Thursday, March 31, 2022

The joys of homeschooling

At least he looks good with his shades
Homeschooling can be tough.  One of the toughest parts is self-doubt.  You can't help but second guess yourself and wonder if your kids are better off or, heaven forbid, worse off.  You concern yourself that they're not learning, they're not learning enough, and somehow they won't be up to snuff next to their peers when they step out  into the world.

All of this happens, by the way, outside of the Covid era.  By shutting down access to other kids, other outings, other locations you can take the kiddos to, it has only been tolerable since we know the public schools have had their own similar problems. But the ongoing concern that you're failing them somehow always looms large, at least in our minds.  

So the other day we got a momentary dose of reassurance.  Our youngest, and last school age child, is moving into Shakespeare in his literature class with none other than The Merchant of Venice. It's a play more infamous in today's sensitivities than famous. 

So that's tough.  Heck, it's not exactly the easiest read for me.  The last time I read it, in fact, was in a Shakespeare class in college in the 1980s.  I chose it, however, because of the other suggested Shakespeare plays for his literature class.  When we looked at the list, it was the only Shakespeare mentioned that he wasn't aware of.  The list included Hamlet, Henry V and Macbeth, all of which he knows very well.  Too well to know if he's really getting anything out of the reading assignments as opposed to just drawing of his knowledge of the plays.

I didn't think about it until one of our older sons pointed out that's not bad.  After all, how many twelve year olds would force you to pick a less known Shakespeare play because he already knows most of the ones listed? 

We thought about that, and about how much we know he knows:  Subjects such as history and theology, and even philosophy.  Working on Algebra at twelve and he has studied art history, chemistry, Greek and Latin and even some intro into Mandarin Chinese - all before entering middle school proper. 

His real love is electronics and computers.  He's our fix-it man when something with our DVD or television or similar electronic devices goes wonky.  He can hook up new tech purchases faster than anyone else.  He's also quite industrious, figuring out how to make electronics work with sometimes no more than aluminum foil and battery chargers.  We mention he could have a career working with electronics, but he's somewhat coy about it, and dismisses it as a life's ambition.

So, in hindsight, I'd say that's not bad. We can't say he's better off, but we're pretty sure he's no worse off education-wise than if he was in the public school system. 

Our dog reading The Merchant of Venice after our son asked him for help

A visit from Sam Rocha

If you recall, I commented on a Twitter post of Sam where he blasted EWTN, Word on Fire, and other Catholic outlets.  He asserted that they avoid discussing the teachings of Pope Francis because they're cowards intimidated by everyone's favorite boogeymen, Republican conservatives.

OK.  I poked fun at how he framed it, and mentioned that it sniffed of the old liberal definition of diversity (that is, anyone right of center is a fascist ready to storm the walls with pitchforks and torches).  Something I've listened to tolerant and open minded liberals claims for decades. 

Anyhoo, Sam visited the comments section to take issue.  Initially his focus was on setting the record straight about his particular job title and educational position.  Fair enough.  A couple of us, however, tried to get Sam to speak to the subject of the post itself.  Sam insisted I had taken the Twitter post out of context from a thread of Twitter posts on the subject.  He also said this existed within the framework of larger conversations he has had about the issue. 

Despite attempts to get him to comment or provide links to the greater conversation, he didn't make further comments or provide links. So I did my best to find what I could to set the record straight.  

I was unable to find any blog posts or articles by Sam that seemed to touch on the subject, though he might have accounts I don't know about or can't access.  With some help I was able to piece together the larger Twitter thread which contained the post I referenced (remember, I personally don't have Twitter, but usually get images of Twitter posts from other sources).   Here is what I found, my comments below:

Maybe it's me, but I didn't see anything in the surrounding Twitter posts that changed my impression of the initial post.  It's mainly saying people are ignoring Pope Francis's teachings, especially referencing Fratelli Tutti, which he sees as prophetically calling the Ukrainian war.  He mentions that individuals refused to read Fratelli Tutti, and then he wades into EWTN and WoF.  After that, he takes a shot at 'post-liberal' Catholics.  

Not sure what he means  by that.  There is such a thing as post-liberal theology.  Go Yale.  If he means the same, but within Catholic contexts, I don't know. Or if he is using it in some other manner I'm likewise not sure.  Nor do I know what he means by coy liberalism.  I guess that's one of those traits of social media that I fall into sometimes - using my own personal terms and assuming everyone knows what I'm talking about. 

The only troubling part I caught was his assertion that WoF doesn't speak to Pope Francis's teachings where they might offend those Conservative Republicans.  With a quick Google search, I found several links to WoF articles and videos where they do cover his teachings, and that includes ones I know that conservatives take issue with.  So that's a case where it's not true they don't speak to those teachings.  Perhaps Sam means they don't speak to them to the degree or in the manner he would prefer. IMHO,  however, that doesn't rise to being called cowards, simply because something isn't done up to a personal standard. 

But there you have it.  Sam provided no links to broader conversations about the topic, so I can't speak to those.  I obtained images from the larger Twitter thread.  I don't know if that was all the context or not.  But unless something big was missing, nothing in the surrounding Twitter posts really changed my assessment of his initial post - a leftwing partisan style swipe at people more or less not on the left side of the tracks, or at least Sam's assessment of what should be the proper side of the tracks.  With scholar talk. :) 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A big win in the fight for freedom against the Left

If you get your news form America's news media, you've likely not heard of a significant Free Speech case going on in uber-Left leaning Finland.  Long and short, a Finnish PM as well as a bishop had been charged and prosecuted over publically reading from the Christian Bible.  

Many have, on the Internet and in other outlets, followed this case.  This isn't like some of the cases we've seen in England or Denmark or Belgium, where people have been arrested or charged for the same thing, but often under the auspices of some other "Hate Crime" violation or intention.

Nope, this was clear: We hate the Bible and anyone who fails to read the Bible through the lens of the Leftist State will be prosecuted.  From what I saw in those following this case, it actually looked rather bleak.  Many seemed to think a conviction was all but assured.

The good news is that they were wrong.  They were cleared of all charges.  Here's the story.  Not that it still isn't disturbing that factions in Finland all but want to make the open practice of traditional, non-Leftist Christianity illegal.  But saner heads prevailed for the time being. 

The reason why you've possibly not heard about this would be that the American Liberal Media don't like stories that might get Americans thinking.  They don't like stories where some could ask if all tyranny and fascism isn't always to the right of center.  Heck, it might get people to wonder if this is what the American Left wants to happen over here.

And we can't have those kind of questions, can we?  Which is why I don't think I saw a single MSM article about this during the entire ordeal.  Remember kids, if you get your news only from the American press, there's a 100% chance you have no clue what is going on in the world. 

Or we could write it like this:

"Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation 

supported by less than half of Americans, 

poll reveals - live" 

See how easy it is to spin a story?  Just a little hint for you up and coming copy editors. 

A brief observation: I'm actually shocked that fewer than half support the confirmation.  At best the press coverage has been neutral, in most cases it has been hagiographical.  I've seen Beatles blogs by Beatles fans that were less worshipful than how the press covered her and her nomination. 

Oh, and did anyone catch if some journalist somewhere mentioned that she was the first  black woman appointed to the SCOTUS?  

BTW, I missed my chance. I should have tracked down Jeff Bezos and bet him his fortune that any failure to 100% support Judge Jackson and give her a pass would be labeled racism and/or sexism.  Had I thought to do that, I'd be the richest guy in the world.  Missed opportunities I guess. 

