Sunday, March 31, 2002

IT TAKES A BALLPARK VILLAGE
The St. Louis Cardinals' owners, are in the midst of trying to get the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri to help them build a new ballpark to replace the completely adquate and still charming Busch Stadium downtown. Since they can't credibly threaten to move, they've had to make some concessions, including a promise to buld a "ballpark village" downtown by the nes stadium. This will help "revitalize downtown." There have been so many efforts to revitalize downtown St. Louis in the nine yeares I've been here that I've begun to wonder if it was ever "vital" to begin with. Some of the more comical efforts were those that tried to draw hot dog vendors and street perfromers dowtown, forgetting that those things are a symptom of an active city, not a cause.

The Riverfront Times, St. Louis's alt-weekly has an intersting article about the last time the city helped a team's owners build a sports arena in return for development. The result -- a still empty and un-refurbished theater in the middle of downtown.

My suspicion is that the "ballpark village" will end up in the same place as the Kiel Opera House renovation plans.
THE HOME DEPOT PRESENTS : OPENING DAY!
CLEVELAND INDIANS AT ANAHEIM ANGELS
MARCH 31 7 PM LIIVE ON ESPN!
FROM EDISON INTERNATIONAL STADIUM

And Major League Baseball continues to shoot itself in the foot. This time, by trading in one thing that differentiates it from other sports, tradition, for a quick buck. There are so many things wrong with this picture that I don't know where to start, but here's a few!
  • It's March! Major League Baseball started in April for all of our childhood. We looked forward to April when the games would start again. Sure, it's only one day from April, but these things have meaning, and MLB should be in the business of preserving traditions instead of tearing them down so they can squeeze in another round of playoffs. I don't think you'll see the NFL starting its season on August 31 any time soon.
  • It's Easter Sunday! I'm not saying the world should stop just because my religion is celebrating its most holy day, but this is ridiculous. I think it says a lot about this country that we seriously considered stopping a war in an Islamic country for an entire month to respect their observance of Ramadan, yet we'll start our baseball seaon on the holiest day for the majority religion of our country.
  • It's a night game! Is it too much to ask that Opening Day happen in, you know, the daytime!? Yes, I know the sun was still shining is Southern California when the first pitch was thrown, but it just seems wrong that the first game of the season will end after most folks in the country have gone to bed.
    I'm not one of those super-traditionalists who thinks that World Series games should be played on weekday afternoons so kids can sneak listens to it in school in their transistor radios before running home to catch the late innings. But Opening Day!? Is it to much to ask that this happen during the daylight hours?
  • Cleveland at Anaheim? Could they have picked a more "blah" match-up. Whatever happened to MLB's first pitch happening in Cincinnati? Or why couldn't this have happened in a place with more baseball history like Cincinnati, here in St. Louis, Yankee Satdium, or even across town in Dodger Staduim? And these teams have absolutely no history with each other; they don't even play in the same division! Neither are predicted to contend, and neither has an Opeing Day tradition. I guess it could be worse -- we could have Marlins at Expos or some other abomination.
    Wait a minute -- ESPN is broadcasting the game. ESPN is owned by Disney. The Angels are owned by Disney. This is starting to get the unmistakable stench of "corporate synergy"!
  • Edison International Staduim? See above. Hmmm, the other energy company that paid for naming rights for a baseball stduim doesn't seem to be doing so well. Why does a utilty company need to shell out money for naming rights? How exactly was this explained to the shareholders?
    I'm with Jim Caple, let's call these stadiums what we want to call them -- in this case, Anahem Stadium, or "The Big A."
  • The Home Depot? Why exactly does Home Depot need to put that article there? Is this how they want us to refer to them? Why would a company want to make its name more unwieldly? Maked no sense to me.

I'm tired of MLB screwing with traditions like this, just so they can squeeze a few more TV dollars out of ESPN. MLB has the most short-sighted ownership group in sports. See their current labor strategy of trying to get the public to think the players a bunch of jerks. That'll get those turnstiles turning!

What bugs me about this so much is that I desperately want to like baseball, and most other folks do to. And MLB keeps showing how little they care about traditions like Opening Day, first by staging them in Japan and Puerto Rico ("to expand their markets") and now with this crap. So why should I care, again?

I was wondering why I wasn't hearing more people crow about this until I realized that I probably get 90% of my sports commentart from ESPN or its affiliates. ESPN has won the war with Fox for nightly recap shows, and has won the war with SportsLine and others for internet sports content. Slate is on the MSN network with ESPN. I'm not a fan of media consolidation conspiracy theories, but it's strange that I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness crying out against something that most baseball people should abhor.

I sincerely hope that next year's first pitch will be thrown in April. In Cincinnati. On a weekday. With the sun high in the sky. Somehow, I think it's more likely it'll be in the middle of the night in March 20 (or Good Friday) on the other side of the world. If so, I won't be watching.

Friday, March 29, 2002

WHY I FAVOR WOMEN IN THE PRIESTHOOD
In some of my posts, I have made passing reference to my belief that women should be ordained. I do not peddle this as a solution the the current scandals, it's something I happen to believe deeply. I really don't think one has to do with the other. But Novak's article led me to express my beliefs more clearly.

I don't beleive the Church is misogynist or is an "oppessive patriarchy." I simply recall Jesus's belief that you should not put a light under a bushel. If women are being called to the priesthood, and the Church won't let them, then we're putting bushels over lights, and that's wrong. I find this much more compelling than the beleif that Jesus intended for an all-male priesthood because tha Apostles were male. By this logic, all priests must also be Jewish.

But women have many other oppurtunites for service in the Church, some say. And this is true, but it is not a compelling argument for excluding them from this ministry, if they are so called.

Regardless of the "priest shortage", regardless of the current scandals, I think it is wrong to tell people that they cannot serve the Church as they feel called to because of their sex. We may be costing ourselves many wonderful priests by continuing this policy.
I WAS AFRAID THAT THIS PIECE
by Michael Novak would be another knee-jerk anti-liberal screed along the line of what Rod Dreher has been writing lately. The title "The Culture of 'Dissent'" did not raise my hopes. I was wrong.

Novak takes a nuanced look at what the Church is about, and how we've strayed away from what our core values are. He acknowledges that dissent is healthy, but not when it manifests itself as contempt and rebellion. I found this passage moving:

In recovery, we must first applaud our loyal, faithful, and hardworking priests, who have suffered great injustice.

The next step is to build a new Catholic culture on all the strengths of our inheritance. Not on liquid mush, but on the rock that Jesus chose. Human weakness is one thing; willful rebellion is another. Contempt for Rome was the starting place of the evil that befell us.

I don't agree with eveything Novak says -- yes, we may have gone too far towards stressing the "human" rather than the "divine", but a Catholic life in the knowledge of the Resurrection ought to be joyful. And the beginning of Christian life was gathering together to support each other.

Novak shares my paschal hope that some great good will come through this, and that the Church will emerge from this stronger. That strengthens my hope.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

PASCHAL PRAYERS
Tonight, I and Catholics begin our obervance of the Paschal Triduum, the three holiest days in the Church year, Suring this time, we celebrate the Paschal Mystery -- Jesus's life, death, and resurrection

But we don't believe it ends with Jesus. We beleive that this is still happening all the time, in our families, in our neightborhoods, and in our own personal lives. Resurrection, new life, comes on the other side of deep pain and terrible suffering. Death and destruction is not the end of the story -- it is transformed into a newer, glorious life.

