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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Could it be a cold in July? It was the most minor of scratchy throats. I happened to have two 16-ounce bottles of orange juice. I've drunk those, and it isn't worse. My plans fell through tonight, so I'm just sitting here. The Cardinals are on over my shoulder. No score.

I just need to power through this scratchy lull. Not everything has an earth-shattering existential significance. It's good to be alone sometimes, even for me. I'm about to order myself a pizza, I think.

Pizza and a Star Trek movie. We're calling it a win.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I went to Buffalo Wild Wings with Jeff and Paul last night. As it happened, I was not going to make it back by 10, which is when my Rosary partner and I always agree to start. [Let's cut the crap; your prayer pal is a beautiful woman.--ed.] That is true. What do you want me to say? So I made the call from Jeff's ancient cell--I mean, seriously, this thing was manufactured in 1967, you'd think--and all was well. I finished my Rosary at 10:50.

The woman who served us was Catherine. If she's older than 25, she's doing pretty well for herself. I called her by her name at least 3 times, on the off chance she's not seeing anybody and she's Catholic. Just kidding, sort of. I also told Paulie that his lady-friend was a keeper. Beautiful, very Catholic, and a huge nerd. Since Jeff not only doesn't live for this world, but he doesn't even seem to enjoy himself, he ignored us.

As for me, I had made my intentions known toward a good friend of mine the previous day. She was so shocked, she said she wants to think it over. I can live with that. So you could call this outing "Wings and Women." Hmmmm.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I'm sitting here on the verge of what could be a very important day, and it causes me to reflect on those times when what I wanted got in the way of what is best. We've all been selfish before, and we've all made complete fools of ourselves. And I still feel the pain of having done that once, and forgiveness and reconciliation were not forthcoming. Maybe they will never be. And on the one hand, I was wrong; I made a mistake. There's no hiding it. And my insecurities as a person I tried to hand off, even blame, on someone else. Even if I hoped to find support, it was a lot. It was too much.
I absolutely meant what I said in my apology written here, and I still do. And even though I'm ready and willing to wait until the New Heavens and New Earth for that reconciliation to come, it obviously still bothers me really deeply. Or I wouldn't be talking about it.
And I do need to say I'm angry about it. I'm proud enough that my reputation means a great deal to me. In my anger, I could pretend that this false opinion, this impression, this breach has no impact on me, but it does. To be frank about it, there hasn't been a day when I haven't thought about it. The deep mourning has subsided, largely. But the scar abides. There isn't a single day I don't hope for a postcard, or a call, or something. Even if I think that person has been unfair. Even if my hurt and anger wouldn't be far away. I've been gifted with the tendrest of hearts, and a gift for expressing what that heart feels in words. (I think.) You could not imagine what I would say, the sorrow I would express! Probably that letter will end up in a book, but it will be written, I'm simply warning you all now. Probably on the lips of one of my characters. But it will be spoken.
You do not know how many times I thought to rebel, to break the silence imposed upon me. But I haven't, out of respect. And so many times, I wanted someone other than God and the saints to share the hurt with, but there are too many bonds between us; it wouldn't be fair to any of them.
It might even be risky to write it here, but this is Jason Kettinger, relatively unfiltered here. If I can't say it here, I can't say it even to myself.
It happens to everybody, they say. Losing friends. But not to me. At least not before this. And I really don't know what to do. The world really does look a lot drearier now; there is less joy in my heart now. I don't mean to scare you; I'm just being honest. When Jason Kettinger says, "friends forever," he bloody well means it. It's not a yearbook quote, it's the truth. So a part of me has died, but I still live. I just need to say that the pain comes from the hope, and the laughter that was mine in better days. I can picture what I'd say, what I'd do if I could. Do you remember how Joseph couldn't control himself in the presence of his brothers? He wept as only one or two others ever have. So I would be. My heart betrays me even now. Maybe this has become that letter.
I hope and pray that this suffering is useful to You, my Lord Jesus Christ. It is but a pittance compared with the rejection that you felt at our hands, but it is real. Please bring someone joy and comfort by this suffering. Please bring comfort to my friend. Please give me the right words for this other task. Come quickly, and don't leave me behind. Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I frankly can't believe we have to take this election seriously. It won't be close. And it shouldn't be. We have a president who puts American soldiers in harm's way for a dubious purpose in Libya,--and that, without Congress's express authorization--who makes Americans complicit in the murder of children by revoking the Mexico City policy, whose Justice Department is so politicized, it makes Alberto Gonzales look like a statesman. The cronyism is thicker than the lies. They couldn't even pass a health care law without using a highly irregular tactic. When its constitutionality came under challenge, they didn't even have the guts to argue for it in a principled fashion. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court did Obama a favor, and instead they whine about how everyone calls it a tax. Hey genius, that's the only way your horrid signature achievement is allowed under our Constitution. You know, that thing you took an oath to defend.
After hammering Bush and the GOP Congress for spending like drunken sailors, Obama and the Democrats made it all look like a rounding error in a year. The basically Keynesian philosophy underlying the stimulus begun under Bush and expanded under Obama was already ill-advised. But it undermines confidence in the republic when the government loans (which ultimately failed) went to people and firms with connections to Obama.
He's a thin-skinned (incorrect) ideologue who apparently didn't expect that those who resisted his plans might know what they were talking about. Doesn't it seem like he really isn't all that smart? They bristle at the suggestion that he's a socialist, but have you even heard him articulate a positive vision of capitalism once? Oh, he likes (Democratic) rich people well enough. But he doesn't seem to know or care where wealth comes from.
The beauty of being a Republican or a conservative at a time like this is that you don't even have to advocate the wholesale dismantling of the welfare state; you just have to challenge them to provide the proof that all this empowerment and egalitarianism that was allegedly the basis for it all has in fact taken place. In fact, the opposite is the case.
I don't have any illusions that Mitt Romney stands for a capitalism that is as fair and accesible as the dignity of human beings and the gospel requires. But I do know that all Obama is doing is demonizing him, because he can't give us a reason why he should be our president, and evidence that his policies have had a positive impact.
Don't dare even ask me why I'm conservative, at this point. And don't even start whining about how my Christian morality is inconsistent with this personal liberty. I wouldn't force anyone to do anything, unlike some people. To be a social conservative today means to advocate ideas that preserve the dignity of people; I don't recall Rick Santorum or anyone failing to recognize the pluralism that we all live under, or even being unwilling to tolerate it. Rather, by our words and lives, we insist that some uses of freedom are beneath the dignity of a human being. But people are so in love with themselves, really, that to say, "Hey, Chief. Hey, everyone, maybe that isn't such a good idea; it might be wrong" is to be a jack-booted thug with a Bible. I get it. Sparky here wants to outright ban bubbly sugar-water and hamburgers, but you're worried about Jesus-freaks. Those fascists. They might even say, "We'll pray for you." Oh, the horror of it all!
I get it. There is nothing written in nature that the Creator of the universe binds us to, but the questionable decisions of self-important bureaucrats, that's what we should do? The majoritarian bloviations of those who "govern" a nation less than 300 years old, that's what matters?
You've got to be kidding me. But Darth Santorum and his army of Imperial Storm-nuns, they'll crush everyone! With love, kindness, and good advice! It's too much! AAAAH!!!
Secularism is so stupid. It blinds you to obvious, empirical truth right in front of your face in favor of what you'd rather do. But you're right. Those Christians are against science. Lock them away, before they help someone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm blogging with nothing in particular to say. That never ends well. But writers write. [And fighters fight.--ed.] Did you just quote "Rocky Balboa" at me? [The real end of that saga.--ed.] I agree. The fifth should not have been made.

