Friday, May 29, 2009

I do have thoughts on the active thread(s) below.


Just nothing I have time for now.

One quick question: Are the stats in the progressive's essay (leaving aside the hyperbole) even slightly accurate?

TEC-tual healing, oh baby...

Miami's Fr. Oprah pulls the ripcord and jines the Piskies.

Here he stan--...uh, whoops...never mind.

He's going to have to do something really interesting before he's considered miter material, though.

Not so BTW, a hearty round of applause for all the priests who adhere to their vows with honor. I appreciate it, and I know I'm not alone.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Towards a pro-family economics.

Or, "what social conservatives need to learn from economic progressives."

Much food for thought in this essay.

Many at FPR will probably agree with me that the cultural politics of “family values,” dominated by an anti-liberal narrative built around opposition to abortion, gay rights, and extreme church-state separationism, has failed to protect families broadly in our polity despite significant electoral success in recent decades. Of course, our most vocal and influential religious leaders have long argued that the family is under attack by a liberal “culture of death.” I agree that there is, in fact, a culture of death, but I diagnose it differently. For one thing, I would point to America’s advanced-world leadership in state executions and imprisonment, gun violence, substance abuse, gambling, and violent entertainment in order to more fully illustrate the thesis.

No religious person can seriously deny that many aspects of American culture threaten family life and the common humanity that binds families together in communities and as a citizenry. I agree that some “social issues” and related policies have weakened family life and coarsened American culture imprudently if not unjustly, and I support recent progressive efforts to develop “common ground” on reducing abortion, strengthening marriage, and developing a new moral regime of bioethical regulation. These efforts reflect a significant evolution beyond the culture wars of the past. Yet even as we begin to establish more common ground on these important social issues, a much bigger threat, pressing deeper and deeper against the structure and very cohesion of family life, has gone unchecked for decades and threatens us on a massive scale.

That threat, of course, is the American brand of unregulated free-market capitalism—an economic power structure in which families grow more and more vulnerable and unstable even as the drive to commodify family functions and consumerize children and young adults erodes the moral and psychological well-being of our home lives, removing the last significant counterweight to raw acquisitive market forces and selfish greed.

What happened to America? The most basic trends are well-known among analysts and increasingly understood in public opinion: we’ve experienced a massive upward redistribution of assets, income, and security, leaving perhaps eighty percent of American households with little or no stake in the appreciating wealth of our society and none of the stability that comes with sufficient assets, good jobs, and a strong social safety net for when things go wrong. The average family is working more hours, for lower wages and fewer benefits, with less security and less public support in times of need. On average our children and our elders are the least well-supported such dependents in the advanced world.

The profound underlying weaknesses of too little earning power and too much consumer debt, already increasingly clear in the aftermath of 9/11, set the stage for the implosion of our economy as massive financial losses closed off the spigot of easy credit that had sustained the country for more than a decade. The slow unfolding catastrophe began in the mid-1990s, when both political parties agreed, essentially, to let good jobs disappear in America. Instead a developing a new jobs- and wage-policy to shore up working families against globalization, our political leaders took the easy way out by replacing real buying power with financial engineering and easy credit. As any middle-school math student could have predicted, they brought the whole system down by piling debt on top of falling wages. And yet, even as most of the day-to-day risk in our economy has been steadily shifted from government and employers to families and individuals, the government is now spending trillions of dollars in new public debt to cover Wall Street’s losses on mortgage debt and other consumer debt, compounding globalization’s downward wage pressures with fiscal burdens we’ve never seen before.

Hat tip to Rod Dreher for the find.

Brief thoughts on Judge Sotomayor.

My legal analyst is Feddie Dillard, and when he talks, I listen.

Take a listen here.

I'll only add that there's a critical difference between picking your fights and picking a fight. By all measures, the judge is qualified, is replacing a fairly reliable liberal vote and is the best possible candidate under the circumstances. Add to this a decent record on religious liberty issues.

Oh, and her "infamous" quote appears to be lacking crucial context.

So, in other words, fighting Judge Sotomayor is fighting the wrong nominee, in the wrong place, and at the wrong time.

Other than that, fix bayonets and charge, lads.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The abyss.

The report on abuse of children--thousands of them--in the Church-run schools of Ireland is hellish beyond description.

Here it is in full.

