14 November 2009

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Ah, those open-minded and tolerant Episcopalians. . .always ready to welcome the dissenter.

Heck, even the Chinese know he's a socialist.

Did you know that "most Catholics" are pro-choice" [sic]?  Funny, neither did they.

What are the "demands of political correctness" that kill rational thinking?

How do we know that the Anglican Apostolic Constitution is a Very Good Thing?  The U.K. uber-leftist "Catholic" rag, The Tablet hates it.  So does the NCR crowd. 

This is what same-sex "marriage" leads to!  What's next?

Sure, it's dangerous. . .but it's air conditioning!  Well worth the risk.

OpenFilm:  original short films. . .everything from experiment to hilarious.

Turns out, Freud is good for something.

13 November 2009

Report on Thesis Conference

Had a conference with my thesis director this evening.

Good news:  my line of argument is sound, so no major philosophical problems to work through in the revisions.

Bad news:  (and I knew this already. . .) My writing style at time tends to be too "informal and journalistic."  IOW, sometimes too chatty and not philosophically rigorous enough.  Mostly, this is about using non-philosophical terms to make philosophical points. 

And he didn't like my title.  "Too literary"!  Oh well. 

Scripture & Tradition: Leo XIII

Instead of working on Chapter Three of my thesis, I've been having a good combox discussion on the relationship between tradition and scripture with a Protestant fellow over at Midwest Conservative Journal.

In thinking about my responses, I ran across Providentissimus Deus written by Pope Leo XIII and issued in 1893.

Good stuff.  Check it out.

Five Hard Truths

Msgr. Charles Pope has a post up on his blog titled, "5 Hard Truths That Will Set You Free."

I thought I would provide my own commentary on these five truths.

Truth One:  Life is Hard.  Life can be difficult, true.  But let's think of "hard" here in a slightly different way.  Concrete is hard.  Wood is hard.  Sometimes your head might be hard!  How is life hard in the way that concrete and wood are hard?  We live, move, and have our being in a physical world of objects and processes.  Things move around us.  Real things, hard things.  We have to make instantaneously decisions about how we--also hard things--will navigate these other things.  Failure to properly navigate the things of the world can result in injury or death.  We can't ignore the hardness of the world, but we can give it meaning and purpose beyond being merely hard.  The German poet, R.M. Rilke, urges us to praise the things of this world to the angel.  Why?  ". . .the Things,/which live by perishing, know you are praising them; transient,/they look to us for deliverance: us, the most transient of all. . .Whoever we may be at last."  God gave the world being.  Adam gave the things of the world identity.  He named them.  We cannot make the things of the world softer, less dangerous by simply pretending that they do not matter.  Even as we left up the hard things, to the angel, God reveals Himself to us through them.  That's the sacramental imagination of the Catholic faith.

Truth Two:  Your life is not about you.  Can there be a more basic Christian teaching than this?  If Jesus showed us anything on the cross, he showed us that sacrificing oneself for love of another is the ultimate form of worship.  When Christians sacrifice, we fashion holiness from surrender.  Your life in the aftermath of baptism is one sacrifice after another.  Sometimes we sacrifice superficial happiness for the Real Deal.  Sometimes we sacrifice basic needs to provide for the wants of children or parents or friends.  Though these sacrifices are no doubt difficult, the most telling sacrifice of all is the one we make for the perfect stranger, someone we love simply for no other reason than that God loved him first.  This is what Jesus did on the cross.  He died for generations he never knew or would ever know while he roamed the earth.  Sacrifice is made even more profound when you consider that you are a divine gift to all of us in the time and place when and where you are.  You are Right Here, Right Now so that you might sacrifice for those who are here/now with you.  Imagine the world if we took this seriously!

Truth Three:  You are not in control.  Too often this truth leads to quietism, a laxity contrived to relief oneself of the responsibility to act justly in the face of Fate.  There is no such thing as Fate.  Your choices are not determined before you make them.  Saints are the ones among us who always make the right choice even when those choices mean ridicule and persecution.  Martyrdom is how we express the ultimate truth of surrender:  "I cannot deny the Truth.  That would be a Lie."  Many times this surrender to Truth means death.  Not being in control is frightening.  It is also freeing.  Not in the sense of being relieved from one's duty to justice, but rather in the sense of being free to do one's duty regardless of the consequences.  True, there is a temptation here to behave recklessly, but all virtues are properly exercised with prudence.  Perhaps the best way to think about letting go of control is to grasp onto hope.  No matter how bad it gets, no matter how hard we are opposed, we know that God's promises to us have already been fulfilled in Christ Jesus.  That's hope.  We play this game knowing that we have already won.

