Wednesday, November 30, 2011

God bless you Billy Graham

Each time a story like this breaks, we are mindful of the fact that the days are growing older, and the sun is setting on your remarkable life.  Soon, you will be leaving us and going on to the Lord you have faithfully served.  The selfish side of us hopes that will still be a while yet.  Nonetheless, I pray to our Lord Jesus Christ that you be given the peace and comfort that you deserve, and enjoy the time with your family as you prepare for your final journey home.  God bless.  And thanks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who should care about the Herman Cain affair?

I guess it depends. If it was 1999, then nobody should care.  Of course that was the absolute eternal truth of the universe in 1999.  This is 2011.  And by sheer coincidence, Cain is a Republican and - again no doubt through sheer coincidence - it suddenly matters.  I mean, this isn't Edwards with the MSM being dragged kicking and screaming into covering the story.  Since the first anonymous accusation regarding sexual harassment broke, the MSM has been on this 24/7.

Now, one of the biggest mysteries to me is why people in the 21st century even pay attention to the news media.  This is the media that, during the Clarence Thomas hearings (Thomas, a conservative nominated by a Republican president), assured us that there was no crime as heinous as sexual harassment, and it was a black mark of justice that Thomas was ever nominated to the bench. 

Then, of course, came the multiple accusations against Bill Clinton, and we were suddenly told that it didn't matter.  Those were just political whores working for the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (TM).  The affair?  Sorry, it was consensual, and that's that.  Sex doesn't matter.  Morals and character don't matter.  Only the president's ability to give us the greatest economy in the history of the universe matters.  Of course we were also told things like how sexist it was when conservatives picked on Hillary Clinton (or even walked close to her in a debate), and that politicians' kids are always - ALWAYS! - off limits (as in Chelsea Clinton).

Now that was then.  Sarah Palin helped dispel the whole 'don't be sexist' mantra as she was routinely called every gender based derogatory name under the sun.  As she was told to stay home and be a mom where she belonged, and was labeled everything from bitch to milf, the MSM shuffled their feet nervously, admitted sometimes folks might get out of hand, but generally agreed the real story was Palin's lack of foreign policy skills. 

That Palin's children were also dragged through the dirt was explained away by various MSM faces, such as Anderson Cooper, who informed us that the MSM always goes after politicians' kids (except, apparently, in the late 90s).  Plus, Palin did what no other politician had ever done, and that was have her kids with her  during the campaign.  Well, OK, every politician does it once in a while, but that's irrelevant.  So said the talking heads.

Naturally there have been cases where anti-Semitism and racist insults have been lobbed at political figures like Condoleezza Rice and Joe Lieberman.  And to varying extents, the MSM has shuffled its feet and explained that those cases are unfortunate.  Yes, a movie was made about then President George W. Bush getting his brains blown out by an assassin, but that was art.  Sure he was called Hitler, a Nazi, a murderer, an idiot, a dolt, a racist, and any one of a thousand things that could make your blood chill.  But that was then.  That was when dissent was the true form of patriotism and freedom of expression should always be accepted.  That was yesterday's absolute eternal values of the universe.

This is today.  And today, the absolute truth du jour is how important it is that we focus on the sex life of Herman Cain.  Like the other instances, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he is a Republican.  None whatsoever.  It's always been that way, and will always be that way, until it is no longer convenient to be that way.  Then we will be told what the eternal truth has always been.  And I suppose they assume we are either dishonest or stupid enough (or both) to believe it.  Which brings me back to my question: why people in the 21st century even pay attention to the news media.  The world may never know.

It's like living in the Twilight Zone

Without the insights and wisdom.  So let me get this straight.  Three bisexual men sued a gay softball association for being discriminated against because of their perceived heterosexuality?  Apparently.  But it looks like they all settled, the men were welcomed back, and all is right with the world.  The alliance has even revised its language to include bisexual and transgender men as well!  Heterosexuals are, of course, banned, and that's a beautiful thing.  Remember kids, bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice are the lifeblood of any civilization.  The only trick is, when you are in a free civilization to begin with, you have to rely on the stupidity of the soon to be discriminated against in order to pull it off.  Thank goodness heterosexuals are more than willing to rise up to the challenge. As the great Rod Serling would say, no other comment required.    

Why I love football

An 80 yard punt?  You've got to be kidding me.  And not a 40 or 50 yard punt that bounces for three dozen yards.  An actual, bona fide 80 yard punt from foot to ground.  Read the article, including the reaction by punt returner extraordinaire Devin Hester.  Then watch the video and wonder.  Shane Lechler is not the all time NFL leader in punting average for nothing.

Monday, November 28, 2011

An MTV Christmas Video?

That's like a Harvard Divinity School tent meeting.  So I was just stumbling along the Internet, minding my own business, when I came across this little blast from the past.

What amazes me is just how far we've come in the last couple decades.  Naturally there was no Silent Night or Away in the Manger in the medley (those were replaced by St. Lennon's Happy Xmas (War is Over)).  This was MTV, and it was still 1986.  But can you imagine anything close to this today? 

Just the general wholesomeness of it all. This is MTV?  The network dedicated to luring our teens into adopting a life of the lowest animal denominator?  MTV?  This could pass for the Disney Channel.  No, strike that.  The Disney Channel is more controversial.  Ah back in the day.  Then MTV seemed cutting edge, daring, bold, in your face to the older generation - our little cultural icons were just soooooo cool!  Now it looks like my grandma's tea cosy would have been more shocking. 

So in decades to come will the things of today that we yell and fuss about look as tame, as safe as this video does now?  Or will we pull up from the dive in time?  Personally I hope we pull out of the dive.  It sends chills down my spine to imagine what the world would have to be like in 20 years in order for things today to look tame.

BTW, that's Mike Nesmith popping off the beard and hat at the end.  That was the punchline, since he had famously dodged joining the rest of the Monkees for their 1986 reunion tour.

Kansas teen is everything I've come to expect from the post-modern left

Yep.  Looks like this young prodigy has used the wonder of modern communications to expand her vocabulary.  Well, not really.  A young girl who boasted, via Twitter, that she told Republican Governor Sam Brownback that he sucked, has refused to apologize.  Well duh.  If she opposes Brownback then I'll bet she wouldn't apologize.  In fact, most who oppose Brownback won't care, so there won't be any pressure for her to do so.  Yep, it's everything that makes us proud to be 21st century Americans.  The eloquence.  The beauty.  The depth.  The sophistication. The boring predictability and conformity to post-respectful group  think.

I wonder if Kurt Warner knows that bell bottoms are out of style

Don't get me wrong, I respect Kurt Warner, the overtly religious NFL player who stood against anti-religious PC goodthink and openly gave praise to Jesus following his 2000 Superbowl victory.  But now he's coming out and standing hand in hand with our Big Politically Correct Brother and suggesting Tim Tebow embrace the Glorious Censorship.  F-Bombs and bathroom humor are what the Founding Fathers meant, after all.  They certainly didn't expect a country where folks thought they could openly express their religious beliefs.

But the part that got me was this line:
"I know what he's going through," Warner told the Republic, "and I know what he wants to accomplish, but I don't want anybody to become calloused toward Tim because they don't understand him, or are not fully aware of who he is. And you're starting to see that a little bit."
Starting to see it?  A little bit? What planet has he been living on for the last year?  For those who don't know, Tim Tebow was the darling of College Sports while he played his way to the Heisman Trophy.  All you heard was one giant chorus of praise and adoration from sports fans and the generally hedonism-friendly sports media.  That is, of course, until his infamous decision to blaspheme the Dogmas of Liberal Diversity by appearing with his mom in a Pro-Life Superbowl Commercial.

From that point, it got ugly.  Tebow became an outcast, the sports media began emphasizing the criticisms that had been brushed away by so many.  Suddenly, Tebow was an overrated no-talent religious hack who would get what he had coming to him when he went pro and showed the world just how lousy he was.  That was then.  Now that he has led the Broncos to a 5-1, critics are having a hard time trashing his talents.  Grumbling and pissed, they can only grasp for straws and hope that Tebow implodes sometime in the near future.

