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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Links

- Episcopal Bishops approve marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples: The Episcopal Church bishops vote to change marriage canon. The Archbishop of Canterbury is sooooo concerned.

- How Walking in Nature Prevents Depression

- :) Rats Dream About the Places They Want to Explore

- It would be great to have a progressive, kind Pope. Sadly, Pope Francis isn’t it

- Death and Medicine: Why Lethal Injection Is Getting Harder

Monday, June 29, 2015

Wayward Pines: the trilogy



The latest books I've been reading are a trilogy - Pines (The Wayward Pines Trilogy, Book 1). Here's the Booklist blurb at Amazon ...

Ethan Burke is on his way to the small town of Wayward Pines to find two fellow federal agents who have gone missing. He has a bad car accident on the edge of town, waking up in the hospital and not at all sure of what is going on. The psychiatrist on staff tells him that he has suffered a brain injury and warns him not to leave, but he takes off anyway. The town sheriff is less than helpful, and, with no ID or money, Burke can’t reach his superior or his wife, and he starts fearing for his sanity (reminiscent of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island). Matters turn ominous when Burke finds the ravaged body of one of the missing agents and realizes he needs to run for his life. Clearly, despite the idyllic beauty of Wayward Pines, something is seriously out of kilter: a helpful bartender disappears, picnicking mothers turn homicidal, and seemingly innocent children display maniacal tendencies. The suspense builds to an almost unbearable point, culminating with a twist that ratchets it up even further. Fans of Stephen King, Peter Straub and F. Paul Wilson will appreciate this genre-bending, completely riveting thrill ride, which mixes suspense, horror, science fiction and dystopian nightmare all rolled up into one unputdownable book.

The books were adapted to the tv series, Wayward Pines, and it was through watching the tv series that I came upon the books. The book would probably be classified as somewhere as horror/thriller/science fiction, with violence, sex, language that would get a mature audiences rating if it were on tv ... there were some bits I had to skip as too violent. The "big secret" of the story is revealed in episode 5 of the tv series and fairly early on in the book, so I guess it's ok to mention it here ... avert your eyes if you'd rather not know ...

- spoilers -

The reason people have been mysteriously waking up in Wayward Pines and cannot leave is that a millionaire scientist, fearing a coming ecological apocalypse, has abducted them, put them into suspended animation for 2,000 years, and has awakened them in a protected environment to endure the survival of the species. Complications ensue ;)

You can listen to the audio version of book one of the trilogy at YouTube ...



Sunday, June 28, 2015

Links


- Washington National Cathedral

- The Jesuit Post: #LoveWins

- Frank Bruin: Our Weddings, Our Worth

- Jonathan Rauch: Here’s How 9 Predictions About Gay Marriage Turned Out

- Bishop Gene Robinson: Let This Inspire the LGBT Community To Be Something Greater Than We Once Were

- What a difference a denomination makes: Washington National Cathedral Applauds Supreme Court Ruling on Same–Sex Marriage

‘Little girl, get up!’



Mark 5:21-43, from Jesus of Nazareth

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Clouds

A little cooler today thanks to some clouds ...


Friday, June 26, 2015

Yay! :)

Love is love ... the Supreme Court rules for marriage equality



Further reading - A New Right Grounded in the Long History of Marriage

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Did the pope really use the 'D' word?

In the news today ... Pope Francis Says Divorce Can Be 'Morally Necessary' To Protect Kids ... Pope Francis: Sometimes divorce can be a ‘moral necessity’

This supposed recognition by the pope of the sometimes necessity of divorce sounds good to me. But did the pope actually use the word "divorce" ... all the quotes I've seen on this story have him using the word "separation" instead. If he meant separation, then this is nothing new. As Cardinal Müller, the head of the CDF, stated on Vatican Radio in 2013 ...

