Saturday 21 June 2008

Stand Up For The Truths Of Our Faith? Don't Be Silly...

I was very, very sad to read that the Catholic Children's Society (Southwark, A&B and Portsmouth, I presume... unlike Westminster) has demonstrated a distinct lack of backbone in the face of the latest government legislation with regard to placing children with homosexual couples for adoption.

I'm too disgusted by this to go into the details here. I can only say that, following the

"two-year period of dialogue and reflection between the Society and its President and Vice Presidents - the Archbishop of Southwark, the Bishop of Arundel & Brighton and the Bishop of Portsmouth"

that the aforementioned Bishops will take steps to ensure that the Society no longer calls itself "Catholic" as it is blatantly failing to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church, and also that the Bishops will dissociate themselves from this Society (including the cessation of Christmas Crib collections.)

You can read the Society's self-justifying statement HERE, if you have the stomach for it. Mantilla-twitch to Fr. Fisher.

Which Bit Of "Contraception Doesn't Work" Do They Not Understand?

Surprise, surprise... the number of abortions is higher than ever. And the number of under-16s having abortions is higher than ever too.

So what is the response of the British government? Hmmmn. Let's see...

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said, "Contraception plays a vital role in preventing teenage pregnancy and earlier this year I announced a further investment of £26.8m to improve women's access to contraception and help reduce the number of abortions, repeat abortions and teenage pregnancies."

Actually, no. The wide availability of contraception, especially to under-age school children, encourages the idea that one can have sex without any consequences, because it's "safe" sex. The fact that, according to groups who work with women in crisis pregnancies (such as the Sisters of the Gospel of Life, SPUC and the Good Counsel Network), the majority of women and girls they see were using one or more forms of contraception when they became pregnant is somehow overlooked in the official statistics.

Government advisers called for high quality sex education at school and investment in contraception services for young people.

Gill Frances, chair of the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group, said: "We know what works to reduce abortion amongst teenagers.

"We need high quality sex and relationships education at school and at home and effective contraception."

Actually, again, no. They obviously don't know what works, because abortions among teenagers is rising. Rising means "going up," and they have had Sex Education at school since I was at school... after more than 25 years of teaching teenagers about the mechanics of sex and how to prevent conception, you think that, if it was going to prove effective, it would have done so by now.

Julie Bentley, chief executive at the FPA (Family Planning Association) said sex and relationship education should be compulsory in every school.

"Younger women are making different choices about their lives and choosing abortion over motherhood, but education and contraceptive services will stop them becoming pregnant in the first place."

Actually, yet again, no. (Getting repetitive, this!) Sex Education is already taught in every Secondary School. It is not "compulsory" in that parents can withdraw their children from these lessons... but in actual fact, very few parents do so... and their children aren't generally the ones to get pregnant. Contraceptive services are pushed left, right and centre. You can't read a magazine or newspaper, or visit a public toilet without some form of contraception being brought to your attention. And if you miss the talks from the school nurse, you can bet your bottom dollar that the careers service (those wonderful people from Connexions) will make sure that you don't remain in ignorance (or innocence) for very long.

So, how many times does a government advisor have to put two and two together and get four before they can bring themselves to accept that four is actually the correct answer?

All quotes taken from BBC News. Twitch of the mantilla to the Hound of Heaven. And I hope his hair grows back faster than mine!

Friday 20 June 2008

Recepción a los lectores de España…

Checking out my blog stats (as you do...), I noticed an upsurge of hits from a Spanish site. Intrigued, I followed the link...

...and discovered that I'd made it onto a Spanish blog/web page dedicated to the Extraordinary Form. I employed the BabelFish to work out what they were saying about me...

"PRIEST AT ANY MOMENT. 19/06/08. The author of blog Mulier Fortis, shows this likeable photography of her parish priest in an English pub. The religious life is not incompatible with a beer..."


One For My Transatlantic Buddies...

Just to make y'all feel warm and fuzzy... petrol in the UK is selling for about 122.9 pence per litre. An American gallon is 3.76 litres (I think...) which means that (at today's exchange rate) petrol is on sale for $9.04 per gallon...

Ok, so how much are you lot paying??

Mantilla-twitch to Jay2gsm for the cartoon...

Nothing To Do With Apples...

This video clip is really good. I almost wish I were still teaching RE so that I could show it in class...

Twitch of the mantilla to Fr. Ray Blake.

One Of Those Moments To Treasure...

Occasionally the children I teach come out with comments which restore my faith in human nature.

I had one of those moments today.

Thursday 19 June 2008

Thank You...

It started badly - I overslept, so by the time I got to the photocopier there was a queue. I then had a registration cover, and then another lesson to make me feel really good.

By the time I got to my second lesson (the one to be observed) I was feeling distinctly queasy. Still, the class settled down quickly to complete the starter activity, and I thought I'd survive.

And then the Head of Biology didn't turn up...

After 10 minutes, I decided that the stress of rescheduling (and anticipating) the observation was worse than the stress of being observed, so I sent a member of staff off to look for him.

He was profuse in his apologies (he thought it was scheduled for Friday) but was happy to observe the rest of the lesson, which was a relief for me. And he was very complimentary, so I am off the hook... until next term!

Wednesday 18 June 2008

Prayers Please...

I've got a lesson observation by the Head of Biology tomorrow.

Even though it sounds really strange, I hate being observed when I teach.

Thirty children and two Learning Support Assistants, plus any Science Technicians who happen to be passing through don't count as "observers."

One adult with a clipboard reduces me to a quivering jelly.

Tuesday 17 June 2008

A Question Of Perspective...

A friend of mine is getting married this Summer. Her younger sisters are still growing, and a lot can happen between dress fittings and Wedding Day. The eldest bridesmaid-to-be contemplated an after-dinner chocolate biscuit.

