Saturday, May 12, 2012

5 Catholic Thoughts On The 50 Day Blowout Known As Easter

5. This "false church" really knows how to throw a party.

4. If the Reformers were so great, why do they devote only one 24 hour period to the most important event in human history?

3. Good luck proclaiming the Lord's death with a piece of bread.

2. I got nailed with that holy water 2 years ago. I'm giving that successor to the Apostles the side-eye until further notice.

1. I prayed the Rosary for you; deal with it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What is a "free market," anyway? Reason Magazine's slogan is, "Free Minds and Free Markets," and you hear politicians pay at least lip service to the idea, so we should probably define what it is we are talking about. I have a working definition. A free market is a voluntary mutually beneficial exchange of goods or services between two or more parties. What can be traded might be affected by regulations, laws, or basic human morality, but the basic definition is pretty straightforward.
Notice that my definition, which I certainly must have stolen from somewhere, need not be applied  to exclusively economic matters, though it certainly includes that. Also, when you hear people say that government is getting in the way of the free market, what they most likely mean is that the voluntary nature of an otherwise beneficial relationship is being thwarted unnecessarily on one side or the other, perhaps to the extent that a trade never takes place. Something that prevents a party from bringing goods or services to a free market is called a "barrier to entry." Some barriers are good and necessary; some may not be. If barriers to entry are erected arbitrarily or inconsistently, the market isn't free. "Some people making a lot of money" is neither the definition of a free market, nor of capitalism, the name usually given to the economic system defined by free markets. If economics exists as a science to manage the problem of scarcity, then we ought to choose the one that best does this. And because people have a dignity that comes from God, we have to choose an economic model that is not only efficient, but also leads to human flourishing and liberty. Most systems other than capitalism either fail to manage scarcity well, or fail to uphold the dignity of each person, or both. (At the extreme here, some central government will take the life of those who oppose its goals.)
I had a few incredibly general thoughts about this, since I was helping a buddy with something related to business ethics. It led me to think that because it is accepted that governments exist partly to provide for the general welfare, we should think of economic assistance from governments to individuals as aids to participation. It upholds no one's dignity to contribute or exchange nothing of benefit to others, just as abject material poverty is dehumanizing.
Apparently, my musical destiny is to listen to Audrey Assad's 2012 release, "Heart" 1000 times. I have never heard anything like this in my life. I hate Christian music. No, I'm serious. Because it's stupid. Either you can tell that the person doesn't believe what they're singing about, or this Jesus they love so fervently can't do anything about anything that matters. That isn't what the Bible says.
And music is supposed to grab your soul and not let go. When is the last time a Jesus record did that to you? Babyface may be a fornicating pervert, but he knows how to make songs you remember. A great song forces you to reckon with it; it alters the sonic world you live in. Audrey Assad alters my sonic world.
There's no point in talking about individual tracks; we're talking about an entire album that's going to change popular music, not just Christian music. I'm not a critic, and I'm certainly not an expert. But this is nuts. Think about the Weezer debut, or "August And Everything After," or "Thriller." That's how great it is.
I hear every great songwriter I know when I listen. And vocally, there's a purity and perfection you get from people like Celine Dion and Whitney Houston, not singer-songwriters. Like I said, I've not heard an album this good in a very long time.

Monday, May 07, 2012

What do I think of Audrey Assad? Well, if John Mayer played the piano, had a voice to die for, and went to Mass, (and was a pretty girl) he'd be Audrey Assad. Which is to say, she's mind-blowingly awesome. Don't even doubt it. Wow.
I told you the Carpenters were fantastic. Audrey listened to them and James Taylor as a kid, among others. She doesn't sound like them, but she has good taste.
I tend to say exactly what I think. I admit it's not always wise. I try hard not to speak in anger, because when you speak from anger, you're more motivated to hurt than to tell the truth in love. I digress. I took a big risk today, although it was less than direct. I hope I've built up enough trust here; I'm just not good at denial. It wasn't a rebuke, or anything.
Returning to the digression, sometimes the truth hurts a person anyway, and there's not a whole lot you can do. Maybe it could have been a simple matter of saying, 'I'm just not comfortable here' way sooner. Because you'd rather be the one to say you've hit the limit of your abilities as a friend than them. One is liable to be pretty hurt and take it all very personally if that happens. Not that I would know.
It was an interesting weekend. I stayed with my 'brother' Evan and his wife Stacey. Stacey's sister threw a party for Cinco de Mayo, and it was awesome. We should have known that a horse named, "Thanks, I'll Have Another"--ridden by a Mexican--would win the Kentucky Derby on Cinco de Mayo, no? As a man who always has the radar operating, (let the reader understand) I can tell you that aside from our host, there were 2 ladies I would not have minded spending a great deal of time with. The first, we'll call her 'Laurie,' definitely didn't get left out of the sale at the Beauty Store. Ahem. But she has a boyfriend in another state, and she hates U2. That's like 8 strikes. She didn't strike me as my type, whatever that means.
Well, the other, she doesn't get a name. We're already friends, whatever that means. I talked to her all night. Of course I did. She chatted people up, I'd like to think, so it didn't look like she was only talking to me. Well, she's also kind. [She could be reading this, idiot.--ed.] I don't care. Tim said essentially, "What are you waiting for, moron?" I don't know. I'm scared, duh.
Evan actually asked me about it the next morning. He only met her that one time. I'm not sure what that says, except that I'm blatantly obvious, and my brother knows me. I talked to 'Tbone' later that day, too. He wanted to tease me about worrying that I offended him, because a comment of mine was deleted from his blog. I needn't have worried, but then again, you never know how much leeway you really have.
Evan and Stacey taught me that card game, Magic: The Gathering. On the one hand, I'm free enough that I don't worry that someone or something is occultic by the mere mention of wizards and monsters. On the other hand, people who are really into the story behind the game might be in danger. I really should ask Bishop Herman about this. I don't want to be a stick in the mud, but I don't want to be possessed by demons, either.