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The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

This & That Archives

#1 tip for holiday decorating

posted by jmcgee

Use spellcheck.

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Incredible edible: a gingerbread house of God

posted by jmcgee

Just in time for the holidays, a chef in Washington has created an extraordinary gingerbread house — er, church — of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. From the Georgetown Patch:(with a H/T to CNS) Crafting gingerbread […]

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“These Hands Bring Me Jesus”

posted by jmcgee

That’s the name of an ambitious, surprisingly powerful project undertaken by photographer Steven Golder. He’s been taking photographs of hands — some of them breathtaking in their simplicity and beauty — but not just any hands. They are the hands […]

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And wash it down with a little eggnog!

posted by jmcgee

From a friend’s Facebook page.  Oy to the world…  

Never. Ever. Give. Up.

posted by jmcgee

An amazing story, and a stunning video, below. My one question: what’s wrong with her? They never explain.     

Bedazzled: incredible Christmas lights

posted by jmcgee

Need something to wake you up? Click on this, and turn up the volume. VH1 TV Shows | Music Videos | Celebrity Photos | News & Gossip

O Tannenbaum?

posted by jmcgee

No, you aren’t seeing things. That is, indeed, an illuminated cross inside a very patriotic Christmas tree. Want one? Read about it here.

Just say Noah: full scale replica of ark planned

posted by jmcgee

Don’t pack your bags yet, but some biblically-minded entrepreneurs are planning a Noah-themed tourist attraction: The same group behind the Creation Museum is partnering with another group to build a full-scale version of Noah’s Ark that will anchor a family […]

More numerous than the stars…

posted by jmcgee

That was God’s promise to Abraham about the number of his descendants.  And – it turns out – that number may be even bigger than previously thought. From the New York Times: Scientists said Wednesday that the number of stars […]

Advent and the sound of silence

posted by jmcgee

Well, how is YOUR Advent going so far? I woke up Thanksgiving morning with a sore throat, which quickly turned into a cough, and I’ve been sniffling and wheezing ever since. (And for this, I got a flu shot?) I’m […]

Leslie Nielsen, RIP

posted by jmcgee

Another icon leaves us. But thank God for YouTube. Who can ever forget this?

Most realistic CGI ever?

posted by jmcgee

Maybe.  Get a load of this striking ad for Silestone kitchen countertops, and read all about it.

Heeeeere’s Jesus!

posted by jmcgee

The video below has been circulating for a while — YouTube says it was first posted three years ago — but I hadn’t seen it until now. It’s comedian Steve Harvey’s “Introduction to Jesus,” (a man, as he notes, who […]

Thanksgiving dinner…in a cake?

posted by jmcgee

Those who thought the “cherpumple” was horrifying should get a load of this: Details, along with the recipe, can be found at Chow.com: Whether this Thanksgiving centerpiece incites horror, amazement, or confusion when it’s served, it’s certain to evoke some […]

Just desserts

posted by jmcgee

Ladies and gentlemen, behold, the “cherpumple”: three layers of pie baked together (cherry, pumpkin, apple).  Wash it all down with a tall, frothy glass of Pepto.  Details. 

How to Handel a crowded food court

posted by jmcgee

Flash mob strikes again! This time, in a shopping mall food court. Hallelujah! H/T Fr. Steve

Just in time for the holidays…

posted by jmcgee

…and the busy travel season, comes this elegantly crafted ode to one of the ugliest places on earth, New York’s Pennsylvania Station: Don’t stop to contemplate, if you’re there — you’ll be trampled. This holiday season, the quicker you shove […]

World’s largest Jesus statue dedicated in Poland

posted by jmcgee

Amazing. This isn’t something you can fit on your dashboard.  Details here. Video, below.

Food porn: read, then go to confession

posted by jmcgee

“‘You’ve never had hotcakes like these!’” says Bob Evans’ menu. “We take two stuffed hotcakes, stack them with vanilla cream cheese, add more delicious toppings, then finish with whipped topping and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.’” — Nearly 1400 calories […]

I bet it was Standing Room Only

posted by jmcgee

H/T Jesus Creed

Conan’s priest arrested again — and he’s speaking out

posted by jmcgee

This fellow needs a retreat. Or something. Details: A suspended Roman Catholic priest once accused of stalking late night TV personality Conan O’Brien has now been charged with harassing a Boston TV journalist. Cohasset police say the Rev. David Ajemian […]

Let’s play Pope-opoly!

posted by jmcgee

A board game based on a pope? Yep: Poles have a new way to remember the late Pope John Paul II: a board game that celebrates the Polish-born pontiff’s extensive travels. Marek Oczkowski, head of the Polish Board Games publisher, […]

It happened 35 years ago today: the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

posted by jmcgee

Who can forget the haunting ballad by Gordon Lightfoot?  The Edmund Fitzgerald went down on November 10, 1975.   Years later, the tragedy formed part of the first homily I ever delivered in homiletics class (and which I preached again […]

God in the details: why we love Conan

posted by jmcgee

This ad for American Express is clever, artful, lavish — and hilarious. I can’t believe he did this. 