And it's into this that Warner, who now works for the NFL Network it should be noted, comes out and suggests Tebow put some tape over his mouth when it comes to bearing witness to his faith?  Hmmmm.  Call me skeptical, and maybe Warner is doing it for the best reasons, but I can't see why now is the time to step up to the pulpit of modern intolerance and pitch one for the arm of the media most concerned with bust lines and beer bellies.  After all, no matter why he did it, the reason for such outcry is still the result of an anti-religious and anti-Christian popular culture where Moloch and Mammon are worshipped and glorified, and they will suffer no challengers.  If I were Tebow, I would thank the excellent Warner for his advice, and then continue being the rebel and the counter-cultural icon that he has become.

Read it and weep

I know I did.  An elitist school pushes exploiting our kids teaching our kids about sex to new lows.  Naturally, the New York Times cheers it on.  Of course, we know the misery, destruction, and death that has resulted from the grand sexual revolution.  But hey, this is the adults speaking.  The last thing we want is a bunch of kids rising up and being more mature, responsible, and productive than we were.  We are, of course, the most useless, worthless, and embarrassingly lousy and inept generation in human history.  How embarrassing to see our kids grow up better people than us.  So playing their hormones like a concert pianist, we lead them along, promising them a glorious, sexually fulfilled future. We know, of course, that most of them will end up emotionally shattered, psychologically drained, and that if they're lucky enough not to be the statistics that make up the tens of millions of AIDS, HIV, and other STD victims.  But hey, it's a small price to pay for us adults to hide our worthlessness as a generation.

In fifty years, I can imagine this being accepted

Really.  A German man is accused of fathering three sons through his own daughter.  Yep, you read that right.  The strange thing?  Everyone is shocked, outraged, aghast.  And yet, why?  He says it was consensual.  We let a president go on the same grounds for a girl who was only slightly older at the time.  Heck, we said as long as the S-word is used, it's nobody's business.

I know, I know.  I'm appalled.  I think he should have the library thrown at him.  But I'm also appalled at the rest of our society's sexual debaucheries.  I don't find this or that extreme case and use it as some umbrella of self-righteousness under which to strut.  I'm content saying that once we got off the traditional Christian Western tradition of sexual morality, we were on a collision course with, well, this sort of thing.

I'm also aware that if we were to get into the Wayback Machine, and go to around 1948, things would be different than they are today.  If I were to tell people that we would be on the brink of allowing homosexuals to marry, and anyone publicly speaking out against it would be called bigots, evil, and in danger of losing their jobs and being socially ostracized, I'll bet the good citizen c. 1948 would think I had been smoking the loco-weed. 

Times change.  And right now, the very moral subjectiveness and disregard for the Judeo-Christian heritage that said such things were wrong in the first place, that has been the foundation for allowing cohabitation and gay rights, is the platform upon which future incest and other 'lifestyles' will be built.  After all, many of these things (sex with underage kids) were quite acceptable in other cultures, the same cultures that were open to such things as homosexuality.  If we threw everything out the window to allow for some, there is no objective reason not to allow for all.  We'll just have to wait and see.

Oh no! The Mass has changed!

Not really.  They have tweaked a few things in the liturgy to make it closer to the biblical versus in the Latin text.  But it's all the buzz across the Catholic and religious blogs.  Went off without a hitch for us (I scored about a 650 in getting it right).  And it was a day that not only did my boys get to serve (how cool, first day of new liturgy *and* first Sunday of Advent!), plus I got roped into doing the readings.  All together a fun day, a grey day, a Lord's day!  Hope it went well for everyone else. 

Lighting a candle for the new liturgy.  Bonus points for them catching the change from 'cup' to 'chalice'!  File under 'It's cool being Catholic'

Friday, November 25, 2011

A quirky Thanksgiving Day

Just a quick howdy after the feeding frenzy.  I'm not sure if I could face another day if so much as a turkey sandwich was in my future.  Still, it went well.  Dad was certainly missed, though in my family's usual way, we didn't dwell on it too much.  Had the usual, with a well placed nap in the middle of the day to help things settle.  Last night we watched The Godfather on AMC with the kids.  I thought they were old enough, and my 11 year old wasn't interested enough, to see it on television. 

But one strange tradition made its way to us once again.  We have several that we try to keep, or have adjusted to now that ours is the house everyone comes to.  My sister and I used to always break the wishbone, but since Dad was the official referee, I noticed last night we let that pass.  After the nap, the family came back over and we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas, the watching of which became part of this holiday when my wife and I lived in Louisville and Mom wanted to watch it with us before we went back (since we always spent Christmas to ourselves except once on my oldest's first Christmas, which just happened to fall that way). But we also kept alive another weird tradition I think is unique to our household.

When he was only about four or five, one Thanksgiving our oldest asked for a pie crust.  That's all he wanted.  Not a pie, a pie crust.  So my parents bought him a graham cracker pie crust.  Since then, it's been a tradition for the boys to get one after the meal.  They actually look forward to it, and can come to near blows if one of them tries to take too much!   Strange.  Anyway, that was that, and I'll be gone until Monday.  Have a happy and blessed season of thanks.

Traditions have to start somewhere.  Even the youngest wants to get into the act.

Fair enough

Over at Catholic Online, there's a pretty good unpacking of Thanksgiving.  OK, we know the pilgrims didn't invent giving thanks go God.  You know, it's strange, but I don't remember ever thinking that they did.  I just thought it was all part of the whole being religious package.  I may not have known the roots of historical harvest and thanksgiving celebrations, but it didn't matter.  The Pilgrims gave thanks for surviving.  And they shared their meal with the American Indians who helped them survive.  Fine.

In our usual way, we spend much time telling people what they don't know about the past.  That's fair enough, since there's enough in the past that most people probably don't know.  It's worth pointing out that Catholics were out and about, giving thanks, long before the Pilgrims came.  It's worth noting that harvest celebrations of thanks are rooted in Jewish and Christian traditions, as well as other cultic traditions.  I'm fine with remembering how the holiday came to be an official national holiday.

But the thing that always made the Pilgrims stand out is what they did and how they did it.  They came here against all odds, not in service to king and crown, not to make money, but to have the freedom to worship.  They broke the bonds, and railed against convention, and risked their lives (and many lost their lives) to have that freedom of worship.  I know, I know.  But they were intolerant and drove non-conformers out of town on a rail.  And?  When we say freedom do we mean anyone should be able to do or believe anything?  If someone is hot on Hitler, do we say 'no problem, come and let's celebrate'?  Do we tell people who are opposed to homosexuality that all is well, we can respect that, so let us sit and celebrate together?  Do Catholics say anyone should be able to do anything they want, including advocating abortion, and all is well? 

Was a time in the 70s and 80s, when liberalism promised a Utopian paradise of absolute freedom, openness, tolerance, and respect.  Didn't matter what you wanted to believe, stand for, advocate, or think, a truly enlightened society would open its arms to all comers.  So it's easy to see why, in those days, we tended to look down on the Pilgrims and their intolerant ways and see a dose of serious hypocrisy.  But today, I think the hypocrisy is on us, especially if we want to get on the Pilgrims for doing what we so gladly do ourselves.  They did, after all, what any society does. They simply established a community of values they expected folks to live by.  And they wanted the freedom to do it.  In so doing, they should be the poster-children of our 21st century society, where endless advocacy groups make it clear that this country isn't big enough for those who don't conform.

So while the article is good, and gives a nice take down on the history of the holiday without the digs and dismissals I've seen too often in some Catholic writings, and certainly without the scorn and contempt heaped upon it by our post-Christian society, it's worth remembering why the Pilgrims.  Why the honor given them?  Because they didn't just give thanks.  They gave thanks doing what Americans always valued, and that's laying it all on the line for freedom and the right to live as we would, based upon the calling we felt God placed upon our lives.  They were what Americans always aspired to, and what it wouldn't hurt more, including American Catholics, to aspire to as well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Daffy Duck on Daffey Thoughts!

Heh.  Twas the season after all.  And with that, a blessed and happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Fr. Robert Barron does apologetics

So we don't have to.  He's that good.  Here he explains that what we believe does matter.  So at this season, when we are told to just give thanks in some vague, who cares about it way, it's nice to remember that the God the pilgrims thanked may well have been different than the spirits the American Indians thanked.  And for that reason alone, it's worth celebrating since who we give thanks to says much about what we believe.  And what we believe, turns out, does matter after all.  Happy Thanksgiving Fr. Barron!

