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Monday, November 28, 2016

Snail love

I read a lot of news about the environment and animals. Today I saw this story at NPR: Can't Hurry Love: Rare Snail Finds Romance After Global Search

Snail reproduction is pretty strange and seeing this story reminded me of this video :) ...

Kaya Oakes and Plato's Forms

Kaya Oakes, Catholic writer and teacher at UC Berkeley, asks ...

Here's an answer from my pov: yes, that's just reserved for women. If there were a Platonic Form for women, in the eyes of many men, it would be Physical Attractiveness. If a woman fails to participate fully in this Form, there really is no other way for her to redeem her worth. At least, that's been my experience.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


- Richard Chamberlain as John Blackthorne (based on William Adams) and Damien Thomas as Jesuit Martin Alvito (based on João Rodrigues SJ) from Shōgun

- For those interested in the upcoming movie Silence, I had a post from a couple of years ago that touched on the movie, comparing it to another film of Jesuits in Japan: Shogun ... Jesuits in Japan redux (see pic above)

- The People Chose Hillary Clinton. Now We Need To Stop Donald Trump From Trashing Our Democracy

- George Harrison Is Still Classic Rock’s Best-Kept Secret

- :) ...

Ellen DeGeneres: Presidential Medal of Freedom

Watch Obama’s Lovely Tribute to Ellen DeGeneres, Androgynous Gay Ambassador

Today, Ellen DeGeneres represents a kind of hyper-palatable, vanilla gayness that’s more mainstream than subversive. When Barack Obama awarded her one of his last Presidential Medals of Freedom on Tuesday, he reminded viewers that two decades ago, when DeGeneres came out, even rumors of being gay could torpedo an actor’s livelihood ...

When I think of Ellen, I always remember this bit where she begins to sing that song from West Side Story :) ...

Saturday, November 26, 2016


I saw this article at The Atlantic today - The Health Benefits of Trees ...

It is becoming increasingly clear that trees help people live longer, healthier, happier lives—to the tune of $6.8 billion in averted health costs annually in the U.S., according to research published this week. And we're only beginning to understand the nature and magnitude of their tree-benevolence ....

It's another cold rainy day here and the garage, where the cats stay when it rains, is leaking a lot. But though the house and garage are rotting away, the one thing I do have in abundance here is a wealth or trees. Here are some photos I've taken of some of them over the years ...

There's the orange tree my parents planted ...

And pine trees, including the ones that were our live Christmas trees when we were kids ...

There's an oleander ...

And a magnolia ...

There are apricots too but they're mostly dead now ...

Nut trees too, like the walnut tree ...

And the pecan tree, which was a volunteer ...

Speaking of volunteers, there are a lot of privet trees in the yard ...

And wild plum trees too ...

There's also a little loquat tree ...

And an acacia tree ...

And a box elder ...

And there are oaks ...

I feel very lucky to live around so many trees.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Let's flip the election results

Was the election hacked? Can the outcome be reversed? Oh please God, let it be so!

- Your questions about the potential US election recount, answered

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Today's the day many of us get together with family to celebrate and be thankful. That idea always reminds me of this ancient Bing Crosby song ....

Most people will be eating turkey, but not me or my sister, vegetarians that we are. I saw an article today that touched on this ... Why Do We Pardon Turkeys? Lessons in Human Morality by Sherry F. Colb, Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell Law School ... but I doubt anyone besides me will read it. My sis and I had artichoke pizza and chocolate eclairs for Thanksgiving dinner :)

For those who have not yet eaten, here's Stephen Colbert with some 'Post-Election Survival Tips' for getting through Thanksgiving dinner with relatives who voted for Trump (starting at 5:40) ...

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pope lets priests forgive abortion

In the news: Pope Francis extends Catholic priests' power to forgive abortion

Here are a couple of quotes from the article with my comments ...

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that every human life "from the moment of conception until death is sacred" -- and that any Catholic who procures an abortion incurs automatic excommunication, a penalty that often only a bishop could lift.

The whole thing is based on some squirrelly theology. Why has abortion been only forgivable up until now by a bishop, while murder has always been forgivable by a priest? Why are women who get abortions excommunicated, while women who murder their six month old babies are not? You often hear church guys say abortion is much more serious than killing an adult .... why should that be so? None of this is based on scripture.

Kate D'Annunzio of Rachel's Vineyard, a Pennsylvania-based group that ministers to women who have had abortions, said Francis has "clarified" that now priests have the power to do both: forgive and welcome women back into the church. "We are extremely ecstatic that the Pope is recognizing that the decision women have made has harmed them in so many ways, and they want to be reunited with the Church. "The Church has had the ability to forgive these women, but many of these women had difficulty forgiving themselves.'"