King of kings: world’s tallest statue of Jesus

posted by jmcgee

Incredible, but true: That is one giant Jesus. Workers in a small town in Poland have completed what they say is the world’s biggest statue of Jesus Christ. At 167 feet tall, the one in Swiebodzin soars even higher than […]

Home run: nuns score big by auctioning rare baseball card

posted by jmcgee

Further proof that God is a baseball fan: School Sister of Notre Dame Virginia Muller grew up rooting for the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, N.Y. Ministering in Baltimore, she has more recently adopted the Orioles as her hometown […]

Sparky Anderson, “a great human being and a man of faith”

posted by jmcgee

The baseball world is mourning the passing of legendary manager Sparky Anderson, who died today at age 76. But as much as his heart belonged to baseball, it also belonged to his Catholic faith, which he embraced as an adult: […]

Justin Bieber: “I believe Jesus died on a cross for my sins”

posted by jmcgee

“Hollywood is … a scary place. There’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of bad things, but there’s also a lot of good things. I’m able to live my dream, I’m able to do a lot of good things. […]

What if you were shopping…

posted by jmcgee

…and suddenly everybody did THIS (see below)?   It happened at Macy’s last weekend, when 600 members of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, mingling with the other shoppers, unexpectedly burst into the “Hallelujah!” chorus. Just watch and try not to smile. […]

’80s flashback: “The Living Years”

posted by jmcgee

A friend posted this on her Facebook page. It struck me as particularly apt for November, the month of falling leaves and darkening skies, when we remember in a special way those who have gone before us, and pray that […]

Elvis Costello: “Nuns taught me to read…”

posted by jmcgee

The musician weighs in on religion and his Catholic upbringing in an interview with the Globe and Mail: There are a number of songs addressing religion on the album, but they don’t seem anti-religious so much as opposed to the […]

“When October goes…”

posted by jmcgee

For the last day of the month: what may arguably be Barry Manilow’s best song (or, at least, my own personal favorite), set to a gorgeous lyric by the legendary Johnny Mercer. The Wikipedia entry on this song says: In […]

Best. Light show. Ever.

posted by jmcgee

Decorating your home with synchronized Christmas lights and music is so 1980. Why not decorate for other holidays, too?  Check out the incredible Halloween display below, set to “Thriller.” Wow. I mean, just WOW. 

For Halloween, a musical interlude

posted by jmcgee

Here’s a sweet treat for your candy sack: a classic musical moment from Frank Oz’s “Little Shop of Horrors.” Ellen Green warbles about her longing for a better life in sunny suburbia. (“I cook like Betty Crocker, and I look […]

Happy Halloween, from the USCCB

posted by jmcgee

The USCCB tweeted a short time ago that they were decorating pumpkins around the office. The entry below was a favorite.

Knights of Columbus restoring JFK’s grave

posted by jmcgee

It evidently needs some work, and the Knights are stepping up to pay for it: Workers plan to begin restoration work on Thursday of walls near John F. Kennedy’s gravesite where words from his 1961 inaugural address are inscribed. The […]

People are awesome!

posted by jmcgee

Don’t believe it? Just watch. (Uh, but don’t try this at home…) You will be amazed. I promise. 

RIP the Walkman

posted by jmcgee

And now a moment of silence — literally — as a once-beloved icon of the ’80s is laid to rest: Sony will stop selling its Walkman portable tape player in Japan, the land of that once-iconic device’s birth. That’s “weirdest” […]

Another good reason to skip dessert

posted by jmcgee

A tasty treat from the Arizona State Fair. Yum. How long did it take them to think up that name?

Meet New York’s subway preachers

posted by jmcgee

They are an exotic, quirky breed. Now the New York Times offers this look at some of them: The graffiti has been replaced by advertising. The tokens have been replaced by MetroCards. But the subway preachers are a constant. They […]

Apocalypse when: did we miss it?

posted by jmcgee

Well, maybe. Or maybe not. Details: The end of the world is coming! Or here, maybe. Or did it already happen? It’s a good news/bad news situation for believers in the 2012 Mayan apocalypse. The good news is that the […]

Cheers: priest opens bar in a Roman crypt

posted by jmcgee

Not only that, but it’s named for a beloved pope. From AFP: The beer is cheap, the waiters are talkative and the music is 1960s Motown — but the new pub that opened its doors this week in a historic […]

The priest in the Hawaiian shirt

posted by jmcgee

Earlier, I posted on a priest developing a reality TV series. In a time-honored fashion, someone at a local TV station saw the story, and has tracked down the priest for a profile. See below. View more news videos at: […]

Homer Simpson, Catholic

posted by jmcgee

So says the Vatican newspaper — and when is it ever wrong? Details: He is an idle, pea-brained glutton with a permanent craving for doughnuts and Duff beer, but Homer Simpson has been declared a true Catholic by the Vatican’s […]

Need to jam? There’s an app for that

posted by jmcgee

I love New York.   H/T Paul Snatchko.

Barbara Billingsley, RIP

posted by jmcgee

The iconic ’50s TV star (“Leave It to Beaver”) passed away today at the age of 94. Her obit is here. But some of us will always remember her, first and foremost, for this classic moment from “Airplane.”

Patricia Heaton, a Feminist for Life

posted by jmcgee

Everybody loved her on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” (which starred some guy from my parish in Forest Hills). And now there’s even more reasons to admire and appreciate Patricia Heaton: Actress Patricia Heaton is well-known for playing a harried-but-loving wife and […]

One dam thing after another

posted by jmcgee

Wow. Amazing video from Italy, at Lake Cingino Dam in the alps, of Ibex taking a stroll along the face of the dam. Details and more pictures here.

The perfect car for commuting to Spacely Sprockets

posted by jmcgee

The self-driving automobile is no longer a fantasy. All they have to do now is figure out how to make it fly. Check this out: Anyone driving the twists of Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles recently may […]

“Smell like a monster”

posted by jmcgee

An inspired little take-off on those Old Spice commercials, courtesy The Muppets. Go ahead. Laugh. I did.

