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Archive for January, 2010

Hermeneutics and Ecclesiology …

Everybody who has been following along the blog for the last little while will know that I have been conflicted with where I am in my university career and that I have been pondering leaving the program, but I have been waiting for a sign from God to tell me what to do next.

So I prayed, and I prayed…

And I have been seeking the advice of the spiritual people in my sacred circle and they all have given me good advice, I have shared that advice here. I have been taking this term one day at a time following the syllabi for my classes like I should be. I have an annotated bibliography due on Monday and reading to do for next week. All along waiting for the voice to come, because like I told the Rev. the other day that I have been following this path all along by the grace of God, picking up the puzzle pieces as they came to me, and knowing when to wait for them to appear along my path.

A long time ago when I moved to Montreal, it was because of family and faith. It began with a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral in Old Montreal and the happened upon visit to the Grey Nuns mother house that I was reunited with my great aunt who was still alive and living at the Grey Nun Mansion on Guy.

I met a priest who told me that “Montreal was where it all starts…” He gave me my first puzzle piece to put into a greater picture which is still not complete. Over these many years I have been following this path looking for puzzle pieces and they have come – on God’s time, and not on my time. That should tell you that I have learned a great deal about patience over the years.

God doesn’t speak in loud voices and it usually comes in a whisper or from a source that I never thought of it coming from. Listening for God is a fine art. Knowing what the message is when it comes is another fine art. Parsing the words, letting them come like fresh fruit.

I heard his voice tonight in class… From a woman.

We were talking about discourse. The discussion went around the room about this topic before coming to her about the topic of transformative discourse and if it was possible to have transformative discourse and if we would be open to that transformation and this was her answer:

My prof asked one of the women in the class a question and for a brief few minutes I was transfixed. She said that she wasn’t here for a degree, or a piece of paper, that she was following in the program to learn more about herself, about others and the human condition. She was here to transform. It wasn’t about papers or letters or something that would spruce up a CV…

It was about humanity…

That answer has stuck with me – I know that’s the answer to my prayers. I know what I have to do now. I know what I want to do. Spinning the topic of my prayer and looking at it from a different perspective is what I needed to do. We entertained a little Thomas Aquinas and his refutations which was fun. We will be reading Thomas Aquinas in the coming weeks.

For now, I think I know what I need to do, and how I need to approach my academic work. It isn’t about the paper, it’s about learning something about me and others. To engage in the human condition. Our prof has the hope that if we came to that class with a perspective that by the end of term we would come out of this class with new vision. Brilliant …

If you are praying to God for something make sure you ask the right question. And then be prepared to wait for the answer. Sometimes we don’t get an answer, and sometimes the answer comes …


And then in some cases the answer is a yes… Or the answer might come right out of left field and knock you flat on your ass… Whatever the answer be prepared, because it might not be what you expected, and with God No means No – it is best not to ask why, when God says no, it’s no, for his reasons. And sometimes that reason is not for us to know right now, and maybe not ever.

That’s the mystery of God.

Good night from Montreal…

The President announced that he will work this year to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“I will work with Congress and the military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.” 

One step closer …

From: The White House Blog

Twofer Tuesday …

Over the past few days I have been pondering a few of my relationships with people. I am bothered by the way people treat each other and the way that some of my friends have just gone off the rail. People are responsible for the choices they make and it seems as of late that one of my friends is sitting in the corner of the bar BANGING himself in the HEAD with a HAMMER… And I can’t stand to watch it any longer. So with that I clicked the little (X) on their Facebook Profile and unfriended him. I can’t sit and watch this train wreck of a life continue. It is like watching an alcoholic DRINK…

Today was my day off to do with whatever I pleased. I went to see my spiritual director this morning and then went to noon service at the Cathedral. Sometimes you got to take it to the church to get an answer from the almighty. We spoke about school and my troubles this term with my abilities and no answer came to either one of us. And the more I ponder this topic and the more people I talk to about it I get the sense that I am in a growth period and I am learning to exist in a new pot.

There is more space to move and my roots need to grow into deeper soil. I may not like where I am, and it may be painful at the moment for me but a little pain won’t kill me and if I stick with the program it will pay off in the end. I think I am close to a decision on this matter and it all comes down to personal application. Do I fuck off and not apply myself or do I buckle down and get it done? Failure is NOT an option.

Today’s topic was: Staying away from that first drink …

The farther one is away from the past drink the more one tends to forget what it was like in the beginning – trying to stay away from that first drink in early sobriety. But I do remember what that was like. It was Jean Baptiste Day and I was at the Old Port during the party and hordes of people were walking around two fisting glasses of beer and wine and I was in the thick of it wanting to drink, but I didn’t .

