Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

International relations as high school cliques

What we call the adult world is often just an extension of high school. In the political order, especially, high school cliques persist.

The United States is the jock: Confident, swaggering, ready for anything; simultaneously brauny and friendly.

The Islamist terrorists are the gangs: Amoral, unpredictable, vicious; only hang out with like-minded crazies.

Canada is the geek (formerly called the nerd): Shy, slightly out of sorts, brainy, ardently wishes the jock would be nicer to the gang members, aspires to be artsy (see Europe).

Europe is the artsy crowd: Painfully fashionable, gossipy, and -- under the guise of individuality -- prone to resembling all the other individualist rebels; hopes against hope that the gangs will just go away.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Separated at birth?

Dr. Patrick Lee, Franciscan Univerity of Steubenville philosopher, takes his Aquinas shaken not stirred, and...

Pierce Brosnan, actor who deftly parlayed big 80s hair as Remington Steele into the biggest Bond since Roger Moore.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Separated at birth?

Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler, and...

Gary McKinnon, computer hacking criminal.

NASA: the Blanche Dubois of space agencies

NASA is starting to show signs of faded beauty dementia.

The word idiots comes readily to the mind. This story makes me mad.

Questions abound: What else but pure hubris or naked stupidity can explain why career nerds get to gamble with the lives of more astronauts? Is some sick higher-up bucking for Columbia II: The Sequel? And does NASA really have to keeping building shuttles that can't withstand being grazed by a chunk of foam?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Legend of Bagger's Pants

Everyone knows you can't play golf without a putter.

If you're born a male and later get rid of your putter surgically this is all the more true, as the Ladies Professional Golf Association ruled in declining to let a transsexual play as a women's pro. (Might have something to do with being able to kick John Daly's ass in a heartbeat.)

The transsexual's (female) name is Mianne Bagger.

Bagger. Remember I told you names were destiny?

Next thing you know, lesbians will want to join the LPGA...

Monday, July 25, 2005

China offs its young, now itself

We can all imagine 685 people between 20 and 35 standing in a large hall or church sanctuary. It's easy to picture. Now imagine all these people -- row upon row, score upon score -- trying to commit suicide.

That's the official number of Chinese who commit suicide every single day. That's a quarter of a million a year. An epidemic of depression and fear. And it doesn't include the much larger number of attempts.

Is it a surprise? Can you say "spiritual void"? A nation that kills its young through abortion (especially China's forced version) is a nation with no hope, no future trajectory to look forward to.

If abortion is understood as a modified form of suicide, this makes a kind of macabre sense.

Ten bucks says they don't want to be called Father

A group of nice older Catholic ladies (well, technically ex-Catholic at this point) rented a boat and went up the river this week and got themselves
non-ordained as priests and deacons. Yes, the press love this kind of story because they get to put the word defy in the same sentence as Vatican. But the curious part is the last sentence:

The Catholic church asked local priests not to comment on the event.

This likely refers to the local bishop, but my question is, Why can't local priests comment? If the teaching is in accord with the will of Christ and/or defensible to anyone who asks, isn't this debacle actually a teaching moment? Wouldn't it serve as rich fodder for next Sunday's homily?

Oh, priests can't comment. Meaning no disrepect, but I thought the best remedy for confusion is clarity. Is it any wonder so many Catholics become confused, stay confused, and then act confused?

What is not preached is not believed. Discuss.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Your name = your future?

I've mentioned my interest in the psychology of names. The Romans had a saying, nomen est omen, which means "names are destiny." In one famous American test, the exact same essays signed with with odd names (Elmer, Rupert, Edith, Sybyl) scored significantly lower than those signed with more regular names (Thomas, Brian, Susan, Barbara).

Experienced political campaign advisers know well how a candidates name can make the difference at the polling station, independent of platform or promised ideals. Most people who rather be ruled by a Richard than an Egbert. Of course, none of this is rigidly scientific. But anecdotal evidence is not the same as no evidence.

Have you ever noticed that someone in the news has a name that uncannily fits the event that made it he headlines to begin with? Yes, much of it is random luck, but I seem to notice a lot of random luck going around:

* The first man to be released from prison (from Death Row, in his case) because of exonerating DNA evidence is named Kirk Noble Bloodsworth.
* An Australian feminist theologian who writes about "God's feminine side" is named Dr. Carol Christ.
* The now-deceased head of the Catholic Church in the Phillipines was Cardinal Sin.
* Dr. David Precious of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a dentist specializing in cleft palate repair.
* The California spokesman for the Minutmen Project (the volunteeer group tracking and documenting the flood of illegal aliens entering the US from Mexico) is named Jim Chase.

Add your own to the list. Pay attention to the news more closely and you'll notice what I'm talking about.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Politically impossible TV show title

Think about this. Can you imagine a show titled Straight Eye for the Queer Guy that featured run-of-the-mill heterosexuals (not the macho cariacature) instructing gay men on the finer points of car repair, how to walk without a swish, how to converse credibly about rugby, or how not screw up a job interview because of a strong lisp?

Me neither.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Toronto cardinal sticks finger in dyke

...hopes for the best.

Meanwhile, earnest Canadian evangelicals join in the impotent group primal scream.

Come soon: priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams in jail for heresy against the All-Tolerant, All-Accepting State Religion of Canada(TM).

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

CBC: all gay, all day, every day, yes way

The CBC has taken great pains recently not to use the value-charged term "terrorist." But pure worship of Almighty Neutrality turns apostate when it comes to, say, reporting on Canada's shiny new "gay" "marriage" "law", which was officially crammed down the throats of all Canadians today. Gotta love the sidebar story titles: Forever and Always and Love and the Law, from CBC TV's The National.

How tender. No gay advocacy here, folks, just objective news reporting. That's it, just keep moving right along, nothing to see here.

According to our founding Prime Minister Sir John A. McDonald (that's Canada's George Washington, for my loyal Yankee readers), the Senate is supposed to function as a sober second thought regarding national legislative issues.