From the concluding comments:

More than 90% of all witnesses reported being physically abused while in out-of-home care. In addition to being hit and beaten witnesses described other forms of abuse such as being flogged, kicked and otherwise physically assaulted, scalded, burned and held under water. Witnesses reported being beaten publicly in front of other staff, residents, patients and pupils as well as in private. Many reports were heard of witnesses being beaten naked and partially clothed, both in private and in front of others. They reported being beaten and physically assaulted with implements that were for the specific purpose of inflicting pain and punishment, such as leather straps, bamboo canes and wooden sticks. In addition, witnesses gave evidence that everyday implements were routinely utilised for the purpose of striking children. Witnesses described pervasive abuse as part of their daily lives.

Physical abuse was reported to have been perpetrated by religious and lay staff, older residents and others who were associated with the schools and institutions. Detailed accounts were heard of injuries received as a result of physical assaults perpetrated by staff in the institutions, including broken bones, head injuries and lacerations that required medical treatment and hospitalisation. Witnesses consistently commented on the fact that nobody spoke to them or enquired about the cause of their injuries and that efforts were made to conceal injuries.

Sexual abuse was reported by more than half of all the witnesses. Acute and chronic contact and non-contact sexual abuse was reported, including vaginal and anal rape, molestation and voyeurism, in both isolated assaults and on a regular basis over long periods of time. The secret nature of sexual abuse was repeatedly emphasised as facilitating its occurrence. Both residential and day settings provided opportunities for perpetrators of sexual abuse to assault children in the absence of adequate supervision and through the failure of individuals and organisations to recognise potential risk to children.

Witnesses reported being sexually abused by religious and lay staff in the schools and institutions and by co-residents and others, including professionals, both within and external to the institutions. They also reported being sexually abused by members of the general public, including volunteer workers, visitors, work placement employers, foster parents, and others who had unsupervised contact with residents in the course of everyday activities. Sexual abuse was reported to have occurred both within the institutions and when children were taken away for excursions, holidays or to work for others.

Disclosing sexual abuse generally provoked disbelief and further abuse. Witnesses who disclosed sexual abuse were subjected to severe recrimination by those who had responsibility for their care and protection. Female witnesses described, at times, being told they were responsible for the sexual abuse they experienced, by both their abuser and those to whom they disclosed abuse.

Neglect was frequently described by witnesses in the context of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Neglect of a child’s care and welfare occurred both in the form of what was done to them by those who were responsible for their care and what they failed to do to protect and nurture them. Lack of adequate food, warmth, clothing, health care, hygiene and recreation are indicators of neglect of the care of children. Failure to provide for their safety, education and development are further indicators of neglect about which the Committee heard many reports, and which had implications for health, employment, social and economic status in later life.

Emotional abuse was also reported by witnesses in the form of lack of attachment and affection, loss of identity, deprivation of family contact, humiliation, personal denigration, exposure to fear and the threat of harm. Furthermore, many witnesses recalled the devastating emotional impact and feeling of powerlessness associated with observing their co-residents, siblings or others being abused. This trauma was acute for those who were forced to participate in such incidents.

Awareness of the abuse of children in schools and institutions was believed to exist within society at both official and unofficial levels. Professionals, including Government Inspectors, medical practitioners, and teachers had a role in relation to various aspects of children’s welfare while they were in schools and institutions. Local people were employed in most of the residential facilities as professional, care and ancillary staff. In addition, members of the public had contact with children in out-of-home care in the course of providing services to the institutions both at a formal and informal level. Witnesses commented that while many of those people were aware that life for children in the schools and institutions was difficult they failed to take action to protect them.

Contemporary complaints were made to the GardaĆ­, the Department of Education and others by witnesses, their parents and relatives, generally in the aftermath of an injury, when visible marks of a beating were observed or when a child who had run away was being returned to a children’s home, reformatory or industrial school. GardaĆ­ were at times reported to request leniency on the child’s behalf when they were returned, in the knowledge that absconders were harshly treated.

Children with intellectual, physical and sensory impairments and children who had no known family contact were especially vulnerable in institutional settings. They described being powerless against adults who abused them, especially when those adults were in positions of authority and trust. Impaired mobility and communication deficits made it impossible to inform others of their abuse or to resist it. Children who were unable to hear, see, speak, move or adequately express themselves were at a complete disadvantage in environments that did not recognise or facilitate their right to be heard.

