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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Links


- What is sex for? Andrew Brown asks this in his latest post ... Is gay marriage really about sex?

- Who knew Thomas Reese SJ tweets?

- Some US Bishops say they're willing to go to jail to keep from paying for health insurance (link). If only they were willing to go to jail for telling the truth about the sex abuse cover-up.

- Read about the 'spiritual but not religious' movement from Diana Butler Bass - Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening

- This clip from the BBC's Africa wildlife program shows a squirrel getting a scare when a big cat makes too much noise stalking :) ...


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The three days of the rat

It began on Monday. I woke up to see that one of the ceiling vents from the defunct central heat/air system had fallen to the floor. I was worried because squirrels and rats live in the attic so I fixed it right away, but later that night I was surprised to see a rat walk into the kitchen and give me the gimlet eye ;) I chased him around, trying to somehow catch him but he was too elusive.

The next day, Tuesday, I got an old humane trap from the garage and left it with some peanut butter but he either didn't go into it or it was too rusty to work properly. That night my sis came over and helped me try to find him with no luck. Later that night he was scurrying about again and I cornered him in the kitchen, trying to catch him by throwing a blanket on him, but he was too speedy. I involuntarily screamed a bunch of times when he came close, probably scaring him more than he scared me. After he disappeared for a while I left some peanuts for him in Kermit's old cat carrier and a bowl of water - feeling guilty for traumatizing him ;).

Today, Wednesday, I looked online for advice on how to catch him and saw that I could put some peanut butter in the bottom of a garbage can .... I could put things next to it for him to climb up on, but once he had jumped inside, he wouldn't be able to get back out. So I emptied my garbage can - not much fun - and dragged it inside to a secluded place and set it up. My sister came over after work and we looked into the can - he wasn't there. She was just about to leave when we heard a crunching sound coming from Kermit's cat carrier. Quickly my sister closed the door to the carrier and then looked inside - this time it was she who involuntarily screamed ;) There he was (and probably deaf by then). We took the carrier outside by a tree and some shrubs and and left it with the door wedged open. I'm so glad he's gone - hope he's ok.

Here's a photo I took awhile ago of one of the rats in my yard ....


Monday, January 28, 2013

Principle and Foundation

I'm still listening to the video lectures on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola from Georgetown University. The first one is here. The second one, below, begins with a discussion of the Principle and Foundation (I wrote about that once here) ...




My netsuke



I was sweeping the bedroom tonight and noticed the faux netsuke on my dresser. My sister gave it to me long ago. Wikipedia says of the real ones ...

Netsuke (根付?) are miniature sculptures that were invented in 17th-century Japan to serve a practical function (the two Japanese characters ne+tsuke mean "root" and "to attach"). Traditional Japanese garments—robes called kosode and kimono—had no pockets; however, men who wore them needed a place to store their personal belongings, such as pipes, tobacco, money, seals, or medicines .... the most popular were beautifully crafted boxes ...

Mine is just made of some kind of resiny stuff, not ivory. If you enlarge the photo, you can see it has mice and strawberries on the top (and sides too). Inside I have some of my cat Kermit's fur and a couple of whiskers.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Knowledge sharing

In the news, Anonymous hacks US government agency website after Aaron Swartz suicide. I've been reading Memory to myth: tracing Aaron Swartz through the 21st century and Hiding your research behind a paywall is immoral.

The argument that the last article makes about science writing could also be made about religious writing as well ...

[...] If you are a scientist, your job is to bring new knowledge into the world. And if you bring new knowledge into the world, it's immoral to hide it .... The purpose of a scholarly society is to promote scholarship, which is best done by making that scholarship available. A society that cares more about preserving its own budget than about the field it supposedly supports has lost its way. Societies need to find other ways to fund their activities. And yes, I am talking to you, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (my own field's society). You cannot support the science of vertebrate palaeontology by taking science and hiding it where most people can't see it.


Things I saw today ...

