Finally, the Rocky Mountain News is covering the huge prolife protest sign unveiled on a nearby mountainside. "The American Right To Life Action unveiled a sign on North Table Mountain with dimensions the groups says set a new record for protest signs as measured by the Guinness Book of World Records. The group hopes delegates, journalists and convention-goers will be able to see the sign which reads, "Destroys uNborn Children."
The sign measures 530 feet tall by 666 feet wide, according to the press release. It has the letters D-N-C in huge yellow capitals arranged vertically.
Former Colorado Republican Party chairman and ARTL Action president Steve Curtis said the group began to hike up the mountain at 1 a.m. and finished erecting the sign at 8:30 a.m."
And it is 1:50 pm MT as I type.
"The protest sign weighs more than 2,700 pounds and was sewed together with more than four miles of seams connecting 2,400 sheets and backpacked onto location and is being unfurled by 44 letter carriers with spotters a mile away to ensure proper letter placement,"
What is interesting is that the topic of the protest did not make it into the running headline that provides the link.
What is emphasized in the brief article is the Guinness Book of World Records aspect of this effort and it is the picture that reveals the point of the whole thing.
"Destoys uNborn Children"
Here is the Fox video of the sign:
Whatever breaks through the media blockade, I guess.
Still no reference to Chaput's statement yesterday or his speech last night at the prayer vigil outside a Planned Parenthood center in Denver.
I'm not a conservative conspiracy theory afficianado at all. I worked my way through my last undergraduate year as a (quelle horror!!!) National Public Radio announcer (news and classical music). It was loads better than waiting tables. I like NPR. I like PBS. I'm not a neo-con, paleo-con, or theo-con. So far as I know. Cause I'm not entirely sure what those terms mean but they do get thrown around St. Blog's like they were categories out of revelation.
But this does raise the troubling question of how much of our political life is affected by the willingness or ability of journalists to cover the whole story. If you were a journalist who was a hard core Obama supporter, would you hesitate to cover a story that distracted negatively from your candidate's moment at the Democratic National Convention? Especially if your peers weren't covering it - and it isn't wasn't your editor's priority? A story that reminded Catholic swing voters in no uncertain terms of the Church's clear and historic opposition to one of your candidate's major policy positions?
ROME, AUG. 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A good homily cannot be prepared as if it were any type of communication; it requires the foundation of the priest's personal Christian witness and a clear and concrete message, affirmed a specialist in communications.
Father Dario Viganò, director of "Cinema" and president of Ente dello Spettacolo, an Italian foundation dedicated to the cinema, as well as president of the Redemptor Hominis Pontifical Institute at the Pontifical Lateran University, spoke with L'Osservatore Romano about the recipe for a good homily.
Homilies are a complex communication genre, the author maintains, affirming that a good homily is not a copy or adaptation of discourses found in the media.
And to look at communication effectiveness in a homily, he said, it is not a question of classifying them into categories: divisions ranging from "'spot' homilies, to 'blog'-newspaper type homilies, to 'hypertext' homilies that make daring connections between distant arguments, to 'chakra' homilies -- New Age narrations with strong suggestions and vague meanings."
Instead, Father Viganò affirmed, homilies have the "profile of a communication that is sacramental," and that should enable the listener "to hear God, who speaks."
"To talk about homilies, therefore, means to be aware that they are made up of complexity and beauty," the communications scholar added. "Even if they have been marginalized, poorly treated, at times complicated and clericalized […] homilies are in any case a truly essential and indispensable center of the liturgy."
"There is no lack of studies aimed at developing a systematic, even a virtual methodology of the homily," he continued. "From of old, dictionaries of homiletics exist, texts that suggest methods of preparation using different models of homilies, including already prepared outlines."
Yet, despite this, there is no "model" homily, the priest contended. "A homily must be conceived as the common and shared hearing of Revelation that comes through the Word and history."
Despite its complexity, Father Viganò pointed out two important aspects to ensure that a homily achieves its communicative objective: the consistency of the preacher's life and the brevity and concreteness of the message.
Quoting a phrase of St. Bernardine of Siena, patron of advertisers, the priest emphasized that the key lies in the clarity of the homily. "The preacher must speak very, very clearly, so that the listener will leave satisfied and illumined, and not dazzled."
In regard to consistency, the author recalled a phrase from philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who said that "the difference between a pastor and an actor is precisely the existential moment: The pastor must be poor when he preaches about poverty; he must be slandered when he exhorts to endurance in slander. While the actor has the task of deceiving by eliminating the existential moment, the preacher in fact has the duty, in the most profound sense, to preach with his own life."
In regard to brevity, the priest explained that it is a question of avoiding both "non-existent homilies" as well as "endless homilies."