The enduring impact of childhood abuse was described by many witnesses who, while reporting that as adults they enjoyed good relationships and successful careers, had learned to live with their traumatic memories. Many other witnesses reported that their adult lives were blighted by childhood memories of fear and abuse. They gave accounts of troubled relationships and loss of contact with their siblings, extended families and with their own children. They also described lives marked by poverty, social isolation, alcoholism, mental illness, sleep disturbance, aggressive behaviour and self harm.

Seventy percent (70%) of witnesses reported receiving no second-level education and, while many witnesses reported having successful careers in business and professional fields, the majority of witnesses heard by the Committee reported being in manual and unskilled work for their entire working lives.

There is no running from this or excusing it. Somehow, if possible, it is imperative that some manner of justice and restitution be rendered to the victims and their memories.

If it's still possible.

Revealing the names of abusers would be a small start.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seinfeldian Catholicism.

The Church of "Not That There's Anything Wrong With That."

Or, Would You Mind Removing the Dagger of Christian Fellowship From Between My Shoulder Blades, Thanks?

America Magazine offers its diagnosis of the problem with Obama being given an honorary degree at Notre Dame. And, in a shocking twist, the real problem is the group of unwashed hooligans who made the Baby Jenkins cry.

"The clouds roll with thunder, the House of the Lord shall be built throughout the earth, and these frogs sit in their marsh and croak—'We are the only Christians!'" So wrote St. Augustine about the Donatists, a perfectionist North African sect that attempted to keep the church free of contamination by having no truck with Roman officialdom.

And, we're off--to a very, very bad start. As in First--and file this away for later--note that the editorialist starts off with an accusation of heresy. Then compare it to the Kumbaya ending.

The second problem is that it is a stupid analogy. The Donatists didn't have a problem with those "having truck with Roman officialdom." The Donatists had a problem with those clerics who had caved in to Roman persecution, giving up the sacred books ("traditors," from which the term "traitor" is derived) and generally selling out the faithful.


Anyway, the Donatists challenged the ability of clerics who had given in to the Romans to administer the sacraments after the persecution ended. St. Augustine rightly fought against that. It's not remotely the same situation as complaining about festooning public officials with honors and platforms, but it makes for a handy self-righteous label, so why not?

Oh, and the Church fought the Donatists with repeated condemnations by popes and councils, so the analogy really sucks wind if you have the slightest grasp of Google. Moving on.

In the United States today, self-appointed watchdogs of orthodoxy, like Randall Terry and the Cardinal Newman Society, push mightily for a pure church quite unlike the mixed community of saints and sinners—the Catholic Church—that Augustine championed. Like the Circumcellions of old, they thrive on slash-and-burn tactics; and they refuse to allow the church to be contaminated by contact with certain politicians.

Except, of course, that that's not what Donatism was about. And why the fearbabe references to noted publicity whore Randall Terry, and, not, say, to Bishop D'Arcy of South Bend, or one of 70 or so of his colleagues? Gosh, this wouldn't be an exercise in well-poisoning now, would it?

Oh, and the Circumcellion (see above link for details) reference is a nice touch, given that group's propensity for physical violence. I guess I should be thankful that the editorialist didn't make a reference to the Taliban.

For today’s sectarians, it is not adherence to the church’s doctrine on the evil of abortion that counts for orthodoxy, but adherence to a particular political program and fierce opposition to any proposal short of that program. They scorn Augustine’s inclusive, forgiving, big-church Catholics,

Who positively carpet-bombed the Donatists with condemnations, excommunications, mandatory penances and denials of communion, not to mention calling in the Emperor to drop the legal hammer, who imposed confiscatory fines and exile. But ignore the historical record--we have a narrative to push here.

who will not know which of them belongs to the City of God until God himself separates the tares from the wheat. Their tactics, and their attitudes, threaten the unity of the Catholic Church in the United States, the effectiveness of its mission and the credibility of its pro-life activities.

Well, of course. There's no provocation here, none whatsoever. Aside from honoring the most explicitly pro-abortion President we've ever had. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Apparently. It certainly doesn't compare to making Catholic university administrators uncomfortable, at least in the editorialist's mind.

The sectarians’ targets are frequently Catholic universities and Catholic intellectuals who defend the richer, subtly nuanced, broad-tent Catholic tradition.

