Friday, May 19, 2006

May 19, 2006--Fanaticism XXXV--A Potpourri

Sometimes on Fridays it's so hard to choose what to blog about--should I write something about Catholics coming back to the fold after all the pedophilia? The "tolerant" Dutch getting all tangled up about their Islamic "citizens’” rights? Killings in Turkey over head scarves? Hassidic heirs fighting over their father's patrimony? Or maybe the latest fad in names for Evangelical babies?

But then on just one day, yesterday, the NY Times had a story about each of the above (all linked below):

I'm pleased to be able to report that the "take" is rising again at Catholic churches throughout the US. What with all the troubles, one easily could have imagined that the flock would drift away and even more important there would be nothing deposited in the collection baskets. However, a new study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate reveals that Catholics are not leaving the Church, have not stopped attending mass, and cash contributions remain at the same level as they were in 2002. One lay Catholic commenting on the study said that “Catholics have compartmentalized their faith.” They continue to believe in their local pastors while having doubts about the bishops.

The last time I recall anyone talking about compartmentalizing was when Bill Clinton used this technique to keep the presidency in one compartment and Monica in another.

And the Dutch are torturing themselves about what to do about the citizenship of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Muslim who is a Member of Parliament. She is best known as the writer of a TV documentary on violence by Muslims against Islamic women—a film made by Theo van Gogh who was murdered by an Islamic extremist. They have Ms. Ali on a technicality—she misrepresented a few aspects of her life on her citizenship application and thus there is a movement to withdraw it and expel her from the Netherlands. One would think the Dutch would want to allow her to amend her application and honor and protect her, but it seems some who live in her neighborhood are worried about their safety and want her gone.

She is by the way planning to come to the US to join the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Let’s hope she filled out her Green Card application correctly.

Then in "secular" Turkey, our version of the model for the rest of the Islamic world, five judges were shot because of their ruling against the wearing of head scarves in schools and other public buildings. A gunman burst into a courtroom and, while screaming that he was “a soldier of God,” wounded four and killed the fifth. The court had recently ruled that a nursery school teacher would not be allowed to wear a head scarf, even when away from school premises. This apparently was on the mind, such as it is, of the shooter.

I'll spare you an update about what is going on between the sons of Moshe Teitelbaum, the recently-deceased chief rabbi of the Hassidic Satmars--their bloody battle to replace him--so that I can end on a much happier note: the latest most-popular name for Evangelical babies.

This story could have been titled, “Lleh Htah On Yruf.” While you’re struggling with that, let me offer some hints that will allow you to figure it out. In 1999 in all of the US only six babies were given the name of Nevaeh (pronounced nah-VAY-uh). A year later there were 86, two years after that, in 2002, there were 1,692 Nevaehs, and just last year 4,457. This represents the fastest climb in name popularity in over a century. In case you are not a Biblical scholar, you need to know that it is not a name found there. But if you were suspecting that you were getting warm--Nevaeh is Heaven spelled backwards! The beginning of the Nevaeh craze is traceable to the appearance six years ago on MTV by the Christian rock star Sonny Sandoval and his daughter . . . Nevaeh. And they have been saying that MTV is the work of the Devil.

One more piece of good news—the Da Vinci Code opened today at a theater near you to uniformly poor reviews. The NY Times critic said it seems to take more time to watch the film than read the book. This means you won’t have to protest its showing by starving yourself to death. At least there’s that.


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