Following are my hopes and prayers for how the Paschal Mystery will manifest itself in our world in the coming months and years.

  • The American Catholic Church will make neccesary changes to deal with the problems of conspiracy and silence in its hierarchy. We will do so in an honest manner that will not to bring down those who disagree with us, but to strengthen the Church, and help provide a deeper pool of priests. We will demonstrate in our dealing with this problem how seriously we take Christ's message, and there will be a deeper respect for the Church's teachings because of it.
  • Terrorism will no longer be seen as an acceptable means to address one's issues.
  • Regimes and establishments that facillitate conditions of starvation will break down, and food and water will flow to people who have none.
  • Advances from adult stem cell research will make reasearch that involves the destruction of embryos unneccesary.
  • We will find a solution to the "education gap" between poor children and rich children that continues the legacy of past prejudices, resulting in a more authentically diverse next generation of leaders.
  • The US will find a more just use for the money, time, energy, and talent currently being used in the drug war to little effect.
  • The sense of unity theat came from 9/11 will continue through this year's elections, and they will be honest and fair, while maintaining honesty about disagreements.


Yes, many of these things are unreasonable, but that's one of the great things about living with Faith -- you can hope for the unreasonable.
NL WEST PREVIEW
  1. Colorado Rockies: Suprise winner in wide-ope division
  2. San Francisco Giants: As usual, a decent and well-managed, but not spectacular team
  3. San Diego Padres: Could surpirse and win the division
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks: Seems likely either Schilling or Johnson will go down at some point. Since they are pretty much the team, that will cost them
  5. Los Angeles Dodgers: Underachieving for the last 10 years.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

SHOUT OUT?
Rod Dreher titled his latest post about the Catholic scandal "DOG BITES MAN!"

Coincidence? Most likely.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

NL CENTRAL PREVIEW
  1. Houston Astros: Think they'll put it together with a good youg pitching staff and a new manager.
  2. St. Louis Cardinals: I'm betting a lot of regulars (notably J.D. Drew, Jim Edmonds, and Darryl Kile) get slowed by injuries this year.
  3. Chicago Cubs: Making some efforts to win, but still have some gaping holes
  4. Cincinnati Reds: Pretty good everyday lineup; scary rotation
  5. Milwaukee Brewers: Lousy ptiching staff speels doom for Selig's boys.
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates: Not much to like here, even if "Operation Shutdown" never comes to pass
MSBC LETTER WRITERS GET IT
There's some interesting responses to Anna Quindlen's column on the priest sexual abuse scandal, that I took on here. Writers resent her knee-jerk antipathy towards the hierarchy, as well as her out-of context quotes.

What bugs me more than anything is that I think some outsiders think Quindlen is the voice of the Catholic laity. People read Quindlen, and conclude that the Church is "out of touch" with the faithful laity. Well, Quindlen doesn't speak for me any more than I speak for her. There are lots of Catholics who support the Catholic views on sexuality, and don't think that the current scandal is a natural result of backwards teachings on sex.

I wish Quindlen would engage in real discussion about the teachings she considers incorrect rather than merely scoffing at them and pronouncing them out of touch because they run against the culture. That could be a productive conversation, both for Quindlen and the Church.

As it is, she does not seem to be coming from a love of the Church, but rather utter disdain for it. That may be understandable, but it is not a good starting point for progress.

Monday, March 25, 2002

I FOUND ONE LINE IN THIS PASSAGE ABOUT POST 9/11 HUMOR
interesting:

There appears to be a willingness to give up a little liberty in exchange for fewer hurt feelings.

Is this something new? Isn't this what we've been doing in the past 20 years with campus speech codes and broad sexual harrassment laws? Didn't a man lose his job for sharing a naughty Seinfeld punch-line long before 9/11?

I really find it interesting how folks are just now realizing that telling people what they're allowed to say is bad. We've been giving up liberty in exchange for fewer hurt feelings for some time now. Only now, since the left-media are those being restricted, they're beginning to notice.
ANNA QUINDLEN IS THE LATEST TO SAY
that the answer to the priestly abuse scandal is.... to adopt the agenda she's been floating all along!

I'm going to do my first full cop-and-paste takedown, so those who bet on "Anna Quindlen" for first Man Bites Blog take down can collect now.

In the middle of last month Cardinal Edward Egan, who leads the Archdiocese of New York, lamented that the Roman Catholic church was “under siege” and threatened with a situation that might put it “out of business.”
EACH DAY BROUGHT new revelations of pedophile priests, each morning new stories of young Catholics victimized by the men they had been raised to call Father. But the cardinal was sounding the alarm about something altogether different. In the midst of the greatest scandal to engulf the church in his lifetime, he was irate about legislation that would require mandatory health-insurance coverage for contraceptives in New York state. His anger brought to mind the Gospel of the Sunday before, in which Jesus gave a blind man back his sight while one of the Pharisees criticized him because he had performed the miracle on the Sabbath.

I guess Quindlen is saying that the Church should slam on the brakes, and stop being what it is because there's a scandal. This means that nobody in the Church has the right to be irate about anything. I'm also always supicious of one-word quotes taken out of context.

Missing the point has become the stock in trade of many of those who purport to lead the world’s Catholics. And they are about to miss it again as they talk of better psychological screening for seminarians, of finally relinquishing the role of prosecutor to actual law-enforcement authorities, of ministering to victims, of agonizing over how in the world all this could have happened.

But I'm sure Anna Quindlen hasn't missed the point! Silly us, we were trying to address the problem at hand. This would be as silly as attacking al Qaida for the 9/11 attacks rather than studying the "root causes."

Perhaps they might want to ask the ordinary Catholics who have been too little consulted by the highhanded hierarchy. We understand that in the world of “Father knows best” in which we came of age, all this was bound to occur. For too many years, the church seemed to have a bizarre preoccupation with sins of the flesh so unrelenting that, to this day, people will ask if the nuns taught me that patent-leather shoes reflect up. (No.)

So, we should hold it against the Church that others perceive it as preoccupied with sex. As evidence, Quindlen produces an incorrect and ignorant assumption "people" have about Catholic education.

And, contrary to what Quindlen believes, many "ordinary Catholics" share the hierarchy's views about sexuality and its place in our lives. Note that the editor riffed off this quote for the headline. Hmmm, I guess I should have expected this from a writer who resurrected the long debunked myth that Bush 41 didn't know what a supermarket scanner was so she could show how out of touch Republicans are. Even false stories are valuable when you're pursuing your agenda!

The enforced celibacy of the male priesthood, an invention only of the faith’s second millennium, taught a clear lesson: eschewing human sexuality was the greatest glory of the highest calling. (“Our ideal is not to experience desire at all.”—Clement of Alexandria, saint.)

Here's our first out-of-context quote from a saint.

Does the fact that this is a later invention mean it's wrong? Mass in the vernacular is an invention only of the faith's 20th Century, does that mean it's not a good idea?