Fr. Dwight Longenecker gets it right

As usual, Fr. Longenecker offers a great perspective on this feast of Thanksgiving.  How can I, a Catholic, celebrate the pilgrims the way I do?  Easy.  One, because I reject the post-modern rewriting of history that says all evil is the result of white, European heterosexual Christians.  Second, because I realize that the pilgrims were my brothers and sisters in Christ, who were reaching back through a tradition of thanksgiving that is rooted in the Judeo-Christian heritage, even if it was based on many things they had rejected in their move away from their Catholic roots.  Eucharist, after all, means 'thanksgiving.'  We needn't be bludgeoned by the revision of history that says we got thanksgiving from the pagan, the non-Christian, the eco-green earth worshipper.  The feast as we have it is rooted in that most wonderful and civilizing traditions, the Judeo-Christian Western tradition.  Great read. 

Linus Van Pelt and a blast from the past

I was made aware that this was on Youtube.  Amazing what you find there.  This was an actual TV special back in the early 1970s.  Nothing like the Citizen Kane of Christmas specials, it still brings back some memories of Thanksgivings long ago.  The thing I notice here?  He mentions the American Indians and the Pilgrims in a positive light.  And then, and then, he actually recounts the religious focus of the first Thanksgiving and he recites a real prayer to God.   It's like some alternate fantasy world today.  Shows how things have changed.  But since our country is so much better than we ever were with all that pilgrims and God stuff, who am I to question progress?  See you next week!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Less of a myth than we've been taught, and something worth thinking on this holiday season.

I'll be out of here until Monday.  Since bringing things back, I've been pleased with the number of visits.  Things have definitely picked up in the last few weeks.  Nice to have folks stopping by.  Please feel free to comment.  I have thick skin, and don't mind hearing from folks.  I learn best when I read thoughtful comments from guests who point out this or that flaw in my posts.  In the meantime, enjoy this holiday of thanksgiving.  It really is a time to remember how much we have to be thankful for. A time that brings back memories of making pumpkin pie and hand turkeys in kindergarten.  Of band concerts before being let out early from school on Wednesday. Of rabbit hunting with my Dad.  Of snow outside and steamed up windows from the cooking on the inside. Of family over and traveling to Mom and Dad's when my own family was still so young.

I have to admit, it'll seem tough.  After all, my Dad died earlier this year.  My mother just lost the next to last member of her family.  My sister's life has all but unraveled.  And things have been hard for my boys in school.  They're good kids, and do well in school.  They do very well.  But they are, well, different.  We raise them to be different.  We try to impress upon them the need to put their faith first.  Plus, call me cynical, but I also try to let them see the shallowness of our pop culture and our society as a whole.  As a result, our boys are sort of a Casablanca bunch in an Avatar world.  And in our society, where texting, IPads, and CGI saturated movies are all the rage, sometimes they walk a bit off kilter. 

Nonetheless, despite it all, we still keep to the path.  Inspired by those who helped give us this holiday - the Pilgrims - we walk the course.  We seek to live free in a country founded on freedom, and seek ways to follow God that will be pleasing to Him, and aid us in our own spiritual journeys.  Who knows, in fifty years freedom may no longer exist in this nation.  There's certainly good cause for concern.  But as of now, we are still free, and that's worth being thankful for.  We are free to raise our kids as we choose, set them along the paths we choose, and enjoy the bountiful blessings of a nation graced with so many.  What tomorrow holds may well be in our children's hands.  But for now, we have the freedom to be what we choose to be, and that's not bad.  

So thank you Pilgrims, thank you Indians, thank you all who fought and gave the last measure of devotion for the freedoms I enjoy.  Thank you Mom and especially you Dad, for giving me a wonderful childhood of memories.  We'll miss you this year. Thank you Dee and boys for giving me a family to rest upon when the world gets me down.  And thank you God, for giving me life, abundance, and blessings beyond those I could ever deserve.  I'll be back on Monday.  May the God of blessings shower you and your loved ones with a double measure of all you need.

Jobless claims rise, but not to worry

They may have gone up, but at least they're still below 400,000 (which, last I heard, was still far above what we need to recover).  But this being an election year, and a liberal Democrat being in the presidency, expect the economic news to be bright and sunny in Philadelphia, and everywhere else.  No matter how big the cloud, the news reports will always find the silver lining.  Just like from the point in which Bush was named president, the news reports insisted we were on the brink of economic catastrophe, now we can know that no matter how dire the news, we will be pointed to the bright spot.  That things might actually be as bad, or worse, than most people think is something that the propaganda ministry news media must work feverishly to overcome.  And that is what they will do.  Who knows, at least it might make folks who get their notions of the world from the media feel better.  The rest of us, who get our notions of the world from the world around us, will probably not feel the love.

Looks like Hendrix is still number one

Nice to see.  Rolling Stone has once again named Jimi Hendrix the greatest guitar player of all time.  That's what folks said when I was in high school.  That was when Eddie Van Halen reigned supreme.  Funny how important all that was.  I wonder if it still is.  I wonder if kids today still rotate their lives around who the greatest this or that is in the music world, or sports, or film.

Scott Dibble educates us about the Left

Scott Dibble, a senator from Minnesota, explains what the real threat to religious freedom is in our society. You see, when the Catholic Church says the government shouldn't be able to force religious institutions to compromise their religious beliefs regarding health care, they are a threat to religious liberty.  Why?   Because, liberalism is Truth, and therefore in Truth is freedom.  So when the government demands conformity to Truth, it leads to freedom.  When people think they have a right to reject Truth, that leads to servitude and bondage.  For freedom is only found in obedience to the gospel of Truth.  Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Mr. Dibble would see the Church's concerns over government mandated morality as a threat to truth.  It works a little better, it's a little easier, if folks don't use the moniker of 'liberal' or 'liberalism'.  That way you can understand folks like Mr. Dibble are merely doing what people have always done.  They are saying there is one exclusive Truth in this world, and moral and just societies must demand conformity and obedience to that Truth, they must legislate morality that is focused on that Truth.  For once you are bound to the Truth, only then can you have freedom.  It's a very traditional stance.

Monday, November 21, 2011

US News helps us reclaim Thanksgiving without the religion

In light of the growing number of retailers tired of all this giving thanks crap, and seeking new ways to worship at the altar of Mammon, and in light of the number of fellow Americans willing to say, "Screw the employees and their families, as long as I can get a flat screen TV for a bargain!", US News and World Report posted a column on how to reclaim the Spirit of Thanksgiving.  Eh.  Read it if you want.  For the most part it tells us to give a little.  Fine.

What I found amusing?  The entire piece, written by Kimberly Palmer, is devoid of any mention about anything to do with the roots of the Holiday.  No pilgrims, no God, no religion, no faith, heck, no Indians.  It's as if the whole thing has some vague roots in some vague harvest celebration from some noncommittal time in the past.  For some reason, sharing must have been important at some point, and that's why it's the advice given.  Again, I have no problem with that particular suggestion.

It just strikes me at how easy it's become, how we're all so used to it.  It's as if we expect it now.  We have no problem with certain things not being mentioned.  With certain names never being spoken.  With certain themes and events simply wiped off the slate.  We've come to expect it.  It's in our blood, it's the ocean in which we swim, to paraphrase Peggy Noonan.  That which offends must not be said, and we all know that in our post-modern age, nothing offends like religion, like our Anglo-European past. 

I wonder if Ms. Palmer consciously avoided any and all references to anything historical or religious, or if it has become for her as natural as it has no doubt become for many of her readers.  Just a thought on this, the night we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

Shocked that the Supercommittee failed?

As of this time, it looks like the fabled Super Committee has failed to reach an agreement.  In other news, the Ohio State Buckeyes football team lost to Penn State last Saturday.  What do these two things have in common?  While they didn't have to turn out the way they did, nobody is shocked that they did.  A broken country can only whine so long about its representative government being broken. A country where narcissism and hedonism are the greatest commandments, and the only real religious conflict is between Mammon worship on one side and the veneration of Moloch on the other, you shouldn't expect much.  In a nation where the 'Left' and the 'Right' are looking more and more alike, what should we think?  Since most folks have a morality that is akin to 'screw unto others, as long as you don't screw unto me', followed by 'I'll scratch his immoral back if he'll scratch mine later', we actually think our representative government will be what?  Noble?  Virtuous?  Pure?  Honest?  Humble?  Heck, even effective?

