All Catholic, All-the-time:
CNN, the official Catholic News Network, is now reporting on apparitions of the Virgin Mary. An apparent salt stain on a Chicago underpass has been hailed as an image of the Virgin Mary. As the ability of Americans to process basic information continues to fall to new levels of absurdity, we descend backwards into the swamp of superstition and hocus-pocus.
When I hear religious conservatives decry America's lack of faith and religious observance, I just scratch my head and wonder what rock they just crawled from under. I want a vacation from the Pope, the Church, and religion in general and I can't get away from it. At every turn, my TV, newspaper, radio news and and even sports talk station is blathering on about the Pope!
Speaking of superstition and lack of knowledge, most Catholics know little about the theology that undergirds their institution, the Church. The new pope, Benedict XVI, holds an uncompromising view concerning the primacy of Catholicism in relation to the world's other religions.
What the Catholic-in-the-pew knows little about, but should, is that their Church's teachings proclaim Catholicism to be the living embodiment of Christ on Earth and that it is "the instrument for the salvation of all humanity." In a nutshell--you 'ain't going to heaven unless you pass through Rome! That's not very 21st century and inclusive, but it's the official position of the Church, which hasn't wavered over the past 2,000 years. I bet not too many of the blathering empty suits at the networks and cable outlets even know that.
The current Pope holds to the following doctrine; better yet, for the past 24 years, he has been the prefect (president) of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. His role has been to uphold and affirm the sanctity and the truth of official Church teaching.
However, for those who knowingly and deliberately (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) commit the sins of heresy (rejecting divinely revealed doctrine) or schism (separating from the Catholic Church and/or joining a schismatic church), no salvation would be possible until they repented and returned to live in Catholic unity.
The above has a certain 15th century ring to it, doesn't it? So very narrow and exclusive. Oh well, I guess I'm on the road to perdition.
Speaking of perdition;
Those ethical folks over at Wal-Mart:
You 'gotta love old Sam Walton and his Wal-Mart empire. How did this simple man from Arkansas manage to dupe the American public so well and thoroughly? He's managed to single-handedly do more to kill small town America than any other human in recent memory. He couldn't have done it any better than if he had planted a bomb in the center of Main Street in every little town and village in the U.S.
While the corporation has been on a recent crusade to rehab an image slightly tarnished by a string of stories showing Wal-Mart in all its local economy-killing, union-busting, low-wage worker exploitation glory, the truth keeps popping up at the most inopportune times.
Just recently, former Vice Chairman Tom Coughlan was found to be using his reimbursement account to run an anti-union sting operation. Apparently Coughlan was using company spending accounts to payoff union workers to "rat out" fellow union organizers at various Wal-Mart locations.
With all those low, low Wal-Mart prices, come some pretty low morals and even lower business ethics.
A new voice added to life's soundtrack:
I love community radio. For the uninitiated, there still exists those low-power, community-supported, freeform outlets on the radio dial. Portland, Maine's contribution to this potpourri of non-corporate musical offerings is WMPG. Every Friday, Winn hosts his "Aching Spirals of Black Vinyl" from 3-5pm and week-after-week, I'm clued into some new artist or band I've never heard of before.
This week, it was singer-songwriter Todd Snider, of East Nashville, Tennessee. Snider sings about personal demons and offers us personally uplifting songs about jail, death, suicide, addiction and love; all those groovy things that make up life-as-we-know it for those of us who wouldn't be classified as being part of "the beautiful people" crowd.
Snider, who hails from East Nashville, which is the "wrong side of the tracks" section of the home of all that's schmaltzy about today's country music. Snider's music is more in the John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, Joe Ely vein, if you catch my drift.
Thanks to stations like WMPG, I've discovered another gem of an artist, whose been flying just below my radar screen.
What's not to like about a guy who puts up the hand-drawn symbols of a heart (love), a peace sign and the symbol for anarchism. Now there's a guy after my own heart!