F for Wryday (6b)

April 30, 2010

I love a bit of satire, even with a tincture of sarcasm (or, in this case, bucket loads), so that’s why I have a link on this site to our friends at Cloyees ) or as Cliffy on Catholica calls them ‘Cooees from the Couture’.

Recently we’ve heard that, for the first time, the English voter has had the pleasure of TV debates from Prime Ministerial candidates. One of the consequences was that Nick Clegg, the face of the Liberal Democrats, got to be on the same platform as the ‘big boys’, Gordon (‘she’s a bigot’) Brown and David (‘The Chameleon’) Cameron.

Well now I know how Nick Clegg feels because today I got my own post on Cloyees. It makes me believe, perhaps naively, that I’ve arrived in the cyberspace. Yes, dear pewster, I’m the Nick Clegg of the blogsphere!

Now, just in case you don’t partake of the unique Coyees style (and just in their own version of the Pew Meister, the aptly named Warden, strikes), here is Mother Mirabilis’ incisive, biting missive:

By Request…

Coo-ee pilgrims… Mother Mirabilis here again!

“How disappointing!” says the confused Tony who, for an aCatholic, spends an awful lot of time here in The Cloister.

No pilgrims, Tony is not referring to his own Euro09 Travel Blog which appears to journal a most uneventful journey in Europe with friends for most of June 2009… rather he is concerned that in “Nearly 5 minutes of dress-ups” there is “not one Cappa Magna to be seen!”

Poor Tony… our beloved Warden does so hate for pilgrims to pass this way disappointed and unfullfiled so here you go!

Of course I can resist anything but temptation so I immediately fired off a witty reply.

But there is a limit to freedom in Cloyland and my comment got posted to cyber limbo. That didn’t stop the aforemention Warden …

The cold finger points

… pointing his grey finger in my direction and giving yours truly a ticking off:

No Tony “You just can’t choose your readers” but we can choose what of their’s we will publish!

As for your “very own post”… don’t feel too flattered! Mother has been looking for an excuse to post that Cappa footage for near on a week!

One can only imagine how you as an aCatholic feel about being a religious woman’s excuse for sharing her prized Cappa footage!

Oh the indignity of the abuse!

But I do feel flattered Warden! I feel flattered to have my very own post (for now) AND that you would spend some of your precious time, like a noble knight, backing up the fair Mother and with Mother’s Day just around the corner!

But wait, there’s more! Fr Ted Crilly goes for the jugular:

I have often though (sic) Tony to be a sad character but you have to feel for a guy who sets up a blog to chronicle a trip with friends and then has nothing to say!

Or was it there were no friends or no trip.

Perhpas like everything we see of him here at Cooees it all just happen in his own private fantasy world!

Oh Father! Please let me be the first on the queue to your confessional!

It’s tempting now to change the header graphic on this humble blog to include ‘as featured on Cloyees’, but modesty prevents.

What would make this momentous day complete would be if one of the Cloyees posted here. Oh mercy! Is that asking too much?

PS: I’ve sent another response to the Clawsters informing them of my gratitude and providing a link to this post but, as yet, it has not been approved. Now, of course, all biting commentary is left for the Grand Silence.

PSS: I did tend to let it ‘go through to the keeper’ but as catty as the Clawsters can be, I was amazed that herself (Mother Mirabilis) would think it significant or even interesting that I started, then abandoned a blog, on my travels last year and, with the help of the aptly named ‘Fr Ted’, would draw rather sad conclusions from that. This, of course, is in the context of accusing me of having too much time on my hands!


