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Friday, June 28, 2013

If It Makes You Happy

Actually, there's nothing wrong with the statement, "If it makes you happy, do it." My only quibble is with your definition of happiness, as a great man would say. There might be tons of things that give me pleasure of a sort, but they are not my blessedness or yours. When we're talking about happiness or blessedness, we are talking about our best and fullest selves, the most integrated with ourselves, others, and God as we can be.

There is a social dimension to everything, good and bad. That's why "public policy" is a real thing, not just a tag after someone's name. You hear people say, "You can't legislate morality." Bovine feces. We do it all the time. The only questions are, "Whose morality, and to what end?" Merits or demerits aside, the unstated minor premise of say, libertarian arguments against drug laws seems to be, "There is no social dimension to the use of drugs." Or, I suppose you could say, "The social dimension of drug use is not large enough to merit the government's attention and coercive power."

I digress. I'm beginning to learn what it means to "offer it up." The things we feel and the things we hope for are real things. It is no minor thing to bear the weight of a lost friendship, for example. The mystery of life is to take those real things in their energy and vitality--denying nothing of their power and meaning--and saying, "O God, these are yours." Not merely that they may be endured, but that they may be turned to God's will.

I could barely make it through the fourth mystery today, so powerful was the weight of what I carried. My mouth was stopped, and the tears began to well up. I cried one tear, perhaps the most meaningful I have ever cried. And I pressed on, adding a prayer of blessing for my friends.

It's starting to get crazy. I told God, "Whatever makes You happy," and I think I meant it. Quick! Someone bring me a drink and a Bible! [Why?--ed.] I don't know. I thought maybe there'd be an answer there.

Let Down

It was the quick double-buzz of the Facebook Mobile app, indicating that a message had been sent. Even though it was early in the morning, I was pumped. It meant that someone was trying to communicate with me. You probably have no idea what that actually means, but that's OK.

I'm always expecting one or two; I was hoping it was one of those. I used to get annoyed when my phone would ring; now, I'm not sure what I feel. I still don't like talking on it that much, but sometimes The Deb calls, and I don't mind.

Anyway, it wasn't a personal message; it was one of those group messages, and it had nothing to do with me. What a huge waste!

It's probably part of my sanctification process, these long stretches of silence. But I hate silence. At least people-silence. I will take sound-silence any time, with the notable exception of music. One thing I know about Hell is that there is no music. Profound Thought: Hell is the complete absence of Love, so if I'm right about music there, draw the conclusion: To make music is a profound act of love. Even angry music is wounded love.

You meet people sometimes who are not drawn to music in any way. At least that's what they say. I don't trust those people; just to review, I don't trust people who can't cry, and people who neither listen to, nor make music. [What if they are music people, but they can't cry?--ed.] They have a chance.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Blathering Randomly

5 Completely Pointless, Haphazard Observations

5. If I eat sausage and/or watch Star Trek: The Next Generation in the evening, I will fall asleep. We call those, "old people."

4. I didn't go outside today.

3. I would like to thank myself for mostly avoiding any discussions relating to the destruction of our society by the heathen. I say "mostly" because, well, you know how it is...

2. I say, "Hi, how are you?" but I really mean, "I wouldn't mind hanging out with you for 50 or 60 years."

1. "Have we grown so old, so inflexible, that we have outlived our usefulness? Does that constitute...a joke?"

I Was Thinking

5 Thoughts For Today

5. One thing grace does sometimes is give you an extra moment to reflect. Clearly, I need much more grace.

4. It's a simple equation, really: Teach the Catholic faith, or button your face. This is not one of those times when dissent is patriotic.

3. I'd take a jobby at Hobby Lobby, 'cause the elites are kinda snobby, and contraception is worse than eating wasabi.

2. Compliment Of The Week: "J-5, [That's me; please don't ask] you rep legit intelligence. When you speak people shut up and listen. The world needs that. You can rep that in this small brigade of ragamuffins."--Nathan Folkemer

1. Define your terms.

The Rosary

I've started a daily Rosary again after stopping in September or so. I was convinced that I was doing it for the wrong reasons. Maybe I was, in some way. On the other hand, the evil one wants us to stop praying.

Being an ex-Protestant, I have an ingrained suspicion of formal and repetitious prayers. Yet what I have found is that the mental and spiritual effort required to place oneself in the presence of God is the context for my disposition to change, and allow the true love that flows from the Spirit to come out. That's the same love that animates so many of the less formal prayers of which we are so fond.

