Sunday, March 31, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Blogging in the Easter days

As folks can see, this new schedule has changed things.  I think it was partly due to the timing, and many things going on in the evenings, leaving my blogging schedule for the weekends.  Still, I plan to keep on blogging, and hopefully will get more in during the week.  For now, it's mostly the weekends, though I make it a point not to blog too much during key holidays, like Easter.  That's for God, Family, and just time to reflect.  I'll probably throw a post or two out for the day of days, but that's it.  Once things have settled down, however, I hope to be back up and running.  In the meantime, a blessed Triduum to all, and Peace and Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I don't play golf

Because there is no way in the universe I could pull off something like this.

The Pope wears Prada?

So just bouncing about to see what I can see about the Pope Francis/Gay Civil Unions topic in the Catholic Blogosphere, and this is what I was directed to: reflections on those who criticize the Pope's red shoes, or perhaps lack thereof, among other things.  Really?  Come on people.  This is almost avoidance.  Let's roll up the sleeves and see if there's anything at all to this story, is it just blowing smoke by a yearning media, or does it mean there are some major ethical and moral issues with which we need to grapple?

Aaron Craft Rules!

And Ohio State heads to the sweet sixteen and Iowa State made it a game to remember.  In one of the most awesome plays I've seen in years, Aaron Craft controlled the ball until the last second, tied with Iowa State, then shot: in the air, and swoosh!  Three points.  This was following a string of blunders and bad shots from the usually solid Craft.  While champions are not always successful, they always come back and try again.  And that he did.  Tied with less than 30 seconds left, Craft had already turned the tide by drawing a brilliant foul.  True, there were some bad calls against both sides, but this was a case where Craft knew every inch of the court.  OSU was down under the basket, Craft got the ball, and Craft stood there, and stood there, and stood there while the seconds ticked away and we imagined it was going to be an overtime game.  And then, with a second left, he bluffed the Iowa guard, stepped up to within an inch of the three point line and nailed it.  Talk about ice water in his veins.  The whole team was there doing its thing, and Craft showed once again that he is the heart and soul oft he team, even if he's not its star player.  But when it needed him, he was there.

Thad Matta and the Buckeyes are doing great this year, but Craft is someone that you just know is going to succeed in life no matter what.  As I said before, he came to speak to our youth at our parish, and my boys were quite taken with him.  Now I can see why.  Well done Bucks, well done Mr. Matta, and California here we come!

P.S.  If you scroll down the page on the link, you can see The Shot as it happened.

Sex, drugs and Geritol

So a reader sent over a link to this article from The American Spectator.  Before I go on, let me say like Joan Jett, I love Rock n' Roll. It was the soundtrack of my youth.  I have always had a rather eclectic taste in music.  From Rock to Classical to Big Band to Easy Listening to Jazz to everything but Country (and depending on the song, sometimes that), I enjoy music.  I might have had talent enough to pursue music, but I was too stupid and thick headed as a child to get the fact that I had something going for me when my piano teachers and music teachers said I had something going for me.  A lesson I try desperately to teach my boys.

Anyway, music.  I enjoy rock.  In my day, MTV had just hit the airwaves when I was a freshman in high school.  Van Halen was my favorite contemporary group at the time, and I always liked the Beatles.  But I liked it all: from Beethoven to Barry Manilow, from Andy Williams to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, I took in all that was out there.  Because of this, I was never blind to the sever limitations of rock music.  Comparing Mozart's Symphony no 40 or Bach's Brandenburg Concertos to the best that rock music had produced, such as the Who's Tommy, or Stairway to Heaven, or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, showed that there were extreme limits.

Those limits were already in place before rock.  The popular music that predated rock, that the rock generation would unwittingly make fun of, was the basic framework upon which rock music was founded.  The music of Jo Stafford, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby was the same format: short, simple, to the point.  Though the lyrics, at times, hinted at a more realistic appraisal of life's up and downs and struggles than rock's usual 'if I can just get the girl and get laid, the universe if A-OK.'  If anything can be appreciated, it's the observation that the best contributors to the rock genre tended to avoid the simplistic, silly, and superficial values and wax whimsical or at least attempt to say something about life outside the bedroom.

Still, most of rock is just that: ridiculously shallow, hedonistic values with no meaning, purpose, or resolution that bear resemblance to the real world experience of humanity any more than Indiana Jones' exploits bear a resemblance to a day in the life of real archaeologists  Now, those authors of ludicrous values are penning their autobiographies and telling us all what it was really all about. The takeaway quote from the article:
"A bunch of people who got rich paying lip service to a set of disingenuous values are now getting even richer writing about how they were indeed mostly just paying lip service to those values, all the while earning adulatory reviews from our increasingly obsequious Baby Boomer media." 
I love it.  I loved the music, but it wasn't until I was older that I realized the utter hypocrisy and lie that was behind the rock culture   It wasn't until then I realized that, due to insurance constraints, that giant bottle of Jack Daniels really had ice tea.  It wasn't until I was older that it dawned on me that these rebels running about flipping the bird to societal norms were guided by guys in suits sitting in a board room.  It wasn't until much later that I realized those guys on stage were willing parts of the giant hypocrisy, laughing all the way to the bank with their limos, mansions, bank accounts and accountants.

I remember back in the late 1980s when Paul McCartney had his tour supporting the album Flowers in the Attic.  During an interview, McCartney said that he and Lennon were basically in it for the money.  GASP!  Oh, the shock.  On entertainment shows and publications everywhere, the shock, the disappointment,  the indignation!  Imagine no possessions!  Well, McCartney was just being what most of the rock generation has been anything but: Honest.  The wave of aging, gray haired rockers penning their bios will begin to show the careful reader just how much of a lie, and a ludicrous one at that, it all really was.  Then we can begin running the numbers and seeing just how many millions of lives were ruined as young people sadly believed the lie was true and attempted to live the lie.  If Satan is indeed the father of lies, perhaps those old fundamentalists screaming about rock music being of the devil were actually on to something.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

And finally, from my boys and their infinite strangeness



Oh, and if you just didn't get enough, you can go here and watch the ten hour version. But I wouldn't recommend it.

Why can't I get comments like this?

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I frequently post on one of the news sites.  I've had some pretty big responses.  Now I've been given a ribbon!  It means I'm officially a top contributor, with high quality and engaging posts. Woo Hoo!  Which may say more about my social prospects than anything. Sigh.  If only they would come to my blog!  Or all those visiting would comment more!  BTW, thanks for everyone who has visited, and those who comment.  It's what makes blogging worth it: getting to know folks and hearing from others and seeing just how well (or lousy) you've done at making a point. 