Actually most Catholic women who have had abortions don't go to confession because they don't believe what they have done needs to be forgiven. Recent studies have shown that the great majority of women are not "harmed" by getting an abortion and are not wracked with guilt over their choice (99 Percent of Women Don’t Regret Their Abortions).

More: The pope's abortion 'forgiveness' is good politics, but changes nothing for women and Pope Should Declare A Ceasefire In Abortion War

Friday, November 18, 2016

Don't 'give Trump a chance'

There have been many calls to give Trump a chance before freaking out about his coming presidency. While this may seem like a reasonable request, but I think it's a bad idea. As John Oliver has said, giving him a chance, in the sense of not speaking out immediately against policies he's proposed, is dangerous because some of them are alarming.

Things have actually gotten worse since Oliver said these words ... Trump has now chosen Myron Ebell for the EPA team (Trump picks climate change denier for EPA team), and he has chosen for Attorney General Republican Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Session (Attorney General Jeff Sessions Would Spell Absolute Disaster for Civil Rights in America), and has chosen Steve Bannon as his chief strategist (Steve Bannon’s dangerous campaign to rebrand racism as American “nationalism”).

As Christina Cauterucci writes ...

How many transgender people will be beaten, killed, or left homeless because the Trump administration axes civil rights protections and refuses to prosecute hate crimes? How many women will perish seeking underground abortions? How many immigrants, Muslims, and people of color will die at the hands of Trump supporters emboldened by his hate? How many cities will ISIS tear apart, and how many civilians will it brutalize and kill because our commander-in-chief, a thin-skinned egomaniac who’s ready to commit war crimes, will exacerbate the global threat of terror? How many people around the world will be displaced from their flooded homes, starved by drought, drowned by hurricanes, and victimized by terrorist groups because Trump, the leader of the second-worst emitter in the world, doesn’t believe climate change is real? In all likelihood, our republic will survive Donald Trump’s term in office. How many people, here in the U.S. and the world over, won’t?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A question for men

Is It OK to Be This Annoyed About Older Men Who Date Much Younger Women?

How’s this for kismet: One fateful day in 1966, singer Tony Bennett met and took a photo with a couple after one of his shows. Little did Bennett know at the time, his future wife was there, too: She was the baby growing inside the belly of the female fan.

Bennett, 90, recounts this meet-ick between him and his third wife, Susan Benedetto, 50, in his new book, as the all-seeing, no-casting-shade-here eye of People magazine recently reported. It’s hard to be rational about how skin-crawly this is: Fine, maybe they love each other, but he was 40 and she was negative several weeks when they met. It’s the punchline to a Saturday Night Live skit come to life, as the Cut was quick to note; it’s Twilight’s Jacob imprinting on Bella’s vampire baby; it’s that guy on Game of Thrones who marries his daughters. It captures everything that’s wrong with our sexist, youth-worshipping, male-privilege-run-amok society.

Bennett and Benedetto may make for a particularly striking example (“Lovely fetus you’ve got there, ma’am, here’s my number, have it call it me in 18 years or so”), but older men getting romantically involved with younger women is hardly a rare phenomenon. Every day, there seems to be another outrageous new celebrity coupling announced via pictures of some May-December frolicking: Jennifer Lawrence sharing a lollipop with Darren Aronofsky; Sean Penn dating Vincent D’Onofrio’s daughter; Mel Gibson having his ninth child with his 26-year-old girlfriend; Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen double-dating with their 47-year-old and 58-year-old respective beaus; Leonardo DiCaprio’s sending another lady-love packing upon her reaching the ripe old age of 25. Online dating stats bare out that average joes are just as enamored with younger women as their famous counterparts.

Each example disgusts me anew in a way that’s probably not entirely defensible: I think I might be angrier about these couples than I am about a good many important political issues. I know, I know: Why care that two consenting adults are canoodling when a demagogue is about to take the White House? (Donald Trump, for the record, is 24 years older than his wife Melania, and each time he’s gotten married, it’s been to a younger woman. But anyway.) It’s just so transparent, watching one of these paragons of fragile masculinity take his male privilege out for a spin and realize he can date someone so young she won’t know how inappropriate it is. High five! Why not father a child you’ll be too old to raise properly while you’re at it? The exact ages and differentials vary, but each one reinforces one important point: Women get less valuable as they age, while men just get to enjoy the ride .......

I have a question. Why do men rate women as consumables instead of as fellow people? I'd ask too if this is the world men want their daughters to inhabit, but then I'm reminded of guys like Woody Allen and Trump.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stephen Colbert: Trump's team

Thank goodness for guys like John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and their commentary on the Trump presidency - if they didn't make me laugh, I think I'd be wailing and rending my garments by now.

