Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ecclesial Backbone Award 2011 — Time's running out to vote!

Just as a little reminder, folks: Sunday is your last day to vote for the recipient of the Ecclesial Backbone Award for 2011!

Also, you can start sending in your nominations for 2012.  Here are the parameters I look at:
  • The nominee must be an active bishop of the Church (not including the Pope): the ordinary of a non-titular diocese or the major superior of a religious order.  Bishops emeritus and cardinal prefects of the Roman Curia should not be considered ... unless their actions really cause a flap!  And since the goal is to celebrate episcopal leadership, lay people and other priests or religious are not concerned.
  • Ideally, the bishop has performed an act of leadership that is in defense of Catholic orthodox tradition, on a matter of internal discipline or catechesis, such as (mirabile dictu!) excommunicating a prominent pro-abortion politician or making a positive rule within his diocese requiring a particular set of actions or denying Catholic status to some dissident group.
  • Ideally, the action has not only drawn media attention but has caused a prominent organ of Catholic dissent (e.g., National Catholic Distorter, USCatholic, Commonweal) to froth at the mouth.
  • While the above two parameters are the ideal, I'm open to considering other acts that are timely, firmly orthodox, and directed towards the Catholic faithful on matters of faith and morals, provided those actions show moral courage (for instance, if they take place in a potentially hostile context) and call for Catholic solidarity, authentic witness and/or authentic practice of the Faith (e.g., frequent confession, observing holy days of obligation, chastity, etc.).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

From the "Facepalmbook" department

We've met Becky in Omaha before.  She's a very dear friend of mine, with a good sense of humor.  So today I find this posted:

Actually, I prefer Stoli and Squirt for my vodka sours.  Stolichnaya tastes great after you've left it in the freezer overnight ... that's the only way I drink Stoli.  In fact, cold Stoli is the only vodka I can force down my unwilling esophagus.

Further humor ensues, with one going off on a "rant" and another claiming that life gave him potatoes, so maybe they could work something out, and so forth.  Then comes the puzzler:

What is this ... "Open Auditions" for Rulers of Universes?  GOD ISN'T A VENDOR!  You can't replace an unsatisfactory God for giving you lemons like you can find a new barber after a bad haircut!  Not only does s*** happen, it's gonna continue to happen no matter how many times you swap out religions!  In fact, religion is a way of describing why s*** happens, not a means of avoiding it when it hits the fan!

Plus, Becky didn't say anything about God.

Now, we've all had moments where we realize, "Y'know, that sounded much funnier in my head than when it came out of my mouth."  That's why I contend the worst piece of advice a teacher can ever give a student is "Write the way you talk":  so many people talk without thinking.  Unfortunately, Facebook doesn't come with a "sandbox mode", where you can test your witticisms and pithy observations.  So think before you post!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Riddle games, shape-changers and screen adaptations

If there were any book or series of books I want to adapt for the screen — at least, now that Lord of the Rings has been made — it would be the Riddle-Master Trilogy by Patricia A. McKillip.

Let's state the obvious first: Comprising The Riddle-Master of Hed (1975), Heir of Sea and Fire (1978), and Harpist in the Wind (1979), this series can't be compared with LOTR any more than any other fantasy series.  In fact, it's even less ambitious than were Stephen Donaldson's first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara.

Although McKillip didn't skimp on her backstory, for instance, the names of characters and places seem to have little underlying language logic, as seems to be the case with most fantasy writers (with the possible exceptions of Robert Asprin and Piers Anthony, who enjoy making word games out of their character's monikers).  In fact, one character is called "Iff of the Unpronounceable Name", but McKillip never gave the full name orthographic reality, chickening out by describing the sound of it when Iff finally says it; another is given the clumsy mouthful "Ghisteslwchlohm", which is usually just shortened to "Ohm".

Nevertheless, despite its minor flaws, I've read all three books several times in the last thirty years.  Unlike other books of the Epic Quest genre, the trilogy could stand as a parable of Man's search for God — or at least a particular man's search for God, since that quest takes many shapes.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ecclesial Backbone Award 2011 — Time to vote!

Yes, folks, it's that time of year when people vote to give other people recognition for oustanding efforts in fields from the earthshaking to the distressingly mundane.  If you look at the sidebar on the right, you'll notice I have a poll.  Please vote for the ordinary you think has shown the most extraordinary courage and leadership this year!  Poll closes Sunday night at midnight!

In the last few years, bishop-watching has gotten more interesting than watching yet another Kardashian become famous for being a Kardashian, or scanning the fashion news to see if Lady Gaga's apparel will complete the food pyramid.  Some months ago, because the image to your left (created by the incomparable Vincenzo) was floating around Father Z's blog here and there, I decided to appropriate it for a column on Cdl. Francis George of Chicago and jokingly nominate him for an award.  Since then, I've had occasion to "nominate" four other shepherds for the Ecclesial Backbone Award.

What does a bishop have to do to be nominated? you ask.  Simply put, the bishop must take a publicly firm, orthodox stand, in imitation of the apostles whose successors our ordinaries are supposed to be ... the more controversial, the better.  Preferably, the issue should be one of "internal housekeeping", if you will; i.e., not policy controversies, such as abortion or gay marriage, but rather a matter of doctrine or discipline in opposition to heterodoxy.  If you can get someone at the National Catholic Fishwrap or HuffPo to throw a spittle-flecked nutty, you're a shoe-in.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to all ...

You all have your Christmases to attend to, as do I.  Shut down your computer and go be with your family.  And may God bless you and send you a happy New Year, and a merry, merry Christmas.

