Saturday, September 30, 2023


While watching the OSU game last Saturday (I seldom watch modern TV otherwise), I caught a commercial for Colonial Williamsburg.  Or, should I say, Williamsburg.  The 'Colonial' being conspicuously absent.  I found a commercial for Williamsburg back in 2021 that is pretty much the same (it might be the same, I just caught it once during the game):

Notice there is nothing - no thing - to suggest anything other than some variation on Myrtle Beach or Clearwater Beach or any one of a hundred tourist destinations.  No history.  No Colonial America.  No Revolution.  No historical reenactments. No shot heard 'round the world. No history at all.  If you didn't know, you'd think it was a typical Disney resort, if that.

Compare to this:

That was the type of commercial in the 1990s that I saw when planning our first family vacation.  In 1997 we took our oldest, then only a couple years old, to our first true vacation as a young family.  We went to Colonial Williamsburg, in large part due to the commercials.  It was magical.  It was everything you want your first family vacation to be.  

And the history!  Like the commercial, it was all over the place.  Everyone was in character at all times.  The lessons were broad and detailed, from the ugly and bad, to the more emphasized bravery and the heroism and the sacrifice and the overall debt we owe to our founders.  We went back in August 2001, and it was still good.  A bit hot for my taste (our first time was in late September).  But still fun, and with the three older boys (our third still being a toddler), it was a blast.

The last time we went, however, was in 2014 along with our youngest.  Disappointment doesn't begin to describe our experience.  Many reenactors stood about on their cell phones, paying scant attention to us.  Some were still good, but many didn't seem to care.  The tours were a mixed bag.  The first time we went in 1997 everything was period accurate no matter what the subject. That time?  Some tour guides showed up in jeans and jackets with flashlights.  Much preaching of course.  Naturally the lessons were exclusively negative: focus on persecution of Native Americans, sexism, bigotry and slavery in the 'every plantation and household was a gas chamber' template.  That prompted my second oldest to quip 'how did they have time to fight a revolution, what with all the time spent killing Indians, beating slaves and oppressing women?'.  

Now, to see the commercials, the history isn't even the point.  Ignoring the history, if anything, is the point.  And the newest trigger word 'Colonial' is removed. I have no doubt it's there if you visit.  But if the marketers and advertisers have their way, we'll never know unless we go.   

For decades - perhaps generations - we've been taught to hate the West, Christianity and America, though not necessarily in that order.  There was still enough hold over from olden times to dilute the message, especially for those of us who are around our forties or older.  But for the last couple generations, that is no longer the case.  For many coming into college now, they see Lincoln and Washington the way my generation was taught to see Hitler and Stalin.  And their nation, the United States?  They see it the way we saw the Nazis.   If' we're waiting for them to suddenly turn and start singing God Bless America, I fear we are going to have a long, long, long wait. 

Friday, September 29, 2023

Not Fat Bear Week!


That made me laugh.  This is what the press does.  It can blame the GOP exclusively on any shutdown, so we are treated to an endless parade of - anything - that demonstrates the harm that will be done.  They do this when, say, a Republican is in the White House and the economy is struggling.  I recall in the 80s, in the midst of the rebounding economy, it was a regular feature for newscasts to showcase 'those who are falling through the cracks'.  In the years leading up to the 2008 collapse, I remember newspapers and news broadcasts focusing on endless families and individuals wallowing in debt, or struggling with bills, or anything that said we were heading full steam into a recession. 

On the other hand, during the 1990s, apparently everyone was doing well.  I took note at the time regarding the change in mood when the press covered the economy.  It was, quite frankly, the greatest economy in history.  And apparently nobody was falling through the cracks, since you seldom heard about it.  Whether pop culture or the press, there was no showcasing of the poor, the poverty stricken, the ghettoes, the individual families interviewed to show not everyone was enjoying the bountiful harvest of Clinton era policies. 

Same during the Obama years.  In fact, it was the Obama years in which I learned no matter what the economic reports, it was always good news.  If unemployment went down, that was good.  If it went up, that could be good, too.  If the economy slowed, or seemed to be limping along, it always seemed to herald positive news for the future.  

Just like today.  As I said here, no matter how bad the inflation, the cost of living, the number of Americans unable to keep up, it's always framed in a 'but economist predict great news for the future!' Likewise, there are no anecdotal stories about Mr. and Mrs. American who are being hurt by the current economic situation.  Again, because of who is in the White House.  

But when the blame can be dropped on the GOP?  Why, we learn that our world hangs in the balance.  We meet individuals who will be devastated, we're told of specific people who will be harmed.  And we learn that above all things, we might not be able to have Fat Bear Week!  

Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  

A hobbit's holiday

Last year I posted a rambling about what autumn meant in the olden, agrarian days.  I noted that autumn, when the harvests were good, was a time of great celebration because it meant another year of life.  Of course if the harvests weren't good, autumn would not be as joyful.  

In the post, I quoted from Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  It detailed many of the scrumptious vittles that Mr. Crane beheld as he strolled across the Hudson River landscape.  It included not only baked and cooked wares, but also the succulent fruits of the harvest, from pumpkins to apples and everything in between. 

I was thinking on that as I read through The Hobbit this year. As I've said in the past, for the longest time I was never much of a fan of The Hobbit.  I have been a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings since I was in college.  But The Hobbit was part of that broader fantasy and sci-fi genre that has never - to this day - interested me that much.

