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Catholic Bishops: More Exorcists Needed
NEW YORK (Nov. 12) -- Citing a shortage of priests who can perform the rite, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops are holding a conference on how to conduct exorcisms.
The two-day training, which ends Saturday in Baltimore, is to outline the scriptural basis of evil, instruct clergy on evaluating whether a person is truly possessed, and review the prayers and rituals that comprise an exorcism. Among the speakers will be Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas, and a priest-assistant to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
"Learning the liturgical rite is not difficult," DiNardo said in a phone interview before the conference, which is open to clergy only. "The problem is the discernment that the exorcist needs before he would ever attempt the rite."
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San Francisco federal judge Vaughn Walker struck down Prop. 8, finding the California amendment that denied gays and lesbians the right to marry the partner of their choice unconstitutional. Walker noted in the ruling that Prop. 8 had no "rational basis" and perpetuated the notion that homosexual unions are inferior to heterosexual ones. He also stated that same-sex couples' desire to marry adheres to the United States' marriage history and traditions.
This news makes me both pleased and hopeful. There is still a lot of work to be done (and my jubilance is tempered by a long evolved cynicism), but this is an important step to finally seeing equality amongst all gender orientations.
More on the ruling from the LA Times...
What has aroused my wrath? Please read evilpuppy 's account of some of the most appalling customer service I've ever heard about.
Recently, in another forum, my attention was brought to the following article (thank you S.!):
An excerpt: "What a terrible pain it is to see these revealed religionists thinking that cute little phrases like "love one another" and "do unto others" and the like are so profound, when in reality, they are insults. People who thrill to these sorts of statements are like the spiritual children of this world, forever having to be told to be decent and good, when in reality, decency and goodness spring from us naturally, without a word being spoken. Tribal people around the world to this day live in loving connection with their families and with the land without a single "commandment" from their Gods being given them from some authoritative "text" or scripture."
This article raises some interesting points regarding the nature and origin of morality. However, I have to say, the author of this article displays an exceptional amount of arrogance and self-righteous in his criticism of 'revealed faiths'.
Certainly, morality is not dependent upon religion. With mature personalities, we make a conscious choice to abide by the rules of the faith we follow, else we wouldn't choose to follow that faith, no?
However, not all personalities are mature, are they? That's why we have crime and war. That's why we need laws, codices of acceptable behaviour to which a culture's members can be held. Without agreed upon standards of behaviour, it can become very difficult to adjudicate whether someone's behaviour is unacceptable or not, let alone then determine what to do about it.
The problem is, a complex set of specific rules and regulations can become rather cumbersome. Early Christian leaders recognized this. This is why Jesus is credited with simpler guidelines such as 'Do unto others as you would have done unto you.' It's simple, yet flexible, covering a huge range of situations, kinda like 'an ye harm none, do what ye will'.
The author of this article may frown upon the need to have such rules given out, but that, in my opinion, is naively dismissing the harsh reality that not all people are as idealistic as we'd like 'em to be.
Upon reading the discsussion couldn't help but reflect on my experiences teaching in England and what I observed of the children (and their parents) there.
Two general themes seemed to run through the comments, the first being a discussion of the idea that thuggery amongst British youth is worse than most other nations because of a lack of any serious consequence for poor behaviour or even proper parenting, whilst the second revolved around the ethical ramifications of corporal punishment (spanking).
Unfortunately, these discussions tended to be really simplified and only touched superficially on some of the major issues that affect British youth. ( Read more... )
What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding the issues presented here?
Found courtesy of thebitterguy 's blog ....
And flowing through ysabetwordsmith 's blog, a website showing how anti-Conservative Canadians can vote to minimize the environmental damage that Stephen Harpy can cause (whilst boosting seats for all other parties):
Here's another amusing YouTube video (a must see for all fans of Big Trouble In Little China) I discovered, thanks to thebitterguy :
* Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker is Oscar worthy - He brought a lot of things to his performance as the Clown Prince of Crime that surpassed even Jack Nicholson's portrayal of that role. Notable features include a strange philosophical sense of purpose to The Joker's typical malevolent mirth and an even stranger sensitivity that takes the role well beyond a typical comic villain.
* Though not as visually stunning as its predecessor, the cinematography is excellent.
* The action element, too, is dynamic, though, again not quite on par with Christopher Nolan's first in the series.
* The story is VERY plot driven - action and special effects clearly take a secondary importance in this film.
* Comic fans will be pleased to note that Nolan borrows strongly from some of the best writing from the Batman series. He tells his own Batman story whilst staying very true to the feel and themes connected with the 'Dark Knight.'
* Despite all the action and effects, The Dark Knight is clearly a thinking person's film, discussing a wide variety of topics, including just how little separates The Batman from The Joker.
