I've been reflecting on some of the things Rocco Palmo, who runs the incredibly well-read Whispers in the Loggia, said during the bloggers panel at the Catholic Media Conference June 22 in Indianapolis.
Palmo, and later Deacon Greg Kandra of the very popular The Deacon's Bench, talks about some of the potholes of the new media and blogging in the 21st century.
Palmo said that current tensions "are unlike anything I've seen this last eight years. I don't know if it's election year, I don't know if it's politics, I don't know if it's that people are tired and cranky. It could be any one of those things. I've seen people who I've been around for a long time, in a way that I've never seem them, almost primed to explode at the drop of a hat "
Palmo pondered if new media is bringing people together. It's kind of shocking concept: the Catholic blogosphere's most influential voices pondering if the body of Christ is being built up through their work.
Listen to Rocco Palmo talk about the concerns:
Deacon Greg Kandra said he entered the blogosphere because there weren't many deacon blogs and he didn't recognize the Catholic Church on the web. He said there was partisanship, bias and agendas.
"One of the things I to wanted to impart is that it's a big church," he said. "And the body of Christ is huge. As I like to tell people, it's everybody from Mother Angelica to Madonna and everybody in-between. I wanted somehow to reflect that."
Two weeks ago, Deacon Greg suspended comments on his blog, possibly to the end of the summer, maybe forever. He said the comments were personal and sometimes racist.
"It became exhausting dealing with it," Deacon Greg said.
The Internet is know for having warring factions, particularly politically, but Deacon Greg wasn't expecting a Catholic audience to have venom toward one another.
Perhaps most tellingly, he said: "Here it's all Catholics sort of devouring each other. It's a very sobering thing to watch and to puzzle over and wonder how to handle. As much as you want people to debate and discuss, you don't want them to kill each other either."
I want to step out of the way and let you listen to him explain his thought process in two audio files. When you're done, I'm wondering if you'd comment on your own view of the Catholic blogosphere and the commenters inside of it. Are Catholics coming together on the Internet or are we following American political lines and going our separate ways?
Where do you go online to feel the Catholic Church united?
Listen to Deacon Greg Kandra's thoughts on blog comments:
June 25, 2012 04:42
By Matt Palmer
Earlier today I had the honor of attending the Catholic bloggers panel at the 2012 Catholic Media Convention in Indianapolis.
Among those that appeared on the panel: Rocco Palmo (Whispers in the Loggia), Bishop Christopher Coyne, Deacon Greg Kandra (Deacon's Bench), Monsignor Paul Tighe and Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress). Each addressed the issues of Catholic blogging in the 21st century and how they play a role in it.
There are lots of good issues at play, including how they interact with traditional media, what they choose to write about and how they foster community online and in the Catholic Church. In terms of internet religious power players, it doesn't get much bigger or better than this. You can follow my tweets on the Catholic blogger panel and now listen to the panel as well. I'm sorry that it starts just a minute or so into Elizabeth Scalia's talk.
Enjoy the panel, which is nearly an hour in length.
UPDATE: For those of you having trouble with seeing the SoundCloud, here are some individual audio files of the conference's blogger session on my new Audioboo page. I will be updating throughout the morning.
Also, read my blog on some of the bloggers asking if the Internet is bringing Catholics together.
June 22, 2012 03:42
By Matt Palmer
Today was the day Georgina Vaca said goodbye to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. For the last several years she's been the coordinator of Hispanic young adults and youths and worked with archdiocese's overall young adult community.
When I first showed to work for the Catholic Review back in 2008, Georgina immediately welcomed me. When I went out on assignments as youth and young adults beat writer that involved the Hispanic community, she was my go-between. More succinctly, she was my bridge.
That sounds odd, but as a young white guy wearing button-downs, khakis and carrying a notebook when showing up at events with largely Spanish-speaking audiences, it was not always easy. My three-years of Spanish were left back in the 1990s. For some of the Hispanic community, white guys, rightly or wrongly, were kept at arm's length. Some young men were new to the country and they didn't know who to trust and some guys that looked like me didn't always give them a reason to let their guard down.
The face they connected with most was Georgina. She saw no barriers. She only saw possibilities - mainly the opportunity to tell the stories of Catholic Hispanic young people in the U.S. When I would show up to cover something and wanted to talk to someone, Georgina would often go over to people and explain who i was, where I was from and what I wanted to do. They would nod. You could see the reluctance vanish. If she said I was OK, I was.
Almost uniformly, I got the interview. It was Georgina. She was my bridge to them. We connected because she cared. The Hispanic community knew that and always will. So will I.
Georgina is leaving the archdiocese for Catholic Relief Services to be a materials development specialist, where she will put together materials for the U.S. Catholic Church when emergencies happen abroad. The materials include prayer services, petitions and lesson plans.