There are several good reasons for celibacy. Dedication to Church without the distraction of a family, for instance. But no, to Quindlen it's all some backwards attitude about sex.


The ban on contraception taught that sex could be countenanced only when it could lead to pregnancy. There was no passion or pleasure, only procreation and punishment.

Explain to me why procreative sex has "no passion or pleasure, only procreation and punishment?" Where exactly did punishment come from, anyway?

Here, Quidlen is recycling one of the worst slanders others throw at the Church -- that we think sex is inherently dirty. Maybe she was not catechized correctly, but that could not be farther from the Church's position.

Of course, there was power, too, the absolute power of the priest, a man whose psychosexual development often became becalmed in what Eugene Kennedy, the psychologist and former priest, describes as “a child’s-garden-of-verses world in seminaries and novitiates,” a world customarily entered in adolescence, when most of us are just beginning to learn about the uses and abuses of sexuality.

Here, I sort of agree with Quindlen. At the very least, the fact that the abusing priests were dealt with exclusively by celibate priests who will never have children is troubling. The laity needs to be more involved in the decision-making process.

Out of such preparation, with such sentiments, how could there not be some whose sexual impulses would be perverted into twisted power relationships with children or unformed young adults?

Well, the priests in question could have excercised their gift of free will and not done so, thats how.

“They reached towards children,” Kennedy writes, “for children they were themselves.” And despite the church’s antipathy toward homosexuality, it was inevitable that most of those victimized would be male. After all, the teachings about ordination and celibacy and the evils of desire had as their subtext a misogyny that would lead any reasonable person to conclude that sex with a female is the lowest form of sexual expression. (“Nothing is so powerful in drawing the spirit of a man downwards as the caresses of a woman.”— Augustine of Hippo, saint.)

Make that two out-of-context quotes from saints.

I think I'm reasonable, and I've somehow managed to avoid that conclusion; my marriage is evidence. Lots of other married Catholic men have apparently not succumbed to the elegance of this logic, either. Quindlen has apparently avoided that conclusion as well, though her reasonableness can be questioned.

Where is this misogyny coming from? What does she cite as evidence? If this were the case, wouldn't the Church be more in favor of male homosexuality? Would Quindlen go so far as to label male homosexuality as a form of misogyny? I didn't think so.

Even when a kinder, gentler Catholicism began to flower after Vatican II, pregnancy politics often threatened to crowd out social action, and questions about the ordination of women were sometimes treated like the most unthinkable blasphemy.

Read the pope's statements. Read the bishops's statements. It seems to me they talk a lot more about socail action than "pregnancy politics."

We didn’t understand, some of the bishops say now about the pedophiles among them, moved from parish to parish, with fresh choirboys to importune and then hush. We thought they could change. We thought they could be cured. We didn’t know. There is so much they didn’t know years ago, and yet about which they were so certain. They didn’t know what it was to bear and rear a half-dozen children, to turn away at night not because of coldness but because of mother fatigue. They didn’t know what it was like to drag along in the harness of a dreadful marriage, dying by inches. But no birth control, they said, no divorce. No self-abuse, no petting, no impure thoughts. The church of a Jesus who let Mary Magdalene caress his feet threatened to be swamped by an icy sea of sexual prohibition

This week, we remember Jesus's accepting of torture and death by cruicifixion when he had done nothing wrong. Yet, Quindlen tells us that it is too much for Catholics to bear to respect promises they have made and to not be freed from the consquences of their sexual activity.

The bishops gathered wood for this current conflagration every time they turned away from the human condition to emphasize wayward genitalia. They must be amazed at how harshly they are now judged after all those years of deference, when they were allowed to make their own laws. Perhaps they sense that they are being judged with the ferocity of those accustomed to being judged harshly themselves. The judgment of divorced Catholics reborn in good marriages ordered not to go to communion. The judgment of women up all night with sick babies lectured about the sanctity of life.

Whoah, there... Is Quindlen saying the Church should come out in favor of infanticide for sick babies keeping their parents (yes, fathers sometimes stay up all night, too) up all night? That we should reserve judgement because, well, life is tough.

Yes, life is tough. And yes, the Church is wary of human institutions that shield us from the consequence of out choices, and is sometimes needlessly cold in doing so. I'll take that rather than reserving judgement for infanticide.

By the way, what were we talking about, again? Oh, right, the hierarchy cover-ups of priests who had improper sexual relationships with underage boys. Hmmm, seems like the Church's harsh judegement on divorce and infanticide is a long way off from there, isn't it? We've only got a paragraph and a half left; we better be making a connection soon.


The judgment of hardworking, devoted priests who have watched the hierarchy cover up the dirt that sullies them, too. The judgment of now grown children who have taken to drink, drugs, domestic violence, because of the shadow that Father’s wandering hands have cast over their lives.


Ah, yes, there's a connection

Might I add the judgement of agenda-driven columnists who are taking advantage of this scandal as an excuse to air all the grievances they have with the Church..

Now there is some new talk of allowing priests to marry, even the occasional radical suggestion that the notion of ordaining women might be revisited. That’s the way, isn’t it? As soon as a job is devalued enough, they offer it to us. Perhaps, in this case, too late. (“I don’t care to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”— Groucho of Marx, wise guy.)

Yeah, that's exactly it. Like National Security Advisor, or Supreme Court Justice, or Secretary of State, or Attorney General.

That was the point of this scandal all along -- create enough controversey around the priesthood, so we can knock it down a few pegs to allow chicks in to help the shortage. Dang, I guess we couldn't fool her!

When the sad stories were told from the pulpit of dwindling vocations, there was always this underlying notion of selfishness, of a smirking guy with a beer and a babe not great enough to give himself up to the service of God. Instead there is now a sense of a priestly existence so out of balance, so estranged from normal human intercourse that, for some, the rapacious pursuit of altar boys passes for intimacy. The leaders of the church miss the point. This is not simply about pedophilia. It is about a pathology deep and wide, a pathology that allows blindness to continue as long as the Sabbath is observed.

So, is she saying we'll never get past this, or should we stop observing the Sabbath?

I've read this a couple times, and I haven't yet figured out what Quindlen's point is. She doesn't like the Church's teachings about sex and birth control, but we knew that already. It's just a weak attempt to connect her problems with the Church to the current scandal.

Why do I dislike this so much? Not I only do I not get the sense that Quindlen thinks that the Church will emerge from this stronger, having made some neccesary changes, I get the feeling she doesn't want it to. That she's hoping this ruins the Church, so that it will have little choice but to adopt her aganda. And this I don't like.

This is a serious time for the Church. I pray that we can all rise above our own agendas, and work together to mkae the changes we need to make.
RAND SIMBERG TAKES DOWN CHIRS MATTHEWS
As Jonah Goldberg notes, Matthews has been obsessed with "neo-conservatives" (scare quotes his) lately, and their destructive influence on the Administration.

What Matthews fails to do is define "neo-conservatism", and trace how this ideology results in an obsession with attacking Iraq. To read Matthews, you'd think that it was an ideology entirely built around invading Iraq.
WE ARE ALL WRITERS NOW
This thought ocurred to me while reading Eric Alterman's screed agsint Andrew Sullivan, primarily based on Sullivan's lifestyle and the fact the he has a weblog.

