Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Nickel Creek - Reasons Why

Where am I today, I wish that I knew
'Cause looking around there's no sign of you
I don't remember one jump or one leap
Just quiet steps away from your lead

I'm holding my heart out but clutching it too
Feeling this sort of a love that we once knew
I'm calling this home when it's not even close
Playing the role with nerves left exposed

Standing on a darkened stage
Stumbling through the lines
Others have excuses
But I have my reasons why

We get distracted by the dreams of our own
But nobody's happy while feeling alone
And knowing how hard it hurts when we fall
We lean another ladder against the wrong wall

And climb high to the highest rung
To shake fists at the sky
While others have excuses
I have my reasons why

With so much deception
It's hard not to wander away
It's hard not to wander away
It's hard not to wander away

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Updated: The Catholic church and Zika

I'm posting all this because I find it pretty awful that the church is willing to allow so much suffering, all to defend what has been both a failed teaching (almost every Catholic who can access contraception does so) and a fraught teaching (everyone from bishops conferences around the world to hundreds of theologians to Paul VI's own pontifical council have contested the teaching). Here below is what I've come across so far on the subject of the church and Zika.

February 5th ...

- Honduran Cardinal Warns Against Aborting Zika Fetuses - See more at: ... Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, a top adviser to Pope Francis, has denounced the idea of “therapeutic abortions” — which are carried out because of fetal abnormalities — as a response to birth defects caused by the mosquito-borne Zika virus that is setting off alarms throughout Latin America. - See more at:

February 4th ...

- Concern grows over Catholic church's silence over Zika virus crisis ... Robert Kennedy, chair of the department of Catholic studies at the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota, said the church was unlikely to ease its stance in light of the crisis. “I think the church will take what steps it can to offer support – material, spiritual and personal – to families affected by the problem, but I see no circumstances in which the church will repudiate its teaching about artificial contraception .... The Vatican did not respond to a request for comment.”

- Surge of Zika Virus Has Brazilians Re-examining Strict Abortion Laws ... Religious leaders are vowing to resist any effort to ease Brazil’s abortion laws because of Zika. “Nothing justifies an abortion,” the Rev. Luciano Brito, a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife, told reporters. “Just because a fetus has microcephaly won’t make us favorable” to changing the law.


- Zika tests Catholic position on birth control

Zika-infected mosquitoes aren't just causing medical problems, they're creating a theological conundrum for the Roman Catholic Church, according to priests and other experts. The church has long forbidden nearly every form of birth control, but health officials in some Latin American countries have advised women not to get pregnant, because the virus has been linked to an incurable and often devastating neurological birth defect. "I've never seen this advice before, and when you hear it, you think, 'What are the bishops going to do?'" said the Rev. John Paris, a bioethicist and Catholic priest at Boston College ....

More ...

- Church Doctrine Complicates Situation For Pregnant Women In Zika-Affected Areas

-  Zika Is Circling Cuba. What Will Happen When It Lands?

- The Zika outbreak presents the Church with a major dilemma

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


- David Bowie's lifetime interest in Buddhism to culminate in Bali scattering of his ashes

- The Church Owes Planned Parenthood an Apology

- Can ravens read each other's minds?

- Why Latin American Women Can’t Follow the Zika Advice to Avoid Pregnancy ... With more than a million people infected with the Zika virus in Brazil and millions more cases expected throughout the Americas, government health ministers say the best way to avoid the worst effects of the virus is for women to stop getting pregnant. Pregnant women affected with the Zika virus have given birth to thousands of babies with microcephaly, a rare birth defect that causes serious brain damage and lifelong impairment. But with strict abortion laws in place across most of the region and a massive unmet need for contraception and sex education, avoiding pregnancy in the affected countries may be easier said than done .... experts seem skeptical that the anti-abortion laws, which have been repeatedly passed by mostly-male governments in Catholic countries, will be changed any time soon.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mr. Holmes

This week's movie rental was Mr. Holmes ...

a 2015 British–American crime drama mystery film, directed by Bill Condon, based on Mitch Cullin's 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, and featuring the character Sherlock Holmes. The film stars Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes, Laura Linney as housekeeper Mrs. Munro and Milo Parker as her son Roger. Set primarily during his retirement, the film follows a 93-year-old Holmes who struggles to recall the details of his final case while his mind begins to deteriorate.

I liked the movie very much. I've read almost all the Sherlock Holmes stories and I like Ian McKellen, but one of the main reasons I watched the movie was because Hiroyuki Sanada was in it. He really gets a lot of work and I've most recently seen him in Lost, Sunshine, Helix, and that past Tom Cruise film, The Last Samurai. Here he is sparring with Cruise's character ...

But, back to Mr. Holmes .... you can read a review of the film here - Mr Holmes review – the old sleuth on the trail of his younger self and here's a trailer ...

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam blogs for HuffPost Religion

Here's a post of his - 'Alliance of Virtue (or Get Your Bags Together)' - which tells of his faith journey. I've liked him ever since I was a teen :) Here's one of my favorite songs of his from the past ...

