Saturday, August 31, 2013

Happy belated Birthday Mister Fifteen

And a rather low key, yet enjoyable, birthday it was.  It was actually a celebration on his birthday, it's just the post that's late. Our now fifteen year old, understated at at times, wacky in the extreme at others, enigmatic and possessing a speed of light wit, wanted only presents that would equip him to work and learn computer video production.  Eh.  He seems into it.  He also wanted a game called Minecraft.  We acquiesced.  I've heard folks speak well of it, and I've heard folks warn of it.  But then that's how any new things are greeted.   Whether video games or Dungeons and Dragons or rock and roll or radios, you name it and anything new will have its detractors.  So we'll see.  As it is, he was more than thrilled with what he got.  He had a giant cookie since he's not a fan of cakes.  We took him out to eat at a place of his choice, and not being used to large meals, we all paid the price that night.  But it was a fine day, a pleasant, and a nice chance to see this interesting young man with a keen intellect and quick recall blossom into someone truly interesting.

I'm not sure, but I think he enjoyed the day

Yes, he gets that excited about a green polo shirt - the important part being green

He doesn't like cakes, so he got a massive cookie with nuts and chips (and a touch of bourbon for flavor - his request)

They say intellectually gifted kids can be emotionally high strung.  They're right.

Striking a typical pose

The obligatory cute guy pic, eagerly waiting some of that massive cookie

The other two brothers, meanwhile, step in to light the candles

And promptly need assistance.  For some reason, it was tougher than it looked.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Yes atheist polemics can be wrong

As in this.  This is from a graph that was posted and celebrated on the ironically titled Friendly Atheist blog some days ago.  The gist is that it's a graph showing the contradictions of the Bible.  When you look at the lines, it takes your breath away.  Wow!  There are that many contradictions!  It reminds me of Bart Erhman's breakout book Misquoting Jesus.  In that book, Ehrman turns biblical scholarship, if not all literary scholarship, on its head.

First, he suggests that it's absurd to think just because a source is closer to the time it describes that it's necessarily more accurate.  Which is odd, since skeptics often say the NT can't be trusted since the letters were written so long after the events.  Second, he loved to say that there were more mistakes than there were words in the entire NT!  That is true, if you take all the the hundreds or thousands of fragments, codices, parchments and combine them and add up all the mistakes.  But then, you'd have more than just the number of words in the NT.  You'd have all the words in all the combined manuscripts.  Which wouldn't make much of a case.

Most importantly, he also conveniently dodged the fact that the lion's share of "mistakes" are in fact slight and insignificant differences.  A variant geographical spelling, a shifting in position of a preposition, a change in someone's tittle (did John come baptizing, was John the one who was baptizing, did John the Baptist come to the Jordan?, etc.).  There are some significant differences in some of the account, but they are few and far between (and worthy of much scholarly debate).

Finally, he would always end by pointing out the fact that the story of the Woman caught in adultery was not in the original manuscripts!  Oh no!  It can't be!  Except every Bible on every bookshelf in every Christian store has that footnote next to the 8th Chapter of John: This story is not found in many of the earliest manuscripts.  It doesn't mean a thing.  And yet, Ehrman, who says it's his goal as a professor to get his students to question their faith, is more than happy to play fast and loose with the inconvenient facts he ignores in order to make points that really don't exist.

I like Dr. Ehrman, don't get me wrong.  He was a fundamentalist who got burned when he realized just how skewered scholarship has to be in order to accommodate a fundamentalist world view.  But as we see, that holds true for fundamentalism in anything: Catholicism, Liberalism, and yes, Atheism.

So we have the above mentioned graph, that was supposed to show 'the contradictions of the Bible!'  Except it doesn't.  Oh I'm sure there are a few.  We all know the Passion narratives aren't exactly the same word for word, or that there are two creation accounts. And yes, there are some differences in the manuscripts that have some weight to them.  But for how massive the Scriptural canon is, compared to other writings of the ancient  world, they're beyond solid and almost amazing in their inner consistency and accuracy.

So the ones pushing that graph have to rely on the most hilariously ignorant take on the Bible and what it says, suggesting strongly that they have never even read the biblical texts, if they believe what this graph says is contractions.  When Jesus says if you believe in Him you will never die, and the author of the letter of Hebrews says it is appointed that we all die, that is NOT a contraction.  But guess how it showed up on the graph.

It reminds me of a humorous anecdote we used to hear in my Protestant days.  It was used to illustrate a person who didn't understand the Bible, even if they believed in it.  He decides to just let the Spirit guide him through opening the Bible and pointing to two verses, and that's what the Spirit wants.  So he opens up and puts his finger on Matthew 27.5: Judas hanged himself.  He then flipped the page and put his finger down on Luke 10.37: Go and do likewise.  A point our good intellectually superior atheists appear to have missed.

Liberalism is hard to beat

Because if something is true today, it doesn't have to be true tomorrow.  Likewise, there is no problem with saying something is true only insofar as it helps me win an argument.  I learned this yesterday on my last day at Friendly Atheist, when atheists ran about insisting that atheists never say religious people are bad or do bad things as part of their arguments.  I mean, really?  That's like Limbaugh saying he's never criticized Obama.  Which he wouldn't say, but so often those on the Left would.  Prize for the best exposition of this phenomenon goes to Dennis Miller, who points out the obvious.  

My Blog Ban exception

After I mentioned yesterday that I am going to cease visiting blogs filled with hatred of my faith, hatred in general, hatred of America, or filled with self-righteous contempt for anyone who doesn't hold to the only True path, I should point out an exception.  I will still go to CAEI.  That's because that was the first blog I ever visited, the first blog I ever commented on, and part of the first website I ever went to in order to learn about how Catholicism works for a Catholic Convert.  So I owe Mark much.  Though his changes and alterations are almost nerve splitting and he holds views now such that, had I read him in this day and age, I may never have become Catholic in the first place.  At least because of anything he wrote.

Still, I owe him much.  Some years ago, when we were struggling, and learned we were going to have our fourth son thanks to following Catholic teaching, he blew  the flugelhorn and raised a considerable sum from his readers.  I know Mark has a great heart.  He was able to inject a wonderful emotional element into the sometimes dry and barren world of theological exposition.  I fear it's that same hard edged emotional element that is his downfall.  To be an apologist, like any minister of the Gospel, requires a keen mind and a balanced appraisal of things.  You can't become emotionally enslaved by events, or soon you get into trouble.  I'll leave it at that.  But it's worth noting since I will still link to stories there, and some might wonder why, given the type of blogs I said I would no longer visit.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Girls playing football

Here is an entirely subjective observation.  I just watched a propaganda piece on PBS about how foolish it is for boys to have an issue with girls playing football.  This follows several stories over the last year where girls have successfully fought to play on football teams, with varying levels of corresponding desire by boys to be on girl's volleyball teams.  This is one example.  In most cases, they are kickers - the most protected position on a team, and seldom brought into actual physical contact tackle-wise.

