Sunday, August 28, 2005

Masturbation Only True Form of Safe Sex, Says Activist

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Hands-On Lovers Want People to Throw Away the Condoms.

LAS VEGAS -- Throw aways your condoms, your birth control pills and your relationship, because masturbation is the only way to ensure a safe and stable sex life, according to John Lee Morgan, a national safe sex activist.

"There is no form of contraception that protects against STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) 100 percent of the time," said Morgan. "With masturbation, however, your greatest risk is carpal tunnel syndrome. I don't know about you, but I would rather have the wrist pain. "

Morgan is so committed to spreading the word about safe sex through masturbation, he has formed the nationwide organization, Hands-On Lovers, Inc. to educate the public about why 'going solo' is preferable to anything else out there.

"I trust myself more than any sexual partner I could ever have," said Morgan. "I know I am not going to give myself a disease."

Morgan said one of the organization's biggest thrusts is promoting masturbation itself. The group is working to overcome the societal stigma of masturbation with bumper stickers and billboards that say, 'Give Yourself a Hand if You Masturbate!'

Jenna Caruthers, a receptionist at Turner-Thompson Financial Services in Las Vegas, was one of Hands-On Lovers first members. "I used to be fairly sexually active with people until I started really thinking about the fact that condoms have a 12 to 15 percent failure rate," she said. "If I were offered a free ticket on a cruise to the Bahamas, but told there was a 12 percent chance I would die, you know what? I would just stay home and pleasure myself."

"Sex, for all its pleasures, brings a lot of hidden surprises: diseases and sometimes even children," said Morgan. "And please, don't give us the committed relationship garbage being a key to safe sex. I've been married six times, I know a thing or two about commitment, and it's no guarantee," Morgan said.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Parishes Report Extraordinary Minister Shortage

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Extraordinary Minister Crisis: Will Priests Be Forced to Pick Up Slack?

DAVENPORT, IOWA -- While Catholics across the country pray for an end to the religious vocations crisis, many parishes are now reporting a sharp decline in extraordinary ministers, the lay volunteers who distribute communion to parishoners.

"It has gotten so bad we only have two eucharistic ministers for every one parishoner," said Nelda Roarke, an extraordinary minister at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Davenport, Iowa. "I can remember the days when we had more people up here with the priest than we had people in the pews," Roarke said. "It looks like those days may be gone."

Gina Louvain, an extraordinary minister at Queen of Mercy Catholic Church in Birmingham, Ala., said she thinks people at her parish are just losing their commitment to service. "I guess people are just more interesting in praying in their pews or contemplating Christ or something, whatever that means," she said.

"I've heard at one parish that the priest actually distributes communion by himself now," said Louvain.

In an attempt to counter the shortage, Roarke is hosting a spiritual retreat for current extraordinary ministers, as well as for those who feel God may be calling them to the job. "People need to know about the rich spiritual heritage eucharistic ministers have," Roarke said. "Why, I believe, Saints Peter and Andrew helped Jesus distribute bread and wine to the other disciples at the Last Supper. Well, at least that is what I am telling people anyway."

She has also designed buttons for extraodinary ministers to wear that state: I'm Extraordinary. "I think the Garmond font will really grab people," Roarke said. "The first thing parishoners will notice when they go up to receive communion is this button. It will remind them whose presence they are in."

Benny Fiedler, who serves as an extraordinary minister at St. John the Baptist Church in El Paso, Texas, said he hopes people will heed the call and start volunteering again. "Sometimes Catholics just don't realize what they have," he said. "Back when Catholics used to believe these hosts were actually Jesus' body, nobody but the priest would be allowed to touch them. But now that we have advanced in our wisdom and knowledge, we are now allowed to do almost as much as the priests do."

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Pitt Supports Prolife Movement, Dates Women Who Adopt

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Could Mia Farrow be next?

SANTA BARBARA -- Although tabloids have put a negative spin on Brad Pitt's divorce from Jennifer Aniston, as well as his subsequent relationship with single mom Angelina Jolie, in reality the actor ended his marriage and started dating his Mr. and Mrs. Smith costar to support the prolife cause.

"Brad is a big believer in adoption, particularly the adoption of children in Third-World nations," said his publist, Gina Fisher. "What better way to put this belief in action than to date Angelina Jolie, a woman who has adopted two children from Third World countries. There were no pre-divorce shenanigans. This relationship is just merely an example of Brad Pitt's commitment to making the world a better place."

Pitt, who will begin filming The Assassination of Jesse James in Canada at the end of this month, said he is relieved the truth is finally out. "What I am doing here is the total opposite of selfish," he said. "I am trying to do some good here, but the tabloids keep reporting the same nasty stories. I mean, can we talk about Africa?"