It is good to hear the newcomers talk about where they are today. The meeting was packed and that only made the meeting much more rich. The more people the more shares. It was a great meeting. Remembering when it hurt reminds us of where we can end up if we take that first drink again…

I stayed for changeover and the second meeting. Tonight we heard a woman speak, and she was glorious. Sober now over 20 years she took us back into old Montreal years ago. It was good to hear her speak. You can hear it in their voices when someone really Gets the program. She is a reminder why even people with 20 years or more of sobriety need to keep going to meetings, because we forget what it was like and that is a very important factor in thinking a drink if one is not careful.

I did not drink today. I took care of myself and my sobriety. Now comes the work. I guess I need to ground myself into the ice and do the trek. I am here so I better do the work required of me.

Time to eat …

That’s all for now, more to come, stay tuned …

OH and one more thing I forgot to mention. Last night I was Facebooking and I got a message from my girlfriend Fonda. Now Fonda is my girl. She was the woman who welcomed me to my first meeting back in South Beach when I got sober this time around. She is a kool cat and she is well traveled. She’s been out West at Yosemite and California. So I called her and we talked for a while about where she is now and what she is up to. It was good to catch up with someone from my early sobriety. She was instrumental in helping me stay sober those first few months, especially over that first set of holidays in 2001. I spent a lot of time at her house with friends from the meeting there.

It is good to keep in touch with sober members…

Saturday Safari …

Did everyone watch Hope for Haiti last night? It ran across every television station on the map from all the Canadian feeds through all the US feeds. They say that in Canada we raised upwards of 2.5 million dollars in our first hour of the Canadian broadcast that started at 7 p.m. I read on another blog that Fox did not carry the telethon. Stupid bastards…

Not much going on here today. The weather in Montreal is mild. We are sitting at a balmy -7c and it is a little breezy. We haven’t seen significant snow in weeks, which is making this a very mild winter for us. But it usually doesn’t go downhill until February or March when we get slammed with the -20’s and lots of snow, but we shall see.

They are starting to freak out in Vancouver because of the lack of snow and the mild temperatures right now. With the Olympics just a couple of weeks away they have started acting on their contingency plans of bringing the snow down from the peaks to fill the runs for competition. It may get ugly if they don’t get any snow in the next week.

Meanwhile in California, God is washing everything away with days and days of rain. I heard on late night radio last night that George Noory predicted an earthquake in southern California in the next week. I don’t know about that, one of the determiners of impending earth shaking is the sudden disappearance of animals from homes. Massive pet and animal movements usually portend something not so good. When the animals start running away you better pay attention.

This afternoon I had to go do some supermarket safari … A quick in and out shop today for fruit and munchies. I’ve been trying to keep up my fresh fruit stocked in the fridge to eat between meals, I’ve been pretty successful at staving off junk food and crap. My numbers have been good as of late so I want to keep the trend going.

That’s about it from here at the moment. Yesterday we downloaded some new conversion programs and I captured a handful of videos from You Tube for my library, and we also found a good video to MP3 converter called Fetch MP3 – from FETCH MP3.COM … Maybe I will put up some video in the coming days. I would need to bump up my storage capability on the blog first…

More to come, stay tuned…

Haiti, Pat Robertson, and the Devil: Father Matthew Presents

Haiti, Pat Robertson, and the Devil: Father Matthew Presents

Sweet Deals …

Where can you get over $600.00 in MX gear for cheap? EBAY … You never know when something is gonna hit that you can’t pass up. I’ve been looking at race gear to go with my boots that I got for Christmas and everything I have come across runs $100-$150.00 per pant and $50 – $100 per shirt to buy them right from a dealer or professional site.

So I jumped at the occasion to buy this lot of gear for a mere $55.00 plus shipping which is a steal. I am planning some new things for the summer here in Montreal and maybe take a trip to do some motorbiking in a foreign country, I’ve been mesmerized by ENDURO videos on You Tube from all over the world as of late, and I want to do something exciting this year. I guess you could say that that is one of my resolutions for the new year.

I had lunch with my mentor yesterday and we talked about my Grad Student career and he gave me some good advice that I have been following up on today. He said that I should get in contact with student services on campus and see when they will offer grad student writing courses, to help me work on my writing.

The second piece of advice was to consult the campus vocational director to see if there are any work possibilities for the future since I do have my two degrees. I also put in a call to the Monsignor yesterday to go talk to him to find out if I could get a break into diocese work.

I am still seeking answers to the question – What am I doing here? I need to sit down with my program director since I haven’t seen him since classes ended in December. Last night I went to class and we had a guest presenter to do a presentation on Hermeneutics and Biblical Scripture in Africa. What is the meaning of scripture in a contemporary setting. It was good. My friend Judy was the one to present her work to us. She is going to Kenya next month for a 4 month sabbatical to work and teach. THAT is Amazing … I want to do stuff like that.

