Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Recycled news

This just in on the AP:  The Crystal Cathedral is going to become a Catholic Church.  That's really amazing news, if it weren't for the fact that it was news back in November of last year.  Same basic story.  Nothing really news.  Nothing major here.  Just an observation.  How much of what we see as news is really news?  Or is it just put out there thinking it will be news to some one?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Where is the New Evangelization?

Catholic Online asks the million dollar question: after decades of Pope John Paul II's New Evangelization, where is it?  As is well known, without immigration, the Catholic Church in America would be losing members like a sinking ship.   Ex-Catholics have been called the single largest denomination in America.  If we've had 30 years of emphasizing evangelization, where are the results?  Why aren't we seeing them in our own back yards? 

Well, I'm not an expert.  I don't have degrees from Catholic universities.  I don't have access to the highest offices in the Church.  But I do hail from a denomination that, for all its flaws and warts, was known for its emphasis on missions, evangelization, and church growth.  For better or worse, doing evangelism in that denomination was the source and summit of the faith, and it was around evangelization that everything - church, worship, ministries, pastoral counseling, everything - was measured.  So there are few observations I'd like to make.

One, evangelization is not just something you say.  It's how you live.  It's how things revolve.  Right now, the source and summit of Catholicism is the Eucharist.  OK, that's fine.  That brings me and, like a laser beam, focuses me on Jesus.  It's me and Jesus.  It's Jesus and me.  That's as it should be.  But it can't only be that.  Because if the focus is on Jesus and me, and nobody else makes three, then it's highly unlikely I will develop an actual passion for anything but a faith that revolves around Jesus and me. 

And that is a major, major, major issue I see in Catholicism.  It isn't spelled out.  It isn't an official doctrine.  But somehow, in some way, many Catholics I see or listen to (or more often, read on the Internet), have developed an approach to the faith that says the single most important thing in the universe is me, getting to heaven.  That's it.  Everything else, and I mean every thing else, comes dead last. 

This manifests itself in some strange discussion in the Catholic blogosphere.  Even when Catholics are standing on the teachings of the Church, one can't help but get a whiff of something wrong in the mix.  There's a sort of 'I don't care what happens, as long as I get to heaven.'  Nothing is more important than me being saved, and since the Church calls for nothing less than perfection, and any one of a number of mortal sins can derail that journey, it's not hard to see the logical outcome of such an approach to one's faith: I'd rather do nothing, than take the chance on doing something wrong.  Or, I may simply not develop a faith that puts much emphasis on others, at least on other beings' physical, worldly needs.

Think this is far fetched?  Just consider some conversations I've had with folks in my eight years of Catholic livun'.  Some years ago, an argument broke out over the dropping of the atomic bombs in Japan.  Now, officially, the Church leadership condemns those.  Fair enough.  This falls under 'don't kill innocent civilians, even in war.'  And yet, watching the debate, I couldn't help but notice something.  There is this trend in Catholic debate that puts much emphasis on 'doing' something that is an intrinsic evil.  That is, if it's sinful, wrong, evil, you can't do it, ever.  Now in this debate, you had many wishing to buttress their arguments by the usual 'Japan was a country of peace', 'all Japan wanted was to give peace a chance', 'Japan was begging to surrender but we just wanted to nuke babies.' 

Anyone who studies history and is honest about things knows, especially in light of the last 20 years of other Asian countries revealing the horrors of Imperial Japan, that this was not the case, no matter what Japan says.  No matter how Japan officially wants us to believe it, there is no suggestion that Japan was all about peace, love, and John Lennon songs in 1945.  That still doesn't make the bombings right, but it does make it more difficult to find an alternative.  So in this discussion, I noticed someone bringing back the increasingly likely chance that America would have had to invade to end the war.  Hundreds of thousands could have died.  Hundreds of thousands of civilians and children as well.  After all, the casualty rates on Okinawa, a mere island off the coast of Japan, were horrible.  What of that?  What of an invasion that could have killed ten times the casualties of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

The answers still echo in my mind.  You see, they explained, if we had launched an invasion that slaughtered millions, that's different.  That's not directly causing their deaths.  By dropping the bombs, we were directly causing the deaths of those people.  That's the evil.  That's the sin.  But an invasion?  Well, that doesn't have to cause those deaths, their deaths may simply be a logical extension of the invasion.  They may be the result, but they weren't directly caused by our actions, merely indirectly caused.  We directly caused the deaths of the civilians in Hiroshima.  And invasion would not directly cause deaths, therefore we would not be to blame.

And it's that idea - that it's one thing to indirectly cause the wholesale mass slaughter of innocent civilians, or that it's one thing to indirectly lead someone to believing a false reality - that's the heart of the issue.  For if we boil it all down, what we have is a faith that says you're better off not doing than doing.  To do is risk.  To do is chance.  To indirectly do is better, but I can't help but notice, hear, and observe that in actual Catholic living, many Catholics seem to have concluded that if it's safer to indirectly do things, perhaps the safest of all is to do nothing.  After all, if indirectly causing mass slaughter is fine, certainly doing nothing at all while mass slaughter occurs is acceptable, possibly even preferred.  Hey!  I didn't cause anything in any way.  I simply stayed on the bleachers, kept my uniform clean, and rejoiced the the pearly gates yawn before me.

And that's something I've picked up on.  Many Catholics, emphasizing their own salvation to the exclusion of all other considerations, have developed, perhaps without realizing it, a faith focused on themselves getting to heaven.  All other priorities rescinded.  All other considerations secondary.  Heck, there could be any one of a thousand things you do that could jeopardize your soul, but by doing nothing, you're safe. It's you, it's the Eucharist, and that's just fine by God. 

I don't for a minute believe that a Catholic would spell it out that way.  In fact, if a Catholic did, there could be hope.  That means they admit it, and you could reason with them why there might be something missing in the whole evangelizing equation under such an approach.  But I have the fear that many Catholics, without realizing it, have that very ethic ingrained within them.  Sometimes it's convenience - it gets me off the hook of getting my hands dirty in a sinful, fallen world.  But as often as not (and this is giving benefit of the doubt here), it's possibly a foundational approach to living that is as subconscious as anything could be.

And that could explain why, in the end, Catholics are not that evangelistic by nature, and it will take a whole lot more than saying 'New Evangelization' to change that.  It's the nature, it's the essence of Catholicism that Catholics just don't outreach.  It's habit almost. Habit born of focusing how I can get to heaven, everything comes second. When I was working in a publishing company as I went through RCIA, I remember one of the managers was obviously Catholic: calenders with nuns, Catholic icons, Catholic prayers all about her desk.  One day I thought I would tell her that I was a former Protestant minister, but I was becoming Catholic!  Hurray!  She just looked at me and, to be honest, I'm not even sure she said anything.  Had that been a Methodist, a Lutheran, a Baptist? Why, I'd have at least been acknowledged, if not invited to her church to give a testimony.  I don't feel insulted, however, because it's as if my entire statement didn't even register.  I found, in bringing this up to other Catholics, the bulk tended to respond the same way.

