Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Neighbors

I shared this earlier with a comrade:

I am informed that a couple-hundred non-hetero couples in Iowa took out marriage certificates yesterday--I am under the impression that some were in fact married--and yet, from next door here, little seems to have changed. I spent some considerable time on the roof of my house, scanning the eastern sky with my binoculars, but failed to observe any of the following:

Bolts of lightning from the sky
Fire raining down from the sky
Frogs, locusts, etc., from the sky
Sky itself falling from the sky

Nor have there been any reports of earthquakes, ground opening up to swallow hapless county clerks, or cloven-hoofed creatures cavorting down the streets of Davenport, although I am given to understand that some hogs got loose for awhile at the yards in Sioux City, which may be a portent of something. All in all, pretty quiet over there, from what I can tell. Must be a big disappointment to some. I know I was counting on free fireworks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

But What if there's Money Involved?

I came upon this a few days back in the Washington Post, and found it mildly interesting, for reasons that will be revealed:

Our Endangered Catholic Schools
By Chester E. Finn Jr. and Andy Smarick
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The positive findings in the Education Department's recent evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program provide more evidence that high-quality private and parochial schools can have invaluable benefits for low-income, minority students. Tragically, however, Catholic schools, long the heart and soul of urban private education, are disappearing. Last year, seven Catholic schools in Washington were converted into charters, and the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Cleveland are considering another round of school closures.

This accelerating crisis, which robs disadvantaged city students of desperately needed educational options, has such profound and negative implications that two U.S. presidents, almost two generations apart, urged intervention. One of us helped staff Richard Nixon's "panel on non-public education" in 1970; the other wrote the Bush administration's report last year. Yet schools keep closing.

If America is to preserve inner-city Catholic education, help is needed from the other side of the aisle. We hope the Obama administration will step forward.

Read the entire article here.

Now, it should be said that I am a product of Catholic schools--two elementary schools and one university--and I have nothing at all against Catholic education. I do happen to think that those who want to send their kids to Catholic school should be prepared to open their checkbooks and not expect the taxpayer to help out, but that's neither here nor there.

No, what caught my attention most is the sentiment in the last paragraph reproduced above, specifically the last sentence of that paragraph:

We hope the Obama administration will step forward.

And, again, I have no particular truck with that sentiment, either. I'm fully willing to accept that D.C. Catholic schools play an important role in the lives of the urban poor there, and that the institution probably is worth helping.

But I can't help but think of the tempest in a teacup that is the "outrage" associated with Notre Dame's inviting President Obama to speak at its commencement. In a fit of pique, the Catholic bishop of South Bend, Indiana, home of Notre Dame, has said he won't attend commencement because the university plans to give Obama an honorary degree.

Cathy Lynn Grossman has a fine exposition on the silliness at her Faith & Reason blog at USA Today. Grossman quotes the looney-tunes ultra-rightist Cardinal Newman Society thus:

It is an outrage and a scandal that "Our Lady's University," one of the premier Catholic universities in the United States, would bestow such an honor on President Obama given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage.

(John K. Wilson has a fun take on the "scandal" at The Daily Kos, in which he rightly points out that the Cardinal Newman Society, "although adept at getting publicity, is far outside the Catholic mainstream. The Association of Catholic College and Universities denounced the Cardinal Newman Society for making accusations that are 'distorted, inaccurate and in some cases simply untrue.'")

Alrighty, then.

We now can can naught but conclude that the right-wingnut contingent of the Catholic Church must rise up as if one and insist--
insist!--that the Archbishop of Washington refuse in no uncertain terms any assistance from the Obama administration, such as that called for in the Washington Post column, since, as expressed above, the leader of said administration has "given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage."

We can't have any of that! Nor can we have any of their filthy lucre!

Yes? If not...why?

Says Who?

Spring has come to the prairie, which means that the quotations have begun to sprout. This time out, I think all of the dozen or so aphorisms that follow have come from that wonderful newsletter A Word a Day. Fond as I am of etymology, I sometimes wonder if I subscribe for the word of the day or the quotation that follows it!

Religions are not revealed: they are evolved. If a religion were revealed by God, that religion would be perfect in whole and in part, and would be as perfect at the first moment of its revelation as after ten thousand years of practice. There has never been a religion that which fulfills those conditions. -Robert Blatchford, author (1851-1943)

The people who burned witches at the stake never for one moment thought of their act as violence; rather they thought of it as an act of divinely mandated righteousness. The same can be said of most of the violence we humans have ever committed. -Gil Bailie, author and lecturer (b. 1944)

Who overcomes by force hath overcome but half his foe. -John Milton, poet (1608-1674)

War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today. -John F. Kennedy, 35th US president (1917-1963)

In politics, absurdity is not a handicap. -Napoleon Bonaparte, general and politician (1769-1821)

To be nobody but myself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. -E.E. Cummings, poet (1894-1962)

Neither genius, fame, nor love show the greatness of the soul. Only kindness can do that. -Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, preacher, journalist and activist (1802-1861)

All the arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals. -Peter Singer, philosopher, professor of bioethics (b. 1946)

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy? -Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone. -Czeslaw Milosz, poet and novelist (1911-2004)

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. -Jerome K. Jerome, humorist and playwright (1859-1927)

There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad. -Salvador Dali, painter (1904-1989)