March 31, 2010

The other day I wrote a rather harsh condemnation of the Episcopal Church following a visit to one of their parishes in the Greater-Boston area. Today, just to show The Great White Shank don’t play no favorites, I’d like to say a few words regarding the Roman Catholic Church and its role and response regarding the latest allegations of priest abuse sweeping across the European continent.

First of all, let’s get something understood. In all of their Catholic and organized religion bashing (Islam excepted, of course) that the mainstream dino-media seems to take extraordinary delight in whenever news of another scandal of this sort hits the wires, what you’ll never hear is the fact that the vast majority of the perpetrators are, for the most part, gay pedophiles.

Given everything we know about the initial scandals that hit the U.S. a decade ago it is an undeniable fact that Roman Catholic seminaries from the mid ’60s through the early ’80s were a haven for gay men attracted to the power, privilege, and opportunity to live out their darkest fantasies through the Roman Catholic priesthood. During those decades, the gay community, being closeted as it was then, was a (relatively speaking) small world where word could get around fairly easily. Communication being what it was in those pre-Internet, pre-7×24 cable days, it was through word of mouth that gay men with pedophile tendencies were drawn to the power and prestige of the priesthood like moths to a porch light.

Equally important, you had a rigidly institutional Church that, for a variety of reasons both moral and sociological, was slow to recognize and respond to the kind of people it was accepting to its seminaries and ordaining as priests. Not to mention a power structure where it was easier to simply shift misbehaving religious around rather than subject them to discipline or, worse yet, make waves with the church hierarchy and/or the Vatican.

Taking all of these dynamics together, you had a powderkeg just waiting to be lit. And when the fuse was lit through a variety of equally strong dynamics: the stigma associated with sexual abuse becoming less so as a by-product of the sexual revolution, the Church slowly being seen as less imposing with the increase of secularism, and the rapid expansion of our media culture, the curtains slowly came down to reveal a Church that had failed miserably when it came to disciplining and expelling problem priests it knew to be a problem.

I write this only because it is important to understand that, with less than four weeks to go before I am received into the Roman Catholic faith, I do so with eyes wide open. I know there is no perfect Church on this earth; I am equally convinced that Satan is doing whatever he can to destroy the Church as it exists. Therefore, with all this in mind, I hold the following to be true:

1. While some people have a difficult time separating the Roman Catholic “faith” – i.e., its traditions, beliefs, and teachings, from the Roman Catholic “church” – i.e., the worldly institution, I do not. It would be a grevious mistake to toss what I believe to be the vast majority of priests – gay or otherwise – who have devoted their lives to the Church and its mission into the category of sexual abusers. The Church and its religious have done far more works that have benefited humankind in the long run than have brought harm to it.

2. Regardless of what the Catholic-bashing mainstream dino-media will infer, the sexual abuse of children in the world of religion is not restricted to the Catholic Church, nor has it ever been. I would also go so far to say that that so-called “religion of peace” called Islam does far more harm to young people, especially women, than anything the Roman Catholic Church has ever done.

3. That being said, there should be rigid enforcement of a “no tolerance” rule against any religious who has been proven to have sexually abused any child. I stress “proven” recognizing that, while one should always err on side of caution in these kinds of things, one needs to be very careful when charges are made against anyone due to the incindiary effect they bring, and that charges made out of malice, even if proven false, can destroy the lives of innocent people.

4. I don’t care if it’s a priest, a bishop, a cardinal, or the Pope himself – anyone who is found to have either sexually abused a child or protected someone who has done so in any way should be removed from their position and forced to face charges in a judicial court of law. This is where, I think, the Church has greviously made mistakes that must never be allowed to happen again. Boston’s Cardinal Law should be rotting in a jail cell right now for the crimes he committed while Archbishop of Boston; the fact he was hustled to Rome and given a cushy job to avoid U.S. prosecution is unconscionable.

5. The systematic abuse of children is, and will forever be, a stain on the Catholic Church. The Church cannot ever fully make good to those who have been the subject of abuse by those who irrevocably broke their vows to love and serve Christ as He loves us. Not only did they break laws and destro people’s lives, but, perhaps more importantly, they broke the trust. What the Church can do, however, is take whatever steps are necessary to ensure this kind of thing never happens again, and if it does, punish to the greatest extent possible those who do.

