Sunday, June 30, 2013

And to celebrate another record month of visits

Let me boast again on our now third teenage boy!  Couldn't go to eat where he wanted yesterday, since the place was remodeling!  We'll try later.  He had a party, opened gifts, and had his usual fun.  Thirteen.  Hard to believe.

Update on prayers

Well it's been a long, crazy month.  Four weeks ago we were thrown into a tizzy when sudden medical problems hit our oldest son.  These are the type of things that say 'get to doctor immediately.'  The good news is that they believe it was the result of an internal injury, but not one so bad as to require surgery.  That's good.  He's not had any recurring problems now for a few weeks.  He goes to the doctor tomorrow for a follow up, and prayerfully there will be no further problems.  We'll still have to watch, and probably will keep one eye on things from now on, at least on occasion.

But that wasn't it.  No sooner had things calmed down there than my sister was told she would have to get a check up on her heart, as there are problems they can't pinpoint.  So she, whose husband was diagnosed with inoperable cancer last year, has to schedule some heart tests to see what's happening.

But that wasn't it. About a week after the initial shock and terror and worry about our oldest, our now thirteen year old was riding his bicycle and suddenly flipped over and twisted his wrist.  He's doing much better now, but was out of commission for several days.

But that wasn't it.  Two weeks ago, my Mom suddenly began shaking, and we couldn't figure out why.  Fearful that she was having a stroke, we rushed her to the ER.  It wasn't a stroke, but her heart, too, needed some checks.  It turns out everything is OK, at least insofar as serious heart problems are concerned for someone her age.

But that wasn't it. When she was coming home, on her way up our somewhat dilapidated steps, she tripped and fell and broke her arm.  She had to be rushed back to the ER, and she's been ordered to take it easy.  So with that, my boys brought up some games to keep her busy.  She's WWII generation.  She doesn't take sitting and doing nothing well.  So a little game of Sorry, and it seemed to keep her spirits up.

So prayers that things settle down, that things calm down as we bid a welcome adieu to June.  That we can somehow survive financially, for I fear some of the heart problems with Mom at least centers around those worries.  And prayers that healing for my oldest, my Mom, and everyone continue, stay, or get better.  Thanks for all the prayers, emails, and messages sent.  I can't tell you how much I appreciated them.

Keeping Mom active without too much activity.  Well done fellows.

If you want to understand the power of modern liberalism

Read Animal Farm.  When our soon to be 9th grader first read it a few years ago, he quipped that it was like watching the news.  Animal Farm is, of course, Orwell's appraisal of revolutions in general, using the Communist upheaval in Russia as the template.  With the exception of the American Revolution and possibly a few others I'm unaware of, most revolutions follow this basic course:
Declare X the most horrible evil, promise those who support you to rid the world of X, then upon achieving power, turn around and use X times 10 in order to crush and annihilate those fools who gave you power and set up a world that is as bad (or worse) as the one you revolted against.  All revolutions end up where they begin. 
Again, it didn't happen in America, which is why so many Americans are complacent about revolutions, assuming that rebels, even ones without causes, are default the good guys who will always make it right.  We sometimes miss that since our modern tendency is to focus on the Founding Fathers as racist, sexist, imperialists white guys who were at once religious hypocrites and enlightened secularists who owned slaves.

Well, our revolution is in the hands of something commonly known as liberalism.  And it's colored by the trappings of a generation commonly called Baby Boomers.  Both inaccurate, but for space and time, we'll use the terms.

The greatest power of this new revolutionary incarnation has been its ability to not just sit down with the humans and play cards once power is achieved.  No.  Its great ability is to do so before power is achieved, come darn close to declaring it's what we'll do, and hope that the lure of the liberal promise (a world focused on me where I can think of myself and how great I am) will keep people from complaining.

This can be observed as, day after day, the movement once known as liberal continually uses tactics that liberalism once so proudly condemned.  Once, when I was old enough to remember, liberalism chaffed at censorship.  At thought control.  A punishing people for opinions and beliefs.  For controlling people's lives.  Of legislating morality.  Liberalism was all about free your mind, do what you want, if it feels good, it is good, no rules, just right.  If you're offended, you're the problem.  Respect diversity.  Embrace tolerance.  Those were the mantras.

And yet today, you can't go by without seeing cases where people who run afoul of liberal sensitivities are treated to all of those things liberals once condemned, and treated that way a thousandfold.  Just ask Paula Deen.  She's not gone because of dropping the N-Word.  She's gone because she flew in the face of the latest 'obesity is going to blow up the world, we need government control!' pandemic hysteria by having a show that used enough butter to clog your arteries by watching it.  Really.  She was in hot water long before the N-Word (which should be OK, because as Woopi Goldberg pointed out, it used to be OK to use the word....nah.  It's so stupid, let's move on).

Now when  I was growing up, beyond Nazi Germany and Joe McCarthy, nothing demonstrated the evils of the world that liberalism promised to deliver us from like the old puritans whipping people out of town on a cart, or the era of prohibition when religious busybodies tried to impose good behavior on the masses.

And look at us now.  People using the government to force behavior is almost a monthly news story.  Grocery ads are less common.  And it's celebrated by?  You guessed it, liberals.  When Chick-fil-A was punished, if not politically, then at least socially for failing to conform to liberal values, it was the liberals who made it clear who the bad guy was.