Bonus points to those on the left who have not just played the Race Card, but have also tried to suggest her hearings were among the most grueling and horrific of any SCOTUS nominee ever.  You've got to love our country's desire to make Medieval peasants look sane and balanced by comparison. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

A lesson in tribal hypocrisy


How about this:  "As Ukrainians die for freedom, Alexander S. Vindman bravely takes to Twitter to attack Republicans."

See how easy that is?  The low rung of partisanship is when you complain about those ignorant partisans over there who are talking about politics in a time like this.  Get the problem?  If that's the case, you're also talking about politics in a time like this.  

It isn't an uncommon flaw, and certainly not unique to one side of the aisle.  As always, however, those on the Left can too often insist it's only those on the Right who are being political in the wrong time and place.  This is because their alliance with the press and media culture can give them the easy impression that their political opinions and the scientifically proven God-truth happen to be one and the same. 

Utterly obnoxious

Three of our sons are like us, a bit on the quiet side, to varying degrees introverted.  They're hard working, do well with what they try, and have varying levels of confidence in themselves.  On the whole, however, they are not your A personality types. 

Then there's our third oldest son. Someone had to dig deep into the gene pool to find him.  A triple-A personality all the way, he exudes confidence and self-assurance in a way I can't imagine.  A young man of snap decisions and decisiveness , he doesn't flinch when confronted with an obstacle dropped in front of him.

So we have to park the four cars we have in our rather small, uphill driveway over winter.  That frees up the street to be plowed when needed.  This requires a certain level of skill, pulling our second son's Honda Fit behind our van, and my third oldest parking his Honda Civic behind my wife's Civic.  Even in the best of times, we imagined his car would hang over the sidewalk because there just isn't enough room to fit both cars of the same size.

Or so we thought.  But this is him, and he has made his parking finesse almost a spectator sport in these parts, as he often does with most things.  Time and again he parks so close to my wife's car that we can't believe it. 

Then came Saturday morning, after he came home late Friday night after closing the restaurant.  We went out to take some items to the recycling center.  He told me to look at his parking job this time.  I did, and I couldn't believe it.  Pictures don't do it justice, but here is my twelve year old trying to squeeze his small finger down to the space between the two bumpers - and failing I might add:

You see that?  I drew the blue lines to show the space between the bumpers compared to our son's small fingertip.  We tried to get a tape measure or ruler down there, but none would fit. He literally got it that close, at night, uphill.  Of course he grinned and did his Chef's Kiss, as he often does.  

The four boys compliment each other well, often playing off the strengths and weaknesses each brings to the table.  When there have been times of emergency, they've typically designated tasks according to what each is best at.  But the others agree that when it comes to sudden challenges and obstacles, the one they automatically defer to is our third son every time. 

The boys, from L-R: Our oldest, youngest, second oldest and third oldest (car parker extraordinaire)

I don't think The Babylon Bee is funny

I just don't.  Not because of lack of talent.  But because it's chosen to mock and lampoon the Left, and that's a tall order.  I don't think the best comedic writers could make much out of the Left that the Left doesn't do on its own.  That's my problem with the BB.

Take for instance, this:

It comes from this piece.  Now, I admit that should be worth a chuckle in sane circumstances.  But how is it funny in a world where parents can say their child is multiple different identities and refer to her in the third person plural?  Or a world where some would have you be fired if you suggest men can't have babies?  Where SCOTUS nominees swear they have no clue how to define what a woman is? 

BB isn't alone in this quandary.  Here's a meme that was put up for the same reason:

Again, the absurdity of the humor is lost on the fact that Judge Jackson said she doesn't know how to define a woman.  How do you mock her when what she did was mockery enough? 

Of course we know she knows exactly what a woman is.  This is not about transgender anything or rights or whatever. It's about power and control.  It's O'Brien and his four fingers.  It's knowing Judge Jackson knows full well what a woman is, but also knows full well she doesn't dare say so.  That's when you know you're in a post-free society.

That's what this is all about.  That's why parody or satire fall flat.  Imagine humorous memes showing Winston's answers or O'Brien's demands.  Because absurdity is the gateway drug to tyranny.  Trying to outdo the absurdity through humor is a hopeless endeavor. 

A note about the comment in the second meme.  That has been a feminist standard since whenever.  The more I kick things around, the more I begin to think it was feminism all along that sowed the first seeds of the West's demise.  For feminism all but perfected the right to demand absolute equality for women whenever convenient for women.  

For example, women want equality between the sexes sans differences until differences benefit women.  Then, and only then, are you allowed to act as if there are differences (though note, almost never are you able to say so).  That sort of ham-fisted sleight of hand came to dominate feminist activism, and has since spilled over into most movements today.  Until the essence of our modern age is that there is no Truth, there's only what gets me what I want at the moment.  In five minutes, my truth now is false, because of course it is. 

This might come as too much of a shock

But the Associate Press has "Fact Checked" Republican allegations made against Judge Jackson and concluded they were all wrong.  Well, all but one.  One was a fair objection, but then it was explained away and clearly no big deal. 

A main cause of the AP's ire is that the RNC forgot the presumption of innocence, the very bedrock of our legal system.  So says the AP, 03/25/2022.   You know, that presumption that was mighty twisted and turned in previous cases, such as the Kavanaugh hearings?  That's when we learned presumption of innocence only belongs in those dusty old courtrooms.  In the real world, your arse belongs to the Left.  As Senator Booker so eloquently put it back then, it's simply not a question of guilt or innocence. 

Another thing that leaped out at me was the AP's smacking down the accusation that she was mitigating the severity of child pornography.  Unlike Justice Kavanaugh, who the press was pretty sure had headed an international sex slave organization because of course he did, the AP jumps on the GOP for drawing a conclusion based upon her questions and responses in one particular case.  

Just because she asked questions was no reason to assume she had drawn a conclusion.  Thus says the AP.  Which I agree with, BTW.  It would be nice if the AP held such lofty standards when Republican nominees are accused of writing secret racist slogans in their high school yearbooks thirty years ago. Nonetheless consistency isn't exactly the best trait of modern journalism.  

But here's what really hit me.  In the part where the AP is Fact Checking the claim of her softness on Child Porn, it says this:

But several behavioral science researchers testified at that hearing that there may be nonsexual motivations among a portion of child-sex criminals. It is not a radical view. And many judges do see a distinction between those who produce child pornography and those who receive it.

You see that?  A big difference between those who receive child pornography and those who produce it?  I'm sure there is.  And fifty years ago it was lumped into a single 'kiddy rapist' category, the perpetrator to be dealt with in the local penitentiary.  

Then we entered the free wheeling 60s and 70s, when there was no such thing as a criminal, only a victim of unjust and oppressive social structures.  That's when we could all giggle and laugh about this sort of comedy routine:

We also heard more music and saw more movies and read more books pushing the line when it came to anything sex or drugs, including the ages involved. 

Then came the late 90s, when any and all sex crimes warranted being branded on the forehead as a sex offender for life.  Try to break down the cases in the Catholic Church, or ask if one sexual assault charge should be equated with all sex crimes, and you were a pedophile defender, end of statement.  This was especially true in the wake of the Catholic Church abuse scandal.  

And yet, Mark Shea noted something I think was rather insightful.  He said there will come a time when the Catholic Church is no longer condemned for allowing children to be sexually assaulted, but because the Church condemns the sexual assault of children.  

