Showing posts from 2006

Aeneas in Darfur

The Romans are making forays into Sudan, working valiantly to cure all pain and suffering there. To see what I mean, go to The Catholicist Nation for my latest webzine piece. It's an elaboration of a thread I'd been writing about in my blog, so if you read Wonderful Matters it should look familiar.

The Kingdom That's There

Just want to direct you to a magnificent devotional, one that I read this morning during my quiet time. I don't want to say anything about it. You've just got to read it. It's at Radio Bible Class . I write frequently of horrific things all around to draw attention to the wonderful matters involved. This may seem wildly contradictory, but the reason I do this is because in the face of the most abject evil, the most wretched body of death-- there is a Body of Life. He is Jesus Christ. And He has a place for you if you'd just let Him be your shepherd. Anyway, again, check out the devotional. Your heart will definitely get a tad wrenched. Because, yeah, It is possible to see at Christmas...

Talking or Knowing, What's Best?

Just a quick heads-up about an editorial in the Los Angeles Times today, a piece by Martin Kaplan titled "National Debate--Who Needs It?" It's worth a read, just because he puts a mortal wound in the entire postmodern hegemony by firmly declaring that he's tired of talking. He just wants to know what's true . Ironically, if postmodernism is true, then talking, really, is pointless. We should all be sitting alone in our interpretive community corners sucking our thumbs comfortable with our stories . If I can't find out anything that's authentically, objectively true by speaking with someone, then what's the point? So then talking is invaluable . The key question Kaplan is concerned about is, what precisely is the truth that we should know from our discourse? Yes, it is true, talking just to talk is narcissism. Oh I'm not dismissing the truth of interactive engagement for the sake of vibrant relationship, but that itself is a truth . Okay, I've

Further Recommendations from The Aeneid

In yesterday's Los Angeles Times there appeared a full-page ad about saving Darfur, the war ravaged region of Sudan that is truly a humanitarian catastrophe. The ad had a photograph of a shirtless male survivor of the genocidal violence, the scars on his chest from shrapnel-filled bomb injuries quite plain to see. Wow, sounds like a call for the one person who heals, who saves, who loves to come into this situation. Sounds like the ad called for Jesus. Nah. 'Course not. It called for the guy people think is better, stronger, higher. They called for President Bush. "Tell President Bush: You must do more to save Darfur" is what the ad said. Now you'd think those who truly follow Christ and know who He is would find this comical, but alas, so many of them are piled into the World bandwagon that they just don't get it. They are not getting it to such a great degree that they miss the obvious, as do all the Radical Selfists who fiercely plead with the World to end

The Aeneid Recommendations

The talk around the country is the release of the Iraq Study Group Report, and its recommendations regarding U.S. involvement in Iraq. I got the gist of what they were saying, and certainly all good American Catholicists will have their opinion about what it says and what we should do. Does it recommend what Rome did? If I'm not mistaken, I believe Rome conquered a territory by rounding up all the king's lieutenants and executing every one. Every single one of them. They then brought the king to Caesar's rostrum for all to see, and dropped him to the floor where Caesar placed his foot on his neck and asked him a simple question. "Are you with me, or your former country?" If he answered "Caesar," he was allowed to live. If he answered the latter, he too was executed. Saddam Hussein has already made his choice. Why is contemporary Rome allowing all of his lieutenants to run around fomenting what everyone now concedes is a civil war? Certainly at th

The Letter Kills

We had the television tuned to "The News Hour" on PBS last night, and we were puttering around while the story about the Pope's visit to Turkey was airing. I happened to catch a glimpse of this placard held up by the protesting crowds, and it really struck me. You'll note that the Pope is looking in a mirror, and what he sees there is Death. I'd guess the Muslims are ostensibly making a statement about the fact that the Pope oppresses them with his remarks and so forth. But could they know more than even they know? Simply by being out there reveals how much they dislike their papa telling them what to do. Oh yes, the Pope is their papa, even if they're Muslim. If he wasn't, what are they complaining about? The fact that they show up to protest his power says volumes about the power he has over them . But the thing that I thought about the most is the essense of this statement, essentially, "Pope equals Death." If we presume that the Bible is acc

