Archive for November, 2007

>Religious Extremism…It’s All Around Us!

November 30, 2007

>This shows how stupid and dangerous some people are. One of the YouTube questions for the Republicans was by Yasmin Elhady, a 21 year old Huntsville law student. Because she asked “What would you do as president to repair the image of America in the eyes of the world?”, she has received threats and insults and her religion (Islam) has been blamed for the violence of the few.

Should the entire Christian religion be blamed for the violence that occured during the Crusades? (well, maybe).

Should the entire Christian religion be blamed for the Oklahoma City bombing, carried out by Christian terrorist Timothy McVeigh? (No)

Should the entire Christian religion be blamed for the hatred expressed by the United Church of YHWH in Talledega, who are tryng to “sanitize their hatred” by removing the swastikas from their materials, yet still describe Jews as “enemies of Christ?” (never mind that Jesus was a Jew).

Christian terrorism is alive and well, and is just as big a threat as Islamic terrorism. Not because Christians go around blowing themselves up along with other innocent people, but because reasonable Christians ignore the extremists in their own religion, or just look at them with curiosity while they meet and promote their hatred (like in Athens a couple of months ago). And then they question why reasonable Muslims don’t do something about the Islamic extremists.

Thank goodness the FBI, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League monitor such groups. But the hatred of the Muslim religion based solely on the action of a few indicates a larger threat of hatred that could turn to violence if we aren’t careful.

If you go to the video linked above and read the comments you will be disgusted. But hey, this is what Christianity is about for those people. The misguided, but very vocal few. Watch out.

By the way, Yasmin, I agree with you that our image needs to be repaired. That is one reason why I am backing Hillary Clinton for president, because she has the best chance at doing this after she is elected. Certainly no republican will do this, as they are scrambling to come up with the best plan for continuing war after war in country after country.

And thank you Yasmin for having the courage to ask this question. I am proud of you as an American, and as an Alabamian, for speaking out. You have already been recognized by being named one of Glamour magazine’s Top 10 College Women for your activism. Keep it up, girl.

Gosh, and I haven’t even gotten started on the spiritual terrorism committed by Christians toward lesbians and gays. Some other day.

Religious Extremism…It’s All Around Us!

November 30, 2007

This shows how stupid and dangerous some people are. One of the YouTube questions for the Republicans was by Yasmin Elhady, a 21 year old Huntsville law student. Because she asked “What would you do as president to repair the image of America in the eyes of the world?”, she has received threats and insults and her religion (Islam) has been blamed for the violence of the few.

Should the entire Christian religion be blamed for the violence that occured during the Crusades? (well, maybe).

Should the entire Christian religion be blamed for the Oklahoma City bombing, carried out by Christian terrorist Timothy McVeigh? (No)

Should the entire Christian religion be blamed for the hatred expressed by the United Church of YHWH in Talledega, who are tryng to “sanitize their hatred” by removing the swastikas from their materials, yet still describe Jews as “enemies of Christ?” (never mind that Jesus was a Jew).

Christian terrorism is alive and well, and is just as big a threat as Islamic terrorism. Not because Christians go around blowing themselves up along with other innocent people, but because reasonable Christians ignore the extremists in their own religion, or just look at them with curiosity while they meet and promote their hatred (like in Athens a couple of months ago). And then they question why reasonable Muslims don’t do something about the Islamic extremists.

Thank goodness the FBI, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League monitor such groups. But the hatred of the Muslim religion based solely on the action of a few indicates a larger threat of hatred that could turn to violence if we aren’t careful.

If you go to the video linked above and read the comments you will be disgusted. But hey, this is what Christianity is about for those people. The misguided, but very vocal few. Watch out.

By the way, Yasmin, I agree with you that our image needs to be repaired. That is one reason why I am backing Hillary Clinton for president, because she has the best chance at doing this after she is elected. Certainly no republican will do this, as they are scrambling to come up with the best plan for continuing war after war in country after country.

And thank you Yasmin for having the courage to ask this question. I am proud of you as an American, and as an Alabamian, for speaking out. You have already been recognized by being named one of Glamour magazine’s Top 10 College Women for your activism. Keep it up, girl.

