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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Film and the Spiritual Exercises

I'm reading The Gift of Spiritual Intimacy by Monty Williams SJ. I had forgotten that he also wrote an earlier book about movies and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola - I wrote this in a post from 2006 ...

Finding God In The Dark: Taking The Spiritual Exercises Of St. Ignatius To The Movies, is a book written by two Canadian Jesuits, John J. Pungente, SJ and Monty Williams, SJ, to be used in a Spiritual Exercises retreat.

First, a little about the authors ...

John J. Pungente, SJ is the host of a monthly TV show, Scanning the Movies seen on Bravo! Canada. Fr. Pungente is also the director of the Toronto-based Jesuit Communication Project and is Sessional Lecturer, Media and Theology at Regis College in Toronto.

Monty Williams, SJ is the Director of the Loyola/Regis College Internship Program in the Ministry of Spiritual Direction and a Sessional Lecturer in Spiritual Theology at Regis College.

Now, about the book ...

The movies chosen for Finding God in the Dark are easily available and not what you would normally call "spiritual" in a strict sense ... Lost in Translation, Big Fish, Bowling for Columbine, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Bend it like Beckham, Mystic River, The Lord of the Rings, etc. ... but they deal with our deepest fears and hopes.

Fr. Pungente had this to say ...

This book intends to present the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola using film. For most people, the opportunity to do the full exercises of 30 days is impossible. They have neither the time nor the opportunity. Yet most people crave a spiritual life and a spiritual life that integrates the different elements of their daily lives. This book offers the opportunity to do so without leaving their home or work. It presents a practical way to make the Exercises using contemporary popular film, where watching the film becomes the act of contemplative prayer. The book is designed to be used by individuals or by groups. Besides daily life, it can be used in retreat, pastoral, academic or parish settings. It can then provide the basis for a television series. Such a broad range is possible because the Exercises of Ignatius focus on the imagination as embodying spirituality. Imagination does not exist in particular contexts; it is the context out of which we live our lives and the context in which the Incarnation occurs - that is where God encounters us, communicates with us, and transforms us.
- link

I see there's now a later edition of the book as well - Finding God in the Dark II: Taking the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to the Movies

But back to The Gift of Spiritual Intimacy - you can read the rather long preface online here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Links

- There are a couple of interesting posts at Oxford U's philosophy blog, Practical Ethics: one is The feminist case for gun rights and the other is Jeff McMahan and John Broome discuss the value of life and the badness of death (podcast too)

- 2012 World Press Photo Contest Winners

- And here's another "true facts" nature video, this one about the chameleon. I'm not sure how many more of these I can watch - they're somewhere between pretty funny and really disturbing ;) so watch this at your own risk ...







High heels and evolutionary psychology

I saw a post today in Scientific American - 5 Ways to Make Progress in Evolutionary Psychology: Smash, Not Match, Stereotypes. Here's a bit from it ...

Evolutionary psychology, the study of human psychological adaptations .... is trying to take on an incredibly challenging task: understand what of human behavior is adaptive and why. We can better circumvent the conditions that lead to violence, war, and hatred if we know as much as we can about why we are the way we are. What motivates us, excites us, angers us, and how can evolutionary theory help us understand it all? Because of this, there are consequences to a bad evolutionary psychology interpretation of the world. The biggest problem, to my mind, is that so often the conclusions of the bad sort of evolutionary psychology match the stereotypes and cultural expectations we already hold about the world.

[...]

5. Just because it works today, doesn’t mean it worked back in the day

To illustrate my final point, I turn to a recent post from Scicurious on the supposed significance of wearing high heels. It’s a classic Sci takedown, and it’s worth a thorough read.

Sci details a paper that demonstrates a positive relationship between wearing high heels and perceived attractiveness. The researchers had women walk with and without high heels, then used point light displays to demonstrate walkers’ gait without revealing their appearance. The methods certainly seem carefully constructed to avoid some kinds of bias.

Where the researchers lost Sci – and me – was where they contended that walking in heels is sexier, and represents a “super-stimulus” (think red lipstick to emphasize feminine lips, breast implants to enhance boobs). Part of the reason they make this assertion is that they claim high heels have a long history of being used to emphasize women’s assets. And of course, this is where they’re very wrong, since high heels have a long history of being worn by men ...

The bad parts of evolutionary psychology confirm what we think we already know about the world. And confirming stereotypes and calling it science tends to keep women and GLBT folk as perpetual second class citizens in this world, rather than the amazing, vibrant contributors to society they are and can be ...


