Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Il cercatore della bellezza

1275331_215343561974714_1723760113_oCosì lontana, Emilia. Viene da Taiwan e si è laureata in italiano nel giugno 2013 all’Università Cattolica di Fu Jen. Così vicina, Emilia: dal 2010, frequenta la Scuola di Comunità che si tiene presso l’università. Di don Giussani, che ha conosciuto attraverso i suoi libri, dice: «Noi siamo insieme per lui». Nel 2013, durante la notte di Pasqua, ha ricevuto il Battesimo.
Quando hai incontrato Comunione e Liberazione?Tre anni fa. Su Facebook avevo visto le foto di alcuni compagni del corso di italiano che erano venuti con voi in Italia, al Meeting. Ho cercato informazioni su Internet e ho trovato il calendario delle attività di Cl. Tra gli appuntamenti, c’era l’incontro settimanale di scuola di comunità. Mi sono presentata. Ero nervosa, non conoscevo nessuno ma tutti mi hanno trattato con simpatia. Da allora, non ho mancato un incontro.
Che cosa ti ha attratto?L’amicizia. Ho sempre avuto molti amici ma erano rapporti superficiali: si parlava dell’ultimo film uscito, di una borsa nuova, del tale che si era messo con la tale. Una serata allegra, quattro risate, tutto finiva lì. Durante quegli incontri, ho scoperto che potevo essere me stessa, parlare delle esperienze più vere e imparare dagli altri.
Quando hai pensato al battesimo?Nessuno me lo aveva proposto direttamente ma spesso parlavamo di Dio, di Gesù. Ancora non Lo conoscevo ma, in qualche modo, sapevo che Lui mi stava aspettando. Ricordo bene il giorno in cui mi hai chiesto se volevo venire al corso di catechismo. Ho detto sì. E il sabato pomeriggio, dopo la caritativa nella parrocchia di Tai Shan, dove insegnavo inglese ai bambini, ho iniziato a fare catechismo, con Lele e con te. Tre attività che presto sono diventate un’unica cosa: la caritativa, il luogo in cui imparavo a dare qualcosa di mio, il catechismo, dove ero io a ricevere, la Scuola di Comunità, dove condividevo la vita con gli altri.
Quando hai sentito nominare don Giussani?A Fu Jen, con quel gruppetto di studenti, leggevamo un suo libro, Il senso religioso. Era una lettura interessante: don Giussani utilizza esempi tratti dalla sua esperienza e ti fa capire cose a cui da solo non potresti arrivare. Poi è stata la volta di Tracce d’esperienza cristianaIl senso della caritativa. Ci sono stati i volantoni di Natale e di Pasqua. Recentemente, mi hanno chiesto di tradurre parti di un video su don Giussani e due testi sulla Fraternità di Cl. Sono rimasta colpita da una frase che ha detto a Roma il 30 maggio del 1998: «Il protagonista della storia è il mendicante, ovvero il cuore dell’uomo mendicante di Cristo e Cristo mendicante del cuore dell’uomo». Pensavo a Gesù come a un re, un Dio onnipotente, non come a un mendicante. Poi ho capito. Gesù è colui che da sempre mi aspetta. Mentre io Lo cercavo, Lui mi stava aspettando.
Cosa ti sorprende oggi nell’esperienza di Cl?Mi ha sempre colpito la bellezza, quella dei canti o delle immagini, la bellezza della nostra amicizia. Da quando vivo questa esperienza, il mondo per me è come una grande casa dove ogni persona che incontro è un fratello, una sorella.
Quando a Taiwan arriva qualcuno di Cl, è come se arrivasse un vecchio amico. Nel 2011 ero in Italia, a Roma. Tu mi avevi detto di andare a trovare le suore alla Magliana. Sono arrivata davanti a casa loro, ho suonato ma non c’era nessuno. Stavo per andare via quando ho visto due ragazze: pensavo fossero studentesse, invece erano novizie. Ho detto loro che ero amica di don Paolo e don Lele, abbiamo chiacchierato a lungo. Poi abbiamo cantato, perché in Cl si canta sempre. Infine, ho insegnato loro una canzone in cinese: quando hanno scritto la traslitterazione, l’emozione mi ha fatto piangere di gioia.
Come pensi oggi a don Giussani?Era un cercatore della Bellezza, noi siamo insieme per lui. Per lui voi siete diventati preti e siete venuti a Taiwan. Quando trovavo parole difficili da tradurre, Lele mi diceva: prega don Giussani che ti aiuti dal paradiso. Io penso a lui come a una persona viva. Se lo incontrassi oggi, gli bacerei le mani per ringraziarlo. Se non ci fosse stato lui, non ci sarebbe Cl. Senza Cl, non mi sarei battezzata. E senza il battesimo, non sarei felice come sono ora.
 NON MALE!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On Socialism



“In the same way, if he had decided that God and immorality did not exist, he would at once have become an atheist and a socialist.  For socialism is not merely the labor question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the question of the form taken by atheism today.  The question of the Tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to Heaven from earth but to set-up Heaven on earth.”


