Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why do I do it?

Why do I go back to CAEI? Tis a question that has puzzled the great thinkers of the ages.  Especially after so many of my posts that have been critical of it, which is sort of unfair.  I mean, it's not like I'm read by billions or anything, so criticizing CAEI on my blog is sort of cheating.  Except that if I came close to saying there what I've said here, I'd be banned, as so many are who disagree with Mark at this point.  Even if I'm not banned, for far less than what I've said here, I've taken some pretty tough knocks.  So why go back to be told the following by a well known celebrity blogger:
Catholic moral theology is divided between those (like these popes) who ask "How can we avoid the taking of human life if at all possible?" and those (like you) who ask, "When do we *get* to kill and how can we maximize the number of people we get to slaughter while feeling really righteous about it?" (Emphasis mine)
Now to quote the younger generation, that's some pretty cold smack.  Accusing me of wanting to increase human slaughter because of my vile self-righteousness?  When I've time and again said I believe there are reasons to abolish the death penalty, at least now and here, and this is still said?  Wow.  I mean, wow.  I went back to all the most hardcore fundamentalists I've met - I mean read the KJV or burn in Hell fundamentalists - but don't remember anyone being accused of that.  Jerry Falwell?  Bill Maher?  Maybe.

I'm sure it's been done.  But not by anyone that sane people would regard as credible.  And yet in the Catholic modern media world sans accountability, Mark has become quite the beloved soldier of the True Faith.  Flying around the world, celebrated by Church leaders and bloggers and apologists, increasing his published materials through Catholic publications.  Now, why would I go back to this?  Who in their right minds goes to a blog by someone who clearly has become disgusted by your presence, defends others who insult and accuse you of heinous things, and then steps in and says the same?  I stopped going to radical atheist sites because of better treatment.  Why continue?

Well, because.  First, CAEI was my first roadway into the Church.  Back when I was looking for something by Scott Hahn on the internet that I wouldn't have to purchase, I stumbled on Mark's writings.  They were whimsical and direct, filled with heart and emotion, but with a solid and fair assessment of Catholic teaching as it is understood or misunderstood in today's time.  Without being rude or obnoxious, Mark had a way of making a point with a wink and a nod.  He was clearly conservative, but not afraid of calling conservatives out.  He reserved wrath for those most heinous of assaults on basic morality.  He respected and loved America, while admitting its sins.  He upheld the best of Protestantism and all that Catholics could learn from their Protestant brethren.  For this Protestant minister looking at Catholicism, and knowing some of what I knew at the time, that was important.

Also, because I owe Mark for assistance he offered years ago.  When we were in desperate straights - one of the many times we've been in bad ways since we became Catholic - Mark rallied his readers and really came through.  I don't forget favors easily.

But there are other, less obvious reasons.  For one, I'd hate to think that Mark's approach is making him successful in the Church.  His whole approach is like a bad trip through the worst cable news stereotypes.  It's rage, inconsistency, bad arguments, judgmentalism, leftist intolerance and loathing of a growing list of people over an expanding list of reasons, all of which appear to have made him a bit of a star.  But what does that say for the modern Church?  What does it say about those bishops and priests and fellow bloggers who call him blessed?  Do they approve?  Is this what they want?   Again, the Catholic Church is not efficient, if it is anything.  But to reward this type of behavior.  It bothers me if this is what the Church and its representatives are looking for.

Also, because I'm hoping that despite my fears, the Church really isn't selling out to the Secular Left as my suspicions say it is (see the prophet Saraman, a new power is rising in the dying West).  I mean, I'm not one who denies that the Church has made some bad turns over its long history.  I can't help but wonder if the same is happening today.  Secular liberalism has clearly won the battle for the mind and heart of the dying West.  One can't help but notice that many of the changes in the Church's teachings and approaches to doctrine mirror the post-Christian progressive over anything traditionally understood.  And Mark, who sees himself as forever obedient to the Church, might well mirror this trend.