- Spiritual Poetry: Jane Hirshfield

- Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises, a video lecture series from Georgetown University. The first one ...


- the Lilac-breasted Roller, Wikipedia ...


- How the Vatican built a secret property empire using Mussolini's millions ... Sigh - why am I not surprised? :(

- Pride and Prejudice at 200: looking afresh at Austen's classic. When I was a teen I read this, plus Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and other similar gothic romances. God only knows what that's done to my brain ;)

- "True Facts About The Seahorse" ... hee hee ....



Friday, January 25, 2013

Tolkien and women in combat

If First Things can use CS Lewis to make an argument against women in combat, I think it's only fair to access JRR Tolkien for the opposite stance. So, did Éowyn's contribution make the battle "ugly" or did it instead save the day? ....



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Women in combat

The conservatives are having conniptions ... there's a rather creepy article at First Things that uses The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to explain to us why Battles are Ugly When Women Fight.

To understand the real issues involved, listen to this short NYT's interview with Anu Bhagwati, a former Captain and Company Commander in the Marines and director of the Service Women’s Action Network ...



I guess I should add this: I'm pretty much a pacifist, I wouldn't want to be in the armed forces myself. But the First Things article gets a lot of stuff wrong. This change will not suddenly have women fighting and dying alongside men - they are already doing that. It will not lower physical standards for positions - women will not be accepted if they cannot pass the tests. And the idea that women are intrinsically created to not fight is ludicrous to any student of either history or nature.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

More about Steve Chalke



Remember the news about Steve Chalke's stance on same-sex relationships? There's a post at CIF Belief that mentions another atypical stance he took, this one on atonement ...

[...] In 2004 Chalke precipitated a fierce debate in evangelical circles when he published The Lost Message of Jesus. In this text he suggested the traditional evangelical understanding of the crucifixion – as the moment when God punishes an innocent in place of a guilty, fallen, humanity – was a form of "cosmic child abuse". Instead, Chalke asked his fellow evangelicals to recast the execution of Christ as "a vivid statement of the powerlessness of love". The Evangelical Alliance was less than keen on this suggestion and held a public debate in Westminster amid suggestions that Chalke might cause a split in the organisation. Chalke survived this controversy and remained a prominent figure in the evangelical movement as head of the Oasis church in Waterloo ...

The posts asks if Chalke still counts as an Evangelical. I don't know about that, but I'm starting to really like him :) Here's a talk he gave that I thought was quite good (it takes a few minutes to begin) ...




Redemptorist priest Fr. Tony Flannery

As Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who covered up the sexual abuse of children by priests, enjoys his retirement and looks forward to picking the next pope (and btw, how much do cardinals make per year?), Fr. Tony Flannery, co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, is threatened with excommunication by the Vatican if he won't recant his beliefs on women's ordination and other issues (read more about this at Pray Tell). He has written in the Irish Times that recanting is too high a price to pay. Here's just a bit of the article ...

Vatican's demand for silence is too high a price

[...] I either put my name to a document that would be a lie, and would impugn my integrity and my conscience, or I face the reality of never again ministering as a priest. I have always believed in the church as the community of believers and as an essential element in promoting and nourishing the faith. I have enjoyed my years of preaching, the main work of Redemptorists, and never had any doubt that Christ’s message was one worth proclaiming. But to give up on freedom of thought, freedom of speech and most especially freedom of conscience is too high a price for me to pay to be allowed minister in today’s church.

And so the Vatican will dump Flannery and will pamper Mahony. Just business as usual :(

Monday, January 21, 2013

Video talks ...

from Wisdom House Retreat Center ....

- Timothy Radcliffe OP ...


- William Barry SJ ...


- J. D. Crossan ...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Friends, we're going to a wedding!"

Today's readings :) ....


Saturday, January 19, 2013

The blue jay ...

considers a peanut in the new bird feeder ...



And he decides to go for it ...




Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hostages

With the recent hostage taking in Algeria, there was an article today at The Atlantic about the difficulty of rescuing hostages - Massacre in Algeria: In hostage situations, the leverage is almost always with the captors. It mentions the many hostage situations in the past which have gone wrong, like the one in Iran that's touched on by the movie Argo, and it mentions one of the most successful hostage rescues - Entebbe - in which the Israelis saved 105 of 108 hostages and lost their commander, Yonatan Netanyahu. This reminds me of a past movie, Proof of Life ....

Proof of Life is a 2000 American film, directed by Taylor Hackford. The title refers to a phrase commonly used to indicate proof that a kidnap victim is still alive. The film's screenplay was written by Tony Gilroy, who also was a co-executive producer, and was inspired by William Prochnau's Vanity Fair magazine article "Adventures in the Ransom Trade," and Thomas Hargrove's book The Long March To Freedom in which Hargrove recounts how his release was negotiated by Thomas Clayton, played by Russell Crowe, who went on to be the founder of kidnap-for-ransom consultancy Clayton Consultants, Inc.

As the Atlantic article mentions, part of the problem of saving hostages has to do with why they've been captured in the first place .....

In Algeria, the kidnappers’ objective in taking the hostages remains murky. While spokesmen used grand terms of a reprisal against the West because of operations in Mali against Islamist militants, the captors’ leader—Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who may have been killed in the operation—is notorious for high-ransom kidnappings and cigarette smuggling (his nickname is Mr. Marlboro.). In 2009, Germany and Switzerland paid his group $8 million for the release of four Westerners including two Canadian diplomats. This suggests that the kidnappers might have been prepared to bargain for the captives’ release. But Galeotti is doubtful that the captors would have been swayed by money. “When you entrench yourself, you are making a statement,” he said. “Jihadists would not have wasted the situation.”

More of the situation from TIME - Algeria’s Hostage Crisis: What Was Behind a Shadowy Militant Leader’s Plot?

Sunny ...

here today so I got out the camera. My latest bird feeder plan - a bird bath ;) It seems to be working ok except for when it rains ...



There are still oranges on the tree. Don't know if the freeze hurt them ...



In the backyard, a wiggly tree - an old apricot, I think .....


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What I saw today ...

- France in Mali and kidnappings maybe linked. I don't know much about the situation but it reminds me of a past movie, The Assault.

- This Is Your Brain On Movies

- Steve Chalke on same-sex relationships ...


- How the Legal System Failed Aaron Swartz—And Us

- I have not bern watching Downton Abbey but the place where it's set, Highclere Castel, is interesting. I have to say, though, that after watching this, Puritan me was scandalized ;) ...

Watch Secrets of Highclere Castle on PBS. See more from Secrets of the Manor House.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Again, The Next Three Days

Re-watching The Next Three Days. I wrote a post about it back here if anyone's interested. It's about a college teacher whose wife is wrongly convicted of murder and whom he breaks out of prison in the face of everyone and everything telling him to accept the inevitable and move on with his life. What's disturbing and riveting about the movie is how he changes and how he doesn't change in order to be the kind of person who could do such a thing. In teaching a class on Don Quixote, he says to his students ...



We spend a lot of time trying to organize the world. We build clocks and calendars and try to predict the weather. But what part of our life is truly under our control? What if we choose to exist purely in a reality of our own making? Does that render us insane? And if it does isn't that better than a life of despair?

Here's the trailer ...




Wendell Berry and marriage equality

One of the first places I saw that advocate of the natural, Wendell Berry, mentioned online was at a conservative Catholic blog where one of his essays was being used to back up an anti-contraception post. Interesting, then, to see that he is in support of same-sex marriage (h/t Lee). It's a long article, but here's a bit of it ...

Wendell Berry expounds on gay marriage

[...] “The oddest of the strategies to condemn and isolate homosexuals is to propose that homosexual marriage is opposed to and a threat to heterosexual marriage, as if the marriage market is about to be cornered and monopolized by homosexuals,” Berry said. “If this is not industrial capitalist paranoia, it at least follows the pattern of industrial capitalist competitiveness. We must destroy the competition. If somebody else wants what you’ve got, from money to marriage, you must not hesitate to use the government – small of course – to keep them from getting it.”

