Friday, April 30, 2004

Boy Mocks Man.

[Bad Language Alert.]

By now, you've probably heard about the creature called Rene Gonzalez, a UMass grad student, and his decision to piss on the memory and sacrifice of Pat Tillman.

As it so happens, I have some opinions about Mr. Gonzalez, too.

When the death of Pat Tillman a real man occurred, I a not-man turned to my one friend Mr. Jorge, King of All Sock Puppets™ who was watching the news with me on Friday night, after my usual couple of hours of intently watching Skinemax and said, "How much you want to bet they start talking about him as a 'hero' in about two hours?" That, and I asked him if he remembered when Femalien 2 came on. Of course, my friend did not want to make that bet. Mr. Jorge™ not being a betting sock. He'd lose. And Mr. Jorge's™ a bad loser, right? [Makes puppet nod.]

In this self-critical incapable nation

Wha...? Not-man is apparently a not-graduate student in English. Next time, let the puppet write, buttercup.

nothing but a knee-jerk "He's a hero" response is to be expected.

Actually, the only jerk here is the writer-chump from UMass.

I've been mystified at the absolute nonsense of being in "awe" of Tillman's "sacrifice" that has been the American response.

Ponder, Jackass, just for a minute, the fact you can crap on a far better human being in print and not be tossed into the clink or lined up against the wall, and you might be able to understand it. Come on, try it--let the two or three neurons left inside your capacious skull have a crack at it!

Mystified, but not surprised. True, it's not everyday that you forgo a $3.6 million contract for joining the military. And, not just the regular army, but the elite Army Rangers. You know he was a real Rambo, who wanted to be in the "real" thick of things.

Half a neuron at work in the first three sentences--then return to anancephaly in the last.

Um, Jackass--you have evidently forgotten about what happened on September 11, 2001. Three thousand of your putative countrymen massacred by fanatics succored by a dark-age relic regime in Afghanistan? Where Pat Tillman went to fight?

Oh, that's right--that hiccup didn't matter to moonbats. It's all about Halliburton and the ooooooooiiiiiiiiiiiillllllllll for the League of Marxist Academic Blowholes Indifferent To Hygiene and Humanity. It never matters to people like buttercup here: unless it actually happens to them or someone they somehow seem to care about--on those rare occasions when they manage to break out of their cocoons of righteous self-adoration.

And bad grammar.

I could tell he was that type of macho guy, from his scowling, beefy face on the CNN pictures.

Um, I don't want to hint, or anything--but "scowling, beefy face"? "Macho"? Repeated references to the muscular "Rambo"?

All I'm saying is that it's entirely possible the first draft of the above sentence might have mentioned "rough, calloused hands" or "scratchy, stubbly chin."

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Well, he got his wish.

Yep--got to fight those who helped slaughter innocents. God bless him.

Even Rambo got shot in the third movie, but in real life, you die as a result of being shot. They should call Pat Tillman's army life "Rambo 4: Rambo Attempts to Strike Back at His Former Rambo 3 Taliban Friends, and Gets Killed."

Oh, a blowback reference. How clever.

Hey--I have an idea! They should call Rene Gonzalez' college life "Wanker 5354: Another Mediocre Student Goes Through Life Frustrated In His Attempts to Bed Chunky Ani DeFranco Wannabes, Pontificating About Derrida And Other Things He Really Doesn't Understand Before Passing Out Face Down On A Shag Carpet Spackled With His Own Vomit After Another Lonely Saturday Evening Rolling Rock Bender."

My movie will do better.

But, does that make him a hero?


I guess it's a matter of perspective.

And America was just pining for the "perspective" of some grad student and his sock puppet.

For people in the United States, who seem to be unable to admit the stupidity of both the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars,

Again, not-man--what was the cause of these wars? Remember that beautiful day in September? Within limits, reasonable, honorable people could argue about Iraq, I suppose, but any jack___ who thinks the war in Afghanistan was "stupid" is projecting.

such a trade-off in life standards (if not expectancy)

I'm having a hard time believing English is among your first three languages, dimwit.

is nothing short of heroic. Obviously, the man must be made of "stronger stuff" to have had decided to "serve" his country rather than take from it. It's the old JFK exhortation to citizen service to the nation, and it seems to strike an emotional chord.

Which is why it's so alien to bi-coastal grad students. It's even more mystifying than the reason why the tattooed goth chick with all the body piercings won't give him the time of day. Lesbian....

So, it's understandable why Americans automatically knee-jerk into hero worship.

Hmmm. Two mentions of "jerk." Hey, I'm just thinking aloud here.

However, in my neighborhood in Puerto Rico, Tillman would have been called a "pendejo," an idiot.

Cough-projection-cough! Why do I think little Rene heard "pendejo" a lot growing up? BTW--every Puerto Rican who ever wore the uniform of his country (amongst whom number four Medal of Honor winners) is going to be lining up for a word with the Bold Contrarian.

Tillman, in the absurd belief that he was defending or serving his all-powerful country from a seventh-rate, Third World nation devastated by the previous conflicts it had endured, decided to give up a comfortable life to place himself in a combat situation that cost him his life.

Gonzalez, in the absurd belief that his attempted desecration of the memory of a real man was a mark of courage, decided to give up his comfortable-and entirely warranted--anonymity to place himself on the do-call list of an outraged continent, costing him his sleep and former phone number.

This was not "Ramon or Tyrone," who joined the military out of financial necessity, or to have a chance at education.

Oh, that's right--people of color are always poor and never patriots.

By the way--leaving the name stereotyping aside--some of these folks on the front lines are white, too. And respond to "Doug," or "little brother."


Sorry, but there is no other word.

This was a "G.I. Joe" guy who got what was coming to him. That was not heroism, it was prophetic idiocy.

Oh, would that Gonzalez would get what was coming to him--the challenge to a duel with pistols at dawn from Pat's little brother. Another challenge the not-man would likely flee from with all due haste.

Tillman, probably acting out his nationalist-patriotic fantasies forged in years of exposure to Clint Eastwood and Rambo movies, decided to insert himself into a conflict he didn't need to insert himself into. It wasn't like he was defending the East coast from an invasion of a foreign power.

I don't remotely endorse e-mail or phone death threats.

BUT I UNDERSTAND THEM. You really have to find English incomprehensible if you don't view 9/11 as an attack by a foreign power.

Hell, you have to find reality incomprehensible to see it the way the not-man does.

THAT would have been heroic and laudable. What he did was make himself useful to a foreign invading army, and he paid for it. It's hard to say I have any sympathy for his death because I don't feel like his "service" was necessary. He wasn't defending me, nor was he defending the Afghani people. He was acting out his macho, patriotic crap and I guess someone with a bigger gun did him in.

"'F', Pat?"

"Yes, there is one 'F'!"

"I'd like to buy a vowel--a 'U?'"

"Yes! There are two 'U's!"

"I'd like to solve...."

