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Monday, December 31, 2012

Fun With Romans

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to read and analyze the book of Romans. Verse-by-verse. Right here. Just to show that we still read the Bible over here. And that the Magisterium is not Big Brother. [Yes it is.--ed.] We'll have our Catechisms open, just so I don't accidentally start another "Reformation". [Why the scare-quotes?--ed.] You want me to say that I don't think the Reformation reformed anything? [Ahem.--ed.] Well, you've had too many people spraying rainbows and sunshine in your face instead of telling the truth. [Back at you.--ed.] Right. Like I need or want to join a church of one. I'm done. "Faith like a child" means at least this: My faith is one I received, as a gift. It was taught to me. "The Quest" was nothing but asking if those who taught me had themselves received it, and been sent. It must be historical, by the nature of the case.

So there we are. We'll see if Uncle JK still knows how to dance. The truth is, I want to be as cool as that other Jason guy. [Why not link to his post on Romans?--ed.] I don't want to bias our conclusions. [Fair enough.--ed.] Feel free to chime in. [Oh, I will.--ed.] Good.

Star Trek, TNG Hipocrisy Update: In the Season 7 episode, "The Pegasus," the Enterprise crew discovers that Cmdr. Riker's first commanding officer, Adm. Eric Pressman, had violated the Treaty of Algeron by developing and using a cloaking device. In the first violation 12 years ago, Riker fought with Pressman against a mutiny precipitated by those treaty violations. As a result, the USS Pegasus was presumed lost. But it had recently been found. Pressman orders the Enterprise to assist in the salvaging of the Pegasus, concealing his desire to continue the cloaking experiments. Capt. Picard arrests Pressman for his ongoing violations of the treaty.

In the Season 3 episode, "The Defector," Picard mentions that he has violated the Treaty Of Algeron by crossing the Neutral Zone pursuant to information from a Romulan defector relevant to the safety of the Federation. Why didn't Picard arrest himself?

In Fact, Devin Rose Is Awesome

Save yourself some time. I wish I had this man's clarity of thought. But I can think back to when the problem of fallibility became acute. It's when and why I looked into the Catholic Church. As I recall, I wrote of an "Abyss Of Relativism." This is that. I will readily grant that Protestants and Catholics would be in a similar epistemic position, in the absence of evidence for the claim of infallibility. But it seems to me that this other man needs to investigate that claim, and the evidence offered, rather than merely assert that it is false.

By the way, it's still arbitrary and ad hoc to accept the first two Councils while rejecting the others, especially using a principle and a method the Fathers knew nothing about. To even use Sola Scriptura, wouldn't one be asserting that one's own interpretation is the measure by which all others are judged? And that applies to history itself. Some ecclesial body ("the Church") can't really be a check on the individual unless that Church is infallible.

That was the heart of my frustration as I wrestled with the claims of the Catholic Church, and other counter-claims: I needed either a promise of infallibility for my interpretation of Scripture, or an infallible Church. You don't, and can't, completely alter the practice of Christianity on the strength of, "I don't know." Let me say it another way: If I am not willing to assert that my interpretation is correct, I cannot say it is truer than the claims of the Catholic Church. In the absence of a compelling reason, I have to return to the Catholic Church.

And that's the point about other interpretations: not to mock the disunity therein, but to see the competing interpretations for what they do: weaken the power of my particular claim against the Catholic Church. After all, if each of these has compelling elements and plausibility, enough that other Protestants remain separated from me, why would I think that I have found the "magic bullet" that will silence the papists once for all?

When I started writing these thoughts out, I started at the church and denomination level so that we could see the problem where it hits us first. But it's good to look at it globally also. It's still the same question: Where does dogma come from? I'm going to say it like this: Given that God, who is Truth, has spoken, what has he said? And to whom has he spoken authoritatively?

A lot of people are content with this epistemic uncertainty. They do not see the danger of it. The damage has already been done. It's pointless to talk about "fences" divine and human if you can't tell which is which. I may have the goods to found a very beautiful heresy for myself, but on these terms, make no mistake: It's still just mine, and it's still a heresy.

It is a grace to us--though a severe one--that Protestantism shatters into a million pieces. Something that is divine in origin does not lead to confusion and disharmony. The inevitable conclusion, since it was Sola Scriptura--and the individualism behind it--that led us here, is that it was a mistake.

Someone commented on Devin's Facebook post pursuant to the debate he had, mentioned here at the outset. It's pretty snarky, but it makes the basic point well: "Incredible. Absolutely incredible. Sola scriptura leads inevitably to denial of certainty and eventually to relativism and skepticism of the worst kind. Yet, while denying certainty, it grants one the ability to claim an infallible and certain authority, while using that authority to justify any number of subjective and relative claims (personal interpretations). You can literally have it both ways--enough skepticism to deny any position you do not like as 'unscriptural' and an infallible authority used to defend any position you do like. It's perfect!"

We have to have infallibility somewhere, given the fact that the Infallible One is at the heart of the endeavor. In myself, or another. But 'neither' is not an option.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Catholic As Not Protesting

You need to understand. Or at least I want you to understand. I'm not Catholic as a pin on my lapel, or as a sports team for whom I root. I am Catholic. I do not prefer Catholicism; it is quite simply, the only choice that makes sense.

When you're on the journey from Reformed/Protestant to Catholic, you don't really know that's what you're doing. I was just asking questions. It's not right to say the answers didn't satisfy me; they ought not satisfy anyone. I've talked with other people stuck in groupthink, and that's what happens: slogans are said to make the inquisitor shut up, and keep the others from wondering. I guess it works on some people. Not me. And it never has. It's not anti-Reformed to ask where the ecumenical councils came from; neither is it to ask where the end-point of a(n) hermeneutical process (or at least what it looks like) terminates. You can blather on about authorial intent 'til you are 172, but unless you know what it is, you're dodging the question. It's like saying, "It's not the destination, it's the journey that matters," and being OK with it. Let me be blunt: I don't care if you have 8 exegetical degrees and have read the Bible 1000 times; that's relativistic crap, and someone should say it. Let's keep going.

If we are part of a movement that made the basic charge to the effect that the institutional church and leadership had been corrupted, and that the plain gospel had been lost, you'd better have a method of recovery that delivers the goods. You're responsible if your answer brings up 12 more questions. You're responsible if heretics use your argument to draw conclusions you don't intend. That should be a flag that you have made a poor argument. And don't you dare say I called you an Arian; I didn't. I merely said that anyone can use your argument to justify what they hold. This is what ad hoc means: holding stubbornly to a conclusion that isn't required by the premises. You need to give me a reason why Nicea got it right, but Trent got it wrong. By the way, the canon was defined 9 years after the final form of that Creed was known. Maybe I could quote something we know to be Scripture now, but I'm certainly not going to know it as a stable, known rule of faith, as your position seems to require. I'll overstate this to make the point: The bishops at Nicea did not use Scripture to settle the question; they used themselves, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to settle it. Right then and there, they defined the true doctrine, but more than that, they defined "us" and "not us." Or, to be more blunt, they defined the Church and schisms from her. Actually, this had been done several times. This is why Tertullian (God help him) was able to say essentially, "Don't give the Scripture to heretics." He knew that truth we always knew: every heretic has his verse. That's why the Church has to be visible. To be in schism is to separate from the community holding to the divine truth. To be in heresy is to knowingly hold something contrary to the Church. If you can't see it, you can't find it. If you can't find it, you can't know what to believe. That's real simple.

On the other hand, insisting on a visible line of episcopal ordination from the Apostles against the Reformers is superfluous if it doesn't terminate somewhere. Luckily, that person had always been the Bishop of Rome. Now, does that mean the other bishops are pointless? Of course not. I've never met the Pope. He has never personally instructed me in anything. I have met my bishop. He has taught me tons of things. The link is real, though. The Pope has personally saved and preserved the truth historically several times. Most of the other bishops fell to the Arian heresy, and the pope stood unmoved. And truth prevailed. That was the promise to Peter and the Church in action. Fabian gave his life in 251 when Germanic hordes overran Rome. As a side-note: Can you even imagine the worldwide freak-out if barbarians murdered the pope today? In this supposedly secular hopeless age, I recall that the acknowledged leader of the world and dozens of heads of state attended the funeral of our last pope. I digress.

I enjoy pointing out the contradiction in acknowledging that, if I were Reformed (or any other Protestant), all those people in ecclesiastical authority over me could be wrong, any juridical action could be wrong, any time I read my Bible, I could be wrong, and yet, somehow, we're supposed to believe that we should stay in this arrangement. If I believed "what the Bible says" leads me to Eutychianism, you couldn't stop me. If I wanted to find some Eutychians and join them, we could simply say, "Well, the Church is invisible, and we're right, anyway." I can do it today. I can join a "church" that smiles on my sexual sins (for example) and still believe I have a part with Christ. Who's to say? All I need is an "expert," and a few people to say I'm right. Bam. We're now a "church" that's a viable option. How do you know the Reformation wasn't the same thing? It was. "They got it wrong. They're corrupt. We're preserving the true faith. That Eucharistic doctrine isn't part of the deposit. They are just making it up to cover their other sins." Am I hitting close to home yet? Or let me put it abstractly: You want me to believe dogmatically in the determinations of a community formed by the notion that any visible community
could be in error? Why isn't that absurd on its face? Have we failed to notice that I ultimately decide when that error has occurred? Some remedy for my individualism. If I hold the Ace, they don't. No amount of appreciations or bookshelves changes this fact: An invisible Church renders all visible manifestations suspect, and worthless. Yes, worthless.

