23 February 2007

The great temptation of the Catholic . . . is the temptation to intellectual pride. It is so obvious that most of his critics are talking without in the least knowing what they are talking about, that he is sometimes a little provoked towards the very un-Christian logic of answering a fool according to his folly. He is a little bit disposed to luxuriate in secret, as it were, over the much greater subtlety and richness of the philosophy he inherits; and only answer a bewildered barbarian so as to bewilder him still more. He is tempted to ironical agreements or even to disguising himself as a dunce . . . So many people are at once preoccupied with it and prejudiced against it. It is queer to observe so much ignorance with so little indifference. They love talking about it and they hate hearing about it . . . I fancy there is more than meets the eye in this curious controversial attitude; the desire to ask rhetorical questions and not to ask real questions; the wish to heckle and not to hear.

--G.K. Chesterton, The Thing, NY: Sheed & Ward, 1929, l34, 81-82

Kissling Retires

(NEW YORK — C-FAM) After 25 years as president of Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC), long-time abortion advocate and one time abortion clinic owner Frances Kissling is stepping down from her post after failing to achieve her most important goals. Kissling has been an outspoken opponent of Catholic Church teachings on contraception, abortion, gay rights and stem cell research, but has failed to change any of them. By far her largest defeat was the effort to oust the Holy See from its status at the United Nations.
Under Kissling’s tenure as president, CFFC became best known for the “See Change” campaign to challenge the sovereign diplomatic status of the Holy See at the United Nations. The “See Change” campaign was launched in 1999 to advocate that the Holy See be thrown out of its official “Observer” seat and downgraded to a non-government organization like CFFC.

Several years after its launch, the CFFC campaign has gathered only 650 groups that agree with the initiative. In contrast, in only four months a campaign in support of the Holy See gathered the names of more than 4,000 groups including the largest Protestant and Muslim groups in the world [the campaign was launched and led by C-FAM]. In that year the US Congress came within one vote of unanimously endorsing the Holy See at the United Nations.

The “See Change” campaign ended in final and complete failure two years ago when the General Assembly unanimously confirmed the status of the Holy See. Aside from endorsing the Holy See’s permanent observer status, the GA extended new privileges to facilitate increased participation in GA activities.

Ms. Kissling will be succeeded by longtime associate Jon O'Brien.

16 February 2007

It's the only Catholic Church in Aarhus, Denmark (population 250,000), whose ancient see was extinguished by the Reformation. Strangely enough, they have a Vietnamese Mass once a month.

Interior of Vor Frue Kirk. Most unfortunately, the altar has been moved from the front to the center, replaced by a series of powder blue abstract pieces, the pews removed, and chairs placed around on both sides.


Some of the most remarkable edifices surviving from medieval Norway are the stave churches scattered across the countryside. When the Christian faith was introduced to the country in the 10th and 11th centuries, these wooden churches were built to house Our Lord and hold the Mass. The twenty-nine stave churches in Norway today do not date from that early, but rather from the 12th century onward, when sills were introduced in which the staves (the poles supporting the roof) were embedded. This protected the base of the staves and walls from rotting in the earth.

Borgund Stave Church

Urnes Stave Church

Detail in woodwork

Roldal Stave Church

Eidsborg stave Church

Fantoft Stave Church

Altarpiece from Grip Stave Church

15 February 2007

The Vagina Monologues moves off-campus this year. No academic department was willing to sponsor them, and without a sponsor, the play has no venue on campus.
The group is now left to raise its own funds to cover the cost of the venue and programs. Lewis was quick to say, however, that the group - who will now be charging for tickets - will donate all of the proceeds to the YWCA.
The Sociology Department has promised, however, to sponsor the play next year.

14 February 2007

The Gentle Giant

Robert Wadlow, the world's tallest man, reached 8 ft. 11 inches and 438 pounds at death. He wore size 37AA shoes, and his fingers measured 12.5 inches from wrist to top of middle finger. He grew normally until the age of 4, and from then on never stopped growing. His growth was due to a tumor in his pituitary gland that caused overproduction of growth hormones.

