Montag, 29. November 2010


Wow. Bush really is trying to inflict as much damage as he possibly can before he loses power. Lucky us.

The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as "demeaning to women."

... "A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness," the group's Web site says.

They have every right to hold that opinion and work to advance it through their own organization, but why is someone who views sexuality that way being put in charge of my sexual health without any input from me?

"God Hates Americans!"

Ha ha ha.

In unrelated news, here's an International Herald Tribune article about the importance of Catholic-Anglican cooperation in the face of Christianity's decline in the West -- and major problems inside both denominations. It's written by a Jesuit priest (no big surprise there) and raises some good points.

Pope Benedict and Archbishop Williams have their work cut out for them as they face a common enemy - secularism and the disappearance of the Christian faith in the West. By the year 2020, we're told that 80 percent of all Christians will be people of color who live in the southern hempisphere. The average Christian in the world today is poor, often living as a minority in a non-Christian country.

Yes, our theological differences remain, but what we can do together we must do together.


A conditional "Yahoo!"

Will Pope Benedict choose the lesser of two "evils"?

The Roman Catholic church has taken the first step towards what could be a historic shift away from its total ban on the use of condoms.

Pope Benedict XVI's "health minister" is understood to be urging him to accept that in restricted circumstances - specifically the prevention of Aids - barrier contraception is the lesser of two evils.

The recommendations, which have not been made public, still have to be reviewed by the traditionally conservative Vatican department responsible for safeguarding theological orthodoxy, and then by the Pope himself, before any decision is made.

The rethink, commissioned by Pope Benedict following his election last year, could save millions of lives around the world.

Holding my breath over here...

St. Bono

Read his speech to the National Prayer Breakfast. Some excerpts:

Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.

Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone.

I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill. I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff. Maybe, maybe not. But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. "If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places."

It's not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. (You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.) 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me' (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor.

...A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it…. I have a family, please look after them…. I have this crazy idea...

And this wise man said: stop.

He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.

Get involved in what God is doing - because it's already blessed.

Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing.

And that is what he's calling us to do.

I nominate Bono for sainthood, leather pants and all. We need a saint with leather pants.

Godspeed, Betty

Betty Friedan died today.

Friedan's assertion in her 1963 best seller that having a husband and babies was not everything and that women should aspire to separate identities as individuals, was highly unusual, if not revolutionary, just after the baby and suburban booms of the Eisenhower era.

The feminine mystique, she said, was a phony bill of goods society sold to women that left them unfulfilled, suffering from "the problem that has no name" and seeking a solution in tranquilizers and psychoanalysis.

"A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, 'Who am I, and what do I want out of life?' She mustn't feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of husband and children," Friedan said.

... As the first president of NOW in 1966, she staked out positions that seemed extreme at the time on such issues as abortion, sex-neutral help-wanted ads, equal pay, promotion opportunities and maternity leave.

But at the same time, Friedan insisted that the women's movement had to remain in the American mainstream, that men had to be accepted as allies and that the family should not be rejected.

I'm trying to think of a fitting tribute. It would be fun to burn a dish towel in her honor, but I have a feeling she would prefer that I and other women pursue our goals and dreams, whatever they might be -- and whether or not a husband, children and a house in the suburbs are part of them.

Rest in peace, Betty.

Unwrapping our gifts

I cantored at my Catholic church today. (Yes, I'm still two-timing.) It's been eight months since I stopped taking voice lessons, I've been out of choir for a year and a half, and I hardly ever sing anymore except when I'm cantoring (every three weeks or so). Not surprisingly, my range has lessened; I can't hit a high G with confidence or ease, even after I've warmed up for half an hour. The lower notes, too, are less confident. I don't hit them quite as precisely as I did a year ago. Nobody notices (it's a very small difference), but I notice, and it annoys and saddens me at the same time.

Worst of all, though -- because I never had this problem before -- is that I lose my place in the music, sometimes twice in one Mass. It's embarrassing because it's noticeable, and it's shameful because I know I should be better than that. Humility is a good thing, but humiliation makes me want to give up. (Hey, it doesn't take much these days.)

And then there's that nagging feeling deep down inside that I'm burying this wonderful, beautiful, joyful gift God gave me. He gave it to me in order that I might use it to glorify Him and edify His people. It's on me to pursue ways to make it flourish and reach my potential as a vocalist. Voice lessons may be out of the question for the moment (I can't fit them into my day -- why don't they make days 25 hours long? That would work), but nothing prevents me from practicing what I learned. I could do better. I could offer God more than I am. But I'm not.

How many other gifts am I casting aside? Which ones am I "too tired" or "too busy" to use in His service? I have to cut myself a little slack because of medical issues and work, but the responsibility ultimately lies with me -- with my choices. I need to make different ones. That's what love is: acting, not just saying or thinking. Maybe part of my current spiritual malaise can be attributed to that. Choosing to honor God with what I can give Him will strengthen my relationship with Him.

... I hope.

(Sorry for the silence lately. Work has been pretty hellish. Posts may be sporadic for a while.)

Quick updateupdate

In case you missed it, here is a place to which I will not be moving. And I'm sure they're just as happy about that as I am.

In other news, apparently parents can't be bothered to supervise their kids' television viewing:

The cable-television industry's plans to offer packages of family-oriented programs don't give viewers enough control over channels they consider indecent, Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said yesterday.

He told reporters afterward he has pressed cable companies to offer a la carte programming or make their family-oriented packages "more robust."

He said that if cable companies don't offer channels a la carte, they should adopt a decency code that matches the standards of over-the-air broadcasters including CBS Corp. and News Corp.'s Fox network.

First: Oh, please. Fox's decency code? Have they ever seen "Arrested Development"? (Well, OK, maybe that's why it got canceled. But I've never seen any other show manage to cross the line so often without technically crossing it. Fabulous. I really hope Showtime does pick it up.) Second, WTF? It sounds like Martin wants the cable industry to offer what Ned Flanders got: 600 channels with 599 of them blocked out (all but the Christian channel).

You know, kids, there's an alternative: TURN OFF THE DAMN TV.