the daily musings ... of faith and culture, of life and love, of fun and games, of a song and dance man, who is keeping his day job.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
“Say you want a resolution, well, you know ...”
Earlier today, some 1400 delegates to the annual National Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America voted to remove sexual orientation and/or preference as an impediment to youth membership, while retaining it for adult membership. (All in good time ...) The resolution passed by a vote of 63.7 to 31.3 percent.
Following the almost certain approval of the National Council, the policy will take effect on the first of January, 2014.
There will be more upon which to comment in the days to come. But for now ...
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The story is told of a little boy, who on his fourteenth birthday gets a horse. And everybody in the village says, "How wonderful, the boy got a horse."
And the Zen master says, "We'll see."
Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, "How terrible."
And the Zen master says, "We'll see."
Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight, except the boy can't because his leg did not heal correctly, and everybody in the village says, "How wonderful."
For more than thirty years, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have deemed it necessary to state for the record, that those who openly declare themselves to be homosexual -- that is, inclined toward same-sex attraction -- are ineligible for membership. They have cited the basis for this as fidelity to the ideals enshrined in the Scout Oath ...
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country,
and to obey the Scout Law,
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
... and the Scout Law.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
In 1990, a Rutgers University student and Eagle Scout by the name of James Dale was relieved of his position as an Assistant Scoutmaster, and expelled from the membership, after an interview with him was published in which he admitted to being openly gay. His legal action against the BSA eventually found its way to the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale, which found in favor of the BSA.
In 2010, a study was commenced by the BSA to determine the feasibility of admitting members who were openly homosexual. After two years, the study was completed, and then-Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca announced that “The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address the issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisors and at the appropriate time and in the right setting.”
And yet, in the face of numerous corporations pulling funding from the BSA due to "non-discrimination policies" in philanthropic giving, and press conferences by celebrities like Madonna, the national leadership attempted to revise their membership policy early this year with a minimum of fanfare, and leave the decision to individual units. But word of their plans was leaked to the outside, which provoked a storm of protest by the general membership. The BSA then pulled back on their plans, agreeing to a three-and-a-half-month long "family discussion" in several phases. Last month, in the wake of an executive summary report on this discussion, and a more detailed report made public (as opposed to the two-year study, which was not), the BSA announced the resolution that would be brought before the 1400 voting delegates at their annual National Meeting which began today.
Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.
Note that the resolution applies only to youth membership, and that the ban against "avowed homosexuals" in the adult membership would be maintained.
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How did things get this far? How did the largest youth organization in America, the second largest scouting association in the world, reach the point of questioning the very ideals for which it was established, and which has woven itself into the very fabric of American life? How did a policy which was supported by the overwhelming majority of the general membership come under such scrutiny by its own leadership within less than one year? How does this resolution even be considered, when even the most recent reports show that a majority of the current membership still favors the current policy?
Many have commented on this subject, including the various pundits in the Catholic blogosphere. Especially where it concerns the latter, very few if any have a long association with Scouting, much less have any expertise on the movement. On the other hand ...
I was in Cub Scouting for two years, and in Boy Scouting for seven years, before "aging out" at eighteen years. In August of 1969, I was inducted into the national honor society of the BSA, the prestigious Order of the Arrow. In December of 1971, under the authority granted them by the National Council, BSA, I passed the Board of Review convened by the Dan Beard Council, BSA, and was designated an Eagle Scout, an honor achieved by only four percent of those who ever join the program. In July of 2004, after more than thirty years, I once again put on the Scout uniform, and joined the Commissioner Service. I currently maintain a correspondence with Scout leaders all over the world. In 2010, I was one of a group of veteran Scout leaders in the United States, approached independently by leaders of the Uganda Scout Association, to advise and assist in reorganization after years of political unrest. That same year, I led a collection drive of used BSA training material to facilitate the re-establishment of Scouting in the Jalalabad province of Afghanistan.
I am presently an Assistant District Commissioner with the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America.