Those are two recent stories off the top of my head.  You've heard them.  You know what I"m talking about.  That's how most revolutions end up.  The power of modern liberalism (or as I like to say, post-liberalism), however, is that it isn't waiting for the final victory to spring the trap.  It's doing so now.  Partly because the opposition to its move to power is fragmented and divided.  Partly because I think we're in an age that doesn't care.  But it's happening. Without actual power to mandate its desires, it's already doing so and promising more

That's liberalism, like most revolutions.  It can declare A to be horrible, and then turn about and say A is just fine now, because it benefits us.  What got me to thinking on this long reflection?  The Rolling Stones are touring for the last time again.  Yeah.  Anyway, I clicked on a story and it had pictures.  Whew.  Can we say zombie apocalypse?  Yet the media is drooling.  They're loving it.  They're acting like it's a religious experience as The Stones do things for the last time that they've been doing for the last time for years.

And I remembered.  My Dad was a Frank Sinatra fan.  A big fan.  Had his albums.  Watched his movies.  When Sinatra went on his farewell tour in 1990, a friend of mine worked for a company that contracted to help with stage set up when entertainers came to town.  Through his contacts, he got tickets for my Mom and Dad and me to go see Sinatra.  For an older guy, Sinatra did a pretty good job.  Oh, I'm sure some of the edge was off, but he was older after all.  I actually enjoyed it.

And yet I remember, especially among the younger commentators. the sneers and jeers.  Calling him old.  Saying it was time to move on.  Some from Sinatra's generation even chimed in.  He was embarrassing himself.  He was embarrassing them.  Get off the stage and get to the nursing home guy!  I hated that, because I saw him and didn't think he did that bad at all.

And yet, guess what.  Yep.  In a little demonstration at how fluid standards and ethics have become, many who hung their heads in shame 20 years ago, now stand up and weep - with joy at the Stones, not just standing about and singing, but by trying to dance about, jump about, and act like they did in the dear old sixties.  I know, it's not a big thing. I know there are bigger examples of the trainwreck approaching. But it's indicative.  Once more it reminded me how flagrant that generation, and the liberalism it has hoisted on the world, can be when it comes to declaring as wonderful what it once so openly condemned as unacceptable.

One of these pictures is crying shame of embarrassment, the others are beautiful 
demonstrations of talent and memories relived. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

When it comes to Snowden

And his flight from prosecution, I don't know enough to have an informed opinion.  I'm sure nervous about the leaps and bounds our society is making when it comes to flushing our freedoms.  It sometimes appears we've just grown tired of democracy and liberty.  On other other hand, I'm also getting a bit nervous of these folks exposing this or that corruption by releasing data.  I'm no electronics guru, but something tells me all of these folks can't have accounted for every scenario. I also have a feeling that many who are cheering this latest whistle blower via security leaks would scream to high heaven if it was done to something or someone we hold near and dear, even if we thought there were problems needing confronted. I also can't help but noticing just how popular it's become for countries to spit in America's eye when we ask for help.   But that's about all I can say.

Nonetheless, I couldn't resist posting to this link.  The headline alone was, at least to my humor, priceless:
Joe Biden is on Edward Snowden's Case
Maybe the humor is lost on everyone else.  But I laughed.  I mean, Biden.  The man's very existence is all the proof you need for media bias.  That Sarah Palin is destroyed as a hopeless bimbo fool, and he is touted as a respectable leader is all you'll ever need know.  Biden.  Joe Biden.  Heh.

Then again, maybe he's the one it will take to bring this all to a close.  Stranger things have happened.

Strike one against the growing shadow of tyranny

This was so bad - (how bad was it?) - that the ACLU got on the side of a Catholic student speaking out against homosexual normality.  I mean, wow.  That's like losing Walter Cronkite.  I mean, the teacher who organized the discussion, encouraged kids to argue for or against homosexuality, then banished a Catholic kid who argued against homosexuality because of his views, actually thought he was the hero.

I'm never surprised when people do stupid, awful or even evil things.  Sin.  It's what we do.  But when society is so off kilter that they think they're going to be the heroes, that's when I take notice.  Yes, I'm sure there are some even now weeping for the grave injustice.  Others, like the Friendly Atheist, seemed to have dropped the whole thing, the only mention being one in which the guest blogger admitted the teacher 'handled the situation poorly'. Of course the teen is described by the adult atheist blogger as a typical homophobic bigot who's apparently unable to think for himself and was just vomiting the bigotry he'd been taught his whole life (because liberalism is all about respecting diverse opinions and different beliefs; those rotten kids).  But they admit back in December, 2011 that there could be a chance that the homophobic student might have a case.

In this day and age, when places like the fanatical Friendly Atheist, or the ACLU, don't take up your cause in attacking non-gay supporting, non-liberals, you've lost.  Hang it up.  Go home.  But why would he think he's the hero, this teacher who looks more the bully than the kid he accused of bullying?  It makes me think of the cases where politicians in Boston and Chicago tried to use their office to ban Chick-fil-A.  Remember that?  There was a backlash.  Even if it appears the Chicken house buckled a little (not sure how much), there was a stronger backlash against the politicians in question, even by noted liberals, gay rights advocates, and atheists.

