Saturday, November 22, 2008
Just as Pope Benedict XVI cleans up the abuses proliferated by some in the Ordinary Form and restores the elegant reverence of the Extraordinary Form as a valid option, Hollywood is now reinventing and deconstructing my childhood hero, James Bond. 007 was an anchor for me in High School Seminary as I would watch every Bond movie and imagine that I was a secret agent for the Vatican on special assignment. When you're 14 years old at the time, your imagination has to do something, doesn't it? The old (or more accurately, TRADITIONAL James Bond) was a man's man of single purpose. He was on a mission to save the world. He was loyal to King and country. He was overtly anti-Communist and had the self-confidence which made him suave and debonair.
CHRONOLOGICAL CONTINUITY. I desperately miss Q and the famous 007 gadgets, but what bothers me most is the disrupted time-line. I can buy the premise of going back to Bond's origin and roots, but since he's been around for half a century, especially during the Cold War, why do we have the contemporary M in modern era with an adolescent 007? Would it not have made chronological sense to set the origins BEFORE the Cold War, say immediately after WWII? These last two movies make it seem as if there were no Bond before this one whereas the previous ones had some sort of continuity. If these newer Bond movies are about his PAST, then they should be set in the PAST. The public has known 007 since 1962 (a vedry good year, BTW, to be born, that is). Sir Sean Connery, for me, is the quintessence and epitome of Bond. My least favorite was George Lazenby then Timothy Dalton. Sir Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan tie for second place. The jury is still out on Daniel Craig.
Whether the KGB or SPECTRE (headed by the infamous Ernst Stavro Blofeld), the enemies of truth, justice and Great Britain are always defeated by the wit, class, ingenuity and the special devices of 007. Now, we have a Bond who is uncouth and without toys. It is like a religion without sacraments or doctrines. A shell. Satire without degenerating into sarcasm, that is what I liked about Bond's sense of humor. Dry and witty.
I used to pretend that the theological dissidents were members of SPECTRE and that my job was to infiltrate and frustrate the enemy. Later on in major seminary, it was more graphic to endure the theological, liturgical and moral abberations. My real life hero then became Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn whose Gulag Archipeligo described vividly the psychological and emotional mind-games the liberals engaged in to prevent orthodox and traditional seminarians from getting ordained.
I'm grateful my other boyhood hero, Doctor Who, got back on track. The long haitus after the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) retired in 1989 was broken in 1996 by the movie version with the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and then the much anticipated and awaited resurrected (regenerated) TV series in 2005 with the Ninth (2005) and Tenth Doctors (current) (Christopher Eccleston and David Tennnant, respectively). Tom Baker (#4; 1974-1981) is my favorite and he, too, attended high school seminary (monastery). Yet, I also liked the crumudgeon First Doctor (William Hartnell) and the eccentric Second (Patrick Troughton). Jon Pertwee (#3) was just too flamboyant and a little 'light in the loafers' as we used to say.
The latest premise, however, that the Timelords are extinct from a final war with the Daleks makes no sense to me since the entite population of Gallifrey could have escaped annihilation by going backward or forward into other times and places. I like CONTINUITY and HISTORICAL ACCURACY in my movies and television programs, even the fictional and SCI-FI. Lack of it shows intellectual sloth, IMHO.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama
November 14, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama,
As American Catholics, we, the undersigned, would like to reiterate the congratulations given to you by Pope Benedict XVI. We will be praying for you as you undertake the office of President of the United States.
Wishing you much good will, we hope we will be able to work with you, your administration, and our fellow citizens to move beyond the gridlock which has often harmed our great nation in recent years. Too often, partisan politics has hampered our response to disaster and
misfortune. As a result of this, many Americans have become resentful, blaming others for what happens instead of realizing our own responsibilities. We face serious problems as a people, and if we hope to overcome the crises we face in today’s world, we should make a serious effort to set aside the bitterness in our hearts, to listen to one another, and to work with one another
One of the praiseworthy elements of your campaign has been the call to end such partisanship. You have stated a desire to engage others in dialogue. With you, we believe that real achievement comes not through the defamation of one’s opponents, nor by amassing power and using it merely as a tool for one’s own individual will. We also believe dialogue is essential. We too wish to appeal to the better nature of the nation. We want to encourage people to work together for the common good. Such action can and will engender trust. It may change the hearts of many, and it might alter the path of our nation, shifting to a road leading to a better America. We hope this theme of your campaign is realized in the years ahead.
