Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Al Gore - Super Hypocrite

Sometimes I get so fustrated with the condescending attitude that the self-proclaimed elite (aka the majority of leadership in the Democratic Party) has towards the rest of us. they think we are a bunch of id-duh-ots who will blindly accept anything they say as truth. I am dealing with that on a local level with my rep in the Iowa House (& Speaker of the House as well) & Gov. Culver on the recently passed legislation legalizing cloning that they claim is only a bill to allow stem cell research. More on that in another post when I get a few more things together to face Rep. Murphy at the monthly CrackerBarrell here in DBQ.

Anyhow on to the real "Inconvinient Truth" that you may have heard about by now, Al Gore is secretly the inspiration used by the Alliance to Save Energy & the Ad Council as the model for their new promo Energy Hog. Up until now I never noticed the resemblence that much. But now that I take a closer look I can see it. (Note: I agree with the idea of saving energy by using more efficent lights etc where possible. The reason, it saves me money & is simply good Christian stewardship of our resources. It has nothing to do with any of the wacko, moonbat enviro-nut Gaia, Earth worship BS. It just strikes me as common sense to use our resources wisely. I'm still not convinced that global warming is caused by us. More on that also in another post.) However, it seems that the Left Coast Hollywood liberals are worshipping at the feet of Al Gore because he is saying what they are saying about saving the environment & doing what they are doing to do so (just the opposite of what they say). There are a few people out there who are sincere, like Ed Begley Jr. But for the most part they say 1 thing to everyone else & make all kinds of excuses to jsutify doing the opposite.

Unlike the Energy Hog program, which offers a lot of free & low cost suggestions to make your life energy efficent without major sacrifice, Al Gore & his ilk are calling on all of us to make major sacrifices & change our lifestyles. Too bad Al Gore isn't willing to do the same. It turns out that the former Veep is 1 of Nashville Electric Service (NES)'s biggest customers. & his natural gas consumption is doing its part to keep the economy booming also.

According to a report by The Tennessee Center for Policy Research Al Gore's mansion (1 of his many energy inefficent resdences he owns) located in the Belle Meade area of Nashville uses more electricity in a month than the average home does in a year. According to the US Dept of Energy the average US household uses 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. According to NES Gore's domicile used 221,000 kWh in 2006. Last August alone he used 22,619 kWh. His monthly bill comes to an average of $1,359. According to the report things haven't improved over the years either: "Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006." Add to that an average natural gas bill of $1,080 per month last year & you come to a total of nearly $30,000 in utility bills alone for the year. & that doesn't include what he spends for gas & the fuel used by the private jets he uses. (See Does Al Gore Need to Go on an Energy Diet? & Al Gore visits Berkeley, charges up Prop. 87 rally for more on that side of his hypocricy.)

So, how does Mr. Energy Hog justify being the leader in saving the planet while doing the very things he decries for the rest of us.? Simple, he buys up carbon offsets. What are they? Well as the Transnational Institute puts it; "Carbon offsets are the modern day indulgences, sold to an increasingly carbon conscious public to absolve their climate sins." Sounds good doesn't it? But the TNI report on offsets goes on to say: "Scratch the surface, however, and a disturbing picture emerges, where creative accountancy and elaborate shell games cover up the impossibility of verifying genuine climate change benefits, and where communities in the South often have little choice as offset projects are inflicted on them." Oops, not so good. & lest you think this group is a right wing anti-environmental group they describe themselves as "an international network of activist-scholars committed to critical analyses of the global problems of today and tomorrow, with a view to providing intellectual support to those movements concerned to steer the world in a democratic, equitable and environmentally sustainable direction."

Of course this doesn't come cheap for someone who uses as much as Gore does.

Again, some of the projects are good, like planting more trees (American Forrests for example says they will plant trees at $1 each.). That is if the groups are real & actually follow through. & I am sure that most of them are. But, do it because you want to be a good steward, not to absolve your guilt for not recycling etc. (As an aside, I try to recycle, again because it is the right thing to do. & I do the best I can under my circumstances & don't lose sleep about where I can't do better.) & I salute those groups that are doing the things like planting trees. They have found a way to do something environmentally right & do it in the capitalist way that is what makes America great.

I disagree with the use of the term indulgence to describe these offsets. In Catholic theology an indulgence is the remission of temporal punishment after a person has repented of & confessed their sin. A person has to be willing to try & avoid doing the same sin in the future. These people aren't 1 bit sorry, nor are they trying to avoid repeating the sin. They are looking for an excuse to continue doing what they consider a sin for everyone else. It is a lie on top of a lie. & they make others pay for their sins.

Meanwhile, IowaHawk has come up with a great take on the absurdity of what they are trying to do:

They have even created their own bumper stickers that capture the absurdity of Gore's credits.

I think that says it all.
People like Al Gore, et al, are a group that think they know what is best for all of us. They want the state to run our lives with them in control. Sounds a lot to me like the way things were in the Soviet Union. & we know how well that worked out for the average person. Everyone was supposed to be equal, but some (the ruling elite) were more equal than others, getting everything while the average person, like you & me, didn't. They want a socialist state, they hate capitalism & what this country stands for.
They are trying to scare us with so-called scientific information that isn't as widely accepted as they claim. (See The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Global Warming and Environmentalism by Christopher C. Horner for another take.) Meanwhile here is an ad made by the creators of Futurama to promote An Inconvinient Truth. What they don't realize is the title tells the real truth they are trying to use scare tactics to get you to blindly follow what they want you to do. Gee, weren't threats & terror the methods used by the fascists to get people to bend to thier will? Anyhow, the video does have its funny moments. So here it is:
A Terrifying Message from Al Gore
(Picture of Energy Hog used per info on Wikipedia that states: This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Presidential Poll - Update #2

This is a couple days late, but here is the latest update on my Presidential Poll. With the big influx of hits this week there was a like increase in the # of votes on my poll. I now have a total of 523 votes. That is 449 new votes. & many others have now gotten votes that hadn't before.
Here are the current standings:
Candidates - votes - %
Brownback - 149 - 28
R. Smith - 62 - 12
Santorum - 57-11
Hagel - 51 - 10
Gingrich - 42 - 8
McCain - 30 - 6
Romney - 27 - 5
Tancredo - 17 - 3
Paul - 15 - 3
Watts - 15 - 3
Giuliani - 13 - 2
Rice - 12 - 2
Hunter - 10 - 2

Huckabee - 8 - 2
Other - 8 - 2
Pataki - 3 - 1
Cox - 1 - 0
Pence - 1 - 0

M. Smith - 1 - 0
Thompson - 1 - 0
As I have pointed out before, this is not a scientific poll. I do find it interesting that the Main Stream Media & poll annointed Big 3 aren't even in the top 5 of those who have read this blog. If things continue this way & it proves right next January, rember, you read it here 1st. If not, like I said before, this is mostly for fun & to see what the average person out there thinks.
Thanks for all your responses.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Moral Natural Law: Problems and Prospects

From 12-14 February 2007 the Pontifical Lateran University sponsored a congress on natural law. Here is the opening address by Papa Benedetto:
Clementine Hall
Monday, 12 February 2007
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Esteemed Professors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with particular pleasure that I welcome you at the beginning of the Congress' work in which you will be engaged in the following days on a theme of considerable importance for the present historical moment, namely, the natural moral law.

