Sunday, September 30, 2012

Trick or treat for Halloween

With this being the last day of September, and a full moon shining over the lands, we felt it was appropriate to launch into the beginning of the Holiday Season.  That, to the Griffeys, encompasses everything from Halloween season until the end of New Year's day, or now that we're Catholic, the 12th day of Christmas.  Some argue that it really lasts until Easter.  But certainly, this is the time when our family comes alive, and begins to get some of that excitement that comes with all of the holidays and festivities that will be thrown our way over the next months.

At first we didn't dive in until well into October.  But with the conflicting and competing schedules due to our boys being involved in multiple activities, we started moving the date to the first of the month.  Likewise, we actually start with 'autumnal activities' as early as September   Still, we reserve particular traditions that my wife and I began when we were first married, and carried on as we added to the numbers of our family.

The order may vary, the things we choose to do or not based on a variety of things such as weather and money, but there are certain things we always, and I mean always, do.  First off is the kick-off special, typically reserved for the first of October, but again this year ending the month of September.  That is a special showing of an old Walt Disney VCR special called Halloween Haunts.  It featured three old shorts from the long ago days of Disney cartoons in theaters, preceded by a rousing video rendition of Grim Grinning Ghosts.  The first episode is Pluto's Judgement Day, a rather morbid reminder of the power that traditional religious ideals held on the population, as Mickey's dog Pluto dreams of being cast into Hell itself, due to his sadistic desire to torture kittens   After a mock trial by a host of felines  Pluto is condemned to the flames, until a real ember from the fireplace wakes him and makes him see the light of cat-love.

The next cartoon is Lonesome Ghosts, the cartoon that no doubt gave Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis food for thought, as a trio of underemployed ghost hunters are called to an abandoned mansion to purge the location of its spectral inhabitants   Of course the ones who called them were the ghosts themselves, but the joke is on them as the intrepid ghost hunters, who aren't scared of no ghosts, turn the tables on their hosts.  Finally comes Trick of Treat, the post-war celebration of the whole Trick or Treat fad that was exploding on the back of America's new found commercial prosperity.  Trick or Treat had always been around, but now with America's abundant wealth, it took on a new level of commercial emphases, and Disney, never one to miss the latest, spun this yarn of Donald's tricks and traps to cash in on the phenomenon 

Finally, with time to spare and a youngster wanting more, we decided to pull out another Halloween tradition: Disney's Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  More faithful to the atmosphere and basic plot of Irving's short story than Burton's usual cynical and anti-everything take with Johnny Depp, Disney allows Bing Crosby to walk us through the story of Ichabod Crane, and his appointment with destiny at the business end of the Headless Horseman's blade.  Though not emphasized in the book, Disney adds plenty of Halloween trapping to give it an extra umph, with one of the absolute coolest songs in cartoon history, courtesy of Brom Bones.

So that was it.  Some homemade pizza (cheaper than store bought) and some decorating of the home, along with a little garden harvesting, and we had the definite feel of holidays a'coming.  As my oldest said, when we hear the theme to Trick or Treat, you just know the months and months of holidays that we have waited for have finally begun.



And with that, let the holidays begin!

Looks like J.K.Rowling has a new book

And it probably will be the stuff of many debates and discussions.  Rowling is the first fruits of the global internet age, author of a book series of unprecedented success, and the matriarch of later works such as the Twilight Series of The Hunger Games.  In short, books where even fans begin by admitting they aren't the greatest followed by gushing praise and adoration and the bearing of teeth toward anyone who dares question her greatness, are going to have a legacy for better or worse.  On this thread on Good Reads, we have a string of reviews with the usual warfare common on any internet subject.  My favorite?  The fellow who concludes the book was not readable, but rather than dare to criticize his idol Rowling, concludes he is the problem; he's just not right for the book.  
In other words, I am the reason that I cannot (and probably should not) try to read this book. I am not the right reader for this book. 
You have to love it.  I've often considered that it's not so much the genre of fantasy and science fiction that I don't care for, it's the fan base of those genres that have always seemed a bit, well, you know.

A brief response on Mark Shea's blog

There were new posts yesterday, which is unusual.  Catholic and Enjoying It is typically dormant over weekends.  Because of that, I missed a little blog post about the state of things politically in our nation, and where and how voting might be better used.  Now it's no secret to those who frequent CAEI that the blog has become far more political in recent years, and that the sympathies tend to go toward third party candidates, particularly Ron Paul, and against the two major political parties.  This post was no different.  Since I doubt anyone will read my response there, and since my readership spiked to record levels this month (still light on comments, please feel free and joining as followers, too!), I thought I would copy and paste my response.  It's long for a combox, but probably too brief for other forms, but I didn't feel like retyping it, since it gets the gist of my thoughts on the political scene, at least in abridged form. 

Didn’t realize new posts came on the weekends. Here are my quick thoughts. First, voting your conscience can come in a variety of ways. There is no obvious way that real Catholics who really love Jesus will vote. 
Second, we should ask if our system is so corrupt as to be beyond hope or not. If so, then trying an alternative would certainly be justified, if not recommended. But is it really beyond hope as it is? The two parties I mean. Are they beyond hope? Is the corruption that much of a forgone conclusion, or is there something folks could do within the system – realizing that no real alternative is without the same problems as the dreaded two party system. 
Third, the deplorable candidacy of Romney. Why does the GOP get such crappy nominations? I don’t know. It’s easy to say because the big money folks want it that way. But really, could it be more? Maybe the good folks don’t want to try, or wouldn’t make it anyway. Let’s be honest, if you are a GOP candidate, you’re going to get reamed up the tailpipe by the media. The country is in trouble we say? You’d never know it watching or reading most national media sources. A few bumps in the road, but we owe our salvation to Obama. Meanwhile if Romney (or any GOP candidate) so much as burps, they’re running three weeks of exploratory investigations and specials. 
Think of Ron Paul – since I know there are many Paul fans here. Think of what the media did to him. Typically they either ignore him, or they love the guy since he’s a Republican who spends much of his time trashing Republicans. Like McCain before him, many seem quite fond of him for this. But going into Iowa, for a brief moment, it looked as though Paul might, just might, get the Caucuses. And what happened then? Suddenly some obscure newsletter from decades before became the focus as Paul had to dodge question after question, suggesting his ties to the Nazis, his Antisemitism, does he have idols of Hitler, and so on. It pissed him off, and rightly so. But it also snagged and snarled his campaign when they could have moved forward. When he fell behind, where did those stories go? 
So that’s what any GOP candidate must endure – the gauntlet. Add to that the ‘thing that used to be conservatism’s” tendency for the circular firing squad. I’ve never cared for that label personally. Since I was old enough to pay attention, this was the thing always known as conservatism. By the time I was old enough, conservatism was defined in our culture as Frank Burns, Archie Bunker, Alex Keaton, the Duke Brothers – those were conservatives: ready to nuke babies for the American way and screw the poor for Wall Street. 
I also noticed that there were some conservatives who lived up to those stereotypes. There were others who didn’t. But there was an uneasy alliance. Maybe it was just me, but most I knew who voted GOP in the 90s didn’t think ‘wow, these guys care so much for Christian/religious/pro-life issues.’ They knew there were plenty who didn’t. Many who opposed such things. But there was an uneasy alliance because they saw this global revolution alternately named liberal, or progressive, or the Left as a greater threat. Whatever happened during the 00s to break the alliance, I don’t know. But the idea that suddenly the conservative movement changed? I don’t think so. Not because of this or that or Protestant mega-churches. I have a feeling it was growing hostility by those who paint the national narrative, with a few changes for the worst (the most notable being some conservatives officially willing to utilize torture) causing many to bail. 
So those are my thoughts as I get ready for some coffee. By now I doubt anyone will come back until tomorrow, but it got things off my chest.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sporting updates at September's end

