Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pluscarden Abbey - Scotland

Ran into this while I was looking for something else!

It is a recycled church building that got caught up in the Reformation in Scotland. It had no roof probably for about three hundred years. A new roof was put on it in the late 1940's. The modern stained glass is something else.

The church is also home and a the center of worship for monks. The complex that is restored and rebuilt is only I would say twenty percent of the orignal monastery complex.

Pluscarden Abbey

It is located near Elgin in Scotland. Looks like a delightful place to visit for prayer and meditation.

Of Angels Demons and Private Drinking Clubs

I liked the movie The DaVinci Code because it presented a fresh face on history. People these days do not seem to know what history is or was. Certainly in our cookie cutter institutions of education K-16, tests are all that seem important and not a holistic approach to education and knowledge.

Dan Brown in his book The DaVinci Code managed to put everything unrelated in western history for the past millennium including the contents of his dog’s pooper scooper bag into a connect the dots mirage of bullshit called history.

This secular trashing of the RC Church as some sort of megalithic source of all conspiracy and injustice for the past thousand years was far from being totally accurate. Albeit the Church of Rome has had a finger or two in the pie of European corruption and injustice over many a century but give me a break, give Rome a break too.

The crux of the conspiracy in the DaVinci Code centered around whether the sex life of Jesus via Mary Magdalene was real or imagined. This we will never know short of eternity. Proof does not exist. Speculation is not history.

What the DaVinci code did both as a poorly written book and an interesting suspense movie was to create a rebirth of the knowledge of the past with examples like the Crusades, the Knights Templar and the Cathars.

While it is easier to make stuff up like Dan Brown the further you go back in history with less documentation and documentable oral history, this carrot stew of Dan Brown and Ron Howard, Angels and Demons, now in the theatres takes the cake.

I have not seen the movie or read the book. The movie might prove interesting in terms of a suspense drama, music and City of Rome landscape dotted with many Renaissance and Roman buildings still standing.

What has turned me off to the whole matter is this talk about some obscure secret organization called the Illuminati who have waited centuries for revenge on the Vatican and perhaps the institution of Christ’s Church, Roman style.

Whoever or whatever the Illuminati once was, it probably was one of hundreds of secret brotherhoods that sprang up in the seventeenth century and as a reaction to political and religious warfare that resulted from the Protestant Reformation and the Church of Rome’s refusal to communicate or negotiate or recognize and change corrupt church practices.

It’s the middle of the seventeenth century, the powers that be agreed by treaty, Peace of Westphalia 1648, to recognize state sovereignty over religion and for overlapping countries with overlapping religions to grant limited religious freedom. It was the start of modern day Europe after almost continuous warfare for one hundred and thirty years.

In places like Germany, which was a hodge podge of countries and state religions, it was no doubt very awkward for intelligent people such as students in University towns to openly express political and or scientific points of view. It was in this atmosphere that brotherhoods, fraternities and secret intellectual organizations sprang up. In a tavern with like minded people you could discuss politics and science and not be subject to too much scrutiny.

The basis of these private drinking clubs at Universities and in the larger cities of Europe was a fertile ground where the Masons were founded in London in 1717. This coming together of Englishmen was in fear of the new German born king on the throne. They decided to band together in more or less secret alliance to discuss religion, science and politics.

Rosicrucians of that period were another secret order of the day and it began in a university atmosphere where the cutting edge scientific breakthroughs of Mining, Chemistry, Hydraulics, Engineering and Mathematics could be discussed without fear of Inquisition or local church leaders telling you that you can’t discuss this or that etc.

The religion of Swedenborgism is a Christian based belief system that looked at the bible in terms of a fresh mind and in light of all these recent scientific breakthroughs that would have been considered Alchemy less than a century before.

Getting back to the Masons, who are maligned as part of some global conspiracy thing, it started in London just as a young Ben Franklin was wandering around penniless and working as a printer – a backpacker stuck in Europe. He no doubt got a hold of freshly printed Masonic rituals or knew people in the organization. Little wonder he was a charter member of the First American Mason’s lodge in Pennsylvania in 1732. This private drinking club organization spread to the other twelve countries, I mean colonies, along the east coast of North America. These days such things are called social and or business networking.

So when Dan Brown’s pooper scooper bag is empty and they start talking about Illuminati, Anti-Matter and the Vatican in the same breath, it is just not a believable mixture of stuff for me.

I just saw a promo on cable promoting this new exciting movie Angels and Demons. You’ve got Ron Howard using the word “zeitgeist” and Tom Hanks using “gestalt”-
which is totally over my head. When I hear words like that I think of a Woody Allen movie and I think “Boring!”

I’ll wait to watch it on HBO in three months, same place where I waited to watch the DaVinci Code. Enough said.

Dies Irae - Day of Wrath - Notre Dame

Dies Irae - Day of Wrath – Day of Judgment

At Notre Dame, belief in the sanctity of life, a Sacred, a genuine heartfelt belief by many, would seem by the very nature of the modern age to has been corrupted, co-mingled, marshaled to champion politics, the Profane.

More so than the death of innocents through abortion is the death of Civility in the American Town Square, once real and now virtual. It would seem that there is a culture of death of sorts on both sides of this matter.

Dies Irae as a hymn is part of the ancient pre-Vatican II Mass for the dead.

On these matters that I would prefer not to touch with a ten foot pole, I turn to art, music, poetry...

I choose this very modern poetic translation of Dies Irae from the very dead language of Latin.
The day of wrath, that day
which will reduce the world to ashes,
as foretold by David and the Sybil.

What terror there will be,
when the Lord will come
to judge all rigorously!

