Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to my brother, Kevin Kettinger, my kindergarten teacher Miss Nelson, to Taylor Overstreet, and to Tiger Woods.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Obama clearly wants to lose. [No, he's just inept, and stuck with the fruit of identity politics.--ed.] True. Number 1 rule of winning electoral politics for presidents: Get the Midwest. Number 2 rule: DON'T TICK OFF THE GUN PEOPLE! Pete's sake, what happened to Senator Obama? This "President Obama" is clearly someone else.
Carl Trueman is as Protestant as Protestant gets. I read his articles, and I never get the sense that he is changing his mind. But he inspires me. I know Bryan is a fan, precisely because Trueman is willing to tease out the implications of what he believes (and what he doesn't) and to live with them. He's not on a team, as it were. If some piece of the historical data or some ecclesial consideration gives grist to the papists in the court of public opinion, it's no concern of his, long as it's true.
What I can recall is thinking that the ground of my dissent or disagreement with the Catholic Church had to be strong. In that, I agreed with Trueman, who wrote that Catholicism was the default position in the West. I could appreciate also the opinion that we as evangelicals needed affirmative reasons to be what we were. If we found ourselves in agreement with Rome, we should return. All this is true, and it had to be so, for the sake of the dogmatic principle, as Newman would say. The Eucharist cannot be the body and blood of Christ in the Catholic sense and in the Reformed sense at the same time. We certainly knew how to cherry-pick from the ancient authorities when it suited us, but sooner or later, the cocktail party politeness of the ecumenism of ignorance will die in the harsh reality of the contrast between the Council of Trent and St. Thomas on the one hand, and the Heidelberg Catechism question 78 on the other. We can't paper over these differences, no matter how hard Michael Green might try. We liked to use the words, "Eucharist," "Body & Blood," "real presence," and the like, but we were toying with dynamite, to allude softly, if I may. I know for my part, I had forgotten all the blood spilled over the precise meaning of those words. We had no right to forget it or soft-pedal it, either by ignorance, or for the sake of a revisionism occasioned by a collapsing ecclesiology. If the so-called "conversionist" evidence could be harmonized with other patristic evidence suggesting at first a more symbolic Protestant view but didn't (because you can't harmonize contradiction), and it led back to a visible, authoritative community, I would have my answer. And it did. Orthodoxy on this and other matters was determined primarily, if not exclusively, by visible communion with the bishop of Rome in the earliest days. If I were to tell an alternate story centered around the Reformers in the 16th century, I'd need a pretty definitive hermeneutic from Scripture, because I'd rejected the accepted authoritative arbiter of Tradition in use at the time. I'd also need it to be strong in order to justify a rival ecclesial authority, and by extension, a new arbiter of Tradition (even if we dared to claim we didn't have it). When you've reined in all the myriad claiming to believe and teach "what the Bible says," you let me know. Not that this in itself means anything, as long as I thought I was right in my hermeneutic. But I began to ask, "What if I'm not?" And, "What is the nature of the authority wielded by my forefathers and community?" If that authority is neither dispositive against other claims nor intended to be final, how could I, as a representative of it, claim to preach the word of God?
You may have noticed that much ink virtual and real has been spilled over the idea of apostolic succession. The beauty of this argument is this: As it turns out, this claim means precisely squadoosh without papal primacy. To have a visible hierarchy without an ultimate visible principle of unity is pointless. You can definitely tell the Orthodox to can it if you are Protestant, because the picky-choosy among them vis a vis the Councils is no less ad hoc than anything Zwingli et al cooked up. If anybody finds either a unified body of teaching that all Orthodox believe, or a final arbiter, please let me know. In my ruder moments, it may be addressed as, "Protestantism With Funny Hats." Or, "Chaos With Funny Hats." But I repeat myself. [This is a chaotic rant.--ed.] That it is.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tim asks a good question about divorce in the comments to a previous post. The relevant sections of the CCC (let the reader understand) are 2382-2386. But some of the New Testament texts seem to permit divorce, at least in the theoretical, in the case of adultery. But Bryan's article on this is maniacally thorough. [We're used to this by now, aren't we?--ed.] It still shocks me, like the pungent incense at Easter, or the fact that the Cardinals won the World Series, or that Firefly was ever cancelled. [Yeah, that show is great.--ed.] I know, right?

Monday, December 26, 2011

I think it's raining ice at my house. That, or we are being invaded by radical eliminationist termites. [Could be both.--ed.] That's true. "Uncle Bryan" and I saw Bryan's old philosophy instructor from his Reformed seminary days at the midnight Mass at the Cathedral. She was glad to see him, we think. She taught philosophy back not long ago when Reformed people still thought thinking clearly was important. Not that I know anything about that. I've always wanted to ask her if she's inherited the Earth yet. (let the readers understand) And I still find that funny; thanks for asking.
For my part, I'm still very glad with my decision. When I saw the Archbishop, my unity with him was palpable. In turn, I knew that I was visibly united to the bishop of Rome, who was and is the visible principle of unity for the Church, and for all Christians. Better still that my bishop holds the Catholic faith, and works hard to uphold those who hold it. I've been sick, so I tried to prevent him from shaking my hand, but he would have none of it. "Merry Christmas, Your Excellency"--careful to use the proper form of address--I said. It either means (1) someone thinks I'm important, or 2) I am the least of these. Either one is OK by me.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On this day, God in the flesh appeared--Christ the LORD--to reconcile us to the Father. Even as the defenseless baby cried, He held the world in being. May His coming bring peace to every heart, and peace on Earth. May every darkness of sin be banished forever! I love you all, and Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Permit me to be a bit frank here this evening. If you are working on "marriage" #2 and are not a widow or widower or roped into something on false pretenses, I'm not celebrating squat. You're likely in a state of permanent and public adultery. It's not "fabulous" and I'm not happy for you. Add it to my, "Why Protestantism Sucks" File, #4072. Incontinence with public sanction! Unfair, obnoxious, immoral. Lest you think Mother Church callous, there is provision for separation (but not divorce) in the case of adultery or violence in the Code of Canon Law, canons 1151-55.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Absolutely preposterous. Man, I love baseball. Note to self: I'm never drafting Dan Uggla again. [But he hit 36 HRs and had 82 RBI.--ed.] Dude, I'm a purist. If you hit .233 AFTER the season's longest hitting streak of 33 games, YOU SUCK. (No offense, Dan.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Here's the Deborah Cox version of the song to which I was previously referring, in case anyone cares. [Great, encourage fornication, why don't you?--ed.] You can use it as a wedding-night song, or even a, "Wow, that was a fantastic first date" song, sheesh. I liked Deborah as soon as I found her; she's like Whitney with better songs.

Monday, December 19, 2011

OK, it's (ex) Protestant Share Time! I'm "in love" with Melanie Fiona. She's awesome. And this means that my three favorite R&B/Soul discoveries of roughly the last 15 years (joining Deborah Cox and Tamia) are all Canadian. Uh oh! C'mon, USA! [They also are very attractive.--ed.] True. But I think the whole movement like, "You don't have to be attractive to be a talented singer" is as manufactured as its opposite. Adele, looking in your direction. [That was harsh.--ed.] Well, we need something real to latch on to if "pop star" doesn't just mean "pretty face." If you're not exceptionally good, being unpretty shouldn't get you a pass. It's like the reverse, PC version of pop star venality. If you're ugly, we'll suck up to you! Bah!
I admit my guilt in being a fan of Mya as a teenager for shall we say sensual reasons; however, in my defense, the radio-edit version of "My First Night With You" is a charming Babyface/Diane Warren classic, and the slick Darryl Simmons production on this makes you forget Mya's voice is thin. Her slow, vocal version is horrid, but the glory of Deborah Cox's version shows you what a well-written pop song it is.
I cannot write not one, but two semi-sympathetic posts on Christopher Hitchens without mentioning Vaclav Havel. I am a real commie if I don't say anything. I don't know all that much about him, but color me sypathetic to anyone who opposes collectivist totalitarianism. [You are hardly in a position to do that, are you?--ed.] Shush. Did Tim put you up to that? [No, but I like his style.--ed.] I'm sure you do.
Anyway, I'd like to think that a whole bunch of professors and other useful idiots--but I repeat myself--wouldn't be so vociferous in defense of their utopian "dreams" if they had to live in one. RIP, Mr. Havel.

P.S. Is anyone alarmed by the fact that anti-communism has turned militaristic? Paging Ron Paul! What if the whole worldwide non-left has been tricked into enacting the socialists' plans for them?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I don't even have a good reason why I liked Hitchens' work; I just do. Actually, one of life's more interesting moments came about when discussing him. I was at an event sponsored by the respected Acton Institute, and I mentioned that I respected him and liked to read him. You'd think I killed someone's cat or worse. The table, full of uber-orthodox Catholics, was stunned. I didn't say I thought he was a moral paragon; in fact, the difference between our worldview and his covers some distance. But he always makes me think, and I appreciate that. I may ever be one who admires the unworthy, but my intellectual world is better with him in it. Lucky for me, his words outlive him. I wonder what to make of this? Even the thought of taking this seriously is preposterous. But maybe that's the point.

Friday, December 16, 2011

5 Thoughts After Writing A Certified, Literary Piece Of Crap

5. Where's Tim Butler? Then again, I'm not sure he can help.

4. [Where is this story going, anyway?--ed.] Well, if I knew that, I'd tell you.

3. [You should kill some more people.--ed.] No, that's a cheap trick. [Like everything you write.--ed.] Touche.