So the Griffey boys had hit a funk.  From MVP and Varsity qualifiers, to sudden drops all around.  My Cross Country runners had descended into a string of sub-par performances and our resident football player had gone from MVP to second string after two lackluster performances.  Well, it looks like the last week of September turned things around.

Our oldest finally came back in one of the worst environments for a cross country run - after hours of torrential downpours forced the course to be redesigned due to standing water.  Next up, after two sub-par football performances, our 7th grader came back in the second half to at least point to what made him MVP early in the season.  And finally our 8th grader broke a string of disappointments that began in our only home middle school meet, when sickness and allergies caused a massive drop and almost inability to finish (despite this, he kicked it in during the last sprint to keep a runner from the other school from passing him).  Though not to his best, it was at least in the right direction, passing several teammates who had seized the moment to pass him the previous meets.   This was capped off by our oldest today, finally getting by and getting closer than ever to qualifying for varsity.  So well done boys.  Even when things get down, you can always pick back up.  No matter how low they go, there is always that chance to turn things around.

A week ago, and the standing water tells the tale, except it was his best time in over a year

After the race, several decided to go swimming in the puddles - my boy was not one of them

Not the right meet, but it does well showing his determination at the Thursday  invitational 

The circle shows our 7th grader, ready to make one awesome block that will set up a great gain

Team defying the ACLU secular mandate, and going far to motivate my son to chop off more time from his record

Happy Michaelmas



It's September 29, a date which for many ages in the Old Countries meant almost as much as Labor Day or Memorial Day does to most Americans.  It was a seasonal date, a time that signaled ends and beginnings.  There was a time when this was the beginning of autumn, and if I'm correct, English schools would set their calendars around this period.

Michael is, of course, one of the archangels.  It is Michael who is credited with defeating Lucifer.  For much of the Middle Ages, this day was a holy day of obligation, though the practice fell off in modern times, and in America at least, it is no longer such a day.  I'm not sure if it is even mentioned.  A shame, since it does help us remember that despite the media and the scientific explanation for everything, ours is still ultimately a struggle with the principalities and powers and rulers of this present darkness.  The demonic that is.  Sometimes I think that Bultmann was correct, that in our age of iPads and electric coffee makers, we have a hard time seeing beyond the wiring and the plumbing, the DNA and the molecules.

Still, it's a time that beckons us to think of the supernatural, the cosmic struggles, the powers of Good and the powers of Hell.  It brings to mind that we are near to that witching month, that month associated with decay and death, of hell and terror.  Though it begins with a bang, celebrating that saint of saints Francis of Assisi, it ends on the night of All Hallows, and turns out thoughts to the world beyond this one, beyond the reach of mere physics and chemistry and biological theories.

So get out the blackberry crumble (an old custom said blackberries were not to be picked before the old date of Michaelmas), make some apple dolls, and cook the roast goose (a gamy bird, we tried it once - we loved it better than it loved us), and say that old, traditional prayer that Catholic invoked for ages against the powers of darkness:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who wander throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Remembering PBS "Star Hustler" Jack Horkheimer

The internet is good for nostalgia, if it's not good for much else.  So we caught a brief stargazer segment on PBS tonight, and it made me wonder, whatever happened to that fellow I remember all those years ago on WOSU-TV, out of Ohio State University's PBS broadcasting?  The one who, during the summers when I could stay up late, watching old reruns of Benny Hill, or Man About the House (the show that inspired the 70s American show Three's Company), or Monty Python's Flying Circus, wrapped up the day's lineup?  When the shows were off, there was one thing left before our nation's anthem signaled the end of broadcasting, and it was this little gem:



He always reminded me of Christopher Hewitt from Mr. Belvedere.  He had such an enthusiasm for the subject, I couldn't help but develop an curiosity for the heavens.  I eventually purchased a telescope, though times being what they've been, I have not been able to upgrade as I had hoped.  Still, I credit my interest in astronomy, if even on an amateur scale, to Mr. Horkheimer.  The spit-and-a-handshake sets and graphics, the eerie pseudo-sci-fi theme music, all left an impression that has never gone away.  I was sad to see he passed away only a couple years ago.  But it's the way of all things in the universe, which is why I sometimes think time is not a creation as much as it's simply our way of grasping with the morality of all material.  Nonetheless, some good memories that bring back thoughts of hot summer nights, open windows and fans, and falling asleep on the couch shortly after the TV went to static.

Don't tell me a Chicago Alderman lied

Because if this story is correct, Chick-fil-A may not have surrendered to the leftist juggernaut of censorship and oppression as quickly as Joe Moreno indicated.  It's obvious that CEO Dan Cathy has been forced to reevaluate how he expresses his non-liberal views, and reevaluate what non-liberal organizations he chooses to support.  This is just part of 21st century American living.  If you aren't liberal, you had better watch your butt.  Still, the stories that Cathy and Chick-fil-A were severing all ties with groups that blaspheme the gospel of non-heterosexual normality, all of which seemed to originate with one of the Chicago Aldermen who was proud of his brutal Orwellian inspired tactics, may have been overplayed.  If so, I'll see.  I still have hope that you can openly be non-leftist in our country, and if Cathy is keeping the faith, that shows there's still hope for other non-leftists in America.

Rest in Peace Andy Williams


One of my all time favorite Christmas Albums was by Williams
The great pop singer Andy Williams has died.  One of those rare folks who seemed to have led a good life despite the celebrity.  He was of the Rat Pack era but without the drinking, smoking, cussing and broads.  He was a family man.  During his Christmas Specials, my parents - not Catholic - waited for him to do his rendition of Ave Maria.  Personally, I always liked his take on The First Noel and O Holy Night.  I also enjoyed other songs of his, and was always partial to his version of Speak Softly (theme to The Godfather).  He will be missed.

