Friday, 21 September 2012

Trinidad and Tobago not looking too Good

Trinidad and Tobago... not looking too good. At least in an article in the Austrailian Catholic Weekly. Here is the Article:

The colourful pictures featured in glossy magazines and travel brochures can be misleading, as Trinidad and Tobago is not the idyllic scene that they illustrate. In reality, the south-east Caribbean island state is in an alarming condition as it nears the fiftieth anniversary of its independence on 31 August 2012. Economic stagnation, extreme social inequality and excessive levels of crime and corruption are part of everyday life.

Other problems include the tension that exists between the similar-sized groups of people from Indian and African descent at certain levels in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the growing influence held by external stakeholders.

“Yes, it’s true that there’s growing uncertainty and an increasing crime rate,” confirmed Fr Robert Llanos, Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Port of Spain during a visit to the international Catholic charity “Aid to the Church in Need”.

The 54-year-old Catholic priest believes that social inequality is the main cause of the area's plight, as well as a society that is constantly evolving and becoming increasingly individualistic and materialistic. Improving educational facilities and curricula could offer a solution to this. “A lot more needs to be done for education. It’s also important to continue to enhance the skills of teachers,” says the Vicar General.

Despite the fact that the public education system has been reformed in the past, it has failed to satisfy the needs of many youth and young adults. Fr Robert claims that " the Primary and Secondary schools which are run by the Denominational Boards (e.g. Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, Presbyterian etc.) are among the best in the country. The Catholic Schools number 119 Primary and 12 Secondary".

There, as in nearly all schools led by Denominational Boards, pupils perform better than in the state institutions, according to the Vicar General. Around 56 per cent of the 1.3 million residents of Trinidad and Tobago are Christians, 26 per cent of which are of Catholic faith. Approximately 24 per cent are Hindus, while 6 per cent are Muslims. Under British rule and right up until the early 20th century, more than one hundred thousand workers were recruited from India, bringing their cultural influences and their religion with them.

In a political sense, Trinidad and Tobago has been governed for decades by two parties, namely the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the United National Congress (UNC). The island state is currently ruled by a coalition of smaller parties led by the UNC.

However, the Vicar General for Port of Spain does not expect politicians to launch any significant educational initiatives any time soon. As he points out, the economic situation is difficult. The United Nations and the World Bank have imposed conditions on international financial assistance. 50 years after it was granted its independence, the state now faces additional dependences. External economic pressures are mounting.

The Vicar General explains; “Financial aid, for instance, is granted on the condition that a country implements population control measures which invariably means legalising abortion and same-sex marriage.” Only several months ago, a gender paper to this effect that was drafted by a government ministry for Parliament was rejected following protests from Christians, Hindus and Muslims.

The Vicar General sees further problems. “The environment in Trinidad and Tobago has become more materialistic. US media has a great influence here. They set the trends.” All religious communities have noticed this, including the Catholic Church. The number of priestly vocations has been on the decline for years. 51 per cent of the pastors from the Archdiocese of Port of Spain are more than 60 years old.

According to the Vicar General, there are currently only four young men preparing to be ordained as Priests. The Archdiocese has reacted to this trend by enhancing family and youth pastoral care and pursuing The New Evangelisation. Last year, “Aid to the Church in Need” donated a total of 20,000 dollars to support media projects aimed at promoting The New Evangelisation.

As Fr Robert puts it: “We want to regenerate the Catholic culture and we’re ready to fight for our own ethical and moral identity. This does not meet with the approval of everyone; politicians are not always well disposed to the Church’s causes.”

Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

On Line donations can be made at

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Let me check with "My Wife" and I'll get back to you.

A article in ABC news dated September 18th talks about a piece of Papyrus which mentions Jesus. The article says the following:

The fragment, with just eight lines of text on the front and six lines on the back, is from a fourth-century dialogue, written in the Coptic language, between Jesus and his disciples. In it, Jesus speaks of "my wife," according to Harvard professor Karen L. King, who discovered the fragment.

"The most exciting line in the whole fragment…is the sentence 'Jesus said to them [his disciples], my wife…" King said in a video posted to Harvard's YouTube channel. The next line of text reads, "She will be able to be my disciple."

"This is the only extant ancient text which explicitly portrays Jesus as referring to a wife," King wrote in her paper on the discovery.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League comments in a news release dated Spetember 19th 2012, on the contention by Harvard professor Karen King that Jesus once remarked, “My wife”:

The evidence that Jesus had a wife can be ascertained by using a magnifying glass to read a 3.8 x 7.6 centimeter inscription made on a scrap of papyrus. We know nothing about when the scrap was discovered. We know nothing about where it was discovered. We know nothing about how it was discovered. We know nothing about the context in which the words were written. And we know nothing about the owner.

What we do know is that two of the three scholars who first examined the scrap questioned its authenticity; they are now unsure whether it is real or a fraud. The third scholar went right to the heart of the matter questioning its grammar, translation and interpretation. Not much left after that.