In an Internet age where we criticise first, last, and as a general rule; in an age after which we have spent fifty years trashing our culture, our heritage, our nation's past, our religious roots, our societal foundations, we expect our leaders to put country first?  Really?  Are we that stupid, that naive, that arrogant, or a is it a combination thereof?

Nope.  Our government is everything we've earned.  Our impotent and incompetent leader is nowhere to be seen, hiding out as far away from the mess as possible.  Of course, fair minded and realistic observers can tell he hasn't clue one how to lead, and much of our mess is firmly in his hands, the hands of a completely inept commander in chief.  Not that all of the problems are his.  They weren't all Bush's.  Or Clinton's.  Or the Republicans.  Or the Democrats.  It's a testimony to our monumental stupidity that we believe such partisan rubbish.  Or a testimony to our willingness to advance obvious lies as long as we get what we want.

In any event, this is barely news.  Americans have laughed at their congress for being incompetent for ages.  The problem is, compared to the rest of the nation, if we are honest, our government is one of the best things left we have to offer.  And that should make us do more than occupy Wall Street.  It should make us stand up and yell 'the time has come to say, Enough!'

Well done Cardinal O'Malley

Looks like the awesome cardinal is standing behind the editor of the archdiocesan newspaper who dared blaspheme the homosexual gospel.  Some priests are, naturally, calling for the Glorious Censorship through the oppression of religious freedom, freedom of speech, and of course that pesky freedom of the press garbage.  Those things are only for celebrating unfettered sex, drugs, and bathroom humor.  All that annoying stuff about people freely expressing their religious convictions has got to go.  Nice to see there are still plenty of Catholics prepared to do the Dumb Thing, and throw their lots in with the latest, hippest force for intolerance and oppression.  Kudos to Cardinal O'Malley for seeing the rot for what it is.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

You know with atheism meaning is an illusion

So why don't you ditch the illusion this holiday season and believe in the One who gives real meaning to the season. 

Ask an atheist next time what their atheism does for the starving mother of dying children in Sudan.  Ask them what hope they have to offer other than oblivion.  See if you can catch the next celebrity atheist on his way to the next round of Champagne and caviar buffets.  Then ask yourself, if in a thousand years humanity agrees that selective genocide is the only way to control overpopulation, what the modern atheist could appeal to in order to say those looking to curb the population through genocide are wrong. 

Once you've done so, you'll see why the only myth and illusion this holiday season are those who insist their universe of 'is' contains any objective 'oughts'.  Then you might decide it's time to find that objective source of meaning.  A source the could lead all the way back to a babe in a manger. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Even so, I still love the Pilgrims

A famous painting of the pilgrims.  I always liked this one, perhaps owing to
it being used in my first grade class when we studied Thanksgiving.
History is a tough nut to crack.  Ultimately, we only have a few facts here and there with gaping holes in between.  Into those holes goes a multitude of opinions, agendas, biases, prejudices, and ideals.  Sometimes we are aware of these ad libs, sometimes we aren't.  But it's always a difficult thing to get right unless you are really trying, and you are really honest with yourself. 

The pilgrims, the ones from Thanksgiving that is, are a perfect case in point.  As I've blogged about here, and here, and here, the holiday soon to be formerly known as Thanksgiving is already fading from its once lofty perch.  This perch actually increased in popularity for a time as PC sensitivities and censorship eliminated the last vestiges of that holiday based on the birth of He-whose-name-we-cannot-mention, leaving a void in the family and friends and special memories category of American culture.

But alas, as liberalism has faded into the post-Western, post-American secular Left, even it has begun to be pushed aside.  We still have this day, which can still be mentioned as important for family, for days off of work (when non-unionized companies still allow it), and especially as the spring board for the first Holy Day of Wall Street: Black Friday.  Soon it will be Black Thursday as the only real reason left for it to exist will be to buttress the profit margins of our annual frenzy of consumerism and commercialism. 

As for the original story?  Well that's gone the same way as that other story about some baby in a manger so long ago.  For the most part, it's ignored.  If we're lucky it's ignored.  In keeping with the dictates of multi-cultural education, we often hear about the evil legacy, the racism, the imperialism, the fanaticism, the zealotry and intolerance, the sheer corruption of heart and mind that infected every man, woman, and child that came from the ship of death, the Mayflower.  The American Indians, are, of course, portrayed as pure, caring, loving, perfect, sinless, flawless, and living at one with one another, all visitors, and Mother Earth. 

This is the unbalanced answer to a problem that never really existed in the first place.  Under the auspices that Americans never admitted to their own sins of the past, and always portrayed everyone else as the bad guys, MCPC propaganda has felt the need to overemphasise the opposite.  Of course Americans did admit to their past, did give credit at times where it was due, and often have been able to balance between going overboard with nation worship on one side, with nation abuse on the other.  Admitting that, as Chesterton once said, love of country shouldn't be like saying 'my mother, drunk or sober', there was a time when they also realized it shouldn't be the same as 'my mother, drunken bitch, let her die.' 

Unfortunately, we've been focused on the sins, the bad, the failings, the flaws and shortcomings of our history over the last sixty years to such a degree, that many now see nothing of value in our past.  Any old celebrations are by default a celebration of evil.  Therefore there is nothing old worth keeping, nothing traditional worth saving.  When the old America has burned to ashes, what will arise will be a superior nation living up to the true ideals of our country's founding, living at peace with a world that has only awaited the advent of the generation that will set it right.

Because of this rather silly and asinine approach to our country and its heritage, there is little hope that the story of a band of religious practitioners so passionate about their faith they were willing to risk life and limb to set up a new life in a forbidding wilderness, will be remembered in another decade or so.  What is remembered now is mostly the bad.  That these followers made friends with the native population, established a treaty that lasted almost fifty years, and managed to endure hardships beyond our wildest dreams, is already lost on most young people today, and not a few older folks.

And it's not just those rascally post-moderns.  I've certainly been saddened by the number of Catholic apologists who enjoy taking potshots at the folks of Plymouth Rock.  I know, I know.  There actually was a strong Catholic presence in the New World long before the Mayflower came to town.  It wouldn't hurt if more Americans knew this.  Most only know the Catholic Church was here to support the Conquistadors.  Realizing that the Catholic Mass was already practiced when the Separatists were only beginning to feel unwelcome in England would do all Americans some good. 

But that doesn't mean we should toss out the pilgrims with the bathwater.  First, there is an incredible legacy of sacrifice and passion for the Gospel that wouldn't exactly hurt your average Christian in America, c. 2010 to emulate.  And that includes Catholics.  There is also that tradition of rebellion, of revolution, that the pilgrims brought with them and planted in the ground along with the rows of corn.  That seed would grow and grow and lay the groundwork for a mentality that bore fruit in the late 18th century in the form of the United States of America.  For all its flaws, a country founded on trying to do the best it can.  There's a reason the revolution began in the part of the colonies descended from the Pilgrims, and not in the South, or in other parts of the colonies of other countries.

And of course there is a little lesson I learned as a Protestant.  One of the developments that aided me in my pilgrimage back to Catholicism was the realization on the part of some Protestant scholars and apologists that we are living in an anti-Christian world.  Even if folk don't want to kill us, it doesn't mean they want our Faith around.  And as non-Christian morphed into post-Christian and then into anti-Christian, it became increasingly difficult to separate between Protestant this and Catholic that.  So they realized that each time a Protestant apologist lambasted the Catholic Church because of the Inquisition, or the Witch Burnings, or the Crusades, or any one of a thousand things Protestants have blamed the Church for over the years, the rest of the world merely heard 'Followeres of Jesus burned witches, tortured heretics, slaughtered infidels.'  There was no longer a separation between Protestants and Catholics.  To slam the Catholic Faith was to slam the Christian Faith.  And therefore, they began backing off, defending the Church, reexamining some  of the old tales about Catholic horrors, and generally trying to portray a more positive history of the Faith.

