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Sunday, May 31, 2015

60 Minutes: Cardinal Pell and sex abuse

60 Minutes delves into the questionable actions of Cardinal Pell vis-a-vis sex abuse. I wrote about all this recently ... The continuing badness of Cardinal Pell. Here's the piece about Pell from 60 Minutes ....

- Pope's commissioner for child protection says Cardinal Pell is a 'dangerous individual' and 'almost sociopathic'

- Vatican downplays commission member's remarks about Cardinal Pell

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Sometimes when I'm feeling low I listen to songs I've posted in the past here on the blog. A few of them (sorry for the ubiquitous ads that sometimes come first) ...

Remember the surprise of this?! ...

Ryan Adams ... the lyrics of this make me smile .... zombies running all around ;) ....

A few years ago I rented A Hard Day's Night and I especially liked this song from the movie ...

My sister likes Sting - she loaned me some of his music and I used to sing along on this one to my kitties when they were elderly and sick ... I swear in the days still left we'll walk in fields of gold ...

From an episode of Fringe ... like the guitar ....

This was playing in Men In Black 3 ... another I sang a lot to the cats ...

And Waltzing Matilda when Steve Irwin died ...

More Diana Butler Bass

Theologian and author Diana Butler Bass has a new book, Grounded: Finding God in the World, a Spiritual Revolution, and in a Huffington Post podcast she talks about her new book, her evangelical past, the internet, where she feels the church will be in fifty years and, of course, God. It's here.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The evening primrose ...

continues to grow. It's almost as tall as me now :) I like how the bottom leaves turn rainbowy ...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


- Remember the Russell Crowe movie, A Beautiful Mind? John Nash has died ... John Nash's Beautiful Life.

- Vatican Bank Profits Soar As Recovery, Reform Continue. I can only imagine what the Jesus who spoke to the rich young man would think of this.

- Mad Max is a feminist :) ... hey girl ... I *am* looking forward to this film. Here's a review of it from The New Yorker ... Ridin' Dirty: 'Mad Max: Fury Road' ... By far the best thing about "Mad Max: Fury Road" is the story.

- The (Irish) Association of Catholic Priests comments on the marriage equality vote ... Same-sex marriage vote an ‘unmitigated disaster’ for Church

- Superman's Dark Past ... Some fans are complaining that Zack Snyder’s envisioning of the Man of Steel is too grim—but it’s less a departure than a return to the superhero’s roots.

- Romero devotees say Francis is the pope their hero would have been. Really? We're forgetting the Dirty War? ... Starting a Papacy, Amid Echoes of a ‘Dirty War’

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Internet's Own Boy

Last night's movie from the public library was The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, a 2014 documentary about the life (and suicide) of Aaron Swartz. Here's a review of the movie by Richard Roeper. He really liked it, as did I ...

Further reading ... How the Legal System Failed Aaron Swartz - And Us

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Marriage equality and Óscar Romero

As William mentioned in a post, there is a happy confluence of events today ...

Ireland Votes to Approve Gay Marriage, Putting Country in Vanguard :) Many Irish out of the country returned to vote, including Hozier ...

Plus, Óscar Romero is beatified today - 6 Quotes That Prove Archbishop Oscar Romero Was The Kind Of Human We All Hope To Be - and this quote of his below from the Huffington Post article seems so relevant to the YES victory in Ireland ...

Friday, May 22, 2015

More photos

Misty the cat ...

The oleanders are blooming ...

Coral rose ...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ireland and marriage equality

Waiting to see what happens in Ireland's marriage equality vote tomorrow. I hope they vote YES. The hierarchy of the church is against it, but most Catholics and some priests too support a YES vote.

The continuing badness of Cardinal Pell

Senior Vatican official offered bribe to child sex abuse victim, inquiry hears ... David Ridsdale tells Australian inquiry that in 1993 he informed Cardinal George Pell about being abused and was offered money to buy his silence. (And PS - in Australia it's virtually impossible for sex abuse victims to sue the Catholic church for the abuse!)