I thank Bishop Rino Fisichella, Rector Magnificent of the Pontifical Lateran University, for the sentiments expressed in the address with which he has introduced this meeting.

There is no doubt that we are living in a moment of extraordinary development in the human capacity to decipher the rules and structures of matter, and in the consequent dominion of man over nature.

We all see the great advantages of this progress and we see more and more clearly the threat of destruction of nature by what we do.

There is another less visible danger, but no less disturbing: the method that permits us to know ever more deeply the rational structures of matter makes us ever less capable of perceiving the source of this rationality, creative Reason. The capacity to see the laws of material being makes us incapable of seeing the ethical message contained in being, a message that tradition calls lex naturalis, natural moral law.

This word for many today is almost incomprehensible due to a concept of nature that is no longer metaphysical, but only empirical. The fact that nature, being itself, is no longer a transparent moral message creates a sense of disorientation that renders the choices of daily life precarious and uncertain.

Naturally, the disorientation strikes the younger generations in a particular way, who must in this context find the fundamental choices for their life.

It is precisely in the light of this contestation that all the urgency of the necessity to reflect upon the theme of natural law and to rediscover its truth common to all men appears. The said law, to which the Apostle Paul refers (cf. Rom 2: 14-15), is written on the heart of man and is consequently, even today, accessible.

This law has as its first and general principle, "to do good and to avoid evil". This is a truth which by its very evidence immediately imposes itself on everyone. From it flows the other more particular principles that regulate ethical justice on the rights and duties of everyone.

So does the principle of respect for human life from its conception to its natural end, because this good of life is not man's property but the free gift of God. Besides this is the duty to seek the truth as the necessary presupposition of every authentic personal maturation.

Another fundamental application of the subject is freedom. Yet taking into account the fact that human freedom is always a freedom shared with others, it is clear that the harmony of freedom can be found only in what is common to all: the truth of the human being, the fundamental message of being itself, exactly the lex naturalis.

And how can we not mention, on one hand, the demand of justice that manifests itself in giving unicuique suum and, on the other, the expectation of solidarity that nourishes in everyone, especially if they are poor, the hope of the help of the more fortunate?

In these values are expressed unbreakable and contingent norms that do not depend on the will of the legislator and not even on the consensus that the State can and must give. They are, in fact, norms that precede any human law: as such, they are not subject to modification by anyone. The natural law, together with fundamental rights, is the source from which ethical imperatives also flow, which it is only right to honour.

In today's ethics and philosophy of Law, petitions of juridical positivism are widespread. As a result, legislation often becomes only a compromise between different interests: seeking to transform private interests or wishes into law that conflict with the duties deriving from social responsibility.

In this situation it is opportune to recall that every juridical methodology, be it on the local or international level, ultimately draws its legitimacy from its rooting in the natural law, in the ethical message inscribed in the actual human being.

Natural law is, definitively, the only valid bulwark against the arbitrary power or the deception of ideological manipulation. The knowledge of this law inscribed on the heart of man increases with the progress of the moral conscience.

The first duty for all, and particularly for those with public responsibility, must therefore be to promote the maturation of the moral conscience. This is the fundamental progress without which all other progress proves non-authentic.

The law inscribed in our nature is the true guarantee offered to everyone in order to be able to live in freedom and to be respected in their own dignity.

What has been said up to this point has very concrete applications if one refers to the family, that is, to "the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state... established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws" (Gaudium et Spes, n. 48).

Concerning this, the Second Vatican Council has opportunely recalled that the institution of marriage has been "confirmed by the divine law", and therefore "this sacred bond... for the good of the partner, of the children and of society no longer depends on human decision alone" (ibid.).
Therefore, no law made by man can override the norm written by the Creator without society becoming dramatically wounded in what constitutes its basic foundation. To forget this would mean to weaken the family, penalizing the children and rendering the future of society precarious.

Lastly, I feel the duty to affirm yet again that not all that is scientifically possible is also ethically licit. Technology, when it reduces the human being to an object of experimentation, results in abandoning the weak subject to the arbitration of the stronger. To blindly entrust oneself to technology as the only guarantee of progress, without offering at the same time an ethical code that penetrates its roots in that same reality under study and development, would be equal to doing violence to human nature with devastating consequences for all.

The contribution of scientists is of primary importance. Together with the progress of our capacity to dominate nature, scientists must also contribute to help understand the depth of our responsibility for man and for nature entrusted to him.

On this basis it is possible to develop a fruitful dialogue between believers and non-believers; between theologians, philosophers, jurists and scientists, which can offer to legislation as well precious material for personal and social life.

Therefore, I hope these days of study will bring not only a greater sensitivity of the learned with regard to the natural moral law, but will also serve to create conditions so that this theme may reach an ever fuller awareness of the inalienable value that the lex naturalis possesses for a real and coherent progress of private life and the social order.

With this wish, I assure you of my remembrance in prayer for you and for your academic commitment to research and reflection, while I impart to all with affection the Apostolic Blessing.

© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc

With the Oscars being given out tonite & a dearth of decent pictures this year (& them ignoring a couple of the few that were good for various reasons), I thought that instead I would talk about a movie I saw Fri nite at a friend's place.