Louis 14th ;) ...


Monday, February 25, 2013

Not missing the Oscars

I missed the Oscars last night - no tv - and after reading about the show today, I don't think I'll try to find it on video. One of the stories I read was by Amy Davidson at The New Yorker - Seth MacFarlane and the Oscars’ Hostile, Ugly, Sexist Night. Oh well, I'm glad to hear Argo won as best movie - I may try to see that this week, and if I do I'll post about it.





Not the Transfiguration

On a day when I could have been looking at neat paintings of the transfiguration, I was instead reading about clergy sexual misconduct (O'Brien, Mahony, Vatileaks, etc). It seems like Catholicism is often not about the gospel story but about the institution's story, and that story is often about messed-up sex. It makes me feel tired :(

Further reading -

Editorial at The Guardian, Catholic Church: cardinal errors ....

Damian Thompson - Cardinal O'Brien resigns after gay allegations – and won't vote for next Pope. This is a shocking crisis for the Church

Andrew Brown - Cardinal O'Brien and the church's sexual confusion

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thinking Faith's Lenten film series

Last year during Lent the British Jesuit site, Thinking Faith, had a series of posts about the seven deadly sins and the movies (scroll to the bottom of the page for a list of the posts). This year they have a different series - Virtues on Film - exploring movies that exemplify faith, hope, charity, prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice. The first post is Fortitude in Of Gods and Men by Niall Keenan (I've mentioned the movie Of Gods and Men in past posts here and here). I'm looking forward to the other posts.

O'Brien and the conclave

There's a lot to read about the upcoming papal conclave at NCR ... Conclave 2013. Latest news is that Cardinal O'Brien, one of those who will vote in the conclave, has been accused by three priests and a former priest of sexual misconduct with them - Pope considering response to alleged 'inappropriate acts' by UK cardinal. As in the case of Cardinal Mahony, it appears that O'Brien will be allowed to vote in the conclave despite the allegations against him. One can't help but wonder what would be found out if the other 115 cardinals were looked at more closely. What bothers me the most is that the Vatican doesn't seem to give a fig about the ethics, or lack thereof, of church official, only about their loyalty.

Friday, February 22, 2013

“Deacon-esses”? Really? :(

From Pray Tell ...

Cardinal Kasper Calls for Creation of New Office of “Deaconess”

Cardinal Walter Kasper suggested a new “diaconal” office for women at the recent spring assembly of the German bishops’ conference, German media are reporting. His proposal is for a “community deaconess” who would carry out pastoral, charitable, catechetic, and specific liturgical roles. This would be distinct from the office of male deacons, to be commissioned by a blessing rather than sacramental ordination ...

After Kasper's remarks on his visit to the UK and his talk meant to doom women bishops given to the Church of England, I wouldn't expect much from him, but surely even he must realize this separate and unequal booby prize will not satisfy.

The 10th Kingdom



Tonight at Whole Foods the muzak played a song reminiscent of The 10th Kingdom which has a couple of scenes where evil trolls are captivated by the music of the Bee Gees :) (posted about the movie here: part 1 and part 2)

Here's a bit of a past review in the New York Times about the movie (mini-series, actually) ...

COVER STORY; Through a Very Different Looking Glass

[...] Calling it complex hardly begins to cover ''The 10th Kingdom,'' which took seven months to film and mixes dozens of fairy-tale characters into an enormous whole. Although its script is an original story, written by Simon Moore, ''The 10th Kingdom'' still adheres to the ''Gulliver'' trend by weaving in a variety of fables familiar to us from childhood.

The story starts out simply enough. A young Manhattan waitress (Kimberly Williams) and her father (John Larroquette) accidentally fall through a magic mirror and into a mythical land of nine kingdoms. Along the way, however, the plot complications add up quickly. The father and daughter are escorted by a wolf-turned-man (Scott Cohen), chased by the Troll King (Ed O'Neill) and his minions and threatened by the Evil Queen (Dianne Wiest).

There are humorous allusions to familiar characters like the Seven Dwarfs and Rapunzel throughout the 10 hours and appearances by updated versions of Snow White (Camryn Manheim) and Cinderella (Ann-Margret). It's like the Grimm Brothers' Greatest Hits, as interpreted by Woody Allen ...


It's one of my favorite movies, perhaps because I remember sitting together with my mom and watching each night of it (it was on for five nights). I see that you can now watch the whole movie at YouTube here. Here's a trailer ...