Not that there aren't Catholics who appreciate Protestants, especially former ministers, who become Catholic.  But on the other hand, there are those Catholics who would rather see folks stay out of their church.  So it evens out.  The point is, reaching out, going with the flow of my conversation starter, wasn't even on the radar screen.  It wasn't even part of the whole 'being Catholic' package.

Sometimes Catholics love, and I mean love, to bring out that famous line attributed to St. Francis: proclaim the Gospel always, and when necessary use words.  First of all, it's doubtful that Francis actually said that.  But even if he did, two observations: one, he still allows for the need to use words.  And two, why do I have the feeling that most Catholics who drop this little quote weren't saying 'Gee, if only Francis hadn't said that, I'd be on the street corner now, proclaiming the Gospel for all the hear!'  It's what's called in most circles of living, a cop-out.  It should never be brought up.  It merely means, if Francis said it at all, make sure you live the faith. Make sure you are an example.

Which brings me to another point.  I posted on this in one of my earliest posts (back when I was young and foolish).  Now everyone knows Catholics like to drink the bountiful fruit of the vine and celebrate life.  If you've been to a Catholic wedding, you know that much.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  Protestants, many of whom are descended from the Puritans of old, sometimes retain some of the more, shall with say, prudish tendencies of living.  A cold beer, a glass of wine, a selective expletive to drive home a point, a nice game of poker among friends - there should never be the idea that these things are wrong in themselves.  If you don't wish to do them, no problem.  But it is nothing that we should point fingers at other Christians for enjoying.

Stop.  With that said, there's the issue of moderation, and that's where Catholics can go overboard.  In college, we used to joke that if you wanted to 'get lucky', you should avoid religious girls...but Catholics were just as good.  I knew Catholics who could out-cuss, out-drink, out-gamble, and out-debauch the most God-hating atheist.  And while Catholics like to point out that they are not - NOT - puritans, there is an opposite extreme.  Like it or not, most Americans, atheists and secularists included, think that being religious should mean that you don't appear to live life in the George Carlin fast lane.  That sitting in a sanctuary, you shouldn't hear people talking as if they are reciting a long lost routine from Eddie Murphy.  That you shouldn't go to a party and be able to bet with some confidence that the ones most drunk out of their minds will be at Mass the next day - if they decide to go at all.

Hence, we have the issue of the Witness.  And we'll get to that, along with a few other quick observations, on the next post.  The importance of 'Living' a life of faith as a crucial aspect of Evangelization.  For now, that's the first thought.  A faith that, intentionally or not, leads people to believe that the most important part of existence is me getting to heaven, is going to be a faith where I can't help but inadvertently end up believing that the most important thing in the universe is me getting to heaven.  That inward focus is going to make the outward focus necessary for an evangelistic mindset nigh on impossible.  If doing nothing and focusing on my own self to the exclusion of anything else combine, then we will end up with a Church of over a billion people focused on themselves, and doing nothing for fear of losing everything.  Whether we want to admit it or not. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Today is St. John's Eve

A much celebrated event in the Old Country, especially in more eastern portions of Europe, St. John's Eve is, duh, the day before the nativity of St. John the Baptist:

Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John: And if you will receive it, he is Elias that is to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.   Matthew 11: 11-15

This commemorates his birthday and, in keeping with the liturgical calendar, occurs just six months before the birth of Jesus.  This is the typical Catholic way of giving us a religious calendar, rather than one oriented around tax time and furniture sales.  Throughout the ages, many different customs arose around this feast, or were simply moved from old pagan customs and repackaged for the revelation of Christ and his followers.  So start yourself a bonfire, sing a round of Ut queant laxis, and sit back and read through a sermon from St. Augustine on the subject, followed by an account from Josephus, who usually doesn't count because he represents extra-biblical accounts of Jesus that aren't supposed to exist (but with John, it's OK, he's not Jesus):

The Church observes the birth of John as in some way sacred; and you will not find any other of the great men of old whose birth we celebrate officially. We celebrate John’s, as we celebrate Christ’s. This point cannot be passed over in silence, and if I may not perhaps be able to explain it in the way that such an important matter deserves, it is still worth thinking about it a little more deeply and fruitfully than usual.

John is born of an old woman who is barren; Christ is born of a young woman who is a virgin. That John will be born is not believed, and his father is struck dumb; that Christ will be born is believed, and he is conceived by faith.

I have proposed some matters for inquiry, and listed in advance some things that need to be discussed. I have introduced these points even if we are not up to examining all the twists and turns of such a great mystery, either for lack of capacity or for lack of time. You will be taught much better by the one who speaks in you even when I am not here; the one about whom you think loving thoughts, the one whom you have taken into your hearts and whose temple you have become.

John, it seems, has been inserted as a kind of boundary between the two Testaments, the Old and the New. That he is somehow or other a boundary is something that the Lord himself indicates when he says, The Law and the prophets were until John. So he represents the old and heralds the new. Because he represents the old, he is born of an elderly couple; because he represents the new, he is revealed as a prophet in his mother’s womb.

You will remember that, before he was born, at Mary’s arrival he leapt in his mother’s womb. Already he had been marked out there, designated before he was born; it was already shown whose forerunner he would be, even before he saw him. These are divine matters, and exceed the measure of human frailty.

Finally, he is born, he receives a name, and his father’s tongue is loosed. Zachary is struck dumb and loses his voice, until John, the Lord’s forerunner, is born and releases his voice for him. What does Zachary’s silence mean, but that prophecy was obscure and, before the proclamation of Christ, somehow concealed and shut up? It is released and opened up by his arrival, it becomes clear when the one who was being prophesied is about to come. The releasing of Zachary’s voice at the birth of John has the same significance as the tearing of the veil of the Temple at the crucifixion of Christ. If John were meant to proclaim himself, he would not be opening Zachary’s mouth. The tongue is released because a voice is being born – for when John was already heralding the Lord, he was asked, Who are you and he replied I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. John is the voice, but the Lord in the beginning was the Word. John is a voice for a time, but Christ is the eternal Word from the beginning.
From St. Augustine

Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him.

From the writings of Josephus

Americans are idiots

In a wonderful piece over at Catholic Online, Andrew Greenwell unpacks the nasty truth that America is quickly becoming a nation of idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  We are doing so, as I have said for years, because we posses no common values, no common good, no common decency, and no common sense.  Being a lawyer, Greenwell works more from a SCOTUS perceptive, reflecting on justice Kennedy's rather infamous view that "at the heart of liberty is the right to define one's concept of existence, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."  In other words, nothing is real, and nothing to get hung about; I just believe in me, Yoko and Me, that's reality.  Yep.  That's more or less what our country has been lurching toward for 50 years, and now we're seeing the fruits. Read the article, it's good.  We Americans aren't idiots, as Bill Maher suggests, because we don't fall in line with secular liberal dogmas, and the right to abort and euthanize whatever stands in the way of better orgasms.  We are idiots because it's what we want to be, and what we've chosen to become: a nation focused on ME, and nothing else, including the Almighty.

