Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Requiem for The Guy Who Gave The British Accent To Public Television

"It will be a weekly personal letter to a Briton by a fireside, I shall try to give a running commentary on topical aspects of American life, some of the intimate background to Washington policy, some profiles of important Americans. The stress will tend always to be on the springs of American life, whose bubbles are the headlines, rather than on the headlines themselves." -- Alistair Cooke, introducing the BBC Radio program Letter From America in 1946. He died today at 95.

Hey, look at me; I can write letters too!!!

So I'm reading Kathleen Parker on Townhall Dot Com, see? And that's when I'm off to the races:

Subject: Another tiresome e-mail about Mel...

Kathleen:

You gotta be tired of this by now. But it's the price of fame. We all want our space. Even people like you with millions of people (well, maybe thousands; we can't all be Anne Coulter) who hang on your every word. Even people like... Mel Gibson.

So when someone asks about his father's personal views, it should be enough to acknowledge them and disagree with them. That's all the distance any of us should expect. Would you disown your parents over a thing like that?

See? Takes a while to answer, huh?

Yes, regarding the Holocaust, he said "atrocities happened." (He said more than that too.) It was an admittedly passing reference to something that he and Peggy and you and I and every damn body else who read the interview already understood. What more was his elaboration (and disagreeing with his father) going to do about it?

I'll assume someone as erudite as yourself (no sarcasm here) has read Kafka. So you don't have to be told how repeating something often enough doesn't make it true. (By the way, I saw the movie based on "The Trial." The first fifteen minutes alone are worth the price of admission. But I digress...) In the movie "The Passion of the Christ," the only people in the entire cast are Romans and (deep breath here) JEWS!!! There were Jews who were JC's pals and either sold him out or ran out on him. There were Jews at the trial who defended him and were shouted down by the others. There were Jews at the trial who condemned him. There were Jews in the crowd shouting about "let[ting] his blood be upon us and upon our children." If there had been Greeks or Phoenicians or Brooklynites in the crowd, they would have done the same (except the Brooklynites; they'd still be calling the Dodgers "bums" for moving to LA).

But don't take Mel's word for it. It's all in the Book. You know, Kathleen, THE Book! Not just that book, but even Jewish contemporary writings of the time were not kind to Caiaphas, calling him self-serving. Oy vey; the nerve of these people.

Go read the Talmud. Jesus is called a "bastard" and a "charlatan" who is spending eternity in hell boiling in excrement. Try picking on the Jews for that one, if you wanna say something original.

And then there were Romans. You've got your cynical Romans like Pilate, who were still pissed off at getting such a lousy backwater assignment. You've got his wife, who had a dream about the whole thing (and who, according to Eastern Orthodox tradition, was converted -- betcha didn't know that!). Then there's the soldier who was "washed in the blood of the Lamb," let us say. Catholic tradition knows him as Longinius. (The guy with the spear, remember?)

Then, of course, there is the obvious. If the Jews didn't kill Christ (assuming any one of them did), someone would have had to, so that the prophecies would be fulfilled.

That's because, in the end, the Jews didn't kill Jesus. You and I did, through our sins. He was wounded for those sins. And by those wounds we were healed.

So get off Mel's case, will ya? And let's see you in Church this Sunday, ya hear?

Speaking the Truth in Love, I am...


Stay tuned.

You won't hear about THIS on Catholicity dot com:

"William 'Bud' Macfarlane, has filed for divorce, accusing his wife of 'extreme cruelty' and 'gross neglect of duty' - a brutal legalese that she says cannot describe her marriage. So Marie, a devout Catholic, is taking a stand not often seen today: She's fighting to stop the divorce altogether... 'I believe we do have the ability to be happily married,' [Marie] Macfarlane says. 'Isn't it worth giving reconciliation a shot? Maybe not every marriage will get fixed, but some of them will.'"

"Bud" is the author of Pierced By A Sword, Conceived Without Sin, and House of Gold. He has also dropped all references to Marie from the Catholicity website, including "The Dream Lady" -- the heart-touching story of how they met. (Sorry, Bud, you're no match for Google.)