The movie is La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc). The movie was made in France in 1928 & tells the story of St. Joan of Arc's trial for heresy. The trial took place in Rouen, France in 1431. The trial was presided over by Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais.
For the few of you unfamiliar with the background, St. Joan was born in Greux-Domremy, Lorraine on 6 January 1412. She began having visions of Ss. Margaret of Antioch, Catherine of Alexandria & Michael the Archangel. Eventually the sent her to the Dauphin, Charles VII to see that he was crowned as king & to help drive the English out of France. After doing what he needed to ensure that she was telling the truth, Charles let her lead a small army. She had many successes. In May 1430 she was captured by the Burgundians & sold to the English. After a trial she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431 as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress. In 1456 the Vatican ordered a retrial which exonorated. She was declared a saint by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.
Maria Falconetti plays Joan & Bishop Cauchon was played by Eugene Silvain. It is a silent film & is in Black & White.
Mlle Falconetti is excellent playing Joan. Throughout it seems as she is gazing beyond what is going on & is more focused on eternity. She captures Joan's anguish, pain & at times the few joys perfectly.
Throughout the trial they use various means to get Joan to admit she lied or to get her to say something by which they could convict her of heresy. At 1 point they use the Eucharist as a bribe, saying they will let her recieve Holy Communion if she admits she lied. At several points they try to trick her into saying things that they could then say prove she was a heretic. Several scenes with Joan show the parallels between her suffering & Christ's. There is a scene where she is mocked, crowned & given an arrow as a scepter. At 1 point Joan breaks & signs a confession but quickly recants. In the end she is burned at the stake with a note posted on top of the pole like the placard posted by Pilate on Christ's cross.
The movie effectively uses closeups of Joan as she is undergoing her various torments. & he uses several unusual camera angles to aide in this. It is hard to actually describe the experience of watching the movie. The movie doesn't rush through the events. Rather it slowly builds up to the execution. As you go through the movie you are drawn into Joan's sufferings & even though you know how it its it is still an emotional experience that left me saddened & in awe of Joan's strength that she drew from her faith in God.
Another addition that was not a part of the original movie was the score written for the movie in 1985. The score is called "Voices of Light" & is at times instrumental & at times with vocals that work perfectly with the onscreen action.
This film couldn't be made today, at least not in the way it was done in 1928. Being a silent film much of the dialog isn't shown. Only the parts needed to conveigh the questions & Joan's answers are shown on title cards(with English subtitles). Much is done with shading & as I pointed out, the unique camera angles. & in this day & age to make a film that is respectful of Christianity, let alone having a message that challenges people to live that faith just isn't done. & when it is, like Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, it is criticized, derided, &/or belittled.
Hopefully, this gets a little accross about what I think is an excellent movie. The movie challenged me to be stronger in standing up for my faith. I highly recommend seeing it. My friend & I saw it as a way to kick off Lent & help us to get into the right spirit for this holy season. It suceeded admirably in doing so.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Do Pundits Matter?*

* Caution: Contents may be harmful to pundits egos!

According to this, apparently not!

Friday, February 23, 2007

St. Polycarp

Today is the feast of St. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey). He was martyred on this date c. 155 AD. He was a disciple of St. John the Apostle. 1 of Polycarp's disciples was St. Irenaeus of Lyons (more on him later). He was friends with St. Ignatius of Antioch. St. Polycarp is 1 of the Apostolic Fathers of the Church.

Polycarp was born c. 69 AD. About 80 AD he met St. John. It was as a result of St. John's preaching & teaching that he converted to Christianity. About 96 AD he was elected bishop of Smyrna. He fought the heresy of Gnosticism as well as such heretical groups as the Marcionites. in 155 AD he was sent as a representative of the Churches in Asia Minor to Pope St. Anicetus to discuss the setting of the date of Easter. It was shortly after his return to Smyrna that he was arrested & martyred.
Unfortunately only 1 of his many writings survived. That was his Letter (Epistle) to the Philippians. The letter quotes extensively from the various writings of the New Testament as well as quoting Tobit from the Old Testament. Part of the value of this letter is that it shows how the Catholic Church was already discerning which writings were considered a part of Scripture. At 1 point in the letter Polycarp says: "For I trust that you are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures, and that nothing is hid from you." (Chapter 12) He goes on to say: "It is declared then in these Scriptures," & follows it with quotes from Ephesians, Galations, 1 Timothy & Matthew.
Polycarp's death is recounted in a letter from the Church at Smyrna "to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium, and to all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place" that is commonly called The Martyrdom of Polycarp. It describes Polycarp's arrest. Polycarp is told by the Irenarch Herod: "What harm is there in saying, Lord Cæsar,and in sacrificing, with the other ceremonies observed on such occasions, and so make sure of safety?"
Polycarp refused the suggestion. So they had him taken to the stadium where he was to be martyred. Here is how the letter describes the events:
"Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven, saying, "Be strong, and show yourself a man, O Polycarp!" No one saw who it was that spoke to him; but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice. And as he was brought forward, the tumult became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On his confessing that he was, [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, "Have respect to your old age," and other similar things, according to their custom, [such as], "Swear by the fortune of Cæsar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists." But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium, and waving his hand towards them, while with groans he looked up to heaven, said, "Away with the Atheists." Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, "Swear, and I will set you at liberty, reproach Christ;" Polycarp declared, "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?"

And when the proconsul yet again pressed him, and said, "Swear by the fortune of Cæsar," he answered, "Since you are vainly urgent that, as you say, I should swear by the fortune of Cæsar, and pretendest not to know who and what I am, hear me declare with boldness, I am a Christian. And if you wish to learn what the doctrines of Christianity are, appoint me a day, and you shall hear them." The proconsul replied, "Persuade the people." But Polycarp said, "To you I have thought it right to offer an account [of my faith]; for we are taught to give all due honour (which entails no injury upon ourselves) to the powers and authorities which are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1) But as for these, I do not deem them worthy of receiving any account from me."

After many attempts to get him to deny Christ, the prconsol condemns Polycarp to be burned to death.
This, then, was carried into effect with greater speed than it was spoken, the multitudes immediately gathering together wood and fagots out of the shops and baths; the Jews especially, according to custom, eagerly assisting them in it. And when the funeral pile was ready, Polycarp, laying aside all his garments, and loosing his girdle, sought also to take off his sandals,—a thing he was not accustomed to do, inasmuch as every one of the faithful was always eager who should first touch his skin. For, on account of his holy life, he was, even before his martyrdom, adorned with every kind of good. Immediately then they surrounded him with those substances which had been prepared for the funeral pile. But when they were about also to fix him with nails, he said, "Leave me as I am; for He that gives me strength to endure the fire, will also enable me, without your securing me by nails, to remain without moving in the pile."
They did not nail him then, but simply bound him. And he, placing his hands behind him, and being bound like a distinguished ram [taken] out of a great flock for sacrifice, and prepared to be an acceptable burnt-offering unto God, looked up to heaven, and said, "O Lord God Almighty, the Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of You, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before you, I give You thanks that You have counted me, worthy of this day and this hour, that I should have a part in the number of Your martyrs, in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption [imparted] by the Holy Ghost. Among whom may I be accepted this day before You as a fat and acceptable sacrifice, according as You, the ever-truthful God, hast foreordained, hast revealed beforehand to me, and now hast fulfilled. Wherefore also I praise You for all things, I bless You, I glorify You, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, with whom, to You, and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen."

When he had pronounced this amen, and so finished his prayer, those who were appointed for the purpose kindled the fire. And as the flame blazed forth in great fury, we, to whom it was given to witness it, beheld a great miracle, and have been preserved that we might report to others what then took place. For the fire, shaping itself into the form of an arch, like the sail of a ship when filled with the wind, encompassed as by a circle the body of the martyr. And he appeared within not like flesh which is burnt, but as bread that is baked, or as gold and silver glowing in a furnace. Moreover, we perceived such a sweet odour [coming from the pile], as if frankincense or some such precious spices had been smoking there.