Atheists and Muslims need not apply for President

On one hand, the findings of this poll, if they are to be believed, are bothersome.  It's not good that in America, we would judge a person just because of their beliefs, one way or another.  Though I partly fault the back-and-forth between the religious right and the secular liberal media.  As ostracizing of traditional religious (read: Christian) values in our country has caused a movement to form in protest (the religious right), the media has turned this into a liability for many candidates.  How many times in the last 10 years have we seen a politician's Christian beliefs scrutinized by the media, as if merely being a devout Christian should somehow preclude you from running for office?

Since most Americans still identify, in some way or another, as Christian, it's not hard to see why this would breed a tendency to look toward belief has a fundamental characteristic of a candidate, especially if the candidate holds beliefs not scrutinized in the same way by the MSM.  Thus we have this, where Christians and those close to the Christian faith come off fairly well in a poll.  Still, it isn't encouraging, and I'd be happy if the idea of religion could be private once again, and that includes private both ways - not just telling Christians to sit down and shut up while folks with non-Christian beliefs can parade them proudly, but keeping all such things to a personal level, and respecting those of differing beliefs and what they bring to the table.

But that's not where things are.  That's the first thing I come from this poll thinking. The second, however, is that if any groups are going to fail, it's not illogical that it would be these groups.  First, the Muslims.  I think it's foolish to imagine that simply because a person is a Muslim, they represent a threat to our freedoms.  That's foolish, and demonstrably false. 

With that said, however, the attitudes and responses to America by Muslims since 9/11 has been, at times, confusing at best.  It took years before Muslim representatives would, on national TV, actually condemn the terrorist attacks outright and without qualifications.  Even then, many continue to dangle old, lame notions that 'it's the Crusader's fault', or 'Christians nuked babies in Japan' as if that somehow reduces blame on the terrorists.  In addition, many Muslims who speak and talk about the topic, tend to wrap it up with 'it's still America's fault' or 'real Muslims never do wrong, so you can't blame Islam', ideals not usually accepted when Christians or other groups attempt the same line of arguments. 

In addition to these tendencies, you have that Islamic characteristic of not looking like the browbeat Christians of America.  More than once, a Muslim will draw stark lines between modern new-age sensitivities and the absolute confessional truths of Islam in a way that, were it a Christian doing the same, he would be lumped into the category of 'right wing fundamentalist fringe.' 

And then, beyond all that, you have Muslims who seem to want to focus on the worst that America has done, which has been, on the whole, very little.  Some vandalism.  Some threats.  In the early days following 9/11, some reprisals and even a few assaults.  But as of now, more Americans have been killed on American soil by Muslims than Muslims on American soil by Americans.  In fact, despite the media narrative, there have been relatively few - proportionally speaking - reprisals against Muslims since 9/11.  And  yet, to hear far too many Muslims speak, we are a nation of ignorant bigots and racists, loping about and looking for innocent Muslims to slaughter by the millions.  Somehow people who seem to want to focus on the minor to non-existent, while appearing reluctant to give credit where it is due, can unnerve people.  These things probably account for the Muslim side of the poll.  Plus, of course, you have some Americans who are just bigots, and wouldn't vote for a Muslim if none of the things previously mentioned had occurred.

Now, the atheists.  That's far less difficult to understand.  Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens, P.Z. Myers, Bill Maher - as long as they are the darlings of modern atheism, don't expect the religiously oriented American public to vote yes in November.  In our world, where higher education is secular progressive, and our media outlets are not far behind the same path, these individuals are praised, lauded, celebrated, and rewarded.  If you took their same statements and tweaked them so that Christians said the same thing, they would be condemned, mocked, loathed, and cut off from mainstream debate. 

Their attitudes are based on half-truths, no truths, and an exploitation of a lazy and intellectually floundering generation.  They use bigotry and ignorance to paint ludicrous and simplistic pictures of reality, while meandering about levels of extremism that, if they were in the religious camp, would be somewhere between radical fundamentalist and Fred Phelps.  Logic and common sense should shoot holes in their hatred of religion, and yet the industries that should hold them at bay - education and media - are more than happy to help and reward accordingly.

Still, even though they are beloved of our universities and news outlets, most Americans are, rightly so, suspicious of individuals who more or less say that they are the true intellectual mater race, superior in thought to religious dolts, and religion, being the singular cause of evil in the world, needs wiped off the planet so that humanity may thrive.  Their twisted logic used to support such demonstrably false notions is the stuff of legend, and yet it gets a pass every time.  At least it does with our elites.  With the average thinking American, not so much.  Even a few atheists cringe at what they see representing atheism in our post-modern age.  Unfortunately, those atheists who attempt to distance themselves are not enough, and thinking Americans are not going to vote for someone from a camp that seems to appreciate the idea that religion is a stupid and evil lie that needs eradicated from open society.  Until new spokespeople for atheism emerge, I don't see this changing any time soon.  And that's a good thing. 

The emperor Obama's new campaign

I've been hearing about the evils of the American Empire my whole life. The funny thing is, the more we emphasize the evils of America, the faster we seem to be heading toward actually being as bad as we've been saying it is. Especially in a country devoid of fundamental principles and world views. This is not something that is Right or Left of course. But it is seen more keenly on the Left, where traditional religious and philosophical grounding for one's outlook on life has been replaced by a narcissistic emphasis on the imperial, autonomous ME.

Now in terms of religion, theism as it is, we've always been taught that humans have an innate 'God Space' in their hearts. Humans will worship something. So when atheists insist that Communism was treated like religion, and that's why it was evil, it easy to believe. In the absence of God, people will worship.

And this sort of cultic worship of a human or thing is more, shall we say, obvious among the Left than Right. Again, to emphasize, it can easily happen on the Right. But it is more common today, and more flagrant on the Left. For the Left has long abandoned the notion of God, religion, or worship in the traditional sense. Even liberal religious leaders subscribe to a watered down, self-focused narcissistic spirituality that more or less focuses on me, me, and me. Hence, that desire to worship something is left wanting. And so in walks Obama, who for political expediency will naturally want to encourage a certain devotion from his base. That's not uncommon. But since he is pandering to a grouping already devoid of serious objects of worship, he is able - with a straight face - to do what even mockeries of political personality cults wouldn't have thought of 20 years ago. Thus:

Yes, you saw it right. This is not unlike the fascists states of Europe, or the Communist states, or the Roman Empire, or any other movement based upon total fealty and loyalty to a person. It isn't even uncommon when nations believe their existence is in jeopardy, and all are called to sacrifice, as in the US during WWII. In this case, however, the great cause is Obama.