Which makes sense.  More than one ancient culture assumed adults sexually 'training' the youngsters was simply a right of passage. Since a vague secular paganism is modernity's carrot dangling at the end of the stick, I don't really see us holding the line against sex with children in the future.  And it's just this sort of thing, that minor moving of the ball a single yard when we're all focusing on something else, that will allow it to happen. 

Given that you just never know anymore about what the Left says is right or wrong, false or true, good or bad, making such a move shouldn't be too difficult.  Heck, we've just learned making blanket statements about child porn is passé, and most of our attention was on a blog post about AP Fact Checkers.  See how easy it is? 

Friday, March 25, 2022

The SCOTUS hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson brought to mind an observation I made some years ago

That is, racism may be evil, but far more evil is exploiting or promoting racism for personal gain.  That includes political expediency.

Let's face it, death and taxes may or may not be a sure thing, but we all knew with 100% certainly that anything other than the worship of Judge Jackson would be met with implicit, if not explicit, accusations of racism, sexism, or both.  That's called playing the race and sex card.  For example:

I'm not sure if the GOP had gathered to worship Judge Jackson as the one, true god it would have kept the leftwing line of "Racist=Non-Leftist" from being floated.  I just knew the first moment anyone broke with demands for obedience to the Left and dared question Judge Jackson, the charge of racism and/or sexism would fly faster than a rocket. 

Racism has been the favored cudgel of the Left for years because, like many times and places in human history, America has had prejudice, including racism, in its borders.  It's easy to use a valid sin to destroy someone.  Problem is, if that someone is a reformed sinner who has tried to put the sin behind them and do what's right, then what do you do?  That is assuming your goal isn't the sinner's redemption, but her destruction.

That's when you have to don your jolly Satan, and become the perpetual Accusing One.  No matter how much penance, no matter how much confession, no matter how much remorse, you must always - and I mean 24/7 - look for ways to keep those sins alive and, if not alive, then at least in the minds of everyone, including the sinner. 

That's what makes someone like Judge Jackson so valuable. Whatever her barely discussed credentials, the important thing is that it gives yet another platform for keeping America as Sexist Nazi State in the headlines, in the editorial cartoons, in the punditry, and in the State confessional.  

The good news is that the majority of Americans do not use Twitter

The bad news is that the majority of Germans didn't belong to the Nazi party in 1933 either.  I'll admit that, at first glance, it's comforting, to a degree, to see something like this.  

  • Only 25% of Americans use Twitter? 
  • Only 1% watch Fox, and even less than that (.05%) watch MSNBC?
  • 42% of Americans identify as Independents?

Well, that last one is a big of a slickster stat.  My experience is that most who identify as Independents invariably vote for the same party in almost every election.  Technically I was an independent for most of my adult life.  Yet I couldn't help but notice I almost always (almost) voted for the GOP - even though there is little about the GOP I actually care for. 

But let's set aside the party identification, and even the audiences of cable news.  Let's look at that blight upon the human race that is Twitter and its ilk.  Since we don't have numbers for the ilk, we must confine our look to Twitter itself, the river Styx of discourse. 

If I run the numbers, that 25%, which at first seems small, becomes about 64.6 million Americans in the hell-pit of Twitter. To put that in perspective, there were about 86 million Germans in WWII.  Now, not everyone on Twitter is bat nuts back alley in Central Europe in the 1920s ready to take over for Jim Jones level of unhinged zealous insanity.  But let's, for laughs, assume that the usual 12% I always hear when it comes to extremists in a group applies here.  Of those who do Twitter, that would be about 7.7 million. That's the loons, the frothing at the mouths, the 'I hate your guts and will only pray because Jesus demands it but by golly I hope you get what you deserve' level of cognitive and emotional goose-steppers.

Of course all sides have such loonies, and the platform itself seems to encourage a certain level of 'I want to be like Manson.'  But those on the Left, as usual, have the benefit of the national (and international) press, the post-Christian West, growing segments of vast, global multi-zillion dollar corporate interests, an endless army of millionaire and billionaire celebrity power players, and the bulk of tech barons all behind them. Egging them on. Rewarding them when they serve well.  Running left tackle for them against dissenters. 

So while there are no doubt within that 7 million barking mad tweeters a fair share from any group, it seems to favor the Left since Twitter itself makes not being a leftist difficult to begin with. Assume 2/3 are to the Left, that's still around 5.1 million people who hate my guts, laugh at my misery, don't give a rip about my family, want everything I cherish destroyed, and have the sympathies and ears of vast global interests who increasingly appear to want the same. 

There may not be Nuremberg rallies in our day and age, though attempts to make Donald Trump's campaign stops into the same were certainly tried.  But what we have is Twitter as the same form of Nuremberg rally today in social media form, where the most disturbed elements of society can go to lap up the hatred and hubris and unhinged tribalism, high five each other, and all but march in circles around the digital bonfires they spend most of their days trying to light. 

At its best, most I see on Twitter act worse than the worst kids I knew in middle school.  The absolutely worst kids, the mean, the stupid, the bully, the druggie, the drop out.  When I read so many Twitter posts, that's often the first thing that comes to my mind, memoires of all those kids in school that most schools wish were somewhere else. Those are the better posts.

The worst make me think of Charles Manson or Jim Jones, radical terrorists groups, old speeches at the Reichstag given by such luminaries as Joseph Goebbels or Rudolf Hess.  All of the channeled and fostered hatred, arrogance, heartlessness and cold blooded disregard for reality that can only be found in the worst pits of human existence. 

So yes, while it's only 25% of Americans who wallow in the filth - and as I said, no doubt not all are bad - that many millions is still too many.  Especially when, in my own personal assessment, the National Press learned to weaponize Twitter, as have other institutions (we're looking at you higher education) as a way of letting slip the dregs of war to do their dirty work against the Christian West. Because of that, it's difficult to ignore that for every wacked out, beyond belief lunatic Twitter post, there is a power player sitting behind it that is smiling. 

Oh, one more thing.  Have I mentioned I hate Twitter?

[END: Unhinged anti-Twitter rant]

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Simple things mean a lot

A Guinness and its stew - Kool Aid provided elsewhere
We were getting ready for our annual St. Patrick's Day feasting.  We had the usual: Meat pies and Reuben sandwiches, potato and leek soup, soda bread, bangers and mash, Guinness stew and Dublin Coddle and Scotch eggs.  Suddenly one of my older sons piped up and asked where was the green Kool-Aid?  

Quite frankly, I didn't buy any.  When they were younger, for fun we bought green ("Lime flavored") Kool-Aid and served it with the meal.  After all, they were too young for Guinness or lager.  Since our youngest is now approaching teenage years, I assumed that was a hook we didn't need to continue.  I was wrong.  Heaven forbid, they said, we miss one of the traditions of this annual feast.  So it was getting Kool-Aid and making sure it was served with the meals.

Something about that made me glad.  That my sons, in this day and age, in the Internet, digital, too hip for God, woke-cancel-justice holier than Jesus, cynical and nihilist generation that they live in, were bothered that I dared forget the green Kool-Aid.  Because that's what we do in our annual traditions.  