Nonetheless, it has grown on me over the years.  I've come to appreciate its place in the greater Tolkien canon.  Unlike LoTR, The Hobbit is pure fairy tale.  A children's book  in the best sense, you see some of Tolkien in its pages in ways you might not in his more influential follow up. 

One way was Tolkien unpacking that rural, later Victorian era social setting that finds its way into his Shire.  It's there in Rings, at least at the beginning.  But as more than one literary commentator has pointed out, as the hobbits move from Hobbiton to take part in the greater War of the Ring, they leave that English pastoral setting and enter a vast, sweeping epic tale of mythical heroism.  

In The Hobbit, however, that Victorian setting oozes through the entire narrative.  And one way it raises its head is through Tolkien's emphasis on food.  In The Hobbit, Tolkien lays out what for him must have been standard, and at times coveted, items for a Victorian era menu.  Not only in the Unexpected Party, but nowhere else as much as in that first chapter.  Nor is it to say he never addresses menu items or the contents of a table in Rings.  It's just not quite unpacked to the same level.  

So I thought we could look at the world's first introduction to Middle Earth in The Hobbit.  Below is what I came up with looking at that party menu in Chapter One.  It is the most extensive list of foods that I'm aware of in any of his writings. Here he lets us see what the table should have looked like, at least as Tolkien envisioned it. 

At the unexpected party, before Bilbo meets the dwarves, he is preparing a 'low tea' for Gandalf the wizard.  For us Yanks, we might think that means a mundane, working class tea.  But in one of those linguistic twists in a culture, in Victorian England the 'low tea' was for the upper class.  It was set on a 'low' table, around plush furnishings, with the dainties and the pastries and the fine China we associate with your classic British tea.  The 'high' tea was called that because it was set on the higher tables associated with the working class, the servant class, and others who used higher set tables. Such teas would be for a later time of day, combined with dinner, and accompanied more with cold meats and cheeses and such.  

Close up of a 'beautifully round' seed cake
Anyway, Bilbo's tea is essentially sideswiped by the arrival of two dwarves, rather than Gandalf.  These two, Balin and Dwalin, are offered tea but dismiss the offer and ask instead for seed cakes, along with beer rather than tea.  Bilbo obliges with pints of beer and two 'beautiful round' seed cakes, which he appeared to possess in numbers.  

The other dwarves appear over time, up to the total number of thirteen plus Gandalf.  Fili and Kili arrive and join in and appear to accept what the first two are eating.  Nothing else is mentioned.  When Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin and Gloin arrive, however, we're told they ask for cakes as well, along with a different list of beverages:  ale, porter and even coffee.  

The joke there is that in English parlance, the terms 'ale' and 'porter', are basically two different terms for the beer mentioned above. The only difference is that the 'porter' references what we nowadays call stout, as in Guinness.  The other two terms are interchangeable for ale, as opposed to beers that we call lagers.  Eventually the seed cakes are gone, and they are treated to buttered scones in their place. 

The remaining dwarves finally arrive along with Gandalf and Thorin. It is here you get the biggest list of specific foods and drink.  It is implied they are offered tea again when Gandalf asks if there is anything left, but like the first two dwarves, he responds with a hearty 'no thanks'.  I wonder if that was Tolkien digging at England's most famous beverage based pastime.  Instead Gandalf asks for a little red wine, and Thorin jumps in with his only request by asking for the same. 

The other dwarves in this last arrival then interject a series of specific requests.  Bifur asks for raspberry jam and apple tart, while Bofur asks for mince pies and cheese.  Bombur - who Tolkien repeatedly points out is especially fat - asks for porkpie and salad.  The other dwarves call in through the door and ask for more cakes and ale and coffee.  To this Gandalf adds a request for a few eggs, as well as cold chicken and pickles.  Whether by more cakes they meant more seed cakes, or different types of cakes, isn't said. 

So the whole menu of Bilbo's unexpected party looks a bit like this, based upon what information we are specifically given:


·         coffee                                          Various

·         tea*                                             Offered only, never accepted        

·         pint of beer/ale                            Balin and Dwalin

·         ale/porter                                     Various

·         red wine                                      Gandalf and Thorin


·         pork­pie                                         Bombur

·         cold chicken                                 Gandalf

·         eggs                                              Gandalf

·         cheese                                           Bofur


·         salad                                              Bombur

·         pickles                                           Gandalf


·         biscuit                                            Bilbo

·         mince pies                                      Bofur

·         apple tart                                        Bifur

·         seed­cakes                                       Balin and Dwalin

·         buttered scones                              Various

·         raspberry jam                                 Bifur

I like that Bombur, the overweight dwarf, asks for porkpies (about the heaviest item on the list) and salad (the lightest).  I can't help but catch a twinkle in Tolkien's eye when he wrote that, and I don't think it was a random accident.   The pickles were a change from the original manuscript.  Apparently it originally read 'cold chicken and tomatoes.'  For some reason, Tolkien decided tomatoes didn't strike that appropriate Victorian/Middle Earth feel, and went for pickles instead. 

A traditional pork pie
So there you have it, at least in terms of the unexpected party.  The menu was what Tolkien no doubt experienced growing up in the English countryside.  With the exception of the red wine, none of it is 'high brow' fare.  In fact, the constant offer of tea by Bilbo, having planned a tea with Gandalf, and the one spread that would have echoed upper class British dining, is all but rejected. 

