Saturday, February 15, 2014

5 Thoughts For Today

5. It's all relative, until you get punched in the face.

4. I wouldn't sign any bills criminalizing homosexuality. That doesn't mean I think it's a good thing. But the  people who use the useless phrase, "gay people" to normalize homosexual practices are not unlike the people who can't distinguish between a temptation and a sin in their own theology on the other side of the question.

3. You can't simultaneously say, "I'm so much more than my gayness" and "It's who I am, it's not a choice." The gay activists are winning the culture war, so to speak, because they're using the prospect of violence against persons (which no one of good will advocates or supports) to equivocate on the term, "acceptance."

2. Are we ever going to have a frank discussion about the high incidence of sexual abuse among those who self-indentify as "gay"?

1. Then again, when have we had a frank national discussion about anything?

Friday, February 14, 2014

5 Thoughts For The Day

5. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

4. If it is broke, fix it.

3. If you can't fix it, get help.

2. If you don't want to get help, you can't whine that it's broken.

1. If there is no God, there is no morality. Why? Because every human thing is therefore subject to the charge of self-interest and arbitrariness, ad infinitum. This is why it's actually a short trip from the supposition of ecclesial fallibility to pure atheism. It's a little amusing to hear the atheists of the day proclaiming a "kinder, gentler" atheism, as if it matters. What do the words mean, ultimately, if there is no origin, no reference point from which the term derives its meaning? I could easily find fault with any group's definition, and so it goes. You may suppose to have done justly, but I may believe you have not. Even if terms are defined by mutual agreement, this is tenuous. Consent is soft ground for the noblest ideals. I see the will to power as the unavoidable end of the notion that particular things and instances have no real relation to universal concepts. And existentialism is cold comfort for those who harbor desires beyond description or fashioning. It's little wonder that so many ended their lives; it is the only reasonable choice, if this life is all there is, so obviously full of suffering it is. Once the charm of fleeting pleasure fades, not much remains. I admit, this is blindingly obvious to me. I'm not a theist from a fearful weakness, but from a considered strength. I frankly suggest that if these thoughts have not occurred, one does not think clearly enough.

The Worst Evil

If you listen closely to the arguments of our modern/post-modern "enlightened" society, you may hear a lot of talk of "dignity." "Death with dignity." That the good life should be free of hardship. "This baby won't have the kind of life she deserves." Let's think it through, shall we? Camera 3.

[Turns] You're saying that the worst of all possible evils is pain and suffering. Strip it down, that's what you're saying. But this is wrong. To suffer, and to suffer well, is to hold a mirror to injustice, to make the evildoer look upon the innocence that he transgresses, to ask him if he can continue it. We'll come back to this.

No, the greatest evil is not suffering, but death itself. To die, never to live again. Even worse, to live a life unworthy of goodness, unworthy of a human being. There is good done in this world. We know it: The man who carries groceries for an elderly neighbor. The Army squad leader who falls on a grenade to save his comrades. We know it, and all the obfuscation and chatter that the meanings are arbitrary can't hide it from our hearts.

Largely, we still have a sense of evil, on a grand scale. Hitler was evil. Stalin. Too many others to name, even while quiet genocides happen right before our eyes with hardly a word of protest.

I'm going to ask you this: Could it be that acts of great love and great evil, that so easily stir us at their mere mention or recounting, be simply the footnotes to lives that begin and end in a short breath of time, and are no more? What does kindness or cruelty matter, if we are dust, and there is no one to keep the ledger? Our forefathers surely would laugh at our moral outrage at their many sins, if indeed there is no God. We will be as dead as they in time, and no one will come to our defense.

No, the greatest evil is to live unworthily, to live for oneself, to live in evil. And to never seek pardon from Him who holds life and death in His hands. Even to live well, but without Him, is to be praised by dust, who will fall silent themselves.

But He does keep a ledger; He does know. And when He judges, He will judge justly, for God shows no partiality. Christ Jesus died, taking death on Himself, our sins which carry the sentence of eternal death and suffering. When He rose,--this is the meaning--Love is greater than death. It endures. Mercy triumphs over justice. But mercy is not given where it is not sought.

No, the greatest indignity against any and every man is Death. But the reward for the life truly well-lived is given by the just Judge: eternal life, and the resurrection of the body from the dead.

Blessed By The Deb

I thought I'd continue the friendship series here. I'm on a good roll. I know that some of you who read these might struggle with affirmation, and I sympathize, but your good is more important than your comfort.

Deborah Allinder Lee is really funny. She's industrious, resourceful, talented, and a thousand other things. The truth is, though, in some ways, those are on the surface. Those are the things that make us who know her laugh, or give thanks. The deeper things are worth noting, too.

She makes others feel safe. She understands what it means not to be whole in some way, and she lets you have the space to be a mess. I might say she could stand to give the same break to herself. But her cross is--like for any of us--her way of peace.