This accusation will come as no surprise to those who have been watching Pell for some time. What is really mind-boggling is that Pope Francis has chosen him as one of his eight advisers and as the head of the Vatican's financial reforms.

Just to reiterate, Pell was the head of Vox Clara, the Vatican commission responsible for the much hated English translation of the missal (read Jesuit Philip Endean's Tablet article on the translation process), and he is a committed foe of conscience. One can also read an essay out about him - The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell by award-winning journalist David Marr (you can read an article by Marr on the book, with some extracts from it at ABC Religion & Ethics). Much of the essay has to do with Pell's handling of clergy sex abuse in Australia.

Here's a really good 2013 interview on ABC TV with Marr on Pell, sex abuse, and the money. It's harrowing but I strongly suggest watching it if you really want to know what kind of man Pell is ...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

TV: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Ever since I had to give up tv service due to the expense, I've been trying to find worthy shows to rent from Netflix. The latest one I've tried was Fortitude ...

a British psychological thriller television series .... Fortitude is a fictional community located on Svalbard in Arctic Norway. It is described as an international community, with inhabitants from many parts of the world (Population 800 inhabitants and 4 police officers). The series was filmed in both the UK and at Reyðarfjörður, Iceland .... American actor Stanley Tucci appears in his first British television role as Detective Chief Inspector Morton from London's Metropolitan Police, who has flown to the peaceful close-knit community of Fortitude, as the local sheriff, played by Richard Dormer, investigates a violent murder.

I watched only one episode .... I think the show wants to be a better version of Insomnia. The icy landscapes were beautiful, but I just couldn't get myself to care enough about any of the characters to keep watching it.

A series I'm still watching (on set 3 now) and like pretty much is Foyle's War ...

a British detective drama television series set during and shortly after the Second World War, created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz .... The first six series are set during the Second World War in Hastings, Sussex, England, where Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) attempts to catch criminals who are taking advantage of the confusion the war has created. He is assisted by his driver Samantha "Sam" Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner (Anthony Howell). From Series 7, it sees a retired Foyle working for MI5, navigating the world of Cold War espionage.

One series I've avoided is Game of Thrones. When I was a teen I read George Martin's medieval-ish fantasy books (from which the series is adapted) but I'm really tired of that genre ... I appreciate urban fantasy much more. From what I've seen in the news about the show, it's just as well I've not watched ... Irish Independent: Game of Thrones - has the sexual violence against women gone too far in the TV series? ... The Mary Sue: We Will No Longer Be Promoting HBO’s Game of Thrones

The shows that I've been consistently watching at HULU and that I love are three: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Once Upon a Time, and Sleepy Hollow (TIME: How I Lost My Head for Sleepy Hollow).

And I'm looking forward to future shows like Minority Report ...


- Job, Gerhard Marcks,

Today I saw an article at the British Jesuits' site by Peter Knott SJ on why bad stuff happens to good people, using the Book of Job as an example. I found the ideas in the article just awful, actually. Sometimes I despair of ever getting the Christian thing right. Here are some bits from the article, and how I felt about those bits ...

Godtalk: Why bad things can happen to good people

One of the most consoling texts of the Hebrew scriptures is the Book of Job, which concerns itself with the theme of why bad things happen to good people .... While he [Job] cavils at God's providential ordering of men's affairs and beats his fists in vain against the gates of heaven he finds no peace of mind or respite for his tortured soul. But when he humbly acknowledges that the right relationship of man to God is one of unquestioning obedience and acceptance of the world as it is, his troubled spirit is at rest and adversity or success has now no power to smite him down or raise him up.

The right relationship between us and God is unquestioning obedience? I disagree, and there are examples in the bible in which it doesn't work for others either, from Abraham arguing with God about Sodom and Gomorrah, to the Canaanite woman arguing with Jesus about her daughter. Unquestioning obedience is for slaves, not children, not friends.

He has learned that it is not through material things that man fulfils his being but in dependence and trust in God. The book is teaching us that suffering tests the quality of our faith. The epilogue, Job's final restoration to prosperity, gives the conclusion that he had emerged triumphantly from his testing time and receives his reward.