It isn't a big thing in itself. But it speaks volumes. Had any politician said such a thing 30 years ago, he would have been laughed off the stage. But Obama says it with a straight face and an outstretched hand: give everything you own to The One. You may be starting life in a crappy economy, where the average worker makes barely more than a grocery bagger would have in 1985 (assuming inflation), but whatever you thought you should get in order to start life, should be handed over to the Worthy Cause: Obama. If you read this, and start thinking of this little tune from Veggie Tales:

Then that's good. Especially if you replace the word 'bunny' with 'Obama.' It shows that somewhere, not too far beneath the surface of logic, you detect something has gone seriously wrong in our culture. That we will end up worshipping something. A return to the God worth worshipping probably isn't a bad idea, given that we see that people will worship something or someone in lieu of God. We'll see how it works out.

Oh, and don't for a minute this only counts for non-Christians on the Left.  Christians, too, have been known to throw in with the latest, hippest. Especially when they reduce their faith to an abstract existentialist concept by which we measure our pain (St. John Lennon 3:16). One of the ironies of history is that when Christians abandon their sense to follow the most recent demand on their loyalty, if that demand turns out to be something horrible (I'm thinking Nazis here), the Christians are justly condemned for having done so.  Of course, the ones condemning them are as likely as not insisting that Christians today abandon their traditional beliefs to conform to today's latest, hippest.  But that's for another post. 

Goodbye Friendly Atheist

In an attempt to broaden my horizons, I spent some time trying to find atheist blogs that didn't come off with all the love and tolerance of a Fred Phelps website.  It wasn't easy, as so many are a bizarre cross between fundamentalism and radical Phelps-like hatred. I stumbled on the Friendly Atheist blog because, well, it said Friendly Atheist.  And at first, though obviously from an atheist perspective, the posts didn't seem that far off.  Sure, they seemed a little fundamentalist-like, but they weren't horrible.  The problem is, they never got good.  Like most fundamentalist natured things, the blog existed in a shell of its own making, with many commenters feeling that dropping F-bombs and calling names was appropriate for anyone who didn't think like they did and conform to their dogmatic definitions of free thinking.  So after a few months of trying to give differing viewpoints, only to be met with the usual fundamentalist comebacks of insults, prove 2+2=4, and you types are the cause of all suffering, I decided to call it quits.  I just don't have time with my busy schedule to deal with the fundamentalist atheist who believes all atheists are beautiful, all religion is evil, atheists are dying by the millions in America because of evil Christians, and P.Z. Myers is brilliant.  There are other atheist blogs I've been pointed to, and to those I go.  Here is my farewell post to that strangely named blog, no doubt leaving cheers from those atheists who survive best when everyone is there to confirm their bizarre fantasy worlds:

"Actually -, you've revealed why it is I have such a hard time on this blog. I don't get along well with fundamentalists - of any stripe. One of the classic traits of fundamentalist mentalities is, of course, a willingness to deny what's accepted as fact. Try explaining to a 6 day creationist that the universe likely wasn't created in 6 days. Just try it some time. You *think* you have evidence on your side. But you'll see that you don't. The 6 day creationist will argue, argue, accuse you of lying, twisting facts, dismiss the evidence you give. They will demand you account for things that at other times they will even admit!

So we have here, people suggesting I made up this whole violence among kids today in schools is worse than ever. Now, this very blog has had posts about bullying, how it's worse than ever, and many have agreed. That is, of course, part of the trend. Not that violence never happened before. Increasing violence began as early as the 40s, during the war. But it has gotten worse by every account. Nobody denies it. Until now.

Because I've come to see that this is really a fundamentalist blog, atheist style. It should have been obvious, but compared to some atheist blogs, this seemed the height of open tolerance and respect. Some are so crass and horrible, they make Fred Phelps seem sane by comparison. So this blog stood out like a shining star. At first.

But as so many would approach me as you have, which is not uncommon behavior. As I noticed the subject of so many posts having that whiff of 'woe is us, poor us, we're always beautiful, they're always the bad guys' (classic fundamentalist perspectives), as some posts seemed to be completely outside of an ability to see the obvious (proud that Jesse Ventura is an atheist? Thinking P.Z. Myers is brilliant when there are atheists who cringe at what he says?), then you can see that I probably won't make any headway here. Just as I never have with fundamentalists of any stripe, since one thing nobody has ever accused me of being is a fundamentalist. And at my age, I have not the time nor patience to deal with folks who must deny reality and live in a semi-fantasy world of self-imposed limits on what is and isn't true.

I think I'll go to some of the other atheist blogs I've been pointed to. Not all the commenters here are of that sort, of course. But enough are. Enough to spin the conversation toward useless bickering, rather than accepting the obvious truth that religion isn't the cause of evil, people are. And the reasons are complex and varied, and then looking for cause and solution accordingly. Actually engaging, rather than the usual fundamentalist retorts (with extra F-bombs and strange fantasies about people's sex lives thrown in)."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tolkien and the Great War

While I hash about a commentary on my last post, I thought this was worth a read.  It's a review by Brian Murphy, over at the Black Gate website, of an interview conducted by Tolkien scholar and author John Garth.  That website is dedicated to all things fantasy literature.  I've mentioned before that I don't have much of a fantasy gene, though I do like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and reckon it one of my favorite works of literature.  Yes, literature.  But as much as I like the actual book, I enjoy the entire life's work that went into its writing.  And based on Mr. Murphy's post and subsequent interview, it looks like Garth's book Tolkien and the Great War would be an excellent source for unpacking that fascinating professor whose work still influences millions to this day. 

A contrast in attitudes

Please watch this little gem of scene chewing on the part of Cruise and Nicholson, from the film "A Few Good Men":

Now watch this speech, given toward the end of the film "The Caine Mutiny":

OK, watch them again.  Commentary to follow.

Because the MSM is pro-gay

We won't see weeks of outrage expressed through hours of specials on CNN and other networks asking how our president could associate with such radicals.  As I've said many times before, one of the glaring problems of the Left isn't that it has radicals, it's that it denies it has radicals.  Either it is blind due to some form of moral arrogance, or it is more than happy to allow the radicals to advance the cause of the day.  Either way, you don't have the acknowledgement that such is possible on the Left.  So, as a result, you have people standing next to the Commander in Chief, flipping the bird to a portrait of Ronald Reagan - who ostensibly caused the AIDS pandemic - while attending a White House mixer.  Had it been Bush and a group of Rightwingers did the same to a liberal president like Kennedy or FDR?  Need I say what would happen?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The sounds of silence

A few days ago, I posted on some studies that suggest gay marriage could be bad for children, and that birth control might cause health problems for women.  I wondered what media storm this would create.  Well, I've watched and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And sure enough, I've not seen one story on television.  True, I can't watch all channels all the time.  But either story was mentioned at all, it was quick - zap! - and on with the NBC championship.  I have a hunch that most major news outlets merely ignored the story.  A couple Internet news sites jumped on them, invoking Reason #3 that such studies, in the end, are usually a colossal waste of time.  But on the whole, nothing to see.  It doesn't fit the narrative.  It's not the agitprop.  It's not what we Americans are supposed to see, so please move on.  Ignore that I brought it up.  I'm sure they were just flukes, or worse, the result of some vast, [fill in the blank] conspiracy.  Just move on.  Move on. 

