Sunday, December 28, 2014

Another Catholic view on Torture

Another interesting article.  Those who take the Talk Radio approach to the issue probably do a disservice to the topic.  Again, torture is what the bad guys did in my view.  And so far, I haven't been convinced that waterboarding doesn't fall into the category of torture.  Like I've said, if we had an old war movie where Japanese or Germans were waterboarding an American serviceman, I seriously doubt we would have said, "Whew, thank goodness.  At least they weren't torturing him!'  But it is a complex issue, especially in light of the Islamic terrorists' willingness to throw all rules of war out the window and fight completely outside of any acceptable laws or standards, for a completely new set of objectives, and with an entirely new approach to warfare.  And since it's our generation, that has little connection to anything beyond our own hand picked demographics, it's been easy to criticize while proudly declaring no particular solution to any of the problems.

So I'm open to the debate.  Those who do anything short of 'I'd torture babies for the American way!', or those who invoke 'Evil America anyway!'.  Oh, and that goes for those who feel fine about breaking Jesus' commandments about judging and accusing and Raca and Fool to prove a point.  Read it.  It's worth the time.

I must see Unbroken

Based on this review alone, though watching the previews and knowing a bit of the history, I was already looking forward to it.  A movie that portrays faith and patriotism well, and the Japanese as brutal and sadistic?  Wow.  You don't see that much anymore.  Especially since the focus of America's contributions to WWII - when the emphasis isn't on it being a vast conspiracy set off by the American Military Industrial Machine - is typically the A-Bombs, Dresden, our antisemitism, and the Japanese internment camps.

BTW, on the same note, my son got my wife and me the movie Argo. Ben Affleck turned in a wonderful performance and did quite a job in the director's seat as well.  But more stunning was the fact that the Iranians were actually portrayed pretty savagely, while acknowledging that some of our policies were to blame.  But the really jaw-dropping part?  The CIA actually comes off looking sort of good.  Almost like heroes.  That's like a movie that portrays the Gestapo in a good light.

I always enjoy it when a Hollywood production bucks the liberal/post-modern trend.  I remember when Red Dawn was released in 1984.  It was almost surreal.  Not because of the implausibility of the scenario.  But because it actually made the Communists look like bad guys and more shockingly the US as the good guys.  Like my boys said when they recently discovered old reruns of the 60s farcical comedy series Hogan's Heroes; the difference between Hogan's Heroes and MASH?  Hogan's Heroes never forgot who the bad guys were.

It's a nice reminder, especially for Internet Catholics, who can sometimes feel righteous for proclaiming the eternally irredeemable evil of America as part of sacred confession.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Always remember that the United States is the bad guy

So the recent Sony scandal and North Korea's response has been an excellent diversion from news about Obama.  Even though things have looked up recently, the press has spent so much time covering for Obama when things were going sour, I don't think they know how to give the man credit when things actually go well.

Anyway, we probably all know the story.  I couldn't care less about the movie.  The reaction was everything I've come to expect from our generation of awesome hipsters.  But this little piece, where Russia throws its lot in with North Korea on the issue caught my attention.

For most liberals and leftists and non-conformists and post-moderns, the West and America are the baddies.  We're the bad guys.  Why the whole Cold War, and maybe even WWII, might have been a giant staged conspiracy by the evil US Industrial War Machine against a flawed, but misunderstood civilization known as the USSR.  So naturally, we assume that when the US is beat down a notch, the world couldn't help but be better off for it.

I hope they're right.  Since stories like this remind us that the vastness of Islamic civilization, the rise of India and China as competitors on the world stage, and little things like this regarding Russia and other old Cold War antagonists, suggests that such will be rushing into to fill the gaps as Western Europe and the US sink into second and third rate status.  If they're wrong?  Then in typical post-war post modern fashion, I'm sure most will console themselves by reminding themselves taht it will be future generations that will pay the price.

Thys be a blisful seasoun

A little Chaucer talk for our Christmas dinner this year, courtesy of Chaucer Doth Tweet.  We tried, for the first time, a Medieval meat pie, and let me tell you one thing - because it ain't two things - that was a scrumptious dinner.  We supplemented it with plenty of Victorian era side dishes, but replaced the Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding with the meat pie.  And that was a smashing success.  Here's a pic from the finished product.  It was not light!  But it was very, very good. 

The family that plays together stays together

A philosophy we live by, as demonstrated by the shelves and shelves of games and other forms of entertainment we have.  If we had more money, we'd travel. But in lieu of that, we make the most of what we have.  And for the plentiful days of bad weather that Ohio provides, especially in the Fall and Winter months, we have quite a selection of games to play.  Though video games, and new game apps, occupy the boys, there is still room for family games and family time.  So much so that they still ask for board games as well as tech stuff (and sometimes in some years, instead of tech stuff).

Here are some that we received this year, some by request, others by revelation.  In addition to some old standards, like Battleship and Scattergories, that were requested, and some for the youngest, including an awesome kiddie version of Scrabble so he can join our annual Scrabble game on New Year's Eve, the following should prove some fun hours in the upcoming year:

Based on the battle at the end of The Hobbit, the game (and its partner game War of the Ring) is based more on the books than the PJ movies.  And a good thing, since that helps it stay closer to the source material.  These games were the request of my 16 year old, and while ostensibly for multiple players, they are probably easier to play between two players.  The rules and flavoring and events mirror the books and the feel that one has when reading Middle Earth from Tolkien's perspective.  Not games made for a brief half hour to kill, the War of the Rings has been a joy, and this promises to be just as fun. 

Years ago, my parents bought a game called Labyrinth for our boys.  It was by a game maker named Ravensburger Games.  It was fun and well received, but we didn't play it often since even then, the older boys felt the pull of growing up, leaving our third son holding the bag with Mom and Dad.  But now our youngest has discovered it, and can't get enough playing Labyrinth.  Our boys, being good big brothers, have rotated playing it as well.  So given the quality and experience with that game, we found this product from Ravensburger.  We don't know if he'll like it as much, but if it comes close to Labyrinth it will be money well spent. 

When I was in high school, I had the idea of taking the board game RISK and adapting it to a World War II setting. I  even drew up rules and everything.  I never bothered sending it in, which is good news for everyone else but me.  Only a year or so later, a game called Axis and Allies was released, taking certain basic game concepts not unlike those in RISK, and multiplying them for a full blown WWII contest.  Two other games came out at that time: Fortress America and Shogun (or Samurai in other editions).  The latter two didn't have the same fanbase or numbers to sustain them like WWII had.  Still, I played Shogun once, and it was a blast. Now, with the miracle of, we were able to find an intact version for a reasonable price.  We'll see if it lives up to my memories.  Now if only I could find an intact version of Dark Tower for a reasonable price!

For years, decades perhaps, Avalon Hill was the undisputed master of historically inspired strategy and tactical games.  The old cardboard chits piled high in those days, and AH did an admirable job of combining scholarship with fun game play.  Some games were more complex than others, though striking a right combination between playability and historical accuracy was always key.  This is, as one could guess, based on the American Revolution.  The Historical Notes section of the rules makes clear this is not some modern Multi-Cultural PC version of events, but one that seeks to make actual events and players in the Revolution come alive.  We already have one Revolutionary War game, this one should add nicely to the collection. 

Based on reader recommendation, I couldn't find a rating for this that was under 4 of 5 stars.  It's in a historical genre completely out of my league.  Though I've studied some Asian history, most of my focus has been on Chinese if anything at all.  My knowledge of Japanese history comes in mostly toward the post-Industrial era.  It's certainly a pretty game, but we'll see. We may play Shogun first just to get the flavor of the period, since the two seem to be coming from similar historical settings. This also has a similar 'feel' to the game Mansions of Madness, which can only bode well for the game.  We'll see.  