The blogging phenomenon has proven one thing -- we are all writers now. Almost all white collar jobs require some degree of effective written communication, and many blue collar jobs as well. Reading and writing effectively is always listed as the primary goal of education; schools that make it a lower priority open themselves up to criticism. Even for "techie" jobs like mine, communication skills are more highly valued than technical skills.

This is scary for people who make their living by writing. If almost everyone has developed the same skill, then how can professionals charge a premium for their services? They can't -- they'll have to distinguish themselves with a uinique perspective, cleverness, or information. Mere competence in composition skill won't cut it any more.

I've thought of this with regard to my own career in software development. I hold a computer science degree from a Top 20 university, but that's becoming less and less relevant. As generations become more and more proficient with technology, and the techonology becomes more accessible, there won't be as much need for "professional software developers" anymore, since that skill won't be so uncommon. This has already started, with the rash of "script kiddies" who quickly became proficient in technologies like HTML, Visual Basic, VBScript, and JavaScript. These skills will become less unique, and professionals will have to find new ways to distinguish themselves.

This is good news for quality, as the works that gain prominenece will be those with unique insights, not those who had the money, time, and inclination to sit through a bunch of classes. But it's bad news for those who have been resting on their degrees and the fact that they've "paid their dues."

BASEBALL PREVIEWS
In the next six days, we'll take a tour of the six major league divisions with my predictions for each.

National League East
  1. Philadelphia Phillies: Yes, a (native) hometown pick. But I think they've put everything together. They've got a great pitching staff, and are strong at every position, especially if Marlon Byrd plays well enough to supplant Doug Glanville in CF. It will be interesting to see if management can pull the trigger on a deadline deal that helps the team, and that doesn't mean dumping Scott Rolen.
  2. Atlanta Braves: The addition of Gary Sheffield and moving Chipper Jones to LF gives the Braves one of the best outfields of all time. The only problem is that Rafael Furcal is the only infielder with any pop. Their pitching will always help them be a contender, though it seems a lot thinner than it has been. I think they begin to fall here.
  3. Florida Marlins: Exciting, young team that plays in front of friends and family in Miami.
  4. New York Mets: I don't think the chemistry is going to be right here, and this is team will wilt under intense pressure. I predict that Valentine, and then Phillips, will be fired here. Great looking team on paper, but I think injuries and lackluster starting pitching will catch up to them.
  5. Montreal Expos: What a weird situation! Lots of talent, but it's hard to see them playing well in their lame-duck status. It will be interesting to see how this team deals at the deadline, whether they're in contention or not.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

TIP JAR BINGE
I've just dropped a few bucks in the tip jars of the blogs I visit most frequently. I encourage the rest of you to do the same. Man Bites Blog won't ask for your money until its daily hit counts regularly break double digits.
ROD DREHER REVEALS HIS CONTEMPT
A recent Corner post from Dreher includes this passage:

They quote two members of the radical left-wing organization Call to Action, the dissenting theologian Richard McBrien, and the liberal academician Scott Appleby. The only believing Catholic they bothered to talk to was Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

Emphasis mine. Dreher leaves no room for the idea that one could disagree with the Church on some things (probably just on sexuality) and still be a believing Catholic. If Dreher think these people are incorrect, he should argue against them directly, rather than calling them "dissenters" and thereby dismissing them. The Church is never going to grow and become the Kingdom of God if we do not allow for some disagreement.

I go to Mass every week. I teach 7th grade PSR. I am pro-life. I detest the death penalty. I believe there is wisdom in the Church's teachings on birth control. But I think Dreher would not think I'm a "believing Catholic" because I think women ought to be included in the preisthood.and I have grave concerns about how we're treating gays and lesbians in the Church. And I don't like it.

The more I read from Dreher, the more I conclude that he's more interested in pursuing his agenda of "cleaning out diseent" and getting gays out of the priesthood than he is in solving the problem of silence in the hierarchy about abusing priests. He'd argue that it's one and the same, but I get the feeling that he's drumming up outrage to further his agenda rather than to shed light on the problem. And that leads me to doubt some of his reports, as Kathryn Jean Lopez has, and I'm sure Dreher would have no problem calling Lopez a "believing Catholic."

Friday, March 22, 2002

MORE CATHOLIC STUFF!
If you just can't get enough of JohnMcG commentary on the scandal in the Catholic Church, you can peer on on this discussion with Tony Adragna and others about what should be done. Tony thinks the seal of confession needs to be amended; I disgree.

Oh, and If you're coming from Kevin Holtsberry's site looking for my thoughts on the "lifestyle conservatism" debate, that post is here, my first post yesterday.

Kathy Kinsley explains why some blogspot permalinks aren't working right; I've fixed mine now.
SO MUCH FOR MY BRACKET
In connection with Bryan Curtis's sportswriter bracket, I think we should have a "blogger bracket" next year, and see how it compares.

This would make the current feud between Maryland-backer Bryan Preston and Kentcuky fan susanna cornett (who also has excellent takedown of Andrea Yates apologizer Anne Taylor Fleming) Should be interesting to see how each reacts to the results of tonight's game. For the record, I think Maryland will win; I give no points to Kentucky for "winning gently."

Thursday, March 21, 2002

THE CASE FOR A HIERARCHY
The pedophile scandal has brought a lot of criticism on the Church's hierarchial structure. Critics have said that other churches that lack such a hierarchy don't have cover-ups like this because the ministers are accountable to their congregations, not another cleric.

But the Catholic Church has a unity throughout the world that other congregations lack. I can walk into a Catholic Church in any part of the world, and celebrate the same prayers. There's great power in that. There's comfort in knowing that my parents in NewJersey are celebrating the same Mass that I am in St. Louis, and that we're connected to each other.

It also enables the Catholic Church to speak with one voice. Does the Muslim faith allow for the killing of non-Muslims. Some leaders say yes; others say no. We can't know for sure because there is no single person who represents Islam. The pope represents the Catholic Church, and can speak definitively for all of us. Thus, the Chruch can speak out strongly and unequivocally against those who would commit misdeeds in her name.

The current scandals have woken the laity up, and reminded us that we must be more involved with what goes on in the Church. But they are not a condemnsation of the idea of a hierarchy. It is an important unifying force that enables the Church to truly be universal.
YET ANOTHER CATHOLIC SCANDAL THOUGHT
An argument that's been trotted out for getting rid of the vow of celibacy for priests is that the celibacy vow attracts pedophiles to the priesthood, in the hope that the vow will "shackle" their desires. This fails, the priests abuse children.

My question is this -- if the Church were to drop the celibacy vow tomorrow, would that change the fact that these pedophiles exist? They just wouldn't be priests. But that wouldn't stop them from abusing children. It seems to me that it would be awful self-serving and un-Christ like for the Church to dump the celibacy requirement for this reason, when the desired result would not be to prevent child abuse, but just make it someone else's problem.
ANDREW SULLIVAN ECHOES
my thoughts about sexual morality's place in the Church. But he goes a bit farther than I would.