We’ll see …

That’s about all for now … More to come. Stay tuned …

6.1 magnitude quake hits Haiti, shaking buildings, sending screaming people into the streets

By Michelle Faul,Paul Haven, The Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The most powerful aftershock yet struck Haiti on Wednesday, shaking more rubble from damaged buildings and sending screaming people running into the streets eight days after the country’s capital was devastated by an apocalyptic quake.

The magnitude-6.1 temblor was the largest of more than 40 significant aftershocks that have followed the Jan. 12 quake. The extent of additional damage or injuries was not immediately clear.

Wails of terror rose from frightened survivors as the earth shuddered at 6:03 a.m. U.S. soldiers and tent city refugees alike raced for open ground, and clouds of dust rose in the capital.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday’s quake was centred about 35 miles (60 kilometres) northwest of Port-au-Prince and 6.2 miles (9.9 kilometres) below the surface – a little further from the capital than last week’s epicenter was.

“It kind of felt like standing on a board on top of a ball,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Steven Payne. The 27-year-old from Jolo, West Virginia was preparing to hand out food to refugees in a tent camp of 25,000 quake victims when the aftershock hit.

Last week’s magnitude-7 quake killed an estimated 200,000 people in Haiti, left 250,000 injured and made 1.5 million homeless, according to the European Union Commission.

The strong aftershock prompted Anold Fleurigene, 28, to grab his wife and three children and head to the city bus station. His house was destroyed in the first quake and his sister and brother killed.

“I’ve seen the situation here, and I want to get out,” he said.

A massive international aid effort has been struggling with logistical problems, and many Haitians are still desperate for food and water.

Still, search-and-rescue teams have emerged from the ruins with some improbable success stories – including the rescue of 69-year-old ardent Roman Catholic who said she prayed constantly during her week under the rubble.

Ena Zizi had been at a church meeting at the residence of Haiti’s Roman Catholic archbishop when the Jan. 12 quake struck, trapping her in debris. On Tuesday, she was rescued by a Mexican disaster team.

Zizi said after the quake, she spoke back and forth with a vicar who also was trapped. But he fell silent after a few days, and she spent the rest of the time praying and waiting.

“I talked only to my boss, God,” she said. “I didn’t need any more humans.”

Doctors who examined Zizi on Tuesday said she was dehydrated and had a dislocated hip and a broken leg.

Elsewhere in the capital, two women were pulled from a destroyed university building. And near midnight Tuesday, a smiling and singing 26-year-old Lozama Hotteline was carried to safety from a collapsed store in the Petionville neighbourhood by the French aid group Rescuers Without Borders.

Crews at the cathedral recovered the body of the archbishop, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, who was killed in the Jan. 12 quake.

Authorities said close to 100 people had been pulled from wrecked buildings by international search-and-rescue teams. Efforts continued, with dozens of teams hunting through Port-au-Prince’s crumbled homes and buildings for signs of life.

But the good news was overshadowed by the frustrating fact that the world still can’t get enough food and water to the hungry and thirsty.

“We need so much. Food, clothes, we need everything. I don’t know whose responsibility it is, but they need to give us something soon,” said Sophia Eltime, a 29-year-old mother of two who has been living under a bedsheet with seven members of her extended family.

The World Food Program said more than 250,000 ready-to-eat food rations had been distributed in Haiti by Tuesday, reaching only a fraction of the 3 million people thought to be in desperate need.

The WFP said it needs to deliver 100 million ready-to-eat rations in the next 30 days, but it only had 16 million meals in the pipeline.

Even as U.S. troops landed in Seahawk helicopters Tuesday on the manicured lawn of the ruined National Palace, the colossal efforts to help Haiti were proving inadequate because of the scale of the disaster. Expectations exceeded what money, will and military might have been able to achieve.

So far, international relief efforts have been unorganized, disjointed and insufficient to satisfy the great need. Doctors Without Borders says a plane carrying urgently needed surgical equipment and drugs has been turned away five times, even though the agency received advance authorization to land.

A statement from Partners in Health, co-founded by the deputy U.N. envoy to Haiti, Dr. Paul Farmer, said the group’s medical director estimated 20,000 people are dying each day who could be saved by surgery.

“TENS OF THOUSANDS OF EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS NEED EMERGENCY SURGICAL CARE NOW.!” the group said in the statement. It did not describe the basis for that estimate.

The reasons are varied:

-Both national and international authorities suffered great losses in the quake, taking out many of the leaders best suited to organize a response.