A funny thing happened on the way to the pulpit

posted by jmcgee

Did you hear the one about the people who are trying to find humor in ministry? Check it out: Can you say the word “breast” in a sermon? If so, how often? When trying to keep a congregation’s attention during […]

Surf’s up: California’s annual Blessing of the Waves

posted by jmcgee

While countless churches around the country were blessing animals for the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, some of the faithful who live on the Pacific coast were offering prayers of blessing for the waters whose name means “peaceful”: Hundreds […]

Are you now or have you ever been…?

posted by jmcgee

The AP is reporting that a growing number of churches are now making it a habit to conduct routine background checks: More churches and religious groups are conducting background checks and taking other steps to protect children against mistreatment in […]

Shock: art exhibit depicts Jesus in sex act?

posted by jmcgee

That’s what’s causing a furor out in Colorado, according to this report: An exhibit at a Colorado art gallery is stirring up outrage from critics who say it depicts Jesus Christ in a sexual act. Enrique Chagoya’s “The Misadventures of […]

Grace under water

posted by jmcgee

A church in Washington state held is Blessing of the Animals a little early this year — on Friday. But the local paper was there and captured this colorful gallery of pictures. A choice moment, below. God bless us, everyone.

“True Grit” — then and now

posted by jmcgee

I stumbled upon the trailer for the Coen Brothers’ reboot of “True Grit,” with Jeff Bridges taking on the thankless task of sliding into John Wayne’s boots as Rooster Cogburn. I have to admire the spunk of a movie whose […]

Are you smarter than an atheist?

posted by jmcgee

When it comes to religion, maybe not. Catholics, in particular, don’t understand the Eucharist at an alarmingly high rate.  That, and more, according to the results of a new survey: If you want to know about God, you might want […]

Church as theater

posted by jmcgee

Some unusual news out of Brooklyn, where a Catholic church is playing a starring role in a theatrical production of “Murder in the Cathedral.” A snip from the New York Times review: Comparing the buttoned-up experience of seeing a play […]

The Bible in a minute

posted by jmcgee

This is a clever spin on scripture study — and fun, to boot. H/T Concord Pastor. Bible In A Minute – barats and beretaBarats and Bereta Productions | MySpace Video

Art imitates life

posted by jmcgee

What the world has been waiting for: News Barbie! Complete with her own microphone!

Another reason not to have mass outdoors

posted by jmcgee

Folks at an Episcopal church learned that lesson the hard way: The rector of a Hingham church said parishioners trying to hold a post-Mass picnic at the town’s beach were interrupted by a Canadian goose being shot in front of […]

On the other hand, maybe the billboard is correct …

posted by jmcgee

Read all about it. Everybody needs an editor.  And spellcheck.  

Give us this day our daily toast

posted by jmcgee

A former colleague from CBS News sent this my way, with the note: “You probably know about this. Someone sent it to me.” Actually, no. This is the first I’ve seen it. But if you visit this site, named “Jesustoasters.com”, […]

When the goal is God: NFL stars embracing faith

posted by jmcgee

Hot on the heels of this piece about a devoutly religious NFL player, a reader sent me this item, from Sunday’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, all about faith and football: Adoring fans carried star safety Troy Polamalu on their shoulders — passing […]

Woody Allen doesn’t get God, or religion

posted by jmcgee

But he’s made a new movie about faith — or faith in something — and chats about it with the New York Times: At 74, Mr. Allen, the prolific filmmaker and emblematic New Yorker, has hardly found religion. But the […]

Deacons, don’t try this in your parish

posted by jmcgee

Funny, we didn’t see anything like this with the pope yesterday in Westminster Cathedral.  But a surprising moment at another Protestant church in the United Kingdom has inspired a new song: t was a Sunday morning that started off like […]

Benedict and Jesus: the official portrait

posted by jmcgee

H/T to Taylor Marshall, who posted the picture below, by Igor V. Babailov, entitled, “The Truth, the Way and the Life.” To my eye, this is a younger-looking Ratzinger than we’re accustomed to seeing in public. I haven’t been able […]

A first look at Eastwood’s “Hereafter”

posted by jmcgee

Clint Eastwood continues to amaze — at the tender age of 80. Here’s the first trailer from his new movie, “Hereafter,” which takes a B-movie premise and seemingly turns it into something approaching art. We’ll have to see how it […]

“I won’t dance, don’t ask me…”

posted by jmcgee

Well, I could have used information like this about 30 years ago: Scientists say they’ve carried out the first rigorous analysis of dance moves that make men attractive to women. The researchers say that movements associated with good dancing may […]

Can’t get that song out of your head?

posted by jmcgee

Help is here. A couple minutes with this website and you’ll be good as new. You can thank me later.  (Excuse me now.  I need to do the Macarena…) 

“The lack of arms is a problem…”

posted by jmcgee

Just in time for Labor Day, when millions of workers are taking a day off, comes this look at who — or what — might replace them. The article explains the idea behind these robot thingies. But you have to […]

“The Whole Gritty City”

posted by jmcgee

That’s the title of a new documentary about New Orleans marching bands competing to perform in the Mardi Gras parade. It was produced, directed and edited by a former colleague of mine from CBS, Richard Barber — and, judging from […]

In defense of “jumping the shark”

posted by jmcgee

It’s a phrase that has become synonymous with going over the top, and signaling the beginning of the end — whether in life, politics or entertainment. Now the guy who wrote the infamous “Happy Days” episode that “jumped the shark” […]

A stand-up comic, saved by a priest

posted by jmcgee

Last month, Felipe Esparza won NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” taking home $250,000 and a TV development deal. But the story of how he got there is pretty amazing. From CNS: Esparza’s life has not been a laughing matter. He grew […]

“Let’s drink to the hard-working people…”

posted by jmcgee

For Labor Day weekend: a classic performance of a great anthem. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, at the Concert for New York in 2001. Days after the attacks of 9/11, some of the biggest names in music gathered for this […]

It’s almost like visiting the Vatican

posted by jmcgee

That’s my reaction to the new signs that are popping up in one orthodox Jewish village in New York — and that are getting a lot of media attention. Check out the local news report below.