As far as MWBH is concerned, this episode demonstrates, not only that trouble can strike at even the best marriages (all the more reason to use every recourse to save them -- this means YOU, Bud, from a guy who's BEEN there!), but that the "Marian movement" has become overrun with cheap charlatans, self-appointed messiahs, and horse's-patooties. The late William Reck (publisher of books on Medjugorge and fellow Milford, Ohio guy) tried to warn them years ago, in his book Dear Marian Movement: Let God Be God, but his cohorts in "the movement" attacked him for it.

A tip of the Black Hat to Marie. You go, grrrl!!!

MWBH Update: Help Has Arrived!!! The following appeared in the comments box at Catholic Light: "Has anybody recommended Retrouvaille to them yet? I have seen Retrouvaille take the most hurtful relationships and turn them back into sacrament. What city are they in? There are Retrouvaille communities all over this country that can help. Retrouvaille has a 85-95% success rate. For couples where both do the work, it has a 100% success rate. Fr Jeffrey Keyes, CPPS, Retrouvaille International Chaplain." Father Keyes is also author of the weblog The New Gasparian. Hey, Bud, here's an idea. Why not take a few minutes from planning the next Medjugorje Madness World Tour, to save your marriage by checking out this website? I tried to use Retrouvaille fourteen years ago, but the other party wouldn't go along. I'll go out on a limb and bet yours just might. It's the Catholic thing to do. (You're still Catholic, right?) I know how to find Cleveland. Don't make me come up there...

Monday, March 29, 2004

From the MWBH Mailbag

"I have been 'surfing' the net for a few years now. I have never emailed someone I don't know before... but had to. I don't remember what I was looking for when I found your site. I started reading and than found myself laughing so hard out loud I had tears. I just wanted to say, 'thanks!' Have a great day. You really made mine today." -- SJO

(gasp!) You're welcome.

Now, if you could just tell me what it was I wrote that had you in stitches, I'd keep it up -- anything to spread joy throughout the land.

"Those who have ears to hear, let them hear..."

"Thirty-seven years of teaching have taught me that convincing arguments will only carry the assent of those willing to accept the conclusion drawn. Numerous are those who will never be convinced because their will stands in the way: The conclusion is not to their taste... It is sadly true that false arguments will 'convince' those who welcome their conclusion."
-- Alice von Hildebrand

If Jesus is Jewish, why does he have an Hispanic name?

"I believe that the Jews have made a contribution to the human condition out of all proportion to their numbers: I believe them to be an immense people. Not only have they supplied the world with two leaders of the stature of Jesus Christ and Karl Marx, but they have even indulged in the luxury of following neither one nor the other." -- Sir Peter Ustinov, Oscar-winning actor, playwright, and novelist, who died yesterday at 82

Friday, March 26, 2004

FLASH: Mel Gibson's Passion movie causes wave of...

"HOUSTON - A repentant Texas man went to police after seeing Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of [the] Christ and confessed to murdering a 19-year-old woman who was pregnant with his child, authorities said today..."

No mention of whether either the penitent or the victim were Jewish. More on this story as it develops...

It's time to play... "Name That Heresy!!!"

The following quotation (which cannot be independently verified) has been attributed to Father Thomas Doyle:

"You can get to heaven without the priests, the pope, the bishops, the sacraments. All you need is faith.''

Please reply by hitting the link in the violet box on the right where it says, "You talkin' to me?" The earliest party to answer correctly gets a prize. Mailing address will be requested. Contest will close at 12:01 am, Eastern USA time, Monday, Mar 29.

(Oh, Padre, if you've been misquoted, let me know, and you'll get a prize too -- with a public apology. I'm that kinda guy.)

To realize...

To realize
The value of a sister
Ask someone
Who doesn't have one.

To realize
The value of ten years:
Ask a newly
Divorced couple.

To realize
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize
The value of one year:
Ask a student who
Has failed a final exam.

To realize
The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth
To a still born.

To realize
The value of one month:
Ask a mother who has given birth
To a premature baby.

To realize
The value of one week:
Ask an editor
Of a weekly newspaper.

To realize
The value of one hour:
Ask the lovers
Who are waiting to Meet.

