Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where's the Catholic?

Some may have noticed that the subheading of my blog is Dave Griffey's CATHOLIC musings... Well, some may ask where the heck is the Catholic part of the musings. The answer is all around. It's in my answers. It's the canvas upon which I try to pain my worldview. The lens through which I understand reality. I am not an apologist. That's too dangerous for me. A wise professor in my Protestant seminary days challenged us to be great apologists, or don't be apologists. The temptation to exploit the faith to drive home preferences, to use it to browbeat others, or sometimes simply to misunderstand things (no one knows everything about every subject in the faith) is to great. So I simply go another direction.

That's not to say I don't feel I have any insights. I've studied theology from a Protestant POV for almost 20 years, and have been studying history for over 30. I've taught history, Bible, theology, and Church history. I've also been a pastor, and have approached the faith from a more pastoral side, seeing the faith not merely as some path to salvation through the logically superior adherence to philosophical algorithms. Rather, I see it as a journey toward an eternal relationship with the living God. I, like anyone, should be prepared to give an account for my hope in Christ Jesus. Naturally, I think there are times when a straight discussion of the Church, the Catholic Faith, or Christianity is in order. But as often as not, it is seeing the world and reflecting on the paths I believe we are going, born of a concern founded on the teachings of the Catholic Faith as well as I understand it, that shows up.

Personally, I could care less about homosexuality. I never thought it was the natural human way, because I never believed - even as an agnostic - that humans were merely glorified animals and could appeal to the animal kingdom to justify our desires. But I could personally care less. But as a Catholic who believes based on the Catholic Faith that morality is not open to my subjective opinions, I must therefore be concerned with the militant and fanatic zealotry to suppress the opinions and beliefs of those who do not conform to the dogmas of the gay rights movement.

Likewise, abortion rights. Even as an agnostic, I got squeamish thinking that human life could be so cheaply and lightly defined at a woman's personal whim. I also noted that most talk about abortion was about rape and incest, yet most of it happened in the realm of convenience. In addition, most kids I knew in college who supported it did so in order to get laid without fear of inconvenient babies interfering with the cocktail hour. Such a cheap and shameful manipulation of the definition of human life - abortion in order to have care free libido satisfaction - almost made Hitler's master race theory seem to be half way honorable, if that were ever possible.

And yet, I still didn't care. Let the world burn if it wants to, what a woman wants to do is her business, not mine. But as a Catholic I cannot so lightly toss aside inconvenient immorality. For it is not mine personally, but God's eternal Truth that is at stake. So I must have opinions, be involved, and do what I can for the least of these in the service of promoting the Good News of Christ Jesus.

So the things I post are Catholic musings, because I am Catholic. And because many of the things I write about and post about are from my Catholic beliefs, my Catholic life, and my commitment to try to live more and more based upon the teachings of the Catholic Church. And the things that catch my attention are those which threaten the Truth as I believe it, or threaten to place me or my children between conforming to some godless philosophy, or obeying the Truth of Christ as revealed through His Church.

So don't expect long apologetic treatises, though I will toss some out here and there. Expect more my observations on a culture dying, spinning out of control, and quickly on a path toward putting those who would be loyal Americans and faithful Christians on a collision course. Observations from years of pastoral care and decades of studying various historic, theological, and cultural issues. This is why I have this blog, to sort things out. Others are more than welcome to join in and comment as they see fit. I will no doubt learn from their insights and questions. But I must do all of this because I know it won't be me, or anyone old enough to read this blog who will be effected. It will be my children and their children who will pay the price of our contemporary crisis - as is always the case.

The MSM's growing Child Abuse scandal

Disgusting. The MSM is all agaga over NY governor candidate Paladino threatening to 'take out' a reporter from the New York Post, the paper that recently reached into a 10 year old's life and dragged her out into the streets as Paladino's love child. Call me old fashioned, but if he did 'take him out', I would probably vote for him. Somewhere along the line, we decided that kids were fair game. I know for a fact that when Chelsea Clinton went to college, the MSM spent days and weeks assuring themselves and others (like Talk Radio) that she - an adult college student - was nonetheless off limits, as all children of politicians should be. That's fine with me. I think they should be off limits, and I think that applies to them even if their parents bring them on the campaign trail. After all, it's still their parents doing it. Even pretending that we give a damn about kids (which moderns typically don't if it gets in the way of our agendas), we should agree that the kids have done nothing wrong.

But somewhere since the late 90s, we've seen a gradual shift. When Bush's daughters were outed for their partying ways, we were assured this was because they had allegedly violated the law, and after all, they were adults. When Sarah Palin's daughter and baby were raped by the Leftist press, we were suddenly told the media has always gone after the kids - as if the Internet doesn't exist and we can't remember more than ten years. Besides, when folks like dirty old man Letterman threw out sexually suggestive jokes about Bristol, we were told she was an adult now (or almost), so who cared.

But now the age is down to ten. Of course, this doesn't count all those wonderful bloggers and radicals on the Left who threw endless insults against Palin's special needs baby. But then, this is the radical left. Expecting any love for babies from that group is expecting a vote for Obama from Sean Hannity. The hatred of Palin was all consuming, and any close to her were fair game.

But this isn't Palin, who it is OK to hate. This isn't Palin, who it is OK to hate her kids. This is another politician. Truth be told, science has yet to invent a measure for my indifference to New York politics. But when I see the MSM becoming comfortable in their own skin relative to exploiting children for their political and social agendas, I think it's time for folks to put down the papers, turn off the channels, and say we can do better by listening to the gossip at the diner downtown.

George Lucas is the Memory Terminator

He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop - Ever! - until every last remnant of nostalgia for his 1977 masterpiece is dead.

Is Bill Maher Real?

So I watch Bill Maher on Bill O'Reilly last night (Sept. 29, 2010). For me, it's like getting two teeth drilled since I happen to feel both of these fine gentlemen represent much of what's wrong in our modern arena of debate. Not that you can't be straight forward about opinions, or say you think this or that is wrong. But listening to them talk, you have to wonder if it's all a scam for ratings and money. Do these two (and others) really believe what they say? Surely they can't believe all of it.

Take Maher. O'Reilly asks him to admit that there are extremists on both sides of the debate. That's obvious, as any group, ideology, movement or anything has it's bad apples. Maher's response? No way! There are only extremists on one side, the Right. I tried to see if he was smirking when he said it, but couldn't tell. That would be like saying 'No way! The world is too flat!' Who could believe him? Yet how many do believe him, and others in our media, simply because they are on 'Our Side (TM)'? I would like to think Maher was being facetious, or obnoxiously sarcastic, but a little voice can't help but think he isn't. One of the great coups of the Left has been it's insistence that liberalism is not a belief, but the TRUTH. It could be he actually believes that anyone on his side of the debate is incapable of extremism. It's one of the differences between the modern "conservative" and "liberal" movements. If that's so, then there should be no excuse for clear thinking and free thinking individuals to listen to him any more than they would listen to someone insisting there really wasn't a moon landing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A world that I shall never know

It's going to be a different world in a hundred years, that much we all know. Good or bad we cannot say. But it will be like nothing we or our children can imagine.

The New Paganism

An interesting take on why Christians should worry about art house films attempting to portray Christianity with all the love that German films from the 1930s portrayed Jews. The basic focus of this little film called Agora is that stupid and evil Christians slaughtered a calm and wonderful pagan thinker who, like all pagan society, was concerned with lofty notions of peace, love, joy,harmony, and Utopian paradise. Of course Christianity is ever about ignorance, bigotry, hate and violence that puts and end to that society of love.