In addition to the aforementioned bonafides, I have over the last two months, with my research assistant working nearly full time, conducted a thorough study in subject areas related to the issue at hand, including the history of gay activism, pedophilia and other adverse behaviors, as well as medical risks, all as they relate to same-sex attraction, legal issues pertaining to both the current BSA policy and various proposed alternatives, as well as the moral issues among the various religious confessions who have played a part in Scouting. I have spoken to and corresponded with more than a dozen Scout leaders with access to the leadership of the BSA, all on the condition of anonymity, concerning what has transpired in the minds of the powers that be. I have engaged in lengthy and often impassioned debates with other veterans of Scouting. I have had brief audiences with regional Scout officials, often called upon with little notice, to state my case. (When that happens, you'd better know what you're talking about.) In March of this year, I submitted a one-page summary report on “Critical Issues Pertaining to Review of BSA Membership Policy” to the Executive Staff of the National Capital Area Council, which was forwarded to their Chief Executive as well as the President of the Executive Board. Finally, I have spoken to several Catholic priests on the issue, including one specialist in ministering to those struggling with same-sex attraction, and those who work with Scout units.
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"Norm" was at the Boy Scouts of America's national headquarters in Irving, Texas (between Dallas and Fort Worth) this past February, when this issue was being discussed.
I was personally present in the meeting where Wayne Perry, the National President who is a lifelong member of the LDS [Mormon] Church and a lifelong Scouter and the founder of a billion dollar company, was in tears about having to go to Salt Lake City and discuss with his Prophet why he believes that a change in the membership standards (gay policy) is essential to the health of the organization to protect, among other things, the right of the BSA to maintain the Duty to God standard. NEVER ONCE DID HE MENTION MONEY. He, and Tico Perez, the National Commissioner, and Wayne Brock, the Chief Scout Executive, did mention the personal values and beliefs of todays youth and today's parents and the persons that we serve. There also was mention of the personal heartache caused by communication from parents and Scout leaders of older youth who realize they are gay. Wayne Brock too appeared close to tears when he discussed a phone call from a Scout leader who said that one of his older Scouts had been a member of the group of boys since they were 8. The boys all love each other in the best, Scoutlike, familylike sense. That boy is now 16 and has realized he is gay and so informed the Scoutmaster. The Scout leader asks "Am I supposed to tear this group of youth apart by expelling this one boy? His friends know about and don't care about his sexual orientation. What will it say to each of these older boys if we expel their highly respected friend. Should we not expect to lose all of them to Scouting and to the Scout Oath and Scout Law?"
I heard a 78 year veteran Scouter who has received every honor the BSA has, in a public meeting, discuss the heartache caused when his Eagle Scout youngest son came to him and said he was gay. The heartache was not over the son's sexual orientation. Rather, when he asked his son "when did you know?" the son said, "I realized my feelings about this were different when I was about 10." Then when he asked his son "Why did you take so long to tell me?" and the son said "I know how important the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts are to you and I didn't want to cause trouble for you." There were a lot of us close to tears there. NEVER ONCE WAS MONEY MENTIONED.
I'm not saying money is not a factor; just that it appeared there are many, many other factors just as compelling if not more so ...
They cannot kid themselves, never mind the general membership. Money is a HUGE factor in this decision. The BSA was recently bequeathed an extensive property in the mountains of southern West Virginia. Even now, work continues apace to prepare the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve for this year's National Jamboree, as it will become not only the permanent site for the National Jamboree, but also that of the 2019 World Jamboree. In the interim, it will be the newest High Adventure Base of the BSA. Historically, such events are held on broad, flat land, facilitating travel from one point to another, and the throngs of family and friends who come to visit. This represents a complete rethinking of the very concept of a Jamboree, on a site that is a challenge just to access. To prepare the site, millions of dollars must be spent on infrastructure -- roads, administrative, service, and staff buildings, water, electrical power, wireless communication, health and safety, and so on -- in one of the poorest areas east of the Mississippi. With philanthropic and public sentiment mounting against "exclusionary" policies, the Boy Scouts are under tremendous pressure to maintain any viable program at all on a national scale.
And those who would change the face of Scouting to suit their own agenda know this.
"Brian" provided the following from an attorney by the name of Kelly Shackelford, who specializes in issues of religious freedom.
