Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Crying at work...

Is never a good thing, especially if you're in a crowded room with a bunch of people able to see you.:) But today the level of frustration at work hit a new high.

We had a bill today that would ban "wrongful life" suits in our state while still protecting negligence suits. Basically the bill protects doctors form being sued if a woman gives birth to a baby that has genetic defects or whatever, and if she'd known that a head of time she may have had an abortion.

You can guess what I think of this law. The fact that I am in the category of what some would consider "wrongful life" also makes this a rather touchy topic for me. So I sat there while the opposition said all sorts of things, like that a woman's right to choose was being infringed upon, and that there should be time to "prepare" for this event, and all that good stuff. I was ready to hit the roof. "Prepare?" What does that mean? Huh? Then there was talk about this being a personal decision, whatever that means. Um, hello. Personal in what way? That you're getting to decide who lives and who dies? It reminds me of the passage in A Christmas Carol where Scrooge receives a severe scolding from one of the spirits (and I'm paraphrasing here), and says, 'who are you to decide who shall live and who shall die?...oh that the ant on the branch who passes judgment on his brothers in the dust!' (I think we all need a good dose of Dickens...) What kind of society are we creating when parents can kill their children on a whim, when they can sue for someone being born whom they don't think has a right to be here? It's just insane to think about. Crazy. Nutty. Off the wall.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Crunchy Con Manifesto

If you've already read my Crunchy Con post (see below), here are Rob's 10 points of the "Crunchy Con Manifesto":

1) We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore we can see things that matter more clearly.

2) Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.

3) Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government

4) Culture is more important than politics and economics.

5) A conservatism that does not practice restrain, humility and good stewardship-- especially of the natural world-- is not fundamentally conservative.

6) Small, Local, Old and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New and Abstract.

7) Beauty is more important than efficiency.

8) The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our sense to authentic truth,b beauty, and wisdom.

9) We share Russell Kirk's conviction that "the institution most essential to conserve is the family."

10) Politics and economics will not save us. If we are to be saved at all, it will be through living faithfully by the Permanent Things, preserving these ancient truths in the choices we make in everyday life. In this sense, to conserve is to create anew.

bookshelf: Crunchy Cons

So this isn't a religious book per se , but it deals with religious topics a lot so I figured it was worth the time on the blog. Besides, Amy Welborn talks about it on hers, so I guess I can, too!

Crunchy Cons by Rob Dreher, a former National Review staffer, discusses a new ideology (is that the word? not sure) that's developing in America, and has been for awhile. it's not a political movement, but more of a life movement, I guess you'd say, that's on both sides of the political spectrum, but they're "Crunchy Conservatives" because followers of this particular lifestyle tend to vote Republican.

The book answers some questions that I, as a Republican who tries to be as faithful as Catholic as possible, have had lately. For example, being environmentally-conscious without crossing over into the Greenpeace/ PETA/ "environmentalist wacko" club. I mean, God told us we have dominion over the Earth and the animals, but He made them, too, so we shouldn't be abusing them--right?? But I'm a Republican! What gives?

This is where "crunchiness" comes in. Dreher talks about farmers in Texas and Kansas who are devout Christians but run organic farms (something usually associated with the wacko left) because they feel that's the best way to respect God's creation. So the book advocated buying organic food, when possible, or going to farmer's markets for produce, in order to support your local community (community is big to a crunchy con, even more than to "regular" conservatives), but also because the family farm raises things that are (usually) healthier (less pesticides and hormones and stuff like that), plus you're supporting a local family. I have a friend whose family farms, and let me tell you, their stuff is soooo much better than what I can buy at the grocery store, especially their corn. We were over there one night for dinner, and when he suggested we have corn for a side, I thought he was going to rip open a plastic bag, like we do at our house. Nope! We all went into the field behind their house and picked some ears of corn. Let me tell you, best, sweetest corn I have ever had. Mmmm. (But I digress.)

