Oriana Fallaci Meets With Pope Benedict

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Written on 11:30 PM by Jack B.

Boy, would I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during this meeting!

MY Recent TV Viewing Habits

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Written on 12:09 AM by Jack B.

With all the mind-numbing reality shows on TV this summer, I've increasingly started to watch Spanish-language soap operas (telenovelas) and Japanese anime on cable. In both cases I have no idea what the heck is going on (even when the anime is dubbed into English the plot makes no sense) but it seems like everyone in both genres get overly excited and emotional over the slightest thing, the characters themselves are archetypes or even stereotypes without much originality and most of the shows' scenarios and plot-lines are heavily borrowed from previous (different) programs. Who knew Japanese cartoons and Latin melodramas were so similar?

For the most part though I don't try to understand what's going on but make up my own plots and dialogue while I'm watching. I can get pretty ridiculous and far out at times with it - that's what makes it enjoyable. You would be amazed at the stuff the imagination can come up with if you turn the sound off and just watch instead.

As for reality televsion...who needs it?

Haiku #64

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Written on 2:11 AM by Jack B.

O, first day of school
I both missed and dreaded you
Please come and go quick

Haiku #63

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Written on 1:00 PM by Jack B.

Hate going to work
I'd rather be sleeping in
But I need the cash

Haiku #62

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Written on 11:21 AM by Jack B.

What's a picture worth?
A thousand words or just one?
Or could it be none?

Sorry if the blog is taking too long to load...

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Written on 3:50 PM by Jack B.

I blame all those pretty pictures I couldn't resist posting.

Thoughts on World Youth Day

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Written on 10:20 PM by Jack B.

Take a look at the pictures below. See those people? See that pope? Don't they look solemn and happy and prayerful at the same time? Don't they look like they're enjoying themselves? Doesn't it make you wish (just a little) you could have been there too even if for just the experience? I know reading Stef's and Tim Drake's blogs from WYD and listening to Father Roderick's Catholic Insider podcasts and watching the coverage on EWTN, I can tell you I'm jealous I wasn't there.

Yet if you were to go by the media coverage (which in the US was barely a few seconds on the TV networks) the "Jesus" part of World Youth Day didn't exist. The reason that a million people turned out wasn't exactly clear. Look at the pictures and ask yourselves if anyone in the MSM understands what's going on.

It seems to me that no matter how WYD turned out, the media had their "angle" all written out already. Tim Drake reported on the early line that if too few Germans turned out then THAT would be the story (and this was before the Pope had arrived). Obviously this story turned out to be a no-go because a million people turned out for the final Mass (hard to say the crowds were that low if you can get a million young people under 35 to show up in de-Christianized non-churchgoing Europe). This was also an early line in WYD Paris (where over a million turned out in the most secular state in Western Europe) and WYD Toronto (where they said the sex abuse scandal would make turn out low - it didn't). Having failed in that line they went two ways - one is that Pope Benedict doesn't have the late JP2's "charisma" or "actor's style" and might not be able to connect with the young people (what do you expect from a guy the press was calling a ultra-conservative "Rottweiler" and "Inquisitor" right after his election). This turned out not be to be the case - even someone watching on TV could hear the calls of "Benedetto!" from the young faithful.

In the end the media went with the old tried and true. The old line that "Hundreds of thousands of youth came out to see the pope, but the majority don't agree with him on issues, especially on sex". I saw this exact thing (almost exactly as written above) on EuroNews after the final Mass. I also saw this line of thought on the BBC reporting on WYD. How they know the "majority" of those at WYD don't agree with the Pope, I don't know. Did they interview/poll everyone there? Of course not. They just think the young people don't agree with the Pope because the media doesn't and so that becomes the story. It was the story in every WYD under JP2 (and when he visited the US) and it became the story again. The media only want to talk about women's ordination, contraception, homosexuality and abortion. Tim Drake calls this the WOCHA mantra and how the networks are only interested in interviewing people who disagree with Pope. Notice how we always seem to get a quote from someone who thinks the Church is out of touch and rarely someone who agrees with the Pope? Think that's an accident? GetReligion wrote about this kind of reporting (and underreporting of WYD as a whole) after the event was over. The NY Times (big surprise) ran the headline "Mixed Reviews from Young Catholics for New Pope and led off with someone who "wasn't sure" about Benedict, several quotes from young people who disagreed with him on sexual and theological issues followed, those who were with the Pope were saved for the very end of the piece (literally). Take a look:

As with John Paul, who often spoke to young people about abstaining from sex, not everyone here agrees on specific issues with Benedict, known for his conservative views during his years as defender of the faith. Some Africans, for example, disagreed with the church position against condom use, a ban even in countries where the prevalence of AIDS is high.

