Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Snippets — A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome again to Sunday Snippets — A Catholic Carnival, to which I've been very bad about contributing this last year and will hopefully make up for it this next year.

The point of Sunday Snippets is to introduce you to obscure Catholic bloggers whose work you might not ordinarily come across as you hopscotch through the blogosphere. I link a post from each of my blogs through the main page hosted by RAnn at This, That and the Other Thing, and also write up a referring post on the blog you're reading now.

In previous installments of this post, I would usually write up and link a list of post I'd written the previous week, in both this blog and The Other Blog. But not this time; I just haven't written enough to justify it. Besides, you're perfectly capable of scrolling down from the home pages to see what I've written recently. Moreover, the point of this post is to get you over to the Sunday Snippets page, where you can get tasty writing from other Catholics!

So tolle lege: click, read, and enjoy! And have a blessed First Sunday of Christmastide!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Surprise! Better English = better pay

Last week, I received this graphic from Memes from Grammarly come across on my Facebook status frequently; they're generally funny to those of us who are considered "grammar Nazis". (I really don't care for "Nazi" as a descriptor for anyone who's punctilious about anything; what the hell is so evil about demanding clearly-written prose and properly-spelled words that merits such a comparison?)

While the memes Grammarly puts out are funny, though, the Grammarly people are deadly serious about spreading English literacy. So am I; my only concern with ESL courses is that, unless you start early and go for complete fluency in English, you're cutting non-Anglophone students out of a lot of national and international jobs. 

So Grammarly asked me, Your Humble Blogger, to post this on my blog. They also sweetened the pot for me by offering to donate $100 in my name to Reading Is FUNdamental — a really great deal, since I don't have the money to make the donation myself.

Better English means better pay? Quoth Iago (the parrot in Aladdin, voiced by Gilbert Gottfried): "Oh, there's a big surprise! What an incredible — I think I'll have a heart attack and die from that surprise!"

Friday, December 26, 2014

Ask Tony: What did Jesus mean by "fulfilling" the Law of Moses?

Last year, I created the meme to your left to counter another meme based on a rant by John Fugelsang (isn't it indicative of how screwed-up our culture has become that people would make an actor/comedian an authority on religion?).

Fugelsang argued that Jesus wasn't anti-gay, based on the fact that the Gospels don't record anything from him on homosexual relations. However, as I've argued on The Other Blog, if Jesus had said anything supporting gay relationships or controverting Leviticus 18:22, "you can be morally certain the disciples and apostles would have made much of such a counter-cultural affirmation. Jesus' silence, in view of what was taught both before and after his mission, must be construed as consent to the Law: Qui tacet consentire videtur" [loosely, "Silence must be seen as consent"].

However, in creating the counter-meme, by reminding that Jesus "did not come to abolish the law ... but to fulfill [it]" (Matthew 5:17), I stepped into some quicksand. And a non-Christian caught me on it:

[Jesus'] "silence" on abortion and homosexuality could be seen as his "going along" with previous Jewish law, but doesn't that leave you with the problem of all the other kinda awkward Jewish laws ... like about eating pork or not touching menstruating women? (Please address this — I'd love to know why homosexuality is different in this regard.)

 I hate to admit it, but I got sloppy. The fact is, Jesus' fulfillment of the Law of Moses did free us of the Law. What Jesus' fulfillment of the Law didn't do, however, was free us of the spiritual need for moral behavior, or make the concept of sin irrelevant.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Shut your computer off. Go play with your kids; eat some food; hug your spouse; go to midnight Mass ... whatever. Do something with your Christmas that isn't staring at a monitor and is engaging with the people in your house and neighborhood.

Merry Christmas, and happy New Year.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Anti-intellectualism has already taken over the US

Prof. Patricia Williams. (© David Shankbone;
courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)
According to legal scholar Patricia Williams, anti-intellectualism is "taking over" the US. Depending on how you define it, however, one can make the case that intellectualism, as such, has been dead — or at least on life support — for more than two or three decades, and that now we're simply fighting over the ideology in which students will be indoctrinated.

What is "intellectualism", after all? What does it mean to be an intellectual? I'm afraid it's one of those words, the meaning of which we think is fairly obvious and held in common, but on closer examination really conveys different things to different people — a verbal cart made to carry different weights of psychological and social baggage.

On the surface, to be an intellectual is to enjoy the life of the mind more than the life of the body: to enjoy reading, writing, discussions, and arguments; to prefer work and entertainment that engages critical faculties and abstract reasoning abilities more than physical skills. More to the point, while such activities may have practical applications, the intellectual pursues these things more for their own sake than for any pragmatic reasons. The intellectual may be in pursuit of TRVTH or Wisdom. If so, though, it's not necessarily a high-speed chase for a quick capture; the intellectual is perfectly content to enjoy the ride, and catch up to TRVTH/Wisdom eventually.

That, at least, is what I think is a fairly basic yet accurate description of an intellectual. However, if there's anything intellectuals tend to hold in common, it's the presumption that they're part of a small, exclusive club; and they tend to feel put out when anyone is acclaimed as an "intellectual" who doesn't fit membership criteria much narrower than I've defined. Moreover, since intellectualism implies some degree of education, there's the tendency to define intellectuals solely by their degrees, their professions ... even the school from which they graduated. Behind the most egalitarian façade may hide a quiet, smug elitism.

One trait, however, that's definitely not held in common is the willingness to engage with different, opposing ideas. In fact, fewer intellectuals each year even trouble to pay lip service to it.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ask Tony: Did Pope Francis just teach that animals go to heaven? — UPDATED

The short answer: No. The Pope didn't say anything like that; the Pope didn't say anything remotely near that.

This is possibly the most bizarre case of papal malreportage I've seen since I started writing. Somehow, Pope Francis' simple reassertion of orthodox teaching about the future renewal of creation got transmogrified into a declaration that animals go to heaven.

Let's begin with the papal general audience of November 26, as reported by Zenit. The general audience has often been an opportunity for the reigning pontiff to catechize the people directly, as well as to make remarks on current events or give a report on what he's been doing the last week.

