Tuesday, April 30, 2019

If only I had $250,000.00

Then I could bid for this vintage Sherman tank on Ebay!   My wife asked what we would ever do with a Sherman tank in our yard.  I told her I could think of a few things.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Why not a Catholic

So the Paschal (Easter) vigil for Orthodox Christians - like Catholics and Easter worshipers around the world - is the high point of the year.   Being Orthodox, it's a long one.  Beginning at around 10:00 PM Saturday (Orthodox do everything "around" some time, never on time), it ends about 1:30 AM Sunday morning give or take.  That's a lot of standing.

Because the legendary Orthodox fasting dominates Lent, the last two days before Pascha are brutal. No food.  Holy Week in the Orthodox tradition is grueling.  Our priest is a bi-vocational priest who doubles as a full time school teacher, therefore our schedule is modified from what it would be if he was full time.  Nonetheless, it's tough.  We finish the week with the reading of the Twelve Passion Narratives on Thursday night, which is about three hours or so.  On Friday night there is another service about the same length of time.  Then Saturday morning begins with Divine Liturgy, which is a typical service of about two hours give or take.  Then 10:00 PM that night for the Paschal Vigil.

From Thursday night until after Pascha, we're not supposed to eat.  After the Saturday Liturgy, we can have a few nuts and fruits, but that's it. Even if you don't do it perfectly, the standard is so high that deviation is still next to starving.  So as soon as the Vigil is over, we feast.  And I mean feast.  This is no small dinner spread with mints and a few crackers.  If you ever wanted to experience Middle Eastern cooking and all its wonders, this is the place.  Plus there being so many converts, there's also a fair amount of Americanized food for your dining pleasure.

It was at this feast in the early Sunday morning that I met a young woman who attends our church.  I had seen her around for some time, but hadn't talked to her.  It turned out we ended up at the same table.  She brought wine and didn't want to drink alone, so we popped the cork and shared a glass or two.  While that went on, she told me her tale.

She was raised Catholic, a phrase I've heard a million times if I've heard it once.  And like so many, it meant the same thing: she left the Church as she got older.  She went to Catholic school, but by then  it was the 80s.  John Paul II may have been pope, but it was still post-Vatican II (a point she made).  She said it was a fine education, but not a very Catholic one. Hence, once in college, it was adios Church.

When she finally graduated college. got married and had kiddos, she decided it was time to get back to church.  Having kids will do that.  She attended a Protestant Bible study for a time but, for various reasons, concluded there was no avenue to anything beyond opinions in that approach.  So she went back to the local Catholic parish to see about returning.

What she said was interesting.  She said the priest was wonderful and kind, and the different people she talked to were welcoming.  There was no problem with personalities, and she felt they sincerely wanted her back, bringing her in with open arms.  But, she said, that was the problem.

To her, it seemed as if they wanted her back as the end goal.  That was it.  They didn't want her back to form her as a disciple, or help her get back to God, or help her along the straight and narrow.  They just wanted her back.   It was like some warm, fuzzy, happy Barney the Dinosaur thing.  As long as she came back, that was all anyone would ever want.

She insisted there was no hint of it being for nefarious designs.  It's not as if they wanted her money or her votes or her fetching countenance or anything of the sort.  They really seemed to want her to come back and be with them in the church.  But that's all they wanted.   A happy, fluffy 'we're all family again' feeling.  Ask us no questions and we'll tell you no doctrine.

She kept going back and meeting and talking, but she couldn't get over the fact that where she was or even where she was going didn't seem to matter.  Was she a devout believer?  Was she sleeping around?  Did she believe in Jesus?  Love Jesus?  Hate Jesus?  Piss on Jesus?  Did she support abortion?  Did she worship Satan?  None of it seemed to matter.  Whatever the Church spoke of in the big picture, her own individual journey seemed of no real importance.

There was some talk about recommitting to the teachings of the Church.  But there was nothing that suggested they expected her to actually live it.  Say it, yes.  But what she chose to really believe or do didn't appear to come up in conversation.  As long as she came back.  That was something, she said, that simply didn't stack up to what she knew in her heart God was demanding of her.    It made me think of this little gem from the show ER:

She encountered, to put words in her mouth, the ultimate Church of Nice.  They wanted her back, because they're nice.  They wanted her to be part of the family, because they're nice.  But that was all.  They wouldn't burden her with things, or impose tough standards, or really ask or demand anything.  The demands might be in the abstract for the Greater Church in society at large, but the welcoming promises will be the only specifics she encountered.  As long as she came back and recited a few formulas without the obligation to live it, all would be right with the world.

She said she realized that was not the path of the Truth.  She was broken, she was seeking, and she needed a slap in the face to get her back on track.  She wanted her children to be raised in the historical Faith, clinging to and searching for the Truth, challenged with overcoming the sins they would accumulate in this fallen, broken world.  She didn't want them, or her, affirmed or celebrated whether or not they insist squares are round.

That's why she eventually became Orthodox.  I've said before that the Orthodox are chockablock full or problems, as the church always has been since the New Testament era.  Right now, it struggles in the post-Cold War world, when so many Orthodox were oppressed and persecuted.  Freedom can be a bit puzzling when you're not used to it.  Likewise, having been at the vanguard of the Ecumenical Movement, when it comes to reaching outside of the Church doors, you can get whiffs of 'you're OK, we're OK, let's all be OK'.

Still, behind those doors, this is not the case.  Though most priests are rather low key, they have no problem saying it: There is Hell, there is Heaven, your life and faith today determine your eternal tomorrow, so you had best get on and stay on that narrow path.  Get off of the straight and narrow, and there is only one destination.  Live a life full of God and God's love, not politics, not social experiments, not the latest, hippest.  Ours is not ancient, it is Truth.  That's why we don't change, because Truth doesn't change.  We don't change because, no matter how symbolic our actions, they are symbols rooted in eternal truths of God that transcend all time and space.

None of this is to say the Orthodox aren't beset with a rising movement to apostatize and join the latest/hippest of the world (despite the catastrophic track record of the world's latest, hippest).  It is to say that, as of now, the Orthodox are pretty open about a God focused creation, preferring to deflect from questions about evolution and DNA and molecules, keeping it focused on a God created, mankind focused reality in which the Cross of Christ looms large over all things for the very real fact that if we choose poorly in this life, we will pay forever in the next.

While not all Catholic leaders deny this, and some even say it, it's safe to say the dominant, majority opinion of the Catholic Church today is 'enough of that, let's just get along to go along.'  And that, kids, is why according to her she's no longer a Catholic.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Christ is risen!

Truly He is Risen! (traditional Paschal greeting).  

In the Orthodox Church they go through a litany of languages, saying the greeting and response in English, Greek, Arabic, Russian and so on.  While on one side, the Orthodox are keenly aware of the growth of nationalistic identities within the Church, they also labor to remind people that there is supposed to be only One orthodox Church (something we pray Orthodox and Catholic believers will realize sooner rather than later).  Hence today, on actual Pascha Sunday, we observe the Agape Vespers, in which the bulk of the time is spent with various members reading the Gospel passage in their different languages. 

Because today is Easter, or Pascha!  The High Holy day of the year.   With each passing day I realize faith is increased as we cease putting so much faith in the material world and the dogma of progress.  Those things have their place of course.  The World gets it right sometimes, and STEM has its place.  And overall we do figure things out in the long, long run.  But until we rethink the model of Creation over the atheistic model of the universe we've come to accept, and the place of Faith over materialism, people will continue to struggle and, worse I fear, leave the Faith.

