A doll too far?

Photo by by weisserstier from Wien, Austria
Photo by by weisserstier from Wien, Austria

Virgin Mary Barbie.  Crucified Jesus Ken.

No, it isn’t a joke.  It is part of an “art show” in Buenos Aires that features iconic Barbie (and Ken) dressed as various religious figures.

I suppose this had to happen.  There is a Barbie for nearly everything, which you can experience on her website.  Barbie is celebrated around the world.

To the manufacturer’s credit, you won’t find the controversial Virgin Mary and Crucified Jesus dolls.  As previously stated, they exist only in the art show.

The art show is generating controversy, which many art shows strive to produce.  As you might expect, some Catholics find the dolls disrespectful.  Others say the Catholic should lighten up and enjoy the show.

Muslims would complain if the show featured Ken as the prophet Mohammed.  But there is a limit to the bravery of the artists involved, so they don’t have any Muslim figures.  I guess they don’t want to be really, really controversial.

Like I said, this is an art show, so don’t expect to wander over to your local Walmart and buy a Virgin Mary Barbie.  But there are plenty of other options, like Haunted Beauty Zombie Bride Barbie.  She isn’t a joke – but she should be.

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Witness to a miracle

Saint+Maria+GorettiLast night, I turned left from North Avenue onto Wolf Road in Northlake, Illinois.  Absent delays, my wife and I would be on time for the 7 p.m. Mass at St John Vianney Church.

It was at that moment that the unexpected loomed before me.  Police cruisers guarded the driveways to the church parking lot.  A pair of burly cops prevented people from entering the church.  Lights flashed from squad cars and fire vehicles.  A line of people stretched for several blocks.

The authorities seemed to have blocked all access to my place of worship.

But I was thrilled. A miracle!

Our parish was hosting the relics of St Maria Goretti.  And so many people showed up that the fire chief was limiting how many could enter the church.

Having more people than the church could accommodate is not a problem we ever had before.  In fact, we typically have plenty of room for visitors.

To me, seeing my parish overflowing with the faithful was, well, a miracle.  And perhaps there was a second miracle last night; those waiting in line showed joy and patience.  Like me, they seemed to be excited that such a huge crowd appeared – even if it meant a long wait to venerate the relics of a remarkable saint.

If you don’t know the story of Maria Goretti, I recommend doing a little research. The headline version:  11-year-old girl defends her virtue from evil-intending neighbor, who stabs her to death, but she forgives him with her last breaths and he goes to prison, has a massive conversion, is released and goes into religious life and, perhaps, will one day be a saint as well.

Maria’s story is about forgiveness.  I believe the crowds last night show how many souls need and want forgiveness.  I’m also reminded how important to ask forgiveness from those I’ve hurt – and to forgive those who have hurt me.

Into the dark

photo-1431440869543-efaf3388c585 (1)The burly workers crept onto the lawn of the government building under cover of darkness.  Guarded by more than two dozen state police, they removed a stone slab engraved with the Ten Commandments.

They moved as quickly and quietly as possible.  They were empowered by a court order, but their actions countered the will of the God-fearing, God-loving population.  The predominantly Christian populace saw this as further erosion of religious freedom, more evident of a government that had come to mock faith, family and all that Christians hold dear.

Is this Germany during Hitler’s rise?  Is it the Soviet Union under Stalin?  Are we in China under Mao?

No.  It is 2015 and welcome to Oklahoma.

Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain
Where the wav-in wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain
Oklahoma ev’ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin lazy circles in the sky

Oscar Hammerstein

Oklahoma.  Home of the land rush and Boomer Sooners.  Oklahoma.  Rugged ranch hands, brave homesteaders, stalwart farmers.  This is a place of strong, faith-filled people.

Yet it also is a place where the courts decided that it violates our constitution to have the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol.

This betrayal of our founding values happened in the dark of night, but it didn’t happen overnight.  It has been a creeping assault by evil, gradually transforming America from a nation under God to, well, a nation under the dark side.

It is time for our elected officials and people of faith from coast to coast to stand up and say, “We are a Christian nation.”  While we still can.