Friday, February 24, 2006

the governance of the seminary (part two)

I stayed a couple of nights at the seminary in Washington, D.C. in the early seventies. I have queasy memories of a homily on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi that was so inane as to defy mocking. It was then that I realized that priestly formation in North America was seriously deficient. Anyway I'm following Clayton Emmer's review of his seminary experience with interest. This latest instalment is enlightening, if a bit depressing:

the governance of the seminary (part two):

"Is there a spirit of harmony and ecclesial communion among the formation faculty members? Do they show a sincere sentire cum Ecclesia? Do they give a good example of priestly living? Another million-dollar question, which seems applicable to any Catholic institution of higher learning.

As I look back on my seminary experience, this was perhaps the thing that surprised and saddened me the most. In..."

(Via The Weight of Glory.)

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Still Standing...

somewhere between work and illness. I managed to catch-up with my blog reading and podcast listening on the weekend. I even played a little chess. I switched back to FICS after a couple of years on ICC (not free). The latter seems to have GM's playing most of the time and a larger chess-playing pool at any given time. But free is free and Italy has to be paid for.

Anyway, my handle is dagtwo, so drop by and challenge me to a game if you're logged on.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Signs of Sanity in Denmark

Signs of Sanity in Denmark: "

Brussels Journal has a report on Denmark’s ‘Democratic Muslims,’ a group of non-fanatic Muslims who are speaking out against the radicals: More and More Moderate Muslims Speak Out in Denmark.

Dozens of Danish Muslims are joining the network of moderate Muslims, the Demokratiske Muslimer (Democratic Muslims). About 700 Muslims have already become DM members and 2,500 Danes have expressed their will to support the network. The initiative has caused anger among the Danish imams and their leader, Ahmad Abu Laban, who have referred to the moderates as ‘rats.’ The imams feel that they are beginning to lose their control over part of the Muslim population.

Moderates such as Kamran Tahmasebi say they have had enough of fanatic Islamism and its intimidation of the Muslim immigrants in Denmark. ‘It is an irony that I am today living in a European democratic state and have to fight the same religious fanatics that I fled from in Iran many years ago,’ Mr Tahmasebi says. He came to Denmark as a refugee in 1989. Today he works as a social consultant and is very grateful for the life Denmark has made it possible for him to have. He says he no longer wants to keep a low profile to avoid attracting the attention of the imams. The cartoon affair was an incentive for him to stand up and warn against the Islamist imams in Denmark, whom he says are damaging the integration process with their misleading criticism of Danish values and norms.

Mr Tahmasebi is one of the people involved in the newly established network of moderate Muslims in Denmark led by Naser Khader, a member of the Danish Parliament. He says he is well aware of the risk he is taking by siding with Mr Khader, who has for a long time been living under police protection. But Mr Tahmasebi feels it is his duty to take part in this debate. ‘Naser Khader has carried this responsibility for too long. I share his beliefs and now I want to stand up and say so. Apart from that, as a parent I feel a responsibility to fight, so that my children will not have to live under Islamist dogmas. They shall be able to live free in this country.’ Mr Tahmasebi adds that he believes the imams are one of the biggest problems Denmark is facing today.

The Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, will be meeting the leaders of the moderate Muslims today (February 13) to discuss the cartoon affair. The Danish government has suspended all dialogue and cooperation with the Danish imams on the integration process. Some of the strongest protests against the twelve Muhammad cartoons [see them here, halfway down the page] came from imams who are members of the government’s official integration think tank.

‘We want the newspaper [Jyllands-Posten, which published the cartoons last September] to promise that this will never happen again, or this will never stop,’ says imam Ahmad Akkari, the spokesman for the radical Muslim organizations in Denmark which led the protest against the cartoons. However, the deliberate lies which imams, such as Abu Laban and Akkari, used to incite worldwide hatred against Denmark have served as a wake-up call for the Danish government.


(Via Little Green Footballs.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Speaking of Beer

I had an interesting one last week on our annual Valentine's date (we later watched The Nanny and enjoyed it). I decided to order a microbrewery beer with my Seafood Paella and tried Granville Islands' Winter Ale. A pint of that stuff was educational: chocolate beer. I drank the whole thing quite happily, but I can't decide if it's something I would recommend except to the adventurous.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Balance is Important

So Mark Shea of CAEI points to other perspectives in the world of Islam.