Send them off, please, Mr. Manilow:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Counting my blessings — UPDATED

This morning, I wrapped up what few gifts I could buy this year.  I hope someday I strike it rich so I can make it up to ma chère soeur Peggy, who lives 1,312 miles away and to whom I've been unable to give a gift for the last couple of years.

As for this year, I haven't got much for myself under the tree, and that's okay.  Because I've already gotten several gifts this year, gifts that can't be wrapped or bought on-line.  The best gift, of course, is still to come on Christmas Day, when I wake up to celebrate the Nativity with my family, my friends and my Church.

"O gag me with a spoon!"  I hear you retch.  But I'm quite serious.  Underneath the sarcastic, world-weary exterior, I'm very much a sentimental person — white Christmases, decorated trees, holly and ivy, carols playing on the computer while I type this schmaltz.  (Andrea Bocelli ... doesn't get much better, ladies and gentlemen, though I can take or leave Reba McIntyre on "Blue Christmas").

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas baking

Just made these yesterday!
Okay, just because I'm a nice guy, I'm going to share my recipe for peanut butter cookies.  Done right, they're crisp on the outside but chewy inside ... great with or without milk (but I suggest milk for dunking!).

Peanut Butter Cookies
2¼ c. all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¾ c. granulated sugar
¾ c. brown sugar
1 c. butter (2 sticks), softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. peanut butter (your choice of creamy or chunky)
Oven 375°

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In mixing bowl, cream together sugar, brown sugar and butter.  Mix in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla extract, then peanut butter.  Finally mix in dry ingredients a little at a time for best incorporation.

Using a cookie scoop, place 1-tbsp. balls of dough 1"-1½" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten each ball with the tines of a fork in a criss-cross pattern.  Bake for 9-11 minutes at 375°; set aside sheet to cool for about 5 min. before removing cookies onto wax paper. Makes 3½-4 dozen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

And I thought Haugen and Haas were bad ...

After yesterday afternoon, Mom and I agreed: No more Life Teen Masses for us.

It's not the quality of the Masses per se.  There's nothing wrong with the Masses at our parish that aren't irritants at the others; to wit, the flock of EMHCs crowded in the sanctuary or the orans position/holding hand business with which I've bored you before.  The only other thing I've noticed: Our priest, Fr. George is a lovely man who tries to "Say the Black and Do the Red", so because of his thick Indian accent, I'm very reluctant to talk with him about skipping the line in the Institution about taking the bread "in his sacred and venerable hands".  I'm sure that must be a source of concern for him, because he takes such conscientious care with the new liturgy that my legs have cramped up from kneeling so long.

No, it's the music.  The band — I suppose we must call them that — is excellent, far better than your average garage band.  But the lyrics of the W&P music they play runs theologically from the generic to the sloppy.

Now I know why "the holidays" are becoming more secularized!

The answer, which I found on The Crescat's blog, is to your left.

Now it all makes sense!  How could I have missed it all these years?  Santa is an anagram for SATAN!  It even explains the red suit!  (Saint Nicholas was not a martyr.)

Who else, I ask rhetorically, would have so much interest in distracting our attention from the event that spelled his downfall?  Who else would want us to convert a religious celebration into a materialist orgy of spending and spending and spending ourselves into hock for the next year?  Who else would drive us to recover pre-Christian pagan elements into innocent figures such as "Santa's Elves"?  In fact, who else would drive Hollywood to make crapburger movie after crapburger movie that water down the religious element to the merest taste, even to the extent of mocking Jesus?  It's all a plot from Hell, I tell you!

Calm down, folks, calm down.  I'm just playing.  Well, not the "plot from Hell" bit; I really mean that.  But I just got a big kick out of this picture.  And it takes me back to one of my favorite Monty Python skits. Take it away, Eric the Orchestra Leader!  "A shroe! a shroe! Ym dingkom for a shroe!"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Snippets — A Catholic Carnival (Week 17)

I don't know why I didn't think of this before ....

Some months ago, one reader — perhaps it was Barb Schoeneberger? or Stacy Trasancos? — referred me to RAnn's blog This That and the Other Thing, where she runs a weekly collection of posts from others called "Sunday Snippets — A Catholic Carnival".  Since then, I've been submitting links irregularly.

Now, those of you who follow me have probably already read my selections.  If you haven't, I've posted them below.  What I'd encourage you to do, though, is go to RAnn's site and follow the links there to other people's blogs, such as Ellen Gable Hrkach's Plot Line and Sinker, or Barb's Suffering with Joy, or the eponymous Dymphna's Well.

Since I'm now posting on three blogs, it makes more sense to put my choices for the week here, as well as refer you all to some other Catholic writers that you may find simpatíco.  I may also from here on out put up a voting box asking you which posts should go into the Sunday Snippets post.  What are my favorites this week?

  • Outside the Asylum: "Tim Tebow and 'Christian incrementalism'" — Almost a case of the satire writing itself, I ask why even the smallest, most absurd controversies send progressivists into dire predictions of mob violence and jack-booted stormtroopers coming to impose a right-wing fascist state ... for instance, if Tim Tebow should (God forbid!) lead the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl victory.
  • The Impractical Catholic: "Fruere in hodiernum diem!" — Enjoy the present day! In which Your Humble Blogger takes a moment to revel in the fact that he lives in the twenty-first century, and reflect on the words of the prophet (Billy) Joel: "You know, the good old days weren't always good /And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."
  • Catholic Bandita: "The elephant who came for Christmas" — In which I reflect on grief, and on the four months since my brother Bob passed away.
Read! Enjoy! And have a pleasant Fourth Sunday of Advent!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Speaking no ill of the dead

Okay, there are plenty of Catholic bloggers who are writing darn-near rhapsodical eulogies to the late journalist and God-hater Christopher Hitchens. But as many speak of his honesty and bravery, I think it better respect to his memory to not inject any false sentimentality.

