Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christians warming up to the emergent Left own this

Court upholds colossal fine against Christian bakers for refusing to cater a gay wedding.  Of course homosexuality is the club the left long searched for in order to bludgeon all resistance.  The growing number of Christians willing to explicitly, or implicitly, align themselves with this movement by following the St. Saruman principle of cozying with whatever power is rising in the East, own what happened to this small business owner.  Not that they care.  But it's worth noting they are responsible. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

When context helps a counterpoint

So Mark Shea blasted Ann Coulter's tweet that Mary and Joseph weren't refugees when they went to Bethlehem.  He calls her a liar who is removing part of the birth narrative from her Bible. 

I don't know the context of her tweet.  She is right to say that they were not, by any definition, a refugee family when they went to Bethlehem.  And if she was addressing those who show pictures of the Nativity scene, and declare the Holy Family to be refugees, then she is correct. 

If, however, she is deflecting from someone arguing that they were refugees on their flight to Egypt, then her tweet is rather pointless.  I would need to see the context.  I've seen several Nativity scenes over the last year with references to the Holy Family being refugees.  Technically, that is incorrect.  They would not fall into the category of refugee for a couple years, after the visit of the Magi, when the young Jesus was already an infant to toddler.  So conflating the birth and their refugee status is, technically, wrong.

I would at least need to know the context before moving to call someone a liar, or accuse them of dissecting the Scriptures.   It might be the ones who are guilty of manipulating the biblical narrative are the ones using the biblical stories to buttress their own opinions on the refugee issue.  For better than conflating the narratives, simply allowing refugees to enter into their homes would make a better witness to the importance of welcoming refugees.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The long reach of Star Wars

I've long said that the original Star Wars (sans "New Hope") was to movies what The Beatles were to popular music.  News like this continues to reinforce that.  A year ago, a man died in England.  It made the news.  Who was he?   I can't remember.  Never heard of him.  Why did it make the news?  Because the man, decades ago when he was a teenager, was one of the members of a small garage band called The Quarrymen.  Yep, John Lennon's original band.  That's phenomenon status.  When someone who worked with one of the Beatles makes news, that means The Beatles have a status surpassing mere celebrity.

Star Wars is the same.  Whether the actor who played Uncle Owen, or General Motti, or the Cantina bully with a death sentence on 12 systems, the slightest association with the original film will make news.  That's a phenomenon. 

Why Donald Trump won

There are two main reasons that Trump won: The duplicitous GOP that spent decades playing conservatives like fools, and the unparalleled haughtiness, intolerance and hubris of the Left.  Hillary lost because she ran a tortoise and the hare campaign.  Assured by all the major liberal institutions in the nation  that she would win, she didn't even bother thinking about a concession speech, much less waste time campaigning in areas the press insisted were guaranteed.

Still, it's not been an easy year.  The left pulled out all the stops and spent every day attacking Trump, ignoring victories, doubling down on accusations, and praying that something illegal can be found that will explain 2016.  Also, ugly elements on the Right appear emboldened and have been openly clashing with equally ugly elements on the Left. 

It being a midterm this year, and midterms historically going against a sitting president, there will be much made about Trump's inevitable doom after this coming November.  Perhaps he will fail.  So far, however, his failures seem more personality based, and his successes impressive.  Personality failures will do less harm to the nation than policy ones.

Not all of it is him, of course.  Others deserve credit and blame.  Nonetheless, expectations are crucial.  I remember when Reagan was supposed to destroy the economy and nuke the world.  Having done neither, he ended up looking rather good.   Obama, on the other hand, could never have lived up to the god-worship that was laid at his feet.  Already a sub-par president at best, with little real accomplishments to his presidency, Obama could have ended death and aligned the planets and it wouldn't live up to the hype.

There's still a sizable number of Americans who are of the Show-Me attitude.  Republicans bet the farm on opposing Trump and siding with the Democrats, and began to pay the price.  Possibly because of that, Trump was able to get the significant tax bill passed with their reluctant support.  If companies do allow the benefits to trickle down, if salaries increase and jobs are created and companies don't turn around and up the prices to balance it out (negating the benefits for the average worker), it will help Trump in the upcoming elections.

In terms of foreign policy, Trump's successes are many, but the press has done a fine job neutering the impact by largely ignoring the results.  There are still many I've talked to who are unaware that ISIS has been all but eliminated in several of its strongholds, when only a couple years ago ISIS was spoken of as the new normal.  China is becoming more directly involved in North Korea, and that has been the key to resolving that decades long mess.  Trump showed the laughable cowardice of the West by creating outrage when he called Israel's capital Jerusalem Israel's capital.  And he has stopped the 20 year long tendency of allowing America to get sand kicked in its face, much to the chagrin of the Left that loves seeing America get sand kicked in its face.

So we'll see.  Nonetheless, here are some reminders about why we have a man like Trump in the White House to begin with (much of it being from the Left, expect plenty of language and vulgarities - you know, from the side that called Trump offensive and vulgar):

HT: Donald McClarey

All Twelve Days of Christmas

A primer.  John C. Wright lists out, with some humor, the Feast Days that comprise the Twelve Days of Christmas, their meaning and a custom here or there.

Growing up, my Dad especially went out of his way to make sure we had a 'big Christmas.'  At least in the American, worldly, commercial sense.  Not that I minded.  Plus, I understood why, even as a kid.  When he was young, he had what we would call nowadays an 'abusive' father.  An alcoholic, he also struggled financially through the Great Depression.  As such, my Dad not only had little in terms of commercial items, but his Dad didn't believe in wasting money on things like Christmas trappings.  An ironing board substituted for a tree to place what little they got on December 25.

Even when my Dad got a job at a lumber yard when he was fourteen to help the family, it didn't change.  When he was seventeen, he wiggled into a position on the Erie Railroad - a job he would go back to until he retired.  With the substantial money he then made, he bought a tree for his family - mostly because he didn't want my Mom to see his house without one when they were dating.  That wouldn't do.  His father came home in a drunk and threw the tree out in the yard, just before my Dad brought my Mom over to see it.  Such was Dad's life.

But neither Dad, nor any of his brothers, continued the trend.  All but the youngest brother had kids and were, by any measure, good dads.  My own Dad went out of his way to provide for us, albeit to the extent that he sometimes worked so much we seldom saw him.  But I find kids maintain a large degree of forgiveness if they sense the parent in question is trying to do the best for the kids.

Despite it all, they were still children of American Protestant Macy's Christmas traditions.  That is, four weeks of fun and anticipation and celebrations and parties and shopping and Santa and TV Specials and everything leading up to the crescendo on the morning of Christmas ... and then it's over.  In fact, I used to listen with dread to my Mom, with almost clockwork precision every year by Christmas evening, when she said," Well, it's all over for another year!". 

Of course our Christmas breaks would last until January 2.   We typically got a half day off before Christmas Eve, and then back the first school day after New Years.  So there was a fun factor involved that extended beyond Christmas day.  Nonetheless, as a holiday, the Christmas festival itself was over.  Christmas was done.  The tree would stay up for a few days and then gone.

So when I got married, one of the first things we did was stretch Christmas until New Years.  Being Baptist, my wife was a bit skittish about going full Twelve Days - a bit too Catholic.  But she was fine with making the whole week an elongated Christmas celebration.  Once we had kids and I was active in ministry, we stretched it out to Epiphany, as I used history lessons and biblical studies to justify the full season.

Coming into the Church finally gave us reason to do what we had done for years.  It wasn't without adversity, and there were those in our churches who, when they got word we did anything Christmasy after the 25th, got concerned about our cosying with papists.  The same was said whenever I brought up Advent.  But I must admit, it's refreshing and somewhat counter-cultural to actually get up on the 26th and still wish the family a Merry Christmas.