-Woefully inadequate infrastructure and a near-complete failure in telephone and Internet communications have complicated efforts to reach millions of people forced from their homes.

-Fears of looting and violence have kept aid groups and governments from moving as quickly as they would like.

-Pre-existing poverty and malnutrition put some at risk even before the quake hit.

Governments have pledged nearly $1 billion in aid, and thousands of tons of food and medical supplies have been shipped. But much remains trapped in warehouses, or diverted to the neighbouring Dominican Republic. Port-au-Prince’s nonfunctioning seaport and many impassable roads complicate efforts to get aid to the people.

Aid is being turned back from the single-runway airport, where the U.S. military has been criticized by some of poorly prioritizing flights. The U.S. Air Force said it had raised the facility’s daily capacity from 30 flights before the quake to 180 on Tuesday.

About 2,200 U.S. Marines established a beachhead west of Port-au-Prince on Tuesday to help speed aid delivery, in addition to 9,000 Army soldiers already on the ground. Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthews, a U.S. military spokesman, said helicopters were ferrying aid from the airport into Port-au-Prince and the nearby town of Jacmel as fast as they could.

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the military will send a port-clearing ship with cranes aboard to Port-au-Prince to remove debris that is preventing many larger aid ships from docking.

The U.N. was sending in reinforcements as well: The Security Council voted Tuesday to add 2,000 peacekeepers to the 7,000 already in Haiti, and 1,500 more police to the 2,100-strong international force.

“The floodgates for aid are starting to open,” Matthews said at the airport. “In the first few days, you’re limited by manpower, but we’re starting to bring people in.”

The WFP’s Alain Jaffre said the U.N. agency hoped to help 100,000 people by Wednesday.

Hanging over the entire effort was an overwhelming fear among relief officials that Haitians’ desperation would boil over into violence.

“We’ve very concerned about the level of security we need around our people when we’re doing distributions,” said Graham Tardif, who heads disaster-relief efforts for the charity World Vision. The U.N., the U.S. government and other organizations have echoed such fears.

Occasionally, those fears have been borne out. Looters rampaged through part of downtown Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, just four blocks from where U.S. troops landed at the presidential palace. Hundreds of looters fought over bolts of cloth and other goods with broken bottles and clubs.

USGS geophysicist Bruce Pressgrave said nobody knows if a still-stronger aftershock is possible.

“Aftershocks sometimes die out very quickly,” he said. “In other cases they can go on for weeks, or if we’re really unlucky it could go on for months” as the earth adjusts to the new stresses caused by the initial quake.

Associated Press writers contributing include Paul Haven, Michael Melia, Jonathan M. Katz, Michelle Faul and Vivian Sequera in Port-au-Prince; medical writer Margie Mason in Hanoi, Vietnam; Charles J. Hanley in Mexico City; Lori Hinnant in New York; Tales Azzoni in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations; and Seth Borenstein, Pauline Jelinek, Anne Flaherty and Jennifer Loven in Washington.

5.8 earthquake rattles Cayman Islands; no injuries or damage

reported from a Canadian Press report

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – A 5.8 earthquake has struck off the Cayman Islands, but no damage or injuries have been reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake was centred in the Caribbean Sea about 40 miles (65 kilometres) east-southeast of the capital, George Town. It had a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometres).

The government reports fielding 100 emergency calls from islanders. Emergency Communications Center manager Brent Finster says some callers evacuated buildings and wondered if it was safe to go back inside.

Tuesday’s earthquake slightly disrupted phone service.

GOD is shaking the land again, what does it all mean???

Must … Write … Words …

So Tuesday has come and now it is going. I did not sleep well last night, and this morning I got up and was sick – not a good start to the day. Nothing like the taste of bile in ones throat trying to get back to sleep, it did not go well. So I got up and watched a little of the view and some Martha and went back to bed to try and get some more sleep.

I got up in time to shower and dress and get my ass to the church to do set up. The weather has been almost balmy with snow flurries coming and going all day long into tonight.

It was a quiet night, we had about fifteen people for the discussion meeting and it was nice. I spent the hour sitting and listening to others because I was going to speak at the 8 o’clock meeting.

I have been ruminating over this share for the last two weeks, I parsed every word and rehearsed every bit of my story. I took a lot of time to think about my childhood and I came away from the experience with a lot of insight about what really happened and I have new lessons that I have learned about my life that I had not thought about in a long time.

You know I look back at my childhood and this is what comes up. Everything that I would do and the boy I would become was directly influenced by everything that I learned about my parents dirty little secrets, what they said at home, how they acted at home and how they acted in public.

