Friday, December 31, 2010

A very happy and Catholic New Year!

Will be gone the rest of the day and probably the rest of the weekend.  I'll get back into things come Monday.  In the meantime, we're planning on obnoxious amounts of playing and resting and goofing around and feasting and generally enjoying the blessings of the Season.  So have a blessed and happy New Year with those you love, and we'll see everyone in a few days.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Battle of Towton revisited

For you lovers of history, especially military history, especially medieval military history, especially British medieval military history, this article is for you.  A very well done, well written article on the archaeological digs at the site of the battle of Towton, one of the many clashes during the conflict history knows as the War of the Roses.  As always, watch for words like 'think', 'believe', 'suggests', as in 'we believe', or 'we think', rather than we know.  Even with all of our scientific advances, we can still only guess at many things that happened in years gone by.  Still, it does do a good job at helping to advance the reality that many of our notions of life in the pre-modern world, especially that period known as the Middle Ages, are perhaps less accurate than we might believe.

The money quote from the article is this:

"At this distance any theories are likely to remain plausible rather than proven."
That's true for more of history than we might care to admit.  Nonetheless, it shows the art involved in reconstructing what we think might have happened. 

Chris Brown has homophobic rant?

OK, I admit that I vaguely know who Chris Brown is.  I know even less about anyone who goes by the moniker Raz-B.  What caught my eye was the headline: Chris Brown launches into homophobic Twitter feud with Raz-B.

That word 'Homophobic' is what caught my eye.  The easy, casual way in which it was used.  I wonder does anyone know or think about what the term means?   Homophobic.  I know what it is supposed to mean - anyone who doesn't embrace the gay rights movement and the dogmatic liberal definition of morality regarding the issue of homosexuality.  But the way it is used.  Phobia means, basically, an irrational fear of something.  For instance, I'm claustrophobic.  That's why I don't fly.  Not because I'm scared of heights, or flying.  I just can't stand being locked into an airplane.  To me, it's the same as being locked into a submarine.  You're in, you're locked in, that's it.  When we went to Disneyworld some years ago with my wife's family, and they talked me into going on the 20000 Leaggues Under the Sea ride, I almost flipped.  It was almost ankles, knees, and elbows getting out of that thing.

I know it's irrational.  I just can't seem to do anything about it.  Now many fears can be fears, and can become irrational, even if they are rational to begin with.  For instance, my second oldest son was attacked once by a cat we used to own.  Clawed him up and bit his leg up.  He still has the scars.  He is, understandably, shy about getting near cats to this day.  While some of that could be labeled phobic, it's obviously not without warrant.  And while it could become a phobia, there is obviously some logic behind its source.  Likewise other fears, like a fear of tornadoes, are not illogical at all.

For me, if I was 'afraid' of homosexuals, it wouldn't necessarily be an irrational fear.  The fact that homosexuals still rate high on such lists as HIV, AIDS, mental and emotional problems, disproportionally high rates of infections due to the unique nature of homosexual sexual behavior, and a continued difficulty with drug abuse within the gay community, all suggest that if there was a 'fear' of homosexuality, it wouldn't necessarily be phobic.  It might become that.  It could move into the realm of irrational.  But there is, to my thinking, at least some argument to substantiate a hestitancy toward that particular behavior.  Especially if I'm the father of four boys.

Beyond that, of course, is the fact that some may simply disagree with the premises that allow for accepting homosexual behavior as normative for human nature.  'Fear' may have nothing to do with it.  I can say I don't like anchovies on my pizza.  Not because I am anchophobic.  But because I don't like anchovies.  I can say I am not a Socialist.  Not because I am socialismaphobic, but because I've looked and concluded that Socialism may not be all that and a bag of chips. Some of the reasons to reject the premises upon which accepting homoexuality rests may be religious.  Perhaps philosophical.  Or, dare I say, a feeling that hestitancy toward that behavior could actually be the result of a certain level of common sense.

I realize our modern enforcers of Goodthink have dictated that this word now means anything that fails to conform to the groupthink celebration of all post-Christian sexual norms.  Nonetheless, I find it interesting how an age that prides itself on being infinitely superior to any previous eras and generations, and so absolutely enlightened, doesn't seem to care about little things like facts, truth, stats, or any other inconveniences. It doesn't give a rip over something like what a word really means. It doesn't care that there could be nuanced degrees of belief or acceptance or rejection of something.  Somewhere I missed that being enlightened means smart enough to know when to ignore truth and reality. 

In the end, it's the pompous, self-righteous arrogance and intellectually vacant laziness that goes behind the easily tossed about term 'homophobic' that is one of those things giving me the gut feeling that many really don't believe their case is all that good.  They know, somewhere deep down, that things may not be all Queer as Folk as they would like.  But rather than concede such a horrible notion, they instead use a rather misused and abused word with virtually no substance in order to intimidate, scare, and threaten anyone who dares to challenge the authority of their post-modern dogmas. 

Why I love movies

TCM"s 100 Years At The Movies gives a great answer:

But China said it wanted peace!

So I've seen several stories calling into question China's self-proclaimed 'Peaceful Rise'.  Duh.  I've always enjoyed how Westerners adopted a sort of fourth quarter mentality over the years.  This idea that the game was almost over, we'd put away all that stupid tyranny, war, and oppression stuff, and all we needed to do was slap America into shape while the rest of the world eagerly waited to embrace the teachings of St. John Lennon. 

Despite clear and overwhelming evidence, we continue to hold onto that narrative, and never fail to act shocked when it doesn't turn out the way we imagined.  Nevertheless, we are always willing to give everyone else a second third fourth fifth continual series of chances. It's not as if it was America we were dealing with!

Why the Huffpost helped me start this blog

One of the things that led to this blog was the Huffington Post.  How?  Because I got tired of having my comments censored.  Though I may be a bit caustic at times, I try never to be mean or hateful.  I try to call a spade a spade, but that's it.  I don't try to promote hate, violence, or cheer the suffering of others.   I may point out ironies in some folks' worries or difficulties, if those folks have been a cause of problems for other people, or the world at large.  But I'm not out calling for death, destruction, and spewing hate toward folks, as I hope this blog demonstrates. 

Nonetheless, despite the fact that people who wish to vomit no end of hatred and contempt and bigotry against things like America, Christianity, the Catholic Church, and generally anyone on the right, have no problem getting their comments posted (it chills my blood to think what kind of comments aren't allowed given those that are), I had troubles posting sometimes very basic, nuts and bolts comments.  Take this little exchange on the one article that mentioned problems for Iraqi Christians.  

Someone had posted a sort of 'wouldn't the world be better without all that religion stuff' comment.  I gently pointed out that folks are quite capable of doing evil with or without religion.  The individual responded I was kind of right, and wished me some pluralistic 'enjoy your own version of the holidays'.  Fine, I wished them the same.  Then one of the Huffpost moderators chimed in with this:

“Your discussion of 20th century practices fits exactly within the parameters of religion as tribal control and power structure. King Henry VIII probably would have been an atheist leader if the culture at the time would have allowed it.

Religion is competitio­n for the complete power that any dictator wants to have. Bloody Mary is a perfect example of using religion for power; wanting the church's political support.

Until the 20th century leaders knew that being descended from or blessed by god was the proper way to command the populace easily. As humanity began to move away from unquestion­ed belief in a deity the need for divine endorsemen­t became obsolete as a requiremen­t.

I personally believe that religion has done more harm than good. We will not know the fullness of the atrocities not only direct but indirect until we have evolved socially away from handing our personal responsibi­lity to some man made deity.

Once we have to tak responsibi­lity for our own behavior and have to stop saying "GOD says this is HIS will!" we will grow as a race. Perhaps these power plays will be recognized for what they are and we can move toward peace as a race.

I enjoy the good feelings and care that people and families show toward each other at this time of year. I fervently hope that as we grow into our humanity we will be able to behave well year round and not have to be reminded by a 'god.'”

The typical talking points for those who conform to modern secular thought.  Nothing new.  Nothing horribly mean or anything.  Capped off with the usual 'I don't need religion to be good, even though my version of good happens to coincidentally coincide with the religious tradition of my culture.'

So I responded with an answer that basically reminded the individual that anyone living after the 20th century should know that removing religion from the formula does not ensure peace on earth.  In fact, I pointed out some could argue that religion has been a moderating influence on humanity's tendency to do evil.  After all, once religion was out of the way, the secular philosophies and ideologies that drove the last century were able to cause more deaths in a single century than the 2000 year history of the Christian faith. I also threw in a bit about the complex causes of evil, that they often had more to do with good old fashion greed, lust, power and such rather than the absence or presence of religion.

