Sunday, June 11, 2006

Two Promising Catholic Podcasts

I found a couple of podcasts this weekend that are promising. Production values for both are good and both are orthodox and entertaining. The first is the "Pray-as-you-go" podcast produced by a community of British Jesuits. From the Ekklesia website:

"A new initiative by the British Jesuits - a religious order of the Catholic church - to offer commuters daily prayer sessions in MP3 format, as free downloads from the internet, has proved an instant success around the world. Jesuit Media Initiatives planned to trial the new project – called ‘Pray-As-You-Go’ - for the season of Lent. They invited people from their parishes and schools in Britain to give it a go by using the audio files on their iPods, mobile phones or other MP3 players to guide them through prayer on their daily journey to work, school or college. But by the time dawn broke on the first day - Ash Wednesday (1 March) - word had spread, and some 3,300 prayer sessions had been downloaded from the web in countries as far apart as Australia, Mexico and the United States..."

The second podcast is "TWICC" or "This Week in the Catholic Church" produced by Fr. Roderick of "Catholic Insider" fame. His logo adorns the top of this post. He and several other Catholic podcasters are cooperating to produce a kind of newsmagazine laced with humor and banter. The first episode was released last week and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I'm definitely looking forward to next week's installment.

Both can be subscribed to via iTunes as well as other content aggregators like Yahoo Podcasts.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Teddy Kennedy, Glass Houses, and Throwing Stones

Is Ted Kennedy the right person to be criticizing the character of his ideological opponents?

"...This so-called Federal Marriage Amendment should really be called the Republican Right Wing 2006 Electoral Strategy Amendment because it is more about rallying an extreme base to vote than about solving a problem. Proponents use fear tactics and claim that marriage is under attack by activist judges ... A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry - pure and simple."

Wouldn't it be better for everyone if he were to instead say that "I respectfully disagree with the sentiments motivating the citizens who support this bill. Most of them are honorable people with honorable intentions and I hope to persuade them in the coming weeks that they are wrong and why."

Monday, May 29, 2006

"Babies aborted for not being perfect"

See the article...

"The ethical storm over abortions has been renewed as it emerged that terminations are being carried out for minor, treatable birth defects. Late terminations have been performed in recent years because the babies had club feet, official figures show. Babies are being aborted with only minor defects. Other babies were destroyed because they had webbed fingers or extra digits. Such defects can often be corrected with a simple operation or physiotherapy..."

And we continue to descend.

Monday, May 15, 2006

"Hate hotline puts speech on hold"

Phew! Take a look at this act of wisdom in Boulder, Colorado. Okay, some believe Tom Hanks and Opie are spewing hatred at Catholics because of their upcoming Da Vinci Code movie. After all, co-producer John Calley has reportedly admitted that the film is anti-Catholic. Based on what could shortly happen Boulder, any Catholic who is sick and tired of putting up with the "last acceptable American prejudice" can yell "HATE CRIME!" and actually be taken seriously. Well, in Boulder anyway.

As idiotic as the Boulder move would be, it'd be a nice poke in the eye to the three above-mentioned artistes. Heh!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I am in Barcelona, Spain!

I am in Barcelona, Spain to attend the 2006 IEEE INFOCOM Conference. After arriving yesterday morning, flying redeye overnight from New York's JFK airport, I staggered to the hotel and showered. Then I picked up my camera and went on a walkabout to stay awake until evening so that I could sync to the local time, six hours ahead of what I'm used to in Maryland. I had a good time and sat and people-watched quite a bit, although after looking at the map this morning, I covered quite a bit of ground on foot. Barcelona is obviously a college town, with at least several universities in the area where I am staying. Interestingly, after gritting my teeth and listening for years to all the calumny against Pope Pius XII, the Princesa Sofia Hotel is located in ... Pope Pius XII Plaza! On the other hand, Spain is known as a Catholic country, or at least as Catholic as any country in Europe is. This afternoon I am attending a conference tutorial. Tomorrow will be the same and the actual conference begins on Tuesday. Before going to sleep last night, I channel surfed on the hotel television and I found CCTV Chinese state television, a Russian-language channel, an Iraqi station, a German-language station, BBC television, and even a couple of American stations (Conan O'Brien on CNBC and CNN). No Fox News Channel, alas. The Russian channel was televising some sort of Russian Orthodox procession. Having recently read the biography of Pope John Paul II by George Weigel, this interested me. According to Weigel, one of the principal goals of Pope John Paul the Great was to reunite the Catholic and Orthodox "lungs" of Christianity.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Immigration Rallies

I want to clarify my motivation for writing Cardinal Mahony about his grandstanding (hat tip to National Review) on the issue of illegal immigration and amnesty. I am annoyed about the propensity of a large percentage of the USCCB to change the subject from sexual assaults on minors by a small percentage of the Catholic clergy, and how it is exacerbated by their hesitation to root out tolerance of non-celibate behavior in some Catholic seminaries. Despicably, they would rather talk about immigration right now, just as they wanted to talk about other topics either unrelated to or directly opposed to that with which they should concern themselves. Examples of what their professional interests might include are orthodox Catholicism, loyalty to the Pope and loyalty to the Magisterium. For as long as I have been an adult, they have obsessed about other fashions, such as vocal support for the feckless nuclear freeze campaigns in the 1980s and often-vocal sympathy for idiotic liberation theology in the 1970s and 1980s. They make me want to shout at them: JUST DO YOUR JOBS!