I have my moments

I noticed this piece has been hit a slew of times today. Don't know why.  It happens sometimes.  A post of mine from months ago will suddenly shoot to the front of the pack, at least out of proportion of its chronology.  Still, it wasn't bad.  I was pretty pissed off when I wrote it, but I stand by everything in it, and with each passing day, will stand by even more.

Rod Dreher is good

Very, very good.  Here he obliterates one of the most annoying memes to raise its stupid head in recent years: The dreaded "Right Side of History."  At least as used as a debate stopper. As a student of history myself, I knew the phrase was utter BS. It meant nothing.  It was nothing but a secular version of 'I'm on God's side.'  It's the primary mantra of the Gay Rights Movement, demonstrating once again that the majority of the GRM is based on half truths, manipulated truth, and all out lies - with a smattering of asinine and vacant arguments thrown in, like this one.

Dreher nails it: everyone in history believed they were 'on the right side of history.'  We did in the skies over Hiroshima.  Hitler did at the rallies of Nuremberg.  Lenin did.  Jefferson Davis did.  Napoleon did.  William the Conqueror did.  Julius Caesar   Genghis Khan.  Mao.  Pol Pot.  Charles Manson.  Pick a person from history.  Pick a hero, a villain.  Better yet, let's focus on the villains.  When you look back, you'd be amazed at how few people given praise and honor stopped to say they were on the right side of history.  Some did, of course. The phrase itself comes from Martin Luther King, Jr., and his famous statement that those who stand up for justice will always be on the right side of history. 

Talk about overused, abused and radically misunderstood.  The Christina faith itself has its ideas of where history is going.  But the person who imagines he is automatically on the right side of history simply because he's obviously right is a person a thousand years ago who possibly would have imagined that he was on God's side storming into the Holy Land.

The way conservative should sound

Sometimes conservatives and conservatism get confused.  One of the triumphs of the progressive movement has been to define conservatism by the worst conservatives, while shielding liberalism from the character flaws of its adherents   As a result, the message of just what conservatism is supposed to be can get lost in the din of various progressive attacks, as well as various non-progressive oriented individuals insisting that they are the pure conservatives and it's everyone else's fault.  But in reading a link that a reader sent me, to an article by Jonah Goldberg, I stumbled across one of the best, and quite frankly beautiful, expositions of conservatism and what it's supposed to be:
My dad, a Jew, loved the spectacle of it all. (The Vatican, he said, was the last institution that “really knows how to dress.”) From what he could tell, he liked this new pope too. “We need more rocks in the river,” my dad explained. What he meant was that change comes so fast, in such a relentless torrent, that we need people and things that stand up to it and offer respite from the current.I loved the literary quality of the expression “more rocks in the river,” even though the imagery doesn’t quite convey what my dad really believed. Dad was a conservative, properly understood. By that I mean he didn’t think conservatism was merely an act of passive and futile defiance against what Shakespeare called “devouring time.” Unlike human institutions, the rocks do not fight the devouring river of time, it just seems like they do. My dad believed that conservatism was an affirmative act, a choice of prudence and will. In the cacophony of perpetual change, the conservative selects the notes worth savoring and repeats them for others to hear and, hopefully, appreciate.
I really like that.  An affirmative act, a choice of prudence and will, of selecting the notes worth savoring and repeating them for others to hear. If more who would resist the worst elements of this post-liberal progressive juggernaut ceased with the circular firing squad and reflected on this, I think there could be hope in maintaining the best of what conservative should really mean when people hear the term.

Why I loved the Catholic approach to Capital Punishment

I've been accused of not caring about Church teaching (despite the hell I've put my family through to become Catholic).  This is usually because I ask questions in the wrong environments.  One of the issues I've been bothered by is the Church's recent change regarding its position on Capital Punishment. As I said here, I'm far from pleased with the recent turn of events, and consider almost laughable the Church's reliance on the infallibility of our penal system to protect the innocent as the slam dunk reason to abolish the Death Penalty.

For me, who always opposed it on the principle that we could execute an innocent person, I admitted the opposite problem was also a possibility: an innocent person could be murdered by an individual who might otherwise have been executed.  And unlike the man on death row who will be given months to years to make his peace with God, that individual murdered in the blink of an eye will not have that chance, which all but nullifies using the importance of salvation in the equation (unless we only care about salvation for the criminal). 

So I warmed quickly to the Church's rather common sense, and darn well Christian, view that the Death Penalty should be avoided at all possible costs, unless there is clearly a threat or danger to the widow and the orphan, to the innocent and the good.  I actually changed my position and was glad to do it. Unfortunately there have been major changes and alterations in not a few positions in recent decades, and under Benedict's leadership, the Church has moved to call for an abolition of all capital punishment.  Period.  

Problem is, well here.  A story in which a man who would have been executed but wasn't because W. Virginia had abolished the death penalty, organized a mass breakout that resulted in the murder of an off duty police officer and another innocent person.  That's the dark flip side of my favorite reference point for opposing the death penalty.  I knew it was a problem, which is why I loved the Church's position:  mercy in all possible ways, but not at the sacrifice of the innocent.  If I want to die for the faith, great   But it isn't for me to let other innocent people die for my faith.  The Church had hit a home run as far as I was concerned.

Now, it not only sweeps aside the balance and invites the very problems I struggled with without so much as acknowledging them, and also inadvertently encourages that rascally old Ebeneezer approach to ethics, it bases its change on the most convoluted reasoning imaginable:  the efficacy of the American judicial and penal systems (apparently since 1981).  Wow.  It makes me remember that the Catholic Faith is Truth, but the Catholic Church has had its fair share of zigging when it should have zagged, and I don't believe that's something that the Church has outgrown, or ever will outgrow.  I'm sorry to say, this may be one of those instances that drives this unhappy point home. 

Atheists get smacked

The post was the typical 'religion is stupid and/or evil' narrative supporter.  In this case the atheists' favorite 'religion is obviously so wrong and dumb why do people believe it' assumption.  It was based on this cartoon:


Wow, it's not like religious people haven't ever thought of that.  It isn't as if religious people haven't struggled to fathom the actual answer and its ramifications: that God is in fact outside of time and space, without end or beginning as we understand either.

Yet the good atheist, trapped in a small box of narrow thinking of his own making, proudly displays this as the coup de grace of theological debate.  Can any religious believer (in this as in most cases, the Christian) do anything but whither under the assault of this awesome breakthrough in atheist apologetics?