It's the middle class, working man's favorite foods you see here.  One food historian pointed out that in Leicestershire, there was a product called 'Mowbray Pork Pie' that had been sold since the 1830s, and was very popular through Tolkien's day.  Tolkien may have had those in mind when he has Bombur ask for the same followed by his request for a salad, perhaps to make it look good (a bit like ordering a Big Mac accompanied by a diet soda). 

So there you have it.  The introductory feast for first time visitors to Middle Earth. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

It's about time

My blog is an informal affair.  I don't do it for money.  I don't have fundraisers.  I have, on the rarest of occasions, asked for help when we were torpedoed by the fortunes of life.   But that's about it.  

I started the blog because a priest I worked with years ago made the suggestion.  He wanted me to write a book.  That's not really my cup of tea.  As anyone who reads my blog knows, I'm not a pro writer.  I'm a better public speaker, but only in front of people.  I would do a miserable job talking to a cell phone camera.  Despite that, I went ahead and started a blog because, back then, that's what you did. 

Mostly it has ebbed and flowed over the years. I would like to have a hobby blog, I just don't have hobbies.  At least none I'm singularly immersed in enough to continuously blog about.  Usually it ends up me fussing about what is happening in our world.  With an occasional deviation toward family or fun or quirky things. 

As a result, I have spent little time focused on the actual stats for my blog.  At Patheos we did focus on stats, and I was part of a Patheos Facebook group where everyone watched and evaluated each other.  That's when I was encouraged to comment on Facebook, a decision that ended up losing me several friends of the more tolerant sort. 

When I left Patheos I stopped caring about the stats again.  From the beginning I was content with my readership, whatever the numbers.  Early on I received a boost from none other than Mark Shea, who posted a link to my blog and gave it a shout out over at the old Catholic and Enjoying It.  Those were different times.  I also got a big boost when connected to The American Catholic.  

But a few months ago, without really trying, I noticed that my readership was getting close to a milestone - at least for me.  I realize that for most blogs, such numbers are a pittance.  My blog being a guppy in the vast ocean of Social Media.  Still, I began paying attention and waiting for it to break through that little milestone of 100K monthly views.  Something it has never done, even at Patheos. 

Finally, after several months of almost getting there, only to fizzle out at the end and fall short, I made it:

Heh. Again, I know for most this is small beans.  But it was fun watching the numbers get ever so close. I doubt I'll break any other statistical barriers, so this will suffice.  

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Do this

I received a notice from the local Republican party on Facebook.  I responded that before I do or support anything, I'd like to seem them, you know, do something.  I reminded them that when the Christopher Columbus statues in Columbus were Talibanned, they boldly declared that they would swoop in, grab them, and set them up around the state.  Where are they?  Right now the pro-choice machine is pushing Issue 1, which would enshrine abortion as a constitutional right in Ohio.  Already I've seen weeks of commercials, flier handouts, promotions and interviews pushing the issue.  I have yet to see anything from the opposition - either pro-life organizations or the GOP.   Our bishop is the only one I've seen pounding the table on resisting this. 

Too often that is how the resistance to what we call 'The Left' tends to be.  Always next year, then the resistance.  Someday we'll stake a stand.  We won't take much more of this.  By golly, one more and that will do it.  And yet we've gone from 'why can't a man and woman have sex outside of marriage' to 'you're damn right we'll alter the bodies of your adolescents and we'll use the State to prevent you from stopping us.'  Yet where is that fabled resistance?  What line is it we're waiting for them to cross?  Murdering our kid?  Gas chambers?  Just what are we waiting for?

This came to my mind because that particular GOP message was sent after this weekend.  If you're a college football fan, then you've probably heard about the post game interview with OSU coach Ryan Day.  Ohio State won a nailbiter of a game on Saturday.  Underdog to the Fighting Irish, it looked for most of the game like the predictions were accurate.  We would lose. So far this year our team has looked lackluster, and that included the first three quarters of the game Saturday night against Notre Dame.  We started the season with dueling quarterbacks, which is never good. And the quarterback we chose has been under-impressive, to be blunt. 

Despite Ryan Day being, in terms of percentages, one of the winningest college football coaches of all time, the big games have eluded him. True, the game against Clemson was lost on what I admit is the single worst call in football history.  But he's lost other big games as well.  And worse for any Buckeye fan, he has now lost two games in a row against Michigan.  That makes him the first OSU coach since John Cooper to do so. Therefore, no matter how pretty the stats, there has been a cloud over his tenure.  And in Ohio State Buckeye Fan parlance, that is translated as 'fire him, fire him now.'  

That wasn't helped going into this week, when most pundits and analysts concluded Ohio State didn't have a chance.  None other than legendary Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz said we weren't just going to lose, but we were going to lose because we aren't physical enough. We're soft.  Which is why we can't beat the big teams.  For OSU's fabled football program, that hurt. 

But again, most of the game looked that way.  Then, in the fourth quarter, with minutes left, down by four points, and seemingly unable to do anything well, the team hunkered down for some serious bump and grind football that would have made the late Bear Bryant proud.  Our new and sheepish quarterback completed one clutch pass after another, completing some in ways that were unbelievable.  We pushed our way down, overcoming perhaps the most convoluted Grounding call I've ever seen, and ended up on the one foot line.  Three seconds left, and we shoved our way into the end zone for a game winning touchdown. 