I agree that some Church conservatives like Dreher place sexual morality on a higher plane than it should be. It seems that they'd be OK with a Catholic who was iffy about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and Jesus's calls for social justice, so long as they were in lock-step about birth control. But I disagree that the American Church is "obsessed with sex." As Dreher has noted, one could attend Mass every week for years on end before one would hear a priest address sexual morality in his homily.

I think the Church's teachings on sexuality are important, and I also think they've been somewhat distorted into "Catholics think sex is dirty." I don't think the answer to this scandal is to define our standards down to the lowest common denominator just so we can be open. But I do think we have to stop demonizing people's natural urges and recognize the difference between thoughts and actions.
GLENN REYNOLS HAS BEEN WRITING THAT
lifestyle conservatism is hurting the Republican Party.

He says that people like John Ashcroft scare off voters who would otherwise be inclined to vote Republican. Reynolds says is doesn't matter if conservative are right about these issues, since it still prevents Republiucans from building a coalition that includes social libertines.

Too bad. If conservatives really believe they're correct on these issues, they would be wrong to shut up about them just to gain power. Because what good is the power if you've already given up everything you would want to accomplish with that power?

And maybe the people who feel "uncomfortable" with it are wrong. Some people probably aren't too comfortable with blacks or women or gays having prominent posistions in the administration. Too bad -- they're wrong. And it would be equally wrong to not appoint minorities to Administration position so as not to "scare off" those who are uncomfortable.

That's what leadership's about. To abandon these positions because some people are uncomfortable with them would be a failure of leadership.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

SILENT VICTIMS
Michael Kelly "wanted to get up and leave ... in disgust" when a priest included the pedophilia victims and their parents as complicit in the "sin of silence".

But why? Does a person's victim status relieve them of all moral responsibility? Is it OK to let your silence be purchased so long as you were hurt really bad?

I understand that there's a slightly different dynamic when your people in representing your Church tells you that it's the right thing to do. But, I think a big part of our problems today in this country is that we expect nothing from victims. I had hoped that 9/11 taught us all that even victims have duties and responsibilities.

I'm not saying that these problems are primarily the victims' fault, and that's not what Kelly's priest was saying, either. But I don't think it's "disgusting" to observe that the victims did play a part in this with their silence, and I think it's healthy for the Church to encourage people who are hurting to make noise about it.

This strikes me as a lot healthier then Rod Dreher's solution of "cleaning out dissent."
HOW WILL WE REACT?
When I look at how people are reacting to the current scandal in the Catholic Church, I unfortunately see a lot of the same old thing -- people are pursuing the agendas they've been pursuing all along, only dressing it up so that it looks like a solution to the current scandal. Unfortunately, these remedies have at best tenuous connections to the problem at hand, and do nothing but breed conflict in the Church.

Take Rod Dreher's call to arms for orthodox Catholics. Dreher limits his definition of "orthodox" to sexual morality. I wonder if NRO is equally vigilant in answering the pope's call for social justice and an end to the death penalty, which he talks about much more than sexual morality. Like Glenn Reynolds I feel like Dreher's run a bait-and-switch. First, get everyone upset about pedophilia and Church cover-ups, then tell us that it's not pedophila at all, but "pederasty", and the solution is to get rid of gay priests. Whoah, there!

I am most disturbed Dreher's call to "clean out the seminaries of dissenters." Dreher lists this as the first priority, adding zero tolerance for sexual abusers as an afterthought. This is completely inconsistent with any regard for the Church as "the Body of Christ." If my hand tells my brain that it's hurting, I don't react by cutting it off. We are one Church, one Body.

Unfortunately Andrew Sullivan is little better. Although I agree with his call for women in the priesthood, I fail to see the connection between that and pedophilia. It seems like Sullivan is desperate to change the subject from what's going on in the seminaries, which does seem to me to be a serious problem. (See his vain search for a double standard) If the seminaries are little more than brothels, then how do we expect priests to then instantly switch to complete chastity when they arrive at the parishes? I wouldn't prepare for a chaste marriage by sleeping around.

Now, this is not a reason to go on a witch-hunt against gay priests and those who question the Church's teachings. But it is a reason the shed some light on what's going on in the seminaries, and see if it's preparing these men for a lifetime of chaste service.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

STANLEY KURTZ NOTES CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS'S
calmness in the face of protestors. Does this mean NYT magazine will call her a "voice to calm angry feminists" like Khaled Al-Maeena?

Monday, March 18, 2002

KEN LAYNE TAKEA DOWN NYT MAGAZINE
for allowing the Arab News's Editor to indulge in some anti-Saudi strawman bashing.

Oooh, Khaled Al-Maeena must be right about everything, since he's considerably more civil than the few emailers he hand-picks. Yes, the "hate mail" is uncivil, but that doesn't mean that the writers don't have a point, or that these selected writers are representative of readers who diagree with what the Arab News reports..

So, I guess if Rich Lowry were to responsd in a civil manner to all that hate mail he's received for his quoted-out-of-context examination of whether we would find ourselves in a position where we should nuke Mecca, that would make him a "voice of peace" and "unabashed Muslim lover" who is "soothing Arab anger." Or does it not work the same way for Americans?
STRRRREETECHING FOR A DOUBLE STANDARD
Andrew Sullivan attempts to equate priests having sex with underage boys with John Derbyshire ogling over a 19 year old actress.

Come on, I've roundly criticized NRO's using this issue to start a witch-hunt against gay priests, but there is no equivalence. This is almost as bad as equating negligence with murder.
GLENN REYNOLDS TAKES NOTE OF THE RUSH TO JUDGE RUSSELL YATES.

I've taken this up as well (scroll down to the post with the "Brainy Smurf" avatar). It really bugs me how little compassion people have for a man who had all five of his children killed, and now will have his wife imprisoned for life. Frequently, these are the same people who deride others for their lack of compassion of Andrea Yates's PPP.

My facorites are those who insist that Rusell Yates is "just as guilty". Really? The couple seemed to excercise poor judgement, but this is in no way equivalent to drwoning five children. I fear for our society when we fail to see the difference.

There's also a bit of unspoken bigotry going on here. Since they were a white Southern Christians, Russell Yates must have unilaterally imposed his will on the entire family, and thus is solely responsible for the negative consequences of the decisions. Were Yates's critics present in the household? Are they privy to the decision-making process in that family? Do they know how what Andrea Yates wanted? No, but that doesn't stop them from making assumptions based on race and religion.

Friday, March 15, 2002

MY FIRST FINAL FOUR TEAM BITES THE DUST
Oh well...
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON HAS SOME GOOD QUESTIONS
for those who think that our current conflict is America's fault.

Bill Quick has a poll question for Islamic countries that would likely have disturbing results.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

JOHN'S FINAL FOUR PICKS
Duke, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Florida
Championship Game: Duke over Maryland

I think that in the 15 or so years that I've filled out a bracket, I've probably picked Duke to win about 10 times. There are less effective stategies, as Duke has actually won the tournament three times in that time, but I can't help but think I'm slipping into Chirs Berman type predictability ("This year's Super Bowl prediction: Bills over 49ers" -- Funny thing is he was half-right for about 8 straight years).

