Friday, March 22, 2013

Preach It, James!

5 Spiritual Nuggets Of Wisdom From British Soul Singer James Morrison

5. "This is precious love, precious love/No, I can't get enough."

4. "Like holy water/Washin' over me/You make it real for me."

3. "You always give me somewhere/Somewhere I can run."

2. "If you're here with me/I know which way to turn."

1. "If your sky is fallin'/Just take my hand and hold it/You don't have to be alone, alone/Yeah, I won't let you go."

There is more than a haphazard connection between God's covenant love for His people, and marital and sexual intimacy. Paging St. Paul! (Ephesians 5:25-27) So if we want to raise a fuss about liturgy because a certain form does not conform to the rubrics in Vatican II, or that it clouds the purpose for which we have come (musically or otherwise), I'm cool with that, to a point. But let's seriously not say we shouldn't do it a certain way because it's "emotional" or "sappy." Whatever that means. You can also say that emotions get in the way of knowing God, and therefore, truly loving Him, and that could be true. But I think some people are just afraid of feelings. They are secretly envious of expressive, emotional people, and so they attack them.

On the other hand, less emotional people have good ways to demonstrate their love for God and others. These people are the ones who just hand you what you need right when you need it. They organize things behind the scenes to make you look good. I have a college buddy like that. Adam Baer is his name. It'd have gone thankless, but for the fact that he was always there, doing Adam things. Sooner or later, you notice, even if he doesn't want you to. I know like 30 people who can tell that same story.

So challenge yourself: Are you disdainful of some spiritual activity because of a fear of intimacy with God? Do you criticize something or someone because you are jealous of his or her temperament, or--gasp!--the truth that they may be holier than you? Tell you what: I'll certainly be careful next time I criticize a song because it sounds like an ode to a girlfriend or boyfriend. Just sayin.'

Thursday, March 21, 2013

We're Dancing

5 NCAA Tournament Thoughts

5. Am I a bad alumnus to pick Mizzou to lose next round?

4. No matter their struggles, look out for any team coached by Tom Izzo. (Michigan State)

3. Have you noticed? Butler and Gonzaga are expected to win now. The only thing between "mid-major" schools and the big boys is a couple of deep tournament runs.

2. Good guard play. [Drops mic, leaves]

1. On the women's side, the great shadow of Pat Summitt hangs over everything. God, bless the greatest basketball coach I ever saw. Amen.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Looking In Your Direction, Mark Shea I think this:
"[W]hen it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality.
This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects [no. 73]."

Read more: could easily apply to Paul Ryan's abortion position (and "compromise") as a candidate in 2012. We're waiting for your apology to Ryan and his supporters. Yes, I'm serious.

I Am What I Am, But...

Especially with regard to political opinions, I am not especially known for speaking temperately. I'm not ashamed to call myself an ideologue, but I will steadfastly protest the notion that I am reflexively partisan, or noxiously so. To me, the only thing worse than a person who believes that his opponents have nothing interesting to say, is another type of person who lacks the energy and enthusiasm to debate and dialogue, and instead says, "Can't we all just get along?" Have I ever lost my cool in a discussion? Of course I have. But I come with the fundamental conviction that whoever I'm talking to is telling me the truth about what he believes, and I also believe that we share some common core of values or convictions that could form the basis of some agreement, even if we actualize that in very different ways. What frustrates people like me in politics is when a particular opinion or policy choice that differs from someone else's is used as a reason to dismiss me or others as backward, evil, uncaring, or otherwise inhuman. Read that sentence again. Everyone in the general nebula or sphere of my political opinions knows what I meant by that. I shouldn't have to prove my good intent to you in order to be heard. Not if our politics is a conversation, as we often claim it is. Even if it is undeniably true that this national "conversation" is tense and always involves the highest of stakes, we absolutely owe it to each other to listen and assume good faith. If you want the truth about it, I'm a conservative broadly speaking because I listened, and because I did not assume that my good intent determined the rightness of my policy choices. In fact, the only way that we escape the harsh light of reality--which in politics comprises not only intents but outcomes--is to assume bad faith on the part of those who oppose us.
Forgive me; this was not meant to be a political post. In fact, I still intend it to be about something else. Our government and its doings has such a pervasive influence on the daily lives of people that theology cannot responsibly be done without some reference to the civic life of the nation. Also, Christians of all stripes have been taught from time immemorial that they have a cultural mandate to reclaim the earth including this nation for the cause of Christ. Whether this means that the church, variously conceived, will wield some temporal power is unimportant. What is important to recognize is that a spiritual motivation, or at least the appearance of one, does not release one from the obligation to listen, bargain, and compromise, when necessary and appropriate. In the United States, however, we have a political apparatus that is so large and becoming so unresponsive to the needs of the people that listening on the part of the elected class is no longer even necessary. As citizens, we have become so fragmented in our daily lives, filled as they are with numerous distractions and amusements, that they begin to form ever more isolated subcultural systems. And our political life has become nothing more than an aspect of one of these subcultural systems. One could reasonably argue that our parties themselves have become isolated subcultural systems. Whether that is true or not is not germane to the problem: they are not interacting. We are not interacting. There is no sense that when the contest is over, something has been achieved which will benefit all people. We don't seem to care as a whole whether that benefit to the whole can be measured in an appreciable way. We respond to the minimal awareness that some frustration is being expressed by some group or another by asserting that they have some base motive that is obviously apparent to all "right-thinking people."
 We do not need civility in American political culture, or at least we do not need another unheeded call for it. Rather, we need to rebuild the foundations for our political discussion. We need to spend some time defining the common core of what binds us as a nation, and no longer take for granted that we know what it is. Only then can we move forward. But, quite frankly, we ought not move forward until we do have such a discussion.