Admittedly there are situations – as every pastor knows – in which marital cohabitation becomes for all intents and purposes impossible for compelling reasons, such as physical or psychological violence. In such hard cases, the Church has always permitted the spouses to separate and no longer live together. It must be remembered, though, that the marriage bond of a valid union remains intact in the sight of God, and the individual parties are not free to contract a new marriage, as long as the spouse is alive.

All this is stuff is in the news because of the upcoming synod on the family and the question of whether people who are divorced and remarried will be allowed to receive communion. I'd like to say I think the pope will lead the way to an acceptance of divorce, but actually I doubt he will budge from the traditional view.

Coincidentally, I saw this article from The Atlantic today about the Philippines, where the Catholic church has such control of politics that ... a husband and wife can part only through death, or the torturous process of annulment ... because divorce is illegal.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fr. Roy Bourgeois

Here's a talk from last July by Fr. Roy Bourgeois. He speaks about his time as a naval officer in Vietnam (Purple Heart), how he came to join the Maryknoll order, his assignment in Bolivia, and his introduction to liberation theology. Later he went back to Central America, to El Salvador, just after Archbishop Romero had been killed, where he was put in prison for criticizing the military - he speaks too of the Jesuits who were murdered there. He then talks about his work against the School of the Americas.

He speaks also of his support for marriage equality, and the idea of women becoming priests. He's not alone on women's ordination: priests from Karl Rahner SJ to Willima Barry SJ have supported it, but there's a terrible climate of fear surrounding the subject in our church. It is to the Catholic church's everlasting shame that it excommunicated and laicized Fr. Bourgeois. When he was done speaking, the lady who introduced him ended with ... "Thank you, Fr. Roy. For us, it will always be "Father" Roy."


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Last Ship



My latest try of a tv series, one made by Michael Bay (The Island), is The Last Ship ...

an American post-apocalyptic drama television series, based on the 1988 novel of the same name by William Brinkley .... After a global viral pandemic wipes out over 80% of the world's population, the crew (consisting of 218 men and women) of a lone unaffected U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the fictional USS Nathan James (DDG-151), must try to find a cure, stop the virus, and save humanity.


- Eric Dane plays CDR Tom Chandler

I'm about five episodes into the first season of the series and I like it very much .... it begins in Antarctica, the good guys are really good, and there's a dog :) Here's a trailer ...


Links

Haven't posted much lately - a lot on my mind. Misty the stray cat, perhaps the most fertile cat on the planet, has had another kitten (or kittens?). I've been trying to get her spayed but she's very elusive. Now there is at least one kitten with Misty in a cat igloo in the garage, or so my sister tells me ... I can't see very well and can't crouch down to look in the igloo because my knee has been almost unbendable. After tests the doc said tatty cartilage and arthritis are causing fluid in the joint. Creepy to watch someone stick a needle into the side of your knee and draw out two big syringes of liquid. Anyway, I must find a home for the kittens somehow, saying I can catch them before they become feral and join the 9 homeless cats I'm already feeding ... argh! Now on to the links ...

- The next book I'm signed up for at the library is The Martian: A Novel (you know, the book from which the movie with Matt Damon was made). Anyway, saw this today ... The surprising story of how Andy Weir's self-published book 'The Martian' topped best seller lists and got a movie deal

- The (Re-)Invention of the Soul Mate. The synod for the family is coming up and it seems like those guys still don't understand contemporary marriage. Maybe this article would help them.

- Pope Francis To Open 30-Bed Homeless Shelter Steps From Vatican Walls

- Envision 2050: The Future Of The Oceans

- Pregnant, Parenting, and Pro-Choice: A New Tumblr Reminds Us That Pro-Choice Is Not Anti-Baby

- I came upon this Georgetown University article by accident while looking for something else. Kind of a depressing historical anit-The Mission situation ... The Jesuits’ Slaves

- A review of the Jurassic World movie from the British Jesuit site, Thinking Faith - I'm so looking forward to seeing the movie :) Here's just the beginning ...