And yet, being politicians, they had to have believed that doing this would not have gotten them in trouble, but would have gotten them cheers and votes.  Sure, some cheered.  Some celebrated the hope that labor camps for religious freaks are in the near future.  But not many.  Most were in respectful disagreement to flat out appalled.  But something in the air.  Something in the climate.  Something in our modern society told them that if they use the power of the government to ostracize and banish a company because of its president speaking hi religious beliefs that run afoul of modern liberal sensitivities, they would come out the winners.  The same air that made this teacher think that he would stroll through the legal system with flowers strewn before him out of admiration because of publicly banishing a non-conformist Catholic student.

They were wrong.  But there was enough in the climate of our culture to make them think, at least at first, that they would be oh, so right.  And that's what I'm watching.

The Friendly Atheist asks the question of the ages

What would religious people do if a baseball pitcher - gasp! - drew atheist symbols on the pitcher's mound? Atheist symbols?  What atheist symbols?  Atheists have symbols?  Of what?

Anyway, probably not much of anything since when religious believers today say we just don't want the government to oppress religion or advocate secularism, we mean the government.  Was it always that way?  No.  Societies are like that.  As many modern atheists and secularists demonstrate.  The atheists in the comments seem genuinely puzzled, which is a good thing.  A couple even place head in hands and ask why the question was posed in the first place.  A couple, though, see the light: if there was even a hint of tax break here or subsidy there, doesn't it mean that it can be a place where religion is banned?

Some atheists are very educated, reflective, and good people.  Some are educated, but advocate some naughty things.  From my own experience with the non-believers I hung about with in my agnostic days, most are average people no better or worse than others who probably couldn't string together a coherent thought about their unbelief, any more than a stereotypical uneducated religious person could his or her belief (and sometimes less, since there's not a clear doctrine or Holy Book to lean on).

But a few are the problem, and in a society that long ago decided religion = bad/biased/bigotry, and non-religion = fair/open/intellectual, those few who pine for a more Soviet model of religious tolerance are beginning to make headway.

Modern atheists

Are the closest thing to an out of body experience I get these days.  So the modern atheists have gathered and courageously erected their own version of a religious monument in Florida.  Eh. Snooze.  Of course the whole emphasis on fighting to put up the Ten Commandments is a backlash against the growing secularist tendency to yearn for a more Soviet understanding of the First Amendment.  A land which indoctrinates secularism while banishing all unworthy religious belief to the ghettos and the catacombs.  Missing that fact, deliberately or otherwise, our intrepid atheists then risk the gauntlet of a sympathetic and misty eyed media to stand in the land of unrivaled religious bigotry, intolerance, persecution and, well, maybe not.  On most atheists blogs we're one step above Auschwitz.  But we all know better.  Common sense tells us.  Something that so much modern secularism appears to shun.

BTW, you get bonus points for skimming through the comments and seeing how many come out of the closet and say it's high time we admit all religious people are evil, stupid scum, and we get over this laughable notion that religion should be allowed anywhere but behind closed doors in home or parish.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Farewell our pre-teen son

Hello our third teenager! And so another chapter comes to a close as our third boy gets ready to leap into the teen years tomorrow.  In keeping with the new found tradition started as soon as we had a camera worth using, we took a few pics on the eve of this momentous day.  Festivities to start tomorrow, but alas, I could not get work off, so they will just be a tease for the main day Saturday.  With a very, very and I mean very sweet and caring boss, I was able to get half day off, even though it puts us under the minimum for the team.  So it will be Saturday that things really get going.   I'll get by to look at the blog and throw some ideas out when I can.  But for now, sigh.  One more boy heading to manhood.  Thankfully, he retains an innate flare for the exuberant inner child that brings out the kid in all of us.  Hopefully, he'll never lose it.

Caught off guard, maybe it's me, but my first thought was 'The Wonder Years'?

As often as not, his charms get him out of trouble that others would have been buried under.

So much the kid, he's actually lamenting getting older, a little extra dose of Peter Pan in him .

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Here's my thing with Catholics and lying

Across the Catholic blogosphere, the issue of lying has become one in which stars have been taken and removed from various bellies and placed on others.  The whole thing has its genesis back when the group Live Action made national news for exposing some pretty heinous practices in the already heinous Planned Parenthood.

Immediately, pro-life and Catholic bloggers were outraged, seeing that such clearly illegal and immoral services  were proof that it was time to stop prancing around PP and get serious.  Then Dawn Eden, fresh from obtaining a Masters degree in religious studies, co-wrote an article that promptly took the attention away from the abortion heavy Planned Parenthood and any wrongdoing thereof, and placed it firmly at the feet of - wait for it - Live Action, and those passionate young people devoting their lives for the sake of life, and the sake of the Gospel.

Now, before I continue, let me say this.  There seems to be a strong case that Live Action needs to find other ways to fish out the moral problems with Planned Parenthood.  Any time we purposefully use methods out of line with the Truth and the Gospel, we do undermine the witness, and that is important.  There are many ways to undermine a witness of course.  And it would do well for all us Catholic bloggers to remember that.  But there is a strong case that Live Action would be better off finding better ways to pursue its wonderful mission.