Holy mackerel - Job wasn't upset just because he lost some expensive possessions .... all of his children were murdered! How exactly does restoration work when particular children are killed and then replaced with different people?

Job's real sin is man's perennial sin of self-sufficiency, his partial and myopic view of life which sees no farther than his own concerns and questions the whole structure of God's government of the universe on the basis of his own limited experience.

What else can he do? If his actual personal experience is worthless in decision making and questioning, then we might as well forget the whole relationship with God thing, not to mention Ignatian discernment.

In the end Job wins through from his despair .... He finds peace of mind and spirit in a humble acceptance of his proper place in the scheme of things as a creature living by faith under a sovereign Creator whose ways are beyond man's understanding.

Stockholm syndrome, anyone?

[I]t is only in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ that the afflictions of Job reach their proper evaluation. We have reached the heart of the message of Job when we can simply echo St Paul's words: ‘… I am convinced that neither death, nor life …nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Rom. 8: 35-39.

I don't understand what this means. How does Jesus being killed and resurrected make Job's situation .... God making a bet with the devil that torturing Job won't make Job repudiate him .... understandable or ok?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The church won't let a 10 year old rape victim get an abortion

Why A Pregnant 10-Year-Old Is Being Denied An Abortion ...

It's an unimaginably awful case — a 10-year-old girl is sexually assaulted by her stepfather and becomes pregnant. And, it gets worse, because Paraguay, her home country, prohibits all abortions unless a woman's life is in danger. Now, international human rights and health groups are condemning the government; both her mother and stepfather are in jail, and a little girl is five months pregnant. This child's plight is the latest battle between national governments that are heavily influenced by the Catholic Church's unrelenting anti-abortion stance and the human rights of victims of sexual violence ....

The United Nations issued a statement on Monday decrying the government's shoddy care of the girl and calling on officials to allow an abortion. “Despite requests made by the girl’s mother and medical experts to terminate this pregnancy, which puts the girl’s life at risk, the state failed to take measures to protect the health — as well as the physical and mental integrity — and even the life of the 10-year-old girl,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, The head of the Catholic Church in Paraguay has rejected criticism of his country's handling of the case of a 10-year-old girl who is pregnant after being raped ... Archbishop Valenzuela said the UN was promoting a culture of death by suggesting that the girl, who is around five months pregnant, be offered a pregnancy termination.

This isn't a unique case - a few years ago, the church took the same stance with a 9 year old rape victim whose life was in danger in Brazil, excommunicating her family and doctors when she got an abortion ...

The Church excommunicated the doctors who performed the procedure as well. "God's laws," said the archbishop, dictate that abortion is a sin and that transgressors are no longer welcome in the Roman Catholic Church. "They took the life of an innocent," Sobrinho told TIME in a telephone interview. "Abortion is much more serious than killing an adult. An adult may or may not be an innocent, but an unborn child is most definitely innocent. Taking that life cannot be ignored."

The church has no business making medical decisions for others - in both cases the doctors advised an abortion for the health of the mother. It's stuff like this that makes me hate the church.

Friday, May 15, 2015

B.B. King, RIP

B.B. King, Mississippi-born master of the blues, dies at 89

Here he is with Eric Clapton, playing "The Thrill Is Gone" ....

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A spiritual awakening

New research from the Pew Forum ...

The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups.

The Atlantic has a story on this - American Religion: Complicated, Not Dead ... A new survey suggests that more people of all ages are choosing their own beliefs.

This reminded me of a book by history of Christianity scholar Diana Butler Bass ... Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. She talks about her book in this video interview below. She sees the changes in religion not as sad or scary but as hopeful ....

Monday, May 11, 2015


- From the British Jesuits: Enjoyment without guilt

- At America magazine: Why 'Avengers' is So Much Better than 'Man of Steel' (And Why, for Catholics, It’s Important)

- Mormon Temple in West L.A. lets its landmark lawn turn brown. Will the Catholic churches here in drought-world do the same?