To realize
The value of one minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize
The value of one-second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident.

To realize
The value of one! millisecond:
Ask the person who has won
A silver medal in the Olympics.

To realize
The value of a friend:
Lose one.

Time waits
For no one.

Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more
When you can share it
With someone special.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

"Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum..."

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation...

"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:26-27)

She was to be conceived by the Holy Spirit, and in nine months time, give birth to the Kristos -- the Messiah, the One foretold by the prophets to be King of the Jews, and savior of mankind.

This day, appearing exactly nine months before the celebration of Christ's birth, was in the early days of the Church, presumed to have been the date of His cruxificion, His life and death having then come full circle, while conquering death and rising to new life. Indeed, a host of events in salvation history were tied to this day:

"All Christian antiquity (against all astronomical possibility) recognized the 25th of March as the actual day of Our Lord's death. The opinion that the Incarnation also took place on that date is found in the pseudo-Cyprianic work De Pascha Computus, c. 240. It argues that the coming of Our Lord and His death must have coincided with the creation andfall of Adam. And since the world was created in spring, the Saviour was also conceived and died shortly after the equinox of spring... also, the fall of Lucifer, the passing of Israel through the Red Sea and the immolation of Isaac." (from the 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia)

In the MIddle Ages, the Annunciation was a favorite subject of song and story. Angelus ad Virginem, as well as Nova, Nova (Ave Fit Ex Eva) were both popular carols sung in the days preceeding Christmas.

This event is also commemorated in the prayer known as the Angelus ("The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary / and she was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary..."). This prayer is traditionally prayed at six in the morning, at noon, and at six in the evening, but especially at noon. The latter is the reason that daily Mass at mid-day usually begins just five or ten minutes after noon.

Images of the Blessed Mother are often adorned with flowers for this occasion, especially marigolds (named in honor of Mary), lilies, and roses (considered the "queen of flowers," for the Queen of Heaven). An angelfood cake is also served on this day, decorated with pale blue frosting, to represent Mary's mantle.

In Sweden, the faithful celebrate the feast by eating waffles. Don't ask me why.

"Ecce ancilla Domini: Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum."

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Revolution Begins With Words

"Charity demands that we call things what they are, that we do not lie to others, and not to ourselves. Words express our inner selves, our conscience. When we play with words, we play with our conscience; we dull it, silence it and ultimately we can kill it." -- Jon Parr

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Pope Declares the Obvious: Feeding Tube Removal Immoral

You'd be surprised the number of "good Catholics" who assume that a feeding tube is an "extraordinary means" of preserving life. Apparently they never get past the fact that a feeding tube is used for (brace yourselves!) feeding! It is not some artificial means for keeping Grandma's liver or kidneys or cardiovascular system humming along.

The confusion is compounded by referring to the patient as being in a "persistent vegetative state." This refers to the condition, not to the essential nature of the person. A person remains a person, and does not turn into a "vegetable," any more than an orange becomes an apple when it's painted red. You don't need a masters in theology to do the math on this one, folks.

Soooo... (stop me if I'm going too fast here), removing a feeding tube is NOT "pulling the plug." It is "starving to death."

Any questions?

Monday, March 22, 2004

Use these words in a sentence and we'll sue you!

I thought I'd heard it all when I read that Donald Trump wanted to copyright the phrase "You're fired." (Where the hell was he my first two years out of college?) Now Planned Barrenhood weighs in:

"Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Gloria Feldt last week demanded that the Bush administration immediately cease using the phrase "Responsible Choices®," PPFA's trademarked language, to describe the administration's abstinence-only education initiative... PPFA registered its trademark rights to "Responsible Choices®" in 1999..."

Whew! They're in a tough spot to be making demands of someone who, by law, they can't even sue. Sadly, the rest of us have to be more careful. So I'd better watch what I tell my son about making responsible... oops, that was close!

"I saw the Post today, oh boy..."

Actually, it was yesterday. And it was the Washington Post, the Sunday edition. Plus, there were a few bits of news that should pique the interest of anyone who can stand reading my stuff -- not to mention the after-Mass-coffee-klatch crowd at Saint Blog's. But here goes...

