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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Democrats in Congress: vote against Gorsuch!

I've been watching the confirmation hearing for Neil Gorsuch. I've seen much in the press about how the Dems should fall in line and vote for him. I say they should not, that instead they should fight tooth and nail to keep him from being named a Supreme Court Justice. Why? Well, for so many reasons ....

- Because the Senate refused to consider President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland.

- Because the Trump administration is under investigation for colluding with the Russians to disropt our elections.

- Because Gorsuch seems to be for torture .... Where Does Gorsuch Stand on Torture? It’s Hard to Say ... and ... Neil Gorsuch was instrumental in defending George W. Bush’s torture program

- Because of Gorsuch's opinions in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases ... What we really know about US Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch based on his controversial Hobby Lobby decision ... and ... Gorsuch's Selective View of 'Religious Freedom' ... and ... What Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s SCOTUS Pick, Means for American Women

- Because he is no friend to LGBT rights ... Neil Gorsuch’s Disturbing Record on LGBTQ Rights

- Because of his view of Planned Parenthood ... Neil Gorsuch’s crusade against Planned Parenthood ... and ... Neil Gorsuch’s Nomination Is Bad News For Planned Parenthood

- Because he's against physician assisted suicide ... High court pick Gorsuch is harsh critic of assisted suicide

- And then there's the question of what he might do about Roe v. Wade .... Gorsuch: Roe v. Wade Is the 'Law of the Land'

The Voice



I'm still on my musical journey with the Moody Blues. Tonight's song is The Voice. I have a distinct memory of hearing this song in a hotel gift shop in Hawaii while on a trip there with my sister, mom, and grandmother. That's me in the photo above with the Buddha at the Lahaina Jodo Mission on Maui.

And here's the song, which reached No. 1 on Billboard ...


Monday, March 20, 2017

Links and stuff

So much going on lately to comment on ...

- There was the testimony of FBI director James Comey before the House Intelligence Committee about the Russia/Trump connection ... What Investigation? G.O.P. Responds to F.B.I. Inquiry by Changing Subject. I watched a bit of it and what also came up was the subject of Trump's allegations that President Obama had his phones tapped. Comey put that idea to rest .....



- Also in the news, Pope apologizes for Catholics' participation in Rwanda genocide. This has been some time coming ... see my 2010 post The Church and Rwanda.

- And there's this article about Trump's pick for the Supreme Court ... Why Gorsuch’s Alleged Sexist Classroom Comments Are So Troubling—and Revealing.

- And a recent article by Fr. Thomas Reese SJ: Now is the time for married priests ... At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me,” not “have a celibate priesthood.” The need for the Eucharist trumps having a celibate priesthood.

- And finally, my latest listening from the Moody Blues. Or actually, from two of the members of the band, Justin Hayward and John Lodge, as the Blue Jays: Blue Guitar (1975) ...


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Out in the yard

A strange day today - warm but cloudy. I can hear the ice cream man going by in his music-playing truck ... it plays Scott Joplin's The Entertainer :) I walked around with the cats and the camera. Here is Olive giving Socks in the distance the gimlet eye ...



Here is a plant pot with some violets and oak balls ...



And here is Thor trying to nap on a dead tree stump. He looks like a wooly chameleon to me :) ...


Saturday, March 18, 2017

The War of the Worlds & Forever Autumn



Who knew there was once a musical made of HG Wells' book, The War of the Worlds? I read the book when I was a kid, but I mostly remember the story from the Tom Cruise movie version.. The musical, from composer Jeff Wayne, was apparently quite popular in the UK and I came across it while in my continuing obsession with the Moody Blues, as Justin Hayward sings one of the songs in the musical: Forever Autumn ...

Wayne wanted to include a love song on the album that sounded like "Forever Autumn", and he decided that the best course of action was to simply use the original song. Hayward, of The Moody Blues, was hand-picked by Wayne to sing it (because, Wayne said, he "wanted that voice from 'Nights in White Satin'"), and it was recorded at London's Advision Studios in 1976. The song reached #5 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1978.

Here's Justin doing the song ....