So, that's what they call the screaming flight from Ex Corde Ecclesiae these days. Lest we forget, the broad tent encompasses such time-honored elements of the Catholic tradition as annual royalty payments to third-rate playwrights, internships at abortion clinics, supporting ESCR, encouraging cohabitation, and cutting theology programs. To name but five things defended by our smart set.

From the peanut gallery, that looks less like a big tent than a lunatic asylum. Then again, I haven't had years of modern Catholic education to help me suss these things out.

Here's the problem with that rich, broad tent: there are no walls. Catholic universities have let every cultural wind blow into the tent for the past two generations, taking stands only after taking cues from the zeitgeist first. All the while intoning "not that there's anything wrong with that" when faced with something that actually might implicate a Catholic witness to the world contrary to something held dear by their secular liberal pals.

If they actually start telling them no--there is something wrong with that--once in a while, I'll take their self-certified clean bill of Catholic health seriously.

Their most recent target has been the University of Notre Dame and its president, John Jenkins, C.S.C., who has invited President Barack Obama to offer the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at this year’s graduation.

Poor fellow. Given how above board and forthright he was about this from the start, it's a true injustice.

Pope Benedict XVI has modeled a different attitude toward higher education. In 2008, the pope himself was prevented from speaking at Rome’s La Sapienza University by the intense opposition of some doctrinaire scientists. The Vatican later released his speech, in which he argued that "freedom from ecclesiastical and political authorities” is essential to the university’s "special role" in society. He asked, "What does the pope have to do or say to a university?" And he answered, "He certainly should not try to impose in an authoritarian manner his faith on others."

I am at a loss as to how to characterize this section. "Misleading" fits, in the same sense calling a bundle of TNT a "noisemaker" fits. Here's the actual speech by the Pope, which was prepared specifically for La Sapienza, an explicitly secular, not Catholic, university. This is the section from which the quotes have been cribbed:

I am moved, on this occasion, to express my gratitude for the invitation extended to me to come to your university to deliver an address to you. In this perspective, I first of all asked myself the question: What can a pope say on an occasion like this? In my lecture in Regensburg, I indeed spoke as pope, but I spoke above all in the guise of a former professor of the university, seeking to connect memory and the present. But at the university "La Sapienza", the ancient university of Rome, I have been invited as "Bishop of Rome", and so I must speak in this capacity. Of course, "La Sapienza" was once the pope's university, but today it is a secular university with that autonomy which, on the basis of its founding principles, has always been part of the nature of the university, which must always be exclusively bound to the authority of the truth. In its freedom from political and ecclesiastical authorities, the university finds its special role, and in modern society as well, which needs institutions of this nature.

* * *

And so let me go back to the initial point. What does the Pope have to do or say in a university? He certainly should not try to impose in an authoritarian manner his faith on others, which can only be freely offered. Beyond his ministry as Pastor of the Church and on the basis of the intrinsic nature of this pastoral ministry, it is his task to keep alive man’s responsiveness to the truth. Similarly he must again and always invite reason to seek out truth, goodness and God, and on this path urge it to see the useful lights that emerged during the history of the Christian faith and perceive Jesus Christ as the light that illuminates history and helps find the way towards the future.

Faux-ultramontanism is all the rage these days. But the disingenuous chutzpa of trying to use the La Sapienza speech to defend actions in a Catholic university deserves some kind of award. It is, in fact, pure bullshit.

The divisive effects of the new American sectarians have not escaped the notice of the Vatican. Their highly partisan political edge has become a matter of concern.

For the folks at America, I have no doubt it is a matter of deepest concern. As to the Vatican...well, some actual, you know, quotes from someone in a position of authority would be nice. The faux-ultramontanist readings of cherry-picked L'Osservatore Romano articles and Vatican "silence" are getting pretty tiresome.

That they never demonstrate the same high dudgeon at the compromises, unfulfilled promises and policy disagreements with Republican politicians as with Democratic ones is plain for all to see. It is time to call this one-sided denunciation by its proper name: political partisanship.

The trouble is, the partisanship argument (again, unsupported by actual examples) cuts both ways, and the reflexive special pleading on behalf of Democrats should be called by its proper name: political partisanship.

See how easy--and empty--that is?

Pope Benedict XVI has also modeled a different stance toward independent-minded politicians. He has twice reached out to President Obama and offered to build on the common ground of shared values. Even after the partially bungled visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Pope Benedict, Vatican officials worked quickly to repair communication with her.

