Thursday, March 26, 2015

About Miley Cyrus and the blowup doll

Artwork © 2013 by Juan Andres,
Isn't watching the devolution of Miley Cyrus like watching a train wreck in slow motion? You know it's awful; you know so many people will be hurt by the time it's over; yet you can't pull your eyes away ... even when what you see makes you want to poke out your mind's eye, like her infamous twerking. (Hopefully, she definitively ruined it for everyone; it's the least sexy thing ever done on a dance floor, except for when Tom DeLay was on Dancing With The Stars.)

Okay, so perhaps Miley is the straw that breaks the camel's back. Nevertheless, I ran across this meme on Facebook, shared by one of my high school friends who's a rock guitarist. The picture is of Miley fellating a blowup doll — if you haven't heard of this, sorry to intrude on your peace of mind with it. On the meme, in the standard Impact font, is the following rant:

Umm yeah, and that's who your daughters look up to? Great Job America!

I would guess that the person who wrote this is my age ± 10 years, probably (though not certainly) male, and has at least one, perhaps two daughters. I say "probably" male because a female would probably not use such a graphic picture to make her point unless she were a third-wave feminist (and the sex organ in question were a vagina); given that the writer isn't celebrating Miley's sexual freedom, I'd say "third-wave feminist" is highly improbable.

After responding on my friend's thread, I shared it — then belatedly realized that the picture was Not Suitable For Most Locations and Audiences, Especially Young People. How ironic ... here I was, giving a lecture on rock's contribution to the degradation of public morals, while posting a picture including a graphic sexual act. Smooth move, Captain Oblivious. (It's deleted.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said:

Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.

And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 DRA)

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Because science wonks have a sense of humor, too

The second I saw the caption, I plotzed. I didn't literally ROFLMBO, but the laughter was pretty loud.

Benjamin Schwartz, New Yorker Magazine.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Confederate flags and safe spaces ... and a prayer request

Yikes. (Image source: TxDMV/AP)
Within two days, Sunday and Monday, the New York Times has posted two think-pieces that consider different freedom-of-speech controversies: a SCOTUS case concerning Texas' refusal to issue license plates that include the Confederate flag; and "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces" on college campuses.

Let me declare my bias upfront: I thank God and the First Congress for the First Amendment, as it allows me not only to be openly Catholic but to discuss and defend the Catholic faith openly, in a non-Catholic country with significant anti-Catholic prejudices. However, the personal cost of maintaining the freedoms of both speech and religion is to defend others' right of free speech, even when that speech is directed against me and my own, or expresses ideas I find to be not only wrong but offensive or obscene. Sauce for the goose and all that.

Because I'm Irish Catholic, with a touch of Hispanic ancestry and Union soldiers in my family tree, it's difficult for me to see the "Stars and Bars" as anything but an expression of hatred directed against me and my kind. Whatever strides the South has made to overcome its past, the Confederate flag is a reminder of a legacy of racial, ethnic and religious xenophobia, just as is the Confederate memorial in the central square of the city where I now live (yep, I'm a carpetbagger).

However, if we can squelch the display of the rebel flag because other people find it offensive or hateful, then why not the Knights of Columbus logo? Or the papal keys? Must we keep "In God We Trust" off of vanity plates because some non-Judeo-Christian might be outraged by it? Or perhaps the Darwin fish-with-feet or the "Pastafarian" symbol? At what point does a "right to not be offended" simply become a tool for suppressing political or social opposition?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Archbishop Cordileone on Communion and dissent

communion n. [From Old French comunion,  from Latin commūniō (“communion”), from cum (“with”) + mūnus (“gift”)] A joining together of minds or spirits.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone explains why Catholics who dissent from Church teaching shouldn't present themselves for Communion. Note that Abp. Cordileone cites both Scripture and Tradition to back his points up [emphasis mine]:

Whoever ... eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29 RSVCE)

And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. (St. Justin Martyr, First Apology 66)

[H/T to LifeSite News!]

Friday, March 20, 2015

Francis-haters’ heads exploding in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

© 2015 Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images.

Pope Francis Will Break Bread With Gay, Transgender Inmates During Prison Visit

Posted: Updated:
(RNS) When Pope Francis pays a visit to Naples this Saturday (March 21) he will have lunch with some 90 inmates at a local prison, a contingent that will reportedly include 10 from a section reserved for gay and transgendered prisoners, and those infected with the virus that causes AIDS.
The stopover at the Giuseppe Salvia Detention Center in Poggioreale, near Naples, was originally not scheduled to include lunch, according to a report from Tv2000, an Italian television network operated by the country’s Catholic bishops.
But the pope insisted on the meal, which will be prepared by the prisoners, some of whom will come from two other detention centers. The 90 were chosen by lottery from among 1,900 inmates, according to the Vatican Insider website.

