." The Vatican sources said that in a legal sense this unlimited time frame would be unique, and in a pastoral sense it seems to go against the basic principle that a sinner can be redeemed.

Some Vatican officials said they were shocked to see U.S. priests removed from ministry on the basis of single episodes of sex abuse going back 30 or 40 years.

-- The norms call for establishment of diocesan and national review boards that are, in theory, consultative. But Vatican officials are bothered by some language that seems to suggest the bishops would be held accountable to these boards; they see that as an unacceptable infringement on the bishop's authority, or alternatively as an unacceptable delegation of his responsibility.

On a more practical level, Vatican officials are upset at the recent statements of Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, chairman of the bishops' National Review Board on sexual abuse. Among other things, Keating has pressured bishops to immediately implement the bishops' sex abuse policies and said he will release the names of those who do not.

In late July, Keating said that Catholics who find their bishop in flagrant violation of the new sex abuse policies should show their displeasure by withholding contributions and going to Mass in another diocese.

One Vatican official called Keating's statements "ridiculous" and another said his appointment to head the review board was a "huge, huge, huge mistake."

-- The norms make "credible allegation" the standard for relieving a priest of his ministry pending an investigation, but do not say who determines what is "credible."

In the eyes of some experts, this provision combined with language in the bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" implies that before a return to ministry an accused priest would have to prove the "credible allegation" was unfounded. They said this would reverse the standard legal principle by which a person is innocent until proven guilty.

-- The norms provide for bishops to request the dismissal from the priesthood of a priest-offender, even against his will. While acknowledging that this procedure has been used in a few particularly urgent cases in recent years, some Vatican experts questioned whether it should or could be written into a standard nationwide policy. They said it does not allow a defendant the same type of protection as foreseen in a judicial process.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Re: Buffalo vs. Denver

Click, Open mouth, click . . . insert foot, click . . .

Here's a comment I posted at In Between Naps on Amy Grant, with a couple additional comments.

You're right Carl, there was a time when divorce would destroy an evangelical Christian's ministry, but not anymore. I think a turning point was when it was revealed that Sandi Patti was involved in an adulterous relationship with a member of her touring band. People were very quick to forgive her and put it all behind them and move on.

Also along the lines of Amy Grant, it was public knowledge, pretty soon after she was married, that her then husband, Gary Chapman, had a serious substance abuse problem and many people saw her handle that situation pretty well for many years. So I guess there was an abundance of sympathy in the wings for her.

AS for her music, her early stuff was very good. In fact she made the song "El Shaddai" famous, and thta is a truly beautiful and inspiring song. After that album, the one that followed was one that was good but she had begun to use vague lyrics. Nonetheless, she had a few songs that were explicitly Christian, especially one that sang the Psalm, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. 1985 was when she realized that she had major secular pull, especially with the song "Every Where I Go." On that album there was little mention, if any, of God. And since then, she's lived in that vague land of "love" etc.

I don't keep up with contemporary Catholic music but, I think they need to study closely the history of contemporary Christian music so that they can avoid the pitfalls of CCM.

In opposition to the career of Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, I think, has remained explicitly Christian (I don't follow this stuff any more but I did see him in a recent concert televised on TBN).

Andrea Crouch
Andre Crouch, who was perhaps the Guru of all Christian singers, after successes in the 70s tried his hand on a secular type album in 1981 called "Don't Give Up." I recently purchased the CD. It wasn't received to well at the time because his distinctive sound included his choir and even though the choir was on this album, it was a departure from his traditional music. But I can attest to the coolness and bite of the funk. He had mostly the same musicians that he'd always used, Bill Maxwell (white brother with some serious funk) on drums, Abraham Laboriel (Afro-Mexican and the best bassist in the world, sorry Stanley Clark, Marcus Miller, etc.), Harlan Rogers on Keyboards (Andre also plays the piano), Justo Amario on horns, Alex Acuna on percussion (yes, the world famour Alex Acuna) and Hadley Hockensmith a lead guitarist who never quite received his due on the guitar scene. These musicans are all hard core with the funk, all of Andre Crouch's music in the 70s was slammin. So the brief move into the more contemporary sound of the day wasn't necessarily out of the ordinary. I think the problem was that regular church choirs couldn't sing those songs which is how they gain in popularity in the black community.

By the way, on this album, Louis Johnson, the bassist in the duo Brothers Johnson, played on a couple of songs. Louis Johnson was especially known for "machine gun" plucking style. Louis Johnson did a lot of studio work with Quincy Jones, so that gives you a sense of his quality. Louis Johnson in 1981, along with his wife and another man, briefly formed a Christian group called Passage. One of their more popular songs that received secular airtime was "Oh-oh, I see the light, the Lord is givin' . . ."

Louis Johnson

The Winans also had a brief foray into more contemporary styles in 1986(?) with the Album Let my People Go and Tramaine Hawkins did something similar, I forget the name of her album. I don't think they did that well. It was not until the early 90s that the contemporary sound made its way into Christian music and stuck. Many tried, but the quality was lacking, but the one's mentioned here were all top notch. The Winans album that I mentioned was executive produced by Quincy Jones.