Hawking: God didn’t do it

posted by jmcgee

The celebrated scientist is throwing cold water on the idea that God created the universe: God did not create the universe and the “Big Bang” was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen […]

BYOP: Bring your own pitchfork

posted by jmcgee

A group of Satanists is planning to rent a city civic center in Oklahoma for one of their rituals. You have to see the bizarre report below to believe it. More details here.

The perfect back-to-school gift!

posted by jmcgee

Yes, it seems, this is legit. Some genius is probably making a mint off of this. Want one? Here’s the website.  Knock yourself out. 

“The days grow short when you reach September…”

posted by jmcgee

Here’s a little late summer chaser for you, as we turn the corner into fall, from the incomparable Durante. Enjoy.

Reformation documents on display

posted by jmcgee

Just in time for the papal visit this month, an exhibit has opened in Scotland showing some of the key documents charting the birth of the Protestant Reformation. Details: A collection of historic manuscripts which document the establishment of the […]

Holy water: nuns on board for surf contest

posted by jmcgee

Summer may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean surfing season is over. Just ask the sisters who are stoked for some gnarly waves off the coast of New Jersey: Surf’s up, Sister! Sister James Dolores, 73, gives […]

Sermons in sand

posted by jmcgee

I just got home from two weeks in Ocean Pines, Maryland, about five miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a pretty neighborhood of cottages and boat docks and tall pines, where the most popular pastime among the natives appears to […]

Author: teens are following a “mutant” Christianity

posted by jmcgee

Here’s some disturbing news about religious trends among teenagers — what you might call Teenage Mutant Ninja Christianity. From CNN: If you’re the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning: Your child is following a “mutant” […]

You can’t make this stuff up

posted by jmcgee

This is an instant classic. Where are Abbot & Costello when you need them? Check out this priceless racing call from Monmouth Park a few days ago.

Bishop will run in marathon to pay down debt

posted by jmcgee

Some of you may remember he delightful installation homily by Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois. He concluded his remarks by singing a number written by one of the Backstreet Boys. Anyway: the good bishop can not only carry a […]

Northern exposure: Alaska kids learn chant

posted by jmcgee

Well, who’d a thunk? Check out this video below, from the online edition of the Catholic Anchor in Anchorage.

For anyone who hates conference calls…

posted by jmcgee

…this one’s for you. From the Citizens Bank annual talent show, a hilarious take on an office ritual, from Dave Grady. Enjoy.

DJ priest: “Jesus is #1!”

posted by jmcgee

And now, for something completely different: a priest who puts a new spin on the gospels. Take a look: “Jesus Is Number One!” shouts deejay priest Don Roberto Fiscer as he lines up the latest number by Lady Gaga for […]

How to make a cross on your computer keyboard

posted by jmcgee

Did you know you could do this? Will wonders never cease. A reader sent this my way. Try it.

Glen Coffee leaves football for Christ

posted by jmcgee

Friday, many in the sports world were stunned when 49ers running back Glen Coffee announced he was hanging up his cleats and quitting football. Now he’s explaining why, to reporter Matt Barrows: I called Glen Coffee at his Los Gatos […]

Artists puts his own stamp on Mother Teresa

posted by jmcgee

If you’re wondering who painted the image of Mother Teresa that will soon adorn millions of postage stamps, CNS has the answer: The commemorative stamp of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta being issued by the U.S. Postal Service bears a […]

Totally cool: priest teaches skateboarding to kids

posted by jmcgee

From Hungary comes this great video of a priest being, well, very priestly. Curious about how to get young people interested in the faith? Take a look at this. Enjoy.

Catholic actor who quit over sex scenes may play a priest

posted by jmcgee

His story made headlines some months back — and if reports are accurate, he may have an interesting project lined up: You may not know the name Neal McDonough — but he’s one of those Hollywood faces you’ll instantly recognize. […]

Four people, one dog, 180 square feet

posted by jmcgee

Want to simplify your life? Try this: When it comes to living in such a small space, we don’t have room for more than the necessities. I think we have maybe two items in the entire space that are purely […]

Epic: one man plans to tweet the bible

posted by jmcgee

I hope he has strong thumbs. Details: File this under “people with good intentions, a whole lot of commitment and an Internet connection.” A UK worship director has planned to tweet the Christian Bible — or summaries of each chapter, […]

Susan Boyle, Jr.?

posted by jmcgee

This is astonishing, and more than a little bit freaky. But what a voice. Wow.   If you missed it, here’s 10-year-old Jackie Evancho, who popped up this week on “America’s Got Talent” UPDATE: A couple of commenters have now […]

Finally, a car that runs on something we’ll never run out of

posted by jmcgee

You might almost call the prototype a Dung Beetle: A car that runs on methane gas produced by human waste has been launched and its makers claim drivers cannot tell the difference. The Bio-Bug has been converted by a team […]

What the world has been waiting for!

posted by jmcgee

A pancake-flavored milkshake!

Looking for a miracle? Don’t use your GPS

posted by jmcgee

Modern technology can work wonders — but it can also lead you astray. From the Telegraph: A small, but rising portion of the six million pilgrims who flock to the world’s third most visited Catholic shrine in Lourdes are showing […]

Faith? There’s an app for that

posted by jmcgee

And what started as a fad is becoming a trend, according to Reuters: Father Tom Eichenberger began a recent sermon by playing an iPhone ring tone of church bells into the microphone and talking about how praying is like using […]

A first for Yale: a Divinity School scholarship for Catholics

posted by jmcgee

And it’s named in honor of a prominent Catholic writer and teacher, and a favorite of The Bench: A scholarship in honor of the late Henri Nouwen, who taught at Yale Divinity School for a decade beginning in 1971, has […]

Flashmob goes upscale: Flash Opera?!

posted by jmcgee

This is just plain swell.