After the game, the obligatory interview with the winning coach took place. If we weren't ready for the heart-pounding victory that night, we were flabbergasted when coach Ryan Day responded to the reporter's question:

For context, Day has developed the reputation of being a rather 'blah' coach in interviews.  It's as if he's so scared he'll say anything, he usually ends up saying nothing.  Some reporters have called him the anti-Woody Hayes.  I'll admit, though I typically enjoy after game reporting, I've often ignored or just turned off the broadcasts because he hasn't been worth listening to.  It's all so - dull.

But my, oh my.  Naturally not everyone is happy, including detractors who have responded with the usual 'how dare you talk back to us after we called you losers.'  Some Buckeye's aren't either, but then Ohio State fans are a notoriously tough audience to please no matter what you do.  But not a few people - Ohio State fans and otherwise - have perked up and said it  was nice to see.  It was nice to see Day come out of his shell.  It was nice to see a coach be honest and passionate.  And most Ohio State fans  I know are tickled pink.  It's been since Woody Hayes that we've seen that much raw energy or intense support for the team.  

All of this came to my mind with that GOP post.  Whatever you think about Day's coaching interview above, that is exactly what people who see the crumbling of our civilization want from those who are supposed leaders of the resistance.  Whether politicians, pundits, activists, religious leaders, or whatever, that's what we're waiting for.  Why do we think so many Americans keep clinging to Trump?  

What we want is someone with the above passion, without feeling like we are compromising our values.  Someone who can clearly, honestly, bluntly and passionately rally the troops to stop what we're seeing.  We want leaders who will, like Day, stand up and defend our values, our heritage, our faith, our history, our heroes and ourselves.  Give us that, oh local GOP, and we will follow you anywhere.  The same goes for our bishops.  The same goes for anyone who will stand up to resist the madness and the coming darkness.

Saturday, September 23, 2023


So I was out walking the other day with my wife.  Our neighborhood has a nice little walk track that meanders through some woods, exits near some open fields, and then around part of our cookie cutter suburb.  While you don't see many kids out nowadays, you sometimes see evidence that they exist.  A tricycle in the yard.  A few toys.  Sometimes sidewalk chalk drawings.  

Now, usually the drawings are cute.  Little stick figures.  Suns with happy faces.  Flowers.  But when we were walking down in front of some of the houses, we came across this:

Wow.  All I could think of was the parent saying 'Would you like to draw some pretty flowers, or our house, or some fluffy clouds?'  And the kids saying 'Nah, I want to do a replica of stained glass window art from a 13th century Gothic Cathedral.' 

It takes a lot to impress me.  And it isn't hard to see how it was done. But you have to admit, that's some pretty darn ambitious sidewalk chalk art.  

Friday, September 22, 2023

Making the Christian Church irrelevant

Ages ago, during my journey into the Catholic Church, I stumbled upon Mark Shea's old blog Catholic and Enjoying It.  Later, I had the chance to meet Mark at the EWTN studios.  We chatted for a while.  He seemed somewhat engaged as we discussed my conversion.  Mostly he rose up and took notice when I mentioned that, before I entered the Church, I spent years looking into the Catholic Faith.  What I found, more often than not, was people who told me that being Catholic means, well, whatever you want it to mean.  Catholics believe all sorts of things really, at least nowadays.  Most seemed to find that refreshing.  Which sounded to me more of a Protestant caricature than most Protestants I knew.

Mark made a quip about Catholics being the biggest obstacle for non-Catholics entering the Church.  Or some such.  He assured me that this was NOT Catholicism.  Catholicism is not a salad bar, where you can pick and choose your beliefs and favorite doctrines.  It isn't Protestantism, where you chase after your own version of the Faith and build a new church based on the latest.  You can't just take parts of the Church's teachings and ditch them because you don't like them.  In answering a question I emailed him requesting more specifics, he made it clear that the Magisterium isn't the latest opinions about Church teaching.  And we can't just go back through church history, find obscure teachings or writings by even the Church Fathers, and then use isolated statements to reject what the Church has universally affirmed and taught through the ages. 

Which is why I link to this.  I mostly ignore Mark at this point.  But this is worth noting.  Mark has linked to Orthodox firebrand David Bentley Hart.  To traditional and little-o Orthodox Christians, Hart is a bit like John Dominic Crossan of the infamous Jesus Seminar (Mark Shea used to eviscerate Crossan for his liberal theological approach to the Faith).  Or John Shelby Spong, who incorporated a liberation emphasis with his already liberal theological approach.  That is, not only can much of the Faith be dismissed as erroneous, but let's not forget the evil sexism, racism and other phobic teachings.  Or, in older days, Hart might be a Moltmann, or a Bultmann figure, or any one of the 20th Century liberal theologians of the Protestant world assuring us that large swaths of Christian teaching must simply be left behind. 

In short, Hart rejects fealty to the historical faith. He has absolutely no problem saying the Church has gotten it wrong for, oh, these last 2000 years.  Like many who tack left, he has a knack for displaying contempt for those yokels who haven't seen the light. An Orthodox writer I followed during my time with the Orthodox Church posted on Hart's book, in which Hart calls for an end to the concept of heresies (smart move), as well as the doctrine of Hell, and an even more extreme form of Theosis, or becoming like God:

Obviously not a fan.  And a bit harsh for my taste. But he's defending the Orthodox Church against the same attacks that liberal theologians have been launching at the Western Church for generations.  Attacks grounded in the same secular and theologically liberal interpretations of the Scriptures and the Church's history.  You know - you can't take the miracles seriously, the prophets were written after the fact, as were Jesus' statements suggesting foreknowledge, that Isaiah or much of the New Testament was written by anyone other than who tradition says, we can't believe there ever existed a Noah, Moses, Abraham, David (or in recent years, the apostles), or that many of the teachings of Scripture and historical Christianity are from a barbaric time of the past to be rejected.  That sort of thing.  

