Thursday, October 31, 2013

Protestants have poisoned the world

So says Mark Shea.  As the ship continues to sink into the abyss, Mark throws away yet one more shard of his former life and finally declares that while some Protestants are no doubt lovely people, the Reformers were evil liars who poisoned humanity.  Did the Reformation bear some fruit?  Yes, as did Judas Iscariot's betrayal of Christ!  This is a far cry form Mark Shea, c. 2005, who admitted the flaws of Protestantism, and its errors, while still holding up important recognition of the Church's own culpability at the time, as well as the positive witness that Protestants have brought to the world. 

I get that the individualized interpretive base upon which Protestant reformers leaned on is now a cancer in the post-modern world of relativity.  But here's the thing folks.  The Protestant Reformers were, for lack of a better word, Catholics.  The Catholic Church had stood over the very environment out of which humanism and its influence on the Reformers grew.  Again, nothing wrong with pointing out the fundamental flaws, esp. the fundamental flaw, of the Reformation.  But be honest.  The mechanisms were already in place in a world where there was only One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  A lesson for those who act like what the Church has no responsibility for teaching its flock, or what the latest Pope is saying is no big deal.  Just shut up and obey.  It didn't work in the 16th century.  I don't see it doing well today.

Waiting for Superstorm Samhain

For the second year in a row, Tricks or Treats may be impeded by inclement weather.  See last year's post.  This year it may actually storm at the time of the festivities.  We're not the only ones feeling this.  An entire swath across the US will get hit.  So I don't just sing woe is me.  Nonetheless, it's disappointing to be sure.  We could trace the attempts at outdoor celebrations this last year by pinpointing sudden, and often singular, inclement weather conditions.

So we'll see.  There may be no grand posts as in years past.  The older boys haven't bothered with costumes.  Even if they don't go out, they've dressed up, but this year there may not be a reason.  Still we might alter our plans and come up with other goodies.  We've considered a night of spooky movies, perhaps a game (Mansions of Madness, based on Lovecraft, seems highly appropriate).  Our eight grader has his confirmation retreat tomorrow, so bedtime will be a little early. 

In the meantime, Mark Shea reminds me of why I used to love his blog, as he gives a fun little resource about the famous pagan origins of Halloween, even if he does so somewhat half-heartedly.  Truth be told, I don't worry about it.  Everyone knows it either is or isn't pagan in origins.  What you emphasize is likely based on what you believe in the first place.  An interesting read nonetheless.  Another good place is on Fish Eaters.  It's the main website I visited on our way into the Church.  It's traditionalist (ironic linking to that alongside Mark's site).  It definitely displays that disappointment with the post-Vatican II that does seem to define that view (or they wouldn't be traditionalist).  It has a lot of 'nuts and bolts' about Catholicism, its practices, its prayers, old customs and why Catholics cross themselves level materials.  I've always enjoyed its post on Halloween.  Any website that links to Poe, Riley and Longfellow on one page gets my thumbs up.

Bonus, it links to Washington Irving's classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  If you've not read it, do so.  You can in one sitting.  See if Disney or Burton was closer to the source material (as if you need to guess).

Henry Waxman proves one thing

He proves it's a media conspiracy to make people think Conservatives are idiots.  Here he is, saying we need to stop worrying about the problems with Obamacare (the rollout for instance) and celebrate the fact that it is working. 
Waxman said, “The early glitches in this rollout will soon be forgotten,” and asked the committee to “keep this in perspective: The Affordable Care Act is working.”

WTH?  Even if Obamacare was the greatest law in history.   Even if it was perfect in every conceivable way.  Even if all experts knew it would save humanity and every person believed it and it was really that wonderful, we wouldn't know yet.  It would take time to play through.  People would actually have to have it, and use it, and keep it for a while before we ran the numbers and knew. 

The fact that he says something akin to 'yes, unicorns do control the traffic lights in my home town', and the press didn't jump on it with a Quayle-misspells-potato media frenzy, goes to show the painful truth that we do not have a free press, if we ever did.  We certainly don't have access to truth through the media. 

Twas Beardies killed the beast

Well done Red Sox.  It's been since the year the guns fell silent on the Western Front that Boston won the Series in Fenway Park.  That's a long time in the making.  Granted, I'm not Sox fan.   But sometimes you just have to tip a hat to a well earned victory.  So congratulations and take a well earned rest. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why being a Buckeye is so awesome

There are a million reasons that make being an OSU fan great, and the OSU Marching Band is all but fourteen of them.  Woody Hayes once called them 'the Best Damn Band in the Land.'  When we were at the Iowa game, they became an internet sensation by reproducing Michael Jackson's legendary moonwalk.  The following week, they swept the Internet again and made news with this jaw-dropping performance.  Remember, these are college kids playing while doing this.  The sound isn't the best, but watch and be amazed:

Monday, October 28, 2013

A full rich week Part II

Owing to my schedule, nothing happens in my life between Tuesday and either Friday or Saturday (and sometimes Monday, but usually not Sunday).  Our weekend finished with a rousing burst of family time, preparing for our oldest's big day.  That day came on Friday.  I was able to get about five hours off early.  His big desire that day was, in typical fashion, an afternoon with the family, and some games.  That's him.  We pulled if off nicely. 

The next day we had tickets to the Ohio State vs. Iowa game.  I got those through my old alumni club.  They happened to have a Tailgate and special offer for tickets that very weekend.  Since it was that weekend, I asked for the day off and made that part of his birthday gift.  It rained, and the food was horrible.  Sorry Outback, but whatever it was we ate, my son called it 'that thing that was supposed to be meat.'  Because of the cold and the rain, there wasn't much taking in the sights of the campus.  We stayed in the Student Union.  A newer building, it isn't the one that was there when I was in school.  That was torn down several years ago.  This one is big, new, awesome - and without any particular memories for me.  Maybe he'll have some if he goes to OSU.

Then thankfully the rain stopped and we were able to take in the game.  We were a bit worried the first half, but OSU finally found its pace and hasn't looked back since.

My boy.  He makes me proud.

We pose with a good friend to escape the effects of Global Warming

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The power of liberalism

There are many reasons that liberalism, for lack of a better word, is winning.  One is the tactic of the fifty million little fires.  It seems every day we wake up and somewhere, someone is declaring the latest tradition to be evil, bigoted and needing to be eradicated for the common good.  You just can't keep up with it all. 