Stephen Colbert Finds Refuge in Punditry: The comedian has long chafed against the bipartisan mandates of network TV. Now he’s taking sides

Don't blame the Democratic party for Trump's win

Many are trying to find someone to blame for the Trump win and some of them are trying to lay that blame on the Democratic party. I think they are wrong - the Democratic party and Hillary won the majority of the popular vote and she is still gaining votes. And needless to say, she had triumphed over Bernie in the popular vote as well. No, I blame the people who voted for Trump and people who didn't vote at all (almost half of the electorate) for Trump's victory. Here's the beginning of an article that touches on this ....

t’s Easy To Blame the Democratic Party for Trump—But Reality is More Complicated

Why did Trump win? Many liberal intellectuals who supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, like Paul Krugman, blame the Republican Party. Many left intellectuals who supported Bernie Sanders, like Thomas Frank (author of Listen, Liberal), blame the Democratic Party.

Neither party-blaming claim is entirely convincing. They both ignore the crosscutting identities and sometimes conflicting interests that weaken the Democratic coalition.

Like many of my friends, I wish that Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton had won the Democratic nomination. But he didn’t, and we should think longer and harder about why.

In Frank’s account, “Democratic leaders” chose Clinton. If my memory serves me right, primary voters also chose her. I find it hard to believe that the party establishment is as hegemonic as Frank implies. Establishment Republicans obviously lacked the power to sandbag Trump. Establishment Democrats threw some sand at the Sanders campaign, but they did not have the power to sink it on their own.

Sanders’ failures had deeper roots. He never won enough support from black or Hispanic voters, key components of the Democratic coalition. One could argue that he deserved such support on the basis of a clearly articulated socialist politics and his progressive voting record in the Senate. But in his eagerness to hammer the income inequality nail, he put relatively little emphasis on race and gender discrimination, police violence, immigration or family policy. He also did not align himself with the popular Obama presidency, as Hillary Clinton did. As a result, he failed to get much visibility with voters of color or to explicitly mobilize women ......

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hozier: Better Love

- Hozier

Watching The Legend of Tarzan again and noticing the music this time .... Irish musician Hozier does a song that plays during the ending credits - Better Love. I've posted before about Hozier and his song, Take Me To Church ... Hozier and the Catholic church and This gives a whole new meaning to liturgical dance :).

Here he is doing Better Love for the movie ....

Better Love - Hozier

I once kneeled in shaking thrill
I chase the memory of it still, of every chill
Chided by that silence of a hush sublime
Blind to the purpose of the brute divine
But you were mine
Staring in the blackness at some distant star
The thrill of knowing how alone we are, unknown we are
To the wild and to the both of us
I confessed the longing I was dreaming of

Some better love, but there's no better love
Beckons above me and there's no better love
That ever has loved me, there's no better love
Darling, feel better love
Feel better love

And I've never loved a darker blue
Than the darkness I have known in you, own from you
You, whose heart would sing of anarchy
You would laugh at meanings, guarantees, so beautifully
When our truth is burned from history
By those who figured justice in fond memory, witness me
Like fire weeping from a cedar tree
Know that my love would burn with me
We'll live eternally

Cause there's no better love
That beckons above me, there's no better love
That ever has loved me, there's no better love
So darling, feel better love
Cause there's no better love
That's laid beside me, there's no better love
That justifies me, there's no better love
So darling, darling, feel better love
Feel better love

Feel better love
Feel better love
Feel better love

Cause there's no better love
That beckons above me, there's no better love
That ever has loved me, there's no better love
So darling, feel better love
Cause there's no better love
That's laid beside me, there's no better love
That justifies me, there's no better love
So darling, darling, feel better love
Feel better love

John Oliver on Trump's presidency

From The Atlantic: John Oliver, Activist ...

For the last eight years, we’ve had a president we could assume would generally stand up for the rights of all Americans. But that is going to change now. So we’re going to have to actively stand up for one another. And it can’t just be sounding off on the internet or sharing think pieces or videos like this one that echo around your bubble. I’m talking about actual sacrifice to support people who are now under threat.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Leon Russell: RIP

Leon Russell dies at 74; hit songwriter, Wrecking Crew member, musical bridge builder

- Hummingbird ....

- A Song for You ...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Stephen Colbert on the Trump transition

I'm trying to stop posting about Trump. Really. But when I hear so many people going on about unity and giving him a chance, smoke just comes out of my ears. I'm not the only one: listen to Stephen Colbert ("How do you want to make America great? Elect someone who already knows how to do that") ...

A Trump presidency & reproductive rights

- How a Trump presidency will threaten women’s reproductive rights

- Women Are Preparing for Trump and Pence’s Inevitable Assault on Reproductive Rights

- What You Can Actually Do Right Now To Help Preserve Reproductive Rights

- At ABC Religion and Ethics , an audio interview with Jon O'Brien of Catholics For Choice about the Catholic lay movement for reproductive rights

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Three movies

This week I did more than worry about the election, I watched some new-to-DVD movies: Star Trek Beyond, X-Men: Apocalypse, and The Legend of Tarzan. I liked them all :) Here's a bit about each of them ...

