May 112017

One of the developments of the last two Presidential Administrations has been the use of Religious Sisters to support their goals.

President Barack Obama said that the Affordable Care Act—AKA Obamacare—would not have been enacted had it not been for Sister Carol Keehan. She was at the signing center for the “Affordable Care Act” and was given the pen the President used to sign the bill. She did not hold out for the traditional 30 pieces of silver.

“And it’s true, I just love nuns, generally. I’m just saying,” said Obama.

That love did not apply to the Little Sisters of the Poor or other religious groups as the so-called “Contraception Mandate” was forced on them where multiple accommodations led to no real accommodation and only to the courts where this is still not resolved.

Recently on May 4th.

President Donald Trump invited members of the Little Sisters of the Poor on stage ahead of his signing of a religious liberty executive order Thursday.

“We know, all too well, the attacks against the Little Sisters of the Poor,” Trump said, “Incredible nuns who care for the sick, the elderly and the forgotten.”

So finally the problems the Little Sisters of the Poor had has been resolved. Well not really. The Executive Order is weak sauce and the problem should have been taken care of at HHS where the “Contraception Mandate” was created as an interpretation of ACA.

So again we have Nun Props for a President to use. (Yeah I know their Sisters, but Nun Props flows better). I felt embarrassed for the Little Sisters of the Poor being used for a photo op. Time will tell if the actual problem gets fixed, but so far President Trump seems to like the idea of appearing to want to protect Religious Freedom over actually doing something. Yeah typical politician.

Nov 242016

While Chesterton has been tagged as being the Apostle of Common Sense, I would add also a the Apostle of Gratitude and Thanksgiving. Nothing makes me see the actual wonder of our lives as much as GKC does.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” (A Short History of England » Ch. 6: The Age of the Crusades)

“When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”

This one described much of my life as an atheist to a T (there is a Tau joke in there no doubt).

“The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.”

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” (early notebook, mid 1890s)

And lastly:

“The Americans have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England.” (Chesterton in America “And What about the Quakers?”)

Sep 122016

Tim Kaine claims Catholic Church could change on gay marriage.

Washington D.C., Sep 11, 2016 / 04:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, a Catholic who is currently the junior Virginia senator, said on Saturday that he thinks the Church will eventually drop its opposition to same-sex marriage.

“I think it’s going to change because my church also teaches me about a creator who, in the first chapter of Genesis, surveyed the entire world, including mankind, and said, ‘It is very good’,” Kaine said Sept. 10, according to the Associated Press.

His comments came during his keynote address at the national dinner for Human Rights Campaign, an influential LGBT advocacy group, in Washington, D.C.

Tim Kaine is no doubt another great Selfie Prophet. Being able to predict that the Church will change to his beliefs. That after close to 2,000 years finally we have a theologian with the depth of Kaine to set us straight (pun always intended).

Just like the religious sisters who proclaim themselves part of a prophetic movement. More like a pathetic movement. They are prophets not calling for people to repent, but for the Church to do so. Prophets applauded rather than persecuted. The Old Testament prophet had to call out the people for being lax and following the spirit of the age. These modern “prophets” say “Hey get with the spirit of the age” and that those who actually follow and believe Church teaching must repent.

The hubris of the age is “The Church is wrong and I am right.” My will be done. In my own experience I found the exact opposite to be true.

Really I can’t understand the idea of wanting to belong to a Church that could change here teaching. One that does is a human institution with no authority to teach. Development of doctrine is one thing, theological U-Turns quite another.

An imbecile habit has risen in modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed can be held in one age but cannot be held in another. Some dogma was credible in the 12th century, but is not credible in the 20th. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays (G.K. Chesterton – Orthodoxy)

If same-sex marriage was actually marriage then you would have to say the Holy Spirit was rather incompetent. That somehow nowhere in scripture is there one example of same-sex marriage being normative. That God from the beginning intended homosexual acts to be normative, and yet never mention this fact or guides his people to this fact. That we had to wait for abortion loving Democrats to finally learn the truth.

