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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wow. I'm looking smart today. I just said all that, didn't I? That's cool. Why is my traffic going down? [Because you are boring.--ed.] Mayhaps. But why are you so mean? I would tell you to go to Confession if you weren't such a stubborn, hapless pagan. [I thought you said we were Christians?--ed.] Yes. But you I fear may not make it. [As for hapless paganism, you would know.--ed.] See? That's what I mean.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Let me start by saying that John Roberts is a great Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He understands what the separation of powers is supposed to mean, and he has a long track record of deference to the legislative branch as representatives of the people. And with the health care law, this is exactly what he did: he presumed the law constitutional (as is his obligation) and then he tested that presumption in the light of Congress's enumerated powers. He was also constrained by the precedent of other decisions to try to find a possible interpretation that supports its constitutionality. And that's what he did.
Our partisan fights over the role of judges and courts have obscured the tensions within the Right, broadly speaking, about what courts should do, as this points out. Libertarians construe our rights as grounded in our individual liberty, and thus, view everything that happens in the political realm as something to be judged absolutely in light of those inalienable rights. (There will be some overlap between them.) They are much more comfortable with a court system that actively strikes down anything that violates a maximal view of individual rights under the Constitution. Many conservatives, however, have feared a court system that overrides the people for the sake of some preferred policy choice. They were united in that liberals were willing to use the courts (and the Supreme Court) as a kind of super-legislature when rebuffed in Congress or some other arena. But conservatives presume that laws passed by Congress are constitutionally valid oftentimes, while others argue that Congress or the president could do something radically antithetical to liberty just as easily. And they're both right. The judicial conservatives, who urge deference to the legislature, clearly were able to bring the judicial sin of 'legislating from the bench' into the political popular lexicon. But our rights in an absolute sense were clearly in view when Justice Rehnquist, unimpressed by O'Connor's appeals to precedent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (the last real challenge to legal abortion) pointed out that Plessy v. Ferguson ("separate but equal"/segregation) was on the books more than 90 years when the Court rightly struck it down in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (which desegregated public schools). Our Chief Justice is definitely saying that he is not taking responsibility for Congress writing a bad law. The libertarian strain of thought won't agree with what he did, but he never said he was an activist.
If we want this law gone, and if we want the HHS contraception mandate gone, we have only one choice: beat Obama.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mr. Butler will be pleased to know that I've begun my essay on Karl Barth. I'll bet a lot of people liked Karl Barth personally. I certainly do. There is no way you could read "Prayer" and not appreciate the man, on a human level. That's why any assessment of him, no matter how ultimately negative with respect to his theology, must be done according to objective theological norms (which Mother Church abundantly provides).
I now therefore realize that the Catechism will need employing, and that with great care. I used to think a heretic was a charmless Jesus-hater that nobody liked. Seriously. The whole time I was Protestant, it meant something like, "really really mean bad man." [What are you, an idiot?--ed.] But in theology, it means roughly, "one who holds a false opinion about God obstinately." Well, in order to recognize a false opinion, you need the body of true things about God. A lot of heretics might be charmless Jesus-haters with no friends, but this is not always so. In fact, you could hold any number of heresies and not be a Jesus-hater at all, in the supernatural sense. Only God knows. For my own reasons, I am omitting the arcane discussions on culpability that armies of canon lawyers were hoping to have. [There are no armies of anyone reading this. You couldn't rob a 7-Eleven with your readership.--ed.] OOF! Sheesh. Anyway, this leads me to remind everyone that I still believe I'm not a cheerleader. I didn't get bored and just hang up another flag, ecclesiologically and theologically. When I ask, "Who sent you?" or "Who asked you?" it is precisely because the particulars of anyone's theology must always be secondary in some sense to an assessment of its correspondence with revealed truth, and that person's authority to declare it in the name of Christ. So, the basic Protestant ecclesiological paradigm fails because it introduces, through Sola Scriptura, an unacceptable amount of uncertainty regarding that which must be held de fide by Christians. And since the link between the visible expressions of ecclesiastical authority and the fundamentally invisible "Church" in this view are (to put it charitably) less than clear, chaos and a loss of institutional control are not simply a worry; they are inevitable. The real power is held by the individual, not the institution(s). Any evidence to the contrary is an illusion, and a temporary one, at that. To put it another way, the paradigm fails because it obscures the body of revealed truth (the Church) and the implications and responsibilities of holding it. It is true that a person exploring entry into the Catholic Church uses reason to make the decision to do so. But the celebrated tu quoque objection fails precisely because it does not distinguish the difference between searching for the Church, and submitting to her. A person seeking the Catholic Church--whether she is Christ's Church--openly considers the possibility that she is not, and that those attendant doctrines could be false. A Catholic knows that she is Christ's Church, and receives her teaching as that revealed by God himself. If he dissents from her teaching, he is a heretic; if he breaks fellowship with her, he's a schismatic (with numerous qualifications in the reckoning of culpability in each case). Though they are distinct, a good Catholic knows to do either one is unwise.