Hence the Great Redskins Scandal of 2013.  The good news is, even some American Indians are stepping up and saying 'hey, we don't mind!'  But it happens every day.  I wouldn't be surprised if I woke up tomorrow, opened the paper, and saw a headline proclaiming that green eyed women with last names starting with M are in fact horribly discriminated against.   That the evil Christian West has targeted their kind for years.  That we must right this heinous wrong.  It's time we invoke the Censorship for Tolerance! 

Before we would have a chance to even look and see if there really was such a plight, laws would be changing and the revolutionary council would have convinced enough Americans that yet one more vestige of some freedom, somewhere, just had to go.  So the Air Force Academy, in the wake of this thrice-daily onslaught, has blinked.  And it has taken the first baby step that we've now seen too many times.  It won't end there of course.   As with all things liberal, it's only the beginning.  Like most things with decidedly ulterior motives, it can't be compromised with, bargained with or negotiated with.  It may appear a victory of compromise.  But give it a couple years.  At that time, when there are a hundred other new scandals demanding the Censorship, you'll see this revisited.  And we'll take yet one more baby step toward a world in which Freedom is a distant memory.

America's long goodbye

America, like the Christian West, is dying from sustained and relentless suicide.  Having accepted that our heritage is the sole cause of sin and evil in the world, a growing number of generationals are concluding that no matter what woes may beset the world, it would be better off without the pesky Christian West, especially America.  It's not a Left thing, though the enlightenment inspired revolutionary nature of the Left utilizes the old tactic of declaring as entirely evil the thing to be rebelled against.  But even many who aren't on the Left are seeming to shrug their shoulders and say 'it's dumb, evil, good riddance.'  You can't sustain a civilization that nobody wants to sustain.

Of course the reasons why some are dismissing the heritage of the West is because of that Woodstock era tendency of declaring everything to suck, while insisting it's everyone else's fault.  In our polemical age, it's also easily done by just pointing to those other types and saying it's because of them.  Or they were the problem.  Or whatever.  In the Catholic world, where fealty to Church should trump fealty to state, it's all the easier to start dismissing anything of value in our nation's past.

So Thomas McDonald, and then Mark Shea, both paused and said 'gee, perhaps that stenographer that had a meltdown wasn't just someone with a mental case.  You never know.  Maybe, just maybe mind you, it could have been God speaking.' 

Really?  The whole 'we've never been a nation under God, we are a vast conspiracy of Free Masons, we are a nation of evil'?  That could be God talking?   Even to consider the possibility means it's a possibility you're willing to consider.  If that same woman had said the same about, say, the Catholic Church, would they have posted it under the title 'you never know, could be God talking'?  To do that means you have to be willing to accept the premise.

While I would never, ever say that America and the Kingdom of God are one and the same, I also don't think it was all that bad.  Certainly no worse than any other kingdom, nation or civilization in history.  And yet two individuals who are not radical leftists nonetheless have come to the point of even entertaining the idea that this old country, to which who fewer and fewer people proudly pledge allegiance, was corrupted and wicked from the get go.  Whether for secular or religious reasons, we never should have cared in the first place.

That's a bad sign.  When individuals conclude their lives are worthless, have always been worthless, and there is nothing redeeming in their entire past after all, that's when you kick into high gear.  From a counseling perspective, that's when you make sure serious measures are taken to help, because it can end horribly.  When a nation concludes that there was never anything worthwhile after all, and it was all pretty bad from the beginning, it is on suicide alert.  Those who could do something simply don't care to.  And those who wish to do something to exploit it will succeed. 

The all importance of Obama

I hadn't really thought about it, but it's true.  I've long imagined that Bill Clinton was perhaps the most narcissistic individual to ever rest his head on White House bedding.  Obama's first point he makes is that there is nobody more than him.  Whatever it is.  Nobody is more angry, cares more, is more concerned, whatever.  Obama is more.  I'm not sure if it says something about Obama, or if it says something about our country that so few people have noticed it, and even fewer people actually care.  Or worse, that Obama deliberately uses such terms because it's what people want to hear. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Alan Grayson scares me

Not because I'm scared of him.  But because he is taken seriously and given a platform by the propaganda ministry for saying things that make Fred Phelps look calm and balanced by comparison.  Republicans can oppose Obamacare and they are called hateful, racist, bigots and grandma killers for it.  And some of this from media pundits. 

Grayson calls conservatives in general, and now the Tea Party in particular, the KKK, calls them bigots, racists and evil - and he's given star status and treated like a serious commentator.  He represents the lie that was liberalism.  He's filled with hatred, contempt, loathing, and gives the impression that if the rack and thumbscrews were still around, well you know. 

But it's the vast gulf between how the GOP must defend themselves for not being liberal democrats, versus Grayson who says things no Republican could come within a million miles of saying while getting accolades and great praise, that leaves you wonder.  What will our country look like when all resistance to 'Liberalism' has finally ceased? This, after all, is supposedly while it is still merely one competing movement.

A full rich week, part I

Starting last Saturday, it's been a full, rich week.  This weekend was the 18th birthday of our oldest boy.  Making us proud is just part of the package.  We knew it's been a rough few years, but we've worked hard to have fun, and give him as many boosts as we could.  He's had it the toughest of all, as our movement into the Catholic Church hit him the most.  But he's weathered it well, and overall has made it through the dark times as well as anyone that age could be expected, and sometimes better.  So the next few posts are going to be shameless indulging in the wonderful family, our awesome son, and the stuff of future memories. 

First, it all started a week before.  Busy schedule and mandatory overtime have eaten into what time we had, but we reserved the weekends for as much fun and catch up work as possible.  After Mass on Sunday, we visited my old stomping grounds outside of Mt. Gilead, Ohio.  A Lutheran camp is there, as it was when I was in school.  It was the location of our sixth grade annual camp, from Wednesday to Friday, usually the first week of November.

Each year they have a Maple Syrup festival and in the fall, an Apple Butter Festival.  I forgot about the place for the longest time.  In my ministry days, however, I was part of the local Ministerial Association.  And in the first week of November, usually the first Wednesday, we would gather in the morning to noontime and discuss Advent preparations.  We would also have a break, and that's when I left and strolled by myself around the leaves and remnants of the foliage. The trees were always yellow.  There was a section of old pines, and an ancient beech tree that was there when I was a kid, fenced in to keep people from getting to close.  Alas, the ages finally took their toll.  The pine trees are now where locals who keep the camp have a trailer, and the ancient beech that endured year after year of curious kids, including an old photo shoot of my own boys, succumbed to time.  We also found out my old school has long since stopped bringing kids here for camp.  Still, it was a good time, if not a bit somber.