- Star Trek Beyond ...

is a 2016 American science fiction adventure film directed by Justin Lin .... It is the thirteenth film in the Star Trek film franchise and the third installment in the reboot series, following Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles as Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock, with Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin reprising their roles from the previous films. Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella also join the cast.

Here's a little from Richard Roeper's review (3 of 4 stars) ...

[...] “Beyond” picks up some 966 days into the five-year mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise. (Geek alert! The original series debuted on NBC in September of 1966: 9/66.)

Kirk and Spock are questioning their commitment to the mission, for very different reasons.

In fact the whole crew is in something of a rut. Another day, another encounter with an alien life form, another threat to the ship and crew, another victory, another lesson learned about the importance of disparate cultures learning to get along. To what end?

Kirk applies for a supervisory position that will ground him. Spock and Uhura are “on a break.” Spock is driving Bones crazy. Sulu and Chekov are stuck in background shots, waiting to deliver what precious few lines they have. Scottie’s crabby.

Maybe this collective funk contributes to the crew of the Enterprise falling for an obvious trap in which a rescue mission leaves them vulnerable and under siege.

Forced to abandon ship, trapped on a hostile planet teeming with aliens that want to kill them and separated into pairs or alone, the crew of the Enterprise has to set aside internal differences and figure out a way to band together to save themselves and of course save the universe, because what’s a sci-fi adventure without a megalomaniacal villain who wants to blow up all of creation so he can rule what’s left of the rubble? .....

This film was notable for a few things. One was that the character of Sulu was shown to be gay - there was much about this in the news when the film first came out (The Star Trek Movies Finally Have a Gay Character, and, Surprise, It’s Someone You Know). Another thing was that Leonard Nimoy, who played the original character of Spock and who had a recurring role in the new Star Trek movies, died before the movie was filmed - the film acknowledged his death by having his character die as well (Leonard Nimoy, and the many dimensions of Spock). The third thing was that the actor who played Chekov in the movie died shortly after the film was made (How Anton Yelchin’s Death Changes Star Trek Beyond).

Here's a trailer ...

- X-Men: Apocalypse ...

a 2016 American superhero film based on the fictional X-Men characters that appear in Marvel Comics. It is the ninth installment in the X-Men film series and a sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past. Directed by Bryan Singer .... the film stars an ensemble cast, led by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, and Lucas Till. In X-Men: Apocalypse, the ancient mutant En Sabah Nur awakens in 1983 and plans to wipe out modern civilization and take over the world, leading the X-Men to try to stop him and defeat his team of renegade mutants.

Here's the beginning of a review from the San Francisco Chronicle ...

This is turning into the season of superheroes battling other superheroes, but “X-Men: Apocalypse” is the first one to do it right. One of the best of the “X-Men” films, the new entry is full of finely crafted action, all of it in the service of interesting and well-thought-out ideas. Resting on neither formula nor audience goodwill, the “X-Men” series is going deeper and getting better as it goes along.

The first title card — 3600 B.C.E. — brings a mild feeling of oh-no-must-we-go-there, but this evaporates virtually from the first shot, as we realize that director Bryan Singer intends to do this for real. For a little pre-credits sequence, he re-creates ancient Egypt — not just a little room somewhere in Egypt. He shows us a parade, where we can see the opulence of the era, and the pyramids when they were new, and the faces of the slaves.

The idea at work here is that the Egyptian rulers were actually the first mutants, and that the top ruler — known as Apocalypse, so you know he’s not nice — had the ultimate power. By inhabiting the bodies of a series of mutants, he has maintained his youth and acquired multiple abilities. But then there’s a mishap, and Apocalypse is rendered unconscious, which is a very good thing for the course of civilization.

Singer illustrates the passage of time from ancient days through the late 20th century by catapulting the viewer through a twisting corridor, in which we see glimpses of the crucifixion, Renaissance art, the rise of Nazism and the emergence of the Cold War. Finally, we arrive in the promising era of the 1980s. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has all his hair, as well as a school for mutants. And Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is living happily and anonymously, as a family man and factory worker in Poland.

So everything is going along swimmingly ... and then Apocalypse wakes up ...

The X-Men movies are getting more complex, if only because they are taking place at different times and in different timelines and with different actors - those set in earlier times have James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Professor X and Magneto, while those taking place in the present (or future) have Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in those roles instead. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is one of the few characters who shows up in all the movies. This film features a prominent role for Quicksilver, the speedy son of Magneto. He can move so quickly that everything and everyone around him seems to be standing still. Here's a scene from the movie in which he visits Professor X's school only to find it's in the process of being blown up - he manages to save almost everyone there, including a pizza-eating dog :) ...