Hello Catholics.  That goes the other way.  As fun as it might be to point out the flaws of the Pilgrims, to focus on the general terrors of America and link them to those rascally English Protestants, to attempt to diminish the story or the contributions of those seeking religious freedom, just remember this: each time a finger is pointed at Protestant Christianity, the rest of the world steps in and bends the other three right back to the Church.  I think of this when I remember articles I've read over the last few years.  Sometimes former Protestant converts are the worst.  As if trashing and dismissing the contribution and the role of the Pilgrims is some rite of passage, they can do the Pilgrims worse than any post-American God hating secularist.

So for me, Catholic though I am, I still love the Pilgrims.  They lived their faith.  Were they perfect?  No.  Neither were the Indians.  Neither were the Catholics.  Neither are they today.  And that includes any atheists who might be reading.  I needn't ignore the bad in order to appreciate the good.  If I demand perfection before I admire someone, then I had best provide perfection myself.  And I'm afraid I can't do that.  Therefore, I can look back and see the tangled mess and complex story that was the Pilgrims, the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, and the first Thanksgiving, and give thanks that Christians such as those actually stepped forth and lived their faith.  They put it all on the line.  They did what far too few today could ever boast - they risked their lives for what they believed.  And they brought a spiritual emphasis and revolutionary spirit to a land that, for all it's flaws, became a beacon of light for humanity that has helped bring the promise of what can be to people around the world. 

So thank you Pilgrims, and thank you God, that through your blessings and grace, they were able to survive those first years and leave the seeds of a witness that the Church today so desperately needs to pick up and run with.  May we all stop pointing fingers at those who have gone before, and instead live in such a way that will inspire others four hundred years from now.  After all, despite all attempts to diminish their legacy, it still lives on.  Happy Thanksgiving pilgrims, American Indians, and all who look to learn the best from our past so that we can contribute the best to our future.

(this is a repost originally posted last year I thought was worth repeating)

The Crystal Cathedral could now become an actual Cathedral

Turns out the Crystal Cathedral, which has been dying a slow, agonizing financial death, is selling out to the Catholic Diocese of Orange County.  Yep, it's true.  Hard to believe, almost.  Rev. Schuller was the epitome of 'Jesus meets super-duper big and successful religion' that dominated much of the last half of 20th century Protestantism.  The movement had roots going back to the evangelism and missions movements in the 19th century.  It received its biggest boost from its most famous and beloved adherent, Billy Graham. 

By the 70s and 80s, when 'Church Growth' studies began to be taught in seminaries, it was clear that a growing number of Protestant leaders, and subsequently Protestant believers, were equating Large with Successful ministries.

By the time I was in ministry in the 1990s, it was clear that the most important thing a pastor could do was 'grow his church'.  And that didn't mean spiritually.  It meant more baptisms, more memberships, bigger congregations.  This attitude came out of the closet with Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Church (the precursor to his more famous and successful The Purpose Driven Life).  In this book, concerns over doctrine, theology, and worship styles take a back seat to marketing strategies, sales techniques, and business practices for building that ideal mega-church.  With such a prominent pastor giving the green light, it was now possible for church leaders and ministers to admit what had been percolating under the surface for some time. 

That is, we wanted to get rid of all these pesky doctrinal divisions and differences that splintered Protestantism into hundreds, if not thousands, of competing sects.  The idea wasn't too come up with one single agreed upon ecumenical dogma.  No.  We simply began letting folks know it wasn't that big a deal.  Just as Mark Lowry, of Bill Gaither fame, would assure his denominationally mixed audiences that 'someone is going to be wrong', now we simply let folks know it didn't matter, it was more like opinions really. 

Baptism saves?  Baptism is merely symbolic?  Doesn't matter.  God preordains those to be saved or damned?  God allows free will for everyone to accept or reject His Grace?  Doesn't matter.  Pop music or classical hymnody?  Doesn't matter.  What matters is getting enough fannies in those pews to make it necessary to build bigger buildings and bigger gymnasiums family life centers.  I once quipped, with a not-too-subtle Freudian reference, that too many Protestants today judge a pastor by the size of his gymnasium.

But I was a kazoo in an orchestra of tubas.  Most wanted, and would work for, that Crystal Cathedral sized ministry, late 20th century style.  And in many ways, it all went back to a church started in a drive in theatre.  Now, it's done.  When Dr. Schuller fired his own son because his son wanted to, you know, preach more from the Bible, you figured it had jumped the shark.  Schuller's own fluffy, cotton candy 'just be excellent to one another, and believe in yourselves' gospel (years before Smilin' Joel Osteen), was never going to survive a population of seekers who, uninformed though they might be, still had the idea that God's first priority wasn't helping us live a wealthy, American lifestyle above all things; a population growing increasingly cynical of the idea that materialism and narcissism were the answers to the Divine question. And now, the tree has born its final fruits.

Modern atheists continue to demonstrate

That modern atheism is more a personality disorder than an intellectual movement.  Adopting evangelistic strategies more in line with kindergarten maturity, they will be putting up signs this Christmas Holiday Pagan non-committal winter holiday season in the hope that people are uninformed and ill educated when it comes to religion.  I find it amusing that a movement based on the primacy of reason rests so much hope on its adherents and potential converts knowing nothing about the subject at hand.

If people did know about religion, they would see through the ludicrous and laughable assumptions on which so much modern atheistic thinking is based.  Of course, most modern atheism is just good old bigotry and hatred wrapped in cloth so dense that our secular friends in the secular media and secular education systems can't see it for what it is (or don't want to).  It's a master race philosophy, where 'brights' declare themselves genetically programmed to be intellectually superior to the bulk of humanity that lacks the gene to be smart enough not to need religion.  This assumption is followed by some facts, half-facts, and outright untruths mixed together to prove that it's time we call for the extermination of all this evil religious stuff.

You'd think after the 20th century, such attitudes and tactics would be verboten.  And yet, it's amazing how much the mantra of 'hatred is good as long as you hate the right people' has risen in popularity.  Of course putting up signs that most religious people will blow eggnog out their noses laughing at won't do much harm.  But it is a sign that small, radical sects of religious fanaticism and zealotry wisshing to hurt, insult, or do anything to eradicate beliefs they hate, exist in many forms.  And one form, ironically, covers itself with a shroud called reason.

My heart goes out to atheists and secularists of good faith and good hearts, who appeal to reasoned arguments.  It must be as embarrassing for them as Fred Phelps and his ilk are for most Christians. 

A poster from an atheist's blog.  If you know a little history, it speaks for itself.

Looks like Prop 8 is back in the news

Apparently a decision made by the California Supreme Court has brought the entire debate over Prop 8 back into the spotlight. I'm not a legal scholar, lawyer, or law professor.  As a general rule, my eyes glaze over when folk begin discussing the fine details of this or that legal issue.  I know we like the courts to say what we want them to say, but I'll guess most people aren't able to understand it any better than I can.  And many who do, such as legal 'contributors' on various news outlets, are perhaps a bit slanted in how they report this or that decision or case.  

So I don't know what all of this is about.  Since folks opposed to legalizing gay marriage are throwing confetti and celebrating, I'll guess it's something that reaffirms the voter based ban on gay marriage in California.  This take is further cemented by the assurances that gay marriage will nonetheless prevail against flagrant homophobic bigotry that I hear coming out of the pro-non-heterosexual normality crowd.

We'll have to see.  I doubt it will be too many years before gay marriage is the law of the land.  You can't have one state letting couples (or any particular number) get married, and others not recognizing it.  I'm sure gay normality proponents are aware of this.  And since the overall trajectory of America is to follow our post-Christian, secular, progressive, socialist friends over in Europe, I figure it's a matter of time. 

Still, it's worth noting that a California Court did something that, from what I can tell, wasn't expected.  So you never know.