Might things change?

With the old pope on the way out and the new one not yet elected, some bishops are becoming de-zombified ;) ...

- Morning After Pill, Rape, and 'Criminal Fertilization'

- Bishops call for reform of Church governance under new pontificate

- Cardinal O’Brien gives his backing to idea of married priests

But some things never seem to change - Brewing Anger Over Los Angeles Cardinal Mahony Voting for New Pope. As he tweets ... Just a few short hours before my departure for Rome. Will be tweeting often from Rome, except during the actual Conclave itself. Prayers!. You can read his queasily unrepentant blog posts here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Plum blossoms



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"That which is right, just, and true can still prevail."

Reading this - So Jonah Lehrer Has Apologized. For Money. - and it reminded me of guys who've done wrong in the sex abuse scandal - Bernard Law, Roger Mahony, and yes, the pope - but who have never admitted actually doing any wrong. Yes, they've apologized, but not for what they themselves have done, only for the situation in general.

I kind of get this - in my family, once you had done something bad and had admitted it, there was no coming back from that, no way to redeem yourself, no way to not "be" bad. It took me a long time (and I'm still working on it) to come to the conclusion that, paradoxically, unless you admit that you're responsible, rather than avoiding the badness, you're forever stuck with it.

I've been re-watching Stargate: The Ark of Truth and there's a scene where Teal'c, who had been a commander in the armies of the evil Goa'uld but then joined the good guys, talks to Tomin, who had commanded the armies of the evil Ori but who has now seen the light. As I listened, I thought of Law and Mahony and the pope and of how this bit of dialogue wouldn't touch them because they don't think they've done anything wrong ...




:)

Victor was kind enough to send me this, which made me cry :) it has an interview too with the two guys in the video ...




Ignatius and the priesthood

A post at America magazine's blog deems Garry Wills a "heretic" for the views expressed in his book, Why Priests? A Failed Tradition. This reminded me of a past post at dotCommonweal .... Pope to clergy: “After God, the priest is everything!” .... about an attitude at the other end of the spectrum from what Wills believes. There's a related post too at US Catholic - Bruni on Wills on Mahony on priesthood: What's the way forward?

I commented on the post at dotCommonweal, writing ...

I’ve been reading John O’Malley’s book, The First Jesuits, and he writes this about the early Society and holy orders ….

“[...] much of the ministry in the Society was in fact done by persons who were not ordained. More fundamentally, was the warrant for all the ministries derived in their opinion not from ordination but from acceptance of the call to be a member of the Society of Jesus. The Jesuits discussed that call frequently and at length, but rarely, if at all, did they speak of a “call to priesthood” …. When Nadal in his exhortations reviewed with his fellow Jesuits the outline of Ignatius’s life, he therefore had practically nothing to say about his ordination, reflecting Ignatius’s Autobiography in this relative silence. On one occasion Nadal began an exhortation with a telling apology for his narrative about what happened in Venice in 1537: “I must mention, by the way, that yesterday I forgot to tell you that Father Ignatius was ordained a priest.” …… Some young Jesuits thought ordination brought with it the danger of honor and special privilege and, hence, said they did not want to be ordained unless their superiors expressly ordered them ….”

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yard photos

Cold and rainy today (you can see the raindrops if you click to enlarge the photo) but spring is here: the Acacia tree is blooming (achoo!) ...



The bluejay looks for a dry peanut ...



Church stuff and nightmares

- A couple of news bits from The Tablet ... Mahony ‘should miss conclave’ and Cardinal [Peter Turkson] links abuse and homosexuality

- Interview With Swiss Theologian [Kung]: 'Benedict XVI Could Turn into a Shadow Pope'

- I've been having a lot of scary nightmares lately and have been trying to figure out why. Wikipedia has some helpful links, including this one to an audio piece at NPR - The Science Behind Dreams and Nightmares

- SNL - What dies a pope do when he retires? :) ...



Journey to Celestis

I'm re-watching Stargate: The Ark of Truth. Here's a video showing Teal'c, who had been badly wounded, struggling to cross snow-covered peaks to save his imprisoned friends from the evil Ori - the song playing - Journey to Celestis - is neat :) ...



Monday, February 18, 2013

Lent and the Spiritual Exercises

I'm trying to figure out how to do Lent. The 'giving up' idea doesn't appeal to me but I'm still listening to the video series on the Spiritual Exercises and maybe something from those will strike me. I'm up to #7 which deals with the discernment of spirits and "election" (trying to figure out the most authentic way to be you :) .....


