Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Star Wars Holiday Special

One of the greatest cinematic disappointments in my life until the Phantom Menace.  I remember it well.  Here's a pretty lengthy piece tracing the steps.  Funny how so much of it was built around keeping interest in the franchise when I remember theaters still showing Star Wars a year later.  As I've said elsewhere, the interest easily went beyond the release of Empire Strikes Back.  Still, I wasn't on the business side, and I'm sure they had facts and figures that necessitated this pile of garbage.  And if it weren't for Phantom Menace and later contributions to the franchise that have Lucas's stamp of approval, I'd be more inclined to believe his tale of non-involvement.

Friday, May 30, 2014

When I say my ministry days are behind me

I mean it.  So I was informed of a position not too long ago in another diocese.  Since our own diocese has all but shut the door on me for good, I thought perhaps - just perhaps - moving out would be the open door I've been praying for.  Even though I grumble about tossing my library in the can and turning away and never returning, there's always that tug, that yearning for those crazy, hazy days of Christian ministry.  They were rough, as all ministry is.  But they were rewarding beyond measure.  And I miss that.

So hoping that the shutout was more a regional thing, I expanded my radius and sent my resume and cover letter.  It was great.  One of the best I've ever written.  I had proof readers working overtime.  The reason?  It was a position made for me: someone with knowledge of Protestantism, especially Evangelicals, a Masters of Divinity minimum, experience in Christian ministry, theological background, knowledge of Church History, and a commitment to the Catholic Faith.  Oh, and website experience would be a plus.

I submitted my resume and prayed.  The next day I checked our emails and there it was!  A rejection email.  The candidates had already been narrowed down and the final interviews in place.  The door had been shut weeks earlier (though it had only been posted weeks earlier, so not sure what that meant).

Well, I tried to object, but was politely, yet firmly, told to cease pestering them, the decision was made.  So I decided to look up and see just who it was that got this position.  And who was it?  Well, he did have a PhD from a Catholic university in Ecumenical relations.  And he had struggled with his faith in college.  But he was and always had been Catholic.  His knowledge of Protestantism?  What he had studied, and the Protestant friends he had.  But what he really was?  A Catholic with experience working with Facebook.

And that has been a trend I've noticed.  Not in all cases.  I've been shut out of chaplaincy positions just as quickly.  I've actually received rejection emails the same day I applied, even when I was overwhelmingly qualified.  No, in many 'ministry' positions I've noticed the real emphasis is on Tech.  Website design, digital, electronic communications.  Actual knowledge of theology, biblical studies, Church history, is increasingly irrelevant.  Certainly when the request is for someone who knows something about Protestantism, and a Catholic with protestant friends is picked over a former Protestant minister with over a decade and a half of Protestant ministry experience, I'd dare say it's time to rethink any real future as a minister within the Church.
As I've said before, this is not Scott Hahn's conversion story.  Increasingly, I'm coming to realize that from the Church's POV, the fact that I was a minister, had training or education, was a Protestant, came damn close to bankruptcy and ruin in order to become Catholic is about as irrelevant as the market trends for butter churns.  And that hurts, though there really isn't anyone to tell it to that can - or worse, will - make a difference anyway.  Just thought I'd throw that out.  Best of luck to the fellow who got the position.  Maybe he'll learn to appreciate those separated brethren in new ways, and through it, some might come to learn about the Church.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My comment on Mark Shea's blog regarding Gun Control

I'm sure the comments are dwindling, but here's my three cents. First, solutions.  

Gun control.  Exactly what would such measures accomplish?  I"m OK with looking at ideas, but they should actually work.  Would various ideas proposed really stop, or at least limit, these things?  Remember, like plane crashes, the number of mass shootings for a nation our size with our population is actually rather small.  And most, despite recent news stories and the last few years, were accomplished with normal guns/handguns.  Most of which were legally purchased.  And it appears that many, when the dust settles, wouldn't have been stopped by the proposals that come out in their wake.  How exactly would such proposals stop these particular tragedies is a question worth answering before plowing forward.  

Smart guns?  Sure.  Why not.  Inventions.  Just don't let the government mandate them, certainly until we're sure they won't hurt lawful gun owners or innocent people.  I think that's a fair and sensible demand.  And if deep down someone doesn't really care because deep down they have a problem with guns and those who own them, then there you go. 

Mental health?  Yeah, let's look there as well.  From the 50s on, we've put a premium on protecting mental health illness from abusive treatment.  The payback has been there is little to do when someone has mental health issues and doesn't want to  be treated beyond how they want to be treated.  How many of the recent mass killings have been by people actively seeking therapy?  What's that even mean?  What's it say? What exactly can we do that might reduce these things without stampeding those suffering from mental illness? That's certainly worth looking at. 

