Monday, April 30, 2012

And now some important pictures

After a day of catching up following my post last week that suggested I wouldn't be around for a while, I thought I would indulge myself in admiring my awesomely cool kids on our last vacation.  And it might be our last if a job doesn't come through soon!  Still, we had a sick boy today, hence my being around with a little home time to catch up on things.  So here they are, if for nobody else, for my own viewing pleasure!  TTFN.

No, it's not Stonehenge

Fun on the beach

What an angel boy

I think they're skipping stones, though I'm not sure

I've said it before, what a ham

I don't know, but it's a great contrast in personalities

Our youngest with his proud grandparents

I have absolutely no clue whatsoever about why they're walking like that ...

Media narratives and round squares

Do you ever get the impression that if the majority of mainstream media outlets began to insist that squares were round, and received a little boost from the entertainment industry, that in a matter of about two years 66% of Americans would agree that squares were, in fact, round?  I get that feeling.  I think many in the propaganda ministry mainstream media get that feeling, too.

How do I know?  I don't.  But I can't help but think there has to be a reason that so many outlets are prepared to continually advocate the exact same untruths that always seem to benefit certain viewpoints regarding certain topics. Coincidence maybe?  Perhaps.  But that would require more suspension of belief than I'm currently capable of mustering.

No, when it comes to the MSM, call me cynical, but there is little left that I will actually believe.  Take for instance the miraculous story of the disappearing women.  You've not heard of that?  Well, neither had I!  I thought I kept up with the news pretty well, keeping myself informed with a healthy dose of raised eyebrows, but this one slipped by me. 

I know that the whole War on Women (TM) is a desperate political maneuver designed to buttress support for President Obama.  I knew the whole Contraception focus on the HHS mandate was being used to keep attention off of the clear and naked assault on Constitutionally protected liberties.  I'm not stupid.  But in it, I fell victim to a subtle sub-narrative.  I knew that the whole Sandra Fluke episode was simply a political stunt that Rush Limbaugh fell hook, line, and sinker into elevating.  I understood the politics behind the alternate hearing in which Ms. Fluke appeared, owing to the fact that Democrats had stormed out of the original hearing because no women were allowed to testify.  I knew...WAIT!  What?  WTH?  Hold up a minute.

Turns out, there were women at that hearing.  You know, the original hearing that the Democrats stormed out of because there were no women allowed to testify?  They were Dr. Allison Dabbs Garrett, the senior vice-president for academic affairs at Oklahoma Christian University and Dr. Laura Champion, medical director of Calvin College Health Services.  Where the hell did they come from? Well, Mollie Ziegler breaks down the breakdown over at GetReligion (kudos to Mollie for catching President Obama's embrace of the flawed storyline).

Apparently, they came from the hearing.  Just like the hearing did include, contrary to initial reports, testimony from individuals on both sides of the HHS mandate debate, so it also included Invisible Woman 1 and Invisible Woman 2.  So the whole thing was a big, fat lie.  Dumb luck that all of the media outlets that I read and watched missed it, too.  They must really trust those Democrats who walked out!  After all, it couldn't be that they knew the women were there to testify, and simply chose to ignore that fact and present a false narrative of events to the American public or anything.

Lesson here?  Just when you think you've become cynical enough for the American media, just remember there is no such thing as being cynical enough.  You can't just imagine you're ignoring the macro-narrative and that's good enough.  No.  You have to get mad at those little details as well, like the actual facts that the MSM is presenting in order to promote the narrative.  So from now on, make sure you assume just about everything you are hearing or reading could be flawed, and then go from there.  Just God help us if there is ever a real emergency, and our nation ignores the warnings because we finally came to the conclusion that the boy had simply cried wolf one too many times.

My post that Frank Weathers banned

So I was wandering about an atheist blog when I stumbled across a post linking to Frank Weathers. Now I've gone to Mr. Weathers' blog a couple times, usually because it was linked from other blogs. Nothing ever really kept me coming back. But this post that linked to Mr. Weathers had a string of comments blasting him, the Faith, Christians, the usual. Well, I thought, I better get over there and see what's happening on the comments. Turns out, just praise and adoration. And plenty of folks saying we should love our enemies, pray for them, and do good to them. Fine. Nothing wrong there.

But the more I read the article, the more I felt it was tilting things a bit. It reminded me, to be honest, of a young woman I knew in the early days of my Christian walk. One days she visited my house shortly after I was married. She had in her hands the latest book by Max Lucado, "He Still Moves Stones." But when I opened it, I noticed she had crossed out some words. Any references to anger had been removed. I asked her why she did this. Because anger is wrong, God can't be wrong, therefore God can't be angry. Max was wrong and because she liked him so much, she couldn't stand seeing him be wrong.

I explained that anger can lead to sin, but it isn't, in itself, a sin. Not so she explained. We Christians, and we are called ever and always to love, Love, LOVE! You can love and still be angry, I said. Not so, anger is sin, it is bad, wrong, evil, the dark side, of hell, whatever. Therefore God cannot be angry. No matter how I tried, I couldn't convince her that while anger can certainly lead to sin, it is not ever and always sin, or even bad, or even a bad idea.

Mr. Weather's post that more or less says all debate should display love and that's it, sounded reasonable upon first reading. But the more I read it, the more I got the impression it was missing something. It was missing the robust righteous anger that could come out in the Scriptures themselves. It was missing some cases where pretty strong language and imagery was used. It was not taking into account that sometimes reasoned answers sprinkled with love don't do it, and a strong slap in the face is what 's needed.

Of course, you don't want to descend into calling people Raca and Fool. No false accusations. No slander. No lying about them or putting words in their mouths. Nor do you need to insult them. But calling a ludicrous idea ludicrous? Laughing at a laughable statement? Calling someone wrong for advocating evil, like the eradication of religion from the world by whatever means possible? I just didn't see the problem, and felt his post could be missing the width and breadth of variety it takes to engage people in a real and hostile world.