In some ways, he already was.  His brand of entertainment, where we could enjoy a family special without the sex, drugs and bathroom humor, went the way of the butter churn ages ago.  Yet when you watch those specials, and realize that yes, it was just Hollywood after all, you still realize that there was something about 'the family special' that made producers aim toward that audience.  Somewhere in America, family was still that important.  Today, watch the specials.  You'll see what's important now.  Goodbye Mr. Williams, you and your era, for all its flaws, will be missed for all its best qualities.  Qualities that you seemed to possess in plenty.




Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly



Are going head to head!  And I'm supposed to care why?  Actually I do care.  I care that we live in an age when those who made their billions in America are giving a big middle finger to America and leaving it, and wondering if there is a valid point.  And I care that as such things are happening, Americans turn to a media blowhard and an agenda driven comedic yap-dog for guidance.  One has a 'comedy' show, willing to manipulate and edit reality to discredit those who stand in the way of the greatest threat to religious liberty in 200 years.  The other is an obnoxious and ill-informed blowhard who spouts forth on subjects with less knowledge than I have about nuclear physics.  So why this is even happening, much less news, much less that big event of the season, is beyond me.   Unless it is yet one more sad sign of the times.

The inscrutable lure of autumn


I've posted many times before that I love the Fall.  Don't know why.  I've thought  it could be connected to all those years of going back to school, or the colors, or the fun of the holidays that begin once autumn arrives.  Perhaps.  But over at a website called Grognardia, James Maliszewski reflects on another dimension of fall: The decay.  Now the website itself is one dedicated to the hobby of role-playing games.  That's probably most famously manifested in the game Dungeons and Dragons, though the website seems to focus on other things as well.

Nonetheless, he had a wonderful little piece here, in which he reflects on the 'fantasyness' of fall, and why so many things that are fantasy invariably have a 'fall feel.'  Perhaps there is some truth to that.  I always find myself more inclined to read The Lord of the Rings or Beowulf, or watch an old run of Excalibur or Dragonslayer or The Adventures of Robin Hood during the fall season.  Never really thought about it much.  When I did, I assumed it was because those older, Colonial or pre-Colonial periods were likely covered in school in the early months of the school year, when the leaves were red and orange and the cornstalks still dotted the fields.  When we learned of pre-industrial humanity, or studied Beowulf, or reflected on the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation, we did so alongside the latest football news.

But there could be another reason, with which Mr. Maliszewski picks up and runs.   It could be that there is a sense of decay.  A sense of that long defeat. A sense that time is passing, like grains of an hourglass and all.   That at the end of the day, we get older.  Nations get older.  Civilizations get older.  Fantasy abounds in all manner of ruin and decay.  Take the archetype role-playing game, "Dungeons" and Dragons.  Dungeons.  Not in the sense of a prison, but in a generic sense, a ruin.  Something that hearkens to a time before, when things were better, or at least different.

Autumnal travels from the Brothers Hildebrandts' 1976 Tolkien Calendar
We can't help but feel a sense of foreboding.  The leaves fall, the crops wither, the grass browns.  What was once vibrant and alive is now in its decline.  Perhaps it's that, too, that makes Fall an interesting season, different than the others.  Spring is rebirth, Summer the pinnacle of life and growth, and even Winter is subdued, and dead, quiet and still.  But fall is that last gasp, when in one big burst of color, we get that vibrancy that sometimes comes right before death.  And something in us, something pre-industrial connected with the land passed down from our ancestors, kicks in.  And it's  that appreciation that makes a connection with Fall, and maybe why we, or at least I, turn toward other things that speak of decay, ancient cultures long gone, and ruin.

Who knows.  Like Mr. Maliszewski in his piece, I'm more or less rambling out loud.  But when I was looking for things of fall and found the article, it made me wonder.  It especially made me surprised that, when it comes to the sudden desire to reflect on olden times and ancient rhymes, I'm not the only one who gets a dose of inspriation when the frost starts covering the pumpkins.  

The frost was on the pumpkins



Since it's officially that season of all seasons, and since we had our first freeze Monday night, I thought this little peace by that 'sly old bramble of a man' might be apropos:

When the Frost is on the Pumpkin

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then's the times a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bare-headed, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here 
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pitcur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries --kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below -- the clover overhead! 
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!

Then your apples all is getherd, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin' 's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage, too! 
I don't know how to tell it -- but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me 
I'd want to 'commondate 'em -- all the whole-indurin' flock -- 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The absence of evidence proves everything

It is a common meme in our modern age that history is written by the winners. That is, the paper trail of evidence we have is there because those who won the battles and controlled the empires made it say what it said for their purposes.  Of course this is a little broad, as we sometimes have alternate versions of history from sources clearly outside the dominate viewpoint.  Nonetheless, it's a popular narrative, and it is the milk and honey of modern scholarship, especially the very agenda driven scholarship today that does not seek to follow the evidence, but seeks to make sure the evidence conforms to what we already know should be true.

The ease with which this narrative allows us to rewrite anything from the past is almost breathtaking. After all, we reason, if the history was written by the winners, that suggests strongly that the history cannot be trusted. And in our era of rebels without a cause, we're going to assume anyone fighting the machine was the good guys who were right.  This is especially true if the ones fighting the machine were advancing something I support.  So from here it takes modern scholars no time at all to say that clearly historical narrative X is false, and rather Z is true, even if we have no evidence for Z, because X was only written to oppress the masses.  X clearly is false.

Now, thinking people who were smart enough to avoid college will step back at this point and say, "Wait a minute.  Maybe X is false.  But how do you know Z is true?  Just because X is false doesn't mean Z is true.  Heck, just because X was written by the winners doesn't necessarily mean X is false.  And again, even if it is, you can't say Z is true unless you have evidence, can you?"

Well, our intrepid observer sans college degree is correct.  First off, just because history was written by 'the winners' does not, in itself, mean that the history written was false.  It may have been slanted, focused on certain things, but maybe not entirely false.  Or heck, it might have been true. Should we assume that just because our society venerates Martin Luther King, Jr., and celebrates the Civil Rights era, that I should dismiss anything it says?  After all, Civil Rights is celebrated by all the vendors of public information, and if the narrative is correct, doesn't that mean we might only be getting select versions of MLK and the Civil Rights era?  Should we dismiss that?  Hmmm?

So just because something is the narrative of the established culture or society or political power or whatever, doesn't  mean it's necissarily wrong.  But even if it is, even if we find out that the 'official story' was warped and twisetd and a string of lies, then what?  Especially if we follow with the popular examples of the powerful destroying and wiping out evidence of any competing ideas.  I mean, we just can't say something is true unless there is evidence.  Why, there could be missing evidence that suggests neither official paper trail X, or alternate theory based on my own views Z are true.  Correct?

