Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Uterofascists in a parallel universe

When I ran across, I had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn't reading Pandagon, or any of a plethora of other uterofascist blogs. The rhetoric at the real sites is such that you simply can't satirize it. The broadest (pardon the pun) parody is close enough to be confused with the reality.

Sidney Sheldon, R.I.P.

I was never a huge fan of him myself, but my Lovely and Brilliant Wife enjoyed some of his books immensely. What amazes me is how much screenwriting he did in the 60s for TV. Christina tells me that he wrote so many episodes of "I Dream of Jeannie" that he took to using pseudonyms to make it look like there was a whole writing team. My hat is off to anybody who writes that much.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ricki has it figured out

From the comment box at The Nightfly comes a simple summation of how to get along in the world:
I mean, crap happens. Sometimes you just have to put up with it. But you also have an obligation to try to prevent your life from becoming the crap that happens to someone else.

When I grow up, I want to be like Maureen

On her way to the March for Life, she reports:
I saw a bumper sticker on a woman's car: Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.

So, I prayed a rosary for all of her except her ovaries.

I hope she doesn't mind.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Five pieces of personal trivia

One Who Listens tagged me for the "Five Things You Don't Know About Me" meme, claiming that I don't post anything personal. Honestly, I thought I had put up so much personal stuff my readers would be heartily sick of me by now, but maybe I'm wrong.

1. I've taught five different languages in my time, including a two-month stint as a high-school substitute French teacher when I was 20. I actually went to school to teach Spanish and German, and I've also taught ESL. But the one I loved most was teaching weekend classes in Welsh for Bryn Seion Welsh Church in Beavercreek, Oregon. Most of my students were elderly, and wanted to learn what had been their parents' native language. That was 20 years ago, and almost all of them have gone on to the last great Gymanfa Ganu by now.

2. Most everybody knows I'm a convert to Catholicism, raised Baptist, but most of the time in between the two I was (believe it or not) a Quaker. When I was a teenager, I began to get serious about Christianity, and about the same time, I wandered by accident into a Friends meeting. (I was supposed to be at a different church, but I had the address wrong.) Since it was the Evangelical Friends, it wasn't all that different from the American Baptist church I attended with my folks, but it was just enough that my youthful need to be separate from them was satisfied. I continued to be part of several Friends churches in my adulthood, right up until I moved to Moses Lake, which didn't have one. I wound up going to a Baptist church here instead, which was good while it lasted. By the time I poped, I wasn't attending anywhere, but that's a whole 'nother story.

3. I was privileged to see Papa John Creach play in Portland not long before he died. He was bent almost double with age, could barely move around the stage, but gentlemen hush, that man could fiddle! I've heard (apocryphally) that he was the basis for the Charlie Daniels song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." I have to doubt it some, because Papa John was from Pennsylvania, but I don't care either way. That man could have out-fiddled the devil any day.

4. Since my early 20s, I have been hopelessly infatuated with Lauren Bacall. My Lovely and Brilliant Wife has been very understanding about this.

5. I've never owned a cell phone, a Palm Pilot, or a GPS. I have no intention of ever doing so. Despite the insistence of my kids, all of whom are more tech-comfortable than I am.

Now I'm going to tag My Reverend Auntie, Dani, Pilgrim, and Pastor Paul. Tell us what we don't already know!

Why men shouldn't buy their own underwear

Gleaned from Miss Cellania. It's really not very racy, but it's probably best not to watch at work anyway. Somebody looking over your shoulder could get the wrong idea.

Henry VIII would be proud

Then again, so would Nero.
The Education Secretary said today that there was no case for Catholic adoption agencies to be exempted from new laws banning discrimination on grounds of sexuality.

In an intervention suggesting that Tony Blair has been rebuffed by his own Cabinet colleagues on the issue, Alan Johnson said he was confident no children would suffer if the Roman Catholic Church followed up on a threat to close its 12 adoption agencies around the country.

His comments, on BBC Radio 4, came after The Times reported that the Catholic agencies would be given up to a year to prepare for the introduction of the new laws under a compromise proposed by the gay rights group Stonewall.