Sadly, I've read that this is the last X-Men movie in which Hugh Jackman will appear, with one more film starring just him and Patrick Stewart to come: Logan.

- The Legend of Tarzan ...

is a 2016 American action adventure film based on the fictional character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Directed by David Yates and written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer,[3] the film stars Alexander Skarsgård as the title character, with Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent, and Christoph Waltz in supporting roles.

Here's the beginning of a review of the film at NPR ...

Edgar Rice Burroughs published the first of his Tarzan stories in 1912, just four years after, as the opening title cards of the long-in-development The Legend Of Tarzan inform us, Belgium's King Leopold II was forced to cede control of the so-called "Congo Free State" to the Belgian Parliament. He'd spent the prior couple of decades enslaving millions of residents of the Congo and using their forced labor to extract the region's rubber, diamonds, and other resources for his personal enrichment.

Film versions of the Tarzan story have numbered in the hundreds, the earliest ones arriving almost a decade before the movies got recorded sound. Clearly, you can't drop a $200 million-ish new gloss of this archaic material without some nips and tucks, by which I mean a top-to-bottom existential rethink. And so screenwriters Craig Brewer and Adam Cozad have retconned the story as a who-could-argue indictment of colonialism, and made Margot Robbie's Jane — so often a hostage — a head-butting, lock-picking, quip-making Marion Ravenwood type. (Still a hostage, though.)

The filmmakers even attempt to dodge the material's in-built White Savior problem by casting Samuel L. Jackson as journalist and historian George Washington Williams, who began reporting on the atrocities committed by Leopold's "Force Publique" in 1889. A Pennsylvania-born veteran of the Civil War who later enlisted in the Mexican army to fight the French, Williams fears the genocide of "Indians" (his word) in his home country is about to be repeated in the Congo ....

One of the things I liked about the movie was its tie-in to real historical figures like George Washington Williams (Jackson) and Léon Rom (Waltz). I also liked that there were a lot of animals and that they were all CGI, which I think is the humane future for animals in film. Here is a scene where Tarzan has come back to the Congo after having lived in London for years, and is reunited with friends :) ...

And here is a 2-in-1 trailer ...

Of the three movies, I like the one about Tarzan best.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Post election

'He Is Not My President': Donald Trump Inspires Thousands to Protest in Streets Across U.S.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election night: 10pm

Trump has won. I honestly didn't believe this could happen. This means that over half the people in the country want as the president a man who was endorsed by the KKK, a man who has assaulted numerous women, a man who encourages violence, a man who wants to bring back coal mining, a man who makes fun of the disabled. That's their ideal. And among those who chose him - 51% of Catholics. Job well done, fellow Catholics - Jesus would be so proud (NOT). I feel sick :(

Monday, November 07, 2016

Vote for Hillary :)

I actually voted a couple of weeks ago, for Hillary. But those of you who vote tomorrow, I hope you vote for Hillary too.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Jesuits and women priests

In the past, a number of Jesuits have spoken up publicly for the ordination of women. But now that we have a pope who was once a Jesuit, a pope who has said that women can never ever be priests, those same men remain silent on the issue. Why? I doubt the reason is that they have changed their minds on the issue. Can it really be that solidarity with a pope formerly of their order is more important than speaking up for women in the church?

Here are some of the Jesuits who have advocated women's ordination in the past ....

****** Thomas Reese SJ mentioned that women should be priests in a recent article about women being deacons, Women deacons? Yes. Deacons? Maybe.. Here's part of it ...

When I was asked by a reporter last week whether I favored women deacons, I hesitated and finally responded, “If there are male deacons, there should be female deacons.” .... frankly, even if there were not women deacons in the past, I would still argue for ordaining women deacons today, just as I would argue for ordaining women priests. True, Jesus did not pick any women for the Twelve Apostles, but he did not pick any gentiles either. We would really have a priest shortage today if the priesthood was limited to Jewish Christians.

The church today does many things that Jesus and the early Christians did not do. For example, they would not recognize the Eucharist as we celebrate it today, nor would they understand why we are doing it in churches rather than in homes, and they would be appalled by all the statues (idols) in our churches ....

Even today, the Catholic church has a difficult time dealing with change. During the last two papacies, all discussion of serious change was suppressed. Today, the window closed after the Second Vatican Council has been reopened. This does not mean that every new proposal should be accepted, but it does mean that we should be open to serious conversation and debate on change in the church, especially on the role of women in the church ...

****** Francis X. Clooney SJ mentioned women's ordination in an article at America magazine, 30 Years a Priest: Gratitude, Joy, and a Quiet Lament. Here's a bit of it ...