Recently we had a Catholic Vice President officiate a so-called same-sex marriage, and now a Catholic VP candidate telling us how the Church will change regarding this.

Aug 252016

From St. Augustine’s City of God.

So we must not grumble, my brothers, for as the Apostle says: Some of them murmured and were destroyed by serpents. Is there any affliction now endured by mankind that was not endured by our fathers before us? What sufferings of ours even bear comparison with what we know of their sufferings? And yet you hear people complaining about this present day and age because things were so much better in former times. I wonder what would happen if they could be taken back to the days of their ancestors–would we not still hear them complaining? You may think past ages were good, but it is only because you are not living in them.

It amazes me that you who have now been freed from the curse, who have believed in the son of God, who have been instructed in the holy Scriptures–that you can think the days of Adam were good. And your ancestors bore the curse of Adam, of that Adam to whom the words were addressed: With sweat on your brow you shall eat your bread; you shall till the earth from which you were taken, and it will yield you thorns and thistles. This is what he deserved and what he had to suffer; this is the punishment meted out to him by the just judgment of God. How then can you think that past ages were better than your own? From the time of that first Adam to the time of his descendants today, man’s lot has been labor and sweat, thorns and thistles. Have we forgotten the flood and the calamitous times of famine and war whose history has been recorded precisely in order to keep us from complaining to God on account of our own times? Just think what those past ages were like! Is there one of us who does not shudder to hear or read of them? Far from justifying complaints about our own time, they teach us how much we have to be thankful for.

There is much just critique of the cult of progress where history is seen as a line sloping up. Progress measured by an ever changing metric.

“Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision.” G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)

At the same time there is a view taking the opposite direction of regression and decline. A nostalgic take for a world that never existed.

Both view things that we are in a point of history that intersects either a line going upward or downward. As a pessimistic/optimist I am at times drawn to both viewpoints. Still I think Dicken’s famous introduction regarding it being the best of times and the worst of times is the correct view that straddles all points of the timeline. The present is always a mixture of various rise and falls.

“I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a ‘long defeat’ – though it contains some samples or glimpses of final victory.” J.R.R. Tolkien

With a clear-headedness we can see all that we have to be thankful for even in the most tumultuous of times. There has never been a time when someone could not be a saint. If anything society’s brokenness can shine a light on our own brokenness.

“At times of course it is hard to understand this profound reality, because evil is noisier than goodness; an atrocious murder, widespread violence, grave forms of injustice hit the headlines; whereas acts of love and service, the daily effort sustained with fidelity and patience are often left in the dark, they pass unnoticed” (Te Deum and First Vespers: Homily of Benedict XVI, 31 December 2012)

So easy to put a lot of effort in what’s wrong with the world and others, and little effort with the same in ourselves. I would rather rant than pray. Long for holiness while not wanting to put much effort into that desire. Knowing I suck, while seriously trying to not block the grace to reduce my suckitude.

The saints are oases around which life sprouts up and and something of the lost paradise returns. (Pope Benedict XVI Jesus of Nazareth P. 248)

Jul 192016

When it comes to Donald Trumps presidential campaign there are all kinds of theories involving it. One common one is that he was setting this up for Hillary as he previously supported her. Considering his ego, I don’t find that compelling.

What can explain such a badly run campaign on every level? It’s like he is doing everything he can to loose.

Some have conjectured that Trump was never really in it to win, but as a vanity run for self-promotion.

“good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.”
― Donald J. Trump, Trump: The Art of the Deal

I find this theory to fit the facts better, but doesn’t fully account for his ego.

If this explanation has any merit it dawned on me a movie plot that explained everything.

In the plot of Mel Brooks’s The Producers (1967) they hit upon a plot for creating a play sure to fail, while getting seed money from rich old ladies with each promised a substantial take of the profits. So they proceed to write a musical about Hitler while hiring the worst actors possible. Of course it becomes a big hit and their scheme fails in the worst way possible.