- Am I the only one intrigued by the Trivago guy? Nope :) ... What's the Deal With the Trivago Guy? Meet TV's Sloppy, Sexy Pitchman

- Written before the results of the UK election, this article was dead right about the SNP's win (I think Scottish independence would be a good thing) ... The End of Britain as We Know It?

- When the Catholic Church owns your doctor: The insidious new threat to affordable birth control

- So what's been happening to Fr. Roy Bourgeois since the Vatican excommunicated him for attending a woman's ordination? He's still trying to help women ... Rev. Bourgeois jailed in Washington, D.C., during sit-in at embassy

- To have a truly just church, Pope Francis must move beyond complementarity

- The Pope and Selfishness: Contradictions and Fictions

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Happy Mother's Day ...

Mama :) ...

More muzak

Song heard today on the muzak at Whole Foods :) ...

Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Avengers, the Black Widow, and sexuality

The latest Avengers movie is in the news .... Avengers: Age of Ultron' to stay on top as 'Hot Pursuit' makes debut ... even Christians apparently like it ... Surprised by hope: Why Christians flocked to ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ an atheist’s film

There's been talk about the movie related to sexuality. Some of the talk was critical about the dialogue in the film ... Is There Really a Rape Joke in Avengers: Age of Ultron? ... but most of the talk has been about the Black Widow ... The Avengers’ Black Widow Problem: How Marvel Slut-Shamed Their Most Badass Superheroine.

The issue came up on Saturday Night Live ...

For me (and many others) a creepy thing was the recent interview in which Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Chris Evans (Captain America) deemed the Black Widow a slut, a whore, and as having a prosthetic leg - ableism and slut-shaming ....

Perhaps this seems harmless to some but I'll let Spencer Kornhaber at The Atlantic make the case for why it's not ... Black Widow's Smurfette Problem

I'm still looking forward to seeing the movie and also the cross-over Ultron episode on the tv series Agents of Shield which I've been watching on Hulu ... Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Inside the tie-in to Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The church: seeing women as afterthoughts

Here's the beginning of Frank Bruni's New York Times' article, Catholicism Undervalues Women. The whole thing is really worth a read.

Like a Pringles vendor sounding an alarm about obesity, Pope Francis fashioned himself a feminist last week.

You are not reading The Onion.

It was an epic mismatch of messenger and message, and I say that as someone who is thankful for this pope, admires him greatly and believes that a change of tone even without a change in teaching has meaning and warrants celebration.

But a change of tone in defiance of fact should be flagged (and flogged) as such. And neither Pope Francis nor any other top official in the bastion of male entitlement known as the Vatican can credibly assert concern about parity between the sexes. Their own kitchen is much too messy for them to call out the ketchup smudges in anybody else’s.

Francis actually went beyond concern. He vented outrage, calling it a “pure scandal” that women didn’t receive equal pay for equal work.

He left out the part about women in the Roman Catholic Church not even getting a shot at equal work. Pay isn’t the primary issue when you’re barred from certain positions and profoundly underrepresented in others .....

What surprises and depresses me is that most Catholics, clergy and lay, are happy enough with their pope and happy enough with their church that the stuff mentioned in Bruni's article doesn't bother them at all.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


Got two photos before my camera's batteries died ;) ...

- some violets ...

- and an evening primrose ...

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Fall

The latest tv series I'm watching is The Fall ...

a BBC crime drama television series set in Northern Ireland and created, written and, in its second series, directed by Allan Cubitt. The series stars Gillian Anderson as Superintendent Stella Gibson, a senior police officer investigating a string of murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Northern Irish actor Jamie Dornan plays the serial killer she is pursuing.

I decided to try the series after watching Jamie Dornan on Once Upon a Time as the Huntsman ...

