Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, June 23, 2016


- A Public Service Translation of a Catholic Bishop’s Letter Against SOL Reform

- The law Bernie Sanders backed to protect the gun industry is being used to fight the Sandy Hook lawsuit

- How Quantum Mechanics Could Be Even Weirder

- Saving Pups From China’s Dog Meat Festival

- The Last of the Great Escapist Blockbusters: Independence Day, Roland Emmerich’s 1996 alien invasion fantasy, was supremely silly, which is precisely what made it awesome.

Monday, June 20, 2016

"What we do, how we act in this life, matters"

- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as the Egyptian god Horus

This week's movie rental was Gods of Egypt ...

a 2016 Australian-American fantasy action film directed by Alex Proyas. It stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Chadwick Boseman, Élodie Yung, Courtney Eaton, Rufus Sewell, Gerard Butler and Geoffrey Rush. In the film, which features ancient Egyptian deities, Butler plays the god of darkness Set who takes over the Egyptian empire, and Thwaites plays the mortal hero Bek who partners with the god Horus, played by Coster-Waldau, to save the world and rescue his love.

Ok, yes, the movie got mostly terrible reviews, not just for the story but also because of the ethnicity of most of the actors, but still, I signed up for it. Why? Because Nikolaj Coster-Waldau :) And, not just him - who isn't at least somewhat interested in ancient Egypt and its gods (think The Mummy, Stargate, etc.)? And anyway, if people can watch that cynical medieval-nostalgia rape and torture fest that's Game of Thrones without choking, then all bets really are off.

Though Gods of Egypt at many points was silly in a Clash of the Titans kind of way, at the end of the day it was about courage, self-sacrifice, and love. As the god Horus says, "The afterlife must be earned not with gold but by good deeds, compassion, and generosity. What we do, how we act in this life, matters".

Here's a review from The Guardian: Gods of Egypt review – ridiculous, offensive and tremendously fun

And here's a trailer ...

Anton Yelchin: RIP

- Yelchin, far L

Sad to see that actor Anton Yelchin has died ... Brand of Jeep that killed Star Trek actor in midst of recall. The young actor had been in a large number of movies. Here are three of the roles I liked best ...

- Chekov in Star Trek ...

- And he was Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation. In this clip he saves Sam Worthington's character with the famous Terminator line, "come with me if you want to live" ...

And he was also in the remake of Fright Night, which was really kind of awful ;) but he did well in the part of Charlie ...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Bernie in the news

So, where was Bernie Sanders when the other Democrats were working against guns?: Bernie Sanders Goes AWOL on Guns Filibuster ...

In the wake of the Orlando massacre, a group of impassioned Senate Democrats launched a filibuster to pressure Congress on gun control. Led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), the effort to force a vote on a measure that would ban suspected terrorists from purchasing guns and expand background checks lasted more than 14 hours.

In all, more than 40 Senators, including Republican Sens. Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), joined the fight. Starting shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday morning and lasting beyond midnight, in the end, they successfully got a vote scheduled.

But, as progressives cheered, many noticed that Sen. Bernie Sanders was missing from the fray. Sanders, who recently signaled that he would abandon his bid for the Democratic nomination, was reportedly back home in Vermont. He took to social media to show his support.

For skeptics and disillusioned supporters, it wasn’t enough. Sanders, they noted, is still a sitting U.S. Senator. His absence stirred up a mix of disappointment and outrage ... with 50 dead and dozens injured in a terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Sanders’s decision to sit on the sidelines was a reminder that—at least on gun control—the sidelines are arguably where he has always been.

During the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton—the former cabinet secretary and once a senator herself—was quick to point her opponent’s legislative record on guns. In various debates, Clinton repeatedly railed about his votes against the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, commonly known as the Brady Bill, and his failure to stand up to gun manufacturers in the wake of Sandy Hook—a mass shooting claimed the lives of 20 children and six adult staffers an elementary school.