The trumpet, scattering a wondrous sound
among the graves of all the lands,
will assemble all before the Throne.

Death and Nature will be astounded
when they see a creature rise again
to answer to the Judge.

The book will be brought forth
in which all deeds are noted,
for which humanity will answer.

When the judge will be seated,
all that is hidden will appear,
and nothing will go unpunished.

Alas, what will I then say?
To what advocate shall I appeal,
when even the just tremble?

O king of redoutable majesty,
who freely saves the elect,
save me, o fount of piety!

Remember, merciful Jesus,
that I am the cause of your journey,
do not lose me on that day.

You wearied yourself in finding me.
You have redeemed me through the cross.
Let not such great efforts be in vain.

O judge of vengeance, justly
make a gift of your forgiveness
before the day of reckoning.

I lament like a guilty one.
My faults cause me to blush,
I beg you, spare me.

You who have absolved Mary,
and have heard the thief's prayer,
have also given me hope.

My prayers are not worthy,
but you, o Good One, please grant freely
that I do not burn in the eternal fire.

Give me a place among the sheep,
separate me from the goats
by placing me at your right.

Having destroyed the accursed,
condemned them to the fierce flames,
Count me among the blessed.

I prostrate myself, supplicating,
my heart in ashes, repentant;
take good care of my last moment!

That tearful day,
when from the ashes shall rise again
sinful man to be judged.

Therefore pardon him, o God.
Merciful Lord Jesus,
give them rest.

( )

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Catholic Sharia Hissy Fit Over BHO at NDU

I like the secular laws of the United States. This witch hunt on the Catholic Blogosphere to trash President Obama and to punish the Administration of Notre Dame University sends shivers of fear up my spine. This Blogosphere Catholic Sharia hissy fit is sponsored directly by the Bishops of Rome close to seventy of them in the U.S. and indirectly by the cadaver Neo-Con wing of the GOP.

More than being a hissy fit, it is a blatant attempt to impose injustice and strange medieval laws back onto the books of America, pre-U.S. Constitution, a la Salem Massachusetts 1692 and good for hanging your neighbors, the people you do not like or agree with, as witches - in the name of GOD!. No Freaking Way! This is 2009, not 1509.

A perfect Teabag Party for Christ!

And interesting article by Robert Schrum:

Sharia politics at Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s decision to confer an honorary degree on President Obama has engendered resistance from a counter-reformation blessed by prominent members of the Catholic hierarchy. The fight against Obama is being advanced by a band of neo-Catholics who adhere to the radical notion that sectarian doctrine must be written into public policy. The former Archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond Burke, whose excoriation of John Kerry in 2004 was rewarded with a high Vatican post, has denounced the invitation to Obama as a “scandal.”

if Obama disagrees with Catholic doctrine, he must be condemned and silenced—even if he’s not a member of the church. This assertion of an almost limitless role for the church in public life comes perilously close to reviving a 19th-century pope’s position that “Americanism,” which values individualism and separation of church and state, is heresy

As someone who was raised a Catholic and is the product of 16 years of Catholic education, including Georgetown University, I am appalled to witness the rise of a neo-Catholicism at odds with American democracy and diversity. In particular, the Catholic hierarchy’s moral condemnation of gay Americans who seek the right of marriage comes with ill grace from the same people who for decades abetted and covered up for morally heinous predator priests…

I think Obama will be largely welcomed at Notre Dame. And I suspect that he will be reelected in 2012 with strong Catholic support. As Catholics themselves reject the hierarchy’s partisan directives, this Church—and any other—would be wise to avoid attempting to impose a version of sharia politics in the U.S.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"I am a secular Christian"

From Cathy Lynn Grossman’s religious discussion blog on USA Today is an article suggesting that the word “secular” is being tossed back and forth in the culture wars to see if is can be used as a safe or as a hot code word.

So much about religion and marketing and consumer polls is about what is the right word to sell or critique a product in this modern age. Religion has become a commodity like everything else on the planet including it’s inhabitants.

Titans like Dick, Newt and Rush devour their young for the ultimate civic pontiff title of it all – God, Country, Power – (hell’s last acre) at present. The rest of us have to settle into a bumpy ride of semantics to help us label what is good or how to communicate in this age of fusion.

It is this present and ongoing fusion of ideas, myths, religions, political structures, economics and the very breath of life itself that is coming together to formulate the ideas and communication touch stones of the future – in a hopefully more civil human Global Town Square.

From the USA Today blog:

The U.S. Constitution is 'secular:' Fighting words?
The word "secular" in European, Muslim and Israeli cultures and, of course, in the USA, has become a verbal grenade.
It is often used -- or rather misused -- interchangeably with "atheist," according to the "Jewish Word" column in the latest issue of Moment, a magazine of contemporary Jewish thought, in which various experts sort through the linguistic thicket.

From the “Jewish Word” Column:

Flash Point in the Culture Wars
“People since the 19th century have said ‘I am a secular Jew’ to mean ‘I am a Jew, but I am not a religiously observant Jew,’” says Susan Jacoby, author of the 2008 The Age of American Unreason who runs The Secularist’s Corner on The Washington Post website. In contrast, “you never hear someone say ‘I am a secular Christian.’”
And of course I had to go out on the Internet to see if anybody actually calls themself a Secular Christian. VoilĂ .

Statement of Faith by Robert Traer Ph.D
The love of family and friends continues to convince me that love is life's greatest gift. I am grateful for all those who have shared with me this wonderful gift, and I bear witness that these loving persons include Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Unitarian Universalists, agnostics, and atheists, as well as Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

I also give thanks for the Source of all that is. I believe all that we know and are, including our consciousness, our freedom and morality, come from the way the cosmos is evolving. I look to science, literature, history, and religious experience for insight into this wondrous unfolding.