Because of the feelings from seeing the old tree down, and the lack of funds for good old Apple Butter specials (though we did splurge on some fresh apple dumplings), we got in the car and rode up to Mt. Gilead proper, to take in a first leg in our annual Cemetery Ghost Run.  More of a formality now, when the boys were little, it was a time to scare and frighten, tell ghost stories, look at creepy old mausoleums, and if a strange, unexplained noise suddenly burst forth, all the better!  We do it now for our youngest.  Though this time, there were some pretty eerie occurrences.

Finally we went to old State Lakes, the local state park.  Not much more than a reservoir, it has some nice hiking trails, and a few memories.  I used to run the trails in cross country.  Years later, we used to bring the boys here back in the day when I would take them to my old homecoming games and parades.  Now they are bigger, their school has replaced mine, as it should be.  But we went back through the trail to an old creek where my second boy famously lost a shoe when he was little, and where this time we saw a pile of clothes that looked a lot like state issue. Beating a hasty retreat, we made it back to the van, then home in time for some Halloween fun with the Peanuts Gang, after stopping by to see the house my Dad built.

Our youngest being awesomely photogenic at the Apple Butter festival
Trying their hands at a homemade slingshot - they almost got the target
Another shameless shot of our youngest, not quite sure what to do on a bouncy toy
Symbolic of the recent years of our lives, a vibrant tree around which the boys posed all those years ago
The Ghost Walk 2013 begins!
This begs for a caption
The boys at Gilead State Park, displaying their unique personalities
Running in their own ways
This was a week earlier, at a place we usually wind up the Ghost Walks, but couldn't resist the picture
More to come in A full rich week, Part II!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy 18th Birthday!

You make us more than honored to be your parents.  A scholar, musician, athlete, and all around gentleman with a kindly heart and profound faith, you never cease to amaze everyone who knows you.  And this is just the beginning.  To paraphrase the immortal words of the prophet Bill Watterson, it’s a brand new magical day my son, time to go exploring!

Nuff said except we love you! 

You are no longer a kid

That's right.  These are the last pictures of our oldest son before he, according to the Law at least, becomes and official man.  An adult.  No longer the parents of only kids, we now have an adult in the family. And what an awesome adult he is.  More on that later.  I'll be scarce for the next few days, as we have some serious 18th birthday plans to make and carry out.  But for now, take a look at the final minutes before we welcomed one more fantastic adult to a world in desperate need of the same.  Happy Birthday son!  You make us beyond proud.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A sane approach to Pope Francis

Unlike much of the bilge spewed about regarding the many words of Pope Francis, Fr. Barron does his usual bang up job unpacking the best approach to our new Pope.  He actually does it without petty insults or self-righteous contempt.  He also seems to get that it isn't just the conservatives who are missing the Pope's points, but it is those of the post-modern world who are as well.  And then - this is the shocking part - he actually admits that there could be reason to at least understand why some are concerned about how Pope Francis is saying what he is saying.  He simply thinks if we step back and consider the primary motive as it appears, there is no reason to think that Pope Francis is on the verge of selling the faith for a bowl of post-modern stew.  Once again, the reason why non-Catholics should follow Fr. Barron if they want a good look of what the Catholic Church aspires to be about.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Soteriology for an atheist generation

Many moderns are implicit atheists if not explicitly atheistic in their cosmology.  It's true.  The illusions of industry, technology and science have made more than one person focus on the here and today, what's two inches in front of me (or in recent years, on the screen on my mobile device).  The hereafter means little.  People don't even think about it.  It's assumed either all the good folks end up in some ethereal afterlife, or there isn't, or it doesn't matter.

Which is why I sometimes think our obsession with space travel is so strong.  Paint me a party-pooper, but I'm not overly impressed by our space race.  The fact that we ever landed on the moon has not, as far as I can tell, helped the human condition.  The hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars that could have fed the hungry and clothed the naked, instead went behind collecting some rocks and having a few photo shoots.  

Sure, it's neat.  It's awesome at first, sort of like getting up at Christmas when you're a kid and you see that biggest box in the corner.  Huge box.  It has to be great!  And then once you open it, even if it's a toy, you realize it's only ho-hum.  That's how I feel about space travel.  We don't even know if real intergalactic travel is possible.  It might not be.

Proponents of space travel point to old explorers and bold racist imperialists who didn't let stupid tales of falling off the edge of the world or getting eaten by monsters stop them.  Of course we know that their actual concern was lack of supplies and the ability to sustain a long voyage.  Plus, they knew you could sail in a boat.  They knew you could cross mountains.  It had been done for eons.  The only question was did they have the materials to make it longer than before?  We have no clue if humans - or any living creatures - can sustain what would be needed to make space travel, much less non-earth self sustained living, practical.

And the returns and costs?  For hundreds of billions of dollars we've only had a few things confirmed that we seem capable of learning from our snug labs in China.  What else could we spend so much on for so little return and call it a success? 

So why do we do it?  Why are we obsessed - beyond the simple coolness of it - with someday getting moon colonies, or Mars colonies, or slipping the surely bonds of the Milky Way and touching the face of Andromeda?  I say because in many ways, space flight and the promise of keeping the human race alive beyond the earth is the soteriological hope of the secular man.

Soteriology is, of course, a fancy scholar term for the study of salvation.  In the old days, that was the hope that we would die and dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  In recent years, that seems to be an assumption on the part of a growing number of believers.  Hell is, well, diminishing in importance and acceptance.  For the secularly dominated, however, there is nothing.

If the Cosmos is all that was and will be, and we live forever in our memories and the lives of those who come after, then once the world ends, everything becomes pointless.  Right?  I mean, the atheist says eternal life is in the memories of those who go beyond, who see a world that we shall never know.  Some say it continues in our genes.  A circle of life thing.  Even if our great-great grandkids forget about us, we are still 'alive' in their genes (poor things). 

Problem with that is, once the world blows up, then it's all for naught.  Eventually, everything is rendered pointless.  It didn't matter.  It didn't matter that Mozart lived, or that Confucius lived, or that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a better man than Hitler.  The world blew up.  It's over.  There is nothing left to carry on a gene or a memory.  The entire story of every living thing has just become pointless.  The smallest molecule in the universe has every bit as much meaning as the entire narrative of human history. 