When I found out she was leaving, Georgina told me the work under her would continue and she let all the young adult councils know that. As always, when she said something was OK, people knew it to be true.
Georgina has an extraordinary heart and it'll put to great use at Catholic Relief Services. I know she'll be close, still, but she will be missed.
June 21, 2012 08:40
By Matt Palmer
In an address to the Catholic Media Convention in Indianapolis, Archbishop Charles Chaput laid out why the Catholic Church and the U.S. Bishops is fighting for religious liberty and locked in a standoff with President Obama's administration over the HHS mandate. In addition, Archbishop Chaput addressed how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is recovering from the sexual abuse crisis.
Listen to his talk, in full, now:
June 20, 2012 10:45
By Matt Palmer
Talk about delusional and inappropriate. On the reality show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," reality star Kim Kardashian compared herself potentially to the Virgin Mary.
"I think if I'm 40 and I don't have kids and I'm not married, I would have a baby artificially inseminated," Kardashian said on her show. "I would feel like Mary, like Jesus was my baby, you know?"
No, I don't know. Flippantly comparing a scientific procedure to the miraculous conception of Jesus is more than a little wrong. Jesus wasn't artificially conceived in a laboratory dish. He came down from heaven, by the power of the Holy Spirit, became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made man.
On top of that. Mary's example of purity is something that used to be the barometer for women. The thing about Kim Kardashian is that she has become sort of parallel universe role model for young people, where celebrity is attained by having sex on camera, getting divorced after 72 days and generally just holding few things sacred.
She recently admitted to Oprah Winfrey that she lost her virginity at 14 and went on birth control around that time.
Kardashian has had a skewed view of love and relationships since she was a teenager. What that means is that adults need to recognize that and communicate with young people, particularly teens, about living with morals.
It's not too late for Kim Kardashian. She can replicate Mary's action in genuine ways, both publicly and privately. The world would be a better place if she did.
June 18, 2012 01:05
By Matt Palmer
As Nik Wallenda walked a small tightrope above Niagara Falls June 15, the ABC microphones picked up the daredevil talking to someone who wasn't visible - Jesus Christ.
"Thank you, Jesus, my righteous king," the heir to the tight rope-walking family said. I thought about how often that's said on national and international television. Usually it's an athlete after he's done something pretty dramatic. This was a guy walking above one of the most impressive- and ominous - visuals on earth and all he could do was talk to Jesus.
It made me think of the footsteps poem so many children read:
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints.
Other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life
When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord, "You promised me, Lord,
That if I followed you, you would walk with me always.
But I noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
There have only been one set of prints in the sand.
Why, When I have needed you most, you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints
Is when I carried you."
Nik Wallenda might have seemed to have been walking by himself, but he realized he was being carried across those falls and into history.
June 16, 2012 01:19
By Matt Palmer
About a year ago, I wrote a story for the Catholic Review about Mark Viviano and his brother, Tony, who was was on a path to becoming a priest. You can read that story here
For those of you who don't know, Mark is the sports director and anchor of WJZ-13, the CBS affiliate in Baltimore. Viviano also does occasional on-air work for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and formerly had a show on 105.7 The Fan. He's a down-to-earth guy committed to his faith in quiet and big ways. Most people don't know that about him.
I checked in with Mark June 11, two days after his brother was ordained a priest for the Jefferson City Diocese to see how everything went.
Matt: What was it like seeing your brother ordained Saturday?
Mark: The ordination was a beautiful ceremony. Among the many sights that struck me was the power of the priestly fraternity. Every priest from the Jefferson City, MO diocese was present (about 40 of them) to welcome the four newly ordained- each laying their hands on the new priests in welcome and encouragement. Funny that I didn't find the ceremony itself too overwhelming as I took Tony's cue that it was his destiny- the culmination of a commitment that's been in the works for years. More of a formality at that point- but no doubt a meaningful and beautiful one.
Matt: Did you ever think, even after all his seminary work and when he became a transitional deacon, that this would actually happen?
Mark: Absolutely and never in doubt. I mentioned it in the previous answer- the ordination was the formal culmination of a commitment that Tony has diligently pursued for years. I never doubted his commitment to the goal. It's been hard for him at times to remain patient as he's been so anxious to be ordained and begin his work as a priest.
Matt: For you, what was the most moving moment?
Mark: The most moving moment for me actually occurred after the ordination ceremony, after everyone had left. Tony (now Father Tony) went next door to St. Joseph's Cathedral (where he was ordained) to the home of the Carmelite nuns. He has been working with the nuns over the years and they requested that after he was ordained that he come to their convent and offer them his first priestly blessings. Tony invited me to come with him before I drove him back home to St. Louis. One by one the nuns knelt before him and he offered his blessing. Seeing him for the first time working as a priest, just hours after his ordination, it struck me fully then that my brother is a Catholic priest. A very, very powerful sight to see.