Berry said “so-called traditional marriage” is “for sure suffering a statistical failure, but this is not the result of a homosexual plot.”

“Heterosexual marriage does not need defending,” Berry said. “It only needs to be practiced, which is pretty hard to do just now.”

“But the difficulty is not assigned to any group of scapegoats,” he said. “It is rooted mainly in the values and priorities of our industrial capitalist system in which every one of us is complicit.”

“If I were one of a homosexual couple -- the same as I am one of a heterosexual couple -- I would place my faith and hope in the mercy of Christ, not in the judgment of Christians,” Berry said.

Monday, January 14, 2013

St. Francis and Umberto Eco


- Eberbach Abbey where they filmed The Name of the Rose

There's a post at the Episcopal Cafe about Francis of Assisi and it reminded me of a past post of mine on the Spirituals (Fraticelli) and Umberto Eco's book, The Name of the Rose. Here's part of what I wrote ...

[A]fter Florence had been put under inderdict in 1376 by Gregory XI, the Fraticelli, who had previously been deemed heretics, re-emerged in Florence ....

The Fraticelli ("Little Brethren") were extreme proponents of the rule of Saint Francis of Assisi, especially with regard to poverty, and regarded the wealth of the Church as scandalous, and that of individual churchmen as invalidating their status. They were thus forced into open revolt against the whole authority of the Church .... Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose is set against the persecution of Fraticelli.

But anyway, the Episcopal Cafe post quotes a review in The New Yorker of a couple of books on Francis and how his movement was in a way co-opted by the church. Here's a bit of that quote ...

The schism that opened between Francis and the centrist members of the order has never healed. The minute he died, the Church redoubled its campaign of annexing this revered man .... Some of Francis’s companions survived him for many years and remained true to his code, as did other, later recruits who joined the order because of the code. From these loyalists came the so-called Spirituals, who loudly opposed any abandonment of Francis’s rules. The Church eventually disciplined them. In 1323, the Pope declared that anyone who claimed that Jesus and his disciples lived in absolute poverty (part of the inspiration for Francis’s rule) was guilty of heresy. Some of the Spirituals were put to death.

This makes me think of that scene from the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon ...

The Barefoot Prince from Travels in Transmedia on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Choose your favorite baptism

I can't decide which scene of Jesus' baptism I like best - the one from Jesus or from Jesus of Nazareth ...





In the UK and the US


- National Cathedral

Two stories ...

In the UK, over 1,000 Catholic priests signed a letter stating they're against marriage equality. Reading the letter is depressing - it's full of fear.

In the US, the Dean of the Washington National Cathedral gives an interview to CNN on the decision to allow same-sex marriages there. The words spoken are hopeful ....

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Aaron Swartz, RIP

Reading about his death from suicide at NPR. Here's a talk he gave on "How We Stopped SOPA" ......


Friday, January 11, 2013

From Argo to Tom Reese SJ

An interesting post at Close Read/The New Yorker ... Argo vs. Zero Dark Thirty: Two Takes on Torture. I don;t plan to see Zero Dark Thirty but I'm signed up for Argo. Here's the trailer ...



Non-Catholic Christian Churches and other religions, including the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Jewish and the Muslim faiths, have agreed that the Irish government must clarify abortion legislation. A poll has shown that most Irish want that too. Read more about all this at Human Rights Watch.

Saw that the Washington National Cathedral is going to perform same-sex weddings. I've mentioned that cathedral a few times - Keith Ward and Marilyn McCord Adams have preached there - but the first time I remember hearing of it was in a West Wing episode, Two Cathedrals ... the president tells his aid that the cathedral is so big, the Washington Monument could lay down inside it, and later he berates God for his friend's death and everything else that's gone wrong as we walks through the cathedral ....



