See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Some odd goings-on in my garden...

The Saturday before Easter...
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So there I was... seated in my garden room ...overlooking the garden of course... listening to Prokoviev's Lt. Kije Suite.  Suddenly, tiptoeing through the hedges, I noticed a large brownish and henna colored rabbit, dressed in waistcoat, rose colored ascot, and tuxedo collared shirt, smoking a pipe.  I should mention he also was wearing a rather smart pair of midnight-blue and white stripped knickers - his little white tail puffing out the back nicely.  Upon one arm he carried what seemed to me to be quite a large basket for his size, woven from the branches and bark of my hedge.  "Ah, so that is why part of my hedge-row is dying off." - I grumbled to myself. 
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Into the basket - which was really quite lovely - a rather plump female rabbit, dressed in a soft, yellow-pastel schmatta, protected by a lace-trimmed periwinkle print apron, and wearing a little white bonnet nicely fitted with ear-holes, placed what appeared to be gaily colored Easter eggs onto the pastel  grasses, mosses, and lichens which lined the interior.  Amongst these were foil wrapped chocolate bunnies and jelly bean eggs of every color one could imagine. 
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As I rose from my chair to get a better look, I noticed several baby bunnies romping in the still sleeping hosta bed.  My movement must have alerted the adults, as Mr. Rabitowitz quickly took a sip from his flask - which seemed to come out of nowhere - kissed the Missus and hopped away in a flash.  I leapt to the window to see which direction he went, but he was gone, as were Mrs. Rabitowitz and the children.
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"How very odd."  I mumbled to myself.

"Organized moral panic"

This morning Fr. Z posted a really interesting piece from Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne: Is priestly paedophilia a problem? Yes, says an Italian sociologist. Is it a big problem? No.  I think it is right on the mark.
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Two characteristic elements exist: a fact which serves as a starting point, and an exaggeration of this fact by moral entrepreneurs.

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The current discourse on paedophile priests – considered from a sociological perspective – represents a typical example of "moral panic". The concept was coined in the 1970s to explain how certain problems become the subject of "social hyperconstruction". More precisely, moral panics are defined as socially constructed problems that are characterised by a systematic amplification of the true facts in the media or in political discourse.
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Two other characteristics have been cited as typical of moral panics. First, problems that have existed for decades are reconstructed in the media and political accounts as new or as the subject of a recent dramatic increase. Second, their incidence is exaggerated by statistics plucked from the air which, while not confirmed by academic studies, are repeated by the media and inspire persistent media campaigns. Historian and sociologist Philip Jenkins, of Pennsylvania State University, has emphasised the role of "moral entrepreneurs" in the creation and management of panics whose agenda is not always revealed.
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Moral entrepreneurs (who) organize the panic...
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This at a time when political, juridical and even electoral decisions in Europe and elsewhere are being made about the abortion pill RU-486, euthanasia, the recognition of same sex unions. Only the voice of the Pope and the Church is being raised to defend life and the family. The reading of certain articles in the media shows that very powerful lobby groups are seeking to silence this voice with the worst possible defamation—and unfortunately an easy one to make—that of favouring or tolerating paedophilia. - Read more here.
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We have to be extremely discerning these days regarding the press - I believe this article from Fr. Z is helpful to keep in mind while reading and listening to all the sensationalized hype surrounding the attacks against the Church and the Pope.  I also think Elizabeth Lev's article, In Defense of the Catholic Clergy (Or Do We Want Another Reign of Terror?) compliments the theory of Massimo Introvigne rather well.
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Image:  Nazi Anti-Catholic Propaganda Poster (Click the link and read the caption.)

A great silence...