By the way, Multiculti Boy--the Afghans are called simply that--Afghans. "Afghanis" are their monetary unit.


Perhaps it's the old, dreamy American thought process that forces them to put sports greats and "larger than life" sacrificial lambs on the pedestal of heroism, no matter what they've done. After all, the American nation has no other role to play but to be the cheerleaders of the home team; a sad role to have to play during conflicts that suffer from severe legitimacy and credibility problems.

Again, Jackass, on September 11, the American people weren't "cheering from the sidelines"--they were on the front lines. Often choosing to plummet to the streets instead of being burned to death. Pity you were too busy either scanning Das Kapital or scanning HBO for that Shannon Tweed flick that day.

Matters are a little clearer for those living outside the American borders. Tillman got himself killed in a country other than his own without having been forced to go over to that country to kill its people. After all, whether we like them or not, the Taliban is more Afghani than we are.

And the Nazis were more German than Eisenhower's boys. By Jackass' custard-headed logic, I guess we should have ignored the U-Boats, extermination camps and the declaration of war and just left the poor paperhanging SOB alone.

Their resistance is more legitimate than our invasion, regardless of the fact that our social values are probably more enlightened than theirs.

Behold--Pro-Taliban revisionism. A new low, though I suppose it was inevitable. Stoning women to death for showing nostrils or teaching kids to read versus a corporate "glass ceiling." Yeah, "probably" more enlightened. Still, you might not want to try that one out on the cute Spartacist chicks--even they might not like it.

For that, he shouldn't be hailed as a hero, he should be used as a poster boy for the dangerous consequences of too much "America is #1," frat boy, propaganda bull. It might just make a regular man irrationally drop $3.6 million to go fight in a conflict that was anything but "self-defense." The same could be said of the unusual belief of 50 percent of the American nation that thinks Saddam Hussein was behind Sept. 11. One must indeed stand in awe of the amazing success of the American propaganda machine. It works wonders.

It's not nearly as impressive as the propaganda machine that is the American Public University, the last refuge of unrepentant totalitarian Marxism this side of Pyongyang. Only a UMass could work a wonder like Rene Gonzalez.

I'll hang with the frat boys every time. P.S. to Rene: they do better with the ladies.

[Idiocy fatigue sets in, and root causes meandering snipped.]

Rene Gonzalez is a UMass graduate student.

Sucks to be a Minuteman alum.
"Hey, Hanrahan...."

Interesting discussion about hockey fights over at Mark Sullivan's blog.

There is a contention that the 1994 instigator rule has improved the NHL game.

I, channelling my inner Don Cherry, disagree. You see a lot more of the really nasty stuff now that there is no way for the enforcer types to retaliate.

Plus, I miss the enforcers--especially the nicknames: Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, "Missing" Link Gaetz, Stu "The Grim Reaper" Grimson, "the Bruise Brothers" Bob Probert and Joey Kocur, Dave "His Nickname Escapes Me" Semenko--a lot of the color of the game is lost now. In return, we have brutal cowardice like that displayed by Claude Lemieux, Marty McSorley and Todd Bertuzzi.

That's not an improvement.

No, I don't want "Slap Shot" antics every game, but what we have now protects even worse actions.


[P.S.: Speaking of my favorite hockey film--compared to most of today's "inspired by" films, Slap Shot was a documentary--amazingly close to real life.]
Not dead. Busy.

And in a rotten mood to boot.

Yes, the Pistons and Wings are finding some traction (moreso for the first, but we'll take any sign of life from the latter).

The Lions appear to have had a great draft, but you always have to account for this factor:

They're the Lions. The same nimrods who picked such can't miss first rounders as Andre Ware, Reggie Rogers, Aaron Gibson, Bryant Westbrook, Terry Fair...

Then there was their brilliant decision to pick Kalimba Edwards instead of Clinton Portis. Yeah, not like we needed to address the running game three years ago....

The Tigers are assured of their first winning April since 1993. You know: back when their manager was playing shortstop. Yep, been pretty miserable for many a moon.

My part III on SITTM may go up, if anyone's still interested. Up to you.

Oh, and I saw two pieces of prime stupidity which have attracted my attention. Keep watching this space.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Not enough hours in a day, or "An Omnibus Post."

Part III will be up and running by day's end. It's the constructive part of the series, for those of you inclined to regard me as the Bob Knepper of Catholic blogging.

Preview: You can either reach out to the gents and instill healthy male virtues, or you can let them find their way to the recliner, looking forward to the "Women On Trampolines" segment of The Man Show and enjoy male-female ratios starting at 35-65 every Sunday and worsening until you close up shop.

In the meantime, enjoy this snarky piece of photojournalism from an admittedly conservative blog covering an undermanned protest at the Supreme Court (Bad Language Alert). For me, the high point of the post is the reference to the Swiss hair-metal band, Krokus.

Feel free not to discuss hockey or the Wings' powerless play.

"Your women--I wish to buy them!" Ah, the perils of love poetry.

A request for advice from other parents: how long do you have to keep cheering a toilet-training child's bowel movements like a maniac. I mean, I definitely want to keep encouraging Maddie, but at some point, it has to stop. Speaking update: Out of the blue yesterday at the dinner table, she said "Yes, please" and "No thank you." Cool beyond words. D3 is not speaking much, but he calls his sister "Mah-wa," especially when he can't see her.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Stickin' It To The Man, Part II.

A gifted homilist could probably milk the story of the 325th for a month's worth of homilies about Christian fortitude, justice, sacrifice and heroism. The selflessness of men willing to die for others, shortly after leaving St. Mary's Church (St. Mere Eglise), for foreign strangers in the grip of darkness as well as for friends--there are plenty of parallels to the Gospel here.

I even have a couple of titles handy: "No Way Out But Through" and "Crossing the Causeway." Feel free to filch and alter as you like.

Of course, there are perils that have to be sidestepped--tamping down on American messianism and so forth--but it can be easily done.

But, of course, it won't. Certainly not in a progressive parish, and not even in more conservative ones. The reason? As this article found by Amy Welborn notes, the Church seems to recoil from any appeal to classically masculine values. Let me define my terms: by classically masculine I mean such things as life-sacrificing heroism, adventurousness, willingness to risk confrontation, being task- or project-oriented, and related virtues. This description is not to deny that women experience such things, but only that, as a generally rule, they do so to a lesser extent or differently. We are different but complementary, right?

Why there so little appeal to that, I wonder? It's not as though the New Testament is shorn of militant terminology. Look here, here, here and here.

Gates breaking (note that the image presumes the Gospel is on the offensive, not defensive), swords being girded, the clank of armor being donned--all right! The D&D geek in every man is beginning to pay attention now.... More seriously, it cannot be denied that this imagery appeals more strongly to men than to women. But it is almost never referenced, except to neutralize or spiritualize it away.