2. I might try writing the seventh part to make it better.

1. [You really shouldn't speak so crudely; this is a family site.--ed.] Psssshhh. I can't even pass for Martha Stewart, much less Martha Washington.
Christopher Hitchens has died. I just wanted to say that although the words were relatively few, I enjoyed almost all of his in which I partook. It was Hitchens who convinced me of the evil of water-boarding. It was Hitchens who convinced me not to take solace in the temporary rise of the serial-liar Hillary Clinton. It was his frankness about the war in Kosovo that helped me to revise my thinking on the role of religion in postmodern life. That I need to explain. He had no patience for those who refused to acknowledge or consider the role sincerely-held doctrine could play. If he thought we were buffoons for believing it, at least he didn't view it as an accessory in those he mocked. In this way, he respected us. If I or anyone else had a tendency to compartmentalize or live as de facto secularists, he would remind us that he took such claims seriously, even in denial. I never finished God Is Not Great. Whether it was fear or anger, I can't recall. But the truth is, even if his righteous indignation was uneven, even if the very fact of it denied his atheism at a level he could not acknowledge, he mattered, as puny specks of dust go. He was a pleasure to read and think about. In politics, he shattered the worthless facade of pretended civility. If he thought you were a moron, he'd say so, in no uncertain terms. But it was never at the cost of ideas. If you earned such a label, it's because he judged you deficient in the consideration of some fact, or beholden to some irrational notion.
I would have loved to meet him. I'd have preached the gospel to him if he'd allowed me. We'd have a drink,--though surely not as much as he, I'd wager--and toast to civilization, or what's left of it. I'd have to admit that his hawkishness on Iraq got his foot in my door, and if I failed to see that as the natural progression of a socialism that never left him, I at least have to admire the desire to save the West, who does indeed have much to offer humanity. Even today, my strong inclinations toward an absolute military non-interventionism stem from that same desire, not the self-hating nihilism that stands in perpetual readiness to rebuke previous generations. Indeed, this society has had such an influence as to make the tag "West" geographically meaningless and misleading, a result both of us would cheer. Lord, have mercy on Christopher. Your image in him gave me food for thought, and gladness of heart.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

YouTube invited me to listen to Michael Jackson's "Will You Be There." Man, I love that song. I'm a fan of his music, I admit it. I wish I could give a wholehearted endorsement of the man. I hope all the accusations made against him are false. I hope he came into the LORD's mercy, and not His wrath when he died.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This payroll tax cut debate is inane. Both Democrats and Republicans believe (or should) that cutting the payroll tax is a good idea. Just do it, then. President Obama needs to realize that the House Republicans want to attach the Keystone pipeline to the bill. Did he fail to notice that they won the last election? Does he really believe his re-election will be thwarted by hordes of depressed leftist greens? Nor do I see any reason or mechanism to stop those who wish to build the pipeline. Of course, he'll claim credit when it produces jobs. Nothing new there. It's not my job to correct the falsities of political machinations; I just know that electoral kabuki is pretty stupid when the people are out of work.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I admit it, I love what I've read of Ayn Rand. I read 'The Fountainhead' when I was maybe 13. I started 'Atlas Shrugged' but have never finished it. I read 'Anthem' at least once a year. But I'm not an Objectivist. I like altruism; I think the Gospel of Jesus Christ absolutely requires it. But the folly of the secular state that destroys the individual can no longer be avoided. The poignance of the critique at precisely that point isn't altered or blunted, no matter who else embraces Rand. Nor does an appreciation of Rand in some limited sense constitute an embrace of her amorality, either personally or philosophically. Mr. Carter needs to re-think this, and definitely apologize to Congressmen Paul and Ryan.
I read 5 more psalms today. I spoke too soon if I conveyed that I had put away the anger. After you've been slandered and cast aside, it's hard not to be. But I read the Catechism section on anger as a check and a warning. I don't want to hurt anyone, but I'm angry. Angry that no one called to talk to me. No one said, "You're going wrong." And then I find that I had done great harm, irreparable harm, that my last warning had been given. It was over before I spoke a word in defense or reparation. No, I don't wish harm. But you have harmed me.
"Take two psalms and call me in the morning." Well, it didn't work. I read five. Heck, at least I'm not sad. I can't say it's productive as emotions go. Just be glad I'm not Ali before the Terrell fight, because Terrell would die. Anyway, I've got nothing useful to say. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, December 12, 2011

God is enough, more than enough for us. We could spend all day thanking Him for the revelation of His love in Jesus Christ for the rest of our lives, and we could not exhaust the deserving. Because of this, how can we not say words of peace and pardon to one another who have only met because of Christ? I have heard that I am forgiven, but this state does not do justice to those words.
If I am not to be trusted, then I never was. Despite my errors, I am the same person. Shall I discard those momentos of happier days? As of now, they mean nothing. They must have signified something false, something unreal. What else can be my conclusion? Can the love which gave the signs their meaning be significant when it is so easily discarded? I admit, I do believe this unhappy state befits a much greater crime. Forgive me if I speak out of turn in saying so.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Day 9. In other news, "Hey Jason, what do you do to preserve your chastity?" I'm glad you asked. I pray to Mary. A lot. [Pagan.--ed.] Sue me. It beats, 'Remember you're already forgiven and victorious,' whatever that means.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Sadness. Anger. Rinse, repeat. So it has been for about a week. But never had the words of the Our Father held so much meaning: "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." I have to let the anger go. We'll certainly have to talk about it someday. Maybe not today. But if I knew I was dying tomorrow or Christ was returning, I'd call. I don't care what they said. They're lucky I haven't done it anyway. Perhaps that's defiant. But I don't take friendship lightly. I don't break it or allow it to be broken without a fight. In this case, especially because of Christ. Aren't we supposed to live each day as though it were the last? I can't do that if I nurture this anger. I wonder what it is, then?
I took some advice as a personal attack; I got angry. I replied immediately, always a bad idea. The way I understood the words fed some insecurities of mine. It made it sound as though I was forgetting lots of good things. And maybe I was.
I really can't bear this for 50 years, though.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Last month, we were discussing the Parable of the Prodigal Son, when my new teacher said that a refusal to reconcile is a way of saying, 'I can live my life just fine without you.' For the record, I could never say it. How blessed we are that God never says it, though I suppose it's technically true. Lord Jesus, preserve my life! I offer you these tears and sufferings for the relief of those in pain.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It's definitely time for this again. Read carefully and slowly, friends. Thank you again, Keith Mathison, for writing such a beautifully horrid book! I never would have emerged from my schismatic tendencies without you. Every Catholic apologist on Earth should read and own the book.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Someone remind me not to listen to James Taylor's Greatest Hits ever again. [What?--ed.] Just trust me. Nothing personal, sir.

4. I once said that I'd like to be known as the greatest theologian of the 21st century. Permit me to revise my statement: If I spend one day not feeling like a complete moron in the face of the mysteries of Christ and His love, I'll be very surprised.

3. Writing sucks. Even if you're good at it or you think you are, it still sucks.

2. I'm happy the NBA got its house in order, but mainly so I can hear Charles Barkley talk about...anything. [They could just give him a talk show.--ed.] Nah, that never works.

1. How many milliseconds will it take the "Truly Reformed" (whatever that means) to say the "And with your spirit" in the English revision of the Mass confirms our body-hating Gnosticism? Maybe I'm just paranoid.

Friday, December 02, 2011

I went to Eucharistic Adoration last night, and I had a thought worth holding on to: "I don't even know what I'm gonna eat tomorrow, much less what I'll be doing in 5 years. I shouldn't hold on so tight." The good things about me and the bad things all come back to the fact that I have difficulty with loneliness. If only I could desire fellowship with God as much as I do with people, I thought. Then, sure as I'm sitting here, Jesus tried to hug me. People who know me know that I hate being startled. Well, I was. I jumped back and shuddered so hard, you'd think it was an earthquake. I laughed at myself and said, "OK, Jesus. We'll work on that one."

P.S. The date on MSN's homepage has been screwed up for two solid weeks; it thinks today is January 2, 2012. Not yet.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dear Cherished Friend,

I have these many months chosen the way of Self over the way of Love. I regret every painful word, indeed every painful thought that has caused you grief. I beg you, in Christ's name, to forgive me. I know that I have destroyed your trust, and may never gain it back. This is a heavy cross, but it is nothing, in order to know that you will forgive for His sake. Perhaps we are like Paul and Barnabas; we have separated for the sake of peace. I bless you on your way, thankful for the gifts you gave me. I have no right to be called a friend of yours, but you will always be mine.

With all brotherly affection,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Oh, I forgot to say one thing: the severest of heresies in Christendom are not bizarre anomalies from nowhere; they are the direct result of the idolization of individual interpretation and dissent.
Hilarious Com-Box Quote of The Day: "I was caught immediately because it is the Acts of the Apostles, not the Acts of the Holy Spirit Acting Erratically."--Donald Todd, reacting to the inartful opposition of the Holy Spirit and the Magisterium. Mark Galli, an editor at Christianity Today, had suggested that today's "confusion" in evangelicalism replicates a confusion on the day of Pentecost. Mr. Todd commented after this reply, and the original article is here.
My thoughts: By what means was this Church-less "consensus" formed? If the Council did not possess the authority to adjudicate such questions, who does? If the Council Fathers did not intend to be the arbiters, why do they say that they do? At the risk of being rude, I would define evangelicalism as, "Whatever I want or need to believe at any particular time." Ecclesial authority to settle a particular question is a step forward, but only as long as, "God alone is Lord of the conscience" is rejected as a reduction to, "Your authority is contingent upon or derivative from my interpretation of the Scriptures." Not to mention the thorny question of ecclesial validity itself. Y'all could use some of that "principled creedalism" I wrote about. [Don't say it.--ed.] Say what? That respecting the historical context of creeds and Councils and the real authority they possess leads inoxerably in one direction? That there is one Church? That she is served humanly speaking by a German theologian of some repute? I didn't say anything.
5 Opinions Or Conclusions For Today

5. Tim Tebow may be a Grade-A cheese-ball for all I know, but there is real hostility to Jesus Christ in the public square.

4. It had to be J.R. Though I have an obvious low-level antipathy for all things Kardashian,* I will admit that he danced well. Wounded veteran vs. coddled reality TV star...duh.