So if you wanted to run a failed GOP presidential campaign:

  • Write crazy stream-of-consciousness Twitter feed.
  • Make outrageous remarks during debates and speeches.
  • Praise Planned Parenthood.
  • Appeal to our worst nature and say things that would make Know-Nothings proud.
  • Offer to pay legal bills if fans beat up protesters.
  • Say that the father of a rival candidate helped killed Kennedy.
  • Make policy positions all over the map, that change constantly.
  • No understanding of foreign policy while not doing basic homework.
  • Spending little or no money for political advertisements.
  • This list can go on and on.

Guaranteed to ensure a failed run, except like in The Producers where “Springtime for Hitler” became a hit – so does The Donald. Writing a play so outrageous and in such bad taste was hilarious in The Producers. Not so funny when a equally deplorable script has become the election season.

You can’t make this stuff up.

What scares me is not that he can’t win against Hillary, but that he could. Pundits have been wrong pretty much about every projection regarding his run.

So those in the GOP who were screaming for a “Big Tent”, well we got one full of clowns. A convention turned into a circus. We have gone from “Character counts” to “Character Assassination Counts”. Great way to defeat the despicable morally corrupt Hillary Clinton, by countering at the same level.

Reality was better when you could discern it from satire.

Jun 272016

WASHINGTON—On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-3 ruling in the abortion facility medical standards case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for pro-life communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, reacted to the loss.

“The Court has rejected a common-sense law protecting women from abortion facilities that put profits above patient safety,” McQuade said. “The law simply required abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as other ambulatory surgical centers – standards like adequate staffing, soap dispensers, and basic sanitary conditions. It required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and that hallways be wide enough to allow emergency personnel through with stretchers, should a life-threatening emergency arise.” USCCB

Because abortion must be protected at all costs, regardless of the cost to women. Because access to unsanitary, unsafe, clinics staffed by “doctors” with insufficient credentials is a “right” don’t-you-know.

Modern progressivism will regulate everything from toilets to lightbulbs and constantly demand more regulation. But in this case “Keep your hands off our dirty clinics!”.

If abortuaries have to shut down because they can’t keep the same standards of ambulatory surgical centers, the problem is not with the law. Remember when Democrats wanted abortion to be safe, legal, and rare? Well “legal, legal, and legal” is good enough.

The Washington Post weighs in with Supreme Court rules against Texas and for science in abortion case. Wow science!

Wow I wish I could be as pro-women as The Daily Show.

As Mary Eberstadt notes:

In the new dispensation, traditional restrictions and attitudes are viewed as judgmental, moralistic forms of socially sanctioned aggression, especially against women and sexual minorities. These victims of sexuality have become the new secular saints. Their virtue becomes their rejection and flouting of traditional sexual morality, and their acts are effectively transvalued as positive expressions of freedom.

The first commandment of this new secularist writ is that no sexual act between consenting adults is wrong. Two corollary imperatives are that whatever contributes to consenting sexual acts is an absolute good, and that anything interfering, or threatening to interfere, with consenting sexual acts is ipso facto wrong.

Note the absolutist character of these beliefs as they play out in practice. For example, it is precisely the sacrosanct, nonnegotiable status assigned to contraception and abortion that explains why — despite historical protestations of wanting abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” — in practice, secularist progressivism defends each and every act of abortion tenaciously, each and every time.

On a side note, who is writing headlines for the USCCB “Bishops’ Pro-Life Spokeswoman Laments High Court Decision Rejecting Abortion Clinic Safety Law”.

May 172016

A couple of weeks I listened to an episode of Catholic Answers Focus where Patrick Coffin interviewed Father Douglas Joseph Shimshon Al-Bazi, a Syriac-Catholic Priest who was captured and tortured by Islamic State terrorists. Quite a harrowing story. What got to me most about the interview is how Fr. Al-Bazi described what happened to him in such a calm manner. He mentioned having his teeth knocked out by a hammer as I would talk about falling and skinning my knees. While he is raising a rallying cry about the situation in the Middle East, he talks with zero malice towards his captures.