Today, in all charity, it became Paul Martin's bitch.

Slouching toward Stalin

Canada is starting to hit its stride on the road to totalitarian rule. I know it's tempting to think I'm exaggerating.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Apologia pro vita blogger

Rex Stultorum (sic) over at Let's be Reasonable has posed some thoughtful questions about a few seeming contradictions in my self-designation as a conservative/Catholic -- that whole thing.

In light of the Welborn protocol (in which any comments or emails are public fodder unless requested otherwise) the best way to enlarge opon my worldview, so that Seize the Dei readers may navigate my brain more easily, is to answer Rex point by point. Rex piggypacks on a complaint from a Mick (a name, I gather, not the derogatory term for the Irish) about whether it was appropriate to joke about religious stuff like the current French plague of locust and drought:

Now I, personally, think that you were making a joke, but a joke that is "informed by" your overall position on politics. That's fine; and I think that a person CAN be a devout Catholic and be willing to make jokes that have a religious theme -- even if those jokes actually BORDER on being a little irreverent. (I guess I mean that the joke would have to be such that only an irrational or hyper-critical person would suppose that the person making the joke were intending to denigrate what is considered sacred.)

I heartily recommend to Rex and to Mick to lighten up. I wrote it to work in a reference to frogs...oh, forget it. The point is, my sense of humor runs toward the puerile, the black, and the inappropriate. Fact. I am 100% sure some of it will be found offensive by some, or at least a source of scandal. For both I am sincerely sorry. While I do support the right to complain, if one is badly allergic to all forms of irreverence, better blogs for you are only a click away.

On the other hand, who knows -- it may be an occasion of grace for some thoughtful heathen to stumble on the blog and find that you don't have to check your edgy sense of humor at the church door when you become a Catholic. I leave it to the Good Lord to work out this particular calculus. While I never post to shock the reader or drum up controversy for its own sake, I do think some sacred cows cry out to be ground into hamburgers. If you recoil at the sight of precious oxes being gored, this is not the blog for you.

Oh, dear. Do I really have to explain that I do not in any way wish actual evil upon the French people, nor wish to make light of anyone's actual suffering? Or do I have to apologize for being viscerally annoyed with many aspects of what the French call culture? Start the list with their militant -- 'ow you zay? -- secularism, i.e., forbidding Muslims to don Islamic headwear in public schools. (Note to self -- a future blog idea...."why the French annoy," hmmmm.)

Ironically, France used to be called the Eldest Daughter of the Church. Scores of saints were bred in her picturesque towns and hamlets. One of my heroes is the French Canadian Jean Vanier who now lives in Trosly-Breuil, France. I've been to the country (mainly Paris and Marseilles), and it's an exercise in melancholy to see the shell of a once-robust Catholic culture. Cathedrals to take your breath away: ornate, sublime, empty. The sacramental husk seems to have been filled in by the spirit of Robespierre and the Jacobin impulse to stifle true religion. Hell, these people revere Jerry Lewis! Is this thing on?

But I think when the whole thrust of your blog is that you are conservative AND Catholic, but Catholic BEFORE conservative, the post does kind of raise questions like Mick's -- or rather a "sense" that in fact the "order" is the reverse.

I should have led with this, but since I'm chasing Rex, it'll have to go here. Being a good Canadian, I've tended to flee the conservative label, and not just because I didn't want my CBC/NPR/New York Times betters to think bad things about me. The more precise term, with respect to my being a Catholic, is orthodoxy. Ah, si, mis amigos, the great romance of orthodoxy. I could rhapsodize all day. Briefly, I accept the teaching authority of the Catholic Church as it comes to us from Jesus Christ through the apostolic Church, to the present day under, and with, Peter (currently, thanks be to God, Pope Benedict XVI). The word is from the Greek meaning correct or right belief. I believe that -- for all the sinfulness of many of her members (beginning with me), for all the crappy things Catholics sometimes say and do -- the Catholic Church is the prime repository of the Christian faith. To progressives liberals (not to mention non-Christians and good Protestants) this truth claim of the Faith is only arrogant, unChristian, nonsense. (This isn't the place for an apologetics epistle, but I can see one brewing. Suffice for now to say that Jesus promised to be a stumbling block for many; as the Bridegroom, so the Bride.)

My point is, "conservative" is a mainly political adjective, and it fails to capture what I believe a faithful Catholic ought to be, which is simply Catholic -- minus trendy appendages. I accept the c-word label when I think it's meant to suggest orthodoxy, but otherwise it's unhelpful, or rather, redundant. Yes, of course there is a sense in which the truths of the depositum fidei that are "conserved" through the ages by the Holy Spirit. But while Christian doctrine can and does develop over time, becoming more and more explicit and "wider," none of it can ever pretzel itself over time into a flat contradiction. Hence the Church is inherently progressive in the sense that she is open to all legitimate development -- deepened specificity -- of Christian doctrine.

It is reasonable to assume that your post reflects on your part a judgment against the French. It is reasonable to assume that your judgment against the French is rooted in your conservative stance -- most notably a support for O.I.F. Pope John Paul II was MORE opposed to O.I.F. than anyone in the French government. So perhaps it might be said that your post, for those reasons, seems to suggest that you'll toss out the Catholic, when the conservative demands it.

Nice try, Rex. Close, but no hand-rolled Cohiba. First, we need to tone down the supercharged language a bit. I don't sit around getting frothy at the mouth because of some big Judgment Against the French. I almost never think of them, except, say, when one of them sucker-punches a non-French Tour de France racer.

Second, please provide chapter and verse from speeches, recorded off the cuff remarks, or any published documents that prove that Pope John Paul II was MORE (sic) opposed to the US liberation of Iraq than anyone in the French government. (Hint, don't waste your time.) This is a favorite liberal ploy, and I mean that as a description, not an indictment. Pope John Paul the Great took a principled stance against the American intervention. That is true. And believe me, I didn't arrive at any conclusions without keeping this Big Fact before me at all times. But here is the part that's hard for progressives liberals to accept: Catholics are not bound in conscience to follow the human opinion of any Sovereign Pontiff in a matter of prudential judgment, especially one as twisty-turny as the history of Iraq in the last 30 years, leading up to the last 12.