But so far, enough games, as well as a couple in holding for Twelfth Night, and those our youngest received, that should keep us busy in addition to our store of games we already have.  A merry season indeed! 

Not all atheists are cowardly and ill informed

As demonstrated here. Not that it's a real 'that's wrong, stupid, cowardly and lame' take on this annual ritual, but at least he admits the yearly bed wetting with middle fingers by atheists could be overdone. That's something at least.

The problem is, there's nothing to hit atheists with.  Most live in denial of what their atheism really means - oblivion and an eventual end to the point of humanity having ever existed.  Not to mention that all things non-material are, by definition, illusions and fairy tales made up by life forms desperate to have purpose while we pass on our DNA.  All, of course, until the earth ends and the aforementioned pointlessness of the human race is made clear.

Not to mention try to tell most atheists that atheism is simply a belief, and it's like trying to explain to a 6 month old that the world is really round.  Not all, but most today. So as weak and meh this little piece is, I'll take it.  Like seeing the alluded to Fred Phelps take in a stray dog.  It doesn't mean much, but it's something.

I much prefer the take down on Mark Shea's blog the other day, that uses that part of the debate most modern atheists shrink from: logic, intelligence, reality, facts, data, open mindedness, curiosity, free thinking and self reflection. And all courtesy of one of the great smack downs of faith equals stupid in our modern era.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

And a blessed Christmas Tide to all.  I'll be more scarce than usual, due to busyness and a desire to spend as much time over the next couple weeks with the family as possible.  May you and yours share a special time and rejoice over the reason that we have this day to celebrate in the first place.

All is not insanity on the Catholic blogosphere

For proof, I give you John C. Wright's excellent musings on the entire Torture debate.  I'm still not convinced that waterboarding doesn't qualify as torture.  I just can't see the Nazis doing it and us shrugging our shoulders and saying 'At least they didn't torture the fellow.'  Still, the greater point is the dangers posed in such a heated debate, and how they apply to both sides.  Those who would gladly torture for the American way?  Shame.  Those who nonetheless distort and even lie for the greater good?  Catholics, need we say?  An excellent piece that should be read before entering into the debate.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The media has sown the wind

And now it scrambles to avoid responsibility for reaping the whirlwind.  As two murdered police officers are mourned, a nation that spent the last months whipped into a frenzy of cop-hate by the media will demonstrate the glories of the post-modern era that doesn't sweat truth or consistent principles.  Right now the only real issue for the media is the focus on de Blasio and his former statements about murderous, racist cops. But there are others to blame.  Many, many others.  While it is certainly fair to call out injustices, seek answers, and protest wrongs, what we saw was a whipped up frenzy of hate and fanaticism that would have shamed a Nuremberg rally.  And those who were swept up in this exclusive focus on our murderous, racist KKK cops in new uniforms?  Blood on hands folks.  Blood on hands.  For if opposing homosexual normality makes one responsible for Matthew Shepherd, and focusing on Islamic terrorism makes you responsible for the killings at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, then the logical conclusion is that all who pounded the drum of Evil Racist Cop has the same culpability in this case.  Expect this to be said by our White House or media elite...not at all. 

Peace to all who have lost loved ones.  Peace to people killed wrongly by police, and peace for the police who must risk their lives to protect us.  And peace to those cops and their families for being victims of a media constructed witch hunt.  May God grant them strength and perseverance in the coming months.  

P.S.  I was going to post some tweets celebrating and mocking the policemen's murders, but decided not to.  Such evil is not worth touching.  God rest their souls.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Torture on the Catholic blogosphere

It should come as no surprise that the release of the Senate report has opened up a floodgate of posts across the blogosphere.  Mark Shea has posted almost a dozen in just a couple days.  As one who stands back and watches, I'm amazed at the overall hatred and contempt that one sees for the US in many of the arguments.  At this point, it's simply assumed that the US has ever and always been an evil nation, a nation of genocide and slaughter, bigotry and racism.  There are Catholics who hate America, and ironically, live up to yet one more stereotype of old.  That stereotype was from those anti-Catholics of the 19th century who warned that Catholics would come to our shores, serving the Pope but using the US until it was done with it, then running back to Papa.

Thank goodness they were wrong!  After reading several posts, I put in my two cents about the whole 'America is a racist genocidal nation, torture doesn't represent our values!' hilarity so common in our modern narrative.  In a show of sad demonstration, less than a half hour later a regular on CAEI posts that the statement I responded to was spot on.  The US is always and has always been the Great Evil.  Again, having sex with prostitutes while calling them whores.  Sometimes it staggers my imagination the number of Catholics who appear capable of living up to negative stereotypes or vindicating old prejudices.  I'm sure it will continue.  And it will continue nowhere else more consistently than at CAEI, where such is not just tolerated, but increasingly encouraged.  By a conservative, patriotic Catholic no less.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Remember Pearl Harbor

Just saying.  I've not seen it mentioned much.  A couple news clips.  Nothing major. That is was a sunny Sunday like today all those years ago, as well as the 7th of December, just makes it more special.  Here's a piece I did my first year of blogging.  I can't say it much better.

Wisconsin Rest in Peace

The Wisconsin Badgers never knew what hit them.  Almost every sports analyst knew it would either be a squeak by win by OSU, or the Badgers would mop the floor with the topsy turvy Buckeyes.  After all, OSU was playing with a 3rd string quarterback in his first career start.  This after loosing not one, but two Heisman trophy candidate quarterbacks in the same season.

And on top of that, it dealt with the apparent suicide death of one of its own, some suggesting that concussions played a part (and interestingly not mentioning his wrestling career as possible blame - but that's for another day).  Given last year's disaster against Michigan State, and the equally embarrassing show in the bowl game, many wondered.

Cardale Jones, the 3rd man who started as quarterback this year, came onto the field with the lowest of expectations.  If he doesn't botch it, and the defense steps up, we might make a run of it.  Then, on the first possession, after only a couple plays, Jones stepped up in the well defended pocket and heaved a whopping 50 yard bomb into 'glue on his fingers' Devin Smith in the end zone.  One of the most impressive catches of the game.  Touchdown.  It all went down for Wisconsin from there. At 59-0, it was Wisconsin's worst defeat since 1979 (against OSU then), and one of the worst defeats in Big Ten championship history.

Boasting one of the best running backs to ever play college football, and a clear favorite for the Heisman, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon was completely shut down.  Whenever the young man had the ball, there were at least 4 OSU jerseys on the spot. The Wisconsin offensive line couldn't keep up, and Gordon was on his own, barely making 76 yards - a disaster for him.

In addition to several turnovers by Wisconsin, and a howitzer leg punter who twice put the ball back inside the Wisconsin 5 Yard Line, nothing went right for Wisconsin.  And more than anything, Ohio State made it look easy.  It was as if it was an exhibition game by a team of crack veterans, not a 3rd stringer in his first start with a team filled to the brim with freshmen.

Now the pundits will debate.  For me, I'd be happy with Ohio State not going to the playoffs.  Stretching ourselves past expectations has not always worked well with the Buckeyes in recent years. Wisconsin seemed to plan against the short pass and the run.  Logically, since being green, one could have expected Jones to be nervous and gun shy and stick to short passes and heavy running.  Other teams won't make the mistake.  They will exploit what weaknesses OSU had last night, and be prepared for a mature, capable team, not a team of green freshmen.  We'll see.