Today is a day where we believe the unbelievable - a story that has no place in a world of smartphones, computers, digital programming and DNA research.  Not that it is incompatible.  It's just that those things should occupy a small corner of our world, instead of dominating the world.  The larger the portion they occupy, the more ludicrous and unbelievable the Passion of Christ becomes.

In the world of Christianity (one of Christian Creation vs. a material universe), this is not the premier event just because of today, it's the premier event because Creation admits to the relatively small role the universe plays in God's schemes.  Rather than that 'insignificant dot' we often see our world (and hence humanity) portrayed as, we are the apple of God's eye.  To God, we are the vast, unimaginable reality.  That canvas upon which we are painted - the universe - is just small  potatoes.

But in our (correct) view, today becomes the premier event of Creation. If the universe doesn't admit to it, that is merely because a canvas does not admit to the charm of Bob Ross or the beauty of his creation.  That doesn't take away from the importance of the canvas, or the lack of Bob Ross's existence.  It merely reminds us that the priority has never been the canvas, but the artist and the painting he creates - which is us.

So with that, we celebrate the pinnacle of the story God wrote featuring us.  Not some tiny speck of cross on a tiny speck of planet with an insignificant bunch of specks called people.  But with His very Son, His own Self, and all for love of what really matters to God, and that is us.  It is a love that puts us in the center of all things, dominating everything, including that tiny spec of matter we call the universe.

Shine! Shine! O New Jerusalem! The glory of the Lord has shone upon you! Exult and be glad O Zion! Be radiant 0 Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your son!

UPDATE:  Here are a few examples of the Pascha greeting in the Orthodox tradition (sent by our priest):
Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen! 
Maseeh Qam! Haqqan Qam! 
Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!  
Hristus A Inviat! Adeverat a Inviat! 
Christos Voskrese! Voistinu Voskrese!
A reminder that Christ belongs to the world, and that we are all of God.

We will hear this triumphant greeting through the Paschal season.  No fasting either (which is a relief, but that's for another post).  This is how you are greeted in church.  Not Hi, Hello, How are you?  It's Christ is Risen!  To which you reply 'Truly He is Risen!'.  Or according to the languages above (which are but a few). 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Goodbye John Havlicek

My thoughts and prayers to Mr. Havlicek and his family.  I know virtually nothing of him, except his name.  And that is from stories my parents used to tell from a time when a young man named Havlicek took Ohio State to the college basketball championship.  Ohio State is more football than basketball, so that remains a storied time in our basketball program.

The punchline of the story as I heard it was that my Mom was all of a sudden a fanatical Buckeyes basketball fan.  So fanatical that she would neglect my sister if she was crying (I wasn't around, and wouldn't be for several more years).  That always got a good laugh since everyone knew my Mom was one of those 'kids first' moms.  According to my Dad, she actually became quite animated during some of the games.  Again, another anomaly (though my Mom could be quite open about her enthusiasm when the time was right).

I post this because it's bittersweet to think about.  My Dad passed away some eight years ago now.  My Mom has moderate dementia.  She can still remember things, and has no problem with basic living.  Though now she needs round the clock supervision.  But Havlicek's name comes from a different time: when I was a youngster, wide eyed listening to my still robust Mom and Dad talk about some magical time in history, when they were young, my older sister a toddler, and in my mind's eye I fashioned a nostalgia for a period I never knew.

For his part, Havlicek went on to be a celebrated NBA star, but that is outside of my recollections.  They didn't seem to follow him past OSU, and I wouldn't have known of his exploits otherwise.  I never followed sports much as a youngster, being one of the few kids my age who knew only the basics of Ohio sports: Woody Hayes was coach at Ohio State, the Big Red Machine, and Cleveland Browns.  I was also aware of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders.  Otherwise, not much.

But the name Havlicek was a part of my family's narrative, and would come up periodically - often around family gatherings or family holidays - when we heard tales of that wondrous, though now much maligned, time in our history known as the pre-Beatles era of Eisenhower and Elvis.  And Havlicek.

I'm sure it was no different than many eras in history, and I'm sure my parents had their set of concerns and problems back then (in fact, based on other stories, I know they did).  Nonetheless, it remains a fond memory, one that was stirred when I heard of Mr. Havlicek's passing.  That's why I came back to post this before Pascha.

May he rest in peace, and his family receive the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Today is Good Friday

Preparing to venerate the Cross
For Orthodox.  That means last night we had the Good Friday services.  Orthodox still follow the Sunrise/Sunset approach in that regard. I will post no more until Easter (Pascha).

I will say that we are heading into the age of shadows, when evil is assaulting the Faith from every side, and doing a fine job of it.  As a result of its success, this evil is aided by a growing number of allies, in and out of the Faith.

It is a time when many have apostatized already, abandoning Christ and the Gospel.  Many others hold to variations of the Gospel, but subvert it to the evils of this rising storm because, well, that's what people do.  When the Beast arises, those who would not find themselves outside of the best parties will do what they can to stay in bed with the powers that be or keep suffering for Jesus on six figures a year.

It's not hard to do.  In fact, it's harder not to.  Hence we tend to celebrate those who dared buck the system, call out the court prophets, and sometimes even pay with their lives for their devotion to the Lord.  Martyrs is the name we sometimes use.

But lest we assume it's all them, Good Friday is an excellent chance to ask how we would have done when Jesus was arrested.  How would we have done in the temple courtyard when we're accused of being a Galilean?  How many of us would have risked joining Jesus on a cross, versus running to the hills?

There are many forces arrayed against the Faith and the best the Faith has produced in this world.  They are dedicated to the father of lies, and the powers of darkness.  That so many who are part of this seem to be good people, and we can't imagine them being servants of evil, just goes to show you that we ought to be more forgiving toward those sinners of the past than we sometimes are.

I fear it will get worse before it gets better.  We may be looking at the end of an epoch; the beginning of a long, dark night for mankind.  To right it, we won't need to go back just a few years.  Or even a few decades.  It's arguable that the Faith went the wrong direction many centuries ago, and we need to rethink much of what we've come to accept.  Not everything, of course.  But rather than imagine almost everything we've developed is awesome, except for a few exceptions, it might be time to imagine that most of what we've come to accept over recent years is wrong, except for a few exceptions.

In the meantime, we go into that period of darkness that reflects our time, as it does any such time in history.  But unlike the world, we have a hope that transcends the darkness.  But that is for Easter.

"But this is your hour - the hour of shadows." Luke 22:53.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

James Holzhauer breaks a million

So he's done it, and in only fourteen games.  It took Ken Jennings a whopping 74 games to win his 2.5 million.  At this rate, Hozhauer will get there in 34 games.  Ratings are off the scale.  Jeopardy! has beaten the NHL and NBA playoffs in the respective time slot.  And right now, on average, he is making more per game than Alex Trebek.

As this piece says, he's the man who broke Jeopardy!.  I already posted about him here.  It's something to watch.  Some have complained that it's almost cruel, the huge winnings he makes while the others are scratching by trying to break 10K. But as he already explained, it doesn't matter.  If he won with 50K and the 2nd place contestant came in with 48K, then that contestant still only gets 2000.00.  That's just waste.  In fact, that's just money that goes back to the Jeopardy! pot.  Not now.  

On any given day, with the current setup, Jeopardy! could assume it would pay out between 25K - 35K combined to all three contestants.  Sometimes less.  Now Hozhauer is averaging over 70,000 per game.  Almost double every day than the show was used to. 