If no one else will say it, I will: Thank God Hitch can no longer write his poisonous bilge.

The fact of the matter is, Hitchens could write brilliant prose. However, that sparkling, glittering flow poured forth a singularly malicious, stream-of-consciousness anger that skipped minor premisses by the mile to get to a conclusion completely detached from its first step; if you couldn't see the logical connection between A and Q, well, that just meant you were a dolt compared to him. While I wouldn't accuse him of dishonesty in his personal relationships, what others consider "honesty" was often little more than bluntness verging on character assassination; he was not above evidential distortion or presenting half a fact when the whole fact would undo his argument.

This is especially true whenever Hitch wrote about religion, especially Christianity. What the hell was Newsweek thinking to have him analyze Bl. Teresa of Calcutta's "dark night of the soul" letters? Putting Hitch on the job was like asking Rush Limbaugh to review a book by Hillary Clinton; the result was a hack-and-slash job completely unbefitting a writer of any caliber. The editors of that magazine must have intended that result, since: 1) Hitch hated Bl. Teresa even before she died, and 2) Hitch had a nasty tendency to pass water on the graves of dead celebrities (his comments on the deaths of Ronald Reagan and Bob Hope come immediately to mind).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday the Rabbi Paraphrased Jesus

Lord Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the UK
No, this isn't a Rabbi David Small mystery by the late Harry Kemelman. I used to read Kemelman's books because he used them as a marvelous vehicle for explaining Judaism; while Rabbi Small would every now and then say something about Catholicism or Christianity that would strike a wrong note, his observations and commentary on the life of observant Jews in America — especially intra-synagogue politics — were amusing and instructive.

No, this is just a humorous reference to the fact that Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Baron Sacks, Kt, the leader of the United Synagogue and Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, addressed the Pontifical Gregorian University on business ethics, during which he paraphrased Luke 9:25: “What will it profit Europe if it gains the world yet loses its soul?”

Kidding aside, it's a valid question. The adoption of multiculturalism and the Union has meant the diminishment of French Catholics, German Lutherans and Dutch Jews and the increase of secular Europeans who don't quite know what it means to be a "secular European" ... other than that they can now indulge in casual sex and porn, abort their children and have their parents euthanized with only vague feelings of guilt.

If they don't really have a set identity, the people in the "no-go zones" springing up all over Europe do: they're Moslems, and they want nothing to do with European secularism, choosing to live under sharia whether the non-Islamic communities like it or not. Now, instead of a virtual "Christian theocracy", European leaders are concerned about the growth of a real, honest-to-goodness Islamic theocracy.

Which just goes to show: you never know what spores a spiritual vacuum will suck up.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

US African policy: a gay-rights souperism

Do you know what "souperism" is?

First of all, realize that in its scope and effects, the Irish Great Famine of 1845-1852 is very comparable to the Holocaust. To this day, the number of people who died due to disease and starvation can't be fully reckoned; the official tally of 422,490 was even acknowledged at the time to be too low, "for not only were whole families swept away by disease ... but whole villages were effaced from off the land." Beyond that, the abysmally poor handling of the crisis by the British government (verging on genocide through intentional neglect), when combined with other failures of Ireland policy, created an atmosphere of despair that eventually drove millions of Irish Catholics to Britain, the US, Canada and Australia; even after thirty years of increasing prosperity, the population base is still about 3/4ths what it was prior to 1845.

Some religious organizations did try to help, including Anglicans and Quakers, without seeking anything in return. However, other Christians made proselytization, even conversion, from Catholicism the price of the food they offered (usually soup). While many Catholics rejected such coercion, others "took the soup", abandoning their faith and their community for food; in anger and disdain, those who remained faithful called these converts soupers.

Souperism specifically refers to this practice. By extension, a country practices souperism when it makes foreign aid contingent on the receiving country changing its laws or culture. At that point, it stops being charity and becomes a devil's bargain for the nation's soul. It's arrogant and demeaning; corrupt is not too strong a word for it.

Nwachukwu Egbunike, a Nigerian who blogs at Feathers Project, wrote a fine piece for denouncing the Obama Administration's attempts to export gay rights to Africa, especially State Sec. Hillary Clinton's equation of gay rights to human rights during her speech in Geneva on Dec. 6. Shortly thereafter, according to Forbes, Pres. Obama made the fight against gay and lesbian discrimination "a central point of its foreign policy," and announced that "transgressing nations like Nigeria could be denied aid". Egbunike writes, "The reaction of a presidential advisor in Uganda to Mrs Clinton’s speech might be typical: 'If the Americans think they can tell us what to do, they can go to hell.'"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fruere in hodiernum diem!

Taking all things together, if you asked me if I preferred to live in the 1200s, during the rise of Thomist philosophy and an interesting era of political and social change, I'd say, "No, I prefer porcellain toilet seats."

So okay, I do a lot of griping about What's Wrong with the World Today. Knowing a little bit about human nature, I don't believe life would be hassle- or idiot-free even if Catholicism were the only religious option available and nobody had a problem with that.