With the news of the German Church's messed up sex abuse investigation, it was refreshing to read a talk by Thomas Reese SJ on sex abuse from last year at America magazine ....

The problem in the Catholic Church today is that the hierarchy has so focused on obedience and control that it has lost its ability to be a self-correcting institution. Creative theologians are attacked, sisters are investigated, Catholic publications are censored and loyalty is the most important virtue. These actions are defended by the hierarchy because of fears of “scandalizing the faithful,” when in fact it is the hierarchy who have scandalized the faithful.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Ireland

I've never been to Ireland but my grandmother's family came from there and I've always been interested in it. All I know of it is historical, but I learned some surprising stuff about contemporary Ireland in a Financial Times article today ... Ireland: Away from the pulpit

I didn't know, for instance, that Dublin's considered the new Silicon Valley, with hi-tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Ebay, and Microsoft located there. I also didn't realize that there's a huge amount of immigration to Ireland, in part due to the country's economic expansion .... about 40, 000 people move there a year ... and Islam is now the fastest growing religion in Ireland. I also learned that 90% of the primary schools in Ireland are run by the Catholic Church, which means many non-Catholics and non-Christians are forced to send their children to them. And I was surprised to read that contraception has only been legal there since 1980 and divorce only since 1997.

It's upon this backdrop that the Irish government's proposed legislative reaction to Savita Halappanavar's death, and the Church's reaction to that legislation, is now playing out.

As Wikipedia states ...

Under Irish law, according to the Offences against the Person Act 1861, as amended, an unlawful act of abortion is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment. Following a ruling of the Supreme Court of Ireland in 1992—now known in Ireland as the X case—terminations are allowed under certain circumstances, where "a pregnant woman's life was at risk because of pregnancy, including the risk of suicide".

The court ruling has not been codified into law. Peter Boylan, of the Irish Institute of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said: "The current situation is like a sword of Damocles hanging over us. If we do something with a good intention, but it turns out to be illegal, the consequences are extremely serious for medical practitioners."


It was probably because of this confusion that Savita Halappanavar died. After protests, media scrutiny, and investigations ...

On December 18, 2012, after a panel of experts submitted its report to the Parliament recommending, "the government legislate the issue in order to clarify what the current laws actually do and do not permit", Ireland’s Minister of Health, James Reilly, made a public statement marking an impending shift in Government policy, "..we will clarify in legislation and regulation what is available by way of treatment to a woman when a pregnancy gives rise to a threat to a woman’s life.."

Sorry to repeat what everyone already knows, but I just wanted to get the facts, such as they are, straight, so that I could make clear why what Sean Brady and the pope have been saying about this situation is not only wrong, but disingenuous too. They assert this proposed government clarification of an already existing policy (allowing a pregnancy to be terminated if the mother’s life is in danger) is instead something new: the decriminalization of abortion in Ireland.

I'm glad to say that I don't think the Church will be able to strong-arm the Irish government. Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who gave that electrifying speech after the release of the Cloyne Report, doesn't seem like the kind of guy who's easily intimidated.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Dog Stars



My latest book from the library is The Dog Stars, a 2012 atypical post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Peter Heller. I'm just a ways into it but so far it's good. Here's the beginning of a review at NPR ....

'Dog Stars' Dwells On The Upside Of Apocalypse

We're in the middle of a golden age (if that's the right term for it) of doomsday narratives. In the multiplex (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) and the art house (Melancholia), on television (The Walking Dead) and in fiction (The Road, The Passage), the world is regularly being smashed by asteroids, ravaged by viruses and overrun by zombies. Pop culture's embrace of end times has become, if not casual, then matter-of-fact. The apocalypse is a given; get over it already.

Getting over it already is the challenge facing Hig, the narrator of The Dog Stars, Peter Heller's crackerjack new novel set a decade or so after an epidemic wiped out 99 percent of the U.S. population. With its soulful hero, macabre villains, tender (if thin) love story and action scenes staggered at perfectly spaced intervals, the story unfolds with the vigor of the film it will undoubtedly become. But it also succeeds as a dark, poetic and funny novel in its own right ...