You would think since we have the Internet and the Internet makes us smarter, we would have nothing to worry about from such dribble. But then, you would think Oliver Stone wouldn't be allowed in a studio's doors after his deplorable rape of historic facts. Truth is, the more time we spend on the Internet, the less we know that's actually true. Oh, we know more. But how much is accurate? Look at how many believed Dan Brown's The DaVince Code was accurate. That would be akin to believing the Ku Klux Klan has some valid points. And yet, it caught the wave of acceptable societal bigotry, and millions believed it.

There is a reason why so many modern, predominantly left leaning outlets promote things like this, and why Agora has become the new darling of liberal entertainment commentators. The post-modern left is, essentially, a return to paganism. A world where we rely on our passions, turning to strength and force (even if it is the strength of the courts and the academy) to put down all who stand in our way of indulging in our base desires. Meanwhile, like our real, historic pagan forebears, we are adopting a much more relative notion of just what is and isn't worthwhile human life. Abortion, euthanasia, thinning the overpopulated herds, quality of life over sacredness of life - all of these things existed in primitive forms in the ancient world, and are becoming the building blocks of post-modern paganism. The irony, of course, is that those who insist we really don't know what pagans were like since we learned most of it from evil Christian propaganda have, unwittingly, shown us exactly what it was by living it now.

By the way, I needn't point out that Agora, like most modern films, is filled with inaccuracies mixed with fact.

American Christians don't know diddley about religion?

A new study (take it for what it's worth) suggests that Americans, particularly Christians, no little about the basics of their faith.

Some of the survey, of course, could be debatable. The section on how much believers know about the Constitution and religion suggests Americans think things are too restrictive. But this is subjective. And it may be based on news stories that suggest there are those trying to make it more restrictive than it actually is, and hence believers assuming that the restrictions either are, or will be, law in the land. So the survey, like all such attempts to categorize millions based on the answers of hundreds, no doubt has flaws. (see my medicine show post).

And of course, Catholics score at the bottom of the list in knowing anything about religion in general or their own faith in particular. This has to stop. I know folks say it's not the Church's job, but yeah, it actually is:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
But there's more to the results than our illustrious media might guess. Religion is, in the end, a world view and approach to living. It is not an academic exercise. It is not a scholarly treatise on how we understand the world. Did it surprise me that atheists and agnostics scored so high? No. I learned quite a lot about religions as an agnostic, but not to become more religious. Or even to learn from them. I merely wanted to find all the little tidbits that validated my unbelief.

Many, if not most, secularists who study all about religion do it for one reason: to justify not believing. Hence, they are merely looking for everything they can to justify not accepting what they've learned about. Imagine Rush Limbaugh. I would venture to say he knows more about Obama's policies, history, background, and experience than half the people who voted for him. That means what? That Rush Limbaugh is smarter? That Rush Limbaugh must be the official authority to approach for any information about Obama? No, he finds out what he finds out to reinforce what he already believes.

In addition, many who are religious see it as a life, not a series of textbooks. To them, it's more important that they give that cup of cold water, they feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those imprison. It's the living it that counts, not the scholarly comprehension. To put it bluntly, which is better: having a completely academic understanding of sex, or actually experiencing it?

That they can't answer some basics about their faith, or the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is of little concern. Especially if they feel they've discovered the Truth for living. After all, if one discovered a cure for cancer, would we ridicule them for not continuing to study other remedies? Even if we believed the other remedies just as effective? They already have a cure. In addition, the idea that one must study all religions and know all about all religions comes from a society whose basic belief about all religions is that they are all wrong.

This is not to say I think Christians should be uneducated. Far be it. I believe because of the increasing hostility toward the Christian faith, and the inroads made by other faith traditions, it would do us well to learn about those faiths and their histories, both the good and bad. Also, we should know better the basics our our beliefs. When almost half of Catholics don't know what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, when Evangelicals believe that their tradition teaches we get saved the old fashioned way - by earning it, then there are problems. Christians should understand their faith as much as atheists don't understand their own faith in atheism. By doing so, it will help us, as Peter says, always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is in us.

Speaking of Homosexual propoganda

We went to our county fair last week. One of the booths sported our local Gay Straight Christian Alliance. I stayed for a minute and looked things over. One of the signs caught my eye, a large poster with the bold letters: The Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality.

Having spent years studying the Bible, including Greek and Hebrew, I was shocked to see something I imagined most people knew to be false. I assumed by now most Christians who wanted to accept homosexuality simply dismissed the Bible as unimportant nowadays, or took the Leftist tendency of abusing critical scholarship to jettison any pesky verses that don't say what we know they should have said.

But leaning on this archaic approach from the earliest days of conforming Christian teaching to homosexuality intrigued me, so I read on. I won't go into each and every argument, but one stopped me where I was. It dealt with Paul's letter to the Romans. Here is the passage in question:

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

The translation they used had the term 'dishonorable.' From there, the argument was that while Paul was arguing that it was dishonorable, it was not the same as sin. Sin was different. Dishonorable, while not great, was not sin either.

Now I could spend eighteen pages with this one, including analyzing the Greek terms and whether this or that would work. I could also point out that the reference was taken woefully out of context of Paul's overall point: addressing the friction between Jewish and Gentile believers. In light of this, it's almost impossible not to see Paul's message as one of sin leading to eventual repentance without any pit stops of 'bad but not sin' along the way.

But what struck me the most is that this argument hinged on the idea that we in America in 2010 would have no problem accepting something dishonorable as no big deal. I realize that in the world of Honor Killings, and tales of suicide planes in WWII, and fanciful tales of Asiatic terrors visited upon the unknowing Richard Chamberlain all in the name of honor, some may have the unfortunate notion that honor always produces bad, but never produces good.

Looking at our country, it's not difficult to imagine that more and more people see honor this way. And yet, that is something that has been peddled to our nation of hedonistic narcissism in order to validate a nation of hedonistic narcissism. Nothing to kill or die for, Lennon wrote. Really? Nothing to die for? What's that mean? We have a gut reaction of admiration for those who give their lives for others. For firefighters and policemen running up the Twin Towers when everyone is is running down. For the person who gives their life saving a child from a fire. For the soldier giving the final sacrifice for his country.

And yet consciously, we attempt to surround ourselves with lame and baseless notions that honor is a thing of the past, best put out on the back porch with the butter churn and the Bible. How else can we validate a world in which we put ourselves first, and the rest of the world second? How else can we say the world can burn if I don't get what I want? How else can we tell kids to give their parents the big middle finger while telling parents they must give their kids everything all the time? That we can do, say, live, and be anything we want, the rest of the world be damned?

If anything bothers me about homosexuality, it's so much duplicity and flagrant oppression of facts in order to promote it. The idea that an argument for it had to rely on a modern notion of honor that, from a causal glance, has brought so much devastation and harm to our society, is just one more nail in the coffin. Of course the Bible says and assumes homosexuality is outside of normal, outside of natural, and therefore an affront to the Creator of human nature. That has been the universal understanding of the behavior form the beginning of time. Even societies that allowed it did so as an extracurricular activity, never one around which the social family unit was built. Having to ignore facts such as these, to twist biblical passages and ignore data that portrays the lifestyle in less than stellar terms is bad enough. But when I must accept as normative something that is only normative to our shame, that honor is no big deal anymore and should never be confused with sin (which is, in liberal circles, usually defined as rejecting liberal beliefs and priorities), I'm afraid it has gone too far.

