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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cold Equations

The latest book I'm reading is Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: The Persistence of Memory: Book One by David Mack. The story is about the deceased android Data's "brother" B-4. Here, from the movie Nemesis, Captain Picard tries to explain to B-4, a much less advanced android than Data, about his brother's death. The captain is sad because it seems that the switching of Data's memories to B-4 has been ineffective, but then B-4 begins to sing a song Data had sung earlier in the movie, and the captain becomes hopeful ...

The book is also about the scientist who created all the Data-familial androids, the man Data thought of as his father, Noonien Soong. Here is a clip which shows a dream/vision Data had about Dr. Soong - it's reminiscent of Merlin and Wart in The Once and Future King :) ...

So far I like the book and I'm looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

Take the Vatican survey

If you're in the US and haven't yet completed the Vatican's Synod on the Family Survey, there's still a chance to do so. There's a post at dotCommonweal with a link to an online version of the survey posted by the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia. The survey is here and it must be completed by December 15.

Cardinal Dolan, James Martin SJ, and the facts

Dolan Says Church Is ‘Caricatured’ as Antigay

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said on Friday that the Roman Catholic Church was being “caricatured as being anti-gay,” even as he lamented the continued expansion of same-sex marriage in the United States and vowed to keep fighting it .... Dolan said the church had been “out-marketed” on the issue of same-sex marriage by Hollywood and by some politicians who have tried to paint the church in a negative light. “We’re pro-marriage, we’re pro-traditional marriage, we’re not anti-anybody,” he said.

Who can he possibly think he's fooling??? As Bryan Cones writes at US Catholic ...

"Out-marketed by Hollywood" is Cardinal Timothy Dolan's diagnosis for why the U.S. bishops have failed to sway hearts and minds on the issue of same-sex marriage, as Hawaii and Illinois become the next states to legalize same-gender nuptials. Who knew "Hollywood" could out-muscle a 70-million member church with equally deep pockets?

"Blame Hollywood" is a tried-and-true tactic for losses on the culture war front, but I think the truth on this one is the personal experience of many Americans, Catholics included, of the same-gender relationships in their own family and social circles. And while Dolan may decry the "anti-gay" label that has been applied by many to the Catholic Church, he may want to check in with his brother bishop in Illinois, who responded to same-gender marriage in Illinois with a firebreathing exorcism, blessedly "performed" mostly in Latin. I think most observers would see that as "anti-gay." .....

No amount of spin by Dolan can change the facts - one need only consult the church's comments, documents, and actions to see where it stands on this issue. In a 2009 article at America magazine, Fr. James Martin SJ reviewed some the many ways in which the church has spoken and acted towards gays and lesbians ....

What Should a Gay Catholic Do?

[...] If you are gay, you cannot:

1.) Enjoy romantic love. At least not the kind of fulfilling love that most people, from their earliest adolescence, anticipate, dream about, hope for, plan about, talk about and pray for. In other cases, celibacy (that is, a lifelong abstinence from sex) is seen as a gift, a calling or a charism in a person's life. Thus, it is not to be enjoined on a person. ("Celibacy is not a matter of compulsion," said then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.) Yet it is enjoined on you. ("Homosexual person are called to chastity," says the Catechism, meaning complete abstinence.) In any event, you cannot enjoy any sort of romantic, physical or sexual relationship.

2.) Marry. The church has been clear, especially of late, in its opposition to same-sex unions. Of course, you can not marry within the church. Nor can you enter into any sort of civil, same-sex unions of any kind. (Such unions are "pseudo-matrimonies," said the Holy Father, that stem from "expressions of an anarchic freedom") They are beyond the pale. This should be clear to any Catholic. One bishop compared the possibility of gays marrying one another to people marrying animals.

3.) Adopt a child. Despite the church's warm approval of adoption, you cannot adopt a needy child. You would do "violence," according to church teaching, to a child if you were to adopt.

4.) Enter a seminary. If you accept the church's teaching on celibacy for gays, and feel a call to enter a seminary or religious order, you cannot--even if you desire the celibate life. The church explicitly forbids men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from entering the priesthood. Nor can you hide your sexuality if you wish to enter a seminary.

5.) Work for the church and be open. If you work for the church in any sort of official capacity it is close to impossible to be open about who your identity as a gay man or a lesbian. A gay layman I know who serves an important role in a diocese (and even writes some of his bishop's statements on social justice) has a solid theological education and desires to serve the church, but finds it impossible to be open in the face of the bishop's repeated disparaging remarks about gays. Some laypeople have been fired, or dismissed, for being open. Like this altar server, who lives a chaste life. Or this woman, who worked at a Catholic high school. Or this choir director.

At the same time, if you are a devout Catholic who is attentive both to church teachings and the public pronouncements of church leaders, you will be reminded that you are "objectively disordered," and your sexuality is "a deviation, an irregularity a wound." ....

One might argue that Pope Francis has changed the church's anti-gay stance with his observation "Who am I to judge?" but as the NYT's article cited above notes ...

[Francis] cautioned against succumbing to moral relativism, and on Tuesday endorsed a document written by the bishops of the United States that insists that those with a “homosexual inclination” be held to “objective moral norms,” even if this is perceived as prejudiced.

Friday, November 29, 2013


- Yesterday I had a whipped cream and almond cannoli for the first time ever ... yum :)

- Advent retreat at pray-as-you-go

- At Thinking Faith, An Advent Pilgrimage from Paul Nicholson SJ

- From Eureka Street: No copping out of abuse blame

- At The Pew Forum, No clear ‘Pope Francis effect’ among U.S. Catholics

- And from US Catholic ... The new literary mashup: Amish romance and vampire tales

Evangelii Gaudium and the Pilling report

Reading Andrew Brown's post, The Pilling report: a blessing for gay people but not for conservatives ...