Pope Francis says keep Christ in Christmas

Yep.  You heard that right.  For years, post-Conservatives have proudly joined the secular, non-Christian Left in mocking the whole 'war on Christmas' and 'culture wars.'  This laughable notion that we should care that our society demanded the Christian element of the Christmas holiday be eliminated from public acknowledgement was condemned by those wishing to separate themselves from those defending the traditions of the Christian West.

From Mark Shea to Southern Baptist ethics leader Russel Moore, open contempt for those bothered by this push to silence the Christian elements of Christmas has become almost a confession of the post-traditional Faith.  It was a way to say "we're not like those non-liberal types over there."

And now, suddenly, Pope Francis has jumped in an echoed - what those bemoaning the secularization and elimination of Christ from Christmas have been lamenting.  He's not alone.  I've met several over the years from other countries who were shocked that American Christians  seem to easily accept being pushed around and out the door of public discourse and celebration. 

Will this become a wake up call for the Christians who have been fighting the Long Retreat over the years?  Those who figure the Left has won, the West is dead, and it's best to cozy up to the new power as best we can, and that might include avoiding the C-Word in Christmas settings on the off chance we offend someone who matters?  We'll see.  I've noticed that for a pope who is adored and loved by the majority, there seems to be about 1/2 of what he says that drops through the storm drains. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.   

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,  and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

O Come Emmanuel

It's almost here.  That best day of the year.  Truth be told, since I became a Christian, Easter overtook Christmas as my favorite time of year.  It remains so to this day.  Nonetheless, Christmas is still that fusion of spiritual joy and worldly (in the good sense) happiness that makes it a close second.

I know the picture is a bit sentimental and certainly not accurate on a biblical level, but as I've written elsewhere, the magi journeying through the deserts to find Jesus always held a special place in my mind and heart, even as a non-believer.

Our Christmas television traditions

Christmastime, surpassed only by the endless supply of horror films that fit in nicely with Halloween, is a time to spend with the family, catching those little TV specials that make the season bright.  We do other things when possible, but when finances, or just fortune, cut those out (as in this year), we still have these to lean on.  We read as well, and do other things, and of course the hub of the Church around which Advent should be turning, but the Christmas specials were a big part of my life growing up, and some of them actually connected me to the Faith, albeit loosely, as I was growing up.

The list below is the made for TV specials we try to watch every year, if possible.  It does not include our Church activities, going to the Nutcracker, or movies like It's a Wonderful Life or any one of a thousand versions of A Christmas Carol.  It's mainly the made for TV Christmas specials that I watched growing up, that we made a ritual for our kids, and sometimes as an object lesson about how to do Christmas right or wrong.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
As I've said, the Citizen Kane of Christmas specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas has it all: Nostalgia, Americana, commercialism, humor, and yes, Christ.  Schultz's first foray into moving pictures, Charlie Brown posed no end of problems for the producers, but in the end, it all worked.  As in all things, some of the specifics are debated.  Some say Schultz didn't want Vince Guaraldi's legendary jazz soundtrack, while others insist that Schultz was a jazz fan and wanted both his beloved classical music and jazz to figure in the special.  The minute long reciting of Luke 2 is the stuff of television legend, and marks the crescendo of the entire special.  It is a well written show, and probably the all around best Christmas special that has ever been produced for television.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Following fast on Charlie Brown's successful footsteps, Chuck Jones took Seuss's children's book and put it into Warner Bros form.  An elderly Boris Karloff provides the vocal talent, and the impossibly bass Thurl Ravenscroft performs the songs.  Like Charlie Brown, it is a warning against seeing Christmas a the 'gift getting' season, and points us to a deeper meaning.  It being Seuss, the meaning is never explicitly stated.  Nonetheless, like Charlie Brown, the show actually manages to build to a climax that makes the Grinch's revelation almost goose-bump inducing.  A nice way for Karloff to cap off a celebrated career, and in terms of TV Christmas specials, second only to Charlie Brown's first outing.

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
This was the first children's television special as we think of them.  Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass teamed up to produce this creatively animated special inspired by the 1930s book and subsequent song.  Rankin and Bass are to children's television specials what the Apostle Paul is to the New Testament.  Expect their names to figure prominently.  They also go a long way toward reminding their young audiences that Christmas does in fact come from a store.  Or at least the North Pole.  No mangers, Jesus, Mary, God, Wise Men or the slightest biblical reference here.  It's just the story of the eponymous reindeer and his single handed ability to save Christmas.  Great vocal talent, Burl Ives, fun characters, and impressive animation techniques keep this one high on the list.  Released in 1964 at the height of Beatlemania, the message of non-conformity and bucking the system would not have been lost on the original viewers.

The Little Drummer Boy
Not as crisply produced as other Rankin and Bass specials, this is notable for being about the only other special to make the Nativity close to the main focus.  It is a faux story of the Little Drummer Boy.  In this version, the boy's parents were killed by bandits - hefty stuff for a special aimed at the little ones - and grows to hate all people.  Alas for him, but he is kidnapped by a wily desert performer (wonderfully voiced by Jose Ferrer) and made to play his magical drum for all the people he hates.  Eventually, after meeting the three kings of Orient, he is freed, only to make his way to Bethlehem and experience the power of love and forgiveness.  Not the best animation, and no particularly memorable songs.  Nonetheless, the nighttime desert atmosphere works, and the message at least comes close to reminding us that Christmas has something to do with that babe in a manger.

Santa Clause is Coming to Town
Kris Kringle meets Woodstock.  Rankin and Bass again, this time to weave the biography of Santa Clause around the values and ideals of the emerging counterculture.  Santa is a rebel.  He comes to Sombertown, where the Burgermeister Meisterburger (who doesn't remember that name?) basically keeps everyone miserable.  Life is about conformity, dressing in muted grays, and keeping socks clean.  In walks Kris, with his bright red hair and gaudy clothes, immediately challenging that button down, conformist society.  The usual stock of R&B voice performers are here, joined by Micky Rooney as Kris and Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock, as well as Fred Astaire as the narrator.  It reeks of 60s motifs, and includes one of the most tripped out hippy songs in any Christmas special ever.   Unlike Rudolph, however, it gives at least a few nods to the Christmas story, Christmas Eve, and the holiest night of the year.  Plus it has some wonderful toe tappers to keep the story going.

Twas the Night Before Christmas
A later cartoon special by Ranking/Bass.  This one has not aged well.  It is mentioned here only because, as a youngster, any special about Christmas was enough to get the blood pumping in anticipation of that day around which our kiddy calendars forever rotated.  The point is a mouse disbelieves in Santa, and sends a letter to Santa expressing his views.  This causes Santa some form of PTSD or something, and Santa says he's out of here, and won't come back, leaving it up to the mouse to right the wrong by fixing a special clock tower that was supposed swoon Santa back into bringing toys to the little girls and boys.  Yeah.  As I said, really reaching.

Frosty the Snowman
This has become an annual ritual at our house.  We could watch this entire special on mute.  Most of it is spent with us shouting at it and poking fun at so many of the hilariously flawed elements of the 'story' (for instance, exactly why does the train have to stop?).  The story is threadbare, with Frosty coming to life thanks to a magician's hat.  Chaos ensues as the magician wants his hat back once he sees its effect on Frosty, and a young girl helps Frosty escape to the North Pole before dinner.  The most fun we have is watching how the show tries desperately to shoehorn Christmas into a show based on a song with not the slightest mention of Christmas in its lyrics.  To be honest, by now, I can barely remember the dialogue, as it's mostly the boys injecting their own theological and psychological interpretations of the show's silly delivery. 

