What motivates you?

May 28, 2010

From today’s Crikey:

A great animation and talk by Al Gore’s former speechwriter Dan Pink, explaining what really drives and motivates humans:

Fascinating stuff, eh?

F for Wryday (10)

May 27, 2010

Some old jokes …

Three sisters ages 92, 94 and 96 live in a house together. One night the 96 year old draws a bath. She puts her foot in and pauses….. She yells to the other sisters, “Was I getting in or out of the bath?” The 94 year old yells back, “I don’t know, I’ll come up and see.”

She starts up the stairs and pauses “Was I going up the stairs or down?”

The 92 year old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea listening to her sisters. She shakes her head and says, “I sure hope I never get that forgetful, knock on wood.”

She then yells, “I’ll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who’s at the door.”

Back seat driver
An elderly Queenslander called 000 from a near-by phone box to report that her car had been broken into. She was hysterical as she explained her situation to the dispatcher: “They’ve stolen the stereo, the steering wheel, the brake pedal and even the accelerator!” she cried.

The dispatcher said, “Stay calm. An officer is on the way.”

A few minutes later, the officer radios in.

“Disregard.” He says, “She got into the back-seat.”

Bite me
An older couple were lying in bed one night. The husband was falling asleep but the wife was in a romantic mood and wanted to talk.

“You used to hold my hand when we were courting”, she said.

Wearily he reached across, held her hand for a second and tried to get back to sleep. A few moments passed.

“Then you used to kiss me.”

Mildly irritated, he reached across, gave her a peck on the cheek and settled down to sleep. Thirty seconds passed.

“Then you used to bite my Neck.”

Angrily, he threw back the bed clothes and got out of bed.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To get my teeth!”

Close enough
80-year old Bessie bursts into the rec room at the retirement home.

She holds her clenched fist in the air and announces, “Anyone who can guess what’s in my hand can have sex with me tonight!!”

An shrewd old bloke in the rear shouts out, “An elephant?”

Bessie thinks a minute and says, “Close enough.”

Old friends
Two elderly ladies had been friends for many decades. Over the years, they had shared all kinds of activities and adventures. Lately, their activities had been limited to meeting a few times a week to play cards.

One day, they were playing cards when one looked at the other and said, “Now don’t get mad at me. I know we’ve been friends for a long time but I just can’t think of your name. I’ve thought and thought, but I can’t remember it. Please tell me what your name is.”

Her friend glared at her. For at least three minutes she just stared and glared at her.

Finally she said, “How soon do you need to Know?”

Hundreds of them
Old Harry was driving down the freeway when his car phone rang. It was his wife, Harriet, and she was sounding anxious.

“Harry, I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on the freeway. Please be careful!”

“Hell,” said Harry, “It’s not just one car. It’s hundreds of them!”

Who’s driving
Two old friends, Mildren and Maude, were out driving in a large car – both could barely see over the dashboard. As they were cruising along, they came to an intersection. The stoplight was red, but they just went on through.

Maude thought to herself “I must be losing it. I could have sworn we just went through a red light.”

After a few more minutes, they came to another intersection and the light was red again. Again, they went right through.

Again, Maude was almost sure that the light had been red but was really concerned that she was losing it. She was getting nervous.

At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was red and they went on through.

“Mildred, did you know that we just ran through three red lights in a row? You could have killed us both!”

Mildred turned to her and said, “Oh! Am I driving?”

Needing a push
Old Jack and his wife, Laura, were awoken at 3:00 am by a loud pounding on the door.

Jack gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push.

“Not a chance,” says Jack, who was inclined to be grumpy at the best of times, the husband, “It is 3:00 in the morning!” and slams the door and returns to bed.

“Who was that?” asks Laura.

“Just some drunk guy asking for a push”, answers Jack.

“Did you help him?” asks Laura.

“No, I did not, it is 3:00 in the morning and it is pouring rain out there!”, Jack replies indignantly.

“Well, you have a short memory,” says Laura, “Can’t you remember about three months ago when we broke down, and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him, and you should be ashamed of yourself!”

Jack does as he is told, gets dressed, and goes out into the pounding rain.

He calls out into the dark, “Hello, are you still there?”

“Yes,” comes back the answer.

“Do you still need a push?” calls out the husband.

“Yes, please!” comes the reply from the dark.