Gosh, and I haven’t even gotten started on the spiritual terrorism committed by Christians toward lesbians and gays. Some other day.

>Is Bessemer Opinions "Illegitimate?"

November 29, 2007

>Oh no, another conspiracy theory. But this one is really sweet.

It seems the Canadian divisions of Cadbury, Hershey and Nestle have developed a price fixing scheme in the chocolate bar industry.

This investigation may spread to other types of candy as well.

Does anybody think it is just coincidence that all gum used to be a nickle (later a quarter…and now who knows how much) a pack, regardless of brand, or that all candy bars used to be a dime, (then a quarter, now who knows how much)?

One thing is certain. The cost of litigation to fight these charges will be passed on to the Hershey bar eaters (that includes me) and Nestle Crunchophiles (me as well).

Here’s a quote from a local “News” paper, The Western Star, from editor Dale Jones’ column..

Now I will admit, I’m human, and it is a bit frustrating when loud mouth cowards hide behind anonymous names, taking shots at me and making false statements on illegitimate web blogs.”

From The American Heritage College Dictionary:

Illegitimate adj. 1. Against the law; illegal. 2. born out of wedlock 3. Gram. Not in correct usage. 4. Incorrectly deduced; illogical. 5. Biol. Unacceptable as a scientific name because of contradiction to the international rules of nomenclature. “

I did a quick and incomplete web search and did not find a lot of references to Dale Jones on other blogs, and with the reaction I have received from him after previous references I am sure he is referring to Bessemer Opinions. So let me assure you this blog is 1. Not against the law, 2. Not born out of wedlock, 3. Not a grammatical mistake (although it sometimes contains such errors), 4. Not incorrectly deduced or illogical (to some degree a matter of personal opinion, may apply to certain postings but certainly not the entire blog) and 5. Not primarily biological in nature and thus not subject to the rules of scientific nomenclature.

In the past Jones has accused me of hiding behind my blog (“Stop hiding behind this pathetic blog ” he once wrote), but I don’t see how that is possible, because the blog and it’s author are out there for the world to see. And I don’t post anonymously so I don’t think he is referring to me when he talks about cowards (although he did use “pathetic and extremely GUTLESS” when referring to me once).

So on the same day that I receive numerous congratulations for the success of this blog, it is called illegitimate in a local paper. I just wish he had used the name Bessemer Opinions…with the few additional readers that might have been directed here my rating could have climbed into the top ten! Well, maybe his readers will google his name after reading his column to see what has been said about him, and if so they will arrive at Bessemer Opinions.

Since I did read The Western Star this week, and since the editor does claim to present the news…wait…he actually says “you are going to be reading true, relevant, honest, factual, comprehensive information about what is going on in your neighbohood.” In fact, the word “news” is not found in his editorial about his paper.

And he is right. The front page this week has three articles, none of which are news, all of which are community stories. The Western Tribune, on the other hand has two news stories and one community information story on the front page. The “Star” entire front section has only one news story of sorts, and even it is of a religious nature, about Garywood Assembly of God Church moving, so really that is just community news.

In fact, there are no other stories of any kind in the 10 pages that make up the first section. Ads, announcements, continuation of front page stories, editorials, reader’s opinions, obituaries, social scene, the religion page and the Southern Styles column are all that is there.

In contrast, The Western Tribune, in addition to the news stories on the front page about the Bessemer City Council and the Mayor and money (something of great importance to Bessemer residents) and the luxury hotel deal that is about to die, has a news story about our water filter plant, news briefs, ads, sports, Chuck’s outdoor column, a news story about Larry Langford’s replacement, a community story about Festive Church Programs, Bubba’s column, and readers opinions, also in 10 pages.

Now, if you want weekly news about what is going on in our community, about what will affect you as a tax payer, where will you turn? The Western Tribune, of course (call 425-7171 to subscribe).

And if you want daily news about what is going on, return to Bessemer Opinions. There you go.

Is Bessemer Opinions "Illegitimate?"

November 29, 2007

Oh no, another conspiracy theory. But this one is really sweet.