Another person that is worth mentioning is Carman. I'd say his music is quite anti-Catholic in some spots but it is good listening, creative and sometimes funny. Carman

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Okay Buffalo plays Denver tommorrow. This will be a big test. I'll take the Bills by seven in another high scoring duel. Bills win, 35-28. Denver is supposed to be pretty good, but I think the Bills might have a little something in the works.

Notre Dame!! What is the deal, 4-0?? I am glad Willingham is doing well but, 4-0 is a little much, they are not that good.

What do you do on a Saturday night after a long workday and no brain power left? . . . Watch Miss America!

Hey, there was nothing else to watch except the Tremors Trilogy and the snippets I saw bordered on the insanely stupid.

I thought Wayne Brady did pretty well. He was smooth. Tony Danza was painful to watch last year. Miss Illinois won. I suspected she would half way through the show because she is the poster child for the "browning of America," White father, Native/African American mother. She was not necessarily undeserving but her talent performance was lack luster and none of them distinguished themselves in the quiz section.

I was rooting for Miss Maryland until she botched the question and answer part. I honestly though that the Miss Nevada candidate or Miss Oklahoma would and probably should have won.

If I had 10 lives, I would be a . . .
1. Full time music composer
2. Mathematician
3. Theologian
4. Full time writer
5. Professional pianist/organist
6. Preacher
7. Corporate Executive
8. Paleontologist
9. Biologist
10. Chef

Anyone know of a good website to learn about COBRA?

I'm sure all most bloggers have run into this type of thing. Someone did a search on a search engine for "homosexuality during carribean slavery" and my page came up . . . no! no! not as number 1, it was the eighth or ninth.

Friday, September 20, 2002

I am now at the point with my small business that I think I need to devote myself to it full time. The problem is that I have a full time job which pays quite well and has good benefits and this job has helped us grow the biz without being in a tight crunch all the time. To get health insurance for a family through my small biz will come to about $500-$600/ month and it could rise without warning. It is so tempting to remain in my present job with its great benefits package etc.

Being that it is a Catholic business that sells books and gifts and Church supplies, I really need to do more physical sales calls in the local market which I am not now able to do. It is somewhat scary to think of leaving my present situation, but I need to take that step of faith or I won't grow. It is ironic that while there are people looking for jobs, I am considering leaving mine. Big step, but we all have to take such steps at some point in life.

I just finished writing a short story last night and I significantly revised another. I was going to put them together to form a small collection of short stories. The problem is that I only have 4 stories which come to a total of about 70 pages. To publish or not to publish. I could write another 30 pager but I don't have any ideas. I am working on a longer novel which I don't want to be tempted to convert into a short one.

The novel I am working on is about a guy recovering from his divorce to a woman he still loves, he becomes infatuated with a woman, married, he sees often. In the mean time his relationship with a female co-worker, which was once ultra-competitive, is now improving and they are fast becoming friends. They guy's co-worker and friend is struggling with the fact that she might be gay while the guy is struggling with his attraction to this married woman he sees often. He has a friend who is a wise and good priest, who has to mediate between all these struggles and desires. I like the idea, I hope I have the patience to pull it off. There will be a twist here and there. I'm not sure that it would have any explicit didactic qualities.

I was also working on one which was about an assasination attempt at World Youth Day. I'm not sure if that can go anywhere, but I'll see.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

There's also a Catholic novel in progress by Suzanne Fortin, about 15 chapters of free and in progress reading.

For those who like Catholic fiction, here's a new work called The Samurai and the Tea by Cathy Brueggemann Beil with a sample chapter.

Back to Work Guide - Why women make better managers - Microsoft bCentral

Researchers are discovering physiological variations in the brains of men and women. For example, male brains are about 10% larger than female brains. But women have more nerve cells in certain areas. Women also tend to have a larger corpus collusum — the group of nerve fibers that connects left and right hemispheres. That makes women faster at transferring data between the computational, verbal left half and the intuitive, visual right half. Men are usually left-brain oriented

Uh, this is 2 compleecated for mi, duh.

This morning on NPR's morning edition they had a report on Secretary Rumsfeld testifying before congress on war with Iraq. Of course, everyone in the administration is insisting that the President is considering all his options and that even non-violent means of disarmament are not off the table. Well, a democratice senator asked Mr. Rumsfeld for an example of a non-violent option that is being considered. Guess what? Rumsfeld was momentarily stumped, he had no ready answer and then came up with the line that Saddam Hussein could step down and that could be the non-violent scenario. I wonder why they are all so war thirsty?

The other thing that struck me was the fact that Mr. Rumsfeld said something like, while the war with Iraq would be our problem, however, the political aftermath in Iraq would be an issue for the Iraqi people and not our primary problem, after all, we can't tell them how to constitute themselves.