I can feel the buildup to an explosion beginning, but let me continue. Every time this subject comes up, a pattern seems to establish itself quickly--critics point out the obvious--fewer men at church, offer criticism of Church's lack of appeal to men, unbalanced spirituality, etc.

Response: We have liftoff! Well, it's simple--it's a worldwide phenomenon; you have an adolescent's understanding of masculinity and masculine virtues, atrophied at age 12, Beavis, so curb the macho BS; or you're compensating for something, possibly even homosexuality [ed.: No, really.]; you don't understand that the Gospel transforms erroneous notions of masculinity (like yours) into a newer form; perhaps you need to grow up, swallow your pride and do something you regard as "unworthy" to prove yourself.

In reverse order: (1) Okey--I'm 35 going on 55, married with two kids and a third on the way, and though I don't regard this the following as "unworthy", I'm chairman of the parish education commission, I lead the weekly bible study and am a member of the Knights of Columbus--oh, and I used to be an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, until my daughter became fully mobile. I also have a frigging day job. Are my credentials sufficient to permit me to speak on the issue? The men aren't there--it doesn't take a resume', just a pair of eyes and the ability to count.

(2) The Gospel baptizes human virtues, including those of healthy masculinity. It transforms them with new life. Unfortunately, the arguments on this point quickly end up turning it into the opposite: a timorous, deferential understanding that has been "mortified" out of all recognition.

"Want to exercise a 'masculine virtue,' buddy? Sit down and shut the hell up!"

Nope. Sorry. Not if the Christ of the Gospels is our model. As opposed to the Josh creature of 21st Century therapeutic social gospel America--a Stuart Smalley without the andro. We get the mandatory U.S. RWA of the Meek 'N' Mild Jesus, and Apologetic Explanations for the unavoidable incidents were Jesus confronted evil and sacrificed himself. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah: Who he?

I'd like to see the same dismissive approach tried with respect to the genius of femininity. "Your understanding of femininity is flawed..." Don't hold your breath.

(3) How's the ban, o anonymous greg? Bet you'd really like to get your two cents in on this one, eh?

Well, stinks to be you.

(4) Actually, no, it hasn't atrophied. Though I am pretty cool--Fire! Fire! I need TP for...Nevermind.

Perhaps my view is unrefined. So be it. The men aren't there, and few care.

We'd better start. Lose the fathers, lose the sons. And, eventually the daughters, too. When my dad lost interest in going to church on Sunday, we all dropped out. It took my brother's "born again" experience to make me wonder if there might be something to this Jesus business.

It took far too long for society to remember the common-sense dictate that good fathers are an indispensible component of a healthy family, and by extension, a healthy society. A church hemorrhaging family men is on the expressway to auto-demolition.

(5) It's a widespread phenomenon. Perhaps so, but it cannot be the case that there are no parishes in the U.S. where they get men to attend and participate. Study them, O bishops, but quickly--not in the "let's table it till we address the depletion of smelt stocks in the Au Sable River and its impact on the interrelational aspects of wholistic Gospel witness" blah blah blah for the love of Mary please shut up now. Yes, the laity can get to work, but the Sheps set the tone.

You don't have twenty years to find your backside with both hands on this one.

[Continue to Part III]

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Stickin' it to The Man, Part I.

Normandy on June 8, 1944, was no place for fainthearts. After that day, no man of the 325th Glider Infantry Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division would ever be called that again.

[Commanding general of the 82nd Airborne General Matthew] Ridgway was trying to get across the Merderet River, to the west of town [St. Mere Eglise, liberated on June 6]. He wanted to finish what he started and take the causeway at a hamlet called La Fiere. The trouble was that it ran absolutely straight for about 500 yards and stood well above the marshes. The Germans were strongly entrenched on the far side, and there was no cover on the causeway. Crossing it was close to walking down the middle of a road in daylight under a sign saying "Shoot Me."

Ridgway tried to loosen the defenses by getting troops over via a ford farther north. A small group got across, but was easily contained. By the end of June 7 the causeway remained solidly in enemy hands. If it was going to be taken by the 82nd, it would have to be stormed.

Ridgway rounded up all the artillery he could muster, including a dozen 155s from the 4th Division, and the tank battalion was brought forward to provide suppressive fire. The next day he tried again.

The attack was mounted by the 325th Glider Infantry plus several tanks. It was the toughest fight they would ever see. Ridgway entrusted the charge across the causeway to [Col. James M.] Gavin, but he himself was there too, along with nearly every regimental and battalion commander in the 82nd. They exhorted, inspired, exposed themselves freely to enemy fire, did everything short of taking men individually by the hand and leading them across.

It was a mission that called for the crazy brave; a select--and normally unpopular--few. In getting themselves killed they stand a good chance of getting their buddies killed too. Nothing else would do, though, for combat like this. When the order was given to get onto the causeway, only the boldest, most daring gliderists raced forward; mere mortals lagged behind.

The carnage was numbing. A hundred men would fall so that a score traveling in what amounted to a state of grace could sprint to the far side. Then another hundred would go down, dead or wounded, while another score made it. The handful of survivors fell among the Germans in a frenzy, routing them in merciless hand-to-hand fights. This action was one of the most desperate that American troops saw anywhere in Europe.

From There's A War To Be Won: The United States Army In World War II, by Geoffrey Perret, p. 325, (Random House, 1991).

What's your gut reaction? Do derisive terms like "macho BS," or "hyper-masculine" come to mind?

I didn't think so.

Interestingly, Lutheran theologian Oscar Cullman compared the Incarnation to D-Day, arguing that Christ's birth was the beginning of the liberation, and the promise of victory, but that there would be a long battle until the V-E Day of Christ's return. Such makes more sense reading about the sacrifice of these incomparably brave men on D+2.

I ask you: When was the last time you heard the struggle of the Gospel cast in even remotely martial terms?

[Continuing to Part II]

Monday, April 19, 2004

My short analysis of the reason behind the inertia of American Catholic bishops.

I've lifted this from my comment at another blog, and modified it somewhat:

Some of the inaction is probably because the ordinary in question is compromised, either personally or because he has protected compromised people (the good ol' mafiosi).(1) I think some of it is because even if the bishop is basically orthodox, his chancery is packed with Reporter groupies (or even writers) who are not, and who openly sympathize with the causes of the Class of '67. As a result he thinks he has to tread lightly. Even if he doesn't have to--but he simply can't afford to be regarded as "unpastoral." Eeek--bad publicity!

Beyond that, here's my best possible spin theory on our current situation.
Ultimately, there is an operative mandate to the good bishops (read: those who might feel like listening)--a "Commandment," if you will. This Commandment from On High (Rome) reads: Thou Shalt Do Nothing To Provoke A De Jure Schism. If that means passivity in the face of provocation from the mafiosi, the rebellious Class of ‘67, the bad Catholic pols, the bad Jesuit universities (yes, almost redundant)--the lot, well, so be it. In the meantime, preach, wait until they’re all safely dead, reform your rotten seminary so you can start getting replacements and things will gradually get better. Almost imperceptibly, but still, better.

