Monday, March 31, 2008

How To Be Emo

Warning: Video contains some use of taboo speech


Friday, March 28, 2008

A Brief History of the Modern Deaconate

I stumbled upon this history today and - quite surprised by the origins of the modern permanent diaconate - thought I would share. This passage comes from the website of the Archdiocese of Washington:

The Permanent Diaconate did not surface again for more than a thousand years. At the height of World War II, a group of Catholic men imprisoned at the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau buried the remains of hundreds of people who were murdered in the infamous gas chambers. In the midst of this dehumanizing environment of pain and cruelty, these men prayed for the courage to believe. They offered support and encouragement to all the nameless and voiceless ones around them. Somehow they kept faith alive, sustained hope, and witnessed to God's unconditional love.

Through not ordained and, totally unaware that what they were accomplishing would have worldwide significance, these men in Dachau became the restorers of the modern permanent diaconate. They were true "servants in the image of Jesus." After the war ended, these men continued to meet and work for the awakening in every Christian of a commitment to justice through service and stewardship. They were called, "the Deacon Circle."

In the years that followed, additional groups emerged throughout Germany, France, and Eastern European countries. These "Deacon Circles" were the first role models for an emerging lay apostolate which Pope Pius XII urged each diocesan church to nurture as a way of transforming every aspect of society.

In 1959, an International Diaconate Circle was organized. This organization prepared the way for the eventual restoration of the diaconate by drafting a petition asking that the diaconate be restored and, that it be opened to both married and single men. The Vatican received the final petition from the International Diaconate Circle in 1962. From there several of the Council Fathers, mostly from Germany, went on to develop a compilation of thirty-nine essays, called Diakonia in Christo, which addressed various aspects of ministry which could be carried out by a modernized permanent diaconate as well as the enormous value of such an ordained ministry to the Church.

In the course of the Vatican II discussions that followed, the permanent diaconate was restored by a majority vote of the Council on October 30, 1963. The restoration of the diaconate was promulgated as part of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church which was released on November 21, 1964.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Two Cows, Catholic Style

You may have seen the two cows explanations of politics. For example, "Communism: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk." Well, someone has gone to the trouble of putting together Catholic versions of the two cow metaphor. (Some are better than others.) We reproduce them here, for your reading pleasure:

Benedictine: You have two cows. You use one to preserve the art of animal husbandry for all time. You kill the other and make intricate, colored markings on its hide.

Cistercian: You have two cows. And a more extraordinary method of procuring milk.

Trappist: You have two cows. You do not appreciate their mooing, yet require their milk to craft high quality fudge. You assign them to a novice.

Franciscan: You have two cows. Moved by the beauty of sister cow, you unleash them. Your ensuing lack of milk allows you to glory in the poverty of Christ.

Dominican: You have two cows. You feel as if you should share one with the Franciscans, but can’t bring yourself to trust them with it.

Carmelite: By concession of Pope Innocent IV, you have two cows. You don’t eat them between Sept. 14 and Easter.

Discalced Carmelite: You have two cows. You feed them by arduously dragging hay to their tough, but then you deliver it by truck. Ultimately, abundant hay falls effortlessly from the sky.

Jesuit: You have two cows, but everyone from Louis XIV to Pastor John at 1st Community Baptist believe you control the cattle industry. Admittedly, you founded many farms in the bovine tradition, but struggle with what bovinity means in the 21st century.

Salesian: You have no cows, but work to improve the welfare of calves orphaned by factory farming. You are a visionary when it comes to cattle futures.

Opus Dei: You have two donkeys, and tend to them very carefully. You never admit that you engage in this work, but are delighted to meet other covert donkey owners.

Communion and Liberation: You have two cows, and bring them to huge annual gatherings. You speak to them only in the present tense.

SSPX: You have two cows. You raise them precisely according to USDA standards, c. 1950. One cow denies that the USDA exists and runs off to take care of itself.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Visualize Encyclicals - Spe Salvi

One of the hip features of many "Web 2.0" sites are things called Tag Clouds. A Tag Cloud is a cluster of words that helps people to visualize content by giving larger sizes to words that have a greater frequency. It occurred to me that it may be interesting to take this tool to visualize a church document or two. So here you have it, Spe Salvi goes web 2.0

created at

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This is How We Do It

If you've ever been at Quincy late at night, when most of the guests have gone home, the drink is flowing freely and maybe a competitive game of cards is being played, you know that what Paul calls "taboo speech" sometimes comes out. For those who have never heard the Quincy men swear, it sounds something like this:

(To see a larger version, simply click the image.)