Truth Four:  You are not that important.  When cell phones first came on the market back in the mid-90's, it was an all too common sight to see people bouncing about with phones stuck to their heads.  We were supposed to believe that they were Terribly Important People b/c they couldn't risk being too far from a phone.  Maybe they were important is some secular sense, but in the Great Plan--no, not so much.  Measuring importance by one's overall impact on history is a truly worldly way to plumb the depths of one's ego.  It's the emo adolescent who whinges and cries when he/she realizes that the world will be just fine without them.  This is either a moment of clarity or a moment of confusion.  If the moment proves to be confusing, it's usually b/c pride has taught them to believe that the world centers itself on their every whim.  If the moment proves to be clarifying, it's b/c humility has taught them to believe that the world needs their gifts and love of others will help them perfect those gifts.  To believe that we are indispensable is a delusion bred in contempt for the gifts of others.  Yes, we need you.  But you--none of us--is so essential that the world ceases to turn simply b/c you are no longer with us.  This is a hard lesson to learn for an animal created to survive.

Truth Five:  You are going to die.  Death is what makes this life possible; knowing that death awaits us all adds weight to everything we do. Imagine if we never died.  How moved would we be to accomplish the little things of life much less the big things? How much energy would we invest in being just, faithful, loving?  The Greek gods were immortal and the imaginations of the ancient poets lamented their existence b/c they were capricious in their eternal boredom.   With no end in sight, no goal to reach, they meddled in human affairs; languished in their never-ending disputes; and grew more and more corrupt b/c there were no lasting consequences to their bad behavior.  How do you punish a god?  A Christian should give God thanks that she will die one day! Not b/c our lives here on earth are so horrible, but b/c the life we will share with God is so wondrous.  If there's a truth that makes it plain the truth of the other four truths, it is that we will all die one day.  Deo gratis!  We will die to live forever, knowing our Lord face-to-face.

12 November 2009

Coffe Bowl Browsing

Feet, meet fire. RNC Cigna health insurance covers abortion.  Steele says the problem will be fixed.  Let's make sure that he does.

Conflating mainstream Islam with jihadist extremism. . .this is as dumb and dangerous as excusing Hasan's murderous rampage with lefty-postmodern psychobabble.

Chavez turns to ancient Rome for his lesson in governing a starving populace:  when the Great Unwashed start to get restless from lack of public services, give them gladiators in the arena!

B.O.'s Olympian cyber tribute to Himself in Berlin:  "In the world of a narcissist, everything is always about him."  Apparently, B.O.'s ego can time-travel.  I bet he'd like to go back to Jan. 20, 2009.

More pro-aborts who seem to think that priestly ordination removes a man's citizenship

U.S. bishop whopping a Kennedy's rear-end. . .and in public too!  Who knew.

Introduction to The Hiddenness of God:  this is what I'm thinking about researching for my Ph.D.   Since the problems here raise all kinds of epistemological questions , my philosophy of science background will help immensely.

Who would use dead flies to create art?  Germans, of course!

St Albert the Great would have loved one of these!

Not jewelry FOR Barbie. . .jewelry FROM Barbie

After this, the child was sold to a circus and now spends his days stretching the midget costumes.

Ninja Obama!  Too bad there's not one of him slashing the budget and whopping Pelosi in a sword fight.

Now this is one serious Diet Coke lover. . .

How a glass of wine with friends inevitably leads to suicide

P.S.  I am going to comment on the Anglican Apostolic Constitution. . .probably over the weekend.  Most of it is dry canon law stuff, but there are a few interesting pieces.

Free at last! Free at last!

Deo gratis!

Mama Becky was discharged from the hospital Tuesday afternoon.

She reports, "I thought I would feel 100% when I got back home.  I don't.  Any little activity tires me out."  

She's going back to work on Monday.

