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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: the year that sucked



- Deaths .... Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, George Michael, John Glenn, Gene Wilder, Anton Yelchin, Daniel Berrigan, Umberto Eco, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, and many more ... In 2016, the world lost an entire tier of progressive icons right when it needed them most

- 2016 Was the Year White Liberals Realized How Unjust, Racist, and Sexist America Is

- Pope Francis says women will never be Roman Catholic priests and Pope Reiterates Catholic Church's Ban on Gay Priests

- 16 Depressing AF Science And Health Stories From 2016

- 230 Things Donald Trump Has Said and Done That Make Him Unfit to Be President ... and yet he won.

Sigh :(

Thursday, December 29, 2016

JW Waterhouse and The Lady of Shalott

I was reminded today of the artist JW Waterhouse. I loved his paintings when I was an art major in college. Here are some that I especially liked ...


- Echo and Narcissus


- Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus


- Hylas and the Nymphs


- Saint Cecilia


- The Annunciation


- The Lady of Shalott

Seeing The Lady of Shalott reminds me of that song/poem about her. I used to sing this beautiful song to my cat Kermit towards the end of her life when she was sick ...



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Complaining to God



I prayed for Carrie Fisher to get well. Instead she died and now, one day later, her mother has died as well. I can only imagine the suffering of their surviving family. To quote Richard Leonard SJ, where the hell is God? :(

Even complaining to God is a form of prayer, pope says

To complain to God in moments of doubt and fear like Abraham did is not something bad but rather is a form of prayer that requires the courage to hope beyond all hope, Pope Francis said.

While in life there may be times of frustration and darkness, "hope is still there and it moves us forward," the pope said Dec. 28 during his weekly general audience.

"I won't say that Abraham loses patience, but he complains to the Lord. This is what we learn from our father Abraham: complaining to the Lord is a form of prayer. Sometimes I hear confessions where people say, 'I complained to the Lord.' But no. (Continue) to complain; he is a father and this is a form of prayer. Complain to the Lord, this is good," he said ...


I'm glad to read this because complaining is pretty much the only kind of prayer I pray nowadays. Just tonight I said to my sister, 'why doesn't God help people who are suffering? I mean, it's kind of his job. If he's not going to help us, what good is he?'.

Some have told me that it's mercenary to expect God to help but I don't think that's true. A child rightly expects help from his parents with things he can't accomplish himself. And Jesus said that God was like a good parent ...

Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

So back to my question - why do so many prayers go unanswered?

Taking a look at Twitter today








Tuesday, December 27, 2016

RIP: Carrie Fisher



Very sad to see that Carrie Fisher, who had a heart attack a few days ago, has now died. I was always a fan of Star Wars but have been even more interested since The Force Awakens came out. In fact, right now the book I'm reading from the library is Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! bty Tom Angleberger. She was a smart, funny, vulnerable, and scrappy person - she will be missed.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Out in the yard

A colorful leaf among the brown ones ...



Uh oh, another tree has fallen over .....



Even though it's pretty cold, some roses are still blooming ...



Strange toadstool things growing on the walnut tree ...



A kitty trail leads into some bushes ...




Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

This song was in my head today ...

Friday, December 23, 2016

Carrie Fisher: get well

Actress Carrie Fisher is in critical condition after a cardiac episode on flight from London to L.A.

I'm sorry to read this and hope she gets better. I just finished reading her recent book, The Princess Diarist, about the affair she had with Harrison Ford when they were filming the first Star Wars movie (it is too the first movie). You can listen or read an interview with Fisher on the book at NPR Carrie Fisher Draws From Her Personal Journals In 'The Princess Diarist'

I hope her little dog will be ok ...





Some pics from the olden days ....








Thursday, December 22, 2016

Trump wants more nukes



In the news today: Trump: U.S. Must ‘Strengthen and Expand’ Nuclear Capability

Every day I see something horrible about Trump in the news .... his insane cabinet picks, the rise in hate crimes he's inspiring, the growing onslaught against women's health options brought on by his victory, etc..... and I imagine that things can't get worse, but I'm always proven wrong. Now this.

Hey, US Bishops who helped this guy win, and all you Republicans who voted the party line, and you Bernie supporters who were too pure to vote for the lesser of two evils - I hope you're all happy with the results when we're all glowing in the dark.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Some Christmas music

King's College Cambridge, Sussex Carol ...



