The new television season began in earnest last week, and all around Hollywood so many executive fingers were crossed, it was hard to pound out even the simplest message on a Blackberry. The previous television season – marred by a months-long writers strike – was an unmitigated disaster, perhaps hastening the demise of television as a mass medium.
Would this season be different? Would the major broadcast networks lure viewers back into the fold? Would tough economic times bring people together around the electronic hearth to share stories once again?
I am so glad that Newsweek (“Why are all the really old people women?” Sept. 28, 2009, page 72) has finally answered a media literacy education question that I have had for years: why great women never die. In fact, if you read the four or five enhanced obituaries of daily newspapers in major US markets, women seldom die at all.
A few years ago I heard Sr. Helen Prejean speak at a Catholic Press Association meeting in pre-Katrina New Orleans. I paraphrase but the gist is, “When a white man is murdered in New Orleans it is front page news; when a black man is murdered it is on page 30.”
Yesterday, Sunday, I attended the two and 1/2 hour Rite of Dedication of the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart University, located in Fairfield, Conn. Peter Steinfels of The New York Times wrote about the event on Sept. 25th.
Bishop Bill Lori, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees and as the local bishop, presided. The official program noted that the university was founded in 1963 during the Vatican Council II, and therefore, the chapel's being named for the Holy Spirit echoes the spirit of Vatican II. The university takes its "inspiration and energy" from that ecumenical council.
David Gergen, longtime political commentator and advisor to four presidents, lauded the national Catholic Charities campaign to reduce poverty in America Sept. 25 but warned that “progress is hard work; politics is hard work. It just takes a long time.”
tGergen, a senior political analyst for CNN and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University in Boston, addressed the Catholic Charities USA 2009 Annual Gathering on the second day of its Sept. 24-26 meeting in Portland.
Politco.com has a really great article about the re-election prospects of Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln. A Democrat, Lincoln survived re-election in 2004 when the state went heavily for George W. Bush but Republicans think that the anti-health care reform movement may make her vulnerable next year. “This race will be more about the policies of Barack Obama than it will be about the policies and positions that Blanche Lincoln is talking about on a daily basis,” said GOP campaign adviser.
By JOHN L. ALEN JR.
tCelebrating the feast day of the most famous figure in Czech history, a 10th century ruler known around the world as “Good King Wenceslas” thanks to the popular Christmas carol, Pope Benedict XVI closed his three-day visit to the Czech Republic this morning with a Mass in honor of St. Wenceslas, the country’s patron saint.
tThe Mass was held in Stará Boleslav, a pilgrimage destination about 15 miles outside Prague believed to be the site of the death of Wenceslas in 935. (In Czech, “Wenceslas” is rendered as "Václav" and remains perhaps the most common first name in the country.)
tThe early history of Christianity in the Czech lands is thoroughly intertwined with the story, and at times the legend, of Wenceslas. Tradition holds that his grandfather was converted by St. Cyril and Methodius, the legendary “apostles to the Slavs,” thereby becoming the first Christian prince of the Czechs. His grandmother Ludmilla, today venerated as a saint, was strangled to death by a pagan servant in a dynastic dispute.
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tIn a briefing with reporters in the Czech capital, Vatican spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi stopped short of official confirmation of a rumored papal trip to Great Britain for 2010, but suggested that it’s likely. He added that such a trip would be an "obvious occasion" to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman.
Lombardi also said that outings in 2010 to both Malta and Portugal are in the works, but that preparations still have to be made.
tThe Malta trip, set for April, has already been announced by the Maltese bishops. It will commemorate the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul’s famous shipwreck on the Mediterranean island. The pontiff’s trip to Portugal has likewise been quasi-official for some time, set for the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13.
tLombardi said that the main organizer of papal travel, Alberto Gasparri, has not yet worked out the details of trips to either location.
tIn the Japanese martial art of jiu-jitsu, the key to success is turning your opponent’s strength into a weakness. If your opponent is bigger or hits harder, you deflect his energy rather than directly opposing it, turning the blows back upon the guy delivering them.
tIn effect, Pope Benedict XVI has been practicing some rhetorical jiu-jitsu this weekend in the Czech Republic.