[...] The report itself does nothing more than formalise three things that everyone who cares already knows: that there is nothing to stop determined vicars from blessing gay partnerships – the earliest English liturgy for this was published in 1993, I believe – that conservative evangelicals would rather leave the church of England than accept this, and that the question can no longer be ignored in the hope that it will go away .....

The argument that doing the right thing would be a betrayal of all those Christians who did the wrong thing in the past was one that led the Roman Catholic church into its catastrophic restatement of the ban on contraception. The Church of England can be very silly sometimes, but surely not quite as silly as that.

The fact that the Church of England is now dealing with important issues, however lamely, that the Catholic Church won't, made me think of the recent Exhortation from Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium.

As this post mentions, there are a number of issues addressed in the pope's Exhortation - the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus, of a fair economy, of collegiality, of reform, of inter-religious dialogue - but a majority of Catholic lay people and clergy have been advocating for these things for years ... what's new and exciting is not the idea of these issues, but that a pope has finally recognized their importance. And the church's stance on many of the issues that have been so divisive as to drive people away from the church ... same-sex marriage, women's ordination, clergy sex abuse and its cover-up, mandatory celibacy , women's reproductive concerns, divorce .... are either unaddressed or justified in Evangelii Gaudium.

I understand the relief and joy many feel about having a pope who finally comes close to manifesting our hopes in the areas of spirituality, economic justice, ecumenism, and horizontal governing. But those of us with particular interests .... women, LGBT folks, sex abuse victims, to name a few ... are still waiting for a pope who will care enough about us to make a difference for us in the church. I want a church where no one is left behind and I don't think it's just to settle for less.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

So nice out

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

The Pumpkin - John Greenleaf Whittier

Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

Data, Spot, and Worf

Finally finished Star Trek: Destiny by David Mack and there was a part that touched me about Data and his cat Spot. The bit in the book takes place after Mr. Data has died. Worf says ...

"I too often wish that Data were still alive. Usually in the morning when Spot wishes to be fed."

La Forge chuckled, recalling Worf's pained expression when he'd learned that Data's last will and testament had named the Klingon as the guardian of his pet. "How's the cat doing?"

"Spot is well -- and his claws are sharp," Worf said with a prideful gleam. Then he softened his expression and clasped La Forge's shoulder in a friendly grip. "Data is gone. and it is not wrong for us to mourn him. But we must not cling too tightly to the past. We are still alive, Geordi, and we have each other. Perhaps that will be enough."

Why did Data leave Spot to Worf in his will? Perhaps because Worf once agreed to look after Spot for Data :) ..

PS - it was no coincidence that I named two of my cats Data and Spot ...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sigh :(

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation - Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). I haven't read it all but this part made me quite sad ...

104. Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded. The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general. It must be remembered that when we speak of sacramental power “we are in the realm of function, not that of dignity or holiness”.[73] The ministerial priesthood is one means employed by Jesus for the service of his people, yet our great dignity derives from baptism, which is accessible to all. The configuration of the priest to Christ the head – namely, as the principal source of grace – does not imply an exaltation which would set him above others. In the Church, functions “do not favour the superiority of some vis-à-vis the others”.[74] Indeed, a woman, Mary, is more important than the bishops. Even when the function of ministerial priesthood is considered “hierarchical”, it must be remembered that “it is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members”.[75] Its key and axis is not power understood as domination, but the power to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist; this is the origin of its authority, which is always a service to God’s people. This presents a great challenge for pastors and theologians, who are in a position to recognize more fully what this entails with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life.

When Francis says that other positions of decision-making and power aside from the priesthood will be found in the church for women, he misses the point completely. Women being priests is not about decision-making or about power, it is about accepting that there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. The church's bid to evangelize non-Catholics is put into sad perspective by the fact that it will not share the reality of the good news with half of its own members.

Tee hee :)

I'm still watching DVDs of Deep Space Nine and last night's episode, Trials and Tribble-ations, had the crew of the space station accidentally sent back in time and place to the events of The Trouble with Tribbles ...

In this episode, Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) and the crew travel back in time to prevent the assassination of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) of the USS Enterprise by a Klingon using a booby-trapped tribble.

The cast of DS9 was dressed and coiffed to look like the cast of the original show. Here are O'Brien and Bashir with a tribble ...

It was neat how seamlessly‎ the characters of DS9 were inserted into the footage of the original episode. Here O'Brien and Bashir are inserted into this group of men Kirk is castigating ...

And at the end of the episode, Sisko was able to meet Kirk :) ...

Some of the funniest parts had to do with Worf, a Klingon character from DS9 - he was asked to explain why the Klingons of Kirk's era looked exactly like humans, and also to comment on the Klingon antipathy for soft furry cute harmless little tribbles ...

Worf: "They were once considered mortal enemies of the Klingon Empire. They were an ecological menace, a plague to be wiped out. Hundreds of warriors were sent to track them down throughout the galaxy. An armada obliterated the tribble homeworld. By the end of the 23rd century they had been eradicated."

You can actually watch the episode here where someone has posted it as a faux movie. It's a little fuzzy, but still ...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Catacombs of Priscilla

As I read the church's dismissive disclaimers ("This is a fairy tale, a legend") of the possibility that the recently renovated Catacombs of Priscilla show a fresco of a woman presiding as a priest, I was reminded of Planet of the Apes and the scene in which Charlton Heston comes upon the semi-buried statue of liberty, proving that humans had not always been a subjugated lower animal on that planet ;) I'm not saying the fresco *does* show that women were once priests - that's for the experts to decide - but the Vatican, with its boatload of ulterior motives on this issue, is the last place I'd turn for an unbiased opinion.


This week's old movie from the public library was Serpico ...

a 1973 American crime film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Al Pacino. Waldo Salt and Norman Wexler wrote the screenplay, adapting Peter Maas' biography of NYPD officer Frank Serpico (born 1936), who went undercover to expose corruption in the force. Both Maas's book and the film cover 12 years—1960 to June 15, 1972—in the life of Serpico, who was trying to be an honest policeman. The film and principals were nominated for numerous awards, earning recognition for its score, direction, screenplay and Pacino's performance. The film was also a commercial success .... Pacino won his first Golden Globe award for Best Actor in 1974 for his performance in the film.