When the rebels make like Solomon in the temple, ruining churches, the liturgy, universities, catechesis, moral training, formation, the orders, biblical study, etc--well, that’s still better than schism, which will drag even more souls to Hell in the process, because the church set up by the bolsheviks will be indistinguishable from the Piskies in five years, tops. With no schism, some folks will still get sacraments. They won't understand what they are getting, but they will get them none the less.

The best proof for my theory is to watch how the bishops close to the Pope behave in their sees. Consider how Cardinal George acts in the hornet’s nest of Chicago, and it becomes clear--he’s following the advice/commandment to a “t.” He’s preaching at and waiting for Bernardin’s coddled rebels to die, and to replace them with the new guys coming on stream from the reformed seminary at Mundelein (he had the largest ordination class in the U.S. last year).

Ditto here in Detroit, to a lesser degree, where the Pope's friend Cardinal Maida has gradually made changes, starting again with a vastly improved seminary. For example: where Fr. Anthony "Anything Goes!" Kosnik once roamed the halls, spewing BS, Prof. Janet Smith actually teaches moral theology to slowly growing classes of future priests, deacons and, of course, laity going into diocesan positions.

From what I hear, similar things are happening in Denver, Atlanta, and similar places around the country.

The first problem with this, of course, is that the strategy takes forever and gives no encouragement to those (formerly?) most inclined to back the bishops to the hilt, a/k/a “Those fanatics who take this crap seriously.” As David Carlin notes in his wake up call of a book, the American Catholic episcopate are in reality horrible politicians. When you consider that no politicians in history have p****d on (ok, a paraphrase) a core constituency quite like the American bishops have on “authentic Catholics,” (his phrase, not mine), his point becomes clear.

The second problem is that only emphasizes the first mark of the Church ("We are one church--there are sixty five million of us in this country and growing--everything's dandy here!"), and does nothing about the bishops whose behavior was at the center of the scandal in the first place. If the progressives have made one superb point, it's that sunshine is a great disinfectant--when chanceries turn into closed bunkers where the bishop hears what he wants to and is responsible to no one, least of all to those doofus pew warmers who occasionally disturb the equanimity of him or his staff with their puling complaints, you get where we are today.

The third problem is related to the second--it only works where the ordinary tries to reform. If things are "juuuust fine" in the benighted Diocese of Podunk ("Where the Spirit is Leading Us Somewhere!"), it's going to stay "juuuust fine" till Bishop Newkirk retires, and all the complaints in the world aren't going to change a thing.

The fourth problem is related to the third: it leaves the people of God groaning under the regime of an unaccountable made man who is there until retirement. If he wants to impose his vision, he and his staff will, and careerism will help bring most of the rest of the diocese in line. There is a reason you don't hear the phrase "bureaucratic courage."

Fifth, the strategy can be indistinguishable from inaction, and can be a great excuse from shying away from the job. Sometimes inertia is just inertia.

Finally, please note that I'm not excusing the Pope here. He's appointed a significant proportion of the episcopate, and is also responsible for leaving them in place. If he wants to operate like an Orthodox prelate, that's his perogative. But there is a steep cost to be paid for acting as the Patriarch of the West, as opposed to the Sovereign Pontiff.

And it would be nice to get the beauty of an Orthodox Divine Liturgy once in a while for our trouble.

[If you comment on this one, careful--I'll shut down comments quick if they go overboard. As in drain the swamp, if you catch my drift.]

(1) Duh! Alert: I don't endorse every sentiment in every item I link.

Authorities recommend major metropolitan area be provisionally removed from 24 hour suicide watch.

Memo to Tomas Vokoun--remember: You're Tomas frigging Vokoun, not Patty Roy (thank you, Don Cherry).

In other words, to quote Dr. Evil: "Zip it!"

Whew. On to round two, against...I'm hoping not the Avs. The Winged Wheelers have never beaten Colorado in the second round.

For some worthwhile analysis of the NHL playoffs from a Canadian political columnist, of all things, try Colby Cosh's NHL page. One warning, Wing fans--he really doesn't like our team, using terms more applicable to a hater of the evil, evil NY Yankees than our lads. But he's smart enough to give credit where it was due. Also, he's an occasional deployer of inappropriate language--not Slap Shot bad, but it's there.

In other sports news: it appears the Pistons are ready for the playoffs. The only reason I kept watching was to see Darko get in. I sold my wife on the necessity of seeing such a thing, in the midst of a 20+ point blowout.

Anybody else getting the impression that he's a 21st century Chuck Nevitt? Actually, that's not fair to Nevitt, as he didn't come into the league with hype, nor did he develop into a whiner.

Friday, April 16, 2004

A Lament for the Democrats.

Mark Sullivan mourns the party of Roosevelt, Truman, and Henry "Scoop" Jackson:

I believe the Democrats today would be hard to beat if they were strong on defense, championed America and freedom on the world stage, looked out for the little guy, and maintained at least a residual respect for the moral and religious values of Main Street America – in short, if it returned to being the Democratic Party of FDR, Harry Truman, JFK and Scoop Jackson.

Speaking as someone raised in roots-Republican rural Michigan, I have to agree. I think that Republican success in the past 35 years is largely due to dumb luck--the Democrats misplayed an unbeatable hand. In 1968, the bolsheviks began to storm the party's bastions, and by 1972, they'd succeeded. With the exception of the Carter hiccups, they managed to alienate most of the electorate with an agenda seemingly calculated to alienate the people we now call "Reagan Democrats." For the second time in their often-noble history, the Dems are on the wrong side of a fundamental human rights issue, again denying the full humanity of an entire group of people; this time, their own children.

Not that the Republicans are any prize, though. Even in my youth (he says, marvelling at the amount of gray culled during every visit to the barber), the quintessential Republican was the aproned shopkeeper or yeoman farmer, a decent play-by-the-rules fellow who was a full member of the community and wanted what was best for it--even if it didn't give him the best bottom line. The Democrats in my neck of the woods growing up were Larouchies or hard-leftist malcontents engaged in an experiment to see how few votes could be obtained by one party on a two candidate ballot.

The community-mined approach I grew up with is increasingly not the mindset of the national party. That party is the "Just Win, Baby!" force of the corporations, but at the same time also the shrugging libertarian invoker of the invisible hand of the market as the healer of all ills. Lest we forget, this is the same free market whose corporations sell Pink, Britney, Nelly and thongs to preteens (take a look at your local high school to see the downstream effect). The party that celebrates outsourcing like a sacrament. The party happy to jettison the embarrassing religious types at the drop of an electoral hat (hint--great idea, if you relish being a perpetual minority party).

They retain my loyalty increasingly because they are less appalling than the Democrats, not necessarily because they are the friends of me and my family or have our best interests in mind. On the other hand, the Dems' stiff arm gets a little longer every year.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

You people are obviously starstruck by my brilliance.

