. . . of St. Maria Goretti! Have you heard of the California-based Goretti Group and their upcoming race for the chaste?
One can always count on our favorite Church basher, Ian Paisley, to think of new and creative ways to knock the Church. Most recently, he denounced Britain for inviting the pope because, regarding the sex-abuse scandals, the Church “is anti-Christ in teaching and doctrine.” One wonders what Church teaching and doctrine he would approve of.
But he ought to throw her a bone at least once, don’t you think? After all, the Church has always been there for him to bash.
Researchers at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka have found that women who have had abortions are three times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer later in life. Actually, this is old news; I remember hearing about this years ago, and it’s the fourth study performed in fourteen months that found such a link.
What’s news is that the scientific facts of the research may be reaching the public finally, despite the efforts of abortion supporters to hush it up. (They’re concerned it could affect women’s choices, but isn’t choice their schtick?)
As the news story reports, “Dr. Louise Brinton, a senior researcher with the U.S. National Cancer Institute who did not accept the link, reversed her position to say she was now convinced abortion increased the risk of breast cancer by about 40 percent.”
Have you heard? There’s a new genre of summer camps now, tailored exclusively to kids of agnostic and atheist families!
The full extent of what this entails, I do not know. But I do know these camps may be at a loss for good camp songs. For, as we learned from Steve Martin earlier this week, “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs”:
But maybe they could modify the old camp tunes to fit their chord–you know, like “Kum Bay Yah, Myself, Kum Bay Yah . . .” –but nah, that just doesn’t quite work as well as the original.
What do you think–what other songs do you think might fly at atheist camp?
Before watching the latest delight from Pixar, Toy Story 3, last weekend, I saw the preview for Disney’s next animated-cartoon film, Tangled. It’s the next in Disney’s line of princess films, this time based on the story of Rapunzel. There’s something refreshing about seeing Disney still doing what they do so well—the classic story of prince and princess—and yet, as I watched the latest preview, I couldn’t help but be turned off.
It seems like for any traditional story of prince and princess to fly these days, the princess has to outdo the prince. When’s the last time you’ve seen a princess saved by her prince? These days, she has to win the battle instead of him, or else, well, or else it will look like a patriarchal fairy-tale story that tells girls they’re dependent on men. Or so say many womens-studies departments.
So here we have the charming story of how Rapunzel meets her prince: She beats him up. I don’t know about you, but movies that take the manliness out of men (and the femininity out of females, for that matter) aren’t movies I’m terribly interested in.
And they say they were trying to attract boys to this movie–ha!
Today On the Square, Hadley Arkes gives us the breakdown of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, confirming the very concerns he foreshadowed in his June/July FT article, “Vast Dangers in a Small Place.”
And at the Religion Clause blog, you’ll find the breakdown of different advocacy-group responses to the case:
- Alliance Defense Fund
- American Center for Law & Justice
- American Jewish Committee
- Americans United for Separation of Church and State
- Baptist Joint Committee
- Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
- Christian Legal Society
- Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
- Hastings College of Law
- Interfaith Alliance
- Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations
Citizens Link suggests that the decision may have limited impact because few if any other schools have an “all-comers” rule for student groups. Most have a rule that bars discrimination on specified grounds, such as race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. The majority avoided passing on the constitutionality of this sort of rule. The Chronicle of Higher Education also reviews reactions to the decision.
We’ve heard the news that Sen. Byrd of West Virginia died early this morning at age 92. A news story notes that “Buildings, By-Ways and Bridge Carry Byrd’s Name.” As if to say: “Our Work Here is Done; No Memorializing Necessary.”
The city of New Haven has removed the words “in the year of our Lord” from all of its high-school diplomas this year, in a stroke that the city says will make the diplomas match all their other official public documents. School superintendent Reginald Mayo said: “I’m surprised it took this long for someone to notice it. We certainly don’t want to offend anyone.”
Via Religion Clause.
And now, to confirm their assessments on creepiness, comes Sanjay Gupta’s interview with Kevorkian on CCN. When asked, “Is medicine a noble profession?” Kevorkian’s final answer was “No, it is not.” Also from this interview: “The single worst moment of my life . . . was the moment I was born.” Okay. Hmm.
Kevorkian may consider his work a healing ministry–sure, if he considers the sickness to be life itself–but we should never make that mistake.
Thanks to all for making last week’s event with Michael Wyschogrod a success! We had quite an engaging discussion about Prof. Wyschogrod’s proposal in his recent article published in the May issue of FIRST THINGS: “A King in Israel.”