I am a secular Christian. I am secular because I believe all human knowledge is limited and must be tested by experience and reasoning. This includes religious wisdom as well as scientific theories. I support secular government rather than religious government, because history reveals that secular governments are more likely to protect our freedom to pursue the truth through open debate and the rule of law.

I am a Christian because my highest aspirations have been inspired by biblical stories and teachings. I "live and move and have my being" (Acts 17:28) within the witness of scripture.

My faith, however, is not defined by a belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God risen from the dead. I see this as mythological language, which resists (as we should) the claim that Caesar (or any ruler) is god and savior of the world. I find in the symbol of resurrection an affirmation that injustice does not have the final word in history.

The heart of the Christian witness, for me, is the hope that we may know and manifest the love that does not die when we do.

The New Testament stories of Jesus and his followers call me to be more forgiving and to struggle with others for justice and reconciliation. Humbly, I embrace the hope that: "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God in them." (1 John 4:16)

I have found that this wondrous hope is affirmed in many traditions of faith, and is manifested wherever women and men love and forgive one another.

November 2007

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Saint Quelle Pray For Us

Saint Quelle, who was he? He was from Somewhere. Presumably he lived in the end part of the first century into the early years of the second century. Where did he live? Somewhere is in present day Turkey.

After doing a lot of amateur sleuthing about the last century of academic dissection of the four Gospels, one sees a lot of impressive deconstruction and primarily from the Jesus Seminar. I say deconstruction because it is easy to pull something apart but what is left of the whole of the Christian Myth.

A name that gets tossed around a lot is the retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Sprong. He is quite eloquent and I do not take away from any of his or his fellow Jesus Seminar types but – but – they all salaried, vested and pensioned academics and use only documentation to talk their talk and walk their walk.

Besides, deconstruction of the Christian Myth leaves a great big hole, a void, a chasm that has not yet been filled in. When it is filled in, it will be paper mache and made only from the original few documents in Christianity that are there.

This academic dissection got started over a century ago with an analysis that stated of the first three similar synoptic gospels – Matthew and Luke did not copy everything from Mark. Some other document, a “quelle” (“source” in German) document must have once existed to be a source for the slight differences in quotes between the original Mark and the two follow up gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Rather than be a document, I have sometimes wondered if “Q” was not the same oral source. This does not much differ from oral history being written down and then used at a later time. But think of it. Let’s put a human being there in the seventh and eighth decade of the first century and still being a possible oral source – an original eyewitness. Interesting concept. I call him Saint Quelle. He was real. Just like Christianity itself.

What about the documents that are not there? Too many documents seemed to have disappeared in the early centuries of the Church or maybe they never existed to begin with – “Q” document included.

I am not saying that Jesus is not real. His message is clear to me. It is a simple message and stated amid the embellishments added to the New Testament over the decades and centuries after his ministry. While the academicians may have done a lovely job on the Gospels, they have yet to scrutinize the rest of the New Testament and namely Saint Paul.

I believe that there is a Paul Seminar going on at present. And it is brought to you by the same people who deconstructed Jesus in the Jesus Seminar - claiming by one estimate that only 18% of the sayings in the Gospels were actually uttered by Jesus.

I hope that the scholars they use this time are not merely Christian scholars who have studied Hebrew and Judaism. How many Rabbis have been invited to dissect Paul, the original yeshiva overachiever?

Having stated earlier that I thought that the Acts of the Apostles was an honest work, I look at it of late and see some basic flaws. I do not see specific flaws. The main thing I see is an all too convenient nature of the Acts as a bridge document to feed into and explain the players.

In Acts, Peter runs a Jim Jones type commune. Anybody who does not sell all their property because the world is going to end next week – and give all your money to the commune – well they get blown away like Ananias and Sapphira who cheated God and hedged their bet about the end of the world and the eternity things. Does this all happen in mere days or months after Jesus leaves town following his resurrection?

And, with Peter, is a major shadow player in the form of James, the “brother of Jesus”. Peter is or is not the second banana here depending on who tells you the story or who is in charge of the lecture.

Then you have Paul, the guy that always seems to be a dollar short and a day late in missing all the good stuff that just happened right under his very nose – lived in Jerusalem and never heard of Jesus etc. There is I think a problem with timelines here. Paul is an Apostle with an asterisk footnote.

Paul hears Jesus on the road to Damascus after Jesus is dead, resurrected and ascended into heaven until the second coming. Jesus makes one exception to his timeline to grab Paul’s attention when Paul and his posse got stopped short by a blinding light and Paul does a 180 degree turn and then embraces Christianity instead of trying to destroy it.

Then Paul and Peter and James kiss and make up and agree that circumcision is okay for gentile believers of Jesus as the Messiah – but only outside Jerusalem, James and Peter’s turf. Whatever.

The rest of Acts has Paul being beaten and arrested and surviving one shipwreck after another. You can almost hear the 007 electric guitar music playing as he rides out the super hero role into a question mark. Acts does not really say what happens to either Peter or Paul. You are supposed to guess your happy ending to that spec script.

Acts in real terms to me is like a bridge document or a Star Wars 1, 2, 3 to make sense of the original starting films 4,5,6 which got produced first like the Epistles or the Gospels. Acts if it is a bridge document, it was written to pull all the rest of accepted scripture into a makes sense timeline.

Just waiting for the shoe to drop from the Paul Seminar is so nerve racking. What will the academics accept and who or what in the script will get black balled?