"I'll give up biscuits tomorrow," she announced.

"Anyway," she added, with unassailable logic, "The dress isn't too small, it fits perfectly. I just can't breathe in it..."

Monday 16 June 2008

Science Lesson...

I decided to have some fun today. And just to prove that I'm a real Science teacher, I thought I'd share... There aren't many genetics experiments which can be carried out in school labs, but this is one which can even be done at home... Extracting DNA from kiwi fruit.

First, chop up one kiwi fruit. (Memo to self: peel the fruit first, numbskull!) Add 50 mls (approx) washing-up liquid, a tablespoon of salt and half a litre of warm water (not hot, or you'll denature the DNA!)

Stir, and leave for 20 minutes. Then put the mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Take the mixture out of the freezer (it should be cold) and put it in a liquidiser: blend it for 10 seconds.

Filter the mixture using a coffee filter paper. This step is optional, but it means that the experiment works better.

Take about 10 ml of the filtrate and put it in a glass. Add a squirt of pineapple juice (yes, pineapple juice has protein-digesting enzymes in it... oh, and your flesh is made of protein, so go easy on the pina coladas!)

Carefully add ice-cold ethanol (vodka will do if you are trying this at home) down the side of the glass, so that the ethanol forms a clear layer on top of the filtrate.

Leave the glass to stand for five minutes.

You should see a white cloudy lump forming in the ethanol - voilà! You have extracted kiwi fruit DNA !

Sunday 15 June 2008

The Strangest Things You Find In London Pubs...

Number one: Parish priests reading The Remnant.

Go ahead - caption away in the Com-box!

Different Photos...

These were taken with my trusty little phone camera. First of all, I gave a lift to Leutgeb, author of Bara Brith. We arrived early, and, after bumping into Fr. Ray Blake, we decided to go for a quick coffee. We didn't stay long, as I was sure that all the seats would be taken fairly early, and the idea of standing for a two-hour Mass didn't really appeal...

After the Mass, people congregated outside on the Piazza, catching up with various friends, and, in some cases, making new ones. I was surprised to be greeted by one person with the comment "You must be the strong woman!" - surprised because my profile shows the back of my head, and he was seated in front of me in the cathedral... and anyway, there was hardly a shortage of mantillas in evidence! Mike (a Facebook friend and blog reader) later admitted that he'd seen me greet Fr. Tim before we all went into the Cathedral.

I also spotted Damian Thompson talking animatedly to a group of people (possibly fellow journalists) and hastened to take advantage of this photo opportunity. I hadn't realised that he had already been at a press conference to interview the Cardinal before the Mass started. Apparently a journalist from The Tablet was also there, and was having a gripe about the Church being dragged backwards. Mr. Thompson soon put her right, according to my source!

I was delighted to make the acquaintance (in person) of Mark, author of Rise and Pray. He is a really great chap, with a wicked sense of humour and a fantastic personality. If I wasn't already spoken for, he'd be in serious trouble! (It's ok, Mark, only kidding... !)

Seriously, though, I think Mark has been holding out on us, blog-wise. His understanding of the Faith and his witty comments made him a real pleasure to converse with! There! I bet I've made him blush!

Fr. Tim can be seen here, checking out the damage to his camera. Fr. Charles Briggs, Parish Priest of Chislehurst and non-blogging priestly blog-guest is on the right. I was delighted to get to know Fr. Charles a little better on our trip to Lourdes - he was chaplain to the group along with Fr. Tim.

And here you can see Mark and Fr. Tim discussing exactly how many photos I'd taken...

Truly, a day to remember!

Photos From THE Mass...

His Hermeneuticalness was obviously very industrious this morning, as my memory stick (handed over at dinner) was waiting for me after Mass this morning (and he has already posted the best of them!) I was teased mercilessly in the pub after the Mass, with someone asking me if I realised I had taken 3000 photos. Sure enough, I had taken lots of photos (but not 3000!) Unfortunately, many of them, as I suspected, were pretty dire, partly because it was rather crowded, and if people moved their heads slightly, they sort of got in the way of the photo. I didn't feel able to wander round the Cathedral snapping away - I was trying (and probably failing) to be discreet. Fr. Tim's camera doesn't need a flash, which cuts down on the disruption, and isn't one which makes big whirring noises with large clicks.

I also had a bit of a problem holding the camera steady - it is a bit of a beast, that camera, with an impressive, but heavy, zoom lens.

Still, I managed a few reasonable shots...

This was probably one of the best... Fr. Tim has already posted it, so I can hardly claim an exclusive. However, he failed to mention that he, himself, is on the Cardinal's left, holding the cloak (I can't remember the fancy Latin name for it!) It was also very moving to see everyone genuflect as the Cardinal passed by.

I think this was taken during the sermon... there was a lot of activity at the throne before the Mass as well, but it was difficult to see (partly because of all the scaffolding.) There were two mitres, I'm not sure which one is shown here... no doubt someone can tell me in the com-box!

This one is a bit blurred, but you can see some of the Cathedral choristers. I must try to see what I can do when I have time to play around with photoshop...

I Got A Present !

A Bavarian friend of mine (I hesitate to say "German," it would probably provoke a riot!) sent me the following little memento of a town where a certain Bavarian pope spent rather a lot of time...

So, I thought I'd share...

The mug (which will be installed on my desk in the Science office tomorrow morning) is from a shop in Marktl-am-Inn which seems to be doing a roaring trade in Pope Benedict XVI memorabilia... including, I might add, creme de cassis with a picture of the Holy Father on the label, and Zirbelschnaps (ditto with the label)... I didn't see whether thay also sold Fanta...
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