American television is so gay

Yes, Reuters publishes a story praising our television industry's efforts in promoting the gay lifestyle. The bi-sexual lifestyle. The transgender lifestyle. And pretty much any lifestyle other than the traditional Christian lifestyle. This is surprising how? The only way it's surprising is that it has taken so long. One of the driving forces behind the acceptance of homosexuality has been the entertainment industry's advancement of the lifestyle. Much in the way Ozzie and Harriet attempted to use the medium to uplift an ideal vision of the American family, the modern industry does the same thing. When it talks of "accurate portrayals", that doesn't mean it deals with the overwhelming numbers of homosexuals who come from abused backgrounds, or who suffer emotional and psychological problems, or the staggering amount of drug addiction or STDs, not to mention AIDS and other serious infections within the male homosexual community. Nah. It portrays them as no different than Ozzie and Harriet at worst, superior to them in every way at best. So this story, while interesting in a 'what kept them' sort of way, is otherwise no more shocking than finding out that football franchises spend unusual amounts of money promoting football.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is Alan Grayson a Jerk, or simply clever?

Alan Grayson is, in my opinion, an obnoxious jerk. I'm not one to say all politicians are evil, stupid, corrupt, or anything like that. I admit that politics is a practical profession, and therefore can quickly drag people down. And I know that politicians are political, often because we the voters wouldn't vote for them if they weren't. Still, the inefficiency, the deplorable state of our nation, the continued sniping and petty bickering and obvious concern for party loyalty and reelection over the well being of the country makes the overall world of politics in America today seem pretty dismal.

So it's always amazing when a single person can arise to take an already negative situation and make it worse. Alan Grayson is that kind of a man. A Democrat relishing in the fact that he can say to Republicans what Republicans would never - ever - get away with saying to Democrats, he has shown himself to be everything that one-dimensional attacks on all politicians attempt to portray. Now, I can deal with him insulting and acting like a spoiled brat six year old on a kindergarten playground who wants everyone to play his way. Nothing in any of his interviews has suggested I should expect anything else.

But this latest attack bothers me. Many are bothered because he has compared his opponent to terrorists. Well, that's not the first time it's been done, and probably won't be the last from either side. What bothers me is that he took a part of a talk given by his opponent, Dan Webster, and flagrantly edited it to make it appear as if he is saying something he didn't. Webster, in effect, was telling religious men not to take passages in the Bible out of context, such as wives submit to your husbands. Rather, Webster admonished, we should look to the broader picture that emphasizes love for the wife the way Christ loved His Church.

Grayson's people took the sliver of 'wives submit to your husbands' and splashed it on the ad to suggest this was Webster's own view, when obviously it was the polar opposite of what Webster was saying. Even MSNBC threw a towel down on that one. But Grayson was defiant. Why? Because I have a feeling that Grayson has tapped into a reality in our culture that he has every intention of exploiting.

In the modern age, when we can easily see that Grayson and his people have lied, edited, and by implication, falsely accused his opponent, I think Grayson doesn't care. He has to know that many who will support him don't care either. In fact, he must know we live in a society where an increasing amount of people don't care about anything but their agendas being advanced, and their side winning. Grayson also must know that the press will, at best, give lip service to the problem, for he is on their side. Sure, FOX News will fuss, but that's only aimed at those who wouldn't listen to Grayson anyway. So Grayson continues to defend the indefensible for anyone with a concern for honesty, meaning few who appear to be in our culture today.

Despite AT&T's insistence that the Internet makes us smarter, I'm beginning to wonder. It seems to merely be a place were we buttress the truths we are willing to accept. And the more we are willing to ignore lies, the more we are willing to hedge ourselves with walls of conformity to preexisting biases, the less concerned our politicians, or professors, or even preachers will be about telling us the whole truth. After all, they will learn that telling us what we want to hear, no matter how flagrantly false, is what we really want in the first place.

It could never happen in America!!!

File this under 'not yet anyway'. Four evangelists were arrested for trying to witness to Muslims at a Muslim festival in - wait for it - Michigan. That's right, arrested for doing what Christians believe Christ commanded us to do. Of course the jury came back and said no way, they are innocent. So we're not at the place other countries like England are, or Canada is trying to reach. But it's a baby step. Already at sites like Huffington Post, there are many who praise such actions as arresting preachers who speak out against modern norms like homosexual rights. And as I've mentioned many times, we have such esteemed dignitaries such as Barry Lynn saying that only right religions should enjoy total freedom and access to the public forum.

Naturally, in our usual wishy washy self emasculation, many will point out that societies have always drawn the line between what is and isn't acceptable religious practice. Call me silly, but saying religions can't practice human sacrifice is something I accept. Saying that religions can't preach what liberalism rejects is not. Because I am biased, and believe there is a real Truth in the universe that says humans shouldn't be sacrificed while we should be able to proclaim the Gospel. Does that mean I want the laws to reflect my views? Sure. Does that mean I'm being a hypocrite for not wanting others to desire the same? No, it means I'm honest. If they just would come out and admit what is obvious, that they want the laws to protect and promote their Truths and punish those outside, that's fine. Though I still believe a society that outlaws human sacrifice and allows all religions to freely proclaim their message is superior to one that demands all religions conform to only one message as allowed by the government. But that's just me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A reminder that we are made in God's image

Before I go to tend to business, I'll leave folks with this beautiful story about a school coming together to do the right thing. A touching story, and God bless this man and his family. Lord give Carl Defoe and his family peace and strength that they can prepare as he will to enter that eternity in the grace and blessings of the Father. It's stories like this, mentioned all too seldom, that define what it means to be made in the image of God. No scientific theory can explain it, only the fact that there is a divine spark in us that causes us to come together to give that helping hand.

We lost a tree!

So this will be our pet project for the next day or so. We can't complain. The entire tree fell yet not fence, nor neighbor's shed, nor a single plant in our garden was crushed or destroyed (note the trunk balanced somehow on the fence just right, and when it broke, the part that fell landed mere inches from the nearest pepper plants):

We'll chalk that up to a big "thank you God!", and count our blessings. Still, it requires some attention on our part, so I'll be back Monday! See all you folks, casual readers and visitors alike! Blessings and good fortune come your way.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rooted in the past

I admit that I, and my family, can get frustrated by the Catholic Church. By all accounts, we are in a diocese that is none too friendly to former Protestant Clergy converts. As a result, my main qualifications that I spent almost fifteen years of my adult life building are null. Times being what they are in the rest of our nation's economy, being a former Protestant Clergy gets you about as far as being a former, unrepentant axe murderer. So it's with a certain amount of irritation that we struggle to make it month by month knowing that opportunities exist in the Church just down the street, and knowing that, at least in many avenues throughout our diocese, no one cares. Or if they care, it's to make sure that folks with a back story like mine remain on the outside looking in - at least employment-wise (this is not true when it comes to various annual financial appeals).

So why stay? Why remain when we are barely eking by, watching savings dwindle, watching our children's lives pass before us knowing there are so many things we had hoped to do with them but can't? Well, because in the end, I believed that the Catholic Faith was true. That's what brought me in. I didn't come in because of the job prospects. Truth be told, I only knew that priests had any jobs at all, couldn't be married, and since I was married to a wonderful wife of almost seventeen years, could not get a job in the Church. So I didn't expect anything anyway.