That truth in common found itself visibly bound up with the institutions of the bishops in apostolic succession (ecumenical council, more precisely) and with the man who defines them: the successor of Peter. Purged of all my biases that a certain thing could not be true or from God, it only remained to apply the same truth-in-context principle to history as I had been taught about the Scriptures: the human or "earthy" elements are not extraneous to the ascertaining of the truth; they are part of it. To submit and be Catholic is distinct from a frank acknowledgment that the claim to that authority is reasonable, contra those who say you have to be Catholic to see why. That's just silly. It was still within my power to do whatever I wished with whatever I knew. In truth, it still is. But I'd be a moron to leave. [So you're a moron who stays?--ed.] Yes.

So, for the Christian world who dissents, especially Protestants, you have two choices: you can attempt to fashion a creedal minimalism that smooths over all your internal disagreements, accepting the dogmatic agnosticism that results, or you can inquire as to the basis of our agreement, establishing where, how, and when the commonality was established. You owe it to yourself to find it.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

See you in Heaven, friend. I do wish it hadn't gone this way. But I envy you. RIP.

Define Your Terms

I live in two worlds. One is the spiritual or theological, and the other is political. I've always been political as far back as I remember. As you know, I'm pretty opinionated. I also think "extreme" and "extremist" are words people use when they don't like someone, and want to shut them up. Or you could use an adjective like 'far' with a spectrum descriptor like 'Right' or 'Left'. We all do it at times, and depending on the situation, it can be accurate or even welcome. But no one likes to be shamed and silenced.

My pet peeve is when people use 'Right,' 'Left,' and 'Center' in theology, as though there is a spectrum, and as though the science of theology is bargained, or even worse, a matter of perspective. Political power often is wielded by majoritarian consensus, or at least acceptance. But things of God don't work this way, and they shouldn't.

We may find that we have different truths as a discrete matter, and even different ways of determining it, but we aim for God, who is Truth. Your humble author may fail in the task of listening in that theological endeavor, and for that, I plead mercy and patience. I digress.

But I absolutely demand that we define terms. I also demand that we use terms appropriate to what we are discussing. And to sharpen the point, just because you are the president of a large, prominent ecumenical organization (for instance) and are known for speaking in humble tones doesn't mean either that you're a good listener, or that you know what you're talking about, especially when you cross into politics. And you can be guilty of trying to silence people, even if you speak in holy words. Because it is the height of arrogance to judge the hearts of those with whom you disagree, and to presume that you occupy some magical 'Center' that you hope other benighted partisans will one day occupy. Maybe making subjective judgments about hearts is a bad idea in the first place. For all you know, Servetus is a fun guy to have a beer with. Maybe Dobson isn't. But he could still be right.

Dobson's probably a bad example of keeping these worlds separate, and respecting the goals of each. But I trust the point is made. Politics is politics, and theology is theology. Ignore the legitimate boundaries of each at your peril. And you could still be an aggressor that detracts from the overall goal in both sciences: human flourishing. Not that I'm naming names today. I won't promise never to do it, though.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Birthday

Today would be my father's 60th birthday. It's hard to picture him as an old guy. He was 36 when I lost him. I'm sad, of course. As I said in the post called, "Funeral," it's a hard thing. But sadness isn't the only feeling.

The other very strong feeling is hope. It's a funny thing when you follow Jesus: (Note well, NYT/clueless media) some of us actually believe this stuff. I really do believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life of the world to come. I have no idea how the Lord will judge my father, but I have great hope.

I suppose I should say "has judged," but there is still the end to come.

I have lesser hopes, too. I hope he is proud of me, and all his children. Perhaps it's fitting that the only enduring memory I have of him is seeing him look down and smile at me. My brother and I, his oldest children, we think a lot about how we carry our name--his name--and whether we do it well. There's a spiritual metaphor in there, but you're not infants; draw the conclusion(s) yourself.

That's the thing: I only remember that he loved me. If I think of all the substitute fathers I was given besides him, I can see where I have drawn false conclusions about God. But it comes to this: God Our Father is only Love. You might say, "What about justice? You spoke of a judgment." [What about justice? You spoke of a judgment.--ed.] What of it?

There's a movie called, "What Dreams May Come," starring Robin Williams. Now, let me say right off the top that theologically, if you are anything close to an orthodox Christian, it won't hit you just right all the time. But as a side-note, Williams gives a great eulogy at a funeral for one of the characters. I want to say that this movie is very special to me, and I suspect for a lot of people who have lost those very close to them, maybe more than once.

But overall, it takes loss and the hope of eternal life very seriously. And the main point is this, and I think despite the errors, it's a worthy one: If you fall under God's wrath, that's your decision, not His. God's mercy is so vast, we can hardly speak it. And none of us really understands. When we turn away from God, we hate him, but also ourselves. That's how perfectly we are made for Him.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Death Of A Paradigm

"Derivative authority is a sham." (This is the idea that the creeds have a secondary authority derived from Scripture.) That's what I realized. When I read Mathison's The Shape Of Sola Scriptura, it confirmed that impression for me. Not that I had any warmer feelings for Catholicism (he brought up a ton of potential problems and objections that deserved exploring later), but I saw that he was making a distinction without a difference in his basic thesis. (Sola Scriptura vs. Solo Scriptura)

If there was one thing where I rose in defense of the Catholic Church, it was in his taxonomy of tradition: Tradition I, (Church fathers) Tradition II, (medieval Catholicism) and Tradition III (Pope makes up whatever he wants). Because there was no difference between St. Thomas's theology and Trent, and no substantive difference between Origen and Trent, especially on the crucial issue of free will. The basic Reformed/Protestant storyline of the Middle Ages--the burdensome, semi-Pelagian treadmill that was Catholicism--is a lie.

Moreover, the idea that St. Augustine was some sort of proto-Calvinist is also a lie. It just is. He has enough statements affirming free will that it's a miracle the Reformed didn't call him a Semi-Pelagian. [That's not nice.--ed.] I'm through being nice with people who should know better.

Hey Dr. Confirmation Sponsor Guy! I hear people saying your articles are too long. I totally agree. They're enormous. But if they were shorter, they'd say you make bold claims with no evidence. No win. I just think they're not used to being challenged.

It was Chalcedon that sealed the deal. There I was, reading along, (of course, I already agreed with their conclusions) and I noticed that these bishops acted like they had an independent authority. That the Holy Spirit had given them the authority to adjudicate the question. They did not base their conclusions on Scripture. I can't recall a great many citations, in any case. What an arrogantly Catholic thing to do! So this is how it happened? Uh-oh. Death Of A Paradigm, film at 11.

You don't even have the right to say, "The Council agrees with me," because YOU WEREN'T THERE. Neither was Luther or Calvin. So, the challenge will be to somehow hold on to its truth on some other basis than the context offers, and hope some fundie doesn't say, "We don't need them!" Oh, wait, they have. Shameless ad hockery, still. Rob Bell with a bigger bookshelf, and a degree from Covenant.

If you're going to shatter the whole Western Church, and essentially claim that we've had the wrong soteriology for 1000 years (not to mention that we should ignore all relevant ecclesiastical authorities), you better have a hermeneutic a little stronger than, "We don't know." Actually, they claimed it was, back when. Only when the full horror of the falsehood of individual interpretation and the optional submission to ecclesiastical authority reaches its full flower do you now claim, "We don't know." How nice.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas, Day 2

It was a fine Christmas. Before we took our places at the front for the concert and Mass at the Cathedral, we stopped at the creche. It was a little hard to focus, but I think I was able to bring to mind all the broken relationships I am aware of.

Honestly, we live on different planets, me and many of the people I know. It seems hopeless. But that was how it surely seemed when Jesus came in the flesh to the world he made. That stirs hope in me.

I felt like I was demanding things I had no right to ask. But I'm sure it only feels that way because I do not understand the meaning of my sonship in the household of God.

I got 2 little things as gifts. I don't need stuff; I need people who name the name of Christ to be friends, and I need people who don't know Him to meet him. Pretty simple, but I am a simple man.

Peace.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Heresy

I looked up "heresy" in the CCC. It's paragraph 2089, if you're scoring at home. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same." So Luther may well be a sympathetic figure, as may be Calvin or any others. But they were definitely heretics. By the way, one is perfectly free to dissent from the dogmatic definitions of an ecumenical council, but if you do, you're not a Catholic in good standing of any sort, by definition. So let's cut the nonsense about how the Church acted hastily with regard to Luther, or in error. They did no such thing.

The faith of the first millenium was as much defined by fidelity to the visible Church as by its propositional content. Indeed, that's why heretics so often claimed that the Church was corrupted, and thus separated from it.

I don't have to use strawmen arguments against the Reformed; I don't interact with that theology by way of Catholic theology or Catholic presuppositions; I don't have to; questions that deserve answers suggest themselves. Maybe my editor and other Reformed readers could concentrate on being consistent, rather than blaming those who apply it consistently with being unfair.