The rape rooms are gone; 50 million people can now vote; the torture and humiliation of Iraqi atheletes is over; the Batthist thugs no longer show up at 2 am for tea; Iraq's weaker neighbours no longer cower; a tyrant and his sadistic offspring are finished. There are challenges ahead and democracy will not easily sprout in a people who've lived under a boot heel for 30 years. But I'm grateful to God for the liberation. So is the courageous Catholic Bishop of Baghdad.

This papal-Iraq disagreement is not the same as good ol' leftist dissent from authentic Catholic doctrine. Liberals love to crow, "See, scratch Mr. Conservative and you'll find a dissenter!" But the two cases are not equivalent. According to the Catechism (2309) says, "The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good." How on earth can any Pope correctly discern the myriad intelligence reports (some of which, admittedly, seem to have been inaccurate), the historical and real-time elements of threat to Iraq's neighbours, Saddam Hussein's notorious penchant for sadism against enemies of the state, and all the manifold ingredients that went into a strategic military decision?

Don't forget, the late Holy Father also had spiritual responsibility for millions of Catholics living dangerously in Muslim lands. It would have been grossly imprudent of him to jump up and shout "go team" for any western (read Crusader) action in the Islamosphere. Meaning no disrespect, but if I was shot at close range by a Muslim, I'd be shy to stare down the rest of his fellow fanatics, too. (It's not unreasonable to conclude that John Paul II's rather soft stance on Islamofacism stemmed partly from his being a victim of Mehmet Ali Aga's terrorism.) One more thing: keep in mind that the "official stance of the Holy See," or of a papal spokeman, or of Euroweenie Curia members who get interviewed on CNN aren't to be confused with binding Catholic teaching.

On the matter of a Pope's explicit disagreement with any given war, I offer you the words of a certain Bavarian prelate now living in Rome. These were written in June 2004 in a memo to Cardinal McCarrick, and later made public:

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

This is the mind of Benedict XVI about the mind of John Paul II. Re-reading that last sentence of His Holiness is warmly recommended.

Now Patrick, I realize that the "case" I just offered above is FULL of ASSUMPTIONS, and claims to "reasonableness." An assumption can be reasonable and still be incorrect. Are any of those assumptions incorrect? If so, then which? And as for my allegations of "reasonableness," I would maintain the it's the avowedly conservative character of your blog that gives those assumptions their reasonableness. That is, when one says "I'm a conservative," I think it's reasonable to infer that they support President Bush's policies, including O.I.F. Do you think this inference is unreasonable? If so, then why?

The short answer is, you lost me. On President Bush, no, I do not "support his policies," if by "his policies" you mean all his policies. To take one example, while I find a lot to admire about the man and his courage, I think he's out-to-lunch on the porous US/Mexican border issue. Don't get me started. I also wish he'd stop saying things like, "there will be no litmus test with respect to my nominatons for Supreme Court." Yeah, as if. But Rex, by using terms like "avowedly conservative" you make it sound like I have this allegiance-born need to "keep conservative no matter what" as if some weird set of Rush Limbaugh-colored glasses blind me to see the world as it is. On the contrary, I'm just a person who, coming from a decidedly liberal background, looks out on the world armed with personal experience, knowledge of logic, and ongoing study of theology and philosophy, and above all with his faith in Jesus Christ -- a faith that was jumpstarted in a conversion from Catholicism Lite of the 1960s and 70s catechetical ethos. To quote someone I can't quite remember, I got mugged by reality. And seduced by the grace of God poured out in Christ Jesus.

But I prefer the term "Progressive" to the term "Liberal."

Yeah, when I was a liberal I preferred progressive, too. It's nicer. More dialogish and forward-sounding, as opposed to the staid 'n stodgy dogmatism of the past, eh. But the term "progressive," while grabbing frantically for the moral high ground of appearing enlightened, open-minded and tolerant, is not nearly as honest as "liberal." To me, "permissive" covers both.

All I want to be is a Catholic; adjectives be hanged. I pray to be at the Lord's disposal and consider it a great grace to live in the bosom of the Church -- from the heart of the Body of Christ -- and to do my little bit in happy obedience to the authority of Christ and His Church. I happen to accept all that the Church teaches because of the glory of Him -- perfect Truth and Life -- who suffered and died to found, sustain, and protect her (in matters of faith and morals) from all error.

Sorry, but the cafeteria model of Catholicism is nothing more than the embarrassing hangover that lingers from the drinking binge that was the 1960s. It produces no vocations, no permanent marriages, no bracing adventure to undertake; and it gave us feminist nuns, the gay priest scandal, weakened bishops, vapid liturgies, and offered the evil of abortion a nice place to lie down and rest.

In Peter Kreeft's memorable turn of phrase, the Church is our Mother, not the lunch lady.

I hope this helps clarify the intersection between Catholic and conservative here at Seize the Dei.

Bush has a pair proven by his pick of DC Circuit Judge Roberts for the Supreme Court: Legal counsel to Ronald Reagan; clerk to Chief Justice Rehnquist; distinct constructionist approach to the US Constitution; has argued that Roe v Wade was poorly argued and ought to be overturned.

The old saw says that conservatives irrationally focus on one issue when voting. Funny that "one issue" dominates the news of Judge Roberts' nomination today.

Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer -- better stock up on Maalox. It's going to be a long night.

CBC meltdown chugging along nicely

It's sometimes sweet to utter those venerated Grade Seven words, toldja so. I said in an earlier post that the BBC is the ideological mother of Canada's CBC. Well, here is an internal memo dated today from CBC editor-in-chief Tony Burman.

The gist is shown in this passage:

Terrorism generally implies attacks against unarmed civilians for political, religious or some other ideological reason. But it's a highly controversial term that can leave journalists taking sides in a conflict.