Making the proposed policy change would have profound implications regarding religious liberty and First Amendment rights. Your organization won at the Supreme Court regarding your current policy by a single vote. But the Supreme Court's majority opinion rested in part on the premise that BSA, as an organization, has a right to define its own mission and its views regarding morality and the values BSA seeks to instill in boys and young men. Delegating that decision to local subsidiaries necessarily means that BSA no longer has a national, organization-wide position on the morality of homosexuality. As such, those local affiliates would be beyond the limits of the Supreme Court's holding in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, and each would be subject to new lawsuits under antidiscrimination laws and policies in whatever city and state each troop and pack is situated in.
While it is possible many of those local units would prevail in their lawsuits, many others might not, and the costs of litigation in either event would be nothing short of crippling for BSA. The legal safe harbor you currently enjoy could only be restored by a second victory at the Supreme Court, if this matter reaches the justices a second time and if the Court again sides with you, during which process you will again incur very significant legal costs.
As "Bill" reports, the threat of long, sustained litigation is very much a factor in the decision, but there is more than one few weighing in, adding to the complexity of the issue.
Based upon multiple conversations I have had, face to face all over the country, on the telephone through this and other forums like it and via various back-channels that I have access to, it is clear to me that our national leadership strongly believes that if we do not change to a more inclusive policy, we will swiftly become embroiled in a battle in the courts on multiple fronts ... constitutionality of exclusion ... tax exempt allowance ... public property use ... and that we will lose in every case. My read of the courts is consistent with that view. We will lose. And we will waste a lot of our treasure and standing in the country defending ourselves. And we will be broadly perceived in a negative way across a wide spectrum of society. And our eagles will no longer confidently and proudly put “eagle scout” on their resume’s for fear that the politics of a particular potential decision maker will be anti-scouting. (this is actually already beginning to happen) Yet, we will have some troops and councils able to survive this and thrive once again in time, perhaps 20 years or so. But they will have gay members. Openly. If not, they will be a church group, but not allowed to claim to be “Boy Scouts of America”. And we will have been incredibly limited in the number of youth we can impact. But our lawyers will make a bunch of money via a transfer of BSA’s wealth to them.
Of course, without the protection now afforded by the BSA through the Supreme Court's 2000 decision, it is small wonder that they would be vulnerable. This makes the above (which really does reflect the opinion of many Scout leaders, and some legal experts who guide them) all the more perplexing. The highest court in the land has ruled in their favor, and they're prepared to give that up, roll the dice, and see what happens, all to placate the popular culture.
That said, we must face the realization that the "gay lifestyle" is slowly becoming acceptable as "mainstream" in American society, and the primary demographic to which recruiters of Scouting must appeal, is parents between the ages of 30 and 40. And in the extensive membership survey conducted this year, younger members, and even the boys themselves, are more sympathetic to the idea of gays being in Scouting. At this level of the conversation, it is not about the reality of what the Church refers to as an "objective disorder," the acting upon of which is strongly held to be an "objective moral evil." It all comes down to that kid down the street who is wired a bit differently than most others, but isn't such a bad guy after all.
But this isn't about that one guy. And it isn't about any one guy. It is about whether a particular conduct is consistent with the ideals of Scouting or not. But what if it is only about "orientation" or "preference"? It is not as if it will be acted upon ... right?
Notice that the list includes “transgenderism” which one Scout executive told me was "not on our radar." Will they be recalibrating their radar anytime soon? Consider the following scenario, which has been the topic of discussion at an official BSA weblog known as "Bryan on Scouting."
A transgendered [male] scout leader at summer camp insists on being allowed to shower during time reserved for female adult leaders (and yes, there are camps that still have old-style, open shower houses).
... and the response of one renowned veteran Scouter, with experience at both local, regional, and national levels. You'd better be sitting down.
Depending on the camp, we allow her [sic] to do so. If she [sic] self-identifies to both camp staff and her [sic] unit as female, we let her [sic] shower with other females. This is only a big deal to people who cannot keep their heads out of the gutter. We do the same thing when we allow young children to go to the bathroom with their female or male adults. This isn’t sexuality — this is getting a shower and being clean.
Not complicated in the least. This is a LOCAL ISSUE. The other females know her [sic] as a “her” [sic]; and those who do not know her [sic] as a “her” [sic] would be counseled when the unit showed up for camp. Non-issue here. Just like if an adult showed up and required a shower every 12 hours for health reasons. Just like if an adult showed up and required the shower stall area be emptied because he (or she) has burn grafts which would be awful to “look at” in a more “opened” shower.
