“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

January 30, 2010

How to Fall 35,000 Feet — And Survive

Popular Mechanics offers some astounding advice that I hope none of us ever has to take into serious consideration:

You have a late night and an early flight. Not long after takeoff, you drift to sleep. Suddenly, you’re wide awake. There’s cold air rushing everywhere, and sound. Intense, horrible sound. Where am I?, you think. Where’s the plane?

You’re 6 miles up. You’re alone. You’re falling.

Things are bad. But now’s the time to focus on the good news. (Yes, it goes beyond surviving the destruction of your aircraft.) Although gravity is against you, another force is working in your favor: time. Believe it or not, you’re better off up here than if you’d slipped from the balcony of your high-rise hotel room after one too many drinks last night.

Or at least you will be. Oxygen is scarce at these heights. By now, hypoxia is starting to set in. You’ll be unconscious soon, and you’ll cannonball at least a mile before waking up again. When that happens, remember what you are about to read. The ground, after all, is your next destination.

Granted, the odds of surviving a 6-mile plummet are extra ordinarily slim, but at this point you’ve got nothing to lose by understanding your situation. There are two ways to fall out of a plane. The first is to free-fall, or drop from the sky with absolutely no protection or means of slowing your descent. The second is to become a wreckage rider, a term coined by Massachusetts-based amateur historian Jim Hamilton, who developed the Free Fall Research Page—an onlinedatabase of nearly every imaginable human plummet.

That classification means you have the advantage of being attached to a chunk of the plane. In 1972, Serbian flight attendant Vesna Vulovic was traveling in a DC-9 over Czechoslovakia when it blew up. She fell 33,000 feet, wedged between her seat, a catering trolley, a section of aircraft and the body of another crew member, landing on—then sliding down—a snowy incline before coming to a stop, severely injured but alive. . . . (continue reading)

January 29, 2010

Here's How the TV Networks Report the News

Here's an inside look at the secrets of how the major television news networks package "news" segments. They make it look so easy, as if each segment was scripted and produced by an infinite number of chimpanzees. In fact, hmmm . . . maybe the network news is produced by an infinite number of chimpanzees.

(Warning: There is a bad word 24 seconds into this, for which I apologize, though I am not to blame because I didn't produce this bit. Blame it on the chimpanzees. And mute it at 24 secs., if need be.)

January 28, 2010

Atheists "go postal" over new Mother Teresa stamp

It's predictable that atheists would work themselves into a froth over this. It's silly and petty, of course, but it's also a useful reminder that an increasing number of the God-deniers who walk among us are not content to simply deny the truth and scoff at believers, they are becoming ever more militant and aggressive in their efforts to ramrod their intolerance and narrow-mindedness down everyone else's throats. Catholics! Stand up to these bullies.

An atheist organization is blasting the U.S. Postal Service for its plan to honor Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp, saying it violates postal regulations against honoring "individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings."

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is urging its supporters to boycott the stamp -- and also to engage in a letter-writing campaign to spread the word about what it calls the "darker side" of Mother Teresa.

The stamp -- set to be released on Aug. 26, which would have been Mother Teresa's 100th birthday -- will recognize the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her humanitarian work, the Postal Service announced last month.

"Noted for her compassion toward the poor and suffering, Mother Teresa, a diminutive Roman Catholic nun and honorary U.S. citizen, served the sick and destitute of India and the world for nearly 50 years," the Postal Service said in a press release. "Her humility and compassion, as well as her respect for the innate worth and dignity of humankind, inspired people of all ages and backgrounds to work on behalf of the world’s poorest populations."

But Freedom from Religion Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor says issuing the stamp runs against Postal Service regulations.

"Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution. You can't really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did," Gaylor told FoxNews.com.

Postal Service spokesman Roy Betts expressed surprise at the protest, given the long list of previous honorees with strong religious backgrounds, including Malcolm X, the former chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. . . . (continue reading)

Pray the Pater Noster With Pope Pius XII

January 27, 2010

"This is not about me!" (No, really)

January 26, 2010

The NASCAR of Catholic Apologetics

Patrick Archbold of Creative Minority Report fame penned a witty and insightful take on Catholic "combat radio" in today's National Catholic Register. Maybe someday I'll do an interview with him and tell him "the rest of the story."

I am a flawed man.