Just my thoughts. By the way, why should I repent of my particular sins particularly under pain of eternal wrath if Christ's death on the cross has efficaciously forgiven all (past, present, and future) my sins? If God sees only Christ when he looks at me, how would he even know what I'd done? Why are we asking God to forgive our sins/trespasses that have already been forgiven? I await an answer.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Catholic Actually Means Something

It came to me as I received the Lord today. Both experientially and theologically, Catholic life is less about remembering the past, and is more about living in grace in the present. The old man doesn't finally die long ago; he dies here and now as we take the gifts of our sonship and use them for that purpose.

But it shows me more and more how stupid sin is. Sin is acting against our sonship, and with all the gifts of the Church, it's even more pointless. Added to the blessings of sonship, there is the pursuit of further holiness, and the glories of intercession and mysticism. Even the heights of Protestantism can't touch this. It's the sacraments, mainly.

You'd think I'd be talking less about the present. After all, if you say "Catholic Church," you might get "tradition" and "history" back in answer. But let's not mistake her evidences, her reasons for credibly telling us what to do, for the essence of the thing.

I have to think that while my Reformed comrades and I had great faith and knowledge after a fashion, even the best of us would terrify your average vocations director in the Catholic Church. I was so wicked, and frankly, there was no real way to be otherwise. If everything is a sin, then nothing is. And a cycle of scrupulous zeal and total burnout is pretty normal.

Anyway, I'm trying to remember that especially Jenny and Jamie need my prayers, even if I don't feel like praying. There is a strong sense of "just do it" in the Catholic Church, and I'm glad for that, if nothing else.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Suffering

Probably one of the most perplexing things about the Christian life is suffering. Everyone has their own measure to bear. For my own part, I can imagine the things I would be unable to bear. But as I look back on what I have suffered, I realize that I've vastly underestimated what I can take. That's to be expected.

Mother Church has a pretty well-developed theology of suffering, through the testimony of her saints. Suffering is not only to endured, it can be offered to God. More than that, it can be offered for others. I'd like to think I haven't wasted mine, but I have. St. Paul says in his letter to the Colossians, "...and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, the church." If that isn't the oddest verse in the Bible, well, then, I don't know. What could be lacking in the sacrifice of Christ? And what do any of us poor sinners think we can offer of spiritual value?

But there it is, right in the Bible. And I think from what I've seen, Christ wants to show his willingness to die for the world again and again in our suffering. Maybe that's why the saints learn to enjoy it. Because what love is greater than that? And what earthly pain could blot it out?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Since the Church is made up of fallible human beings, I guess Arius was right. I mean, "councils may err," right? I happen to think his interpretation adheres most closely to Scripture. (I'm not serious; I'm making a point.)

4. I guess when you "tell it to the church," we'll have to have an endless exegetical debate, because of course an ecumenical council can't settle it. Obviously, the Church wanted the freedom of idiosyncratic hacks preserved for all time.

3. Didn't you hear? The apostles replaced Judas because they got a great deal on a hotel for vacation. Group rate, and all that.

2. I'm so glad God doesn't protect the Church through her actual institutions. Instead, he sends a scrupulous, angry monk and a lawyer when no one is looking.

1. Of course, Nicea and Chalcedon were correct, and all the others were false. Haven't you ever played Calvinball?

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Basic Argument Against An Invisible Church

I'm sure Newman or someone has already made this argument, but here it goes:

It is asserted that the Church of Jesus Christ is fundamentally invisible. But this cannot be. The Law of Non-Contradiction states that a thing cannot be and not be in the same way at the same time. But this "Church" proposes as de fide doctrines which are contradictory, such as in the doctrine of the Eucharist. As it is written, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." But the Church is the "pillar and foundation of the truth." It is also called the "household of God." God cannot be divided, as it is written, "Hear O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one." Therefore, this concept called by the same name cannot be the Church Christ founded.

Corollary: Now it is clear that a man may dissent from the true faith. But it does not follow that merely asserting a different set of propositions makes those propositions true. Based upon what we have already stated, the organs by which the contradictions come to be known (often called "churches" themselves) cannot be the Church, unless one set of propositions be true, and the other false. But that is not admitted by the concept. Nor can the communities be smaller parts of the same whole, because they do not agree upon that which is de fide. Now, the formation of those communities, with respect to an assertion of legitimacy, depends upon the concept which has proven false, as was shown above. Therefore, it is not reasonable to assume that the content of those propositions is true, because they are the fruit of a false concept. Therefore, the Church of Jesus Christ must be visible. Moreover, it is a likely supposition that one who holds propositions derived thence (that is, from the false concept) is in dissent (heresy) and schism.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

List Me, I'm Irish

5 Thoughts For Today

5. One little act done in the love of God is greater than all the noble natural acts put together.

4. I still hate Macs.

3. No, I have not seen The Sound Of Music. I'm sorry. But a beautiful woman told me to watch it over my Christmas break, so naturally, that will happen forthwith. Just sayin.'

2. Nor have I read The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, or The Chronicles Of Narnia. Obviously, I am reprobate.

1. Nothing like hamming it up with the Vicar-General and starting Holy Mass late. I'd like to think Jesus thought that was funny.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Another Tragedy

It was 3:30 when I saw it. If my jovial post on Facebook struck you wrong, all I can say is, "I didn't see it." This guy came into a school full of little ones with a rifle and started killing people. He killed 26 others, including his parents, and then himself.

I hear people saying, "I hope he burns in Hell," and while I understand the anger people are feeling, (and I certainly want some justice) I can't hope for this. Hell is Hell. It makes the most horrible scene you can fathom seem like a minor inconvenience. I can't think of a person that I've known I'd consign to such a fate. Please don't say such stupid things. The Lord will judge, and it is just. But I tremble at the thought of it.

O God, our Father, have mercy. Have mercy on us for our evil words and actions, which stir up violence in the hearts of people. Be near to these little ones, and to those who had charge of them who were also lost. Please comfort those in sorrow, beyond words we are able to speak. All you saints, our brothers and sisters, pray for us, so we will not also be lost, beyond the grasp of Love. I pray this through Christ Our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

JK: The Music

Yesterday, I was obsessed with James Morrison. Today, I felt like Michael Bolton. Yes, that Michael Bolton. Irving Berlin or whoever was talking mess because the vocals are expressive/passionate/soulful or dare we say it, loud, he's free to be excused.

Look, I get it: He's easy to make fun of, what, with his long hair, pretty voice, and sensitive manner. Maybe dudes were just jealous because they knew that if Michael lived in their town, their wives would be tempted with adultery. Anyway, I know what I like.

I can remember that I was 9 years old when I heard Bolton for the first time. "What was that? I want to hear more of that." Was I supposed to care that he sang "sissy" music or whatever people said? Oops. Pretty much any notable song of his makes me say, "He sang the mess out of that song." Isn't that what you want? Music is supposed to be memorable. I think it's fair to say that our pop music is vocally-driven. Anywhere Michael Bolton wants to drive the Music Bus, I'm cool with that.

Deb's right: I like listening to music more than I would enjoy the arduous task of creating it. Mostly. I've written a couple songs here and there. I'd like to have had training in music, I suppose. But I would fear becoming an insufferable snob who looked down on others with "simpler" taste. I've said this before. More than that, some people make a sport of liking the most strange, obscure music and celebrating themselves on their snobby musical island. [They're called 'hipsters.'--ed.] Good point.

That doesn't mean I don't like new things. It made me really happy last week when Jacob said that my Spotify was 'crazy'--that is, eclectic. Of course it is. My musical taste is as varied as all the information in my head.

It's also a mistake to ignore popular music as culture-influencing and even creating. If you can't be holy while doing it, don't do it. Don't hear what I'm not saying. But I still hear people say this or that is the "soundtrack to my life," trite as that may sound. I get that. I totally do. John Mayer's "Room For Squares" still freaks me out. It made me say, "This is exactly what being a twenty-something dude right now is like." I don't care if you think it's horrible. I'm just telling you. [So you like club-hopping and fornication?--ed.] Not exactly.

Hard to believe that was nearly 13 years ago. And I understand that he doesn't have the best reputation as a human being. But there's a special trust between artist and audience, and at least for me, if you gain it, it's not easily lost, even if I don't like everything an artist does professionally (or personally, for that matter).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Is the Church Flawed?

It seems to me that this is the real question behind Protestant-Catholic disputes. The fact of human sin constitutes the open and shut proof against the Catholic notion of holiness, which is really indefectibility. We are the members of the Body of Christ; we are flawed; therefore, the Church is flawed, or so it goes.

But hold on a minute. Setting aside the difference in ascertaining the content of divine truth--Sacred Scripture* vs. Sacred Scripture and Tradition--it seems like we're owed an answer as to where unsullied dogma comes from. If we can't trust the visible institutional church made up of sinners, somehow we are supposed to trust one person who himself is a sinner? The Holy Spirit protects a man, but not a whole group of them?

Even if we were to ignore the "Church" part of this question, upon what basis would we hold any one of our opinions as a result of the hermeneutical process, given rival claims flowing from the same process? Adding "Church" back in, it cannot both be visible and invisible at the same time. Protestants are supposed to place a nearly absolute trust in the ecclesiastical determinations of a very visible community, while claiming that the real "Church" is invisible, especially when confronted with the dogmatic contradictions of those communities in dialogue!

This reality is exactly what we're talking about when we say that the ecclesiology is "collapsing." It's only as strong as the individual's "suspension of disbelief" as it were in regard to this inescapable truth: He is the arbiter--and he alone--of the real content of revelation, and the extent of the community's external authority. Indeed, it's not external at all, if its juridical decisions are presumed as provisional as his doctrinal conclusions.