What Pope Francis said

According to headlines, was that the Koran was a prophetic book of peace.  Thomas McDonald puts that in its place.  Apparently he didn't, but simply quoted what Muslims think the Koran happens to be.  But like Mr. McDonald, the more disturbing thing for me at least was his referencing fundamentalists as somehow the Christian equivalent of Islamic terrorists.

Not that I'm a fundamentalist, but I remember when even the TV show The West Wing had a show dedicated to pointing out that while fundamentalists are truly the most despicable form of human life, in fairness, they aren't murderers.  They don't fly jets into skyscrapers, they don't behead captives, they don't strap bombs to women and blow up buses filled with innocent children.

When CNN had a special called God's Warriors, many eyebrows were raised by who they chose to cover.  There were Islamic terrorists, radical Zionists, and Christian fundamentalists teaching abstinence only education.  Certainly, even the most stout non-fundie critics admitted, there was one in that group that wasn't like the others.

So Pope Francis dropping what even the more hardcore liberal and leftists were willing to shy from seems a bit strange, or possibly telling. Remember, he's not a liberal or a socialist.  All such accusations are the result of media lies or conservative radicals.  That only the most hardcore leftists lump Christian fundamentalists in the same group as Islamic terrorists means nothing at all.

File Under: Jury still out

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lessons from Ferguson

By Rich Lowry.

  • Don't rob convenience stores.
  • Don't push around minimum wage workers (usually the most important people in the world, but strangely irrelevant in this case)
  • Don't assault police officers.
  • When a police officer pulls his gun and tells you to stop, then stop.  

Seems pretty simple.  Yet young people say they can't do the right thing without being assaulted by police.  So by the right thing, I'm to assume they mean plenty of the above?

Again, remember those old time mobs and masses we used to scoff at?  See the local news to learn how they happen.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Congratulations Ohio State

And prayers and get well to young Mr. Barrett.  One of the Cinderella stories of the year, Mr. Barrett was a 3rd stringer thrust into the spotlight when everyone's favorite quarterback Braxton Miller was injured before the season began.  After a rocky start, J.T. Barrett passed and ran himself into the record books, and took a struggling team filled with freshmen all the way to the brink of the championship series.  And all this when already the team faced difficulties with one of their own, Kosta Karageorge, is missing and hasn't been seen in days.

Then, as can happen in the game of football, disaster struck.  A bad tackle brought him down with a hurt leg, forcing him to be carted off the field.  His condition is not known, though he's likely out of the remainder of the season.  But it brought out two of the things about football that I love.

First, OSU's defense, which had been lackluster to the extreme today, rose to the occasion and mauled Michigan, almost as if in tribute to their fallen quarterback.  Second, Devin Gardner, Michigan's long suffering QB, rushed out to the field to console Barrett as he waited to be taken off the field.  That, my friends, is class.

And in all fairness to those who hate football, revile it, despite it, I say it's because American football is a throwback to another age.  A sort of chivalrous time when warriors clashed on the battlefield, but saluted one another when the dust had settled.  You may go out and bash the hell out of each other during the game, but you stand next to one another when it's all said and done.

One of the sacrifices of homeschool was taking our boys out of our local school sports programs.  Even though they can be on the teams, our own life needs have made it impossible.  But I missed my third son experiencing that special camaraderie that seems to only happen with football.  It's as if the players usually know they are part of something bigger than themselves, and they are all in it together.  Perhaps that's why the modern liberal culture, and not a few in the geek/nerd culture, seem to hate it so badly.  You never know.

In any event, well done OSU, God's speed Mr. Barrett, and well played Michigan, especially Devin Gardner.

A Catholic Thanksgiving blessing

Remembers that Squanto was a Catholic convert (of the right kind, no doubt), and that despite the vile English Protestants like John Smith (who is thwarted by the always loving and Beautiful Spanish Catholics) and those anti-Catholic Puritan separatists, Squanto is the Saint to be venerated because he saved their butts for only the purist of reasons.  That some of the Indians embracing the Pilgrims may have had to do with local Indian politics is, of course, ignored.

Yep, that's about what I've come to expect around Thanksgiving time in the world of Catholic apologetics.  An interesting take, when compared to this piece at an Orthodox site.  Heck, the Orthodox piece even seems to suggest the Pilgrims are worth celebrating! I have no doubt that Orthodox Christians are prepared to point out the sins of America's past and present.  I just don't see the singular obsession with it, or with the Protestants in general, that always seems to creep into Catholic apologetics.

Does Pope Francis want to increase human slaughter?

According to news reports, Pope Francis has said that the horror of ISIS justifies the use of military force.  Sounds reasonable to me.  But in that perverted parallel universe known as the Catholic Blogosphere, that could pose some problems.  In the land where righteousness is obtained by carefully picking and choosing which statements in the last 2000 years matter, the notion advanced by former pope Benedict XVI that we've moved past justifiable war was all the rage.

That's right.  Because of our weaponry and the destructive powers we posses, it might be time to reexamine the ability to fight a just war.  Seems understandable.  Worth a good debate,  But in the Catholic Blogosphere, those words became Gospel, and anyone trying to debate - ahem - was accused of simply wanting to increase human slaughter; simply wanting to ask how many more humans can be butchered.  If you were asking 'could there be times when war might be justified despite was Benedict suggests?', why you were instantly accused of nothing but wanting to elevate the carnage and the body count.

So, by that standard, it looks like our good Pope Francis is just itching to increase human slaughter, correct?  Not so, for the clever Catholic blogger!  In a world where amateurs reign supreme, they will have no problem invoking the post-modern mantra of punditry over principles by simply ignoring the standards they used yesterday in order to win the latest argument on the internet today.  Francis will be the guy of the hour, of course ISIS deserves it, and so on.

The more I live, the more I realize how utterly useless the blogosphere is for navigating Catholic teaching and a Faith lived out.  If you must, go to actual sites run by professionals, paid apologists at least, or religious.  It can still be a crap shoot, but your chances of getting real examples of Church teaching will increase tenfold.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Add caption

A hat tip to the Pilgrims, whose courage and devotion to their faith set a precedent that has flowed through American veins for over two hundred years.  And if we were smart, would inspire us today. Here's a post I wrote a couple years ago regarding my views of those heroes in light of some Catholics who prefer the 'stupid, evil puritans' take.

Oh, and here is a list of the Bad Guys.  And here is a nice list of the Good Guys.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A case for Orthodox Christianity

By Mark Shea. Yeah, that's right.  Mark makes a great case for Orthodoxy when asked by a reader why he is Catholic instead of Orthodox.  How does he do this? Certainly, he makes it clear why he is Catholic!  Of course.  But the content of his arguments just doesn't seem to be, well, read for yourself. 

Well, not really.  First, he fails to give the Number One Reason he has always defaulted to when pointing out the flaws in others' testimonies: Because it is True. No matter what, that's the bottom line reason to be Catholic.  I'm not saying he doesn't think this.  But it's noteworthy when distinguishing between the Church and the Orthodox, a clear "Because It's True" never occurs.

Much of the reasoning - and indeed, much of the reasoning in the comments - is a broad version of 'their mammas wear army boots.  Suggesting that Orthodox are more this or more that or more the other, as opposed to Catholics.  The problems with this, of course, is that it means nothing about the Truth of Orthodoxy's claims, as has been said on CAEI and other Catholic blogs when Atheists blast the actions or tendencies of religious people. 

