Thursday, March 31, 2005

John Paul II

The news late today that the pope is suffering from a serious infection and may be in his final time of life has caused massive media attention. I think that, for the repetition and trivialities, the hugeness of the coverage does show the extraordinary impact that he has had on his time in history. Even in his weakness, he cannot be ignored. And we wait and pray and marvel at this man of contagious faith and his serene inner life that sustains him now as it has for nearly 85 years.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Easter Approaches

Life can be understood as an either/or (you're either dead or alive, time of death, etc), or it can be visualized as a continuum during which we slowly die. Now the public sphere is full of rather tawdry discussion about a brain damaged woman in Florida and her feeding tube. It does seem to me that both sides of this legal impasse are seeking control of something that cannot ever be controlled. Yes, there is money involved and it will be controlled by some judiciary. But no one can find a legal or moral warrant for controlling life. Easter is the ultimate experience of our lack of a control mechanism because it so beautifully shows how God can give the gift of life, even by robbing death of its apparent finality. Even the insatiable curiosity and strange celebrity-creating of the American culture can alert us, this Easter, to the gift, in all its forms and shapes, now raised up to new life in and for all of us.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

DOUBT, the play and the famous kind

I have not been blogging for a while due to some medical factors that may now be on their way to remedy. Say a prayer. Yesterday, Fr Dave Dwyer and I saw DOUBT, the play by John Patrick Shanley. It is a masterpiece of reflection and wise insight. Basically, he tells the story of a 1964 nun and parish priest engaged in conflict over the nun's suspicions that the priest may be molesting the only Afro-America kid in the Bronx school. Shanley gives us a huge area of inner reality in which we can question, and probe, all certainties, religious or otherwise. If you are in NY, be sure and see DOUBT.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Happy Saint Patrick

Many blessings for all on the feast of great evangelist of the ancient isles.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Computer stuff and American violence

I am still without my own computer but have access to a neighboring Paulist who is conveniently away and I am getting my problem solved (I hope). Meanwhile, I interviewed a candidate for the Paulist Novitiate and hope the new class turns out well and even numerous. These are sparse days for vocations but our vocation director, Fr Ed Nowak, is doing an outstanding job and finding people while encouraging all interested. Meanwhile, the violence in Atlanta, and in Wisconsin, is truly awful and very strange. I really believe that our culture does 2 relevant harms: 1) glorifies violence as a solution to all kinds of problems and 2) Places pressure on troubled people who snap with or without drug/alcohol abuse. Wrong? Other factors?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Computer Dependency

This afternoon I suddenly found my desktop unable to get online. I was at a loss. Fortunately I have hooked up my laptop and can make do. However it surely made me aware of how dependent I am on the cybersphere for contact, communication, a feeling of wholeness. I cannot think of anything this critical or central, aside from grace itself, that was a comparable part of my pre-computer life. Perhaps, newspapers were something like this - and are still essential to me. So I am hooked or liberated. And I think its mostly the latter.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Facism of the Secular Left

When I was starting out as a college chaplain in 1967, facism in its various guises was mostly a trait of the pro-war, right wing in the US. Over the ensuing years, like many others, I have seen a blending of leftist politics with a militant secularism that would now stifle speech and shut down voices that speak in opposition to its pieties. I am cheered that a number of commentators have recognized these developments, especially in universities where the secular left has been dominant (unlike the whole of society). In the last 20 or years, I witnessed on campus the public harassment and contempt for any strong religion and any religious view that claimed its role in the public sphere. This new secularism was far from a neutrality among different faiths but rather a strenuous effort to define and limit religion to the purely private sphere. This has now grown to such an extent that the other day, a decidedly non-academic Republican governor of California was insisting that his Catholicism has absolutely no relevance to public policy. A Catholicism that has no public impact is simply not Catholicism which is a communal faith. Happily, many of the college students I knew saw right through the rigidity and double standards of the PC academics who would scream if a slightly negative word were uttered about minorities and other protected groups, but be wholly indifferent to the worst slanders about Catholicism or any other faith that appeared as a strong, public faith. These students have been permanently enlightened by the double standards and canards they were forced to witness in the name of a diversity that was very selective. Now many others are paying attention and its about time.