Behold the special pleading and the cherry picking. They assert that Pelosi's trip was bungled because...they need it to be. For the Narrative. The Pope's denial of a photo-op to Pelosi and the instant release of his remarks to her speak louder than newspaper articles and supposedly-portentious "silence."

Furthermore, in participating in the international honors accorded New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson in Rome last month for outlawing the death penalty (See Signs of the Times, 5/4), Pope Benedict did not flinch at appearing with a politician who does not agree fully with the church’s policy positions. When challenged about the governor’s imperfect pro-life credentials, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe responded on point, "We were able to help him understand our position on the death penalty.... One thing at a time."

"Imperfect pro-life credentials." The editorialist has a future in the law, no doubt.
Indeed, a guy who voted twice against the prohibition of ramming scissors into the skull of a partially delivered baby could be said to have "imperfect pro-life credentials." Here he is again, bewailing the ban on the campaign trail. Sounds like you have a long ways to go, Abp. Sheehan. But keep us updated, if you will.

As an aside, it must have been hard work getting a liberal Democrat to buck the fearsome death penalty lobby within his party, as exemplified by NERAL (the National Executioners' Rights Action League).

In all seriousness, it is asinine wordsmithing like this that raises red flags in the minds of pro-lifers--as in the ones who actually put time and money toward the effort. If you can't bring yourself to name the problem, you are part of it. Not only will your professed fealty be questioned, it is, by nature, questionable. Your "yes" means "mfrmrml" and your "no" means "mfrmrml."

Rather like UND's professed devotion to pro-life witness, in fact.

Finally, last March the pro-choice French president Nicolas Sarkozy was made an honorary canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the pope’s own cathedral.

Hoo, boy. This card has been played so much over the past month it is showing scorch marks.

I'll see your $2 and raise you $400: the person smugly playing this card has no clue what French abortion laws actually are. Here you go: only in the first 10 weeks, and after that only if certified by two physicians that there is a grave risk to the woman's mental or physical health.

Ask the President if he'd be willing to sign on to that kind of legislative scheme in place of what we have now. Here's a hint: NARAL would ask for his scalp if he proposed it.

In other words, the analogy compares apples to pomegranates on the legal system alone. France's abortion laws are, compared to the rest of Europe and especially the U.S., models of considered sobriety. Then there's the actual records of the two politicians in question--it doesn't appear that Sarko has ever opposed health care for infants who survive the chop shop thingy. I don't know about you, but that should be a mark in his favor.

And now, for the anti-Donatist tonic.

Four steps are necessary for the U.S. church to escape the strengthening riptide of sectarian conflict and re-establish trust between universities and the hierarchy.

Interesting formulation--it's just a clash between the hierarchy and the "elite" schools. Nothing whatsoever is owed to the Church as a whole, which makes for a telling window on the aggrieved mindset.

Care to guess whether there is any reciprocity involved--whether the universities have any responsibilities owed back to anybody else? You know the answer.

First, the bishops’ discipline about speakers and awards at Catholic institutions should be narrowed to exclude from platforms and awards only those Catholics who explicitly oppose formal Catholic teaching.

Which has the intended side-effect of "sectarianizing" the issue of abortion. Nah, the pro-life position can't be derived from natural reason--it's just a Catholic thing.

Nicely played, America.

Oh, and by the way--no. Note the continued word weaseling: "only those Catholics who explicitly oppose formal Catholic teaching." Nope--can't pilot a zeppelin through that one.

From the stuck-pig scream of the editorial, I'm thinking that only those Catholics who fail to genuflect before the Land O' Lakes Statement are subject to the suggested modification.

Second, in politics we must reaffirm the distinction between the authoritative teaching of moral principles and legitimate prudential differences in applying principles to public life.

More fudge. Mackinaw City is going to get nervous. Given the loophole in the first one, suspicion is warranted here. Frankly, the so-called elite Catholic universities' "application" of said principles usually involve distancing themselves from those fighting on the ground, where they aren't actively complaining about or trying to thwart them. Exhibit A--this editorial.

The fact is, trust has to be earned. Try pitching in instead of bitching on, and on, and on... Try showing the Catholic flag for once instead of saying "personally opposed" and "not that there's anything wrong with that."

Third, all sides should return to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI that in politics there are usually several ways to attain the same goals.