Duke's late losses notwithstanding, I think Jason Williams is head and shoulders above all other college players. Plus, he plays the most important position on the court for this tournament, and is surrounded by other great players like Boozer and Dunleavy. Duke's ability to attract NBA-quality players who want to stay for more than two years is a tremendous competitive advantage in today's college basketball environment, where the best players usually jump to the NBA after little or no time in college.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

ROD DREHER ANSWERS ANDREW SULLIVAN'S CRITICISMS
which closely mirror mine.

As I wrote below, I don't beleive the Church is being overrun with the gay subculture because today's Church looks a lot different from what one would expect it to look like if that were the case. I do not know what is going on in the seminaries, but the anecdotes Dreher quotes sound suspicously like bitter people trying to blame their own failure on others.

Dreher's concern for the theological integrity rings hollow. It assumes being Catholic is about sexual morality first, second, and third. I agree with Catholic teachings concerning secual conduct, and I take very seriously my role in teaching it to the 7th graders in my PSR class. But the Catholic Church is about a whole lot more than just sexual morality. Jesus didn't talk very much about sexual morality either, does that mean He was trying to "change the belief of the people by not teaching the truth?" Please.

Light should be shone on the seminaries and the ordination process. But I do not share Dreher's paranoia that a predominantly gay priesthood is a threat to orthodox Catholicism. Especially when orthodox Catholicism offers gays so few options.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

I"M NOT SURE WHAT THE DEAL IS WITH ESPN'S WASHINGTON WEEK
I guess we've reached a lull in the sports world, after the Olympics and Super Bowl, before basketball and hockey tournaments and Opening Day, so they need to give their columnists something to do.

Still, I don't get why the sports scene is Washington is all that much more worthy of study than any other city right now. True, D.C. is trying to woo a baseball team, but almost avery city that has three of the "big four" sports seems to be constantly wooing the other one. The rumors of some NBA team moving here to St. Louis are a yearly occurrence.

It all just seems like an excuse to blow some Disney expense money, and tap into the patriotic moods. So far, I'm not that impressed...
RIGHT FROM WRONG?
One of Andrea Yates's lawyers was on Today this morning. He was talking about how in order to prove that Andrea Yates id insane, it is not neccesary to prove that she didn't know that everyone else thought it was wrong, only that she herself didn't think she was doing anything wrong. Naturally, Katie (let's generate more awarenes for PPP) Couric failed to pounce on that. The whole tone of the interview was "how are you going to convince these bloodthirsty luddites in the jury to come to the conclusion that we all know is correct, that Andrea Yates is insane and ought not be punished, despite the prosecution's fetishistic obsession with the fact that there are five dead children"

Do I need to say how ridiculous it it? If I think a rich person has too much money, does that make it OK for me to steal his car, even though I know society disapproves of it? Talk about Pandora's Box... This is the rock bottom of the moral relativism slippery slope -- if in my mind I don't think it's wrong, then you can't punish me for it, even if I know everyone else thinks it's wrong.

Let's hope the jury doesn't adopt this ridiculous standard. I still don't think Yates ought to be put to death, but let's not create phony standards that would make it impossible to punish anybody.

Monday, March 11, 2002

ROD DREHER CONTINUES HIS GAY PRIESTHOOD PARANOIA
I have a question -- if the American Chuch hierarchy is so overrun by gays and the gay culture, and so embracing of "dissent", than why hasn't the American Catholic Church married any same-sex couples? Why do many gays in the laity feel unwelcome in the Church? Why are current faithful gay priests fearful about rehotric like Dreher's? Why have Catholics who work with gay people been instructed to cease? It seems like if the American bishops were so pro-gay and unfaithful, the American Church would look a lot different than it does.

Dreher clarifies that he was against practicing homosexuals rather than those who respect their vow of celibacy. Nevertheless, he has blurred this line in many of his comments, and linked approvingly to other writers who make no distinction. It seems to me that Dreher is advancing an agenda that has little to do with the cover-up of abusing priests. And I find the use of this scandal to advance this agenda despicable.
AS TED RALL FALLS FURTHER AND FURTHER INTO SELF-PARODY, I'VE BEEN THINKING
that the market for editorial cartoonists in too big.

Looking at Rall's cartoons, I think that not only am I not amused or perusaded, but it's hard to imagine anyone being amused or persuaded by the cartoons, even those who share his viewpoints. It's hard to figure out why he has a job.

Think of what an editorial cartoonist has to do. Every day, find something in the news to make a point about, and draw an amusing one-panel (or several panel in Rall's case) strip making fun of some aspect of it, preferably in a tasteful way. Think about it -- this requires analytical skills, a sense of humor, artistic ability, and a sense of taste. How many people in the country have this talent? Enough that every city newspaper can hire one? I doubt it.

So, is it any wonder that we get hacks like Rall, who put out tasteless, unfunny comics? I don't think so. Newspapers that employe folks like him should cut them in the next round of cost-cutting, and pick up a syndicated comic from one of the few people who can actually do this. They do this in other things -- how many newspapers does Dave Barry's column run in? It would make sense to do it here as well.

As it is now, we've got a wall of mediocrity, and they only way through it is to be offensive like Rall was. I honestly cannot remember the last time I even got a chuckle out of an editorial cartoon.
RAMESH PONNURU RIGHTFULLY TAKES ON ROD DREHER
for his call to ban gays from the priesthood.

I have to say that Dreher's recent posts on this issue are troubling. He's been referring to the problem "pederasty" rather than "pedophilia," a subtle way of linking the abuse to ordinary homosexuality. If homosexuality in the priesthood is contrubuting to the problem (something I sincerely doubt), then shouldn't an honest evaluation of the problem include and consideration of the limited options available to gay Catholics?

Let's remember what started this. Priests who had abused children were sheltered by the Church and put into situation where they can abuse again. Dreher seems to be taking this oppurtunity to grind a separate axe about gays in the preisthood. As I've mentioned before rooting gays out of the priesthood would be a counterporductive step that wouldn't solve the real problem.

I've been hard on Dreher here. He did a good job of bringing this story to light, and forcing us to confront it. But the remedies he's been favoring, and his apparent distaste for gays, aren't going to solve anything, and would hurt the Church in the long term.
MORE ON CLONING
Todd Seavey lays out waht seems to be the pro-cloning argument these days:
  • Insist that those opposed to cloning equate a zygote or embryo with a children and adults.
  • Describe the zygote using words that have little aesthetic appeal. Some hits include "cluster of cells","mindless lump of tissue", "microscopic collection", and other phrases to make people believe their not human.
  • Compare zygotes unfavorably with childeren with diseases and celebrities who have diseases like Michael J. Fox, Christopher Reeve, and Michael Kinsley. Remind readers that research could save these people's lives, but the anti-cloners value the zygotes described in the bullet point above more than these people.
  • Conclude that cloning's opponents are extremists who don't get it, and are callous in the face of real suffering.


In fairness to Seavey, he does seem to at least be trying to be respectful to anti-cloning arguments, especially considering the piece is titled "Editor's Rant," and his apparent contempt for anti-cloners. Still, I have to confront the fallacies in this argument.

One is that pro-lifers consider zygotes to have all the rights of a child or adult. This is not the case, as evidenced my most pro-lifers' support for a "save the life of the mother" exception to abortion bans. We do believe that people already born have more rights than embryos and even fetuses, but hold the pre-born's right not to be killed as higher than the born person's "right" to be free of disease. I really don't think this is such an "extreme" argument.