Looking ahead with my own deconstruction and reconstruction, I see a few things that will cushion me against the Paul Seminar throwing the baby out with the bath water again.

A sort of partial deconstruction and reconstruction happened in the Reformation. The protestants threw out the Pagan Roman traditions of the RC church. The Prots based Christianity on the written word. That was a primitive reconstruction of sorts. It perhaps sets the stage for the future of Christianity after another future wave of literal deconstruction and reconstruction of scripture.

And then there is always the possibility that a set of Christian style bunch of Dead Sea Scrolls or Nag Hammadi type documents will get discovered in the future.

As such I am following my own previous stated positions. I break the whole Jesus Christ myth into historic timeline myths labeled The Jesus Myth and The Christ Myth. Do not be afraid of the word myth. I use it in place of the word story as in traditional and or legendary story.

The first is The Jesus Myth which is the basic Jesus product that grew up out of oral and written things – a model T Ford automobile - that includes the gospels if in fact they were finalized before the second stage or The Christ Myth.

The Christ Myth is the merger into Greek and Latin and with heavy weight pagan beliefs and the basic son of Zeus thing – a 1959 Cadillac with fins.

Any way you slice Christianity, it as a core of words or beliefs, has a lot going for it and namely its ability to morph from millennium to millennium and suit new secular needs. Right now the faith is a little bit in the doldrums and waiting for the winds of some more change to take it to the future – on wings as of an eagle.

Saint Quelle pray for us – and especially the Paul Seminar!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pius XII and Yad Vashem

There is a minor brouhaha with Joe the Pope’s upcoming visit to Israel. Joe is going to lay a wreath at the Holocaust Museum - Yad Vashem - Martyrs' Remembrance site. Joe is not going to visit the exhibition center – no time on the schedule. And while Joe did at some point wear the unifrom of the Wermarcht he wears a totally different uniform now.

There is a plaque among the exhibits that basically trashes Pope Pius XII for his not renouncing Hitler and you know the rest.

I have not been able to find words in print but have taken words off of photos of the exhibit which may at present be worded differently but this is what I have seen:
While the ovens were fed by day and by night
The most Holy Father who dwells in Rome
Did not leave his palace, with crucifix high,
To witness one day of Pogrom...


…When Jews were deported from Rome to Auschwitz, the Pope did not intervene. The Pope retained his neutral position throughout the war…His silence and absence of guidelines obliged Churchmen throughout Europe to decide on their own how to react.
The above photo is not unlike the holy cards of my childhood whereby the Pope was of a distant and mythical character. The Pope never left the Vatican once elected and stayed there until he died. Vatican II saw John XXIII walking around and visiting the city of Rome and even talking to gardeners in the Papal gardens.

Pius XII is of the old world and the new world. The ugly world of the Third Reich was quite visible to this pontiff in many ways. In many ways he had been elected because he had been the Papal ambassador to Germany in the twenties and because he had experience with and contacts with the Nazi Regime.

Never forget that the Pope is both a spiritual leader and a politician with most times the equivalency of an accounting degree. What was in Pius XII‘s heart regarding the Holocaust? We will never know short of Judgment Day.

Who is to say that Pius XII and his passive actions towards the Nazis did not save more Jews than if he openly opposed them. So too perhaps neutrality was a truth in that Vatican Passports saved Jews before and during the war just as those same passports whisked Nazis to South America after the war.

What I find offensive is not the exhibit itself but where are the photos of all the Jewish leaders before and during the war that had told their peers and subordinates that this was just another Pogrom – that it would pass - stay in place and do not flee. In hindsight, how would all these Jewish leaders and Pius XII know that the storm of the century – a perfect storm - of hate - and the Holocaust were about to happen?

I support Benedict XVI and his action to diplomatically ignore this offensive exhibit at Yad Vashem. The Martyrs deserve better remembrance and wiser insight of that era.

Friday, May 8, 2009

National Prayer Observed - Everyday

Of course everyday is a good day to pray.

Yesterday the White House endorsed a National Day of Prayer with less fanfare and less political pomp as in recent years.

No one group can own nor can any one philosophical approach to the concept of God be monopolized especially in this diverse nation.

Prayer Day receives ecumenical treatment
…Obama opted yesterday for a private observance and a decidedly ecumenical proclamation. The proclamation cites the "one law that binds all great religions together: the Golden Rule and its call to love one another, to understand one another, and to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth."

Praising the armed forces, he says "it is because of them that we continue to live in a nation where people of all faiths can worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience."

Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, said it was "disappointed in the lack of participation by the Obama administration" in the 58th annual observance. "At this time in our country's history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer," she said in a statement.

But other religious groups praised Obama for dialing back the observance and accused the task force of trying to exclude non-Christians. Dobson is the wife of James Dobson of Focus on the Family, a politically active Christian conservative group…

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Papal Circus on the Road Again

The Pope and his entourage of 2,000 “journalists” are on the road again, making a royal progress through the Middle East. Party!

An Excellent article by Jeffrey Fleishman in the Los Angeles Times.

Jordan first stop on papal Holy Land visit

Edward Eid is a Catholic and general director of Greek Orthodox schools in Jordan. Such a role might seem contradictory for him, but in Jordan, where Christians account for less than 4% of a population of about 6 million, interdenominational mingling is a way of life. Eid has a VIP ticket to the pope's Sunday Mass, but he's not going, feeling a closer allegiance to his Muslim countrymen than to the Holy See.

"We Christians paid the price for what the pope said in 2006," he said. "Before he says anything about the Middle East, he should know how Christians live here."