3. [More Tebow] Broncos fans remember well that Jake Plummer wasn't exactly Brett Favre back there, so they're gonna cut the kid some slack. They also know that Elway is right, and so does Tebow.

2. What we want and what is best for others is often different.

1. If your interlocutors call your theological insights "one-liners," you might be in the wrong line of work.

*Except for Kourtney. She should leave that Scott dude. I would totally take care of her.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

So there I was, [I'm not doing it.--ed.] reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church (we call it 'Triple C' when we want to sound cool or rebel) [Seriously, stop lying. You just made that up.--ed.] when I happened to read this:

It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is
about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and
its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery
by the leaders and the people, Pilate's cowardice and the
cruelty of the soldiers, Judas' betrayal - so bitter to Jesus, Peter's
denial and the disciples' flight. However, at the very hour of
darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly. (CCC, 1851)

Did you catch that "inexaustibly"? Can you believe it? Think on
this for a moment: The Catholic Church--that allegedly insular, legalistic
bastion of rule-making neo-Pharisees--is telling us that God loves us so
much in Christ that the forgiveness of our sins is never far away, and
never stops being offered! Sheesh, that love will get you out of bed in the morning!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hilarious YouTube Comment of the Day:

"James Taylor could sing the phone book and I'd buy the CD."--some guy.

[Is every one of these going to be about James Taylor?--ed.] Hey, it's not my fault people run out of ways to express their appreciation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Significance of 903

In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I adopted the Duke Blue Devils as my second-favorite team (after my alma mater) sometime in the '90s. College basketball has its share of legend coaches, just like football. In a certain way, there are more of them: Wooden, Smith, Rupp, Knight, and the rest. If you watch the sport, there are those still in the game who are legends even before their sunset: Boeheim, Calhoun, Pitino, Krzyzewski. And now
Krzyzewski stands above them atop the win list of men's college basketball. The relatively young man of 64 is numerically greater than all of them. What would have happened if the coach had not led his seriously flawed team past the rising Butler Bulldogs in 2010? Would the celebration of this moment, the adulation, and the editorials be this fawning? No way. And surely that run was energized by leading Team USA to Olympic gold in Beijing. So here we are, facing one incontovertible fact: Arguably the greatest coach ever in college basketball doesn't think he's done yet. He and Coach Pat Summitt can argue that one while there's still time. But they asked him what was next. He said he hadn't won a championship with this team. That didn't sound like a man riding off into the sunset. Imagine what it would be like to be on a team that plays in the championship tournament every year. What if that same team were in the final 16 teams of that tournament nearly every year, and was considered a failure if not? Imagine a bad season of 30-5. Imagine defeating most of your opponents on fear alone. You begin to get some idea what Coach K has done. More championships than Smith. More than Knight. More than Boeheim. With recent events, we can't extrapolate moral virtue from athletic dominance or loyalty, if we ever could. But we can say that a seemingly nice guy has already redefined basketball, and isn't near done.
Happy Birthday, Mom! If having two sons who've both attained the age of 30 hasn't convinced you that you're old, I guess we'll have to leave you in your 28-year-old delusions! But seriously, I love you, Mom.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Rest In Peace, Bob Forsch.
Average Chris Carpenter Cardinals Season: 16-7, 3.05 ERA.

Average Greg Maddux Braves Season: 18-8, 2.61 ERA.

Not too bad, Chris. Maddux is a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible in 2013, and is among the 10 greatest pitchers ever to pick up a ball.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Hilarious YouTube Comment of the Day: "I am a total Metalhead all the way but this dude's voice is otherworldly. He could be singing about toasters and it would be art."--some guy, referring to James Taylor.
5 Random, Disconnected Thoughts For Today

5. I played poker last night for the first time in ages (online, play money). Played well, but lost.

4. I got a voter ID card the other day; sorry, if there was something to vote on, it wasn't important enough for me.

3. It turns out there are Republicans in Hollywood. Should have known Eastwood was.

2. If the Cardinals--uh, sorry, I mean, the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals--can't find a manager, I'll do it.

1. You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Today, I'm sad. We had to put down our dog, Cubby. That was his name because he looked like a bear cub, not because we have any affection for the Cubs! (as should be obvious from the blog) Anyway, believe me when I tell you that he was the best dog a person could ask for. Always happy, even to the end. He understood that I had a disability; he just worked around it. He spent long hours just guarding my door. He'd jump around like a lunatic at the sight of us; he'd bark like a mad dog at strangers, and then ask for pets 2 minutes later. It wasn't long ago he'd lay right behind my wheelchair and be jarred to action by the magnetic click of my brakes releasing. He was the dumbest, most adorable Australian Shepherd you ever saw. One green eye, and one clear. My favorite pastime was to put on my affectionate voice and say, "Are you so stupid, Cubby? Yes, you're so stupid!"
I used to say, "You're a silly Cubby" and "You're our Cubby-dog" like it wasn't his name, it was his breed. Once you've met Cubby, there are very few dogs stick in your mind like he did. Cubby was my brother's dog, but we all knew I'd take it the hardest. He spent all his time with me. For some odd reason, the last few animals we had spent their final days with me. I do stay relatively stable and quiet. I discovered that I am an animal person these last 12 years; there's something special about a dog; to turn one against you, ordinarily, you have to be trying. Cats are disliked by some, but that is foolish; they simply have their own language of affection and trust you must learn. But Cubby the dog was straightforward in his love; he made friends easily, he begged for people-food like a champ, and he was the best alarm system I've ever seen, at least until the prospective malefactor was in the house; then, he'd just befriend you. I can't really tell you exactly why I loved him so much. I just did. And whatever dog-love he was capable of, he gave it all the way. I swear I almost called him in here; I'll probably almost do that a lot for the next week.
Cubby knew when we were excited, or when there was a holiday. And he was fired up right there with us. He liked to catch french fries in the air; he loved rolling in dirt and snow. Especially snow. What would an Australian dog breed know about it? I don't know. But that was Cubby. The last year or so, he'd rub his head on my leg; I think that was his way of saying, "We're the best of friends, you and me." Cubby's decline from arthritis and tumors was fast; he still thought he was a puppy, dancing around trying to run too fast. When he had trouble getting up, we initially told ourselves his nails were too long and the floor was slick. The arthritis meds helped him tremendously at first; he was back to himself. But those things don't improve, and when he started to fall over without being able to get back up, we knew it was trouble. He was so happy and otherwise healthy that we hesitated at first. When he trembled with pain, we knew we had to let him go. He had to go out about an hour before we said goodbye for the last time. And he wasn't slow about it; you have to trust yourself in times like that; you might be tempted to hold on too long.
My sister and my sister-in-law took him to the vet, because they know that my brother and I are in reality two of the softest men you will ever meet. Neither one of us could do it. Try not to laugh. I walked him to the car, and promptly fell apart. I remember the day I first met Cubby: at a frat-house on a Saturday at 7 in the morning. It was 1999 then. Apparently, Kevin thought it would be funny to have Cubby wake me up. He licked me into submission, and we were friends for life. I'm pretty emotional about the whole thing, but it absolutely convinces me again of the dignity of humanity. Even if I hadn't read St. Thomas, I would know that humans have a supernatural end. We can have a great deal of pleasure and fun in this life, and even together, but humans don't exist simply to serve other humans. We belong to God; we don't choose to begin life, and we ought not choose when it ends. Even our stupid euphemism 'euthanasia' keeps us from realizing the glory we are meant for. The word means "good death," but we weren't supposed to die. It is a mercy from God, so that we don't die (God-willing) in sinfulness and suffering, but it is a severe one. As for dogs and other pets, it's like a deal: "You feed me and give me a relatively hassle-free life, and I'll be cute and an extremely loyal friend of yours." Given the fact that there's nothing after this, (for him) I owed it to my friend not to drag things out. I think it hurts precisely because I'm made for eternity, and in the face of the gut feelings the words "friend," "love," and "death" evoke, it gets a little hard to make the nature-grace distinction. I'll miss my Cubby.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I admit it, I gave up. Tons of times. This Cardinals team earned my respect, my scorn, and my hope all in a vicious cycle for these six or so months. They blew a 6-2 9th inning lead against the Mets with about a week to go. They blew the most games they'd led in the final inning of any team in baseball. They are maddening to watch. I have almost nothing left as a fan. I just need to be honest here.
And so, after three errors that all led to runs and a 7-4 lead for the Texas Rangers, trying to win the first title of their existence as a team that made their maiden voyage in 1961, I thought, "It's over." My brother was swearing and asking Tony La Russa why Lance Lynn, only equipped for one inning of duty, returned to surrender the leading runs. As for me, I always lack faith. I pronounced our doom, as is my role as the realist yet again. When Allen Craig smacked a homer in the eighth to make it 7-5, I said to myself, "Why are you making it closer? It'll just hurt worse." When the Cards loaded the bases later that inning, needing only one hit to tie the score, Rafael Furcal's groundout to end the inning surely sealed our fate.
In the final inning, the team did exactly what they needed to do to make a run at it: first and second, no outs. The pitcher Kyle Lohse, batting because the Cards were out of position players, executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. Again, one hit ties the score. Craig was up again, and when he was surprised by an off-speed pitch with two strikes looking at strike three, I thought it was over. David Freese got two strikes on him as the final hope. A deep fly ball to left. It might go out, we thought. It started to die at the track. Nelson Cruz drifted back on what looked to be a season-ending near-miss. But Cruz doesn't like walls, and having failed to get back to the wall quickly, he was surprised when it carried. He jumped and stretched, but the ball hit the wall to the left of his glove! Tie score. Freese made it to third. 7-7. Another hit wins it for the Cardinals. But no such luck.
When Josh Hamilton, the drug-addict turned AL MVP, hit a two-run homer in the 10th, it seemed to this fan that the man with the pulled groin and Oscar-worthy life story would take his Texas Rangers to a title. But the Cardinals had other plans. Having scored another run to make it 9-8, Lance Berkman was himself down two strikes with two outs. "Texas is way too deep in the outfield," we said. Any hit would surely score the runner from second. Berkman got a cut fastball inside. Cut fastballs are designed to jam hitters and break bats. Mission accomplished. But Berkman was ready, and hit it hard. Single. Tie score, again! The Cardinals had trailed 5 times in this game. They still needed to survive the 11th inning after failing to win in their half of the 10th. Edwin Jackson had been announced as a pinch-hitter before Lohse in the 9th, and so was unavailable to pitch. There was only one pitcher left: Jake Westbrook. The same Jake Westbrook who'd surrendered 5 runs to Houston in the penultimate game of the regular season, who'd been left off the postseason roster for ineffectiveness. The team had of course won that game anyway. The teams in postseason play can adjust their rosters before each round. The great Tony La Russa must have figured he'd need another starting pitcher in an ugly World Series, so he put Westbrook on the roster. And here he was, in the top of the 11th inning of the World Series. When he surrendered no runs in that inning, I shouted, "We picked you up in Houston,"--in St. Louis, the fans are on the team--"now you're gonna pick us up!" For the first time, there was a structural advantage for the Cardinals: their final pitcher was a starting pitcher who'd not pitched. The Rangers brought out their final man, Mark Lowe, a short reliever. He'd have two innings, perhaps three. If we didn't win in the next, we were OK, we reasoned. Westbrook would not hamper the overall readiness of the pitching staff in a presumptive 7th game, no matter how long this game went. The Rangers may be another story.
All you need to know is that David Freese--the man who dropped a pop-up in the fifth inning, leading to the 7-4 deficit, who made atonement with the tying triple in the 9th, only to see his team fall behind again, he who was traded as an afterthought to the Cardinals for the aging Jim Edmonds, who played at Lafayette High School mere minutes from my house--hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th. And so, the greatest baseball game I had ever seen was concluded, 10-9. And the author of the game supplanted by this one as the best I'd ever seen, Chris Carpenter (who'd thrown a three-hit shutout in the fifth and deciding game of the opening playoff series against his best friend, Roy Halladay) will get the ball in this very last game with everything at stake. No matter what happens, he and the rest of his team have earned the respect of Cardinals fans that will not soon abate. The Comeback Kids come home one last time, to try to win one last game--the 180th of this long season--for the 11th championship in the city called "Baseball Heaven."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