And if you think about it, that's not much on which to hang a positive outlook.  It does better if you don't think about it.  Which is why if you say this to many atheists they get mad.   If you tell me I look for the hope of eternity in paradise, I don't get mad.  Even if you say I believe in Hell, I don't get mad.  But tell an atheist about the logical ramifications of atheism, and expect an ear full. 

So for the secularist, the atheist, or the lazy post-modern who gives it little thought, could it be that the only real hope for keeping 'eternity' alive and making the human species worth anything more than an electron, is that some humans, somehow, someday get to escape before the world blows up and are then able to keep the memories and the stories alive?  That's eternity?  And it only works if we can get off this rock, this rock that both the Faithful and the Atheist agree is not long for the world.   Just a thought.

You go Nittany Lions!

Did you see that?  Did you see that!  One of the nail biters of the ages.  I'm not a Penn State fan.  And being a Buckeye, need I say what I think of that team up north?  But boy it was a game of games.  Four overtimes.  One of the best kickers misses three in a row.  A blocked field goal.  Penn State down by three.  The fourth overtime.  They try for it on the third down and come up short.  Rather than go for another field goal and take it to the fifth overtime, they go for it.  They make the first down.  And finally a touchdown.

Michigan deserved to lose.  I mean, they had every chance to bring it to a close and blew it.  What was wrong with Gibbons I don't know.  He nailed sixteen field goals in a row up to that point.  But Michigan had squeaked by others this year, teams far inferior to a team of the Wolverine's caliber.  I remember the crazy, hazy days of Jim Tressel, when his approach seemed to be win with the least points possible.  The year we went all the way and won the championship was done so through many an overtime win.  Announcers called it the cardiac ward at Ohio stadium.   There's something about settling for the least win.  Eventually it catches up with you. As it did for OSU.  As it did for Michigan last night.

Though I don't think Michigan's struggles have been because of strategy.  There's just something wrong there.  Something that Penn State and its phenomenally young freshman quarterback were able to exploit.    Just having turned eighteen, and with a national audience watching, it was him running in a touchdown that tied.  Things went nuts from there. After a humiliating loss to Indiana, I suppose Penn State was in it for keeps.

Anyway, well done Lions.  Another undefeated team that deserved to lose finally lost.  We'll see if the Buckeyes learned their lesson from last week about keeping a struggling player on the field until the last.  Against lesser teams you can.  But now the beast will be hungry.  And no matter what, Michigan will be looking to beat Ohio State and make it right since, as of now, that rivalry still surpasses most in all of sports.

Oh, and it's high time the NCAA lift the sanctions on Penn State.  At this point, they are only punishing young guys that did nothing wrong.  Coaches, too.  Sanctions should hurt the team then and there, and the people involved.  They should not amount to taking out an innocent bystander and shooting him.  The haphazard way in which the NCAA dispenses justice should, itself, be examined.  Teams where players have been given prostitutes and money to keep the best playing have gotten slaps on the wrist.  Others where players have committed the crime of crimes by selling football paraphernalia for tattoos (gasp!) have had their entire programs decimated.  And in a horrible case like Penn State that deserved swift and harsh punishment, the punishment should fit the crime (including undoing the record of those involved), but not punish people who weren't even born when the crimes were committed. Just an opinion.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

And yet more Pope Francis sayings

Here's an article that just popped up.  No clue.  I don't know if the man is just tossing out interviews left and right, or if the Press is scouring anything they can find and releasing it as 'the Pope just Changed Church Teaching!'  I trust the press to tell me what's going on like I trust my lottery ticket to contain the winning numbers. 

If this article is anywhere close, there's not a whole lot to say.  Like so many things, it depends on what is meant more than what is said.  For instance.  Protestant Churches sometimes speak of being Welcoming and Affirming.  OK.  Now that was actually code for 'we support gay rights and gay marriage.'  More than that, A I personally discovered, it was also a not too subtle code for 'if you don't support gay rights and gay marriage, we will neither welcome you nor affirm your homophobic bigotry.' 

So there you go.  A couple words that mean about the same thing to most people, used for entirely different reasons.  These statements about women from Pope Francis - assuming they are accurate - could mean nothing at all.  They could mean everything.  It's really all about what Pope Francis means when he says such things.

My only concern is that he does seem to take the stereotypes of traditional terms used against the faith, accepts that those stereotypes are the appropriate definition, and then goes onto dismiss those terms.  Servitude vs. service?  I'm sure we could split linguistic hairs.  But beware.  Those hearing this might be able to sail entire fleets through the loophole of interpretation that such a comparison invites. 

Speaking of Jeremy Irons

We've had a bit of Jeremy fill in recent weeks.  With The Hollow Crown series, and the other night, with the movie The Mission.  One of the great films, it should be mandatory watching for Catholics.  True, it is hardly a sympathetic portrayal of the Church.  Like all Hollywood adaptations, it's purpose is to preach.  Still, it does so beautifully.  And it takes a real moment in Church history, oft forgotten, when the Church sometimes zigged rather than zagged.

Most people are stuck around the Crusades or the Inquisition.  But truth be told, the Church's real problems have historically been during great, tumultuous changes in the contemporary context in which it finds itself.  Whether the sudden recognition by Constantine, and the power and influence it brought; or the rise of  Medieval Feudal society and its linking to wealth and land and power; or the post-Reformation years that found the Church assailed on every side by forces seeking to strip it of its powers, the Church has not always reacted in the best ways.

As we face perhaps the greatest threat to orthodoxy since the Arian controversy, and simultaneously face the greatest threat to the Church's authority and ability to convey Truth authoritatively since the Reformation, it will be something to watch.  Nobody here will be around to see the final results.  Right now, it's enough to know that the Church again finds itself in the crossroads of historic change.  It's at those times that the Church historically staked claims on principles and ideals that ended up going in directions no Apostle could ever have dreamed of, and few Catholics today recount with pride and joy.  Watch The Mission.  A clash of state, church and money.  And remember it's not the first or last time the Church will be in the crosshairs of history.

Christopher Columbus day is coming up

Have you burned your Columbus in effigy yet?  Just kidding.  The real crisis of our time, as we know, is the great Washington Redskins Scandal of 2013.  History will no doubt judge us harshly.  Heck, it won't have to.  We do that ourselves.   Here's a nice take on Columbus and the Catholic settlements in the New World and N. America.  It's OK, I'm still a fan of the Pilgrims at Plymouth.  It's just nice remembering that they weren't the first to bring the Gospel to the New World. 