Praise the Lord and pass the Kool Aid. God forbid the CBC be found guilty of taking sides in a conflict.

The "neutral" journalistic approach, apart from being fraudulent to begin with, is highly selective. Do a LexusNexus search of "CBC" and "President Bush" (or "Newt Gingrich" or "Iraq War" or "Fox News" or "pro-life") and you'll find plenty of morally charged adjectives emanating from the good old CBC. Hat tip to Kathy Shaidle.

Monday, July 18, 2005

God late in getting around to dealing with the French

A couple of biblical-style plagues have descended upon the land of Jacques "my dad can beat up Blair's dad" Chirac.

No sign yet of the frogs.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Do ya think NPR will interview this guy?

Imagine you're in the Army, and you're standing on a sidewalk on a scorching Baghdad day in June, and you suddenly get shot in the chest -- BOOM -- by an insurgent sniper. You're knocked to the pavement from the impact, but you're not dead. Instead, you get back up, and when you discover that the guy who just tried to kill you is himself injured by gunfire, you secure his position, cuff him and give him medical care. Unbelievable.

The link shows a few minutes of video footage taken by the insurgents themselves. Note the creepy Religion of Peace(tm) prayers excitedly chanted as the snipers see the soldier go down.

Bittersweet day for golf

The man I grew up watching play the greatest game on earth walked away from competitive playing today. How fitting that Jack Nicklaus, the "Golden Bear," should sink his last putt for birdie before the massive British Open audience that jammed the 18th green at historic St. Andrew's in Scotland.

This year was his annis horribilis. As he was making the decision to retire from the game he played for almost 50 years, and plagued by a fading ability to score low, he lost a toddler grandson to accidental drowning a few months ago. I'm not sure if Nicklaus is a Christian, but I sure admire his class, his deferential humility, and his strong devotion to his family. Along with his long-time rival Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus brought golf into the international television spotlight. The Bear set the bar of excellence for the Tiger.


Happy retirement, Jack, and God bless you richly. This Canadian kid looked up to you his whole life. Now if you'd just start designing courses without sand traps and water hazards, I'd really appreciate it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ho. Lee. Sh*t.

First we learned this.

And now this.

Interesting that we now have a new N-word.

Poor baby

If I were a terrorist, the place I'd fear most is the camp at Guantanamo Bay, where they treat you like a college freshman at a hazing. The carnage! The horror!

Names are destiny

You'll come to notice my interest in names, and how names are often unconscious clues to one's destiny. Take Louise Slaughter for example. Ms. Slaughter is a staunchly pro-abortion Democrat, well-loved by Planned Parenthood for her devotion to the uninterrupted destruction of unborn babies.

Now she's terribly excited about an American Red Cross study that found certain pollutants in the blood of babies in utero. Talk about a jolt of rhetorical energy for the abortion industry. But what's missing from the piece is any sense of context. How many umbilical cords were studied, and from which socio-economical backgrounds? How many similar such "pollutants" are found in the blood of the average adult?

But you know none of this matters. The study will be used by the disciples of Moloch one more reason to clean up that most dirty of environments, the human womb.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Separated at birth?

Johnnie Depp, in an accidental (?) homage to Michael Jackson in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,


Audrey Tautou, French star of the irritating cute Amelie.

A note about the Michael Jackson thing. A case could be made that it's deliberate. Tim "No Man Can Take From Me the Title Most Overrated Director" Burton has tied a few threads together for marketing purposes. First, he has Mr. Depp in a foppish top coat, with silky jet black hair, pasty white makeup, and -- how you say -- a voice lacking a certain level of testosterone. Does not the Factory bring to mind a kind of Neverland for chocoholic kids?

Which brings us to Burton's casting of Freddie Highmore, the British child actor who played Peter in...wait for it...Finding Neverland, which also starred Johnnie Depp.

How shrewd this is will soon be revealed in the box office listings in the trades. If this remake of the 1971 Gene Wilder classic flops, as all men of good will should hope, someone should remind Mr. Burton about what exactly Michael Jackson was accused of, and, in the grand tradition of O.J. Simpson-style innocence, acquitted of.

Seize the Dei readers are warmly encouraged to send along other Separated at Birth pairs.

Rosie: forgotten but not gone

You might remember a corpulent comedienne from the 90s who later lost her mind, a lawsuit, a ton of dough on a Broadway flop, not to mention millions of fans. Yes, Rosie O'Donnell is in my hometown of Halifax this week, gushing over the glories of gayness and the evils of Bush.

Every time she opnes her mouth, Bush gets more appealing.

Boy, for the sake of a pat on the head by a has-been celebrity, some Canadians are willing to ignore just about anything. Like when Rosie angrily told an employee undergoing chemotherapy that "liars get cancer."

Or when she ambushed guest Tom Selleck on her show for his NRA support, before it was discovered she authorized her own bodyguard to carry a concealed weapon. (I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning: Guns and gun owners are evil, unless they're protecting your own bacon.)

Or when she had a doll called Baby Go Boom on her show, which, when it was writhing on the studio floor, she commanded a dog to chew up the baby having the seizure. Really funny stuff, especially for families with epileptic children.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Inside the Islamist mind

I cannot feel for you because I believe you are an infidel." So said Mohammed Bouyeri, the hijacker of the Religion of Peace murderer of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh. His tender words were directed at Anneke Van Gogh, the grieving mother of the murder victim, who sat nearby in the Amsterdam courtroom. "I take complete responsibility for my actions," the 27-year-old Dutch-Moroccan national went on. "I acted purely in the name of my religion."

Which religion, uh, was he referring to? It's can't be Islam, which, we're told the highest number of times before infinity, takes a dim view of such inappropriate behavior.

You know you live in troubled times when a common sense description of the obvious is called "provocative" and "controversial;" namely that Islam provides good soil for terrorist weeds. The inimitable Mark Steyn writes that the Islamist threat will get far worse before it gets better as long as moderate Muslims avoid confronting the radicals in their midst.

How about calling them "the loud London noise people"?