Most assume there will be changes in the game once he's gone.  Already it's clear that the show is trying to adjust, stacking the clues with categories he doesn't seem strong in - and yet he still manages.  Likewise, his strategy of flying straight to the biggest clue values has led to the Daily Doubles being placed near the bottom, something that usually wasn't the case (the effect being it takes away from the higher dollar amount of the clue, reducing, at least by some, the amount he can wager). 

He's shattering almost every record there is.  His accuracy is stunning, and his ability to find those Daily Doubles almost as impressive.  So great are his skills that when he wins 73K, Alex refers to it as 'only', while a second place contestant can finish with almost 20K and it looks paltry.

Nope.  At this point, everyone admits the game will have to change.  How it will change can only be guessed.  But change it will. 


The Soviet of San Antonio

San Antonio, ironically named for Saint Anthony, has reaffirmed its decision to invoke the glorious censorship in order to punish Chick-fil-A's thought crimes.  It will not allow an enemy of the Leftist State to be in its airport.  By now we should realize that nothing LGBTQ is about rights.   It's about imposing a set of values on others.  It's about legislating morality.  It's about conversion to another gospel, another world view, another moral absolute.  And if you fail to convert and conform, then its to the ghettos you belong.

This is brought to you by American liberalism, which once condemned imposing values on others, judging others, trying to convert others, or legislating morality.  In short, this is brought to you by American liberalism that once promised a nation where all animals are equal, but is now making it clear that going forward, some animals are simply going to be more equal than others.

Apart from the martyrdom of the Faithful in Christ at Sri-Lanka, I'm trying to avoid topical posts this Holy Week.  Nonetheless, the left's obvious attempts to repackage the slaughter of Catholic Christians at Sri-Lanka, combined with attempts like these to marginalize and segregate those who fail to bow before the Leftist altar, are reminders of just what the enemy currently is, and what it looks like.

The soulless heresy of liberal Christianity

First, a clarification of terms.  To me, the term 'Leftist Christianity', or 'Christian Leftists', denotes those who are within the Faith, who hold to various orthodox doctrines (bodily Resurrection, Virgin Birth, Jesus actually existed), and yet filter these through slavish devotion to the Marxist Left.  Like old conservative Evangelicals were accused of doing with Republican politics, so these allow for no spiritual affirmation or growth unless it is done before the altar of the political Left.

'Liberal Christianity', however, is what I use to reference that branch of Christianity that can scarcely be called Christianity.  Baptized in the name of Rudolf Bultmann and devoted to the last couple centuries of critical scholarship, there is often little remaining of the Faith other than a name.  An excellent example of this comes from an interview with the Reverend Serene Jones, who heads the uber-liberal Union Theological Seminary, whose religious musings are as bona fide heretical as you can get.  You can read the whole thing here. 

Key excerpts that leap out at me are these:
"I find the virgin birth a bizarre claim. It has nothing to do with Jesus’ message. The virgin birth only becomes important if you have a theology in which sexuality is considered sinful. It also promotes this notion that the pure, untouched female body is the best body, and that idea has led to centuries of oppressing women."
Of course it's a vast, male conspiracy.  Or this little Q&A:
"What happens when we die? 
I don’t know! There may be something, there may be nothing. My faith is not tied to some divine promise about the afterlife. …" 
The hope of the agnostic.  Or this:
"For me, the message of Easter is that love is stronger than life or death. That’s a much more awesome claim than that they put Jesus in the tomb and three days later he wasn’t there. For Christians for whom the physical resurrection becomes a sort of obsession, that seems to me to be a pretty wobbly faith."
For most of liberal Christianity, about 90%-95% of the Bible is false, wrong, lies, or fairy tales.  That includes, by the way, Jesus' own message.  As much as they cling to 'if Jesus didn't say it, it isn't important', the fact is they're just as willing to cast aside what Jesus is reported to have said when needed.  I saw that happen in debates about homosexuality back in the day.  Something Jesus said about God making man and woman to be joined together?  Bah.  Just discard that as a later interpolation (with no evidence needed of course).  

Calling this Christianity is like calling the New England Patriots a baseball team.  It means nothing.  It is a form of Gnosticism; a sort of 'I'm just spiritual enough to know everyone else got it wrong, and since my faith is based on my faith, nothing can happen to change it.'  

The good news is that, like most heresies, those who embrace this tend to dwindle away.  The denominations following this line of denial are dying.  It's not really a question of if, it's merely a question of when they will cease to exist. The sad part is that it affirms the non-belief of the world at large.  Many souls reject the Gospel with the firm stamp of 'Liberal Christians approve this message.'

I thought this was appropriate to blog about on what is Orthodoxy's Spy Wednesday, the hour of shadows, when Satan enters Judas, and a disciple sells the Son of God for thirty pieces of silver. 

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.  1 John 2:22-23

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Easter and Holy Week viewing

Here is an old post I did on what we watch during Easter/Holy Week.  It's all there.  This year we added the epic ode to Communism written by Communist screenwriter Dalton Trumo.  Spartacus is almost flagrant in its love of the Red.  Nonetheless, powerful screen personalities and great acting carry the story, along with the usual epic scale production.

Here is a piece I did on why I adore the 1955 production of The Ten Commandments

The more I see the world that these films' detractors want, the more I appreciate what the works bring to a time quickly passing.  We live in pagan Rome; we live in ancient Egypt.  The pharaohs are back, and they're looking to enslave the descendant of God's promise.  All while we were told to stop converting others, the world was busy converting us.  At this stage, it's safe to say many who are in our churches have long abandoned most of the core doctrines, values and teachings of the Faith.  Whether they believe more than an agnostic, quasi-deist god or not is up for grabs.  But with the coming storm, we'll find out as no doubt the wheat will be separated from the chaff, as persecution tends to do.

That doesn't mean I want the coming persecution and loss of liberty and freedom.  No sane person does.  As a dear friend from my graduate school days, who had grown up in the Soviet Union, once said, "Those who want persecution have never been persecuted."  I do think it can be stopped, but have serious doubt about the resiliency or grit of those who see the problems.

Monday, April 22, 2019

More prayers for the Sri Lankan victims of Muslim radicals

I thought I would add this.  I thought of them mightily, my brothers and sisters in Christ who died for their faith.  I thought I would point out that they were killed by Muslim radicals.  Hardly a unique occurrence.  It doesn't mean all Muslims are terrorists.  It means that there is a constant ebb of Muslims who are hellbent on killing, among others, Christians.  Just as there are various groups in the world hellbent on killing other groups.  And yet after watching a half dozen news broadcasts covering the killings, the words Muslim/Islamic were only mentioned a combined total of three times. 

Hence, this:
Satan laughs, Jesus weeps.  Prayer for this soul who has turned her back on the sanctity of life and mocks God by thinking we, much less the Almighty, do not see what she has done and why she has done it. 

One of the greatest evils of our time is the idea that human suffering and misery is only important if we can exploit it to attack our ideological opponents.  It takes 'doing it to the least of these' to new levels of low.  The only thing sadder is just how many who would follow Christ have completely devoted themselves to this dehumanizing tactic. 

No, the victims of New Zealand should be prayed for, and awareness of the forces of evil that led to their terrible murders acknowledged.  Likewise, the victims of Sri Lanka should be prayed for, and we should look at the forces of evil that led to their horrific deaths just the same.  This is always true.  Pray first, find ways to prevent next, seek justice after that.  And always do the same in all cases of such horror and human suffering.  Anything else, and you're the mouthpiece of the Evil One. 

