Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Aloha Means Goodbye (For Now)

I will stop updating Catholic Girl Talk beginning now. This is my senior year of college and I have obligations that do not allow me to maintain the blog. Though Catholic Girl Talk is a group blog, I had been doing about 99 percent of the posts and 100 percent of the site maintenance. So while I hope that the other lovely ladies who are listed as contributors on this page will be able to post, I think the blog will effectively become inactive. However, I do hope to return to the site sometime around the beginning of the year to start updating again.

Thanks to all the readers out there who have taken the time to stop by and leave comments. It's so amazing to learn that people take the time to read what I have to say. And many, many thanks to fellow bloggers (linked on the sidebar) who have linked to CGT or added it to their blogrolls. It's really awesome to know you have confidence enough in this site to direct your readers to it. Thanks especially to the guys of Catholicae Testudines for all their help and encouragement.

Finally, please keep me in your prayers during my last year of school. More importantly, however, let's make the horrors of the storm Katrina are defeated with another storm - that of our prayers in Heaven.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina and the Little Sisters of the Poor

I received this e-mail today from Sr. Julie of the Little Sisters of the Poor and thought I'd pass it on to you. This is a wonderful order of religious women who humbly serve Our Lord in the elderly and infirm. Please keep the sisters and those they care for in your prayers at this very difficult time:

Someone directed me to your blog, and this is the first chance I've had to
contact you. I looked at it a couple of weeks ago, and hadn'treturned until
today, when I read all of your entries about Hurricane Katrina. We've been
affected by Katrina also. We have homes for the elderly poor all over the US
(including Baltimore and DC), and the Sisters and Residents in the home in New
Orleans had to evacuate to Baton Rouge the other day. They've had a rough time of
it, but all are alive, thank God. Today is the feast day of our Mother
Foundress, Blessed Jeanne Jugan, and we are thanking her and Our Lady of Prompt
Succor in a special way for watching over our homes in New Orleans and Mobile the
past few days. I hope that all of your family are doing ok; I'd be interested to
find out if you know our Little Sisters down there(or up here, for that matter).
God bless!


More info on the Little Sisters of the Poor, Bl. Jeanne Jugan

Monday, August 29, 2005

He Came Toward Them, Walking on the Sea

From The Times-Picayune:

Monday, 8:05 p.m.

At St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter, two large trees were uprooted
in the courtyard behind the church. Branches were strewn all over the
place.

But a statue of Jesus, arms outstretched, stood unscathed and became the
subject of great excitement among visitors.


Evacuees scattered across the nation have been pretty upset by the coverage of the 24-hour news networks, it seems. Of course, they want to know about their own neighborhoods, which is understandable. I want to know about my hometown, too, but I've only heard scattered information from friends in the Baton Rouge area. Of course, it's impossible right now for many journalists to get into storm-ravaged areas, let alone report on specific neighborhoods. My advice to all evacuees looking for local info: Check the websites for WWL or The Times-Picayune. Also check out the blogs linked in the previous post.

Hurricane Party

Well, not really. But I'm missing my family a bit because they're all gathered in Houston right now to escape the hurricane. Last night they had a big spaghetti dinner together, while I ate leftovers in my apartment alone watching TV worrying about them. I wish I could be with them. Stuffed into extra beds at the homes of extended family members are: My mom, my dad, my sister, my brother, my sister-in-law, her parents, her grandmother, her grandmother's friend, her two younger sisters and younger brother, my parents' friends (husband and wife), their daughter, their grandmother and two rabbits.

Thankfully, New Orleans missed the absolute worst of the storm, and we don't know yet how my parents' house in Slidell is doing, but gratefully everyone is OK. But please keep your prayers going to Our Lady of Prompt Succor that all rescue efforts will be successful, that emergency crews will be protected in their work in the coming days and that all those returning home to Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast will be cooperative with authorities, safe on the highways and know that God will be with them whatever they find - or don't find - when they get back home.

Here are some bloggers covering Katrina from the storm-ravaged areas. Via Terry Teachout.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Hasten to Help Us

I ask everyone reading this post to please say a Hail Mary, asking Our Lady of Prompt Succor - who is patronness of the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana - that through her intercession Our Lord will stretch out His hand to protect Louisianians and all those who will be affected by Hurricane Katrina. Our Lady saved the city from the British during the Battle of New Orleans; we pray that she will save the city now from Katrina.

My family, who live in Slidell, about 20 miles NE of New Orleans, evacuated to Houston last night. I'm concerned about my sister-in-law's' parents, who stayed because they were worried their mom (my sister-in-law's grandmother, in her 80s) wouldn't be able to handle a long evacuation. Also, my Confirmation sponsor, Laura and her husband, Dave, who just had their first child 13 days ago are having to evacuate with a newborn, which I can only imagine is unbelievable stress.

Please pray for them, for all those on the roads heading out, all those who can't get out and who will (hopefully) be staying in shelters and for all those working to ensure their safety.

More on Our Lady of Prompt Succor here and here.

Litany of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.

Website for the New Orleans' Ursulines, who started the devotion to Our Lady of Prompt Succor (though their page about her doesn't seem to be working right now).

More on Hurricane Katrina from WWL, New Orleans' most popular local TV station.

Catholic with a Southern Complexion

A Catholic story on a London Times piece about Catholics in the South.

The London Times (I can't link directly to the story. Type in "young Catholic" on their search engine) .

IN THE popular imagination, religion in the US Deep South, home of
rednecks, Scarlett O’Hara and the Ku Klux Klan, was always a heady mixture of
Confederate pride, bigotry and hellfire fundamentalism. But things are changing,
and one of the most striking changes is the rapid growth of a Catholic Church
with a particularly Southern complexion. ...