[...] This issue -- does God call women as well as men to ordination? -- seems likely to remain one of the great divides in the Church of the 21st century, and we all, men as well as women, are, or should be, suffering through the experience. That the Vatican has definitively ended the discussion does not make it less likely that many will continue to have hearts rent by the issue. I am sure God hears many a prayer, many a day, on the topic. But no matter what we think, there is room for quiet lament, and particularly those of us who are ordained should feel this sadness mingled with the joy appropriate to anniversaries of ordination. The priesthood is, as I have said, a great gift, and I know how very sad it would be to have been barred from it, from the start or along the way. I can only try to imagine the sentiments of a woman who has experienced, with humility and conviction, this calling, faced as she is with the prospect of the Church’s insistence that it is incapable of ordaining women -- as if to say: "Even if God calls, the Church cannot." It is clear that some women have moved on, and do not want Roman Catholic ordination any more; others never did; many more have found ways of living out their vocations fruitfully in Church and world. Nevertheless, some still grieve, many who know them and their gifts still grieve, and it is with them all, at my 30th anniversary of ordination, that I lament. It is mindful of them, and for them, that I shall be celebrating the Eucharist on June 10. I think it most appropriate that every priest celebrating an ordination anniversary, most often around this time of the year, take the occasion to pray with, mindful of, women who have discerned that God is calling them to ordination in the Church.

****** William A. Barry SJ wrote sipporting the idea of women priests in his book Paying Attention to God: Discernment in Prayer. Here's a bit of what he wrote there ...

[...] In the contemporary Catholic Church in the United States and elsewhere there are hundreds of women who identify with Therese's desire [to be a priest]. They feel that God has called them to ordained ministry in the church, and they find themselves unable to follow through on the Lord's call because of the stance of authority in the church .....

For a number of years I have been a co-worker in ministry with and sometimes spiritual director to a number of women who feel so called. Their experiences are not in the public domain, nor do these women want to publicize themselves. Yet, I believe, the church needs to know about their experience as as part of its ongoing discernment of what God is trying to accomplish ... I have felt some urgency to try to get into the public domain the experience of the women with whom I have worked. The urgency is compounded by the growing realization that many of God's people are being deprived of Eucharist because of the death of priests. As more and perhaps different experiences become part of our shared life the church will gain more charity about God's intentions ....

Each of the women I have in mind has been praying seriously for years and has sought regular and competent spiritual direction. Each makes at least an eight day directed retreat every year, and a number have also made the full Spiritual Exercises (30 days) under capable direction. Those whose prayer experience I know best have developed a relationship of intimacy with God and his Son Jesus that has moved from the discernment of the beginner to that of a companion of the Lord. They have asked to be with Jesus on mission, even on dangerous mission, and have been consoled by his acceptance of their desire. They open themselves honestly and humbly to their spiritual directors and look for challenge because they want to follow their Lord and not go up a garden path. In other words, they are continually testing the spirits as best they can. They ask the Lord whether they are deluding themselves about the desire for priesthood since the door seems to be even more firmly closed now than ten years ago. Nothing in their prayer experience points towards such a discernment of delusion. In fact the opposite seems to be the case ......

All my instincts, training and experience lead me to the conclusion that these women are experiencing an authentic call of God ..... All of us in the church need to take seriously the experiences of women such as I have described. Is God saying something to us about ministry in the church through them? And if so, what is he saying? In Experience and God John E. Smith affirms the necessity of shared experience for a religious community: "A living religion, or rather a religion which hopes to save its life, cannot ultimately afford to avoid the critical test of shared experience. On the contrary, from shared experience comes its life." So too new life for the church's ministry may only come by reflecting on shared experience.

****** Robert J. Egan SJ had a couple of article in Commonweal magazine. One was a conversation with Sara Butler (she was against women's ordination) ... Women & the Priesthood ... which had followed his earlier article, Why Not? Scripture, History & Women's Ordination. Here's part of that article ...

Why are women excluded from being deacons, presbyters, and bishops in the Catholic Church? Are the reasons given reasonable and convincing? What can be learned from the testimony of Scripture and tradition? And what can be learned from the experience of Christians in contemporary societies? These questions provide us with an illuminating example of the crisis of contemporary Catholicism.

“The meaning of Vatican II,” Bernard Lonergan once remarked, “was the acknowledgment of history.” Sometimes I think it was just this acknowledgment of history that so soon afterward provoked a screeching of the brakes in the church and a determined effort to go backward. For acknowledging history can be painful and confusing. It teaches us about the fictions of memory, the prevalence of legend, and the truth about diversity, conflict, change, and discontinuity. We have to learn how to live with the whole truth about our history, to face it and accept responsibility for it. Even making changes is not enough if we’re still unable to acknowledge failings and experience repentance.