I really hope the bishops follow through and close the agencies. It's the same thing I said when Connecticut refused to allow Catholic hospitals not to dispense abortifacients. If they want our services, they must permit our morality. They don't have to follow it, but they have to allow us to. I'm sick of governments (and populaces) demanding our charities while spitting in our face.

Of course, now the uterofascists will bitch about how we're driving the abortion rate up. Not that they think that's a bad thing, but because clearly, we're hypocrites. Because we refuse to be hypocrites. Go figure.

(Side note: at the end of the article, it mentions that the Church of England is rallyng with the Catholics on this. Good for them!)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

How come we can't have cool feasts like this?

Today is January 22, and you know what that means, right? Time to toss the goat!

In the presumably lovely Spanish village of Manganeses de la Polvorosa, the entire village gathers to celebrate the feast day of St. Vincent Saragossa with food, revelry, lots of wine (naturally), and the centerpiece: taking a live goat to the top of the 50-foot church belfry and tossing it to the ground. (It's caught in a tarp at the bottom, so it's not as messy as it sounds.)

The origins of the part involving the goat are (as the saying goes) shrouded in mystery. One account involves a medieval priest who was known for providing milk to the poor from his own goat. Another has a goat sneaking up to steal the food the priest put out for the birds, then leaping to the ground and surviving to run for the hills. The authorities have tried to put the kibosh on the fiesta since 1992, but still the wine flows, the music plays and the goat plummets. (I don't want to think about how many of the critters, over the course of centuries, have missed the tarp and gone on to be goat paté.)

Being Catholic seems to be a lot more fun in Spain. Why don't we ever toss animals from towers on feast days? It's not fair!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Prayers desperately needed

It's for a five-year-old girl with inoperable cancer. If God doesn't do a miracle, she'll die. A little more information here. Please pray like mad.

Friday, January 19, 2007

And then there was one

"Papa" Denny Doherty, R.I.P.

(Link fixed. Thanks, Ken!)

"A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits"

I don't think Lazarus Long was thinking of blogs, though. As promised, poet Steven Hamilton's Verve and Verse is in the sidebar under "Prods." I've been reading him in comment boxes, and he's got talent.

Also, while I'm updating, Mike Barrett's book The Danger Habit has finally been released. I'm waiting until payday to score a couple of copies, but it sure looks good. Check out his column at on radicalism and ministry.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A change in tone

With the West Coast Walk for Life coming up this weekend (Moses Lake's is a week later; don't ask me why), I thought I'd mosey on over and see what the far-left Indy Bay Media had to say about it. Last year it was all about threats and hatred; this year there seems to be actual discussion, and nobody's calling for the march to be stopped by force. At least not as of this writing.

Especially heartening is the number of pro-life liberals who are showing some real courage in speaking out in this forum. I'll be interested to see how long it takes before they start being cursed and threatened by their tolerant, freethinking sistren.

"Art" is such a variable term

The Battle of Helm's Deep portrayed in candy. Silly and brilliant. A tip of the Akubra to Sheila.

Isn't she adorable?

Here's Mona Grace (usually called "Gracie") at her baptism Thanksgiving weekend. I should have put this up long ago.

Pardon me while I wallow in her sheer cuteness.

Thought for today

Actually, the wonderful Miss Cellania posted this as her thought for yesterday, but I'm a little slow. Theologically awful, but it appeals to my sense of gallows humor:
Centuries ago, sailors on long voyages used to leave a pair of pigs on every deserted island. Or they'd leave a pair of goats. Either way, on any future visit, the island would be a source of meat. These islands, they were pristine. These were home to breeds of birds with no natural predators. Breeds of birds that lived nowhere else on earth. The plants there, without enemies they evolved without thorns or poisons. Without predators and enemies, these islands, they were paradise. The sailors, the next time they visited these islands, the only things still there would be herds of goats or pigs. .... Does this remind you of anything? Maybe the ol' Adam and Eve story? .... You ever wonder when God's coming back with a lot of barbecue sauce? – Chuck Palahniuk

There are so many jokes waiting to be made here...