Now on to the more serious stuff. There are three principle characters in this film: The Batman, The Joker, and District Attorney Harvey Dent. These three are used as symbols in a deep discussion of what is a person or society willing to sacrifice in order to be secure, especially under the threat of terrorism. The Joker, obviously, acts at the face of terrorism, pursuing goals that completely diverge from worldly agendas such as wealth, power and respect. Indeed, he visibily acts in contradiction to them. Dent becomes how modern Western society would like to see such problems resolved, in a manner that is forthright, honest and just. He is a paragon of conviction and virtue. He is the Hero that everyone wants. Unfortunately, whilst he proves effective against normal criminals, whose motivations are fathomable, he is unable to deal with The Joker. Thus, The Batman becomes what is necessary to defeat The Joker, though often uncomfortably approaching becoming what he stands against. He is effective, but despised for what he feels he must do and the sacrifices he must make. He can be seen as representing the 'War on Terrorism.' How others respond to him parallels the many opinions held of the actions of certain powers against their terrorist foes. Various other aspects of this complex philosophical discusssion are presented and represented by other characters as well.
Nolan doesn't seem to present any answers to the question, nor does he present this film as an apology for what has been done in the fight against terrorism. Indeed, The Joker makes pains to explain that he exists solely because The Batman does. What Nolan does seem to offer, however, is possible explanations of why this question exists, a springboard for further thought and discussion.
I did mention that this was a thinking person's film...
Yesterday, at 3:00 PM, Prime Minister Steven Harper made a historical speech which affects the lives of thousands of First People in Canada. In this speech, he, on behalf of the Canadian government, took responsibility and apologized for the shameful era in Canadian history when thousands of Native American children were taken from their families in placed in residential schools in what was a blatant attempt to assimilate them into European culture by forcibly detaching them from their own.
More about that here:
I watched his speech, and much of many others that day. It brought up a lot of feelings.
Naturally, as empathic as I am, I was near to tears as I saw the effect of Harper's words upon the members of the First Nations as their pain was finally properly acknowledged by the Canadian government. It was clearly something that many of them had waited a long, long time to hear.
I also felt, stupidly enough, more White guilt. It's sometimes kinda hard being of European origin at such times as that, even though I know, rationally, that I cannot, in any way, hold myself responsible for what happened in the past. Still, that guilt is there.
Finally, though, I had to reflect on what happened to many of these people. Could I truly comprehend all that has happened as a result of this forced assimilation. In many ways, no. I was never totally separated from family, though my father was often away for great periods of time. I cannot relate to the sexual abuse that happened in many of the reserve schools, although I can relate to the physical and psychological abuse at the hands of my so-called peers. What I do understand, to some extent, is what it's like to be detached from one's heritage.
Now it's not the fault of any particular person or group of people, not like what happened in the residential schools, but I don't know what it's like to be anything more than 'generic Whitey'. Though my grandfather clearly identifies as Irish, I know nothing of what it means to be Irish; I can't speak Gaelic, I don't play any instruments (kind of a hingepin for Irish culture), I have never fully explored Celtic art, I know only general bits of Irish history, I know little of the important days and traditions of my forefathers, I can't even stand to drink Guiness (or any other beer, for that matter). There is a rich body of cultural heritage that I should be a part of, that I perhaps even need to be a part of, but I am completely alien from. I have no attachment to my ancestors, my heritage, my cultural past. It leaves me feeling lost, unsettled and perhaps even abandoned. It leaves me without an important element of identity that I will likely never be able to regain.
I wonder if I share, at all, similar sorts of feelings to those First People who were ripped from their cultures.
Now granted, there is some there is a fair bit of legitimate argument for the simple fact that many people do not KNOW how to gracefully accept a compliment (kinda sad that they don't get enough practice), but methinks the main root of the problem lies within the current Western perception of beauty.
Taking my role of pastoral care for my pupils somewhat seriously, I've often brought up the subject of our perception of beauty in class, especially for the benefit of the teenage girls who wind up being placed under tremendous pressure to be inhumanly beautiful. I choose the term "inhuman" for a very precise reason, which is revealed in this short film, by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, titled Evolution.
It shows how a normal woman, through the use of multiple makeup artists and hair stylists, professional photography, and (most disturbingly) a subtantial amount of digital modification, is transformed into one of the "Glamazons" that decorate our many adverts.
The discussion that results amongst my pupils when I show that film can get a bit intense, but it's no where NEAR the reaction I get when I show the short film titled Onslaught (again by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty):
It highlights just how strong of a presence the beauty industry can have for young women. I recall, during one showing, three 15 year old girls hiding their faces during one segment that they, as they later explained, thought was pornographic. Interestingly, the "pornography" they saw came from bus stop adverts, music videos and other media rated for public consumption.
The closing statement for the film reads "Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does."
Kinda hits home, doesn't it.
Now some of you may be thinking, "Why would a guy care about all this?" I think this short film, titled Amy says it all.