I love to listen to Catholic apologetics. I listen to apologetics CDs, I read apologetic books, and I love to listen to apologetics on the radio. I suspect my reason for listening to apologetics on the radio is different from most people; at least I hope it is.

I think I read once that NASCAR is the biggest spectator sport in the United States. Being a northerner, I am sure that I miss many of the appealing aspects of NASCAR, but I think I know why most people watch it. They want to see the crashes. That is why I listen to apologetics on the radio, particularly Catholic Answers. I want to be around when the crash happens. . . . (continue reading)

"You never stop thinking about the baby you killed."

This is one of the strangest, most schizophrenic abortion-related things I've seen in a long time, maybe ever.

Penelope Trunk, a successful career advice columnist/blogger, wrote a blog piece last summer called "What's the Connection Between Abortion and Careers?" The title caught my eye and drew me in to what at first I thought would be just another "yeah, so what if I had an abortion?" kind of piece. I was wrong. Or maybe I should say I was half wrong.

I did not expect Trunk to say some of things she said in that article. After reading it, I was left scratching my head in wonderment that, on one hand, this obviously intelligent woman could be so honest and forthright in her admission of what abortion is and what it does — to the mother and the child — and still be four-square in favor of legal abortion.

Later, Ms. Trunk sent out a note on Twitter announcing that she was having a miscarriage. The Twittersphere and, soon afterward, the blogosphere, freaked out about that, with many people excoriating her for publicly discussing something so private.

Personally, I don't really care about the propriety or lack of it in her Twitter message. When I watched this video, I was again nonplussed at how this woman is able (with a straight face that neither dissolves into a smirk or into sobs [either of those reactions would seem more natural, more
human, if you ask me]) to so blandly admit that she was glad she had had a miscarriage, because it saved her from having to "wait in line to get an abortion." And this, after she had just finished telling the goofy CNN talking head about how much she loved her two children and how sorrowful she was when she miscarried another pregnancy.

At one point, she intoned glassily that
"Whether or not you believe women should have the right to abortion, they do in this country." If the hapless host had been thinking clearly, he should have reminded her and the audience that, in 1860, a white man could just as blythely have said, "Whether or not you believe whites have the right to own black slaves, they do in this country."

Or, "Whether or not you believe men should have the right to prevent women from voting, they do in this country" (prior to 1920), etc., etc.

That's the point.
Because enough Americans believed that white's should not have the right to own other human beings as slaves is why we were able to abolish that terrible "legal right." Similarly, though of far, far less a magnitude on the injustice scale, Because enough Americans came to believe that it was wrong to deny women the vote is the only reason why that unjust law was eradicated. (And that didn't happen until 1920!)

Penelope Trunk's attitude toward abortion is just . . . weird. It's schizophrenic. I don't understand it. I feel so very sorry for her.

I have had two abortions.

The first one was when I was twenty-seven. I was playing professional beach volleyball. I was playing volleyball eight hours a day and I spent two hours a day at the gym. I noticed that I was getting tired more easily, but I thought it meant I needed to train harder.

Then one weekend, a doctor friend on a visit saw me drop a plate one day, and a vase the next. I told her my hands just gave out because they were so tired.

She said I was anemic. Then she said, “Maybe you’re pregnant.”

“I’m not,” I said. “I have a regular period.”

It turns out, though, that you can have a regular period and still be pregnant.

And I was. Fourteen weeks.

My friend said, “Schedule the abortion now. You’re already late for it.”

I didn’t do anything. I was in shock. My boyfriend was in shock. Neither of us had ever had a pregnancy. I couldn’t believe the whole process actually worked, to be honest.

I told my mom I was pregnant. She said, “Get an abortion.”

I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t really thinking I had any choices. I didn’t have a job that could support a child. And I wasn’t sure if I was planning to marry my boyfriend, although we were living together. I knew that I had big ideas for my life and I hadn’t figured things out yet.

My mom got militant. “You’ll destroy your career possibilities.”

She riffed on this theme for a week, calling me every night. Her passion is understandable. My mom took . . .
(continue reading)

January 25, 2010

John Calvin, call your office

Tonight on EWTN at 8:00 p.m. ET, my friend Marcus Grodi, a former Presbyterian minister who converted to the Catholic Church and now heads up the Coming Home Network, will interview two other former Presbyterian converts.