Now, we have not lived a high on the hog life, I'll admit.  Lower middle class I'd say. And then in some crazier days not even that.  When my mom moved in, we effectively brought her and her household items into a house meant as a starter for 3 or 4 person family.  That made things pretty wild over the years.  While we've provided for them, I wouldn't say it's been without its lean times.  Yet somehow I think that has helped them see such simple things as valuable in ways they might not otherwise have done. 

I think there are several things that conservatives can be criticized for botching.  I think one was - especially for conservative Christians - getting swept up in the consumerist frenzies of the later 20th Century. I'm not saying everyone should live under rocks and eat locusts and honey.  But you have to admit, the constant accumulation of more and more and more doesn't seem to have made a positive difference in people's lives.  From an emotional and spiritual angle, it could be argued that it's been a negative. 

Sometimes, it's the less you have that brings out the more.  There's a funny skit in the old television show Frasier.  Frasier Crane and his brother Niles epitomized shallow snobbery at its funniest.  One day they are sharing a coffee at the local coffee bar.  Niles tells of a documentary he saw in which a poor child was given a pair of new shoes.  He describers the child's sheer, unbridled joy in such a simple gift.  He then says, despite his wealth and privilege and abundance, he has never had a moment when he knew such pure joy as that child's simple embrace of a pair of shoes.  

Of course that was a set up for a joke, but the point was relevant - and true.  I think our abundance has made us lose track of the little things.  Oh, we can stop - as I've done - and think of them.  But it doesn't come .... natural.  We almost have to remind ourselves to remember it isn't the cars, homes, swimming pools, smart phones, and all that bring happiness.  A momentary fix perhaps, but not happiness.  

Happiness is generally sourced out from the overlooked parts of life.  Overlooked, that is, when we have so many things that block out the Son.  So maybe I need to clean house a bit.  Necessity has already dictated that my life would never be defined by the biggest houses, cars and properties.  But like comparing myself to Jeff Bezos to dodge implications of too much wealth in the NT, perhaps it's more than just a lack of big houses and big screen TVs.  I dunno.  Just thought of all that when my very adult sons seemed rather miffed at such a simple thing as green Kool-Aid on St. Patrick's Day. 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Deacon Steven Greydanus joins with abortion rights activism by repeating the usual pro-abortion talking points

That is, the same talking points I've heard for over thirty years.  Basically it boils down to this: any legislation that in any way hinders any abortion ever will result in the suffering and death of millions of women.  That goes along with the oft repeated mantra that any non-Democratic policies will always result in the suffering and deaths of millions [insert pertinent demographic group here].

This particular bill comes from Missouri, and apparently - at least as reported by MSM and pro-abortion outlets and advocates - this could lead to problems for women with ectopic pregnancies.  A complex topic to be sure.  I remember ages ago on St. Blogs, this was always a hot button issue.  How this condition does and doesn't fit into the abortion issue, and at what point should it be dealt with as its own medical issue and on and on.

Note there is no real nuance in the reporting or hysteria (which makes sense), and none for Deacon Greydanus or the well known cookbook author he references above.  There is no trying to sift the wheat and the tares, or uphold the best of intentions while bringing up potential problems.

You see, an authentic Christian pro-life response would be 'I do not support any part of a bill that could jeopardize the life of a woman.  It looks like this issue was brought up in a hearing and hopefully those trying to limit the modern scourge of abortion to sustain our sex culture in the AIDS pandemic will listen to the appropriate medical advice.'  Or something like that.  That would say he is about pro-life, opposing the scourge of our abortion culture, and is willing to work with those who share the same concerns when needed, while advancing the parts of the bill that could effectively slow or hinder our modern shame.  A credible and respectable approach.

But it isn't the approach Deacon Greydanus took. He simply jumped on the pro-abortion bandwagon that X will cause women to die if X is in any way aimed at stopping abortion.  No parsing, no trying to keep the good, or even help those trying to stop this generational disgrace. 

Again, we're watching endless numbers of rats jump ship, while other rats join the feeding frenzy because it's giving them a chance to dine on their own pounds of flesh.  If 65 million more babies must be murdered - Pope Francis's words - then so be it.  It's the price worth paying to avoid being too close to those resisting the new world order.  

Those who reject the idea that the last thousand years of Christianity were corrupted by the vile white race, or the whole of the history was corrupted by pre-modern Christians or horrible misogynists and homophobes, will fast be a hated minority within the halls of their own churches. 

Suddenly it's fine to pray for someone's death

In this case, Christianity Today lets us know that praying for Putin to kick the bucket and do so quickly can be a right biblical thing to do.

Here's my thing.  I know from a purely historical, traditional, pre-modern Judeo-Christian understanding of Creation and salvation, such an attitude could be, and was sometimes, advocated.  My problem is, since I've been a Christian, at no time have mainstream Christians condoned such attitudes.  Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or Christianity Today. 

In fact, when people cheered for the death of Osama bin Laden, more than a few Christian leaders and pundits and publications bemoaned such attitudes.  We pray for people, we don't cheer when they die.  We certainly don't pray they die.  God loves everyone.  All can be saved.  We end the death penalty because this life and salvation are practically the same.  We no more pray for someone's death than we say it's good to execute them because it forces their hand on reconciling with the Almighty.

And on and on.  But the greatest thing about modernity, especially as incarnate in the political Left, is its 'here today, gone later today' approach to principles, ethics, standards and anything else you want. So you heard it said yesterday that it's entirely unchristian to pray that someone should die? Well by the sacred dogma of progress, today we say that it's perfectly acceptable  to pray for someone to die since it's today, and it's convenient. 

Again, I'm not saying the debate was settled.  I'm not saying there were never arguments from parts of the church advocating for the old ninja warrior approach to our faith, including death penalties and praying that the Hitlers of the world meet with an untimely end.

I'm saying those Christian outlets that tried to stay relevant to our modern sensitivities  - and that was the bulk of most mainstream traditions - tended dispense with those olden ways. Often they outright condemned such thinking.  Even now, I'm trying to recall anyone of credible worth arguing that modern, 20th Century Christians should pray for the death of someone.  

I know, I know.  The article is very agreeable in its tone.  It's careful.  It's cautious.  It's trying to not come out and say it directly and with gusto that we should gleefully petition Heaven for Putin's quick entry into the netherworld.  But its attempt to open up this possibility when I'm at pains to think of anyone mainstream coming close since I've been a Christian, shows just how almost anything we took for granted is on the chopping block.  Even if it's topics Christians were forced by the world to reconsider being reconsidered again because the world says so. 

My private prayer?  That after several generations of Christians trying to modify the Faith to keep up with the Joneses, we'll stop it.  It hasn't worked well, and the world has shown itself to be a rather fickle and unreliable guide. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

St. Patrick's New Breastplate

Courtesy of that sage and prophet Bono:

Oh Saint Patrick he drove out the snakes
With his prayers but that’s not all it takes
For the snake symbolizes
An evil that rises
And hides in your heart
As it breaks
And the evil has risen my friends
From the darkness that lives in some men
But in sorrow and fear
That’s when saints can appear
To drive out those old snakes once again
And they struggle for us to be free
From the psycho in this human family Ireland’s sorrow and pain
Is now the Ukraine
And Saint Patrick’s name now Zelensky

Yep.  You read that right.  We live in a shallow and superficial age.  A godless, aimless, pointless age with nothing to anchor it except the latest fad. If that fad is lifting Ukraine up to the level of Heaven and worshipping Zelenksi as the new Buddha Messiah God, so be it.  