All this is to say, the recent media storm about the fragment of papyrus that maybe could possibly suggest there might be a chance that Jesus was married goes to show one thing: don't trust the media to learn about scholarship.  But it also shows something else.  In a piece for the New York Times, the always reliable Ross Douthat breaks down why this was much ado about nothing.  Fine.  It's a great read.

When you are done with his sensible, and quite honestly correct, take on the story, read the comments.  Look at how often people invoke the 'Constantine and Rome and the Catholic Church won, they got to write the story their way, the other real story was never known.'  Look at the assumption in some of those arguments that because the Church emerged as the official version, it is necessarily wrong.  Look at those who assume there is really some other actual version of the Real Jesus, even if there is no other evidence to suggest another real Jesus.  Look at the intellectual laziness that has come to define the internet age, where people are commenting simply based on fad scholarship, with no real evidence or clue that evidence is needed.

It's an eye opener.  For the record, the only thing we know is that the earliest and most reliable documents we have about Jesus comes from the books gathered into the New Testament.  As of now, those are it.  Of course they could be lies.  They could be wrong. They could be made up fantasies.  But right now, unless you want to dismiss them outright and leave it at that (and by extension, dismiss two thirds of what we think we know about the ancient world which as far less evidence to support it), you can say nothing else.  There is simply no evidence for these hippy, secular, post-sixties cultural revolution models of Jesus.  They might be funny things to listen to, but there is not a scrap of evidence to support them.  Therefore, our good non-college graduate might be inclined to say "I'm staying with the paper trail we have unless I see another paper trail that clearly suggests the original paper trail was wrong.  I'm sure as heck not going to believe a theory that has no other evidence except to say the winners wrote the history, so the official story must be wrong."  And our faithful observer would be wise indeed to approach this, and most of what you hear regarding such theories, with the same cautioned skepticism.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Politics in a nutshell

Why Americans feel the way they feel about Politics.  It's hilarious and made me laugh.  But it's oh, so true.

When Catholics hate America

For the record, I don't know who Hezekiah Garrett is.  It may just be a name picked to use in internet discussions.  It could be a real name.  But whoever it is, the individual, who claims to be of American Indian heritage, hates, and I mean hates, the United States, especially the white, European, Protestant brand.  He pops up once in a while on Mark Shea's blog.  I've seen Mark scold him a couple times when he/she has gone over the top, though to date, Mark hasn't banned him or her.  Which is odd, since folks have  been kicked off Mark's blog for saying things far less bigoted or hateful. I've often wondered about that.

It was Garrett who featured prominently in my post some time ago about Catholics who embrace murder, evil, and all manner of vile sins that cry out to God for vengeance, particularly when such sin is aimed at America.  As I've mentioned, in the worldwide global Catholic Church, there are those out there who hate, and I mean hate, the United States.  There are many who certainly don't bear any real love for our country, and are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to any who hate, and even kill, "our ilk".

No real moral to a story or anything.  Just an observation.  Hatred is wrong.  Hating people and excusing their slaughter, or dismissing the seriousness of said people being killed because of deeply help prejudice and bigotry is wrong.  That even applies to those Catholics who hold deep and abiding hatred for the United States and its people, whether living in the US or abroad.  A reflection from a post that brought untold debate and loathing of the US over the profound debate as to whether or not Jon Stewart is a comedian, or a comedian with an agenda.

CNN's Randi Kaye gives Lawrence Krauss a blank check

And helps him fill in the amount.  So Lawrence Krauss is part of the new dispensation of atheists, preferring the term anti-theist.  That is, realizing that you can't prove a negative, and that science has been a poor tool in proving there is no God, it's time to change the terms.  Which is what he did in this interview.  The question has always been simple: why is there something instead of nothing?

Well Dr. Krauss and company have an answer: the universe could come from nothing, all it needs is the laws of nature!  Anyone who made it past kindergarten will, of course, see the flaw in that one.  Where did the laws of nature come from?  Don't they constitute something?  Dr. Krauss seems to use the phrase "laws of nature" in the same manner that religious folks speak of God.  Dr. Kruass explains that empty space is a bubbling cauldron of particles just waiting to do something. How do you define nothing as having something like particles?  Later, Dr. Krauss explains that we can remove particles from empty space and it still has weight.  Is this the empty space he means when the he says the universe can come from no things, or is it the later empty space devoid of particles?  If so, does empty space automatically have particles and they have to be removed?  If so, who did the removing?

Dr. Krauss then makes a jab at religious people saying that most don't believe silly things like a man being eaten by a whale or a priest turning a wafer into Jesus, so they just put those silly things aside because they want to believe.  The questions that could have been asked there are legion, for they are many.  Do you have stats, what constitutes many?  What about the beliefs of other religions?  He said the major religions but only gave examples of Christianity (Catholicism particularly).  What of the others?  Also, Pew Research has found that a significant number or atheists admit to praying, and that some (around 6%) believe in a personal God. Is it possible they find a universe of nothing but matter to be silly, and does that mean anything?  If the fact that religious people don't necessarily believe what they should about religion is supposed to mean something, wouldn't the fact that atheists don't believe what they should about atheism mean something too?

Of course the biggie could have been asked: Dr. Krause, you already seem to believe that the universe is merely material, and that nothing beyond the material exists, so you are confining your examination of all creation to the physical sciences.  Do you have any evidence that this assumption and this practice is correct?  Plus, of course, it could have been asked: Dr. Krause, you say there is no evidence for purpose in the universe, could you define that?  Or, how about this: Dr. Krause, you seem to be saying everything could come from nothing but then talking about things that appear to be something (particles, laws of nature).  Is it possible you are redefining terms like 'nothing' based on a more narrow field of study, the practice of which has no proof for being valid (see question about assuming a material creation above)?  Dr. Krause, is it possible that you are using terms like 'nothing' in ways that apply only to the physics lab, and not to the average person who hasn't already concluded that all creation is only material, and there is nothing else?  Kudos to my wife, who is more scientifically inclined and whose Dad is a chemist, for pointing out that he really was using definitions based solely on mathematical and physical premises, rather than the broader understanding of such terms.  

All of these could have been asked.  But they weren't.  All CNN host Randi Kaye could do was hand him a blank slate with such piercing questions as wouldn't some think that a universe out of nothing is as weird as God creating it?  Or my favorite, so you're saying there is no God?  He's a bleeping atheist.  Duh.  This is why atheism not being the majority viewpoint is so puzzling.  When this is the crack journalism that brings it to the masses, you'd think everyone would believe in atheism.  As it is, perhaps everyone else is more perceptive than Ms. Kaye, and wiser than Dr. Krauss.