That's the only explanation for why the comment boxes are filled with the buzz of crickets.

Ah, nothing like living the deluded life....
Updates on candidate whatsisface.

1. Looks like that American Spectator rumor about a staged confrontation by Kerry using the Mass was total crap.
Say what you will about the Senator, he seems to be doing the opposite, carefully avoiding a confrontation at all costs (ignore the goofball focus on refighting the Reformation). If there was anyplace he could have tried the purported stunt, it would have been St. Louis, where Abp. Burke called him out by name.

Didn't do it, though, did he? Same thing on Easter in Boston, where he went to the New-Agey Paulist Center instead of a parish of the Archdiocese.

None of this makes me like the guy much, but it sure makes me skeptical of the Spectator from here on in.

2. Abp. McCarrick, the subject of a pounding supra, is meeting with the Senator today. So much for the soulful "that's not up to me" Stay-Puf-ery he fed the MSNBC columnist. Perhaps his spine is made of something other than lime Jell-O after all. This bears close watching, and I'd be happy to eat my words mixed with Gravy Train if something comes of it.
Liturgical Music Complaint Post MMCMLII.

I joined another organization--what a surprise.

Mr. Gilleland expressed surprise at the explosion of interest. I'm not--for most of the members, it's a weekly phenomenon, occurring at the "source and summit" of our life as Catholics. I'm going to avoid my usual tactful approach ("Incoming!") , which provokes the usual response ("write your own!"). I also won't go into whether the stuff is "heretical" or not--a fruitless endeavor that is really pretty well stymied by the frothingly artsy poetic ambiguity of the ditties in question. Usually you can put an orthodox spin on most of it, albeit with with heavy parenthetical annotations:

I myself [In a wholly derivative and secondary sense related to our individual membership in the mystical body of Christ, the ultimate Bread of Life--ed.] am the Bread of Life/
You and I [See above note]/
Are the Bread of Life...


All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place. [Indeed, the Church embraces all sinners, though we are compelled to advise you that you are not welcome to take the Eucharist if you're coming here directly from a bordello without confession and are looking forward to the hit you have to perform this afternoon--Ed.]

Consequently, the heretical charge is a taffy pull, basically, and a battle not worth fighting.

Instead, I think the main problem is different: the music emphasizes only one aspect of the Mass, and completely obscures the other. Yes, the mass is indeed a meal--we go up to eat and drink, after all--just like Christ said. So complaints that go after that aspect of the Mass are, in one real sense, a non-starter.

But, there is another aspect to the Mass--the concept that it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the re-presentation of the Sacrifice on Calvary, at which all participants in the Mass are somehow mystically present. It is in conveying this mystery that the lot of modern Catholic liturgical music fails utterly.

One of my wife's friends at the parish is a member of the Mom's Club. The recent subject of discussion was That Gibson Film. In speaking about it with Heather, she said she had never even made the connection between the Mass and the Cross. Sure, some of it can be chalked up to being another member of the Lost Catechetical Generation, like my wife and others of her age. Even leaving that aside, though, she's been a faithful Mass-goer her entire life--but the way it has been celebrated has successfully hidden that connection from her--until now.

Part of that has to be the music--all celebratory and community centered. Indeed, as Heather pointed out, the modern music fits what happened at Calvary about as well as the People's Front of Judea singing For He's A Jolly Good Fellow at the end of The Life of Brian.

Always look on the bright side of life, indeed. Post-Vatican II Catholic liturgical music does nothing but.

Try imagining Haugen or Haas meditating on the precious blood or the body broken for us, or the stripes by which we are healed--nope, I can't do it either. Ditto Conry, Hurd, Dufner, Norbet, the St. Louis Jesuits, etc.

That is the great failing of Catholic music, and another example of the cross-shaped hole in our spirituality and worship for the past two generations.

Too bad it has to be filled by a movie.
I have joined the Conspiracy...

...the Vast Conservative Anglican Conspiracy, that is.

I now even have the mug to prove it (thanks, Chris!). It's holding the java quite nicely this morning.

"But you're Catholic...." you say.

Yes. Just proves how vast the Conspiracy is, now, doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Another Entry in the Devil's Dictionary for Faithful Catholics.


PRONUNCIATION: pass-tore-l.
ADJECTIVE: 1a. Of or relating to a pastor or the duties of a pastor: pastoral duties; a pastoral letter; 1b. A term often used by a Catholic ordinary as an excuse for his refusal to actually perform any such duties that might involve bad publicity.

Here's another free insight, FWIW: whenever a Catholic bishop gets a rhetorical tongue bath in the secular media, he's not doing his job.

Exhibit A: this frippery on L'Affaire Kerry, featuring very special guest star Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, in full bob-and-weave mode.


So it was a relief to hear Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington respond with a pastoral voice on the Kerry issue.

I'm really, really, really beginning to hate that word. Fun thought experiment: Every time you see it used in conjunction with a bishop's inaction on a scandalous issue, try replacing it with "retiring," "diffident," "timorous," or even "pathetic." It's very instructive.

I mean, by the same token, Bernard Cardinal Law's handling of Paul Shanley could also be called "pastoral."

McCarrick is heading a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops task force on how to handle Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.

Which will get back to you on the issue around the same time they decide to refer that whole "plenary council" idea to the USCCB's Joint Episcopal Subcommittee For Furled Brow Dithering (interestingly enough, the JESFFBD shares an office with the Ministry of Silly Walks).

Hell, they'll probably refer it to the same subcommittee. Whoopsie!

In an empty meeting room at St. Matthew’s in downtown D.C., where the cardinal led a prayer service last Wednesday, he pulled a couple of dusty folding chairs down from a stack so we’d have someplace to sit while we talked. When I asked about Kerry’s standing, he seemed pained by the idea of turning him, or anyone else, away. “I would find it hard to use the Eucharist as a sanction,” he said gently.

Uh, ever heard of excommunication? Oh, that's right--communion is a civil right for the Easter People these days--a symbol of our surface unity despite the fact some of us refuse to believe "that crap" anymore. It's like getting your driver's licen--oh, wait: they revoke that when you maim somebody with your Buick. OK, bad analogy. Um, it's like the right to vote--oh, they'll yank that if you commit a felony, too.

Oh, forget it--it's the great big agape table--Josh didn't have any standards, so why should we? What the hell--next time I'm in DC, I'm going to let my freak flag fly at the good ol' eucharistic celebration!

"You don’t know what’s in anyone’s heart when they come before you. It’s important that everyone know what our principles are, but you’d have to be very sure someone had a malicious intent [before denying him communion.]”

Technically true, but it nicely ignores the fact that while you can't read hearts, you can judge actions. And unrestricted abortion has had no better friend in this country than John Forbes Kerry. Just check the voting record and full-throated endorsements. I mean, what does Kerry have to do here--walk up to the rail wearing a T-shirt that says "I LUV Dr. Carhart" showing a picture of the bad doctor working briskly at his Mengelesque finest?

