February 17, 2008

transfiguration An after-action report about the Mass I attended at St. Anne Catholic Church today.

One of the many things this particular parish does best is dress the church’s interior as a way to prepare visually those who attend Mass for worship at that particular time in the Church Year. For example, for Lent (where the seasonal color is purple and the sentiment of the season is humility and self-examination), the usual array of candles throughout have been reduced to just two on the altar, the large wall murals on both sides of the altar have been covered in a soft purple veil, and the triple arches behind the altar, ordinarily brightly illuminated, are now bathed in soft purple light. And lest anyone not get the idea of what lies at the end of the season, the large mural behind the altar and the arches stunningly depicts the Crucifixion in an iconic setting.

As usual, the music, while perhaps not the most memorable you’ll ever hear, was perfomed stunningly well. At St. Anne there are two female singers and one male; instrumentation is from piano and a single guitar. Simple, well done, and consistent in both execution and quality week in and out.

A word about the sermons – today the priest spoke about the Transfiguration. His sermon today, like all the others I’ve heard, was fairly short: not much more than 7 minutes or so. Some people might quibble about this sort of thing, wanting more of a message to take away with them, but I’m starting to get used to the fact that, unlike, say, in the Methodist, Episcopal, or even the Baptist traditions, the Roman Catholic priest is (refreshingly so, I might add) NOT the star of the show – that’s reserved for Christ and His Presence in the Holy Eucharist. A novel idea!

Still, I must add that, because most of the time Mass runs no more than 50 minutes or so, it’s difficult not to feel as if everything is over a little too quickly. Therefore, once you get there the emphasis must be on quality, not quantity! Since I don’t go up to receive the sacrament, I use that time for remaining quiet and simply allowing the music and the sounds of the people filtering back and forth to wash over me. And, strangely enough, even though I miss not being able to receive the sacrament, simply knowing I’m in God’s Presence as others receive the sacrament seems good enough for me, at least for now.

So there you have it – on this Saturday it was a Lenten feast for the senses. Never having attended a RC church during Lent (or Holy Week, for that matter), each week seems to reveal something new, and it’s something I have gotten used to looking forward to.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:39 | Comment (1)
February 15, 2008

So let’s say you’re the Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, titular head of the Church of England, mother church for the worldwide Anglican Communion, one of the foremost branches in Christian Protestantism. What sort of qualities, do you think, you would need to possess? Certainly faith and trust in Jesus Christ, of course – after all, you’d have to be a Christian, right? Confidence in your calling? A fatherly caretaker and wise leader of your worldwide Church? I would say so. But more than anything else, would you not be a passionate defender of the Faith, someone who takes seriously his priestly calling and ordination vows to “boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ, enlightening the minds and stirring the conscience of the people” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 518)?

One would think so.

Unfortunately, in the case of Dr. Williams, I think not of someone akin to papal giants like Pope Benedict XVI or John Paul II, or even such distinguished and charismatic prior occupants of the Canterbury seat such as Dr. Michael Ramsey or even Robert Runcie. No, the character I think of is Sir Robin from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, who, after backing down from a encounter with a fierce dragon, is dissed by his minstrel companions with a song that includes the following line:

“When danger reared its ugly head, Sir Robin turned his tail and fled…”

Why do I write this? Because of the recent firestorm the Archbishop found himself in for his recent statement that Islamic Sharia law should be accommodated in large part by the laws of Great Britain:

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans, said on Thursday the introduction in Britain of some aspects of sharia, Islamic law, was unavoidable.
Williams, speaking to the BBC, said other religions enjoyed tolerance of their laws in Britain and he called for a “constructive accommodation” with Muslim practice in areas such as marital disputes.

Asked if the adoption of sharia was necessary for community cohesion, Williams said: “It seems unavoidable. Certain conditions of sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law, so it is not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system.”

Coming on the heels of puzzling comments made prior to Christmas where he proclaimed that much of the Church’s traditional beliefs and stories involving the Incarnation were nothing but legends and cherished, but false, stories, the Archbishop’s latest remarks are stupid, ill-advised, ignorant, and not fit for someone of his office. But what would you expect from one whom the great Mark Steyn refers to as a “buffoon …basically this sort of weird, Welsh druid who’s been promoted way beyond his abilities”. He should be forced to resign in disgrace, but he won’t – the promoters of modern Anglicanism in the Church of England and its Western counterparts The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada long ago ceded the moral ground as defenders of the Faith. Like the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori, the Archbishop and his defenders worship not at the altar of Jesus Christ but at the altar of post-modernism in the name of tolerance, inclusiveness, and diversity.