Finally, because I'm fond of Mark. Like Scrooge's nephew.  I can't help but think there's still that old Mark down there somewhere.  I fear for him, too.  Unlike many in the Church who have dispensed with old notions of Hell and punishment, I still worry that eternal loss of salvation is a possibility.  Mark comes dangerously close to things that Mark c. 2005 would have said put a person's soul into jeopardy of eternal loss.  Such as the above accusation.  That's a false accusation.  That's a judgement of another's heart and soul.  And I offered him my forgiveness, only to have my offer shoved back down my throat for daring to "attack" him (that is, call his arguments lousy, something far kinder than he's said to me and others).  That is a person driving a thousand miles an hour toward a cliff.  If he was a fellow colleague in ministry, we'd have staged what we used to call 'an intervention' by now.

Instead, it being the Catholic blogosphere, he is rewarded and praised.  His growing liberal base loves him and encourages his wrath, anger and hatred of all except his personal friends who cling to conservatism.  And Raca and Fool?  That is the name of the game.  Even when he apologizes for crossing the line, some of his readers chastise him and call him out for straying from the True Way.  And that True Way is the way that helps them understand they are part of an ever shrinking band of Worthy Believers surrounded by an ever increasing sea of deplorable disgraces to the Gospel.  And when I see that happen, I can't help but pray.  And return, hoping that at some point, somehow, against all hope and increasing success, Mark might snap back the the Mark I used to know.  The one who helped me in my journey across the Tiber and into Rome. Anyway, those are the reasons.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


On this from a post regarding the Death Penalty.
"Although the church allowed for and still in some fashion allows for the death penalty - what the church teaches can be changed - not doctrine but how it is to be understood." (Emphasis mine)
What does that say?  What the church teaches can be changed.  How it is to be understood.  Personally, I've never known a religious tradition that says otherwise.  Which probably means there's something other than just this that makes a difference in how a religious tradition approaches things.  But I thought it was a fresh statement, honest.  How a great many Catholics see things today.  Maybe not wrong.  But worth thinking on. 

Happy birthday little Hobbit!

Five years old!  A big boy!   Here he is, celebrating at this dining experience of choice.

That was supposed to be five fingers, but at least he got a 20%

It's nice when they're young.  As they get older, they realize that birthday dinners mean what you normally don't get (lobster, steak, filet).  But at this age?  McDonalds!  That's because we don't eat out that much, and never eat out with the clown.  So to him?  It was the dining experience of the year!

The family, barely able to hold back their excitement


So it's official.  I have a new position at work.  It is not the promotion that I was hoping for.  And I didn't get the raise I was hoping for.  But in our Catholic convert life, we'll take what table scraps we can get.  The big thing is that the hours snap back to decent.  For the last year and a half, I've worked the death shift.  Where I work, there are over 9000 employees, with parking for about 8000.  Meaning at my distance from work, I have to leave an hour earlier than I normally would if it where some normal workplace.  Then the hours being 10-7, and also weekends, it took me out of all but a couple days a week from being able to do much with the family.

Well as of Monday, that all changes!  M-F, 8-5.  And because it's so early, I'll only have to leave about 35 minutes ahead of time.  Weekends off.  Evenings off.  I can get back to exercising, help more with homeschool, why the possibilities are endless!  My wife is currently at a job that has similar hours, though more money will be needed in the future. Prayerfully her job here will provide her with the funds, or another job with similar hours. In any case, for now at least, one major wrecking ball in our life is about to be eliminated.

Again, as Catholics, we've come to the point of being happy with life, and life to the least of blessings. Even as we discover that a car that was given us through a Catholic parish by some 'generous' parishioners was, in fact, a lemon* (they got the tax write off, we got the shaft), at least this brings some balance back.  So finishing up now in preparation fort he change, and having to do several things at once.  When the dust settles, I'll come back and answer that ancient question:  If CAEI ticks me off so much, why oh why do I keep going back there?  TTFN.

*I figured there was something wrong when they handed the keys over to me and made me sign a statement accepting the car 'as-is' with no complaint.  Not what one usually experiences with a charitable act.  And given that the best estimate we've received is 4000.00 to get it running safe (not counting extras), I can see I was right to be suspicious.  But beggars as they say.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I am guilty of Word Crimes!