A thin crack appears in a fragile egg. There is movement within. The shell begins to split and a claw reaches out, grasping at the air of modern-day Costa Rica. Two worlds collide, yet again: primordial pre-history and contemporary capitalism; the base primitivism of dinosaurs, brought back to ferocious life for human amusement and consumption. In this scenario, creation breeds destruction, and life, death.

Thus begins the fourth film in the Jurassic Park series. But as one of the first blockbusters to be released this summer, Jurassic World marks more than just the rebooting of another, tired Hollywood franchise. This is a visceral, raw re-birth. Clinging tightly to the essence of 1993's classic original, Jurassic World retains much of what made its first predecessor so potent. There are some genuinely terrifying set-pieces, moments of real humour, and a cast that engages the audience and retains our interest ...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The sixth mass extinction

The Earth stands on the brink of its sixth mass extinction and the fault is ours ... The scientist Vaclav Smil, of the University of Manitoba, has calculated that simply measured by mass, humans now make up a third of land vertebrates, and the animals that we keep to eat – cows, pigs, sheep and so on – make up most of the other two thirds. All the wild animals – elephants, giraffes, tigers and so on – are now less than 5% by mass. It’s a measure of how they have been pushed to the fringes by humans.



One of the scientists who did the study, Anthony D. Barnosky, a Professor in the Department of Integative Biology, Curator in the Museum of Paleontology, and Research Paleoecologist in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, has advice: 10 Ways You Can Help Stop the Sixth Mass Extinction

As Pope Francis mentioned in his encyclical ...

It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential “resources” to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.

I hope people read Barnosky's advice linked to above ... I don't understand why a majority of people just don't care enough to make any efforts to save the plants ans animals of our ecosystem.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Pope's environmental encyclical


- Perito Moreno Glacier

You can read the encyclical many places, including here at The Tablet, and of course there's a lot of commentary on it everywhere, but The Guardian has a pretty good editorial on it here - The Guardian view on Laudato Si’: Pope Francis calls for a cultural revolution

I think it's really great that Pope Francis has written this encyclical, but I have a few criticisms ... 1) I believe access to contraception should be part of any effort to save the environment ... 2) I don't think Modernity is the bad guy in this scenario, but instead I think the bad guy is just age-old selfish human nature ... 3) I don't think it helps anything to keep harping on complementarianism, the differences between men and women, when what would be more helpful would be to notice all the things we both have in common.

I did like most of the encyclical, though. Here are a few of the bits I especially liked ...

It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential “resources” to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.

The God who created the universe out of nothing can also intervene in this world and overcome every form of evil. Injustice is not invincible.

We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people. Every act of cruelty towards any creature is “contrary to human dignity”.

Jesus lived in full harmony with creation, and others were amazed: “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” (Mt 8:27). His appearance was not that of an ascetic set apart from the world, nor of an enemy to the pleasant things of life. Of himself he said: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard!’” (Mt 11:19). He was far removed from philosophies which despised the body, matter and the things of the world.

Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices ....

We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread. Furthermore, such actions can restore our sense of self-esteem; they can enable us to live more fully and to feel that life on earth is worthwhile.


Jesus says: “I make all things new” (Rev21:5).

Maybe sometimes people feel overwhelmed by the problems facing the environment and they don't see how they as individuals can make a difference for the better. I would say that you *can* make a difference, that every small effort helps. I'm no paragon of virtue in this area, but I try .... I'm a vegetarian: 10 ways vegetarianism can help save the planet ... I recycle: 5 ways recycling helps the planet ... I use an electric lawn mower: Mowing the Grass is Greener When You Don’t Use a Gas-Powered Mower ... I support environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife - these groups will be happy to email you action alerts about bills that will affect the environment so that you can write your elected representatives about how you want them to vote.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

National Treasure: Book of Secrets



Tonight's old movie check-out from the library was National Treasure: Book of Secrets. I'm sure everyone saw it and remembers how much fun it was, but for the first time I paid attention to the opening and ending credits song - "Page 47"... -I like it :) ...