If you haven't watched The Hollow Crown series

Then by goodness, you need to change that.  A BBC production - never anything less than stellar - takes the plays Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 and 2, and Henry V (known to scholars as The Henriad), and gives them more than a respectable telling.  It's not too awash in modern PC sensitivities, and the productions try to remain faithful to the telling.  Better for non-Shakespeare types, the text is delivered in a more conversational tone that is often associated with Shakespearian theater.  The guys are squatting in the mud, dirt on their faces, speaking in Shakespeare's English the way Americans Tweet and Text. 

The caliber of acting doesn't hurt either.  With the likes of Patrick Stewart, John Hurt, the always reliable Jeremy Irons, and David Morrisey among others (you've seen him as the Governor on The Walking Dead), you can't go wrong.  And it doesn't.  Again, the pacing, sets, costumes are all a mix of what recent Hollywood productions have made us expect, without going overboard into the Xena, Warrior Princess schlock.  And when there is  key line, or phrase, or speech, even though the intention is to keep the dialogue low-key, the series does a good job of adding just a touch of dramatic flair, as if to say 'we know you've been waiting for it.'  For instance:

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Ah Richard Winters, we miss you.

Wait and see

I always say.  There's a story tossed about that a Catholic LGBT group wrote a letter to Pope Francis, and Pope Francis responded.  Nothing there.  The contents of both letters aren't being revealed.  OK.  The press, with that disclaimer, then goes on to say what some sources say is in Pope Francis's letter, including a "blessing" for the group Kairos.   What that means we're left to guess.

Just who the group Kairos is, I'm not sure.  Last I heard it was a prison ministry, but then the term Kairos isn't copyrighted.  I really don't know.  Based on traditional Catholic teaching, the Pope can't 'change Church teaching.'  That doesn't mean a pope can't suck or take the Church into areas that create no end of problems and give two black eyes to the Gospel.  It remains to be seen with Pope Francis.  In our post-modern app-depth generation, it's probably entirely possible to construct a Church based on clear 2000 year old teachings while embracing the post-Christian secular Left.  After all, not a few Protestant traditions have done just that.  They've not technically changed much.  But in practice they are barely in any way connected to the Faith of their fathers. 

I remember a seminary professor who told us a story.  He was in Germany years and years ago.  It was Easter.  He attended the Easter services.  The preacher that morning was none other than Rudolf Bultmann, champion of the demythologizing of the New Testament.  That is, rather than dismiss everything that sniffs of supernatural in the manner of Jefferson, embrace the fact that the New Testament is just one big, awesome myth. 

And yet, on that Easter Sunday, while my professor watched in awe, Bultmann gave a sermon that would shame Billy Graham.  He opened his arms and proclaimed just how Jesus loved the world enough to die for our sins, only to raise from the dead and give eternal life to all.  Lesson.  In our age, perhaps in any age, it's entirely possible for some to proclaim one thing and really, really - I mean really - mean it within a completely different context than face value might suggest.

Again, we'll see.  Maybe it's nothing.  Maybe Pope Francis did no such thing.  Or maybe it's Francis continuing what the Church began in Vatican II, trying to adjust and adapt to the norms and standards of the victorious post-Christian Left.  But I am reminded of this - possibly the best evaluation of the current 'try to right the wrongs of the West' strategy of the Church:
When the Church is throwing out tools, they should be of less use to her outright enemies than to winnable neutrals.

I can't top that.  We'll see if it's a lesson the Church actually needs, or if it is one the Church has any intention of heeding.

The media is victorious

Once again, in a clash between two parties unwilling to compromise, the media has been able to cast blame on one party alone, and it appears the public has accepted that version.  The GOP is to blame, according to an NBC/WSJ poll.  It reminds me of the same clash that came in the 90s between the GOP and Bill Clinton.  Today, media pundits admit it was an unwillingness to compromise between both Gingrich's GOP and the Clinton White House.  Then, it was entirely the fault of Ebenezer Newt and the Christmas stealing Republicans:

I don't blame the press.  After all, if something works, why change?  Through selective narrative, distorting facts, and spinning stories, they've successfully convinced Americans that the definition of compromise is getting with the program and embracing the Liberal Revolution.   In the near future, expect America to be left with one political party divided by different spellings.

Friday, October 11, 2013

I am still here

Really.  This week has been more than busy.  The company I work for has enforced mandatory overtime.  That save money of course.  Screws the employees up, but I guess they figure we get more money and that's the important thing.  So time is very, very tight.  I've received a couple articles I'm dying to post on, I was sent a couple interesting links to some sites that deal with the growing extinction of the male of the human species, and of course I want to get around to my reflections on our Williamsburg trip.  Until then, enjoy this little bit of coolness, and the song that ushers in our annual holiday seasons*:

*It's part of Halloween Haunts, and old VHS compilation.  You can find it on Amazon, but not with this at the beginning.  If anyone knows how to get a copy with this, I'm all ears!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

But seriously

If you want to know how we could have overturned the common sense understanding of human nature to allow gay marriage, just watch our illustrious leader weigh in on the great Redskin Crisis of the 21st Century.  I mean, many Native Americans don't care, and some want it to stop.  And yet that small, small, small - and I mean small - grain of sand sized group who demands change will get it.  How?  I leave that up to the good readers to figure.  Just know that this trend, not of a group winning the hearts and minds of the masses, but appealing to key institutions of influence and power, is one that has come to define modern democratic processes. Especially by appealing to certain sensitivities.  And one that does not bode well for the future.

Americans rise up to deal with the greatest threat to our nation

Yep, even more stories are flooding that while our country founders, our economy sags, our culture unravels, and our nation falls behind a growing list of others, we are investing important time pushing for a change to the Washington Redskins.  Sometimes I think we've reached the level of idiocy we're capable of.  Then I read the news. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Scholarship in the world of post modern Internet brilliance

This quote:
the protestants starting with the first pilgrims killed of a whole nation of Indians, it started cause they wouldn't convert to protestantism

Is from a discussion on (I know).  It involved someone diving in and trashing Christians, with the resulting defenses.  Ahem.  I haven no clue who posted the above quote, but in reading his (her?) other posts, he appears to be a Catholic blasting others for being Jewish or not Catholic.  I'm really hoping this is not the type of over the top anti-Semitic radical traditionalist some Catholics insist are out there.  But the statement against Jews, the defense of the Church, the attacks on Protestants (including this charmer), all suggests someone either defending a Catholic perspective, or someone trying to make those defending the Catholic perspective look very, very, very stupid. 