11 February 2007

I'm laughing so hard it hurts. (Warning: obscene language)

Update: Looks like the lamb has quit (but not before blaming her trials on random misogynist scapegoating).
Interesting debate over at Shea's blog on materialism, atheism, and faith. The comments are particularly worth reading. A sample:
I am saying that you can, in fact, in practice, derive "ought" from "is."

In practice.

Certainly many materialists - in practice - behave as if "oughts" really exist. The thing is you can't - in principle - justify your practice.

Practice aside, there is no way - in principle - to conjure "ought" from "is" ex nihilo.The laws written on the human heart, to which Mark refers, are understood to be the unreflective moral principles upon which all moral reasoning rests. They are mysteries. Materialism can't account for them, or at least materialism can't give us any reason for following them.

Sen. Edwards cont'd...

From The Catholic Report:
Senator Edwards Staffer #1: What is your question for the senator?

Dave Hartline: Would Senator Edwards have been this forgiving if someone had made a similar disparaging remark about an African-American, Asian-American or Muslim-American? (I was told to hold on and was transferred)

Senator Edwards Staffer #2: I understand you have a question for me. I would be happy to answer it.

Dave Hartline: Would Senator Edwards have been this forgiving if someone had made a similar disparaging remark about an African-American, Asian-American or Muslim-American? (I was told to hold on and was transferred)

Senator Edwards Staffer#3: I am sorry you have been on hold. I would be happy to answer your question.

Dave Hartline: Would Senator Edwards have been this forgiving if someone had made a similar disparaging remark about an African-American, Asian-American or Muslim-American? (I was told to hold and this time sent to an answering machine where once again I identified myself. I left a message and haven’t been called back).

10 February 2007

Worship Faux Pas

The Curt Jester has a list of them here. Some especially good ones:
If the church actually has kneelers please slide the kneeler up when you go to Communion so others in the same row do no have to to the narrow shuffle side step.

If you receive Communion in the hand remember that your car keys and cell phone are maybe accessories in the Body of Christ, but can't receive themselves - put them away first.

Asking the person who just came out of a confessional both after a long time in confession "What the heck did you do?" is not considered appropriate.

Regardless of how banal the songs the choir is singing, it is not polite to shout out requests.

Do not bring the music issue of the missal home to use as toilet paper, no matter how appropriate.
If you have a 103 degree temperature and your nose is running faster than Flo-Jo you might want to skip Mass and not try to shake the hands of half the congregation.
I've got a few of my own to add:

--Even if the sanctuary hasn't been swept in a month, it's not the proper place to strew your fingernail clippings or earwax. It's the House of God, not your family room.

--To all extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion: When I open my mouth to receive the Sacred Host, the point is to place it lightly and firmly on the tongue without letting any part of your fingers touch my mouth. Please.

--Parents, on Palm Sunday, do remember that blessed palms are sacramentals and should therefore not be chewed, torn to shreds, and scattered on the floor by your children.

--To my fellow Catholics who attend the traditional Latin Mass: when the F.S.S.P. priest makes a lighthearted remark during the homily, it is ok to smile. Even to laugh. Yes, even in the sanctuary.
Another brilliant post by Jeff Miller, on Senator Edwards's new Jack Chick-inspired campaign literature, featuring the wit and wisdom of the lovely and understated Amanda "Lamb" Marcotte.

Poverty, American-style

This old article got me in trouble with the left-leaning at law school. (Nota bene: I'm not the materialist I come across as below; it's called being provocative to prove a point.)


I was 12,000 feet up in the Andes. The view was stunning, the air crisp, and I had just finished retching from having downed some bad pork. A group of us had arrived in Ecuador that morning, winding through five hours of dusty, unpaved road before reaching Secao, a pinprick of a town nestled in the mountains. On the way we had stopped at the local roadside bar and grill. The daily special, as it was every day, was pig carcass, slung head down from the roof beams. We paid, they carved--instant dyspepsia. In Secao, we would spend a week living among the Quechua natives, helping to construct their new church building.