Note: I'm no scientist.  But those are the questions I would ask simply as I went down and listened to the different points Dr. Krauss was making.  I'm not saying there are no answers to my questions.  I'm saying at least I would have asked them.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Libyans do something about Americans killed

Which is more than we've done.  But enough of that, let's focus on what Romney said here, or here, or on Romney's latest release of his tax returns. The good news is, because of the crack journalism that kept focus on what's really important with nothing but fair and unbiased analysis, most Americans have rightly concluded that Obama's handling of the crisis was far superior to Romney's.  Well done MSM.  The coup continues.

I thought almost all Catholic Women use birth control

If a rather detailed and meticulous study done by The Ethics and Public Policy Center is close to accurate, then that famous 5% we heard so much about might be a bit low.  I know, even studies that appear this painstakingly done should be taken with a grain of salt.  The center is, of course, not an unbiased organization.

But neither was the MSM that repeated over and over, day after day, the meme that since only 5% of Catholic women follow Church teaching about contraception, that it was supposed to mean something.  For me, of course, the problem was that we shouldn't care.  If the Civil Rights era mentality said anything, it was that rights are not majority based.  It doesn't matter one rip if only a single person is having his or her rights violated. So I was shocked that suddenly it appeared that the supporters of Obama's HHS mandate were appealing to this low number as reason that we shouldn't really care. 

But I was always suspicious of such a number so quickly found, and so easily and consistently tossed about. I know Catholics following Church teaching is a sore spot for the Church.  Unfortunately, a great many Catholics do not, and they're proud of it.  I remember sitting at my one of my son's events, and a woman who goes to our parish was boasting of having had a tubal ligation to avoid more kids. But still, the numbers seemed conveniently low, and I admit they also seemed conveniently convenient for those wishing to support Obama. We'll have to see.  Again, this being the post-modern Internet age, I doubt that facts matter much anyway. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

In a hole in the ground there lived a story

The first paperback version I read
And what a story it was.  75 years ago this very day, a publishing company released a children's book by an English professor named 'The Hobbit.'  It was a cute little thing, based partly on the bedside stories the professor told his children, and interwoven with a fictional myth he was working on and a new bread of characters that he had invented once while monitoring exams - hobbits.  The book was a children's book for a more literate age.  If more people read today, the reading level of those who do, I'm convinced, is much lower than those days.  Maybe fewer people could read, but those who could had a reading ability far beyond ours today.  I say this because I've heard young people who began reading at the feet of J.K. Rowling and her boy wizard who then attempted The Hobbit, come away shocked at its difficulty and depth.

Still, The Hobbit was merely the pregame warm-up for that epic masterpiece that our little British professor named J.R.R. Tolkien would pen as a sequel: The Lord of the Rings.  Though I'm not a fan of fantasy, and I've never really 'loved' The Hobbit, I appreciate it for its role in the overall Middle-Earth corpus.  And it all started today.  Who would have known the love that Tolkien had for myth and legend, nature and languages, would be embraced by so many, and influence so many more.  So here's to you Professor Tolkien, cheers and well met today, the anniversary of the book that started it all.

A day at the fair

Or half a day I should say.  This year I must admit, the fair was more or less 'eh'.  Perhaps it was the horrible growing season we had, with drought and heat combining to devastate so many farms and gardens.  I don't know.  But when we arrived, on the next to last day of the fair, there was nothing there.  There were no animals.  At least half the crafts and various produce were gone.  The kids' petting barn was empty. In fact the barn containing all the local produce given for prizes was dark, its lights out.  Going through the aisles I felt like I was spelunking.

But it wasn't just that.  I would say a good third of the booths that are usually set up were missing.  There were rides that have been there every year that were gone, and even some of the food concession stands were not there this year.   I don't know what happened.  Perhaps it was the year.  Perhaps it's the economy. Who knows.  Maybe it's just one small symptomatic example of a nation on the decline.  I don't know. I just know I paid 30 dollars for far less than I've ever received before.

Nonetheless, we plowed forth, trying to pick up what we could, doing the things we've done before. We ate our food, shared our funnel cakes, rode the merry-go-round together, tried to get our youngest to ride some of the rides geared toward him.  Times being what they are, we had little money to spend. We would have had less, but a kindly gentleman was leaving with his family, and decided to give us his stack of ride tickets.

So we managed to make something out of it.  Altogether, a bit of a disappointment.  Maybe it's a combination of things.  The boys are, after all, getting older.  They went off on their own to find friends and hang out together.  Maybe it's just the passing of time.  But I know this, for 30.00, I'll make sure things are better next year, or we'll just hold off for a local street festival, of which Ohio has plenty.

The Mom and our youngest brave a makeshift Western funhouse

Our 7th Grader, trying his hands at games of skill and luck - he didn't win anything

Still young enough to embrace the fun of olden times

The boys returning from their walkabout sans parents, a sign of time passing

Our youngest decides he does like the merry-go-round after all

Our older three, however, I'm not so sure

The fam, the fair, 2012 - we still had fun and made some memories, and that's what counts

Why Wikipedia should be taken in small doses

So it is known to those who know us that we are a family of holiday junkies.  We love holidays.  We have Irish Feasts on St. Patrick's day, and cookouts on Labor Day and Memorial Day, July 4th isn't even worth debating.  We're even trying to find a custom for Arbor Day. Naturally the biggies get as much attention as our meager bank accounts can manage.  We put special emphasis on doing things, with the subsequent feasting being an integral part.

For some holidays, we extend the seasons depending on just how much fun stuff we can do as a family.  Even though, as Catholics, Advent is to be a time of quiet reflection in preparation for the coming celebrations, we still do plenty of 'Christmas cheer' leading up to it.  First, our society makes it darn near impossible to do otherwise.  Second, with the celebration of St. Nicholas, we can justify traditional festivities that came before the Nativity.

Another such season is Halloween, or All Hallows' Eve.  I know, and I call myself a Christian!  Well, as I've said before, the whole Halloween thing always set my blood to running since as a kid, I knew more than anything it meant Christmas was just around the corner.  Plus, Halloween is just too darn cool.  I don't mean the horror schlock that passes today, with gore and blood and guts and zombies eating human limbs and all.  Nor do I mean the sexed up 'dress your eight year old daughter like a porn star' rubbish that one finds typical in our enlightened age.

I mean the good old ghouls and ghosts and goblin hosts.  The stuff that sends that little shiver down your spine, that people in olden days used to believe, and today perhaps not enough.  It's noteworthy that the Catholic Church says nothing about there being no ghosts or a spirit world one way or another.  That's fine with me.  Call me a skeptic, but I don't put much stock in it.  I do appreciate the feelings people have for it, and find it a healthier pastime than those dedicated to insisting that there is nothing beyond the material.

So since I do appreciate that feeling that the dead might be getting closer to the living at this time, it's easy to sit back and find a ton of things to do.  We always have our annual 'Ghost Walks', where we frequent cemeteries and find old gravestones or mausoleums to remind us that from dust we came, and unto dust we will return.  Cemeteries with old iron fences or twisted and gnarled trees get a bonus point.  We also do lantern walks, with lanterns fashioned at Colonial Williamsburg that we purchased all those ages ago when we actually had, you know, money.