It seems the Canadian divisions of Cadbury, Hershey and Nestle have developed a price fixing scheme in the chocolate bar industry.

This investigation may spread to other types of candy as well.

Does anybody think it is just coincidence that all gum used to be a nickle (later a quarter…and now who knows how much) a pack, regardless of brand, or that all candy bars used to be a dime, (then a quarter, now who knows how much)?

One thing is certain. The cost of litigation to fight these charges will be passed on to the Hershey bar eaters (that includes me) and Nestle Crunchophiles (me as well).

Here’s a quote from a local “News” paper, The Western Star, from editor Dale Jones’ column..

Now I will admit, I’m human, and it is a bit frustrating when loud mouth cowards hide behind anonymous names, taking shots at me and making false statements on illegitimate web blogs.”

From The American Heritage College Dictionary:

Illegitimate adj. 1. Against the law; illegal. 2. born out of wedlock 3. Gram. Not in correct usage. 4. Incorrectly deduced; illogical. 5. Biol. Unacceptable as a scientific name because of contradiction to the international rules of nomenclature. “

I did a quick and incomplete web search and did not find a lot of references to Dale Jones on other blogs, and with the reaction I have received from him after previous references I am sure he is referring to Bessemer Opinions. So let me assure you this blog is 1. Not against the law, 2. Not born out of wedlock, 3. Not a grammatical mistake (although it sometimes contains such errors), 4. Not incorrectly deduced or illogical (to some degree a matter of personal opinion, may apply to certain postings but certainly not the entire blog) and 5. Not primarily biological in nature and thus not subject to the rules of scientific nomenclature.

In the past Jones has accused me of hiding behind my blog (“Stop hiding behind this pathetic blog ” he once wrote), but I don’t see how that is possible, because the blog and it’s author are out there for the world to see. And I don’t post anonymously so I don’t think he is referring to me when he talks about cowards (although he did use “pathetic and extremely GUTLESS” when referring to me once).

So on the same day that I receive numerous congratulations for the success of this blog, it is called illegitimate in a local paper. I just wish he had used the name Bessemer Opinions…with the few additional readers that might have been directed here my rating could have climbed into the top ten! Well, maybe his readers will google his name after reading his column to see what has been said about him, and if so they will arrive at Bessemer Opinions.

Since I did read The Western Star this week, and since the editor does claim to present the news…wait…he actually says “you are going to be reading true, relevant, honest, factual, comprehensive information about what is going on in your neighbohood.” In fact, the word “news” is not found in his editorial about his paper.

And he is right. The front page this week has three articles, none of which are news, all of which are community stories. The Western Tribune, on the other hand has two news stories and one community information story on the front page. The “Star” entire front section has only one news story of sorts, and even it is of a religious nature, about Garywood Assembly of God Church moving, so really that is just community news.

In fact, there are no other stories of any kind in the 10 pages that make up the first section. Ads, announcements, continuation of front page stories, editorials, reader’s opinions, obituaries, social scene, the religion page and the Southern Styles column are all that is there.

In contrast, The Western Tribune, in addition to the news stories on the front page about the Bessemer City Council and the Mayor and money (something of great importance to Bessemer residents) and the luxury hotel deal that is about to die, has a news story about our water filter plant, news briefs, ads, sports, Chuck’s outdoor column, a news story about Larry Langford’s replacement, a community story about Festive Church Programs, Bubba’s column, and readers opinions, also in 10 pages.

Now, if you want weekly news about what is going on in our community, about what will affect you as a tax payer, where will you turn? The Western Tribune, of course (call 425-7171 to subscribe).

And if you want daily news about what is going on, return to Bessemer Opinions. There you go.

>Artur Davis Plays to a Packed House

November 28, 2007

>But first…for this week at least, Bessemer Opinions was recognized as the 11th most influential blog in the state. See the list here. It changes each Sunday. Keep coming back and Bessemer Opinions will move up in the rankings. Bessemer Opinion’s ranking will appear over to the left (Blogging Communities) on weeks that we are ranked.

Also, Bessemer Opinions now has a link on the Alabama Democratic Party’s page. See the list of links on their page here.

