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Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Civil War Is Weird And Complicated (Sometimes)

Have you heard about the moving of the body of Nathan Bedford Forrest? Memphis is moving it. I can't say I blame them. It was likely placed with prominence during a time when everything Forrest did--postwar helping to found the Klan included--was viewed as a good thing. If you keep scrolling, you might conclude that at least this man was capable of virtue and kindness. On his best day, he would probably qualify as a paternalist toward his black neighbors, which is unacceptable to us today, as it should be.

When people are involved in things of great historical import, they don't often see the full implications of what they are trying to do. There undoubtedly were black people sympathetic to the Confederate cause, because of some personal assessment of a more immediate concern (like, say, the destruction caused by Union "invaders," or having been personally discipled by Robert E. Lee) who just wouldn't even see the big picture (that Union victory would help them). There'd be no basis for revisionist histories without these oddities, and history in general is replete with them. Those of us who came later, because we are not native to the time, nor generally experts in history, will be painting with broad brushes. Good and Evil is a pretty common one, in wars.

I think there is potential for all this flag stuff to become a giant spasm of liberal self-righteousness--frankly, I've known a few--but I don't think we're anywhere near it.

We lost Dr. King in Memphis.

If we are deciding as a group that King did more good for our nation than Nathan Forrest did, and so, we want to move the latter's body, and in some way rethink our previous unstinting adulation of the man, I'm OK with this.

The KKK was founded in Tennessee.

If, by the mercy of God, Nathan Bedford Forrest attains to glory on the Last Day, he's not going to mind. If he did not, it's not going to matter.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

These Are The Kind Of People

...we need more of in politics. Frankly, being wrong about something is less a crime than being opportunistically and dishonestly right about a thing. When I read about guys like this, I think, "I'm not against liberals, per se; I'm against unprincipled liars."

In a rare attack of good sense, then-Senator Obama said that this man mentored him and inspired him. Were it truly so! I don't even know this double-tongued person that appears on my TV from time to time. If you say something like, "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman" in 2008, and attempt to wax eloquent about how your Christianity affects that determination, you'd better say the same thing in 2014, OR explain how you were improperly related to the source(s) of revealed truth, and why the change in your views has taken place. This is actually the worst lie of the Obama presidency, because he is 1. flippant about the fact that truth from God *cannot* change; 2. because God can't change, either; 3. perfectly willing to pose as a traditional Christian when it benefits him; and the leader of supporters who *knew* he was lying in 2008, and didn't hold it against him. I have more respect for a faithful member of some religious community who says, "We hold a non-traditional view on issue x, because..." than someone who impersonates the opposite for political expediency. Whatever else you might say about me, I take God seriously. He is not an accessory to my life; my religion is not an affectation. If I change my mind on something massively important, I'm not going to say, "God agrees with me now." I'd better spend most of my time explaining how I misunderstood what God said (or leave God out of it) than treating Truth like a trinket from my political life.

This is why I'll never vote for Chris Christie: Catholics don't get to say, "I'm Catholic, but..." on gay marriage, or any other thing. If you won't bear the cross Democrats and whoever else would give you there, or the GOP would give on just wages, or the environment, or the death penalty, then I don't want to hear about your "faith," because it isn't faith; it's a cultural artifact. Same for Santorum, Pelosi, and anybody else. I'm actually still learning how I might apply my faith to lesser matters of prudential judgment, but at best, a person who thinks abortion is morally acceptable while being Catholic is ignorant, to say the least, and might want to leave the stuff he doesn't know out of the stump speech. Most Catholic politicians create scandal, which in the theological sense means creating doubt about what the Church teaches because of one's inconsistent profession or conduct. God is the most important Being with whom any of us will interact; we have a duty to find out what He says, and treat it as all-embracing reality, even for those who don't profess our faith.

I can sense that Sen. Simon was my sort of guy, because he didn't pander to people; if you thought he was a commie or a religious nut-case, he didn't care. Even if he's wrong about one thing or another.

I'm legit; I can say that to you right now. Agree or don't, but we need less sniveling little worms, and more people willing to take the heat for telling the truth, whether public or private.

Bernie Sanders, Call Your Office!

Politics only runs part way on sentiment. Income inequality at certain extremes *is* immoral. But this tells us nothing about the methods of addressing it. This is the reason I'm not a progressive: they seem to think caring is enough; they seem to think their opponents are not those of good will. It seems none can fathom even that possibility. Socialism destroys self-determination as surely as crushing poverty. You want to further empower a government that puts its own people to death unjustly, by abortion, and by capital punishment. You want to further empower a state apparatus which has overseen the expansion of extreme poverty at greater levels than we saw in 1965. You tell us that our greatest enemies are banks and corporations, but I say no, our greatest enemies are government that takes our wealth and wastes it, having the gall to demand more, and a lack of virtue. Let it be understood that we do not aim for unregulated commerce. Rather, we understand that no coercive force can compensate for vice, and alienation from God, from our families, and communities. The means of social assistance do not function because that aid is disconnected from the ends of the human person. We have defined "happiness" down, and wondered why the most ardent advocates of people have not realized their vision! How could they? We kill ourselves, and call it "freedom"; we destroy our support systems, and call it "liberty". We mistake tolerance for justice, and have neither.

