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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 23, 2007

libro et limbo etc.

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 11:12 am


WorldBookDay2007n Thanks to Toronto law librarian — and “info diva” — Connie Crosby, I discovered on Saturday that April 23rd is UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day.  To help celebrate that day, Connie is hosting Blawg Review #105 this week at her Connie Crosby Weblog. The organizers of World Book Day explain:

By celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright. . . .

23 April is a symbolic date for world literature for on this date and in the same year of 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died.
The idea for this celebration originated in Catalonia where on 23 April, Saint George’s Day, a rose is traditionally given as a gift for each book sold.

Apparently, many gentlemen in Catalonia give a lady a rose on April 23rd and receive a book in return (and, let’s hope a kiss, too). The Wikipedia entry for the event tells us that: “On World Book Day a free book token is given to all school children in the United Kingdom and Ireland [where the Day is now inexplicably celebrated on the 1st Thursday in March]. . . . They can be used to buy one of the books that are released especially for the day and cost the value of the token or any other book or audiobook. Many schools also choose this day to hold a readathon or a book sale.” 

checkedBoxSRather than stress the Copyright Law protection aspect of the Day, I hope you’ll learn about the Fair Use exception to copyright.  We have an essay on Haiku and the Fair Use Doctrine here at f/k/a (which goes into the basics).  At shlep, you can find a discussion and collection of links to Fair Use materials, as well as excerpts from Brooklyn Law Prof. Jason Mazzone’s writing on the intriguing topic of Copyfraud — . . . . “false copyright claims, which are often accompanied by threatened litigation for reproducing a work without the owner’s permission, result in users seeking licenses and paying fees to reproduce works that are free for everyone to use.”

Thanks to the folks at UNESCO, you can download the 2007 World Book Day poster “in high-resolution PDF for your printing and reproduction needs”:

  1. Poster with text in English and French
  2. Poster without text (for you to add text in your language) 

on the bridge
hundreds died to defend
end-to-end graffiti

………………. by George Swede – Acorn #17 (2006)

cheek on her hand
… the pages
turn themselves

…………………………………. by peggy willis lyles

lunch alone
without a book
i read my mind

…………………………… by tom clausen 

LimboDante Limbo illustration orig. 

Lower Limbo Now: You surely read over the weekend that the Vatican has thrown into doubt the existence of limbo, and more directly throws doubt on the virtually universal Catholic belief (never deemed to be actual dogma, they note) that a baby who dies without baptism can never go to Heaven to be with God eternally, but must live outside the beatific vision in Limbo.  That’s because the infant “is with original sin.” It is all still very iffy, but after almost three years studying the issue, the Rev. Luis Ladaria (secretary-general of the Church’s International Theological Commission) gave the good news:

“We can say we have many reasons to hope that there is salvation for these babies.”

Happily, the blawgisphere had a refresher course on Limbo at Infamy or Praise, in Blawg Review #35. According to Dante’s Divine Comedy, the first circle of Hell comprises the souls of people who did not commit evil acts but who were not baptised and therefore cannot enter Heaven (several translators refer to these as the “Virtuous Pagans”) It includes the Limbo of the Children/Babies and Limbo of the Fathers.  More specifically, as to babies, the Associated Press tells us:

“Catholics have long believed that children who die without being baptized are with original sin and thus excluded from heaven, but the church has no formal doctrine on the matter. Theologians have long taught, however, that such children enjoy an eternal state of perfect natural happiness, a state commonly called limbo, but without being in communion with God.”