Sherlock lives :)

When last I read of Sherlock Holmes, writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had killed him off in an episode titled The Final Problem - he and his arch enemy, Moriarty, fought and fell together into Reichenbach Falls, the bodies not found and both presumed dead. Holmes was later revealed to have survived and the stories continued.

Tonight I watched the last episode of season 2 of the British tv series Sherlock, The Reichenbach Fall, which was loosely based on the story mentioned above ... Sherlock appears to fall to his death but is seen at the very end to have survived. Apparently there's to be a third season, the first episode of which will have Sherlock revealing to Watson that he's still alive. Looking forward to it! :)


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Getting medieval on predators

In the news from Australia/New Zealand - New Zealand Economist: Abolish Pet Cats to Save Birds. This reminds me of a past post at the NYT's philosophy blog about predation - The Meat Eaters. Te NYT's post is interesting but while I do want to limit the suffering and death of animals (hey, I'm a vegetarian with a birdbath and two bird feeders in my yard) I don't think going after predators is the best way to do that. And here are a few of my thoughts about the cat situation ....

- I'm intrigued by the irony that most of those in New Zealand/Australia calling for an end to non-ndigenous cats are themselves non-ndigenous descendants of European immigrants.

- Not all cats are devoted predators. Some have more atavistic brains than others and will hunt even when well fed, but others will raise baby squirrels as their own ...


- If cat owners are concerned about their cats hunting birds, they could make them indoor-only vats. My four cats were indoor-only. The mother of the other three was a stray and it took me a while to turn her into an indoor cat, but I was able to do so over time. My vet once told me outdoor cats live an average of four years - my indoor cats lived 15 - 18 years.

- If the problem is feral cats then deal with it responsibly by rewarding owners who neuter their pets, discouraging owners from abandoning their pets, and neutering feral cat colonies.

- I think there's a belief underlying this issue that being a predator is 'evil' and that cats are mean. I'm pretty sure this moralistic projection. If being a predator is evil and makes one worthy of extermination, then many of the very bird species that the New Zealanders/Australians want to protect should also be exterminated because they too are predators of rodents, other birds, and insects. And if we're getting rid of predators, humans are probably the most efficient predators of animal life, with hunting, experimentation, factory farming, and the continuing destruction of habitat.

- Finally: Alley Cat Allies Responds To Nature Study's Claims On Cats And Birds

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Babylon 5 and Lent

Lent always makes me think of an episode of Babylon 5 - Ceremonies of Light and Dark - in which Delenn wants everyone to participate in a Rebirth Ceremony where they must "give up" something important to them. Everyone complies except the Ranger, Marcus Cole. Before he became a Ranger, all his family and his home and his work had been destroyed by the bad guys, so when Delenn asks him why he doesn't want to take part in the ceremony, he says ...

Everything I was, everything I had, all of it died that night. I don't have anything left to give.

But she tells him ... Yes. You have lost much, endured much, sacrificed greatly, but you cling to the memory of your sacrifices of all the things you have lost or left behind. They drag behind you like chains of your own making. They can have a terrible power over you Marcus. The power of grief, and lost, and regret. Yes, you have let go of the people, the places, the things, but you have not let go of the pain. You have not forgiven yourself ... [for] Being alive.

When Lent comes around I feel kind of like Marcus - a resistance - I don't want to give anything up because I'm still mad at God for what seems like my losses. Maybe someday I'll get over that. But anyway, here's a video clip from that episode of Babylon 5 that shows Marcus defending Delann's honor, though sadly I couldn't find one of the conversation mentioned above ....




Lent as a vow

Lent isn't just about giving things up

[...] Recently I’ve learned a new meaning of the word “vow.” Did you know a vow is not the same thing as a promise, but that it more nearly resembles the word “vote?” Both words, “vow” and “vote,” come from the Latin root, “votum.” Rather than an oath or a binding contract, a vow is a choice, an intention, something we desire to accomplish but which usually does not cost us our life or fortune if we don’t follow through ....

Lenten music




Friday, February 15, 2013

:)

- Pope’s Decision to Come Out of Retirement Stirs Controversy

- more animated nature GIFs than you can shake a stick at

'Wildebeest' Short Film Shows The Animals At A Crossroads ...




Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Tibetan monk, the pope, animals imagine, and complementarianism not!

