Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A piece of cake

Elise at Kissing the Leper has a post on The Acton Institute's Power Blog on the "Zero-Sum Game Economic Fallacy":

Imagine this:  a teacher tells her high school students that they are going to enjoy a chocolate cake, while learning about food distribution and economics.  (As a former high school teacher, I assure you, most of the students heard nothing past the word, “cake”.)

The teacher then divides the students into three groups.  In her class of 30 students, one group is made up of 4 students, a second group is 10 students and the third group is 16.  The teacher then sets the cake before them, and announces that she will divide the cake according to food distribution norms among “first, second and third world countries”.


The goal of the teacher will be, of course, to see if the students with the most cake will share their cake with the other two groups.  If they don’t, that choice will be discussed as well.  The students will come away with the idea that everyone will have an equal piece of cake if only those with more share what they have.
Elise then goes to point out that it assumes resources are constant, that the third group of sixteen can't go bake their own cake, that they need to sit around begging for resources from the first and second groups.

One the one hand, the point that we should strive to help them develop their own resources and wealth is very much taken. On the other hand, it grants the Austrian-school assumption that property owners have an absolute right of use that allows for no interference save the most basic law-and-order government support. To simplify: if four of the students end up with half of the only cake available, it's because they were more efficient and more skilled at getting that half, so they have no social obligation to share their excess with the other twenty-six. Go bake your own or go without, but stop grumbling because it really is fair.

This absolute right to use, however, is utterly alien to the Catholic tradition. Traditionally, Catholic philosophy has made a distinction between the ownership of goods and their use. The right to private property is the right to ownership of goods; it does not include an absolute right to use these goods however one sees fit. This distinction is rooted in the papal encyclicals. “We reassert in the first place the fundamental principle, laid down by Leo XIII, that the right of property must be distinguished from its use.” Leo XIII, to whom Pius is referring, stated that “the just ownership of money is distinct from the just use of money.” John Paul II completes the lineage of papal teaching, refuting the claim that somehow Centesimus Annus represents a reversal in Church social policy, as though a reversal of immutable truth were possible:
While the Pope proclaimed the right to private ownership, he affirmed with equal clarity that the “use” of goods, while marked by freedom, is subordinated to their original common destination as created goods, as well as to the will of Jesus Christ as expressed in the Gospel.
It's worthwhile reading the three great social-justice encyclicals, Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, Pius XI's Quadragesimo Anno, and Bl. John Paul II's Centesimus Annus. The Distributist Review website has plenty of other encyclicals and bulls on the subject, as well as a walk-through by Thomas Storck. Also, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine is online at the Vatican website. 

The point I'm making, though, is that while it's good and charitable to help Third World nations develop their resources, that action doesn't substitute for or negate the obligations of distributive justice. For further thoughts, see my post in The Other Blog on the wealth gap and our current recession.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Random Political Observations Sunday (Vol. 4)

Feast of Corpus Christi, 2011

I've already given my reaction and thoughts on The Other Blog. Just as a reminder, though, the score is now 31-6, and traditional marriage has won wherever gay marriage has been put to popular vote. However, the score may be made moot if SCOTUS decides they want to make unconstitutional laws defining marriage traditionally ... and they really don't need to work that hard to rationalize it, either.

After reading about Mitt Romney's part in the Massachusetts same-sex marriage debacle and his refusal to sign the SBA List, I've come to the conclusion that he's pro-life only on the campaign trail, like a number of Republicans. Michele Bachmann gave a preview of her candidacy by saying she would propose a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage. However, I'm still not convinced that she has what it takes to win the primaries and go the distance against Barack Obama. Ruben Navarrete makes the point that Rick Perry's attractiveness as a candidate is based on a perception of how good he is at creating jobs; however, most of those jobs have been filled by non-Texans and immigrants, and at the cost of letting education and the state infrastructure slide while boosting the state deficit. Herman Cain is a corporate stooge; nobody else is in the field right now. I'm still waiting for everyone to get placed.