P.S.  As hip, enlightened post-moderns, are we bothered that our sources of information are so obviously biased?  I mean, even if they're telling us what we want to hear.  If they do that now, and it happens to be what we want to hear, what will we do if it ever becomes what we don't want to hear, or know to be false?

Fortnight for Freedom

In yet another attempt by Catholics to steal from time honored pagan celebrations, the United States Bishops have begun a Fortnight for Freedom.  This is a period of prayer for religious liberties against the growing desire on the part of a growing number of Americans to end all this stupid freedom and liberty garbage.  It will culminate on that most sacred of all uniquely American holidays - Independence Day.  Haven't seen much media coverage, but then, didn't hear much of it in our own parish either.  We'll have to wait and see.  I know we'll be praying, adding this to our litany of prayers over the next fortnight. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Two great tastes that taste great together

I guess, since a fellow is willing to risk jail time for - Reece's peanut butter cups.  Not diamonds.  Not gold.  Not money.  Reece's.   Well, at least it's not the Reece's Pieces.  You know there's an E.T. joke in there somewhere, but I'm just too tired.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Does anyone take MSNBC seriously anymore?

MSNBC, much like a WWII propaganda film, but without the subtlety, devotes all of its energies toward advancing a post-Western secular progressive agenda.  Rewriting history is fine.  Altering facts?  No problem.  Displaying open contempt and loathing for those who don't conform to the Left's dogmatic definitions of diversity?  It's the MO.  But even so, even though MSNBC only rates slightly higher than Bill Maher on the respectability scale, there are times when it surprises. 

So here, we have Thomas McDonald unpacking the sad display.  Long and short?  MSNBC used almost shamelessly obvious levels of editing to attempt a Supermarket Scanner moment for Mitt Romney.  The problem?  Well first and most important, it's a lie.  The story that Romney was gobsmacked by all this fancy schmancy technology was not true.  It was made to look that way through massive editing. 

But the real joke, of course, is that it is so elitist.  So arrogant.  So self-contained, and demonstrative of the mentally incestuous cabal that MSNBC caters to.  WaWa?  What the hell is a WaWa?  In my part of the country, I've not seen such a thing.  I've vaguely heard of the reports, but haven't paid attention, since our current economic conditions don't allow me many opportunities to peruse the various merchant establishments where such technology might reside in similar fashion.  Of course that's an ugly truth that MSNBC would rather saw of an arm than admit to - that our economy is not on the verge of unprecedented prosperity and comfort.

Fact is, I looked up some inflation stats and figured my income that I'm currently making backwards, and it's frightening just how little folks are being paid today.  If this were 1985?  Let me say it this way - I could do only slightly worse by flipping pizzas at our local pizzeria.  And this is a job that required a college education and years of experience.  That's the elephant in the room  of course.  Everyone is saying jobs, jobs, jobs.  What nobody wants to admit is that the jobs that are out there, for anyone less than doctor/lawyer/government employee level, pay so little compared to 30 years ago, that it scarcely does any good to have them. 

But that's for another rant.  That's the sort of stuff that MSNBC, CNN, and the other MSM outlets are trying desperately to ignore, hoping for a story like this, even if they must invent it.  The fact that the Internet exists to allow us to see with ease how obviously wrong the facts are, suggests we've come into a phase where the MSM knows most folks don't care if it's true anymore.  They just want to win.  Even if we go bankrupt on our way to the victor's circle.

The not so dark Middle Ages

When most people, including hip and sophisticated post-moderns, think of the Middle Ages, they typically conjure up images not unlike this:

It's an image our non-Catholic, post-Protestant country has long nurtured.  It is also a boon for the likes of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins and their ilk, for it continues long held prejudices and myths useful for kicking religion around.

What people who've actually studied that period see, however, is something more like this:

Yes, evidence that seeing eye glasses were around as early as the 13th century.  That's the 13th century.  That's the 1200s.  When we imagine everyone just wandered around, caked in mud, missing teeth, and waiting to attend the next burning of a heretic for sport, there was actually a completely different side to that long, vast cultural period we know as Medieval Europe.  Dark Ages?  Not even close.  When I think of Dark Ages, I think less of this:

And increasingly, more of this:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

RIP Detective Dan Otto

In a small town like Delaware, Ohio, something like this really hits home.  We had the chance to meet him during a tour of the Sheriff's facilities when my boy was in Cub Scouts.  He was also part of a murder investigation that hit close to home for me due to being linked with it back when I was pastoring a local church.  I was saddened to see this.  God's peace be with his family and loved ones, and let the perpetual Light shine upon him.  Amen.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meanwhile on the Contraception front

Some disappointing news from those who have labored to deny the bleeding obvious.  Looks like artificially manipulating a woman's hormones with synthetically manufactured products could turn out to be a bane for her health in the long run.  Who'd of thunk it.  Don't look for anything to change.  First, as I just said, research and studies are the most important dispensable items in our society next to toilet paper.  Second, this is sex we're talking about, and the promise of unrestrained, consequence free sex is the one thing keeping the Progressive movement on its feet.  Lose the promise of free sex, and Progressives lose their right bower.  So while this may be talked about in a few back news rooms, expect it to go away and go away fast.  Certainly don't expect to go to the pharmacy and be told that because of a slight risk of some possible long term health problems, they've all been pulled from the shelves.

Could this be the end of gay marriage?

I wouldn't hold my breath.  As I've said before, much money is wasted on research and studies.  Not just because it's so easy to manipulate them, because some research is, naturally, quite legitimate.  And while the outcomes can be spun, or in the case of this little bombshell, completely ignored by our propaganda ministry, intelligent people can still use the results to help understand the world around us. 

But still, in the end, even if the results aren't spun and the research was valid, we can ultimately do what people have done for eons when confronted with inconvenient truths: ignore.  Or possibly suggest it's all part of the vast, [fill in your ideological enemy here] conspiracy.  So the fact that two separate studies have concluded that children may actually suffer somewhat by being exposed to a same-sex household will pass in the night quicker than a faint autumn breeze. 

