Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Hobbit the way it could have been

Interesting.  Jackson's cinematic train wreck is, in my boys' opinion, his pay back to the Tolkien estate for not getting behind his first trilogy.  You think that was bad?  Ha!  Watch what I do to The Hobbit. It's a shame.  And as of now, the Rankin Bass version still stands, IMHO, as the best cinematic interpretation of Tolkien.  Not perfect, but none are.  Certainly not the mess that Jackson threw together based on Tolkien's delightful children's book.  Anyway, here is a link to someone who went so far as edit out the bad parts, the really bad parts.  How much will be left once the bad parts are gone, of course, is a matter of fact.  How much should be left is a matter of opinion. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Indiana University Students display modern liberal tolerance

That is, where drugs and sex are free and without consequence, all is tolerant.  Even punishing people for wrong-think.  Of course this is the sort of thing that radical fundamentalist right wing intolerant and judgemental people used to do.  Today, it's kids pushing for unlimited sexual expression by getting rid of this laughable notion that speech and religious rights are something we should care about.  Our modern educational systems and higher education institutions have done well.  They should be proud.  Read an account here.  I wonder if we'll wake up soon enough, or if we'll wait until it's too late.

What's going on in Hollywood?

First we had Argo, a movie that clearly dramatizes events, but does so for the benefit of the US and - get this - the CIA!  Like my boys said, that's like a movie that makes the Gestapo look like heroes.   Then we had Unbroken, by Angelina Jolie.  A movie that portrays the US as heroes and the Japanese - get this - as the bad guys.  Almost brutal.  Almost Nazi like in their cruelty.  A portrayal some vaguely admit, but prefer to keep under the bushel in order to emphasize the helpless peace loving spirit of Japan in August 1945.  And now we have The Sniper.  A film by political and economic conservative Clint Eastwood, that looks at the complexities of a US soldier who is a sniper, and actually shows the insurgents as baddies.

What the hell!  We're supposed to be the bad guys.  We nuke babies.  We slaughter darkies.  We own slaves and butcher Indians Native Americans.  We cause wars.  We interfere.  When people are forced to fly jets into our skyscrapers filled with Eichmanns innocent civilians, we're the ones that made them hate us.

What's with this?

My boys and my wife and I watched Argo together last night.  They were stunned.  Not because they thought it was an historical treatise on the events.  But because it dared to make us out to be the good guys.  Yes, it did it's job in showing we weren't always clean and without blame in events.  But we - and the CIA! - were actually the heroes.  Other countries objected, it wasn't multi-cultural enough, how dare an actor who isn't Mexican portray a person, etc., etc.   But my boys were stunned.  They said they're not used to that.  Throughout their life, we're the bad guys.  The US.  Our Founding Racists Fathers.  Our armies.  Our leaders.  Our racist citizens.  That's supposed to be the emphasis.  And that's what my boys have seen in their culture, their media, their schools and textbooks.

Like I told my boys as we watched Argo, and I described the low spirits of the day, there were actually people then who said the best days of the US were behind us.  That was an actual POV.  One of my sons piped up and said that's not what they say today.  Today, the motto is that the US never had any best days, we were always evil, wrong, and bad.  Our only hope is to make amends and repent and put the evils of the past behind us.  And yet these movies suggest otherwise.

To my wife and I, it was a nice refresher.  To my boys, it was a completely different POV.  Like finding out the world may be flat after all.  How interesting.

Monday, January 19, 2015

On Usury and Catholic thinking

So I posted about the tendency within Catholicism to emphasize obedience to the Church.  Obedience beyond what most traditions tend to emphasize.  That post was here.  But check out the discussion between two guests.  It takes on the issue of Usury, one I admit I don't grasp that well.  I know if it mostly from studies in Medieval History.  Haven't really thought about it otherwise, or at least not in its spiritual ramifications.  Anyway, the subject is beyond me, so read some back and forth between two individual inefficiently more schooled in the subject than I am.  For me, it's like Fay Wray watching Kong fight the T-Rex.  Just hold onto the tree and wonder.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

And now all Americans can be ashamed

Wow.  And I mean wow.  Read it.  I stand accused.  I've long felt this was the case, but I don't think I've ever seen it said so plainly.  Thanks to this wonderful piece.  May we learn in time.  And in a way contrary to the nature of post-moderns, may we actually do something about it.