At length, when those wicked men perceived that his body could not be consumed by the fire, they commanded an executioner to go near and pierce him through with a dagger. And on his doing this, there came forth a dove, and a great quantity of blood, so that the fire was extinguished; and all the people wondered that there should be such a difference between the unbelievers and the elect."

Then the Romans burned Polycarp's body, The Smyrnan Catholics "afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps."
This last paragraph is an early report of what developed into the tradition in the Catholic Church of saying Mass with relics of a saint in an stone on the altar.
Those who criticize the Catholic Church as not being faithful to the early Christian faith as taught by the Apostles & as found in the Bible would do well to read the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. They would be astonished to see the early origins of many of the traditions still practiced in the Catholic Church. Clearly the early Church didn't see these practices as conflicting with the Scriptures.
Which leads me back to St. Irenaeus. Irenaeus went on to become bishop of Lyons in France. Many centuries later a succesor to St. Irenaeus would ordain a priest by the name of Matthias Loras. This Fr. Loras was later elected the 1st bishop of Dubuque, IA. It is through this that I can trace the roots of the diocese of which I am a member & in which I was baptised as a Catholic to theApostles. I am a member of, as the Apostles & Nicene Creeds say a member of the "one, holy, Catholic & apostolic Church".

Mission to Magadan Update 2

I recently got my latest newsletter from The Archdiocese of Anchorage, AK's Mission to Magadan. For those of you who are not familiar with Magadan you can check out my 2 previous posts on the Mission.
1st of all the Roman Catholic Church of the Nativity that is supported by the mission now has its own website. The site is in both Русский и английская язык (Russian & English). So far the English site has more available on it. The Russian part has Catholic Apologetics (Католическая Апологетика) articles as well as answers to questions about the Catholic Church. The English portion has information about the work being done by the Church of the Nativity in Magadan as well as its 2 missions to Ola & Sokol. The Chapel in Sokol was dedicated on 9 December 2006 & is named in honor of Blessed Charles de Foucould.
1 of their thrusts is to heal the damage done during the Soviet era when abortion was promoted by the state as a means of birht control. They do this in 2 main ways. the 1st is by helping to change the attitude towards abortion as the answer for an unwanted pregnancy. They "let it be known that any expectant mother who was considering abortion could come to us for support durring the pregancy and the first years of the child's life." They help by providing food, clothing, medicine, and whatever else is needed. They have pictures posted on their site of some of the children whose lives they have saved. They also put on Project Rachel retreats to help bring Christ's forgiveness & healing to those who have had abortions.
Another part of their work is helping the victims of Soviet repression. These are people who are survivors of the Soviet prison camps & gulags. In this work the Church is helped by a community of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. This community currently consist of 4 members. They are Sister Marta (Zofia) Bialowas (born in Krakowiec, then a part of Poland but now a part of the Ukraine), Sister Beata Cwener (born in Żagań, Poland), Sister Jean Marie Williams (born in Norfolk, Virginia) & Sr. Malgorzata Slomka (born in New Sonch Poland).
In the newsletter I just received Sr. Beata shares some of the stories of the people she serves in Magadan. Yulia & Sasha are a couple that were forced to relocate after the nuclear reactor accident in Chernobyl (1986). Yulia is in poor health & can barely walk even with crutches. Sasha is dying of cancer. Sr. helps with the laundry as well as grocery shopping & picking up their medicine. But Sister says her most important ministry to them is her presence & concern. As Yulia puts it: "I feel that God has sent you to us & so I don't feel so all alone."
Another person she serves is Anatoli Vasilivich. He is a veteran in his 50s who has lost both legs & several fingers due to poor circulation. He has a wheelchair but had trouble getting out of his apartment in the Veterans Home he lives in. They built him some ramps to ease his getting arround the apartment. Due to government regulations Sr. Beata is unable to wear her habit when visiting him. Because the Home doesn't provide any cleaning services she does housecleaning she does his laundry & cleans his room.
Sr. Beata says of what she does: "I love serving the sick, whether here in Magadan or in Poland, where for 25 years I ministered as a anurse. Each meeting is for me a personal meeting with Jesus."
They have many needs to continue the work they are doing. Any monetary donations MUST be sent to the Achdiocese of Anchorage as they cannot cash an American check in Russia.
Make the checks out to Mission to Magadan & send them to:
Mission to Magadan
Archdiocese of Anchorage
225 Cordova ST
Anchorage AK 99501
If you would like to send a letter or package directly to Magadan there are some special things you must do. (Packages take at least 8 weeks to arrive & letters at least 2 weeks.) Any mail must be addressed to either Fr. Sheilds or Fr. Means alone. If you use both names then both must be present for pick-up. For any package you must fill out a U.S. customs form & declare each box's value as less than $90. Send them at the following address (note how Russian mail must be addressed):
658000 Magadan
Glavpocchtant, Box 171
Fr. Michael Sheilds (or)
Fr. David Means
Remember only use 1 of the names. Jesus said that whatever you do to the least you do to Him. As Sr. Beata said, here is a chance to truly meet Jesus.


Something to Think About!

Here is an interesting video put out by 18 Doughty Street, a British webcaster. It is an ad they are running entitled A World Without America. It makes some very interesting points. (Even if a couple of dates like Stalin's death aren't accurate.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Milestone Reached

Sometime today I reached a milestone for this blog. The milestone: the 10,000th page viewed.

7 Deadly Sins

Quick, can you name the 7 Deadly Sins?

If you started listing the 2008 Democratic Candidates for president, nice try but no cigar. & even though the news reports lately seem filled with reports of people who are prime examples of commiting these sins, listing those news reports isn't enough.
So what are the Big 7? They are:
  1. Pride
  2. Envy
  3. Greed
  4. Anger
  5. Sloth
  6. Gluttony
  7. Lust
(Each is linked to an article in The Catholic Spirit, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.)
But there is more than that. Lent is not only about turning away from sin. It is also about turning towards God & allowing His Holy Spirit to work in us to transform us. Part of that is the growing in virtue.
The Big 3 are Faith, Hope & Charity (1 Cor 13). But the Catholic Church also calls us to grow in the 7 Holy Virtues. Each of these virtues enables us to deal with 1 of the 7 Deadly Sins. These virtues (& coresponding sin they counter) are:
  1. Humility (Pride)
  2. Kindness (Envy)
  3. Charity (Greed)
  4. Forgiveness (Anger)
  5. Diligence (Sloth)
  6. Temperance (Gluttony)
  7. Chastity (Lust)
& while growing in virtue is a lifelong process, Lent is a good time to seek special graces from God to ensure that we are on the right path.
(Thanks to Stella Borealis for the lead on the articles about the 7 Deadly Sins!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CAUTION: Living is Hazardous to Your Health!