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Your Life

Even if you're not in academia, I suspect we all feel like this is our lives sometimes.

(Click on the image if you'd like to see a larger version.)

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Me Not You - or - The Coolest Video with a Toaster. Ever.

After last night's rockin' Mike Mangione concert at Quincy (which, btw, make the official list of tour stops), I figured I should post this amazing music video.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Foreign Policy Has a Sex Appeal

Why sex and foreign policy aren’t as different as you might think

By Colin Parks

Would you believe that having sex can provide you with a better guide to effective foreign policy than any political theory out there? In fact, if our policy makers spent more time nurturing their sex lives, they could find themselves more attuned to the most effective tools of statecraft. This should come as no surprise and I’ll tell you why.

In order to have sex, you have three options. You can buy it, i.e. prostitution; you can take it by force, i.e. rape; or you can seduce it, i.e. the art of romance. Buying sex is usually only a temporary fix and an expensive one at that; most prostitutes don’t offer blue-light specials. Furthermore, it might not be the most desirable experience unless a dingy motel room, cheap champagne, and the incessant glow of neon lights is your idea of a romantic getaway. Forcing sex might be desirable for some but for most it simply isn’t worth the likely consequences, i.e. spending the rest of your life behind bars in an orange jump suit contemplating escape with a spoon and a bed spring.

How then, do you use seduction to get sex? You first need to possess certain elements of attraction such as good looks, an appealing personality, and some sort of alluring feature that compels your intended companion to get a little frisky with you; generally a few sprays of cologne will turn the trick. Second, you need to have a strategy; sex on first contact isn’t usually the rule but rather the exception. You need to take the time to get to know your companion, i.e. enduring a few awkward dates, engaging in conversation more enlightening than the weather, and actually noticing little things like eye color and the type of shoes your companion is wearing; observing bust size doesn’t qualify! Finally, you have to set the mood; a few candles and some sultry music will do. A little tender, loving, care can go a long way so don’t be afraid to sharpen your massage skills. What’s more, when the deed is done, you can’t just fall asleep or abruptly leave. It pays to cuddle and stay around for breakfast. While it might take a bit longer and require more finesse, if executed skillfully seduction can result in quality, long lasting, and meaningful sex, without the messy consequences of prostitution or rape.

So why is sex similar to foreign policy? If it isn’t already apparent, nations have three options when deciding how to achieve a particular foreign policy objective. Like sex, they can buy it, i.e. with bribery or economic sanctions; they can take it, i.e. with military force; or they can seduce it, i.e. creating an allure via soft power. The first two options are hard power methods frequently used to coerce or compel an adversary to succumb to your will, tangible instruments that clearly indicate a nation’s desire to alter behavior or gain the advantage in a given scenario. However, these options can have dire consequences. Economic sanctions, bribery, and war can be costly, extremely risky, and lacking in quality assurance. Moreover, military force and the careless use of economic sanctions can produce damaging ripple effects that can be difficult to suppress. One only needs to look at the situation in Iraq to ascertain that the friction and uncertainty of war can create more problems than solutions, and the case of Cuba to realize that buying your objectives doesn’t necessarily work.

The seduction of soft power attempts to alleviate some of the pains associated with the misuse of hard power by using public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy to persuade an adversary rather than coerce it. This implies confidence in one’s ideals and principles, and a willingness and ability to export them. For the United States, this means accentuating our most appealing qualities such as democracy, the rule of law, plurality, and freedom. It also means tapping into the alluring features of culture such as music and art. These elements can potentially convince an adversary to view the U.S. in a more positive light; a nation that finds us attractive is more likely to emulate our behavior and subsequently comply with our demands. Like a seductress, however, the purveyor of soft power must be patient and willing to invest in a little TLC.

So maybe the hippie mantra “Make Love, Not War!” has a point. If we take the time to seduce our target and tap into the softer side of foreign policy, we have a greater chance of securing our foreign policy objectives in a manner that ensures lasting relationships. Like a good lover, the U.S. must be willing to sustain its soft power initiatives over time by not abandoning these initiatives when the deed is done and sticking around for a little cuddle time.