Don't send your fresh idea to Hollywood

Or it will die of loneliness.  Looks like the 1960s TV show The Munsters is going to be redone with the usual modern brooding and cynical 'everything sucks' spin.  I realize that television has long been known for being formulaic.  One need only watch sitcoms through the ages and see how often the same storyline comes through different shows.  I mean, remember the anti-gun mold?  Authority figure - usually a man, father, something - decides he wants to buy gun.  Everyone else who is always smarter than the male authority figure begs him not to, since owning guns is dangerous.  Something is delaying him doing so, and in the meantime, it comes about that the man gets up in the middle of the night for something.  While out and about, he hears a noise.  Since he doesn't have the gun yet, he improvises (frying pan, baseball bat, something), and waits to pounce on the unsuspecting burglar.  Turns out that, just in the nick of time, he realizes the noise was from one of the regular cast members.  It wasn't a burglar or home invader after all!  He heaves a great sigh of relief, everyone is thankful he didn't have the gun instead, he realizes the error of his ways, and comes back to the Purer Faith of 70s and 80s style progressive values.

So yeah, television shows aren't always the most original.  Usually one comes up and then everyone else copies until a new idea comes along.  But theres' something about Hollywood constantly turning toward old shows, old movies, old new movies, anything that's already there, especially in proportion to the lack of original ideas, that suggests the old machine is beginning to wear out its creative bearings.  Who knows?  Maybe there will be some Desi and Lucy to think outside the box and revitalize things.  It sure can't come too soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nothing to worry about

Nope.  It's just Russia saying they're starting to scratch that old nuclear war itch.  You know, nuclear saber rattling.  Hey, if it was Americans, American pols, then I'd worry.  Turns out, it's just some non-American country, so I'm sure it will all be fine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I love St. Mary Parish

Because of things like this:

I took this picture last night during the RCIA tour of the sanctuary.  I'm part of the team, but we didn't have much to do since that was handled by a professional tour giver - our youth director.  Some folks made their way up the winding stairs:

Stairs cool enough to deserve their own picture
To see what the choir loft looked like.  It didn't disappoint.  Even though I was informed there are major renovations on the horizon, everyone seemed to think it will be to preserve the wonderful architectural and traditional feel of the place.  I hope Catholics know that it's the link to the past, to the ancient, that gives Catholicism one of its biggest trump cards.  Churches like this one are a small part in keeping that feel alive, and go a long way toward avoiding the tendency to build parishes that appear to say 'pssst, maybe they won't think we're Catholic.'  Take a look at this parish.  It says 'we're Catholic' loud and clear.

Remember when?

By now we would have had the good books, kid style that is.  I couldn't wait until the old Wishbooks came to the door. Despite all attempts by my parents to the contrary, I still grew up with the notion that Christmas was a magical time where I got tons and tons of presents.  I know, it was superficial, shallow, materialistic.  I know now the meaning of Christmas, what it's all about, where the department stores end and the real traditions begin.  Still, I have to admit, it was a magical time in its own way.  Even by the release of this catalogue, at which time I was on may way toward turning ten years old, I still felt some magic in the air, even if it was due to my anticipation of coming down the stairs and seeing our tree surrounded by a stack of gifts.  Magic is magic to a kid after all, and maybe it's because of the innocence and culture in which those memories are located, but I still miss it. 

The religion of PETA continues to make a joke of itself

The Church of PETA has, once again, demanded conversion to its gospel of animal worship, and called for outrage against those who refuse to be proselytized.  Of course the bulk of humanity laughs.  But we laugh because we don't see it for what it is, a replacement faith for a faithless society.

You see, we Christians believe God exists.  And with that comes certain natural ramifications, such as the human tendency to be drawn toward worshipping the Creator.  When folks refuse to worship the creator, as often as not they will end up worshipping the created, one way or another.  Even atheists can turn their own atheism into a religion to be worshipped, or so say modern atheists who explain away the atrocities committed by atheists by stating that those atheists treated atheism like a religion.     

So in our post-modern, post-Christian society, did we really think religion would go away?  No, it's still here.  People will worship something: sex, football, money, themselves, animals, the environment, Mother Earth, whatever.  They will cleave unto ancient heathen gods, make up their own religions, something.  People will worship. 

Since most of our legal definitions of religion were formed back when the Judeo-Christian faith was the default religious setting, we tend to imagine religion looking like a church with a Bible and people praying and singing hymns.  And because we tend to see 'religion' in such a narrow way, proud, enlightened post-moderns are blind to the rise of religious alternative religions that are rising up.  And they are rising up with a zeal and a fanaticism that could shame a medieval inquisitor. 

And that's the funny thing.  The reason why most Westerners tossed out the Christian heritage of our civilization was, let's face it, for a good lay, a good romp in the sack, a few drugs, some bathroom humor, parties, greed, and narcissism galore.  The idea was that if we could just get rid of 'religion', we would be free, free, free!  And yet, new religions are rising that should make it clear to thinking people what the Bible always taught, that we are never free.  We simply trade servitude from one thing (the Creator of Heaven and Earth) for something else (animals, the state, government, baseball, you name it)*.  And those neo-faiths appear to leap over any evangelistic zeal yet seen when it comes to converting society, or demanding conformity to their dogmas if conversion eludes them.  Laugh all we want at PETA and their ilk, but be warned.

*See Paul's letter to the Romans for an excellent unpacking of worshipping created things, and being slaves to God as opposed to slaves to sinful ways.

I miss Thanksgiving for my boys, thank goodness for Martin Luther King

Today, it's not easy thinking Thanksgiving thoughts.  Like most traditional holidays, it has a certain inertia, carried on by the tradition that we should all get together and hang out with family, eat, watch football games, and plan on traveling.  Other than that, much of the traditional Thanksgiving paraphernalia is more or less just consumer goods with no real concern about its background.  In the public schools, I see little brought home that commemorates any historic connections to the event.  In my time, hand drawn turkeys that traced my fingers for the feathers, in-class pumpkin pie making, pictures of the Pilgrims trekking through the winter woods, lessons and stories and plays and even old projector movies relating the events of those early days of the Plymouth settlement all reminded us of what the holiday was about.

It wasn't unusual for us to have a band concert or similar production the day before our Thanksgiving break.  Sure, for most of us kids, Thanksgiving break was that tiding over, that pregame festivity that heralded the mack daddy of all holidays, Christmas.  Today, that's called Winter Break.  Then, Christian or no, it was Christmas.  And even for those of us not in church, we loved every minute of it.  Thanksgiving, even more than Halloween, meant the most wonderful day of the year was coming soon.

Today, of course, due to multi-cultural education and PC sensitivities and censorship, we no longer have such easy recounting of the events of that first Thanksgiving so long ago.  Instead, as is usual today, we are reminded of the meaner things, the 'genocide' that arguably didn't really happen but we learn it that way anyway, the imperialism, the racism, the ill treatment of the Native populations - all of these become the focus.  In deference to any potentially offensive presentation, little to no focus on any traditional Thanksgiving trappings is done.  There might be a turkey picture here, or a lesson if the student happens to be in a grade that teaches history there.  But nothing major.  There are certainly no big celebrations, pumpkin pie feasts, band concerts on Wednesday (or Tuesday), or any such thing.  At best - and I admit I've become happy with the break-even point - we just stop hearing about the awful legacy of America's horrendous past for a couple days.

In fact, with our modern sensitivities, most schools have little to do with this or that holiday formerly known as Christmas.  There will be some winter decorations, and of course the break that happens to fall over the last couple weeks of December.  But our schools have become wastelands of doldrums and yawns, daring not to celebrate anything traditional lest someone be offended by the references. 

But come January, they will begin winding up for America's new Holy Day: The Feast of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  They will spend weeks watching films, reading books, drawing pictures, attending assemblies.  The hallways will be adorned with his pictures, with quotes, with references to the moments of his life.  They will see clips from his March on Washington.  They will be told to make the day special, to take in its meaning, to apply themselves to making our world a better place.  It will be all the things that the holiday formerly known as Christmas and that other one that is still somewhat special because of family but not because of the horrible legacy it represents, used to be.

