Thursday, 24 June 2010

Mystery of the Pregant pope

You know, do we have to go there again. Give it up already. The mideviel tale of the female pope Joan. The people who tell the story don't know which books identify the story.. and if the story is real. Still, others like the scandal and make great issue with the thing.

OK. Let us say she was a Pope. Was she a good Pope? NO! She was pregnant out of wedlock. That alone would have her defrocked. So the crowds killed her. Well what do you expect. She was a liar and a cheat. While we did have a few Popes like that, we refer to them as antipopes... and other than the Pornocracy I think there were only two really bad popes.

My rant is about this new movie: "Pope Joan" I want to see it when it comes out. I know that it will be thrown at me by the haters. C'est la Vie!

Here's what the Catholic Enyclopedia says about Joan:

The fable about a female pope, who afterwards bore the name of Johanna (Joan), is first noticed in the middle of the thirteenth century.

Variations of the fable
First version: Jean de Mailly
The first who appears to have had cognizance of it was the Dominican chronicler Jean de Mailly (Archiv der Gesellschaft fur altere deutsche Geschichte, xii, 17 sq., 469 sq.) from whom another Dominican, Etienne de Bourbon (d. 1261), adopted the tale into his work on the "Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost."

In this account the alleged popess is placed about the year 1100, and no name is yet assigned her. The story runs that a very talented woman, dressed as a man, became notary to the Curia, then cardinal and finally pope; that one day this person went out on horseback, and on this occasion gave birth to a son; that she was then bound to the tail of a horse, dragged round the city, stoned to death by the mob, and was buried at the place where she died; and that an inscription was put up there as follows: "Petre pater patrum papissae prodito partum". In her reign, the story adds, the Ember days were introduced, called therefore the "fasts of the popess".

Second Version: Martin of Troppau
A different version appears in the third recension of the chronicle of Martin of Troppau (Martinus Polonus) possibly inserted by the author himself and not by a subsequent transcriber. Through this very popular work the tale became best known in the following form: After Leo IV (847-55) the Englishman John of Mainz (Johannes Anglicus, natione Moguntinus) occupied the papal chair two years, seven months and four days. He was, it is alleged, a woman. When a girl, she was taken to Athens in male clothes by her lover, and there made such progress in learning that no one was her equal. She came to Rome, where she taught science, and thereby attracted the attention of learned men. She enjoyed the greatest respect on account of her conduct and erudition, and was finally chosen as pope, but, becoming pregnant by one of her trusted attendants, she gave birth to a child during a procession from St. Peter's to the Lateran, somewhere between the Colosseum and St. Clement's. There she died almost immediately, and it is said she was buried at the same place. In their processions the popes always avoid this road; many believe that they do this out of abhorrence of that calamity.

Here occurs for the first time the name of Johanna (Joan) as that of the alleged popess. Martin of Troppau had lived at the Curia as papal chaplain and penitentiary (he died 1278), for which reason his papal history was widely read, and through him the tale obtained general acceptance. One manuscript of his chronicle relates in a different way the fate of the alleged popess: i.e., after her confinement Joan was immediately deposed, and did penance for many years. Her son, it is added, became Bishop of Ostia, and had her interred there after her death.

Later versions
Later chroniclers even give the name which she bore as a girl; some call her Agnes, some Gilberta. Still further variations are found in the works of different chroniclers, e.g. in the "Universal Chronicle of Metz", written about 1250, and in subsequent editions of the twelfth (?) century "Mirabilia Urbis Romae". According to the latter, the popess was given the choice in a vision, of temporal disgrace or eternal punishment; she chose the former, and died at her confinement in the open street.

Early evaluations of the legend
Credulous acceptance
In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries this popess was already counted as an historical personage, whose existence no one doubted. She had her place among the carved busts which stood in Siena Cathedral. Under Clement VIII, and at his request, she was transformed into Pope Zacharias. The heretic Hus, in the defense of his false doctrine before the Council of Constance, referred to the popess, and no one offered to question the fact of her existence. She is not found in the "Liber Pontificalis" nor among the papal portraits in St. Paul's Outside the Walls, at Rome.