That Phony Death -- Second Addendum

Shortly after I wrote my last blog post, we left for my sister-in-law's for Thanksgiving. Driving our van on the way there, I had a thought that I'd had before in some form, one I'm certain that others have also had. Here's Thanksgiving, the time when we are supposed to give thanks. The question is, to whom are you giving thanks? I mean, really, what do atheists do when they give thanks? What do Eastern mysticists or even devout Catholicists do? Who exactly do they give thanks to? Atheists may say that they are "thankful." I'm sorry but that is completely meaningless. Thankfulness implies that you are feeling good about something and you are appreciative in some sense for that. But why would you have anything good to begin with? From where did it come?! The Eastern mysticist is what many today would call a "New Ager." Convinced all is illusion, or that we are all just part of the Great Cosmic Oneness, who exactly does one address when saying tha

That Phony Death -- Addendum

After my last blog post, I felt I had to write a bit more about what I'd written. First, one may wonder why I don't know the spiritual condition of my stepbrother. The reason is that I'm not really close to him. Physically he lives near Seattle, and I've never had the opportunity to really interact with him. Last summer (2005) we did get more acquainted at my father's 70th birthday party. Shortly after that he discovered his medical condition. We have communicated a bit since then, sending a card, exchanging emails, those sorts of things. Second, I have only referred to him as "my stepbrother," because I have this nervousness about throwing names around on the web. I think I'm invading the privacy of others in doing so, however, in many ways that too is a Catholicist-based fear. People reading this may want to genuinely pray for him. With that in mind, his name is Randy. In fact, his fine blog is here . I can make a pretty good guess about what his spi

That Phony Death

My stepbrother has resigned himself to his death in six months. This is abjectly flooring news, just how brazenly mortality whacks one upside the head. And for him, literally. He's been fighting a brain tumor for about a year. He had chemo, and it was thought that he'd beaten it. But his eyesight was still failing terribly, and at his latest testing they found that his tumor had been as insidious as they had thought all along. It was growing back. The guy's got a wife and two bright young near-teenage boys. He's got everything to live for and he knows it. He's even blogged quite eloquently about the ordeal, being open and honest in the most visceral terms while displaying that resolved grace you like to see in one with whom you're acquainted. Still... Death is death . Not like the more widely marketed media death. Recently O.J. Simpson was going to exploit his notoriety by writing a book "How I Would've Killed My Wife," something like that, and doi

So All the Republicans Needed To Do Was...

In Chaucer's story "The Pardoner's Tale," the principle character goes about convincing people to give to the church by constantly telling them " Radix malorum est cupiditas ," or "Greed is the root of all evil." The obvious irony is that the church is getting wealthy by exploiting others' guilt. After the election last Tuesday, James Dobson of Focus on the Family said that Republicans lost control of Congress because they simply did not behave like they really understood and supported conservative Christian values. The idea is that if those candidates really stood on limited government, low taxes, protecting unborn lives, holding to traditional marriage, then they would have won. There are a couple of problems with this I want to share before I mention what this says about our country. First, the switch from Republican to Democrat in the House was only 30 seats. There were 435 seats up for grabs. Every single seat in the House. Hmm. 30 seats

Voting For...

Tomorrow is voting day. The day when we can all vote for the individuals who'll use their power to force what we want on others. It seems like most Americans anticipate this with great excitement. Why shouldn't they? They've got to make sure they've got the right people in office to crack heads. Even though many will decry the lack of voter turnout, there could be as many as 100 million visiting polling places to vote for their leaders. That’s a lot of people. How great is that, you get to pick. Are you into fighting wars against those who hate the American way? You can vote for the guy who will keep doing that. Are you into fighting against those fighting wars against those who hate the American way (but don’t really know it, of course)? Then you may vote for the guy who will do that. In the Government class I teach, we always take some time to talk about the history of suffrage, or how a group has struggled in history to secure their right to vote. The interesting thi

The Libertarian Crusade

My latest webzine home page offering is at my website, The Catholicist Nation . I invite you to look it over and see if you see the same things I do when an individual rips into government for being so, well, so evil. I'm kind of excited about this issue, because for the first time I put in a neat media tool: a scene from the film V for Vendetta . It's about four minutes long, and it adds the whole vibrant visual dynamic to the site. Woo-hoo!