- How Many Self-Immolating Tibetans Does It Take to Make a Difference? ...

On Wednesday morning in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, a Tibetan monk drenched in gasoline appeared in front of a Buddhist stupa popular among Tibetans and set himself aflame ... the act has become the signature tactic in recent years of Tibetans voicing their frustrations with Chinese rule. It carries a haunting moral cry no suicide bomber can match. When one downtrodden Tunisian set himself alight in December 2010, the spark of his despair and anger kindled uprisings that swept across the Arab world. Yet, 100 Tibetan self-immolations — and many deaths — later, little has changed ...

- The Disastrous Influence of Pope Benedict XVI ...

Spare me any more reverential coverage about Pope Benedict XVI and his decision to give up his office. On a personal level, I wish him well. At the age of eighty-five and increasingly infirm, he surely deserves a rest. But as far as his record goes, he can’t leave office a moment too soon. His lengthy tenure at the Vatican, which included more than twenty years as the Catholic Church’s chief theological enforcer before he became Pope, in 2005, has been little short of disastrous. By setting its face against the modern world in general, and by dragging its feet in response to one of the worst scandals since the Reformation, Benedict’s Vatican has called the Church’s future into question, needlessly alienating countless people around the world who were brought up in its teachings. Not that it matters much, but you can count me among them ...

- Do animals have imagination? ...

[...] Decades of intensive observation have revealed that under some circumstances, animals can imagine the future or the past, can pay attention to imaginary objects, and can pretend that one object is another. In some extraordinary circumstances, non-human animals have been known to feign interest or emotion, a type of pretence, in order to distract a rival from food or a mate ...

- Men are from Mars Earth, women are from Venus Earth ...

For decades, popular writers have entertained readers with the premise that men and women are so psychologically dissimilar they could hail from entirely different planets. But a new study shows that it's time for the Mars/Venus theories about the sexes to come back to Earth.

From empathy and sexuality to science inclination and extroversion, statistical analysis of 122 different characteristics involving 13,301 individuals shows that men and women, by and large, do not fall into different groups. In other words, no matter how strange and inscrutable your partner may seem, their gender is probably only a small part of the problem ...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Remember that you are dust

Ozymandias - Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

New pope

An article by Garry Wills, New Pope? I’ve Given Up Hope. They're commenting on it at dotCommonweal - Hope for the next Pope? Nope. I myself have no hope that the next pope will be any better than Benedict, since many of the cardinals who'll vote and from whose ranks the next pope will be chosen were probably appointed in reward for being loyal.

But the conservatives are jazzed about a new pope even as they pay tribute to the old pope - An African pope would make the jaded western world sit up and take notice. Peter Turkson is the African cardinal usually mentioned as a front-runner. From what I've read, he'll be at least as conservative as Benedict ... Condoms are not reliable in fight against HIV, says African cardinal ... Cardinal Responds to U.N.'s Criticism of Africa's Social Policies. I don't know much about the Catholic Church in Africa beyond what I've read about Bishop Kevin Dowling and The Church and Rwanda, but if the Catholic Church in Africa is anything like the Anglican Global South, it will be pretty conservative.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Faith



“But there were some things I believed in. Some things I had faith in. And faith isn't about perfect attendance to services, or how much money you put on the little plate. It isn't about going skyclad to the Holy Rites, or meditating each day upon the divine.
Faith is about what you do. It's about aspiring to be better and nobler and kinder than you are. It's about making sacrifices for the good of others - even when there's not going to be anyone telling you what a hero you are.”
- Changes

Crystal is mean

OK, I'm mean. The pope is retiring, he's ill, he's elderly, and yet still I've been uncharitable enough to post the reasons I did not appreciate his papacy. In my defense, I don't dislike him as a person (hey, he's an animal lover like me) and I do wish him well in his retirement, but for me, a Vatican II fan, an inclusive church fan, a fan of ecumenism, he was a disaster as a pope. And I'm not going to apologize for still wanting to hold him accountable for the way the sex abuse scandal was handled - people have died because of that. If that makes me mean, so be it.

The pope's new home


- Wikipedia photo of the Vatican Gardens

According to the news, Benedict will eventually live in the monastery Mater Ecclesiae in the Vatican Gardens. You can see the monastery in the photo above - it's at the top, to the right of the building that houses Vatican Radio. Here's a detail ...



And this map of the Vatican gives you an idea of where the monastery is in relation to the rest of the city - it would be on the left of the map, near the Vatican Radio building ...