This is ultimately scary, obviously he hasn't put as much thought and concern into the aftermath as he has into the war. The war pales in level of difficulty when compared to the aftermath of the war. That's where we really need to roll up our sleeves. If we are not willing to commit major dollars and 10-15 years in the rebuilding of Iraq, then we have no biz goingt to war on such a major scale. I think they could do what Israel has done in the past, use intelligence ON THE GROUND, nto that silly satellite stuff, to determine targets and use precision bombing to take them out. Also they could increase the no-fly zone. On the other hand, I would support an easing of sanctions for the sake of the Iraqi people, but increase sanctions on technological trade. Of course the problem is China, Russia, North Korea, Pakistan and possibly Iran, who have precision missle technology and could eventually leak this knowledge to Iraq.

After this whole Iraq thing is over, if ever, the administration will also have to decide what to do about Iran and North Korea and I submit, invasion and regime change talk is not an option especially in N. Korea. For this reason they need to tread lightly here so that there is consistency in foreign policy going forward. Why invade Iraq but not Iran and North Korea. If we cite repeated violation of UN security council resolutions on Iraq's part, and a lack of such violations on the part of Iran and N. Korea, then we are then bound by the UN's decision because we are claiming to take action for the sake of violations against the UN. If we say that the US is threatened, valid concern, then we need to articulate why this threat differs from that which Iran and N. Korea pose. I think that such an articulation can be done, but it is delicate and I think such considerations should guide their foreign policy going forward.

NCR: Story on National Black CatholicCongress IX

NCR had good coverage on the Congress, here's an interesting snippet.

Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, the most visible symbol of the hierarchy’s failure to curb abuse, received warm applause as his presence at the congress was officially acknowledged.

“No one should be surprised at that reaction,” Sr. Anita Baird, president of the National Black Sisters Conference, told NCR. “Black Catholics have long memories. Law was one priest in the 1960s who spoke out for us in Mississippi. He has come to all four of our congresses [held every five years since 1987], and he’s a friend to the black community.” Baird, a member of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, said black reaction to Law’s problems is like their reaction to those of former President Bill Clinton. “It doesn’t mean we condone wrongdoing or don’t think people should be held accountable,” she said. “But when Clinton was being clobbered by Congress and by most of the nation, we remembered all the people he put into positions of authority and the black leaders who had access to him. As a matter of fact, he is still our president.”

FYI, it really was interesting to see Cardinal Law at the National Black Catholic Congress, he was very relaxed and did seem comfortable. He has generally been considered a friend of the black Catholic community and it was evident.

I do recall him once getting up during the USCCB November meetings in Washington, D.C. and requesting that the Bishops produce a document with an official apology for condoning slavery. Like Sr. Baird says, the black community has a very long memory and it remembers when people stand up for them and the community will support that person long afterwards. And like she says, this is why many black people have a soft spot for Clinton, including myself. This was the one U.S. president of recent times who seemed to genuinely care about African Americans and the community would be hard pressed to forget that.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

There's some talk in St. Blogs regarding Andrew Sullivan's article that says something like the next Pope might make this one seem like a liberal. The context is that the center of Christianity is shifting to the developing world and the Christianity in these areas is more conservative.

It is true that the Christianity of say Africa or Latin America or some of Asia is very conservative, but it is a different kind of conservatism than you'd find in the US or in Europe. For one, they are more culturally attune and accepting of different models of viewing the Church, theology, worship, etc and also, issues of social justice. So even if the next Pope, or subsequent Popes are conservative because they hail from one of the aforementioned regions, they more hold the party line on issues like women's ordination, etc, but they'll but open to radical changes in worship, theology etc.

Bush and Rumsfeld prepare to attack Iraq sans International backing. It's hard to interpret what the adminsitration is doing. Their firm resolve to attack Iraq, has made it clear that everyone has to choose sides, thus that resolve has turned the UN on our side. However, when the administration does isolationist saber rattling, it puts our middle eastern allies, most especially Saudi Arabia in a bind. Under UN support, the Saudi government will let us use their bases but without it, it is very difficult for them to permit such use.

The isolationist talk may be more posturing in order to cut to the chase and spare any political UN BS, but there is also a sense that Bush is serious about this going in alone thing. This war is going to cost no less that $200 billion and when those body bags start coming home, there could be fall out. Our generation has not seen the body bag phenomenon yet, so I hope Bush and his advisors move with clear heads.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

NPR's morning edition reported this morning that a Yemeni newspaper is reporting that a man divorced his wife because he said that she talked too much. He is now marrying (or married) to a woman who can neither speak nor hear.

National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life: check it out.

A disturbing fact, from a couple of years back, I don't know what the status of this statistic is today, but a couple of years ago, more black children were aborted in Harlem than were born. Tragedy!!

Franciscan Father Jim Goode, OFM, Founder and President of the National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life believes that it is time for the African American Community to realize the great threat that abortion is to the future of all Black Americans. More than 13 million African American babies have been killed since abortion was legalized in 1973. Black women have a third of all the abortions even though Blacks are only 12% of the U.S. population- it’s a horrible tragedy. The National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life joins hands with the National Right to Life’s Black Americans for Life outreach to spread the good news that we are all God’s children and that we need to work together to protect life—all human life.