This New Catholicism is young and optimistic, but it is unlikely to
tolerate the open dissent that went with the 1970s and the “cultural
Catholicism” of generations past. That form of Catholicism is dying, and its
death is symbolised by the northern US parishes with plummeting congregations, a
shortage of priests and huge debts as they pay off child-abuse scandals. It
seems that in the parishes where “anything goes”, everybody went.

H/T And God's First.

Overheard on Campus

A cell phone conversation, while I was walking across a parking lot:

Male student: So I moved in, and the dude had Playboy pictures all over the wall. That's just really inappropriate. [Listens as person on other end says something].
Male student: Yeah, I know, but it's one thing if he puts those up in his own room, but it's another that he has them all over the living room. I mean, we have people come over and stuff. I don't want that up on the walls.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hail Mary Land


Our Lady of the Pastoral Assistant's Door.

This year's theme at the University of Maryland Catholic Student Center is "Hail Mary Land" (Get it? Get it?). In honor of this theme and because he was bored one night, Mike (of this blog) created this lovely piece of Marian art out of Post-It notes. Yes, Post-It notes. It took him 5 hours. Then he mounted it our on pastoral assistant's office door. If you'll notice, the piece is 3-D. There is a letter box on the door (like the one to the right of the door in the photo) that gives the effect that Our Lady is pregnant. Brilliant.

Mike also has some more info here on the Catholic Terps.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

ITB: Creation and Civilizations

One of Pope Benedict's arguments in In the Beginning for why we should study and reflect upon Genesis is the place of honor given to creation stories in basically every civilization throughout history. Think about it: If you've studied Babylonia, Egypt, Rome, Greece, East Asia, native populations, etc., what is one of the first things you learned? Their creation stories. Creation stories define the essence of a civilization - what those people believe about who created them, how they were created, why they were created and what that tells them about themselves.

It is no different for us Christians. To discover more about ourselves and our God, we need to go back to the beginning. We need to study Genesis' account of creation and the fall, and that need is not obscured by what science has to teach us about the origins of life on earth.

In addition, the pope points out that different civilizations' creation stories all point to the inherent human yearning and capacity for the divine:
Israel always believed in the Creator God, and this faith it shared with
all the great civilizations of the ancient world. For, even in the moments when
monotheism was eclipsed, all the great civilizations always knew of the Creator
of heaven and earth. There is a surprising commonality here even between
civilizations that could never have been in contact with one another. In this
commonality we can get a good grasp of the profound and never altogether lost
contact that human beings had with God's truth.

Catholic Terps on the Move

Well, I leave my parents' house in Louisiana for my senior year (insert Maculley Culkin Home Alone scream here) at the University of Maryland Thursday morning (7 a.m. flight...ouch). Your prayers are appreciated for safe travel and a stress-free move in to my apartment ("stress-free move" - is that an oxymoron?)

Also, prayers for Joey of American Catholic in Russia as he heads to...you guessed it - Russia! He's also flying out Thursday and will be there the entire year studying. And a prayer of thanksgiving that a friend and fellow Catholic Terp, Tim, is back in the U.S. safe and sound after 11 months studying in Japan!

ITB: Creation and Racism

For all those stopping by from Open Book, be sure to also check out our brother blog, Catholicae Testudines, where there is also discussion of Pope Benedict's In the Beginning going on. Today, Peter has a post over there about creation and racism.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

ITB: Things To Keep in Mind

Pope Benedict XVI points out early in his first homily in In the Beginning that the now standard Catholic response to the story of creation and the fall is something like, "Genesis is not a science textbook and neither are science textbooks religious texts. We don't read Genesis to discover scientific truths and we don't study evolution to discover religious truths. We need to appreciate each for what it is."

While the then-Cardinal Ratzinger says he agrees with that, that alone is not a sufficient understanding of Genesis. He raises two points in his argument to move to a more complete understanding of creation and the fall.

First:
For when we are told that we have to distinguish between the images themselves
and what those images mean, then we can ask in turn: Why wasn't that said
earlier? Evidently it must have been taught differently at one time or Galileo
would never have been put on trial. And so the suspicion grows that
ultimately perhaps this way of viewing things is only a trick of the church and
theologions who have run out of solutions but who do not want to admit it, and
now they are looking for something to hide behind...There is an almost
ineluctable fear that we will gradually end up in emptiness and that the time
will come when there will be nothing left to defend and hide behind, that the
whole landscape of Scripture and of the faith will be overrun by a kind of
"reason" that will no longer be able to take any of this seriously.


And second:
For one can ask: If theologians or even the church can shift the boundaries
here [in Genesis] between image and intention, between what lies buried in
the past and what is of enduring value, why can they not do so elsewhere - as,
for instance, with respect to Jesus' miracles? And if there, why not also with
respect to what is absolutely central - the cross and the resurrection of the
Lord?

B16 gives two answers on how we can distinguish between the images in Genesis and the reality of the Gospels (though reality might not be the right word here, since that implies Genesis is "unreal"). The first is the unity of the Bible, that it was not written as a novel from start to finish but "is, rather, the echo of God's history with his people." The second "criterion" is Christ. The Old Testament is not the end of the story. It points toward Christ and He is the one who illuminates Scripture.

Those two criterion were recognized throughout most of Church history, B16 wrote, and it is only in the modern times that we have abandoned this.
The new historical thinking wanted to read every text in itself, in its bare
literalness...As a result of this isolation from the whole and of this
literal-mindedness with respect to particulars, which contradicts the entire
inner nature of the Bible but which was now considered to be the truly
scientific approach, there arose that conflict between the natural sciences and
theology which has been, up to our own day, a burden for the faith. This did not
have to be the case, because the faith was, from its very beginnings, greater,
broader, and deper. Even today faith in creation is not unreal; even today it is
not unreasonable;even from the perspective of the data of the natural sciences
it is the "better hypothesis," offering a fuller and better explanation that any
of the other theories. Faith is reasonable. The reasonableness of creation
derives from God's Reason, and there is no other really convincing explanation.