In less than four weeks I will become a Roman Catholic, and I’m looking forward to it. I love the Church, its sacraments, and the way it has upheld the traditional teachings of the Christianity for more than two thousand years in the face of every conceivable kind of threat. Now the Church faces, perhaps, its greatest threat – its very integrity and the greatest need for humility in the face of the crimes it has committed and the mistakes it has made. The extent of its ability to face up to its past actions, to try and make amends wherever possible, and to do what it can to ensure these things are never allowed to happen again will determine whether the Church I am about to devote my life to is able to survive this great challenge that lies before it.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 18:56 | Comments (4)
March 28, 2010

Be gracious to me, LORD, for I am in distress; with grief my eyes are wasted, my soul and body spent.

My life is worn out by sorrow, my years by sighing. My strength fails in affliction; my bones are consumed.

To all my foes I am a thing of scorn, to my neighbors, a dreaded sight, a horror to my friends. When they see me in the street, they quickly shy away. — Psalm 31: 11-12

I attended my last Episcopal Church service (at least as an Episcopalian) today – ironically, at the very same church I was baptized in over 54 years ago, Christ Episcopal Church in Somerville, MA, a city just outside of Boston. My only reason for attending that particular church was that I needed a copy of my baptism certificate so I could be received into the Roman Catholic faith four weeks from today, and several prior attempts to accomplish this by phone had proven fruitless.

Now I know why. Because, like so many other small urban parishes in the same kind of situation, Christ Episcopal Church is dying. And it is both painful and heartbreaking to watch.

I’m sure that at the time of my baptism 54+ years ago Christ Episcopal was a vibrant and thriving congregation. My mom had virtually grown up in that church along with many friends and members of her family. The church itself might have been of a humble size (probably seating 100 or more souls) and location (situated on the edges of several neighborhoods just off of a main thoroughfare), but it undoubtedly filled a very important place in the community and the lives of those who would walk or drive a short ways to worship and socialize.

Of course, this was back in the days when the Episcopal Church was a relevant force in American Protestantism, before its decline and disintegration at the hands of the so-called “progressive elitists” who saw the role of the Episcopal Church to be the moral conscience of an America they saw as intolerant, unaccepting, and non-diverse.

Today was a perfect opportunity to see the “wages of sin” the Episcopal Church has paid to achieve such a lofty position in mainline Protestantism. On a clear and crisp Palm Sunday, my mom and I were one of only a total of 20+ odd souls (including the priest) who gathered together for worship.

And it was an odd, albeit earnest group that had gathered. My mom and me, a couple of mothers with young children, a few teenagers, a couple of elderly ladies, an Asian organist in her 30s (who played every verse of some very old and difficult to sing Anglican hymns), four adult women with Down’s Syndrome, and, accompanying the priest in the sanctuary, an autistic African-American man in his 30s and a mentally retarded middle-aged gentleman, both of whom were vested but totally incapable of assisting the priest in any way.

The priest himself (what they call a priest-in-charge, someone the diocese would ask to look after a parish in a stipend-paying role) was pleasant enough, but he presided with a somewhat bemused look on his face throughout, never opened a hymnal or prayer book, and never seemed concerned as people would come and go as they pleased throughout the service.

The worst of it was the building itself, which seemed as starved for life and attention as the liturgy was. Dirty and unkempt, some kneelers were barren of their cushions, others had tears in them, and hymnals and prayer books had torn bindings, leaving an overall sense of neglect and slow death. As a member of the congregation gamefully chanted the words of Psalm 31, I couldn’t help but feel the walls, walls who had seen so many better days, crying out in affirmation of their very state of existence and perilous situation.

Of course, the world has changed a great deal since Christ Episcopal’s salad days, and not just the world, but our society and culture as well. But, that being said, there is still no good reason why a church located where it is, with literally tens of thousands of people living within a ten-mile radius, should only attract 20+ people on a sunny and bright Palm Sunday morning.

And that’s where I blame the Episcopal Church in general, and the Diocese of Massachusetts in particular. Simply put, there is no excuse for neglecting parishes and uncaring clergy. As our Lord said, look all around, the fields are ripe for harvest. But the Episcopal Church has long forgotten about its missionary role – at least the missionary field that lies beyond the gay and lesbian community. Because that’s all the Episcopal Church stands for nowadays and has stood for, for a long time: making gays and lesbians feel good about the sexual choices they’ve made in their lives and the lifestyles they’ve chosen for themselves.

Some may think this sounds harsh, but I’m sorry, you cannot look at Christ Episcopal in Somerville and so many other parishes in the very same situation today, and not see the damage the two decade-long non-stop debate over homosexuality, and the ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians as diocesan lay leaders, priests, and bishops has wreaked on a once-proud and influential mainline Protestant denomination. It’s sad, and it’s sickening.