Oh, no dishes in the sink, "Your father won't even make coffee!"


Coffee Bowl Browsing

It's back. . .

Oh no.  Hasan was nuts.  But P.C. brainwashing trumps common sense. . .again.

There's a distinction to be made between "multiculturalism" and "multicultism."  The former is descriptive; the latter is prescriptive. . .and deadly to the American Experiment.

Not a new concept:  Christian prisons.  We call them monasteries.  Think about it.

E.T. phone Jesus?  Yup, why not? 

Will there be neighborhoods in the Global Village?  Yes, whether the globalists like it or not.

The Wall and the Cross:  how wood beat concrete in Berlin.

10 November 2009

Chapter Two & Mama Becky


Chapter two has been sent.  Our internet service was down for about 13 hrs. yesterday. 

A "guasto esterno" knocked it out, so I was late.  Only the second time I've ever turned anything in late.  I'm a procrastinator ready for the Olympics of Procrastination, but I really hate turning things in late.

Anyway, mille grazie for your prayers and encouragement.  I could not have finished without you!

Mama Becky Update:  Talked to her last night and she's doing quite well.  They will keep her in the hospital until Thursday.  She still has a bad cough, but the swine flu seems to have gone.  She wants to get back home ASAP.  She suspects that my dad may have left a dirty dish in the sink.  Horror.

09 November 2009

It wasn't PTSD...it was terrorism

Heh.  The CIA knew for months that Major Hasan was trying to contact Islamist terrorists groups before he killed 13 servicemen at Ft. Hood.

Guess that puts the lie to the left-lib media meme that he snapped b/c he suffered so as a victim of anti-Muslim prejudice and harassment in the military.

Let's watch the Talking Heads on CNN and MSNBC spin this little revelation!

Pelosi boils a frog

Some of you have asked me to comment on the passage of PelosiCare (or, as I like to call it "ScaryCare") over the weekend.

Like most of the Dems voting on the bill, I haven't read it.  Don't need to.  The absolute bottom-line for me is that there are some things government cannot do and should not be allowed to do.  Manage health-care is one of those things.

Regulating insurance companies so that basic fairness and liberties are protected is something the gov't can and should do.  I don't pretend to be a policy wonk, but it seems to me that many of our health-care problems can be solved with minimal regulation.

As for the politics of the thing. . .well, I'm wondering how Pelosi and the Gang can call this bill a win.  It was passed with five votes.  She had to allow an explicit ban on abortion-funding, thus committing a sacrilege against the Political God of the Dems.  The Senate will not pass anything like the monster she cobbled together from her interest groups.  The gov't-run option is DOA in the Senate even if they manage to revive her Frankenstein in some prettier form.  The Dems are going to lose their super-majority in the Senate in 2010.

So, what exactly did any of this accomplish?  The only thing that makes sense to me is the How to Boil a Frog analogy.  Put a frog in a pan of cold water.  Slowly turn up the heat.  Before he realizes he's boiling, it's too late to jump.  PelosiCare is another notch on the socialist burner.  Get us used to the heat and we move the marker for what counts as boiling.

If the goal of the Dems is to create a permanent Democrat majority by creating a permanent class of citizens who are totally dependent on the state. . .well, gov't run health care will certainly move them in that direction.  It's pretty much what we have already with federal gov't workers:  permanent votes for the Dems.  What self-interested federal worker is going to vote for a candidate who runs on a platform of cutting gov't spending?  If my job, my health, my car, my bank account, and my newspaper all depend on gov't handouts, then you can be damned sure I'm voting for the guy who promises more gov't spending!

This guy has a good take on whole thing.

The Devil Lives. . .even without his Wall

The Berlin Wall may be nothing but chunks of souvenirs now, but the soul-killing ideology that created it lives on.  Of course, Christians know this all too well.  We call it "the Devil." 

from the Daily Mail:  

For many communist fellow travellers, the scales fell from their eyes when the Hungarian uprising was crushed in 1956. Others, over the years, lost faith not just in communism but in its less radical sister, socialism, as their core tenet of 'equality' proved itself in a myriad different ways to be the enemy of freedom and justice, with market forces appearing to carry the torch of liberty instead. [I have come to believe that you can have Equality or Freedom but not both. . .if "equality" is understood as "equality in result" rather than "equality of opportunity"].