1. On Christmas night all Christians sing
To hear what news those angels bring;
News of great joy, news of great mirth,
News of our Saviour King's own birth.

2. Then why should men on earth be so sad
Since our Redeemer made us glad,
When from sin He set us free
All for to gain our liberty.

3. Now sin depart, behold His grace,
Everlasting life comes in its place,
And soon we shall its terror see
And poor and rich must conquered be.

4. Then out of darkness we see light,
Which makes all angels to sing this night
Glory to God and peace to men
Both now and evermore. Amen.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Man in the High Castle: Alphonse Mucha



Still watching The Man in the High Castle and in last night's episode #5, "Duck and Cover", the character I mentioned in an earlier post, Nobusuke Tagomi, the Trade Minister of the Pacific States of America, goes into a North Beach bookstore and in the background we see an art nouveau poster by Alphonse Mucha, an 1898 lithograph of Sarah Bernhardt as Medea ....



When I was in college I really liked Mucha's art, especially his posters. Here another ...



Zodiac



Friday, December 16, 2016

The Man in the High Castle: season 2



Happy to see that The Man in the High Castle has returned to Amazon for a second season. For those who aren't familiar with the show, it's ...

an American dystopian alternative history web television series produced by Amazon Studios, Scott Free, Headline Pictures, Electric Shepherd Productions and Big Light Productions. The series is loosely based on the 1962 novel of the same name by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick. The story is an alternative history of the world in which the Axis powers won World War II. The United States has been partitioned into three parts: The Japanese puppet state Japanese Pacific States, which comprises the former United States west of the Rocky Mountains; a Nazi puppet state that comprises the eastern half of the former United States; and the Neutral Zone that acts as a buffer between the two.

I'm watching the second episode of season 2 and in it one of the characters, Nobusuke Tagomi, the Trade Minister of the Pacific States of America, reads a suppressed book at the library, William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience, to help decipher a vision he had. He says to the librarian ...

[W]hen one is troubled by the reality of this world, it can be comforting to consider other possibilities, even if those possibilities disturb us, so strong is the desire to escape the tyranny of consciousness and the narrow boundaries of our perceptions, to unlock the prisons of thought in which we trap ourselves, all in the hope that a better world or a better version of ourselves, perhaps, may lie on the other side of the door. - The Road Less Traveled

I think this is why I keep reading and watching fiction. Though I know if must be impossible, still I hope that somehow I can use it to realize a better version of life, of myself, than what presently exists ... trying to inhabit an alternative reality.

Here's a trailer for season 2 ...



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Links

- Proud of my state's governor: Jerry Brown Blasts Donald Trump’s Proposed Attack On Climate Science: ‘We’re Ready To Fight’

- Study: Abortion Doesn’t Harm Women’s Mental Health, but Denying One Does

- Yes, there are lots of good gay priests, Thomas Reese SJ

- :) I rode on this Dentzel Carousel at the SF Zoo when I was a little kid ...


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

For the Love of Spock



This week's movie rental was For the Love of Spock ...

a 2016 American documentary film produced by 455 Films and directed by Adam Nimoy.The film looks at the life and career of actor Leonard Nimoy, and his iconic character Mr. Spock. It includes interviews with cast, crew and people connected with Star Trek, fans at conventions, as well as personal memories .... [and] with interviews of William Shatner, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Jim Parsons, Jason Alexander, Neil deGrasse Tyson and J.J. Abrams .... For the Love of Spock received positive reviews from critics. The film currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 74% on Metacritic.

I liked the movie very much, being a big fan of Spock and of Star Trek. Here's an article about the film: 'For the Love of Spock': Tribeca Review. And here's the trailer ...



Once more unto the May/December breach

There Are Many Good Reasons to Feel Weird About Mick Jagger Having Another Baby

Aging men have long attempted to ward off the supposed decline of their manliness by dating younger women. Having a younger, tauter, and glossier-haired mate may not actually make them younger, but it’s enough to convince some men that they are immune to the many undesirable side effects of growing older. Others, however, need more. Not content with merely partnering up with someone a half, or a third, their age, these guys go the extra distance and have children with them.