Sign Me Up for Prof. Cacciaguida's Class

On the intro he gave in his constitutional law course.

Proud Member: JPII Generation

Those crazy young Catholics. First they embrace Pope John Paul, then Pope Benedict, they adore Christ in the Eucharist all night in Cologne and...next thing you know, they're doing weird things like praying the Rosary with each other!

But don't let that fool you, they still play pool in their free time. Heck, they even look like regular college students! (Or so Newsweek says...it could be a Romish conspiracy...I mean, they are "unapologetically judgmental of the unconverted.")

As you may have seen, Newsweek's cover story this week is on spirituality in America. In between highlighting Pentecostals and Kabbalah, they wrote about young Catholics (who's cool now, Katie Holmes?).

One of my favorite lines (and there are oh so many in this story):
They pray together daily and convene once a week to share the long, ritualistic
prayer of the rosary, which is more commonly performed by folks their
grandmothers' age.


Yeah, the Rosary...so long and ritualistic...15 whole minutes! Well, I guess it is longer than most Protestant wedding ceremonies...

I mean, er, woops...that must've been my unapologetic judgment of the unconverted.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Magi



Well, World Youth Day has passed and now hopefully those pilgrims who attended will have safe trips home and will continue to respond to the graces they received on their trip. We're also excited about WYD2008 in Sydney - my sister and I are determined to go (send money!).

I tried very hard during this WYD to be united in prayer with the pilgrims in Cologne. And the more I think about it, the more I see how fitting it is that the Magi - those 3 wise men from the East - were patrons of this gathering of young people. Not only did they come to worship the Lord, they had to struggle to get there - they saw their destination, but at the same time they didn't know where it was. If their story isn't the story of young people, then I don't know what is.

This is my final year of college and as excited as I am about it, I'm also very nervous. Am I sure the majors I've chosen and dedicated 3 years to studying are actually what I want to pursue after college? What if I don't find a job right away? Where do I want to live - in Louisiana with my family, in Maryland with my friends, somewhere else?

I vaguely see my destination: Of course, THE destination is Heaven. But more proximately my destination is a job in print or online media that allows me to be engaged with the issues of today, that challenges me, but that also gives me time with my family and friends, that complements my life in Christ and that doesn't demand so much of my time that I feel torn between it and family.

But how do I get there? Do I go into hard news reporting at a MSM newspaper like I had originally planned and, if so, do I follow a good job anywhere in the country? Or do I go into Catholic media? If so, what kind of Catholic media? Diocesan, independent? Should I pursue a rather wild dream of creating my own online magazine/interactive website? And if I do, should I do that right away or should I work somewhere else first to save up money?

And I'm sure my own wrestling with these issues is repeateded over and over and over in the lives of young people around the world, who struggle with turning their dreams into reality and with finding the place over which their star shines.

Of course, the star in each of our lives is the light of Christ. We are each a creation of the mind and heart of God, so He is the one leading us on to the things that will give glory to Him.

But when the Magi saw the star appear in the sky, they knew only that it lay to the west of them. They didn't know that it hung over that one house in that one small town of Bethlehem. At its first rising, it could have appeared as far away as Rome or as close as the Tigris. But their destination was the star, and they would follow it where ever it would lead them. So they packed up their things, mounted those camels (or donkeys or horses or whatever) and headed west.

So what do young people have to learn from the Magi? Quite a bit.

The first thing is to head west, young man, and know that the Lord's grace will shine forth when you have reached your destination. And what a destination it will be - an encounter with Christ Himself.

ITB: Getting started

Well, discussion on our last summer book, the former Cardinal Ratzinger's In the Beginning, has come late (my fault). Peter at CT got it started on Friday with this post on Pope Benedict's great talent in Biblical scholarship - that he "marries our new knowledge with our spirituality so as to produce a theologically sound and productive interpretation."

I don't really read biblical scholarship, but the first thing B16 points out in this work (which is composed of 4 homilies he gave as part of a Lenten reflection several years ago) is that he thinks modern biblical scholars and theologians have failed by ignoring the great riches that are found in the book of Genesis. This is probably true, since I remember when reading Pope John Paul's Memory and Identity that I was struck by his use of the first three chapters of Genesis, so his liberal use of the text must have been important to me since I'd never really seen it before.

But Pope Benedict approaches Genesis from a different angle than PJP did. I guess I had not recognized until I read this work that in addition to the two creation stories in Genesis, there are several others throughout Scripture, the most important of which begins the Gospel of John. There is also more than one story of the fall. The Holy Father does a wonderful job showing how the details of each creation story respond to the circumstances of the time, particularly how Genesis' creation and fall address pagan beliefs in that day. But it's evident that the more things change, the more they stay the same - how well Genesis' accounts address ideas of today.

B16 also points out the unity of Holy Scripture. He makes clear that those who read Genesis - indeed read any of the Old Testament - without reflecting upon it's relationship to Christ will get little out of it. We must read the story of creation and the fall forward, not backward, which is what we do when we read it in isolation from the revelation of Christ.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Pregnancy Tests at Maryland

Story from The Diamondback about student pregnancy counselors at the UMD health center. It's a very interesting read, though I thought the story could have been written much more smoothly and focused a bit less on why men aren't counselors and more on what exactly the process is when a woman comes in for a pregnancy test. This story doesn't mention it, but other stories from The Diamondback have mentioned that the university health center refuses to refer pregnant women to pro-life pregnancy clinics.

But my favorite quote from the story is from the university's sexual health director:
Another trend she noticed and said she can’t explain is a marked increase
in the number of women who are happy and excited about their positive test
results.

“When I was doing counseling, that hardly ever happened,” Torchia
said.