Yes Artur Davis showed up last night, accompanied by his good friend, earliest supporter, and the “first person to give me a $1000 check,” (a paraphrased quote), the Mayor of Bessemer, Ed May. The congressman’s assistant said there were 122 people present, an SRO crowd.

I was somewhat surprised that not one question was raised during the hour and a half question and answer period about the War in Iraq or about the patriot act. People are more concerned about the economy, gas prices, education, health care and infrastructure. The was one “big issue” question and that was about immigration.

Davis supports tight border security, and a guest worker program. He would allow undocumented aliens that have been in the country working for 7 years to have guest worker status and a path to citizenship that puts them at the end of the line and requires them to pay a fine. For those who have been here 2 – 7 years, he supports guest worker status, but no path to citizenship. For those here less than two years…sorry Charlie, you are out of here. He also favors continuing to allow children of illegals to receive food stamps (the ony benefit they qualify for…and who wants to see kids starve) and attend schools (better to educate them than keep them on the streets from 8 to 3 every day).

A local pastor asked a question about hate crimes, and showed that he has been influenced by the misrepresentations of the legislation spread by the religious right. He said he had heard that preachers would be restricted from preaching about homosexuality and if they did they would be charged with a hate crime. Not so, said Davis, who helped draft the bill that passed the house. Nothing in the bill restricts our first amendment right to free speech. The bill only provides for harsher penalties for physically attacking a person because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.

I raised my hand at every opportunity and was finally recognized for the last question, and I asked about recent vote against ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act, adding that a no vote gives the appearance that everyone should not be given the same rights and protections. He said he agreed that the government should not be making employment decisions based on sexual orientation, but that he doesn’t think the government has the right to tell individuals who they can hire and who they can’t. He mentioned that churches were exempt, but countered that religious individuals were not, and he thinks they should be.

Of course he didn’t mention that it is the churches and the religious individuals who are at fault here for not recognizing that gay people came about just like everyone else and that the church should accept gay people for who they are. Actually, he did sort of allude to that, saying the churches should be more open and not restrict themselves to people who are just like they are…if they do they are missing the point.

I visited with Davis after the event and reminded him that I serve on a committee for which he is the chair (the Health Committee of the Black Belt Action Commission)Commission). He remembered.

I give him credit for the work he has done in helping the Black Belt, but he pointed out that while improvements are being made there (such as unemployment rates in all the Black Belt Counties being in single digits…a change from just a few years back) we are slipping in urban areas when it comes to poverty. The poverty rate in Jefferson County is over 19%. He tied this in with the unemployment rate in Jefferson County, at 2.7% and drew the conclusion that there are a lot of poor people out there who are working.

He might have read my blog yesterday because he mentioned the Army Corp of Engineers as being the most dysfunctional and least efficient government agency known. He was speaking about flood plains and water but levees tie right in there with that.

ENDA passed the house without Davis’s vote. He admits that attitudes are still evolving on gay issues and that in a few years as young people grow up and vote that more and more rights and protections will be afforded. It’s a shame that he is not on the forefront of that effort, but maybe, as he said, his own attitude toward the LGBT community will evolve and he will see that most gays, like most blacks or most poor or most women, are hard working spiritual people who just want to move forward with their own lives and see our country do the same.

Artur Davis Plays to a Packed House

November 28, 2007

But first…for this week at least, Bessemer Opinions was recognized as the 11th most influential blog in the state. See the list here. It changes each Sunday. Keep coming back and Bessemer Opinions will move up in the rankings. Bessemer Opinion’s ranking will appear over to the left (Blogging Communities) on weeks that we are ranked.

Also, Bessemer Opinions now has a link on the Alabama Democratic Party’s page. See the list of links on their page here.

Yes Artur Davis showed up last night, accompanied by his good friend, earliest supporter, and the “first person to give me a $1000 check,” (a paraphrased quote), the Mayor of Bessemer, Ed May. The congressman’s assistant said there were 122 people present, an SRO crowd.

I was somewhat surprised that not one question was raised during the hour and a half question and answer period about the War in Iraq or about the patriot act. People are more concerned about the economy, gas prices, education, health care and infrastructure. The was one “big issue” question and that was about immigration.