“And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’” (Luke 5:30-32 RSV)

That is all.

Ask Tony: Am I really Catholic if I can't accept some Church teachings?

Lisa Miller tried to answer this question last September in her "OMG!" column in Crux. Just based on this one column, I can't say anything about Miller's orthodoxy. But considering that Crux also published Margery Eagen's doctrinally-illiterate rant against Pope Francis this last January, I'm beginning to wonder whether the Crux editors are merely indiscriminate in their writer selections or actively dissident in their  ecclesial adherence.

[UPDATE: Crux just published an op-ed by John L. Allen, Jr., in which the latter continually refers to the schismatic Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) as though they were representative of traditionalists. This pretty much confirms Crux's leftward bias, though I'm disappointed in Allen, who ought to know better. (But then, didn't he coin the term "Taliban Catholic"?)]

Miller never really answers the question as asked. At first, it looks like she's on the side of the angels, when she admits that "'conscience' is the tool people use to justify departures from orthodoxy." As I've argued elsewhere, the individual conscience isn't infallible. But she quickly varies from the straight and narrow:

There are women who, in good conscience [??], have taken priestly ordination vows and consider themselves Catholic; and (many more) people who’ve had abortions or supported the right to abortion who do as well. These self-defined Catholics defy official teaching and risk excommunication [in the case of a procured abortion, the excommunication is latae sententiae, i.e., automatically incurred by the offense (CIC 1398)]; yet on some level, the choice to be Catholic remains a deeply personal (and private) one.

Which is all simply a warm-up to her own thesis: "To what extent must the hierarchy heed the consciences of the faithful? ... My unordained advice ... is this:  Hold onto your Catholicism — as well as your conscience — and perhaps your leaders will follow you there." Miller's answer, underneath all the window dressing, is: "You're Catholic if you think you are."

It's bad advice, and a bad definition. If you don't believe what the Church believes, then why would you think you're Catholic? If the Church doesn't teach authoritatively on matters of faith and morals, then why do you need the hierarchy's blessing for anything? Why not just go to some church where they already agree with you?

But if the Church does teach authoritatively, then why don't you try to change?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wanted: Ideologically-Pure Celebrity Spokesperson(s)—UPDATED

What's the difference between gang rape and a gang bang? Well, in the latter, the victim consents to her debasement; in extreme cases, she convinces herself that it's freeing and even empowering to be used as a spooge rag by three or more men.

In other words, not much save a degree of self-deception.

The question is only interesting because various condemnations of designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana revolve around the 2007 ad to the left. According to America's Next Top Model judge Kelly Cutrone, it's a gang bang. According to Catholic bloggers Katrina Fernandez and Simcha Fisher, it's a gang rape. I suppose it doesn't really matter, because both sides find it sufficient grounds for attainting the designing duo. Just goes to show that no advertising mistake is ever truly forgiven.
"Now you're offended?"

... Though I wonder why it took Cutrone eight years to find outrage sufficient to make her cut up her D&G possessions. I guess implicitly misogynistic ads aren't really offensive unless they're put out by gays who support traditional marriage and family. Or does having really cool designer clothes trump the feminist consciousness?

Now, they're being forced to walk back the "synthetic babies" comment. Yes, it was crass and insensitive ... or is it really painful because it exposes our insecurites about IVF? When Sir Elton John calls IVF "a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children," doesn't he imply that children exist to satisfy peoples' needs, like cars, TVs, and cruise ships? Isn't that the ugly little utilitarian-materialist fly in the IVF baby ointment — that it makes children a consumer product to which people are entitled (if they have enough money)?

(And when he chastises the designers, "Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions," what does that say about Sir Elton's Thursdayite sense of right and wrong, save that it's dictated by what's trendy rather than what's true?)