Seavey writes that opposition to theraputic cloning "becomes a potential form of indirect mass murder in itself, leading as it does to the squelching of valuable, potentially life-saving research." Now, the anti-cloners aren't killing these people, the diseases are. There is no equivalence between murder and opposing a potentially life-saving research avenure for ethical concerns. Seavey's attempt to draw this equivalence reveals a level of desperation on his part.

Seavey goes on to echo Glenn Reynolds's favorite argument -- that opposition to theraputic cloning boils down to "moral revulsion," and this shouldn't be trusted. As I've said before, I'd give this argument a lot more credence if it's proponents would a.) make an argument against anything that doesn't boil down to moral revulsion, and b.) not try to dehumanize embryos by describing their physical characteristics, and not try drum up sympathy by telling sad tales about celebrities. If emotional appeals and aesthetics don't count in making an argument agaist cloning, they shouldn't count in making an argument for it, either.

Wonder how long it will take InstaPundit to favorably link to Seavey's article...
CONDEMN THIS!
I alos feel like conservatives are asked to condemn some action or statement from anothet conservative much more often than liberals are. I'm not sure why that it. Maybe because conservatives are more independent, or maybe conservatice say and do more goofy things. Still, it seems every week, someone's making the rounds about how conservatives have been too slow to condemn some foolish muttering of Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell or some action of the Bush Administration. Some liberal was recently arguing that Ann Coulter was "never condemned" for her "convert them to Christianity" wrtings after 9/11, despite the fact that she was fired from her column at NRO. It doesn't seem like liberals have to apologize for their Michael Moore's quite as often.

Maybe it's because when conservatives say goofy things, they usually smack of racism, sexism, or homophpobia. So if a conservative "fails to condemn" them, they're "insensitive." But when leftists launch tirades against "America" or "whites", there's no organized group to take offense.

Just an observation...
WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?
Ken Layne and Glenn Reyonlds have excellent answeres to Nick Denton's criticism that the conservative Blogosphere hasn't taken on the steel tariff story.

I especially liked what Reyonolds says here:

And InstaPundit is about what interests me, first, second, and third. I'm not a freakin' newspaper here.

And this is what makes blogs different from any other medium. We write about what we're passionate about, and what we know about -- our postings aren't governed by artificial concerns for balance. Yes, this makes it bad of you make InstaPundit your sole news source, but I'm sure Reynolds would be the first to say that that would be a bad idea. When bloggers start trying to be all things to all people, when they start wrting about things they don't really care about to satisfy critics like Denton, then this medium will be the same as everything else. People visit blogs to read about what the writers have to say, not for a balanced look at the news.

THE PHONE CALL
People keep pointing to the phone call Andrea Yates made to the police after drowning her children as evidence of her sanity, making her more deserving of a death sentence.

I'm not an expert on sanity and insanity or Texas law, so I can't really say with authority whether this means she should be found insane. But I do think that if she is found sane, the phone call should be a mitigating factor that would lead against putting her to death. It seems to me that it would be good for society to provide some incentive for murderers to confess to their crimes and turn themselves in. Yates didn't lead the authorities on a wild goose chase looking for the killers, which would have used considereable resources. Compare this to someone like Susan Smith, who tried to play off people's racism to avoid responsibility. I'm not saying this makes it OK that Yates killed her kids, but I do think it's something that should be considered during the penalty phase.

I should probably point out here that I oppose the death penalty as strongly as I oppose anything. But I think my argument above holds even if one assumes the presence of the death penalty.

Friday, March 08, 2002

THE FIRST SENTENCE OF MICHAEL MORAN'S PIECE ON THE WAR READS:

FOR THE FIRST time since the bombardment began in early October, American command miscalculations have produced significant American casualties.

Moran then spends the rest of the column criticizing the Pentagon for being too casualties-phobic, since this is not Vietnam, and the American people can take it.

My question is what are there "aggressive policies" that would have cost fewer than eight lives? Moran seems to be eating his cake and having it, too. American casualties are the result of "American command miscalculation," but at the crux of the article is that we shouldn't be so afraid of casualties. So, which is it? Are casualties an unavoidable consequence of a neccesary war, or the result of "miscalculations?"

Moran says that the military shouldn't be concerned about support from the homeland, since households aren't being toran apart. Perhaps Moran didn't read the story about Katha Pollitt and her daughter, who wanted to fly the flag in their home, against her mother's protestations -- and this was in early October!. It's eerily similar to the story Moran recounts about the peace sign he wanted to hang on his door as a child. Oh, Pollitt is a marginalized figure, you say? Maybe, but don't tell me that there aren't similar stories that have unfolded in the last six months.

Thursday, March 07, 2002

MY OTHER EXCUSE FOR LACK OF POSTS
The same as Tony Adragna -- not much to say.

Actually, it will be interesting to see how the blogger phenomenon matures once people have aired all their pet peeves. Most pundits only write two columns a week, and it's their day job. The typical blogger puts out four or five dipatches a day.

But what happens when you've said everything there is to say? It's kind of like Paul Reiser wrote about marriage -- After a while, you've shared all your stories, and told all your jokes, so what do we do now? Maybe we'll just read.

And I think most of us don't want to devolve into a parasitic "Check this out, it's cool" type of link-fest, so it will be a challenge for us (it may be a bit presumptuous to include myself in the community) to stay fresh.

That's one of the reasons I was playing with "News Site Watch" -- it would force me to post something new on here every day, and expose me to the day's top stories. Eventually, though, it was more of a job than a joy, and since my daily hit counts are usually in the single digits, it didn't make sense for me to continue.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what happens. In the past week a number of prominent bloggers have hung "Gone for a while" signs on their blogs including Jacobs, Postrel, and Welch. Others, such as Sullivan and Reynolds, seem to be immune from burnout and keep up a hectic posting pace regardless of what's going on in their lives.

Will the blog world be dominated by a few stalwarts like Sullivan and Reynolds and otherwise be populated by flame-outs, who pretty much say what's been on their minds for years, the run out of things to say?

I never stop yelling at my TV, which gives me some hope that I won't run out of things to say here.
HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT FOR ORTHODOX SEMINARIANS?
This what Dreher says is part of the problem. He says that seminaries weed out candidates who don't favor reforms, and that smeinaries are shelters for a "gay sub-culture."

I don't know what the seminaries are like, so I can't speak to that.

For evidence of this, he points to this essay. I've read the essay, and agree that in some cases, a few reformers have hijacked the process to further their own agendas.

But nevertheless, shouldn't a priest be able to handle opposing viewpoints? If a man can't handle some people who think women should be ordained, is this really a person we want working in parishes, where he'll be exposed to an even wider variety of viewpoints? Are these men such delicate hothouse flowers than they're intimdated by a nun who advocates women in the priesthood in an overheard conversation?

Plus, I can't help but note the irony about how an orthodox seminarian who objecs to reforms has "set himself up against the system, and it becomes increasingly difficult for him to advance toward ordination" Hmm... how do you think reformers feel? How do you think a gay person who loves the Church feels? How do you think a woman who feels called toward the priesthood feels?