Another take on Pope Francis

And one I've heard mentioned more than once.  This is from Dale Price, a favorite of Mark Shea.  The gist is that we can only defend Pope Francis so many times.  We can only use this or that excuse, accuse everyone of misunderstanding or not liking him, so many times.  The latest excuse is that his words were misrepresented by an 88 year old interviewer who used neither notes nor recordings, but reproduced the interview from memory after the Pope gave him his thumbs up.  OK, that happens.  But really?  I mean, shouldn't Pope Francis be a little careful about giving interviews to 88 year old men conspicuously missing recording or note taking paraphernalia? 

Being Pope is a major responsibility. It's like the Presidency, but with the God stamp of approval.  You're in the history books for the ages and responsible for leading and defending the flock.  The media is hostile.  He has to know that.  The media is not schooled in theology.  He has to know that.  Not everyone who reads his interviews is a Jesuit scholar.  He has to know that.  In the end, there is a limit to how often we can blame the human race, the world, the universe, the media, the stars and the clouds.  At some point, he has to step up and stop the upheaval and misunderstandings.

A little Political Incorrectness

Courtesy of Ray Stevens.  This isn't the Politically Incorrect of Bill Maher, who doesn't know the meaning of the term.  Maher is the poster boy of Political Correctness, mocking, hating, spewing insults on all the right type of people, and bowing before the appropriate others accordingly.  This is the 'I'm surprised it hasn't been banned' type.  I wonder if Mr. Stevens still performs it.  Part of me secretly hopes he still does.  He was great twenty years ago. It's still brilliant today.

The Six Faces of Halloween

I've said I'm a fan of Halloween.  Partly because in my younger days the Halloween season marked the unofficial countdown to that Holiday of Holidays Christmas.  Partly because it was linked to the autumn, my favorite time of year.  Partly because it was linked to those old school memories.  By now in school, we were moving past the unsure first weeks of the new year, making new friends, meeting new girls, reclaiming old friendships.  Football, apple cider, homecoming parades and bonfires, harvest time and farmers reaping in the fields, cornstalks and haystacks, you name it.  A flood of great memories.

We've tried (and in recent years, I mean seriously tried hard) to keep some level of fun and festivities alive with the kids.  True, they are growing.  True times change.  True, things have sucked royally for the past couple years.  But try we have.  And when I say, despite it all, we still like Halloween, I mean it in the sense of everything it was, and all that it entailed for our kids, our family and our memories.

With that said, I've talked with a few folks who have questioned an open Catholic's love affair with such a holiday.  Certainly in my Protestant days, among conservative Evangelicals, Halloween was a no-no.  Harvest festivals maybe.  But not Halloween.  The reasons being obvious.  Still, some have questioned whether Halloween festivities are consistent with a good, Christian household.  I think yes.  The reasons will be for another post.  But first, let me say that when I say Halloween, there are some things I mean, some things I don't, and some things that are along for the ride that I don't give much though about.  That is, there are several faces of Halloween when you get right down to it.

First, the "Historical Halloween".  Halloween, like Christmas, is a lightening rod for pundits.  Everyone knows where it came from.  Based, of course, on their particular agendas.  Either it was a pristine festival by lovely pagans that the evil Church stole, or it was a subversive attack against the Church by hostile forces of evil, or it was some slowly evolved holiday.  Fact is, we don't really "know".  That's because there is no document out there written in 1489 by Johann Smith that said "On this day, I, Johann, do invent Halloween." The best we can do is guess.  And those guesses, as with all history, are based heavily on what we hope to prove.

Still, we know that there were pagan holidays and non-Christian practices roughly coinciding with this time of year.  We know that the Catholic Church celebrated All Saints Day on November 1st.  And we know that the customs all have their origins somewhere.  Some find solace in leaning on that as a way to give validity to the holiday.  Some, such as the good people at Fish Eaters, see it as a chance to remind ourselves that Hell may actually still exist and be a real possibility.  I'm OK with it.  I like the historical origins, as long as I remember how much we know and how much we only imagine we think we know.  So there is the Historical Halloween, which I always try to remember.

Second, there is the Harvest Halloween.  That's that holiday most associated with Colonial life, and steeped in the harvest season and the oncoming winter.  Borrowing heavily from Irish and other European customs, it really finds itself in our country in later years, but there is still that Harvest link.  That's where the pumpkins and haystacks and cornstalks come from.  It's also that "Harvest Festival" part that conservative Christians are comfortable with.  Truth be told, I'm OK with it, too.  There's something rustic, natural in it that reminds us of more agrarian days, when life was tied to the seasons more than today.  I can't imagine Halloween without these.

Third, there is the Hollywood Halloween.  This is the part of the holiday that gets its cues, not from tradition or folklore, but from Hollywood.  What does Universal's Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man to do with Halloween?  Nothing in the historical sense.  Nor do ghosts and spirits have everything to do with Halloween.  When we watch our annual 'Halloween Haunts', we're reminded with Lonesome Ghosts that it was Winter, more than Fall and the Harvest, that many old timers associated with ghosts and the spirit world.  Sometimes around either solstice.  But ghosts and ghost stories were every bit at home around the Winter solstice as they were in the Fall (there'll be scary ghost stories, and tales from the glories, of Christmases long, long ago...).  But thanks to Hollywood, and some select twists on old tales, many seem to reserve the Halloween season for that time when ghosts walk among us, in addition to walking corpses and vampires and other things never historically confined to the Halloween date.  Scary.  It's OK, and a fine part to a season worth remembering there's more to think about than terrorists or serial killers.

Fourth, you have the Commercial Halloween.  That was the Halloween tied to American commerce that enjoyed a boost in the bountiful years following America's victory in WWII.  Money was everywhere, and commercialism was taking off.  Buying stuff and things was all the rage. Plastics and cheap materials were making things available like never before.  Costumes abounded, and pretty soon there was a costume with a plastic vest and mask that allowed kids to be everything from Superman to the Devil to Howdy Doody.   Other paraphernalia also began to be common, and decorations, cut outs, cardboard skeletons and other fun things could adorn a house for only a few dollars and make it as festive as the most holly and ivy bedecked home during a Victorian Yuletide.