What is noteworthy is how Mark, who once railed against this liberal relativism where the historical Christian Faith is concerned, seems to hang on Hart's every word.  He does say he's not prepared to embrace Hart's certainty that the Church has been full of BS where the doctrine of Hell is concerned.  Nonetheless, he appears to exalt Hart, allow for that particular revised take on Church doctrine, and all while Hart is doing what Mark insisted should never, ever be done.  At least what should never, ever be confused with Catholic teaching. 

In addition, look at the comments.  Notice the casual way that commenters say they used to believe in Hell, but they're felling much better now.  Thanks goodness they threw that doctrine out the window.  See Mark's statement to me about not being able to do that.  

Yet such is post-Christian era neo-Christianity. We can actually say - with a straight face - that the first twenty centuries of Church teaching is not a deal breaker.  In our post-Christian era, it's as if we are prepared to rewrite the entire Christian faith in our image.  Or at least the image demanded by our post-Christian age.  

I can't imagine anything that will render not only the Catholic Church, but the Christian Faith as a whole, more irrelevant than the constant call to reimagine and reject anything and everything from the Faith's first 2000 years.  It doesn't seem to be working, as more and more young people are turning away and outright denouncing everything the biblical witness brought to the world.  Which makes perfect senses.  They've been taught by our society for generations that religion is a lie we tell ourselves anyway.  This merely confirms the lesson.  Plus, who's to say we're right this time?   Certainly it's questionable we're right about some invisible God in an invisible heaven with an invisible Spirit, when the Church can't seem to get a grip on the basics.  Best to use Sunday mornings to sleep in at this point.

BTW, in case you're wondering, for many Orthodox Christians, Hart was a sort of Scott Hahn, or for Protestants, a James Dobson type.  A layperson they admired because he is quite brilliant, a deep thinker, and not afraid to say what he thinks.  And for a long time, his energies were directed at stomping for adherence to the Faith once and for all delivered to the saints.  Somewhere and at some time, however, he turned a hard left, and more than one Orthodox observer has echoed the concerns and anger of the fellow above.  How and why this happened is, I'm sure, a bigger story than this little blog can speak to.  But it has caused as much concern in Orthodox circles as the rise of liberal critical rejection of the historical Faith did to us Westerners.  Or at least concern among those who take the historical teachings of the Faith seriously. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The prophet Trump

I am no fan of Donald Trump.  I have made that more than clear.  My favorite quip when accused of being some MAGA Trump fanatic is that I was actually ahead of the curve.  I didn't like Trump for all those years that Democrats and Hollywood liberals loved the guy and couldn't wait to party with him and ask him for money.  It didn't take him putting an 'R' in front of his name for him to become StatnHiterlTrump in my world.

Nonetheless, I admit the nation was better off going into the disaster of 2020 than it was in 2016.  There came a time when I couldn't drive to the store for bread and not see a new car sticker on a vehicle.  Wages went up.  ISIS was no longer the new normal.  Personal debt began to drop.  And savings were beginning to rise. 

And, to be honest, he nailed the opposition for what it is.  In the great Charlottesville iconoclast protest, he said then that it has nothing to do with Robert E. Lee.  It is the beginning of a Taliban style assault on our very heritage, history and heroes.  It soon would be Lincoln and Washington and anyone linked to the past the Left would erase from the history books. 

And so it is.  NYC is pondering, beyond paying off African Americans for alone ever having had ancestors who suffered, going St. Stalin on a laundry list of statues dedicated to almost any white person from the past including, but not limited to, George Washington.  Just as Trump said. 

One reason I'm convinced people who otherwise couldn't abide Trump supported him, was because he stated the obvious when no other 'conservatives' would.  The Left is an anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Christian force dedicated to destroying almost everything we have taken for granted.  And it does so by hook or by crook, through mendacity and lies, hypocrisy and utter corruption.  Perhaps he wouldn't say it today.  With Trump, you never know.  But he got it right then, and every day proves Trump right in that matter if nothing else. 

Friday, September 15, 2023

How old am I?

I'm old enough to remember when the Gay Rights Movement insisted nobody would ever be punished for disagreeing with gay marriage.  That was back in the 80s, when the - then - ludicrous notion that we could redefine marriage to include a gay couple was first floated.  As usual, the non liberals saw a clash of interests if gay marriage ever became a thing.  That was certainly an issue when I entered ministry, yet more than one liberal leaning colleague couldn't understand the worries.  Nothing but paranoia (or latent homosexual desires) they insisted.  All they wanted was for two adults to be able to be married and express their love for one another.  At no point would someone who disagrees be punished.  

Again, if I had three nickels for every time a progressive activist insisted they won't do something, only to watch them do it a few years later, I could buy Twitter.  It happens so regularly that, by now, we realize it isn't a coincidence or some strange development that occasionally happens.  It is part of the strategy, and has been all along. 

