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Blog Archive/April 2007

April 26, 2007

Limbo, R.I.P.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least important and 10 the most, where would you put limbo?

Like, at minus 0, most of us would probably answer with a yawn.

To the Catholic Church, however, limbo is numero uno on the list of today's most vital issues. 32 Students and Faculty Massacred by Campus Madman... Hundreds Killed in Latest Iraqi Car Bombing... New Horrors of Global Warming Revealed... Darfur Genocide Still Raging... Iran Continuing with Nuclear Program... No More Limbo!

In the words of that A-1 Steak Sauce commercial: Yeah, it's that important.

Continue reading Mary Beth Crain's Flash! Limbo No Longer in Limbo!

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

April 25, 2007

George Bush's Calvinism

The Republican party has become the Calvinist party, says Garrison Keillor in his latest Salon column. For one thing, in the Republican party, as in the Reformed church, "fear is the fuel that runs the car." Noting Calvinism's five points of doctrine--a.k.a. TULIP: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints--Keillor writes:

"It's a chilly theology with big winners and losers, nothing like the feel-good thank-you-Jesus-for-making-me-beautiful uplift of the megachurches, and it draws clear lines. Either you are one of the elect or you are in the darkness, grinding your molars. Undoubtedly it's an excellent thing to be chosen from the depraved and to be atoned for exclusively and be able to do dreadfully dumb things, burn down the house, start a war, appoint dopes, with no danger of ever losing your chosenness. (When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way.) But it's not a good platform for a political party that has to be elected by a majority of the depraved.

"Clearly the Current Occupant sees himself as a chosen president, though his theology is simpler than Calvin's: really just four points -- blindness as vocation (if you don't remember it, you're not responsible for it), unquestionable authority (the president is the president is the president), sustenance of faith (God has ordained you and it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks) and heckuva job (never admit a thing, let a smile be your umbrella). If you ran a business on those principles, you'd be in big trouble. Just look at General Motors."

Read Keillor's essay, "The Chosen President," here.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

April 23, 2007

Questions in the Wake of a Massacre

Another rampage massacre, this time the worst ever. Which means another fake attempt at trying to understand this uniquely American crime--these interminable rage killing sprees in our workplaces and our schoolyards.

What makes the Virginia Tech massacre more horrifying isn't just the body count but the reaction of the living: The official fake soul-searching is more idiotic than ever, revealing, if anything, a culture that is so insanely delusional and incapable of self-reflection that it almost makes these rampage massacres seem relatively natural.

The footage from Seung-Hui's "media manifesto" has played on cable news on an endless loop for days now, and no one has considered the merits of his grievances--except to cast them as proof positive that Cho Seung-Hui was one sick guy.

Continue reading Mark Ames' America: Baseball, Apple Pie, and Rage Killing Sprees?

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

April 21, 2007

Virginia Tech Receives Scripture Relief

It's been five days since tragedy struck Virginia Tech, and if you're worried that the grief-stricken Hokie community doesn't have enough Christian devotional literature to read as it mourns, then worry no more.

Yesterday, the International Bible Society-Send the Light shipped 1,600 copies of their 30-day devotional, "When Your Whole World Changes," to the site of the worst mass murder in American history. According to an IBS-STL press release, the company also sent hundreds of copies of its NIV New Testament, as well as thousands of devotional booklets with titles such as: "Deeper Still," "Where the River Flows," and "Beside Quiet Waters."

"Whenever disaster strikes, Christians come together to help those hurting to rebuild their lives," says Rich Blanco, Director of IBS-STL Outreach. "We ask the question, what can we do? And we bridge to people in their time of need."

Still needed at VT: diet books, golf instructional videos, and "The Secret," Rhonda Byrne's  mega-bestselling assertion that we attract everything that comes our way in life.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

April 10, 2007

Pastor Ted's Miraculous Recovery

In the April issue of Details, Augusten Burroughs offers his take on Ted Haggard's remarkable ability to alter his sexual orientation in three weeks or, as Burroughs notes, "in less time than it takes for Prozac to kick in."

Homosexuality isn't a "lifestyle," Burroughs writes, "something to be chosen, like a career or a shirt... Being gay or lesbian is a lot like being left-handed--it doesn't define someone. It's not the most interesting thing about a person. But you're not going to change it, no matter how many Abercrombie catalogs you throw away."

Discussing his own struggles with alcohol and self-decepetion, Burroughs predicts that when Haggard "falls off the straight wagon," he'll fall hard: "Instead of having a regular fuck buddy, he'll probably end up spending all his free time in interstate restrooms."