There is something about going back to the mysteries of Christ's life, to speaking with God and his saints, that makes the common life less common. Is not the story of redemption the breaking of God into the all-too-common, sin-riddled world that he had made? Are not his saints the living stories of that redemption and grace?

So here we are. I should just say here that I have gravitated toward the Sorrowful Mysteries from the first. There is a practical reason; I memorized them easily and quickly. The more interesting question is, "Why did that occur?"

I can say a few things about that. First, I have more than a passing acquaintance with sorrow. Second, perhaps my ever-present need for forgiveness--and a powerful desire for it--has never waned. I would never de-value or de-emphasize any of the saving work that Christ has done, whether his Ascension, or Resurrection, or whatever you wanted to name. But in the wisdom of God, there is something central about the Cross. Dr. Watts wrote, "Sorrow and love flow mingled down," and that's mostly right. Forgiveness and love is more apt. We have cause to sorrow over our sins that put Him there, but I do not think He has cause to sorrow over what flows to us from that Cross, nor in what it accomplishes and will accomplish. Indeed, He delights to give those gifts. He loves us more than we love ourselves, and that is something I will one day learn to believe.

Federer: The Legend Continues

I watched Roger Federer lose to a Ukrainian from outside the top 100 in the world rankings, in tennis' premier tournament, Wimbledon. That is an event that the 32-year-old has won a record seven times, a substantial chunk of the 17 'major' championships he has won, also a record. The thing that is mind-blowing is that Federer is 3 clear of Hall of Famer Pete Sampras, who also won Wimbledon 7 times. Greater still is Federer, who entered this year as the defending champion. Never before has anyone seen a fading champion who was still such a threat even now to win the biggest contests in the sport. If it is indeed true that another major triumph would be pleasantly and mildly surprising, it must be admitted that we are witnessing the greatest sunset in the history of sports. He has indeed earned the deference given to all legends, but not only that. His still prodigious skill merits respect and awe.

Today, for the first time in 36 major tournaments and 10 years, Federer exited the tournament prior to the quarterfinals. Just think about that. Some hack named Jimmy Connors did it 27 times, and hardly merits a mention.

I only saw the fourth and concluding set, the third consecutive to end in a tie-break. I do not know if he played poorly to end up in such a pickle. I do know that I have never so much enjoyed watching Federer lose. He played great tennis, in the parts that I saw. He evened the set at 3 after falling back 3-1, and battled all the way into the tie-break. He missed his opening to break at 4-3 to be on his way to a fifth and deciding set, where I believe he would have won. But let me give credit where credit is due: Sergiy Stakhovsky played out of his mind. He was unafraid. And Federer is still great enough that Sergiy has every right to brag. I beat Federer. I beat the greatest of all time. Federer is so great that a man playing far above expectations has to fight for every point, and is guaranteed nothing.

It wasn't like two years ago, when Federer coasted while up 2 sets to choke it away in five to Jo-Willy Tsonga. That much was a crime against his legend. This underdog angry Federer is fun to watch; he knows they say he is done, but he still has something to prove. Those "I'm (still) Roger Federer" moments that were arrogance 8 years ago are endearing and inspiring now. After that Tsonga match, I wrote that he should walk away, especially if he had no heart to go down fighting. Now, I'm not leaving my TV, as long as Federer wants to be on it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An Argument

Civil Law vs. Moral Law

Rather than rant and rave, I thought I'd break this down mathematically:

1. The civil law pertains to the natural good of all who are in the jurisdiction of a competent authority (or, "the common good")

2. In this society, the civil law obtains its authority (as does the competent authority) by the consent of the governed.

3. The competent authority may rule in accord with the common good, or he may not.

4. Likewise, the consent of the governed may be in accord with the common good, or it may not.

5. The morality of any action--at a minimum--is defined by the common good.

6. Therefore, the consent of the governed is not sufficient to establish the morality of any action.

Here's The Bad News

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Two men (or two women) are not "married," no matter how much they want to be.

4. Before we start rejoicing in the supposed wisdom of our august Supreme Court, I have a few words: Plessy v. Ferguson.

3. The State could declare me a toaster tomorrow; it doesn't mean I am.

2. Ironically, gay marriage advocates are in the same boat as the people who opposed the Civil Rights Movement. Wasn't Dr. King basically arguing that a higher Law trumped the civil laws that were in place at the time?

1. "Let's leave our morality and rights subject to the whims of a majoritarian consensus!" said no clear-thinking person ever.