I ended it with some polite nods to the fact that the moderator's comment wasn't mean or hostile, I acknowledged that religion certainly has it's bad spots throughout history, and that people will do bad no matter what.  I wish the individual a happy holidays.

And BAM!  Pulled from the post.  WTH!  Why would a response pointing to a few stats and facts to support my claim that religion is not the sole cause of evil be pulled?  I often had that point pulled.  Or when I tried to point out the flaws in the notion of 'Safe Sex', or point to the fact that men, when all things are equal, will generally prefer not to wear a condom.  Censored every time.  No matter how nice, friendly, kind, and in keeping with the Huffpost standards I was, there were certain things that the censors simply would not allow.

That's about right.  As I've said, it's not hard to see many on the Left itching to put an end to this whole liberty and freedom stuff.  But I got tired of it happening so flagrantly.  Especially when comments that spewed hatred and loathing and contempt for those things the Huffpost hates were allowed.  Censorship may be all the rage in some segments of the post-moder left, but I decided I didn't have to hang around and let it keep me from writing what I wanted to write. 

P.S.  The comment that does show up was my second attempt.  Sometimes at varying intervals, comments can be posted without editorial reviews.  That one made it straight to the post.  Unfortunately my original post was not saved, and therefore I didn't have it available. 

When they're sixty-four

A new poll suggests that Baby Boomers are worried about Medicare.  Yeah.  Can't imagine why.  It will be interesting to see how the Boomers, who still refuse to give up influence and control of our cultural steering wheel, handle turning our country around toward caring about the elderly.  After almost fifty years of mocking, deriding, lampooning, and dismissing anyone over the age of 30 40 50 60 70 80, it will be fun to watch them attempt, once again, to rewrite ethics to conform to their own priorities.  My heart goes out to those Boomers who wisely refused to live up to all of the stellar accomplishments of their generational label.

Grant McCune has died

Grant McCune puts some finishing touches on R2-D2, 1977
A name that is probably not known in most households, Mr. McCune is one of those responsible for reshaping how we look at movies.  He, and a team of professionals, helped bring George Lucas' visions for a space fantasy film called Star Wars to life in 1977.  Like most kids at that time, I was absolutely in awe.  From the minute that first Star Destroyer sailed out of the top of the screen toward the fleeing rebel ship, I instinctively knew that movies would never be the same again.  And Grant McCune, though he would not have meant a thing to me then, helped make it happen.  So for all the enjoyment from that film alone, much less the many others, thanks for the memories.  And Rest in Peace.

A New Year for the New Evangelization

Deacon Keith Fournier has high hopes for the upcoming years.  Don't get me wrong, where God is, success will eventually be also.  But as I look out across the landscape of the modern Catholic Church in those countries mentioned in his article, there are reasons things look bleak to people like John Meachem.  It isn't as if some vast, anti-Christian conspiracy is afoot.  Christians, Catholics in particular, are doing quite nicely when it comes to playing a part in the Faith's decline in the West.  The reasons are legion, for they are many.  But one needn't go beyond your typical survey or poll of Catholic Christians in America to see where the work needs to begin.

As a former Baptist, one thing that I learned was that evangelism and outreach take more than words.  Evangelism takes more than just living a life for the Lord.  It takes an entire focus, a way of being.  It is the hub around which the ecclesiastical community revolves.  It is reaching out, bringing them in, and then doing something with them once they get there.  It is understanding that one's spiritual pilgrimage is just that, a pilgrimage.  Not all new converts are on the same footing that your typical saint enjoys.  Sometimes, especially in the rock'em, sock'em world of online Catholic apologetics, we forget that. 

A Catholic spending five hours in Adoration of the Host might be what a life long, veteran Catholic Christian needs.  But for a new Catholic, those sparks may not take.  It may not click yet. Many are still in their infancy, taking milk and formula.  Needing milk and formula.  Of course there will be that time, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, that we need to move on to more solid foods.  But there is still a legitimate time for the weaning off of the bottle.

My own experience as a Catholic convert is that there is no real stage in the Church's life for that experience.  There certainly isn't in the minds of many lay apologists both on and off the Internet.  Many Catholics I see comment on Catholic blogs almost snort with derision toward those who fail to achieve the spiritual perfection that they demand of others.  Even if those in question are new converts, it makes no difference.  It makes no difference that the teachings of Jesus can be hard, and at times folks need to be guided with love and understanding as they relearn how to see with they eyes of God.

These are things that are most important.  We want a real, bona fide New Evangelism?  Then we have to be serious about doing it.  Not just saying it.  We have to reach out, bring in, and then do something for folks once they are in, and stop with the excuse 'it's all up to you now.'  And for heaven's sake stop acting as if perfection should happen before drying off the baptismal waters. The early Church was a community of mutual support.  The Church needs to be the same, and have in place concrete ministries for those in various stages of their Faith pilgrimage, understanding that as strange as it may be, your average new convert is not ready to take their place as fourth member of the Holy Trinity.

More violence in Nigeria

The killing of Christians in Nigeria continues.  If you're waiting for the media to connect the dots by concluding that this just goes to show the long, sad history of oppressing religious minorities throughout the Islamic world, then don't hold your breath.  In fact, just the opposite.  If anyone tries to suggest there could be a problem within the religion of Islam that leads to these and other cases of violence and oppression against religious minorities, then that person will be the culprit; another example of America's long, sad history of racism and bigotry.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remember today is the Feast of Thomas Becket

A part of the Christmastide season that the press inexplicably overlooks. 

Sodom praises Gomorrah for pandering to Hell

MTV, the primary propaganda source for indoctrinating teens into the ideological cancer that is eating away at Western Civilization, bravely airs a show dedicated to understanding abortion.  More to the point, it spends a show couching some vague sense of moral something or other that more or less gives kids the green light to have sex, since you can always abort the baby.  Speaking of massacre of the innocents. 

Throughout the show and discussions of the show, the constant refrain of 'protected sex' is heard.  That is, as we all know, a lie.  There is no such thing as protected sex.  There is doing things to reduce the chances of getting pregnant or getting HIV or any one of a thousand other STDs.  But no way is sure.  Every way opens up the possibility that no matter how diligent, one can still get pregnant, AIDS, or anything else while having followed the 'Safe Sex' rule book to the letter.

On a grand, global scale that's still tens of thousands of lives ruined and ended every year by doing exactly what they are told.  But for a society that is quickly becoming the harlot of Revelation, those numbers are small potatoes.  As long as it's nobody we know and love, those victims of doing everything right are a price we are willing to pay, the collateral damage of a society spun out of control and drunk on its own hedonistic debauchery. 

For a chuckle and a cry, read this review of the show.  It has some harsh words for MTV's special, but not for the reasons one might hope.  Rather, it prefers a kinder, gentler approach to assuring women that indulging in our modern glorification of sexual excess need not be the nightmare some make it out to be, that whatever happens, in the end everything is just fine.  Just fine indeed.  No matter what we do or how we live, we should in the end be happy.  And ironically, because of that, in the end it's highly unlikely that any of us will.

Meanwhile, Canada moves from post-Christian to anti-Christian

The movement - liberalism we'll call it - that is helping the likes of Elton John circumnavigate the pesky natural order in order to prove that homosexuality is natural, is becoming increasingly impatient with its desire to eradicate Christianity from the social forum.  A bizarre mixed up movement to be sure, but there is a method to its madness.  Alas, it won't be this generation, or even the next, the realized the full fury of its designs.  May God help them.

Elton John and "Husband" welcome

The best child that science can manufacture.  It often strikes me as an irony that homosexuality gains its benefits from the movement known as liberalism, which is also the main movement embraced by those who want to warn us about abusing nature.  And yet, they are willing to abuse the natural order of human nature in order to get what they want.  Strange old world. 

Tim Rutten doesn't get it

Tim Rutten writes a piece for the LA Times lamenting the West's lack of concern regarding the plight of Iraqi Christians.  He focuses on America's policies, the West's general blindness to the historical intolerance of Christianity in the Middle East, and the important role these historic Christian communities play.  All fair enough.  But the main reason we hear or see nothing is not mentioned.  That is because our media, like our culture, is weaned on a Super-Narrative that simply doesn't compute such things as being worthy of the radar screen.  The basic narrative of the post-war West is that White, European and American, Heterosexual, Christian Men are the incarnation of absolute evil and the singular cause of all human suffering in the world.   All other peoples, cultures, and civilizations, in addition to being infinitely superior in every way, are both morally and intellectually pure, peopled with happy and loving individuals who only wish to run through the lily fields of life chanting John Lennon songs all day.