Colin Parks is a graduate student at The Institute of World Politics in Washington where he studies the elements of statecraft in national security and foreign affairs. He can be contacted at,

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Friday, March 07, 2008

The Vatican Through an Ambassador's Eye

The Vatican Through an Ambassador's Eye

Accompanying the U.S. Envoy to the Holy See

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, MARCH 6, 2008 ( Art historians secretly dream of going back in time to see artistic masterpieces in their original environment, rather than as museum pieces. In their wildest flights of fancy, they fantasize about being part of that world.

Last Friday, this art historian lived that dream when I accompanied my mother, Mary Ann Glendon, as she presented her credentials to Benedict XVI as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

As we donned our black mantillas at the embassy residence, we were already entering into a different criterion of beauty and worth. Covered head to toe in long skirts and jackets, all I saw were the radiantly happy faces of my mother, sisters and daughters.

Click here to read more.

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Britain Kow Tows to China

The Daily Mail released a scathing article about the British Olympic committee's decision to gag its athletes at the Beijing Olympics. They write:

British Olympic chiefs are to force athletes to sign a contract promising not to speak out about China's appalling human rights record – or face being banned from traveling to Beijing.

The move – which raises the specter of the order given to the England football team to give a Nazi salute in Berlin in 1938 – immediately provoked a storm of protest....

From the moment they sign up, the competitors – likely to include the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips and world record holder Paula Radcliffe – will be effectively gagged from commenting on China's politics, human rights abuses or illegal occupation of Tibet.

Prince Charles has already let it be known that he will not be going to China, even if he is invited by Games organizers.

His views on the Communist dictatorship are well known, after this newspaper revealed how he described China's leaders as “appalling old waxworks” in a journal written after he attended the handover of Hong Kong. The Prince is also a long-time supporter of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader....

The [British Olympic Association] took the decision even though other countries – including the United States, Canada, Finland, and Australia – have pledged that their athletes would be free to speak about any issue concerning China.

To date, only New Zealand and Belgium have banned their athletes from giving political opinions while competing at the Games....

However, human rights campaigner Lord David Alton condemned the move as “making a mockery” of the right to free speech.

The controversial decision to award the Olympics to Beijing means this year's Games have the potential to be the most politically charged since 1936.

Adolf Hitler used the Munich Games that year to glorify his Nazi regime, although his claims of Aryan superiority were undermined by black American athlete Jesse Owens winning four gold medals.

More recently, there was a mass boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan....

Former Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent has already criticized the Chinese authorities over the training methods used on children, which he regarded as tantamount to abuse. Young gymnasts told him they were repeatedly beaten during training sessions....

Lord Alton said: “It is extraordinary to bar athletes from expressing an opinion about China's human-rights record. About the only justification for participating in the Beijing Games is that it offers an opportunity to encourage more awareness about human rights.

“Imposing compulsory vows of silence is an affront to our athletes, and in China it will be viewed as acquiescence.

“Each year 8,000 executions take place in China, political and religious opinion is repressed, journalists are jailed and the internet and overseas broadcasts are heavily censored.

“For our athletes to be told that they may not make any comment makes a mockery of our own country's belief in free speech.”

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Who's more Pro-Life?

My vitriol towards a particular Texas congressman's presidential bid is probably well known. However, after overhearing an absurd conversation while at work today, I feel the need to post a little bit of information. The National Right to Life organization puts together a file of how every member of Congress voted on key life issues, ranging from abortion to euthanasia to stem cell research. You can quibble with some of their selections, no doubt, but the gist of it is pretty sound.

Now John McCain scored 31 happy green check marks for pro-life votes and 11 unhappy red x's for anti-life votes. That's about what you'd expect, from what you hear in the media. The guy's pro-life on the most salient issues, but not "perfect" on some of the details.

What's interesting is that Ron Paul's record is not so different: 51 happy green checks and 16 unhappy red x's. (The disparity in totals is a result of votes which the congressmen either missed or in which they were ineligible to participate.) So in fact Ron Paul has voted against life more often than John McCain, and both of them have a ratio of about 3:1, pro-life to anti-life.

Detailed research might show that one member of congress missed more key votes in one direction than the other; it could be that one or both knew that the pro-life camp would carry the day and so they didn't mind missing certain counts. I don't know, but if you're bored you're welcome to look into the matter.

However, I think the basic point has been made. Dr. Ron Paul, deliverer of babies and champion of certain pro-life and conservative factions, is in fact not significantly different from John McCain when it comes to voting.

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