"What's insulting and infuriating is that he's treating his homosexual behavior like it's cancer," Burroughs writes. "He went away for three weeks, he had his psychological chemo, and now he's in remission. But though cancer may not come back, faggotry will. So he's Limbo Man now. Is he straight? He certainly doesn't have the courage or dignity to be a gay male. He's a consequence. He is Repent Man. Somebody should sew him a little cape."

Burrough's article isn't posted at, but the print version is available at newsstands everywhere.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

April 8, 2007

The Mambo King of the N.Y. Diocese

I am passionate about salsa.

I can't give a very good answer as to why. It could be because salsa has introduced me to an eclectic group of people--editors, executives, students, bodybuilders. Maybe I love dancing salsa because I meet rumberas from throughout the world. I've danced with lovely women of every age and size from Norway to Malaysia to Korea to the Dominican Republic.... My spirit soars when I am dancing. I seem to be floating in the music, my arms sometimes cradled around another dancer, playfully communicating something primal. My stomach lifts. I am barely in control. I can't describe it. I feel as though I'm in my spiritual, not my physical body.

Now, many people believe that there is nothing spiritual about dancing. One woman informed me that salsa is about sex, period--"a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. Man and woman. Nothing more. Of course it's fun. It's been programmed like that. And you shouldn't be going out dancing so much. You're not supposed to."

And why am I not supposed to? Because I'm a priest.

Continue reading Gawain de Leeuw's Stepping Out to the Beat of the Holy Spirit.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

April 5, 2007

Rhonda Byrne's "The Secret"

By now I'm sure you've all heard about "The Secret," the mega-bestseller by Rhonda Byrne that's putting the whole world in positive thinking mode and tells you how to have everything youýve ever wanted, and everything you never thought you could ever get.

Based on a plethora of age-old prosperity philosophies, "The Secret" features the input of a "Secret Team" that includes the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" billionaire Jack Canfield; Bob Doyle, creator/founder of Wealth Beyond Reason; "Dr." John Gray, of "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" fame; personal empowerment coach Lisa Nichols; Bob Proctor, author of "You Were Born Rich"; metaphysician Joe Vitale, author of "Life's Missing Instruction Manual"; and a host of other "believe and achieve" gurus. The result is one of those brilliant marketing ploys that can't quite be proved or disproved beyond a reasonable doubt. It resides in that slippery dimension located somewhere between snake oil salesmanship and honest-to-God truth. As a result, it's assured a huge audience that consists, basically, of all of us--including me.

Continue reading Mary Beth Crain's The Secret of My Success

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

April 3, 2007

Your "Ten Commandments" Fix

Everyone's favorite biblical camp classic airs on ABC this Saturday from 7 to 11:44 PM, ET. In the meantime, enjoy this mock trailer for "Ten Things I Hate About Commandments"--"a comedy 3,000 years in the making": 


Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

April 2, 2007

India's Newest Goddess: A Dude from London

Here's a UPI lead that's an attention-grabber: "A former unemployed London man who resembles the ancient Indian goddess of eunuchs is now living in India as a fertility goddess."

For real.

"They revere me and believe I am a goddess. I feel what they feel in me. When I touch people I connect with them," Steve Cooper told the London Sun.

Cooper, who heals and blesses Hindus in a jungle temple, said the natives have treated him like a deity since he arrived in the northern Indian state of Gujarat three months ago. Cooper said he was out of work when Indian friends told him he looked like the goddess Bahucharaji.

According to the Sun, Cooper calls himself Pamela. But his devotees have dubbed him Prema--Hindi for Divine Love.

"All my life I didn't fit in," Cooper said. "Now I've found my life. I plan to stay for good. I couldn't leave now."

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

April 1, 2007

More on the Chocolate Jesus

Is there are connection between the Resurrection and eating chocolate rabbits? Are chocolate bunnies a gateway drug to chocolate Jesuses? Hartford Courant columnist Colin McEnroe explores these and other questions in today's column, With Jesus, Do You Eat the Ears First?

Having studied photos of Cavallaro's sculpture, McEnroe offers this assessment: "It doesn't look irreverent. If I showed you the pictures and told you the statue was carved out of teak, you probably wouldn't be bothered by it, although blogger Joan Walsh suggested this week that Cavallaro is pushing at least one other button by depicting Jesus as what New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin would call a 'chocolate person.'" 

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

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