Saturday 24 March 2007

An Exercise In The Virtue Of Patience

I wasn't sure if I would be able to access my stepfather's computer during my stay... I hadn't had a chance to ask his permission before I arrived. However, having phoned to let the family know that the dogettes and the moggy were well (and that I, incidentally, had arrived without mishap), I asked about computer use and was given the go-ahead...

...but oh, what an experience! I forgot that I have a nice, new computer, as yet unencumbered with more than basic programs. I find that I don't really need a lot of software, and it seems a shame to clutter up the hard drive. As a result, my computer is amazingly fast at loading web pages, and I rarely have to wait for more than a few seconds for anything... stepfather's computer, on the other hand, is a much older machine. And since my stepfather is not very technically minded, he seems to create shortcuts on the desktop instead of opening files... I found at least five shortcuts to the internet on his desktop, for example.

So, having finally managed to get in and log on to the dashboard for my blog, I had to wait for ten minutes for the comments moderation screen to show. I have since phoned back to ask if I should try and clean things up a bit...

...I just hope I don't delete something vital... like the operating system or something!!

Friday 23 March 2007

What I Will Be Doing This Weekend...

I'm off to Eastbourne tomorrow afternoon... dogsitting for my parents' yorkies. I can probably chalk this one up as a work of mercy, as it allows my mother to go and visit her grandson... and I am not a dog-lover. So the visit will be a penitential exercise... I mean, dogs are ok, but I do prefer proper ones. And the yorkies are incredibly "needy" when separated from my mother.

At least I shall have Jess the cat for company.

A New Reformation?

Why is it that, in the UK, the SORs are being promoted as being about allowing homosexuals the right not to be discriminated against, while overseas, the truth (namely that the regulations are about stopping people of faith from being able to live according to their consciences) is clearly seen? On LifeSite (which is Canadian, I think) they have summed it up pretty accurately:

"The UK's Sexual Orientation Regulations, that will make it illegal for Christian schools, services and businesses to operate according to their religious principles, passed its last hurdle last night in a vote in the House of Lords...

"...With the passage of the SOR's, [Baroness Detta O'Caithain] said, the state had decided that "a citizen's right to manifest sexual orientation is absolute, but the right to manifest religious belief is not."

"...Since the January decision by Prime Minister Tony Blair, a government document was released indicating that the school curriculum would be included and faith-based schools would not be allowed to teach traditional social mores "as if they were objectively true.""

Fr. Tim Finigan (Blogger Extraordinaire) is quoted at some length:

" spoke to Fr. Timothy Finigan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark and the founder of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life who said, "I don't think it will be productive to negotiate with the government over this. Clearly the regulations are as they are and they have shown that they are not prepared to negotiate or make concessions. The offer of the adjustment period shows that."

"While the exemption requested by the Church for the adoption agencies was turned down by Tony Blair, what they got with the government's offer of a delaying period, said Fr. Finigan, "was a kind of stay of execution. But there's nothing there for them. In the meantime, they still have to refer children to be adopted to homosexual couples."

"Militant gay activists, he said, will almost certainly now move on to the next phase of test legal cases against smaller Christian or Muslim institutions such as schools or boarding houses.

"The one thing the government doesn't want to see right now is priests and ministers in prison. That means they are going to start with schools or businesses. They've been pushing hard in education for years," Fr. Finigan said."

Watch this space. There is a distinct whiff of Henry VIII about this whole thing. The Bishops didn't do much then either...

More on Judas?

Further to my previous post on "The Gospel According to Judas," I spotted an article on Times Online, which suggested that I was overreacting: that the book indeed had official sanction... In it, Francis Moloney was described thus:

"a friend of the Pope, [he] is considered by Roman prelates to be a leading authority on the Christian scriptures."


"A senior Catholic source in England told The Times: “It is a wonderful story of forgiveness and mercy through the eyes of someone who never believed Jesus was God. Moloney has brought the four Gospels together into one. Even if only half of Jeffrey Archer’s readers buy the book, millions of people will read the Gospel for the first time.”"

It seemed somewhat fishy to me: after all, I had heard Moloney on the radio myself, declaring that St. Matthew's Gospel was not to be trusted because it had lifted the whole of the "death of Judas" account verbatim from the Old Testament. I am no Scripture scholar, but I always understood that St. Matthew's whole style was geared towards showing how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies: using an OT text which would resonate strongly with his readers to explain how the death of Judas fitted in with the whole plan doesn't make it any less true.

However, the Times Online article did seem to suggest that maybe, in my morning confusion, I might have misheard or misinterpreted the whole thing. I duly prepared to eat humble pie by drafting an outline apology for throwing an outraged tantrum at yet another "heresy" !