Left2Right: Universities, Religion, and the Secular Left

Life in the Womb

First check out this link to the National Geographic show on life in the womb. The check your local listings for time and channel. These are spetacular photos and make a great point. I believe these photos always serve an educational purpose to give at least a pause to abortion supporter. Almost no one ever looks at photos like these without uttering the word, "miracle." But NO, not some rare miracle but the most common, ordinary manifestation of life, always a gift from God, given to us, never as a possession, but only to us as caregivers and nuturers for time. Respect all life and protect it from war, racism, poverty, neglect, abuse and abortion -- all of these.

National Geographic Channel: In The Womb

Monday, March 07, 2005

Proud brother of Coogans David Hunt

I am very proud today of the coverage of the Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks in the Times and elsewhere. The road race is held every year at this season and honors the ethnic groups of Washington Heights. My brother, David, and his partners, Peter and Tess, are the owners of Coogans Restaurant and catering which sponsors the event every year. There are very few places in NYC where you really see a mix of ethnic groups as you do in Coogans. They are very committed to outreach in the Washington Heights community in many ways. The restaurant is at 169th and Broadway, close to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. Highly recommended by a very proud brother.

The New York Times > New York Region > In This Race, Competition Is a Show of Unity

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Considering the Alternative

Whether you have ever harbored negative thoughts about the present pope, or if you think (as I do) that John Paul II is a towering figure of faith and fidelity for the ages, be sure and read the story in the alternative paper, New York Press. Perhaps it is an attempt at humor in an era when nothing is sacred, but then go on to examine the mind and depraved human psyche that produces such vicious trash, and, equally, the editors, owners, etc. who decide to promote it. I hope this gets the greatest amount of publicity so that all can contemplate the true nature of those who hate this pope. In the same vein, I notice all the jeering and cat-calls that interrupted the speech of the woman representing the Vatican at the UN conference on women when she outlined the Vatican positions on abortion and marriage fidelity. And these are alleged intelligent world leaders! Hillary and some others who are calling for openness and dialogue on life issues should speak out forcefully against these exercises of hate speech. We wait for the exercise of their free speech.

New York's Premier Alternative Newspaper. Arts, Music, Food, Movies and Opinion

Friday, March 04, 2005

CNS STORY: Thousands prepare to join U.S. Catholic Church this Easter

Better news from Church of Boston

For a few years, the Catholic Church of Boston has been in a sad state, stemming mostly from the abuse crisis and the bitter awareness that a lot of the harm was self-inflicted with cover-ups and dishonesty. You can also add the terrific impact of the many parishes that are being closed. News that financial contributions have gone up significantly is remarkable. I had thought that it would be a full generation before such support would re-appear but now it would seem that people make very shrewd distinctions and do not want the good works of the Archdiocese to fail. Add also to this the very good news about thousands of people in the last stages of their preparation for initiation into the church at Easter. Some reasons to give thanks. / News / Local / Mass. / Church raised $10.8m in 2004

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


On Sunday, good friends were on the phone with the happy news of the birth of their second child, a baby boy to join his older sister. I am in awe at how essential parenting is for all of society, and how good some people are at the vocation of being parents. I know as well as you do that some people fail at parenting with large consequences for everyone. But right now I am thinking of some children who are just so blessed and of parents who see their children as greatly loved blessings to them, grace in flesh. Nothing could be more critical at this moment than supporting and applauding those who accept this vocation. All of us have a stake in parenting and we need to improve the ways we express our support.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Death Penalty Unconstitutional

Today the Supreme Court, in a close 5 to 4 decision, has ruled out the death penalty for those who are under 18 at the time of the crime. I keep getting the sense that US public opinion is changing, ever so slowly, in its view of the penalty. The court reflects this but also the closeness of division on the issue. The US is a rarity among advanced countries in holding on to the death penalty. Much to our shame! Perhaps this latest decision will push the abolition along in the public mind and in the minds of the nine justices.