... I don't even know where to begin.
AMERICAN FORK — Police are looking for three pregnant teens who they believe fled a residential group home after attacking the home's director Tuesday, and then stealing her car and credit cards.
"Three of the girls, two 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old, hit the director over the head with a frying pan and then they took some electrical cords and tied her up and put a sock in her mouth and taped her mouth," said American Fork Police Sgt. Shaun Greening.
The home, which provides a place to stay for struggling pregnant teens, had four teenage residents at the time of the incident. The teens accused of attacking the home's director also tied up a 17-year-old girl.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A reply to SNAP

David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, was brave enough the other day to comment on this post about an accused priest from Yakima hounded out of his assignment as an associate pastor in Missouri. I think Mr. Clohessy's points and my response deserve a post of their own. (He was responding to commenter MP, who's a member of the Missouri parish that Fr. Mitchell was run out of.) Their words will be in italics and labeled with initials, to try to keep it from getting too confusing.

MP: I still think that you are innocent until proven guilty.

DC: of course. no one disputes this. no one is arguing Mitchell should be locked up.

If I see a man and a woman struggling in the alleyway behind my house, and he's got a knife, and she's screaming, I'm not gonna invite the guy into my house. He's 'innocent until proven guilty.' But I'm not going to be irresponsible and disregard the safety of my kids by letting him inside. That's simple common sense.

It sounds very well to say, "well of course he's innocent until proven guilty," but a look at SNAP's website contradicts this in practice. One of the first assertions it makes is that "most allegations of abuse are true," which leads directly to the assumption that most accused are guilty. There may be some truth in this, when it's children involved, although anybody who lived through the Wenatchee witchhunts knows even that isn't infallible. But we're talking about adults in most cases, and usually adults who stand to make money. But of course, nobody would lie for money, would they?

MP: Let me get this straight: somebody said he had "pictures" on his computer.
DC: Read the Yakima paper. No one is disputing that they're photos (not sketches, drawings, art), they're boys (not teens, not young adults), they're nude (not partially clothed), that Mitchell is responsible for them (A Catholic handpicked by his bishop to head the Yakima review board publicly admits this), that Mitchell had access to his computer AFTER the photos were discovered but before the police investigation began (thus, he had the chance to destroy evidence), and finally, that he installed on his computer some program that makes it much harder for police to track which website had been visited. (All of these facts have been in newspaper accounts.)

Okay, let's take this one step at a time. They are indeed photos. The age of the boys wasn't specified. They were naked, but not pornographic according to the FBI's standards. Fr. Mitchell seems to have admitted to the person who found the pictures that he was the one who downloaded them, but that person wasn't Russ Mazzola (the "handpicked" review board leader). It was a computer to which Fr. Mitchell had access, but he wasn't the only one who used it, apparently.

As for the computer side, there are several problems with your insinuations. First, there's no way short of burning a hard drive to ashes to completely prevent reconstruction of data, and the FBI has the tools to retrieve anything. That's their job, and they're equipped for it. Second, if Fr. Mitchell eliminated evidence, wouldn't it make sense to eliminate all of the pictures? Unless he's a lawyer or a cop, he's not likely to know what the dividing line is for pornographic material, so getting rid of the pictures would have been a smart thing to do. Third, privacy programs are commonly used for internet security. To infer guilt from that is no different from the old Puritan belief that if people pulled their shades at night they must be up to something sinful.

MP: The FBI came out and confiscated the computer and came back saying: "there is nothing bad or pornographic on that computer."

DC: First, the FBI makes no such determination. Those judgments are made by prosecutors. And many prosecutors are competitive (so they tend to 'pass' on cases that aren't clear 'slam dunks' with overwhelming evidence). Many are elected (and therefore cautious about taking cases that might be politically risky for them, like ones involving priests). Many are overworked and underfunded (so they gravitate toward easy, simple cases with clear victims, unlike child porn cases, where the victims may never be known).