And then the illustrious Curt Jester weighed in with an excellent post ripping the English media hype to shreds... and correcting several factual inaccuracies along the way:

1. The Pope did not "bless" the Archer-Moloney novel.
2. The Pontifical Biblical Institute provided the bottled water at the speaker's rostrum for the 3. Archer-Moloney press conference. Its scholars had nothing whatever to do with the book's content.
4. The Archer-Moloney novel was not "published with Vatican approval."
5. No biblical scholar, including my former colleague Fr. Frank Moloney, believes Fr. Frank Moloney to be "the world's greatest living biblical scholar."
6. Fr. Moloney is not "one of the Pope's top theological advisers."
7. The International Theological Commission, of which Fr. Moloney was a member, enjoys the same level of teaching authority as the Philatelic Office of the Holy See -- that's to say: zero.

Finally, a comment on another post of mine about the SOR Prayer Rally suggested that the reason for the absence of any of the Westminster Cathedral authorities from the rally was that they had bigger fish to fry, namely the launch of the Archer-Moloney book in Westminster Cathedral Hall... a major booboo, in my humble opinion.

Mgr. Mark Langham put up a post in which he attempts to justify allowing the use of the Cathedral Hall:

"Many people would point out that there is a difference between a book of scholarly investigation, and a novel that employs plausible data, such as this."

Umm... unfortunately Archer and Moloney are themselves trying to present this as a book of scholarly investigation... Archer is on record as saying that the book is not a novel. If it was being marketed as "just a novel," I wouldn't be hopping up and down with frustration at yet another attack on the core beliefs of Christianity... Mgr. Langham goes on to say,

"However, Professor Moloney is a Biblical Scholar of the highest standing within the Church, and a friend of Cardinal Martini."

From what I have read and heard, the Cardinal is hardly a bastion of orthodoxy... and besides which, I have a very good Baptist friend - I would trust her with my life, but we have profoundly different views on the Real Presence, and other religious matters.

I think Mgr. Langham realised what a booboo had been made: in the comments box, he states,

"Perhaps we were somewhat naive, but when the lauch takes place in the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, no less, with the involvement of Cardinal Martini and Bishop Clemens, and the co-authorship of a respected biblical scholar, it is hard to say no."

With all due respect, I would say that, no matter how hard it is to say "No," it is the duty of our shepherds to fight against such attacks on the Faith. If the Bishops had said "No" to the Government a little more firmly in the past, then we wouldn't be facing such anti-Christian legislation now.

Thursday 22 March 2007

SOR Prayer Rally Update

Fr Tim has put up an account of yesterday's Prayer Rally, with photos, on his blog. I was struggling a bit with my new phone, and the pictures I got weren't particularly good (I still can't quite figure out all the settings!) partly because I was clutching the parish flag and the hymn sheets in my other hand.

Two pictures of the rally in progress...

And here's a picture, taken in the pub afterwards, of a certain young non-blogging priest who dared to tell me that my blog was only about hair, nails and shopping. At least it shows he reads the blog occasionally!

UPDATE: I see from the comments on Fr Tim's post that Lord Alli claimed, during the debate, that six-year-olds outside parliament were holding placards with homophobic abuse on them. Absolute tosh... the organisers asked us to refrain from waving our parish flag, and there were no other banners or placards in evidence as far as I could see.


I'm just back home from Wednesday evening's Prayer Vigil outside the House of Lords. As yet, I haven't managed to find out how the vote on the Sexual Orientation Regulations went.

The vigil was very good (numbers could have been better, but given the short notice - because of the way the Government are railroading this one through - it wasn't a bad turnout.) I had brought our Parish flag, and started off by holding it up where the wind could gently unfurl it... but unfortunately I was asked by one of the organisers to put it away, as they hadn't wanted banners of any sort.

Even without the flag, it was quite amusing to see how more and more Catholics gradually coalesced at the back... and at the various points when we were instructed by the leaders to pray in small groups in our own words, we said lots of traditional prayers, including the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.

Once the vigil was over, a few of us went off to a local pub (we needed to... my feet had gone completely numb after standing still for two hours!) Among the subjects for discussion was speculation on the collective noun for a group of bloggers.

After several options were suggested, and rejected as not quite right, it was decided that it should be a "roll" of bloggers...

So there you have it. You heard it here first!!

Tuesday 20 March 2007

Petition For Abolition Of 1967 Abortion Act

One of the most ghastly pieces of legislation ever: hundreds of thousands of babies aborted since this went on to the statute books. I don't put many petition posts up (even if I do sign them) but this is one petition you can sign with a clear conscience.

Twitch of the mantilla to Fr. Tim.

New Car-Parking Facility For Women

With the high rate of attacks on women in secluded car parks, especially during evening hours, the Sydney City Council has established a "Women Only" car park in George Street.