I can honestly say that I see myself in a clearer way because of her. The lies that others have told me, and that I have told myself, are nothing next to her unconditional love. That is grace in a person's life, and it has spilled into mine.

I am thankful today, and every day, for my friend Deborah.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

5 More Thoughts For Today

5.Taxation may, in any one case, range from unnecessary, to objectively harmful and unjust. But it is not per se theft. To argue this renders all the purposes for which any tax may be collected illicit, and any such concession to it merely one of acquiescence to superior force.

4. The very reason to discuss limited government is to outline the terms under which the limitation of individual freedom is just, necessary, and prudent, and when it is not.

3. We cannot call ourselves "pro-life," attempting to recover the dignity of the human person, and remain silent about the many forms and instances of sexual violence. Rape can never be justified, and it is never a just penalty or the natural consequence of other crimes.

2. Therefore, we cannot stay silent about those things which especially incline young men to believe that they are entitled to sexual pleasure at any time, at any cost, but without cost to themselves.

1. My opposition to the death penalty arises directly out of the conviction of the unassailable dignity of the human person. All the rights of due process, and all other rights protected in law, are but articulations and recognitions of this dignity. As such, we cannot allow fundamental and systematic usurpations of this dignity to take place, even against those who disregarded the fundamental God-given dignity of others.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I seriously want to know why people whose very purpose is to limit what counts as true knowledge and true science by way of highly questionable philosophical assumptions (or at least unacknowledged ones) get to call themselves "rational" or "enlightened".

4. Just save us time, and admit to being a materialist and a utilitarian. That way, when we wake up in a Stalinist paradise, I can say, "I told you so." If I'm not dead.

3. Abortion and homosexual acts are both grave offenses against the dignity of the human person, and thus, against God, who made us, and took on our human nature to redeem us. They are by no means the only ones, but they are real, and this needs to be said clearly.

2. Is the yet-born fetus a person? The whole abortion issue turns on this question, and this alone. Consequently, there can be no "exceptions" to a prohibition on abortion, if we are to answer in the affirmative. If we answer in the negative, then abortion is not "tragic," except as a rhetorical ploy. Therefore, it is inconsistent to work for limits on abortion, if one has answered in the negative to the central question. May I suggest that those who have answered in the negative, and yet still speak of the tragic nature of this practice suffer the pangs of conscience. I am in no way attempting to take away anyone's freedom or choice; I suggest rather that this choice to take away a life that belongs to someone else (and an innocent someone, at that) cannot be licitly granted, not by individuals, and not by governments.

1. Have a great day.

My BFF, Lindsay Michelle Stocker

I'm not really sure how it came about, but that's how friends go. But I can remember when Lindsay and another friend said they were going to start a JK Fan Club. As if I needed one of those! But some way, God in His mercy has given me this great friend. She listens to me, even when it's hard. She never judges me, no matter what I say. We haven't had a friend fight yet, and I'm not looking forward to it. But I know it will be OK when it does.

I'm telling you all this because it's my blog; I can say whatever I want. And if you need a marketing consultant, Lindsay is definitely the person you need. The real reason Lindsay is such an amazing friend is that she builds people up; she gives people confidence when maybe they didn't have it before.

Today, and every day, I am thankful for my friend Lindsay.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Greatest

Boxing is probably my second favorite sport, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that my favorite fighter is Muhammad Ali. Rarely has such a skill set been seen among heavyweights, if ever. And he came to us in the TV age, at the height of American post-war decadence, on the eve of our times of turmoil. He was in many ways the first sports superstar in the way we know it today: ubiquitous, a topic of conversation.

Sports matters precisely where it intersects with life lived, which perhaps tells us nothing. Yet if it does, Ali certainly did that. You can read all over that he was polarizing, and I guess that's so. The liberal consensus of the time says that he got a raw deal in '67, and he did. That same consensus gives blacks a free pass on some of the extremism and hatred of the Nation Of Islam, because, after all, (or so the thinking goes) White America gave them a full measure of it, beginning from the time we landed until now. This is mostly true. Don't think for a second that Ali would get that free pass if he were not a sportsman, who entertained millions. But in popular culture, we like our icons monochromatic, whether heroes or villains.

And that's exactly what he is, an icon. More than a man, but not a god. I suppose I'm as guilty as any; I like his phrases, his bombast, his athleticism. I'd like to think I'd like him, but I can't back that up. There are detractors lurking about, whose opinions are as real as they are unconsulted. I am moved to pray for Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. (With all due respect, I don't think God calls him 'Muhammad') that this colorful life does not end in eternal death, and the fire of Hell. That sounds harsh, I guess, but we all must seek mercy, not presume upon it. May we find it, and with our friend, triumphantly shout, "I am the king of the world!" in the presence of our Father.

That They May Be One

“Not to spoil the party but we do have the ecumenical creeds. The Apostles' and Nicene creeds exist as essentially definitions of what it means to be a Christian. That's why many of us recite them every week-- to reaffirm our identity and to reaffirm our unity with all other Christians who confess this faith.”