To begin with, those of you who are stuck with weenie bishops who couldn't resist the urge to caution against "anti-Semitism" with the release of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (and you know who you are, Your Immenseness), we have this from the Outlook section:

"All the talk about how Mel Gibson's movie... would fan the fires of anti-Semitism may be so much hot air. Instead of inciting anger toward Jewish people, the movie may be reducing religious hostilities, a new poll suggests... 'While the film may have an impact elsewhere in the world, so far [the movie] is not producing any significant anti-Jewish backlash' here, said Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, which commissioned the poll... 'The questions raised about the anti-Jewish images in the movie helped bring the question of the role of Jews in the death of Christ out in the open...'"

Everybody get that? "So much hot air." I didn't say it. The Washington Post said it, so you can take it to the bank. No word yet on the role that dying for our sins may have played. So tell your weenie bishop he can kiss my ring, and stay tuned.

Meanwhile, in the Style section, we have a Reliable Source (Richard Leiby's term of endearment, apparently) alerting us to this observation in the current issue of The Futurist magazine:

"Canadian professor Stephen Bertman... foresees the possibility of marriage between humans and their household pets or even inanimate objects: 'Many an individual has formed an intimate relationship with his or her computer, spending long hours in its close company, often to the exclusion of human contact... Why should not this bond of tactile intimacy be validated by more than an owner's manual?'"

Mark Shea has been too busy globetrotting (last seen in Okinawa defending the Faith while wearing one of several Hawaiian shirts he's already bought from sidewalk venders and holding one of those fruity drinks with an umbrella in it), or he would have seen this coming and warned us.

But for the real issue at stake, look no further than the musings of syndicated columnist David Chartrand, author of A View from the Heartland: Everyday Life in America:

"I am not worried about gay marriage. The only marriages that offend me are those that start with overdone weddings. You know, those all-day affairs that involve a ceremony where the bride and groom exchange vows they've written themselves while a five-piece orchestra plays most of the Bach repertoire... The American wedding has become too much like American politics: lots of rules, interminable speeches and people asking us for money. What we need is wedding reform... [I]t could be worth it, especially if Congress agrees to outlaw the thing I hate most about receptions -- the chicken dance."

Nothing about the macarena. But June is a little over two months away, so brace yourselves.

Closer to home, there's a local story about the 17-year-old football hero from Ballou High School, who was gunned down in the school cafeteria last month. I'm sure he was great for the school's public image, but still...

"Richardson was not a junior but a third-year freshman who had twice failed to earn enough credits to be promoted. School administrators let him play football even though he lacked the minimum grades required to participate in sports. And he remained at Ballou despite a request from anti-gang counselors to transfer him because of his feuding with other students, and despite a police report in which his girlfriend alleged that he had attacked her on school grounds... Ballou officials decided several times not to penalize him for his academic and behavior problems."

It gets worse. But it typifies the displaced role that athletic programs have on American high schools, not to mention the incompetence that has long plagued the public sector of the District. I suppose they think that if Marion Barry were still the mayor, this would all go away. Uh-huh.

(There was another piece in the Style section that warrants a commentary of its own, especially after one of many recent father-son conversations. We'll be back later today on that one.)

But just up the road, the Baltimore Sun reports that a favorite schoolyard pastime is making a comeback. Even as this is being written, organized co-ed kickball leagues are being formed.

And not just in Baltimore...

Friday, March 19, 2004

Dateline Arlington: The Plot Thickens

"'This kind of trial is almost unheard of,' said Charles Wilson [executive director of The Saint Joseph Foundation], 'especially concerning someone who is maintaining that he is innocent of the charges.' Wilson pointed out that the tribunal was presided over by Bishop Thomas G. Doran of Rockford, Illinois. 'The fact that Bishop Doran is a member of Rome’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura suggests that this tribunal was convened by the Holy See.'..."

Not just your average Joe!

Today is the Feast of Saint Joseph, husband of Mary, and foster father of Jesus. As a solemnity (first-class feast) of the liturgical year having fallen on a Friday, the usual requirement of abstinence from meat is dispensed for this day (Canon 1251).