But, alas, this is not how it unfolded.  The Catholic blogosphere, being the blogosphere and often managed by amateurs with little to no actual ministerial training, became a three ring circus.  Things were said about Live Action, Lila Rose, and Corrie ten Boom (you had to be there) that make Bill Maher seem kind and compassionate by comparison.  If some advocating the use of lying used bad arguments, I dare say some arguing against all lying used horrible arguments, sometimes violating a host of commandments in the 'don't judge and don't call raca and fool' departments to show just how horrible LA was.

Recently, Mark Shea made amends, posting several long apologetic pieces, mostly aimed at his treatment of LA and Lila Rose.  That was good to see.   I don't know if others who joined the fray have followed suit.  But the issue is still out there, and it's still heavily debated.  Usually on the grounds of never, ever lying ever, no matter what.

So two interesting blog articles popped up over the last few weeks.  One I commented on here.  The idea that I would proudly let a baby die rather than lie to save it would go down smoother if I'm willing to sell all my possessions, give them to the poor, and then follow Jesus.

The other from Kevin O'Brien.  I don't know Mr. O'Brien except through Mark Shea's blog.  I might have met him once.  I can't remember.  Mr. O'Brien, whatever he does to pay bills, is known as Mr. Theater, heavily involved in Chesterton and acting.  Beyond that, I have no clue what his theological or philosophical credentials are.  So he posts an article about the utter unacceptability of lying.

My first dig was pointing out the fact that Mr. O'Brien once called Ferris Bueller's Day Off one of the most Christian movies of all time.  Anyone from my generation who knows that movie can take a few to finish laughing. A two hour long celebration of the narcissism, hedonism, laziness and self focus that is torpedoing our society.  And to top it off, he accomplishes all of this by...lying!  A two hour long cinematic mega-lie reinforced by constant additions through smaller lies, and that's one of the most Christian movies?  When we then turn around and proudly proclaim that it's far better that millions of babies be slaughtered than a single lie told to save them??  Anyone catching some lack of credibility here?

This got me to thinking, as I am wont to do.  Here's the thing with lying.  Don't.  The Devil is called the Father of Lies.  In Revelation, all lairs are cast into the nasty place with the rest of the horrible murderers and sorcerers.  Jesus proclaims himself the Truth, as well as the Way and the Life, and informs Pilate that he had come to bear witness to the Truth.   That's enough to suggest: Lying bad, Truth good.

But - and here's where experience in actual pastoral ministry helps - life isn't a big theology test, ethics quiz, or philosophy exam, or argument to be won on the blogosphere.  One of the constant negative stereotypes leveled at the Catholic Church is that it strips away the heart and soul of the Gospel, and leaves only salvation through logically superior adherence to philosophical algorithms. Life is more than a single, isolated issue to be debated by amateurs on the blogosphere.  Even amateurs with religion degrees.

With this idea of religion as life lived, let's look at an oft referenced sub-topic in the lying debate: the dreaded 'would you lie to save Jews from the Nazis'.  This is frequently referenced because anyone who took an ethics class in college knows about the case of Corrie ten Boom and her sister.  Corrie spoke and wrote often about her sister's insistence that she would not lie, even to the Nazis, in order to save the Jews they were hiding.  Lots of debate here.  Lots to unpack.

And yet in the Religion as Living world, I must ask myself if I would lie to save Jews from the Nazis?  Really?  That's what we, on the blogosphere, are pinning the debate on?  That's what we're staking our ground on?  That's what it's boiling down to?  Here's a tip about Christian living.  Before I wonder if I would lie to save Jews from Nazis or not, let's look at all the things that could happen in my little religious pilgrimage long before that moment:
1.  Would I enthusiastically join the Nazis because they assure me it's the economy stupid, besides, people like me are really the superior people and the only reason I'm not running the world is because those stupid and evil people are part of a vast conspiracy against me.  So hate them now!  And join the latest, hippest solution!!  Would I?

2. Would I, in being only slightly bothered by the Nazis, still support them since it's the economy stupid, and they have fixed the economy after all.  Besides, they merely hate 'those people' over there, and make some good arguments.  Oh, I'm not a 'show up at the latest Nuremberg rally, card carrier', but I belong since it's the latest, hippest. 
3.  Would I not belong, since I see serious problems with the Nazis, and don't share their hate or their saber rattling, with clear designs on country and empire... but I'll go along since my situation is improving?! 
4.  Would I not belong, since I see serious problems with the Nazis, don't share their thoughts of empire and conquest, and refuse to support them in anyway...I just won't rock the boat since, after all, things could be worse?! 
5.  Would I not belong, refuse to support, and even fuss and complain...quietly so nobody hears, since I don't want to get into trouble or anything?! 
6.  Would I not belong, refuse to support and even fuss and complain, and maybe even support those who are trying to do something about it, but maybe find reasons why I can't, or don't want to, take part in doing anything about it beyond fussing and complaining and doing something about it by proxy, because secretly I'm scared, lazy, or whatever? 
7.  Would I not belong, refuse to support, and join in the resistance...but only if the resistance was up to my standards, wrestling with the question: am I maintaining high standards, or perhaps just using such things as an excuse not to get involved and jeopardize my life or my family's life by doing anything about it, while proudly wearing the badge of 'official Nazi opponent', but not getting the hands really too dirty? 
8.  Would I be so much a part of the resistance, that I would actually put my family in harm's way by hiding Jewish and other refugees from the Nazis, trying my best and focused on helping innocent Jews live against all odds?

