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Evangelical Conversations PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 22 June 2007 07:45
Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur has an interesting essay over at Catholic Exchange called Evangelization 101.

The two women were distant acquaintances brought together by the one empty table in the small eatery. Over this chance meeting, they quickly got re-acquainted, and began discussing life. By the end of the ten-minute conversation, one left with the other's phone number and an agreement to take her to her Evangelical church the following Sunday.

Sitting at the next table, I couldn't help but be amazed at this interchange. I had just witnessed evangelization in action. One woman was looking for something in her life and the other had the answer. She spoke in glowing terms about her faith community and how welcoming they were. She told of Bible studies and women's groups and shared breakfasts. I admired her enthusiasm and her commitment to spreading her faith.

Would I have done the same? Sadly, I would have to say "No."

Since I just finished up the segment on what we are calling "Evangelical Conversation" for Making Disciples last night, this whole topic is much on my mind.

The goal is not to turn Catholics into stereotypical agressive evangelists who can't carry on a normal conversation on a bus without whipping out a tract and unnerving their seatmate. But we must find natural, respectful ways to facilitate and invite conversations about life's most crucial question: relationship with God.

Most people aren't original. Most of us can't even think about things that we haven't heard someone else talk about! We derive most of our understanding of life and our mental categories for interpreting our experience from others around us.

The direct work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds (which is going on all the time)must be met by a human assent of some kind. But most of us aren't spiritual geniuses and cradle saints who can recognize what is happening and fully assent to grace without any preparation or support from other human beings.

We have tried substituting the institutionalized witness of parish structures, religious ed classes, and "the professionals" for the personal witness of Christians we know well and love. But for most people, it doesn't work. And we know it doesn't work.

But still we can't bring ourselves to break the Catholic code of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

Cause we still think that it is about us and our comfort zone and embarrassment. But it isn't.

It is about God's love for this person here with me now.
The Asian Catholics Aren't Coming - They're Here PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 22 June 2007 07:16
Rocco over at Whispers has posted a fascinating essay this morning

Just in case anyone hasn't realized it yet, American Catholicism's changing, folks -- and the ground is, literally, shifting right beneath our feet.

At least, that proved to be the case for me a few months back.

As winter bore down on the East, I slipped into a Sunday evening Mass at a neighborhood parish in Queens. The English liturgy began in its upper church at 5.30. At the same time, one in Tagalog was getting underway downstairs.

The Anglo Mass was what, unfortunately, passes as the norm these days: the sparse crowd, ho-hum, "get me outta here" kinda deal. But in the lower church, its counterpart for the local Filipino community began with no less than 20 minutes of singing, during which their roof (our ground) was actually... vibrating.

By the time the opening hymn was done downstairs, we were midway through the Creed. Maybe -- just maybe -- they were preparing for the Gospel as the English-speaking celebrant was out the door.

Moral of the story: sure, US Catholicism's Anglo contingent remains its dominant ethnic group (at least, as of this writing). But just as with the Hispanic core which will soon overtake the old immigration in numbers, the energy, the future -- and, it must be said, the hope -- of the enterprise on these shores is taking its lead on a massive scale from the increasingly-emergent Asian communities, especially those of Vietnamese and Filipino heritage, marked by firm cohesion, joyful spirit, and a spirit of devotion and love for their faith as strong as summer's first day is long.

It's not just catholicity at work -- it's what's happening right in our midst. And we better start paying attention.

To offer but a handful of examples: though Asian-Americans comprise but 3% of the nation's 70 million Catholics, the community pulled nearly four times its weight in its number of the US' priestly ordinands this year; with 11% of the candidates of Asian-Pacific birth, the group was tied with Mexico at the second-largest provider of the country's priesthood class for the year. The Filipino custom of the Simbang Gabi -- the annual pre-Christmas novena traditionally held before the break of dawn for the nine days -- has come to equal "packed-to-the-rafters" congregations in the places where it's held (including, as of SG'06, 114 of the archdiocese of Los Angeles' 280-odd parishes); same goes for the numerable places that hold weekly devotions to the Niño de Cebu, the Black Nazarene, or the other patrons of the islands.