Dostoevsky
The Brothers Karamazov
 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's a Girl! The Three Deadliest Words in the World

A must-see documentary that will be released in 2012.



This is a synopsis from the official website:
"In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide”.

Girls who survive infancy are often subject to neglect, and many grow up to face extreme violence and even death at the hands of their own husbands or other family members.

The war against girls is rooted in centuries-old tradition and sustained by deeply ingrained cultural dynamics which, in combination with government policies, accelerate the elimination of girls.

Shot on location in India and China, It’s a Girl! explores the issue. It asks why this is happening, and why so little is being done to save girls and women.

The film tells the stories of abandoned and trafficked girls, of women who suffer extreme dowry-related violence, of brave mothers fighting to save their daughters’ lives, and of other mothers who would kill for a son. Global experts and grassroots activists put the stories in context and advocate different paths towards change, while collectively lamenting the lack of any truly effective action against this injustice."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Faith Is Culture

First, we must state that faith itself is culture. There is no such thing as naked faith or mere religion. Simply stated, insofar as faith tells man who he is and how he should begin being human, faith creates culture; faith is itself culture. Faith's word is not an abstraction; it is one which has matured through a long history and through intercultural mingling in which it formed an entire structure of life, the interaction of man with himself, his neighbor, the world and God.


Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -1993 Talk in Hong Kong Titled "CHRIST, FAITH AND THE CHALLENGE OF CULTURES"

Monday, July 4, 2011

François Mauriac: Paris Review Interview

"No, the crisis of the novel, in my opinion, is of a metaphysical nature, and is connected with a certain conception of man. The argument against the psychological novel derives essentially from the conception of man held by the present generation, a conception that is totally negative…. Today, along with nonrepresentational art, we have the nonrepresentational novel—the characters simply have no distinguishing features…. I believe that the crisis of the novel, if it exists, is right there, essentially, in the domain of technique. The novel has lost its purpose. That is the most serious difficulty, and it is from there that we must begin. The younger generation believes, after Joyce and Proust, that it has discovered the “purpose” of the old novel to have been prefabricated and unrelated to reality."


“The crisis of the novel, then, is metaphysical. The generation that preceded ours was no longer Christian, but it believed in the individual, which comes to the same thing as believing in the soul. What each of us understands by the word soul is different; but in any case it is the fixed point around which the individual is constructed. Faith in God was lost for many, but not the values this faith postulates. The good was not bad, and the bad was not good. The collapse of the novel is due to the destruction of this fundamental concept: the awareness of good and evil. The language itself has been devalued and emptied of its meaning by this attack on conscience. Observe that for the novelist who has remained Christian, like myself, man is someone creating himself or destroying himself. He is not an immobile being, fixed, cast in a mold once and for all. This is what makes the traditional psychological novel so different from what I did or thought I was doing. The human being as I conceive him in the novel is a being caught up in the drama of salvation, even if he doesn't know it.”


Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 2, François Mauriac

See Also: Evelyn Waugh & Graham Greene

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Writer's Great Danger...

The writer’s great danger, from which his profession always separates him only by a hair's breath, is the vice of vices, the essence of original sin, which is also the cause for the downfall of Cenabre, Ganse, and Ouine—the Sin of Eve in paradise and of all her guilty children: curiosity, or, expressed in a more theological way, knowledge without love, the kind of knowledge that is not paid and vouched for with one’s existence and suffering, the forced anticipation of the vision God wants to bestow through grace but into which impatient man bites as he bit into the forbidden apple.

-Bernanos

Friday, July 1, 2011

Three Signs of Cultural Decay: The Anthropological Crisis


A friend relayed a story of a meeting at the school where he teaches that covered changes in the library. Surprisingly, the focus was on introducing and adding new technology that would serve to entertain the students. It was as though books were forgotten as a relic of the past. I have heard similar rumors at the university where I teach that the library would stop collecting physical books and focus on adding electronic copies that students can check-out electronically and read on their computers. It may be a less expensive option for administrators, but it will make it harder for an education to be an introduction to reality and work as a tool for our freedom. This is a sign of a crisis where we fail to understand our needs and desires.