Islam is a Religion of ...?

This is the sort of thing that worries me. These gentlemen (all former terrorists) believe that the majority of Muslims support terror, as long as its against infidels (non-Muslims). They each support the idea that there is a culture of hatred and shame cultivated around the world in the Muslim communities. And they say it happens everywhere including here in North America. And that it's been happening since at least the early 1980's.

The one movingly speaks of how he and his family can only live in the United States, because nowhere else will protect his right to dissent from the terrorist plan and the culture of hatred. How would he fare in Canada I wonder.

via Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying It!.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


especially Ancient, is one of my abiding loves. So I've just finished The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past. It's a fascinating attempt to think the process of history (as in the writing thereof by historians) through. He is critical of the social sciences' pursuit of formulas based on independent variables that result in reproducible predictions. He assures the reader that social sciences have an abysmal record of prediction and implies that it is their emulation of the Newtonian-style hard sciences that has led them down this dead end.

He introduces Relativity, Uncertainty, Chaos and Fractal Geometry to illustrate how the practice of history is at least similar to these examples of the "New" "Hard" "Science". This "Hard-Science-Envy" seems to me to simply mirror the social sciences he critiques. But he is humorous, well-read and very informative. Well worth the time.

Good News and Bad News

I am pleased that T. S. O'Rama (of the notoriously long-named Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor) has delved into Genealogy and found his roots. I am displeased that he flaunts his ready access to my favourite beer so brazenly. (I can't believe it comes in 30 litre kegs).

I brought a few bottles back from Ohio in November, but used them up during the Christmas revels. The closest place to get it from here is Leavenworth, a faux Bavarian village in the Cascades. I wonder what condition Stevens Pass is in. (You have to drive over the pass to get to Leavenworth.)

A Moderate Muslim?

Long, but interesting post at Rantings of a Sandmonkey. Apparently he is a Muslim and is upsetting some of his fellow religionists by his coverage of the cartoon controversy. Could he, and some of the people he mentions, be the moderate Muslims I was asking about earlier?

Things to Do While Sick

Imagine Canada rules the world.

Thanks to Peter Sean Bradley of Lex Communis for the link.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Jesus versus Ahistoricist: 1-0

This may only be Round One, though. The village atheist is thinking of the European Court of Human Rights.

Thanks to Kathy at Relapsed Catholic for the link.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Being Blessed

If there is someone on your blogroll who makes your world a better place just because that person exists and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the internet, then post this same sentence on your blog.

(From Alicia of Fructus Ventris.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Islam and Humour

There are differing views on the propriety of showing images of Mohammed in a potentially unflattering light (or portraying him at all, for that matter). Some are arguing that it is obligatory to publish the Danish cartoons because otherwise we risk letting hyper-sensitive groups (led by the power-hungry) effectively curtail our freedom of speech. A counter-argument says that disrespect for the deeply held beliefs of others is not a reasonable use of our freedom.

I'm reminded of a remark (by Miss Manners?) that some people are simply too sensitive for decent company. There are risks in curtailing our speech in obedience to supposed laws of Islam. First, can anybody authoritatively explain just what, exactly, we would be agreeing to refrain from expressing? Is any criticism of some believers apt to be found "offensive" by opinion leaders? Especially the leaders who say one thing in English and the opposite in Arabic, for example. Would any and every expression of freedom have the risk of offending some "too sensitive" Muslim somewhere? Could we be selling our heritage of free speech to censors who hate our culture and heritage? Or as Mark Shea says "Thin-skinned Bronze Age barbarians might be offended if you suggest that they murder innocent people over cartoons."

Another problem that has been raised is that it is far from clear that images of Mohammed are forbidden by Islam all the time and everywhere. This piece, for example, takes a scathing view of the violent protests over the cartoons. (Thanks to Albertus Minimus for the link.)

And there's the uncertainty about just what we communicate to the rioters and their leaders if we voluntarily suppress our freedom in response to their violence and threats of violence. Will this been seen as a partial capitulation to Islamic law as interpreted by them? Do we risk leaving them to believe that their particular interpretation of Islam is now our unwritten law?