Who will we sing along with now?

posted by jmcgee

Word today that Mitch Miller has gone to the the big recording studio in the sky. He was 99. Enjoy this blast from the past. Remember when THIS was television?

Chelsea Clinton and mixed marriage

posted by jmcgee

Seems the most celebrated wedding of the summer has thrown a spotlight on an issue that is becoming more common — and, sometimes, more problematic and complicated. From USA TODAY: Chelsea Clinton, a Methodist, and Marc Mezvinsky, a conservative Jew, […]

Who makes all those vestments?

posted by jmcgee

A California paper visits one of the leading manufacturers of church vestments to find out: It sounds like a New Yorker cartoon the way Mannix Delfino describes a recent Saturday afternoon in her Carson shop. “It was so cute, the […]

Lost

posted by jmcgee

From Salon comes this wrenching story of a young woman struggling to save her brother from his own madness: Like any New Yorker, I was no stranger to homeless people. I passed by them on my way to the shiny […]

Smile and say “Cheesecake!”

posted by jmcgee

From the Brooklyn Desk… The Bench has just gotten word that Friday is National Cheesecake Day. The good people at Junior’s — a Brooklyn institution, if ever there was one — are offering a free slice of their iconic desert […]

Don’t make plans for June …

posted by jmcgee

That seems to be the message from some ads at bus stops in Colorado. CNN has the story, below.     

Anne Rice: “I quit being a Christian” — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

The best-selling writer who made headlines with her dramatic conversion (or reversion) and wrote a popular book about her journey back to Catholicism, has changed her mind.  She made the announcement on Facebook: “I quit being a Christian. I’m out. […]

Want an Apple, Adam?

posted by jmcgee

Well, I now want this for my MacBook: Want one?  You can read more, and order it, here.

Just another day in Queens

posted by jmcgee

Yep. Happens all the time. I’m pushing my cart through the aisles of the grocery store in my Queens neighborhood, and people just break into song. Sure.  Why not?  I love New York.

Singing “A Simple Song”

posted by jmcgee

A big fat h/t to The Concord Pastor, who posted this on his blog today. This remains one of my favorite pieces of music. In fact, one of the sopranos in our parish choir was going to sing it at […]

Mad Men: one day and counting

posted by jmcgee

At long last, after nearly a year, television’s best drama returns Sunday night. I’ll be watching. And listening. The writing crackles and hums, whistles and sings.  And the casting?  Pitch perfect.

What’s in your closet? How about just six pieces?

posted by jmcgee

Try living with just six pieces of clothing for a month and see what happens. Truth be told: this just might be the wardrobe for the ’10s — the out-of-work, out-of-money, foreclosed-and-desperate era of the chronically unemployed who find their […]

What can you do with an empty confessional?

posted by jmcgee

Well, first of all, don’t try to sell it on eBay. From the Telegraph: The Catholic Church in Vienna has ruled that a former confessional cannot be used as a sauna. Bidding on a confessional described on eBay as ideal […]

Pregnant? A teenager? You can look SO cool!

posted by jmcgee

Hot on the heels of the Bristol Palin story comes this item about a store that caters to teens — and is now evidently seeking to exploit an untapped market: teens who are pregnant. Rod Dreher touched on it yesterday. […]

Hospitals change chapels into meditation rooms

posted by jmcgee

A desire to be more open and inclusive is forcing many hospitals to change the design and function of their chapels. An explanation: The shift to meditation rooms mirrors a growing trend among hospitals nationwide as health care centers try […]

“Did Trouble Me”: Tom Jones finds his soul

posted by jmcgee

It’s not unusual to still be a pop icon at 70 — think Tony Bennett, among others — but it’s pretty remarkable to reinvent oneself, suddenly, as a soulful interpreter of gospel music. And it’s even more unusual to do […]

The graet-est ice cream?

posted by jmcgee

What’s so great about Cincinnati? Graeter’s. End of discussion. I was a coward, and didn’t try their newest flavor, Blueberry Pie (though some people, I’m told, swear by it.)  I went with my personal fave, Cookies and Cream.  Did I […]

Giglio, anyone?

posted by jmcgee

Today marks the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and some parishes around the world are also celebrating with the giglio. Whatzzat? Check this out: In Italian Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the residents of the community look forward to the annual […]

Baseball team hosts “Mass on the Grass”

posted by jmcgee

In suburban Chicago, a minor league baseball team is making a major league statement of faith: As any athlete will tell you, it’s always good to have God on your side before a big game. Tonight, the Kane County Cougars […]

Who’s your favorite priest?

posted by jmcgee

The folks at the Catholic Company launched a contest some months ago to find out — and they’ve posted some touching results right here. At a time when the priesthood is being dismissed or diminished or disdained, do yourself a […]

Is this the Round Table of Camelot?

posted by jmcgee

Some scholars seem to think so. From the Daily Mail: His is among the most enduring legends in our island’s history. King Arthur, the gallant warrior who gathered his knights around the Round Table at Camelot and rallied Christian Britons […]

Thanks. I needed that.

posted by jmcgee

I needed a lift last night, and The Anchoress gave it to me, with the clip below. I feel better already.  Crank up the volume and kick start your day.  And make it a happy one!

Just call me DG

posted by jmcgee

That seems to be the way things are headed, anyway: Note to the Village People: The lyrics in your biggest hit need an update. The organization previously known as the Y.M.C.A. is henceforth to be called “the Y.” One of […]

What a stupid idea

posted by jmcgee

A friend found this ad and posted it on his Facebook page. A portable telephone that you can take anywhere? That’s just nuts. Who’d want that?

Taking the plunge

posted by jmcgee

A wedding photographer, perhaps confused about which sacrament he’s attending, opts for full immersion.