Opening liturgy at the National Black Catholic Congress IX

D.C. Jail Mistakenly Released 4 Inmates (

The D.C. jail erroneously released four inmates during a six-day period last month, among them a student from Pakistan who threatened to kill President Bush a week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and who should have been delivered to federal authorities for a deportation proceeding.

Monday, September 16, 2002 Monday Mission

1. Do you have a favorite piece of poetry or prose written by someone else? Care to share it?

I like Yeates, "turning and turning . . . the falcon cannot hear the falconer, etc."

I am absolutely nuts about King James Prose. I love to read the book of Job in KJV and also the book fo lamentations.

This guy and this guy love poetry, I think.

2. In High School, did you enjoy creative writing? Do you currently do any other writing in addition to your Blog?

I love creative writing, always did. And I do creating writing outside of my blog. I think I'm getting better.

3. Have you ever noticed that the Blog entries you least expect to get the most comments do, and those you expect to generate a lot of feedback don't? Which Blog entry of yours surprised you by getting a lot of comments? Which one did you think would generate a lot but didn't?

The post about Jesus being a clone of Mary created a ripple. The ones that didn't generate as much comment were posts on reparations for slavery. I got some but very few, which is actually what I preferred, I just thought I'd get an avalanche of hate mail or something.

4. Sometimes you get a chance to make a lifestyle change that has a huge impact on the course your life takes. That is, a moment where something became very clear to you, and that realization changed your life, such as: the need to leave a relationship, to stop an addiction, to bond with someone, to start a new career, and so on. Have you ever had an "awakening" moment in your life?

A few, for instance when I went from being anti-Catholic to deciding that I am going to be Catholic. Also when I decided that I wanted to get married and have children instead of being a priest. That happened after my friend at the time, my wife now, and I went to a couples' place for dinner. The absolute mayhem that ensued in getting the kids settled, preparing dinner, toys everywhere, etc, made me decided that this madness was the life I wanted.

5. Then there are other times where you can have a huge impact on someone else's life. You suggest they see a doctor, stop them from taking that last drink, or maybe just say some kind words at the moment. Have you made a lasting positive impact on the life of someone else?

I don't think so.

6. Are there any charities or organizations which you support? How did you come to be involved with them?

Catholic Relief Services, they do very fine work in places of the world that are not even on people's radar screen.

7. Care to collaborate with me? Help me out and write the rest of this poem:

I drifted though a dream last night,
visions full of colors bright.
My thoughts began to drift to you,
and in an instant we were two.

I touched your hand,
We began to blend,
Filled with a feeling
that should have no end.

Then a cloud of impending doom
Whispering a sensation of gloom
O thanatos, O house of death
I have sold my soul to knaves of Hell

BONUS: Hey cutie, what's up with this attitude?

Dude, I'm a guy that's what's up!!

Today's PG-13 comment question: Where on your body do you like to be kissed?

Oh my, . . .(censored)

Light blogging today, much work. I will try to get a few posts in later in the day.

BB King is 77 years old today. Happy Birthday!

I wonder in Nihil made an appearance at the Catholic Writers Festival?

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Oh those Buffalo Bills! I just might not make it through the season if they keep playing crazy games like today's.

Friday, September 13, 2002

As the Catholic Writer's Festival Conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville is going on, I have an observation about fantasy/fiction writing.

I just completed Barbara Korsness' Book, Ancient Fire. Here's a summary from her page:

While on vacation in the Bahamas, Laura is transported back in time. She learns that she is in the same location, but the period is some time between the Great Flood, and the birth of Abraham. Rayland, an old mystic, has brought her here. He is a member of the Ancient ones, and needs her help to preserve the belief in One True God. In a land with a tyrent ruler, where human sacrifice is practiced, Laura must become a priestess of the moon in order to fulfill her destiny. Now she has to face the dilemma of sacrificing those she had come to help.

I enjoyed it and recommend it. My rating, for what it's worth, is a 3 stars out of five. Here's how my ratings work. No stars means do not even look at the book. One star is a read only if you have a four hour delay at the airport and you have read every newspaper there is to read . . . twice over, including the personals. Two stars is readable and possibly enjoyable, but not memorable. Three is good, solid, pleasurable read. Four is excellent and five is exceptional. For her first novel, it is great effort. Like I said in an earlier post, I enjoyed the novel and couldn't wait to pick it back up whenever I had to put it down. The story is highly creative, heart warming and intruiging. I hope you all reading this post purchase the book, we need to suport Christian and Catholic fiction writers.

