Thursday, February 28, 2013

Farewell, Papa Bene ...

Not so much "goodbye".  More of an au revoir, cher papa.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The latest resignation conspiracy theory

ITCCS Ireland overwhelms Dublin with its numbers (4/2010).
A couple of days ago, a coworker announced that he knew why Pope Benedict was resigning.  "He's being pressured by this international group who has given a list of demands, and if the Catholic Church didn't comply by September 15th, they'll face a whole bunch of trials for crimes against humanity and get pushed out of five different countries."

Aw, jeez.  I like my coworker, but he's a Jehovah's Witness, which means that: 1) he's most likely to be substantially misinformed about anything to do with Catholicism, and 2) as a function of that, confirmation bias will lead him to believe anything that portrays the Church in a negative light, especially if it has to do with the predator priest scandals.  (In fairness, as I told a friend on Facebook last night, the scandals have used up a lot of the Church's moral capital, and it will be a long time and a lot of vigilant diligence on the part of Church leadership before we earn it back.  Like maybe a century or so.)

Fortunately, he sent a link to the story to the guy who sits next to me, who then forwarded it to me.  I also checked with Dave Pierre of The Media Report, especially as the story references the Magdalene Laundries scandal, which was recently exposed by the Irish government's McAleese Report as mostly media-created fiction.  (Again, the point is not that "things weren't really that bad" but that "things were bad enough that exaggeration and bogus claims are both unnecessary and potentially counterproductive".)  As I suspected, ITCCS is about as small as the picture above portrays, mostly the work of one man.  The deadline quoted was September 15th of last year:  "Gee, how are those 'halting of operations' and 'indictments' going?" Dave wondered.  "Not very well, from what I can see."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A post about Nothing

A couple of years ago, on my blog The Impractical Catholic, I made a snarky little comment about atheists feeling unhappy that people still prefer hope to despair and meaning to meaninglessness. And being a little too proud of the comment, I also posted it on Facebook.

One friend of a friend — Jessica, an atheist — called me on it. I was indulging in an unfair generalization, and she was offended. Another friend attempted to defend me; alas, honesty compelled me to publicly admit my lack of charity and apologize.

It does bring up a question, though: On what grounds does an atheist base hope?

Well, on a wholesale level, there’s not much.  Regardless of what happens to humanity after you die, the best you can hope for is that your name will be remembered centuries after your soul has been extinguished, preferably as a force for good and a benefactor to society and human development.

Read the rest at Catholic Stand!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Waiting for Boaz

This bit of "Biblical advice" has been circulating as a meme for at least a couple of years now.  I can only find one fault with it:  I can't find the line, "Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz," anywhere in Scripture.

In fact, according to the story, once Naomi and Ruth determined that Boaz was the ideal candidate to marry Ruth, their strategy was pretty aggressive: Ruth was to make herself as presentable as possible, uncover him and lie down next to him on a night when he would be particularly isolated and amenable ... that is, buzzed after feasting and drinking (Ruth 3:3-4).  By presenting her marriage claim in such a fashion, Ruth would signal that she was not only offering herself out of duty but of her free will.

The sexual suggestion is unmistakeable.  Had Boaz been a lesser man, he could have taken advantage of Ruth that night and given her nothing in recompense.  But not only does he not take advantage of her, Boaz tells Ruth that another kinsman of her dead husband has a prior claim; however, he gives Ruth grain to take back to Naomi as an earnest of his promise to marry the Moabite woman if the other kinsman doesn't (Ruth 3:10-13, 15-17).  While there is a wait implied, it's only for one day, as Boaz moves swiftly to secure her rights and reputation.  Naomi's strategy is risky, but it's a calculated risk made less chancy by her knowledge of Boaz, and it pays off handsomely.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Making smoke and mirrors out of smoke and mirrors

The AP prepares a story about the upcoming conclave.
If you didn’t know by now, you’ll learn it eventually: Sometimes the media has to stretch whatever materials it has on hand to make a hit piece look like topical journalism.

For instance, if I wrote for, say, the Associated Press, I could scrape through a lot of history to pull together a story about Vatican secrecy.  A lot can be said about it, especially in contrast to various Scriptural texts that could be taken to mandate transparency.  It’s a good subject that deserves some discussion.  But it’s just not topical—Oh, wait!  They just revealed that Pope Benedict hit his head on a trip to Mexico last year.  And a couple of days ago, we learned that he had a “secret” operation to have batteries in his pacemaker replaced.  And haven’t they been building his retirement home for a while?

Now we’ve got TOPICALITY! Except that, as is baseline standard with the MSM, we still manage to get some things wrong.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Nunc dimittis

It's amazing that such a humble, almost diffident man, a man who was very good at staying out of the spotlight for most of his career, could manage such a dramatic finish to his papacy.