There was enough material to assist me in making serious life decisions before I knew what those decisions were and how they would impact my life later on as I grew up. Hey if mom and dad were doing it, then it must not be bad and if they were doing it, then others might be doing it too. I just wanted to be like them. I had made certain choices very early on in life. I knew what I liked and what I didn’t. My father provided me with all the reading fodder I could ever desire from the word GO!!! ohhhh there go them skeletons rattling away in that closet.

I know that the choices I made as a young adult were totally impacted by what I heard come out of my parents mouths as I grew up. Living in a dysfunctional home with bigot, racist, homophobic and antisemitic parents shaped the man I would become. I would never adopt the way they thought and I would never utter the words that they said to me, to others and to themselves.

It was survival of the fittest and someone up there likes me. That pact that I talk about in Naked and Sacred that my grandmother made with God worked, because I am still here and tonight I spoke at my home group for the first time in as many years. It was a very select handful of people who showed up and they got an hours worth of stories from me.

What did I learn about me?

There were certain lessons that I did not learn the first time I got sober that would not be made aware to me until the second time around. Certain things I did not look at in early sobriety that I should have. I did not think when I planned my slip, I wasn’t thinking straight … They say that we plan our slips down to the second, and I did that. And that slip took me to the brink of Hell and I survived.

Why did I drink to begin with? I am still not sure. Maybe because drinking was something we were raised to do, it was something that I was encouraged to do when I came out. Alcohol would be the vehicle for social interaction with my fellows. And it was and it did. I remarked to Rick on the way home and I spoke about it in my share that there is a whole section of my life from 18 to 24 that is a complete BLUR !!! I could not bring up one single set memory from that period to relate in my share tonight. Was it the alcohol and drugs, is it my age, or I am I just not supposed to remember…

I told all the right stories. I spoke about history and mystery. I talked about James’ suicide and what that did to me and how that took me to the brink again, and then i talked about being diagnosed with AIDS and that I tried to kill myself with the drink but failed and that I got sober that first time. I talked about the lessons I learned the first few years and I thought about the mistakes that I made that only facilitated my slip out the door and my long geographic that I pulled for what … love ??? No it was hell … H E L L …

I talked about coming back to Miami and then 9-11 and the story that surrounded the beginning of my return to the rooms of AA. I also shared about how I became a character out of the Big Book and I actually fulfilled one of those roles in the lives of my friends. An irresponsible, thoughtless drunks.

I related the stories of when I was a travel agent and we used to take trips to far away places on free passes – first class – with free booze. They all laughed when I told that story. They were a bit jealous that I we got away with that kind of behavior and nobody stopped us until one by one the adults from that story all got sober, and we all did over the last 20 years.

BOOZE it is insidious. Alcoholism is a disease of the mind. It takes us on fanciful journeys to find pixies and fairies. It was fun for a while, I must admit that there were good times for the most part, with all the people I knew then, all of them are dead now, long since gone … At some point the alcohol got the best of me and took me to the gates of hell. I survived …

I think about my childhood. It was not a good place. Living with Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hide was not fun. Being abused as a child is never pretty and having lived through this would toughen up any kid to grow up and be bitter and jaded. I didn’t grow up that way, I just self medicated. Rick commented to me that he too has particular memory losses, that he remembers the hellacious times and not the good times. Maybe that’s necessary to keep us on the straight and narrow.

I guess I am thankful that I did not grow up to be like my Father or my Mother. They are where they are and I am where I am, and today I am ok with that. I don’t need to know any more, because then I would become invested in lives that mean nothing to me today. Dead – Alive – who knows – I don’t care really, it wouldn’t make any difference to my life right now.

I got in under the 45 minute mark and tidied up the final phase of sobriety in less than five minutes. Had Ginette not shifted in her seat I would have kept on going, but I looked at my watch at the end and I was right up against the hour. I stood, I spoke my truth and told my story. It was a very different story than the last time I told it because of what I learned with a little reflection, introspection and hindsight. So I guess I need to archive this piece here so that it goes with my AA story as it evolves.

That pact that memere made with God so many decades ago is still working. I am still alive and breathing, there is a God. And tonight those 14 people in that room got to hear my experience, strength and hope. Everyone shook my hand at the end of the meeting. I am free tonight …

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be aligned to You oh God, our light, our Hope and our Strength …

That’s all from Montreal tonight.

Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 released from prison after decades in jail

By Suzan Fraser, The Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey – The Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II nearly 29 years ago emerged from prison and declared himself a messenger from God, then spent his first night of freedom in a luxury hotel room.

Mehmet Ali Agca, 52, said Monday he would talk to the media in the next few days.

But it seemed doubtful that his comments would clear up uncertainty over whether he acted alone or had the backing of communist agents, as he once claimed. He has issued contradictory statements over the years and there are questions about his mental health.

