Monday, August 25, 2014

Are guns inclined toward moral evil?

Apparently so, or at least the attempt is made to suggest it.  Not gun owners, mind you.  But guns themselves.  The inanimate objects known as guns.  I think the effort epic fails.  Pete the Greek demolishes the idea on just one level.  There are other problems, especially when somehow dragging the atomic bombs into the discussion.  Not that taking into account man's fallen nature is a bad thing.  But this post, like a growing number, seems to throw careful arguments and fact based analysis out the window.  This is all too common anymore, and not just in this one corner of the Catholic blogosphere.  Which might be what comes from putting so much credence in an editorial comic as vapid as Tom Tomorrow.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Expect more media outrage

Over police brutality out of control and racism run amok.  A cop has shot an unarmed...wait.  A black cop has shot...wait.  A black cop has shot an unarmed...wait.  A black cop has shot and unarmed white man.  Uh, yeah.  Nothing to see here folks, get back to work.  Go on.  Go home.  What are you hanging around here for?  May God grant peace to his soul, whoever was to blame, and peace to the families of Dillon Taylor and of the police officer in question.  I'll wait to see what happens before I render judgement.  I'll reserve judgement only for that which clearly deserves it. 

Epic face palm

If you hate white cops and believe all white Americans are genetically programmed to be racists, or believe the greatest threat we face is gun wielding right wing racist radicals,  you just got a major boost to your case.  Where do people find these types?   Of course vintage racism is still alive and well.  As is modern acceptable racism (you can always tell a racist by the color of his skin).  As well as promoting, exploiting, and advocating racism for political gain.  And of course new racism, the kind Herman Cain or Condoleezza Rice experienced, suggesting that there are at least some who have denounced racism more out of convenience than actual belief.  In any event, tirades like this go a long way toward helping those who would use racism for whatever reasons do do away with the last shards of the dying West.

No more comments?

Fr. Longenecker has shut off his comments section.  Sorry to see that.  I'm not a fan of blogs that have no comments or that edit them before posting comments.  That's too easy.  It also threatens to establish the Bully Pulpit, or the Cult of Me.  I horsed about with it a while back.  Early on I had more comments, but sometimes they were not just inflamed, but downright stupid (trolling I think applied in a couple cases).  So when the comments didn't work, I wasn't unhappy.

But once it was fixed, I found that posting with no comments wasn't that satisfying.  After all, I don't know everything.  And part of the reason for the blog - even if that reason seems less realistic now - was to organize thoughts and toss them out there.  Not having comments didn't allow me any feedback.  I still had some who would email me.  But those were usually the reader's own thoughts or articles.  Except for one occasion, email has never been a place I've been corrected.

So I brought them back.  Comments have never been up to what they were at first.  Still, when they happen they're great.  They affirm I might not be completely off the wall, or if they disagree, cause me to rethink what I've said to make sure I"m either near the mark, or at least I'm saying it in a way that conveys the message.

Others have gone this way, or have adopted the 'edit first' approach, and I typically lose interest after a time.  I'll give CAEI that: at least it allows comments to be posted.  Yes, it's looser with the delete and banned buttons, but at least the comments post.

I realize Fr. Longenecker is a priest and, at least in that capacity, he potentially will have to face someone over what he says. That keeps a person humble.  So I may keep going.  But a word of warning to bloggers, especially amateurs: be careful.  You're not good enough to only listen to those who affirm your awesomeness.

On a side note, I realize there could be times when a particular post removes comments.  For instance a prayer request, or posting about a special event.  Or perhaps a nod during a holiday that is special.  For example if you have a hobby blog, like stamp collecting or something, and you just want to say Merry Christmas.  You don't want Netloonies coming buy and spoiling it.  Though if you have a stamp collecting blog, and want to take a dig at Christmas, the above standards for leaving comments should apply.

It's a testimony to our age

That I find this story credible.  Really.  Part of me figures the girl was being overbearing or just trying to disrupt the class, as the school account suggests.  And in another time and place, I would say it had to be that.  After all, in what loony upside-down state would anyone ever be suspended because they said Bless You?  Think about it.  That we could even consider, with any seriousness, that she was actually suspended because of those words just goes to show how far we've come.