Over the years there have been many studies that says this or that is hazardous to your health. & many of them have been valid, esp when it comes to things like smoking or overeating. But, at 1 point it seemed like so many things were being declared hazardous that it was reaching the point where you couldn't do anything. I finally decided to start using the line "Living can kill you!" or "Living can be hazardous to your health!" to describe the insanity that virtually everything is turning out to be harmful.
Well, they have come up with another study that I put in that catagory. British psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman has written a report that can be summed up thus: Letting children watch TV can cause everything from "short-sightedness and obesity to premature puberty and autism." This according to a report entitled Children's TV Linked To Cancer, Autism, Dementia on Radar News Network.
Lets see, I grew up watching a fair amount of TV as did a lot of my friends. OK, I am near sighted & over weight. But I doubt if the 2 are directly linked. I also spent a lot of time reading & listenning to the radio rather than getting out as much as I should. They probably contributed as much to my weight problem as did watching TV. According to Dr Sigman "viewing television may be a bigger factor in causing obesity than diet or exercise." I tend to disagree. I bet the weight problem is more likely due to the fact that I overate, wasn't as active as I should have been & being Italian have a tendancy towards that problem. Many of my friends who watched as much TV as I did didn't have these problems, or the others.
The truth is, excess is not good no matter what. I agree with the idea that parents should put some limits on the amount of TV that their children watch. & I definitely approve of his suggestion that it be "good quality programming". Esp given the dearth of it that there so often seems to be. Too often parents have used TV as a cheap babysitter to abdicate their responsibilities of spending time with their children. But, I suspect that he is going a bit to far in making TV the ultimate villian for the 15 or so things listed. It may not of helped, but I doubt if TV is the root cause he makes it ou to be.
In fact I can't help but flashback to the scene in Sleeper where Woody Allen's character Miles Monroe explains what he sold in his health food store:

Dr. Melik: [puzzling over list of items sold at Miles' old health-food store] ... wheat germ, organic honey and... tiger's milk.
Dr. Aragon: Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
Dr. Melik: Incredible!
I'll stick with the motto: "All things in moderation, including moderation."

Papa Benedetto - Message for Quaresima 2007 (Lent)

“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37)

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37). This is the biblical theme that this year guides our Lenten reflection. Lent is a favourable time to learn to stay with Mary and John, the beloved disciple, close to Him who on the Cross, consummated for all mankind the sacrifice of His life (cf. Jn 19:25). With a more fervent participation let us direct our gaze, therefore, in this time of penance and prayer, at Christ crucified who, dying on Calvary, revealed fully for us the love of God. In the Encyclical Deus caritas est, I dwelt upon this theme of love, highlighting its two fundamental forms: agape and eros.
God’s love: agape and eros

The term agape, which appears many times in the New Testament, indicates the self-giving love of one who looks exclusively for the good of the other. The word eros, on the other hand, denotes the love of one who desires to possess what he or she lacks and yearns for union with the beloved. The love with which God surrounds us is undoubtedly agape. Indeed, can man give to God some good that He does not already possess? All that the human creature is and has is divine gift. It is the creature then, who is in need of God in everything. But God’s love is also eros. In the Old Testament, the Creator of the universe manifests toward the people whom He has chosen as His own a predilection that transcends every human motivation. The prophet Hosea expresses this divine passion with daring images such as the love of a man for an adulterous woman (cf. 3:1-3). For his part, Ezekiel, speaking of God’s relationship with the people of Israel, is not afraid to use strong and passionate language (cf. 16:1-22). These biblical texts indicate that eros is part of God’s very heart: the Almighty awaits the “yes” of His creatures as a young bridegroom that of his bride. Unfortunately, from its very origins, mankind, seduced by the lies of the Evil One, rejected God’s love in the illusion of a self-sufficiency that is impossible (cf. Gn 3:1-7). Turning in on himself, Adam withdrew from that source of life who is God Himself, and became the first of “those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Heb 2:15). God, however, did not give up. On the contrary, man’s “no” was the decisive impulse that moved Him to manifest His love in all of its redeeming strength.

The Cross reveals the fullness of God’s love

It is in the mystery of the Cross that the overwhelming power of the heavenly Father’s mercy is revealed in all of its fullness. In order to win back the love of His creature, He accepted to pay a very high price: the blood of His only begotten Son. Death, which for the first Adam was an extreme sign of loneliness and powerlessness, was thus transformed in the supreme act of love and freedom of the new Adam. One could very well assert, therefore, together with Saint Maximus the Confessor, that Christ “died, if one could say so, divinely, because He died freely” (Ambigua, 91, 1956). On the Cross, God’s eros for us is made manifest. Eros is indeed – as Pseudo-Dionysius expresses it – that force “that does not allow the lover to remain in himself but moves him to become one with the beloved” (De divinis nominibus, IV, 13: PG 3, 712). Is there more “mad eros” (N. Cabasilas, Vita in Cristo, 648) than that which led the Son of God to make Himself one with us even to the point of suffering as His own the consequences of our offences?

“Him whom they have pierced”

Dear brothers and sisters, let us look at Christ pierced in the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God’s love, a love in which eros and agape, far from being opposed, enlighten each other. On the Cross, it is God Himself who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us. The Apostle Thomas recognized Jesus as “Lord and God” when he put his hand into the wound of His side. Not surprisingly, many of the saints found in the Heart of Jesus the deepest expression of this mystery of love. One could rightly say that the revelation of God’s eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of His agape. In all truth, only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the heaviest of burdens. Jesus said: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32). The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. Accepting His love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ “draws me to Himself” in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His own love.

Blood and water

“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.” Let us look with trust at the pierced side of Jesus from which flow “blood and water” (Jn 19:34)! The Fathers of the Church considered these elements as symbols of the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Through the water of Baptism, thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, we are given access to the intimacy of Trinitarian love. In the Lenten journey, memorial of our Baptism, we are exhorted to come out of ourselves in order to open ourselves, in trustful abandonment, to the merciful embrace of the Father (cf. Saint John Chrysostom, Catecheses, 3,14ff). Blood, symbol of the love of the Good Shepherd, flows into us especially in the Eucharistic mystery: “The Eucharist draws us into Jesus’ act of self-oblation … we enter into the very dynamic of His self-giving” (Encyclical Deus caritas est, 13). Let us live Lent then, as a “Eucharistic” time in which, welcoming the love of Jesus, we learn to spread it around us with every word and deed. Contemplating “Him whom they have pierced” moves us in this way to open our hearts to others, recognizing the wounds inflicted upon the dignity of the human person; it moves us, in particular, to fight every form of contempt for life and human exploitation and to alleviate the tragedies of loneliness and abandonment of so many people. May Lent be for every Christian a renewed experience of God’s love given to us in Christ, a love that each day we, in turn, must “regive” to our neighbour, especially to the one who suffers most and is in need. Only in this way will we be able to participate fully in the joy of Easter. May Mary, Mother of Beautiful Love, guide us in this Lenten journey, a journey of authentic conversion to the love of Christ. I wish you, dear brothers and sisters, a fruitful Lenten journey, imparting with affection to all of you, a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 21 November 2006.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

USCCB Approves New Lenten Regulations*

*If some people could have their way, that is.