Matt: Did you get to go to your brother's first Mass celebrated as a priest? How did he do?
Mark: His first Mass was the next day at my Dad's church, the parish of the Ascension in Chesterfield, MO. Father Tony was incredible! As I told him afterward, it was clear that God was speaking through him and Tony delivered impeccably. His homily on the significance of the eucharist was so powerfully delivered. Most emotional was in the wrap-up of the Mass and Tony sharing his thoughts about our late mother who passed away 30 years ago. It was hard to hold back the tears at that time. A wonderful first Mass.
Matt: What kind of priest do you think your brother will be? What can people look forward to with him?
Mark: Father Tony is dedicated to the solemn duty of upholding the Catholic church. He believes fully in the privilege and power of being Catholic, it's tenets and traditions. He is a devoted caretaker of the lineage that extends more than two thousand years and he is proud to follow in the footsteps of the many who have come before him. He is caring, loving and encouraging by nature and will be someone people will feel comfortable turning to for help, advice and blessings. I consider him a true leader who is well suited for the role of priest.
Matt: Is there anything about your brother's life that people can learn from?
Mark: Tony's life offers many lessons for all of us. Foremost is his example of keeping one's heart open to God. Tony fathered his daughter Melanie 23 years ago and though he did not marry Melanie's mother, he stayed close to the mother and child and was integral in raising Melanie, something he prayed about often. He was running a successful business when he felt the calling to become a priest and after much discernment he answered that call. He's lived what many would already describe as a full life, yet he begins a new chapter as he's soon to turn 50 years old, his heart open to our Lord all along.
Matt: Were there many tears in your family this weekend?
Mark: Many tears of joy amongst us all. Tony has often referred our Dad as his guiding light and the weekend was most emotional for our dad, Joseph. At the end of the his first Mass he presented Dad with his first confessional vestment (I believe it's tradition for a newly ordained priest to do so). We all cried, especially Dad! And remembering our late Mom and her guiding influence was also a reason for many emotions. All of them good emotions, all of them shared by so many family members gathered in a celebration unlike any other. One that we'll never forget.
June 11, 2012 09:05
By Matt Palmer
The once-in-a-lifetime chance slipped away for All-American Charley Toomey and Baltimore's Loyola Greyhounds 22 years ago. The senior goalkeeper was part of a 21-9 loss to Syracuse University in the NCAA Division 1 men’s lacrosse championship at Rutgers University.
If he ever returned to the national championship game, it would have to be as a coach. He never dreamed he would become Loyola’s head coach 15 years after he graduated and get the school that national championship opportunity.
“We played in the national championship and I left for Australia two days later,” Toomey recalled of 1990. “I already had my plane ticket. Win or lose, I was going to Australia and I lived there for five months. It was in that time in Australia that I really missed Loyola, the people and, obviously, lacrosse.”
Soon, Toomey returned to Loyola as a volunteer coach for two years before becoming an assistant at the U.S. Naval Academy and then head coach of the Severn School. By 1999, he returned to Loyola as an assistant and seve years later, he took over the program.
“I’m sitting in my bed last night and I was getting through the texts that were sent,” Toomey recalled. “It’s 3:48 (a.m.) on Monday and I had 100 or 150 texts. I just hadn’t been able to get to them.”
He tried to answer each one. Most of the time, his reply was the same, but the sentiment never waned.
“A special day for a special program,” his texts read.
“It really hasn’t sunken in,” he said June 5 in a conference room inside the Rev. Father Harold Ridley, S.J., Intercollegiate Athletic Complex in Baltimore.
Jesuit Father Brian Linnane, Loyola’s president, and many other administrators past and present have spent countless hours and money supporting the athletic program over the years.
“I think everybody associated with this program is in a dream,” Toomey said. “I just happened to have my name at the head of it. There are so many people that make this thing up, that have their fingerprints on what just happened. It’s not Charley Toomey. It’s not even close.”
The financial investments – including the $62 million, 6,000-seat Ridley complex that opened two years ago - are paying dividends.
“Loyola just kept pushing through,” Toomey said. “I know half of this is bonded and we’re up to our ears in debt. Hopefully, we just took a little pressure off that because I think the fundraising might be kick started.”
Loyola is the first Catholic school to win the men’s lacrosse title and the smallest school as well. Toomey has been on ESPN, the Internet and social media in the wake of the national title.
“For our lacrosse program to put Loyola in the national spotlight and to show a lot of people what we already know, what we live every day, to me is probably the most gratifying thing in all of this,” he said. “There are so many people that are reading about Loyola for the first time – a school of 4,000 and asking what’s it’s all about.”