*sigh* Why didn't we take over Mexico when we had the chance? (Answer: Because we didn't want it, and because we couldn't have afforded the occupation forces if we did.)

I've long thought that the majority of the US' immigration policy with respect to Mexico was informed in part by racism, and perhaps a bit by anti-Catholicism. However, recognizing the fact of the Mexican drug cartels and their increasing aggressiveness isn't racism but ground truth.

The cartels shouldn't be thought of as comparable to La Cosa Nostra or the Crips and the Bloods. The Mob never sought any confrontation with cops, and didn't kill them whenever they could avoid it; the police and the feds were enemies, but enemies to be respected so long as they were clean. The Crips and the Bloods, for as much as they're drains on society, are Mob wanna-bes; cut them off from their suppliers, and they're nothing. 

Rather, the cartels are governments within the Mexican government, poisoning Mexican society at various levels. If I were Felipe Calderón, I'd want a bill from the Mexican Congress recognizing the cartels as forces in rebellion against the legitimate government, so I could send in the Army.

Homeowners' associations can go too far.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Iron Chef battle I want to see!

... And if we get enough people to write in to The Food Network, maybe we can make it happen!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

USDA promotes bigotry against Christians?

Here’s the lede on the June 17 Washington Times story on the USDA’s sensitivity-training program:

U.S. Department of Agriculture activists want to impose their intense brand of homosexual sensitivity training governmentwide, including a discussion that compares “heterosexism” — believing marriage can be between only one man and one woman — to racism.

You knew it was coming, didn’t you? This is how they rammed affirmative action down our throats: by dismissing all opposing arguments — good, bad or indifferent — under the demonizing term "racist" and marginalizing or forcing out a few of the more vocal opponents pour l'encourager les autres.

To equate "heterosexism" with racism is particularly nasty work precisely because there's still lingering traces of distrust, especially within people of color against white people. The precise problem with affirmative action, notwithstanding the fact that it works for the most part, is that it commits injustice against qualified white people in the name of correcting past injustices against people of color, against men in the name of women. But it's laughable to maintain that "the system" needs correction for gay people when their education and average household income is above the median.

No, the name of the game isn't "correction", it's indoctrination. Worse, if the USDA's policy is adopted throughout the Administration, it will make bigotry against faithful Christians official government policy. This Orwellian doublespeak needs to be protested and done away with ASAP!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: Looking at the Protestant problem with authority

 There are plenty of roadblocks to the reunion of Christians under one banner, and many will choose to point to one or another as the key point. Underlying them all, though, is the issue of authority. Whose interpretation of Scripture is correct? Why must we choose one interpretation over another? Is Scripture the sole infallible rule of faith, or does Sacred Tradition have a hold on us in conscience?

In defending the Protestant understanding of the individual priesthood of the believer, the anti-Catholic apologist James R. White states:

The individual priesthood of the believer does not mean there is no Church. It does not mean there are no pastors and teachers. It does not mean we are not to learn from one another, learn from the great Christians of the past, or “start from scratch” with every new generation. The doctrine does not do away with the … authority of elders to teach and train, nor does it give license to anybody and everybody to go out and start some new movement based on their own “take” on things. While this may happen, it is an abuse of the doctrine, not an application of it (White, The Roman Catholic Controversy [1996], pp. 52-53).
However, the very abuse White decries is precisely the legacy of the individual priesthood as Martin Luther conceived it. And, as Devin Rose demonstrates in just over 150 pages, it's an inevitable consequence of the rejection of an infallible, authoritative Church.

(Full disclosure: Devin, who blogs over at St. Joseph's Vanguard, sent me the book to review.)
Devin begins the book by detailing his own gradual conversion to Christ from atheism, and his gravitation to Catholicism shortly after coming to faith. He also includes stories of other people either in transition or who have actually crossed the Tiber. But as interesting and heartening as those stories are, the main pulse of the book is the issue of authority, and most of the book is given over to it.