I don't know how things stand in Missouri, Mr. Clohessy, but Washington is the most unchurched state in the country. There's not only no political risk in prosecuting a priest, but Zirkle's career could well be made if he managed to convict one. Even though eastern Washington (where Yakima is) is rather more religious than the more populous west side, it's mostly Protestants and Mormons, many of whom buy into the stereotype of priest-as-pervert. No, I think Ron Zirkle would have prosecuted if he had a case.

DC: The bottom line is that many wrongdoers are never caught, many are never prosecuted, and many who ARE prosecuted get off on technicalities, insufficient evidence, etc. Should this be our standard for the priesthood: you get to wear the collar and be around kids as long as you've never been convicted of a sex crime? That seems to be a particularly risky standard.

Well, Bp. Sevilla had Fr. Mitchell thoroughly checked out. Our bishop isn't a Mahoney or a Law; if he thought there was a danger, he wouldn't have given a recommendation to Abp. Burke. It appears that Fr. Mitchell was being supervised in any case. My guess is that he did something stupid, saw that the consequences were serious, and is unlikely ever to do it again. Nobody was harmed, and I very much doubt that Bp. Sevilla would have returned him to ministry if anybody were likely to be.

You mention the bottom line, but I don't think that's where it is. The bottom line, for SNAP, appears to be ensuring that as many priests as possible are branded as permanently as possible. Let me ask you this: Has any priest, ever, been exonerated in the eyes of your organization after being accused? Has SNAP ever said, "This man has been cleared of any wrongdoing and is no danger to children"? If so, I've never seen it, and I'd love an example. Your recommendations for how people should respond to an accusation encourage them to speak out if they think their priest is guilty and shut up if they think he's innocent. That in itself indicates how your group feels about the potential innocence of priests.

DC: Anything's possible. but do you really value the privacy of one educated, powerful adult over the safety of innocent kids? why take the risk?

Mr. Clohessy, my own pastor is on indefinite leave while a charge against him is cleared. (And it will be, if he lives out the year.) I believe there is no risk whatsoever in trusting my children to him, and I have done so when he was in active ministry. There's not that much risk for parents who are careful in deciding whom to trust. As for an educated, powerful adult, well, the priesthood is a hard, thankless, lonely job, and my hat is off to any man who takes it on, especially knowing that vultures like SNAP are out there watching for a chance to pin something on him. He's more vulnerable to you than children are to him.

An organization like SNAP could serve a godly purpose, I think, if it were as interested in protecting the innocent as hounding the (possibly) guilty. As it is, I think it's more a weapon against the Church at large than a support network for victims.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Get a rope!

Let the lynching begin.
The Rev. Darell Mitchell was in Yakima, Wash., in 2003 when he was accused of having nude pictures of boys on his computer. No charges were ever filed.

The Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, has in recent weeks - and as recently as Thursday - protested his reassignment to two St. Louis-area parishes. SNAP leaders said it was wrong of the archdiocese and Archbishop Raymond Burke not to tell parishioners of Mitchell's "questionable past," especially since he was serving at a parish that includes an elementary school.

"Children here are safer now, but Archbishop Burke should have removed him, never allowed him here and still owes Catholics an explanation for his secrecy and recklessness," said David Clohessy, SNAP's national director.

Mitchell told The Associated Press last month he was falsely accused. A message left for him Thursday was not returned.

The St. Louis archdiocese said in a statement that Mitchell's background had been evaluated before he began serving in Missouri, and Burke found him suited for ministry in a parish.

The statement said Yakima's bishop signed a certificate saying there was nothing in Mitchell's background that raised questions about his fitness for ministry. Archdiocese communications director Anne Steffens said the archdiocese had no comment beyond the statement.

Let me get this staight. Fr. Mitchell was accused. He was investigated. He was cleared. No charges were filed. So, naturally, he must be guilty?

Archbishop Burke doesn't owe Clohessy anything but a crozier upside the head.