What?! College-aged women who embrace their unborn children and are willing to work to take care of them? What a scandal!

Needless to say, all of us need to pray for these young women and offer whatever support we can to student moms.

Two Perspectives on B16 and the Synagogue

Pope Benedict XVI visited a Cologne synagogue today and the two MSM reports I've read have been wildly different.

From the AP via Yahoo.

From the Washington Post

I'm not one to bust all over the media for bias in reporting because, well, being a journalist (in training) myself, I don't think there's as much anti-Catholic stuff out there as some people think and, generally, I know how difficult it is to be fair and balanced in reporting and writing and then have to deal with news editors and copy editors.

But the difference between these two stories is striking.

The AP story (which it appears CNN has liberally used in drafting its own story) focuses mainly on the pope's remarks regarding rising anti-Semitism and even mentions that he got healthy applause. It does mention the recent Vatican-Israel quibble over the pope's condemnation of terrorist attacks, but notes that inclusion of Israel's ambassador to Germany assures us that is past us.

The Post article, however, brushes aside the pope's comments on anti-Semitism and focuses much more on possible sources of contention between Catholics and Jews, specifically noting that B16 "stopped short of apologizing for the Catholic church's failure to take a stronger public stand against the Nazis during World War II and the Holocaust."

Both included the quote: "I would encourage sincere and trustful dialogue between Jews and Christians, for only in this way will it be possible to arrive at a shared interpretation of disputed historical questions."

The AP story implies that the "disputed historical questions" are faith-related (and it also gives the more complete quote). The Post story implies the "disputed historical questions" are about the Church's response to the Holocaust. So which one is it? I haven't read the full text of the pope's remarks, but based on the complete quote given by the AP, it seems their interpretation is correct.

I actually know the Post reporter, Craig Whitlock, who covered this story. He was a Maryland statehouse reporter for the Post at the same time I was one for Capital News Service. I didn't like him much then - he was a get in, get out, I-don't-have-to-be-friendly-with-other-reporters-because-I'm-from-the-Post kind of guy. Or, at least that was my impression from the 3 months I worked with him. After that, he was transferred to Germany and it seems now mostly covers the military from there, though he's also done stuff on the EU constitution. Needless to say, I doubt he has much experience with WYD, the Vatican or Catholic-Jewish relations.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

One Man's Trash...

Come one, come all to the UMD Catholic Student Center's Flea Market (read: very large garage sale) on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Catholic Terps headquarters (4141 Guilford Road, College Park, Md.). All proceeds will benefit the Catholic Terps' second annual pilgrimage to the Eternal City next spring. The first pilgrimage, this past January, was truly a blessing and the Catholic Terps got to attend Pope John Paul II's second-to-last general audience. In the spring, the pilgrims will visit Assisi and Orvieto in addition to Rome.

The Catholic Student Center has been collecting items for the flea market for months and the sale promises to be full of great bargains (but not really, really great bargains - we are trying to get to Rome, after all)! Spread the word about the flea market on Sept. 10 and if you have any items to donate, contact the Catholic Student Center.

Daughters of the King Retreat


If you or anyone you know is in the DC metro area, let them know that all interested high school girls are invited to this daylong retreat Sept. 17 hosted by UMD's court of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. Most of the schedule of the day will focus on chastity. If you don't know anyone who'd be interested, just pray for the court as they put on the retreat, especially Laura, our retreat planner, who is currently in Cologne for WYD. Contact the Catholic Terps.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Today's J-School

PressThink has this post reporting on a recent conference of J-school professors, including two from UMD. The first is Maureen Beasley (who, I think teaches only one course - women in the media - and whom I've never had), and Carl Sessions Stepp, who teaches a range of classes and though I've only had him once, has continued to look out for me and offer encouragement in my years as a journalism student. He's also very well-respected in the industry and his wife, Laura, writes for the Style section of The Post.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

When Did We See You Hungry?


A 2-year-old outside a Doctors Without Borders clinic in Niger, where there is a severe food crisis. Photo from WashPo.

As numerous news stories have pointed out, the U.N. has been totally inept thus far at efficiently distributing food and other aid to the people of Niger. The best bet to donate is to a private organization like Catholic Relief Services, which in addition to an immediate response to the food shortage has drawn up a 6-month plan to help farmers and others in agricultural work to get back on their feet so that international aid doesn't hurt their economy.

Karol and Culture

Despite the fact that it was 4 hours long and should have been split into two shows, Karol: A Man Who Became Pope, which aired last night on the Hallmark channel, was very good. It suffered from the difficultlies inherent in producing biopics, but didn't let that deter the rest of the film (*cough* Therese *cough*).

One of the things I found most interesting was the film's focus on JPII's dedication to culture. As anyone who read any of the late pope's work (especially Memory and Identity) knows, he believed the cultivation and appreciation of culture was a vital force in our relationship with God, with each other and in forming our own identities - national, familial and personal.

Of course, the Nazis knew that too, which is why Hans Frank and the other Nazis depicted in the film constantly bemoan and belittle Polish language, literature, art, history and architecture - in fact, that's the role of their first scene in the film. While the young Karol certainly understands and in many ways respect his friends who take up arms against the Nazis, he knows one of the most meaningful forms of support he can give to the resistance movement is to produce poetry and plays. Those are the things which will remind the Poles of who they are and what the Nazis can't take from them.

Though not depicted in the film, Jews recognized this too. The Reichsvertretung, a nationwide alliance of Jewish groups in Nazi Germany, made it a priority to counter the anti-Semitic and Aryanization laws of the 1930s with an emphasis on teaching children about Jewish culture. Even the ghettoes' Jewish councils, charged with food and labor distribution, organized plays and musical performances.