[T]he religious idea of tradition does not mean “whatever happened.” All kinds of things have happened in church history—some fortunate and some unfortunate, some glorious and some infamous—including a great many sins, and sins are never indicative of God’s will. They are not part of God’s plan. We all believe that God is at work in our history, but not in a way that diminishes our freedom or manipulates our choices. The Christian God is not a puppeteer. We believe the Holy Spirit makes its presence felt in our tradition, but the Holy Spirit is always free to do a new thing in our midst. Unbroken continuity might mean fidelity to God’s grace; or it might mean stubborn persistence in our refusal of grace. By itself it doesn’t prove anything. The moral toleration of slavery was an unbroken and universal tradition in the church from the beginning at least until the nineteenth century, and arguably until Vatican II, but today it is understood to be an intrinsic evil.

The mere fact that the church has always, or almost always, up to a certain point, said or done something a certain way does not in itself preclude critical reflection, spiritual discernment, even radical change—or even reversal. This is apparently difficult for some Catholics to acknowledge or accept. But it isn’t a theory. It is merely a fact of church history. There is nothing esoteric about it. A library card and an open mind are all that are needed to confirm it.


In what sense do presbyters and bishops need to “resemble” Jesus? Jesus was Jewish; he spoke Aramaic; we think he died in his early thirties. Yet no one is suggesting that church officers should be Jewish, should be fluent in Aramaic, or should leave office when they reach the age of thirty-five. Is the gender of Jesus the one decisive factor in “resembling” him? Would a loving and caring woman represent Jesus less effectively than a man who was grouchy, evasive, and preoccupied with self? Might not the ability to love in a mature, wholehearted way be the single most important factor?

And why is there this need for a resemblance to Jesus? Is it mainly an issue in regard to presiding at the Eucharistic liturgy? We have no reason to believe that presiding at the liturgy was originally thought to require an appointment or an office at all. And the liturgy is an event of communal worship, of praise and thanksgiving, not a theatrical event. Besides this, most of the time during the liturgy as a whole, and most of the time even during the Eucharistic prayer, the presider speaks in the first-person plural on behalf of the gathered assembly. It is only during the presider’s recitation of the institution narrative—and then only when the presider is quoting the words Jesus used at the Last Supper—that the impression might be given that the presider is acting “in the person of Christ.”

More fundamentally, since it is the common testimony of the New Testament, but especially of the Pauline and Johannine traditions, that we live in Christ and Christ lives in us, it is not clear in what sense it is necessary or meaningful for some members of the church to “represent” Christ to the others. This misappropriation of the Jesus role by clergy seems to require deemphasizing the real presence of Jesus in the members of the congregation, which might be said to be at the very heart of the Eucharistic celebration.


The church cannot remain exempt from the principles of its own social teaching. Catholics cannot bear witness to principles of justice, equality, subsidiarity, and participation, and claim exceptions for themselves. The question is this: Has the tradition of excluding women from the diaconate, presbyterate, and episcopacy really been faithful to the teaching and practice of Jesus? Or has it been part of a mostly unexamined and partially unconscious bias for subjecting women to men’s authority and power? Which is the more believable interpretation of our history as a people?

This is a very important question, one that urgently needs and deserves an open, prayerful, learned, patient, and discerning conversation among Catholics today.

And yet it does not happen. And so the crisis deepens.

****** And in 1977, the faculty from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley (including Joseph Tetlow SJ and Michael J. Buckley SJ) placed an open letter in he Los Angeles Times dissenting from the Vatican's 1976 opinion that women could never be priests. I can't link to the original letter but it was published in the LA Times on March 18, 1977, and Commonweal also published it (you must be a subscriber or buy the article to read it from Commonweal). In the letter, the signatories give four reasons why they disagreed with the Vatican document ... 1) the poverty of the scriptural evidence cited, 2) the lack of unison amongst the Church Fathers cited, and 3) the way the document tries to use tradition, but it was the fourth reason given that really touched me and so I posted it below, along with other bits of the letter ....

An Open Letter to the Apostolic Delegate

We, the undersigned theologians of the Pontifical Faculty of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley … wish to discuss the recent Declaration of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the ordination of women to priesthood which asserts: "The Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination." …. it is our judgment that the conclusion of the Declaration is not sustained by the evidence and the arguments alleged in its support, and that it could sanction within the Church a practice of serious injustice.


4. The sacramental sign necessary to act in persona Christi is to be located within the human person rather than within masculine or feminine sexuality. There is a legitimate concern of the Declaration that "the image of Christ" be perceived by the faithful in the priest. We do not see how women's ordination would derogate from this. On the contrary, the presence of women as priests, as well as men, could be an abiding sign to the faithful that all Christians "have put on Christ Jesus" and in this identification lies their hope for salvation. It is simply a matter of fact that the exclusion of women from priestly ordination in our day does not reinforce "the image of Christ" for a growing number of people, but rather symbolizes sexual discrimination within the Church.