We know little about Joseph, other than what is in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. He was a "just man," descended from the royal house of David. He was a carpenter by trade, in the little town of Nazareth, in Galilee. It is safe to assume that he passed on the family business to his Son, who might well have practiced the trade as a young man, before beginning His public ministry.

Many saints had a particular devotion to the "noble Joseph." In 1960, Pope Blessed John XXIII had his name inserted into the Roman Canon, among the listing of the saints. The overall impression of him is that of a silent and heroic guardian, who led Mary and Jesus to safety in Egypt.

It is generally believed that Joseph died while Jesus was still a young man, before his public ministry. He is therefore also known as the "patron saint of a happy death."

There are folk tales about Joseph, arising from the apocryphal, or "lost Gospel" accounts. It is said that he was an old man and a widower, with six children from a previous union, including James "the brother of Jesus" who later became an Apostle. Since the term for "brother" in the original languages was used rather broadly, it is more likely that James was a cousin, as opposed to being a brother or stepbrother. All in all, the story is not a reliable one. The same also applies to the Yuletide ballad known as "The Cherry Tree Carol" (from The Oxford Book of Ballads, 1910), when Joseph first learns of Mary being with child.

There are also miracles attributed to Joseph. In the Middle Ages, a famine in Sicily was ended after the people prayed a novena to Joseph. His feast remains a special occasion throughout Italy, and in "Little Italy" neighborhoods throughout North America, culminating in the blessing of "Saint Joseph altars" featuring special "altar breads."

More recently is the "traveling carpenter" who offered to build a spiral staircase in a convent chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, then mysteriously disappeared. No engineer can explain how the structure is supported, and to the present day it has never needed repair.

"O God, who in Thy ineffable providence didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph to be the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may have him for our intercessor in Heaven, whom on earth we venerate as out most holy Protector. Who livest and reignest world without end..."

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Oh, and speaking of songs that drive me crazy...

The guy who wrote Lord of the Dance is dead.

"Sydney Carter, who has died aged 88, was the poet and songwriter whose Lord of the Dance became the most celebrated religious song of the 20th century... The number's success stems from two elements. It has a lively, catchy tune, adapted from an air of the American Shaker movement. But the optimistic lines 'I danced in the morning when the world begun/and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun' also contain a hint of paganism which, mixed with Christianity, makes it attractive to those of ambiguous religious beliefs or none at all."

Attractive to the ambiguous. Cute, huh?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

My Celtic Moment

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Patrick (387-493), patron of Ireland. It is on the Emerald Isle that the day is traditionally a religious holiday -- the bars would close and the churches would be full out of obligation -- with the more rebellious spirit of recent years, complete with parades and green beer, being an American import. Who knew?

Growing up in a postwar Catholic environment, we were told that there were two kinds of people; those who were Irish, and those who wish they were. There were even Irish nuns who favored the Irish kids, and weren't above calling some miscreant a "jackass." Of course, my family fell into neither category, and I came to dismiss the whole notion of St Paddy's Day -- indeed, the whole notion of being Irish -- as an excuse for obnoxious pretense.

Then I went to college, where I discovered Irish music. I mean the real thing, not the over-romantic "Christmas-in-Killarney-on-St-Patrick's-in-June" that passed itself off as genuine the whole time. I really loved the stuff. I helped out at a coffeehouse, where we even brought Clannad to town on their first American tour. I even gave Maire Brennan (pronounced MOY-uh) a ride back to where she was staying. Otherwise shy and aloof, she even laughed at my jokes. Go figure.

By then, the feast became an annual ritual, of spending most of the preceding weekend hanging out at Hap's Irish Pub in the Hyde Park section of Cincinnati, or Arnold's Bar and Grill downtown. Over the years, I learned Irish dancing, Irish folk tales, and the like. But I was under no illusions that this heritage was one that I could claim for my own.

Then a few years ago, I was interviewed for a writing job by a priest who edited a major Catholic periodical. A native of Dublin, he reminded me of what really mattered:

"Patrick was not Irish, and on his Feast Day, we do not celebrate being Irish; we celebrate being Catholic."