Derek Rishmawy Is Awesome

I went through my daily ritual of seeing what Alan Noble and the other fine folks at Christ and Pop Culture have written. I'm not kidding, I love it. I love it even when they annoy me with their Protestantism (granted, easy to do) and their politics, although if you figure out what it is, let me know. I'd describe it as "annoyingly moderate," but I repeat myself. Anyway, this Derek Rishmawy dude is worth reading all the time. I think I stopped by his blog once and thought, "Whoa, he's way smarter than me." I hate it when that happens, but it happens a lot. I digress.

Derek wrote a piece about Rob "Love Wins" Bell and his new book. I mean, it's clear to me that he's not commending the book to his core team, but goodness, I hope if I ever write dangerous books advocating universalism and complete capitulation to prevailing cultural opinion, I get "savaged" like this. Ahem. [You're too passionate and volatile to write like that.--ed.] That's what I was thinking. Anyway, good job, Derek.

I should say that if you wanted to keep me away from Rob Bell, you failed. It's probably time to read him (with caution). Probably the openness driven by the command to take every thought captive is wasted by your own leaky ecclesiology. What good is a divine truth with no universality? And so, for the 4997th time, the Church must be fundamentally visible. Nothing personal, but you produced Rob Bell; now you must deal with him. He's the inevitable Agent Smith of your Matrix produced by Sola Scriptura. It'd be just gloating, or sound like it, but for the fact that our imperfect communion with each other was formed and sustained by the charisms given to the Catholic Church. That's the only reason why I would even dare such a provincial-sounding comment. Then again, how provincial is a Church with 1.2 billion members? I digress again.

I can recall Feuerbach back in Catholic Theological Tradition class, in the context of the breakdown of the relationship between the universal, the particular, and what we name things. Essentially, it was a nominalism discussion. Someone fill me in.

From this semi-educated Catholic perspective, it sounds like Bell has lost his source of revelation, or if there is one, it doesn't have the power to alter the intellectual journey in his own mind. The journey from winsome, non-confessional, emergent Christian to full-blown existentialist who makes use of Christian symbols to decorate his journey of self-discovery is not a long one. Sooner or later, you have to stop listening, and start talking. But the Christian only speaks what he has heard, and by definition, he trusts the one from whom he heard it, that is, God. Which circles us back to ecclesiology, whether we like it or not. Just my two cents.

I Need To Say This Again

Awhile back, I wrote this. I still think it. I'm a far cry from a peacenik spitter, but you'd think we all were, the way some people react when you bring this up. We have not been a nation characterized by peace in my entire lifetime, and the brief calm before the storms of war is not peace. Peace is a steadfast resolution to avoid military intervention in all but the most extreme circumstances, and a principled articulation of the terms of international cooperation, and the explicit terms under which the normal state of comity will be breached. Does anyone know? And are we really going to say that to demand this is beyond the pale, because Pvt. Johnny from down the street is a helluva guy?

And again, I'm not saying he's not. I'm just saying the personal bravery, patriotism, and selflessness of our personnel has very little to do with the moral correctness or the prudence of the political decision to send them into the theaters where that fortitude is displayed. It's high time someone said that America is teetering on the edge of fascism. And for what? Because some over-educated egghead college kid whose politics we don't like said we're the aggressors? His collectivist sympathies aside, are you sure he was wrong? And to prove he's wrong, let's invade the world!

Do you remember the last time "just war" wasn't a funny joke? Can you think of an international crisis the United States wasn't involved in militarily? Have you ever heard a person in your lifetime say, "I'm glad we didn't intervene"? Or if he did, do you still talk to him?