Critical evaluation
This alleged popess is a pure figment of the imagination. In the fifteenth century, after the awakening of historical criticism, a few scholars like Aeneas Silvius (Epist., I, 30) and Platina (Vitae Pontificum, No. 106) saw the untenableness of the story. Since the sixteenth century Catholic historians began to deny the existence of the popess, e.g., Onofrio Panvinio (Vitae Pontificum, Venice, 1557), Aventinus (Annales Boiorum, lib. IV), Baronius (Annales ad a. 879, n. 5), and others.

Protestant evaluation
A few Protestants also, e.g., Blondel (Joanna Papissa, 1657) and Leibniz ("Flores sparsae in tumulum papissae" in "Bibliotheca Historica", Göttingen, 1758, 267 sq.), admitted that the popess never existed. Numerous Protestants, however, made use of the fable in their attacks on the papacy. Even in the nineteenth century, when the untenableness of the legend was recognized by all serious historians, a few Protestants (e.g. Kist, 1843; Suden, 1831; and Andrea, 1866) attempted, in an anti-Roman spirit, to prove the historical existence of the popess. Even Hase ("Kirchengesch.", II, 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1895, 81) could not refrain from a spiteful and absolutely unhistorical note on this subject.

Proofs of its mythical character
The principal proofs of the entirely mythical character of the popess are:

Not one contemporaneous historical source among the papal histories knows anything about her; also, no mention is made of her until the middle of the thirteenth century. Now it is incredible that the appearance of a "popess", if it was an historical fact, would be noticed by none of the numerous historians from the tenth to the thirteenth century.

In the history of the popes, there is no place where this legendary figure will fit in.

Between Leo IV and Benedict III, where Martinus Polonus places her, she cannot be inserted, because Leo IV died 17 July, 855, and immediately after his death Benedict III was elected by the clergy and people of Rome; but owing to the setting up of an antipope, in the person of the deposed Cardinal Anastasius, he was not consecrated until 29 September. Coins exist which bear both the image of Benedict III and of Emperor Lothair, who died 28 September, 855; therefore Benedict must have been recognized as pope before the last-mentioned date. On 7 October, 855, Benedict III issued a charter for the Abbey of Corvey. Hincmar, Archbishop of Reims, informed Nicholas I that a messenger whom he had sent to Leo IV learned on his way of the death of this pope, and therefore handed his petition to Benedict III, who decided it (Hincmar, ep. xl in P.L., CXXXVI, 85). All these witnesses prove the correctness of the dates given in the lives of Leo IV and Benedict III, and there was no interregnum between these two popes, so that at this place there is no room for the alleged popess.

Further, is is even less probable that a popess could be inserted in the list of popes about 1100, between Victor III (1087) and Urban II (1088-99) or Paschal II (1099-1110), as is suggested by the chronicle of Jean de Mailly.

Origin of the legend
This fable of a Roman popess seems to have had an earlier counterpart at Constantinople. Indeed, in his letter to Michael Caerularius (1053), Leo IX says that he would not believe what he had heard, namely that the Church of Constantinople had already seen eunuchs, indeed even a woman, in its episcopal chair (Mansi "Concil.", XIX, 635 sq.).

Concerning the origin of the whole legend of Popess Joan, different hypotheses have been advanced.

Bellarmine (De Romano Pontifice, III, 24) believes that the tale was brought from Constantinople to Rome.

Baronius (Annales ad a., 879, n. 5) conjectures that the much censured effeminate weaknesses of Pope John VIII (872-82) in dealing with the Greeks may have given rise to the story. Mai has shown (Nova Collectio Patr., I, Proleg., xlvii) that Photius of Constantinople (De Spir. Sanct. Myst., lxxxix) refers emphatically three times to this pope as "the Manly", as though he would remove from him the stigma of effeminacy.

Other historians point to the degradation of the papacy in the tenth century, when so many popes bore the name John; it seemed therefore a fitting name for the legendary popess. Thus Aventinus sees in the story a satire on John IX; Blondel, a satire on John XI; Panvinio (notae ad Platinam, De vitis Rom. Pont.) applies it to John XII, while Leander (Kirkengesch., II, 200) understands it as applicable generally to the baneful female influence on the papacy during the tenth century.