Slight change of Subject: One thing I notice about many new novelists, is tendency to to make their work, perhaps overly-exciting, understandably. For which reason, there is a tendency to concatenate plots. So what you get is intense drama followed by intense drama and a chain of intense dramatic episodes, when in fact, the work can do very well with half of those dramatic episodes explored in depth more fully. As an unpublished novelist, I struggled with this for years when I wanted to write. I would be extremely dissatisfied with what I wrote because it seemed so superficial. My break through transformation came when I wrote a short story for my undergrad school magazine. The story was called Smunch. I realized then that I could proceed slowly and somberly when writing, as long as I captured something and based on the response from the story, I felt like I did. Since then, I have tried writing from the inside out and let the mind of the characters lead me. I guess time will tell if it works.

I think with novels, my uneducated theory is that there should be one overarching plot with nested plots ( I prefer nesting to concatenation). The principal plot could be linear or circular, i.e., clear beginning and end, or contained but without clear beginning and end. I find also that I tend to love books that explore the psychology of the protagonists, something to explain their motivations. The funny thing is that I feel the opposite about movies. I do not want to think when I watch a movie.

My view on writing was affected significantly when in a course we read James Joyces', The Dead. At the end of the short story, it struck me that nothing happened. It was quite simply a story about an evening with family, with nested themes. it was then I realized that interest is not directly related to the spectacular but depth of characters and relationships. Your interest is captured by the fact that you either identify with a character, or understand a character(s) so well that you have a need to live vicariously through the person. So a story about three inseparable friends who go through a difficult period is just as dramatic as a story of a sinking ship and the bid to save the passengers.

Emily Stimpson at HMS Blog links to this article: Study lists 'bizarre' college courses and says "course you wouldn't find at Fran. Univ of Steubenville.
Here's an excerpt:

•"Philosophy and Star Trek" at Georgetown University. The course asks: "Is time travel possible?" "Can a person survive death," "Could we go back and kill our grandmothers?" and "Is Data a person?"
•"Seeing Queerly: Queer Theory, Film, and Video" at Brown University. The course asks, "While cinema has typically circumscribed vision along (heterosexually) normative lines, can film also empower viewers to see 'queerly'?"
•"Cultural History of Rap" at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). The class offers a discussion "on musical and verbal qualities, philosophical and political ideologies, gender representation, and influences on cinema and popular culture" in rap.
University officials defended their course selections yesterday.
UCLA officials said the university teaches more than 3,000 courses that "cover the full spectrum of liberal arts and sciences."
"And there is certainly room for adding new courses that deal with emerging social issues, music and culture, whether you like the music in this case or not," said Harlan Lebo, a university spokesman.
Mark Nickel, director of Brown's news service, said YAF knows nothing about the courses that make its list.
"To concoct a list of courses with titles that counter their ideology leaves the impression that these courses are easy, and they're not," said Mr. Nickel. "At some point, it becomes pointless to respond to their assertions."

Other classes cited by the study are:
•"Language and Sexual Diversity" at the University of Minnesota. The class teaches how language is used in "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities" and the "ways in which sexual diversity affects language use."
•"Black Feminism" at the University of Missouri. The course examines "the multiple systems of oppression on black women's lives and black women's collective actions against social structures."
•"Ecofeminism" at the University of Florida. It explores "Western tradition's naturalization of women and feminization of nature, drawing the conclusion that the domination of women and the domination of nature are intimately connected and mutually reinforcing."

My undergrad was a somewhat left-leaning liberal arts college and my enduring friendships and memories of my teachers are of those of the left-leaning persuasion, with the exception of a couple. So I am much more sympathetic to the curriculum examples described above

What I think that many Christians and Catholics fail to see is that there is much more content to many of these courses than meets the eye and it really truly does broaden one's view of the world. Also, one thing that tends to happen to Christians and Catholics is that the Cultural world tends to pass us by because we are reluctant to engage in what we percieve as morally unacceptable forms of culture. The fact is that we are in the world, but not of the world. We must know what the culture is thinking, what air it breathes, how it stands and what it listens to, if we are ever going to evangelize it.

Another issue is that Christians and Catholics need to become more comfortable with homosexuality. The fact is that it is, and has been, in our midst to stay, and from what I understand, the U.S. Catholic Church has twice the national average in terms of gay population. Courses on gay issues should be taken, if for nothing else, just to get us comfortable with this population because they are our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, father's and mothers. Understanding gay culture does not mean endorsing certain behaviors. We simply cannot afford to live in isolation. Like Ron Kenoly, a Pentecostal singer said, we are in a battle with the forces of satan and there is no de-militarized zone. If we don't go out into the world, it will come into our church. And while darkness wins with temptation, sin, hatred and other vices, we win with one thing and one thing alone, love.

I noticed that the article mentioned a course on Philosophy and Star Trek. As a trekkie, and as any trekkie will tell you, Star Trek raises tons and tons of philosphical questions and even more significantly, these questions are posed in a way that are relevant to the 17/18 yr old freshman who is hung over and is think about booze and chicks.