My second oldest gets credit for finding Weird Al's latest greatness more than a week before the news media.  I won't say anything else.  I'm scared to write after this. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Recovering from Surgery

The world's cutest wife is up and about now since her surgery.  From what I can tell, they didn't get all of the growth removed, but hopefully she will be OK for the near future.  I think someday she'll have to go back and have the rest removed.  But I'm sure they'll err on the side of caution.  More prayers will be appreciated.

That is one happy kid enjoying a magnet he found. 

The Muse of Mark

I had to post this.  I just had to.   And shame on me for doing it, since it really is deplorable to let politics spill into a humanitarian crisis.  But perhaps it's inevitable.  In any event, here is the post from Dan C, who has the mind and ears of Mark Shea over at CAEI:
The only ones making this political in any way is Republicans who now explain overtly their fear of Hispanics. I do not hear much from the Democrats at all on the demographics of this. But nearly every complaint from conservatives focuses on electoral power.Why don't Hispanics vote Republican? Maybe that is the problem.
So, Republicans alone are making this political?  They alone are talking about the demographics of this (not even sure what that means, but I've heard this discussion on CNN a hundred times - how this might play into Democrats during election time).  And of course, explain their fear of Hispanics (Conservatives being the racists they are). 

And this is who conservative Catholic Mark Shea has thrown his support behind, defended and even posted praises for his perception about the trouble with Conservatives.  I mean, that's like saying Jack Chick is a credible source for understanding Catholic doctrine. Again, it saddens me greatly.  I don't do this to snipe, but to pray. 

My thoughts on the immigration crisis

First, let's not say it's wrong to bring political wrangling into the issue and then bring political wrangling into the issue.  A first priority should be helping those who are here.  I've seen that said across both sides of the aisle.  

Then, there's nothing illogical or heartless about saying there is a problem that needs fixed. Again, both sides of the aisle are saying this.  I've been following this since I saw the story break on CNN several weeks ago.  Plenty on both sides have proposed their solutions as well as emphasized the need to help.  It's not this side/that side.  Folks on both sides are coming about trying to figure things. 

Then, let's not forget those who live along the borders.  They are important, too.  CNN had an official on talking about the concern over diseases and screening the refugees..  They admitted we don't want this to spill out and jeopardize the surrounding populations.  Listen to those who live there.  The best way to keep them from reaching out to some radical group is to listen and acknowledge that they, too, are important. 

Of course pundits on both sides are doing what pundits do: how can we say it's right when our side does it and wrong when their side does it.  That's what pundits do.  And if we don't want to see this issue get mired in that, then best not to get mired in it at all.

That's not to say the solutions and the fixes aren't worth discussing.  Of course they are. But if we want to, then we had best do our homework, and rise above those partisan pundits who are trying to make whatever they can from this.  It does us no good to condemn such punditry while being part of the same. 

In the meantime, why don't we go radical and put our money where our mouths are.  Not just a little off the top, but get radical.  Sell our possessions.  Give our excess.  Take a child or family in.  More and more people away from the borders are getting involved, so we all can wherever we live.  This can also help those who live along the borders by taking the burden off their shoulders.    

And then slap our politicians around and say we want solutions, not partisan sniping.  Because one thing everyone agrees with: this can't continue as it's going. Just a thought. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


In the fight for a return to decent, sensible Catholic blogging.  So Mark Shea, who is quite the fan of Simcha Fisher, linked to a post of hers attacking - nay, assaulting - the website Pewsitters.  Now Pewsitters is obviously a very conservative Catholic site.  Perhaps traditionalists.  Maybe, as they say, Reactionary.  I don't know.  Don't visit it much myself.

Anyway, apparently Pewsitters posted a story about the young girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, in which they say they were raped.  Or admit.  Or confess.  Or whatever.  Pewsitter used the word 'admitted'.  FWIW, I wouldn't have thought twice of it.  They admitted.  They revealed what everyone feared.

Ms. Fisher went ballistic.  She unloaded with 'both barrels.'  Go to hell Pewsitters!  We know your odious hearts!   Mark joined in, praising Simcha and casting venom and loathing as well, explaining that they were in the same camp as those barbaric third world types who still feel a woman raped deserves to be blamed for having sex, even when raped.

