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 Mercator.net 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 REAL MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A REAL ST. NICHOLAS!"

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?

Let:
  • 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 

ntdaily

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.