Sunday, December 24, 2006

Feliz Navidad

Christmas Eve, and The New York Times' Sunday Magazine reports on the transformation of Catholicism in Los Angeles as worshipers become predominantly Spanish-speaking:

The article notes tensions between Catholics and Spanish-speaking Pentecostal evangelists, Mexican and Central American Catholics over Mexican devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe, and affluent (largely Anglo) and poor (largely Hispanic) Catholics and between the church hierarchy and priests over liberation theology. I love the quote from a Jesuit priest in East L.A.:
“You don’t evangelize the poor; the poor evangelize you. I learned that as a young priest in Bolivia long ago, and it’s my ongoing experience. The simple truth is that here you’re called to something deeper, more radical, more credible...You’re always standing with the demonized, so that the demonization stops. You’re always with the people on the outer fringes of the circle of compassion, so the circle of compassion can expand. You’re always at the margins, so the margins once and for all disappear. And you’re always with the disposable, so the people stop being disposed of.”

Tomorrow we celebrate the birthday of Jesus, who stood with the marginalized, preached liberation in the coming of God's reign of justice, aroused the anger of the religious and political establishment, was arrested as an enemy of the state, was put to death - and rose again so that sin and evil can never win. A su nombre gloria. Amen.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


The Ursula Franklin Reader: Pacifism as a Map is reviewed in The Globe & Mail today:
(buy it at
She writes - and I will be thinking about this, knowing something about the politics of states occupied by the Axis powers:
"In my picture of what is going on, we are being occupied by the marketeers just as the French and Norwegians were occupied by the Germans. We have, as they did, puppet governments who run the country for the benefit of the occupiers. We have, as they did, collaborators. . . . We are, as they were, threatened by deliberate willfulness, by people who have only contempt for those they occupy and who see their mission to turn over our territory to their masters."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas is A-Coming...

...and the goose is getting fat, or whatever. I'm busy working on the Christmas Eve sermon. Here is part of the draft, emphasizing how God broke into history in the birth of Jesus Christ in little Bethlehem, and God brings new life to birth in the most unexpected people and places. I got inspiration for this one from Herbert O'Driscoll's little book, A Certain Life.

"God’s work of salvation is surprising. The new life God brings is disturbing because it is unexpected. It refuses to conform. It upsets expectations about what is important, what is believable, what humans understand about power and justice. New birth never occurs in the predictable Jerusalems and Romes where we expect it; it sneaks into our world in the Bethlehems, in human situations where we presume nothing good and new can come. New life comes into everyday lives. God is hidden in the ordinary, God chooses to work powerfully through those who are powerless. And God shatters our confidence in human ways as the divine comes in a little baby who would grow up to die for love and rise again for love. God reverses human standards, and looks with favour on the humble, scatters the proud, pulls the mighty from their places of power, raises up the lowly, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty.

"The message of Advent and Christmas is not dependent on whether or not a star appeared or a census was called in human history. The message is that God acts, and God’s salvation and liberation come, in wonderful, surprising, unexpected ways. And this is the message we called to believe, we are called to proclaim, and we are given gifts to proclaim."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Mighty Wind

Watched A Mighty Wind, the latest (well, 2003 - I'm late) mock documentary from Christopher Guest, who made This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, and Best in Show. The whole gang is back skewering 60s folk music as three folk acts reunite for a concert. It wasn't as funny as Guest's previous efforts (who can forget him as Spinal Tap guitarist Nigel Tufnell?), but I particularly enjoyed The New Main Street Singers' The Good Book Song. A Mighty Wind is a reference to Acts 2:2, by the way.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Left behind...

The "Christian" video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces is being criticized for being too violent (
RTGAM.20061212.gtviolence1212/BNStory/PersonalTech/home). Oh, as opposed to the sweetness-and-light Doom, Battlefield, Gears of War, etc. Maybe the problem with this game isn't that its makers claim its violence is Christian; it's (a) apparently a lousy piece of software, and (b) is based on books which completely misinterpret the Book of Revelation.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Great Marshall McLuhan quote:
"There is no harm in reminding ourselves from time to time that the 'Prince of this World' is a great PR man, a great salesman of new hardware and software, a great electric engineer, and a great master of the media."

McLuhan also said (and I can't find the reference) that no one at the Council of Trent in 1545-63 understood the psychic and social effects of Gutenberg being able to print Bibles; the Church is now no better off in understanding the technological impact of the electronic revolution which is terminating the Church's marriage with the West.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Yo no quiero Taco Bell

I have emerged from a cocoon within which I am simultaneously ill and writing several lengthy essays. I note that (a) some people are admitting that Iraq is not on the verge of civil war, as the media keeps saying ("Iraq may be on the verge of civil war after today's attacks in...") - Iraq is actually in a civil war. No kidding. How many people need to be killed every day for "on the verge of" to become "in"? And (b) There is E. coli contamination at some Taco Bell restaurants. No kidding again. The sight of the taco mixture being squeezed out of an icing bag is enough to put most people off eating there, although I don't mind that as much as the general contamination awaiting "diners" in the fast food nation as a whole.