Update: For readers like commenter Mary Pat, here's a lot of the reason this makes me so mad. I've found out more about my pastor's railroading, and it sickens me even more than it did back in April. Are these bozos at SNAP so desperate for bogeymen that they'll go to this kind of lengths to run men out of an already depleted priesthood?

A line I wish I'd thought of

I like Richard Gere. He’s kind of the Rain Man of Hollywood: His intentions are sweet and he’s good at specific things like acting, but when he talks politics it’s like watching “the special kid” eat mud: You know you should stop him for his own good, but you don’t because it’s kinda funny.

Go here to see why. Sure enough, it's a cringe. A/T to Relapsed Catholic.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

He may have blown a .31...

... but at least he wasn't disgruntled.

Ye shall know the truth

... and the truth shall make thee snort thy coffee out thy nose.

Check out the rest of the site, but pinch yourself occasionally to make sure you're still anchored to reality.

A headline worthy of Dawn Eden

On a story about the consecration of a church made of ice: "Freezing your Mass Off".

One more suffering artist

The art teacher whose off-time hobby consisted of painting with his butt has been... er... canned.

Want a hoot? The web page with his story is overloaded since the story broke, but here's a Waybacked version of how he got started.

The Mister Rogers you never knew

Sick and wrong. But I can't help laughing like a hyena in a dentist's chair anyway. (Language alert!)

Today's Spam Zen

I thought it was time to ponder another Spam Zen, since I haven't done one since October. For those who didn't see the last one, the idea is to take a random line from your spam and see what insights you can squeeze out of it. I tried to make this one lighthearted, but the line that I had to work with lent itselt to more serious reflection:

When the spider ruminates, the nearest lover beams with joy.

Remember how a spider treats her lovers? What she's ruminating on is almost certainly the last lover. It's the one not eaten that is beaming, simply because he's not being noshed on. There but for the grace of a full spider tummy goes he. This one represents one of the aspects of the human condition of which we should be most ashamed, yet it's almost universal: the relief of the person passed over by tragedy.

How often have we seen a tornado or a fire on the news and thought with a frisson, "That could have been me?" The thought we usually suppress after that is, "Thank God it wasn't." The same applies to any other misfortune: When we hear, for instance, that there will be layoffs at work, our first thought is to hope it happens to someone else. It would be great if bad things never happened, but if they do, it shouldn't be us that they happen to.

Partly, we think we really don't deserve the misfortune. I can't count the times I've kicked the bumper of my truck as it sat immobile by the side of the road and shouted, "It's not fair!" (If you'd ever seen my truck, you'd know why that's a common occurrence.) But is it really unfair? My truck breaks down because it needs some sort of maintenance. It doesn't get the upkeep it needs because I don't know how to do more than the most basic limp-it-back-home mechanical work, and I can't afford to have it professionally done. I can't afford it because I have a job that (although I like working where I do) doesn't pay very well, which I took because I really needed one at the time, which need in turn was driven by my single parenthood, which was a result of my early marriage and its failure, both of which I participated in. My choices of nearly twenty years ago have resulted now in my standing next to an obstinately non-functional truck muttering colorful violations of the second commandment.

Then, too, there's the question of sin. Even if I can't draw a line of cause-and-effect from some choice of mine and my current misfortune, I certainly have done enough other things wrong in my life to deserve whatever is happening to me and more. In fact, I've done enough wrong to merit Hell, and only the grace of God keeps me from the flames.

That grace is the ultimate example of the spam zen above. We may be passed over, like the Israelites in Egypt, but that reprieve comes at a price. A price for someone else to pay. As much as we may want to take personal responsibility for ourselves and not beam at another's suffering, the fact remains that there is no way we can be saved from the ultimate devouring expect by another taking it in our place. Jesus gave Himself to be the spider's meal, which is why we are not. We cannot have it both ways: avoid being eaten and be self-sufficient. So as much as it may gravel our pride to do it, the only response we can give to our escape from the spider is to beam with joy that it was Someone else. He wouldn't have it any other way.