5 Irritated Thoughts on Tim Tebow

5. Look, Bryan Phillips, we get it: You don't like Tim Tebow (or Brett Favre*, for that matter) but most normal people do, and seriously, what is it with you people?

4. Tebow wins. At every level. Why wouldn't you roll the dice in re-building mode?

3. You're darn right that we like how he appears to be exactly what he says--a real Christian--who's willing to stand up for that weird sub-cultural tenet that we shouldn't kill each other. What a freak.

2. They won the game, didn't they? And almost won the week before.

1. I'll take 10 Tim Tebows over a whole league of "real," "gritty," and "flawed" people you tell us to like.

*Brett Favre is, of course, (with respect) a scumbag, whose beauty queen of a wife would have divorced him long ago if she weren't Catholic. But he was fun to watch.
I had to link this as your "Socialism Sucks" Story of the Day, as if anyone with a brain and a history book needed proof. I mean, I pretty much hate cheese, but I DEMAND multiple cheeses! Better to risk gluttony than starve to death.
I believe in capitalism. I do not believe in it as a concession, a middle-ground until grace perfects something better. I do not hold my material goods with a closed fist, nor adore them as gods. I believe in the dignity of the human person, first as an individual, and then in larger groups. I will accept some limits on the rights of individuals to buy, sell, and trade goods, ideas, or anything of value, consonant with Christian truth, given by the Catholic Church (whether directly or indirectly). I DO NOT automatically accept appeals to the "common good" in the regulation of markets, because "the government" (or the State) cannot be called to account when its meddling creates the very injustices that we all decry. If the efficiencies of markets lead to the valuing of the wrong things, the Church exists to exhort her children (and everyone else, for that matter) to use our freedom to alter outcomes as she sees fit, guided by the Holy Spirit. It may well be unwise for the human leaders of said Church, absent a specific charism of infallibility in any one case, to pronounce upon matters outside their areas of expertise. Reason, experience, and empirical data all vindicate market capitalism as the most consonant with the dignity, freedom, and responsibility of human persons.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You know, this world is tough. We might be tempted to anesthetize ourselves to this fact with pleasure or unreasonable Pollyannish optimism, but it doesn't take long to realize the futility of this. People die suddenly. Friends get sick and injured, the earth beneath us quakes and traps people in rubble and we're left wondering why. When things are going well, there is a part of me that waits for the other shoe to drop. I'm not cynical; in fact, I'm quite the opposite. But I am, as they say, acquainted with grief.
Right now, I struggle to love a person who doesn't like sad songs, who doesn't want to hear of misfortune, who doesn't know that we live in a sick, sad, world that would have nothing going for it but that Christ Jesus took on flesh and died for us. It's a beautiful world, too. But make no mistake: He made it that way, we messed it up, and Jesus came to set it (and us) right again. It's not that I don't feel joy, I don't laugh, or love; it's just that I don't find myself able to do those things apart from the truth of Christ.
I went to a trivia night the other day to raise money for a friend with leukemia. I would note for the sake of the curious that it was my first time darkening the door of a Protestant gathering-place since May. What I noted was the joy. You can feel the reality of faith in the risen Lord at times like this. It's in the air. I knew that this large extended family had struggled and cried and asked God just what the jimmy He was doing. None of us who were aware of such a struggle could fail to take note of its threat to life. But sure as I sit here, as if it was written in green paint on the wall, this sentiment was present: This is hard, but Christ has been raised, so we have joy. And we do not fear. Why? Well, why do we like redemption stories, stories of triumph, stories of endurance in the face of impossible odds? What is the story of humanity redeemed in Christ, if not this? People who refuse to look at the bad are just as bad as the misanthrope who sees no dignity in us at all.
If you will permit me, remember the final scenes of 'Top Gun,' where our protagonist Pete Mitchell is thrown into the climactic air battle with the Soviets bent on destroying a disabled US Navy ship? Still reeling from the accidental death of his navigator, Mitchell hasn't shaken off his fear or self-blame for the incident. He spends several long minutes on the periphery of the battle, while his rival (who'd warned their Commanding Officer of Mitchell's lack of readiness) yells at him to "Get in the fight!" He does, and victory is had. We too need to get in the fight, but we need to take accurate stock of what the fight is, and what we are equipped to do. If we find ourselves inadequate to the task--as we surely will, in our own strength--the logical course is to seek strength and meaning from the One who made us. It will not do to shut our eyes to this broken world, nor to fashion meaning apart from Him, but to actively take part in the drama of redemption. Because every fleeting joy, every great meal, every powerful love derives its goodness from God, who wills that it be perfected in Christ. Outside of the truth of Christ and His saving work, nothing good lasts. But nothing of sorrow or pain does either, in Him.
I just needed to say that, because I struggle to love and to abide in Christ. May He be the keeper and Author of all joys and sorrows, now and forever.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A note to commenters: Though Holy Mother Church does not see fit to "inquisit" Lutherans these days, be advised that enthusiastic Lutherans, whose quarrelsome tendencies naturally lead to that manifest evidence of error known as the "double post," will be mocked in sufficient measure.
As for the Reformed, because their system's obvious contradictions warrant only the most uproarious laughter, but they, being highly disinclined to smile, much less laugh at themselves, we can only pray for them (while chortling in solitude).
Being dispossessed of that sure aid when confronted with supernatural mysteries, 'I need a drink,' we strongly advise our Baptist brethren to try, 'I need fried chicken,' in the hope that it anecdotally has served the same purpose for generations of their best theologians.
5 Facts On My Right Ear

5. The hole in my eardrum is causing the block, not fluid. This is not good.

4. The eardrops I was using may have made things worse.

3. He thinks I'll get my taste back soon, but he's given me nasal spray to clear things out a bit.

2. I'll have a hearing test in about a month.

1. Surgery is likely.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

So there I was, surveying YouTube like always, (I started with my favorites, which means Buble first) when I had to click on "Motownphilly". If you can't groove to that, there's no saving you. When I was a teenager, Boyz II Men was it. IT. Because it has a beat, and these kats called it "hip-hop doo-wop" (besides their indebtedness to so-called "New Jack swing") we might have to blame them for the horrid fusion now called 'hip-hop'. On the other hand, while parents and pastors got a little jumpy at their sexy songs, you could always count on Boyz II Men to generally sonically make the world a better place. I love them to this day. Darn hard to dislike this one. I smell bachelor-party video montage! [You're not even close to getting married.--ed.] Look dude, I'm like a woman; I've thought about this a lot. Anyway, I was almost sucked into a largely Babyface-penned vortex of Awesome for three hours, when it showed me an advertisement for a Melanie Fiona video. The first time I heard Melanie, it was on those satellite channels, and it was one of those times where you think a vulgarity out of sheer awe. Later, our friends at AT&T gave us their "Music Choice" channels, which show you a picture of said artist, and all I have to say is...Hey Melanie, I bet you're a churchgoing sort, or at least I hope so. If you don't happen to be in communion with the bishop of Rome, we'll work on that. [Hey, aren't you in serious like with that one friend of yours? She's white.--ed.] Yes. But who knows how that will go? And that's just how awesome she is, because she can cancel out the special advantage that God's special creatures from Africa have in terms of attraction with yours truly! [You scare me sometimes.--ed.] Yo, I may be an unwitting defender of white privilege, like Dr. Bradley might say. I might have a lot to learn. But I know 2 things for certain: Jesus loves every person, even unto death, and black women are beautiful. Since Rissi is married, and Brandy is sketchy, I need a new Black Celebrity Highly Unlikely (but remotely possible) Crush!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

5 Random, Disconnected Thoughts For Today

5. The reason TD Jakes gets invited to prominent evangelical conferences is that there's no definitive final authority for doctrine beyond the self, AND they may be a teensy bit racist. Just sayin.'