I've only watched the first episode of The Fall so far but it seems pretty good, if disturbing. It's interesting to see what Northern Ireland is like and to see how differently crimes are investigated in the UK as opposed to the US (at least on tv). Jamie Dornan does a good job as a character who's so complicated he can be a believably loving father to his children while at the same time being a serial killer/fetishist. I sadly can't say the same for Gillian Anderson and her character - perhaps I watched her as Scully on The X-Files for too many years, but her police inspector persona seems both artificial and perpetually bored. And her faux accent .... she sounds like the Queen Mother ;)

- Anderson as The X-Files' Scully

You can read more about the show at this BBC page. And here's an article in The Guardian about the show - Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan on the set of The Fall: 'It's heading to a climax'

Here's a trailer ...

Saturday, May 02, 2015

X-Men: First Class

This week's movie rental was X-Men: First Class ...

a 2011 American superhero film, based on the X-Men characters appearing in Marvel Comics. It is the fifth installment in the X-Men film series. It is both a prequel to the original trilogy and a soft-reboot of the franchise .... The story is set primarily in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and focuses on the relationship between Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and the origin of their groups—the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants, respectively. The film also stars Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult, Oliver Platt, Jason Flemyng, Lucas Till, Edi Gathegi, and Kevin Bacon.

I somehow missed this film in the series, recently watching X-Men: Days of Future Past which comes later chronologically, so now that I've seen this, the other film makes more sense. It is set in the 60s, when Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Ian McKellen) are young men (played respectively by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) - it portrays how they met, became friends, and how they recruited other mutants to be on eventually opposing teams. There were some fun scenes of the recruitment and training process, including one in which Charles and Eric try to ask Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to join them - they don't get very far ;) ...

And here's Richard Roper's review - he gave the movie an A+ ...


The roses here are blooming :) ....

Friday, May 01, 2015

Pope Francis the feminist? Nope

In my last post of links i included the news that Pope Francis had spoken up for equal pay for women. That's a good, thing, of course, but the only reason such a statement from him even *was* news is because it was unexpected, given his attitude towards women (Seven reasons some women wince when Pope Francis starts talking).

Today I saw a couple of comments on this in the news ...

- From The Christian Science Monitor ... Pope calls gender wage gap 'pure scandal.' But does he practice what he preaches? (+video) ...

[...] when it comes to hiring women, the Vatican itself has a less-than-stellar record. In 2014, only 18 percent of Holy See employees were women, according to statistics released on the eve of International Women's Day and reported by the Associated Press.

In Vatican City's government, which runs the Vatican Museums, the Vatican supermarket, the pharmacy, and the department store, 19 percent of employees were women in 2014.

The Vatican itself views the same statistics as a sign that the presence of women is growing at the Vatican, pointing out that the number of women employees of the city-state's government has nearly doubled over the past decade, from 195 in 2004 to 371 in 2014, from 13 to 19 percent.

Because the Vatican doesn't provide financial or earnings data, it is difficult to calculate and compare wages of the men and women who work there.

But no matter how you consider the statistics, there's no disputing the fact that women rarely hold top offices in the Vatican. And though Francis has pledged to give women a greater role in the Roman Catholic church and the Vatican bureaucracy, he has ruled out the possibility that women could become priests or head congregations (or pope, for that matter), saying the "door is closed." ....

- Ans from The Guardian ... If the Pope wants women's equality, he must support reproductive rights ...

[...] Pope Francis the feminist? Well ... not so fast.

True equality for women or wives – even economic equality – is dependent on access to birth control and abortion, which is something I suspect Pope Francis won’t come out in favor of anytime soon. So while it’s nice that one of the world’s preeminent religious leaders believes in fair wages for fair work, the sentiment rings hollow for women who know what it really takes to have equality in the workforce and beyond.

Studies have shown that access to contraception early in a woman’s life makes women more likely to pursue higher education, and to work at higher-paying jobs. The ability to decide whether and when to parent – and how to space out the children they choose to have – impacts the kind of jobs that women can have and the kind of salary they will bring home.

The United Nations Population Fund has called access to family planning a “key factor in reducing poverty” globally, and a study of the United States found that the advent of the birth control pill closed the wage gap by 10% in the 1980s and by 30% in the 1990s ....

The disparity between the Pope's words on equality for women and the actuality of discrimination against women within and by the church makes what he has said, good as it was, hypocritical.