Pitt said he is open to dating other people in addition to Jolie, particularly those who are into important and high-profile social causes. "I'm not a hands-on kind of activist, and I am pretty busy with my film career, so I prefer to live vicariously through other activists," he said. "I did meet with Nelson Mandela once, though, you know, the African icon."

Pitt pointed out that the tabloids completely ignored the lunch date he had at The Ivy with Golden Girls actress and animal rights activist Betty White last Tuesday. "It was a date and we had a lovely time," said Pitt. "I paid and afterward, I couldn't help feeling I had helped save a dog or cat somewhere. But I guess because I am divorced or because I am a few years younger than Betty the story just wasn't sexy enough."

He said he lamented the fact that U2's frontman Bono was not a woman. "He is doing so much for Africa. I really admire him. I think, with him or rather through him, I could feel like I was doing a lot for Africa." Pitt also said the same of the band, Coldplay, who advocate global fair trade practices. "I don't really understand much about fair trade, never had to. But if I were a woman, I'd date all those guys."

Thursday, August 18, 2005 Patron Saints

For some time now, I have wanted to choose a patron saint or two or three for this here blog. There are other saints I am fond of, too, but these people seemed the most appropriate for whatever it is I am trying to accomplish here.

OK, here it goes.

St. Thomas More
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St. Thomas More used humor to get his message across. He wrote the great work, "Utopia," in an effort to critique the society he lived in, and used humor to do it. He would tell Henry VIII exactly what he thought about things, but was so deadpan about it, the King oftentimes couldn't tell if More was joking or not. Well, in the end I guess Henry VIII figured him out, since he had him beheaded. But, More managed to use humor right until the end, telling a joke right before the blade came down.

Dorothy Day
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OK, yeah I know, this person is not a saint, so she will just be one of my patrons. She may never be canonized a saint, but that's OK, too. Although Dorothy Day was not a satirist, she was a writer. She started out as a journalist, and I have seen her described as an agitator, crusader, etc. The thing I like about her and St. Thomas More is that both thought outside the box, and could not be described as cookie-cutter Christians. I don't see either of them as liberals or conservatives. They both tried to authentically follow Christ, and worked their whole lives to make their writings and their deeds "match up." It looks like they both succeeded. One thing I have noticed about both More and Day is that they can and have been easily misunderstood or "adopted" by groups of people who like parts of their messages, but reject other parts. For example, there was a room dedicated to St. Thomas More in the Kremlin because the Communists admired his work, "Utopia." I guess the whole bit about dying a martyr's death wasn't that interesting to them.

Another patron I would add i
s George Orwell. Although I don't care for some of the harsher things he has said about the Catholic Church, "1984" and "Animal Farm" are two of my favorite books of all time. I have this fantasy that he became Catholic on his deathbed. Don't spoil it for me.

Update: reader Al Speegle sent me a satire he wrote about the Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) and the prosperity gospel. His satire features George Orwell and the Belief Police. Find out what it means when the Man tells you to "Give to Get" by reading 1984,First Draft

God bless, Maureen

Monday, August 15, 2005

NYC Ad Agency to Pitch New Image Campaign to Vatican

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Is there an audience for"The Coca-Cola White Smoke Instant Replay"?

NEW YORK CITY -- Redman & Redman, LLC, is hoping their new advertising campaign will have the world looking at the Vatican - and Catholicism - in a whole new way.

"This is actually our first ad campaign," said Steve Redman, who started the agency two weeks ago with his wife, Tammy. "We're real excited, though. We've been staying up until like 9:30 or 10 every night, putting the finishing touches on it."

The Redmans say the fact that they are non-practicing Jehovah's Witnesses enable them to have a unique perspective of the Catholic Church. "We have what we think are some good ideas about where the church needs to go," said Tammy. "However, even though we had our own ideas, we thought it was important to have focus groups, which we hosted in our kitchen last week." Among those participating in the focus groups included Tammy's dad, Steve's parents and sister, Tammy's best friend, Carol, a few neighbors, and the couple's dentist.

None of the focus group attendees were Catholic, but everyone had strong opinions, according to Dr. Bill Cook, who practices dentistry in Manhattan. "I think the focus on sin and right and wrong is kind of a turnoff," he said. "Others didn't like what the Pope wears and thought he needed an image consultant. Others thought the Vatican needed to move around every four years, you know, kind of like the Olympics, so everybody gets a shot at having it."

After doing the research, the Redmans put together a campaign that includes print, radio, TV, direct mail, and a new website. "Part of the campaign includes sponsorship opportunities with major corporations," said Tammy. "We'd love to see a Chase Manhattan World Youth Day or maybe the next time a pope is chosen, we could have "the white smoke instant replay", which could be sponsored by Microsoft or Coca-Cola."