You can read The New York Times review here.

The movie (rated R) was good but very sad/disturbing. As I watched, I couldn't help thinking of the parallels between the corruption and cover-up in the NYPD and the sex abuse problem and cover-up in the church, but on to the movie. When Serpico began his career as a cop ...

he was idealistic and sweet. Here he buys one of his many pets, asking the puppies, "Which one of you guys wants to come with me?" :) ...

But it's not long before he discovers that his fellow cops are taking bribes. He refuses to do so and thus alienates them ...

He moves from precinct to precinct, looking for somewhere he can just do his job without being part of the corruption but there doesn't seem to be any such place, and eventually he tries to tell his bosses what's going on. They assure him they'll take care of the problem but they never do. Finally he makes the anguished decision to 'go outside the department' and tells someone in the mayor's office about what's going on. The mayor declines to move on the info, not wanting to antagonize the police department. ...

At that point the police department learns what's he's done and they tell him, "We wash our own dirty laundry." They say they'll investigate the problem themselves. His personal life meanwhile falls apart from the stress ...

Eventually he considers testifying in a grand jury investigation and everyone in the department is alerted to his betrayal. He becomes a pariah and is warned that his life will be in danger - "Nobody has to take a shot at you, they can just not be there when you need them" ...

And that's just what happens ...

Serpico called for help, but his fellow officers ignored him. Serpico was then shot in the face ... His police colleagues refused to make a "10-13", a dispatch to police headquarters indicating that an officer has been shot. An elderly man who lived in the next apartment called the emergency services and reported that a man had been shot. The stranger stayed with Serpico.[7] A police car arrived. Unaware that Serpico was one of them, the officers took him to Greenpoint Hospital. The bullet had severed an auditory nerve, leaving him deaf in one ear, and he has suffered chronic pain from bullet fragments lodged in his brain .... He survived and testified before the Knapp Commission .... Serpico was the first police officer in the history of the New York City Police Department to step forward to report and subsequently testify openly about widespread, systemic corruption payoffs amounting to millions of dollars.

Frank Serpico retired on June 15, 1972, one month after receiving the New York City Police Department's highest honor, the Medal of Honor. There was no ceremony; according to Serpico, it was simply handed to him over the desk "like a pack of cigarettes". He went to Switzerland to recuperate and spent almost a decade living there and on a farm in the Netherlands, as well as traveling and studying. When it was decided to make the movie about his life called Serpico, Al Pacino invited Serpico to stay with him at a house that Pacino had rented in Montauk, NY. When Pacino asked why he had stepped forward, Serpico replied, "Well, Al, I don't know. I guess I would have to say it would be because... if I didn't, who would I be when I listened to a piece of music?" Serpico credited his grandfather, who was stabbed and robbed, and his uncle, who was a respected policeman in Italy, with his sense of justice.

- Wikipedia

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christ the King

From a past post by Philip Endean SJ at Pray Tell - Christ the King 2011: an Englishman preaches in Bunker Hill ...

[...] If we celebrate this feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King here in the US, we need to recognise that so much of what is valuable and precious in this country arises from a rejection of the idea of kingship, a recognition that the political power of this world can often be dysfunctional and abusive, that human freedom and dignity need to be safeguarded. These United States are founded on a belief that all are created equal. Most US citizens are descended from immigrants who came to this country because the monarchies of Europe could not provide them with a decent living. The Pilgrim Fathers stand as a symbol for millions who came to this land, found here the blessings of prosperity and liberty .....

When the gospels speak of Christ as King—which they don’t very often—they are always concerned to bring out that his kingship is not like that of the great ones of this world who lord it over others. He is not a King before whom we bow and scrape and curtsey. This king is hidden from us; we don’t recognise him. He is in the poor, those in need, the naked, the sick, those in prison ....

The Gospel is anything but an endorsement of the established political order, anything but a simple affirmation of power as we experience it. The Gospel is about liberation. The title of Christ the King only makes sense if we see it in the context of this world’s powers and authorities being transformed, of a promise that all of us will be given a royal dignity, all of us will be given the exclusive privileges of a first-born son and heir ..... the language of kingship is being used in a quite distinctive, strange, quirky way. This kingship takes the form of Christ’s identifying himself with the poorest among us. The world of the court is evoked, certainly, but only so that it can be subverted ...

Luke 23:35-43

I like the gospel reading for today - Jesus tells the man on the cross next to him, Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise. What I like to believe this means is that there is no purgatory and no (harrowing of) hell. Usually when I mention this in discussions, people call me a scriptural literalist, but that's not really true - I pick and choose the bits I want to take literally and and those I don't. That sounds bad, I guess, but we're all opportunistic scriptural literalists about the NT ... the Catholic Church, for instance, is especially fond of the bits where Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, where he tells the disciples they can bind and loose, where he says the bread is his body. I wonder what the choice of bits we decide to take literally and not to take literally says about us.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Vietnam, Kennedy, and Catholicism

- Hạ Long Bay

As Jfk was a Catholic, there are many nostalgic articles on him by the Catholic press, given the 50th anniversary of his death (see dotCommonweal, America magazine, The Jesuit Post, etc.). I guess when I think of Kennedy, I tend to think of negatives: of his personal life, of his reactions to communism in Latin American and in Vietnam. Of course he did a lot of good too, but me being who I am, seeing all the Catholic Kennedy accolades just makes me want to go the other direction ;)

I often see articles in the Catholic press about Vietnam (example) and something I hadn't known of before and came upon when reading about JFK and Vietnam put some of this stuff into perspective for me: Ngo Dinh Diem, the first president of South Vietnam (1955–1963), was Catholic, like Kennedy, and ...