But note the assumption: God, like anything, is subject to the laws of the material universe, the only reality that atheists will allow in debate.  And then a reader posts this:
Classic atheist error: Since atheism is obviously true, God must conform to the laws of a universe in which nothing can be God in order to be proven. One reason why falling into the trap of 'prove' God will get you nowhere with an atheist.
BAM!  Wonderful.  That was me giving a high five to the fellow.  I noticed that the thread not only came to a complete halt, but the only response was 'oh yeah, well, religious people aren't rational, yeah man, they aren't'  Heh.  It was good, and it deftly exposed the great atheist fallacy: when they say 'prove God', what they mean is begin with the assumption that God doesn't exist, that all is matter, and that everything must be proven on that basis.  Now prove God.'   I did this post just to copy the statement.  I will refer to it often whenever another atheist says 'you have to prove God.'  From now on, I'll respond only if they accept the existence of a non-material reality first.

Pope Francis I and gay civil unions

Where are the blog posts?  I've been waiting for the Catholic Blogosphere to say something.  After all, the story continues to gain momentum in the secular press, as in here, and hereherehere, herehere and here.

And so on.  I finally found Jimmy Akin's take on it.  True to form, Mr. Akin takes the time to unpack the issue and cut through the spin.  His basic take is that then Cardinal Bergoglio was just trying to limit the impact of gay marriage.  Quoting various passages from recent Church documents, the picture is painted of a Cardinal in the last, desperate moment before the battle is lost, trying to claim some ground to limit the impact.

I have no doubt that's exactly what happened.  But here's the thing.  I think Mr. Akin is wrong in saying it's spot on proper, at least as spot on proper has been defined in recent years.  There is nothing in the numerous passages he quotes that says the Church or Church leaders should ever - ever - condone and cooperate with something that is grave and mortal sin.  One of the quotes says just that.


The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.

The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society.

Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. (Emphasis mine)


As for those quotes that instruct on how to deal with this issue as it gains momentum in a society, none of them say 'ah, go ahead and support the issue, just at a lesser level.'  They say that one could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. I admit,that's some pretty nuanced and fiberoptically thin reasoning that could create loopholes large enough to sail an oil tanker through.

But what gets me, what I see in this entire piece, is basically an argument that the Bishops, the Church, the Magisterium as we like to call it, are saying that there are just times when you have to go for the lesser of the two evils.  Slap down your seal of approval on lesser evil way.  That might not be what the various documents are saying.  But it's the out that Mr. Akin is giving to then Cardinal Bergoglio, that when pressed, you can dabble about with the lesser of two evils.

I must admit, I don't know where Mr. Akin is on such things as 'voting for either party is cooperative with grave evil', or 'better that ten million babies be tortured to death than to tell a white lie to save them.'  I know he's run afoul of fellow bloggers over some of his stances in the past.  Perhaps he's been somewhat soft on such things, less legalistic, and willing to remember that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath in things other than whether the Pope should wear a miter here or there.

But there are those who have proudly staked a claim to being non-hyphenated Catholics on the virtue that they know there is never, ever a time in which you can budge an inch over the issue of condoning or supporting grave evil.

Of course just what happened, and what Pope Francis did, will be open to endless debate.  The Catholic Church possesses what I call the gift of Catholic Unspeak: The ability at times to almost come darn close to saying  things in a definitive way yet never in such a way that at least three other interpretations couldn't be leaned upon in a pinch.  So I doubt this can be, for anyone paying attention, a 'Gotcha!' moment, whether you support gay marriage or are dead set against it.  The winners will likely be the Truth Today non-hyphenated Catholics, who are busying saying everything about Pope Francis is wonderful, he's the bomb, and only the vile hyphenated crowd thinks otherwise.  There will be enough wiggle room, no matter how they interpret the story above, to declare Francis the greatest thing since paper miters.

FWIW, I admit there seems to be a tendency in the Church's teaching to say it's better that evil should triumph for a time than to do any thing wrong at all to save it, to refuse to use the Ring, period. Just to what level that is applied varies, of course, but those who insist that the slightest white lie is unacceptable even to save children from the Nazis definitely have the wind at their backs in most debates.  So the interesting thing will be to see, if this story continues to unfold as it is unfolding, just how they square "Francis is the greatest" with "vile hyphenated Catholics who support evil to stop evil" and the events as laid out by Mr. Akin.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

So much to blog

So little time.  Pressed tonight and tomorrow.  I've received several interesting emails and messages from readers that I'm meaning to touch on.  Some great insights, including something that everyone who calls himself or herself a conservative should memorize.  But alas, I must run now.  Blessings to all, and I'll try to catch up this weekend, including commenting on the stifling silence about that issue I blogged about last night.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When will gay civil unions be no problem for some Catholics?

If and when Pope Francis I endorses them, that's when.  For me, this would be a major step in the wrong direction.  Will homosexuality be accepted some day the way we accept tennis shoes?  Yeah.  It already is, at least on paper. I'm not sure it's all sincere.  Some  is the result of intimidation.  Others the result of people who want popularity.  Still others like Rob Portman who change for a host of dubious reasons (more on that when I have more time).  Still others who no doubt have the idea that if they accept homosexuality, then the world must accept what they desire as normative.

But be that as it may, the winds of change are here.  Now the big news story, compliments of the News Media, is that while cardinal, Pope Francis I was willing to compromise and support Same Sex Civil Unions.  Whether that's true or not remains to be seen.  The ones reporting it, such as CNN, will have to hire additional custodians to mop up the drool accumulating on the studio floors that is being produced as they read this story.  Given their full support for advancing the gay agenda, I'm suspicious.

Still, I'm not discounting it either.  I've run into many Catholics who have no problem at all with anything homosexual.  The majority of American Catholics support gay marriage.  They support abortion rights, contraceptives, and married priests as well.  I've heard Church leaders speak on the issue since I've been Catholic, sounding much closer to my former colleagues from various mainline (and yes, progressive) denominations than anything in the Catechism.

So perhaps Pope Francis I was one who thought compromise, or changing a position, would somehow stem the tide.  It won't of course.  The power of the Progressive Revolution is its insistence on absolute conquest. No quarter will be given to those who only 99% conform.  Eventually.  One need only reflect on the change in rhetoric and tactics that accompany this issue of homosexual rights.  Once it was based on 'who's to say what's normal, let's live and let live, can't we all get along?'  Today, it's more along the line of 'anyone who doesn't support gay marriage is a homophobic bigot who is an anti-gay hatemonger and it's high time we throw them out of the realm of public discourse!'

No, compromise will do nothing but delay the inevitable.  As for what will happen if it's revealed that Pope Francis supported gay civil unions? Well, for those who support gay rights in the Church, there will be much celebrating.  For others, much concern.  And yet for others, it will become the obvious position.  Even if only a week ago they railed against such an idea, and insisted Francis would never, ever do such a thing, they will immediately change.  They will make impassioned defenses for civil unions, explain why it's the "Catholic" thing to do, and will brutally chastise anyone who holds fast on what the Church taught last week.

