Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I am guilty of Word Crimes!

My second oldest gets credit for finding Weird Al's latest greatness more than a week before the news media.  I won't say anything else.  I'm scared to write after this. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Recovering from Surgery

The world's cutest wife is up and about now since her surgery.  From what I can tell, they didn't get all of the growth removed, but hopefully she will be OK for the near future.  I think someday she'll have to go back and have the rest removed.  But I'm sure they'll err on the side of caution.  More prayers will be appreciated.

That is one happy kid enjoying a magnet he found. 

The Muse of Mark

I had to post this.  I just had to.   And shame on me for doing it, since it really is deplorable to let politics spill into a humanitarian crisis.  But perhaps it's inevitable.  In any event, here is the post from Dan C, who has the mind and ears of Mark Shea over at CAEI:
The only ones making this political in any way is Republicans who now explain overtly their fear of Hispanics. I do not hear much from the Democrats at all on the demographics of this. But nearly every complaint from conservatives focuses on electoral power.Why don't Hispanics vote Republican? Maybe that is the problem.
So, Republicans alone are making this political?  They alone are talking about the demographics of this (not even sure what that means, but I've heard this discussion on CNN a hundred times - how this might play into Democrats during election time).  And of course, explain their fear of Hispanics (Conservatives being the racists they are). 

And this is who conservative Catholic Mark Shea has thrown his support behind, defended and even posted praises for his perception about the trouble with Conservatives.  I mean, that's like saying Jack Chick is a credible source for understanding Catholic doctrine. Again, it saddens me greatly.  I don't do this to snipe, but to pray. 

My thoughts on the immigration crisis

First, let's not say it's wrong to bring political wrangling into the issue and then bring political wrangling into the issue.  A first priority should be helping those who are here.  I've seen that said across both sides of the aisle.  

Then, there's nothing illogical or heartless about saying there is a problem that needs fixed. Again, both sides of the aisle are saying this.  I've been following this since I saw the story break on CNN several weeks ago.  Plenty on both sides have proposed their solutions as well as emphasized the need to help.  It's not this side/that side.  Folks on both sides are coming about trying to figure things. 

Then, let's not forget those who live along the borders.  They are important, too.  CNN had an official on talking about the concern over diseases and screening the refugees..  They admitted we don't want this to spill out and jeopardize the surrounding populations.  Listen to those who live there.  The best way to keep them from reaching out to some radical group is to listen and acknowledge that they, too, are important. 

Of course pundits on both sides are doing what pundits do: how can we say it's right when our side does it and wrong when their side does it.  That's what pundits do.  And if we don't want to see this issue get mired in that, then best not to get mired in it at all.

That's not to say the solutions and the fixes aren't worth discussing.  Of course they are. But if we want to, then we had best do our homework, and rise above those partisan pundits who are trying to make whatever they can from this.  It does us no good to condemn such punditry while being part of the same. 

In the meantime, why don't we go radical and put our money where our mouths are.  Not just a little off the top, but get radical.  Sell our possessions.  Give our excess.  Take a child or family in.  More and more people away from the borders are getting involved, so we all can wherever we live.  This can also help those who live along the borders by taking the burden off their shoulders.    

And then slap our politicians around and say we want solutions, not partisan sniping.  Because one thing everyone agrees with: this can't continue as it's going. Just a thought. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Victory!

In the fight for a return to decent, sensible Catholic blogging.  So Mark Shea, who is quite the fan of Simcha Fisher, linked to a post of hers attacking - nay, assaulting - the website Pewsitters.  Now Pewsitters is obviously a very conservative Catholic site.  Perhaps traditionalists.  Maybe, as they say, Reactionary.  I don't know.  Don't visit it much myself.

Anyway, apparently Pewsitters posted a story about the young girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, in which they say they were raped.  Or admit.  Or confess.  Or whatever.  Pewsitter used the word 'admitted'.  FWIW, I wouldn't have thought twice of it.  They admitted.  They revealed what everyone feared.