So when Bill Clinton sounded the atrocity alarm in the 90s to validate our attack on Milošević and the Serbians, it fit.  Serbians, White European Christians, were assaulting and massacring Bosnian Muslims.  That fits.  That fits the paradigm, the Super-Narrative.  So we went to war.  When George W. Bush attempted, in the earliest days post-9/11, to rally support for our inevitable invasion of Iraq, he played up to the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein among other reasons.  Problem was, that did not fit the Super-Narrative.  Non-White, non-European or American, non-Christian committing atrocities against anyone?  Didn't compute.  We didn't support it, or think what Hussein did was good.  It just didn't strike 'That Nerve' that comes with pointing to American Slavery, or the US treatment of the American Indian, or the Nazi Holocaust.  Hence the focus turned almost exclusively to the infamous WMDs.

It's that nerve that fails to be hit when people try to whip up similar visceral responses by mentioning the atrocities of Imperial Japan, the aggression of historic Islam, the brutality of Chinese history, or the butchery of the atheistic Communist empire of the USSR.  The formula isn't there.  We don't react.  Sure, it was bad.  We don't say it was good.  But there isn't that Pavlovian response that you get with good old fashioned stories about Inquisitions, Witch Burnings, and Crusades; with American Slavery, European Imperialism, the Holocaust - all of which can be fitted into that mold, that model, that formula. 

So the fact that 9/11 has been an inconvenient blip has been bad enough.  Early were we able to ponder what we did to make them hate us so much.  After all, it must have been us.  Thus does the Super-Narrative demand we interpret all things a certain way.  But continued violence by Muslims across the Islamic world is becoming a troubling reminder that many simply choose to ignore.  A reminder that the Super-Narrative upon which so much our modern progressive thinking is based, might be wrong.  And that cannot be accepted.  So we will blame Bush, the US, Europe as much as we can.  But when it finally comes down to something that may challenge the Super-Narrative, and no amount of interpretive gerrymandering will do the trick, turning a blind eye is our best bet.  And it's a tactic that has, so far, worked like a charm.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Anarchists growing more coordinated

Something about that headline just made me laugh.

On the Feast of the Holy Innocents


A good editorial reminding us we live in a society that values hedonism so much it's willing to slaughter its own innocents in order to maintain its orgy or decadence and selfishness.

4 For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned incense in it to gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. 5 They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. 6 So beware, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.

Jeremiah 19 4-6

And yet more love for Christianity from the Religion of Peace

In Java, in Iraq, in Egypt, and in Nigeria, Christians have caught the wave of what true love and openness regarding religion is all about.  Of course, none of this is to, or should be to, suggest that there is anything wrong with Islam or the Muslim world.  These, as well as those cases in Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and Indonesia that we've looked at over the last few weeks, just go to show you how extremists can mess up everything.  After all, just about every study shows barely 10% of the Muslim world supports jihad and terrorism against non-Muslims ( that would be, for the mathematically challenged, around 150 million if we assume a global population of 1.5 billion Muslims - but not to worry).  Yes we have had hundreds of Muslims trying to pull off mass killings of Americans and Europeans as well, including one pretty successful jaunt in the heart of America's military establishment.  But naturally I'm aware that most of this is probably America's fault, and especially the fault of Bush and his policies.

So I think it's clear that anyone who even thinks that there is a larger 'Muslim' problem or a problem within the "Islamic World" is merely demonstrating the rawest form of ignorance and Islamaphobic bigotry.  Those who insist they really don't want Muslims hurt or discriminated against, that they really see some problems across the Islamic world that need addressed beyond just terrorism, are speaking the language of stereotypes and prejudice.  How else can we explain the likes of Terry Jones, whose act of unspeakable evil was rightly used to demonstrate the long, sad history of American racism and bigotry that marks and defines every nook and cranny of our country and its shameful past.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas and Feast of St. John the Evangelist!


From the whole family.  There we are in front on the wonderful nativity scene our parish puts on on Christmas eve.  Life size and all.  Hope everyone is having a blessed year, though I know many won't be stopping by - as is proper.  Still, blessings and joy to all in any event. And a reminder that blogging will be light to nil over the next many days.   We'll hit the ground running come the first of the year, but for now: relax, celebrate, reflect on this day and tomorrow as part of the Christmas season so often forgotten in our world of comfort and luxury, and prepare to reflect upon the upcoming year with new enthusiasm and hope for the things God will show us!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmastide


From now on until next Monday, blogging will be light to non-existent. After that it will be hit and miss until the first of the year.  Thanks for all who have been coming by and taking part in this new community.  Things will unfold as I go and get better with the whole blogging thing.  I appreciate all the support and input.  Feel free to spread the word, comment, join as a Follower, and generally get the word out.  For my part, I'll try to make it worth your while.  In the meantime, have a joyous and blessed Christmas season.  Remember, it begins on the 25th, it doesn't end.  My family and I will be having wonderful celebrations, outings, feasts, and remembrances of the blessings God has given us this year.  For while we might find things we could complain about, globally speaking we have been blessed beyond measure.  So enjoy this Holy season with those you love and in ways that draw you closer to the One who has always loved you.  I leave you with the lyrics from one of my favorite carols.  Whenever I get to feeling down, worried about the world, economy, wars, and troubles that infect our age as they have every age, the poetic journey of the lyrics reminds us why in the face of the most troubling times, we can still retain that joy shared with the shepherds all those years ago.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Merry Christmas to all! 

My favorite Christmas Season image


I don't know why, but the picture of the wise men traversing the barren deserts under a dark, starlit sky remains my favorite visual imprint of the season. I know it should be the baby in the manger. Or Jesus on the cross. Or something more Christ-focused. But for me, in all honesty, it's the magi crossing the barren wastes under dark of night.

Perhaps it's because a manger my family owned when I was growing up had a painting print on the back of it that showed the picture, and the image stuck. Especially since I used to play with the manger as a child. Maybe it's because my favorite ornaments were three old - now tarnished - metallic colored plastic wise men that hung from the tree branches. I just don't know.

But the image, at least to me, matches that longing in our hearts - even the most die hard atheists - to search for something. Whether truth, God, meaning, I don't know. But to this day I can't look at a picture of the desert, especially one at night, and not think of this image, which of course eventually brings me to that object of my lifelong search. Perhaps that's why it's always been there. Who knows?

 1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." 3When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 
    6'  AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH,
         ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH;
         FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER
         WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'"
 
 7Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.
 8And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him."
 9After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meanwhile some love for Christians over at the HuffingtonPost

So I go over there to answer Sinead O'Conner's stupid response to the Pope's Christmas smack down on the abuse scandal, and decide to see if there are any articles about the persecution of Christians in Iraq.  To my pleasant surprise, the left leaning Huffpost actually had an article.  So I decided to get my blood pressure up by reading the comments.  They didn't disappoint.  Most were, as could be expected, blaming the mess on Bush's Iraq invasion.  In a very superficial sense, there is some truth to that.  But like all things, it is far more complex than 'gee if only we hadn't invaded everything would be peachy.'  Nonetheless, most went along that line.  But there were some chilling comments, as often happens on the partisan blogs.  The worst I bothered to read was this:

Xmas is about consumeris­m at it's worse, and if this attack got some Christians to act christian, it's kinda of nice to hear about that.
It referred to the massacre of Christians a few weeks ago.  The commenter actually lamented the fact that the editors had edited down his initial post.  If they took something off but left that, it boggles my mind to think what it could have been.  But that's the love and respect you get from extremes on any side - including the Left side of life.  The sooner those on the Left admit that it isn't just the Right that holds a monopoly on extremism, the better off they'll be.  Thankfully another commenter chastised the above statement. 

Because conservatives are automatically idiots?

And liberals are not?  For that matter, anyone working to help a liberal administration is given the benefit of the doubt.  As in here, where James Clapper, Director of US Intelligence, didn't know about the well publicized arrest of twelve men plotting terrorist attacks in London.  It's been reported in most MSM outlets, but with the caveat that he was not briefed yet (over something I knew from watching the news), and besides was very, very busy. 

Fair enough.  I'm not one to jump all over someone for a simple gaff.  Sure it's a gaff.  The guy's in charge our our intelligence and didn't know what I knew from just watching the freaking news!  But he's human, humans make mistakes, and I'm sure it doesn't reflect on his capabilities or intelligence.  And that seems to be how the MSM wants to cover it, as this article shows.  It more or less lets Clapper's spokesperson speak to the incident. 

Now, let's go back a couple years to the 2008 presidential campaign.  Sarah Palin is being interviewed.  Charlie Gibson of ABC is interviewing her.  He asks her about her ideas regarding the "Bush Doctrine".  Palin asks for clarification - and ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE!  From that point on, not from the infamous Katie Couric interview, from that point on she was a bimbo, a dolt, an airhead, a moron and on and on and on.  And it's never gone back. 