Friday, January 29, 2016

Still trying to help Mouse

- Mouse, last spring

I still haven't caught Mouse to take to the vet for his bad arm. He's still very afraid of me and hiding when he sees me, which leads me to wonder if his injury wasn't an accident but that someone hurt him. I have rented a trap from the vet and hope to catch him in the coming days, though I dread how much it may cost to fix him up. After my last cat Kermit died in 2008, I had decided not to get another pet because I'm not really a good caretaker of others ... bad eyes, no money, no car, and a squeamishness that makes it really hard for me to do the necessary but unpleasant stuff. The cats deserve someone better, but unfortunately there's no one else but me. Crossed fingers on catching Mouse soon.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


- Why Police Shot the Oregon Occupier LaVoy Finicum

- First Amendment won’t shield defendants in Planned Parenthood scandal

- Three New TV Shows With Religious Subplots

- From last year but still interesting: Brave New War

- :) ...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Editorial in the Times

From The New York Times Editorial Board on the recent news about Planned Parenthood. Here's just the beginning of it ...

Vindication for Planned Parenthood

One after the other, investigations of Planned Parenthood prompted by hidden-camera videos released last summer have found no evidence of wrongdoing. On Monday, a grand jury in Harris County, Tex., went a step further. Though it was convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, it indicted two members of the group that made the videos instead.

The Harris County prosecutor, Devon Anderson, a Republican who was asked by the lieutenant governor, a strident opponent of Planned Parenthood, to open the criminal investigation, said on Monday that the grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any misconduct.

Yet despite all the evidence, Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, said on Monday that the state attorney general’s office and the Health and Human Services Commission would continue investigating Planned Parenthood. This is a purely political campaign of intimidation and persecution meant to destroy an organization whose mission to serve women’s health care needs the governor abhors.

Fortunately, in the Harris County case, the jurors considered the facts .....


- Poetic justice: Felony charge for maker of anti-Planned Parenthood videos

- How Can We Find Planet Nine? (And Other Burning Questions)

- ‘In God We Trust’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

- In Latin America, the one crucial thing that can help fight Zika is almost impossible to obtain

Monday, January 25, 2016

Yard photos

- I tried to get a pick of this blue jay but I mostly got twigs instead ;) ...

- the loquat tree is blooming ...

- Vicky the terrible, taking a break from beating up the other cats ...


Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Return of the King - Extended Edition

This week's movie rental was the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. There was quite a bit more in this extended version than was in the theatrical version and everything felt more complete ... like the opening scene with Saruman's death and the budding of the relationship between Faramir and Éowyn. Still, the parts that especially touched me were the same ones that were in the shorter version too ...

Théoden's death ...

Gandalf's description of death ...

The surviving members of the company reuniting after the ring is destroyed ...

And Aragorn's coronation ...

Sniff sniff - a lot of crying on my part :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Trying to help Mouse

It's been stressful here the last few days. One of the cats, Mouse, has somehow hurt his leg ... he can't use it at all ... and when I tried to pick him up to get a closer look, it apparently really hurt him and ever since he's been hiding from me under the house. I saw him tonight, though, and although he wouldn't let me get close, at least he didn't run away when he saw me. Tomorrow my sister is going to try to help me find and catch him. I don't feel very optimistic about our chances, but I'm not sure what else to do. I've been praying about this, which is difficult when I'm not even sure anymore that God exists. Fingers crossed.

Belated squirrel appreciation day

Somehow I missed that yesterday was Squirrel Appreciation Day! I've taken a lot of photos of squirrels in my yard. Here are a few of them ...

Thursday, January 21, 2016


- Enter the Grief Police

- Bernie Sanders Says Planned Parenthood Is “Establishment.” Is It?

- Consoling Voles Hint at Animal Empathy

- How the Zika Epidemic Could Change Latin America’s Relationship with Abortion

- Planet 9 ...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Compassion, not mercy

- The Spirit of Compassion by Raynor Hoff

I saw an article today at NCR and it resonated with me. Here's a bit of it ...

LGBTQ people need justice, not mercy, from Pope Francis

[M]ercy, it seems to me, is not the door that LGBTQ people need opened to them. Mercy is an act of love, compassion or service given to those who sin or are afflicted in some way. LGBTQ people, same-sex relationships, and transgender persons are not sins or afflictions ...

In our church, mercy sometimes seems like a conditional forgiveness beneficently bestowed by those in power to those who have transgressed ... it's also seen in the case of divorced/remarried people and too for women who have had abortions.

The thing is, marriage equality, divorce and remarriage, even abortion, are not always deemed sins by all Christians .... many other denominations embrace gay relationships and/or marriage, most other denominations don't dis-communion people who have divorced and remarried, many other denominations trust that the decision to have an abortion is a matter of conscience.

I think the relevant question isn't "should we be merciful to these sinners?" but instead "should we re-examine our teachings?"

Monday, January 18, 2016

Glenn Frey: RIP

Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey dies at 67: chief architect of band's vocal and instrumental blend

A very nice acoustic version of Hotel California ....

Friday, January 15, 2016


- Anglican Communion suspends the Episcopal Church after years of gay rights debates. Here's an editorial about this from the Episcopal Cafe: Editorial: Response to the #Primates2016 Statement. You can read more on this at Thinking Anglicans

- Bernie Sanders Means Well, But He’s Out of Step With Young Feminists on One Crucial Issue

- Planned Parenthood Is Going on the Offensive with Massive Lawsuit.

- An article from America magazine on the Cologne attacks on women, with a mention of taharrush gamea ... a type of sexual harassment and sexual assault of women by groups of men on the street that may involve rape, beating and name-calling, groping, sexual invitations and robbery. The assault usually happens under the protective cover provided by large gatherings or crowds, typically mass events, including protests, rallies, concerts, and public festivals.

- Keep our public lands public (and free of gun toting anarchists) ...