It's not all about mass killings.  Gun violence is bolstered by stats including suicides (that most gun law proposals would not touch), and of course drug and gang and crime on crime stats.  We won't even get into the disproportionate level of gun violence within minority communities, primarily within the inner cities. The crimes of passion or some guy getting pissed and killing someone over a potato chip make up a small portion of such crimes in proportion to our population.  If we want to get serious about it, we'll get serious about it.  Or not.  

We're not New Zealand, or England, or China, or any other beautiful country that exceeds the perfection of the New Jerusalem.  For better or worse, we are a major super sized nation, with a very large, and very diverse population in the cross-hairs of international mega events, with a premium on freedom.  Freedom, by the way, that we were authoritatively told for ten f**king years should never be compromised, even in response to a tragic event like 9/11.  We can change that of course.  But if 9/11 wasn't enough to warrant change in our principles regarding freedom, liberty and rights, then why now?  Maybe it's me, but shifts like that always always get my attention. 

Admit there are extremes and ulterior motives on both sides (if not all sides) of the debate.  That's obvious and common sense.  I doubt any side is cleansed from all potential for sin.  Admitting that helps put at ease those who want to solve the problem, but get the funny feeling not everyone is in it for the right reasons.  And, of course, it's always true when dealing with anything.  

It's the society stupid.  Yes, I'm afraid that if we get real brave and grow a couple, we'll admit that a large part of the problem is the society we've built.  As fun as it is to insist the problems are always "Their" fault, if we really want to solve the problems we'd step back and admit there are parts of our culture today that we indulge in that are likely as much to blame as any part of the culture "they" indulge in. Are we brave enough (and dare I say, humble enough) to admit that? Or worse, actually do something about that?  Remains to be seen. 

Those are a few thoughts.  We won't get into Joe the plumber, or the media rallying around a grieving father to the exclusion of those whose grief doesn't fit the agenda.  Again, this is if we want to try to solve the problems, If we just want to advance agendas, score points, win one for the team, then I doubt we'll do much but accomplish nothing, which seems the one accomplishment our modern generation of adults is particularly adept at.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pummeled on the Catholic Blogosphere

I'm about to get skinned over at CAEI.  Mark posted a hit piece on "Joe the Plumber" who echoed critics of our response to 9/11 by saying that dead kids don't trump his rights.  Of course that was an oft repeated mantra following 9/11, and in honesty, there's something to be said about it.  Losing freedom and doing anything in the wake of a tragedy, no matter how horrible, is never acceptable.  Now, of course, it looks like the prudent approach, at least in terms of gun control.  Anyway, it isn't going to be pleasant.  Here I go!

Congrats to our Grad!

And a week later, on the 24th, our oldest *sniff* graduated from high school.  We attached to a home school family that could personally change the shape of the continents if they set their mind to it, and put together quite a graduation ceremony for local home school grads.  It was quite an event.  Speaker and everything.  I'll get into that, too, down the road.  But for now, some obligatory pictures from our oldest, who is the most awesome oldest kid a person could hope for.  You did us proud son!

He makes us proud

Proud parents with reason to be proud

Congrats to my Confirmandi

Last Saturday - the 17th of May - our eighth grader was confirmed.  Hurray!  More on this down the road.  I just wanted to post a couple of his pictures, one with the brothers, and one with his sponsor (our oldest - we were proud) and our next oldest who was called on to serve (just like his younger brother served for his confirmation last year).  Proud of you!

With sponsor brother, assisting brother, and of course Bishop Campbell
(I don't know what he said, but he got a laugh out of the bishop)

The boys

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A full rich week

It's been a busy, busy, busy week.  Last week was our Eighth Grader's Confirmation, and yesterday our Oldest Graduated.  I'll post more on those when we have time. Family was in, plus the medical issues and concerns and visits, have put us behind.  Right now, a kudos to our veterans.  When I think of what we've done to our country, and how we're prepared to let it sink into the sea rather than fight to preserve what they sacrificed for, I'm at times almost ashamed.  Nonetheless, I'm thankful to them.  We're not worthy of them, but nonetheless, a big thanks.  From those who fought centuries ago to establish this new ideal, to those still fighting for a nation that would rather Tweet and play their smartphones, it is appreciated. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

My boys nail it

In reflecting on their reaction to JAWS vs. other recent movies they've watched, plus their reactions to other older movies, they concluded something that I think hit the nail on the head.
Movies today look real but are fake, movies back then looked fake, but were real.  
And then they followed up with this observation:
We're wimps today.  We have more violence and gory death, but's just violence and gory death.  We couldn't handle a movie made like that (or other older films) dealing with things realistically. 
I'm thinking they're onto something.