I think it was Chesterton who once said something to the effect that if people stop believing in God, they won't believe in nothing, they'll believe in anything.  If that was said, our age proves its right more than anything I can imagine.

For the record, and to be honest, I was never a U2 fan.  I always had the impression they were waving their arms in the air and saying, "Look at us, we're important!"  They clearly imagined themselves as the next Beatles in terms of social and  cultural relevance.  Complete with their own 'Rooftop Performance' back in the mid-80s.  So part of this could be bias on my part.

But I don't think all of it. It shows that for all of our post-WWII contempt for the entire pre-WWII world, we've made it our life's ambition to repeat everything we condemned our ancestors and parents for doing.  

Sam Rocha sets the record straight


I had to chuckle.  First, note the opening sentence.  That made me laugh out loud.  "Similar and related authoritarian ideological dynamic."  I couldn't help remembering this post of mine from a few weeks ago.  That's Sam trying to make what he's about to say appear academic.  You know, scholarly.   That way some might think 'Gee, some academic guy with a degree is saying this, so it must be true.' 

Anyway, the rest of it is just the typical Leftwing 'ARCs are tunneling under our homes' hysteria.  EWTN, which has replaced the KKK in the mind of many leftwing Catholics, is in the crosshairs.  Word on Fire, the once beloved Bishop Baron's pet project, is also lumped together in the line of fire.  

Why?  Apparently neither outlet presents Pope Francis's teachings.  Because the pope's teachings - ba, ba, bam! -  threaten the unclean group.  Meanwhile, Word on Fire attacks any who present the pope's teachings?  I know EWTN has become pretty vocal in its criticisms of Pope Francis and his die hard supporters.  I was unaware of Word on Fire doing the same.

Unless, of course, Sam is invoking the classic 'To disagree with a liberal is to hate, attack, threaten, and on and on' tactic.  I'll have to look into WoF's blistering attacks aimed at those presenting Pope Francis's teachings.  

I just had to chuckle at his calling them cowards, all the way from the safety and security of his keyboard.  What would be swell would be for Sam to meet on a live interview with Bishop Baron and make the same claim to his face in the exact same manner that he has done here.  That, my friends, is an interview I would definitely watch. 

Sometimes an image on the internet makes me laugh

 This was one of those times:

First Things ponders the thrice daily Russia hate we're seeing

Read it here

My take?  Chalk this up to yet another 'You once heard post-war liberalism say, but the Left now says' that has become the norm.  In this case, you heard how stupid, racist, backwater, intolerant and petty Americans were for hating all things Japanese, German, Italian, Middle Eastern, or even English (Revolutionary War period), but we now say you must hate all things Russia in a way that would shame a WWII propagandist. 

Why can we so easily indulge in what was once proof of how bad America was? It's easier now for a couple reasons, at least as I see it:

First, we've been practicing our own American Rage Hate for years.  Beginning in earnest with the Charleston Church Shooting, the hating on America has almost replaced apple pie and baseball as the great American pastime.  Since 2020, that's spilled over onto all things Western and White.  If it's from north of the Mediterranean, West of the Urals, and White North America, you can bet it's Nazi racist genocide slavery output that must go.  Books, movies, television shows, art, memorials, statues, product mascots, sports mascots, awards, you name it.  Not a week goes by that something American heritage or Christian European isn't cast onto the digital bonfires.  So how much easier to cancel all things Russian when canceling our own nation and civilization has been the social fad of the decade? 

Second, deflection.  We all know that Putin may be the enemy, but he was helped and encouraged by bumbling and poor decisions here on the NATO side of the tracks.  Our debacle in Afghanistan no doubt encouraged him.  And who can forget Reset Button and 'The Cold War is calling'?  Things like that don't excuse Putin and the Russians, but they sure add to the explanations of how it came to this.  Given that our current Media State has its guy in office, anything to deflect from asking such questions is a plus. 

Third, embellish the narrative.  Speaking of Putin as the enemy.  Following the 2016 defeat of Hillary Clinton, the idea that Putin got into bed with Trump and produced a legion of election hijackers who wrecked the democratic process became the official narrative.  Putin and Russia were now the Great Satan for the Left.  Working with Trump, their goal was to destroy American democracy (before the liberals got to), destroy our electoral processes, and enslave all minorities for Trump's business ventures.  That's why Trump was impeached for his phone call to Ukraine.  So keeping Putin as Hitler/Nazi and all Russians as a threat to the world helps buttress this already crucial media narrative for explaining the 2016 election results. 

Fourth, Russia is doing everything to appear 'the worst of the past.'  The invasion invokes memories of Germany plowing across the Polish border.  Russia is going all Total War, doing to Keiv what Germany did to Rotterdam.  Putin has presented himself as bold defender of Russia's traditions and past glories.  He has taken harsh stands against the various immoral developments we've seen in the West - even if he doesn't actually care about them personally. He has cozied with the Russian Orthodox Church which has returned his advances.   All of this sets him against Zelenski's Ukraine.  As a Jewish leader, he holds no brief for the Christian elements of Ukraine's past.  News for Christians - many who are Jewish still have little love for the actual Christian Faith and its former place in our society.  Plus he's hardcore left of liberal in his social and cultural designs.  Free abortions, unrestrained sexual license, all things morally left permissible and championed, minimizing glories of the past and wanting to start anew with a modern state looking at ourselves - all of these make it a beautiful 'New World Order' defending itself against the usual evil of the Old Christian European World Order'. 

Finally, Russia is White.  My whole life I've seen the cultural chastisement of our wars against Vietnam, or Iraq, or Al-Qaeda, or Japan, in which Americans could blur the line between waging war and hating ethnic non-Whites.  Almost immediately after 9/11, the emphasis was on praising and uplifting Islam, making any questions about the rise of this Islamic brand of terrorism akin to being a Nazi hating Jews.  We might technically be able to do something in response to the terrorist attacks, but it cannot in any way be negative questions about the Middle East, Islam, Muslims, or any such thing.  Quite frankly, it's a bit of a relief to once again say we have seen the enemy, and they deserve to suffer.  Period. No parsing or squirming or nuance. Just Putin/Russia are evil, destroy!  Especially when we can so easily link the Russians (Christian and White) to reason number one above. 

So that's my take, for what it's worth. 

A story that breaks the Narrative

Hence you are not likely to see it covered much in the national press.  From NBC in South Florida, five middle school students, apparently black or non-white at least, are arrested for suspected hate crimes against white students. 

Now this is news, and not news at the same time.  It's news for the same reason it would be news if any combination of students were gathered to do such a thing.   It isn't news given the racially explosive environment we've created in our nation.  If you don't hate somebody because of their skin color in our country today, you're a gem among humans.  Our entire national conversation is directed at stirring as much race hate between people as possible.  

It's likely that the main goal of this generated race hate is to provoke whites to lash out against minorities, therefore the self-fulfilling prophecy that whites, unchained by good leftist ideology, are genetically programmed to lash out against minorities. Therefore anything made by or attributed to whites, such as the last 1000 years of Christianity, the Constitution, ideas of liberty, democracy or equality, can be jettisoned with no effort. 

Nonetheless, facts are a pesky thing.  In our neck of the woods, most violence is black on black.  When it is interracial, it's often black on Hispanic and vice versa, or black on Muslim, or black or Muslim on Jewish.  Of course there are cases of whites against those minority groups, but they are hardly the majority cases - simply the only ones you typically hear about. When it turns out those non-white groups are the ethnicities involved, the stories are typically dropped faster than a hot dish you stupidly pick up with bare hands when it just came out of the oven.