So why is it the MSM isn't pouncing on this guy, whose job it is to know the very important thing that he didn't know when almost everyone else who had access to the Internet or a cable news show did know it?  You guess.  I have my suspicions. 

Because America is the worst

Turns out some in Russia might be pining for the old days of Soviet standards of civil rights.  Nothing really new here for anyone with half a brain and a five minute a day slot for following current events.  The thing that interests me?  Look at the comments.  How many immediately take this and say 'Yeah, but look how bad the US sucks!  We're the bad guys!'

My favorite comment:

Imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery. The Russians flatter us.
Sorry about the previous typo.
WTH?  Could someone tell me what ethnic groups are being rounded up?  Congressman Peter King suggests a congressional panel look at the problem of Islamic terrorism in America and the MSM and pop culture has ripped him a new one.  That's after how many Americans killed on and since 9/11 by Islamic terrorists?  Again, there is an entire swath of our country that has gone well beyond the healthy 'confession is good for the soul' approach to national reflection, and gone straight to neurotic psychologically disturbed paranoia and guilt.  And just like a person, a country suffering from such flaws will not fair well in the end.

Bobby McFerrin performs Ave Maria

On a lighter and more seasonal note, here's a class act.  Bobby McFerrin, who probably achieves absolute coolness simply by brushing his teeth in the morning, guides a group through his own brand of musical genius. Enjoy!

Haley Barbour offends our button down conformist society

Yes, it's true.  All those silly dreams and all of that mindless word drool from the 60s was just that, mindless.  It was a lie.  A farce.  A scam.  Fact is, every society has values, narratives, absolute moral standards by which all are judged and to which all must conform.  It has its heroes, villains, and narratives. And these are passed on with a zeal that no southern Alabama fundamentalist KJV only preacher could ever match.  It becomes the fabric of a nation, the foundational story of a civilization.  It is the Truth, the Way, the Dogma.  There are no laws, no signs warning you, no real outward admitting of the existence of such an intolerant society.  But it's there. And if you don't toe the line, if you don't walk as you are told and talk as you are told, you'll get it in the throat. 

The standards and morals and values and beliefs and narratives and heroes and villains may change.  But the demand for absolute conformity and group think never does.  Just ask Haley Barbour, whose political future is now in question because he failed to sing in harmony with the socially sanctioned melody of our conformist ideals.  21st Century America has its gods to be worshiped, its dogmas to be obeyed, its sacred memories to be cherished, and its values to be conformed to.  Don't even think about being some radical whose own life history doesn't reflect the officially sanctioned tale of greatness and evil, or you'll be tossed in the fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  And the ones doing the tossing? Oh, they're the ones who used to go on about questioning authority, challenging the status quo, rebelling against norms and values, and rejecting moral standards and accepted narratives.  The difference is, now they have the power.

How a minority, reaching majority, seizing authority, hates a minority.

Priorities in the Gay Generation

Meanwhile, though Christians my be persecuted around the world, while we might be fighting a losing war, while thousands die and millions starve, while genocides and pandemics lay waste to millions of lives, while our country continues to teeter on the verge of economic down spin and indebtedness to some of these very nations who are perpetrating things like persecution of Christians, while unemployment continues to hover close to 10%, while our government almost shut down, almost failed to ratify a nuclear arms reduction treaty, and the ongoing problem with immigration and justice remains unsolved - Gay Rights advocates score yet another victory.  I have a feeling that, centuries from now, the epitaph of our civilization will be 'they gave it all for gay sex.' 

There's something about a society that, while so many things are unraveling, spends so much time helping a demographic group - that study after study suggests is one of the highest income demographic groups* in our society - get what they want at all costs, potentially harmful consequences be damned.  But it makes sense.  After all, homosexuality must be completely tolerated and allowed, for without the approval of homosexuality, how can we ever reach the Holy Grail of sexual fantasies: The socially sanctioned polyamorous encounter?

The Gay Generation.  Putting sexual desire and personal desire above anything and everything.  It's a good thing our president and congress share these worthy values.  They truly are a representative government.  Though I have a feeling in years to come we'll wish they weren't.

*It's worth noting that many gay rights activists challenge the oft repeated studies suggesting that gays enjoy a proportionally higher standard of living.  And yet, there have been just as many I've heard in debates that use this to show gays can be highly productive and should not be turned away for any logical reason.  So there you go.

More proof that America is filled with mindless Islamaphobic racists

Christians in Iraq are, in light of threats of violence and recent killings of practicing Christians, canceling their Christmas festivities.  So what does that have to do with America being racist?  Nothing really.  But if I even suggested this and other recent stories about the ongoing oppression, persecution, and violence against Christians throughout the Islamic world might suggest there is something wrong with modern Islam, then I would be smacked down as one more white, racist, Islamaphobic bigot.  So I figured I would play it safe and just go with the crowd and say what anyone in our country can say and not only be tolerated, but possibly even be rewarded for saying. 

What makes Christmas special are things like this

A reader sends this along.  Watch this performance at the Ohio Statehouse by a young adult group with disabilities that calls itself  All 'R Friends.  Click on this link and enjoy the wonderful performance.

The Catholic scandal that just won't die

In the end, the sex abuse scandal has been an embarrassment to the Catholic Church.  There's no denying it.  And it's not because priests were raping babies, or even the more balanced reality that priests were abusing all age groups of minors within their care.  Most fair minded individuals know that the pandemic of sex abuse and pedophilia goes well beyond the borders of the Catholic Church. The stats are clear, the facts obvious, and only those with anti-Catholic bigotry in their agendas will try to suggest that the abuse of children is somehow unique to the Catholic Church.   

But anyway, we needn't argue that sexual abuse is not a result of anything uniquely Catholic.  That's not what bothers most fair minded people.  What bothers said people is the systemic, almost institutionalized cover up by the hierarchy.  While many are trying to put faces and names on that cover up (as in, Pope Benedict), even without a clear link to the Pontiff, it's clear that cover ups happened, and that it was more than just a few renegade bishops.  That is what sets the Church abuse apart.  Not that cover ups don't happen in smaller environments, such as a Protestant congregation, a local school, or a university.  But this is where that single attribute of Catholicism - the single, bureaucratic hierarchy that links a global faith with over a billion adherents - comes back around to haunt the Church.  Because each and every time a bishop or a priest did do something, the entire Church stands guilty.

And since it appears that  there was more than just a few renegade bishops, that there were ongoing attempts, if not to cover up, then at least to cover the rear ends of 'The Priesthood', it plays to the old notions of a giant, corrupt, self-serving religious spectacle.  And that alone is bad.

In this story, victims rights groups are accusing a bishop - Bishop David Zubik of Green Bay - of destroying the psychological records of priests, ostensibly as part of the cover up.  The Bishop is saying it never happened, that destroying any records was simply a matter of policy, and records of any priest under litigation were never to be destroyed. 

But here's what caught my eye. The following paragraph in which the bishop outlines the practices and procedures of his diocese:

"[I]t had been diocesan practice in Green Bay not to destroy documents in priest files -- even after a priest had died -- if there was litigation involving that priest or any pending claims. I reinforced that practice by having it formally written into the diocesan records retention policy in 2007."
Two things.  First, a reminder to the non-Catholic universe.  As much as the Catholic Church can give the appearance of a giant business where the Pope is CEO and President of Catholicism, Inc, it really doesn't work that way.  Truth be told, the Bishops are still the driving force of the Church, and contrary to popular belief, they have much leeway when it comes to how they administer their charges.  Oh, there are standards to be sure.  But the Church does not micromanage everything.  Just look at the key words in the sentence: 'It had been diocesan practice in Green Bay not to destroy...'  Practice in Green Bay.  Doesn't that mean it's different in other diocesan practice? 
Also, the very fact that they had procedures in place to handle priests accused of this or that suggests what?  That priests have been accused of things for many, many years.  And this is what folks need to remember.  The biggest problem with the Catholic Church is the same problem any organization has: people.  We used to say in my Protestant days that if you find a perfect church, then stay away.  Because as soon as you walk through the doors it will stop being perfect.  Same with the Catholic Church.  The Church, filled with tens upon tens of thousands of priests, bishops, and other leaders both lay and ordained, has its hands full.  Especially with the scrutiny brought on by the abuse scandal.  All it takes is one single case to be exposed, and suddenly the press winds up the story of the Catholic Sex Abuse Crisis all over again.  Even one.  Out of tens of thousands and hundreds of millions of faithful.  It only takes one.
So try to keep things in perspective.  Obviously the Church, being filled with people, has been aware for many ages that priests can sometimes do wrong, and has policies for dealing with those problems.  Those policies give testimony to the Church's admission of its own frailties.  Likewise, remember that just because one priest or one bishop did something, it doesn't mean the 2000 year history of the Catholic Faith is guilty.  As we are so forgiving of modern Islam despite the bloodshed and violence, so should we be forgiving of the Church.