In addition to the focus groups, the Redmans also conducted a phone poll. "We called about 10 or 15 people, and most of them really thought priests should get married," said Steve. "However, I did some googling on the net, and learned that quite a few married Protestant ministers have been accused of adultery and pedophilia, so that idea had to go." So instead, the Redmans are pitching the idea of confession by email and mass via internet live chat. "We are just going to eliminate actual human contact, and nip that problem in the bud," said Steve. The agency is also recommending that the Church cut out the focus on social justice endeavors that don't bring in any revenue. "The soup kitchens, the prolife stuff,tsunami relief - they just aren't moneymakers," said Steve.

Tammy said she plans to FedEx the campaign to the Vatican this week. "We're proud of our work, and we think the Pope will like our ideas. Plus, we live in a global community now, and after 2,000 years, we thought it was time non-Catholics like us got a say."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Woman Obsessed with Daughter's Archie Comic Book Collection

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Jackson now part of that alternative universe known as Riverdale High.

HOUSTON -- In what started as a step to encourage her daughter to read more has morphed into a full-out obsession with Archie, Jughead and the rest of the gang at Riverdale High.

"I literally can't wait until the next issue comes out," said Grethe Jackson, an occupational therapist at East Houston Therepeutic Recreational Center. "The stories are so riveting that I can't quit reading."

Jackson's husband, Ted, said he and his wife initially thought the comics would be a good way to prod their daughter, Brittany, 12, to read more. "The comics were a favorite of mine when I was young," he said. "My wife is from Germany and had never read them before, so I bought a copy for her to read first. She immediately liked the comic book, and that is when things started to spiral out of control."

Last month, Grethe began impersonating 12-year-olds in chat rooms under the nickname "Betty39," so she could talk about the stories and characters with other young people. "The other kids and I are so psyched at how Betty and Archie's relationship is progressing," she said.

Then she began arguing with her preacher over dark and questionable themes he believes he sees in the comics. "The characters are so scantily clad, especially Veronica," said Rev. Ernie Dalton of the First Houston Community Church. "Veronica is really materialistic, too, and all the characters thumb their noses at authority. Characters are constantly falling asleep in class and talking back. And Jughead clearly struggles with sloth and gluttony, but no one says anything to him about it. I can't believe this comic book has flown under the radar for the past 50 years."

Dalton said Jackson started contacting him by email and phone, telling him how edifying the books have been for her.

In a house full of dirty laundry and covered with dust, Grethe has begun writing a book, Finding the Path to Holiness in Archie Comics, her reply to Dalton and other "fundies," as she terms them. She has also started a Christian apologetics blog, based on the comic series. In addition, she started buying old issues of the comic book series off ebay and hording them, "just in case there is ever a book burning."

"My preacher just showing how backward and narrow fundamentalists are. What will the rest of the world say when they see how Christians are reacting to these comics. It's embarrassing," she said.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cantor-Worthy Blog(s)

It's still Friday somewhere on the planet so here is this week's cantor-worthy blog...drum roll....

Sunny Days in Heaven

And here's another fine one: Respublica Etcetera

Yeah, alright! Woo hoo! Way to go! Yeah...OK, I'm tired of this.

UPDATE: OK, I am getting rid of this weekly feature. Due to the heavy demands of my other apostolates, I simply don't have time for it. Plus, after three weeks, I am already tired of it. If you write about the blog, just send me a trackback ping.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Who Started the Catholic Church? According to New Poll, Who Knows?

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Mystery: Who Founded the Catholic Church?

MEMPHIS -- In a new poll, 80 percent of Catholics say they are not sure who founded the Catholic Church.

"I'm not sure myself," said Kiersten Sommer, a college freshman who attends mass at Christ the King Catholic Church in Memphis, Tenn. "I know Billy Graham or one of those guys started the Protestant Church, but I don't know who started our denomination."

"I think it was some monarch," said Sommer's boyfriend, Ted Aubrey. "It may have been an early pope, though."

The confusion doesn't just seem to be among those under 21, according to the poll. Karl Donahoe, a thirty-five-year-old gift shop manager in New Orleans, had to think a few minutes before making his guess, St. Peter. "No? St. Paul? No? Jesus, forgive me, but I give up."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The American Association of Abortion Providers (AAAP) Gears Up for Convention in Miami

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AAAP to Enjoy Weekend of Fun, Fellowship and Professional Development in Miami.

MIAMI -- The American Association of Abortion Providers (AAAP) is getting ready to enjoy some fun, sun, networking,and professional development when the 5th Annual Summer Convention kicks off, Aug. 1, at the Grande Pointe Resort in Miami.

"We started this association so that our members could get the latest industry news and information, and sharpen their professional skills," said Gina Morton, 2005 president of AAAP. "Abortion providers are important to this nation's economy. Many people don't realize it, but abortion providers pump tens of thousands of dollars into the economy every year. This convention itself will inject thousands of dollars in revenue into the local economy."