As far as political correctness run amok objective neutrality goes, the England's BBC is the ideological mother of Canada's CBC. The word terrorist shalt not be applied unto the Islamist individuals who blow themselves and dozens of innocent working-class Londoners so horribly that it takes days to identfy the bodies.

When will they ever learn?

If there's an upside, it's that it appears that the terrorists (sorry, old chaps) are dead and not sitting around Covent Garden planning more festivities in Allah's honour.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Poverty, yeah, sure.

A popular bromide circulated by the media, the academy, and among some politicians, is that terrorism is caused by poverty. The poor, it is said, have no tanks. So they strap bombs to their poverty-racked bodies.

Then why do well-to-do, educated, middle-class Englishmen make such excellent recruits?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Profundities for a Friday afternoon

I lay before you five questions that continue to vex and challenge us all:

1) Why precisely do fools fall in love?

2) Did Joanie really love Chachi or were they just actors pretending?

3) Regarding magic in a young girl's heart: is this even possible?

4) In what sense is Saturday night all right for fighting? Is this primarily a reference to fistcuffs or does it apply to all weekend warfare? And does "all right" mean morally permissible or merely pleasurable?

5) Regarding the children: do you believe they are, in fact, our future? And if you teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside, and the like, what can realistically be expected?

FriggING movies

What's with Hollywood's fetish for movie titles made from a present participle followed by the name of the main character? Talk about a trend thatr's ready for retirement. Anyone else notice this? Believe me, this is only a partial list:

* Finding Nemo
* Serving Sara
* Delivering Milo
* Finding Forrester
* Killing Zoe
* Finding Neverland
* Saving Private Ryan
* Remembering the Titans
* Bringing Down the House
* Sleeping With the Enemy
* Raising Helen
* Waiting for Guffman
* Being John Malkovich
* Kissing Jessica Stein
* Finding Graceland
* Being Julia

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The one deadly sin more common than lust

The blogosphere has, in many quarters and for perfectly valid reasons, become litle more than an angry hornet's nest. Yes, a fallen world such as ours -- the Church's human foibles not excepted - creates plenty to be angry about. The trick is to continually ask our Lord to purify our anger, and to ask him to discern whether there are any deeper roots to that anger, which may need to be faced and resolved.

Ronda Chervin serves up a dose of medicine that convicts as much as it illuminates on the issue of anger. (See the anger management link.) Thank God for earthy Jewish wisdom.

Lust and anger can often team up for a rather self-destructive dance. In a provocative essay on the eroticization of rage, Dr. Patrick Carnes says that anger can fuel sexual obsession, especially in cases of betrayal and jealousy. NB: This link contains frank discussion of delicate problems related to sexuality.

New York, Madrid...and London

A question to ponder: Will the English respond like America or like Spain to being used like human pinatas? Something tells me Londoners, including its Muslims, were enjoying the respite from the IRA bombings of the 70s and 80s. Al Qaeda may have picked the wrong crusader to bully this time.

Let us pray or the victims, for the British medical teams, for Prime Minister Blair, and say an extra prayer for the butchers who did this.

And plug your ears in advance for the deafening roar of universal Muslim condemnation of what was done today in the name of the Religion of Peace.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Roman Chaotic Church of Canada

When the priests and bishops can't speak with one voice on issues that a 10-year-old can understand clearly, when Holy Communion is treated like a political football (by Catholic politicans, that is, not Church leaders protecting our Lord's eucharistic integrity) no wonder the Church looks petty, disorganized and irrelevant.

Then there are these words from a Bavarian prelate now residing in Rome:

5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

According to Archbishop Marcel Gervais, who unfortunately (deliberately?) conflates the same-sex marriage issue with abortion, the following phrases are "not all that clear":

"not to present himself for Holy Communion"..."objective situation of sin"..."will otherwise be denied the Eucharist."

To paraphrase David Bowie, Let's Parse:

Refusing communion to a leader of Parliament is serious to the extreme.

Interesting that it's not phrased the other way around: "actively supporting the barbaric crime of abortion is serious to the extreme."

I, like most other bishops, would not entertain such a thought without the backing of my brother bishops, or without prior communication with the Holy See.

Show of hands: how many think Bishop John Fisher or St. Thomas More spent a lot of time "finding consensus" before acting against King Henry XIII's injustices? No bishop requires prior communication with the Holy See before declining Holy Communion to those who obstinately and publically persist in grave sin.

To him (Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary) the PM is a federal politician.

One sense the sneering presence of the word mere before "federal politician," i.e., Bishop Henry is cold and calculating.


To me he is also a faithful member of my cathedral parish.

For I am meek, and humble of heart.

He did not personally bring his party to adopt this policy.

Oh, no, he fought it tooth and nail.

He has come to the conclusion that it is according to the plan of God for him to accept to be the leader of his party and, in this arena, it is acceptable for him to represent its policies.

Said the German bishop of the Nazi parishioner.

As the leader of the party in power, he believes that his personal opinion is not relevant to his role as leader.

Just curious: would that also apply to the opinion that, say, blacks or gays are inferior?

While I do not agree either with his argument or his conclusion on same sex marriage, I do not think, at this time, his position merits refusing him communion.

I'm okay, you're okay, he's okay. Any questions?

They make everything we wear...

...and they shove "recalcitrant" bishops into jail cells. Seize the Dei hopes China will be to Benedict XVI what the Soviet Union was to John Paul the Great.

Right in Canada = Left everywhere else

For all our pride in being citizens of the world, connoisseurs of the BBC World News, and general cosmopolitan in our interests (unlike the self-absorbed Americans), Canadians, if you'll pardon the pun, can be awfully provincial. The Conservative Party in Canada, the main political opposition to the now-ruling Liberal Party, gets routinely labelled "far right" and "extremist" and it leader Stephen Harper is feared and loathed as a "right winger" by The Toronto Star/GlobeandMail/CBC media juggernaut.