The book also covers homeschooling, suburban living, how Crunchy Cons feel toward big business (that the free market is the best thing we've got going but supports small businesses over massive corporations), and, of course, religion, which is why I can write about it here. :) Religion is important to Crunchy Cons, but it's the authentic application of religion--i.e., trying to live as closely as possible to gospel and religious tenets--that is the big thing. A lot of people in the book say that the biggest problem with the "Religious Right" on the Republican side is that they may pack the churches, but a lot of them aren't putting their money where their mouths are--they live in McMansions and consume, divorce, and do other things at the same rate as the secular culture. Many people Dreher interviews seem to think that there's not an authentic religious application in these people's lives, other than the right's crusade against sexual sins and abortion. I don't know if I totally agree with this, but I will say that a lot of people I know that call themselves Christian seem to leave the religion in the pews, if you know what I mean. Now nobody's perfect (God surely knows that I am not) but we should try to make an effort to live our Christian principles so that we don't get the "woe to the hypocrites" speech when we reach the pearly gates.

Dreher, a Catholic, points out the belief he (and other Crunchy Cons) have in the sacramentalism of everyday. Now as Catholics, we should get that. Everything is sacramental. George Weigel talks about this a lot (esp. in Letters to a Young Catholic ---great book)--we make bread and wine the focus of our worship when they become Jesus' body and blood. Regular, every day items become sacred. It's something we're quite familiar with. That's the way Crunchy Cons feel about the environment, their homes, etc.

I had a few beefs with the book: 1) that suburbia is a soulless place to live and 2) the despair that Dreher and his interview subjects in the 'religion' chapter demonstrated about the Church in America.

1) Yeah, surburban houses can be "cookie-cutter" and a lot of beautiful, old homes in America are in the inner city, therefore they are abandoned by people who fear the location or don't want their kids in bad school districts. Yeah, the suburbs can present a long commute to some people which is a drain on family life. And there's a lack of community. But I've lived in suburbia all my life and I'd like to dispute some points. I didn't find it soulless--sure, we don't talk to our neighbors as much as we used to when we knew them all and when me and my siblings were kids so we played with the other kids around here. But we still talk to them, and wave and do all that good stuff. It's not Leave it to Beaver but it's not The Burbs either. We live twenty minutes outside of Columbus where my father and I work and my brother goes to school. The commute can be not fun, especially coming home, but we're not that far from our family and still have ample family time. Heck, when we were younger, my dad's office was five minutes from our house, if that! And we lived in the suburbs. We don't live in a "McMansion" (as they're called in the book) but our house was built in 1990, not 1890. So it's probably a little less aestheticall pleasing than some of the older homes in Columbus. But we can't afford to live in the swank German or Victorian Village locales, and we're not living on the near East side, where there are some lovely homes but a host of social issues.

2) The despair about the American Catholic Church. Dreher, being Catholic, has a lot to say about this. He feels that the priests have done a poor job catechizing the flock, that the Church fails to present the rich tradition of the faith to the people so they know and appreciate their faith, it's failing to be "countercultural" the way the Church needs to be. In short, that the Church isn't challenging us enough, and it's not a good thing. He does talk about JP II and B XVI in good ways, though, and how they are challenging our consumerist, post-post modern mindset and trying to give us a new "springtime of evangelization", as JP II called it.

I've never been as tempted to despair about the fate of the Church as some. I believe that the future of the Church, as always, is in its young people, and with the tremendous responses to World Youth Days, as well as the popularity of retreats and days for teens in my own dioceses, I am encouraged by what I see. I have a friend whose my age and is on parish council. I'm in my choir and on the Spiritual Life Committee. My little sister loves her youth group. Two or three yougn men from my parish are in the seminary, and another friend of mine from (Catholic) grade school is thinking about entering the priesthood, as is his brother. All of us are devoted to our Church, showing great energy and spirit, and a hunger for what the Church teaches and how to live it in our lives. As Ghandi said, "we must be the change we wish to see in the world." If we want a return to the old ways, the old values, if we want to inject a new spiritiuality and vibrancy into our churches, we have to work for it. We have to push to find that community. It can be tough--we've got pastor and bishops in America that may be less than willing to move out of the status quo. But it's worth it. We've got to try it, anyway. And I think it can be done.