Life in a pagan nation

All you need to know to realize Christians live in a nation of heathens and infidels:

Google on Easter:
Literally, an Easter egg is what we got

Google on the much reported and referenced and celebrated Earth Day:

The image won't let you play the extensive video and links to all the Earth Day info  you ever wanted

But for the terrible church bombings in Sri-Lanka, I heard nothing more than a couple passing references about Easter.  In an hour of broadcast news this morning, I saw a half dozen stories, or even entire segments, focused on Earth Day, a history of Earth Day, and constant references to Earth Day ('here is traffic on this Earth Day'; and 'weather for this Earth Day'; and 'what is going on in the world on this Earth Day'; 'I wore this Earth dress today', and on and on).

We live in a pagan nation that is proving no more tolerant of the Truth than other pagan nations in the past.  Unlike those, in which Christians entered to bring the Gospel, this is a paganism bent on converting Christians away from the Faith.  So far, it's been doing a stellar job.  A growing number of Americans are more pagan than Christian.  We'll see how it goes in the future.  I know the Faith will survive, and God is faithful.  Nonetheless, it doesn't always come without severe trials and tribulations.

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter, Palm Sunday and Prayers

Today, for the Orthodox, is Palm Sunday.  By tomorrow the world will have forgotten Easter.  But Holy Week for us is just beginning.  Blogging will be light.  I will try to focus on the holy things of the world.  I brought myself back to issue-blog during Lent as a sort of penance, and as the powers of Hell openly manifest in the modern Left, it was worth documenting the speed with which we are watching the collapse of the American Experiment and the coming storm, and the loss of so much that so many fought to bring us.

With that said, we live in a fallen world; a creation tainted by sin.  Evil happens.  If it wasn't the Left, it would be something else.  All groups have their evil elements, and the Enemy is simply waiting for that perfect combination that forms to bring the most suffering and destruction.  Right now, it happens to be the modernist Left.  In ages to come, it will be others.

Nothing brings this fact out more than the horrific bombing of a church on Eastern Sunday in Sri Lanka.  Likewise we watched in horror only weeks ago as dozens of Muslims were gunned down in cold blood in mosques.  Last year a madman went into a synagogue and murdered multiple Jewish members of the community.  And all of this while Chinese authorities continue to oppress and persecute multiple faith groups who run afoul of their Communist secularism.  This doesn't count the daily evils we see all around us.  Evil is a universal characteristic.

But this week (and for our Western brothers and sisters in Christ, last week) we are reminded that we have an assurance and a link to the Author of every good and perfect gift.  The longer I live, the more convinced I become that the Faith will thrive when we realize just how much of the world has infected and converted the Gospel message.

During the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church, we prayer the a prayer of St. John Chrysostom, part of which I post here:

Of thy Mystic Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant: for I will not speak of thy Mystery to thine enemies, neither will I give thee a kiss as did Judas; but like the thief will I confess thee: Remember me, O Lord, in thy Kingdom.
I thought about this today as we prayed that prayer before Communion, and before our annual procession of the palm branches around the church yard.  

I will not speak of thy Mystery to thine enemies.  To thine enemies.  God's enemies.  There was a time when the Church admitted to real, demonic evil and those who served it.  And though we are called upon and commanded to pray for our enemies, forgive our enemies and even love our enemies, at no time did our Lord suggest that in doing so they would cease to be our enemies.  Or the enemies of God. 

Those enemies are simply those who have joined the powers of Hell to fight against the Light.  We are all children of God, yet also born into a world of sin.  The main enemy we must always fight is ourselves.  But in so doing, we can never take our eyes off of the fact that there are those who may be willing servants of the Evil One.  It is their part to sway as many from the path of Light as possible.  If not, they will attack the Faithful and through fear and oppression try to cause believers to lapse.

For too long we've focused on the sins of our forebears; those in that great cloud of witnesses who we had no problem condemning and convicting.  At the same time, we've tried for generations to reach out a compromising hand to the world in the hopes that we would convert the world, all the while the world was actively - and effectively - converting us.  And the power behind that world evangelism is nothing other than the Great Accuser himself. 

The night is drawing near and the day is almost done.  Yet we who align with the heavenly Light, with the Triune God, and are led by the Holy Spirit to fellowship with the Prince of Peace need not fear.  Things might get worse in this world, and likely will.  Yet that is no license to exploit the Gospel as a shield for cowardliness, apathy or selfish ambition.  We must fight this coming war with the weapons of the Spirit.  But even if we lose for a season in the material world of now, we gain so much more in the greater part of God's great Creation. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Holy Week primer

For our Catholic and Protestant brothers and sisters, a reminder:

For the Orthodox, it comes this coming week.  In the face of the gathering clouds, we will always have this.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Romans 13:12 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

They never knew what hit them

On Jeopardy!, that is.  A new champion has emerged who is shattering records and destroying all competition.  He now has exceeded 100K in daily winnings three times.  The other two contestants barely had 10K between them going into Final Jeopardy.  Watching them lose to this new juggernaut, I could think of nothing so much as this:

That's been the daily occurrence ever since James Holzhauer appeared in his first Jeopardy! match.  He seems unassuming, but not stuffy.  Quiet but not snobbish.  But as former champion Buzzy Cohen said, Holzhauer is the proverbial perfect storm.  He's fast with the signal, and fast on his feet.  He has a massive range of knowledge (except for movies/television), and is phenomenal with numbers.  One of the tricks he does is make bets so the winning amount matches one of his loved ones' birthdays, often calculating it in a matter of seconds with the cameras rolling.

Beyond that, however, as Cohen explained, he also has the whole Jeopardy! strategy down. Most contestants start with the smallest prize amounts for each category, and work their way down to the higher dollar values.  That is because the clues with the smaller amounts are naturally the easiest, getting harder as the dollar values increase.  While doing that, they hope to stumble on one of the Daily Double clues that allow you to bet up to your entire current dollar amount (though few seldom bet that much).

Not Holzhauer.  He plunges straight to the highest dollar amounts and sweeps those clues away, bouncing from category to category so the other contestants can't get settled into the respective subject matter.  In doing that, he also fishes for those Daily Double clues, often betting massive amounts - even his entire winnings - at one time.

In most cases, the daily champion does well to end up with 20K or so, 30K being a stellar day.  James bets that much on a single Daily Double.  By the Double Jeopardy round, he typically has left the other contestants in the dust.  It's nothing for him to have dollar amounts in the 20,000s before the first round of Jeopardy! is over.  He's had a bad day if he only has 50K when the game is finished.

Three times now he has shattered records by breaking 100K.  Today, he bet 60K on Final Jeopardy out of the 71K he had going into it.  He also has broken Austin Rogers' record for the fastest accumulation of prize winnings.  Compared to that, the second place contestant today had 5,400.00 total going into Final.  Some runners up who faced James have had respectable amounts, even breaking 20K with their own scores.  But to no avail.  If they have 20K, Holzhauer has quadruple that amount.

Beyond his knowledge, skill and tactics, he explained a very fundamental reason why he has won so much.  In the end, he said, it's only money.  He wants to win for his loved ones.  The whole reason he is here is for a promise he made to his late grandmother.  Being a professional sports gambler (apparently there is such a thing), he knows it's easy come, easy go.  He sees it as points, so he thinks nothing of betting 30K when most wouldn't dare bet 10% of that. 

Either he eventually will just bet everything because he's tired of winning, or Jeopardy! will pull an Austin Removal* on him.  Either way, I don't think it will be the normal way that another contestant will finally overtake him.