But I read Msgr. Charles Knox's post on complaining, and saw a slightly edited version of Louis CK talking with Conan O'Brien about how Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy, and it sent me into a — well, not precisely nostalgic mood, because nostalgia tends to paint the past in rosy colors [Billy Joel: "You know the good old days weren't always good, /And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems"]. No, I just had to marvel at the changes in technology that have occurred in my just-shy-of-fifty years of life.

Louis CK talks about the rotary phone. I remember, when I was six and we were moving into the house I gew up in, how excited I was that we would have the "Princess" phones Bell had just brought out with PUSH BUTTONS!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

OWS: The gift that keeps giving—UPDATED

And the jokes just continue to write themselves. I have to applaud every person who's come up with a new way to parody Occupy Whatever without foul language or apostrophizing the participants as leftist goons and "useful idiots". So much nicer and enjoyable than the posters that boil down to "Get a job and stop whining, you crybabies!"

I'm just afraid this atmosphere of benevolent amusement will eventually pass. But it's been good while it's lasted. And it's made my job as a blogger that much easier.

Update: December 12, 2011
I don't know how I missed this yesterday ....

Even before I wrote this post, Sr. Joan Chittister of what Father Z is pleased to call the National Catholic Fishwrap authored a piece of self-congratulatory fluff announcing the existence of the "Organizing Committee of the Council of Elders", a collection of obscure leftovers from the "justice and peace" movements of the late '60s and early '70s, who will be showing solidarity with the Occupy movement by going to their various locations and sharing their wisdom with the occupiers ... who, I'm sure, will be all agog to receive it.

Please read Father Z's fisk. I just don't have the heart. Jokes writing themselves, indeed.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Burning down the streets of Babylon

You've probably seen it a half-dozen or more times already: People in various places singing along with Sir Elton John's "Rocket Man" — and all of them goofing the last line of the chorus.

Obviously none of them had ever had the liner notes or the sheet music.

Hey, it still happens. There are songs we all sing along with in the car but don't really know the words to because the singer enunciates as though s/he'd put a soup spoon load of mashed potatoes in his/her mouth before stepping into the recording booth. Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is particularly bad; in fact, "Wierd Al" Yankovic's parody version is all about the late Kurt Cobain's singing, which varied from the mumbled to the screamed without gaining much comprehensibility in the latter direction.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A milestone for me ...

I probably passed this point some time ago. I just now noticed it. But I'm glad I did.

There's some duplication between the followers of both Outside the Asylum and the Impractical Catholic, as well as those who follow on Facebook and those who follow via Twitter. On top of which, some of the followers on Twitter are corporate accounts; who knows who is really paying attention on those?

Nevertheless, today on Twitter I reached the one hundred mark ... which means I most likely have more than one hundred followers. Hooray!

The whole point of blogging, for me, is to hopefully change hearts and minds. If there's one person out there I can bring to Christ — or even just move off center — it'll be worth the hassle. But to find that person, I gotta get my voice out there.

So thanks to those who have stuck with me so far, and who are sharing and re-tweeting my posts! You are great!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Betrayal: treating soldiers like garbage—UPDATED

Over on his fine Patheos blog Why I Am Catholic, my friend and fellow devil-dog Frank Weathers has posted a story from WaPo about the Air Force dumping the cremains of at least 274 American troops in a Virginia landfill. I've already left an angry rant on his combox, as well as posted it on my Facebook page, so I've blown off my initial head of steam.

But I'm still sickened and angry. On behalf of those I served so briefly with, and those in my family who served longer and with honor — especially my great-uncle 1LT Joseph P. Cronin, who lost his life at Montélimar, France, during the "Champagne Campaign" in August 1944, and whom the Army brought home at his parents' request after the war — I feel betrayed.

No. Strike that. Everyone who has ever served, or has known and loved someone who has served — we have all been betrayed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Could I get a box of 36, please?

... Oh, and could you put it in English, so no one misses a single nuance?


A nation of crybabies?

Not an atheist display ... it's failed art (not my picture)
Over the last few months of blogging, I've tried very hard to become more charitable in what I write, particularly when engaging with certain "discrete minorities" (to use the pet legal phrase). Getting insulted and disrespected by others for shooting off your mouth is a cheap and easy "white martyrdom" ... in fact, to pat yourself on the back with the quote from Matthew 5:11-12 is to demean and devalue the witness of those who really suffer for the faith. So I'm trying not to go out of my way to provoke non-believers and anti-Christians.

But there are times ....

The picture is from a story about the display at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Loudoun, Va., that Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report reprinted from Weasel Zippers. Matt, among others, thought that it was some bizarre protest against Christmas by atheists; it turns out that it was a bizarre — and very unsuccessful — protest against the commercialization of Christmas by a Christian. As someone quipped, "Just because no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Formal proof: the reliability of the Church

Strictly speaking, this proof is directed only towards Protestants who concede and maintain the infallibility of Scripture. Reliability here is the key word to understanding infallibility: The Catholic Church's teachings in matters of faith and morals can be trusted ... you can rely on them. If you, Mr./Ms. Christian, don't concede or maintain the reliability of either Scripture or Tradition ... then on what do you rely?

