Monday, September 30, 2002

Dale: Talk about inevitable.

In more bittersweet news, a spectacular column in the USA Today about now-retired Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell. Sums it up perfectly for me.
Dale: I truly want to update our links page, but alas Blogger refuses to grant my boon. I've entered the Error 503 wilderness and cannot escape. The service department hasn't responded to my e-mail, either.

It's free, it's free...
Dale: Lunch Blog.

James Lileks is on, as usual, taking on the cult of celebrity surrounding the Cuban dictator. Not to mention aiding in the continuing deflation of Jesse Ventura as a public figure. Favorite line:

"Our governor had a meeting with Castro. And what did they discuss? The Kennedy assassination. Ventura is one of those people who believes that JFK-assassination speculation is the mark of a serious freethinker. (It's Scholasticism for the 60s generation. How many hitmen can dance on the head of the grassy knoll?)"

Share and enjoy.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Dale: Somewhere, right now, Tim LaHaye's so excited only dogs can hear him.

I mean, it has to be a sign of the Apocalypse, right? There's no way this could happen without it being a portent of the End. Un-believable.

Believe it or not, The Matrix explains Lion fandom. As the article indicates, it's been forever since the Lions have won a championship (45 years now--longer than the wandering of the Hebrews, thank you). It's been about that long since they've had a quarterback worth mentioning. We've been waiting so long for The One--the promised quarterback, the pigskin Joshua who will lead the Lion Nation to the Super Bowl--that we don't believe it will happen, even as we fervently wish otherwise. Consequently, the skepticism of the Nebuchadnezzar's crew towards Neo makes a lot of sense to a Lions fan. We're an army of Cyphers, saying "there's no way he can be The One."

We've been fed pretender after pretender, occasionally good, more often competent but flawed, even more often mediocre, and not infrequently godawful. Here's some of the starters I can remember off the top of my head during my purgatorial fandom: Greg Landry, Gary Danielson, Jeff Komlo (yeesh), Eric Hipple, Chuck Long, Rusty Hilger, Todd Hons (OK, the replacement QB, but I still remember him), Bob Gagliano, Rodney Peete, Erik Kramer, Andre Ware (make the hurting stop), Scott Mitchell (aieeee!), Charlie Batch (I always liked him, which puts me in the minority), Stoney Case, Ty Detmer, Mike McMahon and now, Joey Harrington. What do all of these gentlemen have in common? None of them are in Canton. Barring Kurt Warner-like transformations, none of the youngest three (Batch, McMahon, Harrington) will be. Except there's something about the last guy...

Is Harrington The One? It's only one victory, I know, but he's showing signs that he just might be: confidence, guts, smarts and a big league arm. Nothing seems to shake the former Oregon Duck. Maybe Morpheus is right about this guy...

Remember, Joey: "There is no spoon."

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Dale: Perhaps the most depressing story I've read in a while--a new church being built in Cincinnati.

The problem is not that it's ugly. Far from it--the sketch indicates it will be a beauty. And, for once, the people in charge seem to get it--an emphasis on the "vertical" aspect of worship, as opposed to the "celebration of us" garbage that's on the ascendant today. Tradition, beauty, reverence--the whole package. None of the sterile Voskoid obliteration of the past here. No barren "worship spaces" that Baptists find spartan. None of the dread "spirit of Vatican II" invocations that inevitably lead to a belief that the Church was founded in 1965. No sir.

Of course not--they're sedevacantists.

Help me with this one: why is it that the sedevacantists get "sermons in stone" and Catholics get "Cromwell in concrete"?

Dale: Busy week.

I've been working on filing an answer to a summary judgment motion in an age discrimination case. Actually, it's my second such motion response over the past three weeks (different cases, different judges, even different time zones--seriously).

Translating from Lawyer, summary judgment motions essentially ask the Court to dismiss the case because there isn't sufficient evidence produced by the other side to merit submitting the case to the jury. In other words, if you submitted the opponent's case to the jury, a reasonable jury would have no other choice than to reject the opponent's case. SJ motions are the last major step before trial. If you are a plaintiff and survive the defendant's motion, serious settlement offers tend to follow quickly.

Because of their obvious importance, the motions and responses are long in the preparation and review. You don't want to miss an important fact. Especially with a judge who tends to be skeptical of plaintiffs' employment cases. It doesn't make him a bad judge, just a tough one to practice in front of--dot your "i"s and cross your "t"s.

Anyway, it meant a couple of long shifts at the legal factory this week. Thursday was the longest, and I walked out to my car in the middle of the evening. I work in Detroit, which has a deserved, but often wildly exaggerated, reputation for crime. The area I work in isn't all that bad, being entirely commercial (with the exception of a couple of bar and grill restaurants). I can see the new Comerica Park and Ford Field from there, and it's an easy walk to both. I walked up to the third floor where the mirthmobile (a/k/a a 1995 Buick Skylark) was parked, and discovered that someone really wanted the shortwave radio sitting on the floor of the passenger side. Enough to shatter a window into a couple of thousand pieces. Of course, it was the wrong window--I'm having trouble with the driver's side....The radio was somewhat expensive, but he may be disappointed with the performance. It was rained on a few months ago, and I think only the AM/FM part works now. Happy pawning, old chap.

