Saturday, March 21, 2009

Movie Review: Knowing

Went to see the new Nicholas Cage movie, Knowing, last night -- on opening day.
That last fact is significant, because I am decidedly NOT the typical movie-goer. In fact, I'm infamous for my lack of interest in movies of the day. It is not at all unusual for me to have not seen a popular movie -- I've not seen the latest Batman movie, or any of the X-men series for instance. (In fact, nothing strikes me as more infantile than going to see a comic-book movie, but I digress.) Suffice to say, I don't care to see most movies.
But, I've been waiting with bated breath for weeks now to see Knowing. Why?
I caught the trailer a couple of weeks ago on iTunes, and immediately became hooked on the premise: a time-capsule is opened from 50 years ago, and an elementary schoolgirl's 1958 contribution to the time-capsule is unearthed which foretells disasters past, present and future. It falls to the main character of the movie, an M.I.T. professor played by Cage, to decipher the doomsday message.
Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, the movie's opening day, when I pulled up the Rotten Tomatoes site to see how the flick was faring among those who'd seen it. I was chagrined to see that it had a 24% rotten-tomato rating. In a word, most who saw it hated it. "Crackpot", "bizarre", etc. were the adjectives used to describe the movie. It was compared unfavorably to M. Night Shyamalan's work. But notably -- for me, anyway -- a common complaint was that it was "religious". The reviews were almost enough to dissuade me from seeing the film. Again -- I'm not a film buff; can't stand to sit through most of them. (Invariably fall asleep whenever my kids put a Lord of the Rings DVD into the player at home.)
But, the critics used that word "religious", which for me was like my parent's telling me I wouldn't like something in a lame attempt at reverse psychology. Religious? Nicholas Cage? Really? So I took the plunge, plugged in my credit card and bought two tickets (later three, because I had to buy one for my 14 year old who wanted to see it too.)
So how was it? Unbelievably good. And remember -- this is a non-movie fan talking here -- I'd much prefer browsing the internet to seeing the usual latest Hollywood blockbuster. Full of suspense, it kept me on the edge the whole way through. Excellent -- best movie (faint praise, I suppose) I've seen in years.
But not for everyone, it seems.
I saw more than one person who got up and walked out before it was done. (One group of teenaged kids yelled loudly as they exited, "This movie sucks!") Why? I asked my wife the same question later. She thought it was the subject matter. I think she's onto something. The movie's not necessarily a rosy scenario, for sure. And it did involve massive death and destruction. (I know? So, what's not to like? Go figure.)
I think that some of the reaction has to do with the fact that most people just do not want to contemplate what the Church calls the Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell -- a rather different "Final Four", if you will. "Give me fluff, give me sexual intrigue, give me madcap comedy -- just don't make me face reality", society seems to say.
Sigh. Oh well, yet another example of my not fitting in with the times. But you? If you'd enjoy a stem-winding doomsday thriller, I'd highly recommend it. Good stuff.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dedication of new chapel at Thomas Aquinas College

Oh my goodness! This is incomparably beautiful. (Post from The New Liturgical Movement blog, with pictures by Austin Welsh, a friend of mine.) Enjoy!

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Glorious Weekend on a Few Fronts at Thomas Aquinas College

by Shawn Tribe

We have been treated to some particularly fine examples of new church architecture in the past couple of years and this past weekend was no exception as the glorious new chapel of Thomas Aquinas College, Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, was consecrated. It is a glorious structure indeed and, I am particularly pleased to report, includes a number of stunning architectural features, including a ciborium magnum. Austin Welsh sent in these photographs of the church:

(Finishing touches were still being put in place when this photo was taken) (The papal arms of Benedict XVI) (The beautiful ciborium) (The sacristy)
Do make certain to go and look at more on his Flickr Photoset which includes a number of other details and angles. The next day, as the Faithful Rebel reports:
The first Mass offered upon the newly consecrated altar after Saturday's dedication Mass was a solemn High Mass offered ... by Father John Berg, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. The Deacon for the Mass was Father Robert Fromageot and the Subdeacon was Father Matthew McNeely, both Fraternity priests.
His Excellency, Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego, was in choir.
(Photos courtesy of Tommy Duffy and The Faithful Rebel) This was not all however:
Perhaps just as remarkable was the later Mass offered on Sunday in the Ordinary Form. Bishop Cordileone was the celebrant of this Mass. Remarkably, he offered the Mass facing the altar, in Latin, with the traditional candlestick arrangement remaining from the earlier Solemn High Mass.
Sadly, no photos of this Mass have been forthcoming yet. If any reader has any, please send them in. In concluding, I must share this final wonderful picture from The Faithful Rebel:

Monday, March 09, 2009

Mass365: Another One Bites the Dust!

Aw snap! For a second time this year, my schedule and the stars conspired against me. No Mass today.
I really didn't think it would be this hard to attend Daily Mass. The trouble today was it was Monday -- the traditional day that Catholic priests take off, and as a result, fewer masses are offered on Monday than any other day, by far.
The day started off with a slow start, and by noon I had decided to take a tour of the Parent and Child Center of Tulsa -- a favorite charity of one of our partners, who had invited my wife Tracy to take part. (That was excellent, by the way. You really should support this charity, they do education on parenting to help prevent child abuse. A fine, fine organization.)
So anyway, I thought to myself -- "No problem - I'll just hit the 5:05 pm daily Mass at the cathedral." Indeed, at 5 o'clock I gathered up my Macbook and rushed out to get over there, only to find that the doors were locked. "No problem" suddenly became "big problem" as I realized my mistake -- there IS no 5:05 p.m. daily Mass on Mondays.
Even worse was that the only Mass left (the 6:30 p.m. at St. Joseph's Vietnamese Catholic Church in far East Tulsa) directly conflicted with a previous commitment I'd made to Tracy to attend a "Let's Talk" program at St. Bernard's of Clairvaux (in far south Tulsa).
Sigh, and ai-yi-yi.
Betcha East coast Catholics don't have this difficulty.

Friday, March 06, 2009

It's here: My new Macbook!

Oh lovely! Oh marvelous! Your screen is like a limpid pool of video goodness! Ms. Apple Macbook, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Wow. Just wow.
Got the Macbook yesterday afternoon and have now used it for a little less than 24 hours. In that time, I've learned to love the new multi-touch Trackpad, used the Photo Booth app to make pictures and video with Cam and Maddie, used iMovie to record and edit my first professional video (still in progress) to place as a Welcome on my professional blog (, if anyone's checking), and played with the "Cover Flow" method of reviewing my docs.
It is an amazing piece of technology and design. Even the packaging is so unbelievably well thought out, that you stand in awe of Apple and their accomplishments. This is the result of unflinching, unstoppable, unquenchable focus on excellence. I recently put forth a Steve Jobs (co-founder and chairman of Apple Computer) quote to the effect that he simply cannot understand why anyone would want to do anything that was not "insanely great."
Yes, indeed. It shows.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Mass365: Monday, March 2, 2009 - Marian Chapel, Church of Saint Mary