This isn't to say the Church hasn't dropped the ball.  As I said, many of its actions and reactions have angered people, especially when it appears that the first priority of the hierarchy was CYA.  That will usually be a mark against the best of them.  But keep it all in perspective.  Ignore the obvious anti-Catholic bigotry, and look to what really happened, and what really didn't.  The best way to solve a problem is to be honest about just what the problem was int he first place.

What would Jesus sing?

An interesting piece over at the National Post.  Geoffery Clarfield looks at the possible music styles of Jesus' day and compares it to Gregorian Chant.  Worth the read, though I'm always off-put by statements such as this:
"In the book of Matthew, we are given an account of the Last Supper. Many scholars now believe it was a Passover Seder where Jesus and his disciples most likely recounted, in story and song, the exodus of the Jewish people from their bondage in Egypt over a thousand years earlier."
What does he mean by 'now'?   Since I went to seminary in 1993, it was taught that Jesus and his disciples were partaking in the Seder meal.  And it wasn't presented as some new, radical theory.  I had the impression that view had been around for many moons.  But sometimes I think we can't resist saying 'now' as if the audience in question won't have a clue anyway, so it will be news to them.  Perhaps that's it.  I don't know.  It just makes me wonder when I hear the word now applied to things I've long known about. 

Otherwise, interesting read. 

A Muslim Woman is attacked in Columbus

The story is here.  That's not good of course.  Details are still pending, but if the story unfolds the way the victim describes, it sounds like an attack based on the mere fact she was Muslim.  That no doubt happens.  The quotes from officials are somewhat vague.  On one hand, it says what I've noticed - being a native of the area - that these things haven't happened much in the last 10 years, if at all.  The quote from a FBI spokesman named Mike Brooks from the Cincinnati chapter of the FBI makes it a bit murky, since he states, "I can't say that it never happens, but it's not something that happens every week."

Does that mean in all of Ohio, Cincinnati, Columbus? I'm not aware of any such attack in years.  There has been more vandalism and arson against churches than Mosques, and our Jewish community has seen its usual dose of attacks over the years.  Of course as one reader at Get Religion pointed out, since Muslims make up such a small number of Americans, that makes the attacks proportionally higher.  And yet there are still 300 million Americans, most of whom aren't Muslim and almost none of whom are doing such things. 

Again, none of this is to make light of the attack.  It was wrong, and the stuff of hatred and ignorance, as is all such criminal activity.  But before we go with the usual 'just shows how racist America is, how evil America is, why Muslims have every right to be cowering in stark raving fear', let's just compare and contrast how Muslims are fairing in America versus their Christian counterparts across the Islamic world.  Lest you think I'm making mountains out of molehills from a single story about the Christian in Iraq, here are a couple other examples here, and here

FWIW, it took me all of four minutes to find the stories above.  On any given day, I can find any number of reports of violence, oppression, and political discrimination against religious minorities across the Islamic world.  And yet, I would be an Islamaphobic bigot to say there's a problem inherent in modern Islam because of it.  Yet a single case - the first one I'm aware of in years - of violence against a Muslim woman will be used to prove how racist and intolerant and ignorant America is.

This is the legacy of Multi Cultural education.  On one hand, it demanded that we never, ever condemn other cultures or civilizations.  We never take the high road and presume to judge because that would be 'ethnocentric' (a word I heard a million times in my day).  On the other hand, when one notices that we have far less tolerance for America, or Europe, when it comes to wrongdoing, we cannot say it is because Western civilization was in any way superior. It wasn't.  To say otherwise would have been - you guessed it - ethnocentric.  It's been a double edged sword.  We hold America and the Christian West to a far higher standard, where anything less than 100% perfection is condemned as evidence of the most heinous evil, and yet we are not allowed to justify such intolerance of our sins on the grounds of being a better, more enlightened civilization with a better stock of people.  Think that one through a minute, and it just could help explain the general malaise that permeates so much of the Western world. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vatican clarifies Pope's statements on condoms ... again

Yes, it's that time of week again when the Vatican tries desperately to explain to an agenda deaf media just what Pope Benedict meant about the use of condoms. Turns out, the Pope wasn't really altering Church teaching to conform to the latest general knowledge.  Instead, he was more or less affirming what the Church had always taught.  The piece, to its credit, gets it mostly right, allowing the folks to be interviewed and more or less giving a fairly decent background on what happened.  It can't resist mentioning the controversy over Pope Benedict's statement that condoms could increase HIV infections, this despite the fact that most disease research think tanks admit that a blind reliance on condoms can increase HIV infections.  That is one of those times when you get the impression that the anger was at what Pope Benedict was standing for, not what he said.

Anyway, the piece lets us know that there was nothing really new under the sun.  Though it does leave us with a member of the Jesuits who, naturally, sees this as a step in the right direction.  Just what that implies can only be guessed.  Perhaps we'll hear more next week when the Vatican must release yet another clarification. 

From the Citizen Kane of Christmas specials

Linus lays it on the line about the true meaning of Christmas.  Even as a non-believer, I couldn't escape the perfection in this stilted, childish, amateurish production.  The writing, the plot, the atmosphere, the iconic images, frozen lakes, Christmas tree lots, old time school auditoriums, the fantastic build up and climactic recital of the Christmas story, and of course the beyond classic musical score. 

A couple things.  As I've pointed out, our 'war' on Christmas has been a long time coming.  Charlie Brown's struggles show that this was already embedded in our culture in the glory days of those wonder years gone by.  While much has been made of Schultz's own spiritual walk, that by the end he considered himself a secular humanist (though many who knew him suggested this was out of context of his rather complex mixture of faith and skepticism - which the next year's classic "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" would aptly illustrate), it's clear that at this moment in time, Schultz was letting young Linus speak for all believers including himself.

In college, I picked up a TV Guide Christmas special rating the great Christmas Programs.  This was near the bottom of the top five.  Why?  Guess.  It was TV Guide.  Too much of that religion stuff, unlike the so much cooler "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (I also love), which, as the writer pointed out, avoided being too religious.  I still remember that.  Too religious? Agnostic though I was, I knew it was all based on the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus.  I may not have believed it, but I knew it.  How troubling it was that we could look at a clear fact and want to deny it simply because we wanted to deny it.  We were supposed to be the rationale ones!  Ah, but that is for another post.

For now, enjoy the wonderful diction of the youngster reading the KJV of Luke 2, and capture some of that magical, spiritual boost that even I felt all those years ago in my most fervent secularism.  Fun note: Linus drops his blanket when he says "fear not, for behold..."  The only time, to that point, he willingly drops his blanket - which throughout the special he goes to great lengths to defend.  It's also worth noting that Schultz had a difficult time convincing the higher ups to leave the Scripture reading in.  I've always wondered why, since we are told that even at that point in American history, we were still this button down, W.A.S.P. society.  Who would have cared?  Makes you wonder.  Don't think I don't!  Anyway, here is Linus, doing what Linus was drawn to do:

A serious story about how the holidays can kill us

So naturally we are warned, as we have been every day for a month, to resist overindulging, to watch our waistlines, to eat sparingly, drink moderately (to those that would apply to), live moderately.  Basically, go into the holidays with discipline, order, control, and the ever present worry that one more bite just may be your last.

Wouldn't it be cool if our experts spent as much time telling us to stop with the sexual promiscuity since that can kill you, too?  Just a little bit?  I mean, mention that there is some stuff you can do to decrease the chances of getting an incurable disease or dying, but the best bet is living a life of chastity until you find that single person with whom you wish to spend your life.  Especially over the holiday season when light hearted merriment may lead to more than you expect.

But no.  We just keep hearing about how everything else - football, video games, TV, food, drink, clothes, cars, cell phones, and any one of a billion other things - can and will kill us, so our only hope is to sit in the corner and nibble at our half empty plates.  Or indulge in endless orgiastic sexual encounters, which you never hear any of our 'experts' complain about.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: When I hear our medical and health experts devote as much time to harnessing in the disastrous sexual revolution, then I'll be more likely to pay attention to all the panic and concern over everything else they warn us about.