The summer sun is fading as the year grows old,
And darker days are drawing near,
The winter winds will be much colder,
Now you're not here.

I watch the birds fly south across the autumn sky
And one by one they disappear
I wish that I was flying with them,
Now you're not here

Like the sun through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on a breeze you blew away

Through autumn's golden gown we used to kick our way
You always loved this time of year
Those fallen leaves lie undisturbed now
'Cause you're not here
'Cause you're not here
'Cause you're not here

Like the sun through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on a breeze you blew away

A gentle rain falls softly on my weary eyes
As if to hide a lonely tear
My life will be forever autumn
'Cause you're not here
Cause you're not here
'Cause you're not here

Friday, March 17, 2017

James Bond wiretapped Trump?



I was watching yesterday's White House Press Briefing and my eyes bugged out when Sean Spicer explained to reporters that the reason why there's no evidence of our intelligence agencies having wiretapped Trump Tower is because Obama used British Intelligence instead so there would be no "American fingerprints" on the job.

Wow - who knew James Bond tapped Trump!! Well, nobody ;) ...



Having said that, apparently both Trump and Spicer have denied any need to apologize to the British ...

Trump declined to offer an apology for the claims, which the British government derided as "ridiculous." And Spicer denied to reporters after the news conference that the White House had said sorry to the British. "We just reiterated the fact that we were just simply reading media accounts. That's it," he said. "I don't think we regret anything. We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain."

More: GCHQ dismisses 'utterly ridiculous' claim it helped wiretap Trump

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tuesday Afternoon

Still more Moody Blues :) Here's a1969 version of Tuesday Afternoon, live at the Jazz Festival in the Belgian city of Bilzen ...



Tuesday afternoon,
I'm just beginning to see, now I'm on my way
It doesn't matter to me, chasing the clouds away.

Something, calls to me,
The trees are drawing me near, I've got to find out why.
Those gentle voices I hear, explain it all with a sigh.

I'm looking at myself reflections of my mind,
It's just the kind of day to leave myself behind.
So gently swaying through the fairyland of love,
If you'll just come with me you'll see the beauty of

Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday, afternoon,
I'm just beginning to see, now I'm on my way.
It doesn't matter to me, chasing the clouds away.
Something, calls to me,
The trees are drawing me near, I've got to find out why.
Those gentle voices I hear, explain it all with a sigh.

Finding Jesus



I guess most Catholics are not very into historical Jesus stuff? I don't understand why that's so.

Last year at this time CNN had a special series, Finding Jesus. I paid attention for a number of reasons, including that some interesting people were involved ... Mark Goodacre, David Gibson, Candida Moss, Ben Witherington, James Martin SJ, and Michael Peppard. I wrote a few posts about it back then and I mostly liked it, although I found the stuff about the Shroud of Turin pretty disappointing in that it seemed to give some hope in the authenticity of the shroud despite all evidence to the contrary (even David Gibson, who I think of as conservative, described the shroud as a 13th century forgery).

But anyway, the series is back ... Finding Jesus ... and it looks like it's dealing with some interesting stuff again. Duke NT professor Mark Goodacre has an article on the show. Here's a bit of it ...

The Historical Jesus: Separating Fact from Fiction

[...] Goodacre, a professor of New Testament and Christian origins in Duke’s religious studies department, helped plan the series and served as the production’s lead fact-checker. He also appears in each episode along with other scholars of early Christianity. “The big worry about any documentary in our area is, ‘Will it be sensationalist? Will it represent my field badly?’” Goodacre said. “The nice thing about this series is that it is robust academically, as well as being good TV.”

The series blends reenactment with scholarly commentary. Each episode homes in on a key character or location that figured in Jesus’ life, examining what contemporary scientific evidence, history and archaeology reveal about the world of the historical Jesus. For instance, an episode about Pontius Pilate considers physical evidence about the man who ordered Jesus’ crucifixion. In this case, the archaeological record contains rich sources, including coins minted by Pilate, Goodacre said ...


Here's a trailer for the series ...


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What I've been doing

I haven't posted much lately for a number of reasons. I've been feeling kind of blah physically, and also it's really spring/summer here and that means more time away from the computer doing yard work. Here's Thor enjoying the 70s weather ...



