Thursday, June 13, 2019

Storybook (And I Called It)

Well, not the Stanley Cup. But there's a nun I see at Mass sometimes, and she LOVES St. Louis sports. She asked me in January--when we were the worst team, or near to it--if I thought they'd make the playoffs. "Yes," I replied, matter-of-factly. I think I caught her by surprise, and the way she responded let me know she was wondering if I was nuts.

But for me, watching sports is a mixture of faith, and a keen eye for talent. I had watched a couple games in November and December, and thought, These guys are really good. Most people just see results and scores, and that's not wrong. Eventually, to be a winning team, you have to win. But winners also are the people who do the right things when it doesn't matter, or doesn't seem to.

What I noticed right away is that these guys did their best to cover for each other's mistakes. They used most of their energy helping each other. The forwards came back to help the defense; the defense came forward to help the forwards. They'd rather block a shot, than have the goalie have to stop it. It doesn't matter how great your goalie is; the fewer shots he has to stop, the better.

They knew where each other were on the ice; they skated in concert, like a savage ballet. They are not the most individually skilled players. That may fall to players from Boston, Dallas, or San Jose. But together as units, I've rarely seen things like them.

And then, there's Jordan Binnington. In the early days of his rise, it seemed like he was a good luck charm. Then when I watched him closely, I saw it: He's the second coming of Curtis Joseph. (Joseph is a Hall of Fame goalie who played for the Blues in the '90s.) Curtis never won the Cup, but he got close. And we loved him. He made the miraculous look routine, and shrugged, as if it was supposed to happen. Sound familiar?

And then came the playoffs. They were underdogs every single round. Slowly, systematically, they ground each team down. They hit them into oblivion. Hockey is becoming a finesse game, and the Blues turned that on its head.

I believe there will be a movie. The actual story writes itself: being the worst team in the league, hearing "Gloria" in that bar, GM Doug Armstrong deciding to stick with this group, instead of trading the stars, hiring Craig Berube, unheralded coach cast off from other teams, and the rise of Binnington.

I guess the only thing to do now is to play "Gloria."

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

“Cheating” Doesn’t Exist

If you’re dating someone, and they cheat, so to speak, it can only be a couple of things. If it’s actual sex, it’s called “fornication,”—sex between two unmarried people—and that’s a mortal sin. If it’s “fooling” around, that’s called “masturbation”—the intentional stimulation of body parts to derive sexual pleasure, with no intention of having sex—and that’s a mortal sin. Christian couples shouldn’t be doing this stuff anyway.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I was provoked by one of those internet videos, where some guy of dubious credentials lectures other guys about how to be less skeezy versions of our culture’s worst, with the earnest piano in the background. Pete’s sake, maybe all these women are anxious because we expect them to be perfect wives, with none of the permanence?

Sure, good people trying their best slip up sometimes. Seek Reconciliation, and move forward. But this culture is so far from good that we cannot even figure out why we’re unhappy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Ontology For Dummies

I'm no Bryan Cross, or Roger Scruton, or Alasdair MacIntyre, but when I see a young chicken hatching from an egg, it's not a "potential" chicken; it's a chicken. If someone plants a young sapling of a tree, it's not a "potential" tree; it's a tree. Trees and chickens are supposed to be trees and chickens. Neither one--apart from what we decide to do with them--is a cow, or a brick. There might be different developmental stages of each, and we could call them by different names at each stage, but what the thing is should not be under serious question.

We've got people out there (apparently) confused about what the thing is as it pertains to humans. A human fetus is a human person at a very early stage of development. This person is not a brick, or a tree, or a chicken. We don't become persons by exercising capacities; we are persons who exercise capacities. If we decide--as has been decided many times before, to disastrous effects--that another person has the right to decide what a "person" is, ontology becomes utility. Utility as a measure of rights is sanctioned violence and oppression.

Of course, this is about abortion, but not only that. There are myriad ways that people can be "un-personed." It happens all the time. It's just in this case, we permit it, and celebrate it. We fancy ourselves "enlightened" and "progressive," don't we?

How effective our propaganda is, too! If the dissenters can be dismissed as misogynists and haters, the exploitation of the vulnerable continues with barely a fuss. There was a man who warned us about this. Against the backdrop of #metoo, that man may say,--in a slight paraphrase of an American president and actor--"Are you better off than you were 60 years ago?" Everything he predicted came true.

Many people claim that love motivates their support for abortion rights. How are you loving the woman in your life by escorting her to a place where a mother leaves as a grieving mother? This wretched popular society likes to ignore those women, and give them every opportunity to push the grief aside, to ignore it, and then to become dead to it. Death begets death, in a cruel mockery of the life it takes.

Motherhood is thankless and hard, and in some ways, involuntary. We know this. Just ask your mom what she'd have rather been doing when she was cleaning up after you. But she did it anyway.

The rock band U2 has an old song called, "Mothers of the Disappeared" about the victims of a brutal Latin American dictatorship. Mothers are still mothers, even when their children are gone.

Mothers are still mothers, even if they didn't want to believe they were. As the reckoning at Nuremberg came for the brutality of a previous age, so also there will be a reckoning for us. All the fine parties and refined speech will be stripped away, and what we have done will be laid bare. Lord, have mercy!

Monday, June 10, 2019

All We Are

"All we are is an evolved monkey!" Or tons of similar things. While I'm at it, I don't think we should perpetrate a genocide against monkeys, either.

At the risk of being glib and reductionist myself, how many wounded children of divorce are drawn to these Dawkins-esque origin stories? How many of these guys treated their own girlfriends like trash, and so, cloak themselves in euphemisms for abortion to cover the guilt?

There was that one Fulton Sheen story on an airplane. Guy said he was a deacon in some parish, but he didn't believe, and didn't go to Mass. A bunch of hypocrites (true) believing in fairy stories. His Excellency looked at him and said, "How long have you been stealing from the collection plate?"

In a certain way, all we are is souls. Wounded souls. Why cling so tightly to something like abortion, so obviously problematic at best, even in the hardest cases? Rage at me is fine. Most times, I probably deserve it. But I'm just one pesky jerk in the sea of humanity. After you take your brave stand against me on social media, the silence and the wounds are still there, even if I'm not.