Loyola’s run to the championship – powered in no small part by Eric Lusby’s record 17 goals during the NCAA tournament – was improbable. The Greyhounds began the season unranked, but were became the nation’s No. 1 by the end of April. Loyola’s only loss came to Johns Hopkins April 28.
By the middle of May, people in Baltimore began to think something special was happening with the Greyhounds. Pat Moriarty, who is the father of Loyola senior Kevin Moriarty and the vice president of football administration for the Baltimore Ravens, arranged for linebacker Ray Lewis to give the team a pep talk May 16 during a film review session.
“I opened that door and he was pacing.” Toomey said of Lewis. “It was game day to him. He walked in and their jaws hit the floor. It was right on point. It was what we needed. It was about preparation and taking care of a teammate. He said at the end, ‘I’m going to get a text says the Greyhounds are national champions. I can’t wait for that.’ ”
Lewis, of course, was right.
Toomey thinks back to that national championship game in 1990. Everything might have seemed crushing at the time. If he only knew then what he knows now.
“A lot of people have asked me ‘What’s more special – would it have been winning it as a player or as a coach?’ Hands down, as a coach,” Toomey said. “It’s special. I can’t even begin to put it into words.”
Since the Greyhounds played on Memorial Day weekend, that meant Toomey and his staff weren’t recruiting for weeks while others team were on the trail.
“As my (athletic director) says, those are high-class problems,” Toomey jokes.
Just days after the title win, Toomey was traveling up and down the East coast to find the next player who will fall in love with Loyola, just as he did 25 years ago.
“I can go out and say you’re coming to a place that is committed to winning a national championship and, oh, by the way, we’ve done that,” Toomey said.
Matt’s sideline note: During my conversation with Toomey, remembered an article written about him in the Catholic Review in 1984. He was a sophomore at Archbishop Spalding (Toomey later transferred to Boys’ Latin) and his team had beaten Cardinal Gibbons.
“I still have it cut out in a scrapbook in my basement,” Toomey said.
In the article, which actually misspelled Toomey's first name, his coach says: "I think Charlie Toomey has the chance to be a major college player. He has a very bright future."
He hit the nail on the head, didn't he?
Here is that article, 28 years later:
June 07, 2012 04:18
By Matt Palmer
In the new film "Snow White and the Huntsman," we are introduced to the teenage version of the classic heroine locked inside a prison praying "The Lord's Prayer." Most Christians will recognize the prayer. At one point, it was estimated that more than two billion people recited "The Lord's Prayer," known as "The Our Father" in many faiths.
So, the first question that popped up in my mind watching the movie, which came out June 1, was: what in the heck is "The Lord's Prayer" doing in this "Snow White" movie? During a wedding scene, it appears as if there are a series of bishops ready to witness a sacrament.
The Grimm Brothers' fairy tale is German. Every character, for no reason other than it makes the movie seem more regal, speaks with a British accent. Nothing really resembles Europe, though. In fact, several of the scenes seem like the characters stumbled into The Lord of the Rings' Middle Earth.
The kingdom we see is a magical one, not an earth-bound one, filled with Snow White hallmarks, such as the magic mirror, poison apples and spells. There is no other mention of Jesus, although Snow White (played by Kristen Stewart) has many Christ-like traits. She is "the one" who will end darkness, cures people of their illnesses and weaknesses and is willing to sacrifice herself to end the evil queen's (Ravenna, played by Oscar-winner Charlize Theron) rule.
A white stag, standing in for God, even blesses Snow White after she is called to him by angel-like fairies. Her purity makes her stand out amongst all others.
What I find so interesting in this mythological, fairy tale is that the screenwriters felt it necessary to bring religion into the fray. In this magical world, Jesus is real to Snow White. It's remarkable that "Snow White and the Huntsman," with its reported $170 million budget and summer blockbuster status, took 10 seconds to say that Snow White's Christian faith sustained her as she spent years locked away in a tower and that purity can give you strength to overcome anything.
"Snow White and the Huntsman" is almost the ultimate feminist tale, although some women are already saying otherwise. At the end of the movie, it's clear that Prince Charming won't choose her. She'll choose him. She finds that by sticking to her values and inspiring others, she can change a kingdom. All of that strength was God-given and Snow White knows it.
Read more on my takes on pop culture and religion:
One Thumb Up: Archbishop Lori praises For Greater Glory
Is Batman acting like Jesus?
Christians should be like the Avengers
The pope and The Lorax
Bully movie is a must watch
Bully movie can make a difference
The Hunger Games is real
October Baby is about an abortion survivor
Hunger Games violence controversy
June 02, 2012 10:45
By Matt Palmer