I went downstairs to find the security guard (one of two for a four story garage run by the City of Detroit) already at work on the incident report. He saw the mess on his patrol. He was friendly and sympathetic, but the only solution he could offer was advice--park on the first floor, where there's better coverage (at least they can hear glass shatter on the ground floor). He promised to give me a copy of the report Friday morning (which he did). When I gave him my address, he asked if I saw ever saw Eminem. I told him no, Eminem lives in the north part of the city and I live in the south, although I occasionally drove past his house. Now that I think about it, I believe he moved out of town since his divorce (hey, he's the East Side's only internationally known celebrity, so you hear about him whether you want to or not). After the report was complete, I enjoyed the breezy ride home. Thanks to an insurance miracle (no deductible for window damage), I now have a new window and an all-weather vehicle.

I have managed to keep up with things at St. Blog's during the week, though. Do I have an opinion on the Gerard Serafin imbroglio? Sure do!

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Dale: What goes around, comes around.
I'll let the stories speak for themselves. Read them in order. It makes more sense that way.

Links courtesy of Opinion Journal.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Dale: It's not my church anymore, so I suppose I can't be too upset: Alma UMC removed the altar rails in the main part of the Church. They did so to extend the elevated altar/lectern stage, and to move the choir. Thumbs down, Roger--I remember kneeling there after taking the Lord's Supper. Yes, some Methodists do that. They even believe it imparts grace. But at least they haven't tinkered with the stained glass, nor did they remove the handcarved wood flanking the high altar. Not nearly as ornate as the examples at that link, but it's still beautiful. The wedding was well done, if comparatively short (my dad approved--full-blown Catholic weddings, complete with a Mass, are not his speed).

But Maddie, being a full-blown supporter of the Charismatic Renewal, got bored and loud. Daddy decided to hustle her out before she drowned out all of the words of the vows. I took her on a tour of the church of my youth, pointing out the various rooms. Then I remembered my favorite part of the building, and hoped it was still there. I walked upstairs, and managed to find the chapel. It was still there, stained glass and all. I opened the doors and found it lit mostly by the sunlight streaming in through the glass, with a peaceful silence pervading throughout. The chapel still has the rails, and a detail that had never registered before: one of the three panels of glass over the altar depicts the Eucharist, in what struck me as a decidedly Catholic version: a circular wafer hovering over a cup. Curioser and curiouser.

I trundled a somewhat quieter Maddie downstairs to see my parents, who were watching my oldest nephew, Aubrey. They agreed to take on another grandchild as I showed Heather the chapel and rest of the church.

We attended the reception, but Maddie ensured that we left early. It was probably just as well, as the three of us were all exhausted by this point.

Sunday Mass was filled with a pleasant surprise: a superb homily by Bp. Untener, bringing out the graciousness of the Gospel passage for the week. Very well done--if I rack him when he's wrong, I must praise him when he's right. The installation of Fr. Hammond was well-received by the parish, which filled St. Mary's to overflowing on Sunday. For the first time in seven months, Maddie slept through most of the Mass, instead of offering her usual glosses on the liturgy. It meant that she would spend more of the van ride home awake, but there's always trade offs...

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Dale: We're back in my hometown of Alma today. We are attending the wedding of one of my cousins this afternoon. I'm looking forward to it, not least because of the fact that we are going to the Church. It's a beautiful building whose interior dates from the early twentieth century. It has magnificent altar rails, a peaked roof supported by varnished beams, and fantastic, recently-restored thematic stained glass. My favorite scene depicts Peter being crucified upside down. It is, hands down, the most beautiful Church in this overwhelmingly Protestant section of rural central Michigan. Sure, it does not have kneelers, but I am inclined to forgive on this point.

It is, after all, a Methodist church.

Tomorrow, we'll be going to Mass here. There's no stained glass, and there aren't any altar rails, either. On the, uh, "bright" side, the two churches share a lack of kneelers. But at least the tabernacle is in plain sight for once, just to the right of the altar.

On the real bright side, St. Mary's is finally getting a new priest (the last one was removed by Bishop Untener because he had a case of child sexual abuse in his background). The abuse lasted three years. Bp. Untener was aware of this, but hired the priest anyway and in 1999 assigned him to the parish. Knowing full well St. Mary's has a grade school... The good news is there were no incidents during the priest's three years at the parish.

When the abuse record came to light, the faithful were naturally very upset. They even held a protest meeting at the local high school, which the previous victim, now an adult, attended (he did not speak). Bp. Untener removed the priest, but not before griping about the protesting members of his flock.

I will not be subscribing to Ken!, the Official Newsletter of the Bishop Untener Fan Club, anytime soon.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Dale: Radioactive Freighter Update. It was supposedly just a container of clay tiles. Here's a New Jersey newspaper's report.

I'm not big on conspiracy theories, but I don't buy this account. Not when the ship comes out of Hamburg, the city where 9/11 was planned, with stops in Pakistan and other interesting locations in the Middle East, for good measure. Not when it's scheduled to arrive in NY on the anniversary of 9/11. Not when the Seals are dispatched to do an "inspection" of their own. Not when the ship was moved twice. It doesn't ring true to me.
Dale: Yet another story on the anti-Saddam demonstration, from Detroit's NBC station. The numbers are reported as much, much larger. Which makes the newspaper blackout even more peculiar.

Link via Instapundit.

Thursday, September 19, 2002


Interesting local story:

Area Iraqis demonstrate in favor of the removal of Saddam Hussein.