  • R = Holy Spirit is reliable (Rom 3:3-4; 2 Tim 2:13).
  • G = Holy Spirit guides the Church (Jn 14:26, 16:13).
  • C = Church is reliable

Method: Reductio ad absurdum

1.   R                                          P
2.   G                                          P
3.   R • G ⊃ C                             CP
4.   ~C                                        AP
5.   ~( R • G)                               3 & 4 MT
6.   ~R ~G                                5 DeM
7.   R • ~G     or      ~R • G         6 MImp[*]
8.   ~G           or      ~R               7 Simp
9.   ~G • G     or      ~R • R         1 & 8 or 2 & 8 Conj (Contradiction)
10.   R • G ⊃ C                           3-9 RAA
11. ∴ C                                     1,2 & 10 MP (QED)

Long explanation for the confused:
Reductio ad absurdum, or the Rule of Conditional Proof, is a method of argument that seeks to prove the truth of a conditional argument (“If A, then B”) indirectly, by showing a contradiction derived by assuming that the consequent (the B statement) is false.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

From the "Lord Jones Dead" file

Journalism consists mostly of people saying "LORD JONES DEAD" to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.
— G. K. Chesterton

I was exchanging comments on Twitter with a follower when I came across a subject I hadn't seen before. I clicked the link, and found out that Occupy Denton was shutting down. Here, courtesy of HotAirPundit, is why:

Man Found Dead at Occupy Denton Encampment 


A man was found dead in a tent at a vacant Occupy Denton campsite on UNT campus at about 5 p.m .Saturday.

According to UNT spokesman Buddy Price, the man was believed to be an Occupy Denton participant, and the cause and time of death were unknown at this time. He said no one was at the camp when police arrived on the scene.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ask Tony: What's wrong with holding hands during the Our Father?

Recently, the bishop of Covington, Ky., Most Rev. Joseph D. Foys, issued a decree in his diocese that has liberal Catholics up in arms and conservatives rejoicing. Of special note is paragraph 4c:

Special note should also be made concerning the gesture for the Our Father. Only the priest is given the instruction to “extend” his hands. Neither the deacon nor the lay faithful are instructed to do this. No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed [bold type mine].
Strictly speaking, this forbids the practice of laypeople taking the orans (literally "praying") position, where hand are held up and off to the side. But by extension, it also means the congregation is not to hold hands during the Our Father. This is why Bryan Cones, among others, has thrown a nutty about the decree.

Well, what's so bloody wrong with it? Why shouldn't we hold hands as a sign of unity and family?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Deconstructing "Coexist"

I don't own the copyright.

Anything I could say after this would only be lily-gilding.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

OHR slaps down Banzhaf silliness

Not often you read about a government agency exercising common sense. Especially when the agency is in Washington DC, whether city or federal. But comes the news from CNA that Georgetown's resident thorn in the paw, law professor John Banzhaf, has been slapped good and hard by Wonderland on the Potomac's Office of Human Rights:

Catholic University single-sex dorm complaint dismissed
By Michelle Bauman

.- The D.C. Office of Human Rights has dismissed a complaint that The Catholic University of America’s single-sex dorm policy constitutes unlawful discrimination under the district’s Human Rights Act.
“We were confident from the beginning that our actions were entirely legal,” said John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America, on Nov. 30.
John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, filed the legal complaint in response to an op-ed that Garvey wrote in the Wall Street Journal in June announcing that the university would be implementing single-sex housing in hopes of fighting binge drinking and hooking up.
On Nov. 29, the D.C. Office of Human Rights issued an order dismissing the complaint, saying that Banzhaf had failed to demonstrate that women under the new policy would lack “equivalent access to educational opportunities” or be subject to “material harm.”
The Office of Human Rights determined that Banzhaf’s arguments were based on “conjecture and speculation” rather than “factual allegations.” [Strike one!]
Banzhaf claimed that women are more frightened by walking alone outside of a single-sex residence hall and that women would be disadvantaged in attempts to network in academic disciplines in which they are a minority.
The order of dismissal noted that some of Banzhaf’s examples were ironically based on stereotypes of “women as the weaker sex,” and that there was no indication the university’s new policy was motivated by “a discriminatory animus against women,” as Banzhaf had contended. [Strike two!]
Banzhaf’s reasoning, the order noted, could also be used to prohibit single-sex restrooms, locker rooms and sports teams, “which would lead to absurd results.” [You're out!]
I wish I could say we've heard the last of Banzhaf. Alas, life doesn't work that way. For one, he still has another complaint with the OHR outstanding; we don't know if they're going to rule on it or simply put it in the circular file. For another, he might just be the type to sue the OHR for career endangerment and libel, and take the discrimination case to federal court anyway despite the negative weight of the ruling.

But for once, human justice has sufficed. And the heavens didn't fall.

From the "Tales of the bazaar" department

Laura Kristi, my cousin Steve Cronin's wife, just posted on Facebook: "Just saw a dude practically sprint out of Whole Foods to light up his cig. I'm confused."

Would that I could cartoon. That would make a lovely sight gag. Like Pamela Anderson putting on a fur coat in her attic, while glancing furtively for hidden paparazzi cameras. (Of course, based on her previous misadventures, she'd probably record it on camera herself; then a hacker would find the file on her computer.)

Doubtless, though, as another person replied, the smoker only worked at Whole Foods. In my experience, the only places where you find the ideologically committed are church offices and New Age crystal shops.

Oh, and abortion mills. ... And the Whatever Studies departments at universities. (Okay, this is beginning to look like Cardinal Ximenez in the Monty Python "Spanish Inquisition" sketches: "Amongst the places you find the ideologically committed are ....")

But still, I had to embroider that mental image. Not only was he smoking while working at Whole Foods, when he got home he put on a polyester suit with fur trim, and had a dinner of milk-fed veal with eggs. But he lit up a joint instead of knocking back a Jack and Coke because marijuana is natural.

Some people call it "hypocrisy"; I call it humanity. In some ways, the unconscious inconsistencies of people — especially the self-righteous — make this world much more interesting.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I think I'll have a heart attack and die from this surprise ...