Ms. Fisher went ballistic.  She unloaded with 'both barrels.'  Go to hell Pewsitters!  We know your odious hearts!   Mark joined in, praising Simcha and casting venom and loathing as well, explaining that they were in the same camp as those barbaric third world types who still feel a woman raped deserves to be blamed for having sex, even when raped.

The problem?  (I was the first to comment)  Not being a linguist, it didn't seem to me to follow there was only one way to interpret the word 'admitted', on which the entire broadside from Ms. Fisher and Mark relied.  And as such, I reminded everyone that the Catechism is pretty clear how we're supposed to approach others when in comes to interpreting things they've said.

I was quickly answered and accused of hurting my own extensive criticisms of Mark's posts and being some referee apparently.  But soon, a strange thing happened.  Even folks who don't care for Pewsitters began to scratch their heads and say, "You know, the word "admitted" might mean many things, and it could easily mean something not at all bad in this context."  A couple diehards, mostly progressive commenters on Mark's site tried to stem the tide, accusing some of being Francis haters or trying to split hairs, but more and more those posting reactions were a bit disturbed by this.  For Mark and Simcha's hatred was palpable.  Her contempt and loathing of those at the site was clear.  And yet, it was based upon something that, to be honest, I could have read twenty times and never, even with Pewsitter's other posts I looked up, concluded they were suggesting these poor girls were guilty for being raped.

The good news?  Mark pulled the post.  There's still hope.  I admit I'm not a fan of Ms. Fisher.  I'm sure she's a fine person.  But as a blogger, she spends quite a bit of time lamenting the age old lament of those other believers.  And she has no problem casting the most vile verbal assaults and accusations and labels at those she disagrees with on such things as politics, women's rights, fashion, art, you name it.  To be honest, it reminds me of caricatures of old time fundamentalists, albeit with a prolife feminist slant.  Since Mark first began praising her and her blog years ago, I've noticed a long change into what things are now.  Maybe he's just easily influenced.  I noticed a change after he began reading Leah Libresco's blog, and some others, too.  I don't know.

But in any event, he did the right thing.  This was a flat out grievous accusation, a horrid - and unless it's true, slanderous - attack on fellow believers.  Mark was right to remove his post.  I pray he does a better job avoiding such posts in the future.  Whether Ms. Fisher concedes the same and either removes the post or apologizes, we'll have to see.  But for now, at least one right thing has been done.  Kudos to Mark.  May this be the beginning of better and more careful posting in the future.

UPDATE: Sigh.  Mark reposted this.  I had hoped it was removed.  But Mark reposted with what could only be seen as a very, very slight apology.  Essentially an apology that says 'because some charitable readers insit I've judged falsely, I will officially apologize to those odious reprobates at Pewsitter.'  I did what I seldom do, and that's tell Mark about what I think about his blog on the thread.  We'll see.  Keep praying is my opinion.  Perhaps it's Mark being on Patheos.  I don't know.  I just know, as I said in my comment, that Mark's blog has become everything he used to warn against.  And that's never a good sign.

I've copied Ms. Fisher's post in case she does remove it, simply as a point of reference:





"Schoolgirl “admits” being raped?
“Admits?”
I clicked on the link, and that’s what the headline says in the original article, too. I’d say Pewsitter was just unthinkingly reproducing the headline and bears no responsibility for the outrageous implications of that word, but anyone who’s been on Pewsitter’s vast and trackless bad side knows that they routinely make up headlines that suggest whatever they want to suggest. “Admits” is the word they liked.
The hell with them."