Therefore don't hold your breath.  It won't be as if people will suddenly say, "Oh my, for the children!  We must pause now and make sure that this is for the best for the children before we continue on this path."  Ain't gonna happen.  That it's children is one big reason it won't matter.  In our age, the well being of kids vacillates between 'you're lucky you weren't aborted' to 'because we care about your weight or feelings, we are going to have to invoke our Big Politically Correct Brother for some more thought control (that coincidentally advances the Progressive Agenda)."  This would stand in the way of the great Progressive juggernaut, so I don't think ABC or CNN will be doing lengthy unpacking on this in order to bring about a sudden concern for the children where it might inconvenience the agendas of ABC, CNN or any other progressive institution.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thomas McDonald has some wise things to say about the Kansas anti-Sharia law

In it, he walks us through the modern obsession with all things phobia, and reminds us Christians that using the weapons of the Enemy may not be the wisest course of action.  It is tempting, of course, to want to crush those who may wish to do us harm, to use absurd phrases back at those who have made a living using absurd phrases, and to attempt to beat them at their own game.  But we should remember one thing: we're right.  We have the Truth on our side.  That's capital T truth.  Not to be arrogant, or snotty, or condescending of other truth claims.  But let's face it, we believe we're right, so we should act as though we believe we are right.  And a great place to start is not seeing clearly the shallow and ridiculous tactics used against our Faith, and then turning around and using them when convenient.  Rather, it would be best to take the higher road, even if it means some lost battles along the way, for the war, as we know, was long ago won for us on a hill called Golgotha. 

The reason I don't put much stock in celebrity moral guidance

Exhibit A.  Carrie Underwood, the young talent who exploded on the international scene via American Idol, and has continued to be a force to be reckoned with, appealing to a wide variety of fans from all over the world, has come out in favor of gay marriage.  That's about predictable.  I doubt there would be anyone in the entertainment industry left who would oppose it.  The rates of homosexuality have long been higher in that particular arts/entertainment quarter of society.  Opposing gay marriage as an entertainer would be like working for a major bank and opposing money.  It just won't fly. 

Given our society's growing impatience for those who don't conform to the dogmas of the Left, and given the risk involved to one's reputation in opposing the dictates of the LGBT movement, and that in an industry where reputation is platinum, I can see why this would be her answer.  Which is why, when it comes to looking for folks to inspire that inner moral compass, the absolute last place I look is the industry that exists to separate me from reality, if not my savings account. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Freedom from religion foundation reacts to rallies for religious freedom

The article itself is funny, in a sort of warped early 20th century central European propaganda leaflet sort of way.  But the comments, that's where the gems are.  The premise of this, like so many modern atheist organizations, is that religion is entirely evil, stupid, against learning, and the primary cause of suffering in the world.  If we take good old commenter Ulrich at his word, it's those Bible thumpers who routinely resort to violence.  Just what violence I'm not sure, but it must happen daily since it's a common response on atheist blogs.

Now, it's tempting to try to point to the Communist regimes of the 20th century, those which suppressed and oppressed religion and sought a culture devoid of religious influence, for proof that such a viewpoint is devoid of reality at best.  But like most things, atheists - shockingly - have answers for that: the Communists treated their Communism like religion; the leaders wanted to be worshipped as gods (making it a religion I guess); the Communist states, despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary, were actually quite friendly toward religion; the various leaders like Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot were actually devout worshippers of their respective cultural religions and that's why they were so evil. 

This is the post-modern age after all.  We don't go look for facts, we go looking for ammunition.  Any pre-post-modern take on the recent history of the world would show that religion has had little impact over the last 100 years.  The last century was really one in which modern, non-religious philosophies and movements vied for the loyalty and submission of the people in various nations who might otherwise have been led to resist, sometimes because of traditional religious values.  In some cases, such as the concept of nationalism, the forces had absolutely nothing to do with religion and were often seen as alternatives to a religiously structured culture.

But, again, this would require objectivity, real scholarship, and a desire for truth, rather than winning.  As with any propaganda, the FFRF does not seek to enlightened, but it seeks to empower.  It uses the basic building blocks of propaganda for this purpose: You are the true master race, while at the same time being the hapless victim, and it is those people - THOSE PEOPLE - who are the villains, their culture, race, religion, philosophy, whatever.  Such an approach doesn't seek to sit down and say, 'let us reason together.'  It seeks to paint the opposition in the starkest contrasts possible.

Not that people of religious faith are immune to this type of thinking.  When watching your cherished liberties and freedoms being assaulted with overwhelming glee, and seeing that many of the major institutions of your society are aligned against you, it's easy to begin firing back with the same broad brushstrokes.  I know I've caught myself falling into that 'all atheists are...' trap. 

Fact is, most atheists probably aren't.  Most probably just want a nation where they can be atheists without being put upon with the government's consent.  That's fair enough.  Most atheists are probably like most religious people - good folks just trying to pay bills, raise kids, and keep the lawn mowed.  The problem is, while people of faith have been so conditioned to see the terrors of their own faith's history, and therefore are often quick to jump on others of the same faith who we feel are acting in ways inconsistent with the Gospel (there is an entire branch of ministry, I think, that deals with attacking fellow Christians who aren't as good as I am in defending the faith), far too many atheists seem unwilling to call such farcical groups as FFRF on the carpet.

That leads me to one of two conclusions.  Either they simply can't see what's obvious, which means they are no help in defending my liberties against those who would threaten them.  Or secretly, way down inside, they are, in fact, hoping that the FFRF and other such organizations actually accomplish what they clearly wish to achieve.  And neither option does any good, at least IMHO.

Well done Mayer Coleman

It looks like our very own mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus has resisted the anti-religious juggernaut.  The euphemistically named Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter bellyaching that this is a breach of the Separation of Church and State.  In the article, the group is described as 'a nonprofit group that seeks to promote constitutional separation of church and state and to offer education on non-theism.'

Of course that is hogwash.  It is a radical group that seeks to eradicate religion from society, utilizing the SCOTUS's unfortunate 1948 spin on the First Amendment by finding cracks in the judicial system that will allow it to effectively remove the right to the free exercise of religion from our nation. 

Mayor' Coleman's response is but a mere setback.  The foundation has gained steam, and is the darling of many atheist groups as well as a host of anti-religious organizations and advocates.  It lacks the arsenal of wealth that the ACLU possesses, but seems to have found a friend in that organization more than once.   With such alliances, and a growing pot of gold, it can launch minor skirmishes all over the country, overlooking the occasional failure while seeing each success as one more step toward a religion-less society in the best tradition of the Soviet bloc. 

Nonetheless, though it's but a setback, it's still a setback.  Mayor Coleman is a Democrat, and hardly a right winger.  His willingness to see tactics of oppression and extermination of rights for what they are therefore brings extra hope.  As I've said before, the radical Left's greatest ally is the refusal of so many liberals - liberals in the classic sense - to call out those extremist elements who could care less about the more noble aspirations of those who once made liberal a worthy label.  More like him please. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Can I sleep in tents with teenage girls away from their homes?