If you don't have EWTN on your cable system, don't worry. You can watch it online here. Call your Presbyterian pals and tell them they should tune in, too.

The Most Spectacular Wedding Invitation You'll Ever See

Two things:

1) I really hope they don't get divorced. I'd hate to see the trailer they'd produce for that disaster epic.

2) Looks like Jeff has pretty good bo staff skills. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills. Bow to your sensei.

January 24, 2010

Rush of terror alerts on three continents plus Middle East

The Israeli security blog Debka has this story:
In the last three days, the governments of eleven countries have scrambled to elevate their preparedness levels for Islamist terror, or enforced extraordinarily stringent security measures. Another six governments have pursued these steps without fanfare.
Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23, India placed its airlines and airports and those of all of South East Asia -Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - on alert for a possible airplane hijacking by al Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taibem. The UK elevated its terror threat level from "substantial" to "severe" - one below top and suspended direct British airline flights to and from Yemen.
Last week, five Britons were apprehended at Islamabad airport attempting to pass their boarding passes to five others. Yemen itself stopped issuing entry visas at Sanaa airport. The British appear to fear a fresh spate of terrorism inside the country.
Although the Obama administration has not formally raised the current terror alert level, vigilance at all American airports and border posts has been radically heightened since a Nigerian terrorist tried to blow up the Northwest airliner on Christmas day. Since Jan. 4, the airlines and passengers from 14 listed countries have faced body screening before boarding flight to the United States. Last week, six people on the newly-expanded no-fly list were not allowed to board US-bound flights.
Saturday, US airport authorities were warned that at least two female suicide bombers of "non-Arab appearance" and bearing Western passports may have been sent to America by al Qaeda-Yemen - either to blow up US-bound flights or commit suicide attacks inside the country.
Referring to the failed airline bombing, tormer White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke told ABC: "There are others who are still out there who have been trained and who are clean skins - that means people who we do not have a record of, who may not look like al Qaeda terrorists, who may not be Arabs, and may not be men." . . . (continue reading)

See also:

Frequently Requested Catholic Church Statistics

Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has released a fascinating new set of data on trends within the Catholic Church in the U.S. There's a lot here, including statistics on things like numbers of priests, sisters, deacons, parishes, Mass attendance, Catholic schools, etc. Here some other issues the study considers:
  • Is Catholic Mass attendance becoming less frequent?
  • How many Catholics go to Mass in any given week and how many go every week?
  • Why do Catholics say they miss weekly Mass from time to time?
  • How often do Catholics receive Eucharist at Mass?
  • What percentage of Catholics go to Confession frequently?
  • What percentage of Catholics give regularly to their parish offertory collection?
  • How many Catholics consider a clerical or religious vocation?
  • How many Catholics receive ashes on Ash Wednesday or abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent?
  • What percentage of the U.S. adult population identifies as Catholic?
  • How many people raised Catholic stop considering themselves Catholic later in life?
  • Who do Catholics vote for? Since 1952 and more specific articles for the 2008, 2004, and 2000elections
  • How many Latinos/Latinas self-identify as Catholic?
  • What are the differences and similarities in the religious beliefs and practices of Latino/a Catholics and non-Latino/s Catholics?
  • How likely are Catholics to be married to a Catholic? How likely are they to divorce?
  • What percentage of Catholics have celebrated their First Communion and have been confirmed?

January 22, 2010

Here's your feel-good picture for the day


"Pop culture is culture like McDonald’s food is food."

Father Paul Ward, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit has written an excellent reflection on how Catholics have been affected, afflicted, and infected with a "pop culture" mentality toward the Faith. Toward truth. Toward God. My humble suggestion to the parish priests who read this blog, consider reprinting this in your parish bulletin (with Father Ward's permission, of course). With a few adjustments, it might even make a good sermon!

“McChurch” is neither a real name nor a real word, but an expression I coined to convey “commercial Catholicism,” or even “consumer Catholicism.” Not only in America, but in many other places as well, the Catholic Church has largely gone the way of pop culture. That is, it became an object of the market.

Culture is a term which can have several meanings. Its more philosophical definition makes it the development of man’s superior faculties (intellect and will) in the material world. Another definition makes it the productions of such development, for example, the work of art, the composition of music, the opus of some great author; and here, we refer not to the mean productions of inferior skill, but the greatest and most superior of such works.