Guess what? Compared to similar countries around the world, the presupposition is false. And someone smarter than me proved it. A sample from Professor James Allan:

“In global terms, it's simply not true. Take today's Tories and Stephen Harper out of Canada and plunk them in New Zealand and they would be to the left of Helen Clark's Labour government.

“The same goes for Australia. Compare the policies of the left-wing Labour Party there (on defence, immigration, the environment, health, education, you name it) to Canadian Tories' policies and Harper consistently stands to the left of Australian Labour, not the right.”

“All I can say to that is that people down in Australia and New Zealand, even in the U.K., must be made of sterner stuff, they would never rejoice in such self-emasculation. Thank God for the natural beauty of Cape Breton and Algonquin Park. As for the politics, Canadians clearly deserve what they get.”


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Hey hey, ho ho, sanctimony has got to go!

Canadian Ambassador to the United States, Frank McKenna, has stretched the definition of ambassadorship farther than Reed Richards after a good night's sleep. My Home and Native Ambassador told The Toronto Star (Canada's largest leftie newspaper) that the one million or so Canadians living in the "Canadian diaspora" are in need of his ammo when debating those pesky Americans.

But most importantly, he says, Canadians in the U.S. should counteract Fox News, alleging that the network often spreads disinformation and creates a false picture of his homeland.

"We know we're a bit of prey for the Fox News type of shows," he told the Star.

The ambassador said he has sent out 6,000 pieces of literature to Canadians in his battle with Fox, and plans to mail to some 100,000 Canadians in the weeks ahead.

McKenna said he launched this campaign because "having dinner every month or two with some interesting people is not enough to move" Washington.

"We have to be careful that we're not sanctimonious. We have to recognize the United States has assumed a different role in the world than us and it's a role we're not prepared to play.

"So we shouldn't be so judgmental about a country that has chosen to play that role."

Hey hey, ho ho, sanctimony has got to go!

"Prey for shows like Fox News?" Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Exhibit A of the classic Canadian paranoia towards views that don't jibe with the CBC protocols for Correct Thought.

Count me out, Frank. Does it not occur to you that Canadians live and prosper here thanks to the largesse of the United States? That Americans almost never bring up Canada unless a Canadian jump starts the topic? That Canadians working in the US generally love it here?

How about upping your dinner invite schedule to nightly? That'll surely move Washington. Sushi one night, then Thai, then Italian.

Yes, Frank McKenna is changing hearts and minds, one tummy at a time. Hat tip to Kathy Shaidle.

Cardinal. Sin.

Domenico Bettinelli makes a good point about Cardinal Mahoney's recent sycretistic Democrat pow-wow over at Our Lady of the Angles Mausoleum and Gift Shop. (Blogger is not letting me post a picture, or else I'm screwing up). Turn the incident around. Make it Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz (without the "interfaith" cohorts) and make the politician, say, Rick Santorum. An conservative bishop publically, er, praying over Republican mayor-elect?

Can't you hear the sound of a thousand ACLU lawyers having apoplectic fits over the destructon of the Thrice Holy Wall separating Church and State? But His Eminence not only gets a pass from his media enablers, but is praised as broadminded and tolerant. Talk about two sets of rules.

Is it just me or is there momentum building across the LA pews of St. Blog's and elsewhere to organize a petition to have Mahoney removed from his post? Every orthodox Catholic in Los Angeles can tell you a dozen horror stories. One doesn't take pleasure in saying it, but the rot starts at the top. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles will never, ever, ever prosper spiritually or morally under Mahoney, a prelate who may well follow the Law: Cardinal Law.

But, since the belfry tower at the Cathedral is made of both ivory and teflon, forget writing complaint letters to him. Archdiocesan spokeshole Tod Tamberg will only reply that the Cardinal is doing a wunnnnderful job (see the post below about the vice of effeminacy).

This looks like a job for B 16.


Monday, July 04, 2005

Dumb, dumber, Chris Martin

Live8 seems to have given suffering Africans the chance to revive sagging rock careers. Resident genius Chris Martin of Coldplay verifies my suspicion about Sir Bob Geldof's extravaganza: It was all about them.

I know we're supposed to get teary-eyed with appreciation toward the altrusim shown by these multi-millionaires toward poor Nigerians with cholera, but it's tempting to conclude that, for instance, Sir Elton John wanted to make fun of their plight with his celeb-studded party featuring men walking around dressed up as gorillas. Sir Paul McCartney injected a note of refreshing candor as to how important the suffering Africans are to him.

And don't get me started on the uselessness of Third World debt "forgiveness."

One thing's for sure. Live8 was the beginning of television's demise as the world's medium of choice. The Internet is killing not the radio star, but the TV star.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Blogging is often done on the fly, as you know. Which means from time to time I'm not above posting errata. Ergo, there should be no question mark after "physician present" in the second paragraph. And please ignore the "in" in the sentence ending with "tuxedoed men" in the second last paragraph.

I can hear the snide chuckles of veteran bloggers.

Legitimate sport or stylized sadism?

Is there a Christian defense of boxing? I've never seen one, and I suspect there is none. I know the "sport" allows poor and underpriviledged men to escape the barrio and the ghetto. And I know that auxiliary industries surrounding boxing (pay-per-view, TV rights, Las Vegas hotels, advertisers, the prize money itself, etc) create a fair amount of jobs. These results in themselves are good things. But it also attracts the gambling crowd, is notorious for corruption, and draws the kind of throng that differ, it seems to me, only in degree from the ancient Romans who cheered gladiators as they butchering each other to death.

Unlike other rough sports where injuries are not exactly rare (hockey, rugby, football) the whole point of boxing is to inflict harm. But no other professional sport to my knowledge is required to have a physician present? To injure is to advance. In fact, the more harm the better. A knock-out has much more cachet than a mere TKO (technical knock-out). The sport is riddled with brain injuries and longterm neurological problems. Every time a fighter steps through those ropes he knows that this could happen to him.

One pro-boxing publication alphabetizes -- and chillingly rhapsodizes -- the deaths of 26 young men who who died in the ring or after a severe beating.