4. I will not vote for any of the Republicans that happen to have an 'r' in his last name.

3. Nor will I vote for a Mormon. My Trinitarianism is firm.

2. That's right, the evangelical insistence on creedalism is entirely arbitary, though admirable, and it takes a pretty recalcitrant heretic/fundie for anyone to notice the problem. Keith Mathison already pointed out the problem, even if he refuses to see it.

1. I am a good time!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

5 Thoughts That Changed My Life

5. Derivative authority is a sham.

4. Good intentions are not enough.

3. All truth is connected.

2. "Have you thought of being a writer?"

1. "That Eucharist is for me."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Look out. Poetry is dynamite sometimes; it is not a trifle, not meant to be mocked. I'm still recovering from this one. What would Tim Butler say?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

This is another entry in the "I'm 59, and a living legend" file, along with the celebrated Coach Summitt. I found myself listening to Country (Western) music after a full weekend of swimming in the vast sea that is Catholic theology. I understand that this form of music is not everyone's cup of Earl Grey; hot, (let the reader understand) but I have two words: George Strait. 59 #1 singles, people! The 12th best-selling musician in American popular music history. And this isn't even one of the chart-toppers. Hey Cross, after you're done with that MacIntyre, you could check him out. I love this one. I admit it, that cover by Taylor Swift you might see further down was fantastic. [Don't even act like you dislike Taylor Swift.--ed.] You're right; there's no fighting it! But anyway, George is one of my Big Three. [How should we feel about the fact that 2 of the 3 are Country artists?--ed.] You should feel that this is awesome.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

5 Thoughts on Monday's Tea Party GOP Debate

5. I'm going to call "Mittens" (let the reader understand) the "Republican John Kerry" until he goes away.

4. Does anyone want to send Rick Santorum to Afghanistan with a copy of "Dulce Et Decorum Est" to see how eager he is for war then? Maybe it's just me.

3. Ron Paul may not be able to speak an entire paragraph without getting angry, but that doesn't mean he's wrong.

2. Bachmann, please shut up. Please.

1. Rick Perry? Really? No, seriously.

Bonus: If we had Gingrich's brain, Santorum's faith, and Mittens' cool, our candidate could beat 1984 Reagan. I hate it when this happens.

Friday, September 09, 2011

On the off chance that someone cares about my reactions to the political process, I watched the entirety of the Republican debate on September 7 (thank you, YouTube, though Part 4 seemed snipped) and I'd have to say that I'm assured by what I saw. There are no obvious morons in the bunch,* and all of the big ideas on all the issues of the day are on the table, simply due to the sheer number of candidates and the diversity of perspectives. I thought that I'd give a short little pithy summary of each candidate's evening (hopefully humorous) and then offer some concluding thoughts:

Rick Perry: "Dude, I'm good-looking, folksy, Christian, and Texan. No, you've never seen this before! Just sit back and enjoy the ride."

Mitt Romney: "I am the only person on this stage who's read a real book in two months. I believe nothing I'm telling you, but I'm not Obama."

Newt Gingrich: "The term 'policy wonk' was coined for me. I'm personally off-putting, but I'm also correct. I won't win, but feel free to call if you get stuck."

Jon Huntsman: "I secretly hate the Republican base, I've actually been to foreign countries, and there is a 77.2% chance that I'll say something inoffensively sensible."

Michelle Bachmann: "What? You mean 'Obama Sucks' isn't good enough? I should probably be running a home-school co-op instead of running for president."

Herman Cain: "I have no chance (and Obama set back the acquisition of Black political power by 50 years) so I'll say interesting things about economic and fiscal policy. When these boobs make it worse, they'll realize I was right in 35 years."

Rick Santorum: "I am a neocon fascist. I'm not sorry about it. Our military can do everything. We are the new Rome, and we shall never fall."

Ron Paul: "I'm the most correct one here, but these people just make me so ANGRY that...war is bad. No, I will not be able to speak coherently for more than 15 seconds. Look, a squirrel!"

My take: Huntsman and Gingrich were outstanding. I'd love to hear those guys bat policy around in a room at 2 AM. Romney is very smooth, but a mite untrustworthy. The big loser tonight was Bachmann. She does not appear to be able to articulate a full political philosophy; she seems like she'd be a great advocate for children, families, or education. Fine: yes, she is attractive. And no, I don't mind attractive women in politics at all. It doesn't mean I think they are stupid, or sex objects. It means I'm a man, a young man, and it will be a long time before I fail to notice. Which reminds me: Hey, Christine O'Donnell, if you're ever in Missouri, I heard you were single and looking. I'm Catholic; so are you. Just think about it. I digress.

Santorum's answer to the question about foreign policy was horrid; re-thinking the strategic deployment of the US military and the scenarios under which it would be used is not 'isolationism.' Isolationism implies isolation--economic, social, and military--and even our friend Dr. Paul is not advocating disengagement; rather, we are advocating an engagement that is primarily economic, striving for mutual interdependence. Your suggestion otherwise says, "I'm incapable of re- examining America's military role in the world, because we cannot be wrong." You may find it useful to read President Washington's Inaugural Addresses and take heed. On the positive side, your statement in defense of Republican philosophy concerning poverty (in the face of a loaded question) bears repeating until it is at least respected, even if not agreed upon. Brian Williams was useless as the moderator, but his question to Perry with respect to the death penalty was a good one. It stuns me that although the editors of the most prominent conservative magazine in America are divided right down the middle on the issue, being a politician opposed is political suicide, or at least oblivion.
I have to say that Bachmann's stance on the wisdom of the Libya mission, coupled with her critique of President Obama's defense spending cuts and overall foreign policy, has more than the faint whiff of hypocrisy. Libya's freedom rationale, and ongoing relation to the so-called "Arab Spring," is not substantially different than the one offered for Iraq. She did not say that a good mission has been poorly executed; she said it should not have occurred. In other words, pick a basic foreign policy stance: military non-interventionism, (Dr. Paul) supranational military interventionism, (Eisenhower in Korea) or unilateral military interventionism (Bush the Younger). Good debate.

*Note: Perry mangles words, and doesn't think on his feet. Though being articulate is highly overrated (see "44th POTUS") it is prized among voters. He did sound like a dummy several times.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XXXXI (Part 5)

Silence, slanderer!
I will wait with patience for
Love wisely chosen.
Late-Night Haiku XXXX (Part IV)

"Are not many fair,
And wiser than this trampler,
Who jigs with light heart?"
Late-Night Haiku XXXIX (Part 3)

But to see this one,
No, to hear her laughing song
Is to know a truth.
Late-Night Haiku XXXVIII (Part II)

"But that is foolish,
Young man full of heady dreams;
Love is yet to bloom."
Late-Night Haiku XXXVII

The tree without its
Leaves; real but not itself thus;
So do I miss her.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

OK, I admit it: I love the song "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul. If you're not familiar with it, (or steadfastly opposed to clicking my links) it's about an adulterous affair: "Me and Mrs. Jones/We got a thing goin' on/We both know that it's wrong/But it's much too strong/To let it go now." I came across this song listening to the satellite radio channels on Dish Network/U-verse/DirecTV and those Time-Life classic soul collection infomercials. This is the Michael Buble version. On my initial hearing/re-introduction, I sanctimoniously felt that songs like this glorified evil and were the reason we're so screwed up. And there may be some truth in that. Home come owever, what's even more screwed up is that today, this song isn't even scandalous. You couldn't even write a song like this. It'd be like, "Well, $#*! happens. You love who you love." I like how Billy's character says that they know it's wrong. I like how he calls her 'Mrs. Jones.' Self-deception is so bad today that nobody would call her that. Wouldn't want to be reminded of your evil. I didn't come here to tell you that.
Did you know that Michael Buble sang a version of "Always On My Mind"? I love this guy! I've had the greatest difficulty finding a song of his that I even mildly dislike. Look, I'm no music snob; in fact, I'm the opposite, if there is such a thing. But you know darn well when you've entered another echelon in the world of popular music; Buble occupies that echelon. Anyway, I couldn't very well listen to that and not listen to Mr. Nelson's version. I didn't know/had forgotten that the King sang this, and in fact it was recorded first by Brenda Lee. Willie's version is the one I remember, though. I've grown up with country music, and you have to have hidden under a rock not to know it, given that musical awareness. It's funny, though: my mom hates Willie Nelson, (at least his singing) but she's the reason I know who he is. Well, she hates raisins too, but she made us eat them. If only I could be so strong. Willie's still current. And it's hard not to like "Mendocino County Line." [You just like it because of Lee Ann Womack.--ed.] Well, she never hurts a song/video.
A plane crash in Russia has killed 43 members of Russia's Locomotiv hockey team of the KHL. 6 current or former NHL players were killed, including Pavol Demitra, Karlis Skrastins, Ruslan Salei, Brad McCrimmon (a player in the '80s), and others. Demitra played the balance of his career with my hometown St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League, and it's fair to say, he's beloved by Blues fans. If sports is responsible for the expression of some of our current ills, it also brings us into a kind of friendship with people we would not otherwise know. I'm sure that Demitra's line-mates on the Blues' celebrated "Slovak Line" (Michal Handzus and Lubos Bartecko) are mourning today. As we say, "May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace."

