Tag Archives: ameryka

Critical Mass

Basilica of St. MaryTo hear Catholic Mass in one’s own language was, for centuries, impossible for the majority of Catholics. Vatican II changed all that, allowing Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular. As a result, Catholics worldwide hear the same Mass yet different sounds.

Poles in America experience a certain foreigners in the English Mass, regardless of the individuals’ fluency. This goes a long way in explaining the significance of the Polish Mass celebrated in Greenville today. A Polish priest, on loan from Polska, is stationed in Columbia, a mere hour-and-a-half from Greenville. After much persuasion, he came to a little church outside Greenville proper, and probably almost every Pole in a thirty-mile radius was there. The kids stood and knelt at the all the proper times, but being raised in the States, they didn’t know the hymns or the responses/prayers. They seemed lost. I would imagine that’s what they’re like visiting Poland as well: strangers in a land that sounds strangely familiar.

For me, it brought a smile. The first time I ever attended a Catholic Mass was in Poland, and Polish is, for me, the language of liturgy. From hearing alone, I know the prayers and formulations in Polish better than English.

Aside from the language, there are subtle and not-so-subtle differences. Poles still do the mea culpa in the Confiteor. “Moja moja, wina, moja wina, moja bardzo wielka wina,” all chant in the church, jabbing their thumb into their chest with each “moja wina.”

At the end of the Mass, he asked for a show of hands for a commitment to a monthly Polish Mass. Every hand in the church went up, including mine (after some prodding from K — I was simply absent-mindedly daydreaming about the oddity of hearing a Polish Mass after so many years).  Critical mass achieved, the priest then announced that there would, henceforth, be a monthly Polish Mass. Applause broke out, and it was then that the significance of the moment was clear. A bit of their heritage, their youth in Poland, their past given place right here in Greenville, home of Bob Jones University, one of the most virulently anti-Catholic institutions in America.

While I was living in Poland, the closest I ever got to getting a taste of my own culture was to drop into McDonald’s or watch the latest American blockbuster.

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Antichrist Beast Obama

The site’s welcoming text reads,

Any fair study of the scriptures coupled with the study of the signs of the times will convince almost anybody with a modicum of intelligence that the end of the world is drawing nigh. […] Barack Obama is the Antichrist, and is leading doomed america [sic] to her final destruction and the destruction of the world! We’re not talking some vague, nebulus [sic] postulation, we’re talking plain, straight BIble [sic] talk backed up by an overwhelming amount of real evidence – on the ground! Watch this fascinating, three-part documentary and check out the rest of the site for Bible perspective on the rise of Antichrist in the last hours of these last, dark days.

Anyone who is not familiar with Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church would do well to watch this BBC documentary.

One might wonder what someone is hoping to accomplish by insulting its readers by suggesting that those who disagree (or who are not yet convinced) don’t even have a “modicum of intelligence.” Yet once it’s clear that this is one of Westboro Baptist Church’s many web sites, all is clear.

What’s interesting about this is the time line Phelps is setting up for himself here. By calling Obama the Antichrist, Phelps is painting himself into a corner; it is a definitive claim about prophecy.

When Obama leaves office and not a single thing has happened, what will happen? Will Phelps admit he was wrong and at last quiet his irrationally bigoted voice?

Doubtful — false prophets always have a way of reinventing themselves.

Site: http://www.beastobama.com/

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In Line

I fancy I can tell a lot about someone from their shopping cart’s contents. Lots of frozen foods or processed packaged foods means little time for and/or interest in cooking. Lots of power tools means new homeowner or generous present. A collection of books on the MLA format means a son or daughter working on a research paper.

Generalizations, certainly, but they’re probably accurate at least occasionally. I look in our cart and I can tell quite a bit. Of course, I have the Cliff Notes to my own life, so there’s not much guess work there.

More revealing, though, can be the conversations in the line. One of the reasons I prefer to Polish in public is the privacy it provides. I certainly wouldn’t want those around me to hear an exchange between L and me like the one I overheard yesterday.

A mother and her two children were piling up frozen foods at the checkout when the oldest daughter — probably around fourteen or fifteen — pulled a copy of Twilight from under a bag of frozen fries and asked, “Do I have to put it back?”

Mother’s response was stunning: “You won’t read it! I’ve never seen you sit and read anything.”

The girl turned the book over in her hands a couple of times, and with a sigh, trudged off to replace the book on the shelf.

The temptations: “Has she ever seen you sit and read anything?” “Wonderful job of encouraging your daughter to read.” The greatest, though, was the most dangerous: as the girl passes me, “Here — I’ll buy it for you.”

Instead, I whispered to L, in Polish for added security, “I’ll buy you all the books you want.”

Shopping cart photo by Dan4th.

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It’s the End of the World as We Know It…

That’s what the rest of the world is saying, anyway. The Spiegel staff writers, and hence a certain segment of Germany, certainly thinks that America’s world dominance has come to an end:

[Bush] talked [at the UN] about terrorism and terrorist regimes, and about governments that allegedly support terror. He failed to notice that the delegates sitting in front of and below him were shaking their heads, smiling and whispering, or if he did notice, he was no longer capable of reacting. […]

“Absurd, absurd, absurd,” said one German diplomat. A French woman called him “yesterday’s man” over coffee on the East River. There is another way to put it, too: Bush was a laughing stock in the gray corridors of the UN.