Okay, I'm going to make it a meme again, and see if anybody takes it up. Specifically, I'm tagging Dani B, just so she can keep in practice until the next actual paid project I can send her. It doesn't have to be serious; be a smart-elbow if you like (it's more fun anyway). And of course, anybody else who is willing to take up the challenge is invited to as well. Let me know in the comments if you do, so I can link it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Baghdad Jim opens his mouth again

This makes my jaw drop, even coming from Congressman McDirtbag:
After their November trip, McDermott and LaMagna developed a plan they say reflects what Iraqis want. It would undo major pieces of the Bush strategy.

They want U.S. troops out of the cities and sent to close the borders with Iran and Syria. They want the Iraqi constitution rewritten and the former Baath party government, which the U.S. dismantled, brought back to run things. [Emphasis mine]

To protect the country, they say, the old Iraqi army must be reconstituted and rearmed.

More than 3,000 soldiers gave their lives, and McDipwad wants to throw them out with the trash. Is it so hard to see why I hope someday to see Eastern Washington separate from the coast, to get away from the sort of losers who would vote for someone like that? I'm ashamed to be even tangentially represented by him.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I'm afraid I may be one of the apes

But then, at least I know I don't understand it. Philosophy has always seemed to me to be just theology with the names blacked out. But my Lovely and Brilliant Wife has a lot wiser things to say on the subject.

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Will it make a bang or a wallop?"

I can so picture my oldest daughter doing this when she was that age. A/T to It Comes in Pint?.

And this little piggy...

... went Wii Wii Wii, all the way to the land of impaired eyesight. Whenever cool, whizbang technology appears, this sort of thing seems to follow.

A/T to A Welsh View.

But... it's just different, that's all!

An update on James Kopp, who was captured in France after almost three years on the run for offing an abortionist.
James Kopp already is serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder. Federal prosecutors contend that the shooting also violated the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Kopp, 52, also is charged with using a firearm during a killing, which carries a maximum sentence of life without parole. The clinic-access count carries a maximum life sentence.

Under his current state conviction, Kopp will be eligible for release when he is in his 70s.

I know a pro-lifer isn't supposed to say so, but I truthfully don't see any moral difference between what Kopp did once and what Slepian did for a living. Except that Slepian wasn't a defenseless, unarmed baby trapped in an enclosed space, and Kopp wasn't being paid for it.

The only honest thing for the federal government to charge Kopp with would have been practicing medicine without a license. I'd like to see open season declared on abortionists. If they're going to kill with government sanction, they should be subject to the same jeopardy. Fair is fair.

No need to curtsy

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
His Excellency Joel the Defenestrated of Burton-le-Coggles
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Thursday, January 04, 2007

"Roman Catholics today are that denomination who hate their bishops"

Wise words about contraception, orthodoxy and authority, from the priest who solemnized our marriage. Fr. Sam is an Old Catholic bishop, which means he's not actually in communion with Rome, but he still has a lot more respect for our leaders than a lot of their own flock do.

Operators are standing by

Given Bawbra's legendarily thin skin, I'd love to have seen her face when she saw this. Personally, I think he makes the crossover a lot better than she does.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Catholic Carnival 100

It's up over at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering. Just like everybody else does in January, the first carnival of the year includes some best-ofs, where we can submit our favorite post of 2006.

The one I sent in is from last March, called Found Out a Man Ain't Just Being Macho. I was absolutely gobsmacked by the response I got to this one, getting linked at places I'd never heard of and even at some topical page at Netscape. It still brings in more Google searches than anything else (except maybe the ones from the foot fetish people).

So I'm going to milk it one more time at the Carnival. Go check out the other posts; there's a veritable treasure trove. I especially identified with (and laughed my hiney off at) this account of Christmas with toddlers.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My wife... I think I'll keep her

It's fitting that this story should appear just after my Lovely and Brilliant Wife and I celebrated our fourth anniversary. So from now on, I'm going to stop hogging the housework. It's all yours, honey. Keep 'em healthy!

See how much I love you?