All three of the aforementionded films can be found through the video link for the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.
This post is dedicated to every woman I have had to work very hard to convince of the truth of her own beauty, and to those with whom I failed.
The origin of this enmity lies deep in the Old Testament, which clearly expresses a strong imperative to be "fruitful, and multiply" (Genesis 9:7, King James Version). This obsession with procreation becomes even more apparent in the Book of Chronicles, which painstakingly elaborates the patrilineal succession of many, many generations of Israelites. The importance of maintaining a line of descent is so important that a widow of a man who has died heirless can call upon her husband’s brother to take her as a wife and "perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her," (Deuteronomy 25:5, KJV). The first born then continues the line of her former husband.
Any opportunity to reproduce that is wasted is considered 'defilement' as shown in Leviticus 15. This chapter contains a number of proclamations such as "...if any man's seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even [evening]," (Leviticus 15:16, KJV). This chapter also goes into depth about how women who are menstruating (and thus, not pregnant nor caring for a young child) are also unclean. In both cases, two birds must be sacrificed in atonement. (Can you imagine how rough it must've been for a young Israelite boy during puberty, with all of its nocturnal ejaculations?)
This imperative to procreate, and the punishment for not doing so, is taken to the extreme in the woeful tale of Onan (Genesis 38:6 –10, KJV), where a father, whose eldest son is slain by God for being wicked, commands his next son, Onan, to marry his brother’s wife and impregnate her. Onan, sensing that this shouldn’t be, instead 'spills his seed' on the ground and is subsequently struck dead by God. (Keep in mind that Onan didn't actually have any qualms about sleeping with his former sister-in-law; he just didn't want to ejaculate in her.) Whilst it may be that this was done because Onan refused to 'honour his father' by obeying his commands, the mere existence of this morality story demonstrates the importance given to the continuation of one's line.
There are many more examples emphasizing the instruction to 'multiply,' including the condoning of polygamy and refusal of entry into the sanctuary (of a Jewish tabernacle) of any man whose sexual organs are crushed or removed. And just as numerous are the often harsh consequences for refusing to properly attempt reproduction. Among the many sins punishable by death is for any man to lie with another man as he would with a woman (Leviticus 20:13). It is found amongst a description of a number of infractions that have to do with improper sex, which directly conflict with the imperative to maintain a line of heirs. It is important to note that gay sex is considered an 'abomination' punishable by being put to death (Leviticus 20:13, KJV), whilst other crimes are of a different nature, such as a man and his mother-in-law having sex being considered a 'wickedness'. This is a 'wickedness' that must be cleansed from the tribe by burning them both to death (Leviticus 20:14, KJV).
Interestingly, whilst gay sex is considered an 'abomination,' lesbianism is not even mentioned in the Old Testament. It’s only in the New Testament where lesbianism is first mentioned where "God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another..." (Romans 1:26-27, KJV). (Wait a minute, God MADE people homosexual???)
To understand why gay sex was considered a mortal offence by the Israelites, one must look at passages such as Deuteronomy 23:12-14, which describes how a soldier must take care to bury his excrement as it is unclean and, if God sees it, would offend God (How does one hide one's defecation from something that is supposedly omniscient?). This, coupled with the treatment of 'discharges' (Leviticus 15:2-15, KJV), shows a view that excrement was considered 'unclean.' As such, it can be easily seen how it was an 'abomination' to not only deliberatly contravene the commandment to multiply by wasting sperm having sex with another man, but also to deliberately mix it with something as unclean as excrement. As failure to show any mention of lesbianism in the Old Testament shows, it has nothing to do with love and sex but everything to do with what's done (or not done) with the semen. (Does anyone else hear the cast of Monty Python singing Every Sperm is Sacred in their heads?)
That explains where the enmity towards homosexuality originated, but why has it continued? Surely, if it was purely a matter of Old Testament law, the Jews would have more animosity towards homosexuals than Christians. After all, they still keep laws such as those pertaining to not eating pork, resting on the Sabbath, and a host of other rules and prohibitions that Christianity has chosen to leave behind. Yet one doesn't see a lot of Jews in protest marches against gay rights. Why is this? Perhaps it is because the Jews know persecution all too well, likely more so than any other group of people on the planet. As such, they're not so willing to persecute others.
It's clear to see how a hatred of homosexuality began in Old Testament law, as gay sex not only defies the commandments pertaining to reproduction and maintaining patrilineal descent, but can even be perceived as mocking them. However, given that reproductive concerns are not as strong amongst most modern day Christians as they were for the Israelites, why this animosity towards gays, by many segments of the Christian society, continues is not so readily determined. Rationally, though, modern Christians have little reason to select prohibitions against homosexuality as one of the few odd rules they choose to maintain. After all, many Christians choose to use birth control; would this not be as much of an offence to God for contravening his command to be "fruitful, and multiply?"