JPII carried this appreciation of culture through to the communist era, which helped his people recognize that no matter who was running the state, they were still Poles. He certainly carried it even through his reign as pope, which is why I can't understand the few Catholics who insist that we must always be "counter-cultural." Certainly there are aspects of our American culture specifically, Western culture more broadly and the material culture perhaps inherently that we need to resist. But we need to recognize, as JPII did, that the only way of dismantling un-Christian culture is to build up an authentically Christian one - one that is full of beauty, intelligence, wit, truth, justice, loyalty, sacrifice and love.

Psst...

Don't tell anyone, but the NYTimes tells us that researchers told them that interviews with people told them that gossiping about each other is downright healthy!
People find it irresistible for good reason: Gossip not only helps clarify and
enforce the rules that keep people working well together, studies suggest, but
it circulates crucial information about the behavior of others that cannot be
published in an office manual. As often as it sullies reputations, psychologists
say, gossip offers a foothold for newcomers in a group and a safety net for
group members who feel in danger of falling out.


One such "newcomer" mentioned in the story is a 35 year-old teacher who says student gossip helped her learn what students thought of her class:
"To be honest, it made me feel better as a teacher to hear others being put
down," she said. "I was out there on my own, I had no sense of how I was doing
in class, and the gossip gave me some connection. And I felt like it gave me
status, knowing information, being on the inside."


Earth to this teacher: Life just called - it wants you to grow up. You're 35 years old! If you want to know what students think of you, have them do evaluations. I'm not saying I've never gossiped (I am a woman, after all) but our conversation about others really should be to build them up, not to tear them down.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

DKR: "Vigilante" Justice

I apologize for the sparse posting on our second book, Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. I'm posting some stuff on it today and tomorrow. And our discussion of In the Beginning by Pope Benedict starts tomorrow as well. Now, on to the important stuff...

One of the main critiques of Batman that the citizens of Gotham offer - both in Miller's DKR and the film Batman Begins - is that his "vigilante" justice usurps the criminal justice system and moves the application of justice from its rightful place in the hands of the public to those of a single, obsessed man. And in some points in the graphic novel, a character's Catholic faith is given as a reason why they are opposed to his methods.

For example, on pg. 90, it reads that: "A devout Catholic, Peppi Spandeck can't say he approves of this Batman." Or on pg. 102, a priest interviewed on TV says, "Though surrounded by sinfulness and terror, we must not become so embittered that we take Satan's methods as our own."

The questions raised by Batman are if his actions are legitimate and if they're a usurption of rightful state authority.
Certainly Gotham is being continuously attacked and its power structures have become corrupt or impotent in the fight against crime. But there's still a government in place, people are still voting for a mayor, who appoints the police chief, who deals with crime. One could argue that crime and corruption have such a death-grip on Gotham that Batman, if he truly wants to save the city and its people, has no other choice than to be pro-active and unilateral in his assault on crime.

Here's some thoughts from the Catechism:

The common good consists of 1) respect for the person, 2)social well-being and development of the group, 3)peace, "that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority shoudl ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense." [1906-8]

"It is the role of the state to defend and promote the common good of civil society, its citizens, and intermediate bodies." [1911]

The Catechism goes on to say in paragraphs 1913-16 that participation in social interchange is a responsibility of the human person , it begins with responsibility for one's personal life, participation in public life is encouraged and "subterfuges, by which some people evade the constraints of the law and the prescriptions of societal obligation, must be firmly condemned because they are incompatible with the requirements of justice."

WYD: The Goods

Amy Welborn has drawn up this list of online resources, including bloggers, for WYD.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

WYD: Gearing Up

Many of us will, unfortunately, not be able to attend World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, but we can still participate by praying for those attending or otherwise involved in it. The patrons of WYD 2005 are the Three Magi, St. Boniface, St. Ursula, St. Albert Magnus, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and Bl. Adolph Kolping. Also, Pope Benedict XVI has decreed that a plenary indulgence will be granted to those who attentively and religiously attend WYD and a partial indulgence will be granted to those who pray for youth. There are more details to the indulgences, so be sure to check them out here (H/T But I Digress).

He Made It to Cologne


A mosaic of Pope John Paul II, made of thousands of individual photos, is on display at WYD in Cologne, Germany. From CNS.

Oh no! Not another Christian reader!

Our last book of the summer book club here at CGT and at Catholicae Testudines. Seeing as it was my idea and I'm leading some of the discussions, I'm ashamed to say I have not yet read our August book, In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall by then-Cardinal Ratzinger. So I went to the mall today to buy it from the bookstore, B. Dalton, which is an arm of Barnes and Noble. Considering the size of the city I live in and the education level of its citizens, I am surprised that it appears the only bookstore we've been able to support in the past decade is the size of the Auntie Ann's Pretzel Shop that's next door to it. But anyway...

I went to the "religion" section and looked for B16's books. I found two about him and one by him (a work on Our Lady). So I went up to the clerk, who looked about 19 and who was chatting it up with her friend across the desk.

Clerk: Can I help you?
Me: Yeah. I'm looking for a book called In the Beginning by Cardinal Ratzinger.
Clerk: (types something into the computer). By who? (eyebrow raised).
Me: Cardinal Ratzinger, or it might be listed under Pope Benedict.
Clerk: We don't have it. Do you want me to order it for you?
Me: No, thanks.
Clerk: (in very condescending tone of voice) Maybe you should try a Christian bookstore.
Me: (laughsand under the breath says "yeah, right").

I thought about telling this girl that considering the fact that our city is at least 50% Catholic, supports 4 large Catholic parishes, 2 Catholic elementary schools, a Catholic high school, the man was just elected pope 4 months ago and there's a national discussion going on about creation/evolution/intelligent design, maybe her little store should consider carrying more books by Pope Benedict. I also thought about telling her, "Ya know, despite what the displays in your store would suggest, people read books for reasons other than that a movie version was just made or Oprah told them to." But I didn't.