Crunchy Cons is a good read if you, like I, have often wondered how to reconcile your political beliefs with your spiritual ones, or if you're a Republican who has ever received the Look of Shock when you've said you're against the death penalty (like I am). Even if you're not a conservative, it's still a good read.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Because the public wants them...

I will post my Oscar predictions for next week, even though I won't be watching them and have seen exactly ZERO of the nominated films (and please don't tell me that I can't say something's bad if I've never seen it. I've never been bitten by a snake, either, but I know that's not something I'd want to have happen). So here we go...

best Picture : The Gay Cowboy Movie (GCM), aka Brokeback Mountain . Absolutely no contest, what with Hollywood slobbering all over it. None.

Best Director : Ang Lee for the GCM. He went from the sublime Sense and Sensibility to....well, whatever. George Clooney's a dark horse here for Good Night and Good Luck but I'm 99% sure it'll be Lee.

Best Actor : Phillip Seymore Hoffman, Capote . Russell Crowe should have been nominated for Cinderella Man .....sigh.

Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line . Good for her. And what was the Academy thinking when they nominated Keira Knightley? They honestly couldn't find a better fifth person? Sheesh. How about Renee Zellwegger for -oh!- Cinderella Man ???

Best Supporting Actor : Better go to Paul Giamatti for Cinderella Man . Again, Clooney could be a contender here for Syriana . But I think it'll go to Paul, especially since he got snubbed last year and Morgan Freeman won instead ( Million Dollar Baby , and he did deserve that one, man).

Best Supporting Actrees : Honestly, I have no idea. Probably either Catherine Keener for Capote where she plays Harper Lee, or Amy Adams for Junebug . But really, anybody's race. If they want to stick with the 'political' theme, it'll be France McDormand for North Country . But who knows?

So who do I think should have been nominated? A quick list---

Movies: Narnia, Batman Begins, Cinderella Man, Walk the Line
Actors: Christian Bale (Batman), Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man), Liam Neeson (Batman), Michael Caine (Batman), Luke Wilson (The Family Stone)
Actress: Tilda Swinton (Narnia), Renee Zellwegger (Cinderella Man), Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds), Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton (the Family Stone), Zizi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha). If they had a category for kids, the Narnia kids should get something, as well as Emma Watson for Harry Potter.

And, in a just world, Joaquin Phoenix would win for Best Actor. The man sang for cryin' out loud!!

Those are just some of my picks...if I think I'm missing something I'll update later.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Yeah team U.S.A!

We've had a pretty good Olympic Run, including the figure skating--I have high hopes that Sasha will pull it out at Worlds in calgary next month. But a good run for us all, and with twenty some medals, not too bad! Go team!

Update on the books:

--reading Dark Night of the Soul By St. John of the Cross...short, so should be done soon...

--still working on Letter and Spirit

--on the fiction side: The Count of Monte Cristo , Les Liasions Dangereuses . Good stuff so far....if slightly immoral (at least the latter).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Cardinals!

B XVI has given us 15 new cardinals, including two Americans (including the one who took his place at the Congregation), a Chinese bishop, and an anti-Chavez bishop in Venezuela (I think it's Venezuela, anyway. Latin America). Asia now ties Europe with the biggest delegation of cardinals, and North and South America are tied as well for second. Nice to see B XVI stick to the meaning of our name, eh?

SCOTUS and abortion

And related to the link below, SCOTUS has decided to take up the partial-birth abortion ban. The papers insist on saying "so-called 'partial-birth abortion'", but you know, it is. Let's look at what happens (yeah, this is gonna be graphic):

The baby is delivered feet first until just the head remains in the womb. Then the skull is punctured with scissors and the brain is suctioned out and the baby is dead.