Did I hope something would happen? Sure. Did I expect to make this major life-altering move on the eve of the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression? No. That's why I don't gamble. That's also why I came in when I did. I merely followed through on a decade of growing difficulties believing in the Protestant approach to the Christian faith. As a former agnostic, I put aside the narcissism and hedonism that defined so much of modern American life. I wasn't willing to go back because I had an overwhelming belief in God as revealed through Jesus Christ. But the Protestant essentials - faith alone, Scripture alone, the existence of a thousand different denominations - all made me question the basis of the faith in which I found myself. Was I believing in something that had eternal roots? Or was I just following this or that religious leader who had the most charisma and the best arguments?

When I released the answer to the questions, I was given a choice: leave the Christian faith, or look for alternatives. Well, outside of Protestantism, the options for continuing in the Christian faith are limited. Either make my own denomination - which is becoming increasingly popular in a post-denominational landscape. Or look back young man. Look to the past. Look to, of all things, the historic faith as manifested in the Catholic/Orthodox traditions.

Obviously I did. And obviously I came to the conclusion that the historic faith is what was missing in my Protestant experience of Christianity. A faith rooted, with documents and proof to back it up, in more than just modern American life, historic American life, post-Renaissance Western Europe, or any one thing. It found its roots at the beginning, at the feet of Jesus who told Peter 'Upon this rock I will build my Church.'

Realizing that, I made the crazy and stupid decision to drop everything and come into the Church. Now, had I known a little more about how many full time pastors actually become Catholic (versus part timers, or non-pastoral ministers with outside incomes), I might have handled things differently. But I wouldn't have changed much, for I wanted my children to grow in the faith along with my wife and me. So no matter what, no matter how frustrating, I have to pause and remember why I came into the Faith in the first place. Not because of promises of wealth and prosperity. Not even because someone said I might get a job. But because I believed the Catholic Faith was True, the Truth, the prism through which reality is properly interpreted. Therefore, I must be patient, and prayers will be appreciated.

What is a Super-Narrative? Part II

So a narrative is the story we use to make sense of things, and against which we interpret events. Even if we don't know the facts, we don't have to know them since we are already sure about how the story unfolds. Narrative.

A Super-Narrative, then, is when the narrative has become so firmly entrenched that it isn't just believed without evidence. It is believed even when evidence shows it is wrong. When we know the evidence, see the evidence, and yet, despite it all, there is no way in God's green earth we will accept anything other than the narrative we have come to accept.

So the narrative of the Western Progressive movement, finding its full flowering in the ideals of Multi-Culturalism, is that the Christian Western Tradition was in all ways flawed, inferior to any and all other cultures, and the singular cause of problems in the world. People may have done things wrong in other parts of the world, but this fact is handled one of two ways. Either they did wrong because the West got in there and messed things up and made them do it. Or, it wasn't really 'wrong' because it was just their thing. For us to say it was wrong is to make an ethnocentric value judgement without any justification.

This has been going on for some time, and we can't just blame those rascally hippies from the 60s. Though it would find its most powerful expressions in the age of mass media of the television era. Nonetheless, its roots go back to the Reformation, when Protestant reformers were more than happy to take the problems in the Catholic Church (and boy were there problems), and multiply them beyond all reality, insisting that the entire history of the Church had been one long, sad tale of horror and unspeakable sin. Since then, taking the traditions we don't want to the woodshed has been a popular way of getting newer, revolutionary ideas across.
As much as I'm proud to be an American, am proud of the Revolution and our Independence, and admire and celebrate our Founding Fathers, I have to be real. They took issues about taxes and about restrictions on their abilities to bring in the big bucks and made them into a cosmic struggle between the Force and the Dark Side. And it goes on today. That's the power of the narrative. That's when the narrative takes over, and you can start reinterpreting everything in light of that: English Oppression, Catholic Corruption, American racism - you name it.

But what happens when the evidence starts to stack up against the narrative? What happens when people look back and start asking questions about the past? Defending a narrative based on the past actually isn't hard, since most of history is based on interpretation anyway. It takes certain assumptions to study and interpret history, and you can just smack people down if they challenge the narrative. What do you mean there was no Indian Genocide? Huh? I suppose you're just some American racist who worships the country like a God then, aren't you! Aren't you!!

That's good. But now, what if the evidence isn't something from the past, where dead men walked and no longer tell any tales? What happens if it's now, outside our windows, right next to us and in our living rooms? What happens if what we are seeing right now no longer fits the narrative?

One of two things could occur. We could admit the narrative might at least need some tweaking. Which is unlikely since people often take a bullet before admitting something they have founded their life's values on could be wrong. Or we can just ignore it and keep repeating the narrative in the hopes that it will stick, using any threats or smack downs to keep people from questioning the obvious. And that, my friends, is the Super Narrative. When in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we continue to just say the same thing over and over again in the hope we'll still believe it, we have passed to the world of the Super Narrative.

So, for example, progressivism. Holding disproportionate majorities in our popular media and culture, Western Progressivism is more or less secular. Modern Atheists, finding a sympathetic audience as a result, have caught the post-9/11 wave and declared that 9/11 is what religion gets you every time. Religion is always violent, and most violence is religious. Get rid of religion, and you get peace. The problem is we live after the 20th century, the least religiously motivated and influenced century in history. The bulk of the movements and wars and atrocities of that century had little to nothing to do with religion. Nations dedicated to the proposition that atheism must stay and religion go, managed to murder more people in a shorter amount of time than at any time in human history. Those are facts. Yet the modern atheist, with the help of mass media (really needed to establish a Super Narrative), simply keeps repeating over and over the meme that religion kills, atheism can save.

Another case is, of course, the clash of civilizations since 9/11. Most in America, even those not in bed with Secular Progressives, have more or less accepted the 'bad us, good them' approach. The idea that we are the mischief, and most other folks merely want peace and love and John Lennon songs. Yet, as year after year has passed, it's become more difficult to believe, hasn't it? After all, Racist Americans (TM) were supposed to rise up after 9/11 and make the streets run red with the blood of Muslim Americans. Remember that? Just like we did to the Japanese in WWII (we did it to Germans and Italians, but don't mention that since it's easier to build the Racist American narrative). Did it happen? Not really. There's been as much violence against other religions, including Christianity, as there has been against Muslims.

Consider the Mosque controversy. Yes, some of it is based on good old fashioned bigotry the way grandma used to bake it. But most seem quite reasoned and rational about it. Yes, Terry Jones, pastor extraordinaire gave the keepers of the Narrative a blast when he seemed to embrace the Racist American meme and live it out to the full. But in the end, just about every American condemned the Koran burning, and he backed down. Has the good Imam of the Ground Zero Mosque, in deference to those victims of 9/11 who have asked him to relocated, compromised? Nope. Not yet. In fact, he's said what was said to Pope Benedict a few years ago: I may not support violence, but if you do things we don't like, there will be violence and that's the end of that.

Yes, we went to two ill-planned wars, and internal divisions and rank partisanship all but hamstrung our hopes for any victory, if there was any hope at all. But despite two invasions, the biggest killer of Muslims since 9/11 has been Muslims. So much so, that support for terrorism in the Muslim world has dropped slightly in the last few years. In addition, cartoons and academic lectures have caused riots, embassies to be attacked, churches to be burned, nuns to be shot, and a continual stream of planned (and thankfully busted) terrorist attacks on American and European soil.