Which goes to show you.  Every culture, every generation, every ideological revolution, every nation has its heroes, its holy days, it absolute values that it demands everyone conform to absolutely.  Ours today is no different.  Having dispensed with the old guard under the auspices of tolerance and sensitivity toward all people, beliefs and demographic groups, we now fill the void with new absolute value systems with their teachings and heroes, and bid a gradual farewell to the celebrations of yore that no longer have a place in the post-modern, post American nation in which we live.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

You know the GOP has done something screwy

When their stance on torture has made the fact that President Obama calls water boarding 'torture' news.  Twenty years ago, would anyone have said differently? I can't figure out why, why, why so many in the conservative/GOP movement have hitched their wagons to defending torture.  No, strike that.  Not just defending, but proudly advocating and celebrating it.  I mean, geeesh.  If I was going to condone it, defend it, say it was needed since terrorists basically throw the rules of war out the window and base their entire grand strategic overviews on things condemned by every modern civilized state, I would like to think I'd hang my head in shame.  I'd do it in behind closed doors, in whispered tones and hushed voices.  In candlelight.  Behind the crates in the corner. 

But no.  Hell no.  The only party with a chance for stopping Obama's disastrously inept presidency has decided it will grab the pompoms and give a shout of joy for what we used to associate with the Vietcong, the Gestapo, the KGB, the Chinese Communists.  This is stuff that American Indians did that used to be a blight on their claim to the moral high ground (at least for non-multiculturalists).  So why do they have to cheer?  Why do Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Bachmann, Cain and others have to act as if it's a badge of honor that they want this to be our policy?  It does make voting for a third party candidate seem more appealing by the hour.

Thank goodness for the Russians

Where would America's space program be without them?  Of course we could always go to the Chinese.  It's not easy being in a second rate has-been society, but I think we Americans are beginning to warm up to the idea.

The award for best assessment of the Penn State scandal goes to

Mark Shea, over at Catholic and Enjoying It.  I won't add anything.  Just go there and read it, take it in, and think of how it applies to so many areas of modern life.  Well said Mark.

Friday, November 11, 2011

They're back

I've decided to reinstate the Comments Section of the posts...for the time being.  We'll see.  It's been so long since they've been up, and I have no clue who is and isn't stopping by.  If nobody comments, or if they start out nasty, off they go.  But for now, I'm willing to give folks the chance to opine, and even call me on things.  So here goes nothing.

Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois to Leftist Juggernaut

You win.  That's just what the post-moder secular left wants, and homosexuality is the hammer with which it hopes to bludgeon the Christian witness out of our society.  Note to the Left: Continue holding a gun to the heads of our widows and orphans, and I'm sure more Christian groups will cave.  Yes, I applaud the organization's commitment to the children, as opposed to the gay rights disregard for the same, but it is still a resounding victory for the anti-Christian/anti-Catholic salivating on the Left.

Retailers pine for the elimination of Thanksgiving

Walmart, not to be outdone by Target, has said it will screw its employee's families open up at 10:00 on Thanksgiving.  I know, as a Catholic, Thanksgiving is an overblown relic of our puritanical past, where anal retentive puritans who alone brought intolerance and religious persecution to the world, came to push aside the Catholic elements of our heritage. 

Meanwhile, for most post-moderns, American Indians are able to have carte blanche when it comes to portraying their ancestors as the pure, sinless, perfect bearers of love and peace, and the pilgrims as racist, imperialist, Nazi genocidal murderers.  That the pilgrims actually established a peace treaty that lasted almost 50 years (not a bad record for a peace treaty), and should be used as an example of what could have, or should have, happened between the Indians and settlers is ignored.  Nope.  They were white, European, Christians and that's as guilty as it gets. 

So we have a day that many some Catholics appear to sneer at, and post-moderns, secularists, and American Indians condemn as the beginning of the 'American Holocaust'.  So why still have the day?  I don't know.  I like it, so I'm glad it's around.  And while I like to point folks to the Catholic presence in our country's past, I don't mind including the bravery, courage, and devotion to God that exemplified what the Pilgrims were all about. 

But like everything else in our country now, it's not sex rights, abortion rights, or equality.  It's money.  Money, plain and simple, that drives us.  And Walmart, Target, and any other consumerist juggernaut doesn't give one rip about families, traditions, meaning, nothing.  They serve one god, and I'll let you guess which one it is.  Those who take advantage of it for cheap prices?  Welcome to the society you are building. revisited

So, where were you when it happened?  Indeed, what were you doing?

A blast from the past for all of the media pundits pouncing on Cain

Remember this classic?

Followed, of course, by that all time favorite:

None of this matters. That's what they said back in the day. Please ignore what they are saying today.

The best take on the whole Herman Cain accusations so far

Over at Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It, I found a link to this article by Elizabeth Scalia.  She pretty much says all there is to say.  If you're like me, and a growing number of folks, you'll admit there's something fishy about the way the media is handling Cain's crisis.  Yes, if he's guilty I think he should be punished, legally and politically.  It appears most in the media do as well. In fact, it appears some are wondering if the very presence of the accusations don't preclude him from office.  Just because he's been accused. And that's the problem. 

Now, to the Wayback machine, and we visit that little time in America's recent past (or ancient history based on the historical awareness that seems to be fostered by the Internet Age).  It was a time when our own president, Bill Clinton, had been accused repeatedly of sexually harassing a string of women.  During the course of investigating this, and looking to provide evidence that Clinton may not be the most reliable source when it comes to his honesty about sexual behavior, Ken Starr (remember him? Four Years and Forty Million Dollars Starr?) found that Clinton had lied under oath when asked about a sexual encounter in the White House.  This revelation came by way of a taped confession by a young intern named Monica Lewinsky. 

I feel the need to write all of this because to hear the media go after Cain, you'd think this never happened.  Anyway, when the news broke that Clinton was caught in a lie about an affair in the Oval Office, and one that he had lied about under oath in order to cover up allegations of sexual harassment, everything hit the fan.  The coverage, which has been debated and discussed somewhat in recent days across the blogosphere and in some Right Wing media outlets, happened in four basic phases:

Phase 1: The first hours after the story broke.  Almost everyone assumed that if it was true, Clinton was gone.  Not just because he had the affair, not just because he had the affair as president IN THE WHITE HOUSE, but because he had lied under oath.  When the late Peter Jennings dropped the I-word, most thought the jig was up.

Phase 2: Hillary Clinton appeared on the Today Show, and gave the press their marching orders.  It was all part of a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.  Granted, the Right had accused Clinton of everything under the sun, from being a Communist to being a Martian, so it wasn't hard to believe this was just one more accusation (even if some of the accusations appeared to have a grain of truth to them).  But either way, from this point on the MSM covered the story as if it were the Right's to prove.  More than that, they went after the Right, the Conservative Movement, and the Republicans with a vengeance.  We were also given story after story, interview after interview, in which architects, ex-Secret Service members, presidential staffers, former Intern, scholars, scientists, janitors, delivery truck drivers, and anyone under the sun assured us that it was physically impossible for a president to have done what he was accused of doing.  At the same time, suspicions fell upon Miss Lewinsky, encouraged by Clinton's Hunter-Killer team whose job it was to take out any who stood in Clinton's way.  Suggestions that she was just some crazed women like Paula Jones and all the others, began to emerge.

Phase 3: The Dress.  Perhaps because she didn't want to go down the road of others who got in Clinton's way, Lewinsky's mother presents to the world The Dress.   At that point, you would have thought it was over.  Realizing that Clinton had 1) lied under oath, 2) lied to the American public repeatedly, 3) falsely accused his accusers (both Lewinsky and the Republicans), and 4) had the affair during work hours while supposedly worrying about pesky fellows with weird names like Osama bin Laden, most assumed this was it.  Because the MSM realized they had been played like fools, their outrage was deafening.  For days and weeks, they went after Clinton.  Further anger arose at Clinton's elusive lawyering, his appeals to defining complex terms like 'is', and his general assumption that ignoring job duties, lying, committing perjury, and slandering honest accusers was no big deal.  What mattered was that he had given America the greatest economy in the history of the universe, and we needed to focus on what really mattered.  After all, his campaign was the one that first told us there are no morals, just money (as in 'It's the economy, stupid!)