Having worked as a sales clerk in high school and knowing how angry customers can get over rather small things, I try to really be understanding if a business doesn't have what I want. But the way this girl said "Maybe you should try a Christian bookstore" (like a Protestant bookstore would carry books by the pope anyway) was very rude.

All right, that's enough complaining for now.

The Phantom Menace

My mom, sister and I watched last year's film version of the Phantom of the Opera last night. They had both seen it before and loved it (as did a few other women I know). My reaction? Blah, blah and more blah. Aside from the handsomeness of the cast and the first rate set, costumes and cinematography, this movie stunk. I don't know if it's the movie's fault, or ALW's, or the novel's author (since I've never seen a stage version or read the book), but it was bad. Phantom had the most static, one-dimensional characters I've seen in a while and their lack of development in the film made it difficult for me to be engaged in it.

There was no explanation of motivation in the film. OK, so the Phantom is disfiguired and he's attacking society because society has rejected him. But Madame Giry risked her life saving him when he was a boy and has continued to show a great deal of compassion toward him. Why that didn't change his heart is not explained. And what about her? What does she get out of protecting him all these years? Does she love him? Is it simple charity?

And why is the Phantom obsessed with Christine? Is it a Pygmalion-type thing where he's fallen in love with his own creation? Or is it because he thinks she's so good that she can be the one to "save" him? If that's the case, if he believes she is so good, why does he bother with the "Angel of Music" thing? Why did he choose her to become his muse and not one of the other chorus girls? I guess it was because she was orphaned and therefore easy to prey on, but even that really isn't explained.

And why does she kiss him in the end and why does he accept that as a sign of love rather than pity? Obviously, she felt compassion toward him and called him a pitiable creature or some such thing, but certainly there's some other way to show that other than passionately kissing a man who's killed a number of people and terrorized dozens of others - all in front of her imprisoned fiance. Does she really have affection for him because maybe he's some sort of father figure to her? Does he take her kiss as a sign of real love, because it seems to me it was an act of pity. And if Christine says its the Phantom's soul, not his face, that is truly disfiguired, why does she have to kiss him to prove that his soul can be saved? And if she really wants to save his soul, why does she allow him to escape justice for all the terrible crimes he's committed? Several possibilities are alluded to, but NOTHING IS EXPLAINED!

And on a more practical note, why the heck does he demand 20,000 francs from the opera's owners? He's living in the sewers underneath Paris - he's never going to spend that money. Is it to show his complete control over the opera? Isn't terrorizing it enough?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Chiming In

The Washington Post has this to say in an editorial about NARAL's ad on John Roberts:

IN GENERAL, discussion of the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to
the Supreme Court has taken place on a civilized level. Democratic senators, by
and large, have appropriately reserved judgment; disputes over documents, while
pointed, have been polite. The ad released this week by NARAL Pro-Choice America
is a distressing exception. Seizing on his role in a 1993 Supreme Court decision
as a lawyer for the government, it graphically -- and wholly unfairly -- seeks
to tar Judge Roberts with being an apologist for abortion clinic bombings.

In releasing the ad, Nancy Keenan, NARAL's president, said in a
statement that she wanted "to be very clear that we are not suggesting Mr.
Roberts condones or supports clinic violence." That's funny, because the ad does
precisely that.

...the impression it [NARAL] creates with this ad is not an argument
but a smear-- a smear that will do less to discredit Judge Roberts than it will
the organization that created it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Matrix Reloaded

Julie Duin of The Washington Times has this story on the Matrix vocations poster and reports that those who are interested can contact the USCCB about getting a copy. Also, she tells us the very fine print at the bottom of the poster: "Crucifix in hand, Father Meyer posed for the poster, rated R for 'restricted to those radically in love with Jesus Christ.' Running time is "all eternity," and its title reads, 'The Catholic priesthood: The answer is out there ... and it's calling you.'"

We Salute You, Mr. Checkered Shoe Wearing Man


My sister starts her senior year of high school at Pope John Paul II High School in Slidell on Friday - yes, that's way too early. But her first day reminds me of my first day of senior year four years ago and the infamous Checkered Shoe Episode.

As any Catholic school attendee knows, there are some uniform policies that are a bit, well, dogmatic. Probably the most annoying of all the uniform regulations are those related to shoes. By my senior year of high school, the administration had given up on trying to enforce the only black or white shoe rule as parents were complaining about it. So the handbook that year read that students may wear "shoes that are black, white, gray or navy or any combination thereof."

Enter my friend Jeff Colosino.

Jeff has always had a certain, shall we say, affection for breaking the rules. He doesn't do it with any particular malice and definitely not to harm anyone, but he's a bit of a free spirit. But the thing about this story is that he did not, in fact, break the rules.

On the first day, Jeff arrived at school wearing the skate shoes pictured above. Now, they are checkered, but that would fall into the "or any combination thereof" shoe color rule in the handbook. So when the dean of students came around for a uniform check on the first day and told Jeff that his shoes were not uniform code, he simply pulled out his handbook and said, "Oh, no ma'am, but they are. The handbook says shoes can be 'black, white, gray or navy or any combination thereof.' It doesn't say anything about checkered shoes." The dean of students looked at him, at the handbook and at his shoes and knew she had been beaten at her own game.

So imagine my surprise when I took a look at my sister's copy of this year's handbook and the shoe section reads: "Tennis shoes must be either black, white, navy blue or gray. Any combination of these four colors is allowed...Shoes may not be checkered or of any unusual design unless approved by the administration." [emphasis theirs].

Welcome!