Something has to give. Either you presume your hermeneutical process is infallible--which eliminates the need for the church to moderate the excesses of individualism--or the community is infallible. The community can't be infallible in the Protestant paradigm, because it was fallibility that provided the justification for the new communities in the first place. Even if it were asserted in contravention of the Protestant principles themselves, the historical anachronism of discontinuity poses a problem for each community in that regard.

Here's the crazy part: Whichever part you eliminate--whether the fallible church, or the fallibility of the hermeneutical process, we can't escape this: What's different from what we see, and how do we address it?

The Catholic Church's claim to be the Church Christ founded has this going for it, at least: It doesn't deny any of the data that pertains to things held in common. Put it this way: There is no principled reason to accept the first two ecumenical councils while rejecting the others. If we agree that they constitute orthodoxy, they constitute it on the terms offered by the councils themselves. On the other hand, if we consistently apply the idea that councils may err, we have no reason to suppose that Nicene or Chalcedonian Christology is the mark of true Christianity at all.

We are fooling ourselves if we think that interpreting the Bible by the methods we know leads inoxerably and inevitably to that Christological orthodoxy, as history and present experience surely show.

Brothers, if we cannot accept the Catholic Church's authority on the terms with which we engage the gospel at present, we owe it to ourselves to ask whether our terms with Christ are the right ones. Suppose we engage the Catholic claims on their own terms. If we find we have lost nothing of what we know now, the claims have the ring of likely truth, no? Suppose the accretions were added by us?

*Note: The Catholic Church has a larger canon of Sacred Scripture: 73 books, as opposed to the Protestant canon of 66 books. 

12/12/12

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Is God playing dominoes?

4. There was a hurricane relief show I was too busy to watch.

3. The other numbers feel discriminated against. I blame Obama.

2. I wonder if Mittens did anything weird today.

1. 07/07/07 was the last time this happened.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We Wish You A Merry List-Mas

5 Thoughts For Today

5. There are a ton of issues the Bible doesn't directly address for which Christians need answers.

4. It's not my fault your ecclesiology is collapsing faster than the Houston Texans.

3. Primacy of Peter, apostolic succession, Eucharist. If I were going to shout, wave my arms, and pointlessly pound the table in a futile attempt to bring the Christian world Home, this is what I would say. [So, pretty much a normal day.--ed.]

2. "What did the Fathers know, and when did they know it?" Bishop-gate? Schism-gate? Luther-gate? Hmmmmm.

1. I'll see your two ecumenical councils, and raise you 19 more. I'd fold, if it were my hand.

Monday, December 10, 2012

List

5 Thoughts On The New England Patriots

5. 10-3, after a sluggish start. Yes, you read that right.

4. Wes Welker had a bad game.

3. It was 42-14, and yet I think the Patriots feel their offense was sluggish.

2. Darth Hoodie will not be pleased with the four consecutive punts.

1. Brady has help from the defense. Look out.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Party!

I enjoyed the party. Thanks to George Capps for inviting me. Our first game was Taboo, and believe me, I was thrilled to find out that the buzzer was broken. It makes a more obnoxious noise than evangelical leaders talking about economics. I digress. The boys won, 21-18. Our next game was called Encore. You get a card with a word on it, and the goal is to sing a phrase from a song with the word (or the idea) in it. 6 little words is all you need. DO NOT play this game competitively in a large group; there will never be a winner. You'd be surprised how well everyone does.

I was called, "a country music legend" by one person I didn't know, and Jacob Torbeck said that there'd be no way any team with me on it would lose the game. That was before we started. I guess I helped make it a stalemate. I'm pretty sure Randy Jackson of American Idol fame knows more songs than me. And I'll bet "The Deb" does, as well. But I do know a ton of songs. It's in my nature.

Yesterday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Or is that a solemnity? Either way, it's awesome. I'm no great theologian, but I had a few thoughts. It's really a celebration of Jesus that Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin. It's for him that she was given this gift, and it's through Christ that we have the gift of her. If the prayer of a righteous man (or woman) avails much, how much does the prayer of a quintessentially righteous person avail us? And God would always answer those prayers. I asked her to pray for humility on my behalf. I sensed right away that I had received what I asked. He doesn't need to do that, but he did.

They say that we have an inordinate focus on Mary. I remember thinking that. All I can ask is, "With respect to what?" It's not fair to compare bad Catholics to good Protestants, to start. So if we compare apples to apples, one thing becomes clear: Catholics are obsessed with Jesus. I'm serious. He's everything. Other Catholics may not understand the fullness of the treasures of the Church through Christ, but it doesn't mean they aren't there.

Someone recently asked me why I almost always say "Mother Church" instead of just "Church." I say it because I am no longer in dissent. I am no longer a rebellious son. I say it in honor of St. Cyprian, who is right. God is our Father, and the Church is our mother. And so is Mary. Happy feast, everybody.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Reconciliation and Regret

I like talking. Talking and words are how I come to understand. If there's a problem, I value the opportunity to talk it out. Words are the means by which I communicate my deepest desires and thoughts.

Silence is good for many things. Peace. Reflection. Reverence. We need it sometimes, in order not to be bombarded by a Cacophony Of Words, even in our minds. Silence is not so good for being angry. Angry silence is the worst kind. I hate it more than shouting. I try to remember that people need time to cool off, to think about things.

I was once told not to push so hard to reconcile, that it was too soon. Honestly, I don't get that. But like I said, we have different temperaments and all that. So you do what you do. You pray. You fight through the pain and the anger, even if it was your fault. And wait, I guess.

Father Coffey told me it happens. It happened to him. He said he said the wrong thing, and that was it. To this day, I don't understand. I'm not built that way. It seems completely foreign to the reign of Christ in the hearts and lives of Christians. If that sounds like a guilt-trip, it is. There are a few things I know cause conflict between certain friends and me. Politics is a big one. But we don't have to talk about that, or anything else, if we know it's not good for us to reach our goal: to be with God.

But I'm just telling you, straight up: You're sinning against God, not reconciling with your brother. And Jesus spoke pretty plain about it. He said if you don't forgive, you're not forgiven. Not everybody has to be your Andrew, James, and John. But we don't have the option of loving in some generic way, while having that person we can't stand.

I still feel the movements of the anger sometimes. You worry if it would take over, if you got the chance to speak again. But then, it's enough to say, "I'm wounded, and I'm incomplete because we're not OK." Because that's what we mean to say. I heard one wise man say that anger should be sadness oftentimes, and we men especially misplace it a lot.

I am really sad. I wanted to come here and erase all memory of this person, and from every place. But I can't, and I shouldn't. Because if I say they don't matter, that they never did, I'm a liar. If they don't matter, why am I still writing and thinking about them?

So, first things first: I plead with Chris and Adam to reconcile, as is fitting in the Lord Jesus Christ. You can decide how best to deal with those things that drive you crazy and make you mad at each other. But you don't have the option of not being friends. I'm just telling you. You're already brothers. Make the connection.

And for me personally, I renew my sorrow and regret for the offense I caused. If I could undo it, I would. But I can say that I wish you well, and I go toward Heaven remembering that you were and are a blessing to me. It hurts and angers me that I might have to go to Heaven before we speak again, but I'll do it. Just know that I'm still right here, if you want to talk.

CRPD

I have now read the entirety of the United Nations Convention On The Rights Of People With Disabilities. Though precious little jumps out at one as offensive on its face, the people of the United States, who both understand the nature and genius of our Constitution, should oppose the treaty vigorously. The genius of our Constitution is that it limits specifically the government of the United States. It is not an exaustive treatment of the aspirations of the American people as a part of the human family; it entrusts those aspirations to the people themselves.

Without prejudice to the citizens of other nations, who have the right to define their relation to their governments however they wish, this is rare. International treaties, as per the US Constitution itself, "trump" that document itself. We can hope, therefore, that our leaders would only enter in to such agreements in the gravest of circumstances, where the common good of all humanity was in view, and the basic liberties of individuals were unaffected by the United States's entry into such a pact. There is neither a compelling interest to override, nor a protection for the individual inalienable rights, within the document. And what exactly does this treaty accomplish? There is no enforcement mechanism. Nor would you want one, if there were.

I fail to see how the US ratifying the treaty will inspire others to improve their treatment of the disabled, and symbolism seems to be the best rationale for the treaty. Americans don't trade freedom--backed up by judicial review--for symbolism. If it has no effect on the laws of the US with respect to these questions, why ratify it? Even if the UN has no ability to enforce its own mandates, why would any sensible person empower a government official to take any action not subject to judicial review? This even applies to US government officials. If you can't picture an infringement upon your basic rights under the pretext of fulfilling a treaty obligation, you have more faith than I do.

And frankly, because "innocuous platitudes" would be the most generous way to describe the treaty, that just isn't strong enough to justify this ceding of power. Art. 49 states that the treaty must be accepted without reservation. If that weren't bad enough, do we even know who has the authority to withdraw the US from a ratified treaty? Suppose the president needed a 2/3 supermajority to do that?