These Catholics, who insist that everything the Church says *NOW* is the truth (and if that changes tomorrow, then it will be the Truth Now), will simply go along.  There won't' be pausing.  There won't be reflecting on what this could mean.  There won't be a call to resist.  There simply will be going along.  And it is this type of Catholic who will be the same as those who have gone along every time in history that the Church zigged when it should have zagged.  There have always been those who try to lead the Church astray.  Satan and prowling lions and all.  But unlike Protestantism, where you simply break off and start your own denomination, Catholics have no such alternative.  All they can do is resist, or go along, and depending on the personality type, insist that only brain dead idiots or evil bigots who don't care about Church Teaching don't see the obvious truth that is now the Truth Today.

Never one to lift up the Church and its troubled 2000 year history and put it on a pedestal  I can't help but guess that's where it will go.  I could be wrong.  Hopefully, the hoopla about the gay friendly Pope is just media yearning.  But if it isn't, and if it does go down that the Pope is going to endorse the state making it easier for people to live in mortal sin (assuming we still believe that), then I have no doubt there will be Catholics rejoicing across America.  And in addition, there will be those who may not want to rejoice, but will force themselves to do so, baring their teeth to anyone who dares point out what they will be desperate to forget.  Just like I can't help but imagine a sizable portion of humanity is when it comes to homosexual normality   They don't believe it, they simply don't dare say otherwise - and God help the person who reminds them of what they've done.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Update on Catholics hating America

I posted yesterday in response to the unbridled hatred of the US that some Catholics possess.  I pointed out that Mark Shea's blog has become quite the gathering place for those who are quite proud of being Catholics who despise and loath everything to do with America, if not Americans.  To wit:
Say what you wish, Stu, but at least Canadiens aren’t identified by their revolting nature.
Sure, it's in response to a dig at Canadians that heavily criticizes the initial comment by lumping all Canadians together as ones who would say such a thing.  But still, it's nice to know there are thoughtful internet Catholics who believe we are revolting by our very nature.   Still, this is from the fellow who said children slaughtered by American Indians got what they got for being part of the evil White Protestant Invaders.  Imagine saying that on Mark's blog about Japanese children in Hiroshima and imagine how long you'd last (I think both things would be repugnant to say).  A reminder why the Catholic Church has such a massive stack of bodies in its 2000 year old wake.

Anyhoo, the initial comment on Mark's post was what got me to thinking.  It was posted by a regular reader whose dislike of the US is pretty well documented.  Fair enough.  The question was, why is Mark's blog such a magnet for the "Hate America Catholics!" crowd?  I stated that I don't believe Mark is there, yet.  But then, in response to that little 'let's assume America sucks and is evil' dig, Mark posted his own response:
Actually, I like your comment just fine. Yes, his remarks are of a piece with the utopian arrogance that dominates the United States.
Uh huh.  So there you go.  Mark gives a high five kudos to the whole 'no doubt the evil US will lead a coup to depose the Pope since it's so evil and arrogant' assumption.  Is there wiggle room?  Could Mark argue he doesn't have some loathing and contempt for everything to do with the US?  Is there, shall we say, room for plausible deniability? Again, no problem with criticizing America.  But this is criticizing America with the same balance and insight that Jack Chick brings to his disagreements with the Catholic Church.

No, scratch that.  In it all, I'm actually convinced that Jack Chick thinks he's doing the right thing and really wants Catholics to save themselves from certain damnation.  The comments I'm increasingly seeing on Mark's site suggest nothing of the sort.  They merely suggest, well, a hatred of the US more in line with a Fred Phelps than Chick.  For Phelps gives no indication he has any concern or desire for those he hates to be anything other than those he hates.  And Mark, who once rallied around the flag and proclaimed that while we must be prepared to correct our nation, we should never cease loving our nation as an extension of the command to love our neighbors?  Who once shouted down those too critical of our nation as violating that very principle? Who now has a regular litany of visitors ready to proclaim 'America sucks, it's evil, stupid, always has been, it's worthless  it's the cause of all suffering, American's are dolts and evil losers, who cares if its rotten kids were slaughtered by Indians!'?  I give you hope:


To criticize America with the mind of the Christ is a duty of every American Christian. But, since 9/11, many more Christians and many Americans now recognize that all such criticism should be done with reverence and gratitude for the truly great country this is. (Emphasis mine)
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control,
thy liberty in law.
Mark Shea, The National Review, 12/29/2001

It was true then.  It is still true today.


What has he done?

St. Patrick's Day


St. Patrick's statue in St. Mary parish
Gets all the press.  I'm OK with that.  Ever since my parents discovered my lineage some ages ago, I've been rather taken by my Irish roots.  I always knew that we were part Irish, part Welsh, a little German and a smattering of other European heritage.  Thanks to the amorous choices of my great grandfather on my Dad's paternal side, I also have American Indian.  My wife, likewise, is also heavily favored on the Irish side, though she has a greater strain of American Indian and could have qualified as actual Native American from a legal perspective in terms of college grants and similar perks, if she had not already received a full ride.

But in it all, my Irish side is best known to me.  Some years ago, my Mom and Dad were traveling back to my Dad's birthplace in the hills and mountains of West Virginia.  Dad was born way out in the boons, in a town that no longer exists.  They were asking folks where certain landmarks might be when they stumbled across a woman who was working on a PhD.  Part of her work was tracing, of all things, the genealogy of my Dad's maternal family.  Apparently the woman herself was related, as most in that region might be.

She produced the fruits of her labor, a massive book hundreds of pages long detailing everyone linked to the original family who came across the ocean back in the waning days of the eighteenth century.  Through that side - the Mollohans - we actually hail from County Sligo in Ireland:




Ah, now that's a place that screams Emerald Isle.  And talk about ancient sites to stimulate this old historian's imagination.  And for those who golf, apparently it's one of the premier golfing locations in the British Isles.  But I am as good as golf as I am at spitting, so I'm more taken by the history, the lush landscapes, and the heritage.

Fact is, the son of the first fellow to come over here was killed by a bear. Figures.  Talk about setting a precedent.  Others did some amazing things, some not so amazing, and quite frankly, I'm rather surprised at how my line even got here, given the infant morality, the war casualties,  and the general death and suffering so many of them seemed to experience.

Where it all began, at least for part of my family
I've done some research on my Mom's side, and my wife has as well. But the most clear picture is from my Mollohan side, whose most distant descendants actually came from Scotland during a displacement ordered by the crown almost two centuries earlier.

