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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Priest at the Front Line

A Greek Orthodox priest attempts to stop a rioter hurling a Molotov cocktail at the police.

There are Still Old-Fashioned Protestants in Northern Ireland

From the Independent:
A music video shoot proved too raunchy for a farmer, who called a halt to filming on his land over the singer's "inappropriate" attire.

The Bahamian pop star Rihanna stripped down to a red and white bikini top and jeans in a barley field near Bangor in Northern Ireland on Monday, prompting landowner Alan Graham to intervene.

"I realised things had got to a stage which were not acceptable to me," said the 61-year-old, who holds strong Christian beliefs. "Things became inappropriate and I asked the film crew to stop."
And they did, to their credit.
Mr Graham said he had not heard of Rihanna, 23, before her representatives requested the use of his 60-acre farm at Clandeboye.

"Someone explained she was as big as it gets as far as pop stars were concerned," said the father of four. "I am a bit illiterate about those issues."
You and me both, pal. Isn't she the one with a no-good-bum boyfriend who gets his jollies whacking her?
He hoped the singer understood where he was coming from.

"We had a conversation. We shook hands and parted company on good terms.
He seems like a decent chap.
"I wish no ill will against Rihanna and her friends. Perhaps they could acquaint themselves with a greater God."
'Twould be nice but I wouldn't hold your breath, sir.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Expunging the "C" Word

Back in the 'sixties there was a game show called You Don't Say! (whose host, Tom Kennedy, may well have been toothiest game show host in history, though with much competition, especially from the legendary Wink Martindale). In any event, Mr. Kennedy would always open (or close, I don't remember) the program with the pithy adage: "Remember, it's not what you say that counts, it's what you don't say!" Said pithy adage came to mind today upon learning, via the Cardinal Newman Society, a recent study found that on the home pages of Catholic college websites, more that 60% of them don’t identify the institution as being Catholic. It's as if they're embarrassed by it, or ashamed of it, or annoyed by it or worry they may scare off the atheists and the Moslems. Whatever.

In the end, however, those reticent Catholic colleges provide a useful service by their coyness. Prospective applicants (or their parents) who consider themselves orthodox may pretty much learn all they need to know about a putatively Catholic college and the sort of education it might offer if it is too squeamish to give even a cursory nod to the institution responsible for its very existence. They may safely click away from that site and look elsewhere. Should save them a lot of time.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

St. Omobono* Pray for Us

In the opening scene of the moving and terribly sad Clint Eastwood picture, Gran Torino, the protagonist, Walt Kowalski, attending his wife's funeral, looks with utter disgust upon his grandchildren as they pile into the pews, all of them dressed atrociously (one of them wearing a Detroit Lions football jersey, if memory serves). I watched that picture shortly after I was received into the Catholic Church and I must say my heart went out to Walt Kawalski.

That too many Catholics dress horribly (and often behave likewise) at Mass is a painful fact. My least favorite way of fulfilling my obligation, when I can't make the Latin Mass at Holy Innocents in Manhattan, is at my local Bronx parish's 5 p.m. Sunday Mass. A Catholic friend once instructed me to avoid at all costs Saturday Vigil Masses because liturgy and deportment are usually at their nadir in them. Not so, at my local parish. While the Saturday Vigil is certainly dreadful enough, the men and women attending it at least seem to take pains to don their very best tank tops and short-shorts. Sunday evening, things are far more casual, anything goes.

Now, I am happy to report, a Catholic deacon has had enough and is striking back:
Deacon Greg Kandra was well aware that modern Americans were getting more casual and that these laid-back attitudes were filtering into Catholic pews.

Still, was that woman who was approaching the altar to receive Holy Communion really wearing a Hooters shirt?

Yes, she was.

When did Catholics, he thought to himself, start coming to Mass dressed for a Britney Spears concert? Had he missed a memo or something?

"Somewhere along the way, we went from neckties to tank tops, and from fasting to fast food. And it's getting worse," noted Kandra, a former CBS News writer with 26 years, two Emmys and two Peabody Awards to his credit. He is now a deacon assigned to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, a 3,000-member parish in Forest Hills, just north of New York City...