So, you would think somewhere folks would be saying this goes to show you the world may be more complex than we've made it in recent years. We need to rethink and re-approach how we look at the world, and make sure our efforts for peace take into account the realities, and are not based on bigotry against any side in these conflicts, including our own. You would think that, but you'd be wrong.

The media continues to insist that Pastor Terry Jones merely represented a long, sad history of American Racism and bigotry. And hundreds of millions of Muslims who still support terrorism including suicide bombing? The case after case of Muslim violence, riots, and threats? The lack of evidence of uprisings in America that has caused the death of thousand of Muslims here at home? No problem. Just ignore it. That is the miracle of the Super Narrative. Once you accept it and base your reality on it, a little thing like evidence doesn't need to get in the way. Heck, if it's to that point, you can even throw out a morsel to those who might be troubled by all this to remind them of the narrative: Muslims support terrorism you say? Well, how many Americans supported Hiroshima, tell me that buster brown! For once you are in so deep as to live by a Super Narrative, there is little hope that you, or the society that has accepted it, will ever change. Even after it's too late.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Those absolute truths we all adore

Want to know why conservatives and Christians freak out at Christmas time over the whole War On Christmas? See this little clip of our brave president rewriting one of the greatest documents in human history lest he offend modern post and anti-Christian sensitivities:

That so much influence could already be accepted in our culture is why each and every little step backwards is met with alarm by those who still dare to follow the traditional Christian faith.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Traveling medicine shows then and now

We've all seen portrayals of the old time medicine shows where the con man comes to town with a bottle of mother's little helper, slaps a skull and cross bones on it, and passes it to the ignorant yokels as the cure all and fountain of youth they were yearning for. We all guffaw at the silliness. We feel confident in our own intellectual superiority.

But not so fast. For we also have the traveling medicine show of the information age. That is, the 'clinical study.' It can be called other things, 'experts say', 'studies show', 'researches have found', but it all says the same thing: a piece of paper containing information so ultimately worthless that the only reason we believe it is because we want to believe it.

Of course, not all research is bunk, and naturally some studies can, over the years, reveal things that can be helpful to humanity. Because of that, we are inclined to be suspicious of anyone who dismisses outright the attempts to use science to help humanity. As well we should. Because, again, such endeavors can be quite beneficial. But in many ways our modern world - in which we are agenda, not principle, driven - has made these into a three-ring circus worthy of contempt, not worthy of attention from an already overwhelmed information consumer. There are three reasons why this is so.

First and most obvious, the 'research' can be easily manipulated. For whatever reason and however it is done, the variables and the results can be twisted and turned to make sure the results of the experiments say what the researchers want. Has anyone ever come out of a test and provided the media with a headline that says 'we thought X was true, we wanted X to be true, but it turns out it wasn't'? I can't think of a time. Rather, I often see tests that make me think the research is simply the parsing of an academic to prove what he or she wants to prove. Take for instance the tests showing spanking leads to violence. How often do these seem to smell? I, for one, generally avoid spanking my kids. But nothing done by these researchers is behind my decision. Every time I've seen 'proof' of spanking's violent results, I look at the tests themselves and get the strange feeling that the deck was stacked to make sure spanking looked as much to blame as possible. Plus, of course, I can't ignore the fact that youth today are more overall violent than any time in our recent past, and yet fewer people spank today than ever before. Sometimes this twisting of the facts counts on a sympathetic media and reader, willing to ignore the forest in order to find a few validating trees.

The second problem is the spin. Even if all good intentions were followed, and the tests weren't crammed into a situation where the results were a forgone conclusion, it still allows the researchers, as well as the media, to spin the results their own way. A couple years ago, headlines splattered across the media that a study had shown that 'people born int he 40s had premarital sex!' Now, that's supposed to make us think of the WWII generation, that old fashioned, gray haired Greatest Generation. And that is how it was covered. Just goes to show you one of the most important planks of the Sexual Revolution Platform - that everyone has always done it - is true. All those grandparents out there were romping in the back seat of their 39 fords like we do today.

Problem was, that wasn't true. First, the test actually found a significant drop in those who were born in 1930 who admitted to sexual relations before marriage. It wasn't until those born in 1940 were surveyed that the numbers increased. And they would be the ones who were teens in the 1950s at the dawn of the Rock Era, and in college in the 1960s. What! You mean those college kids in the 60s weren't having Bible studies! Yep. The test actually showed what common perceptions have told us - that sexually promiscuous behavior skyrocketed after the war years with the generations growing up in affluence and comfort. But since that's not what we want to believe, the researcher (just one researcher by the way), as well as the media promoted it accordingly.

Another excellent point was a study that found abstinence education was no more beneficial than comprehensive sex education in preventing certain sex related problems. The media spin? Get rid of abstinence education. Of course some clever and insightful individuals immediately asked why this was the conclusion. If one was no better than the other, why assume we should only get rid of one?

Finally, the biggest problem is we can just ignore the data when it's inconvenient. If the tests were pure, and the results clear, we can ignore them just the same. We don't know, for instance, the long term impact of same sex couples raising children. It hasn't been happening that long, and there aren't that many who have done it. We'll have to wait. What we do know is that every test ever done has said that children need both a male and female presence in their lives to grow up fully formed and exposed to everything they need to live a fulfilled life. That is almost unanimous. So how do we, a society pushing like a juggernaut to accept gay adoption, deal with this? We ignore it. We ignore decades and decades of study after study because they don't say what we want.

So those are three big reasons. There are others, of course. One is the disproportionate attention our media can give to one small crackpot researcher with an axe to grind and no real credentials other than wearing a lab coat. But in the end, what we have is the good that science could be bringing being reduced to a mere traveling side show, a joke. Something that is as useless, in the end, as the cure all medicines of yesteryear.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And the pundits pounce!

So it turns out Christine O'Donnell, who has pissed everyone off by winning in Delaware (except some optimistic Democrats), was on Bill Maher's show saying she had dabbled in the occult. Now, for my two cents, the only thing that bothers me about that is her being on Bill Maher's show. If anything ever suggested gross lapse in judgement, it would be that. But I'm in the minority, for it appears everyone is saying this shows her lack of qualifications. Upon the revelation, she canceled her planned appearances on Sunday Morning talk, giving even more ammunition to her critics. Karl Rove pounced, CNN pounced, I'm sure come tomorrow there will be a gathering not unlike hungry hyenas hovering around a corpse on the Serengeti.

But why? All she said was she had dabbled in the occult. That was then. When she was young. Oh, that's right. The one thing we learned during the Clinton Years was that every nook and cranny of a politician's life, all the way back to childhood, was fodder for political attacks. Well, actually no. What we learned was that no one had any business looking at the past of any (Democrat) politicians, and things like Character, Truth, Values didn't matter.

So why is it all that important now? Because there are two groups royally ticked off about O'Donnell and what she represents. The social liberals who, of course, hate social and religious conservatism. They are the ones that made calling Sarah Palin a bitch, whore, slut, bimbo, milf, and any one of a thousand sexist terms all the rage in the 2008 election. Not to mention calling her daughter the same, and giving nods to those who attacked her special needs baby. But what of the conservatives? Ah, there's the rub. For people have confused 'Republican' and 'Conservative' for decades. Particularly social conservative. And therein lies the problem.