From a new article in the National Catholic Register about him:

“I don’t speak out now to complain or look for pity, but, rather, to confront the world, which has turned a blind eye to the violence that is meant to wipe us out completely,” explained Father Al-Bazi by phone on May 2.

“Look at what has happened with ISIS to my people. We must discuss this. We cannot ignore it. We must put an end to this before it destroys us,” the priest explained of the atrocities.

“It is obvious to anyone who will look at the facts that ISIS and other Muslim terrorists are specifically targeting and killing Christians. They attack others, certainly, but 80% of their efforts are against us. They want us out or dead.”

Listen to or download Catholic Answer’s Focus interview

In other news, yesterday the Same-Sex Attracted pastor who had accused Whole Foods of baking a cake with an anti-gay slur apologized – kind of.

Today I am dismissing my lawsuit against Whole Foods Market. The company did nothing wrong. I was wrong to pursue this matter and use the media to perpetuate this story. I want to apologize to Whole Foods and its team members for questioning the company’s commitment to its values, and especially the bakery associate who I understand was put in a terrible position because of my actions. I apologize to the LGBT community for diverting attention from real issues. I also want to apologize to my partner, my family, my church family, and my attorney.

I remember when this story first broke and pretty much everyone on my Twitter feed nailed this as another hate crime hoax. Soon after Whole Foods said they would countersue him and they had video to back them up.

The psychology of hate crime hoaxers is hard to understand. When you have to gin up your own hate crime to illustrate discrimination you kind of miss the point. It is easy to psychoanalyze these acts as attention getting, especially as center of attention getting. But people are complicated and guessing at motives is just guessing.

Still this particular case is odd on several levels. First off if you are creating a hate crime hoax, an Austin Whole Foods has to be the dumbest target ever.

What gets me is that a Christian pastor decides to order a “Love Wins” cake and then adds a slur himself. Wow love really won there. Bearing false witness is such a great idea as long as it is for a cause. He had so much love for the staff at the bakery and other employees. Well if you are going to falsely accuse bakers, you have to break a few eggs as the saying goes.

In this case “Self Love Wins” as he demonstrates the art of the non-apology without the slightest hint of contrition, besides being caught. Still while he actions pretty much aggravate me, I still have managed to pray for him. It is easy to fall in to the same trap of demonizing others who disagree with you.

With the Supreme Court sending the case involving The Little Sisters of the Poor back to the lower courts, I saw lots of people calling this a win. Perhaps it is, but I will wait to see what “accommodation” is made. After all the Obamacare mandate has going through several “accommodations” without ever actually being accommodating. Still the government undermined it case in statements made to the court to such an extent EWTN asked for a rehearing based on it.

So while this is not exactly a win yet, it is certainly not a loss and it was a unanimous decision to return it to the lower courts. The whole thing has been in bad faith from the get go since those involved in the government tightly focused the mandate in the first place to target Catholic institutions. Administration targeted Catholic groups for contraceptive mandate. So we shall see what actually happens with The Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic institutions.

Mar 262016

So I noticed this series of headlines:

Basically the same basic story appeared in British news sources:

An insider on the tour added: “The band’s team were flabbergasted when the Vatican got in touch via letter and couldn’t believe their eyes.

“As much as they didn’t want to upset the Pope, they had a contract in place to play on the Friday – and in their mind they were going to honour it. They have made a promise to the Cuban people and won’t let them down.”

My spidey-senses are tingling and my first instinct is to call BS on this story (my second and third instincts as well). First off the story is being shaped as “Pope bans”, when at most it might have been someone in the Vatican. Even that seems rather fishy. Where is this letter they received? Seems to me that if The Rolling Stones management ever actually received such a letter it they would make the most of it by posting it online. It makes great publicity.

I really don’t think the Vatican is going to get involved in rock band tour dates.

Although I remember when the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper L’ Osservatore Romano decided to get into music journalism and released a list of the top ten rock and pop albums of all time.