For those of you who may not know, Metro Detroit has the largest Iraqi population outside of the Middle East, most of it Catholic (Chaldeans). Heather saw the story live last night. Apparently, they plan to go to Washington D.C., too. Oddly, there's nothing about the demonstration in either one of the Detroit papers.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Heather: I'll start out light and get heavier. On the light note...
I realized something today. Growing up my mother would put my hair in a ponytail. Virtually every day until I was 13 1/2, when I rebelled. From then on I pretty much wore it down, as it was easier to show off and more fun. All through high school and college, it ws clean and combed (in the morning) and, as long as it pretty much stayed out of my face, we had a live and let live relationship.
Now? Well, we'll just say it's astonishing how much Mom has learned in the past year or so. A vast and varied collection of scrunchies testifies to this. How do I wear my hair now? In a ponytail, virtually every day. Sigh....

The heavier note.
Just about everyone reading this knows Dale and I anticipate our second child in March. Maddie will be 18 months old then, which is quite close in today's day and age. We got Maddie the first month of trying and #2 by surprise, so we have had no trouble with conceiving. My mother's five granchildren (I count the Price to be named later) were all conceived with a total of one month of missing. My dad was the oldest of 10, Mom #4 of 5... Infertility is not in the genes.
Which brings me to my point.
Kathy, former neighbor and her husband Mike, no kids. Brother's friends Mike and Sherry, and Russ and Kathy, still trying? Coworker Kristin and Ian, who tried for about 6 months before success (she's due in October). Coworker Terri and her husband who had to use Clomid to get the healthy Katie, born this past spring. JoAnn and her husband, trying as of this spring and still no luck. Helen at church and her husband, 51 years of trying.
How many couples is that? I can only imagine the pain, disappointment, anger... Who are we, that God has decided to gift us with angels in our home? That we can see and hug and laugh with? Who are we to question the when and how?
I realize there are children born into this world loved only by God. I think, though, the pain of NOT having them when you want them is worse than having them and not wanting them.
I put my faith in God that He knows what He's doing giving us another child so soon (and pray thankfully for such an easy pregnancy, so far), but it's tougher for me to say He knows what He's doing when children don't come to others nearly as easily. If at all.

Like I said, a bit of a heavier note. God knows what He's doing, and hopefully someday I'll have the chance to ask Him to explain.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Dale: The bratwurst is ready!
Dale: I've been watching the Bob Sungenis Death Spiral for the past two months in astonishment. I own two books either written or edited by him, "Not By Faith Alone" and "Not By Scripture Alone." The former is decent, but the latter is (and will remain) indispensible. There's nothing in either of these two books that's problematic--most definitely not on the scale of the last two months, with the geocentrism and Jewish issues.

The geocentrism flap, while striking, is ultimately not a real problem. Imprudent and unsustainable, but if he wants to die on that hill, so be it. Fortunately, that issue died down and CAI moved on to other topics. Unfortunately, one of the other topics was the singularly awful "Reflections" paper, which I will not rehash here. Suffice it to say, I squeezed my spleen dry and poured it on the document before going on to newer outrages. But in so doing, I didn't even touch the Jewish section, which is beyond my limited competence.

Mr. Sungenis leapt into the fray, and produced a decent rebuttal to the Catholic section. Had he stopped there, no problem. But he decided to assault the Jewish reflections as well. The document has since been modified somewhat, but here's the current form, and here's an answer to a critic, complete with a litigation threat. For further background, here are the criticisms of John Betts (scroll down for the 9/15-16 posts--his blog doesn't have archive links) and Bill Cork (look for 9/12-16--too many posts to link to).

I was shocked by Sungenis' writings, but one of the shocks was its familiarity: I've seen the exact same style, tone and citation approach before. Unfortunately, the writings are by certified Catholic bashers like Bill Jackson, Bart Brewer and irony of ironies, Mike Scheifler. It's the same prooftexting used against Catholics--how many times have you had quotes from The Glories of Mary ("See--they exalt her above Christ!") or obscure papal encyclicals ("Catholics think the Pope is God!") tossed at you? There's even the beloved decades-old newspaper article cited as Magisterial Proof angle ("The January 23, 1917 issue of 'Our Sunday Visitor' had an article demonstrating that the Pope has a ring with '666' on it which he wears while re-sacrificing Christ in the Mass and selling annulments. QED. So there.") There's the same protestations of love ("It's because I love Catholics that I speak out against their Satanic religion--come out of the Whore!"). And there's even the suggested depravity of a religion which bears no relation to reality (the alleged Talmud citations allowing sex with children--Confessions of Maria Monk, anyone?). Oh, sure--you see Rabbis advocating that all the time... Then there are the global theories reminiscent of Avro Manhattan and Jack Chick, but see John Betts for more on that. Here's a picture that may help rebut the notion that the Church is Israel's useful idiot.

I only have one question. I'm not the only one to have run into this type of anti-Catholic hate before, and it's certain that someone at CAI has stumbled into similar attacks. Didn't anyone notice the similarities?
Dale: Don't know why our links went on the fritz, they just did.
Can't access the *$%@ template, either. If you have any helpful suggestions, please let me know.

"Hey, it's Blogger!" doesn't count, even though I'm tempted to agree...

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Dale: Greaaat sports weekend here in Michigan.