"My own opinion is that condoms are a way to be safe because AIDS makes problems in Africa," said Divingu Dimelvic, 25, a student from Gabon. "But with time, maybe the position of the pope will change."

And at least one of Benedict's favorite topics - though he did not discuss it here in Cologne - had no resonance at all with two young women from Houston.
"Relativism - what do you mean by that?" asked Joni Magill, 18.

When it was explained that Benedict has often condemned the notion that all religious beliefs are equal, a 19-year-old friend who did not give her name, said, "We try not to judge others."

For many, though, Benedict's appeal lay in two key facts: that he is conservative and that he is following very much the same program as John Paul, who emphasized the role of youth in the church.
Melizza Mina, 29, a teacher from the Philippines who has attended four World Youth Day festivals, said that young people especially needed to hear a strict message. "We have more issues about sex, contraceptives," she said. "So this is the right time for him to address young people about their responsibility to be a role model to others."

A. J. Lara, 20, from San Diego, said he found another idea of Benedict's appealing: Benedict has spoken often about the shrinking of the church in developed countries and the need for Catholicism to cultivate a committed core of believers, a "creative minority." Mr. Lara said he saw that seed of belief in the hundreds of thousands of young people who came together to pray in Cologne, even if talking about religion back home would make them outcasts. "We have our teen-aged angst," he said. "A lot of adolescents don't feel like they have a voice. But the fact that the pope is focusing on a small group will allow our voice to grow."

And this in the wake of a million people sitting in a field cheering a 78 year old guy who the media has told them holds archaic and dangerous views and in one of the most secular areas of the world. This should be treated as a success for the Church, as a happy event for the youth of the world who got together and shared their faith with each other and a triumph for Benedict XVI in his first trip abroad. But for the NY Times the headline the very next day is about "Mixed Reviews". The media just doesn't get it. Colleen Carroll Campbell had a column in National Review Online which basically says "It's the message, stupid" but the Mainstream Media of the world seems obsessed with that WOCHA mantra instead. For them thats all the Catholic Church is about. Jesus? Who's he?







Haiku #61

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Written on 2:44 PM by Jack B.

Moon in the morning
How do werewolves handle it?
Do they hide all day?

Haiku #60

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Written on 9:32 PM by Jack B.

It's hit high and deep.
Back. Back. This one could be gone.
Nope. Caught at the wall.

A Real Tulip of Fashion

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Written on 7:50 PM by Jack B.

I wish I had taken a picture of myself yesterday. It was a perfect example of my normal (horrible) fashion sense. I went out in public in a blue plaid shirt (cause plaid is rad, yo), black polyester pants, white tube socks, gray boots and to top it all off a olive green army jacket with the collar up.

I looked like either the slacker prince I am or one of those homeless guys you see on the train panhandling. I'd like to say there's a method to my madness but the truth is I usually go throught my clean laundry and whatever's on the top of the pile is what I wear. It's usually used, it's usually retro and out-of-date and it's usually waaay unsheik.

That's what I like and it's way I'm probably not fit to end up in a suit and tie kind of job (which really limits my options). Not that I mind wearing ties (I have dozens of them) but usually only with tan, blue or red shirts. I own several suits and blazers too (I had to buy them when I went job hunting), there's just not much need to where them these days.

Haiku #59

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Written on 10:36 PM by Jack B.

Please, Red Sox, please lose
Yanks need to pick up some games
And our pitching sucks

Haiku #58

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Written on 10:49 AM by Jack B.

The T.V. rots brains
Why do I use it so much?
There is nothing on

Haiku #57

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Written on 8:38 PM by Jack B.

Bright lights on at night
All the fine young men scatter
Disappear in fog

Haiku #56

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Written on 7:57 PM by Jack B.