The Next Culture Warriors

Went to see Jesus Camp last night. After seeing what the film was about, I wanted to see what the filmmakers' take was on evangelical Christianity. It was not surprising to see it assembled to highlight many of the things considered extreme to those who reject the idea that Jesus is the only way to be saved. I can't deny that much of what I saw among the ministers and the children they influenced was disturbing. The reason it was disturbing was they did many of the things the secular world fears in anyone , here it was just slathered with God language and Christian rituals. Children are trained to fight battles for the Lord, and they were inexplicably subjected to all kinds of emotionally wrenching activities. After I left the theater, I so much wanted to ask any of the other 20 or so who were there, "Was that disturbing to you?" If they're reasonably seasoned Catholicists they'd certainly say yes, but this was my next question: " Why was that disturbin

The Nobel Rescue Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded this past week, and it went to Muhammad Yunus. I'd never heard of the guy, but I had heard of his organization. In fact, about seven years ago I was so intrigued with what it did that I made an assignment out of it for my Economics students. I've been using it ever since to teach the foundation that must be in place for an economy to work. His organization is Grameen Bank, and it makes "micro loans" to poor people. Since the dawn of time richer people have been handing out money (loans, gifts, whatever) to poorer people, yet we still have poor people, now umpteen millennia later. What Yunus and the bank realized was that the recipients of such magnanimity were doing certain things that kept them in poverty. The people the bank aids are not just poor, they suffer in the most abjectly horrific conditions imaginable. Yunus tried what he thought was something new. He went about identifying those things that kept them in their dire destitu

No Kidding - Roman to the Core

Have you seen this? It is a photograph featuring U.S. President George Bush, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts leaving St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington D.C. where, every October before the Supreme Court begins its term, they hold the "Red Mass." This particular picture is dated in 2005 (and exhibited on the White House's own website), but I'd first heard about this event just recently after its 2006 service, having no clue that it had been held every year for the past 50 years to honor those in the legal profession. I'll say. There's the law right there. Apparently some form of it has been held, however frequently, for eight centuries. There it is. Roman prosecutorial preeminence in all its glory. There they are. The highest ranking law enforcement officials in the World (at least the most visible ones), all together, celebrating their authority to kick the behinds of anyone who jerks them around. It is called the Red Ma

Andrew Sullivan is Certainly a Fine Writer

On the cover of the latest Time (October 9) is a chimp and a baby with the feature "How We Became Human." The idea is that since our DNA is 99% similar, us humans had to have made some evolutionary baby-step from apes. Okaaay. They do offer the gratuitous, "Well, we are different, too, in some ways." Interesting, though, how dogmatic the Darwinists are. Which leads me to Andrew Sullivan's essay, which is a mere couple of pages after the ape-human story. He says lots of nifty things about Christianity and philosophy and some of those particularly thorny questions of life like "Who is God, really ?" and "Does faith really mean anything?" What I see is Time hedging its bets, saying, "Hey, we're really certain about this evolution thing, and that's because, well, we're the ones who really know, being scientifically-minded and all. For all you religious types, we just want you to be assured that if you get your faith thing wron

Hugo Chavez, Cain Wanna-Be Extraordinaire

This week Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez wowed the world by speaking at the United Nations and referring to George Bush as the devil more than a few times. Aside from demonstrating his devout Catholic faith by crossing himself when he said it, he recommended we all read Noam Chomsky's "Hegemony or Survival" so we can better understand the world as it really works. The reaction of all who say anything that gets heard says tons about the vast culture war. All the clamor invariably breaks down into two distinct voices. One group, those in the pro-Chavez/Chomsky camp, will screech about how evil George Bush is for wanting to take over the world and how much we need to rise up to stop it. The other group, those in the pro-glories of western civilization camp, will zealously deny that this is what Bush et al have done, and that they are merely fulfilling their God-given duty to defend righteously rational interests. What is so amazing is that, shazam!--both are right! The pro