*Austin Rogers was a love/hate phenomenon with the show.  Unkempt, foul mouthed and middle finger raised, he became the Happy Gilmore of the show, with ratings soaring as fans enjoyed the way Alex Trebek clashed with him, all while he shattered his own records with massive wins and catch-me-if-you-can betting.  In the end, he was brought down by a woman from Tennessee in a game that strongly suggested the categories were picked to favor her, and not favor Austin.  Categories that focused on such things as motherhood and trivial knowledge from Tennessee.

Good job Friendly Atheist

Credit where it is due.  The Friendly Atheist posted a heartfelt piece regarding the Notre Dame fire, highlighting some atheist well-knowns and their lamenting of the fire and possible loss.  I didn't read all of the comments, but read some.  Most were gracious and expressed their sadness at the potential loss of such a treasure.  True, very few said anything about its religious meaning to believers, preferring the 'treasure of art and culture' angle.  But at least it was positive for the most part.

I give the FA quite a bit of grief for its good cop/bad cop approach, and deservedly so.  Usually there will be some post akin to 'religious/Christian types are tunneling under your house - but we don't hate them!', followed by endless comments in the comments section descending into the fifth circle of Hell in terms of hate and vile bilge aimed at all things sacred and holy.  So bad it was, that I had to stop commenting there when commenters made sexually charged attacks aimed at my wife and kids (and were not stopped I should mention).

Nonetheless, again I'll give credit where it is due.  It was a chance to think what could unite us if we would let it.  Alas, we are in a fallen world and there are some who will simply dig in and make themselves enemies of God no matter what.  Pray for them as much, if not more, than we do for the smoldering ruins in and around that great Cathedral; the same one that atheists around the world mourned the loss of alongside believers.

But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.  Revelation 9:20-21.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Prayers for Notre Dame

Which is in flames right now, one of the majestic spires having just collapsed.  This is bad.  My first thought was that it was renovations gone bad.  I had seen in a news story a bit ago that the legendary cathedral was, like most Christianity in Europe, rotting and in disrepair.  Renovations were being made on the structure to keep it from collapsing.

I don't know.  Right now nobody knows, but that was my first guess.  Just pray that the fire can be contained before more is lost.  If fear if it burns, there will be no real desire to invest in what it would take to rebuild it.  And the world losing one of its landmarks, no matter what you think of its faith origins, would be a darker world for the loss.

UPDATE: Right now (as of approx. 11 PM Paris time), they say that the overall cathedral has been saved.  It's worth pointing out that not all that was lost was original to the cathedral, as it has been renovated over the years.  The famous facade and two towers near the grand entrance have been saved. Much artwork (including the purported Crown of Thorns wore by our Lord) has been saved.  It's still devastating, but if this is the final word, then praise God, and praise those brave firefighters and all who worked and prayed this through to its end.

UPDATE II: It does look like the cathedral's basic shell has been saved, as well as the iconic entryway and flanking towers.  Many relics - including the Crown of Thorns - have been saved.  Some of the justly celebrated stain glass windows, however, are a loss.  And that breaks the heart.

Much will be written in the coming months about the symbolism of this.  Last year was when I saw the news cast showing the sad state of affairs at the cathedral.  It was already rotted and in ruin.  The call to renovate was on an emergency level.  They actually feared it could become unstable and dangerous.

Now we'll see people wanting to rebuild it for its artistic, or cultural, or national importance.  We'll also see some questioning such a move.  But to me, and no doubt to many, this is the Christian Faith in the modern world.  A faith that is losing the war.  A faith that has chosen retreat, compromise and surrender, when not outright altering its teachings and doctrines to conform to the latest whims and winds of change.  And that's when we even care.  In many ways, the cathedral was left to rot the same way Christianity has rotted in Europe.  Look closely at the ruins.  That's the Christian Faith - Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic - in our world today.  A shell remains, but much of it has burned, even as it had already rotted.

I sometimes muse that when we abandoned saying The Year of our Lord (AD/BC), we lost the war.  We said 'Jesus?  Why who are we to say He's anyone's lord?  If that offends, we'll put that bad boy under a bushel!'  We wouldn't even say it in our own context, and I see even conservative Protestant and Catholic publications utilize the decidedly non-Christian BCE/CE label.  Other things came fast on the heals of that, and in many ways the Faith has been following the World for generations, if not centuries.  But to me, refusing to say Our Lord in public, and agreeing that we'd rather say nothing at all than offend people who have no problem cutting our Savoir down to size, was a symbolic loss that has to have had and impact on the zeal and faith of the Christian flock.  A loss that we have watched rot and burn before our eyes in the shape of an iconic landmark.  One, I feel, is no less true in the very heart and soul of our Faith.

UPDATE III.  It looks like the legendary Rose Window survived!  Praise God!  There is hope, and hope for the dilapidated state of the Church.  Always where God is concerned.  Perhaps other wonders of the cathedral survived as well.  At this point, we'll see.  I updated from an early morning news report that said all of the stained glass had been lost.  So I suppose now we wait.  But it's a wonder to see, and gives hope.  May Europe, the West, the World and especially the faithful bring hope and inspiration from this sight. 

Well done Mike Dewine and Ohio Republicans

With John Kasich out of the way, the Ohio Republicans have been able to pass the heartbeat bill. Hurrah!  Kasich, of course, it the living embodiment of why we have Trump.  That brand of 'screw conservatives, from now on where the liberal Democrats go, I will follow.'  And no, it isn't because of Trump.  Kasich began that swing to the left long before we imagined a Trump primary contention.  In fairness, Kasich had passed restrictions and common sense regulations on abortion, but in the later years of his term he began to drag his feet over multiple issues near and dear to conservatives, including this particular legislation.

Anyhoo, Kasich had vetoed similar bills before.  But Mike DeWine (who I'm not necessarily a fan of), promised he would sign such a proposal into law.  We were there when the Senate voted on its version.  After several more weeks, it made it through the checks and balances and has been signed by our new post-Kasich governor.

I have no doubt that our courts will stop this.  Lawsuits are already flying like mosquitoes. I've come to realize that's not the point.  The reasons abortions are down is disputable, but what isn't disputable is that more and more young people oppose abortion.  As my second oldest  said, it's because now we're fully into the abortion era when we realize a massive chunk of the classmates we could have had were never able to exist.  That's a big thought to think.

And every time pro-life champions say 'Heartbeat bill', the pro-abortion champions have to say 'we don't care, it's our life to define and terminate because women!'  Even if it is a loss in the courts, I do believe it's having a positive result.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Trump Scandal of the Day

So the press is jumping on news that someone in the Trump administration floated the idea of 'dumping' illegal immigrants in Democratic districts.  Good for him.  Whoever said it, I like his thinking.  The Left today is all about 'can you hordes of lowlife losers please suffer and pay so I can keep my mansion and yacht?' when it comes to various left wing causes.  See Global Warming solutions proposed by limousine activists for an example.  Let the Left finally pay the price for its lofty philosophies and moral grandstanding.

Nonetheless, this clearly shows one thing: the Trump administration is riddled with moles who oppose it and freely breach trust and even break the laws of secrecy and confidentiality to hamstring the administration.  The Press then takes any rumor about Trump handed it, and declares it the Gospel Truth.

Of course I wouldn't want immigrants to be used like pawns in such a manner, even if the liberal Democrats would deserve every bit of it.  It was merely floated, like a million things are floated in any committee meeting on earth.  Nobody ran with it, it's not news.