And when I do get to the computer, I've been obsessing over the Moody Blues. Looky here at another of their songs :) ...



But that doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention to the Catholic news ...

Remember my post about the last of two sex abuse survivors leaving the pope's sex abuse commission? Well, apparently the head of the CDF, Cardinal Müller (see my post Cardinal Müller, Klaus Mertes SJ, and Spotlight ), has disputed her view of events and now she has replied to that: Exclusive: Marie Collins responds to Cardinal Muller's allegations about abuse commission

And I thought this was great - John Oliver visiting the Dalai Lama. He and the Dalai Lama speak in part about the Chinese effort to co-opt Buddhism, and it's interesting that China has been trying to do the same thing with Catholicism in China. But anyway ... ....



I just need to perk up a bit and get back to posting more.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Never Comes the Day

Today I saw a promo video from 1969 for the Moody Blues' song Never Comes the Day that I had never sen before. I think it's from the BBC Sessions series ...



Friday, March 10, 2017

No, the Pope won't allow married priests



In the news: Here’s What Pope Francis Actually Said About Ordaining Married Men

Some news outlets are stating that the Pope is considering allowing married men to be priests. Unfortunately, I think this is untrue. The Pope didn't bring the subject up. He was asked by an interviewer from Die Zeit about the possibility of married men to help with the priest shortage and the Pope responded that "voluntary celibacy is not a solution". When pressed by the interviewer about ordaining "viri probati" ... men already married and of proven virtue ... the Pope prevaricated, saying "We need to consider if viri probati could be a possibility. If so, we would need to determine what duties they could undertake, for example, in remote communities". This sounds like he envisions married men as having different duties than actual priests.

This is not unlike the news last year about the possibility of women in the church becoming deacons. The issue wasn't brought up by the Pope but by some Women Religious who asked him why women could not be deacons, given that there had been women deacons in the early church. He said that a commission could be created to study the role women deacons had in the past. People were excited, believing that the Pope had decided to let women be deacons. Nope. And nothing has and nothing will come of that commission's work (see It's time to be honest about Pope Francis and women for more on this).

Pope Francis is not a progressive reformer trying to liberalize the church against the wishes of a corrupt curia (ok, yes, the curia is corrupt, but that's another discussion). Francis is a social/moral conservative. He believes that marriage for LGBT people is against God's plan, he has been dragging his feet on fixing sex abuse, he has said that women can never be priests in the Catholic church.

And given this, I am sure that, despite the fact that the original disciples, including Peter, were married, despite the fact that in the early church priests and even popes were married, Francis won't allow celibacy to be voluntary. Why not? So many reasons, but I think the two main reasons are ... the church doesn't want to pay priests with families a living wage .... and ... it is easier for the church to control a person's life when that person has no other loyalties except those owed to the institution.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Muslim Ban 2.0

In the news today: Washington State Wants Judge's Restraining Order Applied To Trump's New Travel Ban

[...] In an announcement Thursday, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson contended that Judge James Robart's Feb. 3 ruling — which suspended Trump's first ban nationwide until a challenge brought by Washington and Minnesota could be heard in court — ought to cover the second ban, despite revisions that narrowed who would be affected.

Here's a press conference from a few days ago with Washington AG Bob Ferguson discussing the new executive order ...








Wednesday, March 08, 2017

More Moody Blues



I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)

I'm just a wandering on the face of this earth
Meeting so many people
Who are trying to be free
And while I'm traveling I hear so many words

Language barriers broken
Now we've found the key
And if you want the wind of change
To blow about you
And you're the only other person to know, don't tell me
I'm just a singer in a rock and roll band.

A thousand pictures can be drawn from one word
Only who is the artist
We got to agree
A thousand miles can lead so many ways

Just to know who is driving
What a help it would be
So if you want this world of yours
To turn about you
And you can see exactly what to do
Please tell me
I'm just a singer in a rock and roll band.

How can we understand
Riots by the people for the people
Who are only destroying themselves
And when you see a frightened
Person who is frightened by the
People who are scorching this earth.