This second definition makes a man “cultured,” therefore, if he is familiar with the works of Bach, Aristotle, Descartes, Kierkegaard and Michelangelo, with Latin, Greek and Hebrew or some modern languages as well, and has acquired certain mental disciplines – logical thought, refinery of tastes, etc. – which come only with the exploration of these greatest and superior works which have come forth from the souls of men.

“Pop culture” is culture which you can buy or sell. Now, it would be overstating the case to assert that there is absolutely no artistic, intellectual, philosophical or theological contribution that a rare few pop artists make; that would be an exaggeration. But we all know that much of pop culture is junk. The proof lies in the endless stream of noise, violence and impurity which is broadcast on local music radio stations, or the hundreds of cable channels which simply multiply the amount of worthless material with which today’s man might entertain himself. (Oh, and about cable channels, I’m convinced that HBO stands for “Hell’s Box Office.” No, I don’t have cable, nor a TV in fact, but as a diocesan priest who invests time with his flock, I continually brush with such things.)

Pop culture is culture like McDonald’s food is food.

Now, imagine a religion you could package up and sell. You can make it appeal to lots of people, like McDonald’s sells French Fries, like pop singers sell their rhythms, like Pepsi sells their pop (for non mid-westers: “pop” is “soda”), and like tabloids sell their gossip. A pretty package, perfectly accommodated for the consumer; tasty, delicious, appealing to the senses, and en vogue. Such a religion is what we can call McChurch.

We have seen some communities, especially our Protestant brothers and sisters, start “coffee house Churches,” “cinema Churches,” “mega Churches,” “non-liturgical Churches.” None of which, of course, makes any sense; yet their (scant) popularity rises from the natural religiosity of persons completely uninformed, misinformed or frankly malformed in the message of Jesus Christ. Let’s dupe the consumer into buying into our religion, and appeal to his senses, to what’s en vogue. Let’s neglect the conversion, themetanoia, demanded by Christ, because it simply doesn’t sell: that’s McChurch.

What qualities does McDonald’s have in common with McChurch? It’s easy, it’s comfortable, it’s cheap. At McDonald’s the customer is always right. But real Christianity, which subsists in the Catholic Church alone, is not like that. It is not easy, it is hard, very hard. It is not comfortable, it is uncomfortable, in fact it is downright crucifying! Is the customer always right? No, the sinner is always wrong, phenomenally guilty, returning sin for redemption, ungrateful beyond all telling… but with hope through the grace of Christ.

McDonald’s wants to sell a product, and so does McChurch. And when the local branch manager (the pastor of a parish) fails to keep sales up, he just might get fired. As the market offers a specific good, service or rent for a price, similarly some clergy provide services for income, instead of for the salvation of souls. The market wants to convince the buyer, even by duping, to pay money for something; McChurch wants to convince the faithful, even by putting on a show empty of all true faith, to pitch money into the collection (or fundraiser, or whatever), but cheating them of true holiness which only Christ can give.

The consumer market it centered on the consumer: if the consumer will pay money for it, the vendor will sell it and make piles of money; and so McChurch will give the faithful whatever they like, whatever pleases them, even if that implies complete alienation from the Gospel. God doesn’t provide us what pleases us, but only that which truly makes one happy, even if that happiness is bought with tears and agony.

McChurch is religion like Lady Gaga is culture.

What is the solution to McChurch? Clearly this: holiness of life. When one finds Christians, Catholics, even clergy who put on the weekly show to the “ooo’s” and “aaaw’s” of the crowds, but live in continual and habitual sin, perhaps even mortal, that’s McChurch, and it will wither and die like a branch separated from the vine.

Yet how often the pastors of the Church will cave in to some perception of popularity to continue selling their product? How much ruthlessness, injustice and failure of basic charity there is when they flounder who are devout, and they who are wicked or proud or greedy or intemperate flourish, all with the blessings or mandate of those whom Christ appointed as pastors. What will such men do when Christ comes in the sky with his angels? Where will they hide?

McChurch is religion you can buy and sell; religion packaged for the market, thriving on popularity. But none of this shares anything in common with Jesus Christ the Lord, for he was slandered, abused, humiliated, violated and crucified… at the hands of the priests and Pharisees who should have been the quickest in perceiving in Him the Messiah.