A Country Without Libraries by Charles Simic | NYRBlog | The New York Review of Books

The proposal to make search engines neutral may sound good at first glance, but it gives the government the ability to determine the results you see when you conduct a search on Google or Bing. Although the searches online are biased and work to increase the revenue for Google or Microsoft, allowing the government to make these decisions is a dangerous precedent that would further increase the cultural power that prevents us from understanding our humanity.

SHEFFIELD: Google gets hammered by monsters it created - Washington Times

David Foster Wallace has some interesting thoughts on what is wrong in our cultural environment, but he does not understand the answer. His thoughts are similar to Walker Percy in his understanding of where we are moving as a country.
‘A Frightening Time in America’: An Interview with David Foster Wallace by Ostap Karmodi | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dostoevsky

"In the same way, if he had decided that God and immorality did not exist, he would at once have become an atheist and socialist. For socialism is not merely the labor question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the question of the form taken by atheism to-day. The question of the tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to Heaven from earth but to set up Heaven on earth."

"The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular."

The Brothers Karamazov

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education

Although I do not agree with all the recommendations of this article, this is a good summary of the problems we are experiencing at American universities. Perhaps this is one result originating in the movements of the 1960s that sought to destroy classical education and replace it with a utilitarian system. The idea was that the university should be a vocational school and nothing more. It is unrelated to human happiness and the desire to know and understand. The difficulty is that we are unable to see the problem. As a culture, we tend to evaluate everything through short-term lenses and are unable to see how these decisions lead to later problems. Perhaps this is one of the results of the dictatorship of relativism. In any case, it is a crisis that hurts our young.

Once the university sought to sell itself by emphasizing its non-academic features there was a problem. Do we want to let today's young determine what is an essential feature of higher education. Perhaps this is why universities compete over the size of their student unions or over the stores where students can shop on campus. Why do American colleges need massive athletic centers with pools and student centers when we do not have enough faculty to teach basic classes? Did anyone ask whether we should be modeling our universities after shopping malls?

At the university where I work, we have recently heard the administration refer to our students as clients, as though we were simply a business. Maybe that is what they wish us to be. I do not know. All I know is that the American university has ceased to propose something and our students are left to the popular culture and video games to introduce them to reality. Where have we come and where are we going?

Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education | The Nation

____
See Also:
Tuition Skyrockets -- While Learning Plummets

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Communion and Liberation Easter Poster


""If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor 15:14-15). The Christian faith stands or falls with the truth of the testimony that Christ is risen from the dead. If this were taken away, it would still be possible to piece together from the Christian tradition a series of interesting ideas about God and men, about man's being and his obligations, a kind of religious world view: but the Christian faith itself would be dead. Jesus would no longer be a criterion: the only criterion left would be our own judgment in selecting from His heritage what strikes us as helpful. In other words, we would be alone. Our own judgment would be in the highest instance. Only if Jesus is risen has anything really new occurred that changes the world and the situation of mankind. Then He becomes the criterion on which we can rely. For then God has truly revealed himself."
Benedict XVI

"The 'event' does not indicate merely something that happened and with which it all started, but what awakens the present, defines the present, gives content to the present. What we know or what we have becomes experience if what we know or have is something that is given to us now-there is a hand that offers it to us now, there is a face that comes forward now, there is blood that flows now, there is a resurrection that happenes now. Nothing exists outside this 'now'! Our 'I' cannot be moved, aroused, that is, changed, if not by something contemporaneous - an event. Christ is something that is happening to me. Now, in order that we know - Christ, the whole question of Christ - be an experience, there has to be a present that provokes us and arouses us. It is a presence as it was a presence for Andrew and John. Christianity, Christ, is exactly what He was for Andrew and John when they followed him. Imagine when He turned around, how they were struck! And when they went home with Him...It has been just like this up to now, up to this moment."
Luigi Giussani

Way of the Cross in the Heart of the City

As for many years, this Good Friday hundreds of people around the world will walk through the hearts of their cities commemorating our Lord's passion and death in Ways of the Cross organized by the lay Catholic Movement Communion and Liberation.
Millions of people carry their daily cross, but most of the time they are dreadfully alone: if God exists, He has nothing to do with their daily life. This is the real cross of every day, the cross of a person abandoned to himself, to his innermost need for genuine love, truth, beauty and justice. We need the presence of “God with us”, Jesus every day. And Jesus, because of the sacrifice of His cross and His resurrection, dwells among us, every day.