You can read more about the monastery here. And you can see more photos of the Vatican Gardens at the Vatican's website.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wow!

The Pope resigns! There's coverage of it everywhere, of course - The Tablet has a live blog on the event, Rocco Palmo's all over it, Andrew Brown comments, and Thomas Reese SJ has an article at America - Q&A on Papal Transition, Conclave & Election of New Pope

I can't help thinking that a part of the reason for the resignation is the recent investigation by civil law enforcement in a number of countries against those in the church who have covered up sex abuse, and as film-maker Alex Gibney pointed out, Benedict seems implicated.

The tributes to Benedict's papacy are accumulating, but let me recall some of the negatives too: his anfti-ecumenical statements/acts towards Protestantism and Judaism, his pushing through of a questionable new missal, his embrace of the SSPX, his equating the badness of women's ordination to sex abuse, his many anti-LGBT statements, the return of the Latin Mass, etc.

I don't have high hope that the next pope will be a lot better than Benedict - he's pretty much stacked the deck on the choice of his successor with his many conservative cardinal appointments. Still, one can hope.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

On Whole Foods muzak today


Saturday, February 09, 2013

Some links

- Giles Fraser stops writing for the Church Times - Goodbye: I am letting anger drop

- An article in Slate about Aaron Swartz - Aaron Swartz wanted to save the world. Why couldn’t he save himself? - that links to a list Aaron made at his blog of the books he'd read in 2011. It's an interesting list - the only book we'd both read was Kafka's The Trial

- While Catholics fight a turf war for Richard III's remains, Amy Davidson at the New Yorker writes about the condition of his body - his wounds, his disability - and what that meant to being king ... The Humiliation of Richard III

- Read an interview at The Nation with award-winning film maker Alex Gibney - Sexual Abuse and Cover-up in the Catholic Church: A Q&A With Filmmaker Alex Gibney

- From What's in Kelvin's Head, a post with this video of a speech by MP David Lammy in the House of Commons on why "separate but equal" is a failed ethics ....



- I'm still watching the video series on the Spiritual Exercises. I'm now up to #6 - Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises Lecture 6: Public Ministry of Christ ...





Friday, February 08, 2013

Two cats :)

Here's an old photo of my cat Spot looking a bit demoniac ....



And here's my neighbor's cat taking a nap in the sun today ...



Lent Madness

:) ...


Cardinal Meisner

How the Catholic news works: first someone in the church says something hopeful:

Rape victims to get contraceptives and abortion counselling (The Tablet) ...

Catholic hospitals in the archdiocese of Cologne will in future be allowed to offer rape victims certain types of morning-after pill and to counsel them on abortion, the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, has said. Cardinal Meisner's announcement follows the case in January of a rape victim who was turned away from two Catholic hospitals because doctors feared that they would lose their jobs if they counselled her on the morning-after pill. Cardinal Meisner apologised and said he was "deeply shamed" ...

And then the church corrects the misconception that that person actually meant what they said:

Doctor says Cardinal Meisner's contraception statement was manipulated (EWTN) ...

[...] Cardinal Meisner issued a Jan. 31 statement in which he said that if "a medication that hinders conception is used after a rape with the purpose of avoiding fertilization, then this is acceptable in my view." His statement was widely interpreted by the press as giving permission for Catholic hospitals to dispense Plan B to rape victims. But the study presented to the cardinal was one that was coauthored by Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson, who acknowledges at the end of the paper that she "has served on Medical Advisory Boards of HRA- Pharma and Bayer on matters related to emergency contraception." In his remarks to EWTN News, Dr. Simon also pointed out that the manufacturer of the morning-after pill says the drug may prevent an embryo from implanting on the uterine wall. "So, we cannot accept it, since even a microscopic human embryo is a person with rights, dignity and a son of God," he insisted ...

We now await the final act, in which the person who made the statement is threatened into retracting what they said. :(



Thursday, February 07, 2013

San Diego


- Balboa Park

Thinking about San Diego today, where I once stayed for three months. I had no duties so I spent most of my time on the beach at Coronado or jogging the paths of Balboa Park and visiting the zoo there.

Coronado ...



Balboa Park and the zoo ...



Hard not to think of warm sunny places when it's February ;)


Rutger Hauer as Vatican banker

I'm learning some interesting stuff about contemporary church history. Latest tidbit - Paul Marcinkus. He was a Chicago priest who climbed the ckerical ladder to become the president of Vatican City, and then the president of the Vatican Bank from 1971 to 1989. This from Wikipedia ....

