Month: October 2003

Responding to Larry King’s Love-Fest.

Fr. Rob Johansen gave Bob & Mary Schindler the opportunity to respond point-by-point to Michael’s allegations — about her settlement, the rehabilitation (or lack thereof), Terri’s medical condition prior to and after the “accident”, and the manner in which she suffered her collapse, — in a comparatively substantial interview with them on his blog.

As has been mentioned by a number of bloggers, a troubling aspect of this whole affair has been the notable absence of involvement by the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersberg and Bishop Lynch. (Domenico Bettinelli asks, for instance, “why did a priest have to fly from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to provide spiritual care for Terri’s family and supporters?”). This disturbing lack of concern was apparently present among some pro-life organizations as well, a fact made clear by Fr. Bob in his interview:


As to the contention that the Schindlers are being put up to their defense of Terri’s life by “right-wing” pro-life groups, Bob & Mary Schindler dismiss it as ridiculous. “The first offers of assistance we got from national pro-life or conservative groups was about two weeks ago“, Bob said. Furthermore, the assistance offered was in terms of organization and mobilizing grass-roots support, not financial support. “We actually approached a couple of organizations back in 2000 after the first trial”, Bob added, “but they weren’t interested in getting involved at that time.

Indeed, the Schindlers have fought for more than a decade with little more than their own resources and some local help . . . . The Schindlers started the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation to get the word out about Terri’s plight and to raise money to help defray the considerable expenses they have incurred in their efforts to save her.

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The Interview That Wasn’t.

I thought that the Larry King exclusive interview with Michael Schiavo on Oct. 27, 2003 was a travesty, best described by Fr. Johansen as a “love-fest” of sympathetic sound-bytes (suitable for airing the morning after) and an endless stream of accusations. All in all it was a successfully-executed publicity stunt portraying a righteous husband mercifully seeking the death of his wife against heartless and inconsiderate parents who are simply “in it for the money.”

“Michael Schiavo got the usual Larry King softballs,” says Wesley Smith of The Weekly Standard, “Here are the questions King should have asked.”

Persistent Posting

Patrick Madrid asks a pertinent question of various members of St. Blogs (those who he dubs “persistent posters”, that is):


What about prayer time? What about reading? What about human interaction that takes place in real-time, face-to-face, and not via pixels over a high-speed Internet connection? What about just plain doing something, anything, other than sitting parked in front of one’s computer monitor, cranking out an uninterruptible cascade of news items, real and attempted witticisms, and commentary that is sometimes useful, sometimes marginal, and sometimes pure blather?

I guess my point is this: As Catholics, we’re called to be “universal” men and women; well-rounded, complete, balanced, and integrated. I must admit, especially in recognition of my own weaknesses and human frailties, that it concerns me when I see fellow Catholics who seem to have very little life outside of their weblogs. And that, whether they see it or not, is sad.

Which, I confess, is something I’ve often wondered myself.

The question “how much is too much” is one each of us will have to determine for ourselves. I have a pretty engrossing work schedule, and I value the time spent at home, so much of my blog-reading is done during my lunch break, or briefly after dinner — posting reserved chiefly for the weekend (with few exceptions) when I can relax with a cup of coffee on a quiet morning or evening.

However, I’ve also learned to be fairly cautious of the amount of time I spend on the computer. For me, the internet can become increasingly habitual: I can “channel surf” the web just as easily as I can by remote control, and both contribute towards a diminishing attention span. Getting through a book is much more of a challenge, but in my experience I’ve found it much more rewarding.

Thankfully, I am also blessed with loved ones who are quick to point out when I get carried away and need to devote my attention to the more important things in life.

Good post Patrick — and a question worth asking.

Two films & differences of opinion

CruxNews.com publishes Fr. Bryce Sibley’s review of Quentin Tarantino’s new (and gratuitiously violent) samurai film “Kill Bill, Volume I” concluding:

Some complain that the dialogue is lacking and there is no plot. Well, that is true of most films in the kung fu and samurai genre. I thought it was a well directed and edited film with a lot of stylish action and gory but cartoon-like violence. Like most things Tarantino does –- it is just really “cool,” harsh but cool. What’s the message of the film? Not sure. I think I might have to wait until the second volume to answer that one.

David DiCerto reviewed the film as well for the Catholic News Service. Like Fr. Sibley, he acknowledges the film’s technical aspects, but concludes:

Unfortunately, while meticulous planning was put into the choreography of the action sequences, little consideration was given to the moral dimensions of the balletic butchery — which includes assorted blood-squirting limbs and decapitations and a graphically violent animated sequence. The pervasive ugliness of the tedious mayhem cannot be masked by the visual finesse with which it is filmed.