They say the people are cynical about the political process. Well, I'd be cynical too, if all the presidents in recent memory launched illegal, or immoral wars (or both), and the only reaction was to ask what this will mean for the partisan balance of power, while Congress cowers in fear. Does it matter? Will it bring back the people who are dead? Was it worth it? Did you seriously give thought to answering "no"? Better yet, did you feel like it was safe, American, and patriotic to answer "no"?

I'm the furthest thing from a leftist I can think of. I love America as much as anyone you care to name. Let me be blunt: Do you recognize her anymore? Does it make me a Quaker or communist to say that I don't? What if George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy--at least on this--were right all along? I'm just asking.

Frankly, if this end causes you to dismiss me as an emotional weakling and coward, so be it. I yearn for peace. I am having a hard time participating in Mass as a brother of the Prince of Peace--and an American--while American bombs fall seemingly without end. And no one knows why.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

That's What I Said

5 Thoughts For Today

5. To quote the great American philosopher MC Hammer, "We need to pray just to make it today."

4. Dear Blogger, I hate that you are now spell-checking me as I type. Don't suck the fun out of JK being JK.

3. I will finish this paper today.

2. No, seriously.

1. When Henry Rollins starts making sense, our culture really is in the toilet. (No offense, Henry.) Rape is rape, but we do need to have lots of conversations about causes. We really do. Just sayin'.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I've Added A New Read

I have a "virtual" friend; her name is Nicole. I'm not sure even how we are connected. If I should know, I don't remember. I blame Confirmation Sponsor Guy, and his merry band of...whatever they are. And I blame another friend, whom I shall christen "Lake McWheels," and trust he is not offended. Catholics find each other, and we don't even care how random it is. I digress.

What I mean to say is that Nicole here is a wise lady, and a darn good writer. God must be at work, and Mrs. DeMille must be pretty close to Him, (or at least on the way) because I'm pretty sure I'd not be handling her crosses as well as she does. That will embarrass her, and she will deny it. I say, "Humor me, lady. They tell me they're glad I get out at all." Sidebar: I usually take that stuff in stride, but I sense that some people aren't just uncomfortable; they don't respect me, and this is a way to do that while appearing kind. Moving on.

Well, sort of. That's probably the worst thing that anyone could say, (that they don't respect me) if someone did in fact say it. I am the king of destroying myself for a few laughs. It's not even a huge deal, because gentle mockery expresses fondness, and my friends know this. I am both vulnerable, and very proud. Anything that approaches humility in me was imposed from outside. That's the truth. I am glad I don't know what people think about me, unless they tell me. It would probably destroy me, like it would for most of us.

I take it back: Not everyone's bad opinion matters; just people whose opinion I respect. I'd rather you kill me than tell me this. Those wounds are the worst. I lose respect for myself from time to time, and that's good, because I come to God for my meaning and true worth, not to mention rebuilding, as it were. But D^%*, lose a true friend, lose respect, maybe never get it back, and then you can tell me how hard life is. Rant over. My apologies.

Lord Jesus, I give You my anger, sadness, and true sorrow over this old hurt, which You know. You know that I desire to forgive and be forgiven. One day, it will come. Until then, give me some small measure of peace. Amen.

Anyway, I'm proud to add Nicole's blog to those which you may peruse when you realize that this blog sucks. [Can a Catholic who aspires to sainthood say, "sucks"?--ed.] I don't know. Can a Christian who knows he should be Catholic and refuses to do it count on God's mercy? [You just watch it, buddy.--ed.] Just sayin'. Time to decide. It's actually the question of the century: "What is the Church, and am I in it?" And for the record, I'm not an apologist. I'm a snark-pologist. CtC wants to think you into the Church, and love you in. I am not that guy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Baseball: It's What's For Dinner

My fantasy team looks like this:

Starting Pitchers:

Adam Wainwright
David Price
Roy Halladay
R.A. Dickey
Tim Hudson
Shelby Miller


Mariano Rivera
Fernando Rodney
Rafael Soriano
Jim Johnson


C: Joe Mauer
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Aaron Hill
3B: Kevin Youkilis
SS: Derek Jeter
2B/SS: Neil Walker
1B/3B: Adam Laroche
OF: Jason Kubel
OF: Chris Davis
OF: Corey Hart
OF: Garrett Jones
OF: Ryan Ludwick


Adam Dunn (1B)
A. J. Pierzynski (C) [Joe Mauer insurance]
Tyler Colvin (OF)

I think I can win with these guys. I always draft starting pitchers very early; you'd think they would try to stop me. I also picked the closers early, to make sure I got who I wanted. The outfield suffered the cost of this, but again, I think I can get enough out of them. There are injury/age concerns all over, but "Jason Wins!" upside.