Still I'm no fan of blasphemy, but examples of Christian outrage at perceived blasphemy have been considerably more civilized than what we are seeing now around the world (including destruction of property, assault and murder). (Mark Shea's remarks are worth reading.) I did glance at the cartoons in question and found none of them particularly offensive, but then I'm not Muslim, am I? But there was a theme in some of them that violence is endemic to Islam, a theme that could upset Muslims. But does rioting and threatening new "7/7's" and "9/11's" advance their cause at all?

The only thing that comes to mind after all this is that we should dialogue with the decent Muslims ( and other believers) about what, if anything, we can or should do about public disrespect for religious beliefs. But those who threaten violence should be treated as if they weren't there. They must behave in a civilized manner before they are allowed to participate in adult discussions. So who are the voices of reason and civilization amongst the Muslims, who are simultaneously upset at the cartoons and at the violence and threats of violence perpetrated in the name of Islam, with whom we can dialogue? Class? Anyone? Anyone?

Saturday, February 04, 2006


I finished Saving Your Brain the other day. Very scientific but without talking down to the reader. Not a lot of absolutes, but much good advice: moderate exercise (30 minute brisk walk/day), good diet (modified Mediterranean) and intellectual exercise (learning and, preferably, teaching).

Dr. Jeff Victoroff, the author, has impressive credentials. He does engage in Neo-Darwinist speculation from time to time. And there's a lot of neurophysiology, terms and details of brain chemistry that might intimidate the casual reader. But I have to say I really enjoyed it. Now if I can just remember this stuff long enough!

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Religion of Peace

I know this has been done to death (so to speak), but this is the sort of thing that troubles me about the future of Islam. What is the potential for Moslems to overcome this violence? A co-worker of my wife was travelling in the Far East when her plane stopped over in Kuala Lumpur on 9/11/01. Without any warning of what was happening the collapse one of the twin towers was shown on the airport monitors. She was shocked by the cheering; Religion of Peace, hmmm.

There are interesting parallels between the koranically inspired language and attitudes exhibited by so many Moslems around the world and the violence in the early history of the Jewish people (say from the invasion of the Promised Land to the Two Kingdoms (Israel and Judah). Several episodes of crushing defeat and displacement over several hundred, not to say thousand, years) seemed to help the Jews look at the Biblical language differently. Whether the re-creation of Israel has caused some Jews to forget those lessons is debatable.

Islam is, in some senses, a far more formidable force than the ancient Jews. Are repeated, crushing military defeats, which in their understanding must
mean that Allah is punishing them, what must happen to get some Moslems to rethink their views of the Koran. This is a very troubling thought. A Clash of Civilizations would leave no peace for anyone.

What happened for Christians is Jesus definitive re-casting of the spirit of the Old Testament language, transforming the new Israel to the true religion of peace. Alas, we have failed to accept that message in our lives and communities again and again. The old pope was trying to tell us that conversion and not war is the ultimate solution to these issues.

Thanks to Steve Dillard of Southern Appeal for the link.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tolkien Thoughts

A couple of references, quite pleasing and enlightening in themselves, have stirred me to an important question: is it time to re-read the Tolkien Middle Earth works again (The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings)? Every few years I read them again, though only the last time in this particular order.

The older order in which I used to read them was the order of publication (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion). But it occurred to me that so many references in the first two (particularly The Lord of the Rings) might have more depth if the background history was read first. Admittedly the Professor fleshed out some details after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, but the overall myth of Middle Earth was in place.

I'm just mildly disappointed that he didn't work out some of the minor discrepancies. He never quite finished the history of Galadriel. And I have feeling that Glorfindel (apparently two different High-Elves, one in The Silmarillion, the other in The Lord of the Rings) was a project he meant to get to eventually. But I'm still in awe of his creative genius. The whole project, even incomplete as it is, is a landmark in English literature.

Imminent Schism?

I'm particularly worried about the intemperate language being used here.

At least if the game is close the loser can save some self-respect. Not like when my beloved Chargers were humiliated before the nation. But I live in hope: maybe next year...

Prayer Request

Our youngest is going for a biopsy on a tumour on Monday. It's very worrying to say the least. Please include her in your prayers. Thanks.