Oh, and that goes for the liberal objection that Kim Davis broke the law.  Yeah.  That's what comes from doing what those liberals I grew up with said is a no-no: legislating morality to impose your values on others.  You can never impose your values on others, so I was told a million times.  Again, here today, gone yesterday.  That is the modernist approach to principles. 

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Pope Francis and those rascally Mongolians

So everyone was buzzing about Pope Francis' usual off the cuff remarks.  In this case, praising the history of Imperial Russia, giving high fives to China without qualifiers and, in a shock to many, praising the glories of the Mongol Empire.  

Now, this is standard leftwing boilerplate.  If it's west of the Danube or from North America, then it's a watermarked Swastika.  Otherwise, eh.  It's generally pretty awesome.  In this Washington Post piece, we learn just how cool the Mongols were, as oppose to those backward Europeans and Christians who were all about thinking on how cool the Mongols were. 

When I was in high school and college in the 1980s, the uber-narrative of history was that the world still owed the Western Tradition big time.  Though you could find glimmers of good things here and there throughout the ages, the whole package came together in the West like no other time or place in human history.  The wealth and luxury, the medical and technological breakthroughs, the basic creature comforts we take for granted that would have been science fiction a century before.  Not to mention the full package deal of democracy, equality, human rights, and rule of law. All came together in the West and culminated in the American Experiment like never before.

With that said, in the post-60s and 70s, we were also being called on to revisit the sins of our past.  It wasn't enough to say it was bad we used to own slaves, but isn't it awesome we stopped?  We had to bring back the sins and repent, repent and repent again.  We also had to admit that, at our worst, we were just as bad as any other culture in history.  Likewise, in different ways, those cultures could at times be as good as us.  OK, fair enough.

But by the time my boys entered public school in the 2000s, that narrative was gone. Two decades of a corrupted view of multi-culturalism, injected with leftwing and Marxist sympathies, threw that narrative out the window.  By the time my sons came along, we had long proved the Mormons had to be wrong.  Jesus never came to the New World.  He wasn't good enough.  The Americas, like anywhere outside of Europe/ North America, were perfect and beautiful and filled with perfect and beautiful people.  Think Dances With Wolves.  

The rest of the world was the same.  I recall seeing a children's book about the Aztecs in a children's book section.  Beautiful people those Aztecs.  Peace loving, gentle, innovative, hard working.  A virtual paradise.  Back in 2011, I posted on a book pitched on CNN about how awesome was the Mongol Empire.  When I read my son's high school world history book, it was pretty much that.  Beautiful empires in beautiful cultures and beautiful societies with beautiful people.  Except the West.  That's where the racism, sexism, phobias and bigotry ran rampant, usually with a boorish and backward people who ate dirt and never bathed.  The only bright spot in the West being shout outs to figures like Lenin, Mao, and Marx. 

So not really sure why the shock here. As typical, Pope Francis is simply repeating leftwing narratives and templates since that's where he abides.  Just like his dig early on in his pontificate about America and the Holocaust.  He apparently accepted the old canard about how we could have stopped the Holocaust by bombing a couple rail lines. Easy-peasy.  But no.  Not America. You know us and our racism.  Which is why he has hated January 6th, but has loved BLM. 

One of the core messages of the Left is that the world was nearly a perfect paradise, especially where knowing the importance of population control and animal pleasures are concerned.  But then came the vile Western Tradition, which visited all the evils of the world upon humanity.  So bad is it presented now, that anything associated with white, European and American Christians can and should be reimagined or outright rejected.  Among such things are ideals like forgiveness, reconciliation, equality and liberties traditionally understood. I expect more will be added to the list at the rate we're going.  And I seriously doubt Pope Francis will stand in the way. 

Monday, September 11, 2023


 I'd like to forget. 

We didn't realize that as went the towers, so would go the country

9/11 was what Imperial Japan had hoped Pearl Harbor would be, but wasn't.  Within weeks we were beginning to turn on one another.  I had OSU Football tickets for September 15 that year.  Of course I did.  The game was postponed and moved to October, OSU's bye week that year.  My wife and I went to that game in October, warry of any airplanes that might be overhead.  On the way, we heard on the radio news (I always listen to the game news when I go to a game) a story about some pushback against the late Rush Limbaugh.  Apparently he said something about the Democrats going after Bush and it had everyone upset.  That was in October.  A little over a month after the attacks.  The threads were already beginning to fray.

On the day of the attacks I recall the late Peter Jennings slamming George Bush for his absence and apparent inaction.  A criticism that picked up speed in the weeks following.  I also remember race peddler Al Sharpton being interviewed and accusing us of racism for assuming that the attackers were Muslim.  Even though by then much of the information was being driven by what we knew.  Clearly this was going to be what Japan wanted Pearl Harbor to be, not what Pearl Harbor became.

A big problem was that our president was an empty suite.  A man over his head.  When he arrived at Ground Zero and gave a rousing pep rally speech, that ended his positive contributions to the cause.  His 'Our civilization is under attack, quick!  Go shopping!' call muddled the response and confused a nation.  He was clearly not prepared for an opposition party that was immediately more concerned about making sure he didn't benefit politically from the attacks than actually fighting the ones who attacked us.  Recall that, until the attacks, our nation was still wracked with protests, charges of an illegal election, and calls to have his presidency scrubbed since he was not a valid president.  It wouldn't take long for his opponents to recover that priority.  Not to mention his 'It's the Religion of Peace!' moment, which played into the post-9/11 theme that the attacks were horrible, so what did we do to make them hate us?  After all, we had met the enemy, and it was us. 