We use COMMON SCOUTER SENSE here ...
Oh, is THAT what they're calling it, as opposed to a subtle form of brainwashing? Whenever these subjects come up at Scout meetings lately, it feels like a bad remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and the Pod People are starting to take over. (Just when you think you know a guy, never mind every other guy in the room ...)
You also have to wonder whether any of this was taken into account by leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), when they announced their acceptance of the proposed resolution. Here is where we should take "the Mormon factor" into account. Early in the BSA's history, the Mormons in the United States decided to adopt Scouting as a component of their training of young men. Every Mormon boy between the ages of eleven and fifteen is a registered Boy Scout, and it remains an integral part of their formation in "the Aaronic priesthood." It is also why Mormon congregations are responsible for just over 16 percent of the total youth membership (although some put the number as high as 20 percent). Mormons dominate life in Scouting. In areas where there are a lot of Mormons, there are times when it seems as though there are two "tracks" in the Scouting programs -- Mormons, and the rest of us. But to be fair, they are largely congenial to a fault, and manage to contribute an overall sense of civility to the proceedings.
Even so, units sponsored by religious congregations account for SEVENTY PERCENT of the youth membership. And when you read a finding like this in the summary report ...
... you have yet one more reason to wonder how it got this far.
The truly sad thing is, that boys who struggle with issues of gender identity will be the biggest losers if the resolution passes. There will be no presumption of the need for guidance if the product of any amount of confusion in adolescent development is immediately dismissed as "normal," despite the bulk of civilized history speaking to the contrary. A seventeen-year-old candidate for Eagle Scout who believes he is gay can be handled one way, while the eleven-year-old girl who "self-identifies" as a boy and wants to join a Boy Scout troop can be handled another way. The point is, there is presently the potential for options. If the resolution passes, there is only one.
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But what has happened of late has been the most troubling. It wasn't enough to attempt to slide a policy change through the back door and get caught. The National President of the BSA has just made his own feelings known in an editorial in USA Today.
Oh? With a change in the policy for youth membership, how in the name of heaven can a change for adult membership be that far behind? Do they honestly believe they are not simply voting, not just on a resolution, but to continue voting on resolutions? Are they in fact hoping that the subsequent and invariable litigation will fit into the plans they had made all along? Is the general membership really that gullible?
Mr Brock is entitled to his own opinion, but the general membership of the Boy Scouts of America have been entitled to a fair and balanced discussion, and with this tome, and those of others among the Powers That Be -- Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and a member of the Executive Board, has expressed similar sentiments in a recent issue of Business Week -- that prospect of a level playing field is brought into question, especially in light of how they have conducted themselves up to now. Was this really an open and honest "family discussion" over the last few months, or one with a carefully guided and pre-determined ending?
Which brings something else to mind, something that appeared in every Scout handbook, from the first edition in 1911, and for the next sixty years thereafter, in elaborating on the first point of the Scout Law.
A Scout's honor is to be trusted. If he were to violate his honor by telling a lie or by cheating or by not doing exactly a given task, when trusted on his honor, he may be directed to hand over his Scout Badge.
If the proposed resolution passes, it will be the end of Scouting in America as we know it, as the BSA slowly becomes indistinguishable from any other youth organization. If the resolution fails (and it may yet do so), the very notion of Honor itself demands the immediate resignations of Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock, National President Wayne Perry, and National Commissioner Tico Perez. It would also demand those of two members of the Executive Board most responsible for instigating this malfeasance; AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, and Ernst and Young CEO James Turley.
Shall we be forced to choose between our duty to God, or our loyalty to a corporation? Whatever the choice, we who are in Scouting are all on our honor, an obligation that does not go away after the meeting is over.
Today was the day that Scouts and Scouters across the nation were called upon, to wear their Scout uniforms to work. This is as far as I got. I couldn't find my Eagle Scout lapel pin, so I went with my old First Class Scout pin.
Back in the day, they would pin this on you, and you would have the real thing sown on later. But the First Class rank was the original pinnacle of what Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, father of the Scouting movement, referred to in his original 1908 Handbook for Boys as representing the complete outdoorsman, or as he would say, “the all around perfect Scout.” To this day, we encourage boys who join Scouting to at least make First Class, ideally within a year. The number of boys in any unit that do, is considered a benchmark for that unit's effectiveness.
