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Showing posts from 2022

Jesus's Skin Color (Again)

 Someone shut down a discussion--and potential veneration--by stating, "Jesus wasn't White." Which I could easily grant, especially for the sake of argument. But what does "White" mean? How dark would He have to be, before this Marxist-adjacent person would adore Him as God? Or at least allow the discussion to progress? Was it simply a way to invalidate all White perspectives? It seems to me that the universality of Jesus and the gospel message is a threat to certain kinds of essentialism. If there were value in say, "de-centering Whiteness," it would have to be in drawing out the richness of a cultural expression, and adding it to that which is universal. If there is therefore no access to the universals, or no relationship between the universal and the particular, then nominalism, solipsism, and relativism has won. On the other hand, part of the offense of Jesus is that he dared to take on a particular human nature, in a particular place, at a partic

Integralism's Fatal Flaw

 I'm no expert on these questions, or related issues, but as a theologian and a person wanting to understand and submit to the Catholic Church on the questions of religious liberty and conscience, I think that the Church has decided that, while a free conscience in error in questions of faith or morals isn't completely free, in light of the soul's true end, the possibility of error is preferable to compliance by compulsion. That is, assent compelled--either to the dictates of right reason, or to those of revealed truth--is itself contrary to charity. The existence of error, and the willingness to tolerate it in some sense, is not to say that truth and error are indistinguishable. Also, "Ultimate truth does not exist" is a statement expressing epistemic skepticism, and is not equivalent to, "People are free to make their own decisions and moral choices." Acknowledging the plain reality of misused freedom is not the same as endorsing freedom that has been

Waino, Yadi, Albert

 Today was the final home game for the St. Louis Cardinals. Accordingly, it was the final regular season home game for Yadier Molina, and Albert Pujols, who have both made it clear that this season is their last. As you may or may not know, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina now have the all-time MLB record for most starts as pitcher and catcher. It's possible that, given the great caution with which those players are handled, this record is completely unreachable. We will see. I do know that Wainwright is the best pitcher never to win a Cy Young Award as the league's best pitcher, and that he's within hailing distance of consideration for baseball's Hall of Fame. (In point of fact, he has carried the Cardinals this season, and has for several years now, despite celebrating his 41st birthday about 2 months ago.) You can't say enough about Yadier Molina. Once considered a light-hitting catcher, he's just finished his regular season career with a batting mark of .2

I'm "Non-Affirming": An Explanation

 This covers homosexuality/gender non-conformity, and anything related you can think of. Why? It starts with this simple assertion: Our bodies and our organs are for something, and that something is not exhausted in personal pleasure.  Sex is for creation. To be more specific, procreation. That's what it's for. To create new people is the reason we've been given this gift. To be sure, it gives pleasure. Most likely because people will not always do the things we ought to do, if none of it was pleasant. Why does it matter? If we were to say that "parents" were any two people, and that a "family" is whatever we say it is, we necessarily say   that the traditional view is wrong. Suppose we all chose to believe this, and acted accordingly. The human race would cease to exist. It's no longer about being tolerant of a rare variation; if various radicals are correct, everything we ever believed in is wrong. But we know better. We are seeing that transgender

I Love The Diverse Re-Boots

 I had to stop watching the Twitter thread of the little Black girls, watching the trailer for next year's re-boot of "The Little Mermaid." It really does matter, and you can see it in their faces. I had to stop, because I had to teach; I can't be crying in the middle of the school day. (And if we are honest, "The Little Mermaid" could benefit the most from a re-imagining. Be honest with us, and yourself.) It got me thinking back to high school, when Disney re-did "Cinderella," live-action, with a predominantly Black cast, including my first celebrity crush, Brandy Norwood--noted R&B singer and actress generally known simply as, "Brandy." I watched it less than 2 years ago; it was like I was 17 again. I love her. The End. Anyway, in those simpler times,--before everything folks didn't like was "woke,"-- most people went, "Wait, what? We've never had a Black Cinderella?" And it was pretty great. Pete's s