Francis began the homily, "In presenting the Church to the men of our time, Vatican Council II was very conscious of a fundamental truth, which must never be forgotten: the Church is not a static, still reality, an end in herself, but is continually journeying in history towards the ultimate and wonderful end which is the Kingdom of Heaven, of which the Church on earth is the seed and the beginning. ... And some questions arise spontaneously in us: when will this final passage happen? What will the new dimension be like, which the Church will enter? What, then, will happen to humanity and to the creation that surrounds it?"

The end towards which the Church journeys, "Paradise", is "[m]ore than a place, it is ... a 'state' of mind in which our most profound expectations will be fulfilled overabundantly and our being, as creatures and children of God, will reach full maturity," said the Pope. "We will finally be clothed with joy, with peace and with the love of God in a complete way, no longer with any limit, and we will be face to face with Him! It is beautiful to think this, to think of Heaven. All of us find ourselves down here, all of us. It is beautiful; it gives strength to the soul."

So far, so good. Then:
At the same time, Sacred Scripture teaches us that the fulfilment of this wonderful plan cannot but be of interest also to all that surrounds us and that issued from the thought and heart of God. The Apostle Paul affirms it explicitly, when he says that "creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). Other texts use the image of a "new heaven" and a "new earth" (cf. 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1), in the sense that the whole universe will be renewed and will be freed once and for all from every trace of evil and from death itself. What is anticipated, as fulfilment of a transformation that in reality is already in act since the Death and Resurrection of Christ, is, therefore, a new creation; not, therefore, an annihilation of the cosmos and of all that surrounds us, but a bringing of everything to its fullness of being, of truth and of beauty. This is the plan that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit has always willed to realize and is realizing. [Bold and italic fonts mine.—ASL]

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A medieval Icelandic poem

Yesterday, my friend and Catholic Stand colleague Susan Anne posted on her timeline Heyr, himna smiður (Hear, O heaven's smith). The poem was written around the beginning of the thirteenth century by Kolbeinn Tumasson, an Icelandic chieftain, supposedly as he lay dying from an injury received at the battle of Viðines; over 700 years later, the late Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson gave it a musical setting.

(By the way, in case you're wondering what those strange letters are and how they're pronounced, ð is called eth and Þþ is called thorn; both are pronounced close to the English th. Eth does have a capital; however, it isn't used in Icelandic.)

You can follow the link above to find the hymn sung by Ellen Kristánsdottir. It's an absolutely haunting melody that intentionally recalls medieval music. The video gives a literal English translation; I decided to recast the translation into a more poetic form.

Heaven’s Smith, give ear
To the poet’s prayer.
May come soft to me
Thy loving mercy.
So I call on Thee;
Thou didst create me.
Servant am I Thine;
And Lord art Thou mine.

God, I call on Thee,
That Thou wouldst heal me.
O Mild One, take heed,
For Thee we most need.
Rid, O Suns’ great King,
From Thy kind loving,
All care and distress
From the heart’s fastness.

O Mild One, guide me;
For we most need Thee
Ev’ry hour we spend
In this world of men.
Grant, O Virgin’s Son,
That Thy will be done,
All Thine aid divine
To this heart of mine.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Now the fundamentalist paranoia begins

Yes, buildimg one world religion, because we're commanded
to do so by Christ (Mt 28:19-20).
The image to your left is from a site titled Now The End Begins, a fundamentalist site pretty much dedicated to hating the Catholic Church as the "whore of Babylon".

It's no particular secret that Evangelical megapastor Rick Warren is a fan of Pope Francis. Warren recently met Pope Francis at the 2014 Vatican Conference on Marriage and Family, and spoke along with Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore at a colloquium led by the pontiff.

This wasn't bad enough. Although he's given no indication that he's about to "cross the Tiber", Warren is advocating closer ties between Catholics and Protestants.

"We have far more in common than what divides us," Warren said in a two-minute video. "When you talk about Pentecostals, charismatics, evangelicals, fundamentalists, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, on and on and on and on. Well they would all say we believe in the trinity, we believe in the Bible, we believe in the resurrection, we believe salvation is through Jesus Christ. These are the big issues."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A tour of the new St. Mark Catholic Church in Denton, Texas

Old parish location, 2800 Pennsylvania Dr., Denton. (Photo: St. Mark Catholic Church.)
The way I've heard it told, almost as soon as the doors of the church at the intersection of Pennsylvania and Teasley were opened, the parish formed a committee to build someplace else. And that was over fifteen years ago. Two-thirds of that time was spent finding suitable land — or, rather, not finding suitable land, because not available or too expensive. Another few years were spent fighting a parish priest whose tastes ran more towards Southern Baptist "big box" churches; strange to say, the parish building committee wanted something more Catholic.

Then came Fr. Baby George. (No kidding; that's his name.) And things started moving.

Father George does the smiling, happy, nice-guy bit very well; but make no mistake: if you stand still within ten feet of him and look like you've got nowhere to be just now, he's likely to give you something to do, and give it to you very abruptly. Many's the time I've seen people pass out flyers with a slightly befuddled, how-the-hell-did-I-get-here look in their eyes. Obviously, the flyers were in Fr. George's hands just three or four minutes before. That's how you get churches built.

That, and incessant fundraising. A native of India, Fr. George's accent almost thick enough to require subtitles. And like many immigrants with noticeable accents, he jokes about it. Recently, he told of a woman who approached him and said, "Father, people tell me two things about you. They say they can't understand you, and that you're always asking for money. What I want to know is, if they can't understand you, how do they know you're asking for money?"

When Fr. George arrived, just shortly before my brother Bob's death in September 2011, the effort was pretty much at a standstill. On December 7, the Second Sunday in Advent — 3½ years later, and only about six months after groundbreaking — Bp. Michael Olson will formally dedicate the new parish plant.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Nobody's dreaming of a Caucasian Christmas

I keep telling myself that I'm swearing off outrage porn forever, that I have no further desire to read about minor gaffes and goofs that the political commentariat has decided to inflate into major issues. Then comes an example of something Fr. Erik Richtsteig is pleased to call "STOOPID VISIBLE FROM SPACE"; and not only do I read, I begin foaming at the mouth.