The Christian population has been shrinking through economic emigration and over the rise of Islamic conservatism. For every church that is built, one mosque, or possibly two, pops up in the same neighborhood. After the pope's comments three years ago, he said, 15 Muslim families threatened to remove their children from Eid's schools; rancor and bruised feelings spread between the Christian village where he grew up and the neighboring Muslim town. Tribes, customs and family connections fixed things, but there remains an air of unease.

"The pope's a smart fellow and I was astonished. His comments were like a bullet out of a gun. You can't take them back. Even the Orthodox Church told me, 'Leave us out of the pope's visit,' " Eid said. "But I'm using the visit for the benefit of Jordan. The pope travels with something like 2,000 journalists. Jordan will be shown all over the world."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Are you a Poshiter Yid?

I hope I am not offending anybody. Ran into the above bumper sticker on the way to the Staten Island Ferry on a car with Illinois plates. I thought it was something anti-semitic. Instead it refers to some Yiddish pop Music banned by some orthodox rabbis in Chicago. I hear that the bumper sticker is a way of using non-verbal negatives to the rabbis who have banned the music. (Poshiter Yid = a simple Jew)

Below is a clip of I think by the same artist. I did not know Yiddish was still spoken. I remember it from my youth when my father would go and haggle with some Jewish merchants for the best bargain in town for school clothes etc. My father did not speak Yiddish but he may have known a few words to strike up the conversation or finish up the deal.

The artist's name is Lipa Schmeltzer.

A Poshiter Yid

This Review is Banned!

How Goes Maine So Goes The Nation ?

The political saying above was about Presidential Elections that saw the State of Maine voting for the winner 90% of the time in the past century. Maine in the past seemed to be right in the middle but on the fine winning edge of how to judge the mood and course of the nation.

Gay marriage has come to Maine. There is obviously something going on out there in the world. Being the flaming liberal that I am, I believe in equal rights and opportunities for everyone. The liberal in me is also still a little bit homophobic. That is what I was taught in the American Culture that I grew up in. The American Culture I will die in someday in the future will have Gay Marriage almost everywhere. Theory is one thing. The facts staring at you in the face is quite a different thing. It will take some getting used to (for me at least).

I have known and socialized with Gay people in the past. Having lived on and off in NYC for close to a quarter century, it is impossible not to know any gay people. Live and let live has always been the common attitude for the most part. Hate crimes can happen just as easily here in NYC as they do in Wyoming. Social mores can change. Human nature remains the same.

This is where the paradigm shift happens in our Global Culture. This is where there are no real roadmaps. What was described in the Bible as a no-no is now getting mainstream secular attention. Without a Constitutional amendment supporting rights to gay marriage I would guesstimate this status will be a permanent civil function of a dozen to half the fifty states in the next decade. Once the novelty, fear and bias wears off, perhaps all or almost all states will recognize this as a legal status.

Isn’t it odd how so much of what the common culture now wants comes from the culture itself and not from tradition and not from sacred texts anymore? The secular state has arrived even with all the right wing evangelists screaming and kicking and spouting ancient words every step of the way.

What I first thought of as a Global Town Square and as perhaps a variation of the old concept of the “global village” is nothing quite as I imagined it to be – today.

We all not in a physical town square anymore. We are in a virtual town square and it is the same in Iowa as it is in New York City. We cling to our homes, our worlds and we wrap ourselves in a bubble with cell phones, iPods, earphones, laptops and centered around the virtual Yellow Pages, Webster’s Dictionary and Sears Catalogue of the new age – the Internet. We reinforce our own view of the world instead of the other way around as it has been for centuries.

My need to be spiritual depends on me. I do not trust the moral authority of the Christian or Catholic Church that I have seen reshape itself into its own financial and survival mode self interests and at the expense I think of the people who once sat in the pews of churches. Even the intimacy of being in a small church or chapel to pray or meditate is dwarfed by Mega churches designed more for rock concerts than spirituality that I feel comfortable with.

Part of my reason for writing this blog has been to keep an ongoing interest and observation of the day to day lives of people in the domestic end of my street and all the way to the national culture generated from Hollywood, NYC or Wash. D.C.. The view I see today is a remarkable but twisted view through a prism.

What I see through that prism I sometimes do not grasp easily or understand but stand by in cautious curiosity and feel that no matter what I see or feel does not matter much. The world and the culture is evolving all around us. I only hope that the end results or the discernible results down the road somehow match what is now, has been and will hopefully remain a human culture.

The future has arrived! (and we all remain pilgrims in search of something)

Senator Bob Casey at King's College - May 17

While surfing the net for other things, I ran into one of those connect the dots things of things related or seemingly related or of having no relation at all. Am I making sense?

Not to harp much further on Bishop Martino of Scranton. He has been ragging on Senator Casey of Pennsylvania who is scheduled to speak at King's College in Wilkes Barre on May 17. Casey is pro-life but his voting record is many times pro-choice and not satisfactory to Vatican standards of what a good Catholic should say, do or think.

May 17 is the same day that good Catholics want to lynch Obama for giving a commencement speech at Notre Dame. Is May 17 some sort of Catholic Holy Day?

Back to Casey and King's College, if you cannot get a better moral man than Casey why not have a famous alumni of the same college speak.

I hear that Judge Mark Ciavarella might be available to replace Casey as a speaker.

Of course Judge Ciavarella is a “white collar” criminal who got caught cheating on his income taxes along with that other Judge Michael Conahan.

This is where connecting dots really gets a little interesting. In doing some research on Bishop Martino, his posted pastoral letters and his quotes on the Catholic Blogosphere posing as journalism, I do not see one condemnation of the this man Judge Mark Ciavarella by this very loud, very angry, very “moral” Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton.