Because Devin attacks the problem of authority from several different directions, occasionally it looks like he's recovering previous points. That's inevitable; for instance, there's no separating the issue of the sacrament of confession without tying it back to Jesus' giving the Apostles the power to forgive sins, which also affects the problem of apostolic succession. Because he goes in different directions, and because these occasional repeats happen in different arguments, we don't get the effect of listening to Johnny One-Note on the kazoo.

The one necessary repeat is the phrase which is the title. Each time he reaches a midpoint or the end of a line of argument, Devin states, "If Protestantism were true ...", with the inevitably devastating conclusion. Nor does his line solely concern Scriptural proof-texts; he continually brings up arguments and testimony from the Reformers themselves, as well as statements from Protestant historians and authors. (One citation I was especially pleased to see was R. C. Sproul's trenchant characterization of the Protestant Bible as "a fallible collection of infallible writings".) He's also not shy about discussing the Church Fathers, who are very much the elephant in the Evangelical living room.

I read fast to begin with, so I devoured the book spine and all in just over three hours; a slower reader could finish it in a day, with ample time for reflection. It helps that Devin's writing style is very light and lucid, and that his tone is very engaging without being patronizing or acerbic. Over and over again, he reminds the reader that Protestants are not damned to Hell by mere dint of being Protestants, and that his interest is in fostering reunion.

All in all, Devin's arguments are clear enough that Catholics looking to defend the Church against Protestants should have this book on their shelves as a resource. At the same time, they're charitable enough that Catholics should recommend or give the book to Protestants who have their own questions on the matter.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Random Political Observations Sunday (Vol. 3)

Happy Father’s Day/Trinity Sunday!

Stop the presses.

Actually, the story concerns media priming — “the idea that the things we watch or listen to or read influence our emotions and our behavior, perhaps more than we realize”. And it reminds me of the comedian (I don’t remember his name) who said, “After watching a ‘Rambo’ movie, even Ghandi would come out saying, ‘Very good, let’s go kick some butt!’” The concept deserves more thought than I want to give it here; but it should give us the willies when we remember who’s in charge of Hollywood ….

Rick Perry’s hat not in the 2012 ring yet

I’m lousy about paying attention to local politics, so I can’t really say whether I think Perry’s been good for Texas or not. The word is, though, that if he enters the race, he could upset the whole card and provide Mitt Romney with a very serious rival. As far as his pro-life cred goes, he’s fairly solid; I don’t think he gets the contraception angle (he recently tried to require the HPV vaccine for Texas public schoolgirls), but then very few people outside the inner core of the movement do … including most Catholics. So Perry may be the best deal we can get.

2 Punished After Disabled Gays Told to Leave Pool

Disabled and gay? Boy, somebody picked the wrong time to be authoritarian …. There’s some question about whether or not the two men did kiss, but the suspended employee did admit to having quoted the Bible. So now there’s a sign prohibiting discrimination and excessive PDAs. I hope somebody clarified what “excessive” is ….

Samuel L. Jackson says it’s f***ing bedtime!

I used to blame my salty language on Marine Corps boot camp. Truth is, though, I learned how to swear before I entered junior high. On one memorable occasion, my little brother got into a bloody accident at the bottom of our hill while riding a bike, and as I flew to his rescue, I screamed, “Oh, f***!” … loud enough for my parents to hear. My father (God be good to him), who had no qualms about corporal punishment, was rather diffident about avenging this crime, since he had worn Air Force blue for 22 years and had probably taught me some Anglo-Saxon epithets without meaning to. Over the last twenty years or so, I’ve tried to minimize it, and have been successful to the point that when I do swear it sometimes catches people by surprise.

My objection to blue language is more aesthetic than moral, other than the misuse of the name of the Lord. There are now over a million words in the English language, so it’s unimaginative, not to mention boring and defiling, to make a heavy use of “the seven words you can’t say on television [CONTENT WARNING: Link leads to YouTube clip with strong, obscene language! … i.e., George Carlin when he was funny]. So I try not to swear, and I don’t automatically find cussing funny anymore.