While in Miami, members will have the opportunity to attend a wide array of professional enrichment courses and seminars, including: "Marketing Abortion in Inner-City Neighborhoods," "Spanish 101: Publicizing Your Clinic to the Immigrant Market," "PR Focus: Pass the Margaritas: Combating Post-Abortive Depression," and "Governmental Affairs: Is Your State Pro-Parent?"

"We want to train our members in the latest public relations techniques and skills," said Don Lerner,AAAP public relations director. "Fortunately for us, the media has not scrutinized our industry in the same way they have others, such as the pet store or manicure boutique industries, for example. However, there may come a day when the media may do investigations of abortion clinic cleanliness, industry ethics, or the suicide rate of women who have had abortions. So, when and if that day comes, our members will be ready to get their message out there."

Lerner said this convention is a must for abortion providers. "We want our people to get their clinics and services into communities. We need to advertise more and be proud of what we do. Look at how the cigarette industry, and convenience stores such as Seven-Eleven got into poorer Urban areas and really set up shop. We need to do that.We need to be right there providing our services."

The association is even selling shirts as part of a new PR initiative. The pink baby doll shirts are studded with the rhinestone message, "I Had One. So *&%$# What?" "We are sending complimentary t-shirts to Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan. It would be so awesome to open up US magazine one day and see a picture of one of these ladies wearing one of our shirts, and walking their dogs. We hope that will happen," said Lerner. "It doesn't even matter if these ladies have even had one. We think the shirt will be so popular, girls will say they did, even if they didn't!"

For her part, Morton said she can't wait for the event. "It will be so great to network with other abortion providers. We are so lucky to be living in a post-Roe v. Wade economy. Let the margaritas flow!"

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thank You Note Friday, a.k.a. Cantor-Worthy Blogs

Since we have a couple of cantor-worthy blogs this week, we will have no advent-wreath making lessons for you. Pity.

The following is actually from *me*, not Maureen. I am going to be traveling this weekend. Please pray for me that I make it there safely and back.

OK, the cantor-worthy blogs are:

RC Mommy
Looks like she is going to have to get an au pair girl at some point because she is getting a lot of attention lately. She won the "Angry Twins'" camping quiz and she was mentioned on Christopher Blosser's blog. Now, the culmination of all her hard work: the coveted advent award.

Thoughts and Ruminations of a Man on a Quest
It's the coming of age story of a young man who is discerning his vocation to the priesthood - the highs, the lows, etc. Will he make it? Will he be voted off the island? Oh wait, this is just a blog, not a reality show.

Philothea Rose at Home She is married to a redhead. That, in and of itself, makes her an extroadinary blogger. Why? Because redheads are really cool and she realized that. She is currently pregnant and let's hope this one's another redhead, because the world could use more redheads.

Intelligam Et Credo Sprechen Sie Deutche? Me either. In fact, I don't think I spell German very well, either. However, if you do, here is a German blog to check out. Even if you don't, Scipio knows English very well (like most Germans)and has a ton of American Catholic blogs on the blogroll.

God bless, Maureen Martin

* Blogs listed in my thank you notes do not necessarily reflect my views or opinions, or the way I would state my views and/or opinions. However, some might.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Henry VIII Poorly Catechized, Says Catholic Author

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Ignorant of his own faith?

BOSTON -- Henry VIII's accomplishments, which include divorce, the dismantling of orphanages, murder, apostasy and setting up his own church, could all be the result of one thing: bad catechesis.

"Henry VIII, like many people in our own time, was simply ignorant of his own faith," said Thomas O'Malley, author of Don't Blame Me, Blame the Church. "After doing seven years of research, I learned a lot about the former monarch. One of the most shocking discoveries was that those who oversaw his religious education sort of blew it off most of the time. After I discovered this, I thought,'Good grief, how could he be expected to know beheading his wife was wrong?'"

And Henry VIII's famous moniker, "Defender of the Faith," is more the result of his effective PR machine, rather than his actually defending the faith and believing in it, according to O'Malley.

"True, he wasn't that nice to St. Thomas More, beheading him and all that," said O'Malley. "But in light of this new evidence, it really makes one pity Henry."

According to O'Malley, Catholics have not received thorough catechesis since the First Century. "In fact, I think if we dig a little further, we'll probably see Judas Iscariot wasn't very well formed either," said O'Malley. "The Church has been letting us down for a long time."

O'Malley said this book is a must-read for any Catholic. "You've heard that no matter how big the sin you've committed, Jesus will forgive? Well, in light of this research, it looks to me that whether you've been married eight times or killed eight people, it doesn't really matter, because no one ever taught you it was wrong. You may just be off the hook."

Striving to be a Higher Being