9.  And then, we can get to the whole 'what would be values be while hiding Jewish and other refugees from the Nazis...'
See what I mean?  And that was just off the top of my head.  Hell, I would probably be stuck around 4. or 5., much less getting all the way to the bottom of the list.  And yet how many blog posts came out boldly and courageously declaring that they would stand, shotgun to face, and gladly refuse to lie in order to save the Jews!  Really?

The fact is, Live Action is right around Number 8.  They're in the trenches.  Maybe not always right.  Maybe they should do better.  But they're there.  That's what it's.  Doing.  As we used to say in Protestant lands, 'Belief is a verb, and should be accompanied by action."  I understand consequentialism, of doing wrong or doing bad or evil for a good cause, and that's a worthy discussion.  It's certainly something to bear in mind.  And it's something that should inform our efforts when we do leave the tortured wastes of the blogosphere and actually strike out to make disciples of the nations, going where more than just a bad case of carpal tunnel can be the price.

We must remember that Catholicism, like Christianity in general, is not about winning arguments on the blogopshere.  It's not about insulting others who aren't as righteous as we are because we win arguments on the blogosphere.  It's not about theology exams and ethics quizzes.  The intellectual depth and breadth of the Catholic tradition is one of its treasures.  This sometimes, however, gives people the impression that just quoting Aquinas here or Augustine there is all that matters in declaring what's right and wrong.  It's about life, and the living of it thereof.

Sure, there's room for debate.  There's room for discussion.  Proclaiming truth and the Church's teaching is important.  But really?  I would say the first thing anyone who has problems with Live Action needs to do is contact Live Action.  I said that way back when this first hit the fan.  Then, you know what?  The next thing for me to do would be to get involved at least to the level that Live Action is involved, and show them how it needs to be done.  With love.  With patience.  With firm correctness.  And then, when everything has settled, we don't have to argue about whether lying is right or wrong, we get to show people how it cane be done the right way.

That just hit me this week as I was kicking this issue around.  I realized how far I really was from even being part of the battle.  And that's worth remembering before I point my fingers at others with scorn and derision for the great sin of lying in the midst of that which I haven't come close to doing.

The mighty country has struck out

My boys are becoming quite the sports connoisseurs.   I was never much of an athlete   I actually got better in my adult years.  In my younger days, the only thing available was little league baseball.  So I played that for a while, but never got involved in school baseball.  Second basemen was my position.  Not bad at catching line drives - mostly from survival instincts.  I did go out for track and cross country, but again, I only heard rumors about the ribbon at the finish line that was always broken and torn long before my ragged feet made it to the end.  

My boys, as I've blogged about at other times, have more of a sports gene.  My oldest was quite good at cross country, and at least held his own in track.  My next boy was also good, displaying a late race sprint that was unbeatable, and helped him end up being one of the better in his grade.  Our soon to be eighth grader was the gymnast par excellence,  and showed himself quite capable on the gridiron.  But none of them played baseball.  Not even T-Ball.  So it's been odd that this year, more or less out of the blue, they've taken to watching America's pastime.  Our oldest especially, though we all join in.  He mostly follows the Reds, as I can hearken back to the days of the Big Red Machine and regale him of tales of my visits to the ballpark, when giants roamed the field.  

And yet, as I watch this pastime that still retains many of its traditional roots, despite scandals and controversies that plague everything today, and as I watch its own intertwined sense of patriotism and its role in Americana, I can't help wonder: how long?  How much longer?   So in tribute to my boys, and for a little lesson at the end, I thought I'd post that quintessential sports poem that we've all heard at one time or another (at least the final line): 

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day;
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
They'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a pudding and the latter was a fake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And it's likely they'd a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.

Because I wonder.  How much more can America take.  Really?   How many more wars can we lose?  How much longer can we peddle narcissism  hedonism, and selfishness as virtues?  How much longer can we laugh at the fact that our only sources of information are exceedingly biased, and willing to suppress truth and lie to advance causes rather than tell us what's going on?  How much longer can we be split between on force that values humans at their lowest animal level, and the other that seems happy to make money off the same?  How much longer can we withstand the fabric of our very civilization unraveling, before it final unravels?  How much longer can we listen to business leader almost proud of their lack of concern with our country's well-being when there are bigger markets across the seas?  

I think sometimes Americans have a built in complacency, a sort of unstated arrogance, an unjustifiable Casey-like swagger that just isn't going to sweat it.  Years ago, in college, I knew a fellow who said, in plain words, that America would never end.  Period. The world could last for a billion years and America will never fail.  I think sometimes we all just assume this.  We just assume that our country can take one hit after another, one failure after another, one dismal disaster after another, never ending negative indicators, and we'll just keep on.  We can shrug our shoulders at a growing swath of Americans who think America is the evil one, that the best thing that can happen is everything it was built on being burned to the ground.  We can just say whatever, and everything will keep on.  Just stand by and stare.  One pitch.  Two pitches. And be sure that when the chips are down and our backs are against the wall, we'll finally rise to the occasion and knock it out of the park.

Just for refreshers.  9/11 happened.  Thousands died.  Two iconic symbols of American might were destroyed.  Our country was dragged to a halt.  And that did no good whatsoever   If anything, it exposed our problems, our divisions, our deficiencies.  America in 2011 is on almost every level worse off than 2001, and there realistically is little evidence that things will turn around.  Maybe it's just me, but I don't think we better wait for strike two before we start waking up.  Because in our world, there may not be a strike three. 