Fine sounding words. But ultimately empty, as they often break down in practice, especially where one side is fighting to change the legal landscape and the other side is carrying water for the status quo. There's no downloadable patch for this problem.

Finally, church leaders must promote the primacy of charity among Catholics who advocate different political options. For as the council declared, "The bonds which unite the faithful are mightier than anything which divides them" ("Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World," No. 92).

Here, we finish with a proffered olive branch.

Right in the ol' retina.

Yes, let us join together in a circle of Christian love--good people like us and benighted, divisive, embarrassing, bullying Donatist-Circumcellion jerks like you that we are working at cross-purposes with. Thanks, America, for the Tall-Fingered Sign of Peace. I'd shake hands, but you know--the swine flu and all.

Monday, May 18, 2009

In the wake of the commencement at UND.

I didn't see the speech--we had lots of other things to do, frankly.

And I really didn't expect any substantial extension of the hand from the President, so why bother? In this, I was not disappointed.

Oh, sure--it reads nicely enough, and I have no doubt the delivery made it even more effective.

But there was no there there. Here's the "dialogic" part:

So let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.

Here's the thing: he holds all the cards. It would have been a perfect moment to put his considerable clout behind Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis' Pregnant Women Support Act. Instead, we get the increasingly-stale anecdote about changing his website in response to a pro-life reader's complaint. Great--not demonized and ignored--just ignored.

Super. Yes, we can.

And there was one subtle rhetorical burr:

Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved.

What's the problem with that, you may be asking? It's simple: it posits opponents of ESCR as heartless defenders of an abstract principle in the face of suffering. Despite, you know, the fact that the President himself closed off federal support for pluripotent stem cell research back in January, for reasons which remain unexplained. What possible principle sustains that decision?

Still, the President has his principles and non-negotiables, and it is difficult for me to get exorcised at him in the same way I would were he Catholic.

Which brings me to the students and administration at UND.

Some are deeply disappointed with the rapturous reception given to the President's remarks. I can understand that reaction, but I am at a loss as to why it should be surprising.

Here I'm going to come across as dismissive and high-handed, but I speak from experience: what can you expect from your college students at an expensive private university, even one that wears a Christian denominational label?

American colleges and universities are the best prolongers of adolescence western civilization has ever produced. You have an adult's frame, coupled with a teenager's know-it-all mindset and none of the responsibilities that will be thrust upon you until after you get the parchment. Those who manage to buck that trend and behave like actual adults are in a distinct, if laudable, minority. In the meantime, you've been raised in a celebrity-worshipping environment which encourages soundbite thinking and clever pop-culture references and one liners. There's a reason the alumni reacted much more coldly to the event--they've settled down, grown up, seen the ultrasounds and held their own children. Couple this with a university that genuflects before the idol of academic freedom (the most jealous of gods), and my advice is not to blame the students who cheered mindlessly, but to praise the ones who have grown up faster.

Which brings me to the management of UND, who acted like the institution was the South Bend Catholic Conference Center: with this trajectory, rest assured that if any of my kids want to go to UND, they'll be paying their own way. Better to go, say, to a Michigan State and fence with gleeful, open secularists than to get blackjacked by a nominal co-religionist with the same agenda.

The football will be better, too.

Funny. Cringe-inducing, but funny.

Andrew Breitbart offers up a personal story on the dangers of counter-protesting.

And here's the link he's referring to.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Disinfectant E-Mail Rule.

From here on out, if you write me something like the missive which starts the post here, it will be published in full on this blog. Along with your email address, which I'll refrain from--for the moment.

You see, I owe twerpy e-mailers precisely squat.

Enjoy the sunlight.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

So much for the spendathon.

Looks like the Chinese aren't in the market for bonds these days.

If you are unwilling to exercise fiscal discipline yourself, it will be imposed upon you. Period.

It is unutterably pleasant...

to try to argue with people who refuse to read and can't bring themselves to acknowledge a counterpoint.

Relaxing, even.

The insults are just the maraschino.

So--how was your day?

This is likely a complete waste of time, but also necessary.

This is Mikey Iafrate, indispensible contributor to the joint blog I'm sparring with, getting douche-y after I tried to treat him like an adult six months ago:

Dearest Dale: "Genuine line of communication," eh?

You are a coward, pal, and nothing but.