This call to witness was made at the behest of OnMyHonor.net, which is ...
How effective have they been so far? Well, a few weeks ago, the empty suits, most of whom have never spent a night out under the stars in their lives, at the BSA headquarters sort of asked them to knock it off, and they sort of said, uh ... no. Hopefully, we'll have more on this later. We'd better, because the voting is at this time tomorrow, at the annual National Meeting. Stay tuned ...
Art-For-Art”s-Sake Theatre: The Key of Awesome “Start A Mumford Band!”
Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.
You probably saw our clip of Mumford & Sons last March and thought, “Hey, I wanna start a Mumford band too!” Well, it's Comedy Week on YouTube, and some bunch of yahoos who call themselves The Key of Awesome can show you how to get on board with the latest folk frenzy. Just follow the bouncing standup bass, invite half of your friends onstage to jump up and down, and ... well, see for yourself.
The picnic grounds that later became known as an amusement park occupied a place east of the city. First known in 1867 as "Ohio Grove, the Coney Island of the West," it was later known as "Coney Island on the Ohio," and eventually just "Coney Island." Between periodic floods in the spring, and having extended the limits of its property, the Taft Broadcasting Company, which acquired the park by the late 1960s saw the need to expand the concept elsewhere. They found a plot 25 miles northeast of the city, near a little town known as Kings Mills. This explains the otherwise-inexplicable name of “Kings Island” for a theme park. Forty years ago today, I neared the end of one adventure, and began another, one that was to change my outlook on life, and on my self-image.
I had worked at the park briefly the previous autumn -- the "post-season" weekends, as they're called -- in the Rides department. I told them I had experience with canoeing, so they put me at a lake helping people get into and out of canoes. When the weather got too cold, they transferred me to the roller coaster. At the end of October, that was the end of that.
But I wanted more. They had a "Live Shows and Entertainment" department. The money was better, and one of my buds from high school, Chris "Seadog" Seipelt, was one of the animal characters. You know, those guys who walk around in the animal costumes and get their pictures taken with little kids and all that. "You should try out, Dave," he told me. "I'll even help you prepare the audition." He had this costume head which I wore as a prop, and with a 45rpm recording of Elvis Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes," I passed the audition with a presentation of "Bingo Learns to Dance." (Don't ask.)
And I was in.
The money was certainly better. And being in the Shows department had a certain caché that wasn't shared by, say, the ride operators or those who worked the food concession stands. Wearing jumpsuits for most of the day, the guys in our crew would go out for a half-hour or forty-five minutes in these costumes based on Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters -- Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, you know the type -- escorted by these girls known as "guardettes," who would do the talking (since we weren't allowed) and help arrange the kids for photographs. We also had a performance in "Hanna-Barbera Land" of "The Banana Splits Show," which was a fictional rock band composed of four animal characters, and a popular Saturday morning kids show at the time. We pantomimed to a pre-recording of the characters in action. Even as a rookie, I became renowned for my rendition of "Fleagle," the de facto leader of the pack. It was hot, it was grueling, it was two or three times a day, but it was worth it.
But the character for which I became best known, was "Templeton the Rat," from the Hanna-Barbera production of "Charlotte's Web." I actually learned how to make the character appear quite real. Once inside the costume, I would bend over slightly, with my head down, and bow my legs when I walked. That made the torso jiggle back and forth, and people actually could imagine seeing a live rodent trying to walk on his hind legs. I can still remember the uproarious laughter from the crowds as I walked away.
IMAGE: The Banana Splits, in an undated publicity photo.
I modeled for children's fashion magazines, and promotions for consumer products. But for all that, my greatest single achievement was being in a movie. After building Kings Island, Taft Broadcasting decided to build a sister park north of Richmond known as "Kings Dominion." They produced a fifteen-minute preview film to promote it in the Richmond area. Some footage was shot at Kings Island, after which the new park would be modeled, while other footage was shot at the construction site. The Banana Splits were the main cast, and I was "Snorky" the elephant, and the only rookie in the cast. We drove to Richmond to film some of it, and Dudley Taft (a descendant of President William Howard Taft) flew us home in his private jet.
Now, back to the ladies.