Other courses mentioned, like Black Feminism, Eco-feminism and etc are actually solid content filled courses. I have taught some Black Feminism in a course I taught. Black Feminism is called "womanism" and it has raised very good questions. I know very little about Eco-feminism and I think it is important to. I read a lecture by, I think it was Elizabeth Johnson of Fordham U. who quotes Sir Francis Bacon, one of the fathers of modern science, extensively, and it was amazing. The image Bacon uses of nature is as a woman and the scientist's image is the man and the scientist approaches nature as a man approaches a woman. The problem here is that the description displays horrible biases in relation to men-women relations, i.e. inequality, exploitation, etc. and has had consequences for the philosphy of science and the standing of women in a man's world. These, I think, are substantive issues, because they are a critical appraisal of the blind spots of the present culture and past traditions.

So my point is that it wouldn't hurt Fran U. of Steubenville to consider courses like these, there is more relevant content to them than meets the eye of your average traditional Christian or Catholic.

I just discovered Edward Clay Wright, Jr.. I love his stuff and fortunately my wife, for my birthday, got me one of his 16" x 20" art prints of a work I love called the Arch-angel. I hope, I'm not violating any copyright posting this here. Anyway, here it is.

E. Clay Wright

You can get his prints here, here or here.

Die Frau Shallot vorschlagt einem Lateinsich Freitag, aber spreche nicht der Latein gut ich, keine ist meine deutche gut.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Check out these very beautiful art pieces from Brooklyn artistLaura James.
She doesn't do mass prints and such, but rather, commissioned work. I've seen many of her originals and they are more beautiful in person. Consider her for your next parish art project: stations of the cross, crucifix, etc.

Mary and Elizabeth

LJames art

LJames art

LJames art

LJames art

Cabinet Resigns as Legislators Challenge Arafat (

I think this is very significant.

JERUSALEM, Sept. 11 -- Yasser Arafat, the president of the Palestinian Authority, accepted the resignation of his cabinet today rather than face a no-confidence vote from legislators in the stiffest internal challenge yet to his leadership.

The Palestinian Legislative Council, which often has been at odds with Arafat, was only minutes away from a showdown vote against Arafat's cabinet when the Palestinian leader sent word that the entire 21-member body had resigned.

"We have started the reform," said Salah Tamari, a member of Arafat's Fatah movement and a legislator from Bethlehem. "This is a positive step toward the division of authority and the rule of law."

From the posts below you can probably tell how obsessed i am with the African diaspora. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a central place to study the whole phenomenon. For instance, sub-Saharan blacks have been in Europe since the 11th and 12th century, especially in Spain and italy, primarily through Saharan slave trade. It is from this stock that St. Benedict the Black hails. That story has not been fully told. I was once at a history lecture given at Catholic University about blacks in 15th century Italy and it was fascinating.

I am insanely obsessed with African diaspora in the New World that was able to preserve its identity, primarily in South and Central America, especially in Brazil. We don't find much of the African ways in US blacks because the word is that those slaves were intentionally intermingled so that culture could be destroyed.

Maybe if I could get a grant of a few million $$$, then I could establish a center for African studies.

I do remember reading a Pat Conroy book, I think called The Water is Wide, about his experience with a remote black community in South Carolina that were as close to old ways as you would find. It was very interesting.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Raymond Dobard, an art historian at Howard UNiversity, who wrote a book that I recommend called, Hidden In Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad. He talked about the history of African American quilters and how they used quilts in the underground railroad. For instance, a quilt hanging out a window with a particular design may mean "caution," or often these quilts were maps detailing the topography of an area. Also, some quilts were star charts giving runaway slaves orientation, etc. The book has pictures and all, I greatly recommend it.

Hidden in Plain View Book Cover

The Garifuna people are an Afro-latino people with a very interesting history.

The Garifuna people were brought by the Portuguese in the 1500s to the New world. The story goes that they had agreed to work on sugar plantations but unbeknownst to them, the Portuguese intended to sell them into slavery. When they found out about the plan there was a mutiny aboard the ship and a consequent shipwreck.

They eventually ended up on the small Carribean island of St.Vincent where they lived for 200 years. The Garifuna people have the distinction of being the only Afro-Americans who were never enslaved. They maintain their own culture, language, music, etc. In the 1700s, Europeans tried to enslave them and they fought back for 32 years. Finally in 1792, the Garifuna people left St. Vincent for the northern coast of Honduras.

Today, more than 500,000 Garifuna live in Central America, mostly in Honduras, but they can also be found in Belize, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.

Garifuna dancerGarifuna culture

More pictures at this site

If you ever wondered about the history and issues surrounding tipping, ... ibidem ...'s blog is the place to set the record straight.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Quiet day on the blogging front because of the commemoration of Sept. 11.

I can't imagine how hard it is for people who lost loved ones in the tragedies, especially since their grief is so public. On NPR this morning, a reporter said that she has spoken with a lot of people, including fire fighters and other victims, who intend to commemorate the day quietly in their fire houses or at home with a few friends and family. I only hope that whatever they do, they can find peace within. God bless them.