As a member of the Catholic minority [70-90% of the populace was Buddhist], he pursued policies which antagonized and disenfranchised the Buddhist majority. The government was biased towards Catholics in public service and military promotions, and the allocation of land, business favors and tax concessions. .... The distribution of firearms to village self-defense militias intended to repel Việt Cộng guerrillas saw weapons only given to Catholics. Some Catholic priests ran their own private armies, and in some areas forced conversions occurred. Some villages converted en masse in order to receive aid or avoid being forcibly resettled by Diệm's regime. The Catholic Church was the largest landowner in the country, and its holdings were exempt from reform and given extra property acquisition rights, while restrictions against Buddhism remained in force. Catholics were also de facto exempt from the corvée labor that the government obliged all citizens to perform; U.S. aid was disproportionately distributed to Catholic majority villages. In 1959, Diem dedicated his country to the Virgin Mary .... this led to a mass campaign against Diệm's government during the Buddhist crisis, and Diệm was deposed and assassinated on 2 November 1963.

You can read more about this (and get the footnotes/references) in Wikipedia's article.

Friday, November 22, 2013


- CS Lewis memorial: A stone for a lover, not for a poet

- theologians comment on church sexual teachings (h/t William) ... Theologians call church sexual teachings 'incomprehensible,' ask for lay input

- Thirty-seven percent of male clergy of various faith traditions report Internet pornography as "being a current struggle," and 57 percent of that group report compulsive Internet pornography use ... yikes!

- Top 10 irreplaceable nature reserves on Earth - in pictures

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What I saw today

- Cardinal Seán O’Malley opines that the reason people aren't having Catholic weddings is because of student loan debt. I'd suggest a different reason: the cost of a Catholic wedding ... a wedding at his cathedral, for instance, costs $2000!

- He Who Is - America magazine on Doctor Who turning 50

- “Pope Francis has got it – he’s stopped judging people and started loving them, and Catholic church attendance is rising. Stop being weird and vote yes.” for women bishops in the Church of England

- On the History Channel, Bible Secrets Revealed - the show features interviews with a number of bible scholars, including Mark Goodacre and you can watch the first episode online. Read Mark's most recent post about it - Bible Secrets Revealed on History Channel, Wednesday. Here's an intro ...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doctor Who and ...

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (TV series).

It's the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who and there's to be a special, The Day of the Doctor, to celebrate it. Don't know if I'll watch. The only episodes I've seen were ones with the fourth Doctor ...

When I think of Doctor Who, I also think of the BBC tv version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Here's the first episode ....

Usually I like science fiction to be seriously grim but sometimes silly can be good too :)

Help the animal victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan: Animals urgently need your help. Visit the blog of WSPA to see photos and stories of what's happening in the Philippines.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pacific Rim

This weeks' movie rental was Pacific Rim ....

Pacific Rim is a 2013 American science fiction monster film directed by Guillermo del Toro, written by del Toro and Travis Beacham, and starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini, and Ron Perlman. The film is set in the 2020s, when Earth is at war with the Kaijus, colossal monsters which have emerged from an interdimensional portal on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. To combat the monsters, humanity unites to create the Jaegers: gigantic humanoid mecha, each controlled by two pilots whose minds are joined by a neural bridge. Focusing on the war's later days, the story follows Raleigh Becket, a washed-up Jaeger pilot called out of retirement and teamed with rookie pilot Mako Mori as part of a last-ditch effort to defeat the Kaijus.

The movie is pretty fun but there's not enough time for much character development or detail, so you might want to read the book - I got it from the library and it made watching the movie more enjoyable.

Wired liked the film: Pacific Rim Is Literally the Most Awesome Movie of the Summer .... TIME magazine, not so much: Pacific Rim: Transformers Transcended. Here's Richard Roper's review ...

Kermit and Star Trek: Destiny

Fletcher's faint whisper, like like a breath across dried leaves, commanded Hernandez's attention. "Don't fight it, Erika. let me go ... I beg you." Hernandez's thoughts were trapped in a storm of chaotic emotions -- remorse and denial, rage and guilt. She picked up Fletcher's hand again and held it more tightly than before. Her sorrow was a tourniquet around her throat, and her voice quavered as she choked out the words, "I don't want you to go."

I'm still reading Star Trek: Destiny and have come to the place where one of two women, the only humans left in the company of aliens, is dying. When she's gone, the other is all alone in the home they had shared. This reminded me that five years ago yesterday, my cat Kermit died. I miss you, Kermit.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Talk to God and listen to the casual reply"

- abalone shell

I'm thinking about camping. When I was a kid we often went camping on family vacations - I particularly remember one time camping at Yellowstone where we saw the Grand Prismatic Spring ...

and another time in Big Basin Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz ...

As a teen I often camped with friends, one time near Mendocino, where we saw wild pigs and found abalone shells ....

Also camped at Sequoia National Park, where we visited the Crystal Cave ;) ...

and went horseback riding at Yosemite ...

Having said all this, I have to admit that I don't really like camping, though I do love the places where I've camped ... if only there weren't any bugs! ;) What made me think of all this was coming across a song last night when trawling music videos ...

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Always be willing to fight for what you believe in."

- Sheridan watches the sunrise one last time

Just saw the last episode of Babylon 5 and it was very emotional. The show skipped twenty years into the future to the day John Sheridan had been prophesied to die. In the second-to-last episode, when he finds out he's going to be a father and realizes that he won't be alive on his son's twenty-first birthday, he gets up in the middle of the night to record an audio message for him, one that contains some really good advice ....

The blue jay ...

gets a peanut from the feeder ...

and looks for a place to hide it ...

Check out The Tablet

For a brief time, all The Tablet features are free to read online in celebration of their revamped website. There's much to peruse: news, their blog, columns, and articles, etc. One news item that got my attention was about the so-far results of the UK online version of the Vatican survey ... Vatican poll published by England and Wales bishops has garnered 15,000 responses - and the related article, Endangered species...