Some may say that Catholics who insist that the Catholic Church is the one Christ founded, and that we should return to her "want to decide who is and is not a Christian when this is not their gift or calling" as one noted leader put it. On the contrary, the very existence of various communities of Christians holding different doctrines--as well as different definitions of what is most important and less so--indicates that Christians of various kinds within the Protestant world (not to mention the rest of us) do not agree on who a Christian is, or what he must believe. It is not that Catholics or the Catholic Church with its claim to authority have introduced the problem; in fact, it is a problem created by our separations from one another, and the disputes which often occasion the separations. But it also fails to take account of those separations themselves as sins which must be repented of, and not repeated. The branch theory of the church--which arises consequently from the idea that Christ's Church is invisible rather than visible--makes this repentance impossible, because it makes the very concept of schism impossible to distinguish from a branch. Some indefinite period of time is all that essentially turns a "schism" into a "branch." After all, if they won't come with you and agree with you, I guess you have to live with it, right? (And come up with an answer for what it means.)
The only reason I would even dare to suggest that the Catholic Church is Christ's Church is that the paradigm under which this could possibly be true already existed as the default at the time of the Reformation.
Just do me this favor, whether you agree with the above or not: DO NOT become Catholic (or Orthodox, for that matter) UNLESS you believe that the authority and doctrine to which you will assent was essentially there at the beginning. Anything less is a failure to apprehend the claims being made.
One cannot say "the Church is in transit" if we do not agree what we mean by 'Church.' And we shouldn't have hope that we ourselves are contributing to the eschatological expectation of the Christian people--or going in the correct direction--without asking, "What is the Church, and am I in it?" And for the record, if you have to answer "no," it doesn't mean you're going to Hell, or that you were ever on your way there, necessarily. But it does mean you're going to re-orient yourself.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What do I think of the trade of Kevin Youkilis? As strategy, it's ambiguous to bad. Purely as a fan who knows about the odd synergy between the fans, their team, and its special players, this is idiotic. This is the Red Sox equivalent of the Cardinals trading Willie McGee. [They did, you idiot.--ed.] And it was dumb. But he came back. And he could have played 5 more years and hit .203 and no Cardinals fan would have uttered a peep. The 3 most untouchable, revered, and beloved Cardinals of all time are: 1. Stan The Man, 2. Ozzie, and 3. Willie. That's just the way these things are. I utterly hate the Red Sox, and I don't know a great deal about that "unwritten" fans' history, but I do know that Youkilis is one of those guys. He'll be back. They might have to fire Bobby Valentine first, but "Youk" will be back with Boston, mark my words.
As of now, the front office has ruptured the bond between the team and its fans, and probably increased the incidence of depression among 10-12 year-old boys in New England. And frankly, I hope you're not dreaming of the postseason up there, because it's not happening. Baseball seasons are brutal. There's more up and down in a season than the streets of San Francisco. To make it through, you need to: 1. Win more than you lose, 2. Have team chemistry, and 3. Have the support of the fans. Boston just fouled up the last two. Good luck. If you've got a guy better at the same position, have the veteran do something else. Of course, the manager ruined this plan by shaming Youkilis in spring training. What a maroon. There might have been a tense time as he adjusts to the new role, but a couple outs--even a game--usually doesn't matter, in the end.