These girls who accompanied us came from the Guest Relations department, and were hired for their poise, composure, and -- oh yes, their bodaciousness. In fact, they were just about the hottest babes in the whole park. Not only that, but they were the nicest girls you could ever wanna take home to Mama. Most of the guys in the crew were working their way through college, and a few were pretty sure of themselves, especially when it came to the ladies, these ladies in particular. They struck out more often than not, at least at first, which surprised me at the time. After all, high school was nothing like this. I mean, there were rules, you see. You dated within your predestined social class, and never ventured outside of it. There was this one guy -- Tom, I think his name was -- and he told us that he could use every cliché he could think of and still win over the object of his affection. And it actually worked.
There were plenty of opportunities for Tom, of course, and anyone else so bold. We were young, it was summer, and after working hard, we would play hard. There were parties two or three nights a week, just the Characters and the Guardettes. Unlike them, I was not so bold. And one of the first things I learned, is that the girls liked me best for that reason, that I wasn't constantly on the make, which is why they named me "Character of the Year" in an informal poll. Even so, I dated quite a bit that summer, but I usually went for the younger ones, figuring that was all I could, uh, handle. The guys would get on my case for chasing "jailbait," a term someone actually had to explain more than once. I had no idea what they were talking about. I was far from losing my innocence that summer.
But it didn't matter. You see, I could still remember getting beat up by the kids in the neighborhood only ten years earlier. I was physically bullied all through high school. But that summer, for the first time in my nearly nineteen years of a so-called life, I knew what it was like to be ... popular.
IMAGE: George Clooney, yeah, that George Clooney. I knew his dad, sort of.
One week, "The Nick Clooney Show" was broadcast from the park. That was a local variety and talk show back in the 1970s. My buddy Terry and I actually met Nick after work. He was walking around in the park, and against my protestations, Terry called out, "Hey, Nick, over here!" And we talked shop for about five minutes. One day, he brought his family to the park, including a twelve-year-old boy named George. Nick has since gone on to hosting old movies on the American Movie Classics channel. His son has enjoyed a measure of success as well, or so I'm told.
I can still remember getting off work at 7:30 in the evening, and going out into the park with a buddy, or a girl I was trying to impress. I remember going on the Alpine Sky Ride as the sun was setting, watching the big band play at the head of the fountain under the fake Eiffel Tower, and being one of the "plants" in the audience for the girl singers. I remember watching the fireworks every evening at ten.
Most of all, I remember never wanting it to end. But it did. We all went off to college, or wherever we were going. Some of my pals went up to Miami University, located in a bucolic college town known as Oxford, northwest of the city. Sometimes when I was there on the weekend for a party, I'd call up my friend Mary Margaret. No, she couldn't join me that night, she was studying. She always liked to study on the weekends. I was disappointed, of course, but I shouldn't have been. I later found out she married a classmate of mine, just after graduating from college.
One of the popular kids. And so it goes ...
I managed to work at the park for one more summer, but it wasn't the same. I found my only-recently-former girlfriend suddenly "pre-engaged" to some creep who spent three months tormenting me, when he wasn't pretending to be my buddy. He knew how to be everybody else's buddy too, bringing porn films into the trailer where we took breaks. (I and one other guy usually left.) I spent the first half of the summer upset that things weren't the same. Why didn't time stand still while I was at college? Where was the magic? And who let all these ***holes in here? I stayed in touch with some of "the gang" for several years afterwords. I am still in touch with two of the guys; one a Catholic priest in Cincinnati, the other a real estate appraiser in California. I have not spoken to any of the girls since leaving Ohio more than thirty years ago.
It must be a very different experience now. Young women now join the young men behind the costumes, and the last time I checked, the characters were from the "Peanuts" comic strip ,which can't be nearly as much fun. But most of all, they probably don't get away with half the stuff we pulled off. We had this thing we did to initiate the new girls who escorted us, something called "the squeeze play" ...
I think Frank Sinatra said it best: “Life is like the seasons; after winter comes the spring.” In the summer of 1973, I learned that there was life after high school, a world without labels assigned to you, but ones you made for your self. It's hard to believe today, that such a thing would never have occurred to me. I also learned that nothing in this world lasts forever. You wait long enough, something changes. People move on, life goes on.