What can I say? I'm human, and therefore prone to sin. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Besides, sometimes it's fun. Because postmodern society occasionally hands you polished, hand-cut gems of 99.9% pure dumbth, and it's almost criminal to let them pass by unremarked. Moreover, social media gives people ample time and opportunity to let their least-considered thoughts come out of their heads; I should know, having set a few free myself. The down side is that Twitter, Facebook, and so forth allow stupid to find stupid and become mutually reinforcing.

For instance, you would think a major C/W star singing a somewhat mawkish but otherwise harmless Irving Berlin tearjerker about holiday snow would be nothing to get fussed about. But somehow, some people managed to find Darius Rucker singing "White Christmas" at the Rockefeller Square tree-lighting ceremony to be ironic, if not a calculated insult to black Americans everywhere:

"Darius Rucker/Hootie just sang 'I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas' at the tree-lighting ceremony. Because America is f**king with us all[.]" [Yes, sentimental ditties are part of a giant conspiracy to torment us and deprive us of our freedoms.]
"Darius Rucker singing White Christmas unironically[.]" [It might be ironic, if Rucker hates snow.]
"Of course they have Darius Rucker singing 'Dreaming of a white Christmas', f**king white people." [And what would you expect him to sing at a tree-lighting ceremony — "F**k da Police"?]
"Somehow, I just watched Darius Rucker sing 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas' on national television mere feet away from the protest[.]" [I might be wrong, but the protesters didn't seem to find it especially provocative. Stupid protesters.]

It seems there aren't enough examples of obvious racism to get cheesed off about; some people have to "decode" ostensibly innocent books, movies, and songs so they can fulminate against their "racist" subtexts. It's like trying to uncover government secrets from the ingredient list on a box of Rice Krispies; at the extremes, it almost goes beyond the fatuous to verge on the clinically paranoid.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Catholic Stand: Time For Catholics to Leave the Democrats?

Now that the election is over, the post-game analysis and forecasts for the coming sessions will occupy the media for at least the next week or so. It’s also a good time to consider whether it makes sense for faithful Catholics to remain tied to the Democrat Party.

Catholicism is the largest single religious communion in the United States; we number between one-fifth and one-quarter of the population. Being so large a bloc, if we voted as consistently as do black Protestants, we would have tremendous influence on public policy: we would not necessarily be able to impose what laws we wish, but we would be in a far better position to persuade the rest of the nation to go along.

However, the political amity that my colleague, Dr. Denise Hunnell, so well described in “Elections and Eternity”, probably could be best described as the remnants of a temporary unity, brought on by the shared experiences of our political leaders in the Great Depression and World War II. The tension of subtly shifting values was manifesting itself even in the 1950s, and it finally erupted in the riots, protests, and violence that scarred the “Vietnam era”. Today, the “conservative Democrat” and the “liberal Republican” are mere memories, even oxymorons.

The explosion, when it came, functionally split the Church in America in half. The split was further polarized when Ven. Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae; so certain had so many people been that the teaching on contraception would be changed that, when the pope forcefully restated it, the shocked and disillusioned abandoned the pews; weekly Mass attendance fell below 50% almost overnight. Even today, the “cultural” or “Christmas and Easter” Catholics are more likely to be liberal in their politics, while those who are highly active in their parishes are more likely to be conservative.

Read more in Catholic Stand!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A coldly calculated soft genocide—UPDATED

Nairobi, Kenya
Kitui, Kenya is about 83.1 miles (133.9 km) east of the capital city of Kenya. The following extract is from the website of the Catholic Diocese of Kitui:

Stand by the truth

Dear Christians, fellow Kenyans and all people of good will, We, the Catholic Bishops in Kenya, meeting at St. Mary’s Pastoral Center in Nakuru, greet you in the name of Our Lord.
During our weeklong Ordinary Plenary Assembly, we have taken stock and reflected deeply on the state of the nation and have identified the following issues of great concern:

  1. 2.   The Tetanus Vaccine
Dear Kenyans, due to the direction the debate on the ongoing Tetanus Vaccine campaign in Kenya is taking, We, the Catholic Bishops, in fulfilling our prophetic role, wish to restate our position as follows:
  1. The Catholic Church is NOT opposed to regular vaccines administered in Kenya, both in our own Church health facilities and in public health institutions.
  2. However, during the second phase of the Tetanus vaccination campaign in March 2014, that is sponsored by WHO/UNICEF, the Catholic Church questioned the secrecy of the exercise. We raised questions on whether the tetanus vaccine was linked to a population control program that has been reported in some countries, where a similar vaccine was laced with Beta-HCG hormone which causes infertility and multiple miscarriages in women.
  3. On March 26, 2014 and October 13, 2014, we met the Cabinet Secretary in-charge of health and the Director of Medical Services among others and rasied our concerns about the Vaccine and agreed to jointly test the vaccine. However the ministry did not cooperate and the joint tests were not done.
  4. The Catholic Church struggled and acquired several vials of the vaccine, which we sent to Four unrelated Government and private laboratories in Kenya and abroad.
  5. We want to announce here, that all the tests showed that the vaccine used in Kenya in March and October 2014 was indeed laced with the Beta-HCG hormone.
  6. On 13th of October 2014, the Catholic Church gave copies of the results to the cabinet secretary and the Director of Medical Services. The same was emailed to the Director of Medical Services on October 17, 2014.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Not a news flash: Catholic Church still doesn't have female priests

Angela Wilson: perhaps a priest, but not a Catholic priest.
Note to the London Telegraph: Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger is not a Catholic priest. In fact, since she wasn't ordained in any church which has female priests, she isn't a priest. If she'd been ordained in the ELCA or the Church of England, I'd call her a priest. She wasn't; therefore, she isn't. She's not a bishop, either.

Self-identification doesn't turn fantasy into fact, no matter what you do to support the illusion. I can call myself an elephant or the King of Ireland for the rest of my life; I could spend those days eating peanuts and communicating in nasal trumpets, or wearing a crown and issuing edicts; the rest of the human world would still be under no obligation to indulge my mishegoss. No amount of foot-stamping insistence would change that. No news story full of gushing adulation for my foot-stamping insistence would change that.

