Lots of stuff to get to. All here. Right now. Okay, deep breath. And we're off!
• I finally (finally!) watched Inception for a second time. And it only reinforced my first impressions (see here and here). Also, my wife agrees with my analysis, which almost never happens when it comes to movies, food, music, and the importance of watching sporting events...
• Nice tweet from Jeremy Thompson, an Ignatius Press reader: "Sidenote on the Pope's new book: Love the design of Ignatius Press books. Of all publishers I read, their books are the easiest on my eyes."
• Congratulations, Mary Eberstad! The Italian translation of her best-selling book, The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism, will be presented by Nova Millenium Romae in Rome on March 23rd. The first "letter" of the book can be read on Ignatius Insight.
• Music list #1: My Twenty-Five Favorite Jazz Albums of 2010:
1. "Home", by Aaron Goldberg.
2. "Highway Rider", by Brad Mehldau.
3. "The Latin Side of Herbie Hancock", by Conrad Herwig.
4. "Pathways", by Dave Holland Octet.
5. "Chamber Music Society", by Esperanza Spalding.
6. "Place to Be", by Hiromi.
7. "Ten", by Jason Moran.
8. "Jasmine", by Keith Jarrett.
9. "Our Secret World", by Kurt Rosenwinkel.
10. "Third Round", by Manu Katché.
11. "Nikki", by Nikki Yanofsky.
12. "Alive", by Phronesis.
13. "From Billie Holiday To Edith Piaf: Live In Marciac", by the Wynton Marsalis Quintet and Richard Galliano.
14. "Daylight at Midnight", by Taylor Eigsti.
15. "Roman Nights", by Tom Harrell.
16. "Unknown Angels", by Tony Grey.
17. "Solo", by Vijay Iyer.
18. "Caravan Palace" by Caravan Palace.
19. "Vibrainium", by Chris Massey.
20. "Treelines", by Christine Jensen.
21. "Hands", by Dave Holland & Pepe Habichuela.
22. "Same Girl", by Youn Sun Nah.
23. "Atmospheres", by Ray Riendeau.
24. "III", by Walter Smith III.
25. "The Gate", by Kurt Elling.
• Dave Pierre, author of Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church, has just posted a good piece, "Unfair in Philadelphia? A Closer Look at the Grand Jury Report", that is worth reading for anyone interested in truth and justice regarding the very bad situation in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
• "Images of Mohammed in Islam are more common than fundamentalists claim", writes Ibn Warraq in this piece for City Journal, arguing that there are at least three general types of Islam: "the Koran; ... the religion as it was subsequently expounded, interpreted, and developed; ... and the actual behavior of believing Muslims."
• Cardinal George Pell offers to publicly debates scientists about global warming, referring to one such scientist as "a hot-air specialist."
• A reminder that I am one of the speakers on the 2011 Catholic Answers Cruise (Alaska), which launches on July 8th. I will be giving two talks (in addition to taking part in a panel discussion), one on fictional attacks on Catholicism and another on "five false Christs."
• You've likely heard about the situation in the UK of the Christian couple and hopeful foster parents, Eunice and Owen Johns, whose traditional belief that a homosexual lifestype is not good or moral has run them afoul of something called the "Sexual Orientation Regulations and the Equality Act". Anthony Daniels (an atheist) laments the insanity of the situation, writing that "in the modern world everything must be codified, and everyone must conform in the name of diversity". Joe Trabbic writes, "Are people overreacting? Not so long ago such a ruling would have been unthinkable. Now it is not only not unthinkable, it is a fact." Christina Odone flatly remarks, "It’s official: Britain is no longer a Christian nation". And Michael Kirke states, "This was inevitable – and it is only beginning."
I know very little about the exact situation in England, but I do believe that it won't be long before this sort of general situation arises here in the U.S. In the fall of 2009, my wife and I had to take a series of three-hour classes from the Department of Human Services here in Lane Country (Oregon) so that we could be certified as foster parents in order to adopt our second son (our first two children came to us through private adoptions). A couple of hours were spent on issues relating to "sexual orientation" and moral behavior, and the directives were very clear: not only is "being gay" not to be viewed negatively, it is too be encouraged. For example, if a 14-year-old foster son were to "come out", foster parents are instructed to never say anything negative and are to "educate" themselves about the joys and wholesome goodness of being "gay", including reading gay literature, attending gay events, and so forth. Similar attitudes were strongly presented regarding pre-marital sex. I plan to write more about this topic in the near future, but I'll just say that Kirke is right: this is only the beginning.
• It's not an Ignatius Press book, but I'm really looking forward to Papal Economics The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate by Maciej Zięba, O.P., available soon from ISI (Intercollegiate Studies Institute). In fact, I look forward to nearly all books from ISI, one of my favorite publishers.
• Three wonderful poems—"Three Loves"—by my friend Ann Applegarth, published in the Pilgrim journal.