You know your life sucks

When you receive an email from a reader saying they can't keep coming by your blog, it's too depressing.  Not because of the focus on this or that issue, but because of the family updates and prayer requests and the constant stream of one thing after another we keep getting hit with.   Hopefully the good reader will return.  I appreciate that and any emails I get (though commenting on the actual posts is allowed you know!).  Still, had to think of the truth behind that observation given the string of issues we've been hit with.  You think reading about our life's problems is tough, try living them.  See my opinions of these recent events here.

This being the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I

A nice series of pictures from the front of that awful war to end all wars.  Of course it wasn't, and there's a good chance we'll see more in the years to come.  But to begin the remembrances, a nice slide of the living hell that was the Western Front.   

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Speaking of the end of freedom

Zippy Catholic, who apparently is back from a hiatus, points out the obvious.  The old liberal promise of a society without rules where everyone can be free to define reality the way we want notwithstanding, no society is free.  You simply have societies that believe in different absolutes, and have every intention of drawing some line in the sand and warning anyone who dares cross it to stay put or else.  In fact that is one area that Conservatives have over Liberals.  At no point did a Conservative ever promise a society of 'if it feels good, it's reality'.  That would be the liberals.  The ones who are now chiseling away at any notion of freedom from an imagined point of view, or even a classic Christian point of view.

Gas prices have been rising

Just thought I'd throw that out there.  If you're waiting for the same media stampede that happened back when gas prices went up during the Bush administration, don't hold your breath.  All pretense of objectivity has long gone the way of the   Hence I had to dig a while before I found this article that dares to mention the bleeding obvious.  And it's USA Today!  That's right, McPaper.  And that's where I find a story about the ongoing rise that has been happening.  Most of the rest of the media is busy covering Obama's buster brown, and is falling on any diversion possible to keep attention away from our President's ineptitude and incompetent lack of leadership.  So because rising gas prices might make him look bad, it's better that Americans suffer than let the cat out of the bad and admit what historians of the future will know: that we have one lousy leader in the White House.

Mark Cuban needs punished

And punished now! The man has spoken his mind, and worse has admitted to what he thinks is true.  Unless there is some rant in which he calls for lynchings and a return to death camps, I'm not seeing it.  But this is the 21st  century, post-modern child of the liberal lie.  We're becoming the very nation liberalism once promised to save us from.  Discussing the merits of Communism in the 1950s?  You think that's tough huh.  Well try giving an opinion about anything that runs afoul of the always unseen magistrate of PC thought that promises freedom below the waistline and tyranny over everything else.

I have to admit

That even though I know it's not good theology, it's still how we feel:

Prayer request update

My wife went to the doctor's last night and, in keeping with the typical trend, found out nothing but that it could be really bad, or just bad, or maybe not bad at all, and we'll have to wait to find out.  They did a biopsy (never something you like to hear), and the tests should be back in about a week.  Prayerfully there will be nothing terribly serious there.  Even so, surgery might be needed.  In fact, we've been told it will be needed, the only question is when.  How this will play with her new job, which I was almost ready to sing praises about, I don't know.  Truth be told, I've not had time to post about her new job since upon hearing about it, first my Mom and now my Wife have been hit with a series of health issues that have thrown everything - including homeschool - into the wings.  See my thoughts on how I feel at this point here.

Nonetheless, continued prayers.  Pray that it's not the obviously worse case scenario, pray that surgery will not be needed for a while, pray that  God grant us even a week of peace and happiness.  We won't be able to go through our boys' graduation and confirmation without these things pressing on us.  Sadly, that is no longer an option.  But if, at the end of it all, things might just work out reasonably well, and that we might even squeeze a week without the next round of hits coming at us, at this point after all these years is to us a prayer for a billion dollars and world power.  We'll take it, and appreciate it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Prayer requests

My wife must go tomorrow and find out the results of some tests she had at the doctor.  She's been having some medical issues, things more at home being discussed among women.  Hopefully nothing serious, though there is always the possibility of the most serious of all. So prayers for her health.

Also for my Mom, who fell and dislocated her shoulder and has since been hit with a case of vertigo, which is actually a serious ailment.  This during the week between my eighth grader's Confirmation and my oldest's graduation.