The big purpose of this story is to deflect, deflect, deflect.  By now sane people think there is cause to investigate the possibility that various departments in our government threatened our democratic process by using their power and inroads to tilt the election for their candidate.  I'm not saying it happened, but there's enough fishy going on to warrant a look.  Like Trump, I'll withhold judgement and assume innocence unless the facts and evidence suggest otherwise.

Nonetheless, with Barr suggesting it's worth looking into, along with the under-reported news of a former Obama staffer being charged with making false statements over one of the many conspiracy theories about the Obama administration (this one being nefarious dealings with Ukraine), the press is eager to find anything to take our eyes off the ball.

What is news in all of this is that despite all obstacles, press opposition and childish attempts to shut down the question, we keep learning about this or that scrap of evidence to suggest there might have been collusion against our nation in 2016 after all, but it wasn't Trump.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Joe Biden as the latest Robespierre in the Left's reign of terror

This is how the Left keeps its thralls on the plantation.  It threatens immediate retribution against anyone who is not 100% obedient to the Left's latest dogmas 100% of the time.  Given that the Left has openly declared its willingness to retroactively punish those who listened to the Left said was good and true in the past, and given that it can now go through our records, writings, speeches, yearbooks, school papers, home movies and anything from any part of our lives to retroactively punish us, it's not hard to see why anyone with half a brain would be nervous. Biden is the latest to learn this all too well.

This is not a joke.  This is not The Onion.  This is actually ABC running a story about Joe Biden (and Lady Gaga?) doing a PSA about sexual assault.  This is Nancy Pelosi's America, where we treat all humans as if they have infectious diseases.  This is the country they want.

Of course much of this is political.  Biden seemed to be the Left's only hope against Trump, whose polling is nowhere near as bad as the almost completely negative coverage of his presidency would suggest.  But Biden slipped when he said Mike Pence is a 'decent' fellow.  That was enough.  Using Trump to declare its true intentions the way NASA uses the Earth's orbit to propel a spacecraft, the Left has convinced enough people that the current presidency warrants full scale war, and no amount of lies, immorality, debauchery, infanticide, tyranny, or even the overthrow of our nation's very foundation is off limits due to Trump's unprecedented stupidity and evil.  It is Trump that propels the Left's unfortunate, but necessary, seizure of power in our nation. 

With that, the Left wants blood, and it wants to put non-conformers in their place. It wants those who don't get on board to sit in the back of the bus, to be marginalized, cut off from society or sent to the reeducation camps.  It doesn't want some old codger playing nice.

Therefore when Biden called Pence a decent guy - that's Pence, who the Left truly hates, despises and fears - that was it.  Almost overnight, we began hearing the accusations that could have been made against Biden at any time in the last two years of #MeToo insanity.  But we're hearing it now because, unless Biden figures a way to debase himself and assure them he is 100# devoted to the cause, he's out of here. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Fair enough Bernie Sanders

Fox News is the propaganda arm of the Trump Administration, so says Mr. Sanders.  OK, I'll give you Fox and conservatism are seldom far apart.  On the other hand, the rest of the national press is pretty much the propaganda arm of the Democratic party.  So it balances out - to a degree.

Just thought I'd clarify.

A review of Unplanned: The Abbey Johnson Story

By Steven Greydanus.  I've written before that I take Deacon Greydanus's reviews with more than a grain of salt.  When someone rates the epic masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia at an A-, compared to the cinematic dung-heap of celluloid excrement called Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace at a B-, I have all I need to know that I'm dealing with a critic of the millennial era.

Long and short, he seems to give Unplanned a thumbs up for its tech specs, and considers it a bit above most faith based movies.  But he also seems to have a problem with faith based movies in general, especially because they often preach to the choir (memo: must look at his reviews of Hollywood topical films that clearly do the same thing to various Leftist gay rights, feminist, secular and other groups).

He also appears to wish more of the movie would have unpacked the seedy underbelly of the pro-life (or as he also calls it, the anti-abortion) movement. He's pleased that there are several scenes depicting the worst elements of anti-abortionists.  Nonetheless, it appears he would have preferred more.

He does mention the disturbing elements of Ms. Johnson's testimony, though he also continually points out that they are from a post-conversion POV, and that apparently casts a shadow over what could have been a better approach.  Perhaps.  I've not seen it, I can't say.

The thing that struck me is just how the review is one part 'it shows abortion is bad' and three parts 'it doesn't do enough to point out the flaws and evils of those who oppose it.'  This is one reason among a legion of them that orthodox Christianity is losing, dying and dwindling except in a few parts of the world where they don't appear to take that approach.

Those who would somehow try to find common ground with a movement that has made it clear it hates the Faith and wants it destroyed are pissing into a tornado.  Yet all they seem capable of doing is pointing at other believers and insisting 'of course you hate Christians because, no doubt, all those other Christians over there just aren't up to the proper standards.'

Friday, April 5, 2019

Is Pete Buttigieg the Left's new Barrack Obama?

In 2004, then Senator Barack Obama gave a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention.  It was one of the few shining moments in a convention that was almost comical in its ineptness.  The following day, the US press declared him the future first black president of the United States.  Over the next several years, the press floated stories about him, preening him, molding him, elevating him.  When the economy collapsed and the GOP picked famous conservative Republican opponent John McCain to be its nominee, Obama was able to stroll in amidst the closest thing to a Cult of Personality America has had since G. Washington.

This year, the press is groping for a 2020 candidate able to take on Trump.  As much as they are salivating over the idea of a candidate who could deliver an anti-Christian Marxist state that will consolidate power for the elites along the coasts, they realize many of the current Dem firebrands are just too 'not ready.'

Joe Biden clearly has been marked for termination.  Too white, too old, and not willing to call down poisonous gas clouds of hate on Mike Pence and others who blaspheme the gospel of liberalism and its gay, feminist and minority zealots.  His days are numbered.

Beto O'Rourke?  A rich guy who bought his way to a career whose stellar achievement on the national stage was losing to Ted Cruz?  He's an empty suit who invokes memories of Kennedy.  That's it.  They'll try, but his 'I swear I'll never again tell a joke that women insist my wife should be outraged about' spinelessness did little to convince them he was equal to the task of challenging the Don.  He's still a possibility, but only slightly.

Bernie?  It's not worth discussing.  Too many establishment types still (rightly) blame him and his followers who were sore at the DNC and the Hillary campaign colluding with the press to steal the nomination from one who so many Democrats wanted.  Plus he can be as goofy and crazy as anything Trump is, just with a certain grandfatherly charm.

Who else?  There is Khamala Harris, with her 'make white people bleed' approach to reparations, along with Elizabeth Warren, who is about 1/1024th of a campaigner.  Cory "Spartacus" Booker is half a joke, and half scary with his infamous 'it doesn't really matter if [Kavanaugh] is guilty or innocent' speech.  That should scare the pants off any sane person.

So despite endless legions of candidates that the press is desperately trying to keep from spiraling into a freak show circus like the GOP primaries of 2012 and 2016, there just doesn't seem to be a clear front runner.  The radical Left (including, but not limited to, the press) clearly doesn't want to compromise with Joe Biden's 'he's a descent guy' rubbish.  They know full well O'Rourke is 1/3 Kennedy lookalike, 2/3 joke.  What to do?

Enter Mayor Buttigieg.  A charismatic, intelligent, and apparently good guy politician from South Bend, Indiana is looking like the possible knight in shining non-color specific armor.   Granted, he seems a nice enough fellow.   He's small town America in that crucial Midwest that Hillary and her Leftist compatriots stupidly mocked and ignored to their ultimate loss.  While naturally anti-Trump and your typical pol, he also doesn't come off with zealous 'down with America, up with the hammer and sickle' vibes that some of the  younger Dems exude.