1. "Hi, my name is Dale, and I'm a Detroit Lions fan."

"Hi, Dale!"

2. Don't talk to me.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Dale: The most disturbing terrorism news of the year, and it's still ongoing. The Radioactive Freighter.

A freighter from Hamburg (the city where the Al Qaeda cell that planned 9/11 was based) has been stopped before it entered NYC, boarded, and moved 12 miles outside of the city harbor.

Who boarded it? Just some Navy Seals and a NEST team. Read on, and wonder about the news blackout.

Here are the links:


Rod Dreher at NRO's Corner.

Asparagirl, with an assortment of valuable links, and difficult questions.

Rod Dreher again. Methinks Rod's sounded the "all clear" much too early, though. Especially given the fact they've moved the ship further out now, and the fact we really don't have a clue as to what the initial radiation readings were. That, and the irrefutable proverb of our times: the first casualty of war is the truth.

If you needed any further evidence that we're living in a radically changed world, here it is.

This is a good letter, for the most part. There has been a vitriolic reaction to the bishops and their leadership for the better part of the year. Some of it no doubt crosses the line (mea culpa). Even I'm getting tired of talking, albeit for different reasons. More on that below. However, it misses a vital point: the reason there has been a nonstop "bitch fest, an endless loop" is because nothing has been done to satisfy the craving for justice. Yes, justice, not self-righteous posturing. An honorable few recognize this (e.g., Bishop Wilton Gregory), but the fact is the bishops have shown that they are not accountable to anyone on this earth for the scandal, nor have they suffered any consequences. Because of this, every new outrage that comes to light (qualified non-apologies, the Reflections document, Abp. Weakland's $450K payoff, Cardinal Mahony's apparently mendacious posturing, blaming America and ignoring the victims on 9/11, etc.) is another fistful of salt in an unhealed wound. No wonder there's so much shouting--it hurts.

But that in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, even if the language is regrettable. At least it shows that those doing the shouting still care about the Church. Be worried when the voices grow colder, quieter, and finally still. It's a bad sign for rescuers searching for people trapped in rubble, and its a bad sign for the Church. Rest assured, many voices have grown still, and they have gone off in search of new homes.

As I said earlier, I'm tired of talking about it. People on my side of the aisle have to face this fact: nothing--nothing--is going to happen to the bishops responsible--not because of the scandal, not for the mendacity, not for the bizarre theological novelties. Some have tried to counsel a wait and see approach, but this is whistling past the graveyard. There's no precedent for removal or even discipline in these cases. Sure, there may be--perhaps--a quickly-accepted resignation or two at the mandatory retirement age, but removal? Nope. Not even a rebuke. Go ahead--check back in a thousand years...

None of our shouting is going to make an iota of difference. Look--nine months of near-rebellion in Boston has resulted in what? Zilch.

It's pointless to argue about it any longer. Time to hunker down, put our heads to the storm, pray, and hope for the best, whatever that may be.
Dale: A little background on my spleen venting of yesterday, from Mark Shea's comment box:

"Another day, another moral outrage. I've basically become numb to the actions of our shepherds, which can't be a good thing.

If memory serves (and it may not), this is the same diocese where a priest who did time for possession of child pornography has his own parish. To the credit (I guess) of all concerned, the priest makes all and sundry aware of this gruesome fact, but it's still unnerving.

As I write this, I hear a co-worker's radio, which is broadcasting an excerpt from one of last year's many funerals for the FDNY's heroes. The Bishop may remember: one of the 300 plus for those who were turned to ash by the "wake up call," one of whom was his brother in the priesthood, Fr. Mychal Judge. A pipe band is playing Amazing Grace. Yes, it saves a wretch like me. It also saves those with wretched thoughts like Bishop Gettelfinger. My dad is a retired fireman, so it's taking everything I have to not load up with double-aught buckshot and keep blasting away at this example of moral idiocy.

After painting this bullseye on myself, I await, with sad exhaustion, commentary about how it is unCatholic to criticize them, the dangers of detraction and, of course, the perils of media bias.

Dale Price"

There you have it. For those of you who think I went too far, well--let's just say yesterday was the wrong day for me to read such sentiments.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Dale: I've got an idea: How about a vow of silence?

It would certainly be better than this crap (material courtesy of Mark Shea). Blame America first: It's something the Sixties People (TM) do. BTW, why haven't you all retired yet?

It's a typically rancid stew of moral equivalence and liberation theology, courtesy of Evansville Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger, a man who keeps a convicted possessor of hardcore child pornography on the diocesan payroll. As a priest.

Here it is, just in time for the anniversary of 9/11. Here it is, annotated:

"September 11, 2002: A year later

I worry!

Bad pork? Alas, it is not that simple or happily resolved. Unfortunately, the Rt. Rev. needs Moral Maalox.

Have those in our hall of government moved beyond frontier justice?

Nope. Why, just last night I saw a story of how "Doc" Ashcroft gunned down a terrorist suspect with his Colt Peacemaker, all by his lonesome. Just to watch him die.

Has there been a conversion of heart not to repeat the subjugation of “less powerful” to “reservations” under its authority?

Huh? Translation?

Lest you forget, note what the United States and Canada did to native Americans by condemning them to harsh conditions on designated “Reservations” after wresting the land from them.