Read it yourself. If it doesn't scare you, it should. I can't believe the Left didn't think it was a big deal, and why so many feel it's OK to mock those who raise concerns. You can make jokes about black helicopters if you like, but only the foolish entrust their rights to others for transient and debatable objectives. Thank you, Rick Santorum.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Church

I have been accused of many things in my short time on this rock, but undue deference to a man is never going to stick. [You could say that one again, jerk.--ed.] Anyway, I was talking it over with God just now, and if the bishops, guided by the Holy Spirit, want to wade in and short-circuit a political discussion by sanctifying one particular policy over another...well, I'll just say, "Thy will be done," and we can be foolish together.

The rest of you, there's at least a 32.4% chance that I don't care what you think. (This still means you, Bob Costas.) In any case, if any of my previous statements seemed to indicate a possible unwillingness to submit to the authority of the bishops, it was not intentional.

I'm usually a very affable contrarian, but I am a contrarian. As much as I love consensus and agreement and harmony, a false, comfortable version of those things irritates me. We all have to be on guard that we don't make character judgments about people based upon a little information. Believe me, I am the worst. Still. America may run on Dunkin' Donuts, but American politics runs on Ad Hominem.

Politics is something I enjoy. [You don't seem to enjoy it.--ed.] And the quickest way to get me to explore another side of an issue is to call the people on that side "extreme." Not to say real extremes aren't out there, and consequences negative, but in my experience, this is a word in politics often used to silence people you don't like, especially when you don't have an argument to make that anyone will buy. Note to Jason Whitlock: The NRA and the KKK are not the same thing. You're a sportswriter, and not even a good one. You don't have the leeway of The Great Bob to begin with, and I'm looking up from my NRA application and Babyface collection to tell you how dumb your statements are. I don't own a gun, but from what I know of the "gun culture" you gentlemen speak so cavalierly about, I think it's a culture of not getting killed by criminals. Just sayin.' Other note: "Semi-automatic" weapons cover anything you don't have to cock and/or reload after every shot, so let's bear that in mind before we go forward in our emotional overreaction to a tragedy.

I digress. I am probably going to face challenges going forward, grappling with the divine-human reality that is the Church. But may it never be that I dissent from what she teaches as the apostolic faith.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Church-State

"The basic point I want to make is, quite frankly, the bishops have no expertise and no grounds to come down on one side or the other. This is the epitome of a prudential judgment sort of issue, and brandishing a few Bible verses doesn't make it less debatable or contentious."
The reason I say this so strongly is that, the biblical commands do not tell us whether or not to build a border fence, whether to impose tax penalties, etc. I might believe we need a fence and other measures, but if faced with a person in need, those concerns are less pressing, obviously.
Perhaps my annoyance at certain simplistic formulations obscured my strong affirmation of human dignity with respect to immigrants. I have no idea why the bishop of northern GA has deemed it necessary to opine, when none of the proposals on any side will have anything to do with the way legal immigration is conducted, nor prevent Christian people from acting in accord with mercy and the gospel in the case of an illegal immigrant. I checked the Catechism under the subject heading "Immigrants" and found nothing directly applicable to the matter at hand.
If I'm missing something, I would welcome the feedback.

Sports, Politics, Rick Santorum

5 Thoughts For Today

5. That awkward moment when listening to Jay-Z when you realize, "I haven't prayed today."

4. 117 days until MLB Spring Training. Let's cut the crap: In comparison, I don't care about football.

3. Bob Costas, you are one of the greatest sports announcers the world has ever known. I'd rather listen to you than almost anyone. You are a credit to your profession. Loved "Fair Ball." That said, I don't give a rip about your view of the Second Amendment. Shut your pie-hole. This is a football game, not Donnybrook.

2. I enjoyed "Red Dawn." As the problem unfolded, and the bad guys did their thing, I enjoyed saying, "Those commie &^#*@%$" a bunch of times.

1. I still love Rick Santorum, just so you know.

Immigration

If I were al-Qaida, I would start a terror cell in a Mexican border town. Let me preface the rest of this rant with the statement that I'm fairly flexible--even undecided--on what to do about illegal immigration. Right off the top, mass deportation is not an option. It is both unworkable, and un-Christian. I do not, however, believe that the Christian teaching to be hospitable to the alien and sojourner obligates me as a matter of faith to support the specific policy of granting amnesty and citizenship to those who come to the United States illegally. Doing this makes poor schmucks out of those who follow the rules. I wouldn't. Why? Not when US politicians are lined up to dole out the goodies.

On the other hand, we can dramatically simplify the process for becoming a United States citizen, and increase the numbers of people we accept as visitors to the United States. Citizenship confers privileges and obligations, and should never be granted lightly.

The DREAM Act has a great many appealing aspects, but some not so good.

The basic point I want to make is, quite frankly, the bishops have no expertise and no grounds to come down on one side or the other. This is the epitome of a prudential judgment sort of issue, and brandishing a few Bible verses doesn't make it less debatable or contentious.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Faith and Works


“I have no problem with religious acts, as long as they are a result of being saved and forgiven, not as a way to be saved and forgiven.” Why does anyone accept this reasoning as anything close to what the Bible plainly teaches? “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Did not Ananias and Sapphira die when they lied? “True religion that the Father accepts is this: to look after orphans and widows…” Do you recall the sheep and the goats? What’s this nonsense about having to be already forgiven in order to do anything? King Saul lost the kingdom because he did a “religious act.”

 

Let’s tell the truth: This is crazy. This is a theological conclusion so derived from party spirit that the text doesn’t even make sense anymore. If you can be damned by an act, surely you can be saved by one.

 

How did words and deeds working together become, “We save ourselves”? I keep looking for that in the Catechism. It must be in there. After all, the Reformers said it; it must be true.

 

That prideful Mother Theresa! She obviously walked around thinking she was something! It might be time to rethink this other theological trajectory, before somebody gets hurt. Oh, wait.

 

If you want to say “Apart from me, you can do nothing,” fine, we agree. That has never been the issue. But if you think we Catholics just sit around and cower, hoping God will love us, I’m going to laugh in your face. I hope it’s medicinal. Too bad you don’t have the Sacrament of Penance; that’s even more medicinal.

Dr. King

You know, there are people who frustrate me. The way they say things. The way they approach people who may be less intelligent, or at least less credentialed than them. Or maybe they don't see the moral implications of a thing the way I do. It happens.

I'm a very intelligent dude. That's not a boast. It's just the way things are. 97.4% of the time, I'm the smartest person in any room. But I'm the son and grandson of average folks. I like ordinary people. I really do watch NASCAR. I listen to country music. If I ever run for office, my opponent is already doomed, because I connect with people pretty well.

Provided, of course, that I can stay calm. I do have a bit of a temper. My trigger for anger is usually incurious stupidity or rank unfairness or injustice. People who have seen me argue politics and think I make Rush Limbaugh look like a moderate are very wrong. On the other hand, I will argue an extreme position or defend a marginalized person in a discussion if I think the other argument is a needless attack or otherwise stupid. Whatever kind of political conservative I am, I came to it because those positions and people were not being heard. In fact, they were being denigrated as subhuman. And everyone smugly moved on, content in their credentialed elitism. I hated that, and I still do.

But those things that I might be considered a "progressive" on usually have something to do with race, at least indirectly. And just to be blunt about it, I mean black people. African-Americans. I'm sure my own wrestling with becoming me as a "different" sort of person who didn't quite fit in had something to do with it. I listened to black music. I even "talked black" sometimes, and I can do it now pretty easily. [You still listen to black music, all the time.--ed.] When I was 13 maybe, I picked up a book called "The Days Of Martin Luther King." It was probably written in 1972 or '73, not long after he died, and it borders on hagiography. But you know what? I don't care. That's big-time hero stuff right there. The whole Civil Rights movement of that era was. Because most of it was done without hurting a fly, and with the gospel of Jesus Christ as the driving force. If the South had not been profoundly Christian, it would not have worked. And Dr. King knew that. Which is not to say that it was a big huge Bible study. No; his "Letter From Birmingham Jail" is one of the best articulations of natural law you will read.

We all have to try to remember a few basic facts about how we got to that movement in the first place. Essentially, after the North won the Civil War and passed the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution (look them up), we had in place at least the basics for legal equality. But the North lost the political will to enforce Reconstruction. The South "redeemed" their governments soon after, and basically undid or rendered void those amendments. The North and South were like two countries, as they would have been if the South had won. I seriously doubt we would be where we are (such as it is) if some of the major events of the movement had not been on TV, like Emmett Till's funeral, or the Montgomery bus boycott. You know white people; it didn't really happen until it's on TV.

If there was a virtue in Dr. King's assassination (and he definitely deserves that word to be applied to his death) it's that his more narrowly political projects (read: leftish) never came to public scrutiny. And he himself became both more disillusioned and radical than he appeared in public in the early days. I'm glad we never saw that. Leftism is still stupid, even when done by heroes.

If I may make a political digression, I think it will be absolutely critical that the Republican Party begins to have its leaders and figureheads be black and brown. So goes Black America, so goes America. And we're right; we've always been right. The Civil War, won by a Republican president. Constitutional amendments? GOP Congress. Federal desegregation? Republican. Passing the Civil Rights Act? Republicans. I think it's moronic and inane that Republicans today are presumed racist, given these facts.

And as much as I suspect that discussions of "white privilege" are a Marxist plot, (and they are) we also cannot expect that a magic wand was waved in 1965, and made everything OK. It wasn't that long ago. And I'm all for not making excuses, and holding people responsible, but we cannot tell Black America to "get over it." Even as I think that most of the progressive responses to all this are racist themselves, either in outright intent, or in result, I must stress that.