And more important than anything: he's gay.  As I said here. the Left has long buried the idea of human beings as anything that actually exist.  There are only demographics.  Like Cypher looking at the Matrix, the Left doesn't look and see people, it sees Demographic #283H-123 or #9238A-38 or #374-TSd8.  And which Demographic matters and which doesn't depends upon an ever evolving flowchart of equations and brackets.  Hence Megan Kelly, feminist darling who fought Mr. Candidate Donald with all the bias she could muster in the glory days of #MeToo, discovered that her vagina didn't trump her skin color when she dared ask about blackface in old Halloween pictures.

Yet despite the somewhat vague and malleable demographic priority based on this or that latest circumstance, one thing is sure: that which is post-heterosexual, post-traditional families, pro-LGBTQ is almost always on top of the pyramid.  The Left has had its share of trashing blacks, Hispanics, atheists, women, and even Jews - but never gays.  For all the black conservatives called house n---ers or Aunt Jemimas, for all the corrupt Wall Street and Media Jew conspiracies, for all the sluts, whores, bimbos and c--ts who dare question feminism, one thing you never see is a non-Leftist homosexual seriously challenged, much less called a derogatory name by the Left.

That's because homosexuality was the Holy Grail that America's Communists and Marxists have been waiting for.  Abortion wasn't it for many reasons, including the sad fact that aborted babies don't protest in your face.  Plus homosexuality scratches an itch for enjoying the broader parts of our sex and drugs culture that not a few secular conservatives don't mind.  It's also embraced by many libertarians and almost all religious believers who cleave unto the modern Left.  That leaves a rather small bunch of conservative theists and religious practitioners who are low in number, and invariably linked to the most extreme and fanatical denizens who reject the Left.

Not to mention that a gay man would come equipped with the same benefit Barrack Obama brought to the White House.  For eight years, not a single disagreement occurred over a policy issue with Obama that didn't include pundits accusing his opponents of being racists.  The thought of a gay man generating the same possibility is too tantalizing to ignore.  After all, non-heterosexuality is a topic almost so enshrined that we don't think twice of violating the First Amendment when it comes to punishing anyone who doesn't conform to the LGBTQ agenda.  Politicians and even religious leaders will stand by and even cheer as Americans are told this is no country for any religion that doesn't convert to the new gospel of sex.

Imagine how easily any opposition or criticism could be spun as homophobia.  Imagine the questions about gay marriage, now looking a gay candidate square in the eyes.  Imagine how easy it would be to use this to all but banish anyone and everyone who doesn't accept non-heterosexual normality to the back of the bus.  True, we don't think 'America as Homophobic Nation' the way we were taught to think 'America as Racist Nation.'  Nonetheless, with the full support of the press, academia and arts and entertainment, don't think for a minute this would be everything they learned to do with Obama, only more.

We'll have to see.  But as the press and the DNC (but I repeat myself) grope around for the golden candidate, I've noticed a sudden disturbance in the Force.  From the assumption only a month ago that it would be Biden's in a bag if he only run, all of a sudden I'm seeing the love switch to a mayor from South Bend, who might be everything they press Left hoped to get in 2016.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

It was 55 years ago today

Not bad - they may go somewhere someday
That the Beatles reached the high point of Beatlemania, and set several records that will be mighty difficult to break.

The Beatles redefined celebrity and consumerism in an alliance between the two that forever changed the course of Western celebrity.  Never before had a singular entertaining act generated so much merchandise and press coverage.  Never before had a non-sporting, non-political personage drawn so many tens of thousands of fans into single venues.

For better or worse, they revitalized and reformed the Rock and Roll genre, they set the future for popular music and the recording industry, they impacted culture, fashion, attitudes and the entertainment industry as a whole, and they even contributed to events that changed forever the course of Western culture.  Again, for better or worse.

The story is too long to tell in detail.  I'm no entertainment historian.  But long and short, in 1963, almost overnight the Beatles became a genuine phenomenon in England.  There is something about those Brits who go bat crazy over things and then get Americans on board with the same hysteria (I'm looking at you Harry Potter).  They all but monopolized the British entertainment industry in 1963, and were becoming bona fide superstars across Europe (except for France).

Nonetheless, try as they might, they couldn't get Capital Records (EMI's American subsidiary) to release any of their songs.  We're America.  We don't need Brit musicians, especially ones with no clear front man (was it Paul McCartney or John Lennon and the Beatles?).  A couple rogue labels took it upon themselves to release a few songs, but they went nowhere.  So lame was their performance on the charts, that George Harrison was able to visit his sister in America in '63 and perform at a local bar with no more than the owner saying 'he's not bad, might actually go somewhere someday.'

But when President Kennedy was killed, America went through what we went through after 9/11.  Remember those brief weeks when we were close to unified, when Giuliani appeared with the president of NBC on Saturday Night Live to say it was OK to laugh again?  They had that, too.  That came in the form of Jack Parr running a clip on his television show that made fun of silly Brit kids going bonkers over some rock musicians named after insects.

Parents may have laughed, but the kids suddenly wondered why they were left out.  Then one thing led to another, and by January, Capital picked up the Beatles' next single, I Want to Hold Your Hand.  Radio stations were saturated with requests.  Before the Beatles set foot on American soil, they were the number one recording act in the country - an unprecedented thing in those pre-satellite, pre-Internet days.

When they appeared on Ed Sullivan, in excess of 50% of the US population tuned in to see what it was all about.  That would be equal to 160 million people watching the same show today.  It still stands as one of the largest television audiences in history.

With that, it was like the flood gates opened.  Like Britain, a literal tsunami of Beatles products flooded the American market.  They were round the clock front page news.  And all those records they released the previous year that hadn't gone anywhere were now skyrocketing to the top of the charts.  By the end of March, 1964, the Beatles had no fewer than fourteen songs on the Hot 100.  By the first week of April they held seven songs in the top ten.

And on April 4th, 1964, the Beatles - likely the only ones who will ever be able to accomplish such a feat - held all five of the top five spots on the American charts.  They held the number one spot for almost four months (being knocked off briefly by Louis Armstrong's Hello Dolly).  They would have several more number ones by the end of the year.  If we count B Sides to some later singles released as double releases, the Beatles ended up with 22 number one hits in America in fewer than seven years of recording.  An average of over three #1 hits a year for seven years.  That makes them the most successful and best selling recording artists of the 20th Century (and so far at least, of all time).

There would be much more of course.  The Beatles were not the authors of their place in history.  That place was chosen by forces other than them.  Nonetheless, in every photo montage of the 20th century, you will see their appearance on Ed Sullivan along with the bombing of Hiroshima, the March on Washington, the Moon Landings, D-Day, and the Titanic.  Their place in history would have been etched anyway, but it received help by their own desire to be better than they needed to be.

They could have sat back and wallowed in their teenybopper status and then faded away.  But they didn't.  They were good, and were aided by an amazingly talented set of support players (not the least being their wizard producer, the late George Martin).  They were also hard working.  In less that seven years of recording activity, they released 13 albums, including the double album of original material known as The White Album.  They released over two dozen additional singles, as well as an extended play album soundtrack.  They produced four films, and embarked on four world tours, including two tours in America in 1964.  Not bad for seven years.

But it was on this day, 55 years ago, that the high point of the frenzy and mania that etched them into the history tablets reached its zenith when the top five songs in the country were all by the same artist - and them not even American.