It wouldn't matter if a validly and licitly consecrated bishop in good standing performed the rite of ordination perfectly according to the rubrics: "... the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women ...." (Pope St. John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis [1994], 4) This wasn't just the late pontiff's whim; it's been a fact of the Church since the beginning (vide CDF responsum ad propositum dubium, 1995). If the Church doesn't have the authority, then neither do the individual bishops. Nor can individual bishops obtain such authority by appeal to Scripture or the Holy Spirit; that's a piece of Protestant legerdemain, not Catholic teaching.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lena Dunham's rubber reality check—UPDATED

Photo: Dianna E. Anderson.
It used to be a "tell-all autobiography" told everything about people other than the author; the author himself would confess to a couple of juicy sins here and there, and would immediately return to dishing the dirt on other Famous Figures. But even the most jaded, libertine celebrity kept some secrets, understanding that there would be some things that would alienate the fans.

The point of an autobiography, after all, is to brag on yourself. The subtitle of every autobiography ought to read "How I Made It to the Top, and All My Glorious Achievements". In the case of the tell-all, it should read "How I Made It to the Top, All My Glorious Achievements, and Some of the Wild Bacchanalian Adventures I Had Along the Way".

I haven't forgotten the subdivision of autobiography that comes closer to the Confessions of St. Augustine: "How I Got to Be So F**ked Up, and How I'm Recovering". Now, in this kind of book, you can blame your mother, your father, yourself, the Church, the State, society, blah blah blah; the point is, though, you recognize that being f**ked up isn't a good thing.

Unless you're Lena Dunham. Then you confess to doing all sorts of things to and with your baby sister that are creepy even for a seven-year-old, compare your behavior to that of a sexual predator, then get upset — in her own words, go into a "rage spiral" — when people accuse you of having molested said baby sister. This isn't just classic narcissist behavior; this is a reality check that failed.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

TIME admits MSM “has nearly no understanding” of Catholic Church

© 2014 Gabriel Bouys, AFP/Getty Images
I’ve been saying it for a few years now. Terry Mattingly and Mollie Hemingway at have been saying it for even longer. Hell, at least three times a week you can go to your favorite aggregator and pick up some Catholic blog where the writer is saying it yet again. Now, finally, Elizabeth Dias at TIME has said what we’ve all been saying over and over again for years: “the mainstream media has nearly no understanding of the Church.”

 The proximate cause of Dias’ ire is the wild ballyhoo with which the media has greeted Pope Francis’ declaration Monday at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, “When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so. He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment. ... The Big Bang, which today stands at the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of a divine creator but demands it. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.

“Anyone who knows anything about Catholic history knows that a statement like this is nothing new,” Dias huffs. “Pope Pius XII wrote [the] encyclical Humani Generis in 1950 affirming that there was no conflict between evolution and Catholic faith. Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that, stressing that evolution was more than a hypothesis, in 1996. Pope Benedict XVI hosted a conference on the nuances of creation and evolution in 2006. There’s an official book on the event for anyone who wants to know more. Pope Francis’ comments Monday even came as he was unveiling a new statue of Pope Benedict XVI, honoring him for his leadership.”

The media went gaga over the Pope’s statement precisely because they don’t know anything about Church history. In fact, where religion is concerned, most journalists seemingly prefer to consult their own private well of pseudo-knowledge than to find reliable and authoritative sources.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ask Tony: What's the big deal about the Synod on the Family?

Answer: There is no clear objective answer; so much depends on one’s ideological or ecclesial perspective.

First of all, let’s discuss what a synod is. Synod is a general word for an ecclesial gathering, and can range in size from a few local priests to as many bishops from around the world as can fit in St. Peter’s. Synod and council, according to the old Catholic Encyclopedia, are synonymous terms. Only when the bishops of the world are gathered under the presidency of the pope is it deemed an ecumenical or general council capable of legislating for the entire Church.

If we leave our description here, it would seem that this Synod is simply a “talk shop”, a manufactured event in which the participants can discuss change without actually changing anything ... much like a session of Congress. It’s not quite that simple or cynical an exercise.

We in the West — especially in America — tend to assume that our concerns are shared by the whole world, or at least that they ought to be, and that the only people who matter are the people who think just like we do. This isn’t the case; what may sound like a splendid idea among American or German Catholics may not fly with Catholics in Estonia, or Burkina Faso, or South Korea.

For as much as has been made of Francis being the first pope from a Third World country, culturally he is in many respects as much a European as were his predecessors. Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has been carrying the standard for divorced and remarried Catholics, is a German of the Germans. The synod allows the pope and Cdl. Kasper to float trial balloons in an arena where the response is more international, and isn’t shaped by the Western media.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to Get Men to Fix Things Around the House

So my cousin's daugher (my first cousin once removed), April, posted this picture on her timeline, with a little laughing rant about how we should do things right away, without talking about it, "unless you enjoy hearing us nag you".

Well, on the positive side, it helps to be reminded every now and again.

One thing I've noticed over the years, though, is that the things that stay longest on the "honey-do" list are tasks that will 1) take plenty of time (especially if you don't do that kind of repair work for a living), 2) require plenty of physically strenuous effort, and 3) necessitate a minimum of two (2) trips to Lowe's or Home Depot — the second to get the things you didn't know you needed or forgot to get the first time around.

In other words, it's not gonna be something the man can do when he gets home from work, or when he's "got a free minute" while he's doing something else. They won't be things he can multitask; you can't talk to the COO about the rollout of the latest cybersecurity package while you're struggling a water heater out of a space not big enough for a coat closet ... even with Bluetooth.

And, in most cases, it'll be something that's mostly cosmetic, or something you can do without for now, so it'll be lower on the priority list. At least, lower on his priority list; sometimes, it'll be higher on her list because she can't stand to have a kitchen that looks like it was modeled after an A&E Channel reality series (the kind that makes you moan, "YECCH! How can people live like that!?"). And will that unfinished pergola look good when it's half new and half weather-stained?

Monday, September 29, 2014

9 Best Things About Being Filipino-American

Number 10 is that Filipino-Americans are great friends to have. (Shout-out to my buddy, fellow Knight of Columbus Ray Huie!)