Davis supports tight border security, and a guest worker program. He would allow undocumented aliens that have been in the country working for 7 years to have guest worker status and a path to citizenship that puts them at the end of the line and requires them to pay a fine. For those who have been here 2 – 7 years, he supports guest worker status, but no path to citizenship. For those here less than two years…sorry Charlie, you are out of here. He also favors continuing to allow children of illegals to receive food stamps (the ony benefit they qualify for…and who wants to see kids starve) and attend schools (better to educate them than keep them on the streets from 8 to 3 every day).

A local pastor asked a question about hate crimes, and showed that he has been influenced by the misrepresentations of the legislation spread by the religious right. He said he had heard that preachers would be restricted from preaching about homosexuality and if they did they would be charged with a hate crime. Not so, said Davis, who helped draft the bill that passed the house. Nothing in the bill restricts our first amendment right to free speech. The bill only provides for harsher penalties for physically attacking a person because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.

I raised my hand at every opportunity and was finally recognized for the last question, and I asked about recent vote against ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act, adding that a no vote gives the appearance that everyone should not be given the same rights and protections. He said he agreed that the government should not be making employment decisions based on sexual orientation, but that he doesn’t think the government has the right to tell individuals who they can hire and who they can’t. He mentioned that churches were exempt, but countered that religious individuals were not, and he thinks they should be.

Of course he didn’t mention that it is the churches and the religious individuals who are at fault here for not recognizing that gay people came about just like everyone else and that the church should accept gay people for who they are. Actually, he did sort of allude to that, saying the churches should be more open and not restrict themselves to people who are just like they are…if they do they are missing the point.

I visited with Davis after the event and reminded him that I serve on a committee for which he is the chair (the Health Committee of the Black Belt Action Commission)Commission). He remembered.

I give him credit for the work he has done in helping the Black Belt, but he pointed out that while improvements are being made there (such as unemployment rates in all the Black Belt Counties being in single digits…a change from just a few years back) we are slipping in urban areas when it comes to poverty. The poverty rate in Jefferson County is over 19%. He tied this in with the unemployment rate in Jefferson County, at 2.7% and drew the conclusion that there are a lot of poor people out there who are working.

He might have read my blog yesterday because he mentioned the Army Corp of Engineers as being the most dysfunctional and least efficient government agency known. He was speaking about flood plains and water but levees tie right in there with that.

ENDA passed the house without Davis’s vote. He admits that attitudes are still evolving on gay issues and that in a few years as young people grow up and vote that more and more rights and protections will be afforded. It’s a shame that he is not on the forefront of that effort, but maybe, as he said, his own attitude toward the LGBT community will evolve and he will see that most gays, like most blacks or most poor or most women, are hard working spiritual people who just want to move forward with their own lives and see our country do the same.

>Artur Davis, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and New Orleans Levees

November 27, 2007

>The Birmingham News mistakenly reported that Congressman Artur Davis would hold his town hall meeting at Bessemer’s City Council Chambers tonight. The meeting will actually be at the Bessemer Civic Center…from 6 to 8 PM. I spoke to someone in the congressman’s office this morning and confirmed that the meeting would indeed be at the civic center. This is a good chance to hear our congressman speak and ask questions and maybe get answers regarding some of his questionable votes. (or maybe you support all of his votes…still a good chance to go and see him).

From The Human Rights Campaign:

Translators fluent in 5 languages. Doctors trained in trauma medicine. Pilots prepared to save lives.

We all know “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is wrong. But do you know just how wrong? In the 14 years since it was introduced, the U.S. military has discharged no fewer than 12,000 American troops under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

This includes hundreds of specialists whose skills are badly needed in our current military conflicts. Their commitment and expertise have gone to waste.

Starting Friday, we’re honoring these men and women by placing 12,000 flags on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

See HRC’s ad about this event here: One Minute ad

***********************************

In New Orleans we would hope that recovery is continuing, and with the opening of the St. Charles street car line and tourism rebounding you would think so. But will they be protected from the next storm? The Army Corp of Engineers would lead us to believe they would, but are they the ones we should be listening to?

