Friday, January 27, 2006

Insurance Breaks for the Religious

According to a featured article on the pro-life search website, some insurance companies may be offering benefits for customers who attend religious services regularly.

Click here to read the article.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Gospel of Wealth

Great story in the NYTimes about the resurrgence of prosperity theology among some Protestants in New York and other cities. It teaches, as can easily be surmised, that material wealth and success is directly tied to religious devotion and God's favor:
It is a theology that is excoriated in many Christian circles but is
becoming increasingly visible in this country, according to religious scholars.
Now, it is beginning to establish a foothold in New York City, where capitalism
has long been religion.


"There's no question that almost every Christian leader - reformed,
Pentecostal, however you want to call it - sees it as a blight on the face of
Christianity," said Timothy C. Morgan, deputy managing editor at Christianity
Today, an evangelical magazine. "Yet it's so seductive."

The theology taps into the country's self-help culture, said William C.
Martin, a professor emeritus of religion and public policy at Rice University in
Houston. "One of the goals of America is for you to become prosperous," he said.
"For the church to put a blessing on that and say, 'God wants you to be rich,'
is quite appealing."

Not surprisingly, the story notes that the preacher and the church focused on in this story received an 'F' for financial transperancy by an evangelical Protestant watchdog group, which also advises people not to give money to this church.

Contrast the prosperity gospel with what Pope Benedict said today in his Angelus message: "Being a disciple of Christ: this is enough for the Christian." (via Amy)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm Not As Think As You Drunk I Am

The NYTimes on the Brits and their booze:

For Britons, alcohol is a relaxant, an emollient, a crutch, an excuse. In
her book "Watching the English," the social anthropologist Kate Fox argues that
drinking does not turn English people into unattractive louts, but rather allows
them to express the unattractive loutishness latent in their character: in other
words, they drink so that they will have license to behave badly.

"By blaming the booze, we sidestep the uncomfortable question of why
the English, so widely admired for their courtesy, reserve and restraint, should
also be renowned for their oafishness, crudeness and violence," Ms. Fox writes.
Their antics have earned them a notoriety across Europe, from northern cities
where boozed-up Britons go on bachelor weekends to southern resorts where young
people on cheap package tours disgust the local residents by their fighting,
vandalism and public displays of vomiting and al fresco sex.

Our Lady of Victory

No, Really?

The NYTimes just can't believe that when you pump women full of hormones they don't need so that you can be irresponsible, it hurts women.

Science: Ignored by the proprietors of the culture of death when it serves to shed light on their destructive forces.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Misogyny Alive and Well in America

The NYTimes even takes the tongue-in-cheek approach to it.

He may be wrong about a lot of things, but in his essay "On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love," Freud's thesis is that prostitution can only exist when there is a hatred of women. The porn film industry wasn't around when he wrote that paper, but I think he'd apply the same standard there.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I just registered for graduation. It's coming up on May 21. That's only 4.5 months away. Hence the picture above.

If you think of it, please say a quick prayer to St. Joseph for me as I discern about where I'm going to live and find a job. Thanks.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Disney is Dumb, and Other Thoughts on 'Hunchback'

I just finished reading Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I started it in the summer and got about halfway through it before school started and eliminated time for leisure reading.

I still can't figure out why the geniuses over at Disney thought this would make a great animated film. Let's see, we've got: Murder, attempted murder, attempted rape, fornication, public humiliation of a disabled man...Yeah, that'd be great for 6 year olds! Of course, they did soften the plot a bit, but I still think it was quite inappropriate as a family film. I'm all for introducing kids to good literature early, but this just doesn't make sense.

As for the book itself, it is a beautifully written piece about what happens when we let our disordered desires defeat our better judgement. The consequences of this pride and selfishness (which manifests itself in a host of grave sins) serve not only to hurt us, but those we love, most especially the innocent and simple, if for no other reason than that they are ignorant of the "ways of the world." There was actually one scene in the book that reminded me a lot of that scene in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith where Anakin is talking to Yoda about the dreams of Padme dying and Yoda warns him about doing evil in order to protect her.

Two thoughts on Hugo now that I've read Hunchback and Les Miserables. First, he is an amazingly captivating writer, and I think his style was captured very well in the "Signet Classics" translations I read. I set both books down for a period of a few months and with both I was able to jump back into them immediately where I left off. The prose, especially in Les Mis, keeps you reading even as he goes off on his sometimes obscure political tangents and you're wondering why you ever picked up a book that is 1,500 pages long.

Second, both books contain central characters who are idolized as young, virginal girls. Hugo really revels in their purity and modesty and condemns its defamation as a true evil. In one scene in particular in Hunchback, when Esmerelda is being led into a crowded square to make penance for a crime she did not commit, Hugo comments repeatedly on her fruitless efforts to shield her bare legs from the eyes of the men present. She was humiliated at that moment, the author notes, not because she was a thought of as a witch and criminal, but because she could tell from the looks of the men in the crowd that she was thought of as a sexual object. I don't know much about Hugo's faith, but from his writing it seems evident he valued virginity a great deal.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Twelfth Night

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Today, the Feast of the Epiphany, officially kicks off the Carnival season. It will culminate this year with the February 28 celebration of Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday.

Mardi Gras is a very Catholic celebration. Find out more about that here.

Since it's Twelfth Night, that means you can start eating king cake. Yum. I myself prefer the plainer, non-filled kind. Otherwise it's too rich.

The cake itself has a lot of symbolism. It is circular or oval, to represent the circular route the Three Kings took to avoid Herod as they made their way to honor the Christ Child. The colors that top it - and that are present throughout Carnival season - are purple, green and gold. The purple represents justice, the green faith and the gold power. In New Orleans, it became tradition to hide a small plastic baby toy inside the king cake, just as Christ was hidden from the sight of the world at His birth. You are supposed to search for the baby as the Wise Men did. Whoever finds the baby (without choking on it!) gets to throw the next Mardi Gras party.

My dad went and bought us our first kind cake of the season this morning. You can order them anywhere in country from Randazzo's (my favorite) or Gambino's.

Find out more about Mardi Gras here (from The Times-Picayune) and here (from Arthur Hardy, the authority on all things Mardi Gras).

Laissez les bons temps rouler, y'all!

March for Life 2006

Just a reminder: The 33rd annual March for Life will be held on Monday, January 23 in Washington DC. I did the march for the first time last year and it was amazing and such a fun, prayerful way of affirming life. Anyone who is in the DC-area or who has a parish/group making a trip there, please come! You won't regret it.

And, if you can, I also encourage everyone to attend the Vigil Mass for Life on Sunday, January 22 at 8 p.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I went to this Mass last year as well and it was probably the most beautiful Mass I've ever been to. Christ does hear our prayers so powerfully in the Mass and it is the surest way of defending life and defeating abortion.

On Monday, Jan. 23, there are two Masses you can attend. One is a Mass for Life at 7:30 a.m. at the Shrine. The Archdiocese of Washington has for the past several years also sponsored a Rally for Life and Youth Mass the morning of the walk at the MCI Center. Find out more about that here.