Except when it’s Samuel L. Jackson. The man is an artist with cuss words. And so I picked up the audio version of the parody children’s book Go the F**k to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach. It’s available through for free. If you’re violently against strong language, then don’t bother. If, however, you’re not against strong language, you’ve got kids/been a babysitter, and/or you love Sam Jackson, listen … and try not to bust a gut laughing.

Yes, I know this isn’t a political observation. Slow news day.

Creative Minority Report has a couple of posts on Mitt Romney's refusal to sign the Susan B. Anthony List's Pledge, which the good folks at SBA List are using as a litmus test for pro-life candidates. Now, Rick Santorum has pointed out that one of Mitt's stated reasons for refusing to sign — that he would be required "to end all federal funding for thousands of hospitals across America" — is a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the third plank of the Pledge ("defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions"). 

Okay, grant that Romney's first argument is a misunderstanding. His second argument, though — he doesn't want his hands tied on his decisions by a third party — I have to agree with; if I were a candidate in '12, I'd refuse to on that principle alone. Most people with any political sense whatsoever know that to be appointed to a major position in the Executive would carry along with it the responsibility not to act against the Oval Office; that's career suicide. It's unlikely that anyone wholly opposed to the pro-life movement would accept an appointment in any of those key roles in a committed pro-life administration anyway. It matters less whether Dr. Joe Schmuckatelli, Director of the NIH, is against abortion than it does that Pres. Schmuckatelli is against abortion and a Chief Executive capable of instilling and supporting loyalty among his subordinates.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Throwing the letter in the fire

Reminds me of a story: One day, Edwin M. Stanton, Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of War, came into Lincoln's office in a towering rage over an abusive letter he'd received from a general who'd accused him of favoritism. Lincoln sat him down at his own desk and had him write out an equally angry reply, suggesting, "Prick him hard!" Stanton did so, and showed it to the President, who exclaimed, "Right! Right! Just score him deeply! That's first rate, Stanton."

But when Stanton folded it and put it into an envelope, Lincoln asked, "What are you going to do with it?" Stanton, puzzled, replied, "Send it." "Nonsense!" Lincoln denied. "You don't want to send that letter. Put it in the stove." Then he explained: "That's what I do when I've written a letter while I'm angry. It's a good letter, and you've had a good time writing it and feel better. Now, burn it, and write another letter."

In the last four years or so of haunting the blogosphere, I've had a few occasions where I've written comments in anger and hit the "Reply" button before I've cooled down enough to re-think my response. A minute later, I'd read my now-permanent contribution, and I'd cringe at its juvenile put-downs and snarky dismissiveness. But, of course, I could no longer do anything about it: for better or worse, it was out there beyond my reach.

Which is all by way of saying why I haven't written anything about John Corapi's decision to leave the priesthood, and why I forgive Mark Shea for blowing his top and posting in anger. I've simply done it too often myself to chide my fellow bloggers for it, or kick them when they feel remorse. And I can't honestly say I'll never do it again, because anger's like that ... it has the disturbing tendency to overwhelm good intentions and common sense.

I too feel hurt and betrayed, as I do whenever I read of any priest who abandons his collar, whether in the sense of resigning from the priesthood or in the sense of engaging in scandalous behavior. Granted, I don't know the full story behind the accusations, his confrontation with his religious superiors or their decision prompting his resignation. And part of me wonders if anger isn't overwhelming his better judgment as well; certainly it'll cost him some credibility as he moves into his self-appointed role as "the black sheepdog".

But anger and ignorance are bad positions from which to write anything more.

As former Rep. Anthony Weiner has found out, the Brave New World of electronic communications makes it much easier — far too easy — to commit stupid indiscretions with catastrophic impact to one's life, career and relationships than it was when we depended on mail, telegraphs and printing presses to communicate over long distances and large groups of people. (If you've seen this eHarmony video that was viral a few days ago, you'll see it's not limited to the famous.) We no longer have wood-burning stoves in which we can throw first drafts; in fact, the Brave New World almost actively discourages first drafts of anything.