Again, wasn't there, don't know what happened.  But it's amazing that there could even reasonably be two side of the story.  That's liberal tolerance and enlightened diversity for you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A big prayer request

We've been fighting a bad virus that hit our family a week ago.  My 9th grader, who after many hoops, was able to take part on the football team, has missed so much practice he likely won't be able to play the season.  So as we were all working to keep everyone healthy and minimize the impact on the older and younger of the family, my Mom had to go to the doctor about a couple of issues she's been having.  The good news is that those issues aren't anything that can't be dealt with.  However, while she was there, the doctor noticed some blemishes on her arms.  It turns out, she has skin cancer.  She goes back in a week to get those patches removed, and to check any others.  

The good news - if there can be good news in all of this - is that the doctor wasn't panicky.  They thought I had cancer years ago, and they were so worried they practically dragged me to the hospital.  Nonetheless, there's no such thing as 'that's cancer' and 'don't worry' in the same sentence.  Mom has been a God-send for us, and these years have been so tough and chaotic I fear she's not been able to relax and enjoy these years with us since Dad died.  Given the difficulties she had with his Alzheimer's, I'm wanting a time of peace for her.
So prayers for her healing, her fast cure, the wisdom of the doctor and nurses, and that God heal her, our family, and give us even a season of peace and joy, so that in these twilight of her years, she can finally sit back and relax and take in the family she has and the grandchildren she is able to be with.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pope Francis

On global capitalism: 
"We are discarding an entire generation to maintain an economic system that can't hold up any more, a system that to survive, must make war, as all great empires have done. But as a third world war can't be waged, they make regional wars...they produce and sell weapons, and with this, the balance sheets of the idolatrous economies, the great world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money, are resolved...
and also: 
"In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."

Pope Francis on ISIS:

"One nation alone cannot judge how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War there was the idea of the United Nations. It is there that this should be discussed. Is there an unjust aggressor? It would seem there is. (emphasis mine)."

I though that was interesting.  Who says there isn't Hell-fire and brimstone left in the Catholic Church?  Not that I altogether disagree with his assessment of where the capitalist economies are heading.  I just found it interesting that he used such blunt language to describe the sins of the market, while using such measured and restrained language to suggest that ISIS is an unjust aggressor (many would have just said ISIS is an unjust aggressor, not seemed to be one).  For me, I criticize where the market and those countries that embrace it are going, but I also am pretty harsh in my assessment of ISIS.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

If you're itching to get a good Catholic perspective

On things like the Catholic Faith, you could do a whole lot worse than visiting Two Catholic Men and a Blog.  Go on.  Go read.  You'll see what I mean.


A great reminder how bumper sticker sloganeering never goes well with deep and serious understandings of the Faith.  WWJD?  Read and enjoy.

Dealing with ISIS: A Catholic Perspective

Well, a different viewpoint.  If you visit some Catholic sites, or pay attention to the media, it appears that Catholics agree: all religions get you there, Islam really just wants to give peace a chance, and if there are problems it's because of the Great Satan's foreign policies.  

Nonetheless, difficult as it is to believe, not all Catholics see it this way.  The post is by a priest who reminds us there is another side to history that doesn't always fit with The Narrative.  Take it for what it's worth.  I'm leery of any too simplistic assessments of a complex series of events.  Still, to go into a problem with the somewhat excessive guilt cum narcissism view that it's all our fault, is of no value whatsoever.  If this article isn't a completely unpacked version, it's at least worth looking at to remember the rest of the story that all too often we want to ignore.  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pope Francis

From another perspective.  We all know that Pope Francis is awesome.  The media says so.  Plus many around the world say so. And millions and millions of Catholics say so.  In fact, many Catholics who once disparaged Popes Benedict XVI and St. JPII, are now all about fealty to and love for the Pope.  And we all know all about the wicked hearts of those who would criticize or oppose Pope Francis in any way.

Often the assault against critics of Pope Francis is based on a snippet of an article or blog post criticizing Pope Francis, or expressing concern.  The clips are sometimes out of context.  The accusations brutal and the charges of 'Francis Haters' flies as much as the charge of 'Harry Hater' did years ago in the Great Harry Potter Debates.

So a reader sent this along, giving a viewpoint about Pope Francis barely heard without a cacophony of screams and charges of 'evil reactionary Catholic!'.  I'm not saying I agree.  I'm not saying that charges of Francis wanting to liberalize the Church are accurate.  Quite frankly, I can't verify the facts or refute them.  And even if the facts are all accurately portrayed, it's impossible to judge motives at this point.  I just thought I'd post a link.  I'd also point out that this is on Fox News.  Fox is no fan of Francis, particularly over his economic views.  Though truth be told, I don't think many actually are.  If they were, I think we'd have already seen some major upheaval and shakeups across the Catholic world.