Keep reading FT Online to hear about more events like this, or send a note to email@example.com requesting we notify you of future FT events!
Only a direct quotation from the article could possibly explain:
Women in Saudi Arabia should give their breast milk to male colleagues and acquaintances in order to avoid breaking strict Islamic law forbidding mixing between the sexes, two powerful Saudi clerics have said. They are at odds, however, over precisely how the milk should be conveyed.
Here’s a Friday-evening post to start your weekend off right. This eight-month-old baby is deaf, but, with the help of a Cochlear implant, he can hear his mother’s voice for the first time. Amazing.
Ryan‘s onto something. Just walking around New York at lunchtime today I ran into two commercial signs of Earth-day cheer.
That’s right! Spend $125 and we’ll give you an eco-tote that probably cost 5 cents to produce!
Or, how about this, more in tune with the true meaning of Earth Day:
Sounds intriguing, but I think the thinking is: Eat this and it will set you back: put you back in the ground, you know, one with the Earth and all.
Be sure to check out Fr. Edward T. Oakes’ unique take on the sex-abuse scandal news coverage in today’s On the Square piece. A snippet:
I have long felt that we Catholics will know that this crisis has finally been put behind us, at least in the United States, when the bishops, in one of their collective annual meetings, passes a resolution actually thanking those newspapers who revealed the slime and filth lurking inside the presbyterate of too many dioceses and the attempted cover-ups by too many chanceries.
Please understand: I am not naive about the secular media. But if the Hebrew prophets could see the hand of God at work in the attacks on ancient Israel from the Assyrian empire, then Catholics ought to be able to espy the workings of divine providence when the media bring to light crimes that should have been made public from the beginning.
You might have seen the billboard for the new HBO movie on Jack Kevorkian. I did, this week, on the walk to work. It shows a close-up of Al Pacino, who plays Jack Kevorkian in the movie, with heavy glasses and a half grin on his face. The caption reads “Is This the Face of a Killer?”
My instant mental answer: Yes.
Seriously. Pacino may look like Kevorkian, but someone in publicity should have realized his face also, for many, instantly brings to mind his very-much-a-killer roles as the Devil in The Devil’s Advocate or the man who killed his brother and many others in The Godfather series. My simple search for the HBO billboard shot reveals that I’m not the only one who thinks Yes, Very Creepy Killer after glancing at this billboard.
So, in a way, HBO has done an impeccable job of advertising what the movie’s about.
The Mardi Gras season in New Orleans starts weeks in advance of today’s actual celebration, and is traditionally known as a time for people to celebrate excess in the days leading up to Lent—forty days of fasting.
In some ways, though, Mardi Gras has become a celebration of vice before forty days of, well, supposed virtue. It’s one of those fun curiosities about the culturally Christian world: People eat and drink gluttonously as a sort of religious observance.
One of the ways vice is simultaneously vilified and celebrated is on the floats that parade through New Orleans, filled with masked people who throw beads and toys to the passersby. In one parade this year, spectators enjoy a hilarious twenty-float lineup of what one might call winners of the Greatest Vices of the Year: Senator Edwards, Senator Vitter, and Governor Sanford are spotlighted on a lust-themed float as “Politicians Gone Wild!”; New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin is painted “asleep at the wheel,” accused of negligence and bad time management on a sloth-themed float; and Bernard Madoff appears on a pyramid as “Pharaoh Made-off” on a greed-themed float that describes him as “the modern-day Judas who was traitor to his own tribe for only 20 million pieces of silver.”
Among these scandalous float figures is President Barack Obama.
On a pride-themed float called “Experiment of His Own Power,” Obama is compared to “The Proud One” of Dante’s Inferno, posing with his Nobel Peace Prize medal, next to several other representations of him—along with Oscar and Heisman Trophy awards, he appears as a five-star general, president of General Motors, and as the “healthcare-expert” Surgeon General—all engulfed by the flames of hell.
Is this the rant of a few comic float-makers, or is it a sign of a graver discontent Obama faces from the American people? For many, it’s looking grim: The effect his leadership has had on Katrina recovery-efforts, for instance, is at least as questionable as the promised improvements in foreign policy and economic stimulus.
The final float of the “not-so-divine comedy” features “Paradisio”—a montage of what, for New Orleanians, would happen when “hell freezes over”—what seems perfect and far from reality. “Lowest Crime Rate in the Nation!” it boasts. “Category-Five Flood Protection!” it decries. “Streets 100 Percent Repaired!” And among these messages it reads “Superbowl Champs”—a prediction the float-makers couldn’t have known would be accurate when they labored over the designs months before.