I always knew that my father's side came from a small town near Verdun, in the Lorraine province of France. But about that time, we learned that before the 18th century, his family was expatriated from Scotland, a result of the Rebellion when England took over Scotland. More recently, I was to learn that Maganus Sucatus was of a Roman family, born in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in that part of Britain that is now Scotland.

Sooooo... if not being Irish were not enough, Patrick (as he was known in later years, being of the Roman "patrician" class, and a "patriarch" to his spiritual charges) was, well, (dammit!) Scottish!!!

So the tale has come full circle. Tonight we'll have a dinner, just family and friends, and we'll save a toast for the Lion of Ireland. Meanwhile, Maire will be the featured artist at the annual Speaker of the House Saint Patrick's Day Lunch.

Haven't spoken to her for about 25 years now, but I trust she's doing well.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Dateline Arlington: Further Adventures in Orthodoxy

Sure, I'll admit it; Catholic parish life in Northern Virginia is reasonably good. We have at least one new parish every year (we've only supressed two parishes in our history, and that was just a merger of two rural parishes into one), and most of the newer church buildings actually look like churches. (Design hint: think post-modern nouveau-Romanesque piazza.) Plus we've got a lot of really great priests here -- not to mention more than we know what to do with. (Seriously, we really don't know; otherwise we'd offer early buyouts to the few Father Feelgood types still holding on). Best of all, we are spared most of the usual It's-all-about-me-everybody-sing-Kum-By-Yah craziness (not all of it, though) that transpires during a typical Sunday Mass in America.

But still, we don't think the rest of you out there in the hinterlands should have all the fun, now that this Scandal thing is all the rage:

"A Catholic priest who exposed the sexual misdeeds of fellow clergy at three parishes in the Diocese of Arlington is being prosecuted by his own bishop on five ecclesiastical charges... The[y] include sexual misconduct; absolution of an accomplice in sexual sin; and the 'use of instruments of social communication [the media] to injure good morals, to express insults and to excite hatred or contempt against the Church'..."

I've gotten a good dose of both sides of the story, so I've found a little niche firmly in the middle of the two camps. Besides, I've already commented on one of the "misdeeds" before, namely the priest who ran off with some guy's wife while his superiors stumbled all over one another. No one has ever officially apologized for that. Something about liability. Of course.

Then there was the priest who used parish funds for gay pornography. I've dealt with that bozo myself, and he's lucky I'm not his bishop.

So, kids, we're sure to have some of the usual lawyers-guns-and-money before it's over. After all, we who reside here in Eden need redemptive suffering too, you know?

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Greyfriar Watch

The health of Father Benedict Groeschel continues to improve.

"Dear Friends... This is the first opportunity I have to personally thank the people who have been caring for me since my accident. I was deeply moved by the amount of prayer cards and e-mails from many, many people. I don't know how to repay you for your expressions of support and letters of encouragement... I am going to be laid-up for a while healing and hopefully getting stronger. I am thankful to God that I did not sustain any serious head injuries or facial disfigurement. God must be telling me to get back to work... Today I spoke for the first time in 2 months..."

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Italians in search of a novena...

...should start today, with Saint Joseph.

Monday, March 08, 2004

The following could make me wish Hilary would run:

"North Korea's state-controlled media are well known for reverential reporting about Kim Jong-il, the country's dictatorial leader.

"But the Dear Leader is not the only one getting deferential treatment from the communist state's propaganda machine: John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic candidate, is also getting good play in Pyongyang.

"In the past few weeks, speeches by the Massachusetts senator have been broadcast on Radio Pyongyang and reported in glowing terms by the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), the official mouthpiece of Mr Kim's communist regime..."


(from an article by Andrew Ward and James Harding, Financial Times)

That little band of nice Catholic boys from East LA...

...otherwise known as Los Lobos, gets the tip of the Black Hat today. March 8 is the Feast of Saint John of God (1495-1550), who is memorialized (well, sort of) with an original song "Little John of God," appearing on their album "The Neighborhood."

"He can't run
He can't play
He does things in a different way
Little John, Little John of God..."


(Click on the words for a link to the story behind the story.)