Big-time hero stuff. So please, don't let your mental encyclopedia article on Dr. King or Rosa Parks say something like, "Some people who did stuff a long time ago, and apparently, people are still excited." Well, yeah. In a sense, the great promise of our nation was not realized until it was experienced by those people. How great is America? We can be brought to shame with the true meaning of our own ideals. We still have work to do, but I'd rather tackle a great challenge in America than anywhere else.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Advent

Advent. I'm neither Catholic nor attentive enough to have noticed that the Gloria was missing, although, when the priest mentioned it in the homily, I'd swear I felt it right then. I didn't feel terribly spiritual going to Mass this evening, though I didn't feel weighted down by sin, either.

BUT, when I entered the sanctuary, it was but a few seconds when I sensed that it was Advent. It had slipped my mind intellectually. Still, I could not brush away this anticipation. If I didn't know better, I'd call it agitation. I can't call it joyous, at least not yet. What I felt was need. I need Jesus to be here. Even as I felt shame for losing patience earlier this week, and for being timid in sharing my faith. Yet there is something else: I have something to live for. Or rather, someone. And it really does make all the difference.

We all want to seem normal and well-adjusted. But the truth is, none of us are. You can maybe dance it away, or drink it away, or sex it away, but a gaping wound is hard to hide. There are still fleeting joys for the walking dead, but they are even more fleeting than we think. And here I thought I was being kind, not talking about Jesus. These people are dying, and I'm worried they won't like me?

Existentialists aren't totally nuts, you know. This life doesn't have much in it, if you tire quickly of pleasure and distraction. But if you grab the flashes of good and hold on, the magical rope leads to God. You can't build your own meaning in life, but you can find it. And lo and behold, the ordinary moments aren't so ordinary.

Meanwhile, I was watching Columbo yesterday. If you've never seen this show, it ran on and off from 1968-2003 as a series of roughly movie-length crime dramas starring Peter Falk as the titular detective. He always seems absent-minded, losing his keys, asking suspects for a pen, and "One more thing..." But the joke was on them. It still feels to me like Lt. Columbo could only live in a world where Jesus rose from the dead. Think on it: The unfailing politeness, the silly stories, the relentless pursuit of truth. Lt. Columbo is the perfect example of an ordinary guy living a holy life. Peter Falk died last year, having slipped into dementia in 2007. He had apparently accepted one last Columbo script that year, but it was never made. I hope Peter Falk is in Heaven. His character would be, most certainly.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Trade Policy

No, I will not buy American. That's stupid protectionist nonsense. I'll buy whatever I happen to need at an agreeable price, regardless of the origin. If there are ethical concerns about it, well OK then. But I won't fail to notice that everyone is better off when nations trade freely.

Free-flowing international commerce creates economic interdependence, and that is one protection against war. Trade wars create actual wars, and war is never desirable.

It's amazing how stupid people can be.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"List"-less

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I love college basketball, despite it being a big corporate blight on our system of higher education.

4. The Civil War was about slavery for the South. Whatever lessons we may draw in terms of limited government from that episode, the CSA will not be our teachers. Despite the plethora of undoubtedly virtuous and interesting men from that side of the conflict, I am glad EVERY SINGLE DAY that they lost.

3. I want a tax credit for my sugary, fizzy beverages.

2. Replacing Susan Rice with John Kerry is like replacing low batteries with dead ones.

1. Duke.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Friends

OK, it bothers me, I admit it. I know exactly how many Facebook friends I have at any one time. I've lost 6 in the last 2 weeks. Could be people closing their accounts. Fair enough. But it bugs me to think someone is mad at me or something, and unfriended me.

Even with 864 friends, you must know that I don't take such things lightly. I have never seriously contemplated unfriending someone. There are people I met once, and maybe will never talk to again, but you never know. I feel bad when I can't remember someone's name, but I know that no encounter with another human being is a light matter.

It stings a little when you see a profile of someone you were friends with, and it gives you the option to add them. Since I know I wasn't the one to drop them, I'm not going to add them again. On the other hand, it might make the person tell you why they dropped you in the first place. Remarkably, I've had people drop me and add me again, twice, without explanation. Well, if they don't want to share, I won't pry.

What does "cleaning out your friends list" mean, anyway? It sounds like another excuse to be callous, if you ask me. But no one ever does.

Some of my friends are outright communists, or something close, and as mad as their mindless idiocy makes me, I won't unfriend them, either. You'd have to do something way more heinous than be a moron to have me not call you a friend any more, either virtually or really. [Not exactly politically magnanimous of you.--ed.] Well, 'moron' is pretty tame compared to "vicious, poor-hating, racist, religious nut-case." I digress.

Anyway, things to think about. A little button with a check-mark means more to people than you think it does.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Invisible Church?

Thank you, Pope Pius XII: "Hence they err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible, a something merely 'pneumatological' as they say, by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are united by an invisible bond."

Those of you with a more mathematical, precise bent may benefit from a longer exposition here on the "Catholics are divided, too" objection.

For my part, I had a few comments. First, the mere fact of disagreement between people tells us nothing about the nature of the disagreement, or the potential basis for reunion, because we don't have a baseline to measure it against. But in Catholicism, there is a baseline, so that whether the error is heresy or schism, those terms have objective meaning.

This is the basic flaw in an old, "The Council cannot be authoritative, because it did not include x group" argument. It would allow dissenters to define orthodoxy, and not the other way around. The fundamental heart of being a son of the Catholic Church is to give unqualified assent to that which has been revealed, worshipping Christ in visible unity with the bishops and the successor of Peter. That's real, even if I were the only one to do it. The truth of a doctrine is not defined by majority opinion. The ardence with which some dissent (and a non-negligible amount of sympathy any one may garner in it) is not pertinent to the question of truth.

In fact, that's the whole point: There is a discernible body of truth that itself gives meaning to the term "heresy," and a visible Body of Christ that gives meaning to the word, "schism." Because of this, paradigmatically, the Catholic paradigm would be preferable to the Protestant, even if it were not true. (But it is, so it works out.)

As I've written dozens of times, the fatal blow to perpiscuity and Sola Scriptura isn't some emotional judgment on the sometimes fractious nature of theological discussions under the paradigm; in fact, the opposite is the case. Because charity requires me to assume good faith, I must explain the fact of our disagreement in terms other than, "I am right, and you must be wrong," given that 1) we are using the same hermeneutical process, and 2) We (presumably) both have access to the Father by the same Spirit, and, consequently, 3) God cannot lie. And so, that leads one to examine the relationship between God, myself, and the supposed mediating influence of the ecclesial community. It cannot be real, if Pius XII's quote is an accurate reflection of Protestant ecclesiology (it is) and/or the basis for dissent inside Catholicism, because the extent of external authority over the doctrine and life of an individual is nil when he alone is the arbiter of the justice, and the terms of its exercise.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wants

It's kinda cold here. Not bitter, but it's cold enough that I don't want to go outside. [You never want to go outside.--ed.] OK. There's much work ahead. I don't want to do it. But most of the time, like the weather, the clouds are not as dark as they appear.

I've been lax in my prayers recently, but I was literally inspired to pray a whole bunch. It was finding out about people's trials and reading the Catechism. My favorite passage from the past couple of weeks is paragraph 278. It's in the context of whether God is omnipotent. Now, the answer to this is an easy 'yes,' if one is thinking clearly about the definitions of the words, but people's spiritual problems are rarely intellectual.

Doesn't that paragraph just sound like a priest or Jesus admonishing you with rhetorical questions? At least it inspires me to make my "I'm sorry I asked" Face. Isn't it odd that although most people can't think their way out of a wet paper bag, at the same time, we're cultivating this slavish technocratic deference to supposed "experts"? The joke's on us, because they don't know any more than we do, least of all the things that matter. [What's with you and wet paper bags?--ed.] My gift is stupidly humorous, non-sensical metaphors and catch-phrases; if I don't use my gifts, then what am I here for? [Wow. Just wow.--ed.]

Tomorrow will not be a good day, I fear. On the other hand, I generally hate this entire month on account of that day now, and I'm doing OK now. Still, never forget that there are things much worse than the separation of death. I'd give back a hundred friends to heal this gulf caused by sharp words. There isn't a single day I don't think about it.

I guess you could say it's been a good year, even if it has been...uneven. I'm not on a fast track to Hell, though I deserve to be the doorman at best in the Kingdom. I'm not just pulling your chain; I read about this "indifference" we're supposed to have, and I just think, "That's not me." There are lots of worldly goods I prefer to others; I doubt I could say that any of them is just a means to my final end with God.

If I couldn't hear music, I'm not sure I could handle that. That's why I sort of chuckle when people think CP is such a huge burden. It isn't. It's just different. I can't run or ride a bike, but I enjoy watching you do it, by the way. I'm insanely competitive. The reason guys watch sports a lot is because something in us resonates deeply with triumph after a great struggle. Sports is a little picture of that without all the suffering (at least for the rest of us). Maybe in that sense, it isn't so good. How good is a thing if it's not hard to obtain? And who are we to make judgments about some guy in a game, when we can't do 1% of what athletes do?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christ The King

It was a "set your hair on fire" kind of homily. Or more appropriately, your heart. Father spoke about Calles and his persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico in the 1920s. He said that the world, the flesh, and the devil were really behind the whole thing, and ultimately, Satan is in a battle with Heaven for your heart and mine. In the little things, in the big things, in all things. He asked us to whom our hearts belonged, reminding us that they cannot belong to both. And he concluded with "Viva Cristo Rey!" or, "Long live Christ the King!," the words the martyrs shouted as they gave their lives.