Karl Rove, and many others, made a career of promising social and religious conservatives the moon and delivering nothing for almost twenty years. Now, having realized winning gets you nothing, those same voters are more than happy to hamstring the Republicans by voting for candidates who may not have a ghost of a chance. Why not? Voting for candidates who won gave them nothing all these years. Why not at least vote their conscience? If the Republican establishment wants to learn, they had better learn fast. Their 'Money above God' list of priorities does little for most people. Their only hope is in that mass of humanity increasingly worried about the tyranny of progressive secularism that they see gathering on the horizon. But the values voters are saying loud and clear they will rather go down with a clean conscience that continue throwing their principles out the window for candidates who will do nothing to help them win their most important battles. Mr. Rove, pay attention!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pope seeks to heal a 500 year old split

While the press continues to focus on the sex abuse scandal. Yes, it has been a dark cloud over the Church, and yes the Church continues to react in ways that toss gasoline on the smoldering embers of righteous anger over the disastrous legacy of abuse. But facts are facts, and in the end, the Church is no more a beacon of molestation than the rest of society that has gradually embraced the 19th century 'it's time to let sex out of the bag' approach to living.

One interesting thing, and something that makes it tough to honestly adopt the good guy/bad guy framework that the media would dearly love Catholics to accept, is the makeup of the protest. Much of the article goes to show the numbers involved in the protest, how peaceful it was, and how it casts such a shadow on the Pope's 'controversial' (note the scare quotes) visit. While there are victims of the abuse protesting, it is also mentioned that many protesting seem more interesting in the areas with which they disagree with Church teaching. In at least one sentence:

Across town, abuse victims and demonstrators opposed to the pope's stance against homosexuality, abortion and using condoms to fight AIDS

It almost seems as if some of the victims themselves are protesting Church teaching, rather than simply speaking out at the Church's abysmal handling of the crisis. All of this to show the difficulty that has plagued the scandal and its handling. For while the Church erred big time, and justice still appears to be slipping through some pretty important fingers, it can't be missed that at least a fair portion of the righteous indignation aimed at the Church has little to do with concern over the victims or even the crime, and much more to do with the all important calls for conformity that the modern progressive movement demands from every quarter of the globe.

Update: The host of a CNN media watch segment slammed a New England paper for running a story about Muslims on 9/11, then apologizing the next day. Why, the host asked, must we connect every story about Islam to 9/11? The question could also be asked why networks like CNN must connect every story about Catholicism to the priest abuse scandal, or any story about America to slavery and discrimination in its past?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Republican upstarts on the loose!

Another Republican fights the establishment. Republican establishment types continue to be baffled by voters who expect their politicians to keep their promises. A groundswell of support is happening for politicians who appear to promise less than the moon, but have every intention of delivering what they are delivering. We'll have to see what happens in November, and how it translates to a popular election. But it is interesting to watch.

What is a Super-Narrative? Part I

A narrative is the storyline we accept, that tale through which we interpret events. It's that macro-tale we tell ourselves that explains all. It can be as simple as Darwin's evolutionary explanation that comes to explain everything, or Marx's insistence that it all comes down to politics and economics. Or, more famously, Freud's insistence that it all must have to do with sex. You can see that the 19th century was awash in people who wanted to define all of reality into a single narrative model! Of course, they weren't the first, and certainly aren't the last. St. Augustine was happy to interpret the reality of the world through the lens of the Christian story of Salvation. And people today are just as happy to accept this or that super-truth that explains everything.

One, of course, is very common and popular amongst Western progressives. That is, basically, it's all the fault of the traditional Christian West. Ancient Greece was OK, and now even ancient Rome is getting a re-imagining. But once Christianity hits, it's all bigotry and racism and homophobia and anti-Semitism, and genocide, witch burnings, torture, imposed ignorance and hatred of learning - you name it. Naturally, this remains until some vague time after the Renaissance, when really super smart and loving people begin to trash the Christian faith, abandon it's bigotry and intolerance, and move toward the modern enlightened path to salvation to be found in the dogmas of Western Progressive thought.

There are many other narrative these days of course, but that's a starting point, since it's the one reinforced through our institutions of higher learning, our public school curriculum, our media, our popular culture, and the majority of anywhere else we get our stores from.

When a narrative takes shape, it becomes easy to believe anything if it fits the narrative, even if you aren't sure you've ever really studied it, or read about it, or know the details. Take, for instance, the Genocidal slaughter of the Native Americans. Well, that didn't really happen. What we do know is that Europeans may have brought smallpox with them (no doubt by accident - this is the 16th century), and infected the native peoples. Why Europeans weren't likewise hit by similar diseases is still not known (especially since popular culture portrays people in Europe at that time as filthy, mud covered messes, while American Indians are shown with buff bodies, perfect teeth, fabulous hair and great hygene). We also aren't sure it really happened that way, or if it did, the extent to which it happened. In any event, we know it wasn't intentional. And unless you are against any people ever migrating to find freedom and comfort, you can't blame the settlers for that.

Of course, many things did happened between the Europeans and the indigenous peoples. But it was complex, for neither Europeans nor the American Indians were a single culture or civilization. Rather, both were of a common racial stock, but from very different tribes, kingdoms, nations which fought, warred, and allied with one another. Over four hundred years, there was a clash as one side sought to maintain its land, even to the point of driving all immigrants away, while the other sought to take the land for itself. Tens of thousands would die on both sides, often innocent civilians on both sides, and often in horrible ways on both sides. In the end, by way of broken treaties and deception, the United States drove the American Indians off their land onto reservations. This is where it is today. That's it.

Yet it is now, even in textbooks, referred to as a genocide. What Turkey did to the Armenian Christians isn't. What Stalin did to millions of Ukrainians isn't. But the war of conquest and clash of civilizations between the United States and European settlers and the American Indians has turned into a one-side-is-evil story of an innocent, near perfect people slaughtered by the evil forces of racism and greed (and apparently biological warfare).

There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is 'racism as the only sin Americans seem able to fathom', but our post is not to trace the assumptions and biases and definitions that go behind it all. Rather, it's to point out that this treatment of American history is not so much what has led to the 'America=Evil' meme of our modern age. Rather, it is the assumption already well under way when I was young that America is a shameless nation of racist murderers whose traditions must be thrown down and rebuilt in the New Way that allows us to take such a one sided and negative interpretation of events. Even if we don't know the facts, we don't have to. We already assume the US has always been racist and evil, so being told there was this genocide is easy to accept.

That is a narrative. When the story is accepted without evidence, simply because the story has already been accepted. Next: What, then, is a Super Narrative.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Because only small minded Americans obsess about such things.

So it turns out that Egypt's official state run newspaper altered a photo of President Obama to make it appear he was walking behind Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the Middle East Peace Talks. Funny about how when right wingers fussed about how low President Obama bowed or in what way President Obama genuflected or groveled or begged or whatever, most in the MSM sneered and said such criticisms were stupid since most countries in the world no longer care about such nitpicky things. Nice to see commentators continually getting it wrong.

Is there honor among thieves?

Historically, the answer has been no. Generally, thieves have been seen as a dishonest lot. And because of this, folks have typically assumed that thieves are not only to be distrusted, but are likely to be distrustful. After all, a thief is dishonest, so why not assume everyone else is? And this got me to thinking. Obviously, as can be seen by the number of musings on this topic, the whole NYC Mosque/Koran Burning has been on my mind. Beyond the coverage, there has been something that isn't quite right. Why? Because everything we are being told is being contradicted by the very ones doing the telling.