The reigning dogma in the academy is that words can have multiple meanings. For King, however, the words, “My wife,” are so clear that they “can mean nothing else.” Yet according to some biblical scholars, “sister-wives,” as they are called, were not uncommon in the early centuries: these were women who performed domestic duties but did not have sexual relations. And since we know nothing of the context in which the words were allegedly said, King’s confidence is unwarranted.

King is known for her fertile imagination. For example, she previously claimed that Mary Magdalene was one of the apostles. Even better, in the book in which she made this extraordinary claim, she “rejects his [Jesus’] suffering and death as the path to eternal life.” Not much left after that.

In the 1990s, King sent her German mentor a book she wrote on feminine images in the gospels. She later learned that he “had utterly no interest” in it and quickly pawned it off on his wife, unread.

So after first inventing an apostle for Jesus—who the divinity professor says is not the Savior—King has now invented a wife for him. Her generosity, if not her scholarship, is beyond dispute.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Unbaptised babies, Duenne and other characters

In Trinidad there is a folklore concerning unbaptised babies and children who have died. Duennes they are called.

DUENNES - How they are created into the being that they become is unsure but they are described as "spirits of children who died before they were baptized and as such, they are fated to roam the forests of Trinidad, practicing their wide repertoire of pranks, mostly on living children who are enticed away into the forest and are then left abandoned."(

They are sexless, their feet are turned backwards and they have no faces (although they do have small round mouths). On their rather large heads they wear huge mushroom-shaped straw hats. Duennes are accused of stealing (live) children and/or luring them away from the safety of their homes to certain danger or death. To prevent the Duennes from calling your children into the forest, never shout their names in open places, as the Duennes will take their names, call them and lure them away in your voice. For those who know literature it is reminiscent of the poem "Stolen Child" by William Butler Yeats:

Away with us he's going, the solemn-eyed -
He'll hear no more the lowing, Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob, Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob, Round and round the oatmeal chest
For he comes - the human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand

LIMBO - There are many folklore tales of lost children, foundlings, changlings and unbaptised dead children. Perhaps these folklore came about because of the church and it's teaching on unbaptised Children and peoples understanding of Limbo.

...the unbaptized baby's soul goes into a state of limbo. In this state, the baby's soul enjoys happiness and contentment for eternity, but lacks the perfect joy of being with God. In other words, it is excluded from Heaven, but does not suffer the ravages of Hell or Purgatory, either.

The theology of LIMBO has been revised. The International Theological Commission (of the Catholic Church) was urged to do extensive research on this question because of the ever growing number of babies who die without the chance to be baptized. Due to the high incidence of abortion, in addition to baby deaths due to disease and war, it has become more urgent for the Church to research and clarify their official opinion on this matter.It now stands as this:

"We can say we have many reasons to hope that there is salvation for these babies." Perhaps these babies do go to heaven. However, "perhaps" is the important word to note. The Church is not saying that they positively go to heaven, but that there is a possibility that they do enjoy eternal salvation after all.

The term Duenne probably came from the time of Spannish occupation of the island. There is a spannish word "duende". A duende is a fairy or goblin like creature. It is more comonly used as a music term. Music that has soul or passion is described as "tener Duende".

GRAVE SCAB - Another folklore of unbaptised children come from scottish lowlands.

it was considered unlucky to step upon "unchristened ground" (the graves of stillborn or unbaptised children) and any who did were said to catch "grave-merels" (or "grave-scab") an illness that causes difficulty of breathing and trembling limbs as well as the burning of the skin as if touched by a hot iron. The only way for this to be relieved was for the unfortunate to wear a sack made from lint grown in a field using manure from a farmyard that has not been disturbed for forty years, spun by the mythical figure Habetrot, bleached by an honest bleacher in an honest miller's milldam and sewed by an honest tailor.

LUTIN - Cajun folklore speaks of the Lutin (loo-tan)which is the spirit of a baby who died before he/she was baptised. The mischievous Lutin plays tricks and pranks on the living.

MYLINGS - In Scandinavian folklore, Mylings are the phantasmal incarnations of the souls of unbaptized children that had been forced to roam the earth until they could persuade someone (or otherwise cause enough of a ruckus to make their wishes known) to bury them properly. The myling (also known as "utburd") is said to chase lone wanderers at night and jump on their backs, demanding to be carried to the graveyard, so they can rest in hallowed ground. Mylings are thought enormous and apparently grow heavier as they near the graveyard, to the point where any person carrying one (or more) could sink into the soil. If one should prove unable to make it into the cemetery, the myling kills its victim in rage. The word "utburd" means "that which is taken outside" and refers to the practice of abandoning unwanted children (e.g. children born out of wedlock or to parents who lacked the means to care for them) in the woods or in other remote places, where death is almost certain to befall them. It is believed that the ghosts of the child will then haunt the place where they had died or, as told of in countless stories, the dwellings of their killers.