Ohio State: The Little Team that could

Against all odds, the Ohio State Buckeyes have finally silenced the critics.  During the years of the BCS, the SEC dominated.  For whatever reason, year after year the teams of the south, primarily the southeast, swept title after title and won bowl game after bowl game.  Yes, in recent years there seemed to be a gradual shift, but the south was dominant.  But giving in to decades of cries, the college football program was changed and for the first time in college football history, we had an actual playoff system.

Into this new situation came the Buckeyes.  Long reviled by the sports media as an overblown has-been,  The days of Woody Hayes have long gone, and while the Bucks enjoyed some success under Jim Tressel, the later years were marred by overblown scandals built on minor transgressions, and poor performances in key bowl and championship games.

Then coach Tressel was forced to leave, and after a lost year, was replaced by former nemesis Urban Meyer, who himself had left the game due to health reasons.  After one undefeated season that didn't count due to sanctions from previous scandals, we lumbered through Meyer's second season, only to lose the key games of the year and lose them horribly.

Then after a summer of hoping for a solid year to rebuild, our Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback was injured before the season began.  And we were forced to turn to our backup quarterback,  Then against Michigan, he too was injured and out, only to be replaced by a third string quarterback that hadn't played the entire year.  We won, but faced Wisconsin and a Heisman candidate and one of the best runners in the nation.  We won.  We decimated.

Then it was number one Alabama, favorite of ESPN and the sports media, and overwhelming favorite.  The fluke against Wisconsin would fade and the Big Ten would once again fall under the dominate south.  We won.  We stunned.

But now, we were against what many felt should have been the number one team all year.  Oregan.  That was a team most teams feared to play.  They were fast.  They were a blur.  They shocked and awed.  Most assumed the best OSU could hope for was a good showing, and a great place in next years ratings.  And now?  Well, read for yourself.  It was a storybook season in a storied program.  It was teamwork and that magic that is football.  It was a good cap off to a great story.  And now it's time to go to bed.  Tomorrow we celebrate.

Friday, January 9, 2015

My sons are answered by Nicholas Kristof

When the shooting in Paris happened, there was, almost immediately, an attempt in the media to remind us that these terrorists do not represent Islam.  Islam is not to blame.  My boy asked 'why is it when someone in America does something, it's all about what's wrong with America, or when some Christian does something, it just goes to show you The Church.  Or when Mel Gibson went on his rants, there's the Catholics for you.  But when terrorists repeatedly kill thousands in the name of Allah, we are constantly reminded that we can in no way blame Islam or suggest it has anything to do with Islam?'  Kristof explains how here.

Fact is, Western Liberalism is a revolution.  And like all revolutions, it seeks to overthrow the establishment and replace it with its own institutions and philosophies.  Thus, it is in its best interest to constantly beat the drums of how horrible things are in our own back yard.  So Kristof says Christians don't have to apologize for the genocide against Muslims in Yugoslavia.  Yet I remember that being mentioned back in the day, and linked with Christians and Christian atrocities throughout the ages.  Just like, when a single pastor threatened to burn a Koran, it was linked to America's racism and racist past.

Sorry, that's the point.  If you're going to excuse Islam, then excuse Christianity when it comes to gay rights or abortion or even any other subject.  Excuse America and focus on a single issue.  The problem is, liberalism will forget all about 'you can't blame the whole because of a few bad apples' when it's something that can be linked to the very civilization that liberalism seeks to overthrow.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Newsweek embarrasses thinking people

The latest media bigoted assault on Christianity has made quite a stir.  Not because it's the usual 'Christianity is a stupid and evil lie' meme that we get every Easter and Christmas.  But because the propaganda hit piece, by Kurt Eichenwald, is so wonderfully bad.  On so many levels.  I don't have time to unpack the dumb.  It's just the sort of thing post-modern skeptics and secularists seem to love: factually wrong but with lots of hate and anger against improperly understood religions that they hate to begin with.  

The best example (and it was hard to narrow it down), was his treatment of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Like Bart Erhman knows, every Bible published mentions that the earliest manuscripts don't contain this.  It's no big deal.  Nobody believes the Bible was typed by God on a cloud and dropped into our laps in the King's English.  And that's just informed Protestants.  Catholics and Orthodox by definition wouldn't see it that way.  Apparently that's one of a million things about the subject that Kurt Eichenwald is ignorant of. 