Jurassic World: the book



Yesterday morning I woke up to an ambiance that viscerally reminded me of all the summer mornings when I was a kid and my family would be starting out on some exciting adventure in which almost anything might happen ... a trip to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, for instance ... I think that's part of the allure of the Jurassic World film.

I won't be able to see the movie for a while, but when I saw the book Jurassic World Special Edition Junior Novelization had just become available, all those happy feelings took hold :) OK, yes, the book is another young adult story and sadly not written by Michael Crichton as Jurassic Park books one and two were, but I'm so looking forward to the movie that I couldn't resist.

The new film, despite being ravaged beforehand by science guys for non-realism, has done incredibly well at the box office. Here's a review from The Atlantic: Jurassic World: Come for the Dinosaurs, Stay for … more dinosaurs., and Richard Roeper says the movie is "pure summer fun".

A trailer ...


Monday, June 15, 2015

Tee hee :)

It was only a matter of time before one of the most highly anticipated papal documents in recent decades got an epic Hollywood trailer. The Observatorio do Clima, a network of Brazilian climate change advocacy organizations, released a trailer pitting a kickboxing, steely-eyed, no-nonsense Francis against the coal, oil and gas companies seeking to bring the earth to its destruction. - Pope Francis Is Climate Change-Fighting Superhero In Trailer For Environmental Encyclical ....

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Even more links

- I've been reading an article - Flibanserin Sparks Debate About Women And Sexuality - about Flibanserin. It's been in the news as a kind of Viagra for women, but it's a very different kind of drug .... Viagra make men who want to have sex with someone physically able to do so .... Flibanserin makes women who *don't* want to have sex with someone change their minds. For some reason I find that a bit creepy.

- Visit Google headquarters

- Paraguay told to protect life of pregnant 10-year-old rape victim ... I saw a related article the other day ... Abortion Safer for Women Than Childbirth, Study Claims

- Could Anyone Really Transplant a Head? Hmmm = this brings up all that body/mind dualism stuff.

- Hans Urs von Balthasar scholar Karen Kilby on "Love, Suffering and Julian of Norwich" ...


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tomorrowland: the book



The latest book I'm reading is Tomorrowland Junior Novel , which is a young adult book, but I'm looking forward to seeing the movie and I decided to give it a try. The book follows the film, so here's a bit about the movie ...

Tomorrowland ... is a 2015 American science-fiction mystery adventure film .... The film stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, and Raffey Cassidy. It tells the story of a former boy genius and a teenage girl, who travel to an ambiguous dimension known as "Tomorrowland", where their actions directly affect the world and themselves.

Pretty much all the reviews of the movie have been lukewarm at best, which doesn't bode well for my enjoyment of the book. Here's one of the more positive reviews from New York Magazine ... Tomorrowland Is the Anti–Hunger Games

And here's a trailer for the movie ...



Sunday, June 07, 2015

Aquarius

The latest tv series I'm giving a try is Aquarius, which stars David Duchovny as a homicide detective working in LA in the late 60s, around the time of the Manson murders. Here's a bit about it from a New York Times review ...

[...] Unusual choices can be found throughout “Aquarius,” and they are part of what makes this drama so good. It’s so different from most network cop series that NBC is making all 13 episodes of available to binge-watch, Netflix style, on NBC.com and other on-demand platforms after the show’s debut Thursday night.

David Duchovny (“The X-Files,” “Californication”) stars as a homicide detective who among other cases, investigates Charles Manson two years before the Tate-LaBianca murders; it’s a cop procedural punctuated with music by the Who and the Byrds and Jefferson Airplane.

Each episode title is a reference to a famous song from the era or one written by Mr. Manson, including one that was reworked by Dennis Wilson for the Beach Boys under the title “Never Learn Not to Love.”