The Year Without a Santa Clause
By now, R&B's whole 'there is no Christmas without Santa' began to wear thin.  This was getting toward the end of the Christmas Special era, and it shows.  Micky Rooney returns to voice Santa, who is just tired of the whole Santa gig.  He decides to 'cancel Christmas'.  Because if Santa isn't giving us presents, is there really any point in the holiday?  The premise is lame, and the story a snoozer.  The only saving grace - the only thing that makes it worth watching - are two out of the box show stoppers by a couple of laughably written characters.  Voiced by Broadway staple George Irving and hilarious character actor Dick Shawn, these two songs make the entire show worth the watch.  Or you can skip it and just catch them on Youtube:

Homesick for heaven

Or that strange, yearning feeling you get around Christmastime, even if you're an agnostic.  I can speak to that, by the way.  But why waster your time, when John C. Wright does it much better.  Read it here, and enjoy. 

One of the best pop culture Christmas tributes


I'm not sure if I'm supposed to post this or not.  I know Watterson is awfully protective of his intellectual property, and rightly so.  Calvin and Hobbes was one of the best comic strips of all time.  This full page pane always struck the right chord, and whisked you back to childhood and all the memories that came with the holiday in America, for good or bad.

It reminds me of a post over at The American Catholic a week or so ago, and one I posted years ago.  My boys often ask me if the culture was still so 'Christmas is good' when I was growing up.  Did it really have Jesus songs as  matter of course, and still talk of Merry Christmas as a given and a general unifier in our country?   Yes, I tell them.  Believe it or not, I'm old enough to remember when Christmas, like so many other things, wasn't a a source of divisions and disunity.

There is, after all, such a thing as happier times. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Leftist dreams and stranger things

A movie expressing the longing of the modern left, whereby the Left sues the Catholic Church for not converting to the Leftist gospel.  In this case, since the Church doesn't allow women to be priests, it is sued by the heroic and always tolerant and diverse Left.

Chaos ensues as religious fanatics dare to insist they have a right to their own beliefs.  Naturally some really bad religious types try to murder the hapless woman wishing to be a priest.  After all, Christians murdering people over the faith is one of the greatest security threats in the world today.   Refusing all attempts to compromise, the heroic lawyer and priestess wannabe are ready for a fight all the way to impose their values and beliefs on the Catholic Church.  With the emergent Left, there is no compromise.  There is only victory.

Ah, the dreams of the Left. The only problem is that modern Christians are still operating under the assumption that this is the Left that used to talk of things like tolerance, diversity, live and let live, respect different views and be super nice to everyone.  That Left - if it ever really existed at all - is long extinct.  The emergent Left is a Marxist based, Bolshevik inspired Leftist movement that seeks to be what all leftist revolutions of the last century have been, and that's a plague of locusts that seeks to devour and destroy everything in its path.

Will Church leaders used to suffering for Christ with six digit incomes and invites to all the best parties with the nation's beautiful people wake up in time?  Hard to say.  But see this movie if you have a chance.  It's a pep rally film for the Left, but it also shows the mentality of the same Left and its ultimate designs for all people in the world, not just the Catholic Church.

Oh brother

You know you live in a warped time where a season like Christmas brings more stories about stress than joy, and the prospect of indulging in a sumptuous feast of dainties and splurging is met with calls to eat carrots instead.  Look people, there is nothing wrong with feasting, eating junk, candy or mince meat pies - if done with the proper level of moderation.  You wouldn't want to have a diet of them, but on occasion or once  year, it's no big deal.

Problem is, too many have their diets centered on junk, candy or foods that make mince meat pies seem healthy by comparison. Why?  If I may, probably for two or three reasons.  One, stagnant wages and increased prices where unhealthy, processed food is far more accessible than healthy foods.  Second, most families have two working parents, if they have two parents at all, and there just isn't anyone around with the time to cook well balanced, healthy meals on a regular basis.  Finally, the fact that life continues to be more and more hectic, despite all the time saving devices we keep inventing (bonus: note how we almost never call anything a time saving device anymore).  And a hectic life makes healthy eating tough, unless your hectic life has brought with you the ability to employ a personal chef. 

Nonetheless, take a chill pill.  Just tell people, or Santa if you will, to eat in moderation.  There will be plenty of days for salads and carrots and grazing in the front yard.  Let the world have a chance to celebrate and rejoice with great feasting, for the reason for our joy has come.

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. 

To compare America's prison system to the Soviet Gulags

Is to mock the memory of the millions who suffered and died in the actual Gulags.  It's a trait of the modern left to make America into the worst, most evil and wretched civilization that has ever existed.  Sure Nazi Germany had its problems, but thank goodness it wasn't America!

A priest visiting from Africa noticed that tendency while he was studying here.  He said that so many Americans seem to want America to be worse than it was.  Or is. Of course he didn't think in terms of liberal or conservative.  He merely noted, with some confusion, that Americans bend over backward to elevate America's evils at the expense of its blessings.  So we heave endless scorn and hatred on America for its tens, while ignoring or even pardoning anywhere else in the world for their tens of millions.

Right there, if for no other reason, do I  hesitate when it comes to listening to modern liberalism. Trashing on the most prosperous and free country in history is easy, especially when you know you won't pay for it, and if you're wrong it will be future generations that pay the piper.

Because God makes people gay

It should come as no surprise that when a Catholic priest tells his Catholic congregation he is gay, he receives a standing ovation.

He goes on to explain what the Church is increasingly teaching - that if you're gay it's because God made you that way.  Homosexuality is no longer a disordered appetite, it's a gift from God.  Of course no actual physical penetration is allowed.  Other than that, however, it's everything Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew would say about same sex attraction.

The Church, as far as I know, is still out when it comes to the transgender issue.  Mostly, at this point, if you verbally question the modern approach to sexuality you're accused of wanting to murder LGBTQ individuals.  Which shuts down debate.

All of this comes from that dance that the Church is doing with the post-Christian, secular Left.  I'm sure the Church will survive the long term, but it would be nice if the Church wouldn't lean on that promise to downplay the short term spiritual ramifications of such an unholy compromise.

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Christmas memories

I remember this:

Kasey Kasem, the man with the million dollar voice.  In high school his Top 40 was required listening.  Most of my friends went to church, so I was able to get a head start on the weekly program since all but the top ten took place before noon on Sundays.

In the mid 80s, I saw this special on TV.   The part (around 23:20) in which he describes, as only his golden voice could, a tale about French and Germany soldiers singing carols during battle, especially caught my attention.  Still a proud 80s liberal hedonist, I didn't believe in the divine aspects of the Christian Faith, but I didn't hate it either.  There was always something there, in the faintest corner of my mind, saying that it would be a better world if it was true.

That part of the special stuck with me.  The rest of it is fun, if for nothing else the nostalgia and some of the commercials.  And Alvin and the Chipmunks  But for me, back then, it was Kasem relating that story of peace in the midst of war that stuck and always bounced about inside my thinking whenever Christmastime rolled around.  It still does.


Because Jesus said it would happen, that's why.  He did not say that people would hate Him because of those Christians over there.  That is a common temptation: to assume it's those Christians over there whose bad witness is giving Jesus a black eye.  Goodness knows I've succumbed to that temptation once or twice before.

And it's not to downplay the importance of a good witness.  And generally our witness is best when we do the work of the Faith: love, charity, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, helping the widow and orphan, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, and doing all in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Nonetheless, despite it all, Jesus assured us that the world would hate us because it hated Him first.  While we can scoff at Church Militant, Michael Voris, or any particular expression of Christianity, we're also being fools if we think that it's their particular witness that is causing all this.  Unless Jesus just had rocks in His head, there's a good chance that had Voris never been born, the same protesters would gladly hate Christ's and His Church on other grounds.