For weeks and weeks, for example, we had constant local news updates about an Islamic religious leader who was brutally murdered.  It appeared to be a hate crime.  It seemed as if he was targeted.  Of course we had stories reminding us of the post-9/11 anti-Islamic holocaust, the rampant Islamaphobia that plagues America, and on and on.  Almost every other day we heard his religious community interviewed and much emphasis on bringing the perpetrators to justice. Until the suspect was arrested and charged and turned out to be - damnit! - black.  That was a week or so ago and I've heard no updates since. 

It goes like that.  On the national stage as well.  The point is that white Christian Republicans in Red States are the cause of evil in our world,  Everyone else is just a bunch of hapless muggels awaiting the bold Blue State crusaders to save the day.  That is believed by millions.  It is believed because that is the fiction our producers of this fiction have worked so hard to establish.  Hence this story of white children being targeted due to race hate against whites.  Blink!  And you'll miss it. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Understanding why some are parsing Putin in one easy image

I know.  When Putin first invaded Ukraine, some nuts ran out and said how awesome he was and he's a genius.  That was to score points against Biden mostly. It was stupid and wrong.  Especially since Putin's invasion has been anything but genius.  It's also wrong to put a positive spin on such an atrocious action as invading a neighboring country.

Nonetheless, with that said, it doesn't mean we shouldn't be looking at this from a distance to see what is happening.  If I don't like folks praising Putin, I like even less those saying we all must scream 'It's the Nazi fascists all over again and we must do anything or  you love Hitler!'  That rush to push me down a road nobody wants to define has me as bothered as anyone putting an Einstein label around Putin. 

Included in this is smacking anyone down for daring to do anything but say 'Putin/Hitler, end of debate.'  There is plenty to look at here.  It's fair to ask how we got here.  It's fair to ask what the stakes are.  It's fair to see what is happening.  And it's fair to ask why some are trying to halt the 'If it's Putin/Russia, it's bad' juggernaut. 

One of the things several have pointed out is Putin's stance on the LGBTQ movement.  To the Left, that's one more piece of evidence that he's evil Hitler redux.  Even to those who oppose the LGBTQ movement, his methods and policies have been cringe worthy, brining back visions of gulags and labor camps dancing in our heads. 

Nonetheless, allow me to explain why we need to be careful.  Here is a single image that says it all:

It's from a group rallying support against Florida's parental rights bill that prevents sex lessons for students under fourth grade.  Derogatorily named the Don't Say Gay bill by the gay rights movement (a label universally accepted by the LGBTQ partners in the global press), it stops what we were told would never happen, and that's teaching kids about genitals and sex urges in grades where kids are too young to pack their own lunches.  

Note the circled part (I did that).  See that?  There is no such thing as other people's kids.  Sorry Left, but your continued insistence that anyone right of center is a fascist masks the fact that most of what the Left wants is nothing but a fascist state.  That's where the LGBTQ movement is going, and the Left is helping it.

Not because I think the Left cares a rip for gays or transgenders any more than it does blacks or women.  It just sees the LBGTQ movement as invulnerable.  Even churches and faith leaders cower before it, begging mercy for doing anything but celebrating all things non-heterosexual and post-gender, and breaking the back of reality to accommodate this movement in all ways but the most trivial (that is, marriage is still technically for men and women, but civil unions can rock it awesome style!).

Knowing and counting on this, the Left realizes the LGBTQ can openly say we're coming for your kids.  That we will soon be teaching elementary school kids, the way we now teach middle schoolers, the joys of oral sex or why using science to change your body is the most praiseworthy action a person can take.  The Left knows the LGBTQ movement can do this, admit they are doing it, and almost everyone will turn their heads and wish it would go away, if they do anything at all.  

Such faith leaders and shakers as Ms. Eden won't stop it.  They won't speak to it.  After all, where are the Catholic leaders about this issue?  The Evangelical leaders?  The Orthodox leaders?  The establishment conservative leaders?  Anyone?  Bueller?  If anything they will attack anyone who tries to stop this as some half-baked gay basher who wants all transgender kids murdered because they hate black people. 

If such voices speak to it at all, they'll make a quick and slick statement about men and women, immediately followed by bemoaning the first two thousand years of reprehensible Christians terrorizing the always beautiful people in the ever expanding LGBTQ++++ movement.  They'll then reach out and insist there's nothing real and nothing to get hung about, we only want love and love and all you need is love and walruses and blackbirds and raccoons. Again, reserving true wrath for anyone trying to take a stand against this, especially if they're white. 

So when you see this on our shores, you can get why some are saying Putin might be a monster.  He is certainly the villain here and needs defeated.  But it might be worth our while to see what Putin was likely pandering to.  Whether he personally cares about stopping the gay based steamroller or not, I don't know. But he points to an issue that needs addressed.

At the end of the day, we're going to have to admit an ugly truth about our particular era of history. Many bemoaning the thousands killed in Ukraine more than happily accept the tens of millions who have died of AIDS.  And, based on everything, are intent on continuing to do so.  Perhaps the smart move is to call out both atrocities equally, as well as those who wail over the thousands but have learned to stop worrying and almost celebrate their tens of millions.  

From the CDC, the breakdown of the latest batch of HIV infections

Monday, March 14, 2022

Not sure what to take from this

Except to don my merry secularist and call it a cosmic coincidence.  So I still check Facebook once in a while to see what's going on with old acquaintances.  One of my classmates from days of yore had this on her page:

I almost never waste my time with these things, but since I was just getting going on the day and was getting our youngest up for school, I thought I'd do it on a lark.

As it happened, he's getting ready to read The Merchant of Venice as his next lit assignment, so that was right here on my desk.  I know, that was cruel of me to assign that.  Him being in seventh grade and all.  I could have chosen Macbeth or Hamlet, but he knows those to well.  I wanted to challenge him with a Shakespeare yarn he's unfamiliar with. 

It's one of the Signet Classics versions, BTW, with academic notes and writes ups, plus vocabulary and footnotes to help the modern reader though some of the terms and phrases that seem strange to us today.  I recommend those versions whenever possible. 

Anyway, I picked up the book, and turned to page 18.  Now, as a qualifier, let me say I skipped the intro as it was numbered with Roman numerals, as such intros often are.  I went to the pages numbered in Arabic numerals, since that was used in the above image, which began with the play proper.  From there, I went to the eighteenth page.  Then I read down to line four, and this is what it said:

"The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."

Wow.  Given my musings on salvation and getting hung up on numbers that I posted today, I thought that was a bit ... odd.  Certainly odd timing.  It also made me wonder.  Funny, we dismiss such things today in a very secular way.  Dumb luck.  Cosmic coincidence.  Just weird that I posted that and suddenly this turned up in a goofy Internet exercise.  And yet there was a time in ages past when such a thing would make even the most hardened theologian rub his chin and ponder. 

Not that everything has to be demons and angels doing it.  In even the most superstitious age, people were able to discern between the natural and the supernatural.  It's just sometimes I think we've moved the bar too far in the direction opposite of superstition. 

With that said, I'm not going to delete the post.  Nor am I going to assume it must  be confirmation that all those other people are misusing Scripture.  I'll likely have a good chuckle as I have now, and then move on.   But it is worth noting that I'm doing this because I've been very well trained by our secular age.  I've been taught to hold the bar very high indeed for any idea that something could be nothing other than natural cause or mere coincidence.  