I have my concerns.  First is the rather implicit understanding that the boys won't hit the girl the way they do the boys is there (and sometimes it's explicit).  Second, if they hit the girl and hurt the girl, woe be to the sport of football and the boys who did it (previous cases where the women/girls quit, charges were made that they were hit hard because they were girls by the sexist players).  Third, and here's my big observation, this probably won't change the idea that it's worse for boys to hit girls than for girls to hit boys even though it logically should.  Like so many things under feminism, it will be 'equality whenever convenient for women.'  Like so many things in our modern era, it has less to do with common sense and consistency, as it does whoever screams the loudest and is part of the right, hipster group, gets the lawyers and scientists to go along.  And with the usual jelly-spine of most American males, it wont' take much leverage to ignore my common sense questions.

A jump start on the festive season

This year's garden will not be good.  A host of issues beset us.  First, for some reason, our neighbors can grow corn by squirrels leave them alone.  Instead they assault our corn year after year.  No matter what we come up with, somehow the squirrels get through.  If it's not the squirrels, it's something else.  One year Japanese Beetles when we went away for a week.  One year someone in the neighborhood picked the ears. And one year I'll swear deer got into it.  Why us and not the neighbors, I'll never know.

But this year was bad, because we realized that the leaves we were using to mulch into the garden were, in fact, poisonous to the plants we were growing.  The suggestion was given to use the leaves, not knowing the consequences!  So on top of everything else!!  Oh well.  Live and learn.  If gardening does anything, it teaches you how helpless we really are in the face of nature, and why so few people that live among the growing things of the world and make their living from the seasons are hardcore materialists.

Still, harvests are what they are, and we've gotten some good things (big bean harvest), and Roma tomatoes are, for some reason, growing like gangbusters.  Some peppers, but not enough.  And not enough cucumbers to pickle this year.  Even our squash did badly.  Even our radishes!  It will be more miss than hit, alas.  There's always next year!  With our oldest son's decision to stay home for a year, his leaving school doesn't pack the same punch.  I told him he must leave someday, but a year to save up for school is not bad thinking in my opinion.  Not with college loans being the trap so many fail to account for nowadays.  So he'll be around to help then.

Reed as Bill Sykes, less hair and fangs
But with the garden struggling, and everything else, somehow we've begun to jump ahead on the upcoming festivities.  My thirteen year old hurt his ankle and is more or less out of football this year, missing all practices going into the season, and concluding that rest it and hold till next year.  Perhaps to compensate, we've turned to the DVD and suddenly found ourselves watching Hammer Films' Hound of the Baskervilles a couple weeks ago.   And last night, we caught the first few minutes of Hammer's The Curse of the Werewolf.  An different spin, dispensing with so much of the Hollywood yarns and getting back to old world European myths regarding those rascally shapeshifters.  Staring Oliver Reed, who my boys know for his impressive take as the heartless Bill Sykes in the musical Oliver!, it is an interesting production as only Hammer Films could muster.

And it's only August! What's wrong with us?  Oh well, don't begrudge it.  Nuns and werewolves, if that's what it takes to help my family find our way and get through the gauntlet, I'll take it.  Even if it's in the 80s in the dog days of August.

After visiting atheist blogs

It's nice to get back to basics.  After the Noon Mass today, a group seeking to become a religious order stopped by the parish.  There was good eating (almost up to Baptist potluck standards - and that's saying something), and a brief presentation.  Afterward, the sisters broke up and mingled with those who came by from our parish - not enough IMHO.  And a shame.  They were quite interesting.  Our 13 year old, Mr. Personality, monopolized one of our priests, our deacon, and one of the sisters.  Another sat by me and picked our testimonial, reminding me that our story is one that should be heard.  It's been a while since anyone really said much.  Most who know us have heard the story and know the story, but it's old news.  For divers and sundry reasons, I've not gotten out in recent years to tell it much.  

But interested they were.  So much so that we were offered many prayer cards, opportunities to speak to others, invitations to their retreat center, and a general open armed invitation to keep fighting the good fight.  This stands in such stark contrast to much of what life has been in recent years.  Our parish has had, well, some issues.  I won't even get into it.  Let's just say that five years ago, you better get to Mass early or your family is dispersed across the sanctuary.  Forget not getting there early for Holy Days.  Today?  You could play tennis in all but one Mass and not hit anyone.  Plenty of seating and parking!  So there hasn't been a whole lot of options, and given the craziness of our lives, I've not been available to do much.  Which is fine, since with a couple exceptions, we've not really been invited to do much save by a handful of parishioners who seem to remember our stories.

Remaining growth was confined to reading, following the always awesome Fr. Barron and some others, or - ahem - following various Catholic blogs, some of which have changed radically over the years.  Otherwise, going to other blogs have had their place, some Protestant blogs and other such blogs still reminding me that to be a good Catholic and good American does not have to be antithetical.  Going to atheists blogs, however, is an exercise in self abuse.  I'm sure there are some out there that are thoughtful, open, realistic about atheist thought with its strengths and weaknesses, and a nice visit.  I've been to some over the years.  

But most exemplify the worst of the emergence secular left.  A hodgepodge lazy ideology of debauchery, hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and a yearning for tyranny. Calls for Orwellian censorship, loathing of those who don't conform, and a growing impatience for the freedom to not be a post-religious leftest.  And the payoff?  A promise that religion is at best a bunch of made up fairy tales and legends, a worst a vile set of lies that are the cause of all human suffering that needs to be eradicated from humanity.  And once done, we can finally lower ourselves to the lowest animal denominator, a life of endless debauch, drugs, sex and the right to abort and euthanize the unwanted who stand in the way of our libidos.  

And naturally lying, disingenuous BS, outrage and name calling are how such things are defended.  So pointing out that Orthodox Church leaders trying to ban atheist parades, while wrong, is understandable given the brutal oppression of the Church under the explicitly atheist USSR.  And the result?  BS, lying, name calling, vulgarities, and copious levels of denial that it ever happened, or that atheists ever say religious people are bad (despite it being the purpose of the blog in question).  And you know what? Life is too short.  Would a Jew go to a Nazi site and argue?  Would a Black go to a KKK site and argue?   I don't think so.  Bigotry and hate have always been around, and now is no exception.  That it is encouraged and accepted by the rich and powerful of our society is no different than ever.  

That is not where one finds God.  On occasion, one must step up and fight the evil.  Or if modern trends are to be believed, one must succumb like a lamb to the evil.  But usually, it's in that still small voice of God that we find Him and His purpose.  Not in the battles, the arguments, the idiocy and bigotry that is now, always has been and always will be.  It's not in the earthquakes of the blogs or the firestorms of cable yell-fests.  It's in seeking God.  