“Where are you?” asks the husband.

“Over here on the swing,” replied the drunk.

Seeing the Faces, Hearing the voices

May 25, 2010

I read Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s Pentecost Pastoral Letter (PDF version here here) the other day and I was impressed.

Some snippets:

On the ‘scale’ of the problem Coleridge doesn’t hide behind the all too common ‘it’s just a few bad apples’ routine:

It was only as more and more cases came to light that I began to understand the scale of the problem. It is true that the number of offenders is a small percentage of the Catholic clergy and that the percentage is about the same as in the wider community. But viewed from another angle, where even a single offence is appalling, it was an incomprehensible number, with the figure made worse because of the exceptional trust placed in Catholic clergy. That is a trust which has produced wonderful fruit in both priests and people, but it was the same trust which enabled the abuse to happen and made it all the worse.

And something that I have never found acknowleged by a church leader: exploring the possibility that there are ‘cultural issues’:

One question that came to trouble me more, especially when I was working in the Vatican from 1997 to 2002, was whether or not the problem was cultural in the Church. The question was unavoidable as, through those years, I followed closely the drama of the US Church in its attempt to come to grips with the crisis and the way in which the Holy See sought to help, as it did in the unprecedented meeting of the US Cardinals with Pope John Paul II early in 2002. I came to think that the problem was in some way cultural, but that prompted the further question of how: what was it that allowed this canker to grow in the body of the Catholic Church, not just here and there but more broadly? I would part company with some answers to this question, because they seem to me ill-informed, one-dimensional or ideologically driven. There is no one factor that makes abuse of the young by Catholic clergy in some sense cultural. It seems to me rather a complex combination of factors which I do not claim to understand fully, even if I now understand more than I did.

He goes on to elaborate on areas such as

  • ‘One factor was a poor understanding and communication of the Church’s teaching on sexuality, shown particularly in a rigorist attitude to the body and sexuality.’
  • ‘Clerical celibacy was not in itself a factor, but – like any form of the Christian life lived seriously – it has its perils.’
  • ‘Seminary training which failed to take proper account of human formation and promoted therefore a kind of institutionalised immaturity.’
  • ‘Clericalism understood as a hierarchy of power, not service.’
  • ‘Triumphalism in the Catholic Church, a kind of institutional pride’.
  • ‘The Church’s culture of forgiveness which tends to view things in terms of sin and forgiveness rather than crime and punishment.’
  • The culture that ‘favours a certain discretion, which in the case of the Sacrament of Penance becomes an absolute confidentiality’.
  • A misunderstanding of ‘the power and subtlety of evil’.

On who’s to blame:

I have asked myself often enough who has been to blame in all this. Clearly the victims were not, even though we have treated them too often as if they were. Just as clearly, the offenders were to blame and must bear the full weight of judgement both human and divine. The bishops? Yes, insofar as they concealed or denied the abuse. The media? Not too often, although there have been appalling instances of trial-by-media with the presumption of innocence cast aside; some reporting has been jaundiced by sensationalism and anti-Catholicism, while other reporting has actually helped the Church see the faces and hear the voices. The lawyers? Only infrequently, even though there have been lawyers who have behaved in ways that have not only dishonoured their profession but also treated victims in ways which themselves have been abusive. At times I have wondered if the whole of society is somehow mysteriously and unconsciously complicit in the phenomenon of child abuse, but in the end it seems to me that the blame-game in any of its forms cannot take us far along the path of healing, reconciliation and reform that lies before us.

And, finally, there is hope:

At the moment, the Catholic Church and the bishops in particular are being pounded mightily and dismissed as lacking all credibility or worse. This is hardly surprising, and it can be humiliating. But it is not the end of the world; nor is it the end of the Church. Paradoxically, the Catholic Church has often been at her best when down for the count. History shows that new and unexpected surges of Gospel energy have come not infrequently in the wake of devastation. My hope is that we may now be moving slowly and painfully towards a moment of that kind. That is surely the promise of Easter, which is what sustains me and many others through this troubled time. My deepest and most heartfelt prayer is that the same promise of life out of death may sustain the survivors of sexual abuse whose faces I have come to see and whose voices I have come to hear.