Some commercials are better than movies

I mean it, especially with the crop of movies today, I find myself more often touched by the better commercials than the celluloid bilge coming from Hollywood.  It isn't all bad.  And you have your Nolans out there, trying desperately to bring credibility back to this increasingly bland industry.  But they are peeps in the overall chorus.  So it really is a shame that a car commercial can be more charming, moving and emotionally satisfying than the multi-million dollar products of (chuckle) Hollywood.  And yet it's the truth, as this wonderful little gem that demonstrates real and beautiful love better than a truckload of Hallmarks ever could so aptly demonstrates:

P.S.  I know the purpose is to get me to buy a car.  Just like the purpose of Hollywood is to get me to buy a movie.  And yet, you have to agree, this does it better than most movies today.

When selfishness is the greatest value

A society is in trouble.  This little piece, courtesy of the always revealing Huffington Post, contains one overarching theme: I alone matter.  It just assumes what's good for me should be the only thing I care about. The rest of the universe? Well, that's a distant last when it comes to my priorities.  A society can't exist like that forever.  Already we're starting to see the first rivets popping and seams tearing.  And I fear once we crash, it's going to be a crash the likes of which the world has never seen.

The power of post modern liberalism

Is it's ability to redefine eternal truths on a dime.  It takes a long look at society, and notices that society affirms Value A.  It then begins declaring that Value A is the most heinous, most horrible, most unthinkable gawd awful value in history, the sum of all evil, the singular cause of all suffering on the planet.  It then beats a drum over and over and over and over again about how horrible Value A happens to be.  It makes it clear that only the worst people, the meanest, the most hateful and ignorant people would ever, ever embrace Value A.  It does this until Value A is all but extinguished, and any who even come close to associating with Value A are ostracized.

And then, once it's in the drivers seat, it turns around and not only embraces Value A for itself, it then goes onto use the lamest defenses for doing so, hoping that the society it birthed is as stupid as one might imagine a society built on such things would be.  Best defenses for Maher's statements: Whoopi saying 'retarded was once OK to use, so what's the problem?  It took most carbon based lifeforms about 2 seconds to see the irony in that standard.  And Barbara Walters leaning on Maher's incomparable stupidity: he couldn't possibly have known the word is offensive.  

Which is also another favorite tool more common among the progressive than the traditionalist: plausibly stupid deniability.  Say something soaked in sexual euphemisms, and then declare ignorance of it while giggling behind everyone's back.  Say 'Maher couldn't have known the word is offensive' when, for decades going back to the glory days of 70s liberalism, the word was repeatedly declared by liberals to be offensive.

It isn't easy fighting against an ideology that rejects foundational values as a matter of course.  An ideology that change its morals more often than you could change the diapers of a baby on a three week long beans and broccoli diet. This little story demonstrates why.

The man wouldn't survive

In any other generation than ours.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

And a Happy Fathers Day it was

A week ago we had no idea if we'd even bother with Fathers Day.  But praise be to God, things have calmed down.  Oh, we still have much on our minds, many healings and much health to pray for.  And that doesn't include the fact that our life is still only 50% stable to begin with!  But somehow or another, messy, sloppy, crazy that it is, we've made it this far.  And I have much to show for it.  A great family, greater kids, a beautiful wife, a home, cars, a super-cool backyard, and we are making it day by day.  Yes, I still miss my Dad.  For just one more hug or 'I love you', I don't know what I'd do.  Even now, a couple years later, I still have moments where I can't believe he's gone.

I had one of those dreams a while back.  A realistic one, where it seems real enough.  And he was there, in the later days with his Alzheimer's, but there nonetheless.  We were going someplace for the kids, like a Chuck E. Cheese or similar.  I constantly had to watch over him and keep him from wandering away.  Even in the dream it got frustrating!  But the kids were all there, the family, my adorable wife, and Dad.  The last part I remember we were in some cavernous hall filled with games like video games (and yet not video games).  There was an opening in the wall, a passage or something.  It went back, like a dungeon, and then turned and went down a flight of stairs into the darkness. An employee was there saying something unintelligible. I wondered 'what the heck kind of place is this!'  Then I turned to make sure Dad was there.  He was, wandering about.  I went to get him and bring him back to the family.  And then I woke up.  The realistic ones are always the bad ones, because then you have to come back to grips with reality.  And yet, it was so realistic, I almost felt like I had been with him a while. Silly I suppose.

But even with him gone, I still have a great family.  My wife is a gem, I got the better end of that bargain, nobody disagrees.  The kids are each a blessing - teenage issues and all.  And since things prayerfully have settled down health-wise at this point at least, I had the chance to listen to a concert by each of them (with our twelve year old having to reduce the repertoire due to to his biking injury).  Clarinet and piano renditions of Joplin, Chopin and themes from the movie The Hobbit and Inception.  A splurge of some fresh salmon for dinner, and a day to relax.  Later on, a rousing round of "The Settlers of Catan" (I lost), and finishing up with Chaplin's classic The Kid.  Not bad.  When one looks across the global landscape, it's easy to realize not bad at all.

In his rascally prime as I try to remember him.  He is still missed. 
It tasted better than it looked, and that's no easy accomplishment.
I'm sure I could be luckier, but it's hard to imagine.