Anyhow, there's the article.  Take it for what it's worth.  The email my reader sent said, in part, this:
More to the point re: this heavy-handed hierarchy smacking down local Catholics: 
Two further historical points from my own off-the-top memory that I can't resist making: In 1560 the Catholics who had come to India -- originally the Jesuits, as in St. Francis Xavier -- in 1560 they established the Inquisition primarily, as David Bentley Hart noted in his Church history book, to force "Thomas Christians" there into the Tridentine Mass. The Inquisition burned a lot (almost all, says Hart) of the ancient Christian texts they found. The same kind of attempt to force the Western Mass on the Ethiopians resulted in rebellion and the overthrow of the king and the expulsion of all Catholic missionaries (early 1600s). If you are familiar with the history of the Jesuits in China and what happened there, you already know another profound example of this stupidity.  
And not to just dump on Catholics, I think it was in the late 1600s that the Orthodox Church in Russia made liturgical changes and forced these on the people. The people revolted. Unfortunately for them, the Russian state got involved and the result was wide-spread slaughter. So "it's a Church hierarchy thing" that afflicts both East and West.   

Ferguson update

So having released information that people were demanding, rioters once again descended on Ferguson, looting and destroyed property, and spread to other areas of the city.  Not all protesters were involved.  The police backed off, didn't arrest anyone.  Yet the destruction continued.  The Catholic blogosphere approves these tactics.

For me, I've been pointing out that as a generation of adults, we sort of suck.  That has brought about accusations that I'm recycling old liberal attitudes from back in the day: blame society first.  I'm not doing that, I'm  not 'blaming society.'  I'm blaming us adults.

This, on the other hand, is the mentality of that classical post-war liberalism that we all love: that no matter what the rioters do, they're not to blame because evil jack-booted thugs and the vile unjust police state.  Not that I'm not bothered by the growing affection on the Left for ending this old liberty and freedom garbage, and using the state to realize these dreams. A fine reason to want to ban the death penalty I might add.  But that doesn't mean we automatically forgo responsibility for the actions of criminals because The State.  People are still responsible for their actions.

Thus we can say 1. the Police response at times was far less than prudent, 2. we want justice done, 3. peaceful protests are an American right, 4. people who exploit dead teenagers to loot, pillage and destroy and terrorize innocent people are bad.  Pretty simple stuff.  Though I fear increasingly that this perspective is not approved by the Catholic blogosphere, or at least by some who visit it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Two observations about Ferguson

Unless you've been living in a hole, you've heard about the escalation surrounding the shooting of an unarmed African American teen in Ferguson, Missouri.  Things quickly went from bad to worse.  A candlelight vigil turned violent, and police responses only seemed to add fuel to the fire.  Our nation being what it is, pundits and ideologues quickly rushed in to stake their claim to argument of the day.  That's not to say observations are bad, or that commenting on the situation is something new.  Nor is it to say that all the comments or observations were off base.

Clearly the police had some bad reactions, in an age like ours when a growing portion of Americans are worrying about our eroding freedoms. No matter how you slice and dice, how things are perceived is 99% reality for most folks.  So police going into a McDonald's and arresting reporters is almost guaranteed to look bad.  And given the slant and agendas of most who would cover such events, no matter how violent the protesters are, any flaw in the reaction to the violence will likely be what is critiqued.  Especially if the protesters are predominately African American reacting to the shooting death of an African American. FWIW, in our post-racial nation, the news has emphasized the fact that the police captain who, at this point, has brought peace back to the area is African American, as opposed to White.  Thank goodness for MLK, huh?

Anyway, in all this, two observations from the bleachers leaped out at me, showing just how divided we are as a nation.  One [please note, strong language with this post], I think, was a little more honest - if not brutally so - about what all this says about our nation.  It has perhaps one of the most chilling observations I've read in recent months.  Let's face it, we are no longer a United nation no matter how much B.S. we try to shovel. And this event, and the reactions it's brought out, just go to show.  While I don't see eye-to-eye with everything, this article at least touches on some of the obvious shortcomings we have developed as a society.