It was Capitalism all along

In a reminder that Capitalism without Christ can quickly spiral into the next Communism, once again we have the biggies of Corporate America, darlings of the free market, champions of Wall Street, joining forces to threaten within an inch of their financial lives those in Texas who dare blaspheme the gospel of the LGBTQ movement.  Just like N. Carolina not too long ago.

I was once asked how something like Capitalism or the Free Market could ever become like Communism.  Well, this.  And this is while we're still technically a free country.  Imagine what would happen if we weren't.  It might not be the government that steps in and destroys the precious freedoms of the market as much as the market that  hijacks the goverment and uses its own infinite financial resources to put a bullet in the 2500 year climb toward democracy and liberty.

As I said, our march toward tyranny and a Marxist totalitarian state based on debauchery and blasphemy would be nowhere without Madison Avenue running along, encouraging every step of the way.

Bonus: Another Godfather reference that came to mind when thinking of conservatives who still fall on the sword for the Market, even as we have to realize it has been the Market handing us hammers and nails with which to crucify Jesus or else:

I really need to watch that film again, it's been too long.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

What I know about Lori Lightfoot in our post-human era of identity politics

I know she is black, and I know she is gay.  That's it.  I've seen four stories, and read three, and so far, apart from some bits about her outsider appeal and election tidbits, that's all I know.  Has she fought crime, cured cancer, molested teddy bears?  No clue.  Was she top, bottom, middle of her class?  I don't even know if she went to school.  I know she's black, and she's gay.  That's what the focus has been, that what the stories have covered, that's apparently all I need to know.

Welcome to the era that put to rest the question of human beings once and for all.  There are no humans.  There are only those who are herded into designated demographic identity categories.  And our worth, value and purpose is defined not by what we do or what we accomplish, but to which demographic as designated by the Left we happen to belong.

Buffalo airport bans Chick fil A because of ties to Salvation Army

Really.  Of course it's not just because of ties to the Salvation Army.  And it's not for anything other than the issue which became the death knell of American freedom and liberty: homosexuality.   This is how the Left does it. 

Notice that it's happening now in airports.  What are you going to do?  Boycott the airport? Not fly?  Cancel all business trips?  Just banning Chick fil A from towns or cities could cause mischief.  And if a shopping center did so, that could result in financial backlash.  But colleges, or airports?  What can be done? 

Make no mistake, we're dealing with the final fruits of the old Communists from bygone days.  Like Don Corleone setting up the traitor for after he dies, so those old Soviet operatives set up the victory over our nation, if not the entire West, even after the Soviet Union collapsed.

We let this go at our posterity's peril.  It's time to call them out for what they are: Communists wanting a nation more like the Soviets than America, and all so people can have gay sex in marriage.  If that's the sacrifice we're willing to make, then hopefully it will be us who pays the price, and not those who come later.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Cardinal Sarah speaks

Here and here.  He's one to watch.  Of course anyone who thinks he will espouse some Conservative Republican Middle American version of Catholicism will be sorely disappointed.  But most I know don't think - or don't want - that from the Church.  They want the Church to look like the Church.  To that end, they also don't want the Church to be some mock up of a Marxist, post-modern, Leftist, secular Socialist institution.  And sad to say, many across the Church, including its leadership, are trying to get the Church to become just that.

In comes Cardinal Sarah reminding us of some things we seem to have forgotten.  One such thing is refuting the development among Catholics that I can only call a Protestant development.  That is a notion that the Church was just fine and Jesus and God and all, but then it moved into Europe and that's when everything went to hell.  But thank goodness the Church is moving away from that Babylonian Captivity, and it's finally getting to the people who look more like Jesus did (HT: Fr. James Martin).

That's actually a very Protestant understanding of Church history.  People say that Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide (that's 'Scripture Alone' or 'Faith Alone') are the foundations of Protestantism, but that's not true.  The foundation of Protestantism is the idea that the Church was guided by God up until Point X in history, but then it went off the rails until [pick your favorite Protestant Reformer] came by to get it back on track.  That is the essence of Protestantism and much of modern thinking today.  "Jesus was alright, but his disciples were thick and ordinary.  It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."   So said John Lennon.

That so many Catholics have adapted that very Protestant perspective when thinking of the unique development of European civilization along with the Church just shows how far things have gotten in the Catholic Church today.  And it's good to see Cardinal Sarah rebuke such thinking. 
God does not change his mind. God gave a mission to Europe, which received Christianity. Then the European missionaries brought Christ to the ends of the earth. And this was no accident, but rather God’s plan. This universal mission, which He gave to Europe when Peter and Paul came to settle in Rome, from which city the Church evangelized Europe and the world, is not over. But if we put an end to it by sinking into materialism, godlessness and apostasy, then the consequences will be serious. If Europe disappears, and with it the inestimable values of the old continent, Islam will invade the world, and we will totally change our culture, anthropology and moral vision.
Not that everything to do with Europe deserves to be equaled to the Gospel (far from it).  But the idea that the whole thing was an unfortunate white racist xenophobic mess that hijacked the pure Church and troubled Jesus, but we're finally now getting away from it all, has far more to do with Luther than it does Jesus or the Apostolic tradition.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Unplanned movie and the tyranny and evil of the pro-infanticide Left

Pretty over the top title for this post it would seem.  And yet, what part of it is wrong?  The Left has thrown its hat behind infanticide.  And don't give me 'it's only babies who can't live or will be horribly deformed.'  That's what infanticide was: killing children deemed unable to be cared for, or sickly, handicapped, terminally ill or some other similar impediment.  The killing of healthy babies was typically reserved for human sacrifice cultures which ranged from Asia through Europe, Africa and the Americas (but not, it should be mentioned, within the Judeo-Christian heritage).

So yes, in addition to embracing suicide and pushing euthanasia, the Left has gone full infanticide (we won't discuss its embrace of racism, sexism, discriminating against Christians and embrace of history's most disastrous economic theory).  So what happens when a film is produced challenging this moral stance?  The Left does what it does best: if it can't ban, it moves to suppress and censor anything to do with the film to keep it hidden from view.

That is exactly what has happened.  Here I Googled to see the latest news and noticed, just as no major Network would run ads for the film, no major news outlet was mentioning it or its surprising box office performance.  This, by the way, despite being given an "R" rating. Likewise, there are plenty of stories buzzing about regarding Twitter removing its accounts and reviewers being blocked from various movie review sites. 

I've said for years that the Left is not the only monstrous evil in the world.  Heck, it's not the only one here in America.  But it's the one fully embraced by many of the powers that be in our nation.  It's promoted by the safeguards that should protect us from such sin: the press, education, the arts and especially religion.  And among those who see it for what it is, there is limp-wristed resistance at best, always seeming to wrestle with the dilemma of how to resist the obvious, and yet not give up that cushy editorial job suffering for Jesus on six figures a year.

But bravo for the filmmakers.  They will suffer the slings and arrows from the usual Leftist arsenal of 'you suck, you're an idiot and moron, you hate women or minorities' or similar rhetorical devices.  They will be scorned and hated like someone trying to do a revival of Tevye the Dairyman in 1930s Germany. 

So prayers for the brave producers and contributors to this film, as well as the woman of courage whose story inspired it.  They will receive the full hatred from the side of infanticide, including those who have apostatized themselves and now fully endorse the movement dedicated to killing those innocents they speak so much about.  But those behind the movie will also receive half-hearted support, or even trivial digs and attempts to justify avoidance, from those who would claim fealty to life and the Gospel, but aren't ready to give up their comfortable living among the altars of Moloch.