Thoughts between Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday...
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Technically I am offline - meaning I'm not reading the news or other blogs, neither am I posting - I assembled a few photos for Good Friday, but that is all.  Nevertheless, I thought I would jot down a few thoughts from my observance of these Holy Days - just personal reflections, nothing more, nothing important either.
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Holy Thursday I prayed a rosary late, as if I was with him in the garden, and then like the disciples I went to bed.  I was actually awakened 3 or 4 times during the night, and each time my first thought was his prayer, alone, and I united myself to his prayer, wondering about it, until I fell back to sleep.  The last time I woke up it seemed to me Our Lord would have been arrested by then... at least confronted by Judas and the soldiers.  I wondered why the youth who ran off was wearing only a loin cloth, and in my sleepiness, I began to fixate on that question.
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When I got up, my usual prayer, "Show us your face O Lord, and we shall be saved" seemed particularly poignant, recalling how Jesus looked at Peter after he had denied him 3 times... and naturally, I became distracted by the thought of trying to figure out at what time the cock first crows.
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Later, my prayer focused upon the passage from Isaiah on the suffering servant... watching... following... listening in silence.  Throughout the first hours of the day I kept wondering precisely where Jesus would have been at each moment - unable to recall the exact timeline of specific events.
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Somehow, Holy Week, and especially Good Friday, has always been very real for me - when I've observed it I should say - there was a time I wasn't practicing my faith.  These days seem to me to be timeless moments however - the Sacred Triduum that is.  There is no Mass, and I tell myself it is because we are living it as we solemnly commemorate the Passion, hence every moment is a sacrament, every thought of what went on in Jerusalem so many centuries ago, becomes a sort of transport back in time - as the events are re-presented for the soul.  Certainly the Passion is re-presented liturgically, and if one happens to be a mystic, perhaps they are re-enacted actually, but for the ordinary soul who just tries to pray - to be present to Christ in his sufferings - it seems to me time is suspended - and we are somehow there.  But I don't know how that is.
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Thus, even as we go about our daily duties and occupation, amid all the distractions and diversions which comprise our days, sounded by all the debates and conflicts of our times "as we make our rounds of the city" - as soon as we think of him, we glimpse him looking at us, "standing behind our wall... gazing through the windows... peering through the lattices..." 
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Nothing can separate us from his love...  "Stern as death is love, relentless as the nether-world is devotion; it's flames like the blazing fire of his heart...  Oh garden-dweller, my friends are listening for your voice... let me hear it!" * 
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Art:  Christ Carrying His Cross - Giampietrino
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*Scripture adapted from the Song of Songs

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Maundy Thursday: Foot Washing For People On the Go.

That's meaningful, huh?
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Photo credit.

I hate to see Lent end.

Maundy, Maundy...
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St. Benedict wrote in his rule that the monk's life should always have the character of lent - thus as in year's past, I hope to  carry over my Lenten penance after Easter.  (I'm not always successful of course.)  I love Lent and the intense devotion to the Sacred Passion of our Lord it inspires.  One Easter, when I was in the monastery, I remember being surprised to see Dom Philip praying the stations as usual before Lauds in the chapel.  Later in confession, I asked him about it.  He simply said, "Some mystics and pious tradition hold that whenever Our Lady was in Jerusalem, she traced the steps of her Son on his way to Calvary each day after his death and burial.  So I try to keep her company." 
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The Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper this evening.  It is the holiest time of the year for Christians.  These are the days I especially miss the old liturgy - I find the innovations that have crept into the new rites to be generally distracting.  For instance the big production in many parishes over the washing of the feet.  At Larry's blog, Acts of the Apostasy, I commented on his post dealing with the subject of foot washing, "To be honest, I wish foot washing was limited to the Cathedrals and not the novelty it has become in nearly every parish.  In fact, I wish it wasn't the novelty it has become in some Cathedrals."
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When I was young, the ritual seemed to be conducted with greater decorum and followed the rubrics, today it is often a bad theatrical production.  It's that active participation thing again I guess.  Nevertheless, I am Catholic and I am an obedient son of the Church.
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Links:
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Regulations for Washing of Feet Holy Thursday
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Interesting link to a trad site tracing the history of liturgical reforms.
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I know!

Just to be fair...