• Surpise! Hans Küng has written another book. Surprise, surprise! It is an attack on Catholic doctrine. From a news report: "The book Can the Church Still Be Saved? was set to go on sale in Germany Thursday, coinciding with the worldwide release of a book by Pope Benedict XVI titled Jesus of Nazareth - Part II." Küng says that Jesus would not approve of today's Catholic Church, saying, 'If Jesus of Nazareth returned, he would not prohibit contraceptives, he would not shut out divorced people, and so on..." I would almost say that Küng apparently believes he is the mouthpiece for Jesus, but I am increasingly convinced that he apparently believes Jesus should be the mouthpiece for Hans Küng. Sigh. A couple of years ago I posted this clerihew:
The prolific Hans Küng
Writes a book every June,
Infallible? Nary a one,
Causing him great frustration.
And a reader posted this joke: Q: Why couldn't Hans Kung ever be pope? A: Because he's infallible. Yes, it's a bit funny. But also more than a little sad. I think that Küng—like all of us, I hasten to add—should be a bit more concerned with the question, "Can I still be saved?"
• Music list #2: My Twenty-One Favorite Rock/Pop Albums of 2010:
1. "The ArchAndroid", by Janelle Monáe.
2. "Sigh No More", by Mumford & Sons.
3. "Kaleidoscope Heart", by Sara Bareilles.
4. "Plum Coulee", by Amy Seeley.
5. "Black Sands", by Bonobo.
6. "6: Commitment", by Seal.
7. "God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise" by Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs.
8. "Harlem River Blues" by Justin Townes Earle.
9. "Live At The Fillmore", by Chris Isaak.
10. "Civil Twilight", by Civil Twilight
11. "What We Want, What We Get", by Dave Barnes.
12. "The Union", by Elton John & Leon Russell.
13. "Catching A Tiger", by Lissie.
14. "Suburba", by House Of Heroes.
15. "So Runs The World Away", by Josh Ritter.
16. "ABIII" by Alter Bridge.
17. "Sinners & Saints", by Raul Malo
18. "Band of Joy", by Robert Plant.
19. "Junky Star", by Ryan Bingham.
20. "Laws of Illusion", by Sarah McLachlan.
21. "Black Dub", by Black Dub.
• David Mills ponders why it is that the "Evangelical Left" has suddenly discovered that massive national debt is immoral.
• Deadly numbers: "The number of people who died from abortion in 2008 in New York City is 149% of the number of people who died from all other causes."
• "The Theology of the Liturgical Year" is an excellent essay recently posted on the Catholic Culture site.
• Ridiculous Quote of the Week, about the coming changes to the Missal: "If these changes were coherent and made liturgical and grammatical sense, then sure. These changes are stilted, move away from understanding and oneness in the mass, and are more about the boys in Rome pushing their crap on us once again. It has nothing to do with spirituality and the oneness of the universal church and more about power, control and who can urinate longer and faster." Someone needs to spent more time reading good theology and less time reading the walls of public bathrooms....
• NRO's "Lenten Reading Symposium" makes mention of Ignatius Press books by Hans Urs von Balthasar and Christoph Cardinal Schönborn.
• Music List #3: My Five Favorite Progressive Rock Albums of 2010:
1. "Something Here is Missing", by The Pineapple Thief.
2. "On This Perfect Day" by Guilt Machine.
3. "Missa Atropos", by Gazpacho.
4. "Lunatic Soul II", by Lunatic Soul.
5. "Road Salt One", by Pain Of Salvation.
• My good friend, Dr. Anthony Clark, has a new book out: China's Saints: Catholic Martyrdom During the Qing (1644-1911) (Lehigh University Press). He will be on EWTN's "Bookmark" program this coming Sunday to talk about the book, and later this spring/summer, EWTN will be airing a 13-part series based on the book.
• The cart before the horse: "A new survey has found that most young American believe it is more important in life to be a parent than to be married." Or is it, "the cow before the milk"?
• Do you like icons? And Flannery O'Connor? Then you'll like, "The Iconographic Fiction and Christian Humanism of Flannery O’Connor", by the fine Eastern Orthodox writer, Vigen Guroian.
• Music List #4: My Six Favorite Non-Classical Instrumental Albums of 2010:
1. "Emotion & Commotion", by Jeff Beck.
2. "Songs of the Martin", by Kevin McCormick
3. "Up Close", by Eric Johnson.
4. "Disappear Here", by Hybrid.
5. "Jam Session", by Mark O'Connor.
6. "Nunun", by Nunun.
• Has anyone else been watching "Blue Bloods" on CBS? If so, have you been as impressed as I've been with its respectful and very positive portrayal of Catholicism? My favorite new show of 2011.
• Okay, one more: Music List #5: My Fifteen Favorite Albums of 2011 (So Far):
1. "100 Lovers", by Devotchka.
2. "Barton Hollow", by Civil Wars.
3. "Live In Marciac", by Brad Mehldau.
4. "King of Limbs", by Radiohead.
5. "21", by Adele.
6. "Anna Calvi", by Anna Calvi.
7. "Across the Way", by Brad Shepik Quartet.
8. "The Majestic Silver Strings", by Buddy Miller.
9. "The Unfazed", by Dolorean.
10. "The Valley", by Eisley.
11. "build a rocket boys!", by Elbow.
12. "Shadowless", by Jonathan Kreisberg.
13. "Before the Rain", by Noah Preminger.
14. "Live on I-5 EP", by Soundgarden.
15. "Mission Bell", by Amos Lee.