I know that Judge Ciavarella’s white collar crime happened over the county line in Lucerne County but it is still Martino’s religious bailiwick. And Wilkes Barre is a whole sixteen miles from Scranton. This is where I think of all those Germans after WWII who said that did not know about Auschwitz that was just down the road and they did not know what was going on at that facility of historic horrors.

I know that the moral leader of the Catholic Church in the Scranton Diocese did not know about the crimes against humanity of children being put in private “for profit” juvenile jails so that Judge Ciavarella and Judge Conahan could get bribes to fill up these “for profit” prisons.

I feel sad that the best way the Bush “Justice” department could deal with these monsters in judge’s robes who in essence trafficked in children - was to only let them get off with a mere seven years plea bargained sentence and on the white collar crime of tax fraud.

America’s total moral abandonment during these recent years is something everybody should recognize, pray about, ask forgiveness for, and turn over a new leaf to the country’s hopefully better moral future.

You speak in the public square Bishop Martino screaming your moral righteousness about Bob Casey or are obsessed about sex on Catholic Campuses or the general state of morality, and you will do everything in your power to strike down Roe vs. Wade.

I know that you have not addressed one of the most recent heinous crimes against humanity carried out within your moral jurisdiction and now I understand why you shout so loud on other matters. You shout to not hear the cries of the children whose lives where ruined by these judges, one of whom I know is the Product of the Diocese of Scranton’s Catholic grade school, high school and college education system.

You cannot condemn the whole system for the failure of a few. But being whole moral on some issues and then being half moral or morally absent on other issues makes for a very lukewarm morality. Last dot is connected.

You’re right Bishop Martino. Bob Casey is not good enough to speak at King’s College. He is perhaps too good.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thank you Bishop Martino for supporting our grandchildren.

Four Catholic Colleges Ban Birth Control On Campus

Four Catholic institutions of higher learning in Pennsylvania have decided not to make contraceptive devices like condoms or oral birth control available on campus, as per the suggestion of Bishop Joseph Martino. The schools agree with Bishop Martino’s stance that providing such items on campus go against Catholic doctrine.
Contractually, and under most federal guaranteed student loans, if you pay for full services at any university, and for your child under 21 and he or she conceives in that university, the university should be obligated to support the children conceived, unaborted and delivered at that pro-life university – especially if birth control is forbidden at the so-called full service facility.

That's my spin on the law or how it should be - that or pull the plug on federal monies to support these institutions. It's one thing to provide funds for education. It is an entirely other thing for these funds be misused to interfere in the private sex lives of students. If you interfere in the conception process - "if you break it you buy it".

Bishop Joe Martino of Scranton in the goodness of his heart and the immence wealth of the Roman Catholic Church should take full responsible for part of the child’s support until age 21 of all children conceived on church property and especially when the University forbids birth control on the premises. Partial responsibility starts with taking away the kid's candy - the rubbers and the pills. Any responsibility in the process of life implies reponsibility for continued responsibility of moral and financial support.

Thank you Joe – you are a pearl among men and with the assets of the Vatican, the sky is the limit with our children who attend upstate Pennsylvania Catholic colleges – namely Marywood, Kings, U of Scranton, Misericordia but who have the sense to have children born out of wedlock through your papal command – thx for the co-child support through 21 = you are a life saver !

This co-sponsorship of unwanted pregnancies and child support (or at least lawsuits from unplanned grandparents) kicks church morality up another notch and into a brave bold, unknown frontier.

Thank you Joe! You are a saint! Amen!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Prayer! What an Original Idea Bishop Wenski.

There is the bishop of Orlando (second from left - photo above - under right hand of Jesus) who is doing a Mass of Reparation to repent for the mortal sins against God – presumably regarding abortions by women and condom use by men – and in relation to President Obama’s arrogant uppity personal view of life and Christianity.

Notre Dame's Obama invite riles Catholic bishops
This coming week, Bishop Thomas Wenski of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando, Fla., will take the unusual step of celebrating a Mass of Reparation, to make amends for sins against God. The motivation: to provide an outlet for Catholics upset with what Wenski calls the University of Notre Dame's "clueless" decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at its commencement and receive an honorary doctorate May 17.
This is a good thing. Prayer. How Original! “A Mass of Reparation, to make amends for sins against God” for mortal sins like abortions by women and condom use by men.

Sounds good from a PR stand point. Any American Bishop can sign on to the “me too” Radio Talk-Show Litmus Loyalty Test against Obama at Notre Dame. Why not try prayer to set your house in order - Bishop Wenski and the other “me too” American bishops following the same tired party line and protest about Notre Dame’s choice.

Notre Dame as a world class institution has the right to bestow a minor honor on this man. This man has done more in a short time for American greatness, for American healing in a symbolic manner greater than half a dozen Vatican Councils.

From the same Article Above:
"I think the bishops who believe abortion is the ultimate litmus test look at the polls and realize Catholics are not listening to them," said the Rev. Mark Massa, co-director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University. "They're playing a very dangerous game because they do not have the moral authority they had before the sex abuse crisis, and they're trying to find a toehold and get heard."
How many Masses of Reparation have been said by the these same “me too” bishops for the sins of the clergy against the innocent Bishop Wenski? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? Tell me!

Or does morality on that issue straddle a thin blurred line? Perhaps the clergy abuse thing is considered a secular matter because it deals, has dealt, with lawyers, lawsuits, civil and not church laws.