But “Aquarius” looks at the psychedelic Summer of Love through the smoky filter of a 1940s film noir. The cinematography is especially counterintuitive — interiors are moodily dark, and colors are so drained that at times “Aquarius” looks like a black-and-white movie. Even at midday, the California sun looks dim: Some exterior scenes look as if they were shot through the gray-green glass of a vintage Coca-Cola bottle.

And that’s the prism through which Mr. Duchovny’s character, Sam Hodiak, sees the flower power revolution.

Sam is a throwback, a Philip Marlowe-like loner with a weakness for booze and dames. He dresses old school — white shirt, tie and dark suit — but he has contempt for the old-boy network of fat cats and corrupt city officials who tug law enforcement in their favor. A World War II veteran with a son serving in Da Nang, Sam also doesn’t identify with the dealers, draft dodgers, musicians and Black Power leaders who defy the law and refer to him as a “pig.” ....


I've been watching it free at Hulu but it can be found at NBC too. Viewer discretion is advised before each episode for sex/violence. I wanted to watch because I like David Duchovny and he *is* good in his role - a sadder, wiser, less idealistic Agent Mulder. The time in which the series is set is interesting as well ... don't know if the program gets to the Sharon Tate murder before the end.

Here's a trailer ...


Australia and Minnesota

While the bishops of Australia toe the party line on Cardinal Pell's handling of sex abuse (read more), the civil authorities in Minnesota stand up for sex abuse victims ....



Read more ... Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis charged in child sex abuse case

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Wayward Pines

Still looking for some interesting tv shows to rent and I've come upon one conveniently free at HULU ...

- Wayward Pines ...

an American television series based on the Wayward Pines novels by Blake Crouch. Developed for television by Chad Hodge, the pilot was directed by M. Night Shyamalan .... The series stars Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke, a U.S. Secret Service agent investigating the disappearance of two fellow agents in the mysterious small town of Wayward Pines.

I chose this because of M. Night Shyamalan's involvement and the series so far (I've seen 3 episodes) is reminiscent of his movie The Village. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to stick with it, but so far it is irritatingly mysterious ;)


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Links


- Pierre-Jean De Smet SJ

- See, it's not just me, and it's not just Junipero Serra ... St. Louis University has removed a statue of Jesuit missionary Pierre-Jean De Smet

- From Nick Jones (A Wolf Called Romeo)... Arctic drilling invites disaster: Column

- Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors says it 'has no jurisdiction to comment on individual cases or inquiries'. So one wonders what the point of their existence as a sex abuse commission actually is.

- Another minute video from Presbyterian minister Patrick Vaughn. He says that being created in the image of God means being created for relationship. I do like his way of looking at things :) ...



Jesus' baby shower

I came upon this short video by Patrick Vaughn, a Presbyterian minister, and I really liked it :) ...

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Noooooo! :(


- image from Wikipedia's Arctic Ocean page

U.S. Will Allow Drilling for Oil in Arctic Ocean ...

The Obama administration on Monday gave conditional approval to allow Shell to start drilling for oil off the Alaskan coast this summer, a major victory for the petroleum industry and a devastating blow to environmentalists.

An editorial from The New York Tikes ... No to Arctic Drilling ... here's just the beginning of it ...

ABOUT 55,000 gallons of oil have escaped into the North Sea since last week from a leaky pipeline operated by Royal Dutch Shell, about 100 miles off Scotland.

Last year, Americans watched in mounting fury as the oil industry and the federal government struggled for five disastrous months to contain the much larger BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now imagine the increased danger and difficulty of trying to cope with a similar debacle off Alaska’s northern coast, where waters are sealed by pack ice for eight months of each year, gales roil fog-shrouded seas with waves up to 20 feet high and the temperature, combined with the wind chill, feels like 10 degrees below zero by late September ...


I'm reading this after just reading about an oil spill much closer to home in Santa Barbara ... Q&A: Things to know about the Santa Barbara oil spill

Maybe there's some hope ... Shell's Arctic oil drilling faces fresh court challenge from environmental groups

If you care about the environment, I encourage you to let President Obama know you are against drilling in the Arctic.