Bp. Bernard Fellay (©2011 CNA?)
From Catholic News Agency:

Pius X Society says Vatican's current offer not acceptable
By David Kerr

.- The Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X says he will inform the Vatican “in the next few days” that they cannot give the doctrinal reassurances required of them to advance reconciliation with the Catholic Church.
“It is true that this Doctrinal Preamble cannot receive our endorsement,” said Bishop Bernard Fellay on the society’s website, Nov. 28.
However, Bishop Fellay said his understanding is that the document is “not a definite text” and that it “can be clarified and modified.” In particular, he would like to discuss what the Vatican means when it says that there is “leeway” for a “legitimate discussion” on the documents and legacy of the Second Vatican Council.
“What is the extent of this leeway? The proposal that I will make in the next few days to the Roman authorities and their response in turn will enable us to evaluate our remaining options,” he said.
Y'know, if this were a 1950's romance, I'd say the SSPX were being rather coy about the matter, and playing hard-to-get.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How the last thirty years have changed me!

Okay, first watch this YouTube clip of Barbara Streisand and Niel Diamond singing "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore" (judging from the hairstyles, I'd guess this was about 1978):

If you're lucky to have "friended" Catholic Answers Live's Patrick Coffin, you know he occasionally posts on his status random, offbeat reflections on song lyrics. Today he commented, "It doesn't occur to her that perhaps her abusiveness toward him, and his opting to no longer bring her flowers, are causally related."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's here! It's here!

©1966 Turner Entertainment Co.
Yes, the new English translation of the Roman Missal is finally here. And all the "Spirit of Vatican II" grinches couldn't keep it from coming. They ranted and wrote and petitioned and raved ... and still it came.

♫♪ Nanny-nanny-boo-boo! ♪♫

I can't count the number of times I've heard ordinary people in the pews, like my sister Peggy, say, "I don't know what the fuss is all about. There are just a few minor changes, like saying 'And with your spirit' instead of 'And also with you', and 'It is right and just' instead of 'It is right to give him thanks and praise'." 


I speculate that the left wingnuts griped not so much because the words are so hard to say and understand — I mean, if you can say and understand transubstantiation, you can say consubstantial — but because in a sense the new translation represents a loss of ground gained, that they have suffered a defeat while they were alive to witness it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'll be down in Austin with my family the next two days. Oh, and you might want to consider duck or goose this year ... doesn't look like Tom is gonna take it anymore ....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Maybe LarryD is right ....

LarryD at Acts of the Apostasy ran a few movie quotes through Google Translate and came up with some interesting effects (keeping in mind, of course, that the software has problems with getting grammar and syntax correct, and has to guess between synonyms). But one movie quote was missing, and I tried to supply it. 

At that point, the OCD that makes me fuss about my English made me fuss over the Latin ... and I'm not really Latinate! So on LarryD's page, you have the first attempt, then a correction. Now here's the beta test:

Now ... if I could only get in the outrageous accent ,,,,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Back to the BK Theory

My uncle Jim Walker (God be good to him) owned an auto-parts salvage yard. In his front office, he had posted one of those signs that used to be Xeroxed and passed around (and now are Photoshopped and sent via email and Facebook) which read: THIS AIN'T BURGER KING ... YOU GET IT MY WAY OR YOU DON'T GET THE SUMBITCH!

What a character; I loved him dearly.

Back in February on Ye Olde Other Blog, I wrote a post on the denial of Hell titled "Our Heavenly Grandfather and the BK Theory of Christianity". It was brought on by a hysterical screed against the doctrine of Hell written in what Father Z is pleased to call The National Catholic Fishwrap by Carol Meyer. Moreover, it was posted in their regular feature "Eco Catholic", which (if Meyer's post is any indication) simply means a syncretic combination of Nature-worship and the "emergent God" with an occasional mention of Jesus. The crucial line comes early on: "I don’t care if scripture mentions hell or Jesus talked about it, if saints had visions of it, or if it’s a time-honored Catholic teaching. It simply can’t be justified on any level [emphasis mine]."

Sic volo, sic iubeo: the perpetual chant of what Kate of Australia Incognita calls “the Magisterium of Me”. So Martin Luther said when asked to justify throwing out certain epistles from the New Testament: “Thus I will have it, thus I order it, my will is reason enough. … Doctor Luther will have it so, and … he is a Doctor above all Doctors in the whole of Popery.” We can call it the Burger King Theory of Christianity, where you can “have it your way”.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dodging a second bullet (and a snippy response from SNAP)

Bp. Robert W. Finn

The Kansas City Star reports that Bp. Robert Finn has entered into an agreement with Clay County prosecutor Daniel White for a diversion program. The program consists of monthly meetings with White to discuss any allegations against Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese clergy or staff, as well as the steps taken. Reporters Glenn E. Rice, Judy L. Thomas and Mark Morris note, "Other Catholic dioceses around the country also have averted criminal prosecution by striking agreements with authorities, including Manchester, N.H., Phoenix, Cincinnati and Santa Rosa, Calif."

Bishop Finn has already pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failure to report in his handling of the allegation of child pornography against Fr. Shawn Ratigan, now in federal custody. This charge, in Jackson County, is not affected by the agreement with Clay County.

SNAP board member Peter Isely complains, “Finn has now done here what bishops have almost always done — make any promises, payment or plea deal to avoid having to face tough questions in open court about their disgraceful and irresponsible deception. Catholics, citizens and children need and deserve the truth. The truth surfaces in court. That’s what bishops work overtime to avoid. And that’s what Finn has achieved here — he’s taken the cheap, easy, convenient way out, avoiding real scrutiny and concealing damaging misdeeds.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This can't be good either ...