[...] Overall then, British Catholics have moved further from a Vatican-approved model of a faithful Catholic with every generation. This does not mean that most have become secular, atheistic, or even non-Catholic – it means that they have become Catholic in a different way. They are much less likely to go to church every week and to think of themselves as “religious”. They are likely to support the Church’s social teachings, but are increasingly unlikely to support its natural-law-based teachings about sex, gender and the traditional family. Far from endorsing their Church’s highly critical remarks about mainstream “secular” culture, they actively embrace some aspects of its ethical progress, including its widening commitment to principles of human liberty and equality – albeit tempered by considerations of the common good ...

'A man is known by the company he keeps'

- Euripides

This week's movie rental was one recommended by my sister - The Company You Keep ...

a 2012 political action thriller produced and directed by, and starring, Robert Redford. The script was written by Lem Dobbs based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Neil Gordon ... The story centers on recent widower and single father, Jim Grant [Redford], a former Weather Underground anti-Vietnam War militant wanted for a bank robbery and murder. Grant has hidden from the FBI for over 30 years, as an attorney in Albany, New York. He becomes a fugitive when his true identity is exposed by Ben Shepard [Shia LaBeouf], an aggressive young reporter.

Also in the cast: Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Cooper. Here's a bit from a review of the film in TIME ...

[...] The Company You Keep, which has its world premiere tonight at the Venice Film festival before it plays on Sunday at the Toronto fest, is Redford’s ninth film as a director and one of his knottiest and most involving. With a welcome mixture of juice and grit, the movie dramatizes the lingering conundrums of young people in the time of the Vietnam morass. Many went to war, others to Canada, some into the relative safety of the National Guard or graduate school. A few, infuriated by the Kent State slaughter and exasperated by the limits of nonviolent resistance, took up arms against what they saw as the atrocities of the Johnson and Nixon administrations. When the Feds came after them, they went into hiding, fugitives in their own country, for years or forever. As Sloan says, “I’ve been Jim Grant longer than I’ve been me.” ........

The aging remnants of the Weather Underground are played by Redford, Christie, Sarandon, Sam Elliott, Richard Jenkins and Nick Nolte, and they bring the movement a wintry luster. These six actors, whose median age is 70, have been in movies for an average of 42 years — since the glory, gory days of the antiwar militants — which makes this film The Expendables of non-action pictures, and a paean to glamour in the twilight years. Redford and Christie, whose movie careers began exactly a half-century ago, still exude the glow of independent icons; their confrontation toward the end of the film is a kind of summit meeting of liberal celebrity. If, as Euripedes wrote, a man is known by the company he keeps, the ancient real-life radicals are in glittering company ....

Here's a trailer ...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fr. Dermot Preston SJ ...

the British Provincial gives a Faith Matters talk, 'Through a Google Glass Darkly – Finding God in the Digital Age' ... It's about Ignatius and Ignatian spirituality: Prayer is a personal relationship with God. ...

Theological Aesthetics ...

from St. John's College, Nottingham. Part 1 ...

And part 2, which sadly is quite truncated due to an add ...


- more from US Catholic's series on people's prayer styles - More Catholics share how they pray (the first post is here). I didn't realize so many people practiced devotional prayers like adoration, the rosary, and my unfavorite, the novena, which seems a kind of magical gumball machine prayer ;)

- beautiful photos of Siamese Fighting Fish

- I can't help thinking of celebrity deathmatch as I watch the unfolding dust-up between Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith, Gerhard Müller, and Archbishop of Munich, Reinhard Marx ... it's all about the Catholic view of marriage/divorce, Communion, and God's character. The latest from Müller: Müller dismisses diocese of Freiburg’s proposal on remarried Catholics. The latest from Marx: “Müller cannot stop discussions” relating to remarried divorcees. I hope Marx wins the argument.

- Bad Blood, the article written by the British journalist Will Storr about the 2006 Po-210 killing of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London. Interesting - I've seen a number of references to the death in spy novels.

- The Mysterious Tool-Making Culture Shared by Crows and Humans ...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Star Trek: Destiny

My latest book on kindle is a trilogy - Star Trek: Destiny: The Complete Saga: Gods of Night, Mere Mortals, and Lost Souls by David Mack. I haven't read a Star Trek novel since I was in college, I think, and I picked this one out of desperation when I couldn't find anything to read, but I've been really pleasantly surprised at how good it is. Here's the blurb from the Amazon page ...

Half a decade after the Dominion War and more than a year after the rise and fall of Praetor Shinzon, the galaxy’s greatest scourge, the Borg, returns to wreak havoc upon the Federation—and this time, its goal is nothing less than total annihilation.

Elsewhere, deep in the Gamma Quadrant, an ancient mystery is solved. One of Earth’s first generation of starships, lost for centuries, has been found dead and empty on a desolate planet. But its discovery so far from home has raised disturbing questions, and the answers harken back to a struggle for survival that once tested a captain and her crew to the limits of their humanity.

From that terrifying flashpoint begins an apocalyptic odyssey that will reach across time and space to reveal the past, define the future, and show three captains that some destinies are inescapable. For Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise, defending the future has never been so important, or so personal—and the wrong choice will cost him everything for which he has struggled and suffered. For Captain William Riker of the U.S.S. Titan, that choice has already been made—haunted by the memories of those he was forced to leave behind, he must jeopardize all that he has left in a desperate bid to save the Federation. And for Captain Ezri Dax of the U.S.S. Aventine, whose impetuous youth is balanced by the wisdom of many lifetimes, the choice is a simple one: there is no going back—only forward to whatever future awaits them. . . .

It does help, of course, to have watched the three Star Trek series The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, but I think the book would be considered good science fiction beyond the Trek-interest ... there are aliens who have claytronic atoms! :) You can read an excerpt here.