The world's cutest wife, and most tolerant.  God knew everything I could have hoped for in a wife, that's for sure!

Confirmation gloating

Our eighth grader received the Sacrament of Confirmation!  Yeah, I know.  It was almost a month ago.  No sooner did he go through, then a series of incidents began occurring that made getting back to the old blog difficult.  In fact, at times, it just didn't seem to be something to set time aside for given the gravity of other events (see previous post on prayer requests).  Hopefully and prayerfully, things are settling for now.  Calm enough to go back and get some important pictures of that wonderful day posted.  Now, if you'll be patient with my shameless gloating, is our eighth grader on a very important step in his pilgrimage, as well as the family in all their goofy, fun and wonderful glory.

With his awesome sponsor, Rich.
Not Catholic, but Mom and my sister came to show their support, with my oldest peeking around.
For sitting almost two hours, he did well.
He volunteered to serve for his bother's confirmation.  How cool.
That's our bishop, Bishop Campbell.
In line to receive the anointing - I love the Catholic Faith!
Receiving the chrism with St. George as his Saint: et confirmo te chrismate salutis...
The always present Knights of Columbus, adding important gravitas to the day.
The first half of the confirmation class, 2013.
With Deacon Felix, officially the best Deacon in the American Church.
The Fam on a wonderfully blessed day. (photo courtesy of our plucky Ed. Director)
Back to the house for some presents, including all things dedicated to the Dragon Slayer.
Our oldest checks out one of the cool gifts.
Dining Japanese style at our confirmee's request (I think the young fellow at the end is full).
I know, it's almost boasting to post such a cute picture - no apologies. 
No, we didn't say they could get in the water.
And after it all, a cake, a rest, and a prayer for blessed days to come.

Ephesians 4:30 "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God: whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption."

Prayer request update

Well it's been days since my son  had any severe episode, or any episode at all.  Which is good.  That we can actually move from counting the hours to counting the days brings more peace and calm than you can imagine.  We're still concerned of course.  Though the doctors said, if it's an injury, the problem could flare up a few more times over the next couple weeks, no problems at all would be best.  Still please pray.  I appreciate the prayers, comments and emails.  We hope and pray that it all heals up soon, and that we can take this and learn from it as we all should when such events come our way.

In addition to prayers for my oldest, I would add if you could pray for our eighth grader, who wisely flipped his bike over last week and appears to have damaged his wrist worse than thought.  Plus my sister who was just told she has a problem in her heart and is going to need more tests.  Yeah, it's been that kind of a couple weeks.

I'm a critic and proud of it

So our interim priest, in addition to promoting a couple upcoming events, gave a kudos to Dads.  No problem.  But have you ever heard something that just raked on your last nerve as soon as you heard it?  While giving a 'bravo for fathers' cheer, he said Dads need to be models, not critics.  Don't be a critic he said, kids need role models.

Boy!  I almost stood up right there.  We all freaking need critics.  Critics are good.  Criticism is good.  No, it's more than good.  Constructive criticism is oxygen.  Not being perfect.  Not being flawless.  Not being able to create my own universe in six days ex nihilo, I need some advise at times.  Sometimes I need a little good old criticism.  I need to know I did wrong. Am being bad.  Have failed.  And how to do better.  To paraphrase Gordon Gekko, criticism, for want of a better word, is good.  Criticism works.  When done properly, for the right reasons, and with the purpose of helping and improving in love.

I know, I shouldn't get to heated about it.  If I get that much, I should take it to him.  But he's probably not the problem, and I doubt he meant much by it.  Sadly, however, I do think we've adopted that in our modern generation.  We are an age that hates criticism because it's like saying we're not perfect.  Or we somehow need to do something different, or do something at all.  Somehow, we look at criticism as a bad, an evil, a relic of bygone days that needs flushed down the tubes of history. Whether we believe it or it's just a cheap way of saying 'I get to do what I want', I don't know

Fact is, there was a time when it was seen as a mark of adulthood to take criticism and accept it and learn from it.  To take it like a man!  And since I'm not perfect, I may not like criticism, but sometimes I might need to hear it.  Just like my boys may not just need a role model.  Sometimes, they may need to be criticized, as we all do at times.  I just hope I know when and how, when the time comes, and I never fall into the trap of thinking my kids have a right to affirming themselves so much that it negates any need for constructive criticism.

Fathering lessons from The Cos

A nice article about Bill Cosby, one of the bravest warriors against the 'Father doesn't know s**t' generation.  I've always admired the man.  He's honest about what we've done to fatherhood.  And in an area I'm less invested in, he seems prepared to criticize the African American community when he thinks it needs it.  Neither of which endear you to modern cultural standards.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Latest prayer update

So far things are looking about as good as they can.  Days seem to drag on with geological timing right now, as we're simply watching to see if the symptoms dissipate.  If they do, then it means there is likely nothing serious at all.  So far, it seems to be heading in that direction.  And if things continue tomorrow as they have today, it will be good news.  But it's only the second inning of a nine inning game, so continued prayers are requested and appreciated.  I will say this, I'm proud of my son.  He's handled this a thousand times better than I ever would have handled it.  I'd have been curled up in the corner somewhere trying to pick flowers off the paper towels.  But all in all, he's been an inspiration to me, that's for sure.  More prayers and more updates to follow.  TTFN.