I've mentioned before in this blog that I lived for over a year in the Philippines when I was a child, back in 1969-1970. Clark AFB, in Angeles City (about 40 miles northwest of Manila on the big isle of Luzon), was my dad's last station before he retired from the Air Force. I learned the pole dance; and I grew to love chicken adobo, a very simple dish the recipe of which includes quite a bit of — yes, you guessed it — vinegar. By the way, vinegar IS an all-natural, effective household cleaning solvent.

Although there are quite a few Buddhists, Moslems, and  Protestants in the Philippines, it's a predominantly Catholic country, a legacy of Spanish domination. And yet, while many Filipinos have at least a Spanish first name, only a handful of people still speak Español, and only a little over a million people speak Chavacanos, a collective name for six creole languages that use Spanish words in Austronesian grammars. So I hesitate to call the Philippines a Latin or Hispanic country; it's more an Asian/Polynesian hodgepodge with a Latin brio.

It's been over forty years since I left. I'd love to go back.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Catholic Stand: Eugenics and the "Hitler Card"

The Fallacy Files website, which is devoted to exploring and exploding errors in reasoning, gives the following forms for “the Hitler card” fallacy (also called the “ad Hitlerum” or “ad Naziarum”):
Adolf Hitler accepted idea I.Therefore, I must be wrong. The Nazis accepted idea I.Therefore, I must be wrong.
Hitler was in favor of euthanasia.Therefore, euthanasia is wrong. The Nazis favored eugenics.Therefore, eugenics is wrong.
Hitler was a vegetarian.Therefore, vegetarianism is wrong. The Nazis were conservationists.Therefore, conservationism is wrong.
The author of the blog puts the fallacy as a sub-category of the “guilt by association” fallacy, and explains, “Some instances of the Hitler card are factually incorrect, or even ludicrous, in ascribing ideas to Hitler or other Nazis that they did not hold. However, from a logical point of view, even if Hitler or other Nazis did accept an idea, this historical fact alone is insufficient to discredit it.”

Certainly, comparisons to Adolf Hitler and the crimes of the Third Reich get over-played. For example, I recently saw a meme in Facebook which compared side-by-side quotes from Hitler and Hillary Clinton on the need for an authoritative government. However, you can pull similar quotes from many people whose goodness was unquestionable, or who were at least no better or worse than the rest of us. If you doubt me, check out Romans 13:1-7 — if that isn’t giving a full-throated approval of a strong governor, nothing is.

If all contentions, which invoked Hitler/the Nazis, argued to the wrongness of a specific position from the support of Hitler/the Nazis for that position, I would have no qualms with this taxonomy. The “broken clock” maxim applies as much to psychopathic dictators as it does to anyone else. However, in the case of eugenics and euthanasia, our logician is committing a fallacy — specifically, a straw man.

Read the rest at Catholic Stand!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Some thoughts concerning Ferguson

The Police State

From the way people, especially libertarians, are reacting, you'd think MRAPs and cops in body armor and BDUs appeared practically overnight. The emerging meta-narrative is, "One day we woke up and discovered that cops have become paramilitary soldiers."

First, if you really, really think about it, you'll realize that cops have been paramilitary forces for decades. Police academy training is a lot like boot camp, and rookies are trained to march and salute just as is every member of the armed services, including the Coast Guard. They're even part of defense planning in case of an invasion or civil insurrection. Who do you think they modeled police uniforms on — gas station attendants? Bellhops?

(Do you remember the TV series SWAT? The only difference between their uniforms and the BDUs I wore at MCRD San Diego is that they were dyed black. And that was the uniform for the Special Weapons and Tactics teams for many if not most cities that had such a unit; now many have night-pattern camouflage.)

Who or what is driving the meta-narrative?

Kevin D. Williamson tells us, "The different uniforms are meant for different kinds of policing: The traditional blue coat is for the policeman who walks a beat [has anyone seen a cop "walk a beat" in the last fifty years?], and the ridiculous stormtrooper suits are for those who roll through in an MRAP." Williamson kinda-sorta recognizes that there are different kinds of policing, but is too busy snarking to ask if there might be a valid social purpose behind the second type of policing.

We've all seen the picture of the cop on top of the MRAP, wearing grassland camouflage (really? In an urban environment?) and body armor, looking through the scope of his  rifle. That isn't what Ferguson police normally wear, or how they normally arm themselves, because rioting isn't a "normal" state, nor do cops take "normal risks" when people riot. — You do know there was looting and burning going on, don'cha?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The end of the Fisher More College fight

Five and a half months ago, I spent the first day of what would eventually become a layoff following, and then writing about, a controversy in my home diocese of Fort Worth. It seems oddly fitting that, on the night before I start my new job, I can provide a coda to that story.

On February 24, the newly-installed bishop of Fort Worth, Most Rev. Michael F. Olson, sent a letter to Michael King, President of Fisher More College, a letter announcing that celebrations of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form had been suspended. A few days later, Rorate Caeli broke the story, with headlines screaming that the letter gave no reason, and wondering if the ban were "an effect of [the] new Pontificate". Rorate Caeli has been one of the prime vendors of the "Pope Francis Hates the Latin Mass" trope, despite the pontiff's stated refusal to cancel or strongly limit Summorum Pontificum.

Bp. Olson's Statement, 8 Aug 2014.
Well, there turned out to be a lot more to the story than just a new bishop's arbitrary decision to stomp on a poor, innocent college.

For one thing, the school was losing enrollments. For another, the leadership had approved decisions that had financially crippled the school, wiping out its endowment as well as the proceeds from the sale of its grounds. There was also some question about whether a suspended priest had performed a Mass — and whether the Masses were being said by priests from the schismatic Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Furthermore, there were issues with the leadership of Pres. King himself, that his style of leadership and extreme "resistance" traditionalism had alienated staff members and student parents.