When the princes of Rome assemble to elect a new Pope, when bishops are consecrated, when priests are ordained, when churches are dedicated, when kings are crowned with the blessing of Mother Church -- at all such solemn occasions, there is the chanting of this “most famous of hymns.” Attributed to Rabanus Maurus in the ninth century, “Veni Creator Spiritus” implores the Holy Spirit to dwell among those who raise their voices in its melody and phrase.
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
Ignite them with celestial fire;
Spirit of God, you have the art
Your gifts, the sev'nfold to impart.
Your blest outpouring from above
Is comfort, life, and fire of love.
Illumine with perpetual light
The dullness of our blinded sight.
Anoint and cheer our much-soiled face
With the abundance of your grace.
Keep far our foes; give peace at home;
Where you guide us, no ill can come.
Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And you, of both, to be but one
That, as the ceaseless ages throng,
Your praise may be our endless song. Amen.
It is an especially appropriate hymn for the Feast of Pentecost, that which occurs fifty days after the Resurrection, and that which we celebrate today.
(Featured lyrics from a translation by John Cosin, 1594-1672. Chanted by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint Maurice and Saint Maur, Clevaux.)
Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium.
Give them virtue's sure reward;
give them thy salvation, Lord;
give them joys that never end.
Come, O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, And enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V: Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created,
R:And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Oh God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and to ever rejoice in His consolations, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Da tuis fidelibus
in te confidentibus
On the faithful, who adore
and confess thee, evermore
in thy sevenfold gift descend.
The gifts of the Holy Ghost perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Ghost, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Ghost. These fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.
Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration, may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.
Tonight is the next installment of our series (having skipped a week for reasons that aren't really all that interesting) in honor of the late Annette Funicello, in our continuing saga about a country girl who moves to the big city, where she learns about love, friendship, and the excess self-indulgence of the thoroughly modern teenager in postwar America.
In this our fourth episode, we are introduced to an important feature of the popular culture, that of the elaborate social strata that is high school. We begin with the top of the food chain, in the form of Steve Abernathy (Tim Considine) and the object of his affection, in a car she obviously didn't pay for with baby-sitting jobs, Laura Rogan (Roberta Shore). From there we stoop to the lower end of the social order, who goes by the name of Olmstead "Steady" Ware (Rudy Lee), and proceeds to make a fool of himself.
This episode originally aired on The Mickey Mouse Club on February 14, 1958.
Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.
Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written “all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.” It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Savior: “Take up thy cross and follow Me, for My yoke is sweet, and My burden light.”
Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all passing joys and satisfactions of the earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.
Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: The Waffle Stompers “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Ukulele Version)
Time once again for our usual (if better late than never) midday Wednesday feature.
A few years ago, we showed you two guys playing the same guitar simultaneously. Now, imagine six guys playing an ukulele simultaneously, while singing, and you have this rendition from a post-Ska band (huh?) out of New Jersey known as The Waffle Stompers.
How do they do it? Simple. Pay attention.
The two guys on the viewer's far left use the body of the uke for percussion, the guy in the middle who holds the instrument plays an alternating-beat rhythm on the first two strings, the guy on his right plays a bass line on the third string, while the guy on his left plays a sort of descant (is that the right word?) on the fourth string. Finally, the guy on the viewer's far right does the first part of the singing (before the middle guy and the others join in), and occasionally plucks the strings on the business end of the headstock.
Just like that. Pay no attention to the first eight seconds.
(H/T to Digger Digwillow via my dear friend from the old neighborhood Diane Rumsey Feagans.)
Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
on our dryness pour thy dew;
wash the stains of guilt away.
The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must be done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. “Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth.”
Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Amen.
Sine tuo numine
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.
Where thou art not, man hath naught,
nothing good in deed or thought,
nothing free from taint of ill.
Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Ghost, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion. By faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to “walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.
O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
O most blessed Light divine,
shine within these hearts of thine,
and our inmost being fill!
The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth -- in relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. “Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it.”
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Thy glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to Thee, and Thy eternal rewards. Amen.
“Our entire daily lives cannot be occupied with purely religious practices; all of us have to eat, and most of us have and want to do many other activities besides. So though we cannot always be religious in this sense, we can always be Catholic, that is, the round of our daily activities can be conducted in such a way as to express and be in harmony with our Faith. And [this] can involve more than avoiding sin and exercising virtue.”