Cardinal Mahony went to bat for the Holy Father too.
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It seems to me everyone freely castigates the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles when he does something that doesn't suit their liturgical preferences, but when he gets on board defending the Holy Father, few seem to pay any attention.  That said - the Cardinal recently wrote his own defense of the Holy Father...
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While I have no personal information on some of the specific allegations against our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, when he served the Church of Munich in Germany, I am able to assert without hesitation the action steps which he undertook in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when he served as Prefect of that Congregation.
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Beginning in that dark year of 2002, the then Cardinal Ratzinger responded quickly and affirmatively to all of our requests for assistance here in the United States.
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Recall that Canon 1324, par. 4, states that in Canon Law a minor is a person under the age of 16 years. However, in the civil laws of the United States, a minor is deemed to be a person under the age of 18 years. After we brought this gap to the attention of Cardinal Ratzinger, the canonical age was also raised to 18 years to accommodate civil law in our country and in other countries.
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With respect to the processes of dealing with cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests in our Archdiocese, Cardinal Ratzinger and his Congregation responded swiftly and gave us advice on how to proceed with each of these cases. We never had delays or a lack of proper response.
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Whenever I proposed that a certain priest be returned to the lay state and no longer serve as a priest, the Congregation responded quickly and in accord with my recommendations. Whether the priest petitioned himself for a return to the lay state, or whether I insisted upon his return to the lay state, Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation responded in favor of the Church, not of the priest individually.
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Without the proactive and helpful assistance of Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation over these years, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles would never have been able to move forward aggressively to remove priests from ministry who were proved to be guilty of the sexual abuse of minors. - Finish reading here.
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As everyone knows by now, many Cardinals and Archbishops and Bishops (Cardinal Levada calls out the NYT) have rallied to the Holy Father's defense.  This is a wonderful sign of unity for the Church.  It makes me think of the prophetic vision of Don Bosco.
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H/T California Catholic Daily

Told ya it was Weakland's fault...

The weakest link.
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Furthermore, under canon law at the time, the principal responsibility for sexual abuse cases lay with the local bishop. Archbishop (Rembert) Weakland had from 1977 onward the responsibility of administering penalties to Father Murphy. He did nothing until 1996. It was at that point that Cardinal Ratzinger's office became involved, and it subsequently did nothing to impede the local process.
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In August 1998, Archbishop Weakland writes that he has halted the canonical trial and penal process against Father Murphy and has immediately begun the process to remove him from ministry. That same month, Father Murphy dies.
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The New York Times flatly got the story wrong. Readers may want to speculate on why. - Read more here.
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Art:  Smoke of Satan

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spy Wednesday

Sycophant
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I was at adoration most of the afternoon - never search through YouTube videos before you go to prayer - I was distracted for the first half hour.  A line from a sit-com segment I watched last night kept surfacing...  it was Karen Walker complaining, "Sheesh!  Ya try to be nice to people!" and I kept cracking up.  (You had to see the episode I guess.)
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Anyway, Aside from the readings and psalms for the day, I was most impressed with the short introduction from Pope Benedict's writings for today's Mass in Magnificat.  (Considering all that is going on these days.)
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"Judas is neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion.  But it is precisely this anonymous power that crucified Jesus, for it was anonymous voices that cried, 'Away with him!  Crucify him!'" - Pope Benedict XVI
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It is rather unnerving to ponder the betrayal of Judas...
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Art source.

How to Give a Manicure : How to Prevent Hangnails When Giving a Manicure

Boys Beware


The Catholic League says the ongoing Church abuse scandal is a homosexual crisis.
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President Bill Donohoe singles out The New York Times for allegedly getting the story wrong saying, "The Times continues to editorialize about the pedophilia crisis while all along it's been a homosexual crisis." - Source
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That pretty much sums it up.  I know, Donohoe can be abrasive and annoying when he speaks - I didn't see the Larry King interview last night because I don't have cable - but I'm sure he was at his best.  I actually kind of like the guy - he's so outrageous and flamboyant when he speaks, he cracks me up, but he's usually right on - although in some cases one might say he over-reacts to issues.  Anyway - I think he called a spade a spade in this case.  Unfortunately it just isn't a PC thing to say out loud.  (Mind you, I only read the blip I linked to above, not the NYT ad, nor did I see him on Larry King.)
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If people are really honest with themselves, they will understand that going after boys who have reached the age of puberty and older is gay - there is no getting around it.  If a priest went after a 7th or 8th grade boy - that is not paedophilia - middle-school aged boys have all the equipment ready to use...  Some (at times I think most) gay men have some form of arrested development emotionally and sexually - stuck in adolescence that is - I'm not saying all homosexuals are after young men of course.  I know, I know - no one wants to admit such a thing in our highly sexualized culture; popular culture in particular is fixated upon narcissistic adolescent behavior and sexual appetites.  In other words, popular culture is 'gay'.  My opinion of course. 
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That said, last night I posted a video entitled Boys Beware - it is an educational film that would have been shown in a high school Health class in the late 1950's and early '60's.  Today such a film cries out for satire and indeed it was posted as such on YouTube to make fun of old fashioned morality.  At the time, things were very different.  Obviously the film was shot before the American Psychological Association changed the rules so to speak and declared homosexuality was no longer a neurosis - after much pressure by homosexual activists of course.  Likewise, homosexual acts were still considered criminal.  And to be sure, public sex (in a restroom or a theater) was not only a crime, but a shameful act.  In those days society rarely even uttered the word homosexual.
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Keep these things in mind if you watch the video here:  Boys Beware.  The film doesn't say or prove that all homosexual men were attracted to boys - 'chicken' in the gay parlance of the day - although fact is, some guys were, and others might have taken advantage of a situation given the opportunity.  As we all know, kids today are taught about alternative lifestyles in school, sexual morality is no longer repressed, while middle and high school kids are encouraged to come out in public shools.  
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I'm not attacking homosexuals here - I'm just saying...  I was never molested by women but by homosexual men.  Hence I think Donohoe makes a valid point:  The vast majority of the cases involving sexual abuse of minors in the Church was by and large a homosexual issue.
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[Oh!  Oh!  And I'm not saying all priests with homosexual issues were/are predators or molestors or gay either.]
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All rightey then.