Monday, September 05, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XXXVII (On John 13:35)

No further thinking
Or debating tears' merits
Outlasts Him crying.
Late-Night Haiku XXXVI

I'd sleep, if only
I could make a start at not
Jamming to Bolton.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Daytime Replacement Haiku (Late-Night Haiku XXXV, On Psalm 1)

The righteous man me.
Though stumbles invite turning,
The Lord comforts me.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

5 Uncouth, Unfair Thoughts On Politics

5. If certain noisy factions actually cared about the poor, they wouldn't bribe the middle class with entitlements.

4. I might have cared about my carbon footprint once, but then I remembered The Gathering Of Urgent Concern, which naturally required a private plane, and first-class service.

3. All things considered, no matter what else I say, there is a difference in the state killing murderers, and the state killing children.

2. No, I'm not scared of Michelle Bachmann, or Sarah Palin.

1. Short of Romney, (for the sake of the gospel) I'm with the Republican nominee in 2012. (In that case, I'll write in Ron Paul without hesitation. Which I should have done last time.)

Bonus: Our only democratic ally in the Middle East is neither democratic, nor an ally.
Late-Night Haiku XXXIV (On Psalm 73)

Though the just wait long,
And pleasure beckons daily,
In Your house is peace.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XXXIII (On Ephesians 2:5)

Gracious life to us;
Together with Him we reign,
Though death bound us fast.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XXXII (On Acts 2:38)

You turn around now,
Take water the soul solvent.
Receive Triune life!
Late-Night Haiku XXXI (On John 3:16)

For You so loved us,
Your Son to redeem mankind
Sent to the dying.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XXX (on Genesis 2:18)

The Lord's intent sure,
Much more noble than my own.
Yet we concur thus.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XXIX (on Matthew 16:18-19)

To confess You, Lord,
Is indeed most noble, but--
Who holds Peter's keys?
Daytime Replacement Haiku (Late-Night Haiku XXVIII, on John 20:23)

To whom, Lord Jesus?
Do you leave us quarrelling?
One to bind, to loose.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XXVII (On John 13:35)

Lord Jesus, bless us;
They have not known who we are;
Drown us in your Love.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm a little sad to hear this. Keep fighting, Coach. Turn to the Lord with all your heart.
Late-Night Haiku XXVI (On Luke 23:37)

What would you give just
To hear that one homily?
Better yet, to love?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Daytime Replacement Haiku (Late-Night Haiku XXV, on John 7:38)

Yes, Lord, I believe;
Still, I tremble, asking You
If my water lives.
Daytime Replacement Haiku (Late-Night Haiku XXIV, on John 5:7)

They don't go before
Me now, because I'm made strong
By your word, O Christ.
I had decided to write two extra haikus to make up for being gone this weekend, but failed, so now I'm going to write 3 and 1 tonight.

Daytime Replacement Haiku (Late-Night Haiku XXIII, on John 2:3)

When I have no wine,
There is none but Him I seek;
Beseech Him, O Mother.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XXII (On John 1:14)

The highest glory,
The noblest of those who rule
Got dirt on His feet.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I found this as a Facebook status of a friend: "I have no faith in human effort... especially my own. True strength comes from Jesus Christ, and Him alone." Discuss.
Late-Night Haiku XXI (On Colossians 1:15-20)

Lord, giver of Life
And all things seen and unseen,
Make peace here with us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Here you go. I can't let you off that easy, Mr. Hays. Let's zoom in; let's talk about the formation of particular denominations, with particular distinctives. By what authority does such a body come into existence? What processes or means make the conclusions drawn by such a group authoritative? If it is but a part of the Body of Christ, let's say, who or what defines the relations to the wider whole? You might say one group's conclusions about what the 'Church' is are good, but how and why? What makes those suppositions any more true than any other group of people? Hey, I'm just working under the assumption that the Church is invisible, as the Reformers believed. There seems to be a whole lot of reliance upon the Holy Spirit to guarantee individual interpretive decisions, which would be great, if John Q. Methodist or Bob F. Lutheran didn't do the exact same thing. (To say nothing of Susie Mormon, who noone desires to listen to. But you should get jumpy when your arguments are the same.)
Speaking of that, is the next step in ecclesiology defining a difference between "heresy" and "super-duper, special, you're actually going to Hell if you believe this" heresy? Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up: Suppose I were a minister in some Protestant denomination who no longer believed according to the creed of that community. In one sense, I might be considered a 'heretic' in terms of the specificities of that confession, granted, with varying levels of consequence, depending on where I was. But if I were in a place where we certainly believed there were saved people outside of us (and not in an extraordinary, "mercy flowing through the Church and sacraments to non-members of the visible Church, Catholic kind of way, but more") can this body of believers actually excommunicate me? I mean, in a way that God binds in Heaven? If we're only one among many, the juridical decisions of our group mean, in the end, precisely jack. Unless we happen to be right. But you'd never know. In that way, it seems like groups claim a juridicial right which only truly belongs to a unified, visible Church, and then claim the Church is invisible when politely asked who died and made them Pope in the first place.
Maybe I'm really also asking what 'unity' is, and was, supposed to be. How would you know when to return to Holy Mother Church? Is there one? If all questions are on the table and free for the asking except one--"Do I have a right to decide who to follow and what to believe for myself?"--we're not going to get anywhere. Where does dogma come from, anyway? Fallible interpreters, fallible process, fallible Church=Untainted revelation? What? How? It's that third thing that's the key. I don't get that. Something somewhere has to be infallible. That is, we have access to it. Otherwise, I wish you good luck discerning the revelation from the juridical decisions and matters of indifference that mean precisely jack. I suppose you could be content in some vanity that we're united in some "core of the gospel," until the presumption of speaking for someone else slaps you in the face. We'd do better if we'd all acknowledge that Christians are horribly divided.
Late-Night Haiku XX (On Luke 19:9-16 and Hebrews 1:1-3)

Thrust aside in wrath
By a stiff-necked people proud,
The Son triumphs true.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XIX (On Luke 19:41-44)

Jesus, remind me
Thou didst love and announce wrath
As a prophet, no?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XVIII

Quick feet and fast hands,
That made the fights mythic art.
Respect The Greatest.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

There are a few things that inspire me to want to raise eleventy billion dollars. Because throwing money at most actual problems doesn't work, you can safely assume I'm not talking about anything serious. Anyway...
Remember when pop music wasn't horrible? Not long ago. Less than 20 years ago, even. [Shut up, you like Lady GaGa.--ed.] Gotta love that 5th Amendment, y'all! I digress. I was in one of my "George Michael is awesome" phases again, and I heard a song of his I didn't know. Amazed, my brain struck gold. Would you not sell your house to pay for the studio time to hear Michael Buble sing this? And then, it turns out, he did. That figures.
Yes, the Iowa Straw Poll is only slightly less pointless than the Iowa Caucuses, but I told you so; the first establishment finisher on the list is Pawlenty. Pawlenty will be your nominee, I'm telling you. You don't have to be a centrist, you just have to look like one. No matter what my sympathies with the Tea Party, the label screams, "I'm not centrist!" Winning politics is about appearing balanced and sensible. Bachmann can't do this. Cain can't, either. (And, Obama ruined Black prospects for president for at least 4 elections; sad but true.) The Catholics will do in Romney; the cafeteria ones will vote Obama; the orthodox won't vote for a Mormon. Bonus: Pawlenty is a tad "fallen-away," if you will, but he's socially conservative, and he fell away because his wife is an Evangelical (and so is he). Political gold, friends. It's not just because I like him; he's a perfect general election candidate. Just watch, he'll get third in Iowa, (Bachmann) second in New Hapshire, (Romney) and then he'll reel off a solid 20 states to win the nod, because: The base hates Romney, they are not scared of Obama, but they're not stupid either, and a Tea Partier can't win. There's a lot of buzz about Rick Perry, but A) it's early; B) he's Southern; and C) Obama will tie him to Bush (yes, Bush) faster than you can say 'Harriet Miers.' You need a geographical advantage without negating the cultural one. Easy answer: Nominate a Midwesterner who doesn't annoy the base, who doesn't lose his cool, and who has executive experience. And, as we did before unsuccessfully, point out that Obama had none, we tested it anyway, and how's that working out? The ads write themselves, people.
Late-Night Haiku XVII

My soul wants manna;
Bread of Heaven, descend soon.
We are perishing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XVII

Hello, Kenneth, friend;
Yours is the soundtrack of days.
The love symphony.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XVI.2

You are the reverse
To all the others I know;
Your name I shorten.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Safe Haven, Foreign Computer Edition: The comments on the 'My wheelchair was nearly destroyed by a car' post have been great fun. Let me deal with one argument commonly advanced against Rome's reckoning of the Ecumenical Councils: "It wasn't truly a council, because the Orthodox were not present." I can't be polite, here, sorry. What? Are you going to invite the Arians, too? Do you need the unanimous consent of all humanity before a Council of the Church becomes so? Don't hear what I'm not saying. I don't believe that Orthodox and Arians are in the same boat. Blessedly, they're not even on the same lake. But you see the flaw in this argument, don't you? You could choose any group of dissenters, and by the fact of their non-participation, call the Council invalid. Frankly, this is a bad argument. On the earth right now are 2 and only 2 candidates for Visible Church Founded By Jesus Christ. Other communions either have broken the physical and sacramental link to the Apostles, or denied that the link exists at all.
But the cold reality for the Orthodox, my dear Jamie, is that there hasn't been an Ecumenical Council called by the East because the patriarch of Constantinople has no authority to call one without the Bishop of Rome. The collegiality of the 5 historic sees is real, but it derives its sustenance from the primacy of the Bishop of Rome!
After all concessions have been made, jurisdictional overlaps considered, and tyrannies disavowed, the Bishop of Rome is still the center of visible unity for the entire Church.
Tim, by contrast, seems content with the "branch theory" of ecclesiology, which has a certain appeal until we come face to face with the reality of the individual being the focal point of deciding what branches off from what. Completely arbitrary. Also, it scarcely needs adding that as the praxis of said theory moves forward, it declines in explanatory power, as new groups add themselves to the party of line-drawers for who's actually in the True (invisible) Church. Doctrine must, of necessity, bcome relative because the discussion of what constitutes the true faith cannot be resolved satisfactorily (this means mutual agreement). I'm happy that we have "Jesus is Lord." But surely we can say more. We should be able. Of course the Anglicans don't believe their orders or sacraments are defective or deficient. Neither do the Gnostics.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XV (replacement)