Even If They Are "Crazy," They're Right About Marriage

 I haven't watched Fox News intentionally since 2008. It got weird after Obama got elected. By the way, "Some of this criticism is racist, and reflects structural racism" does not mean, "You are a racist," or, "All criticism of Obama is racist." Anyway, sidebar. Apparently, someone made a mistake over there, posting a picture of a couple ostensibly getting married, one dressed as a groom, and the other as a bride. It was part of a piece defending traditional marriage. The only trouble was, the couple are lesbians. And I know how it goes, OK? Fox News says batty things routinely. Our "package deal" partisanship makes it easy to jump on and laugh at everything from hypocrisy to mistakes. But... Marriage can only exist between a biological man, and a biological woman. That's true, and the thing is, even if you want to argue, you know this. It's tragic that in the name of tolerance or inclusivity or whatever you like, that people are wast

Contraception and Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Are Not The Same

 You often hear this sloppy comparison, when regulating abortion is discussed. How are they different? Erectile dysfunction treatment aids reproduction, while contraception by definition thwarts reproduction. According to a traditional sexual ethics, such as you might find in Christianity,--represented most visibly by the Catholic Church--as long as the sexual act(s) are ordered to reproduction, (and the union of the spouses) aids in that process are licit. Of course, such aids can be used illicitly--like Viagra used in service to an orgy--but that's a licit means to an unjust end. On the other hand, contraception has an intention that can be just--the prevention of pregnancy--but the means thwarts the design and purpose of the sex organs, and the sexual act. Contraceptive sex is by its very nature fundamentally opposed to the purpose of human sexuality. Moreover, anything that has sexual pleasure as the primary or sole end would be out of bounds. Does this mean that the tradition

Further Thoughts About Life

 One of the interesting things about the regime of legalized abortion under Roe is that we have pretended that “When does life begin?” is an intriguing question for which we do not have an answer. It’s not only that the decision imposed an answer, though it certainly did, but that the answer was wrong. Any other answer besides “at conception” creates huge ethical problems that our most intelligent people can’t solve. Think about what happens when we say the unborn is “potential life”: that means at any time up to birth,—and after—we could argue that there is some achievement of independence or consciousness that the person has yet to reach. Before that, it’s said that there is no problem in killing the product of conception. You’ll have to forgive me; we have to deal frankly with the implications of arguments. We see that “potential life” essentially talks about the living being in terms of its ability to defend itself, or to be defended by someone else. In contrast, the “conception” a

I’m Not Ambivalent About Today

 I’ve heard some left-of-center Christians say something like this, and I confess, I don’t understand it. I was never bruised by the “culture war,” and I am not ashamed of it, except perhaps to say that if total culture war is opposed to living in community, then and only then do I oppose it. Because the fact remains that I have been on the “wrong” or losing side the whole time. To oppose the fight itself would be to say that those who fought had illegitimate concerns. I can’t say that. Truthfully, something is only a “wedge issue” to those who disagree, and lack the courage of their own conviction. I believe this is true for other things as well, but abortion is front and center today. If I have disagreements with the “Christian Right,” it’s over tactics, partisanship, and exaggerated apocalypticism. Moreover, people could simply say, “I value other things more highly,” and move on. Yet it seems that bad faith and posturing is more valued than frank honesty. The people know that popul

Roe and Casey Down

 You don’t need the breaking news; let me get right to the point: “Liberal” Christian, you are more than free to say that some group of politicians doesn’t have a complete view of the world, or even doesn’t actually care about truth or justice, but the only way this decision “has nothing to do with truth or justice” is by excluding the act of aborting a young human from the consideration of what counts as “truth and justice.” In fact, now we can get back to arguing in justice about what human dignity deserves and requires, especially with respect to an elected government, because the emotional blackmail of poisoning the well in service to child murder has been (largely) removed. And understand that the pro-life cause as a political movement has sought exactly this, because laws forbid and create barriers to something undesirable. The hardships faced by women seeking abortion in the process of seeking one are part of the point: a merely symbolic law doesn’t function as a law. That’s why

Babies In The Womb Are People

 I want all the kids to be safe at school. But even if "the government is bold enough to force you to have a kid, but not keep them safe at recess," you can't grandstand about kids, if you're only advocating for them to die sooner. Elective abortion is the weak point in the whole "progressive" project, precisely because human dignity shines through, demanding the person of conscience defend it in all cases.