Down with McChurch, up with true Catholicism!

Video: What Stops Population Growth?

Swedish scientist Hans Rosling presents a fascinating explanation, complete with visuals, of the "problem" of overpopulation. Although the message is actually quite simple, this is a very interesting presentation which rebuts some long-held popular assumptions about population growth. Rosling is believable, obviously sincere, and likable. He is calm, smooth, and quite reasonable in his approach.

His message is essentially that we must have small families in order to "save the planet." I believe this notion is erroneous on a number of levels, and of course it's nothing new, but what is new, it seems to me, is how persuasively smooth and appealing Dr. Rosling is in getting the message across. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that he's intentionally trying to manipulate people — nothing of the sort. I'm sure he is deeply sincere and simply wants to share the data he has been analyzing. And as I say, I myself find his presentation very interesting and credible.

If one didn't know better (and let's face it, most people today don't know better), this message, delivered so reasonably here, would make all the sense in the world. The problem is that it contains a great deal of truth and indisputable demographic evidence, but all of that is wrapped thickly and obscuringly around the kernel of untruth: that we must do what we can to have small families.

I plan to write more on this theme, but for the moment, watch this video and see how calm, how, smooth, and how reasonable the family planning message can come across . . .

If Only Disney Security Guards Were Allowed to Get Married . . .

. . . This kind of thing would never happen, dontcha know.

Disney Security Officer arrested for child porn.

January 21, 2010

Dear Lord, I am grateful for all Your many gifts. Especially this one.

Air America Radio, a progressive radio network that once aired commentary from Al Franken and Rachel Maddow, said Thursday it is shutting down immediately.
The company founded in April 2004 said it ceased airing new programs Thursday afternoon and will soon file to be liquidated under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It began broadcasting reruns of programs and would end those as well Monday night. (continue reading)

Conan O'Brien's Career Advice for Kids

"Hosting 'The Tonight Show' has been the fulfillment of a life-long dream for me. And I just want to say to the kids out there watching, you can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it, too."
— Conan O'Brien

Real Preachers of Genius: Seeker-Sensitive Mega Church Guy

Irresistible Force Meets Immovable Object and Vice Versa

What would happen if a pair of Mormon missionaries showed up on the doorstep of a dedicated Jehovah's Witness? This humorous but insightful fictional dialogue is what it might sound like.

Elder Hawkins grinned as he approached the door. He and Sister Sarah had placed the Book of Mormon in four homes already this morning, and it wasn't yet noon. He rang the doorbell and stepped back. A tall, balding man wearing a large smile opened the door. Elder Hawkins saw the Watchtower magazine in the man's hand and his grin vanished.

— By David Washburn, This Rock Magazine, 1992 —

"Come in, come in," the man bellowed. "Don't just stand there. Come in and let's get acquainted."

Hawkins ushered Sister Sarah in and followed. They sat on a couch that the man indicated. "Hello. I'm Elder Hawkins, and this is Sister Sarah. We're from the Church of-- "

"I know. I can read your little name tags. Tell me, what do you think of the situation in the Middle East? Do you think it's leading anywhere?"

Hawkins shrugged. "Actually, Mr.-- ?"

"Call me Jack. Jack Overton's my name."

"Jack, then. We're here to ask a few questions. Do you believe family is important in today's society?"

"Sure do," Jack nodded. "That's why me and my family are preparing ourselves to live forever in paradise on Earth. Are you?"

Hawkins blinked. "I hadn't really thought about --"

"You need to."

"Tell me, Jack. Do you believe that today's society is trying to tear down the fabric of the family?"

"They're tearing everything down. It's no accident that blood transfusions transmit AIDS, you know."

"Blood transfusions. Tell me this, Jack. Do you believe that life goes on after death?"

"No. When you die, consciousness ceases. The only way to come back is if Jehovah raises you again to live in paradise on Earth."

"Oh, then you
do believe we can return and live with Heavenly Father."

"What does that mean?"

"Don't change the subject. Do you believe it or not?"

Jack considered. "Well, not exactly with him, but we can return here."

"And be exalted to live with Heavenly Father."

Jack shrugged. "If you insist on putting it that way. But not everybody will get to."

Hawkins took a breath. "You mean some people will go to hell."