Because of this, I'm rather fond of St. Patrick.  He's my 12 year old's patron saint.  He also gives us a great excuse to feast and play in the otherwise dreary month of March.  So it's tipping the old Guinness today.  Maybe a Harp.  Irish meat pies and potato and leek soup, sauteed turnips, some truly awesome homemade Irish candy, and of course homemade soda bread.

We'll learn about St. Patrick, explore Irish history and folklore, listen to some authentic Irish music, and basically chill.  Owing to Ohio State's basketball prowess this year, we'll also pause to see if they can keep their winning streak alive.  Special note: defensive aficionado and scholar athlete Aaron Craft, one of the defensive stars of college basketball, came to speak at to parish youth some months ago.  My two oldest were mightily impressed.

Anyway, that's the news.  I'll be back with a few updates and posts in the not too distant, especially to look at a couple emails I got to kick things around.  Till then:


May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Book of Kells Online!

Cool stuff.  The Book of Kells is one of the treasures of Ireland, and in fact of the literary world.  Now it's online.  You can go directly to the online display here.  Ah, I love ancient manuscripts.  I studied biblical Greek in seminary and took extra seminars and classes on the development of the Greek New Testament.  Bruce Metzger was my main source of inspiration,  and I used to spend hours poring over the tables and some of the actual manuscripts we had in our school's biblical museum.  I was always partial to Greek uncial script, and at one time had quite the set of resources for meandering through the Greek texts.  I also loved cataloging the chronology of the parchment fragments and manuscripts currently in our possession    I was never adept enough to just whip out a Greek text and read with the ease of an English version, but I wasn't bad with a lexicon nearby.

I'd like to have the ability to read the Latin in the same way.  Right now, I can't imagine learning it if there's not going to be a reason.  But someday, down the road  you never know.

The fruits of atheism reminder

Over at the hilariously titled "Friendly Atheist", there's the typical atheist screed of 'look!  religion bad and evil!"  So far, not too many commenters.  I threw my own two cents worth in, but do so anonymously  since some of the commenters on that blog downright scare me.  But here's the one that caught my eye:
I am not a fan of child pornography, but I dislike people getting in trouble for porn. Looking at pictures is not the same as performing the acts in those pictures.
A "problem" with child porn?  Could we say it a little more forcefully? That's like saying "I have a problem with killing Jews."  Or this, which would certainly outrage the FA faithful: "I have a problem with butchering homosexuals."  Really?  And even that wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't followed up with a resounding defense for pornography without clear distinctions between the pornography he praises and that other type he apparently has some vaguely undefined problem with.

Again, atheists can be good, moral people.  But atheists have no reason to be good or moral other than it makes them feel warm and fuzzy.  Those who choose not to?  Well, morality is, after all, only an illusion.  Like religion or anything else, it's just something we invent to make our drive to pass on our DNA more bearable. When it is no longer advantageous to say child pornography is wrong, then it won't be wrong.  And as some of the  commenters on this and other atheist blogs make clear, when it is no longer advantageous to wear the illusion of religion tolerance then tolerance for religion will have to go.

Update: It looks like at least one bold individual has jumped in to express shock at the idea that child pornography shouldn't be illegal. Well done.  Again, many atheists are good people, they just have no ultimate foundation beyond their desire to be good people.  In this case, a very good person.

CYO to allow girl football players

My problem with girl football players is that, when the dust settles, you almost inevitably find out that the boys either instinctively pulled their punches, or in some cases, were instructed to do so.  On cases where girls on the gridiron were hit with the full brunt of a linebacker's crushing tackle, there have been charges of sexism or meanness or that the player was hitting super hard to make a point. Why girls insist on wanthing things like this, I don't know. Why they drool so at the thought of fighting in wars is beyond me.

But why couldn't the Church have stayed on traditional footing that suggests it's still too early to make a call about girls in football.  At least, girls in football without the game changing (does the CYO have softball leagues, and can boys play on those?).  And this doesn't consider various traditional teachings on how a boy should treat a girl (how can a boy be taught to never, ever hit a girl and then have to hit a girl?). Once again, stand the ground Church.  You can't say the End Result is true, but everything else is up for grabs.  Sometimes, everything else is also true, precisely because the End Result is true.  Are women absolutely totally and without exception equal to men in every conceivable way in such a manner that there can be no meaningful discussion of differences?  If so, then not allowing them to be priests seems to break down somewhere along the line to nothing other than theological arbitrariness.

I don't mean that women have to stray barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen to make the priesthood as historically understood make sense.  I am saying it's OK to say women and men should be equal where equality exists, but there might be times when equality breaks down, and men still won't have babies, and women still won't be able to do certain things men can do, at least without modifying the way men have traditionally done it. As I said, trying to compromise in everything but the final thing just doesn't seem to last long, at least if the lessons from mainline Protestant denominations have anything to say.

The History Channel is producing The Bible

Well, points for at least having some show that has something to do with some part of something that happened in the past.  But the History Channel doing the Bible?  To students of history, the History Channel is to historical studies what the National Enquirer is to quality journalism.  It wasn't always like that, but today I'd rather go to ESPN to learn about physics than go to the History Channel today to learn about the Bible. If I'm wrong, it's the channel's fault for teaching me not to trust what it has to say.

On Pope Francis I

Been so busy, haven't really had much time to post my thoughts on our new Pope.  We started our journey into the Church back in the waning days of Pope John Paul II's time.  In fact, the week I scheduled a luncheon meeting with a priest I knew in our ecumenical ministry association to talk about becoming Catholic was the very week that PJPII passed away.  Pope Benedict XVI was already settled in when we officially were brought into the Church on Easter, 2006.

So as a Catholic, Pope Benedict is the only Pope I've known.  I have my opinions about him.  Not harsh ones.  I think he was a decent enough fellow who tried his best.  MHO was that he was a book guy, an academic, a fellow better suited to sitting in a small room with a window and a stack of books, making sure things were in order from behind the scenes.

True, he suffered from the Earle Bruce syndrome   Earle Bruce?  He was the football coach who replaced Woody Hayes at Ohio State back in the late 70s.  Hayes was one of the iconic figures in the history of college sports.  Charismatic, a violent temper, over the top theatrics, a keen mind and passion for the academic well-being of his students at a time when that wasn't necessarily vogue, and a flare for the controversial  made him much loved and much hated, but well known.  He also won games.

When he was fired for punching a player, Earle Bruce took over.  Bruce was not Hayes.  Quieter, a bit stocky in appearance, he replaced Haye's trademark OSU baseball cap and short sleeves with a fedora and suit.  He was a good coach.  In fact, he could have been great.  And  yet, he wasn't Hayes.  He just wasn't Hayes.  And that did him in.  By 1987, he was gone. Just like George HW Bush wasn't Reagan.  Benedict just wasn't John Paul II.