But before you consider this just another Anglican/Episcopal bashing post, consider that I’m not alone in my disgust for this sad and pathetic idiot’s kow-towing to Islam. Seldom do I ever agree with the Washington Post, but Op-Ed contributor Anne Applebaum hits the freakin’ nail smack on the head with this observation:

Many explanations for the archbishop’s statements have already been proffered: the weakness of the Church of England, the paganism of the British, the feebleness of Williams’s intellect, the decline of the West. At base, though, his beliefs are merely an elaborate, intellectualized version of a commonly held, and deeply offensive, Western prejudice: Alone among all of the world’s many religious groups, Muslims living in Western countries cannot be expected to conform to Western law — or perhaps do not deserve to be treated as legal equals of their non-Muslim neighbors.

Every time police shrug their shoulders when a Muslim woman complains that she has been forced to marry against her will, every time a Western doctor tries not to notice the female circumcisions being carried out in his hospital, they are acting in the spirit of the archbishop of Canterbury. So is the social worker who dismisses the plight of an illiterate, house-bound woman, removed from her village and sent across the world to marry a man she has never met, on the grounds that her religion prohibits interference.

Indeed. I’ve often wondered at the hypocrisy of the proponents of diversity, tolerance, and multi-culturalism – many of whom, by the way, are women – when they should get down on their knees and thank the good Lord that they themselves don’t live in a society goverened by the laws of Islam.

But I digress. In the end, the Archbishop’s comments are nothing more than yet another example of why Anglicans and Episcopalians in the West are leaving the their churches in droves. I mean, who the hell wants to be a part of a faith that has so little confidence in its own beliefs and traditions that it won’t even put up a fight for souls and its own existence against a religion hell-bent on destroying it?

Sigh. Chalk another one up for Satan and his modern siege upon mainline Protestantism. Me, I’m looking forward to attending a local Roman Catholic church and a faith tradition not ashamed or afraid for what they believe.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 18:15 | Comments Off on Anglican Embarrassment
February 14, 2008

I know this pro bably won’t cheer my fellow Goodboys up in the Great White North, but sure as you-know-what, spring is making its slow pace northward. How do I know? We have the first sweet-smelling buds appearing on our lime tree, and boy, they sure smell lovely.

Also, the house warmed up enough to actually kick in our A/C for the first time this year.

Also, the mourning doves are starting to pick up in number, cooing their way through the lazy warm afternoon this week that got into the mid-70s. It’s supposed to cool down for the rest of this week, but there’s no doubt that so-called “winter” is just about over in these parts.

Oh, did I mention that our swimming pool temperature bottomed out at 48 and now sits at a robust 53 degrees? That tells you that not only is the sun getting stronger, but its out long enough so that things just don’t cool down as quickly anymore.

And having the Sox’ pitchers and catchers arriving is a good feeling.

So hang in there my Goodboy friends – it may not seem like it where you are, but spring is surely on its way.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:47 | Comments Off on More Signs of Spring
February 13, 2008

brody A giant in the world of Goodboys Nation and the acting world has passed away at the age of 75:

Actor Roy Scheider, the star of such films as “Jaws” and “All That Jazz,” died Sunday at 75 in Little Rock, Ark., his wife told The New York Times.

Scheider, who lived in Sag Harbor, N.Y., died of complications from a staph infection, Brenda Scheider told the newspaper. Scheider had suffered from multiple myeloma.

Scheider came to prominence in such ’70s films as “Klute” and “The French Connection” — for which he earned an Oscar nomination as Buddy Russo, the partner of police Detective Popeye Doyle, played by Gene Hackman.

Scheider may have been best known as the resort town police chief in the 1975 blockbuster “Jaws.”

Indeed. In Goodboys Nation, Mr. Scheider as Chief Brody was, well, next to a god. There was a time when a Goodboys weekend wasn’t complete without everyone gathering around the TV to watch “Jaws”. Heck, I remember my brother Mark and I saw it around 15 times that summer it was released. Who can forget such great lines as, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”, or (to Murray Hamilton who played the mayor of Amity), “You’re gonna do what you do best, Larry, you’re gonna sign [the order to close the beaches]”, or, to Richard Dreyfuss, playing the role of Hooper, “I can do anything. I’m the chief of police!”

Of course, Scheider wasn’t just known for “Jaws”, he was in such great ’70s flicks as “The Seven Ups” and “The French Connection”.