I'm not going to be at any of the commemorations today. I feel saturated with rememberances and I need to soak in this stuff without drowning in it. Last nite, on NPR's All Things Considered, they played, for at least 30 minutes, a sonic memorial which was a phone line to which people called in and left their thoughts and reflections on 9/11 and the WTC. Some people left answering machine recordings from people trapped in the building and general stuff like that. Now, that is deep.

Like Andrea Crouch sings, I firmly believe that

Jesus is the answer for the world today

He is the Prince of Peace and only through his grace will we find that peace we all seek.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

War is Peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is Strength

In George Orwell's 1984

After watching Monday Night Football last nite, I laugh at all those who had crowned the Steelers, Superbowl champions. What a joke! The AFC championship game, everyone knows, will be between either the Buffalo Bills and the Titans or the Bills and Patriots. Of course the Bills will win. I don't much care about who comes through from the NFC, they are all a sorry bunch . . .Packers? Rams? Giants? 49ers??

Public Interest With Kojo Nnamdi will discuss weblogging today. It will be interesting to see if Christian and Catholic blogs are discussed.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Here's a piece of news that slipped completely beneath the radar screen. The U.S. men's basketball team lost the fifth place game to Spain. That's three losses in a row!!! I've got 3 words for them path-e-tic!

I hate Mondays after the Buffalo Bills lose. They lost the game on the starting overtime kickoff return which was returned for a touch down. However, there are bright spots, Bledsoe, Price, Moulds, Travis Henry are all as advertised. And the defense is not actually too bad. I'm seeing a 10-6 season, or possibly, 11-5, if we stay healthy.

My wife and I watched Ocean's Eleven last nite. I did not think that I'd like it but my wife wanted to see it. I actually ended up really liking it. Clever, not overly complicated, it was actually fairly straight forward. The acting was not Oscar calliber, but it was solid. Basically, a good movie.

Also, over the weekend I started reading a book by a lady named Barabra Korsness called Ancient Fire. She is part of the Catholic Writers Association, which is how I got to know of her. I have read about a third of the book and I really like it. I think I'll go to Amazon and give a positive review. The story gets an A for creativity and I don't think the remainder of the book will dissappoint me. I'm leaning towards a 3 and a half to four star out of 5 rating. One thing that I can't decided is what age range BK is primarily targetting, not that that means anything. The book is fiction/fantasy about a woman who is mysteriously transported back to pre-Abrahamic time to help preserve belief in the one true God. Sometimes fantasy is best targetted to teens, but adult like fantasy too, but because the nature of fantasy calls for the simplicity and belief of a child's heart, it is difficult to satisfy both audiences sometimes.

Anyway, I am happy with what I have read so far. Each time I had to put it down, I couldn't wait to pick it back up. It is that exciting. I hope the book does well, for what it's worth, I'd recommend it.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

We finally made it back to Maryland in one piece. It actually took a lot less time than we imagined to get from Dayton, Ohio to Maryland. It took 10 hours but actually about 7-8 hours of driving time. Our 9 month old was great, so we didn't have to stop too often.

My wife and I just watched A Beautiful Mind. I'd give the movie a 7/8 out of 10 rating. I think Mr. Crowe deserved the Oscar, he is a very good actor. The movie was not as great as I expected but it is worth a watch.

I finally developed a few pictures that I took at World Youth Day and I should post them soon. I also have another roll that needs to be developed. Not all the pictures came out but the ones that do I think give you a sense of what the mood was like.

The NFL is finally here!! I am a football junkie, I have to confess. Unfortunately, our subdivision does not allow satellite disks so I can't watch the Bills every week, but I sure do and will listen to them every Sunday.

I need to get more specific info but it seems that the issue of reparations is gaining some ground in the evangelical-pentecostal Protestant community, i.e., the TBN crowd. Supporters have received some significant and positive air time. Since the evangelical crowd is very Republican it may not be steady ground, but there is a commitment among the Pentecostal press such as TBN and Charisma magazine to address racial inequities, especially in their history.

The US basketball team lost two games in a row. This is an ultimate embarasment. How could it happen? Too much "hot dogging" little defence and outside shooting. Even if it wasn't our best players, Paul Pierce, Baron Davis, etc are no slouches. I think they just didn't take the world seriously enough. This is an example of the blindness of supremacy, you don't pay attention to when people may be gaining on you. Hopefully, USA basketball will pay attention to this ---kicking.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

I have to say that I am officially impressed with Chicago. I think the city has that something that gives it character. For the National Black Catholic Congress, I stayed at the Hyatt Regency by the river. I was not all impressed by the level and quality of service. In July I stayed at a hotel called the Metropolitan in Toronto for World Youth Day and in April I stayed at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal for the Continental Congress on Vocations. It is either that the Hyatt chain is not that great or that the level of service in Canada is just better, but the Hyatt just fell short of the mark. It was really little things that dropped it a few notches in my view. For instance, the service was not consistently pofessional and friendly and helpful. Sometimes you dealt with people who were absolutely wonderful and at other times, the people you dealt with made you feel like you had "bum" written all over your forehead.