No.  I imagine most sane people would say that since I'm sexually attracted to females of my species, it wouldn't be a good idea.  And they'd be right.  Not that I'm a prize at this level in my life, or that I would lose control like some animal.  I probably wouldn't.  I could probably sleep in a tent with teenage girls and have no problem at all.  But there was a time when common sense said 'why take the chance?'.  That, of course, was yesterday.

Today, in the ongoing crusade to eliminate the right-to-not-be-progressive, gay rights advocates have tasted blood and are circling the Boy Scouts.  Already wracked by scandals revolving around abuse accusations over the years, the weakened Scouts have admitted they will mull over the policy that bans men who identify themselves as being sexually attracted to the male of their species from sleeping in tents with teenage boys. 

I know.  But 'nuff said.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

D-Day Plus 68 Years

It's like a different world now.  As horrible as it was then, there seemed to be hope.  Now, as all that was fought for stands on the brink of ruin, you can't help but wish that optimism, and that values upon which it was founded, fright-filled though it was, could exist again:

"Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men.

The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

Some still like to remember

After images from a decade that will be remembered for this

Followed by one remembered for this

And then this

And this

And finally this

It's nice to stop and remember images from a time when not only could America hold its head high despite its sins, but it could step up to the table and show the world why it was right to be proud of itself. 

As the numbers of that generation dwindle, a hearty 'thank you boys' from those of us who have failed to live up to the privileges you fought so hard to preserve.

June 6, 1944 - a memory

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

God save the Queen

Well done Your Majesty.  I'm a bit of an Anglophile, I admit.  Though I'm proud of my own country's bid for independence, there's a part of me that can look past the never ending trashing of the worst of England's history and see sparkles of goodness.  It was, after all, the land of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Keats,Tennyson, Churchill, Tolkien, Lewis.  The lanes of Oxford, the moors, the English Countryside.  Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dykes' strange shot a Cockney.  Anyway, I love the best of England, and I admire this woman who has been so many things to so many people.  Like a cherished Renaissance painting in a modern home, she somehow links to the past.  I'm not confident that her posterity will carry the mantle as well as she has these past decades.  But in any event, this is her hour, and I wish her the best, and may the best that she has to offer spill over into a country in dire need of anything good. 

Because gay rights is all about equal rights

The typical convoluted idiocy that supports so much of the gay rights agenda has managed to get New Mexico - a state that doesn't allow gay marriages - to make it illegal for Christians to refuse photographing weddings.  Of course there are not doubt thousands of liberal photographers that would gleefully photograph any number of post-traditional weddings.  That's the not the point.  Repeat after me: Gay Rights is not about rights.  It's the primary hammer with which the Leftist Revolution seeks to bludgeon and annihilate the right to not-be-Leftist.  That's all it is.  If you think anything else, you're either part of the plan, or an idiot, albeit possibly a well meaning one.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Goodbye Richard Dawson

Richard Dawson, 1932-2012
Richard Dawson died today.  When I was a kid, while others kids watched Sesame Street or Romper Room, I watched Hogan's Heroes.  I ate it up, and that led to my Dad concluding that I wanted all things WWII.  It didn't hurt that my family had several who had served in that war.  From there, my Dad bought me, in third grade, a World War II coffee table book. After that, I fell in love with history and never looked back.

Child of the 70s and 80s that I was, Mr. Dawson's second incarnation as TV game show host helped me rediscover that bizarre charm that worked so well in that decade that taste forgot.  At the same time that The Dukes of Hazzard and Donnie and Marie held prime time slots, and Mork and Mindy and Dallas would make their debuts, Family Feud was a routine stop.  I remember sitting in the little family room made from an old bedroom, TV tray before me, watching Dawson laugh at the absurd answers given under pressure of the clock, such as naming a watermelon as a fruit found in a fruit bowel.

My favorite moment?  I can still remember the category: commands you give to a dog.  One of the contestants stumbled, then said, "Out!"  Dawson laughed, along with the audience.  As he turned around in his usual slick way to point to the board, he chuckled and repeated the line from Macbeth: "Out! Out! damned spot!"  Laughing as he did it.  A game show host with a British accent dropping an impromptu Shakespearean reference off the cuff in response to a middle class American's stumble - that was class.  Thanks for the laughs Mr. Dawson, and may the perpetual light shine upon you.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Because God is an awesome God

Sometimes when the world seems too crazy, and it's not Christmas, it's nice to sit back and let God do the talking; to enjoy the song of creation.  I know, some would argue this video is all because of science what we've learned from scientists.  But scientists are merely the musicians, and science the notes through which the music of God is played.  Enjoy, and prepare to be awed:

The 8th Psalm
For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.

O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!

2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength
Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Because all they care about is money, that's why

And today, the winds have definitely shifted toward a progressive, secular viewpoint in our society.  Oh sure, numbers may suggest a split.  But our education systems, our media, our vendors of popular culture, all embrace the various assumptions of secular, post-Western liberal values and ideals.  Therefore, those who don't follow those viewpoints are increasingly shown the door, punished, mocked, ridiculed, ostracized, or in some other ways made to pay for their lack of vision.

While you have a fair amount of folks who may hold to some form of traditional values, but not all are going to stand up and make a stink of it.  Plus, the philosophy that gives you sex, drugs, narcissism, hedonism, open pornography, no-fault divorce, materialism, and basic self focus has its appeal, even to the most dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist.  So while the staunch conservative may rail against gay marriage, there's a least a chance he has a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition on his nightstand; he may possibly have a copy of Hustler or Penthouse under his mattress for easy retrieval.

Thus there's not really much of a fight at this point.  Many who used to fight are giving up, throwing in the towel, preferring to focus on doing whatever it takes to protect free enterprise, especially if it clears the way to bottomless bank accounts and golden parachutes.  Others are starting to taste of the benefits of a world in which God may truly be dead, or at least in the closet.

Those few who do resist are in a dog fight with one another, some embracing a morally suspect form of 'I'd torture babies to save America' approach to tradition (tradition that never condoned torture, even if it sometimes happened), while others are pushing for a no rules, it's everyone for himself approach.  Even those trying to find some form of traditional Christian values often that split down the line of Catholic or Protestant, Mainline or Evangelical.  Even within those folds, various groups have divided and fought each other with more passion than was ever mustered against any other force or movement in recent memory.

So when we read that Target is aiding the Gay Cause, or that J.C. Penney has decided to go pro-Gay Dad, we shouldn't be surprised.  These stores only care about money.  That is all.  The profit.  The bottom line.  That's all that matters.  If the winds of change were pushing toward outlawing homosexuality, these stores wouldn't get near the issue except to support its ban.  But the winds aren't going in that direction. They are going the other way, and that's where the money is.  As Rod Dreher so bluntly put it, the war is over.  The non-Heterosexual normality movement won.  It's time to reexamine where we go from here.  And where we as traditional Christians go is certainly not relying on companies who worship at the altar of Mammon for our alliances.