The problem?  (I was the first to comment)  Not being a linguist, it didn't seem to me to follow there was only one way to interpret the word 'admitted', on which the entire broadside from Ms. Fisher and Mark relied.  And as such, I reminded everyone that the Catechism is pretty clear how we're supposed to approach others when in comes to interpreting things they've said.

I was quickly answered and accused of hurting my own extensive criticisms of Mark's posts and being some referee apparently.  But soon, a strange thing happened.  Even folks who don't care for Pewsitters began to scratch their heads and say, "You know, the word "admitted" might mean many things, and it could easily mean something not at all bad in this context."  A couple diehards, mostly progressive commenters on Mark's site tried to stem the tide, accusing some of being Francis haters or trying to split hairs, but more and more those posting reactions were a bit disturbed by this.  For Mark and Simcha's hatred was palpable.  Her contempt and loathing of those at the site was clear.  And yet, it was based upon something that, to be honest, I could have read twenty times and never, even with Pewsitter's other posts I looked up, concluded they were suggesting these poor girls were guilty for being raped.

The good news?  Mark pulled the post.  There's still hope.  I admit I'm not a fan of Ms. Fisher.  I'm sure she's a fine person.  But as a blogger, she spends quite a bit of time lamenting the age old lament of those other believers.  And she has no problem casting the most vile verbal assaults and accusations and labels at those she disagrees with on such things as politics, women's rights, fashion, art, you name it.  To be honest, it reminds me of caricatures of old time fundamentalists, albeit with a prolife feminist slant.  Since Mark first began praising her and her blog years ago, I've noticed a long change into what things are now.  Maybe he's just easily influenced.  I noticed a change after he began reading Leah Libresco's blog, and some others, too.  I don't know.

But in any event, he did the right thing.  This was a flat out grievous accusation, a horrid - and unless it's true, slanderous - attack on fellow believers.  Mark was right to remove his post.  I pray he does a better job avoiding such posts in the future.  Whether Ms. Fisher concedes the same and either removes the post or apologizes, we'll have to see.  But for now, at least one right thing has been done.  Kudos to Mark.  May this be the beginning of better and more careful posting in the future.

UPDATE: Sigh.  Mark reposted this.  I had hoped it was removed.  But Mark reposted with what could only be seen as a very, very slight apology.  Essentially an apology that says 'because some charitable readers insit I've judged falsely, I will officially apologize to those odious reprobates at Pewsitter.'  I did what I seldom do, and that's tell Mark about what I think about his blog on the thread.  We'll see.  Keep praying is my opinion.  Perhaps it's Mark being on Patheos.  I don't know.  I just know, as I said in my comment, that Mark's blog has become everything he used to warn against.  And that's never a good sign.

I've copied Ms. Fisher's post in case she does remove it, simply as a point of reference:

"Schoolgirl “admits” being raped?
I clicked on the link, and that’s what the headline says in the original article, too. I’d say Pewsitter was just unthinkingly reproducing the headline and bears no responsibility for the outrageous implications of that word, but anyone who’s been on Pewsitter’s vast and trackless bad side knows that they routinely make up headlines that suggest whatever they want to suggest. “Admits” is the word they liked.
The hell with them."

Monday, July 14, 2014

The coming storm

I had to run and get our soon to be freshman home from Football practice.  Just when I was thinking of getting going with some serious blogging, looks like we're going to have to wait.  I got him home (as well as an ankle brace for a twisted ankle), and this is what we saw:

So it looks like it's going to be a while before I get back.  Tomorrow is my wife's surgery. Prayers will be appreciated.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Incredibly Beautiful indeed

Thomas McDonald links to an online digital facsimile of a 16th century prayer book.  A direct link is here.  That is loving craftsmanship.  Not that I'm against mass production, but let's face it, which would we rather have?  A table off the assembly line or one handcrafted by a master craftsman?  On the other hand, most peasants, and most people, wouldn't have had a prayer book like this, nor could they afford anything but the most rudimentary furnishings, probably makeshift or made by their own hands.  It's nice to imagine the best of history, but keeping it real is an important counterbalance.  Still, a world where everyone could have something like that?  Even if everyone had one, I think it would still be awesome.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Creepiness on the Catholic Blogosphere

So there's been a couple posts over at CAEI about Allah being the same God as the God of Catholics.  Technically it's more complicated than a blog post.  It really is.  We're talking linguistics, culture, history, anthropology, theology, you name it.  But that's not my point.