I went to bed a little mad last night. Nothing new happened. Just lingering things. I try not to think about them, but I do. Everyone can say there are things they'd do differently. But the mark of a good character is that you admit mistakes, and try to correct them. If you can look yourself in the eye, look God in the eye, and say that you are the same person fundamentally that you appear to be to others, it's a good life.

You can't control what people think or say about you. It hurts sometimes. A lot. Because people matter. Anyone who says, 'I don't care what people think of me!' is saying the opposite. And probably hiding deep pain and guilt.

I digress. God is the friend I talk to most often. I have other friends, and that's good. But I really want to be able to say that my closest friend is God. I'm a pretty simple man, so right now, I feel like my life is not terribly interesting. Do I really understand what I ask for in prayer? No. Do I think I know God at all? No. I know things about Him. The only thing that keeps me from admitting myself to the crazy-bin on suspicion of talking to myself is Faith. My faith is almost like a tangible thing, like a blanket or something. Whenever I hear the voice that says, "Praying is pointless; this life is all there is" another voice says, "But God is Love" or, "Jesus rose from the dead" or something. Every time. So then I exclaim, "Well, then, who cares what it looks like! This could be like the old Transformers movie from 1986: everything sucks for 97% of the story, and then right at the end, the good guys win." [Did you just compare the cosmos and the spiritual life to the Transformers movie?--ed.] I believe I did. [This is what praying to Mary gets you.--ed.] Exactly. [You missed my point.--ed.] I know. Your points lead me into schism and worse.

I guess it seemed good to say something about something. I think I'll find myself some good human interaction today. Most of us aren't super-saints; we need to see the Love of God in the eyes of a person. Or in the voice, if you like.

Well, if you are snickering at this bit of wisdom (such as it is) because it came at a high price (that is, I am the one who exacted it), I can only ask for your mercy. One day, we'll all be drowning in an endless vat of Mercy, but we won't drown. I hope I make it. But God-willing, I'll see you there.