And for all the ink and Klieg lights that focus on the 10,000 of all ethnicities who show up for the annual Roe Eve Mass for Life in Washington and the 40,000 gone to Disneyland for LA's Religious Education Congress, the States' largest Catholic gathering is actually "Marian Days," when no fewer than 70,000 -- repeat: 70,000 -- Vietnamese-American Catholics converge on Carthage, Missouri for three days in August. (The event celebrates its 30th anniversary this year from August 2-5.)

Sherry's note: So how come I've never heard of Marian days?

Here's a nice article on this celebration in the Ozarks of Missouri. Globalization indeed! (and of our own creation)

Fleeing to new land "The church in Vietnam wrote her history with her own blood," reads a caption at a campus center that honors Vietnamese martyrs. The Co-Redemptrix community shared that legacy.

When Saigon fell, about 185 community members piled into boats and sailed east.
An American cargo ship picked them up and, after a time, authorities brought
them to Fort Chafee, Ark.

The bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese heard of their plight and
gave them an unused seminary in Carthage. After faltering initially, the
congregation has rebounded to more than 200 priests and brothers.
Father Anthony McGuire of the National Catholic Bishops' Conference, who
oversees pastoral care for migrants and refugees, compares the community to the
Poles, who suffered under Nazi and Communist oppression.

"That tends to draw people together. You see that in Carthage," he said.
Brother Thomas Dien puts it this way: "These are people who lived a hard life.
They need something to lean on. They may have come with no job, no money. So
they lean on their faith."

The congregation started Marian Days to thank Mary for her protection. About
1,700 attended the inaugural event. Early accounts describe picketing and taunts
from local residents.

Dien says some neighbors have moved, in part, to avoid the hubbub of the
festival. Several complain of traffic. Some homeowners blanket their front yards
with bright red "Keep Out" signs.

For the most part, however, the event has become part of the town's heritage,
like the Civil War battlefield nearby. Carthage has created a citywide holiday,
Vietnamese Day, even though the number of Vietnamese residents still is
relatively small. Townspeople visit to sample the gantlet of food tents. Several
neighbors even open their front yards for camping.

An Le of Joplin said only about a third of the 250 event participants from his
hometown are Catholic. The rest are Buddhist or of other religions. He said the
event highlights their similarities, not their conflicts.
"We all have the same struggles," he said.

And organizers are amazed at how Marian Days bridges the gap between
first-generation Vietnamese and their U.S.-born children.

My very first job out of college was Indochinese refugee resettlement but I hadn't yet grasped the nature of the spiritual journey I was already on and never dreamed that I might be helping to bring to this country the seeds of our Catholic future.
Sumer is Incumen In PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 21 June 2007 19:11
I can not believe that I have gotten so carried away with work that I just now realized that it is Mid-summer's Day.

And so we must have a rousing chorus of that old favorite: Sumer is incumen in . . .
What? You say you've never heard of it?

A round that is a mere 740 years old? The ultimate Oldie . .

Well, it looks like this

You all know the chorus:

Sumer is incumen in,
Lhude sing cuc-cu
Gro-weth sed and bloweth sed
and springeth the w-de nu
sing cuc-cu!
There Will Be Blogging This Weekend PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 21 June 2007 16:16
I'm home - working on Making Disciples and the irrigation system for the garden - but home.
Evangelizing in a Post-Modern Age - Seattle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 21 June 2007 13:24
If you are in the Seattle area on June 27, check this out.

On June 27 at Blessed Sacrament church in the University district, Fr. Bryan Dolejsi will be speaking on this most interesting and critical topic.

Fr. Bryan has been one of our Called & Gifted teachers since he was a seminarian and is an absolutely dynamic speaker. (The grin in the photo is very Bryan and tells you a great deal about his energy and love for the faith).

Fr. Bryan will offer an overview of spiritual trends in our postmodern
culture in view of developing effective approaches to
evangelization. After considering the effects of technology,
secularization and individualism on the post-modern soul, he will
show how the wisdom of the saints on issues such as doctrine,
experience, grace and individual autonomy can help Catholics
fulfill their call to be apostles in the world.

I am totally bummed that I won't be in Seattle until Thursday, June 28. I'm sure it will be great.
Should Religion Govern Christian Institutions? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 21 June 2007 08:49
Really and truly. This is the debate in India.

