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Showing posts from March 29, 2020

We Trust In Your Goodness...

Prayer is a wild thing, when it is real. I just prayed the craziest thing. I asked for some things, and then I said, "We trust in your goodness, even if we die." It's true, isn't it? I won't lie to you and say I'm fruitfully reflecting on my eventual death at every moment. But indeed, faith in Christ and in the resurrection of all of us from the dead means that death is not the end. This is exactly why St. Paul boasts and sings, "O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?" It doesn't erase the human experience of loss and its pain, but we do not grieve as those with no hope. And the substance of hope is exactly this: to move forward, in the reality of God's goodness. God is trustworthy. In simplicity, this is living faith distilled. I've been saying "we" a lot in prayer lately. I suppose that if we really do have "mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won," I never am praying alone. I&#

"Star Trek: Picard" And Me

Everyone knows I am a Trekkie. I may not even be a good one, given the fact that I haven't even seen Voyager and Deep Space 9 all the way through. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, that will begin to show you just how deep and abiding the Star Trek canon now is, as it is being added to as we speak. Star Trek would not have endured, if not for the success of Star Trek: The Next Generation. "TNG," as it is lovingly abbreviated, allowed the Trek family to finish the feature films involving the original Star Trek cast with some coherence, and a tie to the present, which was being made by TNG. I digress. One of the more inspired casting choices back then had to be Sir Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard. Stewart is and was a Shakespearean actor, but not unknown to science fiction fans as Gurney Halleck in the film adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel, "Dune". I myself have also enjoyed in recent months his cameo turn as the Russian spy


I keep seeing the first ten minutes of a documentary about the 1995 Chicago heat wave that killed 739 vulnerable and poor people in 5 days. In light of the current moment, I'm having some thoughts. Let me get the caveats out of the way first. I know that politics is often a choosing between two or more less than ideal scenarios. I know that people of goodwill can legitimately disagree about the best way to reach an agreed upon end. The thing is, I'm hearing a voice again, and it sounds an awful lot like Dr. Bryan Cross, my friend and a professor of philosophy at Mount Mercy University. The voice is a little more direct than Dr. Cross tends to be in most arguments, but it's saying, "Who would you have to tax, and how much, to provide every poor person in Chicago with at least a window unit for air-conditioning at no cost to them?" You could say that death comes for us all, and that some people in Chicago would not have been able to escape heat related death that

Why Liberalism Failed (Deneen) Preface (III)

Deneen begins by telling the reader that this book was finished three weeks before the US presidential election in 2016. He goes on to say that its main theses matured over the last decade or more, and in light of recent events like Brexit, and the election of Donald J. Trump, he may have written a different book indeed. Still, Deneen thinks that his main contentions shed light on current events, and that current events vindicate those contentions much faster than he would have anticipated. Deneen argues that liberalism undermines culture and the mores which instruct people in their obligations to one another, and to God in the virtuous life. Meanwhile, the ravages of individualism and capitalism demand an ever-active state to redress its injustices. This cycle repeats and escalates. Politics then becomes the arena for the venting of rage, rather than the considered deliberations of virtuous people in pursuit of a common good. He believes that the current widespread yearning for an i

Able-Bodied People Are Smart, Too

This is what clueless people don't realize. Yeah, a confident person with a physical disability says, "I guess I'll get a 'brain' job," but yeah, it's not as easy as it sounds. We're still competing with all of you. I will literally punch the next person who calls me any form of "lazy," because you have no clue. Not only do I have to convince people that I'm not an idiot, or mentally challenged in some way--not that we're doing well treating them with dignity, either--but I'm human, too. I get scared of taking a risk for the big job, etc. And that doesn't even count the discrimination of physical barriers. If I'm a little cantankerous--even arrogant at times--in arguments, just know that I have a generation's worth of being ignored, pushed aside, or being patted on the head. It's a work of grace not to resent the lot of you, most of the time.

Why Liberalism Failed (Deneen) Foreword By Hunter and Owen (II)

It is interesting that the authors of this foreword call Deneen's critique "radical". I don't think they intend to say necessarily that it inspires passionate reactions--though it does--but that it goes to the root of unexamined assumptions about our political and socioeconomic system. The authors note that people of various ideological positions will find things to cheer, and to lament, in Deneen's work. We should resist the temptation to categorize the book in the terms of which we are all familiar, if we have participated in the political process at some point. I do dare to say that Deneen aims to conserve something, or even more radically, to rebuild something that has been lost. Well, if nothing else Professor, you've earned a positive blurb on the back from President Obama. One interesting question I have that won't leave me is this: is it possible to re-establish the very foundations of a society without destroying all that we know?

Why Liberalism Failed, By Patrick J. Deneen, Introductory Comments And Prologue (I)

I had the occasion to meet Professor Deneen at a recent conference, and to hear him speak twice. His essays in the collection, "Conserving America?…" are provocative, to say the least. This is the second book of Prof. Deneen's that I have reviewed. I think it fair to say that Why Liberalism Failed is a distillation of the professor's thoughts over a couple of decades now. It is interesting to me that the most contentious reaction to Deneen's thesis come not from the Left, but from self-described conservatives. In a certain way, though intellectuals are intellectuals, able to understand highly complex and nuanced arguments, perhaps those of us who find much value in Deneen's critique underestimate his thesis in its capacity to be an assault on patriotism itself. The good professor does not intend to attack the virtue of patriotism, but indeed it goes a long way to proving his thesis, that attacking liberalism is perceived as an attack on our country. For my

Reality? Let’s Talk About Reality

I just saw a magazine headline: “Reality Has Endorsed Bernie Sanders.” I don’t like when people de-personalize their preferences. Moreover, I admire Bernie in many respects, but I don’t like that there is this idea that OBVIOUSLY the good people support Sanders and his whole program. Politics is the art of the possible, isn’t it? Setting a vision and inspiring others is one thing; governing is another. Biden will be the most progressive party nominee in history, despite the chatter that he’s some Manchurian crypto-Republican. Aside from all that, in any sane world, the Democrats would pay a dear price for their abortion and sexual radicalism. Then again, their opponents wouldn’t be a bunch of nationalist, fascist Know-Nothings, in any sane world. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!