One of the critical issues which currently divides our nation is abortion. As you have said, no one is for abortion, and you would
agree to limit late-term abortions as long as any bill which comes your way allows for exceptions to those limits, such as when the health of the mother is in jeopardy. You have also said you would like to work on those social issues which cause women to feel as if they have a need for an abortion, so as to reduce the actual number of abortions being performed in the United States.
Indeed, you said in your third presidential debate, “But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, ‘We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.’”
As men and women who oppose abortion and embrace a pro-life ethic, we want to commend your willingness to engage us in dialogue, and we ask that you live up to your promise, and engage us on this issue.
There is much we can do together. There is much that we can do to help women who find themselves in difficult situations so they will not see abortion as their only option. There is much which we can do to help eliminate those unwanted pregnancies which lead to abortion.
One of your campaign promises is of grave concern to many pro-life citizens. On January 22, 2008, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade,
when speaking of the current right of women in America to have abortions, you said, “And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.”
The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) might well undermine your engagement of pro-life Americans on the question of abortion. It might
hamper any effort on your part to work with us to limit late-term abortions. We believe FOCA does more than allow for choice. It may
force the choice of a woman upon others, and make them morally complicit in such choice. One concern is that it would force doctors and hospitals which would otherwise choose not to perform abortions to do so, even if it went against their sacred beliefs. Such a law would undermine choice, and might begin the process by which abortion is enforced as a preferred option, instead of being one possible choice for a doctor to practice.
It is because of such concern we write. We urge you to engage us, and to dialogue with us, and to do so before you consider signing this legislation. Let us reason together and search out the implications of FOCA. Let us carefully review it and search for contradictions of those positions which we hold in common. If FOCA can be postponed for the present, and serious dialogue begun with us, as well as with those who disagree with us, you will demonstrate that your administration will indeed be one that rises above partisanship, and will be one of change. This might well be the first step toward resolving an issue which tears at the fabric of our churches, our political process, our families, our very society, and that causes so much hardship and heartache in pregnant women.
Likewise, you have also recently stated you might over-ride some of President G.W. Bush’s executive orders. This is also a concern to us. We believe doing so without having a dialogue with the American people would undermine the political environment you would like to establish. Among those issues which concern us are those which would use taxpayer money to support actions we find to be morally questionable, such as embryonic stem cell research, or to fund international organizations that would counsel women to have an abortion (this would make abortion to be more than a mere choice, but an encouraged activity).
Consider, sir, your general promise to the American people and set aside particular promises to a part of your constituency. This would indicate that you plan to reject politics as usual. This would indeed be a change we need.
Deal W. Hudson
Rev. James A. Nowack
Craig D. Baker
Joshua D. Brumfield
Ashley M. Brumfield
Henry C Karlson III
Adam P Verslype
Michael J. Deem
Katerina M. Deem
Anthony M. Annett
Robert C. Koerpel
VATICAN CITY - POPE Benedict XVI urged drivers to stay 'sober and alert' on Sunday and prayed for those who have died in traffic accidents.
'On this third Sunday of November, we remember in a special way all those who have died as a result of traffic accidents,' the pope said as he delivered the Angelus prayer in St Peter's Square.
'Dear brothers and sisters, I implore everyone - drivers, passengers and pedestrians - to heed carefully the words of Saint Paul in the liturgy of the word today: Stay sober and alert,' he added.
An initiative by the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims has made the third Sunday of November a day of remembrance for road traffic victims. --
My younger brother Joseph, was killed by an underage drunk driver on July 5th, 1997. He was on his way home (only three blocks) from visiting our youngest brother, Mark, who at the time was hospitalized for leukemia. The tragedy was so stressful that six months later, my dad (who had been battling leukemia) passed away as well.