The other article, here, demonstrates an almost drunken, blundering 'exploit whatever to ramrod the Agenda' approach that is so common today.  In this, we learn that gun rights activists are likely racist hypocrites who don't have a clear desire for anything other than murder and oppression, especially if it's aimed at racial minorities*.  Huh?  True, gun control became one of the side topics brought about by the Ferguson debacle.  But the racists slight?  As I've said, calling someone a racist today would be like calling someone a Communist in the 1950s.  It's a charge reserved for only those cases where we really know.  And yet, in some weird way, this becomes a post so typical today: exploit any crisis or tragedy to malign the rest of the citizens who we've deemed appropriate to hate.  The actual crisis becomes simply a convenient stepping stone toward established my supremacy over everyone else who is really to blame.

Anyway, I thought it odd, and yet all too common.  We are no longer a United anything.  And increasingly, I'm feeling that for at least a segment of the population, human tragedy and suffering are losing their importance unless they help me win an argument on the Internet.  At it's best, that argument may be to point out something that is actually true.  At it's worst, it will simply be to add to the divisions and the rot that is hastening our country's demise.

*As he usually does, reader TMLutas steps in and delivers a verbal spanking for the shameless inquisitorial judgement.  TMLutas is a shining star on CAEI, his comments usually well thought out, fact based, clear and concise, even if I don't always agree.  He and a few others stand out like a sore thumb there.  Yet years ago, that level of discourse he demonstrates was par for the course on the blog.  You could have expected his fine standards for discussion from any one of dozens of regular readers.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Where liberals and libertarians agree

Is that we have seen the source of all evil in the world, and it is the United States.  Well, libertarians only point to America's intervention in such unjust causes as Iraq, Vietnam, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan.  The US is OK as long as we ditch this notion of being anyone else's keeper.  Sure we can trade with them where commerce is concerned.  But let's dispense with this idea that we owe them anything that might cost.

Liberalism, of course, like any revolution seeks to tear down the society it's seeking to reform. And this is best done by convincing everyone that is nothing righteous, no not a thing, in our horrible nation - which is why we need to great reformation to set things straight.

So it's always odd when a proud self identified conservative who despises libertarianism accepts the premise that if there is suffering in the world, it's our fault.  That view is, of course, a mixed bag to people in other countries.  Of course they're willing to let the US kick itself in the butt over things.  But there is also a bit of resentment, as a friend from Nigeria once pointed out, over this notion that the rest of the world is incapable of sinning unless America makes it happen.  It's sort of the evil twin of exceptionalism.  We're so righteous because we declare our nation the cause of all suffering (while obviously being above the causes ourselves).

Anyway, thought it was strange to see this view accepted by someone who ostensibly rejects the two main sources for this view.  Perhaps it's because there is no mention of the endless suffering in the world that doesn't somehow link itself to US shores, however loosely.  I guess if I didn't focus on the suffering of the world outside of US policy, I'd assume all suffering in the world must be the result of US policy.  And that might have nothing to do with anything other than that tendency to adopt the modern notion of aid in advancement of the agenda. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Most Americans will not mind killing refugees

It's true. We have the Catholic Blogosphere and a leading Catholic celebrity bloggger's word.  Of course the usual 'we don't hate America, we just admit it's the most evil and stupid nation in history that is filled with murdering racists and imperialists who are the cause of all evil in the world' comments rush into the story of untold suffering to score the appropriate points.  In addition, a strange turn of using 'we' in the slam, which might be a confession?  I don't know.

Of course these Christians being persecuted in Iraq are the only ones who get attention, because their sufferings can be linked to US policy.  Those suffering in the world who aren't the result of US policy?  You only need a couple fingers to count the posts addressing their sufferings.  Which probably says something right there.

My boys sometimes ask me how the Church fostered eons of antisemitism, tortured hundreds of thousands of people to death, and defended Christian society by slaughtering the infidels.  I tell them to visit the Catholic blogosphere.  It speaks for itself.  

I realize now why pointing out that Jon Stewart is as bad as all the other pundits today results in  such stinging retorts.  After all, the source of the discussion has become just one more part of the modern discourse.  And a celebrated one among Catholic blogging circles at that.  Remember, Catholicism, Catholics and the Catholic Church are not always one and the same.  And as I watch things go as they go, I'm rather glad.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A touch of the Irish

At the Dublin Irish festival.  A friend of mine from Hungary, who knows Celtic (how cool) and sometimes has come over the ocean to recreate life in the emerald isle, wasn't able to be there this year.  Nonetheless we went.  On Sunday morning, there are several worship services, and if you bring canned goods, you get in free.  That's $70.00 off for us.  So we went.