Another great one passes, and it is we who are left to ponder our own mortalities and the passage of time. Rest in peace, Mr. Scheider, it was our pleasure to watch you practice your craft.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:56 | Comments (2)
February 12, 2008

Sure, I’ve taken a lot of heat for praising Barack Obama in these quarters lately, but this picture tells me personally all I need to know to know I’m on the right track here.

Face it: the man knows his doughnuts. And that Box O’ Joe in his other hand. I think I’m in love. Can you imagine Hillary! wolfing down D-squared? I don’t – she’s a Starbucks-swilling latte queen if I ever saw one.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 15:37 | Comments Off on A Picture That Says A Thousand Words
February 8, 2008

Bigger than the first sight of robin redbreast.

Bigger than Groundhog Day.

Bigger than the swallows returning to Capistrano.

MUCH bigger than watching Michelle Wie post her first 80+ round of year.

This, folks, is what spring really looks like!

And if I’m Clay Buchholz (he of the no-hitter last year), I’m really looking forward to the spring right about now.

I’m off to “Sin City” for a long Goodboys weekend. See y’all back in these spaces with a full recap (well, almost!) on Tuesday!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:25 | Comments Off on Spring Finally Arrives!
February 7, 2008

This is why Tiger is simply the best, and everyone else – even once top players like Ernie Els – will never get it:

Tiger Woods capped his comeback in style.

He drained a 25-foot putt downhill, then he skipped backward and punched the desert air in celebration when it disappeared into the cup for a final birdie, giving him another win in his second tournament this year at the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday,

“To go two-for-two, it’s a pretty good start, isn’t it?” Woods said.

Woods had trailed by four strokes to Ernie Els, a familiar victim. But he birdied his last two holes, and five of his last seven, for a 7-under 65 to start his season with two victories that looked nothing alike.

Contrast Tiger’s play with Ernie’s in the last round:

He started the final round with a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson and was four shots clear of Woods. The 38-year-old South African missed par putts inside 5 feet on the 11th and 12th holes to lose the lead, but he still had a chance to force a playoff with a birdie on the par-5 18th. Instead, Els hit 5-wood that came up well short and ended up in the water.

He finished with a bogey for a 71 and tied for third with Louis Oosthuizen.

It was a devastating blow to Els, who stared at the ground as he walked toward the 18th green. He is in the middle of a three-year plan to overtake Woods at No. 1 in the world, and said at the start of his season that he needed to start winning.

Just another example of the greatness that is Tiger Woods, and why everyone else is just a pretender to his throne.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:45 | Comments Off on The Greatness That Is Tiger
February 6, 2008

OK so I’m catching a little flack – not unexpected, BTW – from familar quarters following yesterday’s post on Barack Obama. But if there is one image from last night’s Super Tuesday extravaganza that sticks out more than anything else, it was the contrast between the victory speeches given by the Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination and, arguably, the Democrats’ leading candidate.

There was John McCain, raising his arms in triumph and surrounded by a group of all-caucasian senior citizens (including, God bless her, his 92-year old mother). Sure, he was gracious in his victory, complementing Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney for their efforts, but take away the obvious political setting, and you could have been watching any group of people from the local Senior Center out on a field trip to the local shopping mall.

Contrast that with Barack Obama, surrounded by an enthusiastic group of people, young and old, of various races and genders, hanging on his every word and well-turned phrase – some crying in the emotion of the moment – delivering yet another passionate message for change, contrasting his candidacy with the “politics of the past”. Were I a Clinton or McCain supporter (which I’m not, BTW), you wouldn’t have to hit me over the head with a brick to know who Obama was speaking about here.

Make no mistake about Barack Obama – like him or hate him, you have to respect what his candidacy has brought to the 2008 presidential race. People tend to forget that just a few short months ago, Madame Hillary! was the candidate with the money, the power-brokers of her party, and her syncophants in the mainstream media cloaking her with the title of “inevitable”. Now she finds herself in the race of her (and her cheating husband’s) life.

Is Obama an empty suit? Who knows? But anyone who underestimates his candidacy does so at their own peril. I can guarantee you the GOP is praying that Hillary! is her party’s nominee; they see what’s going on and don’t want any part of Obama. Can you imagine a nationally-televised presidential debate between McCain and Obama with the two standing side-by-side?

And lest you think in these comments that I’m being mean to Senator McCain or to seniors, remember this is politics in a high-stakes game and that I’m not the only one who noticed this.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 13:00 | Comments (6)
February 5, 2008

barack obama OK, I’ll admit it – I’ve caught the fever and have jumped aboard the Barack Obama bandwagon.

At least for now.