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's July now; we'll see if I make it all the way through November with my sanity intact. [Unlikely.--ed.] But one of the fun things about November is the Presidential election. I told the immortal Bryan Cross that I usually make my prediction by July. Without further ado:

The winner of the 2012 presidential election will be...Mitt Romney.

What I'm seeing: A dispirited core of Obama voters, namely blacks and liberals, a Romney camp certain to gain strength from primary opponents still to come on board, polls that are not accurate, which hide the depth of Obama's weakness, and no compelling reason or argument to return the incumbent to power. I would have been highly discouraged by polls earlier showing Obama doing well in GOP states like CO and NC if I were in the Romney camp, but I did some digging to find that those polls are taken of all adults, not registered or likely voters. Thus, the RCP polling average is skewed in all those states by the snap impressions of people unlikely to vote. Taking those out reflects a much different picture. Overall, the president is barely above 47 percent approval at this time in our process, which suggests an incumbent in a huge amount of trouble.
Obama was a phenomenon in 2008, winning GOP stalwarts like Indiana and Virginia. Unpopular incumbent, historic moment, excellent campaign. But no one reads those results as some sign of a shifting paradigm; they reflect the moment.
I have not followed the day-to-day closely, but I'm listening for a narrative that will stick. Obama's 'outsourcing' ads are not likely to win it all for him. Protectionism in trade doesn't win elections. If they are already painting Romney as a super-villain in July, this campaign will sound shrill and stale by October. They're not acting like a two-term team; I don't sense the strength that I sensed in 2004, the last time we had an incumbent president. Romney's only work in this campaign will be to assure the voters he's a safe bet; they are ready and willing to vote Obama out. My advice to Obama: (if I were giving it) less publicity, more likable surrogates (not you, in other words) and hope something truly heinous in terms of gaffes or biography emerges from Romney.
I have to be honest here: This could be a huge Romney win. The press does their duty to present to us that this will be a nail-biter, but all the signs are here for a convincing win for the challenger.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Last night, I attended Mass outside for the first time. It had the feel of a revival meeting, except, you know, we're Catholic. I wonder what the great Dr. Graham would say. And I definitely wish he had been there.
I'm thankful not to be knowingly in any kind of heresy, but Billy Graham just makes you say, "Geez, I wish my material heresy had been ten percent as God-glorifying as that." You know, Confirmation Sponsor Spouse Lady reminded me that singing is like praying twice. It was probably a quote from a saint who ate dirt and was thankful, or something. [There is no St. Elder Cosby, is there?--ed.] You never know. Anyway, I'd say most of the Liturgy of the Word was chanted, and it was beautiful. More than that, though, the words we were singing stuck. There was something building last night, at least in me, of eschatological expectation. It felt like seeing the whole Bible, the whole redemptive plan, in the light of its urgency. The People of God waiting, yearning, for God to act. This is what it must have felt like as a good Israelite right before Jesus came, I thought. The whole Old Testament is a story in search of an ending, as an old friend used to say. And Christ is that ending. If we as non-Jews pick up our New Testaments and fail to feel fortunate that we're even hearing from this God, we're not reading it right. N.T. Wright, insofar as he says this, is one thousand percent right. It doesn't have to be this intense emotional reaction, but it should be there. But can you imagine the joy of being an Israelite, and finding the whole hope of your entire life and that of your people standing right in front of you in the person of Jesus Christ? John 1:14, no wonder! Go read it. Stew on what this would mean to a Jew in the first century. The glory of God left the Temple a long time ago. David was king a long time ago. And assuming you hadn't compromised yourself in some heinous repeated way, you'd be waiting, yearning, hoping, for God to restore His people. Lots of tragic things happened in between the glory days, and where you are now. And then it happens.
Mary's right in the middle of it. She gets to bear the Savior Himself! How great must she be, to be fit for such a gift! And she is faithful Israel personified. This is why she is our "life, our sweetness, and our hope." Not because we just like elevating the wong people, but because if we have any chance whatever of seeing the glory of Christ in all its fullness, we need to see the glory of the old for all that it is. Who better than the truest Israelite to show us? And she was literally the bridge between the covenants. You will do a lot of contemplating if you have kept the covenant in the highest sense always, and then you bear the Messiah, the mediator of a new and better covenant. Ever notice Mary doesn't say much in the Scriptures?
The next verse is instructive; the Law through Moses, but grace and truth through Jesus Christ. You and I always have to keep the fact of being wild olive branches squarely in mind. The grace of what we see doesn't come from nowhere. At that somewhere is scarcely understood. But Mary understands. If you don't talk to her about it, how dumb are you?
And this is why our visible divisions as Christians are so bad. You don't dissent from skekinah-glory. You can't nitpick your way to the fullness of Christ. You can't argue your way to a unified heavenly chorus. Why do you follow the men you do? Why do you believe the particular things you do, and not other things?
I guess I mean to say that an ordinary Saturday isn't always so ordinary. And that Jesus can break into our lives and hearts just as surely as He did in the Incarnation.