There have been some thoughtful responses to this letter by ‘James’ on Catholica, here, and ‘Terra’ on Sentire, here, including the suggestion that I’m probably setting the bar too low. That may be, but I find it refreshing that a bishop does speak personally and does offer some explanations that include cultural aspects.

Maybe I’m too optimistic, but this, as well as PB16s acknowlegement that the problem is internal (rather than all the outside influences that are used as excuses) may be the beginning of a ‘turning’ by the church.

If it stops here though, it will be just one more dissappointment.

F for Wryday (9)

May 21, 2010

A good day to show you how some people are not ‘Wild about Harry’.

It even gives Godwin’s law a shake.

Is it just the language that’s patronising?

May 20, 2010

This week Sharon allerted us to a rally in support of the Pope involving 150,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Piazza.

“We have gathered here today because we want to be seen to stand in support of Pope Benedict XVI, just in the way that children would do with their father,” an official told the crowd over the loudspeakers.

Just in the way that children would do with their father?! Oh puleese!

Meanwhile, ‘Granny’ on Catholica has informed us that there is a New group to “help” women in the West where men fast one day a month “to show their love and commitment to their current or future brides and to atone for sexual sins against women”.

Isn’t it time we all grew up?

F for Wryday (8)

May 13, 2010

For the most part I have no time for mainstream US comedy — OK, I just lurv Seinfeld and The Simpsons still bites, but not much more — especially as satire and irony seem to be missing from most.

But having been there, all be it for a short time, with friends who were there for much longer, I did come to appreciate that Americans have a great sense of humour including a biting satire and the capacity to laugh at themselves. The best place to find this though seems to be in the plethora of political commentators. Perhaps the most famous on the ‘liberal’ side are Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Nation) and Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and, on the conservative side, Glenn Beck (The Glen Beck Show) and Bill O’Reilly (The O’Reilly Factor).

So, as we travelled around the Southern and Western US of A, one of our criteria for accommodation was ‘does it have MSNBC or the Comedy Channel’ so we could end the day with a laugh and marvel at another cultural phenomenon, like diners, that is uniquely American (fortunately 99% of reasonably-priced motels had cable).

So, if you’re not familiar with these guys, you may not appreciate my Wryday contribution this week but at least it’s about Orstraylya: Australian Sperm Shortage.

For the record

May 12, 2010

This week there’s been a strong series of comments reacting to Schütz’s blog entry on Sentire entitled ‘The song continues… The vision evolves…‘. Much of the series of responses are, IMHO, a whinge against contemporary music along the lines of ‘… don’t get me wrong, I love modern music … some of my best friends … Kumbaya dude’.

Anyhow, I found the initial post provocative and full of unsustained charges and less than charitable conclusions. The response posts from Amanda McKenna (aka ‘Milly’) and Justin comprehensively take the original post ‘to the cleaners’.

In the meantime, DavidC, in a galaxy far away (aka Catholica), quietly posts ‘Lux Aurumque‘ about Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir.

So, for the record, here is that video:

And, also supplied by David, here is a website explaining how they did it.

As I said on Sentire (thus far the ‘last post’ in that string):

I couldn’t imagine a choir without the feedback of other singers right next to you and hearing how the sound fills the space and the energy that is more than the sum of the parts and the real mystery of how unity comes out of the many …

But, the bottom line is that they’ve created something beautiful.

It is tempting to think that a virtual choir, where each individual sings their part alone, would lack ‘soul’, but it doesn’t.

Now, I’m as much a scholar of Latin* as I am a musician, but I did come across this the other day: ‘Omne ignotum pro magnifico est’. The literal meaning is ‘We have great notions of everything unknown’. In other words, when we don’t understand something it can seem marvellous. (The opposite, I suppose, is ‘cotidiana vilescunt’, familiarity — something known — breeds contempt.)

Although, I don’t consider myself a ‘musician’, I have had many a dip at learning a musical instrument and I have been part of a small choir for well over 10 years, but that familiarity doesn’t make music any less marvellous or any less an out and out mystery to me.

* My favourite ‘cheat sheet’ of Latin quotes is here .

Rebarbative serial polemisist?

May 7, 2010

I’ve not followed the career of Catherine Deveny that closely as she’s more of a Melbourne phenomenon, but she has graced … not the best word in her case … the national stage on QandA, in a fairly underwheling performance IMO, and she’s also been the subject of admiration on Cooees and Sentire.