"Hell no, I don't mean hell! There's no such thing."

Hawkins smiled. "So all can return and live with Heavenly Father."

"I'd still like to know what that means, but the answer is no. The ones who reject the truth go to oblivion. After they get their second chance, if they still reject it, they stay in oblivion."

"Second chance?"

"Don't you read your Bible? At the Last Judgment, where it says 'the books were opened.' That means --"

"Oh, you mean when our Brother Jesus returns."

"He's already here."

Hawkins flinched. "Where?"

"Here. On Earth."

Hawkins smiled at Sister Sarah. "Really? Where does he live?"

"Don't be silly. You can't see him. He's invisible, just like he was when his spirit rose from the dead."

"When his spirit-- Tell me this. Do you believe that God gave the Scriptures, insofar as they are correctly translated, to teach us how we can live with Heavenly Father?"

"Oh, yes. And we have the correct translation. It's called the
New World Translation. "

"You have Joseph Smith's inspired translation?"

"Joseph who?"

"Sister Sarah is good at explaining prophecy. Go ahead, Sister."

Sarah cleared her throat. "Heavenly Father gave us the Scriptures through prophets who spoke for him. But the Bible wasn't enough."

"It's enough," Jack said, "But it's hard to understand without Watchtower study materials to interpret it."

isn't enough," Sarah said. "There's another Testament of Jesus Christ."

"Why do I want another one when the two I already have tell me all I need to know?"

Sarah frowned. "Because God gave it."

"Why would he do that?"

"Because he wanted to, I guess. It's called the Book of Mormon."

"It was written by a moron?"

"No, Moroni gave it to Joseph Smith."

Jack blinked. "The city councilman?"

"No, the prophet."

"I hear Councilman Smith makes lots of profits, that's for sure."

profit, prophet." She gathered herself and tried again. "When he was fourteen, Joseph Smith had a vision of two personages. One pointed to the other and said, 'This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.' Who do you suppose that was?"

"This is all nice, but we really should be talking about Armageddon."

Hawkins said, "Yes. The final battle when Jesus returns."

"I told you, he's already here. He returned in 1914 and established the millennial kingdom."

Sarah stared. "But that's supposed to be when all the Jews return to Palestine and all the Mormons return to Missouri."

JACK laughed. "I don't know where your misery comes into it, but Jesus returned invisibly in 1914. He's in the process of driving out the devil's minions. The devil is the author of the Trinity doctrine."

Hawkins said, "You don't believe in a Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?"

"I do, but they're not all gods."

"Of course they are. There are lots of gods. The Father has a glorified body, so does the Son. He took up his exalted body and returned to Heavenly Father after he died on the cross."

"It wasn't a cross. It was an upright stake."

"I beg your pardon?"

Jack sighed. "At any rate, his death and spiritual resurrection gave us the prospect of eternal life on a restored Earth."

"Spiritual resurrection? What do you mean?"

"He didn't rise bodily. When he appeared to the disciples, he used different bodies as he pleased."

Hawkins shook his head. "You've got it all wrong. He laid down his life and took it up again, just like Heavenly Father did in ages past."

"You're saying Jehovah died and rose, too?"

"Not Jehovah, the Father."

"Isn't the Father Jehovah?"

"No, he's Adam."

"Adam who?"

"Adam, the first man in the Bible."

"You're kidding."

"Not at all. Brigham Young told us--"


"Brigham Young. He was the spiritual successor to Joseph Smith."

"The city councilman?"

Hawkins slapped the arm of the couch. "Will you stop that? I want to tell you what God revealed to us through his prophet, Joseph Smith!"

Jack leaned back. "Don't get so excited. Tell away."

HAWKINS took a deep breath. "Now, the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph and told him where he could find some golden plates containing a book that told of an ancient American civilization. He found them and translated them. They were written in Reformed Egyptian."

"What's Reformed Egyptian?"

"A language that nobody knows."

"Did your Joseph know it?"


"But he translated it."


Jack scratched his head. "Where are these plates now?"

"The angel took them back to heaven."

Jack smiled. "That's too bad. It would have been nice to have a
New World Translation of the Christian Reformed Egyptian Scriptures."

"Why? Joseph Smith translated them perfectly under God's inspiration."

"How do you know that?"