Train to Tangent City, now boarding. What the hell does that have to do with anything, except as a cheap ploy to make his largely white flock feel guilty? I would note that the odds the Bishop stuck a "for sale" sign on the Evansville chancery, and has contacted the local Indian casino seeking potential buyers, are astronomical indeed.

Have we learned anything from the apparent motives of those who used our own technology, arrogance, power, energy and smugness against us in the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Sure have! For one, they are evil beyond description. Two, they aren't immune to bullets or daisy cutters. Three, they ain't basically bright, when you get right down to it. Can you say "miscalculation"?

Let us never forget that those who terrorized us were committed to the mission of “getting our attention.” They died for their cause—just to get our attention!

Actually, they were committed to the mission of killing as many of us as possible. Including a 2 year old girl going to Disneyland with her mom and dad, you gasbag. They died for the cause of imposing a totalitarian Islamofascist state, a revival of the Caliphate. They got our attention, all right. A year later, thousands of them are dead or imprisoned, and the rest are running for their lives. They've learned to be careful what you wish for.

The message from the oppressed has been very clear.

"Oppressed." Dr. Evil voice: "Riiiiight." Led by a multimillionaire, and the privileged and educated of several Arab nations. And non-Arab regions, such as decidedly unoppressed Marin County, California. But, the message from these folks has been clear. Message: "Aiiiieee! The infidel Americans are attacking agai---BOOM!"

Power to trammel on the rights and to take advantage of impoverished needs of its citizens under the guise of “national security” (translated into financial benefit) does not exonerate the United States, nor any other nation bent on the same course, from accusations of oppression.

This is so bloated with pseudomoral flatulence that its hard to decode exactly what the Bp. is trying to say here. Is he talking about the war? GATT? Bad ham? Boiled down, here's the message, with a rolled up newspaper: "Bad America! Bad! Bad! Bad!" Got it.

Must we Americans continue to be blind?

Sure! As long as I don't have to listen to the Music of the Sixties People (TM).

Must we continue to be deaf?

Great! No Sixties People Music!

Have we forgotten the haunting ballads of the late 1960’s?

Oh, s--t. Sigh. Which haunting ballad would that be? "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" Or maybe "Happiness is a Warm Gun"?

How many more must die?

As many as Doc wants ta gun down, hombre...

Our president and his colleagues must learn to listen to those who counsel him from nations and territories beyond our borders. So must we!

Like, maybe Bashar Assad? Ayatollah Khamenei, or whoever poor captive Iran's head mullah is? Assorted (sordid?) heads of state from the Amalgamated Union of Appeasers and Jew-Haters (a/k/a "Europe")? Or maybe he means the Kurd Gasser?

Terrorism is terrorism under any title. “National Security” seems to be just another title for the same."

Well, of course it is. When you're morally bankrupt, sure. Here's three moral landmarks for you, next time you get the itch to rub salt in the wounds of a still angry, grieving nation: First, men who hijack planes full of innocent passengers and turn those planes into flying bombs for the purposes of killing thousands more innocent people are EVIL. Second, the nations that sponsor and harbor such men are also EVIL. Third, fighting these first two is NOT evil.

And please don't identify yourself as a Catholic bishop. If you keep it up, lawyers are going to be held in greater moral esteem than the leaders of the Church in America. Hell, maybe even pimps.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

Dale: We celebrated Maddie's birthday yesterday. My mom and dad came down early as did Heather's mom, and were, as always, Godsends in helping us get organized and ready. Our backyard is, due to southeast Michigan's drought conditions, dead. Only the hardier breeds of crabgrass and other weeds are surviving, and they aren't exactly thriving. Strangely enough, the front and side yards aren't doing so badly. Another pleasant feature of our backyard is that we own The World's Stupidest Dog (TM), whose two talents appear to be (1) barking at invisible evil, and (2) leaving poop mines in the backyard.

Guess who got to go a-collectin' in the desert backyard yesterday? Mom and Dad arrived as I was in the middle of the Poop Patrol, and Mom jokingly referred to it as a substitute for an Easter egg hunt. Well, I won...

Dad drove off to the dollar store, and picked up two sprinklers to help cure the dead yard. After two days of evening soaks, it seems to be helping a little. The moms helped put up the Veggie Tales streamers on the chain link fence, and put the balloons up, too.

It got much hotter than I expected, and most of our guests (close friends and family) decided to camp out inside with the AC. While crowded, it wasn't so bad. I also had the honor of grilling, which, frankly, I love. I figured that since we were feeding over a dozen people, I'd better have a serious bed of coals ready. I sure did. Along with a thorough soaking from the lighter fluid. Apply lit match...


"Now that's a fire!" Some singed hair, but that was pretty much the only injury. The real injury was to the first batch of brats, burgers and hot dogs: Coal black in a matter of moments. Memo to file: sometimes less is more, especially with charcoal briquets. The food cooked better after the first serving: slower, more fun, and tastier.

Maddie seemed to have a very good time, especially playing with her cousins. She spent a little time in the wading pool, and less eating: too many interesting people to interact with. She passed on our efforts to feed her her cake, and was only briefly interested in the presents, most of which make noise. I've put several people on notice that they can expect drums and chemistry sets for their kids in the future. Actually, they were all very nice, and involve classical music or spelling. But I think the thing Maddie liked best were her two helium mylar balloons, both decorated with teddy bears that say "It's the Big 1!" She's still grabbing the strings and dragging them around with her wherever she goes.