The American president has always had enemies in these hallways and offices at the UN building on First Avenue in Manhattan. The Iranians and Syrians despise the eternal American-Israeli coalition, while many others are tired of Bush’s Americans telling the world about the blessings of deregulated markets and establishing rules “that only apply to others,” says the diplomat from Berlin.

But the ridicule was a new thing. It marked the end of respect.

The article continues,

Is it only President George W. Bush, the lame duck president, whom the rest of the world is no longer taking seriously, or are the remaining 191 UN member states already setting their sights on the United States, the giant brought to its knees? UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon referred to a “new reality” and “new centers of power and leadership in Asia, Latin America and across the newly developed world.” Are they surprised, in these new centers, at the fall of America, of the system of the Western-style market economy?

The fall of America? We were always taught, as citizens of any great empire in history, that our global empire would last forever. The American middle class rules the world, right? Not anymore — the middle class is disappearing, and the UN Secretary General is already talking about “new centers of power.”

I don’t know if any news agencies are reporting about this kind of pessimism in Europe. Obama, though, at least recognizies America’s fall from grace. Does he see how bad it really is?

The banking crisis in the United States has shaken many things in recent days, not just the chancellor’s affection for America and the respect the rest of the world once had for the US as an economic and political superpower. Since the US investment bank Lehman Brothers plummeted into bankruptcy two weeks ago, the financial crisis has developed a destructive force of almost unimaginable strength. The proud US investment banks with globally recognized names like Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs have all gone bankrupt, been bought up or restructured. The American real estate market has essentially been nationalized. And the country’s biggest savings and loan, Washington Mutual, has failed and been sold at a loss.

In light of the almost daily reports of losses in the financial sector, it seemed almost secondary to note that the disaster had also turned into one of the biggest criminal investigations in American history. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is already investigating 26 large financial corporations as well as 1,400 smaller companies and private citizens for possible fraud.

Economists now characterize what began two years ago with falling prices in the American real estate market as the biggest economic disaster since the world economic crisis of the 1930s. No one knows whether and how the meltdown of global financial markets, which would have grave consequences for the world economy, can still be prevented.

And now, of all times, the world is faced with a preeminent power that no longer seems capable of leading and a US president who is not even able to unite his divided country in an hour of need.

For weeks, Bush ignored the crisis, insisting on the strength of the market and telling Americans: “Everything will be fine.”

Indeed — we might finally be reaching the point at which Americans are no longer pacified by such platitudes. We are in a new America.

This is no longer the muscular and arrogant United States the world knows, the superpower that sets the rules for everyone else and that considers its way of thinking and doing business to be the only road to success.

A new America is on display, a country that no longer trusts its old values and its elites even less: the politicians, who failed to see the problems on the horizon, and the economic leaders, who tried to sell a fictitious world of prosperity to Americans.

It’s a very long series of articles, but take the time to read it: The End of Arrogance.

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Hagee and the Messiah

This race has been odd for the religious right. First, there was the issue of whether or not to support a Mormon — a non-Christian in the eyes of many Evangelicals. Now comes the troubling Hagee endorsement of McCain.

Yet it’s not only those on the left side of the spectrum that are troubled by this — or at least, it shouldn’t be. Those same Evangelical Christians who hesitated to support McCain should also be leery of Hagee and his less-than-orthodox theology, as seen below:

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I was taking a modern American history course. The professor sent us home to watch television — ostensibly to watch history.

Little did we know.

I watched the fire and assumed an evil man had ordered mass suicide.

I assumed that for almost fifteen years.

I no longer assume that.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement.

Netflix members can watch it online.

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Don’t Call Him Brother Romney

Interesting article on Romney’s Mormonism at “Get Religion”:

If you’ve not followed the decades-long theological debate between apologists for evangelical Protestantism and apologists for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, brace yourself. You’re probably in for an extended mass media discourse on those differences, at least until the primaries settle who will be the Republican nominee for president. Don’t call him Brother Romney just yet — GetReligion

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Sadly, No! Malkin vs. Malkin

Thud linked to a post at “Sadly, No!” that shows the dilemma of Michelle Malkin’s style of “tough” conservatism. Malkin vs. Malkin

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Medicaid Cuts

From the Sacramento Bee

The Bush administration plans to stop reimbursing states for school-based Medicaid activities, including transporting disabled students, a move that would cost California schools more than $100 million a year.

Read the rest of the story.

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Sunday Morning Suprise

This morning I changed our Geico insurance from North to South Carolina. Previously, I’d been fairly pleased with Geico. We were paying just over $300 for six months’ coverage — more than reasonable, I thought. A great deal, in fact.

Moving to SC, however, would bring about higher rates. How much higher?

Geico’s quote was $690 — an increase of 122%!

“Time for insurance shopping,” I thought. First call — Nationwide. $440, or an increase of 41%. Still a significant increase, but certainly more reasonable.

Any suggestions for insurance companies that might offer better rates?


Any surprise

why such a large percentage of Americans are overweight?

Here are the facts: 11.2 million pounds of potato chips; 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips; 4.3 million pounds of pretzels; 3.8 million pounds of popcorn, and 2.5 million pounds of nuts.

That adds up to 30 million pounds of snacks that Americans will wolf down Super Bowl Sunday, according to research by the Calorie Control Council and the Snack Food Association.

That means the average armchair quarterback will consume 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat just from snacking — not counting any meals. (Source)

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