I just don't know what to post anymore...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Before you drop me...

I just want to welcome all of my new followers... I've never had so many...  thank you.
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They never stay around for long though - so don't feel bad.

"He walked in peace through the midst of them." - Luke 4:30

Holy Week stuff...
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While at my job, I got to the point where I never minded working on Good Friday (or any other day during Holy Week) as I liked to imagine it was quite in keeping with what went on in Jerusalem during the Passion of Christ, not to mention that it is always the right penance for those who must work for a living - after all, it is the fulfillment of the duties of our state in life which constitutes the penance most pleasing to God.  In Jerusalem it was probably business as usual for most of the residents, save for those interested in stirring things up and causing a riot.  In our day, the situation seems to be much the same.
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Consider how roughly Jesus was treated, amid shouts and cries and accusations; slander, calumny, contempt, buffets and spitting.  Simon was simply coming in from the field - coming into the city after his labors, only to be shouldered with the cross, to help Jesus on his way.  Perhaps I simplify this too much, but I can't help but recall the Gospel passage from the episode wherein the townsfolk sought to throw Jesus over the brow of the hill, and Luke writes, "Christ walked in peace through the midst of them".  Likewise, throughout all the chaos and jostling of his tormentors and the crowd, I believe Jesus carried his cross in peace - through the midst of them.
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I've calmed down now, after the sensationalized headlines across the globe, accusing the Holy Father of this and that as regards the sexual abuse scandal.  This has been business as usual for the secular world, and those who hate the Church - and we ought not to be surprised, yet somehow we always are.  I finally realize at least I do not have to explain anything, or defend any one.  Instead, like the Cyrenean, I will simply shoulder the cross with Christ and his Vicar...
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For good informative posts on the false charges against the Holy Father, as well as background information of the major news stories, I'm providing a couple of links to some very good commentary:
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The Anchoress: Praying for the Pope and for All
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Idle Speculations: 'Calling Cardinal Newman' and 'NY Archbishop Defends Pope'
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Stella Borealis - Ray created a great index with other good articles on the issue.
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Art: William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - Compassion (1897)

Monday, March 29, 2010

After The Rapture Pet Care

I posted this for Cathy of Alex - she has kids - I mean cats.

Before I forget...

Pier Giorgio's birthday is April 6. 
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Link to the birthday novena here.

Rape of the soul: Sexualizing religious art.