In life the simplest
Answers are never given
Questions never asked

Haiku #55

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Written on 9:40 PM by Jack B.

Quietly waiting
For others to declare love
Patience sometimes hurts

Haiku #54

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Written on 12:41 AM by Jack B.

In the clothes dryer
Why always one extra sock?
Mysteries of life

Haiku #53

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Written on 11:34 PM by Jack B.

Blood counts for a lot
When it comes to family
But love counts for more

O, Happy Day

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Written on 9:34 PM by Jack B.

Today August 4th 2005 is my parents' 32nd wedding anniversary and my sister's 22nd birthday (yes, she was born on their 10th Anniversary), in addition my mother got home from the hospital after having been there several days for blood tests (all negative, Thank God).

As my sister said there is great irony in the fact that 22 years ago today my mother also opened the day in the hospital. Thankfully both days have ended happily (though sometimes I have my doubts - those with little sisters will know what I mean). Right now, I'm sitting by the computer, the air conditioner cooling me down and a delicious Dunkin Donuts Iced Chocolate Latte at my side. It's calm and peaceful.

May all days be as nice as this one has (so far) turned out to be.

Haiku #52

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Written on 7:05 AM by Jack B.

Spend my daylight time
In cubicles without walls
Classes come at night

Haiku #51 -For My Mother

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Written on 12:13 AM by Jack B.

Not ashamed to say
I'm clearly my mother's son
Bound by blood and love

...And The Ugly

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Written on 10:59 PM by Jack B.

BBC NEWS Europe Dead babies find shocks Germany:
German police are holding a woman suspected of manslaughter after the bodies of nine new-born babies were found buried in a garden.


BBC NEWS Europe Baby remains find shocks France:
Remains of 351 stillborn babies and foetuses have been found in the mortuary room of a well-known hospital in the French capital, Paris.


This is just some sick stuff. I don't know whether to blame it on Europe or just humanity in general.

...The Bad...

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Written on 10:58 PM by Jack B.

Sometimes you find an article and you feel the need to post on it and then decide on reflection that somethings need little or no commentary at all. So it is, in my opinion, this "opinion" piece written as a theoretical letter to Pope Benedict XVI on the subject of the those women claiming to have been ordained Catholic priests (they may have been ordained something but it wasn't with any Church connected to one Benedict heads - that's for sure). I'll try to keep my thoughts to a minimum.

BONNIE ERBE: In support of the St. Lawrence Nine - The Sacramento Bee

Excerpt (my comments in red):

An open letter to Pope Benedict XVI:
Your Holiness: It goes without saying you will excommunicate the St. Lawrence Nine: the nine women who defied church doctrine last week in Canada by accepting ordination as priests and deacons. After all, you yourself in 2003, in a previous position, tossed out as so much religious detritus the Danube Seven - the seven women ordained on the Danube River in 2002. Included in that group were the two female priests who defied the Vatican once more and performed last week's ordination.

I loved the phrase "defied" as if the woman had any recognized authority to begin with and as if Rome is really scared. They could probably care less.

As a non-Catholic, I recognize I have no standing to make this suggestion. But as an avid follower of church history, it strikes this observer as counterproductive to be excommunicating the very believers whose devotion binds them to Peter's rock with the stickiness of gorilla glue, even more so at a time when church attendance and membership are dwindling in the United States and Europe.

As a "non-Catholic", the theology of the Roman Catholic Church and who it ordains and who it doesn't is none of your beezwax. You admit you have "no standing to make this suggestion" but then do so anyway. You should take your own advice.

(snip)

The numbers speak volumes. Even those who reside in the Vatican's back yard are losing faith. The Boston Globe quotes figures from the Catholic weekly magazine, Famiglia Cristiana, showing 97 percent of Italians consider themselves Catholic but only 30 percent attend Mass. "In large cities such as Milan, the figure is no more than 15 percent ... In France, where 76 percent of the population considers itself Catholic, only 12 percent say they go to church on Sunday."

Closer to home, USA Today reports that in the United States, "Today there are fewer parishes and fewer priests than in 1990 and fewer of the nation's 65 million Catholics in those pews. And there's no sign of return." And so on.