And of course, thanks to the Hollywood obsession with the subject, we watch a truckload of movies and specials.  Because of the hurried schedule our boys have in school, we've had to spread things out and start earlier than we used to.  Used to be we didn't even think 'fall stuff' until October.  But now we begin in September, with the first apple cider and pumpkin donuts.  We start by plopping in the old Universal monster movies: movies featuring Frankenstein and his Bride, the Wolf Man, Dracula, the Mummy, the Invisible Man.  Not all of them each year, but usually the first three in some order.

By October, we begin watching Halloween specials, including the Simpsons' all too cool Tree House of Horror series (at least the first seasons when they were good), the previously mentioned Disney special which kicks it off, and of course no season is complete without the Great Pumpkin.  We also do haunted drives, try to find haunted locales and see various haunted looking houses (Delaware has its fair share).

Since the oldest boys are older, we can get some of the more intense films, though we won't show them productions stocked with sex or sexual imagery or too vulgar or gory.  At this stage, they are able to see a few of them, and one that now graces the annual schedules is 1981's Poltergeist.  We first watched it a couple years ago, but the younger of the older three weren't ready for it, and we spent several nights sharing our bed with them after the watching.  But this year we tried it again.  While the basic spookiness and creepiness (and Craig T. Nelson coolness) was still on display, there was only one renegade child up at night because of it.

Now one of the things the boys love to do, especially after watching a movie for the first time, is rush to the Internet to find out trivia and details.  And now we approach our long awaited point!  So, in keeping with their own tradition, the net was consulted for all manner of Poltergeist trivia.  Naturally, as Google is wont to do, one of the first resources to pop up on the list was the Wikipedia article.  We read through it together.  And then we came to the 'Reception' section.  That is, how was the film received.

And what did it say?  Why, to read the article, it was ever and always celebrated and praised.  It was loved. It was considered a classic.  It was better than Citizen Kane!  OK, it didn't say that.  But why should I worry about things like facts and details when Wikipedia, the number one source for information in the Internet Age, doesn't?  According to the article, it was well received and generally praised by critics.

Allow me to retort.  No it wasn't.  It is now.  And there are some now who dare suggest that this movie has more staying power than the other Spielberg movie released that year called E.T.  Yet when it came out, the response was divided at best, with virtually all the praise being reserved for young Elliot and his extra-terrestrial friend.  I happened to catch Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel all but panning  it, setting it against the oh-so superior E.T.  Everywhere that E.T. triumphed, Poltergeist faltered.  Nothing but low grade rubbish in comparison.  Spielberg should have focused on E.T. and let the horror to someone else.

Of course some critics may have liked it.  But the ones I heard locally, in addition to Siskil and Ebert, generally panned the movie.  As I said, it has certainly gained traction in recent years, and there are those who say it is now far better in the long run than E.T.  Others like them both.  Many look back at it as a turning-point in modern horror movies.  Yes, nowadays, most critics seem to praise Poltergeist.  But it was not always so.

How can the wiki article say otherwise? Easy.  Follow the sources.  Notice that all of the sources from that section are from works many years later.  They are not from the actual critics of the day.  One source was written in 2000 for goodness sake.  So we have a picture painted that simply is not accurate.  No matter how you slice it, having the two biggest movie critics of the age pan your film does not make it well received.

I know.  It's only a movie.  It's only a wiki article about a movie.  And if that's all Wikipedia did, I wouldn't care.  But it isn't.  From physics to history to politics to religion, Wikipedia is the stop off for every subject, and the place to go today for a growing number of people to find out information about the world.  Some people go nowhere else.  To them, citing Wiki is all you need.  And that scares me.

It's not the first time I've seen articles on Wikipedia that suggested bias or incomplete information.  This one just hit home because I have a vivid memory of the reviews of that time.  There are other examples, and therein lies the problem.  I follow the Jesus principle that if you are faithful in little, you'll be faithful in much.  Likewise, if you are reliable in little, you'll be reliable in much.  If Wikipedia is unreliable in a little thing like a Hollywood film, how in the world can I trust it to be reliable about some complex matter like bioethics or historical theology?  How can I go there to find out about George Washington, or learn what happened at Waterloo?

Sorry, but I imagine that there is much I don't know in the universe.  In fact, I'm sure of it.  So I have to have reason to trust something that is telling me about something I don't know.  If, based on the few things I know, I'm able to find errors and bias and inaccuracies, then how in God's green earth am I supposed to trust, when it comes to all those subjects I don't know, that it happens to be spot on?  I can't.  And because I try to resist the "Internet makes us smart" fad, I don't.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

To the haunted cemetery!

According to haunted Ohio lore, there is a small, largely forgotten cemetery just south of Delaware, accessible from the Stratford Ecological Center.  The fellow who wrote a bit about it for some haunted cemetery fan site suggested that strange things happen at this forlorn corner of the county, which abounds in all manner of haunted airs.

Well the family and I, seizing upon a day off due to the annual Little Brown Jug, decided to have a go at finding this little gateway to the netherworld.  We arrived late, alas, and this only gave us an hour to go through quite a bit of winding trails through the woods.  This wasn't aided by the fact that map reading-wise we are a family of amateurs.  So it was almost 20 minutes into our journey before we figured out which way to go (despite the presence of signs pointing the way).  Just when we came to the fork in the trail that led down cemetery trail (maybe it's not so forgotten), we had to turn back as it was getting near closing time.  Oh we'll save the rest for another day, but knowing how way leads to way, at least in our crazy family, who knows when we'll be back!  Hopefully soon, or even in October, that witching month.  We'll see.  We'll see.

The boys listening to our youngest explain which direction we need to go

The woods as they looked in the late afternoon 

The woods as they felt knowing that time was ticking and it was getting late


Meanwhile on the same atheist blog pining to eliminate religious freedom

I see several cheering on Chick fil A's surrender to our Big Politically Correct Brother.  The most enjoyable part?  Those who seem shocked - Shocked! - when people suggest that across the entire planet, there could be possibly one atheist - just one - who could ever do anything wrong, evil, bad, or flawed.  The internet atheist world makes that back alley universe of 1920s Central Europe seem reasoned and balanced by comparison.

Best response to a reasoned observation that some serious censorship was involved in bringing low the house of Chikin:
The only groups that are trying to take away freedoms are the fundie christian groups passing laws discriminating against non-believers. You scream censorship and denial of freedom because others want to live they way they want and not by the christian religion.
Because the leaders of some of America's largest cities calling for the ban of Chick-fil-A because of failing to conform to the gay rights movement was all about fundie christian groups passing laws discriminating against non-believers.  The intellectual vacancy that is Internet Atheism continues to astound.