"St. Francis," Father Viganò recalled "exhorted his friars to use pondered and chaste words in their preaching, for the usefulness and edification of the people, proclaiming to the faithful the vices and virtues, the punishment and glory, with a brief speech, because on earth the Lord spoke brief words."
Yesterday, Yunkyung and I went to his farmhouse in the country. He has a small home – almost a retreat, really, on a plot of land overlooking a narrow mountain valley filled with rice paddies and a small country village. During the day, the air is filled with the sounds of nature: cicadas thrumming, birdsongs, the faint gurgling of a brook that runs through his property. Yunkyung comes here most weekends, as a place to write and reflect with little or no interruption.
Over the last fifteen years, he’s planted ginkgo, apricot, chestnut trees, and a number of pines. Yunkyung has also planted a variety of other herbs and plants. Virtually everything has some use, usually medicinal. He treated me to a glass of what he called apricot tea. It was almost a syrup, made from apricots he had dried, then put in a large jar with water and sugar last year. He poured a few teaspoons into a glass, added some pomegranate vinegar, and cold water from the spring on his property. It was absolutely delicious; very refreshing. Without the vinegar it is almost too sweet.
Last night we cleared an area of weeds and vines and planted napa cabbage and small daikon radishes that will be used to make homemade kimchee in the autumn. We had dinner in the village in his favorite restaurant. There were four low tables only – and no chairs; a very traditional way of eating in Korea. The food was wonderful and plentiful: a variety of kimchee, small raw squid in a spicy sauce, a fluffy egg soufflé-like dish, delicious salted fish, and a stew made of kimchee and tofu, rice and what the Japanese call nori (thin rectangles of salted dried seaweed which I love with rice). It only cost 10,000 won – about 11 dollars.
Before arriving at his farm, we stopped on the way at a nearby Buddhist monastery and temple that boasts an 1100 year-old ginkgo tree. While we sat in the shade of one of the buildings, Yunkyung mentioned that Buddhist religious life is more similar to Catholic religious life than the life of Protestant ministers. He was thinking about the role of celibacy in both Catholicism and Buddhism, but we spoke a little about other aspects as well.
I mentioned the Benedictine motto of “ora et labora” (prayer and work), and he said Buddhist monastic communities had a similar custom. Many such communities would farm the land around the monastery to provide their own food. Those that did not have arable land, like the monastery we visited high up a mountain valley, would send monks into the neighboring villages in the valleys below the monastery to beg for grain and other foodstuffs, while preaching Buddhist tenets to the farmers. Sounds similar to the early days of the mendicant communities like the Dominicans and Franciscans.
“Nowadays,” Cha said, “many Buddhist communities are rich. Individual monks even have their own passenger cars.”
That, too, sounds like religious communities in the west. How easy it is for us religious to forget the witness of a life of simplicity, even some austerity, in a consumption-driven world.
“Still,” he added, “there are some monks who are deeply devoted to prayer and meditation. One monk who recently died, went seven years without lying down. When he wasn’t eating or working, he was sitting in the lotus position in prayer and meditation. He became the head of his order of monks, and when he died, there were so many people at his funeral...”
My friend, Yunkyung, who is not religious, nevertheless meditates regularly. He said he began in 1999, and even went to a meditation house for awhile. The vibrant, radical practice of a faith tradition will almost inevitably engender some level of curiosity in others.
Catholic religious life has ideally been a way to practice the faith in a radical way. Not only has it been meant as a way of identifying more deeply with the humanity of Christ, it has also meant to remind those living “in the world” that there is more to life than power, autonomy, wealth, and family; that there’s more to life than this life. The danger is religious life can become merely an “alternative lifestyle,” not calling lay people to incorporate prayer, reliance upon God’s providence, and service of others into their own lives, but becoming a remarkably different way of being a Christian. Then the impact of religious life on the lives of lay people is profoundly diminished. We become the ones who have been called by God, while everyone else can feel free to live according to their own desires. In a culture that has become increasingly filled with specialists, religious become the religious professionals – the only ones competent to evangelize or catechize. In a situation such as this, one might well ask, “what can the religious learn from the lay person?” and come up with the answer, “nothing.”
Perhaps it was this question, or the sense that religious life was having little or no impact on the lives of lay people, that led religious to abandon traditional habits and communal life after the Council. Returning to the fundamental charism of their founders would not have required – or even called for – the changes in externals, but something had been lost in their meaning along the way.
One of the questions I must struggle to answer for myself is, “how does one live a distinctive religious life today that points to a life beyond this one, while at the same time respecting the profound value of the lay vocation to transform society through a radical following of Christ in this life?”