The catalyst? The Catholic Church in Delhi wants to reserve 40% of the spaces at St. Stephen's College for Christian students.

The result: this debate on the Indian version of CNN. Fascinating and distressing all at the same time. But it gives a vivid sense of the issues faced by Christians in very different cultural circumstances around the world.

"As the debate still rages over the 40 per cent quota for Christians in St Stephen's College, the Delhi diocese says all the city’s schools and colleges that it runs should hire Christian teachers.

With the backdrop of fears that such proposals will lead to conversions, the question discussed on the show Face The Nation with Sagarika Ghose was: Should Christian institutions be governed by their religion?

On the panel to debate the issue was senior journalist Swapan Dasgupta, along with St Stephen’s College Principal Valson Thampu and Vice-Chairperson of State Minorities Commission and President of Indian Christian Voice Abraham Mathai.

The decision to reserve 40 per cent quota for Christians and Dalit Christians in St Stephen’s College has met with criticism across the board. Does it mean sacrificing excellence that has been built over years?

“The very sequence of news events today tells it’s own story. It shows the tremendous role Christian education plays. I welcome this tribute. But coming to Christianisation of St Stephen’s, what’s wrong with it? People want to study there but they do not want the Christian part of it. That’s hypocritical,” said Valson Thampu.

Christianisation concerns

Regarding the quota debate in St Stephen’s, a senior historian was quoted as saying, “You are actually consigning St Stephen’s College to a graveyard because you are the kind of Christian who is the kind of Hindu that Narendra Modi is.”

“It’s a great pity that such a historian cannot recognise the distinction between christianisation and saffronisation. It’s a great tragedy that many people in the country are better informed than the Supreme Court. They must read the TMA Pai Foundation vs State of Karnataka verdict, which obligates me to admit at least 50 per cent from the Christian community. The SC has taken the view that minorities are allowed to establish institutions mainly to meet the educational needs of the community. If you deny the aspirations of your community, the only motive for doing that would be corruption,” said Thampu.

Turning to Swapan Dasgupta, a Stephanian, Sagarika Ghose asked him whether he was opposed to the christianisation of St Stephen’s?

“It really depends on what you mean by a Christian institution. The College was always a Christian institution in the sense that it spread the wider ethos of Christianity. Now if it’s made a completely denominational institution, it would hit at the very purpose at what the founders has in mind. The institution was meant to be a facilitator of a happy amalgam between the east and the west. Thampu is making the College a church institution,” he said.

Was the Christian ecumenism being defeated by Christian evangelism? Are the traditions, which the institutions were built, getting lost in the search of power, glory and money.

“The church in India has taken the responsibility of starting educational institutions in the country and none of them can be proved to have indulged in conversions. We have a right to govern our institutions, which is guaranteed in the Constitution itself. So what’s wrong with that?” said Abraham Mathai.

2010: International Congress on World Evangelization PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 21 June 2007 08:36
The evangelical missionary equivalent of an ecumenical council will be held in 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa: Lausanne III: the International Congress on World Evangelization.

This is significant for Catholics in so many ways.

It was the first Lausanne Conference, convened by Billy Graham in 1974, which was a major catalyst of the extraordinary growth of evangelical/Pentecostal Christianity around the world. The irony is that, at that very moment in time, the Catholic missionary movement was abandoning the proclamation of Christ as futile.

As Peter Phan wrote in his article: “Proclamation of the Reign of God as Mission of the Church: What for, to Whom, by Whom, with Whom, and How?”

But now things have changed, and changed utterly. The change from the enthusiasm and optimism of the World Missionary Conference that met in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910—whose catchy slogan was "The evangelization of the world in this generation"—to the discouragement and even pessimism in today’s missionary circles, Catholic and Protestant alike, is visible and palpable. . . .To the consternation of Western missionaries, the shout "Missionary, go home" was raised in the 1960s, to be followed a decade later by the demand for a moratorium on Christian missions from the West.