WILL-O-THE-WISP - Ghosts associated with unbaptized children come in various shapes and sizes depending not just on country, but in local regions. Some british folklore have them appearing as Will-o-the-Wisps, in parts of Yorkshire they appear as nightjars and in Cornwall and Devon as Pixies. On the Isle of Man folklore suggests that an unbaptized baby would be tasked throughout eternity to carry a light within it’s hands (somewhat similar or Will-o-the-Wisp I assume). A will-o'-the-wisp is a ghostly light seen by travellers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached, drawing travellers from the safe paths. A folk belief well attested in English folklore and in much of European folklore, the phenomenon is known by a variety of names, including jack-o'-lantern, hinkypunk, and hobby lantern in English.

I am pretty sure that other Catholic cultures have similar stories. Perhaps you know of other similar folklore creatures? Let me know.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Innocence of Muslims - a youtube movie to denounce

Today I read that Google would not be taking down the youtube video "The Innocence of Muslims". I hadn't seen it, so I had a view. What I saw was a movie edited down to almost 14 minutes. While it did not offend me, I could see why it would offend muslims. If a movie had been made of Jesus Christ in the same manner, I would be offended as a Christian.

I think it is sad that Google would not take down the movie. It is true that islam was spread by the sword, but so was Christianity (to some extent) in the Americas. I am not a muslim sympathizer, but I do believe that to purposely mock and hurt someone is a bad thing - No matter who you are.

Islam spread as far as it could. The Jungles of africa stopped it's spread south. The forests of India (east) and in the north the Europeans (christian Europeans). For many decades the Europeans and the Turks pushed at each other (we just happened to have different faiths). Richard the Lion Hearted and his contemporaries had great respect for Salahudin the great. And they should have. He was indeed a great king (perhaps because he was a muslim).

I am against hate. Stop the hate, be you muslim, Christian or otherwise. Stop it.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Vatican invites Usain Bolt to address religious liberty conference

So I came across this article about Usain Bolt. Did you know that he is Catholic? Well I did not. Well apparently he has been invited to address a Vatican conference on religious liberty.

David Kerr of the Catholic News Agency writes that the Vatican announced this on August 31st. Here is the article

“We look for a most fundamental common ground among different religions,” conference organizer Giovanna Abbiati told CNA Aug. 31. “Most of all we’d like to focus on the absolute value of religious freedom as a human right.”

The TEDx Via della Conciliazione conference will be held in Rome on April 19, 2013, and will focus on the theme “Religious freedom today.” It is being coordinated under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture’s “Courtyard of the Gentiles” outreach, which aims to create a “dialogue between believers and non-believers.”

Those already confirmed as participants are drawn from the worlds of sport, music, culture and academia, including Vlade Divac, the former NBA basketball player; Gloria Estefan, the Cuban-born American pop singer; and the Japanese architect Etsuro Sotoo.

It is the invitation of Bolt, however, that has made the headlines. The 26-year-old recently won three gold medals at the London Olympics. As a Catholic, Bolt is known for making the Sign of the Cross before racing competitively. He also bears the middle name Saint Leo.

Among the other sporting personalities invited to participate is the Ivory Coast soccer star Didier Drogba. However, the NFL quarterback and Evangelical Christian Tim Tebow has already informed organizers that he will not be able to attend.

“I am thrilled to hear art and beauty placed side by side with physical excellence,” said art historian and fellow participant Elizabeth Lev told CNA.

“The Greeks knew athletic prowess was a gift from the heavens, and needed to be cultivated and appreciated as such. Artistic talent, also God-given, was used in the ancient world to produce the stunning sculptures we admire today in the Vatican Museums, from the discus thrower to the heroic amazons,” said Lev, who also works at the Vatican Museums.

She said she is “very much looking forward” to “promoting a modern conversation about art, faith and athletic achievement” in the same way that the early Christian community “extolled those same qualities in their saints and spirituality.”

The TED – Technology, Entertainment and Design – initiative was founded in California in 1984 to disseminate “ideas worth sharing.” It allows speakers 18 minutes to state their case in whatever way they choose. Due to modern technology, many of the presentations have become online hits.

The addition of “x” to the event’s name means that it is being self-organized at the local level and is not being coordinated by TED.

“By hosting a TEDx in Vatican State we want to spread the message of peace, and (highlight) that religious freedom constitutes a very important dimension of a culture of peace,” said organizer Abbiati.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The letter

My mom passed in December last year. In July this year we get a letter adressed to the "Leid Family" A very nice lady sent us a letter, offering her sympathy and encouraging us to attend her church where others could pray with me and my family at the passing of our loved one. Her church is the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

I had heard that they looked in the newspaper obituaries and sent letters to the bereaved families - but some time after the passing. I had never experienced it before. So now I know it to be true.

At first I felt invaded. How rude of these people. They don't know me. How could they assume to involved themselves in my grief? Then I thought, How nice of them to reach out to others in mourning.

Well, whatever they were up to, it could not be better than the sendoff we gave mummy. We were fortunate to have a full house every night for the nine nights, with prayers, singing and sharing, and on one night the Deacon friend of the family led us in a Eucharistic Service. We had a Mass said for her on the fortieth day after her death and during that period (and after) my wife, children and myself prayed for her soul. Even now we still do.

So thank you people of the Seventh Day Adventist Church... but no thanks.

God Bless you in your ministry. May you carry lost souls to Jesus!