And after meeting those sisters, seeing them give it all up in an age that wouldn't risk a wet hairdo for a cause other than getting high or laid or the latest iPad app, I have to say I was inspired to remember what brought me into the Church in the first place.  And that was finding the Truth.  Even if the Church itself will waver and fail, as it has in the past and no doubt will in the future, the Truth remains.  That's why I became Catholic.  That's why bank accounts and savings accounts that once existed are empty.  Why cars and vans are rickety and in poor shape. That's why college funds are depleted and a house stands dilapidated.  It's because when one finally finds that pearl of great value, one sells everything else to get that pearl.

And that's what we did.  It's not been easy.  And I've not always been pleased with God for the way things have gone.  I'm not saying it all should have happened in some fairy tale way.  I'm not saying there aren't reasons that things have happened that are aren't good or the way they should have been.  I'm not saying it's all everyone else's fault.  Though it could be a bit of God and chastisement as today's readings from the Letter to the Hebrews 12 reminds us.  

So as I rethink things and take an assessment of what has unfolded this day, the reception of our story and the willingness of a bunch of sisters to extend a gracious hand, when set in juxtaposition to the hatred and bigotry of some atheist blogs, and the self righteousness and fundamentalist zealotry of some Catholic blogs, I will take the former.  I'll think on that pilgrimage to St. Meinrad all those years ago that first got me thinking about Catholicism.  And from there, who knows where we'll go.  Probably to the retreat center we've been invited to, and from there, who knows?  So while I'll continue to comment on today's spiral into yet another historical pitfall, and notice the Church's hits and misses, I'll tend to lay off most blogs that don't inspire or encourage growth spiritually or intellectually.  Any blog that encourages me to call others Raca for not being good Catholics like me is definitely off the list.  And any blog that embraces the Father of Lies to convince me my only hope for peace in the future is to renounce the God of love in order to embrace the age of the valley of Hinnom is not even worth mentioning. Where this will lead, I don't know.  But once again, it's time to go exploring!

The theme song of modern atheism

Despite the deplorable track record of French anti-clericalism, Communist atheism, and secular philosophies and the crushing persecution of religion that occurred over the last 200 years*, despite atheists with a sympathetic ear in academia and the media effectively shrinking the domain for religious expression and practice until it's confined to the church and synagogue and mosque and temple, despite atheists increasing proud to spew hatred, blasphemy, and contempt on religious believers (as opposed to non-religious believers) with the full support of our sex saturated culture; to hear atheists talk, you'd think they were two steps away from death camps.  It's true, to hear many atheists, theirs is a plight of persecution, discrimination, bigotry and oppression that they brave every day to  bring the objective, neutral truth of their knowledge.  So on behalf of suffering and oppressed atheists everywhere in our colleges, media outlets, and pop culture venues, I offer this song of sympathy and understanding:

*Many atheists explain that when an atheist does something good, that proves how intellectually and morally superior atheism is; when an atheist does something bad, it's either because he/she treated atheism like a religion, or you simply can't blame atheism since atheism doesn't really exist.

Does the Russian Orthodox Church wants to ban atheist parades

Should the church call to ban such things in any land?  In today's liberal/secular sympathetic media environment, probably not.  Plus, if we value things like freedom of speech and freedom of religious belief (including the rather religious belief about there not being a God), it is also a bad idea.  And wrong.

However, I do sympathize.  After all, the  admittedly atheistic Soviet State brutally oppressed and crushed the Orthodox Church during its roughly 70 year run.  A former Soviet I knew in graduate school likened being a Christian in the USSR to being a Black in the American South in the 1930s.  And those were the relatively lenient Gorbachev days of the USSR's twilight years.  Imagine in the heyday of Soviet mass-slaughter under Stalin.

So while I think the Church is wrong, I think the proper approach would be for atheists to use this as a learning tool (atheism doesn't always turn out right, sometimes atheists have done bad things, etc.), rather than attacking the Church as if they can't fathom the reason it would be bothered by atheist rallies - which must prove just how mean and hateful those religious types are.   On the always ironically titled Friendly Atheist, I'll leave you to guess which approach is preferred.

Time to do away with the First Amendment

In many ways, the all important First Amendment was seriously compromised when the SCOTUS decided that in order to maintain the integrity of the establishment clause regarding religion, sometimes the free exercise clause would necessarily need to be compromised.  But beyond legal mumbo jumbo, there is a growing intolerance for not only dissenting religious beliefs, but also offensive speech in general.

I don't twitter.  I see it as a technological rape of the written word.  I'm no talented writer, but I appreciate beautiful writing and enjoy an eloquent prose.  Twitter is the antithesis of that.  But when I see this link, about people calling into question whether Twitter should allow a rascally pro-life tweet, it shows how far we've come.

Growing up, even when the KKK or neo-Nazis gathered, people begrudgingly admitted that it was their right.  The media, never sympathetic to their causes, would often end a story about such groups with 'well, it's their right.' But today, we see a growing disgust with the idea that people who think differently than I do should have the same rights as me.  Conservatives have always been there to a point, believing that a nation had a right to mandate a particular moral code, and that culturally a country might just prefer some things over others.  Liberalism was supposed to end all that and make America a completely free and open country for all.

But now, those on the Left, with growing support in the media, academia, and in some cases it appears the courts, are growing impatient with those who have not converted to the liberal gospel.  And so you have stories like this.  This also points to that new trend of uber-powerful rich guys controlling venues for modern communications.  People like Steve Jobs, or Steve Zucherberg, or Larry Page who control a tremendous amount of communication potential and have been more than willing to make calls on just what they will allow and what they will not allow.

Should we make it official and rewrite or do away with the First Amendment?  I hope not.  But to see a growing segment of Americans, many of whom identify with the formerly tolerant and diversity loving Left, you'd think it's a foregone conclusion.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Did the Beatles cause cancer?

Case in point:

Four of the most influential human beings to an entire generation
Of course it wasn't just the Fab Four.  Smoking and Rock and Roll went together like Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll.  We now know that all we need to do is throw condoms at the sex generation and all will be well.  Took about 30 million AIDS victims and endless tens of millions of other shattered lives to come to that conclusion (and in reality, the test results are still out on that one).  But at least we've figured that one out.

Drugs?  Well, we're pushing to legalize them.  We've been fighting that fight for some time. If only we could legalize drugs, all would be well.  Of course we don't even know how many millions have died from drug overdoses, and the crime that is drug related (no doubt because they're not legal).