No.  Thinking that if we just do it right then all will work and the world will convert and we'll do what nobody from the Apostles down through today could accomplish, is borderline hubris at best.  It also seems to ignore a big part of the Apostolic teaching about the price we pay for following Christ.

This isn't to say we just throw our hands up and consign future generations of Christians to suffering we never had to endure.  As beneficiaries of a free and democratic society, we are obliged to protect religious freedom and, indeed, all liberty for all people as long as we can. 

It's just to remind us that when we see overt hatred of the Gospel, of God, of Christ, or of Christ's Church, we shouldn't immediately look around and wonder who is the cause.  Dare I say, if we do that, there is a good chance that we need to look no farther than the nearest mirror to find out whose fault it is.  Since we likely forget who it was that promised us hatred from the world to begin with.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.  Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.'  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.  If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.  They will treat you this way because of me name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 
John 15: 18-21

Friday, December 22, 2017

Is this a put on?

I don't tweet (thank goodness), so I don't know.  So far, the lengthy and celebrated Trump investigations have yielded dozens of non-smoking guns and non-bombshells, but plenty of cases that suggest wrong doing on the part of the DOJ, the Democrats and the FBI, among others.  Not that they are guilty, but it's been tough getting the press, and therefore the American people, behind a push to look into the growing pile of revelations that make the whole process look like a big pile of smelly rubbish. 

Or it could be a put on.  We'll see.

I know this is old

But it still cracks me up:

I can't tell how many I ran into at Patheos who appeared to think that this is sound reasoning.

Losing the war

By winning a skirmish.  Here, we have pro-life Obama supporter Michael Wear explain why he voted for radically pro-choice Doug Jones.  Because Roy Moore is a sexual pervert child rapist.  Sure, there are other reasons, but let's face it, that was the albatross around Moore's neck that did him in.  Do we know that he is guilty?  Well, no.  But since obviously women never lie, and since it's also impossible to make credible false accusations, what other possibility is there?  That he wasn't proven guilty is almost proudly admitted by those who stamped the sexual pervert symbol on his forehead.

Thankfully, Christians, Catholics, religious leaders and pundits all agreed that presumption of innocence only exists in our courtrooms - for now.  Outside the courts, your butt belongs to, well, whoever thinks you're a freak and a sideshow to begin with.

With little effort, the progressive establishment convinced a respectable number of non-liberal leaders and voices to forgo the notion that proof, evidence or facts are needed before destroying a person's life.  We must accept a nation where if the press and the liberal establishment want a person destroyed, then destroyed he must be.  This whole presumption of innocence has got to go.  Outside of the courtrooms for now of course.  The courts will take care of themselves down the road.

This is what is called winning a diversionary skirmish while losing the war.  Personally, at this point, I hope Moore is guilty.  I hope he did assault a sixteen year old and try to have sexual relations with an underage girl.  Because if he didn't, the blood of  his ruined reputation is on the hands of every conservative, Republican, religious leader, pundit, apologist, and activist who rushed to build the scaffolding and tie the knot around his neck without all that pesky evidence and proof.

That is why, in contrast, I hear what Mary Franson is saying.
"A man's life was destroyed in AL. 40 years ago he met with minors alone and they recently accused him of horrendous actions. In the world of we must believe every sexual harassment claim, I would think my approach is beyond reasonable. All it takes is one perceived action and my life is destroyed. The life of my family is destroyed. That is a risk I will not take. I have spoken to numerous adults about this situation. They all agree that me meeting alone with minors is not appropriate."
She is backing out of a meeting with students.  And why not?  An accusation now, or fifty years from now, might be good enough to ruin her.  I've told my sons that, if I were them, I would draw a circle of protection around myself in the workplace, or any place, and not let women within five feet of me.  I certainly wouldn't be around anyone under age at this point.  After all, Moore was destroyed based only on accusations from events 40 years old.  No credible physical evidence was produced.  Testimony by friends of the accusers was used.  Evidence that they might have known Moore was all that was needed to make the accusations 'credible'.  Think on that.  All they had to do was show they might have known Moore, and it was enough to destroy him.

Many of the calls for Moore to step down came within 24 hours of the accusations being published, so his subsequent stumbling and bumbling had nothing to do with it.  Those who called for him to step down before he had a chance to respond wanted him to step down, and were fine with a nation where lives are ruined without proof or evidence.  Because for all the rhetoric and attempts to move it back to Moore's policy positions (for those even trying to justify what happened), it was nothing but saying we'll take anything to stop him, even if it means wrongful sentencing based on false accusations.

This is what happens when punditry replaces principle.  When McCarthy ran amok, it was enough that he was smacked down in the name of decency.  When you no longer have a nation with a concept of decency, no concept of common good or unity, no idea of morality or principles, then you no longer care if right or wrong is occurring, or justice is done. I echo the wonderfully delivered question by the late, great Raul Julia in the 1990 film Presumed Innocent.  Roy Moore's reputation is dead.  His career ruined.  He has been hung with a label as deadly as Communist or homosexual was in the 1950s.  But in the end, was justice done?

Or more to the point, in the end, do we even care?  Do the conservatives, Republicans, religious leaders, pundits, apologists and activists even care?  I fear we've seen individuals with no stomach to resist the coming storm take a larger step forward in sealing our society's fate than anything a Democrat, Republican, politician or president could hope to do in pushing us down a path toward the end of liberty and freedom.  Only if Moore is shown to be guilty can we hope for a different end.  And that's a disturbing thing to have to hope for.

Now let's see if they follow through

I'd be OK with that.  Trump increasingly represents those who want to call it like it is, rather than like it ain't.  When he said the US will call Jerusalem what it is, and that's the capital of Israel, and we'll therefore move the embassy because it makes sense, the world freaked out.  Because the world is having a ball kicking sand in the face of the dying West, and insisting we continually call squares round and ham kosher or else.

Ambassador Haley said we will note who votes against the US in this 'call it like it ain't' vote at the UN.  Exactly what was meant, we don't know.  Many have assumed it means next time the world comes to our door begging for handouts that we ever and always give, this time we might shut the same door.

In some ways, I'm OK with that.  Christian charity and humility does not mean being a doormat.  And being a giving nation -which the US is almost always near the top of most charitable nations on the planet - doesn't mean letting people kick us, hit us, spit on us and then demand we keep giving to causes that are sometimes against our own interests.  That's more akin to the battered wife syndrome than dignity or regard for human life. 

Think of this.  Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.  Several presidents said they would say as much, but backed down.  Because of pressure from the international community and threats of potential violence, we decided that telling O'Brien he had five fingers would be good for future relations and the non-existent peace process we insist exists because we say so.

I'm not sure what to think about Trump.  I don't want to like him, or support him.  He has done and said too many things I find abhorrent.  He represented, in many ways, the worst of both the left and right stereotypes through my years of growing up.  And yet he is dealing with a real world that exists, and calling spades spades, and telling it like he sees it.  It's as if we're used to a world where we lie, tell lies, celebrate lies, and use lies to avoid things like confronting real evil and threats to our posterity.  It's almost as if we just hope whatever goes down does so after we're dead and gone.  And we were content with the status quo in the meantime.

And suddenly here comes Trump.  Whether it will work or not, I don't know.  Most of the push back comes from [former?] allies, Americans, and "conservatives" as much as any.  We'll see.  Perhaps we've come to the point where we like the lies, because they are easier to live with than the troublesome truths.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Another reminder about why Trump won

This post popped up on my visited posts today.  That happens.  Every now and then some old post will be visited, and it will pop up on my dashboard. 