I've Got To Take A Moment

Would you believe that I have gotten some questions privately as to why I've become Catholic? I really appreciate the ones that start out like this: "Not trying to trap you, but what were the reasons?" I love that one, honestly. Because all I have to do is tell the story. I'm not at all interested in combat when it's just an honest question. I know that I'm not due to win any prizes for winsomeness and charitable dialogue (Lord, have mercy!) and frankly, dialogue is not the purpose of this blog, in the first place. This blog is Draft 1.37 of whatever comes into my head. I'm straight-up opining here, hopefully intelligently.

Also, I totally understand that some ex-Catholics would feel a little bit threatened by me; it's entirely possible that you lived an entire Catholic life without getting the memo on Jesus. That makes me cry. It makes me cry with joy that God in His mercy found you where you are. BELIEVE ME, we are all thrilled that the message of grace and salvation in Christ Jesus has made your very soul and life ring with purpose. This is not a "Catholic Church is awesome, and everyone else sucks" kind of blog. It is frank, and it is the work of someone who believes what the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God. Yet my life as a Christian going from Protestant to Catholic is a story of some truth flowering into the fullness of truth.

It actually angers me that you who grew up Catholic in many cases were deprived of that simple message of forgiveness and joy that is the plain and simple gospel, either by a culture that quenched the Spirit, or by lies. It wounds my heart, and I know it wounds Jesus' heart.

But I need to shoot you straight: I actually believe this stuff. This is true. I'm a real Catholic. I think you should be, too. So, I need to ask you to trust me. If I tell you that I was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in America, that I led Bible studies for 4 1/2 years, was a part of Reformed University Fellowship, went to seminary, where my torrid love-affair with God and his word in Scripture continues unabated into the present day--and I'm still Catholic--maybe it's possible that you are mistaken in your assumption that Rome teaches a false gospel. Just possible. I'll do you one better: I think Reformed theology leads right to the Catholic Church. That is, once terms are defined, and the superfluous knots and assumptions are untied.

As far as I know, I'm still the same guy. But I don't see rules when I breathe the Catholic air; I don't feel fear as I live the Catholic life, at least not the way you mean it. I know the love of Christ our Savior; Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for He is with me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Writing

I was thinking about all the things I've written here. On the one hand, I like my writing; if I didn't, I wouldn't do it. On the other hand, writing is an almost unwinnable quest to capture the essence of a moment, to give order to a chaotic and beautiful thing. I'll bet you didn't think of your life that way: a series of chaotic and beautiful things that tell a story.

I noticed a funny thing I do: I start sentences with conjunctions. And I do it with impunity. [That was gratuitous; you'll do anything for a cheap laugh.--ed.] I have to be the sorriest excuse for a grammar fascist there is. I'm like a grammar Pharisee, placing heavy burdens on the people that I am unwilling to carry. If an editor went through the blog, I'm sure I would be shamed into silence forever.

If God wills it, I would like to marry a girl who appreciates a good sentence. Is that weird? [Yeah, that's weird.--ed.] Some guy said that writing was tasting life twice. It must be true. After all, only I can live the moments of my life. If I want to live them again, or share them, I need words.

I Guess I'll Mention Twitter Again

It's a shameless ploy for page views. Or is it "pageviews" or "page-views"? The counter doesn't even make sense; it starts a new day at 6 PM, meaning it's set for GMT. Bob suggested I change it, but I've grown to love it. Except that there's no rhyme or reason to how many people show up.

But if I mention Twitter, dating, or sex, I'll bet the views go through the roof. Ha! I could use all three in a sentence, and even (mostly) tell the truth: "I don't believe in Twitter, dating, or sex before marriage."

Well, it's not entirely true that I don't believe in dating. I don't believe in randomly hanging out with people you find attractive for no reason. Isn't that what it really is? Oh, people might have reasons, but they have to hide them, in order to seem normal. Somehow, a series of dinners or activities with one person is supposed to tell you who he or she is. And the heathen make even less sense; they just have sex on the first "date" or whenever they want. On one level, that must be nice. On the other, I guess it doesn't mean anything. Isn't something that powerful supposed to mean something? I think so.

I guess it's not true that I don't believe in Twitter, either. I love the hash-tags. This is what Word or Windows is telling me; it is "hash-tags." That doesn't make sense, either. It looks like it should be a badge for a Frequent Eater program at IHOP: "Want a discount? Don't forget your hash-tag."