And last but not least, we have smoking.  Smoking was quite the thing.  By the 60s, everyone knew smoking wasn't good for you, if we didn't know why.  Some of those wacky religious types were against smoking, but then they were just wacky religious puritan types.  Real cool people who mattered knew that smoking was the absolute coolest thing you could do (what did those button down conformist scientist types know when it came to things other than 'animals have sex, so it must be natural'?).  So smoke away kids!  You'll be cool just like your heroes:

Given the unimaginable tens upon tens of millions of lives lost, shattered, and ruined by following deliberately concocted propaganda and enticements aimed at the youth of four generations, it's just amazing how little we hold them accountable.  Why, they're off the hook.  We don't blame them for a single thing.  Now those stupid anti-smoking religious freaks...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Yes atheists can be smart

Of course they can.  They can be good, smart, and caring just like religious believers can be rascals.  The opposite is true.  The difference isn't that atheists are idiots.  Or that their arguments alone are absurd.  Or that religious apologists are always shaming Einstein whenever they speak.   As I've said before, right and left, religious and secular all have their bad apples. But the difference is, those on the right/religious/traditional who are bad apples are skinned by the media, and usually confined to living in the back hills of Montana surrounded by barbed wire and animal skins.  Occasionally they're trotted out by journalists as a sort of 'see, look at the loony hatemongers that are typical religious types.'  Those who say the equivalent hateful, bigoted idiocy on the secular Left?  Well, media darlings, entertainment stars, esteemed academics in prestigious institutions of higher learning, and, well, you get the point.

Here, Mark Shea shows that sometimes the idiocy gets so bad even other atheists have to step out and correct it.  The shame of it is, this idiocy is an accepted Super-Narrative of our age, even though there is overwhelming evidence to refute it.

Illegal to reject homosexuality

For those wondering about why I would split hairs over the whole APA wavering on why people are homosexual?  Read this.  A New Mexico photographer was just told if you don't want to compromise your religious beliefs, then you had best remain inside the Church proper.  Once outside, you belong to the Left.  As Barry Lynn so eloquently put it, advocating for homosexual normality is not Liberal, it's Truth.  That's the difference.  And you can't argue with Truth.  Truth must be the basis for all laws.  And the ramifications?  I'll leave the gentle readers to do the math.  It's enough to know that the ramifications have been the goal all along.


What racism in America

If you are having trouble finding the round-the-clock, 24/7 coverage of three boys who killed a college baseball player in cold blood, I'll leave you to kick around the reasons.  It took me a couple searches to find this story.  It wasn't on the headline pages of any news pages I've seen. This was two days ago.  The only coverage I've seen has been on a couple cable channels explaining that race had nothing to do with it and it's time to move on and find out why George Zimmerman is able to buy a gun.  Which is the important story, being posted just an hour ago.  Again folks, nothing to worry about.  Our country is just fine.  Everything is going in the right direction.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I can never see enough sand sculptures

I look at things like this and realize how much I envy people with talents like these.  

I'm not going to Rome anytime soon

Having lost virtually all our life savings in our move into the Catholic Church.  No news.  Just thought I'd point it out since going to Rome seems all the rage for so many Catholics right now.

Monday, August 19, 2013

We don't know causes homosexuality

After I posted my comment below, I just had to step back and post the footnote again.  I mean, really. Think on this.  This is the American Psychiatric Association.  The go-to source for all gay advocates because of its clear promotion and support for homosexual normality.  Think of it.  The assumption is that if you're against homosexuality, it's like begin against Blacks or Jews.  It's like racism.  Since being gay is like being Black or Jewish.  You're born that way, to quote St. G-.  That's taught.  That's affirmed.  That's assumed in almost every media outlet, educational curriculum, entertainment venue.  It is taught in churches.  It's affirmed by some Catholics.  It's a fact: being gay is like being Black or White or Asian.  And not accepting it is the same as not accepting Blacks or Asians (we're still out on the whole not accepting Whites).

Except, it's not.  It's all a lie.  I saw something like this on a Homosexual Advocacy website a few years ago.  In the Q&A section, first question - why are people gay - was answered with 'we don't know.'  I also read something about it in an article linking to the New England Journal of Medicine.  But those were passing references or agenda driven non-profits.  This is the APA, one of the key scientific and medical foundations for 'born to be gay' justification for not only allowing gay marriage, but increasingly punishing anyone who doesn't accept it.  And yet it's a lie.  A great big, giant, massive, huge lie.  And how do we know?  Because this - THIS! - is what that same APA says about the subject on its very own Freaking website:
What causes Homosexuality/Heterosexuality/Bisexuality?
No one knows what causes heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. Homosexuality was once thought to be the result of troubled family dynamics or faulty psychological development. Those assumptions are now understood to have been based on misinformation and prejudice. Currently there is a renewed interest in searching for biological etiologies for homosexuality. However, to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality. Similarly, no specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual.
The 21st Century.  A time of unparalleled stupidity when people are quite prepared to flush liberty and freedom down the toilet when the very agencies used to support the reasons to do so contradict the reasons used.  And in the age of 'the Information Highway!' no less.

Some generations have done so for meat and circuses.  Others have done so for bread and peace.  Some have gone so far as to sell their birthright for a bowl of stew.  But post-modern hipster brilliant enlightened types?  We're taking one of the greatest political gifts in human history and tossing it for some legal drugs, unlimited orgasms, the latest iPad app, and the ability to abort or someday euthanize whatever stands in the way of our libidos.  I mean, dumb and wicked generation.

To keep Chris Christie from being president

I would have my teeth drilled without Novocaine. I really can't abide him.  Pardon a break from my usual avoidance of politics and my reluctance to spew out at individuals, but he really embodies everything that is destroying the GOP and that I detest in politics.  In my opinion, he's a loud mouth, blowhard hypocrite bully.  Telling teachers and others on the public payroll to screw themselves and deal with it, while using a tax based helicopter to fly his kids' baseball games.  Sure, he gave it back when he was caught.  But can there be anything less credible character or moral wise for a boisterous politician like Christie to do?

Of course he has sucked up to the Democrats and Obama in an ever obvious attempt to gain favor with the media.  And now he has jumped on the 'time to take the first steps to outlaw opposition to gay sex' bandwagon.  I know such therapy is controversial, and I'm sure some of it is just quackery.  But most popular advocacy of homosexuality is also quackery, since most serious agencies and institutions admit (albeit behind closed doors when there are no reporters) that homosexuality is complex and nobody really knows what causes all cases*, despite the popular narrative that science has proven God puts a gene in a person that makes being gay the same as being black.  So I'm sure there are some cases where therapy could do good.  Isn't that up to the patient and the doctor or therapist (see Abortion arguments for examples)?

But no.  The post-Christian Leftist totalitarian juggernaut is gaining steam, and people like Christie jump up and wave their hands saying, "Pick me!  Pick me! Traditional Christians suck, so I'll screw them legally!  Pick me!"  And of course he's getting his kudos, high-fives, and well dones from Gay Rights groups, leftists, Democrats and others.  Which he will, until he gets the GOP nomination. Then, just like what happened to McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012, he'll be skinned alive.

If the GOP has become not just so stupid, but so morally vacant as to celebrate 'No Morals, Just Money', then I'm done with them.  Others trying to be serious Christians and faithful Americans have bent over backwards in recent years, excusing gross incompetence, lame reasoning and impotent stances on key issues.  But if the party continues its losing strategy, and nominates someone like Christie, bully par excellence willing to crush rights and piss on traditional believers to curry votes and achieve power to bully all Americans, then they've got the last vote from this fellow who will gladly go back to being Independent.