Anyway, it is a post I did reflecting on how Obama could have a 43% approval rating when, by 2014, it was clear things were unraveling.  Obamacare brought as many problems as solutions, our foreign policy was in tatters, domestic strife, racial tensions, and general infrastructure were a mess.  Our VA hospitals had become the disgrace of the nation.  And our economic recovery continued to crawl along, getting better by half steps while a growing number of Americans were falling behind.  How could a president in the midst of this warrant a 43% approval?

Easy, the press was there to stir up Obama-worship, and attack as racists all who questioned Obama's efficacy and industry.  In the post is a little reminder of the God-praise that was given to Obama over the previous years, when he was declared the first person in history who God prays to everyday (read the quotes, they're hilarious in a 'creepy cultist' sort of way).  And, of course, if you questioned it you were a racist.

The thing is, I don't think nearly as many Americans bought the emperor's new clothes as the media driven Obama tent revival suggested.  In fact, so wrong were they, that the result ended up being Donald Trump.  I don't think it was because Trump was Trump, and sometimes I don't think it was because Hillary was Hillary.  I think many simply refused to pull a lever for another candidate who would be placed between the horns of the alter and lifted up in another cult of personality by the media that is supposed to protect us from the same.  I think anyone not associated with Obama would, in the end, have had the advantage. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Time will tell

I have little to say about the GOP/Trump tax bill.  I'm not an economist, nor am I a prophet.  I have little confidence that the average American will see long term benefits, if any at all.  Corporate America doesn't exist in a vacuum, and today the social context emphasis is on hedonism and narcissism.  I've long said you can't split people in terms of morality.  If you let people insist that what goes on in their bedroom is only about them and what they want, then it won't take long for them to conclude that what goes on in the boardroom is only about them and what they want just the same.  Worrying about how things impact others will be as common as thinking how one's personal life impacts others.

Today, wages are stagnant, and that's the mischief behind our economic woes.  The fact is, people had much more buying power 50 years ago than today.  Stagnant wages means less buying power, and less taxes (blood from turnips and all).  I know some will argue it's all the government's fault, what with taxes and regulations.  I just can't help but notice that each time an attempt has been made to loosen those same taxes and regulations, there is no real movement from the top to make sure the excess trickles down into the little people's tin cups. 

If the bill passes and in a year that changes, then that will be good news for the GOP and Trump.  If the bill passes, and suddenly wages begin to go up and more money is in the pocket of the average American, then Democrats had better start shuddering.  If, however, we only see Wall Street leap and bound ahead, while wages stay where they are now, which is where they were years ago, while cost of living continues to rise, then those who dread a Democratic majority will be the ones doing the shuddering.

Should NBC be responsible for ruining people's lives?

The WP, the vanguard of the American Pravda, dedicated to advancing the political Left at all costs, has run a piece about the toll that sexual assault took on a woman - at FOX News.  That's right. Even as more left wing pundits, journalists and pols fall to the sexual assault juggernaut, the WP realizes the importance of keeping one's eyes on the prize.  So it ignores the myriad leftists even now being accused of what they blasted Trump for, and goes back to the basics: attack non-conformism at all cost.

This reminds us that for all the fanfare, the modern Handmaid's Revenge is not - repeat, not - about women's welfare.  The same movement that a year ago had no problem telling women who were concerned about the sudden Transgender friendly legislation to shut up and stop being the bigots they are, will have no problem throwing the same women under the bus (if not in the bed) when they are no longer useful for anything else.

Right now, the Russian investigation continues to find out more that is wrong with the Democrats or the investigators than Trump.  After a year of smoking guns that ended up with no smoke, the Left needed to turn to something, and those old accusations of sexual assault against Trump seemed as good as any.  Problem was, there became - for reasons nobody still agrees on - a sudden wave of women ready to get their pound of flesh from anyone and everyone.  The majority of those who have fallen to this new crusade are mostly big names in the world of pro-liberal Democrat interests.

OK, that was fine.  Most men accused have proven to be 'meh' when it comes to helping the liberal cause.  After all, they were all in charge of the press, Hollywood and millions of dollars in fundraising when Trump was elected.  No big loss if they hit the road.  Nonetheless, all of the accusations that, more often than not, expose men on the left does begin to raise questions about the Left's historical seriousness where women are concerned.  And so the WP got us back to the basics.

Meanwhile the post-Roy Moore (who, last I heard, has yet to be proven guilty) landscape sees a subtle shift among those who declared only purity of motives regarding the cause of women's welfare.  Even as some begin to regret their calls for Al Franken to resign (after the Moore defeat), or have Bill Clinton, recently called guilty of sexual misconduct by several liberals, now an honored guest at a liberal fundraiser (again, now that it's after the Moore defeat), I think there is plenty of reason to question the integrity of the current sex assault witch hunts.

This doesn't include the fact that some who are accused are now fighting back. Tavis Smiley is not going down easily and his defiance has caused an uneasy amount of debate about just when and how a man's life should be destroyed based on mere accusations sans evidence.  If he's lucky, now that Roy Moore is gone, the whole thing might just fade away, like so many values and morals trumpeted by the Left at any given moment.

And that will be a shame, since this entire travesty of sexual assaults is a mere tip of the human toll of the sex revolution.  What a world it would be if the Church saw the scope of the problem, rather than trotting along and trying to put a Gospel spin on a sliver of the problem that happens to be big for the time being because, in the end, it's convenient for the time being.

Monday, December 18, 2017

It isn't Santa's fault

Fr. Longenecker has a little piece looking at a recent poll about Christmas.  The poll finds that fewer people believe in certain elements of the Christmas story.  That's not surprising.  Against all logic, fundamentalist atheists have been able to inject doubt into whether there was a historical Jesus at all, much less how many of the biblical accounts of Him are true.

Likewise, let's face it, the Church has been fighting a defensive war against secularism for generations.  All of Christianity has been grappling with secular scholarship as it relates to the biblical world view.  Over the years, outside of a few fundamentalist traditions that might have gone to the opposite extreme, most Christians have conceded some level of the historical biblical account.

Contrary to what Mr. Longenecker says, it isn't Santa, or elves, or even talking snowmen that is to blame.  We have nothing compared to old eras when it comes to tossing around magical stories.  I can't remember ever thinking snowmen talk when I was a kid.  I might have believed in Santa Clause, but that was it. But it was Santa doing something magical in a world that increasingly said there was no such thing as magic, or miracles, or supernatural, or even God.

The problem isn't that we have Santa.  The problem is that we have Santa in a world that doesn't believe any of it.  Ages ago, the Christian world likely believed in  witches, Wise Men, Virgin Births, and the whole package, without believing in Santa, Krampus, and the gang.  They had no problem at all believing in miracles or various supernatural aspects of life, much less the historical accuracy of the Scriptures, while at the same time separating folklore and children's tales.  After all, olden parents knew the St. Nicholas gig just like parents today get the Santa gig (Spoiler: Parents put the presents under the tree, not Santa).  Yet they firmly believed in the biblical narrative with all its bells and whistles.

Nonetheless, somehow the Church, along with much of the Christian tradition, conceded ground in the grand debate.  Increasingly the Church finds modern, psychological or scientifically plausible explanations for miraculous biblical events, if it concedes them at all.