Pamela Anderson w/ Russell Peters
According to The Hollywood Reporter [H/T to Deacon Greg], former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson will be playing Mary the Blessed Virgin in "A Russell Peters Christmas Special".

Kinda like Carson Kressley playing Frank Gilbreth, Sr. in an adaptation of Cheaper by the Dozen, right? That had to be half the joke of casting Ms. Accidental-Porn-Star right there. I don't even wanna know where CTV and Comedy Central are taking the script from there; given recent trends in comedy (see – or rather, don't see – A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas), a little respect for Christian beliefs would be a lot to hope for.

Olivia Hussey as Mary
Aren't I doing pretty much the same thing that various Jewish critics did about The Passion of the Christ — condemning without first watching? To which I respond: Russell Peters, Comedy Central, Pamela Anderson as Mary ... how much do I need to see? The hand has already been tipped! "Let's wait for that asteroid to hit the earth before we decide whether it will wipe all life out!"

You get the feeling some people think Christmas would be a better holiday if it weren't for all that stuff about the Nativity? Ah, well ... I still have Jesus of Nazareth in my DVD collection. Olivia Hussey is far more credible. Besides, she looked the right age.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crazy he calls me ...

A big ol' hat tip to The Anchoress for pointing out this obvious bit of pseudo-science, courtesy of HotAir:

Bad news: New study shows conservatives far more likely to have antisocial personality disorders or something

posted at 9:11 pm on November 11, 2011 by Allahpundit

Finally, an explanation for why tea-party rallies are so depraved while Occupy protests are run shipshape. Looks like we all owe Martin Bashir an apology for doubting him.
Baby, when the University of Tampa drops some science on you, you can take it to the bank.
The paper, by University of Tampa professor Marcus Arvan, claims to find “significant” correlations between key antisocial personality traits and bedrock conservative views, like opposition to gay marriage and support for capital punishment. Specifically, the research claims to find elements of narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, also described as “deception,” among test subjects…

Happy birthday!

I don't own the copyright.
My friend Stacy Trasancos' blog Accepting Abundance is a year old today!

I'm sure it could be every day you could celebrate the birth of a blog, but it doesn't happen very often. And there are a couple blogs where I'm not sure which date should be celebrated. For instance, do we celebrate the day Katrina Fernandez opened up The Crescat or the day she officially moved it to Patheos? Do we celebrate the first post Webster Bull wrote for Why I Am Catholic, the day Frank Weathers took it over, or the day it also docked in Patheos' waters?

I'm glad to celebrate it, though, because Stacy is a formidable presence at the barricades, with her Ph.D. in chemistry and background as a former atheist and feminist turned wife, mother of five and future theologian. As successful as her writing has been this last year, it won't be long until she's in the front ranks with people such as Dr. John Zmirak, Fr. Robert Barron and The Blogger Who Must Not Be Named.

God bless you, my friend!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest we forget (Part II)

Thank you to all who have served our country
with honor, fidelity and courage.
God bless. And Semper Fi.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lest we forget (Part I)

[H/T to Frank Weathers!]

This can't be good ...

Lady Gaga (© Parivartan Sharma/REUTERS)
From Randee Dawn at Today's The Clicker:

Well, the costumes sure won't be turkeys!
That's the first thing many will undoubtedly think once they learn that ABC will air "A Very Gaga Thanksgiving" on Nov. 24. [Not my first thought.] The 90-minute primetime special was "conceived and directed by Mother Monster herself," according to MTV, and Lady Gaga is expected to perform eight songs, including her new single, "Marry the Night" and her duet with Tony Bennett, "The Lady is a Tramp." [Too ... many ... jokes .... Must ... mock ... Gaga ....]
She'll also sit down for an interview with Katie Couric taped at the singer's alma mater, Sacred Heart Catholic School in New York.
"We all know Lady Gaga is a phenomenon," Couric said in a statement. "This is a chance to see more of who she is beneath the wild costumes and staged musical numbers ... Lady Gaga as a high school student still bruised by being excluded from the party. Lady Gaga as a devoted daughter and caring sister. Lady Gaga as a 25-year-old woman embracing fame and fortune that seemed to come overnight. She will impress you, delight you and surprise you." [I will be at least delighted and surprised if dinner isn't part of her costume.]
And because you couldn't have a Thanksgiving special without food, chef Art Smith will be on hand to share recipes — including his personal holiday favorite, deep-fried turkey and waffles.
Gaga and waffles ... and you and your family. What a way to start a new holiday tradition!

Yikes. That's all I can say ... yikes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"The Christian ideal has not been tried ..."

And the embarrassment continues, with two recent news offerings. 

First, we learn that the German bishops' conference and dioceses own 100% of the shares of Weltbild, a publishing company that offers ... well, by German law it's not pornography, just erotica. I suppose that makes a difference to modern lawyers and Pharisees, to whom scrupulous adherence to the law is an adequate substitute for a moral compass. But is there something peculiar about the German hierarchs' minds that they can't see how owning a publisher of erotica just might be a cause of scandal?

Second, we learn that the bishop emeritus of Cheyenne, +Joseph Hart, is facing a sixth lawsuit alleging molestation when he was a priest of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. "The previous five lawsuits were settled in 2008 as part of a $10 million agreement that involved 47 plaintiffs who sued 12 clergy members, including Hart," according to "The 38-page complaint, filed with the Circuit Court of Jackson County in Missouri, makes accusations of sexual molestation, harassment and negligence against Hart. It also claims Hart committed fraud by attempting to cover up his actions." +Hart, 80, retired in 2001.