War on Christmas Korea style

So South Korea has a Christmas tree lit up along the DMZ.  And this is a provocative act.  Why is it a provocative act?  Because North Korea is founded upon the idea that religion is bad and evil and societies - like North Korea - that embrace atheism will be where all the brights go to live out their Utopian dreams:
"North Korea, officially atheist and with only a handful of sanctioned churches in Pyongyang with services for foreigners, warned that lighting the tree would constitute a "dangerous, rash act" with the potential to trigger a war."
Just like they have in China and just like they did in the USSR.  The sad thing?  Despite such obvious contradictions to the 'imagine no religion' mantra of the progressive movement, many still believe ridding ourselves of that pesky religious stuff is a key to peace and joy to all. 

Separation of Christianity from State

Because when we say Separation of Church and State, what we really mean is separation of traditional Christian orthodoxy from public practice in America.  I know, yoga is some strange fuzzy line that some say can be practiced sans religion.  Of course this has much to do with the fact that our notion of religion is heavily influenced by Christianity.  When the SCOTUS made its decision, you can't help but feel it had visions of tent revivals and Catholic masses dancing in its collective head.  So when some eastern, mystical practice comes along, even though we are assured that the purity of our government can never be stained by the slightest religious influence, we have no problem with tax money going to promote a practice based on eastern spiritual disciplines by way of our government bureaucracy. 

He who lives by the Wikileaks

Shall die by the leaks.  My heart breaks.

Could Nina Totenberg

please explain just what we are supposed to forgive?  RealClearPolitics has the set up. Oh brother.  And yet we continue to boast how we are such an advanced, enlightened, and tolerant society. 

And here's Mr. Heat Miser

Just to let you know I don't play favorites!  Trivially speaking, George S. Irving was able to reprise his role for the strange, sad little sequel in 2008. 

Some frivolity with Snow Miser

Having a hard time focusing on blogging right now.  With all the buzz and excitement increasing as Christmastide draws near, it's getting hard to sort through all the worthy stories out there. So to give myself a breather and collect some thoughts for later, here's to dancing with the Snow Miser.  Let's face it, these two fellows are the ONLY reason to watch this inane thing - but boy are they great reasons!  Here's the late, great Dick Shawn hamming it up behind the puppetry and animation:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Military Services Archbishop Timothy Broglio

Addresses the repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell.  Of course DADT was doomed to defeat, not because history marches forward, but because all civilizations must ultimately fail.  Does that mean I think homosexuality is killing Western Civilization?  No. I merely notice that the multiple beliefs and ideologies that must exist in order to accept homosexuality in a once Christian society have not done any good for the only other civilization to replace Christianity with those values needed to accept homosexuality.  Because of that, I have little confidence that the United States will fair any better.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lt. Dan Choi's take on the repeal of Don't Ask/Don't tell

In his own words, bravely written for the hostile audience at the Huffington Post.  Lt. Dan has been one of the most visible advocates for this, as one could imagine.  He was one of 13,000 or so troops discharged over the years since the law was passed.  He is understandably elated at this latest bold step toward an enlightened nation that is the post-Christian United States.

But take a look at how he explains John McCain's warnings that doing this in the middle of a war could lead to problems, something other military leaders have suggested:
"I denounce the fear-mongering of John McCain and others who do our
country a grave disservice by their bigotry and calcified retardation.
His outlandish remarks that justice will result in amputations
demonstrates the ridiculousness of his entire argument. His silliness
proves the fight for justice has no real logical debate; you are on
one side or the other. John McCain, you are on the wrong side of
history. Your feet wade in the toxic septic waste of rabid
hate-mongers who perpetuate America's injustice. It is your argument
that has been amputated today; your claims have no legs to stand."
Ya get that?  Bigotry and calcified retardation?  Toxic septic waste of rabid hate-mongers who perpetuate America's injustice?  Yeah, that's right, this is from the movement born of an age that was all about live and let live, embrace diversity, respect differing opinions no matter how offensive (and if you were offended by diverse opinions, most often you were the problem). 

You get the feeling that there are other agendas for which gay rights is merely a tool, an instrument?  Something has to be there.  For the language that would have been used to denounce a person who supported homosexuality or embraced homosexuality 60 years ago could not have been as inflammatory as that.  Which goes to show you, there is no liberal and conservative, there is, as Lt. Dan said, only two sides: and if you don't fully support the gay rights movement, you are on the wrong side.  For Lt. Dan is 100% sure that he is 100% right and his truth is the only Truth (TM) that demands conformity and obedience and legal support (and if you run with Anderson Cooper, you'll realize it also demands appropriate punishment for those who fail to conform or keep quiet).  Thus is the farce of the promises and ideals of the early gay rights movement.  Those who said it was a farce and a lie then were right.  And the rhetoric and designs of the modern gay rights movement show why.

Ronald McDonald is under arrest!

Not really, but in yet another volley by a mentally vacant culture, the impressive sounding Center for Science and the Public Interest has said that a culture that worships science has no room for freedom of choice (unless, of course, that choice is to abort babies).  Therefore, McDonalds is being sued for not obeying its demands to stop aiming food for children at children. A society where parents are smart enough to guide their children to healthy eating habits can't exist in such an enlightened and sophisticated time, so lawsuits are called for.  Anyone get the irony of a generation that sees itself so intellectually superior to any others that have come before and yet is gobsmacked by the notion that a fast food chain will promote its products to every member of the market?  Of course, the Center for Science and the Public Interest can now move on to music and television and films that aim sex, drugs, and other destructive behaviors like a laser beam at our young'uns.  I'm sure that's on their docket.  For now, I get the feeling this, like so much of the 'oh no, we're all fat!' crisis we're hearing about is really designed to keep our eyes off the disastrous record of our liberal sexual permissive generation. After all, when your promised value system leads to the death and suffering of tens of millions of human beings, ya gotta do something to keep the eyes off the ball.

The Great American Guilt

Walter Rogers, for the Christian Science Monitor, bothers to ask just why it is we Americans are increasingly scared to utter the phrase 'Merry Christmas.'  He gets it.  The money quote of the article is:
"But there can be no true religious coexistence within a culture as long as one sect feels duty bound to cower."
That's good.  That's very good.  Too many Americans/Christians feel the way to best reach across the aisle is to fall on our hands and knees and grovel; to dispense with our cherished traditions and ideals in the name of coexistence.  As any adult knows, you may get a sort of half hearted friendship with someone who is happy to be the dominant person in the relationship, but you'll never have their respect.

It's telling that when we seek to ban or censor in the name of liberal tolerance, it's often for groups who themselves have not called for such restrictions.  As story after story comes from various parts of Europe about the need to eradicate all references to Christian thought, mostly in the unspoken name of Islam, it's interesting that Muslims often come out and insist they want no such thing.

Of course, like many things, it's actually part of a revolutionary movement to eradicate the Christian foundations of Western culture.  Those calling for censorship of Christian expression in the name of tolerance most likely just want censorship.  They simply have to find a reason that sounds justifiable, as all tyranny in history has had to do.  But kudos for Mr. Rogers for calling a spade a spade, and seeing the ludicrousness behind the idea that we should be afraid to say Merry Christmas when referring to a celebration of that December 25th holiday.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Day at the Nutcracker 2010

We missed last year due to the arrival of our new bambino, but this year decided to break form by separating the family a bit.  We simply concluded we couldn't hold our older boys away from things because the youngest is too young.  So with our young'un in the caring hands of aunts and grandparents, we went back to the Nutcracker this year.  As always, BalletMet Columbus put on a spectacular performance, well beyond the expectations of a group in such a destitute part of the country.  The audience, unfortunately, was just what you would expect from such a destitute part of the country.  It was actually amazing to watch as the zeal and passion of the dancers began to wane as the audience continued to sit, and sit, and sit, and do nothing but sit some more.  Interaction is the lifeblood of the live performance, something most there today apparently were unaware of.  Anyway, we had fun, got to wander around the bleak and desolate cityscape of what was once a thriving downtown Columbus, Ohio.  The streets were empty, the sidewalks bare despite being the last Saturday before Christmas.  This, of course, owing to the demolition of the City Center, a shopping mega-complex built only within my adult memory.  Anyhoo, we wandered around, saw the inside of our state house, marveled at the empty streets that felt like an episode of The Walking Dead, and generally indulged in some spiritual renewal at our diocesan cathedral.  We expect to bring our youngest back down to see a most spectacular life size nativity display that allows you to walk among the figures and sets.  Oh, and we managed to get a few pictures of the always cool boys, showing their distinct characters and tendency to warm up to some very slick fashions.  See you all soon, I'll pop in now and then between all the other fun and joyful things we'll be doing between now and January 3.  Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent!





Oh, and just because we can't be too separated, here's one of his most cute young'un himself:

The military now can don its gay apparel!