Not to spoil the party, but no, we don’t. The ecumenical creeds were given in a context, and if we should say that we agree with them, we are saying we agree with the context in which they were given, and on the terms with which the men who composed them proposed them. The very fact that I am Catholic, and the person who said this is not, is all the proof I need for what I have just said. The meaning of the creeds is itself in dispute between us. If this is not acknowledged, there is significant risk of false ecumenism, of which there is far too much in these days. I suppose it is a forgivable conceit, depending on when and why the person holds it, but this creedal minimalism is indeed a conceit, and one in fact that doesn’t work.

Moral Imperative And Cultural Narrative

So there's this. In some sense, the two American political impulses are locked in a perpetual unwinnable death-match, the reforming impulse and the conserving impulse. The extreme of Conservative America always builds monuments to itself in the past; the extreme of Liberal America denigrates the past to celebrate itself in the present. One sells the idolatry of "progress," while the other sells the idolatry of nostalgia.

I have never minded these "liberal" films; I only mind when it is pretended that the imperfect narrative is itself a lie. Progressivism run amok is bitter and destructive; these people mistake cynicism for courage. Isn't the story of the Scriptures the story of a highly imperfect people under the loving tutelage of a holy God? Their imperfection does not invalidate the fact that they are His. Indeed, recognizing a need for growth does not require denouncing one's very existence.

On the other hand, there is nothing truly conservative about revising the past to make it pristine. It wasn't, and it will never be. That's why we call them ideals: they're not high enough if we don't fail them. Isn't it rather a heroic thing, to say, "This is America, the greatest nation mankind has ever known, and this injustice is not worthy of America"? Are you sure that's a liberal impulse? What good are we, if we pick the wrong things to conserve?

On the other hand, the progressive often picks the cause of the moment to be The Gravest Injustice Ever. I know that failing to allow persons of the same sex to "marry" is not going to be a black mark against the nation. In fact, the opposite is the case. I do believe we will be called to account for how our selfishness, played out in sexual "liberation," has damaged our children, our families, and all families. I digress.

Isn't it true that a person from a dominant culture who learns of injustices committed in his name from another, who appreciates the other in ways he was not prepared to acknowledge, actually testifying to the universality of values? To the objectivity of morality? I ask you, what is more conservative than that?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I Have No Credibility On This Issue

I have utterly no standing to complain about the crass commercialization of St. Valentine's Day, since I literally bought into it. Ahem. If I say any more...well, you know. I would say I'm impulsive, but I'm not. Direct? Indeed. Unabashedly prodigal in my expressions of appreciation? Yes.

I can still remember Valentine's Day, 2002. It's not my fault I have a thing for words, and beautiful women. I wrote a poem. It was a bad poem, but a poem, nonetheless. Money doesn't grow on trees, you know. But words well up in our hearts.

I'm no longer as young as I used to be, but The Game is still the same. Let her know that the world is a dreary place without her, and see if she thinks the same of you, maybe enough to spent a solid 50 or 60 years talking it over.

Even when you "win," gentlemen, The Game never ends. Why would I want the sexual conquest of many women, when the mystery of one is enough to occupy a man for his whole life? Tell me that, world. Tell me why the pursuit of my own pleasure leaves me empty, and yet, you insist on continuing to try selling it to me?

The Game calls me ever higher, to a plane even higher than itself, to The Other, who holds us both in being. He is the fullness of all we seek; every joy, every pleasure of this life is but a pale echo of being in Him. True, but a truth that hangs, abiding in Someone else.

Don't Judge Me

I'm deeply sympathetic to this: "If Ken Ham is getting rich telling things he knows to be false, he's a shameless fraud. But the bulk of creation's fundamentalists are deeply sincere. And, better than that, they are willing to be, in St. Paul's words "fools for Christ's sake." They do not live for the world's esteem. And so when the world next discovers a sophisticated ideology to get around "Thou shall not murder," I'd rather have one cussed fundie next to me than the whole army of eye-rolling Christians lining up to denounce him."

In case anybody cares, this sentiment is the main motive I had for "criticizing" Christ and Pop Culture awhile back. There's currency right now in not being "those Christians." But with Sola Scriptura and the loss of the dogmatic principle, it is significantly dangerous for Christians in Protestant communities right now. Most changes are subtle enough that most people still can be convinced that they are "faithful" or "conservative." With respect to what? According to whom? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

You Don't Have To Be Confused

5. Grace builds upon nature, but does not destroy it. This is why the Christian is not afraid of conclusions from the natural sciences.

4. On the other hand, if the work of empirical or other sciences is understood to rest upon naturalistic metaphysics, that line of philosophical reasoning must be rejected.

3.The Magisterium is the guardian of all knowledge, because, whether natural or supernatural, it belongs to revelation.

2. Your IQ test is broken.

1. Oops, I did it again.