Any prayers and all prayers would be appreciated.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Catholic schools in Oakland outrage critics

By wanting to be more Catholic.  It's a running joke that if you want to get a great education, go to a Catholic School.  If you want to learn about Catholicism, go anywhere else.  In recent years, some areas have been trying to put the brakes on that trend.  Especially centering around the LGBT issue, since that issue is the one being used by the post-Christian Left to bludgeon freedom and liberty.  So the Diocese of Oakland has sparked outrage - and dare I say, exposed some issues - by expecting its staffers to live up to certain expectations.  Like not living lives and promoting values that fly in the face of the Catholic Faith.

Naturally the East Bay Express zeroes in on a heroic program director who has refused to sign off on the new standards.  We all love a rebel in our hip post-modern world, don't we.  Well no.  Imagine the same director bucking a public school order to open up to and celebrate the LGBT lifestyle.  Would the same treatment be given?  There's no way of knowing.  But I sure have a hunch.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Looking at Pope Francis

In a balanced way is not easy.  On one hand you have those who have reduced the man to spawn of Satan, Second Class.  On the other you have those never said he was stop saying he does anything wrong and call him Awesome!   Into the usual chorus of noise, Fr. Longenecker brings a sane and honest opinion.  Pope Francis is a great guy, but it takes more than that to be a great pope.  His 'off the cuff, say and do whatever, no rules just awesome' style might well be setting up his papacy for a fall.  You can't keep saying things that need reinterpreted and explained over and over again before the world will begin to yawn and turn away from anything you say.  Fair enough.  Whether Pope Francis's papacy is a revolutionary step in a new direction or simply an excuse for a great portion of the world to wash its hands of the whole 'Catholic matters' thing remains to be seen.  Right now, I'm inclined to follow the idea that to be a great pope, Pope Francis may need to stop working so hard at being a great and awesome 21st century man.

The Devil you say

There was quite a lot of talk about the Black Mass that was going to be celebrated at Harvard.  Most of it was anywhere but the mainstream media.  For obvious reasons.  The media is always nervous about pointing to extremes of those perspectives it tends to support.  By focusing on the extremists in opposing camps, the media is able to paint a portrait in which the only zealots and radicals are, in fact, in those ideals against which the media are fighting.  So you probably didn't hear much of that in most major national publications and outlets, save for Fox News.  

Nonetheless, the sheer evilness and Nazi-like contempt of the action was picked up on by Catholics, who had a variety of responses.  Praying wasn't bad, and the special Mass done in answer to this showed once more that prayer and worship are always acceptable alternatives, even if they take place around abortion clinics.  Here Thomas McDonald has an interesting take on the whole series of events.  That's good enough for me, and I don't have much else to contribute.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

More movie musings

Here's something one of my boys brought up to compare movies then (when JAWS was released - see previous post) and movies now (from 2000 - 2010 at least).  The top movies of the year in the 1970s vs. those in the 2000s.  BTW, these are based on the receipts of about 10 years ago before Netflix and DVD may have skewed things for the older movies.  Some of those could have changed, and of course inflation as always.  So it's based on the number one films at the time.

Number 1 Movies from 2000 - 2010:
2000  Mission: Impossible II
2001  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
2002  Lord of the Rings: Two Towers
2003  Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
2004  Shrek 2
2005  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
2006  Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
2007  Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
2008  The Dark Knight
2009  Avatar
2010  Toy Story 3

Number 1 Movies from 1970 - 1980
1970  Love Story
1971  Fiddler on the Roof
1972  The Godfather
1973  The Exorcist
1974  The Towering Inferno
1975  Jaws
1976  Rocky
1977  Star Wars
1978  Grease
1979  Kramer vs. Kramer
1980 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Pretty telling.  And it might mean something when pondering my boy's reaction to Jaws.  It's worth noting that in 1981 it was Raiders of the Lost Ark, 82 E.T., 83 Return of the Jedi, 84 Ghostbusters, and 85 Back to the Future.  So there is clearly a trend from earlier.  By now the Summer Blockbuster was in full swing.  It seems to have died down some in the late 80s and early 90s, as movies not necessarily aimed at Summer Blockbuster teens found their way to the top (Rain Man for instance).  But on the whole, from the 70s on, the trend in what movies make the top of the list gets pretty predicable, and once you get to the 00s, there is a definite content similarity if you get right down to it.

The Reality of JAWS

"None of man's fantasies of evil can compare to the reality of Jaws."

That was the line that opened one of the TV commercials for JAWS in 1975.  It was the movie everyone was talking about.  There are famous movies, legendary movies and great movies.  And then there are those historic movies.  Not movies about history, but movies that made history.  Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, King Kong (33), Star Wars, the Ten Commandments, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Easy Rider, and of course JAWS.