The new report has been approved by Pope Benedict XVI.  It is, however, far from a definitive statement on Limbo for Children.  The document stressed, that “these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge.”  Therefore, “Catholic parents should still baptize their children, as that sacrament is the way salvation is revealed.”

passion flower
your faith
or mine?

open window
I polish a mirror
from my childhood home


cemetery road
the chain gang
breaks for lunch

traffic jam
my small son asks
who made God


…………….. by peggy willis lyles
“dust on the pews” & – “traffic jam” from To Hear the Rain (2002)
“open window” – FreeXpressSion, February 2007
“cemetary road”- Modern Haiku 37:3, Autumn 2006

As we noted at the time, a 2005 New York Times article gave details of the Vatican committee that would be looking into the limbo concept and outlined some of the issues at stake. “Limbo, an Afterlife Tradition, May Be Doomed by the Vatican” (Dec. 28, 2005). As Ian Fisher wrote for the Times:

“Unlike purgatory, a sort of waiting room to heaven for those with some venial faults, the theory of limbo consigned children outside of heaven on account of original sin alone. As a concept, limbo has long been out of favor anyway, as theologically questionable and unnecessarily harsh. It is hard to imagine depriving innocents of heaven.”

Actually, Fisher explained that Limbo was originally conceived as a more palatable possibility for unbaptized babies (and “virtuous pagans”).  Before its “creation”, St. Augustine’s vision was the Church’s position:

Fr.VentaloneS “The theology is complicated, but the bottom line is that Augustine, believing in mankind’s original sin, persuaded a church council in 418 to reject any notion of an ‘intermediary place’ between heaven and hell. He held that baptism was necessary for salvation, and that unbaptized babies would actually go to hell, though in his later writings he conceded that it would entail the mildest of [hellish] conditions.” 

The NYT article notes why the Church would give this lengthy bureaucratic assignment about a “theological hypothesis” to so many of its most talented experts at a time when its resources could be used so well elsewhere:

“But [limbo] remains an interesting relic, strangely relevant to what the Roman Catholic Church has been and what it wants to be. The theory of limbo bumps up against one of the most contentious issues for the church: abortion. If fetuses are human beings, what happens to their souls if they are aborted? It raises questions of how broadly the church – and its new leader – view the idea of salvation.

“And it has some real-life consequences. The church is growing most in poor places like Africa and Asia where infant mortality remains high. While the concerns of the experts reconsidering limbo are more theological, it does not hurt the church’s future if an African mother who has lost a baby can receive more hopeful news from her priest in 2005 than, say, an Italian mother did 100 years ago.”


waiting for you–
the faces
of missing children


children’s ICU–
a tissue box beside
the pay phone


……………………… by John Stevenson from Some of the Silence (1999)  


Fr.VentaloneN  There will surely be dissenters to this bleeding-heart approach to limbo and unbaptized babies and fetuses.   One priest wrote of his “serious concern” over tampering with the limbo doctrine, when the task was first assigned.  Writing “Could Limbo Be ‘Abolished’?“, in Seattle Catholic (Dec. 7, 2005), Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S.

 “Hence, I feel it important to stand by, and indeed, reinforce, the position I expressed earlier, to the effect that this potential new ‘development’ of doctrine is a matter of serious concern.  . . .  For such a document would inevitably accentuate the already-existing tendency for Catholic parents to be lax and negligent about having their children baptized promptly after birth, and would therefore run the risk of being partially, but gravely, responsible for barring Heaven to countless souls, in the event that Limbo does turn out to exist after all.”

If you’re interested, Fr. Harrison presents “a survey of recent and ancient magisterial teaching on this difficult question,” including this discussion of abortion victims:

“[I]t appears that the only papal statement expressly mentioning the destiny of aborted infants is that of Pope Sixtus V, whose Constitution Effrænatam of 29 October 1588 not only abstains from raising any hopes that they may attain the beatific vision, but positively affirms that they do not attain it!”

” . . . The soul of the unborn infant bears the imprint of God’s image! It is a soul for whose redemption Christ our Lord shed His precious blood, a soul capable of eternal blessedness and destined for the company of angels! Who, therefore, would not condemn and punish with the utmost severity the desecration committed by one who has excluded such a soul from the blessed vision of God? Such a one has done all he or she could possibly have done to prevent this soul from reaching the place prepared for it in heaven, and has deprived God of the service of this His own creature.”