However, by the time this came out, most rad-trad blogs and sympathizers had accepted Rorate Caeli's version of the matter. It took a couple of days before most sites grudgingly accepted that the suspension wasn't causeless or out of the blue; Steve Skojec of Rorate still insisted that Bp. Olson was actively repressing the TLM, while Simon J. Dodd at Motu Proprio denied Bp. Olson's right to suspend the Latin Mass ... perhaps thinking that the new bishop didn't already have canon lawyers on his staff. Eventually, though, everything settled down.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

FOXNews' hit piece on Cardinal Dolan—UPDATED

Being the paladin and protector of all things conservative, FOXNews published on Tuesday a distorted, slanderous screed that perpetuates the "Pope Francis Hates the Traditional Mass" trope. The object of the attack: Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Although I'm on record as supporting the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (i.e., the Tridentine Latin Mass, or Vedus Ordo), I've criticized the segment of traditionalists that aren't happy unless they feel persecuted. In reply other traditionalists have scolded me as if I were a badly-educated Episcopal convert with chrism still on my forehead and heresy in my heart — I'm part of the "neo-Catholic Brute Squad". (One woman claimed I've “politely defecated” [?] on the traditionalist movement.) And half of them, along the way, unconsciously prove the points I make with their own criticism.

So here's my warning: I'm going to criticize that same segment again. As Bill Mauldin once said, "I make a certain kind of shoe; if someone wants to put it on and loudly proclaim it fits, that's their lookout" ... but don't assume it fits your family and friends as well. If it doesn't fit, it wasn't made for you. However, if it really doesn't fit, don't go describing it in terms that will make others think you're merely uncomfortable with how well it conforms to your foot.

Having said that ....

Has Cdl. Dolan gone "liberal"?

As is depressingly common throughout the media, including the Catholic blogosphere, Shaw conflates political conservativism with doctrinal orthodoxy. As is standard practice among the radical traditionalists I criticize, he also conflates traditionalism with orthodoxy as well. (Dr. Taylor Marshall, a traditionalist himself, refers to this as "gnostic ecclesiology".) So anyone who doesn't correctly pronounce any one of a dozen or more shibboleths is a goldang Neo-Catholic librul (as is anyone who dares criticize such faithful but lonely Real Catholics™). Example:

In New York, under the leadership of the once moderately conservative Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archdiocese was a place that allowed the traditional mass to be said without hassle after Summorum Pontificum.
However, since Pope Francis arrived, Dolan — commonly referred to as "America's Pope" [mostly by idiots who don't know anything about the Catholic Church except what they write] — has shifted to the left, so much so that even the New York Times has noticed. Dolan has become a spokesman for Francis' view of capitalism, has softened on gay rights, been an even stauncher advocate of amnesty for illegal immigrants and incredibly — criticized ObamaCare because it didn't provide free health care to illegals, putting him to the left of Nancy Pelosi [because, y'know, Real Catholics™ don't support free health care for anyone].

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Robin Williams (1951 – 2014)

Photo credit: Alyssa Pierdomenic/Reuters.
"Comic genius" is such a pale, shopworn expression ... the exemplar of cliché. They use it of Groucho Marx; they sometimes use it of Adam Sandler, too. Overworn to the verge of meaninglessness, an empty compliment of the kind in which Hollywierd specializes.
And yet, how else do you describe Robin Williams, a man whose mind worked so furiously yet on a level few comedians can reach? How else can you describe a comedian whose improvisational talent was so reliable that, on his first television series, the writers would leave whole sections of dialogue unscripted, noting only, "MORK CAN GO OFF HERE"? A talent so seemingly free yet so disciplined he could embue it with dramatic portent, or ruthlessly restrain it, for his best cinematic performances?

It's only in retrospect that anyone could say Williams' suicide was "not surprising". Certainly he left enough bread crumbs in his trail, especially the drug and alcohol addictions which plagued his life. The manic pacing of his routines and his delivery always had this desperate edge to it, as though his life depended on getting a laugh out of every line. (He must have had flops in his early stand-up career; his first album includes a sketch that begins, "Come inside my mind and see what happens when a comedian bites the big one.")

Nevertheless, his public face was so frantically alive, so relentlessly funny, and often so touchingly warm, that you were distracted; you never asked if his demons had been put to rest.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Catholic Stand: The Identity of a Woman

As if identity politics weren’t bad enough, it’s taken a turn for the bizarre. In New Yorker magazine, Michelle Goldberg tells us of an ongoing struggle between radical feminists and the “transgendered” — a term that includes not only pre-op and post-op transsexuals, but also men and women who for their own reasons wish to identify as the other or neither sex. The problem for radical feminists is that men who claim to be women, even those who undergo “gender-reassignment surgery”, aren’t really women.

Not because the transgendered don’t have the right parts, or because the parts have been artificially implanted; oh no, that would simply be common sense, and who wants that? (“Common sense,” Stuart Chase once sniffed, “is that which tells us the earth is flat.”) No, the radical feminist objection is that the transgendered haven’t been raised with the suffering and victimization inherent in a paternalist society, and that transgenderism represents a kind of male-imperialist encroachment on uniquely female territory.

To make matters worse (?), radical feminists seem to be losing the fight. The universities and PACs, which once hosted — or at least suffered — their message of male oppression, are now starting to push back wherever that message conflicts with transgender rights. Says Rachel Ivey, “If I were to say in a typical women’s-studies class today, ‘Female people are oppressed on the basis of reproduction,’ I would get called out.” Other students, she adds, would ask, “What about women who are male?”

Women who are male. In four words, the surreality of the transgender Weltanschauung is encapsulated. This is the apotheosis of strong social constructionism, which “proposes that the notions of ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ are themselves social constructs, so that the question of whether anything is ‘real’ is just a matter of social convention. … It reasons that all reality is thought, all thought is in a language, all language is a convention, and that all convention is socially acceptable[;] hence, it uses language to socially program.”

Read more at Catholic Stand!

Friday, August 8, 2014

The death of "freethinking"

If there are Christians who don't get Christianity, there are also scientists who don't get free will. Oddly enough, some call themselves "freethinkers".