Indeed, all is not lost. There are small blessings that accompany us on these trials of earthly life, and this one’s for New Orleans.
What this church leaves ambiguous on the exterior it makes clear once one enters. The visitor is transported from the gray outdoors to a colorful space inhabited by a dozen statues of Mary and other saints; these were donated by Italian parishioners when the church was built, in the early twentieth century, when Fr. Antonio Demo was pastor. The parish was founded in 1892, in a chapel on Waverly Place run by the Missionaries of St. Charles. The congregation moved to Sullivan and, later, Bleecker Street before finding a home in its current church, with its adjoining school, convent, and rectory.
About eighty parishioners, varied in age and dress, sat scattered in the pews for the 12:15 Mass on Sunday, February 7. This is the most popular Mass in English at Our Lady of Pompeii. Although originally an Italian parish, today this congregation is quite diverse: A Mass in Italian was celebrated immediately before this one, and Brazilian and Filipino Masses were to follow, one after another, during the afternoon.
A slowly sung “Holy, Holy, Holy” welcomed the celebrant, Fr. Romy Montero, to the altar. It may have been sung too slowly, perhaps, but the words resonated when we heard the first reading, from Chapter 6 of Isaiah, in which seraphim are stationed above the throne of the Lord, and “one called to another and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” As it happens, the tabernacle at Our Lady of Pompeii is centered behind the altar, with one sculpted angel at each side and two more above.
The reading from Isaiah continued: “And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’” One of the seraphim flies to Isaiah and touches his mouth with an ember: “behold,” the angel tells him, “your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.” And then: “I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’”
The scriptural message on this Sunday focused on this very image: the unworthy person going forth, despite his unworthiness, to serve God—to stand up and follow his call. The message, first expressed by Isaiah, echoed in the reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians and in the passage from the Gospel of St. Luke, in which Jesus calls Simon, James, and John to be his disciples. Unfortunately, this beautiful message was hardly audible: The speakers in the church sounded as though they were unearthed in Pompeii itself.
Check out FT senior editor David P. Goldman discussing the tough state of the U.S. economy on yesterday’s Kudlow Report:
You are cordially invited to the twenty-third annual
Joseph Straus Professor of Law and European Union Jean Monnet Chair
New York University School of Law
The Trial of Jesus
6:30 p.m., Sunday, March 7, 2010
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
(East 68th Street Between Park and Lexington Avenues)
Sponsored by First Things.
For free ticket(s) (please indicate one or two), write:
First Things, 35 East 21st Street, Sixth Floor
New York, NY 10010
or email your RSVP to
As the Christmas season has come to a close, here, for your reading pleasure and reflection, is Michael Novak’s lovely Christmas verse for his late wife, Karen Laub-Novak:
ON CHRISTMAS, FOR KAREN
December 25, 2009
Full of grace!
Full of grace.
Full of grace . . . !
Mother, who this day
brought us Our Love
and our Redeemer
Take into your care a mother like yourself,
Our much loved, so-loved Karen.
Honor her for her self-sacrifice
Who gave her life for us
And especially for me
She gave up too much art
So dear to her for mine
She did not count on dying first
But left so much she longed to do unfinished.
Please embrace her and comfort her
And speak to her with love
Remind her of her words of you
As she watched “The Passion,”
Scrubbing harder with her tears
The dearest blood of your dear Son.
And how she loved your “Magnificat.”
Please, Good Lady, Mother,
Speak to her with tender love
As for ages you have been known to do,
Take her by the hand to those she loves,
John Paul the Second, Father Richard,
Irving, Bill, Clare, Avery and Eunice,
And, God willing that he’s there,
Oskar Kokoschka, who called her
“My little darling Karen,” and singled out
Her talent and her promise for all to hear.
Take her, too, to all the others whom she loved.
Sts. Thomas, Teresa, John o’ the Cross,
And John of the Apocalypse,
T.S. Eliot, Rilke, Dostoevsky,
And all of those with whom she long communed.
Take her around, dear Mother, honor
If Heaven is a conversation, dearest Hostess,
Take her kindly where she will be happiest –
For her, that is, where she can learn the most.
Shepherd her, protect her,
But do not think she is too shy–
Give her your smile and let her go her way.
Also, please remember FT in your holiday giving to support the printing of novel ideas like those of Mary Eberstadt–in the new year and beyond; we are ever grateful.