All the school-aged girls crowded around with cheeks cracked and raw from the cold. We were told to refrain from too much affection, as they had lice. I let the giggling kids pile onto my lap anyway. During the day, we would lug concrete blocks several feet at a time, stop to wheeze, proceed a few more feet, then wheeze again. Proudly conveying our burden, we would arrive at the site only to find we were outdone.

The natives are a hardy folk--we witnessed one woman five months pregnant out each day slopping on cement and stacking bricks. At night, in 40 degree weather, Quechuans from all over the hillside walked three miles barefoot to attend church with us. Others were shod in what we fondly termed "jellies"--clear, plastic sandals in colors like fluorescent pink and lime. When church finished three hours later, they trekked back with only starlight--and glowing jellies--to guide them.

When I flew back to the States, lice-free, I can't say I ever saw things quite the same again. I've made trips to other third-world countries since, and I must say, all things being equal, that of all the places I would choose to be poor, it would be right here in the United States.

The fact is the poor here are doing remarkably better in material terms than the poor elsewhere. The National Center for Policy Analysis lists a slew of statistics guaranteed to surprise. The lowest 20 percent of the income bracket spent approximately $13,957 in 1993 while their earned income averaged only $6,395. The fact that these families are paying $7,000 more than they earn can be chalked up to non-income related benefits, like public housing and food stamps. As housing and food comprise some of the largest household expenditures, a portion of the poor are actually better off than reports reveal. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Census Bureau Report of 1992 revealed that 92.2 percent of the poor own color televisions, 60 percent own microwaves and 41 percent own homes. Of these, 70 percent are free and clear of pesky mortgages the rest of us have to deal with. Not bad.

Europeans are right to be jealous. More of our poor own VCRs than all non-poor in Europe, excluding the United Kingdom--which means Blockbuster would be wise to limit property investments to primarily English-speaking countries. Compared to non-poor in the Netherlands, Italy, and Great Britain combined, American poor own more dishwashers. Even the well-off in Europe own fewer microwaves than our poor here. America, quite frankly, is wealthy. And we share the wealth, despite what angst-ridden socialists might say.

There is also much mention of the widening gap between rich and poor. Could someone please tell me precisely what the appropriate gap should be? Larry Elder, in his book "Ten Things You Can't Say in America," makes the point that if gap measurement were more accurately attuned to the exorbitant taxes imposed on the rich and the non-cash benefits enjoyed by the poor, it would be considerably reduced.

It actually took two years living in a non-third-world country to make me realize how well off I have it here. We expect to be shocked by the third world. We've all seen the World Vision infomercials; we know the lowdown. But an extended stay in Europe, of all places, turned me from blasé anti-American college student to patriotic poster girl. Apparently, the worst thing to be in England is American. Some of my patriotism is due to having been on the constant defensive from attack after attack on the country I call my own. But, more relevant, I noticed that a place as bejeweled as England conspicuously lacks many of the material goods we enjoy here. The same can be said for the rest of Europe. It might be the case that our overabundance adds to our international reputation as free-market-loving materialists. But that is the wonderful thing about America. As long as we keep it legal, we are free, free, free to be hogs.

01 February 2007


From C-FAM's Friday Fax:

CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) is touted by supporters as the International Women's Rights Treaty. The treaty itself is full of nice sounding language about women's equality, something we are all for. But the implementing committee of the treaty, a body that governments must appear before every few years, is as radical as you can get. Here are a few examples of their work.

• The treaty condemns prostitution but the committee has directed governments to legalize prostitution.
• The CEDAW committee has directed 37 pro-life governments to change their laws on abortion, even though the treaty is SILENT on abortion,
• The CEDAW committee has criticized Ireland for allowing the Church to have too strong a voice on public policy.
• The committee has directed Lybia to reinterpret the Koran to fall within committee guidelines (how long before they try that on Christian countries).

Dozens of countries have ratified CEDAW but so far the US has resisted. Democrats in the Senate will be pushing ratification of the treaty. You can sign the petition here.