So Monday morning, eager to get back on the daily Mass "horse" (if I may be slightly profane), I arranged to get up a little earlier than usual. The reason? 6:30 a.m. Mass at the Church of Saint Mary's Marian Chapel. Normally on Mondays and any other day during the week, I attend the noon Mass at Holy Family Cathedral. However, on Monday, I had a conflicting appointment. And since Mondays are typically the day of the week that priests "stand down" from their shepherding duties, there are far fewer masses offered on Monday than any other day of the week. (Indeed, previous Mondays have resulted in my attending Mass in Vietnamese at St. Joseph's Vietnamese Catholic Church -- Monday's "last chance saloon" for daily mass goers.) And so on this particular Monday, I added a new place to my roster of places where I've celebrated Mass: the Marian Chapel at Saint Mary's in Brookside. Actually, I may have been here before. The only time I remember attending a Catholic Mass as a child was with my closest childhood friend, Chris Egan, who lived catty-corner of us in Brookside and whose family were the only Catholics I'd ever encountered. I don't remember much about that event, but I do clearly remember that it was at the Church of Saint Mary -- the parish in which we lived, and in fact I still live -- though we attend the Latin Mass parish of St. Peter today. The Marian Chapel was a pleasant surprise. This was because I was expecting Mass in the main church -- a "church in the round" (read: monstrosity of heretical architectural mania) -- which was newly built about 10 to 15 years ago at Saint Mary's. To tell the truth, I hate the place. Modern. Ugly. Devoid of any focus whatsoever. (See photo above, which although ugly enough, doesn't begin to show just how ugly a place it is. Ahem.) So when I drove up and followed the small crowd of people in the pre-dawn darkness of Monday morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were heading NOT into the large new sanctuary where Mass is normally held, but instead into the cozy and old chapel at the South end of the church. Mass there was with a friendly and familiar bunch of people -- people who obviously attend that mass on a very regular basis. (I did note that no one present was devoid of grey hair, also.) Mass was celebrated by Fr. Swift, an elderly priest who nonetheless gave a very cogent homily about Matthew 25 (the Gospel reading from Monday) and how rare it was that he had heard confessions of sins of omission over his long career as a priest and confessor. Apparently people focus a bit too much on the sins they actually commit, versus the sins that they commit by not acting, "Lord, when did I see you hungry and not feed you?") I want to note one rather odd practice that I've never seen anywhere else: when it came time for communion, instead of having both sides of the chapel file up to the center of the ambo to receive our Lord's Body and Blood in the Eucharist, first only the right or "Epistle"* side of the congregation filed up to receive, while the left, or "Gospel"* side, remained seated. Only after all of the epistle side of the church had received did anyone on the Gospel side rise to begin filing up to the altar. Weird. It was a very moving and warm experience, and I look forward to joining these early risers at the 6:30 a.m. Mass at Saint Mary's again sometime soon. FBC *The Epistle and Gospel "sides" of the church refer to the practice under the Tridentine Rite (the old pre-Vatican II Latin Mass) of the priest reading the Epistle from the right, then moving to the left side of the altar to read the Gospel reading from that side. This terminology is probably all but lost, except to that small band of die-hard liturgical types who attend the Latin Mass.) **Roster of Mass sites, thus far for Mass365:
  • Marian Chapel Church of Saint Mary, Tulsa OK
  • Sacred Heart Church, Miami OK
  • St. Philip Neri Newman Center, The University of Tulsa campus
  • Holy Family Cathedral, Tulsa OK
  • Parish of St. Peter (at St. Augustine Catholic Church), Tulsa OK (Tridentine or Latin Extraordinary Rite)
  • St. Athanasius / Chapel of the Theotokos (at St. Augustine Catholic Church), Tulsa OK (Byzantine Rite of the Eastern Catholic Church)
  • St. Joseph Vietnamese Catholic Church, Tulsa OK
  • Church of the Madelene, Tulsa OK
  • National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC
  • Basilica Cathedral of St. Louis, St. Louis MO
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine Chapel, atop Mt. Saint Mary, Emmittsburg MD
  • Verizon Center Youth Mass, Washington DC
  • St. Andrews Catholic Church, Richmond IN
  • St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, Tulsa OK
  • Chapel of Peace, Holy Family Cathedral, Tulsa OK
  • Roman Catholic Church of the Resurrectioin, Tulsa OK

Don't Dare Dance in Pinal County, AZ

Saw this great story at Reason online (, about harassment faced by some people who want to ... dance ... in Arizona(?). Yep. Can't have that, of course. If we did, who knows what might happen next? Freedom?