Phase 4: The MSM realizes what this means.  The media had been under scrutiny for some time regarding our friend Mr. Clinton.  Going into the 90s, most Americans still believed the media was a source of relatively unbiased truth finding.  The 1992 election, in which the MSM showed a disproportionate amount of positive attention to the Clinton campaign, even though he was not the incumbent, suggested some bias was afoot.  Later, in the mid-90s during the Government Shutdown, it was hard not to see that the media was quick to blame only the Republicans for the failure of both they and Clinton to come to an agreement.  Their tendency to accept the Clinton Administration's narrative was beginning to suggest that the media felt it was their job to get Clinton elected, and keep him there.  And why not?  Most media folk by that time were liberal Baby Boomers, and Clinton appeared to be everything they espoused.  Gone was that crusty old WWII generation.  In was the newer, hipper, joint-smoking, sax-playing generation that would set it right. 

So it wasn't really that much of a shock when the tides of the media narrative began to change.  As movement toward impeachment began to pick up steam, folks in the media - perhaps because they realized what was at stake - changed how everything was being discussed.  For some reason, the Republicans continued to be portrayed as the bad guys.  Ken Starr, Linda Tripp, and others associated with the accusations were all but mauled by the media, popular culture, Saturday Night Live, you name it.

But that still left us with a president who had done everything mentioned.  A president who was still accused of sexual harassment - the worst charge imaginable through the 80s and 90s, one that almost destroyed a Supreme Court Justice's nomination.  What to do? 

The answer was simple.  It. Didn't. Matter.  It was all about sex, so who cared.  Most presidents had affairs we were told.  In fact, most men have affairs.  It didn't matter.  It was just about sex.  The word 'Sex' had been used, so that made it personal, private, irrelevant.  Let Clinton and his ever present family whenever he was seen in public, work things out.  It didn't matter.  Character?  Morals?  Values?  Bah.  Look at France.  Look at England.  They think we're nuts (even if the English were trying to use Prince Charles's dalliances as a reason to eliminate the Royal Family).  It didn't matter.  We needed to get to reality.  He had given us the greatest economy in the world (with critics concerned about the growing level of debt behind it all relegated to the VRWC), so we needed to grow up.  Who cares about such relative things?  Who cares about old puritanical values?  What president is perfect anyway?  Who cares?  The media said it.  Experts interviewed assured us it didn't matter.  Feminist leaders conveniently moved on and suggested Clinton's stances on unlimited pro-abortion rights were what counted.  And America, apparently, bought it.

That was the bargain that 66% of Americans accepted in order to keep the status quo.  A status quo that wasn't true.  Troubles were already brewing.  A subversive plot to hijack jet airliners and fly them into key structures and kill thousands was already underway, and undetected.  Signs that the economy was weaker than presented were beginning to show.  Our place in the post-Cold War had not been adequately established, as other competing powers were beginning to sit up and take notice.  And yet, we were told that everything was fine.  Things like sexual harassment apparently weren't that big after all.  Morals, character, values, truth, perjury didn't matter.  As long as we thought everything was fine, just look the other way, insist the emperor's clothes look quite nice, and all will be well.

The results have, of course, been devastating  on so many levels I can't get into them all.  It should be obvious to anyone with a brain.  But beyond all this is the blatant joke of the media's objectivity.  Anyone who can come out of watching their shock, their righteous indignation, their obsession with the gravity of the charges against Cain after having lived through the late 90s, and still think that the Media is all about Truth, is a person most apt to believe that babies are delivered by storks and the moon is made of cheese.  It is a person quite willing to live in a world of unreality for the sake of immediate and personal gain.  And I hope and pray a growing number of people realize this, since a country filled with 66% of that type of a person, doesn't stand much of a chance in the 21st century, or any century for that matter.

It's Martinmas!

Martinmas?  What's Martinmas?  I know it's Veterans Day, and it's a time I always take to thank those who served in our armed forces for giving me this freedom I hope never to take for granted.  But Martinmas?  What is that?  I don't remember any school assemblies proclaiming that when I was growing up.  But then, I am only old enough to vaguely remember mentioning He whose name can not be mentioned in schools anyway.  So, what could it be?

Turns out, Martinmas was quite the holiday back in the Old Country.  For St. Martin of Tours, it was often seen as the 'official' beginning of winter.  Just on a  causal note, we had our first snowflakes fall last night, so it isn't difficult for me to believe.  It also marks the end to the Octave of All Souls. 

There is a lot of custom here, and it's been a bit of a disappointment how many of these little special moments in the Catholic calendar didn't make there way to the New World.  That probably comes with our Protestant heritage.  I don't look for the emerging secular dominion to look back lovingly toward reinstating any of these customs.  Still, it's nice to know.  It's nice to think of a time when the Catholic calendar was a daily event, and many special times came by for the average peasant to celebrate.

We - stupidly - think of the pre-moder peasant as some slave to labor and boredom and endless work and toil.  Us.  People who work now for less than anyone in recent memory whose main triumph is the ability to purchase a Smart Phone that's now 1/2 mm. smaller than the last one.  Oh, we have our vacation time, where we bring our phones, pads, and laptops and work most of it for fear of losing out to the one willing to labor day and night without ceasing. 

But there was a time when the average peasant worked, toiled, and then celebrated.  And the Catholic calendar seemed to give no end to the days and seasons they had to celebrate.  One Medieval scholar I remember reading quipped that it was hard to imagine that they got any work done, when the number of days set aside to celebrate and feast and frolic, both by liturgy and by custom, are tallied.   Thank goodness we aren't dumb like those people!

Anyway, it was a special day.  It still is by way of Veterans Day.  But it can also be special for other reasons.  Click here,* here,** and here just for a little background. 

*I know it's Wikipedia.  Typically I never reference that out of pride.  But since it's more or less for fun and frivolity, I figured what the heck.

**Fisheaters is a website I found on my way into the Catholic Church.  I appreciated it because it set out many 'what in the world is that all about' details regarding the Catholic Church.  It is from a pre-Vatican II outlook, however, and can have some pretty strong ideas about the non-Catholic world around us.  Just saying.  Still worth a look. 

Thank you Veterans

No other words needed.
It's a day to remember what Veterans have done for us.  I know we live in an age of uber-cynicism.  We hear every day that all politicians are liars, that our entire government sucks, that big business this, and big something else that.  We hear how voting is a waste of time, doesn't matter, and heck, could even jeopardize your soul, so best just to write in Mickey Mouse and head off to Qumran and await the consummation of God's Justice on everyone else who voted.  We live in an age where a people segregated from reality through electronic interaction with the world around us can speak lofty words about how useless, baseless, and worthless all of this failed American experiment has been.  And yet, for some reason, we rally around the flag and thank our veterans on this day for making all of this possible.

For me, I try - I try really hard - to avoid such grand cynicism.  Yes, there's a healthy skepticism that comes from the Christian understanding of sin and living in a fallen world.  In an age where, as a Catholic, I must hang my head in shame for the catastrophic lack of oversight that occurred when it came to protecting the most innocent of our own for endless decades, I'm inclined to be forgiving toward other institutions that are not so endowed with the grace of God when they fail. 

Sure, America, like any human endeavor, has failed.  Sure it's in major turmoil now as ideals hostile toward God, Christianity, and human life itself struggle to assume control of our county.  And we live in a time where worn out and threadbare citizens are simply loping along waiting for the next Smart Phone release, oblivious to the threats that lurk on the horizon.  And yet, when I think of the alternative, I am still quite proud of this country.  When I realize that the Church actually encourages me to take part in our civil discourse, including the importance of voting (and that means for more than Billy Bob down the street just to make it official), then I realize just how precious was the price paid by those who gave their last measure of devotion for this special and unique experiment that is the American nation.  May we live up to the promise for which they fought, sacrificed, and died.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Abraham Lincoln.

Where will you be?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bil Keane has died

Sad to hear.  His Family Circus cartoons were a staple of the funny pages when I was growing up.  Were they the funniest, blow beer out your nose and fall off the chair in laughter comics?  No.  They didn't have to be.  They didn't have to be profound, or deep, or ironic, or witty, or anything.  We had other strips, like Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, and Bloom County, for that.  But Family Circus filled in that little void, just right for childhood nostalgia.  Funny thing was, it filled me with a sense of nostalgia when I was a child!  Don't know why, but it seemed to be childhood the way I both experienced it and wanted to experience it.  I have no clue if it was intentional or not, but that's how I experienced the strips.  So thanks for the memories both then and now Mr. Keane, may you rest in peace.