Some years ago, a priest friend asked me to give a talk on the Bible.  He offered me a book he had been reading.  It was written by a Catholic priest and professor.  It had an imprimatur and all the stamps of approval.  And it reflected a liberal scholarship that I seldom experienced outside of the most radical liberal Protestant denominations.  With the exception of the Resurrection, the Virgin Birth, and the Marian dogmas, there just wasn't much left in the Bible that was assumed to be real.  Even the dating of the NT texts was radical, conceding that several were likely penned well into the 2nd century.  And what of Apostolic authorship?  The Church just tossed that in there to give weight to the texts in question.

And that had an official stamp of approval from the Church.  If people see that, and hear that, and read that from the Church leadership, why would they ever imagine that such stories as the Wise Men or the Virgin Birth have any weight?  If we embrace a scientific world view sprinkled with a Resurrection here or a Transfiguration there, don't expect those to hold back the tidal wave of secularism assumed within that same scientific world view.  And that's those inside the Church.  What do we expect from those who exist outside the walls of the Faith?

No.  It's not Santa or Frosty or Marley's ghost who are the culprits.  It's that the world that gave us Santa and Frosty as we know it had already begun to jettison the world as understood by our Christian forebears.  And included in those who jettisoned that model of the world is none other than a sizable number of Christian leaders.  You can't water down heaven and hell, miracles and historical accounts as a matter of course, and then turn on a dime and pick your twelves stories of the Bible you insist are still just as the authors wrote them.  No amount of squaring that round peg is going to work.

Goldberg on Trump and Jerusalem

Jonah Goldberg is a Never Trumper and, as such, spends a great deal of his time scrutinizing the right, Trump supporters, Trump, and anything that will affirm his never Trumpism.  So when he pens something positive about a Trump move, I take notice.

Of course in many cases, what Trump does is govern based on reality in a world, or a least a dying civilization, that has gotten used to calling it like it ain't.  Let's face it, Obama was a bad president.  He accomplished nothing except one legislation that was two hits and two misses at best.  Mostly he governed according to the way he wanted things to be, rather than the way they were, letting Congress take the hard hits while relying on the press's willingness to entertain the charge of racism against anyone who questioned the president or his policies.

It was like the Clinton years, but worse, because you didn't have the injection of race into every conversion and debate for eight years under Clinton.  Also, because many of the faux realities clung to by the Left were showing themselves to be glaringly flawed, the drive to cover reality in lies and falsehoods became more flagrant.  And the more flagrant it became, the more used to seeing reality as unreality we got.

So when Trump made a symbolic statement that said squares are, in fact, square, and did was was true and legislated on the reality of the situation in the Middle East (what peace process?), the world went bat nuts.  Trump dared to say the emperor is naked, and it's time we buy him some clothes.

Unfortunately, much of the Western world has become content declaring the naked emperor's clothes to be the latest fashion.  This has been helped by other countries, non-Western countries, that might actually have ulterior motives that encourages them to support a false reality based on lies and fantasy.  How doggedly the dying West clings to old lies remains to be seen.  So many progressive ideals have failed so miserably when put into practice, lies (and accusations) are about all the Left has with which to defend itself.  We'll see.

Chick fil A hits a home run

During the big power outage at Atlanta's airport, the often embattled food chain stepped up and provided food for stranded passengers.  And yes, it was a Sunday.  That's what's called living the Gospel, rather than just talking it.

Of course the restaurant chain has been the target of many attempts to have it banned from various locations, venues, campuses and even cities.  This because of its stance on gay marriage.  Nonetheless, almost every time it comes to doing the right thing, it shows itself as a company founded on living the Golden Rule, rather than using it in debates. 

Well done Chick fil A.  That is a good witness.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Using the sex assault tidal wave to emasculate men

So CBS news just had a round table discussion last night with men taking part in "#MeToo".  I thought, when they first mentioned it, that it would be men who have experienced various forms of sexual harassment, lewd talk or direct threat by women of power, or at least in the workplace.   I know I've seen that over the years, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Nope, it was a bunch of men apologizing for being men, saying that men are just taught to treat women like scum from an early age because they are men, and it's time they realize that a girl in school next to them is just as strong and smart as they are.

That led one of my sons to ask if women are just as smart and strong as men, then why are they particularly vulnerable to men?  After all, if they're just as strong, then men have no special advantage over women?

Of course he was trying to use logic against a movement that abhors the same.  The point isn't whether or not they're being consistent, the point is that women get what they want.  Give the lady what she wants, went the old sales pitch.  And so it is, for the time being.  If women being the weaker sex who are vulnerable to men benefits women, then so it is.  If women being just as strong and completely equal and the same as any man benefits women, then so it is.  If that seems to contradict, then you're starting to figure out the essence of modern progressivism.

Right now, using a just anger against the worst expressions of a culture of sexual permissiveness has become, as do all things in the world of leftist politics, a club with which to bludgeon any traditional world view.  Men must go.  My wife - who is no slouch when it comes to being against sexual harassment - nonetheless, as a mother of four sons, is alarmed at the sudden 'women are always innocent and immaculately conceived, but men are usually scum and it's time to do something about it' attitude.  That so many men are embracing the same attitude doesn't comfort her.

Where the Church will fall on this, I don't know.  You can't deny the obvious problems with sexual assault, rape and misconduct, either through the ages or in recent years of culturally celebrated sexual debauchery. We should't deny any of it of course, and that includes when aimed at men.  Nonetheless, the growing narrative that somehow women are always perfect, honest, innocent and victims of #evilmen, should right away set off alarm bells and whistles.  Remember, a good cause can be hijacked by a corrupt movement.  This could be a grand example of such a sad historical truth.

Jimmy Kimmel declares the end of civilization as we know it

Kimmel, who like the rest of the late night "comedians" is now a devoted mouthpiece for the Democratic party establishment, says that ending Net Neutrality will, well, do something cataclysmic.  It's all over.  We're all going to die.  Or something.  As comedians, they reserve the right to play fast and loose with facts since they're just comedians (wink, wink). 

I think the press's and pop culture's dogged devotion to the leftist political agenda, and its tendency to utilize hysterics, hyperbole, demagoguery, and allow such to be the basis for debating policy, has had an impact on the national psyche.  If you constantly hear variations on 'this is it, we're all doomed', it has to have some bearing on the day to day life of people. 

Maybe someday we'll return to a time where we can debate such things as adults and it won't always involve our eternal destinies, but I don't see it changing anytime soon. 

For the Star Wars hajj

I link to a post I wrote for the last Star Wars film.  I'm sure the devoted fanboys will declare it hte greatest Star Wars film of all time.  That's something that Fanboys are known for.  The latest whatever is the most awesome example of awesomeness, in the awesome history of awesomely defining the awesome word awesome. At least until the next movie they like comes out. 

Whatever it is, it will never match the impact of the original, as every movie, Star Wars sequels or otherwise, has discovered.

In a world where humans are a threat to the planet

And obese people were finally called fat slobs again because of the cost on healthcare, don't be shocked that in good old Europe - dream land of socialized medicine - we have a handy explanation for the financial burden of people with Down Syndrome.

Yep, you heard that right.  Merry Christmas!  Here's how much people with Down Syndrome cost. Logical conclusions to follow shortly.  We often forget that the Nazis were not some freakish exception to the post-Christian European intellectual landscape of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  We tend to downplay the fact that, among not a few thinkers of the day, humans were nothing but glorified animals, a view that received a tremendous boost from Darwin.  All they had to do was puzzle over what the ramifications were.

Those of us alive now know some of those ramifications.  But it is a curse of the modern progressive world that our generational arrogance is at such stratospheric levels that we actually believe we can do the evils of yesterday and this time it will be just swell.  Hence the growing love for censorship, government mandated morality, propaganda, violence and destruction in the name of political causes, once reviled by the Left, now embraced and justified by the same.