So let me get this straight. Since attendence is down (in the Western world, not in other places) the Church should just let people who don't actually believe what the Church teaches, who have no respect for the Bishop of Rome, who have no respect for the history of the Church or why it teaches what it does. Who only seem to care about themselves and the power (not the vocation to the priesthood persay) they want, the Church should hand over authority people like that? Who in their right mind would do so? And better yet, why do you as a "non-Catholic" care how many Catholics are attending Mass? Do you have a running bet on the over/under on the numbers or something?

The St. Lawrence Nine (eight of whom were American, by the way) and the Danube Seven love the church despite the fact they know church hierarchy reviles them. You could not fathom more devoted Catholic parishioners s if you tried. And yet, you reject them. Your explanation for denying women leadership roles in the church follows standard church doctrine: Jesus Christ was a man and therefore church leaders can only be men. But there is huge and legitimate controversy among theologians and scholars over whether Jesus himself thought only men had a place "at the table."

There is no "debate" from the people who actually make the decisions in the Catholic Church. Want to be a priestess? Join the Episcopalians. At least then it would be more honest.

Early renditions of the Last Supper portray Mary Magdalene as a disciple. I just saw one myself in Prague in April, a carved version of the Last Supper taken from a 15th-century Czech church, then on exhibit in a Prague museum.

The 15th Century is hardly "early" in the 2000 year old history of the Church. Surely as a follower of "church history" you know that. Right?

And church historians point to the catacombs in Rome for further proof that, until at least the ninth century A.D., the church gave thousands of women the full sacramental ordination of the deaconate. A fourth-century fresco in St. Priscilla's catacomb shows a bishop ordaining a woman.

And yet, when beseeched by loyal female followers to give them equal rights, your response reads like pabulum. You call it great error "to think priests are first among Christians and everyone else is second-class." You go on: "If we must speak of status, it is determined by holiness, and the great majority of the saints are lay people. Moreover, in the New Testament you can see that for the Lord priestly service entails being in the last place, not the first. This is the opposite of power and privilege."

Do those words ring true when spoken by someone who has devoted his life and calling to accessing the highest rank of power within the church hierarchy?

Please surprise us. Don't condone the St. Lawrence Nine. But don't condemn or excommunicate them, either. You might surprise yourself in turn. You might see a flood of new priests, filling the gaping shortage in the United States and Europe today. You might see empty parishes flooded with worshipers. You might show the world that Peter's rock is one on which all God's children stand on equally hallowed ground.

Who is "us"? Don't "condone" them, but don't "condemn" them? Then what should he do? Let these pretend "priests" call themselves that, let the media call them that, let some people think they are exactly that and since the Church hasn't said anything that it condones it? In other words, the Pope should just forfeit his own teaching office and let him be the figurehead figure some (non-Catholics) would prefer him as.
And once again, why exactly do you care about Catholic worshippers or "Peter's rock" when you as a non-Catholic probably see Joseph Ratzinger as nothing more than an old German guy in a funny hat? You certainly don't see him as "Peter" or "the Vicar of Christ". Shouldn't you let these arguments be made by people who do?


Of course it helps to know that Ms. Erbe has been accused of Anti-Catholicism in the past...and not totally without reason. Which puts another spin on this article as well.

The Good...

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Written on 10:57 PM by Jack B.

Teenage Iraqi Blogger (and Queen of Cats), Ragdha Zaid AKA Baghdad Girl, loves posting pictures of kitties. And she always posts the best ones. Her lastest one may be the best. I found it hilarious (but then I'm weird). I think its the expression on the dog's face and the expression of the face of the kitten below the caption which gives it the full effect.

I encourage everyone to visit her blog itself and look around. I know her posts always bring a smile to my face. Thank you, Ragdha!

Haiku #50

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Written on 8:09 AM by Jack B.

Visting hours
Don't seem to last long enough
At the hospital

Good News from Iraq (for once)

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Written on 5:40 PM by Jack B.

Via AsiaNews:
In Mosul 81 children meet the challenge of their First Communion

Read it, it's an inspiring story.

Haiku #49

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Written on 2:04 PM by Jack B.

Raffy got busted
Who can we trust in baseball?
Seems no one these days