LimboStick   In his hit song Limbo Rock, singer Chubby Checker urges dancers to “limbo lower now,” and asks “how low can you go“.  This issue limbo has struck a chord with me (causing me to belabor it here today), because Limbo for Babies has always symbolized my biggest complaint about the God that was described to me during my Catholic upbringing: He is supposedly all-loving and all-just (not to mention all-powerful), and yet he banishes otherwise innocent infants from His sight, because they carry guilt and degredation due to the purported sins of Adam and Eve.   Fr. Harrison asks who could be more terrible than an abortionist, “who has excluded such a soul from the blessed vision of God?”  Well, it’s apparently God who Catholics have for two thousand years saddled with responsibility for making the no-baptism-no-salvation rule.  

checkedBoxS As I’ve often said to my still-in-the-Church Catholic friends and loved ones: You paint a picture of God that insults both God and mankind.  I don’t buy it. The new, wishy-washy alternative possibility for the fate of unbaptized babies doesn’t make the Catholic version of God or mankind much more palatable.  I again have to wonder what the historical Jesus Christ would make of what the Catholic Church has done to his humble message of love.

Other views on putting Limbo into Limbo:

  1. At Seattle PI’s Snark Attack, D. Parvaz warns “I think Catholics are making a big mistake here in not realizing just how evil (and hence, doomed) unbaptized babies are. Really. Way to let ’em off the hook, Pope.”
  2. Michael Fountain laments the possible loss of limbo for the Virtuous Pagans: “That first generation of Christians had a problem, as if the Romans weren’t enough. If knowledge of Christ was a ticket to Heaven, what about their beloved grandparents, dead these many years, who wouldn’t know a Christian from Adam? If you love your grandma, you wouldn’t want to see her roasting in Hell with Nero…? The “Virtuous Pagans” teaching solved this psychological problem, and reconciled Heaven with the pagans’ Elysian Fields. “
  3. L.A. Catholic doesn’t seem to like the kinder-gentler fate for unbaptized dead babies, stressing “We should all tell everybody: The document is NOT infallible, and it does NOT say anything definitively.” 


cathedral garden
cardinals in the birdbath
scatter drops of light


river baptism
another frog
with just three legs

…………….. by peggy willis lyles
“river baptism” & “cathedral garden” – from To Hear the Rain (2002)


HelpWantedSign   Speaking of limbo, shlepother weblog, is still waiting to be adopted.  If you are interested in taking on management responsibility for an award-winning weblog focused on pro se litigation and the self-help law movement and community, please check out the above link and get in touch with me.


 Startling Starlings: photo by Richard Barnes in NYT orig.  starlingsRBarnesBYT 

         In his New York Times op/ed piece Flight Patterns (April 22, 2007), bird-watching maven Jonathan Rosen spotlights some amazing photography taken in Rome by Richard Barnes — looking at the swarming starlings that are “beloved by tourists and reviled by locals.”  Rosen tells us:

“Richard Barnes’s photographs capture the double nature of the birds — or at least the double nature of our relationship to them — recording the pointillist delicacy of the flock and something darker, almost sinister in the gathering mass.”

He concludes that “Bird-watching thrives on the recognition that the urban and the wild must be understood together. We are, after all, urban and wild ourselves, and still figuring out how to make the multiple aspects of our nature mesh without disaster.”  That juxtaposition of human nature with nature, and the tension of being both wild and “civilized” is at the heart of haiku.   I believe you will enjoy the multimedia interactive feature that accompanies this interesting article.


starlings on the telephone wire


……………….. by George Swede from Almost Unseen

clouds of pollen
drifting through sunbeams —
a sparrow’s sudden flight  

…………… by Michael Dylan Welch – Thornewood Poems  


corporate parking lot
another starling
settles on the power line

…………….. by Yu ChangUpstate Dim Sum (2005/I)

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