It's time to be the liberals we always hoped for; it is time to conserve not the status quo, but people and families. Men and women ought not be at the mercy of giant profit-machines, but the political class has forgotten that the people do not need them; a free people only asks for a fair shake, and leaders that stay out of the way. How do you claim to serve the people, but dole out favors to the for-profit firms you now decry?

The people have some sense that they sent 2.3 trillion dollars to Washington in 2002, and less than 15 years later, the people send double that, roughly. Where are the gleaming cities? Where are the jobs? What have they been doing?

Our own soldiers have spent the most blood and treasure, along with their families. Yet we lack the will to either bring them home, or to accomplish the tasks for which they were sent. We do not deserve them.

The people deserve better than their political class; this is one thing I know.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Let Me Be Clear

[Oh, no. When the president says this, he's not clear at all!--ed.] I'll try to do better.

Not long ago, an "ism" used to be a bad idea that had some portion of truth, but had twisted some aspect of human life, becoming dangerous in large doses. Now, our "isms" are completely fictional; people are asking us the equivalent of believing in unicorns. I'm not sure what "cisgenderism" is exactly, but I call it "reality."

I read another stupid word today: "ageism." Now, I certainly believe it's possible to unjustly discriminate against an aged person, (or a young one) but the word itself is a fig-leaf to cover the fact that old people aren't supposed to be working. We are indeed too individualized, too atomized, if our elders continue working out of necessity. That's a discussion for another day.

I like smart women. Thoughtful, feisty, independent women. You know what, though? Pretty much the peak of womanhood is being a wife and a mother. Is it the only way to live? Of course not. Do those two roles exhaust the entire meaning of "woman"? No. Are they constituitive of it? Yes, absolutely. And the people who say otherwise are denying reality. I don't recall giving anyone permission to decide that wives and mothers by their very existence as such were perpetuating oppression. How patently absurd.

But as I'm sure you realize, we live in the absurd now. People think that "man" and "woman" are just cultural constructs; they actually think you can change it, like you change a shirt. Not long ago, we'd have suggested that a man who thought he was a woman was mentally ill; now, he's the hero, and the one more likely to be committed is me.

The beauty of the natural law is that I know, maybe buried pretty deep in any one case, that people don't really believe most of the stuff they say; they are wounded and confused. Of course, you can't say this, either. To "love" people, they say, you have to take them at their word, as secure, balanced people. If that were true, however, you wouldn't be offended by everything.

This elicits no small amount of sympathy from me normally, but for the fact that many of these people hold actual power over others. Feel free to ask our fellows in the 20th century how that tends to go.

So, somebody has to take the risk of being unpopular, for love of others. I might suggest to Christ's vice-shepherds that it's not enough to argue for "religious freedom." Pluralism in fact is a concession to unreality; you don't beg for scraps from the table when your Father made the table, and all the "food" on it, and everything else.




Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Great Roger Federer

After he beat Andy Murray to win Wimbledon, I wrote that it reminded me of Kinshasa in 1974. (let the reader understand) That was 3 years ago. Here we are again. Roger's in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, and with a little help, he could win it again. He could hit #1 again; don't bet against it. I can't even begin to explain what a joy it is to watch him. Honestly, I don't remember much from his soul-crushing dominant phase; it happened, but it's a point on a resume. Now is the time to watch him, if you haven't. He's still absurdly great, but at the height of competition, he has to fight. He's not unbeatable. Just like Ali from 1974-1978. Ali is the greatest fighter who ever lived, but he won our hearts when he wasn't, if that makes sense.

Let Roger Federer win your heart.

I'm not missing a point until he's done; it's the perfect expression of why I watch sports: when icons become human, sports transcends itself. The ones we love forever are the ones who defy reality and acknowledge it at the same time, giving their all, win or lose, and handling the latter with grace.

Play on, Roger. And thanks.

I'm Just Being Honest

I'm sure that beautiful, prominent Catholic married couple who lectures on chastity has helped a lot of people. I'll just bet they are holier, more prayerful, and better than me. I guess that novena worked. I was going to say "like a charm." Anyway, my reaction when I see anything of theirs:

I don't care. Please shut up.

You know what? The truth is, they had about a 0% chance of not being married. If either one of them told me they struggled with their singleness, I would laugh at them. Maybe one day, I could be persuaded to be sorry.

But not today.

Where are the freaks and the ugly people? I'd listen to them. I already know what they are like. I get them. Generally speaking though, you are just reinforcing the same cultural messages, Catholic media world.

You're not reaching me. Really, you're not even close.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

No Regrets

It's a life motto. Of course, it needs qualification, in light of Christ. Sin is ever and always my only regret. Apart from that, I have never been ashamed to say what is on my heart to say. If you are reading this, you know that.

Whenever people in the world say, "he lived life to the fullest," I note with some chagrin that the person to whom they are referring often died of a drug overdose, or a stupid stunt. That isn't living; that's just finding a quick thrill, because you can't see how alive everything is. If you can brush your teeth to the glory of God, you aren't far from the Kingdom.

Everyone has worry and frustration. Sometimes, you don't even realize that's what you feel until you do the wrong thing. Ask for mercy and pardon, and move on.

Don't live halfway; decide who you are, and spend every second being that person. A lot of people are afraid that if they are themselves, no one will like them. It isn't true. Well, you might be a person most people are justified in disliking, but by God's mercy, you'll realize that before they do.

In the end, No Regrets.