I'd be angry if I weren't so saddened by the mess.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Time's up for Cardinal Law—UPDATED

Father Z reminds us that today is Bernard Cardinal Law's 80th birthday.

What does this mean? Well, for one thing, according to the law laid down by Paul VI in Ingravescentem Aetatem II.2 in 1970, Cdl. Law can no longer participate in any future conclave. 

But II:1 also says that cardinals who turn 80 "cease to be members of the departments of the Roman Curia and of the other institutions mentioned in [Article I]". So +Law loses membership in all Vatican posts and councils; the one post he retains is his position as archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

I've grumbled and gritted my teeth a few times whenever someone from the chattering classes has said that Cdl. Law was "kicked upstairs" after his resignation from the Archdiocese of Boston. Secretary of State is a kick upstairs. Cardinal Camerlengo is a kick upstairs. Prefect of the CDW is a kick upstairs. Archpriest of a basilica – even a papal basilica – is not a kick upstairs for a cardinal once responsible for one of the largest archdioceses in the US; it was a kick to the sidelines which effectively made little more than the pastor of a church, albeit a major historic church. The other Vatican posts he's held until today he had prior to his resignation.

Free the Sea World Five!

Objectifying women for the sake of animal rights since 1980!

PETA lawsuit seeks to expand animal rights
By DAVID CRARY, Associated Press – Oct 25, 2011

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal court is being asked to grant constitutional rights to five killer whales who perform at marine parks — an unprecedented and perhaps quixotic legal action that is nonetheless likely to stoke an ongoing, intense debate at America's law schools over expansion of animal rights.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is accusing the SeaWorld parks of keeping five star-performer whales in conditions that violate the 13th Amendment ban on slavery. SeaWorld depicted the suit as baseless. ...
The suit, which PETA says it will file Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Diego, hinges on the fact that the 13th Amendment, while prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, does not specify that only humans can be victims. ...
Overall, under prevailing U.S. legal doctrine, animals under human control are considered property, not entities with legal standing of their own. They are afforded some protections through animal-cruelty laws, endangered-species regulations and the federal Animal Welfare Act, but are not endowed with a distinct set of rights.
However, the field of animal law has evolved steadily, with courses taught at scores of law schools. Many prominent lawyers and academics have joined in serious discussion about expanding animal rights.
Rutgers University law professor Gary Francione, for example, contends that animals deserve the fundamental right to not be treated as property. Law professor David Favre of Michigan State University has proposed a new legal category called "living property" as a step toward providing rights for some animals. ...
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, who in past writings has proposed extending legal standing to chimpanzees [but not to unborn children], also expressed doubt that the courts were ready to apply the 13th Amendment to animals. But he welcomed the PETA lawsuit as a potentially valuable catalyst for "national reflection and deliberation" about humans' treatment of animals.
"People may well look back at this lawsuit and see in it a perceptive glimpse into a future of greater compassion for species other than our own," Tribe wrote in an email. [That ought to make you sit up and take notice. The logical complement to treating animals like people is that soon people are treated no better than animals.]
Tribe noted that some Americans might find it bizarre or insulting to equate any treatment of animals to the sufferings of human slavery. But he argued that the 13th Amendment was written broadly, to address unforeseen circumstances, and could legitimately be applied to animals. ... [This is very typical of Tribe's constitutional philosophy; he's been an archexponent of judicial activism since before Judge Robert Bork's Senate confirmation hearing in 1988.]
And so PETA retains its record of lampooning animal-rights activism better than any collection of comedians you could put together on one stage. As for Lawrence Tribe et al., how can anyone better than they expose the defectiveness of the American legal profession's moral compass?

I'm all against animal cruelty; I just don't consider killing them for food "cruelty" so long as it's done as quickly and painlessly as possible. Humans have been wearing animal skins for warmth since we developed opposable thumbs and began using flint tools; while for those of us in the modern industrial world no longer need to do so, I don't object to it in principle. After all, making sheepskin and leather coats is better than just letting these byproducts of the slaughterhouse go to waste.

When PETA, ALF and ELF all concede that killing an unborn human child is cruel and wrong, THEN – and not a moment before – they can lecture me about eating animals not of my own species. Until that day comes, this is what PETA means to me:

Monday, October 31, 2011

We're cooking again ...

This isn't turning into a recipe blog, I swear!

However, because of my mother's arthritis in her hand, I am cooking more. I've also started baking, especially cookies (which isn't easy on the diet), since blogging and shooting out résumés doesn't take up my whole day. The next time we go shopping, I'm picking up some yeast for some homemade bread ....

But man does not live on bread alone. So tonight it's a pork roast with a honey-ginger marinade: For a 2 lb. roast, combine 1/4 c. honey, 1/4 c. soy sauce, 2 tbsps. brown sugar, 1 tbsp. ginger, 1 tbsp. ketchup, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. onion powder, 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper; stir well. Marinate the roast in the refrigerator at least one hour; for best results marinate overnight.

Here's a tip: For roasts, pull the meat out of the oven when the thermometer reads about 3-5º below desired doneness and let it rest without cutting for approximately 5-10 minutes. First, this allows the interior heat to finish cooking the meat to the right temperature so it's not overdone. Second, this allows the meat to reabsorb the juices for the best texture and flavor.

Now, it's too bad I don't have any red potatoes ....