If at first you don't succeed

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

The only armed forces veteran I've known has been my grandfather, who was a colonel in the army. Miss you, grandpa.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

hee :)

The final season of Babylon 5 has a reworked theme song. I really like it and back when it was on tv I would sing along with the theme to my cats, all the worlds being "meow" :) ...

Frankfurt and Rorty on love

Ever since I read the statement made by Archbishop Müller on marriage ... Love is more than a feeling ... I've been wondering where this (to me incorrect) Catholic idea comes from. Today I saw an essay that mentioned its source ... St. Thomas Aquinas defines it [love] as "willing the good of the other" — the simplest definition of love I've ever seen. Agape is an act of the will, not the feelings .... I should have known it would be him (grrr) - this idea that love is an act of will rather than an emotion explains so much about the 'theology of the body' married-sex-as-a-job thingy ;) But anyway, I think Aquinas got Aristotle wrong ... “One cannot be a friend to many people in the sense of having friendship of the perfect type with them, just as one cannot be in love with many people at once (for love is a sort of excess of feeling, and it is the nature of such only to be felt towards one person)” (NE, VIII.6). - Philosophy of Love: An Overview

The Aquinas/Catholic love-as-a-choice view is maybe represented in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy page on love as 3. Love as Robust Concern ...

At the heart of the robust concern view is the idea that love “is neither affective nor cognitive. It is volitional” Frankfurt 1999, p. 129). Frankfurt continues:

*That a person cares about or that he loves something has less to do with how things make him feel, or with his opinions about them, than with the more or less stable motivational structures that shape his preferences and that guide and limit his conduct.*


[But] the robust concern view as it stands does not seem properly able to account for the intuitive “depth” of love and so does not seem properly to distinguish loving from liking. Although, as noted above, the robust concern view can begin to make some sense of the way in which the lover's identity is altered by the beloved, it understands this only an effect of love, and not as a central part of what love consists in.

My own view of love is probably best represented by the section: 5.2 Love as Emotion Complex ...

The emotion complex view, which understands love to be a complex emotional attitude towards another person, may initially seem to hold out great promise to overcome the problems of alternative types of views. By articulating the emotional interconnections between persons, it could offer a satisfying account of the “depth” of love without the ... overly narrow teleological focus of the robust concern view ...

Rorty (1986/1993) does not try to present a complete account of love; rather, she focuses on the idea that “relational psychological attitudes” which, like love, essentially involve emotional and desiderative responses, exhibit historicity: “they arise from, and are shaped by, dynamic interactions between a subject and an object” (p. 73). In part this means that what makes an attitude be one of love is not the presence of a state that we can point to at a particular time within the lover; rather, love is to be “identified by a characteristic narrative history” (p. 75). Moreover, Rorty argues, the historicity of love involves the lover's being permanently transformed by loving who he does ....

This understanding of love as constituted by a history of emotional interdependence enables emotion complex views to say something interesting about the impact love has on the lover's identity. This is partly Rorty's point (1986/1993) in her discussion of the historicity of love (above). Thus, she argues, one important feature of such historicity is that love is “dynamically permeable” in that the lover is continually “changed by loving” such that these changes “tend to ramify through a person's character” (p. 77). Through such dynamic permeability, love transforms the identity of the lover in a way that can sometimes foster the continuity of the love, as each lover continually changes in response to the changes in the other.[14] Indeed, Rorty concludes, love should be understood in terms of “a characteristic narrative history” (p. 75) that results from such dynamic permeability. It should be clear, however, that the mere fact of dynamic permeability need not result in the love's continuing: nothing about the dynamics of a relationship requires that the characteristic narrative history project into the future, and such permeability can therefore lead to the dissolution of the love. Love is therefore risky—indeed, all the more risky because of the way the identity of the lover is defined in part through the love.

Must think - and feel ;) - more about all this.

Saturday, November 09, 2013


My latest DVD from the library - the final season of Babylon 5. A lot has changed since the last season: many characters are gone and there are some new characters too, one of whom is Byron, a rouge telepath (teep) who asks to start a colony of telepaths on the station, as they're despised everywhere else. He has an almost Jesus-like persona in this clip below where he and his fellow telepaths are being accosted ....

This week's movie rental ...

was the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. There wasn't much difference from the theatrical version: a bit more interaction between Aragorn ...

... and Boromir ...

... and some more time spent in Lothlórien ...

I'm not sure if I'll rent the extended versions of parts 2 and 3 or not, but it might be worth it - in this clip from the extended version of The Two Towers we learn Aragorn is 87 years old and Éowyn is a bad cook ;) ...

Friday, November 08, 2013

"Did Christ laugh?"

- The Gospel of John's happy Jesus

There's a post at dotCommonweal about the pope and his clown nose :) - some of the comments register disapproval of the pope's action and it made me wonder why religion is supposed to be so grim. There was a past article at The Tablet, Did Christ laugh? about this ...

[...] Lack of humour in the New Testament led to a famous debate among scholastic theologians: did Christ laugh during his earthly life? This is one of the themes of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. The plot of his medieval detective story centres on the concealment, in a monastic library, of the second book of Aristotle's Poetics, devoted to comedy, by the reactionary monk Jorge de Burgos, who claims that laughter is diabolical and should be banned from the monastery. This is the tradition of the desert Fathers and founders of monasticism, Anthony, Pachomius, Augustine and Benedict, who all condemned laughter as the enemy of the spiritual life. Saint Chrysostom held that we are not on earth to laugh but to weep over our sins and Saint Benedict, in his monastic rule, condemned at all times and everywhere buffoonery and idle talk which provoke laughter ...

But one only has to observe Jesus' behaviour and listen to his parables to be struck by his sense of humour. He shared meals with outcasts and sinners, announced that prostitutes would precede the pious into heaven and his first miracle was to change water into wine. He reversed the accepted hierarchy of values with irony and humour. The early Church's attempt to banish laughter from Christian life was doomed to failure. The mystery plays soon had their farcical interludes and the spirit of carnival vied with the sobriety of church devotions. Thanks to Boccacio, Chaucer and Villon, writers of the medieval fables and especially Rabelais and the great Renaissance authors, Erasmus and More, humour came into its own. Even the monastic rules became more relaxed. Saint Francis of Assisi cautioned his brothers not to appear sad and gloomy, like hypocrites, but joyful in the Lord, gay and friendly as is fitting. Monasteries today are noted for their good humour, and one French abbot is even on record as saying: Without humour, monastic life is impossible ....