In July 1982, Marcinkus was implicated in financial scandals being reported on the front pages of newspapers and magazines throughout Europe, particularly the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano, in which Propaganda Due (aka "P2"), a Masonic Lodge, was involved (Marcinkus had been a director of Ambrosiano Overseas, based in Nassau, Bahamas, and had been involved with Ambrosiano's chairman, financier Roberto Calvi, for a number of years). He was also involved with Michele Sindona, who had links with the Mafia.

[...]

Upon the election of Pope John Paul II, Marcinkus was promoted within the Vatican bank and remained in office for several years before the scandal widened, after the body of Calvi, whose Banco Ambrosiano had dealt with Marcinkus, was found hanging under London's Blackfriars Bridge in June 1982. The death of Calvi was seen by some as symbolic, since Propaganda Due referred to themselves as the "Black Friars." Adding to the troubles, journalist Mino Pecorelli, who had been investigating Marcinkus, the Vatican Bank and ties to organized crime, was found dead in 1979. Marcinkus himself was never charged with a crime.


Who knew that this was so out there that a movie was made of it - The Bankers of God: The Calvi Affair - and that Rutger Hauer, of Blade Runner fame, played Paul Marcinkus.

You can read more about this from the BBC - Scandal-hit Vatican banker dies



Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sherlock



My latest DVD rental is the tv series Sherlock ...

a British television crime drama that presents a contemporary update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes detective stories. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson .... Sherlock depicts "consulting detective" Holmes, assisting the Metropolitan Police Service, primarily DI Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves), in solving various crimes. Holmes is assisted by his flatmate, Dr John Watson, who has returned from military service in Afghanistan. Although the series depicts a variety of crimes and perpetrators, Holmes' conflict with his archnemesis Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott) is a recurring feature.

I'm a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories and wrote about them here, so it was fun to see how they had modernized the characters. Watson is still a doctor and former soldier, but he writes a blog now instead of diaries of his cases with Holmes. Holmes is harder - the original would be pretty hard to duplicate well. I've just seen one episode but liked it a lot and will sign up to see the rest. Here's a clip ...



Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Baby bats :)


Monday, February 04, 2013

Looking for Richard and other stuff

- the body of Richard III has been found. He was the last of the Plantagenets, who supposedly killed his way to the top but then lost the Battle of Bosworth Field to the future Tudor king, Henry VII. He's mostly known through Shakespeare's play and guys from Laurence Olivier to Kevin Spacey have portrayed him. Someday I have to rent Looking for Richard ...



- I've been playing a new game lately ...Flow Free ... pretty colors ;)

- Protests for censured Irish priest, Fr Tony Flannery

- Alex Gibney’s ‘Mea Maxima Culpa’: Sex, Lies, and the Catholic Church ....

Some popular documentarians—like Michael Moore and Ken Burns—allow themselves years to obsess over a project, shooting hundreds of interviews and endlessly tinkering with edits. That’s not a method that interests Academy Award–winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, the director of such critically lauded documentaries as Taxi to the Dark Side, about the death of an Afghan taxi driver at the hands of American soldiers, and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which delves into the backstory of the firm’s scandalous collapse. In 2011 alone, Gibney directed four feature-length films. He’s currently promoting two of them: the forthcoming We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, which debuted last month at the Sundance Film Festival—and has already been denounced by mercurial WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange—and Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, premiering tonight on HBO ......

- from the Episcopal Cafe ...



Sunday, February 03, 2013

John O'Malley SJ

"Teaching and Understanding the Council After 50 Years" .... a conference held 9/20-22/12 at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota. (you may wish to skip the first nine minutes of introduction to where he begins his talk) ...


Saturday, February 02, 2013

College chapels

Saw this - The 30 Most Beautiful College Cathedrals - and thought I would mention a few of them ...

- The Stanford Memorial Church at Stanford University has beautiful mosaics ....



- King's College Chapel, Cambridge is perhaps most famous for its ceiling (and scenes from Harry Potter) as well as all those music videos :) ....



- The Church of Our Lady of the University of Copenhagen is memorable because of Bertel Thorvaldsen's famous sculptures, like this baptismal font ...



- The Chapelle de la Sorbonne hosts the tomb of Cardinal Richelieu, the villain of The Three Musketeers :), who had it built ....