Monday, July 14, 2014

The coming storm

I had to run and get our soon to be freshman home from Football practice.  Just when I was thinking of getting going with some serious blogging, looks like we're going to have to wait.  I got him home (as well as an ankle brace for a twisted ankle), and this is what we saw:


So it looks like it's going to be a while before I get back.  Tomorrow is my wife's surgery. Prayers will be appreciated.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Incredibly Beautiful indeed

Thomas McDonald links to an online digital facsimile of a 16th century prayer book.  A direct link is here.  That is loving craftsmanship.  Not that I'm against mass production, but let's face it, which would we rather have?  A table off the assembly line or one handcrafted by a master craftsman?  On the other hand, most peasants, and most people, wouldn't have had a prayer book like this, nor could they afford anything but the most rudimentary furnishings, probably makeshift or made by their own hands.  It's nice to imagine the best of history, but keeping it real is an important counterbalance.  Still, a world where everyone could have something like that?  Even if everyone had one, I think it would still be awesome.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Creepiness on the Catholic Blogosphere

So there's been a couple posts over at CAEI about Allah being the same God as the God of Catholics.  Technically it's more complicated than a blog post.  It really is.  We're talking linguistics, culture, history, anthropology, theology, you name it.  But that's not my point.

In one of the posts, the Church's lone mention of Islam in the Catechism is mentioned.  OK.  A few comments.  I didn't bother to comment.  But then someone (a regular reader in recent times) popped in to basically trash those war loving Americans and their post-9/11 hysteria.  You know, the hysteria that didn't end in mosques, Arabs, and Muslims being slaughtered (and remembering most casualties of the American wars are the result of Muslim against Muslim fighting).

So I responded with a bit of a snarky quip, I must admit:
"Hysteria? I can barely remember when 9/11 even mattered. That was in 2001, right?"
I expected an exasperated shot about nobody is forgetting 9/11 or that 9/11 is no joke or something.  But nope.  What I got was this:
"For most of us. There unfortunately is a significant vocal minority for whom it does matter inordinately. Also the Ground Zero Mosque debacle."
Wow!  For most of us?  Basically saying 'yep, thank God (or Allah) we're done with that event except for a few loonies who still insist, apparently, that we should care or oppose Islamic conquest, or something?'  Welcome to the Catholic Blogosphere mate.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How true

After talking about this year's homeschool, we were just batting things around.  Why things are, what's happening to the country, life in the internet age.  Then one of my boys quipped 'we're a generation of cynical fanboys.'  I like that.  Sort of like I wrote here about the proliferation of those particularly proud geeks who may still be influenced, not by profound philosophy or deeply spiritual devotion to God, but by that itch to always consider oneself to be far better than the rest of those dolts trying to belong or actually help the team win.  A generation of people who see nothing but the bad in everything except that which we randomly declare to be awesome because we think so. 

So it isn't surprising that one thing we have that's almost omnipresent in our society is the tendency to heap scorn on those who have already tried to solve actual problems, rather than sit in the armchair and bitch at everyone else for not being as awesome as we are.  

That's what I call bitchito ergo sum: I bitch, therefore I am.  Or translated: why actually accomplish anything by solving problems on behalf or our posterity when I can sit at home on the computer and bitch at everyone else for not being as awesome as I would be if I decided to actually be part of the solutions.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Eeek

Fr. Longenecker links to a story buzzing about on the internet regarding two gay men manufacturing a baby for themselves the old fashioned way.  But the good father sets aside the multiple ethic questions that permeate the story to focus on a line in the story.  The mother who carried the the baby for the men in question is referred to as 'an unrelated gestational carrier.'   Whew.  How heart warming.

It reminds me of an old Bloom County cartoon where Opus the penguin is in a panic about the drastically changing times (that being Reagan's 80s). In the end, he can lean on only one safe haven of comfort in the tidal crashes of our modern age: motherhood.  He finds a pregnant woman and leans against her, sighing.  And in the last frame, the woman blandly responds - "surrogate".

Have I mentioned that we're seeing the bedrock of future holocausts before our eyes?  The saddest part is that it will be our children and their children who pay the price for our lunacy and apathy and arrogant inaction.

Friday, July 4, 2014

From memories of my childhood view of patriotism

And in response to a tirade against this by one of the commenters of the Catholic blogosphere, who declared his eternal disgust at having to sing this song in school because of that wretched 'land of the pilgrim's pride' part.  For me?  I'm more than happy to remember and proclaim it.



P.S.  The cookout was great, we watched the entire wonderful series on the American Revolution narrated by the late Charles Kuralt, and now the fireworks begin.






