Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Homily from former German prelate now residing in Rome

How would you like to hear this kind of homily at Christmastime, or any time? Pope Benedict XVI, if you can swing it, please stay alive for another 50 years.

Furry red and white hat tip to LA Catholic.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Jesus Christ is born

A merry and bless Christmas to all my loyal Seize the Dei readers. How privileged are we Christians to belong to an historic religion, rooted both in human reality and divine providence.

May the Living Bread of Bethlehem (Hebrew for "House of Bread") feed you in body and soul and live in your hearts most enduringly this Christmas, and have a great 2006.

I'm in Nova Scotia, where all is calm, all is bright...a magical place to enjoy this season of childlikeness (and true maturity). Like Him, let's be "little" and trusting in the coming year.

Monday, December 19, 2005

"Bareback Mounthim" a huge hit, except at the box office

While The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and King Kong (even The Polar Express in an IMAX re-release) reckon their profits in the ten$ of million$, the gay cowpoke flick has made a tiny fraction in box office. It opened on a pitiful eight (8) screens in big cities in its opening run. But it's already tapped to win Golden Globes and Oscars For Most Fabulous Everything.

I'm gay sure gay glad gay that gay the gay new gay Ang Lee gay movie gay has gay no gay gay gay agenda. No, gay no, gay it's gay a gay tender gay love gay story gay with gay universal gay themes gay we gay can gay all gay relate gay to gay as human gay beings.

GLAAD president Neil Giuliano says, "What Brokeback Mountain does is allow audiences to experience, on an intensely emotional level, how ignorance and intolerance can force people to deny their love and deny who they are."

Any questions?

Curt Shepart, director of government relations for the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian center, said "Brokeback" is different because "It's not self-conscious. it's not dealing with coming out of the closet." The characters, said Shepard, have no political agenda, and the film doesn't proselytize.

Allrighty then.

BTW, the two gay cowboys are names Jack and Ennis.

Jack. Ennis. Think about them names, pardner.

No unseemly resonances here, folks, move right along.

I guess Bareback Mounthim will get a pass this time...but is it not outRAGEeous that homophobic Hollywood dared to cast straight actors as gay cowboys? You watch-- this complaint will surface next time.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The most underrated sense

Our three-year-old and I went on a hike in the Placerita Canyon Park on Sunday. The airy smells of the mountain forest got me thinking about the sense of smell and how powerful it is. Norman Mailer said the nose is the writer's most important organ. I know what he means. Smells can reconnect you instantly to the past, can evoke memories -- or even abstract ideas -- with almost clairvoyant infallibility. You smell something and immediately you recall how you felt at that moment, even decades ago.

Think about the smells of the Christmas season: pungent pine, aromatic gingerbread cookies, sweet eggnog, and the homey scent of a crackling fire. Do they not bring you back to Christmases Past?

Smells that (I find) evoke strong past memories include: freshly cut grass; wooden planks that have been sawed with a table saw; Hai Karate cologne (I recently bought a 1969 bottle on eBay because my dad used to wear it); the smell of dry autumn leaves after you scrunch them in your hands; the damp moss on large rocks you find in the woods; cinnamon; newly fallen snow (yes, snow has a smell); Coppertone tanning lotion; gasoline; gym equipment; and brand new electronic products. They all bring me back.

What scents brings you back?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"Dissident theologians" forgotten but not gone

A has-been is someone who achieved some past level of fame or success, never surpassed it or translated it into more recent success, and so remains stuck in a time-warp. Think Adam West signing autographs on the hood of the Batmobile at a trade show in Toledo.

But this group of "dissent theologians" aren't has-beens. They're never-weres, still trying to make their mark on a world too dumb to appreciate their genius.

Maybe the needed beatification miracle from John Paul the Great will be the conversion of one of these folks.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Indulge thyself

Pope Benedict XVI has granted a full plenary Indulgence in honor of our Blessed Mother's Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. That's this Thursday.

Here are the basics of what you need to do, the conditions and benefits thereof, etc, and here is a pithy Q&A explanation on what an Indulgence is and is not, by Jimmy Akin.

