Odds and Ends

Even before the Alex Trebek era, I was a big fan of Jeopardy. Back then it was hosted by Art Fleming, who was introduced by the iconic Don Pardo (whose favorite category, like CUF staffer Pete Balbirnie, was “Potent Potables”).

One of my favorite categories as a kid was “Odds and Ends,” because you never knew what sort of question (or should I say, answer) was going to come up. In that spirit, I thought I would offer a few comments under the general heading of “Odds and Ends,” from Halloween to Dennis Kucinich, from Catholic Athletes for Christ to Golden Compass.


I don’t know about you, but I’m a little “halloweened” out. Still, since it is not only a cultural phenomenon but also more fundamentally the eve of All Saints Day, we can’t simply ignore it. On the CUF homepage (www.cuf.org) we have placed our perennially popular “Faith Fact” on Halloween for those who want to know more about the history of this day. 

As for me, I’ve always been a little low-key about Halloween because it’s the birthday of a dear brother of mine who died when I was a teenager. In any event, living in Steubenville for several years, “trick or treating” was never an issue, as we usually had multiple “All Saints Day” events to choose from instead.

Now we live in a good community, but no longer a Catholic enclave, so we’re figuring out anew what to do about Halloween. We’ve decided to participate in the neighborhood festivities, but to do what we can to ”re-baptize” the holiday. For one thing, my kids are all dressing up as religious figures. So far we have a priest, Moses, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, with a couple other saints still in the making. The idea is that the kids need to be ready to explain who they are to others, which isn’t far removed from evangelizing their peers. I will dutifully give out treats (yes, that makes me a sugar daddy, I suppose!), but I will give out second treats to those who can recite from memory a Scripture verse. I’d like to try something else next year, so I’d be interested in hearing things your family has been doing for Halloween.

Catholic Athletes for Christ 

This will be my last post until next Monday, as the next few days I will be attending a meeting hosted by the new organization Catholic Athletes for Christ. I recently joined the board of directors of this fine organization (www.catholicathletesforchrist.com), and I look forward to working to help bring together two passions of mine–faith and sports. I’m sure I’ll report further on this event next week.

Golden Compass

While Bella rightly has been receiving accolades for being an excellent movie with an uplifting, pro-life message, it’s also not to early to encourage people to stay away from the upcoming Nicole Kidman movie Golden Compass. Sometimes when we make too big of a fuss about a movie, more people actually go see it because of the buzz that’s created. Hopefully we can avoid that unintended effect yet still encourage folks simply to stay home.

Here is a website that provides some valuable information on the subject: http://snopes.com/politics/religion/compass.asp

In addition, the Los Angeles Times notes that author Philip Pullman, an avowed atheist, “himself has long denied that his books are anti-Catholic. He was unavailable to comment, the studio said, because of scheduling conflicts. But in a 2004 post still featured on his website Philip-Pullman.com, he wrote that his main quarrel is with the ‘literalist, fundamentalist nature of absolute power’ and ‘those who pervert and misuse religion, or any other kind of doctrine with a holy book and a priesthood and an apparatus of power that wields unchallengeable authority, in order to dominate and suppress human freedoms.’ [Hmmm, I wonder what he's talking about?]

“Still, fans energetically debate Pullman’s intent. Some consider his trilogy a cutting-edge work of Christian theology.

“Pullman’s refutations aside, Catholic theology in the books is depicted as sinister and the villains are often cardinals and priests. The ‘Church,’ or the ‘Magisterium,’ answers to the ‘Vatican Council,’ and kidnaps children, tortures witches and aims to suppress all natural impulses and control the world. In one book, ‘Dust’ is described as the physical manifestation of Original Sin.”

For those of you who don’t like complicated reviews, I’ll keep it very simple: Go see Bella, stay away from Golden Compass. I’m sure Hollywood reviewers will tell you something very different . . .

Dennis Kucinich 

“In case you weren’t already convinced the guy is a nut department”: This morning I turned on Fox News, and there was the veteran Democratic presidential candidate, telling us about his encounter with a UFO. What particularly humored me was that, when asked to explain, he turned the whole thing into an attack of George Bush.

Well, that’s all for “Odds and Ends” today. Unfortunately for Pete, it’s still too early for “Potent Potables.”

One response

  1. I just saw Bella and liked it. I had some students involved in Catholic athletes when I was a junior high school teacher. I liked the group but I always puzzled over the name. Catholic athletes for Christ? Why “for Christ”? A little redundant maybe?? Is that as opposed to other Catholic athletes who haven’t made up their mind yet what they stand for?

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