Not wanting to take up too much space, I condensed my response to this:
I suppose some examples of what not to say could help. After all, we follow Scriptures that boldly labeled a fool the one who says there is no God, a Savior willing to toss out such terms as brood of vipers, white washed sepulchers, and blind guides, and at least one apostle willing to suggest castration as a solution to the problem (even if he didn't really mean it). In short, there's fingers in the eye, and then there's calling a spade a spade
True, with the exception of the psalm, the others are directed at various religious individuals, and not at those outside the circle of religious debate. Of course Paul was rather calm and humble in addressing the learned non-believers in Athens. But there's a line I think. It's my nature not to run around making fun of people. But if an atheist says something patently laughable, showing it is so might help (and as a former agnostic, sometimes it was that bold willingness to engage that meant more than just telling me Jesus loved me since I didn’t believe a lick of it). If an atheist is going total ‘can’t we just wipe religion off the face of the earth’, humor can be a good retort. I think it’s Mark Shea who is fond of saying that sometimes laughing at the devil is the best approach.

So while I appreciate the sentiments of the post, I would want to qualify, if for no other reason than my own savior seemed to do so. For as he was wont to say, while on one hand he is gentle and humble of heart, he was known to mention on occasion that he didn’t come to bring peace on earth, but a sword.


And then I waited. And waited. And waited. I noticed that he reviewed all comments before posting them. Fair enough. Some do that. I imagined it would take awhile. So I moved on with life and checked back periodically. And checked. And checked. Soon I began to notice comments posted after mine that were on the blog. But not mine.

Why he didn't post it?  I don't know.  It certainly wasn't vitriolic.  It didn't even say he was entirely wrong. I merely pointed out that there are times, in certain conditions, where we have to get bold and prepared to turn the other cheek,  rather than just walk away chanting All You Need is Love.  But it's Frank's blog, and he can ban and censor as he sees fit.  I will leave it to Frank, and from now on leave Frank's blog.  FWIW, folks can comment here, even if they disagree with me.  I won't ban anyone. 

Eeek

There's a reason I don't travel to Indonesia, and this is it.

In the 90s it was smoking

Then in the 00s it was global warming.  Terrorism came in a close second.  But in the twenty-teens, it's Obesity!  Oh no!  The thing that is the cause of all suffering.  Why is America dying?  Obesity.  Why did the Byzantine Empire fall?  Obesity.  Why did I fail my math test? Obesity!  It's the problem that explains all problems.  Only this one strikes at a new form of liberty infringement.  Smoking and terrorism were at least able to be shown to cause some harm in some way to others.  Second hand smoke could kill even if you didn't smoke. And terrorism doesn't need explained.  Global Warming was a little more broad, with talk of vanishing coastlines, dying polar bears, and bad Hollywood special effects being enough reason to legislate, legislate, and legislate more. 

But with obesity, it hits a new tactic in the war against freedom (or WAF for short).  The others more or less said that the threats were direct, therefore we must be willing to give up a few freedoms.  In the case of smoking, the threat was direct and so if you don't smoke, you have to be willing to make others give up their freedoms.  But in obesity and other health issues, the idea is that this leads to a host of health problems, this makes health care costs soar, this puts a burden on the American health care system, this therefore costs everyone money, and therefore it hurts you and me.  We're all affected!  Oh no!

Well, pardon me for not taking my copy of the Constitution to the trash heap, but I'll take this whole 'we're all going to die because of Obesidty' version of the latest panic scare more seriously when they also mention the catastrophic effects that our era of sexual promiscuity has had on society, including health care costs in the form of AIDS, HIV, and various STD treatment and care.  When they lump that behavior in with all the other bad behaviors that need regulating because they cost health care money, then I'll imagine this is serious.

As long as focus on sexual promiscuity is noticeably absent from the call to regulate all behaviors because it can cost health care money, I'll assume it's simply one more in a long line of hysterics meant to get a lazy, foppish, and tech-obsessed society to sell its birthright of liberty for a bowel of bad stew. 

Apparently hell has frozen over

You won't believe this, but it looks like Hustler publisher Larry Flynt has said - wait for it - that he will vote for liberal Democrat Barack Obama for president this year.  I know, commence guffawing.  I love how these folks think they are some cutting edge, radical, break down barriers rebels or something.  I mean, really?  This guy is as tired, boring and predictable as they come.  You could set the Atomic Clock by how predictable he is.  Does anyone notice this?  Apparently not, if the fact that he is going to vote the way anyone could have predicted makes the news.

I know, he had said he had problems with Obama.  Right.  That means I thought he might not support Obama this year.  Oh wait.  No, I'm not an idiot.  Again, the thing that was once cutting edge is now as dry and threadbare dull as it gets, and only a fool would see this as anything newsworthy. 

The Titanic II?

Looks like an Australian billionaire wants to build a near replica of the Titanic. Why?  I haven't a clue.  But here's what hit me.  He has commissioned a Chinese company to build it.  I'm not sure what strikes me more - that he went to China, not America, to have something that represented Western industrial might built?  Or that he went to China, not America, to have something that represented Western industrial might built, and nobody so far seems to have noticed.  Could it be that America is already slipped into second-rate country status, and we just don't realize it, or has it done so and we've just accepted it?  In any event, a growing number of breakthroughs and bold accomplishments that garner international attention seem to be lacking that 'Made in America' stamp for which our country was once so justly proud.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Blogging light right now

As can be seen, there's not much blogging going on.  Not that I haven't notice much to comment on, but right now as my wife's severance package comes to a close, and we face the prospect of no income, no benefits, and no ready openings in the near future, I must admit my mind's priorities are elsewhere.  With that said, not to leave  folks hanging, but here are a couple things worth chewing on. 

First, a friend sent this article by George Weigel that says, in ways far better than I could, what I've been saying for several years now.  It's one of the ongoing themes that I touch on time and time again.

And over at the truly awesome Bad Catholic, I see one of the best refutations against the simplistic and shallow explanations that skeptics have for the question of why people are religious.  It's a must read. 

These two articles should keep you busy. In the meantime, prayers will be appreciated.  And enjoy a shot of my boys at St. Mary parish on the last Sunday that the three of them will serve, since my oldest will be moving on to bigger and different things in the not too distant.  Till later, God's blessings, prayers for the family, and TTFN. 