At the time I envisioned their new direction which thankfully didn’t bear out.

Feb 072016

In the “any stick will do category”, Tina Beattie at CruxNews gives us a total crap article which misrepresents the Church’s theology along with what Pope Benedict XVI previously said. Plus of course includes an appeal to surveys regarding Catholics as if they mattered beyond unfortunately illustrating the ignorance of many Catholics.

This only exposes the weakness in those who can’t grasp that you can’t do evil to do good. What she calls weakness is actually a consistent moral ethic.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1750 The morality of human acts depends on:

  • the object chosen;
  • the end in view or the intention;
  • the circumstances of the action.

The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the “sources,” or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts.

This is an example of the new eugenics where it is better to kill a person or prevent them from every becoming a person than to exist with illnesses and disabilities.

The Catholic tradition has always allowed for some flexibility in the interpretation of Church teaching in particular circumstances — a practice known as casuistry. When the denial of contraception exposes adults or the children they conceive to life-threatening illnesses and disabilities — and when the criminalization of abortion condemns women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term or risk their lives through illegal abortions — we need to navigate a path of careful ethical reasoning through contested areas of human vulnerability, rights, and responsibilities.

Funny how abortion is a cure for “life-threatening illnesses and disabilities”. The new eugenics has been busy wiping out birth defects by eliminating the person who has them. They have done a bang up job with Down Syndrome with 90 percent being aborted and are looking for continued success in other areas.

She sees casuistry as loopholes to help ignore the morality of human acts.

From the Catholic Dictionary.

… casuistry is an integral part of the Church’s moral tradition. Its purpose is to adapt the unchangeable norms of Christian morality to the changing and variable circumstances of human life. (Etym. Latin casus, case, problem to be solved.)

It is not a term that describes changing unchangeable norms to adapt to the situation like she thinks.

As a partial remedy to this article is one surprisingly in the Washington Post “What this amazing mom of two girls with microcephaly has to say about Zika scare”.

“This is the baby I’m supposed to be a mom to,” she said. “I would be missing out on a gift that had been given to me.”

Note: Post title alludes to G.K. Chesterton’s comment in Orthodoxy.

“They burned their own corn to set fire to the church; they smashed their own tools to smash it; any stick was good enough to beat it with, though it were the last stick of their own dismembered furniture.”

Dec 312015

The late Fr. Jaki who was a physicist/priest/science historian said that the Church was the mid-wife for the scientific method. He persuasively makes this case in his book “Science & Creation, from eternal cycles to an oscillating universe” where he goes through the different cultures and compares them. Quite fascinating reading how belief in eternal cycles frustrated the scientific method from developing.

So is it cultural appropriation for non-Western countries to use the scientific method?

The answer is of course no since cultural appropriation should be mocked, mocked and then mocked. Not surprised that multiculturalism has developed to this sad state. Mainly instead of “E pluribus unum” it was always more like a centrifuge separating elements from each other. So this is really the projected outcome. I much prefer the model of cultural cross-pollination where ideas and more transient aspects of culture see wider adoption. Sure this results in adaptations that stray rather far from their sources. Some of these adaptations are much more consequential than others. Culinary ones less so as there is always room for the revival of the more “authentic” and are often advertised as such. Not that there aren’t problematic adaptations. Some can be either intentionally mocking of their source or easily inferred as such.

The problem we are seeing now on College campuses is that any adaptation or even straight importation is seen as inherently evil. This is such a total fundamental understanding of the ways cultures develop and it is not based on a “clean room” environment developing totally on its own. No doubt they have zero understanding of exactly what setting the university developed in and all the other debts to Western Civilization (which of course also had cross-pollination from other cultures).

I consider it of paramount importance to try to understand the arguments of others. I can only to a very small degree understand the arguments regarding cultural appropriation. Still what annoys me most about this argument is that there are serious problems, injustices, and disparities in the world. Although I guess this is nothing new as Jesus charged the Pharisees “You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Mt 23:24)