We chose a "Traditional Mass", only to find out that the traditional adjective was, alas, in comparison to a Celtic Mass being held at the same time.  It was, well, very 'mega-church evangelical', as is much of the modern Catholic movements.

From the Mass, we went out to enjoy the fare and the fun.  But boy the people.  When we first went back the year our third boy was born (14 years ago), it was crowded.  But not horrible.  But this year? It was shoulder to shoulder.  You couldn't move that you had to invite four strangers with you.  Not that crowds bother me.  But when you're trying to shuffle a family of six around, including a five year old, that makes it tough.  We did have a chance to take in a bagpipe lesson.  I know, it's close enough.  I've actually thought of bagpipes, and my soon to be sweet sixteener thought of taking them up, until we heard the price.  For a small basic instrument $800.00.  $2200.00 starting for a large set, and that doesn't include the extras.  Whew.  So much for our dreams of piping.

We tried to shop around, but those crowds.  You just couldn't move.  Plus, as my boys noticed, there seemed to be a bit more gratuitous drinking this year than in years past.  Sure, it's been about five or six years since we were there.  The last time a severe storm swept in and everyone was forced to seek shelter in some nearby buildings.  But it was tough to do, plus expensive (as all such things are).  We did get a souvenir  hand-carved stone.    And some fun times together.  And that is worth all the whiskey in Ireland.

That's real.  And the bagpipes are real, too. 

A pot of gold is what you need for those prices.

I'd like to think when the last vestiges of Western Civilization have been swept away, bagpipes will still be awesome.

We dined at an American restaurant disguised as an Irish Pub.  I like the lighting effect.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My first Saturday off

That didn't involve an event.  For over a year and a half, I worked weekends, and Saturdays on a regular basis.  I chose Saturdays because the other days were, whenever I worked, until 7:00 PM.  With the distance from home, that put me home late, effectively missing time with family, no dinner time, and not much chance to be there for anything.

Well all that changed today!  My first Saturday off in a year and a half because I no longer work weekends, and I'm done at 5:00.  That brings me home in time to get back to exercise, and still have plenty of time to help with school, fix things around the house, and even have some sit down dinners.  And it was all for a day with no particular obligations.  True, my Freshman started two-a-days for football yesterday, and because of an early school start, had to do it today as well.  My wife had to take our boy to where he will be taking his driver's test.  I had bills to pay and errands to run and school to prepare for.  But it was on our own time!

Still, a full rich day. We had fun, played and worked, and just durped, as my boys' generation likes to say. Much of it was to prepare to go to the Dublin Irish Festival tomorrow, weather permitting.  All of this culminating in our boys crashing on the floor with me next to them, trying to get them going on the next round of fun, but giving in and conceding defeat.  A day seized I would say.

My wife's boys on a floor. Consider that diem carped.  

It's that time of year again

Yes, it's that magical time of the year when kids are about, carrying instruments and learning fight songs, running around the neighborhood and, of course, getting out there on the gridiron.  Thanks to the Tim Tebow Law, Ohio now allows homeschool kids to take part in school activities.  How they are received varies, but so far, our 9th grader has been impressing people with his perseverance.  Here he is, out on the practice field getting ready for that awesome time of year.  He's the one with the helmet.  HA!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Forty years ago

This was a cultural phenomenon:

Today, this is a cultural phenomenon:

And because blockbusters must pander to the audience, not to mention Jackson's well documented foibles as a writer and director, I have even lower expectations for the third installment of the movies based ever decreasingly on a book called The Hobbit.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why do I do it?

Why do I go back to CAEI? Tis a question that has puzzled the great thinkers of the ages.  Especially after so many of my posts that have been critical of it, which is sort of unfair.  I mean, it's not like I'm read by billions or anything, so criticizing CAEI on my blog is sort of cheating.  Except that if I came close to saying there what I've said here, I'd be banned, as so many are who disagree with Mark at this point.  Even if I'm not banned, for far less than what I've said here, I've taken some pretty tough knocks.  So why go back to be told the following by a well known celebrity blogger:
Catholic moral theology is divided between those (like these popes) who ask "How can we avoid the taking of human life if at all possible?" and those (like you) who ask, "When do we *get* to kill and how can we maximize the number of people we get to slaughter while feeling really righteous about it?" (Emphasis mine)
Now to quote the younger generation, that's some pretty cold smack.  Accusing me of wanting to increase human slaughter because of my vile self-righteousness?  When I've time and again said I believe there are reasons to abolish the death penalty, at least now and here, and this is still said?  Wow.  I mean, wow.  I went back to all the most hardcore fundamentalists I've met - I mean read the KJV or burn in Hell fundamentalists - but don't remember anyone being accused of that.  Jerry Falwell?  Bill Maher?  Maybe.