This may be a contributing factor to the priest shortage, but it's pretty clear that this isn't the big problem. And if these men are unable to deal with some opposing viewpoints and liturgical creativity, then I'm gald they won't be showing up to lead my parish.
PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO GET IT
William Selatan has a great article on the issues confronting the Church. His utlimate soluition -- getting the laity involved in determining how to handle priests who abuse children, since priests, as celibates, don't have children, and may not be as sensitive to their concerns.

Andrew Sullivan's latest comments echo this sentiment. I am pleased to see his view has somewhat softened from his "this is war" rhetoric he was putting out earlier this week. If the Chuch actually moved to expunge all gay priests, then such rhetoric may be appropriate. But an ill-advised comment by a spokesmen doesn't strike me as the basis for any "war," and the idea of of a "war" between reformers and conservatives in the Church breaks my heart. We are all God's people, and we are all working towards solving this problem. I don't think that declaring a war over gays in the priesthood gets us anywhere in solving the problem of priests who abuse children. It's all very counter-productive.

I'm also pleased to see Sullivan directing his criticisms at the hierarchy, rather than "the Church," and echoing some of my sentiments about what the real Church is (though I'm not taking credit for them).

Even Rod Dreher mentions that this is something the laity must deal with.

It's what I've been saying all along -- the Church is so much more than just the clergy, and any mistakes and abuses they commit can't change what the Church is ultimately about. The resurrection that may come out of this is that Catholics are going to wake up and make the Church their own, rather than sleeping and letting the clergy do all the work for them.
SORRY FOR THE LACK OF POSTS
Been feeling a bit under the weather.

Monday, March 04, 2002

ROD DREHER PASSES ON WHAT MAY BE THE STUPIDEST ARGUMENT
for or agianst anything that I have ever seen:

A Catholic reader writes: "There's a double standard that drives me up the wall. The bishops are vilified for listening to psychiatric experts who told them that pedophilia could be cured. Everybody's saying now they should have ignored the experts then. Now you've got experts today saying there's no connection between homosexuality and the priest-pedophile scandals. If the bishops ignored them, and refused to ordain active homosexuals, they would be vilified as homophobic."


First of all, the argument here isn't a double standard. The term "double standard" means that one rule is applied to some while another rule is applied to others. The writer here never makes such a case. A more accurate description of what the author is trying to illustrate is, "damned if you do, damned if you don't" or Catch-22 or something similar.

Secondly, the first situation, when the Church "listened to the experts" involves how to treat someone who has illustrated a history of abuse. The second situation involves an entire group of people, most of whom haven't abused anybody. Can the author really see no difference in the two situations besides whther or not the Church "listens to the experts."

Experts also say that living with married parents is the best situation for children. According to this writer, the Church shouldn't be listening to the experts, since they steered us wrong on pedophilia. The Church should stop encouraging marriage, and encourage single-parent households and serial fatherhood with several partners. We can't listen to the so-called "experts."

Geesh...
WHY WON'T CARDINAL LAW RESIGN?
The conventional wisdom is that Cardinal Law has not resigned from his post as Archbishop of Boston becuase he "doesn't get it."

I propose an alternatvie theory -- Law has taken a vow to lead his Church. He clearly has failed at addressing the pdophilia problem, but feels compelled, perhaps even called to continue to lead the Church through this, and make up for the damage he has done.

I still think he ought to resign, as his mere presence suggests that we in the Church are not serious about fixing this problem, but I understand why he has not.
THE REAL CULPRIT: GAY PRIESTS?
That seems to be Rod Dreher's opinion as he applauds the recommendation of Joaquin Navarro-Valls's recommendations, reported the New York Times.

To me, this seems like "solving" the pairs figure skating scandal by banning all Russian skaters from competing in future Olympics. A lot of innocent people would be punished, and the real problem, (the hierarchy's cover-ups of the pedophilia cases, in case we forgot) will still be with us.

And if there's one thing the Church does not need to be doing more of, it's making gays feel bad about themselves. Rather than banning gays from the priesthood, could we at least dig a little deeper and try to figure out why this may be happening? That many gays see the priesthood as their only option for life in the Church? That those who abused children never made a truly free choice, and that the vocation may not be true? And that this might be related to the Church's puzzling stand concerning gays?

Banning gays from the priesthood has the appeal that it's palatable to the conservative part of the Church while having the appearance that the Church is "doing something." My prayer is that the Sprit will move us in the Church to a more compassionate and inclusive relationship with our gay Church members.
ANDREW SULLIVAN HAS SOME MORE COMMENTS ON THE CHURCH'S PEDOPHILIA SCANDAL
He writes, "something is clearly rotten at the heart of the contemporary church." and "was a policy organized in detail, and approved at every level of the church hierarchy. "

This irks me because I am part of the heart of the contemporary Church, and I am part of the Church hierarchy, yes, organizationally I'm at the bottom, but I'm still a part of it.

The heart of the contemporary Church isn't concentrated in Rome or Boston, or the Central West End of St. Louis. It's in support groups for gay Catholics. It's in my seventh grade religion class that meets every week. It's in prayer groups where people meet in homes to pray together and share their stories. I take the suggestion that the Church that I know and love, that I am still proud to be a part of is "rotten at its core" as a personal insult.

It really bugs me when Catholics refer to the Church in the third person, like they're not a part of it, and that they don't share responsibility for the Church's direction and reputation. I think that the clergy have done a lot to make this happen, however, by encouraging us to blindly trust them and never question. I don't believe that's what real Catholicism is about, or what it's ever been about.

The ultimate question is : where do we put our faith? Is our faith in a few men who where strange vestments, or is our faith in Christ, and in each other, the largest and most important part of which is the laity.

Friday, March 01, 2002

STOP, DROP, AND ROLL
On my drive back from lunch I saw a sign with the familiar instructions, "If your clothes catch on fire, Stop, Drop, and Roll!"

I don't know if I'm the first to notice this, but these instructions are awfully inefficient.

First "Stop" -- stop what? It's pretty hard to continue making a sandwich, or walking around, or whatever you're doing while you're dropping and rolling. Obviously, stopping is neccesary, but so obvious that it shouldn't require mentioning. Do most recipes or other instructions begin with, "Stop whatever else you were doing?"

The same goes for "Drop." Well, it's pretty hard to roll while you're standing up straight or sitting on a chair isn't it? Again, I think this is pretty self-evident.

The only instruction that really seems neccesary to me is "Roll." This entails the previous two steps. I guess it's not very catchy, though.

In terms of fire safety instructions, "Pull, Aim, Sweep, and Spray" regarding the use of a fire extinguisher is vastly superior. Each step is distinct and independent. Plus, it's an acronym -- P.A.S.S.
CHEAP GOOGLE HITS!
Terry Oglesby reports that I'm the first Google hit when you do a Google search for "james lileks, olive garden." Kind of embarrassing, but I guess it's better than getting hits for misspellings.
MADDEN TO JOIN MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL TEAM
This should be interesting. I guess this means the end of the "Dennis Miller experiment". I don't think Miller was that bad, but you could always tell that when he spouted out a statistic he was reading from a card. It was awkward.

Madden should be fun. Now if only they would dispanse with the tired Hank Williams, Jr. theme song....