I shall be away;

Weep not, dearest relations;

Haiku abides still.
Late-Night Haiku XIV

Truth and error mix;

If the Church errs unceasing,

What does Christ protect?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XIII

I’d miss you, baby;
Let me be wrong, lovely girl.
Say you adore me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I hereby apologize if any of the previous lacks in the winsome manner for which I am reputed. [You've never been mistaken for winsome.--ed.] Just work with me here, OK? I do approach these questions with an intensity for which I surely am reputed. Anyway, I would like to say that I think Mr. Timothy Butler will a great PCA pastor, who will serve his people with love, honor, and distinction. Be nice to the FV hippies among you, Timothy. True, they may be nothing more than papist spies, but I promise, the first few waves at least, I had nothing to do with. If you serve there near your home, you must get to know Father Kevin Schroeder [shrayder] as long as he's there. Hilarious. He's our kind of papist, Comrade. [All papists are your kind of papist.--ed.] Not true; just the good ones. [Good with respect to what?--ed.] My editor is Captain Jack? What? That would be awesome. [If I was Captain Jack, you might actually listen to me.--ed.] Not likely! Speaking of things I learned from Captain Jack, obviously this guy hasn't heard of the "Church-state nexus." Quite frankly though, I'm just not comfortable telling God he's a barbarian. Like if He is real, he'll just sulk away, shamed by my superior moral rectitude! But behind that whole line of reasoning is the opinion that God isn't real. Like the whole religion thing is man-made, and its benefits are marginal at best. I certainly can see that opinion, though obviously, I don't share it. I hope this is tongue-in-cheek, but in any case, it's funny. Not that imperialism is funny, but gee, it's still fun to tell progressives to chill out sometimes. I like Thomas the Tank Engine (and that's what it's about, for those too lazy to click the link). I admit, I was a teenager when I saw "Shining-Time Station" which contained the Thomas stories. British people telling stories is often humorous, and almost always charming. I say that because I'm an idiot American, and we think accents are funny. Is anyone else stunned that VeggieTales hasn't been sued for all they're worth for cultural insensitivity? The humor of the show is based upon foreign accents and mild stereotypes. Not that I'm complaining, because it's funny, but I figured the nattering nabobs of no-truthism (Gracias, Nixon) would have their undergarments all in a bunch over that.
What is this post about? "Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up...": Timothy Butler, I love you, my brother, though you of course are wrong about everything [grin] and I take back anything and everything that may have been ungracious in our ongoing dialogue. If there is something specific, just let me know, and we can talk it over. Ditto, Anne Robinson, and I add that I love scads of Reformed people to the uttermost (so far as I am able, anyway) and you are no exception. My dear Jamie, ditto for you as well. You are like another conscience to me, and I only wish I'd known you sooner, though we will do our best to make up the time, won't we? This blog as been about the dogged pursuit of truth from its inception, and thus, of Christ. And yet with humor and a certain boldness. If it errs in that path in various ways, it is the sin of your humble servant. Lord, have mercy, and forgive me, dear friends and brethren.
5 More Inconvenient, Perhaps Offensive Thoughts Or Questions

5. Which community of Christians ought I to join if Catholic claims to be the Church Christ founded proved false? Does it matter if none that I'd join bother to claim it?

4. If councils may err, why hold a council at all?

3. If people may err in interpretation absent a charism of the Holy Spirit, why would simply increasing the number of people help? Why should anyone trust an ecclesial community that wasn't infalliable?

2. If the answer to (3)b is, "You shouldn't," are you saying I should trust myself?

1. If we are imperfect, the hermeneutical process is imperfect, and the Church (however conceived) is not infalliable, how do we arrive at the truth of revelation? Are you at all bothered by the fact that godly people using the same means and process cannot agree on the precise content of that revelation?
Late-Night Haiku XII

I’m a high-brow dude,
But let it not be doubted:
Stupid is funny.
5 Uncouth Thoughts on Authority and History

5. I'm still waiting for Calvin to tell me who the "true bishops" are.

4. If the New Testament is so plain, how come no one can agree on what it says?

3. Some people (attempted to) trained me to exegete the Bible in the original languages. Oddly enough, my confidence in its perpiscuity was destroyed. (Good thing faith in Jesus Christ doesn't rest on the perpiscuity of Scripture!)

2. Nevermind; I'm not waiting for Calvin to tell me anything, because his opinion on this matter means precisely squadoosh.

1. Being neither a saint nor a Protestant, I'd like to say that, well, nearly everything I believe is on the basis of the Magisterium's teaching.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Late-Night Haiku XI

Celebrate with me
The songwriting prowess shown
By a man named Walt.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My wheelchair was nearly destroyed by a car last night. That's a bit melodramatic, I suppose, because it is intact and undamaged. But we'd left my power chair ("Red Sam" in the official designation) in-between the maze of cars parked out front of Chris Yee's house for Bible Study. [Isn't that a Protestant Bible study?--ed.] They are good friends, and it is not under any official auspices. [Not BSF?--ed.] They're BSF guys, but it's not a BSF study. Anyway, I wasn't worried; I made a joke about calling the vendor the next day: "What seems to be the problem, sir?" 'Well, it was destroyed by a car.' As it happened, a guy bumped into it at slow speed. His car got the worst of it. And this only reinforces what I've said for a solid 13 years [Quickie commercial coming] If you want a power wheelchair that lasts, get a Quickie. They're fast, obviously, and they're tanks. Heck, my old one still would work, but the batteries are shot. Probably the greatest invention in the history of power wheelchairs is the metal foot-rest. When the things were mostly plastic (and we're talking the swing-away rests here) you could snap them by driving fast with them swung out, even if you didn't run into anything. Stupid.
I didn't come here to tell you that, as the great Cosby says. I'm beginning to realize what my role in the world is: I'm a provocateur, and I bring clarity when people are content with unclarity. It happened last night. And it made me sound angry. I wasn't. I just took note of the fact that all the possible answers for how to understand this text we were addressing were on the table except the right one. The Kingdom of God and the Church have to be the same thing. This was the text. I take it for granted that Jesus views the Kingdom of God in positive, glowing terms. I still haven't figured out why the Reformed separate the two. Why did we even begin to talk about how "leaven" often refers to sin in the New Testament? It obviously doesn't here, even if we grant that the birds of the air are evil, like they appear to be in the Parable of the Sower. Is not the Kingdom of God the place where God reigns? Has He not promised to be our God, and we will be his people? Last I heard, we were a spiritual house where God dwells by His Spirit. Oh, wait, he's talking about the Church. Exactly! But if somehow they were separate, isn't this a way of saying, "To hell with the Church"? The Reformed, we might say if we were being impolite, got around these thorny problems by absolutizing our lack of freedom and responsibility, and relativizing the Church. [That's not fair.--ed.] Oh? I think it is. If you can't find it, you're not guilty of being outside it. That solves one problem. Also, it is granted to be much easier to believe in the Church as the spotless bride of Christ if none of these terrible collections of people is put forward as the actual intended. Pardon me for being rude, but I've never known an invisible pillar in my entire life. If I were you, I wouldn't trust the guy promising to build your house on an invisible foundation, either. True, it didn't stop the Westminster assembly from trying to have it both ways on the matter. Not that it'd help if they chose the visible, because the fractions in that family allegedly following the same will would be hilarious, if it weren't so sad (and confusing). I do have to salute them, though; at one point, they were as opposed to 'toleration' as any medieval papist, and probably worse. They'd surely freak out if they saw what passes for 'normal' in ecclesiology today. Man, I didn't come to talk about that, either. I can't encapsulate the core of a really big problem any better than this. It doesn't commend the solution as obvious, true; still, it deserves a real answer, now.
Late-Night Haiku X.2

Just around the way
Is the felicitous plan,
Your guidance flawless.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Late-Night Haiku IX.2

Shine O sun, fade not;
August does not dim your beams;
Grass laments the days.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Late-Night Haiku VIII

O God, judge of all,
Rain down mercy upon us;
They dwell in caves here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Late-Night Haiku VII

Jesus Christ the Lord,
Be the peace of troubled hearts,
As we drift to sleep.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Late-Night Haiku VI

Do not delay, friend;
To send your communiqué;
Cupid strikes the wise.
Late-Night Haiku V

Rain ever-present,
Know you not your destined path?
Not seen rain go up.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Haiku For A Pretty Girl (Late-Night Haiku IV)