Agca shot John Paul on May 13, 1981, as the pope rode in an open car in St. Peter’s Square. The pontiff was hit in the abdomen, left hand and right arm.

John Paul met with Agca in Italy’s Rebibbia prison in 1983 and forgave him.

Following his release, Agca, his hair now grey, waved to journalists and sat calmly between two plainclothes policemen in the back of a sedan that took him to a military hospital. There, doctors concluded he was unfit for compulsory military service because of “severe anti-social personality disorder,” said his lawyer, Yilmaz Abosoglu.

Upon his arrival later at the five-star Sheraton hotel, he addressed reporters in English. He had traded the blue sweat shirt he wore when he left jail for a dark blue suit and tie.

“I will meet you in the next three days,” Agca said. “In the name of God Almighty, I proclaim the end of the world in this century. All the world will be destroyed, every human being will die. I am not God, I am not son of God, I am Christ eternal.”

Agca, who has previously claimed to be the Messiah, said the Gospel was full of mistakes and he would write the perfect one. He delivered a similar message in a long, rambling statement distributed by Abosoglu outside the prison in Sincan on the outskirts of Ankara, the Turkish capital.

Another lawyer, Gokay Gultekin, said Agca was planning to hold a news conference Wednesday.

An army of journalists created chaos in the hotel lobby, scattering chairs as hotel staff looked on helplessly. Agca then took the elevator to his room, where he rested in the company of his brother Adnan Agca and some friends, Gultekin said.

His brother said they were likely to travel to Istanbul later in the week.

Agca, who has said he wants to travel to the Vatican, does not have a passport. One of his lawyers once said that Agca had converted to Christianity while in jail. The motive for the attack on the pope remains unclear but it has not been linked to Islamic issues.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said there were no plans to comment on the release. Robert Necek, spokesman for Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, who served as secretary to John Paul II, also would not comment.

When Agca was arrested, minutes after the attack, he said he had acted alone. Later, he suggested Bulgaria and the Soviet Union’s KGB were behind the attack, but then backed away from that assertion. His contradictory statements have frustrated prosecutors over the decades.

Prosecutors in Poland who are investigating Agca’s attack on Pope John Paul II said his release had no influence on the investigation.

“Testimony from a person who first sells the information to the media … is of no value to us,” prosecutor Ewa Koj of the National Remembrance Institute said. Koj also noted that Agca had changed his testimony many times.

Prosecutors at the institute are studying over 4,000 pages of documents, including Agca’s testimony, they have received from Italy.

Agca had said that he would answer questions about the attack after he was released from prison. He has also said he is beginning to consider book, film and television documentary offers.

He was released after completing his sentence for killing journalist Abdi Ipekci in 1979. He had received a life sentence, which amounts to 36 years under Turkish law, for murdering Ipekci, but he escaped from a Turkish prison less than six months into the sentence and shot the pope in Rome two years later.

Agca reportedly sympathized with the Gray Wolves, a far right-wing militant group that fought street battles against leftists in the 1970s. He initially confessed to killing Ipekci, one of the country’s most prominent left-wing newspaper columnists, but later retracted that.

After his extradition on June 14, 2000, Agca was separately sentenced to seven years and four months for two robberies in Turkey in 1979. But authorities deducted the prison sentence he had served in Italy, and several amnesties and amendments of the penal code further reduced his term. The situation complicated the calculation of his remaining term and led to his wrongful release from prison in 2006. He was re-imprisoned eight days later.

Associated Press Writers Selcan Hacaoglu and Gulden Alp contributed to this report.

God’s Control Panel …

Found over on: Joe My God.

God's Control Panel …

Found over on: Joe My God.

Quake death toll may top 100,000: Haitian PM

If you pray, pray. If you can give, GIVE. If you can help, help. We know tonight that the devastation is massive. Hundreds of thousands may be dead, and the need for medical supplies, food, water and shelter are needed badly.

At the end of this report you can click on the link provided to join the rescue effort.

Let is be said tonight that Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson of the famed 700 Club have earned one way express tickets to hell for their responses to this tragic turn of events in Haiti. I won’t give them their full attention they think they deserve but men like that don’t deserve to breathe the same air that regular human beings breathe.

From: CBC.CA Online 10:28 p.m. Wed 13 January

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told CNN Wednesday the death toll from the earthquake that rocked his country could be “well over 100,000.”

The 7.0-magnitude quake struck Tuesday afternoon, and has left Port-au-Prince, the capital city, in ruins.

No official casualty numbers have been released yet.

Haitian President René Préval told the Miami Herald Wednesday he has been stepping over dead bodies and estimated thousands of people were killed.