F for Wryday (6)

April 29, 2010

A couple of old favourites …

GREAT LITERARY TAUNTS

“I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here.”- Stephen Bishop

“A modest little person, with much to be modest about.” – Winston Churchill (about Clement Atlee)

“I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.”- Irvin S. Cobb

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” – Clarence Darrow

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

“He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others.” – Samuel Johnson

“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx

“They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” – Thomas Brackett Reed

“He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.” – Forrest Tucker

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – Mark Twain

“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.” – Oscar Wilde

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” – Billy Wilder

DARK AND STORMY NIGHT

This year’s 10 winners of the Bulwer-Lytton contest, AKA “Dark and Stormy Night Contest” (run by the English Dept. of San Jose State University), wherein one writes only the first line of a bad novel:

10. “As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it.”

9. “Just beyond the Narrows, the river widens.”

8. “With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description.”

7. “Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the East wall: ‘Andre creep… Andre creep… Andre creep.'”

6. “Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved.”

5. “Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eeking out a living at a local pet store.”

4. “Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do.”

3. “Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor.”

2. “Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear’; a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death – in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies.”

AND THE WINNER IS…

1. “The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog’s deception, screaming madly, ‘You lied!”


Just walking in the rain

April 28, 2010

In a state that’s been so dry for so long, it’s still a pleasant suprise to be waking up with the sounds of rain outside.

As if by serendipity, I stumbled upon an episode of Bob Dylan’s Theme Time radio shows that I’d downloaded last year and the theme of the show, first aired on May 3 2006, was ‘Weather’. Now you may not like Bob Dylan, but indulge me …

This was the first show of the first season and was typical of what was to become Dylan’s wonderful appreciation of popular American music from blues, folk, rockabilly, R and B, soul, bebop, rock-and-roll, country and pop over the last 100 or so years.

‘Walking in the Rain’ was made famous by Johnnie Ray, but Dylan tells the interesting and sad story of its origins.

And this is the original version recorded by Johnny Bragg and The Prisonaires at the Sun Studios* in 1953.

* 3 years ago I was lucky enough to join a couple of friends as they travelled by car from the East of the US to the West via Southern Texas. I joined them in Memphis and can still remember walking around Memphis the following day and visiting Boogie Street and Sun Studios. I didn’t quite get to Gracelands but enjoyed the less sophisticated tourist experience at Sun. It was also the first time I’d attempted a blog.


Music? It’s not that complicated.

April 28, 2010

Warning: there are ‘f’ words hidden in this video!


Good pastors?

April 27, 2010

In the last few days I have heard three or four stories about the unseen actions of priests which remind me that there are still good pastors out there — or are they?

I ran into an old digger at an ANZAC mass on the weekend. I recognised him as a ‘nodding acquaintance’ from our parish who’d moved to another parish around 10 years ago. On that tenuous basis I struck up a conversation with old Henry. We both recalled a few stories about the parish priest at the time, Father Jack.

‘You know’, Henry said, ‘Fr Jack changed my life’.

Henry proceeded to tell me that he’d come to that parish just after going through a painful divorce. He’d felt ostracized by the parish he was in and when he introduced himself to Fr Jack he made it clear that he understood he wasn’t to go to communion because he was a divorcee. Fr Jack’s response was that that was a ‘load of crap’ and made it very clear that he was welcome in the parish and welcome to come to communion. Since then, Henry had felt re-connected to the church and never forgot Fr Jack’s gesture of welcome.

The same priest helped in another marriage break up in the late 60s when the stigma of such things was very much alive in the church. John had been married for nearly 20 years and, in good Catholic tradition of the time, had a tribe of kids. One day, his wife left him for another man and, to cut a long story short, divorced him. John was a product of the tribal Catholicism of the 1930s and 1940s and felt he need to get an annulment.

Fr Jack went out of his way to help him with all the legal documentation and supported him throughout a process that was, at that time, harrowing.

I’d known Fr Jack for years and he was no ‘left leaning liberal’ always pushing the envelope and getting in trouble with the Bishop. He was just an ordinary pastor.

Finally, I heard the story of another man, Ray, — a friend of a friend — who had a troubled life as a young man and treated his wife badly. That relationship also ended in divorce. Ron eventually turned a corner and remarried but was sorry that he was no longer welcomed in the church. This changed when he met a priest who welcomed him unconditionally. That priest went on to become quite important in the diocese.