Perhaps the true moral authority of some American bishops can be ascertained after May 17 with this “moral” line in the sand tempest in a moral teapot thing about Obama at Notre Dame - by seeing who is on or off this loyal “me too” bishops' self righteous petition being passed around at present.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cultural Christian Sensibility

I see in the New York Times an article about how atheists and agnostics are networking via E-mail and the Internet to feel more comfortable and defend themselves against the aggressive religious types who like to have a monopoly on the concept of God – and who like to harass anybody outside the local God Club. This, in what some are now calling post-Christian America.

More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops

My choosing the “Cultural Christian” label was to have something. I am not an atheist, not quite an agnostic and am perhaps Christian, whatever that truly is, in my heart. I do not like religion and or religions and this is based on their dismal past performance.

Part of the social contract of humanity since the beginning of time is the “yeah okay” response to shamans, wish craft, superstitions and the bully chief in charge of the tribe.

In exchange for “yeah okay” you get to stay on this side of the fence or stay inside the cave – and are protected from the great unknown of “them” whoever and whatever “them” is – fear (?) – and or the forces of nature.

Over the centuries, God and or Religion got stuck in the social fabric thing as an entitlement for some and as a permanent tool of the state. Why?

Messengers of God! Messengers of messengers of God keep trying to polish the message from God if there is a true message or a true God.

Even Mohammed had to renegotiate the prayer thing with a supposedly perfect God through the middleman messenger of Gabriel. The number of times required per day for prayers to God got cut down from fifty times a day to five. Is that a bargain or what?

That prayer five times a day seems an awful lot to pray to a deity that is in all likelihood not listening. That the deity perhaps has better things to do and is perhaps distracted with another dinosaur experiment on another planet in another galaxy at the moment? Whatever.

The message of Jesus is in the Sermon on the Mount – and to love one’s neighbor and to love one’s self in balance and in concert with others. Life is or should be a group effort thing.

The Golden Rule by any other name is still the Golden Rule.

That Jesus if he had succeeded in his social revolution, he may have been forgotten in time like Simon Bar Kochba.

As such and in my local corner of the western hemisphere I look at and measure all things through an ancient Christian prism as well as modern secular bifocal lenses. (Always read the fine print!)

As the earth’s common culture continues to shrink into a singular global stage, I pray. I pray because I think it a useful and right thing to do. It is part of my makeup and upbringing. I pray for myself and I pray for the overthrow of any kind of “tyranny over the mind of man”.

Organized religion seems to be obsolete in western culture. Schools, hospitals and government are mostly secular and here in the USA the separation of church and state has been the cornerstone law of this land for over two centuries.

It is not that God is dead in so much as ancient myths and logics are misunderstood and or incompatible with this modern age. In any case – God is God; man is religion.

I pray that all of Islam wakes up one day soon. I pray that it is able to think independently of the state and the evil fascist rulers controlling the local mosque. That awakening will be Islam’s Reformation and gift to the world.

The harder the extremists of Islam and Christianity fight for a place at the table of a fascist rulers’ feast – the greater the awakening to moderates who do not want to be told what God wants.

Who knows what God wants ? Only madmen!

The secular sunshine of tomorrow will shine on all cultures on all continents.

Other than that, my Cultural Christian Sensibility knows that in fifty years time – all of humanity will look at all things including God and religion as either “B.D” or “A.D.” – either “Before Darwin” or “After Darwin”.

God and religion will not totally disappear but man and man’s grasp of science will be accepted as the newest and latest revelation or message of Creation.

Humankind is both the messenger and the message. Man is the arbitrator of life itself, the quality of life and the goal of life. Man is the primary key for the survival of the species.

A true close and or distant God might agree with the thought that “Man is (and should be) the measure of all things” on earth.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Hope You Dance


In the interest to myself to not take myself too seriously in some of these odious blog topics - a lighter note - a secular hymn if you will - and a moment to reflect on the weekend "sabbath".

I hope you dance.



Friday, April 24, 2009

The Bush Cheney Inquisition

One mans’s torture is another man’s pleasure???

There is a lot of vetting going on now in the media and the Congress about that torture thingy. Sean Hannity of FOX News has volunteered to be water boarded for charity to show that the near drowning experience is not torture but a frat house prank kind of thing. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC has offered $1,000 a second for every second that Sean does this easy frat house thing for charity. Poor Keith is going to spend a fortune on Sean who will proving that he is no pussy. Good fun for TV, the media circus and ratings.

Water boarding as torture goes back to the Spanish Inquisition which came into place over five centuries ago to weed out heretics but in reality it was a ethnic cleansing tool to get rid of Jews and Muslims from Spain who had been in Spain for centuries.

If you cannot get a modern day picture in your head about this Inquisition or torture thing I suggest the movie “Goya’s Ghosts” which shows torture and the Inquisition of about two centuries ago. Yes heretics were still being rounded up and tortured up to 1834 in Catholic Spain. Natalie Portman’s character in the movie gets caught up in Church politics and torture just because of her not liking a particular dish in a restaurant. No more plot give away here. See the movie. Splendid period piece against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars in Spain (Global Politics circa 1800 AD).

Goya's Ghosts

Getting back to people like Condelezza Rice, selling her soul to get ahead in life but as National Security Advisor signing off on torture before attorney Jay Bybee had even pulled out his crayons at DOJ to write his legal opinion on the subject to give legal credence to - well it’s a long story.

As I said earlier, if men and women of good conscience were trying to defend this county in an emergency situation they, the former regime and its defenders, would not be acting like such inbred idiots and a bunch of tossers about this current tempest in a teapot?

If we are a nation of laws, a so-called “Christian country”, we can live without torture as a modus operandi of our mantra and national identity.

Throughout this so called debate going on now about torture picture this – George Washington did not need torture to win the Revolution.