He seemed, at times, again IMHO, to be in over his head.  He really wanted to convey beautiful truths, but seemed unable to do so without something going haywire.  Scandals began to emerge, and the world became increasingly impatient with the apparent lack of decisive steps to remedy the years of abuse and scandal that have defined the modern Church.  Internally there appeared to be issues.  And in the end, well, he just wasn't John Paul II, Superstar.

When he made the historical decision to resign his post, to be honest, I wasn't that surprised.  Things were not getting any better, that's for sure.  If there were signs of hope in some cases, in others there were clearly indicators that the wheels needed some grease.

And so now we have Francis I.  The reason I spent most of this post about Francis I talking instead about Benedict XVI, or John Paul II, or Woody Hayes and Earle Bruce, is because I don't know that much about our new Pope.  Heck, I don't know anything at all.  I think - think mind you - that I've heard some stories that referenced him in recent years.  It seems to ring a bell that he stood against the push for gay marriage in Argentina.  But that's about it.

So I don't really have that much to say.  I'm not going to damn or defend the man.  I'm not going to stake my ground now, and then spend the next however many years doing back flips and gymnastics to make sure that no matter what he does or says, and no matter what I've praised or defended, it all must line up.  I'm not going scream that he's either a pock mark on the Church or the most super-de-duper Pope we've ever had.  I'm going to wait.

Since he comes from a place not in the comfortable West, not in a culture where ethical debates are often as academic as they are urgent, I'm betting there will be some different spins on some old assumptions.  Since he's from a real 'gun-in-the-face' background, I'm wagering that some Catholics may be hard put to keep where they've been and where we'll go.  But I could be wrong. We'll just have to see.  I will give him kudos for picking St. Francis, my own patron saint who was instrumental for my own Catholic conversion.  Again, I'm not about to say 'I know nothing of this new Pope, but anyone who says thus or this is stupid or evil or doesn't know about Jesus.'  For now, I'm content with sitting back and letting things unfold.

Hating on America in the Catholic Blogosphere


Mark Shea posts on the recent reaction of the Cuomo's to Pope Francis I.   The basic take is that this is typical NE liberal elitism.  Read the article and conclude for yourself.  But what I found fascinating is some of the comments on Mark's page.  This:
I see the Cuomo reaction as another indication of the tendency to see the US as having the right to police the world, as well as eliminating the leaders of countries when they disapprove of the choice (remember Allende and Pinochet?) . Now they decide that the Catholic church is fair game too – when are they going to organize a military coup in order to get a Pope to their liking? (emphasis mine)
And this:
It is sad that so many are simply ignorant of U.S. foreign policy and its effects in so many places throughout the world, especially Latin America. But hey, why inform yourself when your living off the benefits of Empire? So the ignorance and the exaltation of the U.S. centric view continues.
Jumped out at me.  Mark's site has become one of the rallying points for Catholics Who Hate America.  Really.  There is an entire swath of the Catholic internet that hates, and I mean hates, the United States.  Whether it's Catholics here or Catholics abroad, hating on the US is almost a sacramental badge of honor.

None of this is to say the US isn't above reproach.  And goodness knows, it's not as if we're heading in the right direction.  But let's be honest.  There's a difference between someone who criticizes something because they care, and someone who criticizes to buttress contempt and hatred.  

These are not folks saying that this or that US policy is bad, or even that the US is heading in the wrong direction.  These are people who speak of the US the way the US used to speak about the USSR, or in the war years, Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan.  The US, in no particular case, is simply the blame.  The cause.  The problem.  There's an assumption that the US just is - evil, rotten, the reason for problems, inferior.  Read those quotes again.  These aren't thoughtful statements that say 'in this case, America has certainly been wrong.'  These are statements that basically say evil is in the nature of America, and the world's sufferings are the direct result.

Why did they attack us on 9/11?  America made them hate us.  Why does Latin America struggle?  Because of US policies.  Why are there tensions in Asia?  The US, that's why.  And on and on.  The Catholics who see things this way appear to come from different molds.  Though this is the hallmark of America and European liberalism (you don't get change until you convince people that things are completely horrible - just ask our Founding Fathers), it's not confined to only the progressive wing of American Catholicism. Some are traditionalists, others not.  Some are American (a major problem, more on that in a minute), others are not.  But it is a unifying attitude for many across the Catholic blogosphere that the US is really a pretty rotten place, and always has been.

Now for those in other countries, what can we say?  Other countries have disliked the US for ages.  The Iraq war didn't make countries hate us, it simply gave people who hated us a valid excuse to finally express it.  But those in America?  Especially Christians, especially Catholics? I once had a professor who spoke to the issue of properly and improperly criticizing our nation.  To nothing would be wrong.  To not point out our country's failings is to deny reality.  America has done horrible things, allowed horrible things, partaken in horrible things.  Just like any nation, kingdom, empire, or civilization. 

But there's a limit.  Like anything, it should be criticism to construct, to build up, to improve.  To help right wrongs and turn the people back to the face of God.  To beat up on the US just to beat up the US, to act as if the eighth sacrament of the Holy Church, is to declare your eternal disgust with an entire nation of people, a nation with blessings and benefits you're more than prepared to enjoy.  To be stupid and blind enough to lump the US into the same mold as a Nazi Germany or USSR, is beyond the pale.  If you think it's that bad - leave.  

Unlike Nazi Germany or the USSR, you lose nothing by trashing the country.  Despite rumors to the contrary, there are no secret death camps in the Nevada deserts to which you will be whisked away by men in sunglasses driving vans with tinted windows    You can pretty much say anything about our country and, as of now, get by without a hitch. Unlike, again, other nations.  Likewise, you can leave.  If you were in Nazi Germany or the Khmer Rouge, you were screwed.  Try getting out of there.  If you labored to change, not only did you risk of injury or death, but you also had little other choice. 

In America, you can leave.  So standing about and trashing the nation day after day, declaring it bad and evil, and making no real and honest attempt to do anything other than get your pound of flesh, is a bit like having sex with a prostitute while insisting that prostitution is a sin.  You don't have to have sex with a prostitute at all, but you want that orgasm all the while making yourself feel so righteous for calling her a sinful slut.  

Why Mark's blog has become particularly popular for the 'Good Catholics Hate America' contingent  I don't know.  Mark doesn't seem to be there himself. Though I admit Mark's own tendencies have certainly shifted over the years.  One of Mark's first pieces I read that turned me on to the possibility of not being an America Hating Catholic was a rousing defense of our urgent need to respond to the 9/11 attacks.  Why we must fight!  That was its title.  It was a call for Catholics to understand why America must take up arms and defend our nation against the real and immediate threat of Islamic terrorism. 