Not that Mark's post was an indiscretion of career-ending injury or colossal dumbth. Just sayin'.

The old African proverb says, "Do not throw in anger the spear which will be returned against you." Every email, every tweet, every text message and every post should be regarded as a potential boomerang that can come back at you, from an unexpected direction at an unpredictable time, to klonk you on the head. While this is especially true for those who make their living in the public eye, it's no less true for the anonymous semi-skilled worker hidden in the bowels of Ginormous Industries Intl., schlepping his way to "gold watch time" with Outlook and Communicator on his work desktop.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday! (Vol. 5)

Actually, Frank Weathers accepted me into RandBusters™ before I wrote the preceding entry. He did it on the strength of a couple of blog posts I'd done earlier: "If I could tell a story" (this blog) and "Of robber barons and moral codes" (The Other Blog). Thanks, Frank!

Pat Archbold has printed a list of names of his favorite bloggers on his National Catholic Register blog. Many of them are also my favorites, but he also left off a few. I tried to make up for it in my comment there; alas, I don't think I've mentioned everybody. Get on over there and mention each other, for cryin' out loud!

Wednesday was the anniversary of the falling asleep of one whom we might one day call Saint Gilbert of Battersea. I celebrated it by reading his epic poem, The Ballad of the White Horse, and by downloading and reading his autobiography. (It was only available in HTML and text formats. If you'd like to read it, I've reformatted it and put it in a PDF file; drop me an email and I'll send it to you.)

Knight of the Holy Ghost, he goes his way,
Wisdom his motley, Truth his loving jest;
The mills of Satan keep his lance in play,
Pity and innocence his heart at rest.
—Walter de la Mare
Slowly but surely, the list of summer cleaning chores is getting done. The fastest was the gutters: there were no leaves in them, but the one in back had a clog just beyond the first bend in the drainpipe as it descends from the gutter. Less than ten minutes all told. Today, we swept out the garage ... lots of leaves, gravel and dandelion fluff! Not to mention various receipts, candy wrappers and bits of packing popcorn—whose bright idea was that, anyway?

 You know what an earworm is, right? (I like that term better than "humsickness", "repetunitis" or "ear wedgy".) This is what's been going through my head all #*$!& week! Guys: minimize the window to practice custody of the eyes ... and also to keep from busting a gut at the absolutely ridiculous pompadours; the lead singer looks like a cross between Billy Joel and a French poodle.

I have two clear competitors for Best Line I've Read All Week. One is from Chesterton's Autobiography: "My brother, Cecil Edward Chesterton, was born when I was about five years old; and, after a brief pause, began to argue." The other comes from Simcha Fisher's NCRegister blog entry, "Espressivo": "Once, when he was striving to explain sonata form, I coolly answered that I’d rather let the music just wash over me, instead of wrecking the mood by overthinking it.  By the look he gave me, I think he heard me say something like,  'I prefer to let small children be mutilated by elephants, rather than harsh my buzz.'" Which do you think is better?

For me, summer is only tangentially connected to apohelion (yes, folks, when it's summer in the northern hemisphere, the earth is actually at its furthest from the sun). In Omaha when I was a kid, summer always began Memorial Day (when the pools opened) and ended Labor Day (the last day of school vacation). Even down here in north-central Texas, where summer weather begins around May Day and ends just before Halloween, that's still how I block off summer mentally and emotionally. However, since it is warmer down here, we can grill on Martin Luther King Day if we so choose .... When does summer begin and end for you?

Once again, tune in on Sunday for Random Political Observations! Keep me in your prayers!

What I know about Ayn Rand ...

... I could exaggerate and finish the phrase with, "... could be written on the inside of a matchbook with a grease pencil." And it is true, I do know very little about her and her writings.