Bush and Cheney, two natural born bullies, did need torture to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq for fun and profit.

See the movie Goya’s Ghosts. Get some perspective on this current topic.

Be well – and don’t be tortured.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twitter to God

Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our dail

(Commentary: Oh the modern age - how like the proverbial glass - is it half empty or half full?)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dick Cheney Go Home

Lately, Dick Cheney is all over the place – hyperactive – and perhaps in fear that the truth if we discover it about the Bush Cheney years will set us free. Alleluia!

If you acted in good conscience in the defense of the nation, nobody will fault you up to a certain point. Beyond that point, I doubt international indictments regarding War Crimes will touch you unless you go to nasty places like France.

Dear Dick, you seem lately more like Pontius Pilate’s gatekeeper Cartaphilus who gave that social malcontent Jesus a shove and Jesus in term damned him to walk the earth until the second coming. The only second coming you seem to be praying for is a second big terrorist attack on the domestic US scene. In which case you will no doubt feel absolved from your personal hand in Abu Grhaib and Gitmo and justified in your extreme defense of Liberty which would seem to be no vice to you.

I suggest you get Fox News to give you official Pundit status if you are in fact competing with Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Michael Steele to be head of the party – or at least what is left of it after you and George’s drunken sailors’ party at the expense of the once good name of this nation.

Like the guest who came to dinner and feasted, you will not leave. How Rude and un-Emily Post of you dude!

If you are trying for the remake of Fatal Attraction and they say you can’t do the Glenn Close part even in drag – I will vouch for you and I’ll will pay to see that flick dudette.

Other than that, like Shakespeare who no doubt said after he no doubt sensed that the play had its full run - your hour upon the stage has come and gone Dear Mr. Cheney.

Take the advice from Matt below and enjoy your well (?) deserved retirement.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Christian America at a Crossroads

Newsweek tried to imitate Time and its 1966 blockbuster cover “Is God Dead?”

Newsweek is a pale reflection of that historic Time piece in the issue shown above from last week. Perhaps Journalism is in decline in America with a dozen other things including religion – I don’t know. I just know that we are in that long tunnel underground and traveling under water from one shore to another in terms of a cultural upheaval or is it merely our finally looking at reality – looking honestly at America as part of and not master of a Global World.

I do not like the term “post Christian America”. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Perhaps forty years of reaction to the Time question “Is God Dead?” and the last seismic shocks of Vatican II have finally petered out.

I read the Newsweek article below. Read it if you want to. It is not a masterpiece. It is statistics and observations whether true or not about faith in secular America and at a crossroads.

The End of Christian America

The only quote I will mention from the Newsweek article, page 4, comes from a former pope and an archbishop of Canterbury.
As always with the Bible, however, there are passages that complicate the picture. The author of Hebrews says believers are "strangers and exiles on the earth" and that "For here we have no lasting city, but seek the city which is to come." In Romans the apostle Paul advises: "Do not be conformed to this world." The Second Vatican Council cited these words of Pius XII: the Catholic Church's "divine Founder, Jesus Christ, has not given it any mandate or fixed any end of the cultural order. The goal which Christ assigns to it is strictly religious … The Church can never lose sight of the strictly religious, supernatural goal."

As an archbishop of Canterbury once said, though, it is a mistake to think that God is chiefly or even largely concerned with religion. "I hate the sound of your solemn assemblies," the Lord says in Amos. Religion is not only about worshipping your God but about doing godly things, and a central message of the Gospels is the duty of the Christian to transform, as best one can, reality through works of love. "Being in the world and not of it remains our charge," says Mohler. "The church is an eternal presence in a fallen, temporal world—but we are to have influence. The Sermon on the Mount is about what we are to do—but it does not come with a political handbook."

Here are a few lines from someone’s reaction to the recent Newsweek article about the so-called “Decline and Fall of Christian America” by Jim Wallis.

Rectifying a historic Christian mistake
The Religious Right was a Christian mistake. It was a movement that sought to implement a “Christian agenda” by tying the faithful to one political option -- the right wing of the Republican Party. The politicizing of faith in such a partisan way is always a theological mistake. But the rapid decline of the Religious Right now offers us a new opportunity to re-think the role of faith in American public life.

Personally, I am not offended or alarmed by the notion of a post-Christian America. Christianity was originally and in my view, always meant to be, a minority faith with a counter-cultural stance, as opposed to being the dominant cultural and political force. Notions of a 'Christian America' quite frankly have not turned out very well.

But that does not mean a lack of religious influence — on the contrary. Committed minorities have had a tremendous influence on cultures and even on politics. Just look at all the faith-inspired social-reform movements animated by people of faith. But Martin Luther King Jr. did not get the Civil Rights Act passed because he had the most Bible verses on his side but because he entered into the public square with compelling arguments, vision and policies that ultimately won the day. Those faith-inspired movements are disciplined by democracy, meaning they do not expect to win just because they are “Christian.” They have to win the debates about what is best for the common good by convincing their fellow citizens.

And that is best done by shaping the values narrative, as opposed to converting everyone to their particular brand of religion. Rather, they are always looking for allies around their moral causes, including people of other faiths or of no religion. The story of Christianity in America during the coming decades will be defined by a multicultural shift as well as by a generational one. 'New' evangelicals and Catholics, along with black, Hispanic, and Asian churches will now shape the agenda. But also included are the millions of Americans who say they are “spiritual but not religious,” and who find homes in non-traditional churches, mega-churches which teach that true religion is found in care for “the least of these.” Making a real impact on the values and directions that a democracy will choose is perhaps a more exciting kind of influence than relying on the illusory and often disappointing hopes of cultural and political dominance.
Food for thought.