From "How Would Humans Know If They Lived in a Multiverse?" by Tanya Lewis at LiveScience:

... [I]f a multiverse does exist, it could have some wacky consequences. A world with an infinite number of universes would virtually ensure that conditions in one universe would repeat in another, [Columbia theoretical physicist Brian] Greene said. In other words, there would almost certainly be another version of you reading this article, written by another version of me.
In such a multiverse, you might decide to read the article in one universe and not read it in another. What would that mean for the notion of free will?
Perhaps it's a moot point. "I think free will bit the dust long before multiverse theory," Greene said.
Scientific equations describe the particles that make up all matter, including humans, Greene said. While more-complex structures arise that have no relevance to a single particle — temperature, for instance — everything still has a "fundamental microphysical underpinning," he said.
That means free will is merely a human sensation, not actual control.
"When I move my teapot, that sensation is absolutely real," Green said. "But that's all it is. It's a sensation."
Maybe in another universe, there's a Brian Greene that believes in free will.

And thus ends "freethinking", in a slavery more thorough, complete and unremitting than any brainwashing: material causality.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Holding on to faith in an imperfect Church

I had a choice yesterday: I could post about the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, or about the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima — both watershed moments in world history. I choose instead to write about a friend of mine and her family, who are going through their own crucible of faith.

I'm reluctant to give any details, or even any hints, that would identify this friend. While the details will become public access soon enough, what little she has revealed to her friends and co-workers in Christ was given in privacy; until it does become public knowledge, I must for her trust's sake observe some discretion. All I will say is that what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI described as "the smoke of Satan" has not only touched their lives but shattered them, putting their faith on the precipice.

Hilaire Belloc is said to have remarked to a friend once, "The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine — but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight." And at the beginning of one of his books, the late Fr. Andrew M. Greeley quoted an "Elderly Irish Monsignor" as saying, "Faith, the Barque of Peter must be divine, else we boys would have kicked the bottom out long ago."

It takes no citation of Scripture to realize that an institution filled with humans will contain and comprise all the folly and evil that humans are capable of committing; all it takes is simple observation of human nature. But if it helps, Our Lord even told us it would be so, with the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23).

Saturday, August 2, 2014

From the "Christians who don't get Christianity" department

"I was hungry, and you made me take responsibility for my own poverty." ... Nope, didn't find that in Scripture. Oh, wait ... here it is, in the Gospel according to Rand Paul.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cooking katsudon for the first time

When I was a very little lad, three going on four, my father, who was in the Air Force at the time, received orders transferring him to Tachikawa Air Base, located about 32 km (17 mi) west of downtown Tokyo (now a civil airfield). Since Dad would be stationed in the Far East for three years (half in Japan and half at Clark AFB, which was on the big Philippine island of Luzon near Angeles City), he was given permission to bring his family with him.

Because I was so young, my impressions of Japan are mere flickers of half-seen images: a country full of bright colors. A fish flag waving in the breeze in front of a farm house as we drive past, and my father saying, "That means the mother just gave birth to a son." Sitting in the living room at the house of our maid/babysitter, whom we called "Mama-san", watching kabuki on the television set. (I'm told I could speak the language, but couldn't translate it.) Standing in the middle of the cul-de-sac where our house was, listening to the base speakers broadcast Kimi ga yo, and then "The Star-Spangled Banner", at sunset. Sitting in the living room as Dad takes pictures of all of us in traditional Japanese clothes ... even my little brother, who was born over there.


It's not to stretch a simile too far to say that donburi restaurants in Japan are like our Denny's and Cracker Barrels, in that donburi is a "comfort food": you grow up eating it, so that's what you crave when you want to reconnect with yourself, or when you don't want/can't afford something fancy. A donburi consists of meat and/or vegetable simmered in a fish stock-based liquid and served over rice. There are many variants; katsudon is one of the most popular. According to Eunice Kwon at, Katsu means "to win"; many athletes will eat a bowl before a big game, and many students will have one before an important test.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pickles, refills and American weirdness

Away far away, in a land inhabitants deliberately call "Aus" (because it sounds like "Oz"), some wit has had the chutzpah to call America a weird place. And not for any political reason; no, if the unidentified Aussie had gone into political weirdness, I might or might not have agreed with him/her fully. No, let's see why this person thinks America is weirder than the Land Down Under:

1: Free Soft Drink Refills
How is it in America, you get a biggie drink and you suddenly realize you can refill it as much as you want? Why don't you just order a small drink and save money?

I'm tempted to give the writer this one. However, speaking from my QSR experience, most people leave with their drinks. Once you step out that door, refills ain't free, so tank up.

2: Tipping For Service
There's no tipping in Australia! The person gets paid to do their job. You just don't have waitresses that become salespeople to attain a big tip.

You mean they actually pay servers a living wage down there in Aus? Up here, many people — we call them "conservatives", though some call themselves "libertarians" — believe that anyone over 22 who ends up in a crappy job for any reason deserves to get crappy pay. Does that make it harder for you to climb up out of the gutter? Suck it up, buttercup; that's not your benevolent employers' problem. Other people, realizing that that rationale is a load of dingo's kidneys, eventually began to tip good service as a way to offset employers' stinginess. The employers found that the servers could make way more than minimum wage, so they got the right from the government to pay them 1/3rd less than other crappily-paid workers. Remember that the next time you come up here, and give your server a 20% tip ... and the management a piece of your mind.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A really cool message

I was going to write a post about a recent study (mis)reported in HuffPo, about how religious education affects the ability of 5- and 6-year-olds to make distinctions between the possible and the impossible. In fact, I had several paragraphs written; it was really quite thoughtful, if I do say so myself.

And ... then I ran into a technical glitch with Blogger such that, to get out of it, I ended up losing everything I'd written.

So I started over again. And then I checked the clock — well past midnight. So I took a quick trip through Facebook to see if anybody needed a response from me before I called it a night. And among the new items was a cheer from my friend, Catholic Stand editor-in-chief Dr. Stacy Trasancos:

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15:4-7)

Monday, July 21, 2014

"The peaceful majority were irrelevant"

You may see this sign crop up on Facebook statuses, Gravatars and other places. You may already know what it is, and why people are adopting it. If you don't, here's why:

This symbol is the Arabic letter Nun or Noon (ن), phonetically equivalent to the Latin N (oddly enough, the Hebrew equivalent, נ, is also called Nun and pronounced Noon). As such, it's the first letter in the word نصارى Nasara — "Nazarenes", or Christians. Wherever the terrorist soldiers of ISIS spray-paint this letter in the ravaged, outraged city of Mosul, there the occupants are targeted for plunder, rape and death.