CNN appears quite shocked that Dept. of Health guidance in Florida suggests the Covid-19 vaccine might not benefit healthy 5 to 17 year olds.  Read it here.

If we were honest, it might do some good. It might even foster some good will among those reluctant to follow various Covid guidelines, including the Covid shots.  If we admitted that the vaccines clearly have underperformed, that their effectiveness tends to ebb and flow based on the latest virus variants, and that obviously if we've missed those marks, we can't be sure if there are long term side effects, at least that would be honest. 

But like most things today, especially if they are glommed onto by our mass corporate media industries, it's a case of shouting down and name calling.  Or, if possible, bringing in the crushing hand of government - or worse, corporate - retaliation against any who would question the latest dogma. 

Covid has been a mess, make no mistake. Admitting that might be the first step in a long walk to bring people back to some semblance of trust in the institutions that have repeatedly dropped the ball.  If, in fact, that is what we want to happen.

The few, the faithful, the saved

Nowadays, outside of some Protestant fundamentalist holdouts, I'm not sure our faith in Christ has any real bearing on our eternal destinies.  In fact, I'm not sure how much our eternal destinies play in our religious thinking in this old twenty first century.  

For those who think about it, an implicit universalism seems to be common.  Sometimes it's an explicit universalism.  This isn't something new or 21st Century.  There have always been some who failed to square a loving God with some eternal separation from that same loving God.  But in recent generations, visions of hellfire and damnation have clearly diminished as more and more Christians, consciously or otherwise, accept a somewhat secular understanding of religion and a worldly understanding of creation. 

In this setting it appears quite common to assume, without much thought, that most everyone is guaranteed to pass through the light after we shuffle off our mortal coils.  Much discussion, when it comes up, is around how many are saved - everyone or just mostly everyone?  I've seen that discussion on Catholics sties and outlets many times, and it's almost always around the assumption that it's a matter of how few, if any, will fail to be joined with God in the New Jerusalem.  

Here's what I've noticed, for what it's worth.  Last year for Holy Week I did a quick series on the seven churches of Revelation.  No particular reason, it just came to my mind.  One thing that hit me was that out of the seven churches, only two were given high praise and a pass.  The other five were given warnings.  Get with the program or else.  Yes, we all know the churches at Sardis and Laodicea were the pits and got stern warnings to shape up or pay the piper.  

The fact is, however, three of the others got the same.  Even if they had elements that were praiseworthy, including suffering for the Faith, they still ended getting the same stern warnings.  No amount of praiseworthy works in those churches made them immune from the same warnings that everyone's favorite loser churches got.  

In other words, our walk with God and God's appraisal of us is not based on trade and barter.  We don't get to stand in front of God and say, "Sure, I didn't do this or that, but I was awesome over here."  We're expected to follow God and do what we're supposed to do.  If we don't, see the warnings. Even if we go so far as being willing to suffer for the Faith, that doesn't balance out ignoring the teachings of Christ over here or over there.  It's sort of an all or nothing package. 

And that got me to thinking, as I am wont to do.  I reflect on the modern obsession with 'does everyone but Hitler get saved or is it everyone saved?'  Much of the scriptural basis for this comes from two key passages in the New Testament, beyond some philosophical wrangling over love and punishment and eternal fates.  The main verses appealed to are 2 Peter 3.9 and 1 Timothy 2.4.  Some have also appealed to Ezekiel 18.23.   The gist is that God wants everyone to be saved and come to repentance. 

If God wants it, how can it not happen, correct?  I mean, if God wants the universe, God gets the universe.  Why not everyone being saved?  At best we can imagine everyone but Hitler is saved.  Or maybe everyone, since that's what God wants. 

Here's something I noticed when I reflect on my former colleagues who tended to cleave unto the liberal side of theology, who often embraced this implicit/explicit universalism. I noticed that in most cases with most modern topics, the Bible, even the New Testament, is usually confined to Jesus and His teachings (in recent years, mostly Matthew 25).  That's where we learn God is our good buddy, it's all about love, no condemning of sinners, no condemning of the world, because Jesus says so. Be a swell person and that's all we need for righteousness. 

And yet when it comes to scriptural references to buttress universalism, it's almost always the above passages in the New Testament.  Almost never is it Jesus, unless you want to parse something like Matthew 23.37.  Why is that?  Why do they almost always appeal to Jesus as the great lover of love and forgiveness and mercy and nothing else where our sex lives or other religions are concerned?  It's all tolerance and inclusion when you read Jesus.  But when it comes to universalism, we rush over to the rest of the New Testament as our go to reference? 

I can't help but guess it's for one simple reason.  If you look at the Gospels, you'll notice when Jesus does talk about things like paths to life or final judgments, if numbers or amounts are mentioned, those not cast into the outer darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth, or those not going along the path leading to destruction, tend to be described as 'few.'  You want bad results of standing before our eternal judge?  That's where you get terms like 'many', 'most' and similar 

In fact, one of the sometimes glossed over parts of Jesus' appearance at the synagogue in Luke 4 is  how he invokes instances in the lives of Elisha and Elijah when discussing His return to His own home.  He notes that out of everyone, those OT prophets reached out to only two individuals, the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian, during times of great famine and suffering.  Which, if you think on it, is often the proportions given in the entire Old Testament.

Like it or not, my Old Testament professor in seminary had it right.  The Bible, for want of a better phrase, is usually a minority witness.  That is, those who cling to God and stay faithful are almost always portrayed as the minority.  Sometimes, as in Noah, it's literally one family in the whole world who stays faithful and escapes destruction.

Or in the Wilderness, it's only two spies who keep the faith.  Or there may have been seven thousand who did not bow to Baal, but there were only seven thousand, not the majority.  And on it goes.  You get the point.  The 'story' of the Bible is often of the majority falling away and bowing before the Golden Calf when only a 'few' remain faithful and escape God's judgment and, yes, punishment. 

Jesus invokes this proportion when He chastises the synagogue in Nazareth.  It also underpins His continual teaching that many may be called, but few are chosen.  That the path to destruction is where many go, versus the few who find and traverse the narrow path that leads to life.  In fact, I might say if you're looking for evidence that everyone gets to heaven, the last place you want to go is Jesus.  Which might be why those who make that argument, in this case at least, prefer the rest of the NT to what Jesus has to say on the matter.

None of this is to say hellfire awaits almost everyone but 140,000.  I'm not even haggling over what Jesus means by path to destruction or weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Does it mean some middle ground where people get purged ala purgatory before being saved for eternity? Does it mean burning in Hell for eternity?  Is it oblivion and eternal destruction, but no real eternal suffering?  Is it the least versus most in the Kingdom of Heaven, where the unhappy 'many' who take the wide path end up with a room next to a noisy ice machine for all eternity? 

That's not what I'm focused on.  In fact, I think when we approach it that way - just how are we really all saved despite how we live or what we have to say about God - we're already missing the point.  Sort of like my dad asking me to do chores and then wondering what will happen if I don't.  The point isn't wondering if I'll be grounded, spanked or just have the car keys taken away for the weekend.  The point is to do the chores because my dad told me to.  Since I love and respect my dad, that should be my response, not 'how little might I be punished if I ignore him?'. 