Other investigators endeavour to find in various occurrences and reports a more definite basis for the origin of this legend. Leo Allatius (Diss. Fab. de Joanna Papissa) connects it with the false prophetess Theota, condemned at the Synod of Mainz (847); Leibniz recalls the story that an alleged bishop Johannes Anglicus came to Rome and was there recognized as a woman. The legend has also been connected with the pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, e.g. by Karl Blascus ("Diatribe de Joanna Papissa", Naples, 1779), and Gfrörer (Kirchengesch., iii, 978).

Döllinger's explanation has met with more general approval ("Papstfabeln", Munich, 1863, 7-45). He recognizes the fable of Popess Joan as a survival of some local Roman folk-tale originally connected with certain ancient monuments and peculiar customs. An ancient statue discovered in the reign of Sixtus V, in a street near the Colosseum, which showed a figure with a child, was popularly considered to represent the popess. In the same street a monument was discovered with an inscription at the end of which occurred the well-known formula P.P.P. (proprie pecuniâ posuit) together with a prefixed name which read: Pap. (?Papirius) pater patrum. This could easily have given origin to the inscription mentioned by Jean de Mailly (see above). It was also observed that the pope did not pass along this street in solemn procession (perhaps on account of its narrowness). Further it was noticed that, on the occasion of his formal inauguration in front of the Lateran Basilica, the newly-elected pope always seated himself on a marble chair. This seat was an ancient bath-stool, of which there were many in Rome; it was merely made use of by the pope to rest himself. But the imagination of the vulgar took this to signify that the sex of the pope was thereby tested, in order to prevent any further instance of a woman attaining to the Chair of St. Peter.

Erroneous explanations — such as were often excogitated in the Middle Ages in connection with ancient monuments — and popular imagination are originally responsible for the fable of "Popess Joan" that uncritical chroniclers, since the middle of the thirteenth century, dignified by consigning it to their pages.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Sound of God, or song of God ... I think neither

Sounds set to be made by the subatomic particle at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have been simulated by scientists aiming to make the £6bn experiment more accessible.

By Alastair Jamieson
Published: 7:47AM BST 23 Jun 2010

The LHC Sound project aims to allow physicists at Cern in Geneva to ‘listen’ to the data in order to more easily identify the crucial ‘Higgs boson’ particle.

Finding the Higgs boson – also known as the God particle – is the primary aim of the LHC experiment because it will provide an insight into the nature of all matter.

It is hoped the subatomic particle will emerge from the 27km circular tunnel under the Swiss-French border where beams of proton particles are being smashed together.

LHC Sound, a collaboration of particle physicists, musicians and artists in London, has converted data expected from collisions into sounds in a process called sonification.

The data was provided by the LHC's Atlas experiment which includes a calorimeter measuring the energy from collisions. The note and pitch of the sound varies with the amount of energy recorded.

LHC Sound is planning live performances of the data during the summer but early simulations of the particles can be heard here.

Dr Lily Asquith, one of the team, explained in a recent blog entry:

“Sound seems the perfect tool with which to represent the complexity of the data; our ears are superb at locating the source and location of sounds relative to one another, we can hear a vast range of frequencies and distinguish timbres (different instruments) before they have even played a full cycle.

“We also have an incredible ability to notice slight changes is pitch or tempo over time and to recognise patterns in sound after hearing them just once.

“A simple example of sonification is the car parking sensor that informs you of the space behind you via a beeping sound. The distance between you and the car behind you is mapped to the period of the sound, so that small distances produce a series of beeps that are very close together in time.”

LHC Sound was funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

In a recent Q&A with the New Scientist blog, CultureLab, Dr Asquith explained the origins of the project.

"I was sitting in on a rehearsal with some musician friends in an improvisational electronic/brass band called WORM under a railway arch in Brixton," she said. "I was talking about particle physics to my long-suffering friend Eddie Real, a percussionist.

"I was actually doing impersonations of different particles and trying to get him to develop them on his electronic drum kit. Another band member, Ed, got very excited and asked if it would be possible to do this properly – extract sounds directly from the data.

"We asked the Science and Technology Facilities Council to fund a public engagement project to do just that, and they agreed."

