Friday, May 29, 2009

Some extra items on the recent Catholic scandals, or an update to why I am not religious

I thought that once I got this post written, that it would likely be the last I would say on the topic. Well, things don't always go the way you plan. I came across the following video. This is testimony from one of the victims of the Irish Catholic Church abuses:

I have to say that it was one of the hardest things to watch I have recently looked at. If this does not move you, you are seriously lacking in humanity. And if this does not make you angry or outraged, you really need to check where your moral priorities reside. The pain that the man describes coupled with the way the church simply hid their misdeeds, then blamed the victims. It's just not right, to put it in very mild terms.

And then, The Rude Pundit comes out with a reply to William Donohue of the Catholic League. I put in my two cents on that guy in my previous post. Unlike me, who is pretty much restrained, he pulls no punches in telling it like it is, and it certainly needs to be shared. Yes, it has language, so as I always tell my three readers, if you are squeamish or sensitive skip. If you have the intestinal fortitude, go on and read. He puts it very well: there are times when you just shut the fuck up, and Donohue certainly missed it.

A hat tip to Pharyngula for the video.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Here's an answer why I am not religious

"I'm gonna say a few things; I'm gonna say some bad words and you're just gonna have to deal with it."
--Tony Soprano, in The Sopranos.

Let the epigraph warn you. I am going to say a thing or two, so if you happen to be squeamish, sensitive, or PC, you may want to skip reading this blog today.

Shortly after my mother passed away, my father and I were talking, and I don't quite recall how it came up, but he wondered how come his boys grew up to be non-religious. You see, we were raised Roman Catholic, and we were sent to Catholic schools. We do have to note that Catholic schools were a better choice, in terms of the education, than public schools back in Puerto Rico. That is not too different from people in the States choosing to send their kids to private schools because public schools in the area are bad assuming they can afford the choice. My parents probably could not afford it per se, but my father worked very hard to get us that education. The point is none of the three brothers has remained with the religion of their parents. I can't speak for my siblings, but I can certainly speak for myself. After a lot of searching, not to mention getting a higher education and then working in higher education, I have pretty much moved to a stage where I consider myself somewhat spiritual, but I have no use for organized religion. My philosophy on that is pretty simple: if your religion (whatever it may be) moves you to be a better person and to make the world a better place, good for you. If your religion (again, whichever you follow) moves you to be a bigoted, ignorant, self-righteous, judgmental asshole who condemns anyone who is different, then your religion and you can go fuck yourselves. Period. That I have had the time and inclination to study and find that so many of the world's atrocities continue to be committed in the name of religion because one side thinks their fairy in heaven tells them to kill the other side who believe in a different spirit certainly does not make me any more kind towards the religious.

So why am I bothering to write about this? I certainly do not owe anyone an explanation. My father was curious, but he was quick to add he was not asking us why we made our choices, though I would have been glad to tell him. The reason I find myself blogging now is that I just finished reading some of the accounts of the scandals in the Irish Catholic Church that recently came out revealing the endemic abuse of children by their clerics. Now this by itself would not have been a big deal. I have also read about the scandals in the U.S., like in this book I read a while back. What I mean: it is a big deal, but it would not have moved me to blog about it. I try to avoid blogging about the stuff not mentioned in polite company. However, when I did look over the report itself. Yes, when a report is available, I usually make it a point to at least scan it. This is something most people do not do by the way, and it is the kind of thing we teach as part of information literacy. And then I heard that William Donohue's Catholic League were pretty much doing their best to defend the clerics and lessen the suffering of the victims, well that finally blew my gasket. Now before someone out there decides to send me a note or comment that the Catholic League does not represent the church as a whole, you may want to consider what is your role in reigning them in. I don't exactly see the church hierarchy condemning them, but in fact they are more than happy to have the league around. And I do not respect so-called moderates who say such and such organization does not represent us, but aside from saying that tacitly agree with whatever said organization does it be it the Catholic League or Al-Qaeda. Anyhow, let me pull a couple of things from the league's press release, or rather ask some questions about said press release:

  • Does the fact that many of the children were considered deliquents somehow excuse the abuse and atrocities stated in the report? Given the time frame between the 1920s to the 1980s or so (The Guardian reports that the last of the facilities was shut down in the 1990s), many of those so-called delinquents were likely to be just children taken away from single mothers for no other reason than their mothers were single. Not that it excuses it any more if the kids had been actual criminals. They were in the care of the Church, and the Church basically abused and exploited them at their most vulnerable. To label this disturbing and disgusting is to put it mildly. Just look at the rhetoric of the press release: "More than 30,000 children, most of them delinquents. . ." So, this is less grave because most of them were (or not) delinquents? Why the negative label on the victims?
  • So the fact that it happened long ago somehow excuse the crimes? The fact that the victims are now themselves in their 70s somehow means their perpetrators should not pay? That their suffering should be discounted? That this should be denied? Again, from the press release: "Not nice, to be sure, but hardly draconian, especially given the time line: fully 82 percent of the incidents took place before 1970." Not nice to be sure? Not getting an extra roll at dinner may be not nice. Getting molested by an authority figure that is supposed to protect you is a horrible crime. So the fact the incidents took place before 1970 mean the criminals should go scot-free?
  • And of course, since they were delinquents, abuse was fine. After all, going back to the press release, "and quite frankly, corporal punishment was not exactly unknown in many homes during these times, and this is doubly true when dealing with miscreants." I am sure voyeurism, inappropiate touching and fondling, neglect as well as right out physical abuse and rape were not exactly unknown back then either.
  • Donohue and his ilk claim that the report cheapens rape. No sirs. It is you with your hypocrisy, lack of charity, insensitivity, and obsession to defend a morally bankrupt and corrupt church hierarchy that cheapens you and those you seek to defend by demeaning and reducing the victims of abuse. That you dare to minimize and excuse what are grave and serious charges so your precious church can maintain its tarnished image is disgusting and inexcusable.
So the next time someone asks me how come I am not religious, I will point them to this post. Some people argue that one needs to work from inside the system, and those are the Catholics who choose to remain Catholic (at least nominally. Let us not go into how they do things like use contraception in spite of the church's prohibition) because they somehow think they can work from the inside. Not me. I left, and I am not coming back to them or their ilk. I may not be perfect. Far from it, but at least I do count as one of my few virtues that when I make a mistake, I stand up and I own up to it, which is more than the church will ever do with their half assed attempts at apologies and their demeaning of their victims.

Now, someone else might say I sound angry. You bet I am angry. For one, I was raised religious. I did learn some positive things from that experience such as learning to ask questions and a good basic education; I can say that I actually got a lot if not most of my moral values elsewhere (family certainly was one source; Scouting was another, at least before they started their nonsense against gays, but I digress). But second, it was the tradition of my parents, and my mother, rest in peace, was very devout, which is something I respect even if I grew up not to agree with it (the religion, not her). So in some way I feel they have betrayed my mother's faith, and that does make me angry. But in the end it is the self-righteous pretentious arrogance that somehow the rules of law and common decency do not apply to them that angers me the most. They are lucky I am not some emperor or dictator because if I was throwing them to the lions for what they have done to those children would be too good for them.

They should be denounced for the hypocritical people that they are. And I am certainly not shy about doing that. I have had my thoughts or two on religion before today. A few more thoughts here too.

And dad, if you ever find your way to this blog, this may be some small answer to your question. There are a couple other reasons I could name, but this certainly would be the top one. It does not mean you did anything wrong in raising me. On the contrary, the fact you always taught me to never be afraid to ask questions, to always stand up for what is right, and to never back down from bullies as well as just how to be a decent man go to show you certainly did well. And for that, you have my gratitude.

With a hat tip to Pharyngula, who looks at the issue and summarizes very nicely here and here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The 75 Movies Every Man Should See (Actually 74).

This is one of those lists that I can't resist seeing how I did. From Esquire, these are "The 75 Movies Every Man Should See." Actually, you only get 74 films; I am not sure if the 75th slide is missing or a glitch (or just the ad). I have my questions about a title or two, but overall, they do catch the "grow hairs on your chest" theme quite well. I am not quite sure they are "the best;" some of the choices seem questionable, but oh well, it's a list and a chance to be a bit snarky. It does have a few films I have never heard of, but then again, I don't really see myself as a film buff. I am more of a casual film viewer who knows how to find information on a film if need be. By the way, the list looks at original films, not the remakes.

In bold, means I have seen it.

The list:

  1. In the Heat of the Night.
  2. Slap Shot.
  3. Iron Man.
  4. Jaws (I still end up watching this when it comes up on cable. And it has some pretty good lines).
  5. Save the Tiger.
  6. 12 Angry Men (amazingly enough, I have never taken the time to see this. Maybe I should).
  7. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (remember vaguely seeing it. I don't really see the big deal so many people make out of it).
  8. Chinatown (this is another one of those I am ashamed to admit I have not seen. I need to rush to the video store like pronto and fix that deficiency).
  9. The Godfather (you can't be manly if you have not seen this film. Period. A lot of the answers in life are in this film).
  10. Fitzcarraldo (I have never heard of this one. I may have to check it out).
  11. Ghostbusters (I am not sure how watching this movie makes you more manly, but it's on the list).
  12. Glory.
  13. Wall Street (nope, have not seen it. Not sure I want to given the current climate).
  14. Runaway Train.
  15. Rosemary's Baby.
  16. North by Northwest.
  17. Lone Star.
  18. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (yes; this is definitely one film that is a must-see for guys. The final showdown is a classic).
  19. The Conversation.
  20. The Thin Blue Line (saw it, but vaguely remember it).
  21. Johnny Dangerously (another one I barely remember).
  22. The French Connection (car chase. Need I say more? Oh, and the hat is pretty cool too. Plus a guy who goes by the name of Popeye and is not a sailor. What's not to like?).
  23. Miller's Crossing.
  24. The Great Escape.
  25. Dawn of the Dead.
  26. Shaun of the Dead.
  27. Hate.
  28. First Blood (do you really need a reason if you are a guy to watch this? This movie is a fine example of "don't mess with the silent guy who is just passing through." That is a very common theme in guy movies it seems. I am surprised no one seems to really have written about it. Eastwood, Stallone, so on, have played the "I am a bad guy, don't mess with me or else" character at one time or another).
  29. Bottle Rocket.
  30. Bad Day at Black Rock.
  31. Tootsie.
  32. Broadcast News.
  33. The Terminator.
  34. Shakes the Clown.
  35. Dirty Harry (because sometimes if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Now if all the dumbass bureaucrats and bosses would get out of the way so one could get the job that needs doing done the world would be a better place).
  36. Straw Dogs.
  37. Raging Bull.
  38. Citizen Kane.
  39. The Shining.
  40. Fatal Attraction. (if this movie does not scare a guy straight from cheating on their significant other with a one-night stand, I am not sure what will. First time I saw this, Glenn Close creeped the crap out of me. Poor bunny).
  41. The Incredibles.
  42. Blade Runner (A classic of science fiction).
  43. Sling Blade.
  44. Giant.
  45. Glengarry Glen Ross (read the play, have not seen the film).
  46. Serpico (a film about doing what is right, no matter who you have to cross or the risks. Definitely a manly movie).
  47. Down by Law.
  48. The Searchers (I think by now I have seen most if not all of John Wayne's westerns at one point or another).
  49. Do The Right Thing.
  50. Gone Baby Gone.
  51. The Big Kahuna.
  52. M.A.S.H.
  53. The Verdict.
  54. The Warriors.
  55. Alien.
  56. Stalag 17.
  57. Bridge on the River Kwai.
  58. The Misfits.
  59. Reservoir Dogs (one that I amaze myself I have not taken the time to see. Again, a trip to the video store is in order).
  60. The Maltese Falcon (what is more manly than Humphrey Bogart in a noir film?).
  61. Dr. No. (By the way, this was on cable a few nights ago. I sat down to watch it again, and it is interesting to me how the film seems so simple now, when you compare it with the Bond films today, and yet back then it was very revolutionary. And the film is still appealing today).
  62. Cool Hand Luke.
  63. The Road Warrior.
  64. Patton.
  65. True Romance.
  66. Run Silent, Run Deep.
  67. All Quiet on the Western Front.
  68. Platoon.
  69. Caddyshack.
  70. Hud.
  71. Blazing Saddles (this is another of my favorites. So many good lines).
  72. Three Kings.
  73. Paths of Glory.
  74. On the Waterfront.
Hmm, only 38. Oh well, there you have it folks. As the guys at Esquire say, it is a biased list. I would take some out and put others in, but then I would have to write another whole post.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Even after death, you can get evicted

Welcome to another edition of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. When I first saw this in BuzzFeed, I thought it was a joke. After all, a lot of what they publish is a joke, so I just figured another "ha ha" moment." However, on following the link they provide to the Freakanomics blog, it seems true that a cemetery is in foreclosure. You know the economy has to be in the crapper when even cemeteries get foreclosed. And here I thought that the mortuary industry was pretty much recession-proof. I mean, everybody dies, and someone has to take care of their last needs. But from the looks of the story, that may not be the case anymore. I am sure they can't just toss the bodies buried in the cemetery aside if the place gets bought by a new owner, but it is still something to consider in this economy.

Friday, May 08, 2009

One of those religion tests

Well, we made it to another Friday. It has been a while since I have posted one of those Internet quiz results here at The Itinerant Librarian. My three readers know that I am not exactly religious. Ok, let me put in simple terms. Here is my brief policy/philosophy on religion: if it makes you a better person and moves you to make the better world a better place, more power to you. If it moves you to be a close-minded bigot who condemns anyone different (usually for the mere reason of being different) and embraces ignorance, and especially moves you to violence, then I have no use for you or your religion. I will even take it further and say that if you are one of the latter, you should be denounced and deserve any ridicule, denouncing, etc. that comes your way for your bad behavior. And if you happen to be one of the silent ones who condone the misbehavior of your brethren, or worse, fail to denounce it because you support it tacitly, especially the extremism, you are as bad as they are. Personally, I see myself as simply spiritual, and not even sure of the path.