In one of the posts, the Church's lone mention of Islam in the Catechism is mentioned.  OK.  A few comments.  I didn't bother to comment.  But then someone (a regular reader in recent times) popped in to basically trash those war loving Americans and their post-9/11 hysteria.  You know, the hysteria that didn't end in mosques, Arabs, and Muslims being slaughtered (and remembering most casualties of the American wars are the result of Muslim against Muslim fighting).

So I responded with a bit of a snarky quip, I must admit:
"Hysteria? I can barely remember when 9/11 even mattered. That was in 2001, right?"
I expected an exasperated shot about nobody is forgetting 9/11 or that 9/11 is no joke or something.  But nope.  What I got was this:
"For most of us. There unfortunately is a significant vocal minority for whom it does matter inordinately. Also the Ground Zero Mosque debacle."
Wow!  For most of us?  Basically saying 'yep, thank God (or Allah) we're done with that event except for a few loonies who still insist, apparently, that we should care or oppose Islamic conquest, or something?'  Welcome to the Catholic Blogosphere mate.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How true

After talking about this year's homeschool, we were just batting things around.  Why things are, what's happening to the country, life in the internet age.  Then one of my boys quipped 'we're a generation of cynical fanboys.'  I like that.  Sort of like I wrote here about the proliferation of those particularly proud geeks who may still be influenced, not by profound philosophy or deeply spiritual devotion to God, but by that itch to always consider oneself to be far better than the rest of those dolts trying to belong or actually help the team win.  A generation of people who see nothing but the bad in everything except that which we randomly declare to be awesome because we think so. 

So it isn't surprising that one thing we have that's almost omnipresent in our society is the tendency to heap scorn on those who have already tried to solve actual problems, rather than sit in the armchair and bitch at everyone else for not being as awesome as we are.  

That's what I call bitchito ergo sum: I bitch, therefore I am.  Or translated: why actually accomplish anything by solving problems on behalf or our posterity when I can sit at home on the computer and bitch at everyone else for not being as awesome as I would be if I decided to actually be part of the solutions.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Fr. Longenecker links to a story buzzing about on the internet regarding two gay men manufacturing a baby for themselves the old fashioned way.  But the good father sets aside the multiple ethic questions that permeate the story to focus on a line in the story.  The mother who carried the the baby for the men in question is referred to as 'an unrelated gestational carrier.'   Whew.  How heart warming.

It reminds me of an old Bloom County cartoon where Opus the penguin is in a panic about the drastically changing times (that being Reagan's 80s). In the end, he can lean on only one safe haven of comfort in the tidal crashes of our modern age: motherhood.  He finds a pregnant woman and leans against her, sighing.  And in the last frame, the woman blandly responds - "surrogate".

Have I mentioned that we're seeing the bedrock of future holocausts before our eyes?  The saddest part is that it will be our children and their children who pay the price for our lunacy and apathy and arrogant inaction.

Friday, July 4, 2014

From memories of my childhood view of patriotism

And in response to a tirade against this by one of the commenters of the Catholic blogosphere, who declared his eternal disgust at having to sing this song in school because of that wretched 'land of the pilgrim's pride' part.  For me?  I'm more than happy to remember and proclaim it.

P.S.  The cookout was great, we watched the entire wonderful series on the American Revolution narrated by the late Charles Kuralt, and now the fireworks begin.

Lou Gehrig's contribution to this Independence Day

One final note on this July 4th.  It's the 75th anniversary of one of the greatest speeches in American history, and probably the greatest out of the world of athletics.  Here's a post where I linked to the speech to remind myself of real courage in the face of adversity.  When the old world gets you down, remember this speech, and you'll not see it the same way.