Oh, did I mention I enjoy watching a good boxing match? My dad was a true-blue Muhammad Ali fan and I grew up watching professional matches with him (my dad, not Mr. Ali) in the Halifax Forum. I can still remember the salt taste of peanuts in the shell, the clear ding ding of the bell, and the atmosphere of fear and excitement as the fighters' names were announced in by tuxedoed men. I'm conflicted, I admit it. I believe boxing is immoral. It's glorified human cockfighting dolled up to look presentable. But do ya think I can manage to channel surf away if a match comes on TV? Forget it. I love the fights!

When it comes to boxing, just call me the Romans 7 Man.

Observed: War of the Worlds

I just saw two worlds at war. One featured a jerk played by Tom Cruise; the other, scores of mucusy metallic aliens reminiscent of the disturbing art of this man. Unfortunately, his influence on art direction in the horror genre has all but run out of steam. To be fair, Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds has moments of Hitchockian suspense and paints a nightmarish vision of a full-scale alien invasion in its parts.

But the whole is not quite satisfying. Part of the problem is that Spielberg and writer Josh Friedman (with David Koepp) handled overdiluted material. This telling of War of the Worlds is based on the 1953 Byron Laskin movie, which was based on the 1938 Orson Welles' Mercury Players radio drama, which was based on H.G. Wells' 1898 novel. This War is all worn out. What's left on the screen is a noisy series of clashes and chases with no major plot to settle on, and no hero to root for. Is it about the aliens coming to seed the earth with their own kin? Is it about Tom Cruise's bad dad's bad hair? Is it about a glum teen who's unable to bond with his absentee father? Is it giving long overdue praise to the microbes that no longer kill us?

The movie reunites Spielberg and John Williams (Minority Report, E.T., A.I., Jaws), with Tom Cruise (Minority Report), and with his long-time director of photography Janusz Kaminski (Saving Private Ryan, The Terminal, Schindler's List). There are the standard Spielberg themes of disrupted family life and weird stuff from outer space getting too close for comfort (E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and Dakota Fanning gets to reprise her waif character who's endowed with adult wisdom and patience (I Am Sam, Man on Fire). Speaking of Close Encounters, the sounds made by the evil Tripods in this movie were like demonic versions of the more pleasing musical tones of the huge spacecraft in Close Encounters. If the devil farts, it sounds like a Tripod. I'm just asking: Were all the other space alien names taken? Tripods?)

And I kept trying to understand why the teenaged son was so angry. I mean, his new step dad seemed nice enough, and his old real dad never jumped up and down on his sofa or lectured him about Paxil; and yet his face held a single glum expression. (Side bar query: Did Tim Robbins owe Spielberg a favor? Is that why he signed on to play the crazed bumpkin with a plan to fight back with his trusty axe?)

There is an odd (and possibly deliberate given Mr. Cruise's very public convictions) overlap between the vision of ancient aliens in W of the W and the bizarre teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. But I guess you'll have to wait until you're an Operating Thetan III to catch my drift about Xenu's big adventure those 75 million years ago when he seeded the earth with billions of folks and then, oh, ask John Travolta about the rest.

Enough has been said about the way War of the Worlds taps into post 9/11 anxieties about violent foreign invasions, and it's true. One character asks whether it's terrorists. What I appreciated most about the movie was the uncanny, almost dreamlike way Spielberg introduces us to the Tripods. They come not with Take Me to Your Leader demands, but with silent lightning and from behind foreboding cloud formations. You soon realize that any human effort at resistance will be as effective as using a peashooter against a hundred landslides. There are moments of dread, the most unnerving of which are the ones where you can't clearly see the aliens, only pulsing shafts of light behind a wall or glimpses of a Tripod tentacle.

Spoiler warning: And what can you call it but anti-climactic when the final demise of the dreadful aliens has nothing to do with the actions of anyone in particular? Picture Apollo Creed dying of an infected hang nail before Rocky can flatten him in the 15th.

Note to Mr. Spielberg (well, Steve to me): The two missing ingredients that would have added spice and viewer satisfaction are: a dash of comic relief (W of the W is relentlessly grim), and a much more direct confrontation between the Cruise character and the aliens in which he is transformed through the crisis. At the end of the movie he only looks more tired and just as likely to chuck another peanut butter sandwich against a window.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

How to be a manly man

Some years ago, I asked a conference of 350 Christian fathers, "When you became a father for the first time, did your own dad reach out to you--maybe send you a letter, call or visit you--to give you some comfort, support, encouragement, or advice?" Only five raised their hands.

At another conference, I asked 150 men, "When you were around 12 or 13, did your father ever talk to you helpfully about sex?" Only two raised their hands.

In over ten years of speaking at men's conferences and retreats in the US, Canada, and England, those percentages have rarely changed.

Men today haven't been fathered for generations. This father-wound has become an epidemic in our time. In fact, it's destructive effects were clearly prophesied in the last two verses of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5,6).

There's no shortage of junk on the market about "male spirituality." It's usually peddled, in the Catholic version, by a well-meaning priest who's never seen the underbelly of a Ford and who always gets out of the shower to pee (not that there's anything wrong with that). The ideal male in this version is a cross between Leo Buscaglia and TV's Barney. Then there's the secular version, which entails men's nature retreats, drums, chest-painting, and letting the Inner Warrior grunt at dawn on the forest floor.

Gordon Dalbey has found the golden mean. The United Church of Christ minister says it's attained by first recognizing that what he calls the "father wound" is as real as it is widespread in Western life; and second, by looking to Jesus Christ as the living model and exemplar of the masculine. Reverend Dalbey wastes no words in getting at the roots of this culture-wide epidemic. I'm going to revisit this theme because it's important, and more common than you think. The reality of the father wound affects mens' relationships with their wives, children, friends, bosses and employees. Unfathered men sometimes grow up to be priests where they are shepherded (sic) by unfathered bishops, both of whom are supposed to embody fatherhood. And yes, it also affects daughters as well. And Rev. Dalbey writes insightfully about that, too. In the meantime....


