Maine Writer

Its about people and issues I care about.

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Location: Topsham, MAINE, United States

My blogs are dedicated to the issues I care about. Thank you to all who take the time to read something I've written.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI and His Right To Free Speech

Isn't it just amazing to hear how seriously the Muslims take every spoken and written word, if they feel it's directed against them. Try being Roman Catholic for just one day. Maybe any Moslem should try out "Catholic for a Day". Now, there's a plan for Moslem edification!
Roman Catholic's hear slurs about themselves every day, often more than once a day. "I am a recovering Catholic", is just one of many over-used cliches about Catholic's.
Therefore, it really fries me to hear how Pope Benedict is now breeching an apology for a philosophy statement he made in a recent speech in Germany - which is his home, by the way.
It makes no sense to put the Pope in this apologist position because his speech was not made in anger.
Muslims really need to get a life. People should be allowed to speak their mind about Islam. So what, if we're talking about them? Indeed, in these days, isn't life "all about them", anyway?
I don't read or see any news media about the wonderful work Muslims are doing to help people being slaughtered in the streets of Baghdad at random.
It's simply impossible for me to believe that the carnage of the proportions we're reading about and viewing could happen in a Western country's capital city without local people taking up arms to prevent massacres. Hello? Where are you good Muslims? Where are these peaceful people whose religion is against violence? Are you anywhere out there?
It's like asking the oracle for answer. Anybody want to try?
Actually, I applaud Pope Benedict XVI for his extraordinary bravery in stating what he understands as a truth. Nevertheless, given the mis-perception about the Pope's comments, shrouded as they were in philosophical language, I believe his safety is now an important issue, which is probably the reason the Vatican is pulling back with language like, "He didn't really mean to anger...." Too bad the Pope doesn't get reciprocal apologies from all the people who love to criticize him.
British Broadcasting Corporation or the BBC, on the webpage is headlining: "The Vatican is seriously concerned at the possibility of acts of violence being staged against the tiny city state situated in the heart of Rome, after a barrage of criticism from Muslims in many countries against Pope Benedict XVI."
Oh yeah? Here we go again. Why aren't Muslims out fixing what's going on with their own people rather than putting people like the Pope and innocent Roman citizens at risk, all because the Pontiff spoke his mind - philosophically speaking. He has every right to do so.
A friend of mine who is close to the philosophy of the Pope's comments wrote this:
"Although I suspect that much of the Muslim disturbance has simply to do with the Pope's quotation from the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus (who ruled during the siege of Constantinople) which condemns violence as irrational and incompatiblwith thehe nature of God and thus Mohammed and Islam for spreading religion through violence..."

Moslems and others can certainly disagree with Pope Benedict's thoughts and statements without taking up arms or irrationally acting out against the man.

Nevertheless, I hope this curious incident doesn't hold back the Pope's candor. Sadly, however, I suspect it will because innocent victims are at risk if some radical person, more concerned about violence than helping others in harms way, wants to exercise extremist actions. Let us certainly pray for the safety of our world and innocent people in the wake of extremism of all sorts.

Moreover, the Pope and anybody else who has something to say regarding Islam and Muslims, should have every opportunity to freely, and peacefully, speak their minds. As our President Bush retorts, "It's about Freedom!".

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lowell Masachusettes - A Franco American City Recalled

New England’s Franco-Americans are honored in Lowell, Massachusetts.

It’s well worth day trip from Southern Maine or, in fact, anywhere in New England to tour The Lowell National Historical Park. Lowell, today, continues to be a city in transition but includes a lovely restored city adjacent to parks along the Merrimac River, connected by cobble stone walkways to cultural exhibits where the Franco-American heritage during New England’s industrial era are recognized.

By the way, check the outdoor Lowell Summer Music Series schedule, a live performing arts series held in Boarding House Park on French and John Streets, if you take this trip during the summer.

La Bottine Souriante, a French-Canadian show band, performed during my recent visit. Thankfully, the outdoor weather was perfect for La Bottine Souriante’s Saturday night concert on August 12, but a rain location is available inside Lowell High School’s Auditorium, across the street from the park.