Within months, it was easy to see things begin to fall apart.  From the AP musing on whether it's appropriate to call the attackers terrorists (a problem we apparently resolved on January 6th, 2021), to reports that the Flight 93 passengers maybe weren't so heroic, or nobody said 'Let's Roll!', it was easy to see the writing on the wall.  American liberalism was clearly more concerned with continuing the post-Cold War deconstruction of our nation than fighting to preserve it. 

Of course the fabled 'New Atheists' made bank on the attacks, being able to be interviewed by journalists with a straight face as they insisted the problems of the world were always because of religion.  Seeing our general appraisal of religion, especially among younger Americans, after the attacks compared to before was like night and day.  

When professor and scholar Ward Churchill made his hateful '3000 Eichmanns' statement about the 9/11 victims, he eventually lost his job.  Which was fine by me.  But I was stunned by the debate in the media.  It was reported as '9/11 victims as Eichmanns who got what they had coming - a polite discussion tonight on the evening news.'  Again, no 'we vow to remember the 7th of December' there.  

Now I don't pretend that this all began with 9/11.  I recall Max Lucado, that smooth Christian writer who rose to prominence with books that presented the Gospel message in very vanilla terms.  When everyone was rushing about saying 'Don't let this change us!  That will let the attackers win!', he had a different take.  He wrote an editorial that said he hopes it does change us.  Our nation's only hope is if it does.  He pointed out that , if we were honest, we shouldn't want things going in the direction they were going on September 10th, 2001.  In hindsight, and with an honest appraisal of all those years ago, he was clearly correct.  By 2023, a growing number of Americans are committed to nothing other than continuing the vision and the goal of those hijackers on that bright Tuesday morning. 

Sorry to be a David downer.  I know this is a time when everyone remembers, and rightly pays tribute to those who lost their lives and those who gave the last full measure of devotion. Nonetheless, this seldom comes up anymore.  It's as good a time as any to state the obvious.  Unless things turn radically and quickly, the epitaph for that day will not be 'a day of infamy'.  It will be 'and that's all she wrote'. 

Saturday, September 9, 2023


Apparently here in Ohio is the longest haunted house tour in the country.  An abandoned mine in Lewisburg, outside of Dayton, is said to be some 800 feet long.   Now that isn't going to be on my itinerary any time soon.  Not because of the haunted house part.  I'm not much of a haunted house fan.   I find them gaudy and predictable and usually rather dull.  But because it's in an abandoned mine.  Underground.  Like a cave.  And that's all you have to say to get from me a fast exit, stage right.  

Claustrophobia is my one bona fide phobia.  I'm not a fan of spiders, though I feared them more when I was young. As I got older, I came to appreciate the work they do in keeping out the insect riffraff.  I have a rule of thumb with spiders.  Any spiders smaller than my thumbnail and I let them go - within reason.   

Heights are also a thing, but only  on shaky ladders and precarious landings.  I could go to the edge of the Grand Canyon or look out from the Empire State Building and it wouldn't bother me.  Just don't put me on an unbalanced step ladder.  But I don't consider that a phobia as much as common sense.

But claustrophobia?  You bet.  Years ago, before our oldest was born, we went with my wife's family to Disney World in Florida.  They talked me into getting on the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride.  Now I knew I wasn't in a real submarine, nor was I a million feet under the water.  I got that it was all an illusion.  Nonetheless, my wife's niece was sitting beside me and for the entire *blinking* time she rattled on about how it was really like being stuck in a closed in submarine, far under water, with no escape.  I finally told her if she didn't stop she'd be going out the torpedo tubes even if there weren't any. 

While I'm not fan of haunted houses, I do appreciate spooky locations. And if someone ever came up with some understated, subtle form of a haunted house I might just go and check it out.  But an 800 foot tour through an underground mine?  You, my friends, can count me out. 


Friday, September 8, 2023

Sometimes you can't figure people

For the last couple days, I've seen news stories pondering why, despite such overwhelmingly positive economic news, Americans don't think Biden is doing a good job.  Some polls suggest Americans think he is doing a dismal job. 

The reason, of course, is that things are pretty miserable and we are a diminishing and crumbling society.  Part of that trend is watching a growing number of Americans unable to afford the basics.  The news keeps saying spending is strong.  Yeah.  Because the things people need to survive are off the scale expensive, and people are going into historically unprecedented levels of personal debt to keep up with just surviving.  Yesterday we had to buy laundry soap, toilet paper and dryer sheets.  We bought the smallest packages and got generic brands.  The total was almost $19.00.  That is unsustainable.  

Funny thing people.  You can tell them everything is peachy about vague things, but you can't tell people who can barely afford groceries that everything is awesome.  They won't believe you.  They may just resent you.

In 2016, after the conventions, I caught Fareed Zakaria on CNN.  He gave an editorial that had one clear message: The world was officially better than any time in history, and we owe it all to President Obama and his administration (read: Hillary Clinton).  The problem?  Things weren't great at all.  The post-2008 recovery was anemic at best.  ISIS was on the rampage and all we were told was to accept the new normal.  The African American community had all but been thrown under the bus.  And I could drive for weeks, if not months, without seeing a newly purchased car on the road. 