Might I add that you need to see the film, "For Greater Glory" if you haven't. It tells this story, and does it well. It was easily the movie of the year.

I couldn't help but think yesterday--as I had my very own Thanksgiving, Part II (Mexican Style)--that my worlds are merging. Any good Christian you read will say that we must learn to see the ordinary in the light of the extraordinary, the commonplace in the light of the divine. I sensed that yesterday, that I was doing it. We were not a family eating turkey and watching football as ends in themselves; we were preparing for today, and celebrating Christ as the flock of his pasture. It is not for me to speculate about whether everyone saw it that way; the plain fact is, God's grace had reached down to open the way for that day to occur, and it is incumbent upon us who see it to give thanks.

It's good to say that not only are you not compartmentalizing your life, but there are no compartments. If we can begin to say that, we certainly are not far from the Kingdom of God.

Happy Feast of Christ the King!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Good World, Still

When I was a teenager, one popular TV character would see advertisements for a show called, "Sick, Sad World." The protagonist wanted you to see everything with as much irony and cynicism as she did.

And it's not far off the mark. We could give each other a million examples. The good we're supposed to have, juxtaposed with what humanity seems to settle for could shatter the heart of any reasonable person. To be frank about it, in just this last year, I've had enough suffering and mourning for a lifetime, if it was my call. It isn't, but in case you were curious, now you know.

And maybe I'm the wrong sort of person to write what I'm about to write. I'm not exactly known for melancholy. Still, it comes to this: I think the Christian mission behind the mission will be to convince the world that this cosmos we live in is good. The whole world is screaming, "Who cares? Life sucks and then you die!" even while their souls vibrate with the truth planted inside by God Himself.

It's good to laugh again. It wasn't that long ago I thought maybe I never would the way I did before. Right in the midst of all this horror and trial all around us, laughter. Pure and good, right in every way, as full as the waters in the sea it was. If it isn't an echo of the perfect beatitude that awaits us, may I never laugh again. What does it say? "And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; neither shall they hunger anymore; neither shall they thirst anymore." Will that get you out of bed in the morning?

I think sometimes I must be imbalanced or something. I know not everyone feels or experiences things so intensely. If this is imperfect life, what is Heaven, truly?

If you'll forgive the sentimentality here, I can look into the eyes of people I love and know that I cannot adequately describe what bonds there are between us. And imperfect as we often are, demonstration is no surer a means than the feeble words. It's like the present rushes past us like a dream, and only when it's past do we begin to know what power we have.

Just by the nature of life, we know that we can't hold on too tight. We are but a breath. Still, give those hugs and words that make your friends and family ask if you're all right. If we don't, this sick, sad world will take us down.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Catholics pray too fast. I want to shake them in public prayer. The leadership wants to know why many don't interiorize their faith; it's because you permit them to say our devotionals a thousand miles an hour. The vocal part is only the exterior; mental prayer is what matters. Converts will tell you if you're praying too fast; in general, you're praying too fast.

And before some uppity cradle Catholics get all bent out of shape about the converts thinking they know everything, chill. I didn't propose a change to the Mass; I'm just telling you, if this is about our hearts, you're not even letting them in.

See, one great thing about the separated brethren is that, whether they're doing exactly what they should do, or taking a hacksaw to the faith once delivered, in any case, it's ALL FOR JESUS. I can't say I've never lost my focus in prayer. And if you have a plan to do something, do it, even if you don't feel like it. But spiritual things are not items on a checklist. God doesn't give busy work. That's why He says, "Rend your hearts, and not your garments."

I digress. I went to Mass this morning. The Communion hymn was "Gift Of Finest Wheat." A beautiful Catholic hymn that is all too rare, or so it seems. But we have two. And the second sounded like Barry Manilow. Which is not bad at all, on one hand. On the other, it seemed ill-fitting for the context. Speaking of losing focus, I could not stop myself: "Manilow called; he wants his catalogue back."

Terrible, I know. "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good."

What's My Life For?

Writers write. That's what they say. And fighters fight. You can't chase someone else's imagination of what you're supposed to be. You've gotta be what you are. And if you stay beyond the place where your skills win the day, hopefully you've got that pride, the pride that still earns respect when you come up short.

The sun shines a different color when you are bound only to yourself and God. The lines on your face are from laughter, because you seek out joy, instead of thinking it's owed to you. But think how much energy people waste trying to convince other people everything is fine. If there's a weight on your soul, a drinking buddy who doesn't know you from a hole in the ground isn't going to help.

Have you hung around a place like that, when only the most obtuse person would easily conclude that these people have nothing to live for? We're not talking about some friends celebrating a promotion; we're talking about blotting the real for the surreal.

Don't do that. Life is terrible sometimes. But I'll take terrible over numb every single time. If I'm picked to suffer, that must mean there's something great on the other side.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Plan of Life

It's time to restart my Plan of Life. It's not a great existential thing; it's a phrase that describes a generally set way to pray and live each day in order to reach maximum holiness. On the other hand, what's more existential than that?

A little piece of advice from the spiritual hinterlands: If you get an idea to change the plan, and it didn't come from your spiritual director, there is an 84.2 percent chance that it came from Satan. That was a terrible month! And we know the reason now, don't we? Even though immaterial beings are not composed of matter by definition, there should be no doubt that Satan is a piece of crap. He will do anything to pull us away from God, leave us lonely, confused, and chained to our sins.

You thought you had me, didn't you? Yeah, well, I don't think so. I may go to Confession soon, just to spite the monster. But that is what the old priest had said: God speaks quieter. I should have remembered Elisha.

It's true that we often have mixed motives in doing good things. I'm probably the guiltiest one. Yet if we say "the prayers," it is far worse not to say them at all, or to think we are better than we are. So we should say them. And quite literally to Hell with all the rest. [You just associated your pagan devotional practices with the liturgy in Acts 2:42.--ed.] Yes, I did. And what's it to you? You wouldn't know any licit practices or beliefs if we hadn't taught them to you. [Pshhh.--ed.] We're still waiting for the credible reason why we should care what Calvin says. Or any of them. The bishops of the first millenium quake in fear as they wait for your "unmasking" of their "usurpation" of the "true Church." There are 200 odd successors of Peter having a good laugh, too.

If the nothingness of consumer-driven Christianity is to be beaten back by theology in community, as we are told countless times and ways, this is where the two-fold vise-grips of the means of credibility really starts to crank. On the one hand, theological continuity/stability, and on the other, visible unity. It still remains that the answer to the question, "Who asked us?" for any Protestant community is that no one did. On the other hand, to even ask the question that way supposes that the community has real authority. Which is the real heart of the problem, actually: Whether the church has real authority that is binding on the faithful in the Protestant world. The Leithart thing actually had nothing to do with Leithart. It was the perfect picture of the failure to really answer this question. And it's no one's fault. They're both right, and both wrong. The confessionalists rightly nail Leithart to the wall for failing to uphold tradition; Leithart gently reminds them that this whole movement was started as a rejection of tradition. Tradition, that is.

The quest to build the more perfect fundie has reached its pinnacle in guys like Leithart. But here's the funny part: he's no different than the mega-church guys; he's Rob Bell with a bigger bookshelf. At least with respect to who decides what is dogmatically true. It's the faith once-delivered, with a line-item veto. Same question: Who asked you? Or better said, "Who sent you?"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Funeral

I willingly went to a funeral today for the first time in 23 years. I lost my father in 1989. Three years later, I ended up at the funeral for my grandfather's sister. I fell apart completely. I had to leave. I had a firm determination never to do that again.

But earlier this week, I found out that my dear friend Carol (Confirmation Sponsor Lady) had lost her mother. She and her husband know that I'd do anything for them. Of course I have to go. Just tell me when to show up. If I can get a little sentimental here, I don't think either of them realizes how special they are to me. And I'm not the only one.

Dad understands my reticence all this time, but I know he'd tell me to go, too. If I can take a moment and try to describe what it's like to lose a parent, I'll do my best, and I hope you're still with me.

It's like falling down in a well or a hole. The darkness is your anguish, but there is no floor. Somehow, time pulls you out, and you go on. But God puts the hole behind a locked door. He hands you the key. You may be able to talk about what's behind the door, but you don't open it. It's just a hole, after all. I'm not sure how I've told the story so many times without falling back in the hole.

But I go back behind the door at times, not of my own choosing. You don't really heal; you just learn what not to do. Or if you can't, you just know what a fall down the hole will cost you. My life waits, for the most part. And if not, tough. Those who are close to me have seen The Sadness From Nowhere. If not, maybe you have good timing.

I was worried today. I was worried that these people would be consoling me instead of Carol. But something happened. I don't understand it. God was there. His promises of eternal life in Christ were like the beats of our hearts. He was in the air. Today I knew like I have never known: This isn't the end. We heard the story again of how Pat made her peace with God, not only in her conversion, but in the days before she died. This was special to me in ways beyond words.