He said Bellerive’s projection may be high because it was based on the extent of the destruction rather than firm counts of the dead.

“We have to do an evaluation,” Préval said, describing the scene as “unimaginable.”

“All of the hospitals are packed with people. It is a catastrophe,” he said.

“Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,” he told the paper. “There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them.”

Shattered communication systems in the Caribbean country made it impossible to immediately determine the number of casualties from the Tuesday afternoon quake, but an International Red Cross official estimated that three million people in the impoverished country of nine million may have been affected and could need emergency aid.

UN supplies funding

Paul Conneally said it would take a day or two to get a clear picture of the number of dead and injured, as well as the damage.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed for massive aid for Haiti and announced that the United Nations is releasing $10 million US from its emergency funds.

“There is no doubt that we are facing a major humanitarian-assistance emergency and that a major relief effort will be required,” he said.

Ban said the earthquake has had a devastating impact on Port-au-Prince, while other areas of Haiti appear to be largely unaffected.

“Buildings and infrastructure were heavily damaged throughout the capital. Basic services such as water, electricity, have collapsed almost entirely,” he said.

Aftershocks also continued to rattle the capital.

Scores of injured people lay in the streets of Port-au-Prince early Wednesday as aid groups around the world prepared to provide disaster relief.

A map showing the epicentre of the quake.
A map showing the epicentre of the quake. (CBC)

Simon Schorno, a spokesman with the International Committee of the Red Cross, told The Associated Press that finding and rescuing survivors will be a priority, and aid workers will also help hospitals cope with casualties and establish clean water sources.

He said the 7.0-magnitude quake had caused “massive destruction in all the main neighbourhoods” of Port-au-Prince.

“Haitian Red Cross staff are trying to do what they can but are completely overwhelmed, so there’s no structured response at this point.”

Countries pledge millions in aid

Worldwide relief efforts have begun in earnest, with countries pledging to provide aid, including rescue workers, doctors and supplies.

U.S. President Barack Obama promised an all-out rescue and humanitarian effort, adding that the U.S. commitment to its hemispheric neighbour will be unwavering.

“We have to be there for them in their hour of need,” Obama said.

A Homeland Security official also said the U.S. will halt the deportation of Haitians who are living illegally in the country in light of the earthquake. Those who were to be deported to Haiti will remain in U.S. detention centres for now.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada “stands ready to provide any necessary assistance to the people of Haiti during this time of need.”

The government will deploy the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) — Canada’s team of 200 Canadian Forces personnel, which provides help to areas affected by disaster for up to 40 days.

A 20-member reconnaissance team is due to land in Haiti on Wednesday afternoon to determine how best to assist the country, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon.

Other nations — from Iceland to Venezuela — said they would start sending aid workers and rescue teams. Cuba said its existing field hospitals in Haiti had already treated hundreds of victims. The United Nations said Port-au-Prince’s main airport was “fully operational” and open to relief flights.

The quake struck at 4:53 p.m., centred 16 kilometres west of Port-au-Prince at a depth of eight kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey said. USGS geophysicist Kristin Marano called it the strongest earthquake since 1770 in what is now Haiti, on the island of Hispaniola.

The temblor appeared to have occurred along a strike-slip fault, where one side of a vertical fault slips horizontally past the other, said Tom Jordan, a quake expert at the University of Southern California. The quake’s power and proximity to Port-au-Prince likely caused widespread casualties and structural damage, he said.

“It’s going to be a real killer,” he said.

Most of Haiti’s people are desperately poor, and after years of political instability, the country has no basic construction standards.

Tuesday’s quake was also felt in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, but no major damage was reported. In eastern Cuba, houses shook, but there appeared to be no significant damage.

How to Help

To help those affected by the earthquake, here’s a list of organizations accepting donations.

Sobriety …

Tuesday has come and gone and it was a good day. This semester I get to return to my weekly routine of going to the church early to do set up by myself, and I like it that way. It is my time to be quiet. It is my time to commune with divinity in my own special way. Having the room beneath the church makes the room hallowed and special for me and many others.

It was a cold day out, and it got colder as night fell. It was a hasty walk through the streets to get there, because Westmount Square only lets you out 2 blocks from the church from home. Most of my commute is underground, minus the two blocks from home to to mall – and 2 blocks on the other end.

We had a small group of people for the early meeting, but as usual, when the group is small – the silence is good – because in the past silence was the deathknell for any meeting. But I think we take the silence in this particular room to spend meditating and cultivating the conscious contact with the God of our understanding.

These days, I stay for the speaker meeting at 8 p.m. so I get in two meetings for my week. Today’s topic for the early meeting was Acceptance. It was a good topic and it generated some really open sharing. They say that “Acceptance is the KEY to all my problems.”