[UPDATE] Two donor-conceived people, Hattie Hart and Alana Newman, agree. Writing in The Federalist, they say:

It is important to note ... that infants, toddlers, and all of these “miracle” beings are too young to protest their own objectification. We [the authors], however, are now of age and in a position to speak for ourselves. “Synthetic” indeed is a harsh and inaccurate description of us offspring born by third-party reproduction. Dolce’s word choice was a mistake. But there is much underlying truth in what he said: “life [does] have a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.” Emphasis ours.
Those of us conceived non-traditionally are full human beings with equal capacity in every regard — no one need question our humanity. It is not our individual, case-by-case worth as humans that is debatable; rather, it is how we value human beings in general that warrants discussion. Has anyone asked John for how much he purchased his kids? How much money he and Furnish paid the boy’s genetic and birth mother for their absence and invisibility? ...
Team Elton, and the media that surround them, seem to think that this discussion is about gay parents. Team Dolce and  Gabbana are instead trying to draw attention to missing parents. And to what should be the horror of millions, Team Elton is literally promoting the obliteration of mothers—not through vilification, but by pretending they don’t even exist. [Read my Catholic Stand post, "The Man (Or Woman) Who Isn't There"!—ASL]
Ultimately, I don't think it's wise to get too involved in these bouts of celebrity narcissistic rage. Probably the designers' business will suffer ... but where clothing fashions are concerned, sorry, I'm fresh out of rat's asses. Besides, freedom of speech doesn't mean you force people to buy from vendors whose views they disagree with; if you've got the cash to afford their clothing and accessories, feel free to engage in a Chik-fil-A-style anti-boycott.

Nevertheless, in a society where the success of social movements is all too dependent on celebrity endorsements, it would be nice to have celebrity spokespersons who don't come with this kind of baggage.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Crescat and the Chesapeake Eucharistic Massacre — UPDATED

Communicant receiving Host from Pope Francis on the
tongue. (Photo courtesy
The story begins last month, when Katrina Fernandez, aka The Crescat, received word that her beloved abuela was in the hospital and not expected to live much longer. Kat decided to let her parish, St. Therese in Chesapeake, Va., know so the parish priest, Fr. Kevin O'Brien, could give her Last Rites. Last Rites typically involves not only the anointing of the Sacrament of the Sick, but also Confession and the dying person's last reception of the Eucharist (the viaticum).

According to Kat, here's how the conversation went:

Kat: My grandmother is in the hospital dying and I would like Father to administer Last Rites.
Secretary: Well, Father stays pretty busy but we have a ministry team of people that regularly visit the sick and pray over them.
Kat: No, I want her to receive Last Rites.
Secretary: Well, the members of this ministry can anoint her for healing.
Kat: Well, that’s lovely but you can’t heal death. I would like her to receive Last Rites.
Secretary: I have a few members of the ministry available now. Are you sure you wouldn’t like them to visit with her?
Kat: Unless they can hear her dying confession, absolve her, and prepare her soul from one transition to the next, no.

When my younger brother was alive, I had issues once or twice getting priests to his hospital room for the Sacrament of the Sick, so I feel her pain. The parish secretary's job is not to prevent the faithful from getting the appropriate sacraments; no parish priest should be too busy to administer Last Rites to the dying. (Per canon law [CIC 1003], only priests and bishops have "the right and duty" to administer Holy Oils; this was settled definitely at the Council of Trent [D 910, 929]. As far as I know, there is no document or decision allowing this function to be settled on lay extraordinary ministers. If anyone has knowledge of such, I invite him/her to let me know.)

But wait! There's more!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bad Vegan Math

Is there anything worse than superciliousness connected with a misleading use of numbers?

Every group has members who manage to make membership in their group appear unappealing to outsiders, particularly by making membership a sign of moral superiority. Arguably, it takes one to know one. (In my own defense, I'm well aware of my many deficiencies.) However, I've yet to meet a vegetarian that didn't somehow manage to bring up his/her avoidance of meat in a way that illustrated his/her moral and cultural superiority to the rest of us omnivores.

Am I wrong, or has there never been a time like the last fifty years where so many people feel so little shame about being such lousy liars?

Consider the meme above. Perhaps the Albany Times-Union is the ultimate source of's error. However, it just isn't that hard to do the research necessary to blow this little piece of propaganda to smithereens.

There's some variance in the numbers, but here's what I found: 1 cup of broccoli has 31 calories and  2.57 grams of protein (actually about 8.29 g/100 kcal). An 8-ounce New York strip from Organic Valley has approximately 450 calories and 50 grams of protein. 

50 g ÷ 2.57 g ≈ 19.46
19.46 × 31 kcal = 603.26 kcal
603.26 kcal ÷ 450 kcal ≈ 1.34

Breaking it down: To get the protein benefit of an 8-oz. New York strip from eating broccoli, you'd have to eat 19.46 cups; in the process, you'd consume 603.26 calories from the broccoli — 1.34 times the calories from the steak. Again, you can find different values for the calories and protein. However, even in the best-case scenario, you'd still have to pound down more broccoli than you could stomach at one meal before you'd get the same protein value of a broiled steak.

Lesson One: If you gotta lie to make your case, it isn't worth making. Lesson Two: Never try to use numbers to mislead a carnivore who can do math.