My friend, Cha Yunkyung, while not overtly religious, has cultivated a life that would be suitable for Catholic lay people. He is deeply devoted to his family as well as the university students he teaches (the children of his former students call him ‘grandpa’). He is involved in research investigating the ways in which people are educated around the world and is a founding member of the recently established Korean Association for Multicultural Education. He is at home in nature and utilizes its bounty for himself and others, and he meditates to help develop self-control. From what little I understand about the life of a Confucian scholar, he seems to fit the model. From what I know about how Catholic lay people are to live, he has a lot of those characteristics, too – and I find a lot to respect and value in his life.
We're talking more and more about religion and about God. He certainly respects my faith.
I've yet to find any coverage of Archbishop Chaput's response to Nancy Pelosi anywhere in the MSM. Certainly neither the Denver Post nor the Rocky Mountain News have mentioned it, nor has our local Gazette.
It seems to be strictly Catholic bloggers and media who even acknowledge that it happened.
If the Archbishop of Minneapolis-St. Paul issued a rebuke like that to a major GOP player during the Republican convention next week, sometime tells me we would be hearing about it.
Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, have issued the following statement:
"In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.
The Church has always taught that human life deserves respect from its very beginning and that procured abortion is a grave moral evil. In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.
These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church has long taught that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life. "
This will not stand. She has forced the US Bishops to publicly repudiate her statement.
Archbishop Chaput of Denver is smart, savvy, and extremely articulate. I am sure that the image of Nancy Pelosi trying to portray herself as ardent Catholic who was reluctantly convinced by long study of the unsettled state of the Church's teaching on the subject of abortion lifted him to new heights of eloquence.
When I say Chaput is smart, i mean that he carefully retains the distinctions that Catholic teaching on the subject demands even while making as strong a case as he can against abortion.
"But it’s on Page 229. “My friends often ask me if Catholics in genuinely good conscience can vote for a pro-choice candidate. The answer is I couldn’t. Supporting a right to choose abortion simply masks and evades what abortion really is, the deliberate killing of innocent life. I know of nothing that can morally offset that kind of evil.”
"I couldn't" The Archbishop carefully retains the distinction between his personal prudential judgement of the situation and his teaching office as Bishop.
And then goes to outline a different scenario in response to another question:
"Archbishop, I want to go back to the abortion discussion. Quoting again from one of the later chapters in your book, “One of the pillars of Catholic thought is this – don’t deliberately kill the innocent, and don’t collude in allowing it. We sin if we support candidates because they support a false right to abortion. We sin if we support pro-choice candidates without a truly proportionate reason for doing so, that is a reason grave enough to outweigh our obligation to end the killing of the unborn. And what would a proportionate reason look like? It would be a reason we could, with an honest heart, expect the unborn victims of abortion to accept when we meet them and need to explain our actions as we someday will.” Are you aware of any such proportionate actions out there, proportionate reasons right now, Archbishop?
CC: Well, let me give you two answers to that. You know, as I say, it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion there are proportionate reasons.
But here’s a case where I’m certain there would be. If you have two candidates running for the same office, they’re the only choices, both of them are pro-choice, but one is much better on the other issues than the other. I think that you can choose the lesser of two evils with a clear conscience.
You don’t have to. You can decide not to vote, or you can vote for a third person who couldn’t be elected. But in those circumstances, you would be voting for a pro-choice candidate, but not because the person is pro-choice, but because the alternative is a worse situation.
I also know that, and this is the second point, I know many good Catholics who have given a lot of serious thought to the abortion issue, and will still vote for a candidate who is pro-choice. They’ll try to discourage that person from holding that position, they’ll work really hard within their party to get the party to change its platform if it’s pro-abortion. But they’ve kind of examined all the issues, and weighed them together, and still feel that in a particular situation, that the candidate that they are going to vote for who is pro-choice is a better of the two. And the Church, you know, says you can do that if you have a truly proportionate reason.
And I hope they work hard at it, and I don’t always understand how they arrive at their conclusion. It’s hard to imagine in my mind anything worse than the destruction of more than a million unborn children in our country every year through abortion. But I think that sincere people really do arrive at those conclusions sometimes."
Pelosi: "I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that def-inition . . . St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose."
"Since Speaker Pelosi has, in her words, studied the issue "for a long time," she must know very well one of the premier works on the subject, Jesuit John Connery's Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective (Loyola, 1977). Here's how Connery concludes his study:
"The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm antiabortion attitude . . . The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation. Even during the many centuries when Church penal and penitential practice was based on the theory of delayed animation, the condemnation of abortion was never affected by it. Whatever one would want to hold about the time of animation, or when the fetus became a human being in the strict sense of the term, abortion from the time of conception was considered wrong, and the time of animation was never looked on as a moral dividing line between permissible and impermissible abortion."