In addition to the political factors, the collapse of mission as we knew it was also caused by the unexpected resurgence of the so-called non-Christian religions, in particular Hinduism and Islam. The missionaries’ rosy predictions of their early demise were vastly premature. Concomitant with this phenomenon is an intense awareness of religious pluralism which advocates several distinct, independent, and equally valid ways to reach the Divine and therefore makes conversion from one religion to another, which was considered as the goal of mission, unnecessary. [emphasis mine]

Ironies heaped upon ironies. Phan talks of the 1910 Congress as a discredited relic of the past while evangelicals are planning their next Congress in 2010 because it is the anniversary of the 1910 Congress which they regard as prophetic of the spectacular expansion of Christianity in the global south during the 20th century.

Truly, the contrast between Catholic and evangelical interpretations of mission history since 1960 is that of night and day, winter and summer. Catholic missions “as we knew it” has indeed collapsed but the evangelical missions movement swept past us and around the world without missing a beat.

The result:

In the 37 years since 1970, Christians in Africa grew from 117 million to 417 million and in Asia from 96 million to 353 million. But the lion’s share of that growth was non-Catholic and non-Orthodox.

The 2010 Congress on World Evangelization won’t be led by western Christians but by evangelical leaders from Uganda, Latin America, Malaysia, Egypt and Hong Kong. They are expecting 4,000 missionary leaders from 200 countries to attend Lausanne III.

And Catholic missionary leaders and scholars should be there – not just a few but in significant numbers to grasp what is happening and to be part of the conversation at strategic levels. Because hundreds of millions of baptized Catholics around the world are part of or are being formed by and heavily influenced by this evangelistic juggernaut. If we don’t evangelize our own, the evangelicals will do it for us.

But do we have the leaders committed to the proclamation of Christ as the center (but not the only aspect) of missions who are capable of doing so? As far as I can tell, we don’t in the US, but then we’ve never been a Catholic missionary powerhouse. Europe was the traditional center of Catholic missions but the current state of the Church there makes it unlikely that the next generation of missionary leaders will be European.

Perhaps the future of Catholic missions lies with the movements instead of the historic religious orders?

For more on the subject in general, take a look at my 11 part article on Independent Christianity.
Thoughts on Youth and Adult Formation PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 21 June 2007 08:04

Written by Keith Strohm

For the last few weeks-- in addition to preparing for a wonderful Called & Gifted Workshop over here in Bloomingdale, Illinois--I've been working on a short analysis of youth ministry. A little background:

Last year, after a lot of prayer and reflection, I joined my parish's youth ministry program--knowing that it had a number of issues and areas for improvement. After offering my own experience in youth and adult formation to help deepen and grow the program (most of which went largely unheeded--for a number of reasons, including an attachment to historical methods and a dearth of intentional discipleship), feedback and other events helped me to realize that I had possibly made some bad discernment.

I decided, ultimately, not to continue on as a youth minister this year. However, I love the teens and the folks alongside whom I ministered, and so I spent several weeks applying my experience in the Christians in Action program with my larger experience in youth and adult formation. I then wrote a reflection on youth ministry and offered concrete, practical suggestions to help the team if they wanted to take a risk and try some new things.

In doing so, I worked on identifying the necessary components of effective youth ministry, particularly in light of the goals of youth ministry--forming disciples who take personal responsibility for the Church's mission to the world. As I identified these components, I wondered if, in fact, the necessary components of youth formation are, in many ways, identical to the necessary components of adult formation. Perhaps it's not the structure or content of youth and adult formation that should be different, but rather the context.

In other words, our goals and ambitions shouldn't be lower for youth because they are young. Both teens and adults can become intentional disciples of Christ--but their journey toward that goal takes place in the context of different segments of life.

In any event, here are the elements of effective youth ministry that I identified. This is probably not an exhaustive list, but I think it hits the major points:

Effective youth ministry should provide a place where teens can come to:

· Encounter Christ (many for the first time)—as he is revealed through the Church (Scripture, Sacraments, Church Teaching), through the lives of the youth ministers who journey with the teens, and through their own lives—so as to build and deepen a personal relationship with God characterized by openness and trust.

· Clearly hear the kerygmatic dimensions of the Gospel (that Christ suffered and died for our sins so that we could be reunited with the One Who Made us for Love) in a way that allows them to relate to it, absorb it, wrestle with it, and, ultimately, make a decision about it in their own life

· Build habits of prayer, scripture study, accountability, and sacramental celebration/reception—along with support and formation in living out lives of discipleship.