Several of the theological issues he touches on seem to be vaguely understood at best, and he never really delves into them as I would like to have seen.  The Filioque is perhaps the main example.  Not mentioned by most was less the fact that the Orthodox churches disagreed with the theology of the phrase as much as they disagreed with the theology of the Roman Church suddenly feeling it could add to the Creed without input from the rest of the Christian world. 

Another interesting twist on Mark's take was the emphasis he put on those rascally converts.  This is shocking since, in the day, Mark would be the first to come down hard on someone for impugning the motives or tendencies of converts to Catholicism.  In Mark's piece, he once again makes the suggestion that while 'many' may not be that way (in standard fashion, pointing to personal friends he knows as examples), clearly a problem with Orthodoxy is its converts.  Followed by an equally condemning attitude toward those dreaded reactionaries, many of whom are such converts who become Catholic for all the wrong reasons.  That's called change.  Mark saying what Mark once would have condemned. 

Some of the reasons are silly.  The idea that the Orthodox are anti-Western?  Most of Mark's own Catholic readers are part of the whole 'the West is dead, let it die' movement.  We won't even discuss their attitudes about the US.  Does he mean anti-Western in the sense of the Old Western culture, or currently anti-Western?  That's a broad term and tough to pin.  In that Orthodoxy is not a product of Western Latin Culture is true, and could be part of the issue. He does mention its hostility toward the West since VII.  But I don't really know what is meant by that, so it's hard to say. 

Mark ends it with saying the Orthodox Church just isn't ready to accommodate, as Cardinal Newman said.  Though the phrase is assimilate.  A hairline distinction between those terms to be sure, and a balance I'm not sure the Church is any better at achieving.  Sure, "Doctrine (TM)" will never change.  But almost anything you do with it can change if you're clever.  Something the Orthodox might have figured out, that the Catholic Church, after centuries of changing to fit the latest, still doesn't seem to get.

Anyway, in light of my own post a few days ago, I thought the timing was interesting.  On our way into the Church, we seriously considered Orthodoxy.  Practical considerations made it a moot issue.  But reading this, and the rather weak and contradictory reasons (at least contradictory reasons when considering the criticisms of others' reasons for conversions) was an interesting read. 

Oh, and one more thing.  Mark made a little dig about the Orthodox letting bygones be bygones.  He mentions his ability to get over Pearl Harbor.  Yet even now, there are still tens of thousands of families who lost loved ones living today for that very attack.  Mark's OK with that.  And yet.  As can be expected, grudges are only excusable for the right reasons and right people.  So many revealing statements, so little time.  

The Pro Life Inquisition

Is on display.  Torture is bad.  Got it.  I was shocked at how many conservatives jumped on board that bandwagon.  I understood.  It was clear that many were more concerned with scoring points against Bush than protecting America, and I think in desperation and fear many embraced what they never would have embraced.  But desperation and fear make bad reasons for embracing moral stances.

The A-Bombs were bad.  Got it.  I don't know another way, given the knowledge we now have that suggests Japan's post-war take on events wasn't always the most accurate.  Apart from pacifism and 'just let'm die', don't know what we could have done.  But I've never imagined it was a wonderful thing to cheer about.

War is bad.  Of course.  Who wants war?  Though some of the bygone attitudes surrounding war: sacrifice, honor, loyalty, duty (words seldom used in modern discourse) are quite good.  And again, pacifism or war?

The death penalty is bad.  In that I wish there were no crimes that deserved it, yeah.  And I like mercy over execution.  But historically the Church has understood the need to protect the innocent in a fallen world.  Now that the Church is wanting to change, I can understand the debate.

Some, however, can't. So we have a reminder why the Catholic Church has the dubious distinction of being the only major world religion with its own official Inquisition.  As one who has been accused by the author of the piece of wanting to increase human slaughter, simply because I question the Church's reasoning for suddenly wishing to abolish the death penalty, I can understand a little better how some of those moments in Church history took place.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Is everything that the media has been wanting it to be.  Think on this.  Either we are victims of a vast, evil, white racist legal conspiracy.  Or we have a media that has, twice now in just the last couple years, attempted to destroy innocent (or at least somewhat innocent) individuals in order to advance agendas and destroy those who stand in the way.  And if cities and lives and livelihoods are destroyed?  So be it.  Either way, Ferguson has been everything that the media has worked diligently toward for endless months.  People willing to exploit and utilize race to advance agendas and grab a few electronic devices are willing to jump in and lend their support.

For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition...  The media man of the hour.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Merchants of Amsterdam

Is a darn fun game.  And semi-educational too.  I say semi-educational because in fairness, most educational games are just that, semi-educational.

The game has no dice.  It has a time tracker that moves through various years of the 17th century that mark certain events in the fortunes of Amsterdam, when that city was a center of trade and commerce.  In the rules, it gives a bullet point about what happened in that particular year to make it worthy of note.

The rest of the game is a strange combination of strategy and pure luck.  You open markets around the world, build warehouses in Amsterdam (noted for such building in its day), and speculate on the commodities market.  Through a bizarre combination of factoring and figuring, you can rake in the money or lose everything.  The one with the most money at the end wins.

As "historical" games go, it's somewhat light even when you think semi-educational.  But compared to most video games (computer games being another issue), it soars.  It got my kids to realize there was this place that occupies a footnote or a few sentences in most history books that really was, for quite a while, a major player in world events.

As for the game play, it's not easy.  Sometimes it goes fast, other times it drags.  Long term strategies work better than fly by the seat of your pants.  Figuring what to focus on - worldwide markets, warehouse building or commodities exchange - is one of the keys.  And the high point each round is the Auction, which includes a rather bizarre timer.  Who hits the timer first gets the purchase for the price the timer indicates.  That's where it's every man for himself. For the record, I came in 3rd last night.  My wife won, being the non-man in the room.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

American racism

A thought.  Is America a Racist Nation?  Yep.  That's because America inherited the racist justifications used to excuse the African slave trade and persecution of American Indians by the European imperialist powers.  Protestant England, Catholic Spain and Portugal, and yes, the Islamic world.  All had their own Racist Justifications for what they knew was wrong, but a justification for what they wanted.

The thing is, America is a young nation formed in the midst of this.  Those cultures and nations and kingdoms were already ancient by the time the Founding Fathers came together to make some sense of this mess.  The slavery and racism that America had on day one of its official existence was, of course, the gift given from England.  Not that England was unique.  But that's where it came from, and it was in their blood like persecuting opposition to gay marriage is in our blood today.

But when it was time, those cultures could simply dilute those racist excuses into the larger pool of their more ancient cultures, customs, traditions, values, and histories.  America as a nation couldn't.  Racism used in America to excuse African slavery and Indian persecution was there from day one.  There is nothing greater to swallow it up.

Of course that's not to say racism only exists in America.  Or that those other European nations don't still have traces of it in their blood.  But if England adopted flagrant racism to excuse the slave trade or stealing land from the native inhabitants, all of which it benefited from for almost 200 years, that was only a small part of its history that stretches back centuries upon centuries.  Same with Spain.  Or any of the Islamic states that had their own brand of 'they're just so close to animals' reasoning to justify the robust Arabic slave trade.

America?  Nope.  Our existence has had that from day one.  If we got rid of all traces of racism tomorrow, we would have to exist another 600 to 800 years without racism to have the same amount of overarching culture to swallow up the blight.  That we've come this far already, in only a matter of a dozen generations or so, is - to me at least - a point to celebrate.  Especially when we consider the fact that in such a short time, there are 15% of non-whites in the US Congress, vs. 4.2% non-whites in the much more ancient (and far less racist) British Parliament.  Put that in your clay pipe and smoke it.