I'm just a wandering on the face of this earth
Meeting so many people
Who are trying to be free
And while I'm traveling I hear so many words

Language barriers broken
Now we've found the key
And if you want the wind of change
To blow about you
And you're the only other person to know, don't tell me
I'm just a singer in a rock and roll band.

How can we understand
Riots by the people for the people
Who are only destroying themselves
And when you see a frightened
Person who is frightened by the
People who are scorching this earth.

Music is the traveller crossing our world
Meeting so many people bridging the seas
I'm just a singer in a rock and roll band.
We're just the singers in a rock and roll band.
I'm just a singer in a rock and roll band...

A health care plan I can get behind

Justin Trudeau Announced a $650 Million Plan for Sexual and Reproductive Health on Women's Day



O Canada! :)

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

International Women's Day & Beauty and the Beast

Here's the start of an article in The New Yorker: The Women’s Strike and the Messy Space of Change ...

Tomorrow is the Women’s Strike, the fourth of ten actions that have been called for by the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington. The strike was planned to coincide with International Women’s Day, and the march organizers, in tandem with a team organizing protests in forty countries around the world, have asked women to take whatever form of action their lives allow for. Take the day off from “paid and unpaid labor,” including housework and child care, if you can, or avoid shopping at corporate or male-owned businesses, or simply wear red in solidarity. There will be rallies in at least fifty cities around the United States ...

Standing up for women's rights seems especially necessary in this time of Republican ascendancy and Trump. As we speak, they are planning again to defund Planned Parenthood: The GOP Obamacare replacement defunds Planned Parenthood and restricts abortion coverage

I hesitate to go here, but since we're talking about feminism, I noticed the stuff in the news about Emma Watson of the new Beauty and the Beast movie involved in an argument over whether her under-boob pic in Vanity Fair still allows her to be a believable feminist. My short answer to that is 'no', but I think the real anti-feminist thingy here is the Beauty and the Beast storyline ...



Laugh if you want, but just try to imagine a story in which a wonderful and attractive young man is expected to happily devote his life to reforming and loving a beast of a woman (think Sunset Boulevard). And that's the thing about feminism ... no Emma Watson, it isn't about women doing whatever they want, it's about letting men and women be equally people.

The future of the dotCommonweal commenters

As I wrote the other day, Commonweal has closed its dotCommonweal blog to comments and many of those who did comment are wondering if some new venue for a continuation of their discussions might be found. I don't know if anything will come of that, but it made me think of my own online interactive history.

When I first started using the internet, about the late 90s, I was trying to write a novel. I had never written one before and I didn't really know what I was doing but being online helped a lot. One of those helps was a writer's BBS. It was a large online community composed of a few writers who had published books, many more who had published articles, and those who wanted to learn. There were forums for every topic and genre and also what were called challenges. A challenge was a contest one could enter in which a genre, topic, and word length was chosen and everyone wrote a short story to compete for winning. We had to read each story and critique it too. I still have some of the short stories I wrote for the challenges in a blog here.

I was there for a few years and one of my fellow writers, a Quaker, asked me to join his bible blog in 2004. I had never blogged before but I gave it a try. We would all read the passage chosen and write a post about it. Then we'd usually comment on the other people's posts. It was pretty fun and I learned much more about the New Testament that way. Some of those old posts still exist. You can read one of mine here - Crystal on the temple cleansing

Many of us eventually dispersed to create out own blogs and that's what I did, starting this one in order to concentrate more on Catholic stuff. This was kind of the heyday of blogging and before long I fell in with a group of other Catholic bloggers. It was a lot of fun to post on various topics and visit other people's blogs to discuss it all. I learned a million times more about Christianity in general and the Catholic church in particular by investigating issues to post about. And I got exposed to many different points of view via the other bloggers. A blog that was very helpful academically ... the NT Blog hosted by Duke NT professor Mark Goodacre.