Fifth, we have the modern Halloween.  This is the Halloween that, like so much else in our culture, is a giant hangover from the drunkenness of decades of materialism and commercialism.  Gaudy, cheesy and tacky statues, gravestones, blinking lights, fake webbing, neon signs, strobe lights.  And keeping with the post-Christian media saturation of our culture, most costumes reflecting the latest in the same way that Dracula and Frankenstein became part of the Halloween mix of yesteryear.  But now that contribution is in the form of puss dripping zombies ala The Walking Dead, or ax wielding killers in hockey masks, or gore and violence and heads with axes through the middle.

Following close on the heels of this, of course, is the sexed up cultural influence.  If little girls once dressed like a princess with a plastic tiara, now they dress like girls on the make waiting to bed the boy (or girl) dressed like a Power Ranger down the street.  Entire costume lines exist to help add a pornographic element to the holiday, and aren't reserved for those over 18.  Gore, tacky and sex.  That's what Halloween has become.

Finally, you have the occult.  You have that element of Halloween associated with the supernatural, the forces of Darkness.  Satan.  Hell.  Sabbats and a Night on Bald Mountain.  In some corners, it's deliberately used that way.  In others, it's lifted up to mock the Church in a sort of 'ha, in your face' sort of way.  Ironically, perhaps the worst part of Halloween isn't in those drawing pentagrams in the dirt of a crossroads at midnight, but in the cheap plastic devil masks that make light of the reality of Hell and the demonic.  I don't care for dressing up as demons.  Nor do I care for my boys dressing up in silly devil costumes.  Both, IMHO, are not healthy attitudes when it comes to grasping the powers of darkness that war with The Light.

Those are the different approaches and takes on Halloween.  For me, a dose of historical nods, harvest celebrations, and a healthy respect for the spirit world and even the realities of eternity all come to play their parts.  Fallen leaves and bare trees point to the fact that we are all dust, and to dust we will return.  As long as it isn't too much, there's not a whole lot about Halloween I don't like.  It doesn't bother me that some customs might be Celtic, or that the Invisible Man really isn't tied to the historical roots of the holiday, whatever they may be.  But I draw the line at uber-violence, gore for gore's sake, sexed up floozy girls, and boys walking about with knives through their throats.

In fact, in recent years, I've begun to settle on a less-is-more approach.  For some reason, remembering my home growing up, where a couple cut out skeletons and some cardboard witches and pumpkins were all that decorated our home, apart from a couple pumpkins, seems to bring about a stronger connection with the feel of the 'season'.  For season it is.  And like my oldest pointed out, it's the season that's as much fun as the holiday itself.  So while we'll still have the decorations, I think we're done with trying to out-gaudy the neighbors; though in truth, we see less of those houses than we used to - probably economy as much as anything.  A houses overflowing with flashing lights and giant dummies in the yard now looks cheap and fake, commercial and superficial.  But a house with a few cornstalks, a couple cutouts in the windows, and a jack-o-lantern* to me, at least, hearkens back to a festivity that, if not an actual holiday, at least deserves its place in the lineup of enjoyable links to the past and future memories.

*While working as an editor, we had a book of editing 'suggestions'.  These were terms that were to be used in light of modern sensitives.  Rather than Jack-O-Lanterns, we were told Halloween Lanterns.  Jack, after all, it explained, was gender specific and potentially offensive to certain (read: women) readers.  You want scary?  If that doesn't scare you, I don't know what will.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

For the offended Indians who want to change the Redskins

Has Thomas McDonald have a post for you!   I'm as sensitive to the screwing that the Indians got at the hands of the US government as the next guy.  My great grandmother was full blooded Cherokee.  My wife is descended from no less than three lines of Indian.  Probably there is enough to claim some benefits in a grant or scholarship there.  But I also don't buy into the Dances With Wolves notion that Indians were pure, beautiful, godlike beings of utter perfection.  In fact, like most things, the more actual hard evidence we find, the more a balanced take on the history of the period unfolds.

Perhaps what happened was inevitable.  The Indians lost.  Their culture was such that it was incompatible with living next to the encroaching Europeans.  After all, we've all heard about the White Man and his armies sweeping in and razing an Indian village and killing the women and children.  But we seldom hear of the Indians doing the same.  Perhaps we figure the white men and their families had it coming.  It wouldn't surprise me.  But nonetheless, what little evidence we pick up seems to suggest that, in the end, the Indians were as varied and as complex as the Europeans, and they waged war with one another and against the intruding immigrants from across the ocean.  And they lost.

We can make amends, but not at the expense of ourselves.  At some point, unless we just don't care, we will have to stop disassembling the Civilization that the Church built as a way to make amends since, in the end, I doubt it will do much to assuage the anger anyway.  And furthermore, I will have to believe at some point that such bickering has little to do with making amends, and a lot more to do with putting as many bullets in the dying leviathan that was the West.  A second and final last stand you might say.

In praise of farming

Our county jail as I remember it
I'm no expert on farming or the various issues that no doubt plague it today.  I grew up in a small, rural farming community in north central Ohio.  We were in the County Seat, which meant many of the county's professionals and leaders were in our town.  In fact, we had one of the highest median household incomes for the state when I was there.  So it was a strange mixture of well-to-do suburbanites surrounded by fields and farmlands.

Of course, it wasn't always pristine.  It was smaller farms than, say, in Iowa or Kansas.  As often as not, they were fields broken by hills and woodlands.  Winding country roads with old, dilapidated houses and rusting farm equipment, sitting year after year, helping to reduce taxes on the annual submissions.  At times, truth be told, it looked downright dirty out there.  Junked up yards, old vehicles.  Every now and then a farm house itself looked good, but only until you drove a little and saw this or that rundown, abandoned building with boards over the windows and doors.  Again, tax shelters agricultural style.

Sometimes, at night, it could be downright scary.  One night when I was little, my Aunt and Grandma were visiting and we were coming home from nearby Marion.  It was pouring rain, and the car got stuck near home.  My Mom got out and went to a nearby farmhouse.  It was old, the wood grayed and the porch
buckled.  She knocked on the door, and an old woman with stringy gray hair answered.  She invited my Mom to use the phone.  Mom went into a room decorated in serious 19th century farm deco, with old dusty furniture and a single lamp lighting the entire downstairs.  A staircase ascended into darkness.  Mature as my Mom was, she got the shivers.  My cousins visited with my sister once, and they stayed the night at a neighboring farmhouse.  The next morning they swore they had stayed in a haunted house.