The Way of the Cross wants to help us follow Jesus and fix our gaze on the event of His passion in preparation for the joyous celebration of His resurrection.

In the United States, Ways of the Cross will be held in the following cities: Boston, Broomfield, CO, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Montgomery, AL, New Bedford, MA, New York City, Oklahoma City, Rochester, MN, Sacramento, Salem, OR, San Joseph, MO, San Diego, St. Louis, Washington,D.C.

For more information on locations and times visit the website www.clonline.us

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Southern Writer: Walker Percy

Walker Percy is a Catholic novelist and philosopher who devoted his life to examining how assumptions concerning application of the scientific method have led to an increased alienation. He also saw how this reduction of reason provides the foundations for the modern culture of death. In the Thanatos Syndrome, he wrote "Do you know where tenderness leads? ...it leads to the gas chamber.... More people have been killed in this century by tenderhearted souls than by cruel barbarians in all other centuries put together." This statement is very similar to Flannery O'Connor's "When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced labor camps and the fumes of the gas chamber." These two Southern writers published almost identical observations independently of each other. Percy is very different from O'Connor and he did not publish his first novel until he was in his forties. He was a medical doctor educated at Columbia and came from a family with a rich Southern heritage. His work is valuable as Percy saw the dangers that were created by the modern cultural transformation: the reduction of what it means to be a person. We were less able to recognize the uniqueness and unrepeatability of each person and the consequence was alienation. Percy's strength was that he spent years considering the cultural change that led to our current reality. As a novelist, his work is worthy of attention.

Here is a very brief collection of four interviews with Percy available online, a lecture he gave, and a lecture about one of his works.


(Self-interview) From "Questions They Never Asked Me" by Walker Percy
Q: Do you regard yourself as a Catholic novelist?
A: Since I am a Catholic and a novelist, it would seem to follow that I am a Catholic novelist.
Q: What kind of Catholic are you?
A: Bad.
Q: No, I mean are you liberal or conservative?
A: I no longer know what those words mean.
Q: Are you a dogmatic Catholic or an open-minded Catholic?
A: I don't know what that means, either. Do you mean, do I believe the dogma that the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
Q: Yes.
A: Yes.
Q. How is such a belief possible in this day and age?
A: What else is there?
Q: What do you mean, what else is there? There is humanism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, behaviorism, materialism, Buddhism, Muhammadism, Sufism, astrology, occultism, theosophy.
A: That's what I mean.
Q: To say nothing of Judaism and Protestantism.
A: Well, I would include them along with the Catholic Church in the whole peculiar Jewish-Christian thing.
Q: I don't understand. Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: It's not good enough.
Q: Why not?
A: This life is much too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer "Scientific Humanism." That won't do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e. God. In fact, I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less. I don't see why anyone should settle for less than Jacob, who actually grabbed aholt of God and wouldn't let go until God identified himself and blessed him.
Q: Grabbed aholt?
A: Louisiana expression.


(Thanks, Fr Carucci for showing me this interview)

C-SPAN has Percy's lecture "The San Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind" which was given May 3, 1989 is available online in its entirety.


Four Interviews with Percy:
1 Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 97, Walker Percy "Probably the fear of seeing America, with all its great strength and beauty and freedom—“Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A.,” and so on—gradually subside into decay through default and be defeated, not by the communist movement, demonstrably a bankrupt system, but from within by weariness, boredom, cynicism, greed, and in the end helplessness before its great problems."
2 The Modern Prognosis: An Interview with Walker Percy "The trouble is the sciences for the last two hundred years have been spectacularly successful in dealing with subhuman reality, subhuman creatures, chemistry and physics of matter, and with extraordinary progress in learning about the cosmos; but also an extraordinary lack of success in dealing with man as man, man qua man. I think it's very curious--here the scientists know a tremendous amount about everything except what he or she is. Despite the extraordinary successes of science, we do not presently have even the rudiments of a coherent science of man."
3Doubletake Interview "Also: writers are the "Protestants" of art, with nothing but their Scripto pencils and Blue-Horse tablets; painters are the "Catholics," with concrete intermediaries, clay, paint, models, fruit, landscape, etc. This is why writers drink more and painters live longer."
4 Orthodoxy Today Interview "The nihilism of some scientists in the name of ideology or sentimentality and the consequent devaluation of individual human life lead straight to the gas chamber."