According to a post on Agnus Dei:
LOS ANGELES, CA - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in anticipation of the fast approaching Lenten season, has approved modifications to the fasting regulations observed by American Catholics. These changes were developed in hopes of encouraging greater participation by the Catholic faithful.

“American culture is dynamic, and changes often.” said Bishop Norman Raymond of Jacksonville, TN, “We as a Church must adapt to these shifts in order to increase the participation of the laity.”

The modified regulations consist of the following:
1. Fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday will consist of one full meal to sustain one’s strength. Two smaller meals are permitted according to one’s needs. A small dessert is also permitted to balance one’s glucose levels. Given the prudence of the person, one may consume one designer coffee beverage, and scone, in the morning of each respective fast day to prepare one’s soul for the rest of the day.
2. Catholics 14 years and older are bound to abstain from meat. Invalids, pregnant and nursing mothers, men who remain under the roof of their parents, and those who only attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, Christmas, and Easter are exempt.
3. On every Friday for the season of lent, the Western form of day time measurement will be substituted for the Jewish form. Fridays will end at sundown, ending the obligation to abstain from meat.
Traditional Catholics are outraged at the liberalization of the fasting regulations. “Why should we even have a Lent!?” exclaimed Margaret Lansing, a parishioner of St. Martha’s in Fontana, CA, “It’s a joke! I remember when we couldn’t eat one week prior to Lent starting. Then when Ash Wednesday came around, all drinking of liquids ceased until the next Friday. Sure many of us had kidney and liver failure, but what about the sacrifice!?”
The majority of Catholic Americans praise the new decisions by the USCCB, and would like to see an even less regulation of Lenten fasts. “What our leaders are doing is great!” said Gerald Reynolds, another St. Martha’s Parishioner, “Giving up things is tough. I like things, especially food, which God made so it must be good. That’s why I don’t want to give it up, because it’s good food.”
The expectations among most Catholics are that regulations in the coming years will loosen. However, when asked about the future of Lent, the USCCB declined to comment.
If you haven't figured out by now, this is just a joke. But the so-called rules are exactly how some people mis-interpret them.
Anyhow here are the real regulations (which amazingly enough you would think the US Conference of Catholic Bishops would have prominently posted on their website, but doesn't. It takes a diificult search through the Lent 2007 materials to even find it.) if you are a Latin Rite Catholic:
* Everyone 14 years of age or older is bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, all the Fridays of Lent and Good Friday.

* Everyone 18 or older, and under 59 years of age, is bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

* On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, only one full meatless meal is allowed. Two other meatless meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one's needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices are allowed. When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige.

* Catholics should not lightly excuse themselves from these prescribed minimal penitential practices.
* The special Paschal fast and abstinence are observed on Good Friday and, where possible, on Holy Saturday. On these days, Christians prepare themselves by these disciplines in anticipation of the renewal of their baptismal commitment on Easter.
As for those of the Eastern Catholic Churches here are your regulations for the season of Great Lent:

Simple Abstinence
Simple abstinence forbids the use of meat but not of eggs, dairy products or condiments made of animal fat.
Simple abstinence is observed on every Friday of Lent.

Although not obligatory, the faithful are encouraged to observe abstinence from meat on Wednesdays during this sacred penitential season.
Strict Abstinence
Strict Abstinence (fast) forbids the use of meat, eggs, and dairy products.
Facsimiles, substitutes, and synthetic derivatives violate the intention and spirit of the law of strict abstinence.
Strict Abstinence (fast) is observed on Pure Monday (the first day of the Lent) and on Good Friday.
Expectant/nursing mothers are exempt from the law of the strict fast.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The State of the Catholic Church in America, Diocese by Diocese

The February 2007 issue of Crisis Magazine has an article entitled The State of the Catholic Church in America, Diocese by Diocese. It is an evaluation/analysis of the current health of the various Latin rite dioceses of the Catholic Church in America. The article starts out with a very interesting question that sets the tone & direction of the analysis, "Does the bishop matter?" Then the article leaps right into its pair of conclusions. "The first is that there is no problem ailing the Catholic Church in America that is no being addressed successfully in some place, and typically in multiple places. Second, there is a cadre of bishops, invisible to the national media, largely unknown outside of their dioceses, absent from Washington political circles, who are truly unsung heros of the Church, presiding over vibrant communitites, building the Church, and effectively proclaiming the Faith."
"But does a particular bishop really affect, for better or ill, the health of the Church in his see?" To answer this it considers whether variations in the vitality of the American dioceses can be detected & if so to what extent is that attributable to the bishop. What is his role? Theycriteria to define the role was taken from the 3rd chapter of Lumen Gentium.
The evaluation is based on 3 criteria where there was data readily available for the authors to measure. They were: 1) Changes in the active presbyterate from 1995-2005, 2) Ordinations, 2005 & 3) Rate of adults received into the Church. The data was culled from the information found in The Official Catholic Directory published by P. J. Kenedy and Sons for the years 1995 & 2005. To prevent discrimination against smaller parishes this data was measured as a percentage in each case, percentage of change in # of active priests, newly ordained as a percentage of the total active presbyterate, & adult receptions as a percentage of total adherants. (Note the 1995 data is a composite of the data from 1985-1995.)
The article does admit that this analysis does have its defects, thus making it "at best, an approximation of the reality we seek to represent." It admits to the limitations & constraints that the available data puts on it. To arrive at its composite rating of the dioceses each diocese was 1st ranked individually in each of the 3 above areas, 1 being best, 176 worst. Then the 3 individual rankings were added together. Ideally, the best total score would be a 3. It also compares the change in rank from 1995 to 2005. In this 10 year data comparison it fails to take into account these factors, was there a change in who the bishop of the diocese & when did that change take place. So, if a new bishop recently took over a diocese, then he can't be credited with the improvement or decline, his predecssor deserves the credit/blame. A good example of this is the Alexandria & Houma-Thibodaux LA dioceses. Alexandria went from 55th to 4th. For 8 of those 10 yrs Bishop Sam Jacobs was in charge. For the last 2 years he has been the ordinary of the Houma-Thibodaux diocese. That diocese went from 42nd to 150th. I suspect that under Bishop Jacobs that down the road the rank of the Houma-Thibodaux diocese will see a change for the better. (full disclosure requires me to admit that several years ago I did meet & get a chance to talk with Bishop Jacobs when he spoke at a Day of Renewal put on by the local charismatic prayer group.)
The article also looks at variations based on region the diocese is located in, change in the population of & the size of the diocese. But even with the above external factors they come to the conclusion that the bishop still does have a great deal of influence. They talked to officials in a sample of the top dioceses. They found "striking commonalities" in the bishops. The "most striking similarity" is that this bishops "attribute their success to the Holy Spirit". Succesful bishops were also ones that were "joyful", assumed "pesonal responsibility for the outcomes that are their priorities" & were "unwilling to aquiesce to decline". The article also say the diocesan website as a "significant insight into the personality of the dioceses". This is something that I have found personally true.
The article ends up on a hopeful note for the future. A note that acknowledges that with the right person as bishop, 1 with the right profile (read gifts/charisms discerned before appointment) then "there is no challenge that the Church faces that cannot be confronted".
So, who are the top dioceses in the USA? Here are the top 10:
  1. Knoxville TN
  2. Savannah GA
  3. Kalamazoo MI
  4. Alexandria LA
  5. Pensacola-Tallahassee FL
  6. Santa Fe NM*
  7. Birmingham AL
  8. Anchorage AK*
  9. Biloxi MS
  10. Lansing MI