State-Church Theatrics

Opened up my paper today and saw there on the front page of the Los Angeles Times a story about the IRS now really going after All Saints Church in Pasadena for making brazenly political comments from the pulpit just before the 2004 election. I haven't even read it-- I've just looked at the headline-- but I can bet throughout you'll see all kinds of histrionics about how oppressive the government is being, about oh how much they are denying this fine religious establishment the right to, again, "speak truth to power." Just wanted to invite you to go to a webzine piece I did about it back at the beginning of the year. For your dining pleasure: "On Perfectly Acceptable Racketeering" at The Catholicist Nation.

Why Jeremiah Cried

Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet. He so viscerally told of the way things were going in Jerusalem that it brought him to tears. And not just a few drops, but an entire fountain, as it says there in chapter nine. At least the grief caused him to feel like sobbing as much. Why did he feel this way? It was simple. He had to confront adulterous people . People who once said they'd be faithful, and later became prostitutes. To whom were they betrothed? None other than God Himself. To whom did they solicit themselves? The majestic and exalted Legacy of Cain. God grieved over this Himself, and said to His beloved Jerusalem, "You may have him." What is phenomenal is that all the while He promised, " But I will win you back ." I feel quite a bit like Jeremiah today. It is 9/11. The Anniversary. And all I see is grief. Lots and lots of grieving. As I feel as I do, I grieve also. But I must say that I grieve more as Jeremiah did. I so want to tell people wha

The God of Imagination

My summer reading this year included New York Times ubercolumnist Thomas Friedman's popular book The World is Flat . In it I found some interesting things to know about our fine Catholicist Nation. To muse on those things with me, go here . For a bit of exposition on the Catholicist Nation, take a peek here .

The Value of Picking Out the Liars

The biggest poker tournament of all time was recently won by a television producer and agent. The winner, Jamie Gold, defeated a starting field of nearly 9,000 players, and he credited his victory in part to his experiences reading people in Hollywood meetings. He said, "I have a greater sense of when people are telling the truth and when they are lying." (Los Angeles Times, 8/12/06) His take was $12 million dollars, and while much of his success was certainly the result of a lot of luck, I couldn't help but think. So this is the value of looking at someone and truthfully divining their deception . It is ironic that in the same day's Times was media pundit Tim Rutten's take on news service Reuters doctoring photos of the Lebanon-Israel conflict. He pointed out that this should be a much bigger story than it is. It may not have had the strongest legs because Reuters fired the photographer, issued apologies, and all that kind of stuff. I don't think for a second

The Blow-the-Snot-Out-of-'Em Deficiency

A recent John Podhoretz column was brought to my attention as I listened to a bit of talk radio this morning, and the piece exposed the wimpiness of the preeminent powers to fight bad things, like terrorism. These powers have tons of military strength and weaponry, they just don't use it because they're too timidly fearful of world opinion. Lots of media coverage of children lying dead around rubble can be a wee counterproductive. Today's Rome (embodied in the U.S./U.K./and, in some sense, Israel alliance) certainly doesn't act like the Rome of old. When Rome of old conquered a territory, it summarily executed every single remotely powerful individual (after a bit of parading some of them about town), dragging the main leader to the feet of the emperor who very graciously said, "You may serve me, or be dead also." That kind of fixed everything. Please know that I don't say yea or nay to this activity in any way, for my Lord has asked me to live by the prec