A Few Thoughts About Guns (Again)

 I wasn't going to say anything public about the tragedy in Uvalde, TX, or about gun rights/control, but I noticed my friend Bryan Cross had added to a thread about school shootings, and I had a thought worth sharing, I think. In terms of my feelings, I will only say that I intend to intercede for all concerned, appropriately, as is my Christian duty, when death comes for any and all of us. I'm sad in the way that lingers beyond a momentary outpouring of emotion. I am seeing their little faces, and imagining them, when I don't necessarily want to. Beyond that, my thought is this: we often hear this trite piece of garbage when shootings happen: "We don't have a gun problem; we have a sin problem." Let's actually take this seriously, and then think about it thusly:  If people and the culture at large are less virtuous, it would make sense not to allow bad people (which Christians assert at various times to be all of us) unlimited access to death-dealing weap

The Intensity Of A Great Love

 Palm Sunday, 2022. I went to church, and I recall thinking that it was very emotional. I remember one moment during Holy Communion, and I got a picture in my mind of the crown of thorns. Jesus pierced with the crown of thorns. I have said before that it seems as though Jesus likes to look right at me, with the same intensity and the same love that he had for Peter, when Peter had denied him three times. The compassion that cuts you to the very heart. In some real sense, I am not Peter. But if Jesus can look upon me with compassion, in a way similar to what he did with Peter, I have no right to deny Him, to tell him that his mercy is no good here. We don't recognize the more subtle form of pride, which fears the judgment of God. That is what it is, if in fact we have believed, and we are courageous enough to accuse ourselves before his tribunal of mercy. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." But that is the great tragedy of life, wh

I Would Vote To Confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

 She's one of the most qualified nominees in our history, perhaps the most qualified. Her experience as a public defender is a huge plus for me. She attended public school, before making her way to Harvard. She's paid her dues as a judge, doing all the things we should want Supreme Court nominees to do. The fact that I might disagree with many of her rulings is beside the point. Is she qualified, and free of major temperamental concerns? Yes. These things are always a circus, but all I needed from Judge Jackson was the assurance that she understands the limitations upon her power come from the text of the Constitution itself. When she said this herself, I was assured.  I generally believe that the president is entitled to deference in these matters, absent a major concern. Our Senators like to hear themselves talk, and rarely ask anything informative. They could illuminate the differences in judicial philosophies, informing the public, instead of inflaming them. I would probabl

To The Last

 I’m spending my next few days in the hospital, and it’s been a lot already. Don’t worry; my problems are orthopedic. Anyway, there’s a rhythm to hospital life that I don’t think exists anywhere else. Maybe prison is the same way, in the sense that you are not totally in charge of your life. Someone says, “You must do this,” and you do it. One of the irritating and possibly painful aspects of it is the frequent blood draws. Every now and again, if you go to your doctor in the course of ordinary life, she may request this. But in a hospital, it’s much more frequent. I have admired some recent roommates, in their chutzpah to refuse medications and blood draws. It’s all technically voluntary, but personally, if a doctor who seems competent asks me for blood, or to take a drug for my well-being, it’s not proud hero-guy time. I beg your indulgence if it’s too fast a transition, but Jesus didn’t refuse any of the humiliation and violence that culminated in the Cross. He did it all willingly,

Thoughts On The State Of The Union

 I’m receptive to the idea that it’s a pointless partisan exercise, gilded with fake pageantry and dignity. But in light of the fact that the corrosion of civil society is partially aided by the cynicism concerning the same, I wanted to watch and listen. The first 12 minutes roughly was about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There is a large amount of agreement between our leaders on both sides, and the president ably pointed it out. I have deep concerns that these sanctions are simply going to hurt Russian citizens, and not Putin or his enablers. I don’t think war is ever preferable, but we shouldn’t think economic sanctions are cost-free. I have to say that I don’t have strong opinions about traditional economics, but when the president turned to domestic policy, a little voice kept replying, “I don’t know if that’s going to work.” There’s an inherent tension it seems, between economic growth, and the shift to renewable energy. From a moral perspective, I think policymakers should si

This Virus Is Still Really Bad

 I checked the COVID cases and deaths this morning. Over 2,200 people already, dead. I hear people saying that we're overreacting, that somehow, we're "living in fear." I just have to suppose that some folks cannot handle "9-11" nearly every day. What mental gymnastics do you have to do, to persuade yourself that it's "no big deal"? I've had 3 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, so I'm not overly concerned about being harmed personally. What I did, I did partly for others. I've lost a lot of friends and loved ones in this life, and suddenly. Death comes for us; it is our fate in this world, we could say. I don't understand why we would want to bring it more quickly, and for no sensible reason. A lot of my friends and family are just stubborn, gullible, or some combination of both, I guess. If that offends you, good. I'm over 40; if people's love for me is conditional at this point, I don't need them. We won't be here fo