*What causes Homosexuality/Heterosexuality/Bisexuality?

No one knows what causes heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. Homosexuality was once thought to be the result of troubled family dynamics or faulty psychological development. Those assumptions are now understood to have been based on misinformation and prejudice. Currently there is a renewed interest in searching for biological etiologies for homosexuality. However, to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality. Similarly, no specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual.  From the American Psychiatric Association (emphasis mine). 

Hipster cool humor only goes so far

There is a trend in some corners of the Catholic Blogosphere to more or less embrace almost every aspect of the hedonist, post-Christian, pagan inspired debauchery, individualism and flip-the-bird disregard for anything traditional as long as I think it's so cool and it makes me laugh.  Part of this, I suspect, is due to the disproportionately large numbers of Blogger Catholics who proudly wear the mantle of 'geek outsider non-conformist.'  As I said here, that sort of self identification may well inform the way one does adulthood just the same.

Nonetheless, there is, in some places, a clear sympathy for such progressive, post-Christian advocates of gay sex, gay marriage, abortion rights, embryonic stem cell research, atheism, Leftist anti-Christianism, psuedo-Socialism, and just about anything else that is abhorrent to traditional Christian values, or traditional values in general.  As I said here.

It wouldn't be so bad if some could find the same humor among more conservative entertainers, but usually in these circles, despite claims of being conservative Catholics, conservatives today are dismissed altogether.  Rush Limbaugh?  Forget it.  Mike Huckabee?  Ha!  We won't even get into what few Conservative entertainers there are.  Even if they do something like oppose abortion, often it is dismissed because they are only 'anti-abortion', not pro-life (following the Church's changing positions on just war and capital punishment), and probably don't care about murdered babies anyway.  Nope, it's the cool hipster types because, well, they're so funny, so witty, so darn funny.  That's what matters.  And funny is important, just like this picture shows:

You see?  Pope John Paul II demonstrates his awesomeness and why he's so blasted cool by making goggle eyes at the camera.  Yes, I think it's cool.  I think it's funny and fun.  I love the picture.  I think some of these hipster cool progressives can be funny.  I also think some more conservative ones can be funny, or at least kind and witty.  But I never forget what they advocate, and I'll never dismiss it just because it happens to tickle my funny bone, or make me laugh, or because, let's face it, I personally enjoy being entertained by them so am happy to dismiss advocacy of hellish morality because I blow beer out my nose laughing.  And I certainly won't smack down one and celebrate another just because one tickles my funny bone.  For it takes more than good humor to overcome Hell.  As another picture I've never forgotten, which brings to mind the above picture of Blessed John Paul II, always reinforces:

From the collection by Emmanuel D'Astier, Time Life Books, 1977
Yep, that's old Uncle Joe Stalin.  You know, one of history's most brutal mass murderers.  And lest you think that's some fluke picture he did just to soften his image, here's another one of him being silly with his daughter:

You see?  A real laugh-a-minute family man. Humor is good.  Being fun and frivolous is OK.   But it doesn't taketh away the sins of the world.  I'm sorry, but if you are going to spew righteous indignation at conservative and traditionalist entertainers, hosts and others because of advocating our military actions in the Middle East, Iran, enhanced interrogation, Capitalism or whatever, then you can't - and I mean Can Not - turn around and dismiss entertainers and others on the left who actively promote those sins that cry out to God for Vengeance. because culture says they are the hipster cool types worthy of love and adoration.  Not even in the name of 'being harder on my own team.'  One must condemn, and treat equally, those from both sides. To do otherwise is to be nothing other making religion around myself based on my whims and fancies.  Just pointing that I'm following this fellow cuz he's awesome, even though he flings his fingers at the morals of God, is not exactly building a credible case for Catholic consistency.

Atheism defined

Pride + Sloth.  I couldn't agree more.  Following the comments on this, one of the more popular Atheist blogs, about something as simple as the fact that little of Christianity identifies with Protestant Fundamentalism, should reinforce that as the only acceptable definition.  Though I might qualify it by saying Modern Atheism is so defined.  Kudos to Nate for summing it up.

Update: It occurred to me that I mocked CNN for saying Christians are less popular than Atheism based on one website.  I then say based on Friendly Atheist that this definition works.  Here's the thing.  We know that millennials are leaving the churches, most of them for some half baked salad bar concoction of the their own making.  That was just a bad example.  In the case of above, atheist after atheist says similar things to what is written on the FA.  Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and just about every modern atheist today uses the same fallacious arguments.  So this is simply an example, and that's how I used it. It reinforces what most modern atheist demonstrate.  It's not the proof.  Unlike CNN's take.

Duck Dynasty against abortion

Duck Dynasty?  What in the world is that? I've heard about it.  When I first heard of it, I thought it was some Chinese Restaurant thing on the Food Network.  I have to say, I'm not a big "Realty" TV show fan.  So in most cases, I can't see me getting into such things.  With that said, according to this article at least, someone on the show Duck Dynasty might be putting up a decent fight for the way of life as opposed to the way of death so common on most television today.  Maybe I'll buck up and watch an episode.  Hope it's true, and if it is, then God bless the man.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Millennials are leaving the Church!

Oh no!  It must be true, CNN says so.  And the proof is that one of many religious forum blogs has more atheist followers on the atheist page than Christians on the Christian page!  Well, it couldn't be that there are legions of Christian blogs out there, and many believers feel no need to follow these big tent blogs that often have a strange mix of representatives or anything.  Nope.  It must be that Millennials are leaving the Church! Oh No!

Truth be told, they are.  The iPad generation is doing with religion what it is doing with everything else: cutting and pasting whatever affirms my isolated world I've carved out in some obscure corner of the Internet filled with like thinkers.  Likewise, it isn't shocking that after 30 years of propaganda at the hands of schools, entertainment and media, many young people consider Gays as the Jews being persecuted by modern Nazis (those religious types who don't accept homosexual normality).  And it doesn't hurt that some who oppose homosexuality do so in ways far less than Christian (and are often the focus of news stories), while those not wanting to be the Westboro types stumble and fumble about not knowing where to compromise and where to stand.

Plus, of course, the idea that we are nothing but glorified animals and religion is made up myths and fairy tales is the narrative of our time, and just as children growing up in the old South in the 30s assumed blacks were inferior, and children growing up in the 30s in Germany knew Jews were inferior, so those growing up today know that religion is hateful, bigoted and a lie.  It's the cultural ocean in which they swim.

Add to that the vacant attempts by a variety of churches and traditions to deal with these challenges, and it's not hard to imagine young people flocking out of the church doors in droves. Of course they aren't becoming atheists either. They are, in that classic salad bar approach of the iPad generation, becoming karma believing atheist mystics who pray regularly to a personal god. In short, they are whatever they want to be because nothing is real, and nothing to get hung about, and the Internet proves it.