Lou Gehrig's contribution to this Independence Day

One final note on this July 4th.  It's the 75th anniversary of one of the greatest speeches in American history, and probably the greatest out of the world of athletics.  Here's a post where I linked to the speech to remind myself of real courage in the face of adversity.  When the old world gets you down, remember this speech, and you'll not see it the same way.

Another way of thinking Independence

A reader sent me this link.  It's to one of those 'the history you never knew' approaches to the story.  It starts out by gleefully putting to rest all of those old fables that anyone my age or younger have long since had put away.  But it puts some interesting spins on just what those rebellious Patriots really wanted.  Like much scholarship today, it has a pretty 'polemical' smell to it.  And like most issue based history, there is probably more to the actual events than given here; focusing on molehills in the hopes of making a mountain or two. Still, it's always fun to read different viewpoints about history.  History is an art, after all, not a science.  So read and enjoy.  

Why do we remember Paul Revere

But not Samuel Prescott or William Dawes?  Because of Longfellow:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,—
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said, "Good night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade, —
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay, —
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders, that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British Regulars fired and fled, —
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farm-yard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Can Catholics love America?

You'd not think so to read some on the Catholic blogosphere.  But then the blogosphere is at once a poor gauge for understanding reality, yet also a portent of things to come, because it is the petri dish from which idiocy and vileness will grow alongside good and solid ideals.  

Now it's no shock to students of history that the Catholic Church has had a love/hate relationship with the US and, in fact, with all the Democratic revolutions of the Enlightenment Age.  And of course, given the decay and death infecting the Western Tradition, there's an argument to be made.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  Part of the reason why we are dying is because we've spent so much time focusing on the bad, and being forced to focus on the bad by those who would exploit the bad to ramrod their agendas, we've lost the ability to be proud of our nation.  Even I feel at times a bit silly for speaking of my love of country.  

Yes, admitting to and learning from past errors and even evils is a necessary part of love of country.  But it can go too far.  Just like confessing our sins is a good thing.  Dwelling on them, refusing forgiveness and absolution, and eventually committing suicide out of despair is a bad thing.  

And sometimes those on the Catholic blogosphere seem to lose track of when and where these lines should be drawn.  So here is Fr. Dwight Longenecker shedding some typically reasonable insight.  It's OK to look at the blessings while never forgetting our responsibilities.  And sometimes, just a good old Favorite Things list of why this is still an exceptional experiment in the history of human societies can do the mind good.  Read and enjoy, and Happy 4th of July.  Off to the patriotic specials, documentaries, and feasting with families in a (still) free nation. 

Will someone rid us of these pesky freedoms

So I turned on CNN today, this July 4th.  I didn't see the entire segment in all fairness.  But apparently a scholar is saying we may need to rethink the Declaration of Independence - which is alternately important and irrelevant, depending on what we're talking about nowadays.  Anyway, he says we've misinterpreted the Declaration because after the famous preamble section "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", there should be a comma, not a period.  And of course, according to the CNN host, this means that the Founding Fathers meant that it is these things are provided by the government.

First, I've looked at several copies of the text, and I've seen a comma, a period, and a semi-colon.  Even CNN said, looking at the original, that it was likely a semi-colon.  Assuming that the nuances of punctuation mean the same for us as they did the Founding Fathers, that still means...what?  If the context of the rest of the document is ignored, it could mean that the it is the government that is the source of all happiness and liberty.

Or if we look at the whole document, we might see that the pause in thought could mean what we've always been taught: That we have these rights given us by our Creator, and that to secure these God-given rights, governments are instituted among men and derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Sure, governments must exist.  The Declaration says nothing else.  But why, how, and in what role is completely separate, and certainly not as CNN tried to suggest, that all these things are made possible by 'the government.'  Sure the government is a part of the puzzle, but unlike the modern Left, is is not the puzzle.

But don't take my word, go hear for the complete text.