And so one of the oldest Christian communities in the world dies ... with nary a protest or a condemnation from what people still call The Free World. Qui tacet consentire videtur: "He who is silent is seen to consent."

Here in the United States, a few Christians have been ... discommoded, more or less. We've suffered a few incursions into "free exercise" territory in the name of the "establishment clause" or of other social causes du jour. Some may be permanent, while others will prove to be more or less temporary.

However, the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom has proven to be still fairly robust, as was shown when a Senate measure to override Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was defeated. As tough as it may get for some Christians in the next couple of years, we're not facing public decapitation and unhindered looting of our material goods just yet.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A big announcement

Thursday, July 17, the editor-in-chief of Catholic Stand, Dr. Stacy Trasancos, did me the incredible honor of asking me to join the leadership as a Managing Editor. My CS editor, Diane McKelva, also asked me to accept the position.

Although I did accept the position, it wasn't without stepping back for a few minutes to think about it. Yes, "Managing Editor" is a great honor (and it looks pretty good on a résumé, too), but it's also a big responsibility, although in this context it promises to be not too time-consuming.

You see, a good editor makes sure the writer conforms to the style guidelines of the journal without overwhelming the voice of the writer with his/her edits. S/He checks spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation, insuring that nothing in the post distracts the reader from following the thoughts of the writer. S/He also does what s/he can to boost the visibility of the post, adding SEOs — search-engine optimizers, such as tags, subheads and links — as needed so that Google, Bing and Yahoo! can find it more readily.

At the end of the day, the writer is the one who ultimately wows the crowd. The editor simply makes sure that the writer's costume is clean and that his fly is zipped. And that he gets proper billing on the marquee.

In any event, I did accept, conscious that I would be doing for others as Diane, and Stacy before her, have done for me. And I publicly thank both of them, and Tito Edwards the founder of CS, for showing so much confidence in me as a Catholic writer. And may I remember: Non mihi, Domine, sed Nomine Tuo da gloriam!

Cor Sacrum Iesu, miserere me.
Sancte Hieronyme, ora pro me.
Sancte Joanne Paule, ora pro me.
Omnes Angelos et Sanctos, ora pro me.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Breakfast, Lunch and Hugs

It's for beautiful people like Tim Harris that I'm pro-life.

An idea for a new hashtag campaign — FREE!

One of the reasons I write blogs is because I don't have the energy or talent required to run a political action committee. In fact, I have a sort of allergy to PACs; when I get too close to bulls**t, my skin breaks out in a rash.

All things taken together, I suppose PACs are better to have than not. It's just another way we exercise our participation in the public square. And I suppose what I really object to — bulls**t by meme — isn't produced by real PACs but by individual liars with access to MemeGenerator or Cheezburger, a copy of Photoshop, and too much anger to be explained by social injustice alone.

I think what really drove me over the edge was a meme that claimed there are 241 (or some such) bills in various state legislatures being considered to "regulate women's bodies". Now, because it didn't quote a source for this number — memes rarely do quote sources — I had no way to check out what hat the creator pulled the number out of. But I'll bet you dinner at Denny's that, of the two-hundred-odd bills, none of them even implicitly mentions women's bodies, that the only reason any of them are considered to "regulate" women's bodies is because they deal with some aspect of abortion or contraception.

Almost within seconds of that item flashing by my Facebook status, Tom McDonald of God and the Machine posted the meme to your right. It was his own mea culpa, his confession to participating in the "dumbing-down of humanity". Now, Tom is one of the most incisive and lucid writers in the Catholic blogosphere, with a high degree of sensitivity to bulls**t. If he can get caught with his pants down, what hope does Your Humble Blogger have?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ask Tony: Can non-Catholics be saved?

A reader wrote the following question to my fellow Catholic Stand writer, screenwriter John Darrouzet:

I am confused on the Catholic stand on salvation. Some Catholic weblogs say a non-Catholic can not be saved unless they are ignorant of the Catholic church and are sincerely seeking God. Other blogs say the church never believed that non-Catholics cannot be saved. Help — what is the Catholic stand on salvation?


Now that that's out of the way ....

If you read the question right, you'll see that the two sets of blogs actually say close to the same thing. While one emphasizes the negative, the other accentuates the positive (and don't blame me for the Bing Crosby earworm). Yes, non-Catholics can be saved, and the Church has always taught so; yet she has also taught, extra Ecclesia nulla salus (outside the Church none are saved). This would seem to be a contradiction on the face of it. The resolution is that the Church is the ordinary means of salvation, while the saving of non-Catholics is an extraordinary action on God's part not to be presumed upon.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pelosi gives us a stupid to cherish

Strong emotional reactions fade over time, even outrage. And as they fade, politicians' attempts to maintain them for their political advantage become more strained until eventually they say, or sometimes do, something laughably stupid. This is usually a pretty reliable sign that the reaction has run its course, and the political and economic concerns of everyday citizens have mostly returned to where they were prior to the event.

Life as we know it didn't end with Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. So we now return you to your regularly scheduled existential angst.

Except that every now and again, in the painful effort to keep the rage at white heat, a politician will let fly a very special kind of stupid. A stupid that, if you could take a picture of it, would be a "Kodak moment". We actually had a couple this last week; dishonorable mention goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who demoted Associate Justice Clarence Thomas from token black man to just another white man on the Supreme Court bench. There may be African-Americans who think Thomas is an "Oreo", but that's not for any white man to say ... not out loud, not in front of cameras, and especially not a Senate Majority Leader. (Note: I have a lot of respect for AJ Thomas; he's much more than AJ Antonin Scalia's "mini-me".)

Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is no stranger to stupid under pressure. The brightest gem in her personal collection is, "We have to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it." (Mediaite has tried to defend the statement as taken relentlessly out of context. But the fact of the matter is, PPACA was and still is available on the Net in its entirety for anyone to read "away from the fog of controversy", so anyone could have discovered how awesome it wasn't before it was passed into law. Sorry, no cigar.) She's also let fly the occasional puzzler in the effort to reconcile her public stances on certain topics with her self-identified Catholicism, though none of "Pope Pelosi's" pronouncements on these matters have been endearingly dumb.