But as communism slowly crumbled, those on the far-Left who remained hostile towards western civilisation found another way to realise their goal of bringing it down.  [And insofar as they remain hostile to western civilization, they remain hostile to Christianity.  As Pope Benedict has said many times--there is a direct, intractable connection between the Christian faith and Greek philosophical culture.]

This was what might be called 'cultural Marxism'. It was based on the understanding that what holds a society together are the pillars of its culture: the structures and institutions of education, family, law, media and religion. Transform the principles that these embody and you can thus destroy the society they have shaped.  [This is basically what I was taught in grad school.  In turn, I taught it to my students and graded their work on the degree to which they were willing to support a leftist cultural revolution.  We dressed it in liberal democratic terms, but what we pushed and pushed and pushed was cultural Marxism.  The family is a particularly vile institution to the leftist b/c the family is the most immediate threat to the power of the state.]

[. . .]

[Antonio] Gramsci [Italian Marxist philosopher] understood that the working class would never rise up to seize the levers of 'production, distribution and exchange' as communism had prophesied. Economics was not the path to revolution. [No, it's not.  Humans beings were created to perfect their natures against the model of the Word Incarnate.  We are not here merely to survive but proposer!  Leftists consistently prop up gov't programs that help people survive.  Not a bad thing in itself, of course, but how often do these programs trap people in mere survival?  One of Aquinas' many insights was that even the Virtuous Pagan can embrace the Good in the context of striving for perfection by living a virtuous life.  You don't need Christ to be a good person. . .but you do need him to be a Perfected Person.]

He believed instead that society could be overthrown if the values underpinning it could be turned into their antithesis: if its core principles were replaced by those of groups who were considered to be outsiders or who actively transgressed the moral codes of that society.  [Thus B.O.'s appointment of Bizarre Czars with radical backgrounds.  It's all about diversity and tokenism and never about competence or talent.]

So he advocated a 'long march through the institutions' to capture the citadels of the culture and turn them into a collective fifth column, undermining from within and turning all the core values of society upside-down and inside-out.  [A perfect description of the academic professoriate! And why you should be sending your kids to colleges like the University of Dallas.]

Read the whole thing.

08 November 2009

B.O. is "profoundly uncomfortable" with the military

POW!  Right in the kisser!  This military wife socks our Ditherer-in-Chief right in the nose.  Someone, please, put her in Congress. . .

Tell me something: in a moment of national tragedy is it really too much to expect the President of the United States to forego the "shout outs"? Is it too much ask that he learn the difference between the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor? What we require from our leaders at times like this is not much, really. No one expects them to actually care. What we want is precisely the kind of thing that comes so effortlessly to Barack Obama: honeyed words and a reassuring show of compassion from a man who thinks that quality is the most important attribute a Supreme Court judge can possess. A public acknowledgment that something grave has happened. But for some reason, asking the Commander in Chief of our armed forces to give even the appearance of empathy was a bridge too far.

[. . .]

Obama doesn't "get" the military because with every step they take, whether it's on prosthetic legs or the steely sinews of a combat hardened Marine, their strength and independence give the lie to his defeatest rhetoric. All those unbowed shoulders, unbeaten spirits and uplifted heads make him profoundly uncomfortable.

As well they should. Americans don't need to be rescued by the government. We have each other.

UPDATE on Mama Becky

Talked to her twice yesterday.  She's still in isolation, but they moved her into a "step-down" room.

She said, "I feel really good!"   So, looks like the worst may be behind her. 

Thank you--again and again--for your prayers, messages of support, and offers to visit her.  I think she's a little surprised at quickly and overwhelmingly Catholics were willing to come to the aid of her Baptist soul!

God bless, Fr. Philip

P.S.  I missed yesterday's deadline for Chapter Two of the thesis.  I'm a terrible procrastinator, but I don't miss deadlines.  It goes out today if I have to sit here midnight. 

P.P.S.  Some readers are a bit confused. . .one of my faithful readers is "MightyMom."  In the combox I often address her as "Mom."  MM is about 10 years my junior, so she isn't Mama Becky.  MM is a hard-working R.N., mother of three, and wife of another faithful reader, Subvet.