Humour is the first step to humility.


The leaves in the yard are still turning colors ...

Oops! I accidentally rousted mr/ms Scruffy ...


- I came across this 1987 America magazine article by William Barry SJ - A Meditation on Death and Life

- Guy Fawkes, science, and religion

- Hey, the Belgian Bishops have put their version of the Vatican survey online also (like the UK Bishops). Will the US Bishops dare to do the same?

- Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, he of the famous video in which he tells off the Vatican, has taken a positive stance on same-sex marriage.

- I'm still thinking about Christopher West and the video lecture in which he compares 'theology of the body' sex to the playing of a concert pianist ... he averred that one can't make 'beautiful music' without prior training. I think he's wrong and it reminded me of an episode of Babylon 5 in which neophyte Vir asks Ivanova's advice about sex. She responds ... All I can say is that enthusiasm, sincerity, genuine compassion, and humor can carry you through any lack of prior experience ... :)

- A post at Thinking Faith ... A Dream About Heaven by Marc Vilarassau SJ

- That last link reminded me of this song ...

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Conservative Catholic sex

Trawling theology videos, I came upon one by Christopher West, a Catholic who gives lectures on JPII's theology of the body. I'd read of him before in an article at America magazine but hadn't ever seen or read him. The talk began with West showing a slide of the statue of the virtue 'virginity' or 'chastity' at St. Peter's, which is of a semi-clad women holding a rose in one hand and a unicorn's horn in the other .....

I stopped watching the talk shortly thereafter - I think the 'theology of the body' is just dopey at best.

But anyway, an ABC interview with West mentions what a big business Catholic Sex Therapy is ... he has sold millions of books, CDs, and runs the "Theology of the Body Institute". Given the church's idea of what marriage should be, I can understand why so many Catholic couples might need therapy ;) but still ....

[W]hen West looks at the Bible now, he sees the ultimate sex guide. The "Joy of Sex" as a path to salvation.

"How do we live our sexuality in a way that points us to ultimate love, and ultimate happiness, and ultimate fulfillment?" he asked.

Of course, there is some fine print. West addresses his teaching only to straight men and women, properly married. No gay sex. No birth control.

Asked why contraception is wrong given that the Bible does not explicitly outlaw condoms, for example, West has a snappy reply.

"Where in the Bible does it say, 'Thou shalt not cut off thy neighbor's head with a chainsaw'? It also says in the Scripture that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. And Christ's love is a life-giving love."

In other words, West believes sex without the possibility of creating new life is a sin, and that using contraception is, if you will, a kind of a sexual bulimia.

"I want the pleasure of the act, but I don't want the consequences of the act, so I am going to vomit out my fertility," is how West describes the mind-set.

But West also believes sex without pleasure would be a sacrilege. In fact, he sees orgasm as a glimmer of salvation ....

What I find creepy about all this is that West uses sex as a kind of carrot - he takes something that's both extremely attractive and morally neutral, and builds a whole religious mythology around it in order to reinforce conservative church teaching on contraception, divorce, same-sex attraction, and gender roles.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

More on prayer

A lecture on prayer from Fr. Robin Gibbons, who teaches theology and religious studies at Oxford ...

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Little Green Men

I've been watching Deep Space Nine on DVD from the library and last night's episode was a funny one I'd never seen before - Little Green Men. Three Ferengi from the space station (DS9) travel to Earth, only to be accidentally sent back in time to 1947 and held prisoner at Roswell, New Mexico ;) ....

"You're tripping, man!" ...

... said the Vatican’s chief spokesman, Federico Lombardi, when asked about the possibility of women cardinals. OK, I'm paraphrasing: what he actually said was ...

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, did his best to stifle the speculation [about women cardinals], calling the notion “nonsense.” He added: “It is simply not a realistic possibility that the pope will name female cardinals for the consistory in February.” He conceded, however, that such a move was “theologically and theoretically” possible. “Being a cardinal is one of the roles in the church for which, in theory, one does not have to be ordained as a priest,” Lombardi said. “But to move from that point to suggesting the pope will name female cardinals for the consistory is not even remotely realistic.”

I've got a new book from the library and in the part I read last night, a counselor asked a client who was also a counselor ....

"What's the difference between anger and rage? .... What's anger?"

"An emotional cue that something is wrong, that we have been injured or mistreated, or that values we consider important are being challenged or disregarded."

He harrumphed. "I imagine you did very well on the essay portions of your exams ... Now tell me what rage is."

"A shame-based expression of anger," she said. "And a reaction to powerlessness."

Many people can't understand why some women are so angry/enraged about the way the church treats us. Perhaps it has to do with the shame of staying in a church that will probably never allow us to be fully human.

Monday, November 04, 2013


- The Employment Non-Discrimination Act makes it through the Senate (Bill Advances to Outlaw Discrimination Against Gays), despite opposition by the US Bishops. I think the bishops should be ashamed of themselves.

- From NCR, Women resistant to Pope Francis' call for new theology .... "Personally, I am not sure why there needs to be a theology of women, and certainly not one written by men," Marti Jewell of the University of Dallas' School of Ministry said in an email to NCR. "There is not talk of a theology of men. We are all disciples by virtue of our baptism." .... yes!