OK so that was a brief description, but let's note some fine points. First of all, to perform a partial-birth abortion, the baby must be big enough to be delivered . It not only has a fully-formed body--head, legs, arms, the whole package-- but a brain that needs to be suctioned out to end the baby's life. So it's infanticide, essentially. It's sooo definitely a child at this point it's not even funny. And it's murdered in a cold, sterile procedure room. I don't care what you tell me, there is absolutely no reason for this procedure to exist at all. There is no medical necessity that could cause this to be a needed procedure. It's nothing more than the intentional taking of human life. If that baby slipped and was fully delivered and the dcotor did the same thing, he'd be charged with infanticide and probably put in jail for a good, long time. But a matter of inches...nah, it's a "choice."

The Lefties, of course, are up in arms because Roberts and Alito are Catholic! And they might rule that this law is constitutional! Oh my goodness!!! The sky will fall!!

The case isn't going to be heard until October, but keep in mind that we really are talking about a child here, as we say on the bumper stickers. One so far along that it has a brain and a face and arms and legs and all the things full-term newborns have.

Still think it's just a clump of cells? In the words of The Incredibles : "I think not!"


OK, yeah, I know, an unusual subject line. But remember all my quasi-serious posts during the Roberts/ Alito confirmation saying "The Papists are coming!" Well, turns out to some in the mainstream media, this isn't so funny. From the Pittsbrugh Trib via the Corner (as always--John Miller this time):

It's been pointed out that with the confirmation of Sam Alito, five of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court are Catholic. For some, this is merely a bit of trivia. For others -- such as Federation for American Immigration Reform board member Don Collins, writing in the Pittsburgh Tribune -- this is an astonishingly dangerous development:

We now have five male Catholic justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Most Catholics, particularly women, with whom I talk are highly displeased with this concentration of power and the likely rightward course of women's rights under the new alignment. Evidence of this came sharply to me when I attended a Jan. 11 reception honoring Kate Michelman, recently retired president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Among those on the dais were her successor, Nancy Keenan, and Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice. All three were raised Catholic and all three are strongly pro-choice.

That's merely silly. But this is appalling:

On Nov. 20, 1975, the American Catholic bishops issued their Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities. This plan is a superbly detailed blueprint of the bishops' strategy for infiltrating and manipulating the American democratic process at national, state and local levels. It called for the creation of a national political machine controlled by the bishops. In large measure, this machine has, dragging along its unwitting evangelical brethren, taken over the Republican Party.

Infiltrating and manipulating? Because Catholics have decided to promote pro-life causes through conventional politics? I don't particularly care for the agenda of the Collins's Federation for American Immigration Reform, but I wouldn't accuse it of trying to subvert our country's democracy because it pursues a political agenda in Washington. But I might accuse its leaders of coming dangerously close to trafficking in anti-Catholic bigotry.

Do I really need to comment, kids?? Do I?? And don't even get me started on Catholics for a Free Choice!! Hah! Grrr!!!

OK, deep breathing...deeeeepp breathing... :) And this is from a Pittsburgh paper! Given that my family is all Pittsburgh and my parents are from Pittsburgh and me and my siblings feel like honorary citizens, this is particularly grating, because the city has one of the best dioceses and the best bishops in the country (and no, that's not my bias because we're realted...it's because he really is good). So I'm not sure how this one got by the cultural sensors...talk about alienating your audience...

The Pontiff's trip to Turkey

Lots of expectations, apparently, riding on this one. It's been billed as a "big" test for Vatican diplomacy, etc., etc. under the reign of B XVI, esp. in light of the cartoon violence that killed one priest in Turkey. I don't know if this is as big as the pundits are making it out to be, but I'll be sure to keep you informed of any developments. It looks to be an important trip, if not necessarily on the level of the Versailles treaty or Yalta or what have you. I guess we'll see...