At a time when many believed it would be endless years before the 100 million dollar mark was breached, when movies were aimed at general audiences, when realism was beginning to dominate and the R-Rating was allowing Hollywood to shatter taboos, a young Stephen Spielberg unleashed what many consider to be the greatest horror film of all time on an almost ill-prepared movie going audience.

Much has been written about the movie.  And next to Citizen Kane, few other movies have become as
known for the production as the finished product.  Everyone knows the mechanical shark didn't work.  State of the art for the day, salt water did it in, forcing Spielberg to adopt a more Hitchcockian approach to what would have been a 'monster shark eats people' disaster film of the mid-70s. Union problems, zoning problems, difficulties shooting on the ocean, cantankerous crew, bickering actors - Spielberg has said that for many months after the film's release, he would wake up in a cold sweat thinking he was still working on the set.

And yet, when it hit theaters in the summer of 1975: movie magic.  Hollywood realized there was a whole new way to package and market films.  The Summer Blockbuster, whose bastard children are still alive today, was born.  Spielberg became a superstar.  John William's iconic score went down as one of the greatest ever composed for a film.  One of the greatest monologues in movie history. Martha's Vineyard officially became a major tourist spot.  And in the summer of 1975, revenues for the beach industry took a sharp plunge.

And why not?  Even then it was recognized as better than your average horror thriller, garnering an Academy Award nomination (losing to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).  And though some criticized the lack of character development among some of the cast (though usually not the principle characters), today it looks like a Shakespearean drama by comparison.

Spielberg's insistence on filming on the high seas rather than a studio tank paid off, and the atmosphere and
the ocean become major players in the film.  Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and a young Richard Dreyfuss all give stellar and sympathetic performances.  Even though the movie relied on locals to round out much of the town's population, they actually pull their weight well.  And while the shark has gotten some ribbing over the years (sharks don't really have 'jaws'), when looked at as a model, it really isn't far off an actual Great White.  It was just the lack of information saturation that movie makers today would have that the model builders then weren't privy to.

Still, by the time the shark appears, it's lack of continual appearances keeps it menacing until the end.  The tension and stress of the movie keeps the audience alive, and just like other great films of the past - anything by Harryhausen, the original King Kong - most are able to mentally transfer the images and remember that this isn't really a shark, but it's a character in the movie.  Just like Shaw wasn't really a fisherman, or Dreyfuss a scientist, so the mechanical shark was an actor.  And what an actor it was.  Though modern CGI creatures have the benefit of unlimited access to any scholarship about any topic, and  of course the limitless bounds of CGI graphics, few have ever sustained the menace or the horror that 'Bruce' the shark managed off the coasts of Amity all those years ago.

Knowing the movie and its place in history and the quality of its production, it was inevitable that I'd want to see it with the boys.  Our oldest had seen it a couple years ago.  But our next two youngest hadn't seen it yet.  So last weekend, busy with Mothers Day and preparations for Confirmation this weekend and  Graduation next, we set aside any major plans, popped some corn and sat down to watch JAWS.  I was curious to see how my boys would react.  After all, in 1975, unless you were able to see Rated R movies, chances are you hadn't seen much in terms of blood and violence.  JAWS made some people leave the theaters because of the blood.  I remember my then teenage sister being utterly freaked out by the huge amounts of blood.  But this is 2014.  My boys grew up on a diet of PG-13 violence, and have actually seen some select rated R movies (or scenes from them, for instance battle scenes from Gladiator). Would this be old?  Would it be dated?  Would it be a bore?

When the movie was over, and Dreyfuss had tossed out his final quip, as the credits ran I looked and my eighth grader was literally clutching the arms of his chair.  My oldest, who had already seen it once, was shaking.  My ninth grader laid back as if exhausted.  So what did they think?  My soon to be confirmed eighth grader was first to speak, and he summed up something I've been think about since.  He said, "You got to like those guys.  You didn't want to see any of them killed.'   The others agreed.  Far from two dimensional fodder, you cared about them.  Almost half the movie was spent getting to know the main characters, and even though common sense said that at least one of them had to go, you didn't want it to be any of them.  But it wasn't just that.   It was intense.  How was it intense I asked.  Because it was, well, real.  They couldn't quite put their finger on it, but they said it wasn't just 'it was real because sharks are real.'  It was because the people didn't seem like today.