The bottom 5 are:

172. Albany NY

173. Metuchen NJ

174. Rochester NY

175. Rockville Center NY

176. Hartford CT*

* Archdiocese

Unfortunately (but not surprizingly, I'm sorry to say) the archdiocese I belong to, Dubuque IA is ranked 159 & is thus in the bottom 20. But it is an improvement from the 1995 ranking of 173.

There is a 2nd article with this one entitled What Does the Study Tell Us? Seven Prominent Catholics Respond. In it Crisis Magazine asked 7 Catholics to give their conclusions about the data. the people contacted include Deal W. Hudson & the Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D. bishop of the #1 diocese, Knoxville TN.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Democrats WORST Nightmare, Pt. 2!!

I got thinking about the video I put up yesterday showing El Rush-bo as president & Anne Coulter as VP. & even though I know it is a skit for Fox News' satire The 1/2 Hour News Hour, if it did happen who would be in their cabinet/administration? Here are some of my suggestions:
Secretary of State: Michelle Malkin (This was a toss-up between Michelle & Sean Hannity but I gave it to Michelle as she is much better looking.)
Secretary of Defense: Rudy Giuliani (NY City - 9/11 Strong on defense)
Secretary of the Treasury: Neil Cavuto (Mr. Common Sense himself)
Press Secretary: Tony Snow (He's doing a great job so keep him.)
Supreme Court: Judge Andrew Napolitano (Just read his books or watch him on Fox to see why.)
UN Ambassador: Sean Hannity (Can you imagine what he would do & say? & they thought Bolton would be a nightmare!)
Vatican Ambassador: Me (I have to give myself something, don't I? & being of Italiano descent & Catholic, who better?)
Any thoughts for these or other positions?
(I'll add mine as I come up with them.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Democrats WORST Nightmare!

21 January 2009
The White House

Ladies & Gentlemen, the President of the United States of America:

Sorry folks, as much as it would be great fun to see the left's reaction to President Rush & VP Anne, it is just a skit to open Fox News' satire, The 1/2 Hour News Hour. But it would be interesting to see the left's reaction wouldn't it?

John Edwards Strike 2

The 2nd anti-Catholic blogger hired by John Edwards has quite. What does it mean for Edwards? I think that Bill Donahue of The Catholic League said it best:

“One of Yogi Berra’s most famous quips is, ‘It ain't over till it’s over.’ I have news for John Edwards—it’s over.”
Now when will Edwards realize that?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Grant Wood

Today is the birthday of a great Iowa Boy, Grant Wood. His most famous painting is American Gothic. This painting is probably 1 of the most reproduced & parodied works of art in existence. It has been used to sell corn flakes, it was spoofed in everything from The Simpsons to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. There was even a nod to it in another Iowa Boy's movie version of his musical, Meredith Willson's The Music Man. The painting represents an Iowa farmer & his daughter standing in front of their house. (Wood's dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby & his sister Nan Wood Graham, the house is in Eldon, IA) . In 1996 the United States Postal System issued a stamp to honor Iowa's Sesquicentennial featuring a portion of his work Young Corn. & 3 of the 5 finalists for the design of the Iowa Quarter were based on Grant Wood's paintings. The winning quarter, Foundation in Education was based on his painting Arbor Day. The other 2 designs included 1 based on American Gothic & Beautiful Land based on Young Corn. (The other 2 deigns were 1 honoring Waterloo's 5 Sullivan Brothers & Feeding the World featuring Iowa's main agricultural produce; corn, pigs, cattle & soybeans.)

So who was Grant Wood?
Grant Wood was born on this day in 1891 on a farm near Anamosa, IA. In 1901 after the death of his father the family moved to Cedar Rapids. While there he apprenticed at a local metal shop. He also worked designing scenery for his school's theater & did drawings for the school yearbook. He also volunteered for the Cedar Rapids Art Association. In 1910 he graduated from Washington High School & moved to Minneapolis, MN to attend art school. In 1911 he returned home to teach. In 1913 he went to Chicago to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. He also worked at Kalo Silversmith Shop. After a stint in the army (1917-1918) as a camouflage painter, he again returned to CR to teach art at Jackson Jr. High.

Between 1920 & 1928 he made 4 trips to Europe to study art. He looked at modern trends but focused on Impressionist & Post-Impressionist styles. His 1st trip was made with his close friend from his high school days, Marvin Cone. His 1928 trip was to Munich where he supervised the making of a stained glass window he designed for the Veterans Memorial Building in CR. (Picture of window here.). This is 1 of the largest From 1924 to 1934 he lived in the 2nd floor of a 19th century carriage house where he also had a studeo. Since it had no address he gave it 1, 5 Turner Alley. It was here that he painted American Gothic. He named the place after its owners, John B. Turner, founder of Turner Mortuary in CR, & his son David Turner who were also his patrons.

In 1932 he co-founded The Stone City Art Colony and School near Stone City, IA, along the Wapsipinicon River, to help struggling artists during the Great Depression. In 1933 he is appointed head of the Iowa Division of the Public Works of Art project. Many public buildings & post offices have murals that were done by Stone City artists as a result of this appointment. In 1934 he began teaching art at the University of Iowa's Art School. In 1935 he married Sara Sherman Maxon. The marriage lasted 3 years. He died in 1942 on 12 February at University Hospital in Iowa City, 1 day short of his 51st birthday. He is buried at Riverside Cemetary in Anamosa.

Grant Wood's style is a prime example of the American style known as regionalism. & while he is primarily known for his oil paintings his work encompasses much more than that. He also worked in ink, charcoal, ceramics, metal, wood. There are many prints of the series of lithographs he did. & of course the above mentioned stained glass window.

Much of Grant Wood's work captures the heart & soul of Iowa. This is true not only of the time he did them, it continues to be exemplary of the spirit of Iowa to this day. I would highly recomend checking out any of the places listed below. While the photographic reproductions are OK, they pale in comparison with the actual experience of his works.

