Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sunday Snippets ... and Your Humble Blogger Sells Out!

Yes it's time for Sunday Snippets — A Catholic Carnival, hosted as usual by RAnn. As you probably know by now, it's a collection of Catholic writers that huddle together once a week to offer their collective works to discriminating readers like you. But before I offer you my work for the week ... you might have noticed something different at the bottom of this post.

Yeah, I sold out. I'm in this for the money now.

Blogging doesn't really cost me anything, since I use Blogger and a whole host of free tools. Because of that, I've been trying to keep my sites free of advertising, since I find ads annoying, and AdSense doesn't always "get" what's appropriate for you (why would I want to shop for plus-size dresses?).

However, a little over three years ago, a papilloma started growing in my right nostril. Since I was first out of work and then working but without health benefits, I let it go until it was practically hanging out of my nose.

So it's off to an ENT. Doctor Treebeard looks at me, and sends me off to a nearby clinic where I can have my nose CT scanned (and I'm beginning to wonder if my head shouldn't be examined). He also schedules me for a biopsy just in case. So I come back for the follow-up, and he tells me that 1) it needs surgery to be removed (really?) and 2) he's not the one to do it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Requiem for a restaurant legacy

Jerry and Chuck Caniglia, and their restaurant. (Almost looks
like they were Photoshopped into the picture!)
Every now and again, I joke that as a kid my only experience with Italian restaurants was that you got spaghetti or mostaccioli with your steak. And every now and again, I wonder what kind of restaurant I would run if I had the money to invest.

Now I know my answer: I'd open a Caniglia's.

People who grew up or lived for any appreciable length of time in Omaha, Nebraska know about the Caniglia restaurants: Caniglia's, Mister C's, The Top of the World (on the 36th floor of what used to be Omaha's only skyscraper, the Woodmen Tower), Eli Caniglia's Venice Inn and a small handful of others. There were other Italian-owned steakhouses as well, some of which are still open, and their names still evoke plenty of memories: Piccolo Pete's, Cascio's, Angie's, Batiatto's and so on.

The Caniglias actually had more Italian selections, of course. While Caniglia's was originally a bakery, for the longest time it was a pizzeria — in fact, if I remember correctly, they still served pizza even after they transformed into a steakhouse. But for your appetizer, you could (and almost always did) order fried ravioli, served with plenty of marinara, and you had spaghetti, lasagna and veal parmigiana as entrĂ©e options (there may have been more, but those were my go-to choices).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Contraception: A Hill Worth Dying On!—CATHOLIC STAND

Is contraception “a hill worth dying on”? asks Austin Ruse, one of the Catholic Church in America’s most sage, most lucid commentators.

There is no question that the Catholic politician is duty bound to limit and then to stop legal abortion. After all, abortion is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. Protecting the innocent from abortion is not a uniquely Catholic matter. Is contraception the same as abortion, or is it more like divorce, a fundamental Catholic teaching but one that we do not seek to impose on others[?]. We may seek to convince others but we do not seek to impose it on them through public policy.
There are good public health reasons to be against contraception. Hormonal birth control pills can cause cancer, for instance. And this is a very important point to make when we properly try to undermine public confidence in contraceptives. But this is not a Catholic reason to vote against them …. We do not see any great Catholic campaigns against smoking and smoking probably causes more cancer than the pill. [Bold font mine.—ASL]

Ruse warns us, “Abortion advocates everywhere are eager to use contraceptives as a cudgel to beat us with and they would love nothing more than for us to actually fight on that ground.” Indeed, the vast majority of Catholic Americans, both men and women, have registered dissent on this teaching, if on no other. Seemingly, to be against contraception is equivalent to being a Holocaust denier or a proponent of the flat-Earth theory. After all, according to Angela Bonavoglia anyway, “every major health organization maintains that [contraception] is crucial [to] the health of mothers and babies”; whether or not that statement is true, it’s certainly part of the mythos of the sexual revolution that women need access to birth control and abortion for their health.

(A myth, Michael F. Flynn reminds us, is “an organizing story by which a culture explains itself to itself”. In this sense, a myth is not necessarily false or fictional in its details; modern histories fulfill this function as well as did the tales of the Celtic bard or the Norse forteller. The major difference between, say, Herodotus or Suetonius — or even Homer — and the late Stephen Ambrose is footnotes: history is story at its very core … the tale we tell about us.)

Ruse’s comments come in the context of a couple of specific fights, in which open opposition to the sale of contraceptives is playing a role. However, to speak of “a hill worth dying on” is to speak of the contraception issue as if it were extractable from the rest of our fights.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Bake some cookies!

Sorry for the rather extended post-birthday break. The day of my birthday I lost access to my computer at work and don't expect to have it back until this week sometime. Some of the time has also been spent on personal and medical issues; there's an operation I need, and all the years of not taking care of myself have finally caught up to make setting up the operation a major undertaking that makes herding cats look like a sane and simple way to earn a living. In fact, if I wanted to start my own business, I'd become an "operation coordinator", except that I'm not sure how to make it pay yet. Or design orthotic cowboy boots.

Anyway, I broke under the pressure and started baking cookies again.

Actually, I can't help but think of the poem attributed to St. Brigid of Kildare, which speaks of brewing a lake of ale for the King of Kings and the heavenly host. We're called to feed the hungry and welcome the stranger as corporal acts of mercy, because what we do for others is what we do for Christ (Matthew 25:35, 40); ale, besides being the great mark of hospitality throughout the Northern European world, was also a foodstuff, as it was brewed with a lower alcohol content and more carbs than our modern beers, especially the pilsners. Cookies are great treats; the smell of fresh-baked cookies is one of the most home-evocative scents.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Is liberal Catholicism irrelevant?

Recently there's been a spate of articles, by Patrick J. Deneen, Rod Dreher and Bonchamps of The American Catholic, all of whom argue from a single premiss: The struggle for the soul of American Catholics is no longer between "liberals" and "conservatives" as the MSM defines these camps (I prefer the terms "progressive" and "orthodox"), but rather between different strains of conservative Catholics. Claims Deneen:

The real action does not involve liberal "Catholics" at all. Liberal Catholicism, while well-represented in elite circles of the Democratic Party, qua Catholicism is finished. Liberal Catholicism has no future—like liberal Protestantism, it is fated to become liberalism simpliciter within a generation. The children of liberal Catholics will either want their liberalism unvarnished by incense and holy water, or they will rebel and ask if there’s something more challenging, disobeying their parents by “reverting” to Catholicism. While "liberal" Catholicism will appear to be a force because it will continue to have political representation, as a "project" and a theology, like liberal Protestantism it is doomed to oblivion.

Someone needs to tell liberal Catholics that. Angela Bonavoglia, feminist columnist and useful idiot for HuffPo, is also the author of Good Catholic Girls: How Women Are Leading the Fight to Change the Church, and is still very much under the impression that the fight isn't doomed. Same with Kate Childs Graham, a gay feminist whose rationale for calling herself a "pro-choice Catholic" is as narcissistic and intellectually dishonest today as it was when first published by the National Catholic Fishwrap five years ago. Neither Bonavoglia nor Graham are "baby-boomers"; they're as much "Generation X" as I am (perhaps more, as I was born close to the cusp between the two cohorts). And lest you think I'm picking on feminists, let me refer you back to Young Catholics for Choice, who don't just support abortion upon request but rather a whole host of positions that run counter to Catholic moral dogma. YCFC is by no means populated by aging hippies, but rather is run by and for twenty- and thirty-somethings.