I pondered that and pressed on.  According to them, today many (not all, but many) characters are not overly sympathetic.  Bad guys are supposed to be bad and get what they have coming.  Good guys are good guys, usually because they represent PC values.  Characters aren't real.  They're like types.  They are either supposed to get what they have coming, or not.  And even though the gore and violence is more, it isn't the same.  They just couldn't but their finger on what made this 1975 movie so intense.

And yet, they've encountered that more than once.  Not that they don't enjoy movies and TV shows today,
but they have time and again admitted that, with few exceptions (Christopher Nolan being a consistent example), movies today lack something. They're not 'real.'  Yes, the acting quality in JAWS among the three leads is wonderful, and that helps.  But actors today are good.  Writers.  Directors.  What is it that so struck a nerve with my boys?  I'm not sure.  To quote Quint when asked if he'd seen a shark do this: I don't know.  But it's got me to thinking.  Thinking about the media pool in which our youngsters swim.  Maybe it's my boys.  Maybe others would just laugh and guffaw.  Maybe they would cheer whenever someone got taken down by the shark.  Part of me fears that might be true.  But I can't help but think it means something, and I'll be thinking about it over the months to come.

Maybe it's not fair to compare what many (or at least pre-internet many) consider one of the greatest movies of all time to the entire package today.   After all, there was more than one pile of lousy, superficial junk movies in 1975.  But for now, three men went into the water, two came out alive, and the reaction of my boys gave me something to ponder as I think of our culture, our society, and the world which we have given them as our oldest's graduation approaches.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Remember when liberal meant open minded

Remember when colleges were where you went to get an education and broaden your mind by hearing opposing viewpoints?  As opposed to now, where it looks like a growing number of young people are going to hear their indisputable opinions and beliefs validated and confirmed.  Of course, it could be argued that scholarship has been going that way for a while, as has our media culture in general.  We don't look for facts to challenge our beliefs. We look for facts to conform with what we already know is true.

Monday, May 12, 2014

This will make sense down the road

But for now trust me, it's how my mind works.

The Rope

Dwight Longenecker comments on Hitchcock's The Rope.  I had never heard of it.  It was one a month or so ago and we caught the beginning of it.  My oldest then ordered it so we could watch the whole thing. My boys are Hitchcock fans all the way.  My oldest, who is kicking around the idea of journalism, likes to think his writing style is Hitchcock inspired.  The Rope was an interesting one set film about two men who decide to murder, more or less for the heck of it.  Rules don't apply.  It isn't hard to catch the parallels to Crime and Punishment.  Here is Fr. Longenecker unpacking it better than me.  Watch the film first, then read Fr. Longenecker's insightful take.  But only in that order.

FWIW, film buffs will recognize John Dall as Brandon Shaw.  Dall also is well known as the hapless Marcus Glabrus in Kubrick's Spartacus.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Gun nuts win

After following this thread for a couple days, I think I'll go buy a gun.  I don't own one, but I can see where the threats to liberty are.  And because of the tone and contempt and self-righteous scorn for gun owners, manipulation of facts, and general Jack Chick style approach to the issue, against most (not all, but most) of the gun owners who have tried to appeal to facts, call bad (even sinful) arguments for what they are, but also try to demonstrate why some solutions might not be good, I'll give it to the gun owners.  It's this style, increasingly popular in some quarters of the Catholic Blogosphere, that has me concerned.  For the record again, I don't own a gun.  But I don't think dropping inaccurate stats, followed by accusations that anyone disagreeing is a gun nut, stupid, doesn't care about dead innocents (especially if the innocents are dark skinned since they're likely racists, too), is the best way to represent the Catholic Faith.  If it is, then that says more about the Catholic Faith now than we might care to admit.

Obama hearts gays

Because only gay matters to culture, it's about the only thing Obama can turn to in order to deflect attention from his disastrous presidency.  Clearly one of the worst in our country's history, but you'd never know it, partly because of this embarrassing display, in which Obama gets into the NFL draft by heaping praise on the Rams for the most important thing anyone can focus on today.  There may be genocides, wars, poverty, starvation and disease in the world, but gay is all that matters.  And Obama knows it, and the propaganda ministry promotes it.  Sometimes I read about the Revolutionary War and I want to weep.  But then, like free will, freedom never guaranteed doing the right thing.  Or even not doing the dumb thing.

Chelsea Clinton is graduating from Oxford

Congrats to Chelsea.  This is brought to you by the Clinton Election Committee, otherwise known as the American Press.  Anyone who doubts that the press is fully committed to seeing Hilary elected is foolish or a liar.  Little things like consistency don't trouble the progressive world anyway, so overcoming the old is bad meme will be no problem.  Of course some would argue that it's common for politicians' children to get press coverage.  And you know what?  They're obviously right.  Oh, and lest you say 'those are comedians and they do it to everyone', find a similar page on 'Chelsea Clinton Jokes' and I'll readily concede the point.