Friday, February 01, 2013

The First Week ...

of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola is discussed in the third video of the series from Georgetown University, "Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises". In my shorthand, this week is about wrongness in the world and in ourselves and how God loves everything, including us, despite this. But the speaker, Howard Gray SJ, does a much better job of explaining it all than I can ...


Mahony has not been punished

Given what's in the press, you may think that the Catholic Church has made great strides today with the public rebuke by Archbishop Gomez of Cardinal Mahony for his concealing sex abuse ...



Not so. Here's why ...

1) Gomez is not hero. He knew about the cover-up for some time yet chose only now, when it has been made public, to speak up ... ... Gomez was well aware when he took over in 2011 of the steps Mahony had taken to develop better clergy sex abuse policies and never questioned his leadership until Thursday, Mahony wrote. - Mahony defends legacy on church abuse in blog

2) It sounds good to say Mahony has been punished by being relieved of all his administrative and public duties, but in fact, being retired, he has no administrative or public duties anymore ... Mahony retired in March 2011. As Tamberg told me, since that time Mahony “has had no administrative duties.” - Cardinal Mahony barred from public ministry? (UPDATED)

3) It's all about PR spin and damage control ... McKiernan of bishopaccountability.org noted that Mahony will keep the title of "archbishop emeritus" and suggested his removal from public life was primarily an effort to blunt the wave of criticism likely to follow the file release. They are trying to gain control of what is truly a devastating time for them," he said. - Cardinal Mahony's removal not enough, church critics say

4) And at the end of the day, Mahony's life will go on as it has - he'll still be a retired archbishop and a cardinal with all the perks (like voting for the next pope, or OMG, being voted the next pope). Here's this from Whispers in the Loggia ...

[...] In a brief clarification issued late Friday afternoon Pacific time, Gomez said that Mahony and Bishop Thomas Curry – who resigned from his administrative post in the archdiocesan administration, but not as an auxiliary bishop of LA – both remained "bishops in good standing" and enjoyed "full rights" to minister "without restrictions."

And this ...

[...] While a sitting archbishop may make any request he wishes on the extent of his cardinal-predecessor's role and public presence, Gomez's announcement on Mahony technically has no force. By the provisions of canon law, the universal faculties granted every member of the College, or any limitation of them in specific instances, rest solely within the competence of the Holy See. Ergo, barring an explicit papal move restricting his de iure perks, Mahony retains his seat in a Conclave to elect the next Pope until his 80th birthday in 2016, and all the other prerogatives that come with the "red hat" for life.

So, only the pope can really punish Mahony for what he's done and I predict the pope will not do it. Meanwhile, Mahony defends his actions, signing an open letter to Gomez on his blog with this title: His Eminence, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles. Now there's an example of humble contrition ... not!


The Mysterious Island



This week's movie rental was Journey 2: The Mysterious Island ...

a 2012 American 3D science fiction adventure film directed by Brad Peyton. It is the second film in the Journey film series and the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth. Following the first film, the sequel is based on another Jules Verne novel, this time The Mysterious Island. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzmán, and Kristin Davis.

I've read A Journey to the Center of the Earth and seen a few film versions of it, the latest being the first movie in this Journey series - Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser. It was kind of silly but fun enough that I decided to see this second movie in the series, The Mysterious Island. Fraser wasn't in this second film, and instead his place was taken by The Rock :)

Roger Ebert gave the movie 2 out of 4 stars in his review and as he wrote ... This is transcendently goofy. It isn't a "good" movie in the usual sense (or most senses), but it is jolly and good-natured, and Michael Caine and Dwayne Johnson are among the most likable of actors.

In the first movie, young Sean Anderson, whose scientist father went missing tracing Verne's journey to the center of the earth, gets together with his uncle (Brendan Fraser) to find his father. They use Verne's novel to locate the path to the center of the earth, an Icelandic volcano, and they come upon Sean's father there, dead. In this second movie, Sean and his step-father (The Rock) look for his grandfather (Caine) who's gone missing while searching for Verne's mysterious island. They trace the location to an area near Palau and look for someone to take them to the island's supposed location ...



A father-daughter tour guide team takes them, and their helicopter crashes on the mysterious island ...



There they find Sean's grandfather ...



He takes them to his tree house and makes them dragon fruit smoothies :) ...



On the island, large animals are small ....



And small animals large ...



And they find the lost city of Atlantis ...



But Sean's step-father figures out that the island is sinking ....



And they must find a way off before it's too late ...