With a special note, it being the only Easter they served together

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

James McGrath reviews Bart Ehrman's latest book

So you can get a jump start on the nuts and bolts.  McGrath is good, very good about breaking things down.  Ehrman is good as well.  Though at times he seems to exploit the ignorance of his audience in things biblical (like building his audience up to the *shocking* revelation that John 8 isn't in most early manuscripts - something just about every Bible has in a footnote), I still admire him and his quest for truth.  Raised in a hardcore fundamentalist camp with a radically literalistic take on Scripture and the Faith, he bolted when he realized the evidence wasn't there.  No it isn't.  And it's not shocking that when I read testimonials from atheists and non-believers who came from Christianity, they tend to come from three camps: Fundamentalists who  demand a massive conspiracy of everything learned; Liberal and left leaning traditions who, as Sam Harris rightly points out, are almost 9/10 there anyway; and cradle Christians who simply took things for granted without ever giving them much thought (Catholics rating very high in this category).  But in any event, Ehrman at least continues to grapple with the facts and tries to draw his conclusions accordingly, putting him head and shoulders above so much of what passes for modern atheism today.

Hey! We were just at Jekyll Island!

That's one of the many places we stopped on our trip to Florida over spring break.  See, we even discovered that the great erosion of America's coasts hadn't happened yet!   Maybe next time we go - hopefully sooner than almost 20 years - we'll be able to afford this place.

Did I mention we had an awesome vacation before Easter?


A rare family shot, complements of my sister-in-law

The world's cutest wife - and a mighty tolerant one at that

Cumberland Falls are still breathtaking

The older three, and yes our oldest is that concerned about being near the railing

You can't ever get his face, he's too involved in what he's doing

More to come...

Atheists cry a river

In this bold and daring Youtube video, we see atheists facing up to the horrors of coming out in our society as atheists. Uh huh. Our society.  Thin skinned lot. I especially enjoy reading the comments. Of course some folks point out that, like me, there was never any major backlash. When I professed my unbelief in college, not much was said. A few discussions here and there, but that was it.

Since the culture, and the university, were firmly in the post-Christian/post-religious era I had no real problems showing myself as a card-carying agnostic. Except for one campus preacher who would arrive to inform everyone that we were going to hell, I received no fire and brimstone. The only other case of disrespectful fanaticism and zealotry was, in fact, an atheist we knew who aspired to be a science fiction author. George was his name. Heaven help anyone who brought up anything about God, religious faith, or religion. So over the top condescending and patronizing was George in such cases, that I found myself taking the side of anyone arguing for God! That, ironically, was one of the many factors that set me along the path toward religious conversion. But that's for another post.

Right now, grab a box of tissues, and if you can endure the pain and suffering of these courageous freethinkers, plunge into the terror and sacrifice that they have made simply because they were finally smarter than everyone else and realized that everyone they knew was wrong - and all in 21st century America!

Meanwhile in Sudan

In the wake of Sudanese Muslims torching a Church, courageous security officials in the Sudan have arrested Catholic aid workers and closed down the office of Caritas in South Darfur.  May God grant them peace and strength as they join the growing host of Christians falling to persecution around the world.

Hugh Hefner jumps into the War on Women!

That's like having Benito Mussolini jump in on your side during a war.  A man whose famous objectifying of women is surpassed in its debauchery only by the stunning hypocrisy of those feminists who insist objectifying women as sexual objects is a good thing, has decided that this current move toward sexual responsibility and maturity must stop!  Sure, AIDS has wiped out more people than Hitler or Stalin could manage, and the HIV and AIDS rates continue to climb in our own country, along with a host of other problems - emotional, STDs, psychological, and societal - that are associated with the grand and glorious sexual revolution.  But hey!  Those are small prices to pay for Hef's libido doggone it.  Wow.  You just know that five hundred years from now, people will look back on our generation and shake their heads in disbelief when a man like this is given even a modicum of regard by our societal elites.  May God have mercy on that poor man's soul. 

Phillip Warlove demonstrates ignorance

In this piece, in which he tries to pound the square peg of his shallow agendas into the round hole of reality.  Anyone who reads more than one newspaper a year knows that if the Catholic Church is anything at all, it is hardly a carbon copy of the GOP.  One could rattle off a half dozen major topics in which the Church and the GOP have run afoul of one another: the Iraq War, Immigration Reform, the GOP budget, Israel, enhanced interrogation, the death penalty - to see that there is little in common between the two on a host of issues.  But in keeping with the typical progressive mantra, that all reality exists within the domain of sex, Mr. Warlove sees the Church's stance on sex related issues, and concludes that the GOP and the Catholic Church are indeed one flesh.  Warlove's is the type of editorial that ultimately speaks more about the author of the editorial piece than it does the topic at hand.

It starts

Well, not really.  It's been progressing for quite some time.  But so far, the argument from the pro-gay movement has been that they would never, ever think of forcing actual churches to compromise their beliefs about homosexuality.  In fairness, as this story makes clear, the Hutchinson City Council is not mandating that churches perform the actual ceremonies.  That would be too flagrant.  Rather, they are simply demanding that churches open up their facilities to gay marriages and receptions.  This is strange, because as a former pastor, we didn't have to open our church up for anyone.  We had the right to say no for a host of reasons.  Oh, we never did that I am aware of.  Usually, our facilities were used by those wanting to get married in our church in a service performed by me anyway.  But it could have happened.  So once again, we see that slow, steady creep (though gaining steam to be sure) of the post-modern progressives yearning for a day when it is really no longer legal to be non-progressive. Now that's progress!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mutiny over the bounty

Heh.  Looks like a Muslim member of the House of Lords is bringing some pretty darn embarrassing attention to that august body.  Read the article is here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Megan Carpentier does her part

To keep the focus of the abortion debate hell and gone from the subject of the baby.  Fighting for the right to abort babies, Megan undergoes the controversial transvaginal ultrasound in order to proclaim how intrusive and uncomfortable it was.  I mean, really.  Did anyone with more brain cells than a rock actually believe this wasn't going to be her conclusion?  It's, of course, a diversion meant to keep the topic on women, Women, WOMEN to the exclusion of any other conceivable priority.  Any time people start to think about how it really is the slaughter of an important human soul, they tend to get the willies.  This has been shown now for more than a few years in polls suggesting that support for aborting babies is beginning to wane.  So kudos to Ms. Carpentier.  She went the extra mile to fight for the right to sustain one of America's darkest blots on its history.  It's all we've come to expect from pro-abortion rights feminism in our post-modern society.
My eleven year old showed this to me. His teacher showed it in class, the message being don't sit around and wait for others. He thought it was hilarious. I told him it would have been funnier if it didn't so accurately reflect the reality of our modern society.