It’s tempting to think of priests as ‘company men’ or worse these days. But, often behind closed doors, there are still pastors who regard people as more important than rules and just get on with being exceptional men.

NB: These stories are true but, being a little paranoid about people’s privacy, I’ve changed the names.


The buck stops at the top

April 23, 2010

No, this is not another rant about the Pope.

In the last 24 hours or so, Rugby League fans (played mostly on the Eastern Seaboard) have been rocked by scandal where a team — the Melbourne Storm — pretty much bought success (including 2 grand finals) by rorting salary cap system (designed to prevent rich clubs dominating the competition because the have the cash).

In this article — The buck stops with News Ltd in the Melbourne Storm scandal — on Crikey, James Thomson asserts that James Hartigan (the owner of the club):

… might claim he has fallen victim to a few rats in the ranks, but questions should and must be asked about why News Corporation was apparently unaware that anything was wrong in a business it owns.

And the kicker:

In the corporate world, the “I was duped” excuse does not wash — the bucks stops at the top.

OK, maybe it is relevant to the Pope!

In the spirit of Wryday though, I have to include the rather acerbic comment from one ‘Fowls’:

Corporate governance issues aside, who really cares outside NSW and Qld? The club may be called Melbourne Storm, but in Melbourne they only have a handful of supporters, they have never had any Victorian players, they have never had any resonance with the Melbourne public. And it’s the most god-awful, boring, skill-free, troglodyte game anyway, with misogynist, bogan supporters, so why would the rest of Australia ever want to embrace it?

I wonder why he doesn’t say what he really thinks!


F for Wryday (5)

April 22, 2010

It’s hard to believe that this report — First Report On The Internet – CBC Prime Time News — is from the early 90s. How quickly things have changed!


Kung, Weigal and Odium Theologicum

April 22, 2010

Over the years that I’ve been active on discussion boards, albeit a limited number of Catholic-oriented ones, it has been amazing how vitriolic they can become. When I first came upon the phrase Odium Theologicum, it did seem to capture the particular hatred people have (well … zealots really) for those who occupy ‘another room in my Father’s house’.

This phrase particularly comes to mind when reading George Weigal’s response to Hans Kung’s now (in)famous Open Letter to all Catholic Bishops. In fact, he uses the term in the fourth paragraph:

… because your April 16 open letter to the world’s bishops, which I first read in the Irish Times, set new standards for that distinctive form of hatred known as odium theologicum and for mean-spirited condemnation of an old friend …

(BTW I must acknowlege that I first saw Weigal’s response on CathPews, courtesy of Michael Webb. I can see why Michael, in particular, would love Weigal’s ‘robust’ style!)

Normally I’d be encouraged when an author starts with a condemnation of ad hominem and personal hatred, but in this case the irony smacks you in the face like a brick. Weigal’s very personal form of odium theologicum bites hard.

A comment at the bottom of the articles puts it in moderate terms:

maxwell says:
Having read both open letters, it seems to me that Weigel’s is much more acrimonious and belligerent.

I wonder why George Weigel doesn’t even make passing reference to what is perhaps the best recommendation Kung makes, namely:

“With the church in deep crisis, this is my appeal to you, venerable bishops: Put to use the episcopal authority that was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council. In this urgent situation, the eyes of the world turn to you. Innumerable people have lost their trust in the Catholic Church. Only by openly and honestly reckoning with these problems and resolutely carrying out needed reforms can their trust be regained.”

I’d fall into a similar trap to Weigal if I were to say, ‘Weigal’s article is so full of personal invective that it’s not worth reading, but it seems to me that the personal stuff is so strong that it does overwhelm the substance of his objections to Kung’s letter.