Friday, February 17, 2006

bookshelf: The Jeweller's Shop

So after I finished the Confessions I was on a bit of a tear, and went on to read JP II's play "The Jeweller's Shop" in one sitting (well, two if you count me reading it in the tub :) ). More of a poetic meditation on marriage than a real "play"--the lines are really long monologues, there's very little dialogue in the true sense. The introduction tells us that this is a form of Polish playwriting that has a long history in the country, so I just went with it. It's three acts: the first two tell the story of two couples--Andrew and Teresa, who are just about to get married; Anna and Stefan, whose marriage is disintegrating, and Christopher and Monica, the children (respectively) of these couples who are about to get married. There's also some various extras and a Greek-like chorus (a la Sophocles) that comments on the action a few times. The "jeweller" is God the father, and the couples represent us, obviously. It's a good read, and goes along well with the Pope's ideas of love and sexual relationships (see Love and Responsibility ...a post on that due soon, too). Interesting to read some of JP II's writings other than encyclicals, since he was so prolific with his literary output. If you're a fan of his, be sure to read it; if not, it's option. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a good, quick read, and it's a taste of other drama traditions other than what we're used to in the West. It's available through Ignatius Press (and I got my copy at Barnes and Noble! Woo hoo! But you can also order off the company's website), harback, about $10, 11. Not too bad.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I'm done!!

With the Confessions that is. Yes, friends, after all this time (since I started this blog, essentially) I have finished it!! It is well worth reading, if just for the sections on Augustine's life before his conversion, and the book IX tribute to his mother, St. Monica, which is a biography in itself ( a mini-one). Augustine's reflections on love and friendship are also worth careful digestion. The only thing I wasn't expecting was the heavy, almost metaphysical ( I think) turn the book takes in it's last 1/2-1/4. It talks about memory and it's implications, as well as what it really is. He discusses the creation of the universe, what time is, and other highly philosophical things. his actual Confession is only about 1/2 of the book (if that). So if you decide to embark upon this adventure (and it is an adventure--and a commitment!), be warned that it's not total autobiography. He delves into the depths of theology and philosophy as the book goes on. Overall, well worth reading; not sure if I'd read it again, but I'm glad to have read it once.

So what am I working on now? Glad you asked...
--Hahn's Letter and Spirit but I'm also taking lots of notes, so that's why it's taking awhile;
--JP II's The Jeweller's Shop which is a play/meditation/ poem about marriage and love in the Church;
--Sir Walter Scott's Manners, Customs and History of the Highlanders of Scotland ;
--Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' Les Liasions Dangereuses (for all you film fans, the book Cruel Intentions was based upon;
--and finally, Winston Churchill's first volume of British History, The Birth of Britain . Whew!

some reviews as I finish these off....

Um, I think they missed the point...

of B XVI's encyclical. From our "friends" at Reuters: (my comments in bold)

Encouraged by Pope Benedict's encyclical on love, a Roman Catholic bishop and a group of Christian intellectuals in France are urging the Vatican to reopen the debate on its ban on artificial birth control.

Bishop Francis Deniau told the Catholic magazine Le Pelerin this week that Benedict's first encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" (God is Love), which was widely praised for the positive way it spoke about sexual love, was a hopeful sign for possible change.

Sociologist Catherine Gremion noted the encyclical -- the highest form of papal writing -- did not condemn Catholic couples "who do not manage to live out their love in strict respect for Church teachings."

"That's an important sign," said Gremion, one of the co-authors of a book by Christian intellectuals entitled "The Church and Contraception -- the Urgent Need to Change."

Um, OK. So it didn't condemn couples who "do not manage to live out their love in strict respect for Church teaching." It just basically said that if you don't live it in regards to Church teaching, then you're cheapening it and taking away the sacred character. But that's not a condemnation, or anything.

Benedict made clear last November he was not considering any change in the contraception ban and that family planning was only allowed by the "rhythm method" of abstinence from sex during a woman's fertile period.