For now Dick Clark, so long

You will be missed.  I never knew a world that didn't have Dick Clark somewhere on a television screen. He was part of the generation that, for good or ill, set in motion the world in which we live; that generation that defined the priorities of the next five or more generations.  I'm just old enough to remember the waning days of Guy Lombardo, who would soon be replaced - much to my parents' chagrin - with young, charismtic and perptually smiling Dick Clark.  By the late 70s, he was the face of each New Year. 
Later, in addition to countless television hosting duties, he ushured in new entertainment experiments, such as a television show based on bloopers and sometimes practical jokes whose authenticity were, shall we say, suspect at best.  Of course, nothing ever matched American Bandstand, the icon of an era and the show that overwhelmed any other in its ability to bring the sex, drugs, and rock and roll culture into America's living rooms, at least before the dawning of MTV.

Nonetheless, Dick Clark himself seemed strangely above it all. I don't know anyone who in any way blamed him for any part of the cultural decay wrought by that generation of narcissists and hedonists.  Whether it was his charm, his eternal youthfulness, or just the fact that he came across as a likable fellow, he lived and breathed in the eye of the cultural hurricane, yet emerged unscathed with dry clothes and perfect hair. 

When the world first beheld him after his stroke, it was difficult to see.  For me, his declining health mirrored my own Dad's descent into the abyss of Alzheimer's.  As each New Year's passed, it became clear that his time with us was growing short.  Still, when you finally hear the news, it's tough.  A person who was as much a part of the societal landscape as the golden arches or the Twin Towers has left us.  I hope his family finds solace in the best parts of all he did, and pride in his ability to bring humanity to a cultural revolution that all too often stripped the more noble and pure aspects away from human nature.  May God grant them peace during this time of suffering.  And eternal peace grant unto him O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon him.

Dick Clark.  November 30, 1929 – April 18, 2012

What it was was the Bible

There I was young and innocent, minding my own business scanning the blogosphere, when I come across a website dedicated to mind boggling amounts of stupidity from the world of atheism.  In addition, the blog seems quite happy to post a stream of blasphemous and offensive art and pictures.  Not just offensive to Christians, but anyone of faith.  Hence, you will see no links to this particular blog.  Just Google hate and it should pop up soon enough.  In addition, the individual who runs the blog has one of the most dizzying intellects I’ve seen in recent years.  His entire approach appears to be 1. Write something accusing religion of being stupid and evil, 2. Respond to someone who challenges his assertion that religion is stupid and evil by denying that that he wrote what is clearly visible on his blog.  What can you say but, inconceivable!  

Anyway, for kicks, and to escape the possible flood of trashing and hashing America that will follow in the wake of Mark Shea’s post that calls to mind the atomic bombing of Japan (which the Church clearly teaches is wrong), I thought I’d take some time and read the stellar arguments in the comments section.  I stumbled across a post that claimed the Bible is just one giant falsehood in which our intrepid blogger begs for proof that shows he’s wrong.  In the discussion, some brave commenter (who wisely chooses to remain anonymous) attempts to use actual scholarly theory, data, facts, and evidence to suggest the Bible as Myth might be overplayed.  Well, lo and behold, a stellar giant of rational thinking swoops in and adds this to his comment mocking this appeal to serious scholarship:

The Biblical document? The Flood? Jews building the pyramids? Moses collecting stone tablets from the Burning Bush? Historical human Jesus? Hardly.  The only author of the Bible, itself, who wrote within a timeframe that he could have actually witnessed the life of a historical Jesus (I'm speaking of Saul of Tarsus) never describes the birth, crucifixion, death, and resurrection as having happened on Earth. He probably was describing events he believed to have happened in the spiritual realm.


Without losing his temper, the anonymous poster responds that it’s best not to get your facts wrong when your purpose is to belittle the Bible for getting its facts wrong.  Truth is, the Bible says nothing at all about the Jews building the pyramids (a later tradition at best), or the burning bush happening at the same time as Moses receiving the Ten Commandments, much less understanding that Jews are not synonymous with the Israelites of Exodus fame.  Not to be deterred, our brave atheist rises to the challenge:

The Jews were NOT enslaved by Egypt. The Jews did NOT wander the desert. There is no evidence. (Building the pyramids is a common representation of the Jews being "in bondage" in Egypt.) You want to split hairs over my larger point, go for it.  The point is that Exodus is a myth. The Bible is biased and unreliable as history.


Split hairs?  Attributing to the Bible something anyone who has read the Exodus story even once would know to be false?  His response, and the response of the fellow who runs the blog, was a jumbled mess of incoherent rants and factually inaccurate responses; nothing other than ‘the Bible is too wrong cuz it’s wrong, that’s why.’  It was crystal clear he had never even once opened the Bible to read what he claims it gets wrong. 

Later, when the same individual attempts to explain the various genres of literature within the Scriptures and points to the early Church Fathers to show that reflecting on various approaches to Scripture is not some modern reaction to science, the brave blogger responds with derision and accuses him of copping out. 

The stunning disregard for facts, logic, and consistency in arguments in order to disprove something that he clearly has never bothered to actually study, all the while insisting that the Bible he clearly hasn’t read is wrong by setting up a flawed picture of what any serious scholar would accept as valid, makes me think of nothing so much as this classic gem from Andy Griffith:



Football would look strange to someone completely divorced from the reality of its rules, culture and surroundings. Just like religion and its sacred texts appear to look so flawed to people who have no desire to actually learn about their content or the context in which they exist.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Otherwise, Global Warming is obviously true

I enjoy watching agendas crash into reality.  Now I'm the first to admit that climate change is real.  What's to deny?  It's  been documented time and again throughout history.  We know that significant and sometimes radical changes in the climate have altered the course of history.  I'll go further and say that our current dilemma has not been aided by humanity's weak use of industrial and scientific knowledge and progress.  Dating back to the industrial revolution, and going all the way to our modern trend of hooking life up to a processor and wondering where the humanity has gone, I think it's fair to say that we're still bumbling about in the dark when it comes to handling the awesome power that our knowledge of the universe has unleashed.  Which is why, if you'll forgive me, I'm a little skeptical when it comes to those who say it's time to toss all that silly philosophy, theology, and ethics mumbo-jumbo and let science have a blank check. 