Or does the Abp. perhaps suspect that Sen. Kerry suffers from some defect in intention--i.e., JFK's barking mad?

McCarrick is surprisingly humble, and a reluctant judge.

"And the winner of our 2004 Strange New Respect Award goes to...."

Alas, however: It's not true. Abp. McCarrick is a swift and stern judge of perceived orthodoxy--when the issue is important to him. Consider this effort to lay down the law concerning a Catholic sportsmen's raffle at a Washington parish in 2003:

[The head of the sportsmen's group] set out to do something about the tattered uniforms of Catholic Youth Organization sports teams. An ordinary raffle might raise $100. But Hyattsville is not far from the Prince George's County Trap and Skeet Center, where gun enthusiasts practice and take lessons. A fundraiser there, with a gun giveaway, might get the kids the support they need.

* * *

The cardinal decided that the sportsmen's group could raise money for St. Jerome's only if the events are not "related in any way to the use or sale of guns."

See? He can set boundaries!

“It’s between the person and God,’’ he said.

Unless icky guns and gun owners are involved. Then he waves the interdict. But, since this just involves a possible Catholic president whose career has helped ensure that the obliteration of human life in the womb is legal at any point during the pregnancy--well, no big whoop. By the way, your eminence: my firearms have killed fewer people (zero) than the abortion doctors John Kerry supports (40,000,000).

Should Kerry or someone in his campaign seek counsel on Catholic protocol? “What they do,’’ he demurred, “is really their business and not mine.’’

Unless the Senator decides to have a gun raffle. Then all bets are off!

No, really--this is the nadir of the Abp's presentation. It's not merely the waffling, the pastoral dodging and so forth--here, the Cardinal goes way beyond in the Surrender Sweepstakes: Not only will he not offer the Senator any counsel on the issue, he says he won't answer the phone if Kerry calls.

Yes, "pathetic" is the best substitute word here. Far from being a recognition of the weakness of the Church following the scandals, it is the continuation of the same gutless bureaucratic mindset.

Shame on him.

The archdiocese has gotten some calls on the subject from rank-and-file Catholics, but he declined to characterize the faithful as a monolith: “Obviously, we run the spectrum in the Catholic Church, from people who feel very annoyed with their politicians to those who are very supportive.’’

Sounds like you've got a fine catechetical department there. The confusion of your flock mirrors that of their shepherd.

On a concluding note: I was in Washington for a conference in August 2002. The conference lasted a week, and the Assumption fell during the middle of it. I had to decide whether to go to a parish in Washington or Arlington. By a quirk of timing, I ended up going to St. Ann's in Arlington.

Thank God.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Actually, they are heroes, Mr. Rooney.

I saw this yesterday, and nearly composed a profanity-laced tirade. As in paint-peeling, f-bomb heavy, hide-the-children-he's-at-it-again material.

It will remain in my head. Fortunately. Apart from the title, it's actually not the worst thing I've read on the subject.

So, instead I'll post a gentler rebuttal.

My brother Doug is a hero.

Period. And so are his buddies.

He joined the Army National Guard for reasons that were never completely clear to anyone but himself. But he remained in it until early 2001, getting an honorable discharge. He was married then, and it cut into his time with his wife and two young children.

Then 19 men hijacked four airliners and killed 3000 Americans. My brother re-upped. He spent six months "guarding" the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron with his Michigan National Guard unit until the Customs Service had new personnel in place. Mostly, he took (and occasionally returned) verbal abuse from Quebecois truckers, and was speechless at the amount of porn coming over from the Great White North. That, and it was tedious.

But at least it kept him away from his family for all but a weekend a month. [Note for the sarcasm-impaired--that was sarcasm.]

However, it provided the opportunity to make contacts with the local head of Customs in Port Huron, who was impressed with his performance and recommended he apply to become an inspector.

Doug applied and was accepted.

He almost didn't go. You see, he would have to be away--completely, as in phone contact only--from his family for four months. First, he had to go to his future duty station in Tacoma, Washington, for an initial orientation, and then down to Georgia for federal law enforcement training.

He called his big brother for advice. I told him to go for it. Yes, it would be hard, but it was a great opportunity to have the law enforcement career he'd always wanted, and the promotion opportunities were second to none.

I don't know if my advice was any kind of cincher, but he went. I really hope not, because as a result of his new career, Doug had to transfer to a unit of the Washington National Guard--the 81st Armored Brigade, based out of Ft. Lewis. The long and short of it is, Doug's former Michigan unit is going to Cuba, and the 81st is in Iraq.

Doug didn't have long to acclimate to his Washington company, but he did with flying colors--antagonizing the REMFs and making friends with the good guys. It was like he'd been with them the whole time. We spent three hours talking about the guys, and there isn't an obvious Audie Murphy in the bunch (then again, Audie wasn't obviously hero material, either). There are shirkers and sticklers, braggers and doers, sharpshooters and guys who are lucky to have feet--pretty much the template of every American army since the Revolution--albeit probably a lot more multi-hued than the guys at Valley Forge could ever have imagined. There's a "big" Samoan (read "big even by Samoan standards") who can one-hand sixty-pound rucksacks long after everyone else is in traction. There's a quiet black NCO who's Sgt. Rock with more melanin (that's a good thing, for those of you not raised on "GI Combat" comics), and the white company prankster who hasn't been fragged because he's consistently hilarious--and good at what he does, to boot.

Did any of them want to go to Iraq? Well, Doug didn't. I can't imagine more than a fistful were actually eager for the opportunity. He certainly didn't mention any. That's what being a citizen soldier is all about--they have jobs and lives outside of Fort Lewis, after all. But not one of them imagined high-tailing it up to British Columbia, either. That's just not what a man does.

Do they understand the ins and outs of the situation in which they have found themselves? Probably not, and certainly not fully--who does? If they do, they'd be the first American army to do so. Lt. Ulysses Grant hated the Mexican War--flatly called it unjust--but went anyway. The Civil War found Billy Yanks and Johnny Rebs grousing about "Mr. Lincoln's War" or "Mr. Davis' War." The war with Spain--why do we need the Phillipines? World War I? Let Europe solve its own problems. World War II--why are we fighting the Germans again? Where is Korea? Vietnam and dominoes? Kuwait--fighting for a sandbar? What's a "Bosnia," anyway?

So Mr. Rooney's five questions would have gotten exactly the same responses in every war America has fought. Remember that Bill Mauldin's "Willie and Joe" emerged in World War II despite a heavy rotation of Capra's "Why We Fight." ["Gimme th' aspirin--I've already got a Purple Heart."]

But, like those who went overseas before them, they went anyway. They serve. They work hard. They live in crappy conditions (just got working AC two weeks ago). They even get along OK with the locals--more or less.

Most importantly, they are in harm's way.