Even the car park attendants are exclusively female so that a comfortable environment is created for patrons...

Anyone who has been in a car with me while I am trying to park will understand why I think this is a great idea...

...actually, on reflection, anyone who has been in a car with me while I am attempting to drive will know what I'm on about... (Ha! There... got it in before Fr Tim made some disparaging comment about me and my driving skills!!)

Time For Another Blonde Joke

It's been a while, so here you go: this joke is courtesy of Out of the Inbox...

A blonde starts talking to another blonde in a bar, "So, where are you from?"
"New York," says the second blonde.
"Really? So am I! Here, let me buy you a drink!"
"Thanks. Where did you grow up?"
"Upper West Side, near 74th."
"My God! That’s amazing! That’s my old neighborhood! What school did you go to?"
"All private schools. I graduated from Sacred Heart High in '94."
"I can’t believe this! I graduated from Sacred Heart in '94 too!"

At this point, one of the bar’s regulars comes in and greets the bartender: "Hi, champ. Anything going on tonight?"

"Not much," says the bartender. "Except that the Johnson twins are drunk again."

Another Fairy Story For Easter

Since the finding of Jesus' tomb (complete with Jesus' bones) by James Cameron was pretty much debunked before it got off the ground, it left plenty of time for another round of "Let's have a pop at the core beliefs of Christianity!"

So I wasn't surprised to hear that "The Gospel According to Judas" has made its debut. And having it co-written by a so-called Catholic theologian wasn't that much of a surprise: I am getting to the point where, if a person styles themselves as a theologian, I automatically assume they're anti-Church (unless said theologian happens to be a saint, a Pope, an individual quoted favourably by either a saint or a Pope, or an individual loathed and vilified by The Tablet !)

I was disappointed to find that it was being co-authored by Jeffrey Archer. I know a lot of people sneer at his books, but I find that they make amusing and entertaining reads, if you need a bit of a break from reality. And they are a whole lot more entertaining than most of the pap on television.

If Archer had contented himself with writing a novel with the same subject matter, I probably wouldn't have batted an eyelash, and might even have gone so far as to buy it. After all, I have always felt that Judas Iscariot got a bit of a raw deal... Peter, the first to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and one of the disciples privileged to see the Transfiguration, denied knowing Jesus three times. He was forgiven and duly became the first Pope. Judas, on the other hand, is so overcome with the enormity of what he's done that he kills himself... by not hanging around long enough to see the Resurrection, he is forever vilified as the traitor. (Sorry about the pun... I couldn't resist!)

Unfortunately, however, "The Gospel According to Judas" is being promoted as a serious piece of scholarly research. The Church is once again "guilty" of hiding the truth for nigh on 2000 years. Archer's co-author, Francis Moloney, was on Radio 4 this morning, claiming that the idea Judas killed himself is only recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew, and was a passage lifted directly from the Old Testament, so is not to be trusted. Even more sad is the fact that Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been quoted as saying he found the book "plausible." And I was annoyed to find that a quote about Judas from the Holy Father is being used on Jeffrey Archer's website in such a way as to suggest approval of the thesis.

2000 years of unbroken Tradition says Iscariot betrayed Jesus, and then committed suicide. I guess that's good enough for me. To say anything else is to produce a work of fiction.

Monday 19 March 2007

Technology Has Its Down-Side !

Rats. Somehow or other I've managed to reset my new mobile phone back to factory settings.

*sigh* Just after I'd put in all those contact names and numbers...

I guess I shall just have to offer it up... but when I find out who the patron saint of mobile phones is, there will be words!

(...and yes, I did notice that the picture is of a computer rather than a mobile phone, but hey...!)

UPDATE: I discovered that, somehow or other, I managed to save my contact list on my computer (despite being convinced that I had failed to synchronise it...) so all of my contacts are now safely inside the phone again!

Mutant Cat

I went to visit my Mum on Saturday. She has a (relatively) new moggy, named "Jessy" which I believe is short for Jessica. I tried protesting that Jessica seemed an odd name for a cat, but to no avail.

My family has always had a penchant for waifs and strays. The first cats we had as a family were literally the strays who prowled the council estate where we lived when I was 8 years old (pets were not allowed) - there was a friendly tabby cat who produced batches of kittens at regular intervals, and I'd climb up on the walls to reach the ledge which she had made her home. She relished the attention, and would wind herself round my mother's ankles begging for food and attention.

My father despised such attachment to animals, and was rather disparaging about "Tibby." He claimed to be more of a dog person, as they were some "use"... Or so he said. However, one day we spotted him, leaning out of a first-floor window, throwing pieces of sausage to a really mangey stray cat which we'd nicknamed "Whitey" (no prizes for guessing why!) His attachment to Whitey was based on the fact that the flea-bitten tom was more "independent" and didn't fawn all over us.