But with that said, it's also near imposable to miss the fact that the issue of Global Warming, or Climate Change, has been badly exploited, manipulated, and simplified.  Too soon did scientists jump on the modern trend of 'we're all going to die!' and attempt to scare us through vague and over-hyped conclusions.  If we don't make radical changes, in ten years our coastlines will be gone!  That was from the late 1990s, when I moved to Louisville, Kentucky.  It's been 10 years.  GW advocates bemoan a lack of radical changes.  And the coastlines are still there, as evidenced in our recent trip across the Eastern US Coastline:

The boys scientifically demonstrating the existence of a coastline that looks like it did on our honeymoon in 93

Plus, the single 'it's getting hotter every day' that seemed so true in the early 00s, and certainly seems true this last year, didn't seem so true there for a few years.  It also doesn't seem true in every part of the world.  That's what this article shows

Some glaciers are, apparently, growing.  What does that and all the other discrepancies prove?  That the hysteria may be overplayed?  That scientists could be wrong?  That the narrative might need altering?  No.  That cannot be.  So we have scientists saying, in a nut shell, that all the evidence proves we're right, except for that over there, which needs to be understood in this way, since otherwise it might suggest we're not right.  Call me simple, but when I get the hunch that type of reasoning is being used, it gives me reason to hesitate before submitting myself to the latest proclamation that we're doomed.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Heh

Death by a thousand stupidities

It was G.K. Chesterton who once said that when you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws. The big law that our enlightened and hip post-modern culture got rid of some time ago was the law of common sense.  After all, you can't *prove* common sense, can you?  You can't win arguments with it.  You certainly can't win court cases with it. Nor can you defend yourself in court cases with it.  Hence, we have protection against litigation.  Everything has to have something to protect itself, no matter how ludicrous, and the slightest bit of research that suggests squares are round receives a hat tip over common sense that suggests squares can't be round.  So we end up with little stories like this on a daily basis.  Consent forms?  In the day, I'm not sure they even had consent forms.  When I was young, my Mom doesn't remembering signing such things for us.  If our picture inadvertently appeared in the newspaper, my Mom thought it was good news and told everyone about it.  No forms required.  But in our intellectually superior society, we can't rest on anything so quaint as common sense.  Hence, you have cartoon smiley faces interposed upon the head of a student who failed to provide a consent form to the school for class pictures.  Death by a thousand idiocies will be the epitaph of our nation I'm afraid.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

To those Lost

At 11:40 PM tonight, ship's time, one hundred years ago, Frederick Fleet would bellow those haunting words: "Iceberg, right ahead!" In less than three hours, the crown jewel of modern optimism, along with over 1500 souls, would slip into the icy waters of the Atlantic. Apparently, we don't know the exact number who died, but most accounts place it as over 1500 victims who died that night, or shortly thereafter. On this, the one hundred anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, there will be plenty to read about and watch. Obligatory viewings of Cameron's epic will be mandatory, though some might prefer an earlier viewing which holds up nicely based on the information at hand: A Night to Remember. Some could argue the its accuracy surpasses Cameron's, who seemed more worried about accurate set pieces and china decorations than some of the more important themes and lessons.

For me, I kicked around what to write about this day. I knew that, as a historian and one who always found the story of the Titanic to be fascinating, even before Leonardo and Kate steamed up the back seat of a 1912 Coupe de Ville, I wasn't going to let this pass without saying something. Ah, but what? What can be said that hasn't been said? I certainly don't want to be like those smut scholars who use moments like this to rush out and 'debunk' (usually with poor research or twisted studies) the memory of the moment. I made a stab of it the other day, thinking about one behemoth lesson that we should all take from the disaster, which I'm afraid is sailing under our radars as we, once again, indulge in the intoxicating drink of our own generation's greatness.

But there's another, if I may put on my historian's cap for a moment. Like I said before, I didn't hate Cameron's Titanic. I thought it better than many of its harshest critics. Sometimes the made up dialogue was tiresome, and Cameron's shallow grasp of anything beyond the technicalities could certainly be seen as he lined up cliche after cliche. But more than the sum of its parts, the overall whole was, on first viewing, very emotional and entertaining. And more than many films, it still holds well today. Perhaps some day I'll break down thee thing, but I'm not a film critic, and it would be a layman's take at best.

But there were scenes, especially when the historical events began to nudge aside the boy-meets-girl emphasis of the first half of the movie, that do well in bringing the tragedy to life. Certainly the famous Nearer My God to Thee montage does well, as do certain gut-wrenching displays of human loss and suffering. But one thing, for me, always stood out. The ending. I know many have debated what the ending meant, did she die or was she just revisiting a reoccurring dream. I'll leave that for others. But if you forget the ending, the final seconds of the film, here it is (Note: Finding this on Youtube was easier said than done, this particular version has been 'flipped', that is, you might remember it from a different angle, I don't know why, but in case you notice it):



More on how that works out with my thoughts on the event at a later time.  Right now, use it to reflect along with so many in the rest of the world over the events of a hundred years ago. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon them.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hilary Rosen is reminded that Ann Romney is not Sarah Palin

Back in 2008, when it came to going after Sarah Palin, anything went.  One of the earliest slams at her was aimed at her decision to run for office when she was the mother of a special needs child.  She should have stayed home where she belonged, or so we were told.  After all, I can think of no statement that defines liberal feminism more than 'a woman's place is in the home.' 

Well, to quote Foreigner, that was yesterday.  Or yesteryear.  CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen has been taken to the woodshed over mocking Ann Romney, mother of Mitt Romney's children, as having never worked a day in her life.  Now how long would it take to see what was wrong with that picture? 

I'm sure she imagined that, just like 2008, it is going to be no-holds-barred when it comes to going after the GOP, their wives, their children, or whoever.  But it is not 2008.  People were pissed in 2008, and looking for someone to blame.  They were pissed at President Bush, and the Republicans.  The MSM was entirely into the narrative that we were about ready to make history by electing a woman or a non-Caucasian to the presidency.  So there was some leeway. 

But not now.  Only through the help of the MSM, hellbent on reelecting Obama, has Obama managed to stay near a 45% approval rating.  Not good going into an election year.  Despite media narratives, the country is in no way sold on reelecting the destroyer of religious liberty in exchange for better sex.  So the blank check to attack/destroy is not there.  Especially - ESPECIALLY - when courting the female vote appears to be strategy #1 for the Obama team and his cadre of propagandists in the MSM.  The LAST thing they needed was Ms. Rosen coming out and suggesting that women who raise kids are a bunch of out of touch lazy slackers. 