Just saying.  Since this week is a week once reserved for, among other things, thanking God, being with family, celebrating our heritage; now it's a week to be reminded of white racists imperialists slaughtering godlike indigenous people in order to set up a holiday which is only good as a means for increasing Wall Street's bottom line.  I thought it was worth the reflection.

Because Global Warming causes everything

MSNBC, with its patron saint of science, Bill Nye the Science Guy, steps in to remind Buffalo that this is all because of Global Warming.  Bwa Ha Ha Ha!  Remember in the late 90s and early 00s, when winters were mild and summers were scorching?  Ah, that's when MMGW scientists had it easy.

For the record, what do I think?  I think this.  First, the climate changes.  Every time I look out the window and don't see glaciers and woolly mammoths, I'm reminded that the climate changes.

Second, I have no doubt that mankind's humankind's unbridled embrace of industrialization and technology has not always been great for the natural world.  Lesson learned?  Don't hand science/technology/industry a blank check and say 'here, we're sure this time there will be no problems!'  Of course, rethinking our current approach of science and technology to solve all problems might not be imprudent. After all, caring for the environment isn't a bad thing.

Third, I reject the idea that humans (the latest stage of primate evolution) are the only animals who are a festering malignant blight upon the world whose numbers need to be thinned to save the planet.

Fourth, I certainly reject the notion that America is the sole culprit that needs to be beaten down to size, and that the only way to save ourselves is to support socialists and liberals who need to put me in my place as they await their limousines and private jets.

Fifth, I'm curious why we assume warming has to be a bad thing.  It seems that if we played our cards right, it might mean longer growing seasons and larger tracts of land previously barren.  Who knows?  But who knows?

Sixth, I'm always and forever suspect when people pull variations of Archie Bunker's famous "Stifle it!' approach to dialogue, especially since the majority opinion and the Truth don't always go hand in hand.

Finally, the laughable changing and twisting terms and arguments should make any sensible person skeptical.  Not that scientists have to be experts at public communications.  But when they sound more convoluted in their reasoning and arguments than a bad used car salesman, I'm going to be hesitant when it comes to embracing the weeding out of people as the only way of saving the planet because of something we all have to believe because 'shut up or you're an idiot!'.

Watch Lorenzo's Oil

A prolife movie and then some.  Nick Nolte pulls off a respectable Italian accent, and the always solid Susan Sarandon does her usual excellent work.  It's a tear-jerker.  But it's inspiring.  It's also based on a true story. Alas, young Lorenzo died a few years ago.  But to see the affirmation of life, that life begets life, reminds us that had Lorenzo's parents gone the way of Oprahianity, they would have accepted things, focused on their own lives, and thousands of children would never have been helped by their heroic efforts.  Honorary medical degrees are not given out like nickels and dimes, but Mr. Odone more than earned it. True, it is not a miracle cure.  And I have no doubt that not all experienced the same benefits, as all medical cures tend to be.  What helps most does not always help all.  Nonetheless, as a film, it flies.  Like all great movies, there are many things that recommend it.  But the prolife message is at the top of the list.

BTW, it's worth noting that when he died, many news agencies seemed to want to focus on the shortcomings or failures, rather than the successes.  Whether it's because the emphasis on life is bothersome or we just tend to shy from successful heroes and prefer 'hero in the generic', I don't know.  But I noticed it and took note when it happened.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Arthur Rankin RIP

Arthur Ranking, Jr. has died.  He was 89.  What can one say about a person who helped to shape an entire world for young people of my generation?  Just this last Sunday, we settled in for our annual viewing of Rankin and Bass's The Hobbit.  It's still, IMHO, the best adaptation of any of Tolkien's works to date - Jackson's bloated attempts included.

But it was more than just Hobbits.  Rankin and Bass had their finger on that strange mixture of post-war Boomer culture and various cultural traditions and milestones.  Using varying mediums to convey stories, they brought a host of famous characters to life and defined how an entire generation visualized at least the secular spin on the Christmas holidays. 

For my part, aside from The Hobbit, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Little Drummer Boy.  Others need no introduction.  Rudolph kicked off the whole Christmas Specials for Kids genre, and became one of many specials around which kids my age centered their calendars on the long march leading up to that day of days.  

Anyway, a big thank you for all the memories, the good times and the great stories.  

More atmosphere in a couple minutes than Jackson has managed in over 15 hours of state of the art film making.

Monday, November 17, 2014

On a more serious note

A reminder that the Modern Left is about crushing freedoms and liberties and eradicating wrong-think.  To that end, I applaud all who aren't stupid enough to try to find compromise with a movement that would seek to destroy all that most sensible people should hold dear.

One of the nice things about traveling

Is the food you get to experience.  Finances being what they are, the one thing I miss is traveling.  I can take everything else, but in our day we did quite a bit of traveling.  Some of it was ministry related.  Often personal.  But we made some pretty good dents in the map in years gone by.  Not so much the last few years.  But we've still had our chances to go hither and yon, if not on a limited basis.

Not great for the culinary experiences we used to enjoy, but you can still touch base with old favorites.  One of ours is quite simply the best Irish Pub on this side of the Atlantic, known rather whimsically as The Irish Rover.  Even when not staying in Louisville, we will adjust our travels to make sure we stop there for a bite and a draught.  It's owned by a bona fide Irishman who routinely goes back to the old country to make sure his recipes are authentic and darn good.  It's not a bar made to look like a pub mind you.  You feel as if you've stepped back a generation or so and into a land of emerald greens half way around the world.

In my Doctoral days, I used to stop there every Wednesday at lunch for fish and chips and (psst, don't tell any Baptists) a glass of Harp.  A Presbyterian minister friend of mine sometimes joined me.  It was an 'everybody knows your name' time when my faith in my own denominational doctrines was being shaken, and my journey toward the Historic Faith was taking shape.

Anyway, we found an article in a Louisville publication that had some of the recipes, and we tried our hand at one of the Rover's more scrumptious offerings - Scotch Eggs (a traditional English dish named after Scotland and served in an Irish Pub).  I have to say, except for using mild rather than spicy sausage, the results were splendid.  My Mom called it the best thing she's eaten since she doesn't know when.  Perhaps we'll get her down there someday for the full options.

A perfectly poured Guinness, eyed playfully by our 'still too young' oldest. 

Before the meal, all eager with anticipation. 

Our little attempt at matching the greatness.  Not bad at all. 

Global Warming rocks!

Knowing that everything that happens in our world is the result of Global Warming, I have everyone whose existence is causing this phenomenon to thank for the awesome view outside our windows this morning

.  Though timing could have been better.  How about the weekend next time!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

It must be that time of year again

Retailers' new mascot? 
When unbridled consumerism and the lust for the acquisition of financial gain to the exclusion of any other consideration takes center stage.  Using the celebration of the Lord of Hosts born in the humble surroundings of a 1st century stable as the point of reference, we've now effectively moved to eliminate that other silly tradition of thanking God and being with family that stood in the way of increased time for increasing the Bottom Line.  I know, I know. It's what it is.  So were the Death Camps.  So was Slavery.  So were the Crusades.  A sorry excuse. 

Christians who do uphold the value of the Free Market and support the Capitalist approach are in a tough position.  One of the prime movers of godlessness, blasphemy, hedonism, narcissism, selfishness, debauchery, greed and apathy is the Market.  Look at the latest buxom beauty scantly dressed in order to sell a car or bottle of beer, and you can bet there's a corporate interest behind it.   Not some philosophical or religious or ideological movement.  Just the lust for profit at all costs.