We are told over and over, for instance, that the biggest threats to our freedom are in our own backyard. Not American Muslims, but Right Wingers, particularly of the Christian variety. If we have anyone to fear, if there is a source of percolating violence, it's there. We are told that except for a few radicals in the Islamic world who in no way represent Islam, that Muslims are peaceful, good folk who wish no ill on anyone.

We are told that Muslims have experienced threats, intimidation, ostracising, and violence since 9/11. And it's getting worse. But I'm not seeing it. I"m not seeing any more than any other religion has experienced that over the last ten years.

I'm told that this pastor in Florida who wanted to burn the Koran is scum of all scum, and merely represents that inherent bigotry and racism that has always defined America at its worse. Meanwhile, yet another release of a Pew Research survey finds that Muslims by the tens of millions support terrorism. But that should never reflect on Islam, Muslims as a whole, or any such thing.

There's a 'what am I missing' feeling, a sort of 'You sure the emperor isn't naked?' sense I get in all this. My gut feeling tells me it's because of the biases we accept about ourselves. That willingness, unique to America and the West, of seeing the worst in our own history, our own culture, ourselves.

That explains why we interpret everything that way. But why do we, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, continue on with the picture of hordes of mad and sadistic American racists butchering endless bus loads of hapless Muslims when there is no such thing? Why to we continue to say, despite evidence to the contrary, that all criticism of Islam is the result of shameless bigotry and racism and ignorance?

Well, there is the Super-Narrative answer. And that's likely true. Why in this media age where we can hear and see folks, even Pastor Jones, insist they aren't really against Islam, do we insist it's all because Americans are really just against Islam? Surely that should have some impact. But it hasn't.

And that's why I bring up the old saying about thieves not trusting because they are dishonest. Maybe it's because, in the heart of hearts of folks accusing Americans and anyone who dares criticize Muslims or Islam, those folks know their own condemnations of things like America, Christianity, Catholicism, or Organized Religion are not based on facts, data, and reality. Instead, they are really based on bigotry, agendas, and stereotypes they know to be false, but continue to promote for various reasons. Maybe the news anchors on CNN, that look at the fact that there really hasn't been much violence against Muslims in America, and then promptly tell us that Muslims had better be shaking in their boots; who assume that Americans protesting the Mosque are really a bunch of bigots because, well, they are the bigots.

Perhaps all these years, all the stories we hear about this or that Christian group, this or that traditional religious leader, this or that Christian movement, has not been because it was a story that needed covered that way (usually negative), but because of the media's own prejudice against Christianity and its traditional teachings. Maybe all these years when they assured us they had nothing against traditional Christianity, despite running shows comparing Christians who teach abstinence with Islamic terrorists, it was because they really do hate Christianity. And because of that, when they hear overwhelming numbers of Americans insist they don't hate Islam or Muslims, but do think for sensitivity's sake the Mosque should be moved, those journalists don't believe it. Because they consciously or unconsciously assume that, like themselves, the motives must be far darker and more insidious. Just a thought.

Keeping our blessings in perspective

In which we get a little help from one of history's greatest moments. In just thirteen words an entirely different way of seeing things emerges. The speech is legendary and needs no introduction. In less than two years, Gehrig would be gone, but not before he gave one of the most inspiring words in history to those living through difficult times.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Republicans yearn to keep screwing Conservatives

Karl Rove worries that conservatives may mess up a good thing for Republicans who don't care about social and religious conservatives. For over twenty years, the Republican party has spent the lion's share of its time making sure that Republican leaders could enjoy a champagne and caviar lifestyle by running offensive linemen for corporate Wall Street interests. How could such an approach help them win elections? Easy. They lied to social and religious Conservatives and told them they gave a damn about their conservative social issues. Such as the fabled 2004 election, where per the advice of crack political advisers, the issue of Gay Marriage was moved to being slightly less important than oxygen, only to throw it down the sewers once the election was over.

Well, 2008 saw a growing number of social and religious conservatives willing to vote for Mickey Mouse rather than for a candidate proud of his social moderation and railing against conservative values. For which president Obama thanks them. But now, with the Tea Party, they have an alternative. And they are capitalizing on this. The Republican leaders, of course, interested in wealth and political power, continue to fight socially conservative candidates under the assumption they can't win. That might be true. But it's really only true because, up until now, the Republican party has put no effort behind promoting socially conservative candidates unless convenient.

So we'll have to wait and see. But I think those voting for the likes of O'Donnell no longer care. Winning wasn't getting them anything. Abortion is still allowed any way you want, and gay marriage will soon be the law of the land. We promote condoms for kids while bitch smacking the Boy Scouts for not letting gays lead the scouts. We are seeing the likes of Barry Lynn say it's time to tell traditional religious types that our country doesn't serve their kind anymore since the First Amendment clearly states that all religions Barry Lynn hates should be banned from the public forum - and more to the point, an increasing number of Americans who think that's true. So conservatives have little to lose by seeing Republicans who care about their values lose. They've been losing for the last two decades that those Republicans who said they cared were winning. Maybe now the Republicans will learn.

Why do Muslims fear?

Our parish has a new priest. He's from Nigeria. After a special prayer for 9/11 at Mass, he gave a statement from a Nigerian perspective. That, itself, was worth a post. But he also said that he met with Muslim leaders the week before, and they assured him that they were scared to death. Cowering in the shadows, in fear of their lives. That got me to thinking, as I am wont to do.

I can't speak for all the violence across America we've heard about. I've heard for weeks now that violence is breaking out all over the place. I haven't seen any actual stories, except the attack on the cab driver in New York and the arson in Tennessee.

But this is different. I live here, grew up here, and have been in this part of the country for the last ten years. After 9/11, there were stories of Mosques being vandalized, and some graffiti. But that's been about it. The only violence directed at religion has been a rash of church vandalism and fires, and a priest who was murdered a couple years ago. Other than that, nothing.

So why do so many Muslim leaders in our city fear for their lives? Even if the rest of America is going bat crazy and attacking Muslims left and right, they aren't here. Why fear?

And I thought of this. Could it be a combination? First, Americans are pretty hard on ourselves. For a host of reasons, many groups in America like to hash, trash, and rehash the rehashed trash over America's sins. Anything today is seen in the worst possible light, and every event of the past replayed in the worst way. Have Muslims, particularly immigrants, just accepted it as true that America is nothing but a horrible, genocidal racist bigoted nation of death and murder? And therefore naturally see anything as a step toward the inevitable American Death Camps? Why wouldn't they? Americans are the ones who say it!

In addition to that, could it also be that Muslims are not used to criticism. In America, until the 90s, most Americans didn't give a rip about Islam one way or another. Except for some Chuck Norris movies where the Muslims were the bad guys, we didn't pay much attention. Other than Israel and its plight of course. Even after the first world Trade Center bombing, and even after the first Gulf War, we were far more interested in our own failings and scoring political points than thinking too much about Islam. But 9/11 changed that, and suddenly a whole lot of folks had opinions about Islam.