But this should send anyone screaming out into the streets.  This is exactly how the Nazis did it.  They seized upon the intellectual cloud of the day - that is, now that humans are animals what does that mean? - and added their own stamp.  In our case, the intellectual cloud is 'we know humans are a threat to the planet and each other, so what do we do about it?'.  Now that the gentleman is able to explain the financial burden of imperfect people, we shouldn't have to be too creative to see where it can lead.

I realize conservatism can often be wrong.  As often as not, it's wrong because it won't admit to changes that are needed.  And, of course, it can at times find fellowship with others who conserve things that should never be conserved.

Nonetheless, the emergent Left is a force of evil.  It is heresy, blaspheme, tyranny and pure evil, plain and simple.  It almost joyously looks to the fathers of 20th century terror and suffering for inspiration, and is increasingly open in its willingness to use whatever means necessary to eliminate all who stand in its way.  And its goals are clear: tyranny and oppression, extermination and violence.  If we let this horse out of the stable, it will be on us.  At least the world in the last century had no reason to see it coming.  We have them.  What will be our excuse?

Oh, and another reason I left Patheos?  Because there would be visitors - not just trolls who would argue Hitler to win an blog debate - who would defend this.  I have better places to be than one that approaches future genocide with an antiseptically balanced appraisal.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Rethinking the Mueller investigation

By someone with more credentials to speak to the issue than me.

I'm sure if Trump fired Mueller it would be political suicide.  Nonetheless, it doesn't take a fool to see that there are serious problems with the investigation as things have been revealed.  Beyond the fact that we've found out as many stinky things regarding the Democrats and their election hijinks, there has been enough to raise serious questions about the investigation's objectivity.  I mean, as much as I understand a Democrat congressman going to bat for someone who applied vulgar insults to the First Lady and her family, I think there is a line where objectivity and opinions clash. 

Again, the legalities are beyond me, and I won't say what should happen.  But my hunch is that some form of rethinking or rewinding is in order here.  At least in a country that cares about truth and right or wrong.

Call me commercial

 But I still love this version of this "Christmas" song:

Of course the song has little to do with Christmas.  But how often is an orchestrated instrumental version of a popular song considered as good, if not better, than the actual song?  Johnny Mathis's version is about the best vocal, but let's face it, how many listen to this version and don't tap their feet?

My thoughts exactly

Yep.  Every year we have to endure invasion of endless critters.  I'm not arachnophobic.  I don't fear spiders.  Don't like them, but don't fear them.  In fact, I have a 'rule of thumbnail' rule.  That is, a spider smaller than my thumbnail can stay, since it will help with other critters.  Nonetheless, I have my limits. 

And this year saw those limits pushed.  About two months ago, when it gets bad as everything is coming indoors due to the weather, I saw the largest spider I've ever seen outside of a zoo or Scifi movie.  On the wall, it's legs stretched almost to the size of the palm of my hand.  I didn't bother to get a camera or take a pic.  I know Steve Irwin would disapprove, but it was toast.  So if Thor wanted to add lightning to the campaign, I'd welcome it. Given what it took to put that particular specimen out of commission, the lightning would have helped.

Identity politics ruins everything

Rod Dreher explains.  Rod came in for some pretty rough ribbing over his book The Benedict Option.  Mr. Dreher basically sees a coming storm.  This storm involves a coming persecution against the Church and its faithful, and a reaction that will include the faithful abandoning the Faith by droves.

Of course there is always a storm cloud on the horizon.  When I was in high school, back in the year 1984, guess who the pop culture assessment of Big Brother was?  That would be Reagan and the Conservatives, who were out to put us back to a country of lynchings and back alley abortions, when they weren't busy nuking the world for the American Way.  Our destruction was imminent.  And in the meantime, vans with tinted windows would slide up the the curb, and out would jump a half dozen men in suits and sunglasses, ready to whisk away all dissenters to some hidden concentration camp in the Nevada deserts.  That was a common theme and concern.

So it shouldn't be surprising that, given the leaps and strides of progress that liberalism has made in the last dozen years, those who are unwilling to conform or compromise will see dark clouds on the same horizon.  What we know is that eventually someone will be right.  Unless the world ends soon, eventually dark clouds will arrive and burst, and someone's fears about the end of the United States republic as we know it will be validated.

In the meantime, while I'm at pains to remember times in the 80s when people actually were taken away because they resisted Reagan, or that Reagan and his cronies nuked the world, I must say it's easier to see the warning signs today.  We've come to a point where liberalism no longer sees itself as liberal, but merely as True.  And therefore, it thinks nothing of mandating its truth through legislation, and punishing those who reject the truth.

We went in a couple decades from gays just wanting to live and let live to legally punishing those who won't take part in gay weddings.  We went from saying the bedroom is nobody's business to saying everyone must pay for what people do in that same bedroom, under threat of government retribution.  We went from being told that there is such a thing as boys and girls, to being told sex is non-existent outside the mind and it might be time to punish those who think otherwise.  And, of course, we're increasingly told there was little to nothing in this nation's past worth celebrating, and those who would find the good in its heritage equate to Nazis and should be treated accordingly, as all evidence of the country's past is increasingly sent to the broom closet.  If that includes ending this notion of free speech, so be it.

So it wouldn't be surprising that, if this trend continues, those whose faith traditions don't own up to these new values will be forced to compromise or will pay the piper.  Given that most who boldly insist that we must prepare to suffer for Jesus come are Christian leaders and pundits living high in a nation of prosperity and freedom, it makes you wonder how prepared they will be if the situation actually changes.  Martyrdom is easy to discuss around glasses of Champagne.  It's certainly easy if we embrace martyrdom by proxy, where we define our courage by our willingness to let others in the future suffer for our righteousness.  It's quite another thing to deal with when it actually happens.

Mr. Dreher is simply looking at one possible reality.  That so many scoffed at him outright suggests they are either trusting in their power of compromise, possibly the power of the Gospel to convert, or are in denial of the reality of every age: that all we enjoy today can be gone tomorrow.  And if it doesn't happen to us, then consider our posterity.  Just remember when the Olympic Committee of 1936 expressed its resounding joy in anticipation of the 1940 Olympics.  Turns out, there were no 1940 Olympics.  No 1944 Olympics either.  Just tens of millions dead and new tyrannies and terror states to threaten prosperity and freedom for a hundred years.   I'll bet a few years earlier, few would have imagined it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Catholic author rejoices as pro-abortion rights Democrat wins election

See how easy that is?  Nothing at all wrong with the headline, is there?  Just read the post.  Mark is giddy that Moore lost.  Nonetheless, I'm sure for Mark, the point is that Moore lost, not that radically pro-abortion rights Democrat Jones won.  But it shows the danger in not being charitable in how we frame things.  We can frame truth in a way that is false or accusing.  Or even slanderous.  A word of warning:  It's not that lies are sinful as much as truth is preferred.  And that's truth as is true, not truth wrapped up in subtle accusations and insinuations.

Roy Moore must now be found guilty

At least they're looking for evidence
This is true.  He lost because he was accused of being a child rapist.  Accusations became conflated, and he was routinely called a child molester, rapist and sexual pervert.  There were, in fact, only two accusations I'm aware of that lent weight to these labels.  One woman said he tried to approach her for sex when she was fourteen at the time.  That was well under the age of consent.  It would constitute statutory rape if I understand the laws correctly.  The other woman said that, when she was sixteen, Roy Moore attempted to sexually assault her.  Whether or not sixteen was the age of consent at the time, it obviously does not justify sexual assault.