FWIW, CNN lost me on a couple points, most of which was failing to examine just what this phenomenon is, as well as by letting Mr. Mehta, of the ironically titled Friendly Atheist, use this as a platform for the modern Atheist gospel, rather than holding his feet to the fire about the things he says. Given the impotence and ineptitude of the media regarding religion, atheists usually come out the winners since they can spout any ludicrous atheist dogma and pretty much get away with it.  Anyway, watch and learn.  This, as much as anything, is the world of truth that millennials are experiencing, which probably answers much:

The Spirit of 76

Tyco style that is.  Remember this:

Yeah, I remember that.  The year was 1976, or maybe earlier. Even though my Dad was a train engineer, oddly he never put much into model railroad layouts.  Unlike many who worked on the railroad, who got into the whole 'railroad hobby and collectibles', Dad approached it like a job. I once asked why he didn't have a model railroad layout.  He said when accountants have model accountant layouts, then he'll consider it.  It was just his job.  He went to work, short sleeve polo shirts, jeans and sunglasses, ran his train, and came home.  So it wasn't as if every train set that came along made it into our house.  There was a commercial for it (a commercial for an electric train set - haven't seen one of those for a million years).  I actually wanted set in the worst way.  My Mom took me to some matinee in Mansfield, where we watched some cartoons and maybe a movie, I don't remember.  Then there was a raffle drawing for a stage filled with prizes, one prize being this set.  As usual, I didn't win anything.

If you want to make atheists mad

Just mention that flinging condoms at AIDS doesn't make it go away, and actually sets up an ethic where we accept the death of millions as long as we have better sex lives.  I got tired of responding.  Why can't I get comments like that here!!  I'm the 'Guest' BTW, since I don't use my name on most atheist blogs, due to the vitriol and hatred spewed if you oppose the secular progressive tolerance and diversity.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pastor sued for opposing homosexuality

We'll see.  From the always fair and neutral New York Times, it appears the pastor is a bit loony, based on some of the things he's said.  Though in all fairness, no more loony that things endorsed by those seeking to impose gay rights on the country.  Nazis as a homosexual inspired movement?   Hmmmm.  But then, some years ago, I saw on the History Channel that the Nazi Holocaust murdered 13 million Jews, Homosexuals and other minorities.  That's right, Jews and Homosexuals, and a few others.  So both sides can be pretty far out, but it's worth noting that one side is officially endorsed by our modern status quo.

As for the pastor, I don't know enough about the case.  If he was running around saying 'kill gays, kill them, kill them all!' then I guess that's more than reason to hold his feet to the fire.  But with that said, if we're going to start punishing people for such things, I'd like a straight, clear, black and white statement of exactly what is and what isn't allowed.  What part of opposing homosexual normality is allowed, and what part crossed the line to hate?  I say this since increasingly people define opposing gay rights (or any other progressive agendas) as the definition of hate.  And if hate needs to be punished, for all us non-progressive types, it's a question worth asking.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cool Tolkien Art

Here's the link.  It's based on Ralph Bakshi's ill fated attempt to bring LoTR to the big screen in the 1978.  Criticized then for the strange leaning on rotoscope technology, as well as the abrupt end with no sequel, it fell under a new round of jeers when Peter Jackson released his three part epic based at times loosely on that book by Tolkien.  Many of his problems it turns out, were the result of corporate interference rather than artistic decisions on Bakshi's part.

By now, most know that Jackson had more or less lied about his knowledge of Bakshi leading up to the release of Fellowship.  Initially he stated he hadn't ever watched the animated version.  Later he admitted he had, and then finally admitted what anyone who had seen both versions knew, that Jackson more or less lifted the framework of Fellowship straight from Bakshi.  A shame that this wasn't made known at the height of the frenzy, for it could have been a boon to Bakshi who has received less credit than he deserves, IMHO.  Maybe that's why lying is not a good thing, and that's the sort we should focus on, rather than splitting hairs on when to lie or not to save babies.

Anyway, I've always liked Bakshi's version, because it was the first version I saw that made sense; Rankin and Bass's made for TV follow-up being at times spot on, and at times excruciating.  Bakshi misses a lot (as do all versions), but somehow seems to catch a gist of Tolkien that in three multi-zillion dollar epics, Jackson never quite grasps.  And to this day, when I read LoTR, it's Bakshi's Indian-like Aragorn I imagine, not Mortenson's; Bakshi's Frodo, not Woods'.  And if it weren't for the Viking helmet, I might go so far as to say Bakshi's Boromir leans closer to the text than the otherwise great Sean Bean's sometimes too insecure and wavering portrayal.

Anyway, the link is to art for a Calendar done by Paul Rivoche, and inspired by the artwork for the animated film.  In some ways, it surpasses the artwork it is based on.  An especially interesting take on Orcs and the Balrog.

To Pacific Rim

Or not to Pacific Rim.  That is the question.  One of my loyal readers has made it clear: We must, Must! see Pacific Rim.  Hmmmm.  Time is the big thing right now, and it's more an issue than funds.  I get the impression it's one of those movies that would have more umph on a big screen theater than a home television set.  So we'll see.  This and next weeks are tough, and truth be told, our crazy summer has set things back by many weeks.  What think you?

Remember my post about homosexuality and the Catholic Church

That I posted yesterday?  Well it was pointed out that I overstated the case, since all disordered appetites are unique and should be treated separately.  Fair enough.  But here is what I mean.  Over at, once again, CAEI, there is a lengthy letter posted from a 'gay' Catholic.  The gist of the letter is basically that while conceding the Church's ultimate teaching that you can't engage in homosexual activity, the Church had better wake up and accept the modern post-Christian narrative of sexuality. Really.  That's the basic one sentence summation for not only the posted letter, but the comments in the combox. And I'm not being unfair by not saying it on CAEI.  Mark made it clear this type of analysis for that post is not welcome.

One of the problems the Church is having is trying to scramble to catch up with post-Christian progressive thought.  And it ain't easy.  That thought is based on a pretty simple formula: religion is not revealed, it's inspired (at best), and humans are simply evolved animals (and the only ones who don't belong), so it's all about the individual's right to define reality around his or her own happiness because either we all go to the happy place, or we become worm food.  That's about it.  Of course there are other things, types of government, economic theories, approaches to education that are proposed in light of that.  But that's the Shema of the post-Christian Left.

And to take 2000 years of Christian belief and pound that square peg into the round hold just doesn't work.  It never works. Ask the various Protestant denominations that have tried.  They either whither away (why go to a Church when it's about me?), or they end up so far removed from the Faith that they can't be called Christian and have the word mean anything.