Gay rights is about ending the First Amendment

Just thought I'd post a reminder of the bleeding obvious.  Of course some argue 'it's not the government, it's not censorship.'  Even though when I was in college I was told that it didn't have to be government to be censorship.  In fact, those old time liberal professors I had made a compelling case.  If you get society to accept crushing the rights of speech outside of the political sphere, then it's only a small step to make it official.  Once the government is doing it, you've already won the hearts and minds of the people to make it possible. So we have gay marriage, not about marriage equality at all (which is as much a B.S. phrase as I've ever heard), but really about training Americans to accept the idea that traditional religious (read: Christian) values should no longer have a place in our culture.  Given the polls, it looks like a growing number of Americans are warming up to the call.

UPDATE:  Just like that little gallimimus in Jurassic Park that frantically and hopelessly snarls back at the T-Rex about to devour it, some are trying to find ways to keep Gay Rights from becoming the tool with which the Progressive Left can finally and legally crush the Rights to not be Liberal.  As the article says, most initiatives have withered under the screams of a media-orchestrated outcry.  Who was it that said witch hunts and McCarthy and the Inquisition and Fascists were always warned against by our educational, media and cultural institutions, but not it's those very institutions behind the modern witch hunts?  Oh, that's be me.  But I'm afraid, too little, too late.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How not to discuss gun control on the Catholic blogosphere

Is demonstrated here.  Because you never know, when dealing in typical rhetoric involving gun loving nuts who don't care about murdered children especially if the children have dark skin, you might just run into a real life, real world example of why care and caution are needed, as in here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

You have to want abortion

I mean, really want it.  Celebrate it.  Enjoy it.  Have fun with it.  Make it one more spoke in the wheel of eternal entertainment that is the hub around which our lives rotate.  That's the latest strategy.  Abortion is no longer murder but a necessary evil.  Nope.  In our decaying culture, it's time to take the gloves off and learn to love the abortion.  Dr. Strangelove indeed.  Or how leftists learned to stop worrying and love the aborted baby.

The latest chapter in this sad march toward genocide?  An abortion counselor is all grins, smiles, giggles and laughs as she puts herself before the most important thing in our modern age: the camera.  As much yucking up as going to get a haircut, and probably not nearly as important to some.  I saw the story on a news ticker on TV.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  Then I remembered this is the world of the post-Christian secular Left.  What else did I expect?  Genocides in former ages were for national pride or ethnic cleansing or tribal allegiance or just plain acquisition of land and conquest.  The future genocides?  That would be for the only thing we value today, and that's our self.  Like I've told my boys a million times if I've told them once: I have no idea how horrifying the next global genocides will be, but I'm pretty damn sure while they will be.  Take heed America:

Monday, May 5, 2014

A small step for religious freedom

A very small step.  But given the tidal wave of support that ending religious rights and freedom of speech is achieving, even a small step is something.  If nothing else, a small spark that could ignite a flame?  Or maybe a small enough step that will drive those who should be alarmed back to apathy.  In any event, it's nice to see that banishing religious thought and other forms of non-progressive wrong think from the public forum is not a forgone conclusion. Well done 5 of 9 Supreme Court Justices.  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Doing dumb on the Catholic Blogosphere

Like so many things, the Catholic blogosphere ain't what it used to be; not what it was when I began my journey into the Church all those years ago.  In just ten years, the capacity for the Internet to engender amazing amounts of dumb is beyond imagining.  Combined with the gradual erosion of classical liberal education, we're a truly the most educated idiots in history.

And nowhere shows that more effectively than the Catholic blogosphere.  For the rich and deep philosophical traditions of Catholicism should allow the arguments and defenses, even by the most marginally educated Catholics, to rise head and shoulders above the din of the Internet market.

But alas.  Instead I've read some of the most egregious, stupid and unbelievable things in Catholic blogs over the recent years, so stupid that it can almost surpass the most ludicrous rants on a daytime talk show.  And since I like to expect the best from us followers of Christ (including myself), simply falling to the same level as everyone else is its own indictment.  Going lower is inexcusable.

And it's not just an occasional post here or comment there.  It is ongoing threads of thought, opinions which so many in the Catholic blogs seem to latch onto.  So for instance, we have the whole 'better to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert' motif.  Or in modern Catholic blog terms, 'why couldn't we go back to the glory days of monarchy instead of flirting with Democracy, which is the form of government that gives us Barabbas.'