To readers coming over from Open Book. Since I'm sure some are wondering why this blog is coming out of the University of Maryland, consider some of these facts about our Catholic Student Center:
*We have 4 Sunday Masses and 2 daily Masses
*Twice weekly confessions
*Eucharistic Adoration 3 times a week
*We have 3 Bible study groups: One for graduate students, one for undergrads and one for women.
*We have a Knights of Columbus council with 50 members and a Catholic Daughters of the Americas court with 50 members.
*We have pro-life, elderly and service committee plus a Gregorian chant group.
*Semesterly retreats and last spring hosted a Eucharistic Congress attended by students from 4 universities.
*In the past 3 years, 6 of our graduates have entered the seminary and one has entered a cloistered convent. Dozens of others are considering priestly or religious vocations.
*Our chaplain, Fr. Bill Byrne, and the other wonderful priests he has come to help out are faithful and vibrant men who really live out the joy of their vocation.

Also, check out our brother blog, Catholicae Testudines.

The Ladies

St. Clare's feast day is today. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) had hers Tuesday. With my amateur knowledge of the saints, I'd say these are two pretty important women saints. If I'm correct, St. Clare was the first woman to have an order named - formally or otherwise - after her. Plus I just read about her exchanges with Pope Gregory IX. She was a stubborn and fiesty little nun, wasn't she? And isn't St. Teresa the only female saint to hold a PhD? Not too shabby. I hope her enthusiasm for women's studies and philosophy will provide some much-needed saintly guidance for those two disciplines which are too often used to attempt to corrupt the minds of unsuspecting college students.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Maybe Next Year

We didn't make TIME's 50 Coolest Websites 2005 listing. They wouldn't make ours, either - not with their evil subscription-only stories.

Karol: Coming to a TV Near You

The Hallmark Channel - yes, that one with all the sappy chick flicks - will air Karol: A Man Who Became Pope on Monday, August 15 (the Feast of the Assumption) at 8 pm EST. This is the same JPII biopic that Pope Benedict screened at the Vatican a few months ago (it has an Italian director and Polish star), so I'm sure it will be better than whatever CBS is producing. Apparently, John Paul saw it before his death. A summary from Hallmark:


This is the extraordinary true story of a resilient young boy who, against
unimaginable evil, drew inspiration from the beauty of life and in turn became
an inspiration to the world…

Karol Wojtyla is a boy of eighteen from the town of Wadowice, Poland.
On the threshold of life as a budding actor, poet, and writer, the enthusiastic
and optimistic young student suddenly sees his world shattered with the Nazi
invasion of Poland in September 1939. As a firsthand witness to the horrors of
the invasion, Karol joins a cultural resistance movement, where his life takes a
dramatic and remarkable turn, leading to his exodus from Kracow and the creation
of an underground theater to resist the invader. This is also where he receives
his calling from God to become a priest, much to the disillusionment of the
woman he might have loved.


I (shamefully) admit that I haven't read Witness to Hope yet, so does anyone know, did he have a possible SO in the late 30s/early 40s? I'd never heard that before. Or is this just a dramatic twist to the story (not that it'd need any more).

Monday, August 08, 2005

Fear the Turtle

Call Maryland State Sen. John Giannetti and tell him to bring the beer, because Terps football is back, baby! Fall practice started today and hopefully we'll have a better season than last year's 5-6 (though we did beat Florida St.) I'm not a football fanatic, but I enjoy the games, and Coach Ralph Friedgen and his wife, Gloria, are very generous supporters of the Catholic Terps - Mrs. Friedgen cooks us dinner some weeks.

True football story: Sammy Maldonado, our star running back, was in my public speaking class sophomore year. It was a painful class, mostly because it consisted of learning that a conversation only existed when there was a speaker, message and listener, taught to us by a very lovely Chinese graduate student who, God bless her, could barely speak English. Sammy was in my group a few times but I didn't know it was him until the third to last week of the semester. I always though he was just some very large guy who sat in the back of the room and was often not in class on Fridays. They wear helmets on the field, how was I supposed to know it was him?

Also, one request for my fellow student section football game attendees: Please, please, please can we sit down for at least some of the game? I know it's exciting and all, but this isn't a nice, short basketball game - football games last for almost 4 hours! Seriously, there's no reason to stand that whole time. If everyone sits down, we'll all be able to see. Thank you and goodnight.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I'm reading Victor Hugo's classic right now, and though I'm a little less than halfway through it, my first question is: What idiot at Disney thought this would make a great animated children's movie? Because it wasn't, and anyone who couldn't see that coming from about 18 miles away is dumb.

I was 12 when the film was released back in 1996 and saw it with my mom. I remember thinking then that it should have been rated PG, but it was undeservedly given a G rating. I thought two scenes in specific were horrible for young children to watch. The first is a scene in which Claude Frollo is "praying" to Our Lady and all these demons and flames and smoke swirls up. That's scary. The second is when Quasimodo is elected the Pope of Fools and the Parisians shout insults at him and throw tomatoes and other food at him. That made me want to cry. But you know what? That scene isn't even in the book. He does get laughed at because of his hideousness, but he's deaf in the book and doesn't know what they're saying. And the crowd definitely DOES NOT throw stuff at him. If anything, he enjoys his election because for once in his life people are rallying around him.

Another problem with the Disney version is that they give him hearing. In the book he's become deaf from all the years of ringing Notre Dame's bells (whose sound is the only one that he can now hear). His deafness is very important in the book, as it serves to complete his isolation from the rest of society. Though he can talk, his speech even before his deafness was severely deficient and now he rarely uses it. His adopted father, Claude Frollo, and he have developed their own form of sign language which no one else understands and which cements Dom Claude's power over Quasimodo - that's important to the plot.

Of course, Disney couldn't possibly have a deaf main character in one of their animated movies, so they gave Quasimodo hearing. But if you have to change major plot devices in order to make a story more suited for children, shouldn't that be an indication that the whole project probably isn't a good idea?