You can talk until you're blue in the face, but you can't tell people they never had it so good when they remember not so long ago when they had it so good, if not better.  The press made a huge mistake with that in 2016, believing that no matter what, a few propaganda nudges like Zakaria's screed would seal the deal and convince Americans to vote Hillary.  After all, Clinton was running against Trump for crying out loud.  Yet we saw how that turned out. 

You'd think they wouldn't repeat the same mistake again.  Fact is, except for hardcore leftwing thralls, most Americans can see the obvious.  As much as the press tries to make it about just hating the right groups of those people over there, most are increasingly bothered that things are getting worse and not better.  The press trying every other day to run stories about how great the economy is, how Bidenomics is doing a wonderful job, and how the future looks rosy and cheerful will at best not convince people who can't afford food without going into debt.  At worst, it will chase them away from the polls come November, or into the arms of you-know-who.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Dawn Eden and what Catholics told me

When I was going through RCIA, I was told that the Catholic Church - apparently unlike Protestants - doesn't elevate our religious leaders to celebrity status.  We don't make it about them. We make it about God.  And that's how we like it.  No spotlight ministries or rock star pastors.  Catholics always point to Christ, not ordained celebrities. 

I thought of that when I saw this:

We'll set aside Ms. Eden's ongoing crusade to perpetually condemn the sins of Catholics where antisemitism is concerned.  That's what comes from swinging left of center.  As one of my boys has said, when your resume of generational accomplishments is as blank as ours, condemning the sins of those who came before is about all you have left. 

But the 'Pope Francis Generation' caught my attention.  Sorry, but that seems very celebrity-spotlight-rock star-ordained minister to my eyes.  We're not the Catholic, the faithful, or even the 21st Century Catholic generation.  We're the Pope Francis Generation!  I'm trying to recall any Protestants I remember saying that we were the Billy Graham generation or the Rick Warren generation.  Nope.  Not remembering it. 

But these are the values inspired by Pope Francis. Not only are we at our best when we perpetually call out the sins of those not-me Catholics-who-lived-before-me.  But the rules, like not celebrating the priesthood as rock stars the way Protestant do, can change to keep up with the always improving times.  Which might be the true legacy of Pope Francis.  In the end, there is nothing that can't be changed when it comes to changing what can't be changed. 

When I see the world lead the modern Church around on a leash

 It brings to mind this old Looney Tunes cartoon from back in the day:

I'll leave you to figure which dog reminds me of the world, and which one reminds me of the Christian Church today. 

Was a time when the Church was about converting the world to Christ.  But for too long the world has been converting the Church to secularism, and I'm not sure we realized it.  

Monday, September 4, 2023

Pope Francis and ideological commodities

I don't hate Pope Francis.  I don't think he is the Antichrist.  I don't think he sneaks around and throws banana peels in front of nursing homes just for fun.  I don't  go home every night and stick pins in my little Pope Francis doll.  

True, I don't care for how he conducts himself.  I don't like his 'do as I say, not as I do' schtick.  I don't care for his inconsistencies and at times incoherent ramblings.  I disagree with his political liberalism and nakedly Marxist based Liberation Theology.  I don't like the priorities he has established, where fealty to various leftwing (let's be honest) political agendas are the deal breakers versus fealty to the Gospel, the teachings of the Church, and the virtues of Christian living.

With that said, he has pointed out things I do agree with. One has been calling out the practice of seeing human beings as nothing but commodities. I don't think there is an issue with commodities per se.  But humans are not a commodity.  And he is correct in pointing that out.

But there are many ways to turn humans into a commodity.  One way that has become almost universal in our modern media culture is humans as ideological commodities.  That is, humans, human lives, human suffering, and human death matter only insofar as they can be shamelessly exploited to defend established narratives or advance political and social activism and agendas. 

This is most flagrantly demonstrated by the modern news media not giving two damns or a hell about human misery, struggles, pain or even death unless they can be used to further the press's pet objectives.  For instance, the killing of three black victims by an avowed white racist.  

There are literally dozens of Americans murdered in the country every day.  Most go unreported beyond a local news story.  Many are all but ignored even then.  Then why this?  We've had killings of multiple people in our neck of the woods over the last few weeks.  Why haven't they made the national news?  Earlier in the year a young newlywed who was not black was hacked to death by a black man with a machete.  Why didn't CNN or ABC or the NYT or other outlets rush out here and make that front page news?  Why is this killing of three people suddenly round the clock, top of the hour, international front page news?  Why is it still making news a week later

For obvious reasons, that's why.  I won't belabor the point or insult your intelligence by writing it all out as if you're too dense to know why.  This is a grave sin and intrinsic  evil, to so use and exploit, or ignore and dismiss, human death and misery simply based on ideological convenience. I'd like to think when Pope Francis calls hellfire down on the idea of making human beings into commodities, at the front of his mind is the modern media's flagrant exploitation of human beings for the sole purpose of advancing an agenda.  For using human beings as nothing more than ideological commodities. I'd really like to think that's on his mind when he speaks of such sins. 

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Pope Francis is the pope the World has been hoping for

Because of the example he sets: 


This is what I expect on Social Media. Or a middle school locker room. Or an elementary school playground.  Not from the spiritual leader of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. 

Note there is no humility.  No concern.  No caring about those who might have been hurt by what he said.  He clearly doesn't care.  And there's nothing our modern age loves more than someone who affirms our right to care or not care based on expediency. 

Rolling Stone: this time being prophetic