I can say I won't shop at stores that are now opening on Thanksgiving, but I was never a blind fool who risked injury and death for the latest electronic gadget on Black Friday anyway.  So it doesn't mean much when I say I won't flip the bird to hapless low wage earners yanked from their families on Thanksgiving to appease the corporate interest.  It is, however, making me reevaluate my adherence to the acquisition of things as the patriotic duty of Americans.  It is also reminding me that even the best ideas developed by man, when filtered through a fallen world, mixed with sinful humanity, and given time, can end up serving the Darkness rather than the Light.  

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6.10

One of the reasons I keep going back to CAEI

TMLutas is a regular commenter.  In keeping with consistency, Mark Shea still opposes abortion and actual gay marriage.  Likewise, he opposes the recent attempts by the State to curtail the right to not support these things.  Most seem to agree, though some of his more liberal sympathetic readers come in to either defend the Leftist juggernaut, or at least to ponder if there is really any big deal.  Nonetheless, in typical awesome form, TMLutas comes in and says it straight.  For all its flaws, the religious peace that the Constitution established has lasted a good two hundred yeras or so.  Now we are in danger of seeing that peace shattered in the name of tolerance and diversity.  What will happen when it is ultimately ended?  Who knows?  But perhaps it's time to stop piddling around and act like this really is a grave assault on our first and most important right.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

When Jonah Goldberg is right

He's right.  Except I would say we don't really have to wait and see what will happen.  It's been promoted for generations, and while only recently has it become officially endorsed, our 'I'm my own God, thank you' approach to morality has been eating away at the foundations of Western Thought for more than a few years,  In fact, we're now at the stage where we have to adopt new ideas and excuses to rationalize this disaster and its disastrous results.  First up was, of course, the belief that Western Thought sucked anyway, so who cares?  I'll be interested in what excuses will come next.

The Gruber Chronicles keep on giving

When Slate is jumping on board, it's time to panic.  Though from a cynical perspective, this could simply be those Democrats who know full well that Obama is a disastrous president, and simply want to help pound the nails in the coffin to obtain some level of credibility with a population that obviously can't be fooled by media denial.  So far, the Democrats' official 'we never heard of the guy' is laughable, and even supporters aren't buying it.  Some of the damage control is turning on 'isn't this how this how it always is' version of 'everyone does it' that was so effective during the Clinton scandals.  We'll see.  But try as they might, the Media simply can't keep Obama from looking like the disastrous train wreck of a president that he is.  Nevertheless, it will be fun to watch them continue to try.

Friday, November 14, 2014

To compromise or not to compromise

Pope Francis may not be a liberal at all.  Certainly not based on American media definitions.  The world, believe it or not, is not divided between Red State and Blue State.  Trying to see Pope Francis through such lenses - one way or another - is likely an exercise in pointlessness at best.

Much of the speculation and flat out fist fights over the Real Pope Francis is due to the clear and obvious fact that Catholicism has changed quite a bit over the last century.  On almost every level, a Catholic dropped into the Church 200 years ago would be stunned by the differences.  Some are necessary.  Electricity happens.  So does indoor plumbing.  Some accepted sins and problems are dealt with.

But changing to fit with the times can be like eating peanuts.  Once you start, you just can't stop. Ask any one of a hundred variations on Protestantism in our world today.  Some are barely Christian, if at all.  So as the Catholic Church struggles to find a middle ground between the Modern Way and the Traditional Christian Way, it has created not a few reactions from various groups and individuals.

Some are mighty unhappy, and have been for some time.  Others are more than thrilled.  Some are OK, but want more change and accommodation.  Others seem to be overly defensive, as if they can't bring themselves to admit what is patently obvious.  

In any event, I stumbled across an interesting article yesterday.  It's from a member of the Orthodox Church.  As insulting as this is to some Protestant denominations who fancy themselves as modern incarnations of the first century church, and as shocking as it might be for Catholics who imagine otherwise, the Church closest to the most ancient approach we have to living Christianity is the Orthodox.  As a history professor I had once said, if you want a Church that hasn't changed much in 1500 years, you could do worse than going to an Orthodox church.

Not to say the Orthodox aren't without their skeletons, or their modern splits.  Some appear to be following the ways of the post-Christian Left just like Catholics and Protestants.  Still, they can only do what others who want to follow the Modern Way do and reject outright the teachings of their faith and demand change.  But for a Church that smells, sounds and acts like its forefathers centuries ago (with the possible exceptions of electricity and indoor plumbing), there seems to be a willingness on those resisting the Change to do so outright, without need to find some middle ground.

Hence this little article.  Pretty straight forward. As I've said, it should be obvious to any but the most weak minded or willing minded that there is no compromise with this new revolutionary heresy.  What this fellow might be saying is that we should never have assumed there was in the first place.

John C. Wright posts on the Gruber revelations

He defers to the source from which he was made aware of the story. CNN has covered it.  FOX natch.  I've not heard much about it in other outlets, most of whom are focusing on Ferguson.  Some, such as ABC, appear to be running it on their internet pages. Print media seems to not know what to do.  Most are covering it at face value, but you can almost sense the desperate search for a narrative obeying spin.  Right now, it looks like reporting as is and we can, of course, count on some to shoot straight between the eyes.

Jonathan Gruber spills the beans

I would be more skeptical of a FOX News take, if I hadn't heard it on CNN.  Yeah, it's that bad.  And when Jay Carney was asked on CNN if the deceit and lies that Gruber lauds were deliberate, it's noteworthy that he didn't deny they were on purpose. Of course expect no outrage.  If we are a nation of scaredy-cats on one side, that is balanced by the fact that on the other side is a segment of the population that confuses laziness and apathy with virtue.  We have our apps.  We have Netflix.  It probably won't impact me anyway.  America sucks.  Evil happens.  Move on.  Nothing to see here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fast times at Louisville

Can be demonstrated by the joy my boys had in visiting a local water treatment plant.  When my wife and I first moved to Louisville to attend seminary, we used to walk down some railroad tracks to the facility, where a walking track circled the water.  This wasn't some stinky, sewer styled place.  This was built like some Gothic fantasy, and the water looked almost clean enough to drink.  Almost.  

They had fun running around, listening to Mom and Dad regale them about days long gone, and made sure we stopped with water bottles to get water from a spigot outside that they were sure was processed water from the plant.  

Looking like they're posing for an album cover, this was actually taken while they were getting ready for the pic

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Unbelievably stupid

Just stupid. People already camping out in shifts, awaiting the all important Black Friday deals. Sure, it's just a couple people.  But wait.  In a couple years, it will be multitudes and it will start some time in September.  At least if our enlightened generation doesn't disappoint. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On Veterans Day

From a time when we could thank our veterans for something, instead of reducing ourselves to thanking them for nothing. And in so doing, the true worth of freedom is being forgotten. Thanks to those who gave the last full measure of devotion for we who too quickly forget.  Perhaps it's because there are so few of us left who can trace the full tragedy of loss for what we are so flippant in saying is no big deal to lose.

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

That's all for today. Just the thanks to those who served and died.

*This was a reprint from a previous Veterans day that, sadly, still applies.  I added only a little.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Back from Vacation

Lot's of fun.  Have been gone for a few days.  Will get back to things sometime this week.  Much to think about.  Go Bucks!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Attention Republicans

Now do something.  Not something stupid.  And not something stupid like throwing your best hope under the bus.  And not something stupid like pandering to the small minority of Republican establishment types who prize wealth and wealth more than anything.  Reach out to a hurting country.  Know that you have a very hostile media and popular culture industry, and that the things many want you to stand for have been defined as vile and ignorant on a good day.  Deal with it and make those who want you to win proud. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A note to Catholics

Get over it.  Fact is, from the Reformation and before, the Church was more than willing to send to their deaths those who ran afoul of the Church and its authority.  Yes, tales of the Church running amok, butchering millions of helpless doctors and scientists and any thinking person because the Church opposed smart people is an exaggeration.