But it’s not surprising. Because this is what happens when you toss two thousand years of traditional church doctrine and teaching out the window in an effort to be more accepting, diverse, and tolerant. You water down your theology and ordain priests who are taught, and know only how to teach, the so-called “social Gospel”, and is it any wonder why you haven’t a message that is attractive to the young families and professionals that are the life blood to any parish community? You lose the moral high ground,and soon enough, as the saying goes, when you believe in everything you believe in nothing.

And so it goes. The Episcopal Church is dying. What was a decade ago a mere slow bleed of membersip has turned into a hemorrhage that has resulted in parishes across the USA leaving the church and being closed. And as that happens, the financial impact is felt at every level. And soon undeserving churches like Christ Episcopal get neglected, then abandoned. And the community around it dies just a little more as a result.

But you’ll never hear a peep about this out of the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop – after all, to her the important thing is not the size of the Church, but what it stands for (whatever that might be). Well fine, but worshipping at the altar of tolerance, acceptance and diversity instead of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will get you exactly what you deserve – once-proud and thriving spiritual communities like Christ Episcopal neglected, all but forgotten as a part of the community, and doomed to a sad, slow death as a result of an apostate and spiritually-bankrupt Church with misguided leaders who could care less.

Rome may have its own significant problems to deal with, but at least I know the Lord it worships and the Gospel it teaches. And after today’s sad and depressing experience, I haven’t just come full circle in my life as an Episcopalian, I’m more than ready to move beyond it and starta new chapter as a Roman Catholic.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 20:05 | Comments (2)
March 26, 2010

With a tip to one of my all-time favorite Lennon solo songs, I’m feeling the blues today, so let’s all sing along!

You gotta live
You gotta love
You gotta be The Great White Shank
You gotta shove
But it’s so hard, it’s really hard
Sometimes I just feel like givin’ up

You gotta work
You gotta blog
You gotta feed seven hungry rabbits
You gotta slog
But it’s so hard, it’s really hard
Sometimes I just feel like givin’ up

But when it’s good
It’s really good
And when I read your blog comments
I no longer feel like givin’ up

You gotta eat
You gotta sleep
You gotta drink Pusser’ Painkillers
You gotta hang with all your Goodboys friends and play some lousy golf and have some yucks because at least you’re forgetting about all the demands on your time and work and having to pay for all the household renovations, the $8K we’ll owe the IRS in taxes next month, and the Democrats who are really nothing but fascists and socialists who used ObamaCare as a smokescreen for their real agenda which is income redistribution and soaking the rich and bankrupting the country since they could care a tinker’s cuss about the uninsured, all they really wanted was a big government program that would consolidate and expand the power of the state over the individual which doesn’t surprise me that someone like Fidel Castro would approve of but what do you expect of a President who snubs our friends and coddles our enemies.

Err… lost my head there.

Sometimes I feel like givin’ up.

—-

Pool temp: 65 degrees

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:26 | Comments (4)
March 25, 2010

bunny_yawn Spencer the rabbit (not one of ours) may be bored, but I’m not.

I’m antsy.

Here it is, nearly the end of March and where are the grand pronouncements associated with the Goodboys Invitational weekend, less than four months away? Maybe it’s just barely Spring up nawth, but around these parts Robin redbreast has come and gone, and we’re getting ready to head into summer.

I suppose in any other year it wouldn’t matter. But this is the year of the twentieth Goodboys Invitational. Twenty years! Ought to be a big thing, right?

Obviously not to the defending champions of the 2009 Goodboys Invitational, Ben “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis and Jay “Crusher” Spielberg (pictured on the main page in all their pompous glory), whom we’ve heard nary a whisper from since their triumph last year. The leaves have turned. The leaves have fallen. The snow has come. The snow has gone. 2009 has turned into 2020. The country and everything we stand for is under the control of socialists. And what have we Goodboys heardfrom the champs?

Nothing.

The time has come for questions to be raised. If no one else has the guts (or desire) to do it, I will.

1. Are we still on for the third weekend of July?

2. Where are we going?

3. What courses are we playing?

4. Where are we staying?

5. How many nights?

6. Who is my partner?

7. How many strokes am I getting?

8. What will it cost?

9. When do you need my down payment?

10. Who’s in?

11. Who’s out?

12. Who’s still alive?

These are all quite fundamental questions that should have not just been addressed by now, but been the subject of endless e-mails and debates.

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s March 25th, and nothings been done by Exec-Comm.

Count me as disappointed.