Pope Paul VI banned contraception in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, arguing that sexual intercourse was meant for procreation and any artificial method to block a pregnancy went against the nature of the act.

That encyclical prompted Catholics to leave the Church in droves and undercut papal authority. Many practicing Catholics now simply ignore the ban and some say it weakens the Church's message on other moral issues such as abortion and bioethics.

In his encyclical last month, Benedict wrote that the Church was long seen as being "opposed to the body" but it actually believed that erotic love and selfless love were both important aspects of the same phenomenon.

The document was widely praised for its positive tone, which was somewhat surprising because of the stern conservative stand the pope took in his previous post as top Vatican doctrinal expert.

A "positive tone" on love is one thing, a radical change in policy is another. Both JP II and B XVI see human love as a awonderful thing--so wonderful and so important that it deserves the highest respect and careful treatment. Birth control does not allow for the full expression of selfless love between members of the couple and does not allow the couple to be open to God's will for them; in fact, birth control shuts off that outlet for God's grace. And why is "conservative" always aligned with "prudish" or bad sexual tones? Conservatives treat sex with more respect than liberals do, that's for sure. And why not? It's only slightly important.

Deniau, bishop of Nevers in eastern France, noted that a papal commission had advised in 1966 to allow it, but Pope Paul ignored their recommendation after consulting several cardinals, including the future Pope John Paul.

"The analyses made by the first commission in 1966, which did not condemn contraception, are worth being reviewed and debated," Deniau said. He said many Catholics found they could not follow the "rhythm method" of family planning.

"It's important that these things are not seen in a rigid fashion," he said.

ah, the great liberal word--'ridgid'. You know, if Moses came down the mountain today in Nevers, France (incidentially the place where Bernadette is buried), this bishop would probably say he's being too 'ridgid'. Sheesh.

Churches for aboriton....sigh

OK, grr. I know I printed out a story that was on NRO recently about pro-choice churches, but I've misplaced it so I'm working from memory here. Forgive me.

It seems that more Christian churches are joining the "Churches for Reproductive Choice" (I believe it's called) coalition--churches that are pro-choice. Now, besides from the obvious prohibition against "Thou Shalt Not Kill" given us in the 10 Commandments (or, as I like to say, the liberals' 10 "suggestions"), I wonder how these people can sleep at night. Some of the members are the Presbyterians, Reform and Conservative Judaism, the United Methodist Church and others (including the infamous "Catholics for a Free Choice"----don't even get me started). While some of them are "fuzzy" on their support, saying things like "while abortion is never a good/preferrable option" it should nonetheless remain an option. Huh? I can't imagine these churches saying, "while rape is not a good/preferrable option, it should nonetheless remain an option." Same with murder, or theft, or other morally reprehensible things that Christians, in theory, are against. But when it comes to killing innocent babies, nah, that's a choice we should keep in tact.

The whole idea just burns me up. They talk all they want about protecting the poor and such, but don't they understand that without the right to life, everything else is secondary? We can't worry about the poor until the kids are here . The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away....right??

Vatican and Intelligent Design

kudos to the Vatican for saying that I.D. and evolution are not the same thing, therefore they are not incompatible with each other, but also that I.D. is not a scientific theory. This has never seemed like one of those tough pieces of doctrine that we should have issues with, but, strangely enough, we do.