That's what I meant with my post.  There is something to be said, within a counseling context, for treating disordered appetites differently, be them sexual, alcohol, gluttony, pride, whatever.  And I'm not saying that all Catholics couldn't do better, or some aren't judgmental or hypocrites or whatever. But that's not what this is about. This is basically taking the same approach that the Church has regarding science, that everything the hip cool moderns say is true, but God does too exist.  Everything that hip cool moderns say about the Bible being fairy tales and myths is true, but Jesus did too raise from the dead.  Everything that hip cool moderns say about gay being above and separate and superior to every other issue is true, but you still can't have penetration.  Believe me, after fifteen years of watching this strategy play out in Protestant ministry, all the Catholic Church will get from this is the same problems Protestants have discovered, only slower and bigger.

In wake of the annual Atomic Bomb sessions on the Catholic Blogosphere

Here's another interesting article.  Fact is, we Americans and Europeans still look at WWII as a European phenomenon.  As a general rule, we examined the Pacific war as a conflict between us and the Japanese that was a sidebar to the important part of the war.  I remember even hearing folks say 'in Europe, there were many countries involved, but in the Pacific, it was the Yanks vs. the Japs.'  Well, plus the Aussies and the Brits.  But fact is, it was also the entire Pacific rim, most of East Asia.  China, the Philippines, Burma, Korea.  These countries, turns out, have an entirely different view of the war, what it was about, how it ended, the horrible toll of occupation, and why things may not look the way we've always imagined.  And as those countries have emerged from behind Japan's rather impressive shadow, we come to realize there are different views.  Some of what we've heard may not be, well, accurate.

It hasn't just taken only these countries emerging.  For years, folks have been calling into question the Official Narrative (TM) of the Pacific War as told by Japan and critics of Truman and his decision to drop the two atomic bombs.  But in the last twenty years especially, more and more tales told by those countries who suffered under Japanese occupation, as well as reform minded scholars from within Japan itself, have cast new light on the old Japanese friendly tale that was always so easy to fit into the modern Super Narrative of the West*.  Not that it changes things from a Catholic, or even Christian, perspective when it comes to dropping atomic bombs on cities.  But it does call into question the traditional crutch that even without Christ, it was a bad decision since the peace loving Emperor and the rest of the nation was just itching for love and harmony, and nothing else was really bad until...

*White European and American heterosexual Christian men are the incarnation of absolute evil and the singular cause of all human suffering in the world; all other peoples, genders, races and nations are pure, caring, brilliant and flawless beings who ever and always wish to make love to nature, live in peace and harmony, and build a world centered around the eternal chanting of John Lennon songs. 

Why Mark Shea

Why?  Why can't you spend more time writing things like this?  I spent almost fifteen years in Protestant ministry.  I earned a Masters in Biblical studies and Church History.  I was accepted into a Doctoral program and remained there until I left (bad decision) to find my way into the Catholic Church.  On that journey, I read and read and read and read and read.  I listened, watched and read some more from Catholics about Catholic teaching, doctrine and living.  And in all that time, I have never read such a wonderful take on what it is to properly understand Hell, Grace and what it means to say the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Why can't Mark spend his time on such things?  In the old days, he did.  Pieces like this were par for the course. Which is why his writings were instrumental to my journey into Catholicism. More please.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Saint Chesterton

Uh huh.  Largely due to the popularity of Chesterton and the growing influence of the Internet in Catholic life, Chesterton is being pushed for Canonization.  Chesterton has a fan base among Catholics on the Internet that rivals the zeal of those young girls who swooned to the crooning of Ol' Blue Eyes, the gyrations of Elvis or the falsettos of the Fab Four. Sainthood is not supposed to be about a popularity contest, but about the clear belief on the part of the Church that the person deserves the title.  Nevertheless, we'll watch and see how this plays out.

Have I mentioned we admire Dane Sanzenbacher

My boys look up to him, and they could do far worse.  In addition to being one of the most explosive and enjoyable receivers in college football, he also walked a good line as a young man of faith.  I have no clue if he remains loyal to the pilgrimage or not.  I know that was his reputation.  Possessing a strong sense of intensity and determination, he managed to pull winning plays out of nothing.  He also tried to do good with the time he had at OSU.  In their first preseason game this season, Cincinnati had their eyes opened as Mr. Sanzenbacher nailed a great reception and ran twice for touchdowns, helping the Bengals win easily.  Hopefully it will be enough to get him a playing role on the team.  We'll see.  But for now, kudos to what appears to be a fine young man with a good future as a player, and hopefully, as a much needed role model in a role model deficient world.

The true identity of Pope Francis revealed

It's true, I'm convinced that Pope Francis:

Is really Peter Stormare:

I can't see Pope Francis now that I don't get the sudden urge to find a pancakes house.

Homosexuality and the modern Catholic

The news world is still buzzing about Pope Francis' comments about gay priests.  In answer the typical spins and distortions filtered through the news media, many bloggers of varying capability have attempted to put it all in perspective, and point out that Pope Francis really didn't say anything different.  OK.  Still working it out.  Let's face it, if the world of the Internet has shown us nothing else, it's shown how easy it is to spin and twist words.  It looks to me that Pope Francis was saying what the Church, at least in recent years has said:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
Fine.  I think the issue is far more complex than we admit, than gay rights advocates want to acknowledge, or that most are willing to say.  But know this, if the Church ever comes to a point where it begins treating people with same sex attraction differently than those with any other temptation to sin, then the battle is already lost.  Because at that point, it's simply taking the latest and trying to spin it based on 2000 years of teaching, rather than taking 2000 years of teaching and seizing the debate and taking the initiative to frame the issue on Apostolic teaching.

Quint was right

Sometimes us wealthy young college boys don't have the education enough to admit when we are wrong.  And wrong we are.  Often.  Who can forget that part of the legendary movie JAWS?  The rough and tumble, ill-fated shark fisherman with a personal grudge against sharks vs. the wealthy young scientist, money handed to him, studying sharks for the love and admiration of their nature.  The clash between them was one of the more meaningful story lines in the movie, and it added to the depth of their characters, especially as mutual admiration eventually takes over and builds a bond between them. From what they say, a similar course of events happened between the actors Dreyfuss and Shaw, who apparently weren't on best terms, but who at least came to regard one another positively during filming (at least Dreyfuss appears to have built a lasting respect for Shaw the actor).

Thinking on that, the working class guy vs. hip educated kid, I've been kicking things around for a while.  I work more or less as a bean counter in a giant, multi-billion dollar corporation.  My ministry and education days a thing of the past.  There is no union, and at any time I could go in and find my position has been cut.  It's already happened there, just as it happened to my wife a couple years ago. I get the problems with unions, but sometimes working in large corporations sans unions does engender an appreciation for collective bargaining.  Anyway, because of that, there is no shortage of people on edge about their jobs, talking about this job or that job, asking about other jobs and trying to find ways to solidify their positions while always keeping one ear open for other opportunities.

Listening to the conversations that take place has made me realize something.  Most everyone I work with has a college education.  The average age seems to about about mid thirties, with a few in their later 20s, and some my age or older.  But from what I can tell, I think everyone has a college education.  That would be because most companies require college degrees even for the most menial positions.  Based on this article, this is because of a Supreme Court decision that made any other way of measuring potential workers unconstitutional.  I'll get back to that little phenomenon down the road.