Since American Muslims hadn't heard much criticism (perhaps experienced discrimination or making fun of at best), this was new to them. Especially since, let's face it, criticizing Islam in Islamic countries is not a favorite pastime. After all, when was the last time a Muslim in an interview went back and accounted for the centuries of warfare, conquest, and atrocities committed by Muslims? So perhaps it's the double edged fear of not being used to hearing outward criticisms of Islam, coupled with America's tendency to present our country in the worst possible light. I know that would make me wonder if I was new to the place.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sexist pigs assault pure and innocent reporter

I enjoyed this story about a female sports reporter who frequently dresses up like a porn star wannabe who is now accusing football players of treating her like a porn star wannabe. The usual suspects emerge to remind us that even if she dresses in see-through lingerie in their locker room, they have no right to sexually harass her. One of the staples of modern progressive society, after all, is to refuse the clear teaching of common sense. If a woman is wearing provocative clothes (and she does, her dress on the Today Show interview showcased her endowments very nicely), then she should expect some reactions. Yes, I know that's all subjective. And I know it's getting into that famous 'I may not be able to define porn, but I know it when I see it' trap. But let's face it, we can tell the difference between a woman dressing to look good, and a woman dressing to look available. And since female reporters lobbied for, and received the right to enter men's lockers rooms (while I wonder if men are able to return the favor in women's sports), perhaps the question is who is wanting to intrude upon who?

For me, the money quote was the above reference from a feminist lawyer interviewed on the Today Show. She was the one who said if a woman comes up to a man in see through lingerie, that doesn't give them the right to sexually harass her. But I wondered if a man went up to a woman and dropped his pants, wouldn't that be sexual harassment? Why, then, could a woman do the equivalent and it be no problem? The reason is because the last thing feminism cares about is equality between the sexes. It has ever and always lobbied for equality for women whenever convenient. And nothing illustrates it better than this story, and the reactions to it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

From our Reader's Comments:

A reader comments on an earlier post and asks this question:

Do you subscribe to the truth rooted in the historical church prior to St. Anselm or do you subscribe the truth rooted in the far less historical catholic church of post St. Anselm?
This will be an answer in two parts, because it's so good as to demand more than a single long-winded post by yours truly can manage without doing a disservice. The first thing I want to think about is the very nature of Catholicism as it compares to other ways of seeing and approaching the truth. As a fairly new Catholic, former Protestant minister, former agnostic, it's amazing at how there really are major differences in our various models for finding the truth.

I think part of this is getting one's head around the Catholic/Orthodox approach to Christianity. And it isn't easy. We have all grown up in a post-Protestant, post-Christian world that has more or less taken the worst interpretation of Catholicism and its history that one can imagine. Tales of sadistic inquisitors running amok, butchering and torturing any who dare raise the slightest question about the rigid dogmas of Catholicism are all part of the popular imagination. In addition, the existence of Protestantism and individualistic authority toward establishing a world view makes us assume that the Catholic Church must follow the same approach. For in Protestantism, one finds the denomination that fits closest to where one believes. You may not agree 100%, but you are going to come close, and most of the things that define that particular denomination, or even congregation, are going to be seen as important (hence, why you belong to this and not that church).

So it is difficult to get your head around the Catholic Church that, believe it or not, doesn't always put dogmatic pronouncements down on every conceivable interpretation of a teaching. There is actually plenty of wiggle room for how one sees this or that doctrine. The doctrine itself may be dogmatic, but how the Church sees it over time can change, develop, evolve - and the Church is fine with that. So we can all throw our two cents into the ring with our own ideas. Like Darwin's theories? That's fine. The Church has no problem with that. As long as you hold onto God the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth. Wonder about how the Old Testament came into being? Think it was written by Moses? Or do you prefer the more modern critical scholar approaches? Again, the Church is pretty loose about that, as long as you don't deny essential truths and doctrines about the Scriptures or the truths they convey that has been clearly taught and decided upon by the teaching authority of the Church.

Next time: The Atonement in a nutshell.

Note: The question was later restated, with certain parts taken back. That's fine. No problem there. But it did touch on a major difference in what the Catholic Faith is, and how folks outside the faith often think it is, and I thought it worth mentioning. Next post, we'll take on Atonement itself! Fun stuff

America's Bigotry In Spades

The Huffington Post inadvertently makes a fool of itself as it demonstrates the problems with the post-9/11 world while condemning those same problems. In a post meant to rail against those who let prejudice and politics stain the memory of 9/11, the Huffpost injects its own politics and prejudice. Perhaps that's the problem. We are completely unaware of ourselves. We are unaware of the rank divisions and hyper-partisanship that exists, and has since before 9/11. For these things haven't just marred the anniversary of 9/11. They've marred everything America has tried to do since 9/11. Prejudice? Sure, in spades. And a little of it aimed at Muslims. But most of it? Aimed at the traditional Christian West. For we learned that an isolated pastor of a 50 member church simply demonstrated the inherent bigotry and prejudice that should define all of America and its history. We quickly learned that Islam is not the enemy, and any suggest that hundreds of millions of Muslims supporting terrorism means it might be something to worry about is bigotry, since it's Americans who are a bunch of racists and bigots. And of course, we learned that Islam, being the religion of peace, holds no blame for what happened, but every policy America ever enacted, ever action taken against Islam over the last 1500 years, is to blame.

All of these things are a result of the Officially Endorsed and Authoritative Bigotry taught by our esteemed institutions of information, and believed by millions.

Naturally, politics have played a big role, and both sides share the blame. Not that Huffpost would admit to that. Again, the important thing after 9/11 wasn't that America needs to win. It was that my version of America needs to emerge triumphant. Whatever that version is: Liberal, secular, Catholic, Protestant, liberal mainline Protestant, secular Jewish, druid, whatever. We were not unified before 9/11. 9/11 simply did nothing to change it.

Oh sure, for a few days we came back together (notice I said came back together, not that we came together as if it was some common thing). But again, it took only days before we shook our heads, got hold of ourselves, and realized we could not let a little thing like that stand in the way of our agendas. So here we are. Nine years later, and losing fast. 9/11 was everything Imperial Japan had hoped Pearl Harbor would be, and more. Whether our subjugation will come as a result of the rise of Asia, India, China, or the Islamic world is anyone's guess. But our grandchildren will be the ones to find out. May God have mercy on our arrogance.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wonders never cease

The Associated Press actually mentions the oppression of Catholics in England! Typically such facts are pushed aside in order to promote the usual anti-Western sentiment that defines the post-modern progressive movement: Catholicism worse than anything, then Christianity in general, then any pre-progressive Western tradition or moral viewpoint. Folks often miss the brutal oppression Catholics suffered, or the discrimination they encountered upon entering the United States. Certainly they miss the multiple times in which the Catholic world was threatened by foreign invaders. So imperfect as the story might be, at least it's mentioned. Kudos to the Associated Press for mentioning it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mea Culpa

A man who builds churches out of Legos. How cool is that! But alas, it took me about half an hour to get this little post done, and that's why posting has been sparse. Family issues took it out me me since Tuesday, and the computer has been going at a snail's pace. If it's better, I may get a few things put together, particularly on the Koran burning, NYC Mosque, and the amazing change in values we've all seen in how these issues are being treated. There are other fun things, including a Larry King show with Stephen Hawking and at least one Catholic trained in Physics and Philosophy. So that should be a hoot, though the format will not lend itself to serious discussion, as no TV show ever does. So hopefully the computer will be back up ASAP, and I'll be back. To all those visiting and the ones commenting, my apologies again. See you soon.