Here's what I do know, however: Rand's Objectivism advocated an "enlightened self-interest" (contradiction in terms, that) which takes cognizance of other people only so far as they assist or thwart the self in achieving one's personal satisfaction. An elucidated, formalized sociopathy, if I may be so blunt. Because of this, she regarded with horror and disgust Christians and Christianity, with its ethic built around agape and self-sacrifice. Her key phrase, "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine,"  stands in direct opposition to Christ's command to love one another (Jn 13:34), and his teaching that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends (Jn 13:15).

Knowing this is enough to conclude that Randism and Christianity are incompatible: "No man can serve two masters" (Mt 6:24; cf. Lk 16:13). Any questions?

See Frank Weathers at Why I Am Catholic about RandBusters!™

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I have this theory …

I'd love to own the rights ....
… that most people, including those with post-graduate degrees (especially those in certain liberal-arts disciplines whose names end in “Studies”) have only the faintest notion of what morality means and what morals are.

I don’t say that most people are evil or bad or ethically-challenged. Rather, they have this vague, transient notion that morals have only to do with sexual and reproductive decisions.

Candidly, this is the only way I can explain the existence of otherwise intelligent people who can say, when the subject is (say) homosexuality, “Morality is relative, and we should respect all moral choices equally,” then in the next breath demand laws against hate crimes and requiring sensitivity training … without seeing any inconsistency.

Of course, it could be garden-variety hypocrisy, of the kind inherent in the statement “Catholics are all bigots”. However, when I once told a pair of college students that all laws are morality-based, a truism as obvious to me as “All water is wet”, they looked at me as if I’d claimed we were hanging by our hair from the sky, and exclaimed in unison, “No, they aren’t!”

I’m sure they’d have agreed with me if I’d said that all laws are based on ideas of right and wrong behavior. But for some reason, using the word morality triggered the opposite reaction. I believe more people would agree there are some acts that are objectively right and wrong as long as we didn’t use the word “morality” to describe that sense of objective right and wrong.

I believe the trigger that set my two young college companions to horror was the association of morality with the “Thou shalt not’s” of the Decalogue. But all law says to us, “Thou shalt not,” except where it says, “Thou must.” Even the freedoms of the Constitution require the engagement of prohibition, albeit prohibition against the government itself: “Thou shalt not forcibly quarter soldiers in citizens’ homes.” Not a single former executive now sitting in durance vile would have been tried and convicted of embezzlement or larceny had we not agreed in principle, “Thou shalt not steal.” If today we don’t encode all the Decalogue into law (freedom of religion), or we do include in law things never envisioned in the days of Moses (“Thou shalt not double-park;” “Keep thou holy the income-tax filing deadline”), the law still encodes morality.

So why do I bother you with this statement of the obvious? Because it isn’t obvious anymore. As George Orwell put it, We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” What was once common sense is no longer common, and what is common is mostly nonsense.

Which, I guess, is another way of saying that people are stupid. *sigh*

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Knight of the Holy Ghost, he goes his way ...

Do you remember when we went
Under a dragon moon,
And `mid volcanic tints of night
Walked where they fought the unknown fight
And saw black trees on the battle-height,
Black thorn on Ethandune?
And I thought, "I will go with you,
As man with God has gone,
And wander with a wandering star,
The wandering heart of things that are,
The fiery cross of love and war
That like yourself, goes on."

O go you onward; where you are
Shall honour and laughter be,
Past purpled forest and pearled foam,
God's winged pavilion free to roam,
Your face, that is a wandering home,
A flying home for me.

Ride through the silent earthquake lands,
Wide as a waste is wide,
Across these days like deserts, when
Pride and a little scratching pen
Have dried and split the hearts of men,
Heart of the heroes, ride.

Up through an empty house of stars,
Being what heart you are,
Up the inhuman steeps of space
As on a staircase go in grace,
Carrying the firelight on your face
Beyond the loneliest star.