Over the years, Sanders has said that rural Vermont is different from urban areas where gun violence is more rampant. His state has some of the most lenient gun laws in the country ....

He was too busy to go, instead rousing his minions at his "Peoples' Summit": Hillary Who? Progressive activists not ready for Clinton.

Speaking of which, the Congressional Black Caucus has 'vehemently' opposed Bernie's' call to abolish superdelegates and to allow Independents and Republicans to vote in Democratic primaries. Me too..

And meanwhile, taxpayers pick up Bernie's tab of $38,000 a day for his Secret Service agents that must watch him because he refuses to concede he's lost the nomination: An expensive reminder that Sanders still hasn’t dropped out: His Secret Service detail ...

When Sen. Bernie Sanders, the now-vanquished Democratic presidential candidate, returns to Capitol Hill to vote Monday, he is expected to be accompanied by his constant traveling companions from the campaign trail: the U.S. Secret Service. .... Such round-the-clock protection can cost taxpayers more than $38,000 a day. And with the potential for the Secret Service to be watching over Sanders through the Democratic convention in Philadelphia five weeks from now, the taxpayers may get stuck with a big security bill long after his campaign ...

I think Hillary and the DNC should just ignore Bernie and his supporters and give them no concessions ... Ignore the Bernie Bros, Hillary ... Enough With the Bern

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dr. Willie Parker

There's an article in The Atlantic about Dr. Willie Parker ... The Courage to Perform Abortions ... and a video too. I think it is worth a watch ...

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pope Francis and invalid marriages

In the news: Pope Francis is under fire for calling a "great majority" of today's Catholic marriages invalid ...

Pope Francis has said the "great majority" of Catholic marriages being celebrated today are invalid because couples do not fully realize it is a lifetime commitment, drawing sharp criticism from Church conservatives.

The pope, who has come under fire before for making spontaneous comments about doctrinal matters, was speaking at a question-and-answer session with priests, nuns and parish workers on Thursday night in a Rome basilica .....

In the Vatican's transcript issued on Friday morning his words were changed to read "some" instead of "a great majority". A Vatican spokesman said the pope's off-the-cuff remarks are sometimes edited after consulting with him or among aides ...

Actually, this isn't news - the pope said this in 2014 too: Pope Francis says half of marriages today are invalid. He's wrong. ... During a media blitz earlier this month, Kasper revealed to Commonweal magazine the pope's eye-popping assessment that half of Catholic marriages are likely invalid.

I think what this whole thing is really about is Cardinal Kasper ("the Pope's theologian") and his interest in having divorced/remarried Catholics get communion. The church won't simply admit that it's wrong about divorce ... that someone could have a valid marriage which somehow still does not last for life ... so instead, the pope says that most marriages are actually invalid, and thus annulment-worthy.

I think this is a cynical and disingenuous work-around .... it's time the church faced the truth that some valid marriages do end in divorce. And I'm not sure a vowed celibate, the leader of a church ruled by vowed celibates, can really understand what makes a marriage valid, anyway.

More: Can Only Theologians Get Married?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Heh :)

You Will Never Unsee This Wondrously Strange Fake Japanese Advertisement for Donald Trump ....

More on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife

In the news: How Ariel Sabar chased the true story of "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife" from the Florida swingers scene to the Vatican ....

The Jesus' Wife fragment has been in the news for a while - here's a post by NT scholar Mark Goodacre from 2014: The Jesus' Wife Fragment is Back.

And ... Karen King Responds to ‘The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife’

This news doesn't prove Jesus didn't have a wife, of course, but it just means that there is no known credible proof that he dud. What bugs me about the response to the Jesus' Wife fragment is the way so many Catholics seem relieved that it's a forgery. It's as if they believe Jesus couldn't be completely divine (and human) and at the same time be a husband. Why couldn't he be both?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Music to cheer up

I'm not feeling too good lately. A few days ago I hurt my "good" knee, so now my bad knee has to be my good knee. I've been practicing benign neglect, hoping it would improve by itself, but that doesn't seem to be happening so I'll probably have to go to the doc. I need some music to help me cheer up! ....