I was heart-broken when some well-meaning neighbour, who objected to the feline yowling, reported the strays to the RSPCA. Cats and kittens were duly rounded-up and removed.

The first "proper" cat we had was Otto, the pub cat. He was in residence when my parents took over as managers. A gorgeous, sleek, black, short-haired tom, Otto used to disappear for a few days at a time... until being returned, exhausted, by a neighbour. He must have fathered lots of kittens before my parents decided that it would be better for him "to be seen to."

When Otto went missing for the last time, I was inconsolable. I solemnly warned both parents never to mention cats ever again. I declared that I would never have another cat. Ever.

So when my mother was not at home on my return from school, and the bar-staff were being shifty when I asked where she was, I knew she'd betrayed me by going to the Blue Cross. I threw a strop when my mother returned, declaring that there was no point opening the kitty-carrier box, because no cat could ever replace Otto, and that the kitten could be returned right away. My mother apologised, pointed out that the journey had been a long one, and said that she would return the kitten after she'd given it a saucer of milk. I consented to this plan.

...but, of course, when the tiny bundle staggered out of the box, I was totally smitten. The kitten was tiny, wide-eyed, under-fed, and had ricketts (as the runt of the litter she hadn't managed to get enough milk.) As she fell over her paws in her efforts to reach the saucer, I fell in love. A year later Snowy was joined by Poppet (my sister's birthday present: a half-persian, black long-hair... and another runt.)

Humphrey (so-named because she made a hump the minute she saw the other two) was found as a tiny kitten, abandoned by a railway siding. She was so young that she hadn't been weaned, and needed to be fed by pipette... and made to do her business by application of damp cotton-wool.

Anyway, Jess is the latest moggy. I wasn't sure what "deformity" she would have, but I was sure there would be something to mark her out from the crowd. Sure enough, it turns out that this kitten was a genetic throwback: she has polydactylism (extra toes on each foot.) I'm still trying to figure out the camera functions on my phone, so I took a few pictures...

Sophia Is Home

Finally, little Sophia has been allowed home. The recovery from the brain surgery will take many more months, but she's out of hospital. The tumour has completely gone.

More details can be read HERE.

More Gargoyle Advice

Fr. Dwight has put up another post with a snippet from the Gargoyle Code. This one is Part 9...

Sunday 18 March 2007

Not The Hardest Quiz I've Ever Taken...

...actually, this was so easy it was almost insulting... I might go back and do it again, but changing my answer to the question whether Latin was any use... just to see what comment I'd get...

You got 100% correct

You are a Church history expert. You know more than the average Catholic. You probably even have a love of Latin. Which your knowledge, you should consider teaching religious education classes, if you don't already.

How well do you know the history of the Catholic Church
Create a Quiz

Mantilla-twitch to the Roving Medievalist

Writer's Block

I am singularly out of inspiration today. So I shall content myself with reporting other people's blog posts...

Yesterday morning was spent in church (my usual Saturday morning routine) and then I drove down to Eastbourne to see my Mum and deliver some flowers for Mother's Day... and demonstrate my new phone to my step-dad (he loves gadgets, but is a major disaster area where they are concerned... he crashes his computer on a regular basis, and claims to have done "absolutely nothing to it!")

As I drove back rather late, I didn't have any time for blogging. Today was pretty much a wash-out: I was still rather tired from the trip, so lounged around reading (books rather than blogs for a change!) until it was time to go to Mass this evening.

So I didn't check the blogosphere until late this evening. Northern Cleric has posted his answer to the "six weird things" meme and is also reaping his just desserts for having boasted about enjoying Italian chocolate ice-cream (he's put on weight!!)

Newhousenewjob has been amusing herself by laughing at the English language skills of various foreign individuals (I never realised she could be so uncharitable!!) The dúnadan has an excellent post where he (rathere whistfully) imagines a future when the BBC will celebrate the abolition of abortion. Well, a man can dream...

UPDATE: Newhousenewjob very rightly pointed out that she's posted her meme answers, and it looks as though she was so quick off the mark that I missed them!!

Ma Beck has put up some new photos of Baby Beck (aka Mary Elizabeth) looking absolutely cute as only new babies can. The Curt Jester has some timely advice for men suffering from "Laetare Intolerance," a little-known condition which results in intense nausea on the sight of pink (ahem, sorry, rose) vestments...

Fr. Dwight has put up the next decoded section (Part 8) of the Gargoyle Code... it gets better and better. Stephen at CSSML has put up his answer to the "weird things" meme... I assume that he's back in Blighty after his trip to Israel.

And finally, Antonia has put up the cutest photo - which I have duly snaffled and posted below!

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