Atheists vow to crush University of Tennessee

Following a string of victories over the freedom of religion in America, the Freedom From Constitutional Rights (OK, it's Freedom From Religion Foundation) has set its sites on the University of Tennessee for - I can't bring myself to say it - allowing prayer before football games.  Tapping into the post-modern notion that nobody has a right not to be me, the FFRF has vowed to fight this gravest of evils to save the world from religion.  Notice that the commenters mostly jump into cheer them on, with one wag offering the hope that through crushing financial ruin, they can terrorize the university enough to force them to cave to their demands.

Notice there is not the slightest inkling that they desire freedom, liberty, tolerance, diversity, or any such rot.  They say they are appalled that the prayers are done in the name of Jesus.  Yet how seldom do they complain  that most universities have become, like so many classes of mine as far back as the 80s, nothing other than reeducation centers dedicated to eradicating religion from the planet? Perhaps if I saw the shock at that, I would believe them.  But this is what happens every single time that secular societies have defined themselves by hostility to religion.  Every. Single. Time.  No matter what the promise, countries founded on atheism dedicated to severely limiting religious practice end up looking like this:


and this:


and this:


Leah Libresco puzzles over a growing trend

Over at Unequally Yoked, Ms. Libresco is throwing in her two cents about this whole trend nowadays of looking to some scientific basis for ethics.  I'm shocked that there is any shock.  This is, after all, the logical consequence of where we've come and how we got here.   By now, the facade, the lie, the joke that was post-war liberalism should be known to all.  There was never, ever any desire for a nation where everyone is free to think what they want, believe what they want, say what they want, and do what they want.  That was a sales pitch.

Today, we are seeing those who once championed the age of relative truth and complete openness to all ideas, being the same ones willing to cheer and celebrate when the government steps in and attempts to crush the right to not be liberal.

Now, in the heyday of the liberal promise, the idea that there was no normal, no truth, no real objective morality was the blank check with which the left cashed in its various beliefs and standards.  It was the oxygen upon which the entire gay rights movement sucked away in order to validate the elimination of humanity's ages's old belief about sexuality.  You think homosexuality isn't normal?  Who's to say what is normal? Capt. Pierce asks Frank Burns in an early MASH episode dedicated to promoting gay rights.  Note well that in that episode, as well as most defenses of homosexuality back then, it was not that there is a gene that makes gay the same as being Asian or African, nor was it the idea that heterosexual procreative sex is only seen as normal because of a vast, homophobic conspiracy.  It was simply based on the idea that all truth is relative.  What is normal after all?

Now, of course, that idea has passed.  Why?  Because those who once said such things can now smell the milk at the finish line.  They can taste the banquet of political power and influence.  They hold domination in many of our institutions that control the narrative of our civilization.  And with such power, the last thing they want is a nation of open minded debate, and respect for those who fail to conform to their own dogmas and absolute truths which, increasingly, they can now enforce.

The problem, of course, is that those old time liberals had pretty much obliterated the idea of absolute truths. Since evertying is relative, and we sure can't appeal to personal opionion (Archie Bunker) or - chuckle - religious dogmas to support our truth claims (Stereotypical Fundamentalist Religious Zealot/Inquisitor), where is the good liberal seeking to impose his or her values on the world to go?  The answer is obvious: Science!

Yes, it's the idea that if we make a truth claim, it isn't that we want to impose our values, it's that we have to impose our values.  We don't want to start telling people how they can eat, but science has proven that in 20 years everyone is going to be so fat that the world blows up, and we can't have that.  And science also shows that spanking kids leads to Nazis, that not celebrating homosexual lifestyles causes homosexuals to kill themselves, and that not being liberal is likely to cause the universe to implode and all life as we know it to vanish at the speed of light.  So you see, it isn't as if there really is some 'objective moral truth' we're appealing to, it's just that the clear and obvious science shows there's only one acceptable option, and it just happens coincidently to be that view I hold.   In other words, we don't want to have to mandate conformity to our indepsutable values, but we owe it to you.

Jesus was married!

Oh boy.  The MSM once more jumps forward to assure us that some new evidence might show the possibility that there is a chance that someone thinks there is a slight indicator that a fragment when read correctly and not sweating context points to words that could suggest Jesus was married.  Thomas McDonald does a brilliant take down of this latest 'proof that Christianity is wrong' story cycle.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One more video in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day



The bird says no.  Love it.

Why do liberals love censorship?

Because it works.  As we are seeing once again.  The big break away for the Chick fil A controversy was that it was elected government officials using the power of their government offices to banish a company based on the free speech of its top official.  Sort of like those old time puritans whipping a Quaker out of town on a cart, these liberals (and boy do I use that term loosely) are invoking the same inquisitorial Orwellian censorship.  Why? Because they can.  Because America, like so much of the world, has tried freedom and liberty and found them wanting.  Now, as liberalism has firm control over the venues of information in our culture, it's only a matter of time before rejecting leftist dogmas will get you all the tolerance as supporting the Soviet Communists did back in the 1950s.

Chick-fil-A caves to leftist censorship

It looks like Chick-fil-A has caved under the threat of liberal censorship. Once again, just like the Susan G. Komen foundation found out, this is no country for old conservatives.  Liberalism is set to become the law of the land. Those who don't conform will suffer the same fate.  Unfortunately, fealty to faith and morals goes so far, and if liberalism's not-too-secret police has you in the cross-hairs, it's likely you'll end up doing like Chick-fil-A and apparently throw your principles under the bus.      

Well, it was good while it lasted.  Though I'm inclined to give them slack - after all, it is not easy living under persecution, and despite the laughable objections by secularists and liberals, that's just what is happening - I think I've bought my last Chikin Sandwich.  Which is a shame.  I did so like their food.

Revisiting a lying post

I just saw a few hits on this old post from the Great Lila Rose Disaster of 2011.  It reminded me of several things, especially as we plow forward toward an election, and that little itch to subtly insist that 'surely Jesus would vote for my candidate' will raise it's ugly head, desiring to be scratched.  Here it is, rather than linked, to read and ponder:


Live Action, Lying, and the land of a thousand blogs

You would think that until the debate sprung up across the blogosphere in reaction to Lila Rose and Live Action's sting operation against Planned Parenthood, I wouldn't have known lying is wrong.  I certainly didn't realize that the Catholic Church condemns all falsehoods, including but not limited to, espionage, spying, undercover police work, law enforcement sting operations, and undercover investigative journalism.  It must be true.  Folks on the Internet have made it clear: There is only one obvious take on the question.  Some suggested that those, like Peter Kreeft, who once may  have been a respectable Catholic professor of philosophy, are now in the muck and mire of heretical thought for not conceding this clear point.  Obviously Christians who lied while they hid Jews during WWII were sinning, too.  Corrie ten Boom, I was informed during a discussion, was just a sinner who screwed things up and is loathed by many for having caused the deaths of so many innocent people by way of her sinful falsehoods.  As did all who dared sin the great sin in their incompetency. 