The underage drunk driver got his blood alcohol results suppressed as evidence on a bizarre legal technicality. This unrepentant young man manipulated the legal system to his advantage. Seven years passed, with no jail time or fine, and the accused still possesses his driver's license. In an obscene coincidence, I saw a sign on a gasoline pump that said if you drive away without paying, you can and will lose your license as well as incur fines and possible jail sentence. Paradoxically, you drink and drive and kill a human being, and you can probably get away with it with little or no consequences. I tell my parishioners every year at New Year's Eve and on Holidays like Fourth of July or Labor Day, it is a MORTAL SIN to DWI (drive while intoxicated). My family suffered greatly and my mother ended up burying her third child and then her husband of 39 years thanks to a teenager who felt it necessary to get loaded and get behind the wheel. As a former hospital chaplain, I have seen paralyzed victims as well as dead victims of underage drinking and drunk driving. Road rage also played a part in my brother's death. Everyone acts as if where they have to go is more important that where the other drivers are going. No one has patience and no one remembers to be polite. Good manners are often missing in church parking lots. Daily communicants admit to cursing and flashing obscene gestures to fellow motorists. Parents show bad example to their kids when they drive aggressively let alone when they DUI (drive under the influence).
Thank God for what Pope Benedict said this past Sunday. Sadly, note that it did not make the major news agencies or networks and I doubt we'll see this in many national or diocesan newspapers.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Despite Barak Obama's and Joe Biden's blatant support for abortion, many Catholic voters convinced themselves that fixing the economy was a higher priority than saving innocent human lives in the womb. Outside the life and death issues of abortion and euthanasia, there is legitimate room to debate, argue and reasonably disagree on matters such as the economy, the environment, war and terrorism, et al. Political parties (democrat, republican, independent) do not have any monopoly on truth or ways to solve problems.
Pragmatism permeates our society in that many seek a practical solution even if it involves questionable or dubious means. "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs" is a familiar proverb invoked by many who seek answers even at the cost of their immortal souls. Yet, the Natural Moral Law and the Divine Positive Law both clearly define that THE ENDS NEVER JUSTIFIES THE MEANS. Evil may never be intended and committed no matter how much greater good may come from it. Too many Catholics have been polluted by fuzzy morality taught to them during the zenith of the dissident theologian era when Humanae Vitae was being trashed in colleges and seminaries across the nation. Bad theology and bad morality (along with bad liturgy) were taught to some seminarians (between 1970-2000) so that as priests these guys teach in RCIA and preach from the pulpit that as long as you do not have formal cooperation in evil, it does not matter if you have material cooperation in that same evil. Situation ethics and consequentialism, both condemned by Pope John Paul the Great, were nevertheless part and parcel of some seminary morality courses. "Bonum faciendam et malum vitandum (do good and avoid evil)" as enunciated by the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was replaced by "do as much good as possible AND as little evil as necessary."
Hence, what you sow, so shall you reap. Fuzzy morality which emboldened and rationalized contraception, in vitro fertilization, pre-marital sex, etc., would eventually lead people to overlook a candidates staunch support for abortion in order to embrace his economic proposals. Ironically, since the advent of global economy, presidential control over prices, wages, jobs, etc., has diminished greatly. Even Congress has less control since we trade with other nations all over the planet. Hatred and animosity for the current admininstration is evident not only here in the USA but while on pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima, we noticed Europeans ecstatic that President George Bush will soon be out of office and a different political party will be in the White House. Parliamentary governments in Europe are more affected by the party who wins the election (who thereby determine the Prime Minister) whereas in America, the Presidency is separate from the Congress. Hence, we can have a Republican President and a Democratic Congress or vice versa.
It is a wonderful and historic event that the first African-American has been elected President. Someday soon, the first Female President will also be elected. CAVEAT, just as the first Catholic President was not necessarily the best practicing Catholic candidate, so, too, there are other African-Americans (Alan Keyes, e.g.) who would have made an excellent president AND would have been PRO-LIFE besides! Joe Biden might be a Catholic Vice President but his statements before and after the election show he is not in harmony with the Magisterium on key moral issues.