Eidolons.
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A couple of years ago, I happened upon a post on Athanasius Contra Mundum concerning a documentary film by Michael Calace titled, Rape of the Soul.  Calace billed himself as one of the world's few experts on embedded imagery in art - specifically Roman Catholic religious art.  I posted on the subject but removed my post because there was a conflict about copyright or something to that effect.  I received an email from the production company, insisting I correct a detail in my post or face legal action - it is so long ago, I can't recall the exact language.  I responded by taking down the post and assuring them I simply employed the premise on which their documentary was based to discuss my personal observations regarding the subject, although I was rather skeptical about a couple of the examples Calace pointed to in the film.  They seemed to be satisfied I wasn't an enemy, and in turn sent me a complimentary DVD of the documentary and asked if I would share my opinion after I viewed it.  I set the DVD aside and forgot about it.  I only came across it yesterday while organizing my desk.
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I watched it.  I can't believe I endured it to the end.  Portions of the documentary are on YouTube - check it out here.  Calace suggests the existence of varied conspiracy theories (for lack of a better word), such as between Oregon Catholic Press and Catholic illustrator/artist Steve (Br. Martin) Erspamer.  Oregon Catholic Press used many of Erspamer's illustration for their missals and other Church publications.  In the video we see Calace extract eidolons from the backgrounds and penwork of Erspamer's work, which he hi-lights, extracts and manipulates to demonstrate the presence of phallic symbols, the word s-e-x, a swastika, and so on.  The film is so far over the top it makes the Dan Brown novels seem like great literature.
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A 2006 film review by the Boston Globe sums it up better than I have time to do...
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''The Rape of the Soul" is a fear-mongering, small-minded, and pathetically smutty polemic about art and the Roman Catholic Church. Presented as a documentary by filmmaker and self-described devout Catholic Michael A. Calace, the film seeks to discredit ''predatory artists" from da Vinci and Botticelli to anonymous designers of contemporary greeting cards.
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Calace's mission: To reveal all the satanic faces, genitalia, spellings of the word sex, and other evidence of evil lurking in painted clouds, shadows, and designs in art related to the Catholic Church. Freud had an eye out for phallic symbols, but he would have had nothing on Calace, who sees penises everywhere he looks. He could find an orgy in a bowl of oatmeal.
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Calace pits the forces of good, led by himself and a bevy of talking heads he calls experts, against the forces of evil: artists and church officials. Along the way, he lassos in the sexual abuse crisis in the church, vaguely equating his findings -- he calls them ''embeds" -- with that scandal. Unidentified still photos of convicted sexual offenders such as John Geoghan float across the screen as child psychologist Judith Reisman speaks about the damaging effects of child abuse.
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Imagery is often designed to play directly to a viewer's unconscious.  That's the nature of propaganda, and of advertising.  But Calace's suggestion that the Archdiocese of Toronto (to name only one) is intentionally leading its flock down a road of sexual depravity and satanic worship by posting on its website an image rife with phalluses and demon faces is ludicrous." - Cate McQuaid, Boston Globe
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I worked in marketing and visual arts, as a painter myself, I know design can be manipulated to speak to the viewer's unconscious.  Yet as McQuaid suggests, "That's the nature of propaganda, and of advertising."  Subliminal imagery has been popularly known about since the 1960's - it is not a secret.  To suggest that medieval artists were using it to sexualize sacred art is quite a stretch.
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To be sure, genre works such as still life may have been sexually suggestive over the centuries, but the very idea that a naively painted outline of the abdominal muscles on the corpus of the San Damiano crucifix represents a phallus is as ludicrous an idea as the Paschal candle represents a phallic symbol in liturgy.  These are modern concepts, modern interpretations often emanating from people consciously or unconsciously obsessed by such imagery.  Modern art is filled with sexual images - artists such as Picasso, Dali, and Warhol unabashedly wove erotica into their work, based upon Freudian psychological theory.  My guess is that many men and women in the United States have been conditioned by our highly sexualized culture since infancy - especially those who grew up in front of the television and video games.  Michael Calace seems to prove that in his documentary.
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What surprises me about these guys - Calace and those who buy into his crap - is that they are well educated people, devout traditionalist Catholics, and family men.  What went wrong?
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Art:  Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Marriage.
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Near the end, the lunacy reaches a peak when Calace derides Jan van Eyck's 1434 painting ''The Arnolfini Marriage."  No genitalia here, praise be. Instead, Calace observes that the figures eerily resemble Vladimir Putin and his wife. - Boston Globe
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Notice 'Mrs. Putin' has her veil on. 
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Link:
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You also have to watch this clip - Archdiocese of Toronto Embeds Sex & Horror Art Subliminals  - it is lol funny.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Supporting the Holy Father


Though it is all balled up from the wind today, I have the papal flag flying outside my front door in support of the Holy Father.
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“Pray, pray very much for the Holy Father, for he will have much to suffer”. - Our Lady at Fatima
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The Sacred Made Real

The exhibition is currently at the National Gallery in Washington, DC

Passion Sunday

Or Palm Sunday.
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Ever since I was little and read the Little Flowers of St. Francis, this day reminds me of St. Francis and St. Clare.  It was after the festivities of Palm Sunday that St. Francis permitted St. Clare* to slip away unnoticed and enter religious life...  Like their founders, the Poor Clares remain especially devoted to the Sacred Passion of Our Lord.
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Art:  "Crucifixion" - Another masterpiece by John Collier.
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Link:
*Legend of St. Clare - Thomas of Celano
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