Iowa has 2 museums with excellent collections of Grant Wood's works. Here in DBQ , the Dubuque Museum of Art has a permanent exhibit, 1 of the largest collections of his various works. Another Iowa museum that has a large collection is the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. It also operates 5 Turner Alley, his home & studio while he lived in Cedar Rapids. Their collection includes Young Corn. & naturally, his birthplace of Anamosa has The Grant Wood Art Gallery with another fine collection of his works. Every year the have a Grant Wood Art Festival.

Photo of Grant Wood, Grant Wood Art Gallery
American Gothic, 1930, oil on beaverboard, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Iowa Sesquicentennial Stamp, 1st Day of Issue 1 August 1996, Dubuque, IA, U.S. Postal Service
Young Corn, 1931, oil on masonite, On loan from the Cedar Rapids Iowa Community School District Collection to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
Iowa State Quarter (reverse), Released 30 August 2004, U.S. Mint

Info for this post was taken primarily from Grant Wood's entry in Wikipedia & the CR Museum of Art website.

Sen. Brownback attacked by

It should come as no surprize that uses only enough of the truth to support their goals while leaving out the rest of the story. This time the attack is on Sen. Brownback & several other senators who voted last week to block debate on a nonbinded resolution opposing President Bush's troop escalation in Iraq. That much is true. ( As is some of what they use in their on-line substantiation, if the polls are to be believed.)
What is not true is what is stated in the ad when it says "Call your senator or Sen Brownback or 1 of the others specifically named. Tell him to stop the escalation.", that this resolution would stop the troop escalation. The resolution won't. What is also not true is that Sen. Brownback supports the escalation. He doesn't. & what they fail to mention is that 1 of those who voted to block debate is 1 of its chief sponsors, Sen. Warner.
The problem with this resolution is its hypocricy. The Dems want their cake & to eat it also. They want to look like they are opposing President Bush but do not have the courage to do something that would actually stop the troop surge. They know that if they actually voted to stop the surge that it would cost them in the 2008 election. But they need to do something to make it appear to their base that they are doing something. That is why the Republicans are opposing it. They are saying: "Put your money where your mouth is. If you truly think this is wrong, then do something that will have a real effect not be merely cosmetic."
I'm not sure if the surge will work or not. But, let's give it a chance. It might work. & the sooner things are setlled, the sooner we can pull out with less likelyhood of another disaster like Vietnam. What I am sure of is that if the Congress keeps micromanaging the war it WILL become another Vietnam, because they made it 1, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Congress Will be responsible, NOT President Bush.

We're Having a Party, Pt. 2

When I set out to list the political parties that exist in the USA, I knew there were a lot of minor ones, but I didn't expect the number to be about 90. I know that the list is probably not completely accurate but the best I could do with the resources I used.
Nor was I surprized by some of the parties that existed, esp the KKK as well as the many Neo-Nazi groups. But, just having to acknowledge them left me feeling a bit dirty. What is saddest is that they operate in the name of god. But the god they worship is not the God of the Bible. Their god is a god of hate that feeds on their hate that fuels their racism.
As I said, we need to tell the truth about what is wrong with them. But we need to do so much more. They present a Christianity that is not truly Christianity. What they present is a perversion straight out of Hell. We need to proclaim the Gospel of God's love for all human being, ALL. Jesus came & died on the cross even for the sin of racism. & the Holy Spirit can change hearts. So we need to pray that God for the strength & courage to proclaim the truth, the wisdom to know how in every situation & that the message will be welcomed & accepted

Edwards Anti-Christian "FASCISTA" Quits

The foul-mouthed Amanda Marcotte quit the John Edwards campaign according to a report in the Washington Post. Quoting from her blog the article says: "She blamed her most vocal critic, Bill Donohoe, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, writing that he "and his calvacade of right wing shills don't respect that a mere woman like me could be hired for my skills, and pretended that John Edwards had to be held accountable for some of my personal, non-mainstream views on religious influence on politics," which Marcotte described as being "anti-theocracy." "
The problem I have with this is that it isn't true. If it was merely the far right/orthodox Catholics & Christians that were upset she would still be there. It is because too many liberal Christians on the left were just as upset with her rants & bigotry. & she complete ignores that. An article on The Politico website points this out. Brian O'Dwyer, a New York lawyer and Irish-American leader, chair of the National Democratic Ethnic Leadership Council, a Democratic Party group, also called for Marcotte's firing. "It's not only wrong morally – it's stupid politically."
In an e-mail he sent out O'Dwyer said: "Senator Edwards is condoning bigotry by keeping the two bloggers on his staff. Playing to the cheap seats with anti-Catholic bigotry has no place in the Democratic Party."
Eduardo Penalver, a Cornell University law professor & writer for the liberal Catholic journal Commonweal said: "You imagine a similar kind of comment directed at the Jewish community or at the gay community – something at this level of intentional offensiveness -- and I have a hard time believing it gets resolved in the same way." Even though I disagree with a lot of what he says in this case he is right. An attack like this against the Muslim religion would never have been tolerated.
Ms. Marcotte & her cohorts are using fascist tactics to silence their opponents. She uses lies, hate, fear mongering to attack her enemies & when they stand up to defend themselves she calls them what she herself is.
This time though, it failed. However for the most part you would never know the truth as to why. I am actually surprized at the article on The Politico website. It told the true reasons for her firing unlike the Post article. In fact the Post gets in a few digs itself. It talks about a segmant on Monday's O'Reilly Factor on FoxNews. "Word of Marcotte's resignation came as Fox News Channel commentator Bill O'Reilly was leading his program with a full-throated attack on the two bloggers." Here is the segment they are refering to. It features Michelle Malkin & Kirsten Powers, a Democtratic strategist. Note esp what Ms. Powers says & then tell me: "Does this sound like a full throated attack, or a balanced evaluation of the situation?" (The Hot Air article that goes with it has some excellent analysis of the situation.)
On her blog Michelle Malkin has a post about the situation. she points out the AP bias in its headline about the resignation which says: "Targeted Blogger Quits Edwards Campaign" Michelle comes up with a better version: " "Godbag"-spewing Blogger Quits Edwards Campaign".
Sadly, Ms. Marcotte hasn't learned a thing from this. As pointed out earlier she is putting the blame elsewhere rather than taking responsibility for her hate-filled filth that she spewed. & she has promised to continue: "The main good news is that I don’t have a conflict of interest issue anymore that was preventing me from defending myself against these baseless accusations. So it’s on." (Marcotte vows revenge) On the other side, I will bet that Bill Donohue's response will be a willingness to accept the challenge but will prefer that she stop her attacks instead.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Maud Adams!

Today is the birthday of the only actress to be a Bond girl in 2 seperate movies, Andrea Anders in The Man With the Golden Gun & Octopussy in Octopussy. She is. . . . Sorry but you never tell a lady's age. So instead here are the trailers & opening credits to the 2 movies:
The Man With the Golden Gun:
Octopussy: Headlines

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