*I'm* the coward, but he wrote that from Toronto. Projection! And for some reason he thinks I'm honor bound to keep it a secret.

Teenagers. But enough about him.

OK. This is MM at Vox Nova.

Naturally, the only logical conclusion one could derive from my defense of the custom of the bride walking down the aisle with her father is this:

"The implication is clear--the others aren't really Americans after all, are they?"

I can't speak for the implications MM's mind conjures up (bonus points for creativity, though), but, no, it really isn't.

MM's original post spoke to the American ("our culture," as he stated) custom of the bride walking down the aisle with her father. Which MM continues to read in the most sinister light possible, before going Andrew Sullivan on us and bringing Sarah Palin into the analysis. Frankly, it's impossible to respond to, save on one rather important point, so I won't bother.

The remainder of this post is a response to VN contributor Katerina, who asked a thoughtful, good faith question in my comboxes.

First, I didn't say anything--as in zero--about Filipino and Latino customs. Really--please re-read it again. That was the work of a VN contributor. What I was reacting to is MM's unquestioning acceptance of other cultures' customs being included.

Which brings me to this rather important point, which I feel compelled to shout, given the circumstances: I EXPLICITLY STATED THAT I HAVE NO OBJECTION TO CULTURAL CUSTOMS OF ANY ORIGIN BEING ADDED TO THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY. I even included the Santa Fe Archdiocesan link as support. Oh, and by the way--the Santa Fe Archdiocese separates out "Hispanic wedding rituals." I'm sure they'd be delighted with MM's scattershot dudgeon.

MM knew this when he posted his follow-up. Which makes his implication about me being some kind of nativist slanderous.

Isn't that a problem? Unless you are saying that if a VN blogger does it, that's OK.

It's morally certain that my original post was "not conducive to dialogue." But, in all honesty, how serious of a concern is that? Tarbrushing every Catholic father who walks his daughter down the aisle as a patriarchal foe of genuine Catholic culture and a distorter of the sacrament is also "not conducive to dialogue."

Unless you are saying that if a VN blogger does it, that's OK.

Neither is accusing an opponent of nativism, in the face of contrary evidence.

Unless you are saying that if a VN blogger does it, that's OK.

Neither is calling someone a "coward."

Unless you are saying that if a VN blogger does it, that's OK.

Neither is calling an opponent's writing "an insane rant."

Unless you are saying that if a VN blogger does it, that's OK.

I hope to God that's not what you are saying, even by implication. But I can't be sure.

The fact is, MM's post shellacked a particularly American custom (which, as you note crosses ethnic lines) as un-Catholic and demeaning to women while not questioning other, unspecified customs. Despite the fact he has no evidence that the Catholic participants regard it remotely the way he does. One which meant, and still means, a lot to my wife, for reasons which aren't on the same planet as MM's analysis.

And yet I'm the one reading into things?

All right.

[I originally edited out the e-mail which starts the post. Then I realized I don't owe the little boy a damn thing. It'll be a nice corrective to anyone inclined to take the twerp seriously.]

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Inculturation is only good if it's not American culture.

Which is pretty much what you can take away from this splenetic offering.

Hey, honey--your brother giving you away wasn't a sign of your desire to have your late father represented at the wedding, symbolic of his blessing on the marriage. You and your sense of entitlement.

No, ma'am. It really meant that you were your family's chattel, being disposed of appropriately in the time-immemorial American tradition of barter and dowry.

With that in mind: where the hell are my goats? With interest, I think dear brother in law owes me five.

Oh, and don't get started on our unity candle and the flowers to the Blessed Mother.

Never mind that these are considered permissible at the parish level, even if not strictly speaking necessary or encouraged.

Nope--we were eroding Catholic culture prostrating ourselves before the sentimentalist cult of Me.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Happy belated birthday to my brother, Doug!

Even though he's bigger than I am and carries a gun for a living, he'll always be my little bro.

I sure hope you had help blowing out all those candles.

Monday, May 04, 2009

I mean this in the spirit of charity and Christian brotherhood....

...but I really, really hate you guys. I mean, even "Steve Skojac" got nominated.

"Who loves ya, baby?"

I mean, really--what's a guy gotta do to get nominated for a major award?

Who else has given the Catholic world such consistent blogging quality over the past six years?

You and I need to have a talk.


Well, you've earned your lolcat punishment.

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...