Yes, she's walking a lot more now. Heather and I have a game where we sit or crouch on the floor, and one of us puts Maddie facing the other, who coaxes her to walk over. She takes a few steps, and we cheer and applaud wildly after she makes it over, the receiving parent hugging her. She grins or laughs, and we turn her around to do the same for the other. She loves it, but she gets to the point where she knows she won't fall to the floor, so she takes a half step and dives forward. We still cheer and hug.
Dale: Another reason to be a cat person. Since we have two cats, we must have twice the protection. Thanks, Molly and Bailey. Now quit knocking our stuff over at night...

Friday, September 06, 2002

Dale: Happy Birthday to you/
Happy Birthday to you/
Happy Birthday, Dear Madeleine.../
Happy Birthday to You!

Maddie turns one today. She was born on September 6, 2001 at 2:14pm. She weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces, and was 21 inches long. Labor lasted eight hours. The "lifequake" that began in our lives that day continues still, thankfully. She took four steps on her own yesterday, and did so on two different occasions. She says "mama", "Wuz zat?" while pointing at everything, and "Bob" as she grabs her beloved "Spongebob Squarepants" pillow. She's developed what we call an "evil laugh" after she's discovered a fascinating new object. In short, she's nothing we could have expected, and everything we hoped for. Happy birthday, baby girl.
Heather: I was thinking of these things on my car ride home. It's one of the few times I'm all by myself, truly and completely. I usually am listening to newsradio; that's how I keep up with the world.
I'm reading a couple books, one I've mentioned before called Mitten Strings for God. It's beautiful and I hope if affects how I parent all of my children. I've even extracted Dale's promise to read it by Christmas. Another is Vicki Iovine's Girlfriends' Guide To Toddlers, which is a healthy dose of humor along with a reality check. I started The Sacrificial Mother by Carin Rubinstein today.

I'm reading the last there more as prevention than cure. I read the jacket in the store and recognizes some familiar aspects from my own mother. I'm smart enough to know that, despite my every wish, it's a natural tendency to make the same mistakes as one's parents. Simply put: I don't want to do that.
So I'm reading it to avoid repeating history. That leads me into my next topic: Dale as a father.
Today was another of his days off so he was home with Maddie. Two weeks ago when he was home, my mother called. Her car had broken down and she needed him to help cart her and a friend around on their errands, which he did without complaint--toting his daughter with him. Of course Grandma was horrified to spend time with Maddie [NOT].
The Sacrificial Mother cites mothers who give up sleep to care for their children during the day while they work nights, those who go without new clothes until they fall apart for the sake of their children, and so on. When I got home that Friday two weeks ago, I had no clue the kind of day Dale had had. He confessed that he hadn't even had a shower, poor guy. I took charge of the little charge and let him either nap or shower or both, in either order. He did both.
I think of that as I read the introduction to The Sacrificial Mother. It mentions how rare it is for men to make sacrifices and that they, not the children, benefit from the woman's sacrifices.
Once again, I'm grateful that I married a representative of the minority. I think perhaps he would stand to benefit from reading this one too. Partly because I think it will help him understand my thoughts, but his own as well. While the book is directed at women, I see some of the things he's given up for our daughter and for me and think, "Yes, I don't remember the last time I was alone at home, but what about him? Doesn't he deserve these things too?"
There's not a thing he wouldn't do for his daughter and he'd nurse her too if he could. I look for the book The Sacrificial Parent to give as a gift to my beloved husband. I don't know if I'll see it soon, but a girl can dream.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Dale: Sobering 9/11 links.

The first is on Iraqi connections to terrorism against the U.S., including the 1993 bombing of the WTC. Here's another interesting story about Iraq and the first WTC bombing.

The last is to James Lileks, who simply, clearly and movingly explains why we cannot forget.
Dale: Madeleine's first birthday is tomorrow!

We're planning for the party, which will be held Saturday, to allow my parents to drive down. It also gives me an opportunity to bring our lawn back from the dead (it's rained once here in the past month). Approximately 14 people will be here Saturday. We have made a list of food and decorations, but I am curious about memorable decorations. If anyone has any suggestions, comments or observations on any aspect of a one-year old's birthday (apart from "she won't remember any of it"), we'd like to hear them.
Dale: Viggo Mortensen ("Aragorn" from LOTR) comes across as a very nice guy.

Dale: Lunch Blog IV: "Deep Hurting."

Actually, the title is nothing serious. It's a reference to one of my favorite TV shows of all time. First person to guess wins 100 points. ("Points for what?" "Exactly...")

On to some overdue responses:

1. Ahem. It could just be me, but at a distance of 2000 miles the howl of a Husky sure sounds an awful lot like a whine. Actually, I'll give Shawn a lot of credit for not raising the controversial fumble call that took place earlier in the winning drive. That was a close one (incomplete pass v. fumble, for the uninitiated who don't follow major college football). I couldn't have really faulted it if it had been ruled incomplete, even if the instant replay seems to favor the on-field call. As to the twelve men on the field penalty, well...I'll be charitable and pass up the obvious targets that blunder presents.

Here's hoping there will be a Rose Bowl matchup. Or at least that Washington smacks around USC. I despise the University for Spoiled Children.

2. Jack over at Integrity posted a thoughtful response to my "Clash of Virtues" post. It's worth reading, and I'm more than happy to let him have the last word.