The point isn't to really parse what is meant by destruction or outer darkness, as much as it should be something we don't want no matter what they mean.  Not because it might be really bad, but because it means we've fallen from what God wanted in the first place.  

But such warnings are omnipresent enough to warrant our attention.  The tendency of Jesus to describe those taking the path to life as the minority, when added to the Scriptural story of most people rebelling or falling away to their punishment and regret, suggests asking how many are saved might mean an answer we don't want.  It also might mean we need to rethink how we've packaged the Faith in recent generations.  

The tendency of  modern churches to quickly modify, adapt, change and even surrender before the world is at least partially grounded in a diminished belief that there are any real consequences to getting it wrong.  A focus on just how everyone will get a blue ribbon when we die has made it easy to shrug off any concern about missing the mark. 

Yet that is something the churches in Revelation learned.  It's important not to get it wrong, because warnings of dire consequences are given us all, no matter how much we get right.  And if Jesus is to be believed, it won't be the majority who end up in the path to life, skipping along no matter what since everyone gets the prize at the end. 

In fact, it might be some sad self fulfilling prophecy that our efforts to accommodate and adjust and modify the historical revelation might just end up leading to that very vision set out in the scriptures.  That is, no matter what God does, the majority will find ways to ignore Him and walk the other way.  Instead of repenting, the majority will instead curse God when the time comes.  Which would then suggest a reading of the Bible as minority witness might be the most accurate way to read the numerical witness in the many mansions of the Kingdom. 

Again, I'm not saying the majority are going to burn in hell!  Or heaven is an exclusive club reserved for everyone name Dave only (and those he loves).  Nor am I quibbling over what many or few means.  After all, 51% of the human race could technically be many or most, and still let 49% of humanity be saved.  I think all of that is going the wrong direction with the topic. 

I think both the history of Christian doctrine and the scriptural revelations themselves show that whatever the case, when God says X, the majority of the world will nonetheless reject X.  And of those who God entrusts to deliver the message of X, the majority will choose to abandon X when the going gets tough.  And sometimes that doesn't mean failing to suffer for the faith, as several churches in Revelation were willing to do.  Rather it can just be giving in to the old temptations and sins of immorality and false teachings.  Which, if we try to twist it all to say nothing matters since everyone ends up on the path to life in the first place, might be the worst teaching of all to allow.  

Thursday, March 10, 2022

When the Three Joes became the patron saints of America's higher education

That is, Joe McCarthy, Joe Goebbels, and Joe Stalin.  In this case, it's the University of Washington going after a celebrated researcher with a long career working on a cure for, of all things, HIVwhile working to aid Africans.  Her crime?  She's white.  That's what the crime actually is.  The excuse?  She - I can hardly bring myself to write it - showed up at a Halloween party in 2009 dressed like Michael Jackson. 

If we put aside our identities as 21st Century Americans by trying to remember the past, we'll recall that Michael Jackson died that year.  As a result, many tributes emerged involving Americans of all skin colors - even including the wrong skin colors - dressing like the gloved one.  That was in response to the press doing its typical about face and going from pre-death Wacko-Jacko, to post-death Musical Genius Pioneer of the ages.  

But who can tell with the Left?  I didn't think people would be fighting to teach kindergarteners the glories of gay sex and genitals.  But here we are.  If you don't say men can get pregnant then naturally some on the Left want you fired.  So the thought that a white skin dressing like a black skin for any reason can be used to retroactively destroy an esteemed career should be as shocking as gas fumes at a gas station. And far more explosive. 

The saddest part?  I have a gut feeling she thought she was being perfectly obedient to the leftist celebration of Jackson by turning out dressed like that bold Civil Rights activists who broke the MTV race barrier.  Now?  Sorry.  You just can't be leftist enough.  And without even having total power yet, the Left let's us all know what is in store for everyone: Not only can our lives be destroyed for what we do, they can be destroyed because of who and what we are and what we may ever have done in the past.  Yet most seem to want this, so there you go. 

I have to admit it made me laugh

Funny alternate dialogue from my college days come to mind
I never put much stock in what celebrities, Hollywood or athletic or music or otherwise, have to say about almost anything.  I care about their opinions less than those who are important to me, such as my priest, the guy fixing my car or the girl taking my money in the checkout lane in the grocery store.  To me, such locals' opinions are not only more important, but likely better informed, than most coming from old Tinsel Town. 

Plus, it's a sure fire way of becoming disappointed in people.  So Mark Hamill, a childhood hero of mine, who has embarrassed himself for anyone with a maturity level above puberty for years, had this to say about Florida's bill prohibiting sexual themed lessons aimed at children under fourth grade:

That's from the LGBTQ talking point erroneously calling it the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which has been repeated by almost every objective national news outlet in the country.  So betting Hamill likely never read the bill in the first place, I'll give him a pass as yet one more Internet era pundit who simply vomits talking points from the correct side, actual facts and truth be damned.  

Nonetheless, I did get a kick out of this response:

Heh.  Taking a shot at Hamill  and backhanding Lucas in the meantime.  Which I don't mind.  Lucas continues to be a genuine jerk by refusing to release the original theatrical cuts of his first Star Wars trilogy.  That's because he remains forever pissed at his fanbase for saying his CGI enhanced releases in the 1990s were der poop piles, with most preferring the original cuts. A fellow who treats his fanbase like thralls who are only there to worship his billionaire grandness deserves a few backhanded digs at the obvious aimed his way. 

Mark Shea, Gollum and a Lenten reflection

The late M. Scott Peck once wrote that the character Gollum, from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, "is perhaps the finest depiction of evil ever written."  It was from his book People of the Lie. In that book, Peck took a look at evil from the view of psychoanalysis.  Much of that appraisal of Gollum could be wrapped up in the singular obsession Gollum had for the One Ring to the exclusion of almost anything other priority or action. 

I thought of that when I saw this over at The American Catholic:

Whew.  Tough to stomach.  Tough to imagine that this is what Mark came away with after that horrible news of mothers and babies killed and maimed in a war zone.  I think Donald McClarey says it right: 

Imagine hearing about a possible war atrocity and thinking that this is an opportunity to bash your domestic political opponents.

That's serious Gollum level obsession there on Mark's part.  I would like to think that Mark doesn't see every bomb and every dead child as an awesome chance to attack those white conservatives he so clearly despises. But I have a hard time doing so.

A word of warning to all of us:  Mark can make us rather complacent because, well, most of us aren't Mark, so we imagine we're not doing all that bad.  But as Elrond said of Sauron, even Sauron was not evil from the beginning.  Mark was not always this way, no matter what you think of him.  Why Mark is where he is now, I don't know.  How he incarnates almost everything he once condemned about Internet discourse, while spending his online life attacking so many things and people he once cherished or valued, I don't know.  I have my gut feelings, but I could never be sure.

What I do know is that I don't want to end up like Mark, or the many on Catholic sites and outlets who know what Mark is and cheer him all the more because he's on their side.  That sort of thing is as good as giving Jesus two black eyes and a bloody nose.

Therefore, especially during Lent, let us all reflect and make sure we're not heading down that broad path that Mark and so many of his supporters have chosen, and all for politics and defending the latest media narrative.  That could also include those fighting the latest media narrative, or siding so passionately with the other side of the political aisle.  As believers, our sights are supposed to be set on higher things.  Things that tell us the appropriate response to the awfulness of Mark's above Twitter post is simply to pray for his soul. 

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Colossians 3.1-4