Another way of thinking Independence

A reader sent me this link.  It's to one of those 'the history you never knew' approaches to the story.  It starts out by gleefully putting to rest all of those old fables that anyone my age or younger have long since had put away.  But it puts some interesting spins on just what those rebellious Patriots really wanted.  Like much scholarship today, it has a pretty 'polemical' smell to it.  And like most issue based history, there is probably more to the actual events than given here; focusing on molehills in the hopes of making a mountain or two. Still, it's always fun to read different viewpoints about history.  History is an art, after all, not a science.  So read and enjoy.  

Why do we remember Paul Revere

But not Samuel Prescott or William Dawes?  Because of Longfellow:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,—
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said, "Good night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade, —
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay, —
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders, that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British Regulars fired and fled, —
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farm-yard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Can Catholics love America?

You'd not think so to read some on the Catholic blogosphere.  But then the blogosphere is at once a poor gauge for understanding reality, yet also a portent of things to come, because it is the petri dish from which idiocy and vileness will grow alongside good and solid ideals.  

Now it's no shock to students of history that the Catholic Church has had a love/hate relationship with the US and, in fact, with all the Democratic revolutions of the Enlightenment Age.  And of course, given the decay and death infecting the Western Tradition, there's an argument to be made.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  Part of the reason why we are dying is because we've spent so much time focusing on the bad, and being forced to focus on the bad by those who would exploit the bad to ramrod their agendas, we've lost the ability to be proud of our nation.  Even I feel at times a bit silly for speaking of my love of country.  

Yes, admitting to and learning from past errors and even evils is a necessary part of love of country.  But it can go too far.  Just like confessing our sins is a good thing.  Dwelling on them, refusing forgiveness and absolution, and eventually committing suicide out of despair is a bad thing.  

And sometimes those on the Catholic blogosphere seem to lose track of when and where these lines should be drawn.  So here is Fr. Dwight Longenecker shedding some typically reasonable insight.  It's OK to look at the blessings while never forgetting our responsibilities.  And sometimes, just a good old Favorite Things list of why this is still an exceptional experiment in the history of human societies can do the mind good.  Read and enjoy, and Happy 4th of July.  Off to the patriotic specials, documentaries, and feasting with families in a (still) free nation. 

Will someone rid us of these pesky freedoms

So I turned on CNN today, this July 4th.  I didn't see the entire segment in all fairness.  But apparently a scholar is saying we may need to rethink the Declaration of Independence - which is alternately important and irrelevant, depending on what we're talking about nowadays.  Anyway, he says we've misinterpreted the Declaration because after the famous preamble section "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", there should be a comma, not a period.  And of course, according to the CNN host, this means that the Founding Fathers meant that it is these things are provided by the government.

First, I've looked at several copies of the text, and I've seen a comma, a period, and a semi-colon.  Even CNN said, looking at the original, that it was likely a semi-colon.  Assuming that the nuances of punctuation mean the same for us as they did the Founding Fathers, that still means...what?  If the context of the rest of the document is ignored, it could mean that the it is the government that is the source of all happiness and liberty.

Or if we look at the whole document, we might see that the pause in thought could mean what we've always been taught: That we have these rights given us by our Creator, and that to secure these God-given rights, governments are instituted among men and derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Sure, governments must exist.  The Declaration says nothing else.  But why, how, and in what role is completely separate, and certainly not as CNN tried to suggest, that all these things are made possible by 'the government.'  Sure the government is a part of the puzzle, but unlike the modern Left, is is not the puzzle.

But don't take my word, go hear for the complete text.

Happy Birthday America

Right now your citizens aren't living up to their potential I'm afraid.  But there's always hope.  Hope that a generation will rise up able to learn from the mistakes of the past, without using them to excuse the chase after wild and absurd ideas focused on ourselves.  A generation so immersed in the bad of our past and present that we've lost the ability to celebrate our blessings.  Yes, there's hope.  Maybe God does still shed his grace on thee.  I'm fine with that idea. Time will tell.  But for now, happy birthday.  You may not be perfect, but at your worst you've seldom been as bad as others at their worst, and sometimes you've been better than some nations at their best.  As a fellow from Uganda said, "America has never done bad that well."  And that's a great thing to be thankful for on this, our country's 238th birthday.  Happy July 4th.

Not one of my boys' textbooks had this picture that once appeared in multiple textbooks when I was growing up.