"I prayed to Heavenly Father and he showed me."

"How did he show you?"

"When something is true, don't you feel it? Isn't that feeling you get how you know it's true?"

"Oh, yes. That's how I know my
Watchtower is true and this isn't."

"You're wrong. I feel that we're the true church."

"Your feeling is wrong. I feel that we're the right one."

"Your feeling is wrong."

"Is not."

"Is too."

"Is not." Jack stood. "I'm thirsty. Would you like some coffee?"

"We never pollute our bodies with coffee unless our church owns the company. Do you have any tomato juice?"

"I never buy tomato juice. It looks too much like blood, and the Scripture says you're not supposed to eat blood. It's no accident that blood transfusions transmit AIDS, you know."

Hawkins stood. "Tell you what. We need to be going. Just let me leave you with a thought. If you became convinced that these things are true, would you be baptized in the Mormon Church?"

"I've already been baptized into Jehovah's kingdom. Have you?"

"Not that I know of."

"That's too bad. You need to be baptized into his kingdom and then sell books and magazines so you can avoid oblivion. But don't worry. He'll give you a second chance when the books are opened, anyway."

Hawkins shook his head and opened the door for Sister Sarah. "Goodbye, Jack. Thanks for talking to us."

"Same to you," Jack said as he followed them to the door. "By the way, if you're going door-to-door, watch out for the lady two doors down. She's a Christian Scientist. Now
there's a strange religion."

Hawkins glanced at Sister Sarah. "Thanks for the tip. We all need to be on guard against religious fruitcakes, don't we?"

Jack nodded. "Yes, don't we all."

Source: This Rock Magazine

David Washburn freelances from Powell, Wyoming. Reprinted with permission from The Door, P.O. Box 530, Yreka, CA 96097

John Wayne: "The first thing I'll teach my daughter is the Lord's Prayer"

January 20, 2010

"Miracle On The Hudson" Passenger To Recount Life-Changing Journey

When: January 29, 2010

When U.S. Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese and lost both engines minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport on the afternoon of January 15, 2009, Frederick Berretta, an amateur pilot himself, knew before most of his fellow passengers that something was seriously wrong.

As the roar of the jets quieted and the aircraft ceased to climb, the pilot, Captain Chesley Sully Sullenberger, guided the powerless plane towards a desperate crash landing in the Hudson River and announced, "Brace for impact."

Berretta fingered the prayer book in his pocket and tried to prepare himself for death. He felt a "nudge" on his conscience; a keen realization that he had to do something. But what?

Come hear Frederick Berretta recount his life-changing journey in a talk entitled “Flight of Faith: My Miracle on the Hudson,” on Friday, January 29 at 8:00 p.m. in the Abbey Basilica at Belmont Abbey College.

Mr. Berretta’s talk is the second event of 2010 sponsored by the Bradley Institute for the Study of Christian Culture, and admission is free to the public. Seating capacity is limited to 225, so to reserve your seat, please CLICK HERE or call Jillian Maisano at 704.461.6869. A cultural credit will be awarded to students.

Mr. Berretta will be signing copies of his new book, Flight of Faith: My Miracle on the Hudson, at a wine and cheese reception after the talk. The reception is co-sponsored by Saint Benedict Press, publisher of Flight of Faith, and the Catholic Shoppe at Belmont Abbey College and all are cordially invited.

More about Frederick Berretta:

Frederick Berretta grew up in southeast Florida and is the son of a stockbroker. His parents' divorce when he was a young boy sparked his search for a greater truth in life. Although he was exposed to many different Christian denominations in his youth, he embraced Catholicism in his mid-twenties. Throughout his twenty-year career in investment management, he did his best to live his faith fully despite a demanding job, and the challenges of raising four children, and losing a parent and a son in the same year. Frederick Berretta’s experience of surviving a nearly fatal plane crash in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 profoundly affected his Catholic faith and led him to a deeper trust in God's mercy and providence.

To find out more about the book, visit

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January 19, 2010

The Courtship of Greg's Puppet

Yes, I know, that headline weirds me out a little bit, too. But trust me, Greg Willits is a fine Catholic fellow, he has a wicked-cool trophy wife (he married up), he's creative, he's a dedicated family man, he prays the rosary, he's bald (which makes me feel good about myself), and he's funny (this video notwithstanding).