Sadly, blogging waned as FaceBook and Twitter appeared and now I only have a few blogging buddies left. I guess that's when I began spending more time at religious sites where one could comment .... America magazine, National Catholic Reporter, The Tablet, and dotCommonweal. I didn't really fit in anywhere but I sort of settled down at dotCommonweal and endured despite the many times my comments got deleted ;)

Don't know what's coming up in the future for me or for the other commenters at dorCommonweal, but I will stick to blogging here if only for my mental health ... they say it's good for you to journal, even if no one else ever reads what you've written. What I post about has changed somewhat and I don't ever get many comments these days, but thanks to SiteMeter, at least I know people are visiting :) ...



Thinking of the Moody Blues


- Justin Hayward

I've seen them twice in concert, once when I was in high school and once when I was married :) A couple of songs ...

Here's one you don't hear as often as some of the others ...



The Story in Your Eyes

I've been thinking about our fortune
And I've decided that we're really not to blame
For the love that's deep inside us now
Is still the same

And the sound we make together
Is the music to the story in your eyes
It's been shining down upon me now
I realize

Listen to the tide slowly turning
Wash all our heartaches away

We're part of the fire that is burning
And from the ashes we can build another day

But I'm frightened for your children
That the life that we are living is in vain
And the sunshine we've been waiting for
Will turn to rain

Listen to the tide slowly turning
Wash all our heartaches away
We're part of the fire that is burning
And from the ashes we can build another day

But I'm frightened for the children
That the life that we are living is in vain
And the sunshine we've been waiting for
Will turn to rain

When the final line is over
It's certain that the curtain's gonna fall
I can hide inside your sweet, sweet love
Forever more

And here's another lesser known one of theirs ...



Gypsy

A gypsy of a strange and distant time
Traveling in panic all direction blind
Aching for the warmth of a burning sun
Freezing in the emptiness of where he'd come from
Left without a hope of coming home

Speeding through a shadow of a million years
Darkness is the only sound to reach his ears
Frightening him with the visions of eternity
Screaming for the future that can never be
Left without a hope of coming home

A gypsy of a strange and distant time
Traveling in panic all direction blind
Aching for the warmth of a burning sun
Freezing in the emptiness of where he'd come from
Left without a hope of coming home

Left without a hope of coming home
Left without a hope of coming home

Monday, March 06, 2017

Goodbye dotCommonweal



The dotCommonweal blog has done away with the option of commenting on posts. For years I've visited there to discuss the latest Catholic news, political news, social news. Feel sort of homeless now and I will miss the exchanges :(

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Trump's latest conspiracy theory

Each day bears new gifts of Trump insanity. The latest is his allegation that President Obama had his phone tapped during the election. He offered no proof. Obama denied it. Then FBI director James Comey called upon the Justice Dept to refute the claim. Now, this from The New York Times:

A Conspiracy Theory’s Journey From Talk Radio to Trump’s Twitter

It began at 6 p.m. Thursday as a conspiratorial rant on conservative talk radio: President Barack Obama had used the “instrumentalities of the federal government” to wiretap the Republican seeking to succeed him. This “is the big scandal,” Mark Levin, the host, told his listeners.

By Friday morning, the unsubstantiated allegation had been picked up by Breitbart News, the site once headed by President Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon. Less than 24 hours later, the president embraced the conspiracy in a series of Twitter posts accusing his predecessor of spying on him, setting in motion the latest head-spinning, did-he-really-say-that furor of Mr. Trump’s six-week-old presidency.

Previous presidents usually measured their words to avoid a media feeding frenzy, but Mr. Trump showed again over the weekend that he feeds off the frenzy. Uninhibited by the traditional protocols of his office, he makes the most incendiary assertions based on shreds of suspicion. He does so without consulting some of his most senior aides, or even agencies of his own government that might have contrary information. After setting off a public firestorm with no proof, he then calls for an investigation to find the missing evidence ....


And why? Trump is trying to distract everyone from his involvement with Russia, and his Republican toadies are there to help. Psssst - it's not working, guys.

Here's John Oliver's take on this ...




Vlad and Jeff



SNL had a bit last night in which Jeff Sessions inhabited Forest Gump's persona ...


Saturday, March 04, 2017

Republican healthcare fail

John Oliver explains the nightmare of the Republican alternative to Obamacare ....