Pool temp: 64 degrees

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 00:07 | Comments (2)

bunny_yawn Spencer the rabbit (not one of ours) may be bored, but I’m not.

I’m antsy.

Here it is, nearly the end of March and where are the grand pronouncements associated with the Goodboys Invitational weekend, less than four months away? Maybe it’s just barely Spring up nawth, but around these parts Robin redbreast has come and gone, and we’re getting ready to head into summer.

I suppose in any other year it wouldn’t matter. But this is the year of the twentieth Goodboys Invitational. Twenty years! Ought to be a big thing, right?

Obviously not to the defending champions of the 2009 Goodboys Invitational, Ben “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis and Jay “Crusher” Spielberg (pictured on the main page in all their pompous glory), whom we’ve heard nary a whisper from since their triumph last year. The leaves have turned. The leaves have fallen. The snow has come. The snow has gone. 2009 has turned into 2020. The country and everything we stand for is under the control of socialists. And what have we Goodboys heardfrom the champs?

Nothing.

The time has come for questions to be raised. If no one else has the guts (or desire) to do it, I will.

1. Are we still on for the third weekend of July?

2. Where are we going?

3. What courses are we playing?

4. Where are we staying?

5. How many nights?

6. Who is my partner?

7. How many strokes am I getting?

8. What will it cost?

9. When do you need my down payment?

10. Who’s in?

11. Who’s out?

12. Who’s still alive?

These are all quite fundamental questions that should have not just been addressed by now, but been the subject of endless e-mails and debates.

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s March 25th, and nothings been done by Exec-Comm.

Count me as disappointed.

Pool temp: 64 degrees

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 00:07 | Comments (2)
March 20, 2010

…phase one of the great suburban renewal project is complete, and I thank you all for your patience as I disappeared from these blogging responsibilities for the past week or so. A few random observations about the experience:

1. The folks subcontracted by the flooring company couldn’t have been more responsible, concerned with our need to keep living and breathing while they destroyed and rebuilt everything underfoot, professional, and efficient. Some guy named Juan led a team of four hard-working Mexicans (more on that below) who showed up every day (except Sunday) right around 8:30 and worked non-stop till 4 PM. They moved furniture, tore up carpet, pounded stone tile into dust, carted it all away, smoothed the floors, laid out the new tile, washed it down, set the grout, washed that down, cleaned everything up, then moved all the furniture back in an almost robotic fashion. I know this is what they do for a living, but to watch these artisans at work was both fascinating and a study in excellence.

2. The laminate folks then followed hot on the Mexicans’ heels, and laid down the new flooring in our living room and my prayer room/office. I’ll have some before and after pictures in the coming days, but if it weren’t for the same painted walls and furniture you’d swear you were living in an entirely different house. It’s almost as if I have a home here now.

3. It takes a job like this to realize just how much dirt and dust there is in the world. And it’s not just the dirt and dust from all the tile and laminate work; until you actually start moving all your stuff back in and cleaning the rooms in order to make everything spiffy that you realize just how much of a pig sty you’ve been living in for the past 6 1/2 years.

4. The rabbits hate the new floors and flooring. I look into their beady eyes and all I can see is their bunny brains conjuring up hatred at us for removing their familiar sights, smells, and underfoot stability. Cosmo is especially pissed, but he’ll get over it once the area rugs are strategically placed to enable him access to the whole house again.

5. There’s still a lot of stuff to move out of the garage, but tonight’s the first night that the house is starting to look habitable for two weeks. It has been quite a project, and it’s not over yet – in three weeks the master bath is being replaced, and Tracey’s desk and credenza from hell (huge oak pieces weighing hundreds of pounds) will be refinished. And that, my friends, will be it for 2010.

6. Was complementing the flooring guy about our Mexican “tile team”. Interestingly, he told me the exact same thing the guy who came last month to feed our queen palms told me – if you want conscientious, hard-working manual labor you hire Mexicans to do the work. Like everyone else, I’d heard the argument put forth by those supporting legal (and illegal) immigration – that it was necessary because Mexicans (and other foreigners) will do jobs that Americans are unwilling to do – and never believed it. But from the stories they tell these guys appear to know what they’re talking about, and it pains me to hear that kind of thing.