Happy Birthday America

Right now your citizens aren't living up to their potential I'm afraid.  But there's always hope.  Hope that a generation will rise up able to learn from the mistakes of the past, without using them to excuse the chase after wild and absurd ideas focused on ourselves.  A generation so immersed in the bad of our past and present that we've lost the ability to celebrate our blessings.  Yes, there's hope.  Maybe God does still shed his grace on thee.  I'm fine with that idea. Time will tell.  But for now, happy birthday.  You may not be perfect, but at your worst you've seldom been as bad as others at their worst, and sometimes you've been better than some nations at their best.  As a fellow from Uganda said, "America has never done bad that well."  And that's a great thing to be thankful for on this, our country's 238th birthday.  Happy July 4th.

Not one of my boys' textbooks had this picture that once appeared in multiple textbooks when I was growing up.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hysteria on the Left

As the SCOTUS deals the third consecutive blow to the Left Wing juggernaut.  They seem to forget not too long ago when the court uplifted Obama's demand that everyone purchase healthcare (a position the US Bishops didn't seem to mind), as well as upholding the court's right to trump the democratic process when it comes to gay rights.  Even though it was a split decision, it was THE LAW OF THE LAND.  Much celebrating ensued.  Now, it's this, which shows that this is simply the classic Marxist approach of 'history about us vs. them.'  In this case, those who want religious liberty are the theocrats, and those wanting to impose a secularists values system on religion are the freedom fighters.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Remembrance Day



A day to remember, reflect, and pray.  To remember the day that started it all.   Not a day to look back at those losers  who weren't as hip as we are.  Any other generation might be able to make such a judgment, but not ours.  I used to tell my boys that WWI began because a Serbian nationalist assassinated the Archduke of Austria, so naturally Germany invaded France.  It was an attempt at a humorous way of conveying the context out of which World War I emerged. The tangled web of treaties and alliances and family squabbles had finally hit the boiling point, and a generation that was busy patting itself on the back for its awesomeness and hip maturity was about to get a gruesome wake up call.  We're Marching To Zion, so the old hymn went.  We were marching there.  No need to wait for the Second Coming, we were busy doing what God Himself couldn't do.  The illusion began to fade in the icy waters of the North Atlantic a couple years earlier.  Now it was about to be demolished, and all starting with a disillusioned and disturbed young man in a far away country that few probably had heard about in the States.  Within four years, tens of millions would be dead and millions more lives forever changed.   

As we are in our own era of repeating historical mistakes because of arrogance, apathy and ignorance, may we use this day not to condemn those who went before, but to accuse ourselves as we stumble blindly ahead, ignoring the signs, and setting up the foundation for future atrocities that may make those of the last century pale in comparison.  

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Friday, June 27, 2014

How to be an obedient Catholic

Easy, follow everything the Church teaches through the prism of what the Church is really intending to mean.  So Pope Francis came out and pretty much smacked down this movement of legalizing illegal drugs.  Of course legalizing drugs won't solve any more problems than it creates.  So Pope Francis (who is always awesome) steps up and says the solution is elsewhere, not in saying 'just do it!'.  And how is it reported by those warming up to a more progressive manifestation of good old Catholic living?

The Pope condemns legalizing Pot, but not really.  How that wasn't condemning the movement, I don't know.  Perhaps because he didn't actually say Pot.  Maybe he didn't use the exact wording.  Perhaps because he focused on getting at the core problems that lure people into drug use in the first place.  In any event, what he obviously said is suddenly discarded for what he clearly means.  Using any one of the above options, or perhaps others.

Of course when people said Pope Benedict prayed for peace when we bombed Libya, but didn't explicitly condemn the action, the action was OK - why they were the worst.  Or the Church didn't say waterboarding, just torture, why it's heretics on the march!  But you see, there's the trick.  That's how you're always obedient.  When you agree with the Church's statements, it's always what the clear and obvious teaching in black and white happens to be.  But when you're a little uncomfortable?  Why, that's when it's to between the lines we must turn.  I always wondered how, with a living, breathing Magisterium, Catholics could so wildly disagree while insisting they're right and everyone else is wrong.  Now I know!