I got to spend some time talking to one of the women who come to the meeting afterwards. It was all good. We shifted the room and set up for the later meeting.

Tonight I was asked to thank the speaker, as I was the week before. That means that I have to pay attention to everything that the speaker says – not that I don’t pay attention to speakers when they come to share at our meeting. They say that eventually in the rooms of AA that – at some point you will hear someone share your story from the front of the room.

Tonight got really close. Except my story diverges from the path and turns in a totally new direction. And that is where my head is and has been for the last week. I’ve been ruminating and pondering and obsessing over the past much more than I have been over the last year. Is that a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t know yet. But I know that I will be speaking at my home group next Tuesday night and It has been over a year since I spoke at any meeting in the city since.

I remember the first time I shared in a meeting of AA, way back in the day when I got sober the first time. I was about 2 years sober when someone asked me to share for the South Miami Club Room of AA in Miami. The room was huge, and it was packed. There must have been 200 people in the room that night, and at the point where my story diverges from the heterosexual path of life, 100 men got up and walked out of the meeting and waited outside until I was finished sharing.

I walked outside and one of them walked up to me and said to me and I quote

“We don’t agree with your lifestyle, and You should not have been asked to share here, and you won’t be asked to share here again. And we’d ask you to never come back to this meeting again, we have no need for someone like you here.”

This little story sticks in my memory very clearly. And it tempers the way I share in any meeting where ever I go. We used to go to a gay meeting downtown on Friday nights, that meeting was a discussion meeting, that I stopped going to years ago. And there aren’t many gay meetings running in the city any more – times have changed – so I integrated to my home group, and my sexuality really isn’t an issue to my friends but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be an issue for others.

The last time I spoke at a meeting it was in the same space as our meeting on Tuesday, but that meeting met on a Sunday. And there were only 5 people in the room to hear what I had to say. Needless to say it did not go over well, because they never asked me back again. I don’t do the Sunday meeting there anyways.

So I have to speak next week. Do I speak what is the true story or do I sanitize it for the masses? That’s the question I wrestle with. We shall see next week.

Stay tuned for that update…

That’s all for now. More to come, stay tuned …

Monday Thoughts …

Monday has been exciting … The mail woman brought me a HUGE box this morning and I was all excited. Who knew boots could be so big, yet feel so snuggly and warm.

I went to class tonight and we talked about Biblical History and we also talked about the book of Samuel. I have to get used to reading code and learning what all the biblical codes mean when reading source material and commentaries.

We took a look at the Periods in Biblical History:

  • Patriarchal Period – 1800 bce Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
  • Pre-Monarchic Period 1200 – 1000
  • United Kingdom (Monarchy) Whole of Israel N&S 1000-922
  • Divided Monarchy North falls South a Davidic Dynasty 922-721
  • Judah Alone – Babylonian conquer of Judah 721-587
  • Exilic Period – 587-540 (539) Cyrus the Great
  • Post Exilic Period – 539 – on Persians conquered by A. the Great

Some Manuscript Notes:

  • LXX – Septuagint
  • Q – QumRan
  • MS – Manuscript
  • MT – Masoretic Text
  • GR – Greek
  • Masoretic Texts – 1000 common era (most bibles come from here). 7th to 10th centuries Oldest MT 9th c.
  • Codex Vaticanus – LXX-b Greek 4c. common era Translation of Hebrew into Greek, unique manuscript, closer to old Greek tradition, escaped many revisions (haplographies are numerous)
  • Codex Alexandrius – LXX-a Evidence of systematic revisions, considered less value to Vaticanus
  • Lucianic Codex – LXX-l Close to Qumran Manuscriot 300 c.e. Old Greek manuscript, second strata worked into it. series of additions by Lucian and influenced by Josephus
  • Old Latin Translation – (OL) 2/3c. c.e. original readings from the old Greek, Proto-Lucianic second strata
  • Targum Jonathan – Aramaic version of the prophets. Middle ages
  • Syriac Versions – (Peshitta) 2c c.e. in Syriac close to MT translated from Hebrew. 250 manuscripts – Peshitta
  • Vulgate – Latin Translation by Jerome. Early 5c. close to MT. Proto-Masoretic text vowels not added yet.
  • QumRan – 3rd c. to 1c. Found 2 manuscripts of Samuel in the 4th cave 4QSamB – end of 3rd c. bce affinity to vulgate of old Greek translation into Hebrew. 4QSamA (B was studied before A) Close to MT – expansionist tendency affinities to Lucian codex
  • Quotes from Scripture – Josephus 1c. ce Textual tradition from 4QSamA this is not so reliable.

My prof is big on writing, she hopes that by writing I will memorize more.