· Learn about not only what the Church teaches and why, but also how to apply the richness of that Teaching to their lives and the lives of the world around them—addressing real needs in the community through acts of charity and social justice.

· Receive support and tools for a lifetime of discernment—growing steadily in an understanding of the Church’s mission and how/where they are personally called to participate in that mission

How this gets accomplished will look very different for teens and for adults, but the foundational components seem, to my eye, similar.


By the way, I am posting my detailed reflection on youth ministry in regular installments over at my blog. If you are interested, stop on by!

St. Margaret Clitheroe & the Charism of Hospitality PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 20 June 2007 15:42
Posting about the Martyr's Walk in London this weekend reminded me that I had written a short article about Margaret Clitheroe years ago and that it would be most appropos to post it here.

St. Margaret Clitherow

The urban center of northern England is the ancient and fascinating city of York. Still surrounded by 500-year-old walls and gates (called bars), filled with tiny stone streets and crooked medieval houses, and dominated by the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, York is one of my very favorite places in England.

When I visited York four years ago, I was going as a pilgrim, following in the footsteps of two other Weddell women, who had lived there four centuries earlier. I had discovered them entirely by accident while reading about the life of St. Margaret Clitherow, York's most famous female citizen.

Those distant Weddells made it into a little-read history book in the University of Washington library because they had been imprisoned with Margaret Clitherow for the same crime: practicing the Catholic faith at a time when the penalties in England for such daring included imprisonment and death. It may strike us as almost unbelievable, but Margaret Clitherow was in fact martyred by the English government of her day for the exercise of a charism that we tend to think of as a thoroughly innocuous: the charism of hospitality.

The charism of hospitality empowers a Christian to be a generous channel of God's love by warmly welcoming and caring for those in need of food, shelter, and friendship. Why would any government possibly object to such a simple and inoffensive activity? Because among the guests that Margaret Clitherow warmly welcomed were Catholic priests who were risking their own lives so that lay Catholics might have access to the grace and consolation of the sacraments in the midst of persecution.

Thirty years before Margaret Clitherow was born, King Henry VIII had broken with the Papacy and had declared himself the "Head of the Church in England" because the Pope would not grant him a divorce from his first wife. All the monasteries and religious houses in England had been suppressed and their inhabitants forced to leave and take up secular dress and life, and some priests and religious died as martyrs. By the time that

Margaret Clitherow married at 15 (a common age for marriage at the time), it was illegal for an English man or woman to attend a Catholic Mass, to be reconciled with the Catholic Church, to go to confession, to be a priest or religious, or knowingly to offer hospitality to a priest or religious.

Since all English people were required by law to attend Anglican services at their local parish church on every Sunday and feast day, those who didn't attend as a matter of conscience were easily recognized and reported to the authorities. Margaret, who had been raised as a Protestant, had to go to elaborate lengths just in order to receive instruction in the Catholic faith.

A local doctor's wife who was a committed Catholic ran a sort of birthing center for Catholic women where they could be safely delivered of their babies, regain their health, and have the babies secretly baptized. When one of the hunted priests was in town, the doctor's wife would send Margaret a message that she "needed help with a birth" and Margaret would have the "cover story" which enabled her to leave home without arousing suspicion. Margaret was only 18 when she entered the Catholic Church.

While working with participants in the Called & Gifted process, I have noticed that hospitality is one of those gifts that tends to be under-appreciated. Like the charisms of helps and service, it is sometimes thought of as "nice" but not powerful, as comforting but not transforming, and certainly not as evangelistic or prophetic.

But like any other charism, hospitality is an exercise of genuine spiritual power and authority. Hospitality is, I believe, along with the gift of pastoring, one of the primary means by which God heals and strengthens individuals through the creation of Christian community. To create a safe, warm, loving environment in which many of the individual's needs for physical nurture, relationship, and spiritual companionship are met is a most powerful ministry of healing.