The Lowell National Historic Park is an impressively large old neighborhood of restored mill brick buildings and boarding houses that collectively creates a living museum where the work and history of Franco-Americans are acknowledged. Walking tourists pass blocks of well restored uniform brick buildings, easily stirring ghost images of the many thousands of workers who once kept the noisy factories thriving. Today, these buildings are homes to museums, shops and restaurants.

Highlights of the city tour includes street sculptures, and museums where Franco-Americans’ hard labor, religious values and evidence of the economic contributions the19th century immigrant generation made building Lowell’s industrial economy.

A value added bonus is Lowell’s tribute to native born Franco-American Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), a poet, and novelist, author of "On the Road", recognized as one of the voices of America’s 1950’s "beat generation". A visit to the tree lined Kerouac Park, located on a river canal near the city’s historic buildings, provides an opportunity to walk and meditate on granite stones engraved with the writer’s freely expressive writing style.

Of course, many New England cities attracted French-Canadian migrants, mostly from Quebec, who responded to recruitment programs instituted by the factories badly in need of labor.
It was hard and dangerous work, as reported in the book, "The Lowell Mill Girls: Life in the Factory", a journal written by female mill workers. "….there were accidents to contend with, some of which were sometimes fatal….cotton fibers hung heavy in the air along with other pollution, aggravating lungs weakened by tuberculosis…"

Likewise, Maine’s industrial cities, like Biddeford, Saco and Sanford, also housed French-Canadian workers from Quebec who largely intended to return to Canada after earning enough money to help their families back at home. Nevertheless, those who stayed built an infra-structure of French-Canadian neighborhoods with a prominent Roman Catholic Church as a center of community life and where French was the primary language. Subsequently, mill cities visibly struggled economically when the factories closed or moved south during the 20th century.

Lowell, of course, joined this economic and social decline resulting from the closing of once thriving mills. Therefore, the revitalization of The Lowell National Historic Park invigorated life in the inner city by creating a hub where the key ingredients of heritage combined with cultural events attracts a growing creative economy. Lowell’s restaurants are busy, sidewalk artists sell their work on the streets and shops host browsing tourists.

One example of the city’s success is evident in the audiences filling Boarding House Park with lawn chairs to see the outdoor concerts performed live there for the past 17 years.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Katie Couric: CBS News You Can Use

Imagine, getting real news on television.

Do you care about the American War on Terror going on, right now, in Afghanistan? A young man from Wiscasset, Maine was very recently killed in Afghanistan, fighting for our freedom against the Taliban:

"Pfc. Andrew Small, 19, of Wiscasset, was one of three soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division who were killed when their patrol came under attack Aug. 11."

Yes indeed, we care - don't we? In fact, I wondered what happened to our fight against the actual Taliban - those demons of destruction who blew up our New York City's World Trade Center right on television. But, then, after the attacks lost their material impact, our television news seemed to forgo the evil Taliban culprits in favor of more glamorous news, stuff to make us feel good. It's like the war on terror really belongs to the politicians. We resurrect it when it's time to win (or lose) an election. Patriotism and Freedom - but where is Osama Bin Laden?

Thank God Katie Couric got it right on her first night with CBS Nightly News. It was an absolutely stellar opening - real news about a real war with the real enemy right there looking at us with an up close and personal report from Laura Logan, who went into enemy territory in Ghazni. Watch a woman reporter right in their Taliban midst. Wow! It was amazing coverage.

Of course, there was a throw away piece about "snapshots", the news to make us feel good. I could frankly do without it. In another "Free Speech" segment, Katie takes on the people who thrive on labels by announcing Rush Limbaugh will enjoy his 15 seconds of legitimate fame with an essay coming up soon, which I'm sure he'll pay somebody else to write for him.

Veteran newsman Walter Cronkite read Katie's opening - did anybody notice?

Couric's opening tonight - a new beginning for her and CBS News, should start a refreshing trend - reporting real news with information you can use. Thank you Katie Couric - and I sincerely hope you keep "Freedom" to report news we can really use and learn from as your operational mantra.