Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Disclaimer: It bears repeating that not all Quincy House residents, alumni, friends, sponsors, fans, well-wishers, etc., share the opinions of this post's author.

Barbara Nicolosi has some interesting thoughts on the movie Bella here. She describes much of what I had feared would be the case, and it fits with what I've been hearing from friends who have seen the movie.

I think the Bella phenomenon is another case of Calvinist-influences in our culture confusing a lot of Catholics as to what the relationship between the True and the Beautiful is. Producing a film with an aim of conveying the truth does not guarantee that the film will be beautiful; and furthermore, there's a way in which ugly art lies (and this is more than a simple matter of poor execution causing ambiguity), but that's another post...

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Monday, October 29, 2007

A Little Close To Home...

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Human Experience

It seems there are a spate of Catholic movies being made these days; I recently received an email recommend for this one.

In terms of genre it looks to be rather interesting, something that sort of fits in the category of "documentary" but really pushes the boundaries of that label in a way that began only a few years ago.

To be honest, the trailer seemed a little bit over the top, playing up the evil and inhumanity in the world in a way that, while not strictly false, came off flat. Nevertheless, that could just be the trailer. A more interesting question might be that of audience: Who is this film intended for? Because - in spite of the name, The Human Experience - the film clearly takes a Christian, even Catholic view of the world. I happen to share such a world-view, but I wonder how marketable such a film is. If they're hoping for a broad market appeal, they may have shot themselves in the foot by dropping a few too many Christian images, using too much Christian language. Still, the very fact of the film's title suggests that they understand the basic idea behind a broad appeal: it has to be on the basis of that which all men share, namely the human experience.

On the other hand, perhaps the film is really only designed for consumption by Christians. And maybe that's not such a bad thing. While the goal these days is usually to make blockbuster films that will convert the whole world, a more limited task may be called for. After all, a film that specifically aimed at touching a Christian audience and encouraged them to live out their faith in a more vibrant way would have the virtue of being able to focus on doing a single thing and doing it well. Such a film would be addressing an audience which speaks the same language as its producers, the language of Christian faith. That's not a recipe for reaching the masses, but it might be just the sort of thing someone should do.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

A Speech That Never Had To Be Given

To: H. R. Haldeman, Chief of Staff
From: Bill Safire, Presidential Speech Writer

July 18, 1969


Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.

A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to "the deepest of the deep," concluding with the Lord's Prayer.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

What's this movie actually about...?

"Very Catholic." "Very pro-life." In spite of the intense media blitz, that's all I've really heard about the film Bella which - if you didn't know - comes out tomorrow. So I sat down and watched the trailer this morning. In the interest of adding some substance to all the noise, I figured I'd share it with you, readers of the Quincy House Blog.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

We all do it...

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Proof There's a Shortage of Peacemakers

The BBC reports:

Climate change campaigner Al Gore and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The committee cited "their efforts to build up and disseminate knowledge about man-made climate change". Mr Gore, US vice-president under Bill Clinton, said he was "deeply honoured".

Did no one reconcile warring factions or netogiate a peace process or dig up land mines in the last year?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sign of a Culture in Trouble: Commuter Marriages

An article I read recently in Time Magazine truck me as particularly disturbing and worthy of sharing. There's a growing trend of married couples living at long distances. Quite euphemistically--and ironically, I might point out--these cases are being terms "commuter marriages." But whatever you call it, there are now millions of American's living this way.

Unconventional? Yes. Unusual? Not exactly. Commuter marriages, in which couples live apart for long stretches, are multiplying. Their number jumped 30%, to 3.6 million, from 2000 to 2005... While military deployments, migratory jobs and economic need have long forced couples around the world to live apart, in America today, it is more often the woman's career that drives the separation.

Whereas in the past it was expected that the wife would, whenever possible, follow her husband wherever his career took him, this is no longer the case. Now she can have her job in New York and he can have his in Los Angeles, and everybody wins, including the kids:

Even the arrival of kids doesn't necessarily end the arrangement. The [2005] census counts 817,000 children under 18 who have married parents living apart for reasons other than marital discord.

Of course, if there are roughly 3.6 million commuter marriages this means less than 1 child per 4 commuter marriages, so most of these couples just aren't having kids.

But why marry then? No kids. No time with your spouse. Why bother?

Is it the safety of retaining the independence of being self-actualized in one's career (whatever that means) while at the same time possessing an other and avoiding the unpleasant business of getting to know him/her in the kind of up-close and person way cohabitation entails? Is it easier? Whatever the reason, it's a distressing trend.

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Muslim scholars reach out to Pope

Just in from the BBC:

More than 130 Muslim scholars have written to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders urging greater understanding between the two faiths. It was also sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the heads of the Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist churches, the Orthodox Church's Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and other Orthodox Patriarchs.

The letter says that world peace could depend on improved relations between Muslims and Christians. It identifies the principles of accepting only one god and living in peace with one's neighbours as common ground between the two religions. It also insists that Christians and Muslims worship the same god.

The letter comes on the anniversary of an open letter issued to the Pope last year from 38 top Muslim clerics, after he made a controversial speech on Islam. It also coincides with the Eid al-Fitr celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan.

The letter, entitled A Common Word Between Us and You, compares passages in the Koran and the Bible, concluding that both emphasise "the primacy of total love and devotion to God", and the love of the neighbour. With Muslims and Christians making up more than half the world's population, the letter goes on, the relationship between the two religious communities is "the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world." "As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes," the letter says. It adds: "To those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony."

One of the signatories, Dr Aref Ali Nayed, a senior adviser at the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme at Cambridge University, told the BBC that the document should be seen as a landmark. "There are Sunnis, Shias, Ibadis and even the... Ismailian and Jaafari schools, so it's a consensus," he said. Professor David Ford, director of the programme, said the letter was unprecedented. "If sufficient people and groups heed this statement and act on it then the atmosphere will be changed into one in which violent extremists cannot flourish," he said in a statement.

The letter was signed by prominent Muslim leaders, politicians and academics, including the Grand Muftis of Bosnia and Hercegovina, Russia, Croatia, Kosovo and Syria, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the former Grand Mufti of Egypt and the founder of the Ulema Organisation in Iraq.

The full text of the letter can be found in PDF on the BBC's website.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Does Doubt Belong to Faith?

First Things has an interesting piece I recommend reading here. While there has been quite a lot said on the subject of Bl. Teresa of Calcutta's 'doubt' since the publication of Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, I think this brief article by Fr. Edward Oakes, S.J. addresses the heart of it.

Mother Teresa’s darkness was a direct result of the actions of Jesus on her soul... she became Christ’s own chosen instrument, living out the same reparative suffering that had already brought redemption to the world—but which now has to be continued by the members of his Body, the Church.

We in the Church are all called to shared in Christ's reparative suffering. This is the way of Love.