The Senate, illustrating the meaning of life in the Gay Generation, has repealed Don't Ask/Don't Tell.  For the record, I always knew it was a ludicrous and superficial law, the same type that marked so much of Bill Clinton's legacy: Photo Op with no substance.  But today, it illustrates the power and influence that the Gay Rights movement has on a dying and decaying civilization. 

Like Europe, that is quickly descending down the sewer of history, America is following suite.  While immigration reform lags, an economy sputters, and nuclear treaties flounder, our good senators demonstrate that in the Gay Generation, only issues that exist below the waste-line are worth considering.

And like our reluctance to throw everything into combating AIDS in the 80s lest we offend the gay community, this time the decision was made despite serious concerns by military commanders that this could create problems, even death, even defeat for our military, and hence our country.  But as we've made clear, as year after year we continue to promote homosexuality and all other forms of post-Christian sexuality despite such inconvenient phenomena as the AIDS pandemic, which to date has killed more people than Hitler or Stalin, homosexual rights comes first.  A little thing like dead soldiers or defeated nations is small potatoes next to a culture that promises unfettered libido satisfaction to all.

And like Europe, where sex and drugs are free but increasingly every other liberty or freedom is being challenged, especially the freedom of that pesky old religion stuff, America is plowing its own row to a land where in sex all is liberty, in everything else oppression. 

Yes, Homosexuality is the defining topic of our age, because it defines us.  It shows where our priorities are, it shows what our values are, where our priorities are, and it aptly gives a brief glimpse into the future of our ending.  For we don't have the excuse of Europe.  We see now where its values - or lack thereof - have gotten it.  But instead of learning, we would rather live in a society where we can glean the benefits of a sexually saturated culture, sure that any ill effects will no doubt affect everyone else, and leave us to our own orgasmic satisfaction.  Well done congress, you're everything we've come to expect from a government that represents us.

Friday, December 17, 2010

If science is the post-modern religion

Then it's becoming a fundamentalist sect.  A scientist who blasphemed the gospel of Darwinism and atheist thought was ousted from consideration despite overwhelming qualifications for the post of director of the new observatory at the University of Kentucky.  To illustrate how many post-moderns and new atheists are brushing off the old book of bigotry from days gone by, check out the comments and the various takes on 'we don't serve your kind' from the 'enlightened brights'. 

Christmas the Christian way

Skeptics and cynics and atheists galore often criticize the modern, sanitized version of Christmas.  They rail against such namby-pamby Currier and Ives visions of family, fireplaces, presents, and feasts when compared to the suffering of the world and the terrors therein. 

Ironically, they're almost right.  Such charming, safe and happy portrayals are not the entire Christmas story the way Christianity tells it.  Sadly, some versions have come close, particularly in certain modern manifestations of Protestant Christianity.  Just a couple years ago, churches canceled services so their members could embrace Norman Rockwell's vision of what Christmas is all about.  But they shouldn't have, and here's why.  Christmas, the actual story, is a joyful story mixed with pain. 

For the actual Christmas story is one of great joy and untold suffering. This is often missed, or ignored, yet it is affirmed in loud voices by the historical liturgical Calendars of the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.  What comes fast on the heals of Christmas?  Why the Feast of Christianity's first martyr, St. Stephen (as in, on the Feast of Stephen).  And then?  The feast of the the Holy Innocents, that troubling part where Herod orders the death of the innocents in order to snuff out the life of this pretender to the throne. As Mark Shea wryly points out, "Your average Best Christmas Pageant Ever doesn't tend to include a scene where a bunch of kids in plastic armor march on stage and then begin to methodically dismember a clutch of baby dolls."

And he is right.  The Christmas story, the real one, is filled with ups and downs that eventually lead to the greatest up of all, our salvation.  Too often we pay lip service at best, which can cause us to forget that if we are in a funk now, it's so that someday we will be lifted up - even if we can't see how at the time.  Read more of Mark's excellent post on how fear and scary stories are integral to getting Christmas right.  And remember that when it comes to Christmas, those scary ghost stories we sing about are in many ways more appropriate than the warmest, coziest Hallmark moment.  Both can have their place of course, but only when they are both included.  That way Christmas becomes what it is, a telling of the story of our salvation, one that promises us no matter how bad things may seem, someday they will achieve their ultimate good.

'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What blogging will be like over Christmastide and the remainder of Advent

As should be clear to my merry horde of regulars by now, blogging is starting to wind down for the year.  One big reason is the need to advance my career, and hopefully come the first of the year I will get news that a position I very much pray for will come my way.  Prayers for that would be appreciated.  Also, some big family decisions relative to my father's failing health and my mother as caregiver could also use some prayers.

In the meantime, the really big part of keeping our kids happy and carefree while we pray and fret and pray some more must be maintained.  So as time creeps ever closer to the joyous celebration of the birth of our Lord, less and less time will be there fore other important things, like blogging. 

We will spend time making merry, decorating trees, watching specials, cooking dinners (maybe a Medieval Feast this year focusing on a Christmas goose!), and generally being lazy and lounging and enjoying all that God has blessed us with.  For though times have been tough for us, I'm aware of the fact that many others have been hit harder, and we have much to thank God for.  No matter what happens come the first of the year, God has been good to us, and there are many in the world who would settle for a scrap of what I too often complain about.

In addition, we will try to have oodles of hours wiled away in such frivolous pursuits as keeping up with exercising, mastering Wii games meant to make us look stupid, and teaching our boys the gracious art of loosing, of which I am master.  Being board game fans, we will have plenty to do as the temperatures drop in accordance with Global Warming Climate Change, and will expect to see plenty of scenes like this:


No, it's not me and the boys laying in ambush and attacking a convoy of some left over German assault troops, it's the closest thing to a hobby my tight schedule will allow me, the always wonderful intro to wargamming club that anyone who has ever wondered about the hobby can easily master: 


Check out the link to Flames of War along the sidebar.  It's both hobby and fun game, so fun even my ever increasingly cool wife has jumped on board with it (and dutifully beat the stuffing out of our boys at least once so far).

There will be other games, school performances, parties, seeing lights, visiting the ol'symbol of Wall Street while spending more time focused on the real St. Nicholas, and generally enjoying the fact that for Catholics, you never need say, come 7:30 PM, Dec. 25, that it's all over for another year.  Nope.  For Catholics, it's only the beginning.

So I'll be around, just not much.  In case we miss each other, check by when you can, I'll do the same, and have a Happy Advent and wonderful and blessed Christmas season. 

More awesomeness

Courtesy of the Maker of Heaven and Earth.  Simply click on this link, see what makes scientists cool, and enjoy the videos that just scream out 'O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.'

Is homosexual skin thinner than condoms?

In another reminder that all speech is free unless gay groups say otherwise, some International Gay Rights groups are condemning the statements of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.  After choosing to have the World Cup in Qatar despite some pretty dismal human rights records, Blatter suggested homosexuals refrain from sex while visiting the games.  Homosexuality is, after all, punishable by death.  For some reason homosexuals have gotten on him like white on rice.  I'm not sure why.  You'd think they would be pissed off at Qatar and saying how horrible it is that such a warning must be given.  But apparently they thought they detected a slight sense of humor behind his statements, and where there is homosexuality, there is no humor.  Like so much of progressivism, unless it has to do with bodily functions or trashing religion, nothing is to be laughed at again. In addition, there are few things beyond one celled organisms with so thin of skin as the modern homosexual. So apologies are being demanded, and no doubt will be received. 

Thank goodness Christians aren't the majority in Iraq

Otherwise things could be even worse than this.  Like Tavis Smiley said, Christians are more violent than Muslims, going around murdering people, gunning people down, blowing them up every day.  So the fact that concrete walls have to be built around churches in Iraq because of the rash of killings and violence against Christians by Muslims just shows, according to Smileyland, how bad it would be if Christians were in charge.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There's cool

Then there's awesome cool.  A page of awesome photos of awesome things caught in the height of their awesomeness.  Enjoy.

US Navy upsets Iran

Now, someone please tell me why we are supposed to care. I mean really, is it down to this?  Apparently, the US Navy uses the term "Arabian Gulf", rather than the "Persian Gulf".  Why? I don't know.  But this has, according to The Lookout, caused a certain level of anger in some Iranian circles.  What I find amusing in the story is how it recounts other times the Arab world has snapped and we've blinked.  The Arab world.  We're not talking about Muslim Americans.  We're talking about the Arab world.  Where religious minorities are still persecuted, where Christians are still being executed, murdered, imprisoned, and given death sentences.  Where Westerners still travel in fear of their safety. Were tens of millions of Muslims support terrorism and the unchecked slaughter of Western Infidels.  Where thousands of hotheads from across the spectrum are emerging who seek to kill as many Americans as possible.   Yeah, that Arab world.  And it snaps its fingers, and we jump.  Anyone out there still thinking the West isn't plummeting like an anvil in a Road Runner cartoon?