They are no different from any other American army to embark from our shores. All of that is why, just like the troops before them, they are heroes, Mr. Rooney. If Doug and his comrades are not heroes, then none of their predecessors were, either.

And I won't buy that--not at any price.

[Remember these men and their families in your prayers tonight. And pray that the rest come home safely.]

Thursday, April 08, 2004

From my family to yours: Have a Blessed Triduum!

Blogging will be especially sparse over the next few days--although Saturday will likely open up somewhat. We'll see.
This is pretty well how Dale and his daughter's morning starts, too.

With much the same sentiments.

Lileks, on target as usual:

Put paper away. Turn on the TV so Gnat can watch the lugubrious “Dragon Tales,” in which big-headed moppets consort with dragons who can fly despite the obvious insufficiency of their wingspans. It’s all scored with oboe and bassoon and flute, and the music sounds like the bowels of some rich Roman who dined on goat brains and lark thyroid. Every day I hope the show will revolve around the death of the dragons due to some horrible intestinal parasite the moppets bring from their world; every morning I am disappointed.

It is just me, or...

...does Barry Trotz, the Predators' coach, look like a Soviet agricultural minister, or what?

I half-expect him to say something like "Rye harvest better next year after get new tractors to farm" at the postgame press conferences.
I'd say "Break up the Tigers!", but given Dmitri Young's bum leg, I'll pass.

Detroit goes 4-0 for the first time since 1985. Last year, they didn't win their fourth game until May 4.

I can't describe to you how great it is to have a baseball team that's not a late-night joke. I know: it's early.

I'm going to enjoy it anyway.
I'd Hate to See What They Do to Santa at the Christmas Pageant.

Praise the Lord--embarrassing religious news not involving Catholics:

Pennsylvania Assemblies of God church brings us The Passion of the Bunny:

A church trying to teach about the crucifixion of Jesus performed an Easter show with actors whipping the Easter bunny and breaking eggs, upsetting several parents and young children.

People who attended Saturday's performance at Glassport's memorial stadium quoted performers as saying, "There is no Easter bunny," and described the show as being a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified.

* * *

Patty Bickerton, the youth minister at Glassport Assembly of God (search), said the performance wasn't meant to be offensive. Bickerton portrayed the Easter rabbit and said she tried to act with a tone of irreverence.

"The program was for all ages, not just the kids. We wanted to convey that Easter is not just about the Easter bunny, it is about Jesus Christ," Bickerton said.

Performers broke eggs meant for an Easter egg hunt and also portrayed a drunken man and a self-mutilating woman, said Jennifer Norelli-Burke, another parent who saw the show in Glassport, a community about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Thurible Chronic.

Pot growing priest pleads guilty. Insert your own punchline.

"Duuuuude, I'm telling ya--that incense is giving me a serious case of the munchies..."

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Kerry. Again.

Kerry's candidacy and faith keep intersecting. Count on it to continue through November. Yesterday's New York Times documents the latest example.

Mr. Kerry became combative when told that some conservatives were criticizing him for being a Roman Catholic who supported policies, like abortion rights and same-sex unions, that are at odds with Catholic teaching.

"Who are they?" he demanded of his questioner. "Name them. Are they the same legislators who vote for the death penalty, which is in contravention of Catholic teaching?"

He added: "I'm not a church spokesman. I'm a legislator running for president. My oath is to uphold the Constitution of the United States in my public life. My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am. And it is separate. Our constitution separates church and state, and they should be reminded of that."

Mr. Kerry apparently meant John XXIII, as there is no Pius XXIII.

Time to bust out the stick.

Mr. Kerry became combative when told that some conservatives were criticizing him for being a Roman Catholic who supported policies, like abortion rights and same-sex unions, that are at odds with Catholic teaching.

Well, you know, the truth hurts.

And, say what you will about the NYT, at least the editor let the acknowledgement that Kerry's out of step with the church slide through without any weasel qualifiers.

"Who are they?" he demanded of his questioner.

"I have a list...."

"Name them."

"...of 205 known critics of John Kerry's Catholicism inside the State Department."

Actually, the question simply mentioned "conservatives," not "legislators" per se. It might be a tad inconvenient to point out the distinction, but it's there, unfortunately. Which is especially important, given all that we all know about how badly the Senator handles inconveniences, too.

Anyway, here's a good place to start looking for critics.

Are they the same legislators who vote for the death penalty, which is in contravention of Catholic teaching?"

You mean, like, er--you?

Then again, the position on capital punishment is somewhat less ironclad than the stance on abortion. As you very well don't know. Compare the following paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church--2267 with 2270. Note the difference between "rare" and "absolutely."

What? Oh, it's that blue and white book in the Religion section at Borders. Costs eight bucks.

Says "Catechism."

"Of The Catholic Church."

No, it's not "near the tantric books." You're thinking of a Jesuit bookstore.

Go to the "Christianity" section. When you see Bibles, you're red hot.

Bibles. You know, Jewish and Christian scriptures, frequently bound in leather, gold print on the spines?

Yes, "those." Look, just call me when you see one.

He added: "I'm not a church spokesman.

True, but consider this, Senator--you have all the skills of another Dodgin' Tod Tamberg, right down to the ignorance of Catholic teaching and complaints about criticism.

The more I think about it, Senator, the more I believe you have a future in diocesan bureaucracy. You just need to apply yourself.

"I'm a legislator running for president. My oath is to uphold the Constitution of the United States in my public life."

Which would be wonderfully schizoid if you weren't so selective about what parts of your faith you leave at the church door on Sunday.

"My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII"

John Kerry, sedevacantist. And boy, are they burning up the anti-popes these days, or what? Last I'd heard, they were only up to Pius XIII, way out in his lodge in Unabomber country. I really must keep up.

"and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am."

Yes, the ol' conscience dodge, easily parried by pointing out that it has to be a formed conscience. I mean, the law had a problem with noted gourmand and man-about-town Jeffrey Dahmer following his conscience.

Such as it was.

More significantly, this is a significant "development" in Kerry's Catholicism that no one else seems to have noticed. Previously, he said he was "personally opposed, but...", a/k/a the "Granholm Manuever." Now he's claiming his conscience lets him stand in opposition to the Church. Very interesting....

Senator, no one's asking you to establish a Catholic theocracy with yourself as the most Thurston Howellish-Torquemada in history, so stop trying to hunt with the dog named Wall. Nope. We'd just like an explanation of why you let some Catholic beliefs inform your public stances and not others. For instance, how do you reconcile your faith with a refusal to protect those unborn children the mothers want to keep, for starters?

[Thanks to Otto for the Chicago Tribune link.]

"Is it a boy or a girl?"


The tentative ultrasound result (couch in terms of "I think...looks like," etc.) said boy.

The heart rate (which was consistently accurate for the first two) says girl.

My gut instinct--right for Maddie, wrong for D3--also says girl.

Place your bets here!