Even Debbie Wasserman Schultz jumped on board and spanked Rosen over her comments.  Word of warning for Democrats:  It is not 2008.  The old sexism, racism, phobia inducing demagoguery will not work as easily this time around.  If you want to see President Obama in for another four years, you could do worse than putting a leash on the more infantile blowhards representing your cause.

By the way, I know what Rosen meant.  She was trying to run with the observation that Ann Romney didn't know what it was to struggle with bills while two parents work to scratch out a living.  It was simply a stupid thing to say, and it goes to show how if you're not careful, being outside of accountability can ultimately come back to bite.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Battleship: The movie?

I was almost inclined to laugh and post some witticism about how stupid it is to make movies based on games.  Then I remembered a few years ago when critics were predicting the end to Johnny Depp's career because of his decision to star in a movie based on a Disney theme park ride.  So you never know, film quality and the high demands of modern audiences being what they are.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A blog of lamentations

With all the obituaries mixed with somber reflections of infamous disasters, I've been notified that the overall tenor of the blog seemed, for a while, to be on the dour side.  Well, we can't have that.  So here's a little help from that slapstick dancer of old, Donald O'Connor, complements of the classic Singin' in the Rain. If this doesn't lighten things up, nothing can!

Our economic rebound

Is hitting a snag.  Well, the Market hasn't been happy.  I'm not an economist, financial expert, accountant, or anyone to do with money.  I struggle to keep my checkbook balanced and my bills paid.  My wife and I are both searching for 'gainful' employment, so my skepticism about the great Economic Recovery that has been the focus of recent reporting should be noted.   Still, I can't help but see this last week has caused others to notice something is amiss.

I know, when something goes wrong, we're reminded that it all happened before, usually around another successful president's term.  Many have pointed to the sluggishness of the 1982 economy, no doubt expecting us to draw the logical line to Reagan's overwhelming landslide in 1984.  The problem there was that by 1984, just about every major indicator showed that the economy was clearly rebounding.  In addition, contrary to expectations, Reagan hadn't stumbled in and inadvertently caused World War III.  In fact, it seemed that cracks in the Soviet armor were beginning to show.

Not that all was perfect and wonderful.  It never is.  But by 1984, even being surrounded by a family of Democrats, we all had to admit things were looking a world better than they did five years earlier.  That is not the case today.  Even with the MSM's clear desire to help Obama get reelected, the attempts to frame our economic recovery in such positive terms is obviously half-hearted.  Even in their most optimistic takes, I can hear clear qualifiers being dropped and disclaimers about why the great recovery doesn't look so great to so many.

We just took a round trip to Florida over Spring Break (more on that some other time).  Driving almost 2500 miles all around from Ohio down through Alabama, up through Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee.  We saw many cities, towns, states.  And my wife and I noticed something: There is nothing out there to suggest the economy is improving.  We saw lines of closed up stores, for sale signs on private property, foreclosed homes.  We noticed that more than I can remember, the bulk of the vehicles on the road were older models.  Oh, there were new ones.  But not as many, and it didn't seem odd at all that we were driving a minivan almost ten years old, because we saw hundreds of similar makes and models and years.  We've noticed that hobbies and other 'little luxuries' have been reduced.  Little things that suggest people just don't have the spare change anymore.  Or perhaps they're not willing to go into debt to get it.  I dont' know.

I just know there is nothing out there that looks like across the board economic recovery, when in 1984 - the last time we had to recover from something on par with the economic collapse of 08 - things were clearly getting better.  My biggest fear?  That a huge swath of the American society has been hit and permanently knocked off the middle class shelf, and will not be returning.  Unemployment, shrinking labor force, lower pay, fewer benefits will keep this segment of America in the lower rungs.  Those not affected, mixed with growing markets overseas, may well help American manufacturing or industry.  One thing we saw more than I've ever seen was a constant stream of RVs with cars attached to trailers in their back.  Someone has the money for those. 

But I fear that an entire block of our country has fallen, and won't be getting up again.  I also fear that the media, that might be able to light a fire under this dilemma, is going to remain eerily silent in the hope that we ignore this trend and instead believe that light is on the horizon, if only we vote for The One.  I could be wrong.  But I don't think I'm too far off on either the current predicaments, or the reason why we're not hearing more about it.

Who's Bubba?

I don't play golf.  One time in my life I took clubs in hand and attempted the game.  My first hit was a beauty.  The fellow I was with actually thought I had set myself up by lying about my lack of golfing skills. The rest of the dismal afternoon proved my case, culminating with one of the balls getting stuck in a tree. That's right, in a tree.  That was my only time I've ever tried the game.  Beyond that, I have little interest in the entire golf culture.  As a Baptist pastor, I was mindful of being just about the only fellow who didn't show up for any one of the hundred or so 'golf outings' that my colleagues would attend. 

The last decade or so of Tiger Worship didn't do much to endear me.  I don't like it when the MSM decides it's going to tell me who or what to care about. As year after year passed, and story after story told me Tiger finished first, fifth, ninth, didn't play, wasn't there, and only occasionally got around to mentioning who did win if it wasn't the Tiger, I became less interested.  Just as I got tired of hearing the media insist I should ever and always venerate Michelle Kwan, as opposed to those other girls who insisted on winning Olympic Gold Medals (anyone remember their names?). 

That's why I'm the last person to talk to when it comes to what's happening in the world of golf.  So imagine my surprise when, all of a sudden, I notice a flurry of activity over the young fellow who won the Masters this last week.  Bubba.  Bubba Watson.  I had noticed that the Tiger wasn't performing up to par (heh), and much was made about his childish temper tantrums, which probably where more a factor of his competitiveness and disappointment, at least IMHO. But then, out of nowhere, it was Bubba, Bubba, Bubba.

What is all the fuss?  Apart from the usual Cinderella Story associated with golf and Bill Murray routines, it appears he's quite the man of faith.  Uh oh.  Another Tim Tebow in the making?  We'll have to see.  Right now, the MSM seems only mildly amused by him, and is keeping his faith at arm's length.  Terry Mattingly at Get Religion breaks it down

I'll watch and sees how this plays out.  I can't imagine it hitting any level that Tebowmania hit last year. But I have noticed a growing trend among athletes at least coming forth and wearing their faith on their sleeves.  At least the MSM is now treating it like it's a story worth reporting.  What it all means, we'll have to watch and see.  Right now, congrats Mr. Bubba.  Well done.