UPDATE: He's had another incident, but the doctors still seem to think it may just be part of the healing process.  That's our prayer.  Healing means injury and that means nothing more serious.  So pray that things continue along the way they've said they should.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Update on prayer request

He had some tests, but so far they've come up negative.  Which is good.  They don’t know yet for sure what’s happened, though they’re pretty confident ruling out anything life threatening, or that word which nobody likes to hear.  Still, I’d prefer to know what has happened, and right now we’re in a wait and see mode.  If things get better, and the symptoms fade away over the next week or two, things should be OK as long as there is no repeat of the symptoms after a month or more.  If there is, then it’s back to the tests, going to the next level.  So we’re hoping that the symptoms continue to diminish, and that after about another two or three weeks they’re gone.  If it happens  that way, it will be the best sign that nothing was wrong, and it might just have been an injury.  We’ll keep folks up to date, please continue the prayers during this time. Thanks for the continued prayers, emails and messages.  It's meant much.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Ignorance versus idiocy

If you think 2 +2 = 5, that circles have four equal sides, or that George Washington Carver was our first president, you might be ignorant of the facts.  Perhaps uneducated.  If you trust the news media to tell you the truth, you might be an idiot.

Really.  So the unemployment rate went up to 7.6%.  Generally, the unemployment rate going up is never, ever seen as good. At least if a Republican is in the White House.  But not so fast, CNN tells us.  In a pre-prepared segment, CNN deals with the numbers.  You see, in addition to the unemployment rate, most will tell you that the jobs being created are not great jobs.  They are low paying, temp or part time jobs, such as those in the hospitality or food service sectors.  Which shouldn't appear good.

And yet CNN swoops in with its pre-prepared segment, complete with visuals and stock footage, to explain that a rise in jobs in the hospitality fields, typically seen as low paying, seasonal and poor replacements for high paying full time jobs with benefits, can actually be great!  Heck, a CEO involved in the hospitality industry explains that many jobs in hotels with restaurants offer a free meal!  Of course your family may starve, but lets not dally on the details.  My apologies for no link, but I just watched it and CNN probably hasn't added it to the site.  If CNN has any shard of credibility left, it will actually burn  the prints.

Of course CNN isn't the only outlet.  All outlets are trying to put their best spin on this.  FOX, of course, can barely contain its glee.  But in all things, it should be obvious to anyone with more brains than a mite that any notion our journalism outlets are telling us the truth should have gone the way of the butter churn.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Urgent prayer request

Without getting into detail, a prayer request for our oldest son.  There are about a half dozen physical abnormalities in life that if they occur we are told to see a doctor immediately.  Well, one has occurred with him.  We're praying that it's an infection, injury or minor ailment.  Like all such things, it runs the gamut of 'serious but treatable to...', well, we don't want to think of it.  So prayers would be appreciated.

Lest we forget

June 6, 1944

Sunday, June 2, 2013

When I read John C. Wright

I want to give up blogging.  I mean, what's the point?  When he says it so much better than I could on my best day.  Here he is in a quick little post, poking a finger in the eye of the post-Christian, liberal tendency to shame and deride the wars of Europe, such as the Crusades, while giving a pass to other cultures, like that of Islam, that were every bit as bad.

This is the result of multi-culturalism.  It was hitting its strides in the 1980s when I was in college, spurned on by professors who had, in their day, been blowing their minds at Woodstock or bringing liberal values to the world through the Peace Corps.  The premise was clear: White, European, Christian, Heterosexual (a later addition) Men were the nothing so much as the incarnation of total evil and the singular cause of all human suffering in the world.  All other civilizations were superior in every way, with lovely people with buff bodies and perfect hair, running about the world in loin clothes, making love under the stars, and chanting John Lennon songs all day.

If you want to see this in action, you could do worse than watching Dances With Wolves, or Disney's Pocahontas for examples.  Scholarship is also on board.  A few years ago, the BBC produced a well made documentary of India.  Interesting stuff.  But I couldn't help but notice that MC tendency to downplay the atrocities committed by any civilization that wasn't European.  But when the Brits arrived in India, it was Cue the Darth Vader march, and that's where the evil came in.  Likewise, I watched a PBS documentary some years ago in which the scholars pointed out that Europeans who came to the New World didn't just come to rape and pillage and spread disease and genocide.  They also came to ravage nature, destroy forests, and upset the climate!  Those Europeans just can't do anything right!

Mr. Wright focuses on the condemnation of conflicts like the Crusades.  The hypocrisy of smacking down Europe's heritage of defense or war while giving others a pass.  But it's only part of the overall mega-message with which progressives have convinced a growing number of Westerners that the best thing for the world would be the eradication of everything to do with Western Civilization (esp. Christianity and the Catholic Church).

One note I will add.  This applies to America and Protestant Christians, too.  I'm sometimes shocked at how willing Catholics are to drudge up the worst possible interpretation or take on things done by America or Protestant culture.  Same basic take: The Catholic Church in the Medieval era was misunderstood and totally within its rights, but America?  Ha!  There's an evil nation of unjust wars and genocides and evil and all that!  Don't do it, since America and the West, Protestantism and Christianity are all seen as the same by those who wish to disassemble them all.  A lesson many Evangelical Christians had learned, and that helped me see Catholic history in a whole new light.