Take these; in memory of the hour
We strayed a space from home
And saw the smoke-hued hamlets, quaint
With Westland king and Westland saint,
And watched the western glory faint
Along the road to Frome.
—from "Dedication", The Ballad of the White Horse,
by G. K. Chesterton

Monday, June 13, 2011

Homoskeptic vs. homophobic

For people who don’t hate, dislike or fear gay people, but simply believe that sex between people who are not married (including all sex between those of the same sex) is morally wrong, we need a new term. I’d like to propose the term “homosceptic” — a term that is not yet in common use and hence arguably open to (re)definition. My Microsoft Word spell-check rejects it as a known word and a Google search for it throws up only 1,830 examples of its use in any context. (In the American spelling, homoskeptic, there are only 230 examples.)

The Urban dictionary defines a “homosceptic” as “a member of society who does not hate homosexuals, but generally does not agree with the principle of homosexuality in moral and ethical terms”.

I’d like to broaden this definition to include “being sceptical about the key presuppositions of the gay rights movement” such as the beliefs that:

  • Homosexuality is genetically determined
  • Homosexual orientation is always fixed
  • Sexual orientation is a biological characteristic like race, sex or skin colour
  • Feelings of same sex attraction should be welcomed and acted upon
  • Offering help to those who wish to resist or eradicate these feelings is always wrong
Of course if you accept these “key presuppositions” you may well believe people who don’t to be ignorant, bigoted, prejudiced or even immoral. You might even feel that such people should not hold public office, publicly express their views or hold any job which involves having to condone, promote or facilitate same-sex intimacy.

But if you have some doubts about the truth of some or all of these beliefs — and suspect that they might be more “ideology-driven” than “evidence-based” — then perhaps you could argue that you are not “homophobic” but rather “homosceptic”.
Of course, since I'm an American, it follows that I prefer spelling it with a k after the s (homoskeptic).

I've never liked the term "homophobia", first because it's sloppily derived (at first glance, it could simply be fear of sameness), second because it was born to be a catchall slam against any opinion contrary to the gay-rights issue de jour ... an ad hominem masquerading as a diagnosis. But since it's now a certified part of the language, then I'd like a word that admits of a rational basis for rejecting those key presuppositions.

Homoskeptic works nicely. Thanks, Mr. Saunders!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Random Political Observations Sunday (Vol. 2)

Ginni Thomas, wife of SC associate justice Clarence Thomas, received a salary of $150,000 in 2010 from Liberty Central, which she helped found and which supports repeal of Obamacare. ", run by Kevin Zeese, argued in a letter sent last week to the FBI that Thomas deliberately excluded his wife's income over the past 20 years and 'engaged in judicial corruption' by receiving $100,000 in support from Citizens United during his nomination in 1991.

"The group alleges that Thomas then paid up on a quid pro quo 19 years later when the court voted in favor of Citizens United in a campaign finance ruling that enables corporations and unions to donate to candidates without naming its contributors."

[Okay, besides the obvious idiocy in the "20-year quid pro quo" claim, anybody but me notice the inference that Ms. Thomas can't have an opinion separate from her husband's? Either that, or he's so hen-pecked he can't have an opinion separate from hers?]

"'We knew that Justice Thomas' family had a financial stake in opposing health care reform. Now we know even more,' Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. 'It's pretty clear the justice has one option here: recusal.'" [Sorry, Tony, your credibility on judicial ethics questions is sub-par right now. Talk to us when you come out of counseling.]

"Public Citizen is working on behalf of Harry Cason, a Ph.D. student at the City University of New York who filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the CIA in 2009 for research he was doing on the U.S. role in Spain’s Franco regime, where Opus Dei allegedly played some part." [Serving coffee and doughnuts for the Falange, perhaps.]