Mick Jagger is the latest in a long list of rich and famous men who have children with much younger women. On December 8, the 73-year-old great-grandfather and his 30-year-old girlfriend, Melanie Hamrick, welcomed a baby boy—Jagger’s eighth. According to sources, Jagger has promised to “provide full support for Hamrick and the baby without formalizing their relationship, with the couple intending to live apart.” (One explanation for this arrangement can be found in the Daily Mail, who claim that Jagger has already moved on from Hamrick with Masha Rudenko, a 27-year-old model.)

This news has been met with a predictable mix of excitement, and even praise for “fertility god”Jagger, along with some necessary critique. The Independent’s Charlotte Gill notes: “The rise of older fathers is the perfect example of behavioural economics in action; rarely do these chaps consider the long-term consequences of having a baby in old age. What impact it will have on their life, their partners, and their offspring.” And the Telegraph’s Judith Woods points out “there is something reckless, if not feckless about fathering a child he almost certainly won’t see into adulthood.” Lest you think Jagger’s critics were all women embittered by living in a world in which May-December relationships remain a source of social and cultural capital for men, the news was also the subject of a disapproving tweet from British journalist Tony Parsons. “Deeply disturbing that Mick Jagger, 73, has had a baby with Melanie Hamrick, 29. How can this possibly work? She's far too old for him,” he tweeted ......


Remember when you were in high school or college, idealist and hopeful, and you were in love with someone who was more or less your equal and your friend? The kind of thing where women marry men as old as their fathers and grandfathers seems to be the antithesis of that to me. Maybe it's the creepy memory of my 60-ish uncle with his teen girlfriend or the creepy memory of the older docs at the hospital where I worked coming on to 20s me, but I just don't get these May/December relationships - they seem more about barter than love.

Monday, December 12, 2016

More on flipping the election


- The Putin-Trump kiss being shared around the world

I'm so hoping this latest info on Russian hacking will somehow flip the election and allow someone, anyone, hopefully Hillary, to be president instead of Trump. My great aunt Alberta, uber-Republican and member of the John Birch Society, must be spinning in her grave at the thought of a Republican presidential choice who's kissing up to Russia.

- Senate and House Leaders Call for Inquiry of Russian Hacking in Election

- Electors Call for Intelligence Briefing on Russian Hacking Allegations

- Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, on Russian hacking of the election and Trump ...



Thursday, December 08, 2016

RIP: Greg Lake and John Glenn

- Greg Lake —founding member of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer — dies at 69

II like this ELM song best ....



- John Glenn, American Hero of the Space Age, Dies at 95

One of my favorite glimpses of John Glenn was when he was on an episode of the tv series Frasier as himself. Roz, Frasier's friend and producer of his radio show, had the chance to do a show of her own on the space race and she asked John Glenn to do a spot for it. Frasier went behind her back and asked Glenn to use some of his own ideas for it, ideas she had nixed from Frasier earlier as being no good. Glenn ended up recounting experiences for the spot that no one could have predicted :) ...




Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Pope Francis disappoints again

As I've often posted here before, Pope Francis is not a liberal but a conservative. Recently, he told the press that women would *never* be allowed to be priests in the church. Now he has reaffirmed the Vatican's ban on male priests being gay.

The Pope Just Approved A Very Troubling Document On Gays And Priesthood

The Vatican has reaffirmed its position that gay men are barred from entering Catholic seminaries.

In a document entitled “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” published online Wednesday, the church outlined a wide range of guidelines for priestly formation. One section addressed “persons with homosexual tendencies,” who it said cannot be admitted to seminaries or to the priesthood.

“The Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture,’” the document stated.

The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy drafted the 90-page document, which reinforces a position first iterated by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2005. Pope Francis approved the document, dated Dec. 8, 2016, and ordered its publication, according to a conclusion signed by Cardinal Beniamino Stella .......


And ... The Vatican reaffirms its position suggesting gay men should not be priests

[...] This document was the latest event in what many see as a pattern in Francis’s papacy. The pope’s words, often in extemporaneous remarks, lead liberals to hope that church policies will change. Then the Vatican reaffirms its traditional positions. In recent months, after Francis excited feminist hopes by creating a committee to study women serving as deacons, he said women probably will never be priests. He wrote a major document on family issues that suggested people who have divorced and remarried outside the church might be able to receive communion, but has refused to clarify when clergy have asked whether they should indeed interpret that document as a change in the church’s stance on who can take communion ....