Monday, September 02, 2002

Dale: The Archdiocese of Detroit drops the ball on the Granholm controversy. Its official spokespersons weigh in with a squeak:

"In campaign appearances, Granholm describes herself as "100-percent pro-choice." While she has said she is personally opposed to abortion, she also doesn't believe in imposing those views on others.
* * *
In Granholm's case, excommunication will not happen, said Ned McGrath, spokesman for the diocese. "It's not something the church just throws around," he said last week. As for the protesters, Richard Laskos, another spokesman for the archdiocese, said they should channel their energy toward working for a candidate they agree with rather than waging a negative campaign against one they don't."

Contrast this with a recent authoritative statement, directly on point [my emphasis in bold]:

-------BEGIN EXCERPTS------------------

"Since the entry of Catholics into the U.S. political mainstream, believers have struggled to balance their faith with the perceived demands of democratic pluralism. As a result, some Catholic elected officials have adopted the argument that, while they personally oppose evils like abortion, they cannot force their religious views onto the wider society. This is seriously mistaken on several key counts. First, regarding abortion, the point when human life begins is not a religious belief but a scientific fact -- a fact on which there is clear agreement even among leading abortion advocates. Second, the sanctity of human life is not merely Catholic doctrine but part of humanity's global ethical heritage, and our nation's founding principle. Finally, democracy is not served by silence. Most Americans would recognize the contradiction in the statement, "While I am personally opposed to slavery or racism or sexism I cannot force my personal view on the rest of society." Real pluralism depends on people of conviction struggling vigorously to advance their beliefs by every ethical and legal means at their disposal.
* * *
Scripture calls us to "be doers of the word and not hearers only . . . [for] faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (Jas 1:22, 2:17). Jesus Himself directs us to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you . . ." (Mt 28:19-20). Life in Christ is a life of active witness. It demands moral leadership. Each and every person baptized in the truth of the Catholic faith is a member of the "people of life" sent by God to evangelize the world.
* * *
As bishops, we have the responsibility to call Americans to conversion, including political leaders, and especially those publicly identified as Catholic. As the Holy Father reminds us in The Splendor of the Truth (Veritatis Splendor): ". . . [It] is part of our pastoral ministry to see to it that [the Church's] moral teaching is faithfully handed down, and to have recourse to appropriate measures to ensure that the faithful are guarded from every doctrine and theory contrary to it" (116). As chief teachers in the Church, we must therefore explain, persuade, correct and admonish those in leadership positions who contradict the Gospel of life through their actions and policies. Catholic public officials who disregard Church teaching on the inviolability of the human person indirectly collude in the taking of innocent life. A private call to conversion should always be the first step in dealing with these leaders. Through prayer, through patiently speaking the truth in love, and by the witness of our lives, we must strive always to open their hearts to the God-given dignity of the unborn and of all vulnerable persons. So also we must remind these leaders of their duty to exercise genuine moral leadership in society. They do this not by unthinking adherence to public opinion polls or by repeating empty pro-choice slogans, but by educating and sensitizing themselves and their constituents to the humanity of the unborn child. At the same time we need to redouble our efforts to evangelize and catechize our people on the dignity of life and the wrongness of abortion. Nonetheless, some Catholic officials may exclude themselves from the truth by refusing to open their minds to the Church's witness. In all cases, bishops have the duty and pastoral responsibility to continue to challenge those officials on the issue in question and persistently call them to a change of heart. As bishops we reflect particularly on the words of the Office of Readings:

Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead, let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ's flock. Let us preach the whole of God's plan to the powerful and the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season, as St. Gregory writes in his book of Pastoral Instruction.

Priests, religious, catechists, Catholic school teachers, family life ministers and theologians all share, each in their appropriate way, in the Church's task of forming the Catholic faithful in a reverence for the sanctity of life. We call them to a renewed commitment to that task. In their words and example, they should witness loyally and joyfully to the truth that every human life, at every stage of development, is a gift from God. Physicians, nurses and healthcare workers can touch the lives of women and girls who may be considering abortion with practical assistance, counseling and adoption alternatives. Equally important, they should be conscious evangelizers of their own professions, witnessing by word and example that God is the Lord of life.

Catholics who are privileged to serve in public leadership positions have an obligation to place their faith at the heart of their public service, particularly on issues regarding the sanctity and dignity of human life. Thomas More, the former chancellor of England who preferred to give his life rather than betray his Catholic convictions, went to his execution with the words, "I die the king's good servant, but God's first." In the United States in the late 1990s, elected officials safely keep their heads. But some will face a political penalty for living their public office in accord with their pro-life convictions. To those who choose this path, we assure them that their course is just, they save lives through their witness, and God and history will not forget them. Moreover, the risk of witness should not be exaggerated, and the power of witness should not be underestimated. In an age of artifice, many voters are hungry for substance. They admire and support political figures who speak out sincerely for their moral convictions. For our part we commend Catholic and other public officials who, with courage and determination, use their positions of leadership to promote respect for all human life.