The Declaration correctly maintains that no single person can lay claim to ordination as a personal right. The profound issue of justice does not arise because one woman has been denied presbyteral orders. The issue of justice is engaged when an entire class of Catholics is antecedently excluded on principle even from the possibility that Christ might call them to this ministry, so that simply because they are women it is impossible to admit them to this service of word and of sacrament. The exclusion of any group of Christians from a life or from a function to which they feel a call is so serious an action by the Church, it should be supported as an obvious demand of the Gospel. Any evidence should be overwhelming which makes discrimination an imperative. This Declaration does not contain such evidence.

The Declaration offers neither encouragement nor leadership to the growing movement for the rightful evolution of women within the Church. The emerging consciousness of women's rights is a major moral development of our times, and one which the Declaration positively acknowledged. Despite this recognition, however, the Declaration retards that movement and commits the people of God to abiding and exclusive government by men. In its decision, the Roman Congregation may well be repeating in its own form and through its insufficient sensitivity to the issues involved, such condemnations as those of the Chinese Rites, of the Copernican understanding of the solar system, and of the early emerging biblical movement at the turn of the century.

This is the reason that we write to you, Your Excellency. Roman Congregations have made serious mistakes in the past whose harm to the Church we continue to experience centuries afterwards. We believe that we may well be on a similar path again, and the effect of aligning priesthood with masculinity may identify the Church as regressive for millions of human beings in the future. It is our conviction that this Declaration, because of the faulty nature of its argumentation and conclusions, could impose a grave injustice on Catholic women and undermine the position of the Successor of Peter within the United States, continuing what has become a serious dissipation of his authority.


[W]e make our reflections public to support in their pain those who have read in this Declaration a decision that women will always occupy a secondary role within the Church. There is no question that some have taken serious scandal from this Declaration, that so decisive a document could be issued whose consultation was so minimal and whose argumentation appears so weak. Perhaps this letter can give hope to some who feel here a deep injustice, indicating that one can disagree without either leaving the Church or without a destructive bitterness and mutual recrimination …..

Why will these Jesuits not speak up now for women?

Saturday, November 05, 2016

SNL: Alec Baldwin & Kate McKinnon break character

I've really enjoyed the election series of Trump/Clinton debates on Saturday Night Live :) Here's the final one ....

Kermit: Shenandoah

I was reminded today of my cat Kermit and how I used to sing her songs when she was elderly and sick. She died eight years ago this month and was the last survivor of my original four cats. She lived three years longer than the others, reaching 18 years of age. I was very lonely after that and there were no pets for years until the stray cats started appearing.

Back then was before YouTube and one had to search for mp3 files online. I came upon a bunch of folk songs done by former Byrds member Roger McGuinn. I always especially liked him because he played a 12 string ...

But anyway, he's a lover of folk music and has recorded many folk song for people to listen to at his Folk Den,. The one I used to sing along to for Kermit was Shenandoah ... listen to it here.

Friday, November 04, 2016

President Obama talks with Bill Maher

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Pope Francis says women can never be priests

Pope Francis Says Ban on Female Priests Is Likely to Endure

The Roman Catholic Church’s teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests is likely to last forever, Pope Francis said on Tuesday as he flew back to Rome from Sweden.

Francis had traveled to Sweden for a historic ceremony commemorating the year leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. He was embraced at an ecumenical church service by the primate of the Church of Sweden, Archbishop Antje Jackelen, who is a woman.

Francis has said before that the Catholic Church’s ban on ordaining women as priests is a closed matter. But questions arose about his intentions after he established a commission to study whether women could be ordained as deacons. (Members of the commission were named in August.)

In a news conference aboard the pope’s plane, a Swedish journalist referred to Archbishop Jackelen and asked whether it was realistic to think that there might be female priests in the next few decades.

According to reporters who were on the plane, Francis responded, “On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last word is clear.”

He cited the apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, written in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, who has since been canonized. The letter said that ordaining women was not possible because Jesus chose only men as his apostles.

“It was given by St. John Paul II, and this remains,” Francis said.

“Really?” the Swedish journalist asked. “Never?”

“If we read carefully the declaration made by St. John Paul II, it goes in this direction,” Francis replied ......

One of the things many moderate Catholics do is temporize on issues that liberals care so much about, like women being treated equally in the church. They say ... "I'm sure women will be priests someday, the church moves slowly, blah, blah, blah". I wonder what will be the excuse of these Catholics now for doing nothing about this issue?

I've had many posts here pointing out that, despite most moderates' opinions, Pope Francis is *not* a liberal but a social conservative and a sexist. Few in the church share my view, but here's one of them ... It's time to be honest about Pope Francis and women

The pope's pronouncement makes official the church's institutionalizing of sexism. I predict that those who hold sway in the church - priests, bishops, cardinals - will do nothing at all about this. They won't stand up for the women of the church, they won't speak truth to power. Jesus would weep.