LONDON, ONTARIO – Another round of predominantly gay clerical sex abuse scandals is roiling away in the Catholic universe. Three major detonations have set off this latest fusillade of clerical creepiness. All of them happen to be based in the United States but could have happened (and I fear will be happening) anywhere and everywhere in the world. The first was the suspension of the now-geriatric Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from any form of public ministry following allegations of decades of sexual abuse of minors and adult seminarians. As the former Archbishop of Washington, the formidably well-connected McCarrick was one of Pope Francis’ most trusted advisors and emissaries and an absolutely crackerjack fundraiser.
LONDON, ONTARIO – My first excursion off Canadian soil took place in my sixth or seventh summer when our parents packed up the four Goodden boys and took us down to Detroit to visit my mother’s Aunt Bea and her husband Ern. I remember certain moments from that trip with astonishing clarity; particularly two little side trips we made. One of these was to the Detroit Zoo which had an amazing reptile house where all kinds of slithery, cool-skinned creatures could be seen face to face with a sheet of thick glass intermediating the encounter.
LONDON, ONTARIO - Over the last couple decades, I’ve taken to reading the daily death notices in The London Free Press. It’s a hard habit to form any earlier in life and is less likely to take hold in people who haven’t lived in their community for a long time. You simply won’t know enough of the people whose ends are recorded there (usually, it must be admitted, in less than scintillating prose) to reward any but the most morbidly dry curiosity.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Matrimonially speaking, we live in bewildering times. On the one hand, we are asked – indeed hectored and not so subtly commanded – to not just regard as ‘marriageable’ pairs of human beings who 20 years ago would not have been regarded as biologically qualified for the position; but to approve of whatever sort of union they contractualize. On the other hand, a large proportion of young couples of all orientations don’t see the point of marriage at all and blithely forgo it altogether without censure or reprobation (except perhaps from their traditionalist elders whose concerns are of little account).
LONDON, ONTARIO – I first became aware of G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936) in my late 20s on a literary tip from my friend Jeff Cencich. “I think you’ll like this guy,” he said, dropping a copy of his Selected Essays on the counter of City Lights Book Shop where I was working as a clerk. As I identified with Chesterton so immediately and so strongly, I’m glad that introduction wasn’t made any sooner; that my character and literary proclivities were more or less established before he arrived on my scene. We’re both inclined to portliness, we both have walrus moustaches, we share a birthday, and we both enjoy the composition of humorous essays. The overlap between us (cue Twilight Zone music) was a little spooky. I admire the man tremendously but I’d hate to be accused of aping him
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