You can read (or listen to) a couple of chapters of the book here at NPR.

Prayer beads

Richard Beck has a post on making Anglican prayer beads. It's interesting - I knew that many different religions have prayer beads, from Hinduism to Buddhism, but I didn't realize they were an Anglican thing too. I actually know very little about the Catholic version - rosaries - but I do have one that an Irish priest once gave me, a single-decade rosary ...





Monday, January 07, 2013

Interior of my church

I saw this photo at Google images of the interior of my (former) church ...



When I joined, I was so disappointed that it was a modern suburban building with an interior like a hotel conference room ... where were all the stained glass windows, the rows of candles, the relics, the groined ceilings, the tapestries and frescoes and statues and paintings!!!? Oh well ;)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Catching up

Haven't posted for the last couple of days because I've had something that equals headaches, chills, sore throat, and bloody snot - eek! But I'm getting better, so I've been catching up today.

I see the Church of England has lifted its ban on gay bishops, but they have to be celibate ... Why gay bishops have to lie

See a photo of Mt. Vesuvius from space. The story points out that it's still active. On my one trip to Europe we did visit near there - Naples, Capri, Pompeii - but I don't remember the volcano.

Sadly, the Catholic news is typically depressing. Here are a few headlines from the Google news page I follow ... Pope says Catholic Church must stand firm against “intolerant agnosticism” ... Catholic Church on the offensive ... Catholic Church closes London's gay-friendly "Soho Masses" .... Head of radical Catholic sect calls Jews 'enemies' of the Church .... Drug cartel alms funding Mexican Catholic Church. We so have to get rid of the guys at the top :(

This video on the "true facts" about angler fish made me laugh .....





Thursday, January 03, 2013

Looper


- the time travel machine looks like a diving bell

This week's movie rental was Looper, a 2012 science fiction film about time travel and starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's set in the 2040s, when organized crime is rampant and time travel has just been discovered. Time travel is made illegal, and the crime bosses are the only ones who use it ... you know what they say: when time travel is outlawed, only outlaws will have time travel ;).

Roger Ebert gave the movie 3.5 stars out of 4 in his review. Here's the beginning of it ...

Rian Johnson's "Looper," a smart and tricky sci-fi story, sidesteps the paradoxes of time travel by embracing them. Most time travel movies run into trouble in the final scenes, when impossibilities pile up one upon another. This film leads to a startling conclusion that wipes out the story's paradoxes so neatly it's as if it never happened. You have to grin at the ingenuity of Johnson's screenplay.

The movie takes place in 2044 and 2074, both of which look like plausible variations of the American present, and then there are a few scenes set in a futuristic Shanghai. We learn that although time travel is declared illegal once it has been discovered, a crime syndicate cheats and uses it as a method for disposing of its enemies. Imagine this. A man with shotgun stands by himself in a field. A second man materializes out of thin air. The first man blasts a hole in him.

The thin-air guy, who was bound and hooded, is a man from the future who has been sent back in time to be assassinated. The shotgun guy is known as a "Looper." He has been sent back into time to be the trigger man. Eventually, when he grows old enough, he will be sent back in time to be killed by his own younger self. This is known as "closing the loop." ....


The movie was grim, it was hard to respect the main character, at least at first (he betrayed his best friend for money), and there was a *lot* of violence (rated R). But still, it was pretty interesting, all in all, especially once the main character's older self (Willis) is sent back to the past and interacts with his younger self.

Here's the trailer ...



Andrew Brown ...

has a post today on the issue of the closing down of the Soho Masses ...

The Catholic church makes a mess of gay masses

For the past six years there have been Catholics praying on a London pavement every Sunday to try to stop other Catholics attending mass. The "gay masses" at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Soho, became a global symbol of the church's struggles over homosexuality. Within the church was a congregation that went on gay pride marches: outside it were campaigners for gay shame.