Anti-Christian CNN gives Faith the finger for Easter

In the MSM's annual 'screw Christianity' Holy Day instalment, CNN's belief blog offers a heated debate between those who deny the divinity of Christ and those who deny everything about the Christian Faith.  That's fair and balanced.  I noticed that, for a while, the MSM was forced, by way of the surging FOX News, to have a balanced representation in its panel discussions.  But as FOX has become relegated to the domain of partisan hackwork (some of which is deserved), the MSM has begun to pull back to the glory days when a fair and balanced panel meant three liberals, a leftist, and a moderate.  Its internet versions have, naturally, followed the same path.

So we have this debate, where near atheist agnostic Bart Erhman has to come out and actually defend the historicity of Jesus.  That's right, he who has made a living writing books telling the world how unreliable the New Testament is suddenly becomes the voice of reason as he explains that only kooks and nutcases in line with flat earthers and people who deny the moon landings would ever suggest there was no such person as Jesus in some form or another.

That's right.  The radical defender of Orthodoxy in CNN's Easter installment is a man who makes it his mission to turn as many away from belief in God as possible.  It goes down from there.  Again, I ask you.  Is there anyone left in the world who ever utters the phrase 'it must be true, I read it in the newspaper' without a massive dose of sarcasm behind the words?  I can't imagine it.  It's also worth noting that CNN, like so much of the post-Western progressive movement, hates, and I mean H.A.T.E.S. the traditional Christian faith with the white-hot fury of a thousand suns.  This simply should be one more small piece of evidence to demonstrate its contempt for the Faith that so many millions hold dear.

Santorum concedes to the Media's pick for GOP nominee

Read about it here.  I don't blame him.  Now that his daughter is thankfully home from the hospital, he has other things to tend to apart from running a hopeless campaign.  This is the year Romney goes against Obama.  It was ordained by the media, and in no small way helped by Romney's millions, quite some time ago.  Why did the MSM want Romney?  Don't know.  Can't even guess.  It was clear, however, that the overall narrative was 'Romney, Romney, Romney.'  Now they have their man.  And now we find out everything there is to find out bad about Romney.  Look for tweezers, microscopes, and scalpels to be used in the upcoming weeks and months.  If Romney cheated on a test in the second grade, we'll have endless debates about how this could skewer his chance to win in November. Obama, of course, will get by with such hard hitting stories as these

A rendezvous with destiny

It was a hundred years ago today that the most famous ocean voyage in history began.  The Titanic, the unsinkable ship, and over 1500 of its passengers and crew, had merely four days left to live.  As a historical event, Titanic proves that truth is stranger than fiction.  If it were fiction, if it were made for a Hollywood screenplay, I doubt it would be hard to find folks willing to scoff at the melodrama and the over-the-top irony.  And yet, it happened.  It was the icon of the age of optimism;  Captain Smith, the ill fated Ismay, the band playing on (most accounts saying they played Nearer My God To Thee), Thomas Andrews standing stoically by the mantle clock, the wealth of the world, the heroism, the poor and forgotten, women and children first, why the list goes on and on.  And it really happened.  Those were real people.  If anything good came of Cameron's Oscar victory for his somewhat wide and shallow take on the disaster, it was that he did take a moment at the Oscar ceremony to remember that this really happened.

I sometimes wonder if that's what made the 1997 movie such a hit.  I admit, I didn't hate it, as hating on the Titanic became the thing to do. It was good in parts, and many actors did a fine enough job with the material at hand.  But as Avatar demonstrated, Cameron is a great director when it comes to technical matters, but rather a mile wide and an inch deep when it comes to characters, cliches, and story lines.  But apart from DiCaprio's appeal to the young girl crowd, I wonder if part of the attraction was seeing actual real life drama from a real event in a time when society and culture had become, in their own way, isolated and insulated from just what history can do to a people.

Of course, one major theme of the Titanic disaster was missing from the movie, as it has been from all the coverage.  Perhaps not unintentionally.  The Titanic was, in many ways, the apex of the Age of Optimism.  Armed with science, technology, and industry, the West had broken down barriers with invention and discovery to bring humanity to a place not dreamed about even as recently as the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  There simply wasn't anything we couldn't do.  Religion still had a place, a cultural place.  An emotional place.  A traditional place.  But it was in science, invention, industry and technology in which we placed our trust.  Ideals, philosophies, and political movements that mirrored this optimism did quite well. 

This optimism would begin to unravel as the Titanic slipped into the depths of the Atlantic on that April night.  It was finally obliterated at the end of 1918, when industry and political machinations left millions dead and rotting on the battlefields of Europe and beyond.  Still, today, we have regained some of that blind optimism, haven't we?  Science, technology, medical research - these are the things in which we place our trust today.  We scoff at those who looked at the mighty hull of Titanic and imagined that humanity had finally overcome nature.  But are we any better? 

Some years ago, while I was ministering in Southern Indiana, I was watching NBC Today while getting ready for work.  This is back when Katie Couric was still on.  The talk of the day was genetics, human cloning,  and the controversy over allowing scientists carte blanche vs. standing in the way of scientific discovery.  Ms. Couric was interviewing a medical ethicist, whose name I can no longer remember.  He was definitely of the mindset that the shackles must come off, and science must be given free reign.  I had also watched several shows on PBS and the networks (we didn't have cable) suggesting the same thing.  One was a two hour special produced by a host of scientific organizations and played on PBS reminding us that we didn't want to be like all those religious types who let superstitions and religious fanaticism get in the way of good old scientific discovery.

Anyway, the fellow being interviewed was asked what good he thought could come if the governments of the world simply stood aside and let science discover what science could discover about genetics.  Would such a blank check counter any potential harm from something such as human cloning?  Not to worry, he assured Katie.  If science is allowed to pursue discovery without the hindrances of regulations and bans, in fifty years we will have eliminated disease as we know it.  That morning I chuckled to myself.  I told my wife that we could take that little boast and put it on the shelf next to that famous line 'this ship will never sink.' 

As we remember those lost on that most infamous of nights, and reflect on all the information we know, the stories, the tales, the myths, the legends; it might be nice if we learn the bigger lesson that so many learned the hard way almost a hundred years ago.  It would be nice if we used it to learn so that we don't have to wait for the inevitable hard lessons of our own arrogance today.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Looks like Greece might be in trouble

Because inflation is going down.  Why is this bad?  I don't know, I'm not an economist.  But according to this story, inflation going up can be a good thing, as all economic indicators are in the age of Obama.  So if inflation is good, and inflation in Greece is going down, I have to assume that means some bad news for Greece.  Of course it could be that this is always true, that there could be good and bad in a variety of economic circumstances, and it is only reported according to the desires and agendas of the journalist in question, but that seems pretty far fetched.  It would almost suggest one should approach news stories with a certain level of skepticism. 