After the Hooters incident, he decided it was time to stop whining about the rising tide of irreverence and immodesty and to start griping about it right out in the open. Thus, Kandra and the parish's other clergy have resorted to appealing — in the parish bulletin and in public remarks — for a hint of sanity or even some old-fashioned decorum.

One bulletin item proclaimed, with a gag headline: "PLANS FOR PARISH SWIMMING POOL SCRAPPED! After much study, our finance committee has determined it would not be feasible to construct an indoor swimming pool in our church. ... As a result, we can now announce with certainty that those who have been arriving for Mass as if dressed for the pool need not do so. Also, we hope to keep the air conditioning cranking all summer long. So you do not need to wear shorts, halter tops or bikinis to Mass."
While I wish the good Deacon Kandra well, I don't hope out much hope for his success. I suspect Catholics will only dress better for church when the liturgy reflects the gravity of what is being re-enacted. When our clergy treat the death and resurrection of Our Lord in the casual way found in most Catholic Churches these days, the people will dress and act the part. Too bad, because their dress and manner no doubt reflects their attitude.

Many years before my conversion, I invited another Catholic friend of mine to attend Ash Wednesday services with me at my then Episcopal parish. It was not a particularly "high" church but they did take great care (and still do) that the Anglican liturgy (using the old 1928 Prayer Book) was done to the letter and spirit of the rubrics. My Catholic friend was duly impressed, not only by the liturgy and music but also by dignified manner of the congregants, not everyone dressed to the nines, perhaps, but respectably at least, looking as if they gave a damn--which they did.

*Patron saint of tailors.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Back to the Future

I have been regularly attending the Sunday 10 a.m. Missa Cantata at the Church of the Holy Innocents, in Manhattan's garment district, since the church started celebrating it late last year. Holy Innocents had already been celebrating a daily Latin Mass on weekdays for some time. With the addition of the Sunday Sung Mass, it could well be the only Catholic church in the country offering a Tridentine Mass every day.  Let us pray that is infectious.

And it could be: the first few Sung Masses at H.I. one could count the number of worshipers on one hand--two hands, if the weather was fine--but the number seems to have risen with each passing week. Fr. Kallumady, the pastor, has certainly noticed that and today he made grateful mention of the increased numbers in his homily. It is all the more gratifying since H.I. is not located in a residential neighborhood and most people attending Mass there must go through at least some trouble to get to the church (including your Bloviator). Interestingly, young worshipers seem to outnumber oldsters like myself, some of those young being of a decidedly "hipster" bent. I wonder if their attending the Tridentine Mass is in at least partial reaction to being subjected to the excruciating post-Vatican II "reforms" when they were growing up? That works for me and the irony of seemingly trendy young people turning up their noses at stale contemporary worship practices, whose grayed-haired proponents insist to this day are essential to attracting them to Mass, is delicious indeed.



Friday, September 02, 2011

I Rekkin That's a Purdy Good 'Murkin Accent Ya Got Thar, Pardner.

Go to the Telegraph and be amused at the photo essay: "When British Accents Go Bad," a compendium of movies set in in the UK with non-Brits, mostly Americans, cast as British characters, and whose mangling of Blighty patois is rightly described as "cringe-worthy." The Telegraph's picks are spot-on (you might say). There is, however, a crying need for the logical sequel to this piece: "When American Accents Go Bad," which gives us examples non-Americans having a go at American accents, with equally egregious results.

There are oh-so-many possible nominations for the dubious honor roll but I offer just one, the BBC's adaptation of Anthony Trollope's "The Way We Live Now," which nicely illustrates British cinema's propensity for assuming all Americans speak in laughably bad southern accents, regardless whence in America the characters may hale, which in this case is Kansas (Mrs. Hurtle) and California (Hamilton K. Fisker). Neither of the actors playing the parts are British; Miranda Otto is Australian, Michael Riley is Canadian (and should know better). The absurd and amateurish accents they effect must have been at the behest of the series' director, David Yates. Well, yippee ki-yay, old chap!

Readers on both sides of the pond are encouraged to offer their own pain-inducing examples of bad American accents in British flicks.