On its website, the project states: "We want everyone to be able to share in the wonder and excitement of the greatest experiment ever built.

"We feel passionately that everyone is capable of appreciating what is happening at CERN and that it is the responsibility of those of us already `in the know' to find new and better ways of sharing the awe-inspiring magnificence of it all."

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Exorcism, the Church Militant and Our ladyof Lourdes Toronto

Pro-life leader Fr. Thomas Euteneuer has written a new book called "Exorcism and the church Militant". In a recent interview he discussed the book and the often misunderstood topic of exorcism, asserting that "due to an increased exposure of young people to the occult, priests within the next decade are going to be “inundated” with exorcism requests."

“One of the purposes of the book,” he noted, “was to take back the proper understanding of exorcism by placing it squarely in the context of the Church's pastoral ministry.”

In reading this I am taken back to my visit to Toronto in 2008. The Pope had announced that every Archdiocese throughout the world must have an official exorcist. It was a matter discussed on national TV. There were those for and against the issue even within the church. Psychologists had their say. It was a big thing. In Trinidad, such an issue was under the radar. I don't know that it was ever discussed in any public forum.

What got me upset was that I went to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in the Village in Toronto with the family. We had to pass through the village - they had a street sex clothe and equipment fair that day. And Yes, that got me upset, but what really bothered me upset was the Priest at our lady of Lourdes. The reading for that week was Matthew 15:21-28:

Then Jesus answered her, 'Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.' And her daughter was healed instantly.

The Homily was about exorcism and even in all the talk about exorcism the priest spoke about exorcism as addictions... not spiritual. How can you direct someone to heaven, a spiritual place, and not guide people in spiritual matters. When Jesus exorcised several people. Fr. Euteneuer underscored Exorcism in Jesus' Ministry, “He healed the sick, He preached the Gospel and He cast out demons. He continues to do those works in and through the Church and that it what he handed on to the Church to do.”

Saturday, 19 June 2010

VUVU ... what? Vuvuzelas!

Ok. This one made me do a double take. Archbishop Vincent Nicholas, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales does not want people using VUVUZELAS when the Pope visits England in September.

What are Vuvuzelas? you may ask. Well it's some kind of plastic horn. According to an article in the UK telegraph the Archbishop doesn't like these things He says of it:

"I have had enough of them already," says the Archbishop of Westminster. "I hope they stay in South Africa. Personally, I think the football would be more enjoyable without this constant cacophony."

The trip will be a state visit. The Pope will meet the Queen and beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman.

The Archbishop is a huge football fan. He loves Liverpool FC. Aren't they called the red devils? Maybe they could change their moniker to the Red Cardinals... or maybe not!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Another brand of Religious fundamentalism

The Lexington Herald, of Kentucky, has a contributing writer called Paul Prather. Mr Prather is a Pastor and he wrote an article recently that has upset a few Atheists. He notes something that I have known for some time now: That is, that Atheists consider themselves enlightened and not narrow minded like the religious minded people. Of course the fact that they do not open themselves to other possibiliites such as "there is a GOD" makes them narrow minded hypocrites.

Here are some pieces of Mr Prathers article:

Saturday, Jun. 12, 2010
Paul Prather: New atheists embody the very things they hate

There's an increase in the number of atheists and of open doubters in the United States. A study of religious identification by Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., found that 15 percent of us now claim no religion, almost twice the percentage found in 1990.

Most of these "nones," as they're called in the Trinity report, aren't atheists per se, but rather agnostics, deists and others of similar views.

Only 2 percent of U.S. adults are atheists, the Trinity study found. Still, by another estimate I saw, that's three times the percentage of avowed atheists 20 years ago.

Atheists remain a tiny minority, but they're far more vocal and combative than they used to be, an approach advocated by Dawkins and others. They have every right to state their views.

The irony is that this current brand of aggressive atheism is just another form of fundamentalism. These particular atheists are zealots on the subject of faith who see no shadings of gray, only black and white. They're dead-set against religion but weirdly obsessed with it.

It's that they strike me as hypocrites, which is the charge they unfailingly level, with mixed justification, against the religious. In opposing religion in the manner they do, they betray themselves as possessing the traits they profess to loathe.