Indeed, the English Catholics of the sixteenth century were able to create such communities even in the prison where fifty or sixty serious York Catholics might find themselves at any given time. Wounded and bruised by rejection and persecution, uncertain of their future, the imprisoned Catholics would find themselves spiritually and emotionally healed and nurtured through the Catholic community life made possible by the very structures of oppression.

The doctor's wife who ran the Catholic birthing center in her home was reported to have temporarily lost her mind because of the many terrible blows dealt to her and her family. But in prison, amid the warmth of the Catholic community there, she was healed. In the hands of a pastoral evangelizer like Margaret Clitherow, who was always seeking out opportunities, despite the danger, to share her faith with her family and friends and to encourage the faith of her fellow Catholics, hospitality was far more than an exercise in bland politeness.

When the doctor's wife was arrested in 1581, Margaret offered her home to be the primary "Mass center" in York, a place where Catholics could secretly gather to attend Mass, where priests could be hidden as they passed through, and where liturgical furnishings could be stored. Margaret had a secret room constructed upstairs in a house that adjoined her own with a concealed passage running between the two homes.

Visiting priests slept in the room and all Mass gear was stored there. When safety permitted, Margaret delighted in feeding breakfast to all who had attended Mass in her home. She also offered space in her home to a Catholic schoolteacher to teach both her own children and a few of her neighbor's children. And all this she did, knowing that should evidence of her priestly guests ever be discovered, that she could receive the death penalty.

Finally in 1586, Margaret's house was forcibly searched by a band of local sheriffs. They found the schoolmaster at work with his pupils in an upstairs room. The schoolmaster managed to escape through the secret passage, but the searchers thought that he must have been a priest and arrested everyone in the house.

They took one of the children, a twelve-year-old boy, stripped him, and "with rods threatened him, standing naked among them, unless he would tell them all they asked." In his terror, the child led them to the secret chamber where they found the Mass gear and signs of recent occupation. That was all the evidence that was ever gathered against Margaret Clitherow. Margaret refused to enter a plea in order to prevent her children from being forced to testify against her.

The penalty for refusing to plead in English law was terrible. Margaret Clitherow was pressed to death by being covered with a heavy board while lying on the ground and then having 800 pounds of weights piled upon the board until she died. When she was declared a saint in 1970, a joint Catholic-Anglican service of repentance and reconciliation was held in York Minister in her honor. But the name and example of this hospitable woman has long survived those who put her to death. Today, she is known as St. Margaret of York, and the very house where she practiced her courageous ministry of hospitality is now a shrine dedicated to her memory.
Thanks for the Memories PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 20 June 2007 12:49
The ultimate nightmare flight:

Being stuck for 7 hours on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong that never leaves the runway at San Francisco.

I've flown that particular flight.

A word to the downwardly challenged:

Cathay Pacific seats and the space between the seats are designed for Asian bodies. That means if you are taller than about 5'5" and larger than a size 8, you are in trouble. (Of course, that does remind me of that line in The Devil Wears Prada: "Size "6" is the new "14".)

I did learn this much: Trying to sleep standing up and leaning against the wall in back of the plane on a 13 hour flight exacerbates jet lag.

Meanwhile, Fr. Michael Sweeney was stuck in a middle seat, without cigarettes, for 13 hours. Fortunately, his friends had insisted that he take Valium before boarding.

Have I mentioned the glamour of the mendicant life lately? My condolences to all on board.
Wanted: Athletic Aryans with a Passion for Housekeeping PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 20 June 2007 08:24
David Brooks has a witty and disturbing piece over at Godspy about the fruit of popularized genetic engineering.

At this very moment thousands of people are surfing the Web looking for genetic material so their children will be nothing like me.

When given this kind of freedom of choice, people seem to want to produce athletic Aryans with a passion for housekeeping. There is tremendous market demand for DNA from blue-eyed, blond-haired, 6-foot-2 finely sculpted hunks who roast their own coffee. These are the kind of guys you see jogging in the park and nothing moves. They’ve got a stomach, a chest and flanks, but as they bounce along nothing jiggles, not even their hair. They’re like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime from the shoulders down, and Trent Lott from the scalp up.