More on Mary Anne Marks, Harvard’s Latin orator

posted by jmcgee

Some days back, I posted the eye-popping speech — in Latin — delivered by a young woman from my parish, Mary Anne Marks (Harvard ’10). Now, I’ve learned that the Harvard Gazette did a short piece on her, and some […]

Before there was Don Draper…

posted by jmcgee

…there was Jay Gatsby. With AMC running a “Mad Men” marathon these days–leading up to the series fourth season premiere on July 25–I thought it was a good time to revisit this classic tale of power, passion, secrecy and pink […]

Stars and stripes forever. And the Muppets, too.

posted by jmcgee

One more patriotic tribute for this holiday weekend. Please rise and salute.

Remember this name: Carlos Aponte

posted by jmcgee

I have a feeling you’ll be hearing his name a lot in the weeks to come. Is this the next Susan Boyle? Watch and listen and feel the goosebumps.

Meet the “human camera”

posted by jmcgee

And prepare to be awed.  You’ve never seen Rome quite like this.  

Passion play hailed as “more balanced”

posted by jmcgee

The revised version of the once-every-decade drama in Germany got a thumbs-up from two prominent religious leaders, according to the AP: The redo of Germany’s famous Oberammergau Passion Play apparently works. A prominent American rabbi and the archbishop of New […]

“A three-hour tour…”

posted by jmcgee

Turns out, “Gilligan’s Island” wasn’t as simple as we thought it was: Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of Gilligan’s Island, said he patterned the ‘seven stranded castaways’ after the seven deadly sins but he didn’t admit it until years later in […]

Should we pray for Christopher Hitchens?

posted by jmcgee

Of course. What part of “love your enemies, pray for your persecutors” isn’t clear? But now that the legendary atheist and Catholic-basher has been stricken with cancer, some are saying we shouldn’t bother. Then there’s this, from London Telegraph: I […]

Jesus returns — to Rio

posted by jmcgee

The iconic statue of Christ towering over Brazil has re-opened after a four-month-long restoration: The statue of Christ overlooking Rio de Janeiro was reinaugurated Wednesday after a renovation costing seven million Brazilian reals, or nearly four million dollars. The renovation […]

Quote of the day, Bulwer-Lytton edition

posted by jmcgee

“For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss–a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and […]

Testing, testing…can you hear me?

posted by jmcgee

That might become a familiar refrain in some parishes, if they haven’t switched to a new wireless microphone. CNS explains: Churches across the country are among those who might need to switch the kind of microphones they are using if […]

Fr. Roger Ebert

posted by jmcgee

Well, that was what his mother had hoped and prayed for. It didn’t quite work out that way.  The celebrated film critic — now suffering from a ravenous form of cancer that has taken away much of his jaw — […]

World’s worst-dressed priests?

posted by jmcgee

Take a look. Warning: not for the faint of heart. You can see more — if you really want to — right here.

Beautifully imperfect: a tribute to life

posted by jmcgee

A friend posted this on Facebook, and it’s too good not to share. Watch it with someone you love.      

Many clergy unprepared for retirement

posted by jmcgee

Some advice to all those young priests being ordained this year: save your stipends. From the AP: Clergy seem an unlikely group to be facing a retirement security crisis. They generally are looked up to by their parishioners as wise […]

Typing without tapping? Meet Swype

posted by jmcgee

Not long ago, I blogged about the “invisible mouse” being developed for laptop computers. Well, here’s another gee-whiz moment for techno-geeks: technology that could change typing — and remove the tapping in typing — forever: Back in the 1990s, typing […]

“Toy Story 3″: a work of wonder

posted by jmcgee

A lot of people have asked me “So what did you think of ‘Toy Story 3’? Was it really that good?” Yes, it really was.  Really.    But two things stand out. (Warning, spoilers ahead!) The first struck me because […]

Attention, Kmart shoppers…

posted by jmcgee

Will Tom Hanks please report to Aisle 6? Here’s the picture of the weekend. Details here. The “Toy Story 3″ star is filming a movie about working at Kmart, and posed for the picture below.   (The missus and I will […]

Okay. This officially freaks me out.

posted by jmcgee

But in a cool way. Behold the introduction of the Invisible Mouse: There are no pictures of the invisible mouse, because the mouse itself doesn’t exist. It’s just an infrared laser beam and an infrared camera tracking your hand from […]

Root of Jesse: people see Jesus in tree

posted by jmcgee

Maybe he’s in the tree because his eye is on the sparrow? I think it’s a stretch, myself, but people will see whoever they want, in whatever they want. From Connecticut: A Wallingford tree is attracting a steady stream of […]

Shedding the collar for cleats

posted by jmcgee

The World Cup isn’t the only soccer tournament in the world, you know. The New York Times has this look at one in the shadow of the Vatican: On a recent weekend morning, a crowd gathered on a field behind […]

Vatican paper sings praises of “The Blues Brothers”

posted by jmcgee

To mark the 30th anniversary of the John Belushi classic — which contains the immortal line, “We’re on a mission from God” — the Vatican newspaper devotes a whole page, from editor Gian Maria Vian, to celebrating the film’s Catholicity. […]

Atheist bus ads pop up in Chicago

posted by jmcgee

The bus ads from the Freedom From Religion Foundation that have cropped up in Europe are now appearing in Chicago, encouraging people not to go to church: The Freedom From Religion Foundation plastered more signs on 75 Chicago buses this […]

Jackie Kennedy’s grief

posted by jmcgee

A couple weeks back, I posted about Archbishop Philip Hannan’s new memoir. Now, excerpts are trickling out. The bishop who delivered the eulogy at John F. Kennedy’s funeral is sharing some details that have never been revealed before — including […]

Andy Warhol, Catholic

posted by jmcgee

A new exhibit in Brooklyn is throwing a spotlight on a side of the artist most people might not know about. From Reuters: As a pop art pioneer, Andy Warhol blazed his way to fame with trademark Brillo soap pad […]