Today, the link is disabled and the piece cannot be found anywhere.  Likewise, I noticed last year, Mark - for the first time I think - had no real kudos on Veterans Day.  Perhaps a coincidence.  I don't know.  Again, nothing wrong with criticizing the US.  Just make sure we do the same for other countries by name.  And nothing wrong with wanting to see the US improve and come closer to what God would bless upon this earth.  Just make sure that's the reason for the criticism.  Having specific criticisms of specific issues as well as solutions would go a long way in that department. 

But it's impossible not to notice that there are those across the Catholic blogosphere who, for whatever reasons, are convinced that in the annals of history, few nations have been simultaneously inferior and yet the single cause of human suffering in the way the US has.  And they do it with no apparent desire for anything to change.  There appears only the desire to condemn a country in the way that anti-Catholic bigots of old said they would.  And as I said before, we don't need to live up to negative anti-Catholic stereotypes, no matter how much we may want to. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Talk about the miracle of life

It's found in pictures like these:

"Water droplets on an insect's eyes" PIC BY IRENEUSZ IRASS WALEDZIK / CATERS NEWS
Yes, bugs.  More specifically, bugs' eyes.  But how absolutely breathtakingly awesome.  I mean, wow.  Think of the lumbering robots or the puddles of smudge that scientists brag about when they say they've "Created" something.  And all from materials already produced.  Then look at this, a mere insect.  I'm no insectphile, in fact it's my desire to avoid insects that prevents me from journeying to places I would otherwise love to travel like Africa or the Amazon.  For that matter, it's part of what made my sojourn in Florida such a drag.  The state had roaches that took flying lessons (the hot, muggy, 120% humidity was the other problem along with no real changes of the seasons).  Nonetheless, insects are part of God's interwoven plan of creation, and when you look at images like this, you just have to pause before casually grabbing that next flyswatter.


“Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
“Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
“On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Job, 38.2-7

It's pie day!

No, it's Pi day.  For the occasion the family made a maple sugar apple pie (in addition to some other homemade goodies).  For my part, allow me to link to a post by the esteemed Cracked Magazine* which sometimes seems to notice what our most brilliant leaders miss by a mile.  In this case, the observation is that all we have in our modern schools may not be brilliant and golden.  My favorite: we need more recesses.  Duh.  My wife and I noticed that with our kids.

At first we thought we were being a couple old cranks.  There's no school like our school!  But when we stopped to put it together, we had to say our kids were missing something.  From Kindergarten to fourth grade, they had about a half hour recess a day, and gym I think once a week.  In fifth and sixth grades, they had fifteen minutes of recess, and one quarter in the year, had gym every day for an hour.

When I was in school, we had gym three times a week.  In sixth grade, it moved to twice a week and then once a week with the girls.  Recesses were three: an early morning recess shortly after school began, about ten minutes.  Then the big one, after lunch, usually finishing off the 'lunch hour.'  Since we could scarf down our food pretty quickly, that usually left us around 30 or 40 minutes of recess.  Then we had a fifteen or twenty minute recess in the afternoon.

So on any given day, we had at least an hour and ten minutes of so of physical activity.  On gym days, we had over two hours.  In today's 'our kids are fat and we're going to die!' hysteria, what do they do?  Slash and hack away our kids' physical activities   In fact, my sons' intermediate school (that's fifth and sixth grade) only had fifteen minutes a day, and that in a former parking lot with two basketball hoops, all in a space no larger than a smallish gymnasium on asphalt.  Really?

That's the brilliance of our education system.  One of its biggest problems is the ideas promoted by people who just don't seem to have common sense.  Which is one reason we pulled our kids from the schools. We were tired of the system looking the problems straight in the eye, and then turning to go the opposite direction of a solution.  The other points in Cracked's observations are no less true.

*Please be aware that the article contains some pretty strong language.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A new Pope!



Now is a time for happiness, hopefulness and prayer.   The white smoke and the bells peal.  I don't know much about the man, though I've heard some things through news accounts from Argentina over the years.  I look forward to learning more.  I wish him the best, and blessings for the Church through his ministry   I can't imagine what it must be to take on the burden of leadership like that   Just saying yes to a small Protestant congregation in southeastern Indiana was enough to keep me up nights.  But this.  To quote Belloq, he's no longer passing through history.  Now, Pope Francis I is history.  May God bless him and keep him and let his face shine upon him. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Delicious dining at the Maple Syrup Festival

Ah, the weather was grand.  A slight chill in the air and the bare trees dropping a blanket of leaves to protect from the mud.  We went to the Lutheran Memorial Camp's annual Maple Syrup festival again.  I have fond memories, as I've said in the past.  This was our school camp when I was growing up. Not only did every 6th grade class go during the first week of November, but different grades came here through the years for different reasons.  My first trip, I believe, was in the second grade, where we went to see the old maple syrup shack to see how it's done.

Today, they import most of the sap.  Much of the syrup is from local producers, though not from the camp.  Over the years, staffing has diminished, and funds of course being what they are.  But in the day, they got the sap, processed it, made the syrup, and sold it no doubt to some pretty happy costumers   The local brands are still great, and we forked out a little extra this year, owing to the job I have.  Sure, we're still just getting by if everything goes just right and there are no unforeseen disastrous expenses.  But since we're finally at least at sea level, we thought we'd squeak in a splurge.  And ooooooh, it's worth it.  Even locally grown, that's good eating.  The pancake breakfast was particularly tasty, and we had the chance to share it with an elderly couple who came here when they were in college.  That beats my memories.

The rest of the day was just the fun that comes with hanging out with some awesome kids, a great family, a fun wife, and just the good feeling of being outdoors and seeing what God put together, rather than seeing it through the latest digital images.  The best that humans can create is still a drop in the bucket next to the simplest leaf in the great outdoors of God's canvas.

They keep me going.

What my ever patient wife must contend with.



It wasn't that tough of a journey, really.
 
No, he didn't throw the sack of syrup at me. 

We have so few pictures of our understated one.

And even fewer clear pictures of our always active youngest

Though when we get them, he always seems more serious than he is.

Talk about a kid magnet - a bridge, some leaves, a bubbling stream.

Up to the sugar shack to see how it's done.

Yep, that's real sap he's checking out; the weather was perfect this year for the output.

James O'Keefe and the Curse of God


It looks like James O'Keefe has been slapped with a 100,000 dollar fine for his video taping mission a while back.  I'm sure you remember, he would go in and pose under false pretenses to extract confessions from such places as ACORN that they were involved in truly heinous and deplorable activities - such as covering for sex slave traffickers. 