- There's been a lot in the Catholic media lately about religious persecution of Christians ... this Pew Research Center page helps put the subject in perspective ... Harassment of Particular Religious Groups

- I was entranced by this story and the photo that came with it ... Map: The Best Sandwiches From Every State. So hard to decide on a favorite. The one from Idaho sounds the best to vegetarian me: potato salad on toast :)

Sunday, November 03, 2013

More on the Vatican survey

Since we in the US may never know what was sent to the US Bishops from the Vatican, and since the version kindly created by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good is so brief, I thought I'd read the UK Bishops' online version of the survey here. The questions in that survey, though, are pretty thick with theology and double speak, so you may want to read the translations of them at Questions from a Ewe.

A lot of the questions asked seem just strange but the one I found the most unbelievable was ... How can a more open attitude towards having children be fostered? How can an increase in births be promoted?

Hellooooo .....

The human population has been growing continuously since the end of the Black Death, around the year 1400, although the most significant increase has been in the last 50 years, mainly due to medical advancements and increases in agricultural productivity. Although the rate of population growth has been declining since the 1980s, the United Nations has expressed concern on continued excessive population growth in sub-Saharan Africa. As of November 3, 2013 the world's human population is estimated to be 7.122 billion by the United States Census Bureau, and over 7 billion by the United Nations. Most contemporary estimates for the carrying capacity of the Earth under existing conditions are between 4 billion and 16 billion. Depending on which estimate is used, human overpopulation may or may not have already occurred. Nevertheless, the rapid recent increase in human population is causing some concern. The population is expected to reach between 8 and 10.5 billion between the year 2040 and 2050. In May 2011, the United Nations increased the medium variant projections to 9.3 billion for 2050 and 10.1 billion for 2100. The recent rapid increase in human population over the past three centuries has raised concerns that the planet may not be able to sustain present or larger numbers of inhabitants. The InterAcademy Panel Statement on Population Growth, circa 1994, has stated that many environmental problems, such as rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, and pollution, are aggravated by the population expansion. - Wikipedia

It's as if the people running the church are living in some alternate universe :(

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Update: the Vatican survey

As mentioned before, the Vatican has sent out a worldwide questionnaire or survey for lay people (Vatican seeks input from the pews on marriage and family issues - David Gibson). In other countries (like the UK), the bishops are allowing people to answer the surveys but in the US, apparently only the bishops will fill out the surveys. But good news - Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has figured out a way for US Catholics to fill out the questionnaire and let the Vatican know how we feel. Here's the post at their blog with a link to the online survey ...

Pope Francis wants to hear your opinion

[...] In preparation for Pope Francis’ 2014 Synod on the Family, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has created a survey for American Catholics on the state of life within the Church.

Do you have a few minutes to answer some questions? Your responses will be forwarded to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and to the appropriate officials in the Vatican, including the Holy Father himself.

When you’re done, send the survey to a few friends. Let’s get as many people’s opinions as possible.

Pope Francis has made it clear: you are a valued member of the Church. As such, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good promises to do all we can to make sure your voice is heard.

All love is unrequited

On this Day of the Dead, I wanted to remember one of the characters of Babylon 5, Marcus the Ranger, who died in the episode I watched tonight. Marcus was kind of a sad character: after losing his whole family and his home, he had become a Ranger to fight against the evil Shadows (see my earlier post) and upon joining the group at Babylon 5 space station, he fell in love with the station XO, Ivanova, who at best allowed him to be a friendly aquaintance. In tonight's episode, she was critically injured in a terrible battle and dying, and Marcus hooked them both up to an alien device that delivered his life force to her, saving her and killing him.

After, conforting Ivanova, the doctor, Stephen, mentioned Marcus' unrequited love for her and she said, "All love is unrequited." Here's a video that has all the important bits. Sad :( ...

Friday, November 01, 2013

Saints' movies

On All Saints' Day, here are some movies about saints. First the ones I've seen, then the ones I haven't ...

Alexander Nevsky ... a 1938 historical drama film directed by Sergei Eisenstein. It depicts the attempted invasion of Novgorod in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire and their defeat by Prince Alexander ... a musical score by Sergei Prokofiev. I did see this movie about Alexander when I was in college ... the battle on the ice was cool :)

Becket ... a 1964 film adaptation of the play Becket or the Honour of God by Jean Anouilh ... The film stars Richard Burton as Thomas Becket and Peter O'Toole as King Henry II, with John Gielgud as King Louis VII, Donald Wolfit as Gilbert Foliot, Paolo Stoppa as Pope Alexander III ... I did see this movie about Thomas Becket recently and posted about it here.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon ... a 1972 film directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Graham Faulkner and Judi Bowker. The film is a biopic of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saw this film about Francis too and liked it very much, especially the music by Donovan. I posted a couple of clips from the movie here.

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc ... a [1999] French historical drama film directed by Luc Besson ... The Messenger portrays the story of St. Joan of Arc, the famous French war heroine of the 15th century and religious martyr, played by Milla Jovovich. Also saw this and found it very interesting, especially the depiction of Joan's religious experiences. Didn't like the Dustin Hoffman character ("The Conscience"), though - too campy.

Augustine: The Decline of the Roman Empire ... a 2010 two-part television miniseries chronicling the life of St. Augustine, the early Christian theologian, writer and Bishop of Hippo Regius at the time of the Vandal invasion (AD 430). I haven't seen this - it doesn't seem to be a Netflix or at the library :( It stars Franco Nero as Augustine and the trailer makes the movie look really good (I think).

Vision – From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen ... a 2009 German film directed by Margarethe von Trotta ... tells the story of Hildegard of Bingen (Barbara Sukowa) the famed 12th century Benedictine nun, Christian mystic, composer, philosopher, playwright, physician, poet, naturalist, scientist and ecological activist. I also haven't seen this film about Hildegard and I doubt I will, given her support of complementarianism - eek!

Theresa: The Body of Christ ... a 2007 biopic written and directed by Ray Loriga and starring Paz Vega as the title character, Saint Teresa of Ávila. The film has been criticised by Spanish bishops for its erotic representation of the saint's visions, ... I haven't yet seen this film about Teresa, but if bishops hate it, I'd probably like it ;)