DiCerto and the USCCB object to the film’s “sadistic killing-is-cool mentality that packages gratuitous gore as entertainment”; Fr. Sibley, writing for CruxNews.com, gives it “4 out of 5 stars.”

The juxtaposition of the two reviews was interesting — it was not the reaction I was expecting from CruxNews.com, a website affiliated with The New Oxford Review and as such, certainly not averse to moral criticism. (Perhaps they took the capacity for moral discernment for granted on the part of their readers)?

* * *

As far as movies go, I personally enjoyed — and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend — Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, starring Bill Murray & Scarlett Johansson

Around St. Blog’s . . .

  • Fr. Rob Johansen reports from St. Petersberg, Florida, on his meeting with Msgr. Malanowski and Terri’s parents and offers some reflections on the Church’s understanding of personhood in contrast to the utilitarian “quality of life” assessment of Terri’s husband, his attorney and the ACLU. (Worth reading in full).
  • The first part of Envoy magazine’s critique of The DaVinci Code (by Carl E. Olson & Sandra Miesel) is online. Especially helpful is a list of recommended links at the end of the review.

  • On October 8, Cardinal Ratzinger sent a letter of support to a conference of conservative Episcopalians meeting in
    Dallas to protest the planned consecration of bishop-elect Gene Robinson. Apparently some enthusiastic Anglicans interpreted the Cardinal’s letter with unwarranted optimism as a significant step in ecumenical relations. Writing from the blog of the ecumenical journal Touchstone, David Mills clarifies what Ratzinger said.

  • Amy Welborn blegs for reader recommendations of a good history of Vatican II. I recall making the same request earlier this summer, and getting roughly the same response. Apparently as one reader suggested one’s options are:
    Vatican Council II, by Xavier Rynne. (gossipy, progressivish); The Rhine flows into the Tiber, by Ralph M. Wiltgen. (gossipy, conservativish) . . . [or] Fr. Joseph Komonchak’s five-volume History of Vatican II.”

    I made it through nearly half of Xavier Rynne, but he writes with an agenda and the persistent characterization of everybody as either progressives (good guys) or conservatives (bad guys) grew quite tedious after a while. Perhaps I might tackle Wiltgen next, although I expect a similar depiction of events from the other side of the spectrum.

Terri Schiavo saved!

  • Monday 11:01PMLife Matters reports that:
    The Florida House voted late Monday to give Gov. Jeb Bush the power to intervene in [the case of Terri Schiavo].

    The House voted 68-23 in favor of the bill. . . . The bill would give the state’s governor 15 days to order a feeding tube to be reinserted in cases like Terri Schiavo’s. The governor’s power would be limited to cases where a person has left no living will, is in a persistent vegetative state, has had nutrition and hydration tubes removed and where a family member has challenged the removal.

    Schiavo, 39, meets all the bill’s requirements.

    Bush said in a statement earlier Monday that lawmakers understand the “unique and tragic circumstances of Ms. Schiavo’s case, and I am hopeful the Legislature will pass a bill immediately.”

  • Update Tuesday 4:27pm From Times Against Humanity:

    Your efforts, calls, e-mails, and faxes have made a difference! . . . the Florida State Senate has just passed the Terri Bill, which now goes to Gov. Jeb Bush for his signature. According to the Associated Press, “the House approved the [Senate] bill 73-24 after the Senate passed it 23-15.”
  • Update – Tuesday Evening – Fox News’ Hannity & Combes are covering the case. Gov. Bush signed the executive order for the reinsertion of the feeding tube. Terri is currently being re-hydrated (the first step of the process). According to Fox News:
    After the Senate’s vote, a cheer went up among about 80 protesters outside Schiavo’s hospice in Pinellas Park.

    “We are just ecstatic,” Bob Schindler said after Bush told him he would issue the order. “It’s restored my belief in God.”

    Suzanne Carr, Terri Schiavo’s sister, called the development “a miracle, an absolute miracle.” Terri’s mother broke down crying when she heard the news.

  • To Gov. Bush and Florida Lawmakers, to those who spread the word by phones and over the web, to those who were present at the vigil — thanks to you, Terri is alive today.

Silence from the Left . . .

It is unfortunately noted that the case of Terri Schiavo has been by and large a topic of internet conversation among Catholic and religious bloggers. Raving Atheist can be credited for bringing this matter to the attention of his readers. From the comments box, a possible and jarring explanation for the silence of so many:

“I think (and hope) that most atheists, like most anybody, would oppose Terri Schiavo’s death by starvation for a simple, non-theological reason: it’s murder. More importantly, as RA notes, why does the interest in this stem largely from religious and conservative blogs/websites? Where is the liberal outrage over this? Is RA right that the left’s support of abortion and reflexive opposition to most positions of the Catholic Church puts them in an untenable position regarding a case like Terri Schiavo’s? As a liberal, I find that horrifying…”