Indulgences are one of those deliciously Catholic distinctives you don't want to bring up in the first conversation with a Protestant inquiring about the Faith. But a rich and grace-filled reality nonetheless.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Let me was Berkeley

Osama Bin Laden, devout follower and exceedingly popular model of the Religion of Peace [TM], may have visited the US back in the disco days.

What -- say it ain't so -- no Islamic country could make the medical problem go away? If the story is true, what are the odds that Osama ever thanked Allah for the Great Satan's doctors?

(And did it crack anyone else up to read that some Americans aren't too proud to play tourist to the funny-looking tourists?)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pope movie wasn't that horrible

ABC-TV is not known for warm or even objective treatment of Catholicism, but last night's Movie of the Week (MOW), Have No Fear: The Life of John Paul II, came off better than I expected. It's hard to know what File Mile Films producer Lorenzo Minoli wanted, and what ABC execs obliged him to want.

You can say the script was clunky, the crowd scenes had no more than a dozen people, and that they tried to jam in too many decades at warp speed. Welcome to the inherent limits of MOWs. But the production values were high, it was handsomely shot in Lithuania and Rome, and I thought, overall, the portrait of our late Holy Father kept a respectful tone.

Some of the scenes rang false, like the recommendation by papal secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz, that the Pope "absolve the Church" in America and try to flee from financial responsibility in the matter of the gay predator-priest scandal. Or the scene where the aging Pontiff keels over onto the papal carpet like a Douglas fir tree in front of a roomful of youngsters at Castel Gandolfo. I must have missed that one.

Watching one scene made my eyes roll with such force I could hear an ocular muscle pop. It's when Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador suddenly gets the behind-the-woodshed treatment from John Paul. Before you can say "liberal Jesuit," the gentle, intellectual Pope morphs into a stern authoritarian and berates Romero, "Your liberation theology is really Marxism!" Romero, with a tear delicately making its way down his face, tries to domesticate his agenda but John Paul cuts him off, "You are wrong! You must get right with the Church."

Oh, please. Significantly, this scene was preceded by one in Poland where the Pope jokes about misjudging how cold it would be. "Goes to show you the Pope can be wrong." After Romero leaves, his murder in the cathedral is shown, and then we see a contrite and embarrassed John Paul praying at his tomb. "Lord, forgive me of my sin, my pride."

Message? The Pope was as wrong about Liberation Theology as he was about the Polish climate. Off the cuff, I wondered to myself which Jesuit they used as a consultant. In the credits, there was Father James Martin, SJ! (Another Jesuit, Bill Cain, wrote the mercifully short-lived ABC-TV series Nothing Sacred.)

So in some ways, Have No Fear was John Paul II as The New York Times wanted him to be: personally friendly, but a traditionalist who was tragically out of step with the glories of modernity and What People Really Need to Hear From The Church.

The one golden element in the movie was the decision to cast German actor Thomas Kretschmann in the title role. You saw him in The Pianist and you'll see him in the upcoming King Kong. If his physicality was a tad on the GQ side, there were moments when he nailed the essence of John Paul II especiallly as a young priest -- not merely as a resemblance but as a quality, a similitude of being. Playing such a towering figure from his early 20s to his early 80s -- an impressive performance given the truncated script.

Next up, the Jon Voight version that airs on Sunday. Looks interesting. Pope Benedict XVI gave it a papal thumbs up after a screening in Rome last week, which tells you something.

In Canada, dyke makes right

You may have been following the Kafkaesque "trial" in British Columbia over the lesbian newlyweds who were declined the use of a Knights of Columbus hall for their wedding (sic) reception. The Knights even returned the couple’s deposit and paid for the rental of a new hall and the reprinting of wedding invitations.

Wasn't enough! The ladies ran to the British Columbia Human Rights Commission (can't you just see a naked lightbulb swaying in a smoky interrogation room?) and filed suit. It being adjudicated in Canada, the Knights lost.

Sounds like a total set-up to me. The all-wise, bias-free Panel accepted the gals' claim that they didn't notice the big picture of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the big crucifix on the wall, the gallery of past Knights of Columbus leaders, nor the framed photo of a guy named Pope John Paul II.

The two wymmyn were represented by attorney Barbara Findley. This is a picture of Barbara Findley:

Love the feather, Babs.