Those were the two charges with substance.  That Roy Moore was known for liking and dating girls who were of legal age, albeit in their teens, is irrelevant.  Up until about a month ago, there was nothing immoral or illegal about that.  Liberalism had made it clear that with sex, the only moral standard was consent.  As long as the individuals in question were of legal age and consented, there was nothing wrong

That's not to say people wouldn't raise an eyebrow or two, but nobody ran around calling Jerry Seinfeld a sex pervert or child rapist when he, at 39, dated a 17 year old.  At best there were a few shoulder shrugs, and that was it (Note: I would have paid money for someone to ask any CNN anchor if they thought Seinfeld was a sex pervert).

It shows the power, and danger, of modern liberalism that the Left can suddenly, on a dime, declare what it said to be good to be bad, and immediately and retroactively move to punish those who foolishly listened to its latest morality.  But that's another issue.

As for the two charges, Roy Moore must now be found guilty.  He lost this election for no other reason than he was stuck with the child rapist and sexual pervert label.  Almost no physical evidence was produced.  The most that was produced was that the women actually were in the same city in which Moore lived, and likely knew of him in the late 70s.  One yearbook, with a signature that was admittedly tampered with, suggested Roy Moore had some knowledge of the woman that Moore denied knowing.  Another produced a card with a similar signature.  That is it.  There is no other evidence so far, other than people who all knew each other and who agreed with the accusations, to suggest that Moore was guilty.

No evidence of a pattern of wrongdoing has been provided.  One woman said that he groped her back in the 90s, but that was her statement, there was no evidence she had ever said anything at all, and no way to corroborate her accounts.  Other than that, there is no evidence that Moore had a pattern of such harassing or assaulting behavior over the years.

And yet guilty he was, at least in the eyes of the country.  Many rushed to say, in rebuttal to Larry King's interview with John Walsh, that presumption of innocence is for the courts alone.  Outside of our courtrooms, we maintain the right to sentence and punish without due process, without evidence or proof, and without a trial.  If a person is accused, that's enough. 

Now as we found out with Trump's tweet back at Senator Gillibrand, that is an inconsistent application.  For when Trump insinuated that the Senator would do 'anything' for campaign funds, the backlash was against Trump for 'sex shaming' her.  Note there was absolutely no assumption that he might have been right, and that she might have been guilty of sexual impropriety.  The presumption, the insistence, was on her innocence, and Trump - the accuser - became the party guilty of sexism. 

Therefore it clearly isn't that we've established a standard where any accuser is assumed to be correct, and the accused obviously guilty.  Quite the contrary.  It seems there is no discernible standard for when we now, as a country, are willing to destroy a person's character, reputation or even livelihood based on an accusation.  In one case, an accusation is good enough.  In another case, an accusation may bring guilt on the accusers.  All without the slightest shred of evidence.

Which, of course, is troubling.  It's like The Crucible on acid.  But even that's not the worst of it.  If the accusations against Moore simply fade away, if there is no further pursuit of the truth, if there is no attempt to formally investigate the claims - if it just falls off the face of the press within a month or so - then we will know it was just a political hit job, plain and simple.

Then we will know we've turned a corner as a nation.  We have embraced a McCarthy-like willingness to persecute those who dissent from the establishment, even with no concern for evidence. For this, and the new standards, no proof is needed.  No consistency is needed.  It's enough that non-conformity is stamped out, whatever way possible.  Unlike McCarthy, where the press, the arts, and even the religious community roundly condemned his tactics, now we saw the same rally to support the elimination of Moore based on no discernible evidence or, for that matter, consistency. 

Yes, we know he was a bit wacked.  We know he came off as a conservative stereotype.  I wouldn't have voted for him for that reason.  We know he thrived on controversy - though some controversy was based purely on not following a modern, progressive narrative.  After all, I heard multiple news anchors and commentators call him a religious bigot for his views about Muslims in our government.  I can't, for the life of me, remember the same individuals calling Bernie Sanders a bigot for saying the same thing about Christians who hold to a more traditional soteriology.  Nonetheless, he was and odd one, and most didn't want him to win.  So we grabbed onto the most convenient justification possible: accusations. 

So if the accusations go nowhere, if in a few weeks the issue is dropped and nothing else pursued, then we can rejoice in knowing that we just went where even witch hunters feared to tread.  At least witch trials felt the need to produce some evidence.  We were willing to accept the punishment of a man based only on accusations without a trial at all.  And then, if it fades away, we will know it was only meant to achieve what it achieved, and that was the defeat of a political and ideological opponent.  It was just to put another Democrat in the Senate.

We'll see.  We're not a society with the moral grounding to pursue witch burnings.  To do that, you must know what constitutes being a witch.  Right now, it appears we're content with a society that says a witch is whatever we want it to be at a given moment, based purely on political or ideological convenience.  And at this point, there are plenty of Americans, and leaders, who also seem content with that definition.  Seeing Moore actually found guilty would go far in changing that assessment, at least to me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Inside the mind of a Catholic fundamentalist, Part 2

As if to help me make my case, Mark Shea follows up with a list that demonstrates the point I made yesterdayWhat is a Christainist?  Mark explains that a Christianist is not a Christian, but a person who disagrees with Mark on a host of social, cultural, political and doctrinal issues.

To be honest, the majority of it is basically saying a Christianitist is a Christian who isn't increasingly interpreting the Faith through progressive lenses.  And at times, such as the 'War on Christmas' section, Mark represents the other side unfairly.  As far as I know, nobody wants to 'force' a store clerk to say Merry Christmas as much as they oppose store clerks being forbidden from being honest about what holiday is being talked about.  But that's for another post.

Though it does show another tendency that is common in fundamentalist circles, and that's misrepresenting the other side.  More than once, I rejected fundamentalist Protestants because of their tendency to put words in the mouths of others and blast them for things nobody is really saying.  It's not unique to fundamentalism of course, but it tends to be more common in those expressions of a given ideology.  And it often includes assuming much about the inner heart and soul, motives and desires, of those who don't agree. Notice how many of Mark's points are based on the idea that it's not what these 'Christianists' do, but why they do them.  As if he knows their thinking and their spiritual walk.

That's because fundamentalism, which is hardly confined to conservatives or people of faith, is predicated on the necessity of being right about everything, not just this or that key dogma.  And Mark's list, which includes topics that are far from doctrine or dogma, is a perfect example.  Taking a tactic that Mark once condemned - saying people are or aren't Christians one way or another, because that's not our place to judge - Mark draws a circle around his views, equates them with the Faith, and declares those who reject his opinions to be outside the circle of Christian.   At least all who reject his opinions who stand to the right of center.

The only difference with Protestant fundamentalism and what I see in Mark's approach is that Protestant fundamentalists would wrap the statement around some version of, "I'm not expressing my opinions, I'm just pointing out the Word of God.  Why don't these people believe in God's word?".  Otherwise, there is almost no difference with what I saw in my Evangelical days.  Mark has made it clear: here is the list, here is how one must approach these issues, or one is not a Christian.  There's no room for debate.  To even question Mark is to excuse sin and evil.  As is always the case when wading into fundamentalism, be it Protestant or Catholic, conservative or liberal, religious or secular.

Roy Moore: Two opinions

One looking at whether or not Moore should be voted for, one looking at why he absolutely shouldn't be voted for.   It's worth noting that the first piece is rather tepid in its support of Moore under only certain conditions, the other one is passionately against Moore.  It's enough to say that Moore is troubling enough that a Republican in Alabama isn't ahead by triple digits in the polls.  And there are no doubt reasons to consider beyond merely the allegations of sexual illegalities.  Nonetheless, both lay out their cases.  You read.  You decide.