Happy Easter!

For us Catholics, the celebration of God's victory over evil continues!  Praise be to God we need no longer fear

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!


As we read the words of the Holy Father this Easter Sunday, may God's blessings find everyone joyful in the hope of our Salvation:

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Easter is the feast of the new creation. Jesus is risen and dies no more. He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death. He has taken mankind up into God himself. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, as Saint Paul says in the First Letter to the Corinthians (15:50). On the subject of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection, the Church writer Tertullian in the third century was bold enough to write: “Rest assured, flesh and blood, through Christ you have gained your place in heaven and in the Kingdom of God” (CCL II, 994). A new dimension has opened up for mankind. Creation has become greater and broader. Easter Day ushers in a new creation, but that is precisely why the Church starts the liturgy on this day with the old creation, so that we can learn to understand the new one aright. At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word on Easter night, then, comes the account of the creation of the world. Two things are particularly important here in connection with this liturgy. On the one hand, creation is presented as a whole that includes the phenomenon of time. The seven days are an image of completeness, unfolding in time. They are ordered towards the seventh day, the day of the freedom of all creatures for God and for one another. Creation is therefore directed towards the coming together of God and his creatures; it exists so as to open up a space for the response to God’s great glory, an encounter between love and freedom. On the other hand, what the Church hears on Easter night is above all the first element of the creation account: “God said, ‘let there be light!’” (Gen 1:3). The creation account begins symbolically with the creation of light. The sun and the moon are created only on the fourth day. The creation account calls them lights, set by God in the firmament of heaven. In this way he deliberately takes away the divine character that the great religions had assigned to them. No, they are not gods. They are shining bodies created by the one God. But they are preceded by the light through which God’s glory is reflected in the essence of the created being.

What is the creation account saying here? Light makes life possible. It makes encounter possible. It makes communication possible. It makes knowledge, access to reality and to truth, possible. And insofar as it makes knowledge possible, it makes freedom and progress possible. Evil hides. Light, then, is also an expression of the good that both is and creates brightness. It is daylight, which makes it possible for us to act. To say that God created light means that God created the world as a space for knowledge and truth, as a space for encounter and freedom, as a space for good and for love. Matter is fundamentally good, being itself is good. And evil does not come from God-made being, rather, it comes into existence only through denial. It is a “no”.

At Easter, on the morning of the first day of the week, God said once again: “Let there be light”. The night on the Mount of Olives, the solar eclipse of Jesus’ passion and death, the night of the grave had all passed. Now it is the first day once again – creation is beginning anew. “Let there be light”, says God, “and there was light”: Jesus rises from the grave. Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God’s pure light. But this applies not only to him, not only to the darkness of those days. With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God’s new day, new for all of us.

But how is this to come about? How does all this affect us so that instead of remaining word it becomes a reality that draws us in? Through the sacrament of baptism and the profession of faith, the Lord has built a bridge across to us, through which the new day reaches us. The Lord says to the newly-baptized: Fiat lux – let there be light. God’s new day – the day of indestructible life, comes also to us. Christ takes you by the hand. From now on you are held by him and walk with him into the light, into real life. For this reason the early Church called baptism photismos – illumination.

Dear friends, as I conclude, I would like to add one more thought about light and illumination. On Easter night, the night of the new creation, the Church presents the mystery of light using a unique and very humble symbol: the Paschal candle. This is a light that lives from sacrifice. The candle shines inasmuch as it is burnt up. It gives light, inasmuch as it gives itself. Thus the Church presents most beautifully the paschal mystery of Christ, who gives himself and so bestows the great light. Secondly, we should remember that the light of the candle is a fire. Fire is the power that shapes the world, the force of transformation. And fire gives warmth. Here too the mystery of Christ is made newly visible. Christ, the light, is fire, flame, burning up evil and so reshaping both the world and ourselves. “Whoever is close to me is close to the fire,” as Jesus is reported by Origen to have said. And this fire is both heat and light: not a cold light, but one through which God’s warmth and goodness reach down to us.

The great hymn of the Exsultet, which the deacon sings at the beginning of the Easter liturgy, points us quite gently towards a further aspect. It reminds us that this object, the candle, has its origin in the work of bees. So the whole of creation plays its part. In the candle, creation becomes a bearer of light. But in the mind of the Fathers, the candle also in some sense contains a silent reference to the Church,. The cooperation of the living community of believers in the Church in some way resembles the activity of bees. It builds up the community of light. So the candle serves as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d’ĂȘtre is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world.

Let us pray to the Lord at this time that he may grant us to experience the joy of his light; let us pray that we ourselves may become bearers of his light, and that through the Church, Christ’s radiant face may enter our world (cf. LG 1). Amen."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

He is Risen!


Behold, the foundation of our faith! Happy Easter to all, and I'll be back next week for some major catch-up. 

RIP Thomas Kinkaid

We've been on vacation, and now turn our attentions to picking up the rest of the Passion Week, that is Easter.  Normally we don't travel on spring break because we prefer to remain nearby to take part in the various celebrations and reflections leading up to Easter.  But getting my wife to see her Dad, who has gone trough some pretty tough health problems this last year, was high on our list of priorities.  We also managed to add some visits along the way to make up for the last few years in which we were unable to take any trips at all. More on that later.

But as we get ready for Easter Vigil tonight, I was saddened to see that popular painter Thomas Kinkaid has died.  I know, I know.  His paintings were a lightening rod for criticism from the 'Art Establishment.'  Truth be told, I was always 'meh' when it came to his works, but I appreciated the happiness they brought to people.  For those who criticized his works for being some faux happy illusion, well I just say in this life a little happiness goes a long way.  Nothing he did was against the Faith, and if he brought some happiness in the meantime, more power to him.  Better that than the crowd of cranks who enjoy sitting in the bleachers of life, making their primary contribution to humanity by doing nothing other than pointing out how nobody does nothing better than they do. 

Anyway, peace and prayers to his family and loved ones.  Thanks for the happiness he brought to so many. May God's grace and love embrace them during this time, and may the perpetual light shine upon him.