Anyway, Eichenwald says this: "John didn't write it.  Scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages.  It does not appear in any of the three other Gospels or in any of the early Greek versions of John." 

Did you read that?  Bwa ha ha ha!  Define early manuscript there Kurt old buddy, old pal.  Especially since the story if found in manuscripts as early as the 5th to 6th century.  For that matter, define Middle Ages.  And what of it not being in the other three?  How many passages in one Gospel aren't in the others?  I mean, this is embarrassing, and anyone except for the usual group of atheists and other anti-Christians who leap up to defend it, should run as far from this as possible. 

But enough of me.  Here is an absolutely devastating rebuttal to the errors, falsehoods, stupidity, bigotry, arrogance, hypocrisy, and unintentional hilarity of this latest contribution to that publication that used to be known as credible.   

Double standards in liberalism

Is like saying wetness in water.  It goes without saying.  Nonetheless, Jonah Goldberg unpacks a few examples to help us understand why anyone who doesn't conform to the Progressive Way is likely to undergo a horrible gauntlet in the public realm.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Catholic problem

In the Christian world, Catholicism is unique in its demands for obedience to the Church beyond all other things.  When we went through RCIA, mention of a relationship with Jesus was barely dwelt upon.  But our confession that we would obey the teachings of the Church was hammered in.  Not that any denomination or tradition doesn't expect some fealty to its particular interpretations and understandings and faith confessions.  But that 'obey the Church' just isn't there.

So we have this little dialogue.  It's over the issue of usury, something that has long been a thorn in the side of the faith, that we often forget about in our post-enlightenment, capitalistic societies.  Forbidding usury plays a big part in Medieval history.  It's come back into the forefront in light of the Church's movement away from capitalism, and starting to warm up to more socialist leaning solutions for economic woes.

Note the final point by Kirt Higdon.  What the Church is saying appears to be change rather than development of teaching.  It also appears to have contradictions.  So be it.  I am called to obey.  However it is worth noting that we shouldn't impugn the heart and soul of the person who has questions.  But here's the point.  If obedience is the core of the faith, then when the Church does something like change its teachings, or say things that appear to contradict themselves or reality, you can either do what Kirk did, and just say it doesn't make sense.  Or you can impugn the character of those who threaten your acceptance of the situation by pointing out the obvious.

The Crusades and the Inquisition.  They are uniquely Catholic for a reason.  Terrible things have been done in the name of any religion or belief system.  But never so clearly defined with such an officially declared seal of approval.  Reread the link for understanding.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ohio State against the world!

So the t-shirt said.  Will someone please tell me what kind of a world we live in where Ohio State's ragtag bunch of replacements headed by a third string quarterback with only one prior game under his belt actually beats the nations number one football team?  That sounded funnier when my sixteen year old said it.

Boy what a game.  I know, I know.  Next game's the beast, and it's hungry.  After destroying overrated Florida State, Oregon is sharpening it's claws (or bills) and ready.  But then, so was Michigan State.  So was Wisconsin. And of course, so was Alabama.  Why, when Oregon obliterated Florida State earlier, almost all of the talk went to the inevitable Oregon to Alabama match-up.

But somewhere, somehow, the Buckeyes didn't get the message.  Oh sure, it started out that way.  Jones, in only his second start, having never started as quarterback in a non-championship game, looked nervous.  The whole team did.  Nobody imagined OSU would win.  Most of the discussion was over just how flawed the system was to let the Buckeyes in the top four in the first place.

By the end of the first quarter, it was 21 to 6.  Two turnovers.  Two field goals.  The number one team with a host of records and bests in the lineup.  It looked like the Oregon massacre was going to be repeated.

Then something happened.  After clawing and scratching and kicking and biting our way to the goal, we actually scored against the nation's best goal line defense.  Then things turned around.  Suddenly we were scoring.  By half time we were only one point behind.

In the second half, we made two more touchdowns and held Alabama stopped.  Then, for almost the entire second half, we were plugged into our own five yard line, unable to move, unable to even make a first down.  We went until past the halfway mark of the fourth quarter with negative yards unable to even break a first down.