Dr. Ray Seed, one of the chairs of the Univeristy of California Berkeley committee that is investigating the failure of the levees in New Orleans following hurricane Katrina, has filed an ethics complaint which documents how the Corp of Engineers systematicaly and intentionally hid their mistakes and intimidated anyone who attempted to intervene.

His complaint alleges that this was done with the help and complicity of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This is the same group the Army Corp chose to review the Corp-sponsored levee investigation. Interesting.

If the Corp was at fault for the condition and/or the design of the levees which failed, why should we believe what they tell us about the levees now?

Concerned goups are calling for an “8/29 Investigation,” a truly independent and truly complete analysis of the flood protection failures in metro New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Visit
Levees.org to find out how you can support this effort.

See you tonight at the Bessemer Civic Center!

Artur Davis, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and New Orleans Levees

November 27, 2007

The Birmingham News mistakenly reported that Congressman Artur Davis would hold his town hall meeting at Bessemer’s City Council Chambers tonight. The meeting will actually be at the Bessemer Civic Center…from 6 to 8 PM. I spoke to someone in the congressman’s office this morning and confirmed that the meeting would indeed be at the civic center. This is a good chance to hear our congressman speak and ask questions and maybe get answers regarding some of his questionable votes. (or maybe you support all of his votes…still a good chance to go and see him).

From The Human Rights Campaign:

Translators fluent in 5 languages. Doctors trained in trauma medicine. Pilots prepared to save lives.

We all know “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is wrong. But do you know just how wrong? In the 14 years since it was introduced, the U.S. military has discharged no fewer than 12,000 American troops under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

This includes hundreds of specialists whose skills are badly needed in our current military conflicts. Their commitment and expertise have gone to waste.

Starting Friday, we’re honoring these men and women by placing 12,000 flags on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

See HRC’s ad about this event here: One Minute ad

***********************************

In New Orleans we would hope that recovery is continuing, and with the opening of the St. Charles street car line and tourism rebounding you would think so. But will they be protected from the next storm? The Army Corp of Engineers would lead us to believe they would, but are they the ones we should be listening to?

Dr. Ray Seed, one of the chairs of the Univeristy of California Berkeley committee that is investigating the failure of the levees in New Orleans following hurricane Katrina, has filed an ethics complaint which documents how the Corp of Engineers systematicaly and intentionally hid their mistakes and intimidated anyone who attempted to intervene.

His complaint alleges that this was done with the help and complicity of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This is the same group the Army Corp chose to review the Corp-sponsored levee investigation. Interesting.

If the Corp was at fault for the condition and/or the design of the levees which failed, why should we believe what they tell us about the levees now?

Concerned goups are calling for an “8/29 Investigation,” a truly independent and truly complete analysis of the flood protection failures in metro New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Visit
Levees.org to find out how you can support this effort.

See you tonight at the Bessemer Civic Center!

>Sacred Places

November 26, 2007

>U. S. News and World Report recently had a cover story titled Sacred Places that explored various sites deemed to be of particular importance to religious or spiritual groups. Included were stories about the Sanctuary at Chimayo in New Mexico, built on a site of centuries’ importance to the ancient Puebloan communities; the Kalasasaya Temple at Tiwanacu, Bolivia, a prominent Incan site; along with more traditional sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerulalem and The Western Wall in the same city. Islamic and Hindu sites and others are recognized as well, with as much attention given to them as the Christian and Jewish sites.

Their online site, linked above, provides the articles and photos and more, and is worth visiting.

I wonder if Caritas in north Shelby County could be considered a sacred place. Caritas was founded in 1987 by Tony Colafrancesco to promote Medjugorje, the village in Bosnia-Herzegovina where children saw visions of the Virgin Mary.

From The Post Herald : (who knew that the Post Herald articles could still be found online!?)

“The connection between Caritas and Medjugorje was cemented about a year after Colafrancesco created Caritas, in 1988, when visionary Marija Pavlovic Lunetti came to Birmingham to donate a kidney to her brother, Andrija, at UAB Hospital. While in Alabama, Lunetti stayed in Colafrancesco’s Bear Creek Road home in Sterrett, where she said she had a vision in one of the bedrooms.