I know what you might be asking: how in God’s name can a conservative even think of supporting someone as liberal and way-out-there-left as Barack Obama? Simply put, I’m ready for a change. Like in my religious life and church affiliation. Like in my personal life and personal life choices. Like in my work situation. I’m ready for a change and thirst for that rarified air of looking forward and not backward, and Obama’s campaign symbolizes all that for me.

I’ve thought a lot about this, and after looking at all the Republican candidates for President found them all incredibly wanting. I liked Fred Thompson, but the guy ran a pathetic campaign long on ideas but short on political savviness. John McCain is just too old, and in my view offers little difference from what we have gotten from 8 years of George W. Bush. Mitt Romney, I’m sorry, I’ve tried to like him and get behind him several times, but he just has a magical way of turning me off (his crack about his five strapping sons serving their country by working for his campaign while one of McCain’s sons is in the Marines did it for me personally) – and my wife feels the same way. Mike Huckabee is right – Romney does look exactly like the kind of guy that just laid you off. And he does look and act like a Ken doll.

And I’m sure I’m not the only Republican who is at least willing to take a look at Obama. Consider this post from Erica Anderson at Red State. She’s absolutely right about that. Personally, This particular post did it for me. Can you imagine a Republican offering the same kind of message of hope and change? Not in my lifetime or this bunch of uninspiring and lifeless candidates.

If I were Hillary Clinton, I’d be feeling just a little anxious about the Obama surge right now. Once seen as the “inevitable” candidate for the Democratic nomination, she has seen her once huge lead get whittled away slowly but surely to the point where she and Obama are virtually tied nationally. And when it comes to the Clintons, my view is that, just as you do with vampires, you don’t wait till the end of the day to drive a stake into the heart of the beast, you do it while the getting is good. Hence, I’d much rather see HILLARY! go down in the nomination process than have to depend on some huge anti-Clinton turnout in the general election. And with her spouting dangerous ideas like this, that would be tempting fate just a little too much.

But to me, there’s something else at work here. Contrast Obama’s message – not his substance – with every other candidate on both sides of the aisle. Like him or not, the fact is he is a breath of fresh air and has a (dare I say) Reagan-esque air of optimism about him: you want to believe him when he says he would reach across the political aisle to get things done, and he’s a Democrat you can listen to even if you don’t politically agree with him.

Me, I’m willing to give the guy a shot. Like Mitt Romney says, Washington is broken and the nation is definitely on the wrong path. And maybe, just maybe, after two of the worst presidencies this country has ever had to endure, it’s time the nation try a different tack. He and I may not agree on what exactly what that means politically, but I trust him, like him as a person, and believe in the message he is putting forward. And I long to believe in someone, not simply to vote against someone – hell, we’ve all been doing a little too much of lately.

To me, an Obama presidency would end this country’s destructive addiction to Clinton and Bush presidencies. An Obama presidency would get us out of Iraq and the gross entanglements in the Middle East that have cost our country so much human treasure. An Obama presidency would force us to get off of our addiction to oil (foreign and domestic), and penalize companies for moving American jobs overseas. Maybe I’m wrong, but in my view he’s be a better choice for the country than yet another old warrior, the guy who just laid you off, and, God forbid, another Bill and Hillary White House.

Here’s hoping Obama can close the deal in the weeks ahead.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:35 | Comments (4)
February 4, 2008

…or maybe this wasn’t such a huge one after all? I’m sure a lot of New England Patriots fans were all too aware of how tough the New York Giants played them in that last regular season game and breathed a sigh of relief after Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts were surprisingly eliminated by the San Diego Chargers in their AFC playoff matchup. Seems to me the Pats offensive line and defensive secondary had been living on borrowed time over the last several games, and I, for one, expected no cakewalk.

So it wasn’t surprising to me to see the Pats struggle offensively. The Giants played a ferocious defense all game long and quarterback Tom Brady was fighting for his life for most of the game. That the Pats seemed to be out of sync was displayed by Matt Light’s several costly penalties and the lack of intensity and consistency they seemed to show from the start. But hey, 18-0 is a hell of a burden for a team to carry – Super Bowl or not, you simply can’t be expected to maintain that kind of intensity when your team hasn’t been allowed the luxury of a week or two off during the regular season like everyone else. In the end, the Giants just wanted it more and played like it.

But how about those last five minutes? So many times the Super Bowl has failed to live up to its hype, but last night, in terms of sheer excitement, it was heard to beat those closing minutes of that 4th quarter and all the lead changes.

Congratulations to the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. They deserved it.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 07:53 | Comment (1)

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