But for now, it's enough to say everyone in my department is a college graduate.  And what I hear!  A few weeks ago, my supervisor, who happens to be Catholic, set out some rosaries she picked up somewhere as sort of a witness.  One afternoon, a coworker looked at them and asked 'is that one of those chastity belts'?  Now, I'm not being mean.  To be honest, I hear things like that all the time. But think about it.  The guy has a college degree.  He's working on his Series 7 exam.  College educated.  And he asked that?  Again, it's not just him.  The things I hear people say are stunning.  The things people don't know.  I once quipped to a manger that I had been in the eighth circle of hell regarding a task I was finishing.  The person looked at me puzzled.  I explained I was referencing Dante.  Blank stare. 

All of this has shown me something.  On the internet, you read stupid things.  Appalling things.  Unbelievably stupid, brain dead, moronic things.  Not just on atheist blogs, or fundamentalist blogs, or ABBA fan blogs, or even Catholic blogs.  It's everywhere. On one hand, people will discuss things with an attention and grasp of detail that would shame a prize winning physicist.  On the other, you can see some of the most stupid things ever written.

For some time, I thought it was some Internet phenomenon. The Internet must make us stupid.  People can't be that dumb, not with college degrees.  Not in an era that boasts more college graduates than at any time in history. Something on the Net must be tainting our smarts.  But then I thought of it.  It isn't the Internet making us dumb, it's that the Internet is giving us a false sense of smart when we were dumb already.  

You see, I have a college degree in history and education.  I went back to school and got my Masters in Biblical studies and Church history.  I began a PhD in Systematic Theology (I wanted historical theology, but the school had recently gutted its professors in the name of doctrinal purity, and the options were limited).  I didn't finish (woe is me for that decision) because it was at that time I began toying with leaving Protestantism altogether and looking for other (read: Catholic) options.  

That means in the realm of history, particularly modern 20th century American history as well as Medieval history, I'm not altogether bad.  I also have a decent grasp of Biblical interpretation.  Handy stuff for a former pastor.  I also have an appreciation for the development of Scriptural texts as well as the development of historical theology (with less concern about the systematic nature of it).  Along the way, I noticed I had a knack for geography (always loving maps) and since my original thought was going into political science, I have followed and studied politics for decades.  In those areas, I'm not bad and can hold my own.  In addition to all that, I enjoy music and, for no particular reason, enjoy art.  And each year, at least for many years up until recently, I always tried to pick a subject and study it (language development, archaeology, architecture, a particular country).  

During that time, I had to take other courses: Chemistry, biology, economics, and other such courses which were BER (Basic Education Requirements).  Out of all of those I took, there are about seven things I remember.  But here's the thing.  For whatever reason, timing, the era I grew up, the fact that my parents were older, I don't know, I feel I have a more rounded education for the simple fact that I know what I know, and am keenly aware of what I don't.  Just because I have a degree, doesn't mean I know everything. For that matter, it doesn't mean I know everything about the subjects I know much about.  It certainly doesn't mean I know chemistry, or nuclear physics, or how to make a quilt, or a million other subjects.

And I think that's the point.  Education was once seen as the key to liberty.  The key to living and breathing free.  It's why we didn't want our slaves reading, because that leads to education, and that leads to breaking bondage.  Certainly our Founding Fathers were children of the Enlightenment who saw education as the cornerstone of a free society.  And to be honest, negative stereotypes notwithstanding, the Christian faith has long understood education as important for the right living that leads to Salvation, even if that education was always understood properly as being filtered through Church teaching (a debt it owes to its Jewish ancestors).  Hence the rise of universities in Christian Europe as opposed to anywhere else on the planet.

So education good.  But it means more than 'I have a degree.'  Education means educated.  It means knowledgeable about many important things.  It means being smart enough to avoid the stupid self enslavement of the uneducated. It means knowing better than to sell your birthright for a bowl of stew.  It also means knowing what I don't know.  It means many things that I get the impression have been forgotten about in our modern era of 'the more degrees handed out, the better'.  

First, because education has changed.  An ideological battleground, most public and higher education is where indoctrination fights against counter-indoctrination.  Educating is less important than having our minds right.  Second, today education is seen as a means to a vocational end.  Get educated, get a job.  Technically, that's the role of vocational training.  But because college degrees are needed whether or not the job necessitates such a degree (see above), and because so much emphasis is on science and math and technology as we desperately scramble to save the sinking ship U.S.S. America, people forget that it's not knowledge of math, science or technology that keeps the chains off.  That would be those subjects being forgotten about in the modern scramble to succeed.

Finally we have the Internet itself.  I've always enjoyed Shakespeare and in my ministry days, I enjoyed dropping quotes from the Bard into my sermons.  Not emphasizing them, just dropping them casually in a sentence here or there.  I don't do that now, thanks to Smart and any other website where you can go, never having read a scrap of Shakespeare in your life, and pull an appropriate Hamlet reference for just the occasion.  What does it mean on the Internet to quote Shakespeare?  Or Whitman?  Or Poe?  It means you have access to Google and nothing else.

I could write the following: Nanoarchitetonics.  What's that?  I don't have a clue.  I just Googled 'Scientific terms', found the first Wikipedia article, clicked and grabbed the first term I could find. But give me a half hour with Google and guess what?  I'm the Nanoarchitetonics master!  That's the problem.  I've seen that trend before of course.  But it never dawned on me that the problem isn't just that people can rush over to Google and try to be experts based on the always unreliable Wiki world of knowledge.  I realize now that being college educated doesn't automatically mean we're educated at all.  We may not be smart people cheating on Google.  Truth be told, we may be idiots with degrees cheating on Google.  If we are educated, it may only be about a few subjects, and yet the illusion of 'the Information Superhighway' leads us to believe we are smarter than we are.  

Far beyond just lazily learning by Google searching this or that, with the corresponding lack of appreciation we have for the knowledge since we didn't really earn it, we may be less educated than we believe, while developing an unhealthy confidence because of what we can glean in a few minutes on the Web.  And there is nothing worse than being worse at something than you think.  If knowledge is power, the illusion of knowledge is cognitive impotence.  For an idiot who knows he's an idiot may be willing to listen to an expert.  A genius who is arrogant about being a genius might still be educated and smart enough to avoid putting his head in the trap.  But an idiot who, because of a piece of paper and a Wikiwebsite, thinks he knows all there is to know about Nanoarchitetonics and therefore refuses to listen to anyone in the world but those who sing his praises for being the goto guy for everything Nanoarchitetonic, is likely setting himself up for trouble.  Multiply that a millions times, and you might just have our modern era setting a direct course to disaster. I can hear the chains a'rattling as I write. 

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again. 

(And yes, I read that famous quote in a book of poetry years ago, long before I had access to something called the Internet).