And yet strangely, Alabama was still behind.  If it looked horrible to us, it must have been a nightmare to Alabama fans.  How could they not be beating a team that couldn't even make a first down for most of the second half?  And yet, somehow, when it was over and the last play ended in an interception by Ohio State, it happened.

Yes, the next match will be ugly.  Heisman trophy winner.  Top team.  A beast.  And yet, somehow, the Buckeyes may even make a match of it.  If we don't, it was still one of the best seasons I've ever seen, and one of the best reasons for loving football.  It's all about overcoming adversity.  But who knows?  We'll have to wait and see.  Until then, well done Buckeyes.  You've more than earned your keep.

Oh, and you can't help rubbing it in the face of the SEC, since the first championship system seems to undo the last decade of SEC dominance.  Heh.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Mark Shea at his best

In a couple articles he wrote years ago, even before I began visiting his blog.  This one, from 2005, taking aim at the simplistic faith people have in the latest academic skeptic.   This one , from 2002, unpacking a historic understanding of traditions and Tradition.  It's worth noting that one is in the Imaginative Conservative, the only Conservative publication Mark references in a positive light, despite contributors to that publication advocating the very perspectives Mark calls down the hellfires of damnation on in other cases. Sad.  But the articles themselves remind me of happier times, when Mark Shea could truly unpack the Church's teachings with wit and restraint in such a way that this Protestant minster took notice.  You can see the positive, the affirming, the celebration of differences while desiring to explain them.  You can also see, without it being said, that this was a conservative Catholic making sure his faith wasn't compromised by holding to the wrong traditions. All that makes any apologist more than worth the money.

The Steve Martin article, FWIW, was one of the first I read, and it hooked me.  I still use Mark's example when I explain how much of the latest brilliance is really bunk.  It also had a hilarious picture from a Martin album from back in the day.  I thought the Martin cover gave it a special edge.

From the wit and wisdom of Mark Shea before he didn't change

The liberalization of Catholicism

It's not hard to notice.  Except for some sexual issues that don't directly impact celibate men, the growing number of issues espoused by the Catholic Church don't fall too far from the tree of modern progressive thought.  Whether it's evolution, global warming, immigration, the budget, economics, feminism, and even homosexuality, the unpacking and explanations increasingly sound about like they would have about thirty or forty years ago in such denominations as the Episcopals, Lutherans and United Church of Christ.

Sure, there are differences.  As much as Dr. Phil and the US Bishops may sound similar when dealing with Same Sex Attraction, the Church does draw the line at actual penetration.  Likewise, the Church pretty much says that science is right about evolution, except that God made it happen, which opens up several new issues, such as death and destruction being part of God's plan from the beginning, and that humans might not all be of the same pedigree after all.

Both Pope Benedict the XVI and Pope Francis have been quoted as lifting up women in ways that would make an Oprah roadshow proud - though of course women can't be priests.  And in terms of the US bishops (this being about the American Church, my main point of reference), typically their stances and preferences and the strategies of the Democratic Party aren't too far apart.

After all, even Democrats admit that Obama played fast and loose with not promoting a budget, largely for political reasons, and the Bishops were more or less quite.  Even though millions suffered as the economy dragged with no direction or leadership.  But let Paul Ryan promote a budget suggestion, and it was as if Hell was unleashed in Washington.  Of course the Bishops and the Democrats seem pretty close in the immigration debate, and let's not forget the fact that I'm just not seeing much other than gleeful support for most of Obama's healthcare mandate, except for the HHS mandate battle which was promptly lost by the Bishops.  At least in terms of winning the heart and soul of the country is concerned.  And there's even a growing discussion on just how realistic the whole Hell thing might actually be.

Yes, when it comes to abortion and contraceptives, the Church takes a hard line position that doesn't look to change any time soon.  See issues that impact celibate men above.  But other than that, is there really anything the Church is doing that doesn't seem to line up with the post-Christian secular progressive revolution?

Much is made about the flagrant change over at CAEI, that it has become a playground for America haters, liberals, leftists, socialists, anti-Conservatives, anti-Protestants, and other progressive and Leftist views.  But what of it?  If a person wants to be obedient to the Church, and we observe what the Church looks like in recent years, what choice is there?  Keep sounding like a conservative American, a traditionalist, someone who, apart from sexual issues, does not see the world through the prism of modern, secular and progressive ideals, will you be able to feel obedient?