Evolution is the scientific theory about how we got here; I.D. is the religious explanation. I was raised on both and can believe both. My first (and only) serious doubts about this was when I was about 10 and was reading our Childcraft books (remember those?). One of the books (I think it was people and places, but whatever) had both the creation story from Genesis and the story of the Big Bang. I thought, "hmmm. Can I believe both?" After reading the stories again, I decided that I could, just because one was science and one was God. Turns out my ten-year old reasoning worked pretty well, because that's really what it boils down to. Now I had some friends in h.s. who didn't do any of the projects in the evolution unit because they didn't believe it; my bio teacher avoided the whole thing by just not teaching it. But either way, it seems like this is all a moot point. If you want your kids to grow up with creationism or I.D., read them the Bible and send them to church. They'll learn about evolution in school. The two can coincide--it's not hard. Let's just give this one a rest.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day

So, as we wrap up our secular celebration for a saint (hey, Catholics are good for something, as I tell my protestant friends), here are a few of my favorite romance books/ movies/ CDs. Yeah, they're late, but you can bookmark this entry for next year. ;-)


--Anything by Richard Paul Evans
-- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
-- Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks
-- Pride and Prejudice , by the wonderful Jane, of course. For the more 'adult' minded, try her Persuasion the last novel published in her lifetime, which features a wonderful heroine in Anne Elliot. Do read it.
-- Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis--about the good and bad kinds of relationships
-- A Room Wirth a View by E.M. Forester
-- First Comes Love by Scott Hahn, for the theologically minded
--Love and Responsibility by JP II (again, for the theologically minded)
-- The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

DVDs :

--Shakespeare In Love
--Sense and Sensibility
--The BEST Pride and Prejudice--the BBC mammoth version with Jennifer Ehle and a delectable Colin Firth. Mmm, wet shirt scene!
--Breakfast at Tiffany's
--Gone With The Wind
--Braveheart (yes, it's romantic! Come on!)
--As Good As It Gets
--Sleepless In Seattle
--When Harry Met Sally
--Love Actually
--Finding Neverland
--Bridget Jones's Diary
--Just Like Heaven
--Notting Hill
--The Wedding Planner
--Ever After (woohoo Tiff and Milia :) )
--Mansfield Park
--The Notebook (what a weeper)
--Phantom of the Opera (2004 version--mmmm Patrick...)
--Anne of Avonlea
--Shadowlands (another weeper)
--Victoria and Albert (BBC miniseries)

--Rachmanioff for Romance (compliation album..try Barnes and Noble)
--Phantom of the Opera--highlights
--The Secret Garden--"How Could I ever Know?"
--Love Actually soundtrack
--Celine Dion All The Way (esp. "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face")
--Rachel York, "Let's Fall In Love"
--Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack
--"Le Nozze di Figaro"--Mozart
--The Ultimate Puccini album--all great Opera romance numbers!
--Norah Jones "Come Away With Me"
--Sarah McLachlin, "Surfacing" (some tracks)

Sunday, February 12, 2006


two good movies I saw recently, both available on DVD:

Hotel Rwanda : 2004, nominated for 3 academy awards,including Best Actor (Don Cheadle) and Best Supporting Actress. Tells the story of a Rwandan hotel owner who hid over 1000 Tutsis from Hutu soldiers bent on slaughtering the entire ethnic population during the 1994 genocide. Powerful and moving, with great performances by Cheadle and Nick Nolte as a helpless U.N. official who can have his men guard the Belgian hotel Cheadle's character managers but the soliders "can't use their guns" against teh Hutu rebels. Parts are a big gruesome, but it's so compelling that it's worth watching.

In a totally different vein is Just Like Heaven the 2005 romantic comedy with Reese Witherspoon playing Dr. Elizabeth Masterston, a totally dedicated ER doc entirely submerged in her work. She meets David (Mark Ruffalo), whom she thinks in squatting in her San Francisco apartment. The problem is, he's renting and Elizabeth is in a coma after being hit by a truck on the way home from work one raining evening. Together she and David try to put together her past before her sister, Abby, disconnectes her from life support. Funny and moving, very enjoyable (especially around Valentine's Day...even if you, like me, are single).