They're smug, dogmatic and mean-spirited. They trot out tired, half-truthful stereotypes, and they cherry-pick historical examples of religious wrongdoing while ignoring the innumerable instances in which the faithful have performed great acts of decency and charity.

They pretend that all Christians are bigots prone to violence. They claim that Christians are by definition illogical bumpkins who mindlessly accept fairy tales.

I wish these atheists would venture, say, into a seminary library. They'd find tens of thousands of volumes written by thinkers great and obscure across two millennia.

They'd find works by scholars who take every word of the Bible literally and works by others who argue that most of the Scripture is made up and that Jesus said almost nothing attributed to him. They'd find every gradation between those extremes.

They'd find the musings of Christians who are pompous, exclusionary and delusional. They'd find Christians who are tolerant and humble and pillars of common sense.

They'd learn that Christians were the driving force behind the establishment of public schools and the abolition of slavery, just as, regrettably, other Christians launched the Crusades.

Christianity is a big, organic, complex system of beliefs with a long, diverse history. It's not just one thing.

I haven't even mentioned the varying theologies, contradictions and contributions of Judaism, Islam or Hinduism.

If the new atheists are as bright as they claim, they ought not imitate the worst traits of the very people they consider their inferiors.

Well not to be outdone the Friendly Atheist has made an attempt to respond to the good Pastor... but all I see is narrow mindedness and an air of superiority. Judge Yourself here.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Shhhhh ... don't upset the elephants

If you look for it you are sure to find strange and funny news where ever you look. So to take a break from all the Catholic stuff that's going on around the world.. and there is some interesting stuff. Lets talk World Cup football.

So the US football team has had some problems in South Africa. It's not that anyone got injured or anything. It's not that they are not liked. It's not the facilities. It's the animals. According to an article from the associated press, twice elephants blocked the road and delayed the team. It shouldn't be a suprise since there are signs that tell you there are wild animals around:




The U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra said "It was cool... A big elephant, just eating on the path out of our hotel."

Yeah! Sure it was dude. but from the picture above... I wouldn't want to meet that guy on a dirt road anywhere unless I was in a car.

Still, Praise God that the animals still have room to be free!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

out of sorts

Well I have been out of sorts for a while... and now I have the cold. But I am back now.

In the news the Catholic League (of the USA) have been petitioning for the Empire State Building to be lit up blue and white in honour of Mother Teresa of Calcuta. Is this a fight we need to engage man? I don't think so.

The news that grabbed me though is the woman who came back to life 10 minutes after they took off her life support. Here is the Paul Thompson article from "Mail Online">

A mother of two has stunned doctors by apparently coming back from the dead.

Velma Thomas's heart stopped beating three times and she was clinically brain dead for 17 hours. Her son had left the hospital to make funeral arrangements, having been told she would not survive.

But ten minutes after her life support system was shut down and doctors were preparing to take her organs for donation, the 59-year-old woke up.

Heart specialist Kevin Eggleston said: 'There are things that as physicians and nurses we can't always explain. I think this is one of those cases.'

He said Mrs Thomas had no pulse, no heartbeat or brain activity after her admission to hospital. She had been found unconscious after suffering a heart attack at her home in West Virginia.

While at the Charleston Area Medical Centre she suffered two further heart attacks and was placed on a life support system.

About 25 family members and friends gathered inside the hospital waiting room. 'We just prayed and prayed and prayed,' said her son Tim, 36. 'And I came to the conclusion she wasn't going to make it.

'I was given confirmation from God to take her off the ventilator and my pastor said the same thing. I felt a sense of peace that I made the right decision. Her skin had already started hardening, her hands and toes were curling up. There was no life there.'

He said after he left the hospital he was called and told she had shown signs of life.

By the time he got to her hospital room, Mrs Thomas was alert and talking. 'She had already asked, "Where's my son?",' he said.

Dr Eggleston added: 'It's a miracle.'

Some people think it may be medical staff screwing up. Soem think they were trying to get the organs. Some think that further tests may show brain damage for the brain being without oxygen for 17 hours.... Some like me, who believe in God, and know that miracles exist, believe that it is indeed a miracle.