Anyhow, here are the results of a belief systems test I recently found (test here). The interesting thing about this one is that not only do they ask you what traits do you look for in a belief system, but they also ask you if that choice is of low, medium, or high importance to you. For me, that is tough because I am extremely easy-going when it comes to spiritual beliefs. I think my top result came mostly from the fact that neo-pagans seem to be pretty easy-going in terms of their beliefs, or at least they have diverse beliefs. I may have to do some further reading now and learn some more. And for me, a little more reading in order to learn something new is not a bad thing. At any rate, these are the results they gave me. All links from the site itself.

Your Results:

1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
See selected books about Neo-Pagan. Click here for info
2. New Age (91%)
See selected books about New Age. Click here for info
3. New Thought (89%)
See selected books about New Thought. Click here for info
4. Unitarian Universalism (89%)
See selected books about Unitarian Universalism. Click here for info
5. Liberal Quakers (87%)
See selected books about Liberal Quakers. Click here for info
6. Mahayana Buddhism (77%)
See selected books about Mahayana Buddhism. Click here for info
7. Mainline - Liberal Christian Protestants (77%)
See selected books about Mainline - Liberal Christian Protestants. Click here for info
8. Theravada Buddhism (71%)
See selected books about Theravada Buddhism. Click here for info
9. Reform Judaism (67%)
See selected books about Reform Judaism. Click here for info
10. Secular Humanism (66%)
See selected books about Secular Humanism. Click here for info
11. Scientology (58%)
See selected books about Scientology. Click here for info
12. Sikhism (58%)
See selected books about Sikhism. Click here for info
13. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (56%)
See selected books about Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist). Click here for info
14. Taoism (50%)
See selected books about Taoism. Click here for info
15. Hinduism (47%)
See selected books about Hinduism. Click here for info
16. Bahai (40%)
See selected books about Bahai. Click here for info
17. Jainism (40%)
See selected books about Jainism. Click here for info
18. Non-theist (40%)
See selected books about Non-theist. Click here for info
19. Orthodox Quaker (36%)
See selected books about Orthodox Quaker. Click here for info
20. Orthodox Judaism (34%)
See selected books about Orthodox Judaism. Click here for info
21. Mainline - Conservative Christian Protestant (27%)
See selected books about Mainline - Conservative Christian Protestant. Click here for info
22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (25%)
See selected books about Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). Click here for info
23. Eastern Orthodox (25%)
See selected books about Eastern Orthodox. Click here for info
24. Islam (25%)
See selected books about Islam. Click here for info
25. Roman Catholic (25%)
See selected books about Roman Catholic. Click here for info
26. Jehovah's Witness (18%)
See selected books about Jehovah's Witness. Click here for info
27. Seventh Day Adventist (9%)
See selected books about Seventh Day Adventist. Click here for info

Booknote: The Nasty Bits

Another short review from my Good Reads:

The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Useable Trim, Scraps, and Bones The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Useable Trim, Scraps, and Bones by Anthony Bourdain

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an excellent reading experience. If you have read Bourdain before, then you know what you are getting. If not, this book makes an excellent entry point into his writing. He writes in a direct, honest style; he is very conversational. The work reads as if he was there sitting with you telling all those stories of places visited around the world, cooks and chefs he has met, and what he has learned along the way. He has a good eye for detail, and his descriptions just make you long to be there, wherever there happens to be. This is a collection of his short works, organized in broad themes ("bitter," "sweet" etc.). So you can read it through, or you can pick and choose. This book will make you want to travel, and it certainly will make you want to seek out some better food fare at the closest hole in the wall place you can find.

Some of the passages I enjoyed include: his look at the celebrity chef phenomenon, the story of the celebrity chef he would like to see (very unlike anything on TV), the story of cook Hamilton (the hardcore cook), eating in China where "everybody pays tomorrow" but they come back anyways the next day (my kind of food, hehe), oh, and reading about Chef Ferra was also very cool. But he also expresses other opinions such as on caning in Singapore (which is a great foodie place, by the way). He has a small piece on how to behave in restaurants that I think should be mandatory reading for anyone who needs to learn some basic manners. In the end, Bourdain combines passion with open mindedness and, this I admire, a respect for the cultures and places he visits that I find moving, interesting, entertaining, and informational; I feel I learned a lot just from this book about all sorts of places. By the way, he also includes a sampling of his fiction (I did not know he wrote fiction; nice, but I like his nonfiction better), and at the end, there are some commentaries on some of the essays. These small commentaries are kind of like the extras on a DVD, giving some further insights. This is a book I highly recommend. To those readers who have gentle dispositions, Bourdain does use some language here and there, but don't let that deter you. This is definitely a book worth reading.

View all my reviews.