Friday, July 01, 2005

The vice that dares not speak its name

There was a vibrant discussion recently over at Domenico Bettinelli's blog about the vice of effeminacy. As Dom said so well in his post, this is the vice that causes people to seek pleasures and comforts at the expense of holiness and true spiritual health. Like the guy who not only enjoys a cigar, but has 129 expensive hand-rolled ones in his $200 humidor, or the lady who can't function without an hour-long Swedish deep tissue massage with aromatherapy every morning and a mocha latte served at at 211 degrees.

But it usually refers to men who adopt, deliberately or unconsciously, "effeminate" characteristics, which are, ironicially, virtues when found in women. For serious Christian men, it's a vice we do well to shun. It is softness and laziness, and lazy softness. It hates the cross or any nootion of self-denial.

But the vice of effeminacy isn't to be mistaken for homosexuality, or mincing around like RuPaul. It's the unnatural presence of the feminine where the masculine should reign. For priests especially, it subtracts from their vocation as "other Christs." There are so few salient models of real masculinity in the Church and the world, and so many of the faithful are looking for manly examples of leadership and self-sacrifice.

Where are they? The Protestant writer Gordon Dalbey has nailed the source and the solution to the crisis. For my part, as a public service, I'm expanding the list I gave at Dom's blog and I offer the following primer to spot the vice.


Sorry gentlemen, but you've got it if you:

1) overemphasize the n in the word wonderful; as in, “The chorale sounded wunnnnnderful.”
2) overuse the word wonderful.
3) overemphasize the s in the word pastoral.
4) own all the albums of two or more of these: ABBA, Barry Manilow, Judy Garland, Cher.
5) outsing others during Marty Haugen’s “Gather Us In.”
6) sing any Marty Haugen ditty with feeling.
7) are grateful that already schlocky “Glory and Praise” hymns have been inclusivized by The Committee.
8) wish Jesus had chosen dialogue over losing His temper when He cleansed the Temple.
9) will not enter the jacuzzi unless all four bubble jets are working.
10) overuse the word inappropriate, when sinful would do just fine.
11) feel that Paul Lynde was a misunderstood genius.
12) own more than five pairs of shoes.
13) know the difference between the colors salmon and rose
14) start every sentence that may contradict what the other person is saying with, "Well, for me" while lightly touching your breastbone with both sets of fingertips because you don't want to appear rigid, narrow-minded or dogmatic.
15) employ the word eeeuw. Ever.

What's in a name?

Sometimes providence fashions interesting coincidences. I've been asked about my choice for a blog title. Of course, it's a play on carpe diem (Latin for "seize the day," and dei meaning "of God"), but when I picked the Blogger template, I was draw to the design you're looking at. I liked the orange/blue look and the star reminded me of something vaguely subversive. Taking a second look at the word seize, it reminded me of the Russian word samizdat, maybe because of the quasi-Soviet star on the left. For a blogger, it's most appropriate. It comes from the Russian sam (“self”) and izdatelstvo, (“publishing”).

Samizdat was literature that was secretly written, copied, and circulated in the former Soviet Union and was usaully critical of practices of the Soviet government.

Samizdat began appearing following Stalin's death in 1953, largely as a revolt against official restrictions on the freedom of expression of major dissident Soviet authors.

Who knew?

Someone joked that since God seizes us, the title should be the other way around. To which I reply, Dei the Seize didn't have that swing I was aiming for.


I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I misspelled "feces of an animal from the Ursus genus." Actually, it's the English transliteration of the Hebrew phrase, "In the beginning," which opens the Book of Genesis with, ahem, a big bang.

My blog's beginning is not quite supernatural in scale but I've waited quite long enough to launch it, as, among other things, I couldn't in conscience keep unleashing too many more rants in my wife's direction. I'm going to start small and see what happens. Today turns out to be a good day to start. In the Catholic liturgical calendar, July 1 happens to be the Feast of Blessed Junipero Serra, the great Apostle to California. Ora pro nobis.

I have no idea if I'll draw a million readers or three, nor have I decided to go with comment boxes permanently as I don't have time to delete naughty words, referee angry disputations and generally police the thing. Time will tell. I'll make mistakes along the way, being an honorary Luddite myself. Work with me.

Speaking of me, I'm Nova Scotia-born but live in the United States (aka The States if you're a Canuck). My interests are eclectic, maybe to a fault, as a quick visit here, there and everywhere will verify.

But the thing about me that tempers all the others and provides the lens through which I interpret life, history, and current events is orthodox Catholicism -- a faith I was earnestly raised in, foolishly rebelled against, and gratefully returned to. My new bumpersticker sums it up. It's "I (big red heart) my German Shepherd" featuring Pope Benedict XI with his arms raised on the day of his election.

While I live in America, due north of Hollywood, I'll be posting fairly regularly on all things related to my home and native land of Canada. This puts me on the business end of two very different sticks. For when I talk about America, my fellow Canadians get antsy, agitated and angry. And what do Americans get when I talk about Canada? Bored! One item that did make it above the fold in US newspapers this week, however, was the shoving down the throa... er, I mean the passage of Bill C-38, the imposed invention of "legal" "gay" "marriage." Heavy sigh. One of the more depressing aspects of this cultural earthquake is the laissez faire reaction from many conservatives. More on this later.

One of my ongoing interests, possibly verging on intellectual fetishism, is Judaism. Start the list with their invention of Hollywood. This Catholic wants to stay as close as possible to the Jewish roots of his Catholic faith, and to learn as much as possible from the earthy wisdom of his "elder brothers in faith," in Pope John Paul the Great's memorable term. One way I do that is through membership in the Association of Hebrew Catholics, where the are goyim warmly welcomed.

Special thanks to my "alma mentors" in blogdom: Barbara Nicolosi, Domenico Bettinelli and Kathy Shaidle. Thanks be to God that St. Blog's is a simultaneously immense and intimate parish.

See you at coffee and donuts, eh.