Look for him to be on our money in the not too distant future.

Kate Donovan is shocked

Shocked!  That Rick Warren would make such a mean joke about women.  And it's all on The Friendly Atheist!   What's the punchline?  Well, read the Friendly Atheist, a post-modern atheist blog that regularly touts those who give the high middle finger to religion and religious people.  Let a high school student mock Christians, or let a comedian insult religion, and the Friendly Atheist is there with a high-five and a shout out.  Bill Maher?  He's the dude!  Yeah, that Bill Maher.  The one who has called Conservative women names I will not write.  But hey, that's the glory of post-modern ethics.  Add to that the already rocky platform upon which atheism can build an objective moral code, and you have 'there are no rules, there's only those I hate!'  I wouldn't be half so worried if this wasn't the general trend embraced by our media and pop culture vendors. 

I sometimes wonder why I bother blogging

When Marc Barnes, over at Bad Catholic, does it so much better.  Here's one of his typical awesome pieces, shooting down the ridiculous and false assumptions upon which so much of the modern gay marriage debate is founded.

Didn't see that coming

So the Federal Court has declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.  Show of hands from anyone who actually thought it would turn out otherwise.  This, like so much of Bill Clinton's legacy, was merely shadows dancing on the air.  Even then, folks new you couldn't have something that said a person could be married in one state, while at the same time not be married in another.  Of course there were no doubt other problems with it, since its premise was so fundamentally flawed.

But as usual, it gave Clinton that chance to appeal to everyone while doing nothing.  It's worth noting that the terrors and problems of the last ten years, for the most part had their roots in the 90s.  When we were told all was well, all was grand, all was perfect (so keep running up your charge cards making the economy look good), the seeds of America's woes were already taking root.  This latest is simply one more example of what has to be America's most superficial presidency in history.

Because Democrats appear to be increasingly inspired by the worst China has to offer

I have a hard time imagining a day when I could support them.  Not that I'm a big fan of the Republicans, who seem to believe that the unbridled lust for financial gain to the exclusion of all other considerations, is the root to salvation. But that is a warped advocacy of something that, in itself, is not bad.  Seeking wealth, or believing that trickle down economics work, are not sins.  Misguided, possibly a near occasion of sin, but not sin. 

But when you support the right to slaughter an unborn baby for the rather Chinese inspired argument that its gender is wrong, I think you've slipped into the lowest pits of hell.  Again, not that I'm all gushy and happy about the Republicans, especially given their own moral track record of recent years.  But at least it's not an official party platform - yet.  

Oh, and a special shout-out to all the Ron Paul supporters.  Paul continues his gospel of 'who cares, as long as the Federal Government is out of the way!'  Yes, I know Paul has his reasons, but usually when other politicians have reasons, that's never, ever good enough for Paul supporters!

They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.  Jeremiah 32:35

Uh oh

So it looks like Cardinal Dolan paid abusive priests a few grand so they would get out of town.  According to the NYT, and picked up on rather gleefully by such notable sources as the radically anti-Catholic Huffington Post, this occurred while he served the Archdiocese in Milwaukee.

First impression?  It stinks to high heaven.  It sounds like a golden parachute for kiddie rapists.  Now, that doesn't mean it was.  I would need to know more, and hopefully Cardinal Dolan and the Church will comply.  I think the quicker the response, the better the outcome. Even if it turns out to be something truly deplorable, as so many in the media no doubt hope suspect, being open and transparent would ease the guilt of the Church as a whole.  If there was guilt, and the Church once more appears to be more concerned with covering its own arse than looking out for what is right, then we might as well hang up our crucifixes for a while, at least in terms of influencing our society.

FWIW, I'm not one who tries to make the Church appear blameless throughout history.  At an RCIA class, I heard a couple seminarians suggest that the Reformation was all part of some big misunderstanding, that there was nobody really selling indulgences for profit.  No.  It was just a big mix up, exploited by Luther.  Well, that's not how the historic tea leaves line up as I read them.  Nor does the Church emerge from the age of later Roman Imperialism, the Middle Ages, the Age of Exploration, or even the modern age unscathed, again, at least as I read the history. 

That doesn't mean anything about the truth of its message, of course.  If every American owned slaves, we don't suddenly conclude that therefore all men aren't created equal.  We conclude that equality is true, and Americans sucked at living up to their own lofty ideals.  Even when we disregard any good that Americans did in the slavery issue, we still insist that the ideal that we are created equal is true.

So even if the Catholic Church once again descends into its own dark night of the scandals, it doesn't mean that the Faith proclaimed to the world is wrong.  It just means that the Church, peopled by people, can be warped and twisted by those people like anything else.  Hence the need for a redeemer.  Oh, and it's also why I tend to be somewhat forgiving by non-Church entities that try to do the right thing and still fail.

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If you would like to join the growing fraternity of those who are to blame for our economic woes.  It sure isn't President Obama's fault, at least according to President Obama.  Even though he is almost through his first term, and economic indicator after economic indicator are showing a floundering economy at best, including numbers that have gotten far worse in the last 3 years, we are assured that it's Bush's fault.  Or the Republicans.  Or anyone in office before Obama.  Or anyone in office who isn't Obama.

I seldom throw political barbs out there, but I grow increasingly weary of Our Leader playing to the 'don't blame me' generation by repeatedly saying 'it's not my fault, the buck never got here' as his major reason for reelection.  I mean, have some dignity man, take some responsibility.  Do something.  Admit that somewhere, somehow, it's your job to accomplish something other than advancing the cause of the only issue that matters

Could he be the one to blame for our current economic woes?  Only Obama knows.

Andrew Riggio invokes his inner Soviet

Andrew Riggio, who sees sick children as worthwhile ammunition for advancing his religion of politics, comes out of the closet and finally declares that Jews are dangerous and must be eliminated.  No, strike that.  That's wrong. That's so 'early 20th century central Europe.'  This is the hip, post-modern age.  Mr. Riggio would never say that.  He said that the Catholic Church is dangerous, outdated, and should dissolve.  Because things that have problems should, you know, dissolve?  It's bigotry, plain and simple. 

But unlike the anti-Jewish bigots, racists, and other radicals on the right, Mr. Riggio has the platform of acceptable discourse at his disposal. If he said something similar about homosexuality, or blacks, or Jews, he would be marched out the door and told to go live in the foothills of Montana.  As it is, he holds the same prejudice that is held by many in our media institutions, and thus is rewarded with a platform to speak.  And what he says sounds like an awkward mock-up of the things one could have read on pamphlets in the back alleys of Central Europe in the 1920s.  It's just aimed at the one thing that all hip, enlightened beautiful people hate nowadays.