As Vatican spokesman Greg Burke reminded us on NBC's Today, Pope Benedict did hint in his book-length interview with Peter Seewald, Light of the World, that he viewed resignation as a possible end to his reign, though he gave no timetable for it.  At 85, Papa Ratzinger has given over sixty years' service to the Faith, contributing to the success of his blessed predecessor's reign when other men and women of his age group were spending their pensions golfing and chasing their grandchildren, and was called to succeed Bl. John Paul just when he was anticipating his own retirement.

To people on the outside, such as FOXNews' John Moody, in any comparison between Benedict and John Paul II, Papa Bene is bound to come up short.  Papa Wojtyła changed the papacy dramatically, as befit a poet and playwright, tearing apart the centuries of distance and formality, making the Vicar of Christ a familiar face as he roamed the world preaching the evangelium in as many languages as he could over twenty-seven years.  Even now, I must confess, when I call him up in my own memory, I see him big and broad-shouldered, carrying his crozier like an alpine staff or a halberd, looking almost as if someone had dressed a Steelers linebacker in the white cassock.  Even more impressive, though, were the last few years as John Paul forced his ailing, crippled body along in testimony to endurance in suffering, continuing to preach God's love until finally he could preach no more.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Terrorism in the name of tolerance

Floyd Lee Corkins II
Floyd Lee Corkins II pleaded guilty today to committing an act of terrorism while armed, interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, and assault with intent to kill while armed, all in connection with  the shooting of Leo Johnson, the building manager at the Family Research Council, last August. Corkins, 28, had a list of four "anti-gay" PACs that he’d gotten from the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center and was planning to kill people at all four, smearing Chick-fil-A sandwiches on their faces, in order to intimidate gay-rights opponents.  Fortunately, his plan fell apart right away when Johnson wrestled him to the ground and took his weapon away, suffering a bullet wound in the process.

"In order to intimidate gay-rights opponents".  That's not me putting words in his mouth; that's what CNN reports that he told judge Richard Roberts.

If you felt your buttocks clench and you became very, very defensive, just think of how we feel when people try to make the wingnuts at Westboro Baptist our "representatives".  Consider what pro-life people feel when hardcore pro-aborts make us responsible for the terrorists who bomb clinics.  What's sauce for the goose ....

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pulling off the scabs—UPDATED

Brig. Gen. Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, USAF (Ret.)
On Dec. 12, 1963, Col. Chuck Yeager was testing a specially modified F-104 Starfighter for use in the Air Force's astronaut training program.  The fighter was showing some problems of pitch-up at extremely high altitudes, but on previous flights the problem had been overcome with the peroxide jets in the nose, just like the jets used for attitude control on satellites and other spacecraft.  On his second flight that day, the peroxide jets didn't work; eventually, the plane fell into a flat spin and rotated like a phonograph record as it hurtled to the desert floor below.

Yeager punched out.  But as his parachute deployed, his ejection seat got caught in the risers.  Eventually it fell, and the hot exhaust pipe clobbered Yeager's helmet, setting the rubber seal on fire in the pure oxygen atmosphere.  Yeager put the fire out and touched down safely on the desert floor, but sustained massive burns to his face and neck.

Let's let Chuck tell the story from there:

So it was several days before I realized how bad things really were.  My face was swollen to the size of a pumpkin, badly charred from being blowtorched.  [Dr. Stanley Bear] came in and sat down.  He said, "Well, Chuck, I've got good news and bad news.  The good news is that your lungs have not been permanently damaged from inhaling flame and smoke, and your eye looks good.  The bad news is I'm gonna have to hurt you like you've never been hurt before in your life to keep you from being permanently disfigured.  And I'm gonna have to do it every four days."
I stayed in the hospital a month, and every four days Doc started from the middle of my face and neck, scraping away the accumulated scab.  It was a new technique developed to avoid horrible crisscross scars as the skin grew beneath the scabs.  And it worked beautifully.  I have only a few scars on my neck, but my face healed perfectly smooth.  The pain, though, was worse than any I have ever known.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The HHS' running sick joke

So tell me: Why did the Obamination even bother with this new rule change, this latest attempt to hide First Amendment violations under creative bookkeeping?

According to the legal analysis done by Americans United for Life, for-profit employers like Hobby Lobby and Bible publisher Tyndale will still not be afforded any exemption under the proposed new rules.  Worse, if one affiliate of a group plan doesn't meet the stringent requirements, the group itself won't be exempted or even "accommodated".

The "accommodation" is worthy of a fuller quote:

The [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking]’s description of the "accommodation" as alleviating the conscience concerns of even the select few it pretends to protect requires a substantial amount of make-believe.  Its argument that a “separate” contraceptive plan (that employees/students must be automatically enrolled in — there is no individual opt-out) will somehow not require the payment of either the enrollees or the “accommodated” religious non-profit, rests on the idea that it “is cost neutral because they would be insuring the same set of individuals under both policies…”  Put another way, it is only cost-neutral for the insurance company if both “separate” policies are considered.  In order to make the Obama Administration’s math for “free contraception” work, these insurance plans are not really distinct [bold font mine.—TL].
 In other words, the NPRM concedes damn little, in return for further restrictions in a couple other areas.