Some samples:

As the man who single-handedly invented a new global personality-type—the dissident theologian as international media star …

… you have not been paying much attention to the matters on which you pronounce with an air of infallible self-assurance that would bring a blush to the cheek of Pius IX …

What can be expected, though, is that you comport yourself with a minimum of integrity and elementary decency in the controversies in which you engage.

Throughout the article too, are the blackest characterisations of Kung’s views and that other great divide between the zealots: vilification of key people on the ‘other side’. For the ‘progressive’ zealots, Benedict is the devil himself; for the ‘conservative’ zealots, suggesting Benedict has made mistakes is like saying it of Christ himself.

Weigal signs off with ‘With the assurance of my prayers’ but his views about Kung are best expressed in his own words, ‘mean-spirited condemnation’, and that makes his assurance so unconvincing.

I think Kung’s letter is important, not because it comes from a pure-as-the-driven-snow humble saint who’s every word is gospel, but because it attempts to capture the anger that people are feeling about this festering sore, a sore that has been festering in the period when Ratzinger was either near the top or at the top.

In an organisation that prides itself on its top-down governance the buck does stop at the top. Just as Mons Gerhard Gruber can not free the then Cardinal Ratzinger from responsibility by saying, ‘he didn’t know’ (why didn’t he know!?) — a story so unconvincing from the start and that seems to be coming unstuck — Pope Benedict has to do more than shed tears about what ‘they’ did.

Benedict is like a local mayor who, in response to an earthquake, goes out and meets the victims and promises to look after them and is visibly moved by their plight. Unfortunately some people do a little ‘digging’ of their own and find he could have done much more to strengthen building regulations long before the quake hit.

Maybe John Allen should have the last word:

Perhaps the bottom line on Benedict’s first five years, therefore, should take the form of a question rather than a conclusion: Is anything going to change? Can Benedict XVI confront the crisis of governance plaguing his papacy, or is his lofty teaching — what he sees as his real legacy — destined to remain buried under an avalanche of crisis and dysfunction?

That may be the final irony facing this ‘Pope of Ironies’: His effectiveness as a teacher, at least in the here and now, may depend upon his willingness to stop teaching for a little while and to get his house in order.


F for Wryday (4)

April 16, 2010

Bear with me, there is Wryday humour here …

How God Acts book cover

I’ve been slowly reading Denis Edward’s new book called ‘How God Acts’ (reviewed here on Catholica). By way of background Edwards gives his version of what science knows about how we (life, the universe and everything) got to this point; crystalising billions of years into a page and a half.

Given that the numbers and scale are beyond imagination, is accepting these concepts, eg the first few seconds of the big bang, like an act of faith?

Maybe the creation myths were ways of saying, ‘We know it’s more complicated and really it is beyond us, but this story will give you what you really need to know’.

Mind you, the story teller in us can also make facts interesting sometimes:


Don’t hold your breath

April 15, 2010

Could this be the end of the slander?

Over the years when reading the ever increasing material on abuse of children and teenagers in the church, one theme is fairly consistent, although not often stated officially.

That is the ‘link’ between homosexuality and abuse.

I was alerted to the most recent example on Catholica (refering to an original article here) where the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is quoted as saying:

“Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true,” he told a news conference. “That is the problem.”

The key in this statement is the descriptor ‘many’ and reflects the dishonesty and deception of the assertion. How many is ‘many’? Who are they? Who do they represent?

Why do these men heap the slander of homosexuals on the abuse of children and teenagers? The injustice of this is nothing short of sinister and it makes very little difference to me if Bertone is doing out of ignorance or malice.

But apparently there’s been a ‘backlash’ to his statements — which, of course, were ‘misunderstood’ — and we now have a clear statement of refutation from Father Marcus Stock, general secretary of the English Bishops’ Conference (thanks to PeterM on CathPews):

“The consensus among researchers is that the sexual abuse of children is not a question of sexual orientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, but of a disordered attraction or fixation.”

Will this put a stop to those who continue to scapegoat homosexuals?

Don’t hold your breath.