Curtain going up on new musical about John Paul

posted by jmcgee

Somehow, I don’t think we’ll be seeing this extravaganza on Broadway any time soon: Elvis Presley, Eva Peron, Buddy Holly have all had one. Now, so too, does Pope John Paul II: a musical dedicated to his life. Actually entitled […]

Trust in clergy drops

posted by jmcgee

A research group has released its “Trust Index” for 2010 — and (perhaps unsurprisingly) members of the clergy didn’t fare well: Firefighters enjoy the highest levels of trust internationally. The clergy and marketing specialists have suffered a considerable deterioration in […]

What do you give the newly ordained?

posted by jmcgee

‘Tis the season for ordinations. I get a lot of e-mails this time of year, from readers wondering what sort of gift they should get for that newly ordained priest or deacon. When I was ordained, I got a lot […]

James Taylor & Carole King: boomer bliss

posted by jmcgee

Those icons of the ’70s, James Taylor and Carole King, are hitting the road, and have just released a live concert album. They’re chatting up their tour in Monday’s New York Times. But you can see the results for yourself […]

“Burger King spirituality”

posted by jmcgee

That’s how one author is describing the pick-and-choose, “have-it-your-way” spiritual life that is becoming increasingly popular — and it’s sparked some lively debate: “I’m spiritual but not religious.” It’s a trendy phrase people often use to describe their belief that […]

Alert! Adorable video here!

posted by jmcgee

Be prepared to say “Awwwwwww” a lot. Enjoy this amazing portrait of two best friends.

America’s empathy deficit

posted by jmcgee

If you’re looking for a special gift for that new college graduate, may I suggest some nicely wrapped compassion?  This bit of news is both troubling — and disheartening. It doesn’t bode well for the next generation, that’s for sure: […]

More teens say they’re using natural birth control

posted by jmcgee

That’s one surprising finding from a new study: Today’s teenagers are increasingly likely to use the rhythm method to prevent pregnancy and to have relaxed attitudes about unwed motherhood, a new government teen sex survey has found. The results, released […]

Our web-savvy priesthood

posted by jmcgee

More priests are using the Internet to do their job, according to Zenit: A new study about the use of digital technology by priests worldwide shows that the Internet has become a frequently utilized tool in homily preparation, evangelization and […]

Teaching kids it’s not “weird” to pray

posted by jmcgee

When was the last time your kids saw you pray? This columnist suggests it doesn’t happen often enough: Years ago, well before I had children of my own, I was giving a talk to the parents’ Sunday school class at […]

For Memorial Day: “Earn this”

posted by jmcgee

The beautifully rendered conclusion of “Saving Private Ryan.” We remember. With gratitude and sorrow and love.

RIP Art Linkletter

posted by jmcgee

He passed away today at the ripe age of 97. People of a certain age can’t help but feel the loss. He had a way about him that was endearing, heartfelt and funny — and unfailingly kind. He had more […]

The Banker and the Missionary

posted by jmcgee

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more unusual pair of brothers: one may be the most powerful banker in the United States, while the other is a missionary trying to change the world. Both are graduates of Brown University, where […]

The spirituality of “Lost” — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

With the groundbreaking, epic series coming to a close tonight, people are picking apart the mythology — and theology — underlying the show: “Lost” fans have suggested a variety of theories behind the mysteries of the ABC series since it […]

Deep thoughts with Dave Barry

posted by jmcgee

“The truth is, if you’re a conscious human being, you are conscious more and more of two things. First, you’re going to die. Second, while you’re alive, bad things are going to happen to you and people around you, and […]

Germany’s Passion Play returns

posted by jmcgee

One of the world’s most famous — and controversial — theater pieces is opening once again, and garnering even more attention than usual: Time advances slowly in this Alpine village, measured in decade-long spans between performances of Oberammergau’s nearly 400-year-old […]

The Catholic struggles of Ronnie James Dio

posted by jmcgee

The legendary rock star who made his name in the group Black Sabbath died over the weekend, after a battle with cancer. And it seems he also had a battle with faith. Deacon Scott Dodge unearthed this interview, from Heavy […]

Distraction for a Saturday afternoon

posted by jmcgee

Bored? Try this on for size. Weird Al’s inspired — dare I say, ingenious? — re-invention of an old Bob Dylan video, done entirely in palindrome.  (Clearly, I have too much time on my hands…) And, for comparison, the original, […]

Lena Horne to get a Catholic funeral

posted by jmcgee

I didn’t know she was Catholic, did you? Her funeral will happen tomorrow, according to this report: Celebrities, family and friends will gather Friday for Lena Horne’s funeral at a Roman Catholic church in Manhattan. The great singer and actress […]

How do you fit 10 days of clothes in one carry on?

posted by jmcgee

Easy. Just ask the people who fly every day for a living. The New York Times did, and got some great tips: To make room for these new travel necessities, many flight attendants roll their clothes rather than fold them […]

Prepare to be awed: largest mural ever painted of the Resurrection

posted by jmcgee

Here’s something truly remarkable: the largest depiction ever of the the most important event in human history. Take a look.

Popular baby names come from vampires

posted by jmcgee

Another sign of the times — and, I think, a rather disconcerting one. From the New York Times: For baseball fans, 2009 was the year of the Yankees. For job seekers, it was the year of the Great Recession. And […]

Lord Jesus Christ hurt crossing the street

posted by jmcgee

Really. It happened in Massachusetts. Take a look: A 20-year-old Pittsfield driver was cited by police Tuesday after she ran down Lord Jesus Christ in a marked crosswalk at Main Street and Strong Avenue, police said. Brittany E. Cantarella was […]

Lights, camera…priests!

posted by jmcgee

Whether we realize it or not, the figure of a Catholic priest has long played a starring role in the movies. CNS’s David DiCerta explains: In 1915, D.W. Griffith followed up his controversial silent classic “Birth of a Nation” with […]

“Happy to serve you”: creator of iconic cardboard coffee cup dies

posted by jmcgee

First the inventor of the trampoline dies, and now this. The creator of a true American icon has gone to the great lunch counter in the sky: It was for decades the most enduring piece of ephemera in New York […]

I hope I’m like this when I’m 70

posted by jmcgee

Which, now that I think of it, isn’t that long from now… Nonetheless…the lesson here: enjoy the dance of life!