7. It doesn’t surprise me, though. I look at the subdivision we live in and all the kids have every kind of toy in the world – scooters, motorbikes, you name it – and you wonder if their generation will ever equate hard work with the ability to acquire such things. My generation – the so-called “baby boomers” have destroyed this country, kow-towing to every desire and whim their children demand of them. Where do you go to find people willing to work hard anymore? I’d love to hear some stories from those who frequent this blog.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:53 | Comments (2)
March 17, 2010

They’ll be no corned beef and cabbage here today – the stove is in the garage and everything’s covered with dust, but hopefully today will be the last day and we can get back to arranging things and cleaning! But the tile looks great and, while it’s been quite the hassle, in the end it has been well worth doing.

—-

Here’s a bit o’ blarney fer y’all:

A passerby watched two Irishmen in a park. One was digging holes and the other was immediately filling them in again.

“Tell me,” said the passerby, “What on earth are you doing?”

“Well,” said the digger,”Usually there are three of us. I dig, Paddy plants the tree and Mick fills in the hole. Today Paddy is off ill, but that doesn’t mean Mick and I get the day off, does it?”

—-

Happy St. Pat’s Day from all the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation weblog!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 07:44 | Comments (4)
March 16, 2010

Barely a computer to speak of, no speakers, no nothin.

I know I haven’t been posting but the house is in all a tizzy and there’s no place for The Great White Shank to lay his blogging head.

Not that anyone cares…

But here’s one of my favorite later Beach Boys videos. Alan Jardine at the lead.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:31 | Comment (1)
March 11, 2010

I guess you could say our ‘suburban renewal’ project is well underway.

Presently, there are only two rooms in the house that are habitable: my office, a 10 X 11 room I’m presently sharing with four rabbits (Cosmo, Little Half Pint, and the Ginger / Geronimo tandem), and our master bedroom and bath, which Tracey is sharing with three rabbits (the Little Bitch and the Beastie Boys). The rest of the house is barren, its floors stripped, the windows wide open, dust everywhere.

The team of workers that arrived on time today were extremely efficient and well-prepared. The first thing they did was unload all the tile from their truck into our garage. Next, it was moving all the furniture out into the garage. No muss, no fuss.

Then the fun began. A guy with a huge mallet started attacking our ceramic tile kitchen floor like Barack Obama going after the insurance companies. Tile and dust started flying everywhere. Two other guys started ripping the carpet and the underneath padding up. The rabbits, of course, weren’t crazy about all the noise and commotion, so my job was to hustle them into the bedrooms left for the very last.

After the carpets and padding were removed, the cement floors were scraped clean of sediment while the smashed tile in the kitchens and baths was swept up. The dust began to settle. And settle some more.

Tomorrow, the first tile gets laid. Everyone – animal and human – has had a long, stressful day, so its off to bed (in my case, the floor). Tomorrow, the boys return at 8 AM for a long, hard day of physical work. Believe me, I cherish the fact my job is just computer work and dealing with unhappy clients!

It could be worse, of course.

…I could be Barack Obama being lectured by Jack Webb on Dragnet.

Pool temp: 59 degrees

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:25 | Comments (0)
March 10, 2010

With a nod to David Bowie

So I’m sitting here at the office desk, surrounded by rabbits who are at rest and a house that echoes more than it used to with a whole bunch of furniture out on the patio and in the garage. Tomorrow the floors and the carpets start getting ripped up, it’s gonna one interesting next week to ten days, I’ll tell you that.

The winds of change are all around us. Effective today we said goodbye to our two AT&T e-mail addresses, replacing them with a single Cox e-mail address both Tracey and I will share. It feels weird not having them around anymore. Those were our very first e-mail addresses from our very first computer back around 199-something and Windows 95 with a 56K dial-up modem. How technology has changed, and with it, the world around us.

After being on the market for a couple of months, the house next door to us has finally been sold. Looks like the couple and their two dogs who have lived next to us ever since we’ve been here will be replaced by a family with two young teenagers. That ought to be interesting!

Next week I go to my very first confession in preparation for my being received into the Roman Catholic faith. Boy, have I got stuff to tell that priest! Fifty-five years worth! But seriously, it does feel weird, and it serves as a reminder that my leaving the church I was baptized and confirmed in is not something anyone should do casually. In my mind, I know I’m doing the right thing; I feel like the Prodigal Son walking up the last hill, knowing that just over this ridge is home. And I’m ready to come home, to the faith that’s been calling me for so many years.

There’s something about change that feels as equally exciting as it is unnerving. It’s the excitement of feeling alive, and the unnerving quality that comes with it. We all love our comfort zones – and believe me, I’m looking forward to that time when the new floors are down and we can start putting this house back together! But sometimes you have to take a step outside yourself and what you feel comfortable with in order to be alive. Life is for the living.

Pool temp: 58 degrees

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:27 | Comments (0)

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