Disney has been saved in the past decade thanks to the bright folks over at Pixar, who know how to make state-of-the art, thoughtful, funny and brilliantly written children's films. Too bad for Disney that they'll be losing their business soon.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A Weasley Through and Through

You scored as Ginny Weasley. You definitely share your mother's (Molly Weasley) fiery resolve and slowly but surely people are learning to respect you because of it.

Ron Weasley

75%

Ginny Weasley

75%

Hermione Granger

70%

Albus Dumbledore

65%

Severus Snape

65%

Harry Potter

60%

Remus Lupin

60%

Draco Malfoy

55%

Sirius Black

50%

Lord Voldemort

40%

Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com

Thursday, August 04, 2005

On This Feast of St. John Vianney

Some priests I'm thankful for...

From my home parish of St. Margaret Mary: Msgr. Lanaux Rareshire, Fr. Thomas Kilasara, Fr. Luis Henao, Msgr. Richard Carroll (who's in the hospital, pray for him!), Fr. Joe Benson, Fr. Anton Ba Phan, Fr. Beau Charbonnet, Fr. Ray Hymel, Fr. Mossy Gallagher (who died two years ago on this feast), Archbishop Philip Hannan, Archbishop Francis Schulte, Archbishop Alfred Hughes.

From the UMD Catholic Student Center: Fr. Bill Byrne, Fr. Gareth Jones, Fr. Tom Woods, Msgr. Malloy, Fr. Dominic Joseph, Fr. Joseph, Fr. John, and Fr. I-can't-remember-his-name-but-he's really-cute-and-says-the-5:30-Monday-Mass.

From other places: Our state Catholic Daughters chaplain (can't remember his name - maybe Msgr. Zorbak?), Fr. Joe Talamo, Fr. Rhenne Cervantes, Fr. Adrian Hall, Fr. Rodney Bourg, Fr. Jimmy Jeanfreau, Fr. Terrence Henry, Fr. John Capuci, Fr. Joseph Calamari, Fr. Bill Pickard, Pope John Paul II (RIP), Pope Benedict XVI.

This list is not exhaustive. I've been blessed to have met so many great priests (and seminarians)!

Update on Matrix Vocations Poster

Thanks to all my fellow bloggers who've posted links to Catholic Girl Talk and the Matrix-inspired vocations poster post! Just a few shout outs: Happy Catholic, Martha Martha, Curt Jester, Holy Whapping, Paul Lew, Wheat and Weeds.

Also: I've gotten lots of questions on how to order the posters. Alas, I don't have an immediate answer. But I did e-mail the Archdiocese of Indianapolis' vocations office tonight to ask, so hopefully they'll get back to me and I'll pass the info on to you.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Speaking of Marian Apparitions...

Does anyone know more about this retreat/visionary week going on right now in Alabama? Our Lady of Medjugorje is supposedly appearing to one of the visionaries there this week and people from all over the country are making a pilgrimage there to celebrate, among other things, the Blessed Mother's 2,021st birthday, which they've said Our Lady has said is actually on August 5, not the Church-recognized September 8 (which is 9 months after her Immaculate Conception on December 8).

Our Lady of Medjugorje has a rather large following in and around the New Orleans' area. Her monthly addresses are recorded in our diocesan newspaper and there are countless pilgrimages to Medjugorje with priests from New Orleans. Additionally, our pastor from when I was in elementary school had a great devotion to Our Lady of Medjugorje and even wrote a book about her. We also saw the film Gospa at my Catholic elementary school, which starred Martin Sheen as Fr. Jozo Zovko, who also came to our parish once to preach (via a translator, of course). So I had no idea until I came to college in Maryland that there are many who do not believe the apparitions are authentic, specifically because it seems some of the messages have encouraged disobedience to the local bishop, which Our Lady surely would never approve of.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Our Lady of the Wood Slat

I received the following e-mail several hours ago. I don't know if it's fake or who the sender is (since he used a pseudonym), but it got past Gmail's aggressive spam blocker. Lemme know if any other Catholic bloggers got anything similar, but until then, here goes...

Ladies,

I am not sure exactly where to begin. Three days ago, while I was
inspecting the property where I work near Denver, Colorado, I found a rather
stunning image of the Virgin Mary on a wood slat along the fence line at the
perimeter of the property. I am interested in emailing you a photo of this
image to get your opinion on the matter.

I am not an expert on this subject. Although I was raised in a Catholic
home, it is safe to say that religion has not been an important part of my life
as an adult. Perhaps this image is a message to me - I don't
know. In any event, I believe you will agree that this phenomenon is
special.

If you would like me to email a copy of this photo to you, let me
know.


My reply: This is America and if you have a photo of this Marian apparition, post that sucker on eBay and make some money off of this! And as I'm apparently an authority on Marian apparitions (I do share a name with Our Lady, after all), you can celebrate bringing in the Benjamins on eBay by sending me and the other ladies of CGT on a whirlwind tour of (approved) Marian apparition sites throughout the world: Mexico City, Fatima, Lourdes!

But if this is really a serious inquiry: I have grave doubts that it is, in fact, Our Lady's image on this piece of wood. Nonetheless, this would be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Blessed Mother. Start by praying the Rosary (learn how here) and reading up on her. Good luck and God bless!

P.S.: Sure, send along the wood slat photo (if you do, in fact, have one).

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Sisterhood

These Catholic Girls are a bit older (and a few other things) than your humble webmistresses here at CGT.

Throw Back a Bottle of Beer?

Before I took a U.S. immigration/ethnic history class last fall, I thought the Cherry Poppin' Daddies song Zoot Suit Riot was a fun song about...well I don't know what, but not about actual riots. Find out more about the riots in Los Angeles between white servicemen and Latino youths that had their origins in a murder today in 1942: See here, here and, for some brief history, here.