Nor is brainpower neglected. In a bow to all that is sacred in our culture, one sperm bank has one branch located between Harvard and M.I.T. and the other next to Stanford. An ad in The Harvard Crimson offered $50,000 for an egg from a Harvard woman. A recent ad in the Chicago Maroon at the University of Chicago offered $35,000 for a Chicago egg and stipulated, “You must be very healthy, very intelligent and very attractive, and most of all, very happy. Liberal political views and athletic ability are pluses.”


Except for the height - and the hair - it all sounds distressingly like Fr. Mike, apparently a member of a tribe of mid-western ubermensch to which my clan was not invited.

Back to David Brooks:

In any case, a Harris poll suggested that more than 40 percent of Americans would use genetic engineering to upgrade their children mentally and physically. If you get social acceptance at that level, then everybody has to do it or their kids will be left behind.

Which means that sooner or later reproduction becomes a casting call for “Baywatch” and people like me become an evolutionary dead end. For centuries my ancestors have been hewing peat in Wales and skipping school in Ukraine, but those of us in the low-center-of-gravity community will be left on evolution’s cutting-room floor.

Sherry's note:

Or in the case of my family, serfdom in Prussia. I've see the 200 plus year old manumission papers.

Of course, the struggle that short men face is similar to the reaction that exceptionally tall women get. Consider what it feels like, as a woman, to be the tallest person in a nation of 260 million people as I seemed to be in Indonesia. Imagine being lost, and on foot, walking through small Muslim villages at a time of Muslim/Christian tension with a frame that simply shrieks "not-of-this-gene-pool-westerner". Imagine the rising anxiety of my Indonesian hosts who were walking with me.

People would ask me if I was Dutch. Being considered "Dutch" in Indonesia was not a compliment since the Dutch had been their colonial overlords for centuries and were not known and loved for their benign ways. There is a Indonesian term for white westerner that is not polite and translates roughly to "white buffalo". That just about summed up how I was feeling. It didn't help to try and explain that I am the smallest and shortest member of my family. We are simply too far out there on the bell curve.

So I have a feeling that exceptionally tall estrogen-based life forms with a familial history of mental illness will not be part of this brave new world either.

As lay apostles called to promote a culture of life, what can we do? Comments?
International Theology of the Body Symposium PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 20 June 2007 07:46
The National Catholic Reporter has a thorough and very interesting article on the first International Symposium on the Theology of the Body held in Gaming, Austria last May.

I do like this definition:

"chastity is considered in the broad sense as “the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being” (Catechism, No. 2337)."
And I found this particularly interesting:

"What led John Paul II to his remarkable thesis that married love is nothing less than an icon of the self-giving love of the Blessed Trinity?

Dominican Father Jaroslaw Kupczak, who holds the chair of theological anthropology at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow, Poland, followed the trail back to the Second Vatican Council.

He noted that before the council, Karol Wojtyla’s writings on spousal love, such as Love and Responsibility, were primarily philosophical in nature.

It was only after the council that Wojtyla began to refer to the Trinitarian foundations of love between husband and wife.

The first time he expressly did so was in a 1974 article, “The Family as a Communion of Persons.” Father Kupczak did not hesitate to make the claim that Vatican II transformed Karol Wojtyla the philosopher into Wojtyla the theologian."

A Prince of Song Revealed PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 19 June 2007 12:03
From Keith Strohm.

Simply lovely - a frumpy, unassuming young cell phone salesman from Cardiff shows up on Britain's Got Talent and says he dreams of singing opera. You can see the judges flinch and then - well, watch and cheer.

Never underestimate a Welshman's way with a song.

By the way, Paul did ultimately win the national competition - and will be singing for the Queen.
Martyr's Walk in London PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 19 June 2007 10:55

Consider hopping the pond this weekend to be part of the Martyr's Walk beginning at Tower Hill and ending at Tyburn Convent in London.

As an Anglophile and student of recusant history, I'd enjoy something like that. I was moved to discover that two Anne Weddells - mother and daughter - had been imprisoned in York with St. Margaret Clitheroe for the crime of being Catholic. That's when I started using my middle name - Anne.

The picture above is of the famous "Shambles" in York - the medieval butcher's street where Margaret Clitheroe lived and offered such costly hospitality to priests in hiding and fellow Catholics.

I've posted a life of St. Margaret Clitheroe here.
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