Now, the thing I've come away with during all of this?  Beware the Catholic blogosphere, the posts that bite, the comments that snatch.  It is, for the most part, amateur apologists with little to no actual theological training.  Those who do have it, more often than not have no real ministerial experience behind it.  For instance, Dawn Eden, whose article, written with William Doino, Jr., was among the first to take attention off of Planned Parenthood and place it firmly on Lila Rose, has a degree in theology.  She just earned it.  A former rock groupie journalist who converted to Catholicism in recent years, now has a degree.  By that logic, this former Protestant minister who converted to Catholicism and spends the next two years getting a business degree, can then go up and down main street telling all of the business owners how badly they are screwing things up.   I don't mean to dis Dawn, or anyone for that matter.  I'm sure they're fine Catholics and great people.  But it's not for nothing that Paul warns those who are new converts to be slow in throwing their hats in the overseer ring.  If ministery teaches you anything, it's that you can be right and still end up being wrong, in more ways than one.

Am I saying there is no debate here?  No. It is an old debate that has been passionately argued for ages: is any lie or falsehood not only always wrong, but so bad that it's worth risking your own life and the possible lives of innocents in order to avoid the telling?  Or is there a principle involved?  Does this fall under the heading of 'the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath'?  Good Christians of good faith have had radically different opinions.

The problem is, this became fodder for the Internet, a forum where people react and act in ways they never would to someone sitting next to them, looking them in the face.  Thus both sides hurled the insults, the accusations, the judgements.  The side that insisted on the sinfulness of lying looked like nothing so much as a KJV only fundamentalist Baptist preacher.  Fans of various bloggers rushed to their defense, insisting that all of those other folks who are obviously wrong are NOT the Magisterium - missing the clear fact that those bloggers they are fans of are not the Magisterium either.

And in it all, a possibly horrendous act on the part of an already dubious institution has more or less gotten off free.  The discussion was used to split, once more, the Catholic ranks.  A pro-life organisation that was filled with young people passionate about defending the unborn was not gently reminded to walk closer to the truth, but was used as a case study for the evils of lying by folks who I can't help but guess have probably told a lie or two in their lives, and for reasons far less noble.

But then, the Internet tends to breed a certain fundamentalist attitude.  Bloggers, many of whom are so because they are talented writers, have the craft and ability to make powerful cases.  They attract followers and fans who quickly circle the wagons and dare any would be critics to beware.  And if the heat gets too bad, if a person plows forth with disagreements and hits too close to home?  Well, that's where the handy 'delete' button on the blog kicks in.

Altogether, a reminder.  The Internet is not the Vatican.  Catholic bloggers, no matter how talented, insightful, Christ loving, and faithful, are NOT the Magisterium.  Some of them are wonderful.  Some have insights and understanding of the Faith that would put a theology professor to shame.  But they still are not coequal with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  And the Catholic blogosphere is not some denomination of exclusive Truth within Sacred Tradition.  So when we do step forward to guide and lead people to truth, we should do it like Catholics, not like the average Protestant fundamentalist caricature.  It wasn't to hear Himself talk that Jesus, in telling us to be innocent as doves, also told us to be shrewd as serpents.  And in this little train wreck of a discussion, many may feel they have truly achieved the 'innocent as doves' portion of the charge, but I can't help but feel it was done at the expense of the 'shrewd as serpents' clause.

What do Scottish Pirates say?

"Arrrrrrrgyle!"


Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The agony of defeat

So my second oldest had his only home Cross Country meet.  My Mom and the family came out, being the only chance they would have to cheer him on.  Coming off his triumphant performance on Saturday, he was gearing toward beating that time and moving up in the team standings.  Alas, on Monday the first whiffs that something might go wrong were noticed.  He was hit with an horrible case of allergies, and could barely breath.  We had to rush medications to him at school. He ended up missing his only practice this week before the game.  He woke up today still fighting the allergies and having a difficult time breathing.

Still, he was ready to go.  Pumped up, he was committed to blowing away his time and wowing everyone again.  Then the start of the race, and everything fell apart. It being a home meet, the entire team was psyched and ready to go.  Within the first hundred yards, several who were never even near him were ahead of him.  I could sense the panic.  With the strain on his respiratory system, he tried to catch up, but the harder he tried, the worse it got.  Then in the middle of the race, in an area called the Wetlands, in a desperate attempt to make up time, he slipped and twisted his ankle.

Rather than stop, he kept pushing along.  Compensating for the pain, he began to run unevenly, and this simply added to the difficulties in pacing himself and breathing.  By the last half mile, when he was now near the back of the race, and all but a handful of his teammates were breaking their own personal bests (including his time), he was barely able to make it.  Our oldest son was ready to go and run beside him to cheer him on, but I had to stop him (that's called pacing, and it's not allowed).  At a couple points, holding his side and limping, we really thought he wasn't going to finish.

But finish he did.  As he rounded the last turn, heading into the final 100 yards, one of the kids on the other team began to pass him.  Now this young fellow was not, obviously, at the top of his team's roster.  But he clearly saw a chance to pass someone, and my boy was the target.  I figured there wasn't anything left for him to prevent being passed.  I was wrong.  Somewhere, somehow, through the pain and breathing troubles, my boy pulled something out of the ether and gave one of the best sprints of all his competitions, the crowd was on its feet and he pulled it off in the last inches.  So I was proud of him, even if the pain and his disappointment eliminated any cheerfulness on his part.

So given that our footballer had a less than stellar performance last Wednesday (and is now former MVP, currently second string because of it), and our oldest stumbled on Saturday, and our third competitor rounded out with a crushing collapse today, I think we'll be taking the upcoming long weekend to encourage, inspire, and just try to have fun to take away the agonies of their defeats.  We'll be going to the county fair, playing games, eating pumpkin donuts and drinking apple cider and watching more horror movies and maybe even starting some Halloween specials (we always start with an old VCR tape of Disney's Halloween Haunts,* with three old shorts centered around spooky or Halloween subjects).  Because of the need to have oodles of family fun, blogging will be sparse till next Monday.  So all you millions of fans our there, just try to get by until I am back to dispense my enlightened insights on the groveling masses. TTFN

My oldest, youngest, and Mom are all ready to cheer him on

Just back from football practice, our third son is getting into the act

Alas, but the storm clouds moving in brought allergies and ominous  foreboding

Our oldest, ready to run out and lend an encouraging hand as those autumn clouds  hover menacingly overhead

*We actually have the rarer version, with the song and video for 'Grim Grinning Ghosts' before the first short. .  Cool stuff!