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


- Florida bishop on Orlando attack: Sadly, religion 'often breeds contempt' for LGBT people ... but at the same time, notoriously conservative SF archbishop Cordileone refers to Orlando victims' "personal lifestyles" in his statement on the shootings.

- The Complicated Pain of America's Queer Muslims

- Vatican doctrine chief downplays expectations over women deacons

- How To Talk To “Nones” and Influence People: Rob Bell’s Transrational Experience

- I've been listening to all the Carpool Karaoke videos. Not sure which I like best - hard to decide between this one with a still long-haired Harry Styles, or the one with Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) ....

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Terror in Orlando

Terror in Orlando: 50 killed in shooting rampage at gay club; gunman pledged allegiance to ISIS

Omar Mateen Committed LGBT Mass Murder. We Must Confront That

Saturday, June 11, 2016

This is why ....

I voted for Hillary - she is unequivocally for women. As she says in her speech, women's issues cannot just be dismissed as side issues ... "they're also family issues, they're economic issues, they're justice issues, they are fundamental to our country and our future".

- TIME: Hillary Clinton’s First Speech as Presumptive Nominee Puts ‘Women’s Issues’ Front and Center

- Mother Jones: Hillary Clinton Defends Reproductive Rights in First Speech as Presumptive Nominee

- ThinkProgress: Hillary Clinton's First Speech As The Presumptive Nominee Was About Reproductive Justice

- Slate: Hillary Clinton Proved Her Reproductive-Rights Chops in a Glorious Speech for Planned Parenthood

Friday, June 10, 2016

Mary M gets a feast day

Pope elevates memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to feast day

Recognizing St. Mary Magdalene's role as the first to witness Christ's resurrection and as a "true and authentic evangelizer," Pope Francis raised the July 22 memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast on the church's liturgical calendar, the Vatican announced.

A decree formalizing the decision was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship June 10 along with an article explaining its significance. Both the decree and the article were titled "Apostolorum Apostola" ("Apostle of the Apostles").

In the article for the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the congregation, wrote that in celebrating "an evangelist who proclaims the central joyous message of Easter," St. Mary Magdalene's feast day is a call for all Christians to "reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelization and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy." ....

Preaching about St. Mary Magdalene, Francis highlighted Christ's mercy toward a woman who was "exploited and despised by those who believed they were righteous," but she was loved and forgiven by him .... Francis also mentions her specifically in the prayer he composed for the Year of Mercy: "Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured paradise to the repentant thief." ...

This is a nice gesture. But we need more than gestures. Women are leaving the church and I doubt Mary M getting a feast day will make any of them change their minds. Mary was the person chosen by the risen Jesus to be the first he encountered, the apostle to the apostles, but if she was alive today, she would not be able to be even a "deaconess" in the Catholic church, much less a deacon or priest or cardinal. And Pope Francis seems to be perpetrating here the erroneous idea that Mary M was a prostitute. So this news is kind of a mixed bag.

Learn more about Mary M in this past podcast by Duke NT professor, Mark Goodacre ... NT Pod 13: Mary Magdalene: the First Woman Apostle

Thursday, June 09, 2016


- Ireland Abortion Ban Violated Woman’s Human Rights, U.N. Panel Says

- Police question French cardinal over pedophile priest

- AP warns reporters to be safe after harassment from Sanders fans ... and ... Sanders Supporters Contest NPR's Clinton 'Clinch' Call

- Reform groups challenge U.S. bishops to create 'a church for our daughters'

- Betraying the Faith of Christopher Hitchens

- Bernie Sanders Gives A Speech Divorced From Reality

- President Obama endorses Hillary for president ...