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

We feel happy! We feel happy!

Contrary to a certain semi-official chronicler, our joint blog has not fallen asleep. We've tried to post there recently, and it appears that technical difficulties are thwarting us. We'll be putting together a new blogsite by the weekend, and rolling out updates on a weekly basis.

After all, we're going house-hunting (be vewy, vewy quiet) this summer. The possibilities for hilarity are nearly endless.
Time to wake up!'

The 80 game process by which the National Hockey League weeds out approximately half its teams is now officially over.

In the first round, our men in red face off against the team from that hockey hotbed of...Nashville.

Remembered mostly for being the capital of country music and the site of the greatest rout in the War for the Union, the fact Nashville has a franchise in the NHL is the source of much wailing and gnashing of teeth in such places as Winnipeg and Hamilton.

Prediction: Nashville's a speedy team, but small. The grinding NHL game slows down even more in the playoffs, as the referees inexplicably misplace their whistles. Wings in six.

For my part, I'll be spending more time than usual watching the Eastern Conference matchups--Boston-Montreal, Toronto-Ottawa, Philadelphia-NJ. Potential classics aplenty.
The Tigers are above .500!

For the first time since April 2001.

No, really.

Tells you how bad things are in these parts.

The lads did it in fine fashion to boot, smoking the Jays and their Cy Young winner, 7 to naught. Pudge even got a dinger.

Something tells me it isn't going to get a whole lot better than this. Consider this fact: if the Tigers win 70 games (27 more than last year), they will own the record for the best single-season improvement in the history of MLB.
Tom Fitzpatrick continues his yeoman's work on behalf of the American Society for the Promotion of Angioplasty.

More recipes--soup to nuts, literally.

Also, Easter egging and periodic meditations about the BoSox. Is he on your daily visit list yet?

Motorcycling Through Hell.

The daughter of a Ukrainian physicist makes periodic tours through the Chernobyl dead zone. This time, she took pictures.

You won't be able to look away. The pictures of the abandoned city of Pripyat, with the laundry still hanging from balconies and the mail untouched in boxes will chill and haunt you. Note the abandoned fire trucks near the plant.

They responded first to the disaster. That firemen are heedless of their own safety is a fact that crosses cultural lines.

Among other chilling facts: the Chernobyl plant is still operational, although the concrete "sarcophagus" containing the leak is crumbling badly.

[Thanks to Dom for the link.]

Friday, April 02, 2004

Between the Old Paganism and the New, I'll Take the Old.

[Language Alert--one bad word deployed below. You've been warned.]

Old Paganism was free of cant.

Permit me to borrow Peter Kreeft's definitions, and note that I'm not referring to Wicca, etc.--actual religious paganism. The latter more closely resembles Old Paganism, which, as Kreeft notes, had a lot worth acknowledging. I know some doggedly pro-life Wiccans, for starters.

No, the New Paganism acknowledges nothing but man, and nothing beyond him. However, it shares one vital tenet with the Old: If society says you do not count, you do not count.

Consider this letter from a Roman pagan named Hilarion to his pregnant wife, Alis, in the year 1 B.C.:

Know that I am still in Alexandria. And do not worry if they all come back and I remain in Alexandria. I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I receive payment I shall send it up to you. If you are delivered of a child [before I come home], if it is a boy keep it, if a girl discard it. You have sent me word, "Don't forget me." How can I forget you? I beg you not to worry.

Quoted in Rodney Stark's The Rise of Christianity (Princeton University Press 1996), pp. 97-98. Ponder the chilling third sentence, blunt as it is, nestled in the midst of obvious loving concern for wife and son. Hilarion was a Roman paterfamilias, the father as head--more accurately, god--of the family, legally able to do with the other members as he wished. Alis' feelings on the matter meaning precisely bupkis. If you ever wonder at the common phenomenon of convinced pagan men marrying Christian women in Roman times, wonder no longer: pagan girls were in short supply.

As horrific as Hilarion's words are, at least he does not try to hide behind a cloud of euphemism or evasion to deny the obvious. If the little woman has a girl--sorry, don't want one. She has to die. Hilarion doesn't try to justify himself with a clump of buzzwords or feigned bafflement.

Compare Hilarion to Dr. Leroy Carhart:

This [partial birth abortion ban] act covers every D[ilation] & E[xtraction] that I did," Carhart said. "Everything that I do to cause an abortion is an overt act."

Carhart said at least once a month, an entire fetus is expelled from the mother during a D&E he is performing. "The fetuses are alive at the time of delivery," he said. There is a heartbeat "very frequently."

I urge you to peruse the D&E link first. Don't be afraid, it's just Anthony Kennedy's dissenting Supreme Court opinion in Carhart's challenge to the Nebraska partial birth abortion ban, and explains the good doctor's credentials (he has no hospital privileges anywhere in the U.S.) and trade (abortions done any time during the pregnancy). I'll wait here while you do. Take your time.

All done? Good. Now, normally, you might think that if you dismember a living baby after it becomes entirely free from the woman's body, you'd get the gas pipe. So would Dr. Carhart, if he grabbed a baby out of a stroller on the streets of Omaha and did so, even with Mom's consent.

But inside his clinic, anything goes, because he throws up chaff like "choice," "health," "procedure," "D&E," and--most importantly, "fetus." We can almost admire Hilarion--he was ordering his wife to kill a "girl," not a "fetus." No euphemistic bullshit there. Hell, Hil probably would have vomited at what Carhart does--all he was asking Alis to do was expose his daughter to the elements, not shred her.

[FYI Fun Fact! As between Dr. Carhart and the "fetus'" father, Dr. Carhart is the only one with legal standing to say anything about the process.]

Next, consider Dr. Maureen Paul, another licensed caregiver:

In San Francisco, a chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood testified that she chooses methods of abortion that violate the new law because they are among the safest options.

Asked by a government lawyer whether the fetus exhibits pain during the procedures, Maureen Paul replied, "I have no idea what you mean."

Sure. And I have no idea why Mr. Hand is turning into Mr. Fist. Again, Hilarion didn't try the mushroom treatment with Alis. "She won't feel a thing, honey--she's a newborn. It's like going to sleep." Nope, none of that twaddle.

"Discard it."

Then again, the above examples demonstrate how the New Paganism is smarter than the Old. The Old approach really wouldn't work with our squeamish society. At least not yet. Euphemistic dodges help people rationalize the unthinkable, and even perform it. Under the Old, Alis had to acquiese in her husband's decision to destroy her child. However, the New has convinced Alis that she has an unfettered "right" to do so, and what's more, she can pay Drs. Carhart and Moss a few grand for the privilege of playing the discard.

All she has to do is march every January in the anniversary celebration of that "right" and vote to protect the medical paterfamilias who want to flush her daughter as they see fit.


A rough stretch.

  Forgive the vagueness and ambiguity, but I am going through a tough patch at the moment. July was full-stop awful, and August, while bette...