And now about the immigration rallies: I am for legal immigration and but I am not necessarily opposed to blanket amnesty for aliens already in the country. There is an argument against amnesty that points out that illegal aliens overwhelm public services, including public education, fire, police, infrastructure, etc. But it seems logical to point out that if these people were no longer illegal, they would start paying taxes and the money for the infrastructure would soon appear. Another argument is that Mexican immigrants do not want to learn English, presumably affecting their ability or desire to assimilate into American culture. Based on my own experience – spending the first forty years of my life in the southwest United States – this is false. First generation Americans often never become proficient in English. But their kids do. And isn’t this what has happened with EVERY wave of immigration to the United States? According to my own reading of American history, the answer is “yes”. Another argument is that, even if they do learn English, this particular wave of immigrants will never assimilate. That was just as emphatically said about every other group of immigrants and it has never been true. Immigrants may or may not stick to the ethnic enclaves in the major cities but their kids have iPods and assume a distinctly American attitude mirroring every other group of kids moving through the school systems. And besides, take a look at the southwest United States: the Mexican culture is, in fact, assimilating just as all the others have. Just as Americans always have, we keep the stuff we like and we gradually abandon the stuff that isn’t so useful to us in the context of living in this country.

Forgive my usage of what has become cliché among engineers in a constantly changing technological world; but we, as a country, have to “evolve or die”.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

No phone calls please, Sunday @ 9:00 pm

The sixth season of The Sopranos starts. Yessssssss!!!

Friday, March 03, 2006

My Letter to Cardinal Mahoney

I am annoyed about a NY Times editorial from this morning and the response by the Catholic League this afternoon. My reaction was different from that of the Catholic League. I even wrote an email to the Cardinal and thought others might be interested in reading it too.

"Cardinal Mahoney,

"The NY Times said this morning that you have 'instructed' Catholics to defy a proposed law aimed at reforming immigration in this country. I am no longer a member of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, although I was in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But I am a lifelong practicing Catholic.

"It amazes me that you and many of your fellow members of the USCCB squeal in righteous indignation about such issues that are so peripheral to the mission of the Church and so obviously related to your tendentious liberal political views.

"A more important question to address might be the following: Have you finished the needed reforms of the seminaries and your Archdiocese so that the sex scandals that were finally exposed in 2002 (and continue to reverberate to this day) can NEVER happen again? We, as lay Catholics, are STILL reeling from the shock of what genuinely appears to be a dereliction of duty on the part of many members of the USCCB.

"Or, is it easier to instruct law-abiding Catholics to defy the law than it is to have a public spat with Mother Angelica over liturgical reform? (Yes, I am one of MANY Catholics who bought and read her recent biography.)

"I would not presume to instruct a Cardinal but it seems like you might want to finish what is already on your plate before asking for more.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

And Another One

Again, from Witness to Hope, p. 321:

"There was another, simpler, even primitive reason for the overwhelming emotion the Pope evoked [on his first trip back to Poland after his election as Pope]. It was nicely articulated by an anonymous Polish miner who, when asked why anyone should be religious in a communist state, replied 'To praise the Mother of God and to spite those bastards.'"

And I remember very well who the members of Congress, the pundits, the other vermin were, back in the 1980s, when President Reagan was conducting the death struggle with the Soviet Union, who, as now, "blamed America first". They are the same bastards who are fighting President Bush every step of the way as he conducts the death struggle with Al Qaeda.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Quote of the Day

I am currently reading Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II by George Weigel. In describing the reaction of the eastern European regimes and their Soviet puppet masters to the election of Pope John Paul II, Weigel relates the following anecdotes and comment on p. 269 of the trade paperback edition:

"The Polish communist leadership was also the target of sarcasm from its fraternal socialist ally. At the inaugural Mass, the Soviet ambassador to Italy turned to Polish President Henryk Jablonski and acidly observed that the greatest achievement of the Polish People's Republic was to give the world a Polish pope. Giancarlo Pajetta, an Italian communist with much experience in Poland, tried to put the best face on things by suggesting that 'At least our Polish comrades won't have him [Karol Wojtyla] breaking their balls any more.' He was wrong about that, too."


Friday, January 06, 2006

Visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

My wife and I toured the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception down in Washington, DC yesterday --- after living in the area for only eight years. As I assume pretty much everyone will tell you, we found it very, very impressive and I'm now sorry we waited so long. There are two main church areas, the Crypt church on the lower level, finished in the 1920s, and the main church on the upper level, finished in 1959. The Great Depression and the Second World War impacted the finances required for the project and delayed completion. On the other hand, as the tour guide pointed out, it took 500 years to complete Notre Dame Cathedral in France, so, relatively speaking, this wasn't too bad! There are many, many individual chapels and shrines within the building to commemorate the home countries of Catholic immigrants to the United States. This, apparently, was one of the primary interests expressed by the bishop who originally began the process of building. For example, there is a Lourdes chapel and a chapel for Our Lady of Guadalupe. This site, colocated with the Catholic University of America campus, is beautiful and impressive and is highly recommended, even if you aren't Catholic. And, if you are, you'll take a lot of pride in seeing what has been built here in the name of our 2000-year religion. Maybe someday we'll travel to Rome to see the greater part of our history.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see a lot of material published by EWTN in the gift shop and book store. A flat panel television tuned to EWTN was also set up near the information booth. At the moment that we arrived, about a quarter to one in the afternoon, Fr. Francis Mary, MFVA, was saying that particular part of the televised Mass in Latin. However tenuous my reasoning or wishful my thinking, I view these things, occuring deep in Cardinal McCarrick's stomping grounds, as another sign that maybe orthodox Catholicism is gradually coming back in this country, in concert with the expressed goals of Vatican II and and opposed to that spurious "spirit of Vatican II". As we left the parking lot (and almost got lost) we passed the headquarters building of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. I leave that sight unremarked upon in this posting...