I will say that I had a very positive experience with the convention services department. We had set up an exhibit in the exhibit hall for the Black Congress, and by and large, the experience was a good one. The exhibit that I was involved in was the National African American Catholic HIV/AIDS Task Force. The purpose was educational, to increase the awareness of the devastation of AIDS in the black community, especially in the Black Catholic community. Generally, AIDS exhibits do not do well in attracting people because no one wants to stop at an AIDS booth. However, we rented a popcorn machine and gave out free popcorn. All people had to do to get popcorn was to fill out a five questions HIV/AIDS quiz. Here's the quiz (slightly modified)

1. AIDS is the leading cause of death among black men ages 25-44. True or False

2. Babies cannot be born with HIV. True or False

3. A person ordinarily cannot contract HIV/AIDS through kissing. True or False

4. A person can have HIV but not AIDS. True or False

5. Of the 40,000 new cases of HIV infections, over 50% of those are among African Americans. True or False.


1. True!!! The situation is that dire. AIDS is the leading cause of death for black men between the ages of 25-44.

2. False, Babies can be born with the virus.

3. True, the virus cannot survive in saliva and there are very, very few if any documented cases of contraction through kissing. However, if there are bleeding gums or cracked lips, that's a separate issue and the risk increases exponentially. This issue has become of significance in the Catholic Church because people are nervous about drinking from the cup after someone who is infected with HIV. Also, people with HIV have been shunned during the sign of peace, because people think that HIV can be contracted through casual contact or a kiss of peace, etc.

4. True

5. True

In the black community the silence has been a terrible problem, yet the virus is tearing through our communities at a blistering pace. What needs to happen is that preists, pastors, leaders, ministers, etc need to break the silence from the pulpit and create an open and positive environment in their church or parish so that we can begin to deal with this problem. The stats for black women is also getting to be horrendous, I'll try to dig up my fact sheet and post them.

One interesting experience I had was that I was in conversation with a Catholic lady who I found was on a state board of Planned Parenthood. She said that PP actually teaches abstinence to young children. We both were talking about a statistic we heard at a workshop at the Black Catholic Congress which said that a significant percentage of 12 year olds had had sex at least once. She said that Planned Parenthood studied the issue too and found that the principal reason that these young girls were having sex was PRESSURE from the boys. She related the experience of one girl whose "boyfriend" asked and asked and asked and begged and begged and begged and pleaded and so on, so much so that all she could do was let me have it so that he could leave her alone. And then afterwards, she wanted to commit suicide. This lady said that PP is now targeting girls at much younger ages and working to help them develop self esteem so that they don't have to succumb to boy pressures during those young formative years. I thought that that was quite interesting.

I hope that within the next two years, every parish would develop an AIDS ministry. It is the leprosy of our day, it bears its stigma and carries a banner of hopelessness with it. But the one person back in the day that the lepers could come to was Christ. We need to be Christ today. There has to be something about Christians that would make those infected willing to come to us.

Slight Change of Subject: I was speaking with a director of a diocesan Gay/Lesbian office and I asked what the pecentage of gay people in the general public. I don't recal the numbers, he either said that is was 5% or 10%. What was interesting was that he said that however, in the Catholic Church, the numbers are twice that of the general public, for whatever reason. Interessant!

Different Subject: At the Black Catholic Congress and even at the last one in 1997 there was an effort to include Black Catholics from Latin America. This time we had Afro-Latinos from Brazil, Panama, Ecuador, Honduras and Columbia. Here's a fact that I just learned: Brazil has 76 million black people. I always knew that Brazil had the largest number of Blacks outside of Africa but the number is staggering. They account for about 46% of the population. Another fact: Columbia is 44% black! Did you know that. The disturbing aspect though, is that blacks in Latin America also experience systematic discrimination.

The one unique thing about Afro-Latinos is that the slaves that were brought there were left in groups where slaves of similar cultures and beliefs remained together, unlike the slaves brought to the U.S., who enroute, were intentionally intermingled so that they would be culturally isolated. For this reason many elements of African culture exist wholesale in Afro-Latino communities. For instance, the Yoruba people of Nigeria have a diety called Sango the god of iron(?), you'll find the exact same diety in many Afro-Brazilian communities. In fact the Catholic Church is now facing a serious issue there. Afro-Brazillians, who are mostly Catholic, were neglected for so long and many of their Afro-practices were blended in with Catholicism and now the Catholic Church is trying to negotiate this issue. It is all so fascinating and I hope that some day the stories of all blacks in the diaspora can be told so that we can have a complete history of the slave trade.

I have yacked long enough. Possible lite blogging in the days ahead until next week. Peace!

It feels like I haven't blogged in forever. The National Black Catholic Congress ended on Sunday and then I took the train to South Bend to meet my wife and daughter and we drove on Monday down to Dayton, OH. We should leave Dayton on Thursday and arrive back in MD on Friday. Blogging shall resume in full force then. Until then relatively lite blogging as the opportunity presents itself.