We urge those Catholic officials who choose to depart from Church teaching on the inviolability of human life in their public life to consider the consequences for their own spiritual well being, as well as the scandal they risk by leading others into serious sin. We call on them to reflect on the grave contradiction of assuming public roles and presenting themselves as credible Catholics when their actions on fundamental issues of human life are not in agreement with Church teaching. No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life. Certainly there are times when it may be impossible to overturn or prevent passage of a law which allows or promotes a moral evil -- such as a law allowing the destruction of nascent human life. In such cases, an elected official, whose position in favor of life is known, could seek legitimately to limit the harm done by the law. However, no appeal to policy, procedure, majority will or pluralism ever excuses a public official from defending life to the greatest extent possible. As is true of leaders in all walks of life, no political leader can evade accountability for his or her exercise of power (Evangelium Vitae, 73-4). Those who justify their inaction on the grounds that abortion is the law of the land need to recognize that there is a higher law, the law of God. No human law can validly contradict the Commandment: "Thou shalt not kill."

The Gospel of Life must be proclaimed, and human life defended, in all places and all times. The arena for moral responsibility includes not only the halls of government, but the voting booth as well. Laws that permit abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are profoundly unjust, and we should work peacefully and tirelessly to oppose and change them. Because they are unjust they cannot bind citizens in conscience, be supported, acquiesced in, or recognized as valid. Our nation cannot countenance the continued existence in our society of such fundamental violations of human rights."
-------END EXCERPTS-------

Perhaps Messers McGrath and Laskos don't recognize it, but surely the Bishops of the Archdiocese do--they signed it in 1998. Game, set and match to the protesters, who are fulfilling their responsibilities under it. As far as the officialdom of the Archdiocese, however...No admonishment of the candidate appears to be forthcoming.

It's a sad commentary: 1998's bold statement of Catholic teaching becomes 2002's toilet paper.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

Heather: I just got Madeleine to sleep a little while ago.
This is the third night in a row she's fallen asleep in my arms but not nursing. Part of me is relieved by that, as I know intellectually that she's physically ready to be weaning and she needs to learn not to have that way of falling asleep. She nurses for a little while and then shifts position so that she's cuddled against me, her head resting somewhere on my chest. I think she's listening to my heartbeat.
She's a beautiful little girl. I love feeling her weight change from the waking lightness the the sleeping heaviness; I love holding her close and feeling that she's trying to tell me she loves me; I love listening to her breath go smooth and even with the occasional snort or sigh.
We tried letting her cry it out... once. We couldn't take it. Part of me is burdened by having to put her down every evening; I miss my TV shows and can't get any chores done during that time. I suppose that is part of motherhood, like not being able to bathroom in privacy anymore (she comes looking for me). It's sort of like having a stalker, only one whom you know won't hurt you when she finds you but will only wail until she does.
Another, larger part of me cherishes those quiet minutes in the dark, feeling her warm body go limp with sleep, watching her eyelids droop closed. I study her angelic face in the semidarkness every night and almost weep for the times when it won't happen anymore. She is growing so quickly and our next one is coming sooner than we realize.
God grant us the knowledge to be good parents and not make our first feel usurped or replaced, for I can't imagine loving another child like I love Madeleine.
Heather: Please pardon, I need a little venting.
Dale and I are at that stage of life where friends are getting married and having children (like we have in the past 3 years). One newlywed couple we know is of different faiths: she was raised Catholic, he is atheist. I don't know his background. When I saw them recently, she admired Madeleine but said, "No babies for me!" She told me that she and her husband aren't planning on having children, as he doesn't want them. She did say, though, "We're young, things could change." Dale's opinion is, if she's saying that NOW, it's only going to grow as her clock ticks down its time. I agree.
But that's not all. They're going to be practicing Unitarians. I admit I haven't done much research on what the Unitarian faith teaches; my total personal experience is from the Simpsons: "You just winged him, Bart. He's a Unitarian." The lady in question justifies it by the fact that Unitarian is the only service her atheist husband will attend willingly.
I have some questions, none of which were appropriate to ask at the time. If they aren't planning on kids, what difference does it make whether he goes to any religious service at all? I mean, one point of Dale becoming Catholic, at least in my mind, was to present a united front to our children. If there are no kids to unite for, why not let him sleep in on Sunday and go to the church she was raised in?
Additionally, doesn't it disturb her somewhat that an atheist can go along with Unitarianism? Apparently, they don't strictly teach the idea of Jesus' divinity or else he probably wouldn't be comfortable with them. (Frankly, I think if you're not occasionally uncomfortable with your actions versus your faith, you aren't giving at least one of 'em much thought.) I'm trying to come up with a comparison but I think it's something like "birds of a feather flock together." I wouldn't be comfortable hanging out with a bunch if KKK members or neo-Nazis because their views would make me quite uncomfortable AND I would worry that strangers would think I held their views too. Guilt by association, I guess. In other words, if the atheist is comfortable with Unitarians, their Christianity is diluted enough that he can swallow it (read: is virtually meaningless). [Note: That is NOT to say I think the Unitarians and their beliefs are on a par with neo-Nazis or the KKK. I'd much rather strangers think I'm Unitarian than either of the other two, though my first choice is the truth.]
They aren't the only couple I know where one is atheist, the other indifferent, and they want no children. Sad as it is, it doesn't surprise me much that atheists want no children. Why would they? It's all eventually for naught anyway; the sun is going to blow up and swallow the earth and end humanity if we don't do it ourselves before then. Yeah, I know, in five billion years, but there's still a finite end somewhere along the line. If there is no God, no afterlife, why have kids?

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