I'm also working my way through my Best Picture winner and nominee collection: so far I've watched Casablanca (1943), My Fair Lady (1964), The Sound of Music (1965). Good to review the awesome movies of the past, especially since this year's crop of Best Picture nominees is so disappointing. But there are still good movies to be had!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Requiem for a priest

The unabating riots over the Muslim cartoons has claimed the life of a priest in Turkey. B XVI prayer for him at his weekly audience today, and the audience applauded his memory during the talk. The really sad thing is neither the Church nor this priest had done anything wrong, and are not even remotely involved in this controversy. It is a senseless death, perpetrated by people who claim they have killed a man of God in the name of God. It's a twisted way of thinking and serves to further illustrate the total depravity of these terrorists.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More cartoon madness...

So now Iran's biggest newspaper is calling for a cartoon contest to offend Jews, because if this is the new wave, then they "don't want to be left behind." Sheesh!

OK, look--the Danish cartoon may have been offensive, crude, rude, whatever, but it was making a political statement. It's intent wasn't, "gee, how can I insult Muslims today?" The cartoonist was making a satirical point about fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. No matter what you think of the result, that was (most likely) the intent. What this paper is doing is purposefully trying to offend people. It's not real free speech. One of the cartoons is purportedly Hitler in bed with Anne Frank. This serves no editorial purpose (and, if Iran's president sees it, it'll pretty much undermine the whole Holocaust denial thing, since everyone knows Anne Frank died in a concentration camp) and is just out to offend. That's not what free speech is. Free speech usually proves a point and has a purpose in the press. These cartoons don't serve any purpose except a childish urge to "get back" at the people who have "wronged" them. Another example of the differences between insulting Jews and Christians--we don't hold cartoon contests specifically to insult others. We usually do more constructive things.

This whole thing is reaching the point of the ridiculous. Riots are all over the world because of a cartoon that was drawn to prove a point-- a point that is being seen throughout the world. If fundamentalist Islam wasn't violent, then the cartoon wouldn't have resonated. I would think that if you want to prove to the world that you're not what they think you are, you shouldn't engage in the same behavior the cartoon was commenting on in the first place.

Monday, February 06, 2006

non-cartoon violence

The uproar over the Muslim cartoons- is it deserved?

I've been thinking about this for a few days now, and I've come to several conclusions.

--First, I think it's fine that Muslims are upset. How many times have Catholics been offended by something in the press, media, print or photo, such as the movie Dogma or the TV show Priest or numerous other items? Far too often, if you ask me. So it's perfectly understandable that they're upset.

--The different is Catholics don't go out rioting and killing people and chanting "death to France" (or whatever) when we're offended. We don't call for uprisings and there are no riots in the streets. There are peaceful way to protest--don't buy the paper, boycott the advertisers, whatever. Killing people and raiding embassies probably isn't the best way to get across your message.

--Some have said that free speech isn't really free- that it only goes so far and shouldn't offend people's religion. Ehhhh. I tend to disagree. Yes, free speech can lead to abhorrent things--the KKK, pornography, etc. And there are limits on free speech (see Holmes' "fire in a theater" opinion). But we cannot really set too many limits on free speech else it is not free. Something always offends someone--it's the way of the beast. And tactful cartoonists and writers will take certain cultural sensibilities into acocunt. But we can't limit the press to what 'might' offend people, or what's the point of a free society?

Those are my thoughts...feel free to add your own....

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Next Narnia movie--2007!

You can start the countdown now....the next Narnia movie has, apparently, begun production and will open Christmas 2007, if all goes as planned. The best part? The original cast is all returning (including the adorable Georgie Henley...don't get me wrong, I love the rest of the kids, too, William and Anna and Skynard (sp?), but Georgie's just too cute). Prince Caspian, the second book published but the fourth in the series, tells the tale of Caspian, the son of the new rulers of Narnia, the Telmarines, who believes in "Old Narnia" (the narnia of LWW) and fights for his rightful place on the throne of narnia. The Penseive kids, a few years older now, come back to help out (but not of their own volition...read the book for more). And this movie gives us my second favorite Narnia character--Reepicheep the mouse!!! Read the book if you haven't, yet, and get ready for the film! You've got almost two solid years to do it!