The pope has always been a social conservative who has opposed marriage for LGBT people and equality for women. Moderates in the church are thrilled with him, but the few liberals left in the church, like me, have been mostly disappointed. This recent document is an example of why.

Those less fortunate

Another twitter account I sometimes visit is that of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker). This from him today ...

Monday, December 05, 2016

Last Tango in Paris

In the news: Bertolucci Admits He Conspired to Shoot a Non-Consensual Rape Scene in 'Last Tango in Paris'

It's known as one of the most infamous rape scenes in Hollywood history—but Last Tango in Paris director Bernardo Bertolucci admitted in a recently surfaced video that star Maria Schneider never consented to it.

Instead, Bertolucci confessed in the 2013 clip that he and Marlon Brando came up with the idea to shoot the assault scene in which Brando's character uses a stick of butter to rape Schneider on screen. At the time, Brando was 48. Schneider was just 19.

"The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting," Bertulocci said in an event held at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris in 2013. He added that he felt horrible "in a way" for his treatment of Schneider but defended himself, explaining that he "wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress."

"I wanted her to react humiliated," he said. "I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn't tell her." Even so, Bertolucci clarified that he didn't "regret" how he decided to direct the scene.

"To obtain something I think you have to be completely free," he said. "I didn't want Maria to act her humiliation her rage, I wanted her to Maria to feel...the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for all of her life." .....


Yuck! I actually saw this film years ago and I found it stupid, boring, and repellent. Reading about the backstory of it now makes me feel even more repelled. The way Bertolucci and Brando treated their fellow co-worker, Schneider, was just another form of rape.

More: Last Tango rape row a 'misunderstanding'

The unexamined life ...

... is not worth living:

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Why did Hillary lose?

In the news: Yes, you can blame millennials for Hillary Clinton’s loss.

I could kind of see this coming - the millennial meme that they could not in conscience vote for "the lesser of two evils" (Hillary). Bill Maher spoke of this (WATCH: Bill Maher: Millennials can’t tell Trump, Clinton apart, but have 100 kinds of dance music ) as a case of false equivalency ....



Now, every day as we approach the Trumpacolypse seems to bear new gifts. One of those gifts is Jeff Sessions: Jeff Sessions Didn’t Like How The Supreme Court Spared ‘Retarded’ People From Execution.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Hugh Jackman: singer

Thinking of Hugh Jackman today as I re-watch all the X-Men movies in order. I'm not sure if everyone knows it, but before he became Wolverine, he was often singing for his supper. In 1998 he had the leading role of Curly in the Royal National Theatre's production of Oklahoma!. Here he is singing Oh What a Beautiful Morning :) ...



Losing faith in God and human nature

Still struggling with whether a God who cares about us as individuals does exist. One recent thing that's been making it even harder to believe is the way people have been acting. I have always taken for granted that people were basically good, but experience has been teaching me something different.

Since Trump has won the election, all the awful people are feeling embolden to be their worst selves ... Report: Trump's Election Led To A Surge In Hate Crime [Infographic]. And I see the worst side of people here where I live as well. Barely a day goes by that someone doesn't commit some petty mean act ... today it was someone taking stuff from my recycle trash can and trowing it under the trees for me to clean up.

It's becoming so hard to convince myself there's a God who cares about us but does nothing, too hard to believe that there's objective good in the world when so many people are effing jerks.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Throwback Thursday: overexposed

Me, long long ago in a galaxy far away ...

Trumpacolypse

- Tom Price: 'Not One' Woman Struggled to Afford Birth Control ... In 2012, the newly appointed HHS secretary claimed the ACA’s contraceptive mandate trampled on religious liberties and helped literally no women.

- A Trump Pick, and Why Indiana’s Strict Medicaid Rules Could Spread

- Trump's Billionaire Education Secretary Has Been Trying to Gut Public Schools for Years ... Betsy DeVos, the anti-union, pro-voucher surprise nominee.

- Texas will now require funeral services whenever a woman has an abortion ... Even when “the embryo is so small as to be invisible,” as David Brown, a staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, explained over the phone, the doctor or health care provider will still have to treat it like a dead person and hold some kind of burial or cremation for it. “We see the rule as one more attempt by Texas politicians to pile on the burdens on women seeking medical care for miscarriage or abortion,” Brown added.

There's more, but I'm too depressed to go on for now.