Uh huh.  Because monarchies were always so wonderful, as opposed to mean and vicious and evil U.S.  Granted, it's not uncommon in Catholic circles to trash (beyond constructive Christian criticism) the U.S.  Ironically in more hardcore traditionalist circles you can really see this.  In liberal circles, as in liberalism in general, it's also popular.  And naturally a good monarchy is better than a bad democracy.  That goes without saying.  Anything good is better than anything bad.  Duh. 

But think of it.  Back to the glory days of monarchy?  And it isn't just your typical combox fare.  Years ago I remember a link to a Catholic Bishop saying how warfare in the glory days of monarchy was always better than now.   Why?  Because some convoluted reason about it not being about land.  WTH?   Monarchies.  There's a reason republicanism and representative democracies rose out of such governmental structures. 

Yep, the Catholic tradition is rich indeed, and I defy anyone to find a broader and more profound expression of the Christian heritage anywhere else.  But the Internet has allowed us to, as with everything else, find ways to ignore that depth and instead pop off some unbelievable, if not typical, levels of dumb.  

Gay marriage has served its purpose

Gene Robinson is getting a divorce.  A second one that is.  The first one was, of course,  a celebration of post-traditional values as he left his wife for his gay lover.  The two then made history by dragging the issue of gay rights and Christian values into the media circus.  From when it was actually believed you could oppose this and be a decent person, to now when the slight majority of Americans who just threw values out the window because of a lack of solid principles and intellectual foundations, we've seen a swing from one extreme to another.

Sixty years ago, if you stood up and said gays should be married, you'd be skinned.  Or at least laughed off the stage. Today, if you say gay marriage ain't natural and probably shouldn't be the basis for overthrowing one of the foundations of Western Civilization, it could be the end.  See my previous post for our growing love of witch hunts.

And more than any other issue, more than even race and racism, it's been gay rights and gay marriage that have been the main instruments used to turn back the clock on all this freedom and liberty stuff.  Despite the fact that a relatively few percentage of gays even bother to get married, and that gays in any culture seem to make up a relatively few number of people, it was an issue many felt justified a reexamination of what rights are important, and what rights can be qualified.

Now, the poster child of Christian gaydom is divorcing his gay husband.  And not just him.  There is a sudden growth in those few marriages ending in divorce.  Nothing unusual given the disaster that was no fault divorce (something that, itself, probably aided in redefining marriage to include any combination of carbon based lifeforms).  But the point is, we were already dealing with such a tiny number of people.  And now that number is seeing even its ranks compromised by those few leaving what most others in that demographic don't even want.

And for that, we've come to a point where a growing number of people think that freedom of speech, religion and conscience just have to go where other freedoms (like sex) are concerned.  Gay has served its purpose.  It was the weapon with which the post modern Left bludgeoned what were once believed to be the most important freedoms mankind had ever obtained.  Well done.  I enjoy a well played card.  And no card more demonstrated the judicious use of the joker card than the obvious use of gay sex to undo centuries of struggle for basic human rights.  

Post modern witch hunts

Yes, I'm afraid it's all the rage.  McCarthy is the patron saint and witch hunts all the rage as our decaying culture continues its apathetic and lazy denial of the inevitable.  I don't think persecution and decline are connected, since such things have happened in the dawn of, or at the peak of, various cultures and civilizations.  But in ours, it marks one of the characteristics of the country we're passing on to our posterity.  Thomas McDonald quotes Kareem Abdul-Jabber who tried to step in and inject a little sanity into our growing self-righteous rage based insanity.  He, and others who made the point, were ignored.

Remember that growing up, the Inquisition, witch hunts and McCarthy were roundly condemned by our educational, cultural and media institutions.  And it was those institutions that kept the knowledge alive as warnings and lessons so that such horrors would never be repeated. Today, however, it's precisely those institutions that are behind the phenomenon.  So who will ring the warning bell?

An apology

I didn't realize how many grammar and spelling errors were in my recent posts.  Still using a borrowed computer, and blogging is sparse right now.  Hopefully things will turn around when my wife begins working full time.  And just as hopefully no more shoes will drop.  In the meantime, I don't have that much time, and my posts are just off the cuff.  They always were, but I could sometimes take a little time to think things through.  Now it's just type first, think later (a dangerous habit I prefer to avoid).  Again, I'm hoping things settle soon.  Then I can get back to figuring where I want to go with things, and do so in a grammatically pleasing way.