Monday, July 25, 2016

Pokemon Go

I don't play it. I don't have time for my normal amusements, so adding another seems foolish. At least  among people I know, people are having a good time and getting some exercise.

A friend and I had a moment between him attempting an explanation of how the technology works, and I had an insight.

"It is a giant spiritual metaphor."

"Why do you say that?"

"People wandering aimlessly, trying to grab imaginary things."

We'll Walk In The Rays Of A Beautiful Sun

I walked alone to Mass today. Then again, I didn't. That's because it was almost as if I could feel Jesus with his hand on my shoulder. In some respects, it was a tough few days. Do you ever feel as though you need a vacation from yourself? I needed a long one. But the other day, I was talking to Jesus, and he reminded me that he loves me more than I do.

You may fail to live up to your own idealized version of yourself, and a million times, at that. But this is the secret of life: Apart from me, you can do nothing.

You might be one of those people who needs to break your days into smaller pieces. We get to thinking about, "I'm going to be a saint! I'll do this and that, and I'll be a leader" but the sheer enormity of the task soon overwhelms us, and then the enemy serves up our version of a T-bone steak, and we go right for it.

I need Thee every hour. Every hour, O my Jesus! Amen.

Meanwhile, enjoy this song by The Five Stairsteps, perhaps reflecting on someone who loved you and mentored you.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I Would Have Voted For Ted Cruz

I definitely agree that much of his rhetoric was extreme, a bit Trump-like. I also think his foreign policy as articulated was dangerously naive. I think he vacillates between rage-monster, and a less-endearing Ned Flanders. To say that I didn't prefer him is a massive understatement.

But I would have held my nose, and done it. In the end, with a smile. Because I know that on the issues social conservatives care about, Ted Cruz is with us. I wouldn't have to wonder if he's better than Hillary, because I know he is.

Most of the time, there is great wisdom in falling in line after a spirited primary. Not this time. And good for Ted in not doing so. See you in four years, Senator Cruz. Hopefully in happier days.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ideology, Reasoning, And Political Engagement

I thought I would outline my way of thinking through political issues and engagement these days. I am by no means able to discourse dispassionately all the time, by any stretch. Yet as I have more fully embraced Catholic social doctrine, I have begun to observe that the process for arriving at a conclusion on any particular matter is more involved than a particular instance of political discussion--often more accurately characterized as combat--would lead us to believe. So, here is a sample of the kinds of questions I am now asking:

What is the common good, and what aspects of the common good may be served (or not) by a proposed solution?

Is a proposed solution to a problem intrinsically evil, that is, evil irrespective of circumstances, or good intentions?

Are there other principles related to the common good or to the intrinsic dignity of the human person (e.g. justice, solidarity, subsidiarity, etc.) that I need to be aware of? Does a proposed solution seem to violate any of them on the face of it?

Are the particular goals articulated achievable? How does the proposed solution achieve those goals, if so?

Can those goals be achieved more easily in another way? Why or why not?

Is a proposed solution, though not immoral in itself, actually Constitutional and legal in our political system?

How might my political philosophy affect my universe of possible solutions to any problem? Are those limitations reasonable? Why or why not?

How might I work with other elected officials (just thinking ahead) to achieve noble goals with reasonable solutions, once I determine that proposed solutions are moral, desirable, and possible?

That's a lot to think about! Most people start with, "Well, I personally believe x, therefore, this is the only right thing to do. Also, all who disagree are stupid, and/or evil." We now belong to a highly reactive and emotive political culture that's very toxic. If we're going to do better, we have to slow down, and practice virtues, both intellectual and spiritual. When Dr. Bryan Cross mentioned "motivated reasoning" the other day, it got me thinking (though I was desirous of a specific example) that it could take a couple different forms, whether a non sequitur, or a circular argument of some kind. In any case, it's a prejudicial kind of reasoning that closes us off from either good ideas, or good faith dialogue. I thought of an example of motivated reasoning, one I have done myself:

A vast majority of scientists believes that anthropogenic climate change is happening, and has been an urgent problem for some time;

However, communists, socialists, and other bad people also agree with them;

Many of those same scientists have done their alleged research with public funding, which indicates a conspiracy with those ideologues to limit my freedom;

Therefore, I will not consider any evidence of anthropogenic climate change.