I'm sure it's been done.  But not by anyone that sane people would regard as credible.  And yet in the Catholic modern media world sans accountability, Mark has become quite the beloved soldier of the True Faith.  Flying around the world, celebrated by Church leaders and bloggers and apologists, increasing his published materials through Catholic publications.  Now, why would I go back to this?  Who in their right minds goes to a blog by someone who clearly has become disgusted by your presence, defends others who insult and accuse you of heinous things, and then steps in and says the same?  I stopped going to radical atheist sites because of better treatment.  Why continue?

Well, because.  First, CAEI was my first roadway into the Church.  Back when I was looking for something by Scott Hahn on the internet that I wouldn't have to purchase, I stumbled on Mark's writings.  They were whimsical and direct, filled with heart and emotion, but with a solid and fair assessment of Catholic teaching as it is understood or misunderstood in today's time.  Without being rude or obnoxious, Mark had a way of making a point with a wink and a nod.  He was clearly conservative, but not afraid of calling conservatives out.  He reserved wrath for those most heinous of assaults on basic morality.  He respected and loved America, while admitting its sins.  He upheld the best of Protestantism and all that Catholics could learn from their Protestant brethren.  For this Protestant minister looking at Catholicism, and knowing some of what I knew at the time, that was important.

Also, because I owe Mark for assistance he offered years ago.  When we were in desperate straights - one of the many times we've been in bad ways since we became Catholic - Mark rallied his readers and really came through.  I don't forget favors easily.

But there are other, less obvious reasons.  For one, I'd hate to think that Mark's approach is making him successful in the Church.  His whole approach is like a bad trip through the worst cable news stereotypes.  It's rage, inconsistency, bad arguments, judgmentalism, leftist intolerance and loathing of a growing list of people over an expanding list of reasons, all of which appear to have made him a bit of a star.  But what does that say for the modern Church?  What does it say about those bishops and priests and fellow bloggers who call him blessed?  Do they approve?  Is this what they want?   Again, the Catholic Church is not efficient, if it is anything.  But to reward this type of behavior.  It bothers me if this is what the Church and its representatives are looking for.

Also, because I'm hoping that despite my fears, the Church really isn't selling out to the Secular Left as my suspicions say it is (see the prophet Saraman, a new power is rising in the dying West).  I mean, I'm not one who denies that the Church has made some bad turns over its long history.  I can't help but wonder if the same is happening today.  Secular liberalism has clearly won the battle for the mind and heart of the dying West.  One can't help but notice that many of the changes in the Church's teachings and approaches to doctrine mirror the post-Christian progressive over anything traditionally understood.  And Mark, who sees himself as forever obedient to the Church, might well mirror this trend.

Finally, because I'm fond of Mark. Like Scrooge's nephew.  I can't help but think there's still that old Mark down there somewhere.  I fear for him, too.  Unlike many in the Church who have dispensed with old notions of Hell and punishment, I still worry that eternal loss of salvation is a possibility.  Mark comes dangerously close to things that Mark c. 2005 would have said put a person's soul into jeopardy of eternal loss.  Such as the above accusation.  That's a false accusation.  That's a judgement of another's heart and soul.  And I offered him my forgiveness, only to have my offer shoved back down my throat for daring to "attack" him (that is, call his arguments lousy, something far kinder than he's said to me and others).  That is a person driving a thousand miles an hour toward a cliff.  If he was a fellow colleague in ministry, we'd have staged what we used to call 'an intervention' by now.

Instead, it being the Catholic blogosphere, he is rewarded and praised.  His growing liberal base loves him and encourages his wrath, anger and hatred of all except his personal friends who cling to conservatism.  And Raca and Fool?  That is the name of the game.  Even when he apologizes for crossing the line, some of his readers chastise him and call him out for straying from the True Way.  And that True Way is the way that helps them understand they are part of an ever shrinking band of Worthy Believers surrounded by an ever increasing sea of deplorable disgraces to the Gospel.  And when I see that happen, I can't help but pray.  And return, hoping that at some point, somehow, against all hope and increasing success, Mark might snap back the the Mark I used to know.  The one who helped me in my journey across the Tiber and into Rome. Anyway, those are the reasons.