The Mass. For the Catholic, there is no purer joy on Earth. This is where the worlds meet, after all. I'm sure our words hardly do it justice, but they are still true. And so, with a few alterations, we did what we always do: sing the praises of God in His Son Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit had surely opened our eyes.

I was not overcome by sadness; the moment came when the priest mentioned "choirs of angels," and I could hardly keep my breath. It was as though the idea had a piece of glory in it.

We went to commit her body to the ground. I'm not sure I've prayed that hard before. Days like this will test your faith; days like this will grow your faith. I still marvel at the liturgy of Mother Church; whatever we might say about the holiness of the people, the people who wrote these prayers have gospel coming out their ears. I felt my soul cling to each promise like a needy child.

Let me end by saying that the day felt like a turning point: where there had been hopeless anguish for me, there is simply hope. The days ahead may be filled with tears for my friends. This is good and right. But Carol will not be like that little boy on that winter day in 1989. May the Lord be praised for that.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Death Is Wrong

Death is all around us. In neither takes imagination or great vision to notice. And it's fundamentally wrong, though it is commonplace. At this point, it'd be easy to say, "How horrible! Come, Lord Jesus!" and move on. But we can't. We've got to think through some things.

You know, we weren't supposed to die at all. Death came through sin. On the other hand, that gift of immortality was just that, a gift, and one above our nature, at that. (Contra Crazy Uncle Marty and others) God somehow saw fit to pair an immortal soul with a mortal body, and to keep them together in redemption. Thus ends the theology lesson for the day. Except to say that the mortal will become elevated, and not the other way around.

Wasn't it always one of those baffling Bible mysteries that Jesus waited for Lazarus to die, knew he was going to raise him, and cried anyway? If the God-man who is the perfect man wept, maybe the hope of Heaven isn't meant to be the only answer or word on the pain of death.

It says to me that "She's in a better place," even if true, isn't supposed to make it all OK. We know this by intuition, but often forget. But the other thing we forget is that spiritual death is far worse. What we hope in any one case is that the lesser death is not the sign of the greater.

Christ in the Eucharist is the food of eternal life. May our hearts break to be found unworthy to receive Him! But even if that is so, a man who acts in Christ's own person is not far away. And even if not, may that desire to be with Him pardon us while we wait for Christ's healing touch in the Sacrament of Penance.

Some say that such a sacrament offends the love in Christ's own finished work. Poppycock. Doesn't it rather say that the Savior will go as far as he needs to bring the cripples to His Table? The priests extend the humanity of Christ to the ends of the earth. Others can say 'Peace, peace' when there is no peace. His true priests can touch me and speak to me in the name of the Prince of Peace.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Whole Truth

I have to confess openly that I do not understand redemption. I could not possibly know the depth of God's love for me and all of us. But to be moving in the right direction is to say that you want to know. You want to grow.

I came to realize today that it's easy for the cares of this life and desires to get in the way of loving God. [That's not news, dummy.--ed.] Well, it was to me. How was RCIA, by the way? [Horrible. These people are way too happy. And this woman was certainly trying to bribe us with cookies.--ed.] I hate it when she does that. I mean, I love it. I mean, I don't want to get fat, but in the moment, I can't seem to care. [So they are sinful, then.--ed.] Simmer down, Calvinist. [I'd like an answer to the question.--ed.] No, the cookies are not sinful, you world-hating dualist. [You should talk.--ed.]

You're doomed, you know. If you keep going, you're Catholic. It's probably already over. [Shut up. I'm not weak and emotional like you.--ed.] We'll see, won't we? Why'd you do it, anyway? [I did it on a dare. No one calls me scared.--ed.] Well, good luck. God's blessings, and all that. [I'll be blessed by God when I walk out of there trusting in the finished work of Christ.--ed.] How right you are. More than you know.

I want to challenge all my non-Catholic Christian friends and brothers to take ownership of your dissent. There's a false ecumenism out there that says we are united in the essentials of faith. We're not. If we were, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Just know that what Holy Mother Church aims to do is challenge the credibility of the foundations for that dissent. You're not Catholic? Super. Then you cannot be united to me (fully) and the rest of the brethren who are. Anybody who tries to build a "unity" based on propositions, or warm fuzzies, or anything else is wasting your time. All of you have a real but imperfect union with the Church, insofar as you do not know that you ought to be Catholic. I digress. That's important because if it is Christ and Him alone that we seek, then we must find him where he is.

If Dylan Klebold or some other killer had a room full of Catholics at gunpoint, and he was going to kill them all, would you say you were among them? Leave aside the question of whether you could save them by giving your life. How important would the niceties be, at a time like that? Let's even say he doesn't know the theological niceties. You gonna stand apart, because 'FAITH ALONE!' and these people probably think God loves them for trying hard, anyway? I don't think so. At least that's true for me.

So I had to realize, if I wasn't ready to die for the particularities of what I'd been taught--we're talking much more specific than, "Jesus loves me, this I know"--then, firstly, I was unserious about the mission upon which I intended to embark as a minister of the gospel. Secondly, I owed it to the very men who were my forefathers in faith to take that faith as seriously as they did. You know, taking ordination vows is a dying to yourself. And those, even when imperfectly and invalidly done, are to God, not to men. And so it is that the heart of the question comes to be seen: Am I certain that these men, and not some other ones elsewhere, are acting in God's person, on His authority, in doing this?

It is in fact these men I would have gone to had I doubted the doctrine of Christ. Not, mind you, to some concept of the Church, but to the very expression of it that I had known. I cannot imagine the truth; I have to hear it. And if these men cannot, on God's authority, tell me what God says, firstly, why would I ask? And second, we do not simply know the gospel, we do the gospel. When the full implications of this run up against the historical witness and claim of the Catholic Church, there is only one thing left to do.

Because I have to know, as a Christian, that the liturgical actions I take, and that are done to me, come from God, with his sanction. At its heart, Christianity is a sacramental faith; this is because Christ is the Word Incarnate. Simple as that. God in Christ has chosen to work through people. All the better reason to ask whether certain men have been sent by God as his ministers. So, at the risk of being rude, spare me the chatter that we are united by we know not what. Our needs demand that we know what God has spoken--and what he has not--and to whom he has spoken--and not. At the very least, this truth should put to death the whole, "We won't know this side of Heaven" approach to the problem of our disunity. Jesus is not a grief counselor, who sits with you in grief, and says, "I don't know" when confronted with the unanswerable question. The present state of Christianity is not a mysterious act of God; it's an entirely avoidable tragedy. A bunch of wicked people doesn't change the truth about the Eucharist, or Christ's resurrection. If our need is holiness, then our need is not new truth, and a new method of finding it.

If we are to be with Christ, we should want all of Him, and all the truth that comes from Him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Relativism

I can't shake this feeling--or this snarky opinion--that everything is infected with relativism, like a disease. I mean, honestly. And you can't even say, "even among evangelicals," because that word is the epitome of the problem.

And don't even get me started on politics. This is the relativist's favorite playground. The only thing you have to do is say, "Well, we don't live for this world" or "Jesus didn't have a political program" or "Pox on both your houses!" or "I'm a moderate" or "I'm a Christian first" and you're done thinking.

That may not be fair, but it's kind of true. And anyone else who even dares suggest that it's more complicated than that, or Heaven forbid, that you might want details, oh, well, you're obviously taking a human, feeble thing way too seriously. OK, sorry I asked.

You know what, Christian Leader Guy? I want definitions of words; not everything is an endless search for a happy medium. And while I wholeheartedly concur that Barack Obama is not the Antichrist, pardon me for suggesting that this whole direction we are taking is illiberal.

This really isn't the time for measured tones, on a great many things. We have done a fair measure of listening, sharing, and mutual affirmation, from politics to ecclesiology, dogma, to family and a million other things. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Because if people can't look in my eyes and see the basic human respect that is there, and most times, should be assumed, nothing I say will change what they already decided. Save the apology tours; I'll make a friend or a brother based on what we actually share, not on feelings.

Just because it may not be cool to suggest that we're politically on a road to serfdom doesn't mean we aren't. And just because someone attends a church that sounds like yours, uses words you would use, and looks like you doesn't mean they aren't a gospel-destroying liar. Or at least imprecise and foolish enough to be used by them.

This is a touch more strident than I like to be. I'm sorry about that. I feel these shackles about me; they are called, "politeness." So many of the things that matter are so much more important than the Red Sox and the Yankees, and yet, people make a cottage industry out of saying, "It doesn't matter," or "Neither," as if we're supposed to be impressed with your detachment.

Niceness is not a gospel imperative; kindness is. And allow me to suggest that if time has weakened your stomach for speaking the truth in love, the wisest, most loving course is to step away.

Monday, November 12, 2012

5 Thoughts For Today

5. A tie? In American football? Really?

4. Ah-HA, Cutler sucks.

3. Skyfall.

2. I mean, Cutler is bad. He's worse at playing quarterback than Obama is at being president.

1. If the principals in the NHL labor dispute can't reach an agreement, they can always console themselves that even while not working, they still suck less than Jay Cutler.

Friday, November 09, 2012

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Grace is like a reset button for the sojourning Christian who stumbles.

4. Arguably, Daniel Craig may be known as the best James Bond of all time.

3. I am surrounded by great friends, many more than I could hope for.

2. I like my politicians honest, actually conservative, and physically fit. (Let the reader understand.)

1. It's obvious that she was beaten senseless with the Beautiful Stick.