Empire, Nevada, is the last example of a "company town", where every square acre and every building on each acre is owned by one company: United States Gypsum. Back in December, USG, which has posted over $1.5 billion in losses over the last three years, had to make the tough decision to shut down the gypsum mine and drywall factory. On June 20, the town will officially cease to exist, even as a ZIP code; the 136 acres will be sealed off by a chain-link fence and barbed wire. [Please offer some prayers for the people of Empire, Nevada, and their families, that they may all find new homes and new jobs very soon. Some already have ... but prayer never hurts.]

Obama Administration backs Argentina over UK on Falklands dispute
Here are two puzzling questions: 1) Why is Pres. Obama so bound and determined to p*** off one of the few allies we have left? 2) If there weren't a commercially viable oil reserve offshore, would anyone care who had title to the islands?

Some gay-rights foes claim they are bullied ["Claim"?]

"'They lost the argument on gay people, and now they are losing the argument on marriage,' said lawyer Evan Wolfson, president of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry. 'Diversions, scare tactics and this playing the victim are all they have left.'

"He added: 'There's been a shift in the moral understanding of people: that exclusion from marriage and anti-gay prejudice is wrong. Positions that wouldn't have been questioned in the past are now being held up to the light.' ...

"'If we made it such that no law firm would defend the indefensible, then good for us,' said Fred Sainz, the Human Rights Campaign's vice president for communication. 'When you have people talking about the fact that it's no longer politically correct to be anti-equality, it's a show of progress.'"

[In other words, "Shut up, you homophobic whiners." Guess the cult of victimhood only admits of liberal victims.] 

Too much coffee makes you hear voices, study suggests 
Wonder how long it will be until P. Z. Myers or Sam Harris claims coffee is responsible for Christian revelation? There's no naturalistic explanation so stupid that some atheist won't claim we must believe it rather than Scriptural accounts.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday! (Vol. 4)

Got an invitation to the annual class golf tournament. Would be great to go ... if it were held down here in Texas. Alas, it's back at the old hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Next year is the thirtieth reunion ... hopefully I'm working by then ....
Julie from The Corner With A View is back in the USA from her trip to South Korea! Hopefully she'll have something posted for us tomorrow.

Stacy at Accepting Abundance has an interesting reflection on being open to life after 40. I just remember something a father of four said on Simcha Fisher's blog when confronted with the inevitable question:

Officious, unknown dolt in mall: “How can you have so many kids?”
Father of 4: “Because I believe in Darwinism.”
OUDIM: “Wha…what?”
FO4: “Yes. Survival of the fittest means actually reproducing, so your offspring dominate the future. I don’t understand why so many people who believe in Darwinism really, really suck at following it.”

That having been said, being open to life does not require going out of one's way to become pregnant. But if Stacy and her husband want another child, then it's a beautiful thing ... such a delightful change from "Don't we already have enough?"

Speaking of great lines: 
“Literature departments really are where bad ideas go to die — or, rather, to walk the earth as poorly reanimated zombies, eating the brains of heedless young people.” — John Zmirak, “The Economy Is Not A Poem”, Crisis, 6/8/2011

Some lines just make you sit back and admire the craft.
 Speaking of great lines, His Hermeneuticalness has this one: 

I like the idea that the Secretary of Ecclesia Dei would so easily speak of themes "that are known." This is honest and sensible: we do all know the principal points under discussion, and Catholic blogs have helped, I think, in a sort of Distributed Denial of Stupidity by focussing on the real doctrinal questions.
My younger brother, Bob, has finally gone from splints covered in yards of Ace bandages and cotton to a fiberglass cast on his leg. The goal is for the fracture of his tibia to keep from collapsing while it tries to heal, so he won't require surgery ... with his diabetes and the cellulitis in his leg, the probability of infection from surgery approaches 1.0. Keep him in your prayers!
Devin Rose is sending me a free copy of If Protestantism Is True to review. My friend Elise is also reviewing the Kindle version of it, and Brent Stubbs has posted a positive review already. So I'm looking forward to it even more!

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Look for another installment of Random Political Observations Sunday. Otherwise, have a great weekend!