Or to put it in the blunter words of the great Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
"Destruction of the embryo in the mother's womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed on this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder."
Ardent, practicing Catholics will quickly learn from the historical record that from apostolic times, the Christian tradition overwhelmingly held that abortion was grievously evil. In the absence of modern medical knowledge, some of the Early Fathers held that abortion was homicide; others that it was tantamount to homicide; and various scholars theorized about when and how the unborn child might be animated or "ensouled." But nonediminished the unique evil of abortion as an attack on life itself, and the early Church closely associated abortion with infanticide. In short, from the beginning, the believing Christian community held that abortion was always, gravely wrong.
Of course, we now know with biological certainty exactly when human life begins. Thus, today's religious alibis for abortion and a so-called "right to choose" are nothing more than that - alibis that break radically with historic Christian and Catholic belief.
Abortion kills an unborn, developing human life. It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions employed to justify it. Catholics who make excuses for it - whether they're famous or not - fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith.
The duty of the Church and other religious communities is moral witness. The duty of the state and its officials is to serve the common good, which is always rooted in moral truth. A proper understanding of the "separation of Church and state" does not imply a separation of faith from political life. But of course, it's always important to know what our faith actuallyteaches."
Wow. Praise God and pass the ammunition . . . There will no lack of clarity in Chaput's town this week - at least about what the Church Church teaches on the subject of abortion. Pelosi walked right into that one.
How Denver congregations are responding to the DNC. Some are feeling crowded out, others are welcoming delegates with open arms.
"While the city finally released the list of street closures last week, churches still feel left out of the process and without answers to key questions.
For example, will regular worshippers be able to reach them? What about parking? And what about access for the poor and homeless who depend on the churches' outreach services and daily sandwich lines?
"That's been an ongoing hassle with the city," said the Rev. Kevin Maly, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 16th and Grant, which feeds up to 1,000 poor people every day. "We're getting nothing from them. They don't ever talk to us. It's an ongoing thing."
The city didn't respond to three requests from the Rocky for comment.
Burned by the city's silence during past events, Maly is in a fighting mood: "I am personally committed to challenging any attempts to limit access to St. Paul," he said, in a subsequent e-mail.
"It's pretty unclear at the local level," agreed the Rev. Chrysostom Frank, pastor of St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church, which is adjacent to the designated protest route along Speer Boulevard.
St. Elizabeth's plans to continue its daily noon Masses, even though they fall at the height of the protest hours. That is, as long as worshippers can get there - "and as long as I can get there," Frank said.
I can't get onto the Cathedral's website. Overwhelmed, I'm sure.
Please pray for The Other Sherry's brother-in-law, Jonathan. He has a 2 cm mass in the sinus cavity behind his left eye; it is pressing on his optic nerve, has eaten into the bone, and may be getting into his brain. He went in for an emergency CT scan this weekend, and sees an advanced ENT/surgeon today. He’ll be having surgery soon.
Please pray for God’s healing and peace for him and his family.
Add to everything else going on in Denver today, this very impressive tornado that set down in south Denver. Reporters are already complaining about the daily afternoon thunderstorms.
(Denver, contrary to popular reputation, actually lies on the plains, (A "mile high" is the lowlands around here) not in the mountains, and does experience tornados. They are extremely rare in Colorado Springs because we are situated in the foothills of the mountains.)
Abortion has already taken center stage at the Democratic National Convention.
At the Interfaith Gathering today, Bishop Charles E. Blake, presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ, called on presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama to "follow through on his promise ... to reduce the number of abortions" while stopping just short of criticizing the Democratic Party for its support of the practice.
"Surely we cannot be pleased with ... millions of terminated pregnancies," Blake said to applause from the nearly full Wells Fargo Theater. "Something within us must be calling for a better way. If we do not resist at this point, at what point will we resist?"
Democrats must know about the "moral and spirtual pain so many of us feel because of this disregard for the lives of the unborn," Blake said.
In a speech focusing on society's responsibility to its children, Blake first focused on the plight of the inner-city poor as a human rights responsibility before calling abortion a practice "that conflicts with our position and our responsibility ... to human rights itself."
Blake also reserved some fire for pro-life Republicans -- comments that, either inadvertently or not, served as a response to three anti-abortion protesters who were evicted early in the event after disrupting the gathering with shouts that Obama is "a baby killer."
Although Blake intimated he was frustrated with his party's support of abortion, he praised its positions for the helpless in other ways.
"Others loudly proclaim their advocacy for the unborn," he said, receiving a standing ovation, "but they refuse to recognize their responsibility and the responsibility of our nation to those who have been born.