Which reminds me: There are 3 reasons Albert Pujols made the idiotic choice to leave St. Louis, in reverse order: 3. He thinks he is impervious to time, 2. He started to get jealous of what other players who played less well were paid, and 1. He didn't understand how much the fans loved him. Didn't get it at all. He said he did, but no. He could have hit into more double plays than an all-night Shakespeare festival and hit .117 until 2020, and they'd still have loved him. I'm telling you. See "James, Lebron" and "Cleveland" for a cross-sport proof. You don't have to be the greatest to be someone's favorite player. Take me, for example. My favorite baseball player (non-pitcher) of all time is Gary Gaetti. Gaetti was a very good--sometimes great--baseball player for a long time. He played a few years with the Cardinals at the end, and was the definition of professional. He understood very well what the Cardinals mean to St. Louis, what the bond means. If you played hard and were successful at all, Cards fans have a saying: "Once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal." We remember, and we say 'thank you.' If the barbarians in the front office trade you, OK. But you better have a good reason to leave that isn't "$." That's the story.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I want to swear. Loudly. This will be a rant, and you'll just have to deal with it. First off, I hate social media. I've almost deactivated my Facebook account 20 times. No, not because I don't have time, though there are definitely better things to do with it. No, not because discussion threads make me angry, though often they do. More on that in a moment. No. I hate it because it flashes a big giant billboard at least 3 times a week (metaphorical; stay with me here) that says, "That person still hates you! Look! She's all over Facebok, talking to your friends, but not you! Don't you feel awesome!" Thanks, Zuckerberg. You billionaire &^#!&. I'm blaming you, because I ran out of reasons to blame myself, and blaming others didn't help. Why do I have to be reminded of perhaps the most painful thing that's ever happened to me ALL THE TIME? How is that fair? And seriously, don't call me and ask me about this. I'm doing bad, OK? Bad.
BLOCK ME, for pete's sake. If it was such a negative experience to talk with me, if my short-sighted selfishness was so horribly grievous that you must make me a non-person, then don't do it halfway. I'm not strong enough to see you pretty much every day, knowing that you don't wish to speak to me ever again. Jeff and I were talking about it last night at 2 AM. It hurts every day like the first. I made the most insane statement in the history of humanity that remains true, even so. I said,"It's worse than losing my father." [You lost your dad when you were 9, in a horrible accident. You felt like a bad son, because your parents were divorced, and you thought he'd be there always. How can you say that?--ed.] Because when Dad died that day, he was my FRIEND. I knew that he loved me, that nothing would ever change that. If I had the chance to apologize for all those "bad son" feelings, he'd laugh in my face. And so will God the Father laugh, when the Day comes, by his mercy. Death doesn't break love. Isn't that what the Resurrection means? Really? But this whole thing feels like a death with no resurrection. How should I feel? "Time heals all wounds"? BS. I bet a Buddhist wrote that.
And I don't feel like I have anyone who really knows how I feel. No one to sympathize. Some of you are too close to it. Some of you, frankly, I don't trust. Sorry. I give it to God each day, but it gets no better. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm not sure I can do this.
In other news, "Ayn Rand is a vicious atheist" is now apparently the prime excuse for leftist Christians and other socialistic simpletons to utterly ignore the fact that centrally-planned economies of all varieties FAIL and are completely averse to upholding the dignity of the human person in any way. Capitalism, properly understood, has failed no one. In fact, the opposite is the case. It is true that some expressions of "free-market economics" fail to, by themselves, address all problems related to the dignity of each person, because if one is not able to participate in some way, the market's benefit could be more indirect (and thus, insufficient) in any one case. Also, there may be externalities (in my dilletente knowledge of economics, that means, "unanticipated catastrophe") related to individual action and collective impact (like environmental concerns) that require intervention. But notice that even when you step forward to say, "Markets are good," even alleged Republicans may look at you as though you said you like puppy shakes in the morning? How many economic speeches start with, "I value the free market, BUT..." Why is this? Do you have a better plan? In the most unemotional terms, the fundamental problem that economics is meant to address is scarcity. Socialism, and the Frankenstein monsters--like our own--of economies utterly fail to handle scarcity in any meaningful way. If this weren't bad enough, the consequences of a government established to mete out 'Justice' or 'Equality' in an economic sense often if not always destroy the people they aim to govern!