Playing Monopoly

My 10 year-old son went off to camp today, where he'll be for four days. But this morning before he went, I promised him I'd play him in Monopoly, his favorite board game. The full game, an hour-and-a-half long. We put the game together, set the timer, and off we went. Usually he beats the tar out of me. Seriously, he has this knack for rolling past my house-laden properties and lands on "Free Parking" way more than he should (yes, we play with that kitty in the middle). But today, I was the one getting the rolls he's always gotten . About an hour into the game I'd already landed on "Free Parking" five times to his none (maybe John Rawls was right!) I'd bought four properties he couldn't afford, and at the height of my power I had hotels on each property of three different color groupings, three of the railroads and both utilities (hey, those guys can get you some sweet cash). The notable thing is that because my son loves to play this game s

A Lebanon-Israel Take

A ton of news coverage has saturated the public square regarding the conflict in the Middle East between Lebanon and Israel. Yesterday there was a press conference featuring President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and I found something Blair said worth noting. He said, essentially, that the fight against terrorism would be like this, and that there is no other way to fight it, so we must keep doing what we're doing. The item that struck me was "There is no other way." Well, yes, there is another way . The other way is Jesus Christ, seeing how much He loves you and in that moving you to love another with that love. If everyone did that (oh this is just too easy) then there would be no violence . But Blair, being a sworn servant of Cain, hasn't a clue about that other way . He only knows of the seven-fold vengeance he must help exact against rebels such as the terrorists in Lebanon, and he continues to enable the destructive activities of the plainly ruthl

Caesar Tries Really Hard, He Does, At Least There's That

President Bush's Chief of Staff Joshua Bolton was the featured guest on this past Sunday's Meet the Press , and after Tim Russert got past all the questions about the Middle East he went to the embryonic stem cell research issue, addressing why the president vetoed its federal funding. Bolton gave the standard response which was essentially, "The president thinks that the fertilized embryo is a human life that deserves protection." Fine answer. The problem is, he can't speak the truth about the human embryo because he works for the World in the employ of Caesar. And as such, he was no match for the searing questions that Russert had for him about the inconsistency of the president's actions in light of his commitment. To give you an idea about why the president's approach is so problematic, here was the progression of Russert's questioning. First he quoted White House Spokesman Tony Snow as stating that ESCR is murder. Russert asked Bolton (again, in e

The Taking What's Not Yours Awards

Last week's Newsweek featured the cover story, "The Giving Back Awards" (July 10, 2006). It was a "special double issue" supposedly about 15 showcased people who, I imagine are giving back . On the cover were a couple of notable individuals, Brad Pitt and Rick Warren, and some others I didn't recognize. But then I didn't look too closely. I didn't even read it-- I just happened to see it on the table of an office. Now how can I critique it if I didn't even read it? Simple, because I'm pretty sure I already know what the whole thing is about. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Here are some of those "beautiful" people who magazines like to feature, all doing really really really really really good things somehow somewhere someway-- a double issue's worth of super good things. And the concept of giving back means that these people have had so much fortune heaped upon them that they've listened to their heart and done a bunc

How to End All Abortions -- Really, He Can!

Scott Klusendorf is the best pro-life apologist there is. He's awesome. You can learn some terrific things about arguing for protecting the lives of unborn babies from him. He just doesn't know much about the World System he's working for. If you're interested in looking a bit deeper into abortion and how an obligation with the World actually derails pro-life efforts, go to The Catholicist Nation . Oh, and by the way, the "He" refered to in the title is not Mr. Klusendorf. (Okay, okay, who is it? )

The Wheels Have Eyes

I opened up the newspaper on Friday to see another supposedly stunning revelation regarding the government’s brazen invasion of the people’s privacy. This one has the U.S. Treasury keeping tabs on all of our bank accounts, unbeknownst to us, those scoundrels . The thing I can never understand about all this is why any of this is news. Hey, all of you who actually think you have any privacy, news flash: The government can get any information about you any time they want . What is so stupefying is how dismissive they are of the fact that they themselves make it so this happens. By signing so many worldly contractual agreements, they hand over that "confidential" information and then act startled when the big bad giant creature called The Government has their paw prints all over it. It's even funnier when you see that Treasury Secretary John Snow blithely confessed that when they asked the banks for only a slice of information to follow particular terrorists leads, the bank