“According to one report, Lunetti had visions of Mary at the hospital while recovering from the operation.

“Once word got out that Lunetti was in the area, pilgrims flocked from all across the country to Sterrett, jamming the Shelby County roads. Thousands of people were at Caritas on Thanksgiving Day when Lunetti claimed to see Mary in the 90-acre field next to Colafrancesco’s home.

“In 1999, Lunetti returned to Caritas for a week of worship. At the time, Caritas members estimated the event drew 20,000 to 30,000 pilgrims. “

Lunetti has returned a time or two and when she does, thousands (or tens of thousands) flock to the site.

Of course Caritas has been called a cult and lawsuits filed and accusations made. Regardless of all that, the site has a sacred quality about it. I first visited in the 1990’s and returned several times, although not recently. And I have not donated any money. And I don’t even know if the place still exists. (Well, the “place” cetainly exists, but maybe not in the way I remember it).

But if someone, in this instance Marija Pavlovic Lunetti, has such a profound spiritual experience there, it is a sacred place. Many places are sacred to individuals, and no one’s spiritual experience should be ignored.

All of these experiences: the ones experienced by the ancients described in the U. S. News and World Report articles, the ones in a field in Sterrett, Alabama, and your own experiences as well as mine, are part of the (New Age like) spirit of the world. Hopefully the world balance of spirituality is tilted toward the positive, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Sacred Places

November 26, 2007

U. S. News and World Report recently had a cover story titled Sacred Places that explored various sites deemed to be of particular importance to religious or spiritual groups. Included were stories about the Sanctuary at Chimayo in New Mexico, built on a site of centuries’ importance to the ancient Puebloan communities; the Kalasasaya Temple at Tiwanacu, Bolivia, a prominent Incan site; along with more traditional sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerulalem and The Western Wall in the same city. Islamic and Hindu sites and others are recognized as well, with as much attention given to them as the Christian and Jewish sites.

Their online site, linked above, provides the articles and photos and more, and is worth visiting.

I wonder if Caritas in north Shelby County could be considered a sacred place. Caritas was founded in 1987 by Tony Colafrancesco to promote Medjugorje, the village in Bosnia-Herzegovina where children saw visions of the Virgin Mary.

From The Post Herald : (who knew that the Post Herald articles could still be found online!?)

“The connection between Caritas and Medjugorje was cemented about a year after Colafrancesco created Caritas, in 1988, when visionary Marija Pavlovic Lunetti came to Birmingham to donate a kidney to her brother, Andrija, at UAB Hospital. While in Alabama, Lunetti stayed in Colafrancesco’s Bear Creek Road home in Sterrett, where she said she had a vision in one of the bedrooms.

“According to one report, Lunetti had visions of Mary at the hospital while recovering from the operation.

“Once word got out that Lunetti was in the area, pilgrims flocked from all across the country to Sterrett, jamming the Shelby County roads. Thousands of people were at Caritas on Thanksgiving Day when Lunetti claimed to see Mary in the 90-acre field next to Colafrancesco’s home.

“In 1999, Lunetti returned to Caritas for a week of worship. At the time, Caritas members estimated the event drew 20,000 to 30,000 pilgrims. “

Lunetti has returned a time or two and when she does, thousands (or tens of thousands) flock to the site.

Of course Caritas has been called a cult and lawsuits filed and accusations made. Regardless of all that, the site has a sacred quality about it. I first visited in the 1990’s and returned several times, although not recently. And I have not donated any money. And I don’t even know if the place still exists. (Well, the “place” cetainly exists, but maybe not in the way I remember it).

But if someone, in this instance Marija Pavlovic Lunetti, has such a profound spiritual experience there, it is a sacred place. Many places are sacred to individuals, and no one’s spiritual experience should be ignored.

All of these experiences: the ones experienced by the ancients described in the U. S. News and World Report articles, the ones in a field in Sterrett, Alabama, and your own experiences as well as mine, are part of the (New Age like) spirit of the world. Hopefully the world balance of spirituality is tilted toward the positive, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.