But I don't have Twitter. I don't really miss it. Because we know I spend too much time on the internet as it is. And if people can make me angry with their inane Facebook postings and capricious "unfriending," Twitter would be even worse. And I still don't say anything important with 140 characters or less.

JK's Greatest Hits

I was going to pull some memorable or funny quotes to share, but I don't really remember them. But one thing I value, a truth that leads to Catholic truth, is this: One cannot be the arbiter of divine truth and a humble receiver at the same time. In the end, this truth signals the death of creedal Protestantism, and Protestantism in general, at least as a coherent system.

All the arguments boil down to it. If you ask me why it makes more sense to be a child of the Catholic Church, this is the reason. If God didn't say it, it doesn't really matter, at least not in theology. I appreciate the fundamentalist that much more, because he sees clearly that a man cannot assert things about God without God; he is distasteful to the others because what he concludes in any one case may be unpalatable; he is pitiable because he is a Church of one.

More to be pitied is the churchman, who in his supposed refinement would never do anything so wild as assert that he alone had the truth, yet also refuses to locate it in the community which sent him; that is, a gift of infallibility befitting the task of knowing and declaring the Word of God. In his magnanimity, he claims to know nothing at all. One only hopes he is pleasant to listen to; other than as a diversion, he would seem to serve no purpose at all.

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's The Little Things

It doesn't matter what I feel; if I can pray for someone who has hurt me, if I can ask for a blessing there, I can do almost anything. I know that if anyone had a right to feel angry about alienation, the betrayal, and whatever else, it was Jesus.

So I gave it to him. We shared it together. I fell asleep angry; I woke up angry. Sometimes, I'm angry at people who have nothing to do with it. Today at least, I was able to grab it and talk about it with God. Satan likes to use these feelings to do his evil works in us.

There are all these triggers; I wish they weren't there. I wish I felt differently. But I just feel the way I feel. I don't know or care if I have the right. I simply cannot believe that I wasted my life. That's the hardest part. I can't erase 3 years of my life, and pretend that it didn't happen. The gift of myself, while surely imperfect, was real.

I cannot change the big things; perhaps what has been spoken of me is true; perhaps the result is just. But all my love, at least in this moment, will go into the words that will never be heard, words to the Father.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Say It Again

5 More Thoughts

5. Adam is mad; good luck, Texas.

4. Roger and Rafa in the quarters? C'mon, guys. Wimbledon Bracket Fail.

3. I want to hear Gus Johnson announce tennis.

2. Nevermind; I want to hear Ken Wilson announce tennis: "What a drop shot! OHHH, BABY!!!"

1. He wants to know what love is. He wants you to show him.

Thus Spake JK

5 Thoughts For Today

5. A brand new time-suck? No thanks; I'm not Pinterested.

4. College Buddy Love: "I hope you marry a tree-hugging liberal, who will drive you nuts the rest of your life. :)".--Josh Bergsten, 2005.

3. I will listen to my shamelessly mainstream music, vote Republican, and live in the godless suburbs. I'll like it, and you can deal.

2. When Madonna starts making sense, we've lost our way.

1. I like my tennis players arrogant, Swiss, and not named Martina Hingis.

The Kenney Wedding

I was honored to attend. I cannot help but note the biggest lesson from the last few weddings I attended: It's not really about the couple. It is a sacramental witness to the goodness and grace of God, and God gives that grace to everyone who is there (and even those who are not). I both needed and received grace, so it was a good day.

I was glad it was in English. Don't judge me. I love Latin; I love what many Catholics aim to reaffirm when they pray in the Extraordinary Form. I've had several years of Latin. That's just it, though: I don't want to feel like I'm taking a Latin test when I go to Mass. I'm sure I'd get better if I did it more often.

But I'll never understand how it got to be a test of orthodoxy. Repeat after me, kids: There is nothing wrong with the Novus Ordo. Frankly, the biggest problem is that we have a few too many people in high places who just don't believe the gospel. Who is it we aim to serve? And what do we know about Him? Latin or otherwise, you can't really pray at all if you can't answer that.

Anyway, Dan and Lisa know how to throw a party. I needed a party after last week. Patrick and I enjoyed exhorting George not to bump into my wheelchair on his trek around the dance floor with terrible British accents: "Take heed, Mr. Capps! I shall not be moving!" Aye, that's right, Mr. Capps!"

We said farewell for now to Serena, who's in Ohio doing doctor-things. In general, y'all clean up good. We learned that Jeff can dance. And it's not a wedding until the DJ plays this. The mystery of the evening was this: "Did Chris Rubie ever actually go to the bathroom?"