Making the yuletide gay

An article reporting the bitter divisions within the gay rights movement, especially as it centers on the proper group worthy to step into the location of Harvey Milk's former headquarters.  Surreal to be sure.  One of those 'so that's where our civilization will be in another hundred years' moments.  Surreal indeed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

In defense of Robert McCarthy

Before we begin, a prize is being offered for the person who can tell if this piece from the Associated Press is an editorial, or a news story. 

Now, who the heck is Robert McCarthy?  According to the AP story, he's a 70 year old man who expressed reservations about a new cemetery in his town that is owned and run by Sufi Muslims.  Big, big mistake.  After weeks of mass killings by Muslims in the Islamic world, failed bomb plots by Muslims here at home, widespread persecution of religious minorities by Muslims in Muslim countries, the post-modern Left has been itching for a story to turn everything back to the Liberal mantra that white, European and American heterosexual Christian men are the only incarnation of evil and the singular cause of all human suffering in the world.

Mr. McCarthy, they thank you.  Here is our first introduction in the piece to ol'Robert:
The Sufis had followed proper procedures and received burial permits. But that didn't deter town Supervisor Robert McCarthy from calling the graves illegal and suggesting the bodies might have to be disinterred. "You can't just bury Grandma in the backyard under the picnic table," he said.
We are then told that he "became a poster child for Muslim-bashing everywhere. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann denounced him as "worst person in the world." Satirist Stephen Colbert direly warned viewers about Muslim vampire "sleeper-in-coffin-cells" infiltrating the Catskills."

Now, the first thing that leaps out at me is, as of now, I have no clue who this 'poster child for Muslim-bashing' is.  Second, I have no idea why he is objecting to the graves in the cemetery.  Only that he is.  Of course, being a good leftist propaganda piece, what I'm supposed to think of Robert is a foregone conclusion: Guilty as not charged.

Anyway, we move on.  We are informed that locals "watched in horror" as their town was labeled backward, Islamaphobic, and ignorant.  Of course that those who labeled the entire town this, or even McCarthy this, based on a single sentence could have been the problem isn't even considered by the Ministry of Leftist Propaganda the Associated Press. Anyway, on we go.

We are treated with a string of quotes from locals expressing how "sickened" they were by this brazen display of Islamaphobic bigotry and hate.  This brazen display:
You can't just bury Grandma in the backyard under the picnic table
Which, of course, should prove to anyone that the Islamaphobia we all hear about that is just percolating under the American landscape is alive and real and living in small town America.

Over the next few weeks, the piece tells us  that "a spirited, almost intoxicating sense of mission seemed to surge through Sidney, 150 miles north of New York City. Though the town Board of Supervisors hastily dropped the cemetery issue, it had set in motion something it couldn't contain. People reached out, not only to Sufis, but to each other. They set up websites, bonded on Facebook, launched petitions to impeach McCarthy and investigate town government."

Wow, that's exciting!  How inspiring!  How wonderful!  Especially that last part, about trying to get him impeached.  After all, let's not forget that he said:
You can't just bury Grandma in the backyard under the picnic table
And yet, I still don't know anything else.  I don't know why he said it.  I don't know the context.  Was he worried about something, had some ordinance been violated?  Was their a public safety concern?  No mention of the usual anti-Islamic rhetoric (unless Grandma is code for something I'm unaware of).  Nothing so far at least that suggests anything other than a desire to halt the burials in a new cemetery.

At the meeting to demand his resignation, and apology, or impeachment, or whatever, we are told that "they trekked to the Sufi center eight miles outside town, to sip tea with the sheik, to vow that Sidney, population 6,000, will be in the spotlight again, this time as a shining example of tolerance and understanding."

Get that?  A shining example of tolerance and understanding.  Again, bonus prize for the reader who can tell if this is an editorial or a news story.  But then there is a line break.  A small, black line tells us these things happened, and now we are in the here and now, the reason why this story found a reason to be told today, now (as opposed to my guess that the media was desperate to whip up the old 'evil American Racists' meme).

We are invited to breakfast at a local diner.  There, the scene is set.  On one side we are shown the McCarthy supporters:
"regulars, including a core group of McCarthy supporters, meet every morning for breakfast. These days, the main topic of conversation has been, as one man jokingly put it, "the turbans on top of the hill.""
We are then introduced to Hass Hass,  who according to the propaganda piece is "the chief spokesman for the Sufis and chief thorn in McCarthy's side."  We are told that Hass:
"seems to be everywhere — talking with national media, writing letters to town leaders and state officials, attending meetings of the newly formed "Concerned Citizens for Responsible Sidney Government," filing freedom of information requests. His unruffled manner and calm, authoritative voice have captivated the crowd as he persistently confronts McCarthy with the facts and the law."
Calm, unruffled, authoritative?  Wow, what a man.  Is the AP reporter wanting to marry him or something? You can't help but imagine Gergory Peck playing his life story.  But let's hold up for Mr. Peck, we'll see him later.  Right now, back to the glowing recommendation of Mr. Hass.  In addition to his personal charm, it is also revealed that he is a "captain of the local ambulance squad, volunteer firefighter, and roofing contractor", and that because of this, "Hass was already a familiar face in town. Now, almost overnight, he has become a community leader with many urging him to run against McCarthy in the next election."

Rock star, local style.  The scene continues to unfold.  A waitress at the restaurant has invited Mr. Hass over because she has grown worried due to the Islamaphobic conversations she is hearing that include such oldies as "all Muslims are terrorists, that the Sufis have pictures of Osama Bin Laden at their center, that the town would be better off if they dug up their graves and left."  She is quoted as saying, " If ever there was a time to shatter caricatures and prejudices, it was right here, right now."  No, strike that.  She wasn't quoted.  It was not a quote, nor did she say it.  We are told without quotes that she 'thought' it.  How the AP writer knew this is beyond me.  If she said it, why not quote her?  If she didn't say it, what little magical crystal ball of ESP does this writer possess?

Well, the showdown comes when Mr. Hass sits down across from McCarthy supporter Bill Howes.   Mr. Howes wears boots and a ball cap.  He 'grunts' at Mr. Hass when he sits down.  Grunts don't ya know.  They banter about sports and tell racy jokes, but things go south as the conversation turns to McCarthy. Howe defends McCarthy on the grounds that it's about more than just the whole cemetery issue.  Hass fires back that McCarthy "told reporters all over the country that what we did was illegal, and it wasn't."  Since the piece doesn't say if McCarthy was right or not, apart from saying that the papers were filed in proper order, we have to assume Hass has the point here. 

At that, we see Howe get up, excuse himself, and move to another table.  Then the story says that  "later, he will boast about having breakfast with "those Muslim guys" and will tell people how nice they seemed. But he has no plans to take up Hass' invitation to visit with the sheik."   I assume the reporter witnessed all of this.  The reporter, Helen O'Neil, actually saw him going around and saying this, and was also informed by Howe that he has no intentions of visiting the sheik.

What happens next?  Well, the story unfolds with Hass gathering around himself a group of rustic admirers, and enlightening them on the reasons for his embracing the Sufi faith.  Then we get to see a day in the life of Mr. Hass, in which he travels back roads checking on roofing jobs, stopping to check out the health of elderly farmers and their cows, and just generally getting warm and happy greetings from everyone.  Except one place, and that is  the Jess F. Howes building supply store in Sidney Center.  The reason for the lukewarm reception appears to be that "[e]arlier in the year, Hass says, he asked the owners to remove offensive Muslim jokes scattered on the counter. They did, but he felt it was done reluctantly. Now Hass refuses to shop there."

Again, no real evidence they did so, just Hass's testimony that they had.  And his testimony that it was done reluctantly.   But what the heck, that's good enough.  Just the name Howes suggests a relation to that other grunting fellow we met earlier.  Plus, when asked for a comment, a man behind a glass counter gives 'a phony name' and 'snaps' a no comment response.  Snaps.  Grunts.  Boy, what an ineloquent place.  No wonder so many people called the town ignorant.

Then comes another page break with a line, showing us that the story is about to go a different direction.  Next, we'll lean about the Sufi community, where it came from, and what happened that caused the events that brought the good town of Sydney onto a map I've never heard of despite my fondness of following the media. This is just too much fun to ignore, and I want to milk it for everything it's worth, because believe it or not there's a big HUGE lesson to  be learned in all of this.