The song is dedicated to the Saint John of God Community Services of Westville, New Jersey, which cares for the mentally and physically challenged. Drummer Louis Perez (who has the image of Our Lady of Guadelupe on his bass drum head) wrote the words, and multi-instrumentalist David Hidalgo set it to music, in a story of "the joys and fears of a handicapped child with a simple eloquence." The song is dedicated to the work of the facility, which is operated by the Hospitallier Brothers of Saint John of God.

"You can say with your eyes
What others only say inside..."


Many of you would remember them as the musicians playing in the bordello scene in the Richie Valens bio movie La Bamba. They also did most of the soundtrack of that movie, including the title song. It seems the band members are practicing Catholics.

Or at least, like me, practicing until they get it right.

The Fat Lady Warms Up!

My son Paul reflects on the inevitable:

"My mother told me out of the blue that her and her boyfriend were getting married. Wow. They're tying the knot in June and my mom is leaving June 30th, when the lease is up and I'm moving out also, and leaving for Cleveland where her boyfriend lives. I'm going to have a stepdad? And stepbrothers? Um... okay... So I'm definitely getting ready for a huge change."

Yeah, right. And with the guy having been married and divorced twice, and non-practicing, it's safe to say it's not gonna be a Catholic wedding. But I explained the ramifications to Paul, so at least I did my part.

Meanwhile, our support agreement was supposed to end on Paul's eighteenth birthday, which was last October. I started a program where I sent the money to Paul, each month deducting a set amount, with him making up the difference to give to his mother. Trying to get him ready for when he leaves the nest -- or the nest leaves him.

But did his mother stand for that? Ohhhh, no! She found an attorney who cited a little-known Statute in the Virginia Code, passed into law after our divorce, that allowed a court to extend child support to the end of high school or the nineteenth birthday, whichever came first. Since I never got a subsequent court order, I ignored it. But I couldn't ignore a summons to explain why I shouldn't be held in contempt.

So I consulted a lawyer and acted for my own defense. I was brilliant, even citing a precedent which was heard by the Commonwealth Supreme Court. But the judge overruled me, which sort of flew in the face of the whole point of making contracts.

The bottom line? I have to return to sending the money to Paul's mother directly, in addition to $150 deducted from what was sent to Paul. And because the judge could not find me in contempt, I don't have to pay the $750 in attorney's fees that she racked up.

Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you... eh?

Thursday, March 04, 2004

"God is found amidst the pots and pans." -- Teresa of Avila

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

From the wires of the Associated Press, as well as various unmentionable sources, proving once again that fact is stranger than fiction:

• Despite pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the town of Slaughterville, Oklahoma will not be changing its name to Veggieville. This despite a promise of $20,000 in veggie burgers to the local school district. Yum, that's good eatin.'

• The newest receptionist at Carnegie Mellon University is a robot. "Valerie the Roboceptionist" was created by the computer science department, and is programmed with her own personality, as well as the ability to give directions talk about the weather, or on the telephone.

• In San Francisco, people have been gathering to cheer the hundreds of same-sex "marriages" that have taken place -- not realizing that if the union cannot be consummated, it can be eligible for a civil annulment. And they think Catholic annulments are easy!

• In response to Bravo TV's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," a makeover program where five gay men try to change the world, one straight man at a time, Comedy Central has come out with "Straight Plan for the Gay Man." In this regular parody, a team of four manly men (the fat guy is the fashion expert) offer gay men advice about fitting into the straight world. It's pretty lame, but hey, it had to happen sooner or later.

• Last year, the Census Bureau reported that nearly one American in five speaks a language other than English at home.

• Forbes Magazine has released its annual list of billionaires. Among the newest members are "Harry Potter" author J K Rowling. Most of the rest on the list are aging white males. Duh...

• Actor Dustin Hoffman will replay his rush to the Methodist church featured in 1967's "The Graduate," for a car commercial in which he stops his daughter's wedding. This time he and the bride rush off in a 2005 Audi.

And finally...

• The city of Akron, Ohio, may one day lead the way, not only in rubber tires, but in tracking down stray cats. In a proposal before the city council, 1,000 of the little critters would be fitted with electronic implants that would help identify their owners. The city must cough up a ten thousand dollar fur ball to finance the deal. Stay tuned...