We must do better, in all sorts of ways.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rain Down, Rain Down, Rain Down Your Love On Your People

I made some of you cringe. Good. You're now reading my blog, which was of course my plan all along. But I didn't intend to scare you with the alleged "spirit of Vatican II." No. I just want to tell you it was raining buckets on the way back from Mass today. And that's wonderful, of course. Though it is potentially far less wonderful in a wheelchair. A power wheelchair. I wouldn't expect any electrical danger, but of course the more significant risk is that the chair stops working. They plan for rain when building them, but still. My Quickie P-222 SE came through like a champ. Seriously though, if you're going to be a cripple caught in a downpour, get a Quickie.

Pretty sure you can't buy my specific chair from the company anymore, but I'm sure the countless middlemen still carry it.

Maybe you'll like this James Taylor classic instead.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Luther Didn't Reform Anything

You can't actually coherently say Christian ecclesiology, doctrine, and practice is wrong, and be a reformer. You can say it was never right. But no Protestant really wants to say that. So everyone in that position lives inconsistently on that point.

That's why I'm Catholic. That's the reason. We wouldn't need to profess new dogmas, if the motivation was moral reform. It wasn't.

Tim Dukeman, you need to read more.

Friday, July 15, 2016

St. Bonaventure

I don't know much of anything about St. Bonaventure, if I'm being honest. I do have an aspiring religious friend who likes him, if for no other reason than to get away from St. Thomas! [He needs to know that there's no way a Doctor of the Church can be overrated.--ed.] I agree.

We can always count on Father to say, "We gather to celebrate the life and the faith witness" of whomever it is. Even the priest's little quirks in speech like this become part of what you grow to expect.

I think St. Bonaventure would be pleased that, weather permitting, we have made this same journey hundreds of times. Not that merely being present has any merit, but the hope that we will be moved by the glorious grace of Christ for some good end.

We had been talking about grace having possibly come to a notorious mass murderer. We both agreed that we wanted to be the sorts of men who rejoice at stories like that. Easy to say, from a distance.

And I had Sister Helen on my mind yesterday. I think one of the things I most admire about her is that she has never minimized evil that is done. If you can look straight into the face of evil and sin in all its ugliness and say, "Nevertheless, Christ loves you, and offers Himself for you," that is credibility; that is holiness. If we don't believe this, we'd better get out of the church business, if you will.

St. Bonaventure, pray for us!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Yoke Is Easy

Frankly, I always thought Jesus was crazy in saying this, at the risk of impiety. Surely having been tempted, he knows this isn't true, right?

But consider that other Scripture, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me."

It is an impossible task, that virtue I haven't acquired. The idea of holding it together until the next Eucharist. We need to stop trying so hard.

Who is Jesus? Do I want to know, and go where he goes, or do I have something else going on?

It doesn't say, "I will fear no evil, because it's not that big of a deal." No one is saying that the valley of the shadow of death is a stroll on a spring day in Palo Alto.

For you are with me.

My Lord, the truth is, apart from you, I can do nothing. If you still want me with you, I'll go with you. Please stay with me.

No. Just No.

There's this. And I said to no one in particular, "What a pile of s***." If you lose readers, you lose readers. And if you're being an intemperate jerk who should stay away from politics, no amount of passionate defenses of your work changes all that. The funny thing about charity is, it's the ultimate proof that you can be right, and still lose. Is there no one Catholic who can say, "Our social teaching bids us go in some interesting directions"? Is it that hard to say that grudging acceptance of Pope Francis is not obedience? Is impugning the motives of those who have faults in reasoning now considered "pruning"?

I get it. When you write and opine for your daily work, you're gonna make someone mad. And maybe you should. But I never felt edified, reading Mark Shea's Facebook feed. I stuck it out, because I knew he's right most times. But what good is it to gain the whole world, and forfeit your soul?

The Register can find someone better, to say the same things.