She likes Bono, man.
From that state bigger than life.
Wish I was Reformed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I had a fantastic time with the Called to Communion boys in New Orleans. Grateful thanks go to Mr. Jerry Tate, who I trust didn't mind all the papists crawling in his house! [Well, one of them is his son.--ed.] Which is a guarantee of precisely squadoosh in terms of acceptance. [Good point.--ed.] Maybe we're all a hive-mind, but I wondered at how similar our stories were in coming to the Catholic Church. Another thing that must be noted is how free of bitterness and disaffection we truly are toward our former Reformed home. To a man, we were provoked to ask questions we never thought to ask, and they were answered in a way we never thought possible. The one word that sums up our journeys is joy. This is not to say we are untroubled, but it is to frankly acknowledge the goodness of God to each of us through the ministry of the Church. I feel almost guilty for having used that word so many times without knowing what it meant, and without sharing in its fulness. Please understand, I mean no insult. Many brothers use the word with great affection and profit, and I would dare not deprive them of it, because affection for the Church and affection for Christ are much the same thing. As Derek Webb rightly sings, "You cannot care for me/With no regard for her/If you love me you will love the Church." What my Protestant brothers and sisters lack in precision on this point, they make up for oftentimes in zeal.
I appreciate Comrade Butler's warm invitation to return, but I must decline. It's a bit like being offered a broccoli floret as opposed to a whole banquet. I say it that way because, make no mistake, I love broccoli. A lot or a little, it's good. But if I'm 'paying' for this with my whole self, I want it all. [The point is, there's crap in the food.--ed.] First of all, Jesus Christ has given us himself; there's nothing substandard about that.
But I describe the situation like this: A few cooks and servers did a poor job at the only restaurant in town. The guy who owns the whole town left his son in charge, and neither them nor their helper were at all pleased. But all the other so-called 'restaurants' in town will actually kill you if you eat there. The owner and company know who made the mistakes, and who's in with the killers, but he's biding his time for the good of everyone in the town. Some people got so mad, they left, and they learned how to each make a few good things from the restaurant, but not all of it. They started their own restaurants, and at least don't kill you, like the evil places, but it's not as good. The owner's gracious enough to come by to check on the other places, maybe share a dish or two, and is always ready to take customers and cooks back. They say sometimes that they didn't learn it from the big place, but wise folks know better. Some of the protestors say that we're all one restaurant anyway, so what's the big deal? But we can sense together that things were better before people left. And the owner said he won't put his name on any place that doesn't serve all the food. And some that left weren't certified cooks, as good as they seem to do.
It's been so long since the split, most people don't even know what started it. Some of the average folks don't realize there was one chain so long ago. Most are happy where they eat. Some of the independent places just opened, and they're so small, they barely have anything. That doesn't stop some 'owners' from saying that there never was one big place, and what we did have, the owner fouled up. Most people don't listen to them, unless they haven't tried much food. Somehow, in all the confusion and lies, word got around that the big place has the killer food, but it isn't so. Just in case, some stay where they are. Problem is, the killers get stronger every day, and as long as the good folks stay in separate places, many don't have long. Oh, they might scatter and start again, but it gets harder and harder. The company's given it all to keep the big restaurant open no matter what, and they try to help the smaller ones as much as they can. Better there than dead. But they should come back while there's still time. The owner holds no grudge, and everyone is grateful for the good things folks ate at the smaller places. Writing's on the wall, though.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Late-Night Haiku III

Unhand me, Cupid;

I never asked to meet you.

Mind's a mess entire.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Late-Night Haiku II

The Savior beckons;
Will you stand aloof from Him,
Listless beloved?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Late-Night Haiku

For you I abide,

On jagged edges peering,

Hoping to be caught.

Friday, July 01, 2011

To follow up on a post from yesterday, it was put to me whether culture rather than race explains the data on evangelicals and interracial marriage attitudes. I can't say; I didn't study the poll. [Then why'd you use it to bash evangelicals?--ed.] Because it's easy, and they deserve it. [You are one.--ed.] That may well be true. Anyway, my first sense is that most of the media can't research itself out of a wet paper bag. Nor does anyone actually have any idea what an "evangelical" is. Besides all that, I still say that evangelical church culture (read: "white") is more racist than not. You're still weird if you date or marry interracially. Even if noone would say it outright (and plenty would). And I'm mainly speculating about St. Louis, Missouri here. That bastion of Southern pride. [sarcasm]
Whether we can use "culture" as a valid filter for exclusion in the romantic pool depends on what we mean by it. Values? OK. It is really important to agree on most if not all of those. But one could easily use it to exclude people based on skin color, and with "plausible deniability," as they say. But we've got more questions to ask. Which cultural expressions are intrinsic (or perceived to be intrinsic) to the non-white identity? The intrinsic ones, are those judgments valid? Would this render those practices beyond refermation or criticism? (It certainly seems like many of us [whites] are disallowed from making such judgments.) At the risk of sounding like a deconstructionist here, can we validly accept a hierarchy of goods a la St. Thomas, if everything we put at the top is white and European?
The other elephant in the room is that we know we're mostly talking about Black culture here. Granted, it's not cool for anyone to date outside their "race," but this is the one that causes the most trouble, it seems to me. I could be wrong.
Alright, I admit it: I had two moments in my adulthood where I was confronted with my prejudices here. The first was during the Bush presidency, when Condi Rice (a black woman) was our Secretary of State. MSNBC was obviously flummoxed; I mean, what do we do with this person? Anyway, they interviewed Condi's best friend, an extremely well-credentialed history professor at one of the universities in New York. She began to speak, and she talked "white." Perfectly. I looked away, just to test if I was hearing what I wanted to hear. Nope. And I was stunned. It wore off, but you get my drift. When was the other time? Oh, crap, I forget. I hope a certain type of speech is not the test for authentic "blackness," because speaking as a white guy, I do judge people to some extent on how they speak. It's not as though I can't speak, oh, let's call it ghetto slang. I used to translate for the teachers in school. Side note: In my experience watching white people interact with black people, whites don't listen; they interrupt, they don't exhibit patience when confused. I've heard people utter entire sentences that the other person didn't hear or take account of, because of their condescension and inability to speak the language. That's not to say we shouldn't strive for some standard form of English, but I hate when communication fails. And people are people, made in the image of God, even if we determine in the end that some are beholden to an anti-intellectual (and destructive) culture. Wait, what is this post about?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I now have sound on this computer! And my music is all back! I've gone YouTube crazy. And for a lot of stuff I don't actually own. George Michael, Michael Bolton, Dru Hill, New Edition, Deborah Cox, etc. It's been awesome. Don't dare ask me why I'd date a black woman after you watch Lark Voorhies ("Lisa Turtle" for you Saved By The Bell fans) in the "These Are The Times" video. And of course, that tune was a huge hit for Dru Hill, and yes, it was written by Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds.
Anyway, what I came to talk about is a recent study reporting that 17% of white evangelicals believe that interracial marriage is inappropriate, in contrast to 8% percent of the white population in general. What? I thought evangelicals were supposed to understand the love of God better than those liberals, and heaven forbid, Catholics? I guess not.
In case anybody cares, I'd just say that I find a lot of black women attractive. Hey, I'm still probably some kind of racial neanderthal, but popular black culture has certainly helped. My first celebrity crush was Brandy. I don't know the difficulties with other ethnicities, but I wouldn't care. Who are these people? [Does that girl from high school count as a celebrity?--ed.] No, Rissi wasn't famous then. She was in the sense that I couldn't talk to her. Her husband is a lucky man.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'll be honest: Origen's commentary on Romans has had a huge impact on my decision to become Catholic, but in ways I did not expect. It was actually the soteriological continuity (in a sacramental synergism) between he and Augustine (yes, you'll be fine, just breathe) that has made it tons easier to see, understand, and believe what the bishops taught at the Council of Trent, which is itself a restatement of Thomas Aquinas, applied to those present difficulties. Once I saw that Thomas, though brilliant in any case, was not the product of some corrupt medievalism but instead simply built upon what had always been believed, it was all academic from there. Hey Reformed people: That Paul Helm dude is good; I definitely enjoyed reading that guy's blog. Regent; I should have known.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A reader of the blog asked me how Albert Pujols's struggles this season affect his free-agent prospects this winter, and I forgot to answer it. I answer that Pujols has not adversely affected his value at all. Before his hopefully minor injury today, he had gone 3 for 3 with a home run--bringing his season total to a non-meager 17--and raising his batting mark to .279. A normal Pujols batting mark is anywhere in the neighborhood of .315-.340, with a frightening boat-load of runs batted in (RBI) and runs scored. Put simply, unless he is badly hurt and misses a great deal of time, the monster is becoming locked in. The reason seasonal averages are still important in baseball is that no player, no matter how great, is unmitigated terror-inducing perfect all the time. But the truly great ones can slog it out over 162 games, put up the numbers, and make you tremble in fear as the opponent most of the time (in other words, Pujols). He's gonna make a borderline unholy amount of money this winter, and frankly, rightly so. I think he's the best player I ever saw. So far, anyway.
I went to Mass with my family (my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew) this afternoon. Worth noting that the 'LifeTeen' or maybe 'Life Teen' nature of this Mass generally means the songs will be catchy and simple, though why this is so is a mystery to me. [Rant deleted] [Praise the Lord!--ed.] Hey, our reader enjoys my rants. [Lies.--ed.] Anyway, the eldest member of the pastoral staff was retiring today, and this old priest gave ample evidence of having "priested," as it were, for quite some time. [Fitting, whatever I think of the whole thing, to have him retire on Father's Day.--ed.] I thought so. The homily was adequate; this being Trinity Sunday, he noted that the entirety of human history has been a wrestling to understand God, which in some sense is futile, because we will never exhaust Him, or get a handle on his character and majesty. Still, we try. And in Jesus Christ, we get the fullest picture of God; he is God, after all, and He shows us the Father. John 3:16 was contained in the Gospel reading; I understand mentioning the boundless love in this verse; what I do not understand is failing to mention what unbelief earns one, and a brief exhortation to take heed. Let me say this: I absolutely believe that Peter's successor is holding the keys of the Kingdom, and that all Christ's ministers and people ought to be in union with him. With that said, evangelical Protestant pastors NEVER miss the opportunity to exhort someone in a sermon to a robust and living faith in Christ or else, and certainly not when thrown the softball of John 3:16-18. I'm just sayin'.
In related news, if they keep using Protestant songs, as familiar and warm as that is, they may be harming the Church's case for itself. Obvious Perception #1: "Well, I guess the differences between us and other Christians are not significant." (false) Obvious Perception #2: "Well, I guess there's some core of the gospel that we all share (true, to a point) and our specific practices are just The Way We Do Things." (false) Not good. [People probably don't know those are Protestant.--ed.] True, but I doubt that makes it better. There's a third perception that's utterly disastrous that comes from a Protestant: "See, we were right all along!" Which isn't helpful at arriving where we all need to go. [I'm offended.--ed.] Good; prove my claims false. Give it everything you have. I'll be waiting when it's over, and so will the Church.