The Lord is my goalie: a homily on hockey

posted by jmcgee

It’s not every Sunday that a homily finds a connection between hockey and Jesus Christ. But a priest managed to do that last weekend: Father Paul Noble isn’t the only Blue Jackets fan to suggest that players from his favorite […]

Catholicism booming in Africa, Asia

posted by jmcgee

Some revealing new statistics just released yesterday by the Vatican help paint a clearer picture of the Church of today — and, of course, tomorrow: The Vatican Publishing House has recently released a new edition of the Statistical Yearbook of […]

Is this Noah’s Ark?

posted by jmcgee

Definitely possibly almost absolutely…maybe: A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers say wooden remains they have discovered on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey are the remains of Noah’s Ark. The group claims that carbon dating proves the relics are […]

SuBo to sing for B16?

posted by jmcgee

Reports indicate the Scottish singing sensation could well be warbling for the pontiff when he visits the U.K. later this year: The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland wants Susan Boyle to perform for Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to […]

“Unbelievable Brian Kownacki!”

posted by jmcgee

See what happens when you are taught by Jesuits? A Fordham baseball player does something amazing. This kid is awesome. H/T Rod.

The joy of text: teens texting 100 times day

posted by jmcgee

Hard to believe, but true. From Reuters: A third of U.S. teenagers with cell phones send more than 100 texts a day as texting has exploded to become the most popular means of communication for young people, according to new […]

Christmas in July: “Mad Men” returns 7/25

posted by jmcgee

Let the countdown begin! From the Hollywood Reporter: AMC will premiere Season 4 of “Mad Men” on Sunday, July 25, answering fans’ burning questions from last season’s cliffhanger finale. With the disbanding of ad agency Sterling Cooper and the marital […]

Ugh! Ptooey! This coffee tastes like…

posted by jmcgee

…well, maybe not.  But still.  This ain’t exactly my cuppa.  From the New York Times: Goad Sibayan went prospecting recently in the remote Philippine highlands here known as the Cordillera. He clambered up and then down a narrow, rocky footpath […]

Too cute for words

posted by jmcgee

Ladies and gentlemen, the most adorable pet of the year: baby kangaroos. Perfect for keeping you company while you go jogging. Can they be housebroken??

St. Fluffy?

posted by jmcgee

A woman I know is grieving the death of her beloved cat after a long and difficult illness. The cat was 17. The woman is deeply religious, and she arranged for her pet to be sent off with a prayer […]

Faith sells

posted by jmcgee

One of the best-kept secrets of advertising may be in the back of your church bulletin: Massage therapist Dan Snyder has discovered it’s better for business with God on your side. The 62-year-old owner of Dan’s Hands Therapeutic Massage and […]

And now, meet Reverend Barbie

posted by jmcgee

I kid you not. Take a look: With her careers as veterinarian, astronaut and U.S. president behind her, Barbie has at last found her true calling: as a second-career Episcopal priest. The 11.5-inch-tall fictional graduate of Church Divinity School of […]

An important discovery on Easter morning

posted by jmcgee

The greatest food in the world? No contest. Hands down, it’s this: Second important discovery: it goes great with coffee first thing in the morning.

What would they say?

posted by jmcgee

Years ago, an old friend who is a Sister of St. Joseph sent me a greeting card with this image on the front. I always liked it. “Women of Peace,” it was called: Eileen Egan, Dorothy Day, and Mother Teresa, […]

Jesus, is that you?

posted by jmcgee

The History Channel has tried to give the most realistic depiction yet of the face of Christ, creating a 3-D image based on the Shroud of Turin. ABC News took a look, below.

Holy Week 2010: Spy Wednesday

posted by jmcgee

Some might wonder what, exactly, that is. From Wikipedia: In Western Christianity, the Wednesday before Easter is sometimes known as “Spy Wednesday”, indicating that it is the day that Judas Iscariot first conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for […]

A patron saint for drug smugglers?

posted by jmcgee

Yes. Believe it or not, a devotion has sprung up in Mexico: In these dark times, the faithful still come to worship in the chapel of Jesus Malverde, Mexico’s patron saint of drug traffickers. They kneel in front of his […]

Revealed: the spiritual side of Irish soda bread

posted by jmcgee

Here’s something I never knew: the spiritual seeds of Irish soda bread. According to this item from America Magazine, it has to do with the cross that is cut on top: It’s scientific, primarily, because it allows the heat to […]

“Follow the fellow who follows a dream…”

posted by jmcgee

For St. Patrick’s Day: a classic that, while not exactly Irish, certainly has the Emerald Isle in its heart. (Aside: my wife, Irish to the core, sang this at our wedding reception, and it never fails to plant a lump […]

It’s all about bunnies, eggs and chocolate

posted by jmcgee

Some surprising news about what folks believe about Easter: While most Americans describe Easter as a religious holiday, less than half of U.S. adults surveyed link it specifically to the Resurrection of Jesus, a Barna Group study shows. Seven in […]

And now…iStations

posted by jmcgee

You can pray the rosary on your iPhone — and now, the Stations of the Cross: A new iTunes application is being offered to give busy people a way of praying the Stations of the Cross anytime, anywhere. Ave Maria […]

Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz ...

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives! ...

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below. ...

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The ...

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy. ...

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

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