Well, Mr. Okeefe didn't read the fine print, and it turns out you can't video tape someone without their consent   There you go.  You break the law, you pay the price.  I'm OK with that.  Furthermore, I admit that the tactics of premeditated deceit and falsehoods in order to trap someone is starting off on a dangerous footing.  Better to find more honest and open ways.  You can still discover what's happening, it might just take a little more golly-gee-wiz on your part. 

Nonetheless, Mr. O'Keefe, like Lila Rose, became a lightning rod across the Catholic blogosphere, with bloggers and commenters jumping in to smack them down as the wretched sinners that they were.  Ridiculous threads erupted as some Catholics declared their willingness to stand by and let a million babies be raped and tortured to death before they would tell a white lie to save them.  

For me, it was the moment when much of the Catholic blogosphere jumped the shark.  It proved that yes, Virginia, there are Catholic fundamentalists, even if they don't act and talk like their Protestant counterparts.  Because nothing screams fundamentalist like someone willing to hamstring their own brothers for the speck in their eye, even as the brothers are attempting to extract the true logs of evil out of the eye of the world.  That happened a lot in my own Evangelical tradition.  I can't tell you how many times someone with the best of intentions threw up their hands and gave up because they might have done something wrong, and it was the failure, rather than all the best intended efforts, that everyone chose to focus on.

Even that wouldn't be so bad if those who decide to unleash the gates of Hell on an eye's speck aren't then typically inclined to want to ignore whatever logs are in their own eyes. That James O'Keefe lied is a sin for the ages, and proof of how horribly sinful all those other Catholics are who don't see his vile failings.  When I sin, of course, it's nothing of the sort.  I sin with the best of intentions   I expect nothing but grace, mercy and understanding when my sins are forgiven by the Almighty.  That James O'Keefe may have sinned with the best of intentions, of course, is beside the point.

Now that Mr. O'Keefe has been fined, I expected some in the Catholic blogosphere to rise up and say 'HA!  That'll show you!'  Even though the verdict had nothing to do with the sin that outraged the Catholic blogosphere, it would be enough to say the Curse of God is upon him for sinning in not the way I sin!  It could just as easily have been 'James O'Keefe got run over by a dump truck   HA!  That'll show you!'  

And yet, all this just went by me as nothing other than what I expected.  When I saw the headline, I knew that some bloggers would react the way they reacted.  But what did shock me is finding out that places that only recently sang the mercy and forgiveness and understanding for the late, great Hugo Chavez, now find themselves removing all quarter from their take on O'Keefe's fortunes.  Really?  So we praise God because Chavez died in the bosom of Mother Church, we pray for Chavez, and we look at Chavez as a victim of vile and contemptible right wing nut jobs in America who don't know how to be truly Catholic, but we crow over the unrelated punishments of O'Keefe in order to send a message?

I know, I know.  I would be told that nobody was saying Chavez was a great guy.  We're just wanting O'Keefe to follow the straight and narrow.  We all want the mercy of God for ourselves.   But when stepping back and looking at the big picture, I just can't help but say there is certainly a disconnect with my understanding of right and wrong, and grave sin and venial sin.  I can't help but wonder if we're losing perspective, and beginning to pull a Col. Nicholson, prepared in our own righteousness to swallow a camel in order to show why those other Catholics are so wrong for straining gnats incorrectly.  I could be wrong, but at least as it seems to play out in the words and emphases in certain blogging segments. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sandra Fluke update

Just checking in to see if everyone has been able to get their lives back together after the media outrage from her statements comparing tax supported birth control and leukemia.  We know how those media outrage cycles go.  Sometimes it can almost wear you out when the media latches onto something, like a politician comparing homosexuality to a disorder or suggesting that some rapes may not be rapes at all.  Whew.  No doubt our heads are all still spinning from the just and reasonable outrage that the media displayed in their coverage of this out of the ballpark half loony/half evil idea that one's sex life is as important as a leukemia patient fighting for life.  What's that?  No you say?  You're trying to convince me that there was no media outrage and daily round table discussions expressing unified outrage?  Really?  That would almost suggest that the media is biased.  Heck, it might almost suggest that most in our modern media are about the post-Christian notion that drugs, sex, and bathroom humor are the only rights we have, that everything else is unimportant, and therefore unworthy of being protected as a right.  I think you go too far.

Blessed are the poor Catholics

I just thought I'd throw that out there as a reminder to the Catholic Church that not everyone has the money it takes to be a devoted Catholic.  Next week, my boys' youth group is going on a retreat that my boys are not going on.  Why?  Because we couldn't afford it.  I know, I know.  They would give me the money if I asked.  And up to now, in past times I have done just that.  Though there seems to be a break down on paying for PSR, but that's a different issue.

As it is, their youth group is going on retreat   A year ago, some youth went on a trip to Italy.  Know what? My boys didn't.  Why?  We can't afford it, that's why.  Heck, there's a decent chance that if I were to have kept my standard of living I had before entering the Church, we still couldn't have afforded it.  And no, there were no offers to pay for those without the funds.

You know what we did in Protestant circles?  First, we made sure that anything we did was open to everyone.  Not just the well-to-do.  Second, when it involved funds or expenses, we raised the money.  The kids had to wash cars, work at people's houses, raise the money themselves.  All of them equally.  Then the congregation would find a way to match, or through donations pay, a certain balance.  That way no kid was set in the 'you're too poor so here's the money' category, as opposed to those kids with rich parents who don't need the help.  I know, it is likely behind the scenes.  But still, I know churches.  People talk.  Things get around.  And it's enough to remind the kids by virtue of what is needed anyway.

This doesn't even include the uber-trips like Italy or the Holy Land that just don't have options.  Let the adults do that, but don't do it for the kids.  Don't separate the kids into sheep with money and goats without before they're even out of high school.

Do I seem a bit pissed off, maybe resentful and jealous?  Perhaps.  Maybe I am.  But it's not jealousy toward the people with the money.  That's fine and dandy.  I'm not one who thinks large bank accounts leadeth unto perdition. It's the fact that it's my Church doing the categorizing.  It's being the standard bearer of 'blessed are the poor, for they shall stand over there' that's the problem.  The Catholic Church has a long, age old reputation for wallowing in wealth while the poor of the world grovel in the mud and dirt.  Remember what I've said about avoiding stereotypes?

If our parishes want to go to wonderful events for our youth  that's great!  Just find a way to make sure all can go together, without the need to stand up and say 'I need help since my family isn't as rich as yours.'  And if the answer is 'but Dave, there's no shame in being poor', let me remind the Church it shouldn't be the Church's youth policies and programs that force the confession in the first place.  Programs for adults?  Sure, why not.  But kids shouldn't be shown by the Church that with money comes soother paths to the child born in a manger.