In fact they love to hate her … sorry, it just looks like hate … and her recent demise was the subject of pithy schadenfreude here and here.

There’s a more considered, less gleeful, response on Eureka Street where I learned that said Catherine actually contributed to Australian Catholics (ah those Jesuits!). I also learned a new word, ‘rebarbative‘ which is to ’cause annoyance, irritation, or aversion; repellent’. Knowing that caused me to feel a little sympathy for Catherine.

But Deveny haters … er, dislikers … be careful what you wish for! If Catherine has taken up the role of what Lady GaGa* calls a ‘fame monster’, being sacked by The Age and that sacking making news all over the country, not to mention all over the ‘Tweet-o-sphere’, is grist for the mill. It maybe that Catherine’s career has only just begun.

* Who’s Lady GaGa? I don’t really know, but I like the term. Maybe she’s this generation’s Madonna?

F for Wryday (7)

May 6, 2010

As I was looking for something lighter to celebrate Friday I came across a YouTube video on signs outside churches in the US.

It’s now three years since I went to the US and joined friends on a ‘road trip’ from Memphis to San Francisco via Brownsville Texas and the signs were there and sometimes very amusing. It wasn’t really convenient for us to stop at every church and take a picture, but I did get one at a little place called Farmington New Mexico where it was about zero degrees celsius when I took this snap outside our motel early one morning:

Jesus is watching

So I was amused to come across the following video where at 2:10 the same image appears.

Of course the humour is more accidental in this case but deserves its place in a phenomenon, like roadside diners, that is particularly American.

King ‘Daffyd’ gets out the red card.

May 4, 2010

When I set up this humble enterprise it was, it has to be said, in reaction to being given the boot from CathPews. I soon resolved that such a negative reason for being wasn’t going to be that interesting and, given that CathPews has almost ground to a halt, not very sustainable!

So I declare that Beyond the Pews is not going to be sustained by internecine feuds!

Ah, but rules are made to be broken occasionally so I just have to comment (again) on my five minutes of fame at Coo-ees.

Keep in mind that their criticism of me is that I take them or myself or just about anything, too seriously (a comment I always find amusing!), yet they have devoted two posts to me and a number of comments, because I posted critical comments (strictly in the spirit of their own ‘sardonic’ humour, of course!) about a particular post.

Most recently I’ve had a comment deleted and now a new post has appeared [my comments]:

Villiage Idiot Shown a Red Card …

Daffyd the villiage idiot

[The image is of ‘Daffyd’ played by Matt Lucas from ‘Little Britain’ fame. One of his favourite quotes is ‘Everybody knows I’m the only gay in the village’. Enough said.]

Here in The Cloister we like our fun and it is not unusual for the barbs to fly about as pilgrims gnaw on the meatier issues …

[The ones they take seriously? Like putting the claws into Catholica?]

… We provide for a lot of latitude but as with all things there is a limit.

[The post is by The Warden; notice the ‘Pluralis Maiestatis’?]

The villiage idiot …

[This, I think, is the bit I’m not supposed to take seriously]

… offered the following comment earlier today:

Your little missive has no particular internal consistency — the title and the first three lines are about ‘who you are gonna call and it ends with who you ain’t gonna call — and is not responding to any specific issue raised on Catholica.

[Apparently this it the bit he/she/they took seriously!]

Do we truly need to be specific… Perhaps it may have sounded better in latin but our care-factor is nevertheless limited …

[to two posts and numerous comments]

… as is our patience with the pilgrim in question!

[the Villiage Idiot LOL, LOL]

It’s so painful when the villiage idiot takes himself and his associates so seriously isn’t it.

[I can see why you’re in pain. Must be ingrown claws!]

Thanks for dropping by but please don’t let us keep you from your friends!

[That’s the red card, I think]

My completely unjustified theory about the Cloysters is that they are (as rumour has it) priests, wannabe priests or religious. I assume that having an outlet like Cloysters allows them to express their true character, in the safety of anonymity, in a way that they can’t in the ‘real world’. They can’t, for example, get away with calling a parishioner a ‘village idiot’. So, who am I to stand in the way of on-line therapy?

I’ve never been a huge fan of Little Britain, but this is dedicated to The Warden:

Disclaimer: Not meant to be taken seriously.