The secular media, however, turned Sarah Palin into a scapegoat. They resorted to ad hominem attacks and portrayed her as a simpleton just as they had done with Dan Quayle. A pro-life woman and mother and a conservative was just too much for them to stomach. Hence, they needed to demonize her as some did with Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater beforehand. Her pro-life stand incurred venomous remarks from radical feminists who detested her successful political career in light of her moral values.
I made this parallel earlier, but very CAREFULLY. I hope and pray that President Elect Obama and Vice President Elect Biden will allow Divine Grace to move their minds and hearts to govern fairly, justly and in accord with the moral law. As legitimate elected leaders, I will pray for them and will obey their lawful authority AS LONG AS it conforms to the laws of God and the Natural Law. I would never equate the personification of evil as found in Adolf Hitler with either Obama or Biden. I beleive both Obama and Biden to be men of honor and committed to the common good, albeit I also believe they are terribly misguided in how to achieve that. My parallel is not with the moral character (which only the good Lord can judge) of these men, but with the REASONS why they were elected. There were some voters in pre-WWII Germany who were willing to overlook the Nazi anti-Semitism because they felt the times were so precarious and the economy so fragile, that significant change was in order. Economic promises to end inflation and unemployment helped elect Hitler and the Nazi party. My point is that some have overlooked the pro-abortion stand of candidates in this election in favor of their economic proposals and the prospect of a regime change in the White House. Besides those voters who were obviously pro-Obama, there were also those who were just anti-Bush and took out their animosity on John McCain because he was republican.
That is the only connection I make; NOT a MORAL connection between the person of Hitler (a reprehensible criminal) and the person of Barak Obama, (a decent human being and President-Elect of the USA). The parallel is not between the personalities but in the context of the election and the voters' decision to ignore pertinent policies of the candidate in favor of other policies they have consensus. Hence, Catholic voters erroneously thought they could overlook Obama's staunch defense of abortion and disagree with him (thus preventing any formal cooperation in evil) on that matter while agreeing with him on economic, military and other issues. Problem is the material cooperation in evil when you still elect a pro-abortion candidate even when you formally disagree in principle. Likewise, no one could morally ignore a candidate's anti-Semitism or racism merely to agree on their economic plans.
The practical solution is not always the moral solution. What works may work immorally, though efficiently. Hence, we can only have GOOD INTENTIONS and use GOOD MEANS to achieve them. Sadly, some Catholic voters were more concerned about the stock market and their 401K than they were concerned about curbing and eventually eliminating all abortions. The systematic murder of innocent unborn human lives is something which cannot be overestimated or overstated. If the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) becomes law, it would be like repealing the 13th ammendment which outlawed slavery. Neither the color of skin nor location (whether in the womb or outside the womb) changes the metaphysical status of a human person. You are a human person by virtue of having a body and soul (in which resides your rational intellect and free will). Human nature gives you rights, not the Constitution.
I hope and pray for an economic recovery, for an end to war and terrorism, for more employment and for lower gas prices. I want America to be respected around the world but I also want us to be safe and secure from our enemies. None of that, however, should be at the price of innocent blood. If we must sacrifice, better it be our comfort and convenience rather than to sacrifice millions of innocent babies in their mothers' s wombs.
PRAYER and FASTING may be our only hope at this point. President-Elect Obama may indeed change his position and embrace a more pro-life stance. It happened to Mit Romney, why not Barak O? Some evils can only be exorcized by prayer and fasting, Jesus said. So, if all pro-lifers committed themselves these next four years to one day a week of prayer and fasting for the unborn, we might witness a metanoia (conversion) of heart in our new president (and vice president).
Meanwhile, our bishops must also get tough and let Catholic politicians know there is a penalty for turning your back on the holy innocents in the womb. Denying Holy Communion and even Excommunication may be required to convey the gravity of the evil of abortion. Often, punishment has a medicinal effect to incur repentance and hopefully prevent reoccurence.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Here is the basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes we recently visited to honor the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the BVM to Saint Bernadette
The famous grotto. A replica can be found at Mount Saint Mary Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD and at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, AL.
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