Friday, September 12, 2008

Desecration


It’s been a busy summer, but not so busy that some desecrations should pass by unnoticed. I am talking about the status of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in the North Side of Pittsburgh. The church was shuttered years ago and was stripped of its religious objects to make way for its sale to a would-be developer, now confirmed con man Rafaelo Follieri and his Follieri Group.
To get a sense of what was lost when workers tore out the marble altars, pews, and other objects from the church, check out the Post-Gazette photo of the church that is above. Antique marble altars literally were torn out of the building. Religious objects were taken away and allegedly disbursed among members of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale, the estranged sister congregation of the North Side church.
Why? Because some Italian con-man whose uncle is a Cardinal, and who at the time was dating lovely actress Anne Hathaway, said he wanted to buy the building. It makes you wonder if the Diocese is as swayed by celebrity as several investors, including Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle, appear to have been when they trusted the Italian con-man with their money.
But develop the church into what? When I asked Father Ron Lengwin, spokesman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, what the building would be used for, he said he didn’t know, possibly apartments or senior housing. So, essentially the Diocese had broken off negotiations with Pittsburgh Croatian Catholics that wanted to save the church to create a national shrine, and had instead gone for the higher offer of Follieri, a person they obviously hadn’t vetted. It makes you think that perhaps the Diocese was biased against those who wanted to save the church. Some of the former parishioners have said as much, but really, actions speak louder than words.
With behavior like this, it’s no wonder that the Catholic Church in Pittsburgh is losing members. Of course there are many, many good clergy and lay people in the faith, but the actions of a few can poison the well of dialogue for others. The Diocese needs to clear this situation up, by seeing that the church is sold to the preservationists for a nominal fee, and by ensuring that the religious objects are placed back inside the oldest Croatian church in America.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What Obama Nation?

I’ve been biting my tongue for a while, not saying anything. But I feel that I have to do so now, though I’m sure it will do no good. So I must ask, how the heck did this year’s Democratic presidential nomination come down to a relatively unknown and highly liberal elitist first-term black senator, and an arch-liberal elitist white woman senator who at least half of the country hates like sin?
I’m starting to think the Democrats like suffering, and that they unconsciously shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to presidential races. Perhaps their agenda is to allow the Republicans to take the White House, so they can blame the nation’s problems on the party. If so, they’re halfway to succeeding at that goal.
Remember, this is supposed to be the year the Dems take back the presidency, because people are so fed up with the warmongering Repubs. Yet the gap between Methuselah McCain and Sonyboy Obama is closing fast. The answer is obviously the Saltine Factor.
Before you call me a racist, I have to say I hope that Obama wins. But as this presidential race goes on, I am less sanguine that he will be victorious. Why? Because this country is full of crackers who’d sooner vote for a parrot then vote a black man (or a woman) into office as president. Could this be a “Dewey Wins” upset of an election? You bet it could.
The pandering of this election astounds even my cynical self. The Dems wager an arrogant and inexperienced ivy-league educated black man. The Repubs raise the stakes with a gun-toting, fetus-centric, wolf-hating and inexperienced white woman as vice-presidential candidate. Palin’s eyeglasses are better traveled and more experienced than she is, yet she is just one failed heartbeat from the red button and the big presidential chair. The way things are going, she could be your next vice-president, or president.
Why might it be so? Because the United States is a racist, class-based society, with deep divisions that a presidential election won’t fix. White flight is still happening, folks—if you don’t believe me, ask Penn Hills School District educators what is happening in their mostly black (though historically white) community. Their football team was ranked #1 until a minute ago, and then was pummeled in the season opener, after the school board replaced the winning white coach with a black coach. Ask Penn Hills folks why so many of the whites and many middle class blacks are leaving Allegheny County’s most populous suburb. Ask the residents there why one of their elementary principals left the district after he wasn’t allowed to try new things to improve student performance, and then was hired by Pittsburgh City School District for $20,000 more?
Racism in this country doesn’t go one way, like water going downhill. It’s all over the place—pitting blacks against whites, and vice versa. The only Obama Nation I know of is in the minds of a lot of Democrats and liberals. But this Independent voter isn’t buying the idea that Obama, who worshiped in a church led by an outspoken whitey-hating “reverend”—who even had the cracker crusher baptize his kids—hasn't capitalized on the deep divisions in this country.
Again, I am rooting for Barry. But I’m not so sure he’ll win, or if he’ll do much good if he does win. I just hate the alternative.