Nonetheless, the atmosphere out of which the Protestant Reformation was born was one where the Church was increasingly comfortable turning to the burning stake or other similar approaches for dealing with trouble makers.  Even such notable and celebrated Saints as Thomas More chose to send Protestant dissenters to a horrifying, torturous death.

Oddly, had the Church not responded with such heavy handed and purposely deceitful tactics in its dealing with Luther, the Reformation may not have taken hold.  As it was, Luther, for all his own foibles, couldn't' help but look the sympathetic figure against a Church that was increasingly seen as corrupt and wicked on a good day by a growing segment of European Culture.  The fact that nobody doubts the Church wouldn't have done to Luther what it did to Huss in earlier times, only solidifies the sympathy most had for Luther's cause.

Yes, Protestants would also return the favor.  And the acts committed by both Protestants and Catholics and others during that period that began long before Luther was born, has left Jesus with no small number of black eyes.

So while it's always noteworthy when we might have discovered something new, or added a piece to history, remember: in our post-Christian world, most only hear this as proof that those Christians were just as murderous as everyone says they were.  Many today don't separate between the Catholic and the Protestant.  The simply blame the Faith.  And since plenty of blood can be found on the hands of both sides, it does little good to try to act as if one side was the innocent victim, and the other the villain.  It's enough to say it happened, without trying to suggest some strange fluke by one side in an otherwise beautiful period of peace and tolerance.  That's when it gets embarrassing.

Lying is bad

So we heard.  Again and again and again and again, ever since the Great Lila Rose disaster that swept the Catholic Blogosphere a few years ago.  Of course we also got a dose of Catholic legalism then, when we learned there is a massive difference between lying and dishonesty, in which some argued you could be the most dishonest person in the world, weaving entire tapestries of falsehoods and deceit, as long as you didn't technically lie.  Pharisee anyone?

But on the real level of reality, the emphasis was on not lying, not being dishonest, condemning the idea that lies and falsehoods could ever be good for anything.  The Gospel?  Falsehoods and deceit?  Not compatible.  OK.  Fine.

So now it turns out Sir. Elton John hearts Pope Francis.  Like most of the followers of the Post Modern Way, Sir John loves the Pope. He loves him because, like most who only recently hated the popes and the Church, they think Francis is all about trashing this laughable old religion to conform to the Post-Modern Way.  Especially when it comes to the Ultimate Question of Gay Marriage.

This brought out a certain reaction by some, who pointed out that the reasons Sir John hearts Francis is based upon falsehoods and false assumptions. This, in turn, brought the wrath of The Shea, who found some off the wall loony statements and suggested anyone not celebrating Sir John's step toward conversion was in the same boat as the loonies.

While some were hesitant, most jumped in to say that anything that bridges gaps with the unbeliever, and any positive response, was therefore good.  Even if it's not true, or the assumptions are false, it matters not.  Positive is positive.  That's all that matters.

Suddenly, in stepped the legendary Zippy Catholic.  Mr. Zippy came to our aid once, so I have no heavy criticism there.  Certainly an intelligent person, though the alias makes it tough to figure out anything about his assumptions or the framework from which he operates.  Still, he is learned and does a good job conveying his ideas.  Especially when it comes to this, the reminder that shrugging shoulders about falsehoods and deception is not good.  It never is good.  If we remember.  If we believe the Catholic blogosphere.

So we have a dose of consistency.   Something that can often be lost where amateurs are concerned.  And in much of the Catholic apologetics world, amateurs are the professionals of the vocation.

Updated Note: It looks like more have jumped into the post and questioned some of the statements and approaches, including the indisputable claim that everything about Francis is beautiful and praiseworthy, and that it matters not how it's done, as long as people who hated the Church now love Francis at least.  Good to see.

And today is All Souls Day

The three part celebrations conclude today. They started with Halloween.  No matter what it's actual origins, Halloween is a time to acknowledge the supernatural and the hellish.  A reminder that not only do we return to ashes, but there is, for many non-Modernists, a chance to go to furnaces as well.

Yesterday countered that, a celebration of saints.  For Catholics, saints are simply those individuals upon whom the Church puts its seal of approval.  These are people the Church says 'by everything we believe, that person is now in the presence of the Holy One.'  There could very well be zillions more, it's just that the ones called Saint are recognized by the Church to have done what is evidence of heavenly existence.  A reminder that for all the powers of darkness and hell, God's grace is available, and greater.

Today is All Souls.  Fittingly, it's the day we remember the ones who have gone before.  Like my family members, my Dad, anyone I know and love.  We remember them and pray for them.  For in the Catholic tradition, the idea of Purgatory exists more explicitly than anywhere else.  Almost all Christian traditions acknowledge that between our sinful selves and our standing before the Holy One for eternity, we must be somehow made holy.  See Isaiah's vision of God's throne room for a good example.

Still, Catholics - as Catholics do - unpack and expand that to a full blown doctrinal reality.  Complete times and ways to avoid it, prayers are given for those who die because it's assumed most people must spend a bit of time there, and an unpleasant time it is.  So today is a day we focus on that.  Like all Saint or Holy days, it's assumed that devout Catholics do anyway throughout the year.   Just as we'd like to think that Americans are patriotic on more days than July 4, or that consumers spend money frivolously on more days than the shopping days before Christmas.

Still, like the other celebrations, this is a day to zero in that focus and think especially on them.  So Dad, I'm thinking of you and praying for you.  To be brutally honest, purgatory is one of those Catholic distinctives I'm sort of 'meh' over.  The Church says it, I acknowledge that most believe something happens, but no matter what, I pray for you.  Pray that you are in the presence of God, pray that if there is any purging needed, it will be a fast purge, and pray that you are blessed and can stand before God and lift your prayers and petitions on our behalf, and do so soon.

Including our youngest (not pictured here because he wasn't born yet), we miss you. 

A fun romp for All Saints Day

Or better, for Halloween. Especially since the day itself was a miserable, rain soaked and freezing night.  The third rainy Halloween in a row.  To bad this wasn't on.  But we caught it tonight.  Something about the proximity to All Souls and Halloween works.  And you can never have enough Poe.  A reminder of entertainment from yesteryear.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Speaking of Traditional Catholic days

Today was All Saint's Day.  In a way that sounds very Catholic, this was the day that we remember every other saint we can't account for in terms of a special Saint Day through the year.  All Hallow's Day, hence All Hallow's Eve last night.  Halloween that is.  Again, the always useful and traditional Fish Eaters throws a nod out with an appropriate reading from a time when the Catholic calendar and the worldly one were oh, so closer in kind than today.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A more traditional Catholic take on Halloween

Can be enjoyed here. Fun stuff.  And a reminder that there was a time when the annual festivities were all filtered through customs associated with the Christian faith.  Rather than the Christian faith rebelling against or simply accommodating what the World happens to be doing at the moment.  Bonus features are some links to some awesomely seasonal poetry and short stories.  And anything that features a nod to Riley has to be worth investigating.  So please, enter a Catholic take on our little festivities today, and remember, the Gobble'uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!

Censoring comments is not the way to defend Pope Francis

Just saying.  For those who insist that the world and media are wrong, and that Francis isn't some rampaging liberal laying the seeds for future compromise with modernity, the growing defense trend is that Francis's comments must constantly be chalked up to misunderstandings.  Deliberate or otherwise.  Of course that's possible.  It is the media after all.  There's an agenda there, and we all know now that only a fool takes the press's take on things at face value.