Peter Kreeft presents a 7-part (70 minute) lecture on Walker Percy's Lost in the Cosmos.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The King's Speech

The Italian weekly newsletter ClanDestino Zoom, published a very good commentary on the recent Academy Award Winner Picture The King's Speech.

Below is a translation in English:

THE KING'S SPEECH by TOM HOOPER
W Colin Firth who, in a wonderful movie, make us love the father of Queen Elizabeth and with him an important piece of European History.

The duke of York, second son of George V, King of the United Kingdom, unsucessfully consults many specialists for the stammer that has been affecting him since childhood, until he meets Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist. The relationship between the two is not easy and immediate. "Stammer is not a physical problem, " sustains Lionel, pressing the duke to know its causes. Despite this and with great fear, after the death of his father and the abdication of his older brother, he becomes King George VI. He cannot refrain from talking to the people and radio has become the most effice means of communication. "Forget everything else, just say it to me, a friend." These are the words Lionel tells the King before the beginning of the speech in which he announces to the English people that England has declared war to nazi Germany.

What makes it possible to face everything, the impossible, the scary, the bitter delusions, the rightful fears, the anguish, the weaknesses, limits, and anxieties? King George encountered and chose, first with rebelliousness but then with tenaciousness, a friend, someone who showed him that behind the huge microphone of the 1930s there wasn't an enemy from which to run away.

You can find the Italian text by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Aesop: The Wolf and the Shepherd


Aesop and a Parable for Today

A WOLF followed a flock of sheep for a long time and did not attempt to injure one of them. The Shepherd at first stood on his guard against him, as against an enemy, and kept a strict watch over his movements. But when the Wolf, day after day, kept in the company of the sheep and did not make the slightest effort to seize them, the Shepherd began to look upon him as a guardian of his flock rather than as a plotter of evil against it; and when occasion called him one day into the city, he left the sheep entirely in his charge. The Wolf, now that he had the opportunity, fell upon the sheep, and destroyed the greater part of the flock. When the Shepherd returned to find his flock destroyed, he exclaimed: "I have been rightly served; why did I trust my sheep to a Wolf?"

(Aesop's Fables are public domain and available free online)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review: Lapsed Agnostic

It is rare to find a book that presents a personal account describing the misunderstanding and suffering caused by the Irish Church's failure to understand today's cultural reality. John Waters, a columnist with The Irish Times, describes a journey that originated in a Catholic childhood, following the promise of freedom in the pop culture that led to his rejection of the faith, and his long and difficult return to the Church. Waters offers Lapsed Agnostic as a long voyage that addresses the cultural reality in Ireland where the Church leadership failed to respond to the challenges modernity presented and reduced the Christian message to morality and political dominance. The Irish Church never developed a coherent response to the Enlightenment and after independence was satisfied merely preserving external political realities. The local church dominated society in a way similar to the British colonial experience where it sought legal positions and moralistic behavior and was unable to show how Christ mattered to daily life. The dualistic tendencies that weakened the entire West were particularly destructive in Ireland and the life proposed by the Church was unattractive compared to the freedom promised by rock musicians and the wider pop culture. Waters followed the road where he thought he would find happiness and left the faith to embrace a life of 'freedom,' but this promise failed and ultimately led him to alcohol as a means to survive. He lived through the destruction of traditional culture and had nothing but superficial ideas to replace what was lost. His human needs were present but unfulfilled and he drowned his heart in drunkenness. Eventually he found his way to AA and rediscovered his faith through a long and difficult process that required him re-think his relationship with Christ and re-enter the Church. This process was particularly painful as it required him to discover where the Irish Church had reduced the faith and had failed to propose Christ. The cultural problems are still present in Ireland and Waters tells how he has difficulty talking to people who ask him questions about what he believes because they normally come from ideological positions that are unable to comprehend his responses.
This is a beautiful work where the author places before us the reality of his childhood and the consequences of a faith that is unable to generate a culture. “The Irish Church has not yet woken up to the scale of the anthropological and existential crisis that besets Irish society precisely because of the particular nature of its historical faith experience and its recent rejection of this.” The outcome was the people leaving the Church and embracing a shallow culture that left them unable to deal with the problems of life. Yet, the answer for Ireland remains Christ and Waters own experience shows why this return is the only response that corresponds with the human heart. Ireland has suffered a loss of its tradition and is hungry for something that can address our reality now. This can only come from an encounter with a Presence that is able to generate a culture.