For years this had no effect, but last autumn the incoming head of the CDF, the Vatican's doctrinal police, announced that he intended to tackle the Soho masses. Once the lidless eye of the CDF was turned against them the masses were doomed. The English hierarchy, which had protected them from their inception, has now withdrawn their protection.

[...]

The campaigners objected to the idea that there were people within the congregation receiving communion every week despite the fact that they had sex outside marriage, repeatedly and without sincere repentance. The masses, they said, had become a dating agency.

Quite possibly this did happen to some extent. Any gathering of Catholic laypeople defined both by their celibacy and by their interest in sex could in a way be described as a dating agency. In fact, when this sort of activity is called youth work, and involves both sexes, the church is all for it. But then there is an acceptable terminus to the interest. Happy heterosexual couples can get married and cure their celibacy, possibly even their happiness, with the full blessing of the church.

Gay people can't. In fact, the campaign against gay marriage is probably what made the masses seem a really dangerous experiment in Rome: once gay people are seen as entirely normal and with the same kind of longings as everyone else, who knows what rights may not be granted them? ....


Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Farm Street Church of the Immaculate Conception

I saw in the news that the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, has decided to end the Soho Masses, though up to now he's been supporting them. He has said that the Jesuit-run Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, will instead host pastoral meetings for the LGBT community. Given his Christmas message against marriage equality and now this, it seems like he's taking a sudden harder line against the gay community and that's troubling.

About the church - Wikipedia doesn't seem to have a page for it but it's mentioned in this page on Mount Street Gardens ... Church of the Immaculate Conception on Farm Street. The church, built between 1844 and 1849, was in a decorated gothic-style, designed by J.J. Scoles, and with the alter by A.W.N. Pugin, and is now a Grade II* listed building.

And you can read an article about the church from the Jesuit site, Thinking Faith - 160 years of Farm Street ...

Farm Street, the church of the Jesuit Fathers in the Mayfair district of London, has a special place in the hearts of many people. It is an improbable name for a church in such a fashionable area as Mayfair. It harks back to the days when the Jesuits came, in the eighteen-forties, seeking a site for their London church. They found it in what was in fact the mews (stables and coachman’s quarters) in a back street. The name derived from the Hay Hill Farm that extended in the 18th century from the present Hill Street eastward across Berkeley Square and beyond ....

Here are a few screen captures from the church website's virtual panoramic tour ...








Mont Saint-Michel at the movies



I see that Terrence Malick's latest movie is out - To The Wonder. I predict that it will be loved by the religious press, as was The Tree of Life, and perhaps even more so as it includes Javier Bardem as a Catholic priest and contains a trip to Mont Saint-Michel. The movie has received some positive reviews, but after watching the trailer I think I'd agree more with Screen International's take on it ...

To The Wonder.

The problem is that Malick’s dream of life, with its narrative core of a weak man with a paralysing fear of emotional commitment, just isn’t that interesting or original. The pictures are pretty, the music is pretty, the existential voice-overs are pretty: but after almost two hours of wistful, message-larded prettiness, Malick’s latest visual symphonic poem has us squirming in our seats.

More booed than applauded at its Venice press premiere, the film will struggle to match the respectable arthouse and urban miniplex world tour enjoyed by The Tree of Life. One problem is that it is, essentially, more of the same – not so much Tree Of Life 2, as Tree Of Life Redux – and as the end titles reveal, Malick even reuses footage from his previous film. Another snag is that if the performances of Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain gave an edge to that fitfully engaging cosmic ramble, the same cannot be said of the name cast of To the Wonder – though it’s perhaps not Ben Affleck and Javier Bardem’s fault if they never take off. It’s feels as if Malick has told them just to wander around looking pained ....


I guess I won't be seeing it. I did really like his The New World, but even that had its problems. These later movies feel more manipulative, as if Malick is trying to preach as profound something obvious through the use of borrowed beauty. But anyway, here's the trailer ...