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Yay! :)

Update at 3am: I couldn't go to sleep until all the results were in for California. Hillary won. As I waited, I watched Bernie give a speech in Santa Monica in which he was introduced as the next president of the United States, and it was chilling. He mentioned nothing about the evening's loses or Hillary being the presumptive nominee. Instead a vow to fight all the way to the convention. ... so there's going to be a coups d'état? Even creepier were his followers, chanting his name. You can read about it in The New York Times.

Hillary has won in New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Early results in my state of California (only 24% reporting in so far) give her 61+% of the vote. She now has more than the necessary number of delegates to be the Democratic party's presumptive nominee. Huzzah!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Having a woman as president matters

I see in the news that the AP states that Hillary now has enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination ... Clinton’s victory is broadly decisive. She leads Sanders by more than 3 million cast votes, by 291 pledged delegates and by 523 superdelegates. She won 29 caucuses and primaries to his 21 victories.

Bernie, of course, is disputing this, but he's just in denial ... Sanders believes a strong showing in California will bolster his argument to superdelegates that he should be the nominee. Changing the minds of 200-some politicians is totally doable, he says, and he’s going to fight until the July convention to make it happen. Sure, it’s possible – in the way that a zombie apocalypse, a supervolcano eruption or a watchable sequel to “The Purge” are all possible. Just not likely. Because math.

So, Hillary getting enough delegates is huge ... this makes her the first female presumptive president in US history. Many people pooh-pooh the importance of a first woman president, but remember that we live in a country where women still do not get equal pay for equal work , a country where a legal medical procedure can be made so difficult for a woman to obtain that it's practically impossible, a country where a man can rape an unconscious woman and get a six month sentence.

And so yes, it matters that a women may be president. As Hillary said ... "My supporters are passionate. They are committed. They have voted for me in great numbers across our country for many reasons. But among those reasons is their belief that having a woman president will make a great statement, a historic statement, about what kind of country we are, what we stand for."

Sunday, June 05, 2016

LA Times: vote for Hillary

It's almost time to vote in my state primary and both Hillary and Bernie have been campaigning here. I hope Hillary wins! Even if she doesn't, she will still almost certainly be the Democratic candidate since Bernie would still be behind in popular votes (she has like 3 million more than him) and delegates, but a Bernie win will probably make it harder for her to beat Trump.

Hillary Clinton is the better candidate to take on Trump
- Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

[...] This page has endorsed Clinton not because she is more likely to win the nomination but because she is vastly better prepared than Sanders for the presidency.

We say that with full recognition that Sanders has captured the imagination of many Democrats with his articulate attacks on economic inequality and his talk of a political revolution. He can take credit for pressing Clinton to champion the interests of those who have been left behind in this economy.

But Clinton is not only more knowledgeable about domestic and international affairs than Sanders, but also more likely to achieve objectives they have in common. Her speech last week on foreign policy in San Diego -- in which she skillfully skewered Trump for his ignorance and recklessness -- was a reminder of the breadth of her understanding of international affairs. On domestic policy, her positions on issues such as healthcare and financial regulation are less utopian than what Sanders has proposed but also more realistic.

Some compare Sanders to President Obama, and there are similarities: Like Obama, Sanders opposed the war in Iraq while Clinton as a senator voted to authorize it. Sanders speaks in visionary terms and so did Obama in 2008 when he wrested the nomination from then-Sen. Clinton. But Obama’s vision was of bipartisan cooperation, not a political revolution in which, as Sanders has naively suggested, Republicans would simply capitulate to a Democratic president because a million young people would be massed outside the Capitol.

It’s true that Republicans often rebuffed Obama’s offers of cooperation, but it’s hard to imagine a President Sanders engaging any more successfully with them. Clinton, who as a senator and secretary of State was able to work cooperatively with Republicans, strikes us as being better equipped to reach across the partisan divide, something that will be necessary even if the Democrats regain control of Congress. A Clinton presidency would be more prosaic than a Sanders administration, but it also is likely to be more effective ....