____________
John Water's recent column in The Irish Times: Freedom at Last to Think for Yourself

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Only a beautiful theology...

There is in the time of the Church no historically influential theology which is not itself a reflection of the glory of God; only beautiful theology, that is, only theology which, grasped by the glory of God, is able itself to transmit its rays, has the chance of making any impact in human history by conviction and transformation.

Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Handmade with Love: support local craftspeople!

As my husband and I are trying to avoid buying things made in China whenever possible (and it's becoming harder and harder but we are doing our best!!) we are discovering a universe of people, mostly stay-home moms, who love to use their artistic talents to make personalized and one-of-a-kind gifts. These gifts might be more expensive than what you find in the stores, but they are so much better and much more beautiful than any mass produced item that is sold all over America (and the world). It's absolutely worth it! We are happy to spend some extra money, get a wonderful gift, and support an individual family. In this way, we allow mothers to make some money while staying home with their children, something that in our society today seems very hard to do because one income is often not enough.

My husband and I were looking for a special gift for our goddaughter's first birthday and I thought about a friend of mine from college, a stay-home mother of two who paints, sews, and does many other wonderful crafts. We ended up commissioning her an icon of our goddaughter's patron saint. It was the best gift ever! You can see this and other works on her blog "Santi Amici" (Saints friends).

Another crafts-mother I recently got to know and appreciate makes the cutest girls' dresses from adult t-shirts bought at thrift stores. You can see some of her creations at Kristi Bee.

I suggest that you look around, ask your friends, and do some internet searches and see what people around you (or faraway as my friend in Italy) are doing, you will be surprised! Please support local craftspeople and their families!

St Theresa of Avila

"For it is strange what a difference there is between understanding a thing and subsequently knowing it by experience."
-St Theresa of Avila (Autobiography CH XIII)

Pope Benedict devoted this Wednesday's audience to St Theresa of Avila. It is the first of several audiences focusing on doctors of the Church. (Italian)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recommendation: Waiting for Superman



This documentary addresses an uncomfortable subject: the difficulty (or, at times, the impossibility) of poor Americans to give their children a good education. This movie looks at several families where the parents or guardians, who love and desire the best for their children, wish to obtain a quality education. It shows that public education is not reliable for many Americans because individual student needs are easily dismissed in the bureaucratic structures that manage our schools.

It also captures the strength of the national teachers union which has changed public education from something that benefits children to something that provides guaranteed income to tenured teachers no matter how poorly they do their jobs. While the Church defends unions and teachers should have job and income security, these benefits cannot endanger the educative process or eliminate the possibility of the poor to get a good education. I am strongly in favor of unions (especially in our era where preventing labor from organizing has made it impossible for most workers to earn a living wage {where they can support a family with one income}), but unions exist to serve the common good. While the teachers union has not succeeded in gaining greater wages, it has succeeded in keeping poor educators in the classroom and working to end efforts to improve education opportunities for the poor. This documentary shows the tragic consequences for families who desire to give their children an education and the overwhelming and sometimes impossible challenges they must confront on this path.

The cultural problems in education are deeper than those presented in this film. Nonetheless, this film offers a valuable contribution in exposing the reality of American public education today.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Polish Composer: Henryk Gorecki

The Polish contribution to Western culture and civilization is underestimated and little known. Few know the story of the the Lublin University school of philosophy where an ontological critique of Marxism originated that provided a tool to discredit communism at the cultural level. The human encounter with repressive socialist ideology led to many artistic works that point to something deeper that could not be explained with the dominant materialist ideology. Poland’s thought is valuable today because our culture is adopting a new form of materialism that has a more subtle and comprehensive grasp on our culture.

This is the first of several posts that will examine the cultural contribution of Poland that can help us address the reality we face in the West today.

Henryk Gorecki was a Polish composer that provided a response to the oppressive ideology by provided musical works that pointed toward another reality. His second symphony was commissioned by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla and he dedicated two works to Pope John Paul II: Beautis Vir (Opus 38 ) and Totus Tuus (Op 60). He also quit his university teaching post in 1979 to protest the government’s refusal to allow Pope John Paul II to visit. His most famous work is his third symphony, the Symphony of the Sorrowful Songs (Op 36).