Still, the one person that doesn't seem to know this is Pope Francis.  And time and again, his statements that to a word seem to be misinterpreted to reflect a modern liberal outlook, all must be dismissed as part of a vast anti-Francis conspiracy, or perhaps even Francis imitating Jesus by speaking in parables and vague ways to hide truths from all but the worthy on the Catholic blogosphere.

In any event, whether part of the grand scheme of Francis to lead all back to the Truth, or part of a vast conspiracy, or even that Francis is a typically left leaning product of S. American society, the fact remains it's been a topic of conversation for months.  Fine.  But every time a comment is deleted, at least as far as I see, it validates those who smell a rat.  Since deleting, while it can be (and often is) excused as sheer disgust at horrible comments, more often than not looks like someone trying to hide something.  And that doesn't bode well in a delicate situation like this.

Where are the posts?

As can be seen, blogging hasn't been a consistent thing here at Daffey Thoughts.  Life and all.  As I've said, I began this a century ago, when several parishes were inviting me to speak, and priests suggested I write, and this and that and so on and so on and scooby dooby doo.

Well that was years ago.  Since then our family has been through it.  We're still hanging on by a thread, and for some reason, the Church has more or less shut us - or at least me - out.  Suddenly my services stopped being considered, and as I became more direct in trying to find my niche in the Church as a former Protestant minister, it seems I'm in even less demand.

Recently, after a series of talks and meetings, I was pointed to the man in charge of vocations in our diocese.  He seemed cautiously optimistic that we might be able to find something for me.  He said there were other individuals with far more baggage than I have that they've worked with.  So he was to meet with the Bishop and bring my case to the powers that be.  That was a few weeks ago, and I'm awaiting news on that front.

But since that particular part of my life is in stall formation, and the rest of our lives have been a series of upheavals and near misses, it's taken away the time to do things like blog regularly. Not to mention other staples of the old Griffey Family.  And to be honest, if I'm going to be shut out and my ministry days ended, keeping up with a blog even remotely associated with conveying thoughts and kicking things about ceases to be on even the top 1000 list of things to do.

Nonetheless, I remain cautiously optimistic.  Despite reasons to be skeptical of any future resolution, I'm still holding out.  So I come today for my annual Halloween post.  OK, it's a cheap cop-out, like those old cartoons that were simply rehashing earlier cartoons, or those best-of shows that just looked at old scenes from earlier shows.  The following are some posts from former years, both with the boys and thoughts on the season in general.  Feel free to enjoy the day and have a Happy Halloween.

Some posts that every person should read are here, here, here, here, and here.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Where is the outcry?

My sons pointed this out.  Where are the rallies?  The calls for gun control? Where is the media analysis about the Right, Conservatives, Gun Culture?  Where are the usual tropes and the typical politicians coming out and demanding action?  It's not just the numbers.  Some could argue that the numbers of victims are the reason.  But we need only think Ferguson.  Why?  Why are there no usual outcries and calls for justice?   I don't know.  But the coverage of this has definitely been different than the coverage of other high profile tragic shootings in recent months.

Bless the loved ones of those who died, the souls of all who died, and peace and strength to all who need it, just as all who suffered similar loss during this time that we don't know about.

The only thing that is news to me

Is that this is news to anyone.  The Secular Left, with its foothold in the national media, enjoys the crafted narrative that bigotry and prejudice are the domain of the Right of Center.  Thinking people who don't succumb to (or gleefully embrace for personal reasons) the propaganda of the Progressive Juggernaut, are not surprised.  Again, against the Secular Left there is no compromise.  You either conform and obey, or you're the enemy.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

When I read news stories about Catholicism

Like this, I am reminded that the attitudes of the post-Christian Left are basically summed up by this.  As Ross Douthat has pointed out, there is no compromise with the secular Left.  Every Western faith tradition that has tried has died in the process.  So as the Catholic Church bumbles and stumbles its way to find a compromise, just remember the other times in history when the Church adopted the attitudes and ideals of the surrounding, non-Christian age.  The results, I'm afraid, were seldom good.

When Catholics are too closely conformed to the spirit of their age, any age, the Gospel is compromised.    Francis Cardinal George.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pope calls to end life sentences?

Catholics pining for an end to the death penalty have put almost all eggs in the 'life sentence' basket.  That's because we're not prepared to say 'just let the criminal go, and if he kills, we'll try again.'  That was common among the liberal attitudes of the 70s, because the idea was that there were not criminals, only victims of cruel and unjust, oppressive societies.  And those who were part of those unjust societies?  Well, it was never said, but I always got the impression that there was a sort of 'serves them right' attitude whenever an innocent was killed by a released prisoner for whom rehab hadn't taken hold.

The Death Penalty, in the end, is part of the realization the Church had ages ago that we not only live in a fallen world, but are called to be in the fallen world.  Unlike the Amish or monastic communities, most are called to be in this fallen world a light to the world.  Salt of the earth and all.  Because of this, our heavenward focus had to be tempered with concessions to living in light of the way it is.

Hence, Just War.  Hence, the Death Penalty.  Hence putting an end to that idealized Church of Acts 2, where all share and none are in need.  Some Catholics will have millions.  Some will starve.  And like the Death Penalty and Just War, this was simply a fact of life.  We could try to do it in light of endless layers of Christian teaching.  But we had to accept the realities.

Now we have the Church, in light of endless assaults by the post-Christian Left, and to be fair, some left over barbs from Protestants and non-Catholic Christians, trying to revise its old teachings to conform to the expectations of the post-modern world.  Just War is almost - almost mind you - a thing of the past.  Likewise, the  Death Penalty has been under assault for decades.

But now Pope Francis throws in the gauntlet against not just executing prisoners, but imprisoning them for life.  In fairness, advocates of the Death Penalty have used this very argument.  How is imprisoning a person for life, with no hope of escape but death, any different than executing them?  For Catholic legalists, of course, there is a world of difference.  In that particular branch of the Church, you can indirectly cause the death of millions, as long as you don't directly cause the death of one guilty person to save them.

But for most, that's not the way it should be.  Something about throwing someone into prison for life isn't much better than executing them.  Assuming the generally implicit universalism in the modern Church, there is no concern for saving the prisoner's soul. So no real reason to execute, and yet how to validate keeping them in prison for life?

Enter Pope Francis.  Not just do we ban the Death Penatly, but we ban life sentences, too.  Which is, in fairness, consistent.  But it opens up a problem.  Are we advocating the old liberal notion that if a person kills again, we'll just try again?  We have loved Bonnie and Clyde, but have hated Ozzie and Harriet?

And if not, how do we reconcile the radical discipleship that says 'if the innocent be like to die, then so be it, we'll just try again', with a Church that still allows us the creature comforts and luxuries of commercialism and affluence while our fellows starve in the mud around the world.  That, to me, is the challenge.

For if the Church builds a radical discipleship on 'by the degree to which I'm willing to let others die so I can live in comfort have I displayed my righteousness', then I can't help but think we're entering into a new period of history destined to once more give Jesus a couple black eyes and take the Gospel, yet again, down a notch or two in the eyes of the world.

The good news is that Pope Francis may be pushing for a completely radical discipleship that will soon challenge the non-Acts 2 approach of living out the faith in addition to such favorites as capital punishment and Just War.  Whether Catholics will hear all of it, or just the portions that help them win arguments on the blogosphere, has yet to be seen.