Still, there was something about it.  Our school area sat in the middle of the older neighborhoods in town, with the high school and its sports fields the farthest north, flanked by houses, woods and a corn field.  Football on Friday nights just doesn't seem the same without looking at the buildings along one side and the field to the north.

And you had the FFA - that's Future Farmers of America to us, a select subgroup of the high school culture, snuff in cheeks and able to take apart a tractor with one arm tied behind their backs.  Those kids had been driving grain trucks before most of us were playing with toy soldiers.

And then there was the harvest time.  The house my Dad rebuilt, when I was about two years old, sat outside town in the inner-skirts of the farming regions.  He had - at the time - 20 acres.  Most of it was woods.  Nearby was a field to the west.  Against the recommendations of nearby farmers, he had a large garden next to that field.  It grew wonderfully.  Corn, beans, tomatoes, cantaloupe (the best anyone ever ate), pumpkins - he even tried watermelon once.  And at harvest time, back then, you still saw cornstalks and haystacks, old scarecrows in fields and sincere pumpkin patches.

And the creme de la creme of small town living, farmers in the fields at night, harvesting the fruits of their labor.  To this day, there is something about driving home at night and seeing tractors - or more likely today combines - in the fields, depositing  the grains and cobs into a nearby wagon.  The lights illuminate the scene every time in a way that just tugs at something inside, something that makes you think about a life on the land, near nature, bound to the harvests and the seasons.  Even with half million dollar combines with televisions, computers and central air, there's a natural connection.  It evokes.  It reminds me that for all the benefits of technology and industry and the latest smartphone app, we've lost something.  In those lights in the night, I think every time that there is something to be said about a life with nature and nature's God.  Not that no farmers are atheists, but there has to be something that connects you in a way that the tech savvy cosmopolitan could never understand.  Not that I'm ready to do an Oliver Wendell Douglas, but it is something I think on every harvest time when I see those farmers working until the wee hours of the night.

My life as a Catholic Clergy Convert

All in good seasonal humor of course.  But it needs to be told, especially to Protestant clergy considering Catholicism.  The pearl is worth it, but in this day and this age now, could cost you everything.

Ross Douthat on Pope Francis

Across the Catholic blogosphere, holy wars are raging.  It's all about Pope Francis.  Is he a radical liberal or subversive revolutionary?  Is he awesome?  Is he trying to right some wrongs in the recent Church governance and reach out to a world no longer bound by Western European sensitivities?  At this point, it's hard to say.

As is typical in the Blogosphere, it can get nasty.  Name calling, copious doses of Raca and Fool, insults, self righteousness.  And entering into the battlefield comes Mr. Douthat with his customary level headedness.  His take?  What the Pope is trying to do is understandable. He's trying to reach out to the masses in a way that circumnavigates some of the obstacles that, rightly or wrongly, the Church is blamed for erecting.  He sees Francis as trying to break the trend of the modern Faith, where one is stuck either holding firm against the winds of change, or just tossing the Faith out the window and embracing the latest, hippest.  The third group, those in the middle who gradually lose their zeal and desire to care, are also targets - perhaps the targets.

In fact, Douthat names the challenge.  Pope Francis is trying what has failed in every major Western faith that has attempted it: that is to find that happy middle between post-Christian revolution and traditional orthodoxy.  It's true.  And those Catholics who are hailing Francis for putting aside the Culture Wars, are sometimes the same who have mocked Evangelical leaders who have done it in the past.  After all, Francis isn't the first leader in recent years to make that statement, that we have to move beyond the Gay, Abortion, Culture issues and get to the Heart of Jesus.  It's just that in those churches where the strategy has been attempted, many have concluded something was lost.  Whether the infamous 'Seeker Sensitive Churches', or Rick Warren, or Joel Osteen - let's face it, most Catholics don't look to those as stellar examples of firm doctrinal moorings.

And yet that is precisely what Francis is trying to do.  In many ways, he is being the "Seeker Sensitive Pope".  He's trying to figure out what people don't like about the Church, and overcome it.  He's trying to reach that vast middle ground and grow it.  My prayers are that he becomes the first leader of a Biblical Faith to succeed where so many others have failed.  Where the Church has failed.

Douthat reminds us that the more traditional Catholics are not just blowing air out their butts when they express concern.  It wasn't too long ago that many extremes in the Church, in light of Vatican II, had pushed it to becoming a mockery that everyone used to dismiss the Church in the modern world, including not a few Catholics:
[Conservative Catholics'] anxiety is not that the new pope is about to radically change church teaching, since part of being a conservative Catholic is believing that such a change can’t happen. Rather, they fear that the center he’s trying to seize will crumble beneath him, because the chasm between the culture and orthodox faith is simply too immense. 
And they worry as well that we have seen something like his strategy attempted before, when the church’s 1970s-era emphasis on social justice, liturgical improvisation and casual-cool style had disappointing results: not a rich engagement with modern culture but a surrender to that culture’s “Me Decade” manifestations — producing tacky liturgy, ugly churches, Jonathan Livingston Seagull theology and ultimately empty pews.
That's about the best take I've seen.  That and Charlotte Allen's that I linked tot he other day.  What the Pope is trying to do is fine.  Whether he succeeds, or creates a problem that has sucked many another Western Faith into the drains remains to be seen.

That was close

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The Buckeyes squeaked, and I mean squeaked, past Northwestern last night.  I've never understood coaches.  Urban Meyer stuck with Braxton Miller even though Miller was clearly not on top of his game.  Two fumbles and an interception, not to mention a disastrously thrown ball to an open receiver in the end zone that killed the chance for a touchdown.  Yet he would not even take him out for a while to cool.  Thankfully, two very close (and reviewed) calls went for OSU and we barely made it.  The score suggests differently, but that was due to the Wildcats' attempt to a multiple-lateral move to make a desperate touchdown in the last seconds.  One of the players threw it past their own and into the OSU end zone, allowing the Bucks to add six after the clock stopped.  If Mr. Urban says we will sink or swim with Braxton, that's up to him.  But if we play that way against any team with any serious credentials, we won't have a nut of a chance.  And that's not to take away from Northwestern.

Kudos to Northwestern BTW.  Had it been any other team they were playing, I would have rooted for them. They played with grace, style, and cleverness.  Their dual quarterbacks were nothing short of